Collision at Marktbr├╝cke

 

We had a game of Cold War Commander, Fred and I, this saturday. The theme was a Soviet breakthrough, supported by elements of a GMO, trying to take a vital bridge, and NATO trying to rush a hodgepodge of units to prevent it.

 

The map :

 And what it looked like on the table.

From the East :


From the West :

The US divided their forces into 4 groups : 2 Combat teams (CT)

1 & 2, with 6 Abrams and 2 LMVTPs each, 1 Infantry group riding in Hummvees3, and 1 heliported one, that would be activated with a special FAC and would deploy a conventional HQ for command. The northern CT would rush forward, with the aim of grabbing the bridge, the southern one would cover their right flank, while the HMMVs would drive down the road Marktbrücke… Helos would keep reinforcing it with infantry.

The Soviets had one infantry battalion1, tasked with rushing to the bridge along the road, under the cover of the 6 T72s’ guns 2 on hill 315. The 6 T64s ERA ATGW 4 would take under their guns a good chunk of the battlefield, covering the advance of the 10 improved T80s 3 that were tasked with securing the south approaches to Marktbrücke. Some flak (ZSU23/4 and SA 13) would give cover. 5 & 6

Placement

Soviet Placement

US placement :


Phase 1 : The US having won initiative, they started moving. Everything seemed OK, even though somle failed rolls delayed somewhat the HMMVs and  prevented the helos’ appearance. This cost them some M1A1s to massed long range ATGW fire 3, but on the whole, the plan went well. Strikes on the Soviet armor failed to score, though a few stray bombs caused havoc -and losses- among the ZSU23/4. 2

Things went less well for the Soviets, and I think this outright stopped me from claiming my objective. The T72s and T80s made their planned moves, but a command blunder on the infantry had catastrophic consequences, destroying 3 transports and their passengers -including the 2 BMP1s and the MANPADS1. More than the losses -that hurt though-, that meant I had no hopes of preventing the better US infantry of occupying the town and turning it into a modern Alamo.

Phase 1 map

US airstrike, and the result


Phase 2 saw things turning into a stalemate. The US infantry indeed occupied Marktbrücke as planned, but the duel between their accompanying M1A1s and the T72s didn’t go too well. This was mostly due to the fact that the 5 remaining AFVs had to watch for things on the south side of Marktbrücke and hence divided their forces. The duel consequently saw each side lose a tank. 2 & 3

 

The HMMVs kept moving at a snail pace, while the 1st choppers started to deliver passengers to Marktbrücke. The air assets did nothing, or failed to score, turned away by the Flak. This caused the uS too try to converge their southern CT towards Marktbrücke. This was a pivotal decision, as they wered presenting their flanks to 6 ERA T64 armed with ATGWs -my opponent conceded he’d forgotten about these tanks . This was a massacre, 3 M1A1s were taken out 1, while the remainder took shelter behind the woods. The LVTPs started to cross the river. Meanwhile, the Russian infantry moved towards Marktbrücke and debussed.

Phase 2 map

CT South undedr enfilading fire


Phase 3 saw the end of the game. The destruction of half the M1A1s of CT south allowed the T80s and T64s to relocate. The T64s took position on the SE hill, regaining sight on the M1A1s who had retreated W some. The T80 moved forward. The ensuing gun battle saw the last 3 CT South tanks brew up, and the destruction of a T80 2. The battle between the T72 and CT North tanks saw them lose another Abrams. 1

 

This brought desperate moves. The US threw in the kitchen sink at the Soviets in order to secure that bridge, as the Soviet infantry had occupied the eastern half of Marktbrücke and had the bridge under their guns -surprisingly, my opponent had not used reaction fire, he had a plan- and ordered a heavy airstrike on the T72s. It cost them a Tomcat, but suppressed the whole T72 unit. Then the US infantry charged across the bridge, hoping to rourt the Soviet conscripts. These however held their ground, destroying 2 US platoons in the attempt. 3

Phase 3 map

Choppers debus infantry at Marktbrücke

Airstrike on Hill 315

Across the bridge under fire

 

That was the last action, as it was getting late, and well, it was time both commanders reported to their higher-ups. The failure of the Soviet attempt at grabbing the bridge, and the horrendopus losses suffered by the US, make this battle a draw. The US need to reinforce Marktbrücke fast, as what is left cannot hope to hold against the Soviet GMO. But all chances to keep pushing decisively have been lost by the Soviets, who need to start afresh a new effort. This reminds me of the battle of Halle, in Red Storm Rising, where the initaial soviet success is chacked at a high cost by the US.