Europa Games and Military History

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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 All offensive operations directly south have now ceased with the tank corps’ withdrawn to Leningrad for strategic redeployment.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

1943 MAR I Axis Turn 

[Editors Note: no Pictures this Turn]

Weather. The cold snap is dissipated in the south as warm winds bring mud to Zone C heralding the arrival of the spring thaw.

Finland & Army of Norway: The stragglers flee north and a defensive perimeter is established around Murmansk. Some supplies arrive by sea to bolster the defence.

In the south the veteran 2-1-10 tank battalion which had 3 times helped the retreating Finish Motte in its epic journey west embarks from Hango back to Germany.

AGN:. The Axis adopt a totally defensive posture. The one hex bulge into the lines north east of Veliki Lukie is held but not assaulted. The soviets have advanced out of supply and the Axis are fearful of another exchange so decided to wait until odds are more favourable due to the enemy supply situation.

AGC: The Axis are hearing reports of enemy troop concentrations around Tula and noticing their own weakness in the centre move engineers and RPs to plug the gaps in the fortified line. More infantry are routed into the area to bolster the reserve divisions currently occupying the fort line in this hitherto quiet sector.

AGS: A newly arrived SS division leads the assault and exploits over the two rivers north of Voronezh to cut off the city.

The southern attack however fails to achieve sufficient mass to ensure a breakthrough so squeezes the defenders by reducing two of the stacks defending south of the city.

Air Combat:  The usual DAS and rail bombings are executed.

In the north a sky train is formed to supply the German units in Helsinki. 4x Ju 52s with gliders are intercepted by the only Soviet aircraft in range a Yak 9. It ploughs through the 3 Finish escorts who have joined the transports to provide cover as they approach the city but they fail to inflict any results on the Soviet airmen.  The Yak 9 then has a clear run at the Transports successfully eliminated a Transport/Glider combination. Then a glider crashes on landing and is rendered useless for future operations. Enough supplies are delivered however to keep the defenders in supply.

Combat Report

Overruns = 1, Diced Attacks = 2

Losses:
German = 7. Air = 1x Transport, 2x Gliders.
Soviet = 26

 

1943 FEB II Soviet Turn

Narrative

Kurt distinctly remembered the drill sergeant addressing his basic re-training passing out parade “The Fatherland is in need of fit young soldiers for the Eastern Front, unfortunately all I have got to send are you sorry bunch of old has-beens.”

Being a hill farmer from Bavaria Kurt’s sense of geography was not great but he was pretty damn sure there was not a sea between Germany and Russia – so why on all of god’s good earth was he leaning over the side of a troop transport staring at the half digested remains of his breakfast cascading down into an icy grey, rolling sea?

After the parade he and his regiment has been loaded onto a rail truck and sent to Konigsberg harbour and there onto the troopship bound for Hango.

Having been called to arms as a young teenager he had just had a week of action the last time Germany had called upon him for his dubious soldiering skills. Nevertheless he had managed to acquire a bit more iron in his system than the recommended dose as the icy cold wind constantly reminded him.

He watched as the ship entered the ice floes and followed the narrow channel kept open by their allies icebreakers.

Whilst the national radio stations had been broadcasting heroic stories of daring do from their northern ally he had heard rumours of a complete collapse of the Finish Army. His better informed comrades had said the Fins were shaky allies at best and so the Fuhrer had decided to bolster their resolve by sending them some aid in the form of his unit of reservists.

In the end with the Soviet Fleet bottled up at Leningrad their passage was uneventful and they were moved from the docks at Hango by broad-gauge troop train to Helsinki.

They arrived in absolute chaos. Soldiers and civilians intermixed and scurrying hither and thither as orders or panic directed them.  Soldiers carrying their arms disembarking and marching east to the front; civilians with their suitcases containing what few possessions they could carry fleeing west by whatever means available.

Kurt knew no Finish but heard the panic in the voices and could tell the enemy were not far away.

Two days later the rail line from Hango and the west was cut by advance elements of the Soviet 13th Tank Corps.

It seemed that Kurt’s’ contribution to this war would be shorter than his contribution to the last.

Turn Report

Finnish Front: The pursuit north continues and in the centre more stragglers are cut down.

In the south of the country with their backs against the frozen shores of Lake Paijanne the heroic Finish Motti is finally surrounded and crushed by weight of arms.

Along the cost Soviet 13th tank corps completed the encirclement of Helsinki.

The only highlight for the embattled defenders is that a 0-8 AA unit at Tampere drives off a Soviet GS IL 2 dropping the odds and a low roll allows the defending infantry brigade, against all odds, to check the Soviet two corps tank assault. (NE)

Soviet riposte south of Leningrad, weakened due to the large losses

Soviet riposte south of Leningrad, weakened due to the large losses

Leningrad Front: The loss of the mech division and strengthen of the German defenders forces the Soviets to probe for other weak spots. They identify a 3 division stack to the west of the former thrust and strike pushing back the defenders and advancing into the Axis lines. 

As a matter of course they eliminate a stay behind fortified 3-6 cadre.

Along the Kalinin sector a similar pattern emerges here with greater losses the thrust south of Kalinin is completely stalled but the Soviets do strike further north at a 2 division stack and cadre it including a 6-10 mech unit.  A stay behind fortified 3-6 cadre and 5-6 inf xx are also eliminated in this sector.

Moscow Front: Stalled in and north of the city the soviets launch a surprise attack in a previously quiet sector just south of the city. It fails to dislodge the defenders. (NE).

Winter Battles: Soviet counter attack at Voronezh

Winter Battles: Soviet counter attack at Voronezh

Voronezh Front.  The Soviets take a chance and mustering all available strength including drawing out a guards defender of Voronezh mass and attack the southern Schwerpunkt of the German attempt to encircle thi city. They obtain am Exchange against the 32 point stack cadering the two Panzer divisions (15-10 and 12-10) but weakening their ability to survive a counterthrust in due course.

Stalingrad Front: No action.

Air Combat: The usual mix of rail and airfield bombing results in an even number of kills and aborts for limited results. The Soviets add a harassment hit in a clear hex just behind German lines north of Kalinin to limit their manoeuvrability.

The Soviets mount a massive 12 bomber raid on Kalinin Airport to draw out the Luftwaffe. This it does and 13 Soviet fighters are engaged directly by 9 German fighters. The Soviet airmen’s plan backfires as they exchange 3 aborts each but lose 4 fighters without inflicting a single kill on the enemy. Flak over the city aborts a bomber and returns 3 of the rerst. Of the 3 viable bombing runs from the remainder only one is successful.

Battle Report

Auto eliminations = 3
Diced Combats = 9

Losses:
Forts = 3, Soviets = 27, Soviet Air = 4
German = 41, Isolated = 1,  German Air = 0
Eastern = 1, Hungarian = 2, Finish Isolated = 17,

1943 FEB II Axis Turn

Turn Summary

The Axis decide the time has come in the north to stop running and to deal the Soviets a mortal blow. The two most advanced Soviet stacks project a single hex into the German lines. Powerful forces lead by first line panzer units mass to counter attack.

However the victory is a pyric one at best. To paraphrase the words of the indomitable Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. “To roll a one and Exchange against a 24 point stack may be considered unfortunate, but to follow that by rolling a second Exchanging against a 38 point stack is positively careless.”

And thus it was; a massive bloodletting which eliminates 3 Soviet Mech divisions (one guards) 3 Guards rifles and numerous rockets support troops and an artillery division cadre. However the Exchange is a terribly high cost (DRs would have achieved enough.  As the attacker and ensuring AEC is <50% means the Germans can use infantry for most losses but 5 divisions are cadred including a mech xx.

The next few turns will reveal if this is sufficient to blunt the blows from the Soviet colossus.

Turn Report

Weather. The false spring in the south ends with snow returning across the map.

Finland & Army of Norway: The rout continues in the centre and the Germans the north are reduced to a small perimeter around Murmansk and scattered units fleeing towards the Norwegian border.

In the south the legendary Finnish motti launches a desperate breakout assault against a lone 4-6 XX barring its path and eliminates the Soviet driving 16 more miles westwards. Meanwhile the last reinforcements arrive in Helsinki as a 5-6 German division rails into the city just before a Soviet tank corps swings south to cut the route to Hango forever.

The Axis counteroffensive in the North ends in a bloodbath

The Axis counteroffensive in the North ends in a bloodbath

AGN The soviet drive which project one hex into the line occupying the vital railroad from Veliki Luki is assaulted and eliminated! But in an exchange infliction a 24 point loss on the Axis attacker.

Immediately to the south of Kalinin the exercise is repeated and a massive Soviet mech stack is completely eliminated but again 38 points are exchanged including a 10-10 German Mech xx. However this attack does eliminate two Soviet Mech XXX including a guard mech unit)

3 fortified hexes which now project into Soviet lines are evacuated except for two 3-6 infantry cadres and in the case of the position in front of Kalinin a 5-6 infantry division. Acting as groins to take the power out of the Red Tide they are designed to minimise the enemy’s ability to launch multiple hex attacks against the main line at these points. They also prevent lateral movement along the line. They are provided with maximum DAS to force the Soviets to commit additional forces against them. It is hoped that collectively they will allow at least one turns respite from the blows raining down on the German positions.

AGC: The boundary is contracted north to give operational control of Qxbow to AGS.

Operation Oxbow strives to isolate Voronezh

Operation Oxbow strives to isolate Voronezh

AGS:  The Oxbow phase two swings into action with a second assault being launched North of Voronezh. This attack lead by Das Reich slices through the Soviet fortified line (which has been present, unmolested, since the Axis high watermark of 41) This supports the continuing thrust north which is hooking behind two fortified stacks on the river.

Unfortunately for the attackers the DH results allow remnants to fall back onto the rail line and deny the Axis any exploitation to isolate the city leaving the southern schwerpunkt vulnerable to counter attack. An attack a few miles south by Rumanian and Italian forces eliminates a defending Soviet stack and advances.

Air Combat: In the north most short range bombers and dive bombers are tasked tio provide DAS to the front line particularly over the front line. An air strike eliminated a Guards IL-4 p on the ground and 3 rail hits in the centre attempt to limit any Soviet rail reinforcements reaching the Oxbow engagement.

Two aircraft are exchanged in aerial combat.

Battle Report

Diced Combats = 7

Losses:
Forts = 1, Soviets = 92  Air = 3
German = 60, Eastern = 2 German Air = 1

1943 FEB I Soviet Turn

Finnish Front: In the far north forces close in on Murmansk

Total collapse of the Axis in the centre with a mopping up operation to clean up a few stragglers.

The drive to Helsinki continues chewing up a 5-6 German infantry division reduced to cadre in combat and overrun in exploitation. The 3 division Finnish Motte is surrounded but not engaged.

Leningrad Front: In the far west of the line a division is retreated. The drive directly south from Leningrad is stalled by the increasing density of the defenders. A single 3 hex assault clearing one corner fort.

At the eastern tip of the retreating axis two hexes are assaulted and losses inflicted. But with two DRs out of the 4 attacks these are limited.

Moscow Front: The new commander with the assistance of engineers and new artillery and guard’s rocket divisions succeeds in taking the penultimate hex of Moscow! The Axis have now lost 4 of the 5 hexes they held at the High Watermark of their advance.

Within the Tula fortified zone secret plans are afoot to assemble a vast strike army ready for a summer offensive. Already from scrappage new recruits and replacements a number of the latest Guards Tank corps are in place awaiting infantry support and the end of winter.

Soviet slowly give groud in the Ukraine to the Axis winter offensive

Soviet slowly give groud in the Ukraine to the Axis winter offensive

Voronezh Front.  The majority of non-armour recruits are directed south to bolster the defences but the Soviets continue to pull back placing most units in supply and tempting the axis to advance out of their supply limit. Immediately north of Voronezh rumours of Axis mechanized forces in the area lead the Soviets to bolster the fortified line there.

Stalingrad Front: No action.

Air War: A few airframes are exchanged and Aborted in a variety of  air operations across the front.

Battle Report

Overruns= 2
Auto Attacks = 1
Diced Combats = 6

Losses:
Forts = 4,
German = 71,
Fins = 5,
Eastern = 1
German Air = 2

Soviets = 28,
Air= 1

1943 JAN II Axis Turn

Weather. A warming in the south brings mud to Zone C.

Finland & Army of Norway: In the far north German units fall back to Murmansk and Norway. The few battalions left in central Finland make a bid to escape to the Gulf of Bothnia ports pursued by the Soviets.

In the south Fortifications are started around Helsinki but with hardly anyone to man them they a likely to pose nothing more than a road bump to the advancing Soviets. The large motti once again slides west and into supply due to a tardy Soviet encirclement which placed ZOCless regiments in its path.

The Axis retreat towards Murmansk

The Axis retreat towards Murmansk

AGN: With the Eastern-most units out of supply the Axis desperately move as fast as possible West but in most cases this is only one hex or two. Mech units leave some infantry behind for fear of encirclement.  The northern Soviet advance directly south from Leningrad is too strong to attack directly but an attempt is made against its flanks. As a result an 11-8 mech is cadred but the Axis just do not have the strength to attack the second flank so choose not to advance into the maw of the advancing Tank Army leaving the spearhead in supply.

The Axis contemplate an attack against Moscow and although strength is sufficient the presence of a NKVD political unit on 3x Guards Infantry means any such attack would fail to dislodge the defenders. So no attack is executed.

AGC: Mobile units are moved up just north of Voronezh with a view to capitalizing on Operation Oxbow’s advance south of the city.

Operation Oxbow continues

Operation Oxbow continues

AGS: Oxbow continues with 5 attacks along the front. The shorter lines of supply shift the emphasis north where the advancing front is still in range of the rail net. Strong forces encircle and eliminate a fort 30 miles south of Voronezh but a 6-4-8 Tk escapes elimination at 8:1 due to its -4 AT defence and retreats in good order.

Air Battles: The Luftwaffe once again support the defence of Finland and DAS flies constantly over the retreating/defending troops on the main northern front. Rail busting in the centre causes 2 hits east and north of the Oxbow operation but costs the life of a JU88A.

Combat Report:

Diced Attacks = 6
Losses:
German = 6, Air =1,
Soviets = 22

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