Case Blue, Uranus and the End of Army Group South
Guess who’s back? Back again… it’s Mid-War! That’s right having been distracted by all things Late War with Corrivalry and Berlin Soviets my covetous hobby eye has lazily wandered back over to the eastern front and the knife edge that is the end of 1942.
By the end of June 1942, the plans set out by OKW, and OKH, for Case Blue and the occupation of the Caucasus oil fields and capture or neutralisation of Stalingrad to secure their left flank was set. Taking their already materially understrength forces and pushing them further, and faster, than that set out in 1941, seems already farcical but layer on top of that logistical nightmare of a large proportion of Romanian, Hungarian, and Italian troops in the mix and their desperate shortage of motorised transport then the scene is set for the catastrophe for the men of Army Group South that winter.
The initial successes of Case Blue seemed to mimic those of Barborosa just a year, or so, before. Field Marshal Fedor von Bock’s forces smashed the Soviet forces in front of them. Split into two further groups, denuding their strength still further.
Army Group B was comprised of the 2nd Army, the 6th Army, and the 4th Panzer Army. It also had three allied armies, the Italian 8th Army, the 2nd Hungarian, and the 4th Romanian. These forces operated in the northern part of the operational area. Army Group A, under command of Field Marshal Wilhelm List, was comprised of the 17th Army, the 11th Army, and the 1st Panzer Army. It also had the Romanian 3rd Army attached to it.
The allied armies which had few armored or motorized forces and little heavy artillery were being depended on to fill the gaps that the Germans could no longer fill with their own troops. The reliance on these units would prove to be a key factor in the German defeat.
Listening to the fantastic We Have Ways of Making You Talk podcast, and their coverage of Stalingrad inspired me to look again at the troops that valiantly tried to deny the hammer blow that would doom the men of General Friedrich von Paulus in the Kessel of Stalingrad.
A while back I looked at the MW book Hungarian Steel and looked at the various strengths and weaknesses of the book. It reminded me that even back in 2021 I thought that the Hungarians had something – that MW was crying out for the Hungarians to mix things up and change up the pace. Below I’m going to look at two different lists; one where we go all out to find the magic formula for creating a fun and competitive force and the second one to look at bringing to the table an outgunned, underequipped, and heroic force from the 2nd Hungarian army that was so overwhelmed by the forces of Marshal Georgy Zhukov.
Caveat emptor. This is all based on my own thinking and I am NOT a competitive player. I’ve not ranked in events, and I’ve not been to the ETC, but I think that this is a solid force that will be very handy at 100pts.
I think that it is widely known that the MW competitive landscape, has historically, been stuffed with spam; disgusting gelatinous spam. Armoured cars, L6 tankettes, and T26 tanks are all guilty of this crime of reconstituted ham bits and they all share common traits:
- Lightly armoured
- Large formations
The lack of cheap AT, especially amongst infantry units, makes these thinly armoured units troublesome to remove. My answer is to fight fire with fire to an extent but to bring some napalm.
The Hungarian Nimrod is excellent, on paper, at killing light armour. The hitting power of AT7 and a 4+ Firepower and most importantly a Rate of Fire 3 means that FA1 targets, even Careful targets, will take a pasting. Against return fire, the Careful designation will be their greatest defensive asset.
These formations are also super cheap – 14pts for six Nimrods and one Toldi command tank means that you can really tackle those numbers across the battlefield. So, we will start with THREE formations of Nimród Autocannon.
The world is now our lobster. We’ve met the criteria of having at least one legal formation and there are now a number of routes which we could go down. Personally, I decided to add another formation…
Lurking in the command cards is the small, but perfectly formed Assualy Pioneer company. Fortunately, HU702 seems to include the additional figures for the two flame-thrower teams that each platoon needs.
The Nimrods will give you a decent fire platform, so I chose to focus my infantry on taking objectives. The flame throwers are excellent in being able to dig out opposing gun and infantry teams and being 10 strong platoons gives them some sticking power combined with the Careful designation. Again this is another cheap formation in the force and we still have plenty of scope to add some more firepower to our Hungarians.
So, we have light AT and a force dedicated to seeking out opposing objectives and taking them by my reckoning which means we still need some decent artillery and some higher-end AT.
Let’s look at that decent artillery to support our infantry first. Fortunately, the Hungarians have some super options in formation support for this so we will take a battery of each:
The 100mm guns will be familiar to any Italian commander and bring some serious meat to digging out opposing gun and infantry teams – repeat bombardment with a 2+ Firepower is just delightful.
The 80mm I need to source a suitable model for but will add some medium AT bang as well as another decent template. Much like the infamous 25pdr the Rate of Fire 2 and AT8 make for a useful deterrent to light and medium armoured targets. Maybe some captured 76mm Soviet guns might make for a nice modelling opportunity…
Meanwhile, at the high end of AT… well… it’s a struggle. I toyed with including a Stuka to attack TA but that was unreliable and unlike in LW targets like Tigers would be less clustered together as there were even fewer of them in MW. So it was down to AT guns or Panzer IV. I went for Panzers.
Now… this is not high-end AT. It’s just not. AT9 might scratch the side of a Tiger or KV but that is it. This is something that the Axis Allies struggle with in general, and in my other list, it is not something that I am going to even try to address. Here though I think AT9 on a mobile platform will at least keep people honest and the 21pts price means that half my reserves will at least be made up of a single platoon.
As discussed preparing for reserves of 40pts is going to be a bit of a nightmare. Realistically the Panzer IV (short 7.5cm) have to go into reserves as they are the single most expensive unit – and that still means that 19pts needs to be found. I think that having a unit of assault pioneers in reserves is not terrible so that brings us up to needing just 9pts more. I think that this could be made up of some Nimrod platoons to get us there and even then that is 5+ platoons in reserve which is frankly a lot.
Next time we’ll look at creating a force that is ready to be popped like a ripe pimple by the T-34s of the Red Army but until then enjoy a cup of single-origin, cold brew flat white artisan coffee with and ponder more thoughts from the hipster’s beard.