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Old May 24th, 2018, 05:47 AM

jivemi jivemi is offline
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Default Armored Onslaught: The Bear Strikes (WP)

This is an AAR concerning Scenario #179, a hypothetical motorized Soviet infantry regiment assault supported by strong armor, artillery and air assets against (initially) West German infantry with supporting artillery and anti-air elements backing a US armored cavalry screen boasting a company of TI-equipped AFVs. The Wessies may receive armored reinforcements if Soviet air cannot knock them out as they come up.

---Spoiler Alert---

The battlefield—with 2.5 kilometers of frontage and over 7 deep—is dominated by 2 wide north-south ridges 30 meters high, with roughly 1.5-2 kilometers between them, each having several scattered military objectives and split by depressions through which a highway runs in its gently winding journey from eastern to western map-edge. A small town with more objectives nestles along the temporarily branched-out road for most of its length between the ridges.

About 1.5-2 kilometers east of the eastern ridge is a plateau 20 meters high, also bifurcated by depression and road, in places heavily wooded, on and behind which most Soviet maneuver forces are concentrated. A company of BMP-2 ATGM vehicles are dug in along its western edge in woods south of the road. All weapons have been turned off to avoid exposing themselves until they have clear, potentially lethal shots available. Forward of them in mostly open fields is an infantry company spread out in line halfway to the ridge.

Across the road are an MG platoon and a section of Sagger ATGM teams. Further ahead are 3 scout sections: one in front of the eastern ridge, another between ridges north of the town, and the most distant in woods near the northwest corner of the map. All other Soviet units are out of sight from any potential enemy observer, thermally assisted or not.

The assault force is impressive: a motorized infantry regiment mounted on BTRs, a battalion of T-80BVs, a company of T-62Ds, assorted anti-air assets, 3 batteries of 120mm SP mortars, 2 battalions each of 120mm and 152mm off-map artillery, a 6-jet flight each of SU-17 SEADs and Grach fighter-bombers, 4 Mi-24 attack helicopters and a single(?) 82mm mortar tube. That’s about 260 units in all. Unfortunately the soldiers themselves are not exactly world-beaters; their ratings for both experience and morale average about 65, and there is nary a veteran among them. Funny how they didn’t mention that in the briefing…

Given the open secret that US forces with vision through smoke occupy the first ridge, an unorthodox approach—however difficult that may be for the Soviet command structure to create or tolerate--is required. There will be no smokescreen, not even artillery bombardment on the first objectives, until all US AFVs are located and destroyed. Since a T-80’s frontal armor is (almost) proof against the M1 Abrams tank’s 105mm cannon at long range, they will be used as armored bait to entice the enemy into firing and revealing themselves, while the T-80’s more powerful 125mm cannon can punch through even the glacis of an Abrams with its APCR at 1500 meters [1]. Any ATGMs should be dealt with by a combination of evasion, anti-HEAT armor and advanced ERA.

So it begins. A company of infantry dismounts and heads west along the tree-lined road while another unloads under cover of the southern plateau’s woods, preparing to proceed into open fields ahead. Infantry already deployed forward advance on the southern ridge section while MG’s and Sagger section press ahead to the northern one. The attack helos spread out, proceeding cautiously towards overwatch positions at low altitude above the plateau. One scout section emerges from its hiding place and moves south toward the road west of the town, another approaches the first ridge from the rear, while the other nears it from the front.

The first T-80s lumber out from cover on the southern plateau and immediately draw fire. Two Abrams are revealed on the southern ridge and one is destroyed in a fusillade of armor-piercing shells. Hurra! Then, as a T-80 advances for a better shot it gets smashed by a Bradley's TOW missile. One helo spots it and promptly takes it out with a Kokon. The remaining enemy tank hides behind a screen from its smoke dischargers. To the north an enemy tank fires at elements of another T-80 company as they pop out on the northern plateau. Its shells cause no damage and it is quickly dispatched. But one panicky T-80 crew turns tail [2] and beats a hasty retreat; their tank’s exposed rear armor is promptly penetrated by APCR from an invisible foe. The first clash of armored titans is a draw.

There’s a short lull while the T-80s duck back under cover and wait for their antagonist to become visible again. As they do so a barrage of 122mm shells falls on some just south of the road, immobilizing one. The far-flung scout section hears artillery fire and spots smoke puffs on both sides of the road. They radio the coordinates so finally the artillery has something to shoot at.

One scout team in front of the ridge is blown away by an unseen MG but the other, closer to the road, blunders into an LMG which fails to fire and is taken out by the lucky scouts. Advanced infantry take cover in front of the ridge; a squad continues on and receives MG fire, but nobody spots anything. A couple Stinger missiles are fired at the Bradley-killing Hind which shrugs them off, but another strikes its rotor-mate in the armored nose, a fragment somehow penetrating to grievously wound the pilot. So long Comrade, return to base [3]!

After the surviving Abrams’ smoke dissipates the T-80s re-emerge from hiding and open fire. (Refleks missiles are now disabled since they are unable to penetrate the enemy’s tough hide [4].) Some receive hits but most shells bounce off harmlessly as more enemy tanks join the fray. Visible targets are quickly annihilated as the tank battalion presses forward on both sides of the road. One is slain by a TOW but the Bradley which fired it gets wasted by another Kokon from the same Hind. A T-80 north of the road gets whacked by a flank shot from yet another Abrams on the southern ridge which is gutted in turn by a 125mm APCR. One more tank on the northern ridge is spotted and blown away in a horizontal hail of high-velocity armor-piercing spikes.

There is an interlude of relative quiet as the T-80s cease fire. There are no more targets or return fire. Ten US AFVs lie as twisted wrecks, 2 of them burning fiercely, sending up pillars of roiling black smoke bending to the wind. The cost has been heavy—6 T-80s and several BTRs caught in the crossfire destroyed, 2 tanks immobilized – but their sacrifice has not been in vain.

The tanks move further into the open. No enemy response at first. However as one T-80 from F-Company moves into the field in front of the southern plateau a TOW missile is fired from the northern ridge by a Bradley in defilade. The tank sees it, takes evasive maneuvers and fires back. Both missile and cannon round miss. The Bradley tries again and this time the missile hits. Luckily the tank’s reactive hull armor diverts much of its force so the T-80 is only immobilized. Another F-Company tank moves abreast and destroys the Bradley with one shot.

Surely that must be the last enemy AFV. A general advance is ordered. Forward Comrades, to victory for the Motherland! BTRs now emerge from cover, rushing forward to join up with their dismounted consorts.

Unfortunately a few take the exhortation to extremes. After remounting their platoon-mates they charge impetuously toward the northern objective. Coming within 50 meters of dug-in West German Jaegers hidden in woods they are immediately taken out by PzF 44s. Surviving crews or passengers are quickly dispatched with small arms and grenades. Hearing their cries of distress over the radio net, others approach more warily, dismounting their infantry squads about 200 meters from suspected enemy positions. Some draw fire, and T-80s, frontally impervious to the Jaegers’ AT weapons, move up to provide support.

On the southern ridge section, where most objectives are located, the assault wave closes in. The screen of US cavalry scout and LMG teams, apparently awed by the armored avalanche rolling in upon them, hold fire in a vain attempt to avoid discovery. They do not hide for long; each is exposed, sometimes by tanks moving directly on top of their positions, and ruthlessly eliminated.

Yet enemy resistance continues. Jaegers fire their PzFs at BTRs which stray too close, scoring a number of kills. Dismounted infantry which advance slowly (2mph) into woods within 50 meters of enemy positions are invariably detected, sustain casualties from enemy fire, and retreat [5]. Since there is only one(!) medium mortar tube available and 122mm (not to mention 152mm) artillery is too heavy for close-in support desperate measures must be used to pry the enemy from their holes [6].

Some BTRs which attempt to flank the enemy by pressing past them are hit and destroyed by Milan II missiles or radar-guided flak, apparently from the second ridge. More infantry die with their carriers or take heavy casualties from small arms after getting out. A T-80 is lost when it hastily advances to get LOS on a Jaeger, the PzF striking home through the hull’s exposed flank. What was supposed to be a simple mopping-up operation turns into a costly, bloody mess.

Finally superior numbers and firepower prevail as the last enemy surrender or die and the first ridge’s objectives are taken. Already a scout team along with the first units coming off the ridge take up positions in preparation for an attack on the town. In their eagerness to finish off the enemy 2 T-80 crews take a path that is exposed to an unseen Milan-firing unit on the second ridge’s southern section and pay the ultimate price for their stupidity. The rest prudently head north along the first ridge’s eastern side in hope of finding better luck along the road.

A Jaeger squad with Milan IIs on the second ridge north of town has already exhausted its supply on BTRs, but a Marder 1 A2+ in woods further north is still flush and fires one at a T-80 approaching the town near a bend in the road. It misses. Perhaps believing the ATGM vehicle can also see through smoke, the tank commander chooses to shoot back. His hasty shot is wild. The Marder’s second missile is not; it results in yet another sacrifice for the Motherland. It is not entirely senseless though as more tanks come up to avenge their comrades so the tank-killer dies as well.

While the battle for the first ridge has been going on the faraway scout section has infiltrated a 122mm battery heavily cratered by off-map artillery and methodically takes it out. They discover that none of the crews had previously taken any casualties nor any guns been damaged despite heavy counter-battery fire.

The adversary's artillery has been more effective: 4 T-62s had been hit earlier in the general advance by cluster bomblets from long-range 155mm artillery, with 2 destroyed outright, 1 immobilized and another losing use of its cannon. In addition several BTRs have been destroyed and a few infantry squads or sections have been lost or taken casualties. All in all though these losses are “acceptable” in relation to the overall carnage.

An initial sally into the town is briefly repulsed. A T-80 carelessly moving obliquely onto the road gets walloped from the flank by another PzF and destroyed. Most assaulting units have taken cover in buildings or woods so now 120 and 122mm mortars and artillery are used to soften up the defenders; many have abandoned their prepared positions to counterattack. A platoon of Marder 1 A1s is spotted along the road and taken out along with exposed infantry, as are a Marder I A2+ and Gephard radar flak charging forward from their hiding places on the second ridge.

The attack proceeds quickly, with BTRs transporting mech sections through cratered streets to confront more Jaegars, most of whom are too stunned to fire back. Some do, however, and there is a steadily mounting toll of APCs and infantry. Tanks press forward, soaking up PzF rounds with impunity as they blow away obstinate resisters at point-blank range.

As the last intact motorized reserve platoon careens around a corner to rejoin the main road the lead BTR is hit and destroyed by unseen fire from another radar-guided flak gun to the south. The next vehicle fires smoke but to no avail, and the small but deadly AP shells strike home through the artificial fog. Somehow its platoon leader escapes the conflagration to emerge and spot the Gephard, which finally succumbs to tank fire.

At this point units are so disorganized and depleted by casualties that ad hoc task forces must be organized on the spot to take objectives on the second ridge sections. Units from various commands are mounted in surviving BTRs, one platoon backed by T-62s in the north and one by T-80s in the south. They encounter Jaegars in the open who are swiftly dispatched during the race forward.

Back on the main road no resistance is met as the last objective there is secured. A tank moves down it further west to shoot up the 122mm battery south of the road. Suddenly it is confronted by forward elements of a Leopard 2A1 tank company cresting a rise, moving lickety-split in the opposite direction. Frantically sending out a contact report while choosing a target, its commander has time for only one fatal shot before he and his tank are blown into oblivion.

All objectives now secured, every tank still in fighting trim is ordered west to take up ambush positions on either side of the road. One T-80 (L1) on a hill just north of the road sticks its snout out a bit too far. It comes into LOS of 3 Leopards, which fire back. Providentially—and inexplicably?--they all miss. It ducks back under cover before they have a chance to reload. Close one there, Comrade!

The hostile tanks advance a couple hundred meters. As they rumble past a scout targets the nearest one with an RPG-7 round. It glances off the top of the hull, grazes the turret and explodes harmlessly into the air. The following tank responds with a volley from cannon and MGs, obliging the bushwhacker to beat a hasty retreat. The Leopards pause, sniffing the air, sense something is not quite right…and the battle ends.


Writer’s Note: The battle ended with a final score of 6,200:12,740 (West Germany is Player 1), barely enough for a marginal win. Had the Soviets lost one more T-80, had those 3 Leopards not missed near the end, the 324-point loss would’ve swung the margin into draw territory. Whew!

Considering that previous attempts at this battle had failed to secure any objectives at all this result is a vast improvement. Yet with so many mis-clicks, tactical errors, and faulty decisions the sense at the end is more of relief than satisfaction. C’est la guerre, n’est-ce pas?

That’s all for now. Some saves (for slots 57-61) should be attached for illustration. Thanks for reading and good luck!

[1] Quibble alert: There appears to be a discrepancy between the Encyclopedia value (71) for the T-80BV’s 125mm Gun 82 APCR and the Armor Pen Calculator (60 “normal” and 67 “best”). At any rate the latter’s value (50) at 1500 meters is still good enough against the M1 Abrams’ frontal armor.

[2] Discerning readers have no doubt seen through this and other transparent attempts to evade responsibility for gross blunders, which rest squarely on the shoulders of yours truly, the humble narrator.

[3] According to Bob "Chickenhawk" Mason, a slick (troop transport) helo pilot in Vietnam, "A wounded air-crewman or great structural damage were the only reasons you could abort. If a grunt was wounded, you kept going." Presumably the Sovs had a similar policy.

[4] Unfortunately the Godlike commander forgets to turn them back on immediately after disposing of the US tanks. This might've saved some grief later when a couple T-80s later dueled with a Bradley and Marder ATGM.

[5] For an interesting (provocative? pot-stirring?) early discussion of this situation and at the risk of raising hackles for resurrecting a dormant thread, here is: http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/showthread.php?t=28941

[6] Of course z-fire could've been employed, but that exploit (the AI can’t do it) is frowned upon by purists. In retrospect, and considering the heavy casualties taken anyway using “desperate measures,” the 120 and 122mm should’ve been used while keeping infantry mounted about 250 meters or so away from intended impact. They could follow up afterwards, hoping the defenders were too stunned to respond.

Attached Files
File Type: 7z T5 Bear.7z (94.1 KB, 432 views)
File Type: 7z T9 Bear.7z (103.4 KB, 395 views)
File Type: 7z T13 Bear.7z (119.6 KB, 423 views)
File Type: 7z T18 Bear.7z (109.7 KB, 420 views)
File Type: 7z T21 Bear.7z (97.8 KB, 410 views)

Last edited by jivemi; January 14th, 2021 at 10:49 PM..
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