24th July 1941
The 61st PanzerDivision, under Generat von Füchsenbat, had been tasked with securing key positions on the flanks of General Hoeppner’s PanzerGruppe drive on Leningrad. The speed of the previous days progress, however, had caused significant disruptions in the Division’s forces availability, leaving von Füchsenbat with only 3 Panzer Kompanies, and 2 motorized infantry battalions, one of them riding in armoured half-tracks. The importance of the mission, however, had allowed for plentiful Stuka and Artillery support. Enemy resistance was expected on ridge 306, a vital terrain featur overlooking critical roads.
The little red balls with the white Os mark the emplacement of the objectives.
The Panzers about to roll on the Autobahn, while the SdKfz are waiting on their right. German KVs lie in ambush south of Hill 306.
The 61st Panzer is attacking from the South., and must secure 2 objectives in the village of Ivanpabo and on ridge 306 itself. Another feature that was to prove vital in the battle is the spire of the church of Raketaski, a vantage point from which nearly the whole battlefield can be observed. Of notice is also the wood west of Ivanpabo, a likely approach for any flanking move.
German forces :
1 CO cv 10
1 HQ cv9, 6 x Heer, 6 x Sdkfz 251/1, 1 MG42, 1 truck
1 HQ cv9, 6 x Heer, 1 MG42
1 HQ, 2 x Pz IV E, 4 x Pz III G, 4 x Pz II F
1 FAO, 1 FAC
2 x 105 mm (2 x HE, 1 x Smoke)
2 x Stuka (2 x bombs)
Facing them was a tough nut to crack : entranched but hardly trained men of the 254th Infantry Brigade, but supported by 2 companioes of the 488th tank Brigade, one of them riding in brand new KV heavy tanks.
1 CO cv8
1 HQ cv 7, 6 x conscripts, 1 x Maxim HMG, 1 x 37mm ATG
1 HQ cv 7, 6 x conscripts, 1 x Maxim HMG, 1 x 37mm ATG
3 x T26S
2 x KV 1
1 x KV 2
50% of the soviet force had the possibility to entranch.
Von Füchsenbat’s plan : banking on the reluctance of the Soviets to leave the safety of the entranchments, his force would leave their right flank open, and pile on Ivanpabo, of which fall would give the Wehrmacht free rein to rampage on the rear of Hill 306. To that effect, a batalion of Schützen would be tasked with taking the woods west of Ivanpabo, then the village itself, while Stukas and howitzer would stomp any resistance there….
As expected, soviet forces had entranched on top of hill 306 : 1 batallion of conscripts, supported by a company of T26. The heavy tanks were gathered not far from the crossroads north of the hill with the CO (smack where I’d intended to unleash a Stuka raid on turn 3… ), while more surprisingly, the second battalion was deployed in the open south of Ivanpabo (the soviet player had well guessed the place would be badly struck by my support assets… but not how that would be done).
Russian infantry and armor entranched on Hill 306. The blue glass star marks the objective.
I’d forgotten to take along my entranchments, so the next best thing were these walls… Oh, well…
Smoke obscures soviet lines of fire, letting the PzGrenadoiers into the woods safely
The German FAO and FAC take position in Raketaski’s church. They’re the 2 little blue dots on the map.
At 1300, reports reached the divisional HQ of the 61st Panzer that Soviet elements were entranched on hill 306, upon which General von Füchsenbat opted for a flanking attack from the west. Intending to drive at top speed on the road to Ivanpabo, he nonetheless detached a Panzergrenadier battalion to take position in the woods west of Ivanpabo. At 14h00, lead elements of that battalion were reaching their attack positions south of the woods, and a smoke barrage obscured lines of fire south of teh village. This was fortunate as, for some reason, Soviet infantry had deployed in that area, further south than expected. While the PzGrenadier took their expected positions in the woods with little resistance, the news caused some confusion at the higher level, resulting in a halting of the advance of the motorized spearhead (3 command roills failed in a row, with 9 to roll each time, leaving both the half tracks and the tanks stranded… tell me about cv 9 and 10 commanders!). The apparition of the german infantry seemed to cause some confusion among the Soviets too, as the infantry that had been deployed south of Ivanpabo, was rushed back to that locality. The remaining Soviet forces stayed inactive, waiting for the German offensive to develop.
German infantry has taken the woods (the little red bead is a suppression marker). Artillery and Stukas are to stomp the place. The blue star’s the aiming point…
At 1405, as scheduled, German 105 mm shells started to lad on Ivanpabo, causing severe losses among the Russian conscripts. This barrage was followed by the banshee wails of diving Stukas, heralding more punishment for the hapless Russians… half their battalion was wiped out in the open, the survivors cowering in the shelter of the village’s buildings. The Germans, however, failed to capitalize on that success, and stayed hunkered down in the woods. Further south, General von Füchsenbat had a lot of difficulties getting his forces to move, but at last they started, though they fell further behind schedule (this time, one single order passed for both motorized units…). Seeing that his right flank was about to crumble, the Russian command committed his heavy tanks to the rescue at 1410, KV tanks starting to lumber westward at a snail’s pace, and moved alongside them. The commander of the battered soviet infantry battalion managed to get his AT gun section to the shelter of some woods, facing north to shoot in the rear of any tank driving on Ivanpabo.
Russian PBI take it on the nose… while the Panzers are, unbelievably, still idling.
It’s the Stuka’s turn… the red dice mark the results of the artillery strike.
What’s left of the Russian infantry… the fleeing platoon on the left will be next too die, as it has already taken 5 hits.
At 1415, the crossroads north of hill 306 were attacked and bombed by Stukas, as scheduled, but unfortunately to no avail as the area had just been emptied of enemy targets. At the same time, a new 105 mm barrage fell on Ivanpabo, panicking the surviving infantrymen there. Some of them were routed North of the village, just in the line of fire of a company of Panzergrenadier occuping the edge of the woods, and were obliterated. Once more, the Panzergrenadier did not leave the shelter of the woods, being content on pouring fire in the soviet soldiers firing back from the roofs of the church of Ivanpabo. Meanwhile, however, General von Füchsenbat had managed to sort out his forces, and, at 1420, as the Panzers were cresting the low hill south of Ivanpabo, they could catch a glimpse of the advancing KVs starting to pour a moderately effective fire on the Grenadiers in the west woods, ending all hope of taking the village fast. Seeing the threat of the advancing German tanks, the Russian KVs redeployed south to meet them.
The raging infantry battle for the village. Despite their strength, the KV tanks wont be able to influence it a lot.
At 1425, the German armor moved downslope towards Ivanpabo, running a gauntlet of tank and antitank gun fire that knocked out no less than 2 platoons of their most valuable Panzert IIIs, knocking out the last of the Ivanpabo infantry in the process. Observers in Raketaski managed to spot the Russian behemoths, but while the artillery was ineffective against such heavy armor, no Stukas were available to delay them. At 1430, Von Füchsenbat ordered his tanks into Ivanpabo, which had yet to be occupied by the Panzergrenadiers but was fortunately devoid of any enemy, getting his force out of the field of fire of the Russian monsters. The half tracks moved to the south west of the village, and halted at 1435.
German armour stacks up in the village after taking heavy losses… while a few 105mm shells pound the KVs
At 1440, Russian KV tanks moved further south, in the hope of enfilading the village main street and consequently catching the Panzers… this was not to be. At that same time, German artillery found their mark on the westermost entranchmants, followed, 5 minutes later, by the screaming sirens of diving Stukas, effectively paralyzing the whole right half of the Hill 306 redoubt. At 1445, German tanks emerged from Ivanpabo’s north exit, turning the heavy KV’s flanks, while half tracks didgorged infantry just north of them… One of the half track platoons paying however the ultimate price to the awesome firepower of the Soviets (well, 15 dice rolled at a half track will do that any day).
German Panzer IIIs burn on the road. The third smoke pall is a SdKfz 251
German armour has flanked the Soviet heavies, while artillery and Stukas pound hill 306.
At 1450, while the Russian commander was struggling to keep up with this new development, Panzers opened up a devastating flanking fire on the Soviet heavies, obliterating 2 platoons, and sending the last remaining tanks fleeing. While the German consolidated their hold on Ivanpabo, getting ready to bound on hill 306, a massive soviet smokescreen effectively alowed al remaining soviet forces to leave the battlefield unscathed (it was time to pack up at that point, but nonetheless, there was little point in continuing as the last KV was suppressed with a whole PzRegiment to take on it next turn).
Enfilading fire on the Russian tanks. Ivanpabo is safely in German hands.
Dismounted Panzergrenadiers protect the flank
The hill 306 position is suppressed.
Thanks to Stephane for the great game… BKC gives you indeed the feel of armoured tactics, and frustrations that must not be to far from what real commanders experienxce when their carefully planned maneuvers go astray.