The ultimate Normandy Matchup…? somewhere near Caen, a British Tank company makes it way across the landscape…. suddenly… the glint of sun on gun barrels…. Tigers!
Yes, Wittman and 6 Tigers go head to head with 20 Shermans including 4 firefly’s. Would this be a triumph for Allied armour or another set of notches on the barrel of a certain Tiger Commander….?
Actually this game became one of “Where’s Wittman” as it remained to be seen where the Tank Ace would Ambush from.
Axis: (Earth and Steel, FV, SS Heavy Tanks)
Combat platoon 1: 3 x Tiger
Combat platoon 2: 2 x Tiger
Allies: (Fortress Europe, Tank, CT)
HQ: 1iC plus 2ic with 2 attached HQ Sherman V’s
Combat platoons 1 to 4: 3 x Sherman V’s, 1 x Firefly
Recon: 3 U-Carrier platoons
Rifle platoon (cmd, piat, mortar, 6 rifle/MG)
We set up some bocage, roads and fields and chose “Free-for-all” as the mission. Everything lined up. All 6 Tigers covering both objectives plus Wittman in Ambush(!) The Allies spread around to cover objectives and possible lines of advance.
The Allies got the jump and having pushed their recon elements forward, moved aggressively forward to force some kind of action from the Axis Tigers. This came in the form a mistake. The 1iC sherman V tank got too close to the bocage and was gunned at long distance by one of the 2iC platoon.
The Allied recon pushed almost to within capturing range for turn 2 – if they stood a change. Hopefully, Wittmann would be forced to keep back.
Apart from the loss of the boss, the Allies kept hidden as much as they could.
The Allies moved forward again, trying to get a bead on the Tigers. The Axis right side objective was contested by a hidden Recon universal carrier. The Axis left flank was similarly teased with an allied recon carrier unit. The Allied rifle/MG platoon tried to go forward to add a possible threat to the Axis left flank objective, but were hit hard over three turns.
The Tigers took advantage of their shoot and scoot abilities and moved to get shots on the allies then back off.
Wittmann took advantage of the Allied 2ic and his tanks coming up the allied far left flank. Despite the recon carriers, he arrived from a wood to kill one and bail one of the three-tank platoon. The u-carriers nearby were trapped between Wittman and 3 more Tigers.
After this, the Allies tried to get a bead on the Tigers on both objectives but very quickly, two then three of the Firefly’s were lost to gun tanking and ineffective firing. The Trained Sherman crews were no match for Wittman’s finest. The allied 2ic failed to run away and was point-blank assaulted by Wittmans huge gun barrel and blown up from within 6 inches of the Tiger Ace.
In the end, the allies switched tack and moved the tanks in the centre (two platoons with one firefly) to try and take the Axis right flank objective from two sides. That was to fail. Despite their being three Tigers and about 10 Shermans, the Axis forces just kept using the bocage to move up, shoot then back off to defend the objective. On the Axis left, one of the Tigers assaulted the allied rifle platoon remnants and failed to be hit by the PIAT. In return, the combat drew out as the tank just couldn’t get the decisive kill. The Rifles had enough and failed to motivate to counterassault then withdrew toward their own objective, being overtaken by three recon carriers lucky enough to have been ignored.
The allies decided to retreat toward their lines hoping to get back before Wittman could get a jump on an objective. Wittman decided to call the bluff and moved into the roadway to stop some of these tanks. He created a highway to hell of burning wrecks.
In the end, Wittman and his Tigers killed enough of everything to remove 4 platoons. With just one firefly left to guard the allied left flank objective, it came down to Wittman to roll up to the bocage edge, shove his gun barrel through and blow the firefly to scrap metal heaven. At this point the Allies were broken with just a few carriers and half a dozen infantry left on the board.
Wipeout – Axis 6, Allies 1. Wittman notched up 12 Shermans.
Conclusions. Completely the wrong strategy here I think. The only way I think this could have worked with the tanks I had would have been to push forward with most of the tanks and one recon patrol and from their use weight of numbers to take out the Tigers on one side of the table. That was the hindsight view from some of the spectators. That or tweak the list to have a platoon of Tank Destroyers. From my POV, with the Three Tigers on each objective and Wittman waiting in ambush to see where the thrust of an attack is going, even with a lot of shermans and all of the firefly’s on one attack, it would be hard to get past the Tiger armour before the axis notched up enough kills to break 3 or 4 platoons.
At least it felt like a Normandy battle!