Axis units on Rhodes remain U-4, while the stack in Egouminitsa goes U-1, isolated. Over on Kerkyra, the Greek 10th Inf III remains U-4 isolated so it makes a surrender check. A 1 is rolled and the Greek 10th joins other units in the dead pool. In the EA area, 9 RE’s of ground units near the Addis area use 12 GSPs created last turn to go into supply. The remaining 3 RE’s are used to put the Italian bombers into supply for upcoming bombing runs across the front. In North Africa, the siege of Tobruk begins with the defending Italian units going U-1 isolated.
In Italy, the 4th Cns Alpini XX shows up for duty on the Albanian front, as does a “volunteer” unit of Ju-52 drivers from the Luftwaffe. One inf RP is used to bring back at Valona the 1-2-6* ‘B’ III that was killed in the Greek turn. In Sicily, the 10B mot Inf III and the 5th Tank II show up for duty in the North African area. We choose to delay the reorganization of the 5th Army, using .5 of our 2 Ital RPs in NA for rebuilding the 10th Army Const III (killed at Bardia, but not during the Italian disarray period.) The 5th Army’s const III is declared as the unit that can move this turn. The Ju87 killed a couple of weeks ago is repaired on Sicily since we judge their to be no chance that attacks in the Benghazi area will be launched by the Allies next turn and it hasn’t the legs or the air cover to assist with the defense of Tobruk.
Anticipating possible Allied action in the south portion of the EA theater, the Duca converts the a/s at Chisimaio and Mogadiscio to 12 GSPs each. At the very least this will keep the grubby Allies from seizing attack supply by coup de main, and it could force them to use more units for overruns during their turn since we’ll be able to supply units in that area. If anything remains, the GSPs will be available for mov’t in our next turn as well. Back in Italy, the one res pt I shipped back in our Dec I turn is converted to airbase repair points, but since I figure the Allies may be thinking special ops in the south Aegean islands area, I delay using them for the time being.
Only change in garrisons is that the Cyrenaica garrison was released in the previous Allied turn. The Koritsa fort continues to be worked on, and given that no Allied unit is even adjacent to the town it looks as if it will be completed on the Axis Jan I 41 turn successfully. That should assist in holding the airfield and town quite nicely.
At the end of the turn the Allies declare naval patrol operations by the three bomber units currently stationed at Larissa in Greece. They make no other naval patrol or CAP declarations.
The turn kicks off with various naval and air operations. Our first mission launches with 2 SM.79-I’s and an SM.81 strat bombing the Malta status number. No flak can shoot due to column shifts, but Italian bombers roll very poorly with a 1 and two 2’s rolled, for no hits. The Ju87 and Ba.65 launch air raids against the Maltese airfield. Flak is ineffectual, with a pair of 9’s rolled. The Ju87 misses with another 2 rolled, but the Ba.65 does manage a 5, putting a hit on the field. Given the poor performance of the strat bombers and the new Ju87 that should help fend off Allied naval missions to Malta, the other two SM.79’s that had previously been planned to bomb the port instead go after the status number. They roll no better than their comrades however, rolling a pair of ones. Argh… we need to clean the bomb sights I guess. In the hopes that our luck will change, we shift air ops to the EA area. The SM.81 stages from Addis to Massaua and runs a bombing op against the rail junction at the Haiya oasis (hoping to prevent the 6th Australian XX which shipped into Port Sudan last turn from using rail mov’t to get into the attack on Tessenai, which we expect.) It rolls a 4, better than our previous attempts but unsuccessful nonetheless. One of the Ca.133’s does the same, but after staging it improves insufficiently with a 5 rolled for yet another miss. Hoping to change things up again, the last Ca.133 stages to Dire Daua and then bombs the Aden airfield and the Blen1 sitting on the ramps. One point of flak rolls an 8 and misses, but the Italian bombing fails to improve again, with another 2 rolled. Horrible air turn!
In our first naval mission in North Africa, the 5 A and 10 A const III’s are hauled via the coastal route (no interference rolls) from Tripoli to Benghazi. We then run three missions from Italy to Albania, with the 2nd and 3rd ferrying the supported but broken down III’s of the 4th Cns Alpini XX across to Porto Edda and the 4th ferrying an arm RP to Valona. All three get by Allied naval interference. I run them separately to ensure a lucky naval patrol or interference roll can’t take out the whole XX. The Mid-East owned Blen1 at Larissa launches against the 1st III’s mission while it unloads at Porto Edda during daylight hours. Contact is a failure however with a 1 rolled (+4 for calm seas, -1 for distance). The Balkan a/c both launch against the arm RP mission at Valona and this time contact is successful with a 3 rolled (+4 for calm seas, -2 for dist.) However, no covering fighters are available since they haven’t the legs for the mission, so two Italian fighter units rise up to defend the unloading tanks, one CR.42 out of Valona and one CR.32bis from Koritsa. They get randomly allocated with the CR.32bis against the British Blen1 and the CR.42 against the Greek Mxd B unit. The CR.32bis rolls a 5, modified to 4 for F vs B and scores an abort on the 0 column. The Blen1 returns fire, also rolls a 5, but modified to a 6 for B vs F, and gets an R on the 0 column. The CR.42 rolls a 7 (mod to 6) for an R against the Mxd B unit (0 column), while the Greeks roll a 6 (mod to 7) for a miss on the CR.42 (-1 column). No Allied bombers remain, so the air missions end at this point. Our next naval mission moves another res pt from Assab on the Red Sea up to Massaua, via the coastal route to avoid naval interference.
Returning to the air for a moment, the Ju52 in Italy air transports one inf and one mtn RP over to Koritsa so that the town can be used as a replacement location in the future. In our final air/sea move, the 5th Tank II loads up on Sicily and crosses the Med to Benghazi (5 rolled on 6 column for no contact) and the 10 B mot Inf III crosses to Derna (7 rolled on 6 column for no contact.)
Proceeding with ground mov’t, in the Balkan area I concentrate a massive (for the Italain) force for a counter-attack opportunity against the Greek 4th & 13th Mtn XX’s and the supporting 5/14th Mtn III. All mtn units are used, as are the remaining armored and c/m forces, plus various other units. The attack should go in at 3:1 even, thanks to reconnecting with the Egouminitsa defenders to alleviate their isolation. The 3503 and 3603 hexes will have to be somewhat decreased in defensive value, but I do manage to increase the 3401 hex which has twice previously been attacked up by a point to 8 points defending. The 3:1 will risk an AS, which would leave me ill-positioned, but the Centauro and a m/c III can exploit a bit to mitigate the risk and mud will almost certainly occur next turn in E so hopefully Egouminitsa won’t be too threatened with an AS result. Other Balkan ground mov’t sees a const III complete all repairs to the Valona port while another such III admins through the mud up to Durazzo. The replaced ‘B’ III admins over to the eastern front, making 3302 where it can get into the line next turn. A few SMPs are used to move up an a/s to near Valona as well so that it can be used in the upcoming counterattack.
In North Africa, tank II’s destroy both the Soluch and the 3617 airfields, while the 2nd Lt Arm X and 10 B mot Inf III’s manage to destroy the Derna field. All are permanently removed. The infantry and arty that had been defending two hexes northwest of Gazala use the clear weather to admin west along the coastal roads to just east of Benghazi. The 1st Lt Arm X admins over to Agedabia, while the 10 C Arty III admins to 2228, a couple of hexes south and west of that town. The Tonini parachute inf and 24 dM Art III admin to El Agheila. With the Agedabia airfield soon to be destroyed, the CR.42 stationed there does a quick transfer over to the field at El Aghiela. Attack supply is SMP’d as far as 2529, about 60 miles to the rear of the El Aghiela position.
In East Africa, the Duca rolls a miserly 1 for Axis conservatism, limiting him to 2 RE’s of mov’t He admins the 65th GdS Inf XX as far forward as possible, but is otherwise restricted to completing the blowing of the Om Ager, Tessenei and Adama bridges and putting hits on various airfields (permanently removing both the Tessenei and Agordat fields.) Logistically, he does keep the trucks moving, moving an a/s point from east of Addis to almost the village of Macalle (16 SMPs used, burning up 2 SMPs permanently and leaving just 15 remaining.)
Sidebar: I seriously begin to wonder whether the Italians could possibly move all their units into historical positions even with max conservatism rolls, and given that we are getting no where near max (rolls of 2 and 1), it would appear the AOI area is not only pro-allied for its way too early allowances of Allied mov’ts (something I’ve carped about previously), but also very much anti-Axis given what I feel to be an exceptionally trying straight-jacket with these conservatism allowances. Why are the Italians forced to deal with such “idiot rules” which even further limit their historical performance, while the Allies don’t even face the limits they did have historically? (I.e, they get to start 6 weeks early on this campaign, while the Italians are forced to both endure the early start and react so sluggishly that I for one don’t believe they can get into historical positions even with the best rolls, and certainly not the worst!) One hesitates to use the word “broken” but I’m getting closer and closer. We’ll have to see how the Allies do on their campaign in Eritrea before I at least solidify that opinion, but I for one am certainly leaning that way. It’s not as if the historical Italian performance could be considered the “best” they could do and the Allies were historically simply blundering about, yet this reversal on activity limits seems to imply such. One wonders how the historical Allies ever managed to let the Keren pass battles occur, or how the Italians ever managed to fight delaying actions at the various rivers leading to that spot and then held off the Allies as long as they did since the units around Tessenei and Barentu-Agordat are essentially locked in place given all the units the Italians “need” to move. Anyway, returning to the game at hand…
At the end of mov’t, the Greek player clearly sees the ‘big push’ that is occurring in the south against his forward units. He flies the Greek P.24F unit up to 3804 to attempt to fend of the presumed GS which is coming.
No DAS is flown since all Allied air units within range of our one attack are currently inop or aborted. Since the Allies flew CAP I am forced to fly all units that can bomb in the Albanian theater to 3408, including the Mc.200 fighter (no dropping of bombs allowed by the IAF), to ensure that I get the necessary 6 points of GS, escorted by the single remaining fighter available (the G.50). This is necessary to ensure that if the P.24 bypasses and gets allocated to the Ju87B/R and gets a result on it, I still get 6 points to kick the attack over to a 3:1. In the actual event, the Greek fighters do attempt to slip by the G.50 and engage the bombers. Fortunately, my rolls of 1’s previously experienced during bombing attempts continue, and the G.50 rolls snake-eye’s against the Greek fighter, promptly eliminating it. This will really hurt the Allies in the Balkans since the Greeks don’t get many ARPs. It will be March 41 before the Greek F can be rebuilt! Finally, some positive results in the air.
In combat, we launch just one attack. All four Italian Mtn XX’s are martialed (for both their strength and due to the mtn hexsides in the area), as are a pair of Inf XX’s (one broken down however), the Centauro XX, an m/c III, a tank II, a Cav III, an Albanian Inf X, the SM Marine II and a couple of Arty III’s, plus 10 points of effective GS. Facing the Italians are a 12 point DS stack, consisting of the 4th and 13th Mtn XX’s and the 5/14th Mtn III. The actual attack goes in at 3:1 even (a/s fully provided, rough terrain, 1/10th AECA, some mtn hexside affects), rolling a 3 for an HX. All Greek units die (yippie!, that should really hinder their offensive ops from now on), but the elite 3rd Julia Alpini XX is cadred and the 19 Gde Cav III eliminated. I should however soon have a third mtn RP with which to rebuild the Julia… Two 4-8 Alp XX’s, the Centauro XX and the 2 ‘C’ Inf III’s advance.
Very limited. In the Balkans, the ‘C’ III’s recombine into the 37th Inf XX in the seized hex, while the Centauro exploits into Egouminitsa to bring it’s defense back up since one of the ‘C’ III’s had been in that hex. The 2B M/C III exploits into the muddy mountains at 3603 to bring its defense back up to 6. I’m tempted to send the 4 M tank II as well, but then decide to leave it in Kalpaki so that hex remains at 9 DS. In North Africa, the 10 B mot Inf III and the 2nd Arm X exploit back over to just east of Benghazi, while the 3rd Tank II enters the city itself. The 1st Tank II moves from Soluch to just southwest of Agedabia, joined by the 1st Lt Arm X after it destroys and removes the Agedabia airfield. The Duca sadly sits on his kiester, sipping Italian wine in Massaua and ignoring reports from field units about Allied units concentrating on his borders. Certainly they wouldn’t dare cross into Italian territory (guess he missed the word about Compass?)
At the end of the turn, the Glad south of Tobruk transfers up to Athenai while the transport unit at Matruh transfers back to Alexandria.