News at last of the first battle with my 'Desert War' figures. With surprising speed, I was able to bash out the painting and prepping of the Afrika Korps. Here's a picture of the completed 21st Panzer Division:
3 Tanks, 4 Infantry, 1 Artillery, 1 88mm, 2 Recon, 1 HQ (and a half-track just for the hell of it!)
Time to get the first battle onto the tabletop, and the marked-up pic below gives you an idea of the deployments.
The Axis plan is for a big, bold strike hooking around the open south flank. Consequently the Italians are left holding the north in a thin-stretched line, the more infantry-heavy 90th Light will act as the hinge on which the two panzer divisions turn to complete their move northwards and roll up the Brits.
British Army plans are slightly more cautious, given the Axis draw of so many Panzer unit cards. The two infantry divisions are deployed along the line of all those minefields, with the South Africans in the north and the Indians in the south. The 7th Armoured division stays back away to the south in open desert, lurking where it can do some damage to flanks. The Free-French brigade is left on the southern end of the main line for a bit more protection, while the tanks of the 8th Armoured brigade are kept in reserve behind the 4th Indian Division.
"Cup of tea, anyone?"
The battle started with the Germans roaring forward at full pelt, and 90th Light Division struck the Free French brigade full-on, aided by the efforts of the Luftwaffe who blew up it's artillery and HQ, meaning most of it's losses were permanently lost for this battle.
"Sacre Bleu! Voila les Boches!"
Thankfully the 4th Indian division quickly weighed into the struggle, and before long the battered French were pulling back to safety and it was the 90th Light who looked the more beleaguered. Southwards, the two Panzer divisions swept on and the 7th Armoured Division soon found that rather than picking on a flank it was being hit head-on by the 21st Panzer.
The fighting between these two divisions see-sawed back and forth for a while, with an attempt by the Luftwaffe to intervene brought spectacularly to grief by the Anti-Aircraft guns of the Desert Rats.
"Crikey, that was a close one!"
With the other units to its north and south engaged, 15th Panzer found itself advancing into a gap - would it turn north as planned, or south to outnumber the isolated 7th Armoured? It's grizzled lead-figure commander stood his full 10mm tall, and ordered his staff to keep moving northwards. However, he wasn't about to entirely leave 7th Armoured alone, and he ordered a recon battalion to go south and spot for his 8.8Flak guns, which he also detailed off south to form a little mini-detachment.
it wasn't long before the 88s proved a spectacular success, and 7th Armoured began to struggle against a foe they couldn't even hit back at!
The battle began to hot up, and as the scale of the Axis swing south became obvious, the British General ordered the South Africans in the north to attack out and hit the Italians, hoping to force a German unit to break off and rush to their aid. The Ariete Armoured division, far smaller in size and badly overstretched, soon found itself fighting a desperate retreat against the rampaging South Africans. Elsewhere on the field, the 90th Light and 15th Panzer attacked north together and slowly forced the 4th Indian to give up ground. It got a lot of good support from the armoured brigade and the remaining Frenchmen, but the numbers were definitely turning against it. Worst of all, the 7th Armoured division was nearly destroyed and retreated off-table, now freeing the 21st Panzer to join the fray!
It was all coming down to the supply depots in each army's rear - would the South Africans' raid blow them up first as the Italians collapsed, or would the heavy swing of the Germans land first? The Germans seemed to be doing better, as the British line weakened, the supply dumps came into range and the Panzers blew them up one after the other
Ka-Boom! "No more of ze bully beef for you tonight, Tommy!"
The South Africans similarly rampaged through the Axis rear, driving the Axis tanks back onto their last dump and forcing Rommel to rush the 21st Panzer back to try and hold them off!
Finally, neither side managed it (although the Brits did fail only because the Axis rolled a 6 on a saving throw!) Night fell on the desert, and both sides had to back off, realising they'd scored a draw - but with the Axis ahead by 1 point, thus claiming a technical win.
"Bad show, Timpkins!"