Turn 7, end
In the North I have now finished what I set out to do from the start. My rear is clear, lines are shortened, and 8 full strength infantry divisions are ready to be railed to wherever I please. Not that I can rail across the map, Partisans have left a big chunk of my rail network unusable.
The partisan situation is almost under control now though, and attacks on turn 7 have dwindled down to around 20 in total.
For me this concludes the opening phase of the campaign as I work with the assumption that the Soviets have by now finished most of the preparations for a major offensive.
I think I am in good shape. Due to Soviet timidity I have only given ground under pressure around Smolensk, most of my armies retain their combat strength, I have created a strategic option for myself by extracting 8 divisions from the North and have only lost 1 division in the process.
While my lines are strong on most parts of the front, the sector West of Kursk seems to be the only spot where a multihex breakthrough is likely on the short term. I have armored formations available to rush in though.
The next turns should see constant fighting until mud season hits. While my original plan of not giving ground where the defenses are strong will still apply, I will be more than willing to give up sectors of frontage to prevent subjecting my troops to a meat grinder. I should remember to dig fall back positions when I can so I am not forced to give ground too fast.
The start of the offensive should show if my decision to focus strength on the front in fortified positions, leaving rear areas exposed and only covered by the potential fire brigade work of armored divisions, was correct or that I will be presented with calamitous small encirclements all over the front line. Keep in mind that this strategy of focusing strength in the front will only be applied if I think the front is actually strong on a wide sector, denying the Soviets multi hex breakthroughs. If the strength is not there to prevent that, I will put more strength behind the lines to prevent eliminations of entire sectors of front. And again, either dig fall back positions, or be prepared to give up ground at fast pace. In any case I will try to refrain from subjecting my troops to a meat grinder. I have ground to give and lines to shorten. If necessary I can fall back AGN to the Peipus and shorten the line dramatically. I will probably have to do that as soon as AGS is forced to retreat as there will be more kilometers of front to cover then. Basically I feel shortening the lines of AGN is the only real strategic option left to the Wehrmacht, while putting out fires with Armored divisions in the meantime.
At the end of turn 7 the situation for the Luftwaffe is mixed. Fighter kommando is doing very well and losing very few planes. I have plenty of Messerschmitts and Focke Wulfs in the pool to sustain a long defensive campaign as long as my ace pilots don’t die. On the other hand, my Stuka force is all but depleted and will be pulled back to reform in Germany in turn 8. Most veteran Stuka pilots are dead and I have rookies nose diving straight for AAA formations.
Bomber kommando is doing OK, suffering a good deal of losses but they are for now sustainable. I am thinking of focusing my bombers to strike the Sturmovik plant in Moscow while I still can. The IL-2 Sturmoviks will become a huge factor later on, interdicting my retreating forces. I should have probably done this from turn 1 onwards, to cripple at least the Moscow part of Sturmovik production (no idea where the other plants are) or force him to keep fighter elements around there. Unfortunately the Luftwaffe does not possess long range escort planes (unless I am missing something) so any strategic strike can only be done at cities where the Soviets do not have fighter protection.