From: Utlima Thule
T45 – 26 April 1942
Weather is clear skies and light mud over most of the front (still much worse around Leningrad). But there are patches of heavy mud all over the place. Next turn looks like a return to heavy rains.
Seems the Soviets are carrying on with their irrational hatred of my Italians.
Experimenting a little with AD design. That large Soviet force at Orel is very dependent on the dual track rail to the NW so ran a rail-interdiction mission. Didn't do a lot of damage but that added around 5-6,000 units of usage to each hex (the on map interdiction is a secondary bonus). Depending on their usage (& that junction is also supplying their forces south of Vyazma too) that could add a bit of an extra problem to their freight shipments (remember that interdiction 'usage' is treated differently to normal operational usage when its cleared the next logistics phase).
Anyway, spent some time thinking of options, especially with that weather forecast and ended deciding to do very little. Pulled units back to optimise CPP gain, occupied a vacated Kursk and took Kerch after the Soviets had abandoned that region. This handily released the Pzr Corps that I'd been using there so it can refit and then act as a reserve for the opening attacks.
Other than that, still managing the refit cycle as well as I can and trying to fill in some secondary parts of the rail net, especially where I plan to make my opening attacks.
So that was a short post and I think we can treat this turn as the end of winter for all intents and purposes.
So some reflections as it was my first time as the Axis.
First the key context, I really botched T11-T16 and that is going to be the most important feature going forward. Not only did I make no real gains I actually inflicted far too few losses on the Soviets as I went off an excited squirrel hunt.
Now the good thing? Well the front line was probably well laid out but only if your interest was being able to optimise supply. Only the 9A was so badly placed that it effectively dropped off the supply net.
I didn't lose much. Vyazma, which took long enough to take the sting out of any Soviet offensive towards Smolensk and Kursk, which was indefensible and I probably shouldn't have taken.
As Steven's posts make clear the weather made a mess of his plans at Leningrad, all those turns of light snow meant that a well equipped AGN never came under pressure. Now, personally I'm not sure the Soviets can do much on this sector but in effect the current front is exactly as it was at the start of December.
Unfortunately due to some pretty unnecessary comments in the game he took over from Robert, we won't get his views on what happened so you'll only get my perspective.
So, logistics. I've kept a running commentary here so I'll pull it together. First you are going to take a lot of losses in December-January and I don't think there is much you can do about it. Gaining level 2 forts out of the front lines is not easy as fortified units can be hard to reinforce to the point where they actually function.
I basically created 3 supply bastions, one never moved (Pskov), the other two rotated around Smolensk and Kharkov respectively. Every now and then I dismantled these two to improve my secondary network. The remaining FBD worked behind AGC and AGS to give me secondary lines.
One experiment was to set border depots to high priority one turn and then low the next. The theory is these should grab some freight that can't make it to the front depots and then that has a shorter journey (ie can cope with more congested rail lines) the next turn. I'm not sure this really worked not least as depots will only take freight if they perceive a local demand (so priority is not the only condition). I found Warsaw worked consistently but that hosts OKH (with a lot of SU), elsewhere this seemed to be rather hit and miss.
Second big bit is managing the army. You won't be able to push many replacements to the front and actually you don't want to (they will just get frostbite etc) until late February. But you need to manage your formations so none slip to unready and ideally none go below 30% TOE. I think you have to set a 'budget' of 'x' divisions per turn out of the line to recover, as the fresh units arrive from the West that gives you some leeway. But this is not easy to do, deep snow and often poor terrain really slows your movement so the journey to a decent depot takes around 3 turns. I don't think there is any magic solution here, just grinding your way through the CR and taking notes as to which units you need to move (it really helps to have an opponent like Steven who doesn't think taking a week over each turn is a good idea).
So here is my list of my worst German infantry divisions for their current TOE:
On balance, reasonably happy with how I've managed that aspect.
As to the Panzers, the killer is not outright losses but damaged tanks. So pull all your armoured SU out very early and dump in either the reserve or OKH. Just do without them as all that will happen is they will be lost. Harder with the Pzrs but ideally you don't want to fight with them and you never want to be retreated. But of course you need them … sigh.
The Pzr replacement battalions are so valuable here. Fit out in the reserve, send to OKH and they can be in the Pzr division next turn. Just try to hold back if you can, again at least into February or those nice new tanks just become damaged. In the end I've had to pull 2 Pzr divisions off map to refit, the rest I've managed on map (in the short term this is compensated by the two Pzr divisions released from the West).
So a few tables.
Loss tables over the winter. So here we've both suffered. I've just over doubled my totals but the re-assuring one is the captured line. Nothing lost, or shattered and most routs were Italian or Rumanian formations. The Soviets have lost 1.6m men (900k permanent) and 20,000 guns (and from experience that hurts).
Some idea of my actual tank losses. In a way the bits that really matter are Pzr III and IV and there I lost 640 (960 to 1600) – my view is trashing a few French tanks and even the Czech ones doesn't matter too much.
And the OOB. Which is less good, the Soviets have gained 1.6m men and 16,000 guns (I'm not too worried about planes or tanks). That is a lot of formations, lets say the equivalent of 160 rifle divisions, so its clear that any attack is going to run into multiple lines and lots of fortifications. Hence the minimal goals below.
This has come up in a discussion in M60's AAR so I'll say something here. Clinging to the poor terrain to the east of Bryansk is an important sub-goal for the axis player. By the time you can return to some sort of offensive operations, it is a hugely vital shield, if you are dug in, it can be safely held by a line of infantry divisions.
To me, its a vital pivot for any 1942 offensive into the more open terrain. If the Soviets hold that belt, you have to commit a large mobile reserve to the Smolensk sector given the threat of an advance. Basically in 1942, well dug in German units in poor terrain demand a lot of Soviet effort to shift. By 1944, they have the capacity to bust open any defensive line.
(the image is from T49 – but makes the point of how I am using that sector).
So what now. Well I'm not sharing the plans … clearly I've decided to clear out the Crimea. That will free up 11A and a Pzr Corps. The Hungarians and Italians are handy for filling in gaps.
My basic goal is to have the historical HWM score by the end of 1942. Any more is nice. In effect I am playing for the December 1944 victory test.
One thing, first goal is destroyed units, VP come second. If I shed the +6 for removing even a few divisions I'll take the trade off.