Tag Archives: Land battles

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

Minefields and Strongpoints

Minefields and Strongpoints

Minefields and Strongpoints

The Devils Gardens sown around ALAMEIN were complex and wide ranging. Even today, tourist guides advise not straying off tracks, and this despite massive postwar clearance efforts. I should state that I don’t like mine warfare, possibly because part of my job involved training to lay them and actually digging up other peoples mines.

They are however, a major part of the ALAMEIN battlefield, and they need to be modeled. Tradition dictates that a roll of wire wrapped around a Biro and stuck to a lollipop stick is the way to do it and Trebian takes this approach. I went for thin marine ply with sand PVA glued on top and sealed with acrylic paint in suitable shades. Some have mines and other items of interest on them. I went with 150mm (6″) strips to match the square sizes.

I also did a bit more work on the hills and strongpoints to help them blend in. the shot above is a work in progress. You can see that the top right strongpoint has had its top sliced off like a soft-boiled egg, and had an emplacement dropped into it

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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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Retreat from MOSCOW – Jan 1943

MOSCOW Encircled from the West

This three-part game followed directly on from the last MOSCOW scenario. YesthatPhil was at all three evenings, and Trebian turned up for the middle session.

A brief unseasonal warm spell gave trouble alike to the advancing Red Army and retreating Wehrmacht as the pincer movement closed around MOSCOW. The Soviets, with their lighter logistic requirements still managed to continue the advance, but the Wehrmacht was forced to abandon much of its heavy equipment in the retreat.

Confusion reigned on the Axis side as orders and counter orders flew around. Little flying took place, as both sides found their aircraft mostly unable to take off from airfields surrounded by fog and low cloud; the Soviets fared better in this respect.

Infantry from the broken front lines struggled to maintain coherence. Soviet armour appeared to be more mobile away from roads than the Axis, but in any case long lines of infantry poured west, attempting to link with adjacent units and form a defensible line, racing to stay ahead of the advancing Soviet armour*.

IMG_7779

Axis Forces are Thrown Back into MOSCOW

Inside MOSCOW, disorder was everywhere. Logistic and Luftwaffe units fled into the city as the airport was overrun. A frozen river MOSKVA proved to be no obstacle to men and horses, although bridges were thrown across the river to allow passage for armour.

20th Panzer Grenadier Division is Attacked

The spell of mild weather was brief as the temperature plummeted and hard snow covered the ground once more.

20 Panzer Grenadier division Surrounded

20 Panzer Grenadier Division found itself surrounded and destroyed in detail as the reorganised  1 Guards Tank and 2 Guards Mechanised Corp lapped around the defences.

18 Guards Rifle Division Overrun the Airport

Fierce dogfights erupted over MOSCOW with the Soviet pilots gaining ascendency. A Bf 109 can be seen crashing into the rail tracks in the picture above.

18 Guards Rifle Division Overrunning the Airfield

18 Guards Rifle Division  continued to push north over the airfield and into the outlying southern districts of the city. They met 258 Infantry Division head on, driving them back with heavy casualties on both sides. Katyushas provided close support from the airfield, with devastating effect. Such Luftwaffe support that did reach the front line was fully occupied attempting to support infantry dug in to the river line, with nothing to spare for counter-battery work.

Desperate German Counterattacks fail to Dislodge the Attacking Soviet Infantry

Desperate counterattacks by the defenders failed to dislodge the attackers. At this stage of the battle, both commanders were wondering if they had enough forces to hold/take MOSCOW. This is one of the features of the game, of which I am proudest. I tend to think that I have the balance right when both players are wondering if the battle is winnable from their own perspective.

MOSCOW Encircled from the West Limited Reserves are Redeployed to Plug Breaches in the Defencess to

38 and 39 Rifle Divisions turned east to attack into the city, having encircled it from the north. After cutting the main railway lines to the west , they made little headway at first against the outer defences, but eventually managed to gain a foothold as the defenders retreated deeper into MOSCOW.

Soviet Infantry takes the Outer Defences of Western Moscow

Having done this, they paused to reorganise and conserve their strength, consolidating their gains against any Fascist breakout down the rail lines. 2 Guards Mechanised Corps can be seen advancing west  in the top left of the picture above, with 1 Guards Tank Corps in the picture below .

Retreating Wehrmacht InfantryForm a Hasty Defensive Line

To the east, remnants of Axis infantry divisions began to reorganise on the rail junction and railhead, throwing up a hasty defensive line in the face of the advancing 1 Guards Tank Corp, with the surviving mobile remnants of 20 Panzer Grenadier Division regrouping behind.

*Trebian, who was present for the second evening, had more armour on the table than he has seen for the previous twenty (real life™) years. He didn’t squander it attacking MOSCOW either, just let it scamper off to frighten the bejazus out of the Axis lines of communication.

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Big Numbers on the Ostfront

German Panzer Battalion from the author's collection. Each model represents approximately 30 tanks

German Panzer Battalion from the author’s collection. Each model represents about 30 tanks

One of the pleasures of operational gaming is ruminating on the relative numbers overall of various equipment. Authors are fond of telling histories in terms of events, with the odd number thrown in here and there for key equipment, but they rarely give information in a consistent form.

Wargamers love using the best kit, so sometimes you are left wondering if the Premier Division team that they have picked for the club night is really a good representation of what went on. I enjoy the battles in the corners: The ones that happen when a Panzerarmee is nowhere to be seen, but a divisional staff officer is left scraping cooks and drivers together to prevent a breakthrough that may be on its last legs.

2nd Tank Corps Break Into the Northern Advanced Line

Consequently, I am often left wondering if I have the proportions of tanks to antitank guns, or of aircraft to anti-aircraft correct. John Ellis is usually reliable in this respect, so his orbats and ToEs (Tables of Equipment), scaled by the odd figure that is thrown in by a unit history and rounded for NQM, work well.

Here is a previous guesstimate of equipment at GAZALA. When I applied the same reasoning to the eastern front for the 1943 Soviet summer offensive, Ziemke (1968) gives us on page 144:

German troop strength = 3,064,000 + 150-200,000 allies

German Tanks = 2,088

German Anti-tank guns = 8,063

Soviet troop strength = 5,755,000

Soviet Tanks = 7,855

Soviet Anti-tank guns = 21,050

These admitted German estimates give the Germans a 1:4 Tank Anti-tank ratio (actually 3.86) , and the Soviets nearly a nearly 1:3 ratio (actually 2.68).

Comparatively this gives a Soviet vs Axis superiority of:

Troops = 2:1 (actually 1.79:1)

Tanks = 4:1 (actually 3.76:1)

Anti-tank = 3:1 (actually 2.61:1)

This compares well with Zaloga and Grandsen’s (1984) table on page 223 of Stalingrad to Berlin of 9,200 Soviet AFVs vs 2,374 German AFVs in March 1943 on the Ostfront, a ratio of 3.88 :1. The same source tells us on page 222 that the German proportions of tanks to self-propelled guns to troop carriers was in roughly even proportions (1:1:1). By contrast, the Soviet production was 2 tanks to every assault gun and no significant production of armoured troop carriers.

Even allowing for all the usual provisos of serviceability, tactics and quality, this tells me that I should be allowing the Soviets 3+ tanks for every German AFV.

A separate, and interesting question, is “do all the anti tank weapon totals include anti tank rifles?” I suspect not, as the German ratio is higher, and the Soviets hung onto their anti-tank rifles for longer. A quick NQM ToE check gives the following numbers:

German panzer division5 Tanks, 2 Anti-tank guns (numbers fluctuated)

German infantry division = 0 Tanks, 3 Anti-tank guns

Soviet tank corps6 Tanks, 2 Anti-tank guns (for 1943, the numbers fluctuated)

Soviet infantry division0 Tanks,  3 Anti-tank guns (allowing the 76mm divisional gun an antitank role and counting the 3 regimental 47mm guns as one Sp3 gun.

If we estimate the tank to infantry division ratio on the Ostfront as:

German = 67 Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions versus 331 infantry divisions, (Just under 1:5). (I have taken the German army as a whole but ignored allies giving 335 NQM tanks to 1127 anti-tank guns, or 1 to 3.4.

Soviet = 60 tank and mechanised corps vs 413 rifle divisions (just under 1:7 giving 1 NQM tank to 3.8 anti-tank) from Ellis (1993)38, then these ratios seem reasonable without having to count anti-tank rifles. I do however, need to make sure that the Soviet armour is fielded at full strength or tone down the anti-tank to keep the ratio about right at 3:1. Likewise, the German tank strength needs a lid keeping on it to prevent it creeping too high.

Here is a picture of a Ratte to console the German players :

ratte

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Storm Forecast from the Northeast

Northwest Front - Opening Stages

The miserable stalemate of the Rasputitsa on the NORTHWEST Front was broken with the first hard frosts of winter. This offensive had been expected for some time, but the ferocity of the assault caught the German line by surprise, and soon reports of heavy fighting were flooding in to X, II and VIII Korps Headquarters in volumes that told of an assault along the whole defensive line north of VYSHNY VOLOCHYOK Вышний Волочек.

Northwest Front 03

126* Infantry Division fought off attacks from militia troops identified as belonging to 30 Rifle Division supporting the northern flank of 31 Rifle Div. The Soviets had blocked the north-south railway from MOSCOW to LENINGRAD, and repeated counterattacks had failed to dislodge them in the previous month.

Northwest Front Rail Crossroad

12* and 32** Infantry Divs came under heavy pressure that the whole of X and VIII Korps Artillery could not relieve. These positions began to crumble as 34 Rifle Div  penetrated the forests in front of them.

Link to the map

To be continued …

Notes:

*126 Infantry Division was commanded by the newly promoted commander of its 422 Infantry Regiment – Maj Gen Hopper.

** 12th Infantry Division distinguished itself in Poland and France

*** 32nd Infantry Division was known as the Löwe (Lion) division and also had an excellent reputation.

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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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Winter Offensive 1942 – Kharkov 4

Just when it seemed that the Soviet attack was losing momentum, this sight greeted General Kempf as he flew over his hard-pressed Panzers in his Fieseler Storch:

Kharkov_26

A hastily assembled Kamfgruppe was thrown into the path of the advancing Soviet breakthrough tank army in the hope that this would give the infantry divisions time to consolidate their positions in KHARKOV and DNEPROPETROVSK.

Kharkov_27The assault on KHARKOV was renewed by a regrouped 270 GR , reinforced with breakthrough artillery. At this point, after five hours play, spread over two evenings, the game drew to a close. The Axis forces had hung on to the key cities of KHARKOV and DNEPROPETROVSK …. just! Soviet armour was about to burst through the insubstantial screen thrown into its path.

Readers will have noticed the heavy and erratic hand of Soviet photographic censors throughout the pictoral coverage of this report, so I leave you with evidence that the occupiers of DNEPROPETROVSK had stripped the countryside bare and were furiously laying in supplies for a winter siege as the evening drew to a close.

Kharkov_28

For the German view of the battle, see Phil’s excellent Festung KHARKOV report here. For a more idealogically correct official history of the Great Patriotic War, see Graham’s considered report here. Don’t worry if the two reports are incompatible; it’s why they’re fighting!

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Winter Offensive 1942 – Kharkov 3

As the second evening of this game started, reinforcements began to arrive for both sides: Command and control assets for the Axis* and more breakthrough armour for the Soviets. The following series of photographs illustrates the intense nature of the fighting all along the front. Despite continuous counter-attacks, the Germans were allowed no respite, and were pushed out of KHARKOV by 270GR.

Kharkov_20 Looking east, as the Hungarian 10th infantry division crumbles, 5th SS Panzer division moves to plug the gap opening to the south of KHARKOV.

Kharkov_21To the north of KHARKOV, 10Pz is assailed by 5 Shock Army It can be seen that KHARKOV has already succumbed to 270GR‘s ferocious assault.

Kharkov_22Stukas batter KHARKOV as armoured counterattacks close in to the outskirts of the city.

1 Pz Gruppe were not taking the loss of KHARKOV lying down, however. Ferocious counterattacks succeeded in dislodging the Soviet occupiers, but not without cost to both sides.

Kharkov_23270 GR are thrown back out of KHARKOV with heavy losses.

Any relief that 1 Pz Gruppe might have hoped to receive from XLIV Korps in the south was dashed by the developing Soviet offensive against DNEPROPETROVSK. Just as 51 Army had been halted by 9 Pz, the lead division of 28 Army entered the battle.

Kharkov_24The attack on DNEPROPETROVSK develops.

… to be continued.

* The two Sdkfz 263s that came directly from QRF arrived on the morning of the first game, a fortnight after ordering from a third party. A quick look at the castings told me that they were not stick and spray jobs. In the event, a lot of filing, filling and bending was needed to make the models presentable. I would imagine that the mould had not been spun for some time. Spot not one, but two Sdkfz 263s in the photo below.

Kharkov_30

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