INSURGENT MAR II
A strong high from the Azores stalled over the Iberian peninsula, bringing sunshine with cold temperatures in the north (winter) and spring-like days in the south (clear).
To make hay while the winter lasts, Franco’s finest continued their drive on the Ebro’s south bank in Aragon. Overhead in clear skies another battle royal: A swarm of Ratas pounced on the patrolling Fiats and scarce Me-109s. The Insurgents again took the heavier losses (the Fiats just are no match for the monowing I-16s, and the Messerschmidts can’t be everywhere) but managed to protect their bomber friends and keep the Republican bombers away. Advancing with strong air and artillery support close to the river, the Nationalist ground forces pushed forward to Escatron (13:3232), but once again the Loyalists managed to fall back in good order.
SM-81 night bombers kept up the pressure on Barcelona, but without much effect. Making use of the better weather farther south, SM-79 and He-111 bombers attacked factories in Valencia and caused some damage. He-51 fighters attempting to strafe a Valencia airfield fared less well, being driven off after taking losses to deadly accurate light flak (“3” on a D2 roll!).
National merchantmen ferried imported supplies from ElFerrol to Bilbao to circumvent neutral non-intervention patrols at the latter port.
LOYALIST MAR I 1938
Being spared losses, the Loyalists managed once again to raise enough new troops to patch up their Ebro front. However, obviously being concerned about the safety of their lines north of that river, they pulled back from their well-entrenched positions in the Alcubierre hills (13:3031) to a shorter front still 20 miles forward of the Cinca river.
Construction of defenses in depth continued in the Valencia sector. All other sectors saw no action.
Ratas resumed their routine of attemting to attack forward Insurgent airfields in Aragon. As usual, they were met by Me-109s and had to jettison their bombs. Neither side suffered losses. SB-2 light bombers attacked the Pamplona-Zaragoza rail line and caused extensive damage.
The luck with the weather could have brought the Insurgents a decisive advantage. Had they inflicted losses in their Ebro attack (a chance of a shade less than 50%), the Loyalist front would probably have been weakened enough to allow a continuation of the offensive even in mud. However, the Loyalists again got off once again without a loss (the sixth time out of eight). Now they are likely to get a respite in mud weather until their massive reinforcements start arriving in April. However, the Escatron bulge in their front has caused them enough concern to trigger a retreat north of the Ebro to a shorter line. So, luck with the weather has netted the Nationalists at least a gain of three hexes, two of them entrenched, one of these in rough terrain.
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