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Turn 79: 17 – 23 December 1942

 
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Turn 79: 17 – 23 December 1942 - 10/31/2015 8:45:07 AM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
Turn 79: 17 – 23 December 1942

The Soviet offensives on the Oka and west of Rostov predictably provoked localised German counter-attacks.



However, their major effort was their offensive around Lake Ilmen and the Valdai Hills. This had three major prongs - a significant armoured force pushing towards the Msta and the rail line to Bologoe, infantry attacking towards the Shlina and a limited attempt to gain control of the east bank of the Volkhov near Novgorod.



Around Rostov, the Soviets quickly regained lost ground but made minimal new gains. In particular on the Voroshilovgrad sector the Germans had switched tactics and were using 14 Panzer Corps as a mobile reserve.

At Moscow, Stavka tried to regain the initiative to follow up the defensive victory at Ryazan.

In an attempt to force the Germans over to the defence, Stavka ordered Kalinin Front to exploit its limited gains in the previous week. The main obstacle on this sector was the well dug in German positions anchored on the small town of Mozhaysk.

After the success with limited paratroop operation on the Oka, this time a more ambitious operation was planned. The remaining formations of 4 Airborne Corps dropped astride the German line of communications cutting the defenders off from resupply.


Soviet paratroops preparing for action


[1]

In turn, backed by a massive artillery barrage and heavily supported by the VVS, 24 and 32 Armies stormed the German positions producing a major gap in the middle of their defensive lines.


[2]

To add to the disruption Western Front attacked to the south pushing back the German 6 Infantry Corps and expanding the Soviet bridgehead on the west bank of the Nara



However, Kalinin Front lacked the mobile assets to exploit their victory. Tank Brigades from the Moscow reserve were hurriedly pushed into the gap in the German front, cutting rail lines and joining up with partisan bands near Medyn. However, an opportunity to make significant gains was lost due to a lack of mobile formatio.

In turn Stavka decided to stop any further German gains around Lake Ilmen. Significant reserve formations were released and used to strengthen the Soviet defences.

Critically 2 Shock Army was well placed to go over to the offensive. Near Lychkovo the German lines were weakly held and 5 Corps (2 Tank and 3 Cavalry) moved into position. If successful, this would threaten to trap the German formations that had driven towards the Msta.



However, over 2 days of fighting in the snowy woods, the Germans managed to hold off the Soviet offensive, protecting the supply and communication lines to 48 Panzer Corps.
[3]


Ski troops attached to 2 Shock Army






Losses remained fairly heavy, given the limited nature of the fighting. The Germans lost 32,000 men (11,000 killed), 80 tanks and 90 planes and the Soviets 46,000 men (18,000 killed), 450 tanks and 280 planes.



[1] This is why I don't like the now common house rule banning all Soviet paradrops for the complete game. It is too pro-German. Here vigabrand has clearly stripped away his reserves in order to attack and its one way to make that a choice (with potential consequences) rather than a completely safe option. If he'd had units in reserve mode that drop would have been a disaster. The real life Soviet operation at Kanev failed precisely as they dropped onto German reserve formations.
[2] So every element of luck went my way. My hope was with that level of artillery and engineers I'd be able to drop the fortifications, and probably be able to do two attacks. With them then cut off in the logistics phase, their position would have been very weak next turn, forcing the Germans to redeploy. Just to even things up, later in the turn I lost an attack I was sure I was going to win.
[3] The first attack in particular would work probably about 90% of the time. In many ways I would have rather won this and lost at Mozhaysk. I think that vigabrand would have got his armour out, but they would have suffered for lack of supply and I might have been able to trap one division.

Last turn run under 1.08.04.

_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 391
Turn 80: 24-30 December 1942 - 11/1/2015 9:19:45 PM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
Turn 80: 24-30 December 1942

The limited Soviet gains around Mozhaysk and west of Rostov triggered the predictable German response. Almost all the gains were wiped out in a series of localised counter-attacks.



On both sectors, Soviet formations continued to probe for weak spots making very limited gains in an attempt to maintain pressure and try and draw off German units from their new offensive.

However, their main efforts were in the Valdai-Ilmen sectors and a renewal of the Finnish offensive on the nothern edge of Lake Ladoga.



Here, Stavka mostly opted to give ground in an attempt to limit losses due to encirclements. Very localised counter-attacks regained some ground and created a line of communication to some units cut off.

German losses were 38,000 men (16,000 killed), 47 tanks and 42 planes. The Soviets lost 74,000 men (22,000 killed and 23,000 prisoners), 400 tanks and 227 planes.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So this was the first turn using the .05 etc patches. The impact is to wreck the air war (raised in a different thread), quite simply if this is the intended effect then scrap all the detail and reduce it to a minor combat modifier according to which side has an advantage.

Simple example, Soviet AA is still pointless. The Germans can still bomb a port as many times as they want (with no losses). In 08.04 at least I could retaliate by bombing the air bases they were using. Not any more. 1 raid is all I get.

Soviet truck pool is suddenly emptying. Under .04, I was keeping it steady, some turns I gained a little, others I lost a little. Both turns under .05 (this and T81) I lost a net 4,000 per turn. This in turn makes the air game (I guess my truck losses are because I have LB deployed) even more pointless.

_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 392
3 September 1942 – 6 January 1943 - 11/2/2015 8:35:50 AM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
3 September 1942 – 6 January 1943

{I'll do a usual weekly report for T81 later}

The 4 months from early September 1942 to the end of the year had seen a massive reversal of fortune in the war. Perhaps the simplest measure of the scale of Soviet defeats was the loss of over 1 million prisoners in this period alone.

The German offensive had started with the victory at Bryansk and then swept through Vyazma, Kaluga and Tula before being stalled 30 km west of Moscow. After the autumn muds, they had launched a major offensive aimed at Ryazan. The commitment of almost all the newly formed armoured formations, plus elite armies drawn out of the Stavka reserve had led to a hard fought Soviet defensive victory which did much to restore morale.

However, they had then swung north and, again, Soviet forces were unable to prevent significant losses. The Soviet hold on the east bank of the Volkhov was threatened as were the key northern cities of Vyshny Volochek, Torzhok and Kalinin.

It was clear that the Red Army strategically was still firmly on the defensive.



The 4 months had seen the German army expand by 102,000 men (to 4.35m) while their artillery, tank and air numbers remained static. In addition, their allies put 1.75 million men, 17,000 guns, 380 tanks and 1,100 planes in the field. In turn the Red Army had shrunk by 600,000 men.

The only source of optimism for the Soviets was the strength of their industrial base and the massive reserves of manpower. In addition, most units had adequate ammunition and supplies even if movement was being hampered by a growing truck shortage.

The Germans had paid a high price for their victories. In the fighting they had suffered 150,000 killed and 340,000 wounded. 2,200 AFVs had been knocked out of action. In the air the axis forces had lost 1,800 planes and the Soviets 4,000 as the VVS had provided critical support to the battered Red Army formations in front of Moscow and at Ryazan.

One major problem for the Red Army was that one-third of their 9,000 tanks were under-armoured and under-gunned light, DD or cavalry tanks (and many of these were obsolete).



The T-34 now formed the backbone of the newly re-equipped tank corps and the small numbers of lend-lease medium tanks were mostly assigned to the independent tank battalions. The KV had proved a liability in the armoured formations as its additional armour was not enough to compensate for relying on the 76mm gun. Instead these were increasingly being allocated to the rifle corps in the main shock armies to help breaking through well dug in German infantry positions.


(KV-1 knocked out in the aftermath of tank engagement near Ryazan)

Again, the number of artillery pieces masked the reality that one-third were mortars of various calibres.



However, the new artillery and rocket formations had already proved their value both in Kalinin Front's limited offensive and in the defensive battles at Ryazan.


(Katyushas in action near Mozhaysk)



In the air, the VVS had re-organised to larger squadrons and most of the 1941 fighters had been replaced in front line formations. The new Yak-7, Yak-9 and La-5 had proved their worth and the US supplied P-40s were valued for their relatively long range. The bulk of the sturmovik squadrons now deployed the new 2 man version which gave them some protection from enemy fighters. Till recently the lend-lease US bombers had proved invaluable in the air war in the Crimea but evidence from recent weeks suggested that the Romanian forces now had a better defence against that tactic.

Despite ongoing losses, slowly the Red Army was recovering from its losses in September. The equivalent of 24 fresh rifle divisions had been deployed since mid-October.



Equally, the rifle corps had proved its value both defensively and as the core of an attacking force. Backed by the new artillery divisions, these had managed to regain some ground near Moscow even if the Germans were too strong to allow a major offensive.

In addition, the recent inability to exploit the Mozhaysk victory meant that Stavka was determined to raise more tank and mechanized corps as soon as sufficient motorised assets were available.


_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 393
Turn 81: 31 December 1942 – 6 January 1943 - 11/6/2015 7:48:51 AM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
Turn 81: 31 December 1942 – 6 January 1943

Moscow

At Moscow, a limited German counter-attack eliminated some of the gains in the previous week, although some Soviet gains were retained.

The main response was an attempt to drive a group of German panzer and motorised divisions back as they were threatening the rail junction at Naro-Fominsk.

The result was two days of bloody fighting with no gains [1]



Rostov

Here the Axis forces attacked across the front, driving back the Soviet units to their start lines.



Again, the Soviet counter-attacks foundered on strong defensive lines and suffered for a lack of air support [1]




(T-34 knocked out in the Rostov-Voroshilovgrad fighting)

North

Again, the main German offensive took place north and east of the Valdai Hills and by the Finns in the north.



Stavka was unwilling to release too much of its reserves, so the Soviet response was to fall back to better defensive positions and launch a few localised attacks designed to inflict losses on exposed German formations.




(Soviet reconnaissance patrol near Lake Ilmen)



Despite the relatively limited range of the fighting, losses were heavy for both sides. The Germans lost 41,000 men (19,000 killed), 85 tanks and 44 planes, Soviet losses were 101,000 men (25,000 killed, 28,000 prisoners), 650 tanks and 227 planes [2]



[1] I know this has been said elsewhere, but the patch has wrecked the effectiveness of the VVS. You can't muster a decent pre-attack bombing raid, and if those attacks had been under the old patch I think both would have been victories as I could have disrupted more German elements before combat.

In the Crimea, I managed one single air attack, while Sevastopol is bombed as often as the Romanians have air miles.

[2] In the turns before the patch air losses were around 80 axis-270 Soviet, last two turns 45 axis – 230 Soviet.

Clearly the well defined 'Pelton-shield' is working to protect the Luftwaffe as intended.

_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 394
RE: 3 September 1942 – 6 January 1943 - 11/6/2015 5:11:57 PM   
Bozo_the_Clown


Posts: 741
Joined: 6/25/2013
From: Bozotown
Status: offline
quote:

Clearly the well defined 'Pelton-shield' is working to protect the Luftwaffe as intended.


Agree on the "Pelton-shield" but could you clarify regarding port bombing. Are port bombings exempt from the 1 mission per turn rule?

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 395
RE: 3 September 1942 – 6 January 1943 - 11/6/2015 6:09:46 PM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online

quote:

ORIGINAL: Bozo_the_Clown

quote:

Clearly the well defined 'Pelton-shield' is working to protect the Luftwaffe as intended.


Agree on the "Pelton-shield" but could you clarify regarding port bombing. Are port bombings exempt from the 1 mission per turn rule?


yep, you can bomb cities till you have used up your distance capacity. So the one mission that neither side persisted with during the Soviet-German war (ie city bombing) is the one that you can do as much as you like of.

totally off the topic (ahem), I found out what a 'Pelton-wheel' is today (it actually really exists)

_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to Bozo_the_Clown)
Post #: 396
RE: 3 September 1942 – 6 January 1943 - 11/6/2015 6:46:04 PM   
charlie0311

 

Posts: 920
Joined: 12/20/2013
Status: offline
Pelton shield, now Pelton wheel, is there more?

What is this stuff? The people demand to know, Charlie anyway!!

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 397
RE: 3 September 1942 – 6 January 1943 - 11/6/2015 9:17:15 PM   
STEF78


Posts: 1701
Joined: 2/19/2012
From: Versailles, France
Status: offline
A new year... the worst monthes are behind you!

(in reply to charlie0311)
Post #: 398
RE: 3 September 1942 – 6 January 1943 - 11/7/2015 8:06:18 AM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
quote:

ORIGINAL: charlie0311

Pelton shield, now Pelton wheel, is there more?

What is this stuff? The people demand to know, Charlie anyway!!


email from a colleague of mine who lives in Applecross (a very remote place on Scotland's west coast):



quote:

ORIGINAL: STEF78

A new year... the worst monthes are behind you!


I hope so, but the new patch changes are going to be a pain to be honest. Crudely I have an army of 7.1m facing 6.1m axis troops and the Germans are still much higher quality than almost any Soviet formation. The loss of air power as an effective tool really hurts.

I'm expecting to have to remain on the defensive till the summer and then just hope to win an attritional exchange.



< Message edited by loki100 -- 12/17/2015 9:03:09 PM >


_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to charlie0311)
Post #: 399
game over - 12/3/2015 12:19:53 PM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
...

< Message edited by loki100 -- 12/17/2015 9:02:47 PM >


_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 400
RE: game over - 12/6/2015 5:01:36 AM   
VigaBrand

 

Posts: 266
Joined: 12/19/2014
From: Germany
Status: offline
Thanks for the game and the AAR, I learn much about it.
Sorry, that I wasn't able to answer every day.


_____________________________




(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 401
Turns 82-83: 7 – 20 January 1943 - 12/17/2015 9:21:16 PM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
Turns 82-83: 7 – 20 January 1943

Early January saw a continuation of the recent German offensives.



Both in the south and around the Valdai they were able to force the Soviets back onto the defensive. In the meantime, the Finns, aided by a German Panzer Corps continued to inflict serious defeats on 7 Army.



While these attacks inflicted heavy losses and disrupted planning for a Soviet counter-attack, it seemed clear that the Germans had abandoned their attempt to capture Moscow. Rewards for the defensive victory at Ryazan and the recent gains by Kalinin Front were showered on key formations.



In addition the U2 night harassment bombers were rewarded for their successes in inflicting a steady stream of losses on the Germans and their allies.


(Pilots receiving their decorations for their effective bombing raids on the Volkhov)

Despite the German pressure, on 14 January the Red Army went over to the offensive for the first time in almost a year. The opening blow was in the south.

In order to confuse the Germans as to the real target, Trans-Caucasus Front launched a series of doomed attacks. The intention was to test the strength of the German reserves and draw their mobile forces south to protect the approach to the Mius.



In the meantime, Southern Front had been steadily built up. It had suffered heavy losses in the Autumn battles and then seen its best formations stripped to bolster the defence of Moscow. It now lacked mobile units but had a powerful infantry core and this hit the German lines north of Voroshilovgrad.



However, the main blow came further the north. Three tank armies backed by the mobile formations of 40 Army struck the relatively weakly held German lines in this sector. If the Soviet tanks could break through then they could outflank the German defences protecting Stalino. Regaining the Dombas was an important economic goal but also would indicate that the balance of the war had shifted to the Red Army.




(Soviet tanks in action)



Despite shifting attention to the south, Stavka also wanted to keep up the pressure on the Moscow-Smolensk axis. Primarily this was to stop the Germans switching their reserves. Unofficially known to the planning staff of Kalinin and Western Fronts as the термит Offensive, the intention was to undermine the German forces that still threatened the Soviet capital.

The opening blow saw vicious fighting in the snowy woods. For a while it appeared as if the Soviet forces would break through but the intervention of the main German reserve was just enough to halt the attack and drive the Soviets back to their starting positions.



Over these two weeks, the Germans lost 44,000 men (17,000 killed), 103 tanks and 100 planes for Soviet losses of 118,000 men (40,000 killed and 13,000 prisoners), 570 tanks and 210 planes.
----------------------------------------

As maybe clear, we've worked out a schedule that suits us both ...

_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to VigaBrand)
Post #: 402
RE: Turns 82-83: 7 – 20 January 1943 - 12/17/2015 9:38:53 PM   
morvael


Posts: 10675
Joined: 9/8/2006
From: Poland
Status: online
Back to the fight? Nice

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 403
RE: Turns 82-83: 7 – 20 January 1943 - 12/18/2015 4:38:25 AM   
VigaBrand

 

Posts: 266
Joined: 12/19/2014
From: Germany
Status: offline
Hi,
after some recon I had the idea that something will come in the Voroshilov sector. So you will see this turn, that one reserve panzerkorps will be there and strike back!


_____________________________




(in reply to morvael)
Post #: 404
RE: Turns 82-83: 7 – 20 January 1943 - 12/18/2015 7:25:18 AM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online

quote:

ORIGINAL: VigaBrand

Hi,
after some recon I had the idea that something will come in the Voroshilov sector. So you will see this turn, that one reserve panzerkorps will be there and strike back!



only because morvael (boo hiss ) has stopped me from bombing your recon planes ...

_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to VigaBrand)
Post #: 405
Turn 84: 21 – 27 January 1943 - 12/20/2015 9:55:18 PM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
Turn 84: 21 – 27 January 1943

Late January saw the Soviet southern offensive grind to a halt. Less due to German resistance and more to an unexpected shift in the weather. By day, the ground was reduced to deep soft snow that sapped the strength of men and machines. At night the wet ground froze solid, creating sheets of ice.



Southern Offensive

Even so, the offensive around Rostov was able to carry on. As a measure of the growing confidence of the Soviet armoured formations, here they took on 3 Panzer Corps in open battle. While the Germans had the discipline to retreat under control their Hungarian allies panicked.




(Elements of 3 Gds Tank Corps in action)

However, an attempt to reduce the salient held by the German XI Corps failed.



Despite the poor weather, Soviet forces also made some gains along the Aidar. The last German strong point over the Donets was almost cut off. However, Tolbukhin was well aware of reconnaissance reports of the arrival of at least one German Panzer Corps near Valuyki.



Operation термит

At Moscow, the термит Offensive continued. It now involved elements of 3 Fronts as 2 Shock Army had been withdrawn from the Valdai after the Germans abandoned their recent offensive.

Formations of the Volkhov Front were able to extend the scope of the offensive by directly threatening Rzhev.




(2 Shock Army in action near Rzhev)

In turn, Kalinin Front continued to make slow but steady gains.



Western Front had spent the week re-organising but added to the pressure on Army Group Centre by commencing an offensive towards Kaluga.



In turn, Bryansk and Voronezh Fronts were building up east of Tula.



Losses remained heavy. The Germans lost 22,000 men (8,000 killed), 70 tanks and 70 planes. Soviet losses were 75,000 men (26,000 killed and 31,000 prisoners – most from 7 Army in Karelia), 240 tanks and 150 planes.

However, critically, German reconnaissance had missed the Soviet build up on the Volkhov. South Western Front had drawn back into local reserve after the defensive victory in the Valdai. Hidden by the forests and snow laden skies, the Germans were to be caught by surprise by the Смольный offensive [1]. Stavka was trying to stretch the German front as thinly as possible before the fourth Soviet offensive was launched.

[1] – For those who can't read Russian the offensives are called 'Termite' and 'Smolny' respectively. All I am trying to do at Moscow is to stop the Germans drawing off their reserves, any gains are for the longer term. In reality I don't expect to gain much in this winter offensive. But if I can end it firmly on the west bank of the Volkhov that allows me to deal with Leningrad at a time of my choice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Even being in charge of almost all the signals between the Front commands and the Stavka, I was surprised. South Western Front had only been sent to that sector as an emergency and with the ending of the German offensive I expected to see it withdrawn. Almost all the radio messages were about pulling back, re-organising and preparing to move out.

Clearly Stavka wanted the Germans to believe that the sector would return to its quiet of the previous year. Orders to the Front and to the armies were sent by courier.

When we sent the final signals it was hard to contain my excitement. Just, maybe, my home city would be liberated. My only regret was that Vladimir's 40 Army was now fully engaged in the Voroshilovgrad battles and Sacha's squadron was retraining in the Urals - none of our family would take part.



_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 406
Turn 85: 28 January – 3 February 1943 - 12/28/2015 9:08:58 AM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
Turn 85: 28 January – 3 February 1943

The Donets Offensive

As feared the Germans struck back along the Aidar. However, perhaps as an indication of the changing balance on the battlefield, they made gains all along 100 mile battlefront but only in a few places did they manage to penetrate more than 10 miles into the Soviet lines. South of Voroshilovgrad it was much the same. The Soviet advanced guards took heavy losses and were forced back but again the Germans lacked the ability to follow up their victories.

In response to the German counterattacks, the main offensive by Voronezh and Southern Fronts swung south. The front held by 52 Infantry Corps was broken as the Soviets tried to encircle Voroshilovgrad from the north.



South of Voroshilovgrad, the cavalry and tank corps of North Caucasus Front ground their way deep into the German defensive fields. The expectation was of further German counterattacks but slowly German strongpoints were being bypassed. Each round of attack and counterattack was leaving the Soviets slightly closer to the Mius river.



Operation термит

Here the Germans were less able to retake ground they had lost. Poor terrain and the extent that Soviet formations were able to support each other limited the scope for counterattacks. In acknowledgement of the steady gains, General Vasilevsky was promoted and Guards status awarded to a number of the regimental tank support units.



Here again, the Soviets launched a series of unconnected attacks along the battlefront. In the north, elements of Volkhov and Kalinin Fronts threatened to turn the northern flank of the German line. In the south, Western Front made gains towards Kaluga and also started to outflank their Tula defensive line.




The Смольный Offensive


On the Valdai, Stavka was fairly sure that the Germans had not detected the build up. However, pre-attack security was a priority. The assualt formations of SW Front only replaced divisions of Leningrad Front in the trenches in the hours before the offensive.

Still not sure that the Germans had few, if any, reserves, Leningrad Front was ordered to support the offensive by launching a series of maskirovka attacks. These failed dismally but had the advantage of confusing the Germans as to the Soviet intentions.



In the pre dawn light of 29 January the Soviet offensive broke. In the 1941-2 winter offensive, a major attack might be backed by just over 1,000 guns. In the south, recent Soviet attacks had sometimes concentrated almost 3,000 guns in support.

What hit the unsuspecting Luftwaffe divisions on the Volkhov was on a different scale. Over 5,000 guns commenced a short barrage. With the German defences dislocated over 250,000 men from 4 and 5 Shock Armies struck. Both had been re-equipped and trained to break strong points. Supported by specialist engineers and flame tank battalions they quickly crossed the frozen river. German losses were relatively light as the two divisions were overwhelmed so quickly.


(Katyusha barrage)



With the front line broken, 3 Tank Army was committed. Engineers had prepared entry and exit points onto the Volkhov and marked out safe routes across the ice. Now badly out of position, the Luftwaffe divisions were hit again. While they fought well, they were overwhelmed by the ferocity of the Soviet offensive.




(KV-1s operating in support of the breakthrough)


By 1 February, 5 Tank Army moved through 3 Tank and tried to dislodge the battered German divisions off the march. However, a lack of reconnaissance and stiffening German resistance allowed them to prevent a clean break out by the Soviet tankers.



Even so, the Volkhov now lay 20 miles behind the Soviet spearheads and a huge gap had been torn in the defensive lines the Germans had been preparing since February 1942.

Summary

Both sides took heavy losses. The Germans lost 42,000 men (18,000 killed), 30 tanks and 100 planes for Soviet losses of 60,000 men (26,000 killed), 600 tanks (mostly T-60 or T-70) and 220 planes.


< Message edited by loki100 -- 12/28/2015 10:14:01 AM >


_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 407
Turn 86: 4 – 10 February 1943 - 1/1/2016 9:24:37 AM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
Turn 86: 4 – 10 February 1943

Voroshilovgrad Offensive

Here the same pattern as previous weeks was repeated. A series of powerful German counter-attacks eliminated most, but not all Soviet gains in the previous week. However, the Soviets retained some key positions. Taking advantage of the Soviet bridgeheads over the Aldai, the German IV Corps was surrounded and forced to fight its way out of encirclement.




(SU-122 assault guns in action for the first time on the Aldai)

With their main front broken, the positions of 54 Corps to the east of the Aldai became untenable and they too fell back under heavy pressure.



To the south, the highly experienced cavalry and armoured formations of the North Caucasus Front made steady gains. Gradually the German salient around Voroshilovgrad was becoming less of a strong point holding up the Soviet offensive and more a potential trap as the Red Army gradually cut away at their lines of communications.



Смольный offensive

A limited German counterattack managed to eliminate some recent Soviet gains on the west bank of the Volkhov. However, in turn, the Soviets repeated the same pattern of attacks as in the previous week. Elements of Leningrad Front struck at the flanks of the German line, drawing off their reserves.

With this done, 4 Shock Army, again backed by a massive artillery barrage, drove across the frozen river.




(Infantry from 4 Shock Army)

Again with the German front broken, Soviet tanks sought to exploit the recent gains.





Operation термит

Here, the Germans pulled back on the northern sector to pre-prepared positions just outside Rzhev. As a result Kalinin and Volkhov Fronts took the chance to re-organise and the main attacks were launched by Western Front. These made some small gains increasing the pressure on the German defensive lines at Kaluga and threatening to turn their defences at Tula.

Overall



Losses for both armies remained high. In particular, the Soviet armoured forces took heavy losses as they tried to exploit gaps in the German front and then bore the brunt of axis counter-attacks.

The Axis lost 43,000 men (20,000 killed), 50 tanks and 140 planes and the Soviets some 64,000 men (51,000 killed or taken prisoner), 800 tanks and 330 planes.

_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 408
RE: Turn 86: 4 – 10 February 1943 - 1/1/2016 1:05:28 PM   
sillyflower


Posts: 2427
Joined: 8/4/2010
From: Loches France (but properly part of England)
Status: offline
Really interesting game + AAR + a masterclass in graphics. Vigabrand's German play is very good.

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web exchange

Post: I am always fearful that when I put this game down on the table and people see the box-art they will think I am some kind of neo-Nazi

Reply: They already know you're a gamer. What other shame can possibly compare?

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 409
RE: Turn 86: 4 – 10 February 1943 - 1/1/2016 1:18:51 PM   
VigaBrand

 

Posts: 266
Joined: 12/19/2014
From: Germany
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No, it isn't.


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Post #: 410
RE: Turn 86: 4 – 10 February 1943 - 1/1/2016 3:01:07 PM   
Pelton


Posts: 9572
Joined: 4/9/2006
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quote:

ORIGINAL: VigaBrand

No, it isn't.



What do you have for arm pts in German pool?

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Beta Tester WitW & WitE

(in reply to VigaBrand)
Post #: 411
RE: Turn 86: 4 – 10 February 1943 - 1/1/2016 3:06:47 PM   
VigaBrand

 

Posts: 266
Joined: 12/19/2014
From: Germany
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350k only german not axis at all.

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Post #: 412
RE: Turn 86: 4 – 10 February 1943 - 1/3/2016 8:58:44 PM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
quote:

ORIGINAL: sillyflower

Really interesting game + AAR + a masterclass in graphics. Vigabrand's German play is very good.


the only issue with the game is how far it is being driven by hard wired changes (esp to NM), so my major defeat in September can be tracked back to the impact of the 40NM and my relative recovery due to the shift to 50NM (which gives 60 as the baseline for Gds corps etc). Thats the frustrating bit.

the other real change is the impact of massed artillery. I'm winning attacks if I start at 1.2:1 with lots of guns (ok I lose about 40% - but at this stage the losses don't matter that much, the wins start to give me small but useful gains).

glad you like the graphics, guess it reflects (in part) what I do for my paid job (ie combine text/tables and images to tell a narrative)

quote:

ORIGINAL: VigaBrand

No, it isn't.



I think you are doing fine, certainly frustrating me with all the counterattacks. Two possible errors is I don't think you've appreciated what all the artillery/rocket divisions I've built do in terms of shifting when/where I can attack.

Other is I think a few times you've sent Pzr Corps off to surround and capture isolated rifle divisions I've chucked out as sacrifices - while it helps slow my growth back to 8m or so, I think they could be better used providing reserve support where I'm attacking?

Not sure as there is clearly a trade off here

edit: I also think you were a bit slow in spotting what I was up to around Voroshilovgrad - while its not clear how that will end I'm prepared to trade massive (replaceable) losses for the prize of capturing the equivalent of an army


< Message edited by loki100 -- 1/3/2016 10:03:55 PM >


_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to VigaBrand)
Post #: 413
Turn 87: 11 – 17 February 1943 - 1/3/2016 9:02:36 PM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
Turn 87: 11 – 17 February 1943

Both along the Volkhov and in the south, the fighting became a matter of attrition. Both sides were determined to make, or prevent, critical gains and poured additional forces into the fighting. The result was a bruising process of attack and counter-attack often over the same area of open steppe or in the wooded swamps of the Volkhov.

Смольный offensive

Due to mounting concerns about Soviet losses, Popov was blamed for the heavy defeats suffered by Leningrad Front. Since these attacks had been ordered directly by Stavka in order to support SW Front's main attacks he had some reason to feel unfairly treated.



Here the Germans managed to force back 3 Tank Army from its recent gains when they, in turn, concentrated their artillery.



The Soviets struck back shifting their focus to the south and taking the small rail junction at Chudovo.




(4 Shock Army at Chudovo)

But an attempt to broaden the bridgehead failed as the German resistance stiffened.



Voroshilovgrad Offensive

Here the Germans again forced the Soviets back onto the east bank of the Aidar as well as regaining some ground to the south.




(T-34s knocked out on the Aidai)

However, the ability to use 3 Tank Armies on the Aidar gave the Soviets the means to take on the German Panzers in open battle.



Steadily the Soviet offensive on this sector swung south towards the Donets valley. If possible the goal was to cut through the German defensive lines and pocket their formations defending Voroshilovgrad.

The armoured and cavalry formations of the North Caucasus Front in turn cut their way northwards.



Either the Germans were unaware of the reality of the threat or were confident they could hold their current positions as a springboard for a counter-offensive in the spring.



Operation термит

Here, Kalinin and Western Fronts continued to attack where the Germans appeared to be weak. While Stavka had set regaining Kaluga and Rzhev as the key goals, in reality the intention was to prevent the Germans being able to strip reserves from this sector.



Overall




(one goal is to gain wins for key commanders who I can then promote to Front commands)


(no Gds Armies yet)

Losses were relatively even, apart from in terms of tanks. The axis forces lost 39,000 men (17,000 kia), 65 tanks and 130 planes for Soviet losses of 59,000 men (24,000 kia), 390 tanks and 210 planes.

However, partisan reports indicated the arrival of substantial German reinforcements. Their combat strength increased by 50,000 men and 110 tanks indicating the arrival of at least 2 fresh Panzer divisions. The likely allocation of this force was a matter of great concern to Stavka, especially given the long front only weakly held by the Central Front.

_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 414
Turn 88: 18 – 24 February 1943 - 1/5/2016 11:13:09 AM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
Turn 88: 18 – 24 February 1943

Смольный offensive

Here the Soviet offensive continued and elements of Leningrad Front again attacked on the flanks in order to draw off German reserves. Gains were limited as German resistance solidified but Stavka ordered the attacks to carry on in the hope that a decisive breakthrough could be achieved.

This time the main offensive by SW Front swung to the south. Last weeks gains at Chudovo indicated that it might be more effective to clear the west bank of the Volkhov first and then push further west.




(Heavy artillery in action on the Volkhov)

Voroshilovgrad Offensive

Again, powerful German counter-attacks eliminated most of the Soviet gains to the north of Voroshilovgrad. However, especially on the Donets, the Soviets held on to some critical gains providing a springboard for the next phase of the offensive.


(Mounting losses of Soviet tanks meant a greater reliance on those supplied via lend-lease [1])


(opening German attacks)

In response, 40 Army cut the German rail connections to Voroshilovgrad. These gains were protected by advances by 9 Army from Southern Front to the outskirts of the city and by 1 Tank Army along the Donets. Partly out of fear of growing German armoured strength and partly to rest after weeks of fighting, the rest of the Soviet armour was left in reserve.



To the south, 37 and 38 Armies made a vital breakthrough.



Suddenly German communications rested on a narrow 10 mile strip that was under artillery fire from Soviet formations to the north and south. As with the northern prong, other Soviet formations tried to protect the flanks of the spearheads driving Axis forces back.



Operation термит

After spending a week re-organising, Kalinin Front went back over to the offensive, this time in support of Western Front's attempt to recapture Kaluga.



Western Front in turn made steady progress along the north side of the Oka.



Overall



Losses in this week were increasingly favourable to the Soviets. The Axis forces lost 39,000 men (17,000 kia), 65 tanks and 125 planes for Soviet losses of 60,000 men (24,000 kia), just under 400 tanks and 210 planes.

Despite the gains, Stavka had mounting concerns about the location of the German Panzers. Several sectors of the long front were weakly held and the Soviet offensive north of Voroshilovgrad was potentially vulnerable to a major counter-stroke.

Intelligence was sifted that suggested that 4 corps were undetected. These could either be the core of a major counter-blow or used to defeat one of the current Soviet offensives.




[2]


[3]

[1] Soviet tank crews are reported as liking the Churchill – it was seen as robust and well armoured even if the main gun was not as effective as the Soviet 76mm. Its lack of speed was not a problem when used in an infantry support role.

[2] This shows the main armoured formations in the Red Army – one reason for so many tanks in some armies is due to the 1943 Cavalry Corps ToE – these increasingly become tank formations supported by cavalry. Also I have regularly added tank battalions to the cavalry corps and many of these have now converted to tank regiments. By 1944 many of these will need to be replaced by SU- formations to save on T-34s.

[3] This shows the armies with the most artillery. It is a bit misleading as some armies have a lot of mortars (to inflict attrition) such as those in the Leningrad Front. Also many of the newly raised artillery divisions actually report to a airborne corps HQ (ie a corps so not shown).

_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 415
Turn 89: 25 February – 3 March 1943 - 1/7/2016 8:43:46 PM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
Turn 89: 25 February – 3 March 1943

Смольный offensive

In the north, the freshly deployed German 48 Panzer Corps managed to eliminate all the Soviet gains in the previous week. What had been designed as an offensive on a quiet sector to catch the Germans off-balance was fast turning into a brutal attritional struggle with few gains to show for mounting Soviet losses.

Despite this, Stavka ordered SW Front to persist. This time the Soviets struck the centre on the German defensive line and made some limited gains, but an attempt to exploit these victories was easily defeated by the Germans.



To the south, North-Western Front commenced a limited offensive in the Valdai. Designed to stretch the German defences, and perhaps assist термит, the opening blows made some progress – potentially outflanking the German positions around Rzhev.


(Soviet troops liberate a small village in the Valdai)

Operation термит

Here an attempt by Western Front to make more gains towards Kaluga was halted by the timely intervention of 17 Panzer division. Even so, both sides took heavy losses.



However, Kalinin Front managed to keep up the pressure on the German positions to the north of Kaluga.



The Voroshilovgrad Offensive

Here too the Germans launched a number of counter-attacks in order to extract the Panzer Corps that were in danger of being cut off. Their caution proved to be well founded.

In a single brutal attack, 40 Army swept elements of the VII Hungarian Corps from Voroshilovgrad. While well entrenched, they panicked when Malinovsky managed to outflank their main position with his cavalry forces even as Soviet armour threatened their line of retreat.




(Riflemen of 40 Army fighting in Voroshilovgrad)

The German defensive line was suddenly under-mined by the collapse of the Hungarians and elements of North Caucasus Front overran their last remaining line of communication.



Suddenly nine German and Hungarian divisions found themselves cut off.

To add to the pressure, the Soviet tank armies again struck on the Aidar. Mindful of the threat of fresh German Panzers, the Soviets limited themselves to stopping after tearing a gap 30 miles wide and 30 miles deep. The Germans now had three crises on the same sector. The Soviet tanks could potentially outflank their entire defensive line, they had to rescue the divisions now trapped in a pocket and their forces to the south of Voroshilovgrad were coming under pressure.



Voroshilovgrad was the first major Soviet city liberated after 8 weeks of sustained fighting. Malinovsky's triumph was greeted by a triumphal cannonade from the Kremlin.

Overall

The Germans lost 46,000 men (20,000 killed), 60 tanks and 95 planes for Soviet losses of 66,000 men (26,000 killed), 850 tanks [1] and 220 planes.



[1] Many on the Volkhov where my armoured units suffered badly this turn but also in the south. Essentially I am trading off tanks (and trucks) to pry open the German lines in an attempt to keep up the pressure.

< Message edited by loki100 -- 1/7/2016 9:50:37 PM >


_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 416
Turn 90: 4 – 10 March 1943 - 1/10/2016 4:12:04 PM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
Turn 90: 4 – 10 March 1943

The start of March saw both armies locked into combat on the same three sectors. Along the majority of the long front, neither side had the resources to risk a serious commitment despite the possibilities.

On the Volkhov the Germans again eliminated most of the recent Soviet gains but were unable to dislodge the Soviets from the west bank. In turn the Soviets drove the Germans back to their starting lines but were unable to make any substantial gains. However, it was clear that for the moment the fighting on this sector had been reduced to a battle of attrition with neither side able to break the deadlock.

In contrast, the limited offensive by NW Front continued to pay dividends as it had the potential to outflank the German defences. In response the Germans had pulled back and abandoned Peno to the Soviets.

The possibility of regaining Rzhev meant that Stavka had ordered the Volkhov Front to operate with NW Front rather than in support of the Kalinin Front. Katukov's reformed 2nd Shock Army made substantial gains to the west of the city [1].




(German equipment captured as they retreated from the Volga)

Around Kaluga, the Soviet offensive faltered. Kalinin Front made some limited gains but Western Front had to re-organise its assault formations after a localised German counter-attack. In addition, Stavka had decided that trying to liberate Tula, in co-ordination with the reinforced Bryansk Front, was perhaps a more plausible goal.

In the south, the Germans managed to re-open communications to the units cut off on the Donets but the link was fragile. An attempt to deepen the encirclement failed as 40 Army ran into fresh German Panzer formations.


(SU-100 in action near Voroshilovgrad)

However, 37 Army managed to again isolate the German divisions east of Voroshilovgrad while 38 Army inflicted a significant defeat on 41 Pzr Corps.



Soviet reconnaissance flights indicated a significant German build up around Kursk. As a result the main tank formations supporting Southern Front remained on the defensive rather than risk encirclement by trying to outflank the German defences facing Voroshilovgrad.





Losses of men were relatively equal. The Germans lost 40,000 (18,000 killed) and the Soviets 67,000 (25,000 killed). However, the constant battering of the Soviet armoured formations in German counter-attacks was producing significant losses and the Germans lost 113 tanks and the Soviets 873.

[1] I think this is the reward for so much pressure on 3 sectors. I reckon at least half the German Pzrs are now in the south. There are two corps (at least) at Kursk – either to attack Central Front (feasible but unlikely) or to reinforce the Voroshilovgrad battles. Another 2 (at least) pinned around Kaluga and at least one on the Volkhov. I have a few non-tank armies with a lot of armour, so its possible to generate a real threat on a secondary sector.

_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 417
RE: Turn 90: 4 – 10 March 1943 - 1/10/2016 6:30:51 PM   
STEF78


Posts: 1701
Joined: 2/19/2012
From: Versailles, France
Status: offline
I would be very surprised if he used his Pzg in refit mode for an offensive

They will be more likely used as firemen

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 418
RE: Turn 90: 4 – 10 March 1943 - 1/10/2016 6:56:08 PM   
loki100


Posts: 4337
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Lochan nan balgair-dudh
Status: online
quote:

ORIGINAL: STEF78

I would be very surprised if he used his Pzg in refit mode for an offensive

They will be more likely used as firemen


Yes, they were on their way to the Voroshilov battles but when I spotted them it was possible they could hit the southern flank of my units threatening Tula - that would have been quite a disruption to my plans. I think I put vigabrand off by rather obviously stacking a load of armour just behind my front lines - what he couldn't have known from recon is they were stacks of 3 tank brigades but it would have looked like about 6 tank corps.

Not sure if he bought that bit of deception but he seemed more worried about my potential strength east of Tula than was deserved - can say this now as we are wading in the spring mud at the moment.

Overall he's not really managed Pelton levels of reserve activation in the winter battles. My guess is by counter-attacking a lot they were burning off MPs and that reduced their ability to act as reserves in my part of the turn - so I probably have the horror of endless reserve activations to come in the summer battles.

edit: since vigabrand's counterattacks created my horrendous tank losses, as well as completely stalling one of my main offensives I think he made the right choice in using them actively rather than as passive reserves - one of those situations where always doing the same approach misses the potential gains of an alternative strategy.

< Message edited by loki100 -- 1/10/2016 7:59:12 PM >


_____________________________

AARs:
WiTW: Once Upon a Time (somewhere)in the West; Fischia il vento; (oh) For a few Panzers More; XXX Corps Diary; Infamy, Infamy!
Others at AGEOD
PoN: A clear bright sun

(in reply to STEF78)
Post #: 419
RE: Turn 90: 4 – 10 March 1943 - 1/10/2016 7:54:18 PM   
Flanker Leader


Posts: 675
Joined: 7/26/2003
From: Toronto, Canada
Status: offline
i played lots of War in Russia a looooong time ago so have an appreciation for the east front. never owned this game (although just got Decisive Campaigns Barbarossa to screw around with), almost never go on the WitE forums but today decided to click on a random AAR for fun

WOW!

after spring '42 i didn't think the front would look anything like it does now, but now i'm hooked - can't wait to see how this ends!

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 420
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