#19400513_01 The Battle of Hannut - PzB Demo
#19400513_01 The Battle of HannutBy David Michas
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Hannut, South East of Brussels: May 13th, 1940. (Scenario Size: Corps. Head to Head or German Human vs Allied AI) On May 10th, 1940 the German offensive against Western Europe began with the attack against three neutral states: The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. The aim of the German maneuver was to bypass the Maginot line from the north and distract the attention of Allies while the bulk of the panzer divisions advanced through the Ardennes. This operational diversion was entrusted to the German 6. Armee, which included the XVI. Armee-Korps (mot.) of General der Kavalerie Hoepner composed of 3. and 4. Panzerdivisionen. According to Liddell Hart "the armored corps of Hoepner formed the 'red cape' of the bullfighter, who was to encourage the Allies to rush like an angry bull into the Flemish trap." In response to the German offensive, the Allies launched the Dyle-Breda advance. Three French armies and the British Expeditionary Force deployed into Belgium. Covering the advance, the Corps de Cavalerie (cavalry corps) of General Prioux moved forward into Belgium. The mission of the French cavaliers was to cover the establishment of the 1st French Army and delay the approaching panzer divisions. Prioux advanced with the vanguard of his 2nd and 3rd light mechanized divisions (divisions légères mécaniques, "DLM"). On the morning of May 12th, German tanks come up against the French assembling near Hannut. The first major tank battle of the Second World War had just begun. It lasted for 48 hours. During the first day of the engagement, the French armored cavalry was undoubtedly victorious. Many German tank commanders advanced boldly to engage the French tanks during this first contact. Both the firepower and heavy armor showcased the superiority of the French models with the Somua in particular troublesome for their opponents. The next day, 13th May, the linear defence of the French and heavy involvement of the Luftwaffe was to prove the French's undoing. General Hoepner concentrated his two divisions against the 3e DLM and ended up overwhelming the defenders. The resulting loss of armour across the 12th and 13th May was as follows: 2e DLM recorded almost no loss of armoured vehicles, while the 3e DLM lost a total of 75 Hotchkiss and 30 Somua tanks. Most of the 160 German tanks involved were put out of action at least temporarily and credit to the stiff defence of the 3rd DLM. This scenario focuses on the May 13th multi divisional clash as Hoepner tried to break through the French defenses.