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Panzer Grenadier: Divisione Corazzata
Developer's Preview

By Doug McNair
June 2012

Divisione Corazzata is a Panzer Grenadier module that focuses on Italian medium and heavy tank designs that were never built but could have made a difference on the battlefield. The module includes ten new scenarios, and uses maps and counters from Desert Rats, Afrika Korps, Eastern Front, Road to Berlin, Fronte Russo, Battle of the Bulge and Elsenborn Ridge.

Most importantly, itís the first Panzer Grenadier product to use the alternative history Italian tank pieces from the Gold Club counter sheet #2. These latter units give Italian armored formations a much better chance against their Allied counterparts, and allow the Italian player to be a lot more aggressive on the battlefield.

Below is a quick preview of all ten scenarios with commentary by me. We hope you enjoy them!

Scenario One
First Tanks
June 1940

Italy went to war with two of its three armored divisions still using the World War One-era Fiat 3000 (now styled the L5) as a main battle tank. Other nations also fielded the very similar Renault FT-17, but that did not make it any more suited to the modern battlefield. Had Italy deployed for an advance into Egypt before formally declaring war, it's likely that this relic would have seen front-line combat.

Note: This scenario uses a map and pieces from Desert Rats, British tank pieces from Afrika Korps and Italian tank pieces from Gold Club Counter Sheet #2 (2007).

Developerís Commentary

This scenario is an attack down a road, with the Italians winning by clearing the road and the Indians winning by holding it. This gives the L5s far greater mobility and will let them work with the Bersaglieri in combined arms assaults on roadblocks. It also lets the outnumbered Indian infantry defend a much more limited area, rather than trying to keep Italian motorcycle units from penetrating a long line of trenches.

Scenario Two
Po Valley
June 1941

The Pact of Steel, signed in May 1939, bound Germany and Italy in military, diplomatic and economic cooperation. Usually its terms were only followed when one side or the other saw a momentary advantage, and the two countries remained uneasy allies despite their similar political ideologies. Prior to the pact, Italy stationed its armored divisions in the Po Valley where they could strike at or repel attacks from any of the fascist state's three mostly likely enemies: France, Yugoslavia or Germany.

Note: This scenario uses boards from Eastern Front and Road to Berlin, Italian pieces from Desert Rats, Fronte Russo and the Gold Club 2007 counter sheet, and German pieces from Eastern Front. Only use Italian leaders from Desert Rats.

Developerís Commentary

Here the armies of Italy defend against a German invasion, with Italian P26 and M13 tanks providing much of the stopping power. The Italians are outnumbered but theyíve got plenty of defensible terrain to work with; a significant departure from the usual tactical situations they deal with in North Africa and Russia.

Scenario Three
A Strong Armored Component
August 1941

When Benito Mussolini ordered an Italian Expeditionary Corps assembled for service on the Eastern Front, he expressed a desire that it include "a strong armored component." None of Italy's three armored divisions were available; all were fighting in North Africa or awaiting new tanks in Italy. Had Mussolini's wish come true, Italy's carristi would have had a great challenge to overcome.

Note: This scenario uses a board from Road to Berlin, boards and pieces from Eastern Front, and pieces from Desert Rats, Fronte Russo and the Gold Club 2007 counter sheet. Only use Italian leaders from Desert Rats.

Developerís Commentary

This is a straightforward meeting engagement where Mussoliniís army in Russia gets some serious armor support. But the Red Armyís showpiece 34th Tank Brigade is still superior to the Italians on everything but morale, leader quality and average AT firepower per unit. The Italians have some air support, but they will still have a tough fight on their hands against the Soviet T35 and KV-1 tanks.

Scenario Four
Il Martello del Proletariato
August 1941

The Soviet 12th Tank Division had a good complement of new T-34 tanks and would have been a far more powerful foe than its sister unit, the parade-trained 34th Tank Division. But unlike their German comrades in arms, the Italians would have entered battle with a weapon capable of knocking out the Soviet secret weapon.

Note: This scenario uses boards and pieces from Eastern Front and Road to Berlin, and pieces from Desert Rats and Fronte Russo. Only use Soviet leaders from Eastern Front and Italian leaders from Desert Rats.

Developerís Commentary

This is a big scenario on eight boards, and once again the Italians donít have a significant advantage over the Soviets. Their motorcycle units are much faster than anything the Soviets have and can occupy town hexes early, but the Soviet T-34A tanks will lay waste to most Italian tanks that try to hold those towns against them. The Italian secret weapon here is the Semovente 90 tank destroyer, but its thin skin will not hold up to T-34 fire. The Italians sport some 90mm AA gun batteries as well.

Scenario Five
Close Assault
September 1941

Though much more capable than the Italian standard medium tank, the P26 was not intended to fight enemy armor but to tackle infantry in fortified positions and provide supporting fire to the medium tanks while they fought enemy tanks. Most armies intended that specialized tank destroyers face enemy tanks, while tanks would create and exploit breakthroughs. Italian doctrine included three tank battalions in an armored division: one of heavy tanks to create breakthroughs, one of medium tanks to exploit them, and one of light tanks to screen the operation like horsed cavalry.

Note: This scenario uses a board from Road to Berlin, boards and pieces from Eastern Front and pieces from Desert Rats.

Developerís Commentary

A quick, straightforward Italian combined-arms assault on some Soviet-held villages.

Scenario Six
Roll Over Togliatti
April 1942

Italy continued to produce inadequate tanks long after they had been proven deadlier to their crews than the enemy, as the Fiat-Ansaldo combine used its political influence to keep foreign designs from competing with their own tanks. But the combine could have been forced to accept tank licenses from Daimler-Benz at the same time they bought the DB.601 aircraft engine. Had such tanks been sent to 3rd Fast Tank Group as replacements for their L35 tankettes, 3rd Celere Division would have had quite a surprise in store for the Red Army during CSIRís 1942 spring offensive.

Note: This scenario uses boards from Road to Berlin, boards and pieces from Eastern Front, and pieces from Fronte Russo and the Gold Club 2007 counter sheet.

Developerís Commentary

The Celere Division, backed by M22/41 tanks, makes a bridge assault in the face of stuff Soviet opposition.

Scenario Seven
Tank Battle
May 1942

The Ariete Division fought exceptionally well during the Gazala battles of May and June 1942, but its effectiveness was hampered by its substandard Fiat-made tanks. With the promised heavy tanks in its order of battle, it might have been even more effective against the British tank brigades encountered west of Tobruk.

Note: This scenario uses a map and pieces from Desert Rats, and pieces from Fronte Russo. Only use Italian leaders from Desert Rats.

Developerís Commentary

The Italian 132nd "Ariete" Armored Division is driving south on a desert road. The Brits start dug in witha bit of off-board artillery support, but since much of their firepower comes from vulnerable Stuart tanks and Bren carriers, theyíll still have a hard time keeping the P26 and M14 tanks from driving deeply into their lines.

Scenario Eight
Hell on Wheels
October 1942

Had Italy been able to provide its tankers with better vehicles and more of them, the armored divisions would likely have met with more success in North Africa. That would have sparked increased aid from the United States, including the powerful formation initially scheduled to join the British Eighth Army after the fall of Tobruk.

Note: This scenario uses maps and pieces from Desert Rats, and pieces from Afrika Korps, Battle of the Bulge, Elsenborn Ridge and the Gold Club 2007 counter sheet. Only use Italian leaders from Desert Rats and American leaders from Elsenborn Ridge.

Developerís Commentary

This is the first-ever Panzer Grenadier scenario featuring American forces in North Africa. It is also the first Panzer Grenadier scenario with American forces before 1944, meaning not all American tanks have tank leaders. The American player will have to deal with that fact skillfully, because this scenario is played on two full-sized maps from Desert Rats and has a regiment of M4 Sherman tanks coming to the rescue of a long line held by U.S. infantry against an overwhelming Italian armored assault.

Scenario Nine
Standard Bearers of Fascism
October 1942

The Littorio Division did not see combat until the Alamein battles, when it performed well though not to the standards of the salty Ariete Division. Italian tankers had learned to avoid the better-armed British tanks, relying on the awesome 88mm and 90mm anti-aircraft guns to dispose of those while they tackled the tough Commonwealth infantry.

Note: This scenario uses a map and pieces from Afrika Korps, and pieces from Desert Rats. Only use Italian leaders from Desert Rats.

Developerís Commentary

Here Australian infantry tries to hold a desert road hub against a combined-arms assault by 133rd "Littorio" Armored Division. The Afrika Korps map is crisscrossed with roads and tracks, and the Italians have to clear a path from the north edge to the south. The Australians can fall back the entire length of the map, but the Italians are motorized while the Australians largely are not. So the Australians will have to work hard to keep the Littorio forces from cutting behind their positions and isolating them.

Scenario Ten
Road to Rome
August 1944

Would use of German tank designs have prolonged Italy's participation on the Axis side? They might have made Italian armored divisions more effective, but Italy's war machine had far greater and deeper defects than just the quality of its tanks. Still, the presence of powerful tanks in the Italian order of battle, when combined with the elite Bersaglieri, would have kept the divisions formidable well into the late war years ó though artillery would have remained a problem area.

Note: This scenario uses boards and pieces from Road to Berlin, and pieces from Desert Rats and the Gold Club 2007 counter sheet.

Developerís Commentary

Here an elite Italian armored force comes to the rescue of Hungarian infantry holding two roads against a Soviet armored assault. The Soviets have powerful T-34C and T-34/85 tanks, but the Italians have heavy tanks of their own including a platoon of Italian-manufactured King Tigers. The latter can stop any Soviet tank with ease and will be nearly invulnerable to AT fire if deployed in defensible terrain. But the saving grace for the Soviets is that theyíve got a wide board to work with, and win by clearing one of two roads. The Italians will have to figure out how to keep the Soviets from clearing the road the King Tigers are not defending, since any King Tigers that try to off-road it to the scene of action will be very slow in coming.

That covers all the Divisione Corazzata scenarios.

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