|Armaments in Miniature Typhoon prowling for Tigers....|
Bryan, an experienced and well equipped Flames of War hand, was keen to use his large collection of US forces, and since the Normandy Campaign has long fascinated me, it would have to be an Operation COBRA scenario.
The overall game concept was to condense the COBRA characteristics into one day long game, an initial phase with the US forces struggling through the 'Hedgerow Country' of the Bocage, and then a headlong dash south...The table was duly set up with a potential bottleneck represented by a bridge, set in close country, but with a major road leading South through more open country to the final objective, the town of St Jean de Daye in which was the 1 Infantry Div HQ.
|Photo distributed to the players prior to the game to allow for pre-game planning. Monochrome to give that period feel!|
ORBATs. The initial US forces, led by Bryan, with Ross as his Chief of Staff, were 2,000 points of the 3rd US Armored Division, made up of 2 Sherman platoons, one of which sported 76mm guns, a TD platoon, and, no doubt wisely in view of the prospect of an assault river crossing , a platoon of Armored Engineers. If the Allies captured objective GRIM intact within 5 moves, they would also recieve a further 2,000 points of the 82nd Airborne Division, but in a ground based role. They could call upon these reserves at any time anyway, but would forfeit the chance of victory and could only claim a draw if they called on these reinforcements without gaining the bridge.
|Peter Pig Tiger IE|
|Peter Pig armoured 81mm Mortar Platoon - the poor man's artillery...|
|Restricted fields of fire in the dense bocage - Plastic Soldier Company Panzer IV|
|Plastic Soldier Company LW German Infantry based as Sniper and spotter|
With the momentum of the advance in danger of being lost, the US resorted to using smoke rounds on all the revealed tank hides and used their Cullin cutters to detour aroung the flank approaches to stalk in for the kill. As my Panzer IV's started getting picked off, and with an apparent momentary lull in allied air activity, I decided to pull my survivors out, frustrated at having lost several valuable tanks without brewing up any Shermans at all...A lone sniper team had done more to hold up the allied advance than an entire platoon of tanks!
As the Pz IV's retreated across the exposed bridge to their fall back hides, the RAF made its inevitable appearance, but with some luck no further losses were taken..
|With typical Sapper ingenuity and dash, the US armored engineers seize the bridge...|
With the German infantry left to hold the bridges defences on their own, and the relentless prescence of the US spotter aircraft preventing the deployment of the supporting sister platoon in ambush, the US were not long in exploiting the pullout of the German tanks. The US armored Engineer platoon assaulted the German positions along the extreme flank, working their way in along the river bank. Ins successive exploitative bounds they were able to follow the retreating Germans across a ford in the river to capture the bridge - from the far end! They had captured Objective GRIM within 4 bounds, and so now reorganised and absorbed their reinforcements. Phase 2 was about to begin, and the German players were resolved to do better than in phase 1, so did not themselves call for reinforcements, despite the now impressive odds against them, including some heavy US artillery:
It didn't take long for the US to launch the second phase of the offensive, and it soon became clear that they were intent on avoiding our carefully planned killing zone centered on the highway, instead they worked their way down both flanks. Careful use of the ubiquitous spotter aircraft prevented the use of several successive ambush positions, and it soon became clear that the next line of defence would also have to be the last, the town itself...
|US 3rd Armored Division deploying at the edge of cover.|
Now Mark, the Tiger commander, can usually be relied upon to make bold and aggressive moves, and it was clearly high time to wrest the initiative from the US who had been having things their own way for far to long. He was itching to launch into a death ride in the best traditions of Wittman and 'Panzer Meier'...
However, the terrain was now wide open, and the Typhoons were still making their prescence felt:
This being a friendly, discussion ensured about the best way to deploy our Tigers, which had hitherto remained in ambush. We reluctantly concluded that a defensive posture would be wisest, although I inwardly believed this could only postphone the inevitable. They were accordingly deployed in and around the town:
|The commander intent on communicating with his loader - how long does it take to make a Koffee! Gott in Himmel!|
However, the US continued to be wary, and with the judicious employment of smoke bombardments with their now lavish artillery assets, the Tigers had a pretty thin time of it stalking the wary US tankers, whilst the ample US infantry forces closed in on the town from the Eastern flank, which provided useful covered approaches. With hindsight, this is where another German sniper team would have bought us some time...
|The 82nd Airborne using the covered approaches to Tiger stalk - The spotter a/c is searching for ambushes, but at this stage the German cupboard is bare of infantry...|
Without infantry support and with swarms of US infantry on his flanks and rear, the Tiger commander pulled his valuable assets out, and the town defences, battered by devastating artillery fire, surrendered. The gallant US forces had gained their objectives with several moves to spare. This result did reflect a masterly performance from Bryan and Ross, and after congratulating them Mark and I concluded that it was all the fault of the dice....In retrospect, I now appreciate the value of AA assets!
I must record my thanks to Bryan, who patiently shared his knowlege of the rules with us and did the bulk of the calculations in what was a large and complex game, but I think we all had an enjoyable and interesting game.