Sunday, 11 May 2014

Holding back the tide

This was the fourth scenario in our ongoing 'Red Guards at Kursk' campaign. Previous games had seen the Soviets overrun the German infantry defences and push 5th Tank Corps through the German reserve lines and  into the operational depths. In this scenario the German operational reserve (5th Panzer Division) moves to stop the Russians.

In this game the Germans had a battalion sized Kampfgruppe with two companies each of Panzer IVs and armoured panzergrenadiers supported by a battery of 105s. The Russians had the armoured elements of a tank brigade; three tank battalions but only a single company of infantry (SMG armed tank riders). Their mission was to establish a bridgehead over the marshy stream which bisected the battlefield.

Tim and Kayte took the Germans, John and Jerry the Sovs.

Kampfgruppe von Gow moves into position. The Oberst himself is visible in the foreground.

24th Tank brigade pours on, shielded by the terrain.

T70 battalion in the lead, trying for a wide outflanking manouvre.

One T34 battalion plus the brigade artillery battery occupy the hill to provide cover while the other T34s follow the T70s.

The Germans take up position in the hills, fields and woods.

First blood to the Germans, artillery fire hits the hill and a T34 is knocked out by the Mark IVs.

The T70s cross the stream, despite two of their number temporarily bogging down. The woods cover them from view.

They interpret their orders to establish a bridghead as 'charge the Germans at top speed'. Oh dear.

The T34s follow.

Somewhat inevitably the fields are now littered with burning and disabled T70s.

One of the following T34s is also knocked out.

Some T34s make it across the stream as the T70s contnue to suffer heavy fire.

The environment is so target rich that even this Stummel gets a chance to pop away with its short 75mm gun.

The German fire drives back or destroys the T34s across the river.

Having lost two thirds of their tanks, the Russians concede.
Well, that was fairly short and sharp! All the Russians needed to do was establish a bridgehead over the river, which they could have achieved by sneaking through the woods nearest the camera and then waiting for the Germans to come to them, but they got a bit carried away...They were also a little unfortunate with their return fire which pinned but failed to knock out any of the German tanks.

That section of the campaign is now over, and the Germans destroyed enough tanks to pull out an overall campaign victory for this section, despite being flattened in the previous three battles. Historically 5th Panzer Div halted a number of Soviet attacks, and the Russians paused to draw breath and then resume the offensive, which is where we'll pick it up again in the future.

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