Alexi Boris Chernyshevsky or “Boors” to his mates glanced over to the barracks with longing and a certain degree of annoyance. Longing for the warm bed awaiting him at the end of his long nightshift and annoyance that his relief was already late. The sun was already rising into the watery winter sky casting long shadows from his observation post across the tarmac of the runway.
He noted the drone of aircraft from the south west and reached for his logbook to record the somewhat late return of a long-range bombing force returning to Leningrad. The aircraft were over the airfield by the time his sleep deprived brain realised two things; firstly, that the aircraft had three engines and secondly that white mushrooms were billowing out behind them. The first of German paratroops were already on the tarmac before he raised the alarm.
Hans Kruger enjoyed the last few moments of eerie silence of the pre-landing of the Go 242A glider he occupied with his squad. The silence was shattered as the glider hit the ground and slid forward a few yards before the front dug into the earth and the whole craft lifted skyward from the tail, started to cartwheel and then slammed back down to the ground. Go go go! he cried pushing his stunned comrades through the open door onto the soft ground below. Someone, somewhere had made a major cock-up. The glider had landed not on the hard, tilled earth they had anticipated but on soft marshy ground close to the river. He glanced back noting that the front end of the craft was crushed together with the pilot and co-pilot who were still and lifeless. Fortunately, he and his men escaped with only a few cuts and bruises and perhaps a cracked rib or two. They quickly assembled and made their way towards the sporadic firing around the runway to the south.
They arrived to find their parachute born comrades pinned down on the perimeter of the airfield by two anti-aircraft guns; their barrels depressed as far as they would go sweeping across the open tarmac supported by rifle fire from the small security contingent. The arrival in their rear by Hans and his men quickly turned the tables. Caught in the crossfire the gunners soon gave up the fight. Ten minutes later the guns and the airfield were in the Fallschirmjäger’s hands. They lit flares and awaited transport born reinforcements. Tartu was German once again.
Weather: No Change: A=Snow, B=Frost, C-D=Mud, G=Clear.
Army of Norway: The supplied highly mobile mountain and light troops from the Kirkenes pocket move Southwest at speed reaching the next phase line of resistance without interference from the Soviets. Only a slower penal battalion and infantry regiment remain to face the pursuers.
AGN: Seemingly oblivious to the disaster befalling Army group Centre to the south the panzers and infantry of armour of Army Group North continue to pursue their aim of isolating the Riga besiegers and taking back parts of Estonia and Latvia.
Panzers break out and wheal West overrunning an airbase and isolating the single Tank Corps in the Soviet defensive line. This move places the entire Soviet front from Riga to Dougavpills out of supply. Other troops widening the breach and the Germans now control both sides of the Divina along a hundred miles of its course.
The Germans also undertake the first para-drop of the war and in textbook style the Fallschirmjäger capture Tartu airfield. The glider assisted drop first encounters AA fire from the positional AA units around the airfield, surviving unscathed they drop onto the AA with a modified -2 die roll. The six rolled guarantees their survival and they overrun the positional AA units. Follow-up forces in transports and gliders land an additional engineer regiment and a Luftwaffe infantry unit with four supply points being airdropped to avoid congestion on the ground. In order to help bolster the defences against any Soviet counterattack on the lightly armed occupiers, a DAS mission provides air support over the captured airfield.
AGC: The isolated and bypassed panzer and infantry stacks in the shattered front between Smolensk and Bryansk extricate themselves from the Soviet tankers attempting to close in behind them. They counter-attack a tank corps eliminating it entirely and severely punish a smaller stack comprising a mobile rocket unit motorised infantry with tank battalion reducing it to us a weak infantry cadre which pulls back east to the main Soviet front. An attack on a second tank corps is repulsed.
The German units to the north of this action pull back as fast as possible towards Smolensk and attempt to bolster the flanks around Vitebsk. As a consequence of the dangerous situation Leibstandarte and a 17-10 Panzer unit are intercepted en-route to Dougavpils and placed into reserve at Vitebsk.
To the south of the main Soviet thrust troops pull back to the woods and river line south of Bryansk and refuse their right-hand flank the south.
Two raids are made against weak Soviet stacks one of which is successful in inflicting some losses on the Soviets.
AGS: The northern end of the line pulls back around Kursk pulling back the left flank to try and main contact with Army Group Centre. They abando two forts to do so.
In the far south the Romanian army and its German allies pull back from the bend of the Donets and move 30 miles west in a controlled withdrawal.
A raid is made against an overzealous 5-6 Gd unit in the van of the Soviet march West which is cardered.
Air Combat:: The Airdrop at Tartu is the most interesting air activity this turn and is covered above. (2 gliders lost on landing). Before the airdrop the Luftwaffe moves to eliminate fighter opposition by launching a bombing raid on the fighter base at Parnu. A Ju87 escorted by two flights of 109Gs is intercepted by the target Soviet Mig13. It is aborted by the ME109s and Aborts to the only airbase in range Tartu!!. The bombs fall wide but the aim of removing the threat of interception of the transports is achieved.
The remaining German actions consists of some ground support around to Dougavpils and Defensive Air Support over the front to the south. Soviet interceptors cause some damage to the DAS but themselves suffer losses in equal proportion both sides inflicting a couple of eliminations and some aborts.
In one such encounter a lone P40C hunting a Ju88A is jumped by two FW190s and a Ju88C. Suffice to say it does not live to tell the tale.
In the south in a rare and unexpected development long-range aircraft make a night-time bombing raid against the Soviet factory at Stalingrad but the 18 points of combat and positional AA ensure that none of the raiders reach their target and the factory remains unscathed.
Auto Attacks = 2, Diced combats = 8
Losses: Axis = 2xAir, 2x Gliders expended./
Soviets = 69, 3xPos AA, 2Res pts, 2xAir on ground., 2 in flight.