The Windhunds Return to Normandy

The Windhunds Return to Normandy

The Windhunds Return to Normandy
with Jim Naughton
On August 10th, Legions Games in Pittsburgh hosted a Normandy-based Late War Tournament using V4 rules. The armies permitted were from Fortress Europe and D-Day: American books. The points limit was 100 points, and the time limit was an aggressive 2 hours. Battle Plans were used to determine scenarios and players were restricted to using the same battle plan TWICE.

My entry into the tournament was a 100 point list based on the 116 Panzer (Windhund) Division. The Division was a veteran outfit with an interesting story, and that, plus its use of the Herbst Gelb color scheme with its deep yellow (but not greenish) base color attracted me to the unit.

Why pick 116th Panzer for my Flames Of War Army? There were several reasons. Primarily I’m a history nut and the idea of having a single Division that fought as Grenadiers, Panzer Grenadiers, and Panzers had a certain appeal. The story of the Windhund Sascha and the Division’s post-1942 identification symbol was another aspect, particularly in that I could PAINT the symbol easily. The few color pictures with Division markings seemed to my eyes to be the ‘yellow’ version of dunkelgelb which I prefer for German vehicles.

And then, absolutely irresistible, way back in the ‘70s an early Wargame Convention featured a scenario for the then high-tech Minitank line using the aufklarung battalion of 16th Motorisierte against…you guessed it, Godzilla. No wonder it didn’t make it all the way into Astrakhan.

As with most projects it started small and got away from me, but that positioned me ideally for this tournament. This is what it looks like on paper

Kampfgruppe Angriff
Core Troops (58 points) from 60th Panzergrenadier Regiment.

Stabt Section, No.2 Kompanie –  2x SMG teams- 2pts
No.2 Kompanie, 2x Platoons –7 x MG34 teams, 1 x 251 (3.7cm), 3 x 251 (MG), Panzerfausts- 18pts (9pts per Pltn)

No.4 (Schwere) Kompanie – 4 x Armoured 8cm Mortars- 6pts,  4 x Armoured 7.5cm Gun- 6pts

No.2 Section, No. 9 (Geshutz) Kompanie - 2 x Grille 15cm- 8pts 
No.3 Section (Flamm), No. 2 Platoon, No. 10 (Pioneer) Kompanie – 4 x Armoured Flame-Thrower Platoon- 8pts.

The Windhunds Return to Normandy

Support (42 points)
Panzerspah Team, No.3 Kompanie, 116th Panzeraufklarung Battalion – 2x Sdf 231 Heavy Scout Troop- 3pts
No. 3 Platoon, 1st Kompanie, 228th Panzerjager Abteilung – 4 x STuG Assault Gun23pts
No. 2 Platoon, 2nd Kompanie, 228th Panzerjager Abteilung – 4 x Marder Tank-Hunters- 17pts

The Tournament
Fourteen players including some from as far as Virginia and Ohio showed up to play. Two British, three American and one Free French players were opposed by eight German players. The first two rounds were “Blue on Red” with the exception of one pair that had to be German vs German because of the Armies chosen. The last round was Swiss-style with pairings determined by victory points.

Two-hour tournament rounds put a premium on fast play. Even so, we had only four ‘timed out’ games in 20 contests (on the last round, two German players who were out of contention took ‘byes’). I can only speak to my own experience (I had one of the timed-out games). I’m not sure anything was really gained by playing 3 two-hour rounds and time was a factor in all three of my games.

Round 1:
Tyson S playing a British force including a rifle company and a Churchill company was my opponent. We played on a rolling terrain map. Our scenario ended up as Encounter (my Attack, his Maneuver). Tyson’s on-table force was a 4-tank Sherman platoon, and his rifle company, plus the Churchill HQ. My on-table force was made up of the Panzergrenadiers with Marders and STuGs in reserve.

The Windhunds Return to Normandy

I focused an attack on his left flank, held by one rifle platoon, and eventually reinforced by the tanks and his universal carriers. I also attacked on my left flank, but an unlucky failure to recover pin (twice) shut down that attack.

We bled each other fighting over the objective on my right as Tyson was faced with difficult choices.  My mix of flame, infantry assaults, mounted assaults, and smoke allowed the Stummels and Flammpanzers to carry the battle until my STuGs showed up from reserve on that flank. Time, however, was my enemy, and I narrowly failed to destroy a Churchill that was 3.75” away from the objective on the last turn. Tyson lost an infantry platoon and his Universal Carriers and I lost the Stummels and Flammpanzers. His Sherman platoon managed not to evaporate despite 3 lost vehicles.  Result: 2-2 with only 4.5 turns completed. Tyson’s reserves did not arrive.

Round 2:
Rob G was playing a British Rifle company. His support included 25-pounder artillery, Stuart recce, M10 with 17 PDR guns, Churchills, and a Sherman platoon. I knew I had to change plans at least once so I went with Defend because of the hedgerows on this board. This would prove pivotal as Rob’s Maneuver put us in Bridgehead. Steep hills to my left and hedgerows to my right allowed me to hide most of my vehicles as the hedgerows blocked the view from the hills outside my deployment zone on both flanks. My reserves were the STuGs, Grilles, Flammtracks, and my panzerspah patrol putting the Marders into ambush.

I deployed my two platoons of infantry symmetrically. Rob elected to use spearhead to try and cross the hedgerows on my right but failed cross checks limited his success. He had room for one of the infantry platoons there, along with the Churchills. The rest of his force assaulted on the other side of the hedgerow, basing out of the narrow ‘leg’ of his deployment zone. Rob chose not to attack from the left flank

His first turn went pretty well. He managed to kill a stand of panzer grenadiers with artillery fire. No reinforcements for me and a bailed Stuart marked my shooting. 

Second turn saw some slippage my way. His artillery barrage didn’t do as well ranging in, and only managed to bail a Stummel. The convergence of his attacking force of 3 Stuarts, 4 M10s, and 4 Shermans blocked some shots, and so only one Stummel died. The Churchills killed a halftrack. My counter was a Marder ambush plus the STGs arriving from reserve in my right corner. The Marders performed wonderfully killing 3 M10s but then committed suicide by failing a scoot roll. The STGs managed to bail a Churchill. The Stummels destroyed the Stuart platoon.

The Windhunds Return to Normandy

Third turn saw a complete reversal of fortune. Rob’s remaining M10 and four Shermans eliminated the Marders. The Churchills continued to press onto the objective, but their supporting infantry failed to remove a pin from machine-gun fire and next refused to dig in. Another Stummel died to the Churchills.

I rolled three reserve dice and rolled 2 fives and a six. The Grilles came on my far right, the Flammtracks on my baseline, and the panzerspah on the far left. Rob’s First Platoon literally melted from flamethrowers. The survivor of the massacre disappeared when my Grilles landed a 15cm shell in his lap. The SuTGs managed to bail a Churchill again, but also bailed a Sherman. The Stummels bailed a Sherman as well. A hail of machine-gun fire shredded his 2nd Platoon. Two infantry assaults cherry-picked bailed vehicles. A bloody arms-length infantry fight to protect the bailed M10 consumed the remainder of UK 2nd Platoon. This reduced Rob’s assets to 3 Churchills and a Sherman 75, his company HQ, and distant 6 PDRs with 25 PDRs in support.

Rob’s response was to protect the company HQ by assaulting one of my infantry platoons with Churchills. He shredded it, but the panzerfaust managed to take out one of the Churchills. The company HQ dug in. The survivors of my 1st Platoon passed last stand. The final turn, my turn 4, saw his surviving Churchills and Sherman destroyed by the STGs. The Flammtracks immolated his company HQ. Suddenly his company was broken. 8-1, Germans.

Round 3:
The Swiss Tournament rules kicked in, and I found myself facing Mike S who had a German Grenadier company with 88’s, PAK 40s, and Panthers in support. Mike S was compelled by tournament rules to pick something other than Defend, and his Maneuver versus my Attack produced Counterattack. We ended up on the river valley board, a beautifully sculpted terrain board that unfortunately produces some challenges with sight lines. Mike’s reserves were 4 Panther tanks and his ambush was 4 PAK 40s. He used spearhead from three MKII scouts to set up in the neutral zone and I matched that with my two scout cars to place a Stummel platoon in a village that dominated the river crossing.

My main attack went straight over the river using Cross Here to enhance my chances. I was able to get 3 Flammtracks, all the STGs, 2 Marders, and 6 other half-tracks over the river, with my HQ and one infantry platoon moving across dismounted. I protected the crossings with a smoke screen from both batteries and lost only one troop track (no one died), one Marder, and two Flammtracks to counterfire. Mike bailed two Stummels with fire from the Panzer IIs.

The Windhunds Return to Normandy

Now my killing machine kicked into gear. A hail of MG fire and flame destroyed one 88 and 3 PAK40s while an infantry assault lodged my 2nd Platoon in a large building across the street from the defender-placed objective. My Stummels finished off the Panzer IIs. In Mike’s turn the other 88 abandoned the field, and the surviving PAK40 refused to unpin, missing its only shot. A mortar barrage against my now dismounted 1st Platoon missed. Mike’s only good news was the arrival of the Panthers whose first shots destroyed a Stummel.

My first attempt to take the objective with an infantry assault was repulsed but only one 2nd Platoon stand died. This allowed my Flammtracks and the 1st Platoon to catch up. Mike countered by knocking out one STG with long range fire from the Panthers, too little, too late. Game Turn 4 saw me torch his company HQ and machinegun fire eliminate most of his 2nd Platoon as it ran up to support the company HQ. A tank assault on 2nd Platoon survivors eliminated its nearby teams and forced the surviving HQ stand into the open where a halftrack assault would have finished it. Mike resigned, 8-1, German Victory (me) /German loss (Mike). 

Overall Tournament:
Rob N, playing Americans, was the overall winner, winning 3 games and scoring 22 VP. Ironically, Tyson and I tied for 2nd Place at 18 and I was nudged into 3rd by a tiebreaker. So Allies held the top two places. However, the Germans dominated the next tier, taking 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th Place. The Allies are definitely finding it slow going in the hedgerows. As for Windhund Sascha, she may not have been Best in Show she definitely was Best of Breed.