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France '40 Games

Mark Hayes ran two France '40 games using our early-war supplement cards (and yes, folks, we are on schedule for a Historicon/Summer 2002 release).
The scenario involved the attempt by elements of the 4th Panzer Division to pierce the defensive screen of the French 3nd DCR at Hannut, Belgium. The German forces were an understrength Panzer battalion supported by a motorcycle company, and battery of 105s, and flights of Stukas. The French defended with a squadron of motorized dragoons, a squadron of H39s, a squadron of S35s, and a battalion of 75mm guns.
Both games were competitive, with the Germans squeesing out a win the first night and an "issue in doubt" result the second night. Mark was happy with the ratings and artillery rules for the French. In this game the French were considered to have no fire plan in place so they were limited to battalion shelling missions. Mark allowed them to fire their entire battalion as one pattern.
This period is extremely interesting because of the differences in ranges and effectiveness from the late war period. Very few weapons are effective beyond 20", and the "tank fright" modifier makes Close Combat of AFVs vs infantry much less chancy than in the later war period. At the same time, many of the AFVs are lightly armed "tin cans". The emphasis will be on maneuver rather than long-range firepower. Also, you will be able to see why units like the 88mm AA/AT gun, the T-34 and KV-I, and the heavily armored Matilda, had such a surprising impact on the early battlefields.

Game 1

The first game developed with a German holding action in the center and left and an armored sweep to the right.
Click on the Thumbnail for a full-size photo Description
The Battlefield
The Battlefield
The Battlefield as seen from the German entry point. The French will set up in the town in the center, with reinforcements coming up the road in the rear.
Germans arrive
Germans arrive
The German tanks and motorcycle troops enter the board.
German Motorcyle troops
German Motorcyle troops
The German motorcycle troops move up to a hedgerow. Unfortunately, they found that their deployement area was almost the exact size of the French shelling pattern and were harrassed by shelling for several turns.
French defenders await
French defenders await
The French right flank was held by the H39 squadrons, who await the German advance in hull-down positions at the top of the hill.
Stukas attack
Stukas attack
The Germans had potential air support throughout the game. Here the Stukas attack the reinforcing column of S35 tanks. They were allowed to engage any targets in the open or units in covered terrain when called by an observer.
Stukas Score
Stukas Score
The first kill of the game is scored by an air attack.
Panzers Left
Panzers Left
The Germans send one of their light tank squadrons forward on the left flank. This was supposed to be a holding action, but turned into an attack.
S35 in Support
S35 in Support
The French player sent all of the S35s to this flank to stop the advance on his right.
All quiet on the left
All quiet on the left
At this point the French left flank seems quiet-but soon the Germans will make their main push here
Defenders in the Town
Defenders in the Town
In the center, the anti-tank gun with infantry support skirmished with the Germans.
Right Flank Attack
Right Flank Attack
The German starts his right flank Panzer attack.
Push in the Center
Push in the Center
Supported by tanks, the Germans clear the edge of the town.
Left Flank Threatens
Left Flank Threatens
The left flank push by the Germans drives off the defending infantry.
Push on Right
Push on Right
Despite light tank losses, the German medium and heavy tanks on the right decisively engage the H39 squadron. With the infantry in the town, this was enough to give the Germans the edge.

Game 2

This game developed differently. The Germans moved straight into combat in the town and took fairly heavy infantry losses. A mistaken air attack made things look grim. But then "Fortune favored the Bold"...
Click on the Thumbnail for a full-size photo Description
Reinforcing Column
Reinforcing Column
A view of the S35s as they start the game in the rear.
Germans Deploy
Germans Deploy
The German tanks and motorcycle troops enter the board.
Fighting for the town
Fighting for the town
The German motorcycle troops moved up immediately to the attack. They took fairly heavy losses from artillery and defensive fire. We pulled the village buildings to help resolve the combat.
German Armor moves up
German Armor moves up
The German Armor moved up to support the central thrust
German Attack
German Attack
A more general view of the German forces.
German Attack
German Attack Redux
Another angle.
Sorry 'bout that
Sorry 'bout that
The call-for-fire roll for the Stuka allowed the French player to choose the target. Hint-the bombs were NOT dropped on the French tanks
The critical moment
The critical moment
The anti-tank gun defending the edge of the town was defeated by a close-combat from two light tanks. At this point, the French heavy tanks entered the fray and things were not looking good for the German attack.
Iron Cross First Class
Iron Cross First Class
The commander of the Panzer II realized that he could not beat the S35 in a gun dual, and pulling back would give it a free shot. So he charged into close-combat!! Despite a major disadvantage in die roll modifier, the German tank destroyed the S35!!
Bug-Out
Bug-out
At this juncture, the French infantry Maneuver element in the town rolled a 1 on the Maneuver chart. With German armor in their midst, most of them panicked and headed for the rear. The Germans had taken heavy infantry losses, but held the town with the surprising tank attack.

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