Monday 23 December 2019

Bolt Action: The other side of the hill...

My mate Ian at the Wollongong Wargamers is promising to run a Bolt Action campaign early next year set in France 1940, so I thought a small game running out my newly minted Char Bs and Panhard armoured car was in order to get used to their foibles...

GROUND: Belgium, 15th May 1940. Rolling high country between the Flavion and Meuse Rivers. An MSR runs along the ridge commanding views over both valleys. The area is lightly populated with large farms and boasts plenty of cover from small copses, hedgerows and dry stone walls. The objective is placed 18" down on the Meuse side of the ridge on the track leading to one of the crossing sites, which can all be observed from there.

SITUATION: Belgium, 15th May 1940. The 5th and 7th Panzer Divisions have forced a crossing over the Meuse near Dinant. The 2eme Division Cuirassier has finally arrived at Ermeton Sur Biert 12km from the crossing sites. Whilst the main body awaits a resupply of fuel, the other pressing need is to gather information on the extent and state of the German bridgehead, which will involve a reconnasance in force over the intervening high ground...

German Orbat: Panzer Regt 31 - 2 Pz III with 37mm gun with Veteran crew (324);

 1 x 8.8cm FLaK 37 with veteran crew (192), for a German total of 516 points.

French Orbat: 37eme Bataillon de Chars de Combat - 2 x Char B1 bis with Regular crews (490), support a single AMD Panhard 178 with Regular crew (115) for a French total of 605.

MISSION: A French unit is to end a turn at the objective and then retire back over the ridge line to communicate its findings. The Germans are to prevent this happening.

EXECUTION: The Germans deployed within a foot of their table edge, sighting their 88 with a reasonable field of fire of the entire ridge. The Panzer IIIs were dotted along the rest of the base edge, making as much use of cover as possible.

The French force, formed up on the track leading to the ridge, in order to enjoy double the Char B's less than impressive turn of speed, moved up to the ridge, the Panhard cautiously and making good use of the dead ground of the reverse slope, the Char B's somewhat more confident in their thick armour...

The German Panzers applied full throtle to try to make the cover of a dry stone wall closer to the objective, whilst the 88 waiting patiently in 'Ambush' to take a pop at anything that dared to pop up on the ridge line...

The Panzers made the cover before the lumbering Chars could get them in sight...

So that several turns were spent in a furious firefight. The French tank crews were busier than one armed paper hangers, their priority to engage the 88's crew with indirect howitzer fire from their hull mounted light howitzers (an intervening hedge prevented direct HE fire) and then peppering the Panzer IIIs with fire from their turret mounted 37mm. Whilst the Pz IIIs gave back as good as they got, neither side managed to penetrate the other's armour with their direct fire shooting...

The indirect HE fire was more effective against the 88's crew however, steadily whittling it down to the minimum effective crew. But the game's real shocker was the complete inability of the 88, even when fully crewed, to score a single hit on a Char. Not one - not throughout the entire game! Bloody Luftwaffe!

Despairing of the 88's ability to take out the mighty Char Bs, one of the Pz IIIs decided to brave the odds and charge the armoured car, which was the only French unit threatening the objective...

It scored a hit and immobilised the Panhard..

This effectively ended the game as dusk was falling and it would take too long for the Char Bs to waddle over to the objective from the ridge...No doubt some Poor Bloody Infantry would be detailed off to conduct a Recce patrol overnight to get the necessary info...Bonne Chance, les Poilus!

SERVICE SUPPORT: Chars, Panhard, and 88 from Warlord Games, Pz IIIs from Rubicon.


  1. Great looking early war vehicles.

    1. Thanks Dean - yes interesting camo schemes!

  2. Would make for an interestint game of 'What a Tanker'

  3. Awesome pictures...and splendid vehicles!

  4. Love the spectacle of the bigger scales. Well done sir!

    1. Thanks mate - yes much more table top prescence the bigger you go!