Lost Victories: The Battle of Stalingrad; Dec II 1942 (Soviet)
Победоносная Красная Армия!
The Soviet lines are starting to give way to German pressure. In the north, a breach has been formed, as well as a puncture in the wall surrounding the Stalingrad pocket. The front line across from the Italian front has been thinly held by Soviet forces, and so far, the Axis have not seen fit to try to break through.
With this in mind, reinforcements arriving this turn are applied to strengthen the northernmost flank and prevent any further German mischief there. Armor is brought in by rail and placed across from the Italians sitting on the desperately needed north-south rail line, not just to reinforce the Soviet line here, but to drive the Italians back and open up this vital supply line. No reinforcements are sent to the Stalingrad pocket.
Two Soviet corps on the southern end of the northern sector have out run their supply lines and must be pulled back (and are thus the target of Axis harassment). To the west, another Soviet tank corps has out run its supply line. It is also the target of Axis harassment.
The Axis fly multiple harassment missions, but some of the missions fail due to weather. Only three of the five succeed.
The newly arrived Soviet armor moves into the front line while those troops holding the line are diverted to other ares in order to reinforce the line. The gap to the extreme north is plugged by infantry and an artillery division.
The push against the Italians begins as armor attempts a low odds overrun against the Italian 3rd Motorized Division. For some reason, Jet shows the defense strength of the stack as 13, but is 11 in reality. At a dead even 4:1 odds with no DRMs, the armor fails to dislodge the Italians.
On the southern flank, the two out of supply corps are withdrawn, but the one on the extreme end is still unable to reach a supply line.
The attacks get underway, as the Soviets attack a German corps just southwest of Voronezh. Soviet pilots drive off Axis DAS (shooting down an Me-109F in the process), and attack at 3:1 odds, forcing the Germans to retreat. The Soviets are unable to follow up with an advance, because it would leave a vulnerable gap in the line. This calls into question the wisdom of that attack….
Soviet armor attacks the same Italians that they attempted to overrun, also at 4:1 odds, and get a Defender Half Eliminated result. The Axis choose to reduced the 3rd Motorized Division to a cadre, and eliminating the motorized Blackshirt brigade, thus saving the artillery regiment (a 6-4-8). The armor advances into the hes, but leaves behind a 12-8 Guards tank corps to hold the gap in the Soviet line, but it also sets up the next attack.
The Italians just south of the 3rd motorized division come under attack, also by Soviet armor supported by infantry and ski units. This attack is also at 3:1, and the Soviets force the Italians to retreat (Defender Retreat). The entire corps is destroyed, as there is no way out that is not through a Soviet Zone of Control.
On the end of the flank, the decision is made to attack the 11th Panzer Division, despite DAS from the Axis, as opposed to the very end of the flank held by a mix of German, Hungarian and eastern troops. This decision was made because two of the attacking corps have no attack supply. The attack is made at 3:1 odds (-2 DRM), and gritting my teeth, the result is a Half Exchange. The Axis lose 9 points (panzer division cadred and Italian construction unit eliminated), and the Soviets lose 5, but force the Germans back and off the rail line.
At Stalingrad, the Axis are quickly surrounded once again, entrapping the Romanians who had the audacity to try to force their way in. Since they wanted to be part of the pocket so badly, the Soviets oblige them, cutting off the newly opened supply line and re-isolating enemy forces within the pocket.
The soviets start putting the squeeze on the trapped Axis forces, drawing the noose ever tighter.
To the west, the Soviets inch around to get all units back into supply, and contemplate an attack on the westernmost corps. Ultimately, the attack is called off, as it would have been up an escarpment, and attack strength would have been halved.
In order to seal the pocket, the Soviets attack the southernmost Romanians. Air combat was inconclusive, but AA aborted a German Me-110E. Combat is at 6:1 (-1 DRM) and results in a Defender Retreat, eliminating the Romanians, and closing the breach.
On the north side of the pocket, the Soviets launch an attack against the airfield and supplies two hexes west of northern Stalingrad. Combat odds are 5:1, and the result is a Half Exchange. The Germans lose 5 points, and the Soviets lose 3 (a division). The Soviets advance into the hex to ensure the destruction of the Axis supplies as well as cutting off the German motorized heavy AA regiment to the northeast.
That battle occurs next at 6:1 odds (-2 DRM), and results in a Defender Retreat, destroying the entire German corps.
Now that the German pocket has been contained on the eastern banks of the Don, the attack against northern Stalingrad is launched. Because the Axis are completely out of supply, their defense strengths are halved. The resulting attack is at 5:1 odds (-3 DRM; weather, city, fort), and ends in a Defender Retreat. All but 2 infantry divisions (cadred) and a motorized combat engineer regiment are destroyed. The Tractor Works are saved.
The southern part of the city is initially at 3:1 odds, a single combat factor from 4:1. To ensure that the Soviets get the single point they need, the VVS flies 7 air units over the city (bombing factors are halved due to the nature of the mission, halved due the city itself, and halved again for weather). The Luftwaffe files a last gasp mission to intercept as many as they can. One Me-109F is damaged (aborted), but neither side loses any more planes to air combat. The second Me-109F makes it to a nearby undefended airbase.
After AA, the VVS provides just enough air support to get the single needed point to bring combat odds up to 4:1. Again, the DRM is -3 (city, weather, fort), and once again, while I close my eyes, the result is another Defender Retreat. Another two infantry divisions are cadred as they are forced out of the city, and a motorized assault engineer battalion is also force out of the city, where it continues to retreat to the end of the line due to stacking considerations.
Stalingrad is freed from Axis forces, and the Soviets score a second Victory Point.
The Soviets try to take advantage of the breakthrough on the Italian front to push into the rear of enemy lines, hoping to make them consider a withdrawal. While this does leave a gap in the Soviet lines, there are enough forces in the area to easily cut off and destroy any intruding enemy forces if need be.
But pushing through cuts off the supply of some Axis units (as well as isolating them), and threatens their rear areas as well as threatening a dash to Kharkov.
In the south, exploitation is used to pull back one of the weaker Soviet Tank corps. I did make a mistake and stacked two Soviet tank corps together without the required HQ units, making it an illegal stack, and making me double glad that I did not make that attack. The exploitation separates these two corps and brings them back to legal stacks.
The Axis lines are starting to show signs of strain, I think. The northern sector is growing shorter, and while the Axis seem to be pursuing a strategy of slowing down the Soviet advance by plugging whatever holes are made, sooner or later the Stalingrad pocket will be eliminated, and all of those forces will be released to push west. For now, they are being released a few at a time.
From this point forward, the Soviets have 4 turns left in which to take at least two more cities. Stalingrad has been liberated, and the Red Army Victorious. Now the race is on to trap Army Group A south of the Don River.