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Taking some "unfair" Roads to Leningrad scenarios a bit further...


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JasonC,

Your thread on this game and the kind of CM scenarios it can be used to create has made me think about the game "A Victory Lost," which your praised some time ago. IIRC, both games are all about operational tempo and the initiative.

I am curious what kind of scenarios could be created using this game. Obviously, the opening of Saturn has been done before and is easy to imagine. But what about the later German counterattacks (eg against Popov, 3TA etc)? What kind of tactical battles did Manstein's counterattack set up? Was surprise or huge local armor odds what gave the Germans the advantage? Or fresh troops (in the case of II SS Panzer Corps)? I'm just wondering how the operational situation created tactical battles that obviously favored the Germans and what they would look like. Probably not as interesting as the Leningrad scenarios, as I would guess infantry and artillery played less of a role, but am curious nonetheless.

Of course, I'm not asking for you to make scenarios or anything. I'm just looking for some insight on how operational moves dictated the tactical fight in this particular period.

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The main thing is just that concentrated panzer spearheads with full strength tank regiments hit scattered and "blown", step-reduced Russian tank formations. They then fight them several times in succession, getting many on fews each time. That is the big thing the counterattack brings to the party. The Russians then do manage to counterattack straight at the German spearheads with fresher tank formations. But that doesn't work so well either, given the tech disparity at that moment.

What does this translate to tactically, early and later on? Early, you'd have German combined arms KGs with full Panzer IV long companies fighting Russian tank formations that are lucky to have a T-34 platoon together in one place. But make them fight a couple of those on the same map. Later, it is more like even numbers but with the Germans again in Panzer IV longs and combined arms, the Russians tank heavy (some riders, little else). In between you'd see some of those German KGs fighting rifle forces "left" by evaporating Russian tank formations - in those the Germans are negative odds in infantry but bring half - companies of armor, minimum, while the Russians have a few towed guns only for the armor war.

Frankly that one has been done to death and it is something of an overblown myth. I mean, the Russians romped for most of the period and most of the front, but everyone tries to pretend that only the backhander happened. I've covered Little Saturn in a scenario pack, incidentally, and it is very far from being a story of German edge through operational maneuvering. Instead it is a story of evaporating Italians, evaporating Hungarians, and cut off German infantry formations left by the previous. Plus, to be sure, rear area raids by Russian tank forces that eventually get overextended and counterattacked. (See "Last stand of the 24th Tank Corps" after the Tatinskaya airfield raid e.g.)

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So what would the first of those look like? Personally I prefer smaller scenarios but this sort of thing is best shown up a bit in scale.

The fight type is a meeting engagement, time is dusk with rain and fog. The Russians (all mech parent) are stretched out east to west along a road through farmland with a village in the center; they are deployed in 3 separate set-up zones. The map is longer east west than its heigh north-south. Roughly 1.5 km by 1 km in those dimensions (or 1.2 and 0.8 if you want a fog knife-fight, up to you).

western group -

2 veteran T-70s (give them some tungsten BTW)

3 T-34s late, 2 vet 1 regular

SMG platoon (-) with HQ, 2 7 man SMG squads, tank hunter, riding

the T-34s.

middle group (in village)

4 T-34s (one separate, commander, rest platooned), 1 regular in the platoon rest veterans.

SMG platoon (-) as above plus company HQ

veteran sniper riding with the company HQ on the 4th T-34

veteran motor rifle platoon (with ATR), 4 trucks.

Eastern group

Same composition as middle group minus the command tank, company HQ and sniper.

Overall the Russians thus get about 125 men, half of them tommy gunner tank riders and the other half motor rifle. They get a company of T-34s and a section of T-70 scout tanks, 2 ATRs, 3 tank hunters with molotovs only, and 8 trucks. They are high quality, armor and infantry strong, no support weapons to speak of, not artillery.

Understand, that is approximately what a tank *brigade* looks like at this stage of the campaign. Down to the hard core, tough as nails survivors.

Now the Germans (all SS mech) arrive on the north map edge, opposite the Russian center force. Only about 300-400 yards shy of them (LOS will be a bit under 200 yards). All in one set up area. The Germans get -

2 platoons of Panzer IVG (neither early nor late, therefore 75L43 with 80mm front), half vet and half regular in each platoon

1 platoon of Panzer IIIL, all veteran

motorized panzergrenadier company minus one platoon and the foot mortars

plus one armored panzergrenadier platoon - use the SPWs for heavy weapons. All 3 panzergrenadier platoons ride the tanks.

3 tank hunters with 2 grenade bundles and 2 magentic mines each, one with the HQ of each platoon.

company HQ is in the 37mm SPW.

105mm radio FO, veteran (Wespe support), rides with weapons platoon HQ in 1 SPW 251/1.

other 2 SPW 251/1s carry 2 veteran HMG 42 teams each

2 SPW 251/2s

4 SPW 251/9 "Stummels", 2 "platoons" each 2 pieces

Divide the heavy weapons by HQ, company HQ with 1 'track of MG teams, 1 81mm 'track, and 2 75mm 'tracks. Weapons HQ the same but with the FO instead of the 37mm 'track. These should trail the Panzer IVG platoons, one each.

Put the Panzer IIIL platoon in the center trailing a bit, as the reserve initially. Basically on-line with the weapons sections.

You can see what will likely happen. 12 tanks hit the Russian 4 in the center and try to take the village ASAP. Weapons support and men dismount to set up there. Tanks turn both ways to defeat the two "cut" halves of the Russian column in sequence, initially holding one and smashing the other, then doubling back etc.

This makes for a large-ish fight, those forces are roughly 2000 vs 3000 points.

That will give a not completely misleading sense of the sort of tactical advantage the Germans got in that period and the kind of fights they won.

FWIW...

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