This weekend we played the next scenario from the SkirmishCampaigns “Großdeutschland at Kursk” book. Again for those of you who are interested in how thing went so far… here are the first 4 games and the grand total results (just click on the tabs). Game numbers 5 and 6 can be found on this blog. As before I am going to tell the story from my (the German) point of view. Please do not be too disappointed if this report will be rather short, as unfortunately this game was a bit bleak.
While the game is set during the night of July 9th 1943 it does not depict an actual event, so it could have been any night during the Battle of Kursk. It depicts a German salvage crew trying to repair a damaged Tiger while coming under attack from Russian forces. The Germans featured six men salvage crew, not a proper combat unit especially in quality working on the Tiger at the beginning of the game. Three men from the Tiger crew would arrive on the table at the beginning of the first round in a Kübelwagen and a Motorized Infantry squad including one LMG would arrive at the beginning of round two. The Soviets had a Recon platoon HQ (Lieutenant and a Rifleman), a nine men Recon Squad that included and LMG and an eight men Assault Squad. All the Russian units were mostly armed with SMG´s and the Assault Squad had 6 satchel charges to destroy the Tiger.
The game was set at night, so ranges were greatly reduced. Soldiers within a unit had to keep tight cohesion not to get lost and you could only fire on targets they had spotted and identified first (unless they had exposed themselves by firing or were illuminated by other means). The Germans were not allowed to make any offensive moves or move towards the Russians unless they identified a thread or were attacked. They were allowed to move closer to the Tiger though. The Tiger itself was immobile and could not use its weapons and all the other tanks on the table were just burnt out wrecks. The table itself was slightly wooded with rolling hills and a gully that ran the middle of the board. The Tiger was located inside this gully.
The Russians would win by either killing, capturing or driving off all the Germans or by destroying the Tiger. The Germans had to prevent that.
The game began quiet uneventful. The Russians advanced towards the Germans still outside spotting range. The tank crew moved towards the gully inside their Kübelwagen. Chances for a good shot were slim, so they were driving with their headlights on. One of the few Russians armed with a rifle took the chance anyway, hit the Kübels engine, setting the vehicle on fire. The tank crew got out unhurt, but now the Germans knew what was going on and took defensive positions. At least the Kübelwagen was far enough from the Tiger not light up the perimeter with its flames.
While the German infantry moved onto the table, the Soviets slowly advanced. The tank crew went through the gully and hid in a few bushes on its far side. They were also quiet successful at spotting and identifying the attackers. Since the Russians were still too far way for effective SMG fire, the tankers threw their stick grenades at them. Even though chances were thin for a grenade to land spot on in the night, I still hoped that they might scatter into the Soviet formation. In the end the six grenades only resulted in one man killed and one pinned down. The Russians took this hint and started throwing grenades of their own, killing one man from the salvage crew. But they dropped one grenade almost on their own formation. 😉
By now things heated up. The German infantry had moved up and strengthened the defensive perimeter. Their LMG team was on the Tigers rear hull, taking cover behind the turret. Some of the salvage crew started to fire in hopes that the Russians would fire back and expose their positions, which they did. Now the LMG had enough targets and after a couple of tries I rolled good enough to set up a firing lane with them, which they kept shifting over the enemy formation. This had a devastating effect on the Soviets. Most of them went for cover or their morale broke, including the officer and all NCO´s. In the process of fighting back the Russian LMG gunner and two of the soldiers jammed their weapons so bad, that they could only be repaired at a workshop. On the right flank the first soldiers had come close enough to the tankers for effective SMG fire. Two of the Soviets were killed and most of the rest lost their nerve.
At this point the Soviet player decided to withdraw. He only had two rounds to fulfill his objectives. Most of his troops were pinned down and shaken, under effective machine-gun and SMG fire and there were still enough uncommitted Germans around the Tiger to pick up the pace. Feeling that it was more important to secure the Tiger and how easily things could turn if I pursued at night, I just let them go.
So in the end it was a German victory with one German loss versus 3 dead Russians. So the Germans finished the second campaign in the book with 4 consecutive wins. The next one will be the first for the final campaign.