Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Damn you, TV!

Recently, I started this blog as a way to motivate and advertise my hobby stuff.  I've been faithful and dependable, up until last week that is, as far as regular posts and (hopefully) engaging material.  It's been about Ultramarines, the hobby, and even a couple of Blood Angels.  But then, my TV revealed a blog-stopping conspiracy...

 The Discovery Channel apparently ran a 10 part series, known as 'World's Greatest Tank Battles'.  This show is all about the battles using tanks and how the men and equipment were effective.  As far as I can remember, they've made a show for Kursk (the largest tank battle ever), Ardennes (I think that's the Battle of the Bulge), 73 Easting (from the first Gulf War), and the Canadian assault into France (I really can't remember the name of the battle right now).   If you haven't seen this series, I highly suggest it.  But make sure to look for it on the Military Channel.

 So, while I hobby and paint, I usually have on the TV turned to any number of channels, all awesome.  It happened that night, as I sat in my recliner (you know, the one every man has in his living room- the kingdom's throne), and I flipped the channels to get into my painting mojo.  The night before, I watched the Battle of 73 Easting and enjoyed it muchly- for the 5th time.  But tonight wasn't expected.  When I turned to the Military Channel, there was the show.  And this time, it was one I hadn't seen before- the battle of El Alamein (or both, to be fair).  Now, that's my favorite WWII battle! 

As it turns out, I have more than one game system.  On top of 40k, I also play Warhammer, Lord of the Rings (gasp!), War Machine, and even Flames of War.  And I can blame my FoW habit on one of my Warhammer buddies.  He wanted my Orcs and Goblins and was willing to trade me a German FoW army.  I took the trade.  Turns out, I got a really good deal.

After I finally organized it all and found that I had so much, I gave an infantry company to one of my buddies, another infantry company and some tanks to another buddy, and I still had 2 companies and a ton of tanks left over.  For those of you that don't play FoW, what I had started with equated to around $600 worth of stuff!  With my good fortune in this deal, it would be silly not to get into the game.

So I'm sitting back, intently watching this program, watching as Rommel forces his army to crush the British 8th army under their tracks.  I'm mesmerized by the super cool figures such as the numbers of infantry and tanks that took part during various stages of the months of battles.  I'm totally jazzed by the descriptions of the tanks and how the German armored cans were superior to the British in every way (except numbers).  I couldn't tear myself away from the show, it was awesome!

Very Brief overview after the first battle of El Alamein to the end of Afrikakorps (1942-43)

In June of 1942, Rommel attacked Tobruk, finally breaking the stalemate of Operation Theseus.  The British forces there had to surrender, after fighting to allow the remainder of the forces to form a line at El Alamein.
From there, Montgomery (the new British commander) launched an offensive in October, forcing Rommel to quit the battle and retreat the German forces all the way back to Tunisia.  At almost the same time, the American forces landed in Western Africa and were making their way to Tunisia.
Not to be outsmarted, Rommel ordered a counterattack into the new American forces and then went straight at the British 8th army in an all-or-nothing attack.  Now outnumbered more than five to one in tanks and men, Rommel's forces were decimated and eventually had to surrender in May 1943. 

The Germans had place such trust in Rommel that he was flown to Northern Europe, and placed in command of defenses against allied invasion.  Obviously, he failed in this duty (most blame the Fuhrer).  But Rommel is widely and highly regarded as one of the greatest military commanders in the history of the world.

Super-Brief History of Erwin Rommel

In WWI, he was an infantry commander and was very successful.  After the war, he published a book called 'Infantry Attacks!', which solidified his reputation as a competent commander.  In WWII, the high command placed Rommel in charge of operations in Northern Africa, using the new 'blitzkrieg' tactics and Germany's awesome Panzer tanks.  The first couple years in the desert showed a poorly-supported and overly-aggressive army achieving success after success against the seasoned British soldiers.  But Rommel's lack of supplies and reinforcements ultimately cost him victory.  He was then reassigned to Northern Europe.  Hitler was nearly assassinated in the now-famous July 20th plot, and officers under Rommel were found to be responsible.  The Fuhrer placed him under house arrest and, most likely, forced Rommel to poison himself.  Today, Rommel is studied by military commanders all over the world, utilizing his theories on infantry, armored, and even 'organic battlefield' strategies.  Rommel is truly a military mastermind.

The Basics of Germany's 'Afrika Korps'

Rommel had many tools at his disposal that would make any other commander green with envy.  He had two full Panzerdivisions, manned by well trained and experienced soldiers.  He had thousands of trucks and guns, fitting the German principle of 'few men, many guns'.  This allowed his armies to be very fast and bring an immense amount of firepower onto the enemy.

The most feared weapon in Rommel's army, however, was the dreaded Panzer tank.  Initially, the fast Panzer IIs were enough to launch the war, but advances in British wargear meant the II was obsolete quickly.  Most of the 15th and 21st Panzerdivisions were commonly stocked with Panzer IIIs- a fantastic tank.  With 2" of armor and a 2" gun, it was the match of anything the British had in their arsenal.

Using fast, outflanking maneuvres, Rommel effectively used his Panzers to keep the British forces under constant pressure.  It wasn't until the introduction of American tanks into the Allied effort in Africa that the Panzers had to evolve again.  Germany answered with the Panzer IV, the last mark of Panzer before the Panther took over in Europe.  In the late stages of the war, Rommel even had a few Tiger tanks, fresh and meant for the Eastern Front.  Although the Tiger is the most famous and feared tank of WWII, it was the Panzer that won most of the battles...

So you're wondering why I would curse the TV, only to advertise for them while presenting a history lesson.  Well, it's because this very same show; this very same history lesson got me excited to get my FoW army going.  Last week, my 40k hobby was completely put on hold.  Space Marines and all that stuff had no place in my workshop, as I frantically built and prepped my army of Germans.  The TV had chosen to take this program from the Discovery Channel and place it on the Military channel, KNOWING it would crush any motivation I had in scifi.  They KNEW I was going to have a Pavlov-like reaction and leap into my pile of 15mm soldiers.   Damn you TV!!!

So after all that, here's my army (sans the useless stuff like motorcycles and armored cars):
(Sorry, I don't know how to spin the pictures in this blog thingie).
 I chose to do the 10th Panzerdivision.  The division was a very well regarded one, known for its fearless part in the invasion of France and relentless fighting on the Eastern front.  It was added to Germany's Afrika Korps after the first Battle of El Alamein, and had some added advantages over the normal Afrika Korps forces.  

  The infantry, armed for combat in the termperate and forrested European theatre, were equipped with halftrack transports and infantry guns (something the 15th and 21st had to steal from defeated allied forces).  The armored units had the new Panzer IVs and even the Panzer IV 'specials', bringing bigger guns to the late stages of the Africa campaign.  After the disastrous efforts late in the war, the division was given a few tiger platoons, but was annihilated in the final battles before the Germans surrendered.  It was found that alot of the officers involved in the July 20th plot were 10.Panzerdivision, leading Hitler to suspect Rommel.  The division was not reformed again during WWII, but was later reinstated into the modern German army as an honor to those officers who tried to end the war early.

I like that story alot.  Plus, it means I don't have to paint Desert Yellow.  The 10th remained German Grey, and that's a really easy color to paint.  Now that I've done my cursing and shared the history, I guess I actually have to start painting....  damn you, TV.  Damn you.

1 comment:

  1. I have seen that series. the Canadian episode is sobering.