|Ponyri Station with Hill 253.3 on the right|
And it transpired that I was not alone in having amassed, over the years, a large collection of 1/72nd scale armour and infantry! So on Sunday about a dozen of us got together at the Hall of Heroes for a demonstration game of Battle Group Kursk. Phil wanted to get his 2 Ferdinands out, and it transpired that a few of us had these monsters, and some Brummbars, and some Tigers...and so it spiralled out of control!
To keep things at least within sight of being manageable with all this 20mm heavy metal just itiching to get on the table, I decided to design the scenario around 2 sets of separate battlegroups, linked by the same mission. Each side would have an armour heavy group,
and one made up primarily of infantry and anti-tank guns. Each Battle Group would have their own orders total and BattleGroup Rating, so in effect it would be two separate games, but playing over the same terrain in team effort. To further restrict congestion and to allow everyone the opportunity to bring their pet models onto the table, the game was split into 2 phases, my hope being that by Phase 2 most of the vehicles and infantry from phase one would have been cleared from the table! Allow me to quote excerpts from the game scenario which may clarify things:
The purpose of this scenario is to build on last month’s BGO game and raise the profile of Battle Group rules by staging a large, visually impressive game which reflects the see-saw nature of attack and counter-attack.
The Northern Sector of the Kursk salient. Ponyri is a key railway station commanding the approaches South to Kursk itself. The ground is flat with just the knoll of Hill 253.3 as high ground. Some cover is provided by small woods.
The village itself is dominated by 4 key points: a water tower, railway station, large tractor depot and school. See Healy, pp.50-51.
7th July 1943. The action has been raging around Ponyri since 5th July, and the German Infantry forces had succeeded in gaining footholds in the village, only to be beaten back by Soviet counterattacks. However, General of Panzer Troops Joseph Harpe, a strong Party man, was losing patience! His initial orders had emphasised:
It is of vital importance for the corps quickly to defeat the strong enemy force identified in Ponyri and clear the rail line of the enemy.
However the Soviets also realised the importance of this position, and the fresh 307th Rifle Division relieved the shattered defenders, and was itself reinforced with the greatest concentration of tanks and guns seen anywhere in this climeractic battle.
Major General von der Groeben, Operations Officer Army Group Centre, recalls:
Several hundred Russian tanks moved from rear areas to the critical point on the battlefield. A giant tank battle ensued, lasting for days. Here German panzers demonstrated their superiority, slowly inching forward in a spirited attack against new Soviet strongpoints crystallizing near…Ponyriy….Beginning on 7 July the Russians debouched from these strongpoints to strike with heavy, concerted counterstrokes…
|The first, and only, Russian Counterattack of the game - but effective!|
In five hours of fighting, Ponyri Station changed hands repeatedly…
Your Battle groups are to seize and hold Ponyri and Hill 253.3 and destroy enemy forces in the area.
The game will be conducted in 3 Phases: Admin, Phase 1 of 5 moves with ontable unit action and Phase 2, of 5 moves, where reinforcements may come on table.
|Don't upset yourselves - we know there weren't any SU85s at Kursk! These are representing SU-76s!|
However, everyone seemed to enjoy it, action was fierce and continuous, and we experienced and worked our way through the rules to experience the gamut of high intensity all-arms armoured warfare - minefield crossing, CAS strikes, counter attacks, standoff AT exchanges, and an infantry assault.
So would we do it again with fewer toys? No - next time we'll set aside a whole weekend to get a result!