Advanced Squad Leader scenario AP141 Currie’s Favor After Action Report (AAR)

Advanced Squad Leader scenario AP141 Currie’s Favor After Action Report (AAR)

Scenario Background

We now open up to another chapter in Action Pack 14, this time arriving in St. Lambert-Sur-Dives, France, 19 August 1944.  The famous Falaise pocket was drawing close and German forces redoubled their efforts to escape.  One such exit was around this village by the river Dives.  The Canadian 4th Armored Division under Major Currie sped onsite to take care of the issue.  

Credit : War History Online
DK Completel Atlas of the World - Northern France
Excerpt: DK The Complete Atlas of the World 3e

Victory Conditions and Tactical Considerations

There’s a little town square in the middle of board 12a.  The Canadians win at the end of any turn if they can capture as many building/ rubble hexes as the prevailing Turn Number (after Turn 3).  The Canadians attacked at dusk and hence there’s a +1 Low Visibility hindrance for the first 2 turns.  The Germans are offered certain SW purchases and we went with a LMG, a MMG and a PSK.  They also have a 81 MTR and an 88L AA gun.  The Canadians come with a pair of Sherman V’s laden with a lot of smoke and WP plus a trio of Stuarts V’s packing smoke and cannister (C6).  There are 5.5 turns and Bocages are in play.  

The Canadians can come in from the right and the bottom edge.  I don’t have enough forces to spread around and can really only strive to block off the closest routes.  As such the “tank” at the top of the map is a dummy.  I also have an 81 MTR at the back (left) of the buildings which I completely mismanaged.  Somehow I thought it will discourage Canadian armor from coming to the back (left) side those buildings.  The thing here though, is that double layer of buildings will cut down on encirclement opportunities.  I situated the 88 close to the town center to cover 3 of the road approaches.  

After Action Report

Advanced Squad Leader scenario AP141 Currie's Favor After Action Report 01

Sure enough, the Canadians didn’t go for the top right corner.  They approached largely from the right side of the map with a small flanking force from the bottom.  Unfortunately we couldn’t get any effective shots to land, partly due to the dice and the rest due to the +1 LV.  A Canadian WP broke the 9-1 and a CH sent the PSK team flying as well.  The 88 and the accompanying infantry put up a bit more fight but ended up with a Stuart on top of it.  

The bottom part of the map fared no better.  A squad moved off to cover the 88 and a HS failed its PAATC when it came time to Streetfight a passing Stuart!  The Canadians made it right up to the buildings at the end of Turn 2.  This was not going to end well.Advanced Squad Leader scenario AP141 Currie's Favor After Action Report 02

A German 468 risked Backblast and took out the Stuart sitting on the 88, unfortunately they rolled too low and got K/‘d as well.  It’s the price to pay I guess.  We need the Canadians to hit their 20 CVP cap.  The other Stuart got to the (left) back of our buildings and took out our big mortar.  Quite honestly I messed that one up, to think an 81 MTR could pose a plausible threat to AFVs.  The “double layered” buildings protected us from getting Encircled but we said goodbye to having DM’s taken off.  The Canadians were already in town and we didn’t have the firepower to take them out.  Plus we withdrew quicker than we should and that proved to be our undoing.  

Advanced Squad Leader scenario AP141 Currie's Favor After Action Report 03

The Canadian got 4 building hexes around the Town Center at Turn 4 .. and we only had 1 squad (under the -2 Acq) who couldn’t not mount an effective counterattack.  The Germans conceded.  We failed to control the tempo of the battle.  

How is this Scenario Interesting?

The Victory Condition makes this scenario interesting : “Provided the Germans have amassed ≦ 20 CVP, at least as many building/rubble hexes adjacent to the “town square” as the current Turn number.”  So the Canadians need to strike a balance between pushing to get to the town square with time to spare vs losing too many units.  The Germans also need to balance their desire to kill Canadian units versus contracting & consolidating their strength and always releasing a town square hex “too late”.  

The German SW purchases also adds a layer of variability to the scenario.  The H/MMGs will make a difference at early stages of the game, although the abundance of Bocages make efficient use of Firelanes problematic.  The DCs and the PSK will be useful towards the end.  

This is actually a small and manageable scenario for when you don’t have a lot of time.  The turn by turn tension makes this an exciting proposition.  Another interesting bit is that this is really the first part of the battle.  The next scenario: AP142 The Closer describes the subsequent waves of Germans trying to break out of the Falaise Pocket through this village.  (We are playing AP142 right now.)

Interesting Stories about this Battle

“Cork in the Bottle – Canadian and Poles at the Falaise Gap” from Legion

“The Canadian Mechanic Who Sealed off the Falaise Pocket & Trapped over 50,000 Germans” from War HIstory Online

Advanced Squad Leader War Stories

Advanced Squad Leader War Stories

We were chatting with Witchbottles on ASL Discord today and he brought up a few outstanding war stories.  

Story#1: Overrunning with a Mk VIB

MkvibPziiid

I overran with a Mk VI B tank on a Crew Exposed Pz III crew that missed their initial shot, missed their ROF (rate of fire) shot and broke his MA on an Intensive Fire shot as the Mk VI B rolled over a wall and onto the road to OVR the exposed crew, then out the back. Stunned them too!!!

Story #2: A Tank Busting Buda

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My best was in a game of FB14 At the Narrow Passage, when a Buda Volunteer Regiment 7-0 with a DC waltzed out into the street behind a stopped Mk IV, it turned its VCA and fired MGs, NMC, 2.3 DR , pass, it fired its MA, Hit, 1 MC, 2,2 DR, Pass, fired its IF MA, hits, NMC, 2,1, DR, pass, then Mr Buda placed the DC on the tank, and placement DR in the AFPh was optimal and WHOOM!! on a 1,2 DR, up goes said Panzer in flames, while Mr Buda advanced back into the building and said nonchalantly…. ” THAT, gentlemen, is how you blow up a tank….”

Story #3: Stalin’s Nephew

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The other good one was in a Festung Budapest CG III. A Russian 8-0 took a 24 flat shot from a concealed FT, rolled 1,1 DR and battle hardened into a 8-1. He then advanced into CC in the next turn with a BU StuG. Threw a 1,1 DR and bye bye StuG. A HMG took a shot at him in his next turn, he turned Heroic on another 1.1 DR from a 2MC.

Later on as the Hungarian defenses were falling, Stalin’s nephew led a pair of 5-2-7s in as an assault team on the last 9-2 led MG nest…..

What are some of your war stories?  Let us hear them in the Comments!

Paul Weir : Did the 1st SS at The Battle of the Bulge have any Tiger Is?

One of the rockstars in the GameSquad ASL forums is the resident armor super-genius human Chapter H, Mr. Paul M. Weir. Mr. Weir has gratefully allowed the publication of his posts here.

pzvibThe Tiger II that accompanied 1SS belonged to 101/501 SS sPz Abt (heavy tank detachment). 101st got renumbered to 501st about Sept. ’44. 501st was a corps level unit (1ss Pz Korps), though originally built around the former 13th sPz Komp of 1SS Pz Rgt (1SS Pz Div). At full strength 501 had a HQ of 3 Tiger II and 3 14 Tiger II companies for a total of 45. At the start of Wacht am Rhein only 30 of the 45 took part in the initial offensive, the remaining 15 arrived after Peiper’s drive had long died, due to transport difficulties.

1SS had a Pz Regt with 2 Abteilungen (detachments/battalions). The 1st Abt should have had 76 Panthers and the 2nd 76 or 96 Pz IV with 3 Panthers and 5 Pz IV in Regt HQ. The Germans were only able to scrape up close to 37 Panthers and 34 Pz IV. That was sufficient for an Abt HQ (3 Panthers) and 2 each 2 companies of 17 Panther/Pz IV respectively. I can’t be arsed to check but I think it was 1st & 2nd (Pz IV) and 6th & 7th (Panther) that made up 1 Pz Abt. So they only had a single Abt’s worth of their own tanks and were loaned 501 SS SPz Abt to stand in for the missing 2 Pz Abt. 1SS Pz Div also had 21 Pz IV/70 aka JgPz IV L/70 but no StuGs, Marders, Wespes or Hummels. They did have SP 7.5cm (SdKfz 251/9) and 15cm sIG 33 on SdKfz 138/1 Grille.

pzvie1SS did get issued a company’s worth of Tiger I early in ’43, I think just during/after 3rd Kharkov. These were used through Kursk and until 1SS got sent home and rebuilding. The genesis of 101 SS sPz dates to the removal of 1SS, for West rebuilding, diverted to Italy. The 3 SS Pz divisions each had a Tiger I company but as 1SS and 2SS were withdrawn 3SS Totenkopf was the only one to retain Tiger I. Totenkopf and the Heer’s Grossdeutchland were the only divisions to finish the war with any type of Tigers and also both Tiger I not II. So 1SS had not had any Tiger on the books by the end of ’43. The SS Tiger I in Normandy belonged to 101 sPz SS Abt and 102 SS sPz Abt.

The only Tiger Is that I can think in WaR of belonged to sPz 301 (Fkl) which had 31 rebuilt Tiger I acting as command vehicles for RC demolition vehicles (Bogward IV) and that was a Heer (army) unit.

So 1SS only had the loan of Tiger II in 501 SS sPz Abt and had had no Tiger I since leaving Russia.

Were there any ‘Ferdinand’ TDs in the battle, at Bastogne, with Peiper, or at St. Vith? What TD or AG or SP, which looks most like a Ferdinand TD, was deployed with the VG divisions?

While I can’t recall the details, I’m fairly certain that KG Peiper was doomed by the time the last 15 arrived. With the demise of KGP, the 501 SS sPz Abt was in need of rebuilding. After the dregs of KGP escaped the 1SS withdrew for reorganisation and eventually reappeared near Bastogne. By that time 501 SS sPz Abt was no longer rigidly attached to 1SS and had reverted to being a corps unit, though obviously strongly associated with 1SS. So post KGP time would have been spent regathering scattered vehicles and repairs, including the 15 latecomers.

I don’t have a good number for the Tiger II losses in the initial offensive, but have a vague memory of only about 7 Tiger II pocketed with KGP. The buggers were just too slow to keep up and be pocketed. Allowing for recovered breakdowns 501 should have had about 2/3 of its official strength at least recoverable if not yet fit for combat by the time of the end of KGP.

pzjgNo Ferdinands/Elephants in Wacht am Rhein (WaR). The source of the confusion might have been the presence of sPzJgrAbt 654 which was one of the original two Elephant battalions, was in WaR but equipped with Jagdpanthers and the other, sPzJgrAbt 653 was involved in Nordwind and had Jagdtigers.

The VG divisions had a PzJg Abt with a towed 7.5cm PaK 40 battery (9, usually 12 guns), a SP light FlaK company (12 x SdKfz 10/5) and a SP battery with 10 (HQ 1, 3 platoons of 3) or 14 (2, 3 x 4) Hetzers or StuG III. All WaR divisions might also have had support from corps and army level StuG (usually 31 StuG, though up to 45) and sPzJg (45 Hetzers or 30-31 Hetzers and 14-15 Jagdpanthers) units. They also had either a Füsiliere (recon+assault) company or battalion which was mainly bicycled infantry and a few armoured cars (if they were lucky).

Pz IV/70 aka JgPz IV with 7.5cm L/70 gun were only issued to Panzer divisions PzJg Abt, typically 21 Pz IV/70 and 12 towed PaK 40.

Marder I/II/III usually equipped Pz and PzGren divisions but by then had practically disappeared, being replaced by JgPz IV and Pz IV/70.

StuG III could be in nearly anything; anybodies PzJg Abt, StuG Abt/Brigades or even Pz Regt, replacing the by now scarce Pz IV.

Paul M. Weir

(Note: I added the counter art, any error’s all mine.)

Paul Weir : What types of M4 Shermans did US forces use in Europe?

One of the rockstars in the GameSquad ASL forums is the resident armor super-genius human Chapter H, Mr. Paul M. Weir. Mr. Weir has gratefully allowed the publication of his posts here.

M4M4A1M4: The original design with radial petrol engine, M4A1 had the same engine but a cast hull, so I will deal with them together. Initially the preferred engine, both M4 and M4A1 (75) saw service from Torch to war’s end. They would have been the sole combat models until late ’43, early ’44 and between the two would still just have been the largest percentage of M4’s by VE day. Both later got better front hull armour (thicker at 47° vs older 56° from vertical). From early ’44 the M4A1 got the 76mm while some of the M4 were 105mm armed. From memory of photos the 105mm M4 always had the later 47° hull whilst many of those late 75mm M4 had a cast front (aka composite hull). A composite hull M4 would be a M4A1 in ASL terms. The 76mm M4A1 first saw service in Operation Cobra. Not sure when the 105mm M4 saw combat, but I suspect late French campaign. The British fitted 17lbr to M4 but not to M4A1. What looks like a 17lbr M4A1 is actually a 17lbr M4 (composite hull).

M4A2M4A2: Diesel twin engines. Starting with 75mm and 56° hull, they progressively went to 47° hull and finally 76mm. Used by the US for training, saw US combat service only with the USMC. Most LL to the USSR, Britain and France, in order of priority, indeed one of the USMC batches was “stolen” from a USSR allocation. Only the USSR used the 76mm versions.

M4A3M4A3: Ford petrol twin engine. Had all the variations of the M4A2, but also had a 105mm version. Indeed it is quite difficult to tell the 2 apart, only the different horizontal engine decks are a good guide. Though some may have been used mid-Italy campaign, it was really D-Day onwards when they would have seen much service. 75mm, 47° hulls, I suspect Cobra+ and the 76mm and 105mm versions only becoming common by the end of the French campaign. The USMC eventually switched to the M4A3 from the M4A2. The US switched from considering the M4/M4A1 engine as the preferred one to the M4A3’s Ford.

M4A3E2M4A3E2: Doled out in handfuls to (mainly) M4A3 battalions. I think they were preferentially given to separate tank battalions allocated to infantry divisions, though some saw use in armoured divisions. NW Europe only.

shervaM4A4: 5 car engines fused together!!! US training only, LL to Britain and possibly France. Only 56° and 75mm, though the British fitted their 17lbr.

M4A5: Not a Sherman, but a type designation for the Canadian Ram tank.

M4A6: Diesel radial engine. Training/development only.

Italy: M4 & M4A1 throughout the campaign. M4A3 starting to appear mid-’44, likely as new battalions fed in.

Northwest Europe: Initially mainly M4 & M4A1 with some M4A3. In the immediate post invasion many separate and armoured division battalions were shipped straight from the US. These seem to be mainly M4A3 variants.

Mixing: M4 and M4A1 were practically interchangeable, so while many units would have started as pure M4 or M4A1, replacements could have been either. Naturally the USA preferred that M4/M4A1 were not mixed with M4A3 but there were times like very late ’44 when the USA was running short due to losses. The British either offered or gave the USA some of their Shermans at that time. So you would see awkward mixes, especially when allocating 76mm and 105mm variants. The US could readily support logistically such less than optimal mixes.

Gun Mixes: From Cobra+ expect to see no more than 20% 76mm, the rest 75mm. By Bulge 40% 76mm and by VE 60%+ 76mm. The problem was that was not uniform. From memory, one of the post D-Day, direct from the US shipped armoured divisions came entirely equipped with M4A3(76) whilst most active M4A3 battalions could only dream of them.

105mm: Initially issued as a 3 tank platoon per tank battalion, later 1 was additionally added to each 17 tank M4-whatever company. So for 54 M4-? (75mm/76mm) tank battalion you could have 3 or 6 105mm M4/M4A3 in addition. They did not replace 75mm/76mm gun tanks. Production of M4A3(105) was roughly twice that of M4(105).

56° vs 47°: The early M4-? had 2″ at 56°, later upgraded (except M4A4) to 2.5″ at 47°. While almost the same effective horizontal line of sight thickness the 47° hull was a single plate without the driver/assistant driver hatch excrescences of the earlier 56° hull multi plate front, thus stronger. The 47° hulls also had bigger hatches allowing easier bail out.

As an addition to the above information I might as well complete the US battalion organisation by mentioning the light tanks and other lesser creatures.

A typical US battalion

The original OoB had a tank regiment with 1×3 company light tank battalion and 2×3 company medium battalions, each with 17 tanks/company and 3 in battalion HQ. The Battalion HQ had a 3 vehicle assault gun platoon and often a 3 vehicular 81mm halftrack MTR platoon. The assault gun platoon started with the likes of the T30 HMC (USVN 35), then the M8 HMC Scott (USVN 43) and finally by mid-late ’44 the M4(105) or M4A3(105) (USVN 17). The MTR platoon used the M4, M4A1 and M21 halftracks. That organisation was in effect until mid-late ’43 and indeed the 2nd, 3rd Armoured continued to use that “heavy” organisation until war’s end. In practice light and medium companies were often swapped to give 3 equal battalions with 1 light and 2 medium companies. A US “heavy” Armoured Division had 6 light and 12 medium companies total in 2 regiments. During ’43 the heavy organisation was replaced by the light version. That abolished the tank regiment and instead had 3 tank battalions. Each battalion had a similar HQ and 1 light and 3 medium tank companies, like before with 17 or 18 tanks for a divisional total of 3 light and 9 medium companies. The upside was the infantry component got beefed up at battalion level.

The light tanks started with M3 and M3A1 but by Sicily they started to or had been replaced by M5 and M5A1. By Wacht am Rhein tiny numbers of M24 had appeared but took some time to displace the M5A1s.

Now be aware that all the above is just an overall broad sweep picture. For designing scenarios always use AARs, TO&E unit details where you can lay your hands on them. You will undoubtedly find exceptions but the above should not lead you too far astray.

Paul M. Weir

(Note: I added the counter art, any error’s all mine.)

PS For more on Shermans, Witchbottles recommends the article “Wheels of Democracy” by Jeff Petraska from Avalon Hill Game Magazine vol 25 issue 3

A Tank Destroyer Christmas

Want a cool M36 Tank Destroyer t-shirt for Christmas?  I put one together for myself and left the design up in case you want one too, for yourself or your opponent.

This classic “Banzai” t-shirt is of course, still available.

 

Tanker Coins for Sale!

I got tired of having to look for the proper number on a d30 dice to track my MP usage everytime my opponent announces “I am shooting.”, only to have the d30 roll lazily away in the mist of the action.

So here we have the Tanker Coin, a much easier way to track MP usage:

Tanker Coins are selling for USD10+Postage, which I don’t imagine to be too much no matter where you are.

To buy one, send me an email at hongkongwargamer-at-speedpost-dot-net with your address & PayPal email and I will invoice you. It’s that simple!

Thanks

May 14 2019 Update : I expect to see the next batch of Tanker Coins mid June at the latest.  It will probably be the last batch I will sell at USD10 each.  There’s already an order list, please contact me if you want yours!

FrF2 Maczek Fire Brigade

This is September 4 1939, Poland.  The Poles rushed the Maczek brigade to plug gaps in the defense.  The Germans win this scenario by taking 12 buildings in 5.5 turns.

img_3870

Here are some of the AFVs involved by the way (from the wonderful site – Tanks Encyclopedia) :

Polish

Vickers Ejw(b)

vickers-mark_e_polish_jw

The Ejw(b) is armed with a 47* (TK8) and a FP6 CMG.  AF2/1.

Vickers Edw(b)

vickers-mark_e_polish_dw

The Edw(b) has twin turrets (6×2*), each with a wz.30 7.92 MG which can be fired independently of each other.  AF 2/1.

TKS

tks

The TKS is armed with a FP2 BMG and the TKS(L) with a 20L  (TK6).  AF 1/0.

German

Pz IIA

panzer_ii_ausfb

The Pz IIA was the main battle tank in Poland, spotting a 20L (TK 6 IFE 4) and a FP5 CMG.  AF 1/1.

Pz IB

pzkpfw-1_ausfb_france40

The Pz IB has a FP6 CMG that does 2 TK DRs per hit.  AF 1/1.

PSW 222

sd-kfz-222_poland1939

The PSW 222 is an OT armored car with 33MP.  It has a 20L (TK 6 IFE 4) and a FP6 CMG.  AF 1/1.