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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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!!