Last night three of us deployed some models for what was to be excellent 1982 encounter set in Europe. The scenario was developed, as is the case for almost all our Modern Spearhead games, using the Scenario Generation System.
The Soviet offensive had entered its third day and the progress made in many sectors was starting to take its toll on advanced units. Frontline forces were suffering heavy casualties, fuel and ammunition supplies were strained while artillery and air support assets were dropping below operational levels. Most concerning gaps were appearing in the SAM umbrella. While much had been achieved and many towns liberated the resolve of enemy forces was becoming more determined. Near Neuwallwitz British forces, in brigade strength, were preparing to unleash one of a number of hasty attacks to recover ground and to apply pressure to WARPAC forces.
Soviet forces in the vicinity of Neuwallwitz comprised three Motor Rifle Battalions deployed in a blocking position over a wide area. Each of the three BTR battalions was allocated a company of T-64 tanks and deployed in battalion sized defensive positions. These battalion positions were generally centred on a village with the component a companies deployed to cover likely attack routes while retaining tanks in overwatch and very limited assets in reserve. The regiment was reinforced by an additional T-64 tank battalion and artillery in the form of the regiments 122mm artillery and very limited divisional artillery. Most other assets were allocated to divisional offensive operations.
Above, the Soviets deployed with British forces advancing in the top left from the left long table edge. The Soviet left flank is in the foreground.
British forces comprised two mechanised battalions (FV432) and an armoured battalion of Chieftains. Companies from one mechanised battalion and the armoured battalion were reorganised to create an armour heavy battalion and an infantry heavy battalion which would form the main attack force. The remaining mechanised battalion would form a reserve and follow on force while providing flank protection. Significant assets were allocated in support including corps counter-battery artillery as well as fixed and rotary air support.
The main thrust would fall on the Soviet right where both British battalion sized groups advanced. The first objective was a series of hills providing ideal firing positions for the planned assaults on the first village, Langenhals, which formed part of the Soviet defensive positions on the Soviet right. No sooner had the British forces crossed their start lines than British electronic warfare moved to a higher level. The shaping of the battlefield was clearly underway with the progressive detection of Soviet SAM systems.
On the more traditional battlefield, as the British mechanised infantry advanced, they came under effective artillery fires by Soviet D-20 152mm towed guns. The resulting fires caused heavy casualties. Below, a British mechanised platoon is suppressed by Soviet artillery fires.
However, the British response was swift and soon the Soviet D-20 artillery battalion was silenced by long range 175mm counter-battery fires. Soviet artillery in support of the was now limited to artillery assets of the Motor Rifle Regiment itself, primarily a 2S1 122mm battalion and a scattering of mortars.
As British forces continued their advance the next phase began. With Soviet on-table SAM either neutralised or ineffective due to poor disposition, a flight of Lynx helicopters deployed forward and immediately engaged a Soviet tank company deployed on a small hill. The position provided excellent support for the advanced company deployed in a Langenhals. While these T-64s, as well as a another company, managed to destroy several Chieftains the position was soon untenable. Suffering heavy casualties from the Lynx’s TOW the hill was abandoned.
Above, Lynx helicopters engage Soviet forces on a small hill before relocating to another sector, below, to continue their tank hunting closer to the village of Langenhals, on the left.
The Soviet Brigade commander, aware of the deteriorating situation now ordered two order changes. First, he ordered his reserve tank battalion forward to reinforce his exposed right flank. A robust debate took place among the Soviet commanders with the Tank Battalion commander taking a more aggressive approach. The T-64s lurched forward and advanced with speed to stabilise the right flank. Below, the reserve battalion moves forward at speed. The village visible is Elstervorstadt, which forms a second defensive position on the Soviet right.
Unfortunately their advance was too aggressive and the exchange of fire between the Chieftains on the British extreme left, while not one sided, was clearly in favour of the British.
A second order change was issued to the 1st Motor Rifle Battalion, positioned on the extreme left of the Soviet Brigade position. This battalion begin a flanking manoeuvre which would result, in time, for an attack on the British flank. The battalion, minus one company left to hold the original left flank would take considerable time to make such a relocation.
Below, the general situation on the Soviet right. The Lynx has relocated and is engaging Soviet armour in the centre, equally successfully! The village of Langenhals is on the left, while the village of Elstervorstadt is on the right.
Meanwhile British infantry platoons prepared to close assault the village of Langenhals.
As they formed up effective Soviet artillery fire caused significant casualties. Those British platoons that did assault were now at a disadvantage as the Soviet and British infantry engaged in desperate combat in the side streets of Langenhals. Unfortunately for the British, their attacks failed and the remains of the British mechanised company fell back heavily disorganised and combat ineffective.
As night fell the commanders took stock. One Soviet tank battalion had suffered a morale test, though it remained operational. One British battalion and another Soviet battalion had suffered heavy casualties and any more, for either, would have resulted in a morale check. Soviet artillery and air defence was severely compromised. In contrast while British heavy artillery strikes were almost exhausted Abbots and fixed wing assets in the form of Harriers remained uncommitted. Further, a third British infantry battalion remained in reserve. Yet the fact remained that despite an extremely a well planned and executed British attack, all objectives had been held by Soviet forces, just…