Friday 10 December 2021

Leshnov 1941

 Having painted a load of 1941 Soviet AFVs during lockdown, I was casting around for a game in which I could use them. One of Andrew Rolphs WW2 Eastern Front scenarios featured a counterttack by 12th Tank Division near the village of Leshnov, which looked promising. I did a bit of research and discovered 12th Tank was part of 8th Mech Corps, which included 15th and 34th Tank Divs with a wild mix of vehicles including T28s and a single regiment of T35s. Result!

I scaled Andrews scenario up somewhat to field all three tank divisions of 8th Mech Corps, albeit at roughly 25% strength due to vehicle attrition. The Germans were also scaled up proportionately, going from two battalions to six and it gave me an excuse to field the entire 33rd Panzer Regiment from 11th Panzer Div.

In the real battle the Russians attacked into gaping gap between 11th Panzer and 57th Infantry Div who were struggling to keep up, initially crashing into a single battalion of the 57th. This mapped quite nicely onto the 'Escape' One Hour Wargames scenario and I fixed the OBs in line with the historical force compositions. I ended up giving the Russians and extra combat unit as the Germans had some offtable artillery and I fiddled around with combat dice and SPs until both sides were roughly equal. Rating the Russian tank regiments and green and the panzer battalions as veteran evened up the hits, and various units were rated as 'heavy' to even out the combat dice. The Luftwaffe was busy bombing the Soviet rear areas and suppressing their airforce, so the Germans only got  one airstrike on table, and I gave the Russians a single preparatory bombardment against the dug in Germans on table.

Battlefield from the west, Petes battalion from 57th ID can been seen defending Leshnov. The woods are impassable to vehicles, forming a bottleneck.

German reinforcements! Johns recce and motorcycle battalions in the lead, followed by Tims 33rd Panzer Regt. Petes final battalion from the 57th is in the rear.

8th Mechanised Corps in march order. Each tank regiment represents 80-100 runners, and the infantry regiments are three (very) weak battalions on foot.

Simon in the lead with 12th Tank Division, equipped with  mix of T26s and T34s. I added the HQ figures for a bit of personality.

Jerrys 15th Tank Division, with T28s and T26s. 

And finally Russells mighty 34th Tank Division, with a light regiment of BT-7s and a medium regiment with T34s, KVs and the one and only battalion of T35s. What a monster.

The Luftwaffe is busy bombing the Russian approach routes and assembly areas, stripping them of much of their transport and artillery.

The action opened with a bombardment of Leshnov by Soviet Corps artillery, which was completely ineffective.

12th Tank Division arrived first (as it did historically), followed by the leading elements of 15th Tank Div. Simon was overall CO, representing Colonel General Kirponos and had determined that these two divisions would deploy and advance in line abreast. 

34th Tank Division formed the second wave, tasked with fending off any flank attacks and plugging gaps.  

The Soviet assembly area was getting quite crowded! Gen Kirponos HQ can be seen in the corn field in the distance.

While the Russians sorted themselves out, Johns fast recce group (231 Recce Bn and 61st Motorcycle Bn) rolled up on the Russian flank. Ooer. 

The armoured cars harrassed the Russians and took light losses while the motorcycle troops pushed forwards cautiously in the face of the mass of Soviet armour.

The engaged the BT regiment, but neither side inflicted any losses. Too busy driving around at top speed I expect.

The Russian armoured juggernaut rolled northwards.

34th Tank Div moved to block the German recce units.

While the 12th and 15th closed in on Leshnov. The defenders were looking a bit lonely.

As they moved into range the defenders opened fire with fairly devastating results. Ouch. Those 88s really hurt, and they were supported by artillery too.

At this point, 33rd Panzer Regiment rolled on from the east. General Creuwells command bus can be seen in the distance (he commanded 11th Panzer before being transferred to command DAK).

The BTs and T35s raced off to face the new armoured threat, and Johns recce troops pummelled the 34th motorised rifle regiment as they fell back to the cornfields. 

Over in the east the tanks faced off across the fields.

John looked on from his HQ on Hill 114.

12th Tank Div bypassed the village while 15th Tank Div lined up for a frontal assault. Jerry was handicapped as his tanks couldn't move through the woods to their right. The might have been better to put the infantry on the right to outflank the village, but too late now. 15th Tank Regt was now disorganised and one hit from destruction, but the assault also managed to disorganise the defenders.

34th Motorised Rifle regiment was enveloped and destroyed from all sides.

The tank battle wasn't really going the Germans way, I/33rd Panzer took heavy losses, but the heavy armour of the mass of KVs and T34s kept the Russian losses low.

Time to call up the Lufwaffe. Bombs and artillery shells crashed into the Soviet tanks. Ouch.

Meanwhile the panzers shot up the rather weaker BTs.

Meanwhile 231st recce was riding to the rescue of Leshnov as 12th Motorised Rifle Regt assaulted the village from the flank. 

II/57th had now arrived to reinforce the defenders, but found itself confronted by an entire Soviet tank regiment from 12th Tank Div. Good job it had brought along an AT company.

The village was under attack from all sides and the defence was wavering. The Russians had got a bit stuck here as their tanks were hemmed in by the woods, and their infantry was now all engaged in melee in the village. They could have just driven around it...

The German infantry on the road were appallingly unlucky and failed to inflict any damage on the Soviet tanks with defensive fire, who proceeded to overrun them, causing heavy losses but they still hung on.

The tank battle continued to rage in the southeast. The Luftwaffe air strike had managed to inflict enough damage to disorganise the medium tank regiment, which was hugely helpful for the Germans.

Johns recce units roared off to harrass the Russians in the north.

The fighting was very heavy, almost all the units involved were now below half strength and disorganised, although 12th Tank Regt was as yet unscathed.

The battered Soviet infantry finally overcame the defences, the intervention of 12th Motor Rifle Regiment with their Katyushas in close support was decisive. 

Russell now disengaged the 34th Light Tank Regiment and they roared northwards through the wheat fields to join the breakthrough.

The panzers were freed up to outflank the 34th Medium Tank Regt. 1st Bn pinned them frontally while 2nd Bn swung to the south.

Meanwhile Jerry had disengaged his tanks from the village fight, only to find a swarm of German motorcyclists on their flank. Jerry very wisely halted and rallied the disorganised tank battalions to face the new threat.

The Russians now fought through the village. They still had clear the last battalion of the 57th out of the way. The German infantry finally managed to knock out some of Simons tanks in close quarter fighting, and the Russians were faced with an interesting traffic management problem.

As Russells BTs caught up with their comrades, Johns armoured car battalion positioned itself to harrass the Russian flanks and rear. As a recce unit, it couldn't initiate an assault, but it could move and fire, which turned out to be surprisingly useful.

Battle was joined in the south as Jerry tried to block the German motorcyclists from advancing.

The 12th Tank Regiment finished off the last of the German defenders, the way north was now clear. The Russians needed to exit four units by the road to win.

The 34th Medium Tank Regiment was finally destroyed as the panzers outflanked them. 

And Johns motorcyclists finished off the T28s, albeit with heavy losses. Tim moved his HQ figure up to take a closer look at the carnage (foreground).

In the north, Jerry slipped his infantry off. The Germans had one last chance to stop the Russians. Simons infantry had three hits left, and Johns armoured cars with artillery support had three shots, each needing a 3+ to hit.... In the event John rolled two hits and the infantry slipped off with just one hit remaining, followed by both the armour units. The Russians had won by just one hit, which is about as close as it gets.

At least Tim managed to get a good photo opportunity with the disabled T35, a very popular German past-time in 1941.

That all went swimmingly well. I thought it was curtains for the Russians when they got bogged down at Leshnov, but in fact Simons plan came off. It was a really good idea to attack en masse in two waves, and Russell did an excellent job of pinning down the German reinforcements just long enough to allow a breakthrough in the north. In these sorts of scenarios it is so tempting to throw stuff in piecemeal, but in fact the Russians had lots of time to form up and attack. How long they will survive with Germans all over their LOC is anyones guess, bjt hey ho. IRL the attack was rather piecemeal, 12th Tank Div made good progress northwards, but the other two divisions got stuck, and the bulk of the T35s broke down and were abandoned.

The rules worked fine, and I was pleased with how the armoured car unit worked. I've done an awful lot of WW2 OHW games now, so I really should try something different, but they seem to suit our group and remote play well.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Norm. I particularly enjoyed getting the T28s and T35 out. I suspect that will be their one and only outing!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Simon, and well done on your great victory. Until everyone runs out of fuel anyway. Order of Lenin all around.

  3. Any game with T35s in already has something going for it, but that was really excellent. Is that from one of Andrew Rolph's magazine-published scenarios, or has he done a book? And do you think this might make a good Megablitz scenario? I keep on thinking I should get that to the table.

    1. There is a scenario covering this in Andrew Rolph early war scenario book (can't recall the title now). It only covers 12th Tank Div though, and as I wanted to get the T35s on, I expanded it to the entire 8th Mech Corps.

      Yes, it would make a decent Megablitz scenario but you have to scale Andrews scenario up a lot (it only has a few battalions on each side) so you'd essentially be starting from scratch.

    2. At the risk of an unwelcome imposition on Martin's rather good blog the scenario is from here
      He is absolutely correct that he has used the scenario in question for inspiration rather than reproduce it as presented in the book. Further upscaling to Megablitz would be removing that inspiration one further step.

  4. A cracking great game that played out really well. And you must have felt quite chuffed at the scenario you did with only one hit made the difference to who won or not :-)

    1. Yes, it really went down to the wire. I've generally found the One Hour Wargames scenarios are pretty balanced, if you are careful with the the fixed force composition (the random force generator can produce some really wierd results). The outcome is largely determined by player decisions around force concentration and the tempo of operations.

  5. Excellent! Thanks for sharing, Martin.

    Regards, Chris.

    1. Thanks Chris. There were a fair number of toys on the table, but not a patch on one of your NQM games. Hilariously I've realised that the relationships between SP allocated to units, combat dice etc closely mirror NQM.

  6. This was a great. i really enjoyed it.

    The zoom streams do not do justice to your toy collection compared to these photos.



    1. Thanks Pete. Although the fixed camera makes it easier for me to run the games, it does mean that all the players can see are a bunch of green or grey blobs in the distance. That is partly why I jame so much stuff on each base.

    2. Don't worry there is enough resolution to be able to play the game just not quite enough to appreciate the workmanship.



  7. That was a massive tank battle, including the massive form of the T-35. Wonderful to see such a novel tank on the tabletop.
    Regards, James

    1. Thanks James. It was nice to be able to do one of the actual battles T35s took part in rather than something hypothetical.

  8. Nice to see the terrible T-35 "on table"

    1. I'm glad it was such a star! 'terrible' in more ways than one.