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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

loki100

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This AAR is a second go at using Semper Fi and the 1939 scenario, and, obviously, the USSR. I'm using the latest patch, plus the event and lua files that didn't make it into the patch & DiDay's Common Weapon's mod. Hopefully as a package should be stable enough to sustain this AAR. As an update on this, I patched to 2.04 from September 1943 (in game), and to the final version of that patch in August 1944, and the transition has worked out fine.

I want to focus on the Great Patriotic War (and its aftermath, if any) so decided to start on 1 September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. So hopefully I end up with a bit of time to re-organise things, but won’t have the luxury of a 1936 start, so will have to deal with the consequences of those earlier decisions. What I’ve done is to break things into chapters. So chapter 1 runs from 1 Sept 39 to the German invasion. Each chapter is then broken up into a number of sections. Some of these will provide a chronology (though I'll largely ignore events that don't involve the USSR), others background and others will be more thematic. I'm keeping to the History Book model that I started with last time, but again I may add a number of more game play orientated posts (I still hold to the view that SF/HOI is new enough as to merit explorations of game mechanics and strategies).

I’ll use quite a few pictures and contemporary posters and will rely on drawn maps rather than screenshots. In part this is for feel, also I’ve found some rather nifty pieces of software that allows you to extract (at virtually any scale) simple maps of almost anywhere on earth. If you’re interested check out this longer discussion on the merits of a couple of options , for both you can extract with cities named or blank and then draw onto that framework as you wish. The other reason is I was having a bit of a struggle with my videocard and the province borders were all rather ugly – this is now sorted but for the most part I'll stick to the current maps rather than in-game screenshots.

Obviously for this to work, I needed the Germans to want to invade the USSR, so I took the liberty of tweaking their victory conditions to encourage them to do so. I also, as needed, improved their supply or manpower to give them a block of supplies in Berlin, in mid-1942 (which had the result of sorting out their production AI that really wasn't coping) & a small mapower boost in Oct 43 (or they would have just collapsed) and again in April 1944. All these changes are signalled in the narrative and the reason was to sustain the AAR.

Oh, and just to add to the fun, and hopefully your enjoyment, its on ‘Hard’.

And as a first impression – it remains rather scary. Lots of 1918 tech infantry and stuff so most of the initial IC going on upgrades and I have 2 (yep 2) medium tank brigades, so out of somewhere, I need to build armour, loads more infantry, support brigades, an airforce etc, and all in roughly (hopefully) 18 months, and deal with a massive upgrade backlog.

If anyone is interested, about 90% of the chapter headings are from the poems of Emily Dickinson - brilliant in themselves and utterly invaluable for such gloomy subject material. As the lady put it "Good Morning Midnight, I'm coming home".
 
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loki100

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Table of Contents

(note that these are organised thematically, not in the order originally posted)

THE BOOK RELATED POSTS

Introduction
Introduction

Chapter One: A False Peace, September 1939 - June 1941
Conflict in the Baltic, Sept 39-Dec 39
The Winter War, Nov-Dec 39
War in the West, Dec 1939-May 1941
Soviet Military Build Up, Sept 1939-June 1941
Doctrine and Equipment changes, Sept 1939-June 1941
Soviet Mobile Forces, Sept 1939-June 1941
Air and Naval developments, Sept 1939-June 1941
Industrial and Research Policies, Sept 1939-June 1941
The NKVD, Sept 1939-June 1941
The Far East, Sept 1939-July 1941
The Boss knows all about it, 1 June 1941-7 June 1941

Chapter Two: To the edge of disaster, June - September 1941
The Saturday Blow, June 7-June 13
Bielorussia and the Baltic States - June and July 1941
The Wilno-Riga Battles, June 16-July 5
Minsk-Homyel operations July 1941
Baltic States and Velikiye Luki, July 1941
Ukraine - June and July 1941
Defeat in Poland: June 1941
The entry of Rumania and Hungary: July 1941
The Soviet response
Reaching into the Reich: Assassination, Espionage and Partisans
The Soviet Home Front
The response on the battlefield: August-September 1941
The battles on the outskirts of Leningrad, August 1941
The first battle of Leningrad, September 1941
Smolensk, Rzev and the first battle of Kalinin, August-September 1941
Bryansk, August-September 1941
The Ukraine, Late Summer 1941
The first Soviet Offensive, August 1941
Stalemate in the Ukraine, September 1941

Chapter Three: No Space to Retreat, October 1941-March 1942

Leningrad and the Arctic Campaigns
The Second Battle of Leningrad, October-November 1941
The German offensive towards Archangelsk, October-December 1941
War in the Arctic January-April 1942
The Kalinin Defensive Battles Oct-December 1941
Stalemate on the Upper Volga, October-November 1941
The Battle of Fokina 10-24 December
The Evolution of Soviet Offensive Operations
The Winter Offensive, December-March 1942
The Winter Offensive 23 December 1941-8 January 1942
The Winter Offensive 15 January-5 February 1942
The Winter Offensive 5 February - 5 March 1942
Kalinin-Bryansk, March-April 1942
The Ukrainian Battles
Stalemate in the Ukraine, November-December 1941
The Ukraine January and February 1942
Holding the line, The Ukraine March 1942
Central Asia and the Near East
The war in Central Asia, June 1941-March 1942
The Persian Campaign February - April 1942
Anglo-Soviet Rivalry
Soviet-British diplomacy and disputes
The Soviet Navy
The War at Sea June 1941 - April 1942

Chapter Four: The First Soviet Strategic Offensive, April 1942 - September 1942
Summary and Overview, April-October 1942
Detailed Axis OOB 1 April 1942 and supply production issues
Operational Plans for Suvorov, July 1942
The War in the Arctic
The Loss of Archangelsk, April-May 1942
The Arctic Campaign, April-May 1942
The Soviet Arctic Offensive, June 1942
Disaster and triumph, the Arctic Campaign July-August 1942
The Moscow-Minsk-Leningrad Sector
Kalinin-Bryansk Sector, April-May 1942
The Suvorov Offensive, 8-17 July 1942
The Suvorov Offensive 18 July - 4 August 1942
The Suvorov Offensive and battles at Ladoga 5 August - 24 August 1942
The Fourth Battle of Leningrad, July-August 1942
The War in the Ukraine
The Kutusov Offensive, Regaining the line of the Central Dniepr, April-May 1942
The Kutusov Offensive, the battles of the Lower Dniepr, April-May 1942
The Kutusov Offensive, the battles in the south Ukraine, May 1942
The Kutusov Offensive, from Kherson to Odessa and into Rumania, June 1942
Defeat in Rumania, July-August 1942
The Bessarabian Battles, July-August 1942
Central Asia and other fronts
Central Asia April-July 1942
Central Asia July-August 1942
Diplomacy, Spies and Research
The development of Soviet armoured doctrine, July 1942
The introduction of the Guards designation, August 1942

Chapter Five: The German counterstroke, September-November 1942

The Moscow Axis
Smolensk-Demyansk sector, September 1942
Smolensk-Demyansk sector 1-15 October 1942
Demyansk-Kalinin, 16-31 October 1942
The Arctic Campaign, September 1942
The Arctic Campaign, October 1942
War in the North, November 1942
The Ukraine
The opening phase, 1-20 September 1942
The retreat to the Dniepr, September-October 1942
Central Asia and other fronts
The Partisan and Propoganda War, Autumn 1942
The Syrian Campaign, Sept-October 1942
Central Asia, Sept-November 1942

Chapter Six: The Second Winter, December 1942-April 1943
Introduction
Conclusion and detailed OOBs
The Western Axis
The Kalinin Front 1-26 December 1942
The Kalinin Front 24 December 1942 - 14 January 1943
The Ladoga Front 1 December 1942- 14 January 1943
The Kalinin Front 15 January 1943 - 10 March 1943
Fifth Leningrad and the Ladoga Battles, January 1943
The Ladoga Battles, February-March 1943
The German Smolensk Offensive February-April 1943
The Ladoga Battles, April-May 1943
The Ukraine
Operational Planning for Saturn, November 1942 - January 1943
Breaching the Dniepr, Saturn 15 January 1943 - 7 February 1943
The Odessa Cauldron, Saturn, 8 February 1943 - 7 March 1943
Central Asia and other Fronts
The War in Asia, November 1942-May 1943
The Second Delhi Conference and the Global War, May 1943

Chapter Seven: Clearing the Ukraine, Summer 1943
Detailed OOBs, 1 May 1943
The Ukrainian Battles
Pobeda 1-9 May 1943
Pobeda 9 - 23 May 1943
Pobeda 23 May 1943 - 9 June 1943
Consolidation and Re-organisation, June 1943
Clearing the Flanks, July 1943
Crossing the borders, 1 August-11 September 1943
Taking the war into Poland and Hungary 11 September - 1 October 1943
The Western Strategic Axis
The liberation of Leningrad, June 1943
The Bielorussian Offensive, July 1943
The Bielorussian Offensive, August 1943
Waiting for the storm, Bielorussia, September 1943
The Balkans
Victory in Romania, May 1943
The Axis counteroffensive, July 1943
A bloody stalemate, August-September 1943
Other Campaigns
The War in Finland, July-August 1943
Central Asia May-October 1943

Chapter Eight: To the Gates of the Reich, October 1943- February 1944
The Odessa Conference, 10-12 October 1943
The Central Committee Meetings, January 1944
Western Strategic Axis
The Pinsk encirclement battes 1-25 October 1943
The Estonian campaign 1-22 October 1943
The Wilno-Riga battles, October 1943
The Soyuz Offensive, November 1943
The Soyuz Offensive, December 1943
The liberation of Kaunas, January 1944
The conquest of East Prussia, February 1944
The Ukraine
The Carpathian Campaign October-November 1943
The Carpathian Campagin December 1943
The Carpathian Campaign January-February 1944
The Balkans
The campaign in the Balkans, October-November 1943
The Balkan campaign, December 1943-February 1944

Chapter Nine: The Assault on the Reich, March-September 1944
Review, March 1944
The Western Strategic Axis
The Baltic Campaign, March-May 1944
Planning for Bagration and the German Danzig Offensive 3-12 June 1944
Crossing the Oder, June 1944
Berlin, July 1944
The Potsdam Conference July 1944
The destruction of the Reich, August-September 1944
The Southern Strategic Axis
The Greek Campaign, March 1944
The Hungarian Campaign, March 1944
Southern Balkans, April 1944
The Hungarian Campaign, April 1944
The Belgrade Campaign, May 1944
The fall of Yugoslavia, June 1944
The end of the Balkan Campaign, May-August 1944
The Italian Campaign, August-September 1944
The Far East
August Storm - Operational Plans
Manchuria, August 1944
The Far Eastern Campaign 1 September - 5 October 1944

Chapter Ten: To the Bitter End, October 1944-October 1945

Europe
The final end of the Reich, October-December 1944
The End of the War in Europe, December 1944 - 1 May 1945
The Far East
The Battle of Tokyo 5 October - 1 November 1944
The end of the Chinese Wars, 5 November 1944 - 1 May 1945
Latin America
The War in the Caribbean, April-June 1945
Brazil, Peru, Argentina, June-July 1945

Epilogue
The Uneasy Peace, 1945-53
Domestic and International Tensions 1953-61

Appendix 1: The Numbers of War
June 1941-January 1942
January 1942-January 1943
January 1943-January 1944

Source Materials and links
Background and online sources about the Great Patriotic War
 
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(Edit - the careful reader will spot the slogan is in either Croat or Serbian not Russian, I've lifted it from John Erickson's 2 volume history of the Great Patriotic War - still probably the best treatment of the war from a Soviet perspective)

Introduction: Context and Background
Alexandra Chuikov and Vassily Ulyanov


The Great Patriotic War, some 65 years ago, was a pivotal event in the evolution of our country. By now, all the senior decision makers are dead and the few surviving veterans were young men and women, serving as soldiers, sailors, airmen, partisans etc.

This alone is a good reason to publish an updated volume dealing with the ten years from 1939-48, when the USSR, sought first to avoid and then became embroiled in war with Germany. This is a last chance to capture the voices of the veterans and there is no longer any need to take account of the sensitivities of those at the heart of the conflict. For completeness, this volume also covers the events immediately after the end of the war with Germany.

Not only are all the senior decision makers now dead, but the major archives of the Soviet State, Party and STAVKA are now freely available to researchers having been digitised and placed on line. This, combined with the already released material from the archives of German, British, French and other belligerents, makes it possible to openly cover their decisions and to evaluate the consequences – of both successes and failures. In many ways this volume covers a dark period in our country’s history with ongoing repression and abuse of power. On the other hand, the heroism of the Soviet peoples, and our allies, should never be forgotten.

Immediate Context.

Any decision as to where to start a historical narrative is always arbitrary and runs the risk of presenting events as if ‘they just happened’ and out of context. The decision to start this study on the 1 September 1939 adopts the conventional start date for the Second World War in Europe. The sequence of related conflicts that fell under the label World War 2 can, of course, be seen as starting in the early 1930s with Japanese aggression in China, or 1936 with the Italian invasion of Abyssinia and the Spanish Civil War.

By September 1939, the USSR had been in existence for just under 22 years and was diplomatically isolated.


Figure 1: Western USSR, 1939

This newness and isolation had a direct impact on the events covered in this volume. Here, we will just sketch two events in the period leading up to August 1939 as they are vital to understand the decision making at the highest levels of our Party and State – the 1937 army trials and the 1938 destruction of Czechoslovakia.

Even with full access to the archives, it is still unclear if there really was an army plot to remove Stalin. What is clear is that there was no plot to, as so many were accused of, to overthrow the Soviet system. However, Stalin had never been popular with the bulk of the armed forces outside his small group of comrades who had served with him at Tsaritsyn (Stalingrad) during the Civil War. It is quite possible that Tukhachevskii and other senior officers, fearing that ‘they would be next’ were preparing a pre-emptive strike.

Whatever the truth, the consequences were terrible for the morale, training and discipline of the RKKA just as Europe was sliding closer to war. The development of concepts of modern armoured warfare was halted and the complete command system thrown into chaos by, in the chilling phrase of the time, “the severe shortage of commanders”. On the other hand the execution of so many senior commanders did open the door to a new generation of commanders, but they had to learn their trade on the field of battle rather than from experienced mentors.

The second event is the surrender of Czechoslovakia to Germany by Britain and France. The reader interested in French and British politics in this period is referred elsewhere and we can even ignore whether Litvinov was serious when he offered to send Soviet troops to help the Czechs. In reality, such an undertaking would have been hindered by Poland (that sought its own territorial gains from Czechoslovakia) and the parlous state of the Red Army. The key consequence is that the Soviet leadership decided that it had to take full responsibility for its own future and could neither seek, nor trust, any alliance with the Western Allies.

From this, given the state of the RKKA, came the inevitable decision that the only thing that mattered was the avoidance (or delay) of war with Germany.
 
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Another AAR from you, I am definetly in...
Why not try the DiDay's ICE mod for a change?
Can't wait for the first update.
 

loki100

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War in the Baltic Region Sept 1939-December 1939

Preparations and War Goals

When Hitler attacked Poland at the end of August 1939, he might have been gambling on escaping conflict with Britain and France. However, he knew there was no danger of war with the USSR. Even more, he knew that at some stage the USSR would attack Poland to fulfil the terms of Ribbentrop-Molotov pact.


Figure 1: The original map showing the planned division of Poland

One of the challenges to a historian of this period is to understand just what were Stalin’s real intentions. The Soviet Union continued to claim the goal of world revolution but at the same time seemed to be withdrawing from engagement with the wider world. However, we do know that the Soviet leadership were aware that to the Germans, at least, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact simply delayed their stated intentions towards the USSR. NKVD penetration of the German state was substantial, aided by the remaining members of the shattered KPD. From their reports, Germany’s overall war aims were perfectly clear:


Germany's War Goals

To some in the Soviet leadership, the Pact was not just about avoidance of war, it was also a chance to regain territories that had been lost to Poland and the new Baltic States in the early 1920s.


Figure 2: 1922 Division of Eastern Europe

However, piecing together material in the state, central committee and party archives, together with the memoires of those involved, it is clear, that as with Germany, the Soviet Union had more ambitious plans than merely ‘correcting’ the outcome of the treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

In particular, the Soviet leadership was committed to expanding Soviet power in China and the Far East ... if it could.


Soviet War Goals

By contrast, the stated goals of the British were in effect, defence of the status-quo, protection of their Empire and a desire to extend their influence into the Balkans.


British War Goals.


The World slips into War

The German attack on Poland does not need to be covered here. It was less effective than they had hoped, but the combination of armour, airpower and speed of movement was enough to overcome the tenacious Polish defence. Proof, if any was needed, that Tukhachevskii had been right when he stressed the potential speed of modern warfare, and the devastating effect on those who were not prepared.

The other significant lesson for Soviet military planners was Warsaw holding out for 10 days despite being surrounded. The role of urban centres in modern warfare became a major focus for Soviet doctrinal developments.


Figure 3: Poland, 2nd phase of the German offensive

The German campaign was over by the 13th of October 1939 and Soviet troops moved to occupy their portion of Poland. A number of liaison centres were set up to manage the division of the country between German and Soviet occupation:


Soviet and German joint administration centre

In turn, the Germans organised Western Poland into a number of administrative units.


Figure 4: A German map of the division of Poland, this was issued to the population to advise them on travel restrictions

The Soviet occupation of East Poland was claimed as an act of liberation, in particular reuniting Ukrainian and Belorussian populations that had been separated in 1922. The stress was on the fraternal re-unification of populations sundered by the Imperialist peace treaty imposed on a weak USSR.


The text reads: "Our army is an army that liberates workers"

The reality was somewhat different. Equally, the gains of occupation for the RKKA were dubious. Although the Soviet border moved 200km to the West, the new front line was unknown and all the fortifications, prepared combat zones and logistical structures on the old border had to be abandoned. As we now know, these weaknesses were not corrected before the subsequent German blow.

The War shifts North

The occupation of Eastern Poland was only the first consequence of the pact. German and Soviet attention turned on small countries to their North. Germany invaded Denmark on 17 October and completed its occupation by 8 November. Whilst of seemingly minor importance, the surrender of Iceland to German control potentially gave them the capacity to threaten UK naval operations across the North Atlantic and gave the Germans a base for an invasion of Canada.

The 18th also saw a Soviet ultimatum to the 3 Baltic States that had been separated from the nascent USSR at the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. In this case all three surrendered without a fight, but the immediate consequence was a deterioration of relations with Finland.

21 October saw the breakdown of negotiations between the USSR and Finland over the border in Karelia


Finnish officials leaving Moscow after the failed negotiations

In consequence, the Finnish government undertook the aggressive act of mobilising their forces and heavily reinforcing the Karelian region. The threat to Murmansk was clear and in turn Soviet forces had to redeploy from their peace time positions.

Relations deteriorated over the next 5 weeks and neither side really sought to avoid a conflict they both believed to be inevitable. A final Soviet ultimatum was rejected late on the 26th November. At 6am on the 27th, on a brilliant clear cold winter day across the entire sector, Soviet forces from the Northern Theatre on a front stretching from Leningrad to Murmansk struck back.

Soviet diplomacy had failed, the burden of protecting the USSR fell on the RKKA.
 

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And what shall the League of Nations do?
Not tolerate this! :p

Booooooooooooo!
 

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Another AAR from you, I am definetly in...
Why not try the DiDay's ICE mod for a change?
Can't wait for the first update.
Hopefully this won't disappoint, and I can make some progress without constantly replaying the opening months ....

And what shall the League of Nations do?
Not tolerate this! :p

Booooooooooooo!
Well they were as much use to Finland as they'd been to anyone else
 

loki100

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The Winter War Nov-Dec 1939

Context

At 7am on the 27th of November the main Soviet offensive opened on the Leningrad-Viipuri ‘Isthmus’ co-ordinated by Zhukov’s Leningrad Front. The attack was led by 2 reinforced Infantry Corps (the 9th on the East flank and the 19th advancing along the Gulf of Finland) reinforced by elements of 1st Tank Corps (consisting of 2 tank divisions, but neither possessing more than a few modern tanks) and a motorised division. The attacking troops were under the immediate command of the 7th Army (which was also responsible for operations on the other shore of L Ladoga).



In reserve was 47th Army Corps, though this saw no action and was held back at Leningrad.

STAVKA had made an estimate that although the Mannerheim line in the Leningrad region was formidable, the Finnish army had made a grave strategic mistake in its overall deployment. Of the Soviet army, almost 60% of the 22 divisions that saw action were massed in and around Leningrad. For the Finns they only had 25% of their 14 divisions, giving the Soviets decisive advantage on the critical sector.

Equally although STAVKA had judged the RKKA had sufficient force already under the control of the Northern Theatre, the VVS squadrons were significantly reinforced. 100 SB2 bombers and 100 I-15 fighters operated out of Murmansk, 200 bombers from recently occupied Talinin (these initially bombed Finnish industrial centres at Helsinki and Turku) and 600 bombers at Leningrad. Air superiority was provided by a 500 I-16 fighters operating out of Leningrad. Against this it appeared the Finns could muster 300 fighters and 200 bombers.


SB2 Bomber flying over Gulf of Finland

I-16 fighters from the Leningrad PVO - in the campaign the I-16s gave the Soviets near total air supremacy.

Finnish AA Batteries inflicted limited losses on the high flying SB2s, although a number of Soviet planes were damaged

A final, advantage lay in the Baltic Fleet. The surface navy supported the attacks along the Gulf of Finland and Soviet submarines interdicting Finnish shipping (badly damaging one convoy bringing in war materials from Germany). The Finnish navy, wisely, opted not to leave port.


Parizhskaya Kommuna, leaving its moorings at Kronstadt on the 27th

The Mannerheim Line

For convenience it is best to analyse the operations on the Isthmus separate to those on the rest of the Front. Soviet combat strength in this area was composed of 6 infantry divisions (3 of which had additional Artillery support, 1 was assisted by a specialist Engineer brigade) and 3 armoured (consisting of 2 brigades of medium tanks – mostly T-28s – 3 brigades of light armour and 4 brigades of motorised infantry).


An adapted T-28, there were few of these but they were invaluable at clearing out Finnish strongpoints

The Finnish defence was quickly disrupted but Soviet armour was still sometimes isolated from supporting infantry and was then vulnerable to Finnish counter-attacks, often using improvised anti-tank weapons

The outer edges of the Mannerheim Line at Kaikisalmi were broken by late on the evening of the first day, with Soviet troops taking up complete control by 3 December. In this sequence of battles some 50 Soviet and 200 Finnish troops were killed.


Soviet infantry pre-assault briefing

On 28 November the Western portion of the Line at Koivisto was under attack and by late on the 30th Soviet troops had breached the main defence lines with 50 Soviet and 150 Finnish dead.


Soviet Engineers, in the background is one of the few BT-7s used in the conflict

A Finnish bunker after days of artillery bombardment and VVS air-raids

The final stage of the campaign saw a blow aimed at Viipuri where the bulk of the Finnish army had retreated to. This fell late on 8 December, at which stage the Finnish government asked for an immediate armistice, accepting the original Soviet terms.

The War in Karelia

The war elsewhere can be quickly covered. Soviet troops on the main Karelian Front running up to Murmansk initially remained on the defensive in part due to Finnish strength in this sector.



To the East of L Ladoga, 4 divisions of 7th Corps clashed with 3 well dug in Finnish divisions on the 30th. Neither side was able to gain an advantage but by the end of the war, Soviet armour was moving into the rear of the Finns.

At Ponca and Kandalaska, the defences of 11th Corps (part of the 14th Army) were being overwhelmed, in particular at Ponca where 2 weak divisions were only able to just fend off 3 Finnish divisions with the aid of regular VVS airstrikes. At Murmansk, the front was quiet until 2 December, when the Soviet 42nd corps began an offensive aimed at Petsamo. In total these battles cost the lives of 700 Soviet and 1450 Finnish soldiers. Even if the Finns had broken through at Ponca, reserve formations of the 58 Corp (2 mountain divisions redeploying from Central Asia) would soon be in position to protect the vital rail lines.


Soviet casualties at Ponca

Aftermath and Diplomatic Consequences

Overall the RKKA, despite antiquated weaponry (most rifle divisions were using 1918 equipment) had performed well. It had broken through 2 major fortified lines and shown some aptitude for infantry-armour co-operation. The big success was the VVS. The PVO (fighter) squadrons had maintained air superiority (at the loss of about 100 aircraft) and the bombers had effectively smashed the Finnish fortified lines and ensured that the Finnish divisions on the Isthmus were unable to reinforce and were denied any operational flexibility. Finnish losses due to air attacks were hard to estimate, but some reports suggested over 3000, with around 100 Soviet lives lost to the few Finnish air-raids. In total around 80 SB2s were shot down or badly damaged in the campaign.

As a military exercise, the consequences were limited. Casualties were relatively light and the main fighting was over in less than 3 weeks. However, the Imperialist controlled League of Nations expelled the USSR on 14 December, despite evidence of Finnish aggression and the presence of foreign ‘volunteers’ in the ranks of the Finnish Army. A body that had failed to protect China, Abyssinia, Austria and Spain slipped into well deserved obscurity. To the Soviets this had been a short border skirmish, now resolved in their favour. Their recent opponents saw it as something to be avenged - if possible. It also marked the temporary end of active combat operations by any of the main powers in the Baltic region.

Finally, to the wider world, combined with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, it was worrying evidence as to Stalin’s wider intentions.
 
Last edited:

Alfredian

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Nice to see the new & improved version of this.

I am sure you will think twice about any further aggression now that you are excluded from the tea parties at League of Nation HQ
 

loki100

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Why not try the DiDay's ICE mod for a change?
Sorry, missed this part of your question. I was very tempted but I believe the mod only really works from a 1936 start, the additional units and techs in the smaller version are really neat and start to bring quite a lot of flavour.

I could be wrong but my feeling is that HOI is stilll not a great challenge for a player with the luxury of a 1936 start, this has a nice 'edge of disaster' feel right from the start - the IC commitment to curing equipment backlogs is enough in itself.

Kaikisalmi? Käkisalmi.
I bow to your superior knowledge, but my graphics package isn't that good :eek:o

Nice to see the new & improved version of this.

I am sure you will think twice about any further aggression now that you are excluded from the tea parties at League of Nation HQ
aye, of all the diplomatic consequences of the Winter War, I really don't think being told off by the League of Nations exactly stands out.

CONTEXT ETC

From here the posts start to diverge significantly (although a few of the pictures are re-used where appropriate) ... effectively older readers should start here
 

loki100

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The War in the West Dec 39 - May 41

Introduction

Most readers will be fully aware of the broad outline of the events in the West after the German victories in Poland and Denmark. Here they are presented briefly for context before a discussion of the failures of those responsible for Soviet foreign policy (principally Molotov) and the dire consequences for the USSR.



At the end of this period the Soviet Union was effectively surrounded by hostile or potentially hostile powers and seemingly lacking any potential allies.

War in the West

Subsequent analysis of the German attack on the Low Countries and France in the spring-summer 1940 indicated that their high command had decided to re-use the 1914 Schliefflen Plan, but this time using armour and airpower to ensure there was no repeat of the 'Miracle of the Marne'.

The offensive opened on 7 April, by the 29th Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium were occupied and German troops were in NE France. French resistance, assisted by the British, solidified along the Seine, but by 11 August Paris fell,



and the Third Republic collapsed a week later. With the fall of Paris, Mussolini also declared war, making limited gains in France but briefly threatening Cairo before being hurled back to the old Libyan-Egyptian border. By mid-November, the situation in the middle east seemed to favour the UK, with the capture of Ethiopia.

The collaborationist Vichy regime was established in late August.

In the defeat in France, the British had lost most of their army. Thus in late December 1940, under cover of a storm, the Germans were able to evade the Royal Navy and land substantial numbers of troops in East Anglia. The campaign saw heavy losses on both sides but by end of May, mainland Britain was occupied. Together with their earlier occupation of Iceland and Greenland, this gave Germany domination of the Western Atlantic.

Hitler now had no other distractions in continental Europe apart from his often stated desire to destroy the USSR.



Failures of Soviet diplomacy

In effect by early Spring 1941, the entire Soviet diplomatic process since the betrayal of Czechoslavakia lay in ruins. The occupation of E Poland, no matter how Molotov sought to present it, lost the Soviet Union much sympathy and good will.


(extract of speech 23 October 1939)

The war with Finland, no matter how successful militarily, and no matter how presented by Molotov, in turn further isolated the USSR:



While Germany was engaged with France and Britain, on the surface relations remained cordial. However, by the end of the British campaign, first trade links started to break down:



Equally, in part due to German military threats and in part due to the fears of the various right wing nationalistic dictatorships in power, Hungary, Rumania and Greece joined the Axis and Bulgaria and Yugoslavia were sympathetic. An entire region was under the control of regimes hostile to the Soviet Union.

The only justification for this foreign policy disaster was whether or not it had bought the Soviet Union enough time to fend off the inevitable German blow. Those preparations are the focus of the rest of this chapter.
 

Alfredian

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I was a bit shocked by the German occupation of the British Isles. The USSR is looking a little lonely.
 

morningSIDEr

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As ever with your AARs, a very enjoyable read. I am, of course, subscribed. I too am surprised to see Germany occupying mainland Britain, does this happen often? I assume HoI3 is actually playable these days, with SF also (I was so disgusted with the game when first trying it soon after release that I never returned to it)?
 

naggy

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There is something missing from these maps.

Oh yeah, lots of "Mine!" scribbled on it. ;)
 

loki100

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It is only more challenging. :p
very ... can't manage to use Cyrillic or Arabic scripts on the maps either ...

I was a bit shocked by the German occupation of the British Isles. The USSR is looking a little lonely.
As ever with your AARs, a very enjoyable read. I am, of course, subscribed. I too am surprised to see Germany occupying mainland Britain, does this happen often? I assume HoI3 is actually playable these days, with SF also (I was so disgusted with the game when first trying it soon after release that I never returned to it)?
Aye it certainly proves the AI can do naval invasions. Once I spotted it, I loaded up as Germany (hands off, theatre AI) to have look, very neat it was too, till the transports got caught by the RN, but by then they had about 20 divisions ashore.

As to playable, well I'm biased but yes. Still sometimes frustrating, but its worth the annoying parts of the new patch just to see the AI become really dangerous - after that I've been busily improving all my port defences.

There is something missing from these maps.
Oh yeah, lots of "Mine!" scribbled on it. ;)
Well I sort of assume that with Uncle Joe rather than the more benign Mstislav in power, then yep its all mine (with the minor problem of a large dangerous German army in the way - that has nothing else to do)
 

loki100

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Soviet military build up Sept 1939-June 1941

By July 1940, in the midst of the German offensive in France, the USSR retook Bessarabia from Rumania. This completed the westwards movement of the Soviet borders set in train by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

The USSR west of the Urals was divided into 4 Military Districts. The Northern District covered the border with Finland from Murmansk to Leningrad as well as Archangelsk. The Western Special Military District covered the Baltic States, Poland north of the River Bug (ie north of the Pripyet Marshes), and then back to Moscow and beyond. The Ukrainian Special Military District covered Poland south of the Bug, the borders with Rumania and Hungary and stretched back in the Eastern Ukraine to Stalingrad. Finally the Caucasus District covered part of the border with Persia and Turkey.



The intention was that both the Western and Ukrainian Districts were capable of fighting a prolonged campaign with no or little external reinforcement. The other two were designed to offer localised defence against aggression but were too weak for sustained combat without external reinforcements.

The plan was to build up the Western and Ukrainian Theatres to 3 echelons, of about 40% of the strength aligned on the borders, 40% as an immediate reserve hinged on Minsk and Kiev respectively and 20% as a strategic reserve clustered at Moscow and Kharkov.




The Northern Front had responsibility for the currently inactive Finnish front and Leningrad itself:



By July 1940, the effective military establishment was too small to support this planned deployment, with the deep strategic reserves essentially non-existent.

The strength of the two main districts was:



The rest of the army was equally too limited for even the current defensive tasks, never mind any consideration of projecting Soviet power beyond the borders:



Between July 1940 and June 1941 these forces were steadily filled out with fresh divisions, upgraded armoured formations and more specialist AT, AA and Artillery formations.



The next sections look at aspects of this build up in more detail before turning to a study of the industrial system that formed the backbone to the USSR’s war effort.
 

Stuyvesant

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I somehow missed the reboot, so I appreciate the linky in 'Faarthers'. :)

Germans in the British Isles... At first thought, I'd say that ups the difficulty for the Motherland, but that would be defeatist talk, showing a disturbing lack of confidence in Comrade Stalin. So, instead... Let's call it a great opportunity to further expand socialism (across the Channel!) in the near future. ;)
 

morningSIDEr

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I found myself chuckling at the description of 'leg infantry', and I'm not too sure why... My knowledge of HoI3 is far from exemplary, but things look a bit dodgy with the lack of armoured divisions you currently have.