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"Volkssturm Bataillon in Battlefront WWII" Topic


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Achtung Minen25 Oct 2021 3:53 p.m. PST

I was surprised to see there is no OOB for a Volkssturm Battalion and no cards for their units in BFWWII. How should these formations be organized in BFWWII and what would their cards look like?

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian25 Oct 2021 4:21 p.m. PST

I'd just use a mix of

Infanterie with Panzerschreck GE-044S
MP44/Stg44 Machinepistolen GE-P71
PZ Grenadier GE-P93

And adjust morale accordingly. Otherwise I'd just use the standard Infantry ME

Achtung Minen25 Oct 2021 5:16 p.m. PST

Were they really so well armed? How does that account for this information I found:

In fact there were scarcely enough weapons for the 1st and 2nd Levies, and many militiamen were sent into battle unarmed. The 3rd Levy was not issued weapons, and the 4th Levy were expected to use hunting-rifles or captured firearms. Troops were often only issued a trench-spade for self-defence.

From here: link

The models I have only show the odd MG-08 and occasional Volkssturmgewehr. Other than a healthy amount of Panzerfausts, most of the models have hunting rifles and shotguns. I was planning on making a card that was similar to the Soviet infantry card, perhaps with even worse long range potential.

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP25 Oct 2021 6:47 p.m. PST

VS troops varied a lot. From almost unarmed and useless to as good as regular troops. Some on the Easter Front were very good, they were afraid of what would happen if their homes were over run by the Soviet Union. And some local officials took their responsibilities seriously and early on.
So I would say do what you want with them depending on the scenario you want to play.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek
Bunker Talk blog

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP26 Oct 2021 5:40 a.m. PST

Nice link, Achtung.

Achtung Minen26 Oct 2021 6:02 a.m. PST

Well it's not really a question of their quality but rather about their training and weapons (aka their doctrine, even as that was emergent in practice). I have no problem assigning a discipline rating appropriate to the particular scenario, but I need a card or two that would suitably represent the variety of armaments these units had.

Here are my thoughts so far:

Weapon Ratings vs Troops and Guns
The advice on the BFWWII website for making prototype cards would give a unit with mainly pistols and bolt-action rifles these weapon ratings:

T G sV      [CC] +1, [2] +1, [5] -1, [10] -3

That said, I think there are a few reasons to drop the 10 range band entirely… firstly, some VS units received weapons like the VG-1 which was only sighted for 100 yards max and the sight was not adjustable (100 yards is only range band 5 in BFWWII). Secondly, some units received very little marksmanship training, which would indicate negligible performance at such long distances as range band 10 (being 400 yards). Thirdly, Volkssturm units often had terribly little ammunition… like five clips for their Carcano rifle. Little ammo means even WW1 veterans who could shoot well would not be wasting precious bullets for very long distance shots. Fourthly, range band 10 really should just represent LMG fire and these units rarely had LMGs. Fifthly, the strategy used with Volkssturm seems to have often been very close-ranged ambushes, and thus long-ranged shots would have probably been discouraged (at least for the rifle sections)… of course, who knows how well these units actually maintained proper fire discipline!

Some Volkssturm units would have received cheap but effective weapons like the Volkssturmkarabiner, which would indicate a better effectiveness at range band 5 (perhaps a +0), but these weapons seemed to have been very limited and there would not have usually been more than a couple in each section even when they were available. I think the appropriate weapon rating for Troops and Guns is therefore:

T G sV      [CC] 0, [2] +1, [5] -1

The utility of this is that Volkssturm will not be able to actually destroy an enemy unit outright at range band 5 (without some bonuses, like enfiladed fire, ambush or disordered target). That feels about right. It will also mean that Volkssturm really must be deployed within some amount of concealment in order to have any chance, as they will simply be outranged in the open. In cover, the Volkssturm will not be seen until their weapons are within range (i.e. range band 5).

I think their Close Combat rating should be 0, which means they can win close combat occasionally but they are not as good as regular infantry. Volkssturm did engage in house-to-house combat in several instances and sometimes fought effectively all things considered, which is more than represented by the vagaries of the opposed d10 roll in close combat.

Weapon Ratings vs Vehicles
Volkssturm were famously armed with a variety of Panzerfaust models and supposedly were meant to receive Panzerschrecks as well. The latter seems to be less common… does anyone have further information about that? In any case, it seems that Panzerfausts were both available but also not in limitless supply. Given that many of these weapons were going to the Wehrmacht, I think the guideline in the rulebook OOBs for "up to half of infantry sections" can apply here. Thus in a 12-section Volkssturm Kompanie, you could have up to 6 stands with Panzerfausts. That seems to me like plenty and well-represents the higher end of Panzerfaust supply to the Volkssturm, while allowing the player to take fewer Panzerfaut sections when the scenario calls for that. The Volkssturm had relatively few grenades or close-combat anti-tank weapons, and should otherwise be rated as 0 vs Vehicles when the Panzerfaust is not present.

Thus the weapon ratings vs Vehicles should probably look like:

V           [CC] +0, [2] -2, [5] -3
Panzerfaust [CC] +1, [2] +4, [5] -2

So the total weapon ratings would be:


V [CC] +0, [2] -2, [5] -3
Panzerfaust [CC] +1, [2] +4, [5] -2
T G sV [CC] +0, [2] +1, [5] -1

That might be a little too harsh for the rating, since it effectively makes the Kommandeur card a better fighter in all respects other than the Panzerfaust. The last thing I want to do is encourage players to use their Kommandeur as a frontline fighter, so I may revisit these to bring them more generally in line with a regular team/scout type card. I'd appreciate any input!

As far as heavy weaponry, I think that (when these sorts of weapons were available), they could use the standard cards, even though they were frequently outdated equipment of WW1 vintage or captured foreign weapons with relatively little ammo. Most active Volkssturm battalions seemed to be limited to just the regular rifle sections, but they did occasionally have supporting weapons like medium mortars (sometimes trench mortars), various machineguns, and rarely heavier artillery (although I would imagine this was all under the direction of trained soldiers).

Achtung Minen26 Oct 2021 7:50 a.m. PST

Volkssturm Order of Battle
I've done a little research and apparently, on paper at least, the 1st Levy Volkssturm battalion would have looked a little like this in BFWWII:

Battle Group
Volkssturm Battalion (1st Levy)

HEADQUARTERS ELEMENT

Command
x1 Commander GE-46

MANEUVER ELEMENTS

x3 Volkssturm Companies

ATTACHMENTS

x1 75mm leIG37 Infantry Gun
x3 Panzerschreck GE-51
x3 Heavy Machine Gun GE-50

Organic Fire Support
x3 80 mm Mortar GE-52


MANEUVER ELEMENT
Volkssturm Company

Command
x1 Commander GE-46

x9-12 Volkssturm Sections (a)

ATTACHMENTS

x3 Tank Close Combat Sections (b)
|
Transport
x3 Bicycle GN-01

(a)     May arm up to ½ of infantry with Pzfaust.
(b) Uses the same card as regular Volkssturm and is armed with Pzfaust and transported on bicycles.


Battalion attachments would have been very variable in practice, since provisioning the Volkssturm Battalion was entirely the responsibility of the Gauleiter and whatever he could scrounge from his district. I've based the above on Chris McNab's description of the 1st Levy Battalions in his book. It seems like Fortress (Festung) formations were more likely to get heavier weaponry. For example, of the Volkssturm Festung units formed in 1945, there were apparently eleven 4-company machine-gun battalions and two artillery battalions.

The above is also based on Klaus Mammach's book, which mentions that a TO&E was released in late November 1944 for the organization of 1st Levy Battalions that included a rifle for every soldier, 27 rifle-grenade devices (seemingly 1 for every squad if there are only 3 companies of 3 platoons of 3 sections), 31 light machineguns, 6 heavy machineguns, 6 medium mortars, 3 infantry guns and 6 panzerschreks. Note that Mammach describes this organization as "wishful thinking" given the desperate state of weapon and ammunition shortages in Germany at this time. I've included it above only to be complete, not to actually recommend such an organization be used in full.

Achtung Minen26 Oct 2021 9:04 a.m. PST

Oh that should actually be x9-16 Volkssturm sections (somewhere between 3 platoons of 3 sections each and 4 platoons of 4 sections each). It should be noted that David Yelton mentions in his book on the subject that there were orders (from whom?) that the HJ tank-defense contingents were supposed to be kept out of frontline combat, so their presence in a scenario should perhaps be on the rare side. That said, there is a well-known post-war German semi-autobiographical novel (and then film), Die Brücke, which is about that very subject and that story is set not in Berlin but rather in the middle of no-where, so perhaps it happened more than these supposed orders would suggest.

Achtung Minen26 Oct 2021 9:20 a.m. PST

Nice link, Achtung.

Thanks, but unfortunately it seems that most of the blog's text on the subject was simply plagiarized from Chris McNab's book. Better to read the original source if you want more detail.

Achtung Minen27 Oct 2021 4:19 a.m. PST

Ok I took a revised look at the matter after a bit more research:

PDF link

I took the approach of reusing existing cards for simplicity's sake, with the provision that Volkssturm were almost universally poorly supplied and should be rated as both raw in terms of discipline and have a few further special rules for low ammunition (no firing beyond range 5 and automatically "destroyed" after close combat).

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