Europa Games and Military History

Tag: Scorched Earth (Page 1 of 9)

1943 SEP I Soviet Turn

Turn Report

Partisans: Partisan activity is low this turn with only two rail breaks.

Finnish Front. Soviet forces from Murmansk move NW to set up an attack on Petsamo. In the Western edge of the line reinforcements arrive with attack supplies and prepare to fight towards Kautokeino.

Leningrad Front: The Soviets consider how best to break out the two 11-8 Mech units Isolated 50 miles north of Vitebsk. The Axis have placed an armoured ring around the trapped units and even if they could stage a breakout there is nowhere to go to link up with the main line.

The only other option is a frontal assault against the 18-10/16-10 Panzer XXs barring the way back to the Soviet front line.  The Soviets are conscious that this will take all their forces and air power but calculate that a total commitment will produce a viable attack. They allocate all their forces and local air power to the task. German Patrols, Interception and Flak whittle away the air cover but with just one point spare enough survives for the attack to proceed. It does with a HX as the result. A great outcome for the Soviets who cadre two full strength Panzer Divisions for the loss of a 9-7-8 tk xxx reduced to cadre and some rocket/artillery regiments/brigades. The 11-8s move back to the main line. Although successful the Axis have checked the Soviet advance to Vitebsk which is being reinforced daily with fresh troops. (A parallel attack does unseat a fortified defender and infantry advance along the north bank of the Dvina.)

The Soviets launch an attack against the North bank Fort in front of Riga but the 5-7-6 defender stands firm.

Veliki Luki is assaulted by powerful infantry/Artillery forces and another fort falls.

The VL/Valdai rail line is breached again with a weak probe south to the East of V.L.

Kalinin Sector: Kalinin is bypassed and surrounded as forces try to reach the second fort line. For the most part here and south to Kaluga Axis rear-guards prevent any significant pressure being brought to bear against the secondary fort line.

Moscow Front: A small breakthrough is made south of Kaluga and a number of penetrations of the Axis line south of here. One defensive position which has withstood repeated attacks finally falls and the river bend directly East of Bryansk is crossed. The Soviets however fail to eliminate a 6-10 mot xx/SS Regiment combination which retreats to safety.

A narrow front attack in the Kursk area retreats the defenders and a tank Regiment advances to clear the fort. However on hearing reports of powerful enemy tank forces in the area it withdraws in exploitation.

Voronezh Area: Realising that they have led themselves down a strategic dead end the Soviet tank and mech corps from the Voronezh battle transit back through friendly lines to reposition themselves for a push directly on Bryansk. This move takes them close to a 16-10 Panzer unit holding a return frontage of the Axis line as it transits from an E-W to a N-S orientation to the West of Voronezh. In early morning fog a confused meeting engagement occurs with 5 Tank and Mech Corps engaging the Panzers. When the fog clears the bulk of the Panzer division lies shattered on the steppe with a remnant withdrawing SW.  In exploitation the Soviet Tanks continue on to prepare for a major assault next turn.

Voronezh itself in besieged and the Soviets press on West puncturing the mainly German line in three places.

The Soviets cross the Don in Force

The Soviets cross the Don in Force

Stalingrad Front. In the bend of the Don the Soviets smell blood and except for a small force guarding the rail crossing at Stalingrad abandon to a man the fortified position they have held for over a year They charge over the river and catch up with the fleeing Rumanian Army before it can reach the safety of the Donets river. In the south the Rumanians acquit themselves admirably repulsing the attackers on three separate occasions but it is a different story at the north of the line where 50 miles of front ceases to exist. Only the complete absence of any exploitation capability in the Russian Stalingrad Front Army prevents a complete disaster.

(Ed Note: it seems that in their haste to leave their foxholes the Soviets have displaced some of their forts eastwards. All Soviet forts along the wide part of The Don are adjacent to it except the two running E/W at Stalingrad.)

Air Combat: As reported above most of the Medium range aircraft in the Leningrad front assist the breakout of the surrounded mech corps.

In the Kaluga sector to support the intrusions in the Axis line and in an effort to limit German Panzer mobility a large Harassment raid is launched with 13 hits spread over 8 hexes. Elsewhere 3 DAS missions are made supporting the T code aircraft and the Long Range Bomber (LRB) force achieves 5 rail hits mostly in the North to try to isolate the Vitebsk area from the remaining rail net.

Combat Report

With the opening of the Stalingrad Front a record 32 attacks are made this turn.

Losses: Soviets: = 29, Air = 2

Axis; German Isolated = 6, Un-isolated = 87, Pos AA = 1, Air = 5

Rumanian = 18, Slovakian = 4, Eastern = 3

Total Axis = 118

Loss Ratio Sept I 1943 Axis/Sov = 118/81 = 1.46

1943 SEP I Axis Turn

Weather – Rain/Mud in A. The remainder still Clear.

Turn Report

Down but not out: The Axis side has suffered a massive blow. Last turn saw record losses of over 150 points and this initial Phase sees the surrender of Italy which loses them a further 40 points worth of units. But if the Soviets think this will in any way beat the Axis into submission, they are very much mistaken. This turn the Axis strike back with 9 attacks. They isolate 2 Soviet Mech Corps and raids over the Dvina near Riga eliminate/cadre two Guards infantry. Despite this show of bravado large sections of the Front are in full retreat and 18 forts are abandoned in the movement phase.

Army of Norway: Little action here. There is an argument for pulling the line right back to the Swedish border region compared to the current dispositions spread out along the Norwegian/Finish border with units split both sides of the large lake. But the Soviets are not in a position to menace the line at all and troop levels are quite low. Nevertheless, a contraction could release perhaps 3 divisions for the main front and the exact strategy is under review. (answers on a postcard please!)

AGN: The Axis pull the battered remnant of 2DR back towards the Dvina providing cover by moving forward some previously retreated units and hold 2 hexes north of the river held by Panzers and their remnants plus the bold 5-7-6 infantry which provided valuable flank support.

The bulk of the Panzer forces look to eliminate the forward stack of two 11-8 Mech Corp 50 miles north of Vitebsk but cannot amass enough strength for a direct assault. Instead they attack the hex linking the enemy spearhead to the main front. Lady luck is absent and the 6:1 (-1) attack only manages to retreat the defenders. The German attackers now face a dilemma; should they advance and with what force? In the end they decide that the prize of two Mech Corps is too good to miss and both a 16-10 and 18-10 pz xx advance. The Axis reason that 34 points of pure armour will be too tough for the Soviets – will they be correct?

Counterattacks still happen, but the reserves are dwindling fast

Counterattacks still happen, but the reserves are dwindling fast

On the Veliki-Luki/Valdai rail line a weak Soviet advance is eliminated but this only staves off the inevitable as the line is constantly being punctured.

From Kalinin to Moscow the retreat continues with stay-behind units providing a screen Kalinin is all but abandoned with a lone 8-6 denying Soviet entry and helping to break the tide of the advance.

AGC; South of Moscow another counter strike checks the Soviet advance with 3 adjacent hexes being attacked. The subsequent advance re-captures Kaluga.

In Orel Kursk AA fire drives off a T code DAS securing a +3 DRM for the attackers and carrying the day with an elimination.

Along the Kursk/Voronezh line the Soviets fall back in good order (DR).

AGS: The loss of the Italian forces confirms to the Axis if any such confirmation were needed that it is time to “bug out”. The retreat here across the featureless plains in the Don river bend is a far more ordered event than it has been in the north where terrain breaks up the withdrawal.

In the south the whole, mainly Rumanian, line moves back and maintains cohesion. The right flank is anchored at the confluence of the Don and Donets and runs north in an arc mirroring the river until it picks up the few remaining forts lining the upper Don south of the main Soviet drive at Voronezh.

Air Combat: Not too much to report but the Axis lose their T code aircraft (the HS 123 A) to interception.

Combat Report

Attacks = 9
Losses; Axis;   German Air = 1.
Soviets = 52.

1943 AUG II Soviet Turn

Moscow Liberated! Moscow is now entirely back in Russian hands. Pressure north and south with the threat of a third direct assault “persuaded” the Germans to withdraw their main forces and the city fell easily to the assault. Elsewhere the Russian Steamroller ploughs on eliminating a massive 151 points of Axis units this turn.  These losses are not sustainable, but time is running out this year for any dramatic Soviet link up at Smolensk as the advance falls far behind schedule. This is particularly true in the south where a lack of Strategic focus has lead them down a cul-de-sac at Voronezh.

Turn Report

Partisans: Partisan activity peaks and 8 hits are achieved against rail lines.

Finnish front. At Murmansk the Soviets assault the city where the single mtn cadre folds without resistance.

Leningrad Front: In Latvia the disposition of the retreating Panzer Corps centred around 2 DR presents the Soviets something of a dilemma. They do not seek an armoured fight but the deposition of the defenders and difficult terrain would mean an entire turn out of action to circumnavigate the force to the north. On the other hand trying to slip between 2DR and the Dvina to the south would invite counterattack. They therefore decide that if they cannot go around they will go through and 3 corps with artillery and rocket support attack the powerful Panzer division in a head on assault. A DH cadres the unit. Others attack and eliminate the adjacent infantry cadres.

In the Veliki Luki sector the full force of massed infantry and artillery smash the outer fort line and an infantry division/6-8 panzer cadre are totally eliminated with another 7-6 inf xx cadred.

Vitebsk menaced. The lead Soviet Mech/Armour funnelled between the Dvina and the Veliki Luki fort complex attacks south eliminating the opposition and advancing to within 30 miles of Vitebsk. This offers masses of options in the exploitation phase such as overrunning engineers, security units, swinging West to threaten an encirclement of Veliki Luki or a tight curve trapping an 16-10/18-10 panzer group. In the end however mindful of last turn’s disaster at Voronezh they opt for the safer option of a one hex advance to hold the ground (although a security unit outside Vitebsk is overrun before the forces return to the conservative endpoint.)

The Soviets advance to the gates of Vitebsk

The Soviets advance to the gates of Vitebsk

In the VL-Valdai sector a small advance is made over the rail line hindering east/west movements.  North of Kalinin the Soviets pursue the retreating units achieving a DH against an 8-6 caught in the open.

Moscow Front. The evacuation of the Panzer element of the Moscow defence allows the city to fall easily to the third assault and church bells are allowed to be rung in the city to mark this special occasion. Not only is this the former capital it is the first Major City to be won back from the invader. Immediately to the south 3 x 4-5 divisions are eliminated in separate attacks.

The constant pounding of the Moscow/Orel sector of the line is beginning to bear fruit as more and more defending hexes comprise cadres, reserves or low quality local Eastern draftees. The Axis however are not the only ones to suffer manpower shortages and the high number of exchanges and constant armoured counter attacks have thinned the Soviet ranks with the result that they often cannot advance in a single hex thrust with sufficient force to withstand a German riposte. 2x 5-7-6 inf xxs are cadred from direct assault.

Kursk Sector . Kursk is liberated!

Voronezh Sector. The Soviets decide not to attempt an encirclement of the German attackers but attack and cadre a 11-10 xx Pg before withdrawing east passing through the large infantry force moving west.

Stalingrad Front: In the tip of the Don a 3-6 Rum inf xx is eliminated as it tries to slip away to the fort line. South of the river the toe hold the Axis maintained to facilitate any future operations to the Caucuses is reduced by one hex exchanging against a 4-6 Rum inf xx.

Air Combat: 3 attacks are aided by GS and air battles develop over two of these but in both cases the intruders maintain sufficient support to achieve their goals.

The Soviets mount two large Harassment raids one over the panzer thrust to Voronezh, attempting to hinder re-deployment of the German panzers, and another west of Kalinin designed to prevent units reaching the prepared fort line further west.

One new feature over the battlefield is the arrival of the Tank Busting Code T fighters. These really are valuable assets adding 3 REs of ATEC to a stack. The Soviets make sure these units are escorted by at least 3 other fighters (more in an area of multiple German airbases) to ensure they are protected.

The Long Range bomber force is boosted by the transfer south of the squadrons which had been supporting Arctic Operations. Not accustomed to facing significant fighter opposition and certainly not the indominable FW190 three of the four transferees are lost on their first sortie in the south.

Combat Report

Overuns = 2.  Automatic attacks = 6. Diced attacks = 20 (A new record total of 27)

Losses: Soviets = 18, Air = 7

Axis; Forts = 12. German Isolated = 6. Un-isolated = 129, 2x AA pts, Air = 2.

Rumanian = 7, Hungarian = 4, Italian = 4, Eastern = 2.

Total = 152 (Record Losses)

Loss Ratio August II ’43 is Axis/Sov (152/59) = 2.58

 

1943 AUG II Axis Turn

Narrative

Hans Baur head of the Fliegerstaffel des Fuehrers pushes forward on the stick and drops the nose of the personal transport aircraft “Immelmann III” downwards. In so doing he sets off a chain of events that will seal his fate along with those of his passengers, family, Germany and the world. He does so out of respect for his precious cargo, none other than the Chancellor of Germany, the Fuhrer Adolf Hitler. Administrative duties now take up most of his time and he rarely flies the Fuhrer himself but occasionally, like today, he takes a trip to keep up his flying skills and credentials.

On first name terms Hans had been ferrying the Fuhrer and his entourage between various locations for over a decade now and he reckons he has got to know the Fuhrer’s moods. Today he is in a particularly dark one, troubled, no doubt, by reports from the Eastern front of Russian advances in Latvia and a breakthrough at Voronezh.

Hans reasons that a low-level flight over the picturesque countryside of Bavaria will lighten the man’s mood.

The Fuhrer’s personal secretary moves forward to speak to Hans about the deviation from the flight plan and ensure that the Chancellor will not be late for his meeting with the Hungarian ambassador later that evening. Just as he does so, two vials of frozen liquid of British manufacture, located in a briefcase in the hold, thaw; warmed by the Bavarian summer sun. They mingle and in so doing create a thermal reaction which ignites a larger mass of explosive compound in which they are embedded.

The resulting explosion engulfs the aircraft in a fireball which scatters fragments of the plane, its contents and occupants over a 10-kilometre radius of the Bavarian countryside.

Two days later Acting Fuhrer Martin Bormann receives the news that an examination of the charred remains of one of bodies has determined, from dental records, that it is indeed the mortal remains of this beloved Fuhrer.

After the confirmation of the Fuhrer’s death is announced there follows a chaotic period of reprisals and recriminations, at least one attempted coup and the settling of many old scores some tracing their history back to the start of the National Socialist movement.

The purge of middle and high-ranking civil officials and army officers that follows results in equal chaos in the field. Order and counter-order are confused and entangled as the various parties vie for the new leader’s favour or try to avoid his attention.  Whereas the new Chancellor does not share the same grand delusions of strategic military genius as his predecessor he needs and demands a victory to secure support irrespective of the feasibility or wisdom of such an operation.

As a result, the Eastern front in mid-August of 1943 is plunged into command paralysis and uncertainty resulting in a mishmash of moves and countermoves.

In Latvia Das Reich is offered no support and is forced to fight itself out of encirclement despite powerful friendly forces nearby. On the Kalinin front some units break and flee West while others stay to fight.  At Moscow the Moskauer Stadtpanzerverteidigungstruppe leves the city in order to attack a local breakthrough to the south but the odrers to return to the city (and certain anihilation) convieiently “fail to reach“ the Corps commander.

At the southern end of the active section of the Front, west of Voronezh however the demands for a victory result in desisive action

The Panzer forces in the Orel/Kursk sectors combine and hit the western flank of the Soviet armoured advance . Crashing into three Soviet Tank/Mech Corp and supporting arms they cadre one and completly eliminate two others by co-ordinated assaults and overuns. They press onwards linking with the Hungarians trapped 30 miles south of Voronezh

Despite this setback the Soviets are by no means a spent force and the world holds its breath as it waits to see who will emerge victorious from this clash of steel.

Turn Report

Army of Norway: The 6-8 mtn xx and a Res pt are evacuated leaving a 3-8 SS mtn cadre and some static AA as the only occupiers.

At the other end of the front a Soviet 1-8 ski is overrun by a light inf regiment.

AGN: The Axis receive orders to counterattack the Soviet Mech cops pinning 2 DR but these orders are countermanded and a 15-10 pz, 11-10 mech and SS Viking (14-10 pz) move over the Dvina to secure the route SW against any Soviet moves in that direction. A 5-7-6 inf however does advance to a forested hex to secure the flank of the surrounded divisions and cadres which are ordered to break out SE.

At Veliki Luki a newly arriving 16-10 pz from the Kalinin sector takes up position south of the city filling the fortified line together with the 14-10pz and 6-10 mot divisions trapped last turn. An 18-10pz from Kalinin moves into reserve at Veliki Luki.

At Kalinin some local commanders, in the absence of orders from Berlin, take matters into their own hands and begin to pull back to the fortified line built 100 miles in their rear. Some units though stay behind.

AGC: The corps commander of the Moscow forces, unnerved by the constant bombardment form Soviet rockets and artillery, the threats of breakthrough to the north and south and the constant harassment from the air decides to evacuate the city. One pz XX moves to Rhzev for refit while two others use the excuse of a counterattack against the 14-8 Guards Mech advance south of the city to leave and not return. In doing so the fate of the remaining troops in the city is sealed.

Together with other units the attack succeeds cadering the Soviet Mech xxx.

Battle of the Ukraine continues with an Axis riposte against the Soviet penetration

Battle of the Ukraine continues with an Axis riposte against the Soviet penetration

From there to Kursk the line is quiet with the mobile forces moving East just south of the weather line to strike at the Soviet advance West of Voronezh. The Soviets here were lured by the thrill of an overrun spree last move and have exposed themselves to attack in turn.

Single stacked in open country they present an ideal target for an armoured counterstroke and play right into the Axis hands. In a well-co-ordinated series of three 5:1(-1) attacks the Axis strike and after the dust clears from the dry Steppe the hulks of two Soviet tank corps, a 3-2-8 Guards tank brigade, 4-1-10 mot rkt reg, 3-8 mech brigade and 1-8 NKVD brigade lie in ruins. Not content with this victory, great in itself, the panzers press on overrunning the surviving cadre of one of the attacks and connecting with the Hungarian fort south of Voronezh. This move was ordered in an attempt to maintain the increasingly shaky support of Hungary who before the attack had no un-isolated ground forces left in Russia.

AGS: The mainly Rumanian/Italian sector in the Don bend prepares to move West and evacuates the extreme Eastern tip of the river. They formulate a plan to stage a phased withdrawal to the Donets river. This river is not currently fortified and will be a less secure position than the fortified “Stalino line” further West but has the advantage that it will allow Rostov to be maintained. Indeed it will be less secure than their current location but the Axis forces are increasingly concerned about the great imbalance in the Northern and Southern sectors of the front the latter of which is 100s of miles further East. It is also in danger of being split off from the rest of the front and isolated by a serious Soviet move SW from their current location at Voronezh.

The Axis attempts sealing of the Soviet breach at Voroneszh

The Axis attempts sealing of the Soviet breach at Voroneszh

Air Combat: Nothing significant. The Luftwaffe suffers one lost air frame on a DAS mission and the Soviets two interceptors.

Combat Report

Attacks: Overuns = 3 , Attacks = 4

Losses: Axis = 1 air.

Soviets 41. (40 of which are CM units, air = 2.

1943 AUG I Soviet Turn

Turn Report

Breakout and Pursuit – In Estonia Soviet troops pursue the Axis forces to the Dvina line surrounding and eliminating the stragglers with overwhelming force. They contact the temporary Axis mobile defence line West of Veliki Luki and penetrate the line with an attack on a Panzer unit and push through. Exploiting from the West Soviet mobile units move through a gap in the Axis line and together these two arms catch the bulk of the German mechanised forces north of the river putting them out of supply.

In the south the Axis line is again demolished a few miles West of Voronezh where Soviet tanks exploit SW and overrun numerous regiments and a Security division. The exploiting units also move to connect with the infantry army pressing West out of the bridgehead on the West bank of the Upper Don and surround and isolate Voronezh and a nearby fort.

Soviet Pincers trap the remnants of First Panzer Army

Soviet Pincers trap the remnants of First Panzer Army

Partisans: To support the renewed offensive partisan activity is stepped up and 7 hits are achieved against rail lines.

Finnish front. At Murmank the Soviets take the offering of the single mountain cadre remaining outside the city and eliminate it. Only the city itself now remains in Axis hands east of the estuary.

In the West fresh infantry divisions laden with attack supply move up the road from the south to deploy towards Kautokeino.

Leningrad Front: Estonia: With only one ZOC the infantry division and cadres straggling back to the Dvina are surrounded and eliminated. From the Baltic coast west, the Soviets form a line just short of the Dvina at the limit of their movement range. In the West of this sector they move artillery divisions into place against the Veliki Luki fortified hub but do not attack. Their focus is on the Axis line set forward of the river. Designed to protect an infantry division and cadre moving south the Axis are confident the Soviets will avoid direct combat against their powerful defences. The Soviet tankers have other ideas. 3 Tank Armies combine their best units and attack a 12-10 pz cadering it. The advance pins a 14-10 pz, 6-10 mot stack to the East of the breach isolating it and the attackers have enough strength in the advancing stack to overrun the retreated cadre in exploitation. But here lady luck favours the Axis. The Infantry division which indirectly had offered up the panzer target now redeems itself. The division is attacked but only a retreat results. The unit is cadred due to ZOCs but ends its retreat on top of the Panzer cadre, thus denying the Soviets their prize! Such are the Fortunes of War.

Nevertheless, the resulting hole in the Axis line allows a further hex of exploitation. The Soviets swing in behind the German line and additional mobile units rush in from the West between the Dvina and the German panzers. In the resulting pocket they isolate (by ZOC) 2DR SS pz xx, 10-10 pz Gren xx, 5-10 SS pz gren, 6-8 pz cadre, 3-6, 2-6 inf cadres, 4-2-10 tk reg, 2x 1-10 mot ATs. The move caries some risk of a counterattack but most of the German units will be out of supply and Viking is out of position at Riga There is only a single 15-10 pz xx available outside the pocket to mount any counterattack so the risk is considered acceptable.

In a separate operation the Tallinn pocket is eliminated.

Kalinin Sector: The advance at the extreme NE tip of the German front continues to gain a hex a turn but a move south against the rail line east of Veliki Luki fails to make progress.

Moscow Front: With Artillery and Rocket Divisions now emplaced the Soviets again attack Moscow and again fail to make any progress due to the beefed-up defence which nullifies the Artillery point gain.

South of the city however cracks begin to show in the Axis line and with the bulk of the German armour engaged in the Orel/Kursk sector the Soviets are emboldened to advance and in one case exploit with a 12-8 Mech corps isolating a 7-6, 3-6 infantry fortified infantry stack. Kaluga is liberated.

Orel/Kursk Sector: Orel is assaulted and taken together with an adjacent fort.

In front of Kursk the advance is stopped dead by the German counterattack and units form a double defensive line.

The Soviet Breakthrough at Voroneszh

The Soviet Breakthrough at Voroneszh

Voronezh/Kursk Rail line:  West of the city of Voronezh the mixed Axis line is assaulted on 4 adjacent hexes all of which succeed in eliminating the defenders. Retreating cadres, security units and reinforcements in transit are all crushed in a series of exploitation over-runs. (Total Over-run haul is 1×3-5 sec xx, 1-5 sec reg, 1-8 Pol, 3-6 inf cadre, 0-1-5 eng, 1-6 Hung eng, 1-8 it cadre,.). The Soviet tanks form a defensive ring which extends to the Infantry Army advancing south of Voronezh moving West from its bridgehead over the Upper Don. This cuts off Voronezh and a nearby fort which together trap the bulk of the Hungarian army. These units will not return to active service when replaced until released so this is a great bonus.

Stalingrad Front: As the threat of any serious Axis armoured assault in the south recedes AT units are stripped from the front line and move north.

Air Combat: The Soviets employ air combat for 4 attacks this turn to nudge up the odd; the most for some time. Their preponderance of airpower and the dispersed nature of German Fighters in any one area allows the VVS to calculate quite accurately the number of aircraft needed even assuming maximum loss from interception. Only AA fire is less predictable but where present they add extra bombers to make the contribution from air power a near certainty.

An example of one such attack is against Moscow where German fighters decide to engage. 2 FW180s attempt to bypass the 6 strong fighter escort. One is aborted and the other Misses its target! 10AA factors obtain 2Aborts and 3 Returns but the 5 survivors of the 10 strong flight of Stormaviks, are sufficient to reach the required odds.

The Long-Range Bomber force operating out of Leningrad bombs the Wilno- Polotsk line adding 4 breaks.

Combat Report

Auto Attacks = 6, Diced Attacks = 19 Total = 25 (Highest so far)

Loses: Soviet = 15, Air = 2

Axis: Forts = 7, Res pt = 1, German Isolated = 19, Un-isolated = 73, 2xPos AA, Air = 1

Rumanian = 4, Hungarian = 12, Italian = 5, Eastern = 4 (Total = 117)

Combat Ratio Axis/soviet Aug I ’43, 80/128 = 0.63

1943 Aug I Axis Turn

Turn Report

Weather = Clear across all zones.

Finland and Army of Norway: A 3-8* Mtn regiment and a Res point are transported from Murmansk to Petsamo as the perimeter contracts.

AGN: Run away! As attribute to the Soviet tactic of targeting Infantry units there are only two weak divisions and 3 cadres which are not combat motorised across the whole front from the coast west to Veliki Luki. The Axis reluctantly decide they cannot hold the line forward and retreat to man the defensive fortified line (still under construction) on the SW of the Dvina. However, in true Germanic style they do not do so without mounting two “safe” attacks against the pursuers one each in the Pskov and Veliki Luki sectors. In exploitation a division and two cadres are abandoned to their fate but the mobile units closest to Veliki Luki decide to cover the retreat of the second division and a cadre closest to the town and form a temporary line. This also serves to give engineers an additional turn to complete “The “Dvina Line”.

The Axis evacuate the Baltic

The Axis evacuate the Baltic

Further west the line is thinned but an attack is mounted north of Kalinin to check the Soviet advance and eliminates a Soviet stack.

AGC: The audacity of the Soviet attack on Moscow unsettles the base commander and the occupants of the Wolf Lair who authorises a refit of one of the 12-10 panzers in the Moskauer Stadtpanzerverteidigungstruppe which pulls out to Rhzev and is replaced with a 16-10 panzer xx and an additional artillery unit.

At Kursk the Axis decide to launch an co-ordinated attack on the point of the Soviet wedge advancing towards the city. Two attacks are launched. The first cadres a 12-9-8 tk, 14-6 artillery and a Guards infantry but Totenkoph is cadred in the HX. The Axis advance.

The secod attack however against a softer infantry target obtains a DE and with the retreat being blocked by the advance above totaly eliminates the stack.

Battle of Kursk

Battle of Kursk

AGS: The Don bend is stripped firther with large sections being held by a single axis division however the soviets are also quescent on this front and the Axis feel safwe behind the river in thier forts.

At Voronezh units rush to contain the Soviet bridgehead over the Don and pull back into the city which is now the northern end of the front line before it turns West to Kursk.

Air Combat: Little to report as the Axis place almost their entire bomber force on DAS.

This is prooving rather expensive in air frames however because there are not enough fightes to effectivly cover the bombing force dispersed in this way and the Soviets can “mob“ chosen targets and/or pick off stragglers devoid of fighter escort.

Combat Report

Diced attacks = 4.

Losses: Axis: German = 11, Soviets; = 82

1943 Mid-Game Analysis

I added an exclamation mark to the number of Soviet attacks last report because it appeared to be the highest number of combats they have initiated in a turn so far in this game. I have since checked and discovered this to be the case. It occurred to me that it may be interesting to do some more detailed analysis on the number of attacks per side/ kill ratio i.e. losses/Attacks etc.

I have, therefore reviewed the reports and added the data to my Losses Spreadsheet.
Unfortunately, I did not keep record the number of attacks for either side till Sept I ’41 then just the Axis till Nov I ’41 when both are recorded. So this analysis omits the early Axis glory days. Nevertheless, the data proves an interesting read.

It may be supposed that both sides use the same CRT the loss ratio would be similar, but there are several factors other than just the CRT to consider.

  • The appetite of the two sides to take attacker losses.
  • The die roll modifiers available
  • The unit density
  • Weather effects
  • Air Power

Let us examine each in a bit more detail:

Firstly the “appetite” to take attacker losses. In part the comments under this section may reflect my personal playing style rather than a principle that can be applied to the sides per sae. It seems clear to me that the Axis player should be far more reluctant to take losses. True he can recover losses more efficiently via special replacements (so a loss of 20 points is effectively a 16 point loss for the Soviets but only a 15 point loss for the Germans). The Germans in particular rely on fewer, higher quality, units which are thus indivisible and unless very careful the German attacker can end up taking losses over those essential. In comparison the Soviet player has far more smaller units and can usually find the exact “change” needed. Both the above points are marginal compared to the real determining factor which is the vast disparity of manpower reserves available to the two sides. The Soviets in effect have units to burn if they can survive the initial onslaught and a “War of Attrition” plays right into their hands. The Axis must in my view therefore only attack at odds where an EX or HX is possible only to secure critical terrain, communication centres or tactical advantage. As a result of this their attacks will on average be at a higher odds/DRM than the Soviets and likely therefore to have a greater kill rate. It should also be noted that I have not consistently reported isolated losses from non-combat. Where noted therefore I have included these as losses inflicted as combat losses for consistency. This will also be a marginal effect.

Secondly Die roll modifiers. The Die roll modifiers available to the two sides are also not entirely symmetrical. The Soviet armour starts with a number of disadvantages, especially the mobility limitations which restrict its attacking usefulness particularly in the early months. It also takes some time for the Soviet Forts to be liberally available. Consequently, the Axis enjoy a considerable DRM advantage particularly early in the game in the summer months. Whereas a DRM roughly approximates to a column shift there are some anomalies such as the 1.5/1 column and the infamous 5:1 with -2 plus modifiers.

Thirdly unit density plays a part in understanding the statistics. In the early years when the Axis are ascendant unit density is generally a lot lower so they will make far more attacks on smaller value stacks compared to the Soviets who mid game are generally attacking larger stacks. (To be clear though the losses reported are the replacement costs of the units lost thus an 8-6 infantry division is reported as a 5 point loss when cadred) Thus from a losses inflicted point of view this method of calculation will tend to reduce the losses over and above the CRT result for both attacking and defending units of both sides although because they have more cadres will tend to massage the German losses in particular down a bit).

The weather effects work indirectly by effecting the DRM for the Soviets in the first winter and thereafter the loss of armour effects which generally favours the Soviets. This shows in the data because the number of attacks follows a seasonal rhythm more closely than the loss data. For example, the Axis attack more times each turn than the Soviets from the Start until Oct ‘42 when the Strategic Initiative changes except for the First Winter where the Soviets are the dominant attacking force.

Air Power. Air power can add attack factors and increase the kill rate and both sides have periods of aerial ascendancy but I have not been recording odds achieved so cannot analyse the relative combat effectiveness per factor only the relative lethality per attack so not much more can be added under this heading.

SE AAR 2: Combat Frequency Analysis

SE AAR 2: Combat Frequency Analysis

What do the figures show? Here are the highlights from the statistically invalid set of 1 game:

  • Highest number of attacks both sides in one turn = 33 (Jun II ’42)
  • Highest number of attacks in one turn Axis = 30 (Aug I ’41)
  • Highest Number of attacks in one turn Soviet =24 (Jun II ’43
  • Lowest number of attacks in one turn Axis = 1 (April II ’43 attacking Voronezh)
  • Lowest number of Soviet attacks in one turn = 3 (April II ’42, Jun II ’42 and Aug I ’42)
  • Average number of attacks per turn Axis = 9 (from Nov I ’41)
  • Average number of attacks per turn Soviet = 10 (from Nov I ’41)
  • Average number of attacks both sides = 18 (from Nov I ’41)
  • Point at which Soviet Attack numbers exceed German attacks Jan II 42 till Mar II 42 then Oct II 42 Onwards.
  • Total number of attacks. Axis = 345 (since Nov I ’41 incl)
  • Total number of attacks Soviet = 403 (since Nov I ’41 incl)
  • Total Attacker Losses – Axis = 308 (From Oct ’41)
  • Total Attacker Losses – Soviets = 556 (From Oct ’41)
  • Total losses inflicted by Axis on Soviets = 2610 (From Oct I ’41)
  • Total losses inflicted by Soviets on Axis = 2069 (From Oct I ’41)
  • Highest Attacker single turn loss Axis = 62 (Feb II ’43) (Most from two massive exchanges)
  • Highest Attacker single turn loss Soviets = 45 (Dec I ’41)
  • Highest single turn loss Inflicted Axis on Soviets = 197 (Jun II ‘41)
  • Highest single turn Loss Inflicted Soviets on Axis = 137 (Jun II ’43)
  • Average attacker loss per attack both sides = 10
  • Average attacker loss per attack Axis = 9 (From Nov I ’41)
  • Average attacker loss per attack Soviets = 12.6 (From Nov I ’41)
  • Best Kill Ratio (losses inflicted/Number of attacks) Axis = 29 (Mar I ’43)
  • Best Kill Ratio (losses inflicted/Number of attacks) Soviets = 14.8 (Dec I ’41)
  • Gross Kill Ratio Axis = 12.8 (all losses per turn/number of combats from Nov I ’41)
  • Average Kill Ratio Soviets = 6.2 (all losses per turn/number of combats Nov I ’41)
  • Net Kill Ratio (deducting attacker losses) Axis = 9.06 (From Nov I ’41)
  • Net Kill Ratio (deducting attacker losses) Soviets = 5.05 (From Nov I ’41)

What surprised me about this data was the high rate of Axis attacker losses I had expected it to be a lot lower, however 48 of these were lost in the initial turn and a further 97 in the winter of 41/42 when the Axis were desperately attempting to deliver a killing blow to the Soviets. What was expected was that each Axis attack is more lethal than its Soviet counterpart. (and German units will be recovering more from Special Replacements.)

The lack of data for the early months is frustrating but empirically one may assume it will considerably increase the German Kill Ratio. I will let the reader pick out any other highlights of interest, suffice to say I have been crunching these numbers for 3 nights now and hopefully they will stand up to scrutiny but please report and anomalies or obvious errors and so I can correct them.

1943 JUL II Soviet Turn

Narrative

The Soviet snowball is gaining momentum. As the Axis lose troops and thin the line to fill the gaps more opportunities are opened up for Soviet attacks. The German reactive groups which did so much damage a month ago and have caused the Soviets to adopt a steady approach are now forced to dissipate to cover the line. True, they can mount hit and run attacks against the attackers but as they spread out they loose mass and the ability to concentrate. The Soviets by contrast have more and more targets to attack and do so this turn with a total of 24 attacks – the most ever mounted. The kill rate however is disappointing and not the highest but far exceeds the ability of the Axis to replace the loses further weakening their overall position. Is it a matter of time before the damn breaks or will Axis counter attacks, where mounted, blunt the Soviet spearheads before they are overwhelmed? The Soviets avoid a direct tank on tank conflict because they are weaker overall in armour but teamed with artillery divisions these units pack a powerful punch and a strong defence against any riposte.

Turn Report

Partisans: The Axis step up security patrols and only 2 rail hits are made this month.

Finnish front. The Soviets continue to reduce the Murmansk perimeter and eliminate a 6-8 mtn division but only achieve a retreat further west near Petsamo. In the far West reinforcement yomp up the trail laden with supplies to fight back against the recent Axis push out of Kautokeino.

Leningrad Front/ Narva/Pskov Sector; The two sectors merge as the German line retreats south out of Estonia into northern Latvia. 6 attacks completely annihilate two surrounded pockets outside Tallinn and West of Pskov and the Axis line is punctuated in 3 places. The presence of strong Axis armour formations and high ZOC/Terrain costs limit the advance which continues to be slow and steady on this front.

Veliki Luki Sector: In a repeat of last turns assault a direct attack south is mounted by three tank armies against a stack with a 13-10 pz as its primary defender. This time instead of a retreat a DH results in the cadering of the Panzer. A surrounded 6-6 inf xx also receives a DH and is annihilated.

The Red Army overruns Army Group North

The Red Army overruns Army Group North

Kalinin Sector: The infantry pincer attack started last turn eliminates the link stranding a large stack at Vishniy Volochek but an Exchange result weakens the Soviets who decide against an advance due to two 16-10 panzers in the area and content themselves with isolating the town and it’s defenders by ZOC.

Moscow Front: Their attempt to advance and surround the remaining Axis toehold at West Moscow thwarted the Soviets decide on a direct assault. The attack is poorly co-ordinated and launched before three Guards Rocket divisions have time to fully register their tubes. Furthermore, alerted by a defector the Axis take cover and weather a desultory bombardment leaving them free to emerge from the cellars and easily ward off the Guards infantry/Tank/Engineer attack which follows (NE).

South of Moscow: The line between Moscow and Orel is now mostly being waged west of the river as the defenders are winkled out of their forts one by one. Three attacks in this sector cause more divisions to be cadred. The resulting advances are cautious because earlier Axis counter-attacks have taught the Russians the hard way not to plunge headlong into a single hex cul-de-sac but rather to wait for a two hex front or corner attack to advance the line. They are content for the Axis to feed fodder into the line for elimination until such opportunities arise.

Outside Orel an assault on the fortified ring fails with no loss or advance.

At Kursk however in a replica of the above attack an infantry division is cadred and a fort eliminated (but the victorious 12-9-8 Guards tank after eliminating the fort pulls back in exploitation.)

Along the Voronezh/Kursk road three attacks fragment the line inflicting more damage but careful retreats and some back up units provide the attackers with no exploitation opportunities worth taking.

The Center cannot hold

The Center cannot hold

Voronezh Sector: The infantry/artillery drive continues south of the city and while two separate bridgeheads over the river are successfully merged the direct attack SW fails and no significant advance is made.

Nevertheless the attacks north of the City are placing the defenders in imminent danger of being surrounded and isolated.

Stalingrad Front; Due to the continued expansion of the Moscow Front administrative and command control of all action originating south of the line Kursk/Voronezh is transferred to the Stalingrad Front commander for future reports.

Air Combat: A carpet bombing mission is launched west of Moscow by the short and medium assault bombers based in the former capital. 2 more hits render the Moscow Rail line unusable and surrounding hexes are blanketed by 15x 1 pt Harassment hits designed to slow or prevent significant reinforcement into the sector.

As before the Long Range bomber force is less successful scoring only two rail hits in the Minsk/Poland/Lithuania regions from 10 single bomber missions.

Combat Report:

Diced Combats = 24!

Losses

Soviets = 19, Air = 2.

Axis:
Forts = 7,
German Isolated= 19,
German un-isolated = 69,
Pos AA = 1,
Air = 1;
Italian = 2.
Eastern Troops = 1.

Loss Ratio July II ’43 Axis/Sov = 91/78 = 1.16

 

1943 JUL II Axis Turn

R&R (Rescue and Riposte) In the Arctic the Axis launch an operation that eliminates a large section of the Soviet front line.

In the south of Estonia the trapped troops are rescued by counter attack although for one infantry division this is it likely to prove a brief respite.

Between Orel and Kursk the tank on tank battle continues as two more tank corps and two motorised corps are obliterated.

Turn Report

Weather: Automatically clear

Finland and Army of Norway: A light division arrives at Alta and marches to join the fight at Kautokeino attacking with the Mountain division and mountain artillery already in situ they launch a devastating attack across 2/3’s of the sector eliminating in one sweep 64 miles of Russian front Line troops for the very economical cost of 1 Res pt.

Elsewhere all hold in place with one Res Pt being shipped along the coast from Alta to Kirkenes.

Axis counterattacks in the central Arctic Theater

Axis counterattacks in the central Arctic Theater

AGN; Narva/Pskov Sector: The units in the Forested and Swampy terrain screening Tallinn hold fast and await their inevitable fate, they are ordered to “hold in place until relief arrives” which they correctly deduce is code for “no rescue is planned”.

In the south of the former Baltic state a double attack on the forces which penetrated the MLR at Pskov are is executed and the trapped forces rescued however the front line established in Exploitation excludes the infantry division in the forests adjacent to the lake as to include it would extend the line into a cul-de-sac and risk further encirclement. At least it has been brought back into supply. (The Axis would have liked to include it in the attack which would have allowed an advance south but to do so would have sullied the AECA and risked an exchange and there are not enough Armour assets to have raised the odds to avoid this.)

As a general principle the Axis are averse to use their Air Force as flying attack artillery except to top up a small shortfall or for critical attacks preferring instead to use the Airforce for DAS.

The force levels in this sector are now such that the Soviets can pick on most hexes at will and eliminate them, The Axis see this as a delaying force giving time for the Dvina River line to be fortified where they will make their stand.

Veliki Luki Sectors: No possibility for counter attacks here the Axis contemplate falling back to the Veliki Luki fortified hub but decide to stand fast gaining some reinforcements from troops moving West from the Kalinin Sector and maintaining a continuous front while the line fall back on the Dvina.

Kalinin Sector- The Axis have no significant reserves here and the terrain is too difficult for a “Hit and Return” attack from Kalinin so the pincer move on Vishniy Volochek is unchecked (pardon the pun) and the forested crossroads reluctantly evacuated. The focus of so much attention over the last two years, battered by assaults and key to German operations to the East the pressure now is too great so weakened are the defenders. In reality, although of significance in terms of morale the practical importance of this junction has waned to insignificance now the front has shrunk back. It is true that the rail line is needed in winter but in the summer months supplies can arrive from the rails further south. Not admitted publicly OKW is practicing Wargames which allow for a complete withdrawal from this sector dependant on the fate of Kalinin and/or their tenuous grip on the capital. The loss of this junction may, at worst, hasten this decision.

AGC; North Moscow Sector; The Soviets retreated, the breach is sealed and engineers move in to re-fortify.

South Moscow Sector: Defences are prepared against the continuing assaults.

Orel Sector: The isolated Tank corps/Brigade stack is surrounded and annihilated to the last man.

On the southern corner of the pocket closest to Kursk a bold advance by a tank XXX and two motorised XXXs is repaid by annihilation.

Panzers move back to replace the concrete forts previously lost with steel.

Southern Sector; Infantry and support units are reinforced by armour and mech units in an attempt to check any move south while battered infantry forces north of Voronezh abandon forts to shrink the perimeter and maintain contact on their left flank.

AGS: Troops continue to be bled off the Don defensive line but this particular cup is now running dry. The Soviet units West of the Don are for the moment unassailable so are simply contained.

Air combat: Most aircraft on Das a smattering of intercepts result in losses of 1xJU88A, 2x, JU87D for a P39D.

Combat Report:

Attacks: Auto =2, Diced = 6

Losses: Soviet Isolated = 14, Un-isolated = 45, air = 1

Axis; Air = 3:

 

1943 JUL I Soviet Turn

Narrative

R&R – (Rescue and re grouping). The swift armoured response of the German forces requires a turn of consolidation in the south. 4 Tank corps are isolated west of the wall of steel erected between Kursk and Orel and a breakthrough is needed to bring them into supply and safety. 3 are rescued but one cannot reach home so marches NW to interdict the Bryansk-Orel rail line.

Whilst the dash and élan of the southern breakout requires a turn of consolidation this is not so in the north where the slow, steady push on the German forces in Estonia finally cracks the line and the resulting exploitations isolate 5 divisions and 4 REs of cadres and support troops.

Turn Report

Partisans: With many districts completely covered by security assets only 3 rail breaks are inflicted this turn; none of which are in critical areas.

Finnish front. The Soviets continue to reduce the Murmansk perimeter, but their efforts are repulse by fully supplied defenders.

Further west a Luftwaffe penal battalion is retreated into Petsamo.

Leningrad Front:  Narva Sector; The attackers concentrate their attacks into two main drives. The smaller of the two including just one Guards Mech Corps with massed infantry and artillery drives directly West smashing a hodge podge defence of cadres and an 88 flack unit and hooks north to the outskirts of Tallinn trapping the Security division stationed there and the two divisions and engineers in the forested and swamp terrain near the coast. Any move east by these troops is barred by a screen of Guards infantry and Naval Gunfire support.

The second group strikes at the 5-6 infantry division and supports occupying Tartu. Despite two Tk xxxs and a Mech xxx in the van a spirited defence is mounted by the greatly outnumbered rear-guard of flack, stug and a local ethnic contingent which allows the infantry division to fall back intact and block any significant exploitation by the Soviets. (DH)

Soviet Forces liberate Estonia

Soviet Forces liberate Estonia

Pskov Sector; The unprotected gap courtesy of local Fighters out of Pskov driving off a Harassment mission allow an infantry force to advance 16 miles and a lone Cavalry division to penetrate 30 miles into the rear of the MLR. In exploitation a 4-8 mech cadre joins the Cavalry unit to prevent overrun and the advancing Mech/Tanks from Tartu move towards these units and trap and isolate a further 2 divisions and a 5-10 SS mech unit adjacent to Lake Peipus. A massed assault just south of there cadres a 14-10 pz.

Veliki Luki Sector: A direct assault south is mounted by two tank armies against a stack with a 12-10 pz as its primary defender. The German units retreat without loss but are now holding only 30 miles from the vital communication line serving the East/West MLR between Veliki LUki and Kalinin.

Kalinin Sector: An infantry pincer attack is developed by a new thrust close to the small lakes in the northern Valdai Eastwards threatening to meet the continuing drive West from north of Kalinin. The noose is tightening on the Axis hold of the forested junction just north of Vishniy Volochek a junction they have held against the best the Russians could throw against them all through the long cold winters of 41 and 42 and the summer before it.

Moscow Front: North Sector: A rescue attack is mounted against the 12-10 pz trapping the two Tanks corps west of it. To aid the attack the entire Moscow air defence is mobilised adding a full 35 points to the attack. The result only retreats the defenders, but the Tank corps and artillery xx is recued.

South of Moscow: A German fort which occupies the oxbow system between Moscow and Orel and is located East of the river is assaulted, ironically with some soviets attacking back East over the bend from their positions west of it. The hex is cleared as is a second on the direct route to Bryansk but the going is a slow grind with dire consequences for any single hex advances.

Outside Orel a lone 0-1-10 Flack unit passing supplies to a trapped 7-6 in an outlying fort is over-run and the 7-6 subsequently eliminated. Another assault against the fortified redoubt dispatches a Panzer cadre, light inf xx cadre and a 2-8 Stug.

The Soviets rescue 9th Army and keep pushing West

The Soviets rescue 9th Army and keep pushing West

Between Kursk and Orel infantry and artillery rush forward to replace the tanks and mech in the front line. The latter concentrate and hit a 14-10 pz reducing it to cadre. The three isolated tank corps join the fight to reach safety and advance into supply. A lone Tk xxx with a 3-2-8 Guards accompaniment out of reach of rescue and running low on fuel moves northwest to try to interfere with German forces moving from the north.

Along the Voronezh/Kursk road three attacks penetrate the line inflicting losses and retreats.

Voronezh Sector: The infantry/artillery drive continues south of the city and a second strong force advances West of the Don. 2 forts are eliminated.

Stalingrad Front; The soviets note the continual drain of units north but take no action. They are spread thinly in a defensive posture from the Sea of Azov to the end of the Major section of the Don with no offensive capacity.

Air Combat: The massive Moscow air operation is unopposed. The Soviets attempt to support the isolated Tank/Brigade formation outside Orel but two of the three Pe2FTs are driven off by interceptors although the VVS gains comfort by eliminating a Me410A’

Short and medium range Assault craft gain 2 rail hits in the Veliki Luki area and raid an Airbase Aborting a Ju87 on the ground.

The Long Range bomber force is less successful scoring only one rail hit in the Minsk area out of 10 missions there and against Polish and Lithuanian lines.

Combat Report

Over-runs = 1, Auto Attacks = 1, Diced Combats = 19

Losses:
Soviets = 21, Air = 2.

Axis:
Forts = 5,
German Isolated= 7,
German un-isolated = 90,
Air = 3;
Eastern Troops = 1.

Loss Ratio July I ’43 Axis/Sov = 98/83 = 1.18

 

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