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loki100

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Those AI moods are fun. Especially when it leads to the Wehrmacht seeing one gap in the Soviet line, pouring 70% of their forces into it, and inevitably getting stuck inside a pocket the size of Romania. :D (I have a picture, want me to post it?)

On the AAR: Jolly good show with them submarines chap!

Its a pity that the AI is so focussed on gaps rather than strategic goals. But then I assume this'll steadily improve.

What a victory against Kriegsmarine. :p
Subs on the Baltic?

a victory in my terms is getting out a naval battle with no losses. In effect, I tend to find I can lose once and scuttle back into port, with a lot of damaged ships but no (or few) permanent losses.

Given your limited (and mostly obsolete) resources, you're getting a lot of bang for the buck from your navy. Good job.

So how do you plan to expand the navy, for when the Germans are on the run? You won't be able to compete directly... Use naval bombers and subs instead?

I'm going to reprise my naval strategy from 'Red Sheep' build enough BBs as the core of the active fleets - I don't care if they are out of date they are hard to sink. Then operate close to shore so as to maximise land based air cover and lots of hit and run. My hope is come the need to invade the UK the Germans will be very low on fuel, so its going to be how to deal with Japan that'll be the key.

But the subs are awesome, really impressed with their effectiveness, for not much IC on reinforcing them I've done a lot of IC damage to Rumania and helped the UK out in N Africa.
 

loki100

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"I shall know why – when Time is over", Spring-Summer 1942

A major problem with any military history is that it imposes an artificial order on events that were often chaotic and that had no clear end or start date. Thus it is conventional in Soviet military history to see the Winter Offensive ending with the fall of Vologda and Cherepovets at the start of April. The messy reality was that all the elements of the Kalinin Front continued to fight fierce battles for the same group of small towns, and vital road and rail junctions, throughout April and May. For the Riflemen and Tankers at the front, the 'Winter Offensive' never ended.





Equally the three major Soviet offensives are clearly marked off in conventional histories. Kutusov, as the blow that took the Red Army from the Dniepr to the outskirts of Odessa. The Bessarabian campaign that saw the entry into Rumania and regaining most of South West Ukraine is then seen as separate set of actions. In reality it was a product of both the earlier gains during Kutusov and the initial successes of the great Suvorov offensive aimed at Smolensk and Minsk. The latter originally saw Soviet formations in the Ukraine on the defensive and stripped of reserves, but ended with briefly recapturing Kiev and large parts of the Western Ukraine. This in turn allowed 9 Army to push into Rumania in force.

In turn the infamous Axis counterblow is usually seen as starting in mid-August with the Soviets being driven back from Minsk and nearly losing 9 Army in Rumania. Equally the German counterattack did not end on 1 October, in reality it was gathering momentum at that stage and carried on well into the Autumn.

However, the period of the German counteroffensive also saw the highly complex 'reverse-offensive' by 1st Tank Army as it attacked East and North (to halt the German Lagoda offensive) at the same time as it gave up ground to the West.

And in turn this overlooks the dynamics in the Arctic, where Archangelsk was the scene of two major encirclement battles.

This chapter deals with these critical battles, when briefly it looked as if the Soviet Union would be liberated by late 1942 (in reality as readers well know, the 1939 borders were not secured until late in the winter of 1943-4) and then as if the Germans would regain the lines they had held in April 1942. It saw the bloodiest fighting of the war with 320,000 dead (from both sides) in July alone and in August and September the Red Army suffered 260,000 dead (and a futher 40,000 lost as POWs).

At the start of these campaigns, the Soviets had 121 divisions in the Western Sector (excluding those at Murmansk and Archangelsk) and 69 in the Ukraine.





These faced around 115 (83 German) Axis divisions in the West (again excluding those at Archangelsk and Murmansk) and 73 (27 German) in the Ukraine. In production were 10 Rifle, 1 Tank and 1 Mechanised Divisions in addition to more support brigades.




(The Soviet officer ratio was another major problem leading to needless delays in combat, but it was hard to find the needed resources given all the other demands placed on the leaderhsip pool)


(both sides faced increasing manpower constraints as the year went on)

In effect, any concentration on one sector had to leave others exposed, although experience had shown that Soviet formations easily overmatched those of the minor Axis countries. This in turn led to a recurrent problem all summer – that Soviet offensives tended to target weak spots rather than areas of strength. The consequence was that even at the height of success in late July and early August, any progress towards restoring overland communications with Leningrad was painfully slow.
 

Enewald

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What happened to the German manpower in August 42???

And how is it so few German divisions are positioned in Ukraine, which is the most vital area and holds most of the strategic resources???

This is madness! Hitler is batshitinsane!
 

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This is madness! Hitler is batshitinsane!

The Fuhrer of the Reich is beginning to feel the stress weigh down on his common sense.

On the AAR: I really, really liked this update.
 

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Despite the pushback, those gains are impressive. Particularly in Ukraine! I'd imagine the Romanians near-about had a heart attack for a bit. And now that Germany is out of manpower, I'd imagine they can't muster that kind of counterattack ever again?
 

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Seeing as how Enewald has already introduced profanity into this AAR (for shame, young lad, for shame...), I'll just add a little of my own regarding the German plunge in manpower between August and September: holy shit!

Those maps with the changing frontlines are some of the most confusing I've ever seen, especially in the North, where they resemble some kind of Jackson Pollock painting. I was actually a little relieved when the update ended before diving into details, as I was dreading keeping all the offensives and counter-offensives straight. :p

Wonderful job imposing some kind of order (and rationality) on the wild swings the game threw at you. And, in the final analysis, while I applaud your gains against the Fascist invader, from a story perspective it is heartening to see that the Germans still managed to recover, instead of just crumpling once you pushed them back for real.
 

loki100

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What happened to the German manpower in August 42???
And how is it so few German divisions are positioned in Ukraine, which is the most vital area and holds most of the strategic resources???

This is madness! Hitler is batshitinsane!
The Fuhrer of the Reich is beginning to feel the stress weigh down on his common sense.
On the AAR: I really, really liked this update.

its probably my one real grumble with the AI, in effect there is no linkage between the VPs and the military AI (or at least not one I can see). Its clear that pre war dip/spying the AI is influenced by its goals - hence all those early SF posts on seeing Japan influenced into the Comintern. So yes, I'd put enough into that NW Arctic bulge to do some mischief and see if I could cut the Trans-Siberian (though in the game engine thats a bit so what), but all the armour etc would be in the Ukraine. Even if its just IC, manpower etc - you'd rather take Kharkov than Archangelsk.

The dramatic drop in german manpower is when I fixed the production AI by giving it a load of supplies. It instantly shifted attention to reinforcing and all those divs down to 4-6000 lept back up to 9000 (also the German allies converted a fair few units to exp forces, but I'll cover the reasons for that in context) - I think it had spent no IC on reinf from say feb-june.

Impressive amount of data you've gathered about your game. Seems you put a lot of time into this AAR, and I have to say it definately shows! Keep up the good work.

as I said in an earlier post - I need it. I deliberately have played a way ahead to get the perspective I need for the history book (previously I tend to play a block & then write it up). Having gathered it all as screenshots etc it made sense to create an indexing system and then to draw info out of that index. Some things I just extract from the save game at each month start (manpower, practical, ic, leadership etc). What I do is to start each chapter with a loose idea of how to split the material up, look at my battles database and come up with a sensible take, do a quick write up, dig out the original screenshots, do the map, revise the write up etc, sometimes decide just to concentrate on one thing, others are more broad sweep etc.

Despite the pushback, those gains are impressive. Particularly in Ukraine! I'd imagine the Romanians near-about had a heart attack for a bit. And now that Germany is out of manpower, I'd imagine they can't muster that kind of counterattack ever again?
With the Axis out of manpower, it'll just be matter of time until you reach Berlin. I wouldn't put the AI into blitz mode yet, but it's essentially game over for the Axis now.

This is probably the last what I'd call strategic offensive by the axis (ie almost across the whole front) but it takes me to Nov to hold it. 1943 into early 1944 is mostly a series of grinding battles, but they manage at least 2 major localised counterblows, that seriously derail my progress. I've just started May 44 in game and am reorganising for what I hope is the blow that will liberate whats left of Poland in German hands and give me Berlin.

Don't forget that though their manpower reserve is gone, they still get more new reinforcements per month than I do (due to them holding W Europe and the hard malus).

Also in truth my manpower reserve is gone too, its just I'm managing it better. By late 43 I even stop the Gds Inf divs from getting automatic reinforcements and by late 42 I stop any build of new land formations (just a few support brigades). I even reduce some rear area rifle divs to 2 brigades to get some manpower back & scrap the few remaining Militia divs.

A very entertaining AAR, Loki!

glad you like it.

Seeing as how Enewald has already introduced profanity into this AAR (for shame, young lad, for shame...), I'll just add a little of my own regarding the German plunge in manpower between August and September: holy shit!

Those maps with the changing frontlines are some of the most confusing I've ever seen, especially in the North, where they resemble some kind of Jackson Pollock painting. I was actually a little relieved when the update ended before diving into details, as I was dreading keeping all the offensives and counter-offensives straight. :p

Wonderful job imposing some kind of order (and rationality) on the wild swings the game threw at you. And, in the final analysis, while I applaud your gains against the Fascist invader, from a story perspective it is heartening to see that the Germans still managed to recover, instead of just crumpling once you pushed them back for real.

you'll notice I excluded the Archangelsk region from the maps - well I did try to include that and even I couldn't make sense of it all. I felt I had to do one overview post to provide a context and think I'll do another about end July 42 when my offensives stall.

I'll try and roughly split up the reports between the battles in the arctic, the ukraine and the action on the Moscow-Minsk axis, plus of course Central Asia and other bits and bobs.

& I'll start (prob later today) with the first siege of Archangelsk.
 

loki100

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The Dead Rise Not: Archangelsk 1 March – 13 May 1942

In all the broad sweep of the dramatic summer of 1942 no single battle has such an iconic place in Soviet history as the fall of Archangelsk. In a way it was of little importance, with Soviet armour driving towards Odessa and preparing for the attack that took our armies from Rzev to the outskirts of Minsk. However, it quickly became, perhaps even more than Leningrad (that endured 5 major attacks and a siege till late in 1943), an emblem of Soviet determination and resistance. Thus in late 1941, any commander asking for reinforcements or to retreat would be tersely reminded "remember the 133rd", from May the message from STAVKA was even more uncompromising – "they did at Archangelsk, you must not fail their memories". The contrast to the collapse at Murmansk in August 1942 could not have been more stark.

The German's had been content to hold the line of the North Dvina from January till early April, a stalemate enforced by a combination of the weather and the sustained assault on their supply lines by the VVS and partisan groups. With the clearing weather they renewed their assault on 12 Army and pushed across the Dvina and swept around to the north east of the city.

Here the Army HQ and a DNO division were encircled and destroyed by 19 April.



Lapominka was lost on 13 April and this allowed the Germans to attack the city from all directions. They had started probing attacks on 13 April



and by 10 May had 6 divisions pressing in on the defenders.


(German troops moving to their assault positions)

Soviet control of the vital airbase at Vologda had allowed some supplies to be flown in and the wounded extracted. However, as the German noose tightened, the only planes that could land and take off were the Po-2s – too small to do anything but move a few men in or out.

As far as possible at the start of the battle, the 2 DNO and the Garrison Division were placed to the rear (though this quickly became a meaningless distinction) and the 3 divisions (38 & 122 Rifle, 83 Mountain) took up defensive positions in the maze of swamps and small rivers to the east while 68 Mountain tried to hold the main line of the Dvina.



It took the Germans over 3 weeks to force their way through this defensive belt, with the Soviet defenders launching localised counterattacks, and holding positions behind their lines to the death. At times the intensity of combat (increased by frequent VVS air strikes) matched that of the first battle of Leningrad.

By 8 May the remaining defenders were forced into the strung out city along the edge of the White Sea. The two DNO formations had been disolved, some sent out as partisans, some incorporated into the rifle divisions, many dead or wounded. The final act was to begin with both sides fully aware of the only possible outcome.



To the west, 83 Mountain was still holding off the now badly weakened 11, 24 and 98 Infantry Divisions.



Whatever happened now, these formations would be no threat to the rest of the Red Army for some time. 228 Infantry was trying to cut the bridges to the east and to link up with 7 SS and 44 Infantry trying to subdue the final resistance of 68 Mountain on the east of the Dvina.


(the Dvina behind 68 Mountain)

83 Mountain fell back slowly to the eastern docks and on 10 May, 228 Infantry secured the western side of the bridges. Now totally isolated, 68 Mountain finally collapsed and the survivors surrendered. Despite the efforts of the VVS, the bridges remained intact and with 3 German infantry divisions pushing from the east the final battles were a set of desparate last stands in the docks.


(Soviet defense position in the main docks area)

Soviet riflement, out of ammunition, threw crates, even tried to use cranes as weapons. The final shots were heard at 3am on 13 May. Archangelsk had fallen and Murmansk was now totally isolated. 5,500 Soviet soldiers died in the battle and the Germans lost nearly 5,000. Worse, including the earlier actions, 8 divisions were removed from the Soviet OOB and a total of 71,500 men entered German captivity.



The victors had their spoils, a 90% ruined town on the edge of the White Sea. They now had to secure it in the face of a Soviet counteroffensive that was steadily moving northwards.
 

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Really nice post. Tough blow for USSR, though, losing so many divisions. Do you have the strength for an immediate counter attack?
 

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Epic battle, big defeat. In terms of divisions, your biggest yet? But you hint at a counterattack and I believe you have previously mentioned that Archangelsk changes hands again (multiple times?), so it clearly didn't slow you down too much.

Basically, the Germans scored a big victory, but in completely the wrong place?
 

loki100

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And soon the encirclers might become encircled. :cool.
Heroic defence. But still a defeat. :(

quite a costly one too, the consequence is now the inevitable destruction of 5-6 divs at Murmansk too. Next time, I'll pull that group out completely, since I get no L-L there is no need to hold onto Murmansk.

Really nice post. Tough blow for USSR, though, losing so many divisions. Do you have the strength for an immediate counter attack?

Not really, as in the next post, in very early April I was making steady progress across the Arctic front, but then by mid-May was being pushed back everywhere. I needed to allocate quite a lot of fresh formations to that sector before I really got a handle on the situation and pushed the Germans back.

Epic battle, big defeat. In terms of divisions, your biggest yet? But you hint at a counterattack and I believe you have previously mentioned that Archangelsk changes hands again (multiple times?), so it clearly didn't slow you down too much.

Just the one more battle there, but its another epic, & I do a lot of logistical strikes so the place is a ruin by the time its in Soviet hands. Its a long time before my forces in the Arctic can be redeployed to the main front.

Basically, the Germans scored a big victory, but in completely the wrong place?

thats a near perfect summary, if they'd put all this effort into the Ukraine and the Crimea I'd be losing things that really matter, as it is the lost divisions hurt me, but their allocation of so much effort to an essentially secondary front really helps me elsewhere.
 

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A very nice update. I was wondering how the soviets in Archangelsk will survive. They did a very daring move liberating it.
 

loki100

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"The Thunders Gossiped Low", The Arctic Campaign, April-May 1942

As the Germans pressed in on Archangelsk, the entire southern flank of what became known as the Arctic front from the Rybinsk Reservoir to the Urals was ablaze with a series of battles. Some were little but small skirmishes over locally important road junctions or river lines. Others, such as the ongoing battles in the Vologda-Cherepovets sectors were part of the wider sequence of Soviet offensives and German counterattacks. As the cold eased, but with deep snow still lieing on the ground, both sides struggled to impose their plans on this Arctic region.



The Germans sought to capture the multitude of small industrial sites in the northern urals and to cut the Trans-Siberian rail. The Soviets to relieve Archangelsk, and then, once it was clear that would fall, first to isolate the axis forces in this region from the main front and destroy them piece-meal. An area with little strategic value in itself was now seen by both high commands as holding the key to much greater gains. The Soviet forces were divided between the 1st Army operating in the Rybinsk sector and the freshly constituted 2 Army responsible for the long front from Staroye to Grinevo.

1 Army was mostly able to consolidate its gains from late March and even push the front north of Cherepovets and Vologda. Kirolov was taken on 9 April, further entrenching the Soviet hold on the vital airbase at Vologda, although a major offensive aimed at Ustjuzhna was beaten off by the 16th.



Following this failure, for the most part 1 Army was able to fend off the relatively weak German blows on its sector.


(Soviet Artillery from 36 Army Corps, just north of Cherepovets)

Since the Army had been taking part in constant operations since Mid-December, it now took the chance to reorganise, re-equip and allow particularly badly cut up formations the chance to regain their organisation and to reinforce.

However, in the eastern part of this front the situation was more fluid, not least as neither side had a coherent front line, instead being channeled by the terrain and the few decent roads into particular areas. 2 Army started fairly successfully taking Staroye, Velikly Ustug and Zhernokovo by 9 April.


(Soviet infantry attack, 20 Corps sector)

To the the east Grinevo was retaken but Morozovo was lost on 16 April as the fighting swirled back and forth. At much the same time the attempt at Sol'vychegodsk was beaten off – an early warning that 2 Army was trying to do too much for its limited resources.



As it concentrated to sustain its offensive actions, 2 Army became very stretched and a large (for the region) German offensive drove in 30 and 6 Cavalry Corps with a series of losses as Verkhovazhe fell on 29 April, Grinevo on 5 May, Fominskaya on 10 May and Shuskoye on 15 May after a bitter two week battle.



On the same day 20 corps lost Morozovo.




(Soviet defense lines at Morozovo)

At this stage the front more or less stalled until June. As the snow melted, neither side could muster the capacity for continued offensive action. However, the German spearhead at Grinevo was less than 50 kms north of the Trans-Siberian and offered a potential threat to the industrial centre at Gorkiy.



STAVKA's unease about a potential encirclement of Moscow from the east, and the desire to relieve Archangelsk had seen the Soviets press home a number of attacks when it might have been wiser to break off. These hard won gains had then been lost in further unequal battles. This led to a very unbalanced death toll of 13,702 Soviets, 9,406 Germans and only 450 of their allies in the period up to mid-May. Having effectively restored the front line they had held in early April, and made some important gains, the German offensive ceased. It seemed as if they were waiting for the forces that had fought at Archangelsk to move south to reinforce the front.

Both sides re-organised, and some important reinforcements were allocated to 2 Army, especially in the Urals region as both sides prepared for the sweeping battles of manouvre in June and July that were pivotal to deciding the ultimate fate of the German Army Group in this region. The small town of Grinevo, and the German salient in that sector was briefly to become an important focus as both sides manouvred to achieve their goals on this sector.
 

loki100

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A very nice update. I was wondering how the soviets in Archangelsk will survive. They did a very daring move liberating it.

Well for a long time, the Arctic is where both sides trade lost divisions, as the front is so open its often very easy to overextend and fall into encirclement, but I do end up culling a ratio of about 2:1 in terms of permanently destroyed formations, which is my first real dent in their OOB.

You inspired me to take up the red banner my self :D

why dont you make a corridor to leningrad and cut off the germans in a massive pocket? :D

glad to inspire others ... if you like a particular form of game play (& you get seasick like me) then the Rodina is the only way to go - at least till the Chinese theatre is improved.

well that is my plan, the only problem is the Germans are sooo unco-operative.