Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The History of elite unit Großdeutschland – part 5: The road to Stalingrad

The Panzer III model from PSC.
I've added some stowage and the Battle Flag to give it a real Barbarossa feeling.

This week it’s once again time to visit the hard fighting Großdeutschland at the Eastern Front. To frame the write up, I’ve painted up another Panzer III, this one from Plastic Soldier Company’s sprue box. A really nice and adaptable model to work on. I added some stowage (Thanks Micke for all the bits) to the basic look, to give it some Barbarossa feeling. I also cut a piece of piano wire, to add the radio antenna on the side.

When in doubt... take a coffee break.

The Battle Flag is a paper print, softened with wooden glue, and sculpted around the stowage, to get the right look and feel. I’ll probably be adding one or two more Panzers to the Barbarossa collection. After that it will be later models for Operation Wintergevitter, with snow-camo. Now – on with the story of Großdeutschland.


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The Failure of Operation Taifun & the road to Stalingrad.

The first days of 1942 carried with them a change in the German soldier’s perception of his enemy. The Russians had suddenly put up a real fight, and it was taking a noticeable toll on the worn our German units. The evident failure of Operation Taifun, which not only meant that Moscow had not been conquered, but also in a broader perspective, that this would mean the prolonging of a costly war, resulted in Hitler sacking all commanders, including Guderian, and announcing himself as supreme commander of the Army. This was his way of getting rid of the “obvious incompetence” and lack of spirit in the Army’s high command. The old quarrel between the Führer and the Army lived on. 

Another view of the model. I've been using sand and rust pigments
 from AK Interactive to add weathering.

Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland had suffered immensely during Taifun, and the three battalions were now effectively reduced to two. As a consequence, IRGD was pulled back behind the lines for a complete refitting and some well deserved rest. On the 1. April 1942, the regiment started a reorganization to be expanded to an Infantry Division. The idea was to utilize the veterans of IRGD to build an elite Division, for use in the coming final push against the Bolsheviks. 

A colored image from the summer campaign of 42.

This meant that IRGD’s Oberst “Pappa” Hoernlein was promoted to Generalmajor, and given the command over the newly formed Division. The ranks was boosted with new recruits from Döberitz and other schools across Germany, and it was noted that the Army High Command had assigned Großdeutschland to received to newest equipment for this refurbishment. However, the old veterans of IRGD would remain a sealed elite core, looking down on the “newcomers”. They were the veterans of Barbarossa, and the new choirboys from back home would have to prove themselves before getting accepted in the eyes of their more experienced compatriots.

The German army took massive casualties while
attempting to hold back the Soviet counter offensives.

Having grabbed executive power over the Army, Hitler wasted no time. New plans were drawn up, and in a prolonged war scenario, oil was the key. Where to go for oil? To Caucasus by way of Kursk on to the Don River and Stalingrad, Rostov and Stavropol. The plan was to move forward in a series of encircling attacks in which the new Großdeutschland would get its debut. 

German prisoner getting interrogated. 

The offensive started on the 28th June. As part of 4th Panzer Army (Hoth), Großdeutschland moved forward down the Donets Corridor with the later doomed 6th Army (Paulus) on its left – direction Stalingrad. On the 13th July, Hitler ordered 4th Panzer Army to turn in a more southern direction, towards Rostov. This would prove rather important to the men of Großdeutschland. They fought hard in the end of July, securing an important bridgehead over the Don River.

A closer view of the stowage. 
I wanted to add stuff that would seem realistic and used for the many river crossings.

August saw the start of a massive Soviet offensive around Rzhev, west of Moscow. Großdeutschland was moved North, to help stem the red tidal wave. On the 10th September Großdeutschland fought one of its most wild and savage engagements around the Rzhev railroad. The fighting was bitter, and continued for weeks with no sign of the Soviet pressure letting up. The line held, but at very high costs.

The Soviet Army came into shape in 42. 
It was indeed a completely new enemy the Germans faced.

Meanwhile down South in Stalingrad, the Soviet November counteroffensive had managed to encircle and cut of the entire 6th Army under Paulus, plus half of the 4th Panzer Army (more than 300.000 men). The tide was turning. At Rzhev Großdeutschland had plugged the hole, but at a cost of over 10.000 in casualties. The Russians were no longer the same enemy from the autumn of 41, and more was to come.

Next up: Part 6 “The road to Kursk, Operation Zitadelle”
Thank you very much for reading.

Disclaimer: The usage of violent imagery or politically charged symbols like the Swastika is a conscious act from the author of this blog. Showing history and war in a correct and straightforward manner, is the objective. No political, religious or economic agenda lies behind, merely the philosophy that mankind should learn from its own history, in an attempt not to repeat our mistakes.

19 comments:

  1. Great background material and terrific model!
    Your weathering technique is first rate. If only mine could turn have as well as yours, I would be very pleased. This post reminds me that I have a bunch of my own Zvezda German vehicles to work on.

    About your disclaimer, was it prompted by feedback from earlier postings?

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    1. Hi Jon, and thanks again for the nice comment on the model and your dedicated readership of the blog. Regarding the disclaimer, you're absolutely right. Its partly posted out of respect for all the different people reading and supporting the blog, but also because we're living in a time of social and political unrest, with fugitives and war knocking on Europe's door. I really believe it is more important now than ever, to show history as clear and uncensored as possible, in the hope that we will stop and think twice about where we're heading. Thanks again for your comment :0)

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  2. Exellent paintwork and history!

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    1. Thanks Michael - soon I'll get on with the StuG's I got from you - they're in for a winter camo conversion :0)

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  3. That's a lovely piece of modelling.

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    1. Thank you very much Michael - the PSC plastic sprue kit is wonderful to work on!

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  4. Outstanding paint job on that panzer Soren, i said it before and will say it again you have got the German colours down to a tea! Superb.

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    1. Cheers Chris, the good old Foundry painting pallette hasn't let me down yet :0)

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  5. This Panzer is fabulous...as well as the historical background...Congrats!

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    1. Thanks Phil, glad you liked the write up too - They're getting into real trouble now, the boys of IRGD!

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  6. Superb painting Sören! And I absolutely love all the added stowage and the weathering you've done. Top-notch stuff!

    We really should get together for a painting session soon – I'm about to tackle my first German tanks and could use your expert tips.

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    1. I'd like that very much - drop me an e-mail and we'll set it up! I'm about to move from summer to winter camo on both infantry and tanks, so I could need some pointers too!

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  7. Beautiful work! I really like the extra detail. Great read aswell as per usual. /Mattias

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    1. Thanks Mattias - Michael threw in a bunch of stowage bits when we did a small lead exchange this summer, and they came in handy now!

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  8. It's hard not to just copy everyone elses text here, so why try?
    Great work, looks excellent and all that ;)

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    1. Haha, thanks Ulf :0) So I guess I need to work on some Russians & Prussians soon so we can get on with the Napoleonic project in 28mm. Would be great to get back to the large gaming table sometime soon.

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  9. Fabulous work on the Panzer III and your Panzergrau is spot on! Maybe I should get me some 15mm PSC stuff ;-)

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