Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

Lost Victories: Stalingrad Dec I 1942 (Soviet Move)


I’m falling a little behind here. I am attempting to catch it all up this week (famous last words)

The Germans did little damage their last turn, being more nuisance than threat to the Soviets. The weather is still frosty, but cold enough that the rivers are beginning to freeze.

Soviet reinforcements in the northern sector (click image to enlarge)

Soviet reinforcements in the northern sector (click image to enlarge)

Many Soviet reinforcements & replacements arrive this turn, including many fighters that have been repaired. The Soviets now have better defensive air coverage than they did the last turn. The bulk of reinforcements arrive from the north, but their movement is hindered by the rail hits to two important junctions, in Saratov and the town of Pavorino. In addition, more reinforcements are raised in Saratov and the newly captured city of Voronezh. Both of these factors combine to allow the Soviets to strengthen the northern sector of the line. The units in the photo that are circled have arrived on a low volume rail line that is not shown on this map, but is on the Total War maps. You’ll just have to trust me on this.

Being forced to use low volume rail lines eats away at Soviet rail capacity, unlike reinforcements arriving by rail on regular rail lines. Fortunately, the Soviets do not have to spend  any resource points this turn.

Soviet southern reinforcements (click image to enlarge)

Soviet southern reinforcements (click image to enlarge)

A few Soviet troops ( four divisions) follow the two Panzer cadres out of the Caucusus region. They push north to help finish off the abandoned Romanian troops.

Supply is critical in this area. I have run troops out of supply last turn without realizing I did it, so have to shorten up the lines a bit. Supply gets a little better after the snows begin to fall. During a normal game, overland and road components can be traced a maximum of 4 hexes each, but for this scenario, this has been extended to 5 hexes each. But the extreme ends of the line, especially on the southern side of the salient, are subject to outrunning the supply line. On the first turn it isn’t a very big deal, but the second and subsequent turns are a danger to those turns.

Soviet movement; Stalingrad salient (click image to enlarge)

Soviet movement; Stalingrad salient (click image to enlarge)

From the northwest of the Stalingrad Salient, Soviet troops begin to push south in order to cut the salient off, and turn it into a pocket. Two airbases are overrun in the process, destroying an irreplaceable Romanian IAR-81 fighter, an Me-109F (Luftwaffe) and a pair of resource points. A German 5-3-8 artillery regiment is also overrun, and a couple of Panzergrenadier units are surrounded.

The Germans fly a few defensive air support missions, and a couple of harassment missions that hinders Soviet movement, but does not prevent me from accomplishing my objectives this turn.

Soviet attacks, northern sector (click image to enlarge)

Soviet attacks, northern sector (click image to enlarge)

The northern sector is mostly consolidation and strengthening of the front line. On the southern flank of the line, the Soviets surround the German 27th Panzer Division, aiming to prevent it from escaping the attack. To the north, the 9th Corps moves back into the hex it was driven out of, but greatly reinforced.

Attacks are few because the Don River has not frozen yet.

Because the VVS was dedicated to harassment last turn, a large number of bombers are not available for missions this turn. However, there are bomber squadrons that have been replaced that are available.

Soviet attacks, Stalingrad salient (click image to enlarge)

Soviet attacks, Stalingrad salient (click image to enlarge)

The Axis, however, manage to steal the Soviet battle plans and provide defensive air support at key places. I’m not kidding. The Axis knew where I was attacking. I forgot to hide and password protect my attacks.

They lose some aircraft providing this support, however. The Germans lose a Ju-88A bomber, a Romanian IAR-81 dive bomber, and an Me-109F in exchange for a Soviet LaGG-3 fighter unit.

Realizing their situation is hopeless, the Romanians to the far south throw down their arms and surrender (Defender Eliminated). The attack on the German 52nd

Combat at the Stalingrad salient (click image to enlarge)

Combat at the Stalingrad salient (click image to enlarge)

Corps pushes the combined German/Romanian forces to the banks of the Don River (Defender Retreat). Similarly, the 47th Panzer Corps is also pushed back, allowing the Soviets to make contact with the southern portion of Stalingrad (Defender Retreat). An opportunity to destroy both a Panzergrenadier division and cadre that make up the 41st Panzer corps, also results in a Defender Retreat. There is no escape except through a Soviet zone of control, but German combat/motorized units can ignore zones of control when forced to retreat if they retreat to a hex occupied by friendly units, which is what they do.

Northern Sector Combat (click image to enlarge)

Northern Sector Combat (click image to enlarge)

The attack on the 27th Panzer Division results in an Attacker Stopped/No Effect (!) 

The Romanians making up the 41st corps crumble under Soviet pressure and surrender (Defender Eliminated), and the 59th corps retreats under the pressure (Defender Retreat). Finally, to the far north, the German 16th Corps is eliminated, but all units, including their cadres are eliminated due to the presence of Soviet zones of control. Exchange. The Soviets lose 14 points as a result.

Overall, not a very good combat series. The Soviets have given the initiative away to the Axis through the inability to score losses against the enemy. The Soviets have to regain the initiative.

North sector exploitation (click image to enlarge)

North sector exploitation (click image to enlarge)

During exploitation, the 6th Tank Army withdraws from its exposed position to a safer area that is also in supply. The three 9-7-8 tank corps, and a pair of Soviet Guards cavalry divisions move south to the banks of the Don River, placing them out of supply, but it places a large number of German units out of supply as well. This move is a gamble, not quite sealing the pocket, but the purpose of the move is to try to entice the Germans to move away from the Don River to the north, and allow Soviet forces to cross without opposition.

Southern sector exploitation (click image to enlarge)

Southern sector exploitation (click image to enlarge)

Experienced Europa players may be wondering why I have not initiated a push towards Rostov and Stalino at this point. Right now, the Soviets are at the end of their supply tether. Before any push can be made in that direction, one of two things must happen. One, Axis forces have to be pushed off the rail line that heads north to Voronezh, or two, Stalingrad must fall. Stalingrad is not going to fall anytime soon, so the only alternative is to take the northern rail line.

This area is void of rail lines that can be used for supply purposes, and the Soviets have no trucks. In the meantime, all I can do is keep pushing in the north and try to take the rail line by force, and try to create some breakthroughs that will force the Axis to back up.

Below are all of the off map corps markers so readers can see what units are in what corps. As always, click image to enlarge. Some of the photos are kind of dark, so I really need to take them when the sun is up and the cave isn’t so dark.

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