Saturday, May 4, 2019

Action approaching Tula, 1941

Of Marshall Katukov, the record says: "On the onset of the war he took command of the 4th Tank Brigade. In the battle of Moscow in 1941, it was Katukov's Tank Brigade, then part of the 1st Guards Rifle Corps, that checked the advance of Guderian's Panzergruppe 2 near Tula. "

And so the scene was set for last night's Spearhead game, my Germans attacking Keith's newly painted Soviet forces. I've taken a liberty there with the reference to Katukov, because Keith's force was taken from an infantry division organisation. It does however make the point that there were pockets of competence, and even brilliance, in those early days of Soviet defence.

The Germans were executing a hasty attack against a Russian force of three infantry battalions and an armoured brigade.  Andy commanded the Soviet right, and Keith the left, while Jim commanded the German left and I took the right, with the deep armoured thrust. The forces were relatively thin on the ground after several weeks of hard campaigning, and division hd allocated strong artillery forces to the attack to try to shoot the ground forces onto their objectives.

Jim advanced with a motorised infantry battalion, while the German left wing attack had a motorised infantry battalion and a Panzer battalion cross attached. The infantry heavy battalion was to advance into what as expected tp be the strongest part of the Soviet defence, while the tank heavy battalion was to conduct a deep flank march.

The simple German plan, the German forces attacking from the left

The German frontal part of their left wing attack, expecting heavy resistance from the ridge just above the top of the photo

Soviet infantry deployed in the larger town

The German right wing pushes forward

The Soviet right

Action is joined on the German right with the Soviets opening fire

Action heats up

The ridge which was expected to be the main part of the Soviet defence on their right

The Soviets withdraw in the face of the German right wing attack

Keith's newly painted Soviet infantry looking sharp... nice work!!

The German right flank infantry battalion, the Schwere company platoons of StuG IIIs in support

The German left flank approaches the Soviet positions

The deep flank march enters behind the Soviet lines

The main fire fight begins.

While on the right ....

The Soviets commit their armoured brigade which had been held in reserve: T28s and T26s

The Soviet armour pushes forward

The battle continues on the German left. The artillery upon whom so much was dependent failed repeatedly to answer calls .. partisan activity already?

Actin is joined between the Soviet armoured reserve and the deep flank march panzer battalion

Things are getting hot and messy on the German right in what was originally intended to be simply a pinning action

And the action is definitely heating on on the left. A Soviet AT platoon (45mm guns) has accounted for two platoons of Pz IVs

On the right ..

Very ugly and messy

O.. oh..

Wow.. intense ..

The Soviets (random morale) had turned out to be green, but inspired by their Commissars, they held, surviving a . morale check...

Armoured action, each side taking losses. The Soviet armour came up as 'Regular', as had their left flank battalion facing the German right.. 
And the German right flank is stretched too...

We hd to call the game at this stage. The VP situation favoured the Soviets 5:2 in what had been a really interesting action.

My choice of attack list for the Germans was most probably too heavy on artillery, and needed more troops on the ground. We had both take an Option A, mine being a battalion of 170 mm guns for Counter Battery work. Keith had done likewise. His CB had been spectacularly successful, eliminating a complete battalion of German 105mm guns, while mine had eliminated one battery of his CB 152mm, and suppressing the other. The German artillery, normally reasonably successful, was a dismal failure, suffering repeated die rolls of 1 or 2 to acquire. Andy on the other hand had a series of rolls of 5 or 6 to acquire, and then hit, the German artillery.

Such is the 'gaming life'... and what a great game it was.

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