Megablitz at RMCS Shrivenham continued
The Romanians Surprise Everyone
With forward airstrips still being established on both sides, Air Liaison Officers on both sides were busy establishing targets for reconnaisance. The Soviets concentrated on KHARKOV and the Axis recce focussed on finding forward airstrips. A lone Luftwaffe pilot following the railway running east out of KHARKOV, in the hope of finding a train to beat up, noticed activity to his north and stumbled across the Soviet North (1) airstrip.
This discovery was followed up rapidly by the Royal Romanian Airforce at North, a full 2 regiments of 4 squadrons in total making it into the air and safely home again. The Luftwaffe had the foresight to fly photo-recce after the raid and so spotted that 66% (2SP) of the ground support had been destroyed.
In the photo above (all copyright Tom Mouat in this post unless otherwise noted), the first wave of fighters has just attacked the airstrip to little effect and is heading south to seek further targets. The second wave of dive bombers is approaching, and was to prove much more effective. The rest of the Luftwaffe was busy supporting the sorely pressed Romanian right flank to the southeast of KHARKOV, causing casualties amongst the Soviet divisional command staff (1SP).
The morning of day two saw another concerted Soviet effort against the KHARKOV marshalling yards. Four squadrons of aircraft can be seen in the photo above leaving South(3) and Centre(2) on their way to KHARKOV. Three squadrons of fighters and two of Stormoviks are about to cross the front line to the east of the city. The Germans had allocated fighter defence and Flak to the rail yards but it failed to prevent the attacks breaking through, and caused little damage on the attackers.
Overnight, German command had confirmed that air support would firstly be concentrated against the left (northern) flank, then switched south to the right flank. Dawn saw the Romanians in the air against a key bridge in the north on the last remaining river (R. KHAR’KOV) between the Soviets and KHARKOV. Worryingly, they didn’t have far to fly from their airstrip!
This attack was coordinated with a further six Luftwaffe squadrons flying from airstrips further south, so the Soviet attack was hit by a mighty 11SPs. This was as good as it was ever going to get! The enemy was left reeling with 1SP on his armour , but 3SPs on his logistic tail. Not for the first time in the battle, I regretted not bringing along plumes of black cotton wool.
The Soviets,meanwhile were having a little local difficulty at their Centre and South forward airstrips : German recce had broken through to the rear areas and armoured car squadrons were scampering around like mice. Ground crews could be seen refuelling the remaining squadrons on the ground, then driving north even as the last aircraft were lumbering ito the air. This undoubtedly prevented further attacks against the marshalling yards taking place that day. Despite casualties from aircraft that had just made it into the air, General von Stahl’s Aufklärungs Kompanies had their happy faces on as they overran two forward airstrips
A further two fighter squadrons climb into the air in the nick of time from South(3) in the photo above. The air traffic control van is one of my old die-cast Ledo Models, now in Tim’s collection. The 15mm/1:100th scale is not so well-provided with cheap technical support models at the moment and I have still to amass enough toys to provide credible ground support. It is probably time to start carving balsa and pine as I did for 20mm/1:72nd scale, although Zvezda has plenty of cheap trucks to provide cabs and wheels this time around.
To be continued …