Across the Dnepr: Second Edition After Action Report

Across the Dnepr: Second Edition After Action Report

Part One

(Read part two here.)


Across the Dnepr: Second Edition is an updated and improved version of the original scenario released for Korsun Pocket. ATD II has been completely reworked to bring it up to the latest Kharkov standard.

The battle itself is an epic contest, with four German armies on one side and an (almost) inexhaustible supply of Russians on the other side. While the Germans begin the battle with many advantages, the natural attrition of their own attacks plus the force of Soviet counterattacks can combine to wear down their forces.

SSG’s programmer General Keating has, in his colorful language, been tasked with kicking in the rotten door of Russia and clearing the way to Moscow. Long time SSG tester General Alston is required by the Stavka to halt the fascist invaders and then expel them from the Motherland, a tall order indeed.

The objectives for the Germans are to take the western cities of Vitebsk, Orsha and Mogilev as soon as possible and then fight their way east. The northern formations, 2nd Panzer Army and 9th Army are aimed at Smolensk and then continue clearing the way to Moscow. The southern formations, 3rd Panzer Army and 4th Army must fight their way to Roslavl and point further east.

The objective for the Russians is to delay rather than defeat the invaders. Most of the Russian units will be eliminated; their task is to make their sacrifice useful, either by buying time or taking some Germans with them. The quality of Russian units varies widely, but they do have some powerful formations which can be used for counterattacks which can severely embarrass the Germans.

Turn 1

This is the situation at the end of Turn 1 (see Shot 1). It shows an overview of the whole map, with Russian lines highlighted in red, German forces in gray and major objectives and possible lines of advance also shown.

Shot 1

The Soviet forces would like Stalin to know that they have not been running for their lives, but have made a series of tactical adjustments to their dispositions which have resulted in them taking up positions exactly as far to the east as they would have reached, had they indeed being fleeing at top speed. Soviet artillery was very short of transport at this stage of the war, which had the unfortunate affect of limiting the scope of their tactical movements. Circumstances often conspire to cast them in the unfortunate role of speed humps for the Blitzkrieg.

Main Soviet defensive lines are shown on the map in red and possible German axes of advance towards critical objectives are shown in gray.

German forces in the south have no choice but to force their way across the Dnepr at Mogilev (see Shot 2). German leg infantry can cross the Dnepr without too much trouble, but mechanized and armored troops need a real bridge. The Germans do have a number of pontoon units, but these are well to the rear, along with most of the German infantry divisions.

Shot 2

There are bridges across the Dnepr both above and below Mogilev, but they are somewhat inconveniently located and take time capture/repair, so its usually better to just blast through at Mogilev.

The situation at Orsha is similar. The Germans need to advance along both banks of the Dnepr, in order to prevent Russian forces from escaping encirclement by slipping across the river. Also, taking Orsha is critical to German supply lines, so another siege is in order. This task might be easier than General Keating suspects, as General Alston has retreated virtually all his units across the river, leaving only a token force of defenders in the city hex (see Shot 3).

Shot 3

Shot 4

A competent German general should be able to take Vitebsk on Turn 1, and General Keating has done so (see shot 4). You can see that General Alston has adjusted his lines well to the East of Vitebsk. He has also defended in depth. A serious German attack is capable of crushing any single Russian stack, and German armor that gets behind the Russian lines is capable of creating catastrophic encirclements. The only viable Russian defense is to have two lines of defenders in all but the most difficult terrain.

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