Monday, 20 November 2017

Rapid Fire French AAR Part 2 1960's or a Theroux Thrashing

So we played the second of our games today across the same terrain with virtually no changes. The only additions a small factory and a radar station on a hill. As a couple of players did not show each side had a battalion taken out of their army, this did leave the French in particular spread pretty thin.

Rules were Rapid Fire with appropriate modern amends and scale was 20mm again.

John commanded the Russians, having commanded the Germans on Friday, whilst I was CinC for the French again.

The French defended the same terrain but with a different force available. The French order of Battle as follows:

Brigade HQ
Anti-Tank Company 2 x AMX 13/105
4 x spot mines
Anti Aircraft Company
Artillery Battery 2 x AMX105 SPG
Artillery Battery 2 x 155mm F3 SPG
2 Mechanised Infantry Battalions
Armoured Regiment
5 x M47
1 X AMX 13/105
3 x AMX 30
Air support on anything but a 8/9/0 on a D10

The Russian force was as follows:

Brigade HQ including anti aircraft
anti tank company 2 x BDRM with sagger
3 x Guards Elite motor battalions
Rocket Battery 2 x Katyushka
Self Propelled artillery battery 2 x ISU 152K
Artillery Battery 2 x 152mm Howitzers
Guards Tanks Brigade Elite:
14 x T55
 6 x T62
Air support each turn on anything but a 6 on a D6

In broad terms then the French had two battalions against 3 Russian and 11 tanks against 20 tanks. The Russians were mainly Elite and the French all regulars.

The French deployed in a not dis-similar manner to the 1940 game but with less available opted to leave their right flank almost undefended. The Russians were given three objectives, the two roads leading away from their entry table edge and the radar station. As we had fewer troops available we opted to be strong in the middle and hoped to leave enough on the left to slow the Russians down. A forlorn hope as it turned out.

We planted half a battalion in the town with the other half behind it in the hills supported by 5 of our tanks. The left had two tanks and a company up front with three more companies and two tanks behind. The right flank had just one company and two tanks.

The game started with the Russians massing on either flank and leaving a token force in front of the small town to pin the garrison, This included a gun battery and OP team who immediately spotted one house and dropped Katyushka and artillery fire, destroying the building and half the occupants.. They moved forward quickly on the French right and we were into the fighting almost immediately. The French front line company and two M47's firing and destroying one Russian tank and heavy damaging the mine roller, their rifle fire being unable to do anything to the closed down armoured personnel carriers. In return the Russians opened up with all they had and destroyed both tanks and wiped out the company. Not a great start. On the French left the other half of their force made steady progress through the woods where we were unable to see them.

Move 2 saw the Russians continue to advance, the French second line now opened up with the 106 recoiless and two anti tank guided weapons firing but to no effect. The advance BTR rolled over a mine which did no damage at all The responding fire took out one ATGW and the recoiless. We got an aircraft but the Russians immediately shot it down. Things were really not going too well. On the left the Russians continued their un-contested advance.

Move 3 took the Russians further into the French left, they spotted the Bazooka waiting at the farm house and promptly destroyed it, the ATGW fired again causing a light damage and was in return destroyed along with the last of the infantry company. On the right the Russians rolled on, one company of tanks left the safety of the woods and Chris managed to take one out with his AMX 13/105'S sending them back into the wood.

Move 4 saw Johns Russians almost having taken the length of the left hand road. My AMX-30's had moved from the centre of the table to bolster the flank and ow opened fire destroying a armoured personnel carrier which turned out to be entirely empty. The returning fire heavy damaged one of French tanks which were only lightly armoured.  On the right Andy's Russians were finally in place and promptly destroyed both of our tanks and opened up on the infantry company. In the centre left Richard had moved to the edge of the woods ready to pounce on the remains of the French left.

Move 5 John finished off the Heavy damaged AMX 30 on the left. I reserved fire on Richards T55's and missed, his return fire taking out both of my M47's and Andy wiped out the infantry company holding the radar station. By this time it was all pretty desperate. The AMX-30's passed their morale but that was about all you could say in our favour.

Move 6 and the Russians continued to roll forward. The road and radar station were captured. The AMX-30's took out one of Johns T55's and the artillery took out one of Richards but it was all too little too late. One and half of the the two French battalions were gone and 7 of the 11 tanks were gone, in return we had destroyed 5 tanks and barely touched their infantry. The game was up, General Theroux threw in the towel and we went home.

I have to admit I did not enjoy this as much as Friday's game, to be honest though this far more to do with my awful dice than anything else. Thanks Chris for your hospitality over two full day games with some beautiful models and the to all of the players.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Rapid Fire French AAR Part One

With my daughters graduation I had an extra day off today so two games in three days booked at the home of Chris Flowers Both games involving a French force defending the same terrain. The first is a 1940 game, the second on Sunday will be a cold war gone hot game with the French defending against a Russian break through.In both cases I am the French commander and John is my opposing number. The game was played on a 15 x 7 foot table.

I will report the second game separately, for this first Mike, Richard and I had to defend 15 feet of table against the worst the third Reich could throw at us.

Then French forces had an Infantry Brigade and Armoured Regiment with some additional bits as follows.

Brigade HQ 10 figures
2 x AA guns
2 x Companies of Cavalry Recce, 9 figures each. Plus MG and 60mm mortar
2 x Panhard armoured cars
3x  battalions of infantry
3 x portee anti tank guns (2 x 47mm and 1 25mm
Battery 2 x 75mm guns
Battery 2 x 105mm guns
Tank Battalion split to support eacg battalion of foot.
HQ 1 x Somua
Heavy Company 2 x Char B
3 x Companies each 2 x Somua and 1 x H39
Random air support

The main objective for the French is to hold the two main roads that run through the village.

We chose to defend these two roads in strength and use the recce to slow the Germans down on the French left. So from left to right a company of cavalry in one building in the farm. Two supporting Panhard's in the field next door and a pair of Somua;s in the stone sheep pen. Towards the front an MG in the pillbox and the second company cavalry dug in behind the wall across the road. A Char B and a 25mm Portee occupy the wood and covering the 2 feet gap between the recce and the village.

In the village we had a battalion each side of the road occupying the buildings. The hills behind the village holding 2 companies of tanks and the artillery.

Finally across the river and behind a march and covering the bridge crossing is the last battalion with a Char B a Portee and an AA Gun under the command of Mike.

Our final reserve holding the farm at the table edge the Germans need to exit is the 10 man Brigade HQ,

The might of the the Reich were led by CinC John, Malcolm, Brian and Derek.

From the German right to left this was:

Reinforced recce battalion of:
3 x Motorcycle companies
6 x Armoured Cars
3 x PZ38T tanks
Support Company

2 x Infantry battalions
Anti tank company 2 x Panzer Jaeger and 1 x 88mm half track
Artillery 2 x Batteries 2 x SIG 150mm spg;s
Anti Aircraft 2 x 20mm

Tank Battalion Elite at:
4 x Companies 2 X PZ111 1 x PZII
1 x Company 3 x PZIV

Armoured Infantry Battalion Half Track Elite
Attached Engineer Company

Aircraft support random
Plus 1 x Stuka always on table.

So in very broad terms 3 1/2 French battalions vs 5 battalions of Germans and 13 French armoured vehicles vs 26 German AFV's, Also as we were playing Rapid Fire the French armour cannot move and fire but the Germans can.

Brian took the German Recce with a company of 38ts on the extreme right flank of their German advance whilst I took the French cavalry facing him and a battalion opposite John who took a battalion of foot and 2 companies of tanks. In the centre Richard commanded the next unit of French foot, this time elite with 2 companies of Somuas, Derek facing him with a similar command to Johns whilst to the extreme German left Malcolm advanced with the armoured infantry and armoured against Mike's battalion of foot and Char B.

The Germans opened up with Brian pushing the Recce in from the short edge on the German right wing, driving straight up to the pillbox and the farmhouse, whilst the rest of the German forces came on a 6 foot frontage with each player roughly deploying over 2 feet and moving the armour twelve inches in to go hull down on the crest of the hill with the infantry and artillery just behind the crest where it cant be seen. A firefight between the German recce and French Cavalry saw small numbers of casualties on both sides.

Move two sees the Recce's armour support their advance and the first vehicle burning as the recce's PZII catches a shot from a Panhard. The German main thrust trundles down the hill towards the town and loses a a truck and 6 men to mortar fire.

Move three and the German recce have pushed past the cavalry, leaving elements to subdue them but now have a further burning tank as the Somua's join the firing. Stukas and artillery fail to cause any casualties on the French armour who promptly withdraw over the crest of the hill.  The main thrust reaches the road at the edge of the village and the defenders open fire taking out another PZII and damaging a PZIII whilst the 105's destroy a Stug and the German armour starts to probe the defences over the river.

Move 4, the German recce have become bogged down in a firefight with the pockets of defence on the German right, the Char B's have both fired and inflicted casualties but Brian's takes a heavy  damage. The French battalion HQ in the church is wiped out by artillery, mortar and infantry fire and no less than 7 tanks, whilst the Cavalry recce  are shot from behind by John's tanks who cant penetrate the Char B in front of them. Another well aimed shot from the 105 takes a second tank out and as the panzer grenadiers in their half tracks cross the river the first is destroyed with heavy casualties to the occupants.

Move 5 and the recce motorcyclists are down to 8 men from three units of 8, four of their tanks are burning and the first of their armoured cars is damaged. in return they have reduced the first Recce Cavalry unit to just one man and blown up the bunker with the MG and forced the second company out of hits building and further into the farm complex.

Derek tries to close assault the first of the houses in the village but is driven off with heavy casualties, a PZIII creeping around the wood between the recce and the village is destroyed by the Char B and a second half track is destroyed with heavy casualties crossing the marsh. The second unit of Somuas on the hill behind the village open up with no effect and are forced to withdraw when the 88 heavily damages one of them.

Move 6 and both Panhards are heavily damaged but not taken out, the French recce destroy the crew of the German recce mortar and a PZ38T is taken out, the troops in the village open fire on Johns infantry taking out his mortar crew and the German panzer grenadiers take more casualties as the slog across the marsh. The single French survivor of the French recce cavalry company continues a one sides and amusing struggle with the 2 survivors of a motorcycles recce company, neither able to hit the other as both require a 6 on a D6. The bunker holding the bridge is destroyed by the Germans but too little head way has been made and two many casualties taken for the Germans to be able to take any of their objectives. It is 4.30 we have been gaming about 4 or 5 hours. Whilst the Germans have not really had time to take any of their objectives it seems unlikely that they have the strength left to take both roads even with another days game.

The Recce, Panzer Grenadiers and at least one other German battalion  are nearing morale from casualties and well over a third of the armour has been destroyed. In comparison the French have not lost a tank yet (although there are quite a lot of heavy damages scattered about) and whilst their Recce Cavalry have almost been over run the three infantry battalion are still in very good shape.

In the time available the Germans might have managed another foot or two of advancing, especially if Brian's recce had pressed on rather than stop to fight the pockets of resistance they encountered, that said if he had dashed over the fields at my armour he would have sustained more casualties and the recce would have probably have ceased to exist as a fighting force. The Germans might have attempted to charge down the roads ignoring the forces blocking them, possibly the only way they could have achieved their objectives, however we still had a company of tanks and a portee anti tank gun further up the central road so even this would have been a big ask.

Overall a fun game, I love early WWII and the game looked spectacular. Played in a great spirit with a lot of laughs (and a few groans) the usual fiery political debate at lunch time again done is the best of spirits and entertaining to sit back and watch.

Thanks for the game gents and I look forward to another go with a different force of French on Sunday.