11 March 2011

Early War Polish - 75mm artillery complete

Finished the last 2 artillery pieces yesterday, and I really like these models. I played around with the artillery crews to make each piece look slightly different to create a sense of action - instead of just positioning each crew in a identical fashion. The only thing that is really "off" with these models are the loaders. Look at the artillery ammunition limber and those small projectiles loaded there - and compare it to the huge shell the model is holding in his hands. The 37mm AT gun loader had a much more appropriatly sized shell in his hands compared to the loaders of these guns.

So far  this is the most expensive  unit in my army - at least until the infantry company shows up. This artillery platoon is slightly more expensive than five 7TP tanks.


Speaking about Polish armor , I stumbled across a 30 minute long documentary about Polish tanks and the 10th motorized cavalry brigade on YouTube. Unfortunately it was in Polish with no subtitles so there is not much point of me linking it here. But I learned some pretty interesting stuff, mostly about the 10th motorized brigade - and the Polish OoB in the FoW Blitzkrieg book makes good sense now.

The 10th motorized cavalry brigade was a experiment forced upon the Polish army by a Polish commander Stanislaw Maczek. The cavalry was really not going to abandon their horses and the idea of motorized infantry was met with reluctance. Nevertheless he was able to form the 10th cavalry brigade and was given command over it - and commanded in September 1939.

The 10th motorized cavalry was supposed to rearguard the Krakow army, shielding their backs from invading forces mainly crossing the Polish-Czechoslovakian border. They did not have a single of those modern 7TP tanks. Instead they had the old Vickers tanks A and B. B sporting a 47mm gun, motorcycles and tankettes. They only had 6 tankettes with the 20mm gun! They had 37mm anti tank guns and the idea was to use what tanks they had as "flying reserves". Infantry was supposed to tie up the enemy and tanks come in from the flank to help out. At the outset of the invasion the brigade was outnumbered 10:1 in everything, men and vehicles. The terrain around the Krakow area however favored the defenders who made the best of the situation and somehow managed to keep the Germans at bay in every battle. In one engagement they forced a panzer division of 300+  tanks to fall back while only losing a single Vickers tanks themselves!

The documentary also mentioned the Anti tank rifles, which were a military secret up until the invasion, the distribution of those rifles was not effective - the 10th motorized brigade were supplied with the anti tank rifles the night before their first battle. The documentary also mentioned the special German helmets the 10th motorized infantry were using - not really explaining why they had them, and did not mention anything about the black leather tanker jackets the unit supposedly wore (getting the nickname Black Brigade).

One thing that is missing in the Blitzkrieg book for the Polish is the air support. The Polish aircraft were also old and severely outnumbered - mainly used to fight German bombers. The 10th motorized brigade however had access to 20 Polish fighter planes from a nearby hidden airfield. So if any force should be allowed air support to fight off German Stuka bombers it should be the 10th motorized cavalry brigade.


Tanks in Polish service according to the documentary included
FT- 17
Vickers A and B
Tankettes with MG and a few with 20mm guns.
7TP jw and 7TP dw
R35 -----> Not included in the Blitzkrieg Polish OoB for some reason. But it's not hard to add yourself. They were very few in number so simply using the same "template" as the FT-17 should do the trick.

To understand the orders of battle of the Polish army in "Blitzkrieg", explaining why you don't get to pick a lot of tanks and armor, it's because the Polish had very few tanks and the tanks they had they sadly spread out all over the country as support for various infantry divisions. The Polish only formed 2 tank battalions and these had less than 50 7TP jw tanks in each. The Germans threw at them armored divisions that varied from 120-300 tanks of various classes and armored vehicles.

Furthermore, spreading out the tanks was a huge mistake logistically as well. Since it took a lot more personnel to service tanks, keep supply lines for spare parts, fuel and ammunition and a lot of other things needed to keep the tanks running. The small tank units tied up large amounts of personnel and vehicles.

So even if the 7TP was a good tank, it is as in the Blitzkrieg book apparent that the tankers faced an almost impossible task of stopping German armor - instead the Polish infantry and anti tank guns had to do the dirty work. Playing it historically a Polish player should not rely on tanks but Anti Tank guns.

If you google Stanislaw Maczek you will find the wiki article about the commander of the 10th motorized cavalry brigade. Quite an awesome guy, participating in WW1, Polish-Bolshevik War, defense of Poland in 1939 and after that serving with the allies for the remainder of the war in the 1st Polish armored division. He lived to be 102, living long enough to see his country re-emerge after 123 years, be invaded and divided once again, occupied by the Soviet union and finally become free again at the fall of the Soviet union.

5 comments:

  1. Great paint jobs on the troops and artillery and a very interesting read about the 10th Motorized Cavalry.

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  2. Lovely job once again.
    I assume you've already seen this?
    http://theminiaturespage.com/news/54625/

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  3. @Luckyjoe, thanks! Information on the 10th motorized seems rare on the internet, that documentary I watched is pretty much the only one I've seen that brought up this unit.

    @Man Cave, Yep but I think that is some sort of re-release,I already have 3 of their excellent tankette models and 6 cavalry (with sabers instead of lances) :-)

    The tankettes always work amazingly well in SoTR, the Cavalry has only been used about 3 times, but tend to do good as well (probably because I'm really careful not to send them out to be shot to pieces so they end up lurking behind terrain until the last moment haha).

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  4. Very sensible - a Polish Cav vs Russian Cossacks game would be fun!

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