Golden Journal No. 34:
Back in the final days of the old Avalanche Press, as we flailed for means to keep the company alive, we issued a series of scenario packs for Panzer Grenadier, each consisting of 10 scenarios tied together by a theme. We sold them in both download and print versions, with the latter comb-bound right in our own offices and selling for $9.99.
When we shifted our Golden Journal to a “professional” style, with a color cover and real printing, I figured we could also include 10-scenario sets in many of them and that would give even more value - you’d get that scenario pack plus even more stuff (and real, die-cut-and-silky-smooth playing pieces). Except that I keep writing too much stuff for each Journal, and we can’t fit 10 scenarios into the Journal.
That’s what happened with Golden Journal No. 34: Bron Pancerna; we only had space for four scenarios. Bron Pancerna gives the Polish Army from The Deluge the modern tanks that Poland had on the drawing board but had not put into production at the time of the German invasion. Poland built her own tanks, and also designed them for the most part. What they had in store for the Germans would have vastly outclassed the best of the panzers.
I think we’ll follow up on this Journal with some Premium Content (that is, a Gold-Club-only exclusive download) with 10 more plus some battle games, because the Polish super-tanks are just too cool not to play with.
For now, let’s talk about the scenarios that did fit:
While Germany had been building new tanks and equipping more panzer divisions, the Polish Army had acquired new tanks of its own for its mechanized cavalry brigades. These brigades would have the task of blunting the panzer advances, with tanks designed to meet and defeat those of the invaders.
The 1940 campaign in the West showed that the panzer divisions had nothing to compare to the outstanding Somua S35. In September 1939 they had few tanks that could match the Polish 7TP light tank, and a year later an improved version would have been in service.
The Poles are outnumbered by the hordes of panzers, but those hordes are pretty wimpy next to the new Polish medium tank (the French-designed S35) and their own 9TP light tank. It’s a meeting engagement, and just like the historical scenarios from The Deluge it adds up to Polish quality against German quantity.
Polish defensive doctrine called for immediate counter-attacks against enemy penetrations, something infantry divisions could not accomplish against the panzers in 1939. The mechanized cavalry brigades were to provide that capability, but only one had been established before the September Campaign and it had very few tanks. There would have been more of them, with more tanks, a year later.
In 1939, Polish military intelligence gave the front-line divisions a good idea of where the Germans would attack and with what sort of force. Only in some instances could the Poles make use of that information. With a strong armored force to conduct counter-attacks, the defenders of Poland could have made much more use of that information.
The Germans are on the attack, but the Poles have reinforcements on the way. The cavalry is coming, and this time it has tanks. Better tanks than the German assault guns leading their assault. But there are a lot of Germans; that’s why they call it the “deluge.”
Plains of Poland
While some armies believed that tanks should attack enemy infantry, and enemy tanks should be defeated by anti-tank guns, the Polish Army intended for its own tanks to counter enemy tanks. Polish divisions wielded anti-tank guns to fend off tanks, but then Polish tanks would finish them. That rarely happened in 1939, as Poland had very few tanks, but a strong Polish armored force would have sought out the panzers.
The Polish 14TP, which likely would have weighed in at about half again as much as its stated 14 tons, would have been an outstanding tank, superior to anything in the German inventory in the fall of 1940 (when it would have entered service with the Polish Army). Crewed by Poles defending their country from its ancient enemy, it would have been a deadly opponent.
I wanted the Bron Pancerna set (like some of the bigger expansions) to include some very big scenarios suitable for team play or just really intense one-on-one or one-on-none play. This is one of those scenarios, flinging two battalions’ worth of Polish medium tanks against about the same number of German-manned but Czech-built tanks that actually have a chance of fighting back. Plus a bunch of infantry and stuff running around.
The best German tank of late 1940 was the Panzer III with a 37mm gun; the first models with a 50mm gun would not be delivered until later in the year but could have been rushed forward. The Poles of September 1940 would have met them much larger tanks carrying a 75mm high-velocity gun. It almost doesn’t seem fair. Almost.
The 25TP had its flaws, such as its small turret, but would have been a generation ahead of its time - in the rapid development timeframe of the Second World War, that would have translated to perhaps two years. The Poles likely could not have deployed more than a half-dozen battalions of the 25TP, which probably would not have been enough to change the final result of a war between Poland and Germany.
The Germans are on the attack with their very best tanks, the Panzer III with a 37mm gun and a few with a 50mm gun. The 25TP would have struck them with the force of a T34 with a better gun and better crews. The Germans once again have numbers, but the Poles have the Hammer of the Pole . . . nah, that’s too easy.
And those are the Bron Pancerna scenarios. You can play them, too, if you join the Gold Club. If you don’t, well, you can’t and you’ll be sad.
Click here to join the Gold Club.
See your Gold Club Insider newsletter for ordering information.
Sign up for our newsletter right here. Your info will never be sold or transferred; we'll just use it to update you on new games and new offers.
Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and NASA Journalist in Space finalist, he has published zillions of books, games and articles on historical subjects.
He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children, and his dog Leopold, who is a good dog.