with Phil Yates (Battlefront NZ)
The coolest thing about the new Reconnaissance Company in D-Day: German is its flexibility. It’s similar to an Armoured Panzergrenadier Company in many ways, but lighter, faster, and more flexible.
With the war turning against them, German panzer divisions found themselves fighting on the defensive more often than making grand offensives. As a result, the reconnaissance battalions were used as the divisional reserve, to fill gaps in the line, or to cover retreats more than as a true reconnaissance force. The reconnaissance company fills these roles well, and can be built in three different ways to reflect this.
If I’m building a divisional reserve type force, I want to create a battlegroup mixing tanks and armoured infantry for a flexible approach to battle. The core of the force would be a Reconnaissance Company HQ and a pair of Reconnaissance Platoons, all in light Sd Kfz 250 half-tracks, as an assault force. I could swap one of these out for a normal Armoured Panzergrenadier Platoon to save a few points, but I like the increased firepower of the extra half-tracks and the Scout ability to keep my infantry alive as they work their way forward.
I’d back them up with a Scout Troop of Sd Kfz 250 (2cm) armoured cars to give me some spearhead capability and a useful economy-of-force unit to tie down enemy troops where my main force isn’t. The 8cm Mortar Section and 7.5cm Gun Platoon, give me more Sd Kfz 250 half-track goodness, and relieve my tanks of infantry support duties, making the infantry more self-sufficient. That useful little company comes in at around 44 points if I keep one of the 7.5cm Gun Platoon at two rather than three vehicles. Since I’ve plenty of other guns in my tanks, I don’t think I’ll miss the extra vehicle.
That leaves me a solid 56 points for the tank component. I could go with five Panther tanks for some heavy fire support, but as I envision this as a free-wheeling attack force, I think a company of ten Panzer IV tanks works better. As a separate formation, it’s strong enough to fight its own battle in support of the reconnaissance, and gives me two formations to keep me in the fight. The last point would probably go on the Lucky command card for that extra bit of luck when I really need it.
A defensive force to fill a gap in the line would be a bit different. Here, I’d probably look at adding four Panthers as a powerful reserve striking force (rather than the Panzer IVs), while boosting the core company with a 7.5cm Tank Hunter Platoon to give me more resilience against tanks. Since I don’t need as much mobility, I think I’d also trade in the half-tracks from one platoon to give all of my infantry Panzerfausts. The plan here would be to dig in the platoon without half-tracks with the anti-tank guns on the most vulnerable objective, while a mobile group of all of my half-tracks manoeuvres to keep the enemy at bay until my Panthers arrive, then counterattacks to secure victory.
To build a true reconnaissance force for mobile operations, I might look at the Puma Scout Company command card for my second formation in place of tanks. A company of nine Puma eight-wheelers with three 7.5cm armoured card for fire support would set me back 24 points. Adding a second Sd Kfz 250 (2cm) and the 7.5cm Tank-hunter Platoon to my Reconnaissance Company burns up another 14 points. Throw in a platoon of overlong 8.8cm tank-hunters for heavy tank killing, and I’ve got a force that is mostly light, fast and mobile, but still packing a heavy punch.
No matter how you organise it, the Reconnaissance Company has plenty of flexibility and potential (as well as lots of really cute Sd Kfz 250 half-tracks!).