For some time now, we have been playing our way through the SkirmishCampaigns: Russia ´43 – Grossdeutschland at Kursk book. For those interested in how things went so far, you can find the results and game reports on our club homepage. Just click on the tabs above the text to browse through the previous games and so on.
So what did this game have in store? It depicted events on Juli 7th with German armoured spearheads trying to push through the lines of the Soviet 3rd Mechanized Corps.
There were three large hills on the table and a number of light woods. The table was cut in half by a small river which sported a single stone bridge of questionable stability. The Soviets were allowed to start in fixed positions. The infantry in trenches some of their tanks dug in. The Germans had to move onto the table at the start of the game. So what forces were pitted against one another.
Well the Soviets had total of six T-34´s, three T-70´s and two KV-1´s (one crew would get serious problems with the commissar since their tank still sported a winter white-wash in Juli ;-)). They were supported by a nine men rifle squad which included a LMG and an eight men SMG squad.
The Germans had four PzKw III, two PzKw IV and two PzKw VI “Tiger”. They also had a seven men Mechanized Infantry HQ Squad led by a LTD inside an SdKfz. 251/10 and a ten men Mechanized Infantry Squad inside a SdKfz. 251/1.
With the Tiger tanks this might seem like a walk in the park, but the scenario posed some bigger problems. Any tank the Soviets fielded, including the flimsy T-70´s, could easily punch through the armour of both the SdKfz. 251´s and the PzKw III´s, while the Panzer II´s could only hope for the same when catching the T-34´s from behind. The T-34´s and Panzer IV were about an even match, but they were outnumbered 1:3. Obviously the Tiger were safe unless anything got around them, but even with their 8.8cm guns they could only crack the KV-1´s from the side or with a lucky hit from the front. All of this was made worse by minefields and barbed wire on the Soviet side of the river. So essentially the scenario was still a tough nut to crack for me playing the Germans.
The soviets placed their three T-70´s and one of the T-34´s behind the hill on their side as a reserve. I decided to move both Tiger tanks forward and positioned them on my side of the river inside the treeline. This would make it hard for the Soviets to get behind them, while they could pick their targets without fear to be taken out due to their heavy armour. While the rest of my force charged ahead they began firing at the KV-1´s, but their shots only ever hit their frontal armour and never penetrated.
By the time the remaining tanks had reached the river, the Tiger tanks had at least managed to shoot up two of the T-34´s. The PzKw II´s had split up. three rolled into the centre with the PzKw IV´s while one moved along the left flank to attack one of the T-34´s hiding there.
Now one of the Panzer IV crossed the bridge, while the other forded the river. Or at least tried to, since it got stuck in the mud. The crew made the best out of the situation and fired from the resulting hull down position. Their first shot set the forward KV-1 on fire. Now that the majority of my troops was across the river the Soviet reserves moved forward.
The counterattacking T-70s managed to take out one of the PzKw III´s, but that was about it. The other tanks outflanked the minefields or punched through the wire. they took out the Soviet armour with a fearsome speed now that they had cracked their lines and could catch them in their flanks and rear.
Now the halftracks that had crossed the river in the wake of the tanks began to dismount their infantry to clear the Soviet trenches. The Soviets saw that their time had run out and surrendered. In the end the Germans managed to crack to soviet position for the loss of just a single PzKw III.
So the Germans scored 29 Victory points vs. the Soviets 6.