The German’s task was two fold, halt the US advance to secure the road from town, and get troops into town to reinforce its defences. There was also another sub-plot. This board was the position of the ‘off-table’ Nebelwerfer battery used in earlier games, and it would need rescuing, with the US armoured spearhead bearing down on them. The two werfers would need their RSO tows to get to them, from the farm, and drag them off the table in the direction of town. The werfers were not allowed to fire at this table, too close, and they had to be saved.
For the first time the Germans had some serious armour, 4 Panthers, a Jagdpanther and a Brummbar. Coming the other way, 6 US Shermans (mostly 76s), 2 Pershings, 2 Jacksons and dedicated off-table Priest artillery fire.
Anything that survived the battle for the Germans would be available in game 6, the finale of the campaign. If the US could take the tabletop, they would have another entry point for the final battle as well, with Task Force Edgar in place north-east of town, cutting the road and able to us it to attack into town as well.
It would become a tank brawl, with the armoured infantry playing little part. The US held theirs back, out of harms way (mostly). Of the German armoured recce troops, half quickly escaped into town, the others put up a short defence of the farm, then pulled out, losing some vehicles but no men.
The US advanced through the woods and the game got under way, with 4 turns of failed radio checks for US artillery support (those Priests must be busy elsewhere). The early tank dual at range resulted in no losses, a few pins, but nothing but wasted ammo, although HE became the shell of choice to try for some pinning, saving the AP shells for better shots later.
The two RSO tows made a bee-line for the Nebelwerfer battery, through incoming HE shells, and one was KO’d by a HE hit from a Jackson - only 1 Werfer could be saved, but it was, towed off into town a few turns later. The Panthers moved in, and immediately the Jagdpanther attracted the ‘cursed of the chit-magnet’, with an ‘Out of Fuel’ counter played on it that saw it run dry and the crew abandon it without a shot fired! Rubbish, the big-hitters never do the business for me. I lost a Panther to a Pershing’s first shot, an unpleasantly even fight for once for the Panzerwaffe. US artillery finally dialled-in and the road became a dangerous place with 105s constantly landing all around it. I lost my 250/11 half track running that gauntlet.
The fight at the farm saw the US boldly push up the forest track, 2 Shermans leading, 2 halftracks behind to storm it, but my infantry had got their first. The Shermans then found 2 Panthers coming the other way and quickly lost that fight, both KO’d in a one-side close-range duel. The M3 half tracks, on the track behind the burning Shermans, saw they were next in the Panther’s sights, turned tail and sped off back into the woods to hide. It didn’t matter though, the Panthers were low on ammo, and used it up dueling with the Shermans and Pershing, to little effect. Ammo bins bare, they pulled back off the table, into town to re-arm for the final fight. My last infantry also remounted and skidaddled as the US armour closed in, KO-ing my 250/9 recce half track and a last Panther as they tried to get away… not a good final turn!
In the end, it was obviously a US win, although neither side had broken. The US had lost 2 Shermans and 1 Pershing had broken down (it’ll be fixed for the final battle). German losses were 2 Panthers, the Jagdpanther, 3 half tracks, 1 Nebelwerfer and a RSO. So Stossgruppe Schultz had been shot-up getting into town. Taskforce Edgar’s tanks had cleared the way to the farm and were astride the road into town from the northeast. Erfundensdorf is now surrounded.
The final battle of the campaign will be the assault on the town, a version of the ‘Die Hexenkessel’ scenario, with multiple entry points for the US forces and the Germans in an all-round defence. Time to sit down and work-out who has what forces left for that fight. Winner takes all in game 6.
The field of battle, US from the woods on the left, Germans arriving from the right and around the farm.
RSO set-off from the farm to collect the Werfers.
Awaiting tows, out in the fields. Rescuing the launchers would help in the final battle.
US end of the table, woods, into the open fields.
Off they trundle.
Behind them, a StuG arrives from town to hold the farm. It traded shots, pinned a Sherman, ran out of ammo and withdrew, a brief cameo whilst the other German units arrived.
Here they come, up the road, first units of Stossgruppe Schultz arrive, heading into town.
First of the big cats, with a long field of fire.
First US armour at the wood's edge.
Sherman pinned by a glancing AP shell from the StuG.
A few shots kept the US back, then, without any ammo resupply (for either side), ammo was big factor. Out, it's time to go.
Infantry reach the farm and dismount.
RSO under HE fire, getting closer as they dodge the incoming.
Oops, failed... RSO blown up by accurate 90mm HE.
Jagdpanther... rolls up.
Noooo! Out of fuel, the crew do a runner... brill!
StuG retreating, 2 Shermans push up along the forest track to the farm - very bold!
Coming the other way...
A timed 81mm mortar strike on the woods, pinned Jackson, that's it. Drat. German artillery is, well, limited!
RSO heading for town with its launcher. One would have to be abandoned.
The tank fight for the farm about to begin.
US armoured infantry hanging back in the safety of the woods, as the tanks get too it up front.
A Pershing struggles through the woods and conks out! Still, it was in a pretty good firing position and continued to provide supporting fire, killing 1 Panther as it tried to escape.
Running the gauntlet up the road of impacting 105 shells. Much pinning, 250/11 blown up.
Close encounter at the farm, bold Shermans vanquished.
The German light armour burning though.
At the very end, the M3 half tracks finally come forwards across the fields to secure what the tanks have won.