Thursday, 10 September 2015

The History of elite unit Großdeutschland - part 4: The Russian Bear counterattacks

Battlefront's Panzer III command model.
Great piece with plenty of stowage details.

Gaming has now commenced with my 15mm collection of Germans for Operation Barbarossa. Skillfully coached by fellow club member and experienced Chain of Command player, Ulf, I saw the need to increase my panzer contingent in the collection. I've decided to build a forced consisting mainly of Panzer III's with a single Panzer II and the support of the Sdkfz 222, as a good sample forced of the Panzer forces of Guderian in 1941. StuGIII and Panzer IVs will be added later in white-washed camo, when I paint up the winter uniformed units for Stalingrad. 

Russian reinforcements marching across the Red Square in the winter of 41.
The march continued straight through the city and to the front line on its outskirts. 

Operation Taifun - the era of Blitzkrieg comes to an end. 

The fall of 1941 had seen the German army rapidly advance into the heart of Russia. Huge encirclements resulted in catastrophic amount of surrendering Russian troops (Smolensk: 850.000 / Kiev & Uman: 1.500.000). The situation was hard pressed for the Russian Rodina. Hitler wanted to apply the deathblow by a rapid capture of Moscow, before the Russian winter would set in. In the usual style of the German high command, a plan was meticulously drawn up and named Operation Taifun (Operation Typhoon).

A closer look at the stowage.
The IRGD decal has been duly added.

It started promisingly with the advance of von Bock’s forces, encircling and capturing another 660.000 Russians at Bryansk in the beginning of October. IRGD joined the push for Moscow on the 23rd, fighting through the thick autumn mud at Mtsensk, some 200 km south of Moscow. Within a week of heavy fighting and tough marching in the mud, the regiment reached Tula. Moscow was now only little more than a 100 km away. To the Northwest the German forced were even closer, with only 50 km left before they would stand on the Red Square.

The Siberian troops would prove a formidable foe in the harsh winter conditions,
fighting the summer-clothed and suffering German troops.

In Moscow panic broke out among the civilian populace, and intense efforts were made to prepare the city for a fight, house by house. Soviet General Zhukov had been called in to take command of the defence. Reinforcements consisting of the elite Siberian corps had been called back from the east (no attack from Japan was expected anymore), and the remainder of the Russian air force was concentrated around the capital to give support to the ground forces.

Radio antenna added using a thin brass wire for ship modeling.

Meanwhile November saw the German troops bogged down in mud, icy rain and snow as temperatures rapidly dropped to inhumane levels. Machinery seized to work, engines refused to start with the oil inside frozen solid. As November turned to December, the infantry began to show signs of extreme fatigue, with troops suffering from frostbite and sanitary diseases. The German Blitkrieg machine had ground to a halt. 

IRGD were split into minor units, 
plugging the holes in the crumbling German front.

On the 7th of December, the Russian bear roared for the first time, as Zhukov launched an immense counter-offensive all across Brock’s line. IRGD and the rest of the German infantry was poorly equipped to fight in the extreme winter conditions that now faced them. German Army command suggested instigating a controlled retreat and refitting the troops. Hitler denied this, knowing full well that his troops had next to no winter clothes to sustain them. Instead orders were issued to fight to the death. IRGD fought bravely and suffered incredibly, and they were split up into smaller units and dispersed to fill holes in the crumbling line of Bock’s Army Group Centre. 

The Panzer commander scouting for the shortest way to the Red Square.

The push for Moscow had failed. The bear had awoken, and the era of Blitkrieg had come to an end. The dawn of 1942 saw Hitler sack his army command, take personal leadership of the German forces, and dismiss backbone Generals like Guderian. With the apex of the German army behind it, 1942 would be a road leading into even darker chapters. 

A map of the massive Soviet counter attack during the winter of 1941.

Next up: Part V, Stalingrad and the beginning of the end.
Thank you very much for reading!


  1. Looking good! I bet you would like to have had a platoon of these in the last battle against the Russians.

    1. Thanks Mark - you bet, my Panzers got toasted - but I'll be back ;0)

  2. Replies
    1. Cheers Steve - it was fun to do this Battlefront version with all the stowage! Next up are some of the PSC plastic kits!

  3. A great job and a fabulous history,
    especially in these ski troops role it was pivotal

    1. Thanks Max - yeah those Siberian troops are earmarked as a future painting project for sure!

  4. Nifty modeling and an interesting history lesson.

    1. Cheers Jon, I was lucky enough to come across this Battlefront blister at a hobby shop sale when I visited the Lincon convention this spring - a good starting point for the PSC Panzer IIIs coming soon!

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks for the visit and the comment Ian, happy you enjoyed the read!

  6. Another great post, love the mix of figures, photos and maps...

    1. Cheers Phil, I still have some way until I reach the creative level of your cool AAR maps ;0)

  7. Great post and superb little panzer , you really have nailed that early war German colours!

    1. Thank you Chris, you know I like to get nerdy about what colors to choose, so your compliment is really appreciated!

  8. Nice Panzer and great historical overview, Soren. That iconic image of the great coated German infantry following the panzer make me flash back to my Tamiya modeling days when I was growing up.

    1. Haha, yeah I also had a WW2 winter project itch after seeing that picture. Will have to wait for a little while though...

  9. Beautiful panzer! Great attention to detail.

    1. Cheers Mattias - at some point in the future, we'll do a 15mm Barbarossa game! The looser pays for a round of Weißbier at Bierhaus;0)

  10. Replies
    1. Thank you Michael - was experimenting with the pigments again. Glad you liked the outcome :0)

  11. Superb paint and weathering Sören! I really like these posts of yours.

    1. Cheers Jonas, really appreciate it! Lets find another painting day in the calendar, would be great to sit down and get some more of these 15's done!

    2. That's a great idea! I could use some pointers when it comes to German armour.

  12. Excellent work Sören! Especially the loads of stowage bring this kit to life.

  13. Informative historical content with this post and the quality of painting on the vehicle is superb (and to think it is in 15mm, impressive). Look forward to seeing more.

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