Narrative – The Plans for 1939
The Nationalists develop their strategy for 1939. .
The obvious move would be to drive on Barcelona via the Zaragoza “bulge” but winter has set in the North and with it thick mud. The Republic have a well-crafted defence stacked to 12-14 Combat Factors each and most of the line is fortified with tank and infantry back up to prevent breakouts. The high defence factors and narrow fortified frontage would require the use of a vast quantity of scarce ASPs for little gain. Therefore an alternative use for the forces on this front has been devised.
The Asturias stronghold of Gijon and its adjacent hex with 19 and 15 points of DFs respectively, both fortified is such that it will need to be attacked at odds guaranteed to force a retreat. Because a 3-4 hex frontage can be made against this bastion this can be attached with second line 4 and 5 factor Divisions leaving the 6 factor units to attack the narrower frontages on the main front. (Typically 1 or 2 hexes wide) The weather here does not make too much difference because only 2 hexes are involved and -2 or -4 DRMs becomes effectively the same when retreats are all that is needed to force eliminations
So the Zaragoza bulge forces are to move North with all the non mech interventionist forces to eliminate this stronghold at the cheapest possible ASP cost.
However the Nationalists are not going to make the same mistake as in 1938 when they stripped the Albacete front bare. This allowed the Republic to mount a counter offensive which gained them 3 hexes of expansion and forced an unplanned diversion of forces from the main Zaragoza front. Instead they plan to maintain a strong defence including a number of front line divisions which can attack should the Republicans return the favour and strip this “quiet” front and so present opportunities.
As soon as the Asturias forces are eliminated the troops investing the city will return with all speed to re-initiate the attack on this front. If all goes to schedule this will coincide with the spring sun and a final thrust for Barcelona and victory can begin.
The Nationalists second aim is to re-invigorate and re-enforce the Albacete front. This region has more open territory a wider frontage of attack and less favourable defensive terrain with no major rivers to cross. It offers breakout possibilities for the armour and the potential to isolate approximately half the Republican force from the ultimate objective, identified over a year ago which is Barcelona. The taking of Barcelona would force the collapse of Catalonia and taking all but one city hex ends the war. Indeed merely approaching the city in force could trigger a Catalonian collapse and victory.
The thrust at Albacete will be in the direction of Valencia with pressure on the right flank against the Anarchists. Once split the southern crescent defined by Lorca, Murcia, Alicante can be contained with second and third line divisions predominantly without ASPs. This force will continue pressing on targets of opportunity. If opportunity and force levels allow Alicante to be taken and the government relocated. However he main thrust from a captured Valencia will be eastwards along the coast to Barcelona. If all goes to plan any such thrust will coincide with the return of the Victors of Asturias to press the Republic from two directions and initiate a swift end.
Weather; Heavy rains continue across the land with heavy squalls making Naval operation impossible in the Atlantic (Storms), however a high pressure system over the Mediterranean brings calm seas to that area. (Zone c, D= Mud, Sea Atlantic= S, Med =C)
Supply: High outposts of both sides on the Penebetica range (circa 3913 SW of Albacete) become U2.
Replacements; 3 SRPs. Recovered .
Reinforcements: Arriving 3 XXs arrive equipped.
Factories: Bilbao back in production.
Air Activity: Sortie 1: 609 (Albacete) Mxd , Ro 37 escorted by Me109B/D intercepted by I-16/t5 whom bypassed screen and Aborts Ro 37, is Returned. Mission abandoned
Sortie 2: 4212: He 51, Mxd Successfully bomb Lora airfield
Sorties 3- 6.: Mxd B, SM.81, SM 79-1, SM 79-1 (CTV) all fly Strategic Bombing missions to the Factory @ Murcia. Derisory AA fire fails to hit . The Sm 79-1 scores a Hit.
Sortie 7: 3232 (Airfield S of Zaragoza) Me 109D (KL) escorts Cr.32bis (CTV), cr32Bis on bombing mission. Intercepted by I-16/t5, I-16/t10. CR.32Bis’s jettison bombs. The resulting dogfight is inconclusive.
Naval Operations: 4X NT Transports the 0-1-5 cons and ASP from Palma to Bilbao and remain.
Attack 1; 2303 Mtn/fort. Massive mixed force of passing units mass to remove this thorn and obstacle to free movement projecting into the Nationalist lines. All none Interventionalists are unsupplied. Attack 1-2-6* inf 22 @ 8:1 (-5) = -1 (eliminated – no retreat path.) Advance 3-4-5* inf XX 31st.
Attack 2: 3610 clear (N Albacete) Supplied 2-1-8 lt tks Bab (CTV), 2, , 3-2-8 lt tk N, 2-1-8 art O, Unsupplied 3-5 inf XXs 34, 40, 5-6 inf XX 54 and 5-6 inf XX 62, 4-6 inf XX 15, 2-5 inf AGM (Fal), Supplied 7-6 inf XX 13 and Unsupplied 5-6 inf XXs 53, 84, 102, 1-6 art 13L Attack 2-3-5* inf XXs 63, 71, 1-2-6 sec3GA @ 5:1 (-2) = Ex Lose AGM (Fal), 34, 40 XX,. Advance 62, 84, 105 XXs.
VPs : Lack of Goberneto collapse (+10 VPs)
French border; Closed
Supply; Nat stack adj French border in Pyrenees, Republicans at Almeria U3.
Replacements; 2 PA recovered. 2x 126 art replaced and form 3-6 art 1ManGE.23 Repaired.
Air Activity: SB-2, R-Z, GE.23 escorted by I-16/t5 flies airfield bombing to Airfield at 3414 (E of Valdepenas) Me109B/B intercepts and successfully by passes the screen; engages Ge.23 which Aborts it for no loss. Bombs score a hit Aborting the 1A2 mxd on the ground.