Going All Göring

“Whoever joins this corps has to do so with a bold heart. If he shows courage in combat, the soldier can expect promotion and decorations.”

– Hermann Göring

Today, Duncan looks at supplementing your Wehrmacht troops in the front line with the stout-hearted, if often ill-equipped troops of the Luftwaffe Field Divisions (LwFD) – but who or what were they? And how to represent a historical formation on the table top? This, and more, next on Duncan only plays Germans in Flames of War!

Defining the Divisions

In the manic search for more manpower in the winter of 1941 can be seen the vast underestimation of effort that it was going to take to prosecute Total War on German manpower. The planned partial demobilisation of troop’s post-Soviet conquest was now long forgotten and in a desperate effort to raise new Divisions for the Eastern Front the Germany army scoured Europe for extra troops, vehicles and supplies to replace the horrific losses in Russia.

With the memory of the incredible successes of Barbarossa still fresh in the collective German consciousness, and before war weariness and cynicism set in, personnel from all branches of the Luftwaffe volunteered for ground service in Russia and in early 1942, assembled in East Prussia, 7 Luftwaffe Field Regiments were formed; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 14 and 21.

Hermann Goering did not trust the Heer and made an alternative suggestion rather than have his beloved Luftwaffe troops subservient to the Army, that Luftwaffe Infantry (Jaeger) Field Divisions should be raised but under the command of Luftwaffe officers and NCOs. These would retain their “Luftwaffe” appearance, heritage and cadre.

The reception of these new formations on the Eastern Front was mixed, to say the least, but notably, Regiments 1, 2, 3, and 4 were combined into a battle group by General Meindl. ‘Division Meindl’ was engaged through 1942 taking part in anti-partisan operations after a long spell at the front around Kholm. The combat effectiveness of this unit led the expansion of these units to full divisions and total of 10 Luftwaffe Field Divisions were to be formed in late 1942 and thrown immediately into the furnace of combat that had become the Eastern Front.

and senior officers, notably von Manstein and Warlimont, were loud in their antagonism to what they saw as a misuse of manpower. They argued that the same number of men, integrated into existing Heer units, would have a greater impact than the hasty assembly of new poorly trained formations with inadequate numbers of experienced officers and NCOs. Those Divisions still operational were disbanded in late 1943 and their manpower was incorporated into the standard Heer organisation.

Finding Our Formation

So that’s a brief description of how and why the LwFD came into being but how can we create an authentic feeling force on the table top?

Well firstly let’s look at the deployment of LwFDs and see which might be appropriate to model up using Iron Cross and the new Command Cards. Iron Cross focusses mainly on the fighting around Stalingrad and the fortunes of Army Group South (AGS) in 1942 so let’s start by looking there.

There is a great write up of where each Division served written by Phil Yates which can be found here on the Battlefront website so I’ll let you peruse that at you leisure but reading through those 7th LwFD looks promising as it was hastily rushed to the front to hold the line on the Chir River after the encirclement of Stalingrad.

The organisation and equipment of the Luftwaffe Field Divisions emphasised the perceived “limited role” of the divisions as specified by Basic Order Number 3 (this was the order that the Luftwaffe units be deployed only to ‘defensive missions on quiet fronts’ – in reality this never occurred and by their very nature Soviets often targeted the sector containing these weaker formations). Their strength was approximately half that of a standard Heer Division as we can see below:

Heer Division

Luftwaffe Field Division

3 Regiments or 3 Battalions

1 Regiment of 4 Battalions
Full Artillery Regiment

Whatever was knocking about!

 

Each of the 4 Infantry Battalions comprised of 3 Rifle “Jaeger” Companies and 1 Heavy Weapons Company. The Heavy Weapons Company had, ideally, 4 light and 8 heavy machine guns. 3 light mortars and 4 20mm Flak 38 guns.

In Support, each LwFD had an Anti-Tank battalion with 2 companies of 9 50mm Pak 38 guns and 1 company of captured 7.62cm guns and a mixed Flak battalion of 2 light batteries with 12 20mm flak guns and a heavy battery of another 3 20mm flak guns and 4 88mm guns. Finally, the artillery battalion, the weakest part of the LwFD formation varied but on inception was either 2 batteries of 4 75mm Geb K15 guns or 2 batteries of 6 10.5cm Nebelwerfer mortars (that’s correct – mortars). In our case, the 7th LwFD was issued the former 75mm Geb K15 mountain guns. Finally, 5 Sturmgerschutz 75mm assault guns completed the 3rd battery in the LwFD.

So let’s look at this with regards to Iron Cross and the Command Cards. The Luftwaffe Field Company card is an upgrade (?!) to the Grenadier Company and gives us a points price break in exchange for broadly decreased stats and no access to 3.7cm Tank Hunters OR Assault Pioneers.

So let’s start building!

  • Luftwaffe Field Company card
  • Grenadier Company HQ
  • Grenadier Platoon – 7 x MG/Rifle Teams
    Additional 2.8cm AT-Rifle
    Additional HMG
  • Grenadier Platoon – 7 x MG/Rifle Teams
    Additional 2.8cm AT-Rifle
    Additional HMG
  • Grenadier Platoon – 7 x MG/Rifle Teams
    Additional 2.8cm AT-Rifle
    Additional HMG

So these units represent you Jaeger platoons with 20mm Flak 38 from the Heavy Company assigned to them and. There are no ground mount rules for the Flak 38 at the moment and I think that representing the 2.8cm AT rifle with the Flak 38 gun is thematic and a great way to model up this essential unit in the same theme as the rest of your force. I know this is not ideal but it will look really cool!

 

  • 4 x 8cm Mortar Platoon
  • 4 x sMG34 HMGs

This is the Heavy Company assets that form the backbone of immediate support for your Jaegers. I’m not sure how effective the HMGs will be but the mortars are a must. I’ve kept them to only 4 tubes to represent the limited number that they had even though 6 tubes are probably more effective.

  • 4 x 7.5cm Infantry Gun Platoon
  • 4 x 8.8cm Heavy AA Platoon

Here the 7.5cm Infantry Gun Platoon represents the presence of the 75mm Geb K15 guns and can be modelled as such using the GE553 or the special order GSO517 of just the guns with the appropriate crew figures. It gives you another decent bombardment template and some ad hoc AT capability too.

The 8.8cm Heavy AA is your main source of killer AT and should, rightfully so, scare the pants out of your Soviet opponent. It is, however, all of your AT eggs in one very obvious basket.

  • 3 x StuG Short 7.5cm Platoon

These provide your armoured mobility and are touch little nuts to crack ideally I’d like to take more than 3 but that is the platoon maxed out.

Hermann’s Hundred Up

The full list is as follows:

Luftwaffe Field Company card

  • Grenadier Company HQ
  • Grenadier Platoon – 7 x MG/Rifle Teams
    Additional 2.8cm AT-Rifle
    Additional HMG
  • Grenadier Platoon – 7 x MG/Rifle Teams
    Additional 2.8cm AT-Rifle
    Additional HMG
  • Grenadier Platoon – 7 x MG/Rifle Teams
    Additional 2.8cm AT-Rifle
    Additional HMG
  • 4 x 8cm Mortar Platoon
  • 4 x sMG34 HMGs
  • 4 x 7.5cm Infantry Gun Platoon
  • 4 x 8.8cm Heavy AA Platoon
  • 3 x StuG Short 7.5cm Platoon

The StuGs nicely round out 100pts but there are options available to you if you wanted to change things up. You could include a battery of 10.5cm artillery and the additional command card to make them Mountain Artillery to represent the 75mm Gebs K15 guns. This is probably more realistic but moves a platoon from Core into Support and also reduced their AT from 8 to a dismal 6. As you are struggling with AT anyway this might not be a concession you want to make.

You could drop 2 of the 8.8cm Heavy AA guns and add in a 3 gun 5cm Tank Hunter Platoon to try and mitigate the fact that your big guns are a big target but at the cost of compromise your KV-1 stopping power.

Finally, you could jiggle some points around to maybe include some flying Luftwaffe support either of which gives you the ability to reach out in what, by necessity and historical design, is a rather static defensive force.

In terms of modelling standard Jaeger, you have some options either with the plastic Grenadier models and painting them suitably blue or look at the older Herman Goering Panzergrenadier models in metal – which is what I used for my 16th LwFD for Normandy.

With the painting, you can get creative as the supplies that reach the Luftwaffe troops were often spotty and they used whatever they could to equip themselves. So you can paint some models with Splinter camo, some with Feldgrau parts to their uniforms and helmets can be a mixture of Heer, Fallschirmjager and even plain Dunkelgelb; in my opinion, let less uniform the better!

 

Like the 90th Light Division force that I created for the fighting around Gazala, I’m not convinced that this is the strongest army that will ever grace the table top but it will look fantastic desperately trying to stave off Soviet tank hordes! I do think that it will be pretty tasty against the new Strelkovy companies though as the double templates plus tonnes of HMG fire will hopefully shred those big 4+ to hit masses.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our look at the 7th LwFD – I certainly have; although I have now got a horrible feeling that I might be scouring the UK for Hermann Goering boxes very soon!

Category: Eastern FrontGermansMid WarRamblingV4

3 comments

  1. Hey Duncan! Just wanted to let you know that this article inspired me to bring a Hermann Goering list to a recent tournament I attended. They did amazingly well. My list was:
    Grenadier Company HQ, 2x Grenadier Platoon with 7 bases and added anti-tank gun, 8cm Mortar Platoon (6 bases), 5cm Tank-hunter Platoon (4 guns), Marder (7.62cm) Tank-hunter Platoon (4 of ‘m), 10.5cm Artillery Battery (4 guns), and a Panzer II OP. The command cards, of course, were the Command Card Luftwaffe Field Company and Mountain Artillery (with 4 guns).

    Not really that close to a thematic HG list, but the -10 point by the command cards gave me enough room to bring the kaboom.

    To be fair, the Marders won me all three games, performing above average and doing terrible damage. But the HG platoons were second best MVP, even once going on the offensive and surviving despite being hit on a 3+, and even holding off an assault with KV-1 tanks! Re-rolling a Fearless motivation rating really helps 🙂

    Anyway, thanks again for the inspiration, just wanted to let you know this list was great fun.

    1. Thanks mate,

      That is absolutely fantastic to hear – and even better to hear that it faired so well! I’ve been sidelined with other projects but this is definitely something I want to circle back round to at a later date.

      Thank you for the kind words – it really is amazing to get feedback like that so I really appreciate you taking the time to drop us a comment here.

      – Dunc

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Article by: Duncan Gosling