By Bill Jaffe, Product Manager, 1A Games
I thought it was time to introduce a Soviet tanker hero. So I located Dmitry Fyodorovich Lavrinenko, who the Soviets credit with destroying 58 tanks between June 22, 1941 and December 18, 1941, the day he was killed. What’s more impressive is that he destroyed 52 of those tanks in the last 2 ½ months of his career, giving more proof to the fact that even with flawed tactics the Soviet tankers could put up a good fight.
The following are some highlights of Lavrinenko’s actions in combat, that I found on Wikipedia, WarHeroes.ru and Pkka.narod.ru:
Dmitry was assigned to the 15th Soviet Tank division, 16th Mech Corps,12 Army in the town of Stanislav, Ukraine (near the Romanian Border). That means his earliest battles were against the German 11th army and the Romanian Forces, mostly fighting defensive battles but earning a reputation of not pulling back until he was the last tank to fall back. He did not pull out the last time until all remaining men of his unit where safely away.
During August of 1941 he was assigned to the new 4th Tank Brigade. In November this unit became the 1st Guards Tank Brigade, which first arrived back on the front in September and was thrown into combat on 4 October near Mtensk. On 6 October in a battle near Mtensk, his group of 4 T-34s attacked a formation of 34 German tanks, of which they destroyed 15 (Dimitry destroyed 4 of those 15). That was pretty impressive considering the 8 to 1 odds in favor of the Germans. By 11 October Dimitry had upped his total number of tanks destroyed to 11, along with other German units.
During late October the Brigade was near Moscow along the Volokolamsk direction, when Dimitry was promoted to Senior Lieutenant. On 7 November he was leading a force composed of 3 T-34s and 3 BT-7s when he entered a fight against 18 German tanks near the village of Lystsevo. The 6 Soviet tanks destroyed 7 German tanks. Shortly after this battle a column of 18 German tanks broke through the Soviet position. Dimitry took his T-34 and established a hidden position, conveniently whitewashed in a snow squall, and as the German column neared he opened fire at point blank range.
Since his tank was so hard to see he managed to destroy 6 German tanks, mostly by flank shots. By driving off this attack he saved many Soviet troops from encirclement. Twelve days later on 19 November in a meeting engagement at the village of Gusenevo, Dimitry destroyed 7 more tanks defending the village. By the time of his last engagement he had destroyed 51 tanks. In his last fight on December 18, defending the village of Volokolamsk, he destroyed his 52nd and final tank.
During the defense of Moscow Dmitry Lavrinenko destroyed 37 tanks in a little more than 6 weeks during the German Operation Typhoon. This kind of resistance by the Soviet troops saved their capital and put the Germans in bad positions so when the Soviets started their winter counter attacks they were able to push the Germans back many miles and destroy large parts of their army.
There are many easy medium-sized Tide of Iron scenarios that could be designed out of Dmitry’s actions. Many of these will take place in the winter around Moscow, and since they are mostly tank-on-tank actions you won’t need your infantry bases.A hero card for Dmitry Lavrinenko might include a bonus die attacking German tanks and maybe a special extra move to avoid some of those return shots.