Back to back Russian hordes? What a nightmare. This time my opponent chose the classic attack posture and we ended up with a Bridgehead mission, with me defending.
I couldn't get a pdf of his list, so I took a picture.
His force consisted of a T-34 HQ, three platoons of 7 T-34s (each with three 85s), armoured cars and T-70s in support, and a flight of two Shturmoviks (FINALLY, my flak have a raison détre).
I kept my Tigers and one grenadier platoon in reserve.
I mined the entire approach on my right flank, and sent out my recon to blunt any push he might make up my right flank, where I also had a deep gully to protect me from assault. With the limited options for placing objectives, I was able to cover them both with one grenadier platoon and (foreshadowing), more importantly, the front infantry gun from the platoon that I placed on the bluff behind the objectives was also able to cover both objectives. The mortars and the flak took cover behind the bluff and the HQ joind the IG's. I kept my pak40s in ambush for later.
As expected, the T-70's and the BA-10s rudhed up my left flank and stopped just short of the forest. The T-34s found what clear spaces they could in their deployment zone and prepared to charge.
The scout element raced forward, with the BA-10s going around the forest, and the T-70s trying to go through it (two made it in). Between them, they bailed two of my recon platoon. The leader managed to remount and the two AC's prudently left their comrade to his fate. The mortars wanted to bombard the BA-10s, the only Russian unit they had a chance of harming, but weren't quite bloodthirsty enough to rain shells down on the dismounted 222. Meanwhile, my grenadiers braced for the impact of many tens of tons of Russian steel screaming across the farmland toward them.
The BA-10s and T-70s inched forward, raking my recon platoon with fire as they came. One 222 blew up and the other two were bailed, but they were doing their job of delaying the flanking force. In the centre, the leftmost T-34 squadron came under bombardment from the infantry guns, who with their preset co-ordinates, managed to bail one tank.
The leader of the recon unit managed to remount, though the 222 behind the forest did not, made his last stand test, and hot-wheeled it back to the central bluff, seeking the support of his CO. The T-34s ringed my grenadier platoon, who were slowly losing teams to the hail of incoming gunfire from all 22 tanks but managed to do some damage to any who got too close to their 'schreks and 'fausts, and prepared for a concerted assault. The CO desperately radioed for reinforcements, but none came.
In come the first two assaults and, though thoroughly pinned and missing a few men, my grenadiers manage to repel both, destroying a few bailed tanks in the left-most squadron when they lose their nerve and retreat. The right-most squadron chooses to assault the infantry guns on the hill and manage to take one out, with no losses, before they too retreat before the wrath of my counter-assaulting HQ section. Finally, my CO's pleas are heard and two Tigers rumble onto the field of battle on my far right flank and take cover in a small wood.
Meanwhile, on my left flank, the BA-10s are still wary of my bailed 222 (or maybe it's the flak guns waiting around the corner), but the T-70s make their way to the edge of the forest and start sniping at my infantry guns. On my turn, the CO tells the recon leader that he's done enough and may return to battalion HQ for repairs.
As the T-34s assault again, and again....my grenadiers are down to three teams and none of them are close enough to defend the right-most objective. All that's keeping my troops in the game is that one infantry gun on the top of the bluff. The Russians pour everything they have into shooting at the IG's but they just can't destroy them. My second grenadier platoon arrives right behind the mortars and immediately run into assault the T-34s. They lose some men, including a panzerschrek, but take two tanks out before they are repulsed. Believe it or not, the Russians are starting to run out of tanks. The tigers pause a moment to let loose a full-rate pounding, but are unable to hit any live tanks, through all the smoking wrecks. The game hangs precariously in the balance, dependent on the survival of one brave gun team.
But wait, what's that noise? All day, the Russian CO has been calling high command, requesting the air support he was promised, and finally two Shturmoviks come roaring over the horizon and line up on that one pesky gun team. They manage to line up so that only one flak track has the angle and range to fire at them. Desperately, that flak team gives it all they have.........and one plane goes crashing to the ground in flames. The remaining plane and all of the tanks open up on the gun platoon and finally one of the guns blows up........but not the one defending the objective. The remaining T-34s assault again, and are beaten back one more time. Down to only the platoon leader and a panzerschrek, grenadier platoon 1 held on the field by the encouragement of their CO, jump out of their foxholes and take cover behind some haystacks, losing their bulletproof cover but adding their meagre weight to the defence of the objective. The Tigers beginning rumbling forward, firing as they come.
Numbed by battle fatigue, the remnants of the Russian force are focused on just two things, shooting the infantry guns and assaulting the last two teams of platoon 1. Neither succeeds. Equally tired, grenadier platoon 2 can't unpin and dig in where they are, while the Tigers, IG's and platoon 1 keep picking away at the Russian tanks. The squadron on the german's right flank is destroyed and the middle squadron is down to two bailed tanks and the CO. Then a lucky shot penetrates the CO's tank and he explodes, unable to jump out in time to requisition another tank as he's been doing for the last two turns.
With their CO gone, the two tanks fail to remount and their crews run away. Suddenly, the glorious charge of the Russian tank force is over, ground to a halt by the dogged staying power of the simple german grenadier.
But something's still missing. I'm sure the quick-witted among you will remember that I had placed a Pak40 platoon in ambush. Exhausted from the tension, elated with my eventual victory, I turn to start putting my troops away on their tray, and see....................
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