Kamenets-Podosk – A Crossfire Scenario

A Crossfire scenario based on an incident as Soviet T34/76s approached Kamenets-Podosk on 24 Mar 1944. The tanks were carrying tank riders – men of the 1st Motor Rifle Battalion, 49th Mechanized Brigade, 6th Guards Mechanized Corps, 4th Tank Army. In command of 2nd Platoon, 1st Company was a Junior Lieutenant Evgeni Bessonov – who subsequently wrote a book about his experiences as a tank rider.

Historical Situation

Setting: Village outside Kamenets-Podosk, USSR; 24 Mar 1944

As the 49th Mechanized Brigade pushed toward Kamenets-Podosk, 1st Battalion encountered occasional pockets of German resistance. In one incident, early in the morning of 24 March 1944, the advancing column of T-34s with 1st Company as tank riders, plus supply vehicles and Studebaker trucks ran into German infantry and three tanks in a village. (Bessonov calls the German tanks “Tigers” and “Panthers” but they might have been anything.)The tanks of both sides opened up, along with the Brigade’s artillery battalion (76mm guns) firing over open sights. 1st and 2nd platoon dismounted as soon as the fire fight began and went to ground in the fields outside the village – only 100 m from the German positions. Despite enemy fire, Shakulo and Bessonov got the men up and assaulted the village. The Russian guns knocked out one German tank, a second was abandoned by its crew, and the remaining tank and surviving infantry fled as the Russians rushed amongst the buildings. The Russian tanks then knocked out the remaining German tank.

From noon until evening German ground attack aircraft hammered the Battalion and their supporting tanks. Bessonov’s platoon missed the worst of it, but other units suffered severe casualties. 1st company was reduced to about 32-37 men. Other companies were reduced to 10-15 men.

Bessonov was ordered to lead 3 tanks, and the remains of 1st Company, and a machine gun platoon towards Kamenets-Podolsk. (The much reduced Company could all ride on the 3 tanks.) The objective was to capture the outskirts and wait for the Brigade to arrive.

This scenario represents the initial encounter and capture of the village.


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

Map/Terrain

Key features are:

  • Village (delineated by the line A-A).
  • Fields outside the village. There should only be 1 foot of table from where the 1st company deploys to the edge of the village.
  • A road running up to the village and straight through.
  • Some, but not all, of the Soviet table edge must have visibility of the village.
  • Three terrain objectives marked with an X – nominally the Headman’s house, the Water Tower and the School.

Pre-game preparation

  • Germans plot hidden deployment.
  • Germans nominate which stands have panzerfaust, e.g. Red dot guy in 1st platoon of each company.

German Player (Defending)

Objective

Delay the Russian advance and inflict casualties, but bug out before taking too many casualties themselves.

Forces Available

The Germans have an under strength Leg Infantry Battalion plus a weak tank platoon.

German Order of Battle

  • Leg Infantry Battalion
    • 1 BC (+2)
    • 1 SMG Squad
    • 1 x FO for off table 120mm Mortar (10 FM)
    • 3 x Infantry Companies
      • 1 x CC (+1)
      • 1 x HMG
      • 1 x FO for off table 81 mm Mortar (12 FM)
      • 3 x Rifle Platoon: +1 PC, 2 x Rifle
      • 1 squad per company has early panzerfaust
    • Morale: Regular
  • Tank Platoon
    • 1 x Pz V Panther
    • 2 x Pz IV G or H
  • Total number of fighting stands: 32. Tanks count as two each.

Deployment

Deploys first within the village (delineated by line A-A). All stands can be hidden.

Reinforcements

None

Russian Player (Attacking)

Begins scenario with initiative.

Objective

Open the road to Kamenets-Podosk by capturing the village whilst sustaining as few casualties as possible.

Forces Available

The Russians have elements of 1st Motor Rifle Battalion (Senior Lt Kozienko). The rest of the battalion arrives as reinforcements.

Initial Russian Order of Battle

  • 1st Company (Jnr Lt Titov)
    • 1 x CC (+1)
    • 1 x HMG
    • 1 x on-table 50mm Mortar
    • 1st Platoon (Lt Shakulo): PC (+1/0), 2 x SMG
    • 2nd Platoon (Jnr Lt Bessonov): PC (+1/0), 2 x SMG
    • 3rd Platoon (Lt Gavrilov): PC (+1/0), 2 x SMG
    • Russian PCs provide +1 in close combat but not for rallying.
    • All SMG stands in 1st Company have anti-tank rifles.
    • Morale: Veteran
  • 6 x T34/76
  • Total number of fighting stands (including reinforcements): 43. Tanks count as two each.

Deployment

Deploys second. The company deploys along the road with the SMG platoons mounted on the tanks – one SMG (with optional PC) per tank. At least one tank must be deployed in LOS of the village.

Reinforcements

The remainder of 1st Motor Rifle Battalion arrives on-table as reinforcements. Starting with their second initiative, the Russian player rolls for the arrival of reinforcements each initiative. Throw on the following table to see what arrives in a particular initiative. Each reinforcement can only arrive once; if it is already on table and you throw the same result in a subsequent initiative, then nothing arrives that initiative.

1d6 Russian Reinforcements
1 – 2 Nothing this initiative
3
  • 2nd Company (Lt Gulik)
    • as 1st Company (without tanks)
4
  • 3rd Company (Lt Grigoriev)
    • as 1st Company (without tanks)
5
  • 1 x BC (+1) (Senior Lt Kozienko)
  • Heavy weapons company
    • 2 x HMG
    • 2 x FO for off table 82 mm mortars
    • 1 x 45/66 mm ATG with optional tow

The ATG can arrive on the table edge either limbered or unlimbered at the players discretion.

6
  • Brigade’s Field Gun Battalion
    • 1 x PC (+1)
    • 3 x on-table 76mm field gun with tow

These guys can arrive on the table edge either limbered or unlimbered at the players discretion.

The reinforcements are placed on the eastern table edge (B-B) at the start of the initiative. This is not a move, so cannot be the subject of reactive fire. Once they move from that position then normal reactive fire rules apply.

Victory Conditions

Terrain and Casualty (AD) objectives.

The game immediately finishes when either:

  • The German player elects to retreat or
  • When, at the end of any initiative, either side has less than 20 fighting stands * on table or in the reinforcement pool.

Victory is determined by how many fighting stands the two sides have remaining and how many terrain objectives each controls.

Russian outnumber Germans by *: Number of Terrain Objectives controlled:
Germans control 3 Each controls 1 or 2 Russians control 3
6 or more Draw Minor Russian Victory Major Russian Victory
3-5 Minor German Victory Draw Minor Russian Victory
2 or less Major German Victory Minor German Victory Draw

* Fighting stands including BC, CC, HMG, Rifle and SMG Squads, Tanks, Guns, but not PC or FOs. Tanks count as two fighting stands each.

A player controls a terrain objective if their stand occupies the feature or was the last to occupy it, and the feature is/was not physically contested by the enemy.

Scenario Special Rules

  • The German player can retreat at the start of any German initiative. The game ends immediately. All suppressed and pinned Germans stands are lost as casualties. All other stands are removed from the table, but are counted as survivors. Control of Terrain objectives is determined after the German stands are removed, so any contested features are considered under Russian control.
  • Fields are out of season: They provide protective cover to direct fire but not indirect fire. They do not block LOS.
  • Orchards are out of season, so count as rough ground not woods:

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 field gun +1 0 4/2 4 1 -2
T34-76 4/3 -1 0 4 4/2 3 +3
Early Panzerfaust -1 +1 0
Pz V Panther Jul43-EW 6/2 0 +2 4 4/2 Y 2 +3
Pz VI, Tiger I Aug42-EW 5/3 0 +2 4 5/2 Y 1 +3
Pz IV G 4/2 0 +1 4 4/2 2 +3

Notes

  • The German retreat option allows the German player to cut their losses and run.

And some open questions about this scenario – after all, it is still draft:

  • Are the victory conditions balanced?
  • Are the forces balanced?
  • Are there enough Germans to delay the advance and inflict enough casualties?
  • Do sufficient Russians survive the initial encounter?
  • Can the 1st company dismount without taking significant losses?
  • In particular does the German ability to retreat mean the German player has too much power in deciding the outcome?

References

Bessonov, E. (2003). Tank Rider: Into the Reich with the Red Army. London: Greenhill.

Evgeni Bessonov was a young Russian officer in a Tank Rider unit: 2nd Platoon, 1st Company, 1st Motor Rifle Battalion, 49th Mechanized Brigade, 6th Guards Mechanized Corps, 4th Tank Army. In two years of fighting he led his unit from the Orel Offensive (Aug 1943) to Berlin. This book is his own account of those years. This particular encounter is described on p. 65. See my notes on Bessenov’s book.

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