Prelude To Winter – Leningrad

This game was run as a solo battle over two evenings to cover action on the Northern Front in winter 1942/3. As soon as the ground hardened, two Soviet armies (8 and 25) moved against the German forces covering the western approaches to LENINGRAD.For this battle, each division was represented by an NQM battalion.

Soviet offensive against TIKHVIG

Soviet Forces

8 Army :  4 Guard Rifle Division, 27 and 28 Rifle Divisions. Army Artillery.

25 Army :  9 Cavalry Division, 13 Motor Rifle Division, 26 Division. Army Artillery. Army Anti-tank Regiment.

German Forces in LENINGRAD

18 Infantry Korps :  122, 123 and 253 Infantry Divisions. Korps Artillery.

German Forces West of LENINGRAD

1 Infantry Korps :  1, 11 and 28 and 58 Infantry Divisions. Korps Artillery.

Tikhvit Advance to Contact

The attack was conducted in a series of phases against the defended positions occupied by 11 Infantry Division and 28 Infantry Division  before attacking the town of TIKHVIG, occupied by 58 Infantry Division.

Destruction of 28 Inf Div

The Soviets then reorganised for a night river crossing. Remnants of  11 Inf and 28 Inf  had managed to withdraw and reorganise on the west bank, but their hastily-scraped positions did not hold.

Leningrad Reserve Demolition

A last ditch attempt at a controlled demolition, by the Pioneers of 1 Infantry Division, who were guarding the bridge, failed.

Leningrad river crossing

The offensive ran out of ordnance at this point, so had to stop, but the road to LENINGRAD had been opened.

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Artillery Regiment 33, 15th Panzer Division, North Africa, 1942

saurer Sdkfz254_01

I did not realise quite how small the Saurer Sd Kfz 254 was in relation to the SiG 33 auf Pz II until I bought them both to fill in the orbat gaps for  Motor Artillerie Regiment 33, 15th Panzer Division, and Schwere Schützen-Regiment 155 /200 North Africa, 1942. I should have done – the 254 is essentially a 4-wheeled armoured car with the extra weight of a set of tracks, so it would have to be pretty small not to burst the tyres …. Oops, see the photo below for a vehicle living on the limits of evolution before it became extinct!

SdKfz_254_02

We are still talking about signature equipment here, but it brings some modelling variety into DAK, and highlights the rag-tag nature of the forces that the Axis deployed into Nord Afrika.

Sd Kfz 254 Saurer compared

So here is the orbat for:

  • 33rd Artillery Regiment  {Comd Saurer Sd Kfz 254 or Sd Kfz 253* (C3)}, FOO (R1), {Sdkfz 11 (or 6) Limber (L3) + 10.5cm Gun (S3)}, {PaK 38 (r) 7.62cm or PaK 38 5cm (S3) + Sdkfz 11 (or 10) Limber (L3)}.
  • Schwere Schützen-Regiment 155 /200   SiG 33 (S1) + Limber (L1) [you could, of course, just use the SiG as an S2 stand]

*Thanks to Andreas for pointing me to a very useful forum for this orbat.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Artillery, DAK, Land Battles, Modelling, Orbats, Wehrmacht, Western Desert, WWII

The Battle of Bir Bar ‘el – Breaking into the Position

0600hrs – Crossing the Start Line

Bersagliari under Artillery Fire

  1. 14th Infantry  Brigade Artillery (14ARTY) laid a barrage onto the northernmost enemy strongpoint of 1 medium CU scoring 5 against the medium strongpoint, scoring 1 red pin or pip (1M=5>M=1). Bersagliari tested for morale for coming under fire for the first time, scoring 4, which was OK
  2. 1st Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment (1BEDS&HERTS) advanced to contact with the enemy and each stand of 3 bases opened fire scoring 2 pins (2L=5+6>M=2).
  3. V Bersagliari Motorised Battalion (5BERGn) returned fire with 1 light die scoring 1 pin (1L=4>L=1)
  4. In the first move, 1BEDS&HERTS have inflicted three pins on 5BERGn and received only one in return, so in the next move they can close assault the strongpoint.

Winning the Firefight

0700hrs – Close Assaulting the Northern Strongpoint

  1.  There were no unwounded stands left in the northern strongpoint, so if 1BEDS&HERTS close assaulted, they would just walk over the position, capturing anyone who was in there.  5BERGn were veteran troops however, and passed a morale test for 50% or over casualties scoring a 6! so the Battalion Commander decided that a fighting withdrawal was in order. 1BEDS&HERTS occupied the position. Their supporting Valentine tanks from 4th Royal Tank Regiment (4RTR) declined to pursue the fleeing enemy until the infantry had reorganised, on the grounds that the enemy had probably covered his lines of retreat with anti-tank fire.
  2. The 1st Black Watch Regiment (1BW) advanced to contact in a co-ordinated brigade attack against the southernmost enemy strongpoint and began the firefight (2L=5+3>M=0).The attack stalled as the defenders returned fire (1L=6>L=2)
  3. 14ARTY laid a barrage  of 1 medium CU scoring 2 against the medium strongpoint to the south, to no effect. The attack remained stalled.
  4. The supporting Matilda battalion of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment (1RTR) began a duel with the DAK 50mm anti tank detachment to their north (DAK PaK). 1RTR (1L=3>M*=0). DAK PaK (1M=6>H=1).

 Black Watch Advance to Contact

0800hrs – Black Watch Continue the Firefight Against the Southern Strongpoint

  1. The tank/anti tank duel continued in the south with more sound and fury than actual damage: 1RTR (1L=3>M*=0). DAK PaK (1M=3>H=0), the PaK was now out of ammunition and could only withdraw next move, or sit tight awaiting a close assault.
  2. 14ARTY laid a barrage onto the southernmost enemy strongpoint (1M=4>M=1). 5BERGs had now received 50% casualties and failed a morale test on 2.
  3. 132ARTY fired on 1BW (1L=4>L=1). 1BW had received 50% casualties and failed a morale test on a 2, becoming disorganised.
  4. 1BW settled into a firefight with 5BERGs causing a permanent (black) casualty (2L=4+5>M*=1) and receiving . 5BERGs failed their 50% morale check on a 1, also becoming disorganised**

0900hrs – Black Watch Win the Firefight Against the Southern Strongpoint

  1. 14ARTY continued to bombard the southernmost enemy strongpoint to no effect (1M=3>M=0).
  2. 132ARTY switched fire onto 1BEDS&HERTS (1L4>L=1).
  3. 1BEDS&HERTS closed to effective fire range against the Southern Strongpoint (2L=3+5>M=1). At this stage the combined attack of two battalions had won the firefight and could advance to contact in the next move. [In the picture below, the 3 stands could have black pins stuck into the bases, or be depicted by casualty markers as shown here]

Black Watch Win the Firefight

1000hrs – Beds & Herts Follow Through to the Defenders Gun Line

  1. 14ARTY continued the barrage on the southernmost enemy strongpoint 5BERGs. The fall of shot was doing more damage now (1M=4>M=1).
  2. 132ARTY continued their barrage on 1BEDS&HERTS (1L=5>L=1).
  3. 1BW mounted a disorganised close assault with only one effective fighting base (F1) against the zero strength 5BERGs, which was automatically overrun. RHQ was unable to offer supporting fire to 5BERGs, as they were disorganised.
  4. The Valentines of 4RTR supporting 1BEDS&HERTS brought 132ARTY under direct fire (1L=6>M=1) causing 1 pin.

Valentines Charging the Guns!

1100hrs – The Enemy is Defeated

  1. In a bold move, the Matilda battalion 1RTR  passed through the Southern Strongpoint and broke into the RHQ position in fine style but caused no enemy casualties (1L=2>L=0) and received none in return*** (1L=4>H=0). The Tank Terror rule was not appropriate here as RHQ had organic anti tank assets. By doing this, 1RTR prevented RHQ from putting in a potentially devastating counter attack. [See picture below]
  2. 4RTR‘s Valentines closed with 132ARTY causing another pin (1L=6>M=1) and receiving no casualties in return (1L=4>M=0) – I really was not making these die rolls up!
  3. 1BEDS&HERTS mounted a well-coordinated close assault with two effective fighting bases (F2) against the single strength point remaining of  132ARTY (S1), which was  overrun as this strength point was defeated in close assault by the attacking infantry (F3= 6,5>S1=5). [See picture above]

Black Watch Close Assault

This battle would conclude with 14BDE consolidating on the positions that it had won and reorganising. The supporting tanks would reorganise, following British doctrine, behind the defending infantry. Logistic elements would move forward to resupply the infantry and tanks

It is worth noting that throughout, I have tried to describe as much of the ‘battle’ as possible using language that would be familiar to the commanders of the day. I find battles personally more satisfying doing this than if the language of wargaming is used, as I use games to try and understand the history of the period, as well as being an enjoyable pastime.

This worked example supercedes the earlier Battle of WASHBOARD RIDGE.

Footnotes:

The notation used here is a sort of Chess-style notation that allows me to record the salient points of solo games for future reference, and to keep track in campaigns. For this game I decided that the first people to come under fire would take a morale check, and everyone would at 50%.

* I count most Atk guns as Medium in defence when tanks are firing against them, to reflect the anti-tank guns’ low profile and camouflage, as here.

** disorganised units cannot take advantage of supporting fire, and are automatically overrun if close assaulted.

*** Tanks do not close assault. They drive into an enemy infantry position as they please, but if the infantry do not surrender or run away, then the tanks are treated as light targets in the next move when close assaulted by the defending infantry  if they are unwise enough to stay on the position. See Männer Gegen Panzer to get a feel for what is going on tactically.

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, DAK, Italian Army, Rules Examples, The "Rules", Western Desert, WWII

Battle of Bir Bar ‘el

Since explaining combat in the  Battle of WASHBOARD RIDGE, infantry stands have been reduced in strength by 3, reverting to the original version of NQM. See how this works with a combined infantry and tank brigade assault against  a defending battalion with anti-tank support.

 

Order of Battle – Allies

 Beds & Herts orbat at the Battle of Bir Bar 'el

 Black Watch Orbat at the Battle of Bir Bar 'el

 

Order of Battle – Axis

 

  • 8th Bersaglieri Regiment (Motorised) – 1 Comd car + 1 Mortar + 1 47mm Atk (CS3)
  • Attached from DAK1 50mm Atk (S2) +1 Limber (L2)
  • V Motorised Battalion 2 Trucks (L3)*, [ Bn Comd + MG + 45mm Mortar (CS3)], [ 3Rifles (F3)]
  • XII Motorised Bn detached to support Ariete

*(The Motorised Bn could equally be protrayed as two single truck stands  of strength CS3 and F3. If I do that , I usually put some infantry in the back to show they are not just Logistic trucks)

Italian Orbat for the Battle of Bir Bar el

 

 

 

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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, 8th Army - British and Commonwealth, DAK, Italian Army, Italian Army, Land Battles, Orbats, Rules Examples, The "Rules", Wargames, Western Desert, WWII

Sonder Anhänger 116

Sonder Anhanger 116 from a Poundland Chassis

Phil’s poundland trucks – the gift that just keeps on giving! The Anhänger 116 finally came together in about 2 hours, when my erratic spares filing system unearthed three sets of 88mm Flak wheels (Sd Ah 202 – one pair seen left of the picture above). This was a quick and dirty built with a number of glaring errors*, but it looks close enough for wargaming and is recognisable for what it is. As usual, the model is ‘battle ready’ but not finished.

Sonder Anhanger 116

This model will live in the Großtransportraum at DAK HQ. My recovered ROCO Sd Kfz 7 with dodgy tracks and wheels looks the right size to become a Famo Sd Kfz 9, so I put the two together to see how they look (below).

Sonder Anhanger 116 w Famo Sd Kfz 9

This video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_ovXgb98Dc shows how the steering works. Looking at the single tyred axles on the 116 caused me to re-evaluate this picture, that I previously tentatively posited as a 116. The tyres on the picture are clearly doubled, so it isn’t a 116. I’m back to the opinion that it is at least 2 trailers in tandem, possibly with a field modification jury rigged between them.

Hanomag 100

This website is German Softskin heaven …Fahrzeuge der Wehrmacht, and this list will have fellow trailer spotters reaching for a calming glass of milk …  Panzer Armee Special Trailer List   as will this one … However did we manage in the 20th Century?

I am still none the wiser.

 

*       1. The cab at the back is too narrow, as the trailer it is based on and the 88 wheels are also too narrow. The real thing was about 14.4m x 3m. Mine is 11mm x 2.6mm

2. The wheels are double 88 wheels, not single as they should be.

3. The mudguards should not be individual at the back axle.

4. The front is too high, there is no towbar, und so wieder … u.s.w.**

** And so on … and so on.

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Filed under DAK, Logistics, Modelling, Trucks, Wehrmacht, Western Desert, WWII

Getting Chilly on the Northwest Front

2nd Inf Div troops astride the VLADIMIR-MOSCOW road in deteriorating weather

2nd Inf Div troops astride the VLADIMIR-MOSCOW road in deteriorating weather

As the last mud froze into iron hard ruts around KALINEN and VYSHNIV VOLDCHECK, the Axis X, II, and VIII Infantry Korps awaited winter with some confidence. The line they held stretched from south of LEMINGRAD along the railway to KALINEN and MOSCOW. Unlike the winter of 1941, the Landser were better equipped with winter clothing, lubrication oils that did not freeze solid and winter stoves for their dugouts. The Soviets had proved unable to retake MOSCOW this summer and would surely not do so this winter. Should the line come under pressure, then 4 Panzer Korps sat in reserve at VELIKIE LUKIE.

The Northwest Front Early Winter 1942 with Known German and Soviet Positions

The only fly in this ointment was the Soviet 30 Division that had penetrated the line between 12 and 32 Infantry Divisions. The railway was still cut at this point, and restoring the line was a priority for X and II Korps, on whose boundary the breach sat.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Eastern Front, Infantry, Land Battles, Wargames, WWII