From: NYer living in Boise, ID
Just to the south of the attack on Moscow, the main German winter offensive begins to cut off the Orel-Bryansk Salient. Mud also affected the preparations here as infantry did not come into the line before this turn to relieve part of 2nd Pz Grp.
AGS was better prepared, with 1st Pz Grp pulled out of the line and resting near Belgorod. 6th Army infantry was not fully in place, but it was close enough when the frost hit.
With the advent of snow, regardless of preparation, the attack needed to start. I seriously thought about holding off a turn, but with variable weather, I'm running out of time, and perhaps luck, with each turn - I needed to launch with what I had.
In doing so, 2nd Pz Grp attacked with only XXXXVII PzKps and some supporting infantry. XXIV PzKps had not been relieved and was still oriented northeast of Tula, holding the line. XL PzKps moved south, but could not commit, nor be re-asssigned to 2nd Pz Grp. With those limitations, I was very happy to have gained 30 miles through heavy level 2 fortifcation defenses.
The welcome surprise was that the initial attack by XXXXVI PzKps was VERY successful, blowing a clean hole through the lines which its own Das Reich and GrossDeutchland could exploit. Through this gap, XXXXVIII PzKps turned east, widening the breach and began its advance on Voronezh. III PzKps followed, moving between the other two PzKps to widen the corridor to 2nd Pz Grp. Though very stretched, a corridor was established, isolating the estimated 50 or so Soviet forces in the Orel-Bryansk Pocket.
Now comes the tough part - maintaining this corridor - which I expect will be severed in the Soviet turn. So perhaps, re-establishing the corridor. Which is certainly do-able with the uncommitted XL and XXIV PzKps as well as additional infantry moving up. The real question is whether the weather will cooperate. Even once the corridor is firmly established, it is going to take a number of weeks to reduce the pocket - and before that is done, I'm sure the blizzard will be in full swing.
I really don't think there was a choice here - eliminate the Orel-Bryansk Salient or pull back to shorter lines. At this stage in the war - pre blizzard - I'm not inclined to pull back hard won ground. Sound familiar???