Stalingrad: December I, 1942 (Axis move)
It’s been awhile since I have been able to play. Life for me got crazy the last few weeks. I mean, absolutely buried. It was work, go home, eat, work some more, then sleep. Lather, rinse, repeat. Times when I was so tired I couldn’t think straight, and honestly, I am not about to go campaigning when I can’t think straight. I can hear you guys in the peanut gallery! Hopefully that is in the rear view mirror now and I can update at a quicker pace than I have been able to.
The German turns are being written from the Soviet point of view. I have no idea what Lee is thinking about or what he is planning, so there may be times when I am wrong about his intentions.
I also discovered that there were several Axis units in the rear areas that I overlooked. These units are not formidable, but they do exist. The photos will show a progression of me correcting this.
When last we looked, there was a gaping hole left in the Axis line where the Romanians were vaporized. The Soviets pushed slowly into the breach, pushing as far as the outskirts of the little town of Millerovo. Voronezh was captured, and a strong Panzer division (16-10) was destroyed. This leaves the Germans, not counting forces in the Caucasus Mountains, with 3 full strength Panzer divisions (one in the Stalingrad pocket) and two Panzergrenadier divisions, both in the forming pocket.
The weather is frosty. Snow has not yet arrived, and the rivers are beginning to freeze. They will be frozen next turn. This means that all minor rivers will have no effect, and all major rivers (Don, Volga, Dnepr) will be treated as minor rivers.
Two Panzer cadres return from the Caucasus Mountains, along with some heavy AA, an antitank battalion and a Panzer battalion.
These units move along the southern edge of the border, taking trains to move towards the southern end of the front. The Romanian 20th Infantry is being left to hold its position in the ravines, out of supply. It looks like the German armor is approaching to slow the Soviet advance from the south down.
The Germans generally shuffle units around to strengthen weaker points while the bulk of the Soviet Air Forces harass the escape route from Stalingrad in a bid to hold the German infantry within the pocket. It would surprise me if the German armor abandoned the infantry.
The 6th Panzer Division (16-10) moves from Rostov to reinforce the Germans in the Stalingrad pocket, while the 27th Panzer (14-10) is dispatched from Kursk, near the top of the map, to Voroshilovgrad. Other than this Panzer Division and a couple of Panzer battalions, the rest are just security and support forces.
The Germans also reorganize a couple of infantry divisions in order to gain some replacements. No attempt is made to close the gap the Soviets are standing in. (To clarify the photo to the right, there are two cavalry divisions that moved during Soviet exploitation, and the Romanians that are out of supply deep in the south are also isolated)
Luftwaffe raids are deep behind Soviet lines. Over the intervening years since the last I played this game, I have definitely forgotten how horrible Soviet pilots are at this stage of the war. This move by the Luftwaffe was also not unexpected, as the Soviets currently have a shortage of fighter aircraft and airbases. The targets are railroad lines airbases. The Soviets only manage to return a couple of bombers, but the Soviets lose another fighter (Yak-7B) and a bomber (IL-4) that was making a harassment run (this bomber was unescorted, again a by-product of the lack of fighters and airbases. The purpose behind bombing rail lines at Saratov and at the town of Pavorino is because most Soviet reinforcements coming from the north get a free ride on the rails from the north. This bombing impedes this movement, but the Soviets can still make their way around down the front line, then onto low volume railroads, which does cost rail capacity. The Luftwaffe succeeds in placing two railroad hits, and an airbase hit, destroying a Soviet Li-2 transport air unit in the process.
What really surprises me is that the Germans only attack in two places; one attack just north of Voronezh, resulting in a Defender Half Eliminated result. The remaining Soviet forces are pushed to the edge of the map, to the brink of being pushed out of play. The other attack is from the Stalingrad pocket, using mechanized forces to push the Soviets back (Defender Retreat). That’s it.
There has been no attempt by the Axis to close the breach, stabilize the line or pull forces out of the Stalingrad area (of course, with all the harassment bombing, the infantry units would not have made it very far). The Axis obviously have something else in mind.
During the exploitation phase, the 27th Panzer moves forward to the southern flank of the northern Axis line. A little bit of a shuffle occurs in the Stalingrad salient (which is probably the better term at this time instead of pocket) in what appears to be preparation to keep a supply line open to the city.
So it is back to me. The weather is frosty, the rivers are cold. Sounds like a good time for a polar bear swim!
At least with all the hits, the construction units will have something to keep them busy.
The goal next turn is to expand the breach, cut off Sixth Army, and begin pushing into the Axis rear to mess with their supply lines. However, I am obviously having my own issues with supply lines, and I have to shorten up the southern front in order to keep my units in supply. This is one area that Jet is very handy, in that I can use it to figure out how far my supply lines extend, and how far my units can go before committing myself to a move.