Sunday, October 9, 2011

Drive to Prokhorovka : Kursk Project Part 1

 Well, we've embarked on a project to recreate the 1st SS Panzer Grenadier Division Liebstandarte's(LAH) drive on Prokhorovka during the Kursk operation.  The scenario starts on the afternoon of 10 July 1943 and ends on the afternoon of 15 July 1943.  I'm going to document our progress through this project to give gamers an idea of how you can make a game from a idea or concept you get from that latest book you read.  Most of the operational details for this scenario come from the excellent Kursk book by David Glantz:

We're using the Field of Battle: WW2 rules to play out this large operational battle. The units in this scenario are 2 stand companies.  Companies are eliminated once they suffer 3 hits(stands).  Each day has 3 turns: AM, PM, and Night.  The map is shown below.

We're using 10mm miniatures.  The German infantry are Pendraken.  The Soviets will be Pithead Miniatures because they mix very well with the Can-Do pre-painted 1/144 plastic armor.  I purchased 48 Can-Do T-34's at Historicon so that did a lot to get this project going.  No one was looking forward to painting 48 T-34's.

This end of the table is the deployment zone for the Germans.  At the far end of the table is the city of Prokhorovka, 4 town sections.  If the German players have not captured all 4 town sections by the end of the game, they lose.  The starting German troops deployed on the table are the 1st SS PzGr Regiment, Recon Bn (not deployed) and the 1st SS Panzer Regiment.  On the morning turn of 11 July 1943 (Turn 3), the remaining troops of the 1st SS PzGR Division deploy:  2nd SS PzGr Regiment and the 1st SS Assault Gun Battalion.

 It might look hopeless for the Soviets, but the Soviets have more forces deployed across the middle of the board that are aren't placed on the table.  The 9th Guard Airborne Division is positioned in defensive belts in the middle of the table:  27 infantry companies, a tank brigade, another AT artillery regiment, and a KV-1 tank regiment.

On the Night turn of July 11 (Turn 5), the Soviets also bring on the 29th Tank Corps to counter-attack the Germans:  18 T-34 companies, 9 infantry companies, 4 assault gun companies, and a Guards Tank regiment.  Those reinforcements are sure to make the 12 July Day turns a lot of fun for the 1st SS PzGR commanders!

Basically, the Germans have to grind their way to Prokhorovka and attempt to get there without suffering devastating losses.  The LAH Division has a finite number of morale points and every time it loses a stand, it loses a morale point.  While stands can be rallied and tanks can be repaired, the effect of those losses on the Germans is permanent.  Once the Germans reach zero morale points, the division begins to check morale and once it fails, the operation is called off.

The Soviets, on the other hand, calculate morale points and check morale by brigade.  Once a brigade fails a morale check, it is removed from the table, but reinforcements enter the game fresh and eager for their chance to drive back the Germans.

Another rule we plan on using for the scenario reflects the fact that SS Totenkopf and Das Reich fought on either side of the LAH, but they had a terrible time making headway and the LAH Division was constantly worrying about its flanks.  We plan to use markers on each long board edge, Totenkopf for the north side and DR for the south side.  We'll roll a D6 at the end of each turn and if they roll a "6", the marker advances 1 foot reflecting the advance of the flanking forces (+1 next time if you fail, cumulative).  The Soviets can always spend 2 asset points on a Move card to bring on 1 reinforcing brigade on a flank on the next Move card, but it can never be behind the flanking markers.  The Soviet player has to announce he is doing this since the Germans usually saw the Soviets coming and get some advance warning.

This forces the Germans to keep some of their forces behind the main lines to foil these flanking attacks and the German player will curse the other divisions for not keeping up.  Historically the recon battalion and even the artillery park were diverted to drive off these flanking attacks.

 Below is a photograph of Hill 241.6 This is the first objective for the Germans.  It is defended by 2 Soviet AT artillery regiments (2 AT bunker companies each) and a Soviet Motorized Rifle Brigade (MRB) waiting patiently behind the hill.  The German armored companies start the game having suffered heavy casualties fighting though the Soviet defensive belts.  All 8 Pz IV companies have a 1 stand loss and the Tiger company has suffered 2 stands lost.  The Germans need to seize this high ground early to give them a sheltered area behind it where they can refit and repair their battered armor units.  The hill is a Turn 1 objective.  Take it before nightfall.  I scratch-built the bunkers out of Sculpey, wire, and toothpicks.

 Below are the starting German forces.  The tanks are a hodge-podge of armor only because I haven't finished painting the Pithead Panzer IV's that were delivered.  During the play-testing, I'll slowly replace them with the finished miniatures.
Below is  Prokhorovka, the ultimate objective.  As the project progresses, I'm going to paint and add more Russian buildings to fill out the town areas.  I use 6mm buildings for the terrain.  I think the 6mm terrain scales better than if we used larger 10mm terrain that matched the miniatures.
 Below is a close-up of some of the Germans.  Pendraken infantry with plastic Can-Do tanks.

Below is the Pithead infantry and Panzer IV's.  The tanks are equipped with antennas (plastic broom stands) and sideskirts.
 Below is a Panzer IV in progress.  Just testing out the paint scheme.  You know, it's always funny how the digital camera shots with flash bring out the flaws in my painting.  Looking at the pics, I notice small areas that need paint, but none of them are visible to the naked eye.  Interesting.  And annoying.  More to come!


  1. Great post love to hear about FobBWW2 in action. Those Can-do tanks are a real find being pre-painted !

  2. Steiner, way to respond so quickly! Yeah, the Can-Do tanks are great and they are a perfect match with the Pithead stuff. Finding the T-34's at Historicon was a real steal since I knew they were gone from the internet market. They sell on Ebay for $7-$8 each. I just wish I bought more of the 1943 PzIV's but one can never know when a project will capture the imagination!


  3. Good post and an interesting scenario; not my period, but I'd play a Russian commander (command taken over by incompetent Komisar due to lack of political fervor on the part of original commander).


  4. Great looking game. Very nice photos and report.