Hell's Highway Playtest

George Kelln

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HH6.2 Cuttings Hell’s Highway vs. Ernie Cameron

Turn 1 -
British 123rd AAA Regiment, stops for tea in the quiet town of Mariaheide Holland, along Hell’s Highway, miles from the front line. What could go wrong? Suddenly the rumbling of tanks can be heard from the north; not long after, German Panther tanks and halftracks laden with Panzergrenadiers roar into the village. The American paratrooper patrol that just passed through the village on its way back south to Veghel stops and hurries back to the British gunners. Alerted by sentries in the church tower in Veghel, two truckloads of paratroopers race northwards from Veghel, disgorging their passengers in the village, before turning tail and racing back to safety.

Turn 2 - The German northern force moved into the village, a pair of Panther tanks and an Assault Engineer squad mounted in a halftrack maneuvered around the western flank and set up near the railroad crossing. Meanwhile the bulk of the northern force moved down the railroad and the main road to positions in the orchard and northern buildings in the village.

British Bofors AA guns began engaging whatever Germans came into view; however, the wily tank commanders knew not to get too close lest fall victim to a broken track from a 40mm shell. Instead, the tanks lobbed shells and fired machineguns at the Brit gunners from well back.

The recently arrived platoon of American paratroopers moved into positions in the church and convent, while the other platoon moved into position in the woods on the eastern flank. The attach British OP Carrier moved into position to call in fire on the eastern flank but soon came under inaccurate 81mm mortar fire.

More German panzergrenadiers mounted in halftracks appeared from the east and raced forward dropping their passengers short of the village. Meanwhile support halftracks (SPW 251/2, 251/9, & 251/21) moved to provide flank support.

One troop of 2x British Sherman tanks and a Firefly maneuvered to cover the flanks and prevent the Germans from getting behind the American Paratroopers in the village. While the second troop moved to the western side of the village.

A pair of SPW 251/21 AA halftracks got tangled up with a British Sherman and a Firefly. In what looked to be a one-sided fight favouring the British, suddenly had the tables turned on the Brits. In the first duel, the SPW 251/21 immobilized the Sherman, and in the second duel the SPW 251/21 first immobilized the Firefly and then scored a Critical Hit and Shocked the crew. Things weren’t looking good for the Brits.

Turn 3 - The battle around the church and the convent intensified, the Germans continued to press southward linking with the eastern force. German Panther tanks closed into the village providing fire support for the panzergrenadiers and engineers – forcing the Americans out of the convent.

On the eastern flank, the Germans continued to press forward towards the village. Getting bold and maneuvering a trio of SPW 251/21 AA halftracks to the rear of the immobilized Sherman and the Shocked Firefly. But the first two-gun crews were too excited and fired wildly missing both tanks. The third halftrack’s crew was surprised by a concealed paratrooper squad behind a hedge (14+2) = 3MC. The Crew failed and was Stunned with the halftrack rolling to a stop. It was then destroyed by a Bazooka shot.

In the north, the pesky gun crew manhandled their Bofors into an orchard, only to later have it overrun by halftrack. The valiant gun crew continues to hold out, battling the halftrack while dodging fire from three sides.

The British OP Carrier, having extracted itself from its sticky situation with a German SPW 251/2 Mortar halftrack ranging in on it. The OP Carrier raced around to the western flank in the hopes to get into position and to establish radio contact with its battery.

On the eastern flank, the lone Good Order Sherman spun its turret about to engage the SPW 251/21 behind the (UK) Firefly, dispatching it in short order. The gunner of the immobilized Sherman in the south took his time and lined up the Adjacent SPW 251/21, before sending a 75mm AP round straight through it and brewing it up. The Firefly failed to recover from UK and was destroyed.

The other troop of Sherman tanks was much more successful. The lead tank raced forward and got behind a Panther, firing quickly in Bounding Fire, it struck the Panther in the rear of its hull destroying it. The second Sherman followed suit engaging the Panther on the other side of the ploughed field; missing it, it quickly repositioned itself to cover the centre crossroad. The third tank – a Firefly moved forward and despite the Panther turning its turret to face the Firefly, the Brit gunner managed to shoot a 76mm AP round straight through gunsight, igniting the ammunition in the turret, and destroying the tank.

The battle has ebb and flowed with both sides surging forward with the arrival of reinforcements.

More to follow on Friday morning.

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George Kelln

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HH6.2 Cutting Hell's Highway vs. Ernie Cameron

Turn 5
On the west side of the village, a German Engineer squad captured the Bofors crew, but came under British 5.5” (140mm) artillery fire, breaking the leader and forcing him to rout back into the safety of a building. Using the smoke from the burning Panther, a Sturm-Squad advanced to hedge, threatening the American paratrooper squad. Meanwhile, the Flak Pz IV was pumping an inaccurate stream of 37mm AP rounds at the British OP Carrier trying to knock it out and end the rain of shells.

The British Sherman tank, wary of the FlakPz IV manoeuvred south into the ploughed fields, providing flank support to the American paratroopers fighting on the edge of the village.

Centred along Hell's Highway, the main thrust of the German northern force had cleared out the church, but came under heavy fire when it attempted to push south into the graveyard. Now Leutnant Schultz was forced to regroup and rally his forces in the church. Last remaining Panther of the north force manoeuvred around the buildings lining the east side of the main road, linking up with the units of the eastern force, to apply pressure on the paratrooper defending the crossroad next to the café.

The American paratroopers under the command of the newly promoted 10-2 Major Summers, and supported by a British Sherman tank, held out in the buildings to the west of the graveyard. While along the main road south of the graveyard, paratroopers held out in the café, inspired by bazooka-toting and heroic Private Jones.

On the east side, the last of the German reinforcements had arrived – a platoon of Assault Engineers mounted halftracks and supported a pair of Flamme halftrack and a pair of Panther tanks. This force sped westward towards the sound of battle; while the engineers dismounted a short distance east of the café crossroads, the Flamme halftracks dealt with the knot of paratroopers in the woods near the crossroad. Meanwhile the pair of Panthers tanks raced around the left flank and took up positions to the south of the village, cutting off any Allied reinforcements moving up Hell’s Highway.
The American paratroopers were forced out of the woods and pushed back to the building at the south end of the village, where a pair of anti-tank guns and depleted platoon defended. A British Sherman Firefly moved south and into position to lend support against a German tank assault. Meanwhile the British Bofors that was forced to withdraw from its gun in the north, manned the crewless gun at the crossroad.

The Allies reinforcements did not arrive on this turn, which will allow the Germans to reposition their forces so as to better interdict the Allies reinforcements coming on next turn.

All-in-all, the battle is a close one, the Germans are pushing south to clear the American paratroopers from the objective crossroads along Hell's Highway. The losses added 1 point to the German Victory Point requirement.

HH6.2 Cutting Hell's Highway vs. Ernie Cameron
Turn 5
On the west side of the village, a German Engineer squad captured the Bofors crew, but came under British 5.5” (140mm) artillery fire, breaking the leader and forcing him to rout back into the safety of a building. Using the smoke from the burning Panther, a Sturm-Squad advanced to hedge, threatening the American paratrooper squad. Meanwhile, the Flak Pz IV was pumping an inaccurate stream of 37mm AP rounds at the British OP Carrier trying to knock it out and end the rain of shells.
The British Sherman tank, wary of the FlakPz IV manoeuvred south into the ploughed fields, providing flank support to the American paratroopers fighting on the edge of the village.
Centred along Hell's Highway, the main thrust of the German northern force had cleared out the church, but came under heavy fire when it attempted to push south into the graveyard. Now Leutnant Schultz was forced to regroup and rally his forces in the church. Last remaining Panther of the north force manoeuvred around the buildings lining the east side of the main road, linking up with the units of the eastern force, to apply pressure on the paratrooper defending the crossroad next to the café.
The American paratroopers under the command of the newly promoted 10-2 Major Summers, and supported by a British Sherman tank, held out in the buildings to the west of the graveyard. While along the main road south of the graveyard, paratroopers held out in the café, inspired by bazooka-toting and heroic Private Jones.
On the east side, the last of the German reinforcements had arrived – a platoon of Assault Engineers mounted halftracks and supported a pair of Flamme halftrack and a pair of Panther tanks. This force sped westward towards the sound of battle; while the engineers dismounted a short distance east of the café crossroads, the Flamme halftracks dealt with the knot of paratroopers in the woods near the crossroad. Meanwhile the pair of Panthers tanks raced around the left flank and took up positions to the south of the village, cutting off any Allied reinforcements moving up Hell’s Highway.
The American paratroopers were forced out of the woods and pushed back to the building at the south end of the village, where a pair of anti-tank guns and depleted platoon defended. A British Sherman Firefly moved south and into position to lend support against a German tank assault. Meanwhile the British Bofors that was forced to withdraw from its gun in the north, manned the crewless gun at the crossroad.
The Allies reinforcements did not arrive on this turn, which will allow the Germans to reposition their forces so as to better interdict the Allies reinforcements coming on next turn.
All-in-all, the battle is a close one, the Germans are pushing south to clear the American paratroopers from the objective crossroads along Hell's Highway. The losses added 1 point to the German Victory Point requirement.
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George Kelln

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HH6.2 Cutting Hells Highway vs. Ernie Cameron

Turn 6

On the west side of the village, the German Engineer squad with its captured Bofors crew broke and the crew died under the rain of British 5.5” (140mm) artillery fire. The leader managed to rally and then rallied the broken engineer squad, but once again they fell under the British artillery, forcing them to leave the building. An aggressive halftrack drove into bypass of the fanatic paratrooper squad’s building SW of the crossroads, but doing so, it drove into the sights of a British Sherman tank in the ploughed field – the halftrack crew never knew what hit them. The elimination of the bypassing halftrack freed the fanatic paratrooper squad and the paratroopers let out a withering amount of fire on the adjacent German Sturm-Squad hiding behind the hedge in the smoke. Surviving a (14+2) shot, the Sturm-Squad fired back, managing to Pin the paratroopers. Meanwhile, the Flak Pz IV continued pumping an inaccurate stream of 37mm AP rounds at the British OP Carrier trying to knock it out, but a misfeed of the ammunition malfunctioned the gun. This setback was short-lived as the crew immediately remedied the malfunction and got the gun firing back at the OP Carrier.

Centred along Hell's Highway, the main thrust of the German northern force continued to push south. Leutnant Schultz (9-1) succeeded in rallying almost all the broken units in the church, and getting them back into the fight. The Assault Engineers from the eastern reinforcements pushed into the village and into battle. This added force applied pressure on the paratrooper defending the intersection next to the café, forcing the Americans to withdraw south of the road.
The American paratroopers under the command of the recently promoted (10-2) Major Summers, and supported by a British Sherman tank continue to hold back the German advance out of the graveyard. The Sherman crew watched as the Germans squads fumbled about unsuccessfully trying to get a Panzerfaust into firing position. They were joined by the Sherman tank from the ploughed field which began firing on the café at the intersection. Further south, the British crew got the Bofors back into action, while paratroopers moved up in support. Together they guard the second last objective intersection.

On the east side, the German platoon of Assault Engineers toting a FT & a couple of DC supported by their halftracks pushed into the battle for the café at the intersection. With the knot of paratroopers in the woods dealt with, one of the Flamme halftracks moved south to help stem the Allied reinforcement moving up from Veghel, while others moved north to support the fight for the café intersection. Meanwhile one of the Panther tanks pushed further south taking up a position to interdict the highway; while the other Panther tank decided to duel with the Sherman Firefly. The Panther crew was astounded when the Firefly missed – their returning fire shot did not miss and the Brit tank brewed up.

The American paratroopers were forced out of the woods, fell back and established a defensive line together with the pair of A-T Guns just east of the last objective intersection. The British Sherman Firefly that moved to support the southern defense, its crew got cocky and looked to use APDS (5) against the Panther that had moved into its sights. It was hoped that using APDS would improve its chances of knocking out the German tank. Unfortunately, they had no APDS and in the subsequent shot with AP resulted in a miss. Note: the APDS TH roll was a “7” (wdr 6, cdr 1) which, had the crew used AP instead, would have resulted in a turret hit with ROF (TK 23 – APV 14 = TK 9). Curse you Dice Gods!

The Allies reinforcements arrived on Turn 6 and because of the Panther interdicting the main road and the Flamme halftrack the secondary road, the trucks were forced to dump the paratroopers off at the crossroads in order to deal with the German tank and the Flamme Halftrack.

All-in-all, the battle is a close one, but the last turn saw the scales tip in favour of the Germans. The fact that Allied reinforcements were unable to get into the village to reinforce the defender could prove the Allies' undoing.

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George Kelln

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HH6.2 Cutting Hell’s Highway playtest vs. Ernie Cameron

Turn 7


Just east of the railroad tracks, the duel between the British OP Carrier and 37 Flak IV had ended with the Flakwagan scoring a hit on the elusive carrier brewing it up. The Artillery Observation Team (AOT) in the Carrier did manage to call in a strike on the west side of the village near the church before its demise. In total, it called in three fire missions of 5.5” (140mm) OBA.

The Germans with the assistance of the Engineers from the eastern force have pushed back the Allies south of the graveyard and for a time held the Café Heideblom (N21). A counterattack shrouded in smoke from the burning wreck of a Sherman tank was launched by the paratroopers; supported by accurate and deadly fire from a British Sherman tank, the paratroopers managed to retake the café. The remnants of the German Engineer squad were forced to rout back. The Germans having regrouped in the church and supported by a Panther tank are preparing to launch an attack to retake the café. The American Hero who was single-handedly holding the right side of the intersection was killed when the wooden building about him collapsed into rubble, courtesy of a DC-toting 8-0 leader.

Along the east side of the village, German halftracks race back and forth looking for an opening to move into and attack. Each time they do, they are forced to withdraw under a hail of fire from the paratroopers and the last manned British AA gun.

In the south, the Germans have managed to get between the Allied reinforcements moving up from Veghel and the village. Forced to dismount from their trucks along the road south of the woods and farmstead, the Glider troops were confronted with a Panther tank and Flamme Halftrack. These were soon joined by three halftracks, one of which has a mortar mounted in it. Simultaneously, the Germans launched a probe with a Panther tank and SPW 251/9 (Stump) halftrack against the Allied forces defending the southern (K24) intersection. Fending off numerous 57mm A-T gun rounds aimed for its tracks attempting to immobilized it, the Panther rumble towards the gun and its crew, overrunning a 60mm Mortar team in the process. But alas, the gun crew, keeping its nerve, managed hit the tracks and the Big Cat came to a stop, a mere 40m from the gun.

Meanwhile, the Stump began blasting rounds at paratroopers scurrying between the buildings around the intersection when suddenly it was confronted by a British Sherman tank. The Sherman crew licking their chops at the Stump sitting there was too excited and loaded in their shell backwards, malfunctioning their main armament. The Stump let loose a HEAT round that bounced off the Sherman hull. All this noise drew the attention of the immobile Panther crew which turned its turret, let loose a round and missed. This shot was enough encouragement to force the Sherman crew to back out of the sight of the Panther. The Stump crew, losing their situational awareness, failed to notice a paratrooper squad and leader sneaking up behind the nearby hedge. The Stump crew was riddled with well-directed fire from the paratroopers that managed to stun them. While the crew huddled down, the paratroopers led by the (8-1) 1st Sgt, clamoured over the hedge and assaulted the undefended Stump in Close Combat – taking it out.

The battle for the Café Heideblom continues with more and more German infantry getting drawn into the fight. As the German has no infantry south of the Café Heideblom, Ernie, using his halftracks, is trying to shuffle whatever infantry he can spare to the southern part of the village.

With three turns left, the Germans have lost 3½ of 12 squads, 3 (+1 immobilized) of 6 Panthers, and 9 of 17 halftracks. The Allies have lost 3 of 16 squads, 2 of 4 Shermans, 2 of 2 Fireflies, 1 (+1 captured) 40mm Bofors, and their Carrier OP with its AOT. The sum of this carnage is that the German must accumulate 21 VP to win. Currently they have secured 12 VP.


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George Kelln

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HH6.2 Hell’s Highway vs. Ernie Cameron

Turn 8


The German had launched his counter-attack to retake Café Heideblom and its objective intersection. The Germans’ force consisted of two platoons made up of engineers, sturmtroops, and panzergrenadiers led by a (9-1) Leutnant, a pair of (8-1) Feldwebels, and supported by a Panther tank and several halftracks. Moving out from the church and crossing the graveyard, the Germans attacked the American paratrooper platoon, commanded by (10-2) Major Summers, defending the smoke-shrouded café.

The Americans, under spewing flames and exploding charges, were forced to withdraw, opening the way for the Germans to retake the café. This push moved the German line south of the graveyard, along the NW-SE road astride the café. But this attack, suffered some casualties, a halftrack was immobilized and its crew killed as it Bailed Out, a sturmtroop squad was Casualty Reduced, and several squads were broken by a heavy-volume of paratrooper rifle fire directed by Major Summers.

Along the east side of the village, the German continued to probe with his halftracks. A halftrack fell victim to a bazooka round and the German Artillery Observation Team (AOT) was attempting to repair is radio when it was caught out in the open and cut down (K/2) by a pair of bazooka-toting paratrooper squads (thus eliminating all OBA for the battle).

Meanwhile, the German has pushed all his halftracks south attempting to stop the Allies reinforcements from Veghel from reaching the defenders in Mariaheide. The immobilized Panther swinging its main armament back and forth letting loose rounds at whatever targets are in LOS, resulting in the breaking of the A-T Gun crew and the breaking of an adjacent paratrooper squad. The Flamme halftrack let loose a stream of fire on the building containing a (8-1) 1st Sergeant and a paratrooper squad; with the result of the sergeant being wounded and then succumbing to his wounds. However, the squad managed to hold its ground – despite losing the sergeant.

Further south, the American Glider troops are continuing to maneuver, trying to find a hole in the German lines. While doing so a (9-1) Lieutenant leading a Glider HS toting a MMG was caught moving in some brush by a mortar halftrack. Quickly zeroing in on the Americans, the German crew dropped a round dead-smack into the middle of them, killing everyone instantly (CH = 32FP, result 3 KIA).

With two turns remaining, the Germans continue to close the perimeter about the village. With the capture of Café Heideblom the Germans have now accumulated 18 VP, but due to losses must add 1 more VP, thus require 21 VP to achieve victory. The halftracks are proving to be a detriment to the German attack, if knocked out they are worth 5 CVP. But because the Germans are short on infantry, they are forced to use them.

On the other side, the paratroopers, led by Major Summers, supported by a 57mm A-T Gun and a British 40mm Bofors have regrouped and are prepared to defend the next objective (N21) intersection. Meanwhile to the south, the remnants of the paratrooper platoon continue to hold on, defending the southern intersection, while the Glider troops are struggling to push north to reinforce the defenders in the village.
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