Monday, January 28, 2013

7th Panzer / 4th North African Smackdown: Disposable Heroes in 1940 France

 Hi Kids,  I'm reading Alistair Horne's "To Lose a Battle," the story of the 1940 French campaign and it dynamited me out of my rut and into the mood to do some gaming!  So what would be more natural than an encounter from northern France?  The situation is 14 May 1940, Rommel's 7th Panzer Division has crossed the Meuse River and is pushing outward from its bridgehead, running into the crack 4th North African Division, the best division in the French 9th Army.  It's one of the few encounters the Germans had where the French put up a determined fight.  Here we have some shots of the opposing sides:  The German infantry; I think these guys are 25mm Battle Honors, but its been so long I can't be sure.  They are backed up by some Westwind AA guns; 2 Quad 20mm and 2 37mm.

 The Hun armor; 2 Westwind Pz4, one Company B Sdkfz 231, and 3 Army Group North Pz 38T's.  Yeah, I painted the 38T's way on back when I thought that dark german grey was all the rage.
 And facing them, some Artizan FFL with some Brigade Games WW1 Sikhs to bulk up the numbers.  Providing heavy weapon support are the recently painted Crusader ATG's, HMG's, and mortars.
 The French 1:56 armor; 2 Company B P16 halftracks and 3 Army Group North R35 tanks.  I spent the extra points for the long 37mm gun, hopefully it'll be enough to deal with the panzers!
 The French set-up, I used a scenario out of  "Go Forward Together," the British book for Disposable Heroes.  There is a roadblock near the dice pile. The Germans must capture either the roadblock or two buildings in the village; the church and the far building. The forests on the left foreground are on top of a large hill which would provide cover for the Germans as they approach.
 The Huns deploy, massing the armor and infantry on the north end of the table.  The flak guns are set up covering the wide area on the south side of the tree-lined road.
 At the end of turn one the French are starting to take some hits, especially their 25mm AT Guns are a high priority target. The French armor move into position to resist.
 The Huns approach through the fields, stopping under the cover of a hedgerow.

The Huns move into the lee of the hill, while the armor trades shots with the French. The small beads are acquisition markers.
 The first of many, a P16 brews up!
 A Pz 38T runs out of luck, while the others provide cover for the infantry.  The 25mm ATG is more dangerous than it looks!  But then again, this is 1940.
 The Pz 4's creep out of cover to get better fields of fire.
 Holy Cow, the French are getting crushed by the fire superiority of the Hun hordes approaching!  The 25mm ATG, an HMG, and two LMG teams have all be killed, while an 8 man rifle element is reduced to 4 men!  The second P16 has approached the road block while the third R35 uses the wall for cover.  The French armor demonstrated the mysterous ability to roll minimum damage to all German targets; bouncing shots off tracks, license plates, and sideview mirrors with chilling regularity!  I think one 37mm shell ricocheted off an armor driver's gold tooth.
 The end is near, the second P16 brews up and the churchyard has been cleared of French!
 One squad of Germans crests the hill to see two 81mm mortars, a rifle squad and an R35 in cornfields. The R35 in the background cornfield has an awe-inspiring collection of acquisition markers, most of them unfriendly.
The French are looking mighty thin as the Pz4's close the distance.

 The R35 at the corner of the churchyard finally scores a deadly hit on the nearest Pz38T! The Pz4's shift for better angles while the remaining Pz38T discovers he can't provide cover for all the swarms of Hun infantry by himself. It's a crying shame there are so few French to shoot back!
  The R35 on the other side of the wall has been destroyed.  The sole remaining French tank desperately tries to slow down the Hun juggernaut!  The French infantry has been shifting towards this side of the battlefield for practically the entire game, but are not arriving fast enough to replace loses.
The final moments!  The Huns advance to claim the roadblock, winning the game.  Very few French are left to tell the tale, the largest French unit still alive is a 4 man mortar team!  About 15 French elements were killed.  Not much happened on the southern half of the table, the only German units to advance were held off by the French without too much trouble, although it did take the majority of the game to kill off all the Flak guns and HMG team.

So I'm thinking of running this one for the Catawba Gamers' Feb game.  I think the situation needs some changes to give the French a better chance.  I'm considering making the hill smaller, letting the French set-up further onto the table, letting some of them set-up hidden, and giving field phones to the officers and mortars so the mortars actually can hit something.  The entire game only one mortar hit its target, although it did kill about 4 guys when it did!  I might also alter the tree-lined road so it does not block line-of-sight, that way the other half of the French defenders might not have to spend most of the game running to the other side! Or maybe I can just paint up more French!  I still have about 20 Artizan Gourmers!  Although I should paint them anyway just to replace the Sikhs.

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