Kudos to Beasts of War tech support for quickly clearing up an issue where the pictures I uploaded showed up on the report as somebody else’s battle, but clicking on it would reveal the correct picture. Awesome job guys!
“Denuded,” Leutnant Josef Reisender thinks, “is the word.”
He scans the empty landscape spread out under a tainted sky. Standing up through the copula of his Leopard 2, he can easily see over the crest of the low hill he has selected as his best option to ambush the Soviets he knows are coming. Two roads, down at least one of which the Russians will surely come, intersect in the blasted remnants of a small village below the hill. A river—a deep, wide stream really—winds down from a small lake between the three tanks of his Panzer Zug and the crossroads, past a badly damaged but nonetheless erect power plant, and eventually joins the Ruhr somewhere beyond where he can see it disappear far off to his left. The buildings around the crossroads are shattered. The electricity, once provided by the power plant, is out. A lone Eastern Orthodox church, miraculously unscathed by whatever destroyed the village and the landscape, watches majestically over the eerie scene, the gold dome atop its bell-tower softly reflecting a sinking sun muted by hazy residue of the unknown force that scoured the land and stained the sky. The young, inexperienced Leutnant directs a small prayer at whatever divine being protected the ancient cathedral, asking only that the sun reach the horizon and the reserves arrive before Ivan reaches the village. No matter its size, any Red horde will be easy prey in a Nachtjägd.
It is dusk in the Ruhr Valley, and a West German Bundeswehr Panzerufklärungs Kompanie has set up a defensive position in the destroyed remnants of a village on a small tributary of the Ruhr River. The Kompaniechef, in a Leopard 1 (proxied by a Leapard 2, unfortunately) has taken up a position just behind the crest of a bridge and next to the Soviet’s expected objective on the German right flank. The Kompanie’s Panzer Zug is hidden in ambush, and its Panzerauflärungs Zug has dug into foxholes in the power plant and bombed-out structure flanking the other anticipated Soviet objective. Their Fuchs transports are dangerously exposed in the open areas round the two buildings. A LARS Raketenwerfer Batterie is set up in support to their rear, but as with the Fuchs, the lack of cover or concealment in the area means they are dangerously exposed. The LARS Batterie’s M113 OP is set up on rocky high ground near the middle of the battlefield, hoping to be of some use, but, because the Soviet forces are known to be coming from three sides, is in just as great a danger as the Fuchs and LARS. Two Luchs Späh Trupps with two Luchs each, a Batterie of two Gepard Flakpanzers, and a Panzer Zug of three Leopard 1s are in reserve and thought to be somewhere nearby, behind the Soviets, though their directions and distances are unknown.
When the Soviet force arrives, it arrives in force. Nine BMP-1s roll up on the right flank, Nine BMP-2s and the battalion commander in a BMP-1 roll up on the left, and five T-72s roll up near the middle left. A Hail rocket battery sets up between the fork in the river to the far back left, while their observer in a BMP-1 sets up behind the crest of a low hill near the middle right. A pair of Shilkas arrive behind a low hill between the road where the T-72s sit and the river crossing leading to the Hails. The three Spandrels of the anti-tank platoon arrive on the road coming in from the far corner of the right.
As the balloon goes up, the Soviets come in swinging, destroying the OP and one of the Fuchs in a storm of BMP-2 fire, and bailing the crew out of a second Fuchs with a salvo from the Hails. Expecting the war could go on for some time, the Fuchs crews determine discretion to be the better part of valor, disable their transports, and leave their dismounted infantry to be saved by their own resolve. The Soviet BMP-1s push hard on the German left flank, while their comrades in T-72s and Shilkas push hard up the middle. Unable to shoot while moving, the Spandrels begin using the cover and concealment of shattered buildings to leapfrog forward in the middle as well.
Despite chasing off the Panzeraufklärungs Zug’s ride home, and poking out the LARS Batterie’s eye, not all goes well for the Soviets in the opening exchange. The BMP-1s coming in on the Bundeswehr’s right flank drive straight into a well prepared ambush by Leopard 2s (not Leopard 1s, as Umraefein previously reported—please let this one slide, as he is one of our two newest players, and has just had time to learn all the Soviet equipment he has graciously agreed to field in an environment rich with NATO targets, but rather spartan when it comes the Warsaw Pact trigger-pullers). Two BMP-1s are bailed and four are destroyed outright, though all but two of their passenger teams manage to escape the conflagrations. As Soviet infantry scatter into the cover of nearby ruins, the advance on the German left falters.
Though its vision is severely limited, the LARS Raketenwerfer Batterie can still see through the gap between back of the church crowned with its gold dome and the rocky mount crowned with the funeral pyre of the M113 OP. Clearly visible is a T-72 whose range is found on the second try. Rockets rain down on four tanks, and one is washed away .
Despite these setbacks, however, not all goes poorly for Ivan in this exchange either. As the sounds of the opening shots fade, from somewhere beyond the Hail battery, the reserve Bundeswehr Panzer Zug arrives in the form of a trio of Leopard 1s (not the Leopard 2s Umraefein reported—I suspect some of the confusion can be attributed to my using a Leopard 2 to proxy for the CO’s Leopard 1). Putting the Hails in a later slot on their dance card, the Leopards 1s drive straight for the rear of the Soviet Battalion Commander and his entourage of BMP-2s, making the Bundeswehr’s first serious tactical error, which they then compound with abysmal shooting. Though three shots find targets, two only scuff proletariat-produced paint. One round destroys the Polkovnik’s BMP-1, but the he simply jumps in the nearest BMP-2 and upgrades his firepower.
Unwilling to charge across open ground under the guns of Leopard 2s, the dismounted Soviet infantry dig in behind the bullet-proof smoldering husks of BMPs and in the rubble of nearby buildings, while their bailed comrades remount and, with their untouched fellows, look for another, slightly safer road to victory, preferably one granting side shots on Leopard 2s.
Perhaps sensing something, the BMP-1 OP moves forward, but remains on the high ground provided by the hill it originally parked on. Two Shilkas move up the road to the German left flank and pour their high-volume fire into the LARS Batterie, knocking out one truck. While the four remaining T-72s press the center at tactical speed and three Spandrels take the road that leads straight to the German commander, seven BMP-2s reverse course to explain tactics to an over-zealous Leutnant and his Leopard 1s. Easily flanking the Leopard 1s, the BMP-2s shred two of the tanks’ thinner side armor, and the now much more experienced Leutnant spikes his tank and leads his own tank crew away. Tactics school continues when the T-72 guns providing covering fire for the Spandrels destroy the Heer Kompaniechef’s tank and ultimately the Kompaniechef himself, when no other Bundeswehr tanks are near enough to be reached.
Alerted to the threat of the T-72s by the unearthly sound of an expanding ball of Heer command tank, the Leopard 2s swivel their main guns away from infantry transports and their RPG equipped passengers to address the greater danger. They scratch one T-72 and bail another. Two amphibious Luchs from a reserve Späh Trupp come from behind the Hails, pass them, cross the river, and destroy two trucks with Parthian shots. The third rocket artillery crew gets the Hail out of there. The two Gepard Flakpanzers arrive from reserves and pull up behind the BMP-1 OP, but ignore it in favor of the much more serious Spandrel threat halfway to the now unsecured German right flank objective. One Spandrel immediately ceases to be a threat to anything but the air quality.
With all the Leopard 1s destroyed, the Soviets decide to press hard on the apparently weaker German left flank. The Shilkas push all the way to the river and flail the LARS Batterie again, eliminating it completely. The BMP-2s resume their advance toward the small Panzeraufklärungs Zug holding the left objective. The two remaining Spandrels move all the way to the burnt shell of the command Leopard 1 and stop within controlling distance of their uncontested objective, perhaps depending on the concealment of the stone bridge railing to protect them from the Leopards 2s on the nearby hill as they ready their missiles. The BMP-1 OP, having no artillery left for which to spot, throws it into high gear and races cross-country to the shore of the lake, within striking distance of the right objective. Though the bailed T-72 crew fails to remount, the functional Soviet armor pushes forward, but the BMP-1s holding near the German right flank are undoubtedly surprised, and unsettled to see the tanks curve a little to their right and move between the bridge and the church to put pressure on the Panzeraufklärungs Zug holding the left objective, because the bridge now completely blocks any Soviet MBTs shots on the Leopards holding their almost intact company of infantry at bay. Realizing their mistake too late, the T-72s shoot at the only targets they have, the infantry dug in inside buildings, but to no effect. Those BMP-2s that have shots also hammer on the infantry position, but the one Milan team has held its fire the whole battle, so the teams are almost impossible to hit, and none are killed. Those BMP-2s that can’t bring guns to bear on the German infantry but can provide such a service for the Luchs Späh Trupp that destroyed the Hail battery, try to do so, but this too has no effect.
Though to the hard-pressed Germans of the Aufklärungs Kompanie it feels like hours have passed since the engagement began, it must have only been minutes, as dusk has still not turned to dark. The last of the German reserves arrive when the other Luchs Späh Trupp rolls in from the center of the Russian rear. They join the other two light scout vehicles trying to put pressure on the Soviet BMP-2s advancing on the badly out-numbered German infantry. Their fire has no affect other than to get the attention of Soviet gunners who have no other targets. The Gepards move at tactical speed straight towards the destroyed German command tank, and get just close enough to put shots on the Spandrels parked on the bridge. The Panzer Zug’s Zugchef and one other Leopard 2 move for clearer lanes of fire, and while one Leopard 2 fires on the concealed Spandrels, one fires on the one T-72 they can see bailed out in the open, and one fires on the Shilka’s that eradicated the LARS Batterie. The bailed tank, one Shilka, and both Spandrels burst into flame. The living Shilka crews destroys their gun and fades into the dusk.
The BMP-1 OP parks itself on its objective on the German right, and points its useless main gun and frontal armor directly at the nearest Leopard 2. Two BMP-2s press on to the objective held by German infantry, while the remaining seven turn their thicker frontal armor, and their main guns, to face the paper thin armor of the four Luchs. Fortunately for all but one of the Luchs, the BMP-2’s shooting is not as effective as Ivan had hoped. The command vehicle of one Späh Trupp is destroyed, but the Feldwebel commandeers the other Luchs and stays in the fight. The two remaining T-72s roll right up to the left objective, between the two buildings flanking it, and fire on the infantry within. The lone MG3 team in the destroyed building is killed. Sensing a chance now that the Leopard 2s have been forced to deal with pressure on the German left flank, the BMP-1s open up on the German MBTs in hops of penetrating the side armor of turrets swiveled far off center. Their hopes remain unfulfilled.
Though a tinny ring in Leutnant Reisender's ears persists, the battlefield otherwise seems too have fallen silent. The combination of the main gun firing and rounds from Ivan’s BMP-1s bouncing off the hull has made such crushing noise within his turret, he momentarily fears the unnatural quiet may be written off as due to damage to his ears despite his hearing protection, but an invective from his gunner reassures him he's not deaf. The Kompanie have fought hard, and he thinks they have destroyed a rocket artillery battery, an air defense artillery battery, and an anti-tank platoon. He thinks they have also destroyed three T-72s, five BMP-1s, and a handful of infantry, but they haven't done it all and remained unbloodied. He’s pretty sure they have lost an entire Panzer Zug, a whole LARS Batterie including its OP, plus some of their infantry, and, worst of all, their Kompaniechef and his Leopard 1. He no longer has a good sense of the Russians positions, and his concussion-addled brain isn't coming up with what may be his best next move any more. He only knows that though the Reds have not beaten the now leaderless soldiers of the Aufklärungs Kompanie, the Aufklärungs Kompanie sure as hell hasn’t beaten the Reds.