The Drive on Minsk - Scenario One - Armor Clash

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7dot62mm
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The Drive on Minsk - Scenario One - Armor Clash

Post by 7dot62mm » Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:19 pm

Date: 22 June 1941, Day One of Operation Barbarossa, 1200 hours
Location: About 10 kilometers southwest of Kobrin near the village of Staroje.
History: The 3rd Panzer Division crossed into Soviet territory early in the day. Around midday it ran into advancing elements of the Soviet 22nd Tank Division sent to intercept the German advance

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The battlefield, seen during pre-game rules recap with example vehicles, seen from the German (western) side looking east. The areas marked with stones are gorges too steep to enter with vehicles or guns.

This is the scenario Armor Clash, from the Skirmish Campaigns Drive on Minsk campaign book. The scenario can be downloaded for free from the Skirmish Campaigns website at https://www.skirmishcampaigns.com/downloads.htm . This scenario is the first of a three-scenario minicampaign we are playing using Battleground Command (also variously known as Chain of WWII and Battleground Command Chain of WWII), our Battleground WWII / Chain of Command hybrid.

The forces in this scenario were:

The Germans:
A platoon of Panzergrenadiers in Sd.Kfz 251 half-tracks led by Ltn Birkehalbinseln
A platoon of four Panzer II ausf C tanks
An ad-hoc recon patrol with Sd.Kfz 232 command vehicle plus an Sd.Kfz 231, Sd.Kfz 250/1 with recon team, one motorcycle infantry squad and a motorcycle infantry command squad. The patrol is led by Ltn Marcus Grabe in the Sd.Kfz 232.
Additional support in the form of two Panzer III ausf G

The Soviets:
An infantry platoon led by Ltn. Ivan Malaskov
Two three-tank T-26 tank platoons. These were led by the tank company commander
Two "motorized" infantry squads as additional support. Due to shortages these were on foot.
Reinforcements: Two BA-11 armored cars to arrive on Turn 16 at the earliest.

The scenario is played on a 4'x8' table using 20mm figures.

In this scenario both sides have been advancing when they suddenly sight teach other. In order to win the Germans must exit at least four vehicles off the north-eastern corner of the battle field, or break the enemy Force Morale. Similarly the Russians must either exit two vehicles off the western edge of the table, or break the Germans' Force Morale.

Speaking of Force Morale, the Germans rolled an ominous 8 (the lowest possible) for all three platoons. Clearly they are not excited about being the vanguard of the Drang Nach Osten! The Russians on the other hand have rolled 10s and 11s for all their platoons, reflecting their unflinching commitment to the Communist Party!

The Soviet platoon leader Ivan Malaskov immediately realizes that with his slow infantry tanks he is unlikely to get his forces off the western edge of the table. He decides to defend the Motherland and to not relinquish any part of it to the Fascist invaders!

The Germans however have fast recon vehicles and light tanks so they can use either option to win the scenario. Suddenly the Soviet lookouts spot two vehicles of unknown type speeding down the western ridge...

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Spotted but unidentified vehicles are represented by black primed models (or – in the case of unidentified German tanks - Tiger tanks, everyone knows all German tanks are Tigers)

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The vehicles are quickly recognized as an eight-wheeled heavy armored car and a half-track. The Germans immediately notice that their map of the battlefield isn't very accurate and that the ridge which they were planning to use as cover during their advance in fact doesn't exist! This forces the recon vehicles to cross over a large clearing which they attempt to do as quickly as they can...

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This is of course a trap set by the Soviets. Suddenly the German patrol notices three tanks of an unknown type atop the next ridge and they open fire against the Germans! The middle one is soon recognized as a T-26 light tank. Their 45mm guns present a mortal threat to the advancing recon vehicles...

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Meanwhile on the German right flank Leutnant Birkehalbinseln's Panzergrenadiers put the pedal to the medal and accelerate downhill in their Hanomags... their route is luckily mostly out of the sight of the Russian tanks.

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The Recon patrol tries to get out of the kill zone, the enemy tanks have thus far missed due to their inferior training but the recon patrol's luck is not going to last for ever!

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The tanks on the ridge have now been identified as T-26s.

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...however the patrol continues bravely instead of retreating...

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On the ridge behind them, three of the Panzer platoon's tanks have taken up hull-down positions and start to shoot at the T-26s in support of the recon platoon from a distance of around 300 meters. The Panzer Iis automatic cannon light up the leftmost T-26 with multiple hits but none of them actually penetrate.

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Way back in the north-eastern corner of the map the Soviet 50mm mortar team's NCO has been looking at the situation for a while. Concealed in a bush he is fairly safe, being some 300 meters away from the enemy. His mortar team is in a nearby gully, out of sight. He gives the command to fire, targeting the recon team's vehicles.

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While the puny 50mm bomb has very little chance of either hitting or actually causing damage to the moving vehicles, the mere thought of being under mortar fire causes the Germans to stomp on their accelerators and charge forward with haste...

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But the real problem are the tanks. The Soviet tank company commander’s tank is suddenly spotted between the two copses of woods... it fires once at the Sd.Kfz 250 which bursts into flames, only two of the Recon men escape the destruction... shocked by this experience they turn into Fanatics who are unaffected by morale checks. They take cover behind their burning vehicle and start to fire at some infantry seen in the distance.

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Pursued by 50mm mortar rounds the recon platoon’s Sd.Kfz 231 drives bravely forward, shooting at the leftmost T-26 with its automatic cannon. It takes cover behind the burning Sd.Kfz 250, though that only prevents the T-26 company commander’s tank from shooting it in the side. Several 45mm armor-piercing rounds ricochet off the heavy eight-wheeler’s front armor, by luck rather than because of any actual protection afforded by the vehicle. Finally one of them hits the armored car in the front wheel, disabling it… but luckily as it is an eight-wheeler it can still move even if slowly without one wheel.

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Meanwhile on the right flank 1st and 3rd squads reach the edge of the gully, the squads dismounting and taking cover in the gully.

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Lieutenant Birkehalbinsel and his assistant platoon leader are still in their Sd.Kfz 251/10. While heavily armed with a 37mm PAK gun the command team does not really have the personnel to handle the gun – it is now used by the two messengers and led by the assistant platoon leader. All of these folks would probably be more useful in the field with the dismounted platoon. The command team's dispatch rider waits patiently for orders.

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Meanwhile behind the first ridge the motorcycle squad waits for the situation up ahead to become clearer.

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On the German right flank the Panzergrenadiers have cleared the gully and are advancing into the woods.

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Hull-down behind the ridge, the supporting Panzer IIs continue to pour 20mm shells at the leftmost T-26 until it bursts into flames… none of the crew make it out of the vehicle…

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The platoon leader's tank is hit and the crew panic, tumbling out of the T-26. They take cover behind it.

Despite these setbacks the remaining T-26 is unfazed and continues to engage the attackers... but clearly the tide is slowly turning and the Russians are in trouble.

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But just then the Soviets spring another ambush! Appearing out on nowhere on the German left flank, the Motorized infantry squad #36 which has been cleverly waiting for an opportune moment moves to the edge of the woods. There they find an impressive array of German forces collected there – an another eight-wheeler armored car, the 2nd Panzergrenadier squad in their half-track, a motorcycle infantry squad in three motorcycles with sidecars, their platoon command team with two cars and two dispatch riders, and the light tank platoon with four Panzer IIs.

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Looking at this they pick their targets – the riflemen will assault the motorcyclists using hand grenades while the LMG and the rifle grenadier will shoot at the command team in their unarmored cars.

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The Recon Platoon leader Ltn Marcus Grabe in his Sd.Kfz 232 is surprisingly quick in his response (the player used a CoC die to Interrupt) and fires his automatic cannon and machine gun at the approaching enemies, but due to bad die rolls he is only able to kill one and suppress another.

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The Russians then open fire at the motorcyclists, killing or heavily wounding half of them (one hand grenade lands right in the lap of the rider in the sidecar, blowing him to smithereens).

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The surviving motorcyclists speed away, hiding behind the Panzers for cover.

The Force Morale of the Recon patrol has suffered greatly from this and the loss of the Sd.Kfz 250, bringing it down from an initial 8 to a mere 3! Any further loss will likely lead to the whole platoon calling it a day...

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The Soviet LMG gunner peppers the motorcycle platoon command group, hitting the driver of the spare parts car in the face while the rifle grenadier sends a grenade right through the windshield of the car.

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The grenade in the spare parts car explodes, setting the car on fire...

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The 2nd Panzergrenadier squad has been held in reserve by ltn Birkehalbinsel and it now moves to support the motorcylists. Unfortunately it fails to spot any of the enemies.

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Seeing that the ambushing squad has gone prone in the woodsline Ltn Grabe decides to take a huge risk... he orders his driver to drive right over the enemies, risking becoming stuck in the woods and being close-assaulted by any troops brave enough to approach the armored vehicle. But in addition he is a Senior Leader and his loss would have potentially catastrophic effects on the platoon's Force Morale...

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Perhaps Grabe is just doing this in the hopes of distracting everyone enough so that they will not notice that his crew have neglected to repaint their Balkan crosses after the Polish campaign?

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The driver crashes into the Soviet squad, killing three men and crushing the machine gun and the rifle grenadier and one more soldier...

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The rest of the squad takes off, running deeper into the woods where they take a defensive stance.

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Meanwhile the Panzers continue to fire at the sole T-26 manned remaining on the hill until it too explodes. The Panzers then turn their attention to the unmanned platoon leader's vehicle...

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...which also blows up!

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The T-26s destroyed, the Panzers advance in order to better support the Panzergrenadiers...

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...who are carefully moving through the woods towards the T-26 company commander’s tank.

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The company commander has been busy and has taken out one of the fanatic LMG gunners behind the burning half-track.

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The sole remaining gunner is picked up by the Sd.Kfz 231 eight... no, seven-wheeled armored car which then moves laboriously forward. The company commander sends another 45mm shell its way but hitting moving targets is not the T-26's forte...

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More Panzers are moving up, trying to get the T-26 into their sights...

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The recon platoon leader backs his eight-wheeler out of the woods and tries to give commands to the Sd.Kfz 231 but finds that his radio has broken down. The platoon leader goes on Opportunity, keeping an eye out for any possible Russians appearing from the woods.


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The Company comander's tank is taken under fire by the Sd.Kfz 231 and a couple of Panzer Iis... the crew becomes rather nervous and backs through the woods as a constant stream of impacting 20mm rounds ruin the tank's front armor!

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Suddenly a Russian squad appears from nowhere and moves into close combat with the two Panzergrenadier squads in the woods! Hand grenades explode and people are run through with bayonets while the constant tat-tat-tat of submachine guns drowns out all other sounds... due to horribly bad die rolls the Soviets lose five men and have to retreat in disarray while the Germans lose only two Panzergrenadiers. This has brought the Soviet infantry platoon's Force Morale to a mere 3. Curiously enough the T-26 platoon (which consists of only three men in a panic and three burning tanks) still holds a Force Morale of around 7.

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The Germans continue their advance...

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As the half-tracks are now not able to support the Panzergrenadiers Ltn Birkehalbinsel brings them forward...

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Birkehalbinsel is aware of the fact that his 251/10 is his best anti-tank weapon... one hit with the PAK 36 should take out the company commander’s tank which has thus far proved to be very hard to kill. Of course there is quite a risk in such an attempt as both of the platoon's Senior Leaders are onboard the 251/10. And the Panzergrenadiers' Force Morale is now 7.

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The half-track drives quickly past the kill-zone of the company commander’s tank, shooting once and missing. The half-track drives past the copse of woods where a squad of Russians are on Opportunity fire... they open fire doing no damage.

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Birkehalbinsel yells to the driver: "Schnell, get us out of here!". The driver panics and drives into the smoke, not seeing the burning T-26...


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CRASH! The half-track smashes into the burning tank, collapsing the front suspension and rendering the vehicle undrivable. All except the driver and the assistant platoon leader are stunned by the impact...


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The Panzers advance, hoping to get within 100 meters of the enemy tank, knowing that their gun's penetration performance will be better the closer they get.


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Though the company commander's tank is equipped with a radio it is useless as there is no one else on the Russian side with a radio. He takes careful aim at the approaching Panzer II...

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The Panzer II blows up and only one crew member escapes the inferno...

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The Panzergrenadier command team has still not recovered from the crash when suddenly a squad of Russians close assault them! They only manage to kill the assiastant platoon leader and the driver...


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...before the Panzers on Opportunity Fire blast them and as they run away.

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The Panzergrenadiers advance through the woods and assault the two men left there, one is killed and the other runs away...


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Malaskov uses a CoC die to bring in his reinforcements, two heavy BA-11 armored cars. Only one of them is seen on the map, it opens fire at the Sd.Kf 231 but misses.


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Simultaneously, another squad rushes the command Sd.Kfz 251/10 vehicle. This time they cannot quite reach the half-track and climb in which is what the player would like them to do.

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.... but they can still throw hand grenades... they throw six, only two of which land inside the vehicle, killing everyone! Two of the grenades fall short and kill some of the Russians.

This major tactical blunder on the part of Ltn Birkehalbinsel devastates the German Force Morale, the Panzergrenadiers' FM is now 4, the Panzers' 5... and that of the recon platoon is wavering at 2! But the Soviets are not doing much better, with their infantry platoon at FM 3, the T-26 platoons at 5 and 8, respectively.

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A random event gives the Germans another reinforcement roll, they receive two Pz.Kpfw IV ausf E though these never actually make it to the map during the scenario.

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The remnants of the Soviet squad are last seen running for the hills... This has now brought the Soviet infantry's Force Morale down to 1, which means they're about to quit fighting...

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In fact, we notice that we've missed a Bad Things Happen roll and when that is made the Russian infantry decides to leave the battle. On seeing that their infantry support is gone and that the Panzers are swarming everywhere and that the Panzergrenadiers are about to close assault them the T-26 platoon (the company commander and two more T-26s which were never spotted) has to make a few morale rolls and they too figure that it is high time to get out of here. For a brief moment we calculate the last T-26 platoon's chances of staying to fight (they're the three remaining guys with no tanks, plus the two BA-11 armored cars) but it is soon obvious that they have no reason to stay either. The Russians flee the battlefield, their morale broken.


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But that was really, really close! From the moment the German recon Force Morale sank to a three, this battle could have gone either way. Up until the very last clash I had no idea who would win.

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We will return with the Drive on Minsk Scenario Two later this year!
Last edited by 7dot62mm on Mon Jun 25, 2018 11:52 am, edited 6 times in total.

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Faustnik
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Re: The Drive on Minsk - Scenario One - Armor Clash

Post by Faustnik » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:10 pm

Most excellent!
thmbs2) thmbs2) thmbs2) thmbs2) thmbs2)

Must do this same scenario sometime in the future......

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mausmann
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Re: The Drive on Minsk - Scenario One - Armor Clash

Post by mausmann » Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:18 pm

Superb pics and AAR there, many thanx for posting.... thmbs2) and love the bit where every German tank is a Tiger..... :)
Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes in the wind, and sometimes against it, but sail we must, and not drift nor lie at anchor.

Hincmar
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Re: The Drive on Minsk - Scenario One - Armor Clash

Post by Hincmar » Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:35 pm

An epic AAR. Thanks for taking the time to write it up. Loads of pretty pictures - vehicles, terrain everything - but what I particularly like is your use of a mix of soft plastic figures, many of which are from a bygone age yet still scrub up nicely with some TLC. Proper old school!

Bob_Mackenzie
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Re: The Drive on Minsk - Scenario One - Armor Clash

Post by Bob_Mackenzie » Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:10 pm

Nice report. I'm really taken with the ground mat - where did you get it from?

S_P
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Re: The Drive on Minsk - Scenario One - Armor Clash

Post by S_P » Sun Jun 24, 2018 11:22 pm

Great stuff - lovely the sweep of the table

dead1
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Re: The Drive on Minsk - Scenario One - Armor Clash

Post by dead1 » Sun Jun 24, 2018 11:47 pm

Whoa that was epic and really well written with awesome minis and awesome terrain.

I look forward to the 2nd scenario.

I also second the question as to where does that mat come from!

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7dot62mm
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Re: The Drive on Minsk - Scenario One - Armor Clash

Post by 7dot62mm » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:14 pm

Bob and dead1 - The terrain cloth is Plains by Deep Cut Studios. I too like it very much. In real life it is greener than in these pictures and the lines aren't quite as visible. The downside is that it is a bit slippery so that sometimes figures will slide down a slope.

Hincmar - I use a mix of figures, the ones in the pictures were painted by about four different people including myself but somehow they seem to sort of fit together. And yes, the Revell and Esci Russians were painted in the Nineties :D

Ed mac
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Re: The Drive on Minsk - Scenario One - Armor Clash

Post by Ed mac » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:07 pm

I really enjoyed the AAR great models and scenery, :D

dead1
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Re: The Drive on Minsk - Scenario One - Armor Clash

Post by dead1 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 11:00 pm

Thanks 7dot62mm.

I think also when it comes to infantry, a bit of a mixed bag is good. After all humans aren't all the same height or shape and we certainly have more than 4-5 poses! Those Germans look very dynamic as a result.

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