With the recent release of the Flames of War book Hammer and Sickle, I wanted to try out some of the new formations. My son (6 years old) agreed to be the Soviet commander while I helped out on both sides. I tried out the new Sperrverband Company (Reluctant veteran) and the Guards Tankovy with T34/85s and decoy Panzer IVs. The Sperrverband units were used to slow down the Soviet advance during the Bagration Offensive in Summer 1944.
The battlefield consisted of a small town, about 50% wooded area, river with bridge, and the rest open. The objective for the Soviets was to take both side of the bridge and cross roads. I used the breakthrough scenario from Flames of War to run the battle. However, I let the engineers and artillery keep their vehicles. The breakthroug scenario says any platoon with vehicles much be kept in mobile reserve or send vehicles to the rear. The trucks for the battery and engineers would not play an active role in the battle, so I kept them in play.
The Allies are based around a Guards Division Tankovy with support. Order of battle:
- Tankovy with two platoons of T34/85s (6 each)
- Tank rider company with 2 platoons (reserve)
- 3 x ISU 122
- 3 x SU 76M
- 3 x Panzer IV (decoy)
The Azis Powers are based on a defensive Sperrverband Company
- HQ + Sperrverband pioneer platoon
- 2 x Sperrverband platoons
- battery of 10.5 cm howitzers
- 7.5 cm PaK 40 platoon
- Assault Gun platoon (3 x StuG G) – in reserve
- Panzer Platoon (3 x Panther A) – in reserve
The initial moved based on the forward detachment special rule brought the 3 panzer IVs and one platoon of T 34/85s well within range of german lines. This is a very handy new special rule. Using the decoy special rule wasnt needed as the russians wanted to open fire once within range. I could see its usefulness in some situations.
Once in contact the Russians pummeled the German lines for a couple of turns and managed to kill a couple teams. The ISUs managed to get bogged down in some woods and were slow to reaching the battle. The German defense was only able to knock out a couple T34s before casualites forced the PaK40s to rout from a morale check. Having reluctant forces makes it difficult to keep them around.
The Russians managed to roll in reserves on the third turn and the tank rider company came in from the back in an attempt to seize the bridge. The german advantage in range and HMGs essentially shut down this attack. The Soviets were forced to hunker down in an attempt to wait for armor support.
The Soviet armor finally made an assault and was able to breakthrough the lines at the loss of a couple tanks. By this time the Germans were able to roll in Panzer reserves on the 5th turn. 3 Panthers appeared from the soviet rear and systematically started destroying the ISUs, SUs, and Panzer IV (decoys) bringing up the rear of the Soviet advance. By turn 6 the Soviets were contesting the victory point at the cross roads and bridge, but were in a terrible situation as they could not fully clear either site of its German Defenders. In addition the Panthers were a significant cause of concern.