Russian Recce – A Crossfire Scenario in Tarnopol

This Crossfire scenario is a Russian reconnaissance probe towards German held Tarnopol. It can be played as part of the 3 Round Tarnopol Crossfire Campaign but can also be played in isolation. See also the Battle Report.

Historical Situation

Setting: Tarnopol, Polish-Ukraine, USSR; 25 Mar 1944

See the Tarnopol page for the full history. You might also want to see the Battle Report.

Tarnopol was a German garrison town (4,600 men after reinforcements) about 40 km on the Polish side of the old Polish-Soviet border (Buchner, 1995). Its only defences were field fortifications within a 2-3 km radius of the city centre. The town was in a largely flat area, although a sprinkling of low hills, small woods, and villages dotted the plain.

The main Russian attacks on Tarnopol began on 23 Mar 1944 (Buchner, 1995). Russian tanks and infantry attacked from the north, south and east, but the defenders managed to fend the Russians off. The attacks continued the next day (24 Mar) but now included assaults on the western sector across the Seret as well. Both western suburbs were lost, Kutkowce permanently, but Zagrobela changed hands several times during the day and ended up in German control. Despite the relative lack of success of their attacks, by the evening of 24 Mar the Russians had four Rifle Divisions plus tanks, artillery and rocket launchers in place around the town.

On 25 Mar Oberst Friebe failed to reach Tarnopol with an armoured battle group from 8th Panzer Division (Buchner, 1995). The Russians continued to press Tarnopol even as Friebe approached. A Russian regiment deeply penetrated the eastern sector and was only evicted after much heavy fighting. During the evening the Germans in the northern sector saw off an attack by 17 tanks and escorting infantry. Simultaneously the defenders of Zagrobela in the west were mauled by a ferocious attack.

In the period 25-27 Mar the defenders could also see a steady flow of Russian reinforcements arriving, particularly in the west where the relief effort was foreseen (Buchner, 1995). The garrison experienced continuous artillery and mortar bombardment. Russian reconnaissance missions were frequent and increasing in number.

This scenario represents one of the many Russian reconnaissance patrols during this period.

Map/Terrain

Map produced in CC2

Key features are:

  • 4’x4′ table.
  • Woods, Orchards (in season), Fields (out of season), Rough, Crests,
  • Buildings, most of which are the eastern outskirts of Tarnopol, but one of which is a small (1 SQ) hut near the railway line.
  • A railway embankment – treat as a series of 1 foot crests.
  • Roads, one of which crosses over the railway embankment.
  • The Germans deploy west of the line G-G.
  • The Russians arrive on the table edge S-S.

Pre-game preparation

  • German player rolls for number of snipers.
  • Germans deploy hidden.

German Player (Defending)

Objective

Deny the Russians information about German positions, minimise own losses, and Inflict casualties on the Russians.

Forces Available

The remnants of 3rd Battalion, 4th SS-Volunteer Regiment (from Galizien Division) in company strength:

1 x CC (+1)
1 x HMG
1 x FO for off table 81 mm Mortar (8 FM)
1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1), 3 x Rifle
2 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1), 2 x Rifle

1d3 Snipers
Fortification package: 3 x wire, 1 x mine, 1 x bunker (1 SQ)
3 x Entrenchments

Morale: Regular

Deployment

Deploys first, hidden. west of the line G-G. The following features must be occupied at the start of the game:

  • The bunker.
  • All entrenchments.
  • Two buildings.

Reinforcements

None.

Russian Player (Attacking)

Begins scenario with initiative.

Objective

Locate German positions quickly, and with as few casualties as possible.

Forces Available

1 x Divisional Reconnaissance Company (Veteran)

1 x CC (+1)
3 x Scout Platoon: PC (+1/0), 3 x SMG

Command & Control: Adventurous (i.e. German)

Support Elements (Veteran)

1 x on-table 50mm Mortar (12 Smoke FM)
1 x FO for off table 82 mm Mortar (4 Smoke FM).
2 x HMG

Russian PCs provide +1 in close combat but not for rallying.

Deployment

Deploys second, moving on to the eastern table edge (S-S).

Reinforcements

None.

Victory Conditions

Recce and Casualty (AD) objectives.

The game starts at 0300 hours and ends at 0830 hours.

The Russians get victory points (VP) as follows:

  • 2 VP for spotting the German bunker
  • 1 VP for spotting each German entrenchment, wire, and/or mine section.
  • 1/2 VP for spotting each German stand of any type.
  • 1 VP for capturing a “Tongue” i.e. killing a German stand in close combat. (at most 1 VP no matter how many Germans are killed)
  • 1 VP for each PC or SMG squad that exits the German base edge (line B-B) – up to 4 VP.

And just so it isn’t all one sided:

  • -3 VP for each Russian SMG squad, CC, or HMG killed.
  • -1 VP for each Russian PC, mortar or FO killed.
VPs Result
-6.0 or less Decisive German Victory
-5.5 to +2.0 Minor German Victory
+2.5 to +10.0 Minor Russian Victory
+10.5 or more Decisive Russian Victory

Scenario Special Rules

  • Special Rule 4, the Moving Clock is in use. The Scenario begins at 0300 hours and ends 0830 hours. The clock advances 30 minutes on 4+ at the end of each German initiative.
  • For simplicity “spotted” for victory conditions means on table. German stands become visible in the normal ways, i.e. revealed by player, enemy moves into the same terrain feature, and RBF.
  • Russian Scouts RBF on 5+.
  • Fields are out of season (do not block LOS) but orchards are in season (as Woods).
  • The Railway Embankment is treated as a series of 1 foot long Crests.

Notes

  • This is based on our experience of Reconnaissance before Pontecorvo and my Russian Scouts scenario.
  • The Galicians were the only troops to lose heart during the siege, but they are SS and veterans, so on balance I’ve graded them as Regular.
  • You could try the night special rule. This would make the Russian’s job harder as they would only get one move action per stand per initiative.
  • You could also try the Revealing hidden squads on a One [Optional Rule]. This would make the Russian’ss job much harder.
  • We added the “Tongue” special rule after a play test of this and another of Russian Scouts were the Russians got 1/2 VP for spotting and +1/2 VP for killing German stands. The play tests both turned into blood baths. The Russians realise they’ve lost too many stands so then have to kill all the Germans to have a chance of winning or at least drawing. And that isn’t a reconnaissance.

References

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

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