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Category Archives: WWII: Russians

Our game at Crisis 2015: Battle of Berlin

Our game at Crisis 2015: Battle of Berlin

So, after keeping you all excited for days now, here are the game shots from our Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich  demogame at Crisis this year.

To be honest, it is hard to make a coherent game report out of the game, due to all the chatting with people, explaining the mechanics, answering where the vehicles and models came from and so on. But I will at least try for a very short synopsis:

The Germans were a mixed Battlegroup formed around a nucleus of a Volkssturm platoon, beefed up, by a squad of Hitlerjugend tank hunters, a squad of SS Panzergrenadiere in a halftrack, some Wehrmacht Pioniere, a SS sniper team, a Pantherturm, 8.8cm Pak “Scheunentor”, a Borgward Wanze, a Panther and a Tiger II (Commander).

The Russians had a Platoon of rifles, with Maxim, Ratsch-Boom AT-gun and AT-gun team, an artillery spotter team for their onboard mortars and heavy artillery, a squad of Assault Pioneers, one of Scouts, three T34/85, two JS-II tanks and a lone T-34/76 (Commander).

Julian and I started the game in quite classic fashion. The Germans waiting for the Russians to run into the traps they had laid and the Russian tanks trading were shots with the Tiger and Pantherturm at long-range, while waiting for the infantry to catch up and protect them from the pesky Panzerfäuste.

During this time not much happened. Much like the Demo last year, both of us managed to alternate at rolling bad so we did not take out much with our long-range shots. (The funniest exchange was between the Pantherturm and JS-II who had problems spotting each other and one of the JS finally did and hit, he got a snake eyes for the penetration roll [he would have needed a three on two D6] only to roll a twelve the next round.) The most impressive exchange was the Russian sniper and one of the SS snipers killing each other, which left the lone German sniper to kill one the artillery spotters, pinning the other. When the Russina infantry command was also pinned, this effectively rendered the Russian mortars and Artillery useless (especially since the the participation gamers would continuously forget to unpin them). We also found out that a fanatic squad of Hitlerjugend can well take out a squad of Soviet elite scouts at short-range with their SMGs and a little help from the Panzergrenadiere. And that even with our gods eye view of the battlefield, it is easy to drive a T34 around a corner only to find the road blocked with Czech Hedgehogs and becoming a prime target for a PaK as a result.

Obviously things really picked up once the first participants came and played along, driving their tanks and infantry on without regard for losses. At that time tanks started blowing up all around the table and infantry perished left and right. This was also the first time I saw man-pack flamethrowers in use in the game and boy are they deadly assaulting buildings, especially on a squad sporting a fair amount of SMGs! All in all we had a cracking day and I hope the players had one, too. I will leave you with the pictures!

Der Russe kommt!

Der Russe kommt!

Hitlerjugend tankhunter squad besides destroyed Tiger I

Hitlerjugend tankhunter squad besides destroyed Tiger I

Pantherturm and Volkssturm MG-08 team in the front, Tiger II in the rear

Pantherturm and Volkssturm MG-08 team in the front, Tiger II in the rear

AT-gun position with the Volkssturm command looking on

AT-gun position with the Volkssturm command looking on

SS sniper in one of the tall buildings

SS sniper in one of the tall buildings

The Panterturm again

The Panterturm again

LMG position

LMG position

JS-II advancing

JS-II advancing

T-34s advancing

T-34s advancing

Hiding behind the rubble

Hiding behind the rubble

Hitlerjugend about to take out the Soviet scouts

Hitlerjugend about to take out the Soviet scouts

Russian Pioniere about to assault

Russian Pioniere about to assault

Enemy at the doors

Enemy at the doors

Volkssturm advancing

Volkssturm advancing

The 8.8cm PaK

The 8.8cm PaK

T34-85 taken out by the PaK

T34-85 taken out by the PaK

The end of the Pantherturm

The end of the Pantherturm

Tiger II waiting behind the barricades

Tiger II waiting behind the barricades

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Battlegroup Kursk

Battlegroup Kursk

OK, it seems the process of catching up is not over yet. This is a game report of a game we (Julian and myself) played in May. This time it was Battlegroup Kursk (in 20mm). The scenario was the “Counter-Attack at Vinogradovka”, but with alternative forces.

 

Before I start, please let me say, that it seems I have waited a little too long writing this report, since my memory seems a little fuzzy by now. Be that as it may, I will try to give my best report.

The Germans (played by Julian) had a PzKw V Tiger, three PzKw III, accompanying infantry (if memory serves me right, about a platoon of them) and some off-board artillery.

The tanks were deployed on their right, the infantry in the centre and on their left (where the majority of their infantry was.

The Russians (played by me) brought 6 T34-76, three T-70s, two guns (IIRC a Zis-2 and a Zis-3), two medium mortars and infantry (again about a platoon worth plus a sniper team) to the fight.

One three tank group of T-34´s each were deployed centre and right, as was all the infantry. Only the T-70s were deployed opposite the German tanks.

Throughout the game, the Germans only rolled average when it came to the number of commands per turn. That being said, with one exception, the Russians rolled very low.

Almost from the start, the game turned into a heavy slugging match. The Germans activated first and pounded the Russian positions with their artillery and Tiger (since all other weapons were without range). They failed to do much damage to the infantry and gun crews they hit (IIRC only one dead), but two infantry sections and one of the AT guns were pinned. Some of the German infantry advanced as well.

The Russians returned fire with the other AT gun and the T-70s, firing at the PzKw IIIs, but the most they did was pin one of them. The T-34s in the centre started their advance towards the German tanks. At the same time the Russian that had been pinned by the German fire unpinned.

From this point on, things turned more and more into a gunfight between the tanks of both sides and the AT guns. Both the T-70s and PzKw III died pretty quick. The biggest problem was the Tiger. It slowly kept on taking out the T-34s. It is not like they did not fire back, but all they did was pin it from time to time. So by the end of the game, all that was left from the tank battle was the Tiger.

On the only thing that went somewhat well for the Russians was their right flank. Although they were subject to heavy fire and close attacks from the German infantry, they managed to dislodge them from the hill on that flank. Even better they also managed to take out the German spotters, which meant no more artillery coming down on their positions.

In the end it was too little though. I managed to always draw the high chits when unpinning or taking losses. So by the time they cleared the hill, the Russians had taken too many losses and had reached their breaking point and the Germans won the day.

 

All in all a very pleasant game, that was somewhat diminished by the bad dice rolling whenever it really mattered!

The Battlefield (Germans left, Russians right)

The Battlefield (Germans left, Russians right)

PzKw IIIs

PzKw IIIs

T-34s moving out of the village

T-34s moving out of the village

The beauty of the Russian countryside

The beauty of the Russian countryside

Tank engagement

Tank engagement

The Germans tanks

The Germans tanks

T-34 scaling the hill

T-34 scaling the hill

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2015 in Kursk, Wehrmacht, WWII, WWII: Germans, WWII: Russians

 

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich AAR

We have lately been looking around at some other sets of WWII rules and I fell in love with the Battlegroup series. Martin and I had been trying to find a suitable date for a game for almost two weeks now and over the weekend we both realised that we would be available on Monday, so we met up yesterday morning for a game. What a way to start a week, right? And to make things even better, the weather had turned fabulous here in Germany over the weekend, so we spontaneously decided to have he game outside (this resulted in a board set up, which is a little more basic… Sorry for that!).

I had been in the mood for a late war game when creating the forces on Sunday, we went for the Fall of the Reich supplement and these are the forces (those marked with an asterisk were randomly determined to be reserves and arrived on turn 1 for the Russians and turn 2 for the Germans).

The German defenders had a Tiger II* as their forward headquarters unit, a PzKw II l Luchs reconnaissance and PaK 43 as support. The main force consisted of a squad of Volkssturm with two Panzerfäuste* and an armoured Panzergrenadier platoon. The later consisted of command squad in a SdKfz 251/10, a medic* and four eight-men Grenadier Squads (one started in reserve) in SdKfz 251/1. Their machine guns had been upgraded to MG-42s. They also had to special rules to raise their Battlegroup rating (more on that later).
The Soviets had a forward HQ, a VVS Air control officer* both in a GAZ jeep and a wire team*. There was also a T34/85 platoon* and a single JS-2 tank*. Their reconnaissance was provided by an infantry foot patrol. Oddly enough, I thought I had chosen a sniper and put a according mini on the able instead. (Good thing I actually put the sniper besides a bush that had virtually the same colour as his uniform and forgot about him all game long! :-P) There was also a rifle platoon, consisting of a command squad, four eight-men rifle squads (one would start in reserve), a Maxim HMG team*. They also had access to a two-gun off-board Zis-3 battery and two on board 82mm mortars*.

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

Martin chose to play the Germans, so the Soviets went to me. Set up was fairly straight. The Soviets deployed virtually even spaced along their deployment zone (10″ into the table). The German PaK deployed to the rear and in the centre, the Luchs on the road running the length of the board, with one of the halftracks behind. The other Panzergrenadiere and their halftracks deployed in the shadow of the village and the village square itself.

Table from the Soviet side

Table from the Soviet side

The first round saw the initiative go to the Russians. Not much going on there. All units (including the tanks and infantry from reserves moved forward). Two rifle squads and the Maxim were driven forward by their commissar and made extra speed under constant cries of Ura, Ura, Ura. The air control officer tried to call in the artillery, but after he saw the spotter round go wide, decided to call it off. I would have loved to fire the JS-2 at the PaK, but thought twice. Ammo is a bit abstract under the rules, so the JS-2 carries precious few ammo for that. Since I had not bought a re-supply unit for either side I had to think twice when to shoot and when not.

JS-2 in the fields

JS-2 in the fields

The Germans still lacked their reserves, so their actions were limited to advances by a few units and by the PaK firing. Well rather failing to spot a target and when it had, to hit it! ;-).

T34´s on the roll

T34´s on the roll

Now the second round saw initiative go to the Soviets once more. Their officer tried to call in the artillery again, but once more their spotter round went wide and they were not ordered to fire for effect. The air control officer wanted the mortars to fire at the PaK, but had to find it was too far away, so the mortars just advanced. So did the other infantry and tanks. The JS-2 had now almost run into the Luchs and decided to take a shot at close range. It hit and ripped the small tank to shreds.

JS-2 vs the small cat

JS-2 vs the small cat

Now the German reinforcements arrived on table. Unfortunately Martin had rolled very few orders, so it was mostly about moving the reserves up. The Königstiger in the middle with the Volkssturm in its wake and the halftrack racing up to the village. The only shot fired was the PaK which took its chances on the JS-2. It scored a lucky hit and blew the big tank up. But this did not prove a happy occasion for the Germans either. Battlegroup works not just with unit moral, but also with a moral for your whole force. For every tank or unit lost you pick a random counter and it’s value gets deducted from your Battlegroup rating. So I had to take a counter for the loss of my behemoth and actually managed to pull a special out of fuel counter from the bag, which I then played on the Königstiger. We rolled for the result and lo and behold… It ran out of fuel and it’s crew chose to abandon it. This is a fate of war.

PaK 43, Königstiger and Volkssturm

PaK 43, Königstiger and Volkssturm

The next round saw initiative go to the Germans. But again a poor roll for orders meant that essentially not much happened. The Volkssturm advanced further, the reserve Panzergrenadiere still raced towards the village and the PaK was back to not hitting anything!

Advance of the mighty Volkssturm

Advance of the mighty Volkssturm
[Photo edited to comply with German law]


For the Russians it was still a general advance and again some of the troops were pushed forward by the commissar in charge. The most impressive event of this round was that the Russian artillery finally had run out of Vodka (or had they managed to fill up enough?) and were finally able to hit the village square. Most of the infantry and halftracks got away with a scare, but the Panzergrenadier command was mauled by the barrage, lost their nerve and ran off the table.

Panzergrenadier reenforcements debussing in the village square

Panzergrenadier reinforcements debussing in the village square

The next few rounds saw the fighting pick up, now that the Russians were in range of the village. This also meant that the Soviet artillery chose not to fire for effect, for fear of hitting their own troops with the exception of one very effective barrage on the newly arrived reserve Grenadiere.

Moving towards the German village

Moving towards the German village

To block some of the troops moving up on the German right flank one of the MG-42 teams moved out of the village and fired at the advancing Russians. They only managed to pin them down and as a reward were ripped apart by a high explosive round and machine gun fire from one of the T34’s.

MG-42 team firing from the village

MG-42 team firing from the village

The Russians un-pinned themselves and close assaulted one of the German unit in the village square, wiping them out for the loss of five of their own.

Close Assault in the village

Close Assault in the village

 

Together with one of the rifle squads, the Maxim managed to wipe out another one of the German grenadier units, while the wheat fields saved themselves from punishment. The PaK finally found its Mark,and managed to wipe out the two centre T34’s.

Russian advance

Russian advance

But not before that happened, one of them had killed the MG-42 team that had deployed together with the other Panzergrenadiere from their half track on the road.

Panzergrenadiere debussing

Panzergrenadiere dismounting

The mortars also found a good target at last and destroyed first the infantry in the fields and then the halftrack that had brought them there. Sad thing is, that the halftrack had previously led a blessed life with two shots from a T34 missing it.

Russian Mortars

Russian Mortars

On the last round, I was getting a bit worried. Unless I could the Germans to exceed their Battlegroup rating, it would be a loss for me. I knew Martin had pulled a huge number of counters already, but I did not know their value. And
I was running out of targets. My remaining T34 was behind the village and most German units were out of line of sight anyway. So my infantry started shooting at one of the halftracks and the command halftrack. While they never stood a chance to destroy either, they forced both crews to abandon them, which meant two more counters for Martin. And the last one pushed him two points over his Battlegroup rating which meant a last-minute Soviet win.

Russian Infantry advancing

Russian Infantry advancing

All in all, we were both very pleased with the game. It was fast paced with a good historic feel and we both felt that just a little more experience, would make it even more pleasant. So,we are looking forward to the next installment!

 

Großdeutschland at Kursk Game 9

Now after a very, very long hiatus we got back to our SkirmishCampaigns Grossdeutschland at Kursk campaign earlier this month. Now this was the 9th game over all or in other words the panultimate one in the book. It was named Steel Confrontation and honestly, it lived up to its name. The terrain was mostly open, with the a few hills and even fewer light woods. And that was it. there was the option for dust clouds to drift across the table, but only one materialized right at the beginning of the game and virtually lingered where it had started due to some very low dice rolling. If you see a row of dust markers on the table in some photos… that is it.

The Germans (played by me) had two Marder III (I substituted one with a Marder II), PzKw III, PzKW IV and PzKw VI “Tiger” each. There was a 5cm Pak towed by truck and and a small infantry Platoon HQ in a Kübelwagen.

Tiger meet

Tiger meet

The Soviets (played by Alexander) on the other hand had three units of three T34´s, one unit of three T-70´s one lone command T34 and a motorized Rifle Squad to field.

T34´s on the prowl

T34´s on the prowl

The Panzer III and command T34 would enter on a randomly determined round between round one and four. In case of the Germans this meant right from the beginning of the game and in case of the Soviets round four.

Entry was also random as well. In case of the Germans this could either be the South-West corner or via a small section of the western board edge, in case of the Soviets either the North-West corner or a small patch on the eastern board edge. Now the Bolsheviks all rolled the eastern edge (how appropriate) which made that little stretch of the table look like a car park at the beginning of the game. With the Germans the Marder and PzKw III entered via the table edge and all the rest via the corner.

Victory conditions for the Germans were to have both Tiger tanks operational on the southern third of the table, the Russians either had to destroy, immobilize or push them of the table. The game would run for twelve turns at most, by which time either one of the sides would have had to accomplish their goal.

Now the battle turned into a swirling mass of tanks, just like some of the real tank battles during Kursk and writing this up, I felt it was nearly impossible to do a coherent report that would give a real good idea of the battle. So I am trying to do this by following the German units through the battle, because frankly… with all those T34´s I lost track of which of them did what and when.

So lets start with the PzKw III. They decided to push through the dust cloud and along the western board edge to try to outflank the Soviets. The Russians did their best to prevent them from doing so and dispatched three T34´s and two T70´s to intercept them. All their other units were heading towards the southern edge of  the table.

Red tide

Red tide

Since the Panzer saw their best chance for survival in speed, they chose not to fire at their interceptors, since they were going at high speeds as well and this would have made hits highly unlikely. The lead tank did manage to get a shot off into the rear of one of the T34s who were heading South but only caused minor damage. The other PzKW III hit one of the other T-34s heading South in the flank and set off its fuel. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards the lead Panzer III was taken out while moving through the woods. So his compatriot had to steer to the side not to crash into the wreck and had for a short moment to turn its rear towards its interceptors, two of which stopped and killed it with shots into his weak rear.

Hunt for the PzKw III´s

Hunt for the PzKw III´s

Now the PzKw IV lead quiet an uneventful life. One of them decided to take its chances and fired its main gun at the approaching T34´s even though both were going at full speed. Chances for a hit were extremely low, but still it struck gold on its first shot and managed to explode the ammo in the T34 it had fired upon.

The plains of Russia

The plains of Russia

But its next few shots all missed and in the end it was taken out by a similar chance shot from one of the T34´s while still advancing.  The other T34 managed to kill all of the crew, except for the bow machine gunner on one of the T34 (this man would move to the commanders position, but did only get to fire off a single shot before the game ended, which missed). Shortly afterwards it was taken out by a hit which exploded its ammo while scaling a hillside.

Panzer charging forward

Panzer charging forward

The German truck towing the AT gun and the Kübelwagen had charged forward and stopped behind the ridge of  a hill. The PaK with the intention to set up a firing position, the infantry trying to cover it. Before the AT crew could even unlimber the gun, they were taken under fire by the Soviet DP machine gun from the Rifle Squad which had sped forward in its own truck to the other side of the hill. None of them were injured, but the trucks engine took a number of hits. The German infantry had a hard time protecting their compatriots, since they were still getting out of their Kübelwagen and were coming under fire from the Russian riflemen. So one of the Tiger, lacking tank targets at the moment loaded HE ammo and fired at the Soviet infantry. Most of the squad went unharmed, but the DP gunner was ripped to pieces. So his mates withdrew into the cover of the hills lee side. The crew would then set up its PaK and after a short wait, managed to take out a T34 with a hit to its front. They waited patiently for further targets, but soon their field of fire was blocked by T34 wrecks and they chose not to relocate for fear of becoming a prominent target.

In the thick of it with a 5cm PaK

In the thick of it with a 5cm PaK

Now the Marder III moved forward a little bit before going into a hull down position behind a hill. From there it managed to score two hits on a T34, the first doing some damage, the other one setting it aflame. But soon after, its superstructure was hit and all of the crew but the driver were killed. After recovering his nerves, he climbed up to the gun compartment to man it, but until the end of the game, its view was blocked by burning tanks as well.

Battle in the centre

Battle in the centre

Now the other Marder led a rather eventful live. for lack of better positions, if crossed the battlefield from the West to the East, firing the odd shot without much success. One of the T34´s tried to ram it, but it evaded at the last moment. This brought it close to the Russian Infantry. So it charged into the foot soldiers dispersing them and killing two in the process.

Marder overrunning Soviet infantry

Marder overrunning Soviet infantry

And it was gone before the Soviets recovered and tried to throw hand grenades into its open top. It would then turn back north towards towards the centre and damage one of the T34s which was then taken out by one of the Tiger tanks. It would soon end up hiding between some Russian wrecks in the centre and actually managed to destroy one of the T-34´s which had turned around from their successful Panzer III hunt.

T34´s to the left of ´em, T34´s to the right of ´em

T34´s to the left of ´em, T34´s to the right of ´em

By this time the command T-34 had entered the table and seeming the Marder boxed in decided to ram it. Now that one did not turn out as the Russian commander had planned. While it did massive damage to the Marder tracks and wheels it did not render it in operational. On the other hand, it managed to smash its own main gun seriously damaging the commander. When the T34 reversed, the Marder turned and took it out, which actually was the last kill of the game.

Now the Tiger tanks did what they were designed for. They went up a hill (killing some infantry in the process as mentioned before), pointed their thick armor towards the enemy and firing at targets.

Tiger overwatch

Tiger overwatch

In the beginning this was pretty few, since most were either out of view or had been dispatched by other vehicles already. But things got better, once the Russians who had been pursuing the PzKw III turned around.

Soviets swing around

Soviets swing around

In the end they had managed to take out all the T70s and whatever T34´s they could lay their Acht-Achter upon. At the same time all the Russian shots seemed to bounce off without doing much harm. There were a few interesting moments though. Since they had taken up positions close to the Russian infantry, said infantry chose to close assault them. And they actually managed to cause the only real damage, by placing grenades on the tracks, but only enough to slow one of them down. Seeing this the German infantry charged forward to defend the tanks, which they managed killing all but one, but at a high price since all but one riflemen perished while doing so. By the time they had done so, one of the T70s had charged up the hill to get into the Tigers rear. The remaining Soldat tried to close assault it as well, but failed to do any damage. But by the time the T70 was imposition to fire, the rear Tiger had turned its turret and took it out point blank.

Unequal battle

Unequal battle

In the end, the game ended with all but one Russian tank killed and that one only had one living crew member and was immobilized. Of the Soviet infantry only one soldier had survived.

On the German side the Marder II and both Tiger tanks were operational (although one slightly slower due to track damage) and the PaK team was there as well. The Marder III was badly damaged and only had one living crew me member as well.

In the end it was a German victory since they still had 6 ½ rounds to move the Tiger tanks forward and there was opposition left. But the price ha been high and the result had been bloody.

Tank graveyard

Tank graveyard

Aftermath

Aftermath

 

WWII Soviet snipers (Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge entry #1)

So now the time has come to show off my first entry into Curts Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. Well actually it is my second entry, but since the first entry is for the fortnight theme (which will only be push listed by Curt today) I am showing this as the first.

Now these are nothing special, just two Soviet snipers from Victory Force. These will augment the rest of my Russian infantry force. So far I have only had one sniper, but in scout uniform and I wanted snipers from the regular infantry.

Now when I painted the other infantry, I felt that the WWII soviets and their uniforms were extremely boring subject. So I simply blocked out the colours and gave them a brown wash. These were just painted to match.

Soviet Snipers

Soviet Snipers

Soviet Snipers

Soviet Snipers

Obviously only a very humble start, but I hope that the next one (French Hussars) will make up for it.

These gave me 8 points for my 1000 point target. Almost there! 😛

 

WWII Soviet Assault Engineers

WWII Soviet Assault Engineers

Earlier this year Warlord Games / Bolt Action Miniatures announced that they would be releasing some WWII Assault Engineers. I felt I needed them for various reason. Most of all since I wanted some minis to represent some crack Soviet units on my tabletop. The other reason that I actually have two scenarios that I want to play in due time that call for Assault Engineers. But I have to admit, that I ordered them with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I do not like to many of the Bolt Action minis that were released over the past two to three years (those not sculpted by Paul Hicks) since they have extremely cartoonish faces. It was a pleasant surprise when these arrived. While some of the faces were still exaggerated, other were not. And those that were, looked more Asian or Mongolian then cartoonish, which was fine by me.

Soviet Assault Engineers (Picture © Zvezda)

Soviet Assault Engineers (Picture © Zvezda)

To be honest, just saying that I was not disappointed by the faces like I had expected would not do these minis justice. IMHO these are the best minis from the Bolt Action line around and they proved to be a joy to paint. As I have said before, Soviet WWII uniforms leave me bored, so I did not put too much effort into the rest of them by just using washing techniques. From the moment I unpacked these, I felt they really deserved better, so they were painted in a classic way.

Soviet Assault Enigineers

Soviet Assault Enigineers

So let’s get started:

Soviet Assault Engineers (group shot)

Soviet Assault Engineers (group shot)

Soviet Assault Engineer (NCO)

Soviet Assault Engineer (NCO)

Soviet AssaultEngineer (DP LMG)

Soviet AssaultEngineer (DP LMG)

Soviet Assault Engineer (Flamethrower)

Soviet Assault Engineer (Flamethrower)

Now this mini with the flamethrower decided for me how to base the unit. I honestly would have loved to base them in an earth and grass style like I based my other Soviets, but he had some bricks and rubble between his feet. So I had to add some more to his base and all the others (which came with plain integral tabs). I usually do not like it when a company puts stuff like that on the tabs, forcing me mimic it with my basing, but in this case I think it added to the unit, so I am happy with it!

Soviet Assault Engineer (firing SMG)

Soviet Assault Engineer (firing SMG)

Soviet Assault Engineer (advancing)

Soviet Assault Engineer (advancing)

Soviet Assault Engineer (throwing grenade)

Soviet Assault Engineer (throwing grenade)

Soviet Assault Engineer (with Tellermine)

Soviet Assault Engineer (with Tellermine)

Soviet Assault Engineer (with Panzerfäuste)

Soviet Assault Engineer (with Panzerfäuste)

Soviet Assault Engineers (SG 43 MMG team)

Soviet Assault Engineers (SG 43 MMG team)

And to finish it all… another group shot:

Soviet Assault Engineers (group shot) 2

Soviet Assault Engineers (group shot) 2

But these were not the only Soviets recently finished… I also did a 120mm mortar team.  They were done with a simple washing technique though (again I am bored by the standard WWII Soviet uniforms). And I have to say I was slightly disappointed by these. Bolt Action put no new minis into this set, just recycling some of the artillery crews. To add a little variety I swapped the head of one of them with one I had left over from the Engineers. While these do not fit the Engineers in either quality or looks, I did not want to open a new post for them.

Soviet 120mm Mortar

Soviet 120mm Mortar

 

WW II Soviets (Part 3: boots on the ground)

WW II Soviets (Part 3: boots on the ground)

So this is the last instalment showcasing my Soviet forces. Let me start with a few words on them.

Now the paint jobs on these are pretty basic. I just blocked out the colours and washed them. Back when I painted them (roughly 4 years ago) there had been no big hype about the army painter, so I did it all with a homemade wash. One part dark brown paint, four to five parts water and one part PVA glue (I still use this to add shades to complex camo uniforms). So they are nothing special. On the other hand I painted these 160 minis (including the gun crews from two days ago) plus the tankers in just 1 1/2 weeks. Now on these photos you will see that they have a slight satin sheen to them. I honestly never cared too much about it, because they were only basic paint jobs. But when I was taking these photos I noticed slight paint chips on six of the minis. I repaired the damage and since I was varnishing today anyway varnished them right along. Now that they are matt they look far better since the contrast between the colours is stronger. So I just varnished the rest, too. Unfortunately the results can not be seen on these photos (since they were taken last weekend), but you will see it in the next game reports!

The minis shown here are all Victory Force (VFM), The Assault Group (TAG) and Bolt Action (BAM). All three ranges fit pretty well. Oddly enough the only scale creep is with the officers where TAG and some of the Bolt Action minis end up small and VFM large. What can I say about the ranges themselves?

Victory Force:

In general my favourite line for WWII. Researched to great detail, which also goes into the minis (for example you get the imprint on the belt buckles of German soldiers). The animation is good and anatomically correct. One of the great things about them is that some of the minis come with separate hands that allow you to give them all kinds of less usual equipment if you want. Their Soviets are one of the newer lines and lack heavier weapons like mortars or HMGs (although James Bland is working on the later right now), which is about the only drawback I can see.

The Assault Group:

Just like VFM they have only infantry. These were sculpted by Richard Ansell, so they are one of their better lines. The big drawback is the fact that you only have four different poses and the only variation is weapons or winter jackets. Back when I bought these they were cheap and allowed you to build a force quick and on a budged. Can not say if it is still that way, but I would not buy from them ever again anyway (I had to find that the owners lack even the most basic good manners and understanding of customer treatment, but that is another story).

Bolt Action:

Bolt Action or something of the opposite to the others. They have all kinds of heavy weapons and special troop types, but are a bit weak on the infantry (at least with the numbers needed for a Soviet force). Reading through the news from last month Salute, this should soon change soon with the addition of plastic Russians from Warlord Games (who now own BAM). The minis here were all sculpted by Paul Hicks when he still owned BAM and are his usual good quality, although some are his earlier works where I personally do not like all the faces.

What is still missing. One thing is snipers, but I intend to buy the pair from VFM once James finishes the Maxim and I can order them along. I finished the recently released Soviet Assault Pioneers from Warlord yesterday (guess what I varnished today) and there is still a 120mm mortar and some Naval Infantry to paint and I am good. So off to the photos:

Soviet officers

Soviet officers

These are my five officers and commissars. The one on the left is VFM, the one on the right TAG and those in the middle BAM. As I said you can see scale creep here, since the VFM one is larger than the rest of his Soviets, the TAG smaller. At least you usually do not need 5 officers on the table.

Soviet NCOs

Soviet NCOs

Left to right 2x VFM, 3x BAM

Soviet NCOs and Medic

Soviet NCOs and Medic

Far right VFM, the rest are BAM.

DP LMGs 1

DP LMGs 1

Left to right 3x TAG, 3x VFM

DP LMGs 2

DP LMGs 2

Left to right: 1x VFM, 4x TAG, 2x VFM, 1x TAG

Maxim HMGs

Maxim HMGs

All BAM. The team in the middle has been discontinued since it was way smaller than the rest of the range. I had to make the ammo belts longer. These sets were clearly meant for multi basing, but I prefer my skirmish minis based as singles. I would love it, if companies would make the belt longer for those who like to base their minis this way! Those who multibase them can cut them off in a second, while glueing a wire to the existing belt and sculpting one can take minutes (if you even have the experience).

Soviet Mortars

Soviet Mortars

Left to right: 1x BAM, 1x VFM, 3x BAM, 1x VFM, Tubes are BAM. I felt that the VFM minis would work well as mortar crews and the teams were a bit weak with just two crew for the 82mm mortar anyway. Thanks to the separate hands this was done in an instant.

PTRS-41 AT-Rifle

PTRS-41 AT-Rifle

BAM

Soviets with Mosin-Nagant M1930

Soviets with Mosin-Nagant M1930

A mix of VFM, TAG and BAM… no I am not going to list which minis are which! 😀

Soviets with PPsh 41

Soviets with PPsh 41

Again all three manufacturers, but I guess this shows how good they actually mix.

Soviets with PPS-43

Soviets with PPS-43

Mostly TAG. The two in the greatcoats are BAM, as is the one looking to his right and down on the left of the picture. No VFM here.

Soviets with Tokarev SVT 40

Soviets with Tokarev SVT 40

Only VFM and TAG here.

Soviet Scouts

Soviet Scouts

These are all BAM. I wanted something special for them since Soviet Scouts are usually depicted in Amoeba Patter camo suits. So I went for the 1941 summer camouflage pattern.

And this is it. I shall post photos of the few remaining minis once they are presentable!

 

WW II Soviets (Part 2: tanks, tanks and even more tanks)

WW II Soviets (Part 2: tanks, tanks and even more tanks)

After I realised, that this would be the 100th post on this blog (1st anniversary, 50.000 hits and 100th post all within 2 1/2 weeks) it was easy to decide what to post today. Something that is big, so it had to be tanks.

T-26

T-26

First up is a T-26. The model is a 1:56th scale from Chieftain (back when they still belonged to Crouchie) and is quiet heavy, being cast in all white metal. In reality it weighted around ten tons and was produced from 1931 till ´41. It saw use during the Spanish Civil War and with the Soviets till the end of the war. With over 12.000 (including all variants) vehicles produced it was the most successful design of the 1930´s.

T-70s

T-70s

These are my T-70s. All three are JFTM / Die Waffenkammer 1:56th scale models, as is the commander. The T-70 light tank was designed as a replacement for the T-60. The Soviets had no real love for light tanks, since they were usually no faster than the T-34, but weaker in armour and firepower. On the other hand there were still a number of factories that were too small to produce T-34s and with every tank needed to defend the motherland these were used for light tanks still. The T-70 was one of them and between 1942 and ´43 8.226 were produced. With its 45mm gun it could not hope to take out a Panther or Tiger or even a PzKw IV (from the front), but it was still a serious threat to the PzKw III and lighter vehicles.

SU-76s

SU-76s

SU-76 crew compartments

SU-76 crew compartments

Again these two are from JFTM / Die Waffenkammer, as are the crews. Design of the SU-76 began in November 1942, when the State Defense Committee ordered the construction of infantry support self-propelled guns armed with the ZiS-3 76.2mm gun. It used the basic T-70 chassis, which was lengthened by adding one road wheel per side, to facilitate better gun mounting.

Just like the early T-70 models the SU-76 utilized two automobile engines, one for each track. Apart from being complicated to drive, the strong vibrations led to early failures of engines and transmission units.  After producing 320 SU-76s, mass production was halted in order to fix the problems. This included the change over to th single engine now standard on the T-70, as well as the removal of the roof of the compartment (the first models were completely enclosed by armour). This final version was produced till shortly after the war when they were withdrawn from service, with a total of nearly 13.000 units (making it the second most common vehicle in the soviet arsenal after the T-34).

SU-76i

SU-76i

This model is a 1:48th scale Tamiya with an aftermarket conversion kit to turn it into a SU-76i. The production halt and redesign of the SU-76 was the reason for the introduction of the SU-76i. Tank destroyers of all types were in very short supply and with the SU-76 production halted and interim was needed. Approximately 200 PzKpfw IIIs and StuG IIIs were available to the Soviets, most having been captured during the German retreat from Stalingrad, and so it was decided to use these as the basis for a Soviet tank destroyer, the SU-76i.
The conversion from PzKpfw III to SU-76i began with the removal of the turret, and fighting compartment roof. A new, angular superstructure was welded in place and mounted the 76,2mm gun. The guns mostly came from KV-1, which were being rearmed with the 85mm cannon at about the same time. The chassis used were from the PzKw III Ausf. H and J, the majority being Ausf. J. Since it was incapable of indirect fire (unlike the SU-76), its gun was nearing the end of its effectiveness, spare parts were hard to get and the SU-76 production was up again, these vehicles only saw a short service life, with only a few if any at all still seeing use in 1944.

SU-85 and SU-122

SU-85 and SU-122

The SU-85 is a Bandai kit, the SU-122 a Tamiya, both 1:48th scale.

The SU-85 was a tank destroyer based on the T-34 chassis. Up until late 1942 the T-34/76 and KV-1s had been able to deal with any tank the Germans had in their arsenal. This changed with the introduction of the Tiger. To add to this there were rumors of the Panther as well and the Soviets felt they needed something bigger. This saw the creation of the SU-85 by mating a 85mm gun with a turret-less T-34 chassis. 2.050 units were built from mid-1943 to late 1944.

The SU-122 was meant to be used against installations or infantry formations. It mounted a 122mm howitzer, again on a T-34 chassis. While the gun only fired HE ammunition, it was still enough to punch through the armour on a PzKw III or IV. There are also reports the hits at very short-range were able to lift the turret of its ring on a Tiger or Panther, although they had no chance at long ranges. A total 1.150 were build between December 1942 and the summer of ´44.

KV-1 and KV-2

KV-1 and KV-2

Both of these models are 1:48th scale Tamiya models, the tanker is from Bolt Action.

When Germany invaded the Soviet Union both the KV-1 and KV-2 came as nasty surprises. The German high command had not expected the Soviets to have such heavy tanks and even more critical with such heavy armour. The 3,7cm and 5cm PaKs were unable to penetrate them, as were the short 7,5cm guns on the PzKw IV and StuG III, they heaviest tank mounted weapons the Germans had at that time. Often artillery in direct-fire mode or the notorious Acht-Achter Flak had to be brought up. Otherwise there are lots of tales of German Panzer trying to score immobilizing hits so that the infantry could crawl up and disable them explosives. Hardly a help for the Blitzkrieg.

The KV-1 weighted in at 45 tonnes, used the same 76mm gun as did the T-34 and saw service up till the end of the war (although later up-gunned to 85mm). Total of 5.219 units were produced.

The KV-2 was a monster at 53,1 tonnes. although its designation suggests otherwise, it is actually the older of the two. Only about 250 units were build. While it saw use till the end of the war, it is highly unlikely that any served in front line formations after production ceased. It was just too slow and offered an easy target with its big turret once the Germans had guns big enough to take it out. The 152mm howitzer took ages to reload and with the slow turret speed was useless against tanks. Even worse the weight of the turret was so big, that it was impossible to turn it when the tank was on anything but a mild slope. It had its good moments like on 23rd and 24th June 1941, when a single KV-2 of 2nd tank division held up the German 6th Panzer Division in southern Lithuania (near Rassaynjay town), but those were few.

KV-1 and SU-122 in winter whitewash

KV-1 and SU-122 in winter whitewash

Here are another KV-1 and SU-122 in winter whitewash, again Tamiya models. I removed the boards from the KV-1. I had found a wartime photo of one like this (apparently to prevent the mud from accumulating under them when the thaw began) and I felt it looked so cool it needed to be reproduced.

T-34/76 winter whitewash

T-34/76 winter whitewash

All three models are 1:48th scale Bandai models. I got all three quite cheap and decided to do them in a whitewash. They are usually expensive to get and are slightly smaller than the Tamiya and Hobby Boss offerings, so I decided I would not have tem on the table at the same time anyway.

T-34/76s

T-34/76s

All these are 1:48th scale models. Left Hobby Boss, middle Tamiya with after market armour (Leningrad factories) and right Tamiya. The crews are Bolt Action and converted Mongrel Miniatures.

T-34/76s (hexagonal turret)

T-34/76s (hexagonal turret)

Again all 1:48th scale, except for the one in the middle, which is a Tamiya with aftermarket parts and Bolt Action / Mongrel Miniatures crew, all are Hobby Boss.

T-34/76s (hybrid)

T-34/76s (hybrid)

These two are 1:48th scale Hobby Boss T-34/85s with Tamiya T-34/76 turrets. Thess bring me up to a total of ten T-34/76 if needed!

Just like the KV series tanks, the T-34 was a nasty surprise for the Germans in the summer of 1941. They were expecting an inferior enemy with inferior tanks, but found that the Soviets had a huge number of T-34s as well. While their armour was not as strong as the KVs, the fact that it was sloped set that off. So again the Acht-Achter or artillery was needed to destroy them. Against popular believe the Russians had quiet a number of them when the Germans attacked. What actually happened to these is a bit shrouded in mystery. Soviet reports state rapidly decreasing numbers, while German reports indicate few encounters with them. Which must mean that a lot of them were non-combat losses. By the time this reliability problem had been solved in 1942, the Germans had more weapons that were able to take them out though.

None the less the T-34 was a great tank. Cheap and easy to build and maintain, good speed, high cross-country performance even when the muddy season began. It began the war with a 76,2 mm cannon and was later up-gunned to a 85mm. Its armour remained en-par with the PzKw IV or Sherman, and only paled in comparison to the Panther and Tiger. It had hardly any creature comforts for the crew, but proved so effective that 84.070 units were produced until production ceased in 1958. But a good number of them are still in use. The North Koreans actually had a number of regiments armed with them at th turn of the millennium and probably do so today (although most likely the 85mm version).

T-34/85s

T-34/85s

These three T-34/85s are Hobby Boss 1:48th scale models with Bolt Action / Mongrel Miniatures crew. You already saw two of them in the previous photo. I guess I might have to get myself a few more later.

JS-2s

JS-2s

And last two 1:48th scale JS-2s from Hobby Master with a JFTM / Die Waffenkammer commander. The one on the right was repainted.

The Josef Stalin tank , was a heavy tank designed with thick armour to counter the German 88 mm guns, and carried a main gun that was capable of defeating the German Tiger and Panther tanks. The JS-2 was put into service in April 1944, and was used as a spearhead in the Battle of Berlin in its intended role of breakthrough tank, firing a heavy high-explosive shell that was useful against entrenchments and bunkers. But its massive 122mm main gun was also more than capable of taking out the mighty Tiger II. A total of 3.854 units were produced and used till 1995 (although I suspect North Korea still uses hers).

And this is it… my Soviet armour. just to give you a parting shot… here they are all together. And no this is not 15mm FOW, this really is 28mm!!!

Soviet Armour

Soviet Armour

(I have uploaded a high quality picture here, so it well worth clicking onto it!)

 

P.S.: I managed to set up the “Categories” listing the way I wanted it after all, so feel free to browse a little through the older entries.

 

WW II Soviets (Part 1: guns and soft skins)

WW II Soviets (Part 1: guns and soft skins)

After all the Kursk AAR´s last week I wanted to give you an overview of the WWII Soviets I actually have. Lets start today with guns big and small and the soft skinned vehicles.

M1937 45mm AT gun with Komsomolets tractor

M1937 45mm AT gun with Komsomolets tractor

This is a M1937 45mm anti tank gun with crew and Komsomolets tractor. All the models are from Bolt Action. The gun itself was developed in 1937 (hence the name) based on the German 37mm under a license bought from Rheinmetal, only with a larger calibre. Not that it was much more effective against armour then it´s German counterpart and was replaced in 1942 with a longer barreled version (which again ceased being effective only one year later).

The T 20 “Komsomolets” tractor was designed to tow light artillery pieces such as this 45mm anti-tank gun and the 120mm heavy mortar. It could tow the weapons themselves plus a small quantity of ammunition (in a limber that is unfortunately not supplied with the Bolt Action model) and up to six crewmen. The fully armored forward compartment provided space for the driver and vehicle commander and had a ball-mounted DT machinegun. The rear compartment held the gun crews, seated back-to-back in outward-facing bench seats.

ZIS-2 Field Guns

ZIS-3 Field Guns

These are three ZIS-3 guns. Again the guns and crews are Bolt Action. I hope one can tell from these pictures (all pictures are thumbnailed to larger versions btw.), but the one on the left has a winter whitewash. I actually have a fourth gun, but that will be pressed in German service.

The ZIS-3 was a combination of a 76,2mm gun and the carriage from the ZIS-2. While it was constructed in 1940, it had not entered service by the beginning of Operation Barbarossa (the German invasion of the Soviet Union). Germany had fooled Soviet intelligence into thinking that its tanks had armour strong enough to withstand 76mm rounds, so the Soviet had no interest in these types of guns and the developer hid the prototype from officials. When the Soviets found out, that even lighter guns were able to dispatch the German tanks in use in 1941 this changed and in the end over 103.000 were produced.

The Germans called it “Ratsch-Bumm” (“Crash-Boom”). Due to th high velocity of the round the report and the sound of the projectile hitting were almost simultaneous, which led to the term.

Is this big enough for your taste? No? Well here we go:

M1931 122mm Field Gun

M1937 152mm howitzer

The model itself is a 1:48th scale Gaso.Line model with a Bolt Action crew. Nearly 7000 M1937 152mm howitzers were build and served till the end of the war. The gun itself also saw use on the SU-152 and ISU-152 assault guns as well.

GAZ 67B

GAZ 67B

These are two GAZ 76B. They are Schuco die-casts straight from the box and only weathered with dust and mud.

GAZ AA

GAZ AA

And last but not least two 1:48th scale GAZ AA. These are UM-Models and were quiet horrible to build. Very brittle plastic and lots of flimsy parts. Surprising enough, they are quiet robust once assembled and stand up to the rigors of gameplay. Tomorrow shall either be the tanks or infantry (I have not decided yet).

Before I get I leave a few short words. Today I wanted to make the “Categories” listing of this blog easier to navigate. Why… well I was hardly using subcategories. Which had the ugly effect that if yo clicked on “Russians” for example, you would get anything from Napoleonic to modern minis and entries. Unfortunately, somewhere along the process I found that things were not working out as planned. In the end it cost me nearly two hours to fix it and I have even created more categories in the process. I shall contact the good people at WordPress to see if there is a software that actually allows me to display them as wanted. So in the end all my good intentions led to nothing. But you know the saying… “The road to hell is paved with the good intentions of honest men.” So at least I am in good company! 😉

 

Großdeutschland at Kursk Games 1 to 4

Großdeutschland at Kursk Games 1 to 4

As promised, today I am migrating the first four games from our Grossdeutschland at Kursk campaign to this blog as well. The first was played in April 2009 (about three years ago… we are really taking too long with this!), number 4 a little over one year ago.

I hope there are no major problems with the text! We had to migrate the server for our homepage to a new software twice and at times this created havoc with the text, and I am not sure if none of these mistakes made the move to this blog. If they did… well I hope you enjoy it anyway;-):

Game 1, Prelude

The first game is taking place on the eve of the battle of Kursk. The German player has to capture or destroy a Soviet observation post and, if possible, exit the Russian side of the board with a certain amount of troops for a decisive victory. The Soviet player has to prevent this.

The Terrain is relatively open. On the right hand side of the German deployment zone there is a lightly wooded hill. On the left side of the table, as well as in the middle of it there is another light wood each. In addition there is a ravine running the left hand side of the table. The Russian player can set up in fixed positions and foxholes. And he has some barbed wire to place (I did not get this done in time, so we used barbed wire fencing instead).

The German player had an Infantry Platoon HQ, two infantry squads (with two MG-42 each) at his disposition. In addition there was also a tri-pod mounted MG-42 team.

The Russian player had an observer team (setting up inside the OP), one rifle squad and a Maxim Team. In addition he received an AT-Rifle team. There were no tanks present, but its range and punch could still hurt the infantry.

The Russian player deployed his troops in a line spanning the whole of the table. The Maxim was deployed on his right flank covering the ravine, the LMG in the centre and the AT-Rifle on his left flank.

I decided  to concentrate my troops on my right flank. Here I was hoping to receive some cover from the hill and woods for the beginning of my advance, I could concentrate my force on one spot and my MG´s (two from the Infantry Squads and the Tri-pod mounted one) would be able to keep the Russian positions at bay from atop the hill. At least that was the plan?

But there is this saying… no plan survives the first contact with the enemy. And that was the case here as well. One of the infantry machine gunners was dead, before he could even open fire. The same held true for the assistant on the other MG team, the Schütze who wanted to take his place and the NCO accompanying them. Another infantryman was so shocked by this that he was too shaken to fight on for the rest of the game. And then the Maxim and LMG opened up. While doing little physical damage, they certainly did not help German morale. At last the remaining MG-42, even if it had to fire without a feeder, and the tri-pod mounted MG-42 opened up and forced the Russian heavy weapons to cease fire. While the MG-42 on tri-pod slowly decimated the Maxim position, the remaining MG-42 fell victim to the Russian Riflemen. Now the assistant from the other MG seemed to get quite angry due to the death of his mates and started picking off the Russian infantry on the left flank, something he managed to complete until the end of the game with a little help from another Schütze. The MG-42 HMG kept the Russian positions at bay until the end of the game.

Things did not go any better on the other flank either. Right at the start one of the NCO´s fell victim to the AT-Rifle and the Russian infantry were taking a steady toll on the advancing Germans. And most of the deadly shots found the NCO´s. The two MG-42´s on that flank gave covering fire to their advancing comrades, taking on the OP and the foxhole with the AT-Rifle in the process. The AT-Rifle was quickly dispatched, same held true for a lot of Russian soldiers. The infantry started leapfrogging forward, all the while taking heavy losses from the few remaining Soviets. They also came under flanking fire from the LMG until it was in turn dispatched by the MG-42´s. In the end only one Russian remained, but he managed to severely wound the German Officer and kill one NCO? I guess this happens if you lead from the front.

With the last defender dead, the Germans blew up the OP and moved on (with the exact minimum required for a decisive victory, which certainly did not feel like one).
The Germans suffered 19 losses (KIA & WIA) with 10 men surviving, the Russians 21 losses (KIA and WIA) with no survivors.

After this scenario the score is 26 Victory Points and 6 Attachment Point for the Germans versus 19 Victory Points for the Russians.
(The Germans did not spend any AP´s to change the variable attachments for the next game.)

Game 2, Gertsovka Station

The second game took place on the 4th of July 1943 as well. And again the terrain was quite open. There were two hills on the German side of the table, one of them wooded. There were three other woods. One in the soviet deployment zone, one (from the German POV) slightly off left from the middle of the table and one on the right flank. The most striking feature was a small river dividing the table from left to right, which was spanned by a wooden bridge.  There were two wooden houses in the soviet deployment zone. Just like before the Russian player would set up dug in. Plus he had barbed wire defences at his disposal.

The German player could make use of 3 infantry squads with one MG42 each and mounted on trucks. One of them would only arrive on turn 4, due to me having rolled a 4 on a D4 when checking for their arrival. In addition there was an infantry command group mounted on an unarmoured halftrack.

The Russian player had an infantry platoon command (great name for two men), a rifle squad with one LMG, an anti-tank-rifle team and a radio team at his disposal.

The Soviets had to either hold both buildings or to take and defend the woods on the right flank with at least ten men. Fulfilling both would be a decisive victory. The Germans had to prevent the Soviets from achieving either.

The majority of the Russians set up in either foxholes or the buildings. 12 men set up behind the building on the right to take the woods once the game began.

With the exception of the command group all the Germans began dismounted and along their table edge. The group inside the halftrack was meant to make a fast advance on the left and cross the river, while being covered by the remaining infantry. Since the Lieutenant wanted to retain direct command over the majority of his men, one of the riflemen took his place in the halftrack, while he stayed behind.

The Germans took a systematic start to the game. The two machine guns took positions on the hill taking the soviet positions under fire, while their comrades slowly advanced. On the Russian side part of their infantry took a dash from the houses to take the woods that were part of their victory conditions. This proved to be a very bad decision, since it put them right into the field of fire of one of the German MG´s and they took heavy losses. But for this MG it was not a walk in the park either. It gunner was quickly killed by the Russian LMG emplaced inside one of the buildings. This resulted in the second MG taking the house under fire. The Russian LMG gunner took cover. Meanwhile one of the infantrymen took the position of the dead gunner and recommenced fire on the advancing Russians. But this is not where the story ended. The Russian LMG started firing again despite the incoming fire and killed the replacement machine gunner. And then it started all over again. The Soviet LMG was forced to take cover, only to come back up again shortly after another trooper had taken over the first German MG to kill him. Just when we were afraid that this might go on forever, the second German MG killed the Soviet LMG gunner. The Russian infantry had stopped its advance to the woods… there were simply not enough men left to fulfil the victory conditions. Since the Soviet player had no chance left to achieve a decisive victory, he decided to concentrate completely on defending the buildings.

What had happened on the other flank in the meantime? At first the halftrack had been able to advance without being molested. Once it had crossed the creek, the defenders realised, what was coming at them and commenced firing. The infantry weapons failed to do much damage and the vehicles kept advancing towards the Russian foxholes until the AT-rifle scored a hit in the engine block, setting it on fire. Two soldiers were unable to get out of the burning halftrack in time. The rest of the squad went into position around the burning wreck, trying to expel their opponents from the foxholes using hand grenades. The Russians defended themselves in turn. But both sides only had limited success. The Russians simply lacked the range and they Germans, even though using stick grenades, did not throw well enough. When the Germans had lost two men, but the Soviets only one in this exchange, the German NCO charged through the Russian crossfire, firing his SMG from his hip and cleaned the foxholes.

This virtually broke the Russian resistance. So the Infantry began mounting their trucks to advance on the Soviet position. At the same time the 3rd rifle group finally entered the table. Driving their truck at top speed, they drove up to the bridge, taking it. Together with the remaining soldiers from the halftrack they cleared the buildings, thereby securing the German victory in this scenario.

All in all the German player secured 27 victory points and 2 attachment points for himself, the Russian player got 12 victory points. Just like he had done before, the German player chose not to use any AP´s to change his troop attachments for the next scenario.

Game 3, Pioneers Forward!

The next game depicted the 5th of July. The Germans had to make the most of their previous victories and break through the Russian minefields.

The table (again from the German POV) was flat, except for a hill on the right flank. It was cut left to right by a small river. There was a road running diagonally from the top to the bottom of the table, which crossed the river via a stone bridge. There were a few small woods around the table edges. As before the Soviet player was to set up in fixed positions. His deployment zone was slightly more than half the table. He was also allowed to place tons of barbed wire, a large (hidden) minebelt as well as two small minefields here. The Germans only had a small strip to set up on their table edge.

Battlefield from the German side

Battlefield from the German side

The defenders had to make do with a small force. There was a command squad consisting of a Lieutenant and two soldiers. In addition there was a 9 men rifle squad, with only one LMG, and an AT-rifle squad comprised by an NCO, two soldiers and the AT gunner.

Battlefield seen from the Soviet side

Battlefield seen from the Soviet side

The Germans had a lot more and consisted of highly trained Pioniere. They had a Platoon HQ Squad consisting of a Lieutenant, a Sergeant, two Pioniere and a Kübelwagen. There were two Pionier Squads with two NCO´s, 9 Pioniere (one with a mine detector) and a machine gunner each. They were accompanied by a forward observer who was to co-ordinate their mortar support.

Their mission was simply to clear a path through the minebelt. The Russians had to prevent this. Simple enough? is it not? Well the biggest enemy for the Germans was time. The game would last a maximum of ten turns. This would be just enough time to sprint to the far side of the table and only if there was no stream and no barbed wire and no enemy to fire at you. And the Germans had no idea where the minebelt was. If the Russians had decided to place them at the very end of the table there would be no time to clear it.

After the Russians had set up things looked even worse. Since they could not be dug in on the stone bridge, one could see that the two small minefields had been deployed there. A quick crossing of the stream was impossible now. The barbed wire ran in one long line across the table on the German side of the river, while the Soviets were all sitting in trenches on the far side. So they could fire at the Germans while they had to deal with both the river and the wire.

Playing the Germans I decided to take a gamble. I assumed, that the minebelt would either be right infront of the barbed wire line, or between it and the river. That way I would be occupied to the maximum, while the Russians could pour their fire into me. So the Pioniere were to sprint until they had almost reached the barbed wire and were only to start looking for mines there. If my assumption was wrong? well then they would find the mines the hard way. Anyway… the two MG´s would stay behind with the officer to give covering fire, while the mortars would fire on the Russian main position.

Spotter

Spotter

But as the saying goes… no plan survives contact with the enemy. The Soviet fire was murderous right from the start. To have at least some cover, the Pioniere started their advance behind the hill, but once they were on top of it, the first three were KIA. The German MG fire caused minimal damage on the other side and the mortars fell short and continuously landed in the river. When the first Pionier with a minedetector had almost reached the wire more of his comrades had fallen and he started his search? finding nothing. I must have been wrong. One of his colleagues went forward to cut the wire and stepped on a mine.

Into the minefield

Into the minefield

Another search showed that the minebelt was here indeed, but that the detector had failed to find it. Now the first three Pioniere started clearing a path under constant fire. Since the other Pioniere could do little to help them they started firing at the Russians and with great success. Their losses still mounted, but when more and more Soviets fell, the pressure on the Germans eased. One man caused another mine to explode while clearing it, but then the path was cleared.

At the wire

At the wire

When the Pioniere closed on the bridge the 3 Russians still alive capitulated.

Capitulation

Capitulation

All in all the German player secured 26 victory points and 2 attachment points for himself, the Russian player got 20 victory points due to the high losses he had caused.

Game 4, Hill 247

The fourth game was the first from the second campaign and depicted events from the 6th of July. It was also the first game in the book that pitted armoured forces against one another. It re-enacted the German attack on Hill 247 which was only taken after 8 attempts in real life.

Except for the target hill on the Russian edge the terrain was flat. There were a few light woods in the German deployment zone, on the right flank and in the left Russian corner. In the middle of the table were two large corn fields, where the ground was very soft. Behind the right one was a large stone pile and there was a barn behind the left field.

The table from the German side

The table from the German side

The Russians had a Command Squad with a Lieutenant and a soldier, a Rifle Section with an NCO, 7 soldiers and a LMG gunner, as well an artillery spotter at their disposal. In addition there was a 45mm AT gun with crew, as well as two T-34/76´s, all of them dug in and camouflaged. Except for the Rifle Section which deployed behind the stone pile everyone else dug in on the hill. Oh and there were two hidden minefields as well.

Russian position

Russian position

All the German troops were motorized. There was the Panzergrenadier Platoon HQ mounted on a SdKfz 251/10 consisting of a Lieutenant, a Sergeant, three Grenadieren and two gunners for the 37mm gun. There was also a Grenadiergroup inside a SdKfz 251/1 which featured two NCO´s, four Grenadiere and two MG-42 teams. In addition there was a 8cm mortar on a SdKfz 251/2 with a spotter team, two StuG IIIF, two Marder III SP (one represented by a Marder II) guns and two SdKfz 234 scout cars.

The Germans had to expel the Russians from the hill, they had to prevent this. For a decisive victory the Germans were not allowed to lose more than two vehicles, while the Russians had to destroy 5 or more for a decisive victory of their own.

Due to their weak armour the 251´s became a real risk for a German victory, So all 3 of them stayed hidden behind one of the woods in the German deployment zone. The Grenadiers were to wait here until the T-34´s had been dispatched, while the mortar would fire at the Soviet positions with the aid of its spotters inside the woods. The remaining vehicles would advance over the flanks. The scout cars would bring up the flanks, with the Sturmgeschütze next and the Marder in the middle. The scouts were in danger too since they too were only lightly armoured, but they were supposed to use their high-speed in their defence. Plus? they had to advance fast to spot the T-34´s in case the SP guns failed to do so and if push came to shove they had to attack the from behind with their autocannons. The Marder too had to stay on the move, since their armour was inadequate, too.

StUG III

StUG III

So the Germans started their advance, while the crews tried to spot the Russian tanks with limited success. The Soviet infantry stayed calm. Just as the scout car on the left pushed through a minefield that had been hidden between the field and the table edge without taking major damage it spotted one of the T-34´s. but before it could radio on its findings, both tanks shot at one of the Marder without scoring a hit, but giving their positions off anyway. Now all German guns stopped and fired at the tanks. But they either missed or the shots got stuck in the earth in front of the dug in tanks. At this very moment the Russian AT gun fired at the left scout car setting it on fire. Just the rear driver got out in time and managed to save himself. At once one of the Marder reloaded and scored a direct hit on the AT position.

Gun position

Gun position

Burning Spähwagen

Burning Spähwagen

What followed showed the big weakness of the early T-34´s. Since the commander had to handle the gun and command his crew he could do neither very effectively. Before they had reloaded, the Germans were always on the move again and the Russians missed their moving targets. So this turned into a game of cat and mouse. The Russians shot at the moving Germans and missed. They in turn stopped to fire but only hit the earthen positions most of the time and were back on the move before the Soviets returned their fire.

Then three things happened almost at once. One of the Marder got stuck in the soft ground of the fields. While the driver tried his best to get it unstuck, the crew saw one of the T-34´s taking aim. They quickly reloaded, fired and hit the turret. The shot pierced the armour, set of the ammo stored there and the tank exploded.

Marder II

Marder II

The second T-34 tried to take revenge but narrowly missed the stuck Marder. Shortly after it got itself free and moved on.  Now the Russian Infantry opened fire on the remaining scout car. The rifles could not do any damage, but the LMG pierced the turret, destroying the 20mm gun and killing the gunner. The driver decided to take revenge and speeded towards the soldiers behind the stone pile. Five could not evade and were run over. While the scout car turned to run over the foxholes on the hill the rear driver moved into the turret and manned the MG.

Run over

Run over

Just at that moment one of the Sturmgeschütze hit the remaining T-34 and set it on fire. Now the Panzergrenadiere moved off to clear the hill and the SP guns switched to HE ammo. The very first shot from one of the Marder hit the foxhole with the spotter, who was still trying in vain to call in an artillery strike. The other trenches were hit in quick succession and the Russian position was completely annihilated.

All in all the game went surprisingly fast and did not even last three complete turns. Too fast for the German mortar, which was still ranging in at that time. Just as surprising the Germans only lost one scout car and only 4 crew between both scout cars.

SdKfz 251s

SdKfz 251s

The German player got 31 victory points and 6 attachment points for himself, the Russian player only got 5 victory points. While the German player only rolled a poor attachment for the next game (two Panzerkampfwagen III), he chose not to use any AP´s since they would not have changed the result.