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Karpati Airdrij, 1944


The Second World War, Rapid Fire, 20mm

First off, let me thank Bart Zynda for these pictures, as I had a senior moment and forgot my camera. I didn’t have a game planned this week, and simply turned up at the Edinburgh club clutching dice and a tape measure. Colin Jack was kind enough to rope me into his game – a late Second World War clash between the Romanians and the Hungarians. Yes, I know – its hardly mainstream. That’s Colin for you – the more obscure the conflict the better he likes it. Given the choice of which side to be on I found myself paraphrasing Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind. I mean really – who does give a damn?! I was deemed a Hungarian for the evening, and teamed up with Bart and Ray Neal. Colin and Tim Watson played the Romanians, assisted by a father and son duo whose names escape me.Apparently, the Romanians had changed sides near the end of the war, and their new Soviet masters sent them off to fight the Hungarians – their traditional opponents. The only real charm of this was the chance to play with strange-looking tanks. While the Romanians had a few recognisable panzers, backed up by home-grown Tacam tank destroyers, the Hungarian armour was all home-grown – Turan tanks, Zrinyii assault guns and Nimrod self-propelled flak tanks. It got even more bizarre when the aircraft appeared…   This was a meeting engagement, with both sides fighting over a badly beaten up Carpathian town, somewhere close to the Hungarian-Romanian border. We dubbed it Karpati Airdriej (Carpathian Airdrie), as it reminded us of a similar s***hole of a town outside Glasgow. So, the battle for Airdirej was on!Airdriej was built around a crossroads in the centre of the 6×4 foot table, with the opponents coming on from opposite ends. This inevitably meant we both raced up the road to grab as much real estate as we could. For some reason the Romanian got there first, installing their leading infantry company in a ruined building on the Hungarian side of the crossroads. They were soon winkled out thanks to fire from the Zryinni assault guns, and that sort of established the front line for the rest of the game – the battle would be fought along the two lateral roads of the crossroads, as both sides tried to push forward. Our flak tanks proved pretty rubbish, and the shooting of the assault guns grew steadily worse as the game progressed. However, they did their job when the key moment of the battle arrived – a coordinated tank attack by two companies of Romanian Pz IV’s. One tank in each was disabled by a Zryinni, and the Romanians pulled back to regroup. So far so good.That’s when the aircraft came on. First was a Hungarian-owned Heinkel He70, which promptly bombed and knocked out the undamaged panzer. The remaining Pz IV fled the town and its crew abandoned it, which was a great boon to us Hungarians. That left two Romanian Tacam R2 tank destroyers, who were polished off by our battered but unbowed pair of Turan tanks. At that point the Romanian air force made its belated appearance, in the form of an IAR 81 (a sort of Romanian Focke Wulf). Ignoring the ineffective fire from our flack  tanks the Romanian fighter damaged our bomber and sent it from the table. It then tried to bomb one of our tanks, but failed miserably before it flew home too. With that last threat gone it turned out that the Romanians didn’t have any anti-tank weapons, which would have made a continued fight something of a turkey shoot.  They slunk back into the Carpathians, leaving the Hungarians in sole control of the s***hole town. Hurrah!We played the game using Rapid Fire – a set I hadn’t used for years. Fortunately the rest of the gang were well-versed in them, and everything went smoothly. Come to think of it I last played Rapid Fire about 15 years ago, and that was with the original edition. This seemed a little more complex than I’d remembered, but they were still very fast and simple compared to the slightly more detailed WW2 rules I’m used to. I think I have a copy of the rules somewhere, which I should dig out and read, just in case Colin invites me to play another WW2 game in an obscure setting.

 

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