Thursday 16 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....


  1. A fine table, the scale works really well for this subject. Have your Victrix T-34’s arrived yet? I was speaking withe company and they have some KV-1 getting tooled, which will then give them the chassis for some later model vehicles.

    1. Hi Norm, thanks so much for your kind comment. We are in agreement about 12 mike mike scale for armoured wargaming! Yes my Victrix T-34s have arrived and I am very pleased with them! Finally I will be able to properly swarm Tigers! Great news about the KVs too...

  2. Very nicely laid out and reported. Bayreuth was not a pleasant place to be that day. Hopefully Kulmbach and its castle was spared such a gathering. Fun report, my old stomping grounds mid 1970's, with the 1st AD. Awaiting chapter 2.

    1. Thanks mate - didn't realise you had served there with Old Ironsides - Respect Sir! Yes I think for chapter two I may up the ante with T-80s! But I will wait until I can properly model some US mech infantry...