No real changes in supply status on the Axis side. We use 12 GSPs at Asmara to supply a goodly number of units in the Cheren-Asmara-Adi Ugri area, plus some over on the coast. Bunches of Allied units in mainland Greece are out of supply and isolated, but the U-4 ones at least all get GSP supply, as do the ones near Athenai. The ones too far from Athenai and Patrai go without. Malta is U-4 too, but GSPs were delivered last turn, so they keep the flak gunners and infantry units firing at full strength. Two small stacks northeast of Addis Ababa are out of supply since they outran their lines and left Italian units/zoc’s in their rear.
In politics, nothing much occurs. The Iraqi situation stabilizes with another 7 rolled (interestingly, every roll has been either the same or higher… we just started at a 3. Eventually, if the pattern continues, I suppose the coup will occur.)
In Balkan reinforcements, the 9th and 14th Corps’ artillery and cons units show up for duty in Greece/Albania. An MC.200 also arrives, while the Ju87B/R returns. Four a/s, four Inf RPs, and one Arm RP arrive too, plus 2 ARPs, which are immediately used to bring back the Mxd B on Rodi and the BR.20M at Koritsa. For North Africa, the 21st Pzr Hq, the 5th Pzr III and a m Hvy AA II arrive for the DAK. The Italians add a flak II and some position AA. One SM.79-1 is withdrawn but replaced with a BR.20M. Three LW and 4 IAF ARPs arrive, just in time. The aborted pool is emptied as a Ju88A, Me110D, a CR.42 and finally the Ba.65 are returned to operational status, though the Ba.65 must immediately withdraw. One med NTP is replaced, bring the total back up to its max of three. The two units killed isolated during Compass (non-Libyan that is) go into the dead pool, while the 25th Bol Inf XX is released from the 5th Army movement restriction (one left.) The conversion of the 5th Army XX’s is delayed again by the North African CINC. In NA resource items, 2 a/s arrive at Palermo for shipment and ½ Inf RP arrives as well. For the neutrals, the Vichy MS.406 in Damas converts to a D.520, currently the best fighter on the map. Over in Tunisia, the Vichy Mxd T unit converts to an Am.143T. In East Africa, ½ EAC Inf RP arrives at Massaua, while 4 X’s are scrapped to earn another ½ pt. Total at Mass is now 2, but 1 is spent to bring back the 2nd Col Cav X. One ARP is lost since the ground crew have been called up, while the regularly scheduled Mogadiscio and Chisimaio reinforcements are lost since those cities are now Allied owned. The Ghim X does show up at Gimma however, which will be the last non-RP reinforcement for the theater, until such time as the NA CINC links up with our forces in EA. (Heh, it could happen.)
Construction wise, the airfield at Egouminitsa continues building, while a fort is started at Massaua as the allies are now approaching and an a/s was converted so that the cons X could be put into supply for the effort. The two Ju87Bs at the forward temp field go inop due to flying harassment and then the G.50 flies CAP over Malta. The allies fly no ini phase air ops and declare no immediate movement phase ops as well. They also failed to convert the a/s point with the 4th Indian XX, had that been their intention.
The sea portion of the turn kicks off the phase, but we fly a series of air ops first. We calculate that we can get a 3:1 +2 against the 4th Indian’s box southwest of Tobruch if we dedicate enough air units, push the cons units forward for even small temp airbases, and are willing to leave those bases overstacked. It will also take some of the dedicated Malta bombing a/c too, but after Hq’s consultations, we conclude that eliminating a little less than ½ the combat strength currently in North Africa and perhaps trapping the 9th Aus XX’s stack in exploit is more than worth the attempt. We are unsure whether risking the 2:1 +2 is worth the risk though, so we build in various checkpoints at which time we can decide whether to proceed or not. (2:1 +2 has the AS, which isn’t such a big deal, but the EX would hurt against a 12 pt defense stack. The Italians get no arm RPs till ’42, so any Italian c/m unit that dies stays dead for quite some time. Fragile group, those Italians.) This desire for a max air effort in North Africa leads to a somewhat tepid Malta bombing period. We send 3 SM.79-1’s at first, losing nothing to the increased flak (7 total, shifted to 3 column), but generate no hits. After further discussion, we decide we can send to more SM.79’s and let the Ju88A’s, Ca.133’s and the BR.20M handle Africa. These SM.79’s get through flak as well, but again, come up empty on hits. We are now just under 6 hits below average, and the Malta status number will remain at 9 through the turn. Hopefully the attack this turn and clearing weather in E will allow a big push to drive the status back up in Mar II. The BR.20M in Albania runs a night strategic terror bombing op against Athenai, gets by flak (5) and then rolls a 6 for a hit, generating +1 VP for the Axis (3 of 6 possible earned.) The pair of MC.200’s bomb the rail line at Veroia, roll a 6, and get a hit too. The Z.1007b strat bombs the RMY at Volos, rolls yet another 6, and wrecks the RMY, puts a hit on the line and reduces the Greek rail cap by 1 next turn. Then the Z.506B bombs the rail junction at 5014, rolls the 4th 6 in a row, and wrecks that line. Very nice serious of rolls for the Axis air force in Albania. Missions by the Mxd B on Rodi against the Melosian port and the Ju87B/R against another rail hex fail to generate any results afterwards however.
Naval movements kick off, with Arty III’s moved to Egouminitsa and Porto Edda, Cons III’s moved to Durazzo and San G.d.Medua, Inf RPs moved to Porto Edda and Durazzo, a/s to Valona and Durazzo, and the Ital Arm RP to Porto Edda. None are contacted by Allied naval forces, though there are a few close calls (two 11’s rolled.) Movement across the Med to North Africa is nearly as successful. 21st Pzr Hq and 5th Pzr III both shift from Sicily to Benghazi. Intriguingly, 4’s are rolled for both, which would have been contacts had the Malta bombing been more successful and gotten one hit (moved from 9 to 10 column), but in fact ended up no contacts as a result of the poor IAF performance at Malta. The I/33 Hvy AA II likewise moves to Benghazi without result. An Arty III at Homs is then shifted to Benghazi via the safe coastal route. The Italian flak II, pos AA and ½ RP go to Homs unscathed. The a/s points are not quite so lucky, when one of the two is contacted trying to make it to Tripoli (automatically destroyed with no roll necessary on the contact effects chart.)
Ground movement in the Balkans is extremely limited. There are now 5 XX’s in northern Albania prepped for possible Yugoslavian ops, along w/ 2 Cons III’s and more available for airbase/rail repair and/or temp airbase builds. A con III at Koritsa is pulled back to 3103 where it will be joined by another for temp airbase construction once the weather clears as well. Along the south front, units successfully “clear” Albania of the last Greek units (really, they just occupy the hex vacated by the Greeks, but that doesn’t stop the papers in Rome from trumpeting victory and Italian HQ from passing out medals.) Otherwise no real movement occurs along the front due to the poor weather and all units already essentially being in position.
Ground movement in North Africa is quite a bit more extensive. Nearly all available forward units that could reach the 4th Indian’s box are brought to bear against it, with the 200th M Inf III and an Italian LtArm X zoc’ing the box in on its flanks. Only the Tonini III is held out since its inclusion would just screw up the AECA calcs. To the rear, c/m forces (mostly the slower portions of the Trento XX, but also including the german AT II and a pair of important Italian c/m Art III’s) admin or overland up to positions within 45 miles or so of Mechili. The 55th Sav Inf XX makes it to a position a few hexes west of Mechili as well, so the 5th Army is finally beginning to arrive at the front. Further to the rear, the new German c/m forces just landed at Benghazi admin one hex through the mud so that they will at least get a clean, mud-free exploit phase. In construction, one cons III repairs the current temp base to a full 3 capacity, then moves two hexes southeast and builds a 1 capacity temp field. The other moves forward 4 hexes and builds a third temp field, allowing 8 mp air units to just reach the 4th Indian’s location. To the far rear along the coast, the remaining portions of the 5th Army that have been released slowly admin their way along the coast road (Less some arty and flak at Homs, which remains in place for later coastal naval shipments.) The one forward a/s near El Agheila is SMP’d forward to a bit west of Mechili to fuel the upcoming attack against the 4th Indian.
In East Africa, movement in the Cheren-Adi-Ugri-Coast-Massaua box is heavy, though targeted toward getting units into position to defend the northern approach to Massaua. One coastal III and an arty X are used as a non-overrunable blocking position at 14W:1703. The majority of the remaining strong units are in the Cub-Cub to Massaua area. Three units still remain at Cheren to ensure the Allies don’t try a surprise grab. With Gondar taken, one cav and one infantry unit set up blocking positions at Debarech and the Tirare river crossing respectively to keep the Belgians from swinging in against the Adua flank of the main Italian defense in the north. TC’s rush south along the mountain road from Dessie to pick-up the slower positional flak and cons units that are trying to make the Asmara-Massaua area. Further south, the CAf XX and Est Blackshirt X take up the defense of Dessie, an excellent blocking position keeping the southern route to Massaua clear of Allied troops for the moment. Around Addis, one blackshirt X remains in the eastern tip of the Oromos Highlands to sit astride the Allied supply lines, while another Col X retakes the rail line leading to Dire Daua. This allows the flak point from Gimma to catch the train and slip away east from rampaging Allied units. At Addis itself, the defending garrison troops abandon the city and head east along the road to block the Gold Coast and 1st SA Recon units that are northeast of the city. The Azz III, made up Air Force ground service personnel, takes up the defense of Addis itself. Around Gimma, the Gogeb river bridges in the Highlands are dropped completely, while forward mountain positions are taken by three Inf X’s to the south and east of the city. In the west part of the Valley and in the Mendebo mountains 4 bypassed Col units converge on road lines, cutting off the supply lines of all Allied units from Dodola to Soddu to Addis to Ficce. At Moyale, the defending 9th Col X remains in place, while the 2dF Bande [X] continues its advance into Uganda. It’s about 1 turn away from taking Lodwar. In southern Sudan, three Col units advance on Ethiopian positions northwest of Abu Hashim, blowing the Er Roseires airfield in the process. Two other units advance on the Malakal field from the south and east, though this field is defended by the WArC Cav II. In the Horn, one unit blows a bridge north of Gorrohai, while another moves to Gorrohai itself, where the only airfield in the area is located.
At the end of movement, two CR.42 units near Benghazi, plus another from Tripoli stage to the new temp field at 18:3724 and fly CAP over the 4th Indian XX’s position. The Allies respond by having the South African Hurri1’s at Matruh and the Glads and Hurri1’s at Tobruch fly CAP over the 4th as well. The IAF counters this move by flying the CR.42 at Sirte and the MC.200 at Benghazi on CAP too. This battle is shaping up to be quite a furball.
Nothing in the East African or Balkan areas. Over the 4th Indian, due to heavy bomber losses at Benghazi in the Allied turn, there is only one Blen4 remaining for DAS. It flies to the 4th Indian in support, but the Allied F’s on CAP choose not to lend a hand to the poor bomber pilots. One CR.42 chooses to intercept the bombers, leaving the Axis still 4:3 on fighters when GS time rolls around. The CR.42 gets instructions to bear down on the Blen4’s irregardless of losses, and they do so admirably. They manage an abort against the bombers, though they pay for it when the bombers roll well and get a K result. The Axis turn comes, and we fly both Ju88A’s, the operable Ju87B and R’s, an Me110D which won’t drop bombs, plus 2x Ca.133’s, a BR.20M and just to be sure the He111H4 pulled off of its standard naval patrol duty (i.e., it won’t be in position on Sicily next turn, but the flak units got to Malta, so that egg is hatched.) Only the SM.79-2 torpedo bombers remain on stand-by on Sicily. Trying to save the XX and its support troops, the Allied fighters all switch to intercept and all attempt to bypass. The CR.42’s and MC.200 are on escort by this point, so all engage the bypassing Allied units. In the resulting combats, the extra fighter is allocated against the South Africans, but only one result is garnered against the Glad, which is aborted attempting to bypass. The two Hurricane units then get allocated against the He111H4 and the BR.20M’s. The H4 punches the South Africans in the nose, managing to abort the fighters with no losses to itself. The British Hurricanes acquit themselves a bit better, managing to return the BR.20M’s without losses. Eight bomber units remain, so all plough in against the 4th Indian’s one point of flak… good rolls are garnered, and a Ju88A is aborted while the other and the He111H4’s are returned. Still, what remains is just barely sufficient to get to 3:1 +2. 4th Indian XX, plus the 22nd Guards Inf X and the 3rd Arm X defend against a mass assault by the Ariete XX, the 200th m Inf III, two Italian m Inf III’s, two Lt Arm X’s, 3 Tank II’s and 4 III’s of very good Italian artillery. Final calcs are 23.75 in attacking ground strength, plus 14 pts in GS, against the 12 point Allied defense. The Allies put up a stiff fight, but are eventually pushed back and in the ensuing retreat losses are very heavy (poor Axis roll of 2 is a DR, XX is cadred, two X’s die via zoc scam.) The cadre of the 4th Indian, now alone, retreats to 4620, a good 50 miles + to the safety of Tobruch. The British commanders, maintaining a stiff upper lip, have some tea and a bit if gin for the toffs and vow to fight on. A pair of Italian Arty III’s advance into the vacated hex, roll a 2 and fail to seize the allied supply dump the 4th Indian had been sitting on (1 pt a/s destroyed vice seized.)
Nonexistent in the Balkans. In East Africa, the TC’s move 2 pts of pos flak and a cons III forward towards Asmara, while the one remaining c/m ground unit runs from Cheren south on the west side of the Escarpment to the wooded rough in front of Adi Ugri, setting up a nice blocking position on good defensive terrain should the Orient Free French feel aggressive next turn. In North Africa, the 4th Indian cadre’s survival somewhat hinders the planned exploit. A five hex line is built from 4318 on the Mechili road in front of the 9th Aus XX’s box to the 4519 escarpment and then south to 4521 in front of the surviving 4th Indian cadre. To the rear are some arty units which didn’t advance after combat, and the 21st Pzr Hq and 5th Pzr III, racing as fast to the front as possible. Rommel wants some of the glory too. The LW’s flak II takes up the air defense of the rear most temp air field. After all planes are landed, 5 bombers are in Benghazi (1 overstacked), 3 Ju87 types are at 3324, the Me110D is alone at the 1 cap 3525 temp field, while the forward most 3724 temp field has 4 fighters and a Ju87B (4 a/c overstacked.) At the end of the phase, the Trento XX is fully formed up in the mainline described above. The air damage results this game turn were actually pretty good all things considering. The Axis have 1 German unit aborted and 1 Italian killed, but have 1 and 4 ARPs respectively… the Allies have 5 units aborted but just 4 ARPs in the mid-east. Looks like they may be the ones to have air units stuck in the pool this air cycle.
End of Turn
VPs now stand at 60:8 in favor of the Axis.