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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Finshades

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Oh AI, your lack of caution has caused almost 18 000 brave soldiers to become prisoners... But other than that, it has been doing surprisingly well. The air force is providing a massive boost and is honestly the only reason the German casualties outnumber ours thus far. That operation in Denmark might freak the Germans out, just in time for Armoured AG and co. to start their counterattack, so despite the north being pushed back a bit more rapidly than I guess we expected it's not looking too bad at all.

Fear not, for the Union is eternal. Best of luck in your studies and familial duties :) The committee shall be ready and willing whenever the time comes, even if you start competing with El Pip for time between updates :p Also, the thread just broke 1400 posts! I have to point out this level of detail on the USSR with generous helpings of story mixed in is bordering on insanity and you have my deepest admiration for actually doing it. It's been a fantastic journey thus far and if it does continue, I'm sure it'll be just as fantastic then as it is now.
 

Eurasia

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Funny enough the deeper the Germans in the North get into the Russian territory the harder it will be to escape once the Armuored AG launches their counterattack.

And don't worry - we'll keep watching this thread.

 

roverS3

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Oh AI, your lack of caution has caused almost 18 000 brave soldiers to become prisoners... But other than that, it has been doing surprisingly well. The air force is providing a massive boost and is honestly the only reason the German casualties outnumber ours thus far. That operation in Denmark might freak the Germans out, just in time for Armoured AG and co. to start their counterattack, so despite the north being pushed back a bit more rapidly than I guess we expected it's not looking too bad at all.
It's a rather precarious situation up north, and the Armoured AG keeps getting held up by pesky supply stoppages. They're not that far from the front now, I just hope they'll have any supplies once they get there. As soon as I can spare them, I use my transport planes drop additional supplies by air, straight form Moscow, but it never seems to be enough... Maybe when I come back to the game, the supply system will have magically sorted itself out... I doubt it though. That said, I need to build more transport planes.

Funny enough the deeper the Germans in the North get into the Russian territory the harder it will be to escape once the Armuored AG launches their counterattack.
That's definitely a good silver lining. The rapid and uneven advance of the Germans provides ever better opportunities for large encirclements. If only the supply system were to keep up.

Fear not, for the Union is eternal. Best of luck in your studies and familial duties :) The committee shall be ready and willing whenever the time comes, even if you start competing with El Pip for time between updates :p Also, the thread just broke 1400 posts! I have to point out this level of detail on the USSR with generous helpings of story mixed in is bordering on insanity and you have my deepest admiration for actually doing it. It's been a fantastic journey thus far and if it does continue, I'm sure it'll be just as fantastic then as it is now.
Thank you for this. My original plan for this was already pretty massive, but it pales in comparison to what this has become. I don't think it borders on insanity, I think I may have actually gone insane. That said, I do have a history of taking on projects that are way too massive in scope for the time allocated to them. In AARland this isn't so much a problem, as it is a feature, time is flexible, and if properly motivated, entertained, and/or educated, readers will keep coming back. El Pip bravely shows the way in this regard. I too have loved the journey, though I do need to invest more in my real-life journey right now, I will certainly return to this one eventually.

And don't worry - we'll keep watching this thread.
What is this madness? Little girls driving Soviet tanks, that's just what we need. Maybe that's why they seem to take for ever to get to the front?
I guess the girl is called 'Katyusha', because just like in this AAR, there are no Katyushas in the video. (I refer you to the Art vs R Art debate near the beginning of this thread that lead to the choice of Art over R Art). I had a nice patriotic song lined up for the next GPW update, whenever I get to it, but this is just so much better. All we need is a good winter, and all of our tanks charging ahead with little singing komsomol girls at the wheel. Nothing will be able to stop them.
 

Finshades

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Funny enough the deeper the Germans in the North get into the Russian territory the harder it will be to escape once the Armuored AG launches their counterattack.

And don't worry - we'll keep watching this thread.

Blessed post. This is honestly one of my favourite versions of Katyusha; even though the Red Army Choir versions are certainly more impressive, the Japanese accent adds something to it that makes for easy listening. (Also, now I have this absurd imagery in my head of Odinatsat hopping on top of a tank when the counterattack begins and yelling "Panzer Vor!" then realizing what she just said when the entire division looks at her in confusion - thanks!)

Little do the Germans know, every meter of Soviet ground they take puts them deeper in our trap. The Russian Bear is only getting ready to deliver its first proper swipe.
 

roverS3

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Also, now I have this absurd imagery in my head of Odinatsat hopping on top of a tank when the counterattack begins and yelling "Panzer Vor!" then realizing what she just said when the entire division looks at her in confusion - thanks!
Well, she does speak multiple languages, and she should have no trouble hopping on top of a tank. I'll have to find a way to un-ironically work this into her storyline... I'm sure it could be done.
 

racebear75

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Finally cought up here, too. And compared to OTL a great performance so far. And of course, I will try to be there when your RL-pressure will be eased at some time.
 

Alex Kernel

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The academic year is starting in a few days, and to keep myself motivated, I'm starting to do preliminary research for my thesis, in parallel with my architecture studio which will start next week. I feel that will take up much of the head-space and research-time currently dedicated to this AAR, it is to be a very personal exercise focusing on the overlap between music and architecture. (I've just started looking for a more specific angle that could work) This, combined with myself taking even more responsibility within the family, means that I'll have to realistically shelve the game and the AAR for now. Even before classes have actually started, demands on my time and nervous energy are higher than I had predicted (maybe rather optimistically). Hence the delay for this update, which was close to completion a week ago. I don't know when I'll be able to continue this journey. I will continue to read AARs and comment whenever I have time (I have some catching up to do...). Thank you all for your support, it has helped me through some difficult times, and helped me exceed my own expectations in creative writing. Some of you, I consider friends, despite never having met.

Dear RoverS3, thank you for dedicating so much time and effort to this comprehensive AAR! This is one of my favourites since coming on the HOI3 forum this late summer. I didn't realise how much time an AAR "steals" until I started my own project with Romania. Though taking over a land based Major Power like the USSR is quite another level of complexity. It's hard to imagine how much will and work that requires. Take your time, no doubt Real Life is as important as the fate of the Soviet Union! :p We will gladly wait for your return to ATL. Luckily one can freeze ATL, the side effect being upsetting the ATL in-game people, who can't wait to see their destiny fulfilled :).

Change of topic: How did you manage the management complexity issue in the AAR, i.e. what level of micromanagement you chose? Did you trust the AI to take some portions of frontline? Another thing is, what graphics app did you use on the map? The markings are really neat. I did follow the AAR events, but couldn't bring myself to read every single post in the last two or three months of activity on the HOI3 forum, therefore these details might have gone unnoticed.
 
Last edited:

roverS3

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Finally cought up here, too. And compared to OTL a great performance so far.
Thanks. The guidance of 'Odin' and the secret committee, including external members, have been crucial in re-shaping the Soviet Union, including it's armed forces.

Dear RoverS3, thank you for dedicating so much time and effort to this comprehensive AAR! This is one of my favourites since coming on the HOI3 forum this late summer.
I'm flattered. The pleasure was all mine, writing this AAR was a blast, though there was some 'blood, sweat and tears' (well, not literally) along the way, it was worth it imo.

I didn't realise how much time an AAR "steals" until I started my own project with Romania. Though taking over a land based Major Power like the USSR is quite another level of complexity. It's hard to imagine how much will and work that requires.
I certainly didn't make things easy for myself. The greater the challenge, the greater the reward, I guess. As for time and effort, will and work, I haven't kept count. I thoroughly enjoy most of the process and tolerate the little annoyances.

How did you manage the management complexity issue in the AAR, i.e. what level of micromanagement you chose? Did you trust the AI to take some portions of frontline?
From the beginning, I decided I would use the AI to manage ground forces. Mostly, I've followed that. The German front is run by two Army-Group leve AI's, and the Hungarian front by one Army-level AI. I gave them objectives and let them do their thing. That said, there is some micro-managing as reserve corps are Garrisoning urban centres, and I decide when they are thrown into the AI hierarchy if the front reaches them. I'm also experimenting with a separate AI for the Motorised and Armoured forces set to a more agressive stance. They haven't reached the front yet. The Air force and the Navy are entirely run by myself, as well as special operations, like the one around Copenhagen, the invasions of Mythiléné and of Bornholm.

Another thing is, what graphics app did you use on the map? The markings are really neat. I did follow the AAR events, but couldn't bring myself to read every single post in the last two or three months on activity on the HOI3 forum, therefore these details might have gone unnoticed.
I made the graphics myself, maps, markings, etc. I worked in Gimp, a free alternative to Photoshop. Well, to be fair it lacks some functionality Photoshop has, but it has all the stuff I need, and I'm used to the interface, also they don't hit you over the head with a ridiculous subscription fee. I already had some experience with that software before starting this AAR in the context of my Architecture studies. For vectored images, I use Inkscape. I only used that once or twice in the context of this AAR though.

And of course, I will try to be there when your RL-pressure will be eased at some time.
Take your time, no doubt Real Life is as important as the fate of the Soviet Union! :p We will gladly wait for your return to ATL. Luckily one can freeze ATL, the side effect being upsetting the ATL in-game people, who can't wait to see their destiny fulfilled :).
Thanks for your encouragement. I do feel sorry for the ATL people, they have to stay frozen in time until I play on. The characters too, 'Odinatsat' is sitting in that church tower, looking out over the north-West of Lwow, waiting seemingly for ever, for the Germans to attack again... 'Odin' sits in his office, not getting any work done, thumbing through endless stacks of empty files... 'Tri' sits in his Kremlin office, ready to make a surprising telephone call about a diplomatic event he has now forgotten all about... 'Dva' sits in 2 AG HQ, nervously awaiting news from the front line, he's been waiting for a long time... 'Chteyre' is looking over Nowogrodek Air Base from the control tower. Air Marshall Novikov and his Assault Bombardment Regiment are ready to take off. The first Il-10's are positioned on the runways, engines revving at maximum power, propellers spinning, but they're not moving... 'Piat' sits on a terrace overlooking Mythiléné harbour, the two anchored Carriers are a mighty backdrop, he's stopped wondering why his drink is perpetually full no matter how much he sips from it, and has decided to lean into it and enjoy the moment...
 

nuclearslurpee

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'Piat' sits on a terrace overlooking Mythiléné harbour, the two anchored Carriers are a mighty backdrop, he's stopped wondering why his drink is perpetually full no matter how much he sips from it, and has decided to lean into it and enjoy the moment...
Well, then, if 'Piat' ever gets tired of his job, I wouldn't mind doing a little bit of, ah, relief work! :p
 
12th of July 1942, 'Odinatsat' #15, Captain Goleniewsky's Platoon.

roverS3

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12th of July 1942, Vologda, 7,6 °C, 8pm,

I was still working when there was a knock on the door to my office. It was one of the clerks, he held a letter in his hand, and had a rather apologetic look on his face:

"This letter arrived three days ago, but somehow, it wasn't filed correctly, and only just now did I find it in a pile of newspapers. A short investigation has revealed that I am the one who filed it incorrectly. I failed to uphold the high standards that are required to keep the Committee informed, and running smoothly. I must apologise profusely for this grave error that's unbecoming of a Secret Committee employee, I would understand if you terminated my employment or relegated me to a less senior role..."
I interrupted him:

"I'm sure having to stand here in front of me and apologise for your mistakes is punishment enough. I also think we need to recruit more clerks. You're all overworked because of the massive amount of correspondence coming in from the front. Mistakes are bound to happen in these circumstances. Will you please hand me the letter now?"
He handed me the letter, and with a final "I'm sorry", he ran off before I changed my mind and had him fired... The letter had the marking XI, indicating it came from our woman at the front. I opened it with anticipation, what had she been up to?

The 8th of July 1942, Lwow, 5,7°C, 8pm Moscow Time

Dear 'Odin',

Since this morning a lot has happened, so I thought it worthwhile to write to you again. I'll simply pick up where I left off:

After leaving the breakfast meeting with Lt. General Popov, the Lt. General's driver offered to find me a staff car. A note from the Lt. General in hand, I followed Starshina Vorobyev to the motor pool for Popov's Headquarters Division, located in the central courtyard of the city hall. As we entered the courtyard, I was starting to doubt I would find any suitable personal transportation here at all. It's not that the courtyard was empty, there was a pair of ZiS-101 staff cars, one of them the Lt. General's, and three GAZ-M1s. All of those had Red Army plates and specific markings indicating they were the dedicated personal transport for some superior officer, Lt. Colonel and up. They were definitely off limits for me. More at the back was a single GAZ-AA lorry, but that wasn't an option as mechanics were hard at work on the engine. If I helped them out I could maybe get my hands on it, but it wasn't really what I was looking for. As we got past the partly disassembled lorry, we could finally see the man in charge. A junior lieutenant, sitting behind a foldable field table, set up under a canvas roof (the top part of a standard military tent), in the corner of the courtyard. As he heard us coming, the young man briefly glanced up from the logbook in front of him, then, simply continued writing. We walked right up to the front of the table and stopped.

The Junior Lieutenant finished scribbling whatever he was scribbling, and then looked up from his book. He looked at Vorobyev, then turned to me. His face went white, and he jumped up to salute me. He was stumbling over his words:

“My apologies... Captain... I didn't mean to be rude. I thought...”​

Clearly he had not noticed, nor taken mental note of my rank when he had glanced up previously, and now he found himself in the awkward situation of having not only not saluted a superior officer when she had appeared in front of him, but also having made said officer wait for him to finish whatever he was doing before tending to her needs, even if it was only for four seconds.

I shortly responded to his salute:

“At ease Lieutenant. Don't let it happen again.”
“It won't Sir... eh Mam.”
“I have an order here from Lt. General Popov himself for me to be allocated a personal vehicle.”
He had another apologetic look on his face, but this one was different, more of a 'I can't do anything about this' rather than a 'This is definitely my fault'

“Mam, I'm sorry to put it so bluntly, but as far as I know orders from the Lt. General don't conjure up staff cars. We're all out of vehicles here. Only last week, most of our spare cars were transferred to other units that needed them closer to the front. As for lorries, they're all needed to move equipment and people around. This morning's orders from Lt. General Popov: 'Essential equipment and staff must relocate every week, and after every attack in their sector, to keep the enemy guessing for their location'.” - pointing at the GAZ-AA the mechanics were frantically working on - “I'm already in trouble because this lorry is out of action due of a mistake during maintenance. Someone didn't check the cooling liquid level, and there was a leak. They had to disassemble the entire cooling system to find it. Luckily someone spotted the leaked fluid underneath the lorry before the engine overheated.”
I decided to put him under pressure. I felt a bit sorry for the man, but this was the best chance I had of getting some form of transportation.

“Are you absolutely sure lieutenant... You have nothing I could use to get around the city? If you can't find anything I would be very disappointed, and so would Lt. General Popov.”
He was visibly shaking now.

“Mam, I'm really quite sure... ehm... Let me check.”

"You do that."
He turned a few pages in his ledger, desperate to find anything to make up for his gaffes, and make me a somewhat satisfied customer at least. After a full 5 minutes of this, he looked up at me and said:

“Follow me.”
We followed him around the GAZ-AA, and there it was,... something under a large tarpaulin... it definitely wasn't a car. He lifted the tarpaulin dramatically to reveal a rather dirty motorcycle.

“Captain, may I present to you, the PMZ-A-750, produced between 1934 and 1939, in Podolsk. It's been phased out in the Red Army, and any other official capacity since 1939. This one is a 1938 model. I didn't even remember we had this thing. I must warn you, the ignition has a mind of it's own, the gearbox is sluggish, and I would strongly advise you don't go over 50 km/h, especially on rough ground. At those speeds, the front wheel is prone to start vibrating uncontrollably, along with the engine. There's a reason we don't use these things anymore, I'm sorry I can't offer you anything better right now, mam.”​

“I'll take it.”

“As you wish mam. That thing has been sitting here for almost three years. I don't think anyone even looked at it in that time, it needs a service. You'll have to wait until my guys are done with the GAZ-AA though, that's top priority. ”

Motorcycle_Movie-min.jpg

The Podolsk PMZ-A-750. The chassis was 'inspired' by BMWs of the time, the engine was a 750cc V-shaped unit, inspired by a Harley Davidson engine. Despite the liberal use of these sources of 'inspiration', or maybe because of it, this motorcycle was an unmitigated disaster. Over 4.600 were produced before the scale of the reliability, and stability issues was realised. All those in service were pulled out of service immediately, and replaced, as quickly as possible, by the M-72, which was a straight-forward copy of the BMW R71, and very reliable. To the point where no PMZ-A-750s were in active service by ww2. A PMZ-A-750 can be seen, ridden by the female protagonist in 'Tractors' a Soviet romantic Comedy about a love triangle set in a Utopian collective farm in which tractor drivers are the heroes, released in 1938. The movie was released in a period of increased border tensions with Japan, and a destabilising Europe. According to Russian Wikipedia, and google translate, the movie has significant undertones of impending war; With the tractors functioning as 'peacetime tanks', and the hero tractor drivers personifying the hero tank drivers of the wars ahead. Also the main male protagonist returns from a stint in the Army in the Far East, so there's that. (I start out by researching motorcycles, and I end up learning about the strange and wonderful world of Soviet state-sanctioned romantic comedies of the late 1930s. Now I actually want to look for this movie, and watch it, if I find a version with subtitles... The picture is from the movie.)
Thankful to have something to do while I waited for Sergei to fly over from Kyiv, I asked the Junior Lieutenant for a spare set of tools and some space to work. You had to see the look on his face. A captain doing mechanical work was rather uncommon, and I guess that he least expected it from a female captain.​

I spent two hours going over the motorcycle, cleaning it, oiling the chain, checking for wear and tear, and finally, filling the tank with fuel. It must have gotten a service shortly before it was taken out of circulation as it was in remarkably good shape, and by that I mean that it didn't take much for it to work as badly as it did when it came out of the factory. After jumping up and down on the crank for a good ten minutes, the ignition decided to spark, and the thing started. It was everything the Lieutenant had promised, it was shaking along with the engine, even at low speeds, and it pulled to the right, something I suspect would get worse at higher speeds.​

By the time I got to Lwow Air Base, the ANT-9 was already on the ground, taxiing to the shed they called a terminal building, a staff car was waiting to take a particularly important passenger to his destination. As the aeroplane came to a halt, the door was opened, and an Artillery Colonel stepped out first, straight into the waiting GAZ-M1. Only once the car had driven off, could the other passengers get out. Almost unconsciously, I straightened my hair and cap before Sergei got off the Antonov. He looked around, saw me, gave me a warm smile and started walking briskly towards me. A VVS Yefreytor, who I had thought to be part of the ground crew for the Antonov, intercepted him a few metres from the plane. I couldn't exactly hear what they were saying, Sergei suddenly had a rather worried look on his face. He then ran to me, stopped, and saluted, I saluted back. His smile had come back, but not entirely.​

“Captain Goleniewsky, – emphasis on 'Captain' - it's great to see you again.”​

“Great to see you too, Starshina.”​

We shared a short hug, and then Sergei continued:​

“It's been a week since we last saw each-other, and already I'm getting posted closer to you. I expected it to take you at least a month for you to get me transferred. I'm certainly not willing to believe this is some happy coincidence. - there was some urgency in his voice - I would love to stay and chat, or take a ride on that piece of junk. - glancing at the motorcycle behind me – Sadly, duty calls. Zhigarev's unit took a lot of Flak over Volove, and they need to get as many aeroplanes back into the air for the next run. Those hungarians may not have the best Anti-Aircraft Artillery, they do have a hell of a lot of it. Our boys... and girls... on the ground need all the support they can get. Junior Sergeant of Aviation Rybakov was informing me of the details.​

I was given leave for the entire day, but the Lt. Colonel in charge of the ground crew here heard I was coming and, despite the fact he somehow didn't have the authority to rescind my leave, he decided to have the Junior Sergeat ask me to help out anyway. Whomever pulled strings for me went all the way, but I can't let my new unit down. Right now it's all hands on deck. If you want you can watch us work for a while, and then we can have lunch. So, will you give me a ride to that hangar over there?”​

“Sure, if I can get this darn thing to start.”​

“Oh yes, it has that terrible ignition timing regulator, if I get some time and the right part, we can fix that. Let's walk instead.”​

We walked the ca. 70 meters to the hangar, and then Sergei went to work. The hangar held an Il-10 which had two pierced oil lines. All the oil for the engine had leaked out of the aeroplane, and it was something of a miracle it had made it back at all, gliding several kilometres before executing a perfect landing. The engine couldn't be saved, but the airframe was fine. I looked on, and occasionally helped, as Starshina Kharkov, and a team of three mechanics, swapped the ruined engine for a brand new one and replaced all the affected oil lines in record time.​

Body panels were screwed back on, fluids topped off, and the new Klimov engine was fired up just once for testing purposes. Some frantic adjustments were made, and then it was go time. The pilot and the gunner climbed in, and the Il-10 was off to bomb some more Hungarians.​

The plane took off and turned slowly towards Hungary. We looked on with some degree of anxiety. Not a word was said as the mechanics listened for any misfire, or other audible issue with the engine they had just put in. Luckily, there seemed to be no audible issues before the Assault Plane disappeared out of sight, and out of hearing range. We walked back to the motorcycle, and after some tinkering with the ignition timing regulator, Sergei got it to start. As I knew where to go, and he didn't, so I drove, he held on with his arms around my waist, and my rifle was slung over his shoulder. After a rough, and rather slow, ride we reached the St. Elizabeth Church at around 1pm. Except for my gear, my rations, and some spare ammunition, everything and everyone belonging to the Red Army had left the building. I took Sergei up to the top of the tower, and we ate lunch as we overlooked the scars of previous battles. Near the end of lunch, I explained the mission I had chosen to take to Sergei, and the mood between us somewhat soured. He didn't ask for a ride back to the Air Base, preferring to walk. I could feel he was hurt and disappointed. Seeing in just how much danger I'm putting myself with his own eyes was a bit much for him, and in hindsight, maybe I shouldn't have brought him up there.​

After what seemed like an eternity, but was really about 20 minutes, I heard some commotion downstairs. I checked my watch, and it was 1500 hours. My men had arrived. I took a minute to clean myself up, straightened out the uniform, grabbed my rifle. I was about to head downstairs, when I heard someone coming up the stairs. Suddenly, I started to panic. Were my men really there? Who was marching up those stairs? I couldn't be sure. I pulled out my tokarev, and placed myself against the wall of the staircase, so that anyone entering would have to turn 90°, away from the closest windows, to even see me. As people mostly tend to look towards the light first, I would have the element of surprise over whomever could come bursting through that door. As the steps grew louder, my body was on high alert, I was ready for anything to come through that door, then, just as the steps reached the door, they stopped. There was a light knock on the door, and then a deep male voice, in Russian with a light Ukrainian accent:​

“Captain Goleniewsky, Sir, are you in there.”​

I was somewhat relieved and responded in my most authoritative voice:​

“Identify yourself.”​

I could hear only the tiniest hint of surprise in his voice as he replied.​

“Mam, Senior Sergeant Bondarchuk reporting for duty with a squad of 7 snipers, as per orders, Mam”​

Only now it was clear the man wasn't an immediate threat did I let my guard down a bit and slowly holstered my tokarev. My face was covered in cold sweat. I couldn't let my men see me like this:​

“I'll be right down Senior Sergeant.”

“Understood, Mam.”​

He grumbled something under his breath I couldn't quite make out and walked down the stairs.​

After cleaning myself up a second time, I made my way downstairs. First impressions are important when you're a commander. Even more so when you are a female commanding men. I walked in regular, purposeful paces. The men all stood at attention. They had gathered near the western entrance, meaning that I had to cover over 40 m to get to them. My steps echoed through the high nave of the church. With the sunlight in my face, I could barely see more than silhouettes as I got out from under the main tower.​

After this awkwardly long walk, in total silence, I finally reached the neatly lined-up men, who saluted me as I reached them. I acknowledged their salute, looking them over, adding another 10-second pause to illustrate I was calling the shots, before saying the magic words:

“At ease gentlemen”​

The sighs of relief echoed through the church.​

“Senior Sergeant Bondarchuk, step forward please.”
The man stepped forwards, his appearance was somewhat unexpected. The uniform was somewhat mismatched, with a brand new standard issue shirt, late 1930s trousers and a cap that had definitely seen better days. His age was difficult to pin down in a first look, he's slightly shorter than me, losing hair off the top, has a wild beard, and a nasty scar was visible on his upper neck and jaw.

“Sergeant, am I correct in assuming that, with the exception of myself, you are the most senior officer here?”

“Yes mam.”

“Do you have a list of the snipers under my command?”

“Yes mam. It's not an official list, but I took some notes on the way over here.”
He handed me a dirty piece of paper with his notes, in the worst handwriting I've ever seen produced by an adult.

“Sergeant Major, do you know how to type?”

“No mam. With all due respect, I was trained to operate a Mosin-Nagant, not a typewriter.”
That last response was a bit cheeky to my taste, so I tried to beat him at his own game.

“May I see your Mosin-Nagant, Senior Sergeant”
He presented his weapon to me. I took a minute to inspect it, while they all held their breath. The darn thing was spotless, and in perfect working order.

“Very well Bondarchuk, I guess you'll have to tell me about them as your skills with the pen are vastly inferior to your skills with a gun. I've worked in intelligence, and I can't read this.”
I handed back his hieroglyphics, and he didn't look the least bit affected by my criticism of his handwriting.

“Let's start with you Sergeant. Tell me when you joined the Red Army, how you became a sniper, and where you have seen combat. Try to be brief.”

“Mam. I joined the Red Army as a volunteer in 1929, I had a bit of a slow start, but eventually, I was noticed to be a natural with a gun, and in 1933, I was hand-picked for sniper training near Moscow. From 1934, I was stationed in the Far East, shot some Japanese and Manchukuo forces that crossed the border, mostly around lake Khasan. In early 1939, I was transferred to a sniper squad that operated within 255 Motorised Rifle Regiment, part of then Maj. General Popov's 57 Motor Rifle Division. I was second in command of the squad. The Division saw a lot of fighting in the war with Finland. When my Sergeant was killed in combat in the second battle of Vokthozero, I was promoted to take his place. After the war, I was decorated and given the option to go into the reserves. I refused and was transferred to the Guards Riflemen, where I received some additional training, before being promoted to Senior Sergeant and second in command of a Guards Rifle Platoon, part of 354th Guards Rifle Regiment. I filled that role until this morning.”

“Not the briefest of curriculum vitae Sergeant, but quite informative and mostly relevant to the mission. Thank you for serving the people of the Soviet Union. Tell me about the others?”

“Well, there are two winter war veterans. Yefreytor Gribkov, who fought in the Viipuri area, and Private Kopeykin, who fought in the short battle of Lammi. The remaining five are recent graduates from sniper training. Privates Yevtushenko, Kovalchuk, Davitashvilli, Shcherban from the Kyiv Military Academy, and Private Lobkovskaya from the Central Women's Sniper Training School.”

“Yefreytor Gribkov, step forward and present your rifle.”

“Mam, yes mam.”
It was a Finnish-built Mosin-Nagant with a 1939-model Soviet scope, a rather interesting and somewhat unusual weapon. It wasn't spotless, but it was in decent working order. The man was somewhat taller than me, and of quite a thin build. As I handed back his weapon I said:

“Thank you for your service in Viipuri, Yefreytor.”

“Mam.”

“Private Kopeykin, step forward.”

“I think we're all familiar with the large-scale battles that took place in and around Viipuri. Briefly describe the battle of Lammi to me, from your point of view.”

“Well, it wasn't much compared to Viipuri, we outnumbered the enemy almost 4-1. Mostly the regular Riflemen advanced too quickly for us snipers to get into position to help out. They were taking very few losses. Many Finnish soldiers were exhausted, and just ran at the sight of fresh riflemen. Starting after lunch, it took barely half a day, with some stragglers trying to ambush riflemen into the night. That's how I got my first kill, really, I was put on night patrol, and I saw something a short flicker of light coming from out in some shrubs, a reflection from one of the searchlights on something, metal, or glass. Well, I didn't exactly get the kill, I told my commander, and he radioed in for an artillery strike on that particular bit of shrubbery, just to be sure. In the morning we picked up the pieces of what used to be a Finnish infantryman. He must have been scouting or preparing a trap, or maybe he was hoping to be able to take out an officer or two. I will never know. For the rest that war was pretty boring, and cold. I already saw more action in this war than in the whole of the winter war, mam.”

“Very well. Thank-you for your honesty private.”
So, to summarize, I got a Senior Sergeant who has been in the Red Army for so long he should have been a Major by now, at least. Well, he does have a lot of combat experience, and he can maintain his rifle. He also has a big mouth, and illegible handwriting, these could be the reasons why he kept getting passed over for promotions. Then there are the two winter war veterans, but only one of them saw significant combat there. And to top it all off, there are my five newly trained recruits who definitely hadn't seen any combat yet. Lt. General Popov never said he would send me his best and brightest. I don't know what I expected. In retrospect, it makes sense not to send your best and brightest on a mission that is meant to attract enemy fire. I decided to ask one last question:

“Who here has shot and killed an enemy soldier?”
All but two hands went up.

“At a range of over 200 meters?”
Only private Kovalchuk and the three veterans still had their hand up.

“At a range of over 500m?”
Now only Sr. Sergeant Bondarchuk and Yefreytor Gribkov had their hands up. At this point, and before I could bring another word in, Bondarchuk interrupted me.

“Captain. Permission to ask you a question, mam.”

“I don't appreciate you interrupting me Sr. Sergeant. I don't know how this worked in your previous unit, but as long as I'm your captain, you will wait until spoken to during briefings. You will all get a chance to ask questions later.” - I was somewhat curious as to what he wanted to ask me, but I had to put him in his place. I paused for effect before launching into the mission details:

“Welcome to St. Elizabeth's Church gentlemen, and lady. Until this morning, this was the centre of operations for this sector of the city. During this latest German attack, between 1 and 2am last night, the enemy attempted, and failed, to destroy the main tower with Heavy Anti-Aircraft Artillery. The question now is whether they will try again, or whether they will assume the centre of operations to have been moved. Our job is to make them try again. The centre of operations, run by Colonel Molchalin, has been moved to another location. Lt. General Popov wants the enemy to focus it's attention on this, mostly empty, building. We will convince them that the amount of snipers in the building has been increased, as snipers are what saved Colonel Molchalin, and his core staff, in extremis, last night.

The enemy is not stupid, they know that pointing an 88mm FlaK gun straight at that tower has revealed their intentions, even if they didn't manage to get a shot off. This means we won't be conserving much ammunition. When, not if, the enemy attacks again, we will shoot at everything we can hit. Of course, self-preservation is our priority, so any threats to this building are our primary targets.

I'm splitting you in three groups to cover all three towers. Sr. Sergeant Bondarchuk, you and Private Davitashvilli will take up firing positions in the North-Western tower." - Private Davitashvilli, despite his lack of combat experience, is a hulk of a man. He's significantly taller than me, and twice as wide, I'm actually surprised they trained him as a sniper and not as a heavy Machine-gunner or Mortarman.

"Yefreytor Gribkov, you and Private Shcherban will take the South-Western tower.
The rest will be under my direct supervision in the main tower.
If you have a question, now would be the time to step forward.”

StElizabethChurch-min.JPEG

View of St. Elizabeth's South - South-West façade, note the main tower just to the north of the main body, and the South-Western tower on the left, hiding it's North-Western twin. Note also, the nice square surrounding the church. I have found no blueprints of the church, so anything about the layout of the church is conjecture from pictures, or pure invention.

Three soldiers stepped forwards: The Senior Sergeant, who was having a hard time hiding his irritation; Yefreytor Gribkov, who seemed calm and unfazed by the mission ahead, and private Yevtushenko, who seemed to be blushing. I let Yefreytor Gribkov speak first, further infuriating the Senior Sergeant.

“Captain. I assume there will be someone on duty in all three towers at all times. How do you envision the rotation, mam?”

“Thank you Yefreytor, you assume correctly. We will work in two shifts. I want one pair of eyes in both of the western towers at all times, and two pairs in the main tower. For the two western towers, yourself and Sr. Sergeant Bondarchuk will take care of the details. Of course, in case of attack everyone is to be ready for action within minutes. You will stay close to the church, if not in it, even when off duty. We all live here now, you better get used to it.”

“Mam, understood, Mam”

“Senior Sergeant, you had a question.”

“Several actually.”

“Now is the time Bondarchuk, ask away.”

“Captain, with all due respect. You've vetted us all on our qualifications and experience. I'd like to know what your qualifications are, Mam?”
It wasn't just what he said, but also the hint of condescension in his voice that really annoyed me

“I haven't been in the Army as long as you, if that's what you want to know. My history is none of your business, really, but, as I'm sure most of you are wondering the same thing, though the rest of you are too disciplined to ask such an impertinent question, I'll indulge you, and this is all I'm ever going to say on that subject. I transferred in from the 5th Directorate, where anything I did or did not do is way above your pay-grade. As private Lobkovskaya can probably affirm - although she wasn't in my platoon of cadets - I was, until recently, an instructor at the Central Women's Sniper Training School. Finally, I've been up in that tower since the First of July, and I can guarantee you I was there for more than sightseeing alone."
Bondarchuk was, again, unimpressed with my response, and grumbled something under his breath.

“Sr. Sergeant, if you have another question, don't mumble it into your beard, speak up.”

“Mam, does this mean I am your second in command, in charge of the two western towers?”

“It does not, you have authority only over the North-Western tower, Yefreytor Gribkov commands the South-Western tower, you both respond directly to me, and as such you are both second in command. If I were you, Senior Sergeant, I would work on that attitude of yours, it is unbecoming of a man of your rank and experience. I expect your full cooperation in this mission, there will be no second-guessing my orders. I will take suggestions, within reason, but I will not tolerate impertinence and insubordination. I will now take private Yevtushenko's question.”
The Senior Sergeant struggled to hide his dismay at being placed on equal footing with a Yefreytor (Corporal). He was about to say something, but I interrupted him, addressing the hesitating private Yevtushenko directly:

“Private. Your question?”

“Yes mam … uh, Captain, … does this mean men will be sharing accommodations with women? I mean no disrespect, but wouldn't it be preferable to have the women sleep separately from the men. I don't think my wife would approve … “

“Let me cut you off right there private. This isn't high school, it's the Red Army. The only thing that really matters here is the uniform you wear, the stripes on your shoulder, and your performance in battle. I do realise that female sub-units are usually housed separately from male units, but those regulations can be superseded by local requirements and availability of accommodation. Usually, Captains also get their own room. In this case none of that is practical, nor effective. As your commander, I will post you as I see fit, regardless of gender. You will all act like professionals while on duty. When not on duty, you will act like responsible adults and keep it in your trousers, you will not besmirch this unit's reputation or that of the Red Army Guards. If you do not treat your comrades in arms with the respect they deserve, I will find out, and you will be punished. That goes for all of you, regardless of rank and previous experience. And private, I do believe the defence of the Soviet Union supersedes your need for your wife's approval...”
At this point the Northern side-entrance of the Church opened, and a Guards rifle Sergeant armed with a PPSh-41 submachine-gun entered the room, followed by a Junior Sergeant armed with an SVT-40.

Both stood at attention and saluted immediately upon entering.

“Over here gentlemen.”
Both walked over to where I was standing and saluted again. I responded to their salute and they introduced themselves, the tall sergeant with the big moustache spoke first:

“Captain Goleniewsky. Sergeant Bylinkin, 394th Guards Heavy Rifle Squad, reporting for duty Mam.”

SergeantBylinkin-min.jpg

Sergeant Bylinkin posing with his PPSh-41. Note the Moustache
The shorter, slightly more rotund, but clean-shaven, Junior Sergeant was next:

“Junior Sergeant Gorbunov, 142nd Guards Machine-Gun Squad, reporting for duty Captain.”

“You're half an hour late, gentlemen, care to explain?”
The Sergeant, jumped in:

“Captain, mam. Both of our teams were previously located about 5 km to the east of this location. As I understand it, there was some discussion as to which squads would be sent on this particular mission. By the time we were given our orders, there was barely enough time to relocate on foot, let alone to gather our equipment. We were promised a pair of lorries as the relocation was categorised as 'urgent', but no lorries became available. We marched our men up here as quickly as possible. It is unprofessional and unbecoming of Guards riflemen to be late. Our apologies, mam.”

“Understandable captain, apology accepted. So, what do you bring to this mission Sergeant, specifically the number of men, armament, and combat experience?”

“My squad consists of two light Machine-Gunners with DP-27s, their two assistants armed with Mosin-Nagant Carabines, and 4 Riflemen with SVT-40's. The entire squad fought in anti-partisan operations in Finland. A solid unit, if I say so myself Captain.”

DP-27Guards-min.jpg

Guards riflemen posing with their DP-27 Light Machine Guns. The large round ammunition drums give these weapons their distinctive look. These weapons were cheap to make and remarkably effective, in theory, each rifle squad had one, and some squads had two. It offers a fire rate of 500-600 rpm, combined with an excellent firing range and decent accuracy. The only real downside is the fact that it's not belt-fed, meaning that it's continuous firing rate is significantly lower than that of foreign weapons of similar size and functionality, like the MG-34, for example.

“Excellent, and your unit Junior Sergeant?”

“A Machine-Gunner with a brand new 7.62mm SG-43 machine-gun, three ammunition bearers / assistants armed with Mosin-Nagant Carabines, and myself with my SVT-40. When we switched from the Maxim to the much lighter SG-43, our horse and horse-driver were reassigned. Myself and the Machine-Gunner fought in the War in Finland, in the Viipuri area, two of the ammunition bearers were with us in the later anti-partisan operations, and the third assistant is a rookie who just graduated 3rd of his class in the Military Academy in Kyiv. The men are all waiting outside, Captain.”
I dismissed the snipers, who were still waiting, before turning to the Sergeant and Junior Sergeant:

“Gentlemen, walk with me.”
As we walked to the Northern side-entrance, I explained what I expected from the forces on the ground around the Church. Their job being, mainly, to look more numerous than they are, and to set up the Machine-Guns defensively, using the trenches dug by the Guards Rifle company that protected the base of the Church until this morning. I put Sergeant Bylinkin in overall charge of this part of the operation, making him more of a second in command than Senior Sergeant Bondarchuk. I'm sure the latter was thrilled by that fact. The two squads seem more solid than the odd bunch of Snipers I'd been given. At least I won't have to worry too much about attackers coming from the ground floor. I gave a rousing speech to the men outside, and discussed the positioning of the men on the perimeter in more detail.

I was about to go inside to check on the preparations the snipers were making, when the two radio operators arrived, on foot, merrily chatting away, as they strolled towards the church at a leisurely pace. I let Sergeant Bylikin give them an earful that made them sprint towards me, stand at attention, salute, and look at me with the same look toddlers give their mother when they get caught with their hand in the cookie-jar. They were both armed with a Mosin-Nagant Carabine, and carried a standard issue A-7 portable VHF radio transciever.

vhf_radio_unit_A7A-min.jpg

The A7-A portable very high frequency radio transceiver, produced in large numbers starting in late 1942, and widely distributed throughout the Red Army from that point on. It was used mainly for communication within Rifle Regiments and Artillery Regiments. It could also be plugged into a telephone line, function as a two-way radio, as a telephone, and convert a telephone signal into a radio signal and vice-versa if needed. Instead of using amplitude modulation, like it's widely used predecessor, the A-4, it uses frequency modulation, which eliminates a lot of noise on the signal.


“Privates, is there any particular reason why you are late.”

“Captain, it's this city, it's just so pretty to walk through. We've never been here before, you know. Look at this church right here, I've never seen anything like that before, mam.”

You could hear the excitement in their voice.

“You're going to see a lot more of it before this is over, you live here now. Your first order of business is to set up communications, When the attack comes, I'm going to be sitting in that big tower right there. I want one of you up there with me, and I want the other one down here, right next to Sergeant Bylikin. You will set up direct communications between the two of you, between my tower and Major Panov's HQ, and between my tower and city hall. After dinner, everyone of the day shift will bring you their boots, and you will polish them. If anyone's boots aren't shiny like a mirror come tomorrow morning, I'm holding you two personally responsible. Maybe that will teach you to walk faster. This is a war, not a package holiday funded by the people of the Soviet Union. Dismissed.”

“Mam yes mam.”
They gave me a sad, almost melancholic look as they rushed off to position and tune their radio sets. Both of them looked more like boys than men. I have no idea where Lt. General Popov's staff found them, but they are the youngest military radio operators I've ever seen. It's quite likely that they both lied about their age to get into the Red Army. As long as they know what they're doing with those radio sets, I won't make trouble for them. I'm not a big fan of the whole decorum part of the Red Army, sure I like to, occasionally, put some effort into my appearance, but having people constantly shining boots seems like a waste of time when they could be learning skills that are actually useful in combat. But, that said, it's a useful tool to assert one's authority, and to punish those that may be a bit too nonchalant about their job some discipline.​

Commanding this varied group of people, well officially it's an independent platoon, is going to be a handful. Let's hope things stay quiet for a few days, so I can run them all through their paces, and get them to bond a little, but not too much either, of course.​

As I was pondering all this, I noticed a lone figure walking towards the church along Horodotska street, I couldn't tell who it was immediately, but as he got closer, I noticed it was my best friend, Starshina of Aviation Sergei Kharkov. As soon as he saw me standing there, he started jogging towards me. As he got close, Sergeant Bylikin yelled, mindful of the possibility of enemy spies checking out the church to figure out if there was still something important in there:

“Halt! who goes there!”

“Starshina of Aviation Kharkov, aeroplane engine mechanic with I. ShAK. I'm here for Captain Irina Goleniewsky.”

“You know him” (to me)

“Yes. Stand down sergeant. Let him through.”
He walked up to me, and after the military formalities, I led him to a bench in the square, just to the South of the church, telling the Sergeant.

“I'll be right there if anyone needs me.”
We sat down, and it was a mess. Sergei started to apologise for walking off and getting too angry at my choices, I started to apologise for the pain I was causing him by taking those huge risks. I'm really bad with emotional moments like these, so we just shared a hug. I started crying, he started crying. After a short while, we collected ourselves and talked about our day: I talked about the motley bunch of snipers I was assigned, and the radio operators that were barely out of their diapers. He talked about fixing very broken aeroplanes, and the stories aircrew had told him upon returning from their missions.

While we were on the subject of fixing broken things, he pulled out an ignition timing regulator from his toolbox, which he had brought with him, something I only noticed at that point. My recently allocated motorcycle was standing right up against the wall of the church. Working together, mostly in silence, ignoring the onlooking riflemen, we spent a good twenty minutes taking off bits of the motorcycle to get to the ignition timing regulator, another 15 minutes replacing it and making precise adjustments. After another 20 minutes putting everything back in place and checking all the fluid levels, Sergei started the PMZ-A-750 on the first try. Really an incredible achievement, considering how much of a piece of junk it was. Of course the engine's vibrations were shaking the ground beneath our feet, especially at idle. One problem at a time... We talked a bit more. About our plans for my car, which was safely hidden away in Kyiv, and about the way the Great Patriotic War is progressing as a whole. In the end, he had to get back to the Air Base. Having given explicit orders to all those under my command that no one was to leave the area of the church until further notice, I couldn't very well drive him back. As I wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, I gave Sergei the keys to the PMZ, he laughed suggesting it was a poisoned gift, before riding off at 7:30pm.

I made my rounds, and after giving the rookies in the main tower a few extra pointers, everything seems in order, all the firing positions are properly set-up, everyone knows when they are on duty and when they're not. We'll be having dinner soon, in two shifts of course, and tomorrow I will run drills to test the readiness of my independent (half-)platoon. I'm also going to demand from corps HQ that we get a combat medic. As the unit isn't part of a company, we don't have the standard 5 medics at company level, so any wounded would have to be transported to city hall for medical treatment, or we'd have to count on medics from surrounding units, who are bound to be occupied with their own wounded when it hits the fan. Hardly ideal.

I hope everything is well with you and the other members of the Committee, despite your huge workload. I hope you do get some rest once in a while.

Wish me luck, because I'm going to need it,

Capt. Irina Alexandrovich Goleniewsky (aka. 11)
 
Last edited:

Bullfilter

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Hoorah - a return! I'll update this post with some comments when I've had a chance to read through in depth. Just wanted to quickly welcome back Odin et al! :)
 

Wraith11B

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Glad to see Odinasat back in the saddle (such as it is)! Might I say that the italics everywhere though is a bit of a distraction? Hard to tell what's "under the hood" or actual writing.
 

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Hoorah - a return! I'll update this post with some comments when I've had a chance to read through in depth. Just wanted to quickly welcome back Odin et al! :)
Glad to see Odinasat back in the saddle (such as it is)!
Glad to be back. Sadly, halting my AAR activities wasn't a real solution to my issues with my studies. It gave me more time, but I now see that wasn't really what was lacking.
The good news is that this AAR is officially back. I've played ahead 10 days, so I have enough material and data for several updates to be posted over the next few weeks.

Might I say that the italics everywhere though is a bit of a distraction? Hard to tell what's "under the hood" or actual writing.
I modified the layout, removing most of the Italics. If you have any more suggestions that would make the AAR more readable, please don't hold back. I'm always looking to improve.

And before I forget:

Dear readers, please participate in the biggest Forum event of the year.
It's like the Oscars, but for AARs (some would say the OscAARs:cool:), and you get to be part of it!

Simply click on the banner below, and it will take you straight to the correct thread.

 

El Pip

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What a coincidence, I finally catch up just in time for an update!

I hope you do find a solution to your study issues. I suspect there is nothing I can do to help with either architecture or music (I severely doubt an engineer's experience of the architecture profession in the wild would help someone studying the subject ;) ) so all I can offer is good wishes I'm afraid.
 

Bullfilter

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I failed to uphold the high standards that are required to keep the Committee informed, and running smoothly. I must apologise profusely for this grave error that's unbecoming of a Secret Committee employee, I would understand if you terminated my employment or relegated me to a less senior role...
Immediate transfer to a punishment battalion should be the only option on the the table :p Is this Stalin's Soviet Union or not!? :D
Clearly he had not noticed, nor taken mental note of my rank when he had glanced up previously, and now he found himself in the awkward situation of having not only not saluted a superior officer when she had appeared in front of him, but also having made said officer wait for him to finish whatever he was doing before tending to her needs, even if it was only for four seconds.
Another candidate for a punishment battalion! o_O
The Podolsk PMZ-A-750. The chassis was 'inspired' by BMWs of the time, the engine was a 750cc V-shaped unit, inspired by a Harley Davidson engine. Despite the liberal use of these sources of 'inspiration', or maybe because of it, this motorcycle was an unmitigated disaster.
Er, yes. That kind of inspiration. :rolleyes:
A PMZ-A-750 can be seen, ridden by the female protagonist in 'Tractors' a Soviet romantic Comedy about a love triangle set in a Utopian collective farm in which tractor drivers are the heroes, released in 1938.
Now that would really Crank My Tractor! Classic.
wonderful world of Soviet state-sanctioned romantic comedies of the late 1930s
:D Why hasn't one of the major streaming services picked these up? :p
The pilot and the gunner climbed in, and the Il-10 was off to bomb some more Hungarians.
A very good use for an Il-10 (In this context, one hastens to add. I do have friends of Hungarian extraction.)
So, to summarize, I got a Senior Sergeant who has been in the Red Army for so long he should have been a Major by now, at least. Well, he does have a lot of combat experience, and he can maintain his rifle. He also has a big mouth, and illegible handwriting, these could be the reasons why he kept getting passed over for promotions.
These 'troublemakers' are often your best soldiers. In my armoured regiment (I'm talking early 80s here), we had one trooper who had been promoted to Lance Corporal. Three times! :D He had served in Centurions in Vietnam. But he was a 'regimental treasure'. :)
While we were on the subject of fixing broken things, he pulled out an ignition timing regulator from his toolbox, which he had brought with him, something I only noticed at that point.
Better than an engagement ring, I suppose, for our very dutiful XI!
 

roverS3

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What a coincidence, I finally catch up just in time for an update!
What a happy coincidence indeed. Looks like my timing was perfect.

I hope you do find a solution to your study issues. I suspect there is nothing I can do to help with either architecture or music (I severely doubt an engineer's experience of the architecture profession in the wild would help someone studying the subject ;) ) so all I can offer is good wishes I'm afraid.
Thanks for the good wishes. There's no real issue on the music side, that's a hobby I'm very passionate about. (at least for now). It would be a waste to drop out of Architecture now, as I am rather close to getting a Masters degree, and am still interested in the subject (maybe not quite as passionate as when I started, but it's not like Architecture bores me now). I'm seeing a therapist to try and get through my inhibitions and insecurities related to my architecture projects, and also to try and deal, in a more sustainable way, with my situation at home. I also got contact info for a retired architect whom I've never met. I have been told he would be willing to help, so maybe I'll try that too.
As for an engineer's experience of the Architecture profession in the wild. I'm sure there could be some lessons there for when I'm actually working in the wild, but for my studies it probably wouldn't be much, if any help. Maybe in a couple of years...

Immediate transfer to a punishment battalion should be the only option on the the table :p Is this Stalin's Soviet Union or not!? :D
I'm sure that's what the clerk had in mind when he said 'terminate my employment'. Where else would one go when fired from the Secret Committee?

Er, yes. That kind of inspiration. :rolleyes:
What other kind is there... The mythical kind that happens in countries where your very thoughts aren't censored? As far as I understand, the problems with that motorcycle stem from the fact that they actually tried to do some creative design work themselves, right there in Podolsk, to make that Harley engine work with the BMW-chassis, which wasn't designed for that type of engine. My guess would be that that's the root cause of the vibration issues. Then again, my mechanical knowledge is entirely theoretical (except for how my bicycle works), so I could be way off.

:D Why hasn't one of the major streaming services picked these up? :p
Clearly a very serious oversight. There is certainly a vast untapped market of potential customers who are waiting for that to subscribe. I know I am...

A very good use for an Il-10 (In this context, one hastens to add. I do have friends of Hungarian extraction.)
Whilst I'm not a fan of current Hungarian politics, I wouldn't advocate for bombing them in OTL, not right now anyway...

These 'troublemakers' are often your best soldiers. In my armoured regiment (I'm talking early 80s here), we had one trooper who had been promoted to Lance Corporal. Three times! :D He had served in Centurions in Vietnam. But he was a 'regimental treasure'. :)
Interesting real life story. I'm going to neither confirm nor deny whether Senior Sergeant troublemaker will prove to be a great soldier. From a story and realism perspective, I couldn't very well have all her men fall in line without some trouble, especially considering she's a young woman, with an exceptionally high rank (for a woman at that particular time). Women being a relatively recent addition to the Red Army at that time, especially in combat roles.
Having no military experience at all, I wasn't sure whether I struck the right balance between decorum and trouble-making. I'm writing this from the point of view that they're all humans. People make mistakes, they sometimes lack respect towards their superiors. It's an exercise in empathy and in thinking like the characters, despite having never lived through their exact experiences, harking back to the time when I followed lessons in theatre. I'm glad that my fictional character reminded you of a flesh and blood soldier from your days in the army. Please don't hesitate to tell me if something is off to the point it would be extremely unlikely to happen in a military setting.
I wasn't aware centurions fought in Vietnam, but now I've seen the newsreel videos on youtube, Vietnam looks like a walk in the park in a Centurion...

Better than an engagement ring, I suppose, for our very dutiful XI!
Let's not get ahead of ourselves here... That said, XI would probably consider it better than an engagement ring, if she were to see it in that light.
 
Last edited:
18th of July 1942, 'Odin', 10-day report #202

roverS3

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The 18th of July 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 July 1942,

by 'Odin'

Army:
The Red Army is now widely considered to be a Veteran Army, with more than 250 battles over the last few years.
Once all the T-34s, SU-100s, and other vehicles were delivered, 15 Tankovaya Diviziya was deployed to Lt. General Bogdanov's III TK, 2ya Tank Armiya, Arm AG, STAVKA.
5 new Artillery Regiments, 140 AP, 143 AP, 144 AP, 145 AP, and 146 AP, have been deployed, to 141 SD, 176 SD, 143 SD, 25 SD, and 51 SD respectively. All are stationed on, or close to, the Hungarian border.

Army numbers (Brigades/Personnel) Reserves included (these numbers don't include regiments being upgraded):
Front line troops: 692 / 2.076.000
Support troops: 368 / 368.000
Total fighting troops: 1.060 / 2.444.000
Headquarters: 64 / 64.000
Total Army Personnel: 1.124 / 2.508.000
Officers: 104.893 - / 111.700 needed / 833 KIA / 93,906 % -
Active Leaders: 282 / 2 POW / 214 more available
To reinforce the new VIII SK (2) HQ, an Infx2, AT unit started training, while their 100mm PrP guns are produced.
After the loss of 3 VDD, 2 new Paratroooper Regiments have started training.
To quickly replace lost units, 52. Diviziya Opolcheniya (Garx3) has started training.18. Garnizon Diviziya has also started training to replace Garrison units that were redeployed forward to Bornholm, and Mythiléné.
Artillery production continues, with two new Artillery Regiments, and one support Brigade (Art, AT) for 52. DOp (see above
)​
Army Leadership:
Maj. Generals Kachalov (37 SD), and Potapov (52 SD), have been taken prisoner by German and Slovak forces along with their units. Their whereabouts are unknown.
Maj. General Rodmitsev, SK2, Cdo has found himself without a unit after his entire Division, 3 VDD, shattered and surrendered en masse in Slagelse. He has found refuge in Maj. General Briukov's 2 VDD HQ. The incident is under investigation.
New Maj. General Cherniakhovskij, SK3 has been given command of the newly deployed 15 TD, III TK, 2ya Tank Armiya, Arm AG, STAVKA.
Air Force
:
81 newly delivered Tupolev TB-3 Heavy Bombers have been formed into 2. DBAD and deployed to now Av. Lt. General Kalinin's I. DBAK, based out of Homel.
Aeroplane Numbers (Wings/Planes):
Interceptors: 28 / 3.472
Multi-Role Fighters: 10 / 1.240
Close Air Support: 11 / 1.364
Carrier Air Groups: 8 / 496
Single Engined: 57 / 6.572
Tactical Bomber: 4 / 400
Strategic Bombers: 2 / 162
Total Bombers: 17 / 1.926
Transport Planes: 3 / 372
Total VVS: 58 / 7.010
Total Navy: 8 / 496
Total Aeroplanes: 66 / 7.512
Active Leaders: 23 / 27 Reserve
The production line has been repurposed for the production on another wing of Lisunov Li-2 Transport aeroplanes. This variant has larger fuel tanks, extending it's operating range to 575 km.
No changes to VVS nor Navy Air Fleet leadership.​

Navy
:
No changes to the Navy for the last 10 days.​

Politics / International:
Sweden stopped aligning to the Axis. Our diplomats are now unimpeded in their efforts to bring the country into the Comintern.
Battle of Britain
The Air War shows no signs of slowing down.
25 aerial battles were fought over Portsmouth, with no bombers getting through. In Dover, the Luftwaffe had more luck, flying 7 successful port strikes, being intercepted by the RAF 7 times as well, but only after the bombs were dropped.
In Germany, Leipzig was bombed 11 times, with German fighters intercepting the bombers on the way there, and on the way back, over Dortmund.
Other aerial fights happened over Northern France, with 21 battles over Lannion, 100km east of Brest, 7 battles over Cherbourg, and 7 battles over Paris.
German submarines went right up to Newcastle to strike American and British Lend-Lease convoys, sinking 18 vessels. Another 57 were sunk in the Atlantic (75 in total). British submarines and surface units sunk a total of 191 Axis freighters, of which 40 were sunk less than 150 km off the Norwegian coast. German trade still continues.
Yugoslavia
YSF42-07-18-min.jpeg

A Yugoslav uprising has started in the Dubrovnik area, there are some rumours that the partisans have received British weapons, possibly from caches in Athina.
Athens - Greece
GRF42-07-18-min.jpeg

Our Black Sees Fleet sailed past British-held Athina during it's patrol of the Aegean Sea, spotting the addition of a HQ unit to the Motorised Division already in place. An Italian Light Tank Division was spotted to the south of the city, in Nafplio, but no attacks seem to have taken place yet. It seems the British aren't the only ones with their mobile Divisions in the wrong place...
North Africa Front:
United Kingdom (Surrender Progress / NU): 1,9 / 87,3
Italy (Surrender Progress / NU): 0,00 / 79,2
BNAF42-07-18-min.jpeg

The British army is on the move again, managing to envelop Tobruch by taking Bardia on the coast, and advancing all the way to El Adem further inland. Our analysts suspect the Italians are experiencing local supply shortages, rendering their superior numbers and armoured vehicles, useless, at least for the time being.
With a Royal Navy parked a Carrier just off-shore, bombing missions on Bardia continued. Additionally, Wellington Mk.IIIs based in El Iskandarîya contributed by bombing El Adem, and later Tobruch. A total of 65 bombing raids took place, with no significant response from the Regia Aeronautica.
The fleet in question also managed to sink a convoy bound for Tobruch.
9 Italian Freighters were sunk by the Royal Navy, of which 8 were sunk off the coast of Tobruch. This pales in comparison to British convoy losses around Madeira. Axis submarines, presumably Italian ones, based out of Italian-held ports on the Atlantic coast of Morocco have wreaked havoc in the area, sinking 55 British merchant vessels.
The RN Coastal Naval Command executed a total of 29 unopposed Port Strikes on Tunis Harbour. The only reason for this many attacks is that significant fleet units of the Regia Marina are located there. Nothing was sunk, but heavy damage to port facilities, and to RM units is assumed.
The RAF stubbornly continued it's attempts at bombing Firenze, with little success, as half their Halifaxes based on Malta were lost without having managed to drop a single bomb on target.

No naval encounters.
South East Asia Front
United States of America (Surrender Progress / NU): 8,5 / 85,8
United Kingdom (Surrender Progress / NU): 1,9 / 87,3
Japan (Surrender Progress / NU): 0,00 / 70,1
Netherlands, France, Philippines (Government in Exile)
SEAF42-07-18_1-min.jpeg

Japanese forces continued their advances on both Sumatra and Java, taking Palembang and crossing the Musi river on the former, and grabbing a single province on the latter, without crossing the Ciliwung river. The Dutch government in exile was forced to relocate to the rubber plantation of Semarang. This finally allows them to start sending supplies to their own troops on other islands through the port of Soerabaja.
SEAF42-07-18_2-min.jpeg

A new IJN landing on the Eastern coast of Borneo, right on the border between British-held and Dutch-held areas. As of yet, the Japanese haven't managed to take a port on this particular island. That said, Tarakan, directly to the south of the landing area seems to be weakly held. The imperial Marines do have to cross the Kayan river delta to get there, but with their specialist training and extensive IJN Air Support (35 bombing raids on Tarakan) it doesn't look like that will be enough. Unless the Dutch troops can hold them back until they run out of supplies.
Despite a few naval skirmishes, no naval units were sunk on either side. Convoy Raiding continued at an almost unbelievable rate, with 108 Japanese freighters adorning the seabed, and a whopping 391 Allied merchant vessels sent to the bottom. That's not the whole story as Japanese convoys seem to be particularly well defended. 54 Allied raids came under fire from escorting surface units, significantly reducing the damage that could be done, in return Japanese convoy raiding fleets only came under fire a mere 4 times.
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.
57 Axis convoys were sunk by the USN off the Pacific coast of North America, and another 18 to the south of Cuba.

Industry:
Working Industrial Capacity / available capacity: 235 (-3) / 428 (-6) The Germans have taken Mariampolè (1 IC), and the Hungarians Stanislawow (2 IC).
18 Infrastructure improvement projects have been completed, and another 18 started. (see electrification update)

IC Usage: ( Allocated IC / Need )
Upgrades: 135,90 / 146,02 - Upgrade requirements continue to go down, while expenditure continues to go up.
Reinforcement: 23,90 / 23,90 - The need for reinforcements varies wildly but remains over 20 IC.
Supplies: 57,50 / 56,49 - with the loss of several units, and increasing stockpiles, supply production was reduced somewhat.
Production: 185,02 / 193,11 - Further reductions in production and training for new units allows for an increase in spending on new equipment to Upgrade existing units.
Consumer Goods: 25,68 / 25,68 - With the loss of some territory and industry, the population's minimal requirements for civilian goods can be met with slightly less investment.
Stockpiles:
Energy: Maximum tonnes +
Metal: 99.117 tonnes -
Rares: 48.652 tonnes +
Crude: 98.410 cubic metres +
Supplies: 32.133 tonnes -
Fuel: 96.382 barrels -
Money: 1.350 +​
Intelligence:
Spy numbers, spies in (active / added / lost / caught by us)
France (Supporting our Party / Counterespionage): 5 / 0 / 0 / 0
{ Germany (/): 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 }
{ Japan (/): 0 / 0 / 0 / 2 }
{ UK (/) : 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 }​
Other: 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Total: 5 / 0 / 0 / 2
Reserves: 5
Spy training leadership expenditure: 0,38 (a new spy every 17 days)
Another 2 Japanese Spies was caught red-handed in the Soviet Union. They claimed, of course, to be innocent tourists.
Spy training expenditure was increased again thanks to our Army's Veteran status.

Research:
A series of significantly improved variants of the V-2 Diesel Medium Tank Engine (Level 4) are ready for production, with the most powerful variants producing up to 600 hp.
Our tank designers now turn their attention to designing a more powerful Medium Tank Gun (Level 4).
Industrial Efficiency (Level 7) has reached unseen levels, thanks to the optimisation of production lines and better training for factory-workers.
Improvements of Supply Production (Level 7) are next on the list.

Leadership distribution:
Research: 19,50 =
Espionage: 0,38 (+0,21)
Diplomacy: 2,09 =
Officers: 12,00 (+0,5) (72 Officers/day) Another increase in Officer training has come thanks to the Veteran status of the Red Army)
Total: 33,97 (+0,71) Loss of Mariampolè, loss of Stanislawow, Veteran Army.

Statistics:
National Unity: 83,241 =
Neutrality: 0,00 =
Dissent: 0,00 =
Manpower:
Available: 2.231.000 (-20.000) Training several Garrison Divisions uses up manpower, and losses from the war are higher than the previous 10-day period.
Men To reinforce(need): 10.500
Men To mobilise(need): See above
Monthly gain: 70.400 Men (1 fully mobilised Infx3, Art, AT Division every 5,4 days)​
No changes in Party Popularity nor Party Organisation​

This Information is accurate on the morning of the 18th of July 1942, I hope it serves you well in fine-tuning your possible suggestions.

'Odin'​
 

Bullfilter

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Some heavy action in the air and against convoys between the Axis and the Allies. Out of curiosity, how do you track the non-Soviet results so closely? Counting the air battle reports at certain times to total them for set periods? And the convoy losses?

As for the story, will it be a mix of narrative episode, statistical and Allied reporting, and then a separate episode on ground combat on the main front?
 

roverS3

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Some heavy action in the air and against convoys between the Axis and the Allies. Out of curiosity, how do you track the non-Soviet results so closely? Counting the air battle reports at certain times to total them for set periods? And the convoy losses?
I tag to France (The Soviet Union still has spies there), and look at the map in Air and Naval map mode. The rest is adding up numbers and conjecture. I suspect that there are some errors in those numbers, especially when there has been a lot of action in the last week and you tag to another nation. But, as these numbers come from intelligence assets in Indochina and Lebanon, in my mind, some numbers are bound to be wrong.

As for the story, will it be a mix of narrative episode, statistical and Allied reporting, and then a separate episode on ground combat on the main front?
You got that right. The statistical reports and GPW reports alternate, with separate narrative updates are sprinkled in when I feel like it. The next update will be a report on the GPW.
 

El Pip

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Industrial Efficiency (Level 7) has reached unseen levels, thanks to the optimisation of production lines and better training for factory-workers.
Another triumph for GOSPLAN and the 3rd Five Year Plan (and for the Gulag system, but we do not mention that).

You do wonder how many factory commissars and mine supervisors were secretly relieved when the Germans invaded; it gave them a legitimate excuse for not hitting their impossible Five Year Plan production targets.