A Clash in Schleswig-Holstein, 1984

My mate Bertie was asking for Cold War stuff to appear on the blog, so here’s a game I did a little over a year ago with the Minions.  We were playtesting some ideas and unit cards for ‘Battlefront: First Echelon’, a Cold War variant of ‘Battlefront: WWII’ that has been a very loooong time in the making (and is still nowhere near finished…).

In this game, set in the Schleswig-Holstein region of West Germany in 1984, a West German Panzer-Grenadier unit attempts to fight a delaying action against Soviet spearhead forces at a succession of defended minor water obstacles and small towns, while the Soviets attempt to push through (or ideally bypass) the blocking position and push on to Denmark.

You’ll have to excuse my rubbish terrain… I normally rely on the lovely club terrain when playing games at W.A.S.P., but when playing ‘away games’ my own terrain is decidedly shabby and battered by 20+ years of being driven from game to game in the back of my car!  In recent months I’ve invested in a lovely new wargames cloth and hundreds of trees, so my next ‘away’ games should look a bit better!

Above: The battlefield: Elements of the Soviet 94th Guards Motor Rifles Division are entering from the far table edge, with the objective of bypassing and containing NATO resistance, breaking through and driving for Hamburg.

Above: Waiting for the Soviets are the men of the 161st Panzergrenadier Battalion (Mixed), part of the 16th Panzergrenadier Brigade, 6th Panzergrenadier Division.  This consists of two Panzergrenadier companies mounted in Marder IFVs, a Panzer company and attached elements from divisional recce, anti-tank, air defence and artillery units.  They are part of the Danish-German-US-British LANDJUT Command blocking the way to Hamburg and the Danish border.

Above: The 6th Panzergrenadier Division is one of the last regular Bundeswehr formations fielding the Kampfpanzer M48A2GA2 medium tank (a West German upgrade of the venerable M48 Patton, fitted with a 105mm gun and modern fire-control) in lieu of the far more modern Leopard series.  Nevertheless, these old beasts of war successfully ambush and destroy the Soviet recce element’s T-64B platoon as it noses its way out of town.  The rest of the Soviet recce company dive off the road and luckily manage to spot the rest of the German panzer company, though don’t spot the dug-in panzergrenadiers lurking along the wooded ridge.

Above: Hoping to lure the Soviets into an ambush, some of the panzers fire a few ineffectual shots and withdraw, covered by a section of Jaguar 1 tank destroyers, lobbing long-range HOT missiles into the mass of Soviet armour.  In the meantime, there are some remarkably ineffectual calls for fire by attached FOOs on both sides!  The German FAC has better luck however, and manages to call down a strike by Jaguar GR1s from 54 Squadron RAF (part of the UK Mobile Force reinforcement to Denmark).  However, the Soviet regimental air defence troops aren’t napping and an SA-9 ‘Gaskin’ SAM section manages to luckily splash the first RAF Jaguar!

Above: A second RAF Jaguar strike fares a little better and survives its run, though is ‘Disordered’ by the SA-9 and only manages to suppress a few AFVs before limping back to base.

Above: As the Soviet commander wonders how he’s going to get his MTU-54 bridgelayer through the arch (!), the following tanks decide to avoid the traffic jam in town and hook right, past the burning recce T-64 platoon.

Above: The lurking M48s managed to knock out the lead T-64 platoon as it attempts to cross the bridge; much to the annoyance of some German recce troops, who were lurking nearby with Panzerfaust 44s ready to deal with the first Russkis to cross the bridge. A BRDM-2 scout car is also knocked out as it attempts to recce the river valley.

Above: The West Germans have the bridge well covered by fire from several M48s, as well as a Jaguar ATGM section, a Panzergrenadier platoon and a Recce platoon.

Above: A Motor Rifle company arrives at the bridge.  Troops dismount from their BMP-1 IFVs and prepare to storm the bridgehead on foot.  The regimental artillery group has promised to support them, but as yet has not delivered much in the way of fire support (nor has the West German artillery, to be fair).

Above: On the German right flank, the Soviet tanks, rashly pursuing the withdrawing panzers, have run straight into an ambush, courtesy of the dug-in 3rd Panzergrenadier Company.  One T-64 was destroyed outright by panzergrenadiers as it attempted to overrun the position, while another was destroyed by a flank-shot from a MILAN team. A third T-64 got bogged down as it overran the position, was counter-attacked by panzergrenadiers and surrendered!  However, the panzergrenadiers were mainly driven back, though with only light losses and were soon able to rally.

Above: Not so lucky was the MILAN team, which pushed its luck and was soon overrun by vengeful Soviet recce dismounts. Nevertheless, fire from the remaining M48 within the wood managed to suppress the surviving T-64s and a lot of bad luck saw the Soviets scurrying back toward the safety of their comrades.  This gave the Panzergrenadiers the time they needed to jump into their Marders and drive like hell for their fallback position at the factory.  However, in the meantime they lost a further panzergrenadier section and the Panzer Company commander, who bravely attempted to launch a single-handed counter-attack on the flank of the Soviet tanks.

Above: With the river crossings being strongly contested, traffic-jams start to build at the rear of the Soviet column.

Above: At the rear of the German position, the 2nd Panzergrenadier company is dug into urban terrain, while a Flakpanzer Gepard section lurks nearby, ready to deal with any Soviet air threat.

Above: As the 3rd Panzergrenadier Company falls back from its position on the forward-right flank, the 2nd Panzergrenadier Company in the town prepares to engage the Soviet pursuit.  The 1st Panzer Company meanwhile, adjusts its position to face right, ready to engage the Soviets advancing on the right.

However, time had run out and our mums had called us in for tea, so that’s where the game ended.  All in all, an excellent test of the rules!

Models: They’re a mixed bag and I started building my Cold War collection long before the Team Yankee and PSC models started appearing.

For the West Germans, the infantry, Marders, Jaguar, Gepard and Luchs are all by QRF, while the M113s are plastic models from Flames of War’s Vietnam range (modified by the replacement of .50 Cal HMGs with spare MG42s (identical to the post-war MG3) and British WW2 tank crew figures in berets.  The M48A2GA2s are Skytrex M48s, heavily coverted by the talented hand of Martin Small.

For the Soviets, the T-64s, GAZ-66 trucks, MTU-54 and ZSU-23-4 Shilka are by QRF, the BMP and BRDM variants are by Skytrex and the infantry are by Khurasan.

The Jaguar is a 1/100th die-cast model by Italeri.

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