Today, Duncan looks at the Hermann Göring Panzer Division, its formation, deployment and recreating it on the table top.
In each of the major branches of the German fighting units, there is one unit that can be view as the premier, or elite, formation; the paragon that was held up by that branch as the pinnacle of its fighting prowess. In the Wehrmacht it’s probably the Grossdeutschland Regiment, in the SS the 1st SS LSSAH and, without question, within the Luftwaffe ground troops it was, in all its incarnations, the Regiment “General Göring”.
Founding & Formation
As we know within the armed forces of the Third Reich in WW2 there were armies within armies and the origins of the Regiment stretch back to 1933 and the creation of, as was the prerogative of the Prussian Minister of the Interior, a new detachment of 14 officers and 400 policemen under the command of Polizeimajor Walther Wecke.
From this kernel of politically reliable recruits, the Regiment “General Göring” grew first to full regimental size, by 1935 – being immediately brought under the control of the Luftwaffe – reaching Panzer Divisional status as Fallschirm-Panzer-Korps Hermann Göring by the end of the war. From its inception, like other politically constructed armed forces, it was always apart from the standard command structure of the army.
Elements from the Regiment General Göring fought in almost every arena in the European theatre from France and Holland, through the Soviet Union and Tunisia and Italy and finally in Poland and East Prussia finally met its destruction around Allersborg and Greding.
Whilst always interested in the desert war in North Africa I’ve never given too much consideration to the fighting in Italy towards
I’ve talked before how I love the freedom that V4 grants to explore units give the framework that the current MW books allows and there was something in the release of Ghost Panzer and conversations with Ben, Mark, Eddie and Lee that made me think maybe, just maybe, Ghost Panzer would give us a way to create a force suitable for the Italian fighting and the Hermann Göring Panzer Divisions involvement.
The Herman Göring Division was formed in 1942 and fought staunchly in the Tunisian campaign finally surrendering in Tunis in May 1943.
With its destruction, including the capture of around 10,000 experienced NCOs and men, of the Hermann Goering Panzer Division in Tunisia. The Reichsmarshall acted swiftly and reconstituted the division in the vicinity of Naples in June. This was formed from a cadre of veterans that made it back from the battlefields of North Africa and new recruits. It was redeployed to the island of Sicily in preparation for the anticipated Allied invasion under “Operation Huskey”.
At this time, in 1943, the Hermann Goering Panzer Division, was a powerful armoured force was comprised of the following units:
- Panzer Regiment Hermann Goering (2
tankand 1 assault gun battalion)
- Panzergrenadier Regiment 1 HG (3 battalions of mechanised infantry)
- Panzergrenadier Regiment 2 HG (3 battalions of mechanised infantry)
- Panzer Aufklarungs Abteilung HG (armoured recce battalion)
Flak RegimentHG (2, later 3, battalions)
ArtillerieRegiment HG (3, later 4, battalions)
PionierBattalion HG (armoured engineers)
And then various signals, repair and workshop and administration units as part of the division.
As one of only two German units in Sicily, the other being the 15th Panzergrenadierdivision, it was more than just the regiments available in Sicily, it was the equipment that they brought with them to the island:
- 43 long-barrelled Panzer III (most likely L or M variants)
- 7 Panzer III N
- 32 long-barrelled Panzer IV tanks (likely early G’s)
- 20 StuGs assault guns
- 9 StuH assault guns
- 17 Tiger I E heavy tanks
So, looking at the options available in Ghost Panzer, along with the 251 and 250 halftracks, these are all easily achievable. So let’s look at the unit types in a little more detail.
Panzer III & IV
These can be used straight out of the Ghost Panzer and the ability for the mixed platoons to include one Panzer III (late 7.5cm, or as we will call it, the Panzer III N) or up to two Panzer IV (late 7.5cm AKA the Panzer IV G) means that we can reflect either reactive Kampfgruppes or battle worn units.
From a modelling perspective it seems as though not many, or if any, vehicles on Sicily were fitted with schürzen that dominates LW so this would be an interesting modelling and painting opportunity to include LW tanks without these protective aprons.
If you are looking at modelling for later on into 1944 there were rules in Fortress Italy to mount concertina wire on Panzer IIIs from the HG Panzer Division units so that again might make a nice hobby project even if there is no
StuG & StuH
Again these can be lifted straight out of the Ghost Panzer book and can include the StuH integrally within the platoon. Again from a modelling perspective leaving schürzen off, some or all, the models
Speaking of which if you want to represent repurposed Italian vehicles (the Germans took over the production facilities of the Semovente and continued to manufacture them post the surrender of Italian forces) you could instead model these as StuG M42 75/34s which would look very cool.
Here you have a choice of using either the Armoured Panzergrenadier Platoon from Ghost Panzer or the Panzergrenadier Platoon from Iron Cross. This gives you the option for a mounted or dismounted Panzergrenadier unit.
On the modelling side
Other Panzergrenadier assets like HMG, Mortar and Infantry Gun Platoons can all be accommodated from either book.
Other Units of Note
If we look to expand some of the options things like Elephants can easily be used to represent Ferdinand’s, again this is more in keeping with the fighting on the Italian mainland, and Marder II and Marder III M can stand in for the Marder 7.62cm Platoons from either book. Brummbars and Hornisse tank destroyers are both catered for in Ghost Panzer and even a Panther or three is an option that could be considered, if Von Mackensen can be persuaded to release them that is!
Next time we will look at pulling together a 100pt force based around the Hermann Goering Panzer Division assets we have brought together here and look at how we might use them in a game of V4.