Monday, 9 October 2017

Barbarossa tag : 22nd June 1941

For those interested in WW2 the invasion by Germany of Mother Russia is perhaps the most climactic, devastating and ultimately tragic campaigns of the war. Putting aside (as we gamers do) the horror and futility of modern conflict on this scale is it one of the most interesting and fruitful parts of the war. We have already, and plan to continue, fighting the major tank battles which characterised much of the conflict in 6mm scale. Most recently some of the major tank battles in 1943.

However, we have been looking at options to expand our gaming using my ever growing early war german army. Given uniform variations were common and the general equipment remained the same it is an easy leap to use my Wehrmacht infantry on the Russian front. Much of their armour would also be the same with the addition of the latest Panzer III's and more heavily armed Panzer IV's. Luckily Steve a regular in the dungeon is quite obsessive with all things Russian so a new project has been born.
One area of the Campaign that we both know little about is Army Group North so we have chosen to very loosely base our battles around the exploits of the 18th and 16th Armies as they advance towards Leningrad and are then thrown back. This very broad campaign setting allows us to play a wide range of scenarios and collect yet more lovely stuff πŸ˜€

We are both planning the inevitable expansion of forces and of course terrain to give that Eastern European feel. But we thought we would dive in for a first battle. Somewhere on the Lithuania Border in the early morning of 22nd June a small mixed force of Germans have caught the Russians napping, their objective is clear to breakthrough as quickly as possible. We played a very standard scenario from the Bolt Action rule book, the preliminary bombardment pinned some of the defenders but the rest would require real determination.
Russian infantry alerted by the early morning bombardment move tentatively forward, urged on by thier units Commissar, these troops are the front line against the invasion but have had little time to prepare any significant defence.
Eastern Europe a rural agricultural land of almost medieval appearance (I need to create some different roads)
Blitzkrieg in action, infantry of the 18th Army with support swarm across the Russian border, thier objective to breakthrough the thin line of defenders
Awaiting reinforcements Stefanavich the Commissar urges his troops forward with political dogma !
German mortars start to rain down shells
On the right flank the ground is poorly defended and the infantry soon make it to the road with no casualties
But the reinforcements are now starting to appear.........a dubious vintage armoured car which is immediate blown to pieces
But more worrying for the Germans two BT7 light tanks and an anti-tank gun
On the german side the current king of the battlefield a Panzer III moves gradually down the road looking for more targets
On the German left flank, rather than siting back disillusioned the Russian infantry have been encouraged to recklessly advance, taken by surprise the Germans are caught on the back foot ! Things are not going to plan 😬
Russian tanks spread out but their guns are pretty ineffective against the heavier Germans tanks.
On the right the german infantry continues to push forward to attempt to break through....it is not clear at this stage whether in their enthusiasm the Russians have taken their eye of the ball ?
In the nick of time the the german commander realises his position is being out flanked....
The only option is to run !
On the road the tanks exchange shells but in the smoke and early morning mist nothing seems to hit home
In a futile vodka induced attempt to throw the invaders back Stefanavich charges the front of the Panzer.....armed only with his pistol and a home made hand grenade...needless to say the Tank barely registers the attack
German forces are regrouping on the left flank to hold back the Russians
The StugIII is supported by an MG34 hidden in the longer grass, but in the distance more infantry are massing to assault
Staggering from his assault Stefanavich hasn't noticed the german commander rushing towards him...
Breakthrough ? The german infantry is getting closer to the finish line
Unable to knock out the Panzer the BT7 has closed the range but still is unable to take it out, the German commander after a brief fight has finished Stefanavich off and is attempting to rejoin the main infantry units.
On the left the second BT7 is now burning having been hit by an HE shell from the Stug the Infantry advance has been slowed as they get pinned down
Patriotic fervour under the Red flag ......
The Russians continue to advance bypassing the Stug and assaulting the machine gun position
A final shot of the battle, one unit of Germans managed to break through completely, the second was almost wiped out by Russian cross fire. A single BT7 stubbornly survived the battle and was able to pull back with increasing numbers of advancing Germans.

We totalled up the points, a draw ! we didn't care as we had a lot of fun, the Russians clearly drank a lot of vodka before the battle and their enthusiastic and crazy advance against the odds paid off. I am sure they can recruit another Commissar soon, Stefanavich having been awarded his posthumous 'Hero of the Soviet Union' medal. I am off to make some more fences and Russian buildings πŸ˜€



21 comments:

  1. In the words of Unteroffizier Feldwebel Rolf Steiner "good kill". Superb.

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    1. Thanks John a tight battle......which I thought the Germans would win easily to start with πŸ™‚

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  2. Another fine looking game, Matt! I will be following your Early War exploits closely.

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    1. Thanks Jonathan hope for more battles soon πŸ˜€

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  3. A great AAR! Single combat between the leaders? Shades of an earlier age. :)

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    1. Yes not quite sure how that happened......the Russian was clearly drunk !πŸ™‚

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  4. Genius, uncle Joe would be proud, and then straight to siberia to nice holiday gulag

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    1. He had certainly drunk a lot of vodka to keep warm !

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  5. Superb Matt, absolutly superb, these pictures are outstanding, beautiful terrain and minis!

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    1. Merci Phil you are very kind πŸ™‚

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  6. Beautiful looking game Matt. Just super!

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  7. Lovely looking game, just starting my bolt action soviets so this is a nice nudge, scenery looks very good too!
    Best Iain

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    1. Excellent I would just plan on lots of infantry. Hopefully some more Eastern European terrain soon πŸ˜€

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  8. Certainly looks good. Looking forward to seeing some great big, and useless, Soviet tanks rumbling forward/breaking down in future games. And some flying 'Rata' soaring overhead and ramming the BFs out of the Luftwaffe.

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    1. Cheers Roy yes all of what you describe is planned for the future πŸ˜€

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  9. Excellent looking battle and a good AAR! Champion work!
    I've not played Bolt Action (I think that's the rules you said you use to play) but I was surprised by a couple of points; the Soviet 45mm gun had trouble penetrating the armour of the of these model Pz IIIs & IVs and also the STUG used HE to take out a BT 7 which isn't impossible with its lighter armour but I would have expected HEAT ammo to be used...remember I'm ignorant of these rules....

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    1. Thanks.....yes the rules are bolt action. We enjoy them but too simple for some. As for the soviet antitank efforts in bolt action you have to hit the target first and thensee if you penetrate Stefanavich seemed to roll a lot of 1,s πŸ˜€ The Stug at this time in the rules only has HE and has a very low chance of knocking out a BT7 as you rightly point out. The german commander however seemed to roll a 6 ! We actually discussed at the time the unlikely event and made the assumption that the crew had left the top hatches open and the HE shell had by some chance exploded right above the tank killing the crew. It was a desparate and lucky hit from the Germans to stabilise their flank. Well spotted πŸ˜€

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    2. Thanks for taking the time to reply Matt!

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