Wednesday, June 2, 2010

FoW Cossacks!

First a little background. My fascination with all things Russian transcends differing time periods. You just can't do Russians (from Napoleonic to WWII) without the ubiquitous horse units that were part of their history since the mid 17th century. With that long history it's no wonder that most people associate Cossacks with Russians.  

For me it goes all the way back to the early 60's when I saw the epic 'Tarras Bulba' as a young lad.

Yul Brynner as the archetypal Cossack hetman. 

This movie and his title role caught my imagination. Although I always had a problem with Tony Curtis. He was too pretty in this film and in this one when he was paired with another great: Kirk Douglas.

But I digress... Sadly, I never found any plastic Cossacks in those early years for me to game with. Now a days you can practically find any type of unit however obscure. Don't believe me, check this out:

Now I just discovered that a foreign remake (in Polish and Russian) has already been released last April 2009. I haven't seen it but thankfully it's available on DVD from Amazon. I'm hoping that it'll be more authentic than the earlier Hollywood version.  

And I'm so looking forward to lots of eye candy particularly the Polish Winged Hussars charging against the Cossack host!

Read all about it:
Fast forward to 2005: on a visit to SoCal (when I officially returned to gaming) my old wargame buddies gifted me with FoW boxed sets of a Panzergrenadier Platoon and a Strelkovy Company. For good measure they threw in the rulebook and a couple of Intelligence Handbooks for the Eastern Front: 

Needless to say, I got hooked as they knew I would be. Soon I found out about the upcoming release of:

Now, bar none, this had to be one of the best pictures I've seen that really captured the heroic (albeit suicidal) Cossacks fighting along with their Tankovy brethren. The next step was for me to acquire the book and the box.

So with all that background, I was chomping at the bit (pun intended) to incorporate a Cossack unit for my FoW Russians. Before I had a chance to fight with them I had fun posing them in this diorama.

Don Cossacks thundering thru steppes!

Attacking a railhead

with Sturmoviks in support.

Meanwhile, here comes the German relief column. God only knows how that battle ended.

Cossacks are a fun unit to field however it takes a bit of finesse as I was soon to find out. At a recent FoW battle playing the Road Block scenario I was able to use my Cossacks in support of a Tankovy Batalon. A platoon of T34s and T70s were speedily dispatched to hold the first objective (represented by the downed FW109 marker).

After a few turns I had my Cossacks charging full tilt to secure the second objective (represented by the stack o'crates).

Dismounted to support the tanks, they are ready to rumble. Note the burning T34 on the right.

Urrah, urrah!!  Second objective taken and held.

Historically both sides used them. They were perfect for the steppes and were very good fighters. Just a word of caution with these units. I know it's tempting but be very careful about charging your horse into dug-in and blazing machine gun positions. It just won't do unless you're shooting a movie or posing a shot.

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