Sunday, December 3, 2017

Operation Uranus: The Assault against Third Romanian Army

The battlefield layout seen from the Russian side of the
Don River.  A very crowded board.  Both of us were
apprehensive of the outcome...

This last weekend (2nd December) Paul 'Jacko' Jackson and I had our first full blown action based on the Not Quite Mechanised/Hexblitz/Megablitz game systems.  This was a pretty ambitious affair, based upon the attack by no fewer than four Soviet Armies against the 3rd Romanian Army.  Historically, the assault began on 19 November 1942, after an 80-minute preliminary artillery preparation, with the leading troops advancing to the attack at 0850 hours.

This huge undertaking we contrived to compass on one 120cm x 134cm game board, as you will see in the above picture.  Why so crowded?  I have a fair amount of kit, and I want to use it!  The unseasonably summery look to the table was more than matched by a very warm early December day, reaching 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit).  The set up was developed from maps translated to a hex map representing the table.  Next time we play this - a treat Jacko and I have promised ourselves - I'll alter the eastern part of the map to and stretch the Romanian line that extra hex to fit, and I'll push the Romanian defence line up one hex (nearer, in fact, to where it should be).  My reasons for maintaining as far as possible a two-hex no-man's-land are, upon reflexion, not so very compelling.


The map of the game board.  The villages were there to
relieve the appearance of a bare playing surface.

Ho! for the Orders of Battle.

3rd Romanian Army:

Marshal Dmitrescu and HQ: SP = 1
Logistics element LOG = 3

I Corps:
Commander and HQ, SP = 1
Logistics element (lorry or wagon) LOG = 3

7th, 11th Infantry Divisions, each 6 stands, SP=6
Reserve Artillery: 1 field gun 7.5cm or light howitzer 10.5cm SP=2
1 47mm Anti-tank gun SP=2

 
II and V Corps front.  

II Corps:

Commander and HQ, SP = 1
Logistics element (lorry or wagon) LOG = 3

9th, 14th Infantry Divisions, each 6 stands, SP=6
Reserve Artillery:  SP=2

1 47mm Anti-tank gun SP=2

 
Romanian right centre

V Corps:

Commander and HQ, SP = 1
Logistics element (lorry or wagon) LOG = 3

5th, 6th Infantry Divisions, each 6 stands, SP=6
Reserve Artillery: SP=2
 

1 47mm Anti-tank gun SP=2

IV Corps, on the Romanian right.

IV Corps:

Commander and HQ, SP = 1
Logistics element (lorry or wagon) LOG = 3

13th Infantry Division, 6 stands SP=6
1st Cavalry Division, 6 stands SP=6
Reserve Artillery: SP=2

1 47mm Anti-tank gun SP=2

Under III Army Command:
15th Infantry Division, 6 stands, SP=6
7th Cavalry Division, 6 stands, SP=6

1st Panzer Division,
          2 AFVs (Pz38(t) or PzIIIH) each SP=3
          Infantry: 2 infantry stands, SP=2 

Reserve Artillery: SP=2

  
A glimpse of the Romanian Army HQ.

XLVIII Panzer Corps (German)
    (22 Panzer Division)         Commander and HQ, SP = 1       
         Logistics element (lorry or wagon) LOG = 3

         Pz Rgt 204: 2 AFVs (Pz38(t) or PzIIIH) @ SP=3
         Pz Gr Rgt 129: 2 infantry stands, SP=2
         Pz Artillery Rgt 140: 1x 10.5cm @ SP=1

Kampfgruppe Simons (German):
         1 Marder or towed PaK 38 or PaK40 @ SP=2
         2 Infantry stands, SP=2

Soviet Forces:

1st Guards Army (part):
GoC and HQ, SP=1
Supply Column, lorry, SP=3
266th, 197th, 203rd, 278th Rifle Divisions, each SP=5
3 Independent Tank regiments each SP=3 (T34/76)
Army Reserve Artillery, Heavy guns, SP=3
Soviet right flank.  First Guard Army was partially positioned
in front of 8th Italian Army, but had deployed 2/3 of its
strength in front of I Romanian Corps.
5th Tank Army:
GoC and HQ, SP=1
Supply Column, lorry, SP=3
14th Guards and 47th Guards Rifle Divisions, each SP=6
228th, 118th, 210th, 159th, 124th, 346th Rifle Divisions, each SP=5
1st Tank Corps and 26th Tank Corps, each with
     Corps Command and HQ, SP=1
     Corps supply column, lorry, LOG=3
     2 Medium Brigades (T34 plus rifle/SMG stand), SP=4 
     1 Heavy Tank Brigade (KV1 plus rifle/SMG stand), SP=5 
     1 Motor Rifle Brigade (4 rifle stands plus lorry), SP=4
     1 Corps Artillery (76.2mm field gun) SP=2
8th Cavalry Corps with
     Corps command and HQ: SP=1
     Supply column, Lorry, wagons or pack horses, SP=3
     2 Cavalry Brigades, each SP=4
     1 Light Tank regiment (T26, T60 or BT) SP=2
     1 Field Artillery (76.2mm field gun (SP=2)

2 Heavy Artillery Regiments (152mm+) each SP=3



Where the main Soviet strength lay: 5th tank and 21st Armies.

21st Army:
GoC and HQ, SP=1 
Supply Column, Lorry LOG=3
346th, 96th, 63rd, 333rd, 293rd, 78th, 277th Rifle Divisions, each SP=5
4th Tank Corps with:
     Corps Command and HQ, SP=1
     Corps supply column, lorry, LOG=3
     2 Medium Brigades (T34 plus rifle/SMG stand), SP=4 
     1 Heavy Tank Brigade (KV1 plus rifle/SMG stand), SP=5 
     1 Motor Rifle Brigade (4 rifle stands plus lorry), SP=4
     1 Corps Artillery (76.2mm field gun) SP=2

3rd Guards Cavalry Corps with:
     
Corps command and HQ: SP=1
     Supply column, Lorry, wagons or pack horses, SP=3
     2 Cavalry Brigades, each SP=4
     1 Light Tank regiment (T26, T60 or BT) SP=2
     1 Heavy Mortar (120mm Mortar carried on light truck) (SP=2)

2 Heavy Artillery Regiments each SP=3
The left flank of the Soviet offensive.  65th Army had also
earmarked 3 of its 5 Divisions, and its 49 tanks to this
attack.  

65th Army (part)
GoC and HQ, SP=1
Supply column, LOG=3
27th Guards Rifle Division, SP=6
252nd, 258th Rifle Divisions, each SP=5
1 Tank regiment (T34/76). SP=3

1 Heavy Artillery Regiment SP=3

Notes on Soviet Army:
1.   All Rifle and Guards Rifle Divisions comprised 6 stands
2.   Motor Rifle Brigades comprised 4 stands, plus transport vehicle.
3.   The Cavalry Brigades comprised 2 stands only, though ought to have had 4.

4.   The Tank units of 1st Guards and 65th Armies I treated as independent regiments rather than Tank brigades, and were given SP=3.  It was purely an arbitrary decision.  The integral rifle/SMG stands in the Tank brigades of the 5th Tank and 21st Armies beefed their SP to 4, or, in the case of the KVs, 5 SP. 
5.   The supply columns had really only a nominal role in this game, both sides assumed to have stockpiled copious quantities of fuel, ammunition and victuals during the quiescent weeks leading up to this battle.


Overall picture with the Soviet barrage about to begin.
The '88' signifies part of the German 6th Army front and
'no go' to the Russians.  That left 65th Army a very narrow front
upon which to operate.  That will be amended another time.

A few comments on the set-up.  First of all, having misremembered the artillery ranges, I ought to have had them closer to the action (there are slight differences among NQM, Hexblitz and Megablitz, that, among rules sets so similar, confound the memory).  That is one reason (but not the only) for bringing the Romanian front line closer to the Don River than I had it.  

But the main feature is the fortified Romanian front line.  The fortifications were all given 1 SP, to be removed upon the unit occupying it first receiving a strength point 'hit'.  In effect it gave all the Romanian front line units 7 SP instead of their actual 6.  As the action develops you will see those fortified sections gradually disappear.

We'll leave the narrative of the battle for another posting.  I will say this ahead of time, though.  Yes, the set up brought up a few problems - traffic control, mainly, but a few other things as well.  But, man it was fun!
 
     

12 comments:

  1. Great looking set up. Inspiring stuff too.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers, Pete. The spectacle does get the old umpty-poo going, don't you reckon?

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mark. It was a squeeze, but we liked the look as well. 'Jacko' and I both felt this was something like what we had been looking for.

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  3. Archduke Piccolo,

    Very, very impressive! I look forward to reading your full battle report in due course.

    Reading your recent blog entries has really encouraged me to think about revisiting HEXBLITZ and revising it in the light of what I have learned creating my more recent rules.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would certainly look forward to seeing what (if any) modifications you had in mind, Bob. During the course of this game, a few things cropped up in terms of rules, but more in what I might call 'game administration', in particular the 'priority chits'.

      It was one of those 'beta' games which, enjoyable and exciting though it was, threw up a number of issues. But it also whetted the appetite for more of the same!

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  4. Sounds great, beautiful vehicles, terrain...promising!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Romanian kit was 'Jacko's' except for two or three motor vehicles and a couple of AT guns. The Russian stuff was all mine, from various sources, including the scratchbuilt artillery. The villages and towns were made from my 'small buildings' box or commercial and home made paper and cardboard buildings. I have really gone 'downscale' on these.

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  5. Magnificent! Looking forward to the game writeup.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Coming soon to a blogspot near you! Cheers,
      Martin!

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  6. Crowded yes but impressive! I echo Martin - can't wait for the AAR.
    BTW, our group played Mr. Rapier's Operation Uranus scenario a few years ago and we had great fun. Our Russian offensive did not succeed, looking forward to see how your Russians do?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somehow I missed this comment, Joseph. Can I find 'Mr Rapier's scenario somewhere?

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