fredag 12 juni 2015

Doing a headcount.

As I mentioned previously I happened to aquire some Wargames Foundry German infantry -- a friend gave them to me, honestly -- and was thinking about how to use them. I then bought the Warlord Games German engineers to use the engineery bits to convert Perry DAK figures into... yes, engineers.

A good start for a platoon, although there are far too many officers!
So, my plan is to use the left over Warlord figures along with the Foundry figures to build an early war platoon. Not sure what I'm going to use it for, but I do have some early war British infantry and if Thomas buys the Home guard he has promised to, we can play Operation Seelöwe, the (planned but not executed) invasion of Great Britain.

However, I wasn't sure exactly how many figures I needed for an early war platoon, and when reading up on it a bit it varies quite a lot between the invasion of Poland in 1939 ) and Fall Gelb, the invasion of the low countries and France 1940. I don't know what organisation they used during the invasion of Denmark and Norway, but it's bound to be one or the other. In the interest of flexibility and be able to adapt my platoon to various different historical scenarios I plan to paint enough figures to be able to switch between 1939 and 1940 platoons.

When trying to explain the differences to Thomas he said "you have to do an excel document to understand that" -- but I will do one better, a power point presentation! Or almost. You have to scroll through the pictures yourself.

A German platoon 1939. Note that the squad leaders have rifles and the platoon commander a pistol.
In 1939, the German army was feeling it's way forward really. Platoons were large and rather unwieldy affairs. In Chain of Command they consist of three squads of 13 men including the squad leader and a platoon commander. The squads are broken into a rifle team of 8 men and a MG team of 3 crew plus a rifleman to protect it. The squad NCO's have rifles and there is no integral light mortar -- it was available of course and can be bought as extra support, just not standard. Runners and signallers have been done away with as they are represented by the large command radius of the Platoon Commander, but can be modelled along with the Platoon Commander if one wishes to.

The 1940 platoon. About the same number of men, but a different force altogether.
In 1940 the Wehrmacht had changed. They had recognised that the large squads were hard to use properly on the battlefield and reorganised the platoon into four smaller squads. Each squad is now led by a NCO armed with an MP40 and divided into a six man rifle team and a three man machine gun team.

In Chain of Command the Platoon Commander has been given a Second in Command to assist him. This fellow was probably around during 1939 as well, but to reflect the lack of experienced leaders at the beginning of the war he was omitted in the previous list. In the victorious and veteran 1940 platoon he is able to assist the Leutnant in leading the platoon. (The 50mm mortar is now integral in the platoon but I have kept it out of the diagram for clarity.)

First steps in changing from 1939 to 1940 is removing three riflemen from each squad.
So how can I make the change from 1939 to 1940 as easily as possible, without having to paint a lot of extra figures?

  • The 1939 platoon consists of one officer, three NCO's (with rifles), 27 riflemen, three Machine gunners, and six loaders.
  • The 1940 platoon consists of one officer, one second in command, four NCO's (with MP40), 24 riflemen, four machine gunners and eight loaders.
As we can see three riflemen have to bee dropped from each squad.

After redistributing the riflemen from 1939, these figures have then to be added. (Mortar team not shown.)
To make up the 1940 platoon we take six of the nine riflemen removed and form them into a rifle team for the last squad. We add a three man machine gun team and an NCO to that. The rifle armed NCO's are swapped for MP40-armed NCO's. Finally we add the Second in Command and a mortar team. So in other words, to be able to switch between 1939 and 1940 platoons I need to build and paint eight extra figures. Not impossible. I love it when a plan comes together...

But how about 1941 and onwards? Well, after the start of Barbarossa the platoon shrunk to three squads again, but the squads were the same size. So my 1940 platoon could be used for say the fighting in the Balkans and the early Barbarossa in 1941, before the winter sets in. As the war went on the Germans also figured out that machine guns were their main advantage and started to equip platoons with two machine guns per squad, especially panzergrenadiers and other elite units. So to be able to cater for those variants I would only need two extra machine gun teams. After 1941 the uniforms and other equipment start to change as well though so for the late war I'm better off using other figures entirely though. Luckily for me, I have a bunch of those too!

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this little exercise in number crunching, and happy gaming! 

7 kommentarer:

  1. Great stuff!

    I love building platoons (and companies and battalions).. if only the blighters would paint themselves (and buy themselves too while we are at it)

  2. Very good work and an excellent visual explanation!

    1. Well, as you said, it's hard to understand with just numbers...

  3. Love the visuals mate - absolutely brilliant!

  4. Lots of scope for you to work with here Leif. Nice one.


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