Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Battle of Vodsfjord, 1989

This was the first of what will become a series of games based on 'The War that Never Was' by Michael Palmer. This book is basically a history of a novel about a fictional wargame based on a global war in the late 1980s played by the original protagonists after the end of the cold war. Still with me? Good. When I read this a few years ago I recognised it as a source of suitable WW3 scenarios for toy soldier games. Applying suitable artistic licence I put together the Vodsfjord scenario. Don’t dig out your map of Norway – I made it up.

My scenario assumed that the Soviets (remember them?) had crossed the Norwegian border the previous day and were moving south (from the left on the map) along the E-6 highway. The locale of Vodsfjord (the town is bottom right on the map) is significant as nearby the E-6 crosses the River Vods by bridge (top centre). Clearly securing this crossing would be essential to the speed of the Soviet advance. Also nearby is a small civilian airport (lower left) which was on the Soviet commander’s wish list.

Local Norwegian forces (commanded by John Armatys) consisted of a lorry-mounted battalion of reservists deployed north of the river to protect the crossing. The nearest regular troops were located a couple of hours to the south. The river crossing was also defended by a battery of 40mm AA guns. The Norwegian Air Force was fully occupied further south so the chances of air support looked slim.

Soviet forces consisted of a Motor Rifle Regiment (MRR). It’s Rifle battalions were equipped with MT-LB carriers in place of the wheeled BTR-60 or BTR-70 APCs used in Central Europe. The Tank Battalion had T-62 tanks and the weak Artillery Battalion towed D-30 122mm guns. The Soviet Colonel (Martin Rapier) was also told he had the support of a squadron of SU-24 ‘Fencer’ attack aircraft and the Divisional Tank Battalion (T-80s).

The Army-level Air Assault Brigade had landed a company by parachute the previous evening (this had been tasked with seizing the minor river crossing on the outskirts of Vodsfjord). Two further Para battalions were available to be landed by helicopter (Mi-8 escorted by Mi-28) and Col Rapier had ordered that they secure the southern end of the E-6 bridge while the MRR attacked from the north.

During the game the MRR probed the village north of the river while the engineer company began clearing obstacles from the runway at the airport. Following a succession of morale failures the MRR finally deployed for an assault on the river crossing, aided by the regimental artillery and airstrikes by the Fencers. The Air Assault on the crossing wasn’t helped by the presence of the previously undetected Norwegian AA battery, into the fire of which the surviving Paras leapt from their perforated helicopters.

A further spanner was hurled into the Soviet works by an unexpected strike on the MRR concentration by RAF Buccaneers which had flown all the way from Scotland.

Shortly before the MRR assault went in the second wave of Heli-borne Paras arrived – just in time to meet a column of Norwegian regulars (Infantry in M-113s led my a company of elderly but useful M-24 tanks). So ended the Paras.
When we finally ran out of time we concluded that the MRR would not have been able to force a crossing that day but that a fresh regiment together with divisional engineer assets would probably succeed the following day.


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...


A nice battle report; it was well worth waiting for!


PS. The snowy terrain looks very nice!

Tim Gow said...

The snow hexes are the same set I used for Sgt Pavlov's Dogs a few years ago - they're wearing well!

Wg Cdr Luddite said...

Hmmm. We could use the same terrain for a Narvik game!