Sunday, 15 November 2015

Storming the Barrikady Factory 17th October 1942 AAR

A few months ago I finished off the complete army list for the Rapid Fire! scenario 'Storming the Red Barricades Factory 17th October 1942' from the RF Third Supplement. These figures were put together as a single project and were scenario specific and on Saturday, Ninjasaurus Rex, Dean and myself gathered together to play the scenario out.

It was going to be a big one, especially with 170 German figures, 24 German Vehicles, 4 German guns, 184 Soviet Figures, 7 Soviet Vehicles and 3 Soviet guns on the board!. With a total of 354 figures, 31 Vehicles and 7 Guns we were going to test Rapid Fire! to it's breaking point!

The scenario condenses a week of fighting from the 16th to the 22nd of October when German forces tried to push their way through the complex of factory buildings. I set the board up as shown in the scenario map (with added cat) and it looked pretty bare. However, it was soon to fill up when we added the forces.


Here is the board, looking from the German lines (I apologise for the unfinished look, I really should have done more work on the scenery, even just painting the boards would be enough for now... Oh well... that's for the future!). The German objectives were the Office Complex, Foundry Hall and Assembly Hall (in three separate sections) of the Barrikady Factory. Each worth 20 points for a total of 100 objective points. The Germans had to hold at least 60 points worth of buildings by the end of the game to win, the Soviets had to stop this. The game would last a total of 20 turns. 

The railway line sat on an embankment against the edge of Tramvanaya Street (where the German hidden movement cards are placed) and this embankment was impassable to vehicles except on the left where the road sections are to replicate the railway bridge. German engineers had the ability to create a crossing point on the embankment, but this would have taken up to 1d6 turns to complete.


Looking back from Ninjasaurus' Soviet defence line, you can see the patches of minefields (the brown MDF boards) and his barricades between the buildings, along with his hidden units (half of which were dummies). The piles of steel girders were also impassible to vehicles making for only several places we could launch attacks.


The general plan for our attacking forces was to attempt to use sheer weight of numbers to force our way down the main street to the factories, using the armour as a spearpoint with the infantry in support (I took control of the armour, Dean took the infantry).


Our first point of stalling was having to deal with a decimated Soviet battalion in the ruined buildings to the right and factory militia on the left. It took a lot of firepower to winkle out these defenders and the attack couldn't precede until they were gone.


I managed to push past the defenders with three tanks from the 36th Panzer Regiment, who began crossing the barricades in the centre.


However, things were not so good on our left flank as we poured fire into the ruined buildings, but with little effect. Two dug-in T-34s of the 84th Tank Brigade were revealed to be situated by the side of the office complex and they began trading fire with my Panzer IIIs.


The rest of the 84th Tank Brigade (a T-34 and a T-70) lurked right next to the assembly hall and stalled my advance down the main drag. Also, Soviet reinforcements from the 650th Rifle Regiment began appearing from their landing areas on the Volga.


Calamity struck as two of my Panzer IIIs were brewed up by the dug-in T-34s.


Meanwhile, the German infantry revealed themselves in order to be able to move easier, however the bottleneck of the railway bridge was proving to be an issue. Everything was bunched up waiting for the tanks to clear the buildings.


The tanks, with help from the 244th Assault Gun Battalion (including a StuG33b), finally crushed the defenders of the buildings. Although I did lose the remaining tank of the second company of the 36th Panzer Regiment to a bad morale roll, Marders of the 4th Anti-Tank Battalion pushed over the barricades and began to engage the two dug-in T-34s.


Another choking point appeared, this time overseen by Soviet tanks. Without eliminating these threats, our attack was going nowhere.


There was still little movement at the railway embankment, there was a lot of men trying to get forward.


However, once the vehicles had moved there was a steady stream of infantry.


The assault guns began their attack on the Foundry Hall, defended by another depleted Soviet battalion. The aid to defence from ruins was demonstrated by the amount of time it was taking to clear the buildings with shellfire.The Soviets were proving hard to get out of there!


Gunfire was crashing up and down the main streets between Panzer IVs, IIIs, Marders, T-34s and a T-70 with only desultory results on all sides.


This continued until the remaining Panzers from the 36th destroyed two Soviet tanks and were able to turn their attention to the assembly hall defenders. One panzer had taken heavy damage, whilst a second was lightly damaged during the duel with the Soviet armour.


The situation midway through was looking bleak for the Germans, we had barely got off our starting points; although the armour was pushing forward, it needed infantry support to occupy the cleared buildings. The 13th Panzer Engineer Battalion did advance in its transports, ready to attack the foundry hall.


On our left flank, the Marders managed to heavily damage one T-34 and lightly damage the second. However, they were still a big threat to our advance.


A Marder took some light damage and the second was brewed up in the fight though. Meanwhile, the artillery observers nosed forward in their Kubelwagen. Maybe we would be able to get some artillery down on the Soviet positions?


I lost my second Marder in an exchange of fire with the dug-in tanks as more Soviet reinforcements took positions behind the buildings.


Not all was doom and gloom from the German perspective though, the Engineer battalion stormed the foundry hall and the assault guns began clearing the remaining Soviet defenders.


More and more German infantry were rushing forward, heading down the main roads to tackle the defences.


There was still the question of the hidden units in the office complex, were they dummies?


The assault guns on the right flank rolled over a minefield (with only one tank taking light damage!) and began to engage the defenders of the assembly hall. With little anti-tank capabilities, they had no chance.


With the Marders gone and Soviet infantry threatening them, I reversed the tanks of the 36th Panzer Regiment to try and engage the dug-in T-34s in order to clear the way for our attacking infantry. However, they seemed impervious to our shots!


Finally the units in the office complex were revealed and it was a nest of anti-tank guns, infantry mortars and quad AA Guns (Ninjasaurus had no idea what they were in his lists, otherwise I think they would have been revealed a lot sooner!). It looked like Pavlov's house in there!


The Soviet defenders were still stalling our infantry attack with rifle fire and mortars, we were having a real hard time pushing forward on our left flank.


The dug-in tanks were still being a thorn in our side as they brewed up another Panzer III, yet we were still unable to damage them further!


In the meantime, a Soviet battalion had managed to work its way behind our front line and began to threaten our artillery line. I dispatched the headquarters of the 14th Panzer Division to deal with the threat.


Gunfire was exchanged between the German engineers in the foundry hall and the Soviet defenders in the assembly hall. The objective was so close, yet so far away!


Despite looking like a major obstacle, artillery was ordered on the office complex. The regiment was on target and three 105mm howitzers and two 150mm howitzers fired for effect.


This strike caused 16 casualties, wiping out the two AT guns, the AA gun and several mortar crew. What had looked impregnable was suddenly empty!


Unfortunately, the German infantry were unable to press on this advantage, still stalling in front of combined rifle and shell fire. The remaining tanks of the 36th Panzer Regiment also failed their morale test and routed off board, leaving a gap in our centre.


Soviet defence fire from the factory buildings was intensifying and holding the engineers in check. The assault guns couldn't go forward without their infantry support, so this flank was bogging down as well.


With one final round of firing on turn 15 we called it a day. The German attack was blunted and it would have been near impossible for us to gain any further objectives.


Still sat fresh behind the factory buildings was a full Soviet battalion.


The final scene from the Soviet lines. Despite taking massive casualties the Soviets had saved the buildings and destroyed German hopes of reaching the Volga.


We ended the game on turn 15, rather than run to the full 20 as we knew the Germans had no chance at that point. We had reached our high watermark and no amount of slogging away would change the outcome. Plus we had been playing for nearly five hours at that stage and we were nearly as battered as the attackers!

It was a great game, despite losing. The railway bottleneck proved to be a massive issue, as did the 'men of the match'; the dug-in T-34s. Both stalled and blunted the attack. On reflection, it may have been better to allow the engineers to create a crossing point on the right flank and send an attacking force in that way. I am sure we will revisit this scenario at some point in the future and who knows how it will turn out then!

Thanks for reading!

2 comments:

  1. This is great! Excellent AAR. You are one game ahead of us. We're doing the Operation Seydlitz from the same scenario book and hope to do this one next. Thanks for doing all the hard work; this is a mine of information for us. Thanks for posting.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you very much. I have only played one other game from the scenario book, it was the Kursk one. There is an AAR on this blog for it here:

      http://stormofsteelwargaming.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/the-battle-of-verkhopenye-8th-july-1943.html

      I would like to play more of them, but I need the time and money to put the forces together!!

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