Lost Victories: The Battle of Stalingrad; Dec II 1942 (Axis)
The Axis and the Soviets made a truce over the holidays in order to get their shopping done and spend time with family before everything is turned to rubble. It was our belief that this truce was to extend through the new year, but it should come as no surprise that the Axis took advantage and ended the truce shortly after Christmas.
You can’t trust anyone these days.
As the weather turns to snow and the rivers freeze, the Axis attempt to recover from the whipping they took last turn. The weather turning colder also shortens up the Soviet supply lines.
Supplies that were flown into the Stalingrad pocket (and that were just out of the reach of the Soviets) are expended to supply much of the westward forces. The troops in the city proper are still suffering from shortages. The following units were supplied:
- 29th panzergrenadier division (10-10)
- 44th motorized heavy AA regiment (2-10, 4 points AA)
- 333rd motorized engineer regiment (2-10)
- 60th panzergrenadier division (10-10)
- 44th infantry cadre (3-6)
- a pair of assault gun battalions
- 3rd panzergrenadier cadre (4-8)
- 14/A panzergrenadier regiment (small brigade); the last survivors of the 14th panzer division
The Axis reinforce the northernmost portion of the front, intent on driving Soviet forces back across the upper Don, and to strengthen portions of the defensive line.
Ju-87D dive bombers are sent over Voronezh to bomb the airfield there. Soviet interceptors fly up, but air combat is inconclusive. Antiaircraft fire, however, aborts one Ju-87D, while forcing the other to return to base, aborting the mission.
The Italian construction regiment begins construction on a fort, but is also reinforced by the 14th panzer division. (Don’t think I didn’t notice that slip in there, Lee. =) )
The Axis attack Soviet forces along the upper Don River, destroying the Soviet corps, but the Soviets are able to inflict a few casualties of their own (Half Exchange, Soviets lose 12 CF, Germans lose 6 CF). Because none of the Soviet units have cadres, the entire corps is destroyed.
A little further south on the Don, the Germans, supported by the Hungarians attack a minor salient where the Soviets have a bridge across the river. Attacking at 4:1 odds (lowered from 5:1 with the assistance of Soviet bombers flying defensive support), the Axis can only force the Soviets to retreat (Defender Retreat). Since all the exits are covered by the Axis, all retreating Soviet units are eliminated.
In the Stalingrad sector, the Axis fall back towards Stalingrad, consolidating the pocket. Supported by the Romanians, the Axis attack the 13th Tank Corps at Kalach-na-Donu while they are off doing their shopping. Soviet aircraft come to support the defenders, but lose an Il-2 bomber, and two others are damaged (aborted). The Axis also send ground support, and are able to barely garner a 4:1, and roll an Exchange. The Axis completely destroy the Soviet corps at Kalach, but lose 16 combat factors (The Soviets lose 25 attack factors with the loss of the corps). The cadre is also destroyed due to it being unable to retreat through zones of control.
The Axis have successfully poked a hole in the Soviet encirclement, and allow supplies to flow into the pocket. However, the units in Stalingrad proper are still unable to receive supplies, as they are outside of the limit of the supply line leading out.
Overall, the Soviets had 46 CF in un-isolated losses, to 16 un-isolated and 6 isolated losses for the Axis.
During the exploitation phase, due to the heavy presence of Soviet fighters, the Axis attempt to fly supplies in at night. Two Ju-52 transports crash and burn during the night landing attempt. Only 4 general supply points are delivered to the pocket.
I know how that feels, to make a risky move (sometimes out of necessity), and it doesn’t work out. That happens to me a lot.
The German 60th panzergrenadier division pushes out of Kalach to protect the Romanians and hold the supply line open.
The bright side to taking a pounding is that it is a lot more replacements available for the Soviets. Fortunately for me, the front line did not change too much, and the Stalingrad pocket can be reformed next turn. There is only a single Axis corps west of the Don River. All others are trapped between the Don and the Volga.
The question becomes not if the pocket can be liquidated, it becomes how fast I can get it done.