Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Operation Blau : Battle for Volovo :June 1942

We managed to play the first of our Voronezh campaign battles over the weekend.

Hermann Balck's 11th Panzer Division close to the town of Volovo is about to be squeezed between the 1st and 16th Soviet Tank Corps. Historically although the Russians had significant numerical superiority they were surprised by the recently improved German tanks including PzIIIJ's and PzIVF2's. The terrain was particularly well suited to long range tank combat and the Germans made the most of it picking off the Russian T34's at long range. According to the fairly limited information I have on the battle the German Panzers were supported 88mm Flak guns attached to Max Roth's 15 Panzer regiment.

We are using Blitzkrieg commander again as our rule set and using basic scenarios from the rule book as our basis, we played this as a "basic attack" by the Russians giving them 50% more troops than the Germans. To give some historical feel the terrain is very flat and open giving wide open fields of view and long ranges. The Germans have improved tanks but due to the extra points they are heavily outnumbered. The Russians were poorly co-ordinated so have a low command leadership. The Germans have a battalion of strong 88mm Flak guns (sadly due to work pressures I was unable to get the proper models painted in time so we had to substitute smaller anti-tank guns). The Russians are allowed to bring one of their three tank brigades on from the northern flank, representing the 1st Tank Corps under Katukov. The other two tank brigades 16th Tank Corp would enter from the East.

Overview of the wide and flat battlefield Volovo on the right
With BC you have to roll against your leadership to activate units but early on the Russians were still able to make a deep flank attack with the 1st Tank Corps and they aimed a strong tank brigade straight towards the small hamlet on the German left flank.
15 Panzer Regiment dug in with supporting 88mm Flak Guns
As soon as the 16th Tank Corps hits the open they come under heavy fire
To counter the flank attack the Germans move into the hamlet (built up area) and dig any tanks to slow to get under cover soon fell victim to Russian T34's.

German left flank digs in !
In the centre the two tank brigades heading directly across the table soon realised that they were out gunned by the 88's and the Panzers under cover in the small corm field. This forced the Russian to push right and try and advance to the north of the main road.

Tough fighting around the hamlet

German casualties are mounting up

Russian advance using the hedged field as cover
Both sides were now starting to take significant casualties. The problem being for the Germans that a break test would be required when only 7 units had been taken out.

German left flank becoming more exposed

Panzers start to move to re-enforce the left flank
By this stage of hte battle it was clear it was going to be a very close finish both sides were close to breaking and the battlefield is littered with burning tanks.

Wrecked tanks right across the battlefield
At this point close to turn 8 the official end the Germans had lost nearly all their armour on the left flank and reached their breakpoint, luckily they passed the test and had one more turn to inflict damage on the Soviets, they too hit their breakpoint but also passed.

the End ! Soviet withdraw ?
As we had reached the end of turn 8 we declared a close, night fall saw the remaining Russian Tanks withdraw under darkness, they had inflicted considerable damage on the Germans but had failed to take the objective.

A great first battle in the mini campaign close but hard for both sides and could easily have gone either way. The 88's were really powerful and the extra range was decisive. The battle was surprisingly close to the historical outcome. The Russian throwing everything in but were unable to make their superior numbers count.


  1. Another great AAR...and as well as the lovely terrain and figs I keep finding myself admiring your backdrop! Really must find myself something similar!

    1. Thanks G it was just self painted with cheap hobby shop acrylics. Secret is to use a big brush and work quickly not worrying about detail. I keep planning to paint the other side, but never get round to it.