Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Second Kharkov Campaign

I have been making some progress on the new campaign supplement. Thus far I have it broken down into two campaigns so far. The first campaign covers the Soviet offensive on May 12th and the attack of the Soviet 36th Tank Brigade and 226th Rifle Division against the positions of the 294th Infantry Division. Among the changes I am looking to add to the campaign is a support option for the Soviets on the advance based on a reference from William Russ on his book of the battle.

"there is heard a loud and cheerful conduct, with lots of liquor distribution."

This was from a report from the 79th Infantry Division. The officers apparently were getting the men drunk before the offensive to improve morale. I am thinking about a support option. It will be a level two support option that will raise Soviet force morale by 2 points for a given battle. It can only be used for one of the initial battles and then discarded. I need to test this out a bit before actually including it.

I have also been preparing my armor for it. The first campaign features no armor for the Germans and plenty for the Soviets. It is possible to play the game with a Soviet tank force that is supported by infantry. The 36th Tank Brigade was largely equipped with lend-lease equipment. It began the battle with 17 of the new T-60 tanks, 10 Matilda IIs and 20 Valentine IIIs.

There are several instances in the battle where the tanks outpaced the infantry and assaulted German positions without them. This proved to be very costly as the Germans used field artillery aimed over open sights to engage Soviet armor to great effect. But ammo shortages caused the gunners in most cases to spike their guns and leave.

The Germans will be equipped with mainly infantry forces. Each ladder rung will result in the Germans having a mix of troops made up of soldiers that had fallen back from the forward outposts and thrown together to blunt the Soviet attacks.

The second campaign will be the German counterattack launched on May 13th by the 3rd Panzer Division. The 3rd Panzer Division was undergoing refit at the time of attack. It was a veteran unit that had been fighting since the invasion of France in 1940. The division had only a single battalion of armor that was combat effective and a single battalion of panzer grenadiers. These infantry were largely truck mounted rather than in half tracks. They were supported by a reconnaissance battalion of mostly motorcyclists. They possessed towed anti-tank guns and some artillery.

The tanks of the 3rd Panzer were 5 working Panzer IIs, 34 operational Panzer IIIs (both 37mm guns and 50mm guns combines) and 6 operational Panzer IVs (all short barreled versions f1 or older).

The paths of the two campaigns cover much of the same ground. The 3rd Panzer swept up from Kharkov and sped straight towards the 36th Tank Brigade in Nepokrytaya. This was also the town where the 294th Infantry Division had the last stand of Kampfgruppe Winkler.

I think I will have the first campaign largely complete before the end of the week. The 3rd Panzer's campaign will take a bit longer as I am trying to get more details on their actions. I have a good history of the division but it doesn't give many details that are useful for scenarios.

I put together a map of the areas that the campaigns will cover. There is a great Russian language site that has excellent WWII maps of the Eastern Front, especially the Ukraine. The maps are taken from maps Y50, Z50, Z51 and Y51 on their site. These were German operational maps.

I need to do some work on making sure I have enough armor painted up. I have everything that I need but just need to get them smartened up a bit. They all have rather basic paint jobs on them. That is the update for now.

One idea I had for this campaign book was to provide enough of a map for each portion of the battle for folks to be able to move the battle to a place that they have terrain for. For instance, there are two scenarios that take place in Federovka. The first is on the outskirts with the Germans having defensive positions in a balka (dry ditch). The second is the fall back positions in the town itself. I found a great period 1/50,000 scale map of the town and its environs. I am providing enough of that map for the player to say, I don't have a church but I do have homes with gardens and trees. They can then use the map to move the location of the battle to match it with the terrain that they have and still be in the historical context of where the battle took place.

That is the update for now. Will probably post more later. Been trying to get stuff off the paint table that has languished for too long.


  1. So beyond the force morale effect will the troops be forced to act drunken on the tabletop? For example going tactical is only possible on a D6 roll of 4+, if they fail that the troops remain standing in the open thinking they’re invulnerable to the incoming fire.


    1. That is an interesting idea. I will play around with it.