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Posted on May 22, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

COMBAT! Frozen Encounter

By Alexander Wilson

Commander’s Assessment of the Tactical Situation

As your troops gather on the crest of Hill 605, you seat yourself on an empty ammunition box and familiarize yourself with the tactical situation.  Scouts whom you sent across the river report that a Russian tank platoon, comprised partly of super-heavy Josef Stalin tanks, is headed for your current position near the Memel road.  Accompanying the tanks are three platoons, of approximately 20 men each, of Soviet grenadiers.  In addition to these forces, the Russians also have one battery of Katyusha rocket launchers, called “Stalin’s organs” by your soldiers.

To face this powerful enemy force, you only have three medium Pzkpw. IV Ausf. H tanks, one damaged Panther tank, and 20 infantrymen, half of whom possess a disposable anti-tank weapon called the Panzerfaust 30 in addition to their standard equipment.  Though more than capable of knocking out even the heaviest Soviet tanks, the deadly Panzerfaust’s main drawback is its relatively short effective range – 30 meters at most.  Your soldiers, however, will have to get well within this maximum range of 98 feet to be able to ensure a kill, and, with only ten at your disposal, every shot will count.


In addition to your infantrymen and armor, you also have a few mines, some scrap lumber from the destroyed house, and some camouflage netting available for use.  You have not doubt that these materials will prove important before the coming engagement is over.

Possible Courses of Action

You contemplate the situation facing you as your few surviving NCOs struggle to organize the soldiers and bring up stragglers.  You immediately see two possible positions from which you could defend against the coming Russian onslaught.

1) You could position your tanks in the pine trees and then have your infantrymen dig in behind the sandbags and lie low until the Russians cross the river.  You designate the pine trees and sandbags as Position 1.  The few mines you have on hand would be sown on the bridge, to startle and disrupt the Russians as they advance.  Then, when the Russians get close enough, your tanks and Panzerfausts would open fire on the unsuspecting Russians armor while your infantrymen pinned down the grenadiers.  At point blank range, you are confident that at least half of the Russian tanks will be knocked out before the Soviets can effectively react.

2) You also realize that another course of action is open to you.  Instead of relying upon close-range firepower, you could deceive the enemy and lure him into a trap.  Your tanks could be camouflaged on Hill 605, giving them both adequate protection from enemy fire and a height advantage over the Russian tanks.  You would then conceal your infantrymen in the smashed remains of the house, which would offer them a safe position from which to lie in wait for the enemy tanks.  You designate Hill 605 and the destroyed house as Position 2.  The bridge would be mined, as in Course of Action 1, and, unlike in Course of Action 1, you would build dummy positions at Position 1, using lumber from the house and some of the camouflage netting, to draw the fire of the Russian artillery.  Once the T-34s and IS-2s cross the bridge and get close enough to the house, your Panzerfausts and tanks would open up on them at close range. 

Oberleutnant’s Briefing

“All right men,” you say to your troops, “listen up.  After reviewing our tactical situation, I have decided that it would be foolish to defend the road using the pine trees and sandbags; they are too exposed to artillery and rocket fire, and if we do not find a way to elude the Soviets’ Katyusha fire, the engagement will be over before it even commences.  Ensuring that the Russian artillery cannot decimate us before the battle begins is the key to success.

“Instead of using the trees and sandbags, the infantrymen will hide in the destroyed house off to the left, and wait there until the Russian tanks get close enough for them to use their Panzerfausts.  In order to draw the Russian rocket fire away from our real locations, dummy positions will be constructed near the bridge, using scrap lumber from the house.  The few mines which we have left will be used on the bridge.”

Turning towards your panzer crewmen, you continue: “As the four tanks which we have on hand are our most valuable asset, I have decided to take as much care as possible in deciding upon their location.  This hill offers not only a height advantage over the enemy, but also adequate protection and cover for the tanks, which can be camouflaged among these shrubs using the netting we have.

“Remember, no one opens fire until the Panzerfausts are in range.  Then, we engage Ivan and annihilate him.  All right comrades, move out!”

Ensuring that the Russian artillery cannot decimate us before the battle begins is the key to success.

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