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Earth & Steel Earth & Steel Design Notes
with Wayne Turner

I had the privilege of compiling the German forces of our Normandy books into Earth & Steel. From the start Mike and I wanted the Normandy compilations to be more then just the contents of our older books wrapped up in two volumes. We wanted to include some of the best forces from the website and also add some new content. Mike was particularly keen to include the content covering the fight to take Brittany that came about as a result of the success of Operation Cobra.

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What has Changed?

In Earth & Steel we included all the German forces from Bloody Omaha, Villers-Bocage, Monty’s Meatgrinder, and Cobra. The main change to these intelligence briefings was the updating of force selection process. All the forces in Earth & Steel now have the new company diagram for selecting your force. It is now a simple process of taking your compulsory platoon options from the boxes shaded black and selecting the platoons you want one each from the boxes shaded grey. This was first introduced in our last Normandy book, Cobra, and has since become the standard in all our books containing intelligence briefings, with a few refinements. The instructional text is now very simple and easy to follow.

The other major change was a review of the points. Two main factors impacted on these changes. One was that some of the older books didn’t include the differences we introduced to points of Motivation modifiers for Infantry teams over Gun and Tank teams. Compounded on this was the change to command teams in gun platoons. The cost of an infantry command team in a platoon with mostly guns teams came down, reducing the overall cost of things like artillery, mortar, machine-gun, and anti-tank platoons. Ambush!
The third noticeable change was the cost of Panzergrenadiers. These came down for two reasons. Firstly we reduced the cost of MG teams. Motorised and mechanised platoons were just not getting the benefit of their ROF 3 MG teams most of the time. However, they are still more expensive than Rifle/MG teams. The second factor was the cost of armoured half-tracks. These have come down which reduces the overall cost of Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier Platoons and similar.
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Additional Intelligence Briefings

Additional forces added to Earth & Steel come in three types, those that round out existing briefings, those already published on our website, and those that are new.

Forces that we added for completeness include Aufklärungsschwadron and Panzerspähkompanie of the German Panzer divisions. The 21. Panzerdivision, Panzer Lehr Division, and SS-Panzer divisions from Cobra all had one or the other included in the original briefings. In Earth & Steel we have included both options for each division.
Jagpanther The most interesting of these is the inclusion of the Puma armoured cars of the Panzerspäh Lehr Kompanie. The old Puma-based briefing released on the web just after the release of Villers-Bocage proved so popular we could not leave it out of Earth & Steel. The Puma is a fast, well-armed armoured car capable of taking out any Allied armoured car and even taking on the odd tank. It is also a pretty cool looking model with its eight wheels, a fully-enclosed turret, and a long 5cm gun.
Another new force added in this category is the 503. Schwere Panzerabteilung (503rd Heavy Tank Battalion). This heavy tank unit armed with Tiger IE and Königstiger heavy tanks fought closely with the 21. Panzerdivision around Caen. It was initially only included in Monty’s Meatgrinder as a support option, but we thought it worth a briefing of its own, giving you two Tiger company options in Earth & Steel. The other option is, of course, Michael Wittmann and the Tigers of the 101. Schwere SS-Panzerabteilung.
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We have also expanded out the Fusilierkompanie and StuG Abteilung from Bloody Omaha into full Intelligence Briefings, rather than just a box of notes. This will make them easier and clearer to create a force from.

From the 21. Panzerdivision we have made some changes to the Beute StuG Batterie.  New information became available about the organisation of the Abteilung. It seems the ratio of 7.5 to 10.5 (sf) 39H vehicles was reversed in some sources. 7.5 (sf) 39H were deployed in platoons of their own, while the 10.5 (sf) 39H were deployed in a platoon of four and would give supporting fire, direct and indirect. So we changed the Briefing to fit with this new information which came from a map drawn by Major Becker himself (the commander of the battalion and man in charge of the vehicle conversion project for the 21. Panzerdivision).

From the website we have included another division that fought alongside the 21. Panzerdivision, the 16. Luftwaffe Felddivision. These former Luftwaffe ground crewmen were thrown into the bloody cauldron of Caen where they were to undergo a baptism of fire. They are rated Reluctant Trained, but you get plenty of them and they are backed up by hard-hitting troops of the 21. Panzerdivision. If handled with care they will hold the line until the panzers arrive.
Barkmann's Corner
Also from the web and Wargames Illustrated is the 654. Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung armed with Jagdpanthers. This is a very cool and popular force that combines powerful armour with cheap and effective grenadiers. Famed for destroying British Churchill tanks, you’ll soon be knocking out enemy heavy tanks in no time with this force.

A number of new lists have also been included in Earth & Steel. The first of these relates to the 654. Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung, the 326. Infanteriedivision. This division’s grenadiers fought alongside the Jagdpanthers during their battles against British Operation Bluecoat. Another reason to include the 326. Infanteriedivision was to have a Grenadierkompanie in Earth & Steel typical of the German infantry that fought throughout Normandy once they had been pushed off the beaches and more divisions were sent from elsewhere in France. Most of the grenadiers fighting in France are Confident Trained; very few were veterans, as these were kept for fighting on the Russian Front.

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Our next new force is the Beute Panzerkompanie, or looted Tank Company. This intelligence briefing covers two tank units armed with old French tanks that saw combat in the Cotentin Peninsula in northwest Normandy. One was merely a training unit, Panzerabteilung 100, and became embroiled in a fight for its life on D-Day against the US Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division. The other was a reserve unit, Panzerabteilung 206, and took part in the fighting for Cherbourg. With both you can field a variety of French tanks and a few older German examples. They are supported by nearby infantry divisions.

See Wayne and Mike's Beutepanzer Battle Report here...

Beute StuGs Related to both the fighting in the Cotentin Peninsula and Brittany is the Bodenständig Grenadierkompanie. This force represents the forces that defended the ports of Cherbourg and Brest. These are fortified forces like the Festungskompanie also included in Earth & Steel, but have their own unique selection of fortifications (more on Fortifications below) and other support.
We have also included the Fallschirmjäger of the 2. Fallschirmjägerdivision, including both those that fought for the defence of Brest in Brittany and those of the 6. Fallschirmjäger Regiment that were rushed to Normandy. Both can be field in Earth & Steel, with each option available with theatre appropriate support. The Fallschirmjäger are some of the best troops available to the Germans and can always be relied on to provide the enemy with stiff resistance.
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In Earth & Steel we took the opportunity to have a look at the layout and design of selecting Fortifications for your German forces in Normandy. We wanted to make it clearer how to select you fortifications and what forces could take them. We have now included a Fortification option in the company platoon selection diagram. Heavy fortifications like D-Day Beach and Port Fortifications are listed in the Corps and Divisional Support Platoons column, while lighter Field Fortifications are usually listed with one of the options for Machine-gun Platoons in the infantry companies. The reason they are in the box with the machine-guns is because the Field Fortifications usually come with HMG Nests. It is assumed the same machine-guns were used to man these Tobruk Pits.

The selection of the individual fortifications themselves is handled with a diagram similar to the company diagrams. This lets you know how many of each type of fortification you can have. We have also organised each of these entries like platoon, where you can buy additional options and upgrades. This makes buying fortifications for your force very similar to building your force.
We have also streamlined the terminology with the division of Bunkers into three sub-groups, Pillboxes, Nests and Turrets. Pillboxes are traditional concrete and steel with all-round and overhead protection. Nests are roofed foxholes or well-protected fighting pits and are not as well-protected as Pillboxes. Finally the third type are Turrets, which simply mount a tank turret on a concrete platform. As part of this change we have include revised bunker rules to define and clarify what each of these types of bunker can do and how they work in Flames Of War.
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D-Day Beach Fortifications cover the options available to the Festungskompanie. It includes anti-tank pillboxes, anti-tank and anti-aircraft nests, tank turrets, HMG pillboxes and nests, as well as rocket launchers, barbed wire, anti-tank obstacles, minefields, entrenchments, and gun pits. The Port Fortifications come with the Bodenständig Grenadierkompanie, Fallschirmjägerkompanie or Fallschirmpionierkompanie and are equally heavy, but have a naval gun pillbox instead of rockets. The Field Fortifications are lighter with no pillboxes or turrets, but have plenty of machine-gun nests and minefields to hold up the enemy advance inland. Field Fortifications can get fielded with the Panzergrenadierkompanie, Luftwaffe Jägerkompanie, Grenadierkompanie, SS-Panzergrenadierkompanie, or Fallschirmjägerkompanie.
And there is More!

As well as all the new content mentioned above, we have all the forces you are familiar with from Bloody Omaha, Villers-Bocage, Monty’s Meatgrinder and Cobra with updated points and company diagrams. You may note we have changed the names of some companies; this was to avoid confusion caused by multiple companies with the same name. Here is a full list of the all the forces included in Earth & Steel:

352. Infanteriedivision
StuG Abteilung

21. Panzerdivision
Beute StuG Batterie
Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie

16. Luftwaffe Felddivision
Luftwaffe Jägerkompanie

503. Schwere Panzerabteilung
Schwere Panzerkompanie

Panzer Lehr Division
Panzer Lehr Kompanie
Panzergrenadier Lehr Kompanie
Panzerpionier Lehr Kompanie
Aufklärungs Lehr Schwadron
Panzerspäh Lehr Kompanie

654. Schwere Panzerjägerabteilung
Schwere Panzerjäger Kompanie

326. Infanteriedivision

101. Schwere SS-Panzerabteilung
Schwere SS-Panzerkompanie

2. SS-Panzerdivision and 12. SS-Panzerdivision
Gepanzerte SS-Panzergrenadierkompanie

100. & 206. Panzerabteilungs
Beute Panzerkompanie

343. & 709. Infanteriedivisions
Bodenständig Grenadierkompanie

2. Fallschirmjägerdivision

You will find all the German Warriors from the Normandy books in Earth & Steel. We have made a couple of tweaks to make some rules clearer. Han von Luck has had his Reconnaissance Expert modified to cover when he joins a reconnaissance platoon. Ernst Barkmann has had his status as an Independent team confirmed. Other than that you should find them as they appeared in the original Normandy books. Warriors included are:
  • Major Han von Luck (Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie and Panzergrenadierkompanie)
  • Hauptmann Karl-Heinz Noak (Schwere Panzerjägerkompanie)
  • Oberststurmführer Michael Wittmann (Schwere SS-Panzerkompanie)
  • Oberscharführer Ernst Barkmann (SS-Panzerkompanie, Gepanzerte SS-Panzergrenadierkompanie, SS-Panzergrenadierkompanie, or SS-Panzerpionierkompanie)
So if you are looking at fielding a German force for the Normandy Campaign, Earth & Steel has something for everyone. Enjoy!

A big thanks to all the contributors, your hard work is most appreciated!

~ Wayne.

Last Updated On Friday, February 11, 2011 by Blake at Battlefront