|(Armed Forces Report)|
|This page is a concise running commentary on my current Master Europa game.|
At the present time I am playing a scenario called "Objective Baku".
The picture above depicts the roughly what I would call the Alamein line. The Germans and the Italians have basically outrun their supplies. They are in the process of bringing up more supplies, which is a terribly slow and tedious process. Once I have enough supplies for about a month and a half of combat, then the Axis will probably launch an attack, but the question remains.....where? The British are reinforcing their line, and they are starting to build up reserves behind the front. The British should soon have enough strength to launch an attack on the Axis forces in front of them, unless I have to take some units and transfer them to the North to meet the Germans/Italians coming down out of Turkey.
This photo shows the British controlled Nile delta, Palistine and the Levant. The British have several divisions moving North through Palistine and the Levant to the Turkish Front. The Germans and Italians have turned the flank of the British in Turkey and have broken out on the plains below Turkey. There are several airfields in Palistine which I have been unable to activate due to lack of supplies. The British have been using their supplies going North to keep thier 18th Army supplied, but unfortunately I have not had enough to supplies to activate the airfields.
The photo above shows the area where the Germans (5th Panzer Army) broke through the still forming British front. The unit under the U-1 is the British 51st Infantry division. It was attacked and forced back, thus clearing the way for the Germans to unleash their 5th Panzer Army onto the plains South of Turkey. The German divisions that are visible are part of the 25th Army. They are following in the wake of the 5th Panzer Army and are thus securing the flanks and the rear. To the North is the German 1st Fallschirmjaeger Korps, which is defending along the Munzer Mountains against the growing Soviet front. As of yet, the threat from the Russians is minimal, but that could change. The Russians need to bring their weight to bear, and soon, to help the British out, as the British are fighting for their lives.
This final picture shows the locations of the Italian 9th Army which is bringing its strength to bear on the left flank of the British 18th Army, while you can also see the German 5th Panzer Army units that have broken through the Munzer Mountains and are now in the plains below the mountains. Three panzer divisions are near the outskirts of Alep in the Levant. The British route of withdrawl is close to being severed. During this portion of the British turn, I plan on withdrawing the British 18th Army to the South as best I can. I need to probably withdraw them into Palastine and try to form some kind of mobile reserve. I may need to take some units from the Alamein front. The key for the British is not to have too many units get surrounded while withdrawing from the Mountains in southern Turkey. The Russians need to continue to build up their strength and eventually launch an attack to try to draw the German attention away from the British. As of now the Germans/Italians are focusing the destruction of the British 18th Army. After that, their plan is to link of with their forces in North Africa to defeat the British 8th Army.
(One thing to note with this scenario is the fact that the best British strategy is to occupy the Southern Mountain line in Turkey and reinforce the moutnain passes, as this is about the only area where the German units could attack through. Unfortunately for the British, during the first few turns, they are fighting for their lives in North Africa and cannot really move units into Turkey. It is not until the GHQ reserves start getting released that Britain has units to man that Mountain line in Turkey, but by then the Germans have demolished the Turks (and this is assuming the Turks don't join the Germans), and it is then a race to the mountain passes. Even if the British manage to man the passes, it is not a sure bet that they can hold them, as the 5th Panzer Army is a strong unit, and the Germans have the 1st Fallschirmjaeger Korps as an "ace in the hole". All in all, this is a very interesting scenario, definately one of those "what ifs", and it makes one really see how the Germans probably underutilzed their strategic reserve, as most of the units in this scenario where on occupation duty in the occupied countries, and thus were playing no definative role in the battles during the spring/summer of 1942--was this a case of underutilization of reserves? Probably so, but more research will need to be done on this question.)
The above picture shows the Italian 8th Army and it's attacks on the remnants of the British 8th and 2nd Army. The British were initially faced by the Italian 8th Army and the German 5th Panzer Army. Between those two armies, they were able to take the ports of Suez and Said, which meant that the only supplies coming in to the British were through Alexandria. This meant that the British would be unable to supply all of their units in the area, and have any hope of supplying the airfields as well. The Germans/Italians then started a concerted air campaign to destroy the port of Aleaxandria. Within a month the port had been reduced to its absolute minimum. By this time, the German 5th Panzer Army had left the area and moved to Southeastern Turkey to undertake offensive operations against the heavily reinforced Russians. The Itialian 8th Army has since conducted offensive operations against the British in the hope of clearing them from the port of Alexandria and the rail line leading to Tobruk. Many Commonwealth units have been destroyed, but the British are clinging tenaciously to Alexandria (and are therefore keeping the Itialians and the Germans from bringing supplies via the rail line to Tobruk).
The above picture shows the initial American and British units of operation Torch. They have raced forward and have occupied positions in far Western Algeria and Eastern Tunisia. Their supply lines are very long, and it is taking
a half dozen or so QM units to keep them even somewhat supplied. The Allies are also in the process of setting up some airfields in Eastern Algeria as well. Setting up about a dozen airfields that are close to the battlefield should ensure that the Allies will air superiority over the battlefield. The Itilians have not been idle while the Allies were racing across Morocco and Algeria. They have sent some units across from Sicily and they have moved some divisions and regiments from the Itialian 8th Army in Egypt (and the entire 9th Italian Army is on the move from Egypt to Tunisia). They are in the process of setting up a line of defense that runs along some mountains and rough terrain in central Tunisia. The Italians have many other units that are racing west from Egypt in the hope that they will get there to buttress the front lines before the Allies can reinforce theirs. The Germans have also started to send some units (including the DAK) to Tunisia. The Itilians and the Germans are using their large fleets of JU52 and Gigants to transport supplies and units from Sicily to Tunisia. So, it is important for the Axis to hold on to the ports of Bizerte and Tunis, and it is equally important for the Allies to either capture those ports, or at leas try to reduce them via bombing missions (although there is a large amount of flak in each city).
This picture shows the German positions in Western Iran. The Russians have tried to hold the mountain passes, but have been pushed back to the east. The German 36th Korps is especially close to breaking out into the open, as the Fegelein cav. division has no Russians in front of them and will soon exploit into the Russian operational dephts. Shortly after this picture was taken, the Russians launched a retrograde movement with all of their units in Iran (as their position in western Iran had become untenable). The Russians moved back to the North of Iran along a line of mountains, rivers and rough terrain.
This picture shows the newly arrived 5th Panzer Army (the two large stacks in the center of the picture) and its attack on the Russian positions that ran along a line of mountains in eastern Turkey. The 5th Panzer has blasted its way through a large valley in the mountains and is seeking to exploit along this valley. The infantry units to the right of the Panzer divisions would go over to the offensive as well and the entire Russian position in front of the 5th Panzer Army would crumble. Please note the LARGE Russian stacks in the North of the picture. These are massive Russian reinforcements that have just arrived and would soon be used to buttress the defenses in front of the 5th Panzer Army. These new Russian units, along with the Snow weather will bring 5th Panzer's offensive to a crawl.
The above four pictures show the end of the game. The first two of the four pictures are from about I May turn of 1943. In these the Germans are smasing the remants of about three Russian armies in the Southern Caucusus. Baku has long since fallen, and the Germans had within the preceding two-three months already pocketed about four other Russian armies. By the I May turn, most of the 5th Panzer Army is already redeploying around the southern shores of the Caspian for the planned German summer offensive into the deep rear of the Russian armies on the Eastern Front. 25th Army is finishing the destruction of the three Russian armies, and when finished will move to the South and East around the Caspian to join with the 5th Panzer Army. 11th German Army has alreay finished it offensive against Russian units in far eastern Turkey and is redeploying onto the railways for the move to the southern Caspian area and the summer offensive.
The situation in Tunisia has turned from good to bad in no time at all. The British had launched a strong offensive in the North against the Itilians and had succeeded in capturing the port of Bizerte. In the process they destroyed about 2-3 Italians divisions/division equivelants. Unfortunately for the Allies, the American lines were stretched too thin, and could not hold back Panzer Armee Afrika, which burst through the thin American front and eventually reached the coast about 80 miles in the rear of Bizert, thus cutting off about 6-7 British divisions. During this German offensive, around 4 Allied divisions were either completely destroyed or partially destroyed. In the meantime the Italians have broken through in the area of Constantine and having driven another deep wedge into the Allied lines. The Game comes to an end at this point (June II turn).
By the June II turn in the Cuacuses, the Germans have completely cleared the remaining Soviet pocket and all of 5th Panzer and 11th Army are redployed to the Eastern side of the Caspian. The 25th Army is on the railways, and is in the proces of moving to its jumping off positions on the eastern side of the Caspian. At this point, the Game comes to and end (June II turn).
I must admit, I was extremely intrigued by this scenario, since it was hypothical for the most part. I started out by attacking Turkey and I did not roll to see if the Turks would resist or capitulate. I simply had the Turks resist. It would indeed have made life very bad for the Allies had the Turks capitulated immediately, as the Germans pounded their way through Turkey for about 3-4 months. Turkey is a very large country, and is mostly mountainous or rough terrain, and with the Bosporous and Dardenelles acting as a good defensive barrier right off the bat, the going was rather slow initially for the Germans. On the Allied side, the most logical thing to do would be to pull back to the Alamein position in North Africa and send reinforcements to the Turks and take up positions along the mountains in Southern Turkey. I decided that if the British were going to be offering the Turks some military assistance, then they would need to send some divisions into Turkey itself and not simply stop at the border (southern mountains). I sent in two divisions, one armored and one Indian division from Iraq. All further reinforcements were sent to the mountains in the southern portion of Turkey, where I started fortifying the passes through the mountains. The Germans smashed what was the left of the Turkish army and the two divisions that the British had sent to help out the Turks. The Germans then pushed on to the border with Turkey and Syria, where they managed after some difficulty to punch their way through to the south eastern portion of Turkey (where there is only rought terrain--a mountain valley). In the meantime in North Africa the British had been surrounded and pushed back into Tobruk. About two divisions managed to escape to the east and took up positions to the West of El Alamein. The Germans and the Italians eventually managed to work their way to the south around the El Alamein positions and started to attack the British from the rear (Cairo was then threatened). Also, at this time the German 5th Panzer Army and elements of the 25th Army were on the eastern side of Egyt after pushing south out of Turkey against the British 18th Army (which was destroyed in the process). The Italian and German units coming from the West eventually joined up with the 5th and the 25th coming from the East and finished clearing Egyt of the British. During this time I moved many British divisions from their strategic reserve to the Middle East, but unfortunately it was too little, and they took a long time to get there. By this time the British and the Americans then landed in Morocco and Algeria and pushed on towards Tunisia. Unlike what happened historically, the Itilians and the Germans were able to turn their still intact armies around (Panzer Armee Arfika and the Itilian 8th and 9th Armies), and moved as fast as they could to Tunisia. In Tunisia, the Allies ran into the same problems they did historically (lack of supplies--which lead to a lack of air cover, as I simply had to choose what to supply--either the troops or the airbases, I just simply did not have enough supplies to do both, and this would hinder my Allied operations until the end). The Allies were eventually able to make several successful drives against the Germans/Itilians, but the existance of a four Panzer Division stack (5th Panzer Armee) proved to be too much, and they simply choose weeks spots in the Allied lines, and blasted their way through, which kept pocketing small/medium amounts of allied units. One thing I will say here, is that once an American unit was destroyed, it could be rebuilt within no time at all, as the Americans had a large amount of replacment points with which to rebuild destroyed units.
After the 5th Panzer Army and the 25th Army finished destroying the British in Egypt, then turned to the North east and attacked the Russians (who had been held in check by the 11th German Army and large segments of the 25th Army) through the south eastern corner of Turkey. There is a portion of Turkey in the south east that has rough terrain and cuts its way through the mountains. This is where I decided to make my push to Tbilisi. It took many months of slow and hard fighting, but the Germans finally managed to break through and cross the border into the Southern Soviet Union. At that point they blasted their way through to Tbilisi, and then turned to the east and within a month or so of hard fighting managed to capture Baku (and the Baku oilfields). In the meantime the German 11th Army managed to pocket 2 Russian armies in the eastern mountains of Turkey, and the 25th Army moving up through Iran managed to also surround and destroy around 5 Russian armies. These pockets were all made possible by the deep operations of the German 5th Panzer Army (which during the spring of 1943 had 8 Panzer and Panzer Grenadier divisions--so it was a very strong unit). Playing the Russians I was frustrated with their inability to stop the Germans. Even it I had two rifle divisions in the line (8 defensive points), I was unable to stop the 5th Panzer Army (which frequently fielded 3 Panzer Division Korps--which after the 2.5 CEV--had a total attack strength usually around 100, including a few attached units). Unless the Russians were defending in mountainous terrain, they simply could not stop the 5th Panzer, and I NEVER attacked with the 5th Panzer against a mountainous hex. In retrospect, I would say that the 2.5 CEV is probably on the high side (I came into this game thinking 2.5 was right on, but I really think it is a tad high. I am guessing 2 to 2.25 would be more accurate. No doubt there were many battles during this time of the war that the Germans did manage to inflict 2.5 times the casualties on the Russians, but it would seem that overall, the 2.5 is too high for 1943). As the Russian player, I tried to make as many 10 point stacks as I could, but the front was simply too long to form many of those. Trying to make a doulbe line is useless as well, as the Germans just simply roll right through the first line during the movement phase (and maybe the second line as well), and then during the combat phase they attack the second line and then exploit deep into the Soviet Operational rear during the exploitation phase. The Russians were able to deliver some hard counter blows with some nice armored corps stacks, but these were few and far between.
The Russians lost the following units during the figthing in eastern Turkey, Iraq/Iran, and the southern Causcuses:
Construction Brigades: 4
Rocket Artillery Regt: 10
Anti-Tank Brigade: 5
Rifle Divisions: 22
Rifle Brigades: 15
Tank Brigades: 22
Calvary Divisions: 8
Tank Corps: 6
Artillery Brigades: 12
Engineer Brigades: 4
Guards Rifle Divisions: 18
Ski Brigades: 3
Border Regiments: 4
Security Brigades: 2
As you can see, this is a significant force. I moved the German 11th Army, 25th Army and the 5th Panzer Army to the southeastern area of the Caspian, in order to launch a summer offensive against the deep flank of the Russian front. I am assuming that while Army Group B was destroying the Russian armies it faced, German Army Group A would then have been able to destroy the Russian units it faced, as the Russians would have been in the middle of a huge vice. With Army Group A completing the destruction of the Russian armies that they were facing, it is then assumed that both the 17th Army and the 1st and 4th Panzer armies could have then turned north and helped buttres the area around Stalingrad, perhaps even pushing on to Ashtrakhan, and thus threaten the flank of Stalingrad. I am also assuming that the Russians either were unable or unwilling to launch their Novemeber 1942 offensive and that in the summer of 1943 the front line is still along the Volga at Stalingrad, and thence to Ashtrakhan on the Caspian. Which it turns out, is an ideal starting to position for the Germans launch a large offensive into the deep strategic rear of the Russian front. They would attack towards Gorki, and then up to Arkhangelsk, thus cutting off every Russian unit to the west of this line.
Overall this was a very fun/challenging scenario. I started the game back in August of 2010, and I just finished on February 11th 2011, so it is a long game. It would be interesting to take the same type of scenario and apply it to 1941 instead. This I will have to try sometime.