Monday, 5 December 2011

Dyle 'M' for Megablitz - part 1

This large Megablitz game took place in Sheffield in October 2006 and while looking again at the photos recently it occured to me to post them here by way of a game report.  Given the number of pictures (seventy!) I will run them over several posts.
Most toys in Megablitz represent battalion-sized units.  In this case a panzer abetilung of 2 Panzer Division.  This is an old and lightly modified Esci kit.
  First of all, sorry about the title! The scenario was based on the Allied Dyle Plan, which was to sweep through Belgium with the cream of the French and BEF forces to defeat the main German thrust coming the other way. The rationale for this plan was as follows:
  • The Germans had come this way in 1914 and would surely do so again.
  • It was the only viable route for a German attack, the alternatives being the impregnable Maginot Line, and the ‘impassable’ Ardennes region.
  • It would keep the main fighting (and thus, the devastation) out of a France still deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically by the 1914-18 conflict.
This scenario was designed to fit a number of requirements:

  1. I expected around 12 players. Some of them were travelling some distance and thus might be late, and at least one had to leave early. There was a need therefore, to be able to feed players in and out of roles throughout the day.
  2. Many of the players were new or recent converts to Megablitz, so I needed several roles where such inexperience would not unhinge the game.
  3. The last few Megablitz games had involved mid and late WW2 actions (notably Kursk in 2004 and Market Garden in 2005), so I felt that an early-war outing would make a pleasant change.
  4. I have long been deeply interested in the 1940 campaign in the Low Countries and France.
  5. My 20mm toy collection includes shedloads of 1940 French stuff. Much of it obtained from Ian Russell-Lowell and featuring several of his ambitious and intricate scratch-built vehicles.
  6. And finally – John Chaplin’s splendid 1/144 scale scratch-built Fairey Battle. It really is such a nice model that an excuse to use it in a game just had to be found!

Opposing Forces

The French order of battle was fairly historical (note that unit titles and numbers reflect what I had to hand and may not be entirely historical) and included a Cavalry Corps which was to scout ahead of the main body of the Army and in the event of a German advance, hold off the enemy long enough for the 3, 4 and 5 Corps (totalling 7 infantry divisions) to occupy a defensive line covering the Warvre to Namur area. This was an area known as the Gembloux Gap, and the French were told that Belgian Army engineers had prepared defensive positions for them. 

The Armee de l’Air (French Air Force) had a number of units based in the area equipped with Curtiss Hawk 75 fighters together with (hastily scratch-bodged and still smelling strongly of Humbrol varnish) Bloch 131 and Amiot 354 bombers. 

The French were also blessed with the ‘help’ of part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), comprising the 44th (Home Counties) Division and an attached Cavalry (armoured car recce) regiment in the shape of the Fife & Forfar Yeomanry (well I had to get some proper soldiers in somewhere!) A small RAF detachment was potentially available, and great things were expected from the new Fairey Battle light bombers. However, one of their Hurricanes had already been lost when it had force-landed in Belgium prior to the German invasion and was promptly impounded by the Belgians. Rumours abound that it was subsequently used by the Belgian Air Force….   

The Germans, meanwhile, were to emerge from the directions of Maastricht and Liege with an initial force of 2 Panzer Divisions (2 PD & 3 PD) and a motorised infantry division (3  Mot). Heavy Luftwaffe support could be expected, with 3 squadrons of Ju 87 ‘Stuka’ dive-bombers in evidence, together with enough Bf 109 fighters to make the skies very dangerous for Allied aircraft. 

The Course of the Battle

            The progress of the action can perhaps be best appreciated by looking at the ‘photos.
            The French Cavalry swiftly arrived at the Gembloux Gap and immediately demanded their money back from the Belgian engineers – the ‘fortified positions’ were few and poorly constructed. Worse still, as the Germans were soon to prove, they could be easily bypassed. 
            Soon the Germans appeared, with 3 PD on the road from Liege heading for Namur, and the rest of XVI Panzerkorps on the Maastricht – Tienen road. 
            The relative inexperience of the German players showed in their reluctance to bypass areas of resistance, preferring instead kill the enemy rather than encircle it. They were further hampered by the skilful mobile defence conducted by the French cavalry, who had correctly anticipated the German routes of advance.
The playing area, seen from the west.  Using a scale of 4cm=1km, each table was 30km wide by 90km long, giving a total area of 10,800 square km!
Passports please!  The Fife & Forfar Yeomanry arrive at the Belgian border.
Meanwhile to the south, recce from 3 DLM (French light mechanised division) seeks the enemy.

2 DLM takes up position

The French cavalry corps HQ - with appropriately flash car for the General!

Units of 2 Panzer Division advance.

British tourists at Waterloo

Rear echelon units of 2PD
Units of 2PD encounter the British recce screen.

Prussians at Wavre - just like 1815!

Armoured power!  The tank brigade of 3DLM

3 DLM's artillery regiment deploys for action.  Hinchliffe '75, FAA crew and Raventhorpe halftrack.

Cavalry from 3 DLM in Tienen


Paul said...

"Most toys in Megablitz represent battalion-sized units"

I beg to differ Tim, these are not toys, but historical markers. Toys indeed!

Nice eye candy all around!

Keep em coming.

Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


I missed this battle so I am very pleased to read this battle report.

With your permission, I would like to copy parts of it over to the Megablitz website.

All the best,


Tim Gow said...

It's all a question of self-perception. I have no illusions - I play with toys!

Tim Gow said...

Bob Cordery
Sorry it's taken so long! I'll put all the material for this on a CD and send it to you for the website.

Don M said...

Now this is my kind of a game..can't wait to see
the rest!

Tim Gow said...

Don M
Said like the true megalomaniac I know you to be!

Al said...

Really cool game Tim. Early war stuff is the bomb.

Remco said...

Looks like a fun game this been, but better put a solder in the cheqpoint to show the passes to ;-)

Tim Gow said...

I know what you mean - the early period has a certain charm all of it's own.

Tim Gow said...

I think the Belgian Army had better things t do by then than guarding the border with France!

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...


This is the campaign I always wanted to do :)

Waiting for the next instalment with eager anticipation :)

Chris Kemp said...

Dear Tim,

Good to see Ian Lowell's French kit having an outing, especially the scratchbuilt SPAA.

Kind regards, Chris

Tim Gow said...

Glad to be of service. It was a campaign I've long been interested in, so good to represent a reasonable chunk of it in a single toy soldier game.

Tim Gow said...

Chris Kemp
Plenty more of Ian's toys still to come. And a few other dodgy conversions.

The Dancing Cake Tin said...

I missed this battle by 7 years. But I'm here now!

Tim Gow said...

Dancing Cake Tin
Better late then never!