Sunday 28 February 2010

Sturmgesshutz-Abteilung 200 (Major Becker)

One of the proposed units for my 21st Panzer Kampfgruppe is Major Becker's unit, the Sturmgesshutz-Abteilung 200. After reading Colonel Hans Von Luck's memoirs, I discovered that three batteries of this Abteilung were attached to Luck's Kampfgruppe for the attack on Escoville, Ranville and the Orne bridges. Also the whole of (or what remained of) the Abteilung was part of Luck's Kampfgruppe during Operation Goodwood. I think I will build this whole unit, not just one or two companies. But what was the actual composition of this unit?

The information on this unit within the Rapid Fire rules set is a little confusing. In their 1944-45 Unit organization lists they state that the Assault Gun Group consists of 2 x Hotchkiss 105mm and 2 x Hotchkiss 75mm AT. This would equate, at Rapid Fire's vehicle ratio of 1:5, to 20 vehicles per company. I've always had a problem with this and not fully sure what this term 'Group' actually represented?

This is my Rapid Fire Assualt Gun Group of 2 x Hotchkiss 75mm AT and 2 x Hotchkiss 105mm, which were painted a while ago.

I've also searched on the web and found Spearhead's composition for the 21st Panzer Division (found here at To back this up, the German records (found here at show that there were 10 or 12 vehicles in each company. Using this information means that each company in Rapid Fire should consist of 1 x 105mm and 1 x 75mm Hotchkiss vehicles? ...... Interestingly this is the same ratio that the Spearhead rules seem to use.

These entries on a WWII forum are also interesting, they give a little background to Major Becker and the creation of this and other units. The posting can be found here at : I've copied the relevent entries below, just incase the entry on this forum vanishes.

........Major Alfred Becker, a First World War veteran and mechanical engineer, was heavily involved in the conversion of captured vehicles from 1940.
In 1942 he converted captured French carriers into the 15cm (Sf) Lorraine Schlepper self-propped gun, which meet with great approval from the OKH. These were shipped to Afrika to supplement Rommel’s forces in the desert.
Towards the end of 1942 he was transferred to France to devise ways of utilising various captured French vehicles. Becker’s engineering staff set about their work and were soon pumping out a variety of innovative designs. From 1943 he started to convert the Hotchkiss H35 and 39 light tanks to mount a 7.5cm PaK40 or 10.5cm leFH16 as an assault gun. In the summer of 1943 he was given command of the 200. Sturmgesch├╝tzabteilung, part of the rebuilding 21. Panzerdivision, which he equipped with the new assault guns. By the time of the Allied invasion in June 1944 he had built the StuG abteilung up to five batteries of 10 vehicles (4x 7.5cm PaK40 and 6x 10.5cm leFH16 each). Becker was however more than just a simple engineer. In 1914 he had won the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd class, and during the fighting Poland had added the 1939 Bar to each of his crosses (commanding the 15. Batterie, 227. Artillerie-Regiment, 227. Infanterie-Regiment). For his inventive use of captured vehicles he was awarded the War Merit Cross 1st Class with Swords and by 1945 had earned himself a Knight’s Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords.........

Another posting from the same thread:

........ One single person (Hpt. Alfred Becker, 227. ID (Artillery) was in charge ot the salvage the whole French captured AFV's. He collected the scrap in one place and did a triage with the vehicles:
1. Minor repairs and refits
2. Major repair and refits
3. Spare parts source

The the vehicles where repaired by importance all of one type in one step. All remaining spare parts where stored away. What was left was shipped back to the steelworks.
The Wehrmacht had only on Alfred Becker, so most captured vehicles in Russia where doomed!

Alfred Becker was an interesting guy. He started the war in the west with his Batterie (12.) horsepowered. After reaching the first dutch artillery depot on the way of 227. ID he equiped his Batterie and the recon element of 227. ID with motorized vehicles.
OK, motorized is fine, but mechanized is better. So Becker started to refit his Batterie with SPA's (!!!) (BY HIMSELF, WITH AN ARCWELDER !!!! ). After 6 month the FIRST armored artillery Battery of the German Wehrmacht was combat ready (without one vehicle build by a professional manufacturer!!!). The armoured artillery vehicle was composed from Vickers Mk.6 under-carriages with 10,5cm Feldhaubitze 16.
After that Becker was instantly transfered to Alkett to help this armourworks build a SPA on a French Lorain ammo-carrier.
In 1942/3 Becker salavaged all usable tank wreckage he found in France as described above. Now his unit was called "Baustab Becker". His production output (more than 1800 tanks and other Vehicle) was used to form "verstarkte schnelle Brigade West". Becker was also simultaniously commanding officer of Sturmgesch├╝tz-Abt. 200 (later Sturmpanzer-Abt. 200)............

In hindsight, I think that Rapid Fire's Assault Gun Group's makup for the Sturmgesshutz-Abteilung 200 is more to do with the points value given to the Hotchkiss vehicles within their rule set and the need to create balanced forces. I've also been wrongly understanding the term Group to mean Company.

My makeup for the unit is going to be:
1 x Leicht Schutzenpanzerwagen U304(f) - Unic Kegresse P107 (fitted with Radio equipment?)
2 x 4.7cm Pak (t) auf PzKampfwagen 35R(f) ohne turm (QRF models GFF03)
1 x PAK 40 + truck tow (probably a French truck)
4 companies of
1 x 75mm PAK40(Sf) auf Geshutzwagen 39H(f)
1 x 105mm leFH18(Sf) auf Geshutzwagen 39H(f)

I've now just got to puchase a few extra vehicles get the rest of the unit painted...............

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Lead mountain update

Thought I'd better try and get to grips with the 'Honorable Lead Hoarder Vow' again so I've been looking though my stock of lead.

I can't remember buying much since my last update in May 09 apart from 62 Napoleonic Austrian infantry figures, a pack of Old Glory Austrian artillery (6 guns + 25 figures) then from Peter Pig, 24 German infantry figures, 1 SdKfz 251 and 3 WWII buildings. This amounts to a negative Hoarder Total of 122 castings.

Since Christmas I have sold 154 castings and painted/finished 64. OK not enough painting but the Lead Mountain is still going in the right direction. I think a more concerted effort is needed.

The Vow has been updated

Friday 19 February 2010

First game of the year!!!

We both needed a game fix so a quick one was organised. Not very involved just a WWII pickup style game. Mark had recently finished a British Parachute battalion and was in need to unleash them. So a far fetched British and US combined parachute drop operation, on the morning of D-Day, to capture a bridge was quickly thought of. This would also enable me to evaluate whether I sell or keep my fledgling American 82nd force which I'd purchased on a bit of a whim last year.

Back to basics for the gaming table, just a green cloth with a few building and walls. A couple of small woods were added which didn't play a part in the game. The parachute drop went fairly well for the Allies with just a few casualties but they lost some heavy equipment (mortars and medium machine guns). The first three turns were played using the night time rules so observation and movement were reduced. A die was thrown for each German company to see which ones were woken by the aircraft and therefore could observe and fire on the first turn.

British Paratroopers cross a wall to get behind the emplacement, as the American are just about to occupy the building opposite. This was a bad loss for the Germans loosing half a Company (4 figures) to only one American casualty.

The remaining German half company, ousted by the Americans, make it over the bridge on the next turn, just as the company of half tracks are roused and decide to get in the action.

The German force was eventually pushed out of the other building but it took nearly half of the British battalion and the Americans had to finish it off. At the end of the game the two American companies were making a dash across the bridge. Another turn could have seen them take it along with occupying either the church or the building.

A good game with minimal forces was just what we need to get back into the rules. It has me thinking about what happened next for a follow up game, either later on the same day or the next day. Maybe some Glider troop reinforcements then a German counter attack......

Saturday 13 February 2010

Fallshirmjager 2nd Battalion

These figures were painted about 5 years ago while on an enjoyable holiday in the Lake District. The routine was to paint for a few hours in the morning, while my partner was writing, then go out late morning early afternoon for walks and enjoying the scenery. Perfect holiday I seem to remember.....

All the castings below are from the Peter Pig range of 15mm WWII figures .

2nd Battalion HQ

5th - 6th - 7th Companies

8th (Heavy) Company

15th Company (Pioneer/Engineer)

I've marked this as the 2nd battalion as my intention was not to motorise this unit but after recently picking up the Rapid Fire D-Day scenario book I may have to add a little bit of transport for the HQ. According to the scenario book, in Normandy, the Fallshirmager 6th Regiment's 1st battalion was motorised with French trucks; only the 2nd and 3rd battalions HQ had transport (a Kubelwagen and Kettenkraftrad). They have also included a 150mm infantry gun to each heavy company, which I don't think I will add just yet.......not at the pace I paint anyway........I still have another battalions worth of figures to paint....................think I need another holiday in the Lakes like the one 5 years ago!!!!

Tuesday 2 February 2010

StuG III Company

Reading through this blog I've realised I haven't posted any pictures of the latest additions to my German Infantry Kampfgruppe. I've still got a little way to go to complete it as there are two artillery battalions and a tow for the 120mm Infantry gun to paint. I'm hoping the posting of pictures of the latest additions will motivate me to finish the outstanding elements and I can finally finish this Kampfgruppe.

As mentioned elsewhere I use Rapid Fire rules with 15mm figures. For this Kampgruppe I'm following the Divisional makeup as suggested in version 2 of the rule book. The only variation is the inclusion of an Assault Gun Company as an optional extra. A document showing the Kampfgruppe's composition can be found here

Below is the German Assault Gun Company with two 75mm and one 105mm StuG IIIs. When required, the two 75mm StuGs can be used as the 14th (Anti Tank) Company replacing the Pak 40 and 8 Panzerchrecke figures. Otherwise, along with the 105mm StuG, they can be used as an additional unit attached to the Kampfgruppe in an infantry support roll.

I do like to create storage trays for my models. These are marked up with small descriptive labels that help anyone identify what the units are. These trays also help to keep the figures and vehicles tidily together when stored in my drawers and make it easier to pick out specific units for games.

It's about time I put some German crosses on the sides of these StuGs.........some extra storage items might be nice as well......just when I thought these were finished.......
I have been wargaming for 10 years in which time I have finally settled on two eras, Napoleonic and WWII, both in 15mm (1:100). Most of my ramblings will be about gaming in these two eras. An attempt will be made to record my wargaming interests, building of armies, ideas, interests and hopefully some games played.