I'll post an AAR of the Grand Campaign in Gary Grigsby's War in the East
here, decided to post it in a new thread to keep things tidy. Because of the scope of the campaign I'll post updates as I play through the campaign."The world will hold its breath."
On June 22nd 1941 Germany, together with its allies, invaded the Soviet Union in what was to become the larget military confrontation in human history.
I'll play the Grand Campaign as the Axis vs (normal) AI, hopefully securing a quick and easy victory against the Red Army who has shown its incompetency recently in the Winter War against Finland. The plan is we'll all be home by Christmas, ready for some R&R in Paris! And while plans rarely survive contact with the enemy, the Führer
himself said that if you just kick in the door the whole rotten structure will come crashing down. So, after the victories of the previous Blitzkrieg
campaigns everybody expects a short and intense campaign which will culminate in nothing but an inevitable and total victory in the East.
It is imperative that the Wehrmacht
inflicts crippling losses on the Red Army and the soviet industrial and manpower base during the summer, hopefully knocking out the USSR in the first round. Neither the German economy nor its army are prepared for a drawn-out war. Logistics will be the Achilles heel of the German war effort, and while the Red Army will fight with severe penalties the 1st couple of months, given enough time it has the potential to grow into an unstoppable juggernaut. Especially when the winter blizzards arrive, the situation for the Axis can quickly turn into a major catastrophe.
For this endeavour, three German Army Groups, supported by Hungarian, Romanian, Italian, and Slovakian forces with more than 4.5 million men are at my command, from Königsberg
in the North to Constanta
at the Black Sea coast. The tip of the spear of the invasion will be the four Panzergruppen
, basically Panzer Armies in all but the name, with Panzergruppe 4 (Hoeppner) with Army Group North, Panzergruppen 2 (Guderian) and 3 (Hoth) with Army Group Center and Panzergruppe 1 (v. Kleist) with Army Group South.
Against these forces stands the Red Army with more than 4.2 million men organized in a dozen military districts, from 'Western' to 'Transcaucasus'.
The scene is set: Turn 1:
The war starts with the axis air forces exacting a terrible toll on the Red Army Air Force. Everything that flies attacks soviet airfields, with no regard to pilot fatigue. The aircrews may rest later, but during the first week they don't get a break. After seven days the red air force has lost more than 4700
aircraft while we only lost ~120 planes. We shouldn't need to worry about the Red Air Force any more for the coming weeks.
In the Army Group North sector the initial attack is met with only light and uncoordinated resistance. The infantry divisions of 16th and 18th army breach the soviet defenses east of Königsberg and the Panzerdivisions of XXXXIst and LVIst Panzerkorps(reinforced by Totenkopf
SS division) race through the torn frontline north, reaching Riga
after a 180 mile advance. The few unfortunate soviet armoured and mechanized formations in the way of the Panzers are literally swept away in the onslaught. Besides making sure the Feldeisenbahndirektion
attached to AG North immediately starts converting the rail lines in the captured territory I transfer the infantry divisions from the Panzerkorps to infantry corps for supply reasons. XXXXIth PzKps now includes 2 Panzer and 1 Motorized Infantry divisions and LVIth PzKps 1 Panzer and 2 MotInf divisions.
My plans for AG Centre involve creating a large pocket west of Minsk, hopefully trapping the bulk of the Soviet armies deployed on its western border. To achieve this I will use a pincer attack by Panzergruppe 3 from east of Königsberg and Panzergruppe 2 from the Brest-Litowsk area. In the north the infantry of Vth, VIth and XXTh corps shatter soviet defenses and again the armoured spearheads dash forward. 7th Panzer and 18th Motorized Division are the 1st formations reaching the outskirts of Minsk.
In the south Soviet soldiers fanatically defend the fortress of Brest-Litowsk against the German assault. The heaviest fighting so far causes considerable losses among my attacking forces, but finally the attacks by 31st, 34st and 45st infantry divisions, well supported by corps artillery and the Luftwaffe break the defenders. With the road clear, Guderian orders the Panzers forward and 3rd PzDiv at last makes contact with 12th PzDiv south-west of Minsk! The 1st great Kessel
on the Eastern Front has been sealed, all rail lines are cut. 20 soviet division plus several brigade- and regimental size formations have been surrounded. With their supply cut off the infantry of 4th and 9th armies will get the orders to destroy these forces in the next turn.