Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie

Atlantik Wall

Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie
Field Manual

This field manual focuses on the effectiveness of a Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie (mechanised company) from the Panzer Lehr Division, as it was deployed in the Normandy campaign. The Germans created this division as the ideal example of an armoured division.  It had the latest equipment and its men were experienced, many of them veterans of years of armoured combat and former instructors from the various military training schools.  A company from Panzer Lehr is to be respected and feared on the battlefields of Western Europe.

The Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie is rated Confident Veteran and has a very broad range of choices in both weapon and support platoons.  One of the support options available to this company is a Schwere SS-Panzer Platoon and its formidable Tiger 1E tanks, rated Fearless Veteran.

 

The first section of the manual looks at the weapons available to the company and gives a brief analysis of their comparative capability.  It also provides an overview of the structure of the company and any special rules or options that may affect its fighting ability.
Colour
Meaning
Best Best in this role
Good Good in this role
OK OK in this role
Poor Poor in this role
Bad Terrible in this role
The remainder of the manual discusses tactics in attack, assault and defensive situations.

The weapons and artillery analyses use a colour coding to indicate the relative capabilities of each weapon on the following scale.

The comparisons are between weapons performing in the given role, not between roles for the same weapon. This means for instance that the 7.5cm KwK42 tank gun on a Panther tank is better than the 7.5cm KwK40 medium tank gun on a Panzer IV tank against heavy tanks.
On the other hand, it does not mean that a Panther tank’s 7.5cm KwK42 gun is better against medium tanks than against light tanks. In this case all that can be understood from those ratings is that the Panther tank’s 7.5cm KwK42 gun is one of the better weapons against light tanks, but there are better weapons, such as the Sd Kfz 7/2, that are more effective against light tanks. Panther A

Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie Tanks, Tank Hunters and Assault Guns

The Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie has a broad range of armoured vehicles to choose from but can only select one platoon of from this group and if it does so, it can’t take an Anti-tank Gun Platoon.  The company can even take a Tiger II, an unusual option in the Radio-Control Tank Platoon, which consists of a single, very unreliable vehicle with thick armour and a very big gun!

The benefits of this wide choice of vehicles are discussed in more detail in the tactics sections below.

Target
Tiger II Tiger Ie Panzer IV H Panther A StuG III G JgPz IV Grille H Panzer III OP1
Dual Purpose
               
Mobility
Bad Good Good Best Good Good Good OK
Protection
Best Good OK Good OK OK Poor Poor
Range
Best Best Good Good Good Good Poor Poor
Infantry
Good Good Good Good OK OK Poor OK
Dug-in Infantry & Guns
Good Good Good Good Good Good OK Bad
Unarmoured Vehicles
Good Good Good Good OK OK Poor OK
Light Tanks
OK OK OK OK OK OK Poor Bad
Medium Tanks
Good Good OK Good OK OK Poor Bad
Heavy Tanks
Good OK Poor OK Poor Poor Poor Bad

1 The Panzer III OP only has a single MG 

Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie Vehicles

The Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie has one of the most varied ranges of vehicles of any company in Flames of War.  Most of these are armoured, or have the option to add armour to give them protection against infantry and lighter Anti-tank guns.  Though their armour is flimsy, gun armed vehicles placed in good cover and with their Veteran status, can be very hard to hit. The armoured transports can move your infantry forward quickly in an assault or rapidly bring on reserves as a defender.

Target
Sd Kfz
251/1 &  7
Sd Kfz 251/10
3.7cm PaK36
Sd Kfz 251/11
2.8cm PZB41
Sd Kfz 251/16 (Flamm) Sd Kfz 250/9 Sd Kfz 234/2
5cm KwK39
Sd Kfz 7/2
3.7cm
Sd Kfz 7/2
3.7cm
Armoured
Sd Kfz 10/5
2cm 
Dual Purpose
        AA1   AA AA AA
Mobility
OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OK OK
Protection
Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor Bad Poor Poor
Range
Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor
Infantry
OK OK OK Best OK Good Good Good Good
Dug-in Infantry & Guns
Bad OK Poor Best Poor OK Best Best Good
Unarmoured Vehicles OK OK OK Best OK Good Good Good Good
Light Tanks
Bad Poor OK Poor OK OK Good Good OK
Medium Tanks
Bad Bad Bad Poor Bad Poor Bad Bad Bad
Heavy Tanks
Bad Bad Bad Poor Bad Bad Bad Bad Bad

1 Self defence only
2
The flamethrower negates the dug in status and is the same as if the infantry was in the open or the guns had no shields.

Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie Guns and Infantry

The infantry and guns of the Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie comprise the best the German army can offer.  Backed up by the pioneers from the Panzerpioneerkompanie with their explosives and the deadly Goliath (a support option), this force is very tough in the defence against all types of enemy.  In the attack, the pioneers with their flamethrowers will terrorise your enemies and pin them in their foxholes for the assault.

Target
MG team Command
SMG Panzerfaust team
Tank-hunter
team (Panzerschreck)
MG 42
HMG
7.5cm PaK 401 8.8cm FlaK35 8.8cm FlaK35
large crew
Dual Purpose
          AA/AT AA/AT 
Mobility
OK Good OK OK Poor Poor Poor
Protection
OK OK OK Bad Poor Poor Poor
Range
Poor Bad Bad OK Good Best Best
Infantry
OK OK OK Best Poor Poor OK
Dug-in Infantry & Guns
Bad Poor Poor OK Good Best Best
Unarmoured Vehicles OK OK OK Best Poor Poor OK
Light Tanks
Bad Poor OK Poor OK OK Best
Medium Tanks
Bad Poor OK Bad OK Good Best
Heavy Tanks
Bad Poor Poor Bad OK OK Good

1 Can also be taken as an option with a rocket launcher battery. 

Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie Artillery

The artillery of the Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie brings a good range of weapons from the efficient 8cm mortar to the deadly barrages of the Nebelwerfer rocket launchers. If attacked, the 10.5cm armed Gun Teams and the Wespe can also effectively defend themselves with direct fire against enemy tanks. The Rocket Launcher platoons can add an optional 7.5cm Anti-tank Gun to give them very effective protection against enemy armour.

Target
Sd Kfz 251/2
8cm Mortar
12cm Mortar Sd Kfz 251/1
(Stuka)
Wespe 10.5cm leFH18 howtizer 15cm NW41 Rocket Launcher Panzerwerfer 42
Rocket launcher
Grille H1
Dual Purpose
Art  Art Art Art Art Art Art  Art
Mobility
OK OK OK Good Poor Poor OK Good
Protection
Poor Bad Poor Poor Bad Bad Poor Poor
Range
Poor OK Poor Good Good Good Good OK
Infantry
Good Good Good OK OK Good Good OK
Dug-in Infantry & Guns
Bad Good Best OK OK OK OK Best
Unarmoured Vehicles Good Good Good OK OK Good Good OK
Light Tanks
Bad OK Good OK OK Poor Poor Good
Medium Tanks
Bad Poor Good OK OK Poor Poor Good
Heavy Tanks
Bad Poor OK OK OK Poor Poor Good

1 Also listed under “tanks” for its direct fire values.  The Grille H comes in a unit of 2, so though it is a very effective weapon, re-rolling successful rolls to hit reduce its effectiveness on the battlefield.

Tactics in the Attack

The Gepanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie is a Mechanised Company. This means in most scenarios it will usually defend against a Tank Company, attack against an Infantry Company and roll off to see who attacks against another mechanised company.  Overall it is likely to spend half its time attacking and half defending and fortunately it is very capable of both.

Panzer Lehr Panzergrenadiers

The core of your force will be 2 or 3 platoons of Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers. Compared to standard Grenadiers, as covered in the Festung Europa book, they are expensive at over twice the cost.  However, the Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers have their own half-tracks, are MG teams with a rate of fire (ROF) of three, have three Panzerschreck teams and a platoon strength of ten compared to the standard Grenadiers with Rifle/MG with a ROF of two, no anti-tank teams and a platoon strength of seven.

In the attack this gives the Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers the ability to use their half-tracks to advance quickly and have a good chance of pinning the enemy with their own fire.  The unit strength of ten gives them a good chance of fighting a prolonged combat and still being over half strength.  Why is this important? 

If a platoon falls below half strength during an assault it must check its platoon motivation at the conclusion of the combat.   

Panzer Lehr Panzergrenadiers

If they are under half strength there is a chance of failing a motivation check and being removed from the game.  As the Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers are rated Confident (4+ to pass a motivation check), there is a s 50/50 chance of failing this test. 

Often normal Grenadiers can win assaults but with only seven in the platoon often fall below half strength through casualties and then fail their motivation check, leaving the enemy to retake the position unopposed next turn.  The Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers are far less likely to do this and will tend to remain on the position and should they choose to do so, dig in.  With their potent firepower and anti-tank weapons they will generally be successful in holding off attempts to retake the position by either infantry or armour. 

So, the tactical challenge is how best to support these dangerous, but in points cost, expensive troops?  One of the first lessons learned in Flames of War is the importance of pinning your enemy. In most scenarios when the Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers are attacking the enemy will be dug in making it difficult for the infantry to hit them and, with their weak firepower rating, even harder to kill them.  The answer, of course, is artillery.

Sd Kfz 251/10 Once ranged in artillery can hit anything under the artillery template, with a single hit automatically pinning the target. They usually have sufficient firepower to kill dug in teams as well.  With the assumption that the primary targets will be dug in, artillery such as the 12cm mortar and the rocket launchers are very effective and don’t use too many points.  On the other hand the 10.5cm platoon has a staff team, which allows you to hit the same target again without ranging in, a distinct advantage against targets that are hard to spot like dug in Veteran infantry that have Gone to Ground.

With your artillery pounding the enemy and the Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers advancing one thing can really upset your plans: enemy tanks.  Fortunately the Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers can call on the very best German industry can provide, from the Tiger 1E, to the Wehrmacht’s workhorse the Panzer IV H.  All these tanks have guns that can pierce the majority of enemy armour at long range and are equally useful blasting dug in troops out of their trenches.  You will only be able to take a single platoon so choose wisely.  Panthers and Tiger 1Es are deadly, but they will cost nearly twice as much as the same number of Panzer IVs.  A surprise choice could be the Radio-control Tank Platoon, costing only a little more than the Panzer IVs, each Stug G has its own radio controlled Borward IV demolition carrier containing 500kg of explosives!  Now that will blast infantry out of their trenches.

If rockets are your fancy consider taking a platoon from the Panzerpionierkompanie, as they can upgrade their halftracks to Sd Kfz 251/1 (Stukas) with their single devastating rocket attack.  The pioneers also have Tank Assault 4 and the ability to replace one team per squad with a flamethrower, which like artillery is very useful to pin and damage dug in troops.  If you like infantry, these are possibly a better option than a third platoon or Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers, particularly when assaulting.

Clearly there are almost endless combinations possible; the main thing to remember is to have units to support the attack of your infantry and tanks to deal with enemy armour. 

Stuka zu Fuss
Tactics in Assaults

As covered above the Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers will need support to carry out their assaults. In most scenarios the defender will have half their platoons off the table.  This can allow the Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers to use their halftracks to get into assault range quickly.  Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers have the “mounted assault” rule that allows them to stay in their half-tracks when they attack.  This needs to be used with care, as an enemy only needs five hits to pin your half-tracks making them and their teams very vulnerable in the next turn.  Most of the time you will use the half-tracks to get the infantry into a position where they have cover and can dismount within assault range of the enemy in their next turn.  While you advance the artillery should concentrate their fire to pin the platoons you intend to assault while the tanks sit back providing long range fire support and ready to engage any enemy tanks that emerge.  
Panther A In scenarios that allow ambushes you need to consider how to minimise the risks.  Having your Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier platoon ambushed at close range by four 6pdrs is not going to be fun and not a lot of fun for your tanks either.  One way to reduce the risk of ambush, or at least keep it as far away as possible, is to employ the very inexpensive Armoured Car Patrol.  

It’s vehicles will make it harder for the enemy to ambush, as an ambush cannot be revealed under eight inches from a reconnaissance vehicle. In addition the platoon can reveal another enemy platoon with 16 inches which results in the enemy platoon losing its Gone to Ground status.  This will significantly improve your chances of pinning the enemy.  The light vehicles of the Armoured Car Patrol should not be underestimated and can play a significant part in a successful attack.

Example:  A British Rifle platoon is dug in and has not fired in the previous turn.  Your Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers have moved up to assault range but their firing will need rolls of six to hit (Veterans 4+, +1 for Concealed, +1 for Gone to Ground).  The Armoured Car Patrol sixteen inches away has not moved this turn, fired or assaulted and is not pinned down (it must also have line of sight).  It reveals the British Rifle Platoon who loses its Gone to Ground status.  Now the Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers need five or more to hit, doubling its chances of pinning the enemy.  The enemy also loses the Gone to Ground status for any other firing at them this turn.

Next is the assault, if everyone’s done their job the enemy should be pinned and defensive fire ineffective.  Just in case, it’s best to have two platoons ready to assault rather than one.  If you have taken the pioneers this is where they pay off as their flamethrowers not only pin on a single hit but also remove all benefits of being dug in.  Organising your troops is important to try and preserve your anti-tank teams, so have your MG teams in the front rank. 

Panzer Lehr Panzergrenadiers

Though you must attack the nearest enemy try to set up the teams so you can make sure you reach valuable enemy teams such as machine gun, anti-tank and command teams.  If this assault is for a vital position, such as a mission objective, make sure your company commander is in a position to join in and give that critical re-roll on any motivation checks.  He doesn’t have to be in the front rank just within command distance, which is six inches for Veterans.  You want him to help not get killed! 

Once you have driven off the enemy you can consolidate.  If the assault was to take the objective you may well be able to dig in next turn.  Your MG teams and Panzershrecks make counter attacks very difficult for the enemy. 

Panzer Lehr Panzergrenadier Panzerschreck team

Tactics in the Defence

If Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers are good in the attack, they are formidable in the defensive role.

The infantry platoons will start most scenarios dug in and with 10 teams (three of them with Panzerschreks), they will be very difficult to shift by any attackers. In addition you can take the Armoured Heavy Platoon, which can deploy its HMG sections with the infantry while having the option of a Gun and/or Mortar Section to come on from reserve. 

This is a key consideration in a defensive battle where you will normally have to bring on half your platoons from reserve. Units like the Armoured Heavy Platoon that can deploy some of their sections and still count as a reserve platoon are very useful. Also being mounted on half-tracks their guns or mortars can come into action very quickly when they do arrive.

You need to support your infantry with artillery and armour in the defensive role much as you do in the attack.  As with attacking you are spoilt for choice, with options such as being able to use the Wespe and Maultier mounted rockets to manoeuvre away from attackers or drive on and get into action the next turn as reserves. Alternatively you can dig in the artillery as part of the defence place safely behind your defending infantry. With your choice of tanks you need to consider the same issues as attacking however mobility will not be such an issue (as with the Slow Tiger 1E) as the enemy is likely to be close when your reserves arrive. 

Another consideration for the defender is which of the platoons to place in ambush.  In most scenarios you will be allowed to place one or more platoons in ambush. This is an excellent way to seed fear and doubt into the attacker giving more time for your reserves to arrive.  The main thing to consider is how to increase the “fear factor” and the answer is always picking something that sounds scary, or even better is scary. There are 3 main ambush candidates for some serious fear for your opponents.

1. A full strength Heavy Anti-aircraft Platoon of 88’s with large crews giving 9 shots from ambush.  Ideally these will be in cover and dug in allowing a short range ambush against enemy forces.  One round of shooting can wipe out a whole platoon of enemy tanks. 
Panzer Lehr Panzergrenadier Panzerschreck team

2. A Radio-control Tank Platoon of 3 Stug Gs and their Borgward IV demolition carriers. The combination of 6 shots from the Stug Gs 7.5cm gun and the 3 demolition carriers has to be a concern for any attacker and unlike the 88s the Stugs can drive away easily, with luck, in their Stormtrooper move and be safe from harm!

3. Königstiger: it doesn’t get any scarier than this. The unusual option for the Radio-control Tank Platoon is to take a very unreliable Königstiger without a Borgward IV. If it moves it has a one in three chance of breaking down but why would you move?  Set up in cover with a good view of the battlefield this one vehicle can deny a flank to the enemy on its own.  With front armour of fourteen and a gun with an anti-tank rating of sixteen this is a very scary ambush proposition. 

Tiger II

It also gives you the chance to use that very cool Porsche Turret that you won’t need later in the war!

The Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers is spoilt for choice in its defending options; the main difficulty will be deciding what to have on the table and what in reserve.  The good news is that your reserves are more mobile than most other comparable forces in the game.

Summary

The Gepanzerte Panzergrenadiers is a highly flexible force that can be set up to suit just about any player’s preferences.  It’s also a force you are unlikely to get bored with as it can be varied in so many ways and can also provide the majority of the units you need to create a Panzerpioneerkompanie.  It is unusual for an infantry force, in that it is as capable in the attack as in the defence.  Due to its elite organisation platoons are expensive in points and need to be used wisely but used well they can deliver devastating firepower and aggressive assaults.  So it’s time to get out there and lead the best formation that the Wehrmacht can offer in the late war period!

Mike Allen