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Paderborn - A Crossfire WW2 scenario

INTRODUCTION

On 4 Feb 2003, we welcomed a guest - David Khoo (aka SAFLEX) - from Kuala Lumpur.  

The game we played represented a break from the dense terrain, infantry-dominated Crossfire games which have come to typify our WW2 gaming: instead we had open terrain and lots of tanks. No air, no arty support.  

[NOTE: click on any of the pics/map to get a full-sized image]

SCENARIO

A US Armoured Force is tasked to take and hold a key T-junction in the advance into Germany. The German force is tasked to hold them at all costs.

US Forces

  • 1 M24 Chaffee
  • 1 Sherman Jumbo 76mm
  • 2 M4A1 76mm
  • 2 M4A1 75mm
  • 1 M3 H/T 2 Plt airborne (4 bazookas)

German Defenders

  • 1 Panther G
  • 1 Stug IV
  • 2 Tigers (Reinforcements)
  • 2 Plt Panzergrenadiers (1 Faust/section, 2 Schrecks)

Note - German defenders are elite tankers and 3 crews have a -1 to accuracy. The Reinforcements will arrive at umpire's discretion, otherwise the odds are too stacked against the US taskforce.

US SETUP  The US commander decided to divide his forces into 2 groups: a diversion on the left flank with a Halftrack, the Chaffee and a M4A1 tank, and the bulk of his forces up the main road. 1 platoon of airborne with each.

GERMAN SETUP  The German commander setup a Panther and a Stug IV in ambush positions near the Crossroads. He opted to use the 2 Tigers as the Counterattack force. Both Panzergrenadier platoons were deployed in defense.

THE GAME

The US player opened well, with the left flank thrust somewhat unanticipated by the German commander, whose Panther was out of position facing the main road. In a quick exchange of fire, the lead Chaffee was disabled by a Panzerschreck from one of the buildings but the Panther was forced to break cover to get into position to deal with the threat to its rear.  The Panther cut an attack by the diversionary force's airborne platoon to shreds.

Following up on this, the US main force of 4 Shermans, led by the Jumbo, moved quickly down the main road, brushing aside a platoon of Panzergrenadiers who were in an ambush position in buildings on either side of the road thanks to the elan (and superior dice rolls) of the airborne platoon attached to them. The performance of this particular airborne platoon was extraordinary throughout the battle.

The main force of Shermans was soon in position to support the remaining elements of the diversionary force to its left. As the Shermans maneouvred for a rear shot at the Panther (which at this point had become the focus of all 5 Shermans), the Stug IV broke cover to engage the leading Sherman Jumbo. Although the Stug IV got its shot in, the thick front armour of the Jumbo proved adequate to the task and the Jumbo killed the Stug with a shot through its front armour.

At this point, the 1:1 exchange had left 5 Shermans milling around an extremely harrassed Panther, so the Germans decided to counterattack with the 2 Tigers from the left flank. This was to prove a costly prospect since the Tigers as they appeared presented a Sherman M4A1 76 with a side shot which disabled the lead Tiger. However, the remaining Tiger was spoiling for a fight: in rapid succession, it killed the M4A1 76 and a Sherman M4A1. However, a Sherman M4A1 managed to line up for a rear shot at the Panther, which brewed up. Unfortunately, the brave Sherman M4A1 followed the Panther soon afterwards as it tried to get into position for a flank shot. The Tiger had claimed its 3rd victim!

This left the players with a Mexican standoff: 1 Jumbo and 1 M4A1 76 against a Tiger. The US player decided to attempt to use his remaining infantry platoon (the other one had been mauled by the Panther) to take the T-junction which was rather stubbornly held by a Panzergrenadier platoon. Fire from the US troops (the same invincibles which had cleared the PzGr platoon earlier) steadily thinned the ranks of the defenders, prompting the remaining Tiger to move up to support the building.

After some debate (involving virtually all present), the US player decided to attempt a flank action on the Tiger: one more Sherman M4A1 76 fell to the 88, but the Sherman Jumbo finally found itself on relatively equal terms in a gun duel with the Tiger at close range: the Jumbo won the duel. With the collapse of German armoured support, the remaining section of Panzergrenadiers withdrew, leaving the field to the lone victorious Jumbo and its supporting infantry platoon.

POST MORTEM

Canny deployment by the US player left the Germans (who were lacking in heavy armour in the town) at a disadvantage at the beginning. BOTH German AFVs were forced to break cover to deal with the rapidly advancing US tanks. However, the appearance of the Tiger Is on the flank should have significantly redressed the balance. Unluckily for the Germans, an early shot from a Sherman 76 put one of the Tigers out of action. Significantly, the remaining Tiger on its own polished off 4 Shermans, including both M4A1 76s. The game boiled down to a cliff-hanger gun duel between the Sherman Jumbo and the Tiger, which I thought reflected very credibly on a relatively inexperienced US side. Without a Jumbo on the scene, victory would almost certainly have gone to the German defenders, who looked like they were capable of winning the game until the very end. The absence of large numbers of supporting infantry and support weapons basically made this very like a tank orgy. The game was extremely fluid, and earlier experiences Tiger hunting had resulted in a balance of forces which, although it favoured the German player, did not guarantee a German victory. The German player did very well given the limited resources available at the beginning. However, victory for the US player would have been far more costly had the left flank been covered by the Stug IV. [BTW - David is the guy in the centre of the pic above.]

The game also confirmed that our Cross of Iron (Squad Leader expansion set) armour rules graft-on to Crossfire worked just fine - providing a good balance between playability and realism.  The game flowed well, without being bogged down by too much detail.

Report by WW2 Coordinator: LK Tho