Sunday, 2 April 2017

Konigsberg Game 5. Defending Wilhelm-Friedrich Platz

Game 5 of the Konigsberg campaign,and it was time to drive into the suburbs of Konigsberg itself. The game would be a Urban Assault scenario, fought through the Rathshof suburb, round the Wilhelm-Friedrich Platz, along Lawsker Alle (main road into town from the west) and an area called Schrebergarten on my map, which I think is allotments, well, an area of open(ish) grass/park anyway.

My Russians would be continuing the drive into the city centre, defended by the last remnants of the battered Volksgrenadier and any available extra man that could stand having a rifle shoved into his hands. Having won the previous game the Germans still had their 50 point advantage, so it is 700 points for the Reds, vs 750 points of Germans.

My force is listed below;

FHQ in Gaz Jeep            23    3-r    senior off, art spotter
Rifle Platoon                   58    5-i    off, mortar spotter
Rifle Platoon                    58    5-i    off, mortar spotter
Pioneer Assault Platoon        178    10-v    off, mortar spotter, engineers, assault troops
‘Razvedka’ Patrol                   56    4-e    scout, art spotter, air spotter 4+, BEL
Sniper                                     10    1-v    sniper-scout
ISU-152 Battery (2)              145    6-r    off
Supply trucks x2                     16    1-i    re-supply
Hvy Mortar Battery                 58    2-i    2 x 120mm mortars
OT-34                                      52    3-r   
Timed Katyusha strike            25    0    Turn 3, on centre of platz.
Timed PE-2 air strike              20    0    8 small bombs. Turn 4, on hotel/casino/bunker

Totals                                      699    40 BR    5 officers, 2 scouts


The enemy were a Volksgrenadier platoon, an Auxiliary platoon (armed civilians), supported by a Pak-40 in a concrete bunker (under the hotel/casino overlooking the platz), a 20mm Flak truck, a SdKfz 251/22 panzerjager and a unit of veteran assault pioneers mounted in the last moving half-track in Konigsberg, with a recon fusilier patrol dug-in across the Platz, supported by a Goliath demo-team (weird, but desperate times I guess). As Defences, the Germans had some foxholes, a fortified building and the PaK bunker. So, an infantry fight then.

My plan was to use my infantry to lead the attack as a screen, behind their screen the assault pioneer squads would closely follow, hopefully using reserve move and close assault orders to clear buildings by bursting through the bullet-screen very quickly. The ISU-152s would hang back (beware the rooftop Panzerfaust!) and target lynchpin buildings to bring them down. The OT-34, well, he’d be a rude surprise and lead the attack across the allotments, were there were no AT guns deployed. Meanwhile, the hiding scouts would be calling in my mortar fire and hopefully guiding the VVS onto targets too (so they’d have to avoid getting killed early in the battle this time).

Time for the off. After deployment the Germans were occupying 3 objective buildings and had out-scouted me too - 4 counters - ouch, I had 2 objectives (thanks to the scout’s Behind Enemy Lines deployment ability). My BR total jumped to 10 straight away, but I did get a Air Attack chit (which then failed to show).

To start with the Germans dug-in and got onto ambush fire, expecting the Russian onslaught. It didn’t come, I hung back, called in mortar fire and awaited the reserves… more infantry, pioneers and the ISUs. I didn’t want to attack piecemeal. I also withdrew the scouts and FHQ’s jeeps, no point in getting them mortared. Still, the German MGs covering the Platz, (3 MG-34s and a HMG-42 with loader team), began their work, pinning down my leading infantry and platoon HQ in a blaze of bullets, and my sniper got killed. Incoming 105mm artillery hammered my forward buildings and added to the carnage, 2 squads broke (morale rolls failed me this game, the number of 1 and 2s for pinned squads saw me lose at least 5 to routing!). It was one way traffic, as my mortars made little bent on the enemy. Then the ISU-152s rolled in, targeting the HMG teams building, 3 152mm hits scored 2 structure points, it was almost down after the first turns of firing. The MG team was pinned inside too, so doomed to a messy end in the collapse (I thought).

My infantry headed out across the parkland/allotments, with the OT-34 amidst them and hammering away with MGs to keep heads down (and failing). By turn 3 most of my reserves had arrived, including the 2 resupply trucks to re-arm the ISUs (ammo 2!). Then my timed Katyusha strike hit, get in! 12 dice, 6 6s, right in the middle of the Platz, and it was carnage, 3 wiped out German units including the Goliath team (to many boos, they hadn’t had a chance to go-off yet - thankfully). A lot of pinning also, including the PaK-40 in its ‘bunker’, well given the cover saves it made, that bunker was not reinforced concrete… unerringly rolling 1s, jerry build! When another PaK gunner was killed by 120mm mortar shrapnel the jittery crew abandoned the fight - good, the ISUs had free rein over the Platz. Their continued fire into the building hammered it, but in 11 dice I rolled not one 6, still the building stood!

Reeling from the Katyusha pounding the German’s orders failed them, with just 5, the artillery stopped and the hellish MG fire was reduced, my infantry might actually now get moving… a few reinforcements arrived, including the pioneer squad in their half-track, looking to counter-attack just north of the Platz. In the allotments, the Russians kept coming, with little to stop them at the moment. An auxiliary squad tried to engage them with rifle fire and pinned themselves in fear - just can’t get the recruits these days!

Gotterdammerung continued on turn 4, as my PE-2 timed strike dived in and hammered the hotel/casino strongpoint, 3 bomb direct hits later and German senior officer was dead and the auxiliary squad within smashed and pinned (2 men still alive). The incoming ambush fire from the 20mm Flak truck was ineffective and the PE-2 climbed away, job done! The German counter stack had raced up and the picture was glum, already I guesses they were at later 20s, on average chits, and his total was just 36… the punishment was horrific. I was still at just 17 from my 40 total, plenty of breathing room… it was in the bag! Or not…

How luck turns, from a bad start, to great recovery, to a disastrous few turns. My ISUs continued to fail to score the last vital six they needed to bring the building down (unreal the odds on this by now), I lost another infantry squad to MG fire and, the Luftwaffe showed up, a FW-109 buzzing in… the last aircraft over the city. Its accurate bombs smashed my attack in the allotments, destroying a infantry squad with a direct hit (large bomb!) and my OT-34 with another, it pealed away in triumph, and my right flank attack was over, the last few men I pulled back to save the chits.

The Germans now counter-attacked, the pioneers attacking a vulnerable pinned rifle squad north of the Platz, only they failed to spot and the red riflemen were saved from a horrid death-by-flammenwerfer. The pioneer's MG team did score 1 casualty and my riflemen got a ‘Beyond the Call of Duty’ morale roll. 2 spots later and their return fire with rifles and DP LMG destroyed the pioneers and pinned their MG team. So much for that counter attack… 1 pinned enemy squad showing true Russian grit. Notable, the Germans had now stopped unpinning, the game would surely be up soon.

It was my turn to assault, pinning the 3 man rifle team with DP fire, my pioneers then assaulted them. Straight in with 11 attacks, 8 hits scored… and 7 hard cover saves then made! What, 1 man dead!  The return attack killed 2 of my men… grr! The German morale test was… Beyond the Call of Duty… the 2 survivors opened fire and killed 4 more Russians, leaving the last man pinned, so he ran… my veteran assault troops had been wiped out by 3 pinned Volksgrenadiers… err, how? Now I knew how the German pioneers felt. I wouldn’t be the last time either.

To add insult to injury my ISU-152 again failed to bring down that tottering building, now 24 dice rolled and no sixes! The other ISU was pinned by artillery fire last turn, so was useless to me. Then, in the German turn, the FW-190 returned and strafed my 120mm mortars with twin 20mm cannon fire, wiping one out, another chit… and a big one, a 5! I was now just 3 points off breaking… it was all going wrong… more German artillery fire, more pinning… but now I couldn’t unpin either.

This was it, next chit would surely win it one way or the other, and it was my go, having moved some troops out of the line of fire, and managed to pin his Volksgrenadier platoon HQ, and sent my Ravzedka team (elite) to assault them. Throwing grenades they scored 5 hits, and again 4 were saved. 1 man dead and a morale test, and.. again. BtCoD! Hell, the Lieutenant and his men automatically unpinned and opened fire. MP-40s blazing my elite scouts were wiped out (not again!), and that chit was a 4… end of game, Russians broken.

The Germans had somehow survived everything I’d thrown at them. They were on 35 from 36 BR, and had been for 4 turns! I just couldn’t force a single chit on them… everything deserted me in the end, dice, chits, hope!. Oh the frustration, but oh the fun!

Another defeat, and one snatched from what looked like a solid win. My men pulled back and regrouped to try again in the afternoon. More artillery support needed I think (and bigger guns).

It was an ace game, close, so, so close, and with twists and turns and odd events. 3 times assaults had been countered by good morale tests, and the Luftwaffe had shown up on a 6 (scenario has Russian air superiority, so a 6 was needed). That awesome Katyusha hit will be remembered for long time…6 direct hits - take that Adolf!!

Here are some shots of the game in action. The campaign is a Russian disaster, the Germans now lead 8-3 in VPs, with 2 games to play, I’ll need 2 big wins to save the day. Next time, the SS police units in Konigsberg try to make their escape in a nighttime Breakout scenario… the cowards!

 Aerial recon of the Platz, and the far end is the schrebergarten and the church. Russians attacking from the left.



Russian view from the rooftop over the Platz.

Fusilier squad in foxhiles across the gardens. 
That statue is the target point for a timed Katyusha strike. 

Volksgrenadiers holding a apartment block north f the Platz, I could not shift them, now many failed pinning attempts?? About 9 or 10... good grief!!

German view from the church tower across Lawsker Allee.

The church is designated a field hospital and no go for any troops. I did mortar it slightly, by accident... such is war on the Eastern Front.

The men responsible, my 120mm battery in the allotments.

OT-34 heads across the allotments with the infantry platoon.

...and draw artillery fire, which failed to do much to slow them down.

The sneaky Goliath negotiates a crater on its way its target, the objective buildings currently held by my infiltrating scouts.

FHQ watches the battle for the Platz unfold, and directs in my 120mm mortar fire. In the distant the hotel/casino and its PaK bunker.

Awesome Katysha strike... clears the ornamental gardens.

ISU-152 rolls in, much needed ammo truck closeby.

'Peggy' drops in to bomb the hotel, another big hitter, seeing the German FHQ blown to bits by a direct hit through the roof.

Second ISU-152 moves up to engage buildings across the Platz.

Counter-attacking pioneers roll in to hold a key building north of the Platz.

...and lose the close assault and firefight with a rifle squad... oops!

the OT-34 almost in flamethrower range, MG still doing useful pinning work.

the last of the Luftwaffe, a fluky FW-190 buzzes the allotments and bombs my attackers.

OT-34 direct hit - dead, rifle squads blasted and pinned too. That attack is over.

An oddity, special out of fuel played on the FW-190, so only 1 turn more of strafing before he needs to head home. It didn't matter anyway, but was characterful event and would have saved me from 1 strafing run at least.









Friday, 3 March 2017

KONIGSBERG, GAME 4

Following last time’s German victory, this game would be another of 5th Panzer Division’s afternoon counter-attacks to hold the Pillau corridor along the Pregel river (just south off the map) open against the Russian advance west of the city. This time the scenario would be a meeting engagement, Recce Screen, with 5th Panzer moving east to block the Russian vanguard as they move south to the river. The two forces would clash close to a small hamlet and inn/tavern called the Spittlekrug.


Map of the battlefield and entry points, Germans in the south-west corner, Russians to the north.

With the map and scenario in hand we both picked our forces. Russians were chosen as 700 points from the FotR lists. Germans 750 points (bonus 50 pts as they won last time) from the 1944 Panzer lists. We made a few alts, to better represent the perilous state of the German armour, allowing them to form an ersatz armour platoon from a Pz IV, StuG and Jagdpanzer IV (L70), with the tank as the officer. They also had a 251/22 in support, not available in ’44 list, but fine for this late in the war. 

My forces were as follows:

FHQ in Gaz Jeep         23    3-r    senior off, art spotter
Comms Relay Team    13    0-i    comms
Dispatch Rider            12    0-i    dispatches

Motorised Rifle Platoon  106    9-r    officer, mortar spotter
in jeep and 4 trucks

2 x 82mm mortars    44    2-i

‘Emcha’ Tank Platoon (3)  145    9-r    off

SU-76 Battery (3)     75    6-r    off

SU-85 Battery (2)    100    6-r    off

2 Snipers    20    1-v    2 scouts

‘Razvedka’ Patrol    56    4-e    scout, art spotter, air spotter 4+, bel

T-70 light tank   35    2-r    scout

supply truck   8    1-i    re-supply

3 x 1st Priority Req   60    0    2+

Totals   697 pts    43 BR    (5 off, 5 scouts)



The game got underway with the maximum 6 turns for the recce phase, which didn’t go well for me. I lost one of my Razvedka teams to MG fire and both my snipers got pinned down and unable to return fire. My ace-card (the T-70, not often you can say that), came forward confident of taking on his light armoured car, only for a heroic action and a Panzerfaust hit from his Fusilier patrol (men on bicycles again!) to interrupt. The T-70 went up in smoke… drat. To make matters worst his recce commander was an arty spotter and he had 2 off-table Wespes to fire their 105mm guns from turn 1… my poor recce couldn’t live with that firepower and by turn 6 there wasn’t much left, just a hiding Razvedka team in the hamlet, pinned, but still in place to call in some artillery fire when we got the reserves and targets showed.

And so, having won the recce phase the German’s reserves began to arrive, at speed, the armour moving across the pastures, right to left to my front. Not to be out-done, the Russian also arrived in numbers and got the SU-85s into firing positions and on ambush fire, awaiting that armour. My infantry arrived in trucks and began to de-buss, only to find themselves directly under a German PRTP… ouch, the 105mm shells rained in and I lost a truck and most of the infantry was immediately pinned, that artillery was already causing me a big problem, oh for a counter battery fire mission or two!

My bad start continued, the fusiliers sneaking up the hedgerows continued to be a pain in the backside, I failed to spot them and HE failed to pin them, and they got to 10” away from my leading SU-85, to unleash their second Panzerfaust… another hit, another kill… Lord! Who were these men? Some hardened veterans of the eastern front, they had 2 tanks killed already. The SU-85s really missed their machine guns, was I supposed to fire AP at them? Because its all the ammo they had left!

The Germans advance continued, grabbing an objective (another counter, my stack building way too fast!), and their FHQ arrived to add more 80mm mortar fire to my woes. My force was almost fully pinned down. I did get a break when 6 more reserve units arrived, and on came the last of my infantry and the SU-76 battery, heading to my right, to where the open ground offered good fields of fire at soft German targets (his distant mortar team, SdKfz 251/22, supply truck, etc). First, the ‘bitches’ had to get to the wood-line, which would take a turn or two. So far the misery and punishment had been all mine… that was about to change.

My FHQ was in place and called down a 1st priority request, sending his dispatch rider off to army-level support. In came 4 x 203mm guns, a huge barrage. And it was also accurate, smack on his objective. The shattering impacts left his recce commander’s armoured car wrecked and his Pz IV officer KO’d as well. 5 more pinned units could be added to the tally… woo-hoo, big artillery smack on target, eat that! … the Germans knew they were in a fight now. To add to that, my counter draw to unpinned was an aircraft. An IL-2 with rockets was incoming, and thanks to the Razvedka team, it would arrive next turn. I was back in the game.

The Germans long drive across the fields from left the right continued, grenadiers on the backs of the StuG and Jagdpanzer, and a pioneer squad in 251 just behind them. My last SU-85 got a bead on the Jagpanzer but missed, the duel between assault guns was on. In an exchange of shells, both scored hits and failed to penetrate, my SU-85 then withdrew and re-armed, came back, scored 2 hits, both of which bounced off and then took a return hit from that monstrous gun that ended its battle - good fight though. By now my armour, a lend-lease ‘Emcha’ platoon had rolled on, and my own on-table mortars had deployed. The Rifle platoon HQ was now calling in their harassing fire and laying down more pinning. The German counter stack had risen suddenly. My IL-2 dived in, missed with all its rockets, despite taking damage from 20mm cannon fire whilst inbound (obviously the pilot was put off by the big holes in his wings), but he’d be back to strafe with MGs next turn.

The German armoured attack kept coming on my left, up the lane to the river, but another lucky counter for me saw his StuG breakdown and become immobilised. Only his Jagdpanzer IV was still in action, and it must be low on ammo. Another artillery request from me saw Front command provide a battery 4 x 152mm guns this time, and this landed smack-on again. His Flakpanzer 38(t) (busy on ambush fire at the IL-2) was flipped sky high and his FHQ pinned and lucky not to be killed too.  Those extra chits made it close again… and as I unpinned I drew another aircraft and a second IL-2 arrived to bomb the Germans behind their hedges. Go the VVS… the German commander was worried now, his good start was long forgotten. 

So to the denouement of the game. My aircraft were circling and strafing (a third then arrived as well, my God, unheard of for me), my SU-76s where in place and firing HE into his mortar team and at his supply truck, which had to run off to avoid being blown up. One SU-76 was destroyed by very long range return fire from the 251/22 though with a lucky hit. I was just 6 points from breaking now, but he was close too. For the Germans, knowing that the 3 Strumoviks would break him soon, desperate times times called for desperate measures, he had 2 objectives (on his side and in the centre, where a lone MG team were hiding and not firing for fear of being strafed to death), and his attack up the lane was close to the third (and last) objective. It had been held by my Rifle Platoon HQ, but they had been wiped out by MG fire, leaving only a supply ruck and a jeep holding it. So, do or die, the German pioneers attacked, 251 racing up the lane they de-bussed, fired a Panzerfaust into the supply truck and blew it sky high (very high), and their MG team riddled the Gaz jeep full of holes too. He was also on the objective and claimed it… 3 BR counters for me, and he had all three. And with that I was done, the counters broke me before the all objectives secured victory mattered. Beaten again. But it was close… the Germans were only 5 from their breakpoint, so 2 counters most likely would have done for them, and my aircraft would have strafed me up those next turn, I’m sure. Soft-skinned vehicles make easy targets, and mine had cost me the game, should have withdrawn them, but i had nothing to hold the objective then. So, it turns out, you can’t hold an objective for long with a supply truck and an unarmed jeep!

The German pioneers had moved from the far table corner the long way round to my table corner and lost not a man, such it is to be mobile, armoured infantry, and they had risked all to win it, because my tanks would have responded next turn with everything they had. Fortune favoured the bold - as it should.

Another great game. Another German win though (if narrow), the campaign VP score now stands at 5-3 to the Germans. Need a win next time, game 5, when its into the suburbs of the Konigsberg for some house-to-house fighting. 

Only a few quick snaps this time… the game was too absorbing.

First game out for the Zvezda Razvedka teams. Deploying into the hamlet.

T-70 recce tank catches a Panzerfaust from the bicycling fusiliers squad.

My lead SU-85 gets into firing position early, on the lane down to the river only 
to become another Panzerfaust victim of the fusiliers. 

Motor Rifles deploy into the buildings, right under the PRTP, incoming 105mm shells cause havoc.  

My senior officer in place to return the favour, only with more, far bigger guns. The 203mm stonk won't be forgotten by the Germans soon.

Razvedka's Gaz jeep left to hold an objective (the crater). Should have withdrawn off the table, but it'll be safe behind the woods! Err, no...

 SU-76 and supporting rifle squad make their way into firing position at the edge 
of the woods on my right (around the lake).

Jagdpanzer IV (late war ersatz one), StuG and pioneers conduct the attack up the lane. 
Here, The jagdpanzer is exchanging fire with my last SU-85, a duel it won.

 'Emcha' roll on, passing the SU-76 that got hit at very long range. 
There return fire failed to find targets.

 Last 'Emcha' arrives, to cover the objective on my left, but no time to get on ambush fire before the Germans arrived. Behind is the supply truck (soon to be another Panzerfaust victim), and beyond, the burning SU-85.

 
Pioneers rush in and take the last objective in blaze of fire.


























Friday, 10 February 2017

Konigsberg - Day Two - Rearguard Action at Friedrichswald

Today, 548th Volksgrenadier’s task would be to delay the Russian advance for as long as they could. This time the action would take place on the northern edge of Juditten, a small hamlet called Friedrichswald. The Germans had their defence lines, trenches and dug-in anti-tank guns across the water-soaked, muddy, ploughed fields, with the Russian attacking south passed the Waldgarten Farm, formerly a regimental command post for the division but abandoned yesterday.

The scenario would be a Delaying Action, giving my Russians just 9 turns to break the defenders. A tough ask, but I could pick a force for the job. No more finesse, this nut would require a Russian sledgehammer to crack. I went for a full T-34 company, a full infantry company, my commander in a T-34 (no arty to spot for), 3 snipers and a timed 152mm artillery strike. That’s 9 (!) officers.

The defenders had their infantry platoon dug-in, with an 88, Pak-40 and a captured Zis3 as anti-tank defence, and a little 75mm infantry gun as well. Behind they had a mortar and a sIG33 150mm dug-in, with the FHQ spotting for that big gun. His reinforcements were his recce infantry (on bicycles), a Marder, recce platoon HQ and another infantry squad. No tanks! Oh well, but everything had positions with 4+ or 3+ covers aves, off course that reduced their overall BR, but with the infantry it was still a reasonable 35. The Red’s scored a massive 55. I’d need it.

I decided to just go for it. After the German deployment, pick a flank to hit hard, very hard, and over load it. No point in attacking up the centre and getting his full firepower. The opposite flank just needed a holding force, enough to keep the Germans from re-deploying to meet the main attack (2 tanks and infantry would do it). After surveying the enemy positions (my snipers jobs), I’d go over the open ground on my right (enemy left), directly at the orchard. that looked weakest. If that didn’t break the enemy, then the position of objectives would give me a chance at getting all three.

Time to go, go, go!

After my 152mm barrage (did zippo!), first onto the table was my FHQ’s T-34, mainly because I wanted the reinforcement re-roll to get my troops here faster. No holding back. The first T-34s and tank riding infantry began to roll south, flinging HE into the orchard and scoring some pins. Coming back was mortar fire and 150mm infantry gun, scoring some pins too, that would slow me down.

Turn 2, and more T34s rolled on my table edge, with more tank riders, and the lead tanks (those not pinned) hammered the orchard again and their infantry jumped down and began to close in on foot. With most of the defenders pinned, some close range 75mm infantry gun fire caused more pinning, which had now reached 8 units. To get my attack moving and  because I had BR to burn I took 2 counters and got everything back in action for next turn. The Germans were feeling the pressure, they didn’t have the firepower to stop the hammer blow. Too many tanks and riflemen were coming. So it proved , the red riflemen closed into short range and opened fire, the German MG team was wiped out and the Zis3 pinned… vital results with multiple targets to engage. A single Panzerfaust caused the loss of my first T-34, but the infantry gun fired and limbered up to its horse tow. Trying to get away the horse tow was destroyed by tank MG fire and gun crew fled under more small arms fire. The orchard position collapsed, the Zis 3 crew wiped out by tank MG fore and the infantry squad cut down to a man, not a German lived in the orchard. But the turns were counting down. Still, it looked bad for the Germans.

My infantry swarmed forwards (Ura!), under cover of more tank HE fire, they reached the building behind the orchard and assaulted it, heavy losses on both sides, but worth it, capture that house would but me on a second objective. The German PaK-40, dug-in on the road had, so far, had a bad day, pinned, then missing 3 shots (loader team) at short range. Now they were in hand to hand combat with assaulting enemy infantry, but they held out (3+ covers save) and fought the Russians off, before getting back on the gun. The Germans were desperate for their reserves, the Reds were flooding into the breach. And, with luck, he got them, a maximum 6 units, and on came the extra infantry, the Marder and a recon HQ to call in the mortar fire (the spotter for his mortars - platoon HQ had died to a man in the building). The Marder raced up the road and got its first shot off, smashing my second T-34. The fusiliers on their bicycles raced for the buildings, now the centre of this battle. My infantry kept coming, but long range MG fire was whittling them down, one platoon was now gutted, the second was heavily engaged, the third was moving up (Ura!), to press the attack onto the objectives. My leading T-34s switched to AP shells and then failed to hit the Marder, which scored a second kill (but then ran out of ammo and had to withdraw as well, but with a job well done). My suppressing fire (which had been really good in the early turns) now failed me, and the Germans were back in the building again, and my riflemen were trying to assault it - again. Under a hail of fire, they failed, and were cut down to the man. What had been a sweeping assault was bogging down in a desperate scrambled defence by the German reinforcements. Their 88 swung round to get a few long range shots, but then ran out of ammo on a ‘low ammo’ counter. The PaK-40 was still fighting, my assaulting infantry pinned down and refusing to resume the fight. The PaK scored another tank kill at point blank range. It was now turn 7, the counter stacks looked big, mine bigger, but I could take it. Just 2 turns left to win it.

Then it went wrong. My inexperience infantry, once unpinned again, refused to press the assaults, and the PaK scored another tank kill, this time my FHQ, who, out of HE ammo, had charged the gun with MGs, failed to score the kills and caught a 75mm AP shell back in reply. 2 more chits. One was an aircraft, but the VVS didn’t show to aid me.

It was the last turn, and it was close. Could I force the Germans over their break point? Short answer was - no, not quite, their cover saves continued to thwart my fire… it all petered out. When another T-34 (my 6th) was lost to a Panzerfaust, it saw my counter total reach 56… broken in turn 9. Noooo!

The Germans had also been close 31 from 35, so 1 or 2 more chits would have done it. It had been brutal, I can’t recall a game with so many infantry close assaults (or at least attempts). Smoking T-34s littered the fields and orchard all the way into Friedrichswalde, but the shell shock Volksgrenadiers had somehow hung-on to win it.

2 campaign victory points to the Germans see them take a 5-3 lead in the campaign and earn 5th Panzer time for a second counter-attack game. That’s coming next… Konigsberg is proving tough.

Here are some photos of the action… camera batteries working this time.

German trenches and dug-out, formidable second line of defences outside Konigsberg. 
I tried to go around these.

Rearward positions, including the sIG33.

In Friedrichswalde, the last Germans.

The orchard position, about to face the overwhelming onrush of tanks and men.

 Here they come, first wave of tanks and tank riders deploy.

 Crossing the quagmire, the plowed fields were very wet, but tracked vehicles were unaffected in the scenario, good job too!

 Holding force on my right, enough to keep the Germans pinned in place.

 First tank lost as the assault on the walled orchard starts.

 Pak pinned in its dug-out, once unpinned it became the lynchpin of the defence. It just would not die!

 Overrun, the orchard about to fall.

 The orhcard is cleared and the attack can move on, next, that Pak and the house. 

 Third platoon arrive on foot, and start to run...

 The Pak get its first victim. The house about to be assaulted by riflemen, a bitter to-fro melee that cost the Russians dear.

 Last reserve moving up the road.






Friday, 3 February 2017

KONIGSBERG 2 - ENCOUNTER AT FRIEDRICHSBERG FARM

The second game of my Konigsberg campaign was fought out this week, with my Russians pressing on towards the city. Having cleared the fortress in the first game, I faced elements of 5th Panzer Division as they conducted their afternoon counter-attack to hold the westwards corridor from Konigsberg to Pillau port open. I have some good period maps of the area (and Google maps, less useful, but it gives some information), and went searching for a suitable actually location for our armoured clash. I chose an area around the Freidrichsburg Farm, and the Landgraben (canal, stream or man-made drainage ditch I’m not sure).

Well, one hiccup was the camera batteries, after 3 pics they died. No problem, I carry reserves, except they were flat too… err… no more photos then. So, I’ll keep this short(ish).

The Germans were choosing a force from the 1944 Panzer Division lists (from Overlord), as 5th Panzer were still a recognisable, organised force (if very depleted). It would also be one of the few chances for my opponent to use his armour in anything like any numbers. His panzers were 2 Pz IVs and a StuG (we allowed him to combine them into an ersatz platoon) supported by a Jagdpanzer IV (L70 of course, but 5th Panzer still had 12 of these in April 1945) for serious anti-tank defence. With them was an armoured panzer grenadier platoon (first outing for these models in years, which is part of the point of playing the campaign), a bit of other sundry support (Pak38, Forward HQ, recce sniper and armoured recce squad) and 120mm off-table arty support.

My red tide was led by my long unused ISU-122s (hell yeah!), both mighty weapons in the open ground I’d have to cross. With them came a platoon of T34/85s, all with tank riding SMG-armed squads (with captured Panzerfausts, how novel!!). A platoon of cheap riflemen (cannon fodder), 2 recce T34/76s (awesome recce power), and a BA-64 armoured car to spot for off-table (obligatory) 120mm mortars.

The scenario was ‘Flanking Attack’, after set-up, it was 'Game On!'

The early turns were cagey, exchanges of mortar fire resulting in some pinning, and the lost of the lead Panzer IV (officer too) to lucky direct mortar hit. First blood the Russians. I was husbanding my forces awaiting them all before launching an all-out assault, infantry and tanks together. The Germans sent forwards some half tracks and grenadiers to take a central barn (an objective), but T-34 HE fire had them pinned down in open ground and halted. The rest of the Germans loitered around the farm on his table edge

The ISU-122 and Jgpanzer IV traded first shot as maximum range, and missed a lot, then withdrew to rearm from newly arrived supply trucks. More mortar fire was landing on the Friedrichsburg Farm and one accurate shell knocked out the German CO in his half track, a lucky bonus for me… the Germans had lost 2 officers are were down to just 1. I still had all 5… (FHQ, Platoon HQ, T34 Platoon HQ, ISU-122 Battery HQ and VVS Officer). No shortage of orders for me.

As my main armour and tank riders arrived, so it was time to go. With a good orders roll I pushed boldly forwards as ambush fire from the Pz IV and StuG fizzed passed. An ISU-122’s returning fire annihilated the StuG, outclassed on this battlefield. Mortar rounds pinged of my ISU’s side armour and one even took a 75mmL70 hit to the front glacis and rolled on unscathed… not many survive a hit from those guns. It was going well, except that my chit pulls had been bad, mostly 4s, and not an aircraft in sight (I brought a VVS officer along, feeling lucky!). My timed air strike PE-2 dived in and bombed the farm, and scored a few pins… cursed by the Germans, whose 20mm flak truck hadn’t got on the table yet… arriving a turn too late to do its job.

The crucible of this battle would be the very centre, a barn and its small fields around it. My infantry was running towards it at full speed and my tanks had debussed their SMG squads, whilst the Germans were still pinned down in their half tracks. My infantry reached the barn and took the objective as tank fire was still being traded, and my T34-85s were a match for the Panzer IV (if they could hit), which was now pulling back to re-arm with more AP shells. On my left I send my T34/76s recce units into another advance, hoping the mounting pressure would be too much for the Germans dwindling number of orders. The red tide was coming in fast. Here, things started to turn for the worse, I’d had far the better of the early turns… but then my leading T34/76 took a hit from the PaK38, which glanced off, but pinned it. Then, the 37mm door-knocker (SdKfz 251/10) opened fire, scored 2 more hits, both bounced off too, but the rattled crew abandoned the tank and ran. First Russian tank lost. Next, the German player's unpinning chit turned up a Air Attack. On his next turn, he rolled a 6… the Luftwaffe arrived (what?) in the form of a Ju-87G, 37mm cannon-armed and piloted by some little Hans Rudel wanna-be… his first strafing run destroyed the second T34/76 in a blaze of 37mm cannon shells. 2 more counters (both big numbers again).

In the centre the panzergrenadiers finally got going. Unpinned, these veteran assaulted the barn, but only after their MG had pinned the squad inside (the right way to do it). Their attack, potato mashers first, wiped out my pinned SMG squad who couldn't fight back. More MG fire from their half tracks pinned my following infantry squads in the fields, he was seizing back the objective. The JgPanzer IV also reappear, fully armed up, and its first shot hit an ISU-122, which brewed up this time… drat, one of my big-beasts was gone and the chit was another 4!

The battle would be decided at the farm, my tank’s MG’d up the enemy infantry and fired at the half tracks behind (easy counters), missing about 5 times (on 4+, frustrating-yep!)… my attack was coming apart. In desperation I tactically co-ordinated to get an SMG squad back in the fight, and they were ordered to assault the barn (they excel at this work)… and promptly refused (and went back pinned again, grr!). Incoming MG fire was just too much for them, obviously. Argh! That was another counter taken (a 4), for nothing, and I was close to breaking.

The fight of the barn sucked up the few German orders (low rolls for 2 turns making things tricky and cut his mortar fire to nothing). But his grenadiers moved into the field and used its covers to unleash a Panzerfaust. My lead T34/85 took the hit and, Kaboom! was a-goner… another counter. I was at 34 from 38 so should be just OK. No. A 5, and my Russians had broken.

The fight at the barn had been a German win, those veteran grenadiers had shown how it should be done, keeping a lot of Russian at bay with their MGs. My thrust had been halted and it was time to pullback, and shell this area flat for a later attack. 5th Panzer’s counter had stalled my advance.

The Germans gained the campaign points for the win (and a solid one, having 12 BR still left). So, after 1 win apiece, the Germans have 3 campaign VPs, and the Russians have 3 campaign VPs.

Here are the three photos I got… Game 3 is already set for first week in Feb. 548th Volksgrenadiers will be fighting a rearguard delaying action in an outlying village. If I can win that game, my troops will be into Konigsberg's suburbs. If I lose, 5th Panzer get another counter-attack chance. The AAR will follow.

 Germans move into the Friedrichsburg Fram, under incoming mortar fire... hence the pinning.

 My recon, two T34/76s, await on ambush fire at the cart bridge (crossing it had a chance to collapse it). BA-64 behind calls in the mortar fire.

 ISU-122s trade fire at long range with the Jg Panzer IV, whilst incoming mortar shells do nothing. Crossing the Landgraben stream (ditch) was very hard going, dangerous ground and a obstacle as well.