Category Archives: Soviet Army

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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Filed under "Rules" Explanations, 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Axis War Diary, Eastern Front, Land Battles, Rules Examples, Soviet Army, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, Wehrmacht, WWII

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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LENINGRAD Counteroffensive (3)

The LENINGRAD Front Artillery Masses

The LENINGRAD Front Artillery Masses

As the third day of the counterofensive dawned, leading squadrons of 9 Cavalry Division probed the minefields fronting the 58 Infantry Division position. Early attacks were repulsed easily, but these masked Soviet pioneer companies  moving up to breach safe lanes for 13 Motor Rifle Division.

Short Daylight Hours do not Halt the Offensive

Short Daylight Hours do not Halt the Offensive

A second wave of cavalry, supported by artillery and airstrikes was on the brink of succeeding, but morale failed at a critical point in the assault under a well-timed counterattack from 58 Division’s reserve regiment.

9 Cav Retreats as 13 MR Advances

9 Cavalry Retreats as 13 MR Advances

To the north, the southern defenders of LENINGRAD  were firing onto 13 Motor Rifle Division, in the hope of inflicting significant casualties, but the division maintained its own advance westwards and ignored the pinpricks to its flank.

13 MR Assaults 58 Inf

13 MR Assaults 58 Inf

As the remnants of 9 Cavalry withdrew to the east, more airstrikes paved the way for 13 Motor Rifle to breach 58 Infantry’s northern flank.

Another Wave of Bombers Pound 58 Inf

Another Wave of Bombers Pound 58 Inf

Airstrike Hits 58 Inf with Devastating Results

Airstrike Hits 58 Inf with Devastating Results

Under pressure, the division made its way back  to the airfield at ORIENBAUM. Ju-52s had been ferrying supplies in to LENINGRAD, and casualties out, until the very last moment; but now the last Tante Jus lumbered off westwards, escorted by Fw-190s. After reorganisation, the fighting strength of 9 Cavalry was down to 50%

Overworked Luftwaffe at Flugplatz ORANIENBAUM

Overworked Luftwaffe at Flugplatz ORANIENBAUM

4 Guards Rifle Division and 27 Rifle Division continued to press forward into the eastern defences, gaining ground, then losing it, before subjecting the area to such a fierce combined air and artillery bombardment that the area was left an uninhabitable ruin to defender and attacker alike. ¹

Eastern LENINGRAD in Flames

Eastern LENINGRAD in Flames

28 Rifle Div Breaches East LENINGRAD

28 Rifle Div Breaches East LENINGRAD

4 GR Assaults from the North

4 GR Assaults from the North

4 GR Breaches LENINGRAD from the North

4 GR Breaches LENINGRAD from the North

As the attacks bore in on the outskirts of LENINGRAD, army and front-level artillery added their weight to the assault, exacting a severe toll on the defenders.² The centre of LENINGRAD  began to fill with displaced units and the first bridges over the NEVA were demolished by the rearguard³

LENINGRAD Breached from the North and East

LENINGRAD Breached from the North and East

To be continued …

Game notes:

  1. The first time we ran this sequence, the defender’s reserve regiment managed to evict the attackers. Phil pointed out, quite reasonably, that the bombardment should have fallen on the reserves as well. We re-ran it and this time the defenders were wiped out but the attackers failed their morale due to casualties and withdrew disorganised.
  2. I have been waiting for some years to use my Long Tom masquerading as a 203mm B-4M. We graded it as extra-heavy and  used a red die, which rolled a gratifying number of ones! It can be seen that a Long Tom looks nothing like a B-4M, but I didn’t know that in pre-internet days.B-4M in its firing position.
  3. Shortage of real estate will become critical for the defenders in this game. If there is no space for units, it will force them to reorganise and consolidate stands in order to fit into the space available. It should also be noted that the logistic units can defend, but not counterattack.
  4. The outskirts an roads of LENINGRAD were counted as medium defences. We counted the centre as heavy.
  5. The airstrike on 58 Inf was the most devastating use of heavy dice that anyone can recall. The VVS regiments involved have all been promoted to Guards status!

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Rebasing

The very mention of the word sends a shudder through us. We vow that we will never do it (again), so I haven’t been rebasing anything: just reorganising a few Eastern Front divisions to reflect mid war orbats … I’m not fooling anyone, am I?

You may remember the changes that began back on the 8th of January, 2016 to speed up moving the toys around? No? The essence is that you can use whatever you want to depict stands of 3 Strength Points. My current standard is using Flames of War sized bases because they are roughly the size of a 3SP vehicle base. Failing that, a couple of 30mm bases butted together  achieves the same objective. This is a WIP Soviet support base of 3SP, and the reorganised division that it lives in

Soviet NQM Mid War Reduced ORBAT

I still have older orbats around, but they have gradually been reorganising to the new leaner orbats. Here is a Fallschirmjäger Division.

The four bases on the right are Luftwaffe ground crew. Kudos to Will McNally, who has rebased squillions of Renaissance figures. I have managed about 420!

 

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Zvezda 1:100 (15mm) T-60

Aww Idda Lidduw Cyoote Tankie

This finely-modelled offering makes its successor, the T-70, look like a hunky, over-engineered brute! It falls under Kemp’s law: If you can see over the top of a tank, standing up – it doesn’t count; so not a suitable tank to go Rommelling in.

The model can be seen next to a T-70 in the pictures below, and  the chap standing next to it is one of the PSC 25pdr gun crew. He would be able to see over the top if the sculptor had put the correct anatomical length into the knees and abdomen, but as it is, he is the same height as the crouching loader, who is standing next to him on his left.

Three years ago, I would have needed lots more of these little tanks, but as the campaign is now entering 1943, the T-70 is more prevalent. You don’t last very long if you go to war in a biscuit tin.

The plan view shows the tiny size of the T-60. The lovely Mrs K. wandered past and made noises to the effect of “Awww look adda cyuute lidduw tank”. She has a point.

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MOSCOW Surrounded

20 Motorised Division Stops 2 Guards Mechanised Corps in its Tracks 20 Motorised Infantry Division halts the advance of 2 Guards Mechanised Corps

Depleted as they were from the previous Summer’s Drive on MOSCOW, 7 Panzer and 20 Motorised Infantry Divisions still managed to blunt the breakthrough by 1st Shock Army on the city’s southern flank. No less dangerous though, was the northern flank breach.

Soviet Infantry Break Through on the Northern Flank of MOSCOW

The initial bridgehead was widened until it burst through the reserve line and soon, long columns of Soviet infantry could be seen trudging through the snow on their way west.

Soviet Infantry approaching MOSCOW to Outflank it by the North

Dislodged from their prepared defences on the canal line, all the disorganised infantry defenders could do was fall back to the east or south into MOSCOW.

Attempts by 20 Motorised Infantry to halt the Soviet advance lacked vigour as they had yet to recover from halting 2 Guards Mechanised Corps. 7 Panzer Division  was in no shape to assist, having had its own battle with 1 Guards Tank Corps, so retired west to refuel and reorganise. As part of its reorganisation,  20 Motorised Infantry was redesignated 20 Panzer Grenadier Division.

The defenders in MOSCOW were in crisis, with continued enemy infantry attacks from the east and south, and the rail line of communication to the west in Soviet hands. LittleHitler formally declared MOSCOW to be a fortress even as a relief  by 3 Panzer Korps was prepared.

Retreating Fascist Forces see MOSCOW Dwindle in the Gathering Gloom Retreating Fascist Forces see MOSCOW Dwindle in the Gathering Gloom

Festung Moskau from Phil's Pb-eye Candy BlogSee More Frontline Soviet News Footage on P.B.Eye-Candy

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

KALININ Falls!

As the commander of Army Group Centre watched the Soviet offensive open in front of him, It became clear that the weight of the attack was falling, not on MOSCOW, but on KALININ.

8th Jaeger Withdraws North of KALININ

The already reduced 8 Jäger Division bore the brunt of the opening attack, situated as it was to the north of the VOLGA river along the railway line to the vital rail junction of VELIKIYE LUKI. The Jägers fell back steadily over two days to the west of KALININ, extracting a price, but taking heavy casualties as they did so.

8 Jaeger Withdraws North of KALININ

 27 Army was identified as the controlling enemy formation HQ. As it drew level with KALININ, the leading divisions swung south to attack the city, with Sturmovik and army level artillery support. Already, Wehrmacht reserve divisions were moving to cover the rail bridge crossing the VOLGA, but the main line from VELIKIYE LUKI to MOSCOW was now in Soviet hands.

37 Rifle Division Attacks South into KALININ

The defenders of KALININ, 161 Infantry Division, were unprepared for the ferocity of the attack by 37 Rifle Division. Despite losses to the minefields and prepared defences, and spirited counterattacks by the defenders, first the outskirts, then the centre of the city fell. 

36 Rifle Division Seizes a VOLGA Bridge

A seesaw battle for the river crossing commenced as the leading elements of 36 Rifle Division seized the southern bank in the face of elements of 256 Infantry Division that were rushing to secure the bridge. 8 Jäger Division, reduced to a regimental headquarters and company of infantry, managed to throw the Soviets back to the northern edge of the bridge just long enough to allow 256 Infantry to open a route to KALININ. Through this, the survivors of the city poured, leaving their heavy weapons behind. The bridge was blown in the face of the leading Soviet assault parties.

Back in his FührerBoxfile, LittleHitler was foaming at the mouth with fury at the loss of KALININ and the commander of 161 Infantry was summoned to explain himself. A professional withdrawal under fire, over a bridge being attacked by the enemy, did nothing to save him. The division was ordered to be shipped to France to refit, but its commander and senior staff found themselves stripped of their rank and sent to a penal battalion.

The Line is Breached North of KALINEN

Meanwhile, a serious breach in the front had opened between XX Korps at KALININ and X Korps to their north. With armoured forces concentrated in the South and around MOSCOW, little stood in the way of the advancing divisions, The Luftwaffe had little success in divining the extent of the breakthrough either, as the flanks of the attack were patrolled by large numbers of Soviet fighters.

To be continued …

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Storm from the Northwest – Days 6 to 9

Six months of real time have elapsed since day five of this battle and its resumption on day six. To recreate a long narrow thrust along a railway line in hilly, forested country, the operation is now being prosecuted along the length of my pasting table, again with the lateral scale massively compressed. YesthatPhil took most of the photos for this battle as his camera skills exceed mine by a considerable margin.

The Key Rail JunctionLink to the map

Day six of the offensive began with 4th Tank Corps continuing the attack west along the line of the railway to VELIKIE LUKIE. The  Soviet infantry in the line regrouped and paused as 1st Guards Rifle Division passed through the forward positions and assembled for an assault. Heavy artillery support began to pound VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK.

vyshny volochyok 1942http://city.samondeo.com/vyshny-volochyok-russia.php

From the contemporary aerial photographs, note the relatively open nature of the suburbs and railway sidings even today, apart from the town centre.

Vyshny region today

Army Level Artillery Close Up to the Front Line

4th Tank Corps continued to press west, with 16th Motor Rifle Corps following on, poised to support either 1GR or 4Tk.

4TK Corps Advance

The regrouped Silesians of 8th Infantry Division in VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK braced themselves for a renewed infantry assault as 1st Guards Rifle Division shook out into attack formation, supported by Katyushas, Sturmoviks and KV-1s. Apparently the latter were more plentiful in the north.

1GDs Assault

Historically, 8th Inf were a good unit with a distinguished reputation. They suffered heavy casualties in the initial campaign and were returned to France to convert to a Jäger division; their model counterparts fared no less well. Despite spirited counterattacks that caused delays of a day, they were pushed out of the city with heavy losses by 1GR, reinforced by 16MR when the first assault showed signs of losing momentum.

KV1 of 16 MR Breaks in

Ideally, you would really like something heavier than 3.7cm anti-tank against KV-1s. Yes, those are Soviets behind the dug-in anti-tank position. No, those are not party balloons, they are pin markers*.

Meanwhile, 4Tk were stopping for nothing and no-one. They met the advanced positions of a defended belt and attacked it straight from the line of march … with not unexpected results. Plenty more light armour was available if it was needed. 4Tk‘s T-70s discovered the defending minefields in the traditional way. This is why the Desantny prefer to ride on the T-34s if anyone gives them a choice.

4TK Assault From Line of March

Some distance into difficult country astride the railway, 269 Infantry Division‘s main defensive line provided the defence in depth for the front.

269INF Reserve Defence

Katyushas and infantry deployed as the armour fought on down the railway. More Sturmoviks appeared overhead; “… wo ist die Luftwaffe?” The heavy and medium dice below are all falling on the German infantry!

4Tk Corps Hit Back

When all seemed lost, 8th Panzer Division appeared in a counter attack. The bulk of the division was strung across the frozen countryside, but enough appeared to persuade the Soviets that there would be no more progress on this axis of advance before further reinforcements arrived.

8PZ Div Counterattack

*Thanks to Jaap Boender for pointing out on Facebook that the pins look like party balloons.

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On the Workbench – 3.7cm Pak 36s

45mm

These two Pak 36s surfaced from one of the bits boxes last night. They came with a Command Decision Sdkfz 251 pack, if I remember correctly. That just left me with wheels and a trail to find. A Soviet 85mm AA gun from Flames of War provided the wheels, and aluminium tube with scrap balsa did the rest.

As I need Soviet 45mm guns more than German 36s at the moment, I painted them green prior to sticking Soviet crews on the bases. They will probably join the Tank Corps as captured 3.7cm Pak 36s, as they are a little undersized for 1937 (53-K) sorokopyatka” (forty fivers). The PSC offerings, of which there are 5 in a pack, are noticeably larger but come with the cut-down vehicle shield.

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Storm from the Northwest – Days 2 and 3

Day two of the Soviet Winter offensive in the Northwest saw X, II and VIII Korps under heavy pressure along the whole of the line. By this stage of the war, German defensive positions had formalised into an outlying belt of minefields studded with MG42 nests, then a main defensive line backed by a reserve line, all of some considerable depth such that they could not all be carried in the same attack.

II Korps Artillery II Korps artillery in the reserve line supports the failing defensive line of Lt Gen von Seydlitz-Kurzbach’s distinguished 12 Inf Div.

Soviet doctrine was evolving to cope, and although not as tactically proficient as they would become later in the war, the early desperate days of throwing waves of unsupported infantry in to the attack were giving way to more coordinated offensives with artillery and tank support. They would attack along a line, then ruthlessly reinforce success, leaving failing attacks to flounder. Thus it was that Lt Gen Wandel found pressure on his 121 Inf Div slackening as troops were diverted to support the break-in to 32 Inf Div‘s main defensive positions.

This attack had been preceded by violent assaults on two flanks against the distinguished 12 Inf Div veterans of Lt Gen von Seydlitz-Kurzbach. The division fell back in good order, having sustained intolerable casualties in the first day of the attack.

Northwest Front 05The vital rail junction on the divisional boundary of 32 and 121 Inf Divs, looking southwest, before  coming under heavy Soviet attack

This relief was, however, only temporary. Day three of the offensive saw renewed pressure on this sector of the defensive line to break open the main railway to VELIKIYE LUKI (Великие Луки)

121 Inf Div Main Defensive LineAll along the northern half of the line, German infantry were falling back to their reserve positions; most in good order but some in disarray. Soviet flags could be seen fluttering over the main line, and in the odd quiet moment balalaika and accordion music could be heard!

More to follow …

The Attack Develops on Day 3Link to the map

Game Notes:

1.More of this battle from the Soviet side can be seen on YesthatPhil’s P.B.Eye Candy Blog

2. This game was planned for Trebian’s 5×11 foot table at Shedquarters. My pasting table is a quarter of the size, so although the length is adequate, depth has been compressed by half.

3. The marked roads are also railways, which is why a Chibi armoured train is parked at the southern end of the track by VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK Вышний Волочек.

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