June 23 1941 Eastern Front AAR

Posted: May 16, 2010 in Miniature Games
Tags: , , , ,

Chad’s Early War Eastern Front scenario had an Soviet armored column trying to destroy a German bridgehead 24 hours after Operation Barbarossa began. We used Fire and Fury’s Battlefront WWII rules, which are one of my favorite combined arms miniatures rulesets. One stand of infantry is roughly a section, and one gun/vehicle is roughly 2-3 gun/vehicles in real life.

The German forces consisted of Pz 38Ts, Pz IIs and a PzIVd, as well as a platoon of motorcycle recon troops and a 37mm PAK. German tanks were rated as “Veteran” and “Elite,” depending on the unit.

The German bridgehead over the river was centered on a small Russian village. The Panzers were esconced behind a railway embankment and were waiting for the Russians.

The Russian forces were T-28s, BT-7s, T-26s and a couple of T-34s. Add to this a company of Russian infantry. The Russian tankers were “Raw” and the infantry was “Trained.” Additionally, being Russians, all spotting attempts were shifted down one level to reflect lack of training. As I have been accused of being a sucker for forlorn hopes, I assumed overall command of the Russian forces. My battle plan was a simple one: charge the main element of Russian tanks down the east-west road toward the village and pin down the German defenders. This force consisted of two tank companies (T-28/T-26 mixed elements of about 5-6 units) and the infantry company. Sweeping to my north I sent the faster T-34s and BT-7s with orders to parallel my advance, sweep around the German northern flank and hit ’em in the flank (or rear if they came out to meet my units). Comfortable with this hammer and anvil approach (or hammer and sickle, since we were working for Uncle Joe), we began our advance.

Russian artillery kept up a barrage of smoke in the village to obscure the main tank column. I started out with rapid advances down the road, swinging my motorized infantry off to a wheatfield to the south side of the road for cover.

The Russian column heads west toward the village.

Amazingly, our activation rolls were high, which kept the “Raw” Russian troops moving quickly. At least, they did until the German artillery shells began to fall, disrupting our swift progress.

German heavy artillery falls, brewing up a T-26 and disordering most of the lead armor elements.

We quickly dismounted our infantry and sent them forward toward the village, using the railway embankment for cover. For the rest of the night, it became a back and forth exercise between my tanks moving forward, becoming disordered or suppressed, then moving forward slightly. The Germans kept their heads down for the most part, finding their infantry without anti-tank weapons and the lone 37mm gun section fairly useless against the Russian armor. Artillery ended up being the main weapon for both sides. Spotting (or inability to spot) was critical for the Russians. Faced with needing to move forward under artillery fire, they rarely got a chance to see the German infantry or tanks.

Now on to the northern flanking element and the German response. For some reason, the German commanders north of the village decided to cross the embankment and move toward the advancing Russians, while the Russians threw their tanks into high gear like the Cossacks of old and rapid advanced across the open ground with reckless abandon.

These Germans, along with another platoon to their north, moved across the railway embankment to get closer to Ivan.

After just three turns of movement, it was time for the tanks to shoot one another.

Two companies of Russian armor pressed toward the German defenders who found themselves out of position and were forced to head back across the railway embankment under fire. The Pz38Ts and PzIIs were ineffective, but the PzIVe managed to keep the T-34s disordered for one turn. In exchange, the Russian tanks disrupted the German retreat over the railway. The second turn of shooting found the Germans outnumbered 2.5:1 as the second Russian company raced to support the lead element. Meanwhile the German infantry had retreated into the village and some of the German tanks supporting it were finally coming under fire from my tanks.

The Germans start coming under fire from my advancing Russians.

Would Ivan be able to beat back the Fascist invaders and save the Rodina?

Nope. We ran out of time. The scenario had a ten turn limit and our mission was to clear the town and secure the bridge. The Germans held on long enough to win the day. Had the scenario been two turns longer, we might have pulled it off. All in all, we had an absolute blast and everyone was pleased with the realism provided by Chad’s scenario and the way the rules played out. These rules are not your typical “everything blows up” rules. Most of the time, you are causing suppression and disordered results which limits your ability to command, fire and maneuver your troops. In fact, only one unit was outright destroyed all night. Thanks again to Chad for running the game and to everyone who played.

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