Day of Atonement, Arab-Israeli War, 1973
A Hypothetical Arab-Israeli War Scenario by Paul Martin, August 2007
Six months into the conflict and despite some fierce resistance, the Israeli Defence Force has been unable to check the sweeping advances of the Egyptian and Syrian Forces.
The Syrian’s, having penetrated the formidable Golan Heights, are now sweeping through the Jordan Valley deep into Israeli territory. The IDF have withdrawn almost entirely from the Sinai to face this new threat and the Egyptians, seizing on the opportunity to reclaim even more land lost during the Six Day War, have boldly advanced outside the comfort of their SAM umbrella.
The fate of the Middle East – Israel’s very existence, hangs in the balance as two Arab Tank Brigades face off against a full strength IDF Tank Brigade supported by a Reserve Tank Battalion.
- 1 x CO
- 6 x HQ
- 27 x M60
- 9 x M48
- 3 x Centurion Sh’ot
- 1 x M113 ACAV Recce
- 1 x CO
- 3 x HQ
- 9 x T-55
- 18 x T-62
- 2 x BRDM-2 ATGW
- 1 x BRDM-2 Recce
- 3 x HQ
- 9 x T-55
- 18 x T-62
- 1 x BRDM-2 Recce
The IDF seize the initiative turning defence into attack. On their right flank the local commander successfully pulls off several unanswered volleys at the Egyptian T55 Battalion and the first of the Syrian T62 Battalions knocking out two T55’s a single T62 and a BRDM. Outnumbered, the Israeli’s ‘skoot’ back behind the crest leaving the enemy no target.
The IDF reserve M48 Battalion advances on the left flank and exchanges fire with a small Syrian flank force of five T55’s knocking out one tank whilst losing a single M48.
The remainder of the IDF cautiously advance picking out partially concealed firing positions amongst the ridges.
Still just out of range of the advance IDF positions, the Arabs motor forward on both the left flank and in the valley to try to close the battle. They lose another T62 to opportunity fire down in the valley floor. Return fire fails to cause any significant damage.
Arab BP 5/28 IDF BP 1/17
The IDF refuses its right flank taking up fire positions on the reverse slope of the hill for the expected assault of an entire Arab Tank Brigade. In a bold manoeuvre on the opposite flank, the Reserve Battalion (determined to make an impression on the IDF CO?) continues its advance against the weak Arab forces to its front. The concentrated fire of several M48’s makes short work of the T55’s reducing them to two serviceable tanks.
In the centre the M60’s and Centurions trade fire with two T62 Battalions and the Arab CO’s command scoring three more KO’s, one of which is one of the very dangerous ATGW BRDM’s.
Without targets, and shielded from the carnage taking place elsewhere, the Arab Tank Brigade on the left advances through the rough ground to close the ground on the IDF defensive line on the reverse slopes.
Arab BP 10/28 IDF BP 1/17
Turns 3 & 4
A fierce close range tank battle rages in the valley floor and on the IDF left flank which sees Arab casualties mount. Although the Arabs are now able to exchange fire, their cramped positions and a series of poor command decisions leaves the Arab right flank dangerously exposed. Only one IDF tank is knocked out.
The Arab Tank Brigade on the left finally crest the hill to be met by a wild barrage of close range opportunity fire which while causing casualties surprisingly sees the remainder of the force largely unscathed. Several rounds of firing KO’s two more M60’s – but it is all too little too late as the IDF CO commits his reserve.
Arab BP 18/28 IDF BP 4/17
At closing ranges the battle reaches its highpoint. The Arab Tank Brigade assault on the left is shattered by a string of very effective volleys from the IDF, losing six tanks to the IDF’s two.
In the centre, despite a spirited effort in knocking out two more M60’s, the IDF forces the exposed Arab right flank causing three more tanks to brew up.
The Arabs, stretched almost to breaking point, accept defeat and withdraw all across the front to preserve what is left of their forces. The Israelis choose not to pursue and remain in their defensive positions.
Arab BP 27/28 IDF 8/17
After Action Thoughts
The game was played on a 6’x3’ table, which given that two 6000 point armies were contesting the space, left little room for flanking manoeuvres. In hindsight, the Arab player could have easily tried a flanking force which would have outnumbered the Israeli. Both table edges had natural reverse slopes which made for a defensive battle – but what would have been the point in that when staging a massed tank battle!
Overall the battle was a pretty convincing IDF victory. They outgunned the Arabs for distance but had fewer tanks – 39 to 54. The M60, Centurion and M48 Stabilisation2 proved pretty useful in practice – most IDF tanks once the range was brought down to under half distance, still accrued 4 attacks, equivalent to their Arab counterparts.
Their use of a ‘shoot and skoot’ tactic in turn one proved pretty effective, and as always Soviet tank design and Rigid tactics proved flawed (although the Arabs did make very good use of the extra +1 CV when all carrying out the same tactic). The Arabs did have to take the battle to the Israelis, if anything just to bring their superiority of numbers to bear, but the cramped nature of the valley floor was probably not the best place to do this!
The IDF took the same number of HQ’s as the Arabs, and again in hindsight this was a wise move. Rather than command a Tank Battalion of nine tanks, the IDF commanders mainly had penny packets of five to seven tanks. Even at effective range they were able to fire volleys of anywhere between 25 and 35 shots per successful command roll. In future when playing the Arabs I think I would take more HQ’s and break the battalions down into smaller commands.
All in all, it was a good game with lots of ‘movie moments’. I think its convinced me to build that array of Cold War armies including Warsaw Pact, B.A.O.R, French & West German that I have been musing over for a number of weeks…