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Sep 43 II

Axis Player Turn

Calm seas and clear weather, again

The Axis use every available night capable bomber and attack unit to strat-bomb the port at Yeu, managing to KO the port again. One Do217 was lost to a NF and a couple of air units were returned or aborted by the heavy flak (US 3-10 Mot Hvy AA III and 2 points of AA from the airfield). The Allies will be U-1, but have enough supply for their engineers. Scorched earth continues in Italy with a slow retreat to the 34XX hex row.

On Corsica the Axis elect to defend on a 2 hex front – 27/1003 and 27/1103. Engineers clear more rail in Italy and along the French Med coast, but movement between Italy and France still must go by strat rail via Germany. The ants shipped to France last turn move into place near Yeu and around Bordeaux. It is too risky to remove any forces from the Channel coast to cover Normandy, Brittany or the Biscay. Since there is no LC ferry at Yeu the large stack in 17/1721 is reduced to a single 12-10 PzGren division. Small Axis air forces stand by to resist any Allied invasion along the Biscay coast, but the bulk remain in Italy and Southern France. An invasion of France is still considered unlikely due mostly to the paltry Allied air forces in the theater.

Allied Player Turn.

Allied engineers clear 3 hits from Yeu, and a US 0-1-8 Construction Regiment is shipped in. The Allies call up both MTO and the RAF ETO strat air forces. Germany calls up her strat air and places most in France. A lack of bases in the Biscay means that several fighters are stationed in Paris and central France. Most of last turn’s heavy Allied air losses are repaired in the ETO. The Allies take advantage of their 12-cap airbase on Belle to stage fighters there and then conduct a series of airbase attacks. After a couple of lucky Allied air-to-air rolls the Luftwaffe stops contesting the fighter sweeps (one lucky A-36 shot down a Fw-190A2and lived to tell about it). The Allies then went after bombers and attack units, in the process worsening the Axis basing situation. Allied bombers in England studiously avoided the heavy concentration of fighters in Paris to cut rail links between Germany and France. Strat air forces took care of Paris and several other rail depots.

In the MTO allied aircraft took out two anti-ship units stationed at Marseille, but did minimal damage to the rail links between Italy and France. Allied ground forces took two hexes in Corsica, eliminating the 5-8 SS Pz Gren X and reducing the 12-10 PzGren XX. On the mainland they took both coastal hexes of the 34XX hex row but avoided attacking large stacks of German c/m in bad terrain. Another US TF and LC moved from the MTO to ETO, setting up for possible ferry operations at Yeu on Oct I. With the reinforcements to the ETO there are now 3 division equivalents of airborne, 16 LC, 4 TF and 42 air units in England or the Biscay islands. Seven more REs of Italians died, bringing the total to 41. The Axis should have no real trouble holding the count below 50 REs until Oct II, meaning a surrender roll is likely Nov I 43. 2 German air units are in the eliminated box; 7 German, 2 Italian and 3 US air units are in the aborted boxes. The Allies have not taken any ground or naval losses.

Commentary

Victory point count: The first count results in a +8 for controlling Sicily and Corsica. The slow but steady Allied strategy and the Axis accountant gambit both seem to be functioning. Knowing the victory point table rewards a cautious Allied player is some compensation for not getting to try what I know to be workable operations that would speed up progress, but the coast of France sure looks inviting. Having banked 3 months worth of NRPs and Infantry replacements may make some risk taking more likely, but time runs short n the weather calendar.

 

Setup and Pregame Turn

Setup:

Axis set up with almost every ant in the WEST along with most of the better divisions stacked to the max along the French-Italian frontier rail lines. Forces on Sicily are cloistered around Messina, those on Sardinia around La Maddalena. Axis air forces are all in Italy, Southern France and Corsica, well out of range of Allied fighters. Axis anti-ship air units are concentrated in two large stacks at Roma and Napoli. The defense of France is entrusted to a single Panzer XX along with the 4-5, 5-5 and 5-7-6 Infantry XXs. Axis engineers are set to continue construction of the Atlantic Wall and the Winter Line across central Italy.

After covering their garrison requirements in Britain the Allies set up all but 9 fighters in the MTO. Many NTs are set up in the Mid and Near East loaded with troops. More are set up off map in Britain, also loaded with troops. About three-quarters of the LC are loaded with troops, though some are c/m and artillery.

Pre-game:

The Allied air force is left unmolested by Axis fighters to pound the rail net on Sicily, in the toe and to a lesser extent on Sardinia. The fighters in Britain score a single rail hit in France. Bombers take out the port at La Maddalena and place hits on all the ports in NW Sardinia and SW Corsica. It looks like Italian divisions will need their LC-ferry to get off Sardinia.

Oct 43 I

Axis Player Turn

Weather roll is a 6, mud in zone D. Atlantic and other sea zones are calm.

Anticipating a surrender roll, Axis forces withdraw from the Italian heel and break contact in the toe, destroying what they can as they go. Axis forces on Corsica are retreating north as fast as Allied ZOCs and weather permit. 10 REs of Italians are exposed and easy kills, that’s 1 RE more than needed for a surrender roll. The remaining Italians are out of easy reach or stacked with Germans in anticipation of an Oct II surrender.

With mud in France Axis engineers can only repair a couple of airfield hits. The rail net is a mess and units arriving in Germany have to admin move across rail breaks along the border. Should Italy surrender the coast of Southern France is going to look very bare. The need to maintain a strong presence in the Bay of Biscay (Yeu is set up as an LC ferry) and the Channel coast (19 LC, several TF and 2+ airborne divisions in England) takes a lot of German troops. Normandy and Brittany are weakly held. Italian troops provide the vast majority of troops along the French Med coast and down to Roma.

Allied Player Turn.

An SAS Bn lands on the Italian heel adjacent to Galipoli in gliders, and a US 1-8 Mortar Bn slides onto the beach from an LC in the exploitation phase, along with some supplies. A British naval TF stands off the beach ready to provide NGS. (Using a 16 pt TF sounds a bit extreme, but the Allied navy has yet to fire a single shot, better to use it than lose it.)

On the Italian toe Commonwealth forces regain contact along the 33/34XX line, eliminating 6 Italian and 1 German REs. Allied fighters stage into newly built airbases within intercept range of their TF and beachhead on the heel. Allied air forces conduct more railway bombing to inhibit Axis movement in what is expected to be the surrender turn.

US forces on Corsica kill another 3 REs of Italian (2-3-2 Coastal XX in the mountains) and force the 44 HuD Inf XX to retreat. In the air over Corsica a Fw190A2 is aborted and a MC.202 is killed. AA gunners from the 44th HuD abort a B-26B and return enough other Allied aircraft to avoid a 7:1 attack, saving the division from a DH (6:1 -4, rolled a 6).

Allied naval forces pour back into the MTO (2 TF and many LC) along with a few special operations troops ( British 2-5 Para X and 1-8 Mar-Cdo II). The ETO still maintains a sizeable threat with 7x LC, 2x 16 point TF, 2+ Airborne XX, many Commando units and an LC ferry at Yeu. The Luftwaffe has given up challenging Allied fighter bombers attacking the French rail net, and has no where near enough engineer assets to keep the net open. All border crossings between France and Germany are blocked and the nets within range of England and the twin airbases at Belle/Yeu are a mess. In order to preserve some kind of strategic mobility the Germans may be forced to station fighters to cover the Franco-German border.

The end of October I 43 finds 51 Italian REs toward surrender. Combined with Allied owned Sicily this means a surrender roll will come in Oct II. Two potential Italian units could change sides. A 0-1-6 Construction III is alone in Ajaccio (it stayed behind to complete the destruction of the port) and a 1-3-6 Lt AA unit is alone in Galipoli (acting as rear guard). The Axis didn’t expect the Allies to drop into 26/3511.

Oct 43 II

Mud in zone D, clear in E. Med Calm, Atlantic Rough.

Axis Player Turn

Italy surrenders on the first roll. All Axis units on Corsica and Elba are isolated. All Italians except a 0-1-6 Cons III on Sardinia (left behind to finish destroying the port of Ajaccio) and a 1-3-6 Lt AA X rearguard at Galipoli. The Italian fleet mostly goes over to the Allies, but then suffers Nazi Yahtzee dice and a great deal of it scuttles. German forces scurry around like cockroaches to man port defenses and get as far away from the Allies as possible. Strong Panzer and Panzer Grenadier divisions hold a line in along the 31XX hexrow attempting to hold the British on the toe for one more turn while their non-c/m brothers make for the first fortified line north of Napoli. Air forces position themselves to attack the remnants of the Italian fleet when it attempts defect. (The SF rules on this are a bit, shall we say, unclear, so I muddled through in true Royal Navy fashion).

When the Italians tried to defect (move to an Allied port) they first moved at night. There were 10 NTs and 5 points of TF left and the Luftwaffe attempted to naval patrol off the east coast of Corsica, well within range of many Allied fighters. Two NTs were sunk. Allied air losses were 1 RAF Spit9 eliminated and another aborted, a USAAF P-40 aborted. The Axis lost 1 RSI MC.205V eliminated and 2 Luftwaffe Ju88A4 aborted. Several naval patrols failed to make contact. The Italians move to Alexandria. Germany captures 4 points of TF and 2 NT. 267 AF of Italians are disarmed, netting 26.7 Inf RP. Those were all on-map. I still don’t know what to do with the Italians in garrison – do they get disarmed and count for replacements, or don’t they? Italian units that stay loyal to the Axis are: 1x 2-5 Para, 1x 2-8 Para-Inf, 1x 1-2-6 Inf (CCNN).

German transport planes are able to get into Corsica and retrieve the 8-6 Inf XX and several ants – Allied fighters are tied down defending the Italian fleet. These units will come in handy, very handy. The Axis is woefully short on units to garrison Italian cities, and the rail net is a wreck, so little help is expected from France short of a massive airlift.

Allied Player Turn

Three British corps nail German rearguard at 26/3216 with a 7:1 -3 attack (terrain, 1/2 AECA, full ATEC). LSSAH is cadred! US/British forces capture Btindisi intact (rolled a 6 on port destruction). British/French forces can’t catch the fleeing non-c/m units north of the German rearguard.

90th SS PzGren cadre is eliminated (isolated) on Corsica and Allied troops advance adjacent to Bastia and Calvi. The 44 HuD Inf XX is cut off and weak German forces remain in Calvi and Bastia.

More damage to the French, Belgian, Dutch, German and Italian rail nets. Very few repairs are getting done. Multiple cuts on each rail line block movement across the French-German frontier and along the North-South rail lines in Italy. Rail lines in France south of Paris and in Northern Italy are mostly functioning, but for how long?

 

Aug 43 II

Axis Player Turn

Axis forces retreat up the Italian toe, destroying rail hexes in their wake. A sacrificial 2-3-2 Coastal XX is left in the mountain hex at 26/3922 to delay any Allied advance. Rail damage and harassment prevent significant movement of German ants to WEST. Italian engineers are airlifted to cities in the north that sustained RMY hits in Aug I, and this should help clear the rail. No response is mounted to the capture of Yeu. With two engineers on the island any minor damage would be easily repaired, and a major effort is out of the question as Axis air needs to stay concentrated in SOUTH. With so many Allied fighters guarding their two LC ferries to Corsica the Axis decline to interfere, but prepare their NODL and beach defenses.

Allied Player Turn

The airbase on Belle is augmented, a new one on Yeu is built, and several are placed in northern Sardinia. Allied LC make a mass migration to the ETO and end with 3x TF, 15x LC and ample NTs in the ETO. One LC is set up as a ferry at Yeu. Four British and Canadian Infantry XX and an Armored XX are broken down in Britain. Eight REs of airborne including all the components of the British Airborne XX are in the ETO. A British 8-8 Inf XX is shipped to Yeu, ready to take advantage of that ferry. US troops from Iceland land in the UK. The only weak link is Allied air power (or lack thereof), a measly 14x F, 1x A, 6x B-types are in the ETO now, but all Sep I Allied air reinforcements can go to ETO. Everything with range 15 or better can transfer between theaters using Yeu and Sardinia, possibly during the Axis Sep I player-turn.

Allied attacks net a measly 4 REs of Italians, and that count stands at 27. Allied units attack into Corsica via ferries and advance up the toe, reaching a line 26/3619-3618-3718. Allied air forces continue their anti-rail campaign with both MTO and one ETO strat air forces called up. Tactical air units can now reach the East Coast of Italy from Sardinia and concentrate on breaking rails in the middle of Italy. Allied air in the ETO seems to be isolating the Biscay-Brittany-Normandy region and the limited number of German construction troops will be hard pressed to do much about it. Rail into/out of the coast from Belgium to Le Havre is also kaput, Paris has four rail hits and the lines leading between Italy and France have multiple hits.

Commentary

So far the accountant’s defense is working like a charm. This doesn’t seem to be hindering the Allies much, and has not enticed them into precipitous adventures. But what will the Axis do to meet the threat posed in their WEST theater?

 

Nov I 43

Mud in zones C, D and E. Med Calm, Atlantic Rough.

Axis Player Turn

Luftwaffe night bombers raid Ajaccio losing a Ju188 to RCAF night fighters, but manage the one hit needed to shut down the port. Several Allied units will find themselves out of supply. Mud hampers the Axis retreat toward their fortified line and hinders the destruction of airbases and rail lines. Several c/m divisions break down to allow more MPs for the scorched earth campaign, then reassemble in the exploitation phase. Many Italian cities are still short their garrisons and engineers can only make feeble attempts at rail repairs, concentrating on getting a line open between Germany and central France.

Allied Player Turn

Axis find themselves short 8 REs of occupation forces in Italy, partisans make hay while the sun shines but are mostly ineffectual. (A total of 3 rail breaks in France and Italy this turn, though aircraft add another 17 rail breaks.) Very little Allied construction due to continued mud – one airbase upgrade on Yeu and 1 airbase dismantled on Malta. Mines are swept at the mouth of the Adriatic, opening up the Italian east coast ports to Allied ships and the beaches to invasion. British 5th Para X lands on an undefended Lagosta and is disrupted, despite using gliders. The Italian RM-1 Task force (strength 3) sails from Alexandria to Britain, rumored to be conducting mine seeping practice enroute.

The last flames of German resistance are extinguished on Corsica by strong US forces. The ports of Calvi and Bastia were overrun. 36th US Inf XX and its cadre are exchanged for the 10-6 44 HuD Inf XX in the mountains south of Calvi. The US player could’ve used a smaller c/m unit as part of the exchange, but the difference in RPs is slight and this gets the Inf XX off Corsica immediately. Unlike the isolated Nazis many US soldiers live on as special replacements. The 44 HuD is expected to be rebuilt on the mainland as soon as possible. Two French 1-5 Construction units are flown into Ajaccio to become the island’s garrison next turn.

On the Italian mainland Allies employ 4 TF and much air power to gain a 7:1 (-3) attack against 16th Pz XX defending the west coast road south of Salerno. They roll a 4 (-3) for a DR. A 2-1-R LR Siege Bn and a 0-1-6 Penal II are killed in the mountains. The ports of Taranto and Bari destroyed as Allied units enter them. Two French Infantry XX and the mighty 15-10 NZ Mech XX land and march toward the front. The Allies have now captured two connected marshalling yards and next turn can begin building rail capacity. Allied aircraft spend most of the turn bombing rail hexes. Total losses: Axis 19 AF (17 isolated on Corsica), Allies 9 AF.

 

Feb II 44

Weather roll is a 2. Zone C is an N, which means more snow. Zone D remains Mud. Zone E is finally clear weather. Atlantic roll is a 6 for storms, Med is a 2 for calm.

Axis Player Turn

Very glad to get the Mud in D. Repaired 5 air units in the aborted box and the two 5-7-6 Inf XX coming full in the West go to beef up the rather lax defenses in Normandy. The Gustav line is straightened and now runs 26:2124-2123-2022-2021-1922-1920-1719, approximately the historical line. Allied units on Elba use special supply, New Zealanders and company in 26:2020 go U-1.

Allied Player Turn

USAAF is again short air units to garrison the Mid-East, -2 ARPs for that and -3 more to replace losses. The air cycle ends with the following ARPs unused: US 44, Brits 56, French 6, Italians 6, Allied anti-ship 8, Germany 21, RSI 5. Axis meet all occupation requirements, so no extra partisan rolls. Allied engineers rebuild Napoli’s port and remove port hits from there and Taranto. Other than shuffling the line forward over ground the Axis retreated from and a lot of engineers moving around/fixing things not much happens on the ground. Allied air forces continue to pound away almost without opposition on the Axis rail nets. Another 21 rail hits are scored between partisans and air units. British 11th Armored XX ends the turn in Gibraltar after embarking during the exploitation phase at Reggio.

Commentary

There really is no Axis rail net in Italy on map 26, nor in France within fighter range of Corsica, England, Belle or Yeu. Rail movement between Italy and France is out of the question, but a single line is open between Germany and France, though it doesn’t go far. The Allies get another increase in quality and quantity of air units next turn, and campaign season is not far away. It will be interesting to compare results of this 1943 campaign against the SF Apr I 1944 start data.

Nov II 43

Weather roll = 2. Zone C and D Mud, Zone E Clear. Atlantic Rough, Med Calm.

Axis Player Turn

44 HuD is reincarnated as a 5-7-6, along with the 4-5* Static XX, 2-1-R RR Art II and 1-2-4 Fortress III for a total of 12 Inf RPs. The 0-1-6 Penal II (LW) is a freebee.

The KM brazenly steams out with a single NT and lays mines to cover the port of Den Helder. Coastal Command fails two attempts to make contact in the rough North Sea. Aircraft lay other mines along the French Mediterranean and northern Italian coast. German troops pull back to the first fort line which runs 26:2222-2220-2019-2018-1918. Allied harassment was a minor irritation, but not plentiful enough to cause significant problems.

Allied Player Turn

Germany is short 4 REs of Italian occupation forces. Partisans in Italy and France score a total of 3 rail hits. Both sides call up their strategic air forces. The US rebuilds the 9-8 Inf XX lost in an exchange last turn.

Allied ground forces close up on the German fortified line, but can find no place for a profitable (or even reasonable) attack. Movement is hindered by harassment flown by LW (mostly strat air assets). Allied NTs are busy carting units off Sardinia and Corsica, the US sends an 11-8 Inf XX and 16-10 Arm XX to the ETO.

Counter-air and rail attacks are the major missions, but mud and flak make the bombing of airbases less profitable. The Luftwaffe rose only once for air to air (no casualties). Bombs and flak account for 3 RAF and 3 Luftwaffe fighters aborted. Due to the wide coverage of German strategic fighter reserves Allied medium bombers are afraid to venture deep into enemy territory as they have in the past. Allied strategic bombers close down all but one Rhine River crossing, and do more damage to the rail nets in southern France and northern Italy.

 

Mar I 44

Weather roll: 4 = mud in zones C, D & E. Atlantic is clear with a 1, Med is rough with a 4.

Axis Player Turn

Construction begins on more forts in Italy. Elsewhere engineers clear a few airbase hits. The division of labor slows rail repairs somewhat. Allied troops on Elba would be U-2 but for the supply points landed last turn. 2x British 9-8 Inf XX in 26/2020 go U-1. Two more points of rail cap are added to Western Europe, brining the total to 57. So many resource points and so little to do with them.

An Axis NT slips out of Genova at night and instantly makes contact with Allied patrol craft (rolled a 6 for the DZ). Luckily the Allies are slow to react and the NT escapes damage (Allies miss their damage roll). The NT goes on to lay mines and on the daylight return to port the Allies fill the sky looking for the NT, but fail to find her. (Allies missed 3 contact rolls with naval patrols from Corsica ad Sardinia.)

Allied Player Turn

Lots of new aircraft show up, a gain of 25 air units on the map. The damaged LC is repaired and the airbase on Elba is completed. Allied forces begin to shift back to the ETO. This turn 6 LC, 2 TF, a Brit 13-10 Arm XX, and the US Amphib Assault Engineers join the forces in England. There are now 2 Br, 1 Can and 2 US Inf XX broken down in the UK, with another 2 US and 1 Brit in the MTO. Italian TF sweep mines off the Dutch and Northern Italian coasts. No hits to either of these 2-pt TF.

Allied planes wreck further havoc on the Axis rails and make it a point to bomb RSI air units. Axis airmen quiver like scared children, they stay on the ground rather than risk air-to-air combat. LR fighters plaster northeastern Italy, there will be no quick train rides between SE theater, Germany and Italy. A small concentration of naval forces is held at Algiers (1x 12-pt TF, 9x NT and 3x LC loaded with US Infantry).

Commentary

Another slow turn playing in the mud. The Gustav line is still too tough to crack, and the Italian coast is well guarded. The invasion of France is still a few turns off (unless the weather cooperates) and it would not be wise to commit a bunch of LCs to an isolated beachhead in Italy. There will be no Anzio in this game.

Dec I 43

Axis Player Turn

Weather roll = 4, zone D Frost, zones C & E Mud. Seas: Atlantic storming, Med calm.

Germans feel short along their front and attempt ot activate the 362nd Inf XX early – they get the cadre and rebuild to XX at Pescara near the eastern edge of their line in Italy. The Allies fly 11 harassment hits to slow down German movement, Germans abate 1 point. German forces fully man the fortified line and place what they believe to be sufficient forces in their second line to avoid losing any ground during exploit. German troops are stretched thin everywhere, coastal defenders and occupation forces both had to give up some units for the front. Another Panzer XX is diverted from the West to South. The rail nets are a total mess, troops arriving from Germany can’t make it to the front.

Allied Player Turn

Axis occupation forces are 6 REs short in Italy – however the Alies will not make any additional attacks due to the Guru’s clarification of the occupation rule. Partisans score 1 rail hit in Italy. The Allies increase their mainland Italy rail cap by 4 (now 8). Axis mines are swept from the ports of Napoli and Salerno. Both sides call up their strategic air forces. US Port Construction Engineers get to work repairing Taranto while others are shipped into Napoli.

Four Allied TF sail into the westernmost hex of the German line, taking 1 hit from CD for their trouble (the first hit to any Allied naval unit). Herr Goering takes offense and sends his Luftwaffe after the Allied armada and a furious air combat takes place. A large group of 3 bombers with three escorts heads in from Firenze and manages to make contact (rolls a 6). No hits are scored and a He177 is shot down while a Ju88 torpedo bomber is aborted. The Allies fly more CAP just in time to see a group from Bologna fail their contact roll. A third group from La Spezia succeeds in making contact and eluding Allied fighters, dodges the heavy flak and plants a hit on a 16 point RN TF. A final group from Genova fails to make contact.

In a 6:1 (-1) attack supported by 54 points of NGS the Allies roll a 6 (DE) to cadre 15th PzGren and kill two LW Mot AA Regts. The allies roll another 6 in a 5:1 (-3) attack two hexes away at 26:2220 and get a DR. 1st Fallshirmjaeger XX in hex 2221 feels a little lonely. Meanwhile in the ETO the Bomber Command and 8th US Air Force are having a hard time finding rail yards that haven’t been destroyed. Several attacks are sent against the Ruhr for lack of targets in France and the Low Countries. LR Allied fighters escort packs of B-25’s and B-26’s to close down the only remaining rail link across the Rhine. Frost weather slows down rail repairs, but has no effect on bombing – isn’t it great. The Italian 3-pt TF in Britain sallies forth into the channel mine belt and immediately takes two hits. It finishes sweeping one hex and retreats back to an off-map port to be repaired. That’s a total of 4 hits to TF this turn, and luckily for the Allies those are the only hits so far in the game.

Ground losses: 1x 13-10 PzGren XX cadred, 2x 2-10 Mot AA killed. Air losses: 2 German units killed, 7 aborted; 4 US and 4 British units aborted.

Comments

Had the Germans pulled back to their final defensive line (Gustav Line) the Frost weather probably would’ve allowed the Allies to force their way into that line. The Germans will undoubtedly have trouble infiltrating the 9-8* Fallshirmjaeger XX back to the Gustav line, but it will be able to move adjacent to that line and can not be cut off. The Allies have managed to get most of their major units off Corsica/Sardinia and onto mainland Italy (most all the way to the front) or back to the ETO, but suffer from a shortage of both forward airfields and forward engineers. There are slightly over 100 rail hits in Axis controlled areas and nowhere is there a cleared line between France, Italy or Germany. Germany has started to expend Resource Points on building rail cap, but she may not have any rails to use by May 1944. Does GRD sell sheets of hit markers?

 

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