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Tag: Game Report (page 2 of 84)

1942 AUG I Axis Turn

Narrative

In a series of political gestures of no real military significance or effect Stalin announces that the small settlement at the rail junction at point 2107 which saw the elimination of the 14th panzer is to be elevated to the status of “Hero Hamlet” and renamed “Little Stalingrad”

Hitler meanwhile promotes the previously unremarkable commander of the isolated spearhead to Field Marshal declaring “Never has a commander who has not had the guts to stand up to my inane and military incompetent commands ever surrendered”.

Not to be outdone Herman Goring declares that if requested he could supply the whole Front from the air so a few panzer divisional should be a doddle.

Turn Report

Finland and Army of Norway: Troops south of Murmansk with air support eliminate a 2-6* Naval brigade in the mountains in a move to outflank the main line of resistance East of lake Imanada.

In southern Finland now the crisis north of Leningrad is averted the 9th pz moves back to attack East and ZOCs the main N/S rail again. Caution prevents the unit occupying the rail because the Finns are just not strong enough to provide any sort of support or relief should the 9th become embroiled in a Soviet counter-attack.

Collapse of the summer offensive

Collapse of the summer offensive

AGN: Group Frederikus NE of Moscow (named after the disgraced former commander) reaches German lines in force and adds its strength to an attack on the northernmost fort adjacent to the German forces East of the upper Volga, eliminating it and widening the bridgehead.

The stalled southern drive to reach the trapped spearhead turns through 90 degrees north into the flank of the southernmost of the two forts which formed the hole in the middle of the German “doughnut” of occupation. The attack eliminates this island of resistance. Simultaneously its adjacent twin to the north falls to an attack aided by massed rail guns where fanatical NKVD supported defenders take their toll on the aggressors. (DR converted to EX).

North of this action the top part of the donut attempts to make contact with the surrounded north fragment of the spearhead but fails 5:1(-2) = NE.

The surrounded southern fragment also fails in its attempt to drive north through the separating screen of Soviet armour. Here gallant and relentless Soviet fighter interception drives off most German air support albeit at some cost (2 downed fighters) dropping the odds to 5:1(-2) where a poor roll produces another NE result.

AGC: All quiet on the Eastern Front.

Germans battle for Rostov

Germans battle for Rostov

AGS: The drive Southeast continues apace. The Soviet armoured corps fleeing to Rostov is eliminated. Mech units cross the Don River East of Rostov and in the exploitation phase swing in behind the city where a tenuous blockade is created. Meanwhile the mainly Axis Allied assault continues to harry the fleeing Russian hoards taking Makeyevka and Gorlovka.  The 3 panzer units north of Rostov pressed between the city and the units fleeing East extract themselves and move to form an inner wall east of the city preventing any breakout in that direction.

Air War: In the north most air is again used as flying artillery to try and break through to the spearhead.

A large air drop is attempted to supply the southern group of trapped Panzers to the north of Yaroslavl. High cross winds over the drop zone causes many of the supplies to be hopelessly scattered much falling into the hands of the Soviets. Out of 7 drops only 3 REs reach the troops in the pocket.

In the south once again rail interdiction is the major activity aiming to isolate Rostov from reinforcement and minimise interference to the blockading forces.16 missions produce 5 hits.

Battle Report

Attacks: Auto = 5, Diced = 11

Losses:
Soviet Isolated = 21 Un-isolated= 60,   River Flotilla = 1,   Forts = 8 (including 2 abandoned)
German = 13

Air losses:
Soviet 3 (including one under repair overrun on the ground)

1942 JUL II Soviet Turn

Commentary

The Soviet counter attack in the north hits home with full force. Significant pure armour attacks are launched on the single remaining supply line to the German spearhead north of Yaroslavl and at the rump of the column fleeing north from Moscow.

In addition a mixed force of reserves, new arrivals transferees and air power strikes at the eastern tip of the German advance. (The 14th pz a 16-10 unit placed on the critical crossroads at point 2107.) The results of these engagements will decide the outcome of the German attempt to isolate Leningrad and the north if not the entire war.

Turn Report

Partisans:  3 rail hits but against little used spurs or unconverted lines as increased security now covers all the main arterial routes.

Finnish Front: No action north as at half strength due to supply difficulties and with no RPs arriving no attacks are allowable anyway.

North of Leningrad forces fall back in front of the assault by 9th pz. The breakthrough Tank xxx desperately seeks escape and moves north away from the nearest route home which is now blocked.

 

German Panzer army destroyed east of Kalinin

German Panzer army destroyed east of Kalinin

Leningrad/Moscow Fronts: Targeted attacks eliminate the tail of the German column desperately seeking escape NW from Moscow. An Inf XX and 2 artillery units are eliminated.

Forces move into the void where the Germans have retracted over the river eastwards just north of Yaroslavl.  Strong mech forces with artillery and katyusha support smash into the remaining German supply route tethering the spearhead to the main front. Forces also attack south from the north; some from an out of supply position; some moving west from positions just at the extreme tip of their supply lines around Vologda. The two forces meet engaging two Axis stacks. When the dust clears the battle field belongs to the Soviets who now have an armoured wall two hexes deep separating the German spearhead from the main body of troops to the west. The Germans loose another truck counter. Two surviving stugs are overrun by exploiting Soviet tank xxxs which stream east bisecting the cut off German spearhead.

The crowning glory of the counter offensive is the attack on 14th pz at point 2107. A supporting 1-10 AA unit is overrun and, completely surrounded, the Panzer unit is utterly annihilated. The first outright kill of a full strength panzer in clear weather in the war. Does this mark a turning point or is it just a bump on the Axis road to victory?

Voronezh Front: No action although a couple of Tk corps with support units previously ordered north have those orders countermanded and move back south due to the emerging battle at Rostov.

Chaos on the Southern Front while the German Sixth Army heads East.

Chaos on the Southern Front while the German Sixth Army heads East.

Rostov Front: It is clear to the Soviet high command that the Stalino line cannot be held. To slow the Axis Stalino itself is fully stacked with NKVD “encouragement” the adjacent city of Makeyevka also stacked. Elsewhere minimal strength is left on alternate hexes to slow the pursuers as the bulk of the forces flee east effectively abandoning the fortified line.

The panzers blocking the hoard are reached and partly enveloped but at half strength the forces are incapable of mounting any sort of attack. In the eastern end of the river bend the isolated Tank corps extract themselves and one moves NE into the river bend and the other towards Rostov to help to counter Axis moves to develop and reinforce the encirclement.

Air War: Leningrad aircraft provide DAS as far east as they can reach. Further east all soviet air power is again directed at GS to aid the crucial attacks.

In the south air raids are carried out against Axis airfields and Valuyki airfield is put out of action. Over Mariupol a battle develops which claims 3 Soviets for one German fighter. Short range Assault bombers provide DAS over the retreated tank corps and some other key hexes.

Battle Report
Overruns = 2.   Combats; Diced = 6

Losses:
German Isolated = 16. German Un-isolated = 29. French = 2
Air Losses: Soviets = 4. German = 1.

1942 JUL II Axis Turn

Narrative

A knock at the door. “Come in”.

“The car is here for the airfield sir”.

Thank you Walter. Walter step inside and close the door will you?

“Sir”.

“Please call me Frederick we have campaigned together long enough now to drop the formalities.”  “Why oh! Why did we come to this godforsaken country?”

“The Fuhrer willed it?”

“The Fuhrer, the Fuhrer that jumped up little corporal.   Don’t be alarmed, we can speak freely, we are alone here”. “Remember Poland, France.  Remember that summer in Paris, Ah! Paris; the food the wine and the women?”

“Yes Sir, er Frederick I remember a certain little French restaurant off the cobbled square with the fountain and a certain waitress you spent quite a bit of time with. What was her name? Feefee, yes, Feefee Labonc”.

Ah!, Feefee, love was in the air that summer, indeed I seem to remember you caught the eye of a certain Mark I tank commander“

“Er, some of us have fonder memories of Paris than others.”

Yes Walter, only teasing, and then we went on to Yugoslavia and Greece. So how was it that with the Low Countries at our feet, France, the Balkans, Poland did we try for more, didn’t we have enough?  And so now we have to deal with the Bolsheviks.

When I was young, growing up in Duisburg my father would take me to the traveling fare. It came round every six months or so. There was one stall I visited every time – the shooting range. The top prize was a large bear as big as I was at the time. All I needed to do was shoot down all the metal ducks. I tried every year for 6 years and every time just as I thought I had them all another duck would appear.

These Russians are like those ducks, it does not matter how many of them we kill, how many we surround and capture, how many our SS “comrades” torture there are always more of them just over the horizon That big Russian bear is always just out of reach.

I tell you what the problem is with these Russians Walter they don’t know when to give up. The Poles did, the Greeks did and the French practically begged us to occupy them. Even the British went back home with their tails between their legs; but not these Russians, – has no one told them they’re defeated?

“The car, Frederick”

“Ah yes the car, we must not keep the men in leather waiting must we?”

“But answer me one thing Walter –honestly please. I did do right by the men didn’t I, ordering the retreat?

“Yes, Frederick you did right by the men.”

“Good, good that is the main thing although I do not think Berlin sees it that way.”

“I will give you one last order before I go Walter, the most difficult of orders, Will you promise me you will carry it out to the letter?

“Yes, of course as always”

“Please go now to the radio room and send this message. It denounces me as a traitor and coward.

“Never!, please do not ask me to do this.”

“You must for your own sake, my fate is sealed but there is still hope for you, after all you were just “following orders””. “Go now and do this for me – if the time we have served together means anything.”

A few moments later Walter is leaning over the radio operator dictating the message to the shocked orderly.

A single shot rings out.

Walter turns to the guard at the front door and commands.

“You there, please go and advise the men by the car outside that their services are no longer required”

Turn Report

Finland and the Army of Norway:

Armoured RPs arrive from Germany at Helsinki and the Finnish 2-10 Arm X is rebuilt.

Little action in the far north as the Germans hold fire and conserve ammunition/RPs for when the Soviets are weakened by supply shortages.

Just north of the lakes in the south however the Finns surround the Soviet XXX behind their lines and block all escape routes. 9th Pz thus attacks due west in support of this operation to push back the Soviets holding the southern end of the causeway over the lakes so that the fate of the XXX is assured.

AGN: A stay behind brigade is eliminated north of the Valdai where the Soviets straightened the line.

On the main front the Germans resolve to reconnect with the isolated spearhead.  Two large stacks attack either side of the soviet “doughnut” centred on the rail crossing.  The trapped forces are given permission to try and connect with the relief force. The northernmost attack is successful and supply is restored but no further progress is made eastwards.

Disaster strikes at the southern edge of the ring however where the stacked Soviet tank corps resists the German attempt to break through and the attack is stalled (5:1-2)=NE. The trapped forces move back East after the failed attack to gain the protection of the river bend just north of Yaroslavl and hope that the northern supply line can hold.

The maverick commander of the attack NE from Moscow is now trapped behind lines. Ignoring orders to fight his way east he turns his forces west and attacks the Soviet fort line on the East bank of the upper Volga. Aided by help from outside the forces connect with the main lines again. However his troops are spread out along an 80 mile long column hindered by slow moving artillery and infantry in the rear so only a single Panzer division crosses the river westwards.

Axis assault repulsed by Soviet armour

Axis assault repulsed by Soviet armour

AGC: All quiet. Fortification and rail conversions continue, the latter to speed the arrival of forces moving north to assist the struggling Operation Meatgrinder.

AGC: In classic Blitzkrieg style the German armour concentrates and eliminates one of the corps formations at the “bottom” of the deep pocket in the great river bend. Armour pours through the gap swinging NE to trap two more corps and SW to reach the Sea of Azov just west of Rostov thus trapping and isolating a vast swath of Soviets and the  major city of Stalino. Meanwhile further north a mixed Axis force lead by Rumanians breach the fortified/river line gaining a bridgehead north of Gorovka.

The isolated U2 fort further north falls to an automatic victory.

Breakout in the South, Stalino isolated

Breakout in the South, Stalino isolated

Air War: In the north all air activity centres on GS to bolster the desperate attempts to re-connect with the spearhead.

In the south the air war sees a more balanced mixture of activity. Some GS assists the Rumanians to break the fortified line and lone raids target some aborted aircraft on the ground with an unrepaired transport succumbing to one such mission. More rail lines are targeted but out of 10 raids only 2 succeed. Seemingly a lot of effort for such a small gain however last turn a single strategically placed un-repaired hit held up 5 or 6 tank corps transferring north so such raids continue.

Battle Report
Combats:  Automatic = 2, Diced = 8

Losses:
Soviet: Isolated = 7. Un-isolated = 55.
Fins = 3

Air Losses: Soviet 2 (on the ground – one overrun).  German = 1 (Ju88a raider).

1942 JUL I Soviet Turn

Commentary

In contrast to the many decisions to be made by the Axis commander this turn the Soviets have only one –

Do they fight to save Leningrad or
Do they start evacuating the North?

Evacuation now while most units still have full mobility would be wise and help to save the army for another day and Leningrad only contributes 3 IRPs per turn and whilst it does still have a factory this now trapped.

On the other hand the troops of the Leningrad Front are well emplaced under forts and/or good terrain along most of the area to be evacuated and are roughly at parity in terms of strength points with the German forces opposing them. Should they remain and drop to half strength the Germans would not necessarily break through at will or in too many places sufficient to initiate a rout.  In addition holding fast along this long front does tie up many German troops

However the arrival of 4x 9-7-8 Tk XXXs three of which can engage the enemy forces in the Moscow/Kalinin area decides the issue. The Soviets decide to hold firm and strike back at the German panzers.  The Soviets can still pack a punch and although they have been dealt a hefty blow they are not out of the fight yet.

STAVKA sifts through the various reports and finds weaknesses in the German dispositions where they have thrust forward with parts of the line of advance held by infantry and support troops and some by lone AT battalions.

They thus prepare their counterstroke and commit all their re-enforcements and last reserves into the battle.

The fate of Mother Russia will be decided over the next couple of months.

Turn Report

Finish Front: The line south of Murmansk falls back again and reaching superb defensive line around the lakes of the Kola Peninsula they decide to make a stand. Due to the increasingly alarming situation in the Kalinin sector the offensive into the heart of Finland is suspended. The isolated tank corps retreats back south the way it came but finds the Cavalry brigade blocking the path home. North of Ladoga the Soviets attack a lone finish infantry cade and eliminate it in a HX.

Leningrad/Moscow Front; The Soviets are not positioned to be able to clear the crucial rail-lines interdicted by German advance units so they devise an indirect approach. They launch a wave of attacks aimed at the weak points of the German advance targeting the enemy formations as close to their main line as possible to cut off as many units as possible and thus minimise the German’s capacity to counter attack. In this they are aided by 3 of the newly arrived/ upgraded 9-7-8 tank corps and many existing 6-4-8s. They also employ massed katyusha batteries. With colossal air support using every airframe which can reach the battles at standard or extended range most attacks gain at least one and some two column shifts for GS. (In one particular battle they miss a shift for the sake of 1/3 GS point, such are the fortunes of war and flak die rolls).

 

Jul I '42 - The Soviets strike back NE of Moscow

Jul I ’42 – The Soviets strike back NE of Moscow

They set up 4 attacks and lady luck for once is on their side. Every attack is successful many gaining DE results (rolling 3 sixes in a row did help).

Attack 1 – Aimed at the German infantry/artillery stack at the bridgehead NE of Moscow this attack completely eliminates 2x inf xxs and a mot art brigade. This isolates 2 other German panzers, one mot div and artillery assets which are now trapped behind the Soviet fort line and high value defensive stacks blocking the path east.

Attack 2: Targets a 13-10 panzer holding the southern ring of the doughnut shaped advance past the pair of forts on the east bank of the upper Volga astride the rail line to Yaroslavl. This is eliminated and the cadre retreats back towards the German front lines.

Attack 3: This goes in unsupplied from inside and outside the Soviet pocket with massive air support. The Soviets attack a mixed stack of a 6-10 mot div, 2-10 eng, 2-1-10 stug, and crucially the forward-most Truck. Again a DE eliminates the stack with the mot cadre falling back westwards.

Attack 4: A bypassed stack attacks out of supply against a lone 1-10 AT units holding a channel open to supply the Axis spearhead at the start of the turn. It is eliminated.

The difference this time when compared to previous such counter-attacks is that the Soviets now have sufficient mobility with the new Tank corps to exploit into the gaps created and form a very strong armoured wall. This wall cuts the Germans off from their comrades to the West and fractures the German swerpunkt into a number of cut off sections. The escape South for the panzers is barred by troops lining the river around Yaroslavl. The way East is blocked by fresh reinforcements railing from the Urals and the way North is blocked by the last reserves from Leningrad and from units pulled out of the line against the Finns.

Armoured brigades move into the lead German Panzer’s ZOC and thus establish supply as far north as Vologda.

In total the Soviets have trapped: 7 pz xx, 2 mot xx, 1 Mot x, 1 pz cadre, 1 inf xx, 11 artillery units and 8 support units but just as the Soviets continually amaze the Axis with their ability to find new reserves and firepower so the Germans amaze the Soviets with their ability to fight their way out of a difficult situation.

Time will tell who finally gains the upper hand.

Voronezh Front: Due to the emerging crisis far to the north approximately 2/3 of the Soviet attack corps/katyusha combos rail north. In this they are greatly hindered by some strategically placed rail breaks courtesy of the Luftwaffe which slows the redeployment.

Jul I '42 - Soviets call retreat in the South, awaiting the Axis next move

Jul I ’42 – Soviets call retreat in the South, awaiting the Axis next move

Consequently the Soviets call off their attack much to the annoyance of local command who were keen to inflict more losses on the aggressors.

Infantry/cavalry/AT combos fall back behind the river lines north and south of the breach and the reduced number of armoured corps move SE in the direction of Stalingrad just out of range of the bulk of German motorized assets. This forms a large inverted bulge in the line tempting the Axis to move East into it. The Soviets sit back behind their defensive wall and wait for the Axis to make the next move. 

Air War: All attacks gain massive air support except for the attack immediately NE of Moscow where massed Me fighter squadrons stationed in the city make this area a no fly zone for the VVS.

Battle Report:
Combat; Diced = 5.
Losses: Soviets = 3, German = 33 and truck;  Finns = 3
Air = 0

1942 JUL I Axis Turn

Commentary

The game reaches a critical phase as the Axis forces approach their objective to the north of Moscow.
So this turn is one of decisions.

 For the Finns – do they fall back as fast as possible to defend the capital or do they fall back slowly in the expectation that their foe will be crippled by events further south and they can resume their attempt at restoring the losses of ‘39.

 For the Germans attacking along the rail line to Vologda – Do they continue their assault East plunging out of supply to obtain their objectives or…
Do they turn inward and eliminate the bypassed forts to their rear to secure their supply lines or…
Do they turn southwards and join with the force thrusting NE from Moscow to surround the East bank fort line thus trapping yet more Soviets.

For the small force moving from Moscow – Do they try to nibble away at the East bank forts, or
Do they attempt to breakthrough to the NE.
If they succeed – Do they play safe and slowly grind forward or
Do they exploit and spread out to create maximum disruption in the Soviet rear?

For the Axis in the South – Do they attack the Soviet tankers head on in a clash of armour or
Do they try and strip away the tanker’s infantry support or…
Do they reverse direction and turn inwards to eliminate the fortified line at their rear?
Either way do they then consolidate their gains or push onwards to Rostov?

Find out below.

Turn Report

Finland and the Army of Norway: – The Murmansk force continues to push south but only manages to retreat a 3-6xx, however this is driven west of the lake system and away from the rail line.

Level heads prevail in Finland. The Fins decide to pull back one hex on the main front to shorten the line. A 3-6 German inf cadre leaguered in Tallinn for possible rebuild is given new orders and sails to Helsinki releasing the Finnish Cavalry brigade there which reaches the North bank of the rail causeway behind the Soviet Tank corp and cuts off the rail line to Leningrad. An infantry division from the main front joins a 6-6 infantry xx pulled from the defensive fort line shielding the approaches to Helsinki and together they ZOC surround the Soviet breakthrough force

Advance units reach two of the objectives of Operation Meatgrinder

Advance units reach two of the objectives of Operation Meatgrinder

AGN. The Germans north of the Valdai mass and gain another forested hex but still only have a single foothold on the Leningrad/Volodga rail line.

In a heated exchange which almost costs at least one Field Marshal his job the German Officers who favour a methodical approach with fort reduction are overruled by an agitated Fuhrer who insists that the eastward momentum must be maintained at all costs. So the panzers drive East in two parallel columns. Both attacks succeed and advance units occupy the river bend adjacent to Ivanovo and 30 miles north. A lone 16-10 pz detaches from the rest and occupies the vital wooded rail junction at point 2107.

The Fuhrer is vindicated as Leningrad/Archangelsk and the North are cut off from the rest of Russia.

The drive NE from Moscow continues at a more cautious pace.  A 6-4-8 is reduced to cadre and retreats into an empty fort behind. This however is a costly victory for the attackers because a 10-10 pz is cadred in the HX. The relief of the Soviet remnant is short lived however as the cadre is overrun in the exploitation phase.  Caution prevails however and the Germans halt and pursue no further content that their advance places another fort out of supply and closes the gap to the main line of advance to 16 miles.

AGC: Fortification continues along this quiet sector.

Axis forces consolidate in the South

Axis forces consolidate in the South

AGS: Contrary to action in the North the Axis forces here turn inwards and eliminate the by-passed fort line. All but one of the forts are annihilated by a combination of massed infantry and artillery over the river and attacks from the Soviet’s rear by the mobile units. Most fall to automatic surrounded attacks. The Axis forces here are strengthened by the Rumanians from Odessa who can now fully engage in the attack. Territorial gains are limited to a penetration of some 80 miles but the attack as desired has drawn of at least 50% of Soviet armour and eliminated the fortified line over a 180 mile frontage. In exploitation the Axis consolidate and form double stacks of divisions which should prove immunity to any Soviet counter thrusts.

It is up to the Bolsheviks to make the next move.

Air War: Some attacks are aided by GS particularly in the north. Soviet rail lines in the south are targeted with some success to try to prevent the Soviets rapidly re-deploying their armour assets from the South to the North.

Battle Report: (I have decided to include air losses from now on)
Combats: Over-runs = 5,   Automatic = 7,   Diced = 3
Losses: Soviets Un-isolated = 117, Forts = 8, Aircraft = 2
German = 8, Luftwaffe = 1

1942 JUN II Soviet Turn

Commentary

The game has reached a critical phase where the Soviets have now committed 95% of their armoured reserves with a view to stopping or indeed eliminating the Axis mobile formations and restoring their fortified line which they can then use to launch their own attack in due course.

In Finland they plan a bold counter attack to remove the threat from the Leningrad/Murmansk rail line.

On the main front in the North they are forced onto the defensive and against military good practice but arising out of military necessity they are forced to commit their reserves to passively hold the line and only mount one attack – against the bridgehead over the Volga River south of the Leningrad/Vologda rail line. The penetration to the north of the rails due to terrain and Soviet dispositions is unable to be engaged and the double stacked Panzers pushing NE from Moscow are too strong to touch on the narrow frontage. Soviet reserves therefore mount the one attack in the south and move to blocking positions encircling the attackers and restricting their ability to mass and manoeuvre – but will this be enough?

It is a completely different storey in the south where the panzers are deployed in open terrain with 3 points of penetration of an extended fort line. Covering half the frontage with cavalry/AT stacks and massing elsewhere the Soviets line up 5 attacks on infantry, panzer, mech divisions and the Hungarian 1st armour. Complete success will isolate the Axis speared and fragment it into 4 segments. Complete failure will leave the panzers intact and the Soviets exposed to devastating counter attack – both sides hold their breath as the die is, quite literally, cast.

Turn Report

Partisans: 3 rail breaks achieved.

Finish Front: The sporadic attacks in the centre continue and claim a Finnish 1-6* regiment.

In order to ease pressure off the main Leningrad/Murmansk line the soviets launch a scratch attack directly north from Leningrad across the old Mannerheim line. Troops stationed there who have seen no action since hostilities began move to attack the equally quiescent Finnish defenders catching them completely by surprise. The attackers are bolstered by some replacement divisions from the city and one of the reserve mech Corp moved from its defensive position south of the city. (The second reserve corps moves to Leningrad central where it can move south on the rail radials to any threatened point should the Axis try a surprise attack themselves.)  Two Finnish divisions are attacked. One is cadred and pinned against the lakes to the north. The other, surrounded is eliminated. Exploiting mech units reach the rail junction at point 4602 splitting open the entire Finish front. In support of this offensive the tank corps pushing north along the shores of Lake Ladoga renews its efforts and cadres a third division. As the Finish commander of the tank regiment feared when 9th Pz withdrew his unit is also swamped by the Soviet attackers and is forced backwards but with no path open surrenders.

1942 JUN II Soviet Turn: Battles in the North

1942 JUN II Soviet Turn: Battles in the North

Leningrad Front: All units less those sent north to attack the Finns are fed into the defence of the Leningrad/Valodga rail line but can only move as far as the German block 80km east of Tikhivin where the easternmost infiltrates East around the panzers.

Moscow Front: The Soviets look at their options and reluctantly conclude that the German armour is just too strong to attack directly. They therefore launch a single attack against the infantry bridgehead over the river and retake the hex cadering an 8-6 infantry xx and sealing the southern breach. However they are out of position and cannot do the same north of the rail line. The tank corps therefore move into the line clamping the panzers tight to the back of the surrounded units (who will be supplied next check). The VVS provides copious amounts of DAS in the hope that the air cover will be sufficient to preserve their armour from German attack in turn. They do manage to strengthen the breach immediately NE of Moscow with some infantry/AT combinations and move engineers into position to rebuild the fort line. As per doctrine they maintain the former front line forts which now penetrate into the German lines like a hooked finger.

1942 JUN II Soviet Turn: Moscow Front

1942 JUN II Soviet Turn: Moscow Front

Voronezh Front: This front sees no action but the pitifully thin reserves are thinned further in response to the German breakthrough in the north.

Rostov Front:  The counter-attack is executed. Tank corps move into attack positions and execute a total of 5 attacks up and down the line of German exploiting units. Where the attacks are not made Cavalry/AT combos move from behind the river Don and form a new line tight against the panzers ring

The attacks do cause damage to the invaders cadering a 7-6 infantry division, an 11-10 panzer, and completely eliminating the Hungarian tank division. (Together with a number of support units).

In particular the southern breach of the fort line is resealed eliminating a 6-8 light division and its support.

Unfortunately the attack against an SS Mech corps aimed to isolate a German truck unit fails and although the entire Axis line is pocketed the truck unit can supply all but the southernmost three panzers.

In the Exploitation phase the Soviets use minimal infiltration to isolate the Axis line and re-supply the forts and bypassed infantry stacks. Attacking stacks redeploy to a defensive posture under cover of DAS and await the German riposte.

1942 JUN II Soviet Turn: Battles in the South

1942 JUN II Soviet Turn: Battles in the South

Battle Report:
Combats:  Auto = 1. Diced = 10

Losses:
Germans = 34;  Finns = 16;  Hungarians = 7
Soviets = 11

1942 JUN II Axis Turn

Weather: Clear across all weather zones. (Automatic)

Finland and Army of Norway: All quiet north of the main Finish drive. 15 supply REs delivered to Murmansk.

The impertinent Soviet motorised division which placed the Finish attackers out of supply is eliminated but the main drive stalls against stiffening Soviet opposition as an attack to eliminate a small bulge fails (NE). 9th pz moves west to protect the flanks against the Soviet Tank Corps positioned to move northwest along the limited rail line skirting Lake Ladoga. The local Finnish commander opposes this move fearing his spearhead will be too weak to resist a Soviet counter attack.

AGN: The remnants of the Soviet attack towards Tallinn are mopped up and the diverted mechanised/tank units start to move East in the exploitation phase.

A Soviet error north of the Valdai brings unexpected dividends. Panzers destined for the main Eastwards attack are diverted north on news from aerial reconnaissance that a lone AT unit forms the second line behind a stack in wooded terrain. A full Corps attack is launched which eliminates the defenders and exploiting units overrun the AT unit and take up a blocking position on the Leningrad/Vologda rail line approximately 80 miles East of Tikhivin. Leningrad’s supply line now must route through Archangelsk and passes within18 miles of advancing Finish forces.

The Situation in the North: The Axis exploit gaps in the Soviet line.

The Situation in the North: The Axis exploit gaps in the Soviet line.

North East of Moscow the single Panzer corps advance is halted by a wall of Soviet tank corps so the Germans simply clear two hexes of non-fortified units between this wall and the fortified line which it has hooked behind.

With the west bank effectively cleared, mobile assets from south of Leningrad arrived and much of the Soviet armour committed in the south the three prerequisites for Operation Meatgrinder are met.

The operation is launched with simultaneous attacks over the river north and south of the Leningrad/Vologda rail line. Tough fighting at the river crossing in the south cadres a 10-10 panzer in a HX but in the north the defenders are pushed back without loss and scatter allowing an exploitation overrun to link with units moving north trapping two entire Tank corps, supporting troops and rockets against the river.

AGC: The last remnant of 1st Shock is eliminated and engineers move into position to begin fortifying the line.

AGS: The breaches in the Soviet line are developed with a total of 10 attacks widening the breaches and eliminating surrounded defenders. A second penetration of the line is achieved 30 miles north of Gorlovka and the pincers meet trapping a total of 13 divisions and 10 regiments. Notable resistance is offered from a NKVD division, security battalion and guards regiment who stand firm in their fortified position despite the forces arrayed against them (NE @ 4:1-1). The exploiting units however do not attempt to gain significant territory cowed by the large array of Soviet armour behind the upper Don. The panzer leaders halt in line abreast and brace themselves for the Soviet repost.

Jun II '42 Axis Turn: Disaster befalls the Southern Front

Jun II ’42 Axis Turn: Disaster befalls the Southern Front

Air War:  A number of ground attacks are given significant GS to obtain sufficient odds to attack the fortified line limiting other activity. Some raids are made against rail lines with limited effect however in one notable encounter south east of Leningrad a He111H and escorting ME110E eliminate a P40E and two Hurricane 2 interceptors for no loss. Elsewhere however the Luftwaffe suffers a loss of 3 aircraft in a battle which claims another 2 Soviet machines.

Combat Report

Attacks:
Diced = 15. Auto = 7
Losses:
Soviet Un-isolated = 93 plus 1x RF, Isolated = 13,  Overuns = 9.
German = 6 (Cadred Pz xx)

1942 JUN I Soviet Turn

STAVKA issues orders for mobile formations to move into position following reports of Axis breakthroughs of the fortified defence line north of Valuylki and NE of Moscow. 

In accordance with agreed protocols all fortifications are to be defended to the last man. Any breaches are to be sealed with Infantry/Cavalry backed up by AT gun brigades. Where possible local counter attacks are to restore the line. These actions aim to stop the breakthroughs or at the least provide sufficient time to allow the armoured reserves to assemble within striking distance of the breakthrough points and concentrate for armoured counter attack. The aim is not merely to check the Axis advance elements but to ensure their complete destruction.

It appears clear that the line between Moscow down to Voronezh is to be unmolested so armoured reserves divide at the Tula latitude moving North and South into position ready for the clash of steel.

Partisans obtain  2 Rail hits.  Rostov Factory preps for transfer.

Finland Front:  Troops facing Murmansk fall back to maintain the line. In Central Finland two separate attacks eliminate a Finish Bdr unit and German ski battalion but the real action occurs in the south on the north shores of Lake Ladoga. Here a Soviet tank division and two front line infantry divisions with massed air support attack and cadre the 5-6 German infantry division guarding the secondary rail line. A lone exploit capable 3-8 xx NKVD Mot unit exploits to the rail junction at 5027 completely cutting off the spearhead of the Finish assault army including the 9th Pz xx. Unfortunately 5 long range bombers all fail to inflict a single rail hit so this unit will be exposed for counter attack. However it is hoped this action will be sufficient to buy some time and prevent the Axis cutting the vital N/S rail line.

Soviets surprise breakthrough North of Lake Ladoga

Soviets surprise breakthrough North of Lake Ladoga

Leningrad Front. The Narva expeditionary force returns to the Soviet lines less two stragglers caught by the German advance and terrain.

Further east along the E/W rail line between Leningrad to Vologda troops are rushed into position to strengthen the line protecting this rail line in the swampy forests north of the German advance.

Moscow Front: Armoured corps move north from their reserve positions around Tula and ready themselves Yaroslavl where German armour has pressed forward. The remainder hold back to await developments.

Voronezh Front: Other than facilitating armoured reserves moving north and south this Front sees no action. The single remaining Assault unit is given full DAS as it extracts itself from German ZOCs and moves eastwards to Voronezh.

Rostov Front:  The defensive plan swings into action.

  1. a) Counter attack where possible: Local units mount a counter attack on the German advance into Makeyevka and after 2 weeks of fierce hand to hand combat in the rubble push the mixed Axis units out of the city and retake it inflicting a high cost on the defenders.
  2. b) Seal the breaches: The failed breakthrough south of Valuylki is sealed by cavalry/infantry and AT units.  Engineers are moved into position and Res Pts positioned to build fortifications next turn.
  3. c) Delay any advance: The northern breach is too large for either counter attack or complete sealing so alternate stacks of Inf/cav/AT are placed at the leading edge of the Axis advance to slow progress. Elsewhere along the sides of the breach units infiltrate the gaps to further impede any forward momentum of the aggressors.
  4. d) Prepare to Counter Attack.  Stacks of armoured assault units move from their reserve positions  to form a solid wall along the north shores of the upper Don and intermittently across the bend of the river in a line running NE through Molorovo.  A total of no less than 8 stacks comprising 9 tank corps 3 mech/mot divisions and countless tank brigades and artillery/katyusha units thus form an arch around the breach within striking distance.
Soviet Turn: The Southern Front moves to contain the Axis assault

Soviet Turn: The Southern Front moves to contain the Axis assault

Air War. The vast majority of Soviet air is devoted to DAS this turn except the failed rail attacks in Finland and equally ineffective raids south of Leningrad along the Moscow road. An air base raid on Kaluga out of Tula also fails to achieve any hits

Combat Report:
Combats:  Diced = 4
Losses Finns = 1, Germans = 8,  Rumanians = 6,  Croatians = 2,  Italians = 4
Soviets = 0

1942 JUN I Axis Turn

Weather: Clear across all weather zones.

As the Axis Summer 1942 offensive is launched the normal commentary will be suspended in lieu of a detailed description of the opening moves across all fronts which is likely to set the pace and form for the upcoming campaigning season.

Finland & Army of Norway. At Murmansk the Germans have 4 mountain divisions forming a line 2 hexes south of Murmansk and extending SW. They are supported by a few ski battalions, the ski rocket battalion and two supported regiments. Nord is present and was to be withdrawn to Norway for upgrade to the 7-8 mtn XX but has been put back in the line to achieve breakthrough odds for this turn’s attack south which with Luftwaffe support from 3x HE11Hs provides sufficient GSs for a 7:2 (-1) attack eliminating a Soviet Naval regiment and pushing another hex south down the main rail line. (Due to last turn’s transport of a Panzer division to south Finland only 5 REs of supply are available at Murmansk limiting attack strength. With less capacity used to transport the mountain division this turn 10 REs of Supply are delivered to Murmansk for use next Initial phase.)

In the centre a reinforcement 6-8 mountain division is shipped from German off map ports and lands at Kemi and moves by rail over the recently rebuilt line via Salla to the front. It joins a Finish 3-6* regiment and 1-8 ski battalion and expends the Res pt shipped with it to eliminate a defending 2-6* inf Regiment/1-8 ski battalion. The Finish 3-6* is lost in the 4:1 (-2) exchange.

North of Lake Ladoga the 9th Pz XX (16-10) joins the Finish armour regiment, artillery, infantry and GS to attack a stack of a 4-6 xx with 3-2-8 tank regiment at 4:1 AA fire against the two DAS  Il4s is ineffective.

AGN: South of Leningrad The Axis forces resist the temptation to pursue the retreating Soviets which in any event have reached the safety of their pre winter offensive fortified line. Instead the panzers and motorized units elect to eliminate the now isolated U2 spearhead left over from the Soviet Winter Offensive. The two Soviet stacks are organized to give the larger maximum defensive capability which halved still amounts to a total of 12.5 points. The smaller stack totalling 2.5 after halving is overrun by the German motorized attackers. Infantry and support units form a defensive line offset south from the Soviets by two-three hexes taking advantage of the flanking forests and swamps. Learning the lessons from last winter all open hexes are to be fortified. Gaps in the infantry wall and attacking main motorised stack are filled with support troops so that the cadres of the two surrounded Guards Infantry and Cavalry cannot retreat ensuring the elimination of the stack automatically at 3:1(+3). In the exploitation phase all the motorized elements begin the move to their jump-off points NW of Kalinin.

The Soviet thrust to Tallinn cannot be ignored and infantry peel off from the Western flanks around Pskov and move north to engage the Soviet 2 division screen just north of the river at Tartu. The deep penetration of the Soviets offers too tempting a target and the possibility of trapping a number of divisions and tank regiments is such that a newly arriving Panzer and Mech Inf division are diverted north. They are forced to de-train 100 miles south of Tartu due to Soviet rail bombing preventing them engaging this turn. The infantry attacks a 3-6xx defender at 5:1 and eliminates it advancing past a defending 4-6 winterized xx which is surrounded by the mobile units in the exploitation phase.

North of the Valdai Soviet defenders including guards infantry divisions moving SE from Leningrad are too strong for the German s to engage so infantry with some artillery support and the lone 6-10 motorized xx which has been attached to this corps since the start of autumn probe northeast.  Attacks against two weaker stacks result in a DR and NE gaining a modest single hex advance.

NE of Kalinin the western bank of the river is cleared except for a single stack of units which is surrounded. (Comprising a 5-6 (w) inf xx, 2-6* inf x, 2-1-6 tk x in woods with 4 points DAS).

The attacks are executed with a view to minimising losses, for while it is accepted that losses will be needed to breach the main line the army is still a long way off recovering from the winter losses and needs to conserve units for the main assault.

West bank cleared and breakout from Moscow

West bank cleared and breakout from Moscow.

In a classic pincer assault a 4-6xx/1-2-8 AT stack suffers a DR with the AT unit being pursued to the river by advancing armour and infantry.. North of the by passed stack a second attack guarantees an advance at 7:1 which eliminates the opposition. A 4-6xx south of the breach is surrounded as a result and succumbs to a guaranteed elimination. In the exploitation phase armour advances sweep along the river bank behind the enemy force securing their isolation and eventual destruction. The hole created north of the island of resistance exposes a weakness in the soviet defence as exploiting armour crosses the swampy river system eastwards. Further north still a 6-10 motorised unit is ordered to halt its advance west of the river for fear of a counter attack from strong Soviet forces operating in the area to the north,

NE of Moscow: The armoured stack forming the bridgehead over the Volga canal attacks the displaced units from the fortified line and obtains a DH. The surviving defenders retreat but a lone 3-8 Cav xx is overrun in the exploitation phase. German forces limit themselves to a single hex advance for fear of overextending the advance before the main assault over the river is made. (This premature assault may prove unwise as it has alerted the Soviets to the threat and because no advance is yet made over the canal the defending fort line may be evacuated before the trap can be closed.)

AGC: At the northern end of this sector the Germans pull back behind the short river NW of Tula and form a “Hedgehog” line of alternating infantry divisions east of Orel down to Kursk. Engineers are moved into place with a view to fortifying this sector where no assaults are planned. Rail road engineers will be tasked to complete a cross rail system here to tie up the various rail heads and facilitate rapid north/south troop transfers, if needed, next winter. 

In the southern sector an infantry assault surrounds and eliminates a stack of stragglers from the 1st Shock Army.  They are then ordered to solidify the line and take and defend the important rail junction at point 0318.

AGS: The secondary diversionary assault “Operation Fishhook” springs into action. The initial breakthrough is conceived as two mixed armoured/infantry assaults with more armour as a second echelon. The aim is to disrupt the fort line in two double hex assaults 30 miles apart and encircle the defending enemy troops occupying the fort line and secondary line between the breakthrough points widening the breach to 6 hexes. The fortunes of war are such that a retreating stack from the Soviet 1st Shock positions itself in front of the planned assault hex diverting some assets to ensure its elimination and forcing the northern attack south by one hex. The northern prong nevertheless attacks on a two hex front both at 4:1 (-1). One attack eliminates the defenders the other obtains a DH.

JUN I 1942 Axis Turn: Operation Fishhook

JUN I 42: Operation Fishhook kicks off

Panzers and motorised divisions with support overrun the survivors in the exploitation phase plus a second formation caught at part mobilisation behind the lines (2-6* inf and 2-1-8 tk X). The attackers form a small fan of units hooking south.

The southern prong meets heavy resistance but after a week of intense assault manages to winkle the defenders out of the fortified defensive lines and enters the reference city of Valuylki. Defenders however retreat in good order and form up alongside second line units in an overrun proof wall preventing any exploitation.

Aiming to replicate the success in delaying the retreat of 1st Shock the front line south to the sea moves adjacent to the Soviet fortified line to prevent the defenders easily shifting troops.  To further engage the defenders a primarily infantry assault lead by SS motorised division LASSAH and massed rail gun support takes the dot city of Makeyevka immediately adjacent to Stalino. In all in this sector 4 forts are eliminated and two cities taken.

JUN I 1942 Axis Turn: Breakout in Exploitation phase

JUN I 1942 Axis Turn: Breakout in Exploitation phase

11th Army and Odessa: The Rumanians at Odessa move by administrative movement overland to preserve rail capacity for the use of Res Pts, rail guns and reinforcements

Rail engineers continue to convert lines into the Crimea to ensure the peninsular can be supplied next winter and engineers are positioned to fortify the narrow isthmus 50 miles west of Kerch.

Administratively 11th Army is placed under the command of AGS.

Air War:
A number of missions are undertaken to disrupt the Leningrad to Vologda railroad but only a single hit is achieved.Similar widespread attacks against the trail net behind the southern attack is more successful with two hits adding to existing damage limiting rail access to the assault zone.

The air space over Moscow is very hotly contested with both sides having large and roughly equal number of fighters. The Luftwaffe has to date got the better of the soviets in all  major engagements but the Soviet presence is sufficient to deter any lone bombing runs and only large set piece engagements are attempted.

One such is this turn where a medium sized battle forms NE of Moscow. German dive and level bombers with escorts attack a damaged River Flotilla bolstering the river defence line.

6 Lagg 3s, 3 Mig3s and a single I-16 intercept the formation of bombers which is escorted by a mixture of 8 ME1909 Es and Gs. The Laggs and I-16 engage the screen while the Migs attempt to bypass and head for the bomber stream. The one unengaged ME109 returns one of the Migs trying to slip past the screen but the others Return two of the bombers. The Interceptors eliminate two of the Laggs who fail to cause any damage but the plucky I-16 aborts a Messerschmitt and lives to tell the tale.

All the bombers avoid the RF’s AA fire and obtain 2 hits more than enough to sink the shipping. Overall the mission is designated a success and contributes to the elimination of the defenders in the ensuing assault..

Battle Report
Combats:  Diced = 16, Auto elim = 2, Overruns = 4.’
Losses:  Soviet; Isolated = 37.   Un-isolated =  72 plus 1xRF
Finnish = 3

1942 MAY II Soviet Turn

“Take the baby! Please! Take my little ditya!” the mother screams to the naval orderly. Reluctantly he agrees. “Ok! Quickly!”  Just then a shell lands close by sending a spray of water over sailor, mother, baby and the large rowboat already overladen with waiting, screaming and weeping  civilians and military alike. “Leave it”! Shouts one “We can’t wait, let’s get going all we’ll all die!“. “Thr ow him to me!” shouts the sailor as the boat starts to move off.

Out of sheer desperation the mother flings the wriggling, wailing bundle the last few feet as the boat is pushed off from its moorings. More shells land one just missing the boat which rocks and takes on some water. Furiously many hands start bailing and the lumbering boat inchers away from the wharf and slowly moves to the waiting destroyer in the bay. The mother turns, her job done, and runs for the cover of a nearby shop front long denuded of glass or produce. As she does so a cry goes up from the others crowding on the embankment. The Rumanians are coming! Run!!. Some jump, fall or are pushed into the rough seas of the bay and some hide behind what cover they can find but most flee inwards towards the mother’s hiding place and others like it. Seconds later solders burst from a side street shooting at the few remaining naval troops along the embankment. They return fire. Anyone, military or civilian, unlucky enough to be still standing in the open is cut down in the exchange. More shells explode in and around the wharf. From the relative safety of the shop front the mother sees the boat containing its precious cargo reach the larger ship which is already at full steam ready to depart. Just then a screech from above heralds the arrival of enemy aircraft and bombs fall adding to the carnage. Thankfully most drop wide of their mark and the destroyer is untouched. The last image burned into the mother’s eyes is that of a small bundle being thrown to waiting arms aboard the big ship and it turning out to sea. She drops her head and mutters a secret prayer for the safety of her little one.

Odessa has fallen.

Finish Front: In the centre the impudent German Ski unit which caused the loss of the rail gun has the favour returned.

In the south the failure of the Finish attack is taken as a reprieve and defences strengthened.

'42 May II: Frontlines in the Arctic before the Axis summer offensive

’42 May II: Frontlines in the Arctic before the Axis summer offensive

Leningrad Front: The attempt to liberate the spearhead is abandoned and troops fall back to the pre-winter fort line.  The spearhead forces themselves however are not content to go without a fight and attack a second line infantry division but can only retreat the defender.

The assault out of Narva continues towards Tallinn against a security division which the Germans had thrown into the line but air cover out of Riga allows this unit to retreat without loss.

North of the Valdai there are signs that the rout is slowing as fresh troops move into the area solidifying the defences.

'42 May II: Soviet breakout attempt south of Leningrad

’42 May II: Soviet breakout attempt south of Leningrad

Moscow Front:  The German bridgehead is contained but no attempt is made to counter attack it.  The west bank of the upper Volga begins to be evacuated.

Voronezh Front: Most of the 1st Shock Army is now back to the fortified line. Some stragglers remain and are given DAS to cover their retreat but hopes for their survival are low.

Rostov Front (AKA Crimea & Odessa).  With the fall of Odessa the Black Sea fleet and remaining air transports are withdrawn. The ground troops on this front continue to prepare their defence and await the Axis next move with bated breath.

'42 May II: Rostov awaits the Axis assault

’42 May II: Rostov awaits the Axis assault

Partisans: Get a special mention this turn for a series of raids across the occupied territories resulting in  a total of 5 rail breaks.

Air War: A few raids are made to disrupt Axis rail connections around their jump off points but most success is made in Estonia, breaking the rail line to Tallinn in two places to hinder any Axis counter strike against the Narva operation.

Battle Report:
Diced Attacks = 2;
Auto Attacks = 1
Losses;   German = 1

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