German Defence in Depth – A Crossfire Scenario

This is a generic Crossfire scenario based on the early to mid war Battalion level defence given in German Field Fortifications 1939-45 by Rottman (2004, p. 49-51). It assumes both battalion and regiment are up to strength and deployed in depth.

Historical Situation or Mission

Setting: 1943; Eastern Front

Still very draft and still TODO:

  • Soviet Attack Doctrine
  • Soviet Order of Battle
  • Victory conditions
  • Special Rules
  • Weapons notes

German Defensive Doctrine

The Germans viewed a battalion as the building block of any defence (Rottman, 2004). A battalion would deploy on a frontage 800-2,000 m wide. If possible all three companies would deploy on defensible terrain (e.g. high ground).

The Outpost were several hundred metres in front of the main battle line (Rottman, 2004). Typically this would be the third platoon from each forward company. Although not intended to strongly resist, they were often accompanied by a heavy machine gun platoon, and would be supported by mortar and artillery fire from the main position . The squads deployed in a thin line across the company frontage. The purpose of the Outpost was to stop sudden enemy attacks, and to take prisoner or destroy with small enemy detachments that sough to probe the main battle line (Sharp, 1998). Their orders were to engage the an enemy attack at long range then withdraw under cover to prepared positions in the main battle line.

The core defenders of the the main battle line were two rifle companies (Rottman, 2004). Any attached regimental assets (typically a platoon of 7.5 cm infantry guns and one or two anti-tank gun platoons) were deployed here. Similarly the heavy machine gun platoons were usually here, although one platoon might be with the outpost or reserve. The Outpost platoons would retire to the main battle line once before seriously engaged by the enemy. Each forward company might have one or two mortars from the heavy weapons company. The forward observers were certainly forward with the rifle companies.

Anti-tank weapons were deployed where the enemy tanks were likely to approach (Rottman, 2004). The Germans classified terrain into three categories: armour feasible, armour risky, and armour proof i.e. impassable (e.g. dense forest, swamps, marshes, deep mud, rock fields, gullies, steep slopes, railroad embankments or cuts). The anti-tank weapons typically engaged at about 150-300 m despite any theoretical maximum range; of course infantry anti-tank weapons such as the panzerfaust had much shorter ranges. Smoke was often used to disorient enemy armour (Bull, 2005). It was common practice to fire smoke 1/3 of the way back from the lead tank to isolate the leaders from their companions, but to also leave them exposed to anti-tank fire.

Minefields were in the main battle line and at intersections and chock points on roads (Rottman, 2004). Similarly anti-tank ditches were in the main battle line and was used to constrict the approach of armour.

The reserve of one rifle company was 100-300 m behind the main battle line (Rottman, 2004). If the forward companies were pushed back, the reserve would counter-attack. If the forward companies were penetrated but still intact, the reserve company would act as a blocking force – this might require some manoeuvring. Similarly, some manoeuvring might be necessary if the neighbouring battalion was penetrated and the reserve company had to be redeployed to defend a flank. Counter-attacks were launched at the earliest opportunity.

Soviet Attack Doctrine

TODO

Map/Terrain

Table German Defence in Depth

Table German Defence in Depth

Key features are:

  • The map is based on that in Rottman (2004, p. 51).
  • It represents an area 1,500 m by 2,400 m, i.e. a ground scale of 1:1000 scale.
  • The table is divided into five defensive sectors: Outpost (Left and Right), Main Battle Line (Left and Right), and Reserve. Plus the attacker sector.
  • On the table we’ve got woods, rough ground, contour lines, crests, a stream, roads, and buildings.
  • The attacker comes on the right (eastern) table edge.

Pre-game preparation

Germans deploy hidden.

Soviets get pre-planned bombardment (PPB)

German Player (Defending)

Objective

Retain control of the area they are defending (main battle line and reserve sectors).

Forces Available

The Germans have a Leg Infantry Battalion.

German Order of Battle

  • 1 BC (+2)
  • 1 SMG Squad
  • 3 x FO for off table 75mm IG (unlimited FM)
  • 3 x FO for off table Heavy Artillery (unlimitedFM)
  • 3 x FO for off table 120mm Mortar (unlimitedFM)
  • 1 x 75 mm Pak40 Anti-tank Gun (optional tractor)
  • 3 x Infantry Companies
    • 1 x CC (+2)
    • 2 x HMG
    • 1 x FO for off table 81 mm Mortar (unlimited FM)
    • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+2), 3 x Rifle, one with ATR
    • 2 x Rifle Platoons: PC (+1), 3 x Rifle, one with ATR
  • Morale: Regular
  • Command & Control: Good, i.e. German

Deployment

Deploys first.

One infantry company must be deployed in each of:

  • Main Battle Line (Left)
  • Main Battle Line (Right)
  • Reserve

The company in the Left Main Battle Line may deploy one platoon (some or all) forward into the Left Outpost sector. Similarly for the company in the Right Main Battle Line to the Right Outpost.

Reinforcements

None.

Russian Player (Attacking)

Begins scenario with initiative.

Objective

Push the Germans out of their main battle line.

Forces Available

The Soviets get ??

Soviet Order of Battle

  • 2 x Rifle battalions each with two companies on table at a time.
  • Use the Human Wave Special Rule to replace an on table company with the reserve company in each battalion.

Deployment

Deploys second.

Reinforcements

None.

Victory Conditions

Terrain and Casualty (AD) objectives

TODO: probably only Terrain, i.e. sectors.

Each sector of the German deployment (outpost [9], MBL-Left [15], MBL-Right [15], Reserve [11]) can be contested, dominated, or secured. The status of a sector depends on the number of features each side controls in the sector. A side dominates a sector if it controls at least twice as many features in the sector than the enemy. A side has secured a sector if it controls all of the features in the sector. A contested sector is neither dominated nor secure.

Control of a feature means the feature is uncontested, and one side either occupies the feature or was the last to occupy the feature. Contested terrain objectives earn no VP for either side; single sector building objectives can not be contested, but larger buildings can. A contested feature has stands from both sides within it.

TODO: When does the game end? Probably moving clock.

At the end of the game Victory Points (VP) are awarded to each side as follows:

Sector Germans
Secure
Germans
Dominate
Contested Russians
Dominate
Russians
Secure
Outpost 15 10 G=5; R=0 0 5
MBL-Left 20 15 0 15 20
MBL-Right 20 15 0 15 20
Reserve 20 15 G=0; R=5 15 20

All sectors start the game secured by the Germans.

Scenario Special Rules

  • HTD Special Rule 4: The Moving Clock is in use. The Scenario begins at 2400 hours and ends 0800 hours. The clock advances 30 minutes on 5+ at the end of each defender initiative.
  • HTD Special Rule 1: Night fighting is in use during between 2400 and 0500 hours. Stands are limited to one move action per initiative. A stand that is in cover and has not yet fired during the scenario may not be fired at, except form within the same terrain feature. A stand in the open is fired at normally. All stands get the direct fire cover bonus, regardless of where they are located.
  • HTD Special Rule 5: Bogging down is in use. Tanks bog down in woods, rough ground, rock fields, boulder fields, streams, and anti-tank obstacles (ditches, barricades) on 4- on 1d6. They unbog on 5+, becoming permanently mired on 1.
  • Human Wave Tactics (see below)
  • Soviet Armour Command and Control (see below)

Human Wave Tactics

Human Wave Tactics are another rule from Hit the Dirt. Basically it is a mechanism to replace an entire infantry battalion (or company or platoon) during the player’s initiative. This is the only action that player may take during his initiative. The process goes like this:

1. The phasing player removes all the stands of the unit from the table.
2. The phasing player declares the path each platoon of the replacement unit will trace from the deployment zone to a destination point. Both the destination point and route to it must be:

  • Within the area of the table the phasing player has been before.
  • Outside LOS of enemy.

3. This continues until the phasing player has redeployed his entire unit.

Any surviving higher level assets are removed from the table along with a Battalion Wave being replaced, however, they are immediately attached to the subsequent wave and are moved on-table again as above. FOs must be allocated to specific CCs or PCs within the Battalion Wave.

Soviet Armour command and control

Soviet armour can group move and must obey the same Command and Control restrictions as the Soviet infantry, i.e. any move must start and end within sight of the relevant PC. Soviet armour cannot group fire. If the PC is killed, another tank can replace them (as normal), however, none of the platoon may take an action in the initiative the replacement happens.

Weapon stats

Type When ARM ACC PEN MG HE/EFF Smoke HD Spd CC Comment
Anti-Tank Rifle -1 -3 0
45 mm ATG +1 -1 1/1 1 -2
76 mm ATG +1 0 4/2 1 -2
KV-1 6/3 0 0 4 4/2 1 +3
T34-76 4/3 -1 0 4 4/2 3 +3
7.5 cm Pak40 +1 +1 4/2 1 -2
Pz IV G 4/2 0 +1 4 4/2 2 +3
251/9 half-track with 75mm IG 1/1 0 +1 4 4/2 3 +1
251/1 Half-track 1/1 4 3 +1

Notes

None.

References

Bull, S. (2004). World War II Infantry Tactics: Squad and Platoon [Elite 105]. Osprey.

Bull, S. (2005). World War II Infantry Tactics: Company and Battalion [Elite 122]. Osprey.

Gajkowski, M. (1995). German Squad Tactics in WWII. Pisgah, Ohio: Nafziger Collection Inc.

Sharp, C. S. (1998). Soviet Infantry Tactics in WWII: Red Army Infantry Tactics from Squad to Rifle Company from the Combat Regulations. George Nafziger.

Rottman, G. L. (2004). German Field Fortifications 1939-45 [Fortress 23]. Osprey.

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