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20

Communal Combat Mission: Turn 4

Bridge bravado

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Every year in The Flare Path I run a communal Combat Mission skirmish in which RPS readers attempt to outwit and outfight CM’s decidedly dangerous AI. Turns span 60 seconds and rarely go according to plan. Late-war and Eastern Front, this year’s scrap centres on a German-held Baltic port. It’s been three turns since the commenter-controlled Soviets left their deployment zones, and things are just starting to hot up…

After a turn of nervous indecision the Red Army pushes purposefully northward in turn 4. Men and vehicles make for both of the bridges connecting the southern suburb with the Victory Location-dotted town centre and dock area.

For thirty-three nerve-chafing seconds it appears neither of the crossings are defended then the TONK-TONK-TONK of what sounds like a German AA cannon rudely shatters Soviet illusions. The unidentified Axis gun is firing on one of Ryumin’s recon squads from a redoubt on the end of the new wharf. Quickly spotted and engaged by the hunting SU-76 SPG, the first flurry of 20mm (?) shells isn’t followed by another.

Is the gun knocked-out or merely suppressed? There’s no way of telling at the moment, but the OT-34 flamethrower tank, temporarily halted by the exchange, decides to press on regardless.

As the commenters’ most intimidating AFV noses onto the west bridge something swift and cylindrical drills a neat but thankfully inconsequential hole in its armoured flank.

Though the source of the attack isn’t immediately obvious, a speculative ‘gun sound?’
audio contact icon circa t31 (centre-right in the image above) suggests ‘Flare Path’ was targeted by a unit firing from the eastern side of the battlefield.

Turn 4 ends with the holed OT-34 mid-way across west bridge. Watching its travails are the BA-64B armoured car (w15), Ryumin’s recon platoon (w14, y16) – tired after stealthy movement – and Batrakov, the mortar spotter (y16) – also weary.

In the east, two of Myshkov’s pioneer squads are approaching the house at t27, with Renko, the sniper, not far behind. Myshkov, and the other squad observe their progress from across the river (x26-27), as does the T-34/85 (lurking behind a low wall at w24).

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Tim Stone

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