This army started as a Christmas Miracle.
The Too Fat Lardies Yahoo Group is a great forum and the discussions range from Q&A about their rules and history to football, booze and food. Richard, the main Lardie, is quite the trencherman and often likes to ask people what they're planning for holiday meals or just what's up for the weekend. The menu for Christmas dinner at Lardie HQ always sounds pretty appealing.
So last Christmas he asks the list "Right boys and girls. What sort of wargaming gifts would you like to get for Christmas? Not the rubbish like socks and shirts that you will actually get."
Now the Christmas of 2009 wasn't a particularly happy one around here; being the second one I was off work and my schooling was soon to wind up with the consequential cut off of funding and no job prospects. I rattled off a list of stuff; a bunch of Perry Miniatures, additions for my Canadian army and some German Fallschirmjager to fight them, but added that since I was unemployed for the second Christmas in a row I figured we wouldn't exchange gifts and just spend our meagre funds on a nice Christmas dinner.
Almost as soon as I'd hit send I thought "Well that was pretty whiney James" and regretted it.
But a couple of days later another fellow on the list emails me from the UK:
I have some 15mm Fallschirmjager I got for a song at a flea market. I'm not going to do anything with them. What's your address and I'll send them to you.
I told him I live in Canada. He said that wasn't a problem.
Neat. I'm expecting maybe a blister pack or two and am pretty excited. I'd already painted three platoons of 15mm FJ for my friend Brian. Since 1 Canadian Infantry Division was opposed by 1 Fallschirmjager Division in Italy, especially at Ortona, and 3 CID fought 6 FJD in Holland, they were a natural opponent for my Canucks. The camouflage uniforms and elite reputation made them attractive as a wargames army, plus they didn't have all the stigma that 3CIDs other attractively dressed opponent, 12th SS, would have.
A rather heavy little box arrives in the mail. It's pretty full.
I sort things and find all kinds of cool stuff. There's a Pak 40 with some Peter Pig crew, a platoon of StuGs because my benefactor felt they needed some armoured support (some of the tracks need reattaching and the barrels need straightening and repinning but hey, those are easy fixes) and enough blisters of Battlefront Fallschirmjager to do three rifle platoons and an MG42 platoon!
Now how cool is that? Instant army, just add paint.
So inbetween some commission work I've painted up a small initial force of FJ to keep myself happy. A rifle platoon, the Pak40 and the MG42 platoon to give them some extra firepower, plus 3 Big Men.
The rifle platoon is incorporating lessons learned from my regular Wehrmacht kampfgruppe (see my previous post). The sections are organized with a stand of 4, then two small stands of 2 figures holding the LMG teams. Some extra stands of 2 riflemen can bring the section size up to 10 men if I want. Or be used to make change when removing casualties. The rifle stands incorporate a mix of SMGs, rifles and the StG44 assault rifles used by the Fallschirmjager to increase their firepower.
Those among you with preternatural powers of observation might be able to tell that 4out 6 of my LMG teams are actually armed with anti-tank rifles. But since I'm focusing on late war I don't need ATRs. I do need two LMGs per 8 man section though, and from more than a foot away you can't tell.
The Big Man has the number '11' on his base. I've take to identifying all my Big Men with unique numbers. I used to just number them sequentially, but the company commander was 1, and then the 1st platoon commander was 2 and so on. It got confusing, especially if there were extra Big Men attached to any of the platoons. I now use a 2 digit system. The Company commander is '01'. 1st platoon commander is '11' and 2nd platoon commander is '21' and so on. If I want to slot an extra BM into one of the platoons then he becomes '12' or '22' and someone at Company level like a sergeant-major becomes '02.' This helps me also to identify the platoons, since the 1st platoon is all of the the stands attached to BM 11 or BM 12. I find that having enough extra command figures to assign the extra numbers too just in case isn't really a problem. The numbers are just printed out on paper and then punched out with a hole punch and glued onto the base.
Next is one of the MMG platoons from the battalion Heavy Company.
Pretty straightforward; 4x MG42 teams and a Big Man. They'll put out a ton of firepower. The Germans used a lot of MG42s on the defense in Italy, so a platoon of these fellows attached to my small rearguard didn't seem too much.
Then to ambush the allied armour a Pak40 75mm anti-tank gun from the Divisional Antitank Battalion. Once the Fallschirmjager stopped being air dropped they acquired heavier antitank assets in the form of bigger towed AT guns and even self-propelled ATGs like Marders. I think the gun might be Old Glory. It seems identical to my other Pak40s. Three of the crew are Peter Pig. 2 gunners are Battlefront and are supposed to be manning one of those tiny little 28mm squeeze bore AT guns that they couldn't produce enough ammo for and dropped. Directing the gun is the Company commander.
I blacked primed all of them and then used Vallejo green grey for the pants and camo beige for the base of the smocks. Daubs of reflective green and camo brown were applied. Kit was picked out in German grey.
Here are some action shots set among my Italian ruins.
I do need to add a section of 4 panzerschrek teams to complete the company. I've got an idea to convert the PzB41 28/20mm squeeze bore AT gun models I have into the 105mm recoilless guns sometimes used by the support companies. I suspect the recoilless rifles weren't actually used any more than the PzB41s, but I think they're cooler. Certainly more appropriate to the late war anyway.
Otherwise there's just two rifle platoons to go, but I also have enough figures left over to form into a Pioneer detachment for those necessary demolition missions to slow the allied advance.
It's only taken 6 months to get these guys painted, which is pretty good I think. Hopefully it won't take that long to get them into a game!
But still, one small box of unwanted lead made my rather bleak Christmas a whole lot brighter. That's what we're here for right? To be lights for each others dark moments.