I'm getting by without having anywhere to stage games but I can't keep the old urges at bay for that long so have started a new project in a smaller scale.
I was fascinated by Stalingrad when I first read about it in the 1960s. But it was such a big affair- hundreds of thousands of soldiers involved and a ruined city over 20 miles long. It has always seemed beyond reach for wargaming as the odd unconnected skirmish level games didn't do it for me. Now I have transitioned to realising something more representative of that great, war changing, struggle might be possible, yet still keeping the character of individual figures and street fighting. I played WW2 with "Rapid Fire!" rules for over 15 years and always admired the concept of a game size (brigade level and above) that gives a sense of history based on real battle reports. Also the generally "old school" rule mechanisms can be easily understood and quickly applied.
With 20mm figures my 9 feet x 5 feet table often did not seem big enough though - isn't it always the case for us wargamers! Added to which having a good selection of troops and vehicles and terrain was a big investment in money and space. So, late in life, I've been casting round and discovered 1:144 scale, N gauge, or 12mm figure size, call it what you will. I find there is a reasonable range of models from Miniature Figurines, via Caliver Books, from Pendraken, and some from Wargames South . Inevitably, price, size and quality varies so I'm still experimenting. So I'm planning to use "Rapid Fire!" with modifications to suit Stalingrad and my own local group's preferences, but halving all the distances should work with 1:144 being half the usual 1:72 scale which RF was designed for.
I very much like the MiniFigs range as they are slim and elegant and good value. So far I've just painted and based some Germans, mainly infantry and I've got many more vehicles, and of course Russians still to come.
First here is a selection largely taken from the pack of "German personalities" which features Generals and staff around a couple of tables with a squad of infantry in suitable guard positions. There is also a motorcycle dispatch rider. In the foreground are two infantry guns with crews.
This one shows the basic infantry which come in a selection of advancing and firing positions with rifles and sub-machine guns. They are supported in this photo by an MG mounted in a rather fine SdKfz 251 half track.
A support weapons pack comes well equipped with LMGs, MMGs and mortars with crews. Above from right to left - MMG crew kneeling, LMG team lying firing and a couple I've converted to an OP team with radio.
I've taken a selection from the support teams to put together a company of engineers or pioneers, and added sundry bits of metal and plastic to represent explosives, mines or ammunition boxes. The pack has several flamethrowers which will be very useful for Stalingrad where German pioneer battalions were always in the front line.
I'll finish for the moment with another look at those infantry guns. I'm using limbers from the Pendraken range but I suspect there is scope for acquiring limbers and wagons from a variety of other 12mm ranges. I think the Pendraken are a large 10mm and so far I only have vehicles, but I've ordered some infantry and will see how they fit in.
If anyone has experience of using "Rapid Fire!" with 1:144 scale, or any other suggestions on this kind of project while I'm starting out please let me know - either comment here or email me - Chris Gregg
In the next posting I'll explain more about my scratch built ruins.