Friday evening saw a few hours (2.5 actually) of wargaming
entertainment (let’s face it, tele is rubbish and a game – just about any game-
is preferable). We had the luxury of a choice
of three WWII periods to pick from (Kursk, Overlord or Fall of the Reich). Soon
this will be increased to 4 with the arrival Battlegroup Barbarossa in April –
which technically we could have played as well I suppose. We decided the period
at random, and it came up Kursk. So back to 1943. I would be defending with my Russians,
the Germans would be attacking, in a 700 point ‘Defence Line’ scenario.
My force was made up of 3 static Zis 3 AT gun positions, 2
in dug-outs and 1 in an earth bunker, with an infantry platoon deployed to protect
the guns, as well as 2 Maxim MG dug-outs, 2 82mm mortars and a few other bits a
pieces like 2 off-table 122mm timed barrages and 3 off-table Zis 3 shots. In
reserve were my 4 T-34s with tank riding infantry, ready to counter-attack. Unfortunately
a battelgroup relying on defences and artillery support pays the price in BR,
so my total wasn’t great at just 35.
The Germans when for a rather ‘Soviet’ approach. Tanks and
infantry. 2 grenadier platoons tank riding on 7 Pz IVs (G and Hs mixed) a
single (but ubiquitous) Tiger and no artillery support at all. Their BR was a
decent 48, considerable better than mine, but I had the good cover saves with
me, and some good AT guns to hit back with.
Here are some snaps from the evening’s game, and very ‘Kursk-like’
it was. I deployed my little strongpoints of AT guns, infantry and MG support,
with the FO Team at the back watching over the lot and ready to call in the
bigger guns and mortars. The German attack rolled in (after the scenarios
preliminary bombardment which left 2 infantry units pinned), 4 Panzer IVs
leading the attack with a platoon riding on the back. Intimidated by my
overwatching AT guns they skulked into the woods and this would become the main
thrust of their attack, straight up the centre. Soon the woods reverberated to
the sounds of rifle and MG fire as the Russian infantry fought a desperately
outnumbered firefight, which saw two squads wiped out for little in return. The
central AT gun they had been protecting was outflanked and overrun by close assaulting
grenadiers throwing grenades which saw the crew and loader team run-off. A bad
start but, in the plus column, a Sturmovik had arrived and dropped its bombs,
which had disabled 1 tank and pinned some infantry. It now circled round looking
for infantry targets to strafe.
The battlefield, Germans entering from the right, Rusians deployed across the central third, with reinforcements due to arrive from the left. The main thrust came through the woods. Knew I should have mined them.
Sturmovik bombs hit home.
Russians mortars in the orchard.
Covering the road, a dug-in Zis 3 with loader team and MG bunker.
AT gun bunker, on the hilltop with a good lines of sight. The Germans hide in the woods though.
Pinned by the preliminary bombardment, the FO Team.
Crashing through the trees, the central AT posion was overrun and abandoned.
In the centre, Panzers IV press forwards.
Large bomb impact, no more infantry squad. The dispatch rider had to run away.
FW-190 zooms in to good effect.
SS Grenadiers assaulting a dug-in gun.
Tiger rolls onto the road junction, an objective, now lost.
Sturmovik goes after the 190, missing with area fire (only fire allowed at aircraft).
190 returns the compliment next turn...
Panzer IV lines up the AT bunker, a HE hit caused 1 casualty, and the abandonment of the position, useless.
Hidden from the air attacks, the Germans pushed on through the
woods, and more Panzer IVs arrived with more infantry, moving up in the centre they
ran into accurate mortar fire, which disabled another tank and wiped out a
squad, which broke and ran. Morale wasn’t good today. The Tiger then arrived
along the road and rolled up, lashing the Zis 3 AT gun covering the road with
HE area fire, whilst return 76.2mm shells bounced off (as always). The Russian
position was looking vulnerable, the centre had crumbled away, and redeploying infantry
to the centre didn’t look like it would be enough to stop the panzers.
This was compounded when a FW-190 swooped in, released its
single large bomb and it fell right into the middle of my infantry squad in a
direct hit that saw 7 of them killed and the last man pinned, and thus removed.
The battle counters were stacking up.
It wasn’t one way traffic though, a mine strike disabled another
Panzer IV and my last infantry squad shot up an MG team and wiped it out, and then
sneaked forward to seize a spare objective (I now had all 3, but, as the
defender, couldn’t claim the win). I was in desperate need of my reserves, and
5 turns to fight without them seemed like forever.
By now the panzers were right in the midst of the defence
zone, and the Tiger tank drove over the Zis 3 covering the road, how rude! The
crew ran off (again).
Turn 5, and the T-34s finally arrived, infantry onboard. Rather
than throw them straight into the teeth of the panzers and that Tiger, they went
wide right, hoping to cut in and get some flank shots before the panzers could
turn to face. Also, a lucky hit from an off-table Zis 3 shot pinned the Tiger
But, just as the tank counter-attack was about to strike,
the Germans had a fierce turn, maxing out on Orders at 17 on 2D6+5. By
comparison, the Russian had just rolled 3+1 = 4 orders. Disaster overwhelmed my
last defenders as the German assaulted my mortars teams, wiping them out, and
my platoon command squad was shot-up as well. Tank HE fire caused a casualty
inside the AT gun bunker, and a rolled 1 for morale saw the rest of the gun crew
abandon the bunker and exit out the back! Damn them, the last key position was
gone and with it, the tank counter-attack was quickly cancelled. Broken, the
Russians got the order to withdraw.
Another grim defeat... the Germans had taken just 26 BR lost
from their total...it had gone badly, but I had knocked out 4 Pz IVs (all would
no doubt be recovered and back in action tomorrow).
T-34s arrive, prepare to rush in, then get recalled... no counter-attack today, this defence line is given up in turn 6.
Highlights of the game (which was a very characterful one) were
the Tiger tank crushing the Zis 3, and the Sturmovik and FW-190 turning their MGs
on eachother in a brief dog-fight over the battlefield (inconclusive when the
Sturmovik split for home). Also, a timed 122 barrage that scored 3 direct hits
on one German MG team, leaving not even a smear. I still have never knocked out