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Old May 2nd, 2018, 05:34 PM
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Default Herbstnebel vs the AI

“The German offensive in the Battle of the Bulge is very interesting from the standpoint of casting an alternate reality. First of all, not very much needs to change for the outcome to be different.”

- John Prados, Operation Herbstnebel, Smoke Over the Ardennes




So, I decided to try to wargame some of the Bulge battles using winSPWW2. And to add some randomness (with a dice or two) in order to change things up a bit. Will probably take forever to complete...

The broad picture:

December 1944 - Germany has stockpiled enough ammo and fuel to sustain the Wacht am Rhein/Herbstnebel offensive.

The Luftwaffe has been concentrated to the West, including the bulk of the air units from the Eastern Front leaving that front dangerously weak – but in accordance with the theory of massing your best forces for a decisive blow and the understanding of the difficulties of conducting large scale offensive ground operations under allied air superiority.

The offensive aims at taking Antwerp and the destruction of the Allied northern armies.

The offensive will be played from the German viewpoint as a series of campaigns and maybe single battles.

Logistics and maintenance friction will play a role in reducing the number of available vehicles, especially for the German side.

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Old May 2nd, 2018, 06:04 PM
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Default Re: Herbstnebel vs the AI

Dice rolls modifying the initial strength and preparedness of 6. Panzerarmee and LXVII. Armeekorps:

6. Panzerarmee

- Command of 6. Panzerarmee is given to Paul Hausser instead of Sepp Dietrich. Dice roll 1. Roll 1 – Approved.

- Use of armour in the initial attack, 6. Panzerarmee sector – Dice roll 1 or 2. Roll 2 – Approved.

- Shift of 1. SS Panzerkorps main attack south (to avoid Elsenborn), Dice Roll 1 or 2. Roll 1 - Approved*

- Alternate use of SS sPzAbt 501, Dice Roll 1, 2 or 3. Roll 6 – Denied, remains with KG Peiper.

- Alternate use of (Heer) sPzJgAbt 560, Dice Roll 1, 2 or 3. Roll 1 – Approved.

*Decided to keep the 1. SS Panzerkorps historical attack sector, because maps of the historical attack region will probably be more interesting to make. The information regarding shifting the attack sector south comes from Hubert Meyer's divisional history (12. SS Pz-Div).



LXVII. Armeekorps

- 272. Volksgrenadier-Division is only partially bound by American attacks and elements are available for Herbstnebel. Dice roll 1. Roll 5 – Denied.

- 272. Volksgrenadier-Division artillery is availiable for initial artillery barrage supporting LXVII. Armeekorps. Dice roll 1, 2, 3 or 4. Roll 6 – Denied.

Strumgeschutz-Brigade 394 arrives on time for use by LXVII. Armeekrops. Dice roll 1 or 2. Roll 3 – Denied.

schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung 653 arrives on time for use by LXVII. Armeekorps. Dice roll 1 or 2. Roll 4 – Denied.

Panzerjägerkompanie 1326 (1/PzJgAbt 326) arrives on time for use by 326. Volksgrenadier-Division. Dice roll 1 or 2. Roll 6 – Denied.

2/Panzerjäger-Abteilung 326 equipped and ready with 7,5cm Pak 40 in time for start of the offensive. Dice roll 1 or 2. Roll 3 – Denied.

StuG-Brigade 902 attached to LXVII Armeekorps on Führer orders. Arrives in time for the initial offensive. Dice roll 1 or 2. Roll 1 – Approved.

Sturm-Mörser-Kompanie 1000 attached to LXVII. Armeekorps. Arrives in time for the initial offensive. Dice roll 1 or 2. Roll 4 – Denied.

Strum-Mörser-Kompanie 1001 attached to LXVII. Armeekorps. Arrives in time for the initial offensive. Dice roll 1 or 2. Roll 2 – Approved.

Daylight transport of armoured units to 326. Volksgrenadier-Division concentration area is spotted by the Allies causing greater preparation in US 99th Infantry-Division. Dice roll 1, 2 or 3. Roll 4 – Denied.
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Old May 2nd, 2018, 07:56 PM
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Default Re: Herbstnebel vs the AI

HÖFEN and MONSCHAU - December 16, 1944

LXVII. Armeekorps
Stab
272. Volksgrenadier-Division
326. Volksgrenadier-Division
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 683(mot) - (8,8cm Pak, towed)
Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 394 - (StuG III)
schwere Heeres-Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 653 - (Jagd-Tiger/sSfl-Pak)
Volks-Artillerie-Korps 405
Volks-Werfer-Brigade 17 (Rgt 88, 89)
Heeres-Artillerie-Batterie 1100 (three 30,5cm Mörser)

Last minute attachments, on Führer orders:
Sturm-Mörser Kompanie 1000 - (4 Sturm-Tiger)
Sturm-Mörser Kompanie 1001 - (4 Strum-Tiger)
Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 902 - (StuG III/StuH42)


Possible later attachements:
3. Panzer-Grenadier-Division
246. Volksgrenadier-Division


LXVII. Armeekorps objective (Korpsbefehl):

a) Corps form up for attack near SIMMERATH, MONSCHAU-OST, FORSTHAUS WAHLERSCHEID, HARPERSCHEID, DEDENBORN.

b) Breaks through enemy positions on both sides of MONSCHAU.

c) Attacks - with mobile elements in the lead – to the Weser river between EUPEN and LIMBOURG.

d) Establish flank protection for friendly armoured units to the south along the line SIMMERATH – EUPEN – LIMBOURG – LIEGE. Reinforcements with additional divisions necessary for this task.

e) Weser (-Vesdre) line to be defended with greatest possible determination. Here Corps Hauptkampflinie!



Friction of War

By December 15 the entire 272. Volks-Grenadier-Division is bound by American attacks and unavailable for the Corps attack mission, including its artillery regiment.

Strumgeschütz-Brigade 394 has been delayed by allied bombing against German communications and has not reached the area of operations.

Schwere-Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 653 with its heavy Jagd-Tigers has not reached the area of operations.

Several battalions of the 326. Volksgrenadier-Division have been attached to hold the line north (supporting 272. Vgren-Div) and south (relieving parts of 277. Vgren-Div) and are unavailable for the Corps attack mission.

Jagdpanzer-Kompanie 1326 (2./PzJgAbt326) is en route from MILOWITZ but has not yet arrived. 1./PzJgAbt 326 (Pak-Kp) - just recently equipped with 7,5cm Pak 40 - has not yet arrived.

In order to bolster the attack strength of LXVII. Corps, especially since it lacks armour, Sturmgeschütz-Brigade 902 (from 15th Army) and Sturm-Mörser-Kompanien 1000 and 1001, are attached on orders from the Führer. StuG-Brigade 902 and St-Mr-Kp 1001 arrive in the Corps area during the afternoon of December 15 – after a daylight transport, a violation of the instructions for Operation Wacht am Rhein/Herbstnebel. St-Mr-Kp 1000 fails to arrive.

I/GR752 not arrived in full strength at its forming up point by start of the offensive.

II/GR752 still in the line South of SIMMERATH, not relived in time.

I/GR753 attached to VGD272 near KASTERNICH, not available for Corps attack mission. II/GR753 in reserve behind I/GR753 – also not available.
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Old May 2nd, 2018, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: Herbstnebel vs the AI

The Attack on HÖFEN - Dec 16, 1944.

Turn 1-10

Artillery blanket HÖFEN. Infantry move out under cover of the barrage. I/GR751 from the Kluckbach and Klosbach streams east of ROHREN. Attacking HÖFEN north. II/GR752 with the 1/StuG-Brig902 in support attack against ALZEN and HÖFEN south. Weak American artillery response is triggered. By turn 10 the late arriving GR752 show up. It is only one battalion strong (I/GR752). Begin move to attack MONSCHAU. Artillery effort concentrated to ALZEN and HÖFEN south.




MONSCHAU with it's old timber houses is to be spared artillery fire - this on FM Model's orders.

Turn 11- 25

II/GR751 reach outskirts of HÖFEN south. Skirmish with Ami infantry. The battalion takes ALZEN against weak infantry resistance but suffer casualties from Ami artillery. Support by 1/StuG-Brig 902 given. One Stug III made immobile after hit from artillery fire. One StuG III killed by Ami Pak gun (57mm). Elements of II/GR751 link up with the main part of 1/PiBtl 326 in HÖEFEN south. Here the American infantry resistance is stronger. A strong-point with entrenched heavy Ami Pak guns and sMG is finished off after a stiff fight. The Pioniere are supported by the four Sturm-Tiger SP guns of Sturm-Mörser-Kompanie 1001. One Sturm-Tiger is hit by a 3in Pak round causing damage to its main gun. The big Sturm-Tigers attract a fair amount of heavy enemy artillery fire.

I/GR751 advancing on HÖFEN north are delayed by a minefield. Light casualties. The weight of the VAK405 is shifted to HÖFEN north.

I/GR752 arrives on foot, marching for IMGENBROICH were it is to form up for an attack on MENZERATH and then MONSCHAU.




The hard fought over American Pak stellung that gave the Sturm-Tigers and the engineers of the first company, Pioneer Battalion 326 a hard time.

Turn 26 - 32

I/GR751's leading company (2/751 – Obl. Heinz-Peter Richter) unable to advance on HÖFEN north due to enemy artillery fire. (Bleibt in fdl. Artillerie-feuer liegen). Losses mounting.
II/GR751 meeting greater success, captures ALZEN – but companies are being separated inside the village. 7/751 advances on the crossing point at Perlenbacher Mühle. Sturm-Tigers crucial in breaking the defence of HÖFEN centre, but now almost out of main gun ammo. A concentration of Ami 155s strike the main group of 1/PiBtl 326 near HÖFEN centre causing severe casualties.



Sturm-Tigers in the middle of HÖFEN. Crucial in breaking the resistance from enemy strongpoints.

Own artillery smash up HÖFEN north/HEIDEGEN.

American infantry observed retreating from bridge at Perlenbacher Mühle after artillery supported attack by 7/751 (Oblt. Klaus-Ulrich Keubke).

Turn 33 - 38

I/GR751 is meeting stiff resistance in HÖFEN north. Sturm-Tigers are called forward but now almost completely out of ammo. Artillery ammo is also running low. Remaining artillery concentrated on HÖFEN north to break Ami resistance.

II/GR751 has broken the resistance in HÖFEN south and almost secured a foothold on the other side of the Perlenbach stream. It is doubtful if the battalion has enough strength to continue the attack west towards KALTHERBERG. Upon crossing at the Perlenbacher Mühle one StuG is knocked out by a hidden 3in AT-gun.



StuG lost to Pak gun, near Perlenbacher Mühle.

I/GR752 still en route to IMGENBROICH.
1/PiBtl 326 struggles to get the attack on HÖFEN center going again.



I/GR752 crossing the WIDDAU bridge on the Rur, trying to make up for lost time, moving on IMGENBROICH and later MONSCHAU.
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Old May 2nd, 2018, 08:35 PM
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Default Re: Herbstnebel vs the AI

Turn 39 - 68

I/GR752 ordered to halt at IMGENBROICH and set up for defence against a possible American counterattack. No armour or artillery support can be given the battalion.

I/GR751 still fighting in HÖFEN north. When the resistance appear to be broken an enemy light tank shows up. St-Mr-Kp 1000 ordered to disengage. One Zug (two StuG III) from 1/StuG-Brig 902 sent north to deal with possible enemy tanks. An American tank counterattack from the direction of MONSCHAU develops, supported by some infantry and mortar as well as artillery fire. I/GR751 is reeling back. StuG Commander Rudolf Engelhardt knocks out two enemy light tanks. An American armoured car is also taken out. 1/StuG-Brig 902 Company HQ tank moved north to help out. Big engagement flares up around HÖFEN north as the American tank attack is repulsed.



The American counterattack by parts of the 38th Cav Recon Squadron and engineers of the 99th Division, that smashed into the first battalion, Grenadier Regiment 751.


II/GR751 now across Perlenbach but without strength to continue advance. Scout parties will be sent west while the battalion sets up for defence of ground gained.

Enemy artillery still very much active.

Turn 69 – 88

I/GR752 establish defensive positions in IMGENBROICH. Btl has no enemy contacts, no losses.

I/GR751 with three assault guns and 1/PiBtl 326 in support beat back the Ami counterattack and establish a foothold on the far side of the Perlenbach stream. Unable to reach MONSCHAU.

II/GR752 – bulk in defensive posture HÖFEN south/ALZEN. Two platoons of 7/GR752 and four StuG penetrate into the near undefended KALTHERBERG - under command of Oblt Keubke – enemy staff, logistics and artillery elements take up arms and the fighting is particularly intense near the church.



Keubke's battle around the St Lambertus chruch.

Losses Gren–Rgt 751

I. Btl


1Kp, light casualties.
2Kp, heavy casualties, remains four Squads intact or near intact.
3Kp, moderate casualties, remains six Squads intact or near intact. Company Commander, Oblt Wagner, killed.
4Kp, light casualties, no weapon losses.

II. Btl


5Kp, moderate casualties, 4 Squads intact or near intact.
6Kp, moderate casualties, 4 Squads intact or near intact.
7Kp, moderate casualties, remains 5 Squads intact or near intact. Half of the Kp Scharfschuetzen fallen.
8Kp, light casualties, no weapon losses.

13Kp, no casualties, no weapon losses.
14Kp, panzerjaeger Ofenrohr. Attached to Grenadier Kompanien.

Sturm Moerser Kompanie 1001, one Sturmtiger in long term repair.

1/StuG Brig 902, 1 StuG III in short term repair. 1 StuH42 in long term repair. Two StuG III knocked out.


Enemy losses

Greater part of the American Third battalion, 395th Infantry
Most of the committed elements of the 38th Cav Recon Sqdrn, including its Light tank Company.
One 105mm Artillery Battalion, 99th Infantry Division

Kriegsbeute

Three American 105mm Howitzers
Two American 3in AT Gun
One 60mm Mortar
One damaged M8 Armored Car
One damaged M5 Stuart light tank
Ten trucks in various states of repair.
Two jeeps in running order.



Some of the American 10,5cm artillery overrun in KALTHERBERG.
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Old May 3rd, 2018, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Herbstnebel vs the AI



In this battle I used the Venhola program to build a map of Höfen/Monschau/Kaltherberg. Interestingly the 200x160 also includes the Wahlersheid crossroads – an American objective just prior to the start of the German offensive.

I selected and deployed the American force I later played against. I set up one American 105mm Artillery battalion on map with ammo bunkers to arrive as reinforcements on turn 10 – this to symbolize loss of comms immediately after the German opening barrage - and three off map 155mm batteries (with no reinforcement delay).

The American force was made up of one infantry battalion (green troops, the 3rd Bn, 395th Infantry) defending HÖFEN and one Cav Recon Company (Co C, 38th) along with one light tank company (Co F, 38th) defending MONSCHAU. The Cav behind extensive entrenchments and obstacles (wire) as some sources claim the Cavalrymen were well dug in.

American reserves included one engineer company and one Tank Destroyer platoon.

One company's worth of 3in AT-guns were deployed in the area of the infantry battalion (i.e. Co A, 612th Tank Destroyer Bn).

A few log bunkers were deployed in the American zone along with some minor minefields. Other than that I did not add any of the Siegfreid line bunkers or obstacles...


The German Campaign core force was made up of:

Stab
VB
Stabskompanie GR751 (one Bike Recon Plt, one VG Engineer Plt)
I Btl/GR751 (three VG companies, one VG heavy company)
II Btl/GR751 (three VG companies, one VG heavy company – heavy company has 7,5cm Howitzers instead of infantry guns.)

13./GR751 (infantry gun company, with 7,5cm IG and 12cm GrW).
(14./GR751 – AT-company, assumed to be the inf-at teams already attached to the VG rifle platoons)

AA Platoon – two 3,7cm sfl-FlaK from the 3/PzJgAbt 326.

AT-Gun Platoon – four 88mm Pak43/41 guns (no transport) from PzJgAbt 683(mot).

Sturm-Mörser-Kp 1001 – four Sturm-Tigers.
1/StuG-Brig 902 – one StuG company.

Aux forces for this battle:

I/GR752 (4 VG companies, one VG heavy company)
1/PiBtl 326 (Engineer company)
Artillerie-Regiment 326 (Four battalions – off map)
Volks-Artillerie-Korps 405 (Five battalions – off map)
schwere Artillerie-Batterie 1100 (24cm battery).
Volks-Werfer-Brigade 17 (four Nebelwerfer batteries)

(The German side had no ammo units.)


Reality vs Fiction

I based the German forces on Timm Haasler's very detailed book Die 326. Volksgrenadier-Division in der Ardennenoffensive 1944/45.

Historically the attack on Höfen was made by three weak battalions of the 326th Division without any AFV support. For some reason each regiment of this division was tasked with forming a small reserve battalion without heavy weapons which drained manpower strength even before the attack began. The real attack was however supported by more artillery than used in my setup – I used two batteries of Nebelwerfers from the 88. Werfer-Regiment, and two batteries of Nebelwerfers from the 89. Werfer-Regiment. In reality the 88. Werfer-Regiment fielded thirty-six 15cm and eighteen 21cm Nebelwerfers, while the 89. had thirty-six 15cm and eighteen 30cm Nebelwerfers). The real battle also saw the four artillery battalions of the 272. Volksgrenadier-Division added to the weight of the attack.

The attack went in in the early morning of December 16 - in poor visibility. I turned up the visibility to
15 hexes in order for the AI to make its long range weapons more dangerous.

In reality the German attack failed to make much of a dent in the American lines at Höfen and American artillery caused heavy losses among the attacking German infantry. The heavy German artillery on the other hand didn't do all that much against the dug in Americans.

Observations

When playing the battle the rather heavy artillery fire on Höfen killed one American AT-gun and maybe the odd bazooka team. As long as the American units remained dug in the artillery appears to not have done too much damage – which echoes reality IMO. Many times the artillery was unobserved. However, it seems unlikely that even a human American player would not have been able to maneuver the (green) infantry much under that weight of artillery fire with out substantial risk of casualties and routed units. The German attack was limited by the slow going of the leg infantry moving under winter conditions/winter fields. A human American player could probably have delayed the infantry advance more through use of the armoured cars and especially the light tank company than was the case in my game. I thought the ammo supplied 105s were going to be more devastating than the 155s overall because of the length of the game (88 turns) but really the most losses were due to heavy American off-map artillery.

At games end (turn 88) Gren-Rgt 751 was in possession of HÖFEN and had two footholds on the western side of the Perlenbach. A small platoon size force made it to KALTHERBERG.

MONSCHAU and MÜTZENICH remains in American hands, i.e. no clean German breakthrough.

The Sturm-Tigers were pretty useful for bunker busting work. Don't ever remember having played a game with this unit before...
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