So another eventful Monday evening down at the Tudor Arms, Slimbridge.
Gordon, Rodger & Mike were the illustrious Communist Brothers - with a force that appeared to consist almost entirely of on table T55s (with a "surprise" aspect to them) and Recon + Command (CO, 2 x HQs + FAOs + an FAC) and some off-table assets in the shape of MRLs & conventional SP artillery & some air support of some sort (not that it turned up).
The combined NATO force was led by the Belgians (Alan & Shaun) with a combined British BAOR force (commanded by Graham). I acted as unofficial UN observer (as I was needing to get off early ... although as it happened I could have played & still left early!).
The Belgians consisted of a squadron of Leopard 1s + some YPR-765 mtd armoured infantry with upgrades (and assorted 3 x Recon, 1 x FAC + FAO & Command - a CO + 2 HQs). The Brits had spent a lot of points on Challengers (+ a tracked Rapier unit + a Swingfire ATGW asset) & also some APCs with an infantry group in them. But Graham was mostly after some "tank-on-tank" action, and as we'll see, he certainly got that!
The game was set somewhere on the Franco-German border - with the French having unkindly built a small nuclear power facility within sight of the border (not very neighbourly). The terrain consisted of a built up area, a scattering of hills & woods - all connected with a road network with a few high hedges along some of its length. So there were enough high-area terrain pieces to provide cover but also some nice clear open spaces to tempt the unwary.
This was an Encounter scenario game, with both sides using mobile deployment & NATO won the initiative & so moved first. In fact the NATO first set of moves set the tone for the rest of the game, in that it was characterized by Graham & Shaun both throwing a Double 1 initiative dice and rapidly deploying their tanks forces to the left flank & center. Shaun very wisely put his Leopards into cover behind a hill, and screened from the Soviets by a small town (BAU). Graham however took a more forthright approach (trusting in the defensive value of his Chobham armor) & deployed out in the open near a wood. The rest of the Belgians (under their CO - Alan) deployed to the right flank to take advantage of the terrain.
|NATO deploys (note the Nuclear Power plant top centre - very futuristic for 1985, but then EDF alway do their best work in France!) The Belgians & British light armour is deployed on the left with Leopards & Challengers to the right
|The Belgian CO looks on as the British APCs, tracked Rapier & Swingfire advance
|That Double 1 on Initiative helps the Leopards advance at high speed (the full extent of the move visible from the right-hand lead tank)
|The right flank Russian T55's boldly advance
|The Challengers take the full brunt of the T55 ATGW salvo "OUCH!"
As Graham's command was now split up, his remaining armour - the Rapier AA, & APCs and Swingfire managed a short hop towards some terrain but soon ground to a halt. In the centre - Shaun's Leopards threw another double 1 and moved up onto the ridge line of the hill to further pick on the right flank T55's. More suppression & casualties ensued. The Belgian CO slowly moved his IFVs into a position to deposite his infantry in the terrain.
|Assorted Soviet command - that's an HQ, a Recce (left) and an FOA (right) by the looks of it
|The 'plucky' Belgian Leopards take up a defensive position covering the town. Who knows what nasty trickziz them Ruskys might have hidden in there?
|More ATGW & main gun damage on the Challengers (shakey fly-by recon shot as the Russians had air superiority that move - believe it or not!)
|The left flank T55 squadron moving cautiously forward - very well drilled I thought. Just a shame that the Belgian FAC was nowhere in line of sight
|The British light armour makes a dash for the hedges (slightly cramped in - "shuffle-up chaps" - with the Belgian CO watching to their left, with raised eyebrows (& hoping no Russian spotters were near)
Add to that the reapeated fire from the Leopards on the hill (Shauns MTB crews had their shooting 'eyes' in alright) and a long-distance Swingfire ATGW attack & Rodger was down to a single T55 (and was calling for a withdrawal). This time Mike moved rapidly forward - well he managed 2 moves in his bound (I think), but by now all the NATO infantry (Brits & Belgians) were dismounted & dug-in in the terrain and the game was conceeded by the Russians.
|Leopards on the hill open fire on Rodger's defiant T55's - the gun recoil makes the photo a bit blurred ;-)
|The T55's take more damage (ever felt 'picked upon' Rodger?)
|The Belgian YPR-765s dismount their infantry & support into a BAU
|British Infantry advance to occupy the church on the hill
|The left flank T55's fan-out & continue their cautious advance
But a neat refresher for us all ... and it only goes to show that sometimes all that off-table stuff works & some times it don't! Also just as putting faith in your armour is a fine plan but not against ATGW.
The Anglo-Belgians were very lucky with Command roles - at least 3 (if not 4) double 1's made a huge difference to their effectiveness & allowed them to grab the terrain advantage early on, and deliver some very powerful multiple shooting rounds.
|The traditional post game 'recrimination' phase .... just joking! But it shows the cautious T55 advance on the left, the Leoprads on the hill in the centre distance & the Belgian CO + FAC spotter on the hill near the church.
PS: if you spot what appears to be very large helicopter in any of the shots - is probably a Belgium Alouette III spotter (FAC) flying up high near the passing Dassault Mirage 5BD BD09 trainer (only delivered to the Royal Belgian Airforce in July'85 - hence the rather blurred photos) as it flew over the battle taking these recon photos (well that is what the Belgian CO told me to say anyway).