INSURGENT JUN I TURN
The Nationalist offensive in the central plain gained momentum with the arrival of additional combat divisions. The main axis of advance remained the Madrid- Cartagena rail line, but attacks were conducted on the entire front between Albacete and Cuenca and gained ground.
At Albacete, the Republican Airforce massed its fighters and ground attack aircraft to support the defenders. Some were driven off by strong anti-aircraft fire, but more than half got through. However, all they achieved was to enable the defenders to retreat in good order as the city fell to frontal assault. The Loyalist positions in the foothills of the Sierra de Segura to the southwest of Albacete now risk being outflanked.
Southeast of Cuenca. Nationalist and Republican tanks clashed head-on for the first time. Although one-on-one the light Nationalist tanks (mostly German Mk I and II of the Legion Kondor and Fiat-Ansaldo and Fiat Tipo 3000 of the Italian “volunteers”) are no match for the heavier Russion T-26, the better Nationalist organization and massive artillery support carried the day: Their retreat blocked, two Republican tank units were wiped out. Two Nationalist tank battalions then broke through and fanned out into the Green Fields Beyond. They are unlikely to survive for long, but will certainly wreak some havoc with Loyalist communication lines in the meantime.
Another strong attack by infantry halfway between Cuenca and Albacete also yielded a substantial number of prisoners. The front in this sector was left a shambles and will not easily be patched up.
All other fronts remained quiet. A new forward airfield was constructed on the approaches to Albacete, and the bulk of the Nationalist Airforce including strong mobile anti-aircraft units moved to it from Madrid. The new field was used as a springboard for a renewed air offensive against the fleet at Cartagena and the Murcia airbase. Cartagena’s anti-aircraft defense had been beefed up and succeeded in shooting down several Ju-52s. However, He-45s swooping down low sank or wrecked three destroyers and some smaller craft. The attack on Murcia remained ineffective.
LOYALIST JUN II TURN
In Murcia the Loyalists scrounged up whatever reserves they could get hold of to mop up in their rear, clear communication lines, and reestablish a semblance of front running from southeast of Cuenca to the eastern outskirts of Albacete. The strongest contingent was sent to the Albacete sector in an attempt to stop the Insurgent advance from that city. Some troops including heavy artillery were shifted from Aragon to Murcia, but the High Command still appears reluctant to weaken the northern front to any significant degree.
The Fleet remained inactive again. Even the energetic airforce chief slowed down: The only action in the air was an unsuccessful attack on a marshaling yard in western Madrid.
The Loyalist command’s benign neglect of the front in the central plain is now causing some headaches. The Nationalist now field vastly superior forces in this sector, and further set-backs must be expected.
The Nationalists are now using two tactics rather effectively. They have drawn all their cavalry and fast Italian units (except armor) out of the line for use as carriers of attack supply from ports to the front. They are also shielding both one front-near airfield and a key ground attack with massive anti-aircraft batteries (7-10 AAF), having the motorized 88s of the Legion Kondor shuttle back and forth between protection of attacking troops at the front and the airfield in the rear.
The Luftwaffe’s continued success against the Republican Fleet has now reduced the latter almost to a state at which the Nationalist surface forces can meet it on the open sea on even terms — if it ever leaves the protection of the Cartagena naval base. It certainly is no longer much of a threat to Nationalist merchant shipping.
In game terms, for the first time since the city count in JAN I, the second hit on the CA at Cartagena lifted the victory-point ratio to above 3:1 in favor of the Nationalists, as needed for a decisive victory. However, the loss of the Drohne tank battalion of the Legion Kondor has reduced the ratio again to just below 3:1, and the JUL I city count (38:14) will drop it even farther.