The third in our three game set of Operation Barbarossa. I’d already lost the set, so I was very keen to a void a clean sweep!
Table and Mission
The battle was set in the outskirts of Kiev, 1941 – the First Battle of Kiev, also know as the Kiev Defensive Operation. We selected point defence for the mission with the Soviets would be defending from the built up side. The objectives were the church yard on the far left, the government building in the centre, and the house of the far right flank. To win, the Germans would need to hold two or three objectives.
Again, no image of the forces. In the images of the battle, pretend like the men with SMGs have rifles, I don’t have enough! Also it’s a struggle for me to read the yellow on red order die, so if you can read them in the images (which is doubtful I think) they are very unlikely to be on the order that was actually issued.
Captain with two staff (Regular)
1st Lieutenant with two staff (Regular)
Three rifle squads, each with 12 men, one with AT grenades (Inexperienced)
Two LMG squads, each with 10 men and an LMG (Inexperienced)
Maxim MMG (Regular)
82mm Mortar (Regular)
Zis-3 AT gun (Regular)
1st Lieutenant with one staff (Veteran)
Four Heer squads, each with eight men and LMG (Regular)
Heer Pioneer squad with eight men, including flamethrower team (Veteran)
Two Hanomag halftracks (Inexperienced)
MG-42 MMG team (Regular)
Panzer III J (Regular)
I positioned one of the rifle squads without AT grenades behind the fence covering the church yard. In the central building I positioned my Maxim on the upper floor on the left, sniper on the upper floor on the right, Lieutenant on the stairs out of sight and one of the LMG squads on the ground floor. Finally on the far right I deployed my Zis-3 and the rest of my force was placed in reserve. The German preparatory bombardment failed to hit the Zis-3, but added two pins to all other units except my LMG squad, which only received one.
Order of Battle
I pulled the first die and immediately put the Zis-3 into ambush. I tried to do the same with the Maxim but it rolled double sixes – FUBAR! Luckily I rolled friendly fire and with no valid target it just went down. Then came the interesting move of one of the halftracks with a squad of Heer driving straight at my Zis-3. Springing my ambush, the Zis-3 hit and destroyed the halftrack, then rolled a maximum six hits on the unit inside, killing four of them! First blood to the Soviets thanks to some very questionable German tactics – more on that in the Aftermath. The rest of the turn was fairly uneventful. The rifle squad near the church yard failed their order test, likewise the Lieutenant so they both went down. The rest of the German force moved on: Heer squad on the far left, halftrack with pioneers on the left road, Panzer III behind that (it fired on the Maxim and managed three sixes in a row to score a wound with its hull MG), two Heer squads in the centre of the field (one moving through the wheat field, the other on the hill), then the MG42 and Lieutenant on the far right. Finally, my sniper took a long shot and hit the Heer in the field (centre left) but failed to kill the target.
Turn two and I brought my Captain on first to motivate the riflemen on the left. His support ensured they went into ambush when ordered. The Maxim also went into ambush. On the far right, the Germans moved up the MG42 and Lieutenant into the house. Meanwhile in the centre the two Heer squads ran into the houses opposite the government building. On the left the Heer advanced and engaged in a firefight with the riflemen opposite – with one of the riflemen being killed. The surviving halftrack advanced up the road and I pulled the next die to bring on my T-34 behind the government building, but with an angle on the halftrack. Which it promptly missed. Next die was me again and I went with the Zis-3. I considered the Heer in the building opposite, but decided to go with the long shot on the halftrack – which I hit and then, thanks to the +1 pen on side armour, destroyed! I again rolled six hits on the squad inside and again killed four! Things were not going well for the Germans. The Panzer III trundled up behind the wrecked halftrack and tried to pick off the Maxim again, without any success. I then brought on my remaining squads: rifle squad with AT grenades on the road of the left; mortar in the centre with spotter to the right behind the trees near the road; LMG squad between the mortar and spotter; and last rifle squad into the objective house on the far right. I also conducted some fire against the squad in the house in the centre on the right, scoring a single hit from my sniper but nothing from the LMG squad on the ground floor and no kills. Finally: the Heer that bailed out the halftrack ran up to the trees on the right but got caught in the open.
The Panzer III was up first turn three and zipped towards the T-34 and out of sight of the Zis-3. It shot wide and in return was struck by the T-34, but also to no effect. I opted to fire my Zis-3 on the unit in the right house but only scored a single hit with HE ammunition, killing the unlucky Heer. On the right the four man Heer squad ran forward and I opened up with my rifle squad in the house, killing two. The Heer in the right house then ran out towards the Zis-3. I lobbed a mortar shell at them, but missed, and then opened up with the LMG squad – killing five! In the building my Maxim and LMG squad went into ambush, expecting an assault from the remaining squad in the house. Meanwhile the sniper shot at the Heer in the house but failed to score a kill. On the left, the Pioneers and Heer ran into the church and the riflemen shot at them to no effect.
Turn four and the two Heer on the road assaulted the Zis-3, scoring only one kill. In response the Zis also scored one kill and a second round of the assault was fought. One kill a piece again saw the Heer dispatched but the Zis down to a single man. My rifle squad on the right opened up and finished off the other two man Heer squad, before the MG-42 ended my Zis-3. I repositioned my sniper to take on the MG and lobbed a mortar shell at it for good measure – but missed. On the left the Panzer III failed to do anything to the T-34 again, but in response this time the T-34 dealt it a crew stunned result. The Heer in the church assaulted the left most rifle squad and cut it down, but not without taking casualties. The Captain added to those losses with SMG fire. The remaining Pioneers then lit up the flamethrower and took on the other rifle squad on the left, but only scored a single hit! Rifle fire from the Pioneers further whittled down that squad, but they held firm and then proceeded to assault the Heer in the church yard. The Heer were eliminated, but only three riflemen remained. Finally, the Heer in the house knew they had to do something and ran left, with the Maxim and LMG team opening up as they repositioned, killing three and adding two pins.
Turn five and the T-34 scored the first dice and took out the Panzer III. I rallied my three riflemen into another assault, this time against the Pioneers in the Church. All three Pioneers were cut down and in response only two riflemen died with the last man standing keeping to the field. The last Heer squad ran into the church, which the Maxim peppered with rounds, scoring a couple of this but no kills. My two LMG squads ran across to the left while my rifles on the right shot at and scored a kill on the MG-42 team, which took out the mortar’s spotter. The mortar repositioned for a view on the MG.
Turn six and everything converged on the church. The Heer were whittled down to three men with five pins and went down. On the right the riflemen took out the MG-42, leaving only the Lieutenant at the back of the field.
We didn’t bother rolling for a turn seven because there were only five Germans left on the field and only the most impossible of odds that the battle would result in anything but a Soviet victory. So, just like the real battle, the Soviets held on for that bit longer!
I was very pleased to have taken an extra officer and my Zis-3 did a sterling job. I was very much aided by some questionable German tactics. Basically what my mate attempted to do was completely ignore the centre and split his forces into two, striking at the flanks. I was very surprised he decided to go head to head with the Zis. I expected the next units to come on to try overwhelm it, but they deployed on the other side of the field. He regretted his tactical decisions almost immediately and in hindsight would focus his entire strength on one objective. So a good game, but a very decisive Soviet victory to end the set.
It’s to be decided what we’ll be playing and when next time. We are waiting for our Perry Miniatures Battle in a Box to arrive so we can dive into the American Civil War – something I’m very much looking forward to. In the meantime I want to get my Prussian Landwehr done and some other Bolt Action things. Next post or two will likely be about things I have painted and terrain – notably the government building from this after action report. Happy wargaming!