AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (Full Version)

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heinrich55 -> AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:24:47 AM)

Vengeance of the Beast Hunters

It is July 7, 1943 and Andrev Kovalenko is bone-weary. He leans against the lip of his steel monster, lulled by the vibration from the engines idle. The steel is warm already, with the sun overhead threatening to make it blistering hot in an hour or so. Energy pulses through the metal box he calls home, the familiar smell of exhaust and fuel flowing around his senses.

The briefing he received a little while ago was simple and to the point. The Major had called all commanders to his vehicle and given them their orders. “We defend Hill 257,” he said in his characteristic monotone. “We hold the 2nd belt of defenses. The fascists are coming, make no mistake. We stop them here.”

That was it – no bombastic statements, no screaming of propaganda, no wild exhortations to bravery and sacrifice. Just hold or die. Well, the die part was implied; Andrev smiled grimly to himself at that thought.

How different this was from the earlier years, where commissars strutted around menacing soldiers with their handguns, demanding physical sacrifices of death which, strangely enough, they themselves never seemed called upon to suffer. There was a change slowly flowing over his army. It was almost becoming….he searched for the word for a moment….yes, professional, that was the word. There seemed to be a calm professional attitude being infused into the military. The commissars had been all but replaced. Now they had soldiers to lead them, like Major Sankovsky.

heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:27:43 AM)

Kovalenko has ordered his motorized gun into the first wave of two, per their orders. He looks to the right to see his fellow tank men – Captain Malek is on his direct right and his friend Balenovka, a fellow sergeant, on the far side of the Captain. Behind their guns are the three of 1st squad, the Major’s unit. Kovalenko makes a face at this thought, as the Major is directly behind his gun. “What luck?” he tells himself.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:30:27 AM)

Andrev appreciates his position as they are screened from the potential approach of the enemy. They are nicely concealed by a copse of trees. His gunner remarked that this just makes them a more prominent target for artillery, for where else would they naturally conceal their armor. Andrev just shook his head at that; old Romanov was being his usual self.

“Sarek,” he shouts down into the interior of their gun, “I am moving forward to recon the woods.” A muffled acknowledgment from Romanov is the reply to his call.
Andrev gives a quick glance to the rear to see what the Major is doing. Major Sankovsky seems to be talking on the radio. Andrev points into the trees and gives a hand signal that he intends to move forward. An impatient hand wave is thrown his way from the Major. Andrev then does the same for Captain Malek. The Captain appears busy too but acknowledges Kovalenko’s signals with a smile.

Kovalenko leaps down from the massive upper superstructure of his tank onto the back engine deck and then deftly springs to the ground. He moves forward just a bit and then looks back to view their position.

His tank is squat ugly, that is for sure. The tank has a unique profile though, and there is something very dangerous about the tank’s looks. It looks low and hungry. His command is a new SU-152, essentially an artillery piece grafted onto a tank chassis and surrounded by an ugly steel box.

As these tanks were designed to hunt and kill the Tigers that the Germans are using, his gun is now unofficially known as the Animal Hunter. With the giant 15.2-cm gun they are told they can kill anything the Germans dare throw against them. This is a good feeling, he thinks, but also realizes that if this is the case, then the Germans will be sure to target them first, in every case.

His crew is fairly new, not overly familiar with their gun, but they held up well yesterday, taking long shots at the enemy. They have now been moved to a new location, this Hill 257, because the Fascists have been pushing steadily into their defenses.

The young crewmen all wanted to name their gun something heroic and dashing. He had to shut them down a bit, as their suggestions were silly. He felt it unnecessary to name a tool they were using to kill the enemy. “Would you name the hammer you use to bash the pins into the treads?” he admonished them. They had to sheepishly agree.

However, he also recognized the need for morale, so he suggested they call their tank “Stalker.” They were happy with that and accepted this honor.

“Andrev,” said his gunner Romanov quietly, “Come here with me for just a minute.”

Kovalenko followed his gunner to the rear of their gun, and then about 15 meters further behind it, curious now as to why his gunner wanted a private audience with him out of ear-shot of the others.

“Yes, Sarek, what is it?” he asked. “Why the secrecy?”

“Andrev, it should be plain as the nose on your face,” replied his gunner. Sarek was pointing at the rear of their tank.

“What? What are you talking about?” Kovalenko was confused and slightly annoyed.

“Our tank, our gun, is definitely a she. Your name is all wrong. Can’t you see it now? Her ass is as wide as my beloved Grandmother. It is as if she is balancing two produce baskets on each hip. Our gun crawls along as if she is heavily laden and dragging her way to the market. Her name is clearly Babushka!”

As the nuances of Romanov’s bombastic explanation are realized by him, Kovalenko’s eyes widen in surprise and he bursts into laughter despite his normally quiet and professional demeanor. He notes the mischievous grin on Romanov’s face.

“You can call her what you like,” he announces, “but I think you have a very good point.”

Much to the chagrin of the crew, commander and gunner have called their tank Babushka ever since.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:31:49 AM)

Andrev is smiling to himself as he marches through the wooded copse, leaving his tank behind. He wants to see what sort of terrain they can employ when the enemy arrives. The trees are heavy but not too heavy that he could drive up into them for concealment.

As he arrives on the forward edge of the trees he spots a well-concealed AT gun pit. It looks mean and menacing. His practiced eye now spots many different gun pits and foxhole positions. This hill position is positively bristling with defenses. “Perhaps we won’t be needed,” he thinks to himself.

His momentary bright thought is suddenly ripped from his consciousness as several of the medium-sized AT guns begin to fire. “It was a nice thought while it lasted” he ruefully things. He quickly looks for their targets.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:33:16 AM)

“Yes, there they are,” he says to himself. “Definitely Tigers.” That is what the guns are opening up on. The arrogant Fascists are making a frontal attack. “Make them pay!” he roars, despite himself.

Sergeant Mishkov is encouraging his young gun crew. They are eager but fairly inexperienced, but they do know how to fire rounds quickly, he will give them that. He doesn’t have much hope that his 4.5-cm AT gun will do much damage to the steel monsters that rear up in the distance. Still, he wants them to fire as quickly as possible, as this will keep them busy and they will have less chance to let fear overwhelm them.

“Hit!” he calls, seeing the sparks on the distant enemy tank. “Come on, keep it up. Just a little higher,” he calls the correction to the gunner.

The gun banks with a sharp report and suddenly….


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:34:47 AM)

“It burns!” screams the loader, as Mishkov literally rubs his eyes to make sure he sees what has just happened. He is without words for a moment – how in the world did they make the kill at this distance? Yet there is no denying it. The Tiger is on fire, a definite kill.

He swells with pride. They have the first kill, and, they have killed one of the enemies biggest and best tanks. This is a moment of moments.

Suddenly he catches himself – the battle, of course - “Get a hold of yourself” he admonishes.

“Yes, that beast is dead. Find more before we are dead too!” he shouts. He sounds angry but he has a huge smile on his face. His men are alarmed and rush to their task, searching for another target, but they cannot help but notice that their sergeant is incredibly pleased at their performance. This just increases their pride and spurns them on to get more kills.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:35:59 AM)

Kovalenko has seen the death of the Tiger and he is pleased. He now watches a quick battle to his left. Another AT gun has sighted in on an enemy halftrack transport. They are banging shells out at a prodigious rate, but they are just off. The enemy halftrack is showered with dirt from the near misses. He sees they are rapidly reversing their course, trying to throw off the AT gunner’s aim and put distance between them.

The AT gunner suddenly slows his pace, taking deliberate aim. Their gun cracks with the press of the trigger, and Kovalenko watches as a shower of sparks shows the direct hit. The halftrack does not burn, but it is dead. He hears the gun crew celebrate and then they hunt for more targets.

It is time for him to return to his gun, but he takes note that there seem to be several heavy enemy tanks and many more medium tanks, with a few halftracks thrown in. There doesn’t seem to be a very heavy push in their sector and this makes him feel they might survive yet another day.

As he runs back through the woods he hears the telltale crump sound of enemy artillery. His thoughts rush to Romanov’s admonition about their position and artillery. It speeds his run to his tank.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:37:06 AM)

German tank guns are now finding the range. They are identifying the enemy guns and targeting them. A lucky shot tears across the gun shield of one of the AT guns, damaging the gun but sparing the crew. They escape with minor cuts from fragments.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:37:59 AM)

Several enemy halftracks have been hit and destroyed. Their thin skin is no match to the many 4.5-cm AT guns arrayed in this killing field. Still others grimly press on. An enemy sergeant apparently preferring to take his chances in the dirt orders his men out of the steel coffin they have ridden so far. He will lead them on foot.

The halftrack driver now frantically throws his vehicle in reverse, and dirt showers from under the tracks as the vehicle lurches backwards quickly. The crew now hopes they can reach some sort of cover.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:39:01 AM)

On the right flank, Demitriev is one of the most forward positions. He knows he is here because his corporal volunteered him. “Damn that coward,” he thinks angrily. This is partly because he would not join the Communist Party, and partly because he was trying to keep some small vestige of his Catholicism in honor of his mother. She made him promise to remain religious no matter what. How can he deny her that small comfort?

Demitriev crouches down in his foxhole, lining up his extremely heavy anti-tank rifle on the wave of enemy halftracks. How they got through the mines he will never know. He watched the penal battalion laying mine after mine, practically putting them edge to edge. Still the enemy drives through as if the deadly minefield was not even there.

A sudden burst of smoke from a shuddering halftrack identifies a hit from one of his comrades and their AT gun. He allows himself a brief smile but remains motionless, hoping to get a shot off at one of the other two.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:40:24 AM)

There is still a fair bit of back-slapping among the gun crew as Mishkov lets the men momentarily bask in their success. The gunner is yelling and pointing to the right, noting that several tanks and halftracks are pressing the right flank. The men easily adjust the gun in that direction, at Mishkov’s direction.

Retyev is gently adjusting the range wheels as he lines up on an enemy halftrack. Mishkov is giving range information as Ivan brings more rounds up in preparation for reloading. The sergeant notes the men are moving well, quickly and efficiently lining up for the next kill.

“Fire,” he roars and the sharp crack of the round being fired slams the barrel back in savage recoil. Less than a second later Lev has the breech open as Ivan rams the next shell in. Their first shot has not even arrived at its destination yet.

Then Mishkov sees the impact. “Low,” he shouts over the roar of other guns and the din of battle that washes over their position. Dirt is hurled over the side of their target. Retyev is gently easing up the range, ever so slightly to compensate.

“Fire!” is the command and Retyev depresses the firing key, riding the recoil of his gun with practiced acumen, eye still on the targeting sight. He is barely aware that yet another round is already home in the gun chamber, so intense is his concentration. He barely hears his sergeant shouting “A Hit!” but he sees the result of their AT round as it cuts into the flank of the enemy halftrack. A burst of smoke announces the success of their shot. Unknowingly they have given Demitriev, the lone anti-tank rifleman a small breather and a possible window for survival.

He smiles, his teeth white against the smoke and dirt covering his face. “Another kill, more fascists dead,” he thinks to himself. He feels a slap on his shoulder and knows it is his sergeant. He is still smiling as he looks to line up crosshairs on the next halftrack in line.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:41:21 AM)

The happy and excited gun crew is flushed with success now, really feeling their upcoming veteran status. None of them, not even their sergeant, notice the sudden ominous bloom of flame to their front.

Their situational awareness is flawed, a mistake they will never repeat again.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:42:10 AM)

The angry claws of a forgotten Tiger tank arrive on the breathless steppes of Russia, an 8.8-cm caliber tank shell obliterating the gun. The only member of the crew able to register any reaction at all is Mishkov, and his split-second moment is only surprise as his body is shredded by shrapnel and high-explosive concussion. Then there is only final black oblivion. Gunner Retyev is disintegrated on impact. The loaders are torn by a wall of steel shards, like angry bees ripping flesh.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:42:59 AM)

Flames rise up as stacked shells now explode in sympathetic reaction.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:43:46 AM)

Angry black smoke fills the gun pit.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:44:48 AM)

Anyone near may be able to see the outline of the remains of the gun and its crew.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:46:11 AM)

Death has come so swiftly that no one in any nearby positions has yet had time to realize that Mishkov and his men no longer exist. The angry Tiger tank has exacted swift and terrible revenge for the death of its comrade, the gun crew’s lives snuffed out with the finality of giant fingers pinching a candle wick. The battlefield rarely gives second chances for combat mistakes. This time there are no survivors.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:47:37 AM)

Lieutenant Severnaya is trying to handle too many things at one time. He is coordinating his own gun along with the others guns under his command and control. The 76.2-cm gun has been blazing away at the oncoming enemy tanks but he is not sure what success they have had so far. In fact, he has left targeting to his senior sergeant while he tries to make sense of the radio information scratching across the net. Even though linesmen laid the landline earlier, burying it for safe measure, enemy artillery is landing around gun pits and disrupting communication.

His gun command is 540/2/1 and his four gun pits are the linchpin of their AT gun front. They are most able to destroy the heavy German tanks, so they must lure the enemy towards them giving their smaller brothers shots at the flanks. So far he does not think they have any kills, but he is smarting just a bit at the knowledge that a 4.5-cm gun crew has somehow killed a Tiger tank.

He is screaming a command into the microphone right now, trying to alert his gun crews that the main enemy tank thrust is coming from the center and the right flank. They are to concentrate fire there.

A loud crash explodes just to their right, and he hears a cry from one of his loaders – Mishkov’s gun pit has just exploded. He cannot take time to look up, as he is getting more reports on the landline. He thinks to himself, “So Mishkov had his moment of glory for the Rodina,” before yelling into the microphone to concentrate on the right flank
Then he is lying on the hard-packed ground, stunned. He wonders why it is raining dirt and he cannot hear anything. He looks at his hand mic and tries to remember just what he was doing and where the hell he is. Sound slowly comes back to him now, a hissing and whine that increases in crescendo. His loader is bent over him, a terrible worried look on his face. Severnaya is reading his lips and suddenly realizes the man is shouting “Are you alright?”

“Yes,” he shouts back, brushing off dirt from his uniform. “What happened?”

“Near miss,” is the terse explanation. From the size of the explosion the gun caliber had to be big. He thought the Tigers had been held up. “Are we targeting them?” he wonders.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:48:31 AM)

His eyes wander to the burning gun pit just to their right, and the terrible thought courses through his mind – they are the next target. Of course, it would take next to nothing for the enemy gunner to adjust his gun to their….


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:49:39 AM)

The roar of the 8.8-cm cannon shell explosion rips the screams from the gun crew’s mouths. The second explosion is dead on, tearing open Severnaya and his gun crew like wet sacks of meat. Severnaya has probably lived maybe 20 seconds longer than Mishkov. Smoke and flame consume the remains of the Soviet crew.

There is now a ripple effect, as the remaining three gun crews suddenly realize that their commander is out of contact. None know he is a sad footnote in historical recounts that will probably never be immortalized. After some moments of indecision, one of the gun crew commanders now takes command of the remaining guns. There has been a delay though, and confusion starts to take control.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:50:29 AM)

On the left flank, gun crews are still grimly at their tasks. The enemy tanks have been held up on this flank, and seem to be faltering. Enemy halftracks have pushed forward but several now lie burning or silent, a testament to the determined Soviet gunners’ skill.

Enemy artillery is trying to find the range, knowing just how deadly the AT front is proving to be. A 4.5-cm gun crew gets their round off just as a huge artillery explosion throws a gout of dirt and smoke skyward. The crew is saved by their gun pit, but shaken by the near-miss.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:51:20 AM)

Josif Belov is not a happy man. It would appear that every blasted fascist artillery piece is gunning for him, personally. “I am just a stinking corporal,” he roars as he cuffs loader Popov in the helmet. “Move faster!” he exhorts the loader, taking some of his frustration out on the man.

They took a near miss just moments ago, still getting off their round. This did nothing to sooth his fiery disposition. He is mad at everything; mad at being in the Army; mad about being out in the wide open spaces with only a shallow gun pit for protection; mad that he has imbecilic beasts for a gun crew; and especially mad at an enemy that has personally picked him out for target practice.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:52:39 AM)

Popov stops with a round in his hand, pointing to yet another artillery strike between their gun pit and his fellow corporal Deska’s gun pit. “Load, you cow!” screams Belov, kicking the man in the seat of his pants. Popov almost drops his shell as he is launched towards the breech of their gun. He can almost hear the gunner giggling at Popov’s distress – always better that someone else gets the boot he can imagine the man thinking.

“I want kills!” he shouts. The fascist tanks seem to be cowering on the ridge above them, and he wants them to burn.

“I am on it,” calls gunner Markov. “You better be,” is the ominous retort.

“Georgians,” mutters the gunner under his breath as he gently turns the targeting wheels.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:54:03 AM)

Over the din of the battlefield Belov hears the crack of his fellow corporal’s gun. “Why aren’t we firing?” he roars. “Does Deska have a better crew?”

“He missed,” is Belov’s gunner’s retort. And so he did.

Smoke rises up from the flank of an enemy tank that Belov is instantly viewing through binoculars he looted from a fascist tank crewman, several months back.

“Do better,” he calls to his gunner, but this time with no anger in his voice.

Markov doesn’t even notice; he is concentrating.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:55:11 AM)

Corporal Deska sees the giant gout of smoke and flame as it appears a direct hit has wiped out his friend Belov’s gun pit.

His loader is pointing in astonishment. “How did they do that?” he intones with amazement in his voice.

“What are you talking about? They are dead,” spits Deska angrily.

“No, Corporal, I saw the flame from their barrel. They fired.”


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:56:33 AM)

Belov hears the crack of his gun as Markov grips the trigger. He also hears a hammering blow at the front of their gun pit. He is stunned by the explosion and cannot see anything through the storm of earth, smoke, and fire swirling around him. He is aware of whispering shards of shrapnel flying all about, tugging at the sleeves of his tunic. The pain is minimal compared to his anger. “Have we been killed just when we were making a difference?” he wonders.

As the smoke clears, he sees blood on his arms but nothing more. He is only lightly wounded. He looks up at the grimy face of Popov, with the grin of a village idiot on his face. The man is untouched – “perhaps there is a God who watches over small children and idiots,” he thinks to himself.

“Corporal, look!” shouts Markov. He is pointing in the distance where a plume of smoke is rising.

Instinctively the glasses snap to his eyes as Belov takes in the scene on the ridge. The fascists are leaping from their tank – a clear kill. Smoke is pouring from the hatches of the destroyed vehicle.

“Six hundred or more meters, Corporal,” shouts Markov. He is bleeding from the forehead over his eye but the gun shield has protected him from anything serious. He is already looking for another target.

Belov has no retort to this. He snorts as he tries to think of something clever, but his mind is still reeling from the explosion. He notices the other loader, Grenko, cowering behind a crate of shells.

“Move it, you stupid cow,” he shouts at Grenko as Popov dashes for more shells. “How many near misses will they get?” he wonders, wincing at the aggravating pain coming from his bleeding arms.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:57:19 AM)

Two Soviet squads let enemy infantry advance closer until they are clearly in a crossfire situation. Then the two squads open up on the advancing Germans, and casualties are taken. The enemy is pinned down.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:58:06 AM)

Enemy infantry hug the warm Russian soil, seeking cover. Green tracer rounds hungrily seek them out, tearing dirt, clothing, and flesh with equal enthusiasm. There is hardly time to panic. Russian soldiers watch as one by one, the enemy cries out and becomes still.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 12:58:58 AM)

Then the field gray uniforms are still as their blood leaks out into the parched Russian field. There is no cheering from the Russian soldiers – their sergeant is a veteran and knows the value of their hidden position. The success of their attack lies silent before them. They immediately duck down into their hiding places to wait for more. The cheering will come later….if there is a later.


heinrich55 -> RE: AAR - Vengeance of the Beast Hunters (1/1/2012 1:00:01 AM)

Far across the battlefield, Demitriev is huddled down in his position on the right flank. He took several shots at the enemy halftracks and got his position shot up really good. He could only duck down to avoid the machine gun fire ripping around him.

Now he tries to make himself as small as possible. “Maybe the fascists will ignore him,” he hopes. At any rate, there is little he can do to stem the enemy. The roar of engines comes closer, and he eases up for a quick glance. The enemy halftracks are passing by, maybe 30 meters away. He has no shot…yet, but may try after they pass. There are tanks following behind too and he is not sure how his courage will hold up in the face of such danger. How they are getting through the minefield he has no clue. The penal troops laid so many and yet the enemy drives right through.


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