This turn has thrown up some interesting tactical dilemmas for the Nationalist forces so instead of the usual Narrative I thought it may be of interest to examine these. (Spoiler alert – if you want to see this turn’s actions unfold in detail read the Nationalists turn details below first)

The turn starts with a Nationalist force surrounded immediately NE of Alcazar de San Juan (the “Alcazar pocket”).  The surrounding force is very strong and cannot be attacked at sufficient odds to guarantee the force can be relieved from the outside due to the narrow frontage of attack (one hex).  In the next hex to the south the Republicans are equally strong.  it is not possible to break out the surrounded troops this turn.

The first consideration therefore is supply.

The surrounded troops comprise the full strength 7-6 13th Nationalist infantry division, the 1-8 light tank Bab, the 4-3-8 artillery Leg, a transport counter (CTV) and the KL 1-10 lt tk Dro.  Total strength 12 factors with 1/7th AECD from the light tanks. Total 5 REs the Transport counter.

Each Supply centre can provide 3 GSPs but the Mxd Transport plane at Cordoba can deliver 4 GSPs in an Airdrop. Therefore 3 GSPs are generated at Cordoba with a fourth at the nearest alternative, Seville. This GSP then uses SMPs to move to Cordoba (with a Resource point hitching a lift – total 1.25 REs well within the 3RE load capacity).  The Alcazr pocket is 3 hexes away from the nearest Republican fighter at Toledo so outside the D371’s Patrol Zone/Intercept range. There is no scatter or chance of loss so all 4 GSPs are delivered to the hex. However because supply judgement is after GSP creation these supplies cannot put the pocket in supply for any attack this turn. However they will be available to defence in the Republicans next player turn and any attack in the Nationalists May II turn should they survive that long.

The southern ring surrounding the pocket is solid.  However the Republicans have only been able to screen the North and West sides of the pocket with 2-6* regiments.  The Republican MLR is weak to the north west of the pocket where single or at most doubled unsupported regiments hold the line of rough and wooded/rough ground to the west of Toledo.

The Nationalists already plan to hit this weak line with 3 CTV divisions released from the fall of Seville and these are moving down the secondary rail line from Merida but will not be able to cross the hilly ground to the MLR this turn. However the Nationalists opposing the Republican pincer trapping the Alcazar pocket can slide northwest and attack the southernmost part of this weak line.

This they do so ripping a 2 hex hole in the line.

This now gives the Nationalist pocket an interesting dilemma. Do they attack West to move towards their lines or at least towards a better chance of freedom or do they sit tight and await recue.

One consideration is ZOCs.  If the infantry division stays intact either by not attacking or being selected for survival it will have a Full ZOC or reduced ZOC depending on the supply options.  If it is cadred it will have a reduced ZOC. (It will always be supplied in this case).

If the pocket stands in place it will have the following options by using the 4 REs of GSP Supply:

  1. a) Supply 7-6 inf and 4-3-6 art Leaving 11 Factors 0 AECD. Full ZOC
  2. b) Supply the 4-3-6 art and Tanks leaving 8.5 Factors -1 AECD.  Reduced ZOC

Alternatively they can muster a 2:1 (+1) attack (with air support) which gives the following possible outcomes:

  1. c) AS (33%) then either a or b
  2. d) EX (16.7%)  Cadre the 13th inf Div leaving 8 factors -2 AECD.  Partial ZOC
  3. e) EX (16.7%) eliminate the artillery leaving 9 factors -1 AECD Full ZOC
  4. f) EX (16.7%) eliminate the tanks leaving 10 factors  0 AECD (-4 VPs) Full ZOC
  5. g) HX (16.7%) d or e above
  6. h)  HX (16.7%) eliminate one of the tanks / tank unsupplied 10.5 factors 0 AECD (-2 VPs) Full ZOC
  7. i) HX (16.7%) eliminate one of the tanks / artillery unsupplied 9.5 factors  -1 AECD (-2 VPs) Full ZOC
  8. j) HX (16.7%) eliminate one of the tanks / infantry unsupplied 7.5 factors  -1 AECD (-2 VPs) .  Reduced ZOC
  9. k) DR (16.7%) options a or b with or without an advance
  10. l) DE (16.7%) as k

In the event the roll was a 3 +1 = 4 /Exchange. At first this seemed the worst option but notice that due to the supply restriction of 4 Res the final strength/ AECD range is quite small between the results.  The dilemma was between options d) or e) the Full ZOC could be an important factor in reducing the Republican options for defence and attack by making movement around the pocket much more difficult. In the end however I elected for option d) cadreing the infantry division. This has the advantages of doubling the AECD modifier for the loss of only 1 factor and saves 2 VPs (at least this turn).  As the total strength is a minimum of 8 factors in all but the foolish option j) each AECD die roll modifier is roughly equivalent to 8 Republican attack factors  (or 16 unsupplied) and given the low supply levels at the moment this seemed preferable to a higher factor count despite the loss of the  full ZOC.

The stack advances but not the Transport counter because it is needed in the exploitation phase where it picks up the GSPs and moves them to the advanced hex.  Note that the rules allow Resource items to be carried by retreating units but there is no such provision that I can find to allow them to be carried by advancing troops.

As an aside Transport counters are an anomaly somewhere between a counter and unit.  When initially encountered (one of the Africa games I think) I assumed they effectively fused with the unit being carried thus making it a CM unit which gave advantages of AECD neutrality etc for the unit carried. However closer reading suggests it is simply an aid to movement and “detaches” in the combat phase.  However in FWtBT the last line of 14.F states “for combat purposes ….is considered a Zero strength Unit”.  Now does that mean that in the combat phases it has ALL the characteristics of a unit? i.e advance capability. It is AECD neutral any way because it has no stacking value but what about the unit it is carrying?.  In the past I have assumed that the transport unit confers AECD neutrality to the unit carried but now I am wondering if this is the case in FWtBTso I have assumed that the Transport unit can advance etc with its unit but that it does not confer AECD neutrality to the unit it is carrying. (Of course in this particular instance as art is neutral anyway it is a moot point) Any other thoughts?

Having forced a passage the next consideration was whether to exploit to one or more hexes from either or both the Pocket or the MLR to, for example,  eliminate a lone unguarded Res pt but this could be the subject of a separate discussion – suffice to say these options were rejected.

Finally the SM.81 flies DAS to boost the defence factors by 1 more point.

Final result 3-6*  inf cadre, 4-3-6 art, 1-8 lt tk, 1-10 lt tk, (all supplied) transport counter, 4GSPs and 1 air factor of DAS in clear hex 3011 for a 9 factor (-2) Defence.

FWtBT No 4 May I 37

FWtBT No 4 May I 37

Nationalists turn

Weather: All Clear

Supply: Nationalist pocket at 2031 (outside San Sebastion) go U2.

Nationalist pocket at 3111 (NE of Alcazar de San Juan) are U1/Isolated. 3 GSPs generated at Cordoba. 1GSP is generated at Seville.

Reinforcements: Withdrawal of Br.19 ignored as Seville declared for Republic and this unit is in play as Republican A101.    3-4-5* inf 73 arrives supported.

Replacements: ½ SRP , ½ SRP (Col) recovered

1-6 sec 20GC, 1-8 cav 3, 1-6 infs 19,30,31, 1-5 infs 1Gran, 2Gran (Fal) , 2-6 inf 8Rif (col) all replaced.

(I have assumed that following the conversion of Fal replacements to Nat replacements both can be raised at any replacement cities which can raise either type- any dissenters?)

Naval Activity;  NT-1 transports 2-6 inf 8Rif (col) from Ceuta to Malaga and returns.

Moves: SMP load of 1Res Pt, 1GSP moves from Seville to Cordoba.

Air Activity: Mxd T air drops 4 GSPs from Cordoba  to Hex 3111.

He 51 successfully bombs airbase at Almeria

He 51 (KV) escorts Ju52g4e (KV) to bomb airbase @ 3033. I-15/t22 intercepts, bypasses and Aborts JU52g4e.

Ro.37, Mxd B, He 45 (KV) fly extended GS to 3111. Intercepted by mxd F who engages the He 45.  Both miss.  (Supporting Attack 3)

Attack 1: 3013 wooded rough (SW of Toledo)  Unsupplied 3-8 * inf 3Lit (CTV) and Unsupplied 1-8 mb B (CTV), 1-8 hvy AA Vian (CTV), 1-5 inf 2Zar (Fal) and Unsupplied 2-1-8 cav 20 (Col),  Supplied 3-2-6inf  1LE, 2-1-8 art O attack 1-8 cav 10, 1-6 mg 1 @ 9:1 (-2) = DE.  Advance all except 3Lit.

Attack 2: 3113 rough (NW of Jerez de san Juan)  Supplied 3-2-6 inf 3LE, Unsupplied 1-8 alt G (CTV), 1-8 lt 5, 1-6 inf 28, 1-6 eng ZC, 1-6 art 4L, 5-6 inf XX 11 and Supplied  3-1-2 sge art Man (CTV), 2-3-6 art 61, 6-6 inf XX 52, 2-1-8 cav 1E (Col) 2-6 infs Tdi, 3Ceu, 2Mel attack 1-6 inf 11, 1-2-6 art 3 @ 9:1 (-1) = DE.  Advance, 61 art, 28, 2Mel Tdi

Attack 3: 3011 (SE of Toledo) Trapped 7-6 inf XX 13, 1-8 lt tk Bab (CTV) 1-10 lt tk Dro (KV),  4-3-6 art Leg (transported) with Extended AS Ro 37, Mxd B, He 45 attack 2-6* inf 3 Car @ 2:1 (+1) = EX .  Loss Cadre 13th.  Advance all except transport counter.

Mech move; Transport counter picks up 4 GSPs and moves to 3011.

Air Activity: SM.81 (CTV) flies DAS to 3011

Republican Turn

Supply; “Alcazar pocket”  feeds of GSPs

Reinforcement: All divisions appear equipped. Garrison release2-3-5* inf  5  (bas) equipped from 0.5 art at Bibao

Replacements:  1.5 SRPs recovered.

2-6* infs 14Mar, 130Dom (Int) , 1-6 inf 4 replaced and form 5-6 XX15 (Int)

Replaced: 1-6 inf 12, 1-6 eng 7, 1-8 tk 10, 1-5 infs Aml, Met (An), 1-6 art 5L.

1-4 infs 6,7, 9,12  (ast)  replaced and form 2-4 o infs XX 1, 2

Moves: 1-5 inf 5 (ast), 1-6 inf 3Exp (ast) eliminated for over-stacking. (displaced by new Divns)

Air Activity: R-5, SB-2 escorted by I-16/t5, 1-15/t22 bomb Zaragoza airfield.  I-16/t5 Aborts He 51 interceptor and is Returned.   SB-2 hits,  R-5 misses.

Attack 1: 3311 clear (E of Tomelloso)  Supplied 2-1-8 tks 1,2, 2-6 inf 15AL (int), 2-6* inf 12Gar (int), unsupplied 1-2-6 art 4 and supplied  1-8 tks 1,10, 5-6 inf XX 15(Int), 2-6* inf 2Ch, 3-4-5*  inf XX 18 and unsupplied 2-3-5 inf XX 42 and 2-3-5 inf XX 16, 1-8 cav10, 2-6 inf 152c, 1-6 inf 9m 1=2=6 art 3 attack 5-6 inf XX51, 1-8 mg Ard (CTV) @ 4:1 (+1) = DH . No retreat path.  Advance 2ch, 16, 42.

Attack 2:  2802 rough (S of Calatyud)  Supplied 3-6* inf XX 24, 4-6 inf XX 34, 3-4-5* inf XX 27CH, 1-2-6* inf 24, 2-6* inf 6ch, 2-6 art 2P attack 2-3-5* inf XX Hue @ 5:1 (-1) = DH. Advance 24,34, 27CM