Category Archives: Cold War

Building a Soviet List

Having been asked for a couple of orders of battle from recent games I thought a good place to start was a current list I’ve been experimenting with. That is the Soviet list, with a couple of modifications, I used in the “Golubev’s Gamble” scenario.

I of course generally use the Scenario Generation System to generate my games, so the following is based around this system. In particular a scenario set in the 1980s involving an Attack or Encounter List has a 850 points budget. This basic 850 point list can be further supplemented by a selection of options.

In the past I have based a number of lists on a single Soviet Motor Rifle Regiment with a range of supports. However, I recently used a list based on two under strength regiments. Now, in these previous lists I alternate between formations built around BMP and BTR Regiments. I have a preference for BMP based Motor Rifle Regiments, as tracked vehicles are not slowed by hills and fields which feature often on our gaming table. However, historically a greater number of regiments in a Motor Rifle Division were equipped with BTRs. Therefore I frequently field BTR based regiments. After all the Scenario System works best if different formations are used. This time however I opted for a mix.

You can download a copy of the Soviet Order of Battle I used in “Golubev’s Gamble” scenario here.

As you can see there are four manoeuvre battalions. On the offensive a single battalion can be suffer casualties quickly therefore operating them as a regiment allows more firepower to be concentrated. However, with four battalions on the table points will always be at a premium. As a result each of the battalions is under strength. Of course if you are considering using this list feel free to change the composition of the battalions. Possible options I have considered are changing the tank types, reducing AA or adding in additional fighting or support stands.

One of the challenging aspects of Modern Spearhead is the allocation of resources in the planning phase even before the models are placed on the table.

With one of my regular opponents often fielding fixed wing and rotary air support this list is reasonably well equipped with AA systems both on and off-table. Reading some of the reports of previous games you will see one of my opponents frequently attempts to silence my off table SAM systems using M107 guns. As a result I’ve selected off-table SAM which are well out of range of his guns. However, these M107s, when not targeting SAM systems, will be firing counter-battery fires. In an attempt to disrupt these fires I have selected a battalion of M-1955 guns with for my own counter-battery fires. A slightly less expensive option would be towed S-23 180mm guns or perhaps even another battalion of 2S3 for more direct support of my attack. However, unlike the M-1955s both can easily be targeted by the M107s. Clearly each has strengths and weaknesses.

I have only added one Option A into the list. I need to expand some of these options in future, but with the enemy “listening” I can’t give too much away. In general I use the optional reinforcements to add variety and potentially catch an opponent off-guard. Over the years I have found fixed wing air support useful as such attacks can be overwhelming forcing a sudden and critical outcome. Even a weak air attack can be useful as it reminds an opponent of the need for his own AA. In this list the Mig-23s are armed with Improved Conventional Munitions, a useful weapons load against an enemy conducting a counterattack. In my most recent game the air support wasn’t called in, but I imagine next time it will. Certainly it will if I can silence his SAM, but that’s for another time.

Golubev’s Gamble

Major General Viktor Golubev’s pondered the maps in front of him. Yet again he was committing elements of his division, the 27th Guards Motor Rifle Division, in a hasty attack against the British, the second time in less than 24 hours. Desperately he hoped that the division would achieve the much needed breakthrough, especially given the divisions political officer seemed to be particularly interested in the divisions performance…

The battle area comprised the town of Dielingdorf in the southwest. From here a long ridge dominated the battle area as it travelled in a generally northeasterly direction. High points on the ridge were clearly critical objectives as they provided excellent observation points. Three other points of high ground were also critical, as the dominated the road network in the area. Reconnaissance indicated the British were deployed in brigade strength centred on three areas with each likely to be battalion strength. The British left was well forward at the northeastern end of the ridge, while the two remaining battalions were deployed further back. That of the centre seemed to be armour heavy.

Reports from regimental reconnaissance assets indicated two key heights on the left were not held. An obvious plan was a main attack here which would secure two objectives easily. Then a second stage operation, possibly with a deep flanking movement through Dielingdorf to unhinge the British right flank. Below, a portion of the British right flank viewed from the east, where such an attack would have fallen. Dielingdorf is to the left and not shown.

The British right, the left in the photo, is held by a mechanised infantry battalion while the British centre is held by elements of an armoured heavy battalion sized formation. Both are reinforced by ATGW systems. Of course at the time of planning this level of detail was not available to the Soviets. One of the two undefended objectives is in the foreground.

After some consideration Golubev’s opted for an alternate attack to which he allocated elements of two regiments. The 68th Guards Motor Rifle Regiment equipped with BMPs, and the 243rd Guards Motor Rifle Regiment operating BTR-60s. Each regiment would attack with two battalions forward, with each battalion supported by a company of the respective regiments T-64B tanks.

One battalion of 243rd MTR (BTR) would advance in extended order secure the two outlying and undefeated objectives in the southern sector. The battalion operating with little support was exposed to ambush by concealed British covering forces. Once these two objectives were secured the battalion would deploy into defensive positions. The focus of this defensive posture was in the centre where the battalions attached T-64Bs could provide a degree of protection to the main attack.

This main effort would comprise the second battalion of the 243rd MTR (BTR) and the 1st Battalion 68th MTR (BMP) with both battalions attacking the British positions on the northeastern end of the Dielingdorf ridge. The BTRs would likely be attacking frontally, before swing southwest, while the BMPs would attack along the length of the ridge. Meanwhile the second battalion of the 68th MTR (BMP) would conduct a short flank march. The battalion would attacking the rear of the British position before pressing deeper into the British rear capturing a second area of high ground. Attached to this flanking movement was the divisional reconnaissance company, which was tasked with pressing forward at speed to secure this position.

Each regiment would have the support of its own 122mm artillery battalion, limited fires from a divisional 152mm battalion. Further, towed 203mm guns were on-call for SAM suppression and counter battery fires. The divisional area was well protected by long SAM while each battalion was supported by a range of AA systems. Finally, several flights of Mig-23 and SU-7s were on call for ground attack.

Above, the British left flank well forward. To the left the the British centre is visible, well back, while in the rear the secondary objective of the 2/68th MTR battalion.

By 9am the Soviet forces had crossed their start lines. In the south 1/243rd MTR pressed forward over open ground towards its two objectives. Below, two companies of BTRs move through an area of fields. The battalions integral 120mm mortar company begins to deploy to while T-64Bs, drawn from the regiment’s tank battalion advance in support. Each battalion was supported by either SA-9 Gaskin or ZSU-23-4 self propelled AA as well as SA-7.

Below, a general view of the battle with the Soviets advancing from the left. The two sections of the Dielingdorf Ridge are clearly visible. Dielingdorf itself is visible in the very top centre. Objectives are marked by red markers. Three Soviet battalions are visible with a BMP and BTR battalion in the left foreground.

Unlike the Soviet left, the main attack on the right, against the British left was engaged almost immediately. British Chieftains tanks focused their efforts in engaging Soviet tanks at extreme range. However the orientation of the Soviet attack meant not all British tanks were able to engage.

Below, British combat teams on the heights reposition while one Chieftain troop pivots to engage. On the right British Milan teams deployed in a wood engage T-64s of the 1/68th MTR Battalion while Chieftains deployed near the British Battalion HQ in a farm add their weight. During this part of the attack British artillery was particularly active. From the high ground on the ridge British forward observers called in a near unceasing artillery fires on BMPs of the 68th MTR.

Lieutenant Colonel Anatoly Borovkov, commanding the 1st Battalion of the 68th Motor Rifle Regiment provides a brief overview of the initial engagement from his journal:

“The battalion’s BMPs, advanced rapidly towards the ridge with the tanks in close support. As we crested the ridge just after around 9.30am we were met by a storm of fire from British tanks some 1500 yards distant and ATGWs launched from a wooded area 1000m to our front. Much to our relief the fire was generally ineffective. A stark contrast to the hell produced by the relentless artillery fires that focussed on the BMPs. Several vehicles were decimated by direct hits while others were disrupted by the continual pounding. However, junior officers quickly regained control and while our tanks engaged the enemy armour the rifle companies pressed forward engaging enemy infantry.”

Despite a determined effort by British EW teams to jam radio communications Soviet forward observers were soon directing 122mm and 152mm fires at identified enemy positions. Later they would be reinforced by the 120mm tubes of each battalion. The 2S3 battalion allocated to the attack was quickly located and struck by M107 counter battery fires.

Above, the BTR battalion continues to advance. The wooded area and the ridge both caused some delay to the BTRs. Attached to this battalion was an air ground controller. As soon as the Divisional EW teams had accurately located enemy SAM sites dedicated artillery battalions were to conduct SAM suppression fires. Then Mig-23s and SU-7s were to be unleashed. Unfortunately, the British Rapier crews were well trained and frequently turned off their radar frustrating the Soviet attempts to locate them.

While the attack on the British left flank hung in the balance the 1st BTR battalion completed its advance in the Soviet centre and left. Above, 1/243rd MTR Battalion secures its objectives. As they did the attached T-64s deployed to cover the flank. In the distance elements of a British armoured regiment can be seen moving to support the battalion further along the ridge.

Below, a view of the advancing British regiment. Shortly after the T-64 company engaged the British Regiment’s right flank at ranges of 1500.

However, it was on the British left that the battle was to be decided. Finally, the 2nd BMP battalion from 68th Motor Rifle Regiment entered the battle space. While one company moved into the flank of a wood marking the British extreme left two additional BMP companies, supported by attached tanks, pressed deep into the British rear. Simultaneously the divisional Reconnaissance company, acting as a flank guard, moved against the battalion’s follow-on objectives.

Above, the battalion advances on the now exposed British left. The British Battalion HQ is located in the farm area, while rear area SAM are further to the rear.

Below, the overall situation. The BRDMs of the Reconnaissance Company can be seen in the right foreground moving at speed. Their objective is the hill in the right foreground.

At this point the British battalion on the northeastern section of Dielingdorf Ridge, broke having suffered heavy casualties. As it fell back in retreat Soviet forces consolidated their position on the ridge while the 2nd BMP Battalion pressed forward.

This Hasty Attack scenario was developed using the Scenario Generation System. Both players supported their main forces with an Option A reinforcement. Under the scenario the general location of the British forces were known when Soviet planning was completed, but not the actual dispositions. It was later revealed that the British commander had set deployed a trap, using undefended objectives, to lure the Soviets forward into a prepared killing zones. The alternate Soviet plan had been, without doubt, a significant gamble which could have gone very wrong. Indeed, during the course of the attack there were several critical moments the British, despite being outnumbered, looked likely to break at least one, possibly two, attacking Soviet battalions. Such a situation would have unraveled Golubev’s attack. In the end however the arrival of the flank marching battalion decimated the already unhinged the British defence. A fascinating, and very well balanced action. I look forward to another…

Achtung Panzer!

Three days had passed since the invasion began. During these desperate days both NATO and WARPAC formations had suffered heavy losses and both were committing reserve formations, or in the case of the Soviets, follow-on formations. Generalmajor Hans-Henning von Sandrart, commander of 11th Panzer Grenadier Division, had allocated one of his brigades, the 32nd Panzergrenadier Brigade, to hold the left flank of his divisional room. Opposite, his Soviet counterparts were committing elements of a reserve Motor Rifle Division, moved west prior to the offensive. Now, elements of this fresh division were advancing in a hasty attack on the West Germans.

The commander of 32nd Panzergrenadier Brigade, Ludwig Esebeck, had under command three battalions. They were the 311th Panzergrenadier Battalion, the 312th Panzergrenadier and the 313th Panzergrenadier. Each comprised three companies one of which was of Leopard 1A1A1 tanks. In direct support were various AA systems and the brigades artillery battalion. Available for counter battery fires was a battalion of M107 self-propelled artillery.

The brigade’s operational room was considerable, especially for an understrenth formation. Divisional intelligence expected the initial Soviet formations would comprise two Motor Rifle Regiments supported by artillery and fixed wing aircraft operating in close support. Based on this scenario, and with limited resources, Esebeck opted to deploy two battalions forward on a key ridge with a company of each battalion holding flank positions.

Above, the main ridge flanked by a town on the left and a village on the right.

The brigade’s third battalion, the 311th, would hold the brigade’s left but would deploy considerably further back. Likely routes of advance were covered and each battalion had local reserves. However, should the enemy advance along an unexpected route, Esebeck determined his small battalions would operate in a flexible defence. Following standard doctrine each would be prepared to reposition to reinforce another.

Below, the general situation with the Soviets entering from the left. The German left flank is in the right foreground.

Soviet forces were soon on the move and advanced German forces reported several Soviet tanks battalions supported by BMPs, along with BTR mounted infantry moving against the 32nd Brigade’s left flank. Indeed, as reports came in from advance positions it was soon clear that an entire Soviet Tank Regiment, comprising T-55s, T-62s and BMPs, was advancing at speed. This regiment was supported by significant portions of a BTR Regiment. It seemed the intelligence officers were mistaken in their assessment!

Below, the Soviets advance with a tank regiment in the foreground. The BTR battalions are just visible in the distance and are themselves supported by tanks and ATGW systems and self-propelled artillery.

Below, elements of the 311th Panzergrenadier Battalion prepare to engage the Soviets. The small village of Gerbertshofen can be seen on the left, complete with a garrison of a single panzergrenadier platoon.

The advancing Soviets Motor Rifle battalions were first to be engaged when Panzergrenadiers in Gerbertshofen requestedfire support from the brigade’s 155mm artillery. A series of accurate fires destroyed a company of advancing infantry. This was soon supplemented by direct fire from supporting Leopards.

Below, the Soviet attack presses forward. Gerbertshofen has now been reinforced in an attempt to prevent a direct attack. Casualties on the German Panzers are now mounting as the Soviet armour engages. While German artillery fires continue to cause heavy casualties on Soviet infantry. However, without a dedicated artillery observer the fires are not always concentrated falling on three seperate Soviet battalions.

While the Soviet attack clashed with Panzergrenadiers and Leopards around Gerbertshofen, the battalion’s left flank began to fall back towards higher ground in an effort to further protect the battalion’s flank. Below, a Marder equipped company can be seen in its revised position. On the hill Gepard AA remain vigilant. The red marker denotes a game objective.

It had been apparent for some time that the 311th Battalion was under heavy pressure. As a result Esebeck ordered the 312th Panzergrenadier Battalion to move to support it. This was to be completed in two phases to prevent additional Soviet formations attacking and securing key positions in the centre and right. In turn the 313th Panzergrenadier Battalion would reposition to a more central position.

Above, 312th Panzergrenadier Battalion conducts its second phase move. 313th Battalion, partly visible in the top right, will next reposition on the ridge. German tactical flexibility here was extremely important and each order change was successful despite Soviet radio jamming missions. On the extreme left elements of a Soviet BTR battalion can be seen deployed in a covering position to protect the Soviet left against a flank attack.

Above, Soviet armour prepares to advance over the a stream, with the intent of overwhelming the 311th Battalion and breaking into the German rear. The village of Gerbertshofen can be seen and is still in German hands. The Soviet plan required this village to be taken allowing supplies to be bought up for the exploiting Soviet tanks.

Below, another Soviet tank battalion moves forward. A number of Soviet battalions had reached the end of their command arrows. Now, German radio jamming missions added to the Soviet command problems. At this point the 311th Panzergrenadier Battalion was almost at breaking point. A concerted Soviet effort in fading light would have been devastating.

However, 312th Battalion had itself now moved on to the high ground to the rear of 311th Battalion. Once completed the Brigade’s position was stabilising, though it remained fragile.

At this point, with light fading, the Soviet attack began to slow. Clearly, the Soviet commander was in a strong position and the use of massed armour had clearly pressed the German defence to breaking. The 311th Panzergrenadier Battalion was significantly outnumbered and only the flexibility of German forces to reposition allowed the position to be maintained. Soviet artillery was both limited and ineffective, in stark contrast to German artillery fires. However, the Leopards of 311th Panzergrenadier Battalion, available only in company strength, stood no chance against the concentrated deployment of so many Soviet tanks. Achtung Panzer indeed!

Baltic Diversions

The deteriorating political situation in Europe during the summer of 1982 resulted in the forward deployment of elements of the French 7e Division Blindée (7th Armoured Division) to reinforce the Danish military. This reinforcement being itself a direct result of a number of Danish formations themselved having moved forward to forward deployment areas while Danish reserve formations had not yet fully mobilised. The French deployment, effectively a reinforced brigade, would result in one of the early clashes between French ground forces and the Soviets once hostilities began.

Soon after the Soviet forces crossed the West German frontier a series of naval landings occurred along the Baltic by Polish and Soviet Naval infantry. The landing by the 336 Naval Infantry Brigade would result in the dramatic clash between elements of the French 7e Division Blindée. As the naval infantry pushed in land French forces deployed to seize key terrain and conduct an aggressive couster-attack to halt the Soviet expansion of the bridgehead.

Limited intelligence of the immediate landing came from Danish covering forces, as well as reconnaissance flights by French Mirage jets. The staff of the 7e Division Blindée quickly developed a likely scenarios open to the Soviet commander. It was expected that a two naval infantry battalions would advance rapidly to seize two towns in the area of operations, the largest being Agestrup on the Soviet right and the smaller, Glattrup, in the Soviet centre. A third battalion would, it was expected, be directed towards a large ridge on the Soviet left. The Orders Group believed that a fourth battalion, possibly comprised of armour, would be held initially in reserve but would likely operate with this 3rd Battalion to advance against the French right and seize a key bridge on the Fensholt-Kildekrog road. Subsequent intelligence revealed this fourth battalion, of armour, was allocated out in support to the various naval infantry battalions.

To counter this scenario, and seize the initiative in the sector, elements of 7e Division Blindée were issued the following orders. Firstly, 35 RI (Regiment d’Infanterie) would advance on the French right secure a key road bridge and deploy in a blocking position to halt any Soviet expansion. Secondly, the main French effort would be on the French left where a daring operation was planned. Speed would be essential. The large town of Agestrup if seized by the enemy would be costly to retake. 5 RD (Regiment Dragons) would launch a rapid deep flank march that was to arrive on the enemy’s right flank. It was hoped this racid attack would catch many of the Soviet forces in the open before they reached Agestrup. Simultaneously the 170 RI, mounted in VAB wheeled transports and lacking integral armoured support, would advance in support. One company would advance in road column directly towards Agestrup. To the left another company would advance across the rolling countryside. The third company, supported by specialised HOT ATGW vehicles and a divisional reconnaissance company, would secure a long ridge and deploy to overwatch positions. The attack would be supported by two self propelled F3 155mm battalions, retained in divisional support, as well as a TR-155 155mm towed artillery battalion dedicated to counter-battery fires.

Above, the general situation with elements of the French 5 RB advancing on Agestrup, which is a five sector town in the left foreground. Soviet forces are advancing from the left with the town of Glattrup beyond Agestrup, and a long ridge top left. The French 170 RI is advancing from the right while 35 RI is just visible on the top right as it advances to its blocking position on the French right.

Below, another view of elements of 5 RB as they advance on Agestrup. The Soviet battalion here scattered on seeing the advancing French AMX-30 tanks and supporting mechanised infantry in AMX-10Ps. While many Soviet BTRs were able to reach the eastern sectors, and others deployed in the woods, the Soviet Battalion HQ was destroyed.

Below, a company of from 170 Regiment d’Infanterie, mounted in VAB APCs advance rapidly by road towards Agestrup seen here passing through a small Danish village. To allow this rapid move the command arrow for the regiment was drawn directly down the road.

Supporting the regiment was an ATGW company equipped with HOT armed VABs. Behind the VABs are jeeps of the divisions reconnaissance company. The reconnaissance company would push forward after the ATGW vehicles had deployed into overwatch positions.

As the VAB equipped 170 Regiment d’Infanterie raced towards Agestrup the tanks of 5 RB started to manoeuvre to the flank and behind Agestrup where the tanks would eventually engage the rear of the Soviet forces. Desperate to halt the advance of the French armour Soviet Forward Observers, operating in support of the naval infantry, directed a massive Mutiple Rocket Launchers strike, below.

Fortunately casualties from the strike were limited, though several platoons were suppressed. The massive fire signature of the MRLs allowed French counter-battery teams to locate the MRLs. French artillery now targeted and destroyed the 140mm MRLs. This was the first of three Soviet MRL systems that were engaged in a series of effective French counter-battery fires.

Below, elements of the 35 Regiment d’Infanterie advance to secure a bridge on the French right. The regiment comprised three companies of mechanised infantry and one of AMX-30s. An AMX-13 DCA is visible on the right foreground and provided local AA protection. A Roland SAM system, providing expanded protection for the battle area is to the right.

Both French and Soviet forces conducted a series of electronic warfare radar location missions to identify and then target enemy radar systems as they shaped the battlefield for later air strikes. Long range Soviet SAMs were located but due to their range could not be targeted. However, local radar controlled gun systems were located, targeted and silenced.

Soviet operators were also active and located French Roland SAM. Additional Soviet MRLs as well as frigates firing in support struck the Roland deployed on high ground on the French right.

The tracked Roland SAM system was suppressed by these massive strikes, yet surprisingly the Roland systems soon recovered and relocated. Now, French artillery located this second MRL and silenced it.

However, the Soviets now had a window and with the Roland temporarily inactive a stream of Soviet SU-17s swept in to engage 5 RB near Agestrup.

Above, SU-17s engage AMX-13 DCA self-propelled AA gun systems, mechanised infantry and tanks using smart bombs. The use of these stand off weapons limited the ability of the DCA to disrupt the air attacks, especially with the Roland suppressed. While casualties from the air strikes were heavy the regiment remained undeterred and 5 DB continued it’s advance.

Both combatants also conducted a series of radio jamming EW missions in an attempt to degrade and disrupt enemy communications.

The rapidly advancing infantry of the 170 RI looked likely to gain a foothold in Agestrup. However, the Soviet Naval Infantry also moved quickly. Just as the advanced VAB company arrived at Agestrup the final sector of the town was garrisoned by the Soviets, as can be seen above. All five sectors were now under Soviet control. Rather than assault the town 170 RI  wold now switch to supporting the French main effort, a drive against the Soviet rear. Agestrup would be bypassed.

Above, AMX-30s of the 5 RB engage Soviet ATGWs. The support fires by self-propelled F3 guns were ineffective and the Soviets ATGWs were eventually overcome by tank fire.

Indirect fires by Soviet self-propelled 122mm guns were generally ineffective. However, after location the Soviet weapons were also subjected by heavy counter-battery fires by two French artillery battalions rexulting in a 50% of casualties and forcing the Soviet guns to relocate.

Below, as the French armour pushed deeper some companies targeted towed Soviet ZSU-23 artillery and mortars while others engaged Soviet infantry and PT-76s. French armour and infantry would soon move into the woods catching a company of PT-76s redeploying.

Facing a now desperate situation Soviet commanders requested fixed wing air-support. Again Soviet EW teams located French Roland SAM which were immediately targeted by the third MRL battalion. Again the MRL failed to destroy the French SAM, and were themselves located and hit by further massive French counter-battery fires. However, for critical moments, the suppressed Roland were off-line and during that time a flight of Yak-38 aircraft conducted an attack using ICM.

Despite the air strike French resolve stiffened and yet again the French armour moved forward. However, the advance would be short lived as Soviet naval Helix attack helicopters appeared over the Soviet rear. With no local AA systems operational the French armour was all but defenceless against this new threat.

Above and below the Helix gunships, allocated to tank busting, engage the AMX -30s of 5 RB. Visible on the left elements of a second naval infantry battalion can be seen forming a second defensive line while in the top left French reconnaissance teams fall back from Soviet positions.

Unable to continue the advance the 5 RB was forced to retreat. Now, and effectively unsupported, the advanced VAB companies of 170 RI broke-off their own advance falling back to defensive blocking positions.

The Soviet Naval Infantry Regiment had secured its bridgehead. The French commander, accepting defeat, took some satisfaction that with the destruction of so many Soviet artillery systems. Two Soviet battalions were eliminated and two others had suffered 50% casualties. The Soviet 336th Naval Infantry Brigade would be unable to conduct offensive operations for sometime.

This entertaining Mutual Encounter scenario was developed using the Scenario Generation System. Both forces comprised a basic 850 points. The French forces were however reinforced by an Option B, with a victory point penalty. Unfortunately the French fixed wing aircraft, that comprised much of this reinforcement option, were not engaged. The final result was a significant Soviet victory.

Drive on Mantinghausen

The following covers a recent Soviet hasty attack on a British defensive sector set in 1982 using a scenario developed with the Scenario Generation System. Both the British and Soviets opted for an Option A reinforcement. I’ve provided a little additional detail around the Soviet planning as background. The Soviets were commanded by Robin and I, while Andrew commanded the British.

Various thoughts ran through Major General Viktor Golubev’s mind as the divisional operations officer completed the orders group. Had he considered the enemy deployments sufficiently? The reconnaissance reports indicated he would be engaged against a British brigade comprising tank and mechanised infantry. While the maps indicated the terrain on the enemy right was more open indications of ridge lines and British armour heavy formations were of concern. Was his decision weight his attack against the British left correct? Would the attack through a large wood against the high ground that dominated the forward centre of the British position be successful? Certainly he was concentrating his effort as the attack would initially utilise two mechanised battalions, soon rising to three. Would the battalions have sufficient strength to press on to the secondary objectives where a second British mechanised battalion was located. But what of the British tanks? His intelligence officer indicated the British armour would remain in place, but would it? There were so many variables to consider. Then his mind was drawn his two regimental commanders tasked with the divisions immediate objectives. He wondered if each of his commanders were up to their respective tasks or if the would flinch at the critical moment? Would they make sufficient use of the resources allocated? Only time would tell…

By 3pm the advanced elements of the attack were committed. Elements from two Motor Rifle Regiments were allocated to the phased assault with each regiment allocating two reinforced battalions to the advance. On the left the BMP equipped regiment advanced in two groups. The first was tasked with advancing and clearing a large wood and small village before swinging left to secure high ground. Reconnaissance suggested the wood line would be held by infantry, yet the threat of British counter battery fires precluded pre-planned fires. Instead, it would be a silent attack with the artillery on-call. To the left of the battalion a second BMP battalion was held in reserve to provide flank protection and support for follow-on operations.

To the right of the BMP Regiment elements of a BTR Motor Rifle Regiment advanced. The 1st BTR Battalion was to advance along a route that ran parallel to the BMP battalion so it would strike the flank of the woods while potentially clearing a key village on the battalions right flank. In support a further BTR battalion would advance on flanking movement to the right of the village. Delays for this battalion were expected due to the approach march required. However, it would provide additional elements which would ensure the village, the other initial objective, was secured. On the extreme right a divisional reconnaissance company was tasked with deep reconnaissance of secondary objectives. The BTR Regiment would then press deeper into the British flank securing the secondary objective while the BMP Regiment would halt the expected British armoured counter-attack. In support of the four reinforced battalions were each regiment’s 122mm D-30, a divisional 152mm battalion as well as two battalions of 203mm towed guns for deep counter-battery fires. The SAM systems were prepared and included Gaskin, Gecko and Guideline and supplemented by ZSU and SA-7.

Above, the view from the north with Soviet forces entering from the east (left). The immediate Soviet objectives are the high ground on the centre left, behind the village and the village in the left foreground. The secondary objective is the village in the right foreground.

Below, the 1st BMP Battalion advances towards its primary objective, the small hill that dominates the village on the right. The BMPs, supported by a company of T-64B tanks soon came under fire by Abbots and light mortar fire. Swift Soviet counter-battery fires forced the Abbots to relocate. While Soviet radio jamming disrupted many new requests for support fires.

To the right of the 1st BMP Battalion the 1st BTR Battalion advances, shown below. Supported by T-62 tanks this battalion was soon engaged by dismounted Milan teams, just visible in the wood line, of British 2 Para. Again British artillery fires, from a second artillery battalion, supported the defence. These fires caused increasing casualties among the Soviet forces. However, again the British self-propelled guns were hit by Soviet counter-battery fires. Suffering casualties the Abbots were forced to relocate. The village on the centre right though an objective was to be bypassed initially while the battalion concentrated on the main attack. Eventually 2 Para would fall back leaving a now isolated company to hold this village.

The artillery fires were not all in the Soviet favour. Divisional level D-20 152mm guns attempted to neutralise the Milan teams. These were almost immediately located and hit by British counter-battery M110. The entire Soviet battalion was eliminated. The M110 were however located by Soviet M-1955 towed guns. Suffering casualties they too were forced to relocate.

Below, another view of the advancing 1st BTR Battalion. The situation was critical and with casualties mounting the political officer at Regimental HQ was “encouraging” the Regimental Commander to press forward.

Below, the Soviet 1st BMP Battalion presses its advance towards the woods while a platoon of T-64B tanks and ZSU-23-4 support the BTR advance by engaging the Milan. The BMP Regimental D-30 towed 122mm guns also conducted artillery fires against these Milan. After firing for a period the towed guns were moved to a secondary location to avoid British counter-battery fires.

Using combinations of armour, ZSUs, 122mm artillery and 120mm battalion mortars the Milan teams were finally eliminated.


Above, the Soviets BMPs press forward. With the British paratroopers deployed mostly within the woods, rather than on the edge, the BMP mounted infantry advanced into the woods where they drove back the British paratroops. Again the village was ignored.

Behind the village elements of a British mechanised battalion can be seen on high ground and moving into the wood in a desperate effort to support the British paratroops. The forward deployment of this British battalion was unexpected. The BMP battalion’s towed 120mm mortars were particularly active supporting this sector and caused considerable disruption to the British infantry. The 120mm mortars were now themselves subjected to a massive counter-battery fire by M110, with devastating results.

Meanwhile, on the British right, the unengaged armour heavy battalion had been ordered to move from its defensive position in a counter-attack. Above, a portion of the battalion deployed before the Soviet attack, mechanised infantry were deployed in the town behind the village in the foreground. The ridge provided a strong blocking position and any attack here by Soviet formations would have ended in disaster, despite the small number of British tanks.

Below, the Chieftains on the move. The small two contour hill on the right is the BMP battalion initial objective. The British armour heavy battalion is now operating without mechanised infantry and is about to pass through elements of a seperate mechanised infantry battalion and attack the 1st BMP Battalion left flank. A difficult task which impacts greatly a formations ability to engage enemy.

Below, the British armour moves over a ridge line and advanced elements begin to engage the 1st BMP Battalion at 1500m. Additional dedicated ATGW systems, concentrated T-64Bs or helicopters would have been extremely useful at this point!

Instead with rapidly fading daylight the Soviet reserve battalion was committed. It now advanced against the exposed British right flank.

Above, British Scorpions, forward of the Chieftains, engage the rapidly advancing BMPs while T-64Bs begin to engage Cheiftains. In the centre right BMP SA-7 teams deploy to high ground. The Soviet commander was continually concerned about British Lynx or fixed wing air attacks, which never appeared!

Unfortunately, we had to call time at this point with the game very much in the balance. The engagement had been excellent and highlighted many of the strengths of Modern Spearhead, when combined with a well balanced scenario. With neither the Soviets or the British having a complete understanding of the enemy force suspense was maintained throughout. The well coordinated British defence had proven a difficult task to penetrate. Yet supporting attacks and maintaining a focus of effort had rewarded the Soviets, though their objectives were yet to be secured. Artillery fire had been heavy and both protagonists had exhausted their main counter-battery assets. The flank marching Soviet BTR battalion having arrived late was now pressing forward. Supported by D-30 122mm artillery this, along with the other D-30 artillery battalion of the BMP Regiment, would now provide much needed artillery support. EW missions, in the form of Radio Jamming, had proven useful to the Soviets. The threat of British air strikes had failed to materialise, though the threat haunted the mind of one Soviet commander! Meanwhile the other Soviet Regimental commander lamented the lack of Soviet helicopters or fixed wing air support. He argued they would have been very useful providing critical support against the advancing British armour. He was correct, perhaps next time…

Defence of Neuwallwitz

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…

Cold War Scenarios

The reorganisation of my Modern Spearhead website continues, slowly, and this evening I have finally sorted out and uploaded several Cold War scenarios.

The first scenarios are provided as a set and cover a series of actions between British and Soviet forces in the first few days of 1982. The scenarios are “Blunting the Bear”, “Engagement at Einbeck” and “Beyond Breaking”.

MSH_British_1
Each scenario involes a reinforced brigades, or in some cases two brigades, and can reasonably be played in an afternoon, or possibly evening, of gaming. The scenarios can be found here.