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Monday, September 29, 2014

Bolt Action - Fort Eben-Emael

The first major successful use of airborne troops came on May the 10th, 1940, when Nazi Germany inserted 493 elite Fallschirmjäger on top of Belgium's toughest fortress in one of the opening bids of the invasion of Belgium.

The operation was such a closely guarded secret and named Sturmabteilung Koch for it's commanding officer Hauptmann Walter Koch. The units tasked with carrying it out were constantly moved around and renamed and their training grounds were packed up between practice runs. Split into four task forces, the Fallschirmjäger were tasked with capturing three bridges of the Albert Canal and neutralising the Belgian fort of Eben-Emael. Once this was achieved that had to hold until relieved. The garrison of the fort alone was over 1200 men.

With specially developed shaped charges that were a closely guarded secret and flamethrowers, the Fallschirmjäger landed on their target with the use of gliders. The Belgains heard the approaching tow aircraft and the gliders had to brave flak fire, but most managed to do so without taking too much damage. Group Steel and Group Concrete captured their bridges and disarmed the demolition charges on them but Group Iron was not able to take their target bridge before the Belgian defenders destroyed it.

Meanwhile Group Granite, consisting of only 85 men, managed to destroyed most of the Fort's heavy armaments, specifically the artillery pieces able to fire on the bridges and seal the entrances into the Fort, trapping the garrison inside. During this battle, a single glider landed on the Fort containing Oberleutnant Rudolf Witzig, who had been in command of Group Granite but had been dropped early in German territory by his tow aircraft enroute. Witzig had called for another tow craft and finally arrived in the midst of the battle. They also received an equipment drop of machine guns to reinforce their positions and were able to call in airsupport from Stuka Dive Bombers during the assault.

Not only did they successfully achieve their initial goals, the men of Sturmabteilung Koch held their positions for 26 hours until finally relieved by German units advancing from the German border.

So for my next German army, I plan to recreate part of Sturmabteilung Koch. Being early war and using only the equipment they had, it's quite a limited selection but I look forward to recreating the theme of this elite force.

I decided I wanted dual platoons to allow me to get two air observers. The Stukas are virtually my only form of possible long range AT. The Sturmabteilung didn't bring any heavy weapons with them other than flamethrowers. So two platoons requires two lieutenants. I went with two veteran 2nd Lts, each with two extra men. These small three man teams, all with SMGs will be used as small assault teams. Then there are the two veteran air observers, each with one extra man. The list couldn't afford another man for these units and the small unit penalty to hit them will also help keep them alive from enemy snipers.

Now I need infantry. Having spent over 300 points already, I could only afford four squads of veteran pioneers. I chose pioneers over early war fallschirmjäger because they allow flamethrowers and more SMGs keeping in what the men at Eben-Emael had. Three units consist of 7 men, 3 with SMGs and 1 with a flamethrower. The last unit has 8 men, 6 with SMGs.

Now to round off the list, I'm taking two veteran MMG teams. This will give me some long range firepower and the ability to put out some pins while the rest of the army moves forward to use their assault weapons.

This list is going to be quite a gambler's list. It relies on airstrikes to deal with enemy armour and foot slogging infantry flamethrowers to do a lot of the heavy listing. A few bad fuel rolls and a roll of 1 for an airstrike could lead to disaster without the enemy's input but Bolt Action happens!

Platoon 1
Veteran Second Lieutenant + 2 men - 3 SMGs
Veteran Pioneer Squad 7 men - 3 SMGs, 1 Flamethrower, 3 Rifles
Veteran Pioneer Squad 7 men - 3 SMGs, 1 Flamethrower, 3 Rifles
Veteran Air Observer + 1 man - 2 SMGs
Veteran MMG team

Platoon 2
Veteran Second Lieutenant + 2 men - 3 SMGs
Veteran Pioneer Squad 7 men - 3 SMGs, 1 Flamethrower, 3 Rifles
Veteran Pioneer Squad 8 men - 6 SMGs, 2 Rifles
Veteran Air Observer + 1 man - 2 SMGs
Veteran MMG team

1000 points, 10 order dice

The final piece of this puzzle is Black Tree Design has just had a 50% of sale, so I now have a moron's (dozen - Judson) load of lead on it's way to me. Stay tuned for a part two, once my delivery arrives.

Have you themed an army on a particular battle? What do you think of a pioneer heavy list? Let us know know the forums.

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