So it’s 2024 and this year sees a number of a significant anniversaries marking key events from WW2 and for us here at BtA we are planning a number of themed activities across the year to mark the 80th anniverssary of the Normandy landings centering on a major event involving the Shoot&Scoot podcast Patreons in June, not surprisingly, and a bit of a take over at Warfare in November with Fez in charge! Back in 2019 for the 75th anniversary I built a US Beach Assault force from the D-Day American Book for the Battlefront UK Open Day and then added a Britsh Breaching Group Force with the D-Day British release during the covid lockdown months here in the UK. You might spot a bit of a glaring gap here, both my Forces are Allied! So, for the 80th anniversary I am embarking on Project 716.
My aim here is to build a more thematic Force rather than a tournament gaming force based on Static Infanterie Division 716 who provided the majority of the troops manning the Atlantic Wall, opposing the Allied landings on the morning of June 6th for the Pateon event in June. Luckily Battlefront have a rather helpful page on 716ID which provides a good starting background to this formation and some sign posts of what to look into more for building my Force. Another great source for the of actual Order of Battle was niehorster.org
Over the next few months I’ll bring you my modelling, painting and hopefully some gaming updates on how this project progresses. But first of all I needed to develop a list of what I needed to collect up in general and to explain a few of the ground rules I have set myself for this project.
The ground rules
- Build a list to reflect the history not just what works best in gaming terms.
- Try and utilise as many bits from my bits box as possible afterall we are experiencing a serious financial crisis here in the UK – so I’ll be keeping careful track on my spending.
- Model the teams to represent as much as possible how they were really deployed – artillery and mortar teams in gun pits, anti-tank guns and HMG’s were emplaced in lone fixed positions not used in batteries.
- Select Formation units in preference to Support units of the same type – 716 received very little external support until late in the day on June 6th so I will need to curb my gamers instinct here.
716 were a static division meaning they were fixed in one place and had little in the way of mobile assets and no integral tank support. They were second line troops at best and not equipped with the latest weaponry, plus the Division had been denuded of experienced fitter men during the early part of 1944 to feed the Regiments on the Easternfront. So the starting point for the project is going to be a German D-Day Grenadier Beach Defence Force and after looking through the Divisions OOB and components on the day they fielded 3 companies at each of Omaha, Gold, Sword and Juno beaches which is great as they can face off against both my Allied forces. I will have as much in 3’s as I can starting with 3 infantry platoons for my Formation these can be equipped as Rifle/MG or MG teams given the division was 2nd line I have decided to go with two Rifle/MG platoons and one of MG teams. All the platoons will be reinforced with Panzerfausts and bulked up with Panzershrek anti-tank teams as well as integrated HMG teams, the one thing which were in plentiful supply. My ideas is to model these with half the platoon teams manning the forward position with the remainder moving up through the dunes to reinforce the positions. Luckily I have all the German infantry from a couple of Hit the Beach starter sets available to make these from.
Next I am adding a separate sHMG platoon and both an 81mm and 120mm mortar platoon options. I intend to model the 81mm mortars in Tobruk pits (using spare mortars and crew from a box of SdKfz250 half-tracks) whilst the HMG platoon will be given the Nests Command Card and modelled using (XBX02) MG Bunkers & Nest from my stores. The heavier 120mm mortars will be done as field emplacements rather than concrete built positions as these weren’t deployed right in the front line but a little further back to take advantage of their extra range. These will have to be new model purchases but will be able to double up with my exisiting MW Grenadier Force.
So thats 6 platoons and an HQ and only £13.50 spent.
Next up is some integral heavier Artillery and AT support and here I am going to utilise some left over parts from the Battlefront Puma kit to build some concrete and steel Pak40 emplacements these will benefit from the PakFront Command Card so I can spread them across the platoons. The idea is to use the puma super structure to form a steel lip around a concrete base made from foam card. Another “free unit”.
My Regimental artillery will comprise a unit of 7.5cm infantry guns which are a great duel role unit. These were hidden amongst the small copses behind the initial dunes and cliffs, they will hopefully deal with anything that breaks through the front line, again these will do double duty with my existing MW Force. Lastly I am planning on adding a pair of 15cm guns again using the PakFront CC so I can deploy them as individual gun nests after all a 1 gun bombardment is as effective as a 2 gun bombardment and I get 2 templates rather than one which should increase their efficiency over all. I have some captured early war French 15cm howitzers which I will be using for these, as it fits with the equipment the unit actually had and they look massive!
This brings me to 8 platoons and only 2 of them will I actually have to buy.
With my Formation fully populated I am going to add in some troops from 1716 Artillery Regiment equipped with Czech 10cm leFH14/19(t) howiters representing a Support 10.5cm Artillery Platoon. There is a great article on one way to create these again on Battlefront’s web site using the Italian Skoda 100mm guns sprues but I didn’t have those available, and so I rather cheated on the modelling front with Ian and Lawrence at Irregular Minatures suppling me with an assortment of bits from various guns with which I hope to make some unique models for this unit based on the photo below. Crews are all coming from an old Battlefront LW German Artillery Crew blister I had in the cupboard of opporunity. Adding this unit creates an opportunity to develop a custom forward artillery observer team using the radio operator from the same blister which will replace the regular Panzer III OP Team in my force.
So overall for my Formation I have spent the grand total of £41 thanks to spome creative thinking and not throwing away anything left over when I build other models.
My final points are going to be spent on a platoon from 716 Panzerjaeger just incase the Allies have any serious armour after all they tried to use Churchill tanks in Dieppe. 716 Panzerjaeger was equipped with some form of motorised Pak40’s (possibly field built) and some Marder Tank Hunters. I have gone with the Marders to provide some form of properly mobile troops in any Reserves I need. I couldn’t find a definitive answer on exactly what sort of Marder they had so I have taken the opportunity to again raid my bits box and made use of the left over Marder Hulls, from my Hungarian Hetzer platoon build last year, this will furbish them with a platoon of 3 vehicles which I will field using the 21st Panzer Division 7.5cm (SF) Hotchkiss Assault Gun Formation Support platoon as D-Day Germans can’t access a regular Marder platoon in their Force diagram and luckily the profiles are almost identical. I will need to acquire some track units for these but luckily I know a man with a 3D printer!
So there you have it my target list for defending the Atlantic Wall on D-Day 80 – my models are a mish mash of something old, something new and something spare, over all I spent just over £50 in assembling the models which is somewhat of a saving. Now to get on with some modelling ready for my next update. Martin