Thursday, December 1, 2016

Scenarios, Research and Getting Something Done

In a burst of enthusiasm, I managed to finish my AWI supplement yesterday. I also looked over my Kharkov campaign again. It is ready but just needs graphics. To do graphics, I need terrain to take pictures of the troops in. So that had me drag out the train station. As I did so, I pulled out the new styrene strips I bought to continue where I left off. OOps. Wrong thickness. I need to go back to the store. Plus, my wife used up all of the PVA glue in the house for Halloween costumes. Got to get some of that too.

Putting away my train station, I pulled out one of my new favorite books, "The Bloody Triangle" that covers the armored battles in the opening days of Operation Barbarossa in the Ukraine. This was a source I used for the Ustilug Campaign. Great book that is chock full of good stuff to base scenarios on.

As I was reading, I came across a section discussing the 15th Panzer Regiment/11th Panzer Division's advance through the Ukraine. To Quote the author, Victor Kamenir, the town of Radekhov was the site of "the first significant tank battle in Ukraine" (pg 139). This got me excited. It seemed like a great candidate for an IABSM scenario and I know Mark has the miniatures in 6mm to get this done. I kept reading. It seems that the small town of Radekhov was occupied by two tank battalions and one Motor Rifle Battalion from the IV Mechanized Corps. OK. This could be a BIG scenario.

But where on earth is Radekhov? Unfortunately, it is not on It is in map M35-62-A which he does not carry. The book describes the town and its neighboring village of Stoyanov as "equally small and insignificant town"(pg 139). But, I found a 1929 Polish map of the area that has both towns referenced by the book present. Much harder to find as they used the Polish names for the towns instead of the Russian/Ukrainian names. You can pull the map up here: Below is the part that I am interested in.

Caution, original image is 28MB. I added it here as a small image. I hope it does not bog things down.

The Soviet force was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Georgiy Lysenko. North of Radekhov and between Stoyanov was two battalions of the 10th Tank Division of the XV Mechanized Corps. Around 0330 hours on the 23rd of June, the lead battalion of the 15th Panzer Regiment engaged the battalions of the 10th Tank Division. They brushed them aside and approached Radekhov from the north around 0530 hours.

Here is where I am left slightly disappointed. The description of the battle tells me nothing about the forces that engaged one another. I have no clue what was in the 10th Tank Division at this time. So it was time to dig. Well, I found this little gem: TECHNICAL REPORT FROM THE 10th TANK DIVISION, AUGUST 1941. This was a report filed by the acting commander of the 10th Tank Division in August of 1941. He provides a breakdown of the losses suffered by tank type in the division. Now we are starting to get somewhere. Tanks listed in the losses section are: KV, T-34, T-28, BT-7 and T-26. Unfortunately, there are multiple models of the T-26 and KV tanks so this does not completely clear the muddy waters. But I did remember that I had a book by Charles Sharp somewhere. "The Deadly Beginning: Soviet Tank, Mechanized, Motorized Divisions and Tank Brigades of 1940-1942." Surely this will be enlightening. And it is.

Tank Regiments of the 10th Tank Division

Parent Unit1st BattalionSecond BattalionThird BattalionFourth Battalion
19th Tank Rgt31 KV Tanks52 Mixed T-34, T-28, BT-731 KV Tanks52 Mixed T-34, T-28, BT-731 KV Tanks52 Mixed T-34, T-28, BT-7Light Tanks
20th Tank Rgt31 KV Tanks52 Mixed T-34, T-28, BT-731 KV Tanks52 Mixed T-34, T-28, BT-731 KV Tanks52 Mixed T-34, T-28, BT-7Light Tanks

Well, it helps some. We can assume that the Light tanks are probably T-26's based on the August Report as that is the only tank type missing from it in Charles Sharp's account of the division. In the initial action, the T-34 tanks were not yet encountered. We know this from the next revelation from "The Bloody Triangle."

German aerial reconnaissance spotted a significant body of Soviet Armor approaching Radekhov from the east. This was the bulk of the 10th Tank Division. The whole of the 15th Panzer Regiment deployed in line and waited for the arrival of the 10th. They were supported by artillery and anti-aircraft artillery. This allowed the forward deployed elements of the 10th Tank Division to escape and fall back to join Lysenko's main force.

The Germans pressed on towards Radekhov and were met by Soviet artillery fire and a dozen tanks (no mention of types). The first battalion of the 15th Panzer Regiment dealt with the 12 Soviet tanks. They knocked out three and lost only one of their own vehicles in return. They then took Radekhov. The defenders fled to the south and southeast.

Now this is where the account gets interesting. The 15th halted south of Radekhov just before a hill to the southeast of the town. Lieutenant von Renesse volunteered to lead a reconnaissance of the hill and its surrounding area. His entire platoon (2nd platoon) from the 5th Company volunteered to go forward for the mission. Now we get some details. There were five tanks in the platoon. Three of the tans were armed with the short 5cm cannons and two were armed with the 3.7cm KwK cannons. One of these later types had a non-operational gun but still was eager to go forward.

In researching what tanks were part of the 15th Panzer Regiment, I found a source that said the 5th Company was a light tank company. But this does not work based on the armament of the tanks. The Panzer I and Panzer II light tanks did not have such heavy armament. But, the Panzer III tanks had exactly this armament. So we have one side determined.

The panzers aligned themselves in a wedge formation and moved up to 100 meters before a highway that was on the hill. The panzers encountered a few enemy infantry but reported back that it was smooth going. Then they spotted a formation of four Soviet tanks advancing in a single file line spaced fifty meters apart. The book states that they were of a type that the tankers had never seen before. The panzers got off the road and into position to ambush the advancing Soviet tanks. The Soviet tanks advanced at full speed down the road. At nearly point blank range, the panzers opened fire. Firing as rapidly as possible, the platoon scored hit after hit on the Soviet tanks. The Soviet tanks reaction was to turn around and drive off. The Soviets did not fire a shot, were hit repeatedly and did not lose a single tank.

This was one of the first encounters that the German Army had with the Soviet T-34 tank. This description, coupled with the Polish map should provide enough information for a nice game of Chain of Command. At the bottom of the map above, the hill can clearly be seen as well as the highway that was hidden to the Germans from the base of the hill. The hill itself did not have much in the way of trees but the elevations should provide some interesting cover to move in and out of.

AnywaY, I hope this was interesting for you. I will try out this scenario at some point with my 15mm Toys. Now to see if I have the right types of Panzer IIIs.

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