Sunday, July 17, 2016

Retreat from Sultan Yakoub - Battle Report

Continuing the Team Yaakav, we decided to start from the end.  Our first scenario game was from one of the last battles of the conflict where the Israeli's got the short end of the stick.  My last blog post had the basic scenario spelled out.

When actual figures hit the table, I had to made a couple modifications. 



  • Company HQ - 1x Magach 3
  • Tank Platoon 1 - 3x Magach 3
  • Tank Platoon 2 - 3x Magach 3 
  • Tank Platoon 3 - 3x Magach 5
  • Mechanized Platoon 1 - 4x FN FAL teams, 3x RPG-7 teams, 1x Dragon team, 4x M113 Zelda
  • Mechanized Platoon 2 - 4x FN FAL teams, 3x RPG-7 teams, 1x Dragon team, 4x M113 Zelda
  • Off board artillery - 2x M109 Field Battery (3 models firing each salvo)

  • Battalion HQ - AK-74 team, BTR-60
  • Mechanized Company 1 - 7x AK-74 teams, 6x RPG-7 teams, 2x PKMK LMG teams
  • Mechanized Company 2 - 7x AK-74 teams, 6x RPG-7 teams, 2x PKMK LMG teams, 9x BTR-60
  • Commando Company - 4x AK-74 teams, 3x RPG-7 teams, 2x Sagger teams
  • Tank Company 1 - 6x T-62
  • Tank Company 2 - 3x T-55 (it's a bit small but we figured it was a beat up tank unit)
  • AA Platoon - 2x Shilka
 I also reworked a couple of the unit cards for the Syrians.  The morale for regular Army Syrians are now up to 4+ like the Israelis.  The Commandos I kept at better at 3+ skill and morale.  I also dropped the T-55 AT value from 19 to 18.  Made a separate card for Israeli Paratroopers and dropped their stats down to 3+ morale and skill but they weren't involved in this fight.  A link to the updates cards is here:  link


The Israeli force setup in the village with the Magach 5s (M-60s with reactive armor) up front, followed by a Magach 3 platoon (M48s) and a mechanized platoon.  The tank commander, other Magach 3 platoon and mechanized platoon fortified in houses held back to provide some fire support.

The Syrians had a mechanized company strung across a couple rocky hills and the mountain road.  The T-62 company were in the hills blocking the more cross country escape route.  The commandos with their Saggers were in ambush.

Board Layout and Israeli Setup, the Syrians could of setup troops anywhere within 6" around the village but decided to keep all their forces out along the mountain road.  I need to get some more buildings to build it up a bit so they would have cover if they did setup by the village.

Magach 5s in the lead (hoping their reactive armor will take a few hits for them)

Syrian blocking force.  The Commandos are out there on ambush... somewhere.

How it Played Out

The day or dawn roll at the beginning of the game was a 6, so the game started in daylight.  In the pictures, if you see little blast markers, they mean a pinned unit or a bailed out tank.

The Israelis shot out of the village, the tanks heading west to confront the T-62s and the APCs down the road.  Artillery dropped a smoke screen to keep RPGs off the Israeli armor and the M60s opened up on the T-62s, destroying one.  The Syrians held tight with their infantry, just putting some suppressing fire on the Israelis still left in the village.  The T-62s took out a Magach 5 (we forgot the shoot and scoot rule here after they fired).  The Syrian mechanized company arrived in their BTR-60s and start maneuvering for a blocking position in the rear.

Next turn the rest of the Israeli tanks were able to move up and most of the T-62 were wiped out, with the remaining bugging out.  The APCs put fire on the dug in Syrian infantry along the road/hills to little effect, although an artillery strike did pin them.  The Israeli infantry in the village moved up leaving the tank HQ stationary to call in the artillery.  The Syrian commandos popped their ambush with their Saggers, taking 2 of 3 Magach 3s in the front platoon out, causing the last to abandon their tank.  The dug in Syrians knocked out a Zelda and put a couple hits on the advancing Israeli's in the village.  The T-55s arrived from reserves and moved up behind the burning T-62 wreaks, one getting off a lucky shot to hole a Magach 3.

Turn 3, the front Israeli mechanized company dismounted to help clear the infantry in the road.  The dismounted village Israeli's also moved up to assault the Syrians in the hills.  The Saggers got smoked and the remaining Israeli tanks tried to make a end run around one of the fortified hills, hoping their reactive armor would save them from RPGs.  The command tank was still stationary to call in the smoke and starting to feel a bit exposed.  The first assault from the village got repulsed by massive LMG fire but the assault in the road was successful and cut the big spread out Syrian company in half and opening a way for escape.  The Syrians replied by holding tight with the commandos, waiting for the smoke to disappear, bringing up the 2nd mechanized company to hold the hills near the bottom of the road, where the tanks need to pass to get to their objectives.  The Shilkas arrived but just moved on.  The cut off Syrian infantry in the hills just put fire on the Israeli's that failed their assault, killing a couple stands.  The T-55s bailed a couple Magach 3s and 5s but they passed their morale tests and stuck around.

Saggers getting smoked

Israeli infantry clearing the road and not doing that good of a job on the hill

Turns 4-6, The front Israeli infantry continued to move up on foot, kicking the Syrians off another hill.  The village Israeli platoon ended up mounting up and heading as fast as they can down the road.  One tank commander dropped artillery on the commandos, just pinning them.  This saved the Israeli force since they stayed pinned the rest of the game and kept them from firing their Saggers.  This allowed the rest of the Israeli forces to run the RPG gauntlet (only loosing a couple APCs) and make it down to the bottom of the hill.  The Shilkas didn't even get to fire before the Israeli tank commander made a run for it and took them out on the way down.  The T-55s tried to put up a fight also ended up burning and finally bailing from the few remaining Israeli tanks.

So, it ended up a Israeli win but with a pretty high cost.  Almost all the infantry made it but they left 6 of their 10 tanks either abandoned or burning on the field.

Israeli moving left to start clearing the Commandos

Syrians in the hills daring any Israeli vehicle to run the RPG gauntlet

A few APCs didn't quite make it through

Israeli tank commander bringing up the rear

Last turn when the Syrian Commandos didn't rally from pinned for the 2nd turn in a row leaving the route open for the Israelis


Everyone had a good time, so I consider it a success.  The game came out semi historical, so that's a bonus.  It seemed pretty balanced.  If the Syrian Commandos would of rallied on a 3+, the Israeli tanks would probably be Sagger bait.  We are still learning the system and always forget the special orders like Shoot and Scoot, etc.  That might of saved the T-62s if they pulled back behind the hill.

I originally gave the Israeli force three off board artillery barrages but dropped it down to two when setting up.  Having to have someone stay still to use it, made them very difficult to use in this scenario.  At most I only every dropped one barrage a turn.  Having two was handy as it gave me two smoke screens to work with.

Random Unit Pictures

I thought I'd show off a couple of my forces.  

Magach 5s from QRF M-60s.  I cut plasticard into little boxes and glued them on as reactive armor

Magach 3s from Battlefront M48s.  I removed the 50cal copula and replaced it with some spare Sherman ones

Israeli Dragon ATGM team and scratch built from some extra Battlefront mortars and a bead from my daughter's stash.  Figures are Peter Pig.  We've broke down and are actually going to rebase our AK47 figures to the Team Yankee basing.

Command Decision BTR-60s bought with the Old Glory Army discount so they were dirt cheap.  Fresh off the painting block ( I just finished 10 of these for the game)

BTR party in the village square

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Researching for next battle - Israeli Escape from Sultan Yakoub

Edit on Aug1, 2016 - Updated info, see bottom

I have a little painting to do for my next game so I thought I'd spend a bit of my down time looking at some battles that happened in Lebanon 1982 and try to convert them into something that would be fun to play.  Israel had three major thrusts, all in pretty different types of terrain.  City fights through Tyre, Sidon and Beirut along the coast, mountains in the middle (mainly non-heavy mobile forces) and Bekaa Valley on the right.  Here is the first one.

Battle of Sultan Yakoub

Sultan Yakoub is a small village in the Bekaa Valley, just four miles from the Syrian border.  As you can see there are two Sultan Yakoub villages; one at the base of the hill and another at the top.  I'm inclined to think the attack was on the village on the hill since there are descriptions that the Israeli's got blocked in a narrow valley after they rushed through the village.


This was one of the last battles of the war.  The UN set a ceasefire at midday on June 11.  On June 10th, Israel was pushing North with all their brigades in order to take as much ground as possible.  The 362nd Battalion of the 90th Reserve Division (under Giora Lev) was tasked with taking the Sultan Yakoub.  The Israeli's didn't have any intelligence and went in blindly.  Little did they know it was the forward position of a pretty much untouched Syrian mechanized brigade.

The Israeli tank battalion was equipped with Magach 6 tanks (modified M-60s) supported by infantry in M113 Zelda APCs.  The Syrian 1st Armored Division was defending the Bekaa valley to keep Israel from cutting the Damascus-Beirut highway.  The 91st and 76th Tank Brigades have been fighting for several days now while being pushed back by the Israel advances.  I'm making an educated guess that the division's 58th Mechanized Brigade was the defenders at Sultan Yakoub.  The 58th Mech Brigade was equipped with BTR-60s and a mix of T-55 and T-62 tanks.  Commando units were also attached.

The battle started in the evening with the 362nd brigade approaching the village and getting fired on by Sagger teams hidden on each side of the road.  Israeli damage was light due to the missiles being fired too close and not arming.  The battalion charged up and through the village to the valley on the other side receiving strong fire from all calibers and cutting themselves off from support.  The commander decided to hold up at the far edge of the village until they can try to break out the following morning.  During the night, the Syrians re-positioned themselves with infantry with RPGs in the village and tanks hidden in the surrounding hills while continuing to harass the tanks.

At dawn the Syrians opened up with anti-tank and Sagger fire from the hills and commandos with RPGs inside the village.  There is also reports of the commandos using Milan ATGMs.  An IDF relief force was stopped from coming in from the East and the trapped units were taking losses and running out of ammo.  The remnants of the 362nd Battalion escaped by making a mad dash with massive artillery support, 11 battalions worth.  The artillery fired in a box around the withdrawing Israeli force while they retreated back to safety.

The Israeli's lost eight tanks and 35 men killed or wounded, with some of the tanks falling into Syrian hands.  In a side note, early this year in May, Russia agreed to return Israel a Magach-3 that was taken by the Syrians during this battle.  It has been in a Russian museum up to now. 

Updated Info:

Digging into the battle from a few more sources, I came across a few errors.  There is actually a lot of confusion on what the 362nd Tank Battalion was equipped with.  All the books, most written from interviews from the participants, say M60s.  The picture below and article from The Times of Israel say Russia is returning a Magach-3 (M48s) taken from the battle.  It was a reserve unit make up from tankers from highly religious circles.  Eshel states they are "a dedicated lot fearless of nothing but the wrath of God."

Here is a picture of the tank that was captured in Sultan Yakoub and sent to Soviets.  You can see the ERA on it.  Looking at the curved lower hull on the front, it definitely is a M48.

From The Times of Israel

Ceremony returning the IDF tank.  From Times of Israel

Reading through all the accounts of the war in the various books, M-48s are rarely mentioned at all.  It is always M-60s.  In Eshel's book, pictures of M48s are even labeled as M-60s, so authors probably didn't really see a difference between them.  From this, I'm still going to go with using M-48s in the scenario but give them reactive armor. 

Scenario Ideas:
I can think of two scenario ideas for this battle.  1) Israeli tank company charges into the village through a gauntlet of missile armed commandos and occupied town to the other side at dusk and 2) same Israeli tank company starts holed up at dawn  in the village and needs to escape to the other side of the board with off board artillery support.  Israeli fleeing is something new, so I'll start with that one.  I'll probably alter it when we play but this is what I got in mind.

Escape from Sultan Yakoub

Special Rules:
•    Ambush
•    Immediate Reserves
•    Dawn - Use night fighting rules until Attacker roles a 5+ at start of their turn (add 1 die per turn like rolling for reserves)

Setting Up:

The board should be setup with a village taking up the bottom half of the board and a hilly countryside filling the top half.  This will let the Israelis start in the center of the village with some Syrian teams lurking around the edges of the village.  A road should from the village to the north board edge.


The attackers (Israel) starts with all their forces on the board.  The defenders (Syria) start with half of their forces in Immediate Reserves, up to one extra unit in Ambush and the rest placed on the board.  Defender reserves can enter at any part of the table edge that contacts their deployment zone.

Israeli Force:

Company HQ - Magach 3 w/ERA
Tank Platoon 1 - 3x Magach 3 w/ERA
Tank Platoon 2 - 3x  Magach 3 w/ERA
Tank Platoon 3 - 3x  Magach 3 w/ERA 
Mechanized Platoon 1 - 4x FN FAL teams, 3x RPG-7 teams, 1x Dragon team, 4x M113 Zelda
Mechanized Platoon 2 - 4x FN FAL teams, 3x RPG-7 teams, 1x Dragon team, 4x M113 Zelda
Off board artillery - 2x M109 Field Battery (3 models firing each salvo)

Syrian Force:

Battalion HQ - AK-74 team, BTR-60
Mechanized Company 1 - 7x AK-74 teams, 6x RPG-7 teams, 2x PKMK LMG teams, 9x BTR-60
Mechanized Company 2 - 7x AK-74 teams, 6x RPG-7 teams, 2x PKMK LMG teams, 9x BTR-60
Commando Company - 4x AK-74 teams, 3x RPG-7 teams, 2x Sagger teams
Tank Company 1 - 6x T-62 
Tank Company 2 - 6x T-55


Attackers wins if they start a turn on holding one of the Objectives.  Defender wins if they start a turn on or after the sixth turn with no Attacking units within 16" of an Objective.

1.  Solley, G.  The Israeli Experience in Lebanon, 1982-1985.  Marine Corps Command and Staff College report, 1987.
3. Eshel, David, LT COL., "The Lebanon War 1982", Eshel-Dramit, Ltd, Hod Hasharon, Israel, 1982.
4. Gabriel, Richard, "Operation Peace for Galilee", Hill and Wang, New York, 1984.  
5. Katz, Samuel, "Israeli Tank Battles, Yom Kippur to Lebanon", Arms and Armour Press, London, 1988.