Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Team Yankee 12mil: The Battlin' Bastards of Bayreuth


Back in the day, the US 1st Armored Division, Old Ironsides, had yet to earn its even more unofficial sobriquet of The Battlin' Bastards of Bayreuth

This was earnt in the hard fought running armoured engagements against the Soviet 18th Guards Motor Rifle Division on the outskirts of Bayreuth, then West Germany, in the early days of World War 3...the 5th - 7th August 1985 to be precise. 

This 'Buying Time' mission commemorates the opening encounter of that epic and iconic battle - an intriguing time when neither side quite knew how to size up each other...

Bayreuth is a town in Franconia, northern Bavaria, now part of  Habitable Unified Germany. At the town's outskirts the Red Main river lies in a shallow wooded valley between the Franconian Jura and the Fichtelgebirge Mountains, characterised by small outcrops of rocky heathland amidst the farms...

Long fingers of linear built up areas bisected the terrain, so in many ways the 1st Armored were lucky with the patch they had to hold. Posterity has not recorded what the commander of the 18th Guards MRD thought of the terrain he had to attack through - presumably that's why the Motor Rifles, rather than an Tank division, got the job?

Whatever his appreciation, we do know he chose to lead off this opening bout with a Tank battalion of the 360th Tank Regiment, equipped with plain vanilla T-72s and BMP-2s for the organic Motor Rifle company. Frontal Aviation was promised and planned to make a good showing, and dedicated 152mm artillery assets were under command.

The 1st Brigade's 1st/37th Armor found A Company, 'Van Halen's Own' according to the legend on the CO's M1,  as the point formation taking on the leading elements of the 18th Guards MRD's Independent Tank Battalion. No attached mech inf, but the 1st Armored's Engineers had done them proud with a dense minefield sealing off much of the road net. Hopefully the 'mud movers' of the USAF would also be on hand...

Frontal Aviation opened the ball as promised, targeting, rather ineffectually, the US AD Vulcans, who were hiding amongst the outskirts of Bayreuth.

Despite this early setback, the Red Tide massed and pushed forward, channelled towards their left flank by the extensive minefields allowed to the defender by this mission.

It was left to the long-suffering Motor Rifles to pick their way through the minefields.

With the Soviet main effort identified, maybe, the US tankers got down to it from the cover of their crop fields...

The USAF also tried to target the Soviet AA, again without success!

The 360th Tank regiment shrugged off these early casualties and sped on towards the handful of M1s they could identify, knocking one out with a well placed 125mm dart...

Only to find there were more M1s concealed in the wooded hill above the farm...

Result: carnage!

However, even with their low rate of fire, the firepower from the survivors of two companies of T-72s was enough to finish off the platoon of M1s actually covering the objective - first victory to the 18th Guards!

But as we know, the US 1st Armored did not earn their latest battle honour quite so lightly! We shall commemorate more actions from the Battle of Bayreuth in due course....

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Nimitz: Tokyo Express!

L-R: Bailey, Caesar, Darren and Theo. Stuart is in the Chart-house...

Having been involved in the playtesting of Nimitz for what seems like years, interspersed with a couple of Covid lockdowns, the Wollongong Wargamers were hungry to finally play a game we could share more widely with the club. Having recently changed my WW2 naval minis from 1:2400 to 1:1800, I was caught a little short with available models. 

IJN Heavy Cruiser Furutaka in 'The Slot'

A cruiser and destroyer stoush in 'The Slot' could be cut to suit my available cloth, so I hastily (maybe too hastily) came up with a scenario based on the Tokyo Express destroyer supply runs...




The USN team deployed first, opting to put COMDESRON 1 of 3 Fletcher class DDs out on a limb to intercept the obvious Japanese resupply route. 

Fletcher class DD USS Laffey

The remaining ships remained tight on the mandatory starting square, but from the outset it looked like Stuart's COMCRUSRON 2; the 2 New Orleans class cruisers Indianapolis and New Orleans;  were being tasked as a separate surface action group (SAG)? All six US DDs were Fletchers.

The IJN team, led by Alan as one of our experienced play testers, put the resupply destroyers as far away from the US as possible consistent with the shortest run to the beach...with the big heavy cruisers forming a formidable flank defence!

The IJN had the initial advantage and opted to have the USN move and shoot first. Sam has designed Nimitz so that you get into action quick and soon, and the Japanese team were to rue that decision - concentrated gunfire from the entire USN sunk the Mogami within the first two turns!

Theo, as Rear Admiral Tanaka, lays in a course for glory!

However all that night firing training paid of for the IJN as they in turn sent Indianapolis to the bottom of the sound. However, more important in strategic terms, the USN DDs,  aggressively led by Bailey, closed with the Japanese DDs, just itching to fire their tubes! 

But it was gunfire that mainly sent the first IJN DD to Davy Jone's locker, thus condemning them to a draw at best. (I told you I worked the scenario up too hastily - the scenario should either have more generous IJN victory conditions, or about 6 IJN DDs!)

To the bottom right of the photo below you can see Stuart's COMCRUSRON 2 maintaining a dignified long range bombardment - he got a bit of stick from the rest of the US team for remaining aloof from the fray as Caesar and Bailey looked as if they were at ramming stations!

But in the wider scheme of things, it paid off, allowing Darren's and Bailey's DDs and Caesar's remaining cruiser New Orleans to finish off the second Japanese destroyer, effectively winning the game at turn 4. The scenario definitely requires some tweaking!

The game rattled along nicely once we had gotten into the turn rhythm - its important
to stick to the clearly laid out order of moving by speed, secondary then primary gunnery by formation, then torps by advantaged side. But once we had that squared away, even with this number of newbie players, the actual mechanisms of moving, firing and launching, and damage results were fast and elegant to calculate. 

The newbie players agreed that Nimitz was rich in tactical decision making: speed vs accuracy, range and aspect to maintain, when and what to fire, move and fire first or second. The firing and damage mechanism are straightforward but suspenseful and fun, and deliver credible, historical outcomes.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but with these 1/1800th scale models I think the table size and distances worked well. Looking forward to many more games of Nimitz..     


Nimitz resources may be found here: