Hold Back The Tide For a While… Germany, 1984

In my previous ‘Cold War 1984’ game report, regular readers will recall that I forgot to bring my box of British armour to the game.  So by popular demand, I finally got the Chieftains on the table…

In our last game, the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars (QRIH) Battlegroup from the BAOR’s 33 Armoured Brigade had been rushed south to shore up the crumbling 1 Belgian Corps.  Together with West German Home Guard forces, the QRIH advance guard had successfully blunted the reconnaissance efforts of the Soviet 40th Motor Rifles Regiment.  However, the Soviets have broken through in other sectors and the QRIH Battlegroup is now tasked with blunting a Soviet armoured breakthrough east of the River Weser, in an encounter battle at the town of Durchwetten.

Chieftain Main Battle Tank

Orbat for Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars Battlegroup – Lt Col O’Rasmussen:

(All elements ‘Veteran’)

1x Command Chieftain Main Battle Tank
1x Ferret Scout Car

Close Recce Troop:
1x Command CVR(T) Scorpion Reconnaissance Vehicle
3x CVR(T) Scorpion Reconnaissance Vehicle

‘A’ Squadron Group:
1x Command Chieftain Main Battle Tank
3x Chieftain Main Battle Tank
3x Infantry (1 with Carl Gustav, remainder with LAW)*
1x FV-432 Armoured Personnel Carrier*

‘D’ Squadron:
1x Command Chieftain Main Battle Tank
4x Chieftain Main Battle Tank

No.1 Company Group, 1 Irish Guards – Major Pring:
1x Commander
1x L9A1 51mm Mortar Team
1x L7A2 GPMG Team (Sustained Fire Mount)
6x Infantry (2 with Carl-Gustav, remainder with LAW)
5x FV-432 Armoured Personnel Carrier
1x Chieftain Main Battle Tank*

Elements, 111 Air Defence Battery RA:
2x Javelin SAM Team
2x CVR(T) Spartan Armoured Personnel Carrier

5 Field Battery, 19 Field Regiment RA:
3x Forward Observer
3x FV-432 Armoured Personnel Carrier
4x Abbot 105mm Self-Propelled Guns (off-table Direct Support)
[13, 25 & 28 Field Batteries also available in General Support]

‘B’ Flight, 653 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps:
1x Command Gazelle AH Mk 1 Light Observation Helicopter
2x Lynx AH Mk 1 HELARM Anti-Tank Helicopter (TOW ATGM)

Royal Air Force:
1x Forward Air Controller (with Harrier GR Mk3 on call, armed with rockets)
1x Ferret Scout Car

*These elements are cross-attached between the QRIH and 1 IG to form mixed Squadron/Company Groups.

T-64A Main Battle Tank

Orbat for 40th Motor Rifle Regiment (Elements) – Colonel Thomasski:

(All elements ‘Trained’ except for aircrew, who are ‘Experienced’)

Tank Battalion, 40th Motor Rifle Regiment – Lt Col Sibleyski:
1x Command T-64AK Main Battle Tank
9x T-64A Main Battle Tank
3x T-64B Main Battle Tank

9th Company, 40th Motor Rifle Regiment – Major Thomsonov:
1x Commander
1x SA-14 ‘Gremlin’ SAM Team
2x PKM Light Machine Gun Team
9x Motor Rifle Infantry (3 with RPG-7L, remainder with RPG-16)
5x BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Elements, Regimental Air Defence Company:
1x ZSU-23-4 ‘Shilka’ AAA Vehicle
1x SA-9 ‘Gaskin’ SAM Vehicle

Elements, Regimental Anti-Tank Company:
2x 9P148 (BRDM-2 with AT-5 ‘Spandrel’)

Elements, Regimental Recce Company:
1x BRDM-2 Scout Car
1x T-64B Main Battle Tank

1st Battery, Regimental Artillery Group:
1x Forward Observer
1x PRP-3 ‘Val’ Artillery Command & Reconnaissance Vehicle
3x 2S1 ‘Gvozdika’ Self-Propelled 122mm Howitzers (off-table Direct Support)

2nd Battery, Regimental Artillery Group:
1x Forward Observer
1x 1V13 Artillery Command & Reconnaissance Vehicle
3x 2S1 ‘Gvozdika’ Self-Propelled 122mm Howitzers (off-table Direct Support)

Elements, Divisional Aviation Squadron:
1x Command Mi-24 ‘Hind E’
1x Mi-24 ‘Hind E’

Elements, Frontal Aviation:
1x Forward Air Controller (with MiG-27 ‘Flogger D’ on call, armed with mixed bombs and rockets)
1x BTR-60 R975 Tactical Air Control Vehicle

Above:  Having crossed a minor water obstacle, the QRIH Battlegroup races to take up positions on the high ground overlooking the town of Durchwaten.  The Close Recce Troop, with an attached RAF FAC, motors to take up position in the southern factory complex, while ‘D’ Squadron move to take up hull-down positions on the ridge west of the town.  The Irish Guards No.1 Company Group moves to occupy the town with ‘A’ Squadron Group in support.  Somewhat rashly, Lt Col O’Rasmussen decides to make a personal reconnaissance of the high ground north of the town, along with the Royal Artillery AD Javelin teams.  The FOOs from 5 Field Battery are allocated to each Squadron/Company Group.

Above:  Having broken through the Belgians and associated West German Home Guard units, the Tank Battalion of the 40th Motor Rifles Regiment is in full flood!  The regiment’s 9th Motor Rifle Company follows closely behind, while anti-aircraft, anti-tank and artillery elements provide close support.

Above:  At the point of the advance, the Soviet reconnaissance element, having detected a new NATO unit ahead, falls back while the tanks race to seize high ground to the sotheast and northeast of Durchwaten.

Above:  The QRIH Chieftain crews, confident of their thick armour and the long-range hitting power of their 120mm guns, quickly move to take up hull-down positions… However, they are spotted and a handful of the Soviet tanks are new T-64B models, which soon take the Chieftains to task at long-range with tube-launched AT-8 ‘Songster’ missiles, backed up by the AT-5 ‘Spandrel’ missiles of the Anti-Tank Company.  Two ‘D’ Squadron Chieftain troops are knocked out in quick succession, closely followed by the Royal Artillery FV-432, which falls victim to Soviet artillery.  Thankfully, the RA FOO manages to bail out of his vehicle and scuttles into the nearby woods.  The remaining Chieftains return fire, but the Soviets are already closing fast…

Above:  The bloody nose received by ‘D’ Squadron is soon repeated elsewhere… The Close Recce Troop bites off far more than it can chew in the factory complex and suffers catastrophic casualties as they discover that a Scorpion is no match for a T-64!  The shattered remnants quickly retire back toward the river valley and give up all hope of establishing an OP in the factory chimney.

Above:  Return fire by ‘D’ Squadron is remarkably ineffective as the Soviets close the range.  The Squadron Commander (on the left) pushes forward to observe from the treeline, but is immediately spotted and disordered by fire from a whole company of T-64s, backed up by ATGMs.  The FOO calls down fire on the Soviet tanks, but the 105mm Abbot Guns make little impression.

Above:  On ‘D’ Squadron’s left, the Irish Guards’ No.1 Company pushes on into Durchwaten unmolested.  However, they can hear the ominous sound of tank engines echoing through the streets as the Soviets push into the eastern edge of town.  Major Pring’s attached Chieftan Troop and MILAN section are placed on the right, to support the flank of the beleaguered ‘D’ Squadron.  On the far left flank, 111 Air Defence Battery has also suffered losses.  Their Spartan APCs came under fire and were quickly dispatched by long-range missile fire from prowling ‘Hind’ helicopters.  Nevertheless, the Javelin SAM teams managed with some considerable good fortune, to dismount unscathed and quickly set up their missiles to engage the helicopters.

Above:  Lt Col O’Rasmussen is leading a charmed life on the left flank, as two of the Hinds’ AT-6 ‘Spiral’ missiles malfunction and a third fails to penetrate the armour of his Chieftain!  Fire from a T-64, BMPs and an ATGM vehicle is also shrugged off, as the Colonel returns fire and destroys T-64 and BMP platoons in quick succession!  Buoyed up by their Colonel’s supporting fire, ‘A’ Squadron Group, ignoring the threat posed by the lurking helicopters, attempts a move around the northern flank of the town.

Above:  Two squads of Motor Rifles manage to escape from their burning BMPs into the woods, but a third squad is not so lucky as it is immolated.  The other BMPs quickly move to better cover, along with the support AA and observer vehicles.

Above:  As one company of T-64s works its way through the factory and the wreckage of the QRIH Close Recce Troop, another company of tanks runs the gauntlet between the factory and the town, under fire from British artillery and the surviving Chieftains all the while.  The weight of British fire temporarily forces back some of the Soviet units, but they rally and are soon moving forward again.  Behind the leading Soviet tanks, the Battalion HQ and an attached ATGM vehicle provide supporting fire, while a FOO calls down more 122mm fire onto ‘D’ Squadron’s position.  Unseen by the British, a Soviet FAC dismounts from his BTR and moves up onto the high ground, to get a better view of the battlefield.

Above:  Answering the call, a MiG-27 ‘Flogger D’ streaks in from the east and dodging Javelin SAMs and hastily-sprayed machine guns, unleashes a volley of rockets at the ‘D’ Squadron Commander’s Chieftain.  The Squadron Commander survives by the skin of his teeth, becoming Disordered in game terms.  The MiG soon returns for a second pass, but the Javelins this time are more effective, disordering the Flogger and throwing off his aim.

Above:  The ‘Hind’ flight commander tries once again to engage Lt Col O’Rasmussen’s Chieftain, but again with little effect!  Frustrated and out of missiles, his wingman moves forward to engage with rockets…

Above:  However, the Javelins of 111 AD Battery are waiting and the Hind is quickly reduced to a rapidly-descending fireball…

Above:  ‘A’ Squadron’s flanking move has been detected and a platoon of T-64s moves through Durchwaten to engage them in the flank.  The Chieftains manage to get their shots off first, but incredibly fail to destroy the Soviets, despite firing at point-blank range!  The Soviets are suppressed, but still manage to hit the leading Chieftain troop in the flank, destroying it and blunting ‘A’ Squadron’s attack.

Above:  In the centre, Major Pring’s No.1 Company Irish Guards dismount to fight through Durchwaten.  However, they are distracted by the sight of a Soviet tank company bursting through the gap between the town and the factory!  Their supporting Chieftain troop quickly takes out one platoon of T-64s, while the MILANs take care of another, before being subjected to Soviet artillery.  The right-hand troop of ‘A’ Squadron moves along the edge of town to destroy two more T-64 platoons, but is itself then destroyed by a point-blank RPG from hidden Motor Riflemen.  ‘A’ Squadron’s attached Irish Guards platoon is swift to take revenge however, as they move into the houses and eliminate two lurking Soviet Motor Rifle squads.

Above:  The remnants of ‘D’ Squadron sell their lives dearly, destroying another T-64 platoon, as well as ATGM and AA elements that were unwise enough to stick their paper-thin armour above the parapet.  However, a Soviet tank company is about to outflank them…

Above:  The rest of the Motor Rifle Company moves into Durchwaten, though not before an unwary section of BMPs falls victim to the wily Lt Col O’Rasmussen!  An ATGM vehicle fires yet another missile at the Colonel’s Chieftain, but the armour shrugs it off and the Colonel soon chalks up yet another kill as he dispatches the uppity ATGM vehicle.

Above:  However, the writing is on the wall as ‘D’ Squadron looks set to be overrun…

Above:  The disordered and bewildered ‘D’ Squadron Commander finally loses his bottle and takes off in a frantic dash to the rear!  Another Chieftain troop follows suit and falls back from the crest, though the remaining troop carries on fighting on the ridge until it is overwhelmed.

Above:  Observing the disaster unfolding on the right flank, the Chieftain Troop attached to No.1 Company Irish Guards continues to stand its ground as it reports back to Lt Col O’Rasmussen.  Despite successes in the town, the right flank has now collapsed and Soviet tanks are heading for the Weser!

Above:  Lieutenant Colonel O’Rasmussen calls up the helicopters of 653 Squadron, but they can do little to stem the flood.  All they can do is buy time for the remnants of the QRIH Battlegroup to fall back to the Weser, where they can hopefully find an intact bridge to the west bank…

So a victory for the Soviet Union and Orders of Lenin all round for the senior officers, with Major Thomsonov appointed as a Hero of the Soviet Union!

On the British side, Lt Col O’Rasmussen receives the DSO for his sterling leadership and gunnery skills during this difficult engagement, while Major Pring is Mentioned in Dispatches for a skilful infantry engagement in Durchwaten.  2Lt O’Lunacy, commanding the right-hand flank troop of ‘D’ Squadron and now listed as MIA, is recommended for a VC.  The Squadron Commander of ‘D’ Squadron QRIH was later arrested by the RMP and awaits Courts Martial.

The game was played with Battlefront: First Echelon, our under-development Cold War variant of Battlefront: WWII rules by Fire & Fury Games.  In BF:FE and BF:WWII, each vehicle or heavy weapon represents 2-3 actual items, while a stand of infantry represents a Section/Squad.

The models used are all from my own collection.  The British infantry and vehicles are all by QRF.  The Soviet BRDM, BMP and BTR-60 variants are all by Skytrex, while the other Soviet vehicles are by QRF.  The Soviet infantry are by Khurasan.  The Lynx and Hind helicopters are by Team Yankee, while the Gazelle is a 1/100th kit by Heller and the MiG-27 ‘Flogger D’ is a VERY rare 1/100th kit by Takara (that is actually here converted into an Angolan MiG-23ML Flogger – I would REALLY like to find another one of these to do as a proper Soviet Flogger D!).

This entry was posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Battlefront: WW2, Battlefront: WWII Scenarios, Cold War, Scenarios. Bookmark the permalink.

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