From: Utlima Thule
The final week of fighting in September saw more heavy losses for both sides with 45,000 Axis soldiers killed or badly wounded and 250,000 Soviets (of whom 170,000 surrendered at Rzhev and Kharkov). In the Ukraine the bulk of 26 Army was surrounded near Kursk which finished off SW Front as an effective force. In the north, Kalinin fell but NW and Leningrad Fronts escaped encirclement. However, the Moscow sector saw a major Soviet offensive on a vast arc from the Moskva-Volga canal to Tula.
Again the Luftwaffe tried to draw the VVS into battles around Moscow but the revised Soviet doctrine, combined with a major re-organisation of the fighter squadrons meant that losses were far more even. 156 German and 525 Soviet planes were lost but critically the VVS was still able to support RKKH ground operations, especially around Moscow . In total, September had seen 480 German and almost 2000 Soviet planes lost. Despite this, the VVS was able to field much the same number of operational planes (4,900) as at the start of the month.
At least one of the Panzer groups operating north of Moscow swung away from the city in an attempt to envelop NW and Leningrad Fronts. The other was bogged down along the Moskva-Volga canal and took heavy losses as Soviet forces tried to regain ground lost in mid-September.
Torshok and Kalinin were captured but Vysgny Volochek was held. After a long debate, it was agreed to pull NW and Leningrad fronts back .
Stavka was giving serious consideration to pulling the bulk of the Leningrad Front into reserve (I can leave 7 and 32 Armies in the sector – they can be picked up by the Volkhov Front when that activates) and bring 24 and 27 Armies to bear either on the Moskva-Volga canal or to reinforce Bryansk Front thus protecting the southern flank of Moscow.
At Sevastopol, heavy rains prevented any operations by either side. In the lower Don, the Germans pressed towards Rostov while the Panzer Group detected south of Bryansk createed yet another pocket, this time at Kursk.
With this in mind, Stavka ordered SW Front to retire towards Voronezh leaving weak rearguards on the most likely axis of advance. S Front shifted its focus to the south to keep in contact with the elements of N Caucasus Front around Rostov.
Accepting that the Ukrainian Fronts were now too weak, for the first time Stavka sent a sizeable reinforcement to that sector 
However, at Moscow, Stavka ordered a major offensive that unfolded from the 28th. Once it was clear that the German armoured reserves were committed, and moving away from Moscow, it was decided to gamble on a major offensive before the German infantry freed from the Rzhev battles was able to reach the front.
To the north, 55 Army hit 19 Panzer clearing the west bank of the Moskva-Volga canal
(KV-1 in action in support of 55 Army)
In the centre, Reserve Front drove in exposed infantry formations on the Moskva river sector.
However, the main attack was launched by West Front leading to two German infantry divisions being cut off and heavy losses inflicted 
(elements of Western Front in action along the Oka)
The Ukrainian Fronts continue to shrink (now down to 1.1m) but I am finally sending some fresh units to them. Not least I want to pull my largely cavalry armies out of the line so they can recover in time for December.
Since I am now pretty much finished with factory evacuations, I am able to bring up a lot of the reserve formations from the Urals. These should be allocated to the front line formations in early October.
Last turn I included a report on my few competent units, here are a bunch of formations who really should be guarding something non-essential in Kamchatka ....
In September, the overall Soviet military strength remained constant at around 4.5m despite almost 600,000 losses (of which 310,000 were taken prisoner). However, Soviet armoured forces shrunk from 3,700 to 2,500 as losses escalated (1,200 were destroyed) and production collapsed as industry was sent to the Urals. By comparison it was estimated that the Axis forces had lost 150,000 men and 550 tanks.
Soviet production slowed badly. Spare armanents were down to 78,000 compared to 230,000 at the end of August. However, manpower reserves were steadily improving from 140,000 to 230,000.
Although the losses of men and machines were crippling, September had also seen nearly catastrophic losses in terms of territory. Despite the recent attacks, the Germans were firmly entrenched north and south of Moscow and the Soviet fronts in the north and the Ukraine had effectively collapsed as organised formations.
With Moscow, threatened, the Ukraine lost and Soviet forces in the north in disarray it was vital to try and equip all the new formations forming up in the deep rear. As such, Soviet industry was working at near full potential, but this potential was badly depressed by the disruption of having had to evacuate so much:
In general, immediate reserves of supplies, key resources, ammunition and trucks were adequate for current operations:
However, all forms of heavy weapons were in short supply and the armanents needed to replenish these were dropping alarmingly.
Stavka's planning for October was driven by a simple lack of choice. Around Moscow there was no choice but to fight to hold the current lines. Multiple defensive belts now lay to the west of the city and additional fortifications were being dug to the rear to prevent any chance of the Germans cutting the rail links to the Urals. The counteroffensive by Western Front gave some hope (especially as the Panzer Group had been committed at Kursk not Orel) that the threat to the south of the city had been ended.
However, there were two Panzer Groups to the north and it was assumed the German infantry formations that had just destroyed the Rzhev pocket would soon start to attack Reserve Front.
Beyond Moscow, the priority now was to preserve as much of the current army. Apart from at Rostov, there would be no more committed defensive operations. Equally it was essential to pull the handful of mobile forces composed of cavalry and tank brigades into reserve so as to refit. These were 34 Army (West), 43 Army (Bryansk), 50 Army (N Cauc) and 51 Army (South). Stavka reserves had enough mobile formations to equip another mobile army and this would be allocated to replace the losses in SW Front.
The location of these armies indicated that the Ukraine was the most likely sector for their commitment.
The other decision was what to do with Leningrad Front. One option was to split it, leaving two armies in the North and bring the rest into reserve. It could then be used on the Moskva-Volga canal operations or to ensure that Tula remained in Soviet hands.
Equally if it was left in its current position, it posed a threat to the Germans in the north, forcing them to keep more formations in that sector.
 – we discussed this by email, it seems the German planes are limited in my turn due to having been heavily used in their turn. I guess the reverse applies too?
 – we still haven't had a random mud turn at Moscow but I've now lost so much in encirclements that I cannot risk another significant loss.
 – I've now completed my evacuations and don't want to pull out any more. My only major loss was at Stalino. I've left most of the Moscow factories as I hope to hold the city and can then move those factories in the winter. Equally I have so many damaged and disrupted factories at the moment that my actual production is very low – ideally I need to stagger any secondary moves until the first batch come back into operation.
 – my gamble here is we finally have mud around Moscow, in which case they will suffer badly from attrition, even if I can't destroy them
< Message edited by loki100 -- 1/19/2014 4:24:06 PM >