From: Kinmel bay
15th August - the lower Don - carnage in/from the air
No updates this turn from the rest of the front as all is fairly quiet and no attacks are launched. Olivier seems to have withdrawn a lot of his forces again on the approach to the Don crossing before Stalingrad. The only way I could spot his tank units would be to use my airforce and I am not in a position to be able to follow up with my ground forces. I continue the advance although most units in the frontlines now begin to slow down so as to slowly recover readiness when the battles start. Olivier has achieved his aim by making me a bit cautious. In fact it reminds me all too well of my hit and run tactics as Germans when playing Olivier as Uranus. I guess he is getting a measure of revenge as I knew he found my armour elusive and annoying in those games.
So the main battles are still based around the lower Don and Rostov. Before I launch any attacks I want to clear the skies for my bombers. As per usual Olivier has his fighters ready and waiting and Luftwaffe fighters are swatted away like flies. After my previous encounters only fighter units with at least 95 readiness and 90aps go into the skies and then with a minimum of two units in each attack. They are still swamped in the air though and the final tally is 35 German fighters for 25 Soviets - not good news at this stage of the game. I have to use pps to play yet another fighter card and get another measly 25 FW190s. Along with the replacements I receive anyway it is still not enough to replace my losses.
But they do their job. With my bombers back in action, refreshed and ready to go another fortification hex is blasted away by 17th army on the route to Rostov. Losses are heavy again, but justified as longas the advance continues.
Next in line one infantry corps of 17th army supported by SS Wiking and the Slovak division are now across the river and waiting to strike south. Again thanks to my fighters' sacrifices the JU52s are able to do their job and give the units the bulk of their supplies. No attacks are made this turn, but next turn I expect to be assaulting the minor river in full.
The last part of 17th army's operations is around Konstantinskaya which is the last obstacle before the river. Another bloody fight ensues which we just win and take the town. The defenders are caught in the open and level bombers come along to decimate them further. Bloody on both sides but definitely worth it from an Axis POV. Next turn this will be another set of assaults across the Don, Olivier's southern Don defence is beginning to crumble.
Lastly, although there are no attacks this turn the movements of 1st Panzer are worth noting. Both panzer corps and most of the supporting infantry divisions reach the Don in force. I dont have any spare aircraft for recon, but initial reports from the ground forces would suggest that this is an area of possibilities, the defence does not look so strong here and even if Olivier rails in defenders it will take them at least a turn or two to get into position.
So not much in the way of attacks this turn, but having pushed across the river in several places my forces in this areas are quite vulnerable to Soviet counter attacks, especially with the amount of tank corps that seem to be defending the line. With this in mind, I come back to the earlier point about the advance slowing down in the Don bend, the reason is that I decide to concentrate all my air forces in one small area. All along 17th army's front all the Soviet armoured units and quite a few infantry units are hit by massed air attack. I had several fully rested Stuka units and the results for Soviet tanks caught in the open are quite horrific. The bomber pilots know that they have to take full advantage of the sacrifice of their fighter pilot brethren and the attacks are driven home with full force.
Once the tallies of the returning pilots are counted up it appears that 120 Soviet tanks, the majority being T34s and KVs, will be left behind on the Steppe as smoking wrecks.
With the devastation I am beginning to think it may be worth resting the majority of the dive bomber force every other turn as even successful attacks give a huge hit on readiness and the units that had rested for two whole turns repaid that rest period in full. I've also noticed that the Stuka divebombers seem to cause most damage, but the other type of divebomber unit recovers its readiness quicker, maybe they dont take as many risks as the Stuka pilots?
Finally this turn it has come to OKH's attention that the Soviet propaganda machine has started whirring out its evil lies. Obviously anything you may read about these battles elsewhere are total fabrications and the product of a desperate NKVD propaganda department
The maps this turn just show the fighting on the lower Don, one showing 17th army and one showing 1st panzer army.