Welcome to Platoon Forward!

Welcome to the site where the story of the battle is as important as the battle itself. Here we will focus on men thrust into extraordinary situations of life and death. They must lead other men with duty and honor to meet their countries objectives. Some will be blessed with great skill, some will carry great shortcomings. No matter what nation, no matter what war, no matter what theater, they are all called to move their Platoon or Squadron forward!

These are their individual stories as played out using my various campaign rules . Hopefully these stories will entertain and inspire you to use your own troops, airmen and sailors to accomplish your own great heroics.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The 8th Inf defends the Mittlekopf, 1988

Finally got in some game time and played something besides Cruel Seas.  Played my hybrid FoF/ CP.  Decided on a old fashion US Soviet confrontation.  Needed to roll up an american squad for Platoon Forward.  Always a big deal for me as I like to research the unit.  Wanted this unit to conceivably be able to fight the Russians, east Germans and Czechoslovakians.  The 8th infantry was fully mechanized and had a brigade down south near the czech border.  Perfect!

Welcome to my newest platoon! The Pathfinders.   I will focus on the 2nd squad.  
They are led by Sgt Jackson from outside of Detroit.  He is pragmatic and a good squad leader.  First fireteam responsible for the dragon is in the capable hands of Cpl Hanks; another small town boy but he is from Iowa. He is a generous soul and well liked by the squad. ( +1) Lastly, we have Cpl Reyes from the Philippines where he worked as a mechanic. He is a bit older at 29 and joined the army to get US citizenship.  As he has more life experience than everyone else in the squad. He has a haughty air about him which doesn't endear himself to the squad. (-1)  Probably because he grew up dirt poor he blows all his money living for the moment.  They are led by Lt Fitzworth.  A ROTC grad from Rutgers.  He did ROTC to pay for school but while he is in the army he is going to do the best he can.  He believes in the government but his optimistic outlook on all things, even the army BS has clicked with the platoon.  ( +1).
This will be there first test!  [ note I will only be using 2 US squads most of the time as they should be outnumbered and the game bogs down with more than 5 squads on the board.   Also for those of you using Platoon Forward for WW III  any infantry squad automatically comes with a track and I add 2 additional "c" blinds for russian armor.  In addition, to simulate the heavy russian use of tanks a 7+ on the C blind table is a tank. you of course can modify this for the situation.]  I rolled up defend hasty attack.  The US has been in position for hours.  Missed armor by 1 so I let it come in as reinforcements.  They missed a helo but did get artillery.  I gave them a 120mm mortar.  I rolled up the russians as per scenario.

This was it.  They had moved up to combat positions yesterday and word had comedown that Ivan had crossed the border today.   2 hours earlier the LT had moved them up to Mittlekopf to set up blocking positions should Ivan punch through.  Mittlekopf hill controlled the surrounding road network and Ivan would have to take it before he moved past. 

The battlefield.   Mittlekopf to the left.   Russians enter right and top.  Autobahn off the map below.  Stream is fordable but 50% chance wheeled of vehicles getting bogged.

Lt Fitzworth placed 1st squad on the hill with Sgt Jackson his best leader.  He placed 2nd squad with Sgt Hanks in the building lower left.  He stayed with Hanks.  He acted as F.O. for the mortars and pre registered on the building in the center in front of the hill.

1st squad on Mittlekopf.  Cpl Reyes lower with the LMG.  Jackson above with the dragon.  A vulcan waits nearby.  

2nd squad with the dragon team dug in near the wooden building.

A nosy Ivan comes by.  He spots Cpl Reyes on the hill and opens fire...

The vulcan next door answers! 

The first elements of the Soviet attack enter.  Amazingly no pre attack bombardment.  { soviets missed the roll so they automatically got a hind.  That rolled a 4 so came in as part of their reinforcements.} This column must have been moving fast!  Outstripped their arty and almost their aviation. 

As the first soviet tank comes over the bridge Cpl Hank's team lets loose a missile.  It misses.

Dragon accuracy for both squads is poor as the lead Soviet BMP stops in front of the Mittlekopf to unload.  

Forward to victory!

2nd squad's dragon team being shelled by a soviet tank.

Sgt Jackson was dismayed as the platoon's missiles scored no hits against the soviets.  They rolled right up to the hill and began shelling.  BMPs discharged infantry that began organizing.  " I hope the LT has a plan because this doesn't look good."  Then he heard rotors...

...and things got even worse!  

The vulcan had backed down off the hill already but opened up against this new threat.  A M901 had showed up but had it's tracks blown off by a soviet tank.  The hind fired several missiles but for some reason...

went after the squads track instead of the squad on the hill.  [ actually it fired at the hill and missed.]

Sgt Jackson didn't see but an Abrams showed up and the hind sent a missile...

that managed to disable it's main gun.  So much for US tank support! 

Meanwhile 2nd squad was having problems.  The dragon team had pulled back and was being rallied by Sgt Hanks. 

This hind did not want to leave!  As the soviet infantry moved towards Cpl Reyes and the hill the hind moved forward as if to strafe.  Sgt Jackson felt as if they were to be overrun but the helo fired a missile at the vulcan instead.    Cpl Reyes, with some crossfire from second squad, managed to keep the first soviet squad at bay.

First squad being shelled by 2 tanks as infantry try to advance.  The dragon team are now riflemen with the infantry so close.  With 3 lightly wounded and 1 WIA in the squad, Sgt Jackson moves down to Cpl Reyes position to steady them for the inevitable close combat. 

Close up of the squad.

Meanwhile I got a random event that sent Lt Fitzworth on a flanking maneuver.  So, he sees the dire position that Sgt Jackson is in, and despite the low odds of success, decides to go over to the hill to be with his men.  [ what a guy!]

The Lt moving towards Mittlekopf!

Not a good picture but Sgt Jackson down with Cpl Reyes as they continue to hold off not one but now a second soviet squad! 

Sgt Jackson has never seen so many Soviet soldiers in front of him as he keeps yelling for everyone to keep firering.  [ Okay, he had never seen any soviet soldiers but let him have his moment!]
Suddenly he hears footsteps and almost shoots as...

Lt Fitzworth shows up with the medic!  " You seem popular with the russians today Sgt Jackson." says the LT.    

As a second russian squad becomes pinned the russian attack falters.  They pull back behind the house.  Sgt Jackson can't believe it!

The Soviet Lt is quiet upset that his attack has failed! 

Great battle!  I thought for sure Jackson was going to lose the hill or at least get into some bloody hand to hand combat.  Amazingly the russian infantry kept getting pinned everytime they tried to get onto high ground.  Artillery was definitely needed.  Very cool that the Lt came over as well. 

Post battle I rolled to increase Cpl Reyes leadership as he did well but failed so he is poor.  In addition the fireteam was not impressed so they are still neutral to him.  The squad lost no men so are still at full strength.  The won the battle and gain an extra vehicle next mission. 
For those of you that want to try this battle Platoon Forward generated a soviet platoon and 3 tanks pus 1 recon vehicle.  I had the first 2 squads average and the last squad poor.

Pathfinders lead the way!



Thursday, May 9, 2019

Conversion to a Romanian gunboat

Not much time to play games as of late.  But am taking on the challenge of making a Romanian navy for cruel seas.  [ for those of you that are tired of naval posts, I hope to play a Force on Force battle this weekend set in cold war NATO.] They had 4-6 MTBs and 2 flaklighters so those are easy.  The 2 DDs I don't have to worry about.  Their 2 gunboats caught my eye.  They were active in the black sea protecting convoys and during the evacuation of Sevastopol in 1944 even sank several russian MTBs.  Perfect for coastal gaming!  They were armed with 2 4 inch guns with a top speed of 15 knots and displaced about 450 tons loaded.  What to use...  Hey the russian Fugas minesweeper has a 4 in gun forward and displaces about the same tonnage.
Main differences   ( I don't know how to load pictures from the web that is why there aren't any in this post.  sorry )  Fugas                                     Locotenent-Comandor Stihi
                            1 4 in Forward  40mm aft           1 4in forward     1 4 in aft
                             main mast slanted diagnoally      main mast straight
                             fitted for minesweeping               not fitted for minesweeping
                             straight funnel                             slanted funnel
                             funnel mid ship                           funnel not midship

Except for the funnel I thought I could convert the rest.  Here is that story.

First, need to get rid of all the minesweeping vanes.  These 2 are sanded off 


Now the vanes are the deck were more of a challenge.  I could have sanded them off but would have taken a long time and the deck would have looked irregular.  Why not cover them with a tarp?  How do you make a tarp in 1/300 scale you ask?

You see the vanes on the deck we have to cover.  Upper right is some gauze I soaked for a dessert project that was left over.  Since I don't want netting I leave the gauze in undiluted dark gray paint and end up with the gauze on the left.  Trim to fit and I have a tarp! 

Tarp covering the vanes.   Ignore the gun; we will come back to that.

Glue the mast straight instead of slanted; not that hard.  [ actually the mast should have been in front of the bridge for purists.  That just looked too dumb and I couldn't bring myself to do it; but it is straight behind the bridge.]  Here is the hard part; I want to flag it for Romania but also want to be able to flag it for Finland as they had a similar gunboat.  I need a removable flag and this mast has no crosspost. 
First cut a small piece of card or sandpaper, poke a hole in it and slide it down the mast.  Paint it.

Sandpaper to hold my Romanian and Finnish flags.

Next cut a small strip of paper thinner than the flag and loop it so it will slide down the mast.  Slide it down the mast and paint it.

Print out your historically researched flag.  [ This one courtesy  of Alex Danes and Razva Pala.] If it is not accurate your ships starts out with 30 points of damage! 

Glue the 2 far ends of the flag together leaving the near ends  open.  The near ends will be attached to the loop you made earlier and is already sitting on the mast.

It should look like this when you are done!  The flag is glued to the loop and the loop slides on and off easily. 

On to the aft gun.    First you have to purchase the additional weapons pack from Warlords.  Buy the German one as their Raum boat has the incorrect guns and you can fix it with this pack.  I can show you how.  You will also be able to update the raum, and S boats easily.  If you are big into the Fairmile Ds then get the British one.  Those guns on the model are late war only so you can do authentic early war actions with the pack.

First drill a hole with the appropriate drill.  You can hand drill this.  It doesn't have to be deep!

Next take a small magnet and glue into the hole so it is flush with the deck.  Sand down the base of the large deck gun from the weapons pack and glue a magnet on there also.  Make sure you get the polarity correct!  [ tip make sure both magnets are level.  If not the gun won't rotate correctly. Trust me I know]

Magnet glued into place for our 4 inch gun.  You could paint if, as on the raum boat, there would be times when there would not be a gun in place. 

Aft gun in place.  It will rotate nicely and be secure.  

In regards to uniforms.  The Romanian navy had dark blue jumpers with a jean color collar that had 3 white strips on it.  Note the gun crew above.  No I didn't paint the three white strips on the collar!  Officers wore a dark blue uniform with gold braid. 

Our gunboat on her shakedown cruise.  Bombarding russian positions.  I applied a 4 color splinter camo paint scheme that they used on their bigger [ gunboats and above] ships. 

A view of the bridge. 

For gamers wanting to include this ship it also carried 2 HMGs on the wings of the bridge.  It appears that these were replaced by 20mm guns at some point during the war.  For my purposes glueing the HMGs into place will do fine.  I will probably say in 1943 these will be 20mm. 

Start of my ship card.   Speed will only be 15 knots.  For those of you that will play my variant Tumultuous Seas, this ship will probably have 150 hps. 

Hopefully you found that interesting and maybe helpful.  If you want to convert a Romanian MTB that is easy...

Put a flag on one of your vospers!  [ purists note their should be a single mg aft.]