Thursday, June 18, 2015

9th Panzer on the Road to Dunkirk

A Headless Body Production

Flames of War After Action Report: Leichte Panzerkompanie vs Compagnie de Fusiliers-Voltigeurs (Active)
Location: Regency at Providence Community Center, Phoenixville, Pa
Game: Flames of War, Early War 1390 points

Mission: Hasty Attack
Players: Phil Gardocki, Leichte Panzerkompanie (
              Bruce Potter/Steve Turn,
Compagnie de Fusiliers-Voltigeurs  (defender)

The Forces: 3rd Leichte Panzerkompanie Kompanie, 1st Abteilung, 33rd Panzer Regiment, 9th Panzer Division  (defender) 5 Zugs containing 4 Panzerbefehlswagens, a recovery vehicle, 6 Pz I’s, 13 Pz IIc’s,  9 Kradschutzen teams (6 MG’s, Mortar, Light AT, and Leader).  

The French were running the Compagnie de Fusiliers-Voltigeurs (attacker) 9 platoons containing 3 R-35’s, 5 Panhard’s,  28 infantry teams, 4 75mm towed guns, 3 mortars, 2 4.7cm SA-37 antitank, 3 2.5 SA-34 antitank, and 4 MG teams.

Scenario:  Following the French Retreat along the Rue Nationale, near the coastal town of Zuydcoote.

The Board: The coastal town of Zuydcoote, where French forces have established a blocking force to deny access to the Rue Charles Pichon leading to Dunkirk.
The town of Zuydcoote.  The Rue Charles Pichon runs long ways in the French deployment area.  At the bottom along the wood line are are 2.5cm AT guns.  The rails are possibly a fireworks launcher, maybe set up for Bastille Day?  In the distance are an infantry platoon heading for the woods and a Panhard Squadron on the road.
A close up of the east side of the board. 
The Germans will have to make of note of the "Fireworks" launcher.  They may have a use for it in a year or four.
In the German deployment area, the Kradschutzen deploy on the German left flank.  Supporting a Kampfgruppe of Panzer I's, II's and Motorcycles.

German Kampfgruppe forms up to assault the second objective.

Deployment full table view. 
Both sides have half their forces in reserve.  The French reserves are in "Scattered, Delay" status, while the Germans are normal.

Reconnaissance Move:
The Panhards stay on the road, keeping their high speed options open.  The Kradschutzen move out on the reconnaissance move, but have little where to go. 

Turn 1:
No German reserves arrive.  The noise of two stroke engines is deafening as the Kradschutzen race forward to the objective.
The Kradschutzen threaten the left side objective, but this is just a feint to keep the Anti Tank guns and fast firing 75's on this side of the board.
While the Panzer II Zug gets to hose down the French infantry on this side of the woods, while remaining mostly out of range of the French AT assets.
While the Kampfgruppe get to hose down the other side.
While the Germans focus two Zugs (Platoons) of Panzers on the French Infantry, they score many hits, but no kills, and just pin them.
The French shoot at the Kradshutzen.  Using their reconnaissance ability they disengage before being shot too badly.

And while the Panzer II Zug was out of range of most of the French 75's, they were close enough and 2 tanks were destroyed.
And while the Panzer II Zug was out of range of most of the French 75's, they were close enough and 2 tanks were destroyed by well aimed fire.
The Panhards travel a bit down the road and start shooting their 25's at the German Leichte Tank Zug.

Turn 2:
German reserves arrive. A Light Tank Platoon (Lichte Panzer Zug).  The reserves race up the center of the board, but are too far away to engage anyone.

The Germans pull the remains of their Panzer II Zug away from the 75's, circling around the center woods to assist the Kampfgruppe, but will not play a part in this turn.  

With the Panhards coming into range it is time to reveal the nicest part of the Panzer II, a Rate of Fire of 3!  2 Panhards blow up, 2 more are bailed.  While the Panzerbefehlswagens and Panzer I's hose the infantry generously with machine gun fire.  The plucky French stay on the field with the help of their Company Commander with the Motivation Check.

But the French retaliate and manage to destroy 4 panzers, causing a Motivation Check.  The Germans pass, but pull out of the line to the cover of the woods on the right flank.

The Panhards are two dead and one alive.  But heeded the urging of their Company Commander and stay in the field.

To good effect, as four panzers were destroyed.  The German Second in Command pulls his zug out to go around the right flank.
A view from the German Reserve Platoon.
Turn 3:
German reserves arrive, another Lichte Panzer Zug.  They double-time around the woods on the right flank to join the German Company Commander.  The reserves from the previous turn take advantage of the smoking ruins of the burning panzers as cover and continue to hose the French infantry with MG fire.  

The French Panhards line up to face the flanking Germans.

The German Company Commander and the remains of the Panzer II Platoon head for the right flank.  The remains of the 2iC's Platoon are taking cover behind the woods.

Taking shots at the infantry while receiving cover from the smoking tanks.  To the right, the German Company Commander's tank complete their flank march and start coming in from the side.  Another Panhard blows up, and the rest of the armored cars flee the field.
Turn 4:
German reserves arrive, the last Lichte Panzer Zug.  This is looking good for a massive assault on the French infantry with 3 Panzer Platoons.  The only thing that can save them is their own reserves.  But with "Delayed" and "Scattered" Reserves those odds are slim.

Of course, that is what happened.  The French 4.7cm AT guns arrive, behind the definitely and inarguably bullet proof walls.  Lots of shooting occurs, but no real casualties.

Further French reserves arrive, 3 R-35's on the left flank.

The German Company Commander pushing the remains of the 2iC's Zug in front, and reinforced by reserve Leichte Zug.
Left flank arrival of the R-35's off in the distance. 
French 4.7's arrive behind the walls.

Turn 5:
French reserves arrive, 3 R-35's on the left flank.  The begin to head towards the German objective, which is guarded by Kradschutzen.

On the right flank, the Germans decide to assault the 4.7 guns.  Risking bog checks and bails, they destroy the two guns, but not the platoon leader, and with the help of the French Company Commander, stay on the board.

First assault in progress.  The first French 4.7 gun is destroyed, the second is in progress.

Meanwhile, the R-35's, which are classified as slow tanks, grind forward.
Turn 6:
The Germans launch their big assault.
Three assaults on the French infantry platoon.  At the end, the French are dug out of their trenches, but still fighting, and the the objective (the crashed V-1 prototype) is now contested.
The Kradschutzen dodge left.

Turn 7:
To cover the objective, the Kradschutzen now must make a stand.

They take their lumps.

And being recon, buggered out before the armored monsters.

The R-35's, now facing zero opposition close in on the objective.

At this point we called it.  Even if the Germans cleaned out French infantry platoon on the right flank off of the objective, there was a another French unit that would be able to contest the objective one more turn, so the timing was going to have this as a French win on the left flank. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Something You Don't See Everyday

Here is something you don't see everyday.  We were traveling down Route 100, Pennsylvania, and this is what was parked in the local Harley Davidson dealership:

Sturmgeschütz III
The conversation in the car went as follows:
"Oh my god, we have to stop back at the Harley dealership on the way back."
"Why, because of the blood drive."
"No they have a Sturmgeschütz, you must have missed it because of the cammo."
My wife then pulled over to turn around.
"Thanks, but you don't have to do it now."
"It may not be there when we get back."
"It's a World War II tank, they don't move much!"

I am glad she did, and it was an impressive piece to look out.  I have found out today it is actually a replica built for the "Band of Brothers" mini series.  It was really good though, down to the Zimmerit anti-magnetic coating.

Close up of the forward port side, note the zimmerit coating.

This STG-III is owed by the 9th Reenactment Society which reenacts the 9th SS "Hohenstaufen" Division.
They generously provided the transport and setup in an effort to gather attention for a blood drive being run at the Harley Davidson Dealership.  Kudos to all involved.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Patton's forces meet the Germans at Beaumont

A Headless Body Production

Flames of War After Action Report: 4th Armored vs Panzerspah Lehr
Location: 1 Up Collectables, Reading PA
Game: Flames of War, Late War 1000 points
Mission: Encounter
Players: Colin Gallen, 4th Armored (
              Josh Hair Panzerspah Lehr

The Forces:  The II/8th Battalion, CCA, 4th Armored, with one platoon of 4 Shermans (76mm), one platoon of Shermans (75mm), 2 M-18's from the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and a command staff of 2 Shermans (75mm) and one with a 105mm gun.

The Armored Reconnaissance company from the Panzer Lehr Division, consisting of 9 Pumas bolstered by 3 Panthers.

Scenario:  A demo game simulating the attack of the 4 Armored Division towards Bastogne, in which it encounters elements of the elite Panzer Lehr Division.

The Board: Just south of Bastogne, Beaumont is a small village that till now, has avoided the ravages of war.  The town is at the center of the board, with at stream and woods to the east, and some semi walled fields to the west.

Beaumont after deployment.  Americans to the right, Germans to the left.  Panthers at the bottom on the west side Puma's along the towns edge.  A line of Shermans prepare to invest the town.
The Panthers are deployed in the west edge of the board.

The Shermans are all deployed in a row.

Recon Move:
The German Pumas move forward mostly taking cover behind buildings, but the cover is not very universally available.  The American Tank Destroyer armored car and jeep speed into town, then take the east road out again.

Turn 1:
The American 76mm Platoon shifts left, which has the effect of uncovering 3 Pumas.  Reinforced by the CIC and 2IC and using Stabilizers, they double fire looking for 5's, killing the German Company Commander and destroying two other Pumas.  Not to be out done, the Germans shift their Panthers, and almost forced the the retirement of the Sherman 76mm platoon by destroying one and bailing 3 others.  This forced a platoon check, which the Americans narrowly passed with the help from a Company Commander reroll.
The Pumas didn't have as much cover as they thought.
The Panthers reply, 1 dead, 3 bailed, and a Platoon Morale Check.

Turn 2:
The citizens of Beaumont were witnessed to a knife fight as the Shermans and Pumas weaved in and out of the alleyways and back yards.  The Shermans moving to uncover the Pumas and firing on the move with their stabilizers needing 5's, and the Pumas moving to attack the flanks getting only 1 shot each, but only needing 3's.  In the end the thicker hides took the day as all the Pumas were on fire, with the loss of two Shermans.
Call the fire department, it doesn't matter where, the fires are everywhere!
Turn 3:
While all this was going on, the American 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion traveled unmolested on the east road, then north, circling around the pond, and captured the objective.

The Panthers, went for maximum cover, and and two backed into a building awaiting more targets to show up.  But it didn't matter, the Germans had lost, either the top of turn 4 for a objective win, or bottom of 4 with a company morale failure.  It was a 6-1 win for the Americans. 
With most of the German Recon vehicles destroyed, the Panthers decide to reduce their flank vulnerability by pulling into the nearby houses.  The third is hiding behind a burning Puma.
End game.  Off in the distance, and unfortunately off the left side of the frame, the M-18's hold the objective, while most of the Pumas are burning.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Assault on Chernobyl, 9th Panzer Division vs 304th Rifle Division

A Headless Body Production

Flames of War After Action Report: Leichte Panzerkompanie vs Strelkovy Batalon
Location: Phils Basement
Game: Flames of War, Early War 1600 points
Mission: Fighting Withdrawal
Players: Phil Gardocki, Leichte Panzerkompanie (
              Steve Turn, Soviet
Strelkovy (defender)

The Forces: The 3rd Leichte Panzerkompanie, 1st Abteilung, 33rd Panzer Regiment, 9th Panzer Division. 5 Zugs containing 3 Panzerbefehlswagens, a recovery vehicle, 4 Pz I’s, 10 Pz IIc’s, 4 Pz IIIe’s, 9 Kradschutzen teams with 6 R/MG’s, Mortar, Light AT, and Leader.  Morale and training level: Confident Veteran.

The 1/807 Strelkovy Batalon, 304th Rifle Division (formally the 109th Mechanized Division) 7 companies with a combined total of 59 Rifle teams, 10 T-26's, 10 45mm AT guns, 5 Komissars, 5 Maksim HMG teams, 3 Flame-throwers and a mortar. Morale and training level: Confident Conscript.

Scenario:  To cut off the major city of Kiev, 9th Panzer is attacking the newly formed Soviet 304th Rifle Division near the small town of Chernobyl.

The Board: Just south of the huge Pripyat marshes, Chernobyl is astride the Pripyat river, and is at one of the crossing points needed of to successfully surround Kiev, which is being defended by many Soviet Armies.  Chernobyl was a major town at one time, but the mass killings during Stalin's collectivization campaign, and in the Holodomor (famine) that followed has left it in ruins occupied by a small colony of Jews.

The board as viewed from the south.  Chernobyl is in the north, astride the head waters of the Pripyat River.

The board as viewed from the north. 

The mostly abandoned and ruined town of Chernobyl.
Apologies for the poor pictures.  My normal camera was off on another adventure, and I used my son's IPod for these.  It was OK for stills, but less forgiving if I was in a hurry.

Kapitän Klaus Krinkle pulled himself out of the hatch and surveyed the nearby town, and looked disgustedly at both his Herr issued map, and the captured map from a captured Soviet soldier.  Trying to compare the two was impossible.  The only thing he knew was that this was Chernobyl, and the headwaters of the Priypyat river.  Why cross here?  Kiev was 50 miles away.  This was too far away to support the encirclement of the Soviet forces there.  All high command would say was that the SEOO* ordered it.

He heard an oncoming motorcycle and waved.  The driver pulled alongside and shut off the engine.  The passenger got out of the sidecar and gave his legs a stretch.  "Herr Schultz, have we any sign of the enemy?" Klaus asked.

"Yes Herr Kapitän, it seems that we have beaten him to the Priypyat River.  They are now massing to the west of the town."

"That is good, they won't have a river line as an advantage.  It is amazing we beat them here, considering our maps of this area are not good, and..." He stopped to stare at the captured map in his hand, "Apparently their maps aren't either."  However this could explain much on how the Soviets were fighting, if they are using these maps, then they were as lost as we are in their own country.  So much for a home field advantage.  

"So who are we fighting today?"  Do we have a composition of the enemy?" queried Klaus. 

"The prisoners we have taken say they belong to the 304th Rifle Division.  The forces here seem to be composed of a battalion of infantry, but with an excessive amount of anti tank guns and half a company of light tanks." 

"Any T-34's or KV's?"

"No, Herr Kapitän"

"Any sign of the 109th Mechanized Division?"

"No, Herr Kapitän.  The 109 seems to have disappeared from the planet.  But the tanks may have belonged to them."

"That would be good, then they won't fight well together."  observed Klaus, then he ordered, "Inform the Zug commanders of your findings, I'll send orders shortly."

 "Ya vol, Herr Kapitän"

The motorcycle receded in the distance in the direction of a cluster of several more sidecar mounted motorcycles as Leutnant Schultz carried out his orders.  Klaus didn't like having to recross the the Priypyat again.  The bridge was not in good repair.  

Where is the 109th Mechanized?  They were chasing it, when they ran into the 304th Rifle.  Running into a Rifle Division was nothing new, His panzers were bound to overrun the foot troops, but the 109th couldn't have gone north, into the biggest swamp in the world, and he would have had reports if they went south.  It's almost as if they just renamed the thing, just to drive him nuts.  Just like the maps.

 Soviet setup.  Pretty much board edge to board edge, and up to 6 ranks deep.
Deployment view from the south.  The 9th Panzer is concentrated on the right.
From bottom to top, Leichte Panzer Platoon, Panzer II Platoon, Kradschutzen Platoon, Panzer III Platoon and furthest to the north, another Leichte Panzer Platoon.

Situation: What to do?  When I set up the board I expected to give Steve the river advantage, but he chose opposite side instead.  I guess with fighting withdrawal time is on his side, and I had to first cross the Pripyat River first.  It is only slow going in the north, then becomes a bog check in the middle, then a skill check where it widens.  The problem with crossing at the shallows is that it leads right into the town.  Between defending infantry and their 2" no go bubble, all that slow going and thin alleyways there is going to be some serious traffic problems.  

I decided that the middle objective would be where I would try to win the game.  But I set the deployment up to look like I was going for the northern objective.  I'll see what I can lure north, maybe even get the ambush to pop there

Recon Move:
 Not much of one, as soon as I cross the bridge, I am then within sight and 16".

Turn 1:
I am going to miss not having Stukas for this one.  It would be easy to get 6 under the template everywhere.  I pushed the 3 platoons into the town, and the other two crossed the river south of the town to trade shots with the 45mm guns on the hill.

The crossing of the Pripyat buys the Soviets time.  As my Panzer I's, Panzerbefehlswagens, and Kradschutzen all move 4" in slow going.  But my forces threw out a considerable amount of MG fire, hitting conscripts, gone to ground and concealed is a 4.  I managed to pin one of the Strelkovy companies and the 45mm guns, but nothing killed.

The Soviet response is measured.  The battery on the hill kills a Panzer II.  The larger 6 gun battery hasn't been revealed.

My original thought here was to run the Panzer III's into the buildings.  But I had second thoughts on the number of skill check rolls that would involve.  The Kradschutzen was going to spread out to prevent any ambushes.
Leichte Platoon crosses north of Chernobyl, heading towards the northern objective.

The Leichte and Panzer II Platoon crosses south of Chernobyl, heading towards the center objective.
The 45mm AT battery on the hill kills one Panzer II and bails another.
Turn 2:
The 9th Panzer aggressively pushes into the town.  I am hoping to double assault and possibly rout the defenders.  I should have looked at the numbers better.

That's about 27 dice of MG fire.  This pins the Soviets, but not a single stand is killed.
The Panzer II's knock off another AT gun on the hill, pinning the platoon.

The more expendable elements of a Leichte Panzer Platoon approach for the assault.  The combined MG fire is 17 shots, which fails to pin the Strelkovy, or cause a single casualty.
Leichte Panzers assault, followed closely by their Panzer II's.  They killed a couple of stands, but were beaten back in the counter assault.
The ambush is revealed, 6 45mm at guns north of the town.  Killing 3 tanks of a Leichte Panzer Platoon.  The surviving 2 panzers pass their motivation and will pull back.
While the Soviet tank company is moving down the road, flanking the other Leichte Panzer Platoon.

Turn 3:
The initial assault didn't go as expected.  There are too few panzers and too many of them.  Worse, the slow moving T-26's are now close enough to intervene.  Only their bunched formation and Hens and Chicks is keeping them from being a decisive factor right now.  The 9th Panzer liberally douses all the Strelkovy with MG fire, some 30 dice, but still fails to get a single kill. 

If it is worth doing once, it is worth doing again.  Shot them MG fire and assault.  The MG fire scores nothing, but the assault kills a few stands before the Strelkovy Platoon breaks off.
I know this is a very bad picture, but it shows the Panzer III's, which have only been placeholders so far, leaving town in a redeployment to the center of the board.  The Kradschutzen hunker down to keep the Strelkovy company from redeploying.
The Panzer III platoon leader and a follower double time it and get all the way to the center.  In the top of the frame, are the results of the 2nd assault.
The Soviet T-26 company, decided to spread out a bit but hiding behind the hill.
Turn 4:
There are a lot of dead Strelkovy on the board, but not enough to force a motivation check.  So the center panzers assault again, killing more, forcing another break off, but no motivation failure.  On the high note, the center objective is now contested.  On a low note, those T-26's are almost there as well.
Into the breach once more.

Down to two guns, the Strelkovy 45 AT guns are withdrawn per the Fighting Withdrawal mission parameters,  But they were within 8 inches of the 9th Panzer, and so had to pass a motivation check, which they failed.  The 9th Panzer has it's first point.  The Strelkovy underneath the hill are not dug in.
A single Panzer III joins in the fray.
The center objective is secured!
The Panzer II's assault the other Strelkovy platoon, but one panzer gets double bailed and destroyed.
The T-26's take up firing positions.  About half of them can shoot.
And they are very effective.  2 dead, 2 bailed.  A successful motivation check is the only thing that keeps the 2nd Leichte Platoon in play.

Turn 5:
Shots are traded back an forth.  The end result is the Strelkovy defending the south and center objectives fled the field, but considerable damage was done to the Panzer forces.

Two Panzer III's, under cover, kill one T-26, and bail another.  The combined fire with the Panzer II's on the hill is 2 dead, 2 bailed.

The T-26's fire back, destroying the 2nd Leichte Panzer Platoon.
And a Panzer III.
Turn 6:
More shots traded.  The Tankovy is taken to it's limits, but it survives to take out both a Leichte Panzer and Panzer III platoons.
A single Panzer I and a PanzerDammitVagon face half a T-26 company.

The score is 2 units dead on each side.  The only viable AT force the Germans have are 4 Panzer II's on the center objective.

The remaining Panzer II's triple fire the T-26's, killing 3 more.  The Soviet Tankovy failed it's motivation check, and fled the field.  The remaining Leichte Panzer Platoon, down to a single Panzer I and the command tank storm trooper to the southern objective.  The two remaining Soviet Strelkovy Platoons are buttoned up in the north.  Covered by the MG's of the Kradschutzen and the Company Commanders tank.  They could do nothing.  So either by company failure or by the 9th Panzer taking the final objective, the 304th lost this fight, 4-3.

End game.  The Tankovy Company is destroyed by the remaining Panzer II's.  Leaving the 9th Panzer in control of the both the center and southern objectives.  The center objective was removed according to the scenario parameters, but there is nothing the Soviets can do about the southern one.  The 9th Panzer wins, 4-3.
* SEOO: Search Engine Optimization Officer.