Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Panzer Campaigns Tunisia '43 - German Attack on Sidi Bou Zid - Battle Plans

The game: Panzer Campaigns Tunisia '43 (John Tiller Software)
The scenario: Like Wolves in the Fold
Situation: Sidi bou Zid, E of Kasserine Pass, Feb 14th 1943: German Pioneers were busy clearing lanes through the Allied mines in the Faid Pass. Behind them were the 10.Pz Div and, to the south, near the Maizila Pass, elements of 21.Pz Div. As dawn rose on the Eastern Dorsals, the Americans seemed completely unaware that the Germans were about to pounce out of the pass on them, "like wolves on the fold."

When I got this game (quite a while ago), I thought of vast expanses of open desert and wide flanking battle maneuvers almost like in naval warfare. It turns out the Tunisian desert is too frequently interrupted by rough hills and mountains that force the attacker into wide flanking maneuvers to avoid fortified enemy positions at narrow passes. Well, at least I got the flanking part right.

While playing Panzer Campaigns Tunisia '43 I am following George Howe's "Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West". For the attack on Sidi Bou Zid, the 21st and 10th Panzer Divisions are in for some driving fun before engaging the US forces defending the location.

Click the images below for a zoomed out view.

The north pincer of the attack  is by the 10th PzDiv. The scenario has the division already split in two kampfgruppen (not explicitly done in an order of battle but just separating KG Reimann as fixed units during the first turn). In this screenshot, the scenario is already 8 hours old. KG Gerhardt has already turned around the Lessouda heights (single arrow on the north and is in the process of regrouping for the main attack onto Sidi bou Zid (dotted main attack arrow). KG Reimann is to attack along Highway 13 and then join forces with KG Gerhardt for the attack onto the main objective. 
The 21st PzDiv (south pincer) has it a bit more complicated. KG Stenkhoff is to drive west and then turn northeast to attack Sidi bou Zid while KG Schuette holds US troops at the Ksaira pass. The drive of KG Stenkhoff is part through open terrain and for a total length of around 80 km. In this screenshot, the recon elements of KG Stenkhoff are 13 km west of Bir el Hafey, the turning point.
The screenshots show the situation at 1000. My troops have already endured an atrocious night of driving through the desert. The game includes a new rule for disruption of units moving during night time. It is being grueling to move my troops, mainly the ones of the 21st PzDiv.


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