1,500 point Meeting Engagement for Kursk.
Sunday 11th saw the forces of the Red Army and the Wehrmacht mass on the rolling steppes south of Prokhorovka for a large Kursk game of KGN, with each of the three player’s a-side controlling a 500 point battle group.
The table was a 6’x16’ representation ‘loosely’ based on the area south of Prokhorovka, both side of the main railway line and reaching to the Psel river to the west. The western table, including the river, was slightly advanced of the other tables, and linked eastwards at the Oktiabrski state farm, then Hill 252, the railway line and beyond it the Stalinskoe state farm and finally a large balka. In these two pictures you can see the full table looking east to west, and then west to east with the village of Preslinoye by the river.
The view east to west. Balka and Stalinskoe state farm.
The view west to east. Psel and Preslinoye.
There were eight objectives on the table. The Psel river footbridge (infantry to cross only), Preslinoye church, a road junction south of the village (marked by a knocked out T-34), the largest barn at the Oktiabrski state farm, the summit of Hill 252 (marked by another knocked out T-34), the largest building at the Stalinskoe state farm, the balka bridge and the hill top opposite the state farm (marked by a hung German prisoner!).
After set-up, the players gathered to discuss deployment and make a plan. The Germans deployed with the Tiger tanks in the very centre holding the hill, flanked by my own battle group on the right holding Stalinskoe state farm, and the other attacking Preslinoye with its Pz IVs and STuGs. On the Russian right was a Tank Corp battle group including 10 T-34 supported by SU-76s and infantry (including 2 bomb dogs). A second Tank Corps of 10 T-34s and 6 T-70 would storm the centre and the Oktiabrski state farm, carrying tank riders, with an infantry force including a full strength infantry company, lots of mortars, cavalry and 3 KV-1s as support would be attacking Stalinskoe.
Each player started with 6 units dug-in on the table already, with the rest arriving at a rate of 2D6 units per player per turn.
As a large escalating engagement the command and control roll started at 1D6 on turn 1, then 2D6 on turn 2, 3D6, 4D6 and maxing out at 5D6 from turn 5 onwards, plus each side’s total remaining command units, and then divided as the players wished. This worked very well, with the activations growing as the forces did, but they were always in short supply, and the three players on each side did a bit of horse trading with them, giving them away if one player felt particularly pressing need for the lion’s share (so that would be every player then!).
DEPLOYMENT AND TURN 1
After each side had deployed their 6 units we kicked off, with the Russian players winning the roll off for first turn. The centre wasted no time in sending the first wave of 6 T-70s racing forwards at top speed, their 45mm guns blazing to little effect.
The Russian infantry began their advance on the left with a great Urrah! and surged along the balka, it presenting no barrier to infantry, as a tidal wave of 12 squads plus 3 command units , plus MMG teams, AT rifle teams etc, were all hacking through the safety of the woods and concealed ground.
But not for long as the German artillery spotter called up his off-table Nebelwerfer battery and began shelling the edge of the balka, along with an 80mm mortar.
In the centre the Tigers slowly moved up to the hill top to dominate the ground and defy the Russians to kill them. The single Tiger at the state farm began by missing the speeding T70s, but hard on their heels the first T-34s appeared, racing through the light tank’s dust clouds to close in carrying infantry. Unfortunately the Russian radio’s failed them and the Katyusha battery, sitting waiting to open fire on the hill top never got the call, and the Tigers were saved that punishment for now.
On the German left the very first casualty of the game was a pioneer squad’s Hanomag, hit by a lucky 45mm AT gun inside its bunker. A surprise German attack on the narrow western bank of the impassable river also set off, with no Russians to face them it looked like the footbridge could be stolen from under the Russian’s noses.
Urrah! The red banner flies as the Soviet infantry advance along the balka.
With both forces streaming onto the table and outstripping each commander’s ability to use them the battle was hottest in the centre - the bold T-70s raced past the state farm and found themselves in combat with two 105mm guns on the German table edge, knocking out one and the other, outclassed in this battle, hooked up and retreated rather than be destroyed. The T-70s were countered by the arrival of a Panzer III squadron and they started to take losses. The T-34s behind surrounded the state farm , deploying tank riding infantry squads into close assault range, whilst five T-34s attacked west of the hill in line abreast, and were very roughly handled by the Tigers and Panzer IVs, which executed all 5 in no time at all, turning the hillside into a tank graveyard.
Meanwhile, the Stalin’s Organs opened up a blizzard of fire on the hilltop and suppressed a Tiger tank, too late now though to save the tanks!
The surprise German flank attack runs into trouble with a T-70! Even the Stuka only suppressed the light tank.
On the German right, the Russian infantry attack looked overwhelming, so after some pleading a Feisler Storch began circling over the balka, and calling in any fire it could. Corps providing 150mm howitzers and then 105s to take up the slack whilst the Nebelwerfers reloaded. The heavy artillery slowed the attack, suppressing units and began to whittle away the numbers. In return the Stalinskoe state farm came under sustained 82mm and 120mm mortar fire.
The Feisler Storch looks down on the balka and the approaching horde.
At Preslinoye the Germans push up the road and reached the outskirts despite Suka fire, but the T-34s were ominously massing on the table edge for the counter-stroke. At the footbridge bridge a single T-70 was holding the western end and started to destroy the approaching Hanomags and truck, which had no AT weapon to respond with. The attack stalled, despite the first aircraft to arrive, a Stuka screaming in over the village to unleash its bomb payload.
Massing T-34s and infantry outside Preslinoye, eek! Suka's in the frontline just ahead.
The fighting at the state farm was all at close range. But the Germans were holding on, MGs blazing and the Brummbar moved up in support, only to rapidly run out of ammunition, and with no machine gun it was now useless. It withdrew but no ammunition vehicle was close by - so much for the vaunted new weapon.
The Tigers resisted all that was thrown at them, and it was a lot. Attacks with magnetic mines failed, Katyusha barrages failed, T-34 rounds bounced, they seemed unstoppable as they continued their own execution of T-34s with alarming speed!
The T-70s start to pay for the boldness. The T-34s behind have already fallen to the Tiger 88s.
The T-34 graveyard, all five quickly destroyed by the Tiger and 3 Panzer IVs - ouch!
How the fighting flared on the German right, as the Russian infantry arrived to attack the bridge objective, now held by two rapidly deployed panzer grenadier squads with MGs and Hanomags in support. In close quarters fighting amidst the woods and balka the MGs took a heavy toll in dead and suppression. The first Russian platoon was wiped out, but the second moved up and the attrition was only ever going to end one way. Still, the Feisler Storch did sterling work keeping the Nebelwerfers hammering the balka, and all but halting the third platoon’s advance. The panzer grenadiers sold their lives dearly, as both Hanomags were destroyed by AT rifle fire, but much of the Russian second platoon was expended by the time the grenadiers were wiped out.
Grenadiers deployed to defend the balka bridge, Hanomags are just behind out of shot.The Russians just kept on coming.
The Russian left flank commander also initiated a second direct attack, cavalry and KV-1 s moving down the hill to cross the open ground towards the weakly defended farm complex (much of them now lost to mortar fire). A Marder raced up and engaged the KV-1S, but lost the exchange of fire and was destroyed (when will my Marder kill something?). The cavalry reached the wall, only to run into a wall of MG fire from the last defenders who showed no mercy in destroying them. With heavy mortar fire still raking the farm buildings the last few defenders hung on.
A Marder moves up to engage, failed to penetrate the frontal armour and was quickly destroyed by return fire - rubbish!
Meanwhile, on the German left the Soviet T-34 charge began as 10 T-34s raced forwards, past their Suka line and out into the fields beyond. A tremendous site (except for the 3 STuGs facing it) it seemed all must be lost. Except that the STuGs responded in awesome style, quickly destroying 6 tanks at point blank ranges. Even the arrival of Russian LaG fighter dropping its bombs and strafing didn’t help the attack, as the forward deployed K18 100mm cannon proved itself a fearsome ad-hoc AT gun.
Having bided their time, on the Russian right the T-34s roll.
Facing off the incoming T-34 charge.
The air forces hadn’t finished yet either. The Luftwaffe returned with a FW-190F, its single bomb missed, but a later strafing run against the Katyushas did brew one up. To be honest the Stuka should have attacked them, because their firepower was frightening, and the Germans rather wasted their air support on lesser targets. Lesson learnt.
The fight at Oktiabrski state farm continued, but the arrival of a second motor rifle platoon, rumbling cross-country in their trucks swung the balance, and the last Germans were expelled. Their supporting impotent Brummbar was simply ignored, and its chance to re-arm vanished when the closest re-supply truck was destroyed in another Katyusha strike whilst re-arming the command Tiger. The Tigers had run out of ammo, and had to pull back in search of more shells. It was whilst seeking ammo that the command Tiger was knocked out in a Katyusha barrage, finally succumbing after heroic resistance. Still, the other two were still on the prowl.
Impotent beast, the Brummbar at Oktiabrski, as the Russians take the objective. Note, the T-70 is also empty and attempting to escape back to its own lines (it didn't make it).
After ten turns both sides were all but spent forces. On the German right Stalinskoe state farm had held, but just 5 men and a Hanomag of the panzer grenadier platoon remained holding the buildings amidst the mortar fire and KV-1 HE rounds.
On the left the massed T-34 attack had been annihilated, but the Sukas remained untouched, but all needed reloading. In return the STuGs had been wiped-out as had the Panzer IVs. The Russians could claim to have had the better of it, marginally.
The centre saw the Russian moor rifles press on and capture the state farm objective, but the Panzer IIIs counter-attacked with the last of the grenadiers in support. Hill 252 was firmly under the Tiger’s treads, having been re-armed one was now back in the fight.
Like a rock in the tide, Hill 252 surrounded by the destruction. The command Tiger has been knocked out, as has its re-supply half-track.
Our time was up. At 1700 we called an end to the destruction and added up the morale totals. The side closest to 0 would have lost. Of their 126 morale total the Russians had lost 101, leaving just 25. Of 132, the Germans had lost 96, leaving 36 – a narrow victory for the Germans, put really very close. Of the objectives the Germans could claim to be holding three, whilst the Russian claimed four, with the final objective unclaimed at the balka bridge.
The steppes littered with burning wrecks as the LaG and FW-190 zoom overhead.
The losses on both sides had been heavy, here are the principle vehicle losses.
Germans Started Lost
Tigers 3 1
Panzer IVs 9 6
Panzer IIIs 4 0
STuGs 3 3
Marder 1 1
Brummbar 1 0
Hanomags 12 6
Russians Started Lost
T-34s 21 19 – ouch!
T-70s 7 6
KV-1S 3 0
SU-76 3 0
Katyusha 2 1
It was truly a great game, epic! It had many memorable moments, and the T-34 charges were both a site to behold, even if they did go up in smoke as the German 75s and 88s did their execution work. The T-70s vs 105mm howitzers was a classic, as was a bomb dog that almost destroyed a command PzIV. The Feisler Storch+Nebelwerfer combination saved my bacon, but it was so nearly shot down by AA fire it returned looking like Swiss cheese. The Brummbar was a big letdown, but my personal highlight was filling the balka with Russian dead to just deny them the bridge by the last turn. I thought the hordes would never stop! For the Germans the Tigers proved their worth, they took everything the Russians could throw at them and came back for more! Surprise package for the Russians was the three lowly SU-76s, which proved very useful and racked up a few tank kills to no losses.