Max did not want to sit back and allow the Soviets any chance to regroup after their mauling in the north.
He decided if he could eliminate the T-80s in the centre, it could be enough to see the Soviets off. “India-Zero, Delta-Zero. Proceed to grid 321 1230 and be prepared to link with your callsign and callsign Juliet in that location to exploit into Charlie sector. Be aware, Tango-Eight Zero’s in Charlie sector”. Max gave the orders for his two reserve Leopards to move to a location and link with the remaining Leopard. The reply came back – short and sharp. “India-Zero, ack. Wilco. Out”.
He now had the two reserve Leopards on the move, they would link up with the other Leopard and the Jaguars and then turn south to take the T-80s in the flank if they continued to move into the town from the east. The ideal would be to have them stopped by the anti-armour of the Jaeger platoon and then taken in the flank by the Leopards and Jaguars.
Then an urgent call went out over the net – enemy fixed wing aircraft were spotted. They came in low and fast, strafed Juliet-One and then were engaged by the Gepards, who took return fire, but neither flakpanzer could land a killing blow. This was an ominous sign that the Soviets still had plenty of firepower left.
Then Max heard over the India callsign tactical net India-Two report they were under fire from multiple T-80 ‘s and were disengaging from their position, and moving back to their reserve position 100m to their rear.
India-Two then reported they had been hit and were immobile, and were bailing from the tank, but no sooner had they announced this, then another explosion over the radio indicated that India-Two had also been destroyed. Max looked at his watch – it was 9:21:12am.
In less than a minute, he had become very exposed in the north. The Jaguars still had missiles onboard, but the Milan team was out. Max decided to keep the Milan team in location, as they were still providing good line-of-sight out to the east and south.
What would the T-80s do? If they turned north now, they were still out of range of the Jaeger’s Panzerfausts and Carl Gustavs, so flank shots were out of the question. Would two Jaguars be enough to stop five T-80s? India-Zero and India-Three were still minutes away from arriving to help out the Jaguars, so for the moment, the initiative was with the Soviet in this part of the battlefield.
November-Zero were then back in action, reporting a hit and a kill on their third T-62.
“November-One, target on, engaging”. The second Carl Gustav section was now in action. “Target destroyed”…the target in this case was a very dangerous Shturm Self-Propelled ATGM, one of the most effective systems in the Soviet arsenal, armed with the AT-6 Spiral missile.
Unfortunately, November-Zero had now the unwanted attention of several Soviet vehicles, including BTR-70s and T-62s. Concentrated fire poured into the warehouse where the infantrymen were holed up.
“Engaging. Target destroyed”… “Engaging. Target Destroyed.” November-One engaged and destroyed another BTR-70 and Shturm Self-Propelled ATGM, equalling November-Zeros record of three kills.
November-One Three Kills
November-Zero meanwhile had gone silent, and urgent calls to them over the platoon net were going unanswered. November-One reported the Soviet vehicles had ceased firing at November-Zero. They were gone as a fighting force.
Meanwhile, the T-80s remained just out of anti-armour range from the Jaeger callsigns, and from reports coming in it appeared as though one headed north while three (at least) remained out the east. As the T-80 headed north, it became apparent that it would cross the line-of-sight of at least one of the Jaguars. Would the Jaguars be up to it?
At 9:24:54 Max had his answer. From 1100m, a HOT ATGM fired by Juliet-One hit the T-80B and destroyed it. One less MBT for Max to worry about. This caused the other T-80 to halt, unfortunately not in a position for any of Max’s systems to engage.
Then November-One reported they were being engaged by multiple Soviet vehicles, similar to the attack on November-Zero. Again, concentrated fire poured into the light building being occupied by November-One for several minutes. The building itself was disappearing under the weight of fire. It seemed that Max had lost November-One.
While the assault on November-One continued, the T-80s in Charlie sector continued to sit just out of anti-armour range. It was too much for Max, who ordered the Milan armed Marder from Golf-Two to move forward to the Jaeger’s sector on the edge of town to see if they could engage with their Milan. Golf-Two was still recovering from their evacuation from the burning building, so the Marder was sent as an anti-armour platform, and not a troop carrier.
Mike-Zero, the other Carl Gustav section in the south then reported a pair of Hinds inbound from the south-east into the southern sector. They were well out of range from the Gepards, but possibly one of the Marders from 2nd or 3rd Platoons would be able to engage.
Situation at 09:28:28
Suddenly, there was a huge explosion just outside the CP. Most of Max’s headquarters staff, including the OC himself, was thrown to the floor. What windows were left in the church were shattered, and dust and glass rained down on the prostrate Panzergrenadiers. Max lifted his head and checked that his staff were all Ok. Everyone was up and dusting themselves off, the solid walls of the old church had protected them from the blast. Max’s Stabsfeldwebel came up to him. “Major, that was Delta-One! It appears the Hinds spotted it and put a couple of 57mm rockets into it. Crew are all safe, they were in their prepared positions and not the vehicle. Unfortunately the vehicle is a right-off!”
“Thanks Willi, see to the crew and make sure we move Delta-Zero, don’t want to lose two vehicles.” The Stabsfeldwebel acknowledged and moved off. Max was again amazed at the lethality of modern weapons – the Hind had to have been at least 3000m from the Marder it destroyed, and had spotted it among the buildings. They were lucky that the vehicle had attracted the Hind’s attention, and not the people in the building.
The battle had been going on for close on 30 minutes now, and while the first 20 minutes had been all in the favour of the Panzergrenadiers, events were slowly swinging the pendulum back to the Soviets. The Soviets had suffered terrible losses in the north, but they were building up in the south. The loss of the two Leopards had compromised Max’s defence on his left flank, a situation that should be rectified when India-Zero and India-Three arrived in the sector. The centre hadn’t been tested, the T-80s still sitting just out of anti-armour range. If Golf-Two could get there in time and place itself in a good spot, maybe they could take a couple of them out.
Despite losing November-One, the basic defence of the right flank was still sound. There were now at least a dozen Soviet vehicles lined up along the road leading into the town from the south, but again outside of infantry anti-armour range. The arrival of the Hinds into this sector complicated things, especially as it seemed the Hinds were going to sit away from the town and pick off any exposed elements of Max’s command.
This is exactly what they did, harassing anything that moved within the town. The first to come under attack from the Hinds was India-Zero, again around 3000m from the Hind position. Fortunately, India-Zero made it to cover before the helicopters could re-engage. Then, Foxtrot-Zero’s Marder came under fire. Once again the driver was able to get the vehicle to cover before the Hinds launched rockets or their AT-2c. However, the third target for the Hinds was not so lucky. Juliet-Zero reported taking fire from 57mm rockets, and then an AT-2c was fired, scoring a direct hit on the Jaguar. This was a major blow, and Max’s defence of his left flank now rested on one Jaguar, until the remaining two Leopards could reach the location. With the Hinds in such a commanding position, any movement was fraught with danger so the two tanks were reduced to a crawl.
Meanwhile, another keen eyed tanker in a T-80 appeared to have observed Charlie-Two in a building on the edge of town. As the contact report came in, four T-80s opened up on the Jaeger Infantry Section, their 125mm guns making small work of the light building Charlie-Two had been sheltering in. Within a minute, Charlie-Two was destroyed.
Then, another frantic call over the radio came from Lima-Zero, the |Milan (now observation) team, that they were in contact from a T-80 and a BMD-1 (the latter had become immobilised and had remained in the same location for the battle thus far – Max would have to rectify that).
The Milan team, out of missiles and trapped in a building under intense fire, were in a desperate situation.
It was now 9:36:14. Max had endured a wretched 15 minutes or so, where the Soviets had started to take a toll on his force. The T-80s had blasted a hole in his centre defence, there was virtually nothing left in the north and the Hinds were making any movement a gamble. He needed some luck to turn his way.
“Charlie-One, engaging Tango-Eight-Zero. Target destroyed.” A T-80 had strayed into the 300m engagement range of the section’s panzerfausts, and they had had used the weapon to good effect.
This brought some short lived fire down onto Charlie-One, but the T-80s seemed to have decided that they were going to approach the town direct from the east.
The approach they took was between Charlie-Zero and the now destroyed Charlie-Two. The former was right in the path of several of the T-80s, and despite firing off their panzerfausts as the T-80s moved in, did not stop the tanks from reaching the edge of the town. Three of the T-80s drove right by Charlie-Zero – clearly their orders were to enter the town without engaging the infantry – or had they just not seen where the panzerfausts had been fired from? Was this to be Charlie-Zero’s lucky day?
By 09:37 the five T-80s were in the town. Max had despatched Golf-Two to try and stop them, however the Marder had not been able to get into a good position from which to use his Milan missile system. The T-80s were now in a position further west than Golf-Two was – meaning that rear shots now became a possibility. The advantage Max had, was that his lookout in the church spire could see across most of the town, and could direct Golf-Two into the best firing positions based on the route of the T-80s. Max sent his Executive Officer, an experienced Panzergrenadier officer, up into the spire to assist the lookout direct Golf-Two into the best firing position.
While all the attention had been on the centre, with the T-80s finally making a move, a call came in from Mike-Zero, the remaining Carl Gustav section in the south. “Delta-Zero, Mike-Zero. Multiple vehicles moving toward my position. Contact. Wait-Out”. The third line of Max’s anti-armour defence was now about to be tested. There were between eight and twelve vehicles strung out along the road to the south-east of Mike-Zero. If they all moved together, they could easily overwhelm the infantry section, but the Soviets seemed a lot more cautious now, especially after their losses in the north.
A relatively quiet minute passed before Mike-Zero came back on the radio. “Mike-Zero, one Bravo Tango Romeo Seven Zero destroyed. Being engaged by Tango-Five Five.Out”.
Mike-Zero had succeeded in taking out another BTR-70, but in return was now facing fire from at least one T-55.
The battle had now been going for 40 minutes, and the last half of that time had certainly not been in Max’s favour, as the first 20 had been. He had lost four sections of infantry, a Marder and a Jaguar. T-80s were now in the town, he had very little in the north, and the infantry sections remaining forward in the centre were out of anti-armour ammunition. The good news however was that he had yet to commit his Panzergrenadier platoons, with the exception of Golf-Two, and he had three Leopards and a Jaguar left, and the Hinds had departed. His most pressing issue was the T-80s in town. Should he move the Milan Section from 1 Platoon into the town to enagage the T-80s, or rely on the anti-armour weapons of 2nd Platoon?
< Message edited by Doggie3 -- 12/1/2018 9:41:51 AM >