Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Gaming the Falklands war - part one

Sometime last week me and a mate were chatting about the Falklands war and what types of kit the British and Argentinians had and their platoon structure. For the British it was relatively simple to find the platoon breakdown, however I am assuming in time of war and operation, troop weapons etc were rather liberally provided specific to the operation (For example I have heard of several assaults were many more then the section commander smg were used and even Milan's as bunker busters), however it was quite tricky to find Argentinian orbats. The information I found was sketchy and varies greatly with sections/companies/platoons all being differently translated. Even more confusing a section ("Sección") was composed of four platoons whilst A company of infantry had three Sections. (Some had four)

Thanks to the infamous ‘Tango’ from TMP, whom actually served I found the breakdown and it was rather confusing in terms of wargaming

First Sergeant is the leader of the Section. One Sergeant is his second in command, the first platoon had another Sergeant and a Corporal, platoons two to four had only corporals. Each platoon was from 10 men (8 to 12).
Each corporal designated a "dragoneante" (one red bar on his arms) who was a leading men of his platoon. He was the second in command of the platoon.
At combat, a 2nd lieutenant or sublieutenant (Subteniente) took command of the Section (Sección) and the first sargent went to second in command.
Why was this?
Because when you trained, you never trained with officers.
You only trained with NCOs (the worst in the world!).
The only officer who went to see the Company training was the Captain (time to time). Any complain about the NCOs was to be direct in the face of your Captain. Imagine how easy was that! In front of your complete unit in formation!.
Returning to the composition, each Infantry Company had a Captain at charge and a Lieutenant as second in command.
So, you had:
1. Captain.
1. Lieutenant.
2. Sublieutenant.
2. First or Staff Sargents.
4-6 Sargents.
12 corporals.
12 Dragoneantes.
100-140 soldiers.
HQ Company. a Major or senior Captain plus 20 men (two platoons) No heavy weapons.
Those 20 men were only to "serve" the Major and the senior Captain. Usually then never went to combat.
Those 20 soldiers were "recommended" (sons of military or politics, etc) and were most servants, waiters or errand boys. In Falkland (Malvinas) they had to be messengers and carried the wounded.
About the support heavy weapons, the Marine infantry had 60mm mortars and the Land infantry had 81 mm mortars. Only two for each company.
So in a Regiment you had 6 mortars (half never work).
You also had two MAG's (they work very well) served only by NCOs. Soldiers had no training for machineguns. It was prohibited. Recruits only can carried the ammo or the wounded.
So… when the "brave" Sergeants decided that the combat began to be hot and retreat to "inform to the officers" we, the conscripts had to managed to used them "in the spot".
The most decorated Argentine soldier was one of my Regiment because with one MAG sustain for a long time his position with no support (all of his buddies were dead).
He is well known even by the English.
Bazookas? I had not seen any but yes, I saw the blowpipes when they arrived at the islands.
Impossible to forget!.
The senior Seargeant took one and said that is was so easy to used that he didn't need to read any instructions (who were in English and of course he decided that not want any translation from one of his soldiers who had studied that idiom). He point to a ridge, fire and the projectile shoots out…backwards! destroying a pile of drawers with supplies distant at 100 meters.
The face of fear and surprise of that ignorant fool was so comical that all the Company began to laugh to tears!.
Before that, the imbecile decided that those weapons cannot be used!.
He never would accept he was wrong. And so, we had not any to use at combat.
The machine guns Cal.50 were amalgamated to another independent unit not from the Regiment.
At war, the Chief Regiments (Colonels) decided to conform a new unit (Company level) with the best soldiers (?) as snipers and special tasks (as commandos).
It was the "mobile" Company.
Those Companies were conforming with two Sublieutenants, two sargents, two corporals and 40 men.
I was one of the fortunate chosen.”

As this is a little to detailed for the wargame section I reworked the force –

Argentina Forces wargame

Company HQ – 10 men (FN FAL & SMG)

3x Rifle Sections ('Platoons' in British Army), each with:
HQ Group – 4 men (FN FAL & SMG)
3x Rifle Groups ('Sections' in British Army), each of 10 men (FN FAL)
Support Group – 2x FN MAG (bipod) & 3-6x Super Bazooka

Company Support Section – 2x FN MAG (Sustained Fire tripod) & 2x 81mm mortar

Regimental Support Company options:
6x 120mm mortar, 6x M68 105mm RCL, 2x Blowpipe or SA-7 'Grail', 2-6x .50 Cal & Recce Platoon

What Figures?

Next tricky question was which figures to use.  You’ll need troops with uzi, Stirling SMG’s, 50  cals, FN MAGs, bazooka, 81mm mortars and SLR rifles. Uniforms, looking at some of the pictures from the Falklands you’ll need the M1 helmet, generic webbing and some cold weather parka jackets.

All sort of fits with PSC (armiesarmy) metal range of Dutch troops. Uzi, 50 cal, 30 cal, 81mm mortars, SLR, FN MAG, Stirling (Canadian) with the M1 helmet check!

One noticeable exception is the parka coat and goggles some troops wore, so a quick play with some green stuff, small hoods and goggles can be easily attached. It literally takes no more then a minute per figure, less when you on a roll and requires very little skill (thankfully!)

You basically take a blob of putty and shape it onto the shoulders. Make almost a triangle shape and using a clay shaper push the putty into position. Cut away the excess with a blade and then use the blade or another tool to add some ripples in the hood.

The goggles were a little trickier, however if you’re not to fussed it again only takes seconds. It’s a tiny tiny pea of green stuff pushed down with a clay shaper (pointy one) and jobs a  good'un. I then trim off the sides if its to thick after it is mostly dry. 

Whilst not brilliant, a lick of paint should do the job ok for me anyhow.

So, all I need to work out now is the bazooka and I might try modifying a blindcide firing figure I have or get hold of a ww1 US bazooka man. I suspect I might not even need one as very little armor in the Falkland’s.
Finally, the Blowpipe was also used, and the PSC Canadians have one of them with M1 helmet.
Part two to follow 😊

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