Battleday November 26, 2004 "Last Strike" Axis vs. Allies
Axis: Allies: Hauptmann Eric - Tiger I #F02 Captain Mike J. - M26 B12 Hauptmann - Sherman M36 First Lt - Super Pershing 2 Unterfeldwebel Cochran - Tiger I #123 First Lt - Sherman Thunderbolt VII Oberleutnant - Tiger I S33
The Jagenkatzen Panzer Division hastily gathered in front of the bombed out Parliament building in Northern Italy on that cold winter morning. Engine exhaust sputtered smoky vapors in the cold air as each Tiger and a captured Sherman rumbled to formation and parked, shutting off their engines, except for one Tiger that choked refusing to quit until it let out its last grumbling breath. The crack unit Jagenkatzen, made up of a captured Sherman and 3 remaining Tiger I’s from the nearby training school were an assortment of late, mid and early variants, all in varying degrees of repair or modification.
The last days were eminent and this brave crew would go up against the very best allied tank Division that had swept through Northern Europe over the past 6 months. Most of these men were experienced tankers from the Russian campaigns or North Africa. They knew their vehicles well, like a soldier knows his rifle, they knew every bolt, every groan and the thunder of firing the 88mm. Maybe it was the exhaustion or that experience told them otherwise but the urgency of the situation left as the men broke ranks for some breakfast, a cigarette and a game of cards.
At the conclusion of cards the men stood laughing, tossing the cards in the dirt and mounted their vehicles. Hauptmann Eric in Tiger I F02 started the engine, Hauptmann in Sherman M36 finished fueling, Unterfeldwebel Cochran in Tiger I 123 checked the radio one last time and Oberleutnant in Tiger I S33 leapt to the commander’s cupola. There was no plan discussed of how to route the entrenched Allies in the bombed out town some 8km distant and no intelligence reports existed of their strength. This lack of detail did not matter to the tank commanders as they instinctively knew the plan and how to deal with an unknown adversary. They had worked as a team before and would again with the available tools at their disposal.
The Allies had a fairly uneventful two weeks with their armor unit rolling into town after much of the softening up had been done by the Allied armor. The conflict had been reduced to occasional isolated pockets of resistance and snipers but largely safe for the Allies to regroup, refuel and re-equip. The majority of the tanks moved on to other targets closer to the heart of the Reich but a staple of Allied tanks and infantry remained as cleanup and maintaining the new outpost for supply lines.
The Allied holding force consisted of two M26 Pershings, one M4 Sherman and a small company of infantry. Since most of the contingent had moved on through the town to the east toward the Rhineland, the best tankers, Captain Mike J. in M26 B12, First Lieutenant in Super Pershing 2 and First Lieutenant in Sherman Thunderbolt VII remained to defend and hold this strategic point for the Allied supply lines and reinforcements. After nearly 500 miles of battle, these tank commanders were veterans of their trade having experienced many armor battles.
The Jagenkatzen division embarked for the town with Hauptmann Eric and Unterfeldwebel Cochran setting up positions at 2000 meters for cover while Hauptmann and Oberleutnant spearheaded an approach to within 1000 meters of the town before encountering resistance. From the edge of town Captain Mike J.’s M26 and First Lieutenant Super Pershing engaged the oncoming Axis force while First Lieutenant Thunderbolt operated as wing man for the Allies. The Pershing of Captain Mike J. took a pounding as two rounds from Tiger and M36 impacted the mantlet and frontal armor. Mike J.’s Pershing responded by firing upon S33 striking the frontal armor.
Mike J.’s Pershing attempted to defend the bridge entrance into town volleying with Tiger and M36 but sustained heavy damage from their concentrated barrage. Super Pershing adding aggressive point support, fired into Tiger damaging the main drive turning his Tiger into a pillbox, while M36 fired upon Super Pershing blasting a hole in the side hull as it scurried amongst the ruins. Mike J.’s Pershing was in severe condition and fired connecting with Tiger a second time before Mike J.’s Pershing erupted in flame from return fire from Tiger and M36. Super Pershing managed a flank and target Tiger because of its immobility and put a round into the turret KO’ing the vehicle before jerking to cover between two damaged buildings.
Thunderbolt acting as wingman in combination with Super Pershing fire was able to KO M36 with well-planned volleys in the open turret. Cochran’s Tiger kept the Thunderbolt at bay from exiting the cover of town while Eric’s Tiger took a large flanking maneuver to enter the West side of town. Super Pershing began long range combat with Cochran’s Tiger striking the lower hull twice causing an engine fire. Cochran’s Tiger then charged the bridge access to the town firing upon Super Pershing sending the mortal blow puncturing the turret sending surviving crew scrambling for cover. Thunderbolt blasted Cochran’s Tiger and stopped it short of crossing the bridge into town whereby the existing engine fire burst out of control forcing Cochran’s crew to abandon before the tank was destroyed.
Eric’s Tiger closed on wavering Thunderbolt firing as it moved. Thunderbolt continued to evade through the bombed out ruins of the city entering alleys just wide enough to penetrate. Eric’s Tiger tagged the side of the partially standing wall sending a spray of bricks and wood splinters over the Thunderbolt. As Eric’s Tiger crossed the bridge into town, it sniped Thunderbolt as it exposed itself to lay aim. The 88 round punctured the left forward side of the turret blowing it off the hull KO’ing the vehicle.
The town was recaptured and the Allied stronghold disrupted as a waypoint for reinforcements and supplies delaying the Allied advance to Germany.