Friday, 31 March 2017

Kursk - Part Eight: Keep on keepin' on

 Ivan wrecks another Tiger...not that the Germans started with many, even in the actual battle. I have read statistical analysis that explains that there were never more than 100 Tigers up and running at any one time across the whole Russian Front. Production and repair facilities couldn't keep up with losses...
 From 1943 onwards you were 4 times as likely to see a Panther or late mark Pz IVH and a StuG more often than a tank at all. In fact most anti-tank work on both Eastern and Western Fronts was carried out on the Axis side by 88's or various Marder and ad hoc conversions
 A Pe 2 comes in to strafe and bomb. The culprit is spotted by the overwatching Flakvierling...
 ...and immediately brought down
 The artillery continues to relocate. They have to move in batteries and have ten feet to go...
 ...GHQ has decided to risk getting closer to the action (they have a 16 ft journey)
 This period is critical for the Germans as the Luftwaffe is having a fuel shortage crisis and they were supposed to take up more of the slack while the artillery moves
 ...still, the Panzerwaffe is confident of victory. They haven't been beaten in the summer.
 Another blockhouse anti-tank hedgehog takes a battering
 In the absence of friends (the expected 79 Infantry Division and support) 18 Pz is at the first objective earlier than expected with much lighter casualties and decides to recce the other side of the Orel/Kursk railway line, across the Divisional boundary, so that 9 Pz can carry on towards the next objective (Ponyri) without delay
 18 Panzer will follow the railway and cover the left flank of 9 Panzer...
 9 Panzer is expecting friends on its right to arrive at the objective at the same time
 Leaving the casualties cooking off behind them they eagerly advance, sensing victory already
 The Germans may well change history. They are well forward through the first defensive belt, as per the battle. They are not too badly knocked about, as per the battle...
 The Russians have a lot more artillery moving into the defence of the Ponyri sector, also as per the battle...
 Several other historical features are the same....They have support and reinforcement left flank, right flank and to the rear...
 ...and Russian infiltration.
 Two Russian SMG companies appear behind 18 Panzer among their Panzergrenadiers and take out some transport...
...immediately the Germans go into their anti-ambush drills. On ambush, if your enemy is within charge range - you must assault with all fire power at your disposal and close with the bayonet. Ambushes, by their nature are triggered to the advantage of the enemy and only resolute action will give you any chance of survival...

Home never seemed so far away

My thanks as always to Colin, Ross, Alan and Tom... well done Tom, you made it to retirement the object of the exercise!

Next time: 'You're late!...but we'll forgive you'

Monday, 27 March 2017

Kursk - Part Seven: The march into the flames

FIRE! (in Russian)
The Russian god of war shouts
The artillery blazes along the edge of the battlefield
 122 and 152mm guns and howitzers...
 throw shell after shell down on the German attackers
 The deluge finds a myriad of victims
 The Germans have been expecting a riposte but this is extreme
 ...and very effective
 Up goes a Tiger
 ...but the phalanx keeps advancing
 Meanwhile, on the other side of the railway line anti-tank guns take shots...
 ... at the elements of 18 Pz as they use the hard ground of the embankment to infiltrate the Russian defences.
 Scanning for targets/threats...
 ...reaction to effective enemy fire...
 ...I see you...
 An apparent hornet's nest of A/T opens up
 ...and is dealt with quickly
 Back at the schwerpunkt the panzers roll on...
 ...determined to get out from under the fall of shot

 More anti-tank...
...still more artillery

Next: 'Help me obi (79th Infantry Division) kenobi you're my (second to last) hope'...and an advert for eardrum replacement.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Kursk: Part Six - A Bird in the hand... worth two ZIS 3's in the bush. We did a tidy up move last night. Ross brought down his new and improved burn markers...I'll have to get him to do a 'How to' set of pics.
Meanwhile the StuG's are burning nicely thanks.
 ...and from another angle
 The Light Flak Battalions feel confident to leapfrog forward...
 ...and some of the artillery are moving through the clear ways of the minfields
Gently does it!
 The 150's prepare to follow
 The horse drawn stuff is just as quick cross country as the motorised in Rapid Fire!
 Working off recce photos, FGA is sent out to hit known targets in preparation for the next push
 ...but the place covered
 ...with a phalanx
 ...of Russian Flak
 It quickly sees of the Hs 129 with a withering deluge of anti-aircraft fire
 For now, the dug in T34's are safe from above
 Along the embankment, and from concealed positions, the ZIS 3 76.2 anti-tank guns pour fire onto the reorganising German armour
'I think there's something wrong with our sights today comrade'
 ...but they get little joy
 ...the riposte is swift and devastating
 Guns bark...
 ...and are silenced the lead Tigers. Wittmann, the humourless automaton Tiger ace killed by the British in Normandy, said he was more pleased by knocking out A/T guns than tanks as they were the harder to spot and hit
 The dismounted OP team get onto the tracks of the Orel-Kursk railway line
'Hey Hans, why are we doing recce's job for them'
 ...and accidentally spring the anti-tank rifle ambush prematurely
 The Pz III N's get some shots in to deal with the problem
 Initially, at least, the Pz II N was allocated to the Tiger battalions for just such circumstances a this but were withdrawn once the battalions were fully up to strength
 Damaged vehicles come into HQ at this point for repair
 86 Infantry Division has received orders to consolidate the trench system along with the cover afforded by their attached StuG battalion
 They explore the labyrinth while awaiting the artillery and heavy Flak Battalion to come forward and beef up the defence
 18 Pz Div is still pretty intact and begins to realign to the railway
 ...once it is safely across the trench system on their flank
 Tigers get to hull down positions while 9 Pz carries out a tricky manoeuvre transferring lorried infantry to half-tracks while under observation

...and the Russians just wait, keeping their powder dry and soaking up the Germans fury.

Next: Panzer marsch!