Our group here in Ohio U.S. of A. had a little IABSM battle this weekend. Here follows the AAR...
Hauptmann Biederman and Lt. Ritchie commanded a nice safe supply depot way behind the lines, next to a former Soviet airfield, now home to a Stuka unit and a small flak detachment. Not a bad spot to be in late Winter on the East front 1943. The two small infantry platoons of rear echelon goldbricks and the handful of flak troops got word from a pilot coming back from an early morning sortie: ACHTUNG! Russian tanks and cavalry coming our way!
One Stuka was already warmed up and ready to take off with a full load of bombs, but the pilot needed to saddle up fast. Just as the crew was strapping in, a couple squads of Russian dismounted cavalry burst out of the woods a couple hundred yards away. The dug in 88 flak on the edge of the runway roughed them up and sent them back to cover, and the Stuka rolled out and off into the sky to get some altitude and come back to defend the field. As he lifted off, he could see a couple platoons of what looked to be T-34s and some scout cars, and a full company of infantry riding or running along as well. Uh oh.
The Russians were boldly led by Captain Turrill and Captain Judge. They knew they had taken the enemy by surprise and they had nice hard ground to roll over—and they made the most of their speed and mobility. Their objectives were to deny the Germans the airfield and take and burn the supply depot in the otherwise already burnt out town. They used one platoon of infantry on their left, pushing down the edge of the airfield, intent on putting the airfield out of action and taking the emplaced 88 flak gun. Both platoons of tanks drove down the center, one hooking toward the 88 and one into town. Meanwhile the main force of infantry drove straight at the town, with a focus on the depot on their extreme right. They were supported by two Lend Lease M-3 scout cars loaded with infantry.
The Germans put up a defense on the edge of town and beat up a couple Russian squads but lost their heavy MG team and an exposed 50mm AT gun before the Russians even hit the main concentration of German infantry. The quick Soviet advance and the German choice to defend the town at the edge denied the Germans the possible advantage of mutually supporting positions, and they were destroyed in detail. The Germans still held out hope that their angels would fly over and save them. The Stuka did come back, began its dive on a nice tight concentration of tanks and infantry—it was a no miss situation, but somehow (over hasty preflight check perhaps?) he clipped a tree and crashed in a flaming ball of wreckage before dropping his eggs.
The 88 put up a good fight and knocked out the command tank of each tank platoon, but succumbed to T-34 treads when their position was literally overrun. One of the platoon commanders survived the destruction of his tank and managed to run to and join another functioning tank and carry the armored attack into town through a bunch of desperate Germans who came out of cover to close assault the tanks. They were exterminated. The tanks continued unharmed and took up positions around the back side of the now surrounded depot. The vigorous efforts of the Luftwaffe’s truck mounted 37mm AA gun crew were amazing, but also ineffectual. They fought at the airfield and then in town, pecking at the Scout cars, tanks and infantry and moving on before anyone could shoot them up. We like to think they escaped down the road—unlike the rest of the rest of the garrison who died in the depot by close assault.