DB109 - LZ S, Part 2 of the Operation Varsity Trilogy

mallexen

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OlFezz and I continued our tour of Operation Varsity with DB109, LZ S, from
Dispatches from the Bunker, #37. 15.5 American 667s land via glider, bringing
along 2 AAMG Jeeps, 2 81 MTRs, 2 75 ARTs, plus some MMGs, BAZ, smaller MTRs,
and a RCL. They have some random smoke for cover for the initial landings.
They have 7 turns to eliminate/capture/occupy 4 Germ ART pieces (3 x 105 +
1 x 150), which are setup on-board, in trenches, and within 5 hexes of another
gun. 7 squads with an HMG and 2 x 20L AA guns (which can HIP) help protect
them. The VC twist is that the Americans not only have to take the guns, they
must inflict more CVP than the Germans, as well. Similar to Thunder from Heaven,
the Germans get two sets of random reinforcements, approx a platoon each with
vehicles, in Turns 2 and 4. These enter on a random road entry on the north,
east, or south edges.
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mallexen

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The Germans have to setup within 10 hexes of 1aA10. We know the Allies will
be looking for clear glider approaches towards the northeast. And of course
the ART guns need to setup within 5 hexes of another ART gun. I settle on
a gun/trench line on the board 1A central orchard. 105s in J13, G11, and G8,
the 150 to the north in K5. My thinking is that the gliders will not land
behind that line in the town or orchard. If the gliders land to the west,
the guns have open ground to mow them down. 4 of the 6 German reinforcement
random entry hexes are behind this defense line. This line is vulnerable
to the north and south of the town, so I set up the HIP AA guns in G4 and
K14 to protect the flanks (knowing that K14 is not concealment terrain and
will lose HIP with enemy LOS). The pillbox and HMG are in H12 (with a trench),
Trenches and foxholes setup along the west edge of the orchards, allowing
for easy repositioning of the squads, as needed. I did give some consideration
to dummy guns, as I have 10 ?s. I figure I would have to use 9 of them to
make the dummies look credible, and since they would have to setup in concealment
terrain, and would look suspicious if they didn't immediately open up, I did
not think the dummy guns worth it. See Carl Nogueira's LZ S defense in the
latest Dispatches (#48) for an alternate theory of defense.

OlFezz's gliders mostly had ILHs on boards 43 & 44. Several had ILHs south of
the board 1A town. In DFirstFire, the HMG destroyed one glider. The southern
AA Gun forced 2 gliders to evade, one of which crashed in a trench One of the
105s destroyed another glider on the ground. One of the 105s malf'd attempting
to hit a glider. The Germs did have a gun crew broken by the sniper. I thought
there was a rule about no snipers with only gliders aboard, but could not find
it in the heat of battle. Later research did find that rule - in the paradrop
section. Chalk up another reason to dislike Chapter E.....

As a side note, we spaced and forgot the random smoke placement. We did remember
after Turn 2, and the randomness was so bad for the Amis that it did not really
matter for their assault.

As the Amis tried to organize and assault the gun line, the 105s were deadly at
long range. Killing another glider (with a Jeep aboard), keeping the Ami 75 crews
broken and under duress, and picking off squads trying to get into 6 hex firing
range. The 150 in the north had a sterling record of hitting and KIAing squads.
And the AA gun and Germ light MTR in the south kept the platoon or so of Amis pinned
down away from the town.

On Germ Turn 2, they got reinforcement group 6 (SdKz 10/5 from Valor of the Guards,
447, 436, 8-0, LMG) on 44I10. Behind the Ami northern glider landings. I handled
them very cautiously, given the weakness of that force plus the location, they were
just CVP that I could lose.

We completed 3 turns in our first evening of play. To be honest, it looked like a
wipe-out for the Americans. They weren't close to any of the ART pieces, and were
behind about 15-20 CVP to 0. That is correct, no German losses. I know the Germ
defense is brittle, and that the key for the Americans is to pry an opening in the
defense, and the Germs have limited rout/rally opportunities. But with about equal
squad equivalents on each side, and a big CVP edge, I tried to convince OlFezz that
the game was lost, and we should play something else next time. But anyone who
knows OlFezz knows that he never finds a cause lost...
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mallexen

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So with that obvious foreshadowing, fortunes started to change in Turn 4. The malf'd
105 X'd on a repair. Yes, I know, if I kept the gun malf'd the Americans would still
have to occupy the hex. I got both cocky and greedy, wanting that 105 to finally quell
the threat to the south of town. The Germ Turn 4 reinforcements were Group 2 (2 HTs,
2 468s, 9-2!, LMG), and entered on 1aA20. There was an Ami light mortar in 1aP14, so
I considered a very cautious round-about entry path for the HTs. But I wanted those
HTs into town and unloading in Turn 4. Small moving target, some glider hindrances,
needs a 3 or 4 to hit, then a 5 or less on the IFT, I feel confident about getting
through. The first HT got through, but the mortar maintained rate. And maintained
rate. And finally hit and killed the HT with the 9-2. 10 CVPs down.

Elsewhere the heavier Ami FP, including a heavy mortar that just wouldn't miss, started
inflicting some results. Broken Germs generally were out of the battle. The southern
Amis were bolstered by a couple 447s (glider pilots trained to fight, by SSR), and took
most of the town behind the gun line. The Germ defense started to look like the mirror
image of the Union line at Gettysburg, a fish-hook. The screening squad for the 150
broke, and the northern edge of the Germ trench line broke up, including a 105 gun crew.
But all this took a little time, and while the Germ defense was whittling down, the
Amis were still physically far from the remaining 3 gun hexes.

The final turn charge did capture and destroy another 105. The 150 crew was broken, as
was the northern 20 AA gun crew, but the 150 hex was not reached by American infantry.
2.5 Germ squads were captured, which swings 10 CVPs towards the Americans. The final
CVP were 27 lost by the Americans but 24 + 10 prisoners lost by the Germans, so the
Americans did succeed in inflicting more CVP. But the Amis could not reach or destroy
2 of the ARTs.

So what looked like a rout turned into a pretty competitive battle. I'm glad we played
it out.

The last entry in Pooch's Operation Varsity Trilogy was released recently in Dispatches #48.
Also in that magazine is a detailed article by Carl Nogueira on gliders, using LZ S as an
example of conducting a glider landing.

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