This post will concentrate on the organization of a mid-1942 T-34 tank battalion and start laying the ground work for the final post’s comparison of the Panzer Mk III against the T-34/1941 followed by turns 5 and 6 of the During Action Report (DAR). The battle has turned into a slug fest. All this after the jump.
On the picture to the right and despite the notation “..and designated as T-34 Model 1942” the diagram is definitely a T-34/76 Model 1941. The best way to tell is the large hatch on top of the turret. According to T-34 In Action the large hatch was designed to aid the evacuation of wounded crewmen but combat experience and tanker’s complaint lead to a design update for smaller hatches. The large hatch proved too heavy for both daily use and when needed for a quick escape. Later war models were smaller and round. You can even get your own here for £95.
As a FYI for hardcore modelers here is a turret identification guide for the late war T-34/85. and a report from Factory 112 on turret design. I’ve yet to explore the two web pages I just linked to but I’ll definitely be digging into them as it seems like a lot of good info is on offer.
In the Tanker’s Holiday scenario I’m facing a fictional battalion with a strength of 27 T-34s and a company of BA-10 scout vehicles.
This is a hard one as there was no such thing as a “T-34 tank battalion” and the Nazfiger Russian OOBs for 1942 are Stalingrad centric with few done for Kharkov. His Organization of a Russian Armored Brigade April 1942 states that the brigade had two tank battalions. Each tank battalion contained 1 Heavy Tank Company (10 KV-1 tanks) 1 Medium Tank Company (20 T-34 tanks) 1 Light Tank Company (16 T-60 tanks).
Taking a second look at the campaign map, a better candidate for the Tanker’s Holiday Russian forces is the 57th Tank Bridge from the 23rd Tank Corp. The 57th was located to the north west of Kharkov and they had 18 T-34s and 16 T-60s. Most other brigades had around 18 – 20 T-34s but the scenario lacks the heavy KV-1 tank company.
The Nafziger OOB is the “best case scenario” for a Russian tank brigade in mid-1942 while the Armchair General link shows the actual inventories at this point of time.
Turn 5 opens with the Russians continuing their assault. Most of the tanks were able to rally from their disrupt results.
1: T-34 grabs the VP hex then moves to support the attack at the train station. They are observed by my scout off map.
2: Main assault on the train station. One T-34 is destroyed by a side shot from one 6th Co. platoons on the hill. Instead of attacking the closer panzers that used all their action points the enemy engages and destroys one of 6th Co.’s Mark III.
3: Hit and run attacks by two platoons of T-34 destroys the lone Pz IV platoon in the factory but this action was mostly ineffective. One platoon must be still disrupted in the suburb area.
4: Another disrupted T-34 platoon must be out of my LOS and two companies are sent to the higher ground to prevent any flanking movement from my 5th company that retreated behind the woods last turn.
There is opportunity here as he has moved two full strength platoons away from where the focus of effort should be.
At the end of my turn I have pushed the Russians back from the train station and caused some damage. Instead of worrying about the two T-34 platoons to the north 5th Co. panzers have moved south to join the fight. My scout car can be seen below, ready to grab a VP hex when the time is right for harassment.
The beginning of turn 6. The Russians recover from the last turn and prepare to defend the VP hexes. When I move forward this turn I lose 6 panzers to close range op fire.
End of German Turn 6. Despite the lose of 6 panzers I kept pressing the attack. All T-34s on screen are disrupted. Of note, Capt. Kuhn and the two 6th Co. platoons moved forward to finish off the defensive line of T-34’s in the open.
After my last turn the game is almost over. There are four turns to go but too many panzers for the surviving T-34s to hold off. I’ll end the DAR, and give my final thoughts on the scenario design while the majority of next week’s post will be dedicated to comparing the two tanks.