Monday, January 27, 2014

Hell on Wheels, Fight Number 2 (Normandy, Aug 1944)


I got another one in!  It's the afternoon of 24 August 1944, and this morning Able and Baker Companies (with plenty of support) opened a hole in the just-waiting-to-collapse German defenses.  LtCol Mac throws the rest of the battalion into the breach, hoping shatter the German defenses.  But Oberst Fritz is crafty (cunning?  slimy?), and he held back enough of his initial force to have at least a semblance of a 2nd line to hold back the Allied onslaught, knowing they need to keep the US tanks bottled up in the bocage for as long as possible.
The table, looking from the US baseline towards the German baseline, south to north.  The objective is to clear German resistance from the map, opening a gaping hole in the German defenses, large enough to drive a whole Armored Division through!  This is not a general assault; Lt Tangoe's Armored Reconnaissance Plt is in the lead, split into two sections, one heading up Highway 1, the other Highway 2, seeking out the enemy, with the rest of the battalion in trace.

While 'formal' resistance is expected to be relatively light, I really want to capture the Allied experience of German tank-hunter teams popping out of nowhere to hit Allied armor with Panzerschrecks or Panzerfausts at point-blank range.  So, any time a US command roll fails and the dice are doubles (including blunders), a German tank-hunter team will magically pop onto the map and get a shot at the nearest US vehicle.  This would prove to be very costly.

 Closeup of US baseline, staring at Hill 30 (center), Bois-less Ridge (top), the Chaeau (center right), and the village of Soufflee (top right).

 Looking east to west, with Souflee in foreground, Fricassee at top right, the Bus Station top center, the Chateau at left center, with Bois-less Ridge just above it.

 West to east with Hill 40 in foregroun, Hill 20 at bottom right, Bois-less Ridge at center, Souflee at top center.

 From German baseline looking north to south, with Hill 50 in foreground, Fricassee at bottom right.

 US forces, built around Captain Ronan's Charlie Company.
Task Force Commander: Bn XO, Major Legan
Charlie Company CO: Capt Ronan
1st Plt: Lt Lemmey
2nd Plt: Lt Herzbleu
3rd Plt: Lt Poller
Wpns Plt: Lt Evahnkeath

Armored Recon Plt (split into two, three vehicle sections): Lt Tangoe
3rd Tank Plt (five M4 Shermans): Lt Salt
*891st Tank Co CO, Capt Travers, is also present, in his HQ M4 Sherman.
SPG Section (two M7 Priests): Lt Lasthuzzer
Tank Destroyer Plt (3 M10 Wolverine GMCs): Lt Ithoriel
*Wpns Co CO, Capt Leon, is also present.

Local Reserve:
ATG section (2 x 57mm ATGs)
Engineer Plt: Lt Lionstar
3rd Plt, A Co: Lt Womble

 German set up: Three Type A blinds (white), four Type B blinds (black), and two Type C blinds (green).  This game convinced me I need to change around the Type B blind die roll, I'm not getting ATGs to pop up, just mortars and MGs.

 Initial US deployment: Lt Tango's Recon Plt, broken into two sections.  Tango is in the bottom section on Hwy 1 in an M8 armored car, with M5 Stuart (yes, I know the model is an M3) and an M20 Scout Car.  At top on Hwy 2 are two Stuarts and an M20 armored car.

Tangoe's vehicle moved up (bottom left), while the Stuart pulled up next to Hill 30 (bottom right), when they noticed movement on Hill 40 (top left, a German PC came on, with two 80mm mortars on the back side of the hill).  The M20 moved up Hwy 1 a couple times, then the Stuart rolled a blunder and took two moves towards the nearest enemy (Hill 40).

 Which spotted a platoon of Pz Mk IVs behind the wall (center-right, between the Bus Station and Soufflee at top right).  German PC is on Hill 40 at bottom left, Stuart is at bottom right.  One of the Panzers used his opportunity fire to pop the Stuart.  It was immobilized and pinned, but the crew didn't bail.

Lt Tangoe can't see, but knows something is bad wrong.  He needs to move up, get LOS, and maybe call in some air or arty.  But he fails his command roll (CR).  I'm playing as only Company Commanders, the CO, XO, FO, and Recon PC can call for fire, so the other Recon section is no help here.

 Recon's 2nd Section darts through the Panzers' (top left) field of fire very quickly, sheltering behind the Chateau.  they want to work around to the right, using the crop field and trees as cover to get flanking shots on the Panzers, but fail their CR.

 Lt Lemmey leads his 1st Plt on the table at the sprint, climbing Hill 30, and two of the Panzers (top) get antsy and use their opp fire, getting two hits and a pinning one of the rifle squads.  The XO, Major Legan (behind 1st Plt, with Jeep on base), comes on and joins them, tries to call air support in on the Panzers, FAIL!

 On far right Lt Herbleu brings on his 2nd Plt (bottom right), but doesn't get very far, failing his CR WITH DOUBLES!!!  So a German rifle squad sporting a plethora of Panzerfausts pops up in the Chateau (top center), and promptly breaks one off in one of the 2nd Recon section's Stuarts, damaging its running gear (1/2 speed for rest of game), which would be okay, except for the fact the crew bailed (black bead with red bead on top).  You can see 1st Plt at top left on Hill 30.

 I'm not sure what he was thinking ;) , but Lt Poller brought 3rd Plt on the table on the left side, sprinting past Lt Tangoe's vehicle on Hwy 1 up to the wall.  Which was cool, except the German 80mm mortars had this area staked out, and rained bloody hell on them, eliminating a rifle squad.  Then they ROLLED DOUBLES!!!

 And so a PzScreck popped up on Hill 40 (bottom left), next to the German PC, and blew the hell out of the 1st Recon section's crazy Stuart (the one that had blundered up here in the first place).  3rd Plt is at center right, with the Chateau above them.

 Capt Leon, the Wpns Company CO that's just sort of tagging along, comes aboard (that's 2nd Plt at bottom right, and 2nd Recon section and Chateau at center).  He tries to call air in on the Panzers (top), but fails.

 On the US far left (bear with me, this photo is looking west to east, US baseline at right), Lt Evahnkeath brings on Charlie Company's Weapons Plt (a single MG and 60mm mortar, bottom right, with Hill 40 and its PC and PzSchreck at bottom left).  Evahnkeath not only gets them from the baseline into position on Hill 20, he gets them going, putting getting two hits and a pin on the PzSchreck and one hit on the German PC on Hill 40.

 Captain Ronan comes on (bottom left), sprints up Hwy 1 behind 3rd Plt, then stop to call air support on the Panzers (top), fail.  1st Plt is at bottom right, and the 1st Recon Section's M20 Scout Car is in front of 3rd Plt on the highway.

 The Lt Lasthuzzer brings his two M7 SPGs on (bottom center/left), and Thor's hammer arrived (as with Wpns Plt, these would prove very effective.  Well, mostly).  They promptly set about slamming fairly large 105mm high explosive shells into the Chateau (top center, with 1st Plt at left and 2nd Recon section vehicles in center).  In two rounds of fire they eliminated the German squad that previously resided there.

 Then Lt Ithoriel brought his M10 Wolverines (top center, the German Panzers are in the foreground) on the table; they wanted to go hull-down behind the east edge of Hill 30, but brush obstructed their vision, so Ithoriel said hell with it and had two of them climb the hill while the third pulled up next.  This drew opportunity fire from the Panzers, and one of them hit Ithoriel's vehicle, damaging its optics (-1 'to hit' for rest of game).  The three M10s fired, but it's poor, managing only three hits total, all of which are saved.

But they pass another CR, and all three 76mm armor-piercing rounds find their target.  One Panzer gets optics damage and is pinned, one gets its main gun knocked out, and one receives running gear damage and is pinned.  Not bad considering the Panzers are hull-down behind the wall.

 Then the cavalry arrives.  3rd Tank Plt is split into two sections: the PC, Lt Salt, is leading one section of three tanks, while the Company Commander, Captain Travers, is leading the other.  Salt's section is on the left (just before Hill 40), Travers' on the right, staring at the Panzers (top center).
  They're trying to swing left to get flank shots on the Panzers, so Salt's section takes the lead, swinging out real wide to the left before... failing their command roll.  Travers then leads the 2nd section a little shallower than Salt's, getting into position to fire.

 One of the Sherman's hits the Panzer with the knocked out gun, immobilizing it and causing the crew to bail.  Capt Travers tank fire and sets one of the Panzers ablaze, while the last tank misses.

On Hill 40, the German PC fails to rally the pinned PzSchreck, but it takes care of itself, then fires a rocket into Lt Salt's tank, damaging the running gear and pinning the crew.

The German mortars (foreground), sitting behind Hill 40 (this is looking south towards the US baseline), get two rounds of fire and eliminate the Wpns Plt machine gun...

Meanwhile, Oberst Fritz shows up, driving his Kubelwagen up to the Panzer position and trying to rally them, unpinning two of the tanks.

 While doing so he rolled doubles, so another PzSchreck pops up, right next to the other one on Hill 40.  It fires one rocket, hitting T2 in the running gear damaging it and pinning the crew.  It fires again, knocking out the main gun and causing the crew to bail (red and black beads).  Wpns Plt 60mm mortar goes into action, getting two hits and pinning the PzSchreck!

One of the Panzers fires at T6, main gun KO, crew bailed, but T5 and Travers' tank returned fire, knocking it out (you can argue over who got the kill).

Another Panther went after an M10, getting running gear damage and pinning the crew.  Ithoriel's vehicle returns fire, 2 hits 2 saves, and the other Wolverine misses.  The Panzer fires again, this time Lt Ithoriel's vehicle, and misses.  The Panzer passes another CR, fires again at Ithoriel's vehicle...

 And misses "Lucky" Ithoriel again!

Captain Leon moves up and rallies the pinned M10, and they set to work, Ithoriel damaging a Panzer before his partner destroys it.  The Plt then moved up (between Bois-less Ridge and the Chateau).

 On the far right, Lt Herzbleu's 2nd Plt continues its crawl forward (bottom right)...  The Second Recon Section's remaining two vehicles (center, behind the trees) race ahead up Hwy 2 towards Soufflee (top right), causing some spotting to occur.

Soufflee is rotten with Germans (looking south towards US baseline, with Recon Plt vehicles at top center)!  There's an entire infantry platoon with PC and PzSchreck, and an 80mm mortar platoon with the German Company Commander.  The Germans sat back and waited for the perfect opportunity to bushwack the Yanks!

And that's exactly what they did (looking east, with Soufflee at left, Recon in center, and 2nd Plt at right, Chateau in foreground).

First the PzSchreck fires at the Stuart, knocking it out, followed by a rifle squad cutting loose a PzFaust at the scout car, knocking it out.  Then another rifle squad fires at 2nd Plt, getting a hit and pinning a squad, and the Soufflee mortars get a hit and a pin on another 2nd Plt squad.  Ouch...

Seeing we've got big problems, the XO rushes forward and calls for arty on Soufflee; fail.

Never fear, Lasthuzzer brings his M7s (foreground flanked by M10 on left and abandoned Stuart on right) up and starts slamming the hell out of Soufflee, getting three hits and a pin on one of the German rifle squads.

Captain Ronan moves up to 1st Plt to rally some pinned troops, but rolls a blunder, causing the squad to fall back two moves.  Ronan yells to Lemmey to advance his platoon, then chases after the errant squad (bottom right).

 Of course, doubles means another tank killer, so a rifle squad with Panzerfausts pops up on Hill 40, and busts Lt Salt's tank wide open (white smoke in center)!

Lt Poller leads 3rd Plt (top center/right) towards Hill 40 (bottom left), but doesn't make it very far before the 80mm mortars there hit them (again), getting two hits.  T3 (count from bottom up) fires and eliminates one of the PzSchreck teams.  Capt Travers wheels his two remaining tanks (in the crop field) towards Hill 40 and fires, eliminating the German PC and putting 2 hits and a pin on the German rifle squad.  Then Wpns Plt's 60mm goes into action, eliminating the rifle squad and the last PzSchreck, leaving us a 'clean' Hill 40 (the two 80mm mortars are at bottom left, behind the hill).

Lt Tangoe moves his armored car up to his partner scout car on Hwy 1, while Lt Lemmey double times the two remaining squads of 1st Plt up Hwy 1.  Ithoriel's M10 Plt is to their right, and 3rd Plt is at top left.

The Hill 40 (right) mortar teams (bottom left) haul butt to get out of dodge, expecting American armor to come popping over the hill any minute now.

 Oberst Fritz (center) moves to Soufflee, where he, the CC, and the PC all fail to rally pinned German units in the town.  The unpinned squad fell back into the church (bottom left), and the PzSchreck fell back into a tower (far right, with 80mm mortars at bottom right).  Soufflee's mortars get another hit on 2nd Plt...

Captain Ronan manages to unpin 1st Plt's skitzy squad and get them moving up Hwy 1 to catch up with the rest of the platoon, but then he fails, WITH DOUBLES!!!

 So another @#$% German squad with PzFausts pops up on, you guessed it, the recently cleared Hill 40, and promptly puts a rocket into T5, damaging its running gear and pinning the crew.  The Wpns Plt 60mm mortar responds, getting one hit on the pesky Germans...

Lt Salt, lightly injured while getting his tank shot out from under him, brushes himself off and mounts T3, taking command.  He gets two rounds of fire on the German squad, racking up several hits and causing it to run.

Lt Tangoe, tired of sitting on the sideline, decides to get into the fight in dramatic fashion.  He moves at top speed to Hill 40, then rolls boxcars (two activations), firing to eliminate the running German squad (center), then rolling down the hill to fire at the two fleeing German 80mm mortars (far left).

 He gets down the hill, but misses the mortars...  Did you notice that white chip in the pic before this one?

Lt Tangoe now finds himself in the middle of a dug-in German rifle platoon.  Tangoe orders the driver to reverse, but before he can a PzFaust slams into the vehicle causing engine damage.

 The XO, Major Legan, hears the chatter on the radio and decides to do something about this new threat.  Legan moves to the Chateau (foreground) for a better view, then calls in an artillery barrage on the German rifle platoon dug-in between Hill 40 and Fricassee.   Ooooh, that's gonna be close isn't it?  Sorry Tangoe, better buckle your helmet, Lootenat.  (gotta love the jeep in the Chateau, eh?)

 The results (I keep meaning to drop off some craters whenever I call air or arty, but always forget).  One of the German mortars was eliminated, a lot of hits were meted out, and everyone was pinned.  Tangoe's vehicle was hit, but no further damage was sustained (1 hit 1 save).

 The last Recon vehicle popped up onto Bois-less Ridge, looking at Soufflee, where a PzFaust was launched at the limit of its range, throwing shrapnel up which damaged the sight on the HMG.  The M20 returned fire, getting a hit and pinning the PzSchreck.  Then he rolled again and got boxcars!  He fired again at the PzSchreck, eliminating it, then fired at a rifle squad, missing.

 T5 (foreground, left) and Capt Travers' (foreground, right) vehicle climbed Hill 40 and fired at the dug-in German infantry, getting a couple hits.  That's Lt Tangoe's armored car at left.

Lt Poller rushed 3rd Plt up Hill 40 next to the two Shermans.  They fire, getting a German rifle squad to run.  Lt Poller steels his nerve to order a charge; he opens his mouth to yell something courageous, witty, inspirational, and intimidating (all at the same time), but a honeybee zips in and chokes him (fails CR).

Captain Ronan had told Lt Lemmey to move 1st Plt forward, but Lemmey never stopped until he reached the Bus Station (center, with Fricassee to the left, hill 50 at top left with black chip, and Soufflee at top right).  Probably a little too aggressive, Lemmey.

The causes some spotting, which brings out a pair of MGs in Fricassee (top left) and a pair of MGs on Hill 50 (top right, with Bus Station and 1st Plt at bottom).  The machine guns open fire...

Ripping into 3rd Plt on Hill 40.

And 1st Plt at the Bus Station.

And then I discovered Ithoriel's M10s (foreground) are much better working against armor than infantry...  They open fire on the MG position on Hill 50 (top), but manage only 1 hit with 15 dice!

Then Lasthuzzer's M7s went to work again pounding Soufflee.  Two rounds of firing saw them eliminate one rifle squad and send another running for the hills.

Seeing the majority of their combat power leave, Oberst Fritz, the company commander, the platoon comannder, and the two 80mm mortars decide to bid adieu to Soufflee as well.

Lasthuzzer, being a young hard-charger, decides to give chase, but rolls a blunder...  The two M7s, which started the turn at the top left of the photo, ended it in the bottom left after falling back two moves and becoming pinned.  This really hurt, pulling a significant portion of the task force's firepower away for at least a couple turns (long enough to unpin both vehicles, get them turned around and back up into position to be useful) at a critical time...

 On the far right, ready to pounce on the recently evacuated Soufflee, 2nd Platoon's Lt Herbleu is frantically trying to rally his troops, who were roughly treated by the German mortars at Soufflee.  He gets some unpinned and moving forward, but then another damned blunder!  And this time it was Herbleu taking it in the shorts!  SNIPER, KA-POWWW!  And Herzbleu went down (he's was evacuated but he'll return soon).

**Apparently I forgot about adding a Tank-Killer**

 The retreat from Soufflee continues for the Germans.

Back at the embattled Hill 40, the German rifle squads manage to unpin.  One squad fires at Tangoe's vehicle (bottom left) and immobilizes it.  He tries to shoot again, but rolls a blunder, which causes him to charge 3rd Plt atop Hill 40.  Of course they mow the Germans down.  The other rifle squad fires a PzFaust at T5, but it ricochets off.  The squad fires another one, and this one also bounces, though T5 decides to fall back down the hill.

The Hill 50 machine guns (foreground) fire at 3rd Plt atop Hill 40 (top center, with yellow beads showing), getting a hit and pinning a rifle squad and hitting the PCs stand.  But Ithoriel's M10's make up for their earlier piss-poor shooting and eliminate one of the MGs.

Fricassee's machine guns (left) fire at Lemmey's 1st Plt (right), eliminating a rifle squad.  Travers' tank and the 60mm mortar return fire, but manage only 1 hit and a pin.

Meanwhile, Captain Leon moved over to the pinned (from blunder) M7s and was able to rally one of them.

So the XO made himself useful, rallying the other then leading them (center) back up Hwy 2 towards Soufflee (top right).  2nd Plt, spread out, without its platoon leader, and with a squad still pinned (bottom right), continues to push forward, with one rifle squad getting into the town and the bazooka climbing up high.

And what does he see (he's at bottom left in building)?  A bunch of Krauts running away (right), and a platoon of PzJgr IVs in the treeline.  The bazooka takes a loooooong shot, but manages to hit one, disabling its main gun and causing the crew to bail!  They quickly reload and fire again, but it bounces (1 hit 1 save) and return fire puts a hit on them.

Lucky Ithoriel moves swings left around Bois-less Ridge and moves his GMCs up Hwy 1, looking to get on the flank of the German PzJgrs.  Two of them are adjacent the Bus Station (and 1st Plt), while the one with running gear damage has fallen behind (far right).  3rd Plt and Travers' tank are on Hill 40 at bottom right.  At bottom left... Oh yes, let's talk about bottom left.

So, this is the point where I remembered to bring on another Tank-Killer resulting from Lt Herbleu's blunder/sniper attack (it's pretty crazy that I've rolled so many blunders in two games, and both had a sniper attack whack a Plt Cmdr).  So, a German rifle squad with PzFausts came on fired at Ithoriel's vehicle.  He wasn't as lucky as he has been, but he still managed to get away with only running gear damage.

The M20 Scout Car (far right) moves off of Bois-less Ridge and fires at the newly arrived Tank-Killer, but misses.  He passes another CR, fires again, misses again.

Then Evahnkeath's 60mm mortar went to work again.  First he targeted the rifle squad in the trench (bottom right), getting one hit and pinning it.  Then he turned the tube on the Fricassess machine guns, getting two more rounds of fire.  The first eliminated a machine gun, the second got a hit and pinned the other machine gun.  Then he passed another command roll and turned the tube on Hill 50, getting a hit and pinning its remaining machine gun!  Awesome.

3rd Platoon's Lt Poller finds himself a beat beat up, sitting on top of Hill 40 with two pinned rifle squads.  He tries to unpin one of them, and succeeds.  So he tries the other one and, rolls boxcars!  Finding himself with two ready to go rifle squads and a pinned German squad sitting at the bottom of the hill (and finally having cleared out that honey bee), Lt Poller lets out a blood-curdling scream and lit off down the hill with his rifle squads in tow.  They easily overpowered the Germans, and suffered one hit.  Poller reorganizes the platoon, down to one full strength rifle squad and the PC stand.

Lt Tangoe can't manage to unpin (bottom right, been that way ever since the arty barrage landed on him), but Travers and Salt charge their tanks down the hill and eliminate the other German mortar.

They move up again, turning east and taking out the retreating rifle team and last MG in Fricassee.  Feeling the squeeze between the tanks on their left and 3rd Plt on their right, the last German squad (center) surrenders.  T5 (the one that had two PzFausts bounce off and retreated down the backside of Hill 40) unpinned and moved up.

At this point Oberst Fritz evaluated the situation as such: Soufflee (top center/right) is not only devoid of Germans, it actually has Americans in it.  Fricassee (bottom left)has been emptied of my men and has two tanks and a reduced infantry platoon moving on it.  I have one MG on Hill 50 (top left), but it's pinned and down to its last strength point; I have one rifle squad left, but it's caught in the open outside Soufflee, pinned, and down to its last strength point.  The only other "infantry" I have is the Company Commander, a Platoon Commander, and two 80mm mortars, all running as fast as they can away from Soufflee.

On the positive side of the ledger, I have two fully functioning PzJgr 4s in the treeline (top left).  However, there are two Shermans on their flank (bottom left), with another coming up from Hill 40 (bottom center/right), and two M10s at the Chateau (center) and another coming up Hwy 1 (far right).  The two M7s nearing Soufflee aren't much of a conventional anti-tank threat, but those big shells can certainly raise hell on optics, armament, engines, and tracks.  Not to mention the ever present threat of artillery and Jabos.

Oberst Fritz decides it was time to call it a day.

German                                     US
8 Rifle Squads (~80 men)         1st Plt: 12 men, -1 squad
3 PzSchreck Tms (~18 men)    2nd Plt: 8 men, PC WIA
3 MG-42 Tms (~18 men)         3rd Plt: 26 men, -2 squads and bazooka
2 80mm Mortar (~12 men)       Wpns Plt: 6 men, - MG Tm
1 Plt Cmdr (~6 men)                 3rd Tk Plt: 1 KO, 3 damaged (2 bailout), PC WIA
3 Pz Mk IV KO                        Recon Plt: 3 KO, 3 damaged (1 bailout)
1 Pz Mk IV dam/abandoned     SPG Section: No losses
1 PzJgr IV dam/abandoned       TD Plt: 2 damaged

This is for:
Lt Herzbleu, 2nd Platoon, C Company
Lt Salt, 3rd Tank Platoon, 891st Tank Company

This is for:
Lt Evahnkeath, Wpns Plt, C Co, who remained cool under heavy enemy fire to personally direct the fire of the platoon's 60mm mortar section, delivering timely, accurate, and decisive supporting fire.
Lt Poller, 3rd Plt, C Co, for leading his platoon down Highway 1 through intense enemy mortar fire, taking Hill 40 under intense machine gun fire, then leading the close assault to eject German forces from the treeling between Hill 40 and the village of Fricassee.
Lt Salt, 3rd tank Plt, 891st Tank Co, for leading the attack on the enemy's central armored position, then on Hill 40, then commandeering another tank after having being wounded while having his tank shot out from under him, and continuing the fight, ultimately participating in the flanking maneuver which forced the enemy to concede the field.

Another fun game, even more than yesterday's, but another long one!  I'm not sure how long I can keep up these marathon wargaming sessions, but it's been a real blast.  This game went smoothly, and I really liked the addition of my 'Tank-Hunter' rule.  I believe I will stick with it for all my future pursuit/exploitation fights, and drop it for all the set-piece attack/defend and counterattack-type fights.

If you're wondering why the TD Plt and SPG Plt only had three and two vehicles, respectively, it's because I only have three M10s and two M7s in my collection.  Similarly, I only have six M4 Shermans, and the only Pz Mk IVs I have are early models with the short 75mm, which is why I used Mk IIIs (w/long 50mm) as proxies.  I'll fix this someday, but I've got a lot of painting to to before I order anything else.

Anyhoo, I hope you liked it!