Turn 2 2-July-1941 Air War
The forums have a lot of advice on Axis air operations on turn 1, but I have never seen a turn 2 guide?
Winning the air war, some of them
From my experience and reading on the forums the Axis have more reconnaisance planes than they could ever use, but later on could particularly have more fighters. The Soviets on the other hand never threw anything away. The 5 year plans had made some good airplanes but a lot that was obsolete in technology or down the wrong doctrinal path. This can leave them with shortages of modern planes and in areas such as long range reconnaisance.
Plane for plane the Luftwaffe can beat the Soviet Air Forces, but sheer weight of numbers of Soviet production can overwhelm the Axis. But if the Axis can segment the air war in to different air wars, it may be able to win some of them..... but that is for later.
Soviet action phase Turn 1
After the turkey shoot known as Axis turn 1 there are several possible ways, that I know of, for the Soviet air force to go in turn 1.
i) Everything into the national reserve. Given there is not much the Soviet airforces can do in the early stages this makes a lot of sense (if you do not mind your industry being bombed?). In national reserve there is no supply or support shortage, damaged planes get repaired, replacements are brought in to airgroups, morale increases, training can increase experience and the airforce cannot be bombed. Airbases without aircraft release a lot of lorries to the pool. And you can go even further and disband airbases. At the beginning when the Soviets have a deficit of lorries, which reduces the movement points of ground units, there is a lot to be said for getting every lorry you can in to the pool. (Historically Stalin was calling on the airforces to go on the attack)
ii) Concentrating the entire Soviet airforce into one place and win there e.g. destroy the Finnish air force. Winning somewhere means more experienced pilots for elsewhere. (Historically the Soviets did bomb Finland after the German invasion began but before Finland resumed its war with the Soviets)
iii) Sacrificing the airforce to slow the Wehrmacht. The many SB-2s at the beginning in particular will be flying interdiction missions to knock MPs off the advancing panzers. They are vulnerable to bombing themselves and being overrun, and so are sacrificial pawns to slow down the Wehrmacht just as much as rifle divisions at the front are. Fighters can be posted with them to slow the destruction of the interdiction bombers, leaving themselves in turn as sacrifices.
iv) Ground bombing the panzers. A variant of iii where the aim is not to reduce MPs but to reduce the ToE of advancing motorised divisions. The effect is small but cumulatively can be great.
v) Bombing German industry. Another recent post on these forums found their panzer factory production slashed by raids in Berlin and Prague in the first turns. (Historically the Soviets did invest in the interwar years in long range bombing and only by necessity concentrated on other things during the war, but the British and later Allied strategic bombing experience was you could bomb manpower, communications or general industry rather than a specific factory)
Well the Soviets have certainly not put their air force in to reserve, turn 2 reconnaisance finds them in bases everywhere. This includes reconnaisance and level bombers types which are not being used, and airgroups with no ready aircraft at all.
Only in the north are there examples of aggressive Soviet air action of types ii) and iv) The Finnish attack is on infantry. Finnish fighters did not react and the Soviet team were very sporting in reporting this as a bug in the forums. The infantry, which will probably only be picket guards north of Leningrad on the no move line, withdraws on turn 19 and so is not much of a priority. Whether this was, could be or will be a cost effective way of training the Soviet air force we shall see.
Similarly there were only 8 other ground bombings on 4 hexes all targetting the 4th Panzer Group. Even without fighter interception SB2 losses seem high. Perhaps waiting for Soviet air morale and experience to increase first would help. This far west the modifiers on replacements in German units are the least restrictive they will ever be, and this early will give the most time to make them. So the brunt of these attacks will fall mainly on manpower and equipment pools rather than the motorised units themselves. The cost benefit ratio of Soviet ground bombing on turn 1 does not seem advantageous.
But 9 ground attacks is a small number so these are probably early ranging shots testing for when an all out air campign begins?
Axis Turn 2
The Soviets achieved five ground interdictions in the centre and north (plus one other in South outside picture) during turn 2. These all occured south of the ground bombing which may be because interdiction bombers in the centre were less fatigued from not having to do any ground attacks. Stelteck, lowsugar and Timmeh will know how many MPs were lost - but I assume few. But the cost to the Soviets seems far more moderate - and at least gave German fighters some fatigue in getting them. Given the choice of ground bombing in the Soviet turn 1 action phase or being left fresh for ground interdiction in the Axis turn 2 action phase the latter looks a better use.
These are all good Soviet tactics and have large cumulative effects over time. But have the Soviets started precipitously?
With Axis playing ground support only with fighters, and the Soviets either doing the same or no ground support at all, the skies over the Wehrmacht were eerily clear in Axis turn 2 otherwise. Our team play protocol calls for the SubCommanders to do ground unit bombing missions but only 3 were carried out and all in the South - so the Wehrmacht obviously feels they do not need the help. So the Luftwaffe can concentrate on its war with the Soviet Air Forces... but that will be presented with multiple turns together at a future date.
Bombing the Airforce in the North [This section was originally post 258]
As requested by PM - screenshots of how staging bases were used earlier on in the game on turn 2 - here they are combined with being forward fighter bases. Bases with heavy aircraft such as bombers never leave rails.
with the results
Soviet airbases are stacked and grouped together around Pskow. Stacking reduces the opportunity for bombing to 2 per hex for up to 3 stacked airbases, rather than up to 6 for 3 airbases in different hexes - although arguably bombing is more effective the more aircraft there are in a hex. Concentrating airbases in hexes next to each other allows for mutual assistance with AA fire (perhaps Pskow also has attached AA SUs), air HQs to be near several of their bases at once, and close Soviet fighter interception coverage - but it also allows a staging base to economise on operational miles flown to bombing these local groups of airbases. The battle results indicate little impact from AA fire or fighter interception, so perhaps a dispersal strategy of keeping airbases that are on different hexes wide apart to increase operational miles flown by Luftwaffe bombers would have been better right now. As it is it is in easy German fighter range, and not only can level bombers fly there from a railhead, by using the fighter bases as staging bases the operational miles flown are minimal. Optimally there should be an empty airbase further forward to stage both fighters and bombers. Still at this period the Soviets are offering escorted concentrated bombing targets at very short operational range for bombers on railheads. Added to this the targets contain mostly ready aircraft of our priority models. The I16s and I15s have been mostly sorted to bases on hexes which will be left alone. It seems designed for optimal German bombing impact. IFK alone with 378 ready level bombers bags over 300 kills from just over a dozen bombing runs, mostly of good models, and many more are damaged too.
It is worth presenting another example. The airbase near Zaporozhye has not been moved by the Soviets even though they had the opportunity to do so - it is not frozen. It has good airframes- they have not been sent to national reserve or air transfered elsewhere. And it has no fighters there or anywhere near. If any of these criteria were untrue it would probably not be worth the fuel to bomb. Flying unescorted day bombing raids is usually a waste. Leaving good aircraft on a base with no fighter cover is an invitation.
Given some of these opportunities it was worth delaying some of our airforces own reorganisation, rest and recuperation for future turns.
Our opponents include very experienced players. So either the Soviets are about to reveal amazing new tactics unknown to me, they have gone aggressive too early or they have been caught napping on their airforces for a second turn - perhaps a combination of all 3. The kill ratio is 20 to 1 with Soviet losses skewed to modern airframes, although half our losses were fighters. And this ratio will be higher when damaged planes are written off when their airbases with bombed support are unable to repair them. At least in my experience this is a good tally for Axis turn 2. Or are these famous last words?
[previous post 57 has been moved to post 53 - this was post 58]
< Message edited by Telemecus -- 6/1/2018 6:08:24 PM >