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Mein Panzer Cold War - The Soviet Demonstration


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#1 Begemot_

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Posted 23 October 2022 - 03:40 PM

Mein Panzer Cold War

 

The Soviet’s Demonstration

 

Introduction

 

My previously posted AAR, The S2’s Demonstration, showed how an unsuppressed ATGM defense by a depleted US mechanized infantry company using TOWs and Dragons could decisively defeat a Soviet attack by a full strength motor rifle company mounted in BMPs and supported by a platoon of 4 T62 tanks. Granted, this was an unrealistic scenario with the absence of artillery, but it did demonstrate how lethal an unsuppressed ATGM defense could be.

 

This AAR, The Soviet’s Demonstration, takes the same forces with the same mission, but now with both sides having artillery in support. In this scenario, the Russian God of War (Бог Войны) will speak.

 

 

Situation

 

It is the summer of 1976. The US force is a standard mechanized infantry company of the time, which has taken losses in its infantry forces (each infantry platoon has lost a squad in a previous engagement), but with its mortars and TOW section intact. Three Dragons remain, apportioned one to each platoon of infantry. The US force has a battery of 155mm artillery on call for Final Protective Fires (FPF).

 

Neither side has any air assets in support.

 

Both forces are rated as Regulars for troop quality.

 

The US company has taken up a hasty position on a hill and has had time to dig in, but no more. The two TOWs are deployed on the flanks and are in Overwatch. Their mission is to hold the hill they are positioned on.

 

The Soviets are a standard full strength motor rifle company of 10 BMPs with infantry with a 4 tank platoon of T-62s attached. The Soviets have a battalion (3 batteries of six guns) of 122mm artillery allocated to provide preparatory fires, 2 fires of HE and one fire of smoke.

 

The Soviets will attack across a kilometer of of open ground from a wooded area. Their mission is to seize the hill.

 

The Soviets will apply the concentrated fire of its artillery battalion on the US position to suppress the US defenses so that the attacking infantry and tanks can cross the open ground with minimal losses. This is in accord with Soviet practice: put a heavy barrage on a target in as short a time as possible to gain suppression and minimize the artillery’s exposure to counter-battery fire.

 

For example: the Soviets estimated that a battery of 6 guns would require 33 minutes to effect the destruction of a mech infantry company. Using a battalion of 18 guns would take 10 minutes.[1]

 

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The view of the field from the Soviet side. The Soviets will attack out of the woods. They must cross a kilometer of open ground.

 

 

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The US position from the Soviet perspective. TOWs are on either flank.

 

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The rear of the US position showing the mortars,

 

 

 

 

The Engagement

 

 

Turn 1 sees the Soviet barrage begin of the US position. The effects are severe. Both TOW tracks are destroyed, an APC is destroyed and another is immobilized. One infantry squad takes a casualty and another is eliminated. This causes the left US platoon to Break, but they remain in place – nowhere to go except into the storm of fire. After seeing the effect of the barrage on their lost brothers the surviving APCs pull back down the hill to escape getting hit. All other US units in the beaten zone are pinned or suppressed. The Soviet attack force remains concealed in the trees.

 

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Turn 1: The Soviet barrage begins.

 

 

Turn 2 and the barrage continues to pound the Americans. One squad takes a casualty and morale begins to come under pressure – another squad Breaks and another becomes Shaken. Now the Soviets emerge from the trees, moving at speed towards the smoke and dust enshrouded hill. No Dragon gunner is going to expose himself and his weapon to this storm fire. The Soviet artillery has so far successfully suppressed the US ATGMs.

 

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Turn 2: The Soviet advance begins.

 

Turn 3 and the Americans are still effectively suppressed. Combine suppression with line of sight blocked by smoke and dust from the barrage and the Americans can’t call in their mortar or artillery support. Attempts to recover from the Broken and Shaken morale conditions fail. The Soviet artillery changes to smoke. The Soviet attack continues the advance.

 

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Turn 3: Smoke begins to fall on the objective.

 

 

Turn 4 and the Soviets, gaining the initiative, drive through the smoke and into the American position as their barrage is lifted. This puts the Soviets behind the Americans who slowly begin to recover from the shock of the barrage. Their Shaken squad recovers, but US left platoon fails morale recovery and remains Broken.

 

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Turn 4: The barrage lifts and the Soviets drive into the US position.

 

 

Turn 5 and the US commander, realizing that the Soviets are on top of him, calls the US artillery onto his own position. Now the Soviets pay, as the 155mm shells take their revenge: one T-62 is knocked out as are three BMPs. The Soviet infantry escapes from their vehicles but are Suppressed. But the artillery does not discriminate and the US takes a hit on one of its squads with two others Suppressed as well. Scattered small arms fire breaks out and a few attempts with LAWs fail. Two of the T-62 tanks break out of the trees on the backside of the US position which causes the US APCs to take flight. The US mortars, seeing the panicked retreat, up stakes as well.

 

 

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Turn 5: The US calls down artillery onto its own position.

 

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Turn 5: The Sight of Russian tanks sends the US rear into flight.

 

 

Turn 6 and the US artillery continues to fall on the US position. Another BMP is killed with its squad escaping the vehicle. A confused fire fight continues on the hill where the US artillery does not fall and begins to go in the Soviets’ favor. The US center platoon, forced to make a morale check, Breaks. With US artillery and Soviet small arms fire coming at them from their rear and flanks, they take heels down the front slope of the US position.

 

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Turn 6: The US position begins to collapse.

 

 

 

(Continued ----- )


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#2 Begemot_

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Posted 23 October 2022 - 03:47 PM

Turn 7 and the US company commander, having lost contact with his command, lifts the American artillery fires and assumes an escape and evasion posture. The Soviets destroy the last US squad on the US right and the broken US squads in the center continue their flight. On the US left the remaining US squad keeps up the desperate fight, inflicting casualties on the Soviets pressing in on their fighting positions.

 

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Turn 7: The final agonies.

 

Turn 8 sees the last US resistance eliminated and the fleeing US squads in the open field chopped down. The US company HQ continues to successful escape and evade. The US vehicle park has fully left the field. The Soviets begin to reorganize and consolidate the objective.

 

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Turn 8: Победа! (Victory!)

 

 

 

US Losses:      2 x TOW tracks

                        2 x M113s

                        6 x Infantry squads (100%)

 

Soviet Losses: 1 x T62

                        5 x BMPs

                        2.5 x Infantry squads (39%)

 

 

Conclusions

 

Clearly, artillery was the decisive element in this scenario. It inflicted most of the casualties on both sides and for the Soviets it successfully shut down the US ATGM defense, allowing the Soviets to close with the Americans without loss.

 

Was this a realistic scenario? Certainly more so than in the previous AAR, The S2’s Demonstration. The reality would be somewhere between the extremes of these two scenarios, though closer to this one rather to its predecessor. Any significant Cold War combat which excludes or severely minimizes Soviet artillery will be, in my considered opinion, understating the reality.

 

I would like to compliment the Mein Panzer rules for their treatment of the effects of HE (high explosive) artillery on vehicles. Vehicles are at fairly severe risk here, and all but one vehicle were lost to artillery. This tracks with studies that the Soviets carried out and which the US confirmed in its own studies in the 1980s (see https://www.scribd.c...an-t-Kill-Armor). I have used two other rule sets (TacForce and Dunn Kempf) produced in the 1970s which used earlier US data on artillery effects and which produced less damage to armor, thereby encouraging armor drive-throughs of artillery barrages as a viable tactic. Not a good idea in Mein Panzer nor in the real world.

 

Mein Panzer works well in the Cold War environment and I’m looking forward to the release of the Cold War rules and data for this period.

 

Notes

 

[1] Baxter, William, “Soviet AirLand Battle Tactics”, Presidio Press, 1986, pg. 184.

 

 

Close Ups of the Protagonists

 

Her are close up photos of some of the figures and vehicles used in these games. All are by GHQ.

 

US infantry company command stand:

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US infantryman with M203:

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US M113 in verdant MERDC:

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T-62s:

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BMPs:

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#3 W. Clark

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Posted 24 October 2022 - 03:54 AM

The only comment I can make is there would likely be flanking fires from adjacent (off Table) companies, but battalion SOPs might inhibit that depending on how they were written. Otherwise I think your example of an obvious US position with nothing to draw off Soviet arty and no supporting fires, mines or other impediment would in all likelihood suffer a similar fate in real life.

 

WMC


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#4 Peter M. Skaar

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Posted 25 October 2022 - 05:17 PM

That is a great AAR, Begemot, with the effects of artillery fired by both sides quite clearly shown.  It was a definitely different outcome that the S-2s version.  This looks promising for the rules in general.



#5 healey36

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Posted 27 October 2022 - 04:25 AM

These both seem a good demonstration of the extremes that might have occurred with the varying competence of Soviet commanders/doctrine. I expect actual events, had the balloon ever gone up, lay somewhere in the middle. Thanks very much for taking the time to play/document the outcomes; I look forward to someday getting the piles of modern lead on the table.


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#6 W. Clark

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Posted 28 October 2022 - 01:26 AM

IMHO, if you are playing NATO, you need to be clever and try not deploying in an obvious manner except for dummy positions designed to draw Soviet attention while you smack them in the back of the head. You are looking to murder them, not fight them.

 

My best battalion commander of the three I had in Germany would use terrain to mask the enemies' supporting fires while he drew their attack into a fire sack where they were being struck from two to three different angles. Someone was almost always getting flanking fire and that would result in them dying without ever seeing who killed them. But the trouble with that is that not every piece of ground is conducive to that tactic and after awhile the survivors will start to recognize when the ground allows that kind of defense. 

 

As far as troop quality goes, there is no way to show who was better in the 70s. The US Army did a miserable in keeping tank crews together except for the annual tank gunnery when all your year long detachments came back for a couple weeks so you could field full strength crews to qualify. I think the later 80s are different because of all the attention paid to training, both in the field and with simulators. The proof of, or at least an indicator is the Gulf War where we took on an army using the Soviet system and equipment that had recently gone through an 8 year war and took them apart with ease. Also the drop off from category A to B and C divisions both in training and equipment meant that the Soviets would lead with their very best foot forward at a point when NATO was close to full strength and able to attrite them severely.

 

On the other hand, it is also my opinion (humble or not) that the Soviets would have come in October when there is ground fog that often lasts until midday almost 70% of the time. Before thermal this meant that NATO would lose its range advantage even if the terrain allowed it. But, I don't believe that NATO was serious in the 70s about fighting and winning a conventional war in Europe. That would change as the US began deploying more brigades to Germany to increase our on the ground troop strength and the flak we gave the Germans about their intention to disband one of their ten divisions. But I also remember trips to our ammo storage to restack the ammo cases (something to do with increasing their shelf life) and seeing just how little ammo there was. IMHO we were a nuclear trip wire until well into the 80s.

 

WMC


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#7 Peter M. Skaar

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Posted 03 November 2022 - 03:13 PM

I suppose you could make the argument that the two scenarios show the extremes of what American planners and Soviet planners would have liked to have seen happen.  I am with those that think that the actual results might have been somewhere in between depending on factors of how much time the Americans have to dig in and lay wire and mines etc plus support from flanking units as well.  There are lots of ways this could have gone,in my opinion, depending on those factors.

With that having been said, I think Begemot did a great job showing the potential of the Mein Panzer rules for Cold War combat.



#8 Kenny Noe

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Posted 03 November 2022 - 06:11 PM

I suppose you could make the argument that the two scenarios show the extremes of what American planners and Soviet planners would have liked to have seen happen.  I am with those that think that the actual results might have been somewhere in between depending on factors of how much time the Americans have to dig in and lay wire and mines etc plus support from flanking units as well.  There are lots of ways this could have gone,in my opinion, depending on those factors.

With that having been said, I think Begemot did a great job showing the potential of the Mein Panzer rules for Cold War combat.

I would concur.  Both scenarios highlight the MPC rules very well.  I hesitate to give my own 0.02¢ because it's Begemot's scenario.  But I have one point and two questions.

 

Point - An entire Soviet Battalion of Arty seems a little overkill.  Especially when all batteries focus on the same grid coord.  I do understand that this is exactly what Soviet Doctrine preaches and in the real world apply.  (Father above, help those under that murderous fire!).   My experience in playing convention games teaching the rules, I play a little with the amount of Arty on both sides.  Usually one battery of six guns per player.  Or one battery of Arty and one flight of aircraft or helos.  Players typically fire their batteries where "they" need it and not fire on the same coord unless the players are very savvy in their tactics.

 

Question - Was deviation dice used to shift the artillery to the actual landing spot?  Also the 6mm Arty template is only 7x 3 inches.   The ridge line appears to be 24" long.  The 3x battalion barrage seems to cover the entire ridge.  I would think there might be some places that didn't fall under a template.  But I didn't see the target points or template grid.  I could be wrong.

 

Question - Why didn't the US Mortars fire?  I understand they bugged out as soon as the enemy appeared at the door step.  But would have thought one barrage would have slowed the advancing tracks down.  Plus if they were used to attack the enemy tracks and infantry then the 155s could have done counter battery fire on the Soviet Battalion.  Just a thought.

 

The advancing Soviet forces really swarmed the US forces before they could offer resistance.

 

I've had scenarios go like this....  <grin>

 

Thanks for the AAR.  I enjoyed the read.



#9 W. Clark

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Posted 03 November 2022 - 10:00 PM

I know what the Soviets claimed they could do. But I also know what our army could (and could not) do in the same time period and we were supposedly a professional army made up of long term volunteers and not a conscript army in continual flux, personnel wise. I strongly suspect that very few (if any class A formations) could perform as the Soviet battalion did. As I wrote before the Iraqis using the Soviet model with an army seasoned with 8 years of active war experience made a total hash of it. By the same token though, the original demo was also very unrealistic no matter how good for morale it was. 

 

Never the less, the conventional wisdom of the time was that Soviet arty would rule the field unless you avoided it with deploying where it was not going to land without them winning the recon fight before the fight. As it stands the real hole in the scenario is that neither side got a chance to impact the scenario by fighting and winning the preceding recon fight. I suppose it is like the Soviet and NATO air forces each claiming they are going to wipe each other from the sky. If you take them both at their word then you don't need to have any airpower simulated on the table at all. But I believe we do not believe all the Airedale claims from either side and that the truth would lay somewhere in the middle. Where in the middle is something you can use a die roll to determine that would affect either side's efforts by detracting from their support. And, as Kenny pointed out, some dispersion of arty impact is called for no matter what.

 

None of this means that the AAR was not entertaining as I personally read it and reveled in the memories it brought back of my world some 40 years ago.

 

WMC


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#10 Begemot

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Posted 09 November 2022 - 03:06 PM

Kenny - 
 
Here are answers to some of your questions.
 
"An entire Soviet Battalion of Arty seems a little overkill.  Especially when all batteries focus on the same grid coord. I do understand that this is exactly what Soviet Doctrine preaches and in the real world apply."
 
The demo was intended to illustrate Soviet doctrine, as I understand it at present. This was not intended as a competitive game scenario, so a heavy volume of fire is put on an objective the Soviets consider desirable to take.
 
The Soviet fire plan in this scenario was to cover the width of the US position to suppress the US ATGM defenses. The three batteries were assigned individual aim points to cover this width. They were not assigned a common aim point.
 
"Question - Was deviation dice used to shift the artillery to the actual landing spot?"
 
For the Soviet barrage, no deviation die rolls were made. This was considered pre-registered fire and therefore accurate for the fire to fall centered on each aim point. Normal die rolls were made to scatter the individual shots. I've read the discussion in the Mein Panzer rules discussion on this topic and I'm persuaded that a battery won't fire until the shot caller feels the registering rounds are fairly close to the target. Then the battery will fire. For my own house rules I've reduced deviation distances considerably for those situations where it is appropriate. The Soviet fires would have been plotted, registered and directed by at least the battery commanders and maybe even the artillery battalion commander. These would be highly trained and experienced professionals.
 
"Question - Why didn't the US Mortars fire?"
 
Reason 1: No line of sight for the mortar observer. Smoke, dust and explosions under a barrage encourage you to keep your head down.
 
Reason 2: The guys with the mortars would hear the Soviet barrage, but wouldn't know what was happening. Do they, in the absence of orders (remember the FO is trying to keep his head safe) fire a barrage on their own initiative? On the game table, one sees a lot. If you are on the ground you don't see so much, so ignorance of the situation breeds doubt and indecision. And you don't have unlimited ammo. Do you fire it up at what may be phantoms of the imagination? Explain that to the CO when it's time for the real mission and you've fired up your stock. So indecision and lack of command direction kept the mortars from firing.
 
I appreciate the interest these Cold War scenarios have generated. I will have to consider doing one that will be more "realistic."

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#11 Kenny Noe

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Posted 10 November 2022 - 08:28 AM

Begemot,

 

All good.   I appreciate your input to clarify my questions.  As I initially stated I was hesitant to throw my 0.02¢ in the convo as this is your scenario, but had those "nagging" questions...   <grin>

 

Still a good AAR and look forward to more.

 

Thanks



#12 W. Clark

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Posted 10 November 2022 - 07:14 PM

Its true that the Soviets registered their arty and its also true that gives fair warning about what you can expect to follow. IMHO it makes it time to re-site you ATGMs to avoid what the Soviets have telegraphed. If you don't make allowances for that then you are requiring the NATO player to ignore the marking rounds he saw impact prior to all hell coming down. And I agree completely with your evaluation that Soviet practice calls for arty battalion concentrations, but it is cumbersome in getting in on target and some allowance for side stepping it should be allowed. It probably comes down to table space. If your table width only allows for the defense's deployment in a tight area similar to the way units deployed in WWII then there is no space to play with and you get what you get. But, by the 70s we were spreading out considerably more and using fire to control areas that would have required bodies in the past. That made it harder to just blanket an area and expect to catch everything under the barrage. Like, I said in an earlier post. You almost always have some leeway in how you defend the area assigned as far as placement of your platoons goes. The NATO player should evaluate the area and try to avoid posting his troops in obvious arty targets.

 

Remember, that we were heavily out numbered and had to make some effort at force preservation if we wanted any chance of being able last long enough to pare those 41 class divisions in the Soviet Group of Forces Germany down to where 6-8 divisions (including reinforcements) could expect not only to hold, but be able to counter attack.



#13 healey36

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Posted 12 November 2022 - 10:22 AM

Somewhat unrelated...did the US ever employ tripod-mounted TOW in some sort of battery formation? All I'm familiar with is TOW as vehicle mounted, typically APCs or other light vehicles (M2, M113, HMMWV, etc.). If so, what did reload capability/supply for a ground/dismounted battery look like?  



#14 W. Clark

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Posted 13 November 2022 - 03:16 AM

Straight leg infantry deployed their TOWs that way and we had the tripods to do it too. In fact that is how I would have used it in a prepared position with it dug in with overhead cover. But, I was first and foremost a 19Delta (cavalry scout) and I was very much inclined to leave that to the 11Hotel (anti-tank) types if at all possible. I'd would have rather taken my chances with Soviet Recon then have engaged in a knock down drag out with Soviet Motor rifle and Tank forces. It is possible to kill a BRDM with a fifty and the fifty was my personal favorite.

 

WMC


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