22 June 1941. The Axis powers invade the USSR. Soviet armed forces are completely unprepared.
There are around 3.45 mln Soviet soldiers positioned in the western district, including Caucasus and Finland front. However, units are poorly trained, unsupplied and ill equipped. There is also big shortage of officers.
Delay the Axis Powers and fight war of attrition. Intelligence informs that Germany has 1.5 mln manpower in reserves while Red Army can raise another 2.5 mln.
The first hours of the war showed that there is no way to defend borders therefore a simple decision was made – retreat to more defensive positions, wait for reserves and redeploy armies from Caucasus, Central Asia and Far East to the western district.
Transcaucasus Army 201k
North Caucasus Army 69k
Central Asia Army 129k
Transbaikal 17th Army 54k
Far Eastern 1st, 2nd, 15th and 25th Armies 255k
Two defensive lines are drawn. The first defensive line (red) runs through forests and behind rivers Nemunas (Lithuania and Belorussia), Dniester (Ukraine and Moldavia) and Pruth (Moldavia). When the first line will be breached, Red Army should slowly retreat to the second defensive line (pink) which runs behind Dvina River, through forests in Belorussia, Pripyat Marches and some hills in Ukraine. The second line should be held till enforcements from Far East will arrive.
It is very important not to let Germans invade planes
Increase industrial capacity. Intelligence informs that Germany has twice as big industrial capacity which could be a problem especially because STAVKA expects to lose some industrial cities.
20 new factories are building and some were transferred to Siberia. Almost all other industrial capacity is spent on supplies and reinforcements.
Objective 3: Improve army organisation. Units are too slow to reorganise after battles and strategic redeployment. Armour brigades are too cumbersome.
Relevant research priorities were chosen. Only few resources were dedicated to teaching of new officers.
1 July 1944. After almost one week of heavy fighting almost all Red Army retreated behind the First Defensive Line (red dashed). So far the line was breached only in few places: Germans took Torczyn and Romanians were able to cross Pruth River.
Situation in Karelia became not very promising. After some lost battles it became apparent that it will be not possible to hold railway line connecting Murmansk with the rest of Russia. It was decided to retreat and to take positions in hills around Murmansk. The rest of 14th Army was sent to block a road to Arhangelsk.
1 August 1941. The First Defensive line was breached in almost all sectors. Only Hungarian army did not dare to cross Dniester.
Kaunas fell on 8 July and Siauliai 16 July. After very heavy fighting Riga fell on 30 July Germans reached Dvina River. At the moment, the Red Army cannot stop Germans in forests. It means Dvina River is the only real natural obstacle on a road to Estonia.
Germans are also slowly but surely pushing the Red Army out of Lithuanian forests to plains and heading to Smolensk.
Armies from Caucasus arrived to Odesa front. Mountaineers took positions in hills and motorised divisions were deployed nearby in plains. Rumanian Army has tried several times to break through to Odesa but their assaults were successfully repelled.
In order to slow down German offensive the Red Army aviation started logistical bombing.
Casualties are heavy. Almost in every battle, the Red Army lost more soldiers then Germans did. Usual ratio 2:1.
1 September 1941
Situation in the South stabilised. Rumanians continue harassing Odesa Front but without much success.
Situation in the North is completely opposite. The Second Defensive line was breached. Germans crossed Dvina River, commenced assault on Velikie Luki and are advancing towards Minsk, Vitsyebsk, Smolensk and Kyiv.
Baltic Front is exhausted (you can see units deployed nearby Smolensk below) but reinforcements from Leningrad and Central Asia are expected.
Supplies are exhausted and fuel is disappearing very fast. Redeployment of the Far East armies is halted until supplies are replenished.
The Red Army lost around 300k (it needs 100k in reinforcements) just in two months. Germans are also short of around 300k but intelligence is not sure if numbers are wrong or new divisions are build.
subscribed - interesting. Just about to play USSR myself but only on hard. You have also made it difficult by starting at Barbarossa. I was thinking of starting at Blitzkrieg to give myself more options, but your approach does mean you are straight into the fighting.
Due to lack of supplies and poor Red Army organization, a couple of replacements were made in the Government. Field Marshal G. F. Zhukov replaced G. D. Bazilevich and K. A. Meretskov replaced M. N. Tuchatjevskij.
Situation in the Baltic Front is dire while situation in the Odesa Front became stable. There are two options to stabilise situation in the Baltic Front move one or two armies from the Odesa Front to the Baltic or start an offensive in the Odesa Front and draw German forces from the Baltic Front.
Redeploying armies from the Odesa Front could weaken position in the South and lead to Rumanian offensive. Besides it could take 1 or 2 months to redeploy forces.
The second option was chosen an offensive (code name Operation Skobelev) in the Odesa Front commanded by General I.S. Konev.
(Mikhail Skobelev was commander in Russo-Turkish War (1877/78) when Rumania, Serbia, Montenegro and Bulgaria received independence)
Objective 1: Defeat Rumania and Hungary, and defeat Slovakia and Croatia if this could be achieved.
Objective 2: Seize supplies from Rumanians and Hungarians.
Objective 3: Overthrow Rumanian and Hungarian governments and accept them into Comintern.
Objective 4: Weaken German forces in the Baltic Front and start counter-offensive.
Opposing armies: the Red Army (the Odesa Front) 600k, Rumanian Army 260k and Hungarian Army 360k.
Bukuresti Offensive the primary aim is to subdue Rumanian Government and force it to surrender.
Pruth Offensive the primary aim is to tackle the bulk of Rumanian Army while the main Red Army forces are assaulting Bukuresti.
Danube Defensive the primary aim is to stop Bulgarian invasion (around 100k Bulgarian army).
Cluj-Debrecen-Budapest Offensive the primary aim is to subdue Hungarian Government and force it to surrender.
Kosice Offensive the primary aim is to support Budapest Offensive and to cut off Hungarian army from Budapest.
Dniester Offensive the primary aim is to tackle and immobilise the bulk of Hungarian Army.
Bratislava Offensive the primary aim is to subdue Slovakian Government and force it to surrender.
Zagreb Offensive the primary aim is to subdue Croatian Government and force it to surrender.
Beograd Offensive the primary aim is to liberate part of Yugoslavia and take defensive positions on Bulgarian border and behind Danube River.
Dvina River and Smolensk Counter-Offensives the primary aims are to throw back Germans across Dvina River and relieve pressure from Smolensk.
Obstacles: Rumanian divisions around Bukuresti, Bulgarian Army, Hungarian divisions in Carpathian Mountains and around Budapest, German and Croatian divisions in Yugoslavia and Croatia, and Slovakian and German divisions in Slovakia.
There is no time limit but it is preferable to finish the operation January 1942.
Red arrows: First Phase;
Green arrows: Second Phase;
Blue arrows: Third Phase.
You might want to be a bit cautious at stripping Leningrad - those units left there, well organised and well dug in are quite a deterrent if it all goes v wrong elsewhere in the Baltic region ... good luck with the counter-offensive
loki100: It is quiet in the Leningrad Front. Only a couple of sorties are made from Petrozavodsk every month. I sent there some reinforcements.
I have estimated that I need at least 2 divisions for every Finish division. Finish divisions are stronger when Soviet but not as strong as German. I stationed more divisions where Finish could attack from multiple locations.
I have removed 2 corps and waited for a while to see if Finish will start offensive but everything is quiet so far and I hope it will stay like this for a while
After some fight, all divisions reached Pruth River. Two mechanised corps crossed the river and entered Iasi. General Konev expected to overrun retreating Rumanian divisions but due to organisational problems, mechanised corps stuck Iasi surrounded by Rumanians.
Bukaresti Offensive was more successful. Danube was crossed and retreating Rumanian divisions were encircled in Vylkove.
One mechanised corp stationed in Iasi will be will be replaced by infantry and will be sent to exploit Bukaresti Offensives breakthrough. Siege of Vylkove should not last long. Some divisions will disengage and continue Bukaresti Offensive. The Stavka is not very happy with the progress.
In the Baltic front situation has improved. With the help of two corps from Leningrad exhausted German divisions were pushed behind Dvina River.
Germans continue Minsk-Smolensk offensive. Minsk fell on 18 September. Vitsyebsk could fall any time. However, 4 corps have arrived from Central Asia and were deployed north of Smolensk. Fresh corps will be ready for operations within few days.
Some German divisions were sent to support Smolensk assault and an opportunity appeared for counter-offensive in Tarnopol sector. Units of 26th, 6th and 12th Armies without much resistance took Tarnopol and advanced 100km deep. However, caution was used and no further advance was continued because the advance was unprepared and unsupported.
Rumanians (around 25k) in Vylkove surrendered on 8 October.
Following stubborn resistance Constanta fell on 19 October. Two Rumanian divisions retreated to Bulgaria. Bulgarians and Rumanians organised counter-attack to retake Constanta.
Ploiesti fell on 20 October and Bukuresti assault commenced but Rumanian relieve forces retook Ploiesti and lifted Bukuresti siege. On 27 October the Red Army recapture Ploiesti and Bukuresti assault was renewed.
Bukuresti should fall within next two weeks and the Second Phase would begin.
Counter-offensives in the Baltic and Orel Fronts continued.
Daugavpils was taken on 12 October and Velikie Loki on 14 October. After very fierce fighting, Riga was recaptured on 31 October. The city in the process was leveled.
Vitsyebsk fell on 10 October and Demidov on 15 October. However, fresh divisions from Central Asia joined Battle of Smolensk. North Flank cut off Germans in Demidov and approached Vitsyebsk from the North. South Flank retook Vitsyebsk on 29 October and completed encirclement of 3 mechanised and 4 infantry German divisions (total of 62k).
Pinsk fell on 17 October. Germans continue offensive in the north of Pripyat Marches, probably towards Homyel or Kyiv. However, after Makharovka Counter-Offensive, the South West of Pripyat Marches was retaken and pressure from Kyiv was reduced.
1 December 1941.
The Second Phase of Operation Skobelev commenced.
Bukuresti fell on 4 November and Rumanian army surrendered on 5 November. Rumanian government fled to Bulgaria and continues to work in exile.
As it was expected, Bulgarian army launched an offensive and crossed Danube in several places with an aim to encircle and retake Bukuresti. Remnants of Rumanian army and several Bulgarian divisions took Constanta and continued advance north.
German army stationed in Yugoslavia crossed Rumanian border and mounted an assault on West Transylvanian Alps.
At the same time, Soviet motorised divisions crossed Transylvanian Alps and took Cluj and Debrecen without much resistance.
The Red Army divisions which crossed Carpathian Mountains met more resistance and were stopped for a week around Carei by 1 German and 3 Hungarian divisions, but several motorised divisions were able to disengaged and continue offensive towards Budapest.
Stanislawow Offensive followed. The Red Army successfully engaged and cut off the bulk of Hungarian army from the main offensive. Two motorised divisions broke through Hungarian defences near Lwow, continued advance (dashed arrow) and took Kosice by surprise without any resistance. One division remained to defend Kosice and the second subsequently engaged 1 German and 1 Hungarian divisions which advanced to reinforce Budapest.
Budapest should fall within few weeks and the Second Phase should be completed just on time before New Year.
Logistical situation is improving. Lots of fuel was captured in Bukuresti and supplies are slowly building up. General Konev expects more supplies in Budapest depots.
In the Baltic Front, Germans continued a counter-offensive in Riga sector in an attempt to encircle and retake the city.
The Red Army Smolensk Counter-Offensive was very successful. 62k Germans were taken prisoners at Demidov and Minsk was approached from the north.
Germans are slowly progressing deeper into Pripyat Marches but situation is not critical and new reinforcements are not expected in that sector.