The Attack on Ain Mediourma Airbase
earlier version of this scenario appeared in my Wargamers Guide to the Rif War
which is still available through https://toofatlardies.co.uk/
On 13 April 1925 some 8,000 Riffs launched concerted
attacks on French positions in Morocco. The combination of intelligent
leadership, great bravery, guerrilla skills and a degree of modern firepower
proved devastating. Posts were cut off heavily shelled or mortared and then
stormed with medieval ferocity; dozens of heroic last stands and ghastly
massacres passed into French Army legend. Highly mobile, the Berber forces
dismantled the French defensive line section by section and flooded through the
gaps. By 27 April some were only 20 miles from Fez; thirty-nine out of a total
of sixty-six posts had been overrun or abandoned.
The fight for the aerodrome at Ain Mediourma was one
of many desperate actions fought during those dark months before French
reinforcements arrived. Ain Mediourma was the largest French airbase in Morocco
with its purpose built buildings, hangers and fuel storage tanks all to the
most modern specifications; to abandon it would be a major blow to French pride
You are a Caid, you command a large harka. Your force
has been raiding into French territory, looting and killing as you go.
Yesterday your scouts came upon a large French base with some large buildings
and an airstrip on which were several airplanes. You moved your men into
position last night and are ready to launch a full attack at dawn when the
infidels will be sleeping. There will be many rifles and much gold and loot in
such a big base so the rewards will be high for your men; also the Sultan (Abd
el Krim) will be pleased if your attack is a success.
Caid + command group (10 figures) includes an 80mm
mortar with 12 bombs
Harka 1 - 15 riflemen
Harka 2 – 15 riflemen
Harka 3 - 15 riflemen + 1 Hotchkiss LMG (2 crew)
Harka 4 - 10 mounted scouts (rifles)
Harka 5 – 20 riflemen + 1 Hotchkiss LMG (2 crew)
All Hamsein have good morale, and fight as veterans
About half the riflemen have home-made grenades or
bags of explosives, each unit also has a expert marksman who get +1 to firing rolls.
The terrain outside the base is dotted with clumps of
wild brush and palms, this does not hinder movement but can provide cover for a
stealthy approach, this has enabled the Riffians to make their approach unseen.
As it is, the Riffian harkas can attack from any direction (decided by an 8 sided dice); they can be
positioned within 6” of the base boundary, representing the skilled
infiltration techniques used by the Berbers. Each harka should be kept together
as a unit, though they can join other harkas in a joint attack. The Caid and
his command unit can attach themselves to any harka (adding a command bonus to
that unit), the mortar can be left under the command of sub-leader. The “home
made” grenades can be industrial explosives (dynamite) or cans filled with the
explosive salvaged from un-exploded bombs or shells or captured/bought military
hand grenades. All these can be used to blow up aircraft, buildings and
The French start the battle un-prepared with only two
platoons of the Colonial Blanc on duty - one on sentry duty (positioned in the
various sentry posts around the perimeter) the other on patrol anywhere on the map that the French
player chooses. They may also deploy their MGs in any of the sentry posts,
these are considered manned with one man awake at all times (he can arouse his
mates in 1 turn). The remaining units will be in their tented barracks, these
will take 1D3 + 2 turns to organise themselves.
You are an air force Major you command this vitally
important base. For nearly a month now the Berber tribesmen of Abd el Krim have
been raiding deeper and deeper in the French Zone of Morocco from their
strongholds to the north. Aeroplanes from your base have been constantly flying
missions – bombing, reconnaissance and sometime desperate re-supply drops, up
and down the frontier.
Major plus his staff (10 figures)
Colonial Blanc defence company with: 4 x 10 man platoons (each with an LMG & VB launcher), two MMGs (3 crew each)
The Colonial Blanc Company are trained with fair morale, the scratch unit should be classed as militia
There will also be aircraft on the base - Breguet 18s
mostly; if these are fueled and armed they could be used in the defence.
Aircraft should be treated as soft-skinned vehicles for damage effects.
Roll for each aircraft: 1D6 1 – 2 un-fueled, unarmed
[d3 + 3 turns to fuel & arm] 3 – 4 Mechanical fault (not flyable) 5 –
Fueled but unarmed [with take 1D3 game turns to arm] 6 – Fueled and armed with
MGs It takes four men to arm or fuel or plane, there is also a supply of bombs
which can be loaded onto the aircraft. Once fueled a plane takes two turns to
start up and get airborne. Once airborne a plane can then carry out a bombing
attack and/or 2 strafing runs then it must leave to fly to the nearest friendly
base – Fez
The French are badly outnumbered; to even things up
you could add a flying relief column, which will arrive on turn 10 + 1D6 from
the south. Relief column with a Laffly armoured car and two veteran Foreign
Legion platoons 10 men each (LMG, VB launcher) carried in trucks
The Riffians win a victory if they kill the defenders and are then free to destroy the base at their leisure. The French are clearly looking to retain control of the base and should have no real alternative to simply hanging on as long as they can.
Historically the airbase was overrun and put out of
action, with its purpose built hangers and oil storage tanks destroyed. This
was a huge blow for the French, but time was already running out for Abd el
Krim and his rebellion.
Turn 1 The Riffi marksmen open fire and do hit a
couple of sentries, the mortar drops its first round into the command building
courtyard. The various Riffi harkas begin to advance.
2 The Riffi attacking the main gate have split into two groups one fires on the
gate and bunker whilst the second moves in to flank the bunker. The French MMG
team inflict serious casualties upon the Riffi who have exposed themselves to fire
upon its bunker! The Riffi mortar lands a bomb smack onto the command building`s
roof destroying the Hotchkiss mounted there. The other Riffi groups move in
exchanging fire with the French sentries.
Turn 3 Riffi begin planting explosives to breach the French perimeter wire, some harkas are still engaged with French sentries I rules these groups cannot plant explosives whilst so engaged, the flanking group attacking the gate close assault the bunker wiping out the gun crew!
4 various explosions around the perimeter create gaps in the French wire! At the
gate the Riffi storm onto the base.
Near the road the Riffi plant explosives against the outer walls
Turn 6 The French infantry engage the Riffi all
across the base – both sides take casualties. The Riffi Caid leads one group
and blows up an aircraft with a grenade!
explosives blow holes in walls and further breach the perimeter wire
The Riffi who broke through the gate find the French hospital at their mercy – they take full advantage.
7 The Riffi mortar targets and wipes out a French signals team
fighting continues right across the base. The base commander leads every man he
can find to attack the Riffi who are slaughtering the wounded.
Riffi Caid claims another plane
on the base are destroying everything they can
group of mounted Arabs approach the base perimeter unseen (the French are
somewhat busy). A group of Riffi plant explosives on the main fuel tanks!
8 Another aircraft blows up!
melee around the hospital heats up
main fuel tanks blow
this turn the Arab horsemen plant explosives at the perimeter wire, various
riffi groups not actively engaged plant explosives or set fire to fuel, ammo or
other valuable equipment.
9 the perimeter fence is blown
French are all but spent, a few men have formed a defensive position around the
ammunition/bomb store. The base commander and his men continue to defend the surviving
wounded and medical staff!
10 the Arab horsemen charge onto base and moved to join the melee by the
explosions destroy the rest of the fuel depot.
At this point I decided to call it a day.
The game played out pretty much as designed, the French were just overwhelmed!
It occurs to me this game could be easily transferred with a little work to Eastern Front WW2 or Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation.