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You Command: Taking Down the Airfield

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  • You Command: Taking Down the Airfield

    This article (by Doug Henry) asks you to determine the best course of action to defend the Sidi Rezegh airfield against the onrushing British tanks. Share your thoughts here and see if you can come up with the best plan of defense.

    Please note that despite what it says on the mail-in card, you are allowed to use the entire back page of the mailer to describe your plan. You just can't use more paper! :P
    Our forefathers died to give us freedom, not free stuff.

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  • #2
    Panzer Batallion Only?

    So am I to understand that there will be no infantry support at all? Is my Batallion made up of Pzkpfw IIIJs and Ls? At least a couple of platoons of panzergrenadiers mounted on SPWs would be nice. And I know this would be out of the realm of possibility with the short time to prepare, assault the airfield, then set up a defense, but a battery of 8.8cm Flak/Pak 41 would really be unfair to those poor Brits.
    First of all, split the 40 panzers into 3 coys. The 1st with 14 (also containing the Major's Befels Zug), 2./coy: part of 1 platoon in hull down positions to engage Brits at 500m. The rest of 2./coy would be on the reverse side of the slope slightly further east to attack the British flank at the appropriate time. 3./coy would set up a platoon to the northeast of the airfield to do the same and also protect the Sollum-El Adem road and against a British outflanking movement. 1./coy would only engage at range with move and fire tactics head on. 2./ and 3./ coys would envelop the typically tentative British in classic pincer movement, encicle and destroy them. Anyone else agree, or is this splitting up the batallion too much? My opinion is that an aggressive, even though, somewhat split up German smaller force would succeed against a tentative, less motivated, and lesser trained force. Anyone else want to share ideas? Frankly, I think an aggressive, hard hitting atack would be the best defense of the airfield.
    Tycoon1969 a.k.a, Aaron


    • #3
      Defending the Airfield

      From what I've read you have zero(0) support, not even a platoon of 88's. The only real advantage that you have is that your tanks out range the Brits by 500 yds and they have to funnel through a constricted space to get to you. So assuming that the no support includes no mines to lay, your option is singular.

      You have a total of 40 PzIII's, you ar out numbered at least 3-1, that would give the Brits a fairly large numerical superiority of maybe 120 tanks. Take a page from history, use the attack formation of the Zulu only use it for defense.

      Split your command into two(2)Combat Commands, A and B, with 'A' being the largest. CCA should be online in camofloged positions, at least 25 III's. CCB should be on the southern flank hidden from the enemy, at 450 - 475 yds. CCA should open fire.

      If the brits press the attack CCB should hit their(Brits) flank and rear with your remaining armor only once they(Brits) have closed to about 150 - 200 yds. With German armor in the british rear taking the airfield is no longer viable.

      Once the Brits falter and begin to withdraw, CCA (minus one platoon) should counter-attack. This will possibly result in total confusion for the Brits and an overwhellming victory for the Afrika Corps.

      Someone let me know what you think.


      • #4

        I like both of your ideas, and came up with similar solutions. One of my ideas involved the placement of two units of 15 IIIs defending the airfield, hull down. These units will engage the Brits at optimum range. This force should be enough to convince the Brits they are facing the entire strength of defenders.

        The remaining 10 IIIs I figured to place in one of two locations. Off to the south, out of sight on the cliff is one place. Spotters could be placed to report contact with the Brits, not that the smoke rising from the first tanks hit in those 500m the Panzers own them wouldn't clue them in. This unit would then engage in a flanking maneuver. This should be enough to at least startle the Brits. The units defending the airfield had been ordered to fire and withdraw, keeping the Brits out of range for at least a few more rounds. Drawing the Brits in, their flank exposed and under attack, the two larger units could then begin to move and fire picking apart resistance. I would optimistically hope for 30-50% attrition for the Brits before they even got the PzIIIs into range.

        The second option was to see if Hill 175 could be used to screen the same 10 tank force. If so, these tanks could hit the enemy rear when they are engaged with the holding force, and open fire at 1200-1300m. This would hopefully cause tons o' confusion and lead to a stellar victory.

        Of course all of this goes against the maxim of "never splitting your forces in the face of a numerically superior enemy"... but not like the best ever paid attention to that. :thumb:


        • #5

          Would we be able to lay down some mines? Since the Brits were about two hours away, one hour is spent seizing the airfield, the other waiting for the British. While we wait for the British could we set up some mine fields or phony defenses, etc?


          • #6
            short, as opposed to long 50

            I am pretty sure that in NOVEMBER of 1941 that Afrika Korps could not field a battalion of Js and Ls as they came out later (Js in Dec 41, and Ls in June 42) .
            I dont know for sure (just looking at books I have here, so please correct if I am wrong) but I think that the short 50 did not outrange the 37mm by 500m


            • #7
              Remember you must use what you have, I'd love to have 88's or some pak 50's, infantry with out at weapons would be useless in this situation, artillery would be nice for some smoke rounds, but come on, lay enough at mines in an hour, with no engineers, and I don't know for sure but does a panzer battalion carry at mines. of couse anti personel mines would be useless.
              I sent in a plan with what i had, its rough and ready but hopefully you'll like it, the odds are a bit daunting but the barrel length in the picture suggests pz3 j's which means stuarts are completely outclassed.


              • #8
                Well, let's see the situation:

                The Brits have only two ways to get to the airfield

                1- To go down the cliffs in a single line of tanks and then swing west toward the airfield

                2- Take advantage of the Stuart's max speed of 36mph and the El Adem-Sollum road and be at Abiar El Amar in less than 20 minutes. Then swing SE toward the airfield

                I think there is a great possibility that the Brits will use both aproaches.

                I would split my forces in 3 sections of equal size (A, B, and C).
                I would position section A toward the NE of the airfield at a little more than a mile from the cliffs (1,500 meters) and wait for the Stuarts to appear. Since they're comming in a single line, they will not be able to establish a good defense against my Mk III's

                I would position section B on the airfield and section C would be SW of the airfield, separation between B and C no more than 1,500 meters apart. And wait for the Brits to appear from the west. The first contact must be done by section B at less than 1,500 meters, and then let section C open fire on their right flank, taking the Brits by surprise!!!!

                If the Brits don't attack from the West and they used all their forces to attack from the east, then section C can move toward the East, position themselves SE of the airfield and apply the same technique.


                • #9
                  Are we to assume that the Brits are following the path indicated on the map or can they attack from a differant route?


                  • #10
                    tycoon1969, What makes you think that the Brits won't attack from the west? They have the road, and the Stuart is faster than the MkIII, they can be at Abiar El Amar in less than 20 minutes!!!... You gonna be able to take the decoy force comming from the cliffs but... what about the 100 tanks comming on your way from the West??

                    P-51, what if the Brits are comming from both direccions West and East?? one a little to the south and the other a little to the north away from the range of the MkIII's


                    • #11
                      CPGOR, war is a nasty biz, and the battlefield is foggy, confusing, full of unknowns. Yes, they will attack from the west, if I was the commander of that British force, I'd never allow 140 tanks to go single line in a cliff!!!!!

                      Always have a backup plan, because your main plan will fail


                      • #12
                        I already mailed in a plan, I thought arrows on a map ment movement. So according to the map, the Brits are executing a frontal attack with their entire force.
                        I planned accordingly. Hope I'm correct.


                        • #13
                          Defense of the Airfield

                          These are all good plans but some seem a little to elaborate with a 1 hour deadline for defense. I like Tycoon and Seabees aproach to it and I would rather lose a part of my force instead of all of it, the flanking force can cover if things go wrong.


                          • #14
                            The plan I chose was basically this:

                            lets say my pz co's are #1-3 from north to south.

                            Before the brits arrive 3rd co. moves south about 3 klicks to avoid detection, the angle from the slope should hide them.
                            1st and 2nd co. hold starting postion until brits within 1200 meters, then open fire. co. 1 withdraws down slope towards sea,
                            hopefully the Bits will take the bait and continue for the airfield since it is thier objective.
                            As 1st co begins its withdrawell 3rd co advances to cot of the Brit line of retreat. As this movement is confirmed 2nd co starts a fire and movement withdrawell to the west.
                            When this is confirmed, first co. will come back up the hill flanking the brit force.
                            The effect I am trying for is to generate panic by building hope then smashing it with a fealing of no escape, it will also give all angle shot on the enemy, hitting their weakest armor no matter which way they turn.
                            I forgot as 1st co crest the slope on its return 2nd co will also begin to advance as well.

                            What do you think, a little complicated but I have radios, think it might work?


                            • #15
                              Anyone read about the actual airfield at El Amin?

                              I just got the magazine so forgive me if this is late.... but has anyone read about the actual battle? the Brits had forces to the south Rommel didnt know about which the tank companies were attempting to group with.

                              Just a note on history when considering the "Fog of War" element of the game.

                              As a point of interest on the mechanical side of things (I am more a history buff) were the panzers capable of mobile fire? or were they like most tanks of the era and required to be stationary to fire accurately? This is critical to my solution.


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