Thursday 16 August 2018

Introducing "Operation Battleaxe - A Battlegroup WWII Campaign"

The project for the rest of the year for the local Battlegroup gaming group will be a campaign centred on Operation Battleaxe, June 1941 and run by yours truly. We'll be using the Battlegroup WWII rules in 15mm and drawing forces from the BG Tobruk supplement, with a few additions and our usual house rules.

For the campaign itself I've used the map and units from the excellent Operation Battleaxe: Wavell vs. Rommel 1941 board game as a guide and, using a hard copy of that and an electronic version on VASSAL, have worked out simple campaign rules to integrate battle played out on the table top.

Introducing the commanders:

British & Commonwealth

After successfully defeating the Italian forces in North Africa, the entry of German forces to the North African conflict has seen the fortunes of British and Commonwealth forces reversed: Tobruk was surrounded and besieged. The Greek expedition, taking valuable forces from the desert that were sorely needed, ended in failure: Crete soon followed. Operation Brevity succeeded for a short time but then too failed in the face of strong German counterattacks: Halfaya Pass was lost, Tobruk remains besieged yet defiant. The fate of the North African Campaign hangs in the balance.

But all is not lost: at great risk reinforcements were dispatched from Britain through the Mediterranean to arrive in Egypt: new tanks, aircraft and equipment in numbers that will allow an advantage to be gained and a new battle to be fought. Thus was born OPERATION BATTLEAXE.

Yet machines and men are not sufficient alone, for the leadership to effectively wield these forces too must be found...a new hero rises, one who will take command of British forces, relieve Tobruk and drive the damnable Hun from the African shores once and for all.

Mike not that man. But he'll give it his best shot.

The Axis

He was a myth. A phantom. Once here, then gone; an enigma of always-moving menace. An entity with unparalleled instinct for command, said able to change the course of battle at his own whim. Elusive. Cunning. Deadly. Men speak the name in hushed whispers, barely audible over the sound of the raging sandstorm....


...but he wasn't available, so you'll have to do with Charles B instead.

Campaign Special Rules

No Air Supremacy: the British mustered slightly more aircraft for the battle than the Axis thanks to the latter being concerned with taking Tobruk and operations elsewhere in the Mediterranean. Consequently both sides gain Aircraft after drawing an Air Attack chit on a roll of 5+ during the campaign as per the rule book. If the Air Support token is present, this will succeed on a roll of 3+ instead to represent the major air effort being concentrated in that territory.

German Low Fuel Restriction: due to a lack of fuel, Rommel will not commit German armoured and mecahnised units unless he is certain that a major attack is underway. To reflect this, no German tank or mechanised chit may move on June 15, unless at least one of the following territories falls to British attack: (13) Pt. 208, (15) Fort Capuzzo, (9) Pt. 206, or (6)Halfaya Pass. German Armoured and Mechanised chits may move freely if one of these territories falls on June 15, or from June 16 onward.

German Stützpunkt: the Axis territories (13) Pt. 208, (9) Pt. 206, (6)Halfaya Pass and (22) Bardia are considered fortified positions or Stüzpunkt. Units within these territories may not voluntarily move or abandon them, they have orders to hold at all costs. However these territories will gain free fortifications for each battle until they fall, thereafter the bonus is lost even if retaken at a later stage in the campaign.

Bonus Fortifications:

Pt. 206 (& Bardia)
2x Barbed Wire sections
2x Trenches
1x Gun Pit (only if guns present)

Pt. 208
2x Barbed Wire sections
2x Trenches
2x Gun Pit (only if guns present)
Desperate Defence: +1x d6 Battle Rating

Halfaya Pass
2x Barbed Wire sections
2x Concealed minefields
2x Trenches
2x Concealed Gun Pit (only if guns present)
Desperate Defence: + 2x d6 Battle Rating

Restrictions  and New units

Some restrictions and new units may be fielded to better reflect the forces available at the start of Operation Battleaxe

1. You may not take any scout units unless you also have a Reconnaissance chit involved in the engagement. For the British, this is the 11th Hussars and Central India Horse chits, for the Germans, the 3. and 33. Aüfklärungs Abteilung chits.

2. Panzer restrictions - A German force must include fewer up-armoured Panzer III H or J and Panzer IV E than base models (Panzer III G and Panzer IV D respectively).

3. The British may not field any Crusader IIs, Valentine IIs, M3 'Honey' Stuarts, Humber Armoured Cars, Vickers Mk VI C (with 15mm HMG), nor any captured tanks.

4. The British may not field Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) units.

5. The Germans may not field any captured tanks. Max 1x Panzer IV Platoon in any army.

Unit and Equipment Guide

12th KRR and 2 RB - Motor Infantry Battalions, may field: Motor Infantry Platoons, Carrier Sections, 2-pounder and Bofors Portees, 3" Mortars, Breda AA Portee.

1-3/11 and 22 Guards - Rifle Battalions, may field: Rifle Platoons, Carrier Sections, 2-pounder and Bofors Portees, 3" Mortars, Breda AA Portee.

2 RTR - mixed Cruisers, A9, A10 and A13 only: may take max. 1x Troop Vickers Mk IV b
6 RTR - Crusader Mk Is only, may take max. 1x Troop Vickers Mk IV b

4 RTR - Matilda IIs only, may take max. 1x Troop Vickers Mk IV b
7 RTR - Matilda IIs only, may take max. 1x Troop Vickers Mk IV b
4 RTR & 7 RTR - may upgrade Forward HQ to a Matilda II for + 20pts

11th Hussars and CIH (Central India Horse) - predominantly Marmon-Herringtons.

British AT units (12th and 65th) - 2-pounders, Portees, single 18/25-pdr or 25-pdr guns.

German FlaK and AT  units:

1/33A FLAK - 8.8cm guns and 5cm PaK38s
1/33B FLAK - 8.8cm guns and 5cm PaK38s
1/33C FLAK - 8.8cm guns
33. AT - 3.7cm PaK 36s and 5cm PaK 38s

Additionally, any of the above may field a Panzerjäger battery equipped with a pair of PaK36 anti-tank guns instead of a battery equipped with 5cm PaK38s anti-tank guns:

Light Panzerjäger Battery. . . . . . . . . . . . 40 pts 4-v BR  (Restricted)

Unit Composition: 2x 3.7cm PaK36 guns with 3 crew each

Add 3 man loader team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +10 pts each
Medium Truck tow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +4 pts each
Sd Kfz 10 tow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +6 pts each


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