Thursday, 25 April 2013

Brecourt Manor Gun Position (Part2)

The following show progress so far on the boards. At present they look more like a moon scape than a field in Normandy.

The model gun and paratrooper figure are there purely to give an idea of scale. I've carved out two MG nests at the rear of the board, and now the boundaries are marked out, the distance from the battery position will ensure that the MG positions will be a nuisance without hopefully unbalancing the game. The edging around the trenches needs to be sanded and then filler applied to smooth off/round off the banks.

 I decided to have two entrances into the area. One can be clearly seen in the third photo. Just to the left of what will become the first gun position. Current photos clearly seen to indicate a gateway to an adjacent field. Not sure if it was there in 1944, but decided to add it anyway. It should probably be slightly more central, but that would have put in directly in front of the first gun position. So a slight re-positioning was in order. The other is through the rear hedge line and is there for foot traffic. Should I decided to have German reserves in a game, it will a useful point for easier entry.

The hedgerow in front of Gun position 1, has had to move forward slightly due to a last minute decision to re-position the MG nest between Gun 1 and Gun 2.

It goes without saying still a lot to do.    

Friday, 12 April 2013

Building the Gun Battery at Brecourt

The following show the first steps in my first ever major project in building a wargames table from scratch. I have since the beginning of the year been purchasing the materials (and models) required to replicate this now famous action which took place on 6th June 1944.

To begin with I have made four wooden frames and then cut down some 600x600x25mm styrofoam boards to fit inside the frame. The following photos are not great but show the boards with the gun positions marked out (Hopefully the pen/pencil marks can be made out).

The off cuts of styrofoam are there to illustrate where the hedgerow/tree line will be. On the first photo I have not marked out the rear hedgerow which would contain the MG nests).

On this photo the rear hedgerow is represented by offcuts. At the moment I'm veering towards building in the  rear hedgerow with two MG nests in front of it to protect the gun battery. Using my ground scale of 1 inch= 2metres, the furthest MG nest would be about 80metres/yards away. So perhaps slightly closer than in reality, but it will mean I can contain the whole scene on a 4ftx4ft board. Though I will not be able to place on 'Lipton's tree'.

Next will be to cut out the trenches, and start to add in the details.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Gun Battery at Brecourt

So how was the German battery at Brecourt Manor laid out? Well I have seen several variations on a theme, but the general consensus is that the four guns were placed so three were facing towards the East (approximate), to fire on Utah Beach, with the fourth facing North. The best illustration is the following;

This is based on a sketch plan drawn by Lt. Winters, and interestingly marks out five German MG positions protecting the rear of the gun position. The scale on the plan is approximately 1/2 inch=100yards. This would mean the gun battery is spread out roughly over a 200yard frontage; the distance to the MG nests from the gun battery at the widest point is 150yards. But even more remarkable is the point marked 'Lipton's Tree', which is some 300yards from the nearest gun! Which if taking into account 'Band of Brothers' TV series, Lipton is armed with a M1A1 Carbine. The effective combat range of that weapon is 300yards!


This sketch plan can be found in the excellent 'D-Day with the Screaming Eagles' by George E. Koskimaki. Now I'm not faulting the sketch plan (it is after all a sketch plan!), but since I intend to make a model of the gun position to play out the assault by Easy Company, I obviously need to have an idea of the layout of the German position and approximate scale.

The ruleset of choice for WW2 skirmish action is the TooFatLardies 'Troops, Weapons & Tactics' (though perhaps to be superseded by the imminent release of 'Chain of Command'). The ground scale given in TW&T is 1inch=2yards. This means that that the gun battery would have to be placed on a frontage of some 100 inches, with Lipton's 'tree' being some 150 inches away! So that would be a board approximately 250 inches in length (just over 24ft), with a width of say 75 inches (just over 6ft). Not really practical for a skirmish game. Now another plan I found, shows the layout thus;

So here 1inch=50m, but I'll take a few liberties and convert that so 1metre=1yard (I'll stick with Imperial measurements for consistency). The battery now has  a frontage of about 150yards (I'm refering to the three guns firing on Utah Beach). The MG nests in the hedgerow behind are about 100yards away. Liptons 'tree' is about 50yards away. Again using the 1inch=2yards rule, the length of the board would be 100inches (or about 8ft), with a width of 50inches (so just over 4ft); better but still a large gaming table. N.B. This second sketch plan is very similar (or vice versa) to the plan which appears in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy No60 and the article on the attack and its gaming possibilities.

Ambrose, in 'Band of Brothers' describes the field containing the gun battery as irregular in shape with seven acute angles. This would appear to be this field;

The additions are my own, though a search on the web will reveal that this field has been identified as the site of the gun battery. Brecourt Manor is marked by the A. Le Grand Chemin is under the E.Co. bubble. The D913 leads SW to St. Marie du Mont. Despite visiting Normandy in 2011, I did not go to Brecourt Manor, but did visit St Marie du Mont and the museum at 'Deads Man Corner' (both well worth visiting), so I'm going to have to go on others opinion/knowledge that is the correct field.

Now realistically I have no intention of making the whole field in 28mm to game the assault on the gun battery. But what to include, what to leave out? What I have decided is to build a 4ft by 4ft board, and to place on that the four gun positions with hedgerows to the front. At the moment I intend to leave off Lipton's 'tree' and I'm undecided about the MG nests to the rear of the battery. I mentioned above the Lardies forth coming WW2 skirmish rules 'Chain of Command'. Now during one of the promo videos, a ground scale of 1inch=3yards is mentioned, so if I used that ground scale the area I propose to use for the model would equal approximately 150yards by 150yards.

The main area of contention is the MG positions protecting the rear of the battery. If I place them on the boards will they appear to be to close? I am considering making a couple of other boards which can be added if required, so the hedgerows with the machine guns would be placed on them. My main area of focus is the gun battery and the close assault by Easy Company. I've pretty much decided I do not want to have large areas of open (dead) ground which will probably play little or no part in the game. I am after all planning a game using 28mm figures/terrain to represent this small unit action. So for the sake of playability, liberties will have to be taken.