Europa Games and Military History

Category: SE AAR No 1 (Page 1 of 10)

Game Report from a solitary SE game by Ken Newall, 2018

1943 MAY II Axis Turn

Narrative: The War of the Ideologies

Few in the Wehrmacht would have believed in the spring of 1943 that their defences were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than theirs and yet as mortal as their own. As soldiers busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency the Axis went to and fro over their conquests, serene in their assurance of their empire over the Eastern lands. None gave a thought to the vast steppe as a source of danger or thought of it only to dismiss the idea of military might upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most the Axis powers fancied there might be Untermensch still able to fight on, inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of the steppes, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded them with vengeful eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against them. And late in the weeks of May came the great disillusionment.  (with apologies to H.G. Wells).

Turn Report

Weather: The wet weather continues with deep mud persisting across everywhere north of the Crimea.

Finland and Army of Norway: A new Mountain division is split into two supported regiments at Konigsberg for shipping northIt will add to the thin screen, all that is needed to stop the out of supply and Resource Point less Soviet forces advancing north.  The Germans move extra shipping from Murmansk to bring this into the far north risking the effectiveness of the Murmansk defences.

AGN: An attack of opportunity is made against the weakest out of supply stack of Soviet frontline units to the south of Leningrad. The stack is eliminated but no advance is made. Engineers accompany to rebuild the breach in the fortifications.

In the Kalinin sector the one hex Soviet advance here is attacked at 5:1 and retreated. ZOCs eliminate all but the Guard infantry units whose cadres are pursued back to their former jump off point. In the rear fortification continues.

Armoured reserve forces are formed at key points behind the front line in reaction to rumours of Soviet build ups along the flanks of the Front.

AGC: A single attack against the protrusion south of Moscow results in victory as the stack is eliminated in a 6:1(-1) attack. Some losses are taken by the German counterattacking force, but the front line is restored.

AGS: Axis forces south of Voronezh fall back towards the Don river due the continuing Soviet pressure. Meanwhile at Voronezh engineers move to fortify around the city although they may have to await Resources most of which are being directed north.

Air Combat: Most missions again are defensive in nature providing DAS along the line at vulnerable hexes.

Combat Report:
Attacks: 4
Losses:
Axis = 1x fort, German = 7

1943 MAY I Soviet Turn

Soviet Plans for the 1943 summer campaign

Previously undetected the Soviets have been building forces and biding their time awaiting the advent of clear weather to launch the first major summertime offensive of the war.

They are frustrated and alarmed at the continuing wet weather, for every week that passes increases the chance that their plans and preparations will be detected by their Axis foes.  Only the overconfidence and arrogance of the Fascists has saved them so far. The rains have also enabled the Axis to complete their Voronezh operation and the army must press on with the attacks south of the city to pressure and thin the Axis forces and try to minimize enemy redeployment. The commander tasked with the defence of the city has not been seen for some time at STAVKA.

The Soviets review their plans. The Soviets have amassed vast forces in the region of Pskov /east of Lake Piepus for the northern pincer with a second massive force at Tula for the southern pincer. . The plan is to break through the German lines with massed Guards infantry and artillery divisions and rocket regiments. A second echelon of armoured units and motorized rockets where available will exploit any breaches. The main lines of march are as follows; For the Northern force this is Veliki Luki-Vitebsk- Smolensk; and for the southern force; Orel- Bryansk-Smolensk. The intention is a meeting in the region of Smolensk.

The Soviet plans for the summer offensive 1943

The Soviet plans for the summer offensive 1943

Secondary outlying thrusts will move from Narva through Estonia to Riga protecting the right flank of the southern force and securing the east bank of the Dvina. In the south a secondary thrust from Tula in the direction of Kursk will similarly protect the left flank of the main thrust to Bryansk. Across the front forces will move to connect with the Axis defensive line to pin forces and inhibit lateral movement of the enemy troops and wherever possible low odds pinning attacks will be stepped up against the enemy main line within the area of the intended pocket. Should the plan succeed, fully one third of the Axis force will be held in the resulting pocket.

The attack south of Voronezh will continue and will menace the Don river line ensuring little interference from the Rumanian, Hungarian and Italian forces in this sector.

The Soviet plans for the summer offensive 1943 - Southern Front.

The Soviet plans for the summer offensive 1943 – Southern Front.

Axis Plans for the 1943 Summer Campaign

Taking advantage of the Fluhrer’s quiescent mood following the defeat of Finland a heated debate with a cabal of the most competent Officers at the Wolf’s Lair lead by Erich Von Manstein persuade Hitler to call of his planned summer offensive and take a reactive, defensive stance on the Eastern front. They point out to the success throughout the spring of strong fortified defences, of giving up ground slowly and grudgingly, and then destroying the advancing Soviets with local counterattacks. This they extol can be used on a grand strategic scale until the enemy expends all his resources and reserves and will then be ripe for the final Coup de Grass. With this in mind they use the extra month the unseasonal rain has given them as the breathing space needed to redeploy forces from the concluded Voronezh operation.

The Axis expend an additional resource point to boost rail capacity and transfer numerous panzer divisions to assembly areas behind the front lines.  One Corps on the Latvian/Estonian border, one at Veliki Luki.  Two more, one on each rail line, directly west of Moscow and a force at Kursk with a Bryansk force to be formed when reinforcements and replacements allow.

These reserves are intended to cut off and isolate any Soviet breakthroughs through the mainly fortified frontline. The weaker northern front line is supplemented by infantry replacements and reinforcements and furious fort building activity continues in the region of Veliki Luki, Smolensk and Bryansk with secondary fortified lines being completed behind Moscow and the Valdai. The latter to enable withdrawal to that line should Moscow or Kalinin fall

Turn report

Partisan Attacks: 2 rail hits.

Finnish front.  With no Resource Points west of the main Karelian rail line forces moving on Norway spread out and attempt to infiltrate through to the coast. Around Murmansk it is clear to the Soviets that they will have to amass xx, x and artillery in every hex to have any chance of breaking the German mountain divisions defending the city perimeter.

In the south garrison and anti-partisan forces are deployed to hold the captured territories.

Leningrad Front:  Forces move into their assembly points and jump off positions ready for the predicted dry weather at the end of the month. The continuing mud places a section of the front at U2.

In the Kalinin sector a stack of the enemy is pushed back with air support and a 18 point stack advances threatening to cut off the northernmost two German hexes.

Moscow Front: North of Moscow the fortified enemy line is assaulted at 3:1(-1) = AR but NKVD troops ensure that the failed attackers hold their ground. South of the metropolis an attack against the German lines smashes a fort and allows a 21point stack to penetrate the Axis line.

Voronezh Front: Russian forces continue to pressure the Axis lines to the south of the fallen city of Voronezh with the intention of regaining the east bank of the Don. Three attacks are launched against the mixed Axis forces reinforced with German units, resulting in a Retreat each and a DE against a stack cadering a German 7-6 xx. Still however a meaningful breakthrough by armoured units fails to materialize.

Stalingrad Front: No activity.

Air Combat: Once again the VVS concentrates on rail bombing and raids succeed in inflicting a total of 5 hits. A furious air battle develops over the Kalinin sector attack as the Luftwaffe tries to deny the Soviet airmen the skies over the battlefield. The resulting combat between 10 escorts and 9 interceptors results in 12 downed Soviets machines and 3 aborted while the Luftwaffe suffers one elimination and 1 abort.

Combat Report

Attacks: 6
Losses: Soviets; Air =2
Axis: 1x Fort; German Un-isolated 4, Air = 1; Italian = 3,
Loss Ratio; May I ’43 = 0.18

1943 MAY I Axis Turn

Helsinki: Finland ratifies the Surrender but with no forces under arms this is a formality.

Voronezh: After the failed rescue attempt the hopeless, beleaguered and starving defenders succumb to a massed barrage from Rail, Siege and conventional Artillery which pounds them into the rubble which was the city.

Weather: The warming weather starts to thaw the Arctic tundra and rain and mud persist in all areas north of the Crimea.

Finland and Army of Norway: More minor units are shipped to Norway but the Soviet forces are now approaching the Norwegian border from the south and the Axis will need to consider whether they move the supply transports from Murmansk in order to ship more troops in to Norway or indeed whether they transfer some of the Murmansk garrison down the coast.

AGN: No attacks.  Mobile units move into reserve and a second fortified line forms 80 miles west of Kalinin.

AGC: No attacks. The MLR starts to thicken as troops trickle in from replacements and reinforcements.

AGS: The failed Soviet rescue attempt leaves a 27point defensive stack intruding into the Axis line; a far too tempting a target for the forces massed around Voronezh to ignore. They attack nipping of the bulge and totally annihilating this large spearhead including a 10-8 Gds Artillery xx and a 6-4-8 Tk xx. The irony is that had the Soviets not built the 1-2-6 para inf last turn and allowed the German panzers to overrun Voronezh the tanks may well have decided to re-locate out of theatre. however as they were trapped in place, they turned their attention to the Soviet thrust. Such are the vagaries of war.

Air Activity: DAS is concentrated where the Axis feel there is the most disparity between their own and the enemy’s force levels. The Soviets for their part make a few desultory intercepts but most bombers are out of reach of the short-range fighters and the encounters result in no significant losses on either side.

Combat Report:

Attacks: Auto = 1, Diced = 1
Losses: Soviets Isolated = 5, 5AA pts, 2 Res pts;
Soviet Un-isolated = 33

1943 APR II Soviet Turn

Narrative: A Tale of Two Cities

Voronezh, Southern Russia: The Soviets attempt to bludgeon their way through to reach their trapped comrades in the city with two parallel attacks. These are low odds 2:1 thrusts, the rightmost with NKVD political support. The left flank makes good progress pushing the defending mixed Axis forces back 16 miles and establishing a bulge into the Axis lines to the southeast of the city. By contrast the right thrust after initial success becomes bogged down by the mud and stiffening enemy resistance. They reach within 5 miles of the city before being halted by massed artillery firing over open sights from German, Hungarian and powerful Italian pieces. The lead tanks are checked and as the already sodden earth is churned to a moonscape they pull back in disarray to the start lines. The fate of the city is sealed.

Turku, Finland: The final assault is launched, and the defenders are eliminated without loss to the attacking forces. The last bastion of organized resistance in the Finnish Area of Operations has fallen. With this defeat which eliminates the last Finnish ground units and secures the last Finnish owned city, peace of a sort, reigns over Finland. The Air force transfers to Sweden and is interned.  Mannerheim and top government representatives are commanded to Helsinki and met by the Soviet Commander in Chief Southern Finland Area of Operations and the Surrender is signed, effective 1 May 1943.

The humiliation of the location and lowliness’ of the Soviet Officials present is not lost on the Finns and almost immediately a resistance movement is formed to continue the fight by other means.

House Rule: I am generally opposed to house rules and have no others in play but it seems to this writer that given the Finn’s love of country, fighting prowess, woodsmanship and mastery of irregular warfare an effective partisan movement would arise to continue to harry the Soviet occupation forces. To represent this I suggest and will use the following House Rules;

New Rule 32.B.3a Finland Garrison; Following the Surrender of Finland the Soviet Union is required to occupy certain hexes in Southern Finland (as defined in 32.B.4c) no later than the end of the second Soviet player turn following Finnish Surrender. Each location must have a RE equivalent of Garrison Forces as follows;

Major/Dot City, 3REs, Reference City/Printed Fortress, 1RE. Garrison forces can be any combat unit with a printed attack strength of 1 or greater.  Failure to establish or maintain the Garrisons has the following effects:

  1. Soviet forces cannot trace supply or rail movement into, out of, or through the location nor use any port or airbase at the location.
  2. Finish Partisan activity is increased (see Rule 32.B.3b)

 

New Rule: 32.B.3b. Finish Partisans: Beginning on the first Finnish initial phase after the Surrender of Finland the Finns may make 2 Partisan attacks per Finnish initial phase in Southern Finland. These follow the same rules as Soviet Partisans (RAW 33.C.)

For each 3 RES or part thereof of Garrison forces missing from the Finnish Garrison Forces requirements (32.B.3a Garrison Forces) the Finnish player may increase the number of Partisan attacks by 1. (e.g. 4 Res missing = 2 additional attacks for a total of 4 that phase.)

New Rule: 32.B.3c. Soviet Anti Partisan Forces; The Soviet has the following Anti-Partisan forces available which operate per RAW Rule 33.C; All NKVD regardless of branch of service, all penal units, all Ski units.

Turn Report

Initial Phase: Increased Partisan activity scores 5 rail hits and 1 Airbase hit.

The 2-8 mtn cadre on the road to Ivalo; starved, surrounded and alone surrenders.

The Soviets expend the single Inf RP trapped at Voronezh to rebuild a 1-2-6 para airborne unit. ¼ ‘ered for lack of supply and support it nevertheless adds a ½ point strength to the defenders thwarting the Axis planned Overrun in the initial phase; much to their chagrin.

Finnish front.  Northern forces continue to inch forward toward the Norwegian border and build against the Murmansk perimeter.

In the south Turku falls to a less than certain 4:1. With no Finnish forces surviving anywhere the surrender has no implications for the fighting in the far north and most Soviets have already begun moving out of theatre, or north. The surrender will therefore be a formality. (But see house rule above).

Leningrad Front: The sacrificial two hex bulge on the corner of the German lines north of Kalinin is attacked but DAS plays its part and the results are favourable to the defenders with one retreat and one NE!

Moscow Front: South of the former capital an attack against the German lines pushes them back 16 miles and eliminates their fort but a well prepared defence allows them to fall back in good order to a pre-positioned fort behind the MLR.

The Soviets fail to relieve Voroneszh

The Soviets fail to relieve Voroneszh

Voronezh Front: In addition to the direct relief attack against Voronezh the Russian forces continue to push against the Axis lines to the south in a move to regain the east bank of the Don. Once again lady luck is with the Axis as where eliminations are needed retreats are obtained and where a retreat would suffice an elimination opens a tempting gap with no forces in place to exploit it. Nevertheless 16 enemy attack points are removed from play.

Stalingrad Front: No ground activity.

Air Combat: The VVS launches a number of sorties against critical road junctions and routes. They change tactics over previous months and while unsupported long-range raids are still made these are supplemented by high intensity short range escorted missions radiating from Moscow and the new forward air bases. These raids hit 6 targets including critical junctions but at a cost. For although 5 Air-Air hits are traded the VVS takes 4E and 1A while the Axis 2E and 3A.

Across the front short-range aircraft transfer to a number of newly built forward air basses to be in position to provide air support for the planned Summer Offensive.

Combat Report

Attacks: 9
Losses: Soviets = 4, Air = 4

Axis: 2 Forts
German Isolated = 2
Un-isolated 11
Air = 2
Slovakian = 4
Italian =  1
Finnish = 8, 6 Air

Loss Ratio; April II ’43 = 0.65

1943 APR II Axis Turn

The Calm Before the Storm – a very quiet turn as the Axis go entirely on the defence in all sectors except the Voronezh Operation which is drawing to a close.

The Axis thin the line where possible to extract the larger panzer and mobile formations to reserve positions and continue to fortify in depth.  Resource points are thinning as they use up their stockpiles.

Weather: A one is rolled signifying Snow continuing in A/B with Mud elsewhere.

Finland and Army of Norway: A couple of battalions are shipped to Norway. 3 ships continue to supply Murmansk but an isolated 6-8 mtn xx on the road 30 miles south of Ivalo is reduced from Isolation.

AGN: No attacks.  Mobile units pull out of the line and a small bulge in the extreme NE is left with only a thin screen which will save a hex length of front for the cost of abandoning two forts. All aircraft fly DAS missions.

AGC: No attacks. Aircraft fly DAS and a second fortified line starts to solidify 50 miles west of Moscow in case the toehold in the city should fall. As an exception to the general rule a Panzer division enters the city to bolsters the Moscow defence.

AGS: Alone at U2 and Isolated the defenders of the city of Voronezh fold to a massive 9:1 (-1) attack. NKVD fanaticism allows 3x 2-6 Guards infantry cadres to remain defending the rubble. Axis forces hampered by cloying mud lack the mobility to assemble a strong enough overrun force in exploitation but a stack with an effective strength of 30 points is formed ready to overrun the rump next turn.

Air War:  The Axis forces are singular in their intent and all missions are DAS. Dog fights here and there with the VVS interceptors result in 3 Aborts of Soviets and 1 Luftwaffe Abort. South of Voronezh a Rumanian IAR80 goes head-to-head with a Mig13 and eliminates it. 

Combat Report:

Soviets Isolated = 20, Air=1

1943 APR I Soviet Turn

Turn Report

Partisans: 2 rail cuts.

Finnish front.  The Axis defence of Murmansk will be a tough nut for the Soviets to attack with 5 full strength mountain divisions including Nord securing the perimeter. These troops can be easily supplied by sea from Norway. The Soviets will need to assemble a strike force able to maximise attack success possibilities so any further advance against the city will be halted. They will also need to construct more airfields to attempt a bombing campaign on the port to reduce the Axis re-supply capacity but will also need long range bombers flying in from the south to minimise RP expenditure and these units are in short supply.

At the moment they are prepared to play the long game and are not minded to use guards assets in this theatre. 

To the south and west the long march north continues, and the last Axis unit is surrounded. It will be starved out.

April 1943: The Nothern Front

April 1943: The Nothern Front

Leningrad front. All offensive operations directly south have now ceased with the tank corps’ withdrawn to Leningrad for strategic redeployment.  On the Kalinin sector a single attack is launched against a 21 point stack north of the city. The defenders avoid losses by abandoning their prepared position and withdrawing 16 miles westward.

Moscow Front: With three NKVD units to provide political fervour the Soviets launch a surprise attack against the central west Moscow hex (the sole remaining in Axis hands) With engineers nullifying the adverse modifier the low odds 2:1 attack goes in but achieves a AR changed to a NE by the NKVD ensuring no retreats despite the resolute Axis resistance. Those in the Soviet command who objected to the attack on the grounds that it would prematurely alert the Germans to the possibility of such an attack are vindicated.

Voronezh Front: Still unable to attack the ring of steel around Voronezh the Soviets continue their broad front attack south of the city pushing back Axis the line 16 miles and inflicting 18 point losses on the Axis. They closely miss overrunning some valuable truck units behind the front line as retreating Axis cadres cover the rear preventing any meaningful exploitation.

April 1943: The Southern Front

April 1943: The Southern Front t

Stalingrad Front no action.

Air War; 8 deep raids are a complete flop inflicting no hits.  Similarly battles for fighter superiority in the Moscow area inflict a single loss on the Axis at the cost of 4 losses on the Soviet attackers.

Combat Report

Attacks= 6
Losses Axis = German Isolated = 4,  Un-isolated = 1x  fort, Italian = 12, Hungarian = 8, German Air = 1
Soviets = 14, Air = 4
Loss Ratio for the turn: All Axis/Soviets = 0.52

1943 APR I Axis Turn

AGS is desperately fighting to capture Voronezh from the Soviets before the start of the Summer Campaigning season.  The battle has been ranging for the city over the last two months and the struggle is nearing its conclusion. The following is an analysis of Axis options.

Analysis of a battle

for Voronezh and adjacent fort:

Strategic Overview – The Soviet counteroffensive which blunted and reversed the German attempt to end the game by the isolation of Leningrad and Karelia has now run its course in the north. The Soviets have throughout the winter pressed forward in central Moscow and the Axis now only hold 1 hex of the city. In the South the Axis Summer 1942 offensive gained the great bend of the Don and Rostov. The front line runs from that city north around the bend of the river then running around the west side if Voronezh, all the time in contact with the Soviet fortified defensive MLR. North of Voronezh the lines then diverge running north to Tula which is a large 7 hex fortified hub anchoring the southern end of the Soviet defence of Moscow district. Again in direct face to face contact the opposing forces follow the river line to Moscow then directly north through Kalinin to the Valdai hills where the lines turn westward through to north of Veliki Luki. From here the lines diverge again to swing directly north. Lake Piepus separates the forces to the Baltic at Narva.

Voronezh area in detail: Just south of Voronezh the geography and rail net is such that the Soviet fortified line east of the upper Don was out of supply while the Axis to the West were in supply part stretched by truck transport.  Thus the Axis attempt to gain some momentum by attacking this section of the line with the hope of drawing off some forces and easing the pressure on the retreating Axis forces north of Moscow an aspiration, unfulfilled was to cut the main line north from Stalingrad forcing a wide detour for enemy forces moving north.

The attack was launched and initially made good ground against the out of supply Soviet defenders stalling when Soviet reserves reached the front and the Soviets retreated into a supplied position.

However the Axis took advantage of Soviet weakness and lack of mobile reserves in the area and swung North behind Voronezh with a second pincer moving from the north. These met and isolated a pocket containing the city and 4 stacks of units including Voronezh and an adjacent fort.  Two turns of pocket reduction have resulted in the current situation.

This comprises an isolated pocket of the city itself and a fortified clear hex immediately to the southwest of the city. The Soviet front line is separated from the city by a single hex occupied by strong Axis (mainly German) mobile forces too strong for in-theatre Soviet forces to unseat.

The conundrum faced by the Axis forces is what action to take next.

Options;

The Axis face a number of options

  1. to attempt to eliminate both Voronezh and the adjacent fought in two simultaneous attacks in one turn
  2. to eliminate Voronezh leaving the fort for later conquest
  3. to eliminate the Fort leaving Voronezh for later conquest
  4. to leave both hexes until they become half strength due to supply difficulties
  5. to initiate a siege and attempt to starve out the defenders

In considering these options the Axis commanders are conscious of the following facts

  1. That the Date is now April I and that the winter thaw has begun in the south and there is a possibility of clear weather in two or three turns time.
  2. That delay would enable the Soviet forces to muster additional troops to relieve the city or to mount a counter offensive against the flanks of the incursion.
  3. That it is clear that the Soviets are not committing all their forces to their current assaults and that there is a build-up of offensive forces preparing for their major summer offensive at a point or points as yet undetermined.
  4. That the strategic initiative for the summer of 1943 will be with the Soviet forces and it is vital therefore to extract all mobile Axis forces to a reserve position to any offensive.

On the tactical level the city and adjacent fort are both stacked to the full with 26 and 21 points respectively. The city has NKVD political troops present which would prevent the retreat of cadred survivors and there are three Guards infantry divisions present which would give a residual post combat value of six points. Even if these were halved owning to a deteriorating supply condition any overrun or attack would be halved due to the city so over-run in the mechanised phase is unlikly.

Considerations

Options four and five are not considered advisable given the timeframe available and are quickly discounted.

The Axis consider the other 3 options in detail.

The Tactical situation

Voronezh is surrounded on three sides by rivers the adjacent Fort to the Southwest clear hex also has rivers on three sides, one of which is that between the city and the Fort. The total number of hexes surrounding the pair is eight of which two have the opportunity of contributing their strength to either hex.

Available Axis forces

In considering available forces I have included all those which could reach any hex adjacent to the defending units by normal movement and have for the purpose of simplicity excluded rail movement from any distance.

Option one  of attacking both the fort and adjacent city in one turn is examined by a crude examination of the force ratios to avoid moving units prematurely. Axis stacking points are reasonably evenly distributed around the perimeter although do vary in terms of the strength. They have available a total of 25 divisions 17 non-divisional units and 16 artillery units. In addition there are a number of railguns which can be added to any attack on Voronezh. A simple calculation will show that there is an excess of one division and one non-divisional unit which can be committed from those available. A German infantry division and an Italian ski unit are excluded. A count of the total strength which can be brought to bear against the two hexes divided by the number of hexes reveals an average gross combat strength of 28 per hex excluding artillery.

However due to the terrain it is necessary to modify this figure to account for the rivers and the city. Of the total hexes three are across rivers into Voronezh giving an effective strength of 7 each; One hex is across open terrain into the city while two are across rivers into the Fort thus each of these hexes would have an effective strength of 14. The remaining two hexes are open ground into the fort and thus unmodified. This produces a total non-artillery contribution of 119 factors with 25 additional unmodified artillery points. Added to this are 18 siege railgun factors which will be directed at Voronezh and are doubled producing total attack strength of 180 points.

The 180 attack points is divided by the total defence strength of 57 points. Both hexes enjoy -1 modify because of the fort modifier and a lack of engineering assets against the city.

This is very crude analysis does not allow for the shifting strengths between the two targets from the co-joined hexes but nevertheless it shows convincingly that the attack ratio will be in the region of 3:1  and with a -1 modifier this is an unacceptable risk both in terms of exchanges and the possibility of a retreat which would eliminate further units from those holding the perimeter where Soviet forces outside the ring are adjacent to the attackers.  Accordingly, therefore an attack on both hexes must be discounted.  This leaves only options 2 and 3.

Option two or three, an attack on either the Fort or Voronezh In considering which of the two hexes to attack first the Axis are mindful of a number of factors. If they attack the city first and are successful, the incentive for Soviet forces to continue to press the counterattack will be diminished as it would only be rescuing a small force within a fort. On the other hand the fort can be more easily eliminated as it is slightly weaker and less well protected by rivers.

The final factor of consideration is the NKVD political unit. If the attack on the city goes in first the survivors can be reinforced from the fort requiring a 3 turn assault 1st to reduce the city then a similar strength attack to reduce the city reinforced from the fort and then a third attack to finish off the residue.

On the other hand if the Fort is attacked first this can be destroyed in its entirety because it doesn’t have the benefit of a NKVD defender and the city is fully stacked so no retreats would be possible by any surviving cadres.

On balance the Axis decide the safer course is to eliminate Fort first and then concentrate in full against the city attempting if possible in the two turns this will take to create a supper stack strong enough to overrun the 3xGuard cadres which would survive such an assault and thus shorten the siege by  a turn and by which time, assuming no soviet breakthrough half strength.

This having determined the size and target of the attack forces are moved into place and a detailed calculation is carried out.

The Fort is attacked at a ratio of 7 to 1 with a -1 modifier.  It is eliminated in its entirety and the Germans holding the outer ring exploit to prepare for a Soviet relief attempt.

April 1943: Battle of Voronezh

April 1943: Battle of Voronezh

Turn Report

Weather: No change Mud South of the B line, snow to the north

Finland & The Army of Norway: The last remnants of the Finish Army in the south converge in Turku and await destruction.

The Murmansk garrison counterattack a Soviet ski incursion attempting an end run along the coast and burns two RPs to bring in air cover and secure a safe attack. The perimeter is straightened but there are no RPs left for future operations.   Murmansk is supplied by sea and is a tough bastion but is the commitment of 5 mountain divisions warranted? Norway remains largely undefended and shipping troops there will reduce the supply to Murmansk. Some interesting dilemmas for the Germans here over the coming weeks and months as Soviet troops draw ever nearer to the Finish/Norwegian border.

AGN: On the Leningrad axis the annoying part supplied one hex intrusion in the line is finally attacked and nipped off.

Elsewhere the Axis forces take advantage of the scaling down of the Soviet offensive operations and extracts 3 Panzer divisions and supporting troops from the line. This reduces the defences and will potentially expose one or two hexes to a massed infantry assault but is considered a risk worth taking to form a mobile reserve against the expected Soviet Summer Offensive.

AGC: Festung Ost takes shape as fort construction continues around rail hubs and linking hexes.

AGS: Per the preamble above the fort hex adjacent to Voronezh is attacked at safe odds and eliminated without survivors. Only Voronezh itself remains to be eliminated to secure a locus of future defence in the south/central area. The Axis forces are keen to conclude this as soon as possible to redeploy the mobile forces before the summer campaigning season.

Air War:  Medium depth raids against the Soviet rail net around Voronezh eliminate 2 VVS fighters for the loss a  Hungarian aircraft.

Battle Report

Attacks = 3

Losses:
Soviet; un-isolated = 18, Isolated = 18, Air = 2
Axis: German Isolated = 2; Hungarian Air = 1

1943 MAR II Soviet Turn

Narrative

Dateline 9. a.m March 22 1943

Location: Somewhere in Helsinki

“This is radio Free Finland transmitting. The Bolshevik attack started 3 hrs ago and we are already receiving reports of enemy breakthroughs across the entire perimeter. We advise you to lock your doors and stay away from windows. Use a basement if you have it.

About half an hour ago we witnessed a large air battle and our air corps displayed courage and their heroic deeds beyond their duty fighting through swarms of fighters and downing by my count over 30 enemy aircraft, others fell to AA fire from the Kapyla batteries. The skies do now appear clear and it is equally clear that the enemy will draw no aid from the air for their attack”

10.00 a.m. March 22 1943

“From our location we can see smoke rising from the direction of the government buildings

I do not know how long we can continue to transmit; I can see a column of tanks moving towards us with brown clad troops marching along each side, squads are breaking away periodically and clearing the building down Alexsanterkatu.

As a result of our airmen’s tenacity and determination we have heard that ministers have been safely air lifted out of the city and are to continue the fight from Turku where the remainder of the army stands to protect the government. Commander-in-chief Mannerheim however has refused to leave the city and is staying resolute with the heroic defenders of our proud city.”

10.35 a.m. March 22 1943

“A few minutes ago I saw enemy troops enter the ground floor of our building, There is  commotion now on the stairs and a lone rifle shot has been answered by a long burst of automatic fire.

This is Free Finland transmitting for the last time from Helsinki, Continue the fight”
BANG!!
“Nyet Radio!!”
“do not give in,”
RAT TAT TAT; “do not surren ….” TAT TAT 

HELSINKI has fallen.

Turn Report

Partisan Front: 5 rail hits.

Finnish Front: In the far north the inexorable march continues and the last remnants of German resistance in the centre are eliminated.

In the south the lone Finish division outside Helsinki is crushed and eliminated but fantastic action by the Finish air force (with some help from Tallinn based Luftwaffe units eliminates or returns all Soviet GS and drops the planned odds from 3:1 to 2:1. Engineers are on hand to avoid a potential rout and the attack goes in . A HX secures the city for the Soviets.

Only Turku and Ponri remain in Finish hands.

The front around Murmansk

The front around Murmansk

Leningrad Front. The Soviets have practically suspended operations south of Leningrad and move the remaining mech forces back to Leningrad for refit/redeployment. A desultory opportunistic attack at the west end of the line results in an NE.

On the Kalinin axis a single attack against the German MLR unseats a large stack from a fort but the German forces retreat in good order.

Moscow Front: The Soviets content themselves with redeploying artillery and other units to central Moscow with a view to a future attack against the last hex in Axis control.

Voronezh Front. The German encircling ring enclosing the city of Voronezh is too powerful to attack directly but the opportunity to strike against the weaker flanks is not lost and two large stacks are attacked one eliminating two German infantry divisions. The second attack and a series of others south of the besieged city prove less successful and result in a series of NEs and DRs against the defenders.

Stalingrad Front: No action.

Battle of Voronezh

Battle of Voronezh

Air War: The Finish air force prove once again that their effect far exceeds their paper strength and numbers. A MS406, F2A, G50 square up against 2x Guards Yak9s and a Yak 1 allowing two accompanying ME109Gs out of Tallinn to sweep away 2x IL2s.  The remaining Il2 is removed by accurate AA fire. Whilst a great victory that causes some consternation to the attackers by dropping the attack a column all is in vein as a HX results from the resulting 2:1 attack.

The majority of Soviet air activity on the main Front has been forward deployment and transfers to new airbases to keep up with previous advances.

In the Moscow area this was attempted by mounting a large raid on the German held Hex’s airbase.

A costly exercise: Of the 12 aircraft involved 3 are eliminated, 2 aborted 1 is lost to flack and the survivors fail to achieve a single hit!

Deep raids prove more successful with the long range force inflicting 4 rail hits.

Battle Report

Auto Attacks = 3
Diced Combats = 9

Losses:
Soviets = 10, Air= 4
Axis: Forts = 1, German Isolated = 20, Un-isolated: = 23,   Fins = 9 and 2xAA,

Loss Ratio for Month: All Axis/Soviets = 1.11

1942 MAR II Axis Turn

Loss Ratios to date:

There has been some recent exchanges regarding weather absolute losses or relative losses are more important in determining the relative performance to date of the combatants and what losses might be expected at this stage.

Thus I have started noting the loss ratio which I will add to each of the combat reports on a turn by turn basis.

I thought it might be interesting to some to include details of the losses to date at this approximate half-way point in the game and the following charts show absolute losses and relative losses (expressed as Axis/Soviet per turn).

Axis/Soviet Losses per Turn

Axis/Soviet Losses per Turn

A few points to note about the charts and figures:

  1. The horizontal axis numbers are turn numbers with the Surprise Turn being “Turn 1”.
  2. In the early days I logged attacker’s losses as attack factors and defenders losses as defence factors.  At some unrecorded point I switched to replacement factors for all losses for consistency so there may be some small differential adjustment needed for this.
  3. These are gross losses and do not have regard for the various recovery rates of the combatants through the Replement System. I have recorded, but to keep things simple, have not differentiated here between normal and isolated losses

I have not played/recorded Scorched Earth enough times to be able to give any significant insight into the figures although any insights or observations others care to give would be interesting and useful. What is clear however is the shift from Axis to Soviet in both gross losses and in particular loss ratios. The latter from approximately 10:1 to 5:1.

Axis/Soviet Loss Ratio per Turn

Axis/Soviet Loss Ratio per Turn

Surprisingly there does not appear to be any weather related differences that can be seen in the figures probably because both combatants have sustained offensives throughout the poor weather seasons.

Turn Report

Weather. No change across the map A-B = Snow; C-D = Mud, G=Clear

Finland & Army of Norway: The defensive perimeter established around Murmansk gains some much needed supplies by sea

In the south supplies arrive by Transports and Gliders to feed the German part of the Helsinki defence force. Finish fighters abort the lone guards fighter which tries to penetrate the transport stream. The transports and gliders land without incident.

The Finns take advantage of the repulse of the Soviet last attack and a brave 5-6 inf XX exits the city to a certain death in the hope that it will buy another week of resistance for the city by shielding the approach of the Soviet hoards.

Helsinki under Siege

Helsinki under Siege

AGN:. The Axis face a dilemma do they fall back another hex to straighten the line following the penetration by the Soviets or nip off the one hex bulge? They decide the latter and all available forces mass against the intruders.

A DE results eliminating the stack in its entirety. (6-6 guards, 5-6 guards, 9-6 art, 2x 3-1-8 rkt).  Attacking forces return to defensive status.

The similar bulge into the German lines south along the Leningrad axis is still too strong to attack with local forces but itself cannot breach the defenders line so is left unmolested.

AGC: No activity other than fort construction as the Axis build up defensive hubs around Bryansk, Orel, Kursk etc.

AGS: Thinned by the exchange against the Axis forces the previous turn the Soviet defenders crumple east of Voronezh and the Axis establish a tight ring around the city isolating within the ring both the city and an adjacent fort.  The ring is strong and the Axis are confident that it cannot be breached. Reich minister Goebbels prepares a speech announcing the fall of the city.

The Encirclement of Voronezh

The Encirclement of Voronezh

Air War: Most Axis air activity is establishing and protecting DAS with some rail bombing around Voronezh although the latter fails completely to inflict any hits.

The Soviets decide to employ a “fighters First” strategy and in all intercepts mass against defensive fighters. This back fires in one significant engagement where a lone FW190A eliminates all 3 interceptors sent against it; (Mig3, Yak7B, Hurri 2B)

Battle Report

Diced Combats = 2
Losses:
Soviets = 37, Air= 4
German Air = 1

1943 MAR I Soviet Turn

Some commentators have talked about loss ratios so I will be including this at the end of the Combat Report. This will be based upon the cost to replace units (without regard to type) generally therefore a total of attack Factors lost by each side (except units with defence factor only will use defence factor etc)

Turn Report

Finnish Front: In the far north forces close in on Murmansk and chase the diminishing German forces towards the Norwegian border.

Tampere is captured.

The Soviets launch a quick ill prepared attack against Helsinki, assisted by engineers, but are repulsed.

Leningrad Front. Two of the three first line Tank corps are returned from the Finish front. Rather than replace losses at the front leaguer at Leningrad and joined by replacements and new arrivals building an attack force for a planned summer offensive.

Due to the lack of replacement tanks and mech corps to replace the losses of the recent high loss exchanges the attack south into the Valdai grinds to a halt.

Soviet attacks against the Axis line north of Kalinin

Soviet attacks against the Axis line north of Kalinin

In front of Kalinin a single guard tank corps leads one attack with another infantry assault. Both are supplemented by copious amounts of artillery and rocket formations and succeed in pushing two hexes into the German lines with a single separating hex forming a tooth like front line north of Kalinin. (One HX one DR)

Moscow Front The Soviets continue to pressurise the Axis line south of the city  taking Podolsk by direct assault although the enemy retreats in good order.

Voronezh Front. STAVKA realises that they have underestimated the determination of the Axis to take Voronezh by winter assault and desperately counter attack the German forces who have crossed the river to the north. They succeed in pushing the aggressors back cadreing Das Reich but the Exchange leaves them weak and the city vulnerable to encirclement

Soviet Turn: Soviet counterattack against the northern Axis pincer at Voronezh

Soviet Turn: Soviet counterattack against the northern Axis pincer at Voronezh

Two other attacks south of the city aim to pressure the Axis lines but result in an AR and a DR.

Stalingrad Front: No action.

Air War: A large air battle develops over the front north of Kalinin where the Soviets try to improve odds for an attack. 21 bombers escorted by 10 fighters are intercepted by Axis fighters but after patrol attacks, air combat and flack the Soviets achieve their objective. However at the cost of 3 aircraft who fail to return to base.

Combat Report

Auto Attacks = 1
Diced Combats = 8

Losses:
Soviets = 32, Air= 3
Losses: Forts = 2, German = 47, Fins = 6,
Loss Ratio: All Axis/Soviets = 1.66

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