|I don't remember THAT on the list!
This article (War on the Rhine), or a section of this article, is not considered canon until Team Paradox has considered it so.
|War on the Rhine|
|War||World War III|
|Previous||Second Blitz of Germany|
|Next||Invasion of France|
|Date||August 1965 - November 1965|
|Result||Soviets push Allied forces out of Germany entirely;|
Beagle light tank is withdrawn from service
|Soviet Union||Allied Nations|
|• Colonel General Pyotr Y. Kirov †
• Lieutenant General Ivan Ivanov
|• General Karl Hanne|
|• German Front (approx 1.1 million men)
||• German Army (approx 180,000 men)
• 7th Mechanised Peacekeeper Division
• German Air Force
Background[edit | edit source]
The Soviet blitzkrieg campaign had driven back the Germans with astounding speed. Smashed aside by a devastating armoured push by the Soviet forces, the German Army had retreated to the Rhine and the northern parts of Germany, allowing the Soviets to claim the entirety of eastern Germany in the space of three months
Though the Germans had finally managed to halt the Soviet advance at the Rhine, the German Army, battered and bruised as it was, was in no shape to launch a counterattack to push the Soviets back. The German forces were still facing the cream of the Soviet army, and outnumbered roughly five-to-one. Worse still, with Soviets overrunning Czechoslovakia, it was only a matter of time before the Germans faced another incursion along their border and an additional outpouring of forces.
The Soviets had been trying to smash through the German lines at the Rhine for the past five days, with little success, thanks to the natural barrier that the Rhine provided and the heavy expenditure of ammunition. This was about to change, when the Soviets played their newest card...
Force Composition[edit | edit source]
Allied Forces[edit | edit source]
The German Army, caught by the devastating offensive of the Soviet army, had suffered heavy losses in combat against the Soviets. The divisions that had attempted to stop the Soviet army in eastern Germany had either been destroyed or had surrendered. Fortunately, the Germans still held on to the Rhine and the northern parts of Germany, staving off the Soviet assaults. In total, the German forces holding the Rhine comprised 4 Panzergrenadier divisions and 2 Panzer divisions, while the remainder of the German army attempted to hold on to the northern parts of Germany.
The German air force, crippled as it was, had only managed to survive due to the fact that Soviet aircraft, operating in airbases across the German border, were operating at their maximum range. However, the German air force herself didn't have the numbers to fight back, due to sabotage and an intensive Soviet bombing campaign of German airbases.
To bolster the German defence, the Peacekeepers had deployed the 7th Mechanised Peacekeeper Division to Germany. Like other Peacekeeper Divisions, the 7th was a well equipped and well trained mix of armour and infantry with air support. In addition, the 7th Mechanised Peacekeepers had also received a special shipment from Australia weeks prior to the assault; one of the first few batches of the new Multigunner IFVs. Armed with modular weapons systems, the Multigunner could be reconfigured for a multitude of tasks. The war in Germany would be the first test of the Multigunner in combat, and the Peacekeepers had high hopes for it.
Soviet Forces[edit | edit source]
Despite the loss of close to five divisions' worth of troops, the Soviet forces were still substantial, and were able to soak up the losses with their manpower reserves and replenish their combat divisions to almost full manpower.
Of the remaining Soviet force, hundreds of troops had to be detached in order to police the Soviet gains in East Germany, leaving General Kirov with 5 tank divisions and 9 grenadier divisions for the push on the remainder of Germany. Most of the divisions were close to full strength, the Soviets having replenished their divisions with manpower pulled from the conscript army, and with fresh tanks and supplies having arrived over the past few days. General Kirov had ordered six divisions to push north, while the bulk of his forces were supposed to punch west and take the prize that was the Rhine-Ruhr, the German industrial heartland.
However, the ace in the hole for the Soviet forces would be the arrival of some very special reinforcements at the front. While these reinforcements consisted of only two regiments, the 2nd Heavy Tank Regiment was one of the best trained and equipped units in the entire Soviet Union, and they would be the first to get the chance to trial one of the newest and most powerful additions to the Red Army...
The Instruments of Doom[edit | edit source]
On August 8th, 1965, the equipment of the 2nd Heavy Tank Regiment finally arrived at the frontlines. Most of the regiment's personnel had already been transported to the front by Twinblade, and had been waiting for their vehicles to arrive. It would take two more days for everything to be sorted out, however, so the tank crews of the 2nd Heavy Tank Regiment were forced to wait a little longer.
The members of the 2nd were to crew one of the newest and most devastating additions to the Soviet arsenal, something which they had trained for for months - the JS-4 Apocalypse Tank. General Kirov himself intended to take to the field in the regiment's command tank.
So come August 10th, the members of the 2nd Heavy Tank Regiment, all worked up and eager to see battle after the long wait of the past weeks, finally mounted up their brand new tanks and set off in the direction of the Rhine, lead by the column of Apocalypse tanks. The previous Soviet attempt by the 4th Tank Division to break through one week ago had ended disastrously. Now, the Soviets were making another attempt, but this attempt would have very different results. The Apocalypse tanks were first spotted by a single company of the 5th Panzer Division, which was under the overall command of General Karl Hanne.
The Soviets had managed to keep the Allied forces in the dark about the new Apocalypse tanks, such that the Germans first learnt of them when they spotted several massive silhouettes approaching the river bank (though General Hanne was later heard to bitterly remark that ACIN had probably learnt of the Apocalypse Tank's existence months back and merely didn't bother to tell anyone). Very briefly, the German soldiers watched the massive silhouettes, confused. Confusion quickly turned to sheer panic when the Germans realised the silhouettes as belonging to that of Soviet superheavy tanks. Seven Apocalypse tanks rolled forward, all surrounded by crowds of Conscripts cheering on the massive tanks.
Most of the German soldiers--who had never seen the Apocalypse tanks before--though they had of course heard stories about the Soviet superheavy tanks--were reassured and calmed down by the fact that a river separated them and the Apocalypse tanks, and the only usable bridges had been blown to rubble a week ago. The Apocalypse tanks wouldn't be able to get across the river.
This notion, and with it any semblance of order among German ranks, dissapated as the monstrous tanks waded into the river without stopping, using their immense height to ford the river (it was at this point that most of the Soviet crowd dispersed, though some conscripts continued to cheer the Apocalypse tanks on from the river bank). The sight of a dozen 600 ton superheavy tanks driving across the riverbed towards them was enough to make several of the German soldiers to stain their pants and panic. Some of the German soldiers managed to keep their nerve and even took a few shots with their weapons, but to no avail--rockets, bullets, and tank shells alike bounced off the armour of the Apocalypse Tanks--they might as well have been throwing rocks, for all that it mattered.
As soon as they were within firing range, the Apocalypse tanks roared in unison, firing their main guns--and the German tanks on the river bank exploded, struck by the 125mm shells of the Apocalypse tanks' Drakon cannons. With half the company shattered, the rest of the company were ordered to retreat by their commanding officer, a second lieutenant who had worked out that there was no way they could defeat the massive tanks. The Apocalypse tanks rolled ashore, while on the other side Soviet engineers began setting up assault bridges in order to get more forces across, now that the attention of the Germans had been drawn to the immense vehicles that had just crossed the river. A Hawker Spectre airstrike was quickly called down on the Apocalypse tanks--to no avail. The Spectres that had managed to avoid getting shot down by Soviet anti aircraft barely dented the tanks, which just kept going with no sign of stopping.
The next one and a half hours consisted of brutal urban combat between the Germans and the Soviets, as the Apocalypse tanks tore through the German defences, supported by a flood of men and tanks streaming across the hastily erected bridges spanning the Rhine. Several more airstrikes were called down, but heavy air defences shot them down. Though the Germans were well versed in urban warfare, General Hanne's 5th Panzer Division was far from the best choice for such an environment. The German forces attempted to take advantage of the urban area, nonetheless, with Hanne deploying his available infantry platoons to secure buildings through out the city, and having his tanks use the buildings and roads to flank the Soviets. It should have worked; but the Soviets simply steamrolled the German attempts with sheer brute force. With the Apocalypse tanks leading the way, the Soviet tank columns were simply unstoppable. German infantry would unleash a flurry of anti tank rockets at an incoming Apocalypse tank from a garrisoned building; the Apocalypse tank would simply shrug it off and return fire, shattering the structure with massive 125mm shells, or in some cases even simply ploughing through the offending building without so much as slowing down. To make things worse, the Soviet armoured advance was supported by substantial numbers of conscripts, who had been ordered to be liberal in their use of molotov cocktails when clearing buildings of German infantry. Very soon, Hanne found he didn't have enough men or rocket launchers left.
The 5th Panzer's tanks had a few successes, flanking the Soviet vehicles and destroying several before being driven off. The Soviet infantry had the advantage in urban warfare with their superior numbers, and more often than not found German tanks themselves suddenly ambushed by dozens of conscripts tossing molotov cocktails. The German tanks that had the misfortune of running into one of the Apocalypse tanks leading the columns quickly met their end, either blown apart by the mighty Drakon cannons or dragged underneath the Apocalypse tank's treads and crushed.
In addition to the sheer destructive power of the Apocalypse tanks was the effect they were having on the morale of both sides. The things were simply unstoppable; nothing seemed to slow them down, and more than a few German soldiers had surrendered or fled upon seeing the sight of the massive behemoth. On the other hand, the presence of the superheavy tanks had the exact opposite effect on Soviet forces, who fought with far more ferocity than normal. The German defences had been shattered, the 5th Panzer was in disarray, and Soviet forces were continuing to stream across the river.
General Hanne saw the situation was unfavourable. Considering any alternative options before making his final decision, he gave the order for the 5th Panzer Division to enter retreat two hours after the first Apocalypse tank crossed the Rhine, pulling out entirely. Already, the JS-4 Apocalypse Tank had established a reputation for itself exceeding even that of its predecessors--it seemed that nothing could stop these monstrosities.
Death from Above[edit | edit source]
While the Soviet Army dominated on the ground, the Soviet Air Force had been about to execute a plan to break the back of German air power once and for all. Though the German air force had already been weakened in a devastating offensive against airbases throughout Germany, the Soviets had been hampered by a problem--range. Their fighters were operating at the limit of their range, even with drop tanks and minimal weapon loads. Though the Soviets' Badger bombers weren't nearly as limited by range as fighters and ground attack planes, as without fighter escort they would be easy targets for German fighters. Ironically, the aggressive bombing campaign intended to cripple the German air force meant that there were few immediately usable airbases in the German territory that the Soviets had secured, forcing the Soviets to repair or rebuild captured airbases before they could move their own aircraft in.
As such, though the German air force was outnumbered in terms of numbers, they had managed to establish some control of the air after the initial loss of air superiority to the Soviets. As they were operating at a shorter range than the Soviet aircraft, German fighters could dispense with the drop tanks and carry a heavier load of weapons than Soviet fighters could, putting them at an advantage. In addition, the Germans had dispersed a large number of their surviving Hawkers after the initial invasion, having them operate away from German airbases. This made the destruction of the German air force harder to accomplish, even though many Hawkers were still destroyed by Soviet fighters and anti aircraft.
In order to cement Soviet air dominance over Germany, the Soviet air force had deployed the largest aircraft in their inventory to annihilate the remaining German airbases. Though the aircraft that had been dispersed would survive even if their airbases were destroyed, they would have nowhere to refuel or rearm. With that in mind, the Soviets had dispatched their 9th Airship Regiment to Germany.
Consisting of four Kirov Airships, the 9th's mission was extremely simple; obliterate the remaining German airbases. Once that was done, they had discretion to destroy any other "targets of opportunity". In effect, this meant any German military force or base they could find, though the captains of the Kirovs had been ordered to avoid collateral damage where possible.
The Kirovs were first spotted on the 19th of August by a Hawker Spectre that had been on an attack run. The pilot was confused for only a few seconds, before she recognised the bomb racks on the underside of the Kirov for what they were. Quickly, the ground attack plane’s pilot radioed back what she had seen to her home base, before being driven away by the airships’ escorts.
Upon learning of the Kirov Airships and their escorts, the Germans responded by mobilising every available fighter to intercept the inbound zeppelins. Within fifteen minutes, a wing of fighters was on its way to meet the incoming threat, and more fighters were being scrambled. A number were intercepted along the way, falling to Soviet anti-aircraft artillery.
The rest of the fighters managed to get within attack range of the airship fleet, loosing off missiles in volleys and pumping out hundreds of autocannon ammunition. Most of these projectiles simply passed through the envelopes of the airships to no effect, while the Barrage Balloons responded in kind, filling the air with a torrent of lead and sending dozens of fighters spiralling out of the sky. Though a few Barrage Balloons were brought down, all of the Kirov Airships survived, and by the end of the engagement the German air force had taken staggering losses. As the last fighter disengaged, the airship formation split up, each Kirov heading towards their assigned targets.
It wasn’t long before the bomber airships were almost over their targets. German anti-aircraft weaponry spewed forth lead into the skies, once again to little effect. The situation was hopeless for the German air force, as the Kirovs began to unload bomb after bomb on the German air bases in a blinding display of the power of high explosives, reducing the German airbases to smoking, cratered, ruins. By the next day, there was not a single operational airbase under German control.
The Unstoppable Rampage[edit | edit source]
Having successfully broken through the German lines at the Rhine, the Soviet armoured force led by the 2nd Heavy Tank Regiment now manoeuvred south, punching through the German lines with abandon and pincering the German army between them and another Soviet force to the south. With the assault spearheaded by the seemingly invincible Apocalypse tanks, nothing could go wrong for the Soviets. Cities and towns fell one by one, German forces were crushed in the wake of the Soviet advance. Many Germans, upon hearing of the power of the Soviet Apocalypse tanks, folded without firing a single shot, many soldiers unwilling to confront the rumoured power of the monstrosities leading the Soviet forces. With the complete collapse of their air force following the destruction of their last airbases, the German resistance had been pounded by Soviet air and ground power, in addition to having been further demoralised by the appearance of the Kirov Airships. Only the northern parts of Germany held now, with the Soviets wiping out any trace of German forces as they continued to make gains.
Already, two of the six German divisions defending the Rhine had been destroyed while attempting to defend cities from German capture, while a third had been whittled down to almost nothing over the space of several weeks. By late October, the 5th Panzer, 4th Panzergrenadier, and 8th Panzergrenadier Divisions were the only remaining German divisions that had not yet been defeated by the Soviets, but all three divisions had already taken significant casualties in combat. Outnumbered and battle wearied, the remaining German divisions could not hold on and began to withdraw across the German border around the start of November. For this, the Soviets paid the price of two divisions, leaving them with seven divisions to finish off the last of the Allied resistance.
With the retreat of the German army remnants, the last major source of resistance in West Germany was the 7th Mechanised Peacekeeper Division, which fared somewhat better than its German counterparts. Up to this point, the 7th had put up a fierce fight against the Soviet forces, managing to savage several Soviet formations and rack up an impressive enemy kill count. However, now the combined weight of the Soviet invasion force bore down on the 7th. The two forces collided on the 4th of November.
War and Peacekeepers[edit | edit source]
The first shots of the battle were fired by a company of Multigunners from the division’s 3rd Brigade. While scouting ahead of the main force, the Multigunners ran into a Soviet recon company. Successfully setting up an ambush for the enemy recon force, the Multigunners made short work of the opposing company with their missiles, reducing the Soviet vehicles into charred wrecks.
Upon realising that contact had been lost with the recon force, the Soviets immediately called in an artillery barrage, having expected the Multigunners to pull back after successful engagement. However, when the first rocket hit the ground, the Multigunners were nowhere near the target area of the artillery barrage, having sped ahead to further scout out the Soviet capability. They destroyed a few more vehicles before sighting a Soviet armoured column and pulling back. The company’s commanding officer reported what he had seen back to his superior.
The transmission stated briefly that they had spotted a Soviet armoured company consisting of Hammers, led by a JS-4 Apocalypse tank. As with previous engagements, the Soviets had boldly used their formidable Apocalypse tanks to spearhead the attack, rightly believing that the sheer power and demoralising factor of the twin barrelled superheavies would allow them to crush any force that stood in their way.
This time, however, the enemy was prepared. The 7th had several platoons of tank destroyers, designed to destroy Soviet armour. Upon learning of the Apocalypse tank and entourage, one of the tank destroyer platoons was ordered to take up position along the route that the Apocalypse tank was expected to take.
As the armoured company rolled forth to meet a defiant line of Guardian tanks, the Peacekeepers sprung the ambush, as two rainbow-coloured beams of light lanced out towards the Apocalypse tank from a pair of objects that had resembled trees until that point, striking the superheavy’s rear. Unbeknownst to the Soviets, the 7th was in possession of several highly advanced XMTB-66 Mirage Tanks, two of which had just sprung an ambush. The platoon’s Bulldog tank destroyers similarly deactivated their fibre optic camouflage and began emptying rounds into the rear of the Soviet Hammer tanks, while the line of Guardian tanks that had been facing the Soviets earlier now rolled forward, engaging the Soviet Hammers with their 90mm main guns.
Though the Mirage tanks didn’t manage to destroy the tank outright, one of the beams struck the tesla generator located at the back, blowing it to pieces and causing the Apocalypse tank to lurch to a halt.
Inside his command tank, General Kirov angrily wondered why they had suddenly stopped, and lifted up the tank’s hatch to take a look around. He barely got a chance to survey his surroundings before a third spectrum beam struck the Apocalypse tank. By chance, part of the beam refracted off the Apocalypse tank and passed through the space that the general's neck was occupying, cleanly severing it in half
The Peacekeepers now executed their battle plan, the intent being to inflict the maximum possible casualties on the Soviets. Multigunners ran circles around the Soviet forces, hitting them with missile and shotgun fire and retreating whenever the Soviets attempted to respond, while infantry supported Guardian tanks engaged in stand-offs with their Soviet counterparts, and Mirages and Bulldogs mounted repeated ambushes against Soviet forces, changing location each time.
Only with heavy Twinblade support were the Soviets finally able to force the 7th Mechanised Peacekeeper Division back. Having exploited the situation to the fullest, the order was given for the 7th Mechanised Peacekeepers to retreat at 2330 hours, and by midnight the last of the Peacekeepers had withdrawn across the border to Holland. Germany was now in Soviet hands.