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Tank Killing

The victim, a T34/76

Obviously this is a job for the professionals. The big anti-tank weapons, or even other tanks. But sometimes they’re not there when you need them and infantry have to do it themselves. Even before the advent of the panzerfaust or similar weapons, German infantry developed techniques for doing this. Finally the German Army wrote them down and made them official.

The Close Anti-Tank Combat Troop

This had three to four men.

  • A troop leader. He had a magnetic charge, a pistol, submachinegun or other automatic weapon, two hand grenades, two twin smoke grenades, smoke bombs and a short spade.
  • The blinder. He had a pistol smoke bombs, two hand grenades, two twin smoke grenades and a short spade.
  • The Destroyer. Pistol, smoke bombs, one magnetic charge, one T mine with anchor hooks with detonator (or a 3kg concentric charge) and he should have three spare detonators. He would also have two hand grenades and a short spade.
  • The Securer. He had a rifle, one magnetic charge, one T mine with anchor hooks with detonator (or a 3kg concentric charge), two hand grenades and a short spade. He was the ‘spare man’, his role was split between the others if there were only three men.

The twin smoke grenades were wired together so you could throw them over the tank barrel and the smoke blinded it wherever it went. Similarly the charges could be placed on the back deck of the tank (better than hoping they stuck to the sides) and even better jammed under the turret. If the worst came to the worst you could always just blow the tracks off.

One advantage the infantry had was the poor visibility afforded to tank crews. Soviet optics were often poor and when you look at the photo at the top, tanks drove with the driver’s hatch open and the commander looking out of his hatch for a good reason. It was the only way they could see where they were going.

If you look below you’ll see a diagram of the tank’s blind spots. I got it from

As you can see there’s quite a lot of dead ground, stretching up to 40m in front and about 20m behind.

The problem we have when we translate this to a wargames table is ‘ground scale.’ In some rules the tank is technically more than 40 yards long. There isn’t room for both tank and attacking infantry in the dead zone. Hell by Daylight has a ground scale of 1 inch = 10 meters.
What I suggest to get round the problem is that you sit your tank on an improvised base that’s the size of a piece of A4 paper. Paint it black to remind you the crew can see nothing, or the same green as your base colour for the aesthetics. But the paper represents the dead ground. Obviously it’s nonsense, massively too big, but it’ll look right and it will ‘work’ in the game. So the minute your tank crew slam shut the hatches, place the tank on the piece of paper.

Playing the Game

The scenario is gears for Hell by Daylight, because I know how the morale system will work. So I can rely on tank crews panicking and closing up the tank even if the player doesn’t want them to. I have no doubt other rule sets will work perfectly well. The scenario can be solo, or multi-player. Ideally if it’s multi-player have the umpire control the T34s.

One side has several T34/76 tanks. I suggest about three per German player. Each has four crew struggling with the ergonomic nightmare which is their vehicle. You can give the Soviets a lot of infantry following on as well. They won’t do anything, they’re there purely to worry the German players.

The German players should have about a platoon, dug in. If you really want to make life interesting have them in a partially built up area. But they’ll have no anti-tank weapons, only one close anti-tank combat troop per player.

The game starts with the tanks rolling forward, supported by their infantry. The tank commanders will all have their hatches open and their heads out. So whilst the driver’s hatch will be shut, visibility is about as good as you can hope for.

I would suggest that the leading German player is told that he can call down artillery on a fixed line, you could even mark it on the wargames table. All he has to do is fire a flare. On move one the Soviet forces should be approaching the line and the player ought to be encouraged to fire his flare. On move two the Soviet forces will hit the line and at that point the artillery will come down. Yes there will be infantry casualties, some tank crews will close up and the tank will go onto the A4 base. But the purpose of the barrage (which will continue for several moves, or until he fires another flare to lift it) is to separate the tanks from their infantry. Until the barrage lifts, the infantry aren’t moving.

The next phase is where German infantry puts the tank commanders under fire, especially with automatic weapons. This should mean that even more of them will drop down into the tank and their vehicle will be placed on the A4 base. You might even hit some of them, they’ll definitely go on their A4 base.

The final phase is where the various players decide they want to attack the tanks with their combat teams. This is where it gets chaotic and distinctly hectic.

Troop Quality

Remember that neither side is composed of supermen.

Soviet tank crews.

Given the casualties the Soviet forces suffered I suggest that the crew could be pretty inexperienced.

You have in the hull the driver and the hull machine gunner (who is assistant driver and also worked the radio if the tank had one.)  

In the turret you have the commander who also aims and fires the main gun, and the loader who has enough problems stopping his own tank maiming him.

I would start off with all four of these Green, but motivation 2. Then roll a d6 for each man, on a 5 or 6 they’re more experienced and count as Normal. If the commander is still Green at the end of this, make him Motivation 3. After all it’s his fault and he’s the one who’ll be blamed when it goes wrong.

German infantry platoon

I would make them Normal 2. If you have any veterans, that’s fine but for each Veteran take two Greens. Experiences which make you Veteran tend to lead to units needing replacements.

The German players should ‘control’ that part of the infantry platoon which is nearest to their combat troop.

The Close Anti-Tank Combat Troop

These tended to be ‘picked men.’ Whether picked because somebody assumed they’d be good at it, or picked because they happened to be in the fox hole nearest the tanks when they attacked is moot.

Still I would suggest that of your four men, you can have one Veteran 2 and three Normal 2. If you want a second Veteran, then you have to take a Green as well.

Winning and losing

Whatever happens it probably won’t be boring. I’ve seen tanks collide, bump into buildings, and shoot down the infantry who were attacking another tank and incidentally kill that tank commander in the hail of poorly aimed fire.

The German player whose combat troop has the most kills is the winner.

At some point the artillery will stop and the Soviet infantry survivors will attack. If you feel the game is too easy, or if as umpire you feel the German players are getting cocky, just stop the artillery and smile gently as the realisation that they are running out of time slowly sinks in.  

If the tanks fall back and break off the attack the German players have also won. After all, they’ve won time and who knows, the professionals might eventually turn up to help.


In case you don’t know them, Hell by Daylight rules are available from Wargames Vault as a pdf for £4.

They’re also available from Amazon in paperback for £9.50, or on Kindle for £4

6 thoughts on “Tank Killing

  1. Wow. I forget how I found this, but it prompted me to buy your “Hell by Daylight” rules and I look forward to trying them. This, and your other scenarios are so inventive and clever, I’m in awe!

    Minor quibble, I think the 40m blind spot is the rear of the tank. No hull MG there and forward set turret would make it hard to aim or look over the engine deck – but no big deal in an amazing scenario I’d never have thought up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The back is certainly the worst but I made it all the way round because apparently the various vision slits weren’t that good. It’s a tricky one.
      Actually you can experiment by setting the T34 further forward on the piece of A4 paper 🙂


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