Attack of the Lifeguards
Kursk - South Flank #3
|(Attacker) Germany||vs||Soviet Union (Defender)|
|Germany||1st SS "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" Division|
|Soviet Union||1008th Antitank Regiment|
|Soviet Union||230th Separate Tank Regiment|
|Soviet Union||52nd Guards Rifle Division|
|Soviet Union||538th Antitank Regiment|
|Soviet Union||5th Guards Mortar Regiment|
|Overall Rating, 6 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 15 of 559|
|Parent Game||Kursk - South Flank|
|Maps||3: 36, 37, 38|
|Layout Dimensions||84 x 43 cm
33 x 17 in
|Enter & Exit|
|Kill Them All|
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Kursk - South Flank||maps + counters|
Instead of launching the attack at Kursk immediately after the spring mud had dried, Adolf Hitler choose to wait. While the Germans waited, Stavka mobilized the local population to dig trenches at an unprecedented rate and utilized engineers to build bunkers and lay minefields by the thousands. Artillerymen sighted their guns on the most likely avenues of approach, while Kommisars kept the soldiers sharp. To further add to SS Lifeguard Division’s woes, arrayed against them were not regular Red Army soldiers but the 52nd Guards Rifle Division (which had been replenished after being decimated at Stalingrad). Not quite disdainful of their opponent, Lifeguard Division still felt confident of quickly establishing a bridgehead over the Psel River as ordered. Early in the morning they deployed into a panzerkeil and launched themselves at the Soviet lines.
Inflicting massive casualities and overcoming a heroic stand by Lt. Col Kotenko’s 1008th Antitank Artillery Regiment, the Germans forced their way into Bykovka around 16:00 hours. The 1008th Antitank Artillery Regiment was destroyed in the fighting but was reported to have taken 30 enemy tanks to the grave with them. The Lifeguard Division quickly secured Bykovka and pushed on to Iakovlevo, where they were stopped at 1800 hours. But the Lifeguard Division had penetrated the first defensive belt with surprising ease and had rumbled on for another 12 miles. II SS Panzer Corps admitted loses for the day at 35 tanks with almost 1,000 men wounded, dead or missing. The Lifeguards had by far suffered the worst, losing 30 tanks plus 97 dead and another 539 either wounded or missing.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|2 Errata Items|
The reduced direct fire value of the SS HMG is 5-5 in Beyond Normandy and Road to Berlin.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
Kommissars never get morale or combat modifiers. Ignore misprints.
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
When I saw that PG was doing a Kursk oriented game back in the now forgotten past, I immediately ordered it. While my order was not as old as Jay's it certainly was pretty darn old by the time the South Flank game arrived. I had in mind a certain type of scenario, involving a lot of units, heavy fixed defenses, lots of AT guns and plenty of perceived explosions. My initial plays of the smaller scenarios in the game were filled with plenty of odd units, fixed defenses, etc. but no real barn burners of scenarios. They were real situations and they happened during Citadel but they weren't "KURSK" as I saw it in my mind's eye. I therefore determined to work my way through some of the bigger scenarios to see what I wasn't in the smaller ones. As you can see, I gave this one a "5" meaning that I found what I was looking for.
In the onset of the Citadel offensive the 1st SS Panzergrenadier division must breach two sets of Soviet defenses, take Bykovka and importantly, the surrounding hills and march beyond to maintain the attack's timetable and they must avoid severe losses in order to have sufficient strength for the next stage of the offensive. The Soviets are loaded up with minefields and entrenchments and a boatload of AT capability. The SS advances with a preponderance of infantry and HMGs, massive OBA and five Tiger platoons. There is a single north south road which will of necessity form the axis of advance as the field is muddy enough to greatly inhibit off road movement of vehicles but not infantry.
The Soviets establish a line through the village near the entry area, a second line at the bottleneck of fields and woods behind that town and a final line at Bykovka and the hills surounding it. The Germans need to secure the entry board town as failure to do so will constitute a missing victory condition. As a result this town is heavily assaulted, and the resulting losses and demoralizations drain some of the force of the German thrust. Still, there is plenty available for overwhelming the Soviet second line. Several of the entrenchments, however, hold on as the Germans do not immediately cause significant losses and the Soviet leadership in Kursk is quite improved, many of the leaders having morale modifiers and two (a Major and a Captain) had "2" morale modifiers leading to extended battles for the entrenchments.
The Germans did not feel that they could ignore these fixed positions in the second line as permitting them to recover could result in a loss of control of the entry town at some point late in the game so substantial pinning forces needed to remain in place. At the same time, the resistance at these locations permitted the rest of the Soviet force to retire from the second line and bolster the defenses of the hills on the third line.
As the German advance became disorganized from contact with the Soviets they became strung out along the road and the troopers were targeted with Soviet artillery which caused numerous disruptions and demoralizations making travel up the road tedious for good order units and treacherous for those units which failed morale checks. Losses to the Germans were moderate with the exception of the StGs which took two step losses from AT fire.
The German approach to Bykovka was therefore a mere shadow of the force which entered the board, while still potent the force of necessity built up over the course of several turns and relied heavily on the Tiger tanks to open up the defense. In the course of the action it became apparent early on that control of the hills would be beyond the capability of the Germans and that to have a "win" the Germans would have to avoid losses and exit units. The only way to exit the units would be to push through Bykovka and clear the road to the north permitting the Tigers and some accompanying infantry to exit. Reduction of the hills would have to fall to the following units many of whom were now recovering in the wake of the attack or finishing off their battles witht he second line entrenchments.
The German assault of Bykovka was a grinding affair but one which had no real chance of failure. The real effort required was to clear the road beyond. This was accomplished by the supporting infantry and StGs who pierced the third line to the east of Bykovka and swung around to take the road. At the beginning of the final turn, the road was not clear and assaults of two units and a leader in two circumstances were required to clear the road for the subsequent exit of four Tiger platoons. If I had used three units to assault, even if successful, the stack would have blocked the road and prevented the Tigers' exit.
So the SS accomplished three of their four victory conditions, having abdicated on the hill control mission. The final two accomplished (low losses and exiting units) were only acheived on the final turn (they lost 22 steps in total, not sufficiently below the 25 to feel comfortable and exiting 36 step values (Tigers count 3!) from the board on the final turn), for a minor victory.
The title of this AAR is an homage to Alan Sawyer whose play of the scenario during the July 4th holiday provided him with an appropriate soundtrack. Hats off for that!!
The Germans attacked,and attacked, destroyed and destroyed, killed more than 50 steps, and had all the fun the first 4 hours of the battle. Then panic moved in because there was one more line of defense the Russians held in front of the large town between the hills neither of which was going to be taken in time for a German victory. The Soviets retreated in good order from the southern town(board 37) leaving a SMG and 2 Infantry units to die in the town. Next a Mined Road slow there advance towards 2 center entrenchments flanked by dug in troops in the fields. Soviet Artillery from the North kept slowing the German advance and taking a toll on the German infantry units. German tanks could do as they pleased as long as they avoided a crossfire. However after clearing the middle fields there appeared a large mine field in front of the town closely flanked by entrenchments manned by suffient troops to slow any advance on the town to a crawl. I did not enjoy this game because all I did as the Soviet Commander was watch my men die and retreat to safer ground. But there is nothing like Victory to make one smile.
|Kursk off with a bang|
To start off my Kursk play, I picked one that is somewhat bigger and had a lot of tanks from the German side and AT's from the Soviet side. This scenario definitely had that, 5 platoons of Tigers for the Germans and 9 AT guns for the Soviets. High morale on both sides but the Germans have an edge here. Leaders were not impressive for both sides with several plus one's but a lot more zeros. The Soviets get some BM-13's and Grants while along with the Tigers the Germans get quite a bit of OBA and aircraft. Setup favors the Soviets, with command of the field to start as well as the victory conditions as the Germans have tall orders to win.
The Soviets stack up on board 37 to apply as much pressure on the advance as possible. Mines and entrenchments are placed over key positions and the towns are stacked with infantry to force German assaults. Board 38 is also overloaded with AT's and infantry to wear down the German attack. From the German perspective, the will need to advance up the road and assault the entrenchments and town. This will be accomplished by the Tigers and the infantry. But a smaller force will try to move around the heavily fortified town and begin to recon the second line of defense. This will be mounted infantry and the Stugs.
The assault starts with SCH and Tiger units advancing down the road to encounter the first minefield. OP fire is on target and disrupt advancing infantry, but German ENG advance into the minefield in the road in the middle of heavy fire to start the defusing process. Infantry advance along the side of the road to assault the entrenchment right behind it. Heavy fire from HMG's knock out a platoon OF SCH before they even get close. Support fire from the Tigers help but Soviet OBA also find their targets on the advancing Germans. But the ENG's do their job and get the road cleared for the Tigers. They now form with the SCH's to assault the entrenchment on the road. AT fire comes in with no effect on the Tigers. Soviet OBA does disrupt some more advancing infantry.
The assaults happen quickly with the German strike teams getting the better of the Soviets. They are able to generate step losses and eventually capture the entrenchment, even with fire from the town. Other infantry look to flank the town while the slow moving 81mm finally setup in the woods. But the problem for the Germans is heavy fire from the town and adjacent entrenchments pin down the advancing units. The Tigers move forward to assault the town but there supporting infantry is disrupted by OP fire and OBA slowing the advance.
Meanwhile on the western edge the German flanking force has slowly worked it way on the board. Waiting for the AT guns to be identified, they position themselves behind the small woods and then advance once the Soviet guns have been engaged. Several flank security units bar there way, but the Stugs are able to drive them away with a few shots.
In the town assault, the German assault forces regroup for the attack. Initially striking the southern town hex with 2xTigers and a SCH they continue to inflict casualties and demoralizations on the defenders. AT fire continues at the Tigers but no effect. The Soviets look to counter assaults to stem the attack, but those don't materialize, but do strengthen there defense. Eventually other German assault teams make it into other town hexes and the Soviet defense is reduced, but with many causalities to the attacking Germans.
Leaving the remnants of the Soviets in their foxholes the Tiger assault force move forward to join the flanking force that has been scouting the second line of defense. This is a bit stronger as the flank force found out with a long range shot that ripped into the advancing Stugs. Deploying their infantry, the Germans probe the defenses with OBA, but this does little. The Stugs advance toward the town to the south west of board 38 but AT fire kills another Stug and they pull back. The attack will be left to the Tigers.
Deploying in the open the Tigers become the target for the AT's, but the thick armor keeps them alive. The infantry push forward under the cover of the German OBA to go after the large town on board 38. Heavy OP fire from dug in infantry slow the advance but under the cover of the Tigers the Germans advance. Lend lease American Grant tanks try to position for some crossfire shots but become engaged with the Stugs, both sides taking heavy casualties.
The assault units reposition of the attack on the town and heavy fighting occurs in the initial hit. Both sides taking step losses and the Germans start to get concerned about too many losses. The Soviets throw more troops into the town to defend while the Germans continue to assault more hexes and it becomes a general melee.
But now time is against the Germans, they are barely holding two victory conditions (board 37 town and the less than 25 steps lost). They must make a decision, fight it out for the town and the also assault the hill or dash for the board edge. The dash gets the nod, but they will need to clear more of the town to make it happen. Grinding through the assaults they open the town and road, but now dangerously close to losing more than 25 steps, they now begin to move to get units off the board.
At this point, the Soviets have reconstituted enough troops to threaten the town on board 37 and the Germans must divert units to hold the town. This will make the moving off the board tougher. But the Germans are able to fend off the attacks to the south, but cannot muster enough units to get off the board by the end. This gives the Soviets a minor victory.
A very good scenario that can be a bit long with the number of unit and turns. I played this over the course of 3 days in the evening while on vacation. What was more interesting was I was able to have sound track to play this by, thanks to the legalization for fireworks in the State of Maine. Quite interesting to play with bangs and booms going on right outside your window.
|I Hate Mud|
Mud hindered the German tanks' maneuverability, and a very capable Soviet defense kept the front line rolling back from strongpoint to strongpoint. Germans would smash each new line, but waste a turn recovering and reorganizing for the next fight. By the twentieth turn, the Germans had only gotten 2/3 of the way across the board. This was a frustrating and infuriating scenario.
|A muddy end to this German thrust|
Played in three session this scenario has a very strong German force attacking entrenched Soviet Guard units, the Germans have several objectives and although one is fairly straightforward the other 3 are difficult given the mud and time constraints. The secret of this game is the Soviet set up, in my view giving up the board 37 town (the first German objective) is a must, mine the road but leave several mines to ensure no flanking sweeps off the board, hedgehog the entrenchments and then during the game trade time for ground, and finally have a reserve available to close down any gaps during the final few turns. The above will make it a very tough nut for the Germans to crack. The German deployment is not so easy, and I confess I am not sure what the optimum attack strategy for the SS is, certainly the broad sweep attack I did failed to penetrate the hills to the North or give enough time for units to exit the map. In my game the Germans swept forward over the first board with ease but as they ventured further North resistance stiffened, although the mines on the road were neutralized by ENG the poor sappers were being shelled by the numerous well sited 76.2 which the Russians had at their disposal. The Soviet Rocket artillery combining with 120 & 82 MTR was not only amazingly accurate but never ran out of ammo the entire game. While not causing many casualties both the on board and of board artillery played a major part in slowing the advance. Once the Nazi Panzers left the road the advance slowed to a crawl. Crossing three boards width-ways against well dug in troops with good morale in just 26 turns was too big an ask for this German commander.A good big scenario, with a nice mix of units and some replay value as I feel that the Germans should do better than they did in my replay.