Knowing the lay-out etc, up front allows for some more pre-battle planning (which I like). So I picked my Mechanised force to defend (a bit odd, but hey, needs must). I’d turn Trybukha in to a redoubt, using improvised barricades to give my infantry cheap hard cover. This outer defence, mostly using ambush fire, would have the support weapons, spotters for the mortars (my main artillery support) etc, with a second reserve platoon in the buildings and ready to move to take-over the defences when the first platoon’s squads were whittled away. Also, the BA-10 armoured car would act as a reserve SP AT gun, able to move into position anywhere that looked most threatened by his tanks. Rather than just be entirely static and hold on, I also planned a counter-attack, got to really, as pure static defence gets a bit dull. 6 BT-7s would wait on reserve move. The plan here was to send them on a marauding breakout, to disrupt the panzers, I’d just throw them away with abandon, each going on a fast rampage to try and target soft-skins and other easier chits, it was a suicide mission, but it would be fun and hopefully stop the panzers careful orchestrated attack.
This was my force;
Remnants of Mechanised Group Kynradov
FHQ 22 3 Mortar Spotter
MC Dispatch 12 0 Dispatches
MRP 1 58 5 1 x 3, 4 x 8 men
Maxim MG Team 18 1
AT Rifle Team 14 1
47mm AT gun 18 1
76.2mm Inf Gun 19 1
Reserve MRP 47 5 1 x 3, 4 x 8 men, Auxiliary
BT-7 Platoon 137 12 x 6 (1 extra)
FOO Team 16 1 2 men + car, arty spotter+
Hvy Mortar Battery 78 2 2 x 120mm
+ 2 loader teams
6 x Improvised Barricades 30 0 4+ cover save (36”)
2 x sniper hideouts 30 0 3+ cover, sniper-scout
Inf foot patrol 22 2 8 men, scout, (border guards)
BA-10 armoured car 28 1 scout
37mm AA gun + tow 40 1
1 x 2nd Priority Request 10 0 4+
Totals: 599 pts, 36 BR, 0 officers, 4 scouts
Command Chaos (+D3), Comms breakdown (4+)
The German Panzergruppe was based around a strong kradschurten platoon, a Pz II platoon support by a Pz III, a Pz IV and a StuG. With them were 50mm AT guns, a 75mm infantry gun, a single 105mm light howitzer deployed for direct fire, various HMG teams, a supply truck, and a pioneer squad in SdKfz 251/1, ready for a lighting ‘break-in’ close assault when my weak point was well pinned. Also, a single timed Stuka strike (knew that must come) and a single timed 105 arty strike. My greatest fear, of a PRTP in the centre of my redoubt being hit every turn by off-table mortars or, worse, 105s didn’t happen - phew! German artillery support was a bit weak.
For once I out-scouted the Germans (I set out to do that, because, well, I always seem to lose these days). I also had the only objective in the centre of the farm. 8 Russian units were waiting on ambush fire as the Germans rolled in on Turn 1. They attacked from the left and right, with their centre being his support-fire group, of spotters, the 105mm gun and a HMG. On the left was the main panzer force, with some infantry support and a 50mm AT gun and light mortar. On the right, the attack was led by a StuG and a Pz II with some infantry and the 75mm infantry gun. This was more of probe I think, to draw attention and fire away from the panzers
Things started well for the Germans, their air strike (avoiding the already pinned 37mm flak, as it had been pinned down by incoming MG fire), bombing destroyed a BT-7 and pinned another. Their 105mm timed strike on the woods wrecked my 47mm AT gun with a direct hit. The incoming was thicken and pinning mounting as the panzers cautiously moved up. My lurking ambushing AT rifle scored an early kill, KOing his 222 armoured car, a rare kill for me.
My heavy mortars struggled with ‘communications breakdown’, even with 2 spotters in place, one looking left, one right, I only got off about 3-4 salvos in the entire game. They had been my main IDF support, but they did very little really. I still had the priority request and dispatch rider-combo up my sleeve though. Orders, orders, where have all the Orders gone? I rolled terribly, a total of 5, 5, 6 and 7 in the first 4 turns (on 2D6+1D3). So my defence did little, a few ambush shots, pinned an MG team with the infantry gun, pinned a kradschutzen squad with a sniper (good work). No orders to get my reserve units onto reserve move either, that could be a problem. Having lost the AT gun in the woods, and with the StuG and Pz II raking the wood-line and whittling away the only rifle squad, I decided to move the BA-10 to support and take on that armour. Only for a stray 105mm shell to deviate and hit it, KOing it before it had fired a shot.
One BT-7 sneaked up to get some AT shots at the panzers (otherwise I had little to face them), and a fluke shot and penetration (finally a good roll, an 11) killed his Pz IV. That 47mm gun is a worthy bit of kit in 1941. The German light mortar was doing amazing work, rolling 5+s to pin my riflemen and AT rifle team almost every turn. My left looked weak, if the panzers came I had little to hold them. The Germans were still getting set through, MGs into position to support the push, and his orders rolls were not much better than mine… a cautious start.
Overall, on counters taken, I had a narrow advantage, but I was already halfway through my 36 points. I needed orders to fight back, and finally got some, a good roll - at last. So, I unleashed my arty request and got a battery of 152mm guns, targeted by the FOO from behind his barricade on the right-wing attack, they caused a lot of pinning (no direct hits though). Still, with the orders to use and sent 3 BT-7s racing through the woods in the first counter attack - go! The enemy was very heavily pinned, so right on the bombardment's heels came the speeding tanks. On the left, my BT-7 scored a second kill, getting his Pz III too - this guy was a real hero. In return, I’d lost the 37mm AA to raking MG fire at long range in some dire hard cover saving throws and morale test (run away!). No AA cover left, hopefully the Luftwaffe wouldn’t show up.
Alarmed by the BT’s reckless headlong charge, he was forced to use Tactical Co-ordination, but then his pinned StuG, now unpinned, only to miss its close range shot. He also took 2 counters to unpin, and rolled two 1s. 7 BR lost for that… the dice were in fickle mood.
My BT-7 rampage continued, the first killing the Pz II with a point-blank side shot, another raking his supply truck with MG fire into flaming ruins. One BT-7 then broke down, being unreliable, and a second was hit at short range by the infantry gun’s HE shell. You know you’re tank armour is paper-thin when an LG18 can knock you out! One left, but it continued to maraud, hit his SdKfz 251/3 forward HQ vehicle, and glanced off, needing a 4+ I rolled a 3! Good grief. Anyway, the threat from the right was broken, he was now fire-fighting, not attacking.
On the left, I threw my last 2 BT’s into a similar mad attack, one dueled with his Pz II, both repeatedly unable to penetrate the other’s front armour, the other BT when searching easier targets, machine gunning an MG team to death as it sped through the corn. The Germans attacks had both stalled, so the pioneers were called up, there 251/1 on reserve move raced for an direct assault. But, my waiting infantry gun (this was the battle where infantry guns were actually good), hit the Hanomag and pinned it, ending that swift move. With a BT-7 then bearing down on it, the pioneers jumped out. No lightning strike from them. Danger averted.
In the village, were my infantry had been whittled away, I moved up two reserve squads from the buildings to fill the gaps, and for once, the auxiliaries followed orders and got into the hard cover. Then, as I thought I had it won, the Luftwaffe arrived, another Stuka dived in, and it hammered the village centre, but only with more pinning. Still, most of my infantry now had their heads down. I figured it was close… I had 4 BR left, so 1 chit might end it for my defence. But when the last BT on my right machine gunned his kradschutzen squad, the counter he took broke him. The Germans pulled back, the cornfields burning with the fires from KO’d panzers and BT-7s. My ‘redoubt’ had held out. His BR was broken on 42, I had 4 left on 32 from 36. Phew! Inform STAVKA, were are holding at Trybukna! They shall not pass!
Top game again, a real blast, with some dire dice on both sides. My plan had just worked, after almost being scuppered early by command chaos and communications breakdown. In all, that 600 point-game last 4 hours… a longer game than normal, but we both had so few orders to use. Oh, and 5 times in the game the Germans unpinned and rolled a 1… I felt for him. It became a running joke.
Here are some shots of the action.
Mortars and BT lines, behind Trybukna farm
Infantry in the woods, behind rock and log barricades
The log walls of the redoubt
More BTs heading left through the farm
AA on ambush fire, awaiting he Luftwaffe. They'll be coming.
In reserve, the border guard squad and BA-10 mobile AT gun.
105 barrage hits the woods on turn 2
and here they are! No AA fire, gun was pinned. BT-7 paid the price down below.
On my right, StuG and Pz II lead on across the ripe cornfields
Incoming, one of just a few mortar barrages
The 120mm mortar-men and their loader teams. Not the impact I hoped for.
BT sneaks an early AT shot in, and scores a Pz IV kill!
Pinning building up in the redoubt
StuG shells the tree line
BT-7s charge through the trees - Stal! Stal! Stal! Death of glory - but mostly death!
and on, behind the 152mm barrage, the enemy, already well pinned are sitting ducks!
Still coming, soft targets ahead - make hay whilst the sun shines (obviously).
StuG gets back in the action, spins on the spot, and... boom, miss.
Close-quarters carnage in the cornfield
Infantry gun chipping in with its aid... 1 gunner left and he scored a kill.
On the other flank, Pz III takes aim at a BT-7.
PzII wreck by the main road (victim of a mines strike counter)
The main panzer attack smoulders... a hard fight, but the Russians held on.