SoS Narvik: Turn 1 (April 8 – 11, 1940)
I was recently reminded of the conundrum that Alan and I were in regarding landing float planes in hexes that are interdicted by warships. It seems to me that any float plane that lands within reach of warships is a sitting duck while it unloads, yet the rules are silent in this regard. It appears to be perfectly legal.
However, there is another change detected which inadvertently resolves this problem for the most part.
The GDW version of Narvik has four floatplane transports available, including three He-115B long range transports (40 hex range). The new revision reduces the number of floatplane transports from four to two. The Ju-52 floatplane transport is still available, and a Do-26D floatplane transport long range transport (44 hex range). However, the He-115Bs, while still in the Order of Battle, have been changed to floatplane bombers. The He-115s were, in fact, bombers, not transports. They could not handle the transport load.
Since the number of floatplane transports has been cut in half, these air units can no longer be used to fly (and land) battalion level units to Narvik. Parachute companies can be flown in, but they cannot air drop.
House Rules Suggestions
Any air unit with Code F (floatplane) cannot land at or use a port as a base that is interdicted.
The Germans may perform a maximum of two (2) air drops (non-supply depot) in prohibited terrain. This is to reflect that the Germans actually performed these drops. However, upon any such air drop, the unit is automatically disrupted.
Even More Changes
Movement rules between the 3/80 GDW game and the SoS game have occurred. In 1980, movement was restricted north of the A weather line only. In SoS, this has been shifted down to north of the B weather line (inclusive). In addition, the cost to move through clear, road and woods hexes has doubled, even for mountain units. See the photos below.
German Naval Transport
In the 1980 version of Narvik, the Germans were restricted to 7 battalion equivalents of naval transport from turn 2 to turn 7. In Storm over Scandinavia, this restriction has been lifted. The Germans have the ability to transport 14 battalion equivalents of troops per turn. Advantage: Germans.
Overall, I always felt that Narvik was a fairly balanced game, but the Allies held a slight (a very slight) edge. Most of the rule changes in SoS appear to favor the Germans.
Despite the suggestions above, this game will be played as written, to get an apples to apples comparison.
In the past, I’ve made a great many plans for the German invasion of Norway. Some of these plans were horrible and I crashed and burned, while some held promise, but I think tried to do too much at once.
Some involved getting supplies to Narvik, with the idea being that a German breakout would occur, and Bardufoss Airfield would be captured. That was a pipe dream.
Some involved blithely throwing away paratroopers in high risk operations, something that will never happen again.
Since the Germans only have 15 battalion equivalents of naval transport for the first wave, the objectives are:
- Narvik: Victory point city; 139th III of the 3rd Mountain XX (3 x 2-5 II)
- Trondheim, Værnes Air Station (6 capacity) outside of town; 138th, 3rd Mountain XX (3 x 3-5 II) & 159th III, 69th XX (3 x 3-5 II)
- Bergen; Flatøy Air Station, (9 capacity); 193rd III, 69th XX (full – no breakdowns available)
- Stavanger; Sola Air Station outside of the city. 236th III, 69th XX (full – no breakdowns available)
Each unit makes way to their destinations. However, the HMS Glowworm runs across the convoy and sinks Battalion A/159th Regiment/69th Infantry division. It strikes me as kind of funny that this is more or less how history went. The Glowworm interfered with troops heading to Trondheim before being sunk by the Admiral Hipper.
The Narvik landing is completely unopposed, and the Germans capture Mobilization Center 15.
The Norwegians are caught completely off guard, and the troops in Trondheim and Bergen retreat. The Germans capture Flatøy Air Station and the trucks at Bergen, along with Mobilization Center 9 without resistance.
At Trondheim, the Germans also capture the Norwegian trucks, Mobilization Center 12, and one of the Norwegian artillery stores (#3). The Norwegian troops retiring from Trondheim cannot retreat to Værnes Air Station, as doing so would violate the stacking rules, so they choose to retire to the west. The Germans also push to the west to pursue the fleeing Norwegians, taking the 138th III of the 3rd Mountain Division, and one of the battalions from the 159th III/69th XX (a total of 12 attack factors).
The battalion in Stavanger, however, hold their ground. The thinking is that if they retreat to Sola Air Station, the Germans will follow after and attack anyway.
The Germans have 30 Ju-52 transports available at the Greater Germany off-map airbase (which seems to coincide with Kiel). For any air drops to occur, two transports are going to be needed per airborne company since the mission will occur at extended range (40 hex range). At extended range, all transport costs are doubled. Three transports are required per battalion equivalent carries.
All three companies are active for missions on this turn, They can only be transported by Ju-52s.
Three airfields are targeted: Fornebu(26 hexes), Gardermoen(27 hexes) & Sola (27 hexes). Air drops are not guaranteed, but will be attempted anyway.
More transports carrying battalions are to land at the airfields after they are captured.
- A & B 362 /196th XX to land at Sola
- C/196th XX to land at Fornebu
- A/324/163rd XX to land at Gardermoen
The transports flying to Fornebu are intercepted by the Norwegian Gladiators, but neither side takes any losses. The Gladiators return to Gardermoen.
Now that all air combat is finished, the air drop weather check takes place. The weather, once again, does not cooperate and none of the jumps take place. Now comes the question of whether to attempt landings at the airbases.
There is a 50-50 chance that a successful landing could occur, and I have written the book on how to not do that. All of the transports turn back and return to base except for the transports carrying the parachute troops. These transports land at Flatøy Air Station at Bergen. The remaining transports that flew to Sola Air Station return to the Aalborg airfield in Denmark. The other transports at Fornebu and Gardermoen return to the airfields in Copenhagen (Kjøbenhavn).
The parachute troops in Bergen can now perform missions without the weather check. Any further air drops will be performed.
I decided to try to fly troops into Norway instead of dropping supplies because the intended hexes were still owned by the Norwegian army. The air drop rule states only that depots can be dropped into hexes containing both friendly and enemy forces provided that the friendly units were the last to control the hex. This would suggest that supplies cannot be air dropped into enemy controlled hexes.
Meanwhile, bombers from Germany converge on rail lines in southern Norway to try to restrict Norwegian freedom of movement. Out of 13 missions, the Germans achieve 6 hits, one of which is the rail hub at Oslo. It will temporarily delay some movement by the Norwegians, but by the beginning of the next turn, the magical engineer fairies will have repaired all of the damaged rail lines.
The Ju-88C heavy fighter flies from Germany to Bergen to protect the transports that have just landed. I also want to advance the Me-110C air units to Aalborg, but this airfield cannot be used except during the air return step. So, they have to go on a bombing run in Norway. A weak bombing run, but a run nonetheless, at extended range.
Miles of rail line is cut. The hit at Oslo is key. For the Allied turn, at least, southwest Norway has been cut off from Southeastern Norway, and Bergen has been cut off from Oslo, at least from a rail line standpoint.
Norwegian units retreating from Trondheim continue to fall back as the Germans pursue them. Stavanger is the only combat, at 4:1 odds.
The combat is indecisive, as the Norwegian battalion stubbornly refuses to give up the city.
There are multiple undefended ports in the Oslo area. Arendal, Larvik, Tonsberg, Horten, Drammen to the west, and Moss on the east side of the fjord. All are minor ports. Oslo itself, is not only defended, but defended by the King’s Guards.
Five cities on the western side of the fjord are open to occupation. There is currently no reason to capture Horten or Tonsberg.
- Drammen: 169th art III/69th inf (14-4) 4 be B/163 inf bn
- Arendal: 14-4 artillery III 4 be & II/33 AA Bn
- Larvik: 4-3-4 artillery II & I/32 AA bn
- Moss: 4-3-4 art. II & III/33 AA bn
Why these four? Drammen is closest to Oslo. Arendal is closer to Kristiansand. Larvik is on the southern coast, but towards Kristiansand. Moss is the only open port on the east side of the fjord.
13 1/3 battalion equivalents are moved into the staging box for transport on the next turn. This includes four regiments of artillery and a company of tanks, intended to land in southern Norway. The mountain artillery is being sent to Norway so that it can be broken down and sent to Narvik as quickly as possible (if possible)
Most of the casualties the Germans sustain is through anti-shipping, even to Oslofjord. The 169th Artillery III lost a battalion on the way over, and the 729th Artillery battalion was also sunk in transit.
Because of the loss of units, the stack in Drammen is overstacked, and one of the 3-4 artillery battalions is flipped to show this. Why not the 2-4 infantry battalion? Nine or 10 defense strength really doesn’t matter. I don’t think the Norwegians can successfully counterattack this hex.
At the end of the first half of the turn, the Allies have 6 VPs. This is a lot better than other games that I have played, where I almost handed the game to the Allies in the very first turn.
About half of the objectives were accomplished. Other than at Bergen, no other airfields have been captured. Trondheim is going to take some buildup to break out of there. Surprisingly, Stavanger still holds out. No airborne troops were lost, but they are also in Norway for more missions.
The Allied Response
The British respond rapidly by sending the HMS Valiant to interdict Narvik and the HMS Warspite to interdict Trondheim. This scores the Allies another 5 victory points (bringing them to 11).
The British also transfer about 36 Skua fighter-bombers (each air unit counter represents about 12 or so aircraft) and some Blenheim 1Fs to Hatston Field.
Bomber Command has made some Wellington 1Cs and some Whitleys available near London for the campaign.
The Norwegians can’t do a lot to fight back against the Germans. The strategy is going to be one of containment.
The Norwegians seem to be more prepared in the arctic than the rest of the army to the south. Immediately, two battalions at Tromso and a battalion from Alta respond to the invasion, but it is going to take some time to move south, as there is no rail available this far north. While four battalions make their way towards Narvik overland from the north, one is lifted by naval transport from Tromso to Harstad. The battalion raised at Mosjøen heads north to cut off Narvik from the south.
I think this is where the lower movement rates favor the Germans, buying time for Narvik to be reinforced from the south.
The British Skua air units stationed at Hatston Field are transferred to Værnes Air Station, where they can extend British air power over more of Norway. The Blenheim fighters are transferred to Sumburgh airbase in the Shetlands as air defense. The Norwegian Gladiators and C.V attack bombers are flown to Værnes Air Station as well Norwegian forces are going to have to hold their positions until more forces are available to quarantine the area. Værnes must be held at all costs.
The forces at Bergen also hold their positions, preventing any breakout by German forces.
Norwegian forces in Stavanger retreat to Sola to protect the airfield. Third Brigade headquarters moves south to garrison Kjevik Air Station. Around Oslo, Norwegian forces quickly form a front to the southeast of Oslo to prevent a breakout from that area. The intent of the Norwegians is to hold up German forces in the Oslo area for as long as possible.
Some mobilization centers are given up to save others. The trucks in Oslo are sent north to prevent their capture if Oslo falls.
The British do what the British do best, and that is strike at night. I’m not meaning that as a slam. The fact of the matter is that the British were experts at night bombing, and bombing airbases is the only strategic mission available that can be flown at night.
Aalborg, the intended target, is just out of normal range. This means the bombing strengths are reduced to 1/3, or 2 strategic bombing factors per air unit. None of the airbases have any AA strength. All AA units have been shipped to Norway. Note to German commanders: Get an AA unit to Aalborg as quickly as possible. It can be carried by air transport.
No bombers are lost, but the bombs miss the target, leaving the airbase intact. Instead of returning to London, the bombers return to Sumburgh Airfield in the Shetlands. This should allow greater coverage of Norway.
Next turn, the Norwegian mobilization begins in earnest. The Germans have to figure out how to supply Trondheim. Bergen isn’t such a large problem, but all German units are out of supply as of the end of this turn. They also have to think about AA considerations. Now that the landings have taken place, it is time for the Germans to break out.