Breakout from Tarnopol – A Crossfire Scenario in Tarnopol

A Crossfire scenario about the German break out attempt from Tarnopol. It is part of the 3 Round Tarnopol Crossfire Campaign but can also be played in isolation.

The scenario is draft.

Historical Situation

Setting: Tarnopol, Polish-Ukraine, USSR; 16 Apr 1944

[Basically excerpts from the the Tarnopol page.]

At 0200 hours on 16 Mar 1944 the survivors of the German garrison in Tarnopol attempted to break out of the town (Buchner, 1995). Leaving behind their heavy equipment, and essentially lacking vehicles, the men set off on foot with only small arms. Taking the Russians by surprise they managed to break through the inner ring relatively easily. At this point they divided into two groups of about 700 men. One group headed west and the other southwest. The latter group crossed the hills southwest of Zagrobela, into a wood south of the village of Janovka. There they eliminated some Russian anti-tank gun and artillery emplacements, however, under being attacked from flanks and rear they were pushed out of the forest toward the west. By this stage all the officers had been killed. The survivors formed small groups and tried to break through, but only 43 reached the German armour at Chodaczow on 17 Apr. Little is known of the fate of the other group, however, on the morning of 16 Apr five men managed to reach the positions of the 357th Infantry Division north of Kozlov. Two more men appeared north of Kozlov on 18 Apr. Finally five prisoners were returned to Germans lines for propaganda purposes. That made a total of 55 who reach safety out of the original 4,600 men.

This scenario represents the efforts of one group to breakthrough. A German infantry force, lacking heavy weapons, attacks Russians in prepared defences. There are the additional risks of roving tanks appearing on their flanks and of Russian aircraft appearing overhead. The scenario takes place during day light as Buchner (1995) says the initial penetration was done relatively easily.

Map/Terrain


Map
produced in CC2
Click on the map to the full size version

Key features are:

  • 6’x4′ table.
  • Fields (out of season), Rough, Contour Lines, Crests, Buildings.
  • The Russians deploy west of the line A-A.
  • The Germans deploy east of the line A-A.
  • The Germans are trying to exit the western table edge (W-W).

Note: this is the same table as used in Battle Group Friebe.

Pre-game preparation

  • Russians deploy hidden.

Russian Player (Defending)

Begins scenario with initiative.

Objective

Prevent the Germans breaking through to the west.

Forces Available

The Russians get an rifle company with supports.

Russian Order of Battle

  • 1 x Rifle Company
    • 1 x CC (+1)
      1 x HMG
      1 x on-table 50 mm Mortar (12 FM)
      1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1/0), 2 x Rifle Squads
      2 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1/0), 3 x Rifle Squads
  • with supports
    • 1 x HMG
      1 x on-table 76mm Infantry Gun (optional tow)
      1 x FO for off-table 82mm mortar [12 FM]
      1 x FO for off-table 120mm mortar [10 FM]
  • As many entrenchments as they want.
  • Russian PCs provide +1 in close combat but not for rallying.

Deployment

Deploys first, hidden. west of the line A-A.

Reinforcements

The Russians get both tank and aircraft as reinforcements.

Russian Order of Battle – Reinforcements

  • Russian tanks arrive at 1200 hours, all together, on any table edge:
    • 3 x T34/76
  • The Russian air reinforcements (see the Aircraft Special Rule):
    • 1 x Ilyushin IL-2 aircraft (4 x Light Bombs 4/2 SQ).

German Player (Attacking)

Objective

Breakthrough to the west.

Forces Available

An adhoc rifle battalion formed from a variety of units.

German Order of Battle

  • 1 x adhoc rifle battalion (Veteran)
    • 1 x BC (+2)
      2 x Rifle Squad
      1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1), 1 x Rifle Squad
    • 2 x Adhoc rifle company
      • 1 x CC (+2)
        1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1), 3 x Rifle Squad
        2 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1), 2 x Rifle Squad

Note:

  • Germans are Reckless in this scenario – see Scenario Special Rules.
  • There are no anti-tank weapons.

Deployment

Deploys second, east of the line A-A.

Reinforcements

The Germans get some air support

German Order of Battle – Reinforcementss

  • The German air reinforcements (see the Aircraft Special Rule):
    • 1 x Junkers Ju 87 Stuka aircraft (1 x Heavy Bomb 6/3 SQ; 2 x Medium Bombs 5/2 SQ).

Victory Conditions

Breakthrough objectives.

The game starts at 1000 hours and ends at 1400 hours or when all surviving Germans have exited the western table edge (line W-W).

The Germans get victory points (VP) as follows:

+1 for each Squad, BC and CC exiting the western edge (line W-W)

VPs Result
3 or less Decisive Russian Victory
4-9 Minor Russian Victory
10-15 Minor German Victory
16 or more Decisive German Victory

Scenario Special Rules

  • Special Rule 4, the Moving Clock is in use. The Scenario begins at 1000 hours and ends 1400 hours. The clock advances 30 minutes on 5+ at the end of each German initiative.
  • Fields are out of season (do not block LOS) but orchards are in season (as Woods).
  • German infantry count as Reckless, so like the Russians and Japanese, they ignore a Pin and are killed by a Suppress when charging to close combat.

Aircraft Special Rule

The skies over Tarnopol were thick with Aircraft. Fierce dog fights were common however at times the ground troops of both sides had air support. This rule tries to simply simulate this fluctuating situation.

Each side throws 1d6 for air support at the start of their own initiative (neither side has a modifier). On a 6 something happens:

  • If there is already an aircraft (of either side) over the table the aircraft is immediately driven off the table by enemy fighters. It or a replacement, however, can return in subsequent initiatives.
  • If there is no aircraft over the table then a plane friendly to the player whose initiative it is arrives over the table.

Once on-table aircraft act in a similar way to off table artillery. As with artillery fire, failure to suppress or kill with an aircraft’s attacks does not end the phasing player’s initiative.

Each plane has a certain number of bombs, of a certain potency (HE/EFF), plus machine guns for strafing. A plane’s bomb/rocket load is roughly analogous to the FM of artillery. Bombs/rockets are treated as indirect fire for Protective Cover and strafing with machine guns as direct fire. A plane can do one of the following each initiative it is on table:

  • Drop one or more of its remaining bombs (Dive Bombers can only drop one bomb per initiative)
  • Strafe with its machine guns

An aircraft may not engage the same target in two consecutive friendly initiatives.

For other related thoughts see my musings on Aircraft.

Notes

  • Accounts in Buchner (1995), not of the Tarnopol breakout, but of similar situations in other pockets, suggest the German assault forces were suicidal in attack. Driven on by fear of capture, and lacking heavy weapons, they used human wave tactics to break through. This is simulated by high morale (Veteran) and the classification of Reckless.

References

Buchner, A. (1995). Ostfront 1944: The German Defensive Battles on the Russian Front 1944 [D. Johnston Trans.]. PA: Schiffer.

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