Igor Korabelnikov, commander of the 242nd Guards Motorized Rifle Regiment, sat on the side of his BTR-60 command vehicle surveying the scene before him. The 1st battalion of the regiment was now moving passed his headquarters. In all the regiment contained over 100 BTR-60PB combat vehicles, which of course were divided amongst the three motor rifle battalions. The regiment also contained a tank battalion of T-64B tanks. As was the doctrine these were allocated by company to each of his three motor rifle battalions. Some 100m away there was a roar, Igor glanced slightly to the side as several T-64s accelerated and in the process produced a puff of engine smoke as their drivers pushed the 40 ton monsters forward. For a moment Igor pondered how many of these machines would be burning on the battlefield by nightfall.
The position to the division’s front, his regiment’s area of operations, was believed to be held by a single enemy battalion in a generally central position, though it was expected to be reinforced. His orders were clear, the regiment was to advance and seize two areas of high ground and a town, all ideal blocking positions should the enemy counterattack. It seemed a difficult task, knowing how determined British resolve had been in the area recently. However, he hoped the support assets allocated by division would assist. Yet the afternoon was disappearing quickly. Time was critical, especially if reconnaissance reports were to be believed.
The 1st Battalion (1/242nd) was to advance in the centre to seize a wooded ridge some 1000 metres in length where it would deploy in a blocking positions opposite reported enemy positions. The 3/242nd was to advance on the right, it’s final position was more open but if the reconnaissance was to be believed the enemy was not yet in the area. Therefore the battalion should be able to seize several defensive positions before the slow moving enemy could reach the area. Finally, 2/242nd would conduct a flanking movement on the left, thus avoiding a large wood. They would then advance gaining a low ridge running from the southwest to the northeast, known as Speilhofen ridge. Again enemy forces were likely to be delayed and then further slowed by a stream, but here speed was critical.
As noted earlier Korabelnikov had been allocated several fixed wing and rotary support assets and it was with the 2/242nd he placed the air ground controller. To enable the interdiction of the MiGs he was assured that artillery fires on enemy air defence radar would be prioritised.
It wasn’t however until 6pm that the various elements of the regiment crossed their start lines and pressed forward. In all cases the battalion commanders were soon reporting delays. To the north 3/242nd was reporting that a stream was slowing the advance, while in the centre the BTRs were slowed by the undulating ground.
Above, a portion of 1/242nd advances in the centre while below in the north 3/242nd is delayed by a stream.
Even in the south the advance of 2/242nd was behind schedule with cornfields and rutted farmland slowing the BTRs.
Below, the general situation clearly showing the advance of 2/242nd, visible in the foreground. Speilhofen ridge can be seen ahead of the battalion, while the town of Speilhofen is on the right. In the distant right centre elements of 1/242nd can be seen advancing on their objective, a wooded ridge.
Despite the delays the centre the advance by 1/242 Battalion would successfully achieved its objective, and without enemy interference. Though the battalion commander reported enemy artillery fires on open ground to their south of the ridge. This was latter found to be an artillery delivered minefield dropped in an area that the British believed would be a Soviet route of advance.
Above, the battalion advancing from the right. An area of minefields is visible near the slopes of the wooded ridge. A British battalion is deployed on the left.
1/242 Battalion would eventually secure its objective and successfully deploy along the wooded ridge line. From here enemy infantry in a wood 400 yards were observed and FV432s in the open some 1700m distance, as is illustrated below. The latter was successfully engaged by self-propelled 2S3 artillery fires. Reports later identified the target as the British Brigade Headquarters!
Around the same time enemy air defence radar was detected operating near the battlefield. Soon after divisional 152mm artillery fires were authorised, silencing the enemy radar. It was later confirmed the radar was part of a forward deployed Rapier SAM system.
From reports compiled after the action both combatants were active in attempting to shape the battlefield using electronic warfare. Clearly the Soviets were focussed on locating air defence radar. After this threat was neutralised Soviet efforts focussed on disrupting radio communications. British efforts meanwhile more focussed on jamming Soviet air defence radar.
In the north the advance by 3/242nd was however poorly executed. The ground here was more open and the battalion commander failed to consider this when making his dispositions. His headquarters and the allocated Regimental ATGW Company, secured one area of high ground. Other assets deployed in nearby woods. However, his third company and supporting tanks were pushed too far forward.
While securing this dominating spot height the company was engaged by a Chieftain company causing heavy casualties and the loss of the high ground. Some enemy mechanised infantry were detected supporting their armour. This was engaged by the regiments D-30 artillery, but in the process the D-30 battalion was itself silenced by British counter battery fires.
Above, 3/242nd advances, while below the now over extended battalion is engaged by enemy.
Meanwhile, in the south, the regiment’s main effort was being made, the seizing of Speilhofen ridge, which was also the focus of a British mechanised battalion. Below, the British battalion advances on Speilhofen ridge from the northeast.
Normally two Soviet battalions would have been allocated to the task of securing such an important feature, but only one was of course available. Acknowledging this division allocated additional resources. The attached air ground controller was authorised to request fixed wing air support and, should the situation require, rotary wing attack helicopters in the form of Hind Mi-24s. As will be recalled the battalion, the 2/242nd conducted a flanking movement and arrived in the area of operations as planned. The battalion moved in a generally northwesterly direction approach the ridge line from the southeast. Some minor elements were detached to secure the town of Speilhofen which sat due east of the ridge and provided views of a portion of the area north and west of the ridge.
It was this detachment that was first to identify enemy elements advancing on Speilhofen ridge from the opposite side. Alerted to the threat the Soviet battalion halted its advanced and deployed for action.
Advanced elements of the British battalion, having failed to detect the Soviets, advanced on to the ridge. One squadron of Chieftains, some 12 in number, crested the ridge supported by just a platoon of infantry in FV432 armoured personal carriers. Before them an entire Soviet battalion awaited.
The Soviet artillery observer was prompt and the full force of a 152mm artillery battalion fell on the enemy infantry with predictable results. Then several MiG-23s began their attack runs on the ridge line. The MIGs were armed with cluster bombs and with no enemy air defences present, the enemy Blowpipe teams to far back, the air attack seemed certain of success. Below, the MIGs begin their attack run against British tanks on Speilhofen ridge. The model represents three actual aircraft.
However as the jets climbed the Chieftains remained operational, a result of all attack rolls being a one!
Now it was the turn of the Soviet infantry and armour. The Chieftains were engulfed in ATGW and tank fire. Several vehicles were destroyed but certainly not all, actually just one model!
For the next 20 minutes the ground forces engaged in a deadly exchange until around 10pm with light fading enemy aircraft were detected. The first attack was by Harriers armed with anti-radiation missiles. Fortunately the aircraft allocated to this task were forced to break off, yet the battalions problems were far from over. Attacking low and at speed a further group of Harriers, this time armed with unguided rockets. The pilots came in with great skill but the air was too thick with missiles. As a result the enemy rockets failed to find targets.
Meanwhile the ground battle continued. The Chieftains now in hull down positions continued to ply their deadly business and with darkness intervening a company of T-64Bs were burning.
While firing spasmodically continued both commanders at this point determined to break-off the action. The British were reluctant to press their advantage on the Soviet right. While on the bloody Soviet left the burning T-64s provided a reminder of the deadly efficiency of British gunnery. Yet the British commander, or at least the deputy brigade commander as the Brigade HQ had been previously destroyed, determined to retire while a new air defence umbrella was established.
This ended our engagement which was a clear draw. The scenario was generated using the Scenario Generation System, with both players conducting an encounter scenario using their Defend Lists. The complete failure of the Soviet air strike, as well as that of the British Harriers, was clearly frustrating to both players, though for different reasons. The use of artillery to deliver mines was intriguing, though in this case unsuccessful. Yet, luck aside it was clear that both commanders needed to look carefully at refining their basic tactics. Both had failed in several areas. Fortunately the only casualties were those of miniature models.
The miniatures illustrated are all 6mm models from Heroics & Ros range. The Soviets from my collection the British from Robin’s.