Previously WR reported on his basic Flames of War 20mm scale Ludendorff Bridge 1945 scenario played as the morning game at Gamex 2018. For the second or afternoon Flames of War (FOW) game scenario, the same terraced tabletop was used but the units and platoons involved had slight changes for both sides. These changes converted what the basic FOW Ludendorff scenario was, to what WR calls his “Hollywood movie” version, following what is seen in “The Bridge at Remagen” movie (1969). To save some writing, WR refers the reader to the previous Ludendorff Bridge – Remagen 1945 article for specific details on the scenario written at end of scenario write-up. For this Hollywood themed scenario, the following changes are made from the basic scenario; platoon addition or change, team attachments, and adjusted starting positions are listed:
For the German side:
- The German 2cm Flak36 platoon is exchanged out for a Reluctant Conscript 88mm Flak platoon of three 88mm A/A guns, their Cmd SMG team, and attached HMG team. all in entrenchment or gun pits. This 888mm Flak36 battery is positioned forward on the Erpeler Ley, till placed on the 3rd level mountain edge overlooking the entire scenario tabletop.
- The 2iC SMG team in company HQ is exchanged out for 2iC MG team starting in the same position per scenario notes.
- The sunken river barge is anchored (placed) on the opposite side of the bridge, in center of river, and about 3″ from bridge. Change out the sniper team for an independent trained HMG team, concealed and “gone to river” status.
For the Americans:
- Add Armored Mortar platoon (81mm mortar) to the reinforcements pool. This Confident Veteran platoon has Cmd Carbine team, M2 or M3 H/T with .50cal AAMG, and three M4a1 81mm H/T. Following the delayed Reserves rules, roll on turn three for possible arrival at zone 3 table edge.
- If the Pershing Heavy tank platoon is destroyed, starting on turn three or later, a replacement light tank platoon will arrive. Players agreement, either Confident Veteran M24 Chaffee platoon (four tanks), or a M18 HellCat platoon (four tanks) without their TD rules applied… just a common tank platoon for scenario. Delayed Reserves rule applies again.
- The Engineer platoon has special Ludendorff Bridge rules to follow for repairing or clearing the bridge for vehicle passage.
Faced by the deadly 88mm AA Flak36 battery, the American have to target the hated cannon with their armor main guns, those same 90mm, 76mm, and 75mm tank cannon, to blast apart the German tank killing battery. So thoughtful planning the movement and fire control is paramount for the 1st turn. No double timing with the Shermans….. they will be pulped. Even the Pershing platoon needs to keep their distance to upgrade their armor factor by one… 10 to at long-range 11 vs, the 13 AT rating of the 88mm cannon. The Sherman crews just leave the turret and hull hatches open…. 88mm shells will come and go (7 to at long-range 8 vs. 13) against their armor hulls. This of course leaves the 3.7cm Flak 38 gun pit cannon complete alone for the start of the scenario…. all eight of them as they eye the American infantry. A different game mechanic situation is already in place. Much discussion at the lunch break between the scenario games…. let’s now see what the teams actually do on the tabletop.
Turn One: The leading 1st AR platoon march forward but edge further away from the 3.7cm Flak38 battery mounts. One or two teams are still in range….. tempting the German conscript gunners to open fire and expose themselves to later American counter-fire. The Sherman make a somewhat less than maximum normal move towards the 88mm battery, parallel to the river bank. Two Shermans can target the nearest 88mm cannon plus the two Pershing tanks. Using their main gun stabilizer rules, the four tanks send 8 shells towards the conscript German cannon. Needing a 5+ to hit… the Americans receive three hits (3 out 8) but the dug in German crew, in their silt trenches at scenario start, save every hit roll. Not a good start for the Team America. The rest of the American teams fire upon the outlying VolksGrenadier platoon defending the bridge entrance. Several hits but again the prepared German infantry hide in their foxholes and suffer no loss except a “pinned” result.
Having received the American first fire, the German 88mm Flak36 battery crews man their cannon and open fire. Two cannon target the Pershing tanks, one the Sherman platoon, A Sherman M4a3E8 tank starts to burn, the platoon commander’s tank crew never climbed out. One Pershing tank has a close call as the 88mm round dug deep on the steel frontal hull plate with a loud clang. Teased by the American infantry near the roadway, the 3.7cm Flak38 crews followed orders and looked the part of straw dummies wearing uniforms. As scenario play before, the volksgrenadiers stayed low in foxholes, playing cards to see who peaks over the foxhole parapet edge.
Turn Two: Time for the first assault by the 1st AR platoon. Whoops… the volksgrenadiers lie in wait then pop up with R/MG firing. Deadly point-blank firepower drops two teams stone cold dead. Staggering to the German foxholes, the American bayonet, rifle butt, or grenade two volksGrenadier team off the tabletop. then the VolksGrenadier platoon rises and countercharges into the American platoon. Their bayonets, rifle butts and MG teams cut down two American teams. That’s four dead or wounded teams now on the battlefield. American recover and continue the fight but whiff their assault die rolls. The Germans reply and another dead American team drops. The American morale drops… they bolt rearwards to end the brawl as the Germans hop back into the initial foxholes. Score one small German victory.
Elsewhere the American tankers have better luck with the hated 88mm cannon. Having figured the range it seems, and shortened the distance, the remaining five tanks (two Pershing, three Sherman) pack HE shells along the Erleper Ley ridge. Dead and dying German crews valiantly man the large cannon, the HMG team wondering why they joined the Flak battery. Two destroyed 88mm cannon and a now dead HMG crew litter or stain the Erpeler Ley position. The 3.7cm Flak38 battery is again untouched by American firepower as the 2iC team joins the Sherman platoon. No one remembers to use the I/R Recon platoon to lift the “gone to ground (GTG) marker, by using the “Eyes & Ears rule”, publicly placed with the 3.7cm Flak38 battery command team.
The German reply again is loud…..but really a bit dull. The Volks Artillery battery has targets to range-in on. Targeting the occupied building, the battery zeroes in and lands the spotting round. Soon FFE 10.5cm HE shells follow, blasting several American teams into the earth or trying their luck with saving rolls. One AR 30cal LMG team is blasted rag dolls as one HE round enters the same room they occupy. Platoon pin markers are handed out for the three platoons around the building.
Turn Three: Recovering their wits after a dressing down by the nearby Company commander (Major Barnes), the 1st AR platoon follows their leader lieutenant and advance again across the open ground and fields, littered with American and German bodies, more American it seems. Firing at the hip forces the peaking volksgrenadiers heads back into their foxholes. The AA M15 and M16 H/T drive up and man their AA cannon….quad .50cal and 37mm cannon train on the volksgrenadiers. Pressing the soiled gun triggers, multiple stream of heavy bullets or explosive 37mm shells burst about the German foxholes, ripping up the ground and German bodies alike. Pershing tanks drive by to divert attention from the charging AR platoon, while shelling the last 88mm gun on the Erpeler Ley to ruin. The 1st AR platoon charges home.
Finally after two more rounds the fighting is over. The sole volksgrenadier team run back across the bridge and disappear into the mists of Germany, while passing the abandoned pale blue Mercedes of Major Krueger parked besides the tower. The few teams of American riflemen occupy the blood purchased ground around the blown RR ramp arch, having passed their morale test.
The Volks Artillery conscript crews load 10.5cm shells into their smoking leLH18/40 gun breeches and pull the lanyard rope again and again. The receiving American infantry curse the Germans as their ears ring from the shell blasts. For the 3.7cm crews another round of American tank shells land about their gun pits, thankful that no “Eyes & Ears” was used to lift the GTG marker. Ordered to remain perfectly still, no movement or dying, they act like “straw dummies in uniform” to the American shelling.
Turn Four: Turn for the bridge fireworks display. American infantry moves closer to the bridge, for better seating before the German explosive show starts. The few teams of the 1st AR platoon decide charging the bridge is a very bad idea so remain near the twin black towers. One mechanically inclined soldier wonders if the Mercedes would start-up… tires look intact. The M2 60mm mortar crew sets up and plops smoke rounds on the straw uniformed dummies across the river after watching the Shermans pound the stationary guns and crews. Gun save after gun save rolled, the Germans crews and equipment appears untouched… like straw dummies.
On schedule, the bridge explosion occurs with exact German timing. Up and down, the steel structure still stands and the way to Germany is open. The German CinC team man their tunnel telephone to summon any nearby panzer support, or a train to get them away from the pending conflict. A Jagdpanther platoon answers the phone call and arrives on table rear edge to rumble forward, pointing their long 88mm barrels. The 10.5cm Volks Artillery battery crews cheer as they load shell after shell for repeating bombardment.
With more German efficiency…. the 10.5cm pounding continues around the target building. One unlucky American team has a date with a fused German shell.
Turn Five: The M4 dozer arrives to start filling in the blown RR ramp arch hole. Pershing tanks drive up to the river bank and shell the HMG nests positioned in the far shore towers. One nest is permanently removed by 90mm HE shells. Smoke clouds surround the same 3.7cm gun pits as another M2 60mm mortar barrage drops in. Rolls for reserves… the M4a1 Armored 81mm Mortar platoon arrives and sets up behind the nearby buildings. Their commander scouts the building upper floors for possible observation point. Meanwhile… another round of 75mm and 76mm HE shells from the Sherman tank platoon find the “3.7cm straw dummies”… who pass all but one save roll. Shell was a dud it seems as the German crew jump back into their slit trench. Careful examination of the turn photo shows the Sherman tanks used their reverse gear from the river bank…. unhealthy jagdpanthers spotted in the distance. To make the situation worse…the King Tiger and Jagdtiger single tank platoons must have been on the same phone line call. They arrive together to discomfort the American tankers even more. Were all the German panzers at the same rear zone fuel dump? Smart bridge commander…. call the local fuel station for panzers.
Reading the scenario notes…. if a German team is within 6″ of the bridge center (golden cigarette case) on turns five and six…. you may attempt to explode the bridge early to drop the span into the Rhine river (d6, roll a 6 stuff). So a volkssturm rifle team crawls on the bridge for turn six attempt roll. Crafty krauts.
Turn Six: American tanker nightmare….. German panzers spotted…. really big and nasty panzers, with huge cannon, are in their neighborhood. Any airpower? Divisional and Corps level artillery? The tank commanders look right then left as their gunners cannot seem to destroy the 3.7cm gun pits or the crews within across the Rhine. Miracles of die rolling keeps the German AA crews safe from harm. Another M2 60mm smoke barrage covers the same gun pit…. that crew is now “smokey favor” jokes the other crews standing perfectly still… like “straw dummies”. Nearby the American 2nd AR platoon and the Engineer platoon head for the bridge crossing. The M15 and M16 AA H/T drive to the Pershing position and start raking the VolksSturm platoon…. for now with little effect.
A quick bridge detonation roll attempt… Nope. Still the Germans are not idle. The zoo of German panzer cats drive forward. The King Tiger heads for the Erpeler Ley climbing roadway. In the rear the JagdTiger platoon lumbers forward, crushing the ground underneath. The lighter jadgpanthers target American steel hulls. One Sherman blows up with its turret sailing behind the flaming hull. More bombardment of the beaten zone pins the American infantry for another round.
Turn Seven: Seeing the volkssturm team on the bridge, trying to light matches, the American player wake up to the danger. The remains of the 1st AR platoon charge forward, ordered by the unseen American Major Barnes. With little effort they clear the bridge after a short fight… leaving one less volkssturm team to worry about. The German counter-movement fails with the other volkssturm teams holding back, thus leaving the HMG nest exposed to round two of the American charge. Blasting in the tower door, they climb the stairs, rooting out the HMG nest team from their lair. Reforming their position, the few Americans occupy the towers and claim first in Germany.
It’s turn seven…. Any German team within 6″ of the bridge… nope. So next is the arrival of Arado 234B jet bombers overhead. Seeing the danger, the 3.7cm Flak battery opens fire finally to send hundreds of 37mm shells around the towers. One American rifle team is smashed, another dies from the HMG team firing from the river barge. The disappearing platoon tests morale… and bolts for it or surrenders in place to the German CinC schoolteacher.
Turn Eight: With the final demise of the first AR platoon passing into German captivity, the American Major Barnes (Co. CinC) orders the 2nd AR platoon across the bridge while his Engineer platoon, assisted by their M4 dozer, fills in the blown RR ramp archway with soil, granite stonework, bodies, and other bridge debris. Pershing 90mm cannon search for the hidden VolksSturm platoon to provide suppression fire, hoping for the occasional flesh impact. The M15 and M16 AA H/T crews pump bullet and shells across the river, then reload and look skyward for the arrival of fast Arado 234B jet bombers, laden with 500kg bombs underwing. Told to die in place over the radio, the last two Sherman tanks fire upon the 3.7cm Flak battery, hoping to reduce their volume of firepower. Still with a charmed life from American shells, the “straw uniformed” conscript crews keep feeding the red-hot guns firing at the bridge.
Stepping over the dead American and German bodies, the nervous VolksSturm platoon occupies the twin black towers. Jagdpanthers make short work of one Sherman tank. Then with a mighty roar the last Sherman tank disappears into parts and pieces…. a 12.8cm round square on the hull rips the medium tank apart. Score one for the Jagdtiger crew. The King Tiger, after bogging last turn, un-bogs and drive up one level towards the objective marker.
Turn Nine: Just ugly one player is heard. Surging into the German bullets, the 2nd AR platoon charge into the VolksSturm platoon. Old men and young teens fire their rifles. Barge HMG team joins in to rake the American infantry from the rear. Two teams crumble into the mess and debris on the bridge. the rest surge into the German position. More close brutal work, the veteran American quickly despatch two volkssturm teams. Hesitate… the volkssturn waiver… then the old Schoolmaster fires his pistol into the American soldiers. Courage and defending Germany, the old and young counterattack, one more dead G.I. Stunned by the German resistance by Germany’s home guard, the Americans slowly retire…. then quicker back across the bridge of death. Only Major Barnes himself stops the rout on the French side of the Rhine.
Turn Ten: Major Barnes orders the 2nd AR platoon forward from their pinned status. No way… they revolt and refuse to advance. The Engineer platoon is too far from the bridge entrance to cross and assault in one movement. The sound of battle subsides…. except for the M4 dozer finds out their blade doesn’t add sufficient armor against 88mm AP shot. Tired Volks Artillery crews, having shifted their target in past turn, fire another FFE mission on the American held bridge ramp.
For the German….they push the plunger and the battered bridge gives up and falls into the Rhine. Scenario over as the jagdpanthers drive under the stone RR archway to confront the hiding Pershing tanks, and the AA H/T too. For the King Tiger…. it breaks down again nearing the objective marker.
Another American defeat it seems. The 88mm Flak36 battery wasn’t a big impact on the American tanks. Conscript guns just disappear quickly in FOW scenarios. It was the miracle saving rolls for the 3.7cm crews and their gun pit cannon which took the big prize. Not one was removed during play. Never was the 3.7cm Flak38 battery spotted using the I/R Recon platoon’s Eyes & Eyes program removing the GTG marker. By turn seven the Flak battery was firing so the GRG marker disappeared. The Sherman platoon has several turns to blast them, even the armored halftrack mortar unit dropped rounds on the gun pits, nothing seems to affect them… the occasional stray for FP destruction failed the American players every time. When they finally opened fire….. the bridge lit up with 37mm shells everywhere to the dismay of the AR platoon caught mid bridge. Finally, the arrival of three heavy panzer platoons sealed the scenario as Sherman steel hulls became funeral pyres.
That a director’s wrap from this movie set in Remagen Hollywood. Time for the film crew to assemble at another historical field and send back a report on the tabletop action.
If interested, the first game or basic Ludendorff – Remagen Bridge 1945 scenario AAR link.