- About the Demo
- The Map
- Campaign Notes
- Game Documents
Mius '43: Panzer Campaigns Demo Game ** Free Download**
As posted by Glenn Saunders (JTS) at the Blitz on 25th Feb 2011.
Panzer Campaign Demo released
The demo has a Started Scn and PDF to teach new players the ropes.
Then it has a small campaign with a Player Guide to help teach players the finer points.
We use the analogy that the Started PDF is like the discription of the controls in an aircraft. And the Player Guide is a "How do I fly" The demo contains all the Editors and functions of any normal PzC title and in fact there are additional units in the OOB which were nearby or on the map edges.
A second campiagn has a stonger defender with the arrival of the SS Panzer Corps stepped up a few days earlier than was historically the case.
The designer Notes of the demo is a discription of the battle which is not a really well known or easily reference fight on the East Front. Anyway - folks enjoy.
JTS has given permission to post and freely distribute this title, as the idea with the Demo is to widen the audience exposure to the Panzer Campaigns' series. It is possible that other demos for other series may be available at some future point, and assuming that a similar set of permissions would be given, those too would be hosted on SDC as well. (ST -SDC 27 Feb 2011)
Approx 150 mb download
Campaign Notes (pdf file included in the download)
The winter of 1942-43 went badly for the Axis. The Sixth Army was surrounded and surrendered at Stalingrad. This action is covered in Panzer Campaigns STALINGRAD ‘42 . A huge hole was torn in the German line, plugged by whatever units could be found. Through the rest of the winter, a seesaw battle raged in the southern part of the Russian front, including Russian Offensives code-named Operations Star and Gallop. These were followed by a German counterattack, often referred to as Manstein’s Backhand Blow. These battles are the subject of the newest Panzer Campaigns title, KHARKOV ‘43 , published by John Tiller Software .
After the front was stabilized, both sides built up once again for a summer offensive. The Russians prepared a deep defensive zone around a large bulge in the line, known as the Kursk Salient. They were content to build up their defenses and let the Germans strike first to batter away, dissipating their strength before taking the offensive themselves. The German attack came in early July on the north and south shoulders of the salient. These battles are covered in Panzer Campaigns KURSK ‘43 . Kursk, or Operation Citadel, is generally considered the greatest tank battle in history.
With news the British, American and Canadian Armies had landed in Sicily, the topic of Panzer Campaigns SICILY ‘43 , and intelligence predicting imminent Soviet counteroffensives, Hitler cancelled Operation Citadel. He then dispersed his strong panzer forces. The most powerful force, II SS Panzer Corps, was repositioned south of the Belgorod-Kharkov sector as a reserve to
deal with the anticipated Soviet attacks on the southern front. One of the SS divisions was loaded onto rail transport to be sent to southern Europe to face the Allies in Italy.
The goal of the operation was to strike toward the city of Stalino. The sector to be attacked was 50 kilometers long and was defended by the new German Sixth Army. After destruction at Stalingrad, the Sixth Army was recreated by Hitler using any available units. However, it was never as powerful as its predecessor that drove deep into Russian territory, almost capturing Stalingrad the previous winter.
The Soviet plan was to break the front line with the 5th Shock and 28th Armies, and then exploit the expected success using the 2nd Guards Army as a follow-up force. The German Commander, General Hollidt, ordered his reserve division, the 16th Panzergrenadiers, to increase its readiness. On 15 July, he also ordered XXIX and IV Corps to detach a motorized regimental Kampfgruppe as an additional reserve.
Hollidt, himself, went to observe the front. He visited the Corps and Division HQs and the Regimental HQs of both the 294th and 336th Infantry Divisions. Concerned with his findings, later that day Hollidt convinced Army Group South to release another unit, the 23rd Panzer Division, to be an additional Sixth army reserve. The 23rd Panzer was instructed to expect early commitment to any sector along the line that was threatened.
Satisfied he had done all he could, the General and his Chief of Staff proceeded to personally supervise a final map exercise at headquarters, in preparation for the expected forthcoming battle.
On the opposing side, the Soviets made little effort to hide their preparations. II Guards Mechanized Corps completed its concentration northwest of Dubrovsky and those elements already near Kuibyshevo moved closer to the front. With the results of Luftwaffe long-range aerial reconnaissance and information gleaned from deserters captured along the front lines, Hollidt concluded the attack would come on July 17th.
And then it came!
Several Rifle and Guards Rifle Divisions began the assault at a critical sector, on the boundary between XVII and XXIX Corps, exactly where Hollidt predicted and previously visited. This was an infantry assault in force intended to overwhelm the defenders.
In the early hours, Hollidt effectively countered the enemy concentrations using artillery opportunity fire and deadly accurate direct fire from his front line troops. The German defense line, while not nearly as extensive as those created by the Russians on the Kursk salient, were up to 6 km deep in places. Thus, while the Russians’ attack had the desired effect of distracting the Germans, it did not catch them by surprise as happened the previous winter along the flanks of the Stalingrad Front.
By noon, on the first day of the battle, many of the forward battalions reported the Russians had overrun their front line positions. In the southern sector, the Russians were west of Gustafel’d, a town 5km behind the front line. Russian tanks, although limited in their initial employment, provided close support to infantry units by targeting the German bunkers with their armor piecing rounds.
Wave after wave of Soviet infantry fell upon the Germans. Only resolute efforts by the German front line units, supported by accurate artillery fire, prevented a major collapse of the front. However, the Soviets began to slowly wear down the defenders and their numerical superiority prevailed as the day wore on.
On the German left flank, the sector was dominated by several hills. Here, the Russians were halted by a series of quick counterattacks by Division and Corps reserves supported by assault guns of StuG.210.
Despite German planning and advance preparations, the Luftwaffe was virtually non-existent throughout the first day. No air support was available to the German front line defenders, while overhead Soviet aircraft roamed the skies unhindered.
Anticipating continued Soviet Offensive at Dmitriyevka and attempting to take pressure off the beleaguered front line infantry, Hollidt decided to counterattack with his only available reserves, the 16th Panzergrenadier Division. Given the critical situation at the front, he did not have the luxury of waiting for the 23rd Panzer still en route, northwest of the battle area and scheduled to arrive later in the day on July 18th. The 16th PzGren was ordered to assemble southwest of Kalinovka, where it would strike northeast toward Hill 168.
Hollidt’s decision to attack early was based on three considerations. First, he believed the infantry might not be able to stand if he did not act quickly. Secondly, the Soviets were moving another powerful force, the 4th Mechanized Corps, toward this sector. Finally, chances of success were greater if action was taken before the Soviets could consolidate their gains.
On the morning of July 18th, screened by division recon, the 16th PzGr Division attacked with 116th Pz in the center, 156th PzGr on the left, and 60th PzGr on the right. Their goal was to disrupt the renewed Soviet offensive.
Although initially successful, the attack quickly ran into difficulties. The 156th PzGr on the left was hit by a powerful Russian tank force, stopping it in its tracks. Forced to go over to the defence, the panzergrenadiers called for assistance from the rest of the division. The panzers quickly pulled back from the center, regrouped, and then were sent to stabilize the front line. The result was Hill 168.5 remained in Russian hands.
One below-strength panzergrenadier division was no match for the Soviet Mechanized Corps. Considering the outcome, it would have been prudent for Hollidt to wait for 23rd Panzer and then use both formations to form a strong mobile defense. Although the goal of capturing Hill 168.5 was not attained, the Germans took satisfaction in the damage they inflicted on the Russian tanks of 2nd Mechanized Corps.
To the north, in the Gerasimova Valley, the Soviets were more successful against the beleaguered 306th Infantry Division located on the far left of the German line. At no time did this sector realize any relief from the panzergrenadiers’ counterattack in the south. Here, the line broke and Russian infantry captured Hill 213. They then pressed forward, overrunning the towns of Maryinovka and Stepanovka.
This created a serious crisis for the Germans, who were once again facing a major enemy breakthrough to the west. There were no panzer reserves at hand. But once again, luck smiled on the Germans. The Russian advance ran directly into a rear area fortified sector, complete with strong bunkers and anti-tank trenches established as a training area before the battle. Seizing the opportunity, the Germans rallied and brought the Soviet advance under control.
On the evening of July 18th, the sorely needed 23rd Panzer Division arrived. The division recon was immediately sent forward to screen the division while it assembled the combat elements. With only 55 panzers, the division was not overly strong. However, in contrast to the 20 operational tanks left in 16th Panzergrenadiers, it was by far the strongest and freshest force the Germans had available. Higher command suggested Hollidt employ this panzer division as a mobile reserve. Ignoring the advice, he ordered an immediate attack, determined to regain lost ground before the Russians could dig in and consolidate their gains.
While Hollidt’s concerns were understandable, the results of the attack, with another powerful force being squandered, indicated higher command was correct. Both sides regrouped on July 19th. On July 20th, the Germans attacked again, this time using the 16th PzGr and the 23rd Panzer together. The action proved in vain and the units were decimated.
On the 21st of July, with both sides nearing exhaustion, the lead elements of the Russian 4th Guards Mechanized Corps began to arrive at the front near Dmitriyevka. This was a considerable force of over 200 armored vehicles manned by fresh troops. Facing them, the German reserve divisions were now down to only 36 operational panzers between them.
This time, however, it was the Russians’ turn to squander armored reserves. The few German panzers dealt with the Russian tanks as they arrived in penny packet sized forces, one group after another. As the battle seesawed back and forth, several villages changed hands throughout the day. The Russians gained the upper hand in some places where the Germans
could not muster a force to repulse them. Although neither side had won a decisive victory by nightfall, the Germans had inflicted much heavier damage on the Soviets’ mobile forces.
Up to this point in the battle, the Sixth army had narrowly survived one crisis after another. Once again, Hollidt decided to gamble and threw his remaining force right in the center of the line. His army was tiring and running critically short of everything from fuel to ammo.
In the early morning dawn of July 22nd, the Russian attack began again and escalated throughout the day. Once again, with grim efficiency, the German artillery and anti-tank guns poured withering fire into the attackers. By the end of the day, the German units were mere shells of their previous strength. The whole 16th Panzergrenadier Division was now down to an effective strength of 550 men, all suffering high battle fatigue.
By the following morning, on July 23rd, the crisis for the Germans had passed. There were no large-scale Russian attacks at any point along the front. Instead, the Soviets were content with probing recon in many places, none of which were intended to gain significant ground. Both sides began to rebuild for the next phase of the battle.
German panzer recovery teams performed near miracles in repairing damaged tanks. Luckily for them, the Russians were too exhausted from their previous efforts to take advantage of the German weakness. During the fading days of July, the Russians were unable to mount any sort of attack. In no better shape, the Germans merely held out for the arrival of the II SS Panzer Corps. This force would be called upon to re-establish the line along the Mius, in the next phase of the battle in August. (NOTE: Anyone wishing to experiment with the Panzer Campaigns Scenario Editor , may find it interesting to research the August counterattack of the II SS Panzer Corps. The SS units are included in this Panzer Campaigns Mius ‘43 demo Order-of-Battle.)
The Sixth Army had weathered the storm; for them a Pyrrhic victory. Their saga would continue…