The Warsaw Pact’s Northern Front crossed the Inter-German Border two days ago, rapidly breaking through the forward units of the German Schleswig-Holstein Territorial Command, annihilating the 81st Heimatschütz Regiment and surrounding the 71st Heimatschütz Regiment in Lübeck. The Danish Jutland Dragoons however, along with German and British reconnaissance elements have fought a succession of sharp rearguard actions against the advancing Warsaw Pact forces, allowing survivors of the mechanised 51st and 61st Heimatschütz Brigades to disengage and fall back to the main line of resistance on the Kiel Canal. Scattered German Home Guard units meanwhile, are mounting ambushes everywhere, making the enemy pay for every inch of German soil.
The Heimatschützen’s sacrifice has allowed time for NATO’s LANDJUT Command to crystallise a main line of resistance along the Kiel Canal. The German 6th Panzergrenadier Division is on the right, with its flank resting on the Elbe and covering the main approaches to Hamburg. The Danish Jutland Division is on the left, holding a wide swathe of land across Schleswig-Holstein, with its left flank resting on the Baltic and the British 1st Infantry Brigade is in reserve. The line is spread very thin, though gaps are being covered by the ubiquitous local Heimatschütz platoons and the line should soon be strengthened by the arrival of the US 9th Motorized Infantry Division, which is presently unloading at Hamburg. However, the 1st Jutland Mechanised Brigade is still forward of the canal, forming a bridgehead to allow German units and the Jutland Dragoons to withdraw across the canal.
On the right flank of the 1st Jutland Mechanised Brigade is the 1st Battalion of the Funen Life Regiment; a mechanised infantry battalion equipped with M113 APCs and Centurion tanks. They are dug in around the village of Gnissau, which is situated on a low ridge, overlooking a wide valley and flanked by low, wooded hills – it looks like the ideal place to blunt the Warsaw Pact’s spearhead:
Order of Battle for 1st Battalion, Funen Life Regiment
HQ & Support Company
1x M113 Command APC
2x Land Rover with TOW ATGM
2x M150 TOW ATGM Carrier
2x Recce Infantry (LAW)
2x Recce Land Rover (LMG)
2x MO-120-RT Towed 120mm Mortar (off-table Organic Fire Support)
1x Command Centurion Mk 5/2 105mm Main Battle Tank
3x Centurion Mk 5/2 105mm Main Battle Tank
9x Infantry Squad (2 with Carl Gustav 84mm MAW and the rest with M72 66mm LAW)
1x MG3 General Purpose Machine Gun
4x M113 APC
1x M125 81mm Mortar Carrier (Organic Fire Support)
Same as ‘B’ Company
‘D’ Company (Understrength)
7x Infantry (3 with Carl Gustav 84mm MAW and the rest with M72 66mm LAW)
1x MG3 General Purpose Machine Gun
1x M29 81mm Mortar (Organic Fire Support)
4x Unimog 4×4 Truck
‘A’ Battery, 6th Battalion, North Jutland Artillery Regiment (off-table Direct Fire Support)
2x Forward Observer (on table attachment)
2x M113 APC
3x M109 Self-Propelled 155mm Howitzer
1x Hamlet MANPADS Team (Redeye) (on-table attachment)
1x Land Rover
The rest of the artillery battalion (two more batteries) is available as General Fire Support.
Attached From The Royal Danish Air Force
1x Forward Air Controller
1x Land Rover
On a successful roll for Close Air Support, roll again to see what arrives: 1-2 = German Alpha-Jet, 3 = British Jaguar GR1, 4-7 = Danish Draken, 8-9 = Danish F-16, 10 = US A-10 Thunderbolt. All are armed with mixed bombs and rockets.
In terms of Troop Quality, all Danish elements are classed as ‘Experienced’, except for the reservists of ‘D’ Company, who are ‘Trained’.
Rapidly approaching from the south are the leading elements of the East German 28th Motorisierte-Schützen Regiment Wilhelm Florin, which is the spearhead unit for the 8th Motorisierte-Schützen Division Kurt Bürger. The regimental reconnaissance force has identified NATO defensive positions around the village of Gnissau and the regiment’s 3rd Battalion has been ordered forward to mount a hasty attack.
Order of Battle for 3rd Battalion, 28th Motorisierte-Schützen Regiment Wilhelm Florin
HQ & Support Company
1x BTR-60 PU Command Vehicle
3x 9K111 Fagot-M (AT-4 ‘Spigot C’) ATGM Team
1x BTR-152 APC
3x AGS-17 Plamya 30mm Automatic Grenade Launcher Team
1x BTR-152 APC
4x M43 120mm Mortar (Organic Fire Support)
4x GAZ-66 Medium Truck
1x 9K32 Strela 2 (SA-7 ‘Grail’) SAM Team
1x 9K115 Metis (AT-7 ‘Saxhorn’) ATGM Team
9x Motor Rifle Infantry (3 with RPG-7 & the rest with RPG-18)
4x BTR-60 PB APC
Same as 7th Company
Same as 7th Company
Understrength Regimental Tank Battalion
1x Command T-55A Medium Tank
9x T-55A Medium Tank
Attached Elements, Regimental Anti-Aircraft Company
1x 9K31 Strela 1 (SA-9 ‘Gaskin’) SAM Vehicle
1x ZSU-23-4 Shilka Quad 23mm Anti-Aircraft Vehicle
Attached Elements, Regimental Anti-Tank Company
1x 9P148 Konkurs (BRDM-2 with AT-5 ‘Spandrel’) ATGM Vehicle
Attached Elements, Regimental Pioneer Company
3x Pioneers (1 with RPG-7 & 1 with Flamethrower)
1x BTR-152 APC
1x MTU-54 Bridgelayer
1x IMR Engineer Vehicle
Attached Elements, Regimental Artillery Battalion
1x Forward Observer
1x 1V18 Artillery Command & Observation Vehicle
3x 2S1 Gvozdika Self-Propelled 122mm Howitzers in Direct Support
The whole battalion (two more companies) is available for three rounds of preparatory barrage.
Attached Elements, Frontal Aviation
1x Forward Air Controller
1x BTR-60 R975 Forward Air Control Vehicle
On a successful roll for Close Air Support, roll again to see what arrives: 1-2 = MiG-17 ‘Fresco’, 3-4 = MiG-21 ‘Fishbed’, 5-7 = Su-17 ‘Fitter’, 8-9 = MiG-27 ‘Flogger D’ & 10 = Su-25 ‘Frogfoot. All are armed with mixed bombs and rockets.
In terms of Troop Quality, all East German elements are classed as ‘Experienced’.
Above: Lieutenant Colonel Simmondsson deploys the defenders as ‘hidden unit markers’, which include a proportion of dummy markers, as per the original Battlefront: WWII rules. Each ‘Manoeuvre Element’ (i.e. Company) gets issued a number of dummy markers based on the Troop Quality of the unit – better units get more dummies, as they are assumed to be better at camouflage and creating dummy positions. It’s a simple system that negates the need for a map and umpire. Obsersteutnant Marx then deploys his troops and plans his preparatory barrage.
Above: Going by the deployment of NATO positions, the western side of the battlefield appears to be more weakly defended, so Marx deploys the bulk of his force there, aiming to swing around the wooded ridge and assault Gnissau from the west. The tank battalion leads, with the Motor Rifles following close behind, mounted in their thin-skinned BTR-60 PB carriers. The supporting artillery proceeds to hammer the wooded ridge (they have three turns of pre-planned fire with the whole battalion – one battery is then available in Direct support thereafter, along with the Motor Rifle Battalion’s own 120mm mortars).
Above: On the right flank of the attack, the Motor Rifle Grenade Launcher Platoon takes up position within Strenglin, ready to provide fire support to the attack or discourage a counter-attack from the east. On their right, AT-4 Spigot ATGM teams set up their weapons in a small wood, strengthened by a detachment of vehicle-mounted AT-5 Spandrel ATGMs and a Forward Air Controller. Hopefully this will be enough to blunt any NATO counter-attack from the east. To the rear, the air defence detachment watches the skies.
Above: The East German 2S1 122mm artillery battalion does good work on the ridge and disorders or suppresses almost the entire Danish ‘B’ Company (mech infantry). Further out to the west, the German T-55s are most surprised (and relieved) to discover that the bulk of NATO positions there are actually dummy positions! Nevertheless, in front of the ridge a T-55 is destroyed by Carl Gustav 84mm recoilless rifles, while another T-55 is driven back. NATO artillery also now starts to fall among the East German APCs…
Above: Despite being suppressed by artillery himself, the Danish Forward Observer times his defensive fire mission perfectly, dropping 155mm rounds in the midst of a Motor Rifle Company just as they were dismounting from their APCs in preparation for an assault on the ridge. An APC and a rifle squad are eliminated and most of the rest are disordered. The T-55s will now have to fight through the wood without infantry support!
Above: With the East Germans threatening to turn the Danish right flank, the CO calls up an air-strike and a flight of RDAF F-16s screeches over the battlefield…
Above: However, the East German air defences are awake and alert and quickly turn the F-16 into a fireball!
Above: Suddenly, disaster strikes the Danes! With Warpac artillery landing in and around their foxholes, T-55s rampaging through the position and the Company Commander being pinned down, panic suddenly rips through the Danish ‘B’ Company and the majority of them flee from the ridge, accompanied by their attached Forward Observer.
Above: Only a single infantry section remains on the ridge, resolutely holding its position against the invaders.
Above: A hedge at the foot of the rear slope unfortunately impedes the Danish retreat.
Above: The East German assault now seems unstoppable.
Above: At Strenglin however, the East Germans suffer a bloody nose as Land Rover-mounted Danish TOWs knock out a German ATGM vehicle and the Forward Air Controller’s vehicle. Thankfully the FAC survives and starts calling for some airborne vengeance…
Above: From their position the East German ATGM teams are able to spot the Land Rovers, but don’t want to give away their position by firing.
Above: But not to worry, as a Soviet Frontal Aviation Su-17 ‘Fitter’ soon arrives and easily avoids the paltry AA fire that the Danes are able to throw up.
Above: Somewhat unwisely, the Danes have packed a small wooded hill with assets – as well as the two TOW Land Rovers, there are also two recce Land Rovers and a Forward Observer with his M113! They all fit neatly under the Su-17’s bomb template…
Above: The air strike results in the destruction of the Recce Platoon, who had the misfortune of being parked next to the TOW Land Rovers. Unable to resist temptation, the East German ATGMs also fire at the Forward Observer’s M113, which was spotted when it fired its HMG at the Su-17. The M113 is destroyed, but the Forward Observer survives and the ATGMs soon become targets for 120mm mortars.
Above: The Danish right flank is now completely overrun. The Danish ‘B’ Company managed to rally at the hedge-line and has occupied a small built-up area next to the road, but they can’t hope to hold out for long against this onslaught.
Above: ‘B’ Company does what it can to rally, but some elements are still stuck on the wrong side of the hedge! However, the first T-55 to emerge from the wooded ridge suddenly explodes as a TOW missile finds its mark – but from where?!
Above: Back on the high ground at Gnissau, the Danish CO personally directs the fire of two dug-in M150 TOW Carriers and begins to organise a counter-attack.
Above: Ignoring the threat of ATGM fire from Strenglin, the Centurions of ‘A’ Company burst out of their camouflaged positions in front of Gnissau and wheel to the right, aiming to strike at the right flank of the East German tank battalion.
Above: In the distance, the Danish ‘C’ Company, mounted in its M113s, follows the Centurions in a counter-attack against the East German right flank. In the foreground, the reservist ‘D’ Company gets out of its foxholes and moves forward in support.
Above: Having successfully run the gauntlet of fire from AT-4s ATGMs and AGS-17 grenade-launchers, the Centurions successfully reach the eastern end of the wooded ridge. In the foreground, the Squadron Commander with one of his Troops engages the T-55s on the northern slope to take the pressure off ‘B’ Company’, while his other two Troops head around to engage the BTRs south of the ridge.
Above: Unaware of the approaching Danish tanks, the East German Pioneer detachment moves forward in support of the attack.
Above: The view from the wooded ridge. The dismounted East German Motor Rifle Company is still struggling to move forward following its hammering by NATO artillery and the tanks on the ridge are still unsupported… The Danish counter-attack might just work!
Above: The commander of 7th Company frantically attempts to get his men to redeploy to face the approaching enemy tanks, but his lads are shaken and move sluggishly in response to the threat. The panzer crews are made of sterner stuff, however and a single T-55 platoon moves to meet the Centurions.
Above: The Tank Battalion and the 8th and 9th Motor Rifle Companies charge on, aiming to overrun ‘B’ Company and Gnissau, regardless of the puny tank threat.
Above: However, Captain Bigglesson’s F-16 appears just as the East German air defence unit is re-locating to a safer location. The 7th Company’s deployed SA-7 ‘Grail’ SAM team fails to dissuade the Danish aviator and he successfully destroys a BTR-60 belonging to 9th Company.
Above: Meanwhile, Lieutenant Maverikski’s Su-17 returns to club baby seals and ignores the Centurions to finish off the Danish Land Rovers before returning to the People’s Mess for a samovar and Order of Lenin.
Sadly that was where we had to leave it. As it was a club-night, we only had 3 hours or so to do the game, so it was probably ‘a little’ ambitious! 🙂 Nevertheless, it was a very entertaining game and game concepts were play-tested, which was the primary objective.
Rules and Models
The rules are Battlefront: First Echelon, which is my Cold War adaptation of Battlefront: WWII by Fire & Fury Games. In these rules, each vehicle or heavy weapon represents 2-3 real ones and an infantry stand represents a squad/section.
The Danish models are mostly by QRF, with modelling and conversion by the talented Martin Small and painting by me (the infantry are QRF Israelis, painted by Martin). The F-16 is a 1/100th scale die-cast toy by an unknown manufacturer, repainted by me.
The East Germans/Soviets are from a mix of manufacturers, painted by me: The infantry are East Germans by Team Yankee. Most of the vehicles are by Skytrex, with the Shilka and engineering vehicles by QRF. The Su-17 is by QRF, with conversion (wings swept forward) by Martin Small.