The plans for the reduction of Gijon offer an interesting tactical choice. Gijon is stacked with 18 defence factors including one artillery unit plus the 1 pt garrison for a total of 19 points. It is fortified. The weather is winter/mud so there is a total negative modifier of -2/-3 over the coming weeks.. Adjacent to the city also fortified is a stack of 11 factors supported by a 0-1-6 artillery unit. Consequently due to the coast and the supporting stack there are only 3 hexes of attack to the city and the 3 for the supporting stack, one of which is mountain.
It would be sensible to attack Gijon directly and then allow the collapse of the Goberneto and subsequent isolation and elimination of the supporting stack an easy task. However there is a problem with this approach due to the limited 3 hex frontage of attack.
The maximum 3 hex attack the Nationalists can mount is 114 made up of 7-6 inf XX, 8 X 6-6 inf XX, 3 X 3-2-6 infs, 3-2-8 lt tk, 5 X 2-6 infs, 3 X 4-6 arts, 3-1-2 sge art (doubled), 2X 2-6 arts for 99 attack factors plus 2 point NGS and every aircraft factors 13 just gets to the 114 necessary. An amazing co-incidence!. . This provides for a 6:1 attack to avoid the risk of an AS and the waste of ASPs this would result in. However this would require pulling the vast majority of front line divisions out of the field, coordinating and moving vast numbers of troops and resources away and stalling the main drive to Valencia and Barcelona so another way needs to be found.
The other factor to consider is that the elimination of the supporting stack first will allow the republic to rebuild the 0-1-6 artillery so the eventual attack on Gijon will be against 20 defence factors. (The Republic will not move it before because it is supporting the stack on unsupported divisions and brigades.
Engineers can be employed to reduce the odds by one level and this will help but will still require a vast effort but means as well that the NGS and any air will have a higher proportional impact due to the lower force levels.
On the other hand an attack on the supporting stack first can be made with second line divisions and some supporting artillery which can be shuffled from front to front in one move and at a low Rail capacity impact. When eliminated this will allow an additional hex of attack frontage which will reduce by 20% the average stack size for the same ratio of attack.
The next question is the engineer use. The engineer corps is only just recovered from the San Sebastian losses and this in itself has delayed the attack. It would be counterproductive to lose them in the supporting attack and therefore they are to be reserved for the attack on Gijon.
Therefore the plan is. Attack the supporting stack without engineers and using the fewest number of front line divisions necessary to accomplish the task. Then employ engineers and a 4 hex frontage to attack Gijon.
Incidentally throughout these 2 attacks all the Italian and Mixed units are to be employed to minimise the use of ASPs which are to be reserved for the attacks on the main front.
Air Activity. Large Strategic air raid designed to knock out the Republic’s Factory at Murcia is initiated.
SM.79-1, SM.81, HE 111B, Mxd 2B3, SM.79-1 (CTV) Escorted by CR.32 and CR.32bis(CTV) are intercepted by I-152, 2X I-16/t5. One I-16/t5 Bypasses and attacks the Mxd 2B3 while the I-152 and the other I-16/t5 engage the fighter escorts. The CR.32buis (CTV) and Mxd 2B3 are Aborted for no loss to the Republican fighters. The remaining bombers avoid heavy (4 factors) AA fire completely unnerved and score 3 hits on the Murcia Factory.
Republican Fighters on Naval patrol SB-2, R-Z, GE 23 make contact with the submarine group blockading Almeria (4317) and score a Hit sinking SS-1!! (R+4VPs)
Attack 1: 3807 clear. (N of Yecia) Supplied7-6 inf XX 13, 6-6 inf XXs 3, 102, 3-2-6 infs 1LE, 3LE, Transported 4-6 art 3RG , Unsupplied 1-5 mech 1, 1-2-6 art and 1-2-8 art 50, Supplied 4-8 cav 1 , 4-6 inf XXs 15, 107, 3-2-8 lt tk #n, 2-1-8 cav iE (Col), 2-6 inf 2Mel (Col) Attack 4-6 inf XX34, 1-8 Bike 1, 1-2-5 inf TL (An), 1-5 inf RN (An) @ 6:1 (-2) = DH Lose 1 Bike, RN (An) , TL (An) Retreat 54 XX..; Advance 15, 102, 107 XXs, 42, 50 art (1 ASP eliminated)
Attack 2: 3809 rough (Hellin) Unsupplied 1-6 inf 20, Supplied 3-2-6 2LE, 5-6 inf XXs 54, 105, 6-8 lt inf XX 2-1-8 cav (Col) 150 and 6-6 inf XX52, 5-6 inf XXs 81, 84, 2-3-6 art 62, 2-1-8 art O, 2-1-8 lt tk 2, 2-6 inf 6Xau (Col) with Do17E, He 111E (KL), 1A2 mxd, R0 37 GA Attack 5-6 inf XX 11ch, 2-3-5* inf XX 71 @ 6:1 (-3) = DR. Advance 54, 84, 105 XXs
Attack 3: 4214 rough (W of Lorca) Unsupplied4-6 inf XX 117, 3-4-5* inf XX 40, 3-5 inf XX 73, 1-6 infs 5, 35, 1-6 inf 5MR, 1-2-6 art 43 Attack 1-2-5 inf Jou (An) @ 7:1 (-3) = DE. Advance All except XX40.
Attack4; 1106 rough cliffs/fort (Adjacent Gijon) Supplied 5-8 inf XX LA (CTV), 4-6 inf XXs FA, FF (Mxd), 3-1-2 sge art Man (CTV), 1-8 art Ter (CTV), 1-8 mg Ard (CTV) and 4-6 mxd inf XX FN, 2-8 mtns Pir, guard, 2-1-8 art E, 4-6 art 1RG, 2-5 inf AGM (Fal) unsupplied 4-6 inf XX60, 5-6 inf XX 71 and 1-6 mg s, Supplied 6-6 inf XXs 1, 108, 152, 2-6 eng AM, 2-6 art 1P, 1-2-6 art 48, 1-6 inf 22 attack 2-4 infs 1,2,36, 1-6 inf 2Exp, 1-6 eng 1, 1-2-4 inf 1, 1-6 art AD (All Ast) @ 6:1 (-3) = DR. All eliminated as no retreat path. Advance inf XX LA (CTV), XXs FA, FF (Mxd), sge art Man (CTV), art Ter (CTV), mg Ard (CTV)
(N.B Rules infringement as one stack over stacked in a mountain hex but other troops were available and the attack could have been made with a non div and NGS for same result – so the result has been allowed to stand)
Attack 5; 3134 (clear) SE of Zaragoza) A surprise attack on a quiet front. The Nationalists have been stocking reserves in Zaragoza and over stacking the defence for such a move. It is hoped that a DE or EX will put additional strain on the Republics defenders and thin the line so it is ripe for the Asturian attack force to return in the clear weather and finish off the Republic once and for all.
Supplied 2-6 infs 3Ceu, 9Arc, unsupplied 4-5-5 inf XX 50, 1-6 inf 18, 1-6 art 11L, 1-6 inf I-S (Col), 1-6 bdr 8Car and Supplied 6-6 inf XXs 4, 63, 5-6 XX inf 51, 2-6 infs 10BT,m 5Ah (Col) and 6-6 inf XX 5, 5-6 inf XXs 61, 62, 2-6 infs 7Lam, Tdi attack 3-4-5* XX 27CM, 2-6 eng ZM, 1-2-6 sec8GA, 2-6 inf 211C, 1-2-6 art 4 @ 4:1 (-1) = DR. Advance XXs 50, 51, inf Lam, Tdi, 3Ceu (Cols).
A large effort for little gain and the element of surprise is lost, however it does increase the attack frontage south.
The Nationalists grind on
Weather; Unchanged . D=W. E=M, A= R, M= C
Airfield (3 cap) constructed at 3510 (N of Albacete)
Supply:. Forward pursuers in the Penebetica out of supply as are some Nationalist in North Aragon valley. The Republicans on the Madrid/Valencia rail line are back in supply
Movement: 1 Res pt spent to Temporarily increase Rail Cap to 24 REs
Replacements ; 2 SRPs recovered 2 divisions plus arriving 117 XX equipped. ME 109D replaced., CR.32 repaired
Long delayed Cav 2 XX is formed. (The OB calls for the 6,7, 9 Cav regiments but the 7th stayed loyal in Seville so I have assumed this formation would take place with what was available and substituted the 3rd for the 7th)
VPs : Lack of Goberneto collapse (R+5 VPs). None Surrender( R+10 VPs)
French border; Closed
Supply: Almeria defenders U3 isolated.
Factory Production: Despite heavy damage the Murcia factory only looses 1ASP from its production quota.
Replacements; 1 SRP (An) , 2 SRPs (Ast) recovered. 2x 1-2-6 art replaced and form AIAP.
2X Aborted I-15/t25s regrouped and one received the other replaced. With ARPs.
Air Activity: Naval patrol SB-2, R-Z, GE 23.
Sortie 1: sb-2 escorted by I-16/t5 fly to 3516 (E of Guadix) He 51 Bypasses the screen but is shot down by the SB-2 (eliminated). The Sb-2 then successfully hits the airfield Aborting the 1A2 Mxd on the ground.
Moves. The Republicans decide to evacuate some more hexes to shorten the line.