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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Polish 10th MCB vs Mittlere Panzerkompanie

Played another Early War vs Patrik down at the club, this time he brought a much more interesting list compared to last week’s Czech Panzerkompanie. This was the first time I got to face a Mittlere Panzerkompanie.

I myself brought the 10th motorized cavalry brigade. The 1500pts lists looked like this.

10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade

Colonel Stanislaw Maczek: 60points
Regiment HQ: 40 points

Combat & Weapons platoons
Zmotoryzowanej company: 2 platoons with 2 HMG’s
Zmotoryzowanej company: 2 platoons with 1 HMG
Zmotoryzowanej AT gun platoon: 3 guns
Zmotoryzowanej AT gun platoon: 3 guns
Reconaissance tank platoon: 5 TKS, (2 with 20mm guns)
Reconaissance tank platoon: 5 TKS, (2 with 20mm guns)

Divisional Support
R-35 tank platoon

Limited Air support Pzl.23 Karas light bomber

Mittlere Panzerkompanie (if I recall correctly)

Befehlspanzer I + Pz II

Combat platoons
4x Panzer III
4x Pz38t
6x PzII

Divisional support
Priority air support + Stuka Schwerpunkt

The mission was "Hold the Line" and the Poles were defending. I started with 2 AT gun platoons in Ambush and 1 infantry company dug in around the objective in the town. 1 infantry company, 2 tankette platoons and the R35 tanks were held in Delayed reserve.

Patrik had deployed his force in two columns. 1 "heavy" made up of the PzIII and Pz38t tanks on my left and the "light" with all the Pz II's on my right flank. I identified the heavy column as the main threat, figured I could - if need be - tackle the light tanks with my infantry, tankettes and R-35 tanks once reinforcements showed up. Patrik moved his tanks forwards, my forces hugged the ground and dodged the Stuka bombs.

I waited to pop my ambush. During turn 2 Patrik moved closer to my deployment zone - and was now close enough to a nearby forest for me to pop an ambush and open fire on close range. Both AT gun platoons revealed themselves in the tree line - first platoon opened fire at the PzIII column, hitting them well enough but only managing to bail out 2 tanks.  I had hoped that at least some tanks would be left burning. After thinking about my options for a second, I divided the fire from my second ATgun platoon so that 2 guns fired at the PzIII column and 1 gun fired at the Pz38t tanks.

This time, one PzIII was destroyed by a direct hit, another tank destroyed due to being double bailed, and the remaining tank was also bailed. The surviving crews fled the field leaving 4 PzIII tanks destroyed by the approaching road. The Pz38t tanks that got fired upon by a single AT gun platoon was hit my every single shot! Resulting in one bailed and one destroyed Pz38t!

For a moment things looked really bright. The Germans retaliated by driving up with their remaining tanks and opening fire at the AT guns, managing to destroy one gun emplacement, and then dodging out of LoS. Pz38t and PzII's met up in the middle - and there was a bit of uncertainty whether they would just continue straight down towards the infantry and leave the AT guns alone.

The following turn the Poles failed to receive any air support when it was needed the most, they also failed to receive any reinforcements. This wasn't completely unexpected but it didn't bode well for the few defenders of the town. German air support hit the Polish AT guns, destroying 1 more emplacement, and then German tanks returned and while firing their weapons crashed into the middle of the Polish gun line. All but 1 AT gun was destroyed in the assault, the remaining gun and the commander backed away to the other side of the forest.

PzII tanks drove up to the Polish infantry and opened fire with a ridiculous amount of machineguns and 20mm guns, strafing the Polish positions a single team was destroyed. The remaining troops kept their heads down and avoided injury.

Another turn came and went, the Poles managed to get air support and rolled 3 planes - but the Germans were too close to their positions for the planes to be used. I preferred to keep my infantry in place and sacrifice the airplanes instead. Again no reinforcements arrived - which started to worry me a lot - a single under strength company was holding the objective against a horde large number of tanks - and had only 2 AT rifles to use against them.

The Germans formed a killing zone by parking their tanks in a nice formation and again strafed the Polish positions with everything they had. When the smoke cleared not a single team had been killed!

At turn 5 the roll for Polish reinforcements failed so only 1 platoon arrived. A platoon of R-35 tanks was brought in and tasked with defending the second objective on the hill. This was more to prevent the Germans to rush the objective, and I hoped infantry would arrive and reinforce that position the following turn. I was not going to throw my tough but weakly armed R35 tanks in a duel against the horde of Panzers anyway.

The Germans more than a little frustrated at the Polish infantry decided to storm their position with a platoon of Panzers. This tank assault killed a couple of teams but also resulted in the loss of 2 tanks and the attack being repulsed. The Poles quickly pulled back a bit and dug in again. Polish reinforcements arrived again, the second infantry company. It arrived so that it covered the objective on the hill and slowly moved towards the town. The Germans attack the infantry in the town again - and battered the defenders badly. The remnant troops were however not ready to surrender just yet. And held their ground despite horrific losses.

Panzers moved forwards and opened fire at the R35 platoon, destroying the platoon commander. The remaining Poles defending the town were finally wiped out to a man, including the nearby company commander. This left the town and the objective in German hands. It looked like the battle was over - when 2 platoons of tankettes arrived - and in a mad dash zipped past the German panzers only to take up position behind the enemy. 20mm gun armed tankettes destroyed a PzII and bailed another, the objective in the town was contested, and the second Polish infantry company was moving up towards the town flanked by tankette platoons.

The tankettes were hit hard from all sides by Pz38t and PzII platoons, miracoulesly only 2 tankettes were completely lost despite pretty much all of them becoming bailed out. The Polish tankette platoons were not quick to flee either, and bailed in the next turn and continued the delaying battle. Infantry, tankettes and R35 tanks fired at the German tanks, bailing out a score but only managing to destroy another PzII. Too many tanks were still active and covering their bailed out comrades for the Polish infantry to mount an assault against the bailed out tanks.

German air support arrived again and hit the R35 tanks, which survived, shellshocked but otherwise unharmed. The desperate defense of the town dragged on, tankettes were blown to pieces, PzII tanks were bailed out. Infantry moved up but was cut down. R35 tanks fired at the Befehlspanzer but failed to destroy it. The whole area in and around the town was chaos.

The Polish tankette platoon which had contested the objective and which had formed a hedgehog formation behind the German tanks was completely destroyed, which left the second tankette platoon to take its place as the "contesting platoon". A single tankette sacrificed itself while the battle continued. More German tanks were bailed but it only delayed the inevitable at this point. The Poles had little hope of winning a firefight with the Panzers at this point. Still, just to stick it to the attacker they stayed in the fight. Their numbers whithered turn by turn, towards the end shattered remnants of each Polish platoon remained and offered a token resistance - but they still refused to surrender.

The Poles had lost 3 platoons (the 4 remaining platoons were made up of a couple of teams each). The Panzers finally pushed their way past the Polish defenders, abandoning the town objective and focusing on the objective located on the hill. The R35 tank that was still operational was destroyed, so was the last Polish tankette. The few troops defending the hill were cut down to just 2 teams.

The entire Polish force was below 50% of their starting platoons and my company commander had been dead for the past 7 turns. At the end of turn 12, the last 2 Polish infantry teams and the remaining AT gun and its commander were defeated.

This battle was just insane, 12 turns, of which 10 were a fanatical defense of the town and the hill. The amount of shots fired at my units was astounding, even Patrik commented on it stating that the Germans had probably used up all their reserves of ammunition. Each turn the Germans fired some 30 dice at the defenders, but the Veteran rating of my troops together with a bit of Devil's luck rolling saves meant that my forces were just slowly being degraded instead of devastated after each salvo. The Fearless rating really came into play as well, both in helping bailed out tanks and tankettes to resume their fight, and to keep the few infantry teams that were still around from breaking.

Despite having lost, I found this to be the best and most fun battle played against Patrik. In no little part due to his frustration, and the fact that I destroyed his PzIII unit before it managed to do anything. Polish air support never really came into play, it was either intercepted or the enemy was too close for me to use the planes that arrived. The only thing I bombed was the enemy recovery vehicle - just for laughs as it had no tactical value but I was determined to bomb something before the battle ended.

Never got any use out of Colonel Stanislaw Maczek in this battle, his special rules are mainly meant to boost the combat capabilities of the 10th Motorized Cavalry brigade when it is the attacker.

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