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DAR - The Cauldron Of Fire
03-17-2010, 06:06 AM, (This post was last modified: 05-29-2010, 12:39 AM by Cole.)
#1
DAR - The Cauldron Of Fire
During action report of Von Earlman's The Cauldron Of Fire, third in his Kursk series of scenarios.

The Cauldron Of Fire covers the German 41st Panzer Corps supporting drive on the north side of the Kursk salient towards Ponyri. The major German push was just to the west with the 47th Panzer Corps moving on Olkhavatkha. Even so the battle for Ponyri would be named the "Stalingrad Of Kursk" and saw the heaviest Russian artillery concentration of the war. This battle is also interesting because this is one of the first times the Germans used the new Tigers, Ferdinand heavy tank destroyers and Brumbar assault guns. Fortunately for the Russians they had just introduced the SU-152 assault gun, the only Russian tank at the time that could take on the formidable Tigers and Ferdinands.

I am commanding the Russian side and playing against Larry Reese. We are using all optional rules, to include extreme assault, except for variable visibility. I am also simultaneously playing as the Russians against Gil Paquette but in that game we are using the standard assault rules. I feel the extreme assault rules are more realistic, especially in this scenario in which the Russian artillery must play a decisive role. The scenario was designed for use with the old assault rules so this will be a good test to see if the new assault rules unbalance the game.

5 - 6 turns equal a day of combat. There are no night moves modeled in this scenario so night will be represented on every 6th turn. The turn will be played as normal (still will be daylight) but that one turn will represent limited combat in the night, rest, resupply, etc. My personal feeling is that 6 turns for a day is just about right for a scenario of this size. The coordination and movement of such a large amount of units would be impossible in the time frame covered by six minute turns (I do believe the 6 minute turns are more viable for the smaller scenarios).

I've asked Earl for his thoughts. He designed this scenario to highlight the action with the new heavy tanks and also wanted to recreate the effects of the massed Russian artillery. For playability purposes he has greatly reduced the size of the defending Russian infantry divisions. A good rule of thumb in the scenarios is that Earl used an infantry regiment to represent what was actually a division. I also suspect the fortifications and AT guns were more prevalent on the Kursk battlefield.

For those interested in playing some of these excellent scenarios the link to a post listing them all is here: http://www.theblitz.org/message_boards/s...?tid=48580

Here is a chronological list:

JULY 5:
XXXXVIII PANZER KORPS AT KURSK
FRUSTRATIONS OF III PANZER KORPS
THE CAULDRON OF FIRE
AFTER JULY 5:
THE HILLS OF OLKHOVATKHA
THE ROAD TO OBOYAN
THE BRIDGEHEAD AT RZHAVETS

Yesterday I purchased David M. Glantz's The Battle Of Kursk and also have a copy of the Osprey Kursk Campaign Series booklet. During this DAR I hope to be able to reference them from time to time in order to explore if the Campaign Series can replicate the actual battle.

I encourage anyone that has historical or technical facts that can contribute to everyone's understanding of the battle to post them in this DAR and feel free to let me know if I've made a mistake.

Disclaimer: There's been a couple of times when I've played in one of Earl's campaigns / scenarios and I've cursed the OOB because I mostly had 45mm AT guns and ATR platoons to stand up against a bunch of Elefants. If during the course of this DAR I say anything that sounds negative towards Earl's scenarios or the Campaign Series game please keep in mind that I love CS so much I pretty much devote all my game time to it to the exclusion of all the other great games out there and that for the past couple of years I've been concentrating on playing Earl's scenarios and campaigns to the detriment of other great scenario designers out there.

Turn 1 5 July, 0400 until the 0530 German ground attack.

The Soviets knew about the German assault (especially because the Germans had launched a reconnaissance in force in the southern side of the salient around midnight) and at 0400 launched a 30 minute counter preparation artillery barrage on suspected German positions and mustering areas. The Germans began their 80 minute preparation bombardment on the first 4 kilometers of Soviet defenses at 0430 and almost immediately afterward (0435) the Russians fired again.

Turn 1 is this scenario begins with all units fixed and represents the German and Russian artillery duel. The 1st turn is used to adjust op fire (especially good for the defenders) and to assign artillery.

Turn 2:
The Russian front line is manned by 4 battalions of infantry. From west to east here are the Russian dispositions at the beginning of the Russian Turn 2. The initial artillery barrage was a surprise and very heavy but fortunately not so effective in disrupting the dug in troops.

The 13th Army defends the northern side of the Kursk salient. The 307th Rifle Division's dispositions on the front line follows:

Major Ivshkov commands the 1st Rifle Battalion, 1019th Rifle Regiment:
[Image: Turn21stB1019thRRegimentMajorIvshko.jpg]

During a lull in the enemy bombardment he receives reports of German panzers advancing from Maloarkhangelisk Station to include an unidentified heavy assault gun not seen before.

Major Tarasenya commands the regiment's 2nd Rifle Battalion:
[Image: Turn22ndB1019thRRegimentMajorTarase.jpg]

The eastern side of the map is held by the 2nd Airborne Division. I don't think the division is correct and will recheck with Earl. He mentioned that the 2nd Airborne was sent to reinforce so maybe this 1st Battalion on the front lines represents the unfortunate defenders of the actual division on that day.

Major Yakovich commands the 1st Rifle Battalion of the 884th Guards Rifle Regiment. He has a lot of ground to defend and is busy at the moment trying to make sense through the din of the heavy artillery bombardment reports of masses of German infantry following closely behind the barrage and murderous machine gun fire sweeping down from the overlooking hills. In this sector you can see that some Russian infantry has already begun to retreat.

[Image: Turn21stB804thGDSRRegimentMajorYako.jpg]

Update: I've reached the point in Glantz's The Battle Of Kursk discussing the troop dispositions on the front line and the initial attack.
Interesting to read just how strong the Soviet Anti-tank strong points were. They would contain at least an ATR company or battalion, a sapper platoon equipped with explosives, and AT gun company with 4 to 6 guns and two to three tanks or self propelled guns. Understanding that these forces would not really be able to stand up to the new heavy German tanks they also incorporated self propelled tank destroyers as well as 85mm and 152 artillery pieces used in an AT role.

In preparation for the Kursk offensive the Russians defensive frontage in the 13th Army's AOR averaged 4,500 men, 45 tanks, and about 104 gun tubes per kilometer of front line!!
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03-18-2010, 01:41 AM,
#2
RE: DAR - The Cauldron Of Fire
Glantz's book is outstanding. OUTSTANDING. My copy is long since worn out. For those truly interested in the state of the Red Army throught the war and how it changed, I highly recommend his Collosus trilogy.

LR
If you run, you'll only die tired.

One hand on the wheel, and one in the flame,
One foot on the gas, and one in the grave.
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03-18-2010, 03:48 AM,
#3
RE: DAR - The Cauldron Of Fire
Turn 3 - Late morning

1st Battalion 1019th Rifle Regiment Western sector.

Russian infantry is forced off the ridge line by heavy German artillery and MG fire. Reports of at least a regiment of German infantry and a battalion of panzers in this sector.
[Image: Turn31stB1019thWestView.jpg]

1st Battalion 1019th RR East sector.

Russians retreating towards the ridge behind the lines while some platoons continue to hold out in their fortified areas and attempt to call in artillery.
[Image: Turn31stB1019thEastView.jpg]

1st Battalion 1019th Fight for Ochiki
The 45mm AT guns are making a brave stand but cannot penetrate the front armor of the new German assault guns.
[Image: Turn31stB1019thFightforOchiki.jpg]

2nd Battalion 1019th

The 2nd Battalion has yet to be heavily engaged or targeted by the Germans mostly due to the nature of their positions in the gullies out of sight. The left flank of the battalion has been hit hard with German assault guns clearing the entrenched Russian infantry out of their positions to be mowed down by German MG guns while they retreat.
[Image: Turn32ndB1019thRRegiment.jpg]

1st Battalion 884th
The center and right positions have been hit hard by the Germans and the lines in from in front of to the east edge of the map have pretty much been cleared of defenders. The defenders in Buzulik are still holding their positions mostly because most of their defenses are not overlooked by the German held ridges to the north.
[Image: Turn31stB884thRRegiment.jpg]
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03-18-2010, 03:01 PM,
#4
RE: DAR - The Cauldron Of Fire
Yo, why can't I see the right edge of these posts? All the text and graphics are cut off. Plenty of room on the monitor, just won't display right. I'm running the latest version of Firefox.

LR
If you run, you'll only die tired.

One hand on the wheel, and one in the flame,
One foot on the gas, and one in the grave.
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03-18-2010, 09:23 PM,
#5
RE: DAR - The Cauldron Of Fire
(03-18-2010, 03:01 PM)Larry Reese Wrote: Yo, why can't I see the right edge of these posts? All the text and graphics are cut off. Plenty of room on the monitor, just won't display right. I'm running the latest version of Firefox.

LR

Same problem here wit IE 8
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03-19-2010, 01:08 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-19-2010, 02:57 AM by Cole.)
#6
RE: DAR - The Cauldron Of Fire
It's an unsatisfactory fix but at the very bottom of the screen is a horizontal bar that can me moved left and right.
UPDATE: Quick fix was to resize my photos. Will have to adjust the size next post for the best fit. Thinking of a thumbnail that can expand when clicked upon.
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03-19-2010, 05:43 AM,
#7
RE: DAR - The Cauldron Of Fire
Turn 4 - early afternoon

The northern part of Ochki village has been overrun. Major Ivshkov prepares a final defense in the AT gun strong point blocking the highway south. A lone platoon still holds out in a fortified hamlet just to the north west. Ivshkov is too busy to worry about what he knows to be a certain death with the new powerful German assault guns cresting the hill top and moving into position to fire on his bunker.
[Image: Turn41stB1019thnewtanksScreenshot1.jpg]

Meanwhile on Ivshkov's right all Russian resistance has ended and the Germans are rushing forward. The surviving Russian flee to the safety of the hills behind but have no communications to call in covering artillery fire.

[Image: Turn41stB884thnewFerdinads.jpg]

The Russians fare the same all along the line.
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03-20-2010, 06:54 AM,
#8
RE: DAR - The Cauldron Of Fire
Turn 5 late afternoon
Major Ivshkov's radioman reports that he's lost contact with the isolated platoon to their NW. Before he can reply surviving members of the ATR platoon rush back into the relative safety of the bunkers. The survivors could only escape the murderous HE fire from the assault guns because a timely Russian artillery barrage disabled one of the enemy tanks. While the artillery may have scored a minor victory German panzers move forward from all directions, most ominously two platoons of PZ IV's equipped with the new side armor move to cut off the only avenue of retreat south. Russian machine gunners attempt to disrupt advancing German engineers before they can move to assault the bunker but in the smoke and confusion their fire is ineffective.
[Image: Turn51stB1019thMajorIsvhokslaststan.jpg]

Besides his last stand at the AT strong point most of Ivshkov's 1st Battalion is dead or fleeing south as fast as possible. Both ridge lines to the west and east are controlled by the Germans and any Russians left on the hill tops are hiding.

Things fare little better in the 884th's sector. Compared with Major Ivshkov's bravery Major Yakovich has departed the AT strong point in the village of Semonovka and has fled south (lost cause so I'm moving him out to deny the enemy VP's). He knows he's expected to die with his troops but he cannot face the terror anymore.

Fortunately for the Russians Yakovich's own troops defending Buzulik are living up to Russian soldier's reputation on being stubborn in defense. The survivors of two different companies have been holding their lines in the face of heavy German artillery fire and the best efforts of about two battalions worth of infantry well supported by machine guns. The Russian units are constantly being disrupted and are suffering losses each turn but they have been repelling repeated close assaults. In frustration the German commander has now ordered his Elefant tanks in for close fire support. The soldier's sacrifice makes it possible for Russian artillery to extract a measure of revenge.

[Image: Turn51stB884thfightforBuzulik.jpg]

Turn 6 - evening / night

Resistance in Semenovka has ended. To the west Major Ivshkov and his brave defenders have been overrun. The Germans have poured over all the ridge lines behind the front Russian line and now are quickly moving forward throughout the night in order to be able to assault the 2nd Russian line at dawn.

The brave defenders of Buzulik still fight on against long odds. During the night two platoons on the eastern side will be overrun but there are still three platoons fighting off assaults on their trenches and calling in more artillery. Corps HQ is pleased that they are receiving reports that more Elefants are being committed to the battle. Each tank fighting in Buzulik is one less tank available tomorrow for the renewed assault.
[Image: Turn61stB884thRegimentHeroic2ndPlat.jpg]
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03-22-2010, 09:58 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-25-2010, 08:59 AM by Cole.)
#9
RE: DAR - The Cauldron Of Fire
Turn 7 Early morning 6 July
No let up in the fighting for Buzulik. Lieutenant (лейтена́нт) Ivan Desinovich from the 1st Platoon, 1st Company, 1st Battalion, 884th Rifle Regiment has conducted a heroic defense all night. Unlike his coward commanding officer he will fight to the end for his Motherland and is making the fascist invaders pay a heavy price. Desinovich managed a fitful 20 minute rest before he was shaken awake and told that the Germans seemed to be reading for another assault. Here's the situation before what the Germans hope to be the final assault:
[Image: 7Fightingtothelast.jpg]


2nd Platoon (just to the east) fought to the last man. They repulsed all assaults but were finally wiped out by Elefant tanks moving directly up to the trench lines and eliminating all opposition with murderous HE fire. 3rd Platoon is stationed directly to the south of Desinovich's position and will prevent any attack from the rear.
[Image: 7Fighting2nd.jpg]

As dawn breaks Russian artillery fire opens up. Friendly fire smashes into 3rd Platoon's positions killing the platoon leader and demoralizing the troops that have survived the night. Fortunately Senior Sergeant (ста́рший сержа́нт) Bagirli was able to rally the remainder of his platoon a half kilometer to the south west. The fields do not provide much concealment from the rampaging Elfant tanks at this time of year the wheat is still in the "jointing" growth phase but Bagirli and his troops do not expect to survive; they only wish to kill as many fascists as possible.
[Image: 7Heoric1stPlatoonBuzulik.jpg]

OVERVIEW OF THE FIRST DAY

This is a classic Earlmann Kursk scenario. The Russian front lines will get pulverized and as Grace Slick advised in her classic song "White Rabbit" the Russian commander must "keep your head".

In my game with Gil we are on turn 9 but notwithstanding the fight for Buzulik above Larry's Germans have made more progress. The reason for this is that Larry seems to want to charge forward through the gradually increasing Russian artillery whereas Gil's Germans methodically clear the field of any Russian spotters with artillery and the heavy German panzers hitting from a distance before committing his infantry. So far I don't know which tactic is worrying me more. Larry is rushing in too fast for my taste but Gil has preserved more of his infantry.

In the image below the dark blue line is the approximate historical front lines taken from a map in David Glantz's Battle of Kursk. The light blue line is the German start line in Earlmann's scenario and the red line represents approximate Russian positions at 2200 on 5 July.
I'm especially pleased that the front lines around Buzulik are almost exactly the same as the historical ones.
Earl might be onto something here as the furthest German advance on the first day penetrated about 8 kilometers west of Ponyri. As you can see on the map below if you take the distance from the historical front lines to the positions of the German units at the beginning of turn 7 the biggest penetration is to the west and around 8 kilometers. The big difference is in the east. Historically the main focus of the battle was to the west of Ponyri but in our scenario the Germans have a powerful force pushing southwards on the eastern side of the map.

[Image: 7Frontlineswest-1.jpg]
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03-25-2010, 10:39 AM, (This post was last modified: 03-29-2010, 09:45 AM by Cole.)
#10
RE: DAR - The Cauldron Of Fire
Turn 8 morning
[Image: 8brave3rdplatoon5thcompany1019th-1.jpg]

Medal "for Valor" #333298 was delivered to the family of Guards Red Army Lieutenant Desinovich, Ivan Afanasievich, on 21.08.1943, temporary certificate #884995, under the 884th Guards infantry regiment, 2nd Airborne Division Decree #019/n issued 03.08.1943.

Citation: "Desinovich, Ivan Afanasievich, Guards Red Army Lieutenant, born 1913, Russian, drafted by Krasnogvardeisky City Military Command, Lenningrad, home address: Leningrad Provice, Strugo-Krasnensky region, Gostida village. Lieutenant Desinovich brought great credit upon himself and the Worker's and Peasants Red Army. In combat on 5.07.1943 Comrade Lieutenant Desinovich organized the defense of Buzulik village, Ponyri rayon, Kursk oblast against overwhelming Fascist forces. Through his steadfastness and inspiration to his troops he delayed the Hitlerite advance that allowed time for 13th Army to react and send reinforcements. Even in the face of unrelenting and direct high explosive attack from enemy armor and with his command out of ammunition Comrade Desinovich continued resistance to the invader by calling in continuous artillery fire.

Even with the annihilation of Desinovich's platoon, 3rd Platoon under the direction of Senior Sergeant Bagirli managed to survive the night. They conducted a fighting withdrawal through the wheat fields, always pursued by the monster Elefants unleashing high explosive at any sign of movement in the twilight. The tattered remainders of the platoon where still in an exposed position, at least a half kilometer away from the cover of the woods when it was bright enough for the fugitives to receive fire from the west.

A battered section made it to the woods but they had lost their last radio set during the last desperate sprint to safety and could no longer call in avenging fire.
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