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This is the follow on battle to Assault on Kapitanovka based on the campaign for Korsun Pocket available on the Flames of War website.  I have been side tracked with many other miniature objectives over the last year and now my son and I are going to complete the campaign.  He played the Soviets and I coached both sides since he is only learning at the age of seven.  The setting is:

Zvenigorodka

This small town was the focus of the Soviet tanks, where Konev and Vatutin would meet to close the noose around the German forces in the Korsun pocket. If the Soviets reach this far and hold it, they have won the first mini-campaign. Historically, they did it in 3 days.

Terrain:

  • The Gniloy Tikich River runs diagonally across the centre of the table. It is 4 inches wide but fast flowing and very difficult to cross.
  • Zvenigorodka is a modest town in the centre of the table straddling the river.
  • A road runs lengthwise across the table through the centre of the town, where there is a road bridge.
  • The rest of the table is flat with mixed forest and fields.

Snow effects:

  • Dirt Road as cross-country;
  • cross-country as difficult
  • ford very difficult
  • water frozen

The adversaries:

Soviet Force (Tankovy 1745 points) -Fortress Europe

HQ element CT 1 x T34/76mm (Cupola) 60 points
Tankovy Company CT 9 x T34/76mm (Cupola) 400 points
Tankovy Company CT 9 x T34/76mm (Cupola) 400 points
Tank Rider Company CT 3 x Platoon 310 points
Motorstrelkovy CT 3 x Platoon (1 SMG) 320 points
Guards Rocket Mortar FT 2 x Mortar Platoons (Katyusha) 145 points
Light Armoured Car FT 4 x BA-64 110 points

German Forces (Sperrverband 1750 points) – Hammer & Sickle

HQ Element RV Panzerfaust, 2 x Panzerschreck 95 points
Sperr Pioneer Plt RV Panzerfaust, supply truck 215 points
Sperr Platoons RV Panzerfaust, 1 HMG 130 points
Sperr Platoons RV Panzerfaust, 1 HMG 130 points
Sperr AT Plt RV 4 x PaK 40 175 points
Assualt Gun Plt RV 3 x StuG G 220 points
Motorized Artillery CV 2 sections 10.5cm 220 points
Panzer platoon CV 5 x panzer IV H 475 points
Flak Nest RT 2 Flak Nests 90 points

The Soviet host was a spectacle to see with 19 tanks (proxied T34/85 as T34/76 for half of them) and two companies of infantry.  It was a true combine arms attack with the Guards Rocket Mortar performing as the orchestra.  The soviets cranked their engines and advanced forward only to bog down!  Five tanks bogged down the first turn and it was going to be a curse the rest of the game or at least until I remembered that the T34/76 has wide tracks.  I bet the Kommisar would have had a field day with Andrew (my son).    However, the Guards Rocket Mortars made up for any blemishes on the advance by destroying two fascist teams hiding in the church.  This also became a stroke of luck for the rest of the game as the German Sperr Pioneers never became unpinned.  Playing reluctant forces sure is tricky!

The Soviet advance continued well into turn two with the Fascists only inflicted minor casualties as the infantry crossed the snowy open ground.  Bogged down tanks were still an annoyance on the soviet right flank.  The advance was going so well on the Soviet left flank that the Motorstrelkovy would be in place to assault the church on the third turn.  Seeing that the advance was not faltering and the pioneers were worthless, the Sperr platoon consolidated in the center of the town in order to contest two objectives.  The German’s call for reinforcements were not heard this turn.

In turn three the Soviet Heroes penetrated the town and kicked the fascists pigs from the church.  The Soviet right flank was unfortunate in that the Germans sprung their ambush with a platoon of PaK 40s.  They managed to kill two T34/76s and bail one.  There were at least three that were bogged down at this time too.  It was a fiasco!  Somebody will be shot.  Another Soviet Hero was the Battalion Commander,  he took it upon himself to personally neutralize one of the German Flak nests by keeping it pinned down.  The Germans did receive their second sperr platoon on this turn and they were going to help the beleaguered pioneer platoon.  The Pioneers did hold on to the remaining buildings they occupied and the Soviet tanks were unable to remove them.

The Soviets refocused their forces to strike the center of town instead of trying to flank.  There was a minefield in the way of the river crossing!  It was this turn that I remember T34/76s have wide tracks.  Better late than never.  The Guards Rocket Mortars showed their worth again on turn four by destroying two Pak40s and pinning the second Sperr platoon.  This platoon would be pinned for the rest of the game too.  Very bad luck with motivational tests and reluctant troops.  The Germans managed to call in an artillery battery and an assault gun platoon this turn.  The StuG G took a pot shot at the T34s and managed to bail one.

The battle was becoming a cat fight with Soviet and German forces engaged in house to house fighting. The soviets attempted a hasty assault on the pinned Flak nest, but failed to press the assault and fell back.  The Soviets were successful in pushing a Sperr platoon out of their building inflicting serious casualties.   The Germans were able to call in a platoon of Panzer IVs on turn 5.  The StuGs would be tasked with trying to contain the infantry while the Panzer IVs would take on the tank threat.   The remaing two Pak 40s were able to bail another tank.

Well the German plan with the tanks didnt work out.  The Panzer IVs missed the T34s and the T34s were able to knock out two Panzer IVs given that the Panzer IV has less armor that the StuG.  We tried all game to knock out a StuG from the front and were unsuccessful.  The Panzer IV also had really bad luck in that one got bogged down right in the middle of the road.  One panzer IV took up the position between a couple of buildings and the combined effect of the MGs and an artillery barrage killed 8 teams from the tank rider company.  The Soviets still kept coming!  The battalion commander was again a Hero this day by desroying a StuG G from the side and bailing another.  Somehow I managed to not see that the T34 had a perfect shot.  The bailed tank would not unbail the rest of the game.   Again the motivational curse for reluctant forces.  The German CO was only able to rally a platoon once the whole fight.

The soviet infantry neutralized the Pak 40s with some well-aimed fire on turn Seven.  The AT platoon leader left on his own accord.  The Guards Rocket Mortar launched a devastating bombardment into the center of town where the Germans were concentrated and managed to pin the artillery batter, kill the XO, kill a team from a Sperr platoon, and pin the only Sperr platoon that was able to come unpinned!  They were not effective against armor one bit.  The Soviet tanks were able to knock out the panzer IV that was bogged down forcing a moral check where the remaining two Panzer IVs decided they have had enough for the day.  The Soviet tank rider company managed to displace the pioneer platoon from their buildings with a timely assault.  The Motorstrelkovy destroyed a Flak nest this turn and managed to pick off one 10.5 cm gun.  The Soviets now contested one objective and had full control of another.

The eighth turn was the collapse of the German defense.  The second Flak nest was destroyed and the both sperr platoons were routed.  The german defense consisted of three pioneer teams, the CO, two artillery pieces and one operational StuG.  It was at this point that the German Hauptman decided there was nothing left he could do.

Synopsis:

  1. Germans lost 5 platoons (one withdrew, one annihilated, and three failed morale checks) and the Soviets captured all three victory points.
  2. Motivational tests hammered the ability of the German forces to fight
  3. Bad shooting on the part of the German tanks and good luck for the Soviets
  4. Bogged down tanks were a nightmare for both sides.
  5. Better employment of the tank rider company to aid the motorstrelkovy would have seen the pioneers pushed out earlier than they were.
  6. Placement of the Flak nests could have been better.  They only managed to kill one soviet team.  LOS and pinned down decreased their ability to fight.  Mostly LOS!
  7. Using StuG against T34s would have been the right choice and then having the panzer IVs contain the infantry.  That one point of front armor makes a difference against the AT9 guns of the T34/76

Overall a great game.  Fast and furious!  Next game in this campaign will be the second axis for the German relief force.  Hopefully some of the Fatherlands finest can be saved.

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