There were alot of firsts with this engagement as you will see. THis marked the first time I used my new "battlemat" which was a textured green fabric I bought in Montgomeryville last night (also bought a desert mat and an ocean/sky mat!) The scenario was a meeting engagement however both sides had the aim of seizing the bridge in the middle of the map. Let me know what you think of the cloth. I think it looks good - just needs crops, some lichen and more trees next time.
The plan for the Germans was to rapidly move 2 elements to their pre-assault objectives, allow the Luftwaffe and the Artillery to soften up the far side, then assault it rapidly. The Soviets planned to rapidly march into the town of Pereshchepyne and deploy a defense against the Germans. Both plans were sound however fate would intervene on the Soviets' part today. It's noteworthy that the Soviet heavy KV-1 Company never passed a single command roll the entire battle (a first for me). Their mission was to provide overwatch of the crossing and escort the FAO to plaster German positions with smoke.
|German columns on the outskirts of Pereshchepyne - note the Heavy Tiger company on the left.|
|Soviet T-35/76s speed towards the bridge|
|German Panzer IV's rumble off the line of departure.|
Timing in war is everything. The Soviet armor rumbled towards the objective with no artillery support, and no heavy tank support. So really the battle was between an armor heavy German task force and a Soviet Armor battalion, since the KV-1s never got to play.
The battle started out with a brutal tank fight with the Armor battalion trading cross-river shots with the German Armor Company (Mk IVs). The Germans called in a Stuka and were able to score some impressive hits against the Soviets. At this point the Soviets hunkered down, dismounted their infantry from the Armor and waited for the Germans to cross. Every move by the Soviets was covered by the Tiger Is on the opposite shore...
The Soviets made it to the Southern Bank and UNBELIEVABLY a Command Blunder caused them to retreat "half a move" which translated into 15 centimeters. This would cost them the bridge and ultimately the battle as unrelenting German gunners forced "fall backs" and pushed them farther from the Bridge entrance, while artillery and dive bombers pummeled them behind the ridge they were using.
|251/1 Halftracks racing towards their positions|
|Chaos on the far shore as the German Fire support plan comes to fruition.|
|Landsers overwatching the Bridge|
|The first and last time Soviet armor would see the bridge.|
|Moving to the Right flank to secure the bridge Halftrack in the background has been knocked out along with all of its occupants.|
|German forces preparing to cross|
|Blasting the Russians|
|Stuka Attack! AA fire from the Soviet headquarters nearly brought her down! Note the KV-1 Company in the background waiting for orders. They would never come.|
|View from the German positions|
|View from the Soviet positions|
|SS Infantry surges forward on the Northern shore.|
|Tank knife fights|
|Melee on the North Shore|
|Plastering the far side prior to the assault|
This was an epic battle - really huge with combined arms assets, aircraft, artillery - the whole 9 yards. Probably the biggest BKC Game I've ever played Solo anyways. Here are some things I learned this time around:
TRACK YOUR ASSETS! With all of the crazy things going on, you have to remember what you've got in your toolbox. I forgot as the German I had a heavy mortar to use in conjunction with the Artillery. The Soviets additionally didn't even consider their artillery until turn 4. Write it down.
USE SCHEDULED ARTILLERY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE! Pre registering as the Russians is the safe bet as your crappy FAO might not be able to get the job done on time. Comrade Stalin and STAVKA will be pleased to know you have planned accordingly and your artillery will automatically fall when / where you want it to. That being said, ensure your FAO takes a covered and concealed route while moving because he could be blown away by Tigers at the last minute like mine was.....
KEEP A RESERVE! I think it's a good idea to conserve a platoon or 2 as a Reserve element incase things go south. IN this case, the Russian KV-1s don't count because I fully intended to use them, they just never materialized on the battlefield.
INTEGRATE FIRE SUPPORT: Pummeling the enemy with air, artillery, and long-range gunnery is the way to go, quite obviously and guaranteeing you will make the most of your rolling, especially if you don't roll well like me.
All in all a very fun engagement. Now the Germans hold the bridge and I will fight a "Bridgehead" scenario from the Rule book most likely next week. This battle will culminate on an attack on the Kharkov suburbs, much like the I SS Panzer Corps' attack in real life, although this battle occurs during the Summer/Fall months and not the late winter. Huzzah!