The Third Reich's Last Stand - Berlin Design Notes

Berlin Book cover

The Third Reich's Last Stand:
German Forces in Berlin
with Wayne Turner

In the new Flames Of War intelligence handbook, Berlin, I’ve taken a different approach to creating the Intelligence Briefing for the Germans. The chaotic and ad-hoc nature of the Berlin fighting led to the defence being based around the auxiliary troops like the Volkssturm, RAD (National Youth Labour Organisation), and police, reinforced by small groups of well-trained watch troops and Luftwaffe anti-aircraft gunners.

Added to this were several divisions who became embroiled in the battle for Berlin only due to the fact that they had retreated into the city after the battles along the Oder River. These divisions, which included 11. SS-Panzergrenadierdivision Nordland, 9. Fallschirmjägerdivision, Panzerdivision Müncheberg, 18. Panzergrenadierdivision, and 20. Panzergrenadierdivision, were allocated to sectors of the city as they arrived in the city. There were also a number of smaller units that either made their way to the city, like the French, Spanish, and Latvian SS battalions, or arrived along with larger units like the Königstiger heavy tanks of 503. Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung (503rd Heavy SS Tank Battalion).

Rather than make a special briefing for each unit, I looked at how they were used during the fighting for Berlin, which was mostly in mixed battlegroups, and set about designing a single briefing that would allow you to create a force based on any of these groups. My aim was to allow the players to re-create a German force from any of the clashes inside Berlin they may have read about.

Berlin Book cover 
 Berlin Book cover

Berlin Kampfgruppe

So what does all this result in? In Berlin you get just one Intelligence Briefing, but with many options. The Berlin Kampfgruppe briefing has the usual structure of Headquarters, Combat Platoons, Weapons Platoons and Support Platoons, but with many more options. 

As most of the Kampfgruppen (battle groups) were led by experienced officers, the Berlin Kampfgruppe HQ has two options: Heer (Army), which is rated Confident Veteran, or SS, which is rated Fearless Veteran.

However, your Combat Platoons can be selected from any combination of the five different Combat Platoons available. Within these combat platoons there are further variations. The Panzergrenadier and Fresh Panzergrenadier Platoons offers both Heer (Army) and Waffen-SS options, which are Veteran and Trained respectively. You can also field Fallschirmjäger Platoons (Fearless Trained), Hitlerjugend Platoons (Fearless Conscript), and Volkssturm Platoons (Reluctant Conscript). You can field whole companies of any of these or any mix of them you desire.

Apart from ratings the other key difference between these platoons is they also have different equipment and upgrade options. The Panzergrenadier Platoon represents the veteran panzer and watch troops. The Panzergrenadier Platoon is made up of Panzerfaust MG teams with a high rate-of-fire and excellent anti-tank capabilities. They can also be mounted in Sd Kfz 251 half-tracks to represent the mounted counter-attacks launched in the first few days of the battle before fuel became reserved for the tanks. These troops can also be re-armed as Panzerfaust Assault Rifle teams, making them excellent assault troops with great close-range firepower on the move.

The Fresh Panzergrenadier Platoon represents the less experienced infantry from the Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions. They don’t have half-tracks, but otherwise have the same options as their veteran comrades.

The Fallschirmjäger Platoon represents the troops of the relatively new 9. Fallschirmjägerdivision. This platoon has seven Panzerfaust MG teams, which represents the adoption of an organisation change in the later formed Fallschirmjäger units. They can also be upgraded to Assault Rifles.

Large numbers of Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) were organised into fighting units when it became clear that the Red Army was closing in on Germany. Many of the Hitlerjugend fought with great bravery, mostly only armed with Panzerfaust anti-tank weapons. This platoon is made up of Panzerfaust teams. The Hitlerjugend also get a special rule that allows them to move and shoot their Panzerfausts as they creep through the rubble stalking Soviet tanks. They can also upgrade from Panzerfaust teams to Panzerfaust Rifle teams.

The final type of combat platoon available to the Berlin Kampfgruppe is the Volkssturm Platoon. Some of you may already be familiar with this platoon from Desperate Measures, Bridge at Remagen, and Nachtjäger. The people’s militia are usually armed with old, reserve, and captured equipment. The teams of this platoons are Panzerfaust Rifle teams and can have one team upgraded to a MG08/15 LMG team. They have their own Local Militia rule that means they are always deployed on table and are never held in reserve. Though because of their limited training they don’t use Stormtroopers or Mission Tactics special rules.

All these troops, except the Volkssturm, use the Enjoy the War… special rule. This rule sees the player test for individual teams for Platoon Morale rather than for the whole platoon. This has the effect of the platoon gradually melting away once below half-strength, rather than leaving all in one go.

Berlin Book cover
Berlin Book cover
Weapons Platoons

With a number of Panzer, Panzergrenadier and independent battalions in the city there was also a wide variety of support available.

Armoured support comes from Heer and SS tanks, heavy tanks, assault guns, anti-aircraft tanks, armoured cars, and tank-hunters. New weapons of note include some new and unusual equipment like the Kleinpanzer Wanze (Small-tank Bedbug) and 8.8cm PaK43 auf Waffenträger (8.8cm PaK43 Weapons Carrier). These are available as Heer or SS, depending on the platoon, and most are rated Veteran, with the exception of the Bedbug Platoon which is rated Fearless Trained.

The Bedbug (Kleinpanzer Wanze) was a conversion of Sd Kfz 301 Borgward B IV demolition carrier rebuilt as a tank destroyer. It was armed with six Panzerschreck rocket-launcher tubes in a pod on a swivel mount. The intention was that they be used for street fighting where they could quickly move from cover to fire their rockets, before slipping into concealment to reload.

The 8.8cm PaK43 auf Waffenträger (88mm PaK43 Weapons Carrier) was part of a German program to design light self-propelled mounts for a variety of artillery and anti-tank guns. It was loosely based on the Panzer 38(t) chassis, but wider with the engine repositioned to the front of the vehicle. Some prototypes are meant to have seen action in or around Berlin, most likely in the western suburbs. A number also saw service with the Twelfth Army’s Ulrich von Hutten Division.

Waffenträger (8.8cm)

The 8.8cm PaK43 auf Waffenträger (88mm PaK43 Weapons Carrier) was part of a German program to design light self-propelled mounts for a variety of artillery and anti-tank guns. A design by Ardeltwerke in Eberwalde was settled on in 1944 to carry the 8.8 cm PaK43. Parts to complete 21 were expected in December to be ready by 15 January 1945. No records confirm how many saw action, but at least two were destroyed in and around Berlin in April and May 1945.


Berlin Book cover
Berlin Book cover  Kleinpanzer Wanze

In early 1945 some Sd Kfz 301 Borgward B IV demolition carriers were rebuilt as tank destroyers. They were armed with six Panzerschreck rocket launcher tubes in a pod on a swivel mount. The Kleinpanzer Wanze (Small-tank Bedbug) tank-hunters were designed for street fighting where they could quickly move from cover to fire their rockets, before slipping back behind cover to reload.

Further anti-tank, infantry, pioneer, heavy mortar, anti-aircraft, artillery and rocket launcher platoons and batteries are also available as support options. These range from Fearless Veteran and Confident Veteran troops of the Panzer and Panzergrenadier divisions, to Reluctant Trained Luftwaffe anti-aircraft troops and various Confident Trained training school, labour, and police units from the Berlin area.

The Luftwaffe troops in particular have a wide variety of anti-aircraft guns as their disposal, including the new 8.8cm FlaK41 heavy anti-aircraft gun and the 3.7cm Flakzwilling 43 medium anti-aircraft cannon.

The FlaK41, though actually a different gun, was like an anti-aircraft version of the PaK43. It was a powerful weapon very capable of knocking out Soviet tanks from great distances. In Flames Of War is has a Range of 40”/100cm, ROF 2 (increased to 3 with more crew), anti-tank 16 and firepower 3+.

The new 10.5cm FlaK39 heavy anti-aircraft gun, which first appeared in Nachtjäger, is also available to the Luftwaffe troops in Berlin. 

You can also take Fortifications including Street Barricades, Minefields, Barbed Wire and Tank Turrets.

The German Berlin Kampfgruppe intelligence briefing will allow players to create a wide variety of infantry forces with good support to recreate any of the forces they care to model from the Battle for Berlin.

Berlin Book cover 
 Digital Content

These forces will not be the end of the new forces available for the Late-war and the fighting around Berlin. In the time between Berlin going off to print and its release, I’ve not been idle. In addition to other new projects, I’ve also worked up a selection of other forces to supplement the release of Berlin. These are forces that we didn’t have the space in Berlin for, as each specific intelligence handbook has a set page count, and not the time to research and complete. However, after Berlin was completed these had my full attention for a couple of weeks. We wanted to get these out, as they offer some interesting and varied forces. 

So far I’ve prepared: 

Forces of war  Forces of war


  • 502. Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung and 503. Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung (Halbe Pocket and Seelow Heights) – Schwere SS-Panzerkompanie.
  • 11. SS-Panzergrenadierdivision Nordland (fighting outside Berlin 1945) – SS-Panzerkompanie, SS-Panzergrenadierkompanie, SS-Panzerpionierkompanie, SS-Aufklarungsschwadron.
  • Panzerdivision Müncheberg (fighting outside Berlin 1945) – Panzerkompanie (with infra-red), Panzergrenadierkompanie.
  • Grenadierkompanie (Type 45 infantry divisions of the Ninth and Twelfth Armies, Halbe Pocket and Twelfth Army’s counterattack towards Berlin)



  • Hero Kavalyeriyskiy Polk (Hero Cavalry Regiment in 1945)
  • Hero Inomarochnikiy Tankovy Brigada (Hero Lend-lease Tank Brigade, Sherman tanks in 1945)


I have few more ideas, but I’ll have to get to these when I have some time to dedicate to them, so I won’t tease you with what they are as I’m not sure when I’ll get to them.

I really enjoyed working on Berlin and I hope you enjoy playing with the forces you will find inside.