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Rinaldi

Arracourt Battlepack: Preview AAR

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Turns 25-27:

The next set of turns are a period of consolidation and assembly for the finishing phases of the attack on Ley and the preparation for a renewed drive on the high ground. It is therefore an excellent interlude to look at the situation and my plans therein.          

The balance of the 37th are now in position and in formation; ready to advance. The Scheme of Maneuver I have settled on will involve an attack oriented towards the base of Hill 260 by B/37th and Lt. Col Abrams. C/37th will move to the crest of Mannecourt Hill and engage by fire the Panzer IVs whom are still in position. This movement will be preceded by HE fire on Hill 260 and masking fires on both Hill 241 and Hill 260. Assault Guns, 1 from both companies and the HQ section are concentrated under Major Hunter, the XO of the Battalion, in addition to the 81mm platoon. A visualization of B/37th’s intended movements are illustrated below. Some errata: The frontage is actually for all elements and actually extends past the edges of the picture, I only realized how misleading it looks after I uploaded it. B/37th's frontage is about 250m.

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An interesting aside, and a wonderful showcase of C2 in action as aforementioned. The entire Battalion is now aware of the presence of an ATG on Hill 260 after the info was delivered via runner to Lt. Col Abrams. The appropriately titled image shows the initial spread of the info by the surviving tank crew members reporting it to Abrams. A minute later, he shared their (now dated) ? contact icon. A minute or so later, most of the Officers in the two companies were aware of it. The balance of tanks in the two assault companies were made aware of it in less than two minutes’ time. Most engagements ultimately come down to whom see whom first, so any scrap of information or rumor is something a commander should claw for.

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In Ley, 2/A/10th have arrived and have begun assembling to aid 4/A/10th in their efforts to clear the enemy out. The 3rd Platoon is still clearing the handful of casualties caused by the indirect fire and will not be needed for the attack, hopefully. The scheme of maneuver:

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Tank 1 helps cut the main road, with the weapons teams and a squad from 4/A/10th. The balance of the 4th Platoon advances through the backyards on the left, clearing out the Germans from the row houses as encountered. A tank will accompany them. 2/A/10 will advance on the right, both through backyards and down the main road.

Edited by Rinaldi

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13 hours ago, Barkhorn1x said:

Great AAR.  Great info.  So how does one acquire this community-driven package?

When it's done. Likely the Scenario Depot. Long way to go yet.

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On 2/5/2017 at 3:14 PM, Rinaldi said:

 <Snip> An interesting aside, and a wonderful showcase of C2 in action as aforementioned. The entire Battalion is now aware of the presence of an ATG on Hill 260 after the info was delivered via runner to Lt. Col Abrams. The appropriately titled image shows the initial spread of the info by the surviving tank crew members reporting it to Abrams. A minute later, he shared their (now dated) ? contact icon. A minute or so later, most of the Officers in the two companies were aware of it. The balance of tanks in the two assault companies were made aware of it in less than two minutes’ time. Most engagements ultimately come down to whom see whom first, so any scrap of information or rumor is something a commander should claw for. 

XR8ge2j.png

 

Very interesting AAR.  I really like how you are demonstrating the game mechanics in action with this AAR.   IMO explaining how the game actually "works" is a very useful tool of the forum.  Thanks for doing this.   

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On 2/7/2017 at 6:18 PM, Barkhorn1x said:

Great AAR.  Great info.  So how does one acquire this community-driven package?

I see @Ithikial_AU already addressed this. Thanks, however, for the praise. Hopefully it will keep your appetite whet as we work away.

5 hours ago, MOS:96B2P said:

Very interesting AAR.  I really like how you are demonstrating the game mechanics in action with this AAR.   IMO explaining how the game actually "works" is a very useful tool of the forum.  Thanks for doing this.   

Cheers @MOS:96B2P - I usually leave the explanation of technical details to others whom do it much better in their AARs, but felt this was worth putting in.

Now, time for a large update; I was going to keep the handful of turns at a time formula but figured it would be cruel to leave anyone in suspense over the attack on Hills 241 and 260, so here it is, the battle for the high ground:

Turns 28-30:

4/A/10 and 2/A/10 stack up and prepare to push into Ley, by the 30th turn they are exchanging fire with stragglers using the bushes and hedges separating yards as cover. It is at present nothing serious, and I sincerely hope the lackluster fire continues rather than the fierce volume of fire encountered after the initial successful dismount into town.

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Final orders are given to all elements of the 37th (on ‘pause’ until the time to move arrives) on Mannecourt Hill. The advance’s start has been frustrated somewhat by the frustratingly bad sight lines for the 81mm moratrs. This is remedied by displacing them forward a bit more, and they are just setting up in their new positions as the Turn 30 ends. Their new position also allows for direct-observe fire on parts of Hill 241 which could greatly expedite the pace of the attack. The forward observers from the Mortar Platoon and the attached 94th AFAB parties are already straining every nerve to re-establish contact with the enemy positions.

Turns 31-33:

In Ley, the action is rapidly resembling a ‘mop-up’ as the lead two man teams for each platoon find themselves more than capable of engaging and destroying lone German infantry found hiding in houses. 2/A/10th begins engaging what few coherent groups of enemy are left in the row houses, and after a brief exchange of fire in which the Germans clearly come off the worse, they attempt to fall back – right into 4/A/10th’s waiting arms.

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Spraying every house for 30 seconds or so before they move a bit further often prompts a response from the Germans – depending on their stomach for the fight – to either return fire or retreat. In the case of the former, they are often overwhelmed by concentrated return fire, in the case of the latter…the slaughter is prodigious:

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While 2/A/10 suffers two fatalities over the course of these actions, the fight in Ley is essentially over and no longer worth following too closely – at least for now. Let’s turn our attentions back to the concurrent action on the high ground.
Enemy indirect fire begins ranging in on the assembly area of B/37th, and likewise my own tubes begin firing in earnest on Hill 260. The rounds are generally on target within a minute or so and the HE spotting rounds are swapped for WP. One of the tubes can be seen firing on the ? contact of the ATG, the dust plume from the spotting rounds clearly visible across the gentle rise of the hill. The 81mms are in a superb position of defilade.

By the end of the 33rd turn the show is ready to start; and the Assault Guns have, like the mortars, found the range:

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Turns 34-36:

The attack begins with C/37th’s remnants (7 effectives) and B/37th (13 effectives if we lump in Abrams) pushing up. The Assault Guns and 81mms continue a steady rate of HE and WP fire on known and suspected positions. By the end of the first turn B/37th has elements over the crest of Mannecourt Hill and not taking heavy fire – a good sign!

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C/37th in the meanwhile has re-established contact with the remaining Panzer IVs and a firefight between the armor develops once more. The initial volleys are inaccurate and indecisive, the only hit being scored by either side being a harmless hit against a Sherman’s glacis at approximately 1400m.

B/37th begins transiting into the valley, firing as they move, adding to the weight of fire. The reserve platoon of B/37th halts in the treeline at the crest of the hill to provide overwatch, with the plan that they will follow shortly and ‘sweep’ Hill 260 as previously planned. Sure enough, within moments  of entering the treeline Abrams personally spots a second, unmasked ATG on Hill 260. The entire platoon and himself open fire on it as Leach (B/37th’s CO) takes the balance of the platoon at a dash into dead ground. The ATG is able to claim two tanks before being spotted and overwhelmed by fire. The crew safely bail.

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Between the maneuvering elements, the Germans now find their previously concentrated fire split; and the results are telling. These two ATGs on Hill 260 certainly were enfilading C/37th on its first attempt across the crest of Mannecourt Hill, and without their added punch the firefight with the Panzer IVs now goes wholly C/37th’s way. By the end of the set of turns C/37th has found a good firing solution and is able to KO two Panzers – at no losses to themselves. The situation on the Hills can be seen below in detail, so a reader can orient themselves. Also pictured is C/37th’s two knockout hits.

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For a loss of two further Shermans, we can claim two enemy Panzers knocked out and two ATGs possibly KO’d or about to be KO’d. The attack is going splendidly and I believe I can confidently say will be over within the next several minutes. B/37th will quickly re-assemble before cresting the slope of Hill 241 to destroy any remaining Panzers (which by my estimates, there should be no more than 2 remaining) while Abrams and the covering platoon make sure Hill 260 is devoid of any further nasty surprises.

Turns 37-41:

The reserve platoon of B/37th, having covered the movement of the Company to dead ground, now begin bounding in two-tank sections towards Hill 260. Naturally, they fire as they move the entire time on the anti-tank gun’s positions. The masking fires that had been obscuring Hill 260 begin to dissipate, and Lt. Col. Abram’s is able to discern that one of the two anti-tank guns is indeed still active. He takes it under fire and personally knocks the crew out from his position, the anti-tank gun is unable to cause any damage to the tank platoon climbing the slope. Hill 260 is confirmed clear shortly thereafter, with the other anti-tank gun confirmed knocked out.

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C/37th continues to exchange fire for the first minutes with a remaining pair of Panzer IVs, but they quickly call it quits and reverse out of sight just behind the crest of Hill 241. Their escape is only transitory as the balance of B/37th, now organized in the valley between the two hills, begins its left hook up and over the crest of Hill 241.

The rest of B/37th finish their sweep of Hill 241 at around the same time, knocking out the two fugitive Panzer IVs in an utterly one sided engagement, firing as they move at a slow and steady speed. In these final actions no further friendly armor is lost.

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Halftracks – likely prime movers for the Paks - are spotted attempting to escape, and are also taken under fire at range and destroyed. It is safe to say that the “Battle for the High Ground” has ended, and a considerable and formidable enemy force has been overwhelmed. C/37th, or at least elements of it, will outpost Mannecourt Hill while B/37th returns to Ley to re-assemble for the renewed push South. Ley is in the process of being mopped up and it is more than safe to begin concentrating South of it. The only potential risk to this is the previously spotted Panzer IV along the Ley-Moncourt road that I chose not to engage. Now it would be prudent to put fire down, even at excessive range, to drive it off. That however, can wait until the next report.

Edited by Rinaldi
Minor errors

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4 hours ago, Barkhorn1x said:

Rinaldi; Can you tell us which German unit the 37th AB is up against?

I can, to an extent. The Panzer IVs were the remaining 'runners' of both the 2113 (113th Pz.Bde) and the 2111th (111th Pz.Bde) Panzer Abteilungs, concentrated into a battlegroup with a few added elements. Sources are pretty vague and nebulous as to the exact strength of the unit, but all suggest no larger than a reinforced Company, and those that hazard numbers give us between 15-19 - so it checks out.

The infantry is another matter, we have no exact idea, but it is likely to have been members of the 2113th PanzerGrenadier regiment in about Battalion (-) strength sprinkled through the valley and ostensibly facing West. Moncourt had been seized and established as an HQ for the 113th brigade, so this is at best an educated guess on my part. The 111th did the bulk of the attacking that day, which further reinforces my belief, but it very well could have been members of the 2111th regiment defending the area, we'll never know for certain.

Edited by Rinaldi

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TY for the info. Rinaldi.  Good stuff.  I wonder if the 3rd Army ADs would have been so successful during the Arracourt battles if Hitler had devoted the Pz Brigade resources to refitting the 11th Panzer, 21st Panzer and the 17th SS PG divisions.  The decision to form these brand new armor heavy formations made little sense when veteran formations were allowed to wither.

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Great AAR, Rinaldi, I love to see this, battalion operation with long movement axes, hull-down positions in rolling terrain, and long range fire. This is real tank combat.

Keep it up!

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On 2/11/2017 at 0:02 PM, hank24 said:

Great AAR, Rinaldi, I love to see this, battalion operation with long movement axes, hull-down positions in rolling terrain, and long range fire. This is real tank combat.

Keep it up!

Thanks hank, these types of missions are right up my alley - its part of the reason why I decided to make it to begin with. A lot of others have said it on the forum but it's worth repeating, the best missions to make are the ones you'd want to play yourself.

Scheme of Maneuver – Approaching and Assaulting Moncourt (Turns 41-44):

Re-assembly to the South of Ley has begun, with C/37th remaining to outpost the now secured high ground and act as Battalion reserve. The assault guns will remain concentrated under HQ/37th and HQ/10th will establish a CP in Ley.

Assembly and re-organizing will however take some time. This is an excellent opportunity to analyze the terrain around our next objective of Moncourt and draft a tentative scheme of maneuver. True to my promise, I will attempt to keep it as near as possible to what the Americans did in reality; and I can immediately see the wisdom in their choices.

BvZtOiW.png

The country between the two towns consists of more gentle and subtle slopes than what we saw around Ley, and facilitates much more open sightlines. A muddy ditch bisects the route of advance, and will necessarily mean that horizontal communications between the two maneuver teams will be poor.

The two maneuver teams (named, respectively, after the tank company commanders) will be “Leach” consisting of B/37th and C/10th and “Spencer” consisting of A/37th and A/10th. Spencer, just like at Ley, will be tasked with the assault into the town proper. However, I am less than satisfied with the more traditional method of dismounting in dead ground then moving in to assault. Given the open terrain and the firepower at my disposal I feel all this does is over-expose my infantry to hostile fire. With how successful the close dismount in Ley was on a small scale, I’m likely going to repeat the feat with the entirety of A/10th for Moncourt.

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Above is close-up of the final approach to Moncourt that Team Spencer would take. The terrain slopes generally upwards to Moncourt, allowing for the team to move quite close to the town before being truly exposed to fire from it – this should help facilitate a rapid dismount even more. A/37th can walk the halftracks onto town with close ranged fire, hopefully aided greatly by the same crushing indirect fire we opened the battle with at Ley.

Team Leach will be in a position to support at range, adding to the general weight of fire and hoped-for shock effect. From their support-by-fire position they can also, should disaster visit Team Spencer, advance into town quite easily themselves, as a hill to the South-East of Moncourt could allow me to break line of sight and hook into town.

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Above is a close-up of the intended position for Team Leach. It will provide excellent hull-down for the armor and allow for the halftracks to add their fire in relative safety. My only concerns are the excessive range (just short of 2km) and the questionable ability to fully cover Team Spencer’s approach. However, it’s the best position I was able to pick out that is at a stand-off distance.

The attack will once again be characterized by marching fire and direct, no-nonsense maneuvering.

The town itself (pictured below) is much less claustrophobic than Ley and should prove much less of a problem in terms of house-to-house fighting once I establish a toe-hold. The presence of a wooded hill to the South and numerous orchards offer potential positions that both could enfilade and dominate movement in town proper, however. Careful timing and thorough area fire needs to be observed if I want to avoid my thin-skinned halftracks becoming target practice. 

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Turns 45 – 47

The next few turns will naturally be slow and generally uneventful as everyone moves back to Ley to assemble. However, there is the issue of the previously spotted Panzer IV along the Ley-Moncourt road. I had ignored it and chose not to engage, since it seemed oblivious and we were rapidly moving past its potential field of fire. Now, with the goal of assembly, it could prove to be a legitimate threat.

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A tank section from A/37th, aware of its rough position due to radio traffic, establish a battle position in Ley from which to engage the Panzer IV. They spot it by the end of the first turn. At excessive range, its unsurprising that it takes a while for either Sherman to find an effective firing solution. The first shot is high, the second and third bounce off the Panzer IV’s hull armor, but the fourth finds its mark with a clean turret penetration.

The Panzer, ostensibly in an ambush position, was buttoned up and oblivious to its danger, by the time it had an inkling of where it was being assailed from, it was too late.

I suspect the next few turns will be quiet and uneventful, and will most likely not report on them whatsoever. We will pick up once Team Leach begins entering its intended battle position, unless any more potential ambushes intervene on the movement towards Moncourt.

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Rinaldi,

I'm confused. While on the once hand your tank companies look a bit dinged up (and "A" a lot--9 left from 17), you've got a battalion (-) of Armored Infantry, and an entire Armored FA Battalion. In aggregate, I'd say your force is much closer to a Regiment (-) than a Battalion (+). At least, that's how I would rate it. You have an enormous amount of combat power there. Haven't done more than skim the beginning, as far as reading (been up all night), but I confess myself baffled by your"airburst artillery" diagram. Did Fuze, MT get added under 4.0, and I missed the memo? If not, then you have VT well before it ever saw ground combat. Please explain. Pretty cool you're doing Arracourt, which I first got exposed to in AH's The General. Here's that blast from the past.

The Battle of Arracourt by Alan R. Arvold  Vol 28, No. 4  Three scenarios covering the Battle of Arracourt in 1944 between the Americans and the Germans.  Uses only original Panzer Leader units and rules.
 

Regards,

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler

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40 minutes ago, John Kettler said:

Haven't done more than skim the beginning, as far as reading (been up all night), but I confess myself baffled by your"airburst artillery" diagram. Did Fuze, MT get added under 4.0, and I missed the memo? If not, then you have VT well before it ever saw ground combat. Please explain. Pretty cool you're doing Arracourt, which I first got exposed to in AH's The General. Here's that blast from the past.

Hey John, glad to see its caught your interest. You'll be happy to hear you've missed nothing viz. artillery - the timed fires are possible in the deployment phase and on anything that has been pre-registered via TRP. This would, like in reality, allow for timed fuses due to foreknowledge of ETA. It also would imply that the technical fire data has already been confirmed, as to my knowledge, setting time fuzes 'at the gun' was a rarity prior to VT and woefully inaccurate when done so.

The ability to do this with pre-registered fires has been around since at least 3.0, as can be seen here - though you'll notice it is not fully reliable.

Thanks for the .pdfs - we actually had the first one provided to us by one of the team members. I can certainly see Arracourt giving people a lot of mileage in old table-tops and hex based games.

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Rinaldi,

Thanks for the swift reply, your cogent response and your appreciation. Am glad you found the Arracourt materials of interest. There was a time when my friends and I were going hot and heavy on the game, and Arracourt looked so inviting and cool, but instead I played the gigantic (stacks of counters everywhere) GOODWOOD. If you thought the British and Canadians had it bad historically... My recollection was it was so brain overwhelming and horrible in terms of casualties I believe I found a new game after that!

Regards,

John Kettler

 

Edited by John Kettler

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@John Kettler - Yes this scenario is 'the odd one out' against most of of the scenarios of the pack since it's the Allies on the offensive. Most others will involve them reacting to surprise German movements. After the dawn attack of the Sept 20th attack against CCA HQ was repulsed, all CCA forces turned around from their advance north and returned to the vicinity of Arracourt at speed. Lt Col Abrams conducted an offensive in the afternoon and into the night running south through Ley to Moncourt to clear the German line 'once and for all.' (Hence the scenario name of Rinaldi's). He had his full 37th Battalion and the 10th Armored Infantry to do this. It was a constant attack that lasted hours and quite rarely for the time into the darkness of night. Despite the risks, A Company of each Battalion entered Moncourt in the pitch black to dig the Germans out. It was all for nought though since the US forces pulled back soon after their success and the Germans returned to occupy the positions, the stalemate started to settle in.

Working with these forces in the editor and the vast space involved it's easy to see why CCA 4th AD were constantly surprised. They simply didn't have the manpower to a continuous front line on three sides around Arrocourt and the Germans attacked from all three directions over the course of week.

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The Advance Resumes (Turns 60 – 65)

By the 60th turn the formations are assembled and ready to begin advancing. This leaves an hour and a half to secure Moncourt; and I suspect it will take between 10 and 15 minutes to advance to attack positions and fully establish a base of fire.

It took about an hour to secure Ley – albeit that was with some tactical mistakes. While I believe time is going to start being a factor I certainly don’t feel a crunch just yet. At any rate, hurrying will simply lead to excessive casualties and fail two objectives instead of just one. So, smooth is fast, and the attack will begin when all elements are in position.

It’s worth looking at the formations as they move across the valley floor; a Company team in close formation is a formidable sight. However, reasonable direction must be given to prevent it from becoming a total, vulnerable mess. Both Team Leach and Team Spencer are in narrow and deep formations. Team Leach is the larger of the two due to HQ/37th ‘tagging along’ and the graphic below shows how concentrated they are just prior to starting the attack.

You’ll notice that they no longer have a tank platoon in reserve: A sure sign of the mission and total losses suffered by the Battalion in the fighting for the high ground. This takes away greatly from the flexibility of the formation, but there’s little that can be done without diminishing its fire power.

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The formation will naturally lengthen out as they begin moving:  I have no idea what’s in front of me and there are a few potential ambush positions between Ley and the intended base of fire, so it would be prudent to have the carriers following at great interval. Below you see Team Leach moving out:

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While the formation is still quite compact, the tanks are about 45 seconds travel time ahead of the halftracks, creating what I hope to be enough safety room in the unlikely event of strong and unexpected contact. In even more uncertain terrain and circumstances I would be moving the armor a full minute ahead of the main formation.

By the 65th turn all units are well and truly moving. They will begin a marching fire on Moncourt the moment they get close enough for it to be feasible.

Timed fires are organized by the two battalion level forward observers as the formations advance. The fire plan will be much the same as it was for Ley, with two batteries firing general, the third firing air burst. The barrage will be more intense and will only lift, however, when Team Spencer is in an assault position. The barrage is set to begin after ten minutes. Timing will be key here. The hope is to be lifting the barrage as my mounted infantry dismount close to town. The risk of fratricide is incredibly high.

More to follow -  and sorry for the delay!

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Turns 65-67:

Team Leach advances without incident and is just about to enter its intended firing position by the end of these sets of turns.

Team Spencer comes under fire from a Panzer IV in ambush at another farm along the Ley-Moncourt road. A second Panzer IV, much further back from the first, soon reveals itself.  The lead tanks react swiftly, while the infantry halt, safely out of range of effective fire.

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Moving in wedge Team Spencer has its left most platoon (in reality a platoon reduced to a section and the CO himself) stop to engage; HE and area fire on the forest in front followed by a target arc to account for both Panzer IVs. The rest of the company, at  platoon strength, will wheel around to prevent the escape of the close Panzer IV and – hopefully – take it in the rear before it  can be a threat.

An exchange of fire with the distant Panzer IV soon develops, and in a tense exchange, the Americans find the mark first. Captain Spencer scores a hit on the Panzer  IV; he is one of only two 76s in the entirety of the battalion and its additional punch is clear.

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However, just as the Panzer IV is struck, it fires off one final shot. The round is airborne as the 67th turn ends. Nothing can be done but to wait and see.

I belatedly realize that I foolishly did not order marching fire on these farmsteads that dot the countryside as I moved to Moncourt. Though I have not been punished for this security lapse, a handful of dismounts with AT weapons could’ve savaged me. An infantry platoon will move to quickly sweep each farm as we pass it, and then re-enter the formation as reserve.

A platoon from A/10th moves up to belatedly secure the first farmstead, which houses the burning Panzer IV engaged way back during assembly. I expect to find nothing more than a few hiding crew members, given the lack of fire taken. A welcome dose  of luck to make up for smarts, in this case.

Turns 68 – 70:

The shell hits the front wheel of a Sherman, severely damaging its mobility – but the tank is still operational and mobile, barely! Under cover from halftrack fire, a squad pushes up to investigate the farm and quickly captures and wounds an enemy crew sheltering in a barn.

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Team Spencer wraps up the firefight with the Panzer IVs when the second one is taken in the rear by the tank section sweeping up behind it.

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Team Leach is fully in their positions and ready to engage by the end of turn 70. Artillery is still three minutes out, which should give hopefully enough ample time to get Team Spencer back on track to attack Moncourt.

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Turns 71 to 74:

Frontage begins to compress to about 1100m total; an attempt to maximize firepower as the attack on Moncourt begin. Team Leach is holding its fire until Team Spencer has advanced to a point where it too can fire at Moncourt, the intention is for all teams to open fire roughly at the same time to maximize shock effect and rob the enemy of any safe zone to displace to. There is one exception, however: a Panzer IV is spotted dug in on the main street of Ley and is engaged and destroyed by elements of Team Leach.

By turn 73, the barrage has begun:

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Moncourt, like Ley, is subject to a fire concentration by the 94th Armored Field Artillery. The barrage at its current intensity is set to last approximately 5 minutes. The hope is to be ready to dismount and break in as the barrage lifts.

Team Spencer’s rough entry plan is set out below. Marching fire from the tanks will cover a tight formation; the infantry carriers will only be moving approximately 15 seconds behind the armor. The biggest problem area, asides from the buildings themselves is the orchard to the flank; all of these areas will be a focus for fire. Team Leach’s fire should be hitting the buildings across the street and not easily fired upon by Spencer, giving (hopefully) total coverage. For the sake of speed, I will forego the use of smoke this time around. A full three platoons will be attacking this time, and no more than a platoon of tanks will break into Moncourt with the infantry, just as at Ley.

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Again it’s hard to overemphasize the assumption of risk it takes to do a maneuver like this, but there’s a lot to be said for the high risk, high reward route.  We must hope that the sheer overwhelming amount of firepower about to be unleashed on this small village is as impressive in effect as it will no doubt look.

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We've entered the end-game! Thank you to those who have followed the thread. I look forward to starting the next scenario assigned to me in this project. Hopefully this preview AAR will show off what type of terrain you will be fighting the AI or your mates in. I think, its safe to say, that this should be a unique historical experience for CMBN. In a few days, I will be uploading a .pdf of this AAR for easier reading or if anyone wants to share this to a blog or something similar. Just need to proof read this word salad that passes for writing.

The End Game: Sweeping Moncourt (Turns 75 to Turn 90)

Things move quickly once the barrage begins, unlike Ley, there will be no mucking about, and I have no desire to have my dismounts stand under withering artillery fire as they fight on foot over the gentle, open Lorraine pastureland. The 105 barrage is helped along by direct fire from both maneuver teams armored elements. Team Leach, and HQ/37th in particular deliver withering fire in excess of 1800m, smashing Ley with HE and .50 caliber fire.  

As I hoped, the fire on Moncourt greatly is exceeding even that put down on Ley. The town being slightly smaller definitely helps concentrate fire, and soon buildings begin collapsing at a breathtaking rate. Moments like this made me wish CM had dynamic fire. Under such withering HE fire even the stone and plaster houses of inner France would be a blazing inferno on the horizon. Regardless, Moncourt is soon covered in a thick cloud of dust.

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Team Spencer’s armor is moving and firing consistently, inexorably towards Moncourt, adding to the overwhelming fire. The tankers are unbuttoned but MG fire soon forces a few to duck their heads in. The very fact that they are still taking MG fire is disheartening – the Germans seem willing to cling to their positions and fight, as they had in Ley. Soon, however, the tankers have a bigger threat to worry about. Arrayed in a hedgehog formation around the open town square and Eglise is a platoon of Panzer IVs.

In the ensuing exchange of fire, a Sherman is struck twice and is knocked out – but the Panzer IVs, buttoned up and firing through a pall of dust and smoke, come off the worse. Two are swiftly knocked out and the remaining two are knocked out in the short but sharp street fighting that follows.

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By the 78th turn the artillery barrage that has covered the advance of Team Spencer begins to abate. It’s the moment of truth, buttoned up for their duel with the Panzers, I cannot gauge how many Germans are still in position to threaten a dismount. The tanks of Team Spencer spray the row houses that could threaten my halftracks with coax and HE and we get in among the enemy.

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The halftracks move in at top speed – frankly shocking me with how rapidly they can move with a ‘fast’ command – and unceremoniously dump their infantry not even 50m from the houses. The HTs are not greeted with a maelstrom of small arms fire, a fantastic sign. The infantry quickly hustles forwards.

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The plan for clearing the town is unchanged from Ley. A lot of speculative fire on each and every single house followed by 2 to 4 man teams – preferably armed with BARs, probe forward to either secure the house or cut down the stunned Germans as they attempt to slip out. Just like at Ley, it works; and at a much faster rate than before! The German garrison do not share their predecessors stomach for the fight and often make a run for it at the last possible moment, drawing furious amounts of fire from the over watching infantry. Soon a proper foothold is made, the infantry takes a deep breath, waits for weapon teams and tanks to cut the road and establish kill-zones, and presses on.

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The German defenders of Moncourt are rapidly reduced to a horde of refugees running for cover; only a few HMGs covering the town length-wise and evidently spared from the overwhelming barrage cause us any trouble. Tank-infantry teams rapidly deal with them as they are identified, though a few bursts cause light losses.

These same tank-infantry teams cause the bulk of losses to the fleeing, shell-shocked enemy. Caught in kill-zones, just as they ultimately were at Ley, the slaughter is once more prodigious.

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The enemy surrender with about an hour of play left. Moncourt, despite having more forces arrayed within it, is taken in a quarter of a time as Ley was. The shift to more shock-focused tactics seems to pay off, once again showing that high-risk, high-reward maneuvers have their place in Combat Mission if you have the firepower to dole out.

An enemy surrender automatically gives an attacker a total victory - and despite fairly serious tank losses, I can be well satisfied with the outcome. The losses, unsurprisingly, are concentrated in Team Spencer, whom assaulted both Moncourt and Ley. Tank losses are a bit more spread out, but from an operational objective I have met the demands placed upon me by Combat Command A: My taskforce is more than capable of fighting at a similar intensity on short notice.

It is worth noting that, functionally, my tank losses are closer to the Germans; I have several ‘mission killed’ tanks with damaged main weaponry or damaged tracks. I would estimate my actual losses at approximately 12 tanks – still a highly favorable loss ratio and it leaves Abrams with more than enough tanks to continue offensive and defensive actions.

Indeed, such emphasis on ammo and force preservation will probably be needed, should our development team package these missions as a continuous campaign. ;)

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Edited by Rinaldi
Added AAR screen

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Rinaldi,

Still haven't actually read this, but popped over for a peek, saw your assault formation diagram and once again read about timed airburst fire. For the sake of argument, let's say I buy the "They had time to work out all the fuze timings for the Turn 1 barrage" assertion. Seems to me that no such argument can be mounted now, so how can you yet again be conducting airburst fire? You had said before, I believe, that Fuze MT wasn't in the game, so how can you conduct a shoot while using a fuzing option not available? Am starting to think that somewhere in the artillery coding fuzing from some other game or maybe Fuze, VT in this one has crept in. "Believe we have a bug, Houston."

Regards,

John Kettler 

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