AAR by: Joey Sabin
Advanced Squad Leader AAR: Hill 235.5 (132)
Here’s the historical situation:
Date: July 9, 1943
Location: Near Ponyri, Russia
Attacker: German (Panzer Division 18 and Panzerjäger Battalion 653)
Defender: Russian (307th Rifle Division/Mechanized Brigade)
Operation Citadel had begun, but instead of the desired lightning breakthrough, fighting had taken on the characteristics of World War I trench warfare. In four days of grueling combat, the XLI Panzer Corps had managed to penetrate the defenses of the Soviet 13th Army to only a depth of five miles. The German corps, now being slowly forced onto the defensive by increasing enemy pressure, needed to secure a strong position on which to anchor its left flank and to free the mobile elements. Such a spot was the commanding height of Hill 253.5 near the village of Ponyri. On 9 July, the Germans stormed and captured Hill 239.8 and, to exploit this success, an assault on 253.5 was ordered.
This has got to be, if not the single best scenario ever designed, certainly the most exciting. It includes everything but the kitchen sink in equal amounts for both sides, and my opponent wasn’t sure he didn’t spot a kitchen sink amongst the debris. Observing my opponent’s initial setup, I was pleased to see such a foreword defense. Somehow, my tactical brain reasoned, this meant a swifter victory, but as I was soon to discover, the last minute, skin of my teeth, barely won victory was anything but easy. My 88mm had the high points covered, and would not disappoint, whilst my Panthers took a slow methodical well covered approach to the hill tops beyond.
The scenario opened with a round of very successful blasts from the crested 88. Unfortunately, the success was met with an equal amount of misfortune as the 88 temporarily ran out of ammo, and despite being shocked, I shouldn’t have been surprised with such a rich target area. To add insult to injury, the promised heavy mortar support was not currently available, and would not be for quite some time as any attempt to garner the promised heavy mortar support, was either plagued with communication difficulties, or not currently available due to other commitments. The Panthers and halftracks on the other hand did very well driving the enemy back despite wire and mine obstacles, as one knocked out a small caliber hidden AT gun whilst the other crept slowly up the adjacent slopes heavily protected in the wooded terrain by infantry support.
As the 88 departed the map to meet up with the ammo trucks somewhere in the rear, the two Panthers and accompanying halftracks pressed on, cutting routs through anti-personnel minefields for the foot soldiers to follow. It was at this point a panther crested the hill and began delivering rounds upon the heads of the remaining dug in enemy forces, while the halftracks unbuttoned their passengers in order to more effectively overrun enemy units now in the rear.
As Soviet reinforcements poured in, one Panther and supporting infantry managed, with the help of a Stuka Dive Bomber, to uncover a large caliber hidden AT gun (ART) and eliminate it, while on the east side of the slopes, the other Panther was in a fight for its life, firing Tit for Tat in a deadly exchange with another AT (ART) gun that exhausted its APCR, as the long-awaited heavy mortar support held back the enemy infantry from the now vulnerable dueling Panther.
Now that the Russian FB was out of action, their one remaining Panther, and a handful of infantry, pressed on to take the one final hill top, eliminating one Russian Tank and warning off the other.
As an enemy Fighter Bomber loomed dangerously overhead, and the Panther provided cover fire, the Panzer Grenadiers in their Half-Tracked chariots drove home the final and fatal blow, as the entire scenario boiled down to a single die roll amidst a brawling Melee, who’s outcome resulted in a German victory.
Copyright © 2021, Joey Sabin. All rights reserved.
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