WW2 Campaign: Operation Compass

The 3rd and final new campaign is set in WW2 and based around Operation Compass in December 1940. My original project involving this operation was to play various historical scenarios and although enjoyable enough, as with the other periods felt it would benefit from a campaign setting.

Blitzkrieg Commander IV rules will be used. The ‘Operation Compass’ book by Osprey Publishing helpfully provide an air force orders of battle for both sides. This was a good excuse to include an air warfare element to the campaign using Bag The Hun rules. 

The map I used was taken from the old Avalon Hill game ‘Afrika Korps’. 

I added detail to this including more settlements, roads, tracks and the site of several Italian camps:

Campaign movement rates are pretty much as per the AH rules. The British are heavily outnumbered which would make it supremely difficult in wargame terms to have any chance of victory over the Italians. 

To make it more balanced I had to look at how I could recreate the deficiencies of the Italian army at this stage of the war. Poor leadership, communication and morale with a propensity to surrender en-masse needed to be handled but in such a way that it would not be a pushover for the British.

Within BKCIV rules I made most of the Italians ‘green’ troops with some decent units among them. I gave them a ‘rigid’ tactical doctrine (a smaller command radius) rather than the ‘normal’ as recommended in the army lists. Each battalion would only have one HQ – the battalion HQ. For the British, battalions would be assigned company HQ’s in addition to battalion and an overall higher command rating. And finally, any Italian green troops would automatically surrender if defeated with higher quality troops rolling a dice to determine if they followed suit.

There will be one air combat phase per turn with participants decided on the roll of a dice. The Italians have 18 squadrons split evenly between fighters and bombers to the British 6 squadrons also evenly split. The British have higher quality pilots and planes but will nevertheless be up against it. The consequences of air actions, particularly if either side gains air supremacy, will determine what is available for ground support. Each model will represent 3 aircraft to avoid the need to collect too many more.

Continued –

By way of a prelude and an excuse to try out the new Tiny Wargames sea mat complete with hex grid, I played a small air air combat. This involved 5 Fiat Cr42 Falco biplanes of 10 Gruppo intercepted by 4 Hurricanes of 33 Squadron.

Only a handful of photos were taken with most not coming out well. The sea mat is more blue than in this photo and the aircraft colours are not quite so bright. 

In the game itself the Hurricanes made heavy weather of overcoming the Cr42’s. A shock for them came when an Italian sprog pilot, in his only burst of fire in the game, shredded a Hurricane sending it plunging into the sea along with its pilot. 2 Cr42’s were downed so a victory for the RAF but the attrition rate is bad news. They will need to do better to experience overall success.

Initial dispositions followed broadly that historically immediately prior to the commencement of Operation Compass.

The British plans are also along the lines of that historically with Selby Force striking along the coast and the 7th Armoured Division with the 4th Indian Division delivering a left-hook through the desert.

Although beginning the campaign along historical lines what follows will depend on tabletop events. 

Turn 1 with the advance of the 7th Armoured and 4th Indian Divisions across the desert. Selby Force has made first contact along the coast engaging the Italian 1st Libyan Division at Maktila.

Before playing this action, in the air phase 2 British fighter squadrons have intercepted 3 Italian fighter and 2 bomber squadrons. This will be the subject of the next update for the campaign.

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