For Round 2, Herr General von Fitzi and I decided, with encouragement from some of the other gents in the club, to play the Shot in the Dark scenario as no one had the US airborne forces to play it in Round 1 except me, and we all wanted to see the results of such a scenario being played out with my two-formation US 2/508th 82nd Airborne Division list (my old unit, as it happens) taking on a German Panzer IV company.
My list was as follows:
On Table: (Dog Company)
Airborne Company Command (C/D)
Airborne Rifle Platoon (1/D) – Full strength w/ extra bazooka, 2 LMGs
Airborne Rifle Platoon (2/D) – Full strength w/ extra bazooka, 2 LMGs
Airborne 57mm AT Platoon- 4 guns
Airborne 75mm Pack Howitzer Platoon- 4 tubes
P-47 Thunderbolt Flight
Reserves: (Fox Company)
Airborne Company Command (C/F)
Airborne Rifle Platoon (1/F) – Full strength w/ extra bazooka, 2 LMGs
Airborne Rifle Platoon (2/F) – Full strength w/ extra bazooka, 2 LMGs
Airborne 81mm Mortar Platoon- 4 tubes
Airborne Jeep Recon Patrol- 4 .50cal Jeeps
Sticky Bombs x3
French Resistance Raid
Turner Turnbull (attached to 2/F Platoon)
Herr General von Fitzi’s list was thus:
Panzer IV Platoon- 4x Panzer IV
Puma Scout Troop- 2x Puma
Puma Scout Troop- 2x Puma
Sd Kfz 10/4 Light AA Platoon- 2x Sd Kfz 10/4 20mm AA
Wespe Artillery Battery- 3x Wespe
Armored Panzergrenadier Platoon- Full Strength w/ 2 Panzerschrecks, Panzerfausts, 4x Sd Kfz 251 Half-Tracks (one w/ 3.7cm)
Panzer III OP
Panzer IV Company Command- 2x Panzer IV
Panzer IV Platoon- 5x Panzer IV
JagdPanzer IV Platoon- 4x Jagdpanzer IV
Panzer Pioneer Platoon
Objectives were placed as dictated by the scenario, and Fitzi placed his Panzer IVs, his AA tracks, his OP, and both Puma Troops around the East Objective, and the Wespes, Panzergrenadiers, and half-tracks around the Western objective. Then came the fun part- the para drops. We designated the SW quadrant as number 1, and then numbered the table quarters accordingly going counterclockwise. The company command landed behind a copse of trees in quarter 4, isolated from the rest of the men, 1/D platoon coming down in open ground in quarter 3, 2/D platoon coming down behind a walled-off field in quarter 1, the 57mm guns coming down in a field next to them, the 75mm pack howitzers landing in the far corner of quarter 2. With that, it was time to begin the mayhem.
Axis- Fitzi began rolling to rally and remount, with one Panzer IV, one Puma from each troop, 1 Wespe, and two SdKfz 251s remounting. The rest stayed bailed, and the Panzergrenadiers stayed pinned. Little movement was made by the active German teams, and in the shooting phase, both the active halftracks and the Panzergrenadiers were able to see 1/D Platoon, and fired. The Halftracks managed to kill one LMG stand, and the Panzergrenadiers managed to knock off the other LMG and both Bazooka teams due to my inability to either make a 3+ mistaken target roll or infantry save in the entire phase.
Allies- I began by managing to make all of my rally rolls on a 3+ (thank you, Fearless Motivation), and my P-47s arrived for some CAS. 2/D Platoon blitzed successfully, and moved into the buildings at the center of the board, their LMGs and bazookas overlooking the town square. My 57mm AT guns stayed put and dug in to put pressure on the German tanks around the Eastern objective, and 1/D Platoon attempted to dig in…..and failed. The P-47s avoided any harm from AA fire but failed to range in on the German tanks. The only effective shooting I had was my 75mm Pack Howitzers ranging in with Time On Target on the Panzergrenadiers, and killing two MG teams.
Axis- Once again, the Panzergrenadiers failed to rally, but all the remaining bailed-out German vehicles except one SdKfz 251 remounted successfully, and spent their movement either fanning out to place a wider perimeter around the West objective, the Wespes moving towards the vulnerable 1/D Platoon, and a Puma troop and the Panzer III OP moving to machine-gun my isolated company command. The Pumas and the OP Panzer fired but failed to score any hits on my company command. The second Puma Troop put some fire down on 2/D Platoon in the buildings, failing to cause harm, but 1/D Platoon’s misfortunes continued as the Wespes’ machine guns killed the mortar stand, and the halftracks and Panzergrenadiers combined for four dead rifle/MG stands despite needing 6’s to hit, as I failed once again to make a single 3+ infantry save. Wary of the sticky bomb threat, Fitzi had no assaults.
Allies- Down to three stands, 1/D Platoon managed to rally, and once again the P-47s showed up to assist. None of my platoons moved, all being too exposed at the current juncture, and 1/D Platoon’s remnants managed to get themselves dug in. The 57mm AT Guns fired at the Pumas that had showed themselves through muzzle flash, but failed to score any hits, and the 75mm pack howitzers attempted another range-in to put more Panzergrenadier stands under the template. A six was rolled, Time On Target was active, and four hits were scored, but Fitzi managed to avoid any casualties as the only save he failed resulted in a failed firepower roll. Taking advantage of their thin armor, the P-47s decided a strafing run against the Wespes may be a more effective method, and scored a whopping six hits! Fitzi’s hot dice continued, and only two shots got through, resulting in two bailed-out Wespes.
Axis- For his first reserve roll, Fitzi got the beautiful 5, and was going to bring on the second Panzer IV Platoon…..until I dropped the French Resistance Raid command card. Fitzi failed the re-roll, decided to use his Lucky card to get another chance, and failed that re-roll as well, buying the US Airborne valuable time. The Panzergrenadiers finally made a rally roll, and were back to full rate of fire, and one of the bailed-out Wespes remounted. The Wespes lost sight of 1/D Platoon in the darkness and didn’t have a target, but the Panzergrenadiers and their transports fired full-force at 2/D Platoon, the Puma troop at 2/D Platoon, and the Panzer IVs at the 57mm AT guns, but through saves and failed firepowers, no American losses were sustained, and no assaults were launched.
Allies- My first Reserve roll was successful, 1/F Platoon arrived from the Northwest corner of the board directly behind the Puma platoon and Panzer III OP that were threatening C/D command, and the P-47s arrived yet again, setting up to strafe the other Puma troop. 1/D Platoon stayed gone to ground, and the 57mm AT Guns rolled poorly for night vision. 2/D Platoon fired across the square at the Panzergrenadiers, causing enough hits to pin them, but no losses, and the 75mm pack howitzers repeated their bombardment, causing only a hit on a Panzerschreck stand but killing it nonetheless. 1/F Platoon bailed a Puma with a lucky Bazooka shot, and the P-47 strafing run destroyed one Puma and bailed the other. Seven teams from 1/F Platoon then assaulted the Pumas and the Panzer III OP. Four hits were scored by excellent defensive fire but all saves were made, and while the three attacks directed at the OP tank all failed to hit and the two hits on the bailed Puma caused no further damage, the active Puma was destroyed. The OP tank failed its counterattack roll and retreated, leaving both Pumas burning, while 2/1 Platoon consolidated to put some woods between themselves and the Panzer IVs.
Axis- Two Reserve dice resulted in the second Panzer IV Platoon arriving on the East edge of the board and heading towards my pack howitzers. The lone remaining Puma passed his motivation, stayed on the board, and then remounted. The Panzergrenadiers failed to rally once again. The AA tracks moved to place fire on 2/1 Platoon, as did the Panzer IVs near the west objective. The Wespes unleashed a bombardment against 1/D platoon’s remaining stands, hitting and pinning them, but failing to cause any further losses. The Panzergrenadiers and their transports once again fired at 2/D Platoon, pinning them but failing to cause losses due to their hard cover. The newly-arrived Panzer IV platoon fired their machine guns at the 75mm pack howitzers, hitting them just enough times to pin them, but all saves were made and no losses were sustained. The other Panzer IV platoon rolled miserably with their machine-gun fire at 1/F Platoon, causing only two hits and no casualties, and the AA tracks missed with all of their 20mm shots. The newly-arrived Panzer IVs then assaulted the pack howitzers, but had a tank destroyed by a lucky shot in defensive fire. Their attacks only killed one gun team, and the counterattack roll was passed, and the pack howitzers’ attacks back at the Panzer IVs managed to disable another tank. The Panzer IVs then failed their counterattack roll and had to retreat, leaving half the platoon burning and the howitzers still in place.
Allies- My reserve rolls were once again lucky, with both 2/F platoon and the recce Jeeps arriving, both again from the Northwest corner. My P-47s arrived yet again, setting up a rocket attack on the Panzer IVs near the west objective. 1/F Platoon moved into the field around the west objective, taking control, while 2/F platoon and the Jeeps were in position to unleash MG fire aplenty to support them. The pack howitzer battery stayed pinned but managed to dig in, and both of Dog Company’s platoons stayed gone to ground to make themselves less obvious targets. The only shooting that took place due to darkness was the P-47 failing to range in on the Panzer IVs.
Axis- As crunch time began for the scenario, Fitzi’s turn began with the Panzer IV company command the the Jagdpanzer IVs both arriving behind the Pack howitzers in the southeast corner. The lone remaining Puma finally had enough and broke, as the Panzer IVs near the West objective moved to contest it and assault 1/F platoon. The Wespes repeated their bombardment, and killed one Rifle/MG stand from 1/D platoon, but both the Panzergrenadiers and their transports lost sight of their enemies since they no longer had muzzle flashes to aim at. Machine gun fire from the Panzer IVs and Jagdpanzers surrounding the pack howitzers casued quite a few hits but none of the required 6+ firepowers, and the other Panzer IV Platoon managed to kill 1/F Platoon’s mortar stand with machine-gun fire and pin the platoon. The Panzer IVs on the west side of the board launched an assault on 2/F Platoon. Defensive fire was telling, despite them being pinned: 2 bazooka shots, 2 hits on sixes, 2 failed armor saves, 2 successful firepower tests, 2 dead Panzer IVs, and a failed assault. In the southeast corner, the Jagdpanzer IVs assaulted the pack howitzers. Despite only one gun having an angle to shoot in defensive fire, that one shot resulted in a destroyed Jagdpanzer IV. However, the three remaining assault guns each accounted for one pack howitzer, wiping out the battery.
Allies- 1/D Platoon takes a motivation test to remain on the board and passes. The 81mm mortars arrived by default from reserve….right in the the middle of a circle of Jagdpanzer and Panzer IVs. The P-47s showed up for the fifth turn in a row, angling for another strafing run on the Wespes. 2/F Platoon and the Jeeps advance to secure 1/F Platoon’s left side, while 1/F platoon dug in around the objective. Both the Jeeps and 1/F platoon fired at the AA Half-tracks, killing one each and wiping out the platoon. The 57mm AT Guns had a side-angle shot on the two remaining Panzer IVs by the west objective, scoring only one hit on eight shots but still destroying a Panzer IV. 2/D once again made their presence known by firing at the Panzergrenadiers and pinning them, but causing no losses. The P-47 strafing run failed miserably without a single hit being scored on the Wespes. Not wanting to surrender a strong position, no one launched an assault.
Axis- The Panzergrenadiers rallied, the remaining Panzer IV on the west side of the board passed its motivation, and all of the German armor in the Southeast corner set themselves up to hammer the mortar platoon. The remaining Panzer IV and Panzer III OP by the west objective moved to launch a do-or-die assault at the west objective. The Panzergrenadiers and their transports continued their duel with 2/D platoon, against causing enough hits to pin them, but no casualties. The Wespes repeated their bombardment of 1/D platoon, but failed to cause any hits on the two remaining stands. The German armor in the southeast unleashed a torrent of MG fire at the 81mm mortars, killing one stand and pinning the rest, before launching their assault. An easy time was had, with all attacks hitting, and wiping out the mortars. Fitzi’s final Hail Mary came when he launched a pair of assaults against 1/F platoon around the objective. First came the lone Panzer IV, which survived defensive fire and even killed a Rifle/MG stand, but I passed my counterattack and the Panzer IV was destroyed in my phase of the assault. The Panzer III OP also launched a high-risk-high-reward assault and also survived defensive fire, but caused no losses, and was also destroyed after I passed my counterattack roll. Having failed to dislodge me from the Western objective, victory went to the US airborne. Having wiped out my pack howitzers and 81mm mortars, Fitzi managed to recoup an extra victory point, with the final result being 7-2 in the Allies’ favor.
Despite not getting to play this scenario in week 1, we still had fun nonetheless. Fitzi is a true gentleman of an opponent, and every game I play against him is always a great time, whether win, lose, or draw. The scenario is fun and does a good job in both its deployment and reserve rules of reflecting the chaos of the real-life drops. Having my P-47 show up every turn was fortunate, and having my reserves all arrive from the same place, which also happened to be the closest corner to an objective, worked in my favor. Fitzi’s reserves all showing up from the same area added a neat counter to this, and while it allowed him to wipe out a couple units, he was just too far away to counter my push for the western objective. The fight for the eastern objective bogged down into stalemate pretty quickly, with my not having the necessary weight to push Fitzi off of it, and my forces being too well-entrenched to be knocked back through shooting. All in all, a great time was had by those of us playing, and those who decided to observe.