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"Artillery & guns on a 28mm WWI gaming table" Topic

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World War One

686 hits since 13 Feb 2018
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LostPict Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2018 12:44 p.m. PST

I am educating myself on things WWI and I wondered what types of guns would reasonably be found on a 28mm WWI gaming table. I am assuming infantry mortars and anti-tank guns are reasonable. How about field guns like a British 18 pdr or German 7mm Field Gun or the French 75mm? If so, would they be in prepared position within the trenches or much further back? Thanks!

Duncan Adams13 Feb 2018 1:08 p.m. PST

Once the trenches were in place they'd be much further back.

In the first month or two they would be right on the battlefield – where they slaughtered each other.


MajorB13 Feb 2018 1:12 p.m. PST

Anti-tank guns??

In the First World War?

advocate13 Feb 2018 1:29 p.m. PST

At anything like a 28mm ground scale, definitely no guns. But if you are prepared to go for more of an impressionistic game then yes, smaller field guns might get a look in. I think there's a WW1 variant of Bolt Action, for example. Don't know what Too Fat Lardies Mud and Blood this regard.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2018 1:44 p.m. PST


oUr doing trench raider, combat in No man's land or front assault game? Trench mortars and even machine gun Barrage are more common. Field guns perhaps in a general assault but no in most scrimish games.

LostPict Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2018 3:38 p.m. PST

MajorB, I have seen info on a German 3.7cm ATG and German Anti-tank Rifles. Plus something called the K bullet all apparently hustled out to contend with those new tank things.

I was thinking about 1918 Germans and Brits before the breakthroughs.

whitejamest13 Feb 2018 5:14 p.m. PST

It wouldn't be unimaginable to have a gun position get overrun in the course of an attack. I'm vaguely recalling an excerpt from Alistair Horne's The Price of Glory detailing the bravery of a French artilleryman during the opening phase of the Verdun campaign who had to defend his gun with his rifle, as the Germans had advanced so quickly. If I remember correctly, he had some problems with the fact that his weapon was not firing smokeless powder, and it kept giving away his position. Anyone else recall this?

So if you want a few guns on the table, go for it, you can absolutely design some scenarios to include them. What type of role they play in the game will depend on the scale you are playing at. Even at a small level though they can make some very cool objectives.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Feb 2018 2:34 a.m. PST

To answer the question you need to know the scale of the forces and/or the battlefield, not the scale of the figures.

Plenty of people use 28mm for games where each figure may represent 20 or more men, they are not just used in 1:1 skirmishing.

monk2002uk14 Feb 2018 5:00 a.m. PST

All major nations on the Western Front used anti-tank guns. The most common were standard field guns told off for the AT role. The British used some older guns and 13 pdrs in this role too. The Germans developed dedicated AT guns but not in great numbers. The French repurposed the 37mm infantry gun with ammunition for use against tanks.

The K bullet was developed before tanks appeared on the battlefield. The armour-piercing round was used to take out sniper or observation positions protected by steel shields.


LostPict Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2018 6:54 a.m. PST

Monk2002uk, would the guns in the AT role be up at the trenches? Can you point me to a reference so I can learn more. Thanks.

khanscom14 Feb 2018 3:58 p.m. PST

"Tanks and Weapons of WWI" published by Beekman House gives the (presumably maximum)range of the Rheinmetall 3.7cm AT gun as 2866 yds. Depending on the ground scale of your rules and limitations on target visibility it would probably be OK to have it on-table.

Ferozopore14 Feb 2018 7:59 p.m. PST

In the final months of the war, the Germans deployed small numbers of anti-tank rifles and 3.7cm anti-tank guns. An effective anti-tank measure was machine gun fire aimed at the vision slits. The spalling that resulted was not pleasant and is why many crewmen wore chain mail curtains over their faces. Given the heat, noise and fumes within the tank, it must have been hard duty. In preparation for the German offensive of March 1918, the British deployed 18 pdr field guns on the front line in expectation that the Germans would make use of tanks.

monk2002uk14 Feb 2018 10:24 p.m. PST

I am currently in the process of re-working the Great War Spearhead scenario relating to Operation Michael. This was the first major German offensive in the Spring of 1918. The offensive was launched on March 21st. The focus for the scenario is the German attack on British 30th Division, due west of St Quentin. The attack involved the defense of Manchester Redoubt, during which Lt Colonel Wilfrith Elstob (GOC 16th Battalion Manchester Regiment) won the VC posthumously.

In this sector (as elsewhere along the British line), the main defensive positions were divided into three zones: Forward Zone closest to the German trenches; Battle Zone; and Rear Zone. The latter wasn't really ready by March 21st but the other two were. The Forward Zone was approximately 2000 yards deep from from the forward-most trench line to the rear-most trench line – there were approximately 3 trench lines in total. The front line trench was approximately 1000 to 1500 yards from the German front line trench, i.e. the width of No Mans Land.

The Battle Zone lay 6000 yards from the nearest point in the German front line trench. It was approximately 3000 yards deep, though most of the British defenders were positioned in a line of redoubts between 6000 and 7000 yards from the German jump off points.

In 30th Division, two field artillery batteries were told off for anti-tank duties. The battery nearest to the front line was located in the right-hand defensive sector, which ran next to the St Quentin Canal. This sector was covered by 21st Infantry Brigade. The battery was located approximately 4000 yards from the German line, i.e. about 1000 yards behind the British Forward Zone.

The second anti-tank battery was located in the left-hand defensive sector, which was covered by 89th Infantry Brigade. This battery was back in the Battle Zone.

Most of the British artillery were further back, beyond the Battle Zone.


monk2002uk15 Feb 2018 6:00 a.m. PST

There were very specific examples where field or mountain guns were brought forward into the front line. Neuve Chapelle and the opening day of the Somme are two examples that come to mind. The guns were pulled forward in the night and then fired directly on targets in the German front line.


LostPict Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2018 7:49 a.m. PST

Thanks for all the information. Sounds like in typical use, the guns would be off my table. However, for specific scenarios it could be appropriate to put some guns in position. In my case, I was trying to figure out what to purchase and for the present will not add guns to my shopping list.

As a separate topic regarding the use of tanks, did tanks risk directly crossing their own trench lines during an assault or did they build bridges for them to lumber across?

Thanks again.

monk2002uk15 Feb 2018 8:30 a.m. PST

Cavalry, armoured cars and tanks used specialist engineering functions to clear tracks through their own and through enemy trench systems.


monk2002uk15 Feb 2018 9:04 a.m. PST

There aren't any good references, IMHO, around the use of anti-tank guns in WW1. You will find references around things like specs in books on artillery and Minenwerfer (which were used in direct fire mode against tanks as well as indirect fire from the larger calibre MWs). Specs like range, etc are not particularly good for evaluating the effect of these weapons systems on the battlefield.

The big killer of tanks, by far, was field guns and other artillery. MG fire was not particularly effective at all, not even with K bullets. To really understand the effects of artillery, you need to read books around tank battles i.e. look at this from those on the receiving end. A superb book from this perspective is 'French Tanks of the Great War' by Tim Gale. It describes how French armoured tactics evolved to counter the threat of artillery.


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