Platoon Commander Kursk

Bonus AAR! Rommel Attacks, ’43 (part 2)

What does a 4-player throwdown look like in Gary Grigsby’s War in the West: Operation Torch?  The gang at Matrix Games shows us ~

Matrix Games, 10 October 2015

Turn 3

Axis Air Commander

On Turns 2 and 3 I provided Stuka Ground Attacks on enemy concentrations until Fatigue and Low Morale forced me to ground the Stukas to recover.  At this point my goal switched to keeping the enemy aircraft away from our Ground Forces by flying Air Superiority Missions over the most dangerous part of our Front, which was in the Center.  I believe this was also quite successful although I was not able to see the Air Battles raging during the Ground Phase.

Axis Ground Commander

The battle continues to rage to the north of Sdid Bouzid but the Allies are unable to exploit forward.

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I take this turn quietly and ensure that I take easy chances to push back units that have over extended. I bide my time as I don’t want to exhaust my combat power and open myself to being caught by a counter attack.

Allied Air Commander

I shifted away from Air Superiority and decreased Ground Attack intensity to allow for more planes to be likely to fly Ground Support and to make sure all strikes were well escorted. Our doctrine was also adjusted to allow for lower altitude strikes to maximize effectiveness on the ground. The Luftwaffe may be doing well fighter vs fighter, but we are getting in the strikes we need generally when we need them. I continued ground attacks on units east of Kasserine as well as Ground Support to 1st Army. The priority of Interdiction was reduced to focus on direct unit attacks.
Allied Ground Commander

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With the arrival of the 9th US Infantry Division, several attacks were made in the center to try to drive the German panzer forces back to Sdid Bouzid. However, with no air support showing up, all attacks failed with heavy losses. Several regiments of the 1st Infantry division and one combat command from 1st Armored were sent south toward Gafsa. The armor and several French cavalry units began infiltrating the Italian positions with the hope of eventually isolating Gafsa and making it possible to seize this key objective before it can be reinforced. Pichon was reinforced and the German armor in front of Sdid Bouzid has proven too strong to displace. Capturing these objectives will only be possible if they are seriously weakened in order to reinforce Gafsa. With the arrival of the 9th Division, I expect that Kasserine is relatively safe so I’ll try to move toward whichever of these three objectives appear to be the most weakly guarded.

Turn 4

Axis Ground Commander

I continue to hold firm in the centre where the Allies launched a number of attacks towards Sdid Bouzid but I can see that the Allies are infiltrating forward in the south.

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Now is the time to launch some attacks to drive back the Allies but also ensure that they cannot advance forward and cut off any of my forces. This is my response. Recapturing the airfield North of Sidi Bouzid allows me to resupply by air.

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Allied Air Commander

A strong storm with a lot of rain meant that hardly any air missions flew and there was no significant combat in the air or ground support. The ground forces were on their own this turn.

Allied Ground Commander

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It looks like the Axis focus has remained in the center, so an opportunity presented itself in the south. Infiltrating a French unit through the Italian lines prevented the Italian armored regiment in reserve from being able to interfere in my attack on Gafsa. Turning the center over to the Vth Corps, I was able to hit Gafsa with 2 regiments from the 1st Division, 1 Combat Command of the 1st Armored and two small French battalions. Although our air support was grounded by the overcast, with the help of 4 155 battalions the Italians were forced to retreat from Gafsa.

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This was a major victory and if Gafsa can be held we will be assured of victory. A holding attack in the center failed once again, proving once and for all that getting the best of well led crack Panzer forces is near impossible without air support and stronger Allied leadership. Another factor is that the allied front line depot stockpiles were used up in the initial weak of fighting, and trucked in supplies from far in the rear cannot keep the Allied units well supplied with the fuel and ammunition needed for extensive offensive operations. Over the past several weeks I tried to funnel more supplies to II and V corps, but there really wasn’t enough truck capacity to keep both Corps at peak offensive effectiveness.

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Turn 5 and Final Recap

Axis Ground Commander

Unfortunately the Allies recapture Gafsa in the south. In the centre I take the opportunity to withdraw 21 Pz Div to Sidi Bouzid and place into reserve mode. This time I fly resupply at night which avoids any losses to my Iron Annie fleet.

Allied Air Commander

I focused all ground support on II Corps again and focused as much as possible in the Gafsa area to support ground operations. If we could hold Gafsa and Kasserine, the German offensive would likely be out of steam. As Gafsa was at greater risk, that’s where our planes went. The German pilots outfought ours in air combat, assisted by some great planning by their commander as well as one turn of poor planning on my part that sacrificed far too many Spitfires. Our focus overall was less on air superiority and more on targeted strikes to help the ground campaign and in that I feel we succeeded.

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Allied Ground Commander

The Axis commander destroyed the French cavalry battalion that had taken up blocking positions northeast of Gafsa. No other Axis attacks were launched. I can only assume the German Panzer forces in the center were spent and the German commander felt they were unable to make a successful move to Gafsa. With Gafsa secure, one last attempt to push the Germans back in the center was made. Again no progress was made, and casualties were roughly three Allied for every one Axis loss. With that I ended my turn and the game. I was pleased to see that the capture of Gafsa had indeed led to an Allied minor victory with a victory point ratio of 1.5 to 1. All in all a fun game. If we had it to do again, we would have used our limited Admin points to bring in a replacement leader for the II US Corps. Clearly success in two near run battles was the difference between victory and defeat. The first was retaking Kasserine on turn 1 thanks to intense Allied air support. The second was being able to infiltrate the lines near Gafsa and concentrate enough force there to be able to defeat the one Italian unit left in the line before any reserve units could come to its support. Even with all of these moves, the battle of Gafsa was about as close as they come, and could have easily been lost. Had that happened the result would have either been a draw or a razor thin Allied minor victory.

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Axis Air Commander

Over the course of the Scenario the Axis lost 80 fighters in Air-to Air combat while downing 180!  We had a total kill ratio > 2-1 with 101 total losses while downing 215 of the enemy.

It is important to Rest your aircraft when Pilots have High Fatigue and Low Morale.  Both recover quickly on Rest.  Due to the quality of my German Fighter Pilots this did not happen often, but my Italian flyers spent several turns on Rest trying to recover from crippling losses.

As a new aircraft (Bf-109G-6) became available I upgraded a couple of units.  I also took my Ground Attack Fw-190A-4 unit (III/SKG-10) and had them fly Air Superiority even though their pilots were trained as Bombers.  This unit finished the scenario with 23 Kills. I/JG-2 (flying the Fw-190A-4) led all units with an astounding 64 Kills.  II/JG-51 was also formidable flying the Bf-109G-2 they managed to down 44 enemy aircraft.

I always set my Air Groups to accept Trained Pilots Only as I do not want to begin a decline in Quality Pilots.  When they are Fatigued they stay on the ground in Rest mode.  When they have recovered they go back into the air. The Luftwaffe is quite good in this scenario, as compared to many other scenarios in War in the West.  Enjoy the Superiority as it will not last.


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