Operation Thunderclap

With the fall of Japan is the spring of 1943, many units in the Pacific Theatre of operations were re-tasked to the European Theatre after the stunning collapse of the Soviet Union during Battle of Stalingrad. The subsequent arrest and execution of Joseph Stalin breathed new life into the German offensive as they rolled onward to capture Moscow and turned their sights on China.

It is into this cauldron of chaos that the United States Marine Corps is introduced into the Netherlands Operations: a combination of harassing attacks to disrupt German momentum on the Eastern Front. Overconfident and overextended, many Axis forces are ripe for easy picking, especially on the semi-ignored Western Front. It is from here that the Allies will make a thrust into the Rhineland.

Operation Thunderclap is the bold plan set forth by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the new Supreme Allied Commander in Europe after the untimely death of General Dwight D. Eisenhower (who expired as the result of a German Vergeltungswaffen attack on an airbase he was visiting in southern England). Taken largely from an idea formulated by Bernard Montgomery, it calls for a powerful stab into the Axis backside.

In order to accomplish this task, the 3rd Marine Division of the I Marine Amphibious Corps must move north through Nijmegen and Arnhem to Apeldoorn, where they will rest and refit for their attack into Nazi Germany. In the way of the 3rd Marines is a gauntlet of German defenders pressed to shield the Netherlands from being a launching pad for incursions into the Fatherland.

The task of the Allied commander in Operation Thunderclap is to exit a sufficient enough force of Marines to Apeldoorn in the north as to facilitate effective combat operations against Germany. The task of the Axis commander is to hold the line on the Rivier Waal to bleed the Allied forces into route and retreat with the hopes of turning them back (or blooding them effectively enough to make them useless as a combat force).

This scenario lasts four days and features the following Allied forces at your command: Polish Para Brigade, British 4th Para Brigade, American 82nd Airborne 504th Para Regiment, 101st Airborne 506th Para Regiment and of course, the 3rd Marine Division.

The scenario is designed to be played as the Allies only.

Operation Thunderclap (This file contains the complete current Marine Corps 2.0 mod)


D01 21:00 

North Operations

British Forces: the 11th and 156th Para Battalions with support from the 4th Para Sqn Royal Engineers are attacking the Arnhem Bridge Objective (20 Victory Points, 10 for occupation and 10 for completion). The 10th Para Battalion is attacking the rail bridge at Oosterbeek (non-objective). The 4th Para Brigade HQ is stationed at Snodenhoek.

American Forces: the 2nd and 3rd Para Battalions 504th are also attacking the Arnhem Bridge Objective to form a vice on the Axis forces garrisoned there. They are supported by A Coy 307 Abn Eng Bn to unprime the bridge. 1st Battalion is performing a delaying action along the main road, falling back from the north to the south. The 504th Regiment HQ is stationed at Deelen Airfield.

South Operations

Polish Forces: the 1st and 3rd Para Battalions with support from an engineering company are attacking the Nijmegen Bridge Objective (20 Victory Points, 10 for occupation and 10 for completion). The 2nd Para Battalion is attacking the rail bridge just to the west of the Nijmegen Bridge (non-objective). The Polish Para Bridge HQ is stationed at Driehuizen.

American Forces: the 1st and 2nd Para Battalions 506th are also attacking the Nijmegen Bridge Objective to form a vice on the Axis forces garrisoned there. They are supported by C Coy 326 Abn Eng Bn to unprime the bridge. 3rd Battalion is performing a delaying action along the main road, falling back from the north to the south. The 506th Regiment HQ is stationed at Valburg.


D02 09:00

North Operations

The British and American airborne forces have succeeded in securing the Arnhem Bridge Objective, while 1st Battalion 504th has their hands full with a force of approximately 800 mixed German units coming down the main road towards Arnhem.

South Operations

The Polish and American airborne forces have successfully unprimed the Nijmegen Bridge and are almost complete with unpriming the rail bridge to the east; however the Nijmegen Bridge Objective itself remains contested and is not yet secured.

The 3rd and 9th Marine Regiments (approximately 7,000 personnel) of the 3rd Marine Division have arrived on the battlefield and are presently steamrolling their way to staging points along the main road north of Arnhem in preparation to exit the map towards Apeldoorn once that objective activates on day three at 13:00 hours.



D02 21:00

The remaining elements of the 3rd Marine Division (the 21st Marine Regiment at 3,331 personnel and the 3rd Marine Division HQ element at 2,630 personnel) have arrived on the battlefield and are ordered to staging points to the north of Arnhem as well.

North Operations

The British and American paratroops continue to hold the Arnhem Bridge Objective which has allowed elements of the Marine regiments to cross over and proceed north, albeit into heavy Axis counterattack forces coming down south along the main road.

South Operations

The Polish and American airborne forces succeeded in securing the Nijmegen Bridge Objective while the rear elements of the 3rd Marine Division are poised to cross over onto to the “island”.


D03 09:00

North Operations

The bulk of the Marines passing through this area are actually on avoidance routing with bypass selected, so the path across the Oosterbeek rail bridge, through the woods and over Deelen Airfield is to be expected as Axis forces are known to be on the main road heading into Arnhem.

South Operations

With their job effectively completed, the Polish Para Bridge and the 506th Para Regiment are ordered to move to a staging area north of Arnhem in preparation to exit the map. C Coy 326 Abn Eng Bn and Eng Coy 1 Polish Para Bn are sacrificed for Victory Points and are ordered to defend at the Nijmegen Bridge Objective for the duration of the scenario.

Poor bastards.


D03 13:05

The Exit to Apeldoorn Objective activated at 13:00. It is worth 50 Victory Points (all on completion). I order all forces in the north on the other side of the river to exit at that objective with no rest selected. The units are ordered at the battalion level instead of the regimental level in order to avoid long command processing and the effect of the whole regiment being hung up by a straggler.


D03 21:00

As the units flood the exit objective and leave the map, I have maxed out the anti-personnel firepower requirement of 2,500 but have nothing to show for the 1,500 armor requirement. The objective is set to auto-end (which is why it shows AE 50 on the Objective panel screen shot above), however this will not trigger if I do not have enough armor rating to exit.


D04 09:00

It looks like I am going to have to wait it out on this one. The 3rd Tank Battalion exited the map to give me 547 armor points, which is unfortunately not enough to trigger the auto-end. I am going to have to tweak the settings on that objective before publishing this mission later today.


D04 21:00

Things are getting difficult for the HQ element of the 3rd Marine Division as they are engaged while traversing through Arnhem and onto the main road to the north. At this point I change their move order to an exit order with zero rest, avoidance routing and bypass selected. The last thing I want to do is exit my Marines without their divisional HQ.


D05 09:00

Just grinding along trying to get units to exit and not get hung up in combat. In Arnhem 3rd Battalion 506th is moving north for some reason. I don’t remember issuing them a command, so the AI must be up to something.


After-action Report

I achieve the coveted Decisive Victory, however what I really wanted to see was how the auto-end feature on an exit objective functioned in game, so that was somewhat of a disappointment that I did not calculate my available armor rating before setting an arbitrary value in the victory conditions panel of the scenario editor.

Over 2,000 Nazi scumbags died at the hands of the Brits, Pols and Americans as the 3rd Marine Division of the I Marine Amphibious Corps successfully moved on to Apeldoorn for rest and refit. This came at a cost as the efficient Germans managed to kill over 1,000 Allied forces during the battle. It is interesting to note that while 14 Axis units surrendered during this effort, no Allied units surrendered.

Fight to the death (or scenario end, whichever comes first)!!!

Update: The screen shot below is of an automatic end Decisive Victory by exiting sufficient forces to the north. Note the custom signature and debrief document from the Marine General :)


As a scenario designer it is quite nice to see things working as they should :)

5 comments:

  1. Hi Tim. I am downloading this. Will load it up this week!

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    1. Hey Chris, have you had an opportunity to play this scenario yet?

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  2. Hi Tim. Not yet. Will run today at some point I hope. If not today, tomorrow.

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  3. Hi Tim. I am 2 days in. For me, I think this is the largest CO game i've played. I am having a tough time commanding so many units. I've grabbed the Arnhem bridge and secured it. I have the 504th blocking the highway into Arnhem and another battalion of American paratroopers fighting in the city. 1st Airborne's 11th battalion seized the Arnhem road bridge. I love the marine units. I've got them racing into Nijmegen now to assist the Poles. I've also got elements of 1st Airborne's 156th battalion attacking from the north. I've also taken control of most of the Rhine crossings west of Arnhem. I can see taking and holding the Nijmegen and Arnhem bridges by scenario end but I don't know how I will get the Marines to exit north to Apeldoorn. We will see I guess!

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  4. Please let me know how it turns out for you and if you come across anything unusual.

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