Push to the City – A Crossfire Scenario in Tarnopol

This Crossfire scenario represents the pivotal Russian assault that broke the men of the German 949th Grenadier Regiment at Tarnopol on 28 Mar 1944, and the counter-attacks that followed. 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; 28 Mar 1944

See the Tarnopol page for the full history.

From 23 to 27 Mar 1944 four Russian divisions attacked the 4,600 Axis defenders of Tarnopol (Buchner, 1995). In their field fortifications outside the city the garrison managed to hold off the Russian advance, although fighting was fierce and positions swapped hands several times. A relief effort on 25 Mar by Battlegroup Friebe failed to reach the city, and in fact did not even distract the Russians in their own attacks on the garrison.

The next Russian attack began on 28 Mar with a 2 hour bombardment (Buchner, 1995). A Russian Rifle Division, supported by tanks, artillery and close support aircraft soon followed, attacking the young soldiers of 949th Grenadier Regiment in the south-eastern sector. The 2nd Battalion broke and was heavily mauled. Counter-attacks could not evict the Russians.

On 29 Mar another German counter-attack failed to pinch off the Russian penetration in the southeast and the defenders were forced to withdraw to the edge of the city (Buchner, 1995). The same day the Russians penetrated positions of the 949th Grenadier Regiment along Access Road IV.

This scenario represents the pivotal assault which broke the men of the 949th Grenadier Regiment on 28 Mar 1944, and the counter-attacks that followed.

Map/Terrain

Table Push to the City Scenario

Table Push to the City Scenario


Key features are:

  • 6’x4′ table
  • A sprinkling of low hills, crests, depressions, small woods, orchards (in season), rough, fields (out of season), and buildings (2 SQ capacity)
  • The north-western table edge is the outskirts of Tarnopol
  • The four terrain objectives are marked with an X (two hills and two buildings)
  • The line S-S is the Soviet front line
  • The line G-G is the German front line
  • The line R-R is where the German ground reinforcements arrive

Pre-game preparation

Before the game starts:

  1. The German player must decide if his 3.7cm ATG is equipped with Steilgranate 41
  2. Germans roll for number of snipers
  3. Germans assign infantry anti-tank weapons to squads
  4. Germans plot hidden deployment
  5. Russian conduct Pre-Planned Bombardment (6 FM)

German Player (Defending)

Objective

Hold the terrain objectives, and keep the Russians out of the city. Failure means you will be forced back to the city itself.

Forces Available

The Germans have elements of 949th Grenadier Regiment

German Order of Battle
Elements of 949th Grenadier Regiment

  • 1d3 Snipers
  • 1 x FO for off table Heavy Artillery (3 FM)
  • 1 x Rifle Company
    • 1 x CC (+2)
    • 1 x HMG
    • 1 x FO for off table 81 mm Mortar (8 FM)
    • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+2), 3 x Rifle
    • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1), 3 x Rifle
    • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1), 2 x Rifle
  • One squad has a Panzershreck
  • Anti-tank unit (Regular)
    • 1 x 5.0cm PAK 38 Anti-tank Gun, with optional tow
    • 1 x 3.7cm PAK 36 Anti-tank Gun, with optional tow
  • 2 x Minefields
  • 3 x Wire
  • 1 x Bunker (1 SQ)
  • As many entrenchments as they want
  • Morale: Green
  • Command & Control: Okay, i.e. Commonwealth

Deployment

Deploys first. One minefield can be deployed between the Soviet (S-S) and German (G-G) lines, but if it is, it must be visible. All other troops and fortifications must be deployed to the north-west of line G-G. The bunker, wire and one minefield must be visible. The other minefield and all troops are deployed hidden.

Reinforcements

The Germans get both ground and air reinforcements.

German Order of Battle – Reinforcements

  • German ground reinforcements arrive at 1200 hours.
    • 1 x Weakened Rifle Company
      • 1 x CC (+2)
      • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+2), 2 x Rifle
      • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1), 2 x Rifle
      • One squad has a Panzershreck
      • Morale: Veteran
      • Command & Control: Good, i.e. German
    • 2 x StuG III G
  • 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).

Russian Player (Attacking)

Begins scenario with initiative.

Objective

Take the Terrain objectives, which will form the jump off point for breaking into the city. .

Forces Available

The attack is by elements of 13th Army.

Russian Order of Battle
Elements of 13th Army

  • Pre-planned bombardment (6 FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table 120 mm Mortar (10 FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table 82 mm Mortar (12 FM)
  • 2 x Rifle Companies
    • 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, one with ATR
    • 2 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1/0), 3 x Rifle Squads, one with ATR
  • 3 x T-34/76
  • Russian PCs get +1 for close combat but not for rallying.
  • Morale: Regular
  • Command & Control: Poor, i.e. Russian

Deployment

Deploys second.

Reinforcements

  • The Russian air reinforcements (see the Aircraft Special Rule):
  • 1 x Tupolev Tu-2 aircraft (5 x Heavy Bombs 6/3 SQ)

Victory Conditions

Terrain objectives

The game starts at 0800 hours and ends at 1600 hours. The Russians win if they control more terrain objectives at the end of the game, otherwise it is a German victory. Control means the objective is uncontested, and the player either has a stand in the feature, or was the last to have a stand in a feature. Three objectives start in German control and one in Russian control.

Scenario Special Rules

  • HTD Special Rule 4. The Moving Clock is in use. The scenario starts at 0800 hours and ends at 1600. The clock advances one hour a 5+ on one die rolled at the end of each German initiative. German reinforcements arrive at 1200 hours.
  • Direct fire HE (e.g. tanks) firing at stands in structures do not suffer the -1d6 for protective cover. They do, however, suffer the 6 to hit penalty for bunkers
  • Stands in an entrenchment or bunker get +1 to morale for rally (in addition to the +1 for enemy out of sight)
  • Before the game starts the German player must decide if his 3.7cm ATG is equipped with Steilgranate 41, thus changing its factors. The gun uses this ammunition (or not) for the entire game.

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 simulate this fluctuating situation in a simple fashion.

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.

Weapon stats

Type When ARM ACC PEN MG HE/EFF Smoke HD Spd CC Comment
Anti-Tank Rifle -1 -3 0
76.2mm IG +1 -2 4/2 3 1 -2 Regimental Gun
T34-76 4/3 -1 0 4 4/2 N 3 +3 2 man turret
Panzershreck -1 +2 2
StuG III G 4/2 -1 +1 4 4/2 N +2
3.7cm PaK 35/36 ATG 37-43 +1 -3 1/1 1 -2
3.7cm PaK 35/36 ATG using Steilgranate 41 42-43 -1 +3 2/1 1 -2 Subject to reactive fire when Direct firing itself
5.0cm PaK 38 ATG Apr40-44 +1 -1 2/1 0.5 -2

Notes

  • The German artillery and mortars have slightly limited ammunition, but more ammunition than later in the siege.
  • The Orbats are intended for standard Hidden rules from Crossfire. If you use the “Reveal-on-1” rule then you’ll have to cut back the German defenders, i.e. drop a platoon from the initial forces.
  • The 949th Grenadier Regiment was made up of young, relatively untrained troops. Their morale was dodgy until they were hardened to battle. This is the reason they’ve been given Green morale. You could consider giving them additional disadvantages, such as a break point based on casualties, i.e. Casualty (D) objectives.

References

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

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