26th of May 1942, 'Dva', SVT-40 the Red Army's Semi-Automatic Rifle.

roverS3

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The 26th of May 1942, Tula, 7,6°C, 4 pm Moscow Time,

From 'Dva' to 'Odin'

tula-arms-plant-1942-min.jpg

The Tula Arsenal, newly retooled for the production of SVT-40s.

Today, production of the SVT-40 semi-automatic rifle has started. The final design was presented to Party officials, Bureaucrats, and even Comrade Secretary General himself, at the Tula arsenal. It's essentially a redesign of the SVT-38, but it's also more than that, it represents the end of a contest that started all the way back in 1936. The story of the Red Army's next great standard issue Rifle is one of the rivalry between two talented designers, but also that of an Army that needs to be able to face today's challenges, not those of the 19th century.


Up to 1936, the only rifles that were used by the Red Army in significant numbers were Mosin-Nagant 1891/30's. These bolt action weapons, based on a 1891 design, can only be improved upon so much. They are excellent bolt-action rifles, very reliable and easy to use. It is a proven weapon, the workhorse of the Imperial Russian Army in the First Great War, and the rifle of choice for both Red and White Russian forces in the civil war that ensued. Many are still in use with second line units, police forces, and as the Red Army's main sniper rifle.

In 1935, under the impulsion of Comrade Secretary General Iosif Stalin, started to seriously consider the idea of a new standard rifle, a Semi-Automatic, or even a fully automatic Rifle. Tests in 1936 revealed only two serious contestants. Both offerings are gas-operated, both use the standard 7.62 x 54mm R bullets. They are significantly different:

The first was Simonov's revolutionary fully automatic AVS-36 design. It was all very promising. The AVS-36 is capable of both semi-automatic and automatic fire, achieving 800 rounds/minute in it's automatic setting, and up to 25 rounds/minute in semi-automatic. It holds a 15-round detachable magazine, allowing for more than a second of fully automatic fire. Revolutionary as it is, the action is quite complicated, using a vertical sliding locking block, with locking flappers. As I understand it, the cartridges take a relatively long and steep path between the magazine and the chamber, something that turned out to be the source of many blockages and firing delays, especially if the rifle was not spotless.

Tokarev proposed a design in 1936, but the Army turned it down in favour of Simonov's more innovative design. Tokarev got his revenge in 1938 when his improved Semi-automatic SVT-38 was retained for testing, instead of an improved version of the AVS-36. The SVT-38, and the new SVT-40 have a simpler tilting bolt action. It holds a 10-round magazine, still a twofold increase over the 5-round stripper clips used on the Mosin-Nagant. While it is still more complex than the Mosin-Nagant, it is easier to maintain, and much less vulnerable to dirt and sand than the AVS. Despite the smaller magazine, it's rate of fire is surprisingly similar to the AVS in semi-automatic up to 25 rounds/minute. The SVT does contain more parts, so is slightly more time-consuming to manufacture, and slightly heavier, though still below the 4kg mark.

RiflesSU-min.jpg

This rivalry has had it's ups and downs, with Simonov getting a head start as the AVS-36 started limited mass-production in 1936, while the SVT was merely a gun on paper. However, once the gun started to reach active units, the AVS-36s flaws became apparent in larger scale training, and thus production remained relatively low. Reliability was shown to be quite lacklustre. The overly complex action seems to suck in any sand or dust in the air around it when fired in the wild. This would have not have been such a big problem if it wasn't for the fact that the gun would jam when a few grains of sand made their way into the action. In the end, 65.000 AVS-36s were produced before production was stopped.

In 1938, instead of the AVS-36, a new version of the Mosin-Nagant, the M1938 Carabine was brought forward into production for widespread distribution. Simonov tried to submit incremental improvements to the AVS in an attempt to remedy it's shortcomings, and Tokarev finally presented his fully fleshed out SVT-38 semi-automatic design. Until the Finnish winter war, the Red Army was uncertain about which way they would go. Only one semi-automatic rifle would make it to production. Prototypes of both improved AVS-36s and SVT-38s were comprehensively tested to try and avoid a repeat of the fiasco that was the roll-out of the AVS-36. In the end, the Finnish Winter War provided the deciding testing ground. Limited production of the SVT-38 was started, and existing AVS-36s, improved following Simonov's guidelines, were transported to the 1st Army Group.

During the conflict, both guns were deployed in limited numbers, and both had problems. For starters, troops used to the Mosin-Nagant complained that both rifles were difficult to maintain, but that was to be expected. In the intense cold, the metal of some crucial parts of the AVS-36 became very brittle. Firing pins, and a spring in the feeding mechanism were particularly affected, and breakages were commonplace. On the SVT-38 it was found that the magazine has a tendency to fall out. Another, less common, issue was that the light Arctic Birch stock would crack in the wrist due to recoil. An easy fix for this issue was to drill a horizontal hole through the stock between the wrist and the receiver, an to thread an industrial bolt through it to make keep the stock in one piece, as soon as a crack appears. The manufacture of an SVT-38 also proved to be more time-consuming than that of an AVS-36.

Having run out of patience for the fundamental flaws in the AVS-36 design to be resolved, Iosif Stalin, and the Red Army decided that, despite it's flaws, the SVT platform was the way forward, and the AVS-36 was permanently out of the running.
There were probably other factors at play, besides the quality of the guns. With potentially a large scale conflict on the horizon, Stalin, and some Generals in the Red Army were concerned about the amount of ammunition soldiers with AVS-36s would use in automatic mode. If one considers that the ubiquitous use of fully automatic rifle would be too much of a drain on the supply chain for too little gain, then the AVS-36s greatest asset starts working against it.


With much of the world on the brink of war, the introduction of large numbers of semi-automatic rifles into the Red Army was considered very urgent, and thus production of the SVT-38 was increased significantly with the initial goal of replacing a third of all the rifles in the Red Army's Rifle Regiments with SVT-38s. Meanwhile Tokarev was given the resources he needed to attempt to remedy the SVT-38s flaws. The result, is the SVT-40, which addresses most of the issues with the SVT-38, or at least attempts to do so.

The rifle's manufacture and maintenance was somewhat simplified by removing unnecessary complexity in a few places, something that, incidentally, also made the weapon a bit lighter. The new one-piece handguard instead of the SVT-38s 2-piece one is the most visible simplification. The cleaning rod is housed under the barrel on the SVT-40, an added bit of functionality. The magazine release has been modified, the new folding release on the SVT-40 looks much sturdier than the SVT-38s release, which has a tendency to fail and drop the magazine. In testing, no magazines fell off any of the prototypes when they weren't meant to.

Of course, Tokarev tried to outdo Simonov at his own game by also proposing a fully automatic version, the so-called AVT-40, with a heavier, sturdier, stock to handle the force of full-auto fire. The prototype achieved an impressive 750 rounds per minute, and surprisingly the action handled automatic fire well. Otherwise the AVT-40 is rife with problems. Fully automatic fire is uncontrollable at best, and in continuous full auto fire, the barrel's rifling wears down at an alarming rate, to the point where the inside of the barrel becomes almost smooth after a mere 200-250 rounds. None of this is surprising when one considers that the weapon was designed as a semi-automatic weapon from the start, and it would thus be pointless to produce the AVT-40 only to prohibit it from being fired in full auto to avoid a ridiculously short service life.

With production cheaper, and the rifle sturdier, production of the SVT-40 will now start in Tula Arsenal, replacing the SVT-38 on their production line. Once other Arsenals have completed the Red Army's orders for SVT-38s, and Mosin-Nagant M38 Carabines, they too will be retooled, and eventually all SVT-38s currently in service will be replaced by SVT-40s. SVT-38s with cracked stocks, and other significant damage, will be removed entirely, to be stored somewhere, in case we ever lack rifles. SVT-38s in good condition will be improved by the replacement of the magazine release and put back into circulation, most likely with second-line units. The official aim now, is to have half of all Rifles in the Red Army be semi-automatic, while the rest will remain, for now, Mosin-Nagant variants.

Of course, for many elite units, which often already operate more SVT-38s and AVS-36s than the average rifle Division, 90% or more of their rifles will be replaced with SVT-40s. Guards Rifle units (motorised and non-motorised), Armoured Cavalry units and Amur Tiger Cavalry units will be fitted out with almost exclusively SVT-40s. Airborne and Mountain Rifle units probably won't use many SVT-40s. These two unit types place a higher importance on the weight and the length of the weapon, preferring the lightest, shortest weapon that can get the job done, even at the cost of some firepower.
Paratroopers will continue to use their new purpose-built PPS-42 submachine guns in large numbers, as well as a lighter version of the Mosin-Nagant M38 Carabine.
The M38 Carabine has been a favourite of the Mountain Rifleman ever since it's introduction. It's relatively short length and lightness makes climbing mountains, with it on your back, just a bit faster and easier. (3,4kg, 1.000mm over 400g lighter, and 213mm shorter than an SVT-40)


The last item of the presentation was the presentation of the prototype SVT-40 sniper rifle. Currently virtually all of the sniper rifles in the Red Army are Mosin-Nagants. The SVT-38 was proposed as a sniper rifle, but it never really got off the ground due to the above-mentioned issues. It was also discovered that the SVT-38s often suffer from vertical shot dispersion. The extent of the dispersion is small enough for it to be a non-issue at regular combat distances, but for long range shots, it is a significant problem. In the end, only a few hundred of SVT-38 sniper rifles were produced.

The AVS-36 sniper rifle was even shorter lived. The action, ejecting cartridges upwards, makes it impossible to mount a scope directly above the chamber. After some experimenting with side-mounted scopes it was determined that this was impractical, and that a Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle, with it's scope directly above the chamber, was significantly more accurate in practice, when looking through the scope. Only a few prototypes were produced.

SniperRiflesSU-min.jpg

Tokarev seems confident that the SVT-40 is the next great sniper rifle. He believes that a redesigned muzzle brake, and a marginally stronger stock are enough for it to have significantly better long-range accuracy than the SVT-38. That's probably true, but will it be better, or at least close to that of Mosin-Nagant sniper rifles? For the SVT-40 to be properly tested as a long range sniper rifle, we'll have to wait for these theories to be put to the test by some real marksmen.

On another note, now that Simonov is done tinkering with his AVS-36, maybe he'll come up with something even better, something that reliably works. I guess we'll have to wait a few years for that one.

I'll see you in Vologda,

Until next time,

'Dva'
 

Finshades

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Tested by a marksman, eh? I seem to recall something about a sharpshooter school, with a certain instructor that is highly skilled in marksmanship...

The SVT-40 should give a nice increase in firepower to our units. The Mosin can serve very capably in a sharpshooter role, if the sniper variant proves too troublesome. What I think we'd need next is a decent carbine. That our troops in the mountains and those not in direct combat duties, such as military police, logistics personnel and staff, should have to defend themselves and their country with bolt-action carbines is simply unacceptable.
 

roverS3

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Tested by a marksman, eh? I seem to recall something about a sharpshooter school, with a certain instructor that is highly skilled in marksmanship...
Shhh... spoilers...

The SVT-40 should give a nice increase in firepower to our units. The Mosin can serve very capably in a sharpshooter role, if the sniper variant proves too troublesome. What I think we'd need next is a decent carbine. That our troops in the mountains and those not in direct combat duties, such as military police, logistics personnel and staff, should have to defend themselves and their country with bolt-action carbines is simply unacceptable.
Historically, there was a carabine version of the SVT-40, though only limited numbers seem to have been produced, and only a the Tula Plant. (the regular SVT-40 was produced in many other factories as well). It's quite plausible that, once the production of the regular SVT-40 is well underway in TTL, Tokarev will propose a shorter Carabine variant specifically to service these needs. It seems that OTL, the few carabines that were produced, were used by Airborne troops. Considering this Soviet Union didn't loose most of it's semi-automatic rifles in large 1941 encirclements, there should definitely be room in the production schedule to produce a hell of a lot more SKT-40s than in OTL.
Obviously, military police, logistics personnel, staff, etc. will be the last to get their hands on new semi-automatic rifles. The Mountaineers might well get them a lot sooner, though.
There's also the question of training all of them to maintain the SVT-40s, something that caused a lot of problems OTL. Elite well-trained units would make great use of their SVT-40s, they would adjust the gas pressure, clean them, and they seem to have been reliable. (German and Finnish soldiers also loved the SVT-40). That said, from what I read, those lucky grunts that were sent to the front with basic or no training and a semi-automatic rifle, tended to drop their SVT-40 as soon as they could pick up a Mosin-Nagant. A poorly maintained SVT-40 will be unreliable at best, a poorly maintained Mosin-Nagant will work just fine.
 
Last edited:

Bullfilter

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An interesting diversion into rifle types and requirements. The requirements are of course variable by role, as you discussed. A standard infantry weapon is of course generally employed best in coordinated fire. By which I mean squad/section fire rather than individuals banging away at whatever they want.

Not sure what Soviet infantry minor tactics were in this period nor the prevalence of squad machine guns in standard infantry units. But the basic idea was for the riflemen to essentially provide the cover for the machine guns, with squad fire directed by the squad leader.

A rifle therefore needed to be able to provide good hitting power, reasonable volume of fire and to be reliable. Accuracy probably a little less important, while it would be the machine gun, especially in the defence, that provides the automatic fire. Certainly, when we sited a defensive position at platoon or company level you really just placed the MGs to get interlocking arcs of fire hopefully using enfilade fire on potential attackers. The rifle pits were virtually after thoughts.

There were also different ‘effective’ ranges for individual (say 300m) and section (maybe 600m) fire. And I’m talking about what was being taught in the 1970s, not modern IMT, but maybe closer to WW2 vintage tactics, in Western militaries anyway. You don’t get much of that in most war movies. But there are some scenes from Band of Brothers that seem to give a little better idea of the difference between everyone just blasting away and actual coordinated fire. The attack on the German artillery position at Normandy comes to mind. There may be others people are aware of.

Again, not sure what the Soviets taught at the time for their sub-unit tactics. My guess would be even greater reliance on group fire. So you don’t really need a fully automatic assault rifle for standard infantry units. And the logistical considerations raised are very valid. They would probably promote poor fire discipline and ineffective use in the wrong hands.
 

roverS3

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Thank you for your input @Bullfilter , it's always interesting to get the take of someone with real military training, as all my writings are based on a variety of more and less reliable sources, including wikipedia, entries on gun forums, as well as historical articles, and wartime accounts.

Not sure what Soviet infantry minor tactics were in this period nor the prevalence of squad machine guns in standard infantry units. But the basic idea was for the riflemen to essentially provide the cover for the machine guns, with squad fire directed by the squad leader.
This definitely makes sense. On paper, at least, the 1942 Soviet Rifle Squad had:
1 LMG (manned by a Machine-Gunner and his assistant (armed with a rifle))
1 NCO (Squad Leader) armed with a rifle (usually a semi-automatic, either SVT-38 or SVT-40)
6 soldiers, each armed with either an SMG's (mostly PPSh), or a rifle (mostly Mosin-Nagant 1891/30). The ratio varied widely, from all rifles, to all SMGs, and everything in between.​
A platoon had 4 of these squads, on paper, though in reality it was more often 3 than 4. On the platoon level you would find:
1 Platoon Commander with a pistol
1 NCO with SMG
2 Snipers / Messengers​
By the end of 1942, 2 LMGs were often added at the platoon level (with 2 men each).
Later, the structure changed again, but that's for another time.
This is according to an article by Dave Murray, who is a designer of grand-strategy board games.
To make sure, I checked with nierhorster.org, and it seems to fit, 1 LMG per squad, sometimes 2, and squads of 9-10 people.
It should be noted that at the time of Barbarossa, there was a lack of LMGs, and many squads didn't have any, it took almost a year for the majority of squads to have one.

A rifle therefore needed to be able to provide good hitting power, reasonable volume of fire and to be reliable. Accuracy probably a little less important, while it would be the machine gun, especially in the defence, that provides the automatic fire. Certainly, when we sited a defensive position at platoon or company level you really just placed the MGs to get interlocking arcs of fire hopefully using enfilade fire on potential attackers. The rifle pits were virtually after thoughts.
There were also different ‘effective’ ranges for individual (say 300m) and section (maybe 600m) fire. And I’m talking about what was being taught in the 1970s, not modern IMT, but maybe closer to WW2 vintage tactics, in Western militaries anyway. You don’t get much of that in most war movies. But there are some scenes from Band of Brothers that seem to give a little better idea of the difference between everyone just blasting away and actual coordinated fire. The attack on the German artillery position at Normandy comes to mind. There may be others people are aware of.
The 'effective' range of the SVT-40 is 500m (without a scope), but I guess that would then be section fire, as I'm quite doubtful that the average Soviet rifleman would be able to hit anything at 500m without a scope. If an entire squad is firing at the same time, then it's a different story. Now that you say it I remember that scene in band of brothers. It's an interesting distinction to make. As for volume of fire, a semi-auto is clearly better than a bolt-action rifle.

Again, not sure what the Soviets taught at the time for their sub-unit tactics. My guess would be even greater reliance on group fire. So you don’t really need a fully automatic assault rifle for standard infantry units. And the logistical considerations raised are very valid. They would probably promote poor fire discipline and ineffective use in the wrong hands.
Considering the low level of training of the average rifleman, that's probably accurate, poor fire discipline, and a ridiculous amount of wasted ammunition.
As for tactics, I haven't researched enough in that direction. A heavy emphasis on group fire seems about right considering the political doctrine, and the low level of training of the grunts. There was also a heavy emphasis on snipers, with a much higher concentration of sharpshooters than in allied armies. Later in the war, platoons would even get a few sniper rifles to be distributed to their best marksmen (none of whom would have had any formal sniper training).
 
29th of May 1942, 'Odin', 10-day report #197

roverS3

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The 29th of May 1942, Vologda, 2,5°C, 10 am Moscow Time,

Report on the state of the Soviet Union for the ten-day period between the 20th and the 29th of May 1942,

by 'Odin'

Army:
No changes to Army numbers for the last 10 days
Officers: 104.527 + / 110.810 needed / 94,330 %
No Changes to Army Leadership
Air Force:
No changes to the VVS, nor to the Navy Air Fleet for the last 10 days.
Navy:
No changes to the Navy for the last 10 days.
Politics / International:
Battle Of Britain
The Air Campaign continues on both sides of the Channel.
Plymouth was bombed once more, before the bombers were intercepted by the RAF. Dover was bombed twice, without any RAF opposition. The Luftwaffe's Seeaufklärungsgruppe 127, composed of German Naval Bombers, managed to sink the 6th Destroyer Flotilla.
On the other side, Dortmund was hit once more by Strategic Command, but the Halifaxes were intercepted by the Luftwaffe. They didn't return. There was an Aerial Battle over Boulogne, and another over Mulhouse, on the swiss border.

After previous anti-submarine action, there have been no Allied convoy losses in the Atlantic. 4 German convoys were sunk by the Royal Navy.
North Africa Front:
United Kingdom (Surrender Progress / NU): 1,9 / 87,6
Italy (Surrender Progress / NU): 0,00 / 79,3
BNAF42-05-29-min.jpeg

Bolstered by the recently arrived Belgian Infantry Division, the British 1st army marches on towards Lybia. There continues to be no real Axis opposition at, with only a few Italian headquarters units putting up token resistance. The Lybian border has been reached in Khalij as Sallum along the coast, a mere 73 km from Tobruch. Axis forces continue to run Westward.
An American Airborne Division (expeditionary) was flown into El'Iskandarîya, by the RAF, hopefully further reinforcing the 1st Army.

There were no more bombings in North-Africa as the front moved out of range of the CAS based in El'Iskandarîya.
The RN 'Coastal Naval Command' struck Lefkosia Naval Base once, before relocating to Malta.
The Malta-based Strategic Bombers targeted Roma once more, with 5 unopposed Bombing missions. Trying their luck over Firenze, they were intercepted by the Regia Aeronautica before they could do their bombing runs, suffering heavy losses, probably more than 50%.
The Regia Aeronautica has gone on the offensive, lest the Luftwaffe is operating out of Italian Air Bases. Malta's harbour has been bombed twice, with no opposition from the RAF.

No naval encounters.
No convoy losses on either side.
South East Asia Front
United States of America (Surrender Progress / NU): 8,5 / 85,8
United Kingdom (Surrender Progress / NU): 1,9 / 77,6
Philippines (Surrender Progress / NU): 74,2 / 74,9
Japan (Surrender Progress / NU): 0,00 / 70,3
France (Government in Exile)
PHFS42-05-29-min.jpeg

After the Japanese captured the port at Lingayen, and copmpleted the capital's encirclement, the Battle of Manila started. Japanese forces are attacking the Philippine Capital from all sides, with 3 Infantry Divisions and one IJN Marines Division attempting to dislodge two Divisions of American Paratroopers (82nd and 101st Airborne), and the Philippine Garrison. IJA Bombers try to speed things up by flattening entire city blocks, there have been 9 bombing missions since the battle started. Meanwhile a Japanese fleet of unknown composition provides Naval Artillery support on demand. Regardless, brutal urban fighting has been going on for days. The Allied defense may well be fierce, it is ultimately doomed. Our analysts expect Manila to be in Japanese hands within the next 10 days. The longer the fighting goes on, the less of the city will be left standing.
With the IJN shelling Manila and repairing it's damaged ships, convoy raiding decreased precipitously. 18 allied convoys were lost to the IJN, 5 IJN convoys were sent to the bottom as the Royal Navy also licks it's wounds.
Not all of the Royal Navy remained in port, as aeroplanes from a small Carrier Fleet managed to catch Japanese Cruiser Isuzu on it's own. Fairey Albacore torpedo bombers from HMS Argus finished off the unlucky Japanese vessel, after it was shelled by HMS Cairo, and pummelled from above by the combined air power of HMS Courageous and HMS Argus. The Royal Navy lost no ships of it's own in the Far East.
Pacific Front
All quiet here, there continues to be no substantial US involvement in the war save for massive amounts of lend-lease to the UK.
A lucky US Fleet sunk a Japanese convoys off the coast of La Paz. No Axis fleets were caught in the Bahamas. Does this mean that Germany is running out of convoys?
Industry:
4 Air Bases have been improved significantly, work has started on 4 more improvement rounds. (see previous update)
Working Industrial Capacity / available capacity: 240 / 330
IC Usage: ( Allocated IC / Need )
Upgrades: 35,10 / 86,01
Reinforcement: 0,60 / 3,33
Supplies: 33,00 / 50,88
Production: 231,60 / 236,64 (A single Mountain Rifle Divisions remains unfunded)
Consumer Goods: 29,70 / 29,70
Stockpiles:
Energy: Maximum tonnes +
Metal: Maximum tonnes +
Rares: 48.160 tonnes +
Crude: Maximum barrels +
Supplies: 35.125 tonnes +
Fuel: 99.674 barrels -
Money: 1.541 -
Intelligence:
Nothing happened in the realm of intelligence for the last 10 days.
Research:
Advances in Radar (Level 3) technology can now be implemented in our Radar Stations, increasing the range and precision of new and existing installations.
Our Electronic Engineers have switched their focus to the development of a new, cutting edge, Electronic Computing Machine (Level 2).
New
Infantry Small Arms (Level 5) have been put into production. See previous update on Rifles.
The freed up resources were put towards the development of a new military transport aeroplane, with a larger Cargo Hold (Level 1).
A new type of Ammunition has been developed for the new BS-3 100mm Anti-Tank Guns. Limited production has started.

100mmBR-412B_1944APHEBullet-min.jpg

The BR-412B Armour Piercing High Explosive round. A well-functionning APHE round will pierce the Armour of the target, before exploding. The explosive doesn't immediately explode immediately on impact, but only once the tip of the round has buried itself in the targeted armour plating, transmitting as much of explosive force directly into the surrounding armour and into the inside of the targeted vehicle. The BR-412B projectiles weighs 15,88kg, is spin-stabilised, and carries a MD-8 impact fuse with a short delay. 25% of the round's weight is explosive. Armour penetration with this round is even better than with the Armour Piercing BR-412: 500m: 160mm at 90°, 130mm at 60°, 73mm at 30°; 3000m: 105mm at 90°, 85mm at 60°.
Development of a new Carriage and improved sights (Level 7) for our Artillery has started.
No changes to leadership distribution.
Statistics:
National Unity: 83,241 =
Neutrality: 0,00 =
Dissent: 0,00 =
Manpower:
Available: 2.261.000
Men To reinforce(need): 2.430
Men To mobilise(need): See above
Monthly gain: 48.200 Men (1 fully mobilised Infx3, AT Division every 7 days)​
No changes in Party Popularity for the last 10 days.
No changes in Party Organisation for the last 10 days.
This Information is accurate on the morning of the 29th of May 1942, I hope it serves you well in fine-tuning your possible suggestions.

'Odin'​
 
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A pity to see those two famous airborne divisions surrounded and doomed in Manila. Not exactly the most astute use of them by the AI. :eek::rolleyes:;)
 
3rd of June 1942, 'Odinatsat', 'Dva', 'Shest', 'Odin', 'Tri', Rifle testing, fall of Manila, landings in the Med

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The 3rd of June 1942, Moskva, 7,6°C, 4 pm Moscow Time,

'Dva' invited 'Shest' and myself to the official testing session for the new SVT-40 sniper rifle variant. The event took place at the brand new Sniper Training Ground in Kosino, to the East of Moskva, a mere 3 km away from the recently opened Central Women's Sniper Training School's Barracks. I'm still not quite sure whether committee members made this happen, or whether it was a coincidence. As I passed the payphones on the way into the station, one of them started ringing, I instinctively picked up the receiver. It was, of course, 'Tri':

It's over. The 101st Airborne surrendered two days ago, and yesterday, at 2pm local time (9am Moscow Time), the Manila Garrison put down it's weapons, ending the battle of Manila. The brand new Mayor of Greater Manila, Leon Guinto Senior, was left to negotiate the city's and the Philippines' surrender with Lt. General Yasuyo Yamasaki and Rear Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa. 2 hours after the final shot fell, the territory of the Philippines was unconditionally surrendered to the Japanese Empire. It took until the evening for the news to reach Cagayan, and the rest of the world.

PHFS42-06-02_5am-min.jpeg

A map of the Philippines at 5am on the 2nd of June, right before the fall of Manila.

The Philippine government, the 'Commonwealth of the Philippines' escaped during the previous night, on board a British submarine that managed to sneak into Manila Bay under the cover of darkness. After a brief stay in Singapore, it is expected that president Juan Sumulong's government will gradually make it's way to Washington D.C., where it will remain in exile, hoping that their American overlords ever 'liberate' their home country. Maybe 18.000 us Paratroopers, either dead or in Japanese captivity, will put public pressure on the American government, and the US Armed forces, to start seriously fighting Japan? I do doubt it, but you never know”

And there was the dial tone. I nearly missed the express train to Moskva. The train-ride was relatively comfortable, and only delayed by half an hour. Once I arrived in Moskva, and made my way towards the exit of the station, another payphone started ringing, I picked up, and it was 'Tri', again.

It's the Italians, they've landed a Division in Tarabulus, just north of Beirut. French Mountaineers are already on their way to throw them into the sea. I'm having a strange feeling of déjà-vu. I could swear they've tried that one before. I don't see them having much more luck than last time, but it could destabilise the British North-African front, if the Brits feel like the French can't handle this on their own...

Trabulus42-0603_8am-min.jpeg

Italians in Tarabulus, 10am local Time (11 am Moscow time). Chasseurs Alpins are on their way to throw them back into the sea.

'Shest's driver picked me up in front of the station in 'Shest's menacing black ZiL-101. We swung by 'Shest's place in Moskva (one of them anyway), and then, once I had changed, and 'Shest' had had properly dressed, we made our way to the event at hand.

Shortly before we arrived, we had to slow down to pass a group of Komsomol girls from one of the Moscow Institutes. They were marching in the same direction we were driving. 'Dva was waiting for us, taking the role of a Colonel from some obscure department of STAVKA's central military bureaucracy. Considering most of the military crowd was composed of apparatchiks and Red Army officers, this was a perfect cover. 'Shest' had donned his Maj. General of the GRU persona, in the likely case, Colonel Nikolai Kolchak, chief of the Central Women's Sniper Training School, was present. I got to be his assistant for the day, wearing an NKVD Major's uniform.


This was a rather more elaborate affair than I, or 'Shest', had bargained for. Improvised stands, overlooking the shooting range, were still being built by over 100 Komsomol girls, all between the ages of 15 and 25. The weather was nice, and lunch, for the 50, or so, military guests was served outside, on a campaign table placed on the lawn next to the training ground's command post.

After lunch, we made our way towards the stands. Girls and young women of the Komsomol continued to arrive, filling the now completed stands with hundreds of, mostly female, Communist youths. We took our places, at the front, not sure what to expect. 'Dva' joined us, taking his assigned place besides us, today he was a Lt. Colonel. We didn't have to wait very long for the show to start.

Sniper-School-cadets7-red-army-min.jpg

Cadets of the Central Women's Sniper Training School, on their way to the training ground.

A company of 120 young women in Red Army Cadet uniforms came marching onto the lawn that had become a stage, lining up in neat rows facing the crowd, as 'Odinatsat', ehm Lieutenant Goloniewsky, and two male Lieutenants barked orders, their Captain looked on. They went through an elaborate drill, presenting their Mosin-Nagant sniper rifles to the audience, before returning to a resting position, rifle behind the right shoulder, strap in the right hand.


A discreet Sergeant tapped on my shoulder, urgent telephone call for me. Of course, it was 'Tri' again, the third time today.

I'm officially declaring silly landings season in the Mediterranean. The British have landed in Athina, again. This time, the unit they sent is a motorised unit, ideal for North Africa. From my intelligence, it's made up of two Regiments of Motorised Infantry, a Regiment of Tank Destroyers, and a Regiment of Engineers. No Italian response yet. I'm going to guess that those very mobile troops will stay in place in Athina, until the Axis moves a large enough force their way to take them to an internment camp. Just like last time. Meanwhile, the foot soldiers of 1st Army march their way back and forth across the desert. Without our woman on the inside, we won't be able to see if the SEO manages to smuggle in more agents and weapons while they're there. That new guy, Churchill seems rather more enthusiastic about commando operations and the like. I hear she's been teaching women to shoot straight, a valuable contribution to the defence of the Soviet Union. I hope she's doing well.

Athina42-06-03-6pm-min.jpeg

Athina, liberated at 11am local time (12pm Moscow Time).

A GAZ-65 staff car drove onto the lawn, stopping centre stage, the captain opened the rear passenger door, and a Colonel stepped out. The car drove off. 'Shest' recognised the Colonel as the Chief of the Central Women's Sniper Training School, and 'Dva' pointed out the brand new 4-wheel drive staff car. 'Odinatsat' barked another order, and the rifle women promptly snapped into a salute. It was a whole show of military protocol, before the Colonel took the stage, and with the booming voice of a Military Commander:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Officers, Komsomolets, I, Colonel Nikolai Kolchak, Chief of the Central Women's Sniper Training School, am proud to present to you, the first company to be trained at the Central Women's Sniper Training School. Most, if not all, of these cadets will become Red Army Snipers by the end of this month. They have been training for nearly three months now. The best amongst them will stay on as instructors to train the next group of female snipers. The Red Army is looking for motivated volunteers. Applicants must be physically fit young women, at least 20 years of age, secondary school graduates who have gone through the 4-day Vsevobuch basic training programme. Applications will be accepted until the end of the month. Female secondary school graduates who haven't gone through the Vsevobuch program can apply until the 15th of June, and complete their basic training before the end of the month.

To give them an idea of what they could be signing up for, I have invited some of our best and brightest Komsomolets to attend this weapons test. The Red Army is testing a brand new sniper rifle that could potentially supplement or replace the Mosin-Nagant rifles our cadets are carrying. To do so, Lieutenant Fyodor Dyachenko and Lieutenant Irina Goloniewskiy, two excellent marksmen, will execute all five of the standard exercises Red Army Snipers' performance is evaluated on, twice. They have been practising with the new Tokarev Semi-Automatic Rifles for a week now. Each exercise will be performed twice by each of our shooters, once with their current Mosin-Nagant service rifle, and once with the SVT-40. Captain Petrov will be keeping the scores on that board.”

It was only now that I noticed the blackboard that had been placed to the side. The captain, taking just a bit of offence at being ordered to handle such a mundane task as keeping score, marched over to stand next to it. All three Lieutenants ordered their platoons of sniper cadets to rotate 120° so that they would be able to observe their instructors in the exercise, before putting them on their ease.

Without further ado, let me give you a small introduction. Our first shooter is Lieutenant Goloniewskiy.”

Captain Petrov yelled:

Lieutenant Goloniewskiy forward march... halt... present arms.”

'Odinatsat' stepped forward until she was almost next to the Colonel and presented her Mosin-Nagant, holding it in front of her chest. I was impressed at how disciplined she was.

She is a veteran of the Finnish winter, were she scored 5 confirmed long range kills during her short time at the front. Since she has joined my School I have been able to see with my own eyes that she is an exceptional marksman, one of the best I have seen in my life. And I've taught marksmanship as part of the Boris Shaposhnikov Higher Rifle School for Commanders of the Red Army, for four years. Despite arriving at my school a month after training had started, she has quickly become an inspiring and efficient instructor.”

There was a lot of applause from the Komsomolets, and then as if a switch had been flipped, the silence returned. Lieutenant Goloniewskiy was ordered to step back, and Lieutenant Fyodor Dyachenko to step forwards, which he did.

Lieutenant Dyachenko was called up to do his Vseobuch basic training a mere six months ago. His scores for marksmanship were exceptional, he was fast-tracked into a Sniper Training Programme, and integrated the 187th Rifle Regiment as a Sniper, right on the German border. I specifically asked for him to be temporarily reassigned to the Sniper School as an instructor before he is redeployed to the Far East. He will leave us at the end of this month, when he will be replaced by the best of our cadets. I'm sure our Far Eastern Theatre will be safer with Lieutenant Dyachenko on watch.”

Before the Colonel could continue, another Colonel stood up in the audience, and resolutely walked towards Colonel Nikolai Kolchak., he started talking in the same booming voice. Kolchak didn't react defensively, indicating the men knew each other.

Maybe I should introduce Colonel Kolchak himself. No relation with the heinous Admiral of the same name... I'll try to keep this short.

He participated in the civil war as a cabin boy on board the venerable Battleship Andrei Pervozovanny, participating in the shelling of White Russian troops during the Battle of Leningrad. He took some time off from the military, but he soon returned. He joined the Red Army in 1925, studied at the Leningrad Infantry School for 3 years, then followed an Advanced Training Course for Infantry commanders, graduating in 1932. I met him at that Course, and he is one of the smartest people I know, an above average marksman too. He thought marksmanship to people going through that same programme for three years, and published many works on Infantry tactics and marksmanship. Then, he was promoted to Colonel and served at Vseobuch as Deputy Head of the General Administration. And look at him now, running his own Training School for female sharpshooters. He always was a ladies' man, and what's more attractive than a lady that can kill you from 800m away? He always liked them dangerous...”

Colonel Kolchak gave his Colonel friend an angry look, and cut him off:

“That's enough! I'm very sorry ladies, and gentlemen, there will be no further unplanned interruptions. Let us begin.

The first exercise tests the shooter's skill without a scope. A circular target is placed at 300m. The shooter gets 26 rounds, 10 of them are counted towards his or her score. To graduate as a sniper, you need to get at least 60 points. The maximum amount of points here is 100, with 10 rounds in the bullseye. This exercise will be repeated with the target at 400m distance. As this is a bit of a competition between marksmen, and between rifles, we'll also take into account the time needed to fire all the rounds. Ladies first. Lieutenant Goloniewskiy, please preload your rifle with 5 round, and make your way to the firing position.”

CircularTarget-min.jpg

A typical circular target like the ones used in this exercise.

At 300 m there was little difference, the groupings of the Mosin Nagant were a bit tighter, but both shooters achieved 100 points with both rifles. It all came down to the time needed to complete the task. It should be noted that in this case, the scope wasn't mounted on the rifles, making it possible to reload the Mosin-Nagant with stripper clips. (which is impossible with the scope mounted):

Mosin-Nagant: Lt. Goloniewskiy: 2:37 – Lt. Dyachenko: 2:42 (both 100 points)

SVT-40: Lt. Goloniewskiy: 1:18 – Lt. Dyachenko: 1:12 (both 100 points)

At 400 m, the SVT-40 proved to be less accurate, with neither shooter managing a 100 score with the SVT-40, the time needed to aim was slightly longer due to the distance:

Mosin Nagant: Lt. Goloniewskiy: 2:41 – Lt. Dyachenko: 2:45 (both 100 points)

SVT-40: Lt. Goloniewskiy: 1:24 / 98 points – Lt. Dyachenko: 1:18 / 96 points



The second exercise for today is about long range shooting. The target looks like a figure with a Light Machine Gun, ready to fire. It is placed at a distance of 800m. The shooter gets 5 rounds and a standard issue 3,5x PU scope is mounted on his or her rifle. The minimum acceptable for a sniper is 2 hits on the target.”

A significant amount of time was needed by both shooters to adjust the scope to account for wind and distance, this time was included. The results were clear, at these distances the SVT-40 becomes significantly less accurate:

Mosin-Nagant: Lt. Goloniewskiy: 1:38– Lt. Dyachenko: 1:44 (both 5 hits on the target)

SVT-40: Lt. Goloniewskiy: 1:28 / (4 hits) – Lt. Dyachenko: 1:15 / (3 hits)

The third exercise requires teamwork. Both shooters will look away from the shooting range while targets are set up. These targets, in the shape of the top half of an enemy of the people, are being placed on the range right now, one at a distance of 300m and the other at a distance of 400m. They are so-called pop-up targets. Right now, they lay flush with the grass, and are thus invisible to a prone shooter. Both shooters will position themselves side by side, rifles loaded with 5 rounds, ready to fire. Both targets will pop up at the same time. They will stay visible for exactly 35 seconds. During that time the shooters are required to work together to locate both targets, and to put at least one round in each one before they both retract from view..”

The results from this exercise were:

Mosin-Nagant: 5 rounds in 300m target, 4 rounds in 400m target, 1 round not fired.

SVT-40: 5 rounds in 300m target, 3 rounds in 400m target, 2 rounds missed.

Our fourth exercise includes a moving target. Maj. General Kondratchev of 5. Kavaleriyskaya Diviziya has graciously supplied this training ground with 3 BT-7 Light Tanks. The idea is to simulate combat conditions. Imagine, an enemy armoured vehicle is sighted, with the tank driver sticking his head out of the top to see where he's going and catch some fresh air. The vehicle is moving carefully, at about 10 km/h, across the fields and meadows, looking for threats, looking for the shooter. The sniper, gets a call over the radio, and he or she rushes to a good shooting position 50m away. As soon as the shooter gets into prone position, the tank appears, 300m away, driving across the sniper's field of vision, it crosses a distance of 50 meters in about 25 seconds. The mission is simple, take out the driver. A minimum of 2 hits need to be scored to pass.”

The head was a smaller target than the previous ones, it was moving, and the elevated heart rate from the 50 metre rush didn't simplify matters.

Mosin-Nagant: Lt. Goloniewskiy: 5 hits – Lt. Dyachenko: 4 hits (1 miss)

SVT-40: Lt. Goloniewskiy: 5 hits (1 miss) – Lt. Dyachenko: 6 hits (2 misses)

For the last exercise, I'd like to ask you all to head to the stands at the second firing course about 200m to the East.”

Everyone moved to the second firing course, the move took a good ten minutes. Luckily, the Komsomolets had also built wooden stands there, on a small hill. That was needed, as there was an earthen mound, 3m high, shielding the firing course from the hill, and the path. A narrow gap in the mound had a wall in it, with a door. From the top of the hill, we could see the shooting position from above.

All right, the fifth exercise, the 'piece de résistance'. This is a 180° firing range, which means that targets can be placed in front of the shooter, as well as on his or her flank, and anything in between. It has trees, and 'buildings'. The idea of this one is to go one step further, targets are placed at ranges between 100m and 500m, they include. A periscope, a target behind loophole - small hole a sniper makes to fire through while minimizing the chance of being seen or shot -, half-silhouettes, and heads. Most of the targets pop up and down at random time intervals, a few move about. The shooter has 10 minutes to familiarize him- or herself with the course, then he or she gets 75 seconds to hit as many targets as possible. In addition to that, the shooter gets as much time as he or she likes for the final target. On this particular occasion, there are 15 targets that can be hit during the 75 seconds, and a 13th target, a loophole at 500m distance. 30 rounds can be used during the 75 seconds, up to five of the leftover rounds can be used for the final target.”

The results were interesting to say the least.

Mosin-Nagant:
Lt. Goloniewskiy: 15 + 2 rounds fired / 14+1 targets hit, 1 miss.
Lt. Dyachenko: 13 + 3 rounds fired / 12+1 targets hit, 1+2 missed


SVT-40:
Lt. Goloniewskiy: 18 + 4 rounds fired / 14+1 targets hit, 2+3 missed.
Lt. Dyachenko: 23 + 5 rounds fired / 15+1 targets hit, 5+4 missed


The final scores, when compiled

Mosin-Nagant:
Lt. Goloniewskiy: 200 + 100 + 90 + 100 + 190 = 680 / 700
Lt. Dyachenko: 200 + 100 + 90 + 80 + 170 = 640 / 700
Average: 200 + 100 + 90 + 90 + 180 = 660 / 700


SVT-40:
Lt. Goloniewskiy: 198 + 80 + 80 + 100 + 190 = 648 / 700
Lt. Dyachenko: 196 + 60 + 80 + 120 + 200 = 656 / 700
Average: 198 + 70 + 80 + 110 + 195 = 652 / 700


Total:
Lt. Goloniewskiy: 1,328 points – Lt. Dyachenko: 1,296 points

Of course this doesn't paint the whole picture as the SVT-40 allows for a higher sustained rate of fire, and we didn't take into account the time differences in the timed exercices. This is even closer than it looks.

Only now, 'Odinatsat' was looking over the crowd, we shared a short look of recognition, and then her gaze wandered on. She was right not to linger for too long, or people might notice she was looking at me. My thoughts were interrupted by Colonel Kolchak:

The results of the test will be studied more in detail in the following weeks, however, based on what I've seen I'm prepared to make some observations:

It's really too close to call. At very long range, 400-800m and beyond, the Mosin-Nagant clearly has an edge on the SVT-40. However, at intermediate range 100-400m, even at 500m the SVT enables a good marksman to deal with many targets in short order. With the semi-automatic, there is no need to move around to operate a bolt, and rounds aren't slotted in one at a time, but by the 10-round magazine. In my opinion, the SVT-40, while still not as accurate as the Mosin-Nagant, is close enough at intermediate ranges for both rifles to have a place as sniper weapons. I'm impressed by the progress made by Tokarev's design bureau. I expect to start using it at the Training School soon.

I hope that our Komsomolets have enjoyed the show, they will now have the opportunity to come down off those stands, and mingle with the current crop of cadets of the Central Women's Sniper Training School. Please, feel free to ask any questions you may have about the Sniper programme, and remember, applications are open until the end of June.”

KomsomolWomen-min.jpg

Young women of the Komsomol looking at the scoreboard during one of the exercises. This picture is from the 70s, but they are Komsomolets from one of the Moscow Institutes. (Universities)

Reactions by the Red Army officers at the front were mixed as a flood of young girls and women stormed down the stands to ask their questions, maybe even to apply. The expressions went from delight at the sight of so many excited (and pretty) young women, to stoic indifference, to quiet disgust at the idea of women in the military, let alone women snipers. I wanted to go say hi to 'Odinatsat', but 'Shest' stopped me in my seat:

Don't. People are probably watching, and you don't want your face to end up anywhere near hers in a foreign intelligence file, be it German, British, or American. You're too important to our cause. Now, if you looked like a 15-25 old woman, then I'd be inclined to let you proceed. I'm going to go make small talk with the Colonel, and no matter what happens, or what he says, you are the most forgettable NKVD Major that ever walked this earth. You're boring, quiet, and obedient.”

After each giving 'Dva' a short nod, as if we had just met today, we walked towards the Colonel. He was talking with his old friend who's name I didn't quite catch, though I'm sure 'Shest' knows. As soon as he spotted 'Shest', he cut his conversation short, and turned towards him, you definitely don't want to rub a GRU Maj. General the wrong way:

Maj. General, I'm glad you're here, so you can see the impact Lt. Goloniewskiy has on those young women. She's an excellent shot too, of course, as you've been able to witness this afternoon. I have to say, I was a bit sceptical at the start. She was a bit skittish, like she's seen evil in this world I can't even imagine, like she's always looking out, on her guard. Luckily, it took her a week or so to start feeling safe with us, and once she let her guard down, just a little, she became relatable to those young cadets out there, she became a role model. I couldn't have found a better woman for the job. It's important for my cadets to have a woman to look up to, in a discipline dominated by men, it helps them project themselves into their own future. Unless war breaks out, I'd love to keep her on as an instructor for several more rounds of training, at least. The Red Army deserves to get the best snipers, and that means we get the best men and women, and we have the best instructors train them to their full potential, all in service to Communist Party, and the People of the Soviet Union.”

You make some excellent points Colonel, and I would love to talk with you about Lt. Goloniewskiy's personal evolution, or the advantages of training women snipers. However, Lt. Goloniewskiy's past is heavily classified, and I'm not a big expert on spotting potentially talented snipers, let's just say that she had other qualifications that were more important than marksmanship in her previous line of work. She needed a break from that life, and I'm glad this worked out. You can keep her, as long as the GRU doesn't absolutely need her back, as long as there isn't a big war on, and as long as she wants to stay. But, I waver, I have places to be, and people to see. Colonel.”

Maj. General”

'Shest' gave him a hand and that was that. We slipped out of the crowd, and into the ZiS-101, soon we were on our way, back towards Moskva, and dinner.

With 'Odinatsat' busy, and in the public eye, we might have to wait a little longer to hear from her personally. At least, we all know she's doing fine, and that her shooting has improved. I'm happy to have seen her, even from afar, some distance from our world of permanent secrecy is definitely doing some good, as is the opportunity to inspire eager young girls and teach them something valuable and deadly.

Greetings,

'Odin'

The exercices described are based on a list of exercises from a US Military Intelligence on Red Army Sniper Training in 1932. Some tweaks were made by me, to better highlight the differences between the rifles, as already discussed in theory above. The Komsomol was a prime recruiting ground for the Central Women's Sniper Training School, so this scenario doesn't seem entirely unlikely to me...

I'm going on holiday to the North Sea Coast for a week, I'm leaving in a couple of hours, so I'll probably reply to any questions or comments you have when I get back.
 

roverS3

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A pity to see those two famous airborne divisions surrounded and doomed in Manila. Not exactly the most astute use of them by the AI. :eek::rolleyes:;)
Imagine being one of those men. You volunteer, you learn to jump out of aeroplanes, you go through gruelling training, you're the best the US Army has to offer. Then, You're in the first units to be deployed to the pacific, you're feeling really good about yourself, you're IT. You get flown to Manila in brand new C-47s, and are told to help prepare defensive positions, just in case. After a month or so, the Aeroplanes go home, then, you sit there doing nothing, just training, waiting for the enemy to come to you, while the US looses pacific island after pacific island. After half a year, the Japanese reach Manila, and all you get to do is stare at them from afar, they're not going to attack, and no one is telling you to attack them, no one is attempting to evacuate, nothing. This lasts for months, until you wake up one day under a pile of rubble with the sound of incoming naval shells, and 100kg bombs. You crawl out from under the rubble, shoot a couple of Japs, and then, in a matter of days, it's all over, you're surrounded, there's a naval blockade, supplies start running out, most of the city is rubble, unit cohesion is a thing of the past, and everyone is wondering why the USN isn't there. The Philippines surrender, and you go of to some horrid POW camp, your war is over. Your contribution was pointless, delaying the surrender of the Philippines by a couple of days, at most. Pretty depressing, if you think about it...
 
8th of June 1942, 'Odin', 10-day report #198

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The 8th of June 1942, Vologda, 8,3°C, 10 am Moscow Time,

Report on the state of the Soviet Union for the ten-day period between the 30th of May and the 8th of June 1942,

by 'Odin'

Army:
No changes to Army numbers for the last 10 days
Officers: 105.027 + / 110.810 needed / 94,781 %
No Changes to Army Leadership
Air Force:
124 brand new Il-10s have been delivered, as 55. ShAD, to the brand new VI. ShAK.
Aeroplane Numbers (Wings/Planes):
Interceptors: 28 / 3.472
Multi-Role Fighters: 9 / 1.116
Close Air Support: 11 / 1.364
Carrier Air Groups: 8 / 496
Single Engined: 56 / 6.448
Tactical Bomber: 4 / 400
Strategic Bombers: 1 / 100
Total Bombers: 16 / 1.864
Transport Planes: 3 / 372
Total VVS: 56 / 6.824
Total Navy: 8 / 496
Total Aeroplanes: 64 / 7.320
Active Leaders: 23 / 27 Reserve
Production has been temporarily halted to make way for upgrades to existing units.
Navy Air Fleet Leaders
New Air Maj. General Martynov, SK2 has taken command of the new VI. ShAK.
No changes to the Navy Air Fleet for the last 10 days.
Navy:
No changes to the Navy for the last 10 days.
Politics / International:
Battle Of Britain
After the Luftwaffe's success last time around, they tried to come back for more, the RAF was ready for them though, and after 4 intense aerial battles over Dover, the British Isles were not bombed.
On the other side, the Luftwaffe was on the defensive as well. Strategic Air Command managed to hit
Leipzig once, but it paid a steep price. The Halifaxes were intercepted over Leipzig, over Dortmund, and over Tournai (Belgium).
Again, no Allied convoy losses in the Atlantic. 8 German convoys were sunk by the Royal Navy.
Athens - Greece
Athina42-06-03-6pm-min (1).jpeg
An Italian Mountaineer Division has arrived in Amfissa, just outside the British-held Greek Capital. No shots have been fired yet, maybe the Italians are still waiting for reinforcements...
Tarabulus - Lebanon
Trabulus42-0603_8am-min (1).jpeg
A fierce battle has broken out over the mountains of Tarabulus, it is not yet clear who is winning. The Italians are better organised than the French troops they face, and sitting on top of the Mountains, but they are also encircled, haven't been able to dig in, and have to do with the supplied they have until they manage to take Beirut. On the other hand, the French troops are Mountaineers, they know the lay of the land, and their new commander, Maj. General Kieffer, is more experienced than his Italian counterpart (Maj. General Frusci).
North Africa Front:
United Kingdom (Surrender Progress / NU): 1,9 / 87,6
Italy (Surrender Progress / NU): 0,00 / 79,3
BNAF42-06-08-min.jpeg

The Axis made a powerful stand in Bardia, right outside of Tobruch. The British (and Belgian) ground forces were thrown back by dug in King Tigers, backed up by Italian Motorised Infantry, Cavalry, Armoured Cars, and Light Tanks. This time, most of the Axis Units were rested and well-supplied (through Tobruch).
The RAF came to the rescue of the 1st Army with no less than 12 bombing missions on Bardia. This was remarkably effective, as the Africacorps didn't manage to push back the, badly battered, British troops. A temporary stalemate, thanks to hundreds of Vickers-Armstrong Wellington Mk.III bombers.
Inexplicably, the US Paratrooper Division on loan to the British Army stayed in El'Iskandariya, almost doubling the Garrison to ca. 20.000, instead of moving up to help out at the front.
The Royal Navy's Coastal Naval Command Bombers, based in
Malta, sprung back into action, with another Port strike on Tunis, damaging Italian surface units based there.
The Regia Aeronatica was absent from North Africa.

RAF halifaxes in the area were less lucky, attempting to strike into German-occupied Yugoslavia, getting intercepted before they reached the target, and returning to Malta with only half their number.
No naval encounters.
No convoy losses on either side.
South East Asia Front
United States of America (Surrender Progress / NU): 8,5 / 85,8
United Kingdom (Surrender Progress / NU): 1,9 / 77,6
Japan (Surrender Progress / NU): 0,00 / 70,3
France (Government in Exile)
Philippines (Government in Exile)
The Philippines has been conquered by the Empire of Japan. The Philippine government is in exile, and on it's way to Washington D.C. (see previous update)
Japanese Bombers returned to strike Singapore twice, sinking no Royal Navy Units, but damaging many.
British CAGs tried to strike back at IJN units in Oosthaven, and/or intercept Japanese bombers over their base. There were 5 Aerial Battles over the city, but the more numerous land-based Japanese Aeroplanes managed to successfully shield the ships, preventing the British from doing any damage to the ships at anchor.
Convoy raiding continues on both sides, with the IJN sinking 27 Allied convoys, and the Allies sinking 9 Japanese ones.
The IJN started hunting convoy raiding submarines in earnest, successfully, with 6. Kuchikukantai (DD) sinking the British 2nd Submarine Flotilla, Light Cruiser Tatsuta destroying all of the 2ème Flotille de Sous-Marins (SS).
British anti-raiding efforts bumped into IJN surface units once more, and Mutsu (BB) sank all of the 47th Destroyer Flotilla.
Pacific Front
All quiet here, there continues to be no substantial US involvement in the war save for massive amounts of lend-lease to the UK.
An Axis convoy was caught off the coast of Surinam. , probably by the US, probably on the way to Brasil, possibly Argentina.
Industry:
3 kits of Radar detection equipment finished production. 2 new radar stations were set up for the Red Navy, one in Sevastopol (Level 1), and 1, confirming our so-called east-ward focus, in Vladivostok (Level 2).
Production of Radar equipment continues at the same rate (3 parallel runs).

Working Industrial Capacity / available capacity: 240 / 330
IC Usage: ( Allocated IC / Need )
Upgrades: 42,80 / 86,01
Reinforcement: 0,50 / 5,52
Supplies: 33,00 / 50,96
Production: 224,00 / 229,00 (A single Mountain Rifle Divisions remains unfunded)
Consumer Goods: 29,70 / 29,70
Stockpiles:
Energy: Maximum tonnes +
Metal: Maximum tonnes +
Rares: 48.376 tonnes +
Crude: Maximum barrels +
Supplies: 35.077 tonnes -
Fuel: Maximum barrels +
Money: 1.541 -
Intelligence:
Spy numbers, spies in (active / added / lost / caught by us)
France (Supporting our Party / Counterespionage): 5 / 0 / 0 / 0
{ Germany (/): 0 / 0 / 0 / 1 }
{ Japan (/): 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 }
{ UK (/) : 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 }​
Other: 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Total: 5 / 0 / 0 / 0
Reserves: 4
Spy training leadership expenditure: 0,17 (a new spy every 40 days)
More German spies were caught red-handed, though it remains unclear what they were doing exactly.
Research:
Advances in Tactical Bomber Ground Crew training (Level 2) will surely increase the Morale of our Yak-4 units, repairs will now be more effectively and rapidly executed, allowing out Yak-4s to spend more time in the air, and less time on the ground.
Fighter Ground Training (Level 5) is up next.
New Infantry Light Artillery (Level 5) designs have been delivered. Production of both 76,2 mm gun designs has started.

76mm_usv_M1938MtnGun-min.jpg

The gun on the left is based on a 1936 75mm Skoda design that was procured from the Czechs in 1937 in exchange for a couple of now obsolete Tupolev SB. This design is especially light, and meant for use by Mountaineers, and other units that rely on rapid non-motorised transportation. Weighing in at 785 kg, and 4,24 m long, it can be moved by it's crew. It can also be rapidly disassembled and loaded on 23 pack-animals. The sprung-wheeled carriage allows for rapid towing by horse or machine. Elevation is impressive at between -8° to over 70°, however traverse is limited to 10°, and the maximum firing range is limited to 10,700 m. An experienced crew of six can achieve a rate of fire of 15 rounds per minute.
The second of the two weapons is, officially, an evolution of the 1936 model F-22 Divisional Gun currently in service. (introduced in 1940 in ATL). Use of the current weapon in training exercises showed that a lighter, more manoeuvrable variant would be more useful in the field. The Red Army ordered a redesign, but the 3 design bureaus (Kirov, No.92 Plant, AKB-43) came up with a brand new design, that was loosely inspired by the F-22, a redesign in name only. The resulting 'USV' is lighter (Combat: 1.470 kg vs 1.620 kg / Travel: 2.030 kg vs 2.820 kg), and shorter (5,95 m vs 7,12 m). The UVF does pay for this with a loss of elevation (-6° to 45° vs -6° to 75°), the traverse remains the same at a healthy 60°, the maximum firing range remains close to 14 km, and the rate of fire increases from a maximum of 21 rounds per minute to 25. A gun crew of 5 is sufficient to operate the new USV, where the F-22 needs 6 people. All three of the aforementioned guns fire the same shells, with a projectile weight of up to 6,5 kg (depending on the type of round).
Development of a new Gun (Level 5) for our Armoured Cars (Level 5) has started.
No changes to leadership distribution.​
Statistics:
National Unity: 83,241 =
Neutrality: 0,00 =
Dissent: 0,00 =
Manpower:
Available: 2.261.000
Men To reinforce(need): 2.430
Men To mobilise(need): See above
Monthly gain: 48.200 Men (1 fully mobilised Infx3, AT Division every 7 days)​
Party Popularity:
- Communist Party: 58 (+1)
- Trotskyite: 11 (+3)
- Bukharinite: 2 (-1)

- Social-Revolutionary: 3 (-1)
- Trudoviks: 7 (-2)
- Kadets: 3 (-1)
- Octobrists: 1 (-1)

- Tsarists: 5 (-3)
- NTS: 5 (+1)
- POA: 5 (+3)
This month, the Capitalist factions have lost in appeal, in favour of Communist factions, and Fascist Factions. The first being quite natural, the second is probably due to the influence of German spies, to the detriment of that of Japanese spies. The Government remains un-fractured.
No changes in Party Organisation for the last 10 days.​
This Information is accurate on the morning of the 8th of June 1942, I hope it serves you well in fine-tuning your possible suggestions.

'Odin'​
 
Last edited:

Bullfilter

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Plenty of action in other theatres - still none on the German Front. Talk about a phoney war! Perhaps 22 June 1942 will be the big day? Much longer than that, and it will be Operation Greybeard rather than Barbarossa! :D
 

Finshades

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Nice to see more new hardware. The new artillery pieces reflect our focus on mobility and firepower. Now, if only the Germans would give us an excuse to put it to action...
 

Eurasia

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If the USSR does not join in soon the war might be over. Is there any sign of Germany launching an attack or doing anything?
 

roverS3

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Nice to see more new hardware. The new artillery pieces reflect our focus on mobility and firepower.
They're a nice addition to our arsenal.

Plenty of action in other theatres - still none on the German Front. Talk about a phoney war! Perhaps 22 June 1942 will be the big day? Much longer than that, and it will be Operation Greybeard rather than Barbarossa! :D
Now, if only the Germans would give us an excuse to put it to action...
If the USSR does not join in soon the war might be over. Is there any sign of Germany launching an attack or doing anything?
Patience is usually seen as a great virtue... but I get your point. Personally, I've both grown a beard, and lost hair, waiting for the Germans to attack.
 
18th of June 1942, 'Odin', 10-day report #199

roverS3

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The 18th of June 1942, Vologda, 8,3°C, 10 am Moscow Time,

Report on the state of the Soviet Union for the ten-day period between the 9th and the 18th of June 1942,

by 'Odin'

Army:
2 new Artillery Regiments, 131 AP, and 134 AP, have been deployed, to 113 SD, and 62 SD respectively.
128. GSD (Mtn x3) has been deployed to Lt. General Batiuna's XXXIV. GSK, 1st Army Group, Leningrad HQ. (Petsamo)

Army numbers (Brigades/Personnel) Reserves included (these numbers don't include regiments being upgraded):
Front line troops: 700 / 2.100.000
Support troops: 356 / 356.000
Total fighting troops: 1.056 / 2.456.000
Headquarters: 64 / 64.000
Total Army Personnel: 1.120 / 2.520.000
Officers: 105.527 + / 111.400 needed / 94,728 %
Active Leaders: 284 / 214 more available
Artillery production has been reoriented towards the replacement of Artillery pieces in existing units with better ones. No new Regiments have started training.
125. GSD, with it's training on hold since september of last year, has resumed training as weapons and other equipment is produced
Army Leadership
New Maj. General Krylov, SK3, has been placed in command of 128. GSD, XXXIV. GSK, 1st Army Group, Leningrad HQ.
Air Force:
No changes to the VVS, nor to the Navy Air Fleet for the last 10 days.
Navy:
No changes to the Navy for the last 10 days.
Politics / International:
Battle Of Britain
5 Air Battles over France, and Belgium, (Tournai, Charleroi, Evreux, Vernon x2) but no successful RAF bombings. Is the RAF redeploying aeroplanes?
The Luftwaffe did strike in Britain, with 3 bombing runs on Plymouth, though 2 were intercepted over the target. Other German Air operations were halted before they could have an impact on the ground, with 3 Air Battles over Dover, and 1 over Portsmouth.
A single Allied convoy was lost in the Atlantic, while 22 Axis convoys were sunk by the Royal Navy.
Athens - Greece
Athina42-06-03-6pm-min (1).jpeg
The Italian Mountaineer Division in Amfissa, hasn't moved or fired a shot, nor have the British.
Tarabulus - Lebanon
Trabulus42-0603_8am-min (1).jpeg
The battle has ended, but for some reason, the French just stopped attacking, they will surely try again soon. We hope.
North Africa Front:
United Kingdom (Surrender Progress / NU): 1,9 / 87,6
Italy (Surrender Progress / NU): 0,00 / 79,3
BNAF42-06-08-min.jpeg
There has been no movement on this front for 10 days, as everyone, including the RAF, licks their wounds.
No naval encounters.
No convoy losses on either side.
South East Asia Front
United States of America (Surrender Progress / NU): 8,5 / 85,8
United Kingdom (Surrender Progress / NU): 1,9 / 77,6
Japan (Surrender Progress / NU): 0,00 / 70,3
France (Government in Exile)
Philippines (Government in Exile)
No new territory was taken by Japan since the Philippines.
Another one-sided naval encounter spells more bad news for the Royal Navy. IJN Heavy Cruiser Chokai claimed all the credit, firing the sinking shots on both HMS Repulse (BC), and HMS Shropshire (CA).
RepulseSingapore1942-min.jpg

HMS Repulse
was the last surviving Great War Battlecruiser of the Royal Navy. The Renown-class ship, built in 1916, took a few shots at the German Cruiser KMS Königsberg in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight, and that was it for ww1. She was refitted extensively for this new war, and had some success against the Regia Marina, sinking RM Bari (CL), and a squadron of Fleet Transports. She was, however, no match for more modern Japanese ships, and aeroplanes. The biggest problem of HMS Repulse was armour, with a 3-6 inch main belt and 1-2.5 inch deck armour, she couldn't even shrug off hits from modern Japanese Cruisers.
Shropshire_Chokai_AtWar-min.jpg

HMS Shropshire
(top), a London-Class cruiser commissioned in 1929, had yet to score it's first kill, now it will never do so.
Chokai (bottom), the bane of the Royal Navy. One of 8 ships of the Takao-Class, it was commissioned in 1932. With a main armament of 10 20cm (over 7,8 inches) guns in 5 twin turrets, she has a powerful broadside. She is quickly making a fearsome reputation for herself, sinking both HMS Shropshire (8 8 inch guns in 4 turrets), and the more powerful HMS Repulse (6 15 inch guns in 3 turrets).
Pacific Front
All quiet here, there continues to be no substantial US involvement in the war save for massive amounts of lend-lease to the UK.
No convoys were caught close to US home waters.
Industry:
Working Industrial Capacity / available capacity: 240 / 330
IC Usage: ( Allocated IC / Need )
Upgrades: 48,30 / 144,41
Reinforcement: 0,90 / 7,05
Supplies: 33,00 / 50,81
Production: 218,10 / 218,10
Consumer Goods: 29,70 / 29,70
Stockpiles:
Energy: Maximum tonnes +
Metal: Maximum tonnes +
Rares: 48.591 tonnes +
Crude: Maximum barrels +
Supplies: 34.549 tonnes -
Fuel: Maximum barrels +
Money: 1.526 -
Intelligence:
Nothing happened in the realm of intelligence for the last 10 days.
Research:
Red Army Theorists now have a firm grasp on Combined Arms Warfare. Manuals have been sent out to improve cooperation between the various types of Regiments within Divisions. Special attention was given to the best way to use and support armoured elements within our Divisions.
They have now started looking for improvements to Operational Level Command Structure (Level 4), to increase the red Army's movement speed on the offensive.

No changes to leadership distribution.
Statistics:
National Unity: 83,241 =
Neutrality: 0,00 =
Dissent: 0,00 =
Manpower:
Available: 2.291.000
Men To reinforce(need): 6.430
Men To mobilise(need): See above
Monthly gain: 48.200 Men (1 fully mobilised Infx3, AT Division every 7 days)​
No changes in Party Organisation, nor Party Popularity, for the last 10 days.
This Information is accurate on the morning of the 18th of June 1942, I hope it serves you well in fine-tuning your possible suggestions.

'Odin'​
 

Bullfilter

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That's a lot of German convoys sunk in ten days! The RN is doing it hard - they could do with some support from the USN. 18 Jun ... 21 Jun 42, here we come!? ;)
 

Finshades

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At least the poor RN is having some success in the Atlantic. The Admiralty must be ripping their hair out looking at the way the Pacific theater is doing.
 
22nd of June 1942, 'Odin' and the whole Committee; Germany declares war

roverS3

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The 22nd of June 1942, Vologda, 8,3°C, 6pm Moscow Time,

Alarms sounded at 5:50pm as an emergency Committee meeting was called. Those who could not be present called in. 'Tri' had triggered the alarm and the emergency meeting, he was calling in from Moskva:

Gentlemen, War is about to be declared. The German ambassador is on his way to deliver a formal declaration of war, violating the Molotov-von Neurath non-aggression pact. A source in the German embassy provided me with the gist of it. I quote:

"The Third Reich considers the non-aggression pact null and void for the following reasons:

The Soviet Union has put in place a reign of terror on Finland and it's citizens.

The Soviet Union's embargo on the Third Reich and it's Allies over wars that were none of it's business has been an uncalled for hindrance to the German economy.

The Soviet Union exerting pressure on neutral Sweden for it to join the Comintern, though Diplomatic, and other means is a direct threat to the Third Reich's Norwegian territories.

The Soviet Union's irresponsible and threatening build-up of forces on the border with the Thrid Reich and it's Allies.

We are left with no other recourse than to declare war on the Soviet Union. This is a limited war.”

You've heard him, this is real, where minutes from German Panzers rolling over the border. We will rapidly go over all the wartime measures to be taken as quickly as possible.

'Tri', start with trade & legislation:”


We currently have no convoys running through the North Atlantic, therefore, as long as Italy and Japan stay out of the war, we will keep any overseas trade deals, beneficial to us, in place. Trade deals with neighbours can remain in place indefinitely, as the goods are transported over land.

Now, legislation:

Wartime laws have been ready for a while. The Central Committee will move as quickly as possible to change our Economic policy to Total Economic Mobilisation, meaning that all factories and mines will be running around the clock at maximum capacity to feed the War Machine, civilian production will be reduced to the bare essentials. Instead of the current Three Year Draft, our conscription policy will be changed to Service by Requirement. This policy will empower the Red Armed Forces to draft whomever it needs to it's ranks, and to keep them as long as necessary, or until the policy is changed, this will be particularly beneficial for the officer corps, as the Red Army will be able to keep it's best officers around indefinitely, and draft many bright minds into the officer corps."

"Very well, with that done, I'd like to move on to the Navy, 'Piat':”

Our Submarines in Leningrad will sail into the Baltic to try and sink any German merchant shipping out there. The Red Banner Baltic Fleet will start patrolling the Baltic as well, looking for German surface units, and supporting 'operation Thor'

Submarines based in Archanglesk will rebase to Murmansk and start convoy raiding along the Norwegian coast.

Submarines based in Vladivostok will explore the possibility of sinking German convoys on their way to the Empire of Japan. Mikhail Viktorov, our Chief of the Navy will be recalled to Moska, thus another commander will be appointed to lead I. Avianosets Flote. Unless the Japanese declare war within the next few hours, our Carrier Fleet will return to Sevastopol in order to contribute to the the War with Germany in some way.

As for our Black Sea Fleet. As neither Italy, nor Bulgaria have joined the war yet, we will launch 'Operation Poseidon' as soon as possible.”

Sounds good to me. 'Chteyre', the VVS?”

Our Air units, prepositioned near the front will be on high alert. 3 Fighter Aviation Corps, 4 Assault Aviation Corps, and 2 Bomber Aviation Corps cover the entire front. Priority will be giving to supporting active battles, by bombing enemy units, and intercepting any enemy bombers over our own. Three more Fighter Aviation Corps and an Assault Aviation Corps will be moved forward from the Moskva area to act as reinforcements and reserves. Our Heavy Bomber Corps will be redeployed from the Far East to Minsk, adding even more firepower. Unless there are any last-minute objections, 'Operation Thor' will be given the go-ahead, it will take a good 24 hours to get underway. As you know, it needs to happen very quickly, or it may be too late altogether. I'm counting on the Army to hold off the Germans long enough.”

Sounds good, now for the big one 'Dva', if you please,”

The 2nd and 3rd Army Groups will be put on a defensive footing. They've been preparing for a while. They will attempt to hold back whatever the Germans throw at them. Both are, however, undermanned for the task at hand. We will trade ground for time at first. Our 2nd Tank Army will be railed to Chalopienicy from Kaluga, the 11th Motorised Army will be redeployed to Vinnytsya. Once they've arrived to their respective staging grounds orders will be given to both Colonel Generals depending on the situation at the front.

When the Germans reach a city, the Rifle Corps Garrisoning it will serve as an additional bulwark. As soon as some industrial capacity becomes available, I suggest we start training defensive NKVD Garrison units. These will then gradually replace the standard Rifle Divisions as urban Garrisons, freeing up the regulars up to join the fight at the front. However, I will stress that upgrades, reinforcements for existing units, and Supplies should take absolute priority over new training and production.

All but 2 Rifle Divisions currently on the German border have Artillery Support. All of them have a dedicated Anti-Tank or Tank-Destroyer Regiment. Two Artillery Regiments will be deployed in early July, at the latest, to remedy this.

Our Mountaineers on the Norwegian border in Petsamo will start moving into Norway, taking the port of
Kirkenes as quickly as possible."

All we can do now is wait for the first shot, and keep tweaking our plans according to developments in the field.”

'Sem', how's the Industry looking, and “Vosem' what about urgent research?”

I guess we'll see what impact the new laws will have. They will make current production of 'reserve' units more costly, but on the other hand, our production should be dramatically increased, more than compensating for that. Absolute priority will go to reinforcements and supplies, even if we have to delay some production. No new production will be green-lit before all upgrades for existing units are funded.”

Research takes some more time, but as a general rule, a greater emphasis on tactics integrating lessons from the front, and the development of better militia weapons could greatly benefit us in wartime. The new recruitment laws also mean that officer numbers will be boosted without additional investment, so we can maintain the current allocation of leadership.”

'Shest', do you have anything to add?”

Yes, I do, as soon as we start losing ground, we need to star setting up partisan cells in occupied territory. This will cost relatively little in the way of weapons and resources, but it could wreak havoc in the German rear, disrupting communications and supply lines.

In this endeavour, there is no-one more qualified than 'Odinatsat', or Lt. Goloniewskiy. She will surely rush to the front to shoot German officers. And I don't have anything against that. However, once we start training and deploying partisans and other agents behind enemy lines, we can definitely use her expertise, both in the field, and with the design of a suitable training programme.”

I guess that's it then. Please, make sure that all the discussed orders go out immediately after the declaration of war becomes official.”
Right on cue, 'Tri' yelled, over the phone from the Kremlin:

Stalin has just received the letter. Go! Go! Go!”

The secret compound, as I assume the entire Soviet Union is in a state of frenzied activity. Orders are going out. Stalin will make an impassioned speech this evening. Bullets will surely start flying before that. After years of preparation, mind-games, diplomacy, secret operations, and looking on form the sidelines, we are at WAR with the Third Reich.

Movement is being reported all over the front, we don't know where the first blow will fall, but it will fall soon.

TrenchWaiting-min.jpg

Nervous Red Army Riflemen peer at the horizon from their trenches, waiting for the first shot to come and all hell to break loose.

As you can imagine there is a lot to do. I will, of course, keep you informed of any war-related developments,

Greetings,

'Odin'

@Bullfilter , your cheeky predictions were right, and the Germans declared war right on schedule, on the 22nd of June...
 

roverS3

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That's a lot of German convoys sunk in ten days! The RN is doing it hard - they could do with some support from the USN.
At least the poor RN is having some success in the Atlantic. The Admiralty must be ripping their hair out looking at the way the Pacific theater is doing.
The Royal Navy is getting battered in the Far East. The worst part is that their one of their best fleets is patrolling the Suez Canal for some reason, despite the fact that this is just about the safest piece of ocean for the British...

Anyway, bigger things to worry about now...
 

Finshades

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The trap springs! The past years of preparation, planning, production, research and careful maneuvering have all led to this. Exhilarating. I believe we will start getting contact reports momentarily. Any heavy bomber assets should attempt to disrupt enemy communication and supply lines to further slow down their advance, while the rest focus on inflicting casualties as ordered. Even if our forces currently on the border are outnumbered and outgunned, I have no doubt they will be able to use their prepared positions and heavy support to exact a high price for every inch of Soviet ground, and that's just before the cavalry arrives to deal the hammer blow.

A careful review of plans about to be put into motion might be prudent. That should also allow us to review the enemy concentration of forces and adapt plans accordingly.