First Battleday March 27, 2004 “Paradise Island” Allies vs. Axis Allies: Eric-Pershing 40 ,Super Pershing Axis: Tiger II (Chi-Ro), Sherman (Ha-Go), Jumbo (Chi-Ro)
The first Pershings were off-loaded on what the men affectionately called “Paradise Island”. It was really no paradise at all, in fact it was miserable, deathly miserable. Perhaps the small Pacific Island name was translated from what the locals called it, or more likely, named for the euphoric feeling soldiers felt before becoming deathly ill from the tropical diseases. Whatever the names’ origin, the men were ecstatic to try out the new ordnance 90mm weapon.
The machines were to be transported to the west side of the island to meet with a supply convoy heading for the new outpost established two months ago. There had not been much activity on the island but the enemy was known to be in hiding and an ambush along the road was not uncommon. There was no way to sneak these new monsters to the west side, as they were louder and larger than Shermans, rolling over dense jungle brush and small trees to either side of the narrow road.
Pershing 40 and Super Pershing 2 were the first to negotiate the narrow rain rutted road pushing through the dense jungle brush. Infantry followed in APC’s and Willys keeping mounted MG’s trained on the dense jungle foliage to either side. As luck would have it, a friendly local from the rice fields, ran toward the convoy shouting and waving his arms. Through an interpreter, the local said the road ahead was blocked and Japanese tanks and infantry were in the area “suppressing resistance”. The interpreter recognized the vehicle descriptions as a few type 89 Chi-Ro medium and a several type 95 Ha-Go light tanks. All things being equal, the Japanese tanks would not be difficult to deal with being generally inferior to Shermans, but the dense jungle made for good hiding and the vicinity of friendly locals made dispatching enemy armor difficult except at close range. Furthermore the maneuverability of the Pershings would be at a severe disadvantage if the convoy became ambushed.
It was decided to head toward the rice fields and engage the enemy at the least populated area of the friendly village. Taking cover amongst the brush and trees, Pershing 40 and Super Pershing 2 camouflaged the turrets with palm branches poking the 90mm out the jungle brush awaiting the enemy from across the fields. Suddenly a rumble could be heard across the rice fields within the jungle beyond. Small trees fell as the enemy snaked their way through the jungle brush. Both Pershings fired at the movement in the jungle. A plume of smoke and later a fire rose up above the trees, one of the enemy AFV’s must have been hit. The pattern of movement diverged from the alerting fire.
The Pershings reloaded as three Ha-Go’s emerged from the brush returning fire from 500 meters. One round landed short, another round bounced harmlessly off the front plate of Super Pershing 2 and one impacted just to the right of Pershing 40, spraying rice plants and mud all over the vehicle. Pershing 40 fired, blowing off the Ha-Go’s turret like a pop-top, sending it splashing down in the rice field 25 meters away. Super Pershing 2 fired at another Ha-Go, leaving a small crater and mangled metal where it once stood. The third Ha-Go retreated into the jungle but not before Super Pershing 2 trained on its approximate location and fired felling many trees in the explosion and no doubt trapping the tank with the downed foliage, if not disabling it completely. Japanese forces halted their advance and took up positions in the jungle.
The Pershings raced to cross the narrow land bridge between rice patties before the Japanese mortars could be set up. The infantry dug in for the expected mortar fire. 50 caliber MG’s raging, Pershing 40 and Super Pershing 2 cut down the front line of jungle brush in an attempt to stall for enough time to get across to the cover of jungle brush before enemy mortars could be positioned. The Japanese returned fire with small caliber MG’s and a few hand grenades causing a fireworks display of sparking ricocheting bullets and shrapnel off the Pershing armor. It sounded like pebbles bouncing off an oil drum from inside the Pershings. Two more Ha-Go’s appeared at the jungle edge firing at Super Pershing 2, the first crossing the land bridge. The enemy’s rounds bounced harmlessly off the mantlet and front armor and Super Pershing 2 returned fire penetrating the front armor of the Ha-Go and exiting the rear before exploding. Pershing 40 could not get a clear shot from behind Super Pershing 2 and continued to follow on the narrow land bridge to the clearing.
Once across the land bridge Pershing 40 split from Super Pershing 2 and entered the dense jungle engaging Japanese armor at close range. The second Ha-Go attempted to ram Super Pershing 2 before it entered the jungle. Upon impact the Ha-Go became partially crushed and was pushed 15 meters into a rice patty. Super Pershing 2 crawled over the crushed Ha-Go but broke its track and a roadwheel, throwing the right track off in doing so. Before the driver realized the damage, Super Pershing 2 spun around with the good track plunging the vehicle into the rice patty becoming stuck.
Two type 89 Chi-Ro’s emerged to engage the immobile Super Pershing 2 and a heavy firefight ensued with the Chi-Ro’s attempting to find a vulnerable spot while Super Pershing 2 attempted to lay a bead on the assailants as they encircled the tank. The Chi-Ro’s pelted the turret gradually fracturing the turret armor, one round by chance penetrated the rear turret destroying the radio gear and starting a small fire. Super Pershing 2 managed one hit to the running gear of one of the Chi-Ro’s disabling it completely but the Chi-Ro continued to fire its small caliber gun. The second Chi-Ro maneuvered to the rear and placed three rounds into the engine deck before a fire erupted. Super Pershing 2 fired one last shot into the turret of the disabled Chi-Ro, KO’ing it before abandoning the their own burning vehicle.
Pershing 40 engaged a Chi-Ro one-on-one in the jungle brush. Both exchanged fire attempting to circle each other. With each pass the tanks would exchange fire hoping to score a hit through the dense brush, visibility was poor and occasionally a glimmer of the enemy turret could be seen and then it was gone. The Pershing tank commander listened for the crackling brush and trees to pinpoint the Chi-Ro before they were found. As Pershing 40 passed for the third time, a round was loosed hitting squarely on the Chi-Ro’s side disabling the running gear and penetrating the side armor. The Chi-Ro was left for dead as Pershing 40 maneuvered to aid disabled Super Pershing 2.
Pershing 40 and the remaining Chi-Ro engaged in a renewed firefight. The Chi-Ro either had some mechanical breakage or sustained minor damage as its mobility was noticeably diminished. Pershing 40 taking advantage of this did not let the vehicle escape as small caliber fire bounced off the mantlet. Pershing 40 passed along side within 100 meters and fired two rounds, one of which penetrated the turret blowing a hole out the other side and a second round ripping an opening between the turret and the hull.
The locals had trapped the last four Ha-Go’s in the jungle with their tank traps while the Americans fought near the rice fields. With the Japanese armor eliminated, the infantry secured the area, once again receiving the praises of the locals. All is well in paradise, for now.
“Back to the Future” - Leo vs. Shadows Leopard 2A6 – Eric Tiger #S33 Tiger #321 - Marty King Tiger #324 Sherman Jumbo Sherman 76mm
“Confirmed hit, target destroyed” reported the field observer to the tank commander. The trials of the Leopard 2A6 were impressive with the 120mm L55 gun penetrating 810mm armor at 2000 meters consistently with tungsten long rod penetrator (LKE II) rounds. The Leopard 2A6 may have the edge, rivaling the best MBT design to date. German ingenuity continued to be well proven.
The crew buttoned up the hatches and proceeded back to base some 15km away from the firing range along the dry dusty steppes. Strict radio silence was ordered in the area for security reasons. The Leo accelerated to cruising speed, the soft suspension bobbing rhythmically with the gently rolling terrain at a good clip of 90km per hour. The 1500 hp power plant easily accelerated the 62-ton machine to speeds greater than safe settings. Days before, the crew had disabled the speed governor allowing the Leo to achieve speeds greater than 72km per hour. The brass will never know of the tinkering, the tank commander thought, we will slow down before reaching the base perimeter.
As luck would have it, a dust storm brewed enveloping terrain and the Leo in swirling black obscuration. This was no concern for the driver as computer aided navigation kept the Leo on course without the need for visual. Nothing out here anyway the driver thought, being 100km from civilization, so the Leo continued at its high rate of speed. Dust storms were not uncommon but the tank commander noted this dust storm was darker and persisted for longer duration than expected. Suddenly a muffled thump originated from outside the vehicle.
Did something hit the Leo? Or, did the Leo hit something else? The early warning system had not been activated, no need, this was a training exercise not a battle situation. So what then, thought the tank commander. The tank commander ordered the vehicle to a stop to evaluate the phenomenon. Creating its own dust cloud, the Leo came to a halt almost throwing the crew out of their seats. Apparently the storm was dissipating, as when the dust cleared the driver vocalized mumblings of trees, smoking debris and ruined buildings. The driver’s voice trailed off to silence…
The tank commander roused him with a kick and ordered the imaging system activated while grabbing the command periscope to see for himself. Indeed there were trees, smoldering debris and remains of burned out buildings across the landscape. Dusk was approaching and the imaging system picked up several signatures other than the smoldering debris. These signatures had shape, a definitive shape, like a vehicle. Coordinates indicated the distance at 2100 meters. “Five mobile targets” the gunner reported from the vehicle’s online target acquisitioning system. “Two targets 3 and 3:30 o’clock, one target 6 o’clock and two at 11:30 and 12 o’clock” the gunner reported, awaiting the order to load. The imaging system failed to match the signature within its database of known AFV’s, which provides data as to vehicle type and possible characteristics like speed, ammo types and range for that vehicle type.
“Shadows” said the gunner, referring to the signature of an unidentifiable target within the imaging database. These signatures were large and bright, emitting radiance like a bon fire, as if there was no attempt to hide the aura. Several muzzle flashes temporarily blinded the imaging display and three impacts were felt, two on the side and one glancing off the RHAe 920mm front armored turret. The composite reactive armor maintained integrity by absorbing and redirecting the brunt of the explosive impact before penetration could occur. After the surprise, the Leo accelerated to cross a nearby bridge in attempt to avoid being cornered by the assailants.
Several shots were exchanged as the Leo propelled itself about the ruins and debris noting the slow creeping advance of the enemy. At 1600 meters the Leo fired penetrating the front armor plate of a Sherman Jumbo as it dipped into a ravine. As the Leo climbed the opposite side, it was met with a barrage of fire from two Tigers 321 and S33 at 2000 meters, a King Tiger 324 at 1500 meters and at 1000 meters a Sherman 76mm and Jumbo. Four rounds pelted the RHAe 620mm outside armor blowing off fragments of composite armor and making pot marks in the track side-skirts. The Leo pumped a well placed round into the turret of King Tiger 324 stalling it as the Leo raced about the enemy flank.
Like hyenas hunting a bull, they slowly encroached attempting to trap the Leo with its back to a chasm. The Leo whipped between the Sherman 76 and Tiger 321 taking a solid hit to the rear turret. The automatic fire suppression system counteracted a small burst on the inside of the turret and the Leo returned fire piercing the Sherman 76 turret, exiting the other side becoming disabled. A temporary power loss occurred as the Leo was hit from the rear by Tiger 321 heavily damaging the rear camera and exhaust ventilation. Another hit glanced off the mantlet from the Jumbo as the auxiliary engines came on-line. The Leo turret spun around firing at Tiger S33 punching a hole in the lower frontal armor while attempting to accelerate to evade the assailants.
Two more rounds from Tiger 321 and King Tiger 324 pelted the turret side decimating what protection was left from the barrage. The internal breach alarms warned the Leo crew of failing armor integrity. The Leo began evasive maneuvers forcing a round into the hull side of Tiger 321 as it flanked slowing the Tiger advance. Again a barrage of fire laid two rounds in the Leo rear shutting the auxiliary engine down, causing a small fire which the activated the extinguishers. The Leo, disabled and moving at a crawl fired imbedding its round into the mantlet of King Tiger 324 fracturing it into several pieces. Before the automatic loader could cycle, a round entered the weakened turret rear.
A short moment later, a secondary explosion within the Leo erupted KO’ing the vehicle.
“Bridge Over Troubled Waters” - Allies vs. Axis Pershing #40 – Eric Tiger I #321 - Marty Sherman ‘Easy Eight’ King Tiger #334 Sherman ‘Jumbo’ Tiger I #S33
The sun was high in the sky and the Allies had made rapid progress inside Germany heading for Berlin the last two weeks. The previous nights Allied air strike laid waste to much of the remaining fortifications where the Axis was dug in. Only a few splintered infantry units and remnants of a couple of panzer divisions were known to be in the area. There were rumors – there were always rumors – that German forces were regrouping for another offensive. The Allies had the difficult task of crossing two rivers with the entire armored division before the Axis could regroup and position for a defense. The first bridge encountered spanned 60 feet across the fast moving river below and was just wide enough for passage one at a time. Pershing 40 spotted as Sherman E8 and Jumbo crossed over with ease. Pershing 40 crossed with care noting the groaning and popping of the protesting bridge under the weight.
The Germans apparently had regrouped throwing together a make shift panzer unit from the remaining vehicles of the two crippled panzer divisions. The Allies met fierce resistance as they advanced toward the second river where a hazard bridge hastily constructed by routed German troops spanned the river some 45 feet. This bridge served as the only passage so the Americans had to face the German resistance. At 1500 meters Jumbo fired two rounds connecting with Tiger 321 on the front right sprocket and the mantlet. Sherman E8 fired once at Tiger S33 lodging its round in the roadwheels. Tiger 321 returned fire hitting the lower hull of the Jumbo fracturing the gear case. Tiger S33 also fired impacting the Jumbo lower hull damaging the right drive. After the exchange Sherman E8 and the Jumbo charged for the bridge before irreparable damage to the bridge could be done by the Axis thereby preventing passage. Jumbo with its drive damaged stalled on the bridge in front of Sherman E8 as the Tigers approached. Sherman E8 proceeded to push disabled Jumbo to the other side of the bridge with some difficulty. Once on the other side Jumbo and Sherman E8 with guns blazing entered a heavy exchange at 1200 meters with Tiger S33 and Tiger 321 who rushed to meet the advancing Allies.
Pershing 40 perched on the ridge, spotted King Tiger 334 attempting to sniper the Shermans on the hazard bridge and began firing upon it at 2000 meters. One round hit squarely on the hull side penetrating. King Tiger 334 disengaged to find its new assailant. King Tiger 334 fired lodging a round into the Pershing 40 mantlet. Pershing 40 moved, repositioned and planted a round against the turret of King Tiger 334 partially penetrating. Meanwhile, Tiger 321 and S33 trained on the Jumbo which now had partial cover of the embankment on the other side of the bridge. The disabled Jumbo and flanking Sherman E8 returned fire pelting the turret of Tiger 321 knocking off fragments until one round penetrated the turret KO’ing the vehicle. At this point the Jumbo became immobile and could not climb the bank that has shielded it from Tiger fire. Sherman E8 now supported by Pershing 40 heading for the bridge pumped a round into Tiger S33. Before Tiger S33 could respond, Pershing 40 planted a round on the turret side penetrating. Even as Tiger S33 erupted in flame it delivered a last round to Sherman E8 partially damaging the engine causing a small fire which the crew summarily extinguished.
Once across the hazard bridge, Pershing 40 and Sherman E8 tracked King Tiger 334 heading for a third bridge across the second river. King Tiger 334 crossed the bridge while out of range from the approaching Allied armor. At 2000 meters engagement began with King Tiger 334 hitting the front armor plate of Pershing 40 leaving a huge gouge. Both Pershing 40 and Sherman E8 fired striking the front armor plate fracturing the weld seams. King Tiger 334 stopped traversing its gun toward Pershing 40. At 1600 meters Sherman E8 spat another round at its partially exposed turret side blowing off track hangers and track links. Just as King Tiger fired, Pershing 40 at 1500 meters propelled another round low into the turret piercing the armpit. The projectile from King Tiger 334 bounced off the front armor and lodged in the mantlet destabilizing the elevation. Sherman E8 flanked King Tiger 334 at pumped a round into the previously damaged turret side penetrating. Smoke began fuming from the turret perforations and a fire ensued KO’ing the vehicle.
The Allies secured the bridges some 5 hours later with no casualties as all damage was repairable.