Torch PBEM: Axis Nov II 42
This is Gonna Hurt!
The Allies are creeping east towards Tunisia. At least, it feels like they are creeping. Units are on the Tunisian border, but have stopped there.
I’m relieved because I finally get some Panzer units. A Panzer regiment, a Panzer battalion, and a motorized regiment are due to arrive.
All are shipped from off map locations (Vichy France and/or Italy). There are two groups that are shipped from Europe; one bound for Tunis, and the other bound for Bizerte. The armored forces are bound for Bizerte, because of plans to attack Combat Command B of the 2nd Armored Division, sitting on the Tunisian border, where it is vulnerable.
They are vulnerable because they are sitting on the border and there is no help for miles. I want to give them a shock if nothing else.
Inbound to Bizerte:
- 7th Panzer Regiment (5-3-10*)
- Italian 1st Infantry Division (4-6)
- SV 287 Motorized Regiment (2-10)
- 190th Panzer battalion (2-1-10)
- 1 step of supply
The 7th Panzer Regiment, however, isn’t so lucky. It is sunk in transit.
So, my plans are wrecked, but beyond that this is going to leave a mark. I can’t replace the unit until the end of January, two months away. Rommel’s forces from Libya will arrive before then. So much for the desire to rebuild his Panzer divisions.
With the exception of the Panzer battalion currently in country, and the Panzergrenadier regiment (the rest of the 10th Panzer Division) that is scheduled to arrive on the December I 42 turn, the Axis have no armor, and the Allies currently have an armored brigade on the border, and another making its way towards the front. If a Panzer Division has no Panzers, is it still a Panzer Division?
This could be a potential game changer, depending on how the Allies react.
Inbound to Tunis:
- Italian SM marine regiment (counts as part of on-map shipping)
- 2 points German heavy antiaircraft
- 2 points German light antiaircraft
One of the light AA units makes contact with Allied naval forces and is returned to Palermo, while the rest make it through to Tunis.
Here’s where the Axis stand.
In Tunis, the engineers begin construction of the fort, to be done on the Dec II 42 turn. On the next turn, a second engineer regiment will arrive and build the airfield.
Meanwhile, because all units are unsupported, there are only 2.5 points of defense in Tunis. No artillery arrives until Dec II, about the time the fort is completed.
I had considered sending the marines out after some of the Vichy units, but the realities of the defensive situation preclude me from sending them off on a wild goose chase and leaving Tunis more vulnerable than it already is. Plus, if all of these unsupported units start running all over Tunisia chasing the Vichy, they are vulnerable to being overrun, unlike the situation in Narvik, where overruns were not allowed.
Meanwhile, cozy in Fortress Bizerte, there is an infantry division, a parachute regiment and a battalion of Panzers. Total defense there is 7 points, as the division is supporting the other units.
Because of the lack of tanks and support, the Axis are not ready for offensive operations. The lost regiment cannot be replaced until January II 43, when the Malta status number is 6, making it more difficult for the replacements to get through. It sucks, because this is when the Allies are at their most vulnerable, with unsupported engineers building airbases on the border.
Since I have no offensive punch, the only thing saving my butt is that the Americans aren’t getting very good gas mileage. I am vulnerable to the Allies driving towards Sousse and Sfax, and cutting my forces in half.
The Luftwaffe, in the meantime, is assigned the task of finishing the job at Bone, completely destroying the port. I seriously damaged the port last turn, and I want the job finished. All available assets are assigned to this task, including 5 bombers and 5 escorts to face the four Allied fighters in the area. The goals are twofold here. Finish the port off, and challenge the Allied fighters, and maybe we can take some of them down, especially the hated Spitfires.
One Italian fighter, the MC.202, is flying extended escort from Tunis, and it is sent as a decoy. Because it is flying at extended range, it has it’s air ratings dropped by two (it drops from a 6F5 to a 4F3). It is hoped that it is perceived as weaker, and draws Allied fighters to it.
It draws the Allied fighters like flies to honey. It goes through two Allied patrol attacks before it is finally returned home, but it did its job of keeping Allied patrols off the backs of the other escorts.
Air combat is not decisive, with both sides continuing to vie for air superiority. The Americans send a couple of escorts home, but fail in their attempt to down one of the Ju-88A bombers.
The Axis, on the other hand, fail to do much damage to the Americans, aborting a P-38G fighter, while having two of the escorts returned to base, but accomplishing little else.
The bombing run over Bone is again wildly successful, putting another 3 hits on the port, maxing out the damage the port can receive and shutting it down. It may not remain shut down, but it will keep Allied engineer units busy, preventing them from working on other important projects.
So far, the Luftwaffe has been highly effective, however, fighters on both sides haven’t been doing much.
The Allies to the west have a long ways to go. The Americans have armor on the border, with the British bringing another armor brigade forward. Two brigades against none.
I like those odds!