Most of the political effects in the early part of the ini phase are now N/A, but the Axis is allowed to start putting pressure on the Leventine Vichy French. We do so, and Petain takes a hard look at where things stand in Greece and North Africa and quickly caves to Axis demands. Axis air units will be allowed to operate from Leventine air bases, which will make an excellent safe haven for raids against the Suez Canal. Also, should Iraq finally come over to the Axis side, Levant access will allow for immediate operations in the Near East theater. (5 rolled, and unlike the Iraqi roll, low is good for us, so Axis gets full air rights in the Levant). We next collect 3 VPs for owning Massaua.
In supply issues, the units in the Dodecanese are U-4, except those on Scarpanto, fed by the 4 GSPs delivered by Ju-52 in the surprise turn. In East Africa, all units are U-4, and the 7th Col Inf X in the mtns just east of Addis is isolated as well. 12 GSPs created in the Allied Apr I 41 turn are used to feed the movement of 11 or so units near Massaua, with the emphasis on Cons III’s, TC’s and some units directly facing the flanks of the Allied coastal advance. Also, the CR.42 is provided additional fuel and spares for a full turn of operation, though there’s little it can do. On the Allied side, Malta’s troops are U-4 except the flak II’s at U-3, with no GSPs available. Tobruch’s defenders go U-1 red & isolated. The Brit X on Melos is U-1. The Allied X that landed disrupted at Bulhar in British Somaliland is U-1 isolated, but GSPs provide supply. After all these calculations, the 7th Col Inf X rolls a 4 and gives up the ghost.
Iraqi conspirators look at Axis advances in North Africa, Greece and the Levant and nearly come over to the Axis (10 rolled, with a German unit just on the Libyan side of the border, so we missed the coup by 1 pip, or one hex, take your choice.)
Lots of replacement activity. In the Balkans, two add’l Italian inf XX’s show up for service in Albania, while 2 inf RPs, 2 a/s, 1 mtn RP arrive as well. The last 2 ARPs for the Axis, Italian ones in North Africa, are transferred to the Balkans and used to replace the bombers luckily aborted on Albanian airbases in the allied turn. For the Germans, the 7th Fallshirmjager XX, plus the Sturm III and the Sturm glider II arrive in Southeast Germany for rail to the front. Ten gruppen of Ju-52’s and a glider unit show up in south German cities to support the special operators. One a/s and a pair of res pts show up in southern Bulgaria as well, while the SMP pool goes up 5 to 20 for the command. Finally, an Italian SM.79-1 returns from parts unknown for continued service in the Balkans. For North Africa, 15th Pzr Hq and its supporting 104th m Inf III arrive in Sicily for movement to Libya. The Italian 36th LtAA II does so as well. One Me109E shows up on Sicily, operating location as yet undetermined for this month pending airbase capacity near Tobruch. Lastly, 2 a/s and ½ Ital Inf RP arrive in Sicily for shipment forward. In East Africa, .5 EAC Inf RP are produced in Massaua, while 16 units are scrapped to produce 2 more points, 1 each placed at Dessie and Massaua. GSPs are placed at each of the regular locations, plus each high volume line edge hex along Map 14 (less Pleven, which already created some and it didn’t appear ‘correct’ to produce twice in the same Apr I 41 period.) The fort being produced at Massaua is completed. After landing hundreds of German planes in the southern Balkans, Koritsa is 1 overstacked so a CR.42 there goes inop, while the two Italian harassers not aborted in the Allied turn remain inop as well. On the Allied side, Soddu is overstacked, so the Audax there goes inop.
The allies begin the turn with a quick transfer of the Mxd S at Soddu down to the airfield at Lugh Ferrandi, unstacking the field. Then a pair of bombing raids against Malta occur, with 5x SM.79-1’s and 2x Ca.133’s strat bombing the port status. Flak is a bit weaker this time with the two flak II’s at U-3, but even so, the 5 points effective shift to the 2 column does manage to abort one SM.79 when a snake-eyes is rolled during flak shots. The bombers however get their vengeance, as the SM.79’s generate 3 hits in 4 attempts, and the Ca.133’s follow up with one more, bringing the Malta status to a maximum 15. The third air raid occurs when the BR.20M is staged to Beyrouth, flies a strat bombing against Port Said and rolls a 5 for a hit (+1 Axis VP). It returns to Damas where it is covered by the French D.520 (one of the best all round fighters on the map currently.) There it will be safe from Allied retribution unless the Allies wish to invade the Levant with 3 cav III’s, the only thing in the area.
Various naval missions then occur. The first sees one a/s from Palermo to Derna, the furthest eastern port we are likely to get until Tobruch falls. The three new ground units on Sicily are all shipped to Benghazi, and then the remaining a/s point and ½ Ital RP are sent to Tripoli. None of these missions are contacted by naval forces out of Malta. The last mission for North Africa sees the 24th Corp Art III and 29th HvAA II at Homs moved via the coast to Benghazi. In East Africa, the Est Cons III is moved via the coast to Assab via the Red Sea NTP. Then, Adriatic and Aegean operations begin. An a/s and Inf XX are each shipped to Durazzo and Valona, and then the 2 Inf and 1 Mtn RP are sent forward to Albania as well. Long range British subs fail to make contact. Then the Axis special operations begin, with “Scarpanto’s Revenge” kicking off the action. The ‘C’ Inf III (a 2-6 broken down from the Italian 6 Cno XX) is amphibiously moved to Crete, hex 4503 between Khania and Rethymnon. Greek naval forces make contact (on the 0 column, not too difficult, as the city of Thessalonike was not seized when the Greeks fully manned the Metaxas line), but they fail to significantly impact the operation when a 6 is rolled on the effects chart. Having had literally months to practice operations at Scarpanto, the Italian infantryman manage to get off the Italian light craft with no difficulty whatsoever (6 rolled for no disruption.) The Greek Rethymnon static X manages to roll a 6 for reaction, but when it’s discovered they cannot move into the hex in which the landing was made (no allied troops also in the hex), the X chooses to remain in place and defend the port. A planned for CAP over the landing hex is canx as well.
Ground movement then begins. In North Africa, infantry and armor replace a few of the Italian units laying siege to Tobruch, while some armor and the Trento XX move east. From the border, a fan of Axis units surge forward into Egypt, gaining ownership of terrain roughly from just east of Matruh down the road to the Siwa Oasis. To the rear, the 27 Brs Inf XX and Tonini admin up to just west of Tobruch, the 1 “23 M” CCNN Inf XX admins up to Derna to garrison that port, and the just landed initial elements of the 15th Pzr XX admin to Barce. A single art III and some flak units take up the garrison of Benghazi. Well to the rear, two more Inf XX’s slowly admin their way across Libya towards the front.
In East Africa, a strong line (that will be GSP supplied in the Allied turn) is built just north of Massaua (two 7-8 pt stacks) with a few scattered units taking up positions in the mountains to the west of the Nacfa valley and theoretically guarding the eastern approach to the Asmara valley. The rail line from Cheren to Massaua is completely blown as these units shift, with the Cheren position essentially abandoned, as are most locations to the south near Adi Ugri. The units that had been facing the western threat blow the bridges and retreat up to Massaua, except one, the Asb X which shifts southeast towards the mountain road to Dessie. In Massaua itself, Cons III’s continue blasting the port, so now there are 7 hits, with an 8th partially complete. Well to the south, at Assab, the Est Cons begins blowing that port as well, while westwards at Dessie units consolidate for that redoubt’s last stand, with only a single pos AA still to make the position. In southern Sudan, three X’s of infantry and Bande play tag with Ethopians, but this game is likely nearly up as the Free French and the 68th Art II are within striking range, and the 4th Royal Tank appears poised to join them. The Addis area has been cleared, but there are still units east and south of Gimma, plus in the Mendebo mountains. One such charges out and puts a zoc on the SEAC Cons X and 5th S.Afr X to prevent those units from converting next turn (cheesy, eh whot, but it delays the formation of the full S.Afr XX at least a turn as well, which will likely be necessary to assault Dessie and clear the road leading north to Massaua from that cities southern flank, unless the units from the Addis region wish to go the long way via Gondar!) In the Oromos Highlands, the units which had been protecting Gimma’s flanks abandoned their positions entirely and begin shifting east through the mountains since their city is likely flanked from the north by a c/m end around. One Bande X putters about near Soddu but can do nothing but wave at the Allied troops and merely waits to be attacked. A cav and infantry stack is created at Hula in the western Mendebo mountains, actually south of nearly all Allied troops at this point, though it isn’t really in striking distance of anything. Hopefully we will at least operate as a force in being for the immediate future and force the Allies to garrison Addis and Soddu. In the far south eastern portion of the theater, two Bande X’s putz about as well, one managing to drop a bridge which will likely never see an Allied foot. The coastal III continues attempting to get into the war at 4 admin hexes a turn. In the far west, the 2dF Bande leaves Uganda and enters northwest Kenya, seizing the Lokichar oasis via zoc. The 1dF in northern Kenya reverses coarse now that a Col X is approaching and starts going back towards Moyale via the FWR in the ravines to the west of that town. It ends its turn around 30 miles northeast of Marsabit. Finally, in the far northwest, the 10th Col Inf X shifts around the Malakal airfield, while the 3dF Bande approach from the south.
In the Balkans, the four Mtn XX’s and a pair of Panzer XX’s, supported by some 4 arty units, 3 engineer III’s, a mtn eng II, and a mtn commando (useless in combat, except that it aids in the mountaineering calculation) shoot the gap north of Thessalonike and hit the 4612 hex of the Aliakmon line from the north across the river. 5th and 9th Pzr, plus the LSSAH, 2 flak III’s and a pair of asslt gun II’s assault the 4611 swamp hex from across the Vardar river, while the GD m Inf III attacks from the northwest side… an ugly place for tanks, but it’s what can get there and entering the swamp hex will position the units for a very good exploit to follow. Meanwhile, 164th Lehr Inf XX, Das Reich, 198th and 294th Inf XX’s plus a few odds and sods invest Thessalonike from northwest and eastern sides. Two more inf XX’s screen the 51st Mtn III in the wooded rough northeast of the city from across the river, but no assault will be launched as the Greeks are likely to surrender all on their own. At 4307, an eng III builds a 2 cap temp airbase, supported by the small 49th m art III just in case the Greeks don’t start surrendering in droves. To the east, the infantry units which took Alexandroupolis head west and invest the remaining Metaxas line hexes, though again, no attacks from this direction are anticipated. These movements do seize Xanthe, resulting in a 1 RE rail cap loss to Greece, which drops to 8. With a total of 2 Greek RE’s of capacity lost, the Axis Balkan cap goes up to 31. To the north, Bulgarian units move into border hexes to keep the Greeks surrounded on their northern side, but as yet they have not received permission to enter Greece proper. Over in Albania, Italian units shift for a possible infantry assault in the coastal area, plus a mtn assault in a very weak spot along the line. Other units shift around the northern flank of the line which had a 1 hex gap, and make contact with the German 60th m Inf XX which reached a point just west of Edessa. To the rear in Albania, some cons units begin temp fields, while the infantry and cons units that had been up near Yugoslavia quickly shift down to the south via admin movement to Koritsa.
Finally, the broken down III’s of the Fallshirmjager rail off map and then back on at Pleven. From there, given that both Khania and Rethymnon are still occupied, the two III’s that were planned for assaults on Crete at 4503 are picked up by 8 Ju-52 gruppen staging into Pleven. They launch long-range air drops against 4503. No fighters are in the area, though the patrol zone out of Melos does need to be skirted. The drops go off fairly well, as the 7/1 para III lands undistrupted (4 rolled), while the 7/2 para III lands disrupted (2 rolled). Simultaneously, the 4 GSPs on Scarpanto are picked up again and dropped on Crete (busy little GSPs), though rolls are poor and only 2 arrive unscattered.
Unable to react to the airborne operations (same hex as the amphib op and limited to one reaction attempt per hex), Allied troops in Khania and Rethymnon remain stuck in place. Allied Hurricanes out of Larisa do react to this ‘massive’ airborne operation by flying a CAP over the invasion hex. (Sidebar: not sure why this was done actually, as that bolt has already been shot. Perhaps the Allies consider it possible that additional units will be flown into the invasion hex, but there are too few Ju-52’s for such a project. At this point, the Axis units will be attacking west and possibly east out of the bridgehead on Crete…)
Afterwards, the Me110C stages to Scarpanto and flies a CAP over Rethymnon (can’t reach Khania) to hopefully keep DAS away from that city (blasted Allied bombers just happened to land at Khania in the Allied turn, so attacks that had projected to be DAS free may very well have ½ pt each added to the unsupported Greek X’s currently in each city.) Then, after 2 GSPs are railed from the 14A map edge to Plovdiv, one of the two remaining Ju-52’s flies the GSPs on a long range air transport to Scarpanto to feed the flak guns on the island, as it is anticipated that Axis a/c will be operating from that field by end of turn.
Given that there is a possible DAS provider at Thessalonike, an Me109E is flown as a CAP over the 4611 swamp hex while a pair of Italian fighters stage forward in Albania and CAP the 4612 wooded rough/fort hex. Allied response is to fly the Hurricane from Tobruch and the Greek P.24 as a CAP over Rethymnon, and the Glad from Tobruch as a CAP over Khania. They also transfer the Blen1’s at Thessalonike to Athenai, unwilling to brave the Axis CAP on the nearby attacks presumably (or the large flak presence perhaps.)
The Bombay transports load up on bombs and fly DAS to Rethymnon, where the P.24 switches to escort. Axis high command could have the Me110C’s switch to intercept & bypass. However, after juggling the numbers, it’s decided that using the 3 ground units on Crete to attack both airbases would require a minimum of 5 bombers to ensure a likelihood of success, and the Rethymnon attack would be no better than 6:1 -1 unless the Me110C’s manage to impact the Allied DAS. That attack has a small chance of generating an EX result that would kill off the attack para III and leave the Allies in control of the port and airbase regardless. Having gotten ahead of the Allied decision loop by landing so early, albeit weakly, in Crete, it’s decided to go with a cheaper and more conservative bomber effort at just Khania. It’s got the bigger airbase and is covered with a much weaker fighter, and with 3 RE’s attacking, is a guaranteed win at 9:1 -1 as the worst odds. Putting as many bombers as possible in central Greece, Scarpanto and at Khania could prevent an Allied troops from landing on Crete should the Allies decide to abandon mainland Greece to her fate. Also, a simple 4 pt harassment mission at 4503 will ensure no attacks are launched by troops landing at Rethymnon, which will give the Axis another turn to fly in additional troops to support the Crete campaign come Apr II 41. At this point, the Me110C’s have done their job since they attracted a large Allied air response and they are well positioned to return to Scarpanto to act as possible naval patrol escorts. They don’t convert to intercept. The Wellington 1C’s fly DAS over their own airbase at Khania.
The Axis flies massive GS across the Balkan theater, but only the mission over Khania can be intercepted, so I’ll note that here before pressing to the actual combats. Two Ju-87R’s and the He111H4 ‘S’ code fly GS to Khania, unescorted. The Glad there switches from CAP to intercept and then gets randomly allocated against the Heinkels. It then proceeds to roll snake-eye’s, killing the S code. The He’s roll a 7 for a miss.
The Wehrmacht then gets into the action, first at Thessalonike. Das Reich, three Inf XX’s and assorted support troops assault the city from east and northwest. Unfortunately, the southern approaches cannot get covered by zoc as the only units that could have done so were flowing to the west of the city in more critical attacks. The city is well defended by the Greek 2nd Mtn XX, plus a flak and arty III. Still, the odds are well against the defenders and they are eventually pushed from the city. (8:1 -1 odds, dot city, 2 rolled for a DR. Units flee southwards.) The loss of the city and its port results in a number of items: one of the two Greek full supply sources is taken, the Allied Aegean NTP pool drops from 5 to 3, the Axis pool goes first from 3 to 5, and then because Germany has intervened and there is a rail connection north, from 5 to 8. Also, the Greek rail cap drops from 8 to 6, while the Axis Balkan net goes from 31 to 32. More importantly, the full airbase capacity of the city is seized. Most of the units from the east advance, as does some pos aa and an arty III from the northwest.
Following this, the assault on the Aliakmon line begins, firstly by flanking the central hex. A full armored XXX assaults from across river into the swamp at 4611. The defense is just a bdr X and art III, while 2 Pzr XX’s, LSSAH, 2 flak III’s, 2 aslt gun II’s assault from the river side, while GD m Inf III flanks from the northwest side. Twelve gruppen of a/c of all flavors fly 33 pts of GS, halved, to support this endeavor to ensure maximum 9:1 -1 odds (critical, as no less than a DH is necessary to allow for the follow-on overrun of the British 1st Arm X and any survivor of this first Aliakmon battle.) It is well that the Axis invested so many a/c, as a 1 is rolled, resulting in a DH (would have been a DR at 8:1 -1… yuck.) The border X dies while the art III retreats to the temporarily safe town of Katerine across the Aliakmon. All units assaulting from the northeast across the Vardar (or is it the Axios in Greece?) advance. The assault across the river itself now begins in earnest. Four Gebirgsjager XX’s, the 2nd & 11th Pzr XX’s, 3 III’s of engineers, a mtn eng II and a mtn commando II, plus 3 arty III’s are just sufficient to ensure the engineer mod vs the fort and ½ mountaineering effects against the wooded rough at 4612, defended by the Greek 3rd Mtn XX, the 17th Mtn XX’s cadre, and the B Lt AA III. Two Ju87B’s and an He111H4 fly GS… if all three get buy flak the attack will go in at 6:1 -1, though the return of just one will drop the odds ot 5:1 -1, and a loss of all three would mean a risky 4:1 -1, possibly compromising the whole exploit as well. In actuality, the flak gunners are surprised; perhaps their eyes were drawn to the virtual air armada assaulting the position to their east. Regardless, all flak misses. The attack is a great success (6:1 -1, fort, wooded-rough, 1/10th Eng, ½ Mtneering, 4 rolled for a DH). The 3rd Mtn XX is cadred and then all three surviving units retreat to Mt Olympus, their only retreat location now that Axis units/zocs are on their right flank. All c/m troops advance, as does the 5th Gebirgsjager and a few other non-divisionals.
The Italians then begin assaulting from the west. Three Alpini XX’s (one broken down), assault and destroy an unsupported 26th Mtn III at 3601 in a 13:1 even attack (a/s from Valona, mtns, full mtneering, 3 rolled for a DE.) Then, a limited assault on the main line along the coast goes off exceedingly well. 2nd Sfor XX, 2 art III’s, the last tanks in the Cham front and the SM Marine II assault the center of the Greek line, manned by the 4th Mtn XX. German and Italian a/c provide 10 pts of GS to bump the odds to 4:1 even (rough, 1/10 aeca, a/s from Valona), and with a 5 rolled some vengeance is meted out for the lost Centauro XX and M/C troops (DH result, 4th Mtn cadred, retreats to 4002 to cover the road across the mtns.)
Finally, the Special Forces units on Crete attack westwards into Khania. Even with the loss of the He111H4 S code, there is more than sufficient GS to offset the .5 DAS provided by the Wellingtons. The attack ends up an 11:1 -1 after all the DAS, GS, para trooper and amphib ops mods, and distruption are taken into account. The result is a forgone conclusion, but a 4 is rolled for a DE, sending the Khania static X into the pool. The C Inf III and both para III’s advance into the hex, carrying the 2 GSPs airdropped previously.
The Ju87R’s land at Khania, where they can provide excellent naval patrol opportunities. Other German and Italian a/c land all over northern Greece, southern Bulgaria and Albania. For the Allies, the Bombays and Wellingtons, plus the victorious Glad F’s head for Melos. The Greek P.24’s head for Eraklion. Two Hurri’s and the Me110C remain on CAP over the island. Two Italian F’s and an Me109E remain on CAP over northern Greek hexes, which will allow them to land at airbases seized in the exploit phase.
Mostly rearward c/m units, consisting 5th & 9th Pzr, Das Reich, plus GD Lb m Inf III, 180 Lr Hv AA III, 190 & 191 Aslt Gn II’s and 612 m Art III then overrun the British 1st Arm X and the Greek G Art III at Katerine. This springs open a gap in the Greek line, with c/m forces surging forward into the Greek rear of the Aliakmon position. After all is said and done, GD m Inf III holds the supply line open at Katerine, 9th Pzr XX holds the north bank of the Pinios at 4812, pinning units at Mt Olympus, Das Reich and some non-divs take Larisa and its airfield (-1 rail cap to Greek, +0.5 rail to Axis), 5th Pzr XX holds 4914 just west of Larisa, and 11th Pzr and non-divs swing around the Greek rear to take Kalabaka. To complete the encirclement (zoc) of the remaining Aliakmon units, 60th m Inf XX crosses the mtn hexside and seizes Grevena. By this point, all Greek units in Thrace, the northern most portion of the Cham line and the whole of the Aliakmon line are isolated (and guaranteed to surrender due to Greek demoralization effects that will occur with the loss of the Brit Armor X and the reduction of the Allied presense on the mainland to less than 7 RE’s.) Further south, LSSAH shoots the gap, takes Volos (-1 rail cap to Greece, +0.5 to Axis) and then takes the north bank of the Spherkios, guarded by just a pair of Cons Xs and a border X for the moment. Flak units follow, one holding Volos and the other assisting LSSAH. Finally, 2nd Pzr and the 50th Aslt Eng II exploit all the way to 4301, just northeast of Karpenesion and threatening the rear of the Greek units along the coast, as yet unisolated. Essentially, the entire region of Thessaly is seized during exploit.
In North Africa, two II’s of armor move back from the Porto Bardiya area and rejoin the forces sieging Tobruch. Trento abandons the Tobruch siege line and heads for the Halfaya Pass, where it is joined by units that had moved forward to the Matruh-Siwa Oasis road. Other such units set up flanking positions southward on either side of the border. At this point, the Axis and Allies have essentially returned to their original positions prior to Compass, except that Tobruch is held by the Allies and is under siege, while the remaining Allies have abandoned the Matruh and El Alemein areas and centralized themselves at Alexandria.
In East Africa, movements are limited given the current number of c/m forces. The one m Inf X shifts one hex northwest along the mtn line northwest of Massaua, creating a full line from the coast at 2104 to 2105, then up the mtns to 1806 and ending at 1706, the last two hexes additionally covered by the upper Anseba river. With supply available for defensive purposes next turn and just 11 pts in attack strength in the area, the coastal portion of the defense at 7-8 pts each stack should prevent anything but perhaps a 2:1 -1, or 1.5:1 even attack. Doubtful the Allies will launch attacks in this theater whose success hinges on exchanges. El Kaid will probably have to settle for knocking against the mtn line to clear the flanks, and wait for the South Africans and Colonials to clear Dessie and make their way up from the north. Could be a long wait till Massaua falls, especially in light of the 3 a/s that have been sequestered there. Two to three months seems a reasonable time frame for the Duca to hold out.
Following the exploit ground movement, a few more air missions are launched with as yet unused air groups. First the Mxd B on Rodi bombs the Eraklion field w/ the Greek P.24 in residence. The inop P.24 scrambles back to Rethymnon, and the Mxd B’s miss the now empty field. Continued attempts by the Mxd F on Rodi to strafe the Eraklion field and a Ju88A staged in from eastern Thrace likewise miss. At this point, with just one air unit remaining unused (less a few bombers on Sicily that have no need to brave Malta flak just to put down additional port hits of limited value), action shifts to Melos. A group of Me109E’s stages to Khania and strafes the Melosian airfield. The Glad’s choose not to scramble, and when 5 is rolled they are chosen over the Well1C and Bombay transports to take the hit.
At the end of the phase, the Hurricanes still flying CAP over Crete are returned to base, one to Melos and the other to Eraklion. The Me110C returns to base on Scarpanto.
End of Turn
VPs stand at 64 to negative 2, in favor of the Axis.