Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Kursk Part 16: ENDEX - ...with a bang and a whimper...

The HQ elements of the  9Pz Div...the de facto forward controller of the skeleton battle groups (once the Corps assets)Tiger Bn, Ferdinand Bn, Brumbar Bn, along with 79 Assault Div, 292 Inf Div and attached elements...gets a visit from the air which damages but does not destroy the winch Famo 9.
The staunchest believer in 'final victory' knows for sure that the attack to take Ponyri and push on to Kursk is now a pipe dream
 Russians appear everywhere...
 and although they are mown down in heaps and vehicle after vehicle is destroyed...
 the tide has turned.
 Even as this last attack is beaten back by the Germans there is no possibility of the situation being recovered. Retreat is the order of the day, defined by circumstances rather than commands
 The butcher's bill in this game is high
 Air regiments concentrate on the air defence capability of the German flak units
 but the cost in aircraft is appalling
 Over the railway towards the former Russian trenches
 ...supported by armour
 a two battalion attack goes in
 The Russian 76.2mm, which gave the Huns such a shock at the commencement of hostilities, is no match for the latest long 75mm L43 and L48's of the Panzer IVF, G and H's...
 Few SU's are left...
 so much smoke on the field leaves most of the artillery blind...
 The attack fails...
 ...and the survivors pull back into cover
 Aircraft fall...
 ...like nine pins
 But the Germans keep moving back. Here they are taking their long '100's' out of the line to relative safety
 Fewer now, but still fearsome, the Flakvierling are the umbrella of the troops
 Another couple of companies try to get on the end of the German line
 Their tails are up...
 ...but not for long
 Technical and tactical superiority save the German line again
...but they know it's all over.

Everything that follows is expressed in kits and figures we used. The multiples are according to the Rapid Fire rules set we used. The game ended at move 41, one short of the time span set, because we ran out of units able to get at each other at that point due to the usual problem of overstretch. The active stuff left on the table came to about 60 Russian runners, plus a few hundred troops, and about the same, maybe a few more German runners and troops.

German Losses

Over 60 model tanks, other vehicles and guns etc. = over 300 irrecoverable losses.
30+ aircraft (of around 40 deployed) = 150 or so aircraft lost.
448 figures = 6,620 KIA

Russian Losses

87 tanks, vehicles and guns etc. = 435 irrecoverable losses
40+ aircraft (of over 60 deployed) = 200+ lost
700-750 figures (I keep finding more in the sand and in trenches) = 11,600+

We learnt a great deal from our long game. Some kit went over 30-40 feet up the table and back. Record keeping needs to be simple but tight. Elements can easily get left out of battle. Different commanders turn up on different nights/days and, even with specific orders, interpret things differently. There are always gray areas in rules but we found RF to stand up robustly through the most challenging circumstances. Even where there are anomalies they work themselves out over a large/long game.

My thanks to the long suffering:

Colin
Ross
Mark
Alan
Tom
...and the various helping hands that pitched up from time to time.








Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Kursk - Part 15: ...and now the end is near

Hurrah and huzzah for that! I hear you cry. If you've been following the carnage, which is this blog in recent months, you'll know the Russian armoured counter attack has (relatively) only just happened. They are already up to 68 tanks KO'ed and 32 other vehicles destroyed not including damaged, driven off and runners. A significant number of aircraft have also been lost to enemy action. I haven't totalled up the German losses so far yet...

T34's and Studebaker S6's sweep up from deep in the flank of the now retreating German armoured formations
 The Germans are dividing their fire between front, flank and rear threats...
 Ironically the KV1 battalion to the front left has the hull down position of the railway embankment...
 ...and the German armour is in the open.
 Even at that the disparity between German and Russian weapons means the Russians are at a distinct disadvantage at this stage of the war but will leap ahead later on...which is no comfort to the russian tankies just now...
 Mortar fire plasters the area the long FH18's are just vacating...
 So long as the gun line holds the infantry, transport and artillery can withdraw in relative safety
"Can't see a thing!" - "Yes, sir...smoke gets in your eyes"
 ...then, one of two things will happen...
 either the Russian assault will run out of steam (ie I run completely out of Russian kit) and the Germans will hold what they plan to hold of the trench line until everyone has exited stage left pursued by a bear...
"Get Regiment on the the line..."
 ..or the German stop line will be stretched to breaking point and a general rout will presage a massacre
"Tell them we have blocked the one of the western exits"
 It seems kind of fiftyfifty at the moment. The last 30-40 Russian vehicles are on the table.
 The last of the German infantry is well dug in to the former Russian trenches. They are down to a few battalions worth of troops...
 The Russians have no worries over troop numbers. There are still at least 600 figures that still can come on plus all the infantry already committed. The problem is getting them forward. At 6" per move. It will be a long time before they get to grips with the last of the German infantry
 We began with intention of a 36 move game but after the first 24 we realised we wanted to get to a decisive conclusion and the time frame was just too tight. As you can see from this shot the visibility is restricted due to the smoke. We use an inverted periscope to check line-of-sight; invaluable on an undulating surface.

 With no physical time restriction a game can last as long as we wish. We had to move Adolf's redeployment order or it would come in the wrong sequence. So, we settled on 42 moves or the limitation of the actual kit we have...whichever comes first
 But...the German kit, like the Ferdinand, is performing so much better than expected
 ...er, most of the time...
 We have therefore, a dilemma. We have either too much German stuff for the area depicted...but not according to the stats. They tell us the Germans should have had slightly more. We left some stuff out because of space and just to make the game smoother to run eg towed a/t battalions and further German artillery and some ancillary stuff...
 ...or we didn't have enough Russian armour, but we're having trouble fitting it all on...which means a bigger table...
...Hmmm, now that's an intriguing thought...?

Next: The butcher's bill? Historical outcome? Lessons on conducting mega games?
Gentle reader...watch this space

Monday, 25 September 2017

Kursk - The Action Comic

Our tribute to 'Commando', 'Victor', Battle Picture Library and 'War Picture Library' et al. When you were a kid in the UK a major boost to the imagination came from comics. Colin discovered a new toy. We oooh'ed, we aaaahh'ed and we were transported back to the corner shop after the Saturday matinee where we bought our kits and figures...and our comics
We bought...
We swapped...
 We tried to recreate the daring do...
 Between the aaarghh's and aieeee's of the foe...
 We learned that the enemy saw us as 'pig dog!'....
 ...and 'swinehund'...
 and that they were mortally afraid of....
 'Achtung! Spitfire!'
 We played happily at the feet/table of our parents and grandparents
...shaking their heads in mute astonishment at our antics
Perhaps remembering themselves what is was really like
 No heroics
 No histerics
 ...and certainly no pulling the pin from a grenade with your teeth and saying something pithy as it was thrown...
 Just thinking of folk who never came back
 or came back different
 rationing...
 call up...
 air raids...

 evacuation...
...and all the inconvenient stuff us kids didn't want to know about at the time. Weirdly exciting though it was, it kept the history alive in us until we could appreciate the enormity of it all.

Thanks Colin.

Sometime we'll have to do a 'manga Napoleonic'...nuff said...