SU-152s Up Close and Personal – A Crossfire Scenario in Tarnopol

This Crossfire scenario features Russian SU-152 Self Propelled Guns clearing the streets of Tarnopol. It can 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; 31 Mar – 9 Apr 1944

See the Tarnopol page for the full history.

After their successful break through in the south-east, the next major Russian effort was on 31 Mar 1944 (Buchner, 1995). After several hours of bombardment strong Russian forces attacked between the two Railway lines in the east. They broke through the defensive positions and pushed as far as the Railway Station. In the absence of reserves the defenders in the north and south were withdrawn to the town edge. By now the garrison was squeezed into a pocked 1 x 1.5 km, and was entirely within the confines of the town. Continuous heavy shelling resulted in the destruction of most of the town. The fighting had devolved into typical urban combat with small groups fighting for every street and house. Moniushko (2005), who passed through a couple of months later, said the Germans had converted the well built brick houses into pill-boxes.

In the first two days of April fighting was particularly heavy in the west and east-southeast (Buchner, 1995). On 1 Apr the Russians penetrated the positions of the veteran Demba Fusilier Battalion in the western suburb of Zagrobela. On 2 Apr the Demba Fusilier Battalion cleared the penetration and drove off two subsequent Russians attacks (infantry supported by tanks). The defenders were less successful elsewhere, being driven back in the east and southeast. The last German reserves were used to blunt a Russian push towards the centre of the town. 10 Russian tanks were destroyed in the process. On 3 Apr the Russians tried and failed again. By this stage Stuka dive bombers were acting as flying artillery, hitting Russian troop concentrations around the town. On 4 Apr the Russians attacked again, forcing the defenders to shorten their perimeter further. On 5 Apr several more Russian assaults was repulsed. On 6-8 Apr there was some respite with the Russians contenting themselves to small raids.

On 9 Apr the four surrounding Russians divisions attacked in unison after a bombardment lasting several hours (Buchner, 1995). The defenders succeeded in seeing off the attacks in the north and west, but had to shorten their lines to cope with Russian penetrations in the east and south. The Russians used direct fire from anti-tank guns, light artillery and the massive SU-152 assault guns (Moniushko, 2005) to destroy the German strong points.

This scenario could represent any of the actions fought within the town itself between 31 Mar and 9 Apr 1944. The scenario features the railway station so could be the action of 31 Mar.

Map Tarnopol

Tarnopol near the Station

Map/Terrain

Key features are:

  • 3’x2′ table
  • Buildings, lots of them, all of them 3″x3″ to match Generic Building Sectors on an Urban Grid
  • Russians deploy east of the line R-R
  • Germans can deploy barricades anywhere west of the line R-R, outside a building sector; they are visible
  • Otherwise Germans deploy west of the line G-G, hidden
  • All intact and adjacent building sectors count as being part of a building complex
  • Some building sectors count as bunkers.

Pre-game preparation

Before the game starts:

  1. Germans roll for number of snipers
  2. Germans designate 3 building sectors as bunkers
  3. Germans deploy anti-tank barricades visible
  4. Germans deploy hidden

German Player (Defending)

Objective

Defend the railway station and prevent Russian advance past the railway line.

Forces Available

German Orbat
Scratch defenders of the Railway Station

  • 1d3 Snipers
  • 1 x FO for off table 120 mm Mortars (6 FM)
  • 1 x 5.0cm PAK 38 Anti-tank Gun, with optional tow
  • 1 x Rifle Company:
    • 1 x CC (+2)
    • 1 x HMG
    • 1 x FO for off table 81 mm Mortar (6 FM)
    • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+2), 2 x Rifle
    • 2 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1), 3 x Rifle
    • One Rifle squad in the company has a Panzershreck
  • Fortifications
    • 1 x Minefield
    • 3 x Anti-tank Barricades – see Special Rules
    • 3 x Bunker (2 SQ) – fortified building sectors
  • Morale: Regular
  • Command & Control: Good, i.e. German

Deployment

Deploys first. Germans can deploy barricades anywhere west of the line R-R, outside a building sector; they are visible. Otherwise Germans deploy west of the line G-G, hidden.

Reinforcements

German ground reinforcements arrive after 0800 hours.

  • 1 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+2), 2 x Rifle (Veteran), One squad has a Panzershreck
  • 1 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 railway station and advance further into the city.

Forces Available

Elements of 13th Army.

Soviet Orbat

  • 1 x FO for off-table 120 mm Mortar (10 FM)
  • 1 x FO for off-table 82 mm Mortar (12 FM)
  • 1 x HMG
  • 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, one with ATR
    • 2 x Rifle Platoon: PC (+1/0), 3 x Rifle Squads, one with ATR
  • 1 x Assault Engineer Platoon:
    • 1 x PC (+1/0)
    • 3 x Assault Engineer Rifle Squads, one with ATR
  • 2 x SU-152
  • Morale: Regular
  • Command & Control: Poor, i.e. Soviet

Note: Russian PCs get +1 for close combat but not for rallying.

Deployment

Deploys second. All Russians deploy visible east of the line R-R.

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 and Casualty (D) objectives

The game ends immediately in a:

  • Russian victory if Russians gain six (or more) victory points (VP). VP are awarded for control of certain building sectors. 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. All objectives start in German control.

    • +1 Control of each building sector in the Railway station
    • +1 Control of each building sector west of the Railway line.
  • German victory if the Russian lose 10 casualty points (CP):

    • +1 Each lost Squad, HMG, or CC (but not PC or FO)
    • +2 Each lost AFV

Scenario Special Rules

  • Special Rule. A variation on Clock Ticks is in use. The games starts at 0600 hours. The Clock advances 1d6 x 3 minutes at the end of each German initiative (e.g. on a roll of 2 on 1d6 then 2 x 3 = 6 minutes passes on the clock). German reinforcements arrive after 0800 hours.
  • Before the game starts the German player gets to designate three building sectors as bunkers.
  • Direct fire HE (e.g. SU-152) firing at stands in buildings do not suffer the -1d6 for protective cover. They do, however, suffer the 6 to hit penalty for bunkers.
  • Treat Anti-tank Barricades as a 1 squad capacity building sector; they provide protective cover, block LOS, and are impassable to vehicles.
  • Building sectors (anti-tank barricades, normal building sectors, bunkers) can be destroyed by direct fire HE (i.e. from an SU-152):
    • The building sector must be targeted as opposed to any occupants.
    • Anti-tank barricades require 4 hits to destroy; normal building sectors and bunkers require 6 hits.
    • As usual a 5-6 is a hit on a normal building (or anti-tank barricade) and a 6 is a hit on a bunker.
    • The Hits may be cumulative, over a number of shots and/or initiatives.
    • If a direct fire attempt at a building sector causes 0 or 1 hit, then initiative is lost; 2 or more hits means the shooter retains initiative.
    • If the barricade is occupied (whether the occupants are visible or hidden) then kill effect rules similar to destroying vehicles with passengers apply. If there are 3+ hits on the barricade in one shot, a number of occupants are suppressed depending on the HE/EFF of the firing weapon.
    • Destroyed anti-tank barricades are removed from the table, but destroyed normal buildings sectors and bunkers are replaced by a rough ground feature of the same size, presenting rubble.
  • All intact building sectors, and hence intact anti-tank barricades, are impassable to vehicles.
  • All intact and adjacent building sectors count as being part of a building complex. Remember that movement between adjacent building sectors within a building complex never attracts reactive fire.

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, simply.

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 a friendly bomber over the table the bomber is immediately driven off the table by enemy fighters. It or a replacement, however, can return in subsequent initiatives, but any bombs that have been used are gone for good.
  • If there is already an enemy bomber over the table the bomber is immediately driven off the table by friendly fighters. It or a replacement, however, can return in subsequent initiatives, but any bombs that have been used are gone for good.
  • If there is no aircraft over the table then a friendly bomber 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
Panzershreck -1 +2 2
5.0 cm Pak38 +1 -1 2/1 1 -2
StuG III G 4/2 -1 +1 4 4/2 N +2
SU-152 43-44 5/3 0 +2 0 5/3 N 1 +2

Notes

  • I assume the Germans would have been running out of artillery ammunition by that stage of the siege.
  • I also assume the defenders are made up of a mixture of units formed into adhoc platoons.
  • I assume Soviet spotter planes would have seen the anti-tank barricades before the attack goes in.
  • Moniushko (2005) mentions SU-152 being used against barricades in Poland and German, and I have allowed for this here as well.
  • There are 12 building sectors that award victory points. Half of them are in the railway station. They only reason for this is to force the Germans to defend more than just the railway station. Obviously, with six VP, the station will be the focus for both sides.
  • Used my Generic Building Sectors.

References

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

Moniushko, E. D. (2005). From Leningrad to Hungary: Notes of a Red Army soldier, 1941-1946 (O. Sheremaet, Trans; D. M. Glantz, Ed.). Frank Cass.

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