Panzer Marsch!

“The engine of the Panzer is a weapon just as the main-gun.”

– Heinz Guderian

Today, Duncan looks at constructing your Panzer Divisions for the war on the Eastern front from the new Iron Cross book.

Preamble

Cutting straight to the chase; there is nothing new in the Panzer formations in Iron Cross that you won’t have already seen in Afrika Korps. There, the cat is out of the bag. However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing new to be absorbed for aspiring Rommel’s, Guderian’s and Hoth’s in this new Mid-War volume so ride with me as we look at taking the fight to the Soviet war machine in the east.

Panzers to the left of them, Panzers to the right of them…

Looking at the formations in Iron Cross they are very familiar to existing Panzer commanders but that doesn’t mean that nothing has changed – everything has. The paradigm has shifted utterly with the opposition to the Panzer III and IV moving eastwards and those Panzer have to evolve to meet this new threat.

With the release of Enemy at the Gates as a German player you now need to consistently deal with FA5 or greater and in volume. Previously in MW, the volume came in the form of British Crusaders or Allied Stuarts which could be dealt with by your Panzer III or IV Shorts and the high FA Churchill’s, Grants, Lees and Sherman’s were costly and therefore limited and could be countered with you Panzer III or IV longs in limited numbers. This is, of course, looking at this through the lens of a Panzer lead force without the full AT support of infantry assets. So where does that leave the humble Panzer Company?

Panzers Forward!

So let’s start looking at getting some tracks on the ground and build towards a 100pts list. I’m going to build my force around a Panzer III company and I’ll tell thee for why; the Panzer III Long is one point of AT and firepower less than a Panzer IV Long but for 3 points cheaper per hull. As I explained about I think to counter Soviets you need the volume of punch as much as the high AT. I know this is a real compromise and ultimately they are well balanced and objectively both good choices.

  • Panzer III HQ – 2 x 5cm Long
  • Panzer IV Platoon – 3 x 7.5cm Short
  • Panzer III Mixed Platoon – 1 x 5cm Long, 1 x 5cm Short, 1 x 7.5cm
  • Panzer III Mixed Platoon – 1 x 5cm Long, 1 x 5cm Short, 1 x 7.5cm
  • Panzer II Platoon – 3 x Panzer II

So let me explain what I’ve done here.

Firstly I have tried to maximise the number of core platoons to make the formation as durable as possible. Having discussed the Panzer III Long vs Panzer IV Long above the Mixed Company gives you a variety of tools to take on the Soviets. Secondly the combination of Panzers gives you some options.

The Panzer III 7.5cm gives you AT9 and HEAT to deal with FA6+, the Panzer III 5cm Long gives you a slightly longer range AT9 shot and the Panzer III 5cm Short gives you a cheap(ish) hull and AT7 to help with deal with lighter targets like T-60s. The Panzer III 5cm Short gives you a place to swap Mistaken Target hits to without compromising your high AT output which is always handy.

The Panzer IVs are not there to be heavy tanks. They are there to be mobile, armoured artillery as a core platoon. The 3 guns firing is not as good as a full battery of 10.5cm guns and costs more but cannot be pinned and can take on roaming recce or digging out isolated infantry too behind their FA5 protection.

The Panzer IIs are included to add another platoon, to be annoying and help counter Soviet light armour and exploit the Spearhead move if possible to help get my Panzers where they need to be.

Protze Support

That gives us about 75% of our list so now to round it out with support; this is going to be a single formation force – Panzers aren’t cheap!

I don’t need to consider artillery, as good as the nebelwerfers are, as I’ve included the Panzer IVs already but I’m sure there is mileage to be had by including them; things like smoke and the ability to include an observer, for example.

  • 7.5cm Tank Hunter Platoon
  • 8cm Heavy AA Platoon

Now this may seem an odd inclusion but bear with me. The 7.5cm Tank Hunter Platoon (AKA the PAK40s) are to sit on an objective that needs guarding or for things like Ambush etc.

I love me a single 88 – it causes so many headaches as your opponent has to deal with it. I could’ve added another 7.5cm gun but then all my eggs are in one basket. The single 88 means it never has to take a Unit Last Stand, as it is one gun, and give me the ability to split my heavy AT guns.

The other consideration is Shturmovik is a thing now. Reliably killing a plane when it does roll a dreaded 1 may be critical and the 40” range means something should always be a target for you.

The other alternative that I was toying with was trying to jam in a full platoon of StuG 7.5cm Long as they are really handy and cool models but they are super expensive (like Tiger expensive!).

Final Thoughts

This army is going to have to stay mobile and use terrain well to keep those Panzers away from the majority of the Soviet firepower – trying to go toe-to-toe is probably going to get your hatches blown off – so use your positioning and Movement Orders to the fullest. Try and concentrate on something and eliminate it. Taking one KV-1 here, one T-34 there is not going to stop your opponent if they plant their foot on the accelerator and jam those hordes of tanks right at you.

So there you have it, small, fragile but looks a lot of fun to play! I hope this gives you some food for thought on how to compile your own medium Panzer force… well until Ghost Panzers appears that is…

 

 

Category: Eastern FrontGermansRambling

3 comments

  1. As an owner of a DAK Panzer Force, I have to admit that I’m very dismayed by the prospects of my force moving forward.

    I don’t want to run German Infantry, in any major way. One platoon as a part of a Kampfgruppe is OK, but I’m not running a full formation of German Infantry. This is a personal choice.

    I want to run “iconic” tanks. Panzer III, Panzer IV, Panther, Tiger.

    Panzer III’s pack too light of a punch to deal with FA 6. Even with the AP 9 guns, the terrible FP rating of the 5cm KWK doesn’t put down enemy tanks. I suppose, given that the PZ3 was retired for this reason I could accept low lethality of the tanks, but 7 points a hill for AP 9 guns adds up quickly. I can’t get the number of Panzer III’s on the table to be a “flank hitting force”.

    Panzer IV’s at 10 points a hull for the “long” F2’s increase the lethality thanks to AP 10 and FP 3, but now it suffers in the survivability category. FA 5 with AP 9 being common in allied forces for a Red/Blue match doesn’t last long, seeing a full 10% of my force taken out with each loss. I assume that “Ghost Panzer” will bring us at least Panzer IV G’s and maybe H’s, which bring better armor and a higher cost. If I struggle to bring them at 10 points a hull, I’m not giddy about paying 11+.

    We also know Panthers are coming in Ghost Panzers. But how many of these am I bringing to the table? Assuming no major changes from the 10/5/2 profile of the Aus G and 7.5 KwK 42 with AT 14 and FP 3, how are these going to be a force? Perhaps there will be a hit on 4+ and/or some lower skills to save on some points, but when a Tiger is 29 points a hull, where is a Panther going to land and still be plausible on the game table.

    1. Hi Bob,

      I understand where you are coming from – medium Panzers have always struggled a bit, but it’s not all doom and gloom. The best armour is still the 4+ to hit and you really have a maximise the terrain, but your an old hand so I don’t need to tell you that!

      We’ll have to see what Ghost Panzers brings but there is certainly some challenges running Panzer III/IVs.

      – Dunc

  2. Nice article. German Panzer has always struggled in MW, that was the same in V2, V3 and now also in V4. You pay premium for any descent AT/FP and probably end up with to few panzers to relay matter.

    IMHO the solution is not to get premium panzers, but go normal Panzer (4x Panzer III (short 5cm) (20 pts) ) to get a solid cor, and then take the AT assets in support, in Afrika that’s Marder 76,2mm.

    The other solution is simply to take infantry and boost with AT, Marders (not StuG as they were way to expensive in V3), and perhabs add one Panzer platoon as mobile local reserves.

    On another note, I cant se the 3 Panzer platoons work on the Ostfront, way to many AT guns, 3 tank platoons, are simply to fragile in V4. One Kill one bailed = ULS test 🙁

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Article by: Duncan Gosling