Saturday, 18 January 2020

Flames of War: Ostfront '44


I'll be honest - I didn't have time to research a specific scenario for this game - I just wanted to smash down my recently painted Battlefront plastic T-34-85s as motivation to finish off the fourth and final box...(these are lovely models once assembled, but compared to their later designs getting the pieces off the sprues is hard work!)



So just think generic late war Eastern Front - somewhere in Byelorussia or Eastern Poland - a key road and rail intersection defended by a small but hard hitting Wehrmacht kampfgruppe, attacked by a large Russian T-34-85 horde...



supported by SU-100s, 2 companies of Motor Rifles, and ample artillery and heavy mortars as is the Soviet Way!


Whilst the table is dominated by the village/rail junction, there is also a collective farm in the vicinity:



Forces were balanced at 2,500 (Armies of Late War) with most of the Wehrmacht's invested in a company of Panthers. The scenario was Counter Attack, with the Soviets attacking. Playing on a 8' x 6' table, all distances were increased by a third.




The Germans duly chose to defend the quarter containing the collective farm, placing 1 Panther troop and HQ troop in reserve, and the other Panther troop in ambush. Their objective seemed well protected by the Grenadiers, mortars and Nebs...



The Soviets deployed less subtly, cramming all the T34s in the far corner of the zone as close to the other objective as possible, supported by the 'Cat-Killing' SU-100s and the Motor Rifles. The German held objective was screened by the SU-76 company, and well and truly ranged in by the 120mm mortars and ZIS-3 battery.


Stalin's 'River of Heroes' started off with as swift a dash toward the objective as was possible given the rail tracks and stream, so that the Motor Rifles were well able to keep up...


Unfortunately for the impending liberation of this part of Mother Russia - or soon to be 'free' Poland - the German immediate reserves did just that - arrive on German turn 1! 



Most of them were able to take up nice firing positions on the edge of a large forest, covering all approaches to the objective the Soviets were heading for!



Meanwhile the Panther ambush was sprung on the far side of the T-34 column...so that it was subject to fire from both flanks...



With devastating results!



A rare visit by a Shturmovik flight was able to bail one of the Panthers...




But this did little to balance the fire-fight the Soviet way - even the SU-100s were being whittled down..



Although the 'Cat-Killers' were able to get some in too!
 

In desperation, the SU-76s were ordered to forget the German Infantry...


 and try to sneak up on the Panther's vulnerable flanks...


which they did admirably!


However by this point on the other flank both T-34 companies and the SU-100 battery were no more!



And whilst the Motor Rifles had occupied the village and could have made it to the objective, the German artillery observer's successful ranging-in of both Nebs and mortars on the objective rendered that unlikely...


Game over! 

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Black Powder: Waterloo segment


Addicted as I am to 28mil wargaming, playing Waterloo with Black Powder rules is usually confined to setting up specific segments and phases of the battle. For this game the focus was on D'Erlon's corps' attack east of the Brussels road.


The Corp's mission was to get at least 4 infantry battalions in good order breakthrough the allied line and make it over the edge of the dun coloured mat by the end of move 8.



These 3 infantry divisions had the support of Kellerman's III Cav Corps with a brigade each of Dragoons and Cuirassiers, and their own 1st Corps cav - 2 light cavalry brigades.



They also had a portion of the French heavy batteries - 2 heavy batteries and 2 medium batteries. With hindsight, I should have made these all heavies...


They also had a corps skirmish screen to secure the left flank of the attack from the defenders of La Haie Sainte.


The Anglo-Allies were defending with Kempt's 8th and Ompteda's 2nd KGL Infantry brigades, a strong skirmish screen including Rifles in the sandpit, Divisional Foot and RHA batteries. A small light cavalry brigade was in immediate support, and, further back, both Somerset's Guards and Ponsonby's Union brigades of heavy cavalry, also with attached RHA.



The French spent the first 3 turns bombarding the covered allied line, only really driving off one foot battery but doing no real damage to the infantry. The French plan was to focus on the right flank, where the ridge had no covering hedges and was furthest from the British heavies.


Attempting to make up for the time lost in futile bombardment, one of the light cavalry brigades essayed the desperate expedient of charging the guns...


Which promptly evaded, allowing the cavalry to follow up on the infantry to their rear, the 39th Dorsets, who were unable to form square in response. However the doughty Dorsets stood their ground and the cavalry were sent reeling with heavy casualties!


Meanwhile the KGL moved a battalion forward off the ridge to support the Riflemen in the sandpit.


Similarly the British Light cav came forward to deter any more effrontery from the French Chasseurs!


But the French Hussars were still game for a fight - in the drawn combat both sets of cavaliers had to withdraw, leaving space for the French infantry columns to move up...


The allied skirmish line and horse gunners did their best to disorder and break up the huge columns..


Initially inflicting heavy casualties...


Yet implacably on the French columns advanced...


Assaulting the Dorsets once again...


And their supporting guns...


Eyeball to eyeball across the ridge.


Attacking all along Kempt's Brigade...


Allied reinforcements were rushed to the scene of crisis - more horse guns...


Ompteda sent across what he could spare of the KGL, and even Somerset's Heavies moved to the flank of any potential penetration... 


But the French had heavy cav moving up too!


However, by move 7, the key decision would be determined by the Poor Bloody Infantry!


The French dogfaces launched their assaults with grim determination...


And withstood the withering musketry, only to be bloodily hurled back in the assaults, too late to regroup and try again to break through...


With hindsight, I had asked too much of the gallant French. Next time I will give them more time and more firepower!

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Team Yankee: Walsdorf Salad


Whichever grunt or embed journo first named the bitter fighting around the exit to the "Hof Corridor" in those eventful early August Days of 1985 'Walsdorf Salad' probably wasn't  a regular at the Waldorf Astoria!

The official histories aren't saying, and are pretty dry about the intense combat there...

I guess on a general's map it looked like as good a place as any to exit the Hof Corrider - or to place a speed bump!

It had a good road network...

Walsdorf rail yard looked like a good place to slow down armor...

And plenty of villages and farms to fire Dragons from... 

The Soviets had a clear run to 2 of 3 objectives - the 3rd was in the town itself. But they only needed 1!

And they were coming on mob handed...

With Frontal Aviation in support - 6 x SU-25 FROGFOOT

And a flight of 6 x Mi24 HIND



Defending the exits: Mech Inf from the 3rd US Infantry.

Also with tactical Aviation: 4 x AH-1 Cobras...

And some Fast Air: 4 x USAF A-10 Warthogs

The Mech Inf deployed on the left dug in on the woods across the river, with the centre platoon still mounted to cover any surprises - The M1s were waiting in ambush...

The remaining Mech Plt and Mortars were set up in and around Walsdorf itself.


The Arty were hidden in back of the woods with their observer forward on the centre ridge.

The Motor Rifles went left flanking first, making full use of the Spearhead rule to come on hot and fast!

The Hinds went for the lead ITV's hiding along the autobahn...
While the FROGFOOTs went for the VADS, taking one out right off!

In Walsdorf the Mech Inf, and the Mortars - using their .50s in direct fire - gave the Motor Rifles a warm welcome!
The reserve Mech Inf platoon headed across to Wahlsdorf fast to lend a hand...

But drew some unwelcome attention - and paid the price!

The rotary boys started having their own private war - the Cobras came second, but got some HINDs on the way...
  
With the overwatching ITVs now whittled down, the centre Motor Rifle company made a dash for the centre objective...

So the M1 Abrams platoon sprang their ambush...


Ouch!

This warranted immediate revenge - the Frogfoots KO'd one Abrams and bailed the remainder - who then failed their morale check and withdrew to fight another day...

The survivors of the middle infantry platoon de-bussed to plug the gap and cover the centre objective.
With resistance in the centre thinning out, the T-72 Company emerged from cover...



Using the cover of the village and cropfield to minimise fire from the ITVs in the treeline opposite.

They were soon threatening the right hand objective...
   
Whilst the Motor Rifles closed on the centre objective, despite taking further heavy casualties from the Dragon teams.
 
However in Walsdorf itself they were going nowhere - all their BMPs burning, the infantry themselves continually pinned by SAW and .50 Cal fire!



Objective seized - the 1st Combined Arms Army has two routes out of the Hof Corridor!
  
The Grunts of the 3rd US Infantry put up a stout defence and indeed made Walsdorf Salad of the Motor Rifles in Walsdorf itself, but they couldn't cover all the exits!