This would be our second game from a series of six planned, set in 1942 during the German advance along the Don. Another meeting engagement, this time the random scenario was Flank Attack. The terrain was randomly generated, with a few small hills (hillocks), two copses, an area of marshy ground and a single farm. That was pretty much it, so open steppes for another Panzer Division vs Tank Corps clash.
Part of the point of these ‘pick-up’ games is to use models that see little action, so I went with all my T-70s, six of them, which rarely get tabletop time and then built from there, with another six T-34s and tank riders, a battery of on-table 120mm mortars and, for recce, a BA-10 and the PO-2 (very useful mortar spotter). They would face panzer forces of a Pz-II platoon, a Pz-IV platoon and 1 extra Pz-III (lang) with a kradschutzen platoon as infantry and other bits a pieces, including off-table mortars, a StuG (same one that had been a pain in the last game) and a 20mm AA half-track (unlucky for the PO-2).
We got going, with my basic plan being to throw my T-70s forwards in a reckless attack, to cause damage, confusion and attraction attention, and quickly grab any available objectives for easy counters. Behind them, the T-34s, tank riders and mortars (once set-up), would follow in the main attack, going fast and hard at where ever seemed weak and had some cover from incoming anti-tank guns (those copses). Time to go.
As per ‘the plan’, the T-70 all arrived first and sped across the steps, getting to 4 objectives (woo-hoo) and running over and machine gunning a German recce command team, that was to be his main mortar spotter, but were now dead… excellent start as the Germans were slow to arrive and found their first tanks, Pz -IIs, not much of a match for my T-70s in the light tank duel, as 20mm cannon rounds kept glancing off.
The T-34s, each with a tank riding squad arrived and waited for the T-70 to complete their work, as the mortars then got set-up and started to pound away at the farm, where the Germans were still arriving. Long ranged fire proved mostly ineffective and the AA half-track was pinned by mortar fire, so the PO-2 could swoop about and fire the mortars at anything without being shot at every turn. The Germans meanwhile couldn’t get their mortars going, comms issues.
After the initial engagement it was time for the T-34s to move up and join the fight. I had lost 2 T-70s to anti-tank fire, but the others were still fighting, but low on ammo (no ammo truck) or down to a single MG. My T-34s would push right, using the copses as some cover and they dismounted their infantry here, only to encounter dismounted kradschutzen in what became an extended infantry fight, both sides pinning the other in turn and unable to move into or through the woods to assault the other. The German StuG, at it again, recaptured one objectives when the T-70 holding it was destroyed and then the BA-10 raced up to try to hold it was pinned, then destroyed. The Germans had started a fight back, and their AA, unpinned, hit and damaged the PO-2. I needed to unpin it and withdraw it, but didn’t due to lack of orders and next turn, it was shot down in hail of 20mm flak fire… 2 counters as it crashed and burned. Two poor orders rolls on the trot meant the Russian’s advance had ground to halt. A timed IL-2 airstrike helped out though, scoring 4 pins with its bombs... flak missed it... phew!
The tank fight was heating up, but remained at longer ranges, the T-34s banging away to little effect (I hit and failed to penetrate German steel on 6 consecutive attempts!). The 120mm mortars were still doing good work though, although my FHQ was doing the spotting work now (always worth having back-up spotter or two).
The Germans were struggling too, low on ammo, the Pz-IIs unable to do much and reduced to trying to pin T-34s (not much luck). Short on big anti-tank guns to take on my armour, the loss of his Pz-III lang hurt even more. The Russians were getting the upper hand and so, the Germans, fearing the loss of their infantry at the copse (now 2 squads and 2 MG teams, mostly pinned), if I could ever get my inexperienced infantry to close assault when ordered (failed 3 times), sent his last reserve, veteran panzer grenadiers in a 251 on reserve move, it raced up and dismounted the men, who then tore into the Russian infantry, assaulting one rifle squad and wiping it out. His Panzerjaeger-I scored hit and kill on a T-70 and my counter stack was building worryingly. But the bold counter-attack was at a cost. A T-34 shell destroyed the exposed 251 and more machine guns wiped out his MG team. When more mortar fire destroyed his AA half-track, back the farm, that was the Germans done. The Russians had won, with 7 BR still left, so 2-3 counters in the tank. I’ll take that. So, 1-all in games in the series so far.
The next game, we decided, would be a change, off to Stalingrad itself for a game that wasn’t a tank duel. Make for a nice change before moving on to 1943 and Kursk.
Photos of the action.
|T-70s lead the way, scattering towards objectives (the crater, KO'd BA-10, rocks on hillock) before the Germans could get moving. |
|They encounter a skulking German recce spotter team, and give him some MG fire...|
|Don steppe, Russians from lower left, Germans at the farm, top right. |
|PO-2 circles above... waiting the 120mm battery to deploy. |
|T-34s and tank riders arrive and wait a few turns. |
|Panzer IIs lead the way for the Germans, under watchful eye of big brother, Pz-IV lang...|
|FHQ watches from hillock as the 120mm mortars arrive. |
|More T-34s, the main punch, the smoking one is a wreck marking an objective.|
|Busy at the farm, but hemmed in by the marsh. |
|Resupply truck needed already. |
|AA cover, very handy. |
|Timed strike, well placed, but the bombing is all pinning, but effective pinning... |
|T-34s move up on the right towards the hotly contested copse. |
|... and in the centre. |
|StuG moves to take the objective back, wrecking the T-70 holding it. |
|BA-10 moves in, hits and... pins, again! That StuG will not die! |
|Infantry at close quarters at the copse, and all rapidly pinned. Who can get an assault off? Neither side it turned out. |
|BA-10 is caught in the 75mm crossfire. |
|Urrah! More infantry to support the battle at the copse. |
|T-70 (no ammo now) vs Pz-II, bouncing 20mm shells... |
|20mm Flak gets its target, down in flames for the PO-2... should have withdrawn it once damaged. |