Week 2 of the club's Flames of War campaign saw me rolling out my American Armoured Company for the very first time against Andy's DAK Panzerkompanie. It seemed quite appropriate that my first engagement with enemy armour would be at the point when the campaign hit the Kasserine Pass, however, I was slightly concerned that history would repeat itself.
What followed was a learning experience, in much the same vein as how the Americans had to learn after Kasserine.
1500pts US Armoured Company vs DAK Panzerkompanie - Breakthrough
My US Armour:
- HQ, 2 M1A1 Sherman Tanks
- Tank Platoon, 5 M1A1 Sherman Tanks
- Tank Platoon, 3 M1A1 Sherman Tanks
- Light Tank Platoon, 4 M5A1 Stuart Tanks
- Recce Platoon, M3 Half-Track (command & bazooka teams), 2 Jeeps (with .50 cals, infantry teams)
- HQ, Panzer IV F2, Panzer III
- Panzer Platoon, 3 Panzer IV (Various)
- Panzer Platoon, 3 Panzer III (Various)
- Schwere Panzer Platoon, 1 Tiger
- Air Support, Priority Stuka
With apparently only a Tiger tank, a Panzer IV and a Panzer III to bypass to reach their objectives, the US commander should have been more bold and taken the offensive with his 10 Sherman tanks.
However, a little too sure of the platoon of Stuarts he'd sent to encircle the objecitve, he decided to be cautious and advance slowly under smoke, aware that there would be more prowling panzers in the area.
Initially the plan seemed to work as German air superiority was kept at a distance by a veritable wall of .50 cals, the Tiger was continuously smoked to reduce it's long range effectiveness, and the German command tanks began to be picked off.
When a flanking platoon of Panzer IV's did arrive, they were mauled by the close range killing power of the US tanks.
However, the tenacious platoon commander held his nerve and soon received support from a platoon of Panzer III's and forced the inexperienced US commander and his platoon to quit the field.
The isolated recce platoon was quickly hunted down and destroyed, forcing the remaining Sherman platoon to depart after their commander knowing that the Stuart encirclement had never arrived.
I was slaughtered 6-1 and for another week the U.S. would fail to advance in the campaign. In retrospect, I was far too intimidated by the Tiger, and had I been bolder I could have rushed the HQ and Tiger (which wouldn't have been able to kill all of my tanks) and perhaps force a German withdrawal earlier in the game.
As it was I allowed the Tiger to whittle me down and I didn't make any progress towards the objective. I was too cautious, which is apparently not the way to be with Americans. Next time I'll have to be more gung ho. I did notice that once they got up close, the American tanks were really effective and they were also more than capable of keeping the skies clear with their .50 cals.
On the Eastern Front, a German counter assault forced the Soviets to engage in a fighting withdrawal, which the Russians were able to execute effectively (5-2). This platform allowed the Soviets to once again launch an attack to encircle Stalingrad, this time the Germans were forced into a fighting withdrawal but their Tigers and AA Guns could not halt the tidal wave of Soviet armour (5-2) and the Russian bear closed its jaws around Stalingrad, trapping the Sixth Army inside.
In Africa, the U.S. Army was once again failed to breakthrough the narrow gulleys of the Kasserine Pass (6-1). However the Eighth Army managed to launch an assault into the outskirts of Benghazi, encircling the defending Panzers and cutting off and capturing the city.
Both the British and the Soviets have made progress towards their objectives, however the U.S. are sadly lagging behind. The Germans had a difficult week, but there's a long way to go.