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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

4th Dimension

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unmerged(59077)

Tzar of all the Soviets
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Well, nobody said it would be easy.

But cracking the German armour with equal numbers is something quite impressive!
 

quaazi

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I can't say rout, because the comissars would kill me. :p

The german armour is more than merely cracked. Most divisions I've seen are at 75% strength and 0 organization. Hopefully I've completely eliminated the threat of a breakthrough, but I still need to watch out for their qualitative superiority that could steamroll over me in certain sectors.

Anyway, I missed an update last weekend so here's one now, with HOPEFULLY another one in a couple of days, depending on whether there's a good football game on or not. :D
Pay no heed to the small number in the casualities shown in the screen - we'll see what effect the battle actually had when we round up the overall losses again.
 

quaazi

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19th of July

Meretskov was already tired of hearing about Kowel and the "successes" there, but as the 19th of July was still in its early hours, he finally had reason to start hoping for a conclusion. The enormous tug o' war over the Bug near Kowel seemed to finally reach its ending phase, as the german panzer divisions were battered near the breaking point. During the night, four german panzer divisions remained on the eastern bank of the Bug, covered by few divisions of hungarian infantry, who could only thank the lack of daylight as their saviours. 39 Soviet divisions were preparing to make a final push in the sector to conclude the battle once and for all, with the 8th Army in reserve after being pulled out of the offensive a few days earlier. A total of 51 Red Army divisions have contributed to the gigantic battle of attrition against the very best of Germany's armoured forces. In the end, it was inevitable that the nearly million men that could be called upon to defend the Soviet Union in the sector would prevail.

Victory at Kowel, if it could now be finalized and pushed through, would mean little in the grand strategic scheme positioning-wise. The defence in depth doctrine still stood, and the Bug was not a defense line to hold until winter. Southwards Lvov had been abandoned days earlier, and a new battle would take place there once the Axis units had stretched their supplies enough. Northwards, Brest-Litovsk was also left to the Wehrmacht in fears that the large battles continuously fought on its flanks in Kowel and Bielsk would make the position in Brest a liability. It was planned that Kowel could, in the future, once more become a massive battlefield, as it was a great stage where the hammer of the Red Army could meet the proverbial anvil that was the Bug, trapping the Axis between them. And in the end, success in 1941 would be measured in numbers, not maps.

At nine o'clock, the fate of Kowel was clear - the German panzers had retreated over the river and no replacements for them had yet arrived. Stavka had reason to look at the coming weeks with optimism, since even better news arrived hours later - that the Leningrad Front could now muster the 7th Army, a veteran formation that had fought two wars in Finland, to do battle at Latvia. The tide couldn't yet be turned, but it could be broken.

357nhbp.jpg

The question was, how to proceed? If Kowel was not to be held, and the same for Lvov, what should be done with Zhukov and his Mechanized Army? Zhukov himself advocated that he should stay between the Bug and Kowel to engage any attempts to conquer Kowel from the Germans as well as presenting a grave danger to a possible Axis advance on Lvov. As Meretskov was busy reorganizing his 2nd Ukrainian Front, he agreed with Zhukov and allowed his forced to remain in the front. The conventional armies were still pulled back to cover the rear and reorganize to provide a safe haven for Zhukov's eventual retreat. In the coming week, the 1st Mechanized was not to see rest just yet, but it would work as a sponge to absorb all the revenge of the Wehrmacht to give time for the regulars that had been disorganized and demoralized in the massive collision to recuperate.

Sure enough, Zhukov found himself under pressure instantly. Old romanian formations, nominally led by Field Marshal Antonescu, who was bumbling on a train to Siberia, attempted to perhaps shock the T-34 fronted Mechanized Army. It was a commendable attempt, as the armoured formations was indeed starting to run short on ammunition and supplies, but the sturdy armada would hold out and inflict more and more casualities to Axis troops.

In the Baltics, Konev's own Mechanized Army was a bit more tired, and it was attacked by a strong and rested Axis force commanded by Feldmarschall von Brauchitsch. But seeing the arrival of the 7th Army at Riga, General Kolpakchi ordered his well-rested 2nd Army into Siauliau to assist Konev after a speech in Stavka by a Meretskov in a most jovial mood. Apparently Field Marshal Timoshenko had convinced Meretskov that Memel would make for the perfect place to hit the Germans hard and divert attention away from the somewhat lackluster Belorussian Front. So it was not only the 2nd Army that marched forward to the frontlines, but also the newly arrived 7th Army in Riga.
 

unmerged(59077)

Tzar of all the Soviets
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Are the Germans actually AT Memel and can they be pocketed?
 

Enewald

Enewald Enewald Enewald
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Attack the Balkans!
The German AI shall go insane! :D
Or is that only for HoI3?
 

quaazi

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20th July

Konev's situation in Lithuania seemed to get increasingly alarming. Although outnumbering his attackers, his men were tired and low on supplies, with little coming through the battered infrastructure around Siauliau. The 2nd Army was still three days away from assisting in the defense, and the 7th to the north could not enter the fray just yet either. Since men could not move fast enough, Konev called for airplanes to help him instead - the Riga-based First Bomber and Second CAS Fleets were ordered to enter the skies of East Prussia to destroy communications and logistical hotspots in hopes of slowing down the Germans long enough for the bulk of the troops to arrive.

Southwards, Zhukov could enjoy a brief rest at Kowel, although his men were ordered to start digging ditches and placing minefields to prepare for the inevitable retreat. But in the morning of the 20th, Meretskov, finally free from administrating Operation Impaler, began to meddle. Firstly, he ordered Terekhin's 4th Army that had days earlier abandoned Lvov, to reoccupy it again, pulling elements of the 1st Air Descente Corps to cover the rear lines at Tarnopol instead. The 4th Army was a fully infantry army, however, and therefore it would take days for them to reestablish their positions at Lvov. After this, Meretskov also ordered the Strategic Reserve to be pulled back into Ukraine after helping out with Operation Impaler, to compensate for any possible shortcomings the reoccupation of Lvov might bring with it. Many officers protested the reshuffle in the Ukraine, saying that rest and reorganization was the priority after the large battles around Kowel, but Meretskov was adamant.

At dusk, German formations attempted to cross the Bug at Kowel again - but Zhukov was well prepared. Absorbing the artillery bombardment and the forward momentum of Feldmarschall Ritter von Leeb's crack troops with his most mobile units, he inflicted serious losses to the German landings before slowly starting to pull back. Zhukov managed to keep his army very tidy during the process, not allowing panic or confusion to take control of the weary troops.

2lytxe.jpg

Konev did not fare so well, however. Despite doing all in his power to delay the Wehrmacht, his troops were near the cracking point, and at nightfall, Lt. General Eremenko's 84th Mechanized Division and Lt. General Tamruchi's 213th Motorized Division gave way and routed towards Kaunas. It seemed that only a miracle would allow Konev to keep his position in Siauliau.

But all of this was overshadowed by diplomatic news that started pouring in to the Kreml at midnight. Boris III, the czar of Bulgaria, proclaimed himself Comrade Boris Coburg, and installed Georgi Dmitrov, who had somehow made his way into Bulgaria, most likely in the mess Operation Impaler created, was tasked with forming a new, communist government. It seemed that Boris had been utterly terrified by Operation Impaler, where bulgarian troops had seen their first combat against the Red Army. Fearing a Soviet invasion of Bulgaria and an uprising among his own troops who had little motivation to fight the USSR, he, in one day, converted the Bulgarian monarchy into a stalinist state, pulled Bulgaria out of the war against the Soviet Union and declared war against the Axis instead. Operation Impaler could now be deemed a success beyond anyone's wildest dreams!

e04qxw.jpg
 

quaazi

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I was left speechless when I saw that. While Bulgaria will last a month at most against the Axis because I am completely powerless to help them, their defection might have just given the victory to me! It eliminated any threat to the southern Ukraine for quite a while, it took away a lot of troops from the Axis and it caught the German AI offguard, since it'll most likely start flooding troops there. Insane!

@Enewald: Seems the AI beat me to it! And I just got my ass out of Romania.

@RGB: Germans are at Memel, but I can't encircle them unless I take Königsberg... which is not going to happen for quite a while. Hell, I'll be happy if I can actually carry out the attack on Memel at all what with Konev getting battered like this.
 

Rockingluke

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Almost up to a month so far. You seem to be holding the line pretty well. The Germans will be straight out of luck if they don't pick up the pace of advance. Time is really ticking against them, as you build more tanks, guns, troops and planes, not to mention the doctrinal advances which will improve the quality of your troops in relation to theirs.
 

unmerged(59077)

Tzar of all the Soviets
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Bulgaria has a scripted event that switches them as soon as Soviet troops reach the border. This is to reflect what happened historically and potentially to compensate for the Bulgarian troops actually fighting Soviet troops (which they didn't IRL, that was one of the conditions Bulgaria wanted when working with the Axis).

I see Konev needs another army to relieve him. When is your next production batch arriving?
 

quaazi

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A shorter update this time, but this time you get to know my exact position in the war. A more detailed lookback at the first month will come next time.

@Rockingluke: Lawd yes. My economy is up and running nicely, and I still am missing some vital 1941 doctrines. Vasiljevsky is taking his sweet time with it, but I should have the Defense in Depth doctrine ready by autumn. That's the moment, I think, when the German advance will be over for sure.

@RBG: My production is chaotic. I got a new tank division for Konev some updates ago, but it's still organizing itself. More infantry will arrive piecemeal. I won't go on a massive recruiting spree though, my current tempo seems fine. Upgrading is a bigger priority.
 

quaazi

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21st of July

Following the Bulgarian defection, Romania and Bulgaria were thrown into chaos as most Bulgarian units rebelled against their German comrades. It would obviously damage the German war effort greatly, as the already sabotaged Ploesti oil fields yet again fell victim to heavy fighting. But Bulgaria would not recieve Soviet assistance, for the troops of the 2nd Ukrainian Front were still reorganizing from Operation Impaler. At a hastily organized Stavka meeting, it was decided that Bulgaria would be left to fight on its own for now at least. If anything, the recent events well fit into the plan to rest the southern flank while the center fights a battle of attrition and the north is reinforced by the troops from the finnish war.

In the center, attrition was indeed the course. Zhukov ordered the first of his units, the 202nd Motorized Division under Lt. General Poplavski, to retreat further inland after being caught under heavy pressure by the attacking germans. Still, he could feel confident that Kowel would remain in Soviet hands for quite some time, as the pressure on the center was bound to ease up with developments in the south and north. Following this logic, he thought some aggressive action was in order. As the tactical withdrawal resulted in some 20 kilometres of lost land, the Germans struggled to keep up. Zhukov then lead his army on a crushing counterattack through the mixed quality of Hungarian, German and leftover Romanian troops, with his T-34's leading the way, resulting in an Axis retreat back over the Bug shortly afterwards.

1jvuw1.jpg

At midnight before the 22nd of July, Stavka thought it would be good to form a proper report on the first month of warfare. Among many things, the most important fact that caught the eye was that the only large Soviet city under Axis occupation was Stryj. Casuality reports were intriguing as well:

Soviet losses on all fronts from 22nd 06 to 22nd 07 - 117 569 men, 350 fighters, 166 bombers, 968 trucks, 766 tanks.
Soviet INFLICTED losses on all fronts from 22nd 06 to 22nd 07 - 155 539 men, 538 fighters, 173 bombers, 1 028 trucks, 997 tanks.
Soviet losses on all fronts from 15th 07 to 22nd 07 - 12 332 men, 59 fighters, 43 bombers, 202 trucks, 179 tanks.
Soviet INFLICTED losses on all fronts from 15th 07 to 22nd 07 - 41 097 men, 0 fighters, 21 bombers, 225 trucks, 234 tanks.


xqdnbt.jpg
 

Deus Eversor

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unmerged(59077)

Tzar of all the Soviets
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The Romanian front does look very vulnerable, but I suspect you're trying to bag that giant stack in Kovel?

No faith in Bagration-sized operation involving Galicia and Romania at once?
 

unmerged(83789)

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I wonder how Soviet Deep Operations Doctrine will evolve after the war now that, in this timeline, the idea of massed mechanized army's (rather than spreading the armour somewhat) has never been disproved?