Monday, September 30, 2013

Holding the Hillcrest Gap -- a Flames of War Battle Report

Last month a few of us gathered in my basement to play a big Flames of War scenario.  It had been a while since our last really big game, so I wanted to go all out this time.  Michael had recently finished painting up his Tiger platoon, so I wanted to feature it in the game.  A big game is the perfect time for this.  I settled on a breakout mission.  The Germans would begin greatly out numbered, but with better equipment and troop quality to show for it.  They would need to get a withdrawing force, which would fight at a penalty from one side of the table to the other.  Wanting a really pretty game, I pulled out the sculpted terrain boards we made for our 150th Gettysburg game and rearranged them a bit.  Then I laid out the forces.  Darrin and I would command the British, and Michael would run the Germans.

 The British forces would consist of four tank companies, two of Shermans, one of Cromwells, and one of Churchills.  They'd be supported by a full battery of eight Sextons, and two Lorried infantry companies with priority support from RAF Typhoons and a bren mounted recon platoon with three patrols.

The German forces consisted of two understrength panzergrenadier companies, two AA platoons, and a battery of four 10.5 cm guns.  They would be backed by platoon of Tigers, and a platoon of jagdpanthers.
 Michael opted to attempt to blunt one prong of the attack at a time. He deployed all of his heavy armor in one concentrated front.

Michael's objective was to extract several companies from encirclement including a Gepanzert Panzergenadier company, an Assault gun company, a Panzer company, and a platoon each of Panthers and Tigers.  The withdrawing forces had been fighting for days already, so they'd fight at a -1 to hit penalty.  Victory would be determined by how much of the retreating force Michael could withdraw.  Since they were the most fragile, Michael led with the halftracks.  In a long close packed convoy the halftracks raced across the table.  The RAF tried to slow them, but the attacking Typhoons were shot down by AA fire.

 On the left, Michael decided to launch one of his two scenario special ambushes.  A platoon of 222s springs from behind the town, and ambushes the bren platoon with one of the artillery spotters attached.  Critically, the FOs carrier is destroyed by 2cm fire.
On the other flank the tigers and jagdpanthers go to work.  Nine of the fifteen Shermans are knocked out in a devastating round of fire

On the left the british tide rolls forward nearly unopposed.

 The Churchills attempt to close on the panzergrenadiers and get flank shots on the Tigers.
In the Germans turn Michael follows on with the second platoon of Tigers and the platoon of panthers.  At this point eight Tigers hold back the tide.

The Churchills make an attempt to overrun the German infantry, discovering the hard way that all the Germans have been equipped with panzerfausts.  One platoon is entirely bailed. The second platoon closes, and pushes back the German platoon.

 A British firefly finally scores the first Tiger kill of the game.
 Feeling things are under control on the right, Michael redeploys a platoon of Tigers to help on the left.
 The last of the halftracks make it off the board.
 The final Tiger platoon leads the Panzer IV company onto the table.  We are now up to ten Tigers, only one of which is burning.  Even with the to hit penalty, that much firepower takes its toll.


The RAF finally puts in an appearance again.  While the Sextons finally manage to drop smoke, covering two Tigers, a Typhoon makes it through and smokes two cats and bails a third.
 The casualties are adding up though.  The British infantry deploys from their trucks to try to take on the German infantry.
 Deep on the left, Michael springs his second ambush.  A PaK 40 platoon attacks from the woods against the Cromwell company.  They are joined by the Tiger platoon redeployed from the right.

It quickly becomes clear looking from the left end that the dead are beginning to outnumber the living on the British side.  The bailed Churchills on the right were assaulted by infantry before getting remounted and destroyed.  The Cromwells and Shermans on the left are gutted nearly as bad as the companies on the right.  A couple of panzerjager IVs are killed before they leave the board, but the remainder will escape.

It was a heck of a game.  We truly satiated our lust for exploding armor for awhile.  Just to leave this report with some perspective, I piled up the cotton used to mark dead tanks.  Here's a pic of that pile at left.


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