Category Archives: Land Battles

Hexblitz First Game

Hexblitz 55 Rifle Div Closes on 4 Pz Div

Hexblitz 55 Rifle Div Closes on 4 Pz

With a couple of hours to set up and play Hexblitz, I wanted a simple set-up to get to grips with the rules. Trebian and YesthatPhil took the Soviet 5th Army and 4th Panzer Division respectively. 4Pz has been facing of against 5th Army for the last 2 months of winter as the Germans concentrate on their problems around MOSCOW, and the Soviets build up the necessary offensive power in the region.

The game set up is as above. In order to progress things, we adopted Ugo-Igo early on, until it became apparent that the card activated system was important.

LIPETSK

LIPETSK

I had underestimated the importance of  the defensive, static and moving state, which is why the game suddenly sprouted markers (and trees¹). Phil is very keen on markers being hidden, bringing his experience of Megablitz to bear. I am not keen on markers at all. Treb loves markers and cards, owning an impressive collection suitable for all occasions. For this game the red party balloons represented strength points and were removed when lost. White ones represented LOG points.

By this time, we were using all the game systems, and had identified a few questions regarding who fights whom in a free-for all brawl. I suspect that Bob organizes attacks so that anyone who is going to do so attacks a target at the same time, commanded by an HQ in command radius.

Hexblitz 20GR approaches the Outpost Line

Hexblitz 20GR approaches the Outpost Line

We were not quite as well coordinated as that, so had a few attacks going in piecemeal. That was the point where we learned that if you are going to be hit by several wavelets of the enemy, don’t be caught in flank or rear if you are not in a defensive position.

At the close of the battle, the Germans had taken a heavy beating, but the Soviets had not captured LIPETSK (Липецк). The game probably only ran at half speed, so any comments about it being faster or slower than other systems are really not valid at this stage. There is more structure to Hexblitz than NQM, so gamers who like proper rules will really like Hexblitz and Megablitz. Players who want flexibility or a framework to hang house rules on will probably prefer NQM.

Hexblitz 55 and 56 Rifle Divs attack 4Pz

Hexblitz 55 and 56 Rifle Divs attack 4Pz

I’m greatly encouraged by the run-through and will try it again, but we need to use fewer SPs next time (40 and 80 for defender and attacker was too ambitious for a first game).

My first thought is that the rules are perfect for solo play, so I will solo a game next before inflicting my imperfect umpiring of someone else’s rules on other players.

  1. Everyone knows that Russia in winter is full of fir trees
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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Axis War Diary, Eastern Front, Land Battles, Soviet Army, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, Wehrmacht, WWII

Bob Cordery’s Hexblitz

This excellent little gem of a rulebook landed on my doormat a week or so ago, courtesy of Bob Cordery. Bob has published it so that he has a set of rules to wargame the Eastern Front in WWII, but it is a worthy addition to the small library of operational tabletop rules that I know of, and if you have an interest in this period, I heartily recommend that you buy a copy.

The rules are 43 pages long, with the meat explained very succinctly in four pages. This is rule writing at its most elegant. Yes there will be instances where the rules do not cover a particular situation, but that happens in even the most closely-worded rulesets written in quasi-legalese that run to many more pages. Twenty pages are taken with a very helpful example battle and orbat. Eight pages are devoted to setting the scene with scales, organisation, designing orbats  and hex facings. The game uses a stand to represent a battalion or specialist company, so follows Megablitz, rather than  Chadwick’s bathtubbing approach.

The move sequence uses a card-driven system, and combat follows Megablitz’s point counting system rather than NQM’s risk-derived L,M,H attack and defence. The rules will work well for a solo game.

It would be simplicity itself to take Frank Chadwick’s hex map and fight Barbarossa using these rules. I ran a short test game on Trebian’s staggered squares, using about 40SP for the German 4th Panzer Division and about 80SP for the Soviet 5th Army. Being WHELKS¹ we eased into the rules from a position of what we knew already, introducing Bob’s rules in stages. Using 15mm toys and 3″ staggered squares, everything fitted comfortably. Trebian has written an offside report already. He thinks that there was a stacking problem with the sizes of bases and squares that we used, I’m not so sure at this stage. Interestingly, each of the players wanted to see rule mechanisms that they were familiar with from other rulesets, and I feel that Bob’s framework could absorb these comfortably without losing its character. The rules need playing a few more time to gain familiarity, but I’m sure that once we are up to speed with them, they will prove to be as good as they look at first glance.

Finally, declaring an interest, I’m credited in the dedication, along with Tim Gow, which is generous, because Bob’s rules are far tidier than anything that I’ve ever produced!

 

  1. Wellingborough Historical and Ever-so Loosly Kultural Society

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2nd Alamein – NQM Squared – The South

44 Inf Div and 7Armd Div

44 Inf Div and 7Armd Div

Having walked through the northern third of 2nd Alamein to see if the real estate fitted (it did), I worked through the head-to-head infantry attack of 44th Infantry Division against Folgore.

Folgore Defence in Depth

Folgore Defence in Depth

The battle commenced with a divisional barrage that put serious disorganisation of 1/3 onto the dug in division (25pdrs M against dug-in infantry M). The infantry then followed this in, winning the firefight and evicting the first line of defences with 100% disorganisation in the close assault.

Ramke Falschirmjaeger Brigade

Ramke Falschirmjäger Brigade

 

I ruled that, being veteran, Folgore could immediately counterattack with its second line of defence, during the second close assault phase and pull its first line of defence out to reorganise. 44 Div were allowed to do the same in the third close assault phase, ending the turn. In future though, I shall restrict immediate counter attacks in the enemy’s turn to veteran troops.

Pavia and Folgore

Pavia and Folgore

This produced a very satisfying to-and-fro battle that left both sides’ infantry at about 50% casualties, with all artillery ammunition exhausted by the end of 4 rounds of fighting.

Folgore and Ramke from Allied Lines

Folgore and Ramke from Allied Lines

Other rulings were that:

Infantry could not pursue beyond their one square range.

Infantry could attack a diagonal square, but only if they were able to attack it orthogonally from the front or flank without interference from enemy on their own front or flank.

In other words, they could not ignore an enemy to their front in order to concentrate an attack on an enemy to their diagonal front, and they can only do this because the one free diagonal move per game turn that they are allowed places the square they wish to attack in reach.

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First Siege of TOBRUK

I had planned to do a TOBRUK mini-campaign, but on closer examination, the following scenario problem seen at Phase V presented itself. I may work it up to a full game, but at present it does not hold enough operational interest to pursue before other projects:

Phase I: Operation Sonnenblume (6 February – 25 May 1941). The Germans drive the Allies east, isolate TOBRUK and on 10 April attack a largely Australian defence. The Australian infantry prove that a coherent infantry force behind well-sited concrete defences in three layers can contain a frontal armoured attack.

Phase II: Two unsuccessful allied relief attempts ensue, Operation Brevity (15–16 May), Operation Battleaxe (15–17 June), before Operation Crusader (18 November – 30 December) relieves TOBRUK on On 27 November 1941.

Phase III: Around TOBRUK itself, nothing happens for five months operationally. The Germans lack the strength to penetrate the defences and at the same time fight of the Allied counter-offensives.

Phase IV: After TOBRUK is relieved, the garrison is changed (see below).

Phase V: The Axis forces attack, and Tobruk falls in a matter of hours!

HQ 9th Australian Infantry  Division & Tobruk Fortress

HQ 3rd Armoured Bde (60 x tanks working; another 26 tanks in repair)

3rd Hussars/5 the Royal Tanks (Det 4 x light tanks and 18 x cruisers) 1 Crusader (CF3)
1st Royal Tank Regt (Det 15 x light tanks and 19 x cruisers) 1 Crusader (CF3)
1st Kings Dragoon Guards (30 x armoured cars) 3 Marmon Herrington @ (R1)
4th Royal Tank Regt (Troop of 4 x infantry tanks not modelled)

For local colour, substitute a Crusader for an M13 with a huge kangaroo painted on the side

18th Cavalry Regt (Indian)
HQ Royal Horse Artillery

 

1st RHA Regt 1 25-pounder (S2)+ tractor (L2)
3rd RHA (minus one bty) (16 x 2-pounder antitank guns) 2 2pdr Atk guns @ (S1)
104th RHA Regt (16 x 25-pounders) 1 25-pounder (S2)+ Quad tractor (L2)
107th RHA Regt (16 x 25-pounders) 1 25-pounder (S2)+ Quad tractor (L2)
51st Field Regt (12 x 18-pounders and 12 x 4.5 inch how) 1 4.5″ Howitzer (S2)+ tractor (L2)
2-3rd Aust Antitank Regt (Unkown no., type, Bofors
(minus one bty) 37-mm; Breda 47/32-mm; 2-pounders) 2  Atk guns @ (S1) (from the previous list)

 

HQ Royal Australian Engineers

 

2nd Aust Field Bn 3 Engr stands @ (E1)
2-4th Aust Field Park Company
2-1st Aust Pioneer Battalion 3 Pioneer stands @ (E1) –count as logistic when fighting

 

Signals 9th Aust Div
HQ 18th Aust Inf Bde 1 Comd stand (F3)
16th Aust Antitank Company 1 (C1) 2pdr Atk stand
2-9th Aust Inf Bn 1 Rifle stand (F3)
2-10th Aust Inf Bn 1 Rifle stand (F3)
2-12th Aust Inf Bn 1 Rifle stand (F3)

 

HQ 20th Aust Inf Bde (As 18th bde above)

20th Aust Antitank Company
2-13th Aust Inf Bn
2-15th Aust Inf Bn
2-17th Aust Inf Bn

 

HQ 24th Aust Inf Bde (-) (2-25th Inf Bn still in Australia) (As 18th bde above)

24th Aust Antitank Co
2-28th Aust Inf Bn
2-43d Aust Inf Bn

 

HQ 26th Aust Inf Bde (As 18th bde above)

26th Aust Antitank Coy
2-23rd Aust Inf Bn
2-24th Aust Inf Bn (as above)
2-48th Aust Inf Bn (as above)

1 Royal Northumberland Fusiliers 1 Machine Gun stand (S3)

9th Aust Div Supply Column
7th Aust Div Supply Column
2nd Aust Field Ambulance
9th Aust Div Provost Coy
9th Aust Div Protection Pl
9th Aust Div Empl Pl
9th Aust Salvage Unit

 

Fortress Troops
Royal Artillery
HQ 4th Antiaircraft (AA) Bde

 

13th Light AA Regt
14th Light AA Regt
51st Heavy AA Regt
3rd Aust Light AA Regt

 

Notts Yeomanry (coast defense)

Royal Engineers (under CRE, 9th Aust Div)

295th Field Coy Royal Engineers
551st Tps Coy Royal Engineers
4th Field Sqn Royal Engineers
143d Field Park Troops

Signals (under Comd Signals, 9th Aust Div)

K Base Section
27th Line Maintenance Section

 

Royal Army Service Corps (RASC)

309th Reserve Motor Coy
345th Reserve Motor Coy
550th Coy

Medical: 16th MAC

Royal Army Ordnance Corps [RAOC]

2nd Armoured Div Workshops RAOC
A Sect Ord Field Park AAOC

 

HQ Tobruk Subarea

1st Libyan Refugee Bn
2nd Libyan Refugee Bn
4th Libyan Refugee Bn
HQ 45th Group
1205-7th Indian Pioneer Coys

Admin units have been omitted and are represented by supply dumps.

Use the DAK orbat for Gazala for the Germans

 

Sources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Tobruk [Accessed 7.11.16]
  2. http://www.ww2f.com/topic/24891-orbat-tobruk-fortress-april-1941/ [Accessed 7.11.16]

 

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2nd ALAMEIN – NQM Squared – Trial walk through

Advance To Contact 9AUS 51HD 1SA

Advance To Contact 9AUS 51HD 1SA

Suzanne is the uncommonly intelligent kind of girl that H.G. Wells had in mind, in his preface to Little Wars. Her interests gravitate to the people behind the great events, so persuading her to roll dice  involved gin. It also called for a good deal of exposition as to how the 8th Army found itself fighting a set piece battle that would have been familiar to WWI generals, in a desert war that had hitherto been characterised by movement.

51HD Winning the Firefight

51HD Winning the Firefight

Squaring the table off just exaggerated the whole “over the top with fixed bayonets” nature of the battle plan. Suzanne has a wargaming record  that Attila the Hun would be proud of: In the past, her tank famously machine-gunned my supporting infantry off a bunker that we were both attacking. She sacked Northampton and executed any rival claims to the throne, and I regularly get thrashed at GUBs, usually after she has innocently asked

“What does this card do?”

The battle trundled forward as NQMs usually do, when there is no room to manouvre. Thompson’s post was taken, head on by 9AUS, then lost to a Bersaglieri counterattack. 51HD got stuck in. 1SA seemed to be chilling with cold beer and Breifleis; this was a walk through, after all!

51 HD Break into the Advanced Outposts

51 HD Break into the Advanced Outposts

Tonight however, the post – game conversation veered towards wondering which tunes would characterise each of the opposing forces.

We came up with this:

9AUS Welcome to Australia (You might accidentally get killed)

51HD Corvus Corax I would get out of the way if I heard this coming!

1SA  – we struggled with this one, skipped the Spitting Image Song, and thought that die Stem van Suid Afrika was a bit slow if you were marching into the teeth of a German defence, but liked the Piano Guys . The tune that made the final cut for Bashing the Boche though, was this one though – Sorry Arthur!

The Bersaglieri totally rocked this one from 52 seconds in.

The Germans,  Lili Marlene ,of course, but Peanut Girly was tempting.

I firmed up one or two questions in principle about defence zones of control – necessary in something as stylized as this:

  1. Infantry only close assault stuff in the square that they are in. To enter a defended square, they must win the firefight across the boundary with the next square. No Diagonals.
  2. Infantry, tanks and anti-tank only fire at stuff in the square that they are in. They can place their defended location across a boundary and defend two squares. Of course, this means that they can be shot at from two squares at once. No Diagonals.
  3. For ranged artillery, squares are three kilometers across.

To conclude, ALAMEIN is a goer at this scale.

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NOVOGOROD Mar ’43 – NQM Squared

 

31 Rifle Div in the Attack on a 9 km Frontage

31 Rifle Div in the Attack on a 9 km Frontage

VELIKY NOVOGOROD sits  astride the River Volkhov, at the northern tip of Lake Ilman. The Command decision Hex Grid Europa map runs a straight rail line between LENINGRAD and MOSCOW, and ignores this inconvenient piece of geography to put NOVOGOROD on the rail line.

33 Rifle Div Assaults 126 Inf Div in NOVOGOROD

33 Rifle Div Assaults 126 Inf Div in NOVOGOROD

For this game, finishing the Soviet winter offensive, I put the city and rail lines back where They should be. It was also the first outing of the new squared board, and a chance to see how a Wehrmacht Korps defence in depth fared against a Soviet army of 3 divisions.

30 Inf Div Defend the River Volkhov

30 Inf Div Defend the River Volkhov

To the south, 126 Infantry Division held NOVOGOROD, and to the north, 30 Infantry Division held a line 9 km deep.

 

33 Rifle Div advances on NOVOGOROD

33 Rifle Div advances on NOVOGOROD

32 Rifle Div Moves up to the VolKhov

32 Rifle Div Moves up to the Volkhov

Facing them was 34th Army with 31, 32 and 33 Rifle Divisions. As in Phil’s original game, we used Tim Gow’s Megablitz SMART counters to codify the tactical stance of the two sides, but we retained the NQM table 12 winning the firefight for resolving combat. Phil’s movement table was used.

First Bridgehead over the Volkhov

First Bridgehead over the Volkhov

During the course of the game, 33 Rifle made no progress attempting to break into NOVOGOROD, contenting itself with demonstrating outside. 32 Rifle forced a crossing over the River Volkhov, and broke into the main line of 30 Inf, but was forced to withdraw as a spent force. 31 Rifle was more successful, with one of its regiments finding the northern flank of 30 Inf, and bypassing it.

Hier ist die Luftwaffe!

Hier ist die Luftwaffe!

The Luftwaffe  was more active than over LENINGRAD, and succeeded in driving off Sturmovik regiments and inflicting some damage on one of the river crossings, but failing to destroy either.

They Couldn't Hit a Barn Door at this Dist....

They Couldn’t Hit a Barn Door at this Dist….

The month ended with NOVOGOROD surrounded but the Wehrmacht falling back in relatively good order until the Rasputitsa halted all movement in the north for a month.

High Water Mark

High Water Mark

Post Game Ideas that were Discussed:

  1. Allow attacks from troops that share a square edge in common, but not corners.
  2. Ranged support troops (artillery, AA) can be further back.
  3. Air assets can be placed on airfields or baseline at the start of the game. They must roll an appropriate number to activate a sortie (or perhaps get the first one free), then return to base and reactivate when they reach an appropriate score – perhaps reducing the number by one on each subsequent attempt, perhaps not..
  4. Recce and Engineers show hits on their main (E3) or (R3) stand, but the markers can show where the actual effort is going in.
  5. Defences need to be shown in a fairly abstract manner

 

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Leningrad Counteroffensive (4)

LENINGRAD 4 Guards Rifles North 1

LENINGRAD  – 4 Guards Rifles Assault from the North

As the battle for LENINGRAD moved into the centre of the city, heavy guns from the captured icebound Soviet Fleet came into play.

 

Not Your Run-of-the-Mill Wargame

Not Your Run-of-the-Mill Wargame

LENINGRAD SE

LENINGRAD SE

On the Soviet side, no fewer than three B-4 and B-2 regiments laid down a sustained bombardment of the shrinking German lines. This was the largest concentration of heavy artillery seen since the siege of MOSCOW.

Engineers came into their own, with two bridges proving harder to demolish than their size would suggest. Rolling two successive ones didn’t help either!

LENINGRAD Failed Demolition

Anything but a one!

Second Bridge Demolished in the Nick of Time

Second Bridge Demolished in the Nick of Time

The LENINGRAD garrison continued to be pressed from the north, east and south.  Soviet siege artillery pounded the centre of  the  City into rubble with no respite.

13 MR Assault

13 Motor Rifle Assault

Retreat at the Pace of the Slowest

Retreat at the Pace of the Slowest

The survivors that streamed out of the city were shell-shocked and reduced in numbers by 30-60%, And the attackers fared little better as General Zhukov fed more divisions into the meat grinder.

LENINGRAD City Centre

LENINGRAD City Centre

LENINGRAD City Centre is Retaken

LENINGRAD City Centre is Retaken

The Commander of I Infantry Corps received a LittleFuhrer directive ordering LENINGRAD to be held to the last man. It was already far too late for that, so after ordering a breakout and fallback onto the Oranienbaum position, The Corps Commander joined the final few survivors clinging to the Docks area.

I Corps Commander's Final Stand

I Corps Commander’s Final Stand

He was last seen ordering the destruction of fuel oil and ammunition on the jettys, before being overwhelmed.

I Corps Commander's Final Stand

I Corps Commander’s Final Stand

The Soviets, too, were at the end of their resources, so consolidated their position against counterattacks. A final assault on ORANIENBAUM was repulsed. As the Rasputitsa began its thaw and ice on the NEVA broke up, an uneasy peace settled over the  ruined city of LENINGRAD.

 

Nose to Tail on the ORANIENBAUM Road

Nose to Tail on the ORANIENBAUM Road

Game notes:

The new bases speed things up by making it clearer which battalions belong where in attack and defence. I don’t quite know if I approve of the tidiness, but it makes things faster for the players, so that’s good.

Engineers were vital in this game. Neither side had enough. Normally an engineer base is 1SP; I tripled this to 3SP and things were still tight. I ruled that breaching minefields under fire needed a 4-6 on 1d6 in the first turn, with an accumulating one reduction in second and third turns to 2-6 as a minimum die roll on subsequent rurns.

We started by recording hits by placing a die next to the unit affected, then by placing pin markers at the end of a move. It helped to show the situation during attacks. It is easier to place pins on the new larger bases.

The total playing time worked out at about 8 hours, with an hour at each end setting up and packing down. You are not imagining it if you think that the paint jobs on some of the units became more complete during the game. I took advantage of the layout to touch up a few of my own units during the intervals between games.

I need more ambulances and radio trucks for both sides.

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Soviet Winter Offensive Jan 1943 Desantny

The Soviet Winter Offensive taxed the Luftwaffe to the limit, with servicability dropping as ground crews struggled in atrocious conditions to keep airframes ready for operations, and airstrips clear for flying.

Tante Ju

One such airfield (Flugplatz Lotti) near VELIKIE LUKIE, was thought to be safely beyond the reach of the enemy. It contained four Geschwäder : JG 54 (Bf 109), KG76 (Ju 88), StG 1 (Ju 87), KG zbV 102 (Ju 52) and a NaGruppe with Uhus.

Flugplatz Lotti

See Phil’s blog for his thoughts on the use of Soviet desantny forces. The two regiments that he deployed brought with them T-60 tanks and the spearhead of the tank and mechanised corps that had broken through from VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK.

The Outer Defences of Lotti are Assailed

Although the Airfield was defended by two reduced regiments of well-armed Luftwaffe ground troops, their morale was simply not up to the task of holding the airfield. An undignified scramble of aircraft and logistic units exiting the base was observed as the unlucky defenders desperately hung on to the perimeter

Logistic Units Scramble for Safety

Before long, Soviets were swarming over the airfield. They have been doing that a lot of late. Casualties were heavy

Game Notes

YesThatPhil got the chance to showcase his new Peter Pig Soviet Scouts. I gave my rebased Luftwaffe field division its second airing. It behaved commendably badly, as one might epect. The air base was laid out in advance and Phil’s brief was:

“commit what you think that you need to take the airfield.”

He finished the job in about an hour of playing, which enabled the whole scenario to be finished from start to finish in about two hours. Coffee, chocolate, cheese and biscuits stopped anyone from starving.

I rated the Luftwaffe division as conscript and the Soviets as veteran.

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Soviet Winter Offensive- Battle for VYAZMA March 1943

VYAZMA 35th Infantry Division Defensive Line

Winter deepened its grip on the approaches to SMOLENSK as Soviet forces ground slowly east. 35th Infantry Division Landsers shivered in their dugouts and shell scrapes on the approaches to VYAZMA in a more heavily wooded broadleaf landscape than the southern steppes. Although this afforded more timber for defences, it did little to provide overhead cover.*

VYAZMA Soviet First Wave Break Through

Sitting midway on the MINSK highway between MOSCOW and SMOLENSK, both sides saw VYAZMA as a vital regional hub.

35th Infantry Division Retreats to VYAZMA under Air Attack

“Where is my air support?” was the cry from both commanders. The Luftwaffe were frozen in to their meagre forward airstrips, but Soviet Sturmoviks were seen flying in regimented formations to attack the enemy.

Soviet Second Wave Passes Through the Enemy Defenses

The scouts of 38 and 40 Rifle Divisions were barely slowed by the German forward outposts, and with little by way of artillery to oppose them, soon overran the southern regiment in their main defensive line. In the absence of effective anti-tank guns, even T-60s provided armoured support.

Soviet First Wave Reaches VYAZMA

As the south of the main defensive line collapsed, the central and northern regiments fell back in good order without managing to delay the Soviet infantry to VYAZMA. Here, they at least had effective Flak, artillery and shelter. As the last troops entered the city, engineers sealed off the defensive minefields protecting the eastern approaches.

The Ring Closes Around VYAZMA

Soviet airstrikes pounded the town, answered by Flak that may have had a dissuasive effect, but did little damage. This prelude to the main infantry assault did nothing to dismay the defenders, and a robust defence held the first two waves of Soviet infantry.

Sturmoviks over VYAZMA

After a sustained firefight, 40th Rifle Division broke into the south of VYAZMA, unleashing armoured forces from 5th Shock Army, 4th Mechanised Corps through the minefields but stripping their motor rifle support from them.

5th Shock Army Tanks Break Through

These tanks, on finding themselves unsupported, turned north to attack VYAZMA linking back with 40th Rifle Division, but being engaged by a static and self-propelled antitank gun screen.

VYAZMA Southern Outskirts

Difficulties with snow and supplies had delayed the counterattack of 7th Panzer Division and 20th Panzer Grenadier Division, but it appeared from the southeast of VYAZMA, having conducted a wide outflanking march, but having failed to catch the head of the Soviet southern pincer that was burrowing into the suburbs of the city.

20th Panzergrenadiers Counterattack

Although the attack reached the main MINSK highway, by this stage the defenders in the city centre were collapsing or pulling out of the centre, with little left to oppose the enemy.**

7th Panzer Division Cuts the Minsk Highway

A northern pincer from the Soviet 7th Tank Corps crashed into the city defences at about this time, sealing the defender’s fate. Flurries of Little Führer directives  ordering a defence to the last man had no effect on the masses of Germans fleeing west, but sealed the fate of headquarters 35th Infantry Division and its accompanying divisional troops. Counterattacks by 9th Infantry Division failed to break back in to the city to relieve them.

VYAZMA Falls to 5th Shock Army

Game Notes

*I had put the fir trees out before I toured VYAZMA on Google Map. Yesthat Phil shrugged it off as an annoying fact that gets in the way of a good story. Everybody knows that Russia in Winter is full of nothing but snow, fir trees and wolves. You can’t argue with that.

** Morale was universally high throughout this game, with the exception the Soviet troops to the north of the city, who were content to let their countrymen to the south do the hard work. German shooting was mostly poor, with the exception of the defenders to the north, and the engineers. The two states were not unconnected.

The armoured troops that closed on VYAZMA were previously unknown to Oberkommando Heer but were eventually identified as being part of Lt. General Popov’s 5th Shock Army, previously thought to have been on the Stalingrad Front.

The game was fought over 2 evenings, fuelled by well-preserved Stollen, on a 5 x 3  foot table, hence the rather crowded area around VYAZMA, which would ideally have occupied four times the real estate.

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The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the SERPUKHOV to MOSCOW Line – Winter 1942/3

Knots of German Resistance

As the front around MOSCOW collapsed, the landscape filled with large and small  groups of Germans retreating to the west. Lacking heavy equipment, knots and pockets of resistance caused just enough delay to the advancing Soviets to keep a semblance of order and a front line, albeit one with rents kilometers wide.

NQM Delaying Action Winter 1942/3

 

Some resistance was more resolute than others, 12th Infantry Division, in particular, fighting hard to buy enough time for the front to reform.  Advancing against them were 38 and 57 Rifle Divisions.

38 and 57 Rifle Divisions Advance to Contact

For some of the hard-pressed Landser, it was easier to fight and die in position than to continue trudging through the snow. Iron-hard ground and lack of time to prepare reduced the effectiveness  of the German advanced defensive line.

12th Infantry Division Advance Defensive Line

Behind the forward troops, preparations proceeded as fast as the appalling conditions would allow.

Roads Provided Tenuous Lines of Communication

Anxious troops, with little time to rest, wearily awaited the Enemy. To their front, the forward defensive line is breached.

The Forward Line is Breached

Waves of advancing Soviets press forward to the main defensive line.

NQM Soviet Advance Winter 1942/3

The Divisional Railhead is a scene of frantic activity as the Enemy draws nearer.

NQM Divisional Railhead Winter 1942/3

Even a captured Soviet armoured train is pressed into service.

A Captured Soviet Armoured Train is Pressed into Service

But just as 12th Infantry Division, was at the limit of its endurance, the pressure began to ease. The Soviet advance had outpaced its own supply lines and come to a halt. at the end of this two-hour battle with YesthatPhil taking the Axis, and the Author playing the Soviets as a player-umpire (Plumpire). The Change in the map looked like this:

12 Inf Div holds the SERPUKHOV to MOSCOW line

12 Infantry Division holds the SERPUKHOV to MOSCOW line

The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the SEPUKHOV to MOSCOW Line Winter 1942/3

The Soviet Winter Offensive Takes the SEPUKHOV to MOSCOW Line Winter 1942/3

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Axis War Diary, Eastern Front, Land Battles, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, Wehrmacht, WWII