Tuesday 22 March 2022

Battlegroup Stalingrad - Shoe Factory No. 4 and Kutusov Square

This game has been planned since Christmas, but for various reasons we haven’t made the time to play. Well, we finally did, 1,200 pts with the Stadtkampf scenario set in the city centre as the Germans push for the Volga. The table was set-up with many buildings, on the Russian left was the edge of an industrial zone, with the factory and a marshaling/ train depot. In the Russian right centre was the only open space on the tabletop, named Kutusov Square. All the rest was mostly apartment blocks with a few other scattered factory/workshop buildings and a fuel depot (which was on fire at the start of the game). There were a full 5 objectives on the tabletop. The main work hall of Shoe Factory No.4. A building on the edge of the marshaling yard (I’ll call it the office). A small church on the western edge of Kutusov Square (also a fortified building by the Germans and full of various support weapons). A larger church, ‘cathedral’, on the eastern edge of the square and finally, the German left rear (Russian right) a large Party admin building, which would become the German ‘command centre’ area, with his FHQ, comms team, observer team, ambulance, etc. To start with the Germans held 2 objectives and so did the Russians, with only the marshaling yard office in no-man’s land. 

Shoe Factory No.4, main work hall, an objective in Russian hands.

Kutusov Square, far end a German strong point, under fire from a dug-in T-34.

For forces, in brief; the Russians had 3 regular infantry platoons (all Volga flotilla marines), 2 Remnants platoons both secreted in tunnels and a hidden cellar deep in German lines. 2 dug-in T-34s, 2 mobile T-34s, various marksmen and a sniper ace, a sapper team with a flamethrower, an observer team, off-table 76.2mm battery and 120mm mortars, a PRTP, an AA HMG on a truck, a Timed Katyusha strike and other bits and pieces, so infantry heavy as required by this environment.

The Germans had 3 Platoons, 2 of regular grenadiers, 1 Sturm platoon of veterans, of which 2 squads were hidden in tunnels to emerge anywhere. 3 StuGs (two kurtz, one lang), a StuG-33B (of course), a Pz II, a Pz I mounting 20mm flak field-conversion, ambulance, HQ, FOO, an on-table 150mm infantry gun with loader team, an on-table 105mm artillery gun and loader team, on-table 80mm mortar team in a mortar pit, 2 supply trucks, a lurking 222, sniper, timed 105mm arty strike, timed Stuka strike and bits and pieces. Each platoon also had an attached HMG team, making 12 German MGs around the city… eek!

Having set-up and deployed, which took a while, then sorted timed strikes, hidden locations, ammo for tanks, located PRTPs, the Germans then won the roll-off for first turn and could get their attack underway. Let the slaughter commence!

The Germans moved up and their guns and mortar start to drop fire into the Russian deployment zone, one direct hit on a dug-in T-34 was effective and the MGs rattled out some suppressing fire. The first ‘hot-spot’ of the battle would be the objective in the marshaling yard, as the Germans threatened it and marines in the factory moved up to counter and came under heavy incoming fire. The StuG-33B rolled up and fired into the objective buildings and the first Russians became casualties. Around Kutusov Square the Germans edged up by one buildings and cleared out a Russian infiltration team, but got pinned down by sniper fire from the ‘cathedral’ where my sniper-ace and his spotter were waiting on ambush fire. German reinforcements were slow to arrive, and that wouldn’t help them all game, but both sides were rolling well for orders for most of the game.

The Russians counter-attacked to secure the marshaling yard office, launching the first close assault of the game to cleared out the building of a German squad, but then got pinned themselves and countered attacked by a German MG team… wiping out the squad. Along the road between the factory and square the front line would form, German MGs blazing across to the apartment blocks opposite where the Russian struggled to hold, feeding in a few squads to keep the Germans at bay, only to watch them whiter away each turn. Marine losses were high in the first few turns… but we drew some lucky counters, both mine strikes (both used on StuGs and both failed, one on rolling a 1, but we had no mobile vehicles on the table to use the counter back on). Then an air attack, which we repurposed as ‘low on fuel’ and the StuG-33B, out of ammo, was also out of fuel, so the crew abandoned it, blocking a side road. Russian reinforcements started to move on, including the AA truck, to get on ambush fire, because for-sure the Luftwaffe would show-up at some point.

Both sides backed off the marshaling yard office,neither able to claim it and just dying from the heavy fire instead. The fighting here fell into a lull, only to ignite at the ‘cathedral’, the Germans had sneaked up and  assaulted the building, taking it and the objective. This would start a sequence of assaults and counter assaults as Russians appeared from tunnels into the cathedral crypts and the Germans, with heavy supporting fire from across the square, assaulted back, resulting in the loss of an entire German platoon and at least 4 Russian squads. The objective changed hands, back and forth four times, for it to eventually be held by the last handful of Russian sappers, then abandoned due to the German fire. In the end, nobody held the objective here either.

Whilst the slaughter in the church was on going, the Russian armour had arrived and pushed on through the streets, intend on marauding into German lines, just to cause chaos really. This was hindered by the militia crew’s auxiliary status (i.e, I kept rolling 1s), and 20mm cannon fire from a Pz II, which was later destroyed at PB range by a T-34 and a 222, which lurked around the square’s edge. The Luftwaffe did show up (I knew they must), the Stuka timed strike dropping in, only for the Dshk to drive it off… yeah… I like it when AA does it’s job, praise to Mama DshK, and no chit requires for ‘under air attack’.

Acros the city another two Russian squads appeared in a apartment block through the sewers and took out the mortar pit and then failed to destroy the 105mm gun’s crew before StuG returned fire at PB pinned them and a German demo team (all he had in reserve) assaulted them. The surprise attack had not achieved as much as I had hoped and cost us 2 veteran squads of assault troops.  

On the right, behind the T-34 advance two Sturm squads did likewise and appeared under my FOO’s building and began climbing the stairs to the top floor, unopposed. Their sewer tunnel entrance was not collapsed by my ‘collapsed tunnel’ on another rolled 1.., tbf, the Germans also rolled a 1 for theirs… it seems nobody can collapse a tunnel round here! The German’s would assault and kill my forward observer team, KOing my off-table artillery with it. I did ask if they could jump of the 4th story roof as the Germans came up the stairs…

The Russians had their own reposte. The second remnant platoon, hidden before the game, now emerged, by luck, next door to the large ‘party HQ’ building used as the German command post. The veterans behind enemy lines rushed out, assaulted and wiped out the crew of the 150mm infantry gun, loader team and all, and destroyed an ambulance too (no pity here). They also got the German FHQ under fire. Suddenly, the Germans had little to try and stop them… and the HQ ran for it. My platoon could advance on the objective buildings, but the 20mm flak wagon, on ambush fire, pinned them down. It had to die to claim the objective as the German’s quickly vacated the area (it’s not running away, it’s a tactical withdrawal). One of my T-34s rushed across the square, but got pinned by 222 ambush fire, saving the flak. I’d get it next turn…

Except, there was no next turn, the Germans had suddenly run-out of BR, their counters now totaling 79 of their 77 BR break point. The Russians had reached 68 of 84, so a solid win, but we had the luck of the special draws which reduced that total. Grueling fight, but great fun, the losses on both sides were, as expected, high. We counted up the loss of 3 full platoons and at least half of another, so 3.5 platoons gone. The Germans had lost most of 2, so higher losses for the Russians even in victory, but we had the men to lose. The post-game debrief agreed the two dug-in T-34s had proved tough, one was lost to an artillery hit late in the game, but they both took multiple hits and fought on. The Germans were short on AT guns, their one lang StuG broke down (another special counter for us).  The crux of had been the  slaughter in the ‘cathedral of death’, and the Russians ‘war of rats’ four underground counter-attacks which had been the (as planned for) surprise. No route to Volga here, a victory paid for in blood. 

Nazi sniper, waits on ambush fire.

T-34, dug-in guarding the work hall. German shelling would eventually KO it.

Russian right. Orange fluff for the buildings that are burning, and out of bounds. At the rear is the party admin building.

The marshaling yard office. The engine shed is on fire, which was awkward.

Russian move in to try and claim the office objective, only to be quickly torn-up.

AA truck, Mama DshK is ready...

when the Luftwaffe try to drop by over the square...

The end at the office, just a few stragglers left.

Marines hold the factory, but the Germans never came this way, so a stand-off.

More marine reinforcements make there way up through the work hall, under occasional mortar and 105 shelling.

First T-34 reserve arrives at the' cathedral' before rushing the square.

Second T-34 approaches the German roadblock, behind which waits the Pz II.

German landsers cross the front line and infiltrate through the apartment to attack the irksome T-34 covering the square, with their AT grenades. It failed and a counter-attack by marines cleared them out again.

Race across the square, only for a 222 to pin the tank. But with only a 75mm infantry gun to engage it, the rookie crew were safe inside.

T-34 reaches the road block and blasts the PzII, brave stand, but futile. Now to storm through the road block.

Urrah! My remnant squad appears behind the party admin block, and jump the German ambulance, no mercy for the wounded fascists...

More straggler marines try to hold the line under whithering MG fire.

Still waiting at the shoe factory... all quiet though...

The T-34 lines up his flak wagon (Pz I conversion), but pins itself... argh! Damn auxiliary crewed tanks!


  1. Superb Sir, a grand and gripping account, so very Grad. Love the shoe factory, I recall seeing it on the FotR demo at Derby Worlds thinking I must make a similar one, haven't got round to it of course, perhaps I will now

  2. That's a feast for the eyes - what a table! Excellent!

  3. You forgat the worker militia holding the Shoe factory flank- the true heroes I thought!