Monday, 7 September 2020

Chasse aux Dinosaures

The working FCM 2C tanks had entrained and been transported as far as Meuse between Nancy and Dijon before encountering a queue of five trains caused by blazing fuel wagons ahead. The 2Cs were soon blocked in by a similar number of trains behind and the decision was taken to self-destruct the prized AFVs with demolition charges in the face of approaching enemy forces.
Only one survived, was captured, taken to Germany and after the war supposedly ended up in Russian hands. This scenario tries to recreate what may have happened if the Char 2Cs had instead been forced to disembark and fight off the German vanguard.

The French only had to get their Char 2Cs in position and for the screen of Panhard 178s to fall back to the second line after a quick shot at any flanking enemy. The Germans went for a central thrust with flank movements to keep the defenders on their toes.

French forces
  • 6x Char 2C
  • 3x Panhard 178
  • 2x 47mm AT + UE Carrier
  • 1x platoon cycle infantry
  • 1x platoon infantry with Renault AHS trucks
  • 1x command section with car & Renault AHS wireless truck
  • hold village
  • prevent Char 2Cs falling into enemy hands intact

German forces
  • 4x Pz IVD
  • 5x Pz 38(t)
  • 5x PzII
  • 5x 37mm AT + Kfz70
  • 3x SdKfz 231
  • 3x Kfz13
  • 1x platoon Kradschützen
  • 1x platoon cycle infantry
  • 1x command section + SdKfz 231 + Kfz15
  • 3x Panzerjäger 1 (reinforcements)
  • capture rail yard
  • seize a Char 2C intact

Fast-moving light forces advance at top speed straight for the village.


The Kradschützen platoon and Kfz13s press on and quickly seize the forge & hamlet; the Panzer 38(t)s veer off towards the railway cutting.

On the German right flank, armour, AT and cycle troops advance across the high ground. Panhard armoured cars in the woods ahead loose off one shot and fall back.

I'd already diced to see how many turns headstart the 2Cs had to get in position. Not enough for these which were still labouring up a steep slope on turn 3.

6-rad armoured cars probe ahead while the Panzer IVs move up, covered by 37mm AT guns.

Sporadic small arms fire breaks out when the Kradschützen come into view. A grenade launcher direct hit on a Kfz13...

...and a 231 succumbs to a hit from a grenade launcher on the far side!

The lead 38(t) arrives at the crest overlooking the railway cutting only to be pounded into oblivion by the waiting 47mm AT & 75mm on a 2C.

Other 2Cs in the woods lob rounds at the Panzer IVs across the valley.

The Panzer CO orders smoke to blind the 2C tanks in the wood... 

...and to assist the Kradschützen in their assault.

Blinded, the French infantry are forced to give up the village outskirts.

The Panhard 178s sweep round in a wide arc from one flank and head for the village, in contrast to two of the FCM 2Cs struggling up the hill behind Le Manoire which either miss a gear or bog down and slither to a halt...

...but the third reaches the leading treeline and exchanges AP with the Panzers.

Over by the level crossing, the attackers get in position.

The German MG platoon begin to infiltrate the village.

Support arrives in the form of Panzerjäger Is, engaging the Char 2Cs around the smoke screen.

With suppressing fire from the SdKfz 231 and with cautious leapfrog fire & movement, the German cycle troops make progress across the common.

Although the Panzer IV troop commander is lost, the supporting 37mm ATs find a weak spot in the massive flanks of the lead 2C.

The assault begins on the railway cutting...

...but it is tough going, discovering that the French have one of their lumbering steel beasts in support.

In the village, withering fire wipes out most of the French infantry. Even the Panzerbusche succeeds in plugging a 178.

More smoke takes the pressure off the German centre.

The French left in the wood falls back after a mauling and the loss of its NCO element...

...but on the other flank, the combined efforts of tanks, guns & small arms holds the German assault hard.

The game draws to a close as the village and railyard is secured by the Kradschützen...

...with the Kfz13s and Panzer CO unable to catch the Char 2Cs and Allied HQ departing off-table (to be fair, at a cross-country speed of 5mph or so it would not be long before they were overtaken).

Not so lucky for the 2C which breaks down by the chateau gatehouse, to be eventually paraded intact in Berlin.

To describe the FCM 2C as a mobile pillbox in the game is generous. Their above-average armour thickness was counteracted by sheer size and their exceedingly low speed (25m per move uphill or through woods) meant that once 'en place' it was a brave player who ordered them to leave the security of cover & concealment. An increased chance of breakdowns meant they were easily outflanked and indeed, overrun by enemy infantry. Furthermore, its short 75mm gun, although quite useful at close range, was thwarted by judicious use of German smoke.