From: Living in the fair city of Melbourne, Australia
Turn 54 – 25 June 1942
The 1942 Axis Offensive starts... or better, half of it. The suspicions I harbored since Turn 48 have materialized
Or perhaps that PzKorps is going towards Orel... in any case, I'd like Q-Ball to commit like that, even if I have to risk losing a few divisions. If I displace forces on the flanks, perhaps I will be able to put some hurt on Q-Ball. Perhaps.
Q-Ball has committed half of his motorized forces – two full PanzerArmees from my estimates – attacking the salient west of Voronezh. The result has been a major engagement on the western bank of the Don, resulting in 18 divisions being encircled (about 150,000 men). Q-Ball told me over e-mail that my defenses were good: he couldn't get where he wanted to. I must say that his attack was very good as well, he's played craftily the ZOC game to herd divisions into destruction by manipulating retreat paths.
The newly formed Voronezh Front – whose formation has sparkled a quite interesting discussion here – has been badly mauled. Of its four armies – 31st, 33rd, 37th and 61st – the former three have been overrun by Q-Ball's schwerpunkt left wing. Southwestern Front has also suffered. 19th Army has been completely encircled, 12th Army – covering the flank – has been scattered to the four winds and half of 26th Army – left wing of the salient operational reserves – units have been mostly defeated. To make it short: business as usual.
Things on the Caucasus are quiet, for now. Q-Ball is obviously waiting for his railhead to be extended over the Don at Rostov.
Q-Ball has let loose Luftwaffe tactical aircraft to support his offensive. As usual when he does this, the VVS manages to inflict equal losses as it suffered.
Operational Situation Report
I think it's interesting to first take a look at things at Turn 52, when I decided to hold the salient and plan ahead for a major battle west of Voronezh
In this picture you can see part of the on-going troop movements to get ready to battle for the salient, with Voronezh Front – light blue – laying in a messy heap west of the city. Here I had a difficult choice to make. Either I presented a forward defense – by massing its four armies covering the right flank of the salient – or lay an echeloned, in depth reserve. The former had good chances of becoming a dam that could perhaps contain the German onslaught. But I'm very wary of what one can do as the phasing player, and opted for the second option, as depicted on the following picture:
with two armies to the front – deployed along a depth of 30 miles – and two other armies perched on the Don river line. All units not in contact with the Axis, were set to Reserve mode (which involved an unreasonable number of clicks). What I've found when opening the turn isn't really pretty
but not THAT bad. For the very first time after a German offensive, I have powerful formations on the flanks and front of a German thrust. I think I have a quite good idea of what's Q-Ball operational plan, to get into Moscow from the “back door”
creating plenty of opportunities for me to help him into attaining a “revolving door” effect. If he pulls this out, he will have achieved half of a decisive outcome: to destroy the bulk of the Red Army and at the same time, the major source of manpower to keep it on the field.
The other half of the decision that Q-Ball needs to achieve in order to win this game – because, to be honest, he has a very good chance of doing so, having the Axis Armies awesome strength levels – is to negate me temporarily or permanently Caucasus oil fields
M60 is right, it's not “Baku or Bust”. It's more like “Moscow or Bust” and “Baku is Nice in Summer as well if the ticket to get there is cheap enough”. I'm certain I can't stop the two PanzerArmees – that's ludicrous actually – nor fix them as I think I can do in the north – geography and troops aren't the same as around Voronezh. Interesting operational – and strategic – picture. This turn, besides the usual micromanagement to keep the Red Army on the right track, I have to take decisions that might well decide the game for good.
Logistics & Organization
I don't think I'll be able to thank Klydon for his advice to setup a Rifle Division “pipeline”. Things – if they go as I expect – will turn into a major war of attrition... One ingredient – besides using non-phasing player game mechanics to the most and not cooperating with Q-Ball's plans – necessary for the Soviet Union to survive is that of having the ability of throwing into battle the “last battalion”. And for that, I do really need to build in advance a lot of “throwaway” Rifle divisions. I just need to be careful about not throwing too many of them too fast into the bonfire.
I'm no friend of making quotations of famous individuals but this one – which I've come across while reading Karl-Heinz Frieser “Blitzkrieg Legend” - is something I need to keep in mind at all costs:
ORIGINAL: Alfred Graf Von Schlieffen
A perfect battle, such as Cannae, is rare in the history of warfare. This is because it features, on the one side, a man such as Hannibal, and on the other side, a man such as Gaius Terentius Varro, both of whom, in their own ways, cooperate towards the attainment the greater end.
And this remark – which I find to be quite ironic – is really one thing that applies well into certain situations that arise during WitE Grand Campaign. Especially in 1942, when there are no “shock effects” nor “blizzards” Deus Ex Machina devices interferring with wargaming.
I counterattack on both flanks of Q-Ball schwerpunkt defeating three German divisions – 1 Panzer, 1 Motorized:
as well as deploying my armies in depth along Q-Ball's most likely axis of attack. I think the separation between each echelon of my defense is “about right”. By placing so many “yummy” guards units on his flank I want to distract him from what I think makes most sense to do: to ignore these screening them with infantry and execute a double envelopment around Voronezh. Either way, I don't think Q-Ball will find easy to breakthrough in depth across my lines.
In the Caucasus I'm not that sure about Q-Ball plans, but just in case I've laid a couple armies covering the approaches to Stalingrad in a hedgehog way, as well as the approaches to Krasnodar
yes guys, that's perhaps the deepest hedgehog I've ever laid, 70 miles. Sure that good old von Schlieffen - or Guderian, if we look to a closer example - would have hated to find the French Army deployed like that at Sedan :-)
Wite2 - Lead Tester