We played a continuation of the Kursk Ponyri Battles with the Soviet 3rd Tank Corps attack against the 1st May Collective Farm, located to the Northeast of Ponyri [CLICK] itself.
The battle we gamed was as faithful attempt as possible on a 6 x 4 table to recreate the Soviet 57th Motorized Brigade and 27th Guards Heavy Tank assault into the 507th IR's perimeter on the morning of July 9th.
We used Battlegroup: Kursk rules with an epic 968 points on my modest 6 x 4 table. The result was a meatgrinder of a clash with desperate tank and anti tank duels, infantry thrusts, and brutal counter attacks!
|Picture from the battle|
|Looking to the north. The "Polevaya Snova" is an intermittent stream which was barely difficult terrain but important for me to put on the table to guide other terrain placement.|
Ivan gets reinforcements on turn 3 and Fritz gets them on turn 5! I know to Dave, who played the Germans, it must have been an eternity to watch that red tide of armor pour onto the table knowing he didn't have any friends coming until turn 5. But his Stugs gave an excellent and honorable account of themselves and there were many Iron Crosses to go around (posthumously).
|Soviet armor probes forward towards the collective.|
|T-70 edges closer to the Collective farm.|
|T-34s probing forward|
|Scouts moving through the creek bed between the cropfields.|
|The first of many victims of the accurate Stug Battery burn! Dave would eventually scratch 8 out of 9 T-34s. And the only reason #9 survived was because I pulled him off the line to resupply.|
|Situation on the Soviet left|
|knife fight breaks out with the recce and the T-70 gains the upper hand with a shot. The blue beads mean I activated them this turn.|
|Advancing up to the fruit orchard and into the German lines! Dave had a killing field prepared beyond the orchard and it would become a graveyard for many of my squads.|
|reinforcing Soviet armor. Note the already-destroyed tanks burning. Another great tactic was to put the AT guns on "ambush"|
|STAL STAL STAL! Order would be used to rapidly close with the AT gun at the treeline. The only way to deal with an ambush - assault through!|
|If you're wondering about the labels, they're based for CROSSFIRE...|
|Stug in a hide site taking out Russian tanks!|
|view from the German side.|
|note the SU122s on the left at the edge of the wheatfield, infantry moving up the center, and the long parade of destroyed T-34s on the left.|
|On the left.|
|Shooting starts to take its toll on the Stug Battery.|
|Stal! Stal! Stal! Assault moves up the right to try and get things moving quicker. Note the AT gun in the prepared positions in the tree line.|
|Infantry moving at the double!|
|Scouts in the orchard!|
|Germans in the trenchline|
|Germans in the houses. I underestimated all those German units as they started pouring out of the collective!|
|Soviet FO stand.|
|Another AT gun goes down and another one takes its place!|
|waves of infantry coming forward.|
|Artillery strike nails a bunch of German teams.|
|The small cabin in the center would become an objective for both sides as Soviet squads would take it, and draw fire from every German rifle in range! Not to mention Stug fire.|
|Soviets in the cabin in front of the German main positions. Note the casualty dice and pinned marker.|
|Dave starts hurling artillery at my advancing infantry to break up the attack.|
|Hey look at all these dead scouts. Mused the next Russian infantry squad that occupied the fruit orchard.|
|wife snapped a rare picture of the generals in action|
|SU76s swing into action at the farm! This poor one would get into a losing fight with the Stug but neither of them could find their target for turns.|
|going to make something happen! It's time to over run that gun!|
|first pass he tries to take out the Stug III and it's a wash. 2 x misses.|
|Soviets reach the trenchline on the left.|
|Germans standing their ground!|
|I move up the HMG team. Dave concentrates ALL his fire on the squad in the cabin. They're taken out. Then the 3 man loader team for the HMG is taken out.|
|view from the German positions|
|creeping up the left flank. Dave's got me stuck in his first line of trenches. If I come out, he'll mow me down. So i stick to my 4+ cover save!|
|A miraculous opportunity for a flank shot against the Ferdinand! Surely a 122mm Howitzer ought to have a killing chance to take out this beast in the flank right???? RIGHT?|
|Close assault into the woodline goes well but Ivan gets greedy.|
|Dave's got the objective contested!|
|ADVANCE! ATTACK! ASSAULT! Close assaulting the Germans.|
|More close assault|
We get close to our battle rating and a final 122mm artillery strike settles the game and the Germans reach their BP of 68 and withdraw. I was at 57, a mere 6 BPs away from breaking. I would not have lasted another turn. The battle took just under 6 hours to complete. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!
Wow what a battle. The infantry fight was exciting as was the armor fighting and all of the extra toys on the table. I love battlegroup for the narrative it produces and both Dave an I were exhausted from the fighting. (worth mentioning we both had full work days prior to the fighting). On my table, I think the "Sweet Spot" for Battlegroup games is probably 450 to 500 points or a platoon sized game in 15mm. Playing larger games than that we could have used more people where everyone could command "something."
The one thing I will say is that the Battlegroup: Kursk battle shaped out almost exactly as it did in real life and frankly that's the gold standard of wargaming right there in my humble opinion. In real life at the 1st May, the 3rd Tank Corps' assault pushed the Germans back, temporarily, and the 507th IR bled itself recapturing the collective farm. So picking up where we left off last Christmas, the 1st May Collective is recaptured by tired, worn Soviet forces! (and true to history, will be recaptured by reinforcements from the 507th and 653rd the very next day).
I want to fight this battle, in its entirety again, but with Alex's "Up the Blue!" rules and see how they handle a mess of a game like this with exactly the same forces and parameters. (reinforced attack with troops arriving on turns 3 and 5). Might be fun from an OOB perspective as I'll have roughly a battalion on both sides of the creekbed. Stay tuned and MERRY CHRISTMAS!