The Black Brigade...

The Black Brigade...

Postby Keef » 08 Jun 2015

...or more correctly the 10th Cavalry Brigade, though often the unit is called the 10th Motorised or 10th Mechanised Brigade. Whatever one calls it, this unit will be well known to gamers of the September campaign. I thought I would offer some suggestions for representing it in BGB, as it doesn't appear in the army lists.

For a platoon of the 10th Mounted Rifles or the 24th Ulhans, the starting point has to be the organisation given in the supplement for a cavalry platoon (p.23). What few sources there are indicate a slight difference in the motorised version. My own reference is the Micromark list for the Black Brigade, supported by some of the posts in this online discussion:

http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/showthread.php?t=46272

Platoon HQ - a bit smaller than the cavalry one, with 3 men in a motorcycle combo. Special rules officer, runner.

then 4, rather than 3, 'cavalry' sections, each with 8 men with a wz.28 lmg (i.e. a BAR)

Support options: the 46mm mortar appears to have been absent from these motorised units (as it also seems to have been absent from the mounted cavalry squadrons - a point of disagreement with the lists). So maybe leave this out. On the other hand, in addition to an MMG company within each regiment, each infantry company had its own MMG platoon with 2 wz.30 MMGs. So allow the 'HMG' option to be taken twice. The ATG and Tankette options seem fine as per the cavalry page (p.23). As for anti-tank rifles, one would be an acceptable support option, or it might be more realistic to have one permanently part of platoon HQ, making that unit up to 5, perhaps with another motorcycle for transport or having the whole platoon HQ in a PF508 Lazik.

Transport options would be to lift 2 x 8 man sections in a PF621 or Praga truck, so 2 trucks to lift the whole platoon at a minimum, with platoon HQ on its motorcycles or in its Lazik.

I think the 'Bren' rule would work well with this organisation, allowing the BAR to be split off from the infantry sections when needed.

Tank support would of course be from Vickers light tanks. The platoons were supposed to be 5 tanks strong. The split between mg armed tanks and those with the 47mm gun seems most likely to have been 3 gun tanks to 2 mg tanks. This is the organisation given on the PIBWL military site, which I rate as the definitive online source for 1939 Polish armour. We can also note that of the 38 Vickers tanks the Poles had, 22 were converted to the 47mm gun, with 16 having mg armament, which supports the proportions given above for each 5 tank platoon.
I would add here that I disagree with the AP stats given in the supplement for the 47mm carried by the Vickers tanks. The book gives the guns as L/32, but this is surely incorrect. Check out the appearance of the L/32 47mm on the Somua tank and compare it to the much shorter 47mm in pictures of the Vickers. I would go along with the PIBWL site again and rate the weapon as an L/18-21. AP stats would be 3-3-2-1-1, with HE staying at 3/5+.

The Brigade also had a tankette squadron, so a tankette platoon is fine, but there were no armoured cars in the Brigade organisation. Tankettes should be taken as recce choices, along with infantry sections or motorcycle sections. Recce command would most appropriately be a section in a Lazik car.

Other bits and pieces - the Brigade had a 75mm artillery battery and a 100mm howitzer battery, both of 4 guns. It also had an AA battery of 4 40mm Bofors AA guns. There was a bridging platoon, construction company and engineer platoon, so all these options from the Polish list are available. Regarding a couple of 'unique' SP guns on tankette chassis, don't get confused between the TKD and the TKS-D. The TKS-D is mentioned in the supplement, mounting a 37mm Bofors ATG, but does not appear in the lists. It seems the only 2 TKS-Ds built may have been used in combat in 1939, serving with the A/T platoon of the recce battalion of the Black Brigade. This produces an interesting 'motorised tank hunter' choice under recce support units. Stats would be as for a TKS tankette, but open-topped, armament being a standard 37mm Bofors ATG with 45 degree traverse. The TKD is as given in the lists, being a 47mm SP gun. The 47mm weapon was a wz.25 infantry gun, with AP stats probably falling between the 47mm in the Vickers tanks and the superior 37mm Bofors ATG. I doubt it was an L/45 weapon as given in the BGB lists. The 4 TKD prototypes only had mild steel armour. They might have been used in the defence of Warsaw, but don't seem to have served with 10th Mechanised. Of course, finding models of these 2 weapons is problematic. If anyone knows of either being available in 15mm, let me know!

Talking of Warsaw, there was of course the sister formation of the Black Brigade, the Warsaw Mechanised Brigade. The basic tank, tankette, artillery and infantry elements were the same as for the 10th. There were detail differences in other parts of the brigade, but this post has gone on long enough, so I'll stop there.

Hope this all might be of interest. I strongly recommend both the Micromark lists (http://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/3426/MicroMark-Army-Lists) and the PIBWL site (http://derela.republika.pl/index.htm).

Keith Flint
Last edited by Keef on 08 Jun 2015, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby Keef » 08 Jun 2015

Sorry, meant to mention...

Units of the Black Brigade should all be rated regular, as (IMHO) should all cavalry units. These were the elite of the Polish army. For an infantry platoon of the Black Brigade, my guess at appropriate points and BR would be '9-r BR' and maybe around 80 points. I've no idea what the formula for points is Piers!

Cheers, Keith.
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby Piers » 08 Jun 2015

I was actually thinking of doing a Black Brigade list for Dispatches...

Would you be interested in working on it with me Keith?
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby Keef » 08 Jun 2015

Would love to Piers!

Keith.
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby Greebs » 08 Jun 2015

It's a subject I'm reaaally keen to model - alas, no bugger seems to do suitable infantry minis at 20mm :(

Faa got the leathers, but I've yet to find anyone who does Poles in greatcoats for everyone else...
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby Piers » 08 Jun 2015

Cool beans Keith. We shall look at a list for Dispatches... maybe add in some train rules too?

Greebs, dont Shellhole do a range for 10th Motorised?
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby Greebs » 08 Jun 2015

They do! And shame on me for forgetting, since it was his range that first got me interested in the unit. Alas, it's only Motorcycles with dismounts and a handful of soft skin fillers for the moment.
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby gebhk » 08 Oct 2015

The problem with the two motorised brigades is that although the detailed TOE's of the 10 Cavalry Brigade for end of 1938 are known, the organisation underwent constant evolution right up to the outbreak of the war. Thus the actual structure in September 1939 has to be deduced from a base of the 1938 TOE's, a few surviving uplifts and the accounts of participants along with some guesswork. It is worth noting that, contrary to some comments, both brigades were organised to the same TOE's. Existing differences were the result of their relative stages of development and equipment/personnel availability. The Warsaw Armoured/motorised Brigade was more advanced organisationally but had greater equipment/manpower deficits.

Structurally the rifle elements of the brigade had much more in common with infantry formations than cavalry although in any case sufficiently different from both for neither to be a useful reference.

Platoon HQ consisted of
1 Platoon leader officer armed with a pistol (privately owned so of a variety of makes and calibres)
1 Platoon second in command (senior NCO with pistol)
1 Platoon leader's batman/runner (carbine)
2 Observers/runners (carbine, binoculars, flare pistol)
1 Motorcycle driver (carbine, motorcycle with sidecar - usually Sokol 1000)
2 Drivers (carbine, truck - usually Praga RV)
2 Drivers' assistants (carbine)

Definitely no Lazik's in the platoon. As a general principle, in the motorised cavalry/infantry the Lazik was reserved for company/squadron leaders and some regimental worthies while platoon leaders had to make do with motorbikes.

3x Rifle squad
1 Squad leader (carbine, message pad)
3 Riflemen (carbines)
1 BAR section leader (carbine, hatchet instead of entrenching tool, BAR ammo pouches)
1 BAR gunner (BAR, pistol)
2 Ammunition numbers (carbine, BAR ammo pouches)

It is worth noting that the organisational trend through 1939 was to increase the infantry manpower firstly to 9 men per rifle squad and then, shortly before the war, 10. It is highly likely, therefore that the Warsaw A/M had 9 riflemen in its rifle squads and possibly even 10. 10 CB almost certainly remained with eight.

Sharpshooter section
1 section leader (carbine)
2 sharpshooters (sharpshooting carbine. Almost certainly one or both were to be equipped with an anti-tank rifle. 10th cavalry apparently went to war without and were supplied with them in the second week at the rate of 2 per squadron. Warsaw Armoured/motorised probably went to war with 1 per platoon).

Support:
Definitely no grenade launchers
Each rifle company had a wz 30 MMG 'platoon' of two MMGs on one or, more likely, two (usually Praga RV) trucks under a senior NCO as platoon leader.
Each company had a recce section of section leader (machine pistol) and 4 riflemen mounted on a PF518 Lazik (or equivalent in Warsaw A/M - most likely a Chevrolet pickup) with driver

Regimental support:
10 Cavalry Brigade
Machine gun squadron: 2 platoons of 3 MMG on 1 truck and 1 PF518 lazik each; 1 platoon of 3 MMG on 3 PF 518 Laziks, mortar platoon of 2 81mm mortars on 2 trucks. All platoon leaders on a motorcycle with sidecar.
Motorcycle platoon (recce) - HQ + 6 sections of Section leader (carbine), BAR gunner (BAR, pistol), 3 scouts/ammo numbers (carbines)
AT platoon - 3 wz 36 37mm AT guns towed by PF 508/18 light artillery tractors, platoon HQ on 2 motorbikes with sidecar
Pioneer squad: Squad leader on motorbike with sidecar; 2 sections of NCO + 5 pioneers, both sections mounted on one truck; anti-gas patrol of NCO + 3 gas scouts, the section mounted on a motorbike with sidecar and a light truck (PF 618 would be a good candidate)
TKS platoon of 6 tanks, two armed with 20mm AT guns until 12/9 (I could be wrong about the date) when they were taken away to make good losses in the independent tank coy.

Warsaw A/M
Machine gun squadron as above but with two rather than one mortar platoons
Recce squadron: motorcycle platoon as above, TKS platoon as above but without 20mm gun tanks; bicycle platoon of two squads on two trucks and motorcycle with sidecar.
AT platoon as above
Pioneer platoon as squad above but probably with the addition of 2-3 mining sections on PF 508 pickups with NCO+2 pioneers equipped with anti-tank mines on each and a platoon HQ on motorbikes with sidecar.

Brigade support
Light tank company 16 Vickers tanks: one gun-armed in HQ, 3 platoons of 3 gun armed and 2 MG armed tanks per platoon.
Reconnaissance tank company: 13 TK tanks, 1 in company HQ, 2 platoons of 5 tanks + support tank in each platoon. Platoons in 10 CB had 2 20mm guns per platoon, Warsaw A/M probably not. In the 10 CB, the company was broken up to provide platoons for the two motorised cavalry regiments.
Artillery battalion: 1 75mm gun battery + 1 100mm howitzer battery in 10 CB; 2 75mm gun batteries in Warsaw A/M. All batteries of 4 tubes each.
Recce battalion: HQ; TKS squadron (as above); rifle squadron on trucks, motorcycles and Lazik 518 cars (including 2 mortars); anti-tank platoon of 4 towed guns and 2 self-propelled; machine gun platoon (4 guns) on Lazik PF 518 cars or on pickups; pioneer platoon (probably identical to the platoons of motorised cavalry regiments above)
Anti tank battalion: HQ + 2 companies of 9 guns in 3 platoons (18 guns in total - W A/M had less due to shortages of guns and tractors).
Warsaw A/M had a flight of close support aircraft attached.
AA battery of 4 40mm Bofors and 8 AAMG.
Engineer battalion: HQ, recce and defensive company; construction company; bridging platoon

Hope this helps
Last edited by gebhk on 19 May 2016, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby Keef » 24 Oct 2015

Great post Gebhk, very useful information. Obviously some significant differences with what I had picked up. The brigade as you describe it certainly seems to be light on infantry. Can you point me to any of your sources?

Thanks, Keith.
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby gebhk » 24 Apr 2016

Good morning

Apologies for the long delay Keef - I have not visited for a while.

The main source is Krzysztof M Gaj's 10. Brygada Kawalerii w 1939 roku. This is a monumental work by a trained armoured forces officer. It describes the organisation down to the last man, rifle and motorcycle, also providing a professional analysis of capabilities and function (both on the battlefield and administratively). However it is based on the 1938 organisational and weapons allocation charts and as I mentioned above, (a) significant changes were made to the TOE's between 1938 and September '39... some even after the war commenced; (b) Gaj's book provides transcriptions of the charts - however it is virtually impossible to avoid transcription error in any such endeavor and there are almost certainly some in Gaj's work (c) TOE's is one thing and reality is another.

Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum: BI - collection of accounts of the participants in the 1939 Polish Campaign. Particularly BI-58 (10 CB) and BI-85 (WAMB).

Good information can be obtained on a some of the armoured sub-units on http://wp39.struktury.net/index.html

I have a reasonable collection of accounts and TOE uplifts from CAW (Cantralne Archiwum Wojskowe - Central Military Archives) but since I did not have to search for them myself, I can't help much with referencing colections beyond the references for the individual items.

Some snippets can also be found in biographical works of participants.

I would opine that probably more significant than it's lightness in infantry was its lack of artillery support. It was intended as a 'road bump' to be placed in the way of advancing armoured thrusts - and as such a predominantly defensive force capable of laying down heavy machine gun and anti-tank fire. The role of rifle armed infantry is somewhat limited in this type of engagement. The brigades were never intended to be used as a mini panzer divisions as some authors seem to imagine.

Best wishes
K
Last edited by gebhk on 08 Jun 2016, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby gebhk » 24 Apr 2016

Greeb

The FAA figures are in the main wearing greatcoats or at least that is what they were supposed to be and they are far closer to greatcoats than the leathers. Basically I would paint up anything well below the knee as a greatcoat. However it was by and large very warm in September '39, so any dismounted Polish cavalry with a head swap would probably make more historically convincing motorised brigade personnel. And that is before I even start causing outright outrage by saying 1/3 of at least the Pulk Strzelcow Pieszych (Foot Rifle Regiment) of the Warsaw brigade went to war in workshop overalls, 'cos that was all that could be procured for them!

All the best
K
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby Keef » 05 Jun 2016

Thanks very much K. It's a great shame that more of the Polish work on the 1939 invasion hasn't made its way into English language sources. Frustrating for someone like myself who enjoys the research but has no language skills!

Cheers, Keith.
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby gebhk » 06 Jun 2016

No problem. Happy to answer any questions. There has been a veritable explosion of research on Polish 1939 organisation in the last ten years or so, with a number of keen minds applying themselves to the subject and digging up hitherto unknown material.

I know what you mean about language boundaries. I have a similar problem with German alas, which makes designing wargames around historical events in September 1939 difficult. One-sided stories are never very satisfactory, although the makers of certain films may beg to differ!

Best wishes
Krzysztof
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby Piers » 06 Jun 2016

Great info Gebhk... I know who to talk to when I want to write my Poland 39 scenario book...
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Re: The Black Brigade...

Postby gebhk » 06 Jun 2016

Happy to help
K
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