Wargame Wednesday: Battle of the Bulge OOBs for V Panzer Northern Sector

Wednesday , 2, January 2019 Leave a comment

Orders of Battle

Small portion from the Campaign Series OOB file.

Any designer of historical simulations has to confront the question: what was the actual composition of forces at that place and time?  The harder one works for historical accuracy, the more elusive the answer. At times, the task is almost futile but the question must be asked.

The ancient up to the medieval periods are notorious for the lack of sources and exaggerated numbers.  Even with the advent of better record keeping historical accuracy remains difficult. Keep in mind every organization in this post was required to send daily status reports.  Despite the ubiquity of reports (and sometimes because of it), accessibility of primary sources can be problematic. Also, game designers, who often rely on secondary resources, will adjust the OOBs for reasons of playability or constraints of the game engine. I encountered a prime example of this issue when trying to determine the 14th Armored Group’s historical OOB:

  • Hugh Cole mentions “light tanks”.
  • In the 14th Cavalry in the Gap article, Col. Judge mentions 17 M-3 tanks.
  • The scenario OOB’s light tanks are M-24 Chafees.
  • A Panzer Leader OOB highlighted on the next page has a mix of M-1 and M-5 tanks.
  • At least most sources agree on the M-8 scout cars…

Additionally, I discovered a typo in the scenario’s OOB.  The 193rd VG Regiment was actually the 183rd.  A misnamed regiment won’t affect game play but unless caught and corrected in time, it may become a vector for inaccurate information for future games and posts.

This post will discuss the units available at the start of this scenario and compare the scenario’s OOB with one that comes to us via the Nafziger OOB collection then finish with some Panzer Leader OOB charts.

At the end of this post, the index and reference sections are beginning to flesh out and I have added a related games section. Let me know your favorite Bulge related games and I’ll add to the list.

Over on my blog there’s a post on Nafziger’s OOB for the units in this scenario and a screen shot of S&T’s variant of an Avalon HIll OOB.

German Forces at Scenario Start

LXVI Armeekorps (General der Artillerie W. Lutch)

Units available at the Corps level to be assigned between the two divisions.

  • x4 Werfer (rocket) Regiments.  36 150mm and 36 210mm rocket launchers.
  • 460. Heavy Artillery Battalion. 18 Krupp18 170mm guns.
  • 1/506 Heavy Panzer Battalion** 21 PzVIB aka Tiger II or King Tiger

 

18th Volks-Grenadier Division (Oberst Hoffman-Schonborn)

 

 

  • 293rd Volks-Grenadier Regiment
  • 294th Volks-Grenadier Regiment
  • 295th Volks-Grenadier Regiment
  • 18th Artillery Regiment

Each Volks-Grenadier regiment shares elements of the following formations:

  • Engineer Battalion.  They are able to construct foot bridges but cannot construct vehicle bridges.
  • Anti-tank battalion.
  • Assault gun brigade.

 

62nd Volks-Grenadier Division (Oberst F. Kittel)

 

 

  • 164th Volks-Grenadier Regiment
  • 183rd Volks-Grenadier Regiment
  • 190th Volks-Grenadier Regiment
  • 62nd Artillery Regiment

Each Volks-Grenadier regiment shares elements of the following formations:

  • Engineer Battalion.  They are able to construct foot bridges but cannot construct vehicle bridges.
  • Anti-tank battalion.
  • Assault gun brigade.

 

 

Führerbegleit Brigade

The Führerbegleit Brigade entered the battle on the 2nd day and the scenario OOB will be covered in more detail later. A Panzer Leader OOB is below.

 

**Historically, the 506 Heavy Panzer battalion was assigned to the VI Panzer Armee (sector to the north) but this battalion saw action at Andler, just northeast of Schoenburg.  They had to detour south, into V Panzer Armee’s sector but for the scenario, Feldmarschal Model (i.e. the scenario designer) has ordered this battalion remain in this sector.

 

American Forces at Start

106th Infantry Division (Major General A.W. Jones)

The 106th ID was assigned to the VIII Corps (Major General T.H. Middleton) but in order to facilitate a game split into three equal sectors the scenario designer assigned the 106th to XIII Corps.  The reason is that the VIII Corps HQ is located on the far left side of the center map in Tenneville (almost 70km drive via Bastogne).  The 106th was on the extreme left flank of VIII Corps and looking at the game map serves to give an idea on how spread out the front line units were.  Communications, especially simulating commands to lower echelon units is not part of the CS game engine though supply is.  Supply is automatically determined by the computer at the beginning of the turn so it was easier for the scenario designer to assign the 106th to the XIII Corps which will eventually be released on the west side of the northern map.

  • 422nd Infantry Regiment
  • 423rd Infantry Regiment
  • 424th Infantry Regiment
  • 592nd Field Artillery Battalion. Starts with the 422nd Infantry Regiment. x12 155mm.

Each Infantry Regiment has the following formation equally shared between them:

  • 4/563 AW Battalion. Each regiment gets 12 half tracks with M1 40mm anti-aircraft guns.
  • 4/634 AW Battalion. A mix of 2 1/2 ton GMC truck towed Quad.50 cal MGs, and 40mm AA guns.
  • Engineer Battalion.  3 platoons each.  Don’t know their bridge building abilities but we’ll see their bridge demolition skills soon enough.
  • 820th Tank Destroyer Battalion. 15 M18 GMS Tank Destroyers assigned to each regiment.

 

14th Cavalry Group (Col Devine)

 

  • 18th Cavalry. 3 troops of 15 M8 Light Armored Cars and 1 troop of 15 M24 Chaffees.
  • 32nd Cavalry. As above, 45 armored cars and 15 Chaffees.
  • Both the 18th and 32nd has a HQ Company with an engineer platoon, an AT platoon (5 37mm AT guns) and assault gun platoon (5 half tracks mounted with 37mm AA guns).

 

Notes

  • My 293rd VG Regiment has two companies with bicycle troops (no anti-tank capability such as panzerfaust and no sub-machine guns so lower assault values) in lieu of the Volks-grenadier platoons which have both attributes in abundance.  This was done to recreate the use of troops in reconnaissance.
  • Most of the 62nd VG Division has lower morale than the 18th.  The 62nd VG Division was destroyed in Russia and the rebuilt formation had a sizable contingent of Polish and Czech conscripts who spoke no German.
  • According to Nafziger the 18th VG Division was formed in September, 1944 in Denmark from the cadre of a Luftwaffe field division and drafts from the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine (navy).
  • Based on the Nafziger OOB some units that didn’t make the cut were the “Brüko” bridging units (I could use them) and the 813th Panzer Pioneer Company, equipped with the remote control “Goliath” self propelled mines (not in the game’s master OOB file).
  • Some of the missing railroad artillery batteries are represented by a naval gun battery in the northeast corner of the map.
  • Nafziger quotes H. Jung who estimated that a VG division would probably be at 58% of their total authorized strength (6410 men).  More on the Nafziger OOB on my blog.

 

OOBs from Panzer Leader

During research I discovered Greg’s Panzerblitz site and found a few relevant scenario cards with OOBs on his 1944 Bulge page.  Greg links to the Imaginative Strategist page where there is a wealth of Panzerblitz and Panzer Leader material.  Clicking on any of the images below will lead you to Greg’s site.

14th Cavalry Group

 

106th ID

I adjusted Greg’s card and removed two of the infantry regiments.  Both the 423rd and 424th have the same counters as the 422nd below.

Volks-Grenadier Divisions

The 18th will also serve for the 62nd VG Division as both OOBs seem identical. As with the I06th ID, I have removed two of the regiments.

Führerbegleit Brigade

Comparison Between Scenario and Panzer Leader OOB

There are significant differences which serve to illustrate a game designer’s (and game consumer’s) dilemma when trying to recreate a historical action.  Not only do primary and secondary resources differ but the way they are interpreted by gamers, bloggers, readers, etc., is different.  Finally, game designers will make judgement calls based on the restrictions of the game engine and the attempt to produce an enjoyable gaming experience.

No judgement call between the two but using the Volks-Grenadiers as the main example some of the biggest differences are:

  • No HQ below the regiment in the scenario OOBs for playability purposes.
  • More rifle platoons and a 81mm mortar section in the PL for VG regiments.
  • No Fusilier battalion in the scenario but the battalion’s organization (two rifle platoons and 4 SMG platoons) is closer what constitutes a company in the scenario (1 rifle, 1 machine gun section and 2 VG platoons).
  • No flak battalion for the VG Regiments.  I could use them the past two turns I played.
  • As discussed in the intro: for the 14th Armored Group the scenario OOB has M24 Chafees, the Panzer Leader OOB has a mix of M-5s and M-1s, and from Col. Judge’s article there were 17 M-3 tanks…..

 

Next Week

I’ll start to compare some of weapons available to both sides and try to find an answer on the 14th Armored Group tanks. Krewinkle and other battles will have to wait.

 

 

References (Publications)

A Time for Trumpets Charles B. Macdonald.

Battle of the Bulge, Hitler’s Ardennes Offensive, 1944-1945 D.S. Parker. One of the main sources for Nafziger’s OOB.

Das Heer 1933-1945, 1956 Vol I & II, Verband der Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen SS 1939-1945. Mueller-Hillebrand.  Cited by Nafziger.

Die Ardennen Offensive 1944-1945. H. Jung.  One of the main sources for Nafziger’s OOB.

The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge Hugh M. Cole.

The Battle of the Bulge, Charles B MacDonald. Cited by Nafziger on his OOB.

Verband und Truppen der detuschen Wermacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945. G. Tessin.  Cited by Nafziger.

Victory Was Beyond Their Grasp, Douglas E. Nash. Detailed unit history of a Fusilier Company of the 272nd VG Regiment.  Best resource available on the Volks-Grenadiers.

 

References (Links)

14th Cavalry in the Losheim Gap

Project 1944. Military historians practicing “living history”.

WW2 Armed Forces OOBs and Organizations by Dr. Leo Niehorster. Not much available for the Bulge but otherwise, an excellent resource.

Related Games

A Time for Trumpets  GMT Games.  Board game.

Battles for the Ardennes SPI Games.  Board game. Four games in one.  Simulations of both the Bulge in 1944 and Sedan 1940.

John Tiller’s Campaign Series Matrix Games. Computer game.  Currently, on sale for $9.99!

Panzer Leader Avalon Hill. Board game.  Along with Panzerblitz (East Front) on of AH’s best games.

The Ardennes Offensive SPI Games. Board game.

The Battle of the Bulge Avalon Hill. Board game.

The Blitz Wargame Club Eventual home for the updated (after this play test) V Panzer Army Campaign scenario.

 

Index

Intro Bulge Series Post.

Part 1: Starting positions, terrain, game design considerations and Q&A with scenario designer.

Part 1: Map with starting positions.

Volks-Grenadiers.

Weather chart during the Battle of the Bulge.

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