Monday, 8 March 2021

THE PANZER ACE, PANZER LEHR CAMPAIGN, GAME 5

The penultimate campaign game, and squad-sized engagement as a German probe, led by a single Panther, heads towards Le Desert and encounters American troops holding a small road bridge (over a stream) at a farm, south-west of town. The Germans must push up and clear the road, take the bridge (the only objective) and try get vehicles off the far table edge. The US infantry force must hang on and wait for their M10 reinforcements, which would also be accompanied by a forward observer team with access to the divisional 105s.

Here are the forces and scenario special rules

GERMAN FORCES - ELEMENTS OF PANZER LEHR DIVISION
(All Vets)

Panzer V Panther with panzer ace        4    elite

StuG III G                        3

PzGrenadier PHQ - 3 men in heavy car    2    officer

Pz Gren Squad                    4    D3 Panzerfausts
- 5 men with MG-42, 3 men with MG-42
in SdKfz 251/1

Pz Gren Squad                    3    D3 Panzerfausts
- 5 men with MG-42, 3 men with MG-42

20mm Flak, 4 crew and truck tow    2    see special rule    

Total                        BR 18 + attachment    1 officer, 0 scouts

Roll once for attached support (15 rolled)
D20 Roll    Attached                BR
1-5        Sniper team - 2 men        +1    Sniper-Scout (Elite)

6-9        FHQ - 4 men in Kubelwagen    +3    Senior Officer, all have SMGs

9-15        Recon Team             +2    Scout, D3 Panzerfausts,
        - 4 men in SdKfz 250/1            all have SMGs
            
16-18        Flamethrower Team - 2 men    +1    with FT

19-20        Forward Observer - 2 men    +1    Officer, Artillery Spotter
        -2 men in Kubelwagen

Artillery Support
3 x 1st Priority Artillery Requests (maximum is Division), if attached 


US FORCES - ELEMENTS 1st BATTALION, 39th INFANTRY REGIMENT AND A COMPANY, 899th TANK DESTROYER BATTALION, 9th INFANTRY DIVISION

(All Regs)

1 M10 Tank Destroyer                    3    *reserve

Bazooka Team - 3 men with bazooka, in Jeep    2    D3+2 shots

Infantry Squad - 7 men, 5 men with a BAR        4

Rifle Team - 4 men                    2    

MMG Team - 2 men with .30 cal MMG        1

57mm AT Gun with 4 crew                2

1 minefield                            0    may not be on a road

Foxholes for 20 men                    0    

Total
                        BR 14 + attachment    0 officers, 0 scouts

Roll once for attached support 
(6 rolled)
D20 Roll    Attached                BR
1-8        M10 and                +3
        Forward Obs Team
        - 2 men in Jeep                Officer, Arty Spotter

9-14        M10 and Infantry Squad        +7
        - 7 men and 5 men with BAR
        in a truck

15-20        Armoured Inf Squad        +6    D3+2 bazooka shots
        - 7 men with bazooka
        and 2 men with MMG in M3 HT    
        and
        Flamethrower Team - 3 men
        in Jeep        


Artillery Support
4 x 1st Priority Artillery Requests (maximum is Division), if attached

 

SCENARIO SPECIAL RULES

Squad-level: Roll 1D6 for Orders. Remove all 5 counters from the BR pot.

Soft Ground: Wheeled vehicles which move off-road treat it as Dangerous Terrain. On a 1, roll again. 4+ OK, on a 1-3 Bogged down and immobilised. Half-tracked and tracked vehicles move as normal.

Allied Air Superiority: German player must roll a 6 for any Air Attack counter.

Flak Ammo truck:
The German 20mm Flak has unlimited ammo whilst its truck tow is within 4” of the gun. If greater than 4” then the gun has 2 shots of ammo piled with it.

German Advance East:
For each armoured vehicle the Germans move off the eastern table edge (the US table edge), the US forces must take 2 BR counters.

US Reserves:
The M10 and any attached units are reserves and enter via the US table edge on turn 1+D4. Rolled turn 3.

Objective:
The stone bridge.


 

The game started with the Germans arriving and moving up cautiously, the Panther would just take the road, infantry to storm the the first house and clear it of bazookas, with the flak gun getting into place on the left to bring suppressing fire on the next farm and woods ahead. A steady advance was the name of the day. The StuG and scout team would be on my right, a distraction to draw those M10s away, hopefully, and provide some more suppressing fire.

There was little action, but the 20mm flak’s truck at least didn’t get stuck in the mud (forgot that rule when deploying - oops!, but got away with it).

Things soon heated up when the 57mm AT gun opened fire on the Panther from ambush fire and missed. The German infantry responded, 251 raced forwards and de-bussed its infantry, that took the buildings, whilst their MG team pinned the bazooka team lurking in foxholes just beyond. The Panther returned fire with MGs to no effect.

My infantry rush now provoked a storm of fire from the US positions, M1s, BARs and the .30 cal lashing the building, wiping out the MG-42 team and pinning the rifle squad, also with losses. Their plan had been to concede the house but then concentrate fire on it to wipe-out anything that moved in. It had almost worked. The 57mm gun fired all it could at the Panther (1 glance) and the 251 (missed). On my right the 250’s scoot forwards was pinned by rifle fire from the hedge, drat. The StuG returned fire with a HE shell, that kept some US heads down. My surviving grenadiers pulled back out the house, 2 men left from 8… ouch!

On turn 3, the US M10s and FOO team arrived and pushed forwards to join the front line. 1 M10 headed into the farm, the other to my right to face the StuG – good. With the house empty, the brave US bazooka team saw a chance, ran in and fired at side shot into the Panther outside, hitting, and rolling a 3 for penetration (2nd glance). Unlucky. The bazooka team would not survive the return fire coming at them from the 251, rifle men and platoon HQ which had now moved into the small orchard outside.

The lucky Panther now turned its turret on that 57mm gun, spotted it and a single HEAT shell was deadly accurate, destroying the gun. Good shot. Bazooka and AT gun gone, it was down to the M10s now. That didn’t go so well either, on the right, as the M10 moved up to the hedgerow to engage the StuG, my scout team (now unpinned) had taken up position in the hedge, Panzerfaust primed. The TD moved up and, whoosh-boom! M10 hit and destroyed… it was clear things were rapidly turning against the defenders.

They certainly had, the FOO team moved into the farm to get their radio-up, only to be pinned by 20mm flak ambush fire. It was just US rifle fire coming from the under the hedges now.

The Germans pressed forwards again, the StuG hammering the hedges for all it had to silence the US infantry. The Panther rolled up, more machine guns blazing, only to get a mine strike – eek!. It hit and rolled a 4 to penetrate (3rd glance) and passed its morale test. Still going, much to the US player’s chagrin. The last M10 at the farm lined it up and scored 2 hits, only for glances 4 and 5… and the Panther was at least pinned. But it would not die. To add insult to injury the US artillery failed to respond to calls for its fire on failed comms test.

With the Panther and 20mm flak pinned (by rifle fire from the farm), it was down to the StuG this turn, which emptied its ammo bins of HE and destroyed the US’ .30 cal teams foxholes at short range. Another counter and the US were on the brink of breaking. The Germans unpinned in a short turn and drew, an Air Attack. When the luck is with you… makes a change for me.

The US player knew the writing was on the wall… the M10 fired again, hit and glanced again (6th glance) and pulled back rather than take the inevitable return fire. The FOO was screaming into his radio for fire and, rolled a 1… no fire again, the 105s hadn’t fired all game.

In the German turn, guess what? Air Attack, rolled a 6…incoming Bf-109, and its strafing, which hit nothing, but was enough to see the US abandon the position and pull back to Le Desert, broken.

The Germans had lost 12 of their 20 BR, so a solid win, and a disaster of a game for the US, who had rolled badly (especially the armour penetration rolls), and drawn badly as well. The panzer ace was battered but still rolling, a beast today. So, 8 campaign VPs to the Germans, making it 18-6 with the finale to come. In all, we were playing for no more than 1.5 hours, but, yeah, a bad few hours for the US forces.

A few pics of the action…

GoogleEarth of the location, L shaped table today. Germans moving on from the bottom. US have 2/3rds of the game and reinforcements from the top.

Recreated on the tabletop

Waiting by the farm, covering the road and the minefield which blocked an advance on anything but the road.

The bridge and farm. I think the stream here runs under the farm in a tunnel.




Foxholes under the hedges.

The panzer ace moves up to the first house, infantry in close support to take it.

The StuG rolls up on the right, 251 behind just got pinned by rifle fire.

German infantry in the house's small orchard after pulling back out of the house, which was a bullet magnet. More pinning required to get into it.

M10 'Ace in the Hole' heads through the farm to take on the Panther... good luck with that!


20mm Flak (in the scenario its a quad, but I don't have a dismounted quad, so downgraded to my FJ 20mm). Pinned by rifle fire from the farm, but it did useful work spraying bullets around. 


Scout team de-buss into the hedge. 'Hans, bring the Panzerfaust.'

Got him! M10 KO'd.
StuG empties its ammo bins into the hedges by the bridge, job done! US MG team wiped out.
The road to the bridge is clear.




3 comments:

  1. A splendid lunchtime read, really gripping I was just waiting for that Panther to bite the dust, but no, it had a charmed life. Really getting BG withdrawal symptoms now, looks like I will have to fly solo for a game soon.

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  2. Great looking game, beautifully presented thank you 👍

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