Sunday, 8 August 2021

FOW: The Psel River Fords


This game was set on the banks of the Psel River, 11th July 1943, at the height of the Battle of Kursk: Operation ZITADELLE.

I don't know if the Red Army 31st Tank Corps even had KV-1s, in any case Kursk was the swan song of this very 'tanky' tank. However, the 31st have the job of preventing the 3rd SS Panzer Divisionen Totenkopf from establishing bridgeheads. In the vicinity of Krasny Okfyabr, II SS Panzer Corps are are calling in all available support, desperate to get across one of the four fords in this scenario...

31st Tank Corps plan is simplicity itself. Dig in infantry and AT at all crossing sites, and hold on for grim death. 

Artillery and all calibres of mortars are deployed and ready. 

Frontal Aviation have promised ample support, and the seven remaining KV's are stationed between the two middle fords, able to waddle to either flank if necessary...

There is one trick up their sleeve however. The T-70 company are out an extreme flank and will be sent forward with the intention of penetrating deep into the German rear areas to disrupt the assault...

Whilst their support will be lavish, Totenkopf are short on Grenadiers, 

vital to prise the Russians away from the crossing the initial main effort will have to come from the Panzers...

Two platoons of PzIII and one of PzIVs. The first platoon of PzIIIs will infiltrate to the left hand ford through the woods, as that is believed to be lightly held. The remaining PzIIIs, backed up by the PzIVs, will launch the main assault against the centre fords next to the village...

It falls to the Russians to have the first move, and, as planned, the T-70s race down the road on the flank of the German positions...

The Germans, anxious to protect the precious Grenadiers, have to divert a platoon of PzIIIs to seal off this incursion. 

In redeploying, not only are they using up precious time...they present their flanks in the process, the first tank loss of the game.

Making their way across, one of the T-70s is also destroyed with a long range flank shot. But the survivors play a frustrating game of hide and seek around a convenient copse!

Finally the PzIIIs are positioned to neutralise the pesky light tanks...

and return to the main business of the day - but is it too late to make a difference?

Frontal Aviation have been as good as their word, and disrupt the now diminished Panzer Keil...

However the Luftwaffe have been busier, launching strike after strike at the crossing points. 

Occasionally bailing a KV, but not actually destroying one. They are hurting the infantry and AT guns though..

Meanwhile at the left flank crossing, the light opposition is putting up a fight and selling themselves dear - no easy crossing here for the lone PzIII platoon.

With time running out, rather than wait for the detached PzIIIs, the PzIV platoon advances to the centre crossing alone, Grenadiers moving up in support.

Cue Frontal Aviation once again, who, combined with the KV-1s, whittle down the PzIVs.

The surviving PzIVs close on the crossing sites, still resolutely defended...

But are held on the banks by the KV-1s. 

Which just goes to show that attack, even with just a handful of T-70s, can be the best form of defence!


  1. Enjoyed your table and pics - thanks. I typically handle T70 type lights very badly!

    1. Hi Norm - glad you enjoyed it. Yes they were very lucky in this scenario to find and exploit an overlooked flank...

  2. What a great game. I do like Pz IIIs with skirt armour.

    1. Thanks Martin. Yes the PzIII is something of a work horse and I'm very pleased with how these came out. Unfortunately the late model PzIIIs with schurzen are pretty limited on scope - Eastern Front 1943 is about it, but they do look good, and are fairly useful...