Monday, September 16, 2013

The Troubled Shores of a Soviet "Island of Resistance" - Part 2 - Iron Front Liberation 44

Anti tank warfare in the Eastern Front was brutally demanding for both sides. At the so-called Soviet "islands of resistance", right after the identification of the enemy's axis of attack, combat engineers would carry 5 anti-tank mines onto the enemy's path and deploy them to slow the armored advance. In this scenario I'm playing as the commander of a group of 3 combat engineers assigned to an anti-tank strong point. The readers are urged to take the outcome of this scenario with a big grain of salt, as the outcome of the anti-tank gun vs. tank duel turned out to be questionable.

This is part two of a previous blog entry

The north flank of our AT strong point has just been probed by an enemy infantry patrol. There is a road in that direction and we decide to deploy our mines on it. We move out cautiously, leaving the strong point behind and our #2 engineer manning the heavy machine gun.
We plant the mines a bit  short of the the reverse slope's crest, in the hopes that they will complicate the enemy tanks enough to make them good targets for the AT guns behind us.

Our task is interrupted by machine gun and AT gun HE rounds coming from our strong point. There must be enemy infantry coming towards our position. The sound of enemy tracks and engines is still distant.
We quickly return to the strong point and relocate the HMG in a better forward defensive position.
Number 3 and me relocate to the confines of the village. Number 2 within the vehicle and with the machine gun is left at the front of the strong point, facing north. The enemy tanks have now arrived to the perimeter of the Soviet position (to the left of this screenshot). Explosions pound the air and shake the ground, but we can't figure out how the battle is going.
The battle intensifies. Rounds in and out the defensive position almost overlap each other. We decide that we should support the defensive position with AT rockets, so we climb towards the command post to grab a couple of launchers. The AT guns at the command post are both destroyed by now.

Even at the risk of being an easy target for the enemy tanks, we grab a jeep for our trip back to the strong point (the village in front of the jeep).
AT rockets at the ready, we move towards the sound of enemy tank engines. We don't find any enemy tanks moving and we can't locate the source of the engine sounds. No rounds can be heard from neither the German nor the Soviet side.

After a cautious wait, we move out from the strong point, using a wheat field as concealment. A handful of enemy tank hulls litter the left, west flank. We are as confused as intrigued as of where all the previous firing has come from.
We re-join number 2 and re-position the vehicle and HMG on the left/west flank. We again find evidence of heavy fighting, judging by the amount of destroyed enemy tanks.
Leaving the vehicle and number 2 with the MG, we try to move into a better ambush position at the left/west flank. It looks like  a few minutes before, enemy infantry have tried to infiltrate towards the village and were dispatched by our vehicle-borne machine gun. All of the sudden, the squeal of enemy tracks and the sound of guns announce a second attack wave.

The fight is intense, sharp and relatively short. Despite the numerous shells exploding near the Soviet AT guns, the weary crews stand tall.
Yet again,  when the firefight ends we move out from the strong point and finish off two immobilized enemy tanks.
Our guess of an enemy armored thrust through the road was wrong and the hasty and nimble mine field was useless. The enemy may have chosen our left/west flank for an attack after the infantry faced resistance from the AT guns at the north of the strong point.

I was also denied of an opportunity to engage the German armor with the AT rockets. The AT guns were just too successful at destroying or immobilizing anything in front of them.



Martin said...

It looks like first flashpoint. But it is adventage, beacuse I love flashpoint ;D

NW said...

So the outcome of the antitank gun duel was questionable because they were too effective? The Soviets are acknowledged as being good at camouflage and skilled with their antitank guns by the Germans who fought them, so what's the problem here?

JC said...

NW, aren't those King Tigers?

NW said...

Only well protected if they attack the guns head on. Soviets knew to position their guns for oblique and flanking fires, to target tracks and roadwheels when they faced something they hadn't seen before, etc. In addition, historical evidence suggests that the "armour buff" masturbatory fantasies regarding the Panzerwaffe's vehicles were devised in a vacuum and don't represent actual performance in the field. Again, I don't really see an issue, especially given how difficult it is to locate a camouflaged antitank gun from a moving tank. Perhaps if the ATGs were BS-3 "Sotka" it would fit perceptions of reality a bit better.