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Artemis258

FB DAR ALLIES: The great Koala Showdown (Gnarly v Art)

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o he's back, and from a holiday no less, so I thought I'd see how Gnarly's fairing in the days of old... For those that don't know, Gnarly and I have been regular opponents in the modern theater (our last battle is immortalised in the DAR found here: http://www.thefewgoodmen.com/thefgmforum/threads/cm-bs-dar-gnarls-vs-artemis258-art-stay-out.23531/ ), and our last battle left the results... triumphantly unsettled. He claimed to have taken the field after the remainder of of my forces fell back the next day, I claim my Glorious Russians (what were left) used his burnt out tanks as BBQs and the the crew's helmets as vessels for the consumption of beer and vodka... The heavy casualties simply meaning more liquour for the ones who were left. War is hell. 


So, we return to another time, and another country. Just inside Holland, Winter 1944, where US and German forces both move towards a strategic crossroads on the edge of a forest...

 

FORCE SELECTION
In my last little bout with Gnarly, I completely misinterpreted his preferences in force selection. Instead of the infantry-heavy wave of Ukranian conscripts backed up by a few aging IFV's I wound up facing off a company of Armour, which I was barely able to stop (with two tanks... *giggle*). Now, on the Western front 1944, it is not ageing soviet cast-aways that he has for toys, but the very best of German military engineering! 

So, knowing what I'm coming up against, I have a somewhat bastardized armoured task force-y...thing. The split force-wise is about 40/60 infantry and armour, maybe a bit more in the tank department... Also Bazookas. Lots of bazookas. I didn't realise every halftrack had one stowed, so during set-up I was the Oprah of Bazookas. You get a bazooka, you get a bazooka! 

Infantry
To make up the core of my foot-sloggers, I've taken two platoons of armoured infantry (2nd and 3rd) from Dog company, 2 Battalion. @ platoon is mounted in a mix of M3 and M3A1 halfies which (with one exception) are packing 50's on them.... those tracks will be great for hosing down buildings or Hannos when the time comes... 

To help out with the city fighting 2nd Platoon (which will be tasked with the main assault) has been joined by a flamethrower team and a breach team - two things Ive been really loving in the Aachen campaign is the ability to kill it with fire and to make new entries... Flamethrowers in particular came out with RT but I've seen little use of them on the Eastern front. Anyway...

3rd platoon is dismounted, and will form a blocking/base of fire element (at least initially) and so doesn't receive AS much love as 2nd. They do however get something - in this case, a heavy machinegun team toting a M2HB of their own. 

Armour

The real toys! The base of my armour is (naturally) a platoon of Shermies. Knowing I'm likely to face Panthers, Bengal Tigers or Tiger 1's, two of the five are carrying the 76mm gun... The other three are bog standard M4A3s with the 75, and all have wet stowage. I also wanted something special to play with, so I have an additional M36 Tank Destroyer... a real glass cannon that will support 3rd Platoon. 

Artillery 
There isn't much left for this unfortunately, so aside from each platoon's 60mm mortar the only additional indirect support will be from a platoon of 81mm mortars somewhere off-map. I'm hoping the direct support will more than compensate for this though!



 

The Plan

hRph61C.jpg

Infantry movement in red, Armour in Blue, TD in green 


The plan of attack is pretty classic. 2nd platoon, along with it's specialist teams, halftracks and the three 75mm armed shermans, will move to the central-west edge of the village and secure the forest there. That will give them cover and clear lines of fire into the village if Gnarly comes from the south-east, or a nasty close quarters surprise should he try to do the same. I'm counting on the HE from the tanks and 50's from the tracks to turn the tide in any event, while the heavy concentration of bazookas and close terrain will allow me to open any tin cans I come across.

Meanwhile, the two 76mm Shermies will rush up to the edge of a small rise on the North/South road and overwatch the whole approach to 2nd platoon's objective. In particular, they can pop any armour that tries to use the treeline as cover, or hose any infantry that comes their way. The rise makes for a great hull down position and they should be there in the first few seconds of the turn.

 
dd6chwR.jpg
2nd platoon and the tanks wait to move off

On the eastern side of the map, 3rd platoon and their emplaced .50 will occupy overwatch positions on the south-eastern approach to the village... the woods here are dense enough to conceal my positions till I fire, and the slope allows me to hide most of my infantry squads out of the way if the return fire gets to high.... also I can fall back to a lovely sharp reverse slope position if armour shows up, letting it close enough to give them a bazooka to the face.

The road that crosses NE-SW is hidden pretty well by the same woods, and is sunken below much of the hills as well... this gives me a good spot to rush my Jackson down to where it can cover that road (and thus the village) from enemy vehicles, as well as allowing it to back up slightly and cover the SE should Gnarly bring his tanks from there, though I suspect he'll prefer the better concealment offered by the SW corner...

 T0dvmFG.jpg
3rd platoon with the M36 on the other side of the map

This should be good. I like the map, and the choice of three different deployment areas ( I could go any combination of either corner and/or the middle) makes things interesting...

Edited by Artemis258

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Well it's two turns in and the battle seems to be off to an insanely exciting start! Here's a little short story of the first two turns while I Work on the full report!

First Blood

"Poke our heads over that ridge Shifty, quick!" Sgt Santos prompting the kid driver with a gentle kick along with the orders. The boy, just 20, was a new transfer, the survivor of a 'faust ambush from another platoon's tank. Still he was fitting in nicely, a deft hand at the controls of the lumbering vehicle. Santos (the old gunner) himself had just taken command of Bulldog after a stray piece had taken Sgt Randal's head off. Right now he'd give anything to be back behind the long '76, rather than sitting with his own head out the cupola in the line of fire. "If we're lucky, the Krauts slept in this morning!" 

Santos glanced over at Tully's Vic, Ballbuster, as they approached the rise. Tully had been riding TC since D-day, and had elected to take the lead. Unlike Santos, he sat easily on the hatch's rim, steadying himself well against the rocking monstrosity below him. No fear that one. Within seconds they were cresting the rise, and Santos turned his attention back to the road they were covering. Without orders, Shifty brought the tank to a screeching halt with just the turret peeking down the highway. Bringing the Binos to his eyes, Santos found himself face to face with what he feared most"

[MEDIA=youtube]tEJTuVS_ZkQ[/MEDIA]

"GUNNER, AP TANK! 0 for 900! FIRE YOU BASTARD!" Time slowed as Santos felt the tank rock and the blast filled his vision... the glow of the shell's tracer arced towards the panther that had crested the opposite hillside just seconds after them, clearing the top of the German TC's head by a few yards. His blood running cold, he cursed his bad luck. "Bring 'er down a touch Jack, you're high". The training had set in, fear carried away by the first shell. Not so for his opposite number, as Santos watched the German TC frantically scanning for his unseen assailant. The tank rocked again, and this time a shower of sparks sprung up from the Panther. Almost as if in slow motion, Santos saw the German commander fall limp, before the bright orange tongues of flame began shooting skywards through the open hatch, consuming the body.

"Musta had one in the Loader's hands" The new gunner's grim voice cracked over the intercom "No escaping that BBQ".  Fire was a tanker's worst nightmare, and the Kraut kitten had sparked off right away. "Hey, a twofer! Look at the smoke!" 

Santos put the glass back to his eyes and looked again. Sure enough, some of the smoke pouring over the horizon was behind the Panther. The first shot had found something else unseen behind the hill, and lit it off as well. It looked like the Bulldog was burning all it's good luck 


 
5AcKPRL.jpg
Notice something about the smoke trail circled in red? 

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Damn, nice one.  Santos' has an ace for a gunner.  That is a good long shot for CM maps. 

I was fighting one of Kohlenklau's desert battles and the average distance shot for my Shermans was around 1500 meters, with some reaching out to almost 2000 meters.  There were a lot of misses for sure so the large shell capacity for the Shermans was well appreciated by me. :D 

Nine hundred to a thousand is plenty long in the confines of the maps in CMFB.  You've got elevation on the Kitty so plunging fire probably helped with the kill, but setting him on fire with the second shot was excellent.

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Yeah I was totally stoked with that, especially as it was only a partial pen :) While luck was definitely a part of that, I always save a few points to up the 'soft factors' on anything with a 76mm gun or better... Santos and his crew (as well as the other 76mm shermie in the plat, commanded by Tully) are both 'Veteran' skill level.  

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Turns 1-4

Map for context, showing initial movements of enemy and current positions. 

 GPGIqJD.jpg
MAP!

Well, that's got to have checked his enthusiasm somewhat. Right off the bat we seemed to have a similar idea about covering that road with a long gun, and I was just lucky to get there first... Hmmm that could have gone badly for me, but I suspect Gnarly was simply more cautious of the open ground than I and frankly there was no other way to do it... I suspect Gnarly had his panther on 'Hunt' (I moved at 'Fast') which meant by the time he was cresting my vehicles had come to a full stop... Lucked out on that mate, sorry. The panther wasn't the only thing to go down though - shortly after the Panther bought it Santos and his crew spotted a couple of Kraut infantry (panzergrenadiers?) running along the henge on the eastern side of the road and sent some HE their way, knocking down at least two.... I've put two more at the same spot and some MG fire as well, so hopefully that's convinced him not to pursue any more advances down this road... Then there's the matter of the phantom smoke... Did the first round drop low and light off another vehicle behind the hill? I have no clue... the smoke's died away now and I'm sort of left wondering if it was a graphical error from the burning panther or it really was a second hit... Time will tell. I've ordered a mortar strike from the 81's along the treeline opposite my assault platoon just in case anything comes that way. 

 7RM4ns0.jpg

Another shot of the burning tank!

Santos' companion tank, the other 76 shermie commanded by Tully, couldn't see much of anything from his spot however, so he's been moved back to a spot hull-down on the edge of my center forest, where hopefully he'll pick up on the StuG's that come along.  


 EZpvYS9.jpg
Tully's new View

In the middle of town, my advance has gone unhindered. Several half tracks and one of the 75 mm shermies got a bead momentarily on a StuG moving from the east with a squad mounted up, but sadly not long enough to get a round off. That could have really ruined Gnarly's day! Two of the Shermans have taken up overwatch at the elevated copses near the town, while a third has moved in with the troops to support them directly.

 slsCVN8.jpg
More Shermans, hiding like little girls.. note the smoke!


 My support platoon moved up likewise unhindered, and spotted a couple of half tracks loaded with infantry moving in down the other end of the crossroads. Sadly the .50 wasn't set up in time to give them a real surprise, but the 60mm mortar got set up in time to put a whole minute of sustained direct fire down on where I hope they alighted... Accurate and sustained mortar fire on a disembark point should shake him up a little more, and hopefully did a bit of damage as well... the .50, once set up, spotted a StuG hiding in the forest and (annoyingly) snapped a few bursts off on the end of turn 4, so it's time for him to relocate somewhere else. This whole time Gnarly's been laying a heavy smoke screen throughout the town, so other than a brief exchange of MG fire from our respective half tracks, there's been no direct contact between our assault sections. 

iPVSksr.jpg 
Mortar fire falls on the enemy (I hope)


Initial Appraisal 

Well, I think I was much closer to the mark than I was last time! It seems Gnarly's force comprises of some decently heavy armour supported by mechanised infantry, so I'm expecting a force balance roughly similar to mine... What I've seen so far: 
-1 Panther - Knocked Out
-2(?) StuGs - the question mark because it is possible that it's the same one twice. One was observed moving between the northern tree line and the forrest (from the panther's point of demise) while another has appeared above it's movement path in the forrest itself... it is possible that it backed in there, but I doubt it managed that unseen. 
-2 halftracks loaded with infantry. Standard stuff
-1 squad mounted on the StuG, plus a Panzerschreck team
-1 squad moving on foot down the highway. Got blowed up, at least partially. 
Unknown contacts: 
-Some kind of heavy armour in the western edge of his main forrest. Probably another StuG? That's where I'd hide my stugs. 
-More light track contacts from the south-eastern corner - half tracks moving infantry - potentially a divert from a plan on the highway?
-Some infantry moving in the south-west. I suspect a screening or recon force. 


So at this point my guesstimate as to his composition and plan; an assault group of infantry, probably reinforced platoon or depleted company strength (1.5-2 platoons) supported by armour and assault guns - I'm guessing at least a pair each of the StuGs and Panthers, though possibly as many as 4 of either. If it's less, there may be as much as a company of infantry with or without transport. 

The plan? I suspect support by fire from the woods while infantry pincer both ends of the town. The game opened with him laying a heavy smokscreen in the town itself so I'm thinking he wants to get in, occupy as many buildings as possible, and force an urban fight while plinking my tanks before they can help out....


New Plans? 

I'm going to shift my 2nd platoon into the village itself ASAP and try and get cover from any assault... it looks like Gnarly wants to contest the objective by hiding in buildings and I don't have the indirect firepower to level his side of things, so a street fight it's going to have to be. I can take advantage of his smoke screen to get my armour in cover there too, where the shermies 75 can do nasty work to anything inside a damaged building. I have to watch out though - I'm used to this tactic in italy in '43, where ze germanz don't have much in the way of man portable anti-tank weaponry... here they do, with fausts that can reach up to 100 meters in some cases... screening will be tricky and I'm starting to wish I had brought more breech teams! To this end I'm also pulling back elements of 3rd platoon as well, moving them up[ the road under the cover of the Jackson's 90mm gun. Street fights are bloody and one platoon won't cover it in there! 

The flanks will be left largely to the mortars and machine gun teams to cover, but if the pressure comes on too hard they've got good lines of retreat towards the town... there's no harm in shrinking my flanks when there's nothing there to really defend, and lots of open ground for him to cover to attack it. 

All that said I'm already feeling the distinct lack of infantry here... unless a Tiger 2 shows up, I think I'll regret taking the Jackson over a few more boots on the ground, but we'll see in time...

 

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No update yet (still waiting on a few more turns) but here's an action shot... 3rd platoon's attached .50 escapes just in time! That tree burst (HE fired by the angry Stug) is right above their old position. 

cpqBztS.jpg 

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Ok, I need to update this more regularly... These are getting waaay too wordy! Also you may have noticed, I've started modding my game! no more need for hand drawn icons! Haha! 

Turns 5-10 
Or:
How I wish I had a whole company of Infantry. 


As always, let's start with an updated map: 

7OzvfJS.jpg

Butcher's Bill:

3rd Squad, 2 plt: 8 casualties, no longer combat effective
3rd Plt Mortars: 4 casualties, but the last dude saved the tube so he's ok.. ish
Tanks:
No 3 (75mm) Multiple penetrations to the turret, all weapons systems disabled, turret crew are jam, no clue how the thing isn't destroyed. Parked, waiting for the hose crew and a new turret. 
No 4 (75mm) - single penetration to the roof of the driver's side, light damage to radio and tracks, no casualties

Enemy: 
One building smashed in, 
one squad engaged at turn 1 with HE (2 confirmed KIA)
One panther Brewed
Other casualties unknown. 

Events

Well, the rush into town went ok, could have been better, could have gone a lot worse. 1st squad made it in ok, taking up buildings on the edge of town to overwatch the south-west treeline... 3rd squad, however, got completely wrecked on their way to occupy the two buildings on the north (my) edge of the central crossroads.. it seems Ze Germanz beat me to their side, and were waiting. That squad is no longer combat effective, though they still have their bazookas! 
 
aq4wJcd.jpg
Sherman engages a building while a distant Stug takes out the Halftrack... the remnants of 3rd squad hide behind the building their comrades went down in... 

The Shermans moved in to help, and took some fire of their own. No 3 took multiple hits from the stug in the high forest, including two turent pens which knocked out the weapons and killed the turret crew. The driver and assistant however managed to pull the tank back out of harms way, and have now hidden in the north-west village... Another tank took a single pen, but no major damage... 

P7KO8t9.jpg 
Lucky Sherman!

That same stug then shifted fire to the mortar crew that was behind the tank and plugged a few in (I thought they were in better concealment... apparently not) and blew most of them away... only one survivor from the whole crew, but the Stug has since moved so he's going to stay there and burn his ammo out before retreating. 



On the east side, it's been mostly quiet... as per my last post that errant .50 which so stupidly gave away it's position got out of dodge just in time for there to be some fireworks on their old position, and they're on their way to help out in the town along with 1st and 3rd squad of 3 platoon... In other news, one of 3 plat's mg's got a good spot on that errant heavy contact...Another kitten! the M36 popped over the ridge and traded some shots with it, with neither the surprised panther nor the TD getting a hit...

 

 

Damned German commander really had his wits about him though, as after the TD retreated he then got a bead on poor Tully (the other 76), dropping a round straight into the hull at 900 meters... which ricocheted off harmlessly! 



Plan: 

Ok, so I've got a good grip on the enemy force... at least two stugs, two pantehrs (including the one that lost out on turn 1) and a decent block of infantry... I've also spotted on-map 81mm mortars and one of those tripple-20mm halftracks... He might have more infantry than I expect!


One thing's for certain, I certainly don't have the infantry to take the town off him - at least not while he has armour in overwatch. Time to shift to a defensive footing, hold what I've got and contest the objective with my infantry, and try to kill my second Panther!

Luckily the damned thing's distracted with Tully at the moment, so he'll take a snap-shot (15 second target along with a 15 second pause before reversing into defilade) while the jackson pops up for another shot... I'm hoping that the panther won't see the Jackson while it's firing on the Sherman, and it's been a few turns since the TD popped up so maybe my opponent's forgotten about it...? One can hope. 


Elsewise, the lack of infantry is really hurting me. I'm putting as much MG fire as I can into anything I can lay a bead on, direct firing mortars on the same, and praying. Blood is going to flood the gutters of this little village before this is over!

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