For our Saturday game, Dan Best and I selected ASL Scenario AP73 Happy Valley. This battle jumped out to both of us as a nice little armor battle in Tunisia. Neither of us had played it before and so were looking forward to the challenges it offered.
It was one of the initial armor clashes between the Afrika Korps and the untried Americans.
The primary American tank for this engagement was the M3A1 Stuart Tank. This "Honey"of a tank has always been one of my favorites. Back in the 1970's one of my favorite things to buy for a quarter at 7-11 was the latest issue of GI Combat. I was a big fan of Lt. Jeb Stuart and his Stuart Tank - "The Haunted Tank".
Dan would draw the Americans and the defense. He would be commanding elements of "Blade Force", 1st Infantry Battalion, 1st Armored Regiment and Company C, 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion. He would have 4 x 6-6-6's, with 2 x MMG's led by an 8-1 and 8-0 officer. Supporting them would be 3 x Half-tracks with 75 guns, 2 x 81mm Mortars, a 37LL AT Gun and 6 x Stuart Tanks.
By Turn 3 of our game...I would have a serious respect for the 37LL Gun.
As the Germans, I would assume the role of Attacker and have to drive across the map and control all buildings within 5 hexes of 6aP10. At first glance, it seemed like a nice, easy objective. The US force was low in infantry and the tanks and half-tracks should have been no problem for my veteran Afrika Korps veterans. I would command elements of Fallschirmjaeger-Bataillon II and Panzer Regiment 190. This force would consist of 3 x 5-4-8's, 9 x 4-6-7's, with an MMG, 2 x LMG's, 2 x ATR's, and 2 x DC's led by a 9-1, 8-1 and an 8-0. They would be supported by 6 x MKIV's, 3 x 50L MKIII's, 2 x SPW251 Half-Tracks, 2 x Italian Armored Cars and 5 x Trucks. My Germans would have to enter the game as riders/Passengers and any unused Trucks would be automatically recalled. I would choose to use on 2 of the trucks...so three were recalled at the start of the game. My Germans would also have the support of the Luftwaffe. Each even numbered turn, I could roll for Stuka support.
I could hardly wait to unleash my Germans on Dan's unsuspecting Americans.
One of the SSR's allowed Dan's armor units to set up HIP. This would be huge for the American defense and Dan's nerves of steel allowed him to wait patiently for the right moment to strike as I passed by his hidden forces.
My plan was to send a secondary force with the 2 x Italian Armored Cars, 3 x MK III's and two trucks with infantry. They would suffer a terrible fate.
Along the west edge, my main force would make a rush straight towards the village.
The battle begins. The red circles show where Dan's armor and guns were hidden.
Dan would watch as I advanced right into the trap.
My Italian Armored Cars led the way (of course). Their mission...reveal the American forces and create some "Russian" Smoke.
The armored cars would be destroyed and were the only units to achieve their mission objectives.
My western schwerpunkt moved forward without too much drama. My lead MKIV did draw fire from one of the 81mm Mortars. This mortar would go on 7 in a row ROF tear. Fortunately, my tank survived the barrage.
Yep...lots of ammo and most of it got fired at me...
My infantry laden half-tracks were the final elements to advance of my schwerpunkt. That's when a hidden Stuart tank opened fire. Dan's first roll..."12"...good grief. As relieved as I was...it just sucks for anybody playing ASL when their very first roll of the game is boxcars. It would not be the last suffered by us both during this short game.
And Dan would come through for his boys. I on the other hand would not do such a good job.
My secondary group found itself in the sights of two Stuart Tanks. Dan would destroy one and survive my counter fire.
A high ROF and a better gun than one would expect make this little Honey a pretty solid light tank.
Smelling blood in the water, Dan sent the other Stuart right at my now undefended trucks. UGH!!!
Canister...forgot all about that stuff...what is this Shiloh !?! Dan's canister shot shredded the second truck in line. Nasty stuff canister...you don't want to be at the receiving end of that.
Just as things were getting bad for my secondary force...they went and got even worse as a third hidden Stuart tank came over the hill towards my last MKIII.
Fortunately, my MKIII would be successful in turning its turret and destroying the Stuart. It would be my only success against Dan's intrepid Stuart tanks.
Over on the east, Dan sent in his three reinforcement Stuarts to confront my schwerpunkt and sent his 75 Half-track to take out another Italian Armored Car. It was only the bottom of Turn 1 and I was reeling. The momentum was fully in American control.
After surviving a close call my remaining MK III went after the truck killing Stuart and MALF'd the MA on the bounding fire shot. With my remaining movement I high-tailed it to the west.
Dan had MALF'd his Stuart on the hill as it fired at my fleeing MK III. I also ran my last truck right at the Stuart in a desperate attempt to escape my fate. I simply hastened its coming.
Now as Turn 2 began...I still believed I was in this game. By SSR The stream was a gully and all woods were Olive Groves. So I sent my schwerpunkt forward. But I would lose two tanks to a hidden 75 Half-Track in C7 and the ROF of the dang Stuarts.
I'd seen this movie before and it didn't end well for the Germans.
Back on the east flank, my last Italian armored car bit the dust. Dan's truck killing Stuart was swarmed by my remaining 4-6-7. I was desperate to do something. But it was not to be.
At the conclusion of m part of Turn 2, I had reached the limit of my advance. I would go no further.
My CC attempt against the Stuart would fail. My 4-6-7 would survive...but they were mission killed.
"What's there to do for fun around here?"
Just as things were going badly for schwerpunkt...they got even worse as the hidden 37LL AT Gun revealed itself and with a single canister shot...shredded my infantry at the point of my assault.
I was getting an education on canister for sure during this scenario.
The truck killing Stuart, shook off my infantry and went in pursuit of my final MK III. He would succeed in taking it out.
But wait..what's the sound...could it be the sound of Teutonic Vengeance...Valkyries come to exact revenge on the Amis?!!
My boys cheered as the Luftwaffe appeared over the battlefield...but to my dismay, my bomb was a near miss and I rolled an "11", which ensured that my bomb did nothing...
Drats...I really was fighting the Haunted Tank and couldn't take it out...
In my final defensive fire, I would MALF two of my three remaining MKIV's. Nothing was going right for the Germans.
Dan's boys went to work on my MKIV in G6.
Good thing I MALF'd my Main Armament...
Two of my last three tanks would be recalled. By the middle of Turn 3, I was done.
"Command...this is Adler...do you copy...attack has failed...I repeat attack has failed. Remaining units returning to the start line."
I offered Dan the concession and accepted the loss. In four hard hours of gaming and just under 4 turns, the game was over and a decisive victory had been won by the Americans!
Congrats to Dan on a solid win and another great evening of ASL!