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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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The Drive on Zinkiv 1943

The Second World War, Iron Cross, 10mm

Since our last East Front game both Sean 2 and I have been buying a few more toys. He invested in more Panthers, while I opted for SU-85s and a pair of KV-85s. I needed something to deal with his “big cats”, apart from sheer numbers! This game gave us a chance to try these reinforcements out, in a game set in the Ukraine in August 1943. In this, the two Seans played the Germans, while Nick and I took the Soviets. The 6×4 foot table was covered in woods, roads, a river and a village – one of those to the east of Zinkiv, where the roads led south to the key city of Poltava. Although both sides had similar sized forces – around 800 points if anyone cares – the Germans were on the defensive. The Soviet objective was the crossing over the Tashan River, which lay astride a small village.The bridge there had been destroyed, but the river there was fordable.We both divided our forces, with Sean 1 and Nick facing off on one side of the table, and Sean 2 and I on the other. We were attacking from the eastern short table edge, with the ford near the north-western table edge. For some reason the only German infantry on the table were clustered round too farms on the south side of the table, while most of the Soviet ones rode on the back of the T-34s. The aim of course, was to attack at speed and reach the ford. It began well for the Soviets, with Nick deploying his SU-85s on a small hill overlooking the open plain to the east of the village. He then charged down the road with his T-34s, while a smaller force of infantry crept through the woods to the south. The first platoon of Panthers trundled out to counter them, and one was taken out by a lucky shot from one of the Soviet tank destroyers. Urrah! Then though, the fast-moving T-34s started brewing up. Over on the left, Nick’s infantry deployed for an assault on the first of the German-held farms. A spectacular little infantry firefight developed, which ended with the Germans being ejected at bayonet point. In the centre of the table though, the tank drive up the main road had been stopped, thanks to the Stugs on the hill behind the farms, which had a clear line of sight right across the valley. So much for brute strength and numbers. We’d have to try subtlety! This sort of fell into my lap. Over on the right, a small force of T-34s and KV-85s had been advancing through the small copses, until they came within range of a pair of Panthers on the south-eastern side of the village. Clearly any further advance was impossible until they were dealt with. A tank duel began, and it got quite heated for a time. By its end though, one Panther was brewed up, and the other abandoned by its crew. Urrah! This was pretty much won my a single KV-85, which was damaged, but survived. The rest of my T-34s and tiny T-70s spilled forward over a hill, to entered the cover of the woods on the eastern side of the town. In the centre though, Nick did what he could to get things going again, but the real advantage lay with his tank destroyers on the hill, which kept firing away at the remaining three Panthers. One of them, at this crucial point, was finally brewed up. The most annoying Panther on the table was one to the south-east of the village, parked astride the road. it had seen off two of Nick’s T-34s, and was screened from the Soviet tank destroyers by buildings. That’s him in the centre of the picture above, with the two crosses (activation markers). A lot of stuff was firing at it, without much effect, including a pair of T-34s that had  even crossed the ford to fire at its rear from the north side of the river. It led a charmed life. Eventually, I managed to move up Soviet infantry into the village, who prepared to close assault it. Eventually though, the Panther was so damaged that it only needed another little shove to knock it out. That came from one of my T-34s by the river, and that pesky Panther was finally knocked out. That then, was the final straw for the Germans., They were down to just one Panther now, and three Stugs, plus a few infantry squads. In Iron Cross, you have a force morale level, and casualties add to the total until that magic number is reached. That had been reached by the two Seans – Panthers are worth a lot of points. So, the remaining Germans had to withdraw, covered by those three Stugs on the hill. Mind you,. Soviet losses had been quite high too, and there were quite a few burning T-34s on the table at game’s end. Still, they’re dirt cheap compared with “big cats”.

Although Sean 2 and I had played a game with Iron Cross before, Sean 1 and Nick hadn’t. For small-scale stuff, both are fond of 6mm kit, and the Blitzkrieg Commander stable of rules. I find both a bit fussy for my tastes – I prefer the simpler but still challenging approach of Iron Cross, and the detail of 10mm. Still, both of the guys really enjoyed Iron Cross, and seemed keen to play them again. As I said before – Urrah! 


4 Responses “The Drive on Zinkiv 1943”

  1. Sean Page
    27th December 2023 at 6:31 pm

    Despite the fact I was smashed into the ground…it was a grand game. I really do like these rules. You are right, they don’t have the sophistication of the Cold War Commander style, but they certainly make a fast action game which can swing round with the passing of initiative from one player to another. My Panthers are indeed hard to destroy but from my side of the table the rising panic of what seems like hundreds of Soviet tanks continually moving forward is hard to counter. The only option is to retreat to the next defensive line. Which from what I have read, is what happened in reality. Grand game as ever.

    • 27th December 2023 at 11:11 pm

      I imagine, but firing at those behemoths is also an exercise in frustration, as the trade off in tanks is quite high. Still, I’m quite fond of my KV-85s now, which did well on this, their first outing.

  2. 27th December 2023 at 8:18 pm

    Love iron cross, great report Angus. Might try this as a scenario. Love the terrain and figures too. Great stuff

    • 27th December 2023 at 11:08 pm

      We’re newbies to the rules, Martin, but we like the flow of them.
      They make for a very fluid game, and an entertaining one.

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