Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Soviet Intervention! (African Imagi-Nations)

The President stood, looking out of his office window, shortly after receiving the good news about the latest battle with the Uwandan dogs.  He stared out across the Presidential Garden, and could just faintly hear the sound of the engine, as he watched the first of the Soviet Mig 23 interceptors land at the airport on the other side of the capitol.  Though his air force would not be receiving them, a least not yet, they would be available to stop Uwanda's control of the air.

In an hour, he would leave for that same airport to greet the Soviet paratroops arriving in their blue berets.  He very much liked the blue berets.  The President considered that he too needed paratroops of his very own, such that they might also sport the blue berets.

The President smiled. He had been told that he had a beautiful smile, and today, it was quite grand. Today was a good day, far better than yesterday, and tomorrow would no doubt be better yet!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

AAR35: The Turning Point?

The battle for Objective 41 marked the point of the last significant Mugabian resistance before Uwanda made a run the enemy capitol.  If the force at Objective 41 were destroyed, there would be only the Mugabian Presidential Guard left to protect Mugabia, a well equipped, but untested force.

Objective B41 is at the extreme right on the map above.  
Objectives B6, B21, B22, B29, and B30 are currently occupied
 by Uwanda's forces.

Uwanda had been aware of near involvement by Cuban forces on at least two prior occasions, and their presence at Objective 41 caused no great concern.  Uwanda knew that the Cubans would significantly strengthen the Mugabian defense, but it was believed that Uwanda's air power could overcome any advantage offered by the Cubans.

Uwanda's view of the battlefield looking east.  Uwanda's main 
force attacks from the rise lower right, with a second force 
entering on the road.

Mugabia's view looking west, prior to deployment.

Mugabia Forces
1x HQ w/ 1x Truck, 2x GAZ69
31x Infantry sections in trucks, 1x Inf Btln
2x ZU23/2 with truck
4x ZPU4 with truck
6x 120mm Mortar with truck

Cuban Forces
1x HQ w/1x BMP1, 2x GAZ69, 1x truck
10x T-55
10x BMP1
1x BRDM2

Uwanda Forces
1x HQ in 2x Saracen
8x Vickers MkIII
11x Firefly
26x Saracen with Infantry, 2x Mech. Inf. Companies
2x Saladin
4x M7 Priest

Mugabia deployed its infantry in multiple layers of defense, again hoping to draw Uwanda into a soldiers' fight.  Once the Cubans arrived, their forces were worked in to offer overlapping fields of fire and standoff capability against the long ranged Uwandan armor. 

Mugabian forces deployed in and around the town.

A Strikmaster flew over Mugabian forces prior to the attack, spotting some of the enemy positions and noting the Cuban armor.  Mugabian AA guns opened up on the intruding aircraft with no effect.

The Uwandans scouts advanced from the high ground southwest of the village, spotting the leading edge of Mugabian forces after some effort.  The Uwandan main force advanced in two groups, the first on the same high ground as the scouts, and a second force consisting of Firefly tanks and Saracen APCs coming up the road, then shifting south to join the attack to the south of the village. 

The Uwandans hoped to get a concentration of fire, allowing them to quickly overrun the southern forces and then turn north against the remaining enemy forces.  Vickers tanks would offer an over-watch from the high ground with their 105mm guns, while the infantry supported by Fireflies at closer range would churn through the Mugabians.

As firing began, BMPs in hull down positions engaged Vickers tanks with Sagger ATGMS, killing two in the first volley, then adding more as Mugabian heavy mortars offered some cover to the BMPs.

The fight begins as BMP1s open up with their Sagger ATGMs

The advance was not moving forward as favorably as expected, so Strikemasters were called on earlier than intended to keep the northern Mugabian forces honest, and inflict some damage.  Uwanda's second force pushed up the road, eventually taking a few long range losses to Saggers and T-55 cannon fire. 

Uwana's Air Force destroying mostly shrubs and trees.

The Uwandan's on the high ground advanced, exchanging fire with the BMPs, one of which was knocked out early.  The others survived due to their hull-down positions exposing little of the vehicles to enemy fire.

As the Vickers tanks took losses on the high ground, the Fireflies began taking fire on the road, forcing them to move off-road to the south.  As they advanced, they continued to take some fire from the north side of the road, both from T55s, and BMPs.  Additionally, they started taking fire from the southern portion of the enemy forces.

Both of Uwanda's forces taking more damage than they were dishing out.

The Fireflies attempted to return fire, but were at the limits of their range, and couldn't penetrate the thick hides of the T55s , even when they did score hits.

The Fireflies finally score a couple of hits, but have taken a beating.
Uwana's southern force has almost advanced enough to dismount infantry.

All the while, the ground forces were repeatedly supported by the eight Strikemasters assigned to the battle.  Unfortunately for the Uwandan forces, the jets failed to inflict much damage with their bombs, failing on at least five occasions to have any effect on T55s within the blast of well placed bombs.

Uwandan morale remained strong despite the losses, and in time the southern Uwandan force scored enough hits on infantry and BMPs to force the first line of Mugabian defense to fall back.   This ultimately worked againstf the Uwandans, as they simply took more losses before morale failed, and the withdraw took place.

Mugabians falling back to their next line of defense.

By this time the withdrawing Uwandans were starting to be flanked from the north, with no Fireflies remaining, the northern-most infantry company continued to take losses; while, the southern withdrawal was covered to some extent by the Vickers Mk. IIIs.  The southern force was continuously harassed by heavy mortar fire, though took no additional losses.

Uwanda's forces in retreat.

Uwanda's last action was to send in a flight of four Strikemasters, in which three well placed bombs destroyed a single squad of infantry, and a second Strikemaster was shot down by Mugabin AA guns.

Uwanda's last gasp, Strikemasters trying to cover the withdrawal
 of their counterparts on the ground.

Mugabian losses:
1x AML90
1x ZPU4
7x trucks
6x WIA

Uwandan Equipment Captured:
2x Firefly
1x Vickers Mk.III
1x Saladin

Cuban losses:
1x T55
3x BMP1
6x KIA
10x WIA

Uwanda Losses:
11x Firefly
5x vickers Mk. III
6x Saracen
1x Saladin
25x KIA
23x KIA

2x Strikemaster
2x Strikemaster damaged and out of action


The results of this battle are not a great surprise, though the lack of damage inflicted by the Strikemasters was somewhat less than I anticipated.  I expected that the Fireflies would find themselves at a terrible disadvantage, and they did.  And the Vickers' thin armor was exposed, not that any other tank of the era would stand up well to the Saggers, but they didn't stand up to the T55s either.  The advantage of their long range 105mm guns was negated by the fact that they could not see their enemy at long enough range to take advantage of it.  

In retrospect, if the Uwandan forces had attacked from the high ground to the northwest of the town, they would have probably made better use of their longer ranged guns, but I found the idea of closing over that open ground with the Uwandan infantry too intimidating,  allowing myself to overly influenced by the inability to bring them into action in earlier battles.

The Saggers were a problem that the Uwandans had no answer for, and their forces carry no equivalent weapon.  The largest remaining Muganian force is the Presidential Guard, which features many T55s, and though it doesn't have BMP1s, it is equipped with BRDMs with Saggers.

In any event, an interesting point has been reached in the conflict, and I'm not sure where it will go from here, Time to consult the the dice.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Cubans Will Fight (15mm African Imagi-nations)

Castro had sent advisers to Mugabia almost two years prior to the outbreak of the current war, and they had indeed improved the quality of the Mugabian forces that they had trained.  They might have done more, but President Mpepo-Mfuko had been careful to only allow the most loyal units to be trained.

Colonel Kiambu was so pleased to see the arrival of the Cuban Colonel at his headquarters, that he actually smiled, a very rare occurrence.  He greeted the the Cuban, Colonel Ramirez, and invited him to sit down.  

The Cubans had already formally announced that they would help Mugabia in the fight against Uwanda, but this was the first instance of Cuban forces formally deploying for battle.  Ramirez's force was small but formidable, built around a company of T55 MBTs and a company of infantry mounted in BMP1s.  

After exchanging pleasantries, the two officers discussed integrating the Cuban forces into the defense of Objective B41, the next obstacle in the path of the Uwandan advance.  While the Cubans would make up only about a third of the total force, they represented a disproportionately large portion of the total firepower available.

The morale of the Mugabian troops grew appreciably, after seeing the Cubans arrive.  They were particularly impressed with the Cuban tanks and personnel carriers.  Mugabia did have T55s, but few Mugabian soldiers had seen them, as most were reserved for the Presidential Guard.  The Mugabians had not seen the BMP before, as the the BTR60 was their most capable APC.

The discipline and professionalism of the Cubans was similarly impressive.  With such an ally, how could they possibly loose?


In Uwanda, the news of growing Cuban involvement came as some surprise. Mostly because the Democratic Republic of Mugabia was a dictatorship with very little communism.  That Castro would be so supportive of furthering the revolution in Mugabia seemed unlikely.

Despite the news being bad, most of Uwanda's leadership was not overly concerned, as Cuban forces in Mugabia were small in number, and for the most part, spread thinly across various training centers.

Still, there was a minority of Uwandan officers that saw this as a very unwelcome development, as there was a growing sense that Uwanda did not have the operational reach to achieve their objectives, and the addition of even a small number of Cubans would make that reach just that much shorter.

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Traveling Chinese Artist

A little off topic tonight.

I first encountered him, when I was maybe eight years of age.  He had a temporary display of paintings at The Hub department store in Steubenville, Ohio.  To my young eyes, he was an older Chinese man, an artist who captivated me with his amazing finger paintings of various blossoms, plants, scenes and tigers.  Oh my, the tigers were truly fantastic pieces, haunting, eyes following you, whatever your vantage point, ready to leap out of the canvas at any moment.

The Hub in its own right was an interesting thing. A big city department store in a small Midwestern town, with stores in other cities around the state, and maybe beyond.  As I understand it, the store actually leased departments or floors out to larger department stores such as Macy's and Gimbels, and whatnot.  It featured a range of mid to upscale product lines, and in my case was a source for some of the more interesting toys of the 1960s and early 1970s.

For a period in the early 1970s, I believe in the late summer, each year a traveling artist would display his water color finger paintings and offer them for sale for a couple of weeks at the store.  He would set up an easel and paint while at the store, talking to passers-by and prospective buyers all the while.

When I first encountered him, I had recently started painting with acrylics, and had never seen finger painting taken to an art form.  His paintings were wonderful and very inspiring to me.  As a result, I spent quite some time watching him paint, noting his method, the consistency of the paint, etc.

He in turn noted my interest, and began talking to me, already understanding that I had more than a typical child's interest in painting and art, and took some time to share more detail about his method and style, conveying his passion for what he did, and inspiring me to paint  and create.  He explained that I had a gift, discussing the shape of my hand and fingers as being an indication of ability, and leaving me with enduring inspiration to pursue my artistic interests.

He also shared how he came to be an artist, which is one of the reasons I share this story here.  He had been a soldier in China, and fought against Japan.  I remember him as being similar in age, or just slightly older than the WWII veterans that I new as a child, and so I'm guessing that he fought in the second Sino-Japanese War starting in 1937.

During a battle, his unit was overran and he was captured by the Japanese, ultimately being held in a prison camp for some time.  He described being held in some sort of cell or space with masonry walls and described how he started finger painting pictures of prisoners and guards on the walls using water from puddles and dirt from the floor. 

The Japanese noted his paintings, which were apparently quite good, and he was given paint and ordered to paint a portrait of the commander of the prison, which as I remember it was given to the officers wife as a gift.

After some time, the Japanese started killing the Chinese prisoners.  He was made to paint portraits of the various officers, and occasional high ranking visitors of the prison.  In time there were few prisoners left, each being kept alive, because they served some purpose to their keepers.  In the end, he survived the war because of his ability as a painter, eventually made his way to the United States, and decades later, inspired a little boy on his path to becoming a professional model builder.

He was one of several major sources of inspiration during my life, and I think of him from time to time, wishing I had opportunity later in life to learn more of his art, and his history.   I don't know his name, but if by some chance, you do, or think that you might have come into contact with him, please share your experience (and maybe his name).