Saturday, 30 January 2016

Delaying Action

Time for another trip back to 1981 and World War Three on the Central Front. Readers with long memories may recall The Soviet airlanding at Hameln and the heroic Bundeswehr counterattack at Wolfenbuttel,  but todays action concerns the long suffering 4th Armoured Div and their desperate attempts to slow up 3rd Shock Army while the rest of BAOR moves into position east of the Weser.

Two of 3rd Shock Armies tank divisions have forced the Mittelland canal and bypassed Braunchsweig, and are heading full tilt towards Hanover. The 4th AD screening forces have turned to try and hold them up behind a small stream northeast of Peine.

The game was played with my 2mm toys on hexon terrain, using Tims 'NATO Brigade Commander'. Tim G and Jerry E took the Soviets, while John A and Tim C took the plucky British.

General scheme as follows:

General Briefing
NATO is beginning to recover from the surprise of the rapid Warpac attack this morning, however although 10GTD is stalled in the north, 12GTD and 47GTD forced their way across the Mitelland Canal this morning. British covering forces attempt to stem the onrushing tide of Soviet armour across the north German plain. To the southeast, 2nd PGD has been counterattacking towards Braunchsweig, but 20th Guards Army is now entering the battle area.
British briefing
4th AD is operating in advance of the rest of the BAOR, the enemy has forced the canal and TF Hotel is now spread thinly trying to slow two enemy tank divisions with three battlegroups. All the divisional reserves have been committed and Army air mobile troops are being deployed. We need to buy time for the rest of BOAR to occupy the defences in front of Hanover. The Battlegroup has fallen back hastily to a prepared position west of the NS stream.

Slow the enemy advance as much as possible but avoid encirclement and escape to fight another day (4th AD will eventually be withdrawn behind the MLR to form the BAOR reserve).

Warpac briefing
The division forced the Mittelland canal this morning but was forced to commit its 2nd echelon. The division is now advancing on a two regiment front, with each TR preceded by a forward detachment to bypass and probe forward through gaps in the enemy position. The 2nd echelon has been broken up to generate these forces.Div Recce report that the enemy have fallen back well beyond (2km at least) the stream and at best will be conducting a hasty defence.

Push west as fast as possible. Bypass enemy blocking forces if possible and only destroy them if they cannot be bypassed. This axis has been designated as Main Effort, so Divisional and Army artillery will support your attack as will Army air assets.

The battlefield from the north. Peine is in the top right corner and 3rd SA are approaching from the left. The Autobahn is the grey road, the rest are secondary.

The Soviet staff, a certain degree of planning had already taken place, including the massive preparatory bombardment. Jerry commanded the Forward Detachment and Tim had a reinforced Cat I Tank Regiment with T-64s.

The British commanders. With only a weak battlegroup to hold up the Russian juggernaut, they were realistic about their prospects, although a heliborne combat team was also en route to support them.

The attack is well underway. The main British defence line was centred on the wooded hills which had already been prepared for defence. Engineers had demolished all the bridges and the Russian bombardment had thoroughly smashed up all the road junctions, so this bit of Germany was looking a bit tatty! Milan teams on the near hill and Chieftans on the far hill have knocked out several T-64s, but a mass of Russians supported by Hinds have closed in one the Chieftans.

 The killing zone around the marshes in the centre.

The defence bravely attempted to leapfrog backwards, but the weight of supporting firepower and speed of the Russian advance overwhelmed them. Under crushing air and artillery attack, both the infantry and Chieftan combat teams became disorganised and streamed to the rear while Russian columns piled down the roads leading west. At this point two Russian tank battalions have exited the west table edge and the British are in full retreat.

The British actually put up a pretty good effort, inflicting a 3:1 loss ratio and escaping with their force largely intact, although the poor old TA infantry were left trying to pick their way on foot back through half the Russian army. The Russians managed an extremely rapid assault however, advancing over 12km in less than an hour and half and being well on the way to pre-empting the deployment of 2nd AD in front of Hanover.

It was good to get back to WW3 after a long break, and we are finally well into afternoon of the first day. I've got a bunch more scenarios lined up, and hopefully now the covering force actions have largely been concluded, NATO won't have to spend quite so much time as a punchbag. The German counterattack towards Braunschweig has some interesting possibilities, and BAOR really should do something about all those VDV paras sitting in their rear areas. 


  1. Great stuff.

    Didn't realise that all of your WW3 games are linked. Is it a formal campaign or something less structured?



  2. Great game. What are the rules you are using, if you don't mind my asking?


  3. The rules are NATO Brigade Commander by Tim Gow (and some additions be me).

    Yes, the game scenarios are all linked, I'm using SPIs 'BAOR' to keep track of the operational situation including the accumulation of friction points by the engaged formations. The boardgame scenario postulates a 'standing start' attack, hence the rather odd order of leading with 3rd Shock Army rather than the Combined Arms armies.

  4. Do you use Vassel or have you got the old game game laid out permamently?



  5. No, I drew a sketch map based on the original map and just scribble unit symbols, arrows and times on it. I only need to keep rough track of where stuff is, and I have a roster of formation effectiveness. I try and pick 'interesting' potential engagements based on the overall situation.