Narvik PBEM: German Turn 1 (April 9 – 11, 1940)
How to get your ass kicked without really trying
That’s what I had wanted to call this post.
I’ve been learning a lot over the past couple of weeks about rules that I’ve missed, things that work, and things that don’t work.
I found out that I was mistakenly sending infantry HQ units into the mountains when they aren’t allowed to enter those hexes. That’s okay, because both sides were allowed to do it, so neither side was gaining an advantage over the other.
I learned a use for those British antiaircraft cruisers, all because I had missed the word base.
I learned, after the fact, that hexside interdiction can only be used for up to four hexsides, rather than all available hexsides. That’s okay, it’s just a game and it won’t happen again.
But the most embarrassing mistake of all is a miscount.
In both games, I executed paratrooper landings in the Sola Air Station airfield just outside of Stavanger, using a single Luftwaffe Ju-52. I say Luftwaffe, because there are only three transport counters that can be used to perform air drops, and they are colored in what would become the Luftwaffe color scheme.
Sola was at the edge of the range for these units, 25 hexes.
Only it isn’t.
It’s actually 26.
Before this game started, I made myself a little cheat sheet with air distances from point to point, mostly so I wouldn’t have to constantly count hexes from Germany to Trondheim every turn.
So, when I created this sheet, I counted and recorded 26 hexes from Germany to Sola, but it didn’t click in my brain that this meant an air drop mission there would be at extended range.
So, I planned an air drop there just like every other game, until Alan pointed out that I had miscalculated. In the end, I scrubbed that entire mission. Alan also pointed out that I could have dropped one hex short and moved onto the airfield, which is true (and I may do this next turn if he doesn’t move to protect it), but it would not have allowed me to immediately move troops into the area, which was the goal.
That’s embarrassing, and makes me feel kind of dumb. But what can you do? (except not be so dumb)
I was also getting two rules confused with each other. I was under the impression that I could fly ground troops into an airfield, and could move up to half their movement that turn. That isn’t correct. If transported by air, they can’t move, however, if they are shipped in by sea, they can move up to half their movement allowance that turn. I simply got the two rules crossed, but the larger implication is that the entire plan that I had to support the seaborne landing in Oslo was crap from the very beginning. In light of this, I would very much like a do-over, but it is what it is. We’ll get past it.
Enough of the embarrassing admissions of how big an idiot I am.
Following up on the plans laid down by the Germans to invade Norway, five regiments are landed at five locations: Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim.
Here’s the breakdown of the landings.
- 159th infantry regiment/69th division (9-4)
- 310th infantry regiment/163rd division (6-4)
- 340th infantry regiment/196th division (6-4)
- 355th infantry regiment/214th division (9-4)
- 138th mountain infantry regiment/3rd division (9-5)
All regiments landed at their destinations safely, though some of the die rolls were closer than I would have liked.
In addition, two Ju-52s carrying a company of airborne infantry each fly to the following airfields, followed by transports carrying troops to be landed as soon as the airfield is captured:
W. Oslo airfield (Fornebu):
- Company 1k/1 airborne regiment (1-3)
- 1st battalion/69th division (3-4)
- 3rd battalion/69th division (3-4)
Kristiansand airfield (Kjevik):
- Company 4k/1st airborne regiment (1-3)
- 2nd battalion/163rd division (2-4)
- 3rd battalion/163rd division (2-4)
The Ju-52s flying the airborne troops to capture Fornebu were flying unescorted, as there are no fighters that have the range to escort them. In my previous two games, this was not an issue, as the Gladiators proved no match for the mighty and nimble Ju-52s. Not this time.
The Gladiators met them head on, and shot them down, with the loss of the airborne troops, with the complete loss of company 1k. This time, the Ju-52s were unable to exact revenge, and the Gladiator lives to fly another day, landing at the airfield north of Oslo.
After the paratroopers make their successful jump at Kjevik, the Ju-52 flies to Forenbu and attempts to land there.
While the Ju-52s are making their drops over Kjevik, Ju-88A bombers fly over Oslo in an attempt to disrupt the HMKG battalion, but have no effect on them.
The paratroopers successfully land at and capture Kjevik airfield, outside of Kristiansand, allowing the two battalions to land on the airfield. The Ju-52s turn and fly to Fornebu airfield (west Oslo), where they crash and burn.
All planes to be flown into that airfield are aborted and return to Germany.
He-111H bombers disrupt the Norwegian unit at Kristiansand, while the Me-110Cs, flying at extended range (and a reduced bomb load) fail to wake the sleeping mountain troops at Stavanger.
With the failure of the Luftwaffe to disrupt the HMKG battalion, and the lack of the support troops expected for the attack, the 159th regiment may be pretty well screwed, attacking at 2:1 at best, 1:1 at worst, with a -2 modifier. Absolute worst case scenario is that they are eliminated. Best case is that they are chased out of the city and back onto their transports, or the attack is inconclusive.
As the Germans move into the towns, the Norwegians begin their retreat.
Oslo: the 2nd brigade HQ retreats out of the city, but the HMKG stays to fight.
Kristiansand: the infantry battalion retreats from the city.
Stavanger: the 2-3-4 mountain battalion stands to fight.
Bergen: both the I/9 mountain battalion and 4th brigade HQ retreats from Bergen, abandoning the trucks.
Trondheim: II/12 mtn II retreats southwest, instead of north or to the airfield as I expected, while the 5th brigade HQ decides to stand and fight.
Alan Tibbetts: Had you landed with Battalions instead of Rgts I would’ve opted for more retreats, but now I can EX or HX a Bn for a full Rgt, so why not give it a shot.
Fair enough. I might have done the same thing, especially with the 159th regiment hanging precariously from a limb in Oslo. (Editor’s note: He got the regiment for free)
Why did I land with regiments instead of battalions? I took an all or nothing approach to this problem. If I broke the regiments down into their battalion components, that would give the Allies more shots at sinking something. By sending a regiment, they get one shot at sinking the regiment. If I send it as battalions, they get three shots at sinking some, or all of the regiment. The very first game I played, I broke the mountain regiment into the three battalions. Two of the three were sunk, and the last battalion was left battered and weak. There is something to be said for getting something ashore rather than nothing, but the other case was, at least on the southern tip of Norway was that there were grandiose plans to ferry battalions across in air transports and land troops that way.
However, if I did break them down into battalions (as I have done for some of the artillery that’s staged), maybe something would make it through)
Through various miscalculations, mishaps and f-ups on my part, most of these did not come to fruition.
There are three combats; Oslo, Stavanger and Trondheim.
Oslo: the 159th regiment fights well, but is ultimately destroyed (Attacker Half Eliminated). It came very close to being an NE, which would have been acceptable.
Stavanger: Combat is inconclusive, resulting in an NE (no effect). The German 340th Infantry Regiment (196th Division) is repulsed and returned to the reinforcements box.
Trondheim: The Norwegian 5th brigade HQ is run over and flattened, but so are the trucks.
In all, the Germans lost 2 transports (nearly 40 planes), an airborne company, and an infantry regiment.
I tried this exact same thing in the first game I played, and it didn’t work very well then, either. In the first game, though, it was the result of a second regiment being sunk. This time, it was because of the failure to take Fornebu airfield, which would have provided another 3 attack factors to the attack, bringing the odds to 3:1 (which would have produced a Defender Disrupted result), or 6:1 if the Luftwaffe had disrupted the unit. Even without support, the Luftwaffe disrupting the enemy battalion would have knocked the odds up to 4:1, which would have failed to take the city, but the unit would still be alive, albeit back in the reinforcements box.
Regardless, I’ve captured trucks and an airfield in Bergen, and I’ve captured Trondheim, but the trucks there were destroyed. Kristiansand and Kjevik airfield belong to the Germans. That’s a start, and gives me something to work with.
Follow up Wave
The Allied navies get very active during the follow up wave, sinking two units sailing to Norway.
- From the 3rd mountain division, the 112th mountain artillery regiment is sunk, while the 139th mountain regiment proceeds to Fredrikstad.
- The 193rd infantry regiment/69th division lands in Larvik.
- The 367th infantry regiment/214th division lands in Horten.
- 1st infantry battalion/163rd division lands in Kristiansand.
- 3rd infantry battalion/196th division is sunk off the coast of Stavanger.
Let’s tally the losses.
- 2 x Ju-52 transports (+2 VP)
- 1 x airborne infantry company (+4 VP)
- 1 x 9-4 infantry regiment (+3 VP)
- 1 x 9-5 mountain artillery III (sunk in transit) (+4 VP)
- 1 x 9-5 mountain infantry regiment
- 1 x 2-4 infantry battalion (sunk in transit) (+2 VP)
And what did the Germans do to the Allies?
They flattened the 5th brigade headquarters and blew up some trucks.
That gives the Allies 15 VP the very first turn. Ugh.
This already feels like the disaster that was my first attempt to play after nearly 30 years.
However, we must look at the bright side of things. This does give me a chance to get critical supplies in country a turn early, because a large number of Ju-52 transports are available. Plus I have two airfields to play with.
If Oslo is to be an immediate target, 2 x 9-5 III must be landed in Oslo. If even one is sunk, the other one is screwed.
The safest path to Oslo is to land in Fredrikstad and go after the 1st brigade HQ over on the Swedish border, and the mobilization center where the artillery stores are. And hope your artillery can make it through the submarine web. That way, if a unit is sunk, the other regiment isn’t left out there with it’s ass swinging in the breeze.
Damn Polish subs, anyway.
I think taking Danzig from them made them mad.
These games are inherently more fun when you get to play against an actual opponent. I am enjoying myself, even as frustrating as this first turn has been. The Germans will recover. The question is, can I recover quickly enough to mount an offensive on the north?