Chapter 20 – October 1945
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    Chapter 20 – October 1945

    AuthAAR’s Notes: Given we’re now past the end date of WW2 in OTL and this still has some way to go, I’m going to keep trimming and streamlining the presentation to keep things moving along more quickly. In game terms, I’m giving myself until no later than the day of Stalin’s OTL death to either get my win (12 objectives), or it stops then and we see how we have done. Which gives plenty of time yet, of course. I hope I don’t need it all!

    Basically, the combat descriptions will be trimmed down further, as I now think the summary maps give most of the information needed to get the sweep, sequence and size of engagements by sector and across the front. I’ll just briefly note the biggest battles each month by sector. The focus of the rest remains on the ‘sinews of war’ and strategic aspects that I control as the player.


    ******

    1. Introduction and Command Arrangements

    As September ended, the only continuing battle was a Soviet attack on Telemba (Central Sector in this update) [69% progress].

    In overall terms, at midnight on 1 November the orders to all four of the Eastern armies were to adopt an attacking ground stance and go on the air offensive, countermanding the mistakenly defensive orders that had prevailed the previous month.

    ******

    2. Northern Sector

    This was the busiest sector for the month, with a major Soviet advance along the Pacific Coast and its hinterland. After the battle for Bomnaksk was fought and won on 1 October, the advance continued with determination, pushing through to Fevral’sk, Gulian and Tugur by the end of the month. Air support had been active but generally not heavy during this time. Skovorodino was taken late in the month after one failed attempt earlier in the month, but the Japanese were still counter-attacking as the month ended.

    Interestingly, in this sector Japan won three of the four largest battles, but the Soviets managed to win most of the rest, sometimes taking a few attempts to prevail. The first Soviet attack on Skovorodino (8-13 October) cost 1,454 Soviet attackers and 1,452 Japanese defenders. The first battle for Torom (11-15 October) saw 1,461 Soviet and 1,114 Japanese soldiers killed, but a later attack was successful against the weakened defenders.

    The Soviets won at the first attempt in Fevral’sk (22-26 October), losing only 763 men to 1,692 of the enemy, even if it took a subsequent attack to dislodge a fresh Japanese lodgement from 26-27 October. Finally, the biggest battle of the month was for Zeya, between 24-28 October, where 1,809 Soviet soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice, taking 1,569 of the enemy with them. But a renewed attack was in progress as the month ended.

    By 23 October, the forward air base at Tyndinskiy housed 11 Soviet air wings (4 x CAS, 4 x INT, 1 x MR, 2 x TAC), even though (after an upgrade during the month) it only had the facilities to repair 2.43 wings at a time, but at least it meant the men in this sector were getting regular air support again.

    Up in the Far North, as the month was drawing to a close there was only one Japanese division left in the pocket. Noticing that no-one was attacking it, 6th Army had its objectives updated, deleting the now liberated Okhotsk and substituting Magadan.

    0dD7zr.jpg

    General Shestapalov responded quickly to his orders: an attack began just two hours later, with the enemy driven off later that day after a short skirmish.

    pj0lXs.jpg

    Operational summary, Far East – Northern Sector (not including the Magadan Pocket), October 1945.

    ******

    3. Central Sector

    This sector saw less fighting than in the North, but some large actions were fought and an initial salient into the Japanese lines had been significantly expanded as October drew to a close.

    First, the orders of 1st Army were amended, as Bukacaca had finally been secured in September. It was replaced with a depth objective well beyond the now intermediate objective of Mildigun. If 1st Army continued to show initiative, it may get a corps reassigned from 7th or 15th Army (which it shared the sector with) in November to give it the strength to achieve larger gains.

    30XZXG.jpg

    And indeed, by 28 October, 1st Army units had advanced to the border of Mildigun, brushed away its defenders and were advancing on it as the month ended. In this sector, the only battles lost were a couple of skirmishes. The main focus of fighting had been over Telemba, which took two successful attacks to secure, followed by a defence against a sustained Japanese counter-attack. That ended up being the heaviest battle of the month in the Centre, lasting from 13-17 October, with only 187 Soviet defenders lost against 1,096 Japanese attackers, while the VVS struck the attackers in Olovyarmaya with four days of raids killing 2,021 enemy troops.

    As the month ended, the Japanese won a battle to retake Ust’ Karsk, but had not yet reoccupied it.

    2lQttl.jpg

    Operational summary, Far East – Central Sector, October 1945.

    ******

    4. Southern Sector

    Results in the South were more mixed than the month before, but still positive on balance. Although sometimes limited by supply issues in Irkutsk, the VVS wings based there delivered some heavy air support at times, even it failed to prevent two major Japanese victories in Selenga Burin and Serguleng.

    The two most significant battles in the sector during the month were both defensive defeats for the Soviets. In Selenga Burin (1-5 October), the Soviets lost 920 men to ground combat, while the Japanese lost 829, though air strikes took a heavy toll on attacking enemy troops in both Altan Bulak (2,883) and Petrovsk Zabaykal'skiy (2,341). But the Soviet defenders were outnumbered throughout and were out of supply until 2 October, which had hampered their defence (see more on supply in Section 7 below).

    After the battle for Selenga Burin was lost on 5 October, it was added to 7th Army’s objective list but no Soviet counter-attack materialised after it was occupied by the enemy on 14 October.

    dzofAG.jpg

    Serguleng had been taken from the Japanese on 16 October after a victory there in September. A first Japanese counter-attack from Selenga Burin and Ulaanbataar was beaten off from 16-18 October. But a second attack (21-25 October), despite even heavier defensive air support, forced the Soviets out. There were ground combat losses of 1,066 Soviet and 1,157 Japanese troops, plus another enemy 2,780 killed in air raids on troops attacking from Selenga Burin and 745 in Ulaanbataar.

    Serguleng remained in Japanese hands by the end of the month though the Japanese forces reoccupying it were defeated as they arrived on 29 October, so the province may change hands yet again in early November. Gains were made by Soviet and Comintern forces to the south, in Muren and Santu.

    zcFAuz.jpg

    Operational summary, Far East – Southern Sector, October 1945.

    ******

    5. Finland

    On 21 October, another widespread revolt broke out in Finland, affected eight provinces initially and spreading rapidly in the next few days, until responding Soviet units started to roll back these early gains.

    Y4TiM9.jpg

    Based on previous expert advice, a theatre boundary change made since the last revolt meant only Archangelsk Theatre troops would be affected, rather than the unnecessary mass depopulation of the German-Polish sector that had occurred the last time.

    YXX0Hc.jpg

    By 1000hr on 21 October, the Theatre Commander Marshal Karmanov had been ordered to adopt an attacking stance (perhaps imitating the action of a tiger? ;) ) to crush the rebellion. After two days of the rebels rapidly fanning out into the central Finnish countryside, the entire northern garrison along the Swedish and Norwegian borders was in trucks heading south as fast as they could make it, while two nearby divisions in the south marched to action.

    9vzjli.jpg

    The cancer of counter-revolution had spread widely by 26 October, when Soviet forces first engaged the Finns in the south at Juva, then on 28 October in Lahti and by 31 October at Kuopio, with the first of the northern forces arriving and attacking. All these ‘battles’ were little more than skirmishes against guerrilla brigades, typically costing a dozen of fewer Soviet casualties for around 130 Finns.

    6irqla.jpg

    Operational summary, Finland, 21-31 October 1945.

    ******

    6. Espionage

    The spy war hotted up considerably in October. In Spain, the Republic’s counter-espionage forces remained strong and active, but the Soviets decided to ‘test the waters’ on 4 October by devoting a quarter of their effort to supporting the local Communist Party.

    0S2cKU.jpg

    But with one of the Soviet teams being neutralised on 6 October and Spanish domestic spy strength still at seven teams, this brief experiment was discontinued for the time being.

    In Turkey though, local counter-espionage was minimal (one team) and on 12 October all Soviet efforts were directed into supporting the local Communists, who started from a low base of only 7% popularity. But with heavier losses elsewhere, especially in Japan, and reserve teams down to just two to cover four active missions, spy training was increased from 1.2 to 1.5 leadership, with a small amount shaved from diplomacy and the rest from officer training (officers currently at reasonably healthy 117%).

    But the losses mounted: by 16 October the reserve was down to one team and the spy effort was doubled to 3.0 LS, with 1 LS coming from the deferral of one research project (now only 21 out of 22 supported), the rest taken from officer training.

    On 17 October, a team was lost in Turkey, so the effort there was dialled back to 50% each on counter-espionage and Communist Party support. Another research project was put on hold on 18 October as losses mounted and the reserve hovered on just one team, boosting spy training to 4.0 LS.

    Then on 22 October the Manchurians captured a Soviet team, so the effort there was also adjusted from 100% on disrupting national unity to a 50/50 mix with counter-espionage. But despite these losses, the new training focus had taken effect, with the reserve up to three teams.

    The reserve was up to five and another Japanese team had been captured by 29 October (leaving them with two after a brutal month of tit-for-tat killings), so a 50/50 split between counter-espionage and national unity disruption was resumed.

    The Japanese Kempeitai started the month with three teams and finished with two, adding three but losing four to Soviet action, but the Soviets lost three teams of their own achieving this. Japanese national unity remained steady at 64.5%, as Soviet disruption only resumed as the month was ending.

    Manchukuo started the month with no teams at home and finished with two, adding two and losing none, while eliminating two Soviet teams. Manchurian national unity had however decreased by 0.8% from 65.8% to 65.0%.

    Turkey started and finished with one team, adding and losing one during the month, while neutralising two Soviet agents. But the Communist Party in Turkey had been boosted from 7% to 10% popularity by the end of the month.

    In Spain, the locals started with seven teams, losing two and adding one to finish with six, eliminating three Soviet teams along the way. Local Communist Party popularity had not yet budged, remaining at 12%.

    At home and abroad, 33 enemy agents were neutralised in October, compared to 35 in September. As mentioned above the Japanese had lost four (though these were all presumed to have been in Japan), with the British and Germans losing three each, Spain two (in Spain), the rest one each.

    The Soviets had lost ten agents and but produced thirteen five new teams in September, leaving them with a reserve of seven by 31 October. With a more comfortable buffer re-established, one of the deferred research projects would likely be restarted, in part of full.

    ******

    7. Production and Supply

    The air base in Jakutsk received its final upgrade on 4 October: the front was moving further forward, so the saved IC was rolled into ‘consolidated revenue’ for now.

    As noted earlier, supply was still problematic on parts of the front, with the defence of Selenga Burin still being affected by 4 October, though marginal supply had been restored. Part of the problem there was caused by low infrastructure. Also, the routing of supplies was a bit confusing: logisticians declared their supply route back to Moscow was 135 nodes away, while Ulan Ude (directly north of it, albeit on the Trans-Siberian Railway, so with much better infrastructure) was supposedly only 126 distant. Supply in the Vershino Darasunsky salient was still also difficult, though fuel was plentiful. This would improve during the month. [NB: I'm not sure what the difference, if any, is between a 'node' and a 'province' in this context.]

    4I5HZy.jpg

    On 10 October, US Lend-Lease was reduced to 93 IC (down almost 30 from its earlier peak), a rate that would continue for the rest of the month, keeping the introduction of new production projects suppressed.

    The air base at Tyndinsky – the new front-line centre for the VVS in the Northern Sector – got its level three expansion on 15 October, with improvements continued at the crowded facility.

    2zL7TU.jpg

    All the massive new infrastructure projects for the TSR and the Far East Front were completed on 20-21 October. It would take a while for them to reach full efficiency. With high supply demand (around 135 IC average), Lend-Lease reduced and the upgrade bill climbing (back up to 37.47 IC), only two new infrastructure projects were started, to start improving the TSR beyond Irkutsk as land was securely liberated.

    ryWQtt.jpg

    Some of the freed IC was put into raising a second full marine division.

    yWqQnU.jpg

    And a few days later, another wing of strategic bombers was ordered.

    1JljkH.jpg

    Though more research gains meant the upgrade bill climbed even higher by 27 October (to 50.66 IC), though supply production had been reduced to around 110 IC, meaning the bomber production would not always been at 100% capacity as variable demands fluctuated.

    ******

    8. Research and Leadership

    With another improvement being implanted for the artillery brigades, focus was put into bringing heavy tank engine technology closer to world standards – the French in particular were known to have focussed on their heavy armour, while of course the Germans were famous for it.

    PPzHtB.jpg

    On 14 October, the strategic bomber arm got improved bombs, with the effort there switching to introducing the first large air search radar for the VVS.

    kcVBR4.jpg

    The next day, land doctrine for the special forces was improved and research in that priority ‘niche’ area was continued.

    pp6G7s.jpg

    Medium tank reliability was researched on 18 October and while it was planned to continue, as noted above spy losses abroad were impacting heavily at that point, so it and special forces research were put on temporary hold, with large air search radar elevated above them in priority.

    xR5Uqn.jpg

    The next breakthrough was on 26 October, with small navigation radar researched and also elevated to continue above the two suspended projects.

    vNGQkU.jpg


    ******

    9. Theatre Summaries

    The Far Eastern Theatre saw major Soviet gains on the Pacific side of the front, fair gains in the centre and modest net gains in the south.

    2I2e0J.jpg

    The Soviet army remained close to encroaching on northern Manchuria, but had not crossed into it yet. The Japanese still maintained a continuous front line, even if the coastal sector was back-pedalling significantly. A small encirclement might be possible east of Lake Baikal.

    T9y9p8.jpg

    Total confirmed Soviet losses in land combat were very similar (down just slightly) compared to September at 10,686, with none lost to Japanese aircraft.

    The Japanese and their puppets lost 17,921 men (a couple of hundred more fewer than in September) in ground combat. But losses from Soviet air strikes were up significantly to 18,747 (8,187 more than in September). Total Axis casualties (including a few hundred in Finland again) were therefore 36,668, or 10,757 more than in September (though with no repeat of the massive POW haul in Ayan last month).

    ******

    The Finnish revolt had seized a large swathe of the hinterland, but the containment operation had now begun a week or so after the initial rising. Next would come its destruction. And maybe a few MP units might be needed to keep a lid on things in the future.

    oIXPd8.jpg


    ******

    In South East Asia, the Allied conquest of the Philippines had been completed, but Singapore had been lost again. Nothing much had changed elsewhere.

    hz03cG.jpg

    The Allies were currently relying on the Thais in Malaya, but their criminally negligent failure to garrison Singapore had led to its loss.

    QSMjUr.jpg

    The considerable French-commanded forces now in the southern Philippines were in the process of relocating, but time would tell how many were left as a garrison and where the others would end up. Perhaps some back to Malaya, others to new adventures.

    Svo2P3.jpg


    ******

    The Japanese defences had collapsed in Australia by mid-month. Some remnants were now pocketed, the rest heading towards Adelaide [which, in-game, inexplicably does not include a port – though that is good for the Allies now]. Canberra had been retaken in the first half of the month and re-established as the capital.

    ptBRPp.jpg

    Midway Island now seemed at last to be properly defended, with three garrison divisions, fighters and bombers.

    kbRxVr.jpg
     
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    Chapter 21 – November 1945
  • Bullfilter

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    Chapter 21 – November 1945

    AuthAAR’s Notes: So, as mentioned before my new HOI3 mod project is quite time-consuming, as I’m learning to mod the game from scratch and doing a major country and scenario rewrite, with dozens of new or modified countries, map changes, new/adapted events etc.

    With this and my three other AARs still going, it means this one is going to get even quicker and dirtier (I’m gradually honing it down to my original ideal of short and sharp ;) ). Quicker to write and read, I hope, making use of some spreadsheet stuff that is now pre-formatted and automatically collated to cut down on words and screenshots. Plus just omitting more details from combat descriptions, minor diplomatic events etc and making the summaries even more general. Especially as this war with Japan is taking longer than I’d anticipated to finish off.

    I hope all this meets with your approval, Dear Readers. I think the sweep and gist of things still comes across OK, but please let me know if you think it doesn’t.


    ******

    1. The Far East Front

    [Note: The first format change is to provide an up-front summary of the whole Front, then just add few commentary details and stats for each sector.]

    November saw supply problems across the front have a noticeable effect on Soviet combat operations. The Central Sector was particularly hard hit by shortages, with the air base of Irkutsk basically out of commission for the month, and those to the east of it on limited operations only. Poor supply also badly affected a number of ground battles. The two combined meant the Japanese were able to be far more aggressive in the Central Sector in particular, though the Soviets still made some gains.

    SeKzOv.jpg

    Operational Summary, Far East – November 1945.

    ******

    1.1 Eastern Sector

    For example, lack of supplies in Urusha, where one Soviet rifle division was defending an attack by four enemy division saw it in big trouble on the morning of 5 November. A day later, supply had been restored but the damage had been done. The battle was lost later on 6 November, with disproportionately high Soviet casualties (1137 v 385).

    On the morning of 7 November, the 1st Marine Division arrived by train in Ulya, where it linked up with the Red Banner Pacific Fleet and began to work up to full combat organisation.

    On 8 November, the new 2 DBAD (STRAT – Pe-8s) bomber wing was deployed to Tyndinskiy to begin working up. 1 DBAD (equipped with older versions of the Pe-8) was also transferred there from the west. The VVS was interested in conducting some test runs with their new toys. The range of 1 DBAD was less than the new 2 DBAD due to older fuel tanks (both wings were being upgraded to even newer components which had been developed while they were being built) and they had an older airframe model.

    B5FB8m.jpg

    1 DBAD was sent to do logistical bombing in the Obluchye region – the wing commander would select his own target province. With few Japanese aircraft active in the Theatre, the wing (at around 50% org after recent rebasing) was sent by itself. Which proved to be an unwise risk.

    norOz9.jpg

    Their bombing run on Bureya started at 1500hr on 9 November, but they were met by a wing of Japanese INT. Soviet fighters of 7th Air Wing (which it turned out had been just in range after all) were scrambled to assist and briefly engaged the Japanese as the raid was ending. But 1 DBAD had been badly cut up by the time they returned later that evening; their mission was hastily called off.

    Later that night, the Soviets (left on an air superiority mission in the area) had their revenge, intercepting 4 Zerosen at 2200hr over Bureya, taking a little damage but devastating the Japanese interceptors, with an air victory declared.

    As Soviet progress was made towards Nikolayevsk na Amure, a new southern objective of the air base of Tumnin was added to 6th Army’s list.

    l22k6m.jpg

    By 29 November, 4 Zerosen had been repaired enough for the Japanese to send them out again – and they were once more jumped by 7th Air Wing this time over Zavitaya, for another devastating VVS air victory.

    As the month ended, the sector had seen some heavy fighting, including probably the largest single battle yet in the Far East, a Soviet victory attacking Obluchye, with combined casualties of over 5,000 men in the six-day battle. The next three largest battles were all won by the Japanese, in that part of the line nearer to the Central Sector (and thus with more supply problems).

    54lh1d.jpg

    Battles listed in size by total casualties, with unfinished at the bottom, shaded grey.
    But the terrain won by month’s end was all in the Soviet column, with Skovordino lost on the 2nd but won back again by the 28th.

    ******

    1.2 Central Sector

    On 1 November, 52nd Corps was transferred from 7th to 1st Army after the latter’s recent more aggressive spirit and progress in the Central Sector, bring the 1st up to 100,000 men in strength, in three corps.

    By 3 November, supply problems were widespread. Virtually no air support was available in the sector and attacks that should have been reasonably viable were often aborted after a short skirmish, while defence often became very difficult.

    This persisted during the month: the defence of Shilka (three otherwise strong Soviet divisions defending an attack by one Japanese infantry division) was badly compromised on 17 November by a lack of supplies. That shorter battle was won, but an eight-day battle from 20-28 November was eventually lost, despite a casualty count well in the Soviets’ favour (658 v 1,319), from a lack of organisation following a continuation of poor supply.

    The Japanese were firmly on the offensive in this sector throughout the month, winning all the larger battles and gaining some ground in Ust’Karsk early and then Mogocha later in the month. This was offset by a range of smaller Soviet victories and gains further west, especially the objective province of Mildigun, captured on 5 November and held for the rest of the month.

    DNVfhJ.jpg


    ******

    1.3 Southern Sector

    The Southern Sector only saw limited combat by Soviet forces, though the Mongolians (for whom there are no battle reports) were quite active, advancing in the south (which I think triggered one of those auto occupation of low infra provinces gains) and holding elsewhere. Not a single air mission was flown in the sector during the month, highlighting the supply problems for the VVS in Irkutsk.

    ZsUmeA.jpg


    ******

    2. Finland

    The suppression of the Finnish revolt was in full swing during November. The Soviet Archangelsk Theatre had mounted its main response from the north and east. A few Finnish units were running around in the less well-guarded margins to the west and south, but there was no doubt they would be rounded up in due course.

    qvjqAo.jpg

    Casualties rates were running at 20-1 in the Soviets’ favour. Some air units (CAS) had been transferred to the Theatre Commander, but he seemed not to have used them yet. A steady sequence of provinces was liberated throughout November.

    wni3LR.jpg

    Question: could this theatre be diverting supply effort from the Far East, hence causing some of the problems over there in recent weeks? If so – damn pesky rebels, but well done game. ;)

    ******

    3. Production and Logistics

    The new and powerful 11. Tank Division finished basic training and was deployed in the Lwow Theatre on 1 November. Its place in the queue was taken up by a lighter and smaller but faster armoured formation.

    THbKtC.jpg

    At this stage, US Lend Lease was again at a high (around 100 IC), giving a total Soviet capacity of 432 IC, of which 237 IC was being spent on the production queue, which was running at 100%.

    A new nuclear reactor (the third such facility) was completed in Noginsk on 5 November. No new reactors were planned, but the released effort went into expanding the Mytishchi facility to a third level. All were near Moscow, where Stalin could keep a close eye on them.

    m7DmY1.jpg

    Some spare IC was invested in beginning a high-cost heavy mechanised division, though subsequent cutbacks to US Lend Lease would slow its production significantly in coming weeks. Still, it was an investment for a possible future war for Europe.

    YIQXsh.jpg

    Indeed, by 12 November Lend Lease had reduced to 67 IC, with the total Soviet economy down to 390 IC. Production of the new heavy mechanised division was slowed to around 12% of its massive 40.5 IC cost.

    As described in the Far East reports, supply across the front was poor by 12 November, especially around Irkutsk, except in the eastern part of the front, the advance in the middle of the Central Sector and in southern Mongolia. It was probably no coincidence that this was where the Soviets were having the most success on the battlefield.

    8nnVoj.jpg

    Another new INT wing was deployed in the west on 15 November. And by the 18th, the supply shortages in the Central Sector had worsened and were causing real problems the Japanese were taking advantage of.

    6Y4u3b.jpg

    This prompted another series of infrastructure upgrades in the Far East and a couple of ‘weak links’ in the Trans-Siberian Railway back west near Magnitogorsk. All were put to the top of the queue (11 in all, at 0.29 IC each).

    baa9Ra.jpg

    A check on the VVS units in Irkutsk on 24 November confirmed they were still grounded for lack of supplies – though fuel was plentiful everywhere.

    ******

    4. Technology

    With the improving intelligence situation (see more below) with eight spies in reserve and growing, one LS of effort was transferred from spy training (down to 3) to research (up to 21/22) on 5 November, with medium tank reliability (L6) being resumed. This was repeated on 7 November, with special forces (L5) back on the drawing boards and 22/22 projects again under research.

    Just the two research projects were completed during the month, with supply organisation given another boost on 30 November due to current logistic problems in the east.

    0tvaAh.png


    ******

    5. Espionage

    A review of international mission priorities on 1 November saw the following decided:
    • Turkey – spy strength 1, 50% c-esp; 50% party support. Changed to 100% party support.
    • Spain – spy strength 6, 100% c-esp. No change.
    • Manchukuo – spy strength 2; 50% c-esp; 50% disrupt NU. Changed to 66.6% c-esp; 33.3% disrupt NU.
    • Japan – spy strength 2; 66.6% c-esp; 33.3% disrupt NU. No change.
    By 10 November Japanese spy strength had risen to 3; c-esp was taken to 100% of the mission effort. After some bloody exchanges, Japanese spy strength was down to 1 by 21 November, with the mission adjusted to 33.3% c-esp; 66.6% disrupt NU, in response to the more favourable conditions.

    The same day, with 11 Soviet spy teams now in reserve, the Manchurian mission was tweaked again to take it back to 50% c-esp; 50% disrupt NU.

    The following table details the number and identity of spies caught by the USSR within its borders or on their overseas missions (a total of 29, down four from October) and the progress of the four Soviet foreign missions.

    sDYGDg.jpg

    Of note, despite the whole effort in Turkey being directed to supporting the PCP there, all the ground made in October was lost (-3% support recorded), if the reports were to be believed, with no change detected in Spain. National unity in both Japan and Manchukuo was again reduced a little – an important part of the strategy to get them to the point of surrender as early as possible. Strategic weapons attacks were another key part to that strategy – especially the planned nuclear devices.

    ******

    6. Theatre Summaries

    As seen before, progress in the Far East was slower than had been hoped, principally due to the related factors of supply difficulties, little air support and ground combat. This in turn made the Japanese more aggressive in the Central Sector, where they attacked more often than the Soviets. Total casualty rates, especially from Soviet air attacks, were down significantly from the month before. The continued progress of the 6th Army on the Pacific Coast remained the one really substantial bright spot. for the Soviets.

    gF0SIb.jpg


    ******

    South East Asia had seen only minor changes this month. Malaya continued to be neglected by the Allies, while at first there was some surprise that the Japanese may have re-invaded the Philippines, where the Allied liberation army was still largely in place. There was no additional information available on the apparent Japanese advances in southern Sulawesi.

    cnA3Oj.jpg

    Allied neglect in Malaya was plumbing new depths, with Kuala Lumpur lost again. A sole US Marine EF under British command was the only unit contesting the Japanese forces there. The Thais seemed to have departed and no other Allied units had been brought in to assist, with Singapore still enemy-occupied.

    R3G9Sl.jpg

    The situation in the Philippines was explained, with (incongruously) pro-Japanese rebels appearing in northern Luzon. They should soon be dealt with by a nearby British division.

    FpLcqD.jpg


    ******

    In Australia, things had not quite been mopped up yet, with a Japanese mountain division loose in New South Wales and Japanese marines holed up in Adelaide.

    mZ7gdk.jpg

    There was no change to the situation in the wider Pacific area.
     
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    Chapter 22 – December 1945

    AuthAAR’s Note: I’ve may slowed down the ‘refresh rate’ on new episodes a bit while I work on my HOI3 mod, but have not abandoned the story! The next instalment follows: again, I’ve tweaked the presentation a little, trying to strike what I feel the right balance to be for detail and summary, table and graphical presentation.

    In part, I’ve re-inserted a little more detail on the map summaries, in part for presentation purposes, aided by the fact that with weather (December in the Far East) and supply factors, the pace of operations slowed down a fair bit. I’ll deal with the weather effects briefly in the chapter. But there are some significant research advances that move the story closer to some other ‘exciting’ (!!
    :eek:) possibilities too.


    ******

    1. The Far East Front - General

    As we get back into events, the Soviets are (slowly) closing in on the last enemy remnants trapped in the northern pocket.

    iyi0Mx.jpg

    Weather will prove a major factor during the month, with relatively few battles and attacking made that much more difficult. Temperatures in the southern half of the theatre typically range from -6 to -10C. In the northern pocket, it is in the mid -20s.

    An example from a battle later in the month illustrates the rough effect of this on attacking power (with the ‘interesting’ prospect of an Indonesian general commanding a marine division in Manchurian colours! It also drastically reduces movement speeds as well, contributing to the slow progress.

    nm0563.jpg

    Otherwise, one battle has carried over: a Japanese attack on Mordaga, in the Eastern Sector.

    ******

    2. Eastern Sector

    vO0Mrb.jpg

    The situation in the Eastern Sector in early December 1945, with the Soviets cautiously on the advance in increasingly difficult conditions.

    Most of the fighting occurred either in the first week or last couple of weeks of the month, with a lull in the middle as units advanced – or just hunkered down in the frigid conditions. The fight for Mordaga was lost by 2 December, and proved to be the first of three Soviet defeats in that province as the new Soviet defending units slipped in as the Japanese slowly advanced on the province (the weather of course also slowing most movement down to a crawl).

    Easily the largest battle in any sector for the month was fought for Ushuman from 2-7 December, with almost 3,000 men killed on both sides as the Soviet attackers won a hard-fought victory. The province had still not been occupied by the end of the month, after a new Japanese unit slipped in on 30 December. That battle was still in progress as the year ended.

    Japanese CAS made a rare appearance on 8 December, the day after the Imeni Poliny Osipenko was occupied by the Soviets. They were intercepted, but not until after they managed to kill a few Soviet defenders. They did not return for the rest of the month and no counter-attack on the province eventuated.

    y9lWNY.jpg

    Elsewhere, apart from the successive failed attempts to defend Mordaga, the Soviets won a battle in Obluchye from 17-21 December, but then lost to a Japanese counter-attack (24-26 December) shortly after they occupied it. But Soviet advances in the east of the sector without opposition resulted in three other provinces being occupied, including the port of Nikolayevsk na Amure. With casualties from air raids added in, the Soviets inflicted significantly more damage than they sustained, even though the Japanese did most of the attacking and won more battles than they lost.

    Z1RoWf.jpg

    Eastern Sector Operations – December 1945.

    StBDf4.jpg

    A summary of battles (above) and advances.

    ******

    2. Western Sector

    There were only four battles along the rest of the front stretching to Mongolia during the month, one of those a small skirmish for Selanga Burin. The rest were all victorious Soviet attacks, increasing in scale as the month progressed. But as 1945 ended, none of these had yet turned into a liberation of the provinces concerned, even those won comparatively early in the month.

    The largest – the attack on Mogocha – lasted five days, resulting in heavy enemy ground casualties and even more from the air, with 2,004 enemy killed there in five days of raids from 24-28 December.

    jooU4r.jpg

    Western Sector Operations – December 1945.

    qOtr6K.jpg

    Battle summary.

    ******

    3. Finland Sector

    The month saw the latest Finnish insurgency successfully wrapped as 1945 drew to a close. Early in the month, Stalin was about to sign a death warrant for the commander of 46 SD when he received a shocking report stating that his full-strength division had been attacked in Lahti by a brigade of leaderless Finnish partisans and had run away with barely a fight!

    faDayl.jpg

    But this order was rescinded shortly afterwards, when it became clear MAJGEN Lazarev was simply moving on west to secure Lammi while more Soviet troops moved in behind him into Lahti. 64 SD took almost a day to defeat the Finns’ reckless assault, but Soviet honour was retrieved – and Lazarev’s life spared.

    VMGIdq.jpg

    No other serious ground actions were fought for the rest of the campaign, which consisted of Finnish partisan brigades and HQs running without a fight as the Soviets progressively regained all occupied territory towards the end of the month, with occasional Soviet air support chiming in.

    qwvRWe.jpg

    Finnish Operations – December 1945.

    EvTyTp.jpg

    A summary of battles (above) and advances.

    ******

    4. Production and Logistics

    The ‘mixed’ 24 Tank Div was deployed in the West on 2 December, with a new NAV wing based in Riga.

    gyLwqb.jpg

    Another ‘mixed’ tank division was deployed in the West on 3 December. A new ‘heavy guards’ division began training the same day.

    C3ErYm.jpg

    On 8 December the forward air base at Tyndinskiy (supporting the Eastern Sector) had Level 4 facilities installed and the Level 5 expansion begun.

    The supply drain increased as the month went on, so that projects at the bottom of the queue had to be put on hold as the supply stockpile began to drain quickly. It had been stabilised by the end of the month.

    ZGZplS.jpg


    ******

    5. Research

    A long-awaited milestone was reached on 15 December, with strategic rocket research completed and attention now directed at turning theory into practice. It was expected work on the first operational flying bombs could begin in May 1946.

    dmj9AS.jpg

    Five breakthroughs came over a few days later in December, over just a three-day period. Significant among these was civil nuclear research progressing to the point that an actual nuclear bomb could be developed: the necessary research was commenced without delay. RADAR-guided missiles would improve Soviet hard and soft attack capability; submarine development continued to improve, as did training for the new STRAT bomber arm.

    W6ldXC.jpg


    ******

    6. Espionage

    The loss of a spy in Turkey on 10 December caused a change from 100% Communist Party support to a 50/50 split between that and counter-espionage. Another spy was lost there on 13 December and three would fall during the month.

    Similarly, on 19 December a spy was lost in Japan, so that mission was changed form 1/3 counter-espionage and 2/3 NU disruption to a 50/50 split.

    By the end of the month, a whopping 40 enemy spies ha been neutralised in the USSR or in the four foreign missions. Five Soviet agents had been lost but nine trained, so overall strength rose to 67 agents in the field or in reserve.

    In terms of political results, NU in Japan and Manchuria had been eroded again, but there was no change in Communist Party support in either Spain or Turkey.

    GHNOk6.jpg

    The Foreign Ministry believed the attitude of the two respective heads of state may be making headway even harder than it would normally have been: both were described (somewhat pejoratively) as ‘pig-headed isolationists’. They may have described themselves more as ‘independently-minded nationalists’, but these judgements are always subjective.

    rZXsno.jpg


    ******

    7. Theatre Summaries

    As noted above, fighting was subdued and advances limited in the Far East during the fierce winter, though the Northern Pocket had almost been eliminated. Total casualty rates, especially from Soviet air attacks, were down even further from the month before, though heavily in the Soviet’s favour.

    lMaPUb.jpg


    ******

    In Australia, the Allies were close to wrapping up the Japanese invasion there, where the enemy had just been ejected from Adelaide.

    HMotAw.jpg

    South East Asia appeared to show no changes in occupation at all. Malaya was quiet – the Allies seemingly still asleep at the wheel there, with Singapore and Kuala Lumpur still controlled by Japan.

    jHQ3IW.jpg

    However, it looked like the French had sent in a British Marine Division to take Guangzhou from the Japanese in Southern China. They were now advancing on Hong Kong – and had 12 Allied air wings in support from Guangzhou’s air field.

    WBcz2e.jpg

    The Americans had lost Johnston Island in the Pacific, but otherwise nothing of significance had changed there either.

    Given the amount of interest in Japanese naval strength after all these years of war [and given the overwhelming Soviet spy presence in Japan and presumed Allied reporting, I thought it fair enough for a brief tag to get general info], a Special Intelligence Estimate indicated Japan still had a good number of capital ships – especially aircraft carriers – operating under the Imperial Navy’s ensign.

    aUS2iq.jpg
     
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    Chapter 23 – January 1946

    AuthAAR’s Note: Welcome back to the front, dear readAARs! We continue the grim War in the Far East, with the snows of winter. And my current 'quick and dirty' presentation format to keep things going along, even if the update rate is slowed a little (noting this is one of four AARs I’ve got going on rotation).

    ******

    1. Eastern Sector

    As the new year of 1946 opens, winter continues to exert a firm grip. The latest Soviet attack on Ushumun, which began on 30 December, goes on, while a major new Soviet attack began on Chegdomyn on 1 January: it would prove to be one of the biggest battles of the campaign so far, with the air forces of both sides weighing in. For example, the poor weather in Chegdomyn lowers the effectiveness of the Soviet attack by an estimated -21.9%.

    Japanese air attacks - by at least six different TAC wings, some with escorts - on Soviet troops attacking Chegdomyn from Imeni Poliny Osipenko, Solnechny and Sofiysk on 2 and 3 January caused a total of 2,886 Soviet casualties, while strikes by the VVS on Chegdomyn itself killed 556 defenders from 1-3 January.

    juGQQZ.jpg

    With no effective Soviet fighter cover nearby, a brand new air base (one was being held ready) was built in Nikolayevsk na Amure. A base upgrade to level 2 facilities was started the next day, as hardly any repairs were yet possible in the bare-bones base.

    4NbAQo.jpg

    Five INT wings in two groups from Mutina were transferred, to start providing interception cover. Despite still being low on organisation after re-basing, they were soon in action to good effect, first over Imeni Poliny Osipenko.

    vYVejf.jpg

    The battle for Chegdomyn ended in Soviet victory on 3 January and (whether from the interceptions or the battle ending) the enemy bombing raids also ceased.

    On the morning of 5 January, the last of the northern pocket was eliminated in Susuman.

    PsooDN.jpg

    After skirmishes that saw Mordaga lost on 5 January but then regained the next day, the next major battle was a renewed Soviet attack on Ushumun from 8-12 January against newly arrived Japanese reinforcements, won again by the Soviets. Weather continued to hamper the attack (-20.3%) and slow down movement. This dose was repeated from 15-17 January, after which the Soviets finally occupied Ushumun on 28 January: then having to defend it against a Japanese counter-attack from 28-30 January.

    Early on 8 January, all the transports in Ulya were merged into the Red Banner Pacific Fleets, the 1st Marine Division was loaded up, and they all sailed south for the first Soviet amphibious operation of the war. Their destination was Okha in northern Sakhalin, opposite Nikolayevsk na Amure, which was now crucially able to offer air cover for the invasion fleet.

    Wec8Ay.jpg

    They were offshore by 1800hr the same evening, discovering no Japanese garrison in place. The 1st Marines would continue to operate under the direct (ie human) control of HQ Far Eastern Theatre.

    WWbcBV.jpg

    Okha was liberated early on 10 January, with the marines ordered to advance the length of the island, if possible – but the weather meant it would be slow progress. Interestingly, there had been no Japanese opposition on the ground, in the air or at sea. Having done its job, the fleet re-based to nearby Nikolayevsk na Amure.

    MTmqHi.jpg

    From 11 January onwards, the Japanese heavily bombed Soviet forces in the east and caused very heavy casualties, clearly using new bases that were now in range, while Soviet air support continued, but was more stretched.

    F5yRdP.jpg

    At first, VVS interception from the new forward air base would contest these raids and largely suppressed them until mid-month. But by 14 January, with little ability to rest and repair, the VVS’s ability to stop the raids had begun to falter. This would eventually lead to very high casualties, and enemy air support for some significant Japanese counter-attacks by the end of the month.

    Kw7Tp0.jpg

    A major action was fought to take De Kastri, on the Pacific coast from 18-24 January, ending in another Soviet victory, despite atrocious weather (-34.7% attack) and difficult terrain (-35% attack). Japanese air raids on Bogordskoye also attempted to disrupt the attack but were contested by nearby INT from Nikolayevsk na Amure, though many were still able to get through.

    Lz9s5d.jpg

    The Japanese launched a major attack on Solnechny, with heavy air support, on 21 January. The Soviets were forced to retreat on 26 January, after losing 3,587 men to air attacks, in addition to over 800 from ground combat. The VVS was unable to stop them, though Tyndinsky-based aircraft were still able to conduct ground support missions against the Japanese throughout this period.

    A concurrent large Japanese attack on Sofiysk was also going on around this time, lasting from 25 to 30 January, but this one was ultimately repulsed. However, another 2,664 men were lost there to Japanese air attacks. This time, the weather (-25.9% attack) was working against the enemy.

    The Japanese occupied Obluchye (after a previous victory there) on 25 January.

    ss9a2p.jpg

    But despite local supply problems, the Soviets counter-attacked soon after. The battle was fought and won between 26-29 January, with active VVS support (644 enemy killed in air raids).

    4beyB3.jpg

    Eastern Sector Operations – January 1946.

    The lion’s share of fighting on the ground, and all the combat in the air, had been fought in the Eastern Sector this month. A clear Soviet superiority in ground fighting had been balanced almost exactly by the new-found preponderance of Japanese air power, with total casualties on both sides almost exactly even. Despite this, the Soviets had still managed to push forward on balance, with Obluchye likely to be reclaimed in February, though the earlier gain of Chegdomyn was now under threat after a loss there late in the month.

    GxyOfy.jpg

    A summary of battles and advances.

    ******

    2. Central Sector

    Very little of note occurred in the Central Sector during January, with neither side willing or able to attack much. Mogucha was reoccupied on 1 January, after a successful Soviet attack there the month before. On the boundary with the Eastern Sector, a Japanese attack on Aksenovo Zilovskoye was beaten back from 1-3 January. It would be the only battle fought in the sector for the rest of the month.

    The main reason for this inaction, on the Soviet side at least, was clearly recurrent supply problems.

    O7THO5.jpg

    By the end of the month, there had been a wholesale pull-back from the front line, including the abandonment of Mildigun, despite it being an assigned objective of both 1st and 7th Armies.

    8nxUbY.jpg


    fUcb6K.jpg

    Central Sector Operations – January 1946.

    WQVcN0.jpg

    A summary of battles and advances.

    ******

    3. Western Sector

    The Western Sector at least had reasonable supply, though no VVS air missions were flown there for the month, probably due to issues of range and poor supply in Irkutsk. A limited series of offensive and defensive battles were prosecuted.

    An evenly contested battle for Ulaanbaatar was fought between 4-11 January and ended in a Soviet victory. It was liberated soon after Japanese resistance ended. The old Mongolian capital had been liberated – only a few months after their surrender had appeared imminent!

    qYI3If.jpg

    A few small battles were enough to see Sharangad secured by 14 January, after which a couple of more determined Japanese attempts to retake it were defeated (14-20 and 29-31 January).

    Of interest, the (AI-controlled) Archangelsk and Lwow Theatre HQs each transferred a group (four wings total) of CAS into the liberated air base in Ulaanbaatar early on 27 January. Though not sought by HQ Far East, they were accepted and allocated to 7th Army.

    wH0Vpz.jpg

    Western Sector Operations – January 1946.

    MFC8Ke.jpg

    A summary of battles and advances.

    ******

    4. Production and Logistics

    Level 3 radar station upgrades were completed in Kaunas, Lwow and Brzesc Litewski on 15 and 16 January, part of the growing radar network on the Western Front. Improvement of each to the next level was started immediately and given the highest production priority.

    As January drew to a close, the supply position across the Far Eastern Front remained poor, especially in the centre, but also now in places further east. [Question: apart from infrastructure, does anyone know if poor weather also affects supply distribution/throughput, noting it affects ordinary ground movement?]

    AA46BW.jpg

    By the end of the month, over 45% (180 IC) of industrial capacity was being devoted to supply production, just to keep the stockpile around its minimum preferred 30,000 benchmark.

    ******

    5. Research

    The first week of the new year saw advances in fighter ground crew training and navigation radars for medium sized aircraft. The VVS modernisation program continued with the new projects started on better TAC ground crew training and also NAV pilot training – the latter being the first such program in the Soviet Union.

    1GyLyT.jpg

    With a now massive pool of trained agents in reserve, on 13 January the KGB and GRU spy schools were mothballed, with the freed leadership effort split between starting a new research project (to improve small air search radars) and increased officer training.

    mHaTDa.jpg

    The next two projects completed boosted the submarine program: both engine and torpedo research was continued.

    wkZQSA.jpg

    And as January 1946 ended, Stalin was apprised of progress in three core and highly classified areas of strategic research. In mid-February – just a few weeks away – Soviet scientists were confident they would be able to start building the first nuclear device. Theoretical jet engine design was also due to advance at around the same time. And in another area of strategic warfare, the first flying bomb design should allow construction of this first level of unguided devices from early May 1946, paving the way for more advanced rocket engine research.

    ofHkHw.jpg


    ******

    6. Espionage

    With little undue attention on Soviet agents overseas and a large reserve of agents, on 24 January the effort in Spain (down to only one domestic agent after losing two to that point in January) was reset to 50% counter-espionage and 50% political influence, as the local Communist party had been losing ground. Other missions were left unchanged.

    By the end of the month, a 29 enemy spies had been neutralised in the USSR or in the four foreign missions (11 fewer than in December 1945). Only one Soviet agent had been lost (in Japan) but four trained up to 13 January, so overall strength rose to 70 Soviet agents in the field or in reserve.

    In terms of political results, NU in Japan and Manchuria had been eroded a little more. Communist Party support in Spain was down, but up a little in Turkey (where the political influence mission had been in operation all month).

    kwUTMJ.jpg


    ******

    7. Theatre Summaries

    As noted above, fighting was intense in the Eastern Sector of the Far East as the fierce winter was endured and the Northern Pocket had been eliminated. Total casualty rates were higher again, but especially from a massive increase in Japanese air attacks.

    7vopIa.jpg


    ******

    South East Asia was again largely static, though the US had secured Guam from Japanese occupation.

    caOWQg.jpg

    And the Allies had now completely occupied Hong Kong and the surrounding Japanese enclave in southern China.

    x1yUal.jpg

    Malaya had been treated with its usual neglect: a single US Marine division under British command seemed to be the only assigned force, doing ‘picket duty’ on Kuala Lumpur.

    1b6KNu.jpg

    The campaign in Australia had been successfully wrapped up, however [giving your humble authAAR a warm inner glow, at least ;)].

    sZajxs.jpg

    And in New Britain (an island province of New Guinea) a heavy build-up of HQs (!) and aircraft was spotted, though it seemed only a single airborne division was present and seemed to only have a Japanese theatre HQ in opposition.

    2bcBza.jpg
     
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    Chapter 24 – February 1946

    AuthAAR’s Note: In this month, the fighting for the Soviets remains grim, but the big developments come in the strategic space and in other theatres. Those external Allied operations are reported in the primary sector report for continuity and to give them context in timing compared to the Soviet campaign.

    ******

    1. Eastern Sector and Other Theatres

    The Japanese launched a major attack on Ushumun on 1 February with heavy air support (2,200 air raid casualties from 1-5 February), which were ended after a second interception by the VVS (the two wings operating as a group out of the forward ‘bare bones’ - Level 1 - new air base at Nikolayevsk na Amure) beat them back early on 6 February.

    U4kJWO.jpg

    The Japanese eventually won the battle for Ushumun on 10 February, after nine days of heavy fighting (1,001 Soviet and 2,191 Japanese ground casualties). But Ushumun was ultimately held after Soviet reinforcements appeared on 11 February and threw back the advancing Japanese after a brief skirmish.

    On Sakhalin, the advance of the 1st Marine Division was interrupted when they struck Japanese counterparts at Shisuka on 1 February. That battle would last five days, ending in an expensive defeat which, with 2,439 additional Soviet casualties from Japanese air strikes, left the Soviet marines exhausted. They ran as soon as the Japanese attacked them in Alexandrov Sakhalinsky the same day. Early on 7 February, it was decided they would need reinforcement, so 57. Motor Rifle Div was detached to Theatre command and sent to secure the port of Okha.

    TPPgEB.jpg

    Soviet forces advanced into De Kastri (after winning the battle for it the month before) on the Pacific coast on 4 February and would later use it as a springboard for other attacks.

    A few days afterwards, a significant Japanese attack on Solechny began on 6 February that was finally defeated on 10 February, again after another very heavy enemy air bombardment (3,133 air raid casualties over four days). This time, Soviet fighters tried to intervene again but, with repair facilities at their base severely limited (only one wing could be repaired at a time at that point), were unable to make much impact.

    tf5g9t.jpg

    It was observed that the winter weather no longer seemed to be hampering most attacks, for example in the Soviet attack on Alihe which began on 8 February and was won after a short fight. This time, Soviet air support was telling, with raids by the VVS (based in Tyndinskiy) from 2 to 8 February causing 2,137 enemy casualties.

    Another heavy Japanese attack with air support struck Chegdomyn on 9 February and lasted until the Japanese were victorious on 12 February, when they occupied the province. However, the Soviets counter-attacked immediately with their own air support (causing 928 enemy casualties), winning the fight on 14 February and ultimately retaking Chegdomyn on 27 February.

    The aggressive Japanese posture in the first part of the month continued with a counter-attack on Obluchye (10-13 February) as soon as the Soviets had occupied it after a previous victory. Soviet reinforcements would arrive twice more during the month, but those battles were also lost (20-22 and 24-25 February) with heavy Soviet ground casualties and continuing harassment from Japanese bombers. The enemy won and they retook the province on 27 February.

    The Soviets had attacking plans of their own, however. Exploiting their breakthrough into De Kastri, Komsomolsk na Amure was attacked on 10 February, with the enemy breaking on contact. There would be another brief skirmish on 20 February, but the Japanese ran after a short fight and the province was liberated the same day. This was followed by two Japanese counter-attacks and the heaviest enemy air attacks of the war so far (5,033 Soviet casualties from 21-25 February from the air raids alone). The first Japanese counter-attack was defeated on 23 February but another began the next day and was still raging by the end of the month.

    Further west, a Soviet attack on Kuibyshevka (15-16 February) ended in victory, despite interfering enemy air attacks. Enemy reinforcements arrived before the province was occupied, with a longer and harder fight ensuing from 21-24 February, again won by the Soviets. Once more, air casualties were higher than those on the ground, with both air forces involved: Soviet air raids caused 1,356 casualties, while the Japanese bombers killed 1,730 of the attacking Soviets. They were still advancing on the province as the month ended.

    It was on 17 February that major news was received from the Allies: it appeared they had made an amphibious landing in the Japanese home islands a few days before. They had taken the port of Susaki on the island of Shikoku and a mixed force of mainly British plus French and German divisions under French command was beginning to fan out, without encountering any Japanese resistance on the ground. However, the state of the French ships sheltering in Susaki showed they had come under fierce attack during the landing. The Allies now had 28 wings of various nationalities operating out of Susaki’s sizeable air base.

    7ZjRmg.jpg

    This dramatic intervention was met with mixed feeling in Moscow: if it diverted Japanese effort from the hard-fought Soviet front, all well and good. But if it meant France would now overrun Japan while the Soviets were forced to slug it out on the mainland, it could upset longer-term Soviet ambitions. By 21 February, the Allies had occupied almost all of Shikoku.

    Meanwhile, on 22 February the Soviet marines had limped back into Okha, while 57 MR Div was crossing over from Nikolayevsk na Amure: they would arrive on the morning of 24 February, a little more than a day before the Japanese moved up into Alexandrov Sakhalinsky.

    But far bigger events were again unfolding away from the Soviet battle front. At 5pm on 22 February, Nationalist China joined the Allies and declared war on Japan. And it seemed the Japanese had left the border virtually unguarded! Once more, others would benefit while the Soviets did the dirty work.

    UzCYpc.jpg

    By that time, the French reported they had fully secured Shikoku, already had a bridgehead on the southern island of Kyushu and were attempting a crossing of the straits over to the main island of Honshu! It was both exhilarating and frustrating all at once, as the the Soviets bled while the Allies waltzed seemingly unhindered through the Home Islands.

    kvUw2t.jpg

    The month ended with a new Soviet attack on Verkhnetambovskoye in an attempt to keep pushing along the coast. Fighting started on 27 February and continued as the 28th ended – once more with heavy Japanese bombing raids on the attackers, but no further interceptor cover.

    8hd58L.jpg

    A summary of battles and advances.

    eoj0wG.jpg

    Eastern Sector statistics: it had been a brutal month for the Soviets, especially in terms of casualties from Japanese bombers, which the limited reach of VVS fighters had found difficult to repel, though reasonable bombing support had been available to the ground troops.

    ******

    2. Central Sector

    As the month began, a major Soviet attack continued against Tahe, which was heavily held be the Japanese. Despite persistent Soviet air support, this would prove to be the first of five unsuccessful attacks on the province. The Soviet commanders could not be faulted for their persistence, while demonstrating zero imagination. To be expected of Stalin’s iron grip, really. Battles were fought and lost there on 29 Jan-1 February, then from the 4-6, 17-20, 22-24 and 26-28 February, all resulting in Soviet defeat despite a total of 5,090 enemy troops being killed in supporting air raids during the month. The Japanese bombers were nowhere to be seen – they clearly did not range this far west from their bases towards the Pacific coast.

    Elsewhere in the sector, local supply had improved just enough by 19 February to allow the Soviets to attack Olovyarmaya, where the battle was comfortably won by 25 February (63 Soviet v 348 Japanese killed). Unfortunately, supplies ran out again before the province could be occupied. A simultaneous Soviet advance on the undefended Goryachinsk also failed when their supplies ran out.

    The Japanese later took advantage of poor Soviet supply in Chita, winning an attack there (22-24 February) and causing heavy Soviet casualties (591 Soviet v 320 Japanese killed). Chita would be occupied by the enemy on 28 February, as would Shilka to an unopposed enemy advance (the Soviet defenders having earlier withdrawn, presumably because of a lack of supplies).

    tRxiRw.jpg

    A summary of battles and advances.

    aZF6ob.jpg

    Central Sector statistics: the repeated Soviet assaults on Tahe proved costly, though this was evened up by Soviet air power. The only battle won by the Soviets in the sector could not be followed up due to supply shortages, which also led to the Japanese making the only territorial gains for the month.

    ******

    3. Western Sector

    There was no action involving Soviet forces in the sector for the month. However, the Mongolians were able to push forward in the south. Not a single air mission was flown out of the major air base at Irkutsk during February.

    Wca01e.jpg

    A summary of battles (above) and advances.

    ******

    4. Production and Logistics

    Early in the month, the first of a series of infrastructure improvements leading to the front (ordered some months before) was completed – this led to the previously front line air base of Jakutsk and towards the Pacific coast.

    HByK3u.jpg

    Around this time, the supply situation varied across the front. Only the Pacific coast and Mongolia seemed to have good local supply – the rest varied from poor to dire.

    SKbtMX.jpg

    The same morning, a new wing of Tu-4 STRAT bombers was produced, but were for now kept back in Moscow to help alleviate supply throughput problems in the Far East.

    tnQtRj.jpg

    A day later, an improvement of the Trans-Siberian Railway between Irkutsk and Ulan Ude was completed.

    ZED7R5.jpg

    By the evening of 7 February, the supply situation in the Eastern Sector had begun to improve, but remained generally poor further to the west and in and around Irkutsk.

    Ru55io.jpg

    On 9 February, five new provincial infrastructure improvements were begun in provinces closer to the new front line and leading to the still busy airfield at Tyndinskiy.

    The next major project to be completed was an improvement to the main nuclear reactor at Mytishchi to Level 3: the next level was started but, due to the expense, Stalin asked his scientists [ie you, dear readAARs] what - if any - material benefit further improvements to the nuclear reactors would bring to nuclear bomb production once it began later in the month.

    lAN903.jpg
    The wikis and manual seem a bit fuzzy on this, other than saying they ‘add to your research benefit’ and ‘also your speed of production, the same way research knowledge always does’. My main question is whether its worth to keep improving this main reactor, as its still quite expensive – but if there is some tangible benefit to actual production speed, I’m happy to fork out (and have begun the next level on the assumption it is). The way things are going, I’ll need nukes if I ever want to challenge the Allies, who now have Nationalist China on their side and are running amok in Japan, who I’d hoped to conquer and puppet to bring them into the Comintern. As at 28 February, nuke theory is at 8.8 and practical 21.3, if that is at all relevant.
    The first new submarine flotilla (the 8th Flotilla) was completed on 17 February and deployed in the Pacific fleet base at Ulya. It is still only a Series II boat, although its engine and hull are one level above the original boats (eg 11th Flotilla). The other ‘variable’ characteristics will have to be upgraded in place, as these weren’t available when it was laid down as a device to get practical building expertise going.

    axcl6z.jpg

    At the same time, another powerful new tank division was deployed on the Polish border. It is of passing interest to note that an SS division is one of a number of German units currently serving under Polish command there and making up the bulk of their forces. Most ironic.

    BsJ8Ig.jpg

    The important air base at Tyndinskiy also continued to be expanded.

    xIjPsa.jpg

    As was that at Nikolayevsk na Amure, whose bare facilities were the main reason so little interceptor cover was available at the eastern end of the line. This should help a little once the latest upgrade was fully on line.

    4v0E2F.jpg


    ******

    5. Research

    From 6-14 February, three research projects matured, including pilot rescue, which would improve fighter crew resilience. Supply transportation was the first new research priority, given recent logistic problems. Trade interdiction doctrine was to be improved further for the future modernised submarine arm, while enough theory had been researched to allow actual jet engines to be pursued.

    5d31CL.jpg

    In the second half of the month, two more major advances were researched: nuclear bombs could now begin to be fabricated and that line of study would continue. Medical evacuation (using helicopters) would significantly improve the morale of all infantry-type units (though, as observed before, not for tank troops). Mass assault doctrine would further improve regular infantry morale.

    dXi5WD.jpg


    ******

    6. Espionage

    The number of enemy agents being apprehended rose sharply (to previous levels) in February, with a whopping five (all from different countries) being caught on 7 February alone. With a large surplus of spare agents and no new espionage missions proposed, spy training remained zeroed out for the month.

    By the end of the month, 36 enemy spies had been neutralised in the USSR or in the four foreign missions (seven more than in January). Six Soviet agents had been lost (three in Manchuria, one each in Japan, Turkey and Spain), so overall strength fell from 70 Soviet to 64 agents in the field or in reserve.

    In terms of political results, NU in Japan and Manchuria had again been eroded a little more. Communist Party support in Spain was down again [this mission looks to be a bit futile at the moment], but once more up a little in Turkey.

    bUsXiE.jpg


    ******

    7. Theatre Summaries

    As noted above, fighting was most intense in the Eastern Sector of the Far East but Japanese air power and continuing supply problems made it a difficult month, with little net gain of territory and heavy casualties suffered.

    C8IhuP.jpg


    ******

    In the new theatre of China, the Nationalists had already begun to make inroads against minimal resistance across a wide front in the first week of their all-out offensive.

    fx5rbr.jpg

    And the Allied invasion of the Japanese Home Islands was also encountering no resistance on the ground as yet.

    XJ7Mr5.jpg

    South East Asia and the Pacific were static, with no change in Malaya or Singapore.

    ******

    Endnote: These huge events in Japan and China may require a hasty reworking of Soviet operational plans, to try to prevent them making all the gains while we bleed out and crawl forward to the north. Serious thought will be given to detaching some more conventional units in the east, putting them on boats and launching our own speculative invasion of Honshu before the whole island is overrun by the French. It’s also looking more likely that the nukes, rockets and strategic bombers may be used against the Allies later than Japan soon, if the latter collapse rapidly from here (especially given I’ve been niggling away at their NU for a long time now).
     
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    Chapter 25 – March 1946
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    Chapter 25 – March 1946

    Foreword

    After a grinding month of winter warfare and supply problems in February 1946, the Soviets find themselves still slugging it out with Japan and its puppet regimes. Meanwhile, Nationalist China had joined the Allies and swept away light Japanese resistance, while a French-led invasion force raced through the undefended southern Japanese Home Islands.

    Time seemed to be running against Stalin, who raced to complete nuclear weapons, build strategic rockets and long range bombers, finish research on jet engine technology to make the Air Force competitve against its Allied counterparts and debvelop modern submarines for the outmoded Soviet Navy.

    A strike on Europe before these new weapons were operational and while still heavily engaged in the East seemed premature, even though the options there may be narrowing.

    ******

    1. General Operations: 1-17 March

    [
    Note: a map summarising the major battles and advances in the Far Eastern Theatre is included at the end of Section 3 below.]

    As March began, the Soviets decided they would respond to the Allied invasion of Japan by trying a smaller one of their own: hastily arranged and somewhat desperate, given it would have to be staged without any air cover. A mixture of reasonably battle-worthy divisions of about corps strength in the vicinity of Nikolayevsk na Amure began to assemble there for eventual embarkation. The diversion would detract from the offensive capacity in the eastern-most sector, but the risk would be taken. The remainder of the invasion plan – Operation Narwhal – is summarised in Section 2.

    Soviet supply remained problematic over large parts of the front. Where it was good, in the east and in southern Mongolia, there was significant action. There was virtually none in the centre, where it was generally mediocre. But south of Irkutsk and east of Lake Baikal it remained very bad. This would be reflected in the ebb and flow and land combat operations as the month unfolded.

    jCHnEJ.jpg

    A Soviet attack on Verkhnetambovskoye that had begun on 27 February finally failed on 4 March: casualties were likely heavy on both sides, but no battle report was received. Elsewhere, the Soviets began three new attacks on 1 March. A probe on Obluchye was soon abandoned (though 822 Japanese were killed in supporting air strikes that day), while yet another Soviet attack on Tahe was soon abandoned after disproportionate ground casualties (507 Soviet v 47 Japanese ground and 718 air strike casualties).

    The Japanese had taken Mildigun unopposed and then Komsomolsk na Amure on 1 Mar after a successful attack there the month before. The Soviets quickly counter-attacked the latter, winning by 3 March (Soviet 810 v 557 Japanese ground and 801 air strike casualties) despite Japanese air strikes on the attackers in Di Kastri (1,138 Soviets killed over two days) and Solechny (601 more on 3 March), retaking it by the 12th.

    The Soviets next attacked and won in Alihe from 3-5 March (577 Soviet, 443 Japanese ground and 1,139 air casualties).

    A review of war goals against Japan that evening showed both France [from my previous stewardship] and the Soviet Union sought to puppet Japan and install their own form of government there. Just as a hedge, the Soviets added a territorial claim on Sakhalin to their list of goals.

    In Mongolia, a combined Soviet-Mongolian attack was launched and won on Sain Tsagan on 4 March (121 Soviet, 89 Japanese casualties) and the province was liberated on 11 March.

    Chegdomyn saw the start of one of many battles for it during March, when the Japanese attacked from 4 March until defeated on the 7th. The Soviets lost 1,210 ground casualties and another 2,605 to supporting Japanese air strikes. The Japanese also paid a heavy price, losing 1,632 to ground combat and 2,555 more to Soviet air strikes on troops attacking from Tyrma and Suluk.

    In one of the occasional air battles of the month, two Soviet INT wings hit two unescorted Japanese TAC wings over Mordaga on their way to a bombing mission on the morning of 4 March, managing to inflict more damage than they received. And early reports from China indicated they were now advancing more rapidly than the French were in Japan.

    As the bitter defensive fight in Chegdomyn continued, the Soviets made their own major assault on Obluchye from 5-8 March, eventually winning – though it would take until 27 March to occupy it. Soviet ground casualties were 743, while the Japanese lost 859 on the ground and another 1,132 from Soviet air strikes. The VVS was definitely back in force in March, with many missions flown from Tyndinskiy and the smaller forward eastern air base at Nikolayevsk na Amure. Japanese air power was still present and devastating at times, but more sporadic than the Soviet effort.

    The chronic supply problems around Irkutsk led to Ulan Ude being abandoned without a fight to the Japanese on 7 March. Over in Finland, there were no new rebellions, but reports were being received of underground resistance brewing again.

    341lfx.jpg

    The Soviets launched yet another attack on Tahe on 8 March, but it ended in defeat two days later. Four Soviet divisions had taken on a similar number of well entrenched Japanese and allied troops (a bit over 30,000 on each side) and once more they were unable to break into Manchurian territory for the first time. Soviet casualties were 1,336, the Japanese losing 789, plus 1,534 to the VVS.

    The Soviet supply situation had if anything worsened by the evening of 9 March. Production and the stockpile were not the problems: it was all about distribution, and recent and continuing infrastructure and technology improvements seemed to be doing little to alleviate it.

    uPwLWD.jpg

    The Japanese renewed their attack on Chegdomyn on 9 March, finally being repulsed again on 11 March. The Soviets lost 826 men on the ground and a massive 3,650 from Japanese air attacks. The Japanese had 1,174 killed on the ground and 1,245 from VVS action in Tyrma. The province was becoming a mass grave for both sides.

    After being quiet for some time, on Sakhalin the Japanese tried to retake Okha, their attack taking from 9-14 March to finally be defeated – for once there was no air support on either side. The Soviets lost 471 to 1,210 Japanese marines killed. Soviet fighters tried to stop the enemy bombers twice during 11 March, but this time came off second best to the enemy bombers and escorts (2 x Soviet INT v 2 x Japanese M/R and 4 x TAC).

    The supply shortages were now having a direct impact now on some operations in the eastern sector – for example in Ushumun [ie. -50% on combat for lack of supplies], where what should have been an easy defence was being made difficult. The Japanese attacked on 10 March and pulled back on 12 March, the Soviets losing 587 men in the defence. The Japanese took 672 casualties in the assault, with the VVS probably saving the day by inflicting another 1,106 casualties on the enemy attacking from Kuibyshevka. But the Japanese would be back.

    A quick Soviet attack on weakened Japanese defences in Elban on 13 March succeeded the next day. Soviet casualties were 291, the Japanese having 297 killed on the ground and 263 more from the air. The Soviets would push on to take the Elban salient by 19 March, after having to execute two more quick attacks on the way over 16-18 March. But their hold on it would be tested after arrival.

    By early on 14 March, the supply situation had worsened further, with only the two ends of the front – southern Mongolia and the Pacific coast – with decent supply. In most other places it was dire.

    zIbiu6.jpg

    That evening, the objectives for all four armies in the 1st and 2nd Soviet Far Eastern Fronts were reviewed, with old or unneeded objectives discarded and some new ones added.

    Ratnikov’s 15th Army, the largest with 195,000 men, was given the tough inland route to Khabarovsk and Harbin.

    yQgMlz.jpg

    The smaller 6th Army, under Shestopalov, was assigned the coastal route, all the way down to Vladivostok.

    zcoBsC.jpg

    The main command in the 2nd FE Front was Rybak’s 7th Army (175,000 men), which – due to the problems caused by lack of supplies south of Irkutsk – was ordered to hold its approaches and ensure Ulaanbaatar was held.

    yWSXe8.jpg

    Finally, Cherniakhovskij’s smaller 1st Army (102,000 troops), had the ‘aspirational’ objectives of retaking Mildigun and exploiting beyond it into Manchuria. Either a Japanese collapse or radically improved Soviet logistics would be needed before either of these would be realistic.

    O6SDgb.jpg

    Allied progress in Japan had slowed down, with only modest gains so far in the first two weeks of March.

    hKq2OI.jpg

    The Japanese were attacking Ushumun again by 15 March and this time, with the defenders still out of supply, the Soviets would be forced to retreat by the 17th, despite very heavy air support from the VVS. As well as launching air raids on the attackers, the VVS had acted decisively to halt Japanese air attacks on Ushumun in the afternoon and evening of 15 March.

    Sz2jbK.jpg

    But this was not enough to outweigh the weariness and supply shortages on the ground this time. The Soviets lost 757 men to ground fighting and 240 from air attacks, while the Japanese lost 301 in the ground fighting and a whopping 2,370 to air strikes on Kuibyshevka.

    ******

    2. Operation Narwhal

    The divisions summoned to Nikolayevsk na Amure on 28 February were still assembling, the Red Banner Pacific Fleet (RBPF - 24 vessels including transports) made the short hop over to Okha to pick up the largely recovered 1st Marine Division at 1400hr on 1 March (quicker than the strait-crossing). They were back without incident by by 0400hr the next morning.

    It took until 18 March for the new scratch corps to be assembled: HQ 14th Mech Corps would command 101. SD, 1 ‘Moskovskaya Proletar.’ Div, 35 ‘Sibirskaya’ SD and 1st Marine Div [37,983 troops with a carry weight of 210 against a 360 transport capacity]. They were loaded aboard at 1900hr while possible targets for the hastily contrived Operation Narwhal were considered. It was hoped a port could be seized directly for rapid post-invasion supply and exploitation.

    TB2Vov.jpg

    Sapporo was the ‘safest’ option. The drawbacks included being furthest away from Japan’s key centres and the lack of an airfield for forward VVS basing.

    On the northern part of the main island of Honshu, Akita was another possibility. If defended, its mountainous terrain might prove a difficult obstacle and the territory between it and the key centres in the south was either hills or mountains. It did at least have an airfield.

    The most dangerous option – but the one that might provide the quickest rewards – was Kanazawa. It too had an air base and was much closer to the key centres in the south, including Tokyo.

    A final decision was not made yet: if the fleet had not been interdicted – by sea or air – when it reached the Tsugaru Strait, the call would be made then. The RBPF set sail to an unknown fate. LTGEN Parkhomenko’s HQ 14 Mech Corps was assigned to direct [human] control of the Far East Theatre HQ.

    bm0VpR.jpg

    Admiral Kuznetsov had pushed on to Okushiri Strait without enemy interference by the morning of 20 March, 1946. When he signalled for instructions, the codeword response was “Enter the Lion’s Den”: it meant the fleet would strike for Kanazawa in the hope of delivering a coup de main to the Japanese.

    37fqx3.jpg

    The Soviets hoped desperately that a long naval war and recent Allied operations had crippled the Imperial Japanese Fleet sufficiently for the rusty old RBPF to hold long enough to get the troops ashore. Land-based enemy bombers were of equal concern.

    The RBPF arrived at 0200 on the morning of 21 March and began unloading all four divisions in stormy weather. But they were soon discovered and came under attack from a couple of dive-bomber (CAS) wings at 0400hr. If that was all the Japanese could muster, perhaps the fleets AA defences would be enough after all ...

    ... but a seaplane scouting mission soon revealed a fleet of six enemy ships at port in Kanazawa. Though again, such a small fleet wasn’t necessarily a huge problem – depending on its composition. An hour later, that composition could be more accurately appraised.

    LrtLLn.jpg

    It must have included three fleet carriers, as six CAGs joined the naval strike on RBPF by 0500hr! This changed the whole complexion of the operation immediately: they had walked straight into a trap.

    By 0700hr the Japanese naval strike was over. While not yet critical, the damage would soon begin to mount if Kuznetzov tried to ‘tough it out’, his old ships sitting ducks in Toyama Bay for the Japanese aviators. He immediately recalled the troops and ordered the fleet to escape north at top speed.

    NzZ9Si.jpg

    The fleet was struck again by the eight enemy wings at 1000hr and this time, the cumulative damage (mainly organisational, but some structural) was serious, especially among the transports. They kept fleeing north – for their lives. Had they stayed, most of the fleet might have been sunk and the landing force lost.

    They had arrived at the rally point – back at Okushiri Strait – by 1900hr on the evening of the 21st. But instead of heading back to port, the order was received to “Kick in the door”. They would instead head west to Uchiura Bay and see if they could land the marines (at least) straight into the port of Sapporo, hoping they might be out of enemy air range and be able to sneak in before they were intercepted.

    Kuznetsov was in place by 0500hr on the morning of the 22nd, and this time just MAJGEN M.P. Vorobiev’s marines would attempt the hazardous landing. He needed 35 hours to get his division fully ashore – and hope there was no Japanese garrison in place. The key question was: could the RBPF hold off any potential opposition for that long?

    mCWm2R.jpg

    It took longer this time, but by midday the fleet had been discovered and struck by an unknown number and type of enemy wings [didn’t get a report until it was over]. More damage was done, but Kuznetzov held his position. Another strike hit them between 1700 and 1900hr that evening: and this time the same six CAG wings as seen in Toyama Bay were identified, with yet more damage being done but no ships sunk. This must mean the carriers were approaching: but still Kuznetsov held on while the brave marines struggled ashore.

    Then all hell broke loose at 0200 the next morning, 23 March. The RBPF was simultaneously hit by the CAGs and the Japanese carrier task force, with the three fleet carriers Ryujo, Soryu and Kaga sitting back and the battleship Yamashiro closing to within firing range.

    RVCrfI.jpg

    The CAG strike ended at 0500hr, but the surface action continued. Much of the RBPF, including the flagship Parizhskaya Kommuna, were damaged and badly disorganised by then – but the Soviet light and heavy cruisers had closed with the Yamashiro and by 0700hr had very nearly sent it to the bottom, the Krasni Kavkaz yet unscathed and leading the sortie.

    unvl5J.jpg

    But at 0800hr the enemy CAGs returned and Soviet morale cracked, the RBPF fleeing west with heavy damage and one destroyer flotilla sunk. But until they actually left the bay, the marines were [I discovered, to my surprise] still trying to land and were coming tantalisingly close to getting ashore.

    lHEVpT.jpg

    The latest CAG strike ended at 1100hr, with more damage done but no more ships sunk. The marines were very nearly ashore: could they do it before the fleet left the bay?

    The answer was no – by just three hours! The marines were forced to abandon the attempt as the RBPF left Uchiura Bay. So close – but no cigar!

    p015P2.jpg

    Now fearing further pursuit of his heavily damaged fleet, Kuznetsov set a course around to the east of Sakhalin for the long return voyage.

    gZXJPv.jpg

    As it happened, they made it back on the morning of 25 March with no further encounters. Back in port, the full damage to the fleet was assessed: it was a minor miracle more ships had not been lost.

    hEkBo0.jpg

    It had been a painful but still valuable and not a catastrophic failure. As the Soviets absorbed the lessons learned, it was very clear any further landing without are cover would be a highly hazardous affair.

    ******

    3. General Operations: 18-31 March

    A combined attack by Soviet and Mongolian forces on Khara Arak was won on 18 March (84 Soviet, 139 Japanese killed) and the province would be occupied by the Mongolians before the end of the month. However, the main action continued to be in eastern sector.

    A major Soviet attack was launched on Tyrma on 19 March, which was won after a four day battle. Soviet casualties were 767, while the Japanese lost 631 on the ground, but another 2,158 from concerted VVS air support. The Japanese bombers were in a battlefield lull, not striking any targets between 16-25 March.

    On 19 March, the Soviets had launched another large assault on Tahe, which they had been trying to take for weeks now. This battle would go for six gruelling days, but at last the Soviets had their victory on 25 March, losing 1,901 men to 1,866 Japanese defenders, plus another 2,127 to Soviet air strikes, which ran from 19-21 and on 23 March.

    Also, late on the 19th, the Japanese attacked Ushumun once again, but were soon defeated (20 Soviet, 113 Japanese casualties, plus 1,143 to spoiling Soviet air strikes on Huma). A more determined attack went in from 21-22 March, but was again beaten off (96 Soviet and 371 Japanese casualties, plus 901 from VVS strikes on the attackers in Alihe). Air support was proving crucial in defeating the Japanese in the attack or defence and generally caused heavier casualties than the ground actions.

    While these battles were in progress, the French sent word they had captured the key [5 VP] city of Nagasaki on the evening or 20 March. The Soviets occupied Tumnin on the Pacific coast the same day, but the Japanese retook Chegdomyn on the 21st.

    Even as the battle for Tahe had not yet finished, the resilient Japanese made their biggest attack yet on Ushumun on 23 March. Even though the VVS struck the attackers hard once more in Alihe (1,932 enemy killed from 23-26 March) and Huma (1,331 on 26 March alone), this time the Japanese were too strong for the weary defenders, winning the battle on 26 March (887 Soviet, 987 Japanese killed). The enemy would eventually retake Ushumun on 31 March.

    Showing the ebb and flow of operations in the east, on 23 March the Soviets initiated a counter-attack on the recently lost Chegdomyn, eventually winning the two day fight by 25 March against an enemy that had not yet been able to consolidate their positions. Ground casualties were 328 for the Soviets and 453 for the Japanese, but once more the VVS killed the most enemy – 1,637 in just two days of air strikes. The Soviets took Chegdomyn back the next day.

    Early on 25 March, the Soviet supply situation was good in the east and in southern Mongolia, poor in the centre and around Itkutsk and terrible east of Lake Baikal, which remained inactive despite a noticeable thinning of the Japanese line there, which was becoming patchier in most places across the whole front.

    p5ChA3.jpg

    The Soviet Pacific submarine fleet, now repaired, was relocated back from Ulya to Petropavlovsk Kamcackij from 0500hr on 25 March, reaching their new base at midnight on 28 March. They would not be sent on active operations yet, but were now ready again to do so if needed.

    Yet again, the Japanese showed far more fight in this sector than they appeared to be in China or on their own Home Islands. Between 25-27 March, they made a major attack on the Elban salient that the Soviets had taken earlier in the month. The Japanese prevailed, with 672 ground casualties for the Soviets, plus 2,906 from the Japanese bombers, who reappeared with devastating effect over the three days of the battle. The Japanese lost 555 on the ground and 407 to strikes on Verkhnetambovskoye on 26 March, but it was not enough to save the Soviet defenders. The Soviets retreated, but the Japanese had not yet reoccupied the province as the month ended.

    The Japanese took advantage of poor Soviet supply in the western sector by attacking Slyudyanka on 26 March, winning the next day [Soviet out of supply penalty] in a battle the Soviets should have won (71 Soviet, 202 Japanese killed). Once more, there was no Soviet air support available, as the wings were all a zero organisation due to prolonged supply shortages.

    The Soviets occupied Tyrma on 27 March after their victory earlier in the month. The French took Kagoshima [5 VP] on the 28th. And on the 29th, the Soviet 14th Mech Corps, freed for now of their temporary amphibious role, was assigned as an independent [AI] force under Theatre control, to reinforce the offensive along the Pacific coast.

    F59HYD.jpg

    The final battle of March 1946 followed the Soviet occupation of Tahe, further west in northern Manchuria, on the 30th. In the end one tired Soviet advance division in hasty defensive positions was attacked from Huma and Mangui by six enemy divisions. Soviet air strikes did kill 1,033 attackers in Mangui and 1,335 in Huma, but could not prevent the enemy victory. No report on ground casualties was received.

    The Japanese occupied Slyudyanka on 30 March – directly threatening the key regional city of Irkutsk. At that point, it was only occupied by three Soviet HQs, with the defeated division from Slyudyanka due in shortly. 1st and 7th Armies were both assigned Irkutsk as an ‘emergency’ defensive objective at 2300hr that night. Most other nearby divisions were out of supply and/or heading away from Irkutsk.

    M3c9mB.jpg

    The 6th Heavy Armoured Division arrived from Slyudyanka at 0200hr, low on organisation and supplies, though with plenty of fuel. It was hoped they would hold in Irkutsk and perhaps be able to resupply, though this was in doubt.

    BtvSD9.jpg

    And so another hard month for the Soviets on the battlefront ended with some gains (though some of the gains would likely to be rolled back soon in Tahe and Elban) and some lost ground too. The Japanese were still fighting hard.

    tfcZve.jpg

    Ground casualties had been roughly even for the month, but the VVS was back in force in the eastern part of the front at least, taking an enormous toll and Japanese ground forces.

    ******

    4. Production and Infrastructure

    On 4 March, new infrastructure upgrades were completed in ten provinces across the Far Eastern AO. As the month wore on, any improvement in supply distribution seemed to be marginal, if hard to determine. No new projects were commissioned immediately, as the production queue had a significant deficit at that time.

    On 8 March, a new DD flotilla entered service. Because it had to work up, it was (luckily for the crews) not yet ready when the RBPF deployed on the fraught Operation Narwhal. This flotilla was still Kiev Class, but somewhat improved on the existing Kiev class ships in 3. Flotiliya, for example.

    VL9P0Z.jpg

    By mid-March, supply production requirements could be decreased, with the stockpile now regularly maxed out. Upgrade costs regularly took 80-100+ IC of the around 394 usually available. Supply production would usually need between 95-110 IC, with the production queue running around 175 IC. The rest went to reinforcements and consumer goods.

    Earlier in the month, when attention turned to amphibious operations, 2.36 IC had been spent on a new deployable air base, which was placed at the top of the queue and would be ready by 22 April. Not for the current operations, but maybe in the future if lodging into a beachhead without its own airfield.

    On 25 March, two new infrastructure developments were ordered in the area east of Lake Baikal – the current supply ‘dead zone’. But care had to be taken they were not built in areas the enemy might reoccupy.

    ******

    5. Research

    It was a good month for technology advances, with six completed. Two were made in each of the three arms – radars for the VVS, submarine improvements for the Navy and for the Red Army, upgrades for the specialist arms and medium tanks. The replacement projects were Air Force heavy, with one each for the submariners and the slower general upgrade of the medium tanks.

    i1T8Cu.jpg


    ******

    6. Espionage

    The Soviets had run down its reserve of spy teams for the month as the freed leadership effort went into officer training. Three Soviet spies each were lost in Manchuria and Turkey, 30 foreign spies apprehended (one by the Soviet mission in Spain). Japanese and Manchurian NU had both been whittled down a little further, but the political missions in Turkey and Spain had proven very disappointing – both had gone backwards, in Spain by a very large margin. Local agent numbers had built up again in Japan and Turkey – mission adjustments would have to be considered again.

    WdKaSU.jpg

    The poor results in Turkey and Spain caused the NKVD to make a deeper dive into what was going on there. In Turkey, the PCP’s popularity was at about the same level as its political organisation – and the Soviet effort had not been effective in raising either. [Also, for TT readers, their Cabinet is currently pretty similar to mine in that AAR.]

    rNePNS.jpg

    In Republican Spain, the problem was that other powers (possibly also Spain itself) were making a massive clandestine investment in boosting the organisation of the ruling CDA, far out-gunning the Soviet efforts in favour of the PCE. Both Turkey and Spain looked like forlorn causes at this stage, though a play might be made to go all out in Spain to see if had any effect at all – more out of academic interest.

    ******

    7. Other Theatres

    In Japan, the Allies had now wrapped up the two southern Home Islands of Shikoku and Kyushu. Japan still didn’t seem to be offering any real opposition. Cross-straits landings in the south of Honshu should be the next logical move for the French-less Allied invaders.

    AWK4rC.jpg

    Nationalist China was well on the way to liberating its Japanese-occupied territories. There was some apparent sporadic Japanese resistance, but it seemed to be doing little to slow them down. There was not yet any evidence of reinforcements having been shifted south from the Soviet front, as had been hoped by STAVKA.

    7q2Qun.jpg

    The Japanese occupation around Rabaul in New Guinea had been cleared of the enemy, who now just controlled an enclave around Lae.

    Cvxhje.jpg

    And as usual, the Allies had continued their hopeless management in Malaya, with Kuala Lumpur and Singapore still in Japanese hands.

    qFGYOA.jpg


    ******

    With slow progress (if any) on the Far Eastern Front, the first Soviet nuclear weapon just 10% finished and things not yet ready in STAVKA’s view for a European foray, there was also the quandary about what to do (if anything could be) about the Allied progress in Japan itself and by their new Chinese ally.
     
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    Chapter 26 – April 1946
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    Chapter 26 – April 1946

    Foreword

    The Far East has become a race between the Allied (Nationalist China and the French-led invasion of the Home Islands) and Soviet advances to gain as much territory as possible, before what now looks like an inevitable defeat (to re-coin a phrase) for Imperial Japan. And so far, the Japanese defence-in-place against the Soviets seems to be far heavier and more resilient than the token forces that are as yet facing the Allies.

    Meanwhile, the ‘secret race’ for Stalin’s super weapons continues, though it is a long and slow process. And the General Secretary remains obsessed with forcing a landing somewhere in Japan, despite the desperate and almost catastrophic failure of the last attempts on both Honshu and then Sapporo in March.

    Note: the chapter is a bit longer than usual for this AAR for reasons that will become obvious when you read on! ;)

    ******

    1. Eastern Sector

    [Note: Naval operations for April are covered in a separate section.]

    The Soviets had won a major battle for Verkhnetambovskoye, started on 31 March, by 2 April (544 Soviet, 746 Japanese killed in the ground battle, with 2,249 Soviets and 590 Japanese troops killed in related air strikes). The Soviets would occupy it on 10 April.

    A Japanese attack on Tyrma succeeded between 6-8 April, with a lack of supplies plaguing the defenders, but no ground battle report was available (1,042 Soviet air raid casualties). The Japanese would occupy Tyrma by 15 April, but then be struck by a quick Soviet attack on 15-16 April, which was brushed off despite heavy VVS air support. A larger Soviet attack from 25-28 April would succeed (592 Soviet, 570 Japanese ground casualties, 1,597 Japanese killed in air raids). The Japanese retreated but the province had not yet been reoccupied as the month ended.

    The fighting in Tyrma was matched overhead, with two air battles occurring in daylight on 6 April above Tyrma itself and in Urgal, with one side and then the other intercepting raids. Both battles left the Soviets with heavier damage than their Japanese counterparts.

    y3nCHb.jpg

    That night, three more Japanese raids were intercepted from 1700hr on the 6th to 0600hr on the 7th, but the enemy bombers got through on each occasion, taking some damage but leaving the Soviet fighters disorganised.

    giKsUr.jpg

    On 9 April, the 1st Marine Div was cut away from 14 Mech Div (which had conducted the amphibious landing attempts in March then been sent back to the front line) and was sent back north by rail to Nikolayevsk na Amure: a new and more specialised Marine Corps was to be raised and readied for future maritime operations. Another marine formation (1. Diviziya Morskoi Pekhoty) was by then also approaching the port in its long journey from Irkutsk.

    Chinese progress still seemed unchecked by 12 April, giving increased urgency to Stalin’s demands for a new amphibious attempt. By then, the [AI] 6th Army had relocated two air wings to the small forward air base taken at Tumnin, on the Pacific coast. A TPT wing was added by Theatre [human] HQ on 14 April and the Parachute Division (3 x PARA brigades) was sent south from Nikolayevsk na Amure to join up with them.

    Another Soviet success came in Elban, which the Japanese had retaken on 12 April after winning a battle for it in late March. The Soviet counter-attack came between 13-15 April, with a Soviet victory without VVS air support (625 Soviet ground casualties plus 2,338 from air strikes on Verkhnetambovskoye; 1,039 Japanese ground casualties). Elban was regained by the Soviets on 27 April.

    Japanese-held Suluk was another contested province during April, with unsuccessful Soviet attacks launched on 16 April (a probe) and 19-20 April (337 Soviet, 398 Japanese casualties) until a clear victory was won at the end of the month (27-29 April), with 131 Soviet and 642 Japanese casualties. The Soviets were still advancing on Suluk as the month ended.

    The other province to change hands in the east was Vysokogorny, on the Pacific coast, occupied by the Soviets without opposition on 20 April. The Japanese launched a serious but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to retake it from 22-26 April, with fierce air support (503 Soviet ground and 3,223 air raid casualties, 892 Japanese ground casualties).

    Between 25-30 April, the Japanese attacked Okha once more in the largest ground battle in the Eastern Sector for the month. This attack [-59% enemy progress as it started] led to HQ 6th Army being given Okha as a defensive objective, with Vladivostok removed for the time being.

    VMU0X1.jpg

    After a brief intervention by Japanese CAGs (more on that in the Maritime Operations section), the attack was heavily repulsed (552 Soviet, 1,559 Japanese ground casualties, 78 Soviets lost to Japanese CAG ground strikes). The Soviets began a counter-attack on Alexandrov Sakhalinsky immediately afterwards with fresh troops, which would continue into May.

    A large Soviet attack began on Orlovka on 27 April and it also carried over into May 1946. By the end of the month, Japanese defensive air strikes on Soviet divisions attacking from Elban and Verkhnetambovskoye had already killed around 4,150 troops.

    LyPFNt.jpg

    A summary of battles and advance in the Eastern Sector, April 1946. Japanese air raids were significantly more destructive in the sector, nearer to their air bases, with occasional dogfights occurring as well, while the Japanese took far heavier casualties in ground fighting – at least where the results were known.

    ******

    2. Central Sector

    Ground fighting in the Central Sector was less intense than in the East, but the VVS was very active in supporting the ground troops in this sector, the Japanese air wings less so, with no dogfights recorded during the month. Also, some significant gaps in the Japanese line began to form in places, leading to some provinces being occupied by the Soviets without a fight. But on the other hand, supply problems for the Soviets hampered their ability to exploit and in some cases led to provinces being abandoned to Japanese occupation after little or nor resistance.

    One of the four larger battles in the Centre during April was an early victory for the Soviets in Shilka over 1-2 April, leading to its occupation by mid-month (358 Soviet and 958 Japanese ground casualties).

    Mangui was attacked by the Soviets for the first time on 2 April, but that attempt was soon defeated. A more serious attack succeeded between 10-13 April (no ground report, but 2,739 Japanese defenders were killed in air strikes). But the Japanese kept managing to put reinforcements in to prevent Soviet occupation. One such group was beaten on 16-17 April (14 Soviet, 227 Japanese ground and 402 air casualties), but in the fourth battle there for the month, there was no VVS support provided and the fight was won by the Japanese defenders (1,686 Soviet v 1,284 Japanese killed) in the largest ground battle for the month across the entire Soviet Far East theatre.

    Tahe had been reoccupied by the Japanese on 5 April after a victory there in March. Three Soviet probes, each with heavy air support, were easily brushed off the Japanese. Ground casualties were minimal on both sides, but the VVS inflicted around 4,250 killed on the Japanese in supporting strikes from 5-11 April.

    Urusha was lost after the Soviet defenders offered no resistance to a Japanese attack on 7 April, due to being out of supply. Although the Japanese took it on 15 April, they had retreated back south by the end of the month, leaving it unoccupied but still in Japanese hands.

    A Japanese attack on Skovorodino from 8-11 April ended in a Soviet defeat (630 Soviet, 652 Japanese killed), leading to it being occupied on 15 April. But a Soviet division was already moving to retake it, dislodging the Japanese after a short skirmish and taking it back the very same day.

    The first short Soviet attack on Alihe from 13-14 April failed, though over 900 Japanese were killed by VVS air strikes. The next attempt succeeded, though there was no ground battle report for the three day fight between 16-19 April. While VVS support was crucial, with 1,853 enemy killed in air strikes, the Japanese killed over 1,000 of the attackers in Mordaga over the same period. Alihe was finally taken by Soviet troops on 28 April.

    The Soviets managed to secure an unoccupied Ushumun on 20 April, but were counter-attacked by the Japanese three days later, losing the gruelling five day battle on 28 April despite heavy VVS defensive air strikes (1,127 Soviet and 895 Japanese ground casualties, with another 3,524 Japanese attackers killed by air strikes on Tahe). Ust’ Karsk was retaken by the Soviets without a fight around the same time.

    fzdq8R.jpg

    A summary of battles and advance in the Central Sector, April 1946. The balance of air strikes was reversed in this sector, where Soviet air power was stronger. But despite this, while the Soviets did most of the attacking, the Japanese won two thirds of the battles (large and small), in part due to Soviet supply shortfalls.

    ******

    3. Western Sector

    The Western Sector was quite active in April, with one large battle but many others recording few or even no casualties, where Soviet defenders were already completely disorganised when attacked due to long term lack of supply in the northern portion of the sector. Conversely, in quite a few cases the Japanese had vacated provinces in advance of Soviet or Mongolian attacks, perhaps having been called back east to counter the rampant Chinese offensive approaching southern Manchuria.

    East of Lake Baikal, a battle for Telemba went from 2-9 April, but no combat report was available. The Soviets eventually retreated after their supplies ran out. In Barguzin (5-6 April) and Burjatija (9 and 17 April) Soviet defenders withdrew on first contact due to lack of supply, with no casualties on either side. All three had been occupied by the Japanese by the end of the month.

    In response to the terrible supply situation and Japanese advances east of Lake Baikal, 1st Army was put on a defensive stance from 17 April. With Bukacaca now under threat, the next day Tamsong Bulak was withdrawn as a depth offensive objective and Irkutsk (now less threatened) removed as a defensive objective, replaced with orders for the defence of Bukacaca.

    yvqeoH.jpg

    South of Irkutsk, the Soviets were beginning to recover momentum, with Slyudyanka abandoned by the Japanese and the Soviets advancing on it by 6 April, retaking it on 25 April without a fight.

    Even though the Japanese won the largest battle in the sector for the month in an attack on Khantai (9-14 April, 1,243 Soviet and 939 Japanese troops killed), they did not follow it up and in fact had vacated Selenga Burin, Ulan Ude and Altan Bulak by the end of the month, either without fights or against Mongolian attacks for which there were no reports.

    As the month drew to a close, a Comintern attack on Khentel on 29 April (84 Soviet and 278 Japanese casualties) had succeeded, with the advance continuing as April ended.

    Neither side launched any air strikes in this sector during the month, mainly based in Irkutsk – the large Soviet air presence was grounded due to lack of supplies. This led to a major reorganisation of Soviet air assets there on 14 April. There were 15 wings based in Irkutsk alone at that time and more in Mutina and Jakutsk – almost all of them unsupplied and lacking any organisation. A total of 18 wings (2 x STRAT, 5 x TAC, 4 x CAS, 2 x MR, 5 x INT) were reallocated to the various Western Theatre HQs in Russia proper in the hope of improving the general supply situation, leaving just seven in Irkutsk.

    By 23 April the wings left in Irkutsk were back in supply and starting to regain organisation. 7th Army [AI] had also deployed a couple of wings forward to Ulaanbataar. It was hoped the VVS might be able to resume combat support missions in May.

    Em1kKu.jpg

    A summary of battles and advance in the Western Sector, April 1946. Neither side flew any air missions and quite a few provinces had been taken without a fight by both sides, mainly depending on Soviet supply status, which remained chronic east of Lake Baikal, but generally good in Mongolia.

    ******

    4. Maritime Operations

    Once again, the most exciting, complicated and entertaining action occurred in the maritime sphere. The month started with the Red Banner Pacific Fleet split between the ports of Nikolayevsk na Amure and Okha, undergoing much-needed repairs.

    drBcCx.jpg

    On 8 April, one of the ‘new’ submarine flotillas was deployed. It was one of the units begun by the Soviets to start improving their construction experience and was a slightly improved version of the old Series II class, with Model 1918 engines and hull and a 1,700km range (the old Series II boats only having an 800km operational range). After earlier losses to Japanese CAGs, only one of the more modern Series XIV flotillas was left. The oldest boats were grouped together in the 5th Sub Sqn, while the Series XIV and improved Series II boats were kept separate to utilise their longer range. But none were sent on any missions yet.

    rI9v9Y.jpg

    2 DMP was deployed straight into Nikolayevsk na Amure on 12 April and the 1st Marine Corps formed, with two nearby ordinary rifle divisions. The other two marine divisions were still on their way to join them.

    l5uy0p.jpg

    By then, Allied progress in Japan had seen Hiroshima fall on the south-western tip of Honshu, while the Allies were across the strait and two provinces south of Nagoya on the approaches to Tokyo in the south-east of the island. Stalin’s demands for another amphibious expedition grew in their urgency and insistence.

    As 20 April came, both these Allied beachheads had expanded, with Allied troops on the outskirts of Nagoya and Hiroshima now safely behind Allied lines. Japanese surrender progress was assessed as up to 25.8% (NU of 61.9%). That evening the long-range sub fleet was ordered to Uchiura Bay for another recon of Sapporo, as the RBPF was repaired and the new Marine Corps assembled. Not long after they arrived late on 22 April, they were struck hard by enemy naval bombers, most likely based to the south-west at Akita. By 0600hr the next morning, one flotilla had been sunk and another damaged.

    vcEFfU.jpg

    The subs fled as soon as they could, managing to limp back into their bas two days later without losing any more boats. Interestingly, only the older boats had suffered: the Series XIV flotilla was undamaged.

    43k2Qw.jpg

    By then, 1st Marine Corps was assembled under LTGEN N.P. Ivanov in Nikolayevsk na Amure, with three marine and two rifle divisions. However, 2 DMP was not yet battle-ready after its recent initial deployment. Most of the ships in Okha were either fully or largely repaired and were sent back to join the main fleet in Nikolayevsk na Amure, while the least seaworthy remained.

    Two INT wings were rebased from Moscow to Tumnin to provide air cover for any planned amphibious operations, where they could reach out to the southern end of Sakhalin, but not as far as Sapporo. Work began on the air base at Tumnin to upgrade it to level 2.

    As preparations were finalised on the evening of 26 April for an amphibious attack on Toyohara, at the southern end of Sakhalin, a mixed group of one MR and one TAC wing was allocated to Theatre [human] control and ordered to conduct an interdiction mission on Toyohara, to see if any troops or ships were lurking there. But (frustratingly) the group didn't actually launch a mission at that point.

    The naval invasion force set off at 0100hr on 27 April, with the whole of the 1st Marine Corps on board except for 2 DMP, which was still not properly worked up. The RBPF was not completely repaired, but enough for Stalin to make the attempt.

    SoCqhe.jpg

    An hour later, with no result from the interdiction mission so far, a logistical raid was ordered instead. It did a little damage to infrastructure and stockpiles, was not opposed in the air and no ground or naval units were reported by the time they returned at 0600hr. The mission was then cancelled, allowing the air group to rest until the invasion began. The INT group would be ordered to start patrolling when the fleet arrived offshore Toyohara

    JY8E2U.jpg

    … which they did at midnight on 28 April: when all hell broke loose! As soon as they reached the Gulf of Terpeniya, the RBPF found itself engaging a three-carrier task group on the water while being hit simultaneously from the air by their six CAG wings. Heavy damage began to be taken straight away, especially by the old light cruisers.

    LB0rkZ.jpg

    Caught napping, the fighters in Tumnin were immediately ordered to intercept, while the MR-escorted TAC wing was sent to conduct a naval strike on the carrier group, hoping to do some damage and divert the attention of the CAGs that were doing so much damage to the invasion fleet. A group of two NAV bomber wings was ordered to rebase to Tumnin from up in Ulya, where they were currently out of range. And the 5th Sub Sqn (the older Series II boats) was ordered to sortie to the Gulf of Terpeniya to see what they could do.

    An hour later, the VVS was engaging the Japanese CAGs as the damage was mounting on the fleet from the enemy’s naval strike, which sank a transport flotilla by 0300hr. Then the CAGs were back at 0500hr, having re-equipped to challenge the Soviet naval strike. By 0600hr all the Soviet wings were getting badly disorganised, while the Japanese suffered little damage themselves.

    L3SHqA.jpg

    Kuznetsov was starting to get a little desperate and the NAV group was ordered to put in a naval strike after it arrived at Tumnin at 0300hr, but this order somehow became garbled and was not carried out. When the strike by the TAC wing finished at 0700hr, they reported having ‘damaged enemy ships’, but not much was apparent on the water, where the weather was poor. And the RBPF was taking more and more damage itself.

    6SHPZZ.jpg

    The naval battle continued into the middle of 28 April as the Soviet INT and TAC wings originally based in Tumnin ran out of organisation. The NAV wings were again ordered to strike the enemy fleet once the previous orders ‘SNAFU’ was discovered. But they were unescorted (the VVS fighters apparently unable to fly by then) and badly beaten off by the enemy CAGs flying combat air patrol. Though perhaps they had been briefly diverted from hitting the invasion fleet. By this stage, with all the activity over Toyohara, it was discovered that two Japanese marine divisions were present in Toyohara anyway, so any planned landings were abandoned.

    kb6FPo.jpg

    Now Kuznetsov just wanted to escape before he lost more ships and especially the transports carrying the 1st Marine Corps. But because the naval battle continued, he could not disengage. Once again, despite extra precautions, with sub and air recons and modest air cover, the Soviets had been comprehensively surprised and badly ambushed.

    The Japanese carrier-based dive and torpedo bombers had appeared again at 0800hr. By the time they were finished at 1000hr, another transport flotilla and the old CL Profintern had been sunk – though none of the ground troops had been lost as yet. The RBPF was now able to break away, at least, with the naval battle formally lost.

    geXy4B.jpg

    The fleet had reached the Eastern Coast of Shisuka by 1600hr that afternoon and made its best (though not very quick) speed back to sanctuary in Okha.

    gmEP6c.jpg

    By that evening, the Allies had taken Osaka and were threatening Kyoto, but had been held up in front of Nagoya. Then at 2100hr (still 28 April), the RBPF was struck again by enemy CAGs: though this time, there were only two of them (and one seemed to have be effectively destroyed in an earlier dogfight after all, as it was at 0% strength and org). And they had different squadron numbers to those they had fought further south. An hour later, the fleet had slipped north into the Gulf of Nabil’skiy, but it was clear one of the enemy carriers (or another one) must have been detached to pursue them.

    The RBPF was struck once more at 0500hr on 29 April in the Northern Taratar Strait, just north of the safety of Okha. In reaction to the renewed CAG strikes, at 0500hr the INT wings in Tumnin had been ordered to intercept but were heavily damaged and disorganised. The two INT wings based in Nikolayevsk na Amure had not responded, so were detached from 6th Army command (where they had been supporting land ops under AI control) and ordered directly by Theatre HQ to intercept in the Northern Taratar Strait. But they had not made contact with the enemy before the fleet reached port. The old CA Voroshilov, bore the brunt of the attack, but all the ships managed to reach port three hours later without any more being sunk. It was a minor miracle.

    cBy75D.jpg

    The four divisions of 1st Marine Corps soon deployed to help the garrison defeat the existing attack on Okha described in Section 1 above.

    At 1400hr that day, the sole remaining enemy CAG wing conducted a ground attack mission on Okha, killing 78 defenders. It meant they were still in the area and the enemy task force had just been discovered off the east coast of Sakhalin - where the submarine flotilla despatched a few days before was closing in! It looked like one fleet carrier and two cruisers. The intercept mission was expanded to cover all the way from Okha to where the enemy had been sighted.

    o9mViS.jpg

    As it happened, the surviving enemy CAG tried to perform another ground attack on Okha that afternoon, but was jumped by the VVS and badly mauled.

    y02VHT.jpg

    But this did not end the frenetic naval action for the month: at 2000hr, the old Soviet subs found the enemy CTF in the Gulf of Terpeniya and engaged! Even while the enemy CAG was still off bombing Okha. Huzzah!

    qbsdoR.jpg

    The two escorting enemy heavy cruisers came forward to protect the Kaga, but there were no screens with the small task force. Perhaps the old subs could actually do some damage. Meanwhile, the VVS declared an air victory over the CAG at Okha at 2100hr. But unfortunately, as the subs were making their runs against the Ashigara and Tone, the Kaga’s 19th CAG had refuelled and re-equipped. And despite all its damage and disorganisation was still able to strike the subs, causing heavy damage in just an hour or two. The swine! No impression seemed to have been made on the enemy ships at this point.

    cxevHJ.jpg

    Belatedly, at 2200hr the still badly damaged fighters in Tumnin were specifically ordered to provide air cover to the subs but (unlike the Japanese CAG flyers) did not respond accordingly. By the start of 30 April, the Soviet subs were taking more damage from the 19th CAG, but this time the fighters based out of Nikolayevsk na Amure were able to intercept them at 0100hr, immediately defeating the CAGs.

    aH1SU3.jpg

    An hour later, the enemy CTF had broken off and fled south-east. It was declared a Soviet naval ‘victory’, but many of the subs were badly damaged while no discernible damage had been done to the enemy ships. Nonetheless, the sub fleet would return to port claiming a great naval triumph which could be trumpeted in the papers, anyway.

    At this point, with naval hostilities apparently over for the time being, the badly degraded NAV and INT wings in Tumnin were swapped out back to the west for repairs in Mother Russia, replaced by fresh wings from Leningrad and Moscow (a 3 x NAV and a 3 x INT group). The RBPF was joined by the ships that had stayed back in Okha for repairs and had therefore not taken part in the second ill-fated amphibious attempt, then split in two again for more repairs there and in Nikolayevsk na Amure.

    YCOQrN.jpg

    A quick experiment showed that 1st Marine Corps [under AI control] could not be entrusted to carry out the desired overland attack along Sakhalin down to Toyohara called for after they had helped beat off the enemy ground attack on Okha on 30 April [the AI responded by trying to strategically redeploy them across the strait and down to Tumnin instead]. So they were put back under Theatre command, with 1. DMP and 1st Marine Div in Okha attacking the two enemy divisions in Alexandrovsk Skahalinsky at 1400hr on 30 April [58% progress]. That afternoon, the various INT and TAC wings in the sector were returned to 6th Army [AI] control for ground support ops. The NAV bombers would be held back for now.

    Shortly afterwards, the new INT group engaged an enemy air strike on Soviet troops in Verkhnetambovskoye, who were attacking Orlovka. This was desperately needed, as almost 4,000 Soviet troops had been killed by Japanese strikes there since 28 April, while the focus had been on the dramatic sea battles off Sakhalin. They seemed to have now discouraged the enemy air effort, but this would only be known for sure when it all started over again on 1 May.

    bPlUYK.jpg


    ******

    5. Production, Logistics and Research

    As noted above, supply across the front remained a major problem in certain areas throughout the month. Apart from the air unit ‘thinning’ with many wings sent back west mentioned earlier, some land units still drawing supplies up north around Ulya and beyond were withdrawn and sent down south on 14 April. By the end of the month, there had been a definite improvement south of Irkutsk and a little in the Central Sector, but elsewhere it varied from patchy to dire.

    rZTVzy.jpg


    ******

    It may come too late to matter against Japan, but a new landing craft flotilla began construction on 9 April. On 15 April, a fourth para brigade was ordered to supplement the currently three-brigade parachute division.

    On 16 April, the expansion of the busy air base in Tyndinskiy to level six was completed (nine VVS wings currently based there), but no new work was begun as it was hoped it would soon become redundant as the front advanced further. Then on 20 April, the Nikolayevsk na Amure air base reached level three (six wings based there at present) and work to expand it further was started. There was still one new air base available for deployment, but it was still being kept back in case one of the naval landings or the advance down Sakhalin ever succeeded.

    A new rocket test site had been started on 1 April in the hope it would speed up research and/or building of the new strategic rocket arm down the track [do let me know if that is misplaced optimism, as I’m not familiar with the mechanic and the tool tips and wikis seemed a bit ambiguous about it]. This was accompanied by another big round of infrastructure building to keep improving supply throughput into what now looked like it would be a long-term front, whether against Japan now or the Allies – including China – later.

    EGGolN.jpg

    And after recent progress in sub research, a new flotilla was laid down on 22 April – with the Soviets now able to construct the more modern Series XIV boats themselves.

    ******

    On 5 April, with their first nuclear device now 20% completed, nuclear technology advanced to double that production rate, with the next level of research rolled straight into. The first strategic rocket device – the flying bomb – should be ready to commence production in early May. Just in case it might still be relevant when researched, more advanced invasion tactics were pursued when the first level of landing craft support was achieved on 9 April.

    TAC ground crew training was improved and continued on 18 April, while the next much-anticipated progress in supply organisation was welcomed and continued on 21 April. At that time, with other demands on Soviet leadership increased (more below), one project was suspended (the recently started TAC training), in order to keep pursuing improved supply throughput (despite the ‘ahead of time’ penalty). By 29 April, more leadership effort had to be directed elsewhere, so the project list was reduced further to 21, heavy bomber crew training not being replaced in the queue.

    mXGctv.jpg


    ******

    6. Espionage and Diplomacy

    Given the rapid progress of China and of the Allied invasion of Japan, a decision was taken to start courting the other currently pro-Axis Chinese warlord states in the hope of creating some opportunities later. With three diplomatic teams required to launch each such mission and two LS points permanently assigned to maintain each one, the LS assigned to diplomacy steadily increased through the month. At first, this was taken from espionage and (principally) officer training, where the officer pool currently stood at 120%.

    The first mission to influence the Guangxi Clique started straight away (ie 2300hr on 31 March). With the extant Spanish and Turkish missions, this required 6 LS points to maintain plus more to rebuild the expended diplomatic teams. This rose to 8 LS on 2 April when Xibei San Ma was added, then to 10 on 20 April when Yunnan made the fifth Soviet influence mission on the books.

    UfhzAs.jpg

    It would take some time to bring the three Chinese states to the Comintern, but at present neither the Axis nor Allies were attempting to influence them. The first few had already begun to drift a little to the left.

    And on 14 April, a claim for Guandong was added to Soviet war goals for Japan, in the hope of maximising Soviet gains if they surrendered mainly due to Allied encroachments. [A question here: if Japan hits the surrender threshold and both France and the Soviets have competing puppet and government change goals (as they do here), who gets the territory still unoccupied by either side at that point? Any idea how it is usually broken up between the contenders?]

    ******

    By 20 April, the Soviet spy surplus was also beginning to be run down (see summary below) as teams on overseas missions were caught. The reserve was down to 4, with 0.2 LS put back into training spies (it had been reduced to zero in March).

    By 22 April, with Manchurian spy strength back up to 3 and Japan to 4, counter-espionage in both was increased from an even balance with disrupting NU. Manchuria went to a 75-25% balance, while in Japan, with the Allies now running rampant, all NU influencing was suspended, with everything going into counter-espionage. When a series of team losses followed and the reserve was down to 1, spy training was trebled on 25 April to 0.6 LS.

    Turkish spy strength was now up to 4 and the resurgence in local Communist Party popularity had to be abandoned temporarily, with the effort going back to 100% counter-espionage after a team was lost there that day. When another was captured in Turkey on the 26th, spy training was ramped up to 1 LS, research down to 21 active projects and officer training (where the pool had dropped a little to 119%) was put back to 1.55 LS, with 10.2 currently invested in diplomacy, mainly spent on influencing campaigns with 0.2 on diplomat training.

    The increase in counter-espionage efforts saw a number of enemy agents neutralised in their own countries from 22 April onwards, but Soviet losses had been heavy, with nine teams lost (most in Japan and Turkey) and only one produced in April, to just keep each mission at a strength of 10 with no reserve. The Communist party had rebounded in popularity in Turkey but dropped back a little (from 12 to 11%) when the support effort had to be suspended. The Party continued to lose ground to a miniscule 2% in Spain, calling that whole mission into question. Germany, followed by the UK and US, had the most agents caught in the Soviet Union in April.

    zJRStJ.jpg


    ******

    7. Theatre Summaries

    The Far East in general had seen both gains and losses for the Soviets, with only barely better than a stalemate overall. Air power on both sides had caused heavy casualties, ground combat less so (Soviet supply issues having again decreased op tempo). The Soviets had attacked more but the Japanese had won more battles, in fair part due to supply-related ‘no contests’.

    q8HKDT.jpg

    By contrast, Nationalist China had liberated nearly all of its former territory, had occupied Communist China (from the Japanese) and was now beginning to push into the south of Japan’s puppet states of Mengukuo and Manchukuo.

    In Japan, the Allied invasion had progressed steadily during the month. They now had a solid front across the south of Honshu, but the Japanese had at least been able to halt them for now at Nagoya with an infantry division in place. However, the British 1st Armd Div was now directly south of Kanazawa, where the Soviets had failed to land in March. With more Allied units on the way, the Japanese still seemed doomed at home, while they fought on doggedly against the Soviets in Manchuria.

    4Y9BbC.jpg

    There had been no changes at all during the month in South East Asia, New Guinea or the Pacific.

    ******

    Time seemed to be running out for the Soviets to make significant gains in the Far East, while the Allies gobbled up territory. And rather than having a puppeted Japan and neutral China to perhaps allow a ‘victory dividend’ of units sent back west for a possible war in Europe, it appeared a large Soviet presence would have to remain in the east for the foreseeable future, to fight a new two-front war against China and a strong Allied expeditionary presence. The call for strategic weapons to help tip this strategic balance more towards the Soviet’s favour became even more strident.
     
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    Chapter 27 – May 1946

    Foreword

    With recent naval adventures ending in setback albeit disasters narrowly averted, the focus in May returns to land warfare. That and the imminent introduction of the new ‘wonder weapons’ that Stalin hopes will allow the Soviet Union to reverse its perilous strategic position against the victorious Allied World Order.

    ******

    1. Eastern Sector

    [Note: includes periodic updates on the Allied invasion of the Japanese Home Islands. Summary map at the end of the section.]

    In the mini-campaign on Sakhalin, there was better news with one of the two ‘carry-over’ battles from April, with a victory in the attack on Alexandrov Sakhalinsky later on 1 May (406 Soviet, 508 Japanese killed). It was liberated on 7 May. The next Soviet attack came on Shisuka, the largest ground battle in the entire sector for the month, from 10-15 May. In winning it, the Soviets lost 1,517 men and the Japanese 2,405. Neither side had air support in this area throughout the month. Another Japanese division was inserted there before it could be occupied, with another large battle from 17-19 May again won by the Soviets, losing 554 to 606 Japanese killed.

    Shisuka was finally occupied on 23 May, and from there the Soviets attacked south once more, ousting token Japanese resistance in Maoka on 29 May, which they were still advancing on as the month ended. The Soviet aim was to take the whole island, especially the port of Toyohara that they had failed to land by amphibious invasion in April.

    ******

    In the eastern half of the sector, May began inauspiciously for the Soviets with the heavy defeat of the attack they had begun on Orlovka on 27 April (1,043 Soviet, 610 Japanese killed). After this initial ‘carry-over’ Soviet loss, Orlovka saw multiple combats through the month. The second battle went from 2-4 May, when the Soviets attacked from Vysokogorny and won (518 Soviet ground casualties plus 1,095 from Japanese defensive air raids on Vysokogorny, Japan 374 ground and 352 air raid casualties). The Japanese succeeded in getting another division in on the morning of 10 May and it was defeated in a skirmish, but in the afternoon another arrived and had air support (429 Soviet casualties in one raid on Vysokogorny), which was intercepted by VVS fighters just as the raid was ending.

    Tg47vx.jpg

    Of interest here is the far higher ‘mission efficiency’ for the Japanese compared to the Soviets: I’m not quite sure what that represents. The Japanese commander also had significantly more skill, combining to give the Japanese escorts an edge in the dogfight.

    This time the Soviets were repulsed. But they won a last skirmish on 23 May: by the end of the month, the Japanese had retreated but the Soviets had not yet occupied Orlovka.

    Urgal
    saw six actions fought over it during May and it changed hands twice. The first Soviet attack on 7-8 May succeeded (72 Soviet, 368 Japanese killed on the ground). An air action was fought above Urgal during this battle, where Japanese fighters disrupted a raid by unescorted VVS CAS wings.

    DW7qEe.jpg

    The Soviets then quickly defeated a new Japanese division that arrived on 10 May and another on 12 May in short skirmishes. The largest battle there for the month was the fourth, fought over five days from 21-26 May when the Japanese attacked after the Soviets occupied the province on 21 May. It ended in a hard-won Soviet victory (669 Soviet ground and 598 air raid casualties, Japan 865 killed).

    Interestingly, the Japanese air raids on Urgal in this latest battle were carried out by a single CAG wing – it was not known whether they were carrier or land based. Alas, the Soviet defenders were still almost completely disorganised when the Japanese attacked again the next day (the 27th), retreating virtually without a fight, the enemy retaking it on 31 July and then beating off another small Soviet attack on arrival.

    The Soviets had taken Suluk on 6 May and won a major defensive victory there from 10-12 May, with heavy air support assisting the defence. Soviet ground casualties were 754, with the Japanese losing 1,980 men in the attack and another 2,018 from defensive VVS air strikes on Tyrma. The damaged Japanese attackers in Tyrma were then themselves attacked from the north on 11 May while still engaged in Suluk, the Soviets winning on 12 May also (209 Soviet, 227 Japanese troops killed). The Japanese slipped another division into Tyrma on 20 May, but they were soundly beaten the same day (five Soviet divisions v one Japanese), with only 48 Soviet against 576 more Japanese ground and 407 air raid casualties. The Soviets occupied it the next day.

    The Japanese tried attacking Elban twice during May (on the 10th and then again on 29th) but both probes were quickly beaten back. To its east, Uska Orochskaya was occupied on the Pacific coast unopposed on 15 May and Kur was taken by the Soviets on 17 May again without a fight, later using it as a springboard to attack Dzhuen on 26 May. They won in Dzhuen after a short battle (despite Japanese defensive air strikes killing 758 of the attackers in Kur) and occupied it on 31 May. A quick Soviet probe on Malmyzh (to the west of Dzhuen) was quickly called off the same day.

    ******

    In Japan, Allied advances were closely watched and were compared to Soviet progress (such as it was) in the nearby Eastern Sector. By 5 May, the port of Kanazawa (the first Soviet amphibious target back in March) had been taken, while Nagoya still held out for the Japanese. On the 14th, the French-led invasion had taken Nagoya and had pushed to the outskirts of Tokyo itself, on its southern fringes at Chigasaki. Six days later, the Japanese had retaken Chigasaki (evidence they must now have at least some troops in the area) but had lost ground to the west of Tokyo.

    On 24 May, a detailed liaison report was provided by the French defence attaché in Moscow: the Japanese had established a light defence in the vicinity of Tokyo – including some Ethiopian troops! – but the Allies had advanced further up the Western coast of Honshu.

    aLslfv.jpg

    The key question was whether the Japanese would still hold Tokyo by the end of the month – and indeed whether they would still be fighting by then.

    ******

    In the western half of this sector, the action began on 2 May, with a heavy Japanese attack on Alihe. The Soviet defenders were defeated the next day despite heavy defensive air strikes on Kuibyshevka (1,804 Japanese killed) and Zavitaya (1,180), with 723 Soviet and only 180 Japanese troops killed in ground combat. But the Soviets were able to get another division in for a quick defence before the province could be occupied, with the next battle between 6-9 May being a hard-fought win by the Soviets, who lost 867 men to ground combat. The Japanese lost 822 in Alihe itself, with almost 5,000 more to defensive air strikes in Kuibyshevka (3,452) and Zavitaya (1,353).

    The contest over Alihe proved persistent and bloody through May, when the Japanese attacked again from 14-16 May, this time winning against a still weakened Soviet division that now had supply problems. There were 554 Soviet and 606 Japanese ground combat casualties, plus more in defensive air strikes on Kuibyshevka (2,562) and Zavitaya (1,166). The Japanese also made an effort to provide air support to their attack, killing 390 defenders in one raid, but the second seemed to have been aborted after a couple of VVS interceptions.

    5aoC2a.jpg

    But the VVS air support was not enough this time. The Japanese reoccupied Alihe on 23 May. The Soviets ended up having the last word when a quick skirmish on 27 May soon defeated the Japanese defence. The month ended with the Soviets advancing on Alihe, hoping to reoccupy it in early June.

    Urusha was retaken by the Soviets without a fight on 16 May. The same day, the Japanese had occupied Ushumun, but the Soviets won a quick attack on 21 May. The Japanese had fully retreated from Ushumun by the end of the month but, as in Alihe next door, the Soviets had not yet reoccupied it.

    In this part of the line, the main action towards the end of the month was in the much fought-over Tahe, in northern Manchuria. The Soviets had won and lost it the month before, but were determined to take it back again. The battle began on 22 May and lasted until the 27th. By the time it was over the Soviets had triumphed, losing 1,027 to 1,475 Japanese ground casualties. The VVS added a whopping 4,108 enemy killed in Tahe from air strikes over the same period. Tahe was taken by the Soviets on 29 May and a short Japanese probe easily defeated.

    Finally, Soviet-held Obluchye, directly north-east of Alihe, came under heavy Japanese attack from Zavitaya on 30 May, a battle which continued as the month ended. By that time, VVS strikes had already killed 1,578 of the attackers. The battle was going well enough [-27% enemy attack progress], the Soviet’s lack of supplies being balanced by their three-divisions-to-one numerical advantage and the air support.

    T2L5zJ.jpg

    A summary of battles and advances in the Eastern Sector, May 1946. The VVS was now significantly out-bombing the Japanese in the sector. Territorial progress was steady, if not stellar.

    ******

    2. Western Sector

    [Note: includes periodic updates on the war in China and some other developments in Central Asia. Summary map at the end of the section.]

    East of Lake Baikal, the unoccupied Romanovka was taken by the Japanese on 2 May. The first major action began the same day with a Japanese attack on the out-of-supply defenders of Bukacaca.

    In response – hoping it might make 1st Army more focused – Irkutsk (no longer under threat) was removed from their objectives list and they were put on a ‘prepare’ (from 'defensive') stance.

    WuQ2Lm.jpg

    What should have otherwise been a comfortable defence, with ample air support from nearby Irkutsk, became a drawn-out affair dragging on from 2-8 May, with no VVS support. On the morning of the 8th, the remaining Soviet defenders (there had originally been three divisions) finally got some supply, but by then it was way too late.

    E2PwrO.jpg

    The Soviet defeat came that evening, despite having the better of the fighting (401 Soviet v 1,142 Japanese killed). The province eventually fell to the enemy on 22 May.

    ******

    In Mongolia, supply was better and it was the Comintern on the front foot. 7th Army’s objectives were also changed on 2 May, with Irkutsk removed and Bologon added as a depth offensive objective.

    IuM3Dt.jpg

    Bulag was taken by 1600hr on 2 May and Undur Khan on the 7th, with advancing Japanese troops attacking them on arrival but quickly backing off by early the next morning. These successes brought another adjustment to 7th Army’s objectives, with Ulan Ude removed and the focus shifted to the next Trans-Siberian Railway province of Petrovsk Zabaykal'skiy.

    eZBDSH.jpg

    This was augmented on 15 May by giving new offensive objectives to Mongolia and Sinkiang, in the remote hope they might assist with operations.

    HIKe4F.jpg

    A few weeks later, the hoped-for Soviet attack on Petrovsk Zabaykal'skiy began and by 24 May Comintern forces were well on the move east.

    ZedFqF.jpg

    Petrovsk Zabaykal'skiy would develop into the largest battle in the sector for the month, ending in a convincing Soviet victory. From 23-27 May, 1,017 Soviet and 2,042 Japanese troops were killed. It had not yet been occupied by the end of May, but Khentel had on 30 May, without any Japanese opposition. A Soviet probe on Khongor on 31 May was all it took to send the Japanese retreating from there as well.

    ******

    The eastern zone of the sector was close enough to the still-operating Soviet air bases to attract some VVS air support when fighting erupted. A heavy enemy attack on Ust’ Karsk began on 21 May and lasted for a whole week until the 28th. Once more, Soviet supply problems undermined the defence, despite strong air support, resulting in their defeat. The Soviets lost 950 men, inflicting 1,017 ground losses on the Japanese attackers and another 936 from VVS raids on Mangui when air support was briefly available on 23 May (most of the local effort going to support the concurrent Soviet attack on Tahe, to the east).

    Mangui was itself attacked from the north on 30 May and the Japanese fled after a short battle (Soviets 29 killed, Japan 195 plus 286 from a single VVS raid). As the month ended many Japanese units in the sector were falling back rather than following up earlier successes east of Lake Baikal – where many units on both sides seemed to be running away from each other.

    C1gPr0.jpg

    A summary of battles and advances in the Western Sector, May 1946. The reduced VVS presence in Irkutsk was now regaining supply and organisation, but was still unable to fly any support mission in May.

    ******

    The China Theatre was of both general interest and would also begin to have a direct impact on the Soviets in the Western Sector. By 14 May, the earlier runaway Chinese advances had been slowed down along the southern borders of Manchukuo and Mengukuo, but the latter’s capital (and only VP city) of Hohhot remained under direct Chinese threat.

    But the big news came on 23 May, when France – as the pre-eminent Allied power - enforced a capitulation on Mengukuo.

    nd9VBu.jpg

    This had a few territorial effects immediately afterwards, with some provinces east of Lake Baikal temporarily reverted to ‘titular’ Soviet control, but they were all soon formally reoccupied by the Japanese forces remaining there. Also, a Mengukuo HQ allowed the interior Mongolian province of Garbun Dzagal to return to its original owners – at least until the Japanese could regain control.

    ******

    On 29 May, the surprising news came that Afghanistan had thrown its lot in with the clearly failing Axis cause – but only against the Comintern, remaining neutral towards the Allies. Madness. It was an opportunity for another Soviet land grab, but also a distraction.

    KVBBv3.jpg

    The problem was left entirely with the Caucasus Theatre to manage autonomously. Most of their units were in Persia or on the Turkish and Iraqi borders, but were already on the move to the front even before new objectives were set, including one for Persia as well. To prevent any confusion, all other Persian objectives for the Pakistan border and the Ahvaz oilfields were removed.

    lEpksp.jpg

    The political decision was taken to install a friendly government in Kabul rather than conquest and the next war goal would call for a Communist government to be installed as well.

    ******

    3. Naval Report

    On the night of 1 May, the old subs of the 5th Squadron were back in port after their ‘victory’ against the Kaga off Sakhalin in late April – lucky not to have lost any flotillas.

    NQunMM.jpg

    The rest of the Red Banner Pacific Fleet spent all month repairing its ships (which were all fixed by the end of the month) and the organisation of the crews (which was not yet complete) in its two main ports.

    u7KlHz.jpg

    There was no purging of the commanding Admiral ;), nor any more requests for suicidal amphibious landings – though the steady advance of the Allies in Japan had Stalin alternately furious and fearful. In part, no more ventures would be risked until better air support could be guaranteed, as intelligence revealed that none of the known Japanese fleet carriers had been lost in the interim (in fact, they have not lost a single carrier during the entire war).

    ******

    4. Production and Logistics

    Throughout this period, Soviet industrial output has hovered at around just under 400 IC. About 120 IC was required to achieve an equilibrium in the supply stockpile and about 24 IC was going on consumer goods. Of the rest, around 190 IC was being spent on production, the remainder on upgrades and reinforcements, all of which would vary. As at 1 May, the nuclear program had built 40% of the first nuclear device, with the addition of 20% per month.

    From 1-18 May, new equipment production orders focused the Air Force. This included the new ‘Flying Bombs’ after the technology was finalised on 9 May, a trial run of five being commenced – they would be ready to deploy on 1 June. While they should cause great strategic damage when they struck, the range of only 300km would make then a short-range weapon, probably more useful in Europe, where they could, for example, hit Warsaw but not Berlin from current Soviet bases.

    L9L3cJ.jpg

    Supply remained a problem in many areas of the front as the month began. The effects have been observed in the combat reporting. Many infrastructure improvements begun previously remain under construction, in an attempt to improve bypasses for the Trans-Siberian Railway which remains under enemy occupation past Lake Baikal.

    aRLOrb.jpg

    On 4 and 5 May radar stations on the Western Front at Kaunas, Lwów and Brzesc Litewski were completed to level 4 and new work on level 5 improvements were begun.

    On 23 May, one of the new fast tank divisions was deployed to the Lwów theatre.

    Dpp9E2.jpg

    And a new ‘medium-fast’ armoured division replaced it in the queue.

    lE7kQp.jpg

    The completion of level 4 for the main reactor in Mytishchi on 25 May represented the end of current reactor building efforts. Further extensions may be contemplated later, but for now the expenditure would be diverted elsewhere.

    qUzldt.jpg

    The latest priorities included another flotilla of the latest submarine designs (some of which had recently been improved again, see below); a flotilla of destroyers (backward, but the only other Soviet shipbuilding technology with any post-WW1 development); and a new wing of the Yak-15 interceptors, for the Western Front.

    4GG4NP.jpg

    A day later, infrastructure improvements were completed in another five Far East provinces. With those freed resources and some recent decreases in upgrade costs, a new five-brigade ‘standard infantry’ division commenced training.

    VIH1jw.jpg

    NB: over this time the rocket test site was always kept at the bottom of the queue, so it absorbed any fluctuations that decreased IC available for production.

    Late in the month, supply did seem a little better in the Eastern Sector and was strong south of Irkutsk, patchy to poor elsewhere, including the ‘black hole’ east of Lake Baikal across to Tahe.

    u8zt7L.jpg

    As at midnight on 1 June, a recent improvement in nuclear bomb production research had seen the monthly accrual rate increase to 30%, so now the first device was 70% finished and should be complete on 1 July.

    AdEtJ8.jpg

    And the first batch of Flying Bombs was finished and ready for delivery.

    ******

    5. Research

    On 3 May, spy losses overseas saw espionage training doubled from one to two LS at the expense of one research project (invasion tactics) put on hold, as project funding was reduced from 21 to 20 LS.

    Despite this, it was a good month for technological advances.

    d3Se7t.jpg

    As noted above, flying bomb technology was introduced and attention turned straight to rocket development. Submarine AA was improved on 13 May, but no new project was added to allow invasion tactics to resume development, in line with the reduction in project funding mentioned above. The VVS got new (if still backward by benchmark standards) small search radars on 22 May, with the strategic bomber arm finally getting some research on larger bombs. And also as mentioned under production, the crucial improvement of nuclear bomb making came on 23 May and research kept right on, the next advance there expected in late November.

    Then four more advances came in the last week of the month.

    jqD79o.jpg

    Most were for the VVS, plus a major advance in submarine engine design. And most of the follow-on effort remained in Navy and Air Force disciplines, but an improvement in the crucial area of infantry warfare doctrine was also begun.

    ******

    6. Espionage and Diplomacy

    With Spanish spy strength down to just one team, on 7 May a final effort was made to see if the popularity of the local Communist Party – now down to just 2% - could be improved, with all efforts being put into supporting them.

    Successes in Manchukuo by 16 May allowed NU disruption to be increased from 33 to 50%, with a corresponding reduction in counter-espionage to 50%.

    With the Allied push in Japan, their surrender was now becoming a more likely prospect. On 20 May, another war goal could be added, so Molotov lodged a claim on Japan’s ‘Pacific Bases’ (the last territorial claim available), just in case it may do any good in the event of an Allied-dominated peace settlement. (I have little idea how any of that is likely to work in practice.)

    dcfByz.jpg

    With spy reserves back up to three teams by 30 May, espionage training was reduced back to one LS, but this was invested in officer training (back up to 2.56 LS), which had suffered somewhat due to the demands of the expanded diplomatic influence program launched in April.

    A bumper crop of enemy spies had been caught in May (the equal highest of any month tracked so far). There had been heavy Soviet losses overseas, especially in Turkey, which had become a graveyard for Soviet agents.

    OTDwAp.jpg

    The Soviet counter-espionage mission in Turkey had hit back somewhat by the end of the month, but the need to focus on counter-espionage had meant Communist Party popularity in Turkey had fallen back to 9%. The attempt to save the political situation in Spain had been an abject failure, with the Communists there now virtually non-existent. This was almost certainly due to them being swamped by Allied agents building up the bourgeois parties. (Any suggestions for other pursuits, perhaps some tech espionage in case they have some naval designs or some such, are welcome).

    The diplomatic situation saw the influence program still in stasis for Turkey and Spain, who it seemed could not easily be lured any closer. But the three Chinese satellite states were being steadily weaned away from their Axis alignment and the Allies had not (yet) interfered with that.

    xzpYju.jpg


    ******

    7. Theatre Summaries

    May had seen a major turn-around in the Soviet-Japanese casualty ratio on the main front, with the VVS dominating again despite the lack of activity out of Irkutsk. The situations in China and Japan will be shown in more detail below, with the switch of Mengukuo to the Allies being the noteworthy event on the mainland.

    kYvYHA.jpg

    Not much had happened regarding Afghanistan in the few days since they had declared war on the Comintern, with no clashes reported or advances spotted yet. This front may take weeks to develop significantly.

    V4NZvB.jpg

    In Japan, Tokyo still held, though the Allied forces present should in time be able to wipe out all visible Japanese resistance on their main Home Island – once they got to the front.

    7e3Jg0.jpg

    In China, the Japanese had actually managed to push back a little since the beginning of the month on the main front, which was now much narrower. But the defection of Mengukuo had opened up their western flank and it remained to be seen whether they could switch enough forces into position to stem the tide there and prevent a Chinese flanking move, which had now linked up with the Comintern front in Mongolia.

    UoIdEQ.jpg

    Most of the Chinese Army (infantry and militia divisions) did not seem to be particularly strong. If the Soviets came up against them in the future, it was hoped the hardened units of the Far Eastern Fronts would be able to give them the smashing the Japanese had not been able to do in this second Sino-Japanese War.

    There had been no other changes at all in South East Asia, New Guinea or the Pacific.
     
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    Chapter 28 – June 1946

    Foreword

    In the constant quest to make this AAR a bit quicker and dirtier, and also for other reasons that will become obvious, I will treat the whole chapter as a single theatre broadly chronological update this time. I’ll also go a little lighter again on the individual battle descriptions, especially as there is some other material to be covered.

    ******

    [Note: battle summary map towards the end of the chapter.]

    As noted at the end of the May 1946 chapter, 1 June saw the first Soviet A-Bomb 70% complete: it should be finished by 1 July. It was understood that among the Allied powers, the most advanced research had been conducted by Germany, with Civil Nuclear Research (CNR) finished to level 4, but no bomb-making research commenced yet as they did not possess a nuclear reactor. The USA was currently researching CNR 4 and was the only country other than the Soviet Union known to have a nuclear reactor. The UK had completed CNR 3, but was not researching the next level and did not have a reactor. France had researched isotope separation, Italy nuclear research and Japan atomic research, but none were conducting any more at present.

    From the forward-most Soviet air base in Europe, at Brzesc Litewski on the Polish border, Soviet STRAT bombers (current range 1,050 km) could cover all targets in Germany (out to Köln at 991 km), but Paris (1,363 km) and London (1,456 km) remained well out of range. More capable bombers and/or closer bases would be needed to strike either of those with a completed atomic bomb.

    In Japan, the Allies were poised to take Tokyo and the other key Honshu urban centres – the loss of which would likely cause them to surrender.

    Mrd4ce.jpg


    ******

    In the east, 15th Army’s objectives were amended to add Vladivostok.

    RETN5d.jpg

    The smaller 6th Army was also assigned Vladivostok, while Ohka was removed.

    KiM226.jpg

    The period 1-3 June saw the successful defence of Obluchye (an attack begun on 30 May – no report) on 1 June and of Tyrma (1-3 June). The latter saw both sides using air support, with the VVS causing far more casualties (defensive strikes in Zavitaya and Bureya). The VVS kept the enemy raiders away after a single enemy sortie got through but was intercepted over Tyrma early on 2 June.

    DY24c4.jpg

    Then a large Japanese attack on Dzhuen was also beaten back from 2-4 June and Orlovka was retaken on 3 June.

    On Sakhalin, a light probe on 2 June was all it took to sweep aside previously retreated Japanese troops in Maoka, which was taken that night.

    b9yARy.jpg

    The fast-moving 57 Motor Rifle Division then hit Toyohara the next day, a quick attack all that was needed to defeat the last Japanese resistance on the island and subsequently bag a number of divisions that had been trying to flee south to the port.

    ******

    In the west, a short skirmish saw victory in Mandal on 1 June and in Chita the next day, also a Soviet victory. Goryachinsk and Petrovsk Zabaykal'skiy were both occupied on 2 June, the latter pushing the liberation of the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR) further east.

    X68WYK.jpg

    These successes led to 7th Army’s objectives being updated, removing defensive goals and seeking to keep freeing the TSR via Chita and Mildigun.

    sifYUX.jpg

    7th Army responded well, with a slightly longer battle for Chita fought and won on 4-5 June. This battle brought two important developments in the sector: the enemy was now having supply problems and the wings in Irkutsk were now back to full strength and had enough supplies to start flying missions. They hit Chita during this attack and remained heavily engaged in the western sector for the rest of the month.

    F4YCVZ.jpg

    The capture of another enemy spy early on 4 June reminded the NKVD to change the so far fruitless political influence mission in Spain to technical espionage, on the off-chance something useful might be turned up.

    ******

    By early on 5 June, supply was generally good in the western sector, though patchy in some parts of the eastern zone, which caused some problems for the Soviets in attack and defence.

    3IdFEV.jpg

    This came to the fore in Tyrma, when another Japanese offensive began on 6 June, with the Soviet defenders out of supply, lasting until 8 June. Fortunately, the VVS was able to provide heavy defensive air support again, with the Soviets emerging victorious. It ended up being the largest land battle in the Far East for the month: the Soviets lost 1,181 men killed, the Japanese 2,367 plus another 3,449 to air strikes on Bureya.

    The Japanese also attacked Dzhuen over the same period (6-8 June), in another major battle that the Soviets eventually won: the second largest of the month (Soviets 855, Japanese 1,798 killed). As that was going on, on 6 June the Soviets ran into a fresh Japanese division as they advanced on Troitskoye. This time, the Japanese defenders prevailed on 10 June, after four days of heavy fighting. The Japanese 16th CAG made a couple of appearances over the Soviet attackers in Orlovka, giving as good as it got to the VVS interceptors, but only causing light casualties in a couple of raids over 9-10 June.

    rfrcPA.jpg

    Toyohara was occupied on 6 June and soon had a basic air base built there, with an expansion ordered immediately.

    NW0qkd.jpg

    By the afternoon of 8 June, the Allies reported they had taken both Sendai and Fukushima, cutting off the east coast of Honshu north and south of Tokyo from the rest of Japan.

    DTyX2q.jpg

    A large Soviet attack began on Huma on 9 June with heavy VVS air support and was won by 11 June. A follow-up Japanese attack on Dzhuen, supported by heavy enemy air strikes and where the Soviets had now run out of supplies, saw a defeat on 10 June. However, a Soviet attack on nearby Troistkoye from 10-11 June saw a win after the previous unsuccessful attempt, even though the attackers were unsupplied.

    By this time, Stalin was very concerned the Japanese were about to collapse – with the Allies likely to get the lion’s share of the territory. Two interceptor wings were transferred from Kaluga on the Western Front to the new air base at Toyohara early on 10 June. They were within range of Sapporo and could reach as far south as Akita on northern Honshu if required.

    ******

    On the Chinese Front, Japan and Manchukuo seemed to be doing better, even retaining a couple of key Chinese cities since the beginning of the month.

    Zj85Gd.jpg

    Note: the yellow lines represent Chinese positions as at 1 June.

    With good supply, renewed air support and thinning enemy numbers, the western sector continued to see extensive progress during the month. Victorious skirmishes were fought in Romanovka on 9 June and Ust’ Karsk (after Japan had previously occupied the latter on 5 June) on 11 June. Mangui had fallen to Soviet troops on 6 June, Ushumun and Mandal on 7 June. And the VVS provided heavy air support to a Mongolian attack on Ikhe Khid from 9-11 June (1,830 enemy casualties).

    Supply remained good to fair in most areas by the afternoon of 10 June, except for the new ‘blind spot’ in the east around Tyrma and Suluk.

    gqYrFD.jpg

    Still in the west, Bukacaca had been liberated on 9 June, Khilok followed on 10 June and Chita on 12 June. With the fall of Chita, 7th Army objectives were again adjusted to keep the TSR clearance operation going.

    475KFu.jpg

    Major battles were fought for Romanovka, Telemba and Vershino Darasunskiy (all three from 12-15 June), each with heavy Soviet air support flown from Irkutsk and ending in Soviet victories. Meanwhile, Ust’ Karsk was retaken by Soviet forces on 13 June after the victory there the week before.

    ******

    Supply around Tyrma and Suluk finally began to improve by 13 June, with the ‘blind spot’ moving a bit further west, into less critical provinces.

    lFSJk8.jpg

    Better supply in the east helped achieve victory in Elban (a defence from 13-15 June) despite heavy Japanese air support, which was finally discouraged by VVS interceptions on the afternoon and evening of 15 June.

    Bttvx8.jpg

    Gornoy (12 June) and Sarapulskoye (14 June) were both occupied by the Soviets without a fight. And 15 June Soviet probe on Dzhuen, which had been reoccupied by the Japanese two days before, was also quickly won.

    On the diplomatic front, options were explored to implement policies that might help draw the Turks a little closer to Soviet influence. While and alliance or even non-aggression pact were still out of the question, Stalin could at least proclaim a guarantee of Turkish independence, which was given on 14 June.

    t7DHWY.jpg

    With Tokyo still holding out but Japan close to surrender, the remaining non-motorised Soviet divisions on Sakhalin were taking too long to get to Toyohara, where they might be loaded up and used for a final daring amphibious operation.

    CecvyT.jpg

    With Turkish domestic spies now thoroughly cowed, on 16 June a greater emphasis could be put on Communist Party support there (currently hovering on 9%) from 16 June.

    Soviet attacks on Mildigun (18-19 June) and Byrka (18-21 June) were successful, both of which received heavy VVS air support that killed far more enemy than in the ground fighting.

    ******

    News came through at 0800 hr on 16 June that the province of Chigasaki, due south of Tokyo, had been taken by the Allies after holding out for many days. The end there must surely be near.

    This led the two Soviet fleets to set sail that day to rebase in Toyohara; the Red Banner Pacific Fleet brought the now worked-up marines of 2 DMP with them from Nikolaevsk na Amure. And another three INT wings were also ordered from Moscow to Toyohara, where one of the stockpiled radar installations was deployed.

    0NdqHw.jpg

    On their way into Toyohara, the Soviet fighters of 73 IAD were jumped by a single Japanese INT wing. The plane-for-plane superiority of the Japanese Ki-201 fighters over the Yak-15s led to a detailed comparison between the two to see what was giving them the edge. It was a night engagement, where superior Japanese radar gave them a decided advantage. Soviet training also lagged significantly, though this related more to morale and organisation.

    92p3nI.jpg

    The Soviet fleets (now the Red Banner Pacific Fleet and the re-named 2nd Pacific Battle Fleet) arrived in Toyohara on the afternoon of 17 June, with 57 MRD joining 2 DMP on the ships, ready for an amphibious raid as soon as it might be ordered.

    But after previous problems, two INT wings were first sent to establish air superiority over Sapporo, where they were engaged by a single enemy CAG at 1700hr. There were two dogfights that evening, with both sides taking heavy damage. A carrier – probably the Kaga – and a couple of other minor flotillas were spotted in the port. No ground troops had been spotted.

    Q3Yf2a.jpg

    The 14th Air Wing was rested and air superiority mission was taken over by the recently arrived (and still partly damaged and disorganised) 73 IAD at 0100 hr on 18 June. They were unopposed this time over Sapporo, spotting more ships (mainly landing craft and transports) in the port.

    PxWU48.jpg

    This led to two NAV wings being ordered over from Voronezh in the West to the now very overcrowded Toyohara ‘bare base’. They were in place by 1300 hr on 19 June and immediately sent out to conduct a port strike on Sapporo, with 73 IAD still providing cover.

    The first raid went in at 1400 hr and was intercepted by two Japanese CAG wings, both of which were already damaged. It was the Kaga they discovered in port, among others.

    Ik2mDm.jpg

    A second port strike was launched that night and this time was not intercepted, with one of the wings apparently taking a little AA damage. The Kaga had slipped away.

    lxcTbi.jpg

    With the fighters remaining on air superiority over Sapporo, the invasion fleets in Toyohara were put on alert.

    ******

    But the order for another amphibious invasion attempt was never sent, because as the NAV bombers were returning to Toyohara word came through that Japan had surrendered to France. The ensuing peace settlement was a disaster for the Soviet Union – and, incidentally, very poor for the Nationalist Chinese too. Not only were none of the Soviet war goal claims honoured, but even the territory they had physically occupied on Sakhalin was lost as well.

    zjCoGT.jpg

    Manchukuo was now the leader of the Axis, with recently joined Afghanistan the only other member that was not a government in exile. A check of war goals confirmed that, as with Mengukuo and Japan, both the Soviets and France had goals of changing their governments and puppeting Manchukuo.

    Japan was now a member of the Allies as a French puppet government – meaning all their remaining forces would now be available to fight for the Allies in due course. The Soviet plan had been for Japan – with its still appreciable navy – to be put under Soviet control. The puppeted Japan retained all its occupied Chinese and Korean territory – despite the Chinese having taken most of it by the time of the treaty.

    All the Soviet land, sea and air units were forced to evacuate southern Sakhalin – and the Allies gain the benefit of the new air base and radar in Toyohara. The queued air base upgrade was soon cancelled, of course!

    It did mean that, for the continuing fight against the Manchurians, with the recent clearance operations in the west the entire length of the TSR through to Vladivostok was again in Soviet hands.

    BhpWnf.jpg

    The Army HQs in the east were soon moving formations (many by strategic redeployment) to the new border, as Japanese divisions now made for neutral territory back to Japanese-controlled lands.

    Si4WG7.jpg

    The objectives of the 6th and 15th Armies were adjusted to the new situation.

    1kOtee.jpg

    Early on 21 June, all Soviet agents in Japan were switched to technical espionage. Their national unity had plummeted to around 30% after the Allied victory, so if they needed to be fought again it should not take too much to once again force a surrender: perhaps a nuke on Tokyo or another major centre may come in handy one day after all!

    By 1500 hr on 21 June, the AI had overloaded Vladivostok, adding another nine wings to the five that had been transferred from Toyohara the day before, with 14 wings now jammed into a base with the capacity to repair ten. And they should come in handy later when the war was being brought to southern Manchuria.

    At this time, the formations of the Caucasus Theatre HQ were still en route through Persia to the Afghan border – no combat had occurred or advances made by either side into opposing territory.

    ******

    On 21 June, some fighting continued in the western sector against Manchurian forces. Byrka was liberated on 21 June and a Manchurian probe on occupation quickly halted. Munkhu Khany was similarly liberated and a Manchurian probe quickly defeated on 24 June. At this point, the western army objectives were also refined, with old defensive goals removed and the key centres of Manchuria targeted by one or both 1st and 7th Armies.

    zocD7M.jpg

    The same day, one sortie of VVS air support was provided for a Mongolian attack on Kharyata and another on Garbun Dzagal on 29 June. There was no other fighting or air action in either sector of the Far Eastern Front for the rest of the month.

    By 25 June, a noticeable drop in supply demand allowed supply production to be cut back significantly. This freed up a significant amount of industrial capacity, which was soon diverted into spending for all three services (including a new class of submarine) and a new reserve air base.

    m6d9f6.jpg

    The focal points of fighting, mainly up to 20 June, are summarised below. Japanese (including Manchurian) casualties were massive by comparison to the Soviets, especially from VVS air raids.

    z2pqpp.jpg

    Combat and the resulting advances for June 1946 are shown above. Advances by the Soviets and Mongolian territory automatically liberated after the armistice with Japan are not recorded. The green and (for China) yellow lines show the front line as at 1 June, the blue line shows the new border as at the armistice on 20 June.

    As the month ended, Soviet forces were still en route to the Afghan front.

    1ybphw.jpg


    ******

    Technical advances had progressed through the month, with the added bonus of a tech stolen from Japan on 29 June, only days after the agents had been instructed in that direction.

    BXvHdV.jpg

    NB: I’ll have to remember to research acoustic torpedoes next time a spare slot arises. Supply transportation was not persisted with, as it would have been a couple of years in advance. Fighter ground crew and pilot training will need to be persisted with, so too radar.

    As at midnight on 1 July, the world’s first atomic bomb was completed and the next one commenced (30%/month). A new STRAT wing (4 DBAD) was ready to deploy, along with the five V1s and a remaining new radar station.

    More foreign spies (42, topped by the UK with six) were captured in June than in any previous month since March 1944. In the four overseas missions, enemy spy strengths were run right down, the Soviets only losing two of their own in the process. The fall in Japanese NU was due to their surrender, with no Soviet action decreasing it this month. The NU effort on Manchuria did continue.

    hkSEFG.jpg

    Pleasingly, the earlier shift back to political influence in Turkey seems to have had a definite effect (from 9 to 12% Communist popularity). And even more intriguingly, Spanish Communist popularity rose from 0 to 3%, despite no action from Soviet spies at all! It may be that a renewed political effort there might be warranted in July.
     
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    Chapter 29 – July 1946
  • Bullfilter

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    Chapter 29 – July 1946

    Foreword


    Not enough fighting in this one to warrant a separate battle summary map, will just go with ordinary screenshots to tell the story this time. Without further ado, let’s get into it, shall we?

    ******

    1 July

    The month began with the Japanese withdrawing from formerly occupied Soviet territory and the Soviets approaching the new border with Manchuria in the east. Most of Mongolia had been liberated by the end of June. The Soviets had their first nuke fully completed as at 1 July. Delivery was taken of a new strategic bomber wing (4 . DBAD, L3 model) in Moscow.

    MIb2TH.jpg

    3 July

    Medium tank guns were improved to level 6, with medium tank armour being the next project started (a visual monthly tech summary is provided later).

    4 July

    At 0900hr, the first Soviet division crossed into north-eastern Manchukuo at Fuyuan (just across from Khabarovsk).

    5 July

    A couple of Soviet spies had been apprehended in first five days of July, both to non-Japanese agents who were now helping them (Japan still had no agents of their own at that point), leaving eight in-country, all assigned to tech espionage. It was decided to stop sending any more into Japan, allowing the presence there to run down. The Spanish operation was switched back to 2/3 Communist Party support, 1/3 counter-espionage.

    6 July

    The Afghan Army made a sortie, occupying the Soviet frontier province of Kala I Mor, just north of Herat.

    7 July

    The Soviets attacked a Manchurian division in Gen He (north-western Manchukuo) in a battle that would end in a Soviet defeat on 9 July, with 442 Soviet and 363 Manchurian troops killed.

    8 July

    The spies in Japan stole some blueprints for coal to oil conversion, though lost another agent doing it.

    In Central Asia, the Caucasus Theatre’s lead elements had closed up to the western Afghan border by that afternoon, with more on the way, but the northern border was still sparsely manned.

    1uv4iE.jpg

    10 July

    By 1100hr, divisions of the 6th and 15th Armies had made more inroads into north-eastern Manchukuo and were so far unopposed. Their primary objective was Harbin (4 VP), the other key city being Mukden (2 VP). Also, the [AI] army commanders had crowded Vladivostok with air wings – though some were Japanese outfits that had yet to evacuate [didn’t check how many at the time]!

    0TQTUR.jpg

    11 July

    A short battle to retake Kala I Mor on the Afghan border was fought, the Soviet victory costing only one soldier, the Afghans losing 133.

    13 July

    After more spy casualties, the mission in Japan was down to six teams.

    A new transport flotilla joined 2nd Pacific Battle Fleet in Nikolayevsk na Amure, just in time to travel with the Pacific fleets to concentrate in Okha, where the bulk of the dedicated amphibious force would soon arrive after being forced out of southern Sakhalin. They would be on immediate notice to redeploy south, for an amphibious landing in southern Manchukuo, to then strike north to Mukden.

    XTNb0O.jpg

    That night, the drive on Harbin was progressing well, still without any opposition.

    t20Xtf.jpg

    14 July

    The day began with a new production project, one of five between then and 25 July as new units were deployed and supply demand continued to fall rapidly.

    cvVOXk.jpg
    And noting the submarine production cost and time came down with the second flotilla.

    Then late on 14 July, a diplomatic cable from Paris to Moscow announced a development that changed everything in the east – again.

    DPo9hB.jpg

    15 July

    The danger to Soviet interests of the Japanese entry into the war against Manchukuo for the Allies was soon obvious. Their units that had been transiting back through Manchukuo under truce now became active belligerents – mostly as French expeditionary forces! It also built a ‘wall’ of impassable French-controlled provinces in the path of the Soviet units driving on Harbin.

    bZCBGw.jpg

    In the south, there was an Allied occupied pocket next to Mukden and two viable ports to supply the planned Soviet naval invasion – which was now even more urgent than before.

    do43GT.jpg

    By that time, the four divisions of the amphibious corps had reached Okha and were loaded up. They would rebase to Vladivostok, then immediately set off for their next attempt at an amphibious invasion – against a country with no know navy or air force!

    Kah I Mor was retaken by the Soviet 9th Tank Div at 1800hr. At that time in the east, 15th Army was given orders to try to ‘shoot the gap’ to Harbin, through a narrowing corridor between Allied-controlled territory.

    owQz8W.jpg

    An attack began that night on Tamsog Baluk (in Mongolia) and had been won by the Soviets by early the next morning (30 Soviet and 124 Manchurian casualties).

    And at 2300hr, the Afghans took another Soviet border province – Tagtbazar, to the north-east of Kala I Mor.

    16 July

    Bad news came at 1300hr, with Allied forces (nationality unknown) seizing one of the two ports south of Mukden – Dandong, on the border with Japanese-controlled Korea. There was a range of mountains between there and Mukden anyway which would have slowed the advance, and another port south-west of Mukden: these would be the target of the approach naval landings.

    At 1900hr, the two fleets arrived in Vladivostok and set off again for the invasion beaches, having (instantaneously) rebased closer to their target: The open terrain of Dawa, on the quickest route to Mukden.

    Ygs4Sg.jpg

    17 July

    An attack on Yituhile (northern Manchuria) began at 1600hr, with three Soviet divisions (tanks, mechanised and motorised) attacking a single dug-in Manchurian infantry division. The battle would be the largest conducted in the east for the month, lasting three days until the Soviets triumphed on 19 July (171 Soviet, 1,569 Manchurian casualties).

    At 1500hr, Nancha was taken, but so too had Anda – by the Allies. The gap was now just one province wide, with the Japanese Allied troops marching to close it and the Soviets still two provinces away.

    dis8Ql.jpg

    18 July

    6th Army had simultaneously been ordered to make a desperate and very unlikely hook around the southern end of the ‘Allied fence’, but their lead units were still not in position on the approach from Vladivostok.

    oBlvKb.jpg

    And that night, the naval invasion of Dawa began. The idea was to then strike north to take Mukden using the supplies they brought ashore with them, while sending one division west to take Huludao for a resupply base. Later developments would cause the 1st Marine Corps commander, LTGEN Ivanov, to wish he’d thought of sending one of the divisions directly ashore to Huludao in a separate landing. But perhaps it wouldn't make any difference.

    A0kjEM.jpg

    19 July

    The Soviets began an attack to liberate Tagtabazar from the impudent Afghan Fascists that evening. It would last until the following morning, with the Soviets winning (114 Soviet, 111 Afghan casualties). This would prove to be the last combat action on either front for the rest of the month. None of the battles had received any VVS air support, which must have been either out of range or deemed unnecessary.

    20 July

    The Soviet troops were all ashore (except for the corps HQ, which would follow) in Dawa early that morning. They quickly fanned out to their respective objectives. And duly noted Allied forces had made progress from the border of Japanese-occupied China, now closing in towards Huludao.

    g6QlFU.jpg

    21 July

    A day later, the northern approach to Harbin had been cut off by the Allies at Daqing. The only remote chance was a ‘hook’ from the south. But that corridor was long, narrow and no Soviet troops were nearby, while the Japanese EFs were within easy striking distance of Harbin.

    lXDEqU.jpg

    In the south, it was a close race to see who could seize Huludao first. In a ‘double-play’, the Red Banner Pacific Fleet sailed from Nikolaevsk na Amure, where they had returned to pick up the follow-up force of three more divisions. In the unlikely event they may be able to get Huludao before either Allied or Soviet ground forces.

    HBd0Wh.jpg

    22 July

    Submarine interdiction doctrine was improved to level 3, allowing unrestricted submarine warfare doctrine to be researched.

    23 July

    Then the mission in Japan came up with another – this time rather useful – tech coup. As it happened, this would be the last new tech discovered for the month.

    p2W9tU.jpg

    After this second success for the month and with seven spare spy teams in reserve, a decision was taken to reinvest in the Japanese tech mission after all, even though Soviet strength there was down to only four. One way or another, Manchukuo would soon be out of the war and the mission there would no longer need to be maintained.

    cIeIHL.jpg

    Espionage training was raised from 1.00 to 1.23 LS, at the expense of diplomacy, which was reduced from 10.32 to 10.10 LS (ten of those being used for foreign influence missions).

    The Allies yet again showed they were a step ahead of the plodding Soviet war machine when Japanese marines to Huludao at 0700hr. On the positive side, Soviet marines arrived in Liaozhong two hours later and began the river crossing to Mukden.

    7Abhae.jpg

    Not that it would be ready for another 104 days, but work on a new deployable naval base was started at 0900hr. Recent events had shown one could be very handy in any future Soviet naval landing where a local port could not be secured.

    24 July

    A lot more IC was being progressively freed up from supply production and the completion of a new ‘heavy’ tank division (1 x ARM, 3 x MECH, 1 x SPART deployed on the German border) on 27 July, and now it was the turn of the Red Army to place a bagfull of new units into the production queue from 24 to 27 July. All three ‘fast’ divisions were designed for breakthrough operations in Europe.

    YZdSav.jpg

    25 July

    By 1500hr, Harbin had been sealed off by the Allies on three sides, with now no hope for the 6th or 15th Armies to breakthrough from the east, while the western armies were still many hundreds of kilometres distant.

    3qMHMO.jpg

    Two hours later, having just missed on taking Huludao and with units beginning to run out of supplies, the long-denied marines of 1 DMP finally had their moment in the sun: Mukden was taken!

    2xCJZ5.jpg

    26 July

    The inevitable happened at 2300hr on the 26th: the Allies marched into Harbin.

    4Jsn8w.jpg

    27 July

    It only took one hour for Manchukuo, the latest (and least) of the leaders of the Axis so far, to surrender unconditionally.

    Mq9EIU.jpg

    And once again, the Soviets were shafted by the settlement, forced to surrender all the territory they had seized to that point, not even getting a consolation prize. [At this point it occurred to me that perhaps @Wraith11B had hacked into my game with one of his 18 spare computers and was running the French remotely, such was their ability to forestall my every move :D.]

    The Allies would get All the Manchurian territory and remaining ground forces, creating a large and difficult barrier for any potential Soviet attempt to get to Korea and China in a future war against the Capitalist-Imperialist Pig-Dogs! [And I'm still wondering why, unlike say in Romania when the French got their slice, the Soviets don't get to keep any of the territory they seized when the peace came.]

    The now evicted 1st Marine Corps was put on trucks and began streaming east to Vladivostok, as the Allies would not grant them any nearby port access.

    28 July


    At 0100hr, Ethiopia finally gave up its status as a government-in-exile and formally surrendered to France, which installed a democratic regime and brought them into the Allies as well.

    Then the Soviets retook the briefly-occupied Tagtabazar on the border with Afghanistan at 1000hr.

    29 July

    The rapidly dwindling Axis lost another government-in-exile when Finland surrendered to the Soviet Union at 0200hr. They were given the unalloyed benefits of a Communist government and brought into the Comintern. At last, a small Soviet diplomatic victory!

    csAqfy.jpg

    But it was very far from a New Comintern World Order!

    O9KvRq.jpg

    I’m beginning to wonder whether it is even remotely possible, even with nukes. But we’ll try, anyway! Though if the eastern campaign is anything to go by, we’ll get absolutely pasted.

    At 0300hr, another naval base was put in the queue: optimists in the Navy and Marines thought they might one day need them in a future War in the East.

    31 July

    Afghanistan was now left as the sole Axis member. And they were only at war with the Comintern. This apparently led (rather ironically and/or humorously) to the US Government decided to give the USSR a massive boost in lend lease! It increased from around 70 IC to 183.7 IC over night! This raised Soviet IC to a total of 514, from 400, at a time when supply demand was at all-time lows, upgrades were around 37 IC and consumer goods about 31 IC and reinforcement requirements minimal.

    A massive production program was therefore commenced, for as long the US was prepared to bankroll it. Three more divisions and a deployable heavy AA battery were started for the Army.

    EjwQxj.jpg

    The VVS got a mix of three wings while the navy got another flotilla of submarines.

    KO72ew.jpg

    The month ended with units making for their new defensive lines in the east and no new battles in Afghanistan.

    e50aVg.jpg


    lvgbXS.jpg


    ******

    Intelligence Summary

    The intel situation saw Soviet spy numbers one under their required strength, with none in reserve, having lost nine teams in Japan during the month, five to Allied collaborators working for the Japanese police and four to the locals. National unity in Japan and Manchukuo were no longer being monitored. Tech remained the target in Japan while a new mission focus would need to be found for Manchukuo (currently split 50/50 between counter-espionage and disrupting NU).

    JC5pUO.jpg

    Despite Soviet efforts (renewed in Spain) there was no change to Communist support in either Turkey or Spain. Foreign spies caught infiltrating the USSR had fallen from the high of June back to 31 in July.

    ******

    Diplomatic Situation

    Afghanistan remained at war, but only with the Soviets, Mongolia and Sinkiang (Romania, Persia and Finland remained uncommitted). Turkish alignment was under 100 distant from the Comintern, but still well off the 50 required to invite them to join. The Allies were now influencing Xibei San Ma, but were not yet trying to do so with the Guanxi Clique of Yunnan.

    rvzlHr.jpg

    In terms of a potential future war with the Allies, the Western frontier spanned the border with the various Western European Allied puppets (Sweden being neutral). In the Middle East and Central Asia, Turkey was neutral, while Allied puppets Iraq and Pakistan bordered Comintern member Persia and of course the anti-Fascist war continued with Afghanistan.

    uFwz48.jpg

    In the East, the Soviet Union was back to ‘square one’, the old frontier with the Asian Axis partners now replaced with Allied puppets in Mengukuo (via Mongolia), Manchukuo and Japanese-occupied Korea and the land border with Japan in Sakhalin.

    AUZHa0.jpg

    All these theatres would need to be considered in a new war with the West. As would the best place to position strategic bombers for nuclear strikes on major front-line enemies, such as Japan and Germany.
     
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    Chapter 30 – August 1946

    Foreword

    By the end of July 1946, the last small vestige of WW2 was being fought between the Comintern and Afghanistan, the most recent country to join the Axis – and its last member. The Allies were now at peace.

    ******

    1 August

    Early August saw stasis on the Afghan front, while Soviet units withdrew to pre-war borders in the Far East after Manchukuo was forced into the Allies as a French puppet. The Soviets had completed about 30% of their second atomic bomb. For now, two of these was considered the absolute minimum they would need to try to knock Germany and Japan out of the Allied United Nations in a possible WW3. But an incentive for peace for now was the massive lend-lease aid the US was sending, allowing a significant build-up of the Soviet armed forces, coupled with rapidly reducing supply demand.

    The latest surplus IC was used to create another ‘heavy’ infantry division.

    qAcGGx.jpg

    A change of missions was ordered for the Soviet agents still in (Allied) Manchukuo and Japan, where the latter in particular was now awash with Allied agents, who were doing most of the counter-espionage work for the Japanese.

    Nv23U7.jpg

    3 August

    In a development that bemused Stalin, Nationalist China decided to liberate Communist China as a free state.

    qldMh4.jpg

    No doubt as both were Allied governments, but in RL? Never!

    That afternoon, more surplus IC was invested in new STRAT and CAS wings.

    honpXK.jpg

    5 August

    A new heavy infantry division, with a guards brigade and heavy tanks, was deployed to the Afghan border. Most of these went to the Western border, but the Caucasus Theatre was deemed to need a little more punch. It may be required later, if not against Afghanistan, then against Allied puppet governments in Pakistan of the Middle East.

    zAlzSP.jpg

    6 August

    The loss of agents in Manchukuo and the pointlessness of sending more, as the Allied governments began to swamp the Soviet mission there too, led to the reinforcement priority being zeroed. The efforts of the remaining agents were diverted to developing covert operations cells.

    That night, Afghan militia seized the unoccupied Mukry. To say Stalin was getting a bit impatient at these affronts and lack of action to take the fight into Afghanistan was a significant understatement. He began readying a cohort of political commissars to put a bit of steel into the commanders there.

    MHNROH.jpg

    7 August

    Two Soviet agents were neutralised in Japan by Allied operatives in a single day, making four in the first week of the month. This loss rate was deemed unsustainable, so the remaining agents ordered to solely focus on stealing more Japanese technology before they were eliminated. No more would be sent.

    8 August

    Finland announced it had begun to mobilise: old Field Marshal Mannerheim set up a new Theatre HQ as the first step.

    eNCFv5.jpg

    9 August

    New bombs were developed for the STRAT force, with air research efforts switched next to medium navigation radars.

    J1CT01.jpg

    10 August

    At 1100hr, the 1st Guards Division launched an attack to retake Mukry. This would succeed by 12 August, with the Soviets taking 70 casualties, the Afghan militia suffering 397.

    11 August

    Another development for the VVS saw training improved for TAC ground crew, with the doctrine writers moving onto NAV pilot training.

    eAdBpX.jpg

    By that time, supply production had been cut back to zero, and the stockpile was still at 100% and producing a small surplus most days. There were now eight V1 flying bombs awaiting deployment, but they remained held in reserve.

    [Question: Is there any point deploying them before they are used – I presume they just fly and then destroy themselves when they hit the target: or can they be shot down along the way? Would lack of organisation make any difference to that?]

    13 August

    Submarine hull development took another step forward and was now almost up to contemporary standards. Research would nonetheless continue to the next level.

    7KEPYf.jpg

    18 August

    Just when Stalin was reaching boiling point at the tardiness of the Theatre Commander to take any positive action against Afghanistan, a three-division attack (one INF and two GAR divs) was launched on the Afghan border province of Feyzabad (two provinces north-west of Kabul) against the regular Afghan Faizabad Infantry Division at 2000 hr. This battle would be the largest and longest of the month, taking a week to resolve.

    19 August

    The Soviet border province of Mukry was liberated at 0300hr, redressing its earlier brief seizure by the Afghan Fascists. This was followed two hours later by an attack on Afghan militia positions in Mardian. At last, the Soviets commanders were getting into gear. The battle went for three days, ending in Soviet victory early on 22 August (101 Soviet, 424 Afghan casualties).

    21-24 August

    The three Western border radar stations were upgraded again and the works continued to the next.

    mAMPWh.jpg

    More spare IC became available over the next few days as the unit upgrade bill reduced significantly, allowing four new projects to be commenced.

    UrFEDt.jpg

    25 August

    As the Soviet overseas espionage footprint was reduced, spy training was halved and the freed leadership effort shifted to officer training (capacity currently at 119%, but with many new divisions in production).

    oGzt30.jpg

    Victory was won in Feyzabad at 1000 hr after a tough seven day fight (Soviets 779/24,989 troops killed, Afghanistan 1,023/7,996).

    26 August

    Invasion tactics were once again advanced; there was a good chance they may still come in handy in the Far East, should war with Japan once again break out. But radars for the Soviets’ small ships would be developed next – an area that had been ignored until now. At least this equipment could be retrofitted to the older small ship classes of the primitive Soviet Navy.

    z2She6.jpg

    27 August

    At 2300 hr, Stalin finally got some news he felt showed the start of material progress, with the fall of Mardian to Soviet troops.

    nmws2b.jpg

    A series of Soviet probes would be launched on the Herat Cavalry Division in Khanabad over the next few days – none of which would succeed. The first saw garrison troops attacking that night, losing seven men to zero before it was called off after three hours.

    To the west of Mardian, the 28th Mountain Division began an attack on Afghan militia in Seberghan, also at 2300 hr. The fight would be won by 1400hr the following day (Soviets 30 killed, Afghans 175).

    As no air power had been able to be fielded yet due to a lack of airfields in range, one was built in Stalinabad. Apart from the name, this province was at the end of the best line of infrastructure in the region. Maybe the Theatre Commander would choose to relocate some wings there to help with a tough fight on difficult terrain. If not, at least the region now had an airfield.

    XNKekW.jpg

    28 August

    The radar station that had been held in reserve was deployed to the restored naval base of Vladivostok.

    qKJFVG.jpg

    The flurry of Soviet attacks continued at 0200hr, with a blitzing assault on the Afghan regular Herat Infantry Division in Qal 'eh ye Now (east of Herat) by 9 Tank and 19 Rifle Divisions. This battle would be won that afternoon at 1400 hr (44 Soviet, 201 Afghan troops killed), just as victory was being declared in Sheberghan.

    But another probe on Khanabad was quickly lost at 1800 hr with the same troops involved (three Soviet, no Afghan casualties).

    29 August

    More free IC was used to begin building a new radar station and merchantmen at midday.

    k176vl.jpg

    At 1900 hr, 152 Garrison Div attacked the Herat Cavalry in Khanabad for a third time in as many days – and once again failed to cause any Afghan casualties (Soviets 15 killed). This clearly wasn’t going to work – how long would it take the local Soviet commander to realise this?

    30 August

    Another NAV wing was queued that morning.

    l1jyk3.jpg

    At 1700 hr, 9 Tank Division turned its attention to Herat itself, attacking the Jalalabad Militia Division. They would be no push-overs though, with the battle still going at the end of the month.

    31 August

    152 Garrison Div attacked Khanabad for a fourth time at 1400 hr – they were nothing if not persistent. This time they lasted for five hours, losing 22 men but finally drawing blood against the Afghans, killing five of them before breaking off their attack yet again.

    ******

    Monthly Afghanistan Campaign Summary

    In August, after a slow start the Soviets had begun attacks across the northern border of Afghanistan from Herat to Feyzabad and had begun making some inroads towards the two key Afghan cities. Compared to the Far East, casualties were very light, of course, though the battle for Feyzabad had been a serious one. No air units had yet been deployed to support ground operations.

    cLudnZ.jpg


    ******

    Peacetime Theatre Summaries

    In the Far East, many Soviet divisions were still making their way back to home territory after the Manchurian surrender the month before. Some Japanese units were travelling to southern Sakhalin via Okha – all allowed under the surrender terms. To great Soviet frustration.

    kLksdL.jpg

    In the West, it was doom-stacks at ten paces along the most heavily militarised border in the world.

    0b4ah8.jpg

    The Polish border was far less solidly manned by the Allies – with most of the ‘Polish’ forces being (rather ironically) German expeditionary forces. Including a former SS division!

    xlQty3.jpg

    In Slovakia and Hungary, their own and a mixture of many other Allied EFs (including an Australian division) could be seen.

    i63vEy.jpg

    And Romania was a truly dystopian patchwork of French occupation zones and many Allied EFs, with a big Hungarian wedge in the middle and a seemingly large Yugoslavian Army lurking to the rear. If it ever came to blows here, it would be madness.

    y2cH3i.jpg

    And in the far north, the Norwegians had massed a large force on the northern border of Finland. Sweden remained neutral, but the border was still guarded.

    Ykavr3.jpg


    ******

    Other Monthly Reports

    On the diplomatic front, the Soviet influence program continued in Spain and Turkey, while the three remaining unaligned Chinese warlord states were gradually drifting towards the Comintern sphere at Soviet urging.

    It was also noticed that Persia had not joined the war with Afghanistan – they hadn’t been asked! Calls to arms were also sent to Romania and recent Comintern entrant Finland, to encourage wartime efforts in those countries - not because any contribution was expected.

    As ever, the biggest threat to the Soviet Union was assessed to come from Germany – the eternal enemy!

    VD14BT.jpg

    Foreign spy efforts in the Soviet Union were either easing – or not as many were being caught, with 27 neutralised during the month (including those by their overseas missions in Japan, Turkey and Spain). The Japanese mission was now over, with all the spies lost during the month - taken by Allied (not Japanese) agents, as had been the six lost in Manchukuo. The two former Axis nations had become a graveyard for Soviet spies. The political support missions in Spain and Turkey still made no headway at all – in fact Spain had regressed again.

    OXAXk1.jpg

    The Soviet quest for strategic weapons continued at a slow but steady pace. As at midnight on 1 September, the second Soviet nuclear weapon was 60% complete. There were eight V1s in the stockpile waiting to be deployed, while October would bring the development of the first strategic rocket prototype.

    VIKCyt.jpg
     
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    Chapter 31 – September 1946

    Foreword

    The Soviet war in Afghanistan (now, where have we heard about such things before?) had got off to a slow start. The Caucasus Theatre’s forces had to reposition themselves, drive out a few Afghan incursions, then start the difficult business of pushing back an Afghan Army that had established a thorough border coverage, albeit largely with militia units.

    Soviet atomic bomb production continued as Stalin nursed his grudge against France and its Allies for the predatory peace agreements they had made with Japan and Manchukuo, ruining the plans for revolution in the east using Japan as a Comintern puppet.

    ******

    1 September

    While the campaign against the (presumed) last Fascist regime ground on in Afghanistan, air bases along the western frontier were reviewed and selected ones expanded (radars shown under construction were queued previously). Of course, nothing could be done to improve the Romanian-run base in Bucharest.

    aCQaTi.jpg

    In Afghanistan, the battle for Herat (one of two Afghan VP provinces, with Kabul) continued from 30 August. To its east, the Afghans were retreating from Qal ‘eh ye Now, having been defeated there in August.

    PyQSHO.jpg

    A Soviet attack began on Zaranj, ending in victory (16 Soviet, 79 Afghan troops killed) the next day.

    3 September

    Qal ‘eh ye Now was occupied at 1500hr and Feyzabad (a few provinces north of Kabul) at 2200hr.

    A savage fight for Ishkashim (north of Kabul) began and would last until 9 September, with a Soviet victory (1,131 Soviet and 1,120 Afghan casualties). Yet another under-strength probe on Khanabad by Soviet garrison troops failed after a brief firefight.

    4 September

    No Soviet planes had been deployed to the new ‘bare bones’ air base in Stalinabad, but on 4 September a wing of Persian CAS appeared there! There was no observed evidence of them carrying out any missions during the month, however (I’ve left it to the AI to decide whether it wants to deploy any Soviet wings there).

    Sheberghan (north east of Qal ‘eh ye Now) was occupied at 2200hr.

    5 September

    The battle for Shindand began, ending the next day in a Soviet victory (35 Soviet, 88 Afghan casualties).

    At midday, 9 Tank Div reported it had occupied Herat – a major blow to Afghan morale. The advance was now gathering some pace, despite the difficult terrain.

    hbA2Ae.jpg

    At 2000hr Zaranj, in the far south-west corner of Afghanistan, was captured. The first wave of advances was over for the month – now the next objectives had to be fought for.

    9 September

    A new attack began on Khanabad, but this time with regular forces backing the push. The battle would be won by 13 September, costing 142 Soviet and 573 Afghan lives. A major sticking point on the advance to Kabul had been shifted.

    13 September

    Shindand, just south of Herat, was occupied at 1800hr.

    A hard-fought battle for Farah began in western Afghanistan, finishing on 16 September in a Soviet win (452 Soviet, 581 Afghan casualties).

    A second attack, this one for Taimani, was launched the same day. It would run for another six days, the Soviets winning another stiff fight (232 Soviet, 449 Afghan casualties).

    And a third attack, also in western-central Afghanistan, began. It lasted two days, the Soviet victory eventually costing 53 Soviet and 166 Afghan troops.

    14 September

    A new ‘general purpose’ infantry division was deployed to the far north of Russia, where there were concerns over a large build-up of Norwegian forces on the Finnish border.

    RONwzv.jpg

    A short skirmish for Delaram started that morning – it would be won early in the afternoon (no casualties). The map below shows extant battles and the difficult terrain they were being fought as at 1300hr.

    IqJEjh.jpg

    18 September

    Soviet manpower reserves stood at a massive 6,026,000 men. Almost all units were at full strength, with 75,200 new recruits being added each month.

    22 September

    A more serious fight for Delaram began when an Afghan division slipped in before it could be occupied. The Soviets prevailed on 25 September (147 Soviet, 165 Afghan casualties).

    23 September

    The next round of occupations began, with Farah (on the western Afghan border) falling to the Soviets at 2300hr.

    24 September

    Tokzar’s fall at 1700hr extended the Soviet advance further into the Afghan hinterland. The Soviets won a short battle for Gereshk (27 Soviet, 122 Afghan casualties).

    25 September

    The occupation of Taimani at 1400hr extended the advance further into the mountainous Afghan heartland.

    26 September

    Small air search radars were improved and the research teams were kept on the same project: night-fighting capability would be important in any confrontation with the high-tech Allied fighters in Europe.

    wOWyMw.jpg

    The V1 stockpile had grown to eight (I’ve decided for now to keep them in hand) and some new installations and units were ready to be deployed. The second Soviet rocket test site was completed, part of the secret facilities precinct in the forests and hills beyond Moscow.

    chvzRb.jpg

    The 4th Para Brigade was deployed in Vladivostok – it would combine with the rest of 2. Vod-Des Div when they completed a strategic redeployment from Tumnin. The transport aircraft would follow later, as the air base was heavily overcrowded.

    rr3kCE.jpg

    And the new INT wing was sent to Bresc-Litewski.

    LQYuhK.jpg

    The freed IC was used to build new units for all three services and some more infrastructure.

    QmaZwq.jpg

    The latest wave of occupations continued in western Afghanistan with Gereshk taken at 0800hr.

    27 September

    Delaram (north of Gereshk) was the next to fall into Soviet hands at 0600hr.

    28 September

    Infantry warfare doctrine was advanced, with attention turning next to improving mechanised warfare..

    pbScQQ.jpg

    29 September

    The last action of the month was fought and won by the Soviets in Tarin Kowt (a very familiar name to Australians from more recent experiences), with five Soviet and 31 Afghan troops killed.

    30 September

    As the month ended, the sweep through the west of Afghanistan had gathered pace. The way to Kabul from the north had been more heavily contested, but the two victories in Khanabad and Ishkashim plus the advance from the west, should pave the way for Soviet units to advance to the outskirts of Kabul in the first part of October 1946.

    tR6jRA.jpg

    The front line as at 1 September 1946 is in green, advances during the month in blue.

    In the Far East, most Soviet forces had returned to the pre-war boundaries. Some Japanese troops were still passing through northern Sakhalin.

    D1wgsl.jpg


    ******

    Industry, Diplomacy and Intelligence

    As at midnight on 1 October, the Soviets’ second atomic bomb was 90% complete. Nothing had been spent producing supplies all month, but the stockpile was maxed out and usually running at a daily surplus. The recent radar upgrades for fighter aircraft had increased the expenditure in that sector somewhat; it still remained fairly low for now, but meant a few of the most recently queued projects were on hold.

    HF59t9.jpg

    The Soviet spy mission in Japan had wound up in August. By the end of September, the last team in Manchukuo had been neutralised (all by Allied operatives) – only three covert ops points had been accumulated by the time of their demise. In both Turkey and Spain, the local counter-espionage agents had been kept well in check and no Soviet agents had been lost.

    c1wFXb.jpg

    But the political influencing efforts there had been swamped by other factors, with Communist political power in both countries reduced – in Spain, to nothing. Other than the three Spanish agents neutralised there, Germany, Japan and the UK were the principal powers trying to infiltrate the Soviet Union during September, but the overall rate (20) seemed to be slowing down markedly, to half the apprehensions that had been made at the peak in May (40) and June (42) 1946.

    The Soviet diplomatic influencing effort continued unabated. Spain was drifting a little more to the Allies than the Comintern, but Turkey was inching a little closer to the Soviet orbit. The Allies were now influencing Xibei San Ma, but the Guangxi Clique and Yunnan were moving steadily towards alignment with Moscow. Sweden was again self-aligning to the Comintern. At least this should continue to keep them out of the Allied camp for the foreseeable future.

    soRnMg.jpg


    ******

    Comparisons with the West

    Note: I tagged briefly to get some general statistical information that would probably have been reasonably well known in reality on the principal Allied members, either by size, manpower reserves or industrial capacity. This should broadly inform any discussions about The Next War.

    As a very broad indicator (and not really an accurate one especially where the US is concerned), here is a list of the top countries ranked by how many VPs they control. Once more, not getting Japan into the Comintern in particular was a low blow here. The Allies currently have this market all sewn up.

    JwpnHS.jpg

    And here is a list of some (selected) leading Allied nations, ranked by actual effective IC but also including MP reserves. The Soviet pool here is enormous. And again, the loss of Japan from the Comintern is being sorely felt. The massive lend-lease program from the US to the USSR will of course be lost once a war is declared – a powerful reason for taking some time and not rushing in. None of the other minor Comintern puppets would even figure in the top ten Allied countries (which this table does not list – India is in for its manpower).

    5nJBGa.jpg

    Here are the current armed forces summaries for the whole Comintern. Again, it really is pretty much a one-man show.

    nAZcc5.jpg

    The top 16 (by total brigades) Allied armies are listed below. Note, this will include many EFs, so that greatly distorts some of the sub-totals, but the overall picture is there to see. Germany is a major threat of course – so taking them out early and perhaps turning them into the Peoples Republic of Germany would be a great windfall, if it can be managed. Albeit with Berlin and maybe other cities reduced to radioactive ruins!

    BCtmxQ.jpg

    In the naval summary, the loss of the IJN to the Comintern cause is also starkly clear. While they may have taken many surface ship losses during the long war, they still maintain eight CVs and three CVLs! Oh, had they been available to contest the seas with the Allies. The puny Soviet fleet can currently not expect to do much in a war any time soon. Even a one-off naval landing against Japan could prove dicey, given recent experience.

    dinIUT.jpg

    In the air, general Soviet strength was similar (though lagging a little) to Germany and the UK. Again, Japan remained very powerful in this area too – including 16 CAGs. Germany was particularly strong in fighters.

    lQFVQe.jpg

    All in all, a fight with the West would stretch Soviet industry, military forces, supply lines on many fronts. But at least they had enough manpower to sustain themselves indefinitely.
     
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    Chapter 32 – October 1946

    Foreword

    The Soviets have begun to close the noose on Kabul in their war against the last Axis power. But the Afghan capital, with its mountains and forts, will likely be a tough nut to crack, if defended properly.

    The Soviets continue to build their airfield infrastructure on the Western Front as they prepare for the possibility of war with the Allies. And the second Soviet atomic bomb was 90% complete as November began.

    ******

    1 October

    The month began with another advance in submarine design, that would be persisted with as contemporary standards began to be achieved.

    ecg4Fl.jpg

    Three of the V1 flying bombs were finally deployed, in the hub at Brzesc Litewski. A new heavy AA gun emplacement was installed and another ordered while it got up to full operational efficiency.

    dFB4FP.jpg

    A few hours later, the four Soviet STRAT wings concentrated in Brzesc Litewski as well. They were reorganised into two groups of two wings each. They would be the delivery mechanism for the atomic bombs, so were now kept as a strategic reserve (ie under human command).

    In Afghanistan, Kandahar was occupied at 1400hr.

    3 October

    Mazar e Sharif was taken at 0800hr.

    4 October

    The night attack capability of Soviet medium bombers continued to improve and the research was extended. Submarine torpedoes were also upgraded, with effort being switched to subs' air warning equipment.

    y7aMXm.jpg

    9 Tank Div arrived in Tarin Kowt at 0300hr, as Soviet forces continued to close in on Kabul from the west.

    6 October

    The occupation of Bamian at 0100hr finally brought the Soviets to the borders of Kabul province. Just an hour later, the Soviets attacked Khanabad (directly north of Kabul) from three directions. The battle was soon and easily won (Soviets 7/24,981; Afghans 147/8415 killed) as the Herat Cavalry fled at 0600hr.

    7-8 October

    Two more techs were researched, with fighter pilot training switched to the first Soviet development of radar combat coordination on 7 October. A major breakthrough came the next day, with the first Soviet strategic rocket design produced for operational development. The rocket scientists were engaged next on improved structural designs to improve their range.

    3NoeEQ.jpg

    The first ‘test of type’ rocket – the SS-1 – began production an hour later. With its improved range, enormous speed and increased strategic damage, it would now supersede the older flying bomb models.

    LInitH.jpg

    By this time, supply production had to be restarted (at around 12 IC) as the stockpile began to erode.

    10 October

    9 Tank Div rolled into Mukur at midnight and kept heading east towards Ghazni, directly south of Kabul.

    That afternoon, the battle for Kabul began, with 19 SD attacking by itself from Bamian. The local commander’s aggressive intent could not be faulted, but the odds he faced were not promising.

    AOPcOr.jpg

    12 October

    As the battle for Kabul ground on, Spin Budak in the south of Afghanistan was occupied at 2300hr.

    14 October

    Medium tanks – the backbone of the Soviets’ main breakthrough divisions – got improved armour, with development switched to their engines next to bring them up to world leading standard. This would surely be necessary against the German and French Armies.

    8DHYDp.jpg

    Ghazni was occupied by the busy 9 Tank Div at 2000hr as the fighting for Kabul continued.

    15 October

    Lashkar Gah (in the south) fell to the Soviets at 1100hr. By 1700hr, 9 Tank Div had joined and reinforced the attack on Kabul, though the terrain was not to its advantage [24% progress].

    16 October

    Soviet destroyer design was also slowly being improved, ship armour research being continued to the next level.

    xvWoSF.jpg

    Qalat was taken at 0300hr, completing the conquest of southern Afghanistan.

    18 October

    As the Soviets continued to pound away at Kabul [38% progress], 28 SD marched into Khanabad at 1700hr.

    19 October

    The Caucasus Theatre Commander finally deployed some aircraft to the ‘bare bones’ airbase at Stalinabad. The CAS group was in range of Ghazni and Kabul, but did not perform any missions in support of attacks in Afghanistan before the month ended.

    PF5ISd.jpg

    21 October

    The marathon 11-day battle for Kabul ended with the Soviets withdrawing at midday, both sides taking considerable losses. But there was just a brief pause, with 28 Mountain Div – far better suited to the terrain – soon taking up the fight against the now weary Afghan defenders.

    kFAkJe.jpg

    23 October

    The air base at Brzesc Litewski got another upgrade and the next expansion was begun – with the radar and AA facilities already being improved. Soon after, a new INT wing was deployed there as well.

    czhn2d.jpg

    24 October

    The next round of air base builds in the other main theatre air hubs was completed the following morning. Two of those were continued, but Murmansk was left at level three.

    6iJubf.jpg

    At 0500hr, the second battle of Kabul ended in Soviet victory (Soviet 218/9000; Afghans 376/15,510 killed).

    27 October

    229 SD took Ishkashim, north-east of Kabul, at 1300hr. They were attacked soon after arriving by the divisions retreating from Kabul, but won the skirmish two hours later. The halting of those retreating divisions in Kabul caused a knock-on battle to start again there, also at 1300hr, as 28 Mountain Div had to again eject the Afghans from their capital.

    28 October

    The third battle for Kabul was won by the Soviets at 2200hr (Soviets 199/16,993; Afghans 211/23,500 killed). But the difficult terrain and often poor weather meant the Afghan capital would not be occupied before the month ended.

    Afghan Campaign Summary

    lU25Ed.jpg

    The front line as at 1 October 1946 is in green, advances during the month in blue.

    In the Far East, all Soviet forces had returned to the pre-war boundaries by the end of the month.

    ******

    Industry, Diplomacy and Intelligence

    As at midnight on 1 November, the Soviets’ second atomic bomb was constructed, with the third 20% complete. A small amount of supply production was still required to prevent depletion of the stockpile (which STAVKA wanted to keep high in preparation for any campaign in the West and renewed fighting in the Far East). Equipment upgrades were again soaking up considerable IC, meaning a number of projects at the bottom of the queue were not progressing. The first SS-1 rocket had been completed, but not yet deployed. And the new Soviet battleship [AI programmed], which had been on the slips for years, was finally nearing completion.

    vbXiqE.jpg

    Leadership remained primarily focused on research, but influencing operations still absorbed an unusually large amount of effort – though any ally that could be gained in either the West or East would be a great boost for the small Comintern grouping. Especially the three Chinese warlord states that the Allies were not yet trying to influence themselves. And the next level of nuclear research would increase the rate of bomb production by another 10% (to 40% of a bomb/month) when completed in late November.

    FmhESE.jpg

    In both Turkey and Spain, the local counter-espionage agents had been kept well in check and no Soviet agents had been lost. The one remaining Spanish team was neutralised. Communist Party popularity had risen back to 3% in Spain, but it remained static in Turkey. Germany, then Italy, followed by France, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK and the US had the most agents neutralised in the USSR that month. The overall monthly total (25) was up five from October.

    qF1rgF.jpg

    Spain was still drifting a little more to the Allies than the Comintern, and Turkey slightly more to the Comintern. The Allies had stopped influencing Xibei San Ma for now, with the Guangxi Clique and Yunnan continuing to move steadily towards alignment with Moscow.

    uznKWP.jpg


    ******

    Western Theatres – Initial Planning for War

    The three western Front Theatre HQs had their objectives set to start planning for operations.

    Archangelsk Theatre had 227,000 men available in three Army Groups (or Fronts in Soviet parlance) and their main task was to take the two isolated ports on the Norwegian border with Finland, which were heavily defended by the Norwegian Army.

    JLQ1Ly.jpg

    The Baltic Theatre had a narrow front line assigned, but it faced the huge Germany Army massed on the border of Eastern Prussia. It had 532,000 men assigned to two Fronts and was tasked with taking Königsberg and Danzig. They were optimistic about the relative combat power on the border, but these objectives would surely prove difficult to take. But without taking German territory, it was believed nuking Berlin alone would not be enough to force a surrender.

    lrIVi6.jpg

    By far the longest sector was assigned to the Lwow Theatre, stretching all the way from Poland down to the Black Sea. As noted before, it was a patchwork of many different nationalities, many of which had the units of other Allied nations assigned as expeditionary Forces. The commander here too, though he would like more brigades and air units, seemed optimistic about his relative strength to the Allies. Poland in particular was quite thinly held and Romania a mess. Marshal Pisarevskij’s 826,000 men had a host of objectives assigned, from Warsaw in the north down to Sofia and Varna in Bulgaria in the south.

    llsKsO.jpg
     
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    Chapter 33 – November 1946

    Introduction

    Kabul is close to being occupied as Soviet forces advance on it. Preparations continue on the Western Border with Allied Europe for a possible future conflict. And Soviet nuclear and rocket scientists continue to develop the new ‘super weapons’ that Hitler used to boast about but that the USSR now already has.

    ******

    Afghanistan and the Middle East

    As the advance on Kabul continued, at 0600hr on 7 November 9 Tank Div, advancing from Ghazni, encountered Afghan Army stragglers in Jalalabad. The enemy had no desire to fight and ran. But not before the Soviet CAS wings based in Stalinabad made their first and only bombing run of the Afghan Campaign, causing the fleeing troops over a hundred casualties.

    ly2puB.jpg

    Three days later, Soviet mountain troops were the first into Kabul. At midnight on , the last Axis country surrendered, officially ending the Second World War on 11 November 1946 - 28 years to the day after the end of the Great War.

    SO1aPS.jpg

    The Afghan Army now switched sides to the Comintern, but the massive US Lend Lease ended.

    Persia and Afghanistan were next given (or had re-confirmed) some objectives (defensive and offensive) to plan for.

    WmUGwM.jpg

    And the Caucasus Theatre began to reorganise and give new objectives to its three armies. The small 4th Army, until that point a reserve 'holding' formation, was allocated three garrison divisions to allow a token defence along the Turkish border (Turkey remaining firmly neutral a mainly pro-Comintern for now). They would later receive a corps HQ to control them directly.

    o1kGq1.jpg

    The 13th Army was allocated 106,000 men in three corps and tasked to defend the border with Iraq (an Allied puppet state). They should have some Persian support for the mission.

    2LGza8.jpg

    The 19th Army, with about 80,000 men in two corps, would guard the border with Pakistan (also an Allied puppet), where some British troops had already been spotted.

    qVAMcv.jpg


    ******

    Post-War Industry

    The end of the war brought a legal changes, the main effects of which were to reduce production capacity (on top of the loss of Lend-Lease), recruiting (the latter not a great worry, given the massive trained manpower surplus) and officer training (more of a detriment).

    KYvNv3.jpg

    There was also a warning that keeping the Army mobilised during peacetime would be ‘very costly’ – though how much was not clear. [Anyone recall what the impost is?]

    The net effect on production of the legal and lend-lease changes was to take around 230 IC off headline IC. Consumer goods requirements also rose sharply, while supply production needed to be increased significantly: especially with all the redeployments going on, including on the Western Border where a major consolidation and reorganisation had commenced. New unit production was slashed and most projects were relegated to ‘below the line’.

    2tc1af.jpg


    ******

    General Events

    Finland announced it was mobilising on 13 November – a small but welcome development.

    FNnFhd.jpg

    The ‘new-old’ and gleamingly obsolete battleship Sovyetsky Soyuz was commissioned on 17 November into the Red Banner Pacific Fleet, giving each of the two Pacific battle fleets a battleship as flagship. And the fast 27th Tank Div was deployed into the Lwow Theatre on the Polish border.

    jtF5Q7.jpg

    War Ministry officials advised that upgrading the entire air fleet to jet engines (which would no doubt be massively expensive) should commence in three months, on 26 February 1947.

    As the paratroop forces were concentrated in the Far East, it was realised on 26 November that another transport wing would be needed to provide enough airlift for the recently expanded four-brigade para division. This project was put to the top of the queue to ensure maximum effort.

    YJuF8M.jpg

    That day, another new INT wing was deployed in the West.

    xUGYIf.jpg

    Before this, a number of VVS groups of various types had been transferred from the Far East back to the west and put under command at Army HQ levels. Many of these orders had to be disabled when they were rotated between airfields so frequently they became almost completely disorganised [the AI just went crazy with them: I’ll have to re-assign them once WW3 beckons].

    ******

    Monthly Summaries

    Research. Three technical advances – one of them in the crucial area of nuclear bomb production – were made during the month. Though that was temporarily suspended as it was running way ‘ahead of time’ (the next advance wouldn’t have come for another 11 months).

    2TOmrB.jpg

    Intelligence. The apprehension of foreign agents continued its downward trajectory. The missions in Spain and Turkey had gone well, with no Soviet agents lost (there’s a 1/3 c-e, 2/3 party influence mission in each) and some good progress made on local Communist party support – especially in Spain.

    8LgFed.jpg

    Production. The large-scale (and continuing) post-war redeployments had increased supply consumption markedly, driving down the stockpile and forcing a further increase to supply production. A reserve of infrastructure and strategic weapons awaited deployment when required. The third Soviet nuclear device should be ready on 1 January 1947 (after the recent increase in bomb-making capacity to 0.4 per month).

    HHeyyC.jpg

    Diplomacy. The diplomatic report showed the Axis was now defunct – although Saudi Arabia remained that way inclined. The three Chinese warlord states were still moving steadily towards the Comintern orbit, but Spain and Turkey could draw no closer given countervailing Allied influence.

    u2UW6v.jpg


    ******

    Central and Far East Asia

    As November ended, forces in the Caucasus Theatre were gradually making their way (all under AI auspices) to their new deployment zones.

    sNhzsl.jpg

    The Far Eastern Theatre’s forces – 751,000 ground troops and almost all the Red Navy – had essentially been in position since October. Marine and paratroop formations were kept under Theatre (ie human) control.

    ******

    General Reorganisation

    The mid-November general reorganisation in the west had generally evened up the sizes of armies somewhat (which would be under AI control), culling out some excess HQs, getting rid of single-division corps, etc. Each Front (ie Army Group level) was given a relevant geographical designation.

    These objectives, stances and some organisational details would be refined as time went on: the initial tasks (mainly commenced mid month) were to get formations into position and (hopefully) settled down by the beginning of 1947.

    UsmtmV.jpg

    The general situation on the Western border, as at end November 1946 – excluding Finland

    ******

    Archangelsk Theatre

    27ya Army (the larger of the two in the Archangelsk Theatre) was given the offensive objective of the sole Norwegian port in the north – Kirkenes. 17th Army would take on a defensive role for now.

    DoSnur.jpg


    ******

    Baltic Theatre

    This theatre had six armies under the command of two Fronts, facing off against the massive German presence on the border with East Prussia. A mix of defensive and offensive preparation missions were assigned to get units into position, but these would be adjusted once an operational contingency plan had been fully formulated.

    The South West Front had 26ya, 8ya and 20th Armies assigned.

    FukM2H.jpg


    jOptg8.jpg


    FnZR9I.jpg

    The Leningrad Front had 13ya, 3rd and 18th Armies assigned.

    3R995i.jpg


    XAInYQ.jpg


    NXQBvZ.jpg


    ******

    Lwow Theatre

    This large theatre had ten armies under the command of three Fronts facing Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Allied defences arrayed against them ranged from thin to dense and – in Romania – chaotic.

    The Polish Front had four armies assigned – 14ya, 23ya, 9th and 6th – each with offensive objectives. A nascent operational plan was to see if the large German concentration of forces in East Prussia could perhaps be encircled by an offensive through Poland, perhaps aiming for the Baltic coast around Danzig.

    9ihFMO.jpg


    ngzshE.jpg


    oSDNsp.jpg


    ojlxYJ.jpg

    The smaller Hungarian Front had a similar role envisaged, to breakthrough on concentrated frontages towards Bratislava and Budapest in depth, via Kosice and Debrecen as intermediate objectives. It had two armies – 5ya and 10th – under command for these tasks.

    I1qzA9.jpg


    r9DPWP.jpg

    The sprawling Romanian Front had four armies under command – 10th (may have to rename that), 8th, 12th and 1st. They faced some heavy concentrations of Allied troops – including French forces either under their own control or in expeditionary forces – and some sparsely defended frontiers. For now, they had a range of ambitious offensive objectives in an often chaotic hodgepodge of gory borders.

    Z9k2wr.jpg


    A5B7Tw.jpg


    XrSfnF.jpg


    zWBGQF.jpg


    ******

    December would see another re-assessment of operational tasks, production priorities, diplomatic and intelligence efforts. A plan of manoeuvre and broad timeline would need to be devised for Operation Unthinkable on the West.
     
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    Chapter 34 – December 1946 to February 1947

    Introduction

    With WW2 over after the defeat of Afghanistan on 11 November 1946, the Soviet Union reverted to peacetime conditions – albeit an armed peace. Nukes and other strategic weapons were being built while Soviet forces in the Caucasus Theatre reorganised themselves along the Iraqi and Pakistani borders. In Europe, the recent army reorganisation was largely complete, though some units were still shuffling into position.

    jdOcfx.jpg

    Recap: the peacetime economy as at 12 November 1946, with the removal of some wartime laws and the massive US lend-lease windfall and with the Red Army still mobilised.

    ******

    December 1946

    The decision was taken on 1 December 1946 to wait for the introduction of jet engines to the VVS (due in late February 1947) and the subsequent upgrade of all wings before launching a possible WW3. This would also, it was argued, allow units in Persia and Afghanistan in particular to reposition after the end of the last campaign of the war, as both Iraq and Pakistan were members of the Allies.

    fBLEBb.jpg

    Note: Demobilisation released 264,000 troops back into the manpower pool. It would take 534,600 to re-mobilise reserve formations. Even if there was some transfer cost in manpower, the vast Soviet reserves could cope with that easily. It was advised that demobilising would ‘reduce the strain on the economy’, but this was not necessarily apparent afterwards …

    1DUmie.jpg

    Note: there was no change in the consumer goods demand compared to mid-November.

    The supply stockpile, which STAVKA wanted to see at 100% if possible when war was declared, had sunk to under 78,000 units. Supply production was increased to try to boost it. With upgrade costs, this left new production much reduced from its wartime heyday.

    On 4 December, it was finally decided to change training laws to ensure the highest level of starting experience for any new formations, even if in took longer for them to train.

    2lBiab.jpg

    On 11 December another battery of heavy AA guns was added to the strategic air base of Brzesc Litewski (to level 2, production renewed for level 3).

    On 12 December, four more SS-1 missiles were ordered (and put to the top of the queue) as the technology to improve their range was soon due.

    m8cGSo.jpg

    It was also noted that supply demand seemed to keep increasing, quicker than production was creating it. By 12 December the stockpile was down to a little over 71,000 and supply production was increased to 80 IC.

    Four technical advances were made in December: one line of research was continued (NAV pilot training was still well behind contemporary standards) while three new lines were switched to.

    tIMhCy.jpg


    ******

    January 1947

    As 1947 began, the redeployment in Persia and Afghanistan was partially complete.

    8oHzOa.jpg

    And the third Soviet nuke was completed (3.00 as at 1 Jan 47). But by 5 January, the supply situation had continued to worsen, the stockpile down to under 72,000. Supply production was increased to 100 IC (35.6% of the economy) to try to arrest the slide. The production project allocation fell to 72.6 IC.

    The commanders in the Far East had assessed their objectives as given (Manchuria and Korea) and 16th Army in particular had created an extraordinary concentration of forces where the border adjoined both by 11 January.

    XVTO2W.jpg

    As long as they could be supplied – and were not embarrassingly cut off – they could well sweep all before them and quickly knock Manchukuo out of the war and liquidate Japanese occupation of Korea. And then the impact of China and other Allied expeditionary forces could be anticipated to strike later on.

    Various production projects were completed and some continued during the month, as supply demand and upgrades requirements continued to whittle away at the amount of IC available for production.

    • On 2 January, new air base upgrades were finished in Kaunas (to level 4), Stanislawow (level 6) and Brzesc Litewski (level 5). Each was renewed to the next level and put to the top of the queue.
    • The same day, the RADAR installation at Brzesc Litewski (to level 6) and air base at Jaworow (to level 2) were completed, but neither was renewed.
    • On 5 January, RADAR installations were upgraded at Kaunas and Lwów (both level 6), with neither being renewed. That brought the RADAR coverage across the Western Front to a good level, both for observation of enemy forces in depth and also (hopefully?) to aid with air operations.
    • On 14 January, level 3 AA batteries were installed at Brzesc Litewski and the next level commenced.
    • 15 January saw the next four SS-1s were completed. The first, delivered earlier, was deployed near the front line in Suwalki, the rest held back for now.
    Kre2fR.jpg

    Supply continued to be a problem, as the stockpile steadily eroded (down to under 60,000 by 20 January), production increased and the build queue suffered. Now half of the economy was directed at producing supply (140 IC), with only 31.5 IC left for projects. This was still not enough, supply production increased to 150 IC on 25 January.

    As the month drew to a close, the supply stockpile had slid below 50,000 despite all this. With the upgrade bill sitting at over 40 IC, all remaining production was sunk into supplies, halting all projects in the queue, just to keep it at around 140 IC.

    TPbz9z.jpg

    The increased upgrade bill had been caused by a series of technical advances that month, many of which led to implementation costs. As the Five Year Plan was forced to adjust to these new circumstances, research on new industrial production techniques was restarted on 3 January, supply production on 27 January and industrial efficiency on 30 January.

    5lCfNo.jpg


    ******

    February 1947

    The Persian redeployment was substantially, but not wholly, completed by 1 February.

    lHER7r.jpg

    Diplomatically, it was noticed that while the three Chinese warlord states had too much neutrality to agree to join the Comintern, even though their alignment was beginning to get quite close. The threshold it had to be below was 25, and the Guangxi Clique was at 50.9, Xibei San Ma at 40.03 and Yunnan at 38.01. Either the UK or France tended to be their highest perceived threat, so trying to mount a spy mission to increase their perceived threat was likely to be prohibitively costly in spies. The Soviets were at a bit of a loss as to what more they could do themselves to shift these equations. [If anyone has any bright ideas that don’t involve tagging, cheats or save file editing, I’d be glad to hear them!]

    The month was fairly uneventful, with no IC available for production possible for most of it; the regular apprehension of spies and technical advances were the main ‘entertainment’.

    One useful event came on 25 February that would provide a useful economic boost for next three months: someone had managed to find some remnant private sector to nationalise!

    GWf1Fe.jpg

    The much awaited completion of operation jet engines came on 26 February. The upgrades (costing almost 30 IC) started rolling out immediately: some future research would have to be directed to improving fuel tanks again, with drop tanks already introduced. But the Soviets were more interested in better performance at closer ranges in Europe, so were willing to wear that drawback for now.

    ngCfVn.jpg

    Four other technical advances were made during the month, with more changes to improve ballistic missile ranges sought and the next generation of computing machines put under development to further enhance research efficiency on 23 February.

    TyDIzj.jpg

    The espionage battle had continued to de-escalate post-war, with only 40 Allies agents neutralised over the last three months. Japan, Germany and the UK had been by far the most active, accounting for almost half the numbers caught between them.

    CP17vv.jpg

    The missions in Spain and Turkey had gone well enough, with all agents in Spain now working on boosting the local Communists. This, and perhaps an easing off in the efforts of Allies agents of influence, had seen the Party there become more popular than ever. After an initial dip, and with only one third of effort currently directed at influence in Turkey, even that had seen an increase in Communist popularity, after an initial dip in December.

    Nuke production had ticked up to 80% of a fourth weapon as March began. Otherwise, supplies continued to run down now upgrades were taking so much IC and the amount directed to supply production had to be decreased. Also, consumer price costs had increased again, putting further downward pressure on military-directed production.

    eEEuYJ.jpg

    During this time, any foreign trade deal where supplies had been offered for cash had been taken up, whether from neutral or Allied powers (not all are shown on the graphic). The Soviet Trade Minister had sought out deals with the US and others with large supply surplus production, but had not found any takers.

    In Western Europe, the Foreign Ministry made an assessment of the national unity of five of the front line Allied members/puppets facing the Soviets in an initial onslaught. If nukes and the occupation of some key German cities could see them knocked out of the war and turned to the Comintern without having to destroy their army, it would be a massive bonus. And perhaps the only slender hope the Comintern had of winning a conflict.

    9MASvp.jpg

    The Persia/Afghanistan redeployment was nearing completion: both fronts may prove problematic against the Allies in a future conflict, but the main efforts had to remain directed at Europe first and Far East Asia second.

    jaVeXo.jpg

    There, the national unity of both Pakistan and Iraq was assessed as reasonably solid; and of course a swathe of other decolonised Allies puppet states sat behind them.

    HqtToB.jpg

    In the Far East, the national unity of Manchukuo and Japan remained very shaky: not too much would be needed to push them into surrender, Mengkukuo less so (but it was weak and exposed).

    eP3TgZ.jpg

    The nightmare of trying to gain victory over an Allied-supported China (even if the warlord states could be lured into the Comintern) was not even contemplated as yet: first things first.
     
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    Chapter 35 – March to May 1947

    Introduction

    Stalin waits for the conversion of the VVS to jet-powered aircraft before contemplating a new war against the Allies to ‘properly’ establish a new world order based on a Communist revival. He also has an eye on the dwindling supply stockpile – a large concern given experience in the Far East (which will again be an active war zone) and the anticipation of widespread operations in Europe and Central Asia.

    ******

    March 1947

    As March began, a sample of front-line VVS wings on the Western Front showed the upgrade process was in its early days.

    GHi664.jpg

    NB: we've given up complaining about all CAS aircraft looking like Stukas! :rolleyes:
    A change was made to dispositions in the Baltic Theatre, with the 18th Army no longer tasked to blast through to Königsberg. Instead, while most of the Theatre’s armies would hold on the defensive, the 18th was allocated now objectives in northern Poland, designed to strengthen the proposed encirclement operation aiming to cut off the mainly German and French forces in east Prussia if at all possible. It would take some days for the army’s formations to switch south to their new starting positions.

    DibWog.jpg

    A Soviet spy was neutralised in Turkey on 7 March, causing the counter-espionage effort there to be raised to 50/50 with Communist party support. The Turks had one spy in the field at that time.

    Stalin’s agents sought commonly available information on the key Allied air forces in Europe to ascertain whether they were converting to jet engines and, if so, how far they seemed to have progressed.

    qvnqva.jpg

    The Germans had switched to jet propulsion, but their conversion was patchy as yet. Some wings were fully converted, while others were at various stages. Later analysis determined this was due to industrial shortages preventing full upgrades programs. Neither the French Air force nor the RAF had begun to adopt jet propulsion as yet.

    By 19 March, VVS interceptors (which seemed to be converting the quickest) were at around 38% conversion.

    Over March, three research projects were concluded. The range of the strategic bombers would be increased, but given recent and expected demands, supply transportation replaced it. An eye was on the introduction of air-to-air missiles for the fighter arm, but further rocket engine research (then in progress) was needed to begin that project. The rest of the research (completed and new) was in land doctrines designed to improve the combat efficiency of the Red Army in a coming conflict.

    TzCsVZ.jpg

    During March, upgrade costs (largely driven by the jet engine introduction) reached new heights. With Stalin adamant that consumer goods must be maintained to the people to prevent dissent, what was left went into supply production. None was available for production projects, while even that level of supply production could only keep the supply stockpile fluctuating around the 50% capacity mark by mid-month.

    2ECTRp.jpg


    ******

    April 1947

    A Soviet spy was neutralised in Spain on 4 April, causing the counter-espionage effort there to be re-raised to 1/3, the rest still going into Communist party support (which had been at 100% of late). The Spaniards had one spy in the field at that time.

    Another general survey of peacetime Western political and industrial conditions was made in mid-April. The French Government was now headed by President Daniel Mayer, with old Léon Blum back as Prime Minister. De Gaulle’s winning of the Second World War had not been enough to keep him in office.

    k7gXOk.jpg

    The three leading Allied economies were also surveyed. France maintained a healthy production schedule, will full supply and fuel stockpiles. The US economy was huge, of course, and their supply and fuel situations were easily managed. The British had plenty of fuel but had virtually no supply stockpile, with supply production seemingly still badly underfunded, their upgrade program also being underfunded.

    yVnyIM.jpg

    The three main former-Axis countries all seemed to have chronic supply and fuel shortages, especially Germany and Italy. This was something the Soviets hoped to take advantage of in the future. The Germans technical developments had, with their loss in the previous war, obviously completely outstripped their ability to upgrade equipment for formations, explaining the slow rate of jet engine conversions for wings that still required them. Japanese fuel supplies were healthier, but supply holdings were still very low. Both the Japanese and German economies were both being held back by a lack of rare materials, while Italian energy holdings were also near zero.

    A5xtjD.jpg

    A diplomatic assessment soon after revealed that both Xibei San Ma and Yunnan were now closely enough aligned to the Comintern to join it, if their neutrality hadn’t been too high [the calculations for which I can’t seem to reconcile with the threat figures shown]. The Guangxi Clique was moving in the same direction, while Spain and Turkey still seemed stuck in their holding pattern.

    DtzAMJ.jpg

    By 23 April, some of the VVS Yak-15 INT wings had completed jet conversion, with one MiG-15 M/R FTR wing sampled at 89.6%, a Tu-4 STRAT wing at only 44.8% and a Tu-2 TAC wing at 56%.

    A Turkish spy was finally neutralised on 29 April, but by then three Soviet teams had been neutralised by them since the beginning of March.

    Four tech advances were made in April, with naval effort being redirected to air force training, while civil defence was again to be upgraded in anticipation of coming battle casualties. The first improvement of rocket engines for the V2s (SS-1s) allowed a2a missiles to be researched.

    25jiGZ.jpg

    By early April, the upgrade bill had reduced markedly, but so had the supply stockpile, despite a steady increase in IC allocated to producing it. By mid-April, the supply stockpile had still dwindled but had stabilised at just under 40,000, as upgrade costs continued to reduce. Improved industrial production had increased total output to just over 300 IC.

    WCVMst.jpg


    ******

    May 1947

    Production was resumed in a minor way on 1 May, allowing the three main front-line air bases in the West to resume their upgrade programs as the major upgrade program headed further towards completion.

    ab3CR2.jpg

    By 16 May, most MiG-15 FTR wings had completed conversion, but the Tu-2 TAC wings were around 79%.

    Then on 19 May, the Guangxi Clique joined the other two warlord states in being close enough to join the Comintern but too neutral for any offer to be accepted.

    On 20 May, a fifth Soviet spy was captured in Turkey since 1 March, with their domestic spy strength now up to three. Soviet counter-espionage was increased to 100% of the mission. At the same time, the small amount of leadership dedicated to spy training was increased from 0.34 to 0.5, as the reserve had shrunk to just three spies.

    An intelligence assessment of Germany (the principal initial land opponent in the west and key target to knock out of the war early) showed their rare material (0), supply (28) and fuel (6) stockpiles empty or almost so. Their manpower stood at 1,530,000, officer ratio at 138% and national unity sitting on 65%.

    By 31 May, most medium bombers (TAC and NAV) in both the West and Far East had been converted to jet aircraft, while light aircraft (INT, FTR and CAS) had completed it. The STRAT wings however were lagging further behind – though that would not stay Stalin’s hand so long as the main combat and combat support wings were done.

    EAr8s7.jpg

    Intel reports on the Luftwaffe indicated that the wings based nearer to Prussia were further behind in their conversions: in Königsberg the Me-262 FTRs were at around 40% and the Ar-234B TAC 26.4%. In Stettin though the TAC were fully converted, as were the Focke-Wulf Ta-183 INT in Hanover. And of course those aircraft not in range when a war broke out could soon be rebased further east.

    Submarine dispositions in the Far East were also reviewed. All the subs were now designated as Level VI ‘Romeo’ class boats, but the engines and hulls of the oldest five surviving flotillas were still of the old type, so only retained an operational range of 800km. They were rebased from Petropavlovsk Kamcackij to Innokentevsky to be closer to possible interdiction targets in and around Japan.

    fKyxbE.jpg

    The longer range squadron remained behind and awaited the resumption of sub building to take up again – which it would soon. The squadron’s range was currently limited to 1,700km, though the two newer flotillas had an extended range of 2,600km.

    DEl3JJ.jpg

    At this time, Marshal Georgiy Zhukov was made Armament Minister, even as supply demand was finally almost zeroed out. Stalin should probably have done it a bit earlier, but his predecessor had been assisting jet and nuclear research. However, as those branches were now established to the Soviets’ satisfaction and supply demand was bound to escalate once war came again, Zhukov should be able to assist in that regard once mass movements were once more afoot.

    kFsph9.jpg

    It had been a bumper month for technical advances, with eight made across a range of disciplines. A few were maintained: NAV pilot training and fighter ground control were both well behind contemporary standards, while supply production could always do with boosting. But otherwise, naval research was suspended, with emphasis going further to land doctrines and VVS-related topics.

    X9Y70K.jpg

    The resumption of production earlier in the month saw the three busy front-line air bases on the Western Front improved as May drew to a close.

    bplbjM.jpg

    With little movement along the borders, better processes and a lot of supplies being returned to the stockpile, as the month continued that stockpile grew rapidly, so that by the end of the month it was at 100% capacity.

    4apKlJ.jpg

    With the upgrade bill also declining, this meant a commensurate ramping up during the month of the production queue. As noted before, it was raised to 7 IC on 1 May, then to 10 on 3 May, 20 on 14 May, 25 on the 17th, 50 on the 29th (despite the end of nationalisation bonus bringing total IC back from 302 to 286) and 122.34 IC on 31 May.

    The general resource and industry allocations as at 1 and 14 May are shown below.

    hm8JZs.jpg

    And by midnight on 1 June, the entire spare IC amount could be devoted to production. Five nukes had been completed and the supply stockpile was full.

    nu9ecv.jpg

    The intelligence summary showed it had been a rather rough three months for the NKVD overseas, while at home the total enemy neutralisations were declining, and increasingly were coming from the major Allied powers, led by the UK, Germany, Italy and Japan. But Communist Party strength in Turkey and Spain had never been higher. [Question: How much do you need before a coup attempt, for example, would have any chance of working if the covert ops points were available? I’m unfamiliar with the mechanic.]

    V2p5xf.jpg


    ******

    Current Dispositions – Western Front

    With the 18th Army now repositioned, Plan Mercury saw a strong drive along the Polish-Prussian border towards Torun and then up to Danzig in a large envelopments of the main German-Allied army deployed in East Prussia. Orders and objectives would be refined before any hostilities opened, but the concept of operations called for the Soviet forces on the Prussian border to hold and defend while the encirclement was executed. Some limited attacks could be necessary if holding the enemy in place became necessary, or they began a wholesale retreat that might be exploited. A complementary drive across central Poland to Lodz and Warsaw was also part of the plan.

    rzMi0I.jpg

    Plan Mercury.

    The Slovakian-Hungarian sector was more heavily defended than Poland by the Allies and may require a defensive setting to start with.

    qJMeRI.jpg

    Romania was the usual border-gory chaos it had been since 1944. Both sides had exposed units and risks and no outcome here could be easily predicted. An invasion of lightly defended Bulgaria was still being contemplated, but elsewhere consolidation and defence would probably be required.

    7CeLGN.jpg

    The Middle East- Central Asian theatre had been reviewed previously and was likely to end up being a backwater, secondary sector until the progress of the main fighting anticipated in Europe and the Far East was clearer. The same applied to the Archangelsk Theatre.

    The Far East saw the heaviest concentration of Soviet forces in and around Vladivostok, where most naval and air assets were also concentrated. The hope here was for a quick knock-out and puppeting of Manchuria before heavy Chinese forces could deploy. The rest of the Soviet forces were supplementing Mongolia’s defence against the now French puppet states of Manchuria and Mengukuo.

    QLQBaH.jpg

    Ultimately, it was hoped Japan could be defeated and brought into the Comintern as a puppet state, as had been the intention during the recent Second World War.

    A noticeable build-up of Japanese forces had been notices on the short border with their Korean holding. The main question was could the massive grouping of Soviet forces in the Vladivostok sector drive through the thin Allied screen to knock Manchuria out of the war quickly, before Chinese forces poured through, while also holding the Japanese off on the Korean border.

    Lpqkhq.jpg

    Khabarovsk itself was now very lightly held. It may be necessary for a corps to be detached and allocated under Theatre HQ (ie human) control to establish a basic screen in this area, so another cutting-off of the main armies around Vladivostok did not occur, as had happened disastrously to the Japanese in WW2.

    OEC8fQ.jpg

    Things were drawing close the point now where Stalin would need to decide whether to pull the trigger or pull back from the brink. His first call would be when to re-mobilise the reserve units. His finger hovered over the figurative red button …
     
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    Chapter 36 – June to August 1947
  • Bullfilter

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    Chapter 36 – June to August 1947

    Introduction

    As June began, Stalin’s broad timetable was to begin the invasion before the end of the month, as soon as the front line VVS wings had completed their conversion to jet power. As things transpired, alternate reality (mainly a game crash and AI shenanigans) got a bit of a mugging …

    ******

    June 1947

    The Soviet armed forces began to mobilise at midnight on 1 June.

    oqN0B8.jpg

    In the east, 50th Corps was detached from the 15th Army and allocated to new positions in and on either side of Khabarovsk, under direct Theatre HQ (human) control. Them reaching their new positions became another factor affecting any war declaration timing.

    piOAmF.jpg

    Given the low national unity under the French-led puppet regime in Manchuria, it was determined that seizing Harbin alone would be sufficient to force a surrender. This would now be the key Soviet focus in planning the eastern offensive.

    rHm1NF.jpg

    For Mengukuo, Hohhot was their only VP city, but it was some provinces distant from the Mongolian border.

    The initial impact of mobilisation on industrial capacity was soon felt. It was decided to risk a degree of dissent to keep the mobilisation on track.

    tOm5W2.jpg

    The (shorter range) 5th Sub Squadron completed its relocation to Innokentevsky on 3 July.

    gzkJ1k.jpg

    By the 5th, dissent had started to bite a little (up by 0.18% per day, current effect -0.6% of IC). A new fighter (INT) wing was deployed in Brzesc Litewski: its role would be to provide defensive air cover for the air base that guarded the STRAT (ie nuclear) delivery force.

    By 10 June, the reinforcement requirement had dropped radically to 26.85 IC, allowing extra to be thrown back into consumer goods to begin reining in dissent (now at 1.4%). Around 40 IC kept the highest priority production projects ticking along.

    13 June saw the reinforcement demand greatly reduced, with a temporary surge in consumer goods applied to get dissent (and thus any economic penalty) quickly cut back.

    SaF5FP.jpg

    On 16 June, the last of the relocated 50th Corps divisions were in place around Khabarovsk. As 18 June began, the mobilisation process was basically complete and the Soviets were ready to prosecute the war to liberate Europe. At this point, fate intervened.

    So, at this point (midnight on 18 June) I decided to hit the button. All the Army HQs’ settings and objectives were reviewed and updated. The wings in the west that had been withdrawn from Army (AI) control because it kept moving them around and disorganising them was restored so they could, as they had in the Far East campaign, manage themselves autonomously in support of the AI ground commanders. War was declared on the UK, and thus the 60-odd countries of the Allies. I saved just before the DoW, and there was an autosave at midnight on the 18th as well – so all sweet, I thought.

    Then, I had a crash (or so I thought) on the declaration of war. I believe in retrospect it was just the size of the DoW on my poor old laptop (which I now have to play HOI3 on) was too much for its little electronic brain to cope with. It froze for some minutes and was ‘not responding’ and I couldn’t get out of HOI3. In the end I had to detach the battery to get it to stop. I then reloaded the ‘pre-war’ save, DoWed again and this time let it run (walked away and left it). It just took a very long time but did actually resume properly.

    The war was on – but I soon noticed a few things had gone haywire. Wondering why a few of the crucial fronts weren’t doing what they were meant to after a day or so, I checked and found the pre-war save had missed some later order/objective changes, meaning a couple of the key fronts were still in prepare rather than attacking or blitzing settings. Oops. And the AI had switched a large number of the wings in the west three times between bases in the first few hours, reducing many of them to almost zero organisation.

    And even after about a week of combat, some fronts on blitz with light opposition had not launched an attack, while other on defensive were making bloody attacks in East Prussia. The Air Force was quickly rendered useless, many of the wings never even getting into combat, while the Luftwaffe pulverised several provinces. There were still some reasonable air battles, but the lack of several groups of interceptors due to the initial relocations was decisive. Even the Hungarian, Polish and Greek bombers were often striking at will.

    Also, it became clear that the way the objectives were interpreted by the AI in the Far East had scrambled their layout, separated the Army HQs from the bulk of their troops and concentrated them strangely in large pockets and left Mongolia wide open. The whole thing was a dogs breakfast. I also realised I’d need to take a more general and different approach to recording progress on the battlefield and recording all the battle and air raids details as I had for the Far East was going to be unworkable for a supposedly ‘quick and dirty’ AAR.

    Back to the drawing board then. I reverted to the midnight 18 June save, but some of the wings had already been shifted around by then, so were badly disorganised. I didn’t go further back so as not to lose more time, and also as a kind of self-imposed ‘penalty’ for having to scum-save. For the same reason, I decided not to restart from 1 June, pre-mobilisation, though perhaps I should have for selfish reasons.

    All the wings in the west were withdrawn from AI control and I resolved to operate them myself in the coming conflict. It would take months of game time for some of them to recover to even approaching full organisation again. Also, the Army HQ orders were all revised again and a different approach taken to objective setting, giving them a bunch of specific initial attack objectives as well as those in depth, in the hope that next time they’d actually attack!

    The air units in the east were left under AI control, as they had largely performed properly in the ‘wargame’ (as I have determined it to be) of 18-25 June. But the objectives there were thoroughly revised to make the start more balanced and realistic there too. And all this would take some time. This is the context for what follows.

    But before the final order for war was issued, Stalin used the week of 18-25 June 1947 to ‘game out’ a possible offensive war and to exercise commanders and units in what they would face. The results were a mixture of reasonable performance with chaos, mis-orders, negligence and lack of revolutionary zeal. After a series of purges, demotions and ‘re-education’, he Soviet Union went about refining its plans, dispositions and waited for the badly disorganised air wings in the West to reorganise – a time-consuming process.

    The wargame process indicated that due both to current range limitations (especially with the older V1 Flying Bombs) and for tactical benefit, they might be best used initially to strike enemy airfields to damage runways and facilities and thus put pressure on the repair and recovery of enemy wings in a coming air war. On 21 June, four more V1 and two V2s were deployed from the stockpile along the Western Front, so they would be fully ready in time of war.

    By midday on the 21st, dissent had been reduced back to zero, allowing a major boost to production (159 IC), while supply production (already reduced to low levels) was halted completely (stockpile at 97,000) to ensure any surplus in the system was absorbed before it was resumed.

    That day, the spy teams in Spain were ordered to split their efforts 50/50 between communist party support and covert operations. With Turkish domestic spy levels remaining quite high (three teams), Soviet agents remained 100% devoted to counter-espionage.

    And a survey of TAC wings showed that all had now been fully equipped with jet engines.

    On 24 June, another fighter wing was deployed to Brzesc Litewski. That day, a Turkish spy was neutralised, then another on the 27th, but at the cost of a Soviet spy lost there on the 28th in a bloody escalation of the Secret War. It was also noticed Allied spy activity in the Soviet Union had also seemed to increase since the mobilisation on 1 June.

    Just three new research projects were completed in June. The gradual improvement of primitive AA defences in the Red Navy continued (the main role of the surface fleet really being to help guard invasion forces from attack by land and sea-based aircraft). Serious effort was also being directed into extended the range of the V2 rockets.

    WUIHiG.jpg


    ******

    July 1947

    The rockets were now being updated to the SS- 3 ‘Shyster’ model with ever longer range: ten were put into production on 3 July and sent straight to the top of the queue.