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Hawke0

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I haven't played majors particularly often. My countries of choice are typically no larger than Japan, with Nationalist China, Communist China, Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece, and France being some of my preferred ones. I once tried the Soviet Union, and did what I jokingly called a 'Nice Stalin' game, which is to say no purge. It was looking to be an epic battle, but then the AI Germany messed up and got a Panzerarmee stuck in Norway for three years. Ultimately, I steamrolled the Axis in mid-1943. This AAR you're reading will be the product of me deciding to pursue a similar 'Nice Stalin' game once again, but taking the concept further. Things you can expect are:

No Purge, of course.
No Winter War or Bessarabia claims. I'll use diplomacy and espionage to expand my sphere of influence. (If communists come to power in Finland, I'm giving them back the core territories so they'll actually join the Comintern. Call it cheating if you wish.)
Operation Unthinkable? Maybe.
Tuchachevsky leading the march into Berlin. Probably.
Hard mode! My first game playing on it, rather than just handicapping myself on Normal.
Rockets, lots of rockets.
Partial AI command.
Five year plans.
Occasional dry humor.
Self awareness.

I'm a ways ahead from where I'm at in my Italy AAR, and wanted to do something else to bide my time while I catch up. This'll go on at the same time, and be a secondary priority until the Italy AAR is completed.
 

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I'm really liking your Italy AAR, so I'll probably follow this. Are you using CGM for this one too?
 

Hawke0

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Only to rearrange that mess of a military. And to build three extra interceptor wings with the IC freed by deleting all those redundant HQ's. Everything stays, even the cavalry and worthless battleships.
 

Hawke0

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Part I: The Five Year Plan
Over the decades since the Russian Revolution, great progress had been made in the modernization of the Workers' State. The Russia that stood now was certainly not the one that was defeated by the Germans so few years ago, but there was still so much more to be done. Russian production was backwards and inefficient, and the people were poor and the population divided and resentful of the Soviet government. The Red Army and VVS were large, but poorly armed, poorly trained, and by and large, poorly led. Russia was in a poor position to have a blue water navy, however good the ships or captains might've been, and they weren't good at all. The Black Sea was throttled by the Bosporus Strait and then opened up into the Mediterranean, where the Regia Marina and Royal Navy each exceeded the power of the Red Navy. The small, enclosed Baltic Sea was where capital ships went to die meaningless deaths. In the Far East, Japan contained the naval base at Vladivostok, and their experiments with naval aviation made them a uniquely dangerous enemy even to ships that stayed in port. Though, the Control Clique was an unpopular ruling party, and there were significant Communist organizations within the country. With our aid, these organizations could potentially spread the world revolution that had surprisingly, and disappointingly failed to materialize yet.

This strategy for spreading the revolution was the one to be adopted not only in Asia, but in Europe. The Soviet Union held claims against Finland and Romania, but the former had no important friends and the latter a good many enemies. The communists had failed to take power in the Finnish Civil War, but perhaps they could do better in an election than they could do in combat? A communist government in Romania would naturally lean towards the USSR, and with their independence and continued control of Bessarabia guaranteed they would naturally fall into the Soviet sphere of influence. The other significant European neighbor of the USSR, Poland, would eventually be made to suffer the vengeance of the Red Army for the humiliation received during the Polish-Soviet War, not twenty years ago. But Poland and France had joined into a defensive alliance against Nazi Germany, and Germany had been courting Poland into it's 'Anti Comintern Pact' - any military action saw a risk of uniting Europe against the USSR, a war that it was nowhere near ready to fight. It was best to let events take their course, in time Poland would either join their pact or come into conflict with Germany, and Russia grew stronger all the while. Eventually, there would be an opportunity.

In light of these facts, several goals were set for the new Five Year Plan of the Union Of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Production methods and efficiency must be modernized, and the industrial base itself be expanded by roughly 25%.
Education would receive more emphasis, and with it more funding. The new generation would be the backbone of the Rodina, and it should be strengthened regardless of the cost.
The nation must be unified, to prepare for whatever may happen. Government controls on civilian life would be loosened, to some extent, to encourage the process. Winning hearts and minds, rather than mere obedience was paramount in the event of an invasion. Fear only won obedience when it could be backed by force, and who knows what some Ukrainians or Belorussians might do if they found themselves under a yoke they preferred?
The Red Air Force would be expanded, equipped with new, modern equipment, and new tactical doctrine would be put into effect.
The Red Army would be expanded and modernized, with special attention paid to the tank arm.
By subterfuge and diplomacy, the Revolution would be spread and the Comintern expanded.
 

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January-June 1936
Part II: The State Of The Soviet Military In 1936
Towards the end of 1935, the Red Army had undergone a major reorganization. The troops in the West were organized under four main Theatre's. When mobilized, the Arkhangelsk HQ would command 200,000 combat troops, including three light armor divisions and a small cruiser force to defend Leningrad. Three hundred aircraft were ready for action at a moments notice, with 200 fighters and 100 single engine bombers.


The Smolensk Front, guarding the Western border down to the Pripyet Marshes, would command 320,000 men after mobilization including two armored corps in its two component armies and held immediate control over 300 fighters. STAVKA reserves, stationed East of Smolensk would hold some 240,000 infantrymen and 200 fighters, and 146,000 active soldiers stood on the Manchurian border. The Kyiv Front, running from the Pripyet Marshes to the Black Sea was the strongest, with nearly 400,000 men ready to be called up. It was unique in that it commanded the 9ya Tankovaya Armiya, the only armored formation in the Red Army larger than a corps. Not much larger, mind you, with only six armored divisions, one motorized, and three cavalry divisions. It existed as a proof of concept, more than anything. It also held 100 twin engine bombers and 400 fighters, and controlled the three battleships of the Red Banner Black Sea Fleet.

Speaking of the Navy, in light of the weaknesses of Russia's geographical position, it had been decided to put the ships where they had the most chance of making an impact. The battleships and destroyers were sent to Sevastopol, where they could dominate the Black Sea in the absence of any other powers, and the powerful submarine fleet dispatched to Vladivostok. While the Japanese Navy could brush aside any Russian surface ship, the submarines could potentially slip the blockade and wreak havoc on Japanese shipping. While many would be confined by short range to disrupting shipping to Korea, the three most advanced flotillas could reach past Formosa.

In Finland, Romania, and Japan, KGB agents were sent to identify influential figures and build up significant communist parties. Though promising, only time would tell whether this approach would bear any fruit. Just for the sake of having a plan ready, MIkhail Tukhachevsky was ordered to draw up a plan for the defense of the motherland under the hypothetical scenario that all capitalist nations decided to invade tomorrow. Several, minor alterations were made based on things like weather conditions or whether Finland would be involved, but the core of the Tuchachevsky Plan called for an invasion of the Baltic States to allow the right flank to be anchored upon the Daugava River - elsewhere, Soviet forces would make a fighting retreat from the border to the Dnieper River and Sevastapol, and the enemy would be outlasted in a war of attrition, with counterattacks made where feasible. A strategic offensive would eventually be launched into the Ukraine and Crimea by the Kyiv Front, to destroy the troops in the salient naturally created by the Dnieper River line.


The Tuchachevsky Plan


Several new research projects were underway, mostly dealing with aircraft - New engine, armaments, airframe designs and a larger fuel tank were all being researched for the fighters and bombers of the VVS, with the intent of fielding a fighter and tactical bomber design to compete with the all-metal monoplanes of contemporary air forces. Research into industrial production methods and efficiency were also underway, as well as ways to improve education in the People's Republic. On the 8th of May, a significant political development came as a high ranking Party member advocated tightening government control of the citizenry further - Stalin shot down his proposal, an event that saw at least a short term increase in the popularity of The Party.



On that same day, Soviet volunteers were sent to fight in the Civil War that had just erupted in Spain. The situation was looking grim, as far-right forces had all but encircled Madrid, but over the next eleven days and with aid from the volunteers, the fascists were thrown back from the city.



Over the next month, Republican forces pushed a fair distance closer to Burgos and drove the fascists from Sevilla. Though the Civil War was looked upon with cautious optimism, it was too early to tell if the revolutionaries or the reactionaries would prevail. The technological advances that had taken place over the same month were relatively more decisive than anything but the victory around Madrid. The designs that would become the Polikarpov I-16 and Tupolev SB-2 had been completed, which were as good as anything the rival air forces of the world put on the field. Some improvements were made to industry as well, and production was well under way on two 47mm Anti-tank gun regiments, and enough factories to represent a 5% increase in Soviet industrial capacity.

 

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A major commitment to Spain would be worthwhile, both to assure the progressive forces there progress to alignment with Comintern and to tip the balance of civil war in their their favor.



Comments on NAVAL STRATEGY of the Soviet Union:

In view of an currently adverse overall correlation of naval forces and isolation of the Soviet forces in each of the three naval theatres of war from the others, Russian naval strategy should consider avoidance of naval contests and instead focus on effective inferior-force strategies intended to influence land campaigns or sap enemy strategic power.

One of these strategies is the concept of a force in being capable of exerting strategic threats on multiple vectors, which diverts enemy attention and force deployments to address such threats. Another is asymmetric responses to sink or harass enemy fleets and coastal threats, for example by submarines and land-based air forces. A third is disruption of enemy convoys and other shipping in effective range of Soviet forces, preferably of a power for whom this is a vulnerability.

Submarine deployment against Japan is consistent with these strategies, but reserving or building some submarines in the Baltic against future contingencies may also be wise.

The disadvantage of a concentration of surface warships in the Black Sea is that the ability to sortie to the Mediterranean can be cut off at the straits, and the Turks are unfriendly. Even an access right could be cut off at the will of a Turkish captain. Both for naval and other reasons, control of or at least access through the Dardanelles has been a key goal of Tsarist and Soviet strategy. Can this be assured by diplomatic means? If not, consider deployment at a location allowing freedom of action. Many Brazilians have shown interest in socialism. and a friendly Spain provides a very convenient base for naval squadrons.
 

Hawke0

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Subbed - good luck.
Thanks.

A major commitment to Spain would be worthwhile, both to assure the progressive forces there progress to alignment with Comintern and to tip the balance of civil war in their their favor.



Comments on NAVAL STRATEGY of the Soviet Union:

In view of an currently adverse overall correlation of naval forces and isolation of the Soviet forces in each of the three naval theatres of war from the others, Russian naval strategy should consider avoidance of naval contests and instead focus on effective inferior-force strategies intended to influence land campaigns or sap enemy strategic power.

One of these strategies is the concept of a force in being capable of exerting strategic threats on multiple vectors, which diverts enemy attention and force deployments to address such threats. Another is asymmetric responses to sink or harass enemy fleets and coastal threats, for example by submarines and land-based air forces. A third is disruption of enemy convoys and other shipping in effective range of Soviet forces, preferably of a power for whom this is a vulnerability.

Submarine deployment against Japan is consistent with these strategies, but reserving or building some submarines in the Baltic against future contingencies may also be wise.

The disadvantage of a concentration of surface warships in the Black Sea is that the ability to sortie to the Mediterranean can be cut off at the straits, and the Turks are unfriendly. Even an access right could be cut off at the will of a Turkish captain. Both for naval and other reasons, control of or at least access through the Dardanelles has been a key goal of Tsarist and Soviet strategy. Can this be assured by diplomatic means? If not, consider deployment at a location allowing freedom of action. Many Brazilians have shown interest in socialism. and a friendly Spain provides a very convenient base for naval squadrons.
Though our Black Sea Fleet is at the mercy of the Turks, would they really risk annihilation by denying us passage? Should they join an alliance with the fascist powers of Europe, it could become problematic, but for the time they're safe. Your comments in regards to Spain are all correct, but besides ensuring the progressive forces there are supplied with any resources they might need and the volunteers we've already sent, little can be done. However, reportedly much of the navy joined with the Republicans, including the two dreadnoughts. Should the Republicans win, and join an alliance with us, the balance of power in capital ships in the Mediterranean would be tipped in favor of the Comintern. Until the Italians complete their new battleships, that is. And that's ignoring the excellent bases in the western part of the Mediterranean they control, and their position for projecting power into the wider Atlantic. It may be worth some small investment into making a more respectable Mediterranean And Black Sea Fleet, should the progressive forces succeed.

Moving the more outdated submarines to reinforce the Baltic Sea Squadron would be a wise choice, working alongside aircraft they could make the Baltic a death trap for the German pocket battleships.

Brazil is ruled by an autocratic junta, and while it may be possible to overthrow them and gain a useful ally, the resources involved and the risk of American intervention make it a questionable pursuit. If the fascists could be brought into an alliance, that would certainly be useful.

Great presentation,I subbed.
Thanks.
 
Last edited:

Hawke0

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June-December 1936
Part III: The Spanish Civil War

The war in Spain gave the appearance of going well - multiple pockets of Nationalist forces had been crushed, and Sevilla had fallen. However, the Republicans failed to crush the substantial force around Sevilla, something that would have won them the war and those troops seemed to be escaping to join their compatriots in the north of the country. The push towards Burgos had been cut short early, and multiple feints launched against the left flank of Madrid managed to reach the outtskirts of the city.





By mid-July, a stable line along a east-west axis had been formed just North of Madrid, and Franco's men seemed to hold the initiative. They'd exhaust themselves driving to Madrid, and be thrown back from the gates by a government counterattack. Late July, they drove directly upon the city; early-August, they attempted an encirclement that took Guadelajara before being repulsed; mid-August, a strategic offensive to the west managed to surround, but not capture a Republican cavalry brigade, while other units drove to the Mediterranean in an attempt to cut of Barcelona from the capital.





The questionable, but bold move by the fascists seemed to have worked, as the government rapidly lost ground between the two major offensives. By September 17th, the Nationalists were dug in along the north and northwest of Madrid, and Barcelona was but one province from being cut off.



Throughout October, the Nationalists were thrown back from Madrid again and the front stabilized for a period. Numerous technological and doctrinal advances were achieved by the Soviet Union, mainly regarding the publishing of books and manuals on the tactics of the VVS' new aircraft and the implementation of improved production techniques. The exception to the front being stable was in the continuing drive on Valencia, as the Nationalists attempted to outflank the stubborn defenders keeping open the lifeline to Barcelona.




On November 16th, the war took a turn for the worse with the fall of Valencia. However, much of the navy, including both of the dreadnoughts had sided with the government - Barcelona could continue to be supplied by sea, if not by land. Throughout the winter, the Nationalists attempted renewed attacks against Madrid that all failed, and then shifted the emphasis of their assault to swing around the south of the determined defenders at Madrid. By December 28th, the Republican forces stood strong around Madrid, but it appeared they were certain to be cut off.

 

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January-July 1937
Part IV
The Spanish Civil War Continues
In January, the war seemed to fall into a tactical stalemate, as the fascist troops were cut short of surrounding Madrid - which, from the looks of it still commanded a strong force. With the situation looking grim overall, and a full mobilization of Soviet industry ordered, the attention of the leadership of the Soviet Union was turned towards domestic matters.




February saw the development of a dedicated close air support craft and continued improvements in Soviet industry, while in March the first heavy anti-tank gun regiments were produced and attached to various frontline units. While most of the industry available for war production was absorbed by the efforts to expand that industry and the air force for the time being, support units were being produced to strengthen the existing divisions in the West, and new 57mm AT guns and 122mm cannon designs were completed. While attention to the Spanish Civil War had been diverted away, it was drawn back in May by a shocking series of events; the larger, but overstretched fascist forces hadn't just stalled earlier. The Republican troops, operating along interior lines had concentrated against each front of the Nationalist advance and crushed them in short order. Now, the Nationalists were falling back on all fronts and looking to be cut off along the Mediterranean Coast. Fortress Barcelona had even held, in spite of being cut off from the rest of the country.




By the end of May, their final holdout near Madrid was forced out, and Nationalist forces in the East pushed against the coast, where Espana and Jaime I battered them with their 305mm guns. Only a narrow supply line existed to these troops from the Nationalist-controlled north, and a major portion of the fascist army was immediately threatened with destruction.



There was also good news in Finland and Romania, both of which had now seen their communist parties rise to prominence. Only the Romanian Iron Guard was any true threat at the time, and both looked set to sweep the elections in the next year. The growing threat of communism had resulted in an interesting outcome in France, as the social conservatives and paternal autocrats came out of the election of 1936 as the two largest parties. A serious military build up had been launched and a war economy declared, on the grounds that this French government hated German militarism represented by Nazism and 'Jewish Bolshevism' alike.




In the week after the last report from the Civil War, it seemed that the Republican forces had committed their local superiority to seizing Burgos rather than crushing the fascist army. A questionable grand strategy, but one that was seeing results all the same, as a week was all it took for the lead units of the army to come within striking distance of the capital of the regressives.



Though Burgos held, a strike to the west managed to break through to the Atlantic. The hole was torn wider, and mere weeks later the line to Barcelona was reopened and what had come to be called the Valencia Pocket cut off.
 

alhoward

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Nice little show from the Republicans, who are no doubt going to embrace socialism quite soon.
 

Hawke0

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Yep, a nice bit of luck that in this game the Republicans joined the war. Those old dreadnoughts, alongside my old dreadnoughts tip the scales against Italy in the Mediterranean. And that's before any losses the British inflict. Not to mention the Iberian Peninsula is an excellent position from which to project power into the Mediterranean and Atlantic. It may be worth building a serious fleet after all, and the practical knowledge would be useful if I decide to do an Operation Unthinkable.
 

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Spain went Republican in my Australia game. It was invaded by the Germans and Italians in mid 1940. The British sent in troops, some switched to Exped units to Spain, but Australia, having helped the aimless British campaign in East Africa, basing at Asmara and placing some security at Suez, decided to pitch in and relieve Barcelona, which was done and held through year end before evacuation under a long tide of more Axis reinforcements. The Spanish supply to the city was not enough to support the Australians and Spanish that remained in that part of the country, and troops were ultimately evacuated to the Balearics. Having found that troops don't retreat onto transports controlled by other countries, I assigned the local units who could be transferred to Australian control over and pulled those out as well. The strategy was to gain experience and keep Spain soaking up Axis attention and manpower as long as possible, as well as keeping the British in Gibraltar (where their troops were crowded).

If the Pyrenees fall, the central mountain line and the eastern city of Valencia on the coastal flatlands are key. Madrid is set up to be encircled iif the nearby high country is taken, and it is easy for the Axis once they get into the open country south of the mountain range. The Spanish AI seemed to be too ready to retreat from the east coast to reinforce the center of the line. It was decided to hold Valencia, which changed hands a couple of times until the Australian forces and Spanish allies settled in there and upriver to block the coastal access to the south. There was some cut and thrust that netted some lost Axis units, but the position in the city held until the fall of Spain and carefully planned evacuation of troops under Australian command. (The Australian Cruiser-heavy navy was supplemented by destroyers and a home-built light carrier - one CAG can make a big difference in low intensity warfare and providing cover to blunt enemy air limited by airbase limits, but the Vengeance took damage easily so was also covered by land-based air when possible.

.Axis troops could come through the mountains, but they were often suffering supply penalties. The terrain and weather were part of this, but the sheer number of Axis divisions and the limited supply line from the Atlantic coast route must have made supplying everyone impossible. As it was SP, when the Spanish collapsed in late April-May, it was a run for some troops to the shipping and the transports and escort, which made several trips to pick up exped forces of surviving Spanish that I had put in Exped forces with the intention of taking them to the GIE territories. Those lands were short on supply so they were taken to Gibraltar or the war in North Africa. Those Spanish generals had a lot of experience from their two wars of intense combat, but it takes a smart human to have them coordinate fighting, spoiling attacks, and retreats to effect a retrograde operation without losing divisions.

Whether Allies or Soviets, forces to prop up Spain against invasion could be well spent in a war of flypaper attrition in favorable positions and with Spain bearing most of the burden (though it cannot take it all). Having the Axis suffer from a Spanish ulcer is good. Cutting them off on the coast and pocketing Axis massses is even better. Not something Australia could manage, even with a dozen divisions.
 

Hawke0

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First, that game sounded great.
Second, I already have eight divisions slated for action in Spain, mainly mountaineers drawn from the Caucasus Front and plan to deploy a few more armor divisions to bolster the Second People's Volunteer Army In Spain, and I have not one but two escort carriers in my existing battlegroup of three BB+two CVL. First, I need some more transports though...
And Germay is pretty much ignoring the Spanish border, besides having a single panzer division nearby garrisoning a port. That means I should have time to get a formidable force stationed there. However, the delay in my use of a war economy means the overall balance of brigades with allies, not even counting Italy and Japan is only around 900-700. If I successfully coup Japan, that would make all the difference though - the Far Eastern Theatre could become a strategic reserve based in and around Moskva, my submarine fleet could be redeployed against Italy, and the Comintern would command a powerful navy.

And then, there's one drastic difference between my and your interventions in Spain. During mine, the bulk of the German Army will be tied down in Barbarossa. It'll be interesting to see how the Axis handles the Spanish ulcer now. Perhaps my troops won't even be needed there, and I can send them to have a vacation in Sicily.
 

alhoward

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You might even consider trying to coup Italy rather than Japan. Japan hardly ever joins the war against the Soviets, and with Italy on your side you have a second Mediterranean ulcer the Germans have to worry about, and one that has a decent army to hold the Alps.
 

Hawke0

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The problem there is that Italy has stronger unity and ruling party support relative to Japan, making it harder to coup, and coups are hard to pull off anyway. Italy is too close to be an ulcer - Germany would steamroll Italy with it's hands tied behind its back. The Italian army doesn't really make much of an impact on the Ost Front, while securing the East closes a distant, second front and improving the strategic situation. You're right that Japan rarely joins the war, and I could just shift everything West anyway, but that's too gamey. And Japan might even be a source of Lend Lease aid.
 

Hawke0

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But when they do, it can make things interesting.