So, this is it, the first battle report from our new campaign, "Panzer Aces." The campaign will be played out using 6mm forces, and we will follow two brothers leading a tank platoon with the fictional 52nd Panzer Division, from Barbarossa in June 1941 to the bitter end in May 1945, all on the eastern front. The platoon will start in Pz IIIFs (short 50mm guns), then graduate to long 50mm guns (Pz IIIJ, March 1942), to Pz IVG (December 1943), Pz IVH (June 1943), and end with the Panther (November 1944). They will face an array of Soviet vehicles, guns, and troops, from the little T-60s all the way through the JS-2s.
Hans (the elder brother and platoon commander), a Sergeant and commander of the Tank 201, and Franz Mueller (the younger brother), a Corporal and commander of Tank 203, are from a small village in Bavaria. They joined in the inter-war years, both in the infantry but volunteering for the blossoming Panzer Corps when the opportunity arose. They were members of the 4th Panzer Division during the blitzkrieg through Poland and then France, performing well. This led to their promotions, and when, following the fall of France, the formation of the 52nd Panzer Division was being formed, they both volunteered as it secured spots for them to become tank commanders. Their platoon is comprised of four tanks split into two sections of two tanks, one led by Hans in 01 and one led by Franz in 03. Tank 202 is led by Corporal Heine and Tank 204 is led by Corporal Schultze.
After much training and preparation, today is the day of invasion, 22 June 1941. German forces, massed on the frontier in Poland opposite the Soviet lines, moved forward in the pre-dawn darkness, and then a ferocious artillery barrage was unleashed. As the barrage pounded Soviet forward positions and the sun crested the horizon, airplanes of the Luftwaffe filled the skies, destroying Soviet aircraft on the ground and further pounding the Red Army. Wehrmacht infantry poured through the Soviet front line, largely a walk through but with pockets of intense fighting.
The company commander called his platoon commanders together at approximately 1100; in two hours we march on the Soviets. The infantry have opened holes in the lines and now the panzers will strike. Our guidance is to pour through the holes created by the infantry, do not get bogged down! We will push, moving to encircle the Soviet formations, and then we will continue to push, cutting them off and destroying their rear echelon elements, we must keep them off balance. We will move forward through here (tapping map), advance along this axis (tapping map), advancing on this bridge (tapping map). The Soviets will try to throw up new defensive lines, but these must be smashed on the run, the bridge must be taken (slapping the map with his swagger stick)!
**This is the first scenario from the Hell Hath No Fury book, "Dawn Patrol," while the bridge will be the next fight.
The Panzer order of march is: Hans in 201, Heine in 202, Franz in 203, and Schultze in 204.
The Soviets are down to one ATG (opposite Franz' 203 in the south) and the three hunkering infantry squads.
Sorry if that was a bit of a letdown for all you treadheads out there, but I don't control what the PEFs turn into (though I did write up my own PEF table in order to have infantry, trucks, guns, and armored cars, rather than just tanks), and I feel like it was a pretty realistic engagement for the early push through the Soviet lines in the opening stages of Barbarossa. If you're missing tanks, I can promise you at least one enemy tank (and a monster, at that) will be present in the next fight.
We had a great time, the boy is already asking me when we can play again, and we look forward to getting another fight in this coming weekend. I plan on playing about eight engagements per 'stage' of the war, so eight for early Barbarossa, eight for the autumn/winter push on Moscow, eight for spring/fall of 1942, eight for the relief of Stalingrad, eight for the spring of '43 and Kursk, eight for the defensive battles that winter, eight for Bagration/summer '44, eight for the breakout fights of that winter, and eight for the end, which will probably go through Hungary and end in Czeckoslakia, though I'm also toying with going on a different route and getting trapped in the Baltics. I will not be doing Berlin.