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The Great Patriotic War (loki100 vs SigUp)

 
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The Great Patriotic War (loki100 vs SigUp) - 11/6/2013 9:41:19 AM   
loki100


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Outline


This game, and our AARs, came out of some testing of the game options. In the course of one of the many reality vs pushing the game engine debates, we found ourselves agreeing. In particular that it would be interesting to see what happens when you dampen down the logistic setting and whether that would help bring in a stop-start aspect to offensive operations and encourage both sides to concentrate on particular sectors.

We tested this out on the Road to Smolensk and the Moscow offensive scenarios and discovered we had (a) overdone it (we used 75%) but that (b) this seems like a good way to clamp down on the logistic model in the game without too many house rules.

From that we've decided to start a campaign. I see the thread from my esteemed opponent, but I'll repeat here what I guess is in there.

House Rules:

Mostly the usual, - no bombing of isolated Hqs, limits to the number of bombing raids per airbase.

To retain the threat of paratroop operations, but to bring this within the plausible in terms of Soviet capacity, we've agreed no drops before November 1941. One a month up to June 1942 and then unlimited. However, I can 'save' my drops, so if I don't use one, it can be used in the next month. This hopefully will create the uncertainty that plagued AGC during the 1941-2 Winter Offensive when they feared a large scale paratroop operation, even if they doubted the Red Army had the ability to do more than the small scale stuff that actually happened.

Equally around naval invasions, we wanted to remove the scope for abuse but keep the threat. So we agreed, none before November 1941, none outside the 1939 Soviet borders before January 1943 (ie it removes the threat to Rumania). In addition if Sevastopol is either isolated, or in German hands, none west of the Crimea – which reflects the scope for air/naval interdiction not really reflected in the game.

SigUp agreed to not do a Lvov pocket, I left it up to him to decide if he was going to commit extra panzers to the Ukraine or keep to the historical plan. In return, I agreed not to pull out units of SW or S Fronts from the Ukraine. I also agreed not to remove the Stavka reserve formations west of the Dniepr but I have full flexibility about 19 Army, 7 and 67 Rifle Corps (roughly the units around Cherkassy) as in reality some of these did take part in the Smolensk battles.

Options

Reduced blizzard, that hopefully should provide an incentive to fight in January-February and set up a dynamic 1942. Random weather as I find this more fun. It means you can't operate with a degree of certainty that was lacking in reality.

We set logistics at 90%. So the Germans should hit problems at key stages and equally mid/late war Soviet offensives should be more focussed and probably more likely to run out of steam. As a compensation I've set Soviet morale at 95%. From testing, this is significant in the earlier stages and should mean a slower moving German offensive doesn't stall on a wall of 15 CV rifle divisions.



Speed

Probably variable. We both have less than regular working patterns. I work freelance and it tends to be too much work or too little. So we'll play as we can, and update as regularly as possible.

I've just starting my turn 1 response, just doing the standard housekeeping stuff and trying not to panic





< Message edited by loki100 -- 11/6/2013 10:47:51 AM >
Post #: 1
Table of Contents - 11/6/2013 9:42:00 AM   
loki100


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Part 1 - The Frontier Battles June - July 1941

22 June - 25 June 1941 Don't Panic, the Boss knows all about it
26 June - 3 July 1941 Any, but forgot by victory
4 July - 10 July 1941 The eyes glaze once, and that is death
11 July - 17 July The Dead Rise not
18 July - 23 July They perished in the seamless grass
24 July - 31 July That makes no show for Dawn

Part 2 - At the Edge of Disaster August - September 1941

1 August - 8 August And many hurt; But what of that?
9 August - 15 August On this long storm, the rainbow rose
16 August - 22 August A narrow wind complains all day
22 August - 28 August Goodmorning Midnight
29 August - 4 September If not here, where?
5 September - 10 September If not now, when?
11 September - 17 September If not me, who?
18 September - 24 September Great streets of silence led away
25 September - 1 October There’ll be that dark parade

Part 3 - The Battle for Moscow, October-November 1941

2 October - 8 October First Autumn Morns
9 October - 15 October Impregnable, my Fortress?
16 October - 7 November Behind me dips eternity
8 November - 14 November Nor wheeled on roads of snow
15 November - 22 November Unto the East Again
23 November - 28 November And 'twas like Midnight
29 November - 3 December "The thunder hurried slow"

Part 4 - The Soviet counteroffensive, December 1941-March 1942

4 December - 10 December To perish or to live?
11 December - 18 December A Horror so Refined
Soviet defensive planning for 1942
19 December - 24 December When Winds take Forests in their Paws
25 December - 31 December I can look? Can't I?
1 January - 7 January You are not so fair, Midnight
8 January - 14 January It has no Future
15 - 21 January When Time is Over
22 - 28 January was like a Maelstorm
29 January - 4 February Can you lift the hasps of steel?
5 February - 11 February Set orderly, for burial
12 February - 18 February Impossible to feign
19 February - 25 February 'It was dark - before'
26 February - 4 March How Have I Peace

Part 5 - The Strategic Defensive, March - June 1942

5 March - 11 March "That dismal cry rose slowly"
12 March - 18 March "Too sullied for Hell"
19 March - 26 March "He threw a Menace at the Earth"
27 March - 1 April "The Interdicted Land"
2 April - 8 April "Remembered, if outlived"
9 April - 15 April Turn 43
March - April Overview
16 April - 5 May Poplyli tumany nad rekoj

< Message edited by loki100 -- 10/20/2014 12:29:12 PM >

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 2
RE: The Great Patriotic War (loki100 vs SigUp) - 11/6/2013 6:56:10 PM   
TulliusDetritus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: loki100
I also agreed not to remove the Stavka reserve formations west of the Dniepr but I have full flexibility about 19 Army, 7 and 67 Rifle Corps (roughly the units around Cherkassy) as in reality some of these did take part in the Smolensk battles.


In the real war Stavka sent those Reserve Armies (16, 18, 19, 20, 22 and 24 IIRC) to fight in the center though

After all, if he does not commit extra panzer hordes in the South his Center will be as strong as their historical counterparts. Which is why Stavka sent those Armies to the Center in the first place.

It's your rules though. Have fun and good hunt, tovarich

_____________________________

"Hang on, is that it...? Are we on the ring...?? Ready???" -- Nürburgring Seven Second Ring King

(in reply to loki100)
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RE: The Great Patriotic War (loki100 vs SigUp) - 11/6/2013 8:52:41 PM   
Gabriel B.

 

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16 and 19 .

18th fought in the south , and the rest were in the center to begin with.



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RE: The Great Patriotic War (loki100 vs SigUp) - 11/7/2013 10:01:38 PM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: TulliusDetritus

quote:

ORIGINAL: loki100
I also agreed not to remove the Stavka reserve formations west of the Dniepr but I have full flexibility about 19 Army, 7 and 67 Rifle Corps (roughly the units around Cherkassy) as in reality some of these did take part in the Smolensk battles.


In the real war Stavka sent those Reserve Armies (16, 18, 19, 20, 22 and 24 IIRC) to fight in the center though

After all, if he does not commit extra panzer hordes in the South his Center will be as strong as their historical counterparts. Which is why Stavka sent those Armies to the Center in the first place.

It's your rules though. Have fun and good hunt, tovarich


In truth this is all a bit of an experiment. It could spiral out of control with the view that the Germans have a better chance in 1941 and the reduced blizzard. Our gamble is that the lower logistics settings will slow their operational tempo.

In effect, this constraint on the south becomes pretty meaningless once Gomel falls as at that stage what will become Bryansk Front and SW Fronts should be in contact (unless I really want to re-enact the historical battle at Kiev).

In this case, practically 16 A is committed for the moment so my choice is what to do with 19A and the rifle corps when they unlock. Since it looks like there are two Pzr Groups in Bielorussia, I don't think I have much choice but to use them to repair the Western Front once they unlock.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gabriel B.

16 and 19 .

18th fought in the south , and the rest were in the center to begin with.


That was my understanding. What I may do is to orientate Orel MD/Bryansk Front more to the north as I want to stop a direct drive on Moscow and to do that I'll gamble on a hole around Kursk. I think that deployment, plus 19A from the Ukraine should plug the gap till Reserve Front creates itself.

(in reply to Gabriel B.)
Post #: 5
22-25 June 1941: The boss knows all about it - 11/7/2013 10:06:28 PM   
loki100


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Even as the evidence mounted of German intentions, the 'no provocation' order was strictly enforced. Here and there Soviet commanders risked their lives to make a partial deployment towards their combat positions but for the most part, ground, air and naval units remained passive. If there had been a response by the Soviet leadership it was diplomatic. Somehow they convinced themselves the escalating tensions were a mistake, even on 21 June Molotov was asking the Japanese ambassador to help smooth over 'these local difficulties' between the USSR and Germany.

Especially north of the Pripyet marshes, the Red Army was to pay a huge cost for these mistakes. The VVS lost over 2000 aircraft on the ground alone. However, across the front, Soviet aircrews continued to contest the German advance, in some sectors the only effective threat to the Panzer spearheads was intermittent Soviet interdiction efforts.

In less than 3 days, both the Western and North Western Fronts were shattered.


(Operational Map, W Front, 25 June 1941)


(Operational Map, NW Front, 25 June 1941)

On the Western Front, 32 out of 42 combat divisions were rendered incapable of further combat and the buk of 3 and 10 Armies were deep in encirclement. German panzers were at the gates of Minsk.


(W Front OOB, 25 June 1941)

North Western Front was left with only 5 combat capable formations out of the 25 divisions it notionally had available.


(NW Front OOB 25 June 1941)


Pavlov and Kuzetsov struggled to do the best they could. A semblance of a defense line was created around Pskov, on the Berezina and to protect the Dniepr crossings at Orsha.

It was only in the Ukraine were the Red Army still fielded a force to be reckoned with. Kirponos was sidelined and Stalin ordered Zhukov to take command.



Even if it was already too late to throw the Germans back across the borders, it was hoped to use the powerful 16 Army to stabilise the front near Zhitomir. The intention was to use this shield to rally the disrupted 5 Army so as to halt the Axis advance towards Kiev.


(Operational Map, SW Front, 25 June 1941)

To the south, though driven back by the Germans around Lvov-Tarnopol, 6 Army was ordered over to a limited offensive. The powerful 4 and 15 Mechanized Corps struck into the flanks. Zhukov was playing for time, as 12 and 26 Armies fell back towards Proskurov, trying to stabilise their defenses on the remnants of the 1939 border fortifications.


4 Mechanized Corps counterattack

Notionally NW and N Front deployed some 700,000 men, 2,000 tanks and almost 1000 aircraft, In practice this force was scattered across the Baltic region and only a small operational group at Pskov was ready to delay the German advance. West Front notionally deployed almost 500,000 men, 2,000 tanks and 1,000 aircraft. Of this, around 10% were actually capable of sustained combat in the coming days.


(Soviet Fronts, 25 June 1941)



< Message edited by loki100 -- 11/16/2013 2:00:32 PM >

(in reply to loki100)
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26 June - 3 July 1941: 'Any, but forgot by victory' - 11/16/2013 11:00:13 AM   
loki100


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Across the entire front the pace of the German advance continued almost unchecked. Minsk fell on 27 June, the defences on the Berezina were forced aside two days later. However, in the daily reports of lost battles, abandoned towns and the agony of the armies held in deep encirclement, there were some sources of reflief.

While the bulk of NW and N Fronts scrambled to find a defensible line and tried to dig in along the Luga and Valdai, here and there small scale counterattacks took place. Most successful was at Riga were NKVD troops overran the German airbases but were unable to regain the city [1]. This was the first warning to the invaders that nowhere was to be safe from attack.




On the Minsk-Smolensk axis two Panzer Groups were deployed. Not only did Minsk fall but the hasty defense of the Berezina was cast aside. Voronezh fell in early July. The defense on the Berezina did allow some key industry to be evacuated from Mogilev [2].



Here, at least, the Dniepr crossings were still in Soviet hands and fresh units were being urgently committed to the Smolensk sector. Stavka prioritised building up the defences on the direct road to Moscow and took a gamble of only lightly screening the German southern hook.



In the Ukraine, the Germans turned south away from Kiev. Some 12-15 divisions were encircled around Lvov, but compared to the chaos in the north and centre, Soviet operations in the Ukraine were marked by a degree of control. Wrecked divisions were sent to the rear to build defensive lines and the old Stalin Line was incorporated into the deployments of the front line armies. Zhukov built up his limited reserves on the direct road to Kiev.

The main threat here was the belief that Rumania would enter the war in the near future. With that, the entire Western Ukraine would be ablaze.



At least by early July, in some sectors, the Soviets had a semblance of a front line. Leningrad was defended by 3 defensive lines. The Pskov Operational Group (built around 1 Mechanized Corps), the Luga line (built on the redeployed 24 Army) and 45 Rifle Corps in the city and along the Neva.



The bulk of the reinforcements had been sent to the Smolensk sector. Four of the six armies in the sector were relatively fresh, the remaining two were reorganising after their losses in western Bielorussia. At least the direct road to Moscow was secure for the moment.



In the Ukraine, Zhukov sought to shorten his lines so as to create a reserve and to bring Southern Front into alignment with his defensive lines. The lack of defensible terrain and the likelihood that Rumania would join in the war, left him with no clear idea where the Germans would strike. It was expected that the formations encircled at Lvov would delay the German infantry moving up for several weeks. His main problem was that Stavka had just taken his only deep reserve and committed it to the Smolensk battles.



Slowly, the Germans were facing organised resistance. Soviet reports indicated they had lost 150 tanks compared to 70 in the opening days.

Despite the appearance of a structured defensive arrangement, except in the Ukraine, the reality was of intermixed armies and fronts. Units pulling back to refit and reorganise shared road space with formations moving to contact. The rearguard units left in contact with the German spearheads had no illusions as to their fate. This was not the RKKA's (Raboche-krest'yanskaya Krasnaya armiya) pre-war plan where they held and disrupted the offensive till Soviet armour crashed into the depleted attackers. Their fate was to hold a village for hours, a river crossing for a day, all to buy time as the main defense line solidified.

Key to this makeshift defense was the VVS(Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily). Even in the chaos of the opening phase, it underwent a major re-organisation at the command level. The pre-war strategic airforce was largely scrapped and its components allocated to the front air assets. Equally a number of airbases were destroyed to concentrate resources [3].

Instructions were issued that the VVS had two key tasks. To dispute Soviet airspace and prevent complete German dominance of the battlefield and to disrupt German columns as they moved to the front.



The VVS paid a heavy cost with 230 aircraft shot down in this period


(I-15 shot down in the Western Ukraine).

However, even units left behind in desperate rear guard actions had the re-assurance that they were not completely abandoned


(I-153s taking off to bomb German columns in the Berezina battles)

The more modern Il-2s and Pe-2s were held back for the Smolensk and Leningrad defensive operations.


(Soviet Order of Battle, 3 July 1941)

[1] – the highlight of the turn, even if it apparently only was an army recon base
[2] – I worked out I needed to move the equivalent of 3 armies by rail, so could manage this extraction of AP factories. I'm still feeling my way as to the optimal use of rail points to bring units into the line and to evacuate key factories.
[3] – ie I've been scrapping the Fleet Air Commands and the SAD airbases. At this stage, only 2 of the strategic air commands are still in operation.
[4] - more general comment, its at this stage the 95% becomes so noticeable. Units become disrupted that much easier and recover that much slower (at least one turn). So I'm sending all the units in need of refit to the rear in the hope they can recover before I really need them again, but of course this means my front lines are permanently under-resourced. From testing vs the AI, by about turn 5-6, the problem eases, and the longer term cost is that the returning units take about another turn before they are combat ready.



< Message edited by loki100 -- 11/16/2013 2:42:00 PM >

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RE: 26 June - 3 July 1941: 'Any, but forgot by victory' - 11/16/2013 3:57:23 PM   
Gabriel B.

 

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The retaking of the rail junction near Siauliai was a very good move .

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RE: 26 June - 3 July 1941: 'Any, but forgot by victory' - 11/18/2013 9:57:03 PM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Gabriel B.

The retaking of the rail junction near Siauliai was a very good move .


yes, that and my little demonstration at Riga rather cheered me up. There is a horrible feeling of being a helpless victim in these early turns and anything that looks like taking control is to be welcomed.

I often find you can do some damage with the bypassed units in that area. Whereas the Western Front pockets are usually locked down tightly, towards Riga the prize of getting over the Dauga means your bypassed units usually have some scope to move around

(in reply to Gabriel B.)
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4 – 10 July 1941: 'The eyes glaze once, and that is death' - 11/18/2013 10:00:17 PM   
loki100


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The first week in July brought a false sense of security for the battered Soviet armies. On the long front snaking from Pskov to Smolensk, along the banks of the Dniepr, in fromt of Kiev and down the Dniestr, the German onslaught slackened.

Only the most wildly optimistic believed it meant anything other than that the Germans were regrouping for their next offensive.

In the north, Pskov fell but they made no determined attempt to move towards Leningrad or east into the Valdai.


(situation in the North, 5 July 1941)

In the Centre, Mogilev was taken, eliminating the last Soviet foothold on the west bank but the Germans made no attempt to drive in the weak picket line established by 13 Army. Here, Stavka hastily sent all the reserves that could be spared in an attempt to build up a series of defense lines at Smolensk, on the upper Dniepr and the Rzhev-Vyazma line.

As at Leningrad, the local manpower was called up and organised into hastily created Militia (DNO) divisions. With few heavy weapons and no experience of combat with the Wehrmacht these were held back, helping to create the entrenchments that protected both Leningrad and Moscow.

Stavka desperately needed information on German intentions. The few available reconnaisance planes indicated the Germans were building up to attack either Smolensk or north from Vitebsk and at Mogilev, It was presumed the latter would try to disrupt the makeshift defense lines south of Smolensk. Given the limited forces available, all was being concentrated on delaying any attack eastwards, Gomel, and with it the opportunity to strike at Kursk-Bryansk or behing SW Front was screened by a few airborne brigades.


(Western Front, 5 July 1941)

The relative calm of the centre and north was absent in the Ukraine. The Germans only probed the outer rim of SW Front's defenses at Kiev and met defeat in places.



However, they struck deep down into the southern Ukraine. Briefly the bulk of 18 Army was encircled on the Dniestr. Most were able to escape and rearguards were left to prevent the Rumanians pushing forward unhindered. However, a huge gap was torn between Southern and South-Western Fronts.

To compensate, Zhukov pulled back to a ring around Kiev and started to create a defensive line along the Dniepr. Here shattered divisions were rallied and set to digging strong points.


(Ukraine, 5 July 1941)

Across the front, the Soviets were desperate for information about German intentions.
Partisan reports indicated that their main rail head was now some 20km NW of Vilnius. Leaving their spearheads some 150 km ahead of their supply bases.


(German positions after Soviet air recon campaign)

In view of this, it seemed unlikely that the Germans could risk a southern hook via Gomel. When they renewed their offensive, it would most likely create a massive battle for Smolensk and the upper Dniepr region.

In the Ukraine, similar reports indicated that their rail heads were just north of Lvov. If so, the offensive that had split S and SW Fronts had also stretched their supply lines.

Slowly a semblance of a front came together. In places it consisted of understrength rifle divisions trying to protect 20-30 kms of rough terrain. In others, there were simply huge gaps. Stavka's hope was that logistics would force the Germans to take the obvious options but the recent disaster on the Dniestr was a harsh reminder of how much the Germans were in control of the battlefield.

This in turn set off a hunt for scapegoats. Stalin sacked Shaposnikov and appointed Timoshenko as Chief of Staff.



All he could do was to wait for the next move by the Germans.

In the north, 24 and 27 Armies operated on opposite sides of Lake Ilmen. In Leningrad itself, the recently raised DNO divisions tried to create a defense lines while other units created defensive positions along the Volkhov.



Western Front was trying to create multiple lines. Three armies deployed the bulk of the combat ready forces and were set up around Smolensk and screening the Dniepr crossings. Fresh units built a third line stretching from Vyazma to Rzhev.



Following the fall of Vinnitsa and the shattering of 18 Army, SW Front pulled back towards Kiev and the Dniepr crossings.



In the south, 9 and 18 Armies tried to dig in along the Bug and Sinyukha rivers. Elements of 18 Army continued to hold the west back of the Dniestr and created a weak defense along the upper Bug. Here, distance, and poor communications were probably as much a constraint for the Germans as S Front.




(OOB, 10 July 1941)

Overall losses reflected the relative lull. The Red Army lost a further 160,000 dead (mostly in the encirclement battles in Bielorussia and the Western Ukraine). The Soviets had just under 4 million men under arms and a further 600,000 available in reserve. Equally, key factories were being evacuated both from Leningrad and in the Ukraine.

< Message edited by loki100 -- 11/18/2013 11:02:39 PM >

(in reply to loki100)
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11 - 17 July 1941: The Dead Rise Not (Turn 4) - 11/24/2013 2:30:37 AM   
loki100


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Across the long front from the Baltic to the Black Sea, Soviet fortunes varied substantially in this period.

In the far north, the Finns struck in an attempt to regain the lands they had recently lost. 7 and 23 Armies gave ground slowly but were forced back on either side of Lake Ladoga.



For 24 Army digging in along the Luga, this week was a respite. German advance guards tangled with Soviet outposts between Pskov and the Luga but there was no significant offensive.



At Smolensk, the 2 German Panzer Groups stuck eastward, encircling the bulk of 16 and 21 Armies.



Staln reacted with fury and the blame was placed on Pavlov. Kirponos, much to his surprise, found himself in charge of the West Front even as the Panzers raced east.



Pavlov's brutal end and the scale of the latest crisis saw a significant reorganisation of the Soviet command structure on the Moscow and Leningrad sectors; Vatutin took over the North Western Front now digging in along the Valdai and Koniev took over the recently raised Reserve Front guarding the road to Moscow.



Kirponos hastily ordered 4 Army to counterattack in an attempt to disrupt the German advance



(destroyed German armour)

and to his north, Koniev committed elements of 20 Army, allowing the Moscow DNO divisions to take on the defense of Vyazma.



(73rd Rifle Division in action)

The VVS committed almost all the bombers attached to North West, Reserve, West and Bryansk Fronts.

The blow particularly fell on the 12 Panzer which lost over 60 tanks as communications were re-established with 16 and 21 Armies. However, the attempt to break out of encirclement failed. Nonetheless, the Panzers were caught between a revitilised Soviet force at Smolensk and the hammer blows of the fresh 4 Army and Koniev's recently organised Reserve Front.

For the first time, in the campaign, the Red Army had taken the initiative, even if it was now inevitable that Smolensk would soon fall.



In the Ukraine, the two fate of the 2 Soviet Fronts was utterly different. At Kiev, Zhukov's SW Front faced limited pressure and slowly fell back towards the city. However, the main German effort was to the south, exploiting the gap between S and SW Fronts.



Southern Front was all but destroyed as a combat ready formation.



By 14 July it only had 8 combat capable divisions to guard the access to the Dniepr bend with its key industrial centres, Cherkassy and the direct road to Kharkov and the lower Dniepr.

Faced with the Smolensk crisis, Stavka could spare no fresh units. Zhukov was ordered to extract the powerful 16 Army from his defense lines and subordinate this to Southern Front. From reserves, and isolated units, a semblance of a defense line guarding the line Kremenchug-Zaporozh was pieced together. To the south, the Coastal Army was placed in control of the weak defenses on the lower Dniepr and the entrance to the Crimea.




(Luga-Leningrad defense)



(Dniepr-Desna defense lines)



(Lower Dniepr defense lines)


Overall the Red Army remained fragile but slowly was growing in size with some 4.3 million men under arms but had seen some 238,000 men killed, seriously wounded or taken prisoner. However, in the two weeks of July it had lost 2,500 tanks (mostly older BT7 and T-26) and the VVS had lost almost 400 aircraft. As the Soviet defenses solidified, German losses increased and in the first two weeks of July it was estimated they had lost 36,000 men, 300 tanks and 120 aircraft.


(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 11
18 July – 23 July: They perished in the seamless grass ... - 11/25/2013 10:25:58 PM   
loki100


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In the north AGN renewed its drive on Leningrad. The full force of their army group fell on 24 Army along the Luga. For several days, the makeshift line held, and in places the Germans were thrown back, but the Germans established a series of bridgeheads.


(Soviet defenses on the Luga)

With the crossings in their hands, the Panzers struck deep into 24A's rear and disrupted the hasty defense lines established by 30A.

Their spearheads were 20km south of Pushkin and Kolpino.



In an attempt to disrupt their advance, and blow the bridges over the Luga, the VVS squadrons attached to the Northern Front paid a heavy price. Across the entire front, 266 planes were lost and of these, nearly 200 were lost in this sector. The battered squadrons were mostly pulled into reserve and fresh airwings sent to reinforce Leningrad.

At Smolensk, the Germans re-organised after their advance units had been driven in. 12 divisions were now trapped and ordered to hold the city as long as they could. Every day the pocket resisted meant that Reserve and Western Fronts had more time to bring up reinforcements and improve their defense lines along the Dniepr.



In the south, the Germans tried to force the Dniepr north of Kremenchug. Here, the Soviet positions were probably better protected by the breadth of the river than the number of defenders and a single weakened Cavalry division held a key crossing till 16 Army had a chance to recover and quickly reinforce the threatened zone.



16 Army's response had been slow as, yet again, Stalin vented his rage on the Soviet military hierachy. This time Cherevichenko was sacked and Kuznetsov, recently removed from command in the North West, found himself back in command.



Since the opening day of the war, the Red Army had lost just over 1 million men, almost 10,000 tanks and 3,600 planes. It was estimated that Germans and their allies had lost 90,000 men, 650 AFVs and 350 aircraft.



Despite these losses, the notional strength of the Red Army was some 4.4 million men. The bulk were allocated to the four fronts guarding the line from Leningrad to Moscow with almost 2 million under arms. The Ukrainian Fronts had just over 1 million [1] as Stavka allocated almost all available reinforcements to the north and centre. The balance of the army was grouped into either the Stavka reserve armies forming up in the Moscow sector or scattered across the Soviet Union. Hastily raised divisions were undergoing limited training even as the means to equip them was steadily dropping.

Reserve manpower was down to 171,000 from 573,000 at the start of July. The situation for armanents was even worse with reserves down to 1.2 million compared to 2.2 million at the start of the month. The need to re-equip fresh formations and replace the losses in the battles that were raging from the outskirts of Leningrad to lower Dniepr was pushing the Soviet state to the limit.



The relative importance attached to the north was reflected in the existence of at least the semblance of a front line and, in places, reserve formations. NW Front was the weakest, but had not faced any major German attacks since the end of June.

To the south, SW Front held the central Dniepr and Kiev. Although battered, it had over 800 tanks and 500 aircraft. At Kiev, German infantry were slowly pushing their way into the defenses of 5 and 26 Armies, inflicting heavy losses but offering no major threat. However, between SW Front and the Bryansk Front lay the 'Chernigov Gap'. Here there was not even the semblance of a front, just isolated units trying to hold key towns and communications junctions.

To its south, the powerful 16 Army held the the line of the Dniepr but 6 Army was weak, having lost heavily in the retreat across the Western Ukraine. The other two armies of South Front had been badly battered and from 9 Army to the gates of the Crimea no effective Soviet forces existed.





[1] N Caucasus MD has command of the units in the Crimea.

< Message edited by loki100 -- 11/25/2013 11:28:08 PM >

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Post #: 12
24-31 July 1941: 'that makes no show for dawn' (turn 6) - 11/29/2013 3:09:41 PM   
loki100


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Overall updates

The final week of July saw a significant shift in the tempo of the fighting. On hand, losses for both sides increased with this being the bloodiest week in July for both armies and Soviet tank losses escalated as a number of powerful formations were thrown into the battles. On the other hand, the fighting became much more concentrated into four specific sectors. Other sectors of the long battle line were mostly quiet.

However, the German armoured spearheads made significant gains and created a series of crises for the Soviets.

In the north, they reached the edge of Lake Ladoga, firmly splitting Leningrad from the rest of the USSR and breaking the Northern Front into two distinct operating groups.



In the centre, the Smolensk pocket was eliminated along with another 100,000 Soviet troops but more worrying was that 39 Panzer and 8 Infantry Corps pushed across the upper Dniepr in 21 Army's sector. Equally the southern Panzer forces had taken no part in destroying the Smolensk pocket and would presumably be committed into the sector where Reserve and Western Front formations protected the southern flank of Vyazma.



In the Ukraine, the fighting was concentrated in two sectors. Around Kiev, German infantry operated without armoured support and took heavy losses as they forced elements of 5 and 26 Armies back into the city itself.

The pressure was intense and a number of Soviet formations had to be sent to the rear to recover, but Zhukov remained confident that there was no fear of a major breakthrough on this sector.

The real crisis was south of Cherkassy where 46 Panzer Corps and supporting units had breached the Dniepr. 9 and 10 Panzer divisions and SS Wiking were across the river and another 4 Motorised Divisions (DR, LAH SS motorised, Gross-Deutschland and 25 motorised) were ready to cross.



From here, they could threaten the rear of the forces at Kiev, drive NE towards Kharkov or swing East to complete the destruction of the Soviet forces in the lower Dniepr region. Zhukov's four armies were fully committed but Southern Front's 16 Army still had substantial numbers of tanks.

3 divisions, backed by most of the airpower in SW and S Front [1], crashed into the flank of SS Wiking which was finally driven in disorder back across the Dniepr.



Relying on T-26s and BT-7s, Soviet tank losses were appalling, but for the moment the German advance was checked.


(BT7 of 13 Tank Division in action)

Partisan War

With the Germans over the Dniepr in critical sectors, opening the roads to Moscow, Kharkov and the Dombas, Soviet attention switched to any means to slow their advances. Soviet intelligence reports indicated their rail heads were at Tarnopol in the Ukraine, Vilnius and just over the Estonian border west of Pskov. They were clearly operating at the practical extent of their supply lines. With this, Stavka formally instituted a campaign of partisan warfare [2]. At the start this was concentrated in Bielorussia and Western Russia and mostly in conjunction with Red Army units that had escaped encirclement.



The VVS was ordered to fly in supplies and NKVD sabotage squads. Stalin intended to make the whole of the occupied regions of the USSR into an active war zone.


(Soviet partisans in operation)

OOB on key sectors (end of July)

Despite the heavy losses, overall Soviet combat strength remained at around 4.4 million. Northern Front was allocated reinforcements to fill out the Volkhov Line and a new army (32) was activated to hold the region to the north of 24 Army. Despite this the effective manpower of the Front dropped by 75,000 and 600 AFVs as the pre-war tank divisions had taken heavy losses trying to prevent the Germans reaching Lake Ladoga.

Despite the losses at Smolensk, Western and Reserve Fronts still had 1 million men guarding the approaches to Moscow. In addition, Stavka was creating a number of reserve formations that could be fed into the battle as needed or kept back for a major counter-attack.



On the key sectors, Stavka mostly ordered Soviet forces to stand fast. At Leningrad, it was accepted that the ring of German units was too strong to allow an effective attack so the Northern Front fell back on the Volkhov



In the centre, there was no longer any scope to give ground. If the Germans took Rzhev and Vyazma then the road to Moscow was wide open. The front line armies had to hold long enough to allow Stavka to bring up the reserves.



In the south, SW and S Fronts were ordered to hold the Dniepr line as long as possible. Although the German bridgehead was dangerous, it was suspected that they lacked fuel and supplies. At the least, they needed to capture the rail crossings at Cherkassy before the Panzers could risk an offensive deep into the eastern Ukraine. At worst, holding the Germans on the current front allowed more time to evacuate the key factories from Kharkov and the Dombas.



July Summary

Overall July had seen the Germans advance from Pskov to the Lake Ladoga, from Vitebsk to cross the Dniepr at Durovo and from Tarnopol to the gates of Kiev and across the Dniepr south of Cherkassy.

In trying to delay this, Soviet losses were 500,000 men, 4,500 tanks and 1,000 aircraft. It was estimated the Germans had lost 80,000 men, 600 tanks and 240 aircraft.

Overall, the Red Army had grown slightly from 3.9 million to 4.5 million but its armoured force had been wrecked. Only 5,500 remained compared to 9,000 at the start of the month. The VVS had fared better, as it now deployed 3,900 aircraft at forward bases compared to 3,500 at the start of the month.

The real problem was the loss of industrial capacity. Many factories had been evacuated even as the Germans reached the outskirts and it would take time to bring them back into full production. The result was reserves of armanents dropped from 2.1 million to under 1 million.

Manpower, too, was in short supply as the Soviets raced to replenish losses in the front line formations and bring reserve units into the field. At the start of July, reserves had been 573,000 and were now down to 131,000. The only area where there was no immediate crisis was in terms of trucks. The reserve pool had steadily grown from 200,000 to 300,000.



[1] – 3 bombing raids before the attack went in
[2] – historically planning for this was stopped in the 1930s as, of course, under 'Great Stalin's' leadership the borders of the USSR would never be breached.

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 13
RE: 24-31 July 1941: 'that makes no show for dawn' (tur... - 11/29/2013 3:48:52 PM   
Pelton

 

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Very nice thread pictures add to the feel of it.

You need to try and hold Leningrad as long as possible. North doesn't look good so far, but Germany has thrown in the kitchen sink.

Your defences around Moscow look solid already, key to holding on.

Also your doing good in the south, if you can keep him from crossing in forse until turn 8 you should have all your arm pts out.

I say you have the upper hand so far, good job.

_____________________________

GHC
22 - 4 - 8

15 games ended in 41 (15-0-0)
7 games ended in 42 (5-0-2)
8 games ended in 43 (2-3-3)
4 games ended in 44 (0-1-3)


General Cheesefinder of WitW

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DiSQ36zfWk

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Post #: 14
RE: 24-31 July 1941: 'that makes no show for dawn' (tur... - 12/4/2013 9:51:55 PM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Pelton

Very nice thread pictures add to the feel of it.

You need to try and hold Leningrad as long as possible. North doesn't look good so far, but Germany has thrown in the kitchen sink.

Your defences around Moscow look solid already, key to holding on.

Also your doing good in the south, if you can keep him from crossing in forse until turn 8 you should have all your arm pts out.

I say you have the upper hand so far, good job.


Thank you.

My feeling is that SigUp has decided he is going to take Leningrad in 41 and is prepared to sacrifice other goals if needed. Sensible as it frees the Finns and with the reduced winter, it means he can hold a decent line, setting things up for a bit of drama in 42.

So far I think I've only lost a few APs, I'll lose some more in the next turn or so (unless mud arrives) but I've got everything out of the lower Dniepr region and have started on Kharkov, Tula and Stalino.

Given the logistic constraint, I think he's done exceptionally well. As in the next post, what SigUp is doing is lots of small pockets but they are well built. In turn the 95% malus for me, means I can't yet build the stacks of rifle divisions that can dislodge the Panzers, so its a case of trying to wear him down slowly.

(in reply to Pelton)
Post #: 15
1 – 8 August: And many hurt; But what of that? (turn 7) - 12/4/2013 10:00:40 PM   
loki100


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The start of August brought more disasters for the Soviet forces. In the far north, the Germans tightened their noose around Leningrad, on the Moscow front they struck at the juncture of Reserve and West fronts, threatening to outflank the Rzhev-Vyazma line and in the Ukraine Kiev fell.

In the north, the Germans were clearly intent on capturing Leningrad. The rest of Popov's Northern Front was left untouched apart from the fierce fighting at Novgorod.



In the Moscow sector, a fresh crisis erupted. This time the Panzers struck at the juncture of Reserve, West and Bryansk Fronts. 10 Divisions, including the bulk of 4 and 19 Armies and elements of 13 and 20 Armies were trapped behind a steel ring.



Faced with the prospect of a southern hook towards Moscow, Stavka took urgent measures. 3 Army was ordered out of reserve to plug the gap, but more importantly, Zhukov was recalled from the Ukraine to take command of West Front and Sokolovsky took command of the 13 Army.



In the Ukraine, Kiev fell in bitter fighting


(Soviet air recon images of Kiev after the battle)

In the meantime the Germans expanded their bridgehead over the Dniepr. Perhaps mindful of the bruising counterattacks by 16 Army, they were more cautious but now sat almost across the line of retreat for the bulk of SW Front.



To the south, Odessa fell and German columns broke across the lower Dniepr, almost reaching Zaporozhye. Fortunately they failed to cut the rail to the Crimea, allowing the evacuation of more critical factories.



Across the whole front, reports came in of defeat and new crises. In a desperate desire for heroes who could stiffen the resistance, the Soviet press trumpeted the performance of various fighter squadrons on the Moscow Front. Outnumbered 5-1 by German fighters, they pressed home attacks on the bombers tormenting the Red Army. If not a victory by any conventional means, these represented an example of the defiance that would be needed if Leningrad and Moscow were to be saved.




(Mig 3s in action over Yelnya)

However, propaganda victories did not alter the desperate situation on the southern edge of the Moscow defences. Around Rzhev, the Soviet line was relatively strong and even had limited reserves. In the south, West Front was trying to hold the open terrain along the Ugra while Byransk Front had just lost one of its two armies. The danger existed of an offensive aimed straight at Moscow or the Germans swing south at Bryansk and Orel. If Orel fell, then one of the major South-North rail connections would be broken.



In the Ukraine, Stavka reluctantly authorised a major withdrawal. The intention was to bring the northern wing of SW Front into contact with the Bryansk Front and fill the gaping hole in the Soviet front lines. Equally, in co-operation with S Front, the intent was to delay any threat to Kharkov. A string of rearguards were left to delay the Germans at key crossing points.



The fear was that with the loss of the Dniepr, there were no effective barriers to the Panzers edging towards Poltava. They could drive north into the rear of SW Front, North East towards Kharkov or East to the Donets.

Both Cherevichenko (who had taken control of SW Front) and Kuznetsov pleaded for reserves. Timoshenko simply passed on Stalin's message – 'use local resources', not only were all the fresh formations being fed into the Moscow battles but so was almost all the replacement manpower. Stavka was aware that only 120,000 men were available to fill the gaping holes torn in West and Bryansk Front in the recent battles.

Overall, the available manpower remained static at around 4.5 million and of these around 2 million were committed to the defense of Moscow. Even here, critical gaps existed as Reserve Front had all but lost all its tanks and most of what were left were T-26s and BT-7s.



Both sides lost heavily in the various battles. In most sectors, the Red Army had no option but to stand and fight. Soviet losses were over 80,000 men, 600 tanks and nearly 400 aircraft. The Germans lost almost 30,000 men, 140 tanks and 115 aircraft. Every where, the Germans held the initiative as Stavka allocated its limited resources to the critical battles where the Red Army battled German spearheads only 150 km west of Moscow.

< Message edited by loki100 -- 12/4/2013 11:14:51 PM >

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Post #: 16
8 – 14 August: On this long storm, the rainbow rose (Tu... - 12/5/2013 9:43:33 PM   
loki100


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From mid-June to the first week of August, European Russia had seen unusually fine and settled weather. Soldiers of both sides had suffered with thirst due to the heat and dust. On the night of 8 August the first of a series of weather fronts passed over European Russia. Suddenly both armies were trapped in a sea of mud and almost all major combat operations ceased.

The main exception was the destuction of 4 and 19 Armies and a localised push to test the Rzhev defences. Another 110,000 Soviet soldiers were marched into captivity but extracted a heavy price from the Germans who lost 21,000 men and 90 tanks.

Stavka took full advantage of the respite. It was not only on propaganda posters that the virtues of the shovel were praised.


(roughly translates as 'the spade is the soldier's friend)

Closer to Moscow the population were sent out to improve the defense lines being constructed in case the Germans managed to breach the Rzhev-Vyazma line.


(Digging trenches near Moscow)

Everywhere across the long front, Stavka was aware of threats. In the far north, it seemed logical that the Germans would seek to capture Leningrad and then either push North and North-West Fronts back or send the bulk of their army to the Moscow sector.

At Moscow, it seemed that Reserve Front was well dug in on its current defensive line and that any attacks would be led by the German infantry now reaching the front lines. The fear was a substantial commitment of the two Panzer Groups against West and Bryansk Fronts. However, there were not enough men to both improve the defense on the direct road to Moscow and to reinforce those two.

In the Ukraine, the Germans had the potemtial to strike in almost any direction but it was expected they would aim for to capture the industrial centres of Kharkov and the Dombas




(Black arrows are my estimates of where the main German attacks are likely)

Faced with demands across the front, Stavka continued to send almost all reinforcements and replacements to the Moscow sector. The Moscow Military District was given command of both the units creating the final defense lines and the 34 Army. The latter was Stavka's last uncommitted reserve on a front stretching from Lake Ladoga to the Sea of Azov.

The two northern fronts had 1.2 million men under arms (of which 150,000 were defending Leningrad). The four fronts (Reserve, West, Bryansk and Moscow) at Moscow had 1.5 million men, 16,000 guns and 1,700 aircraft. The three Ukrainian Fronts (SW, S and N Caucasus) had 1.3 million men but had to cover over 50% of the entire front. It was only at Leningrad and Moscow that the Red Army even had the semblance of a defense in depth and both local and strategic reserves.



Manpower reserves dipped as low as 140,000 and available armanents were only just over 400,000.



Attachment (1)

< Message edited by loki100 -- 12/5/2013 10:47:11 PM >

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Post #: 17
15 – 21 August: A Narrow Wind complains All Day (Turn 9) - 12/8/2013 10:13:48 PM   
loki100


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As the ground dried after the storms, the German offensive renewed on 3 main sectors. In the north, Leningrad was now facing a critical danger.



Here a powerful German force had crossed the eastern end of the Neva and all but captured the vital port of Osinovets.

On the Moscow axis the two Panzer Groups had tried to encircle Vyazma. The result was some of the bloodiest fighting of the war to date. Koniev had long expected such an assault and the Germans found themselves enmeshed in multiple defense lines.



In a week of bitter fighting they made little over 20 miles of progress for a cost of some 20,000 men and 100 tanks.


(Soviet snipers in 21 Army sector)

In the Ukraine, they cut off the rearguards of SW Front near Poltava and broke through the weak picket line of S Front.



In response to its earlier losses, the VVS had altered its operational doctrine. In particular the goal was to ensure that Soviet fighters were concentrated on key operations rather than trying to intercept every German mission.



Given the intense air activity as both sides committed their airforce at Leningrad and Moscow the result was an escalation of losses on both sides. 76 German and 329 Soviet aircraft were shot down but the VVS struck hard at the German spearheads around Vyazma.


(SB2 in action near Vyazma)

Stavka's response was strangely muted. Popov had expected to be ordered over to the offensive now that Leningrad was under threat. Instead two of his best commanders were ordered to the Moscow sector and he found that his front had been decreed a secondary sector [1]. Those who had served in the Civil War contrasted Stalin's apparent indifference to the fate of Leningrad with Trotsky's active defense of Petrograd in 1919.

At Moscow, Koniev took advantage of his multiple defense lines and sought to hold as far forward as possible even as a new line was created to his rear. Behind this lay the main Moscow defense line and a final line snaking through the city's suburbs.

Given the German railhead had now reached Vitebsk, Stavka was content to see the Panzers embroiled in a vicious battle in the woods and marshes around Vyazma. While caught up on Koniev's defense lines there was less of a risk of them outflanking Moscow to the south.


(again the black arrows are what I suspect the Germans will do)

In the Ukraine, SW Front was ordered to redeploy its 5 Army to shore up the Bryansk Front's southern sector. In turn S Front was concentrated to defend Kharkov. N Caucasus Front mostly fielded inexperienced units in the Donets and the Coastal Army guarding the Crimea.



Having starved the Ukraine of replacements, it was inevitable that none of the fronts could do much beyond try to slow the German advance. Partisan reports indicated the German railheads were still at Proskurov, just over the 1939 Soviet borders. The three Ukrainian Fronts had 1.2 million to guard a line running from just south of Bryansk to Stalino and then into the Crimea.

Despite the weakness of the Soviet position there were grounds for some optimism. The length of the supply lines must be hindering German operations and the lunge for Stalino meant the bulk of their motorised units were either committed or still caught up in the Poltava battles.

Given that the 2 Panzer Groups of AGC were also committed, for the moment, Stavka believed it had forced the Germans to commit fully to their current operations. The new fear was that if Leningrad fell, a substantial number of German units would be freed to support the attempt to capture Moscow.

Overall, even as the fighting intensified. the Soviet forces still fielded around 4.5 million men.
As ever, such fresh units as were available were being sent to the Moscow sector along with nearly all the available replacements.



Slowly the overall manpower reserve was improving from 65,000 at the end of July to 180,000 by mid-August. The problem was in terms of industrial output. Although little had been lost [2], the disruption of relocation to the Urals and Siberia meant production was dropping and only 350,000 (compared to 500,000 at the end of July) arm points were available.



[1] To channel replacements, N Cauc, S and SW Fronts are all on 60-80% TOE, now that Leningrad is doomed, I've done the same to the Northern Front.
[2] I think about 10 Arm. Factories so far, I guess the Stalino ones are now lost.
[3] I would be very grateful for mud on the Moscow sector this turn ... please

< Message edited by loki100 -- 12/9/2013 8:11:59 PM >

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Post #: 18
RE: 15 – 21 August: A Narrow Wind complains All Day (Tu... - 12/9/2013 6:09:55 PM   
jwolf

 

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quote:

Given the German railhead had now reached Voronezh


Can't be true.  Vitebsk?  Or maybe Velikie Luki?

BTW I am very much enjoying both your AAR and SigUp's from the other side.  One thing I would be keen to see, where appropriate, is your opinion on the impact of the reduced logistic setting as the game proceeds, and particularly when the initiative shifts to your side during the first winter (I am guessing it doesn't matter so much for the defensive side, but correct me if not).

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Post #: 19
RE: 15 – 21 August: A Narrow Wind complains All Day (Tu... - 12/9/2013 7:21:06 PM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: jwolf

quote:

Given the German railhead had now reached Voronezh


Can't be true.  Vitebsk?  Or maybe Velikie Luki?

BTW I am very much enjoying both your AAR and SigUp's from the other side.  One thing I would be keen to see, where appropriate, is your opinion on the impact of the reduced logistic setting as the game proceeds, and particularly when the initiative shifts to your side during the first winter (I am guessing it doesn't matter so much for the defensive side, but correct me if not).



Yep, got me Vs mixed up ...

For me so far, the logistic issue hasn't hit, what I am suffering for is the 95% morale. Doesn't sound a lot but its a complete turn on the cycle from a reinforcement coming back as a shell to be being useable (ie morale around 42-44) on the front lines. I'm also getting a lot more disrupted from intense combat, so again a lot more rotating in/out the fronts.

I've only played SigUp using dampened logistics (we tested Road to Smolensk and the expanded Moscow scenarios at 75%), so I'm not sure if he is a methodical player by choice or by constraint. Apart from that raid on Stalino, most of what he does is close to the front lines, so I get (or as in the last post, just avoid) a lot of army sized encirclements but nothing that cuts loose deep into my rear.

I'm assuming he has no choice (judging by our email correspondence) and that the setting is having the impact we wanted. We both wanted a contested 1941 (ok I have fallen back radically in the Ukraine but only after he took Kiev the hard way) without lots of house rules to get that effect. In the Moscow scenario, I found it crippling in trying to maintain a Soviet counterattack, which is one reason why we decided that 75% is great vs AI but too brutal for PBEM.

Seems to be working, and my morale problems are the quid pro quo, otherwise I suspect by about now the front would just congeal with high value rifle divisions able to maim isolated Panzers.

And, very good to see you over here

(in reply to jwolf)
Post #: 20
RE: 15 – 21 August: A Narrow Wind complains All Day (Tu... - 12/9/2013 7:25:40 PM   
Stuyvesant

 

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I'm equally enjoying this and quaking in fear at the sheer size of this game. :) With the caveat that I don't know the first thing about how WitE works, two observations: Leningrad is dead in the water (even moreso, it seems, than when you did that Northern Front-only AAR a while back) and the invading Hun seems ready to kick in the door at Stalino. Now is not a good time to be the Soviet Union, it appears.

Good luck. I hope you get (have gotten) the mud you're wishing for. Looking forward to more.

PS: Hi jwolf! Fancy meeting you over here! :)

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Post #: 21
RE: 15 – 21 August: A Narrow Wind complains All Day (Tu... - 12/9/2013 7:41:51 PM   
Bozo_the_Clown


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quote:

BTW I am very much enjoying both your AAR and SigUp's from the other side.


Same here. I really like the intermixing of real life pictures.

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Post #: 22
RE: 15 – 21 August: A Narrow Wind complains All Day (Tu... - 12/9/2013 7:57:36 PM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Stuyvesant

I'm equally enjoying this and quaking in fear at the sheer size of this game. :) With the caveat that I don't know the first thing about how WitE works, two observations: Leningrad is dead in the water (even moreso, it seems, than when you did that Northern Front-only AAR a while back) and the invading Hun seems ready to kick in the door at Stalino. Now is not a good time to be the Soviet Union, it appears.

Good luck. I hope you get (have gotten) the mud you're wishing for. Looking forward to more.

PS: Hi jwolf! Fancy meeting you over here! :)


And welcome to you too ... I was just off to add to the emerging tale of how Italy stole all of America's resources ...

In the campaign, Leningrad is doomed if a German player really wants it. The advantage is it massively shortens their front (from about 17 to 12 hexes) and they can use the Finns to hold part of that line. So that not only lets AGN's Panzers go off somewhere else but I guess about 2 of the 4 infantry corps on this sector.

The solution is a radical two step with SW Front to build up on this sector so the Germans have to wade through a sea of rifle divisions. We agreed, as part of kicking this off realistically, that I wouldn't pull much out the Ukraine (just what historically the Soviets committed at Smolensk). On reflection I missed a trick, its useful to make the Germans pay at the Luga (it costs for zone of control, river crossing and swamps) but the better line is the hills just south of Leningrad. I reckon I should have made that my main line, it would probably have held another turn.

I don't think he can do much more at Stalino. There are a mass of cavalry divisions down there, too weak to fight but ideal for chopping up extended lines of communication and I still hold the Crimea. He must be on about 30 hexes from his railhead.

I'm happy enough with my factory evacuation management, I knew I would lose one of the 'big 3' (Stalino, Kharkov, Tula) and probably something of another. The cost has been in terms of operational movement. I'm sort of trading trouble now for rewards in late 1942.

Moscow is now key. He has about 8 turns before the autumn mud and will lose one of them to a random mud event. My logic is it will take 2-3 turns to reduce my Vyazma-Rzhev line (I guess Rzhev will be hit by forces freed by the fall of Leningrad). I have a weak line just behind the current front but in poor terrain that is another 1-2 turns. A good line just in front of Moscow that will stand 2-3 turns and a final line immediately at the city. Then the city has its own fortifications.

I think I am safe (just).

As in the posts, my fear is a southern hook. But there are 4 armies of W Front in echelon there, none of any real merit but all will cost him time. And a lot of cavalry (in deep reserve or on the flanks). If the German infantry are still tangled with Reserve Front, I think that means a deep armour penetration is at risk of being cut off.

Great fun, but hugely depressing every time I get a turn back

quote:

ORIGINAL: Bozo_the_Clown

quote:

BTW I am very much enjoying both your AAR and SigUp's from the other side.


Same here. I really like the intermixing of real life pictures.


Thank you, it does sort of add to the fun of writing. I've found a few good sites, some are in (mostly) Russian but have images of less famous Soviet aircraft and a great one on the Soviet navy. I also have an obsession with images of Soviet traffic police, but I won't upset Stuyvesant by mentioning that ...

< Message edited by loki100 -- 12/9/2013 9:03:11 PM >

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Post #: 23
RE: 15 – 21 August: A Narrow Wind complains All Day (Tu... - 12/10/2013 1:34:07 PM   
jwolf

 

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quote:

Moscow is now key.


That certainly makes sense.  It will be very interesting to see how you and SigUp react to each other as he begins to attack the Moscow defenses.  He might have just enough time to get it during the snow turns, especially if the random October weather isn't quite as muddy as you would wish for.

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 24
RE: 15 – 21 August: A Narrow Wind complains All Day (Tu... - 12/14/2013 5:52:26 PM   
loki100


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Joined: 10/20/2012
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quote:

ORIGINAL: jwolf

quote:

Moscow is now key.


That certainly makes sense.  It will be very interesting to see how you and SigUp react to each other as he begins to attack the Moscow defenses.  He might have just enough time to get it during the snow turns, especially if the random October weather isn't quite as muddy as you would wish for.



I think I've managed to derail him for one turn by undoing his gains in his segment with an effective counterattack.

The other thing that is in my mind is the reduced blizzard. I reckon that on one sector the Germans can fight back hard, so I'll probably take no more than 4-5 hexes in December and then see a stalemate. So if he is at the gates of Moscow, the front will probably end up where it is now (ish). Not the most reassuring place to start the summer of 1942 ...

(in reply to jwolf)
Post #: 25
21 – 28 August: Goodmorning Midnight (turn 10) - 12/14/2013 5:53:53 PM   
loki100


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Across the entire front, German pressure on the Red Army mounted. In the north, almost inevitably, the defences at Leningrad cracked.



Only the 43rd and 115th Rifle Divisions held out as organised formations having retreated into the northern sector of the city blowing the Neva bridges behind them.


(The Admiralty Clock after the initial German assaults).

Fearing that the Finns would outflank the Volkhov line from the north, Stavka authorised a major redeployment of the Northern Front. Tolbukhin's 24 Army fell back to prepared positions along the Msta defending the flank of NW Front. The rest of the front held a line in the marshes and low hills stretching from Nebolochi to Voznesanya on Lake Onega [1].

In the Ukraine, the Germans tried to eliminate the Poltava pocket using their infantry as they pulled some of their armour out of the line. Here Soviet resistance was sufficient to prevent any immediate advance towards Kharkov or Kursk.

In the south, they took N Caucasus Front by surprise as they pushed over the Mius towards Rostov.



50 Army tried to take advantage of their over-extension but the strung out 25 Motorised Division managed to hold a critical portion of the line [2]. Nonetheless Soviet mobile units struck deep into the communications of 48 Panzer and re-established supply lines to Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhye.

Given the weak state of most Soviet formations in the south, the main hope was that the Germans were now badly over-extended and fully committed. Panzers had been spotted in reserve west of Poltava and it was presumed they would attack Kharkov in the coming week.

However, the battles at Vyazma drew most attention. 57 and 39 Panzer Corps managed to encircle the bulk of 20 Army and 33 Army in a pocket as they clawed their way through the Soviet defense lines. Facing a crisis that could have swept away Reserve Front's southern wing, Stavka reacted.



Almost every available bomber was used on the German 28 and 161 Infantry Divisions that sealed the northern edge of the pocket. Koniev then committed 21 Army to break in and ordered 33 Army to break out.


[3]

In consequence the planned breakout failed but a vital supply line was opened to the Vyazma units meaning that 3 German panzer corps were pinned between the Vyazma group and the main defense lines.


(21 Army attack)

Despite this respite, the situation at Moscow remained desparate. VVS recon flights could find no trace of the Panzers previously in action at Leningrad. It was assumed these were heading to the vital Moscow battles along with some of the German assault divisions that had done so much damage.

To improve the protection on Moscow's southern flank 34 Army was released from Stavka reserve and allocated to the Western Front. Koniev drew heavily on the reserves of the Moscow region to rebuild his southern flank. In turn 30 Army, previously involved in the Leningrad battle, took up blocking positions at Moscow having been allocated all the reserve formations from the Northern Front [4]



There seemed little doubt that September was going to see critical battles in the Moscow sector [5]



Losses for both sides matched the intensity of the fighting. The disaster at Leningrad saw another 160,000 prisoners taken and overall the Soviets lost almost 200,000 men, 700 tanks and 320 aircraft. German losses were 34,000 men, 190 tanks and 90 aircraft.

Overall the Soviet armed forces still had 4.5 million men in arms but reserves were increasingly short. Manpower was down to 175,000 and AP to little over 300,000.



[1] – Cherepovets is the only important target in that sector as a valuable source of manpower. My assumption is there will be no serious attempt to take it given the fragility of the Finnish army.
[2] – 3-2 in terms of shown CV, plus massed airstrikes failed dismally
[3] The breakout I think shows that there is a definite gain in the combat engine for attacking en masse. In effect, rather nicely, it does simulate that 'quantity has its own quality'.
[4] – my plan is multiple defense lines, strongly held for Reserve Front, weak but deep for Western Front. I hope to do enough damage to AGC in the current battles that the units from AGN replace rather than reinforce them. There is some grounds for this optimism given that the displayed CV for most infantry divisions is 6-7 and some as low as 4.
[5] – I also don't expect the infantry from AGN to be in action for 3 weeks. They will have to march most of the way as the German railheads are at Luga and Smolensk (both linear tracks with no side connections). An alternative is they may be used to dislodge NW Front from its well built up defences in the Valdai where so far pressure has been limited.
[6] – should stress with the reduced blizzard, I am not going to regain a great deal of ground at Moscow if the Germans fight here. So its not just about holding them away from Moscow till the autumn rains, I am worried about 1942 (if I survive that long)

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 26
RE: 21 – 28 August: Goodmorning Midnight (turn 10) - 12/16/2013 3:51:09 PM   
jwolf

 

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I'm amazed you were able to open that pocket at Vyazma.  I would have thought your troops were hopelessly trapped.  Kudos for a very well planned counterattack, and I am deeply curious how SigUp will react.

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 27
RE: 21 – 28 August: Goodmorning Midnight (turn 10) - 12/16/2013 8:25:48 PM   
Stuyvesant

 

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Lord! I just realized it's only August! Leningrad has fallen (well, effectively it's dead, anyway), the Germans are essentially pushing over the white picket fence around Moscow's front lawn... I realize that the fall mud will be here shortly, but boy, this looks grim.

Still, your (temporary?) success at Vyazma should throw a spanner in the works. For a bit, at least.

If the Germans can redeploy their Panzers from AGN to the Moscow front, will they be able to use them effectively, or will the supply constraints be too much for them? And how long does it take in this game to fix/upgrade a poor supply line? In other words: could the Germans spend the fall and winter building up a supply network that would be strong enough to support a very heavy push on Moscow in 1942?

(in reply to jwolf)
Post #: 28
RE: 21 – 28 August: Goodmorning Midnight (turn 10) - 12/16/2013 10:26:38 PM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: jwolf

I'm amazed you were able to open that pocket at Vyazma.  I would have thought your troops were hopelessly trapped.  Kudos for a very well planned counterattack, and I am deeply curious how SigUp will react.


There has been a fair bit of discussion on the main forum about this. In effect, the on counter CV is rather indicative than accurate. In this case, sheer mass, on the attack, yields an improved combat odds for the Soviets. Then there is an odd in-game rule of giving the Soviets +1 shift in odds at the end (so 1-1 becomes 2-1 etc). So what looks like a doomed 4 vs 6, becomes a decent 3-1 (I actually reran that combat as a test after sending the turn) and got an even better result, so its not a wild fluke. Add to that, I think the German infantry in AGC is exhausted and pre combat bombing disrupted them.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Stuyvesant

Lord! I just realized it's only August! Leningrad has fallen (well, effectively it's dead, anyway), the Germans are essentially pushing over the white picket fence around Moscow's front lawn... I realize that the fall mud will be here shortly, but boy, this looks grim.

Still, your (temporary?) success at Vyazma should throw a spanner in the works. For a bit, at least.

If the Germans can redeploy their Panzers from AGN to the Moscow front, will they be able to use them effectively, or will the supply constraints be too much for them? And how long does it take in this game to fix/upgrade a poor supply line? In other words: could the Germans spend the fall and winter building up a supply network that would be strong enough to support a very heavy push on Moscow in 1942?


You've obv been reading the next update even as I write, for that was exactly the point I was going to make.

My stunt around Vyazma has bought me 1 week (ie they will get finished off next turn). I am due one non-autumn mud turn at Moscow (now please ). There is a build up of motorised (and I guess Pzr but my recon isn't good enough) just south of Vyazma that I guess is the AGN mobile units and I guess are going for Tula and Moscow's south flank.

More generally, I need to hold SigUp as far west of Moscow as I can, partly to secure the city this year, but also I don't want to start the German 1942 offensive when they are 4 hexes from the city. It is going to become very congested I fear.

< Message edited by loki100 -- 12/16/2013 11:31:42 PM >

(in reply to jwolf)
Post #: 29
29 August – 4 September 1941: If not here, where? (turn... - 12/16/2013 10:34:05 PM   
loki100


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At the end of August, the tempo of ground combat briefly dropped. On a line from Rzhev and along the Desna, German infantry made slow inroads. Bryansk was cleared of Soviet defenders a second time. This time the Soviet response was more muted, 33 Army made one last attempt to break out of encirclement and north of Rzhev German infantry were thrown back over the Volga.



Instead the focus of the war was in the skies. With their ground offensive stalled, the Luftwaffe shifted its targets from the Red Army to VVS bases in the Moscow region. In a week of sustained aircombat 490 Soviet and 73 German aircraft were destroyed. In addition, a further 15 squadrons were so demoralised [1] that they were pulled into reserve.


(Mig 3 on the Moscow sector)

Stavka opted to concentrate the bulk of the VVS in the Moscow sector.

When the Germans renewed their ground offensive they would not be allowed uncontested air superiority.

The second focus was the first act of major sabotage by the partisan formations.



The German railheads had reached Smolensk but a critical section in the woods north of Orsha was blown.


(Destroyed German train near Orsha)

In addition to their active campaign of sabotage against the few working German rail lines, the partisans were sending back invaluble intelligence of German units. Also, they provided a useful reminder that despite its defeats, the Soviet state was still present in all corners of the USSR



Stavka took the view that the next few weeks would be critical. A powerful German focmation was spotted just south of Vyazma and it was presumed this would either drive on Tula or try to cross the Ugra at Kaluga.



If this period saw only limited shifts to the front lines it brought no let up in terms of losses. There were 79,000 Soviet (50,000 as prisoners) and 31,000 German casualties, the Axis lost 170 tanks and the Soviets 403.



Despite the heavy losses, overall the Soviet armed forces had just over 4.6 million under arms. In effect, somehow the 570,000 losses (350,000 prisoners) in August had been replaced. However, reserves of manpower were fast running out. Only 140,000 were now available and the average rifle division was some 4,000 men under notional compliment. Losses were equally heavy among the Soviet tank forces which had dropped from 5,500 at the start of August to 3,700.

However, what made the losses worse was the amount of the Soviet Union now under occupation.




At the start of August, the Germans were just over the Luga, fighting at Velikie Luki and struggling to close the Smolensk pocket. Further south, they were at the outskirts of Gomel, 30 km west of Kiev and yet to breach the Dniepr.

Since then, the Ukrainian capital and the birthplace of the Soviet Union had both fallen. Moscow was directly threatened, German spearheads were close to Kharkov and over the Mius having captured most of the Donets. Even in the Crimea, they had pushed through the Sivash marshes.

Similar gains in September, would see the destruction of the Soviet state.

[1] Morale under 35 or less than 50% of their aircraft in use





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< Message edited by loki100 -- 12/17/2013 8:42:44 AM >

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