Tag Archives: Kursk

NQM Soviet Summer Offensive 1943 (Part 3) VORONEZH Front

Bf 110s catch the 61 Army headquarters

The following briefing was given to the online player

You are the commander of 1 Tank Army, comprising:

6 Tank Corps

31 Tank Corps

3 Mechanised Corps

You also have Army level artillery and engineer assets and are attacking west along the KURSK-POLTAVA Axis. You expect to meet the defeated remnants of LII Armeekorps. To your north. 5 Guards Army has defeated XXXXIV Armeekorps .

To the south, 23 and 2 Tank Corps are engaging Fascist tanks, and have identified the SS Wiking Panzer Division and 23 Panzer Division.

Your mission is to strike Northwest from POLTAVA and break out into the Fascist rear areas. If you succeed in this aim it is likely that the enemy front will collapse in disarray.

As the Army Commander, It is important to maintain the aim. Your corps commanders will undoubtedly want to protect their flanks and settle for lesser gains. It is your task to ensure that the Front Commander’s will is enacted.

The game is planned for tomorrow with players online and “on table”.

Previous intelligence briefings are available here, should you wish to avail yourself of them.

1 Tank Army Summer Offensive 1943

The Great Patriotic War

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NQM Soviet Summer Offensive 1943 (Part 2)

Soviets advance to the attack

“Obergefreiter, are those Ivans?”

To the north of the Steppe Front, the Voronezh Front advanced on a broad frontage through the increasingly hilly country towards the more open region of the DONETS BASIN. Here, as further South, the German line was stretched thinly, and in some depth, concentrated around the obvious axes of advance.

Soviet Summer Offensive 02 VORONEZH

Voronezh Front.

From KURSK, the Reka (River) SEYM lazily winds its way west, joining the River DESNA to the east of CHERNIHIV in the Ukraine. Although the river valley itself forms a meandering flood plain with numerous oxbow lakes, the surrounding countryside is closer and hillier, with low rolling contours and forests. Although there are no major settlements, the countryside is dotted with villages and small towns.

It was here that the commander of 2nd Panzer Army (2PzA), Rudolf Schmidt, dug in his forward infantry divisions, 134ID to the north of the river and 296ID to the south, both from LIII Korps. Facing them were 4o  Army (40A) north of the river and 5 Guards Army (5GdA) to the south.

Bridge blown in the nick of time

Second bridge over the River Seym blown in the nick of time.

At the time of the attack however, Schmidt had been arrested and replaced by General of Infantry Heinrich Clößner, a solid and highly decorated commander. Clöβner still retained command of LIII Korps. Consequently, the army headquarters was in some disarray, as Schmidt’s brother had just been arrested for having sold Enigma secrets to the French in 1940!

StG 2 Stukas on target as JG 52 chases the VVS off.

The Soviets came on in the same old way, chewing through both lead divisions, taking moderate casualties themselves, but not being slowed down overly much.¹

As the first advanced outposts of the German defensive lines were being met, scouts were infiltrating around them to reach the first of the major bridge crossings. The German assault pioneers were quicker though and the bridge was blown in the face of the advancing Soviet scouts. Soon the Soviet pioneers were equally busy throwing prefabricated bridge units and anything else to hand over the tangled wreckage to make the bridges passable.

Pioneers well to the fore with well-rehearsed drills.

Stormoviks from 2VVS added their weight to the corps artillery … with less than impressive results! LuftFlotte 4, JG 52 (2 Bf 109s) and StG 2 (1 Ju 87 D) managed to intercept some of the sorties, mitigating the damage that might otherwise have occurred.

With less than impressive results

Heavy dice doing their job … with less than impressive results!

The depth of the German defences was enough to blunt the momentum of 40A, and 38A took over the lead. 5GdA had been advancing north of the River SEYM at a slower rate, having fewer obvious lines of attack.

The German second defensive line astride the river comprised 56ID  “Schwerter (Swords)” and 112ID and the defensive battles here were as fierce but equally as doomed to failure as the forward divisions. The reserve line lasted longer, as it was bolstered directly with artillery fire and the remnants of the previous two lines that had managed to retreat this far. The second bridge was destroyed.

Luftwaffe sees off the VVS (2)

40A logistic transport pushes forward to maintain momentum in the midst of air attacks.

The Soviets had broken through the main German defensive crust, but had exhausted two armies in the process.  7 Guards Army (7GdA) was still well to the east, having just cleared VORONEZH on a very congested supply route that was currently being asked to support four armies. The game ended with the two main lines having been breached, and the Soviets pushing densely packed columns along the road in an westerly direction.

Div HQ in the front line

An obvious choke point!

Game Notes.

  1. Phil is good at this sort of thing, having been playing for at least twenty years, and probably more. He prefers going round the flank with cavalry though, given a choice.
  2. This battle was fought at Front Scale (FSO), so a Division comprised two or three infantry stands representing regiments, an HQ and a medium artillery stand. Recce and engineers were managed at corp level. You can see antitank guns pretending to be lefH 10.5 artillery pieces.
  3. YesthatPhil took the Soviets and I ‘plumpired’ the Germans. As a point of courtesy, I will always try to give the most interesting side to a guest player. It doesn’t always work, but did on this occasion. Besides, I like a lost cause!
  4. I had been mulling over comments regarding the use of pins from the previous post. It dawned on me that the NQM casualty mechanism and Niel Thomas’s four step reduction are similar in all the important details, (he of One Hour Wargames fame). I tried putting all three casualties onto one stand instead of spreading them around evenly, then removing the stand on receipt of the fourth overload casualty. It works, of course, but importantly it has no overall ratio change of effect on a typical combat and it removes the need to stick pins into the bases of your figures. YesthatPhil has always just laid them on his nicely sculpted bases. After Phil had left, I finished off the north using the ‘no pin’ method, and will try it in the next game.
    • It also has the benefit of removing the need to paint traffic light stripes onto the back of every single base, and will reduce the overall numbers of Dead Freds and his mates that are littering the battlefield.
    • Because all the casualties belong to one stand, it is easier to see the state of a unit. They may be less likely to be left behind.
    • The point at which morale checks are needed are easier to see.
  5. Reorganisation will now remove all casualties on a base. I’ve done a quick number crunch, and the effect is similar enough overall to halving casualties, but with the following benefits:
    • It is quicker to do, with less moving around of markers and pins.
    • It is less likely that ‘zombie units’ will be allowed to exist. A zombie unit is one that is carrying more casualties than is permissible, or  that has gone past the point where it should have taken a morale check. In the past we just reasoned that the units ignored their officers, or were inspired by them, or whatever. Zombies just don’t know when to lie down!

 

 

 

 

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NQM Soviet Spring Offensive 1943 (Part 20) – Second BRYANSK

The Railhead at BRYANSK, where 2 Armee Headquarters was located, on the River DESNA,  was a scene of frantic activity. Trains bursting with infantry and ammunition were pulling in to the rail-head, disgorging their loads and returning full with casualties and non-essential technical specialists. Palls of smoke marked sites around the headquarters, where confidential documents were being burned. Civilians were being pressed into digging defences. BRYANSK was a city under siege

The infantry of IX Armeekorps, retreating from STALINOGORSK to the north, and LIII Armeekorps withdrawing to the west from KURSK  were being thrown back into the line as soon as they reformed. To the west of this area was where the Panzer divisions of 2,3 Panzerarmee and Heersgruppe Mitte were poised for a counterattack, as soon as the moment was judged to be correct.

2SSPz and 47 PzGren Divisions Assemble for the counterattack

2 SS Panzer and 47 Panzergrenadier Divisions Assemble for the counterattack.

XX Armeekorps with the veteran Prussian 258 and newly raised 292 Infantry Divisions. Had scarcely reformed at GOMEL before the lead elements of 16 Tank Corps, 2 Tank Army were probing their defences.

258 Inf Div halt 2 Tk Army

The veteran 258 Infantry Division halts the lead elements of 16 Tank Corps, 2 Tank Army. Note the dug-in marker.

The Corps, at the end of its supply line did not press the attack, but withdrew out of contact to await the rest of 2 Tank Army.

16 Tk Corps from 2 Tk Army take casualties and halt

16 Tank Corps from 2 Tank Army takes casualties and halts.

IX Armeekorps,  although a Korps in name, 7, 78 and 252 Infantry Divisions amounted to little more than a single division as they traveled east by rail to reinforce the defences of BRYANSK.

General Weise,  of XXXV Armeekorps defending the east bank of the River with 262 and 293 Infantry Divisions was hanging on to the east bank of the River DESNA but was aware that the west bank had fallen in the south of the city.  He counterattacked but failed to make significant progress against the bridgehead.

The Soviet Commander of 61 Army was pressurising his exhausted divisional commanders, expecting progress in the north that proved to be slow in coming against VII Armeekorps  with 16, 17 and 387 Infantry Divisions.

28 Rifle Corps comprising 132 and 211 RDs in the first wave of 70 Army in the south made good progress, set back by counterattacks that slowed, but failed to dislodge the bridgeheads. 2 Tank Army, continued to press forward with 9, 16 and 19 Tank Corps until their progress was halted by the veteran dug-in 258 Infantry Division.

47PzGren Div attacks

47 Panzer Grenadier Division attacks.

The Germans had not been idle :  2 SS Panzer Division and 47 Panzergrenadier Division hit the burgeoning Soviet breakout in flank with a well-timed counterattack. Dispersing the attack, the Panzers did not halt but pressed on to the southeast to meet up with a southern pincer comprising three Panzer divisions, 14Pz, 16Pz and 22Pz east of KURSK.

2SSPz and 47PzGren take heavy casualties but press on to KURSK

2 SS Panzer and 47 Panzergrenadier Divisions take heavy casualties but press on to KURSK.

Following on behind them, were such infantry divisions that could be mustered to reinforce BRYANSK. Casualties were not all one-sided though, the independent Tiger battalion being reduced in fighting strength to negligible levels through a combination of battle casualties, lack of fuel and ammunition, and breakdowns.

The Disordered remnants of 2 Tank Army pull back to the River DESNA

The Disordered remnants of 2 Tank Army pull back to the River DESNA

At the same time, to the north of BRYANSK, the infantry of 3 Panzer Army¹ were preparing to counterattack to recover lost ground to TULA and beyond.

… to be continued.

Footnotes:

  1. A Panzer army in name only.
Is your tank big enough now Tovarishch

Is your tank big enough now Tovarishch?

Post Game Notes.

1. My Stuka zu Fuss had its first outing and performed better than expected for a short-ranged heavy engineer unit. No-one had told them that heavies normally roll low!

2.  My scruffy Airfix US Marine rubber dinghies are back. In compensation, I have some spiffy dug-in markers from Peter Pig.

3. I was resigned to fighting this phase as a solo game, but YesthatPhil arrived unexpectedly with doughnuts! Phil took the Germans this time. If there is only one player, I try to offer them the side that will be most interesting to play, unless they express a strong preference for one side or another. We spent rather longer than planned discussing Ian Lowell’s novel “Rein Bow Warriors” Ruleset, after a playtest on Tuesday night. Trebian has written it up if you like armies that  gallop around in wicker baskets on wheels and chuck spears at each other.

4. Again, liberties were taken with scale to bring activity that should more properly have been well off-table into view. In particular the distance from BRYANSK to GOMEL was ludicrously compressed. Hence, the German Panzers apparently popped out of nowhere onto the tabletop.

5. Ignore the T-34/85s, which were not in service yet (first production Dec 1943 according to Zaloga (1984) and so probably not reaching units in significant numbers until Spring 1944). They are supposed to be T34/76s Models 1940-43.

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NQM Soviet Spring Offensive 1943 (Part 19) – Second BRYANSK

BRYANSK looking south.

Warning, although this battle was fought to a conclusion in three hours, the write-up ties in a lot of loose ends from previous posts at this stage of the campaign. Casual readers are advised that it is perfectly acceptable to skip most of the text and look at the pictures.  🙂

West bank of the BRESNA looking north

West bank of the DESNA looking north.

BRYANSK’s importance to the Wehrmacht was as an army railhead and defended city in the direct path of the closing Soviet pincers. It was also where 2 Armee Headquarters was located. Even today, the city is relatively low rise (four story apartment blocks) and sprawling, with open streets, sitting on the River DESNA. It was not an easy city to defend, so to reflect this, I made the built-up area much larger than has been customary for cities of this size. The first NQM battle for BRYANSK in March 1942 can be found here.

The Luftwaffe on a preemptive strike looking south

The Luftwaffe on a pre-emptive strike looking south.

With the fall of ORYOL, TULA and KURSK, if BRYANSK were to fall before the infantry of IX Armeekorps, retreating from STALINOGORSK to the north, and LIII Armeekorps withdrawing to the west from KURSK, then a potential catastrophe could unfold at BRYANSK. To the west of this area was where the Panzer divisions of 2,3 Panzerarmee and Heersgruppe Mitte were mustering for a counterattack, but were not yet ready.

28 Rifle Corps HQ forming up to attack south BRYANSK

28 Rifle Corps HQ forming up to attack south BRYANSK.

In addition, units were streaming through the city to avoid being surrounded  as the Soviets closed in from the north and east. Amongst these formations were XX Armeekorps with the veteran Prussian 258 and newly raised 292 Infantry Divisions. Both had suffered heavily in the retreat from MOSCOW and were at half strength. The remaining division in the Korps, 183 had fared rather better and was close to full strength. All had withdrawn well to the rear around GOMEL before the battle began.

293 Infantry Division in southeast BRYANSK

293 Infantry Division in south east BRYANSK looking west.

IX Armeekorps had been equally roughly handled by the Soviets, and although a Korps in name, 7, 78 and 252 Infantry Divisions amounted to little more than a single division regrouping around GOMEL. The remaining 35 Infantry Division had lost all its heavy equipment in the retreat, so had been sent to France to rebuild, being reduced also to regimental strength.

BRYANSK Map April 1943 Copyright Dormouse.

BRYANSK Map April 1943 (Copyright Dormouse 2021).

General Weise, the newly appointed commander of XXXV Armeekorps defending the east bank of the River with 262 and 293 Infantry Divisions clearly understood that BRYANSK must not fall.² His Korps had been roughly handled at ORYOL but had managed to break contact and recover to BRYANSK, collecting stragglers on the way and absorbing reinforcements from other retreating divisions. The Korps was under no illusion that another retreat would be tolerated, and set about fortifying their position as best they could.

On the west bank to the north, VII Armeekorps  with 16 and 387 Infantry Divisions had conducted a successful fighting withdrawal from KALUGA, pursued by 10 Army. They had brought with them the Bavarian 17 Infantry Division, and together they held the northeastern quarter of the city, masked by forest on the northeastern bank.

VII Armeekorps with ferry points in the north of BRYANSK.

VII Armeekorps with ferry points in the north of BRYANSK looking west.

The three divisions were well supported by heavy artillery that had been massing there ready for the planned counteroffensive, but in infantry strength they only amounted to a single full strength division. Pioneers had been preparing the main bridges in the centre of the city for demolition.¹ in addition, each division had ferries and pontoons ready to allow infantry to cross the river for logistics and reinforcement.³

Opening shot of new heavy artillery. subsequent rounds were more effective.

Opening shot of Phil’s new heavy artillery. Subsequent rounds were more effective.

The attack began as planned for the Soviets, with desultory recce results doing little to impede or delay the deployment of 61 Army ( in the north and 28 Rifle Corps comprising 132 and 211 RDs in the first wave of 70 Army in the south. 2 Tank Army, in accordance with its orders, found a river crossing well to the south of BRYANSK and lost no time in throwing 2 Tank Army comprising 9, 16 and 19 Tank Corps across the River DESNA with 3 Tank Corps held in reserve to protect the river crossings.

2 Tank Army overrun a logistic dump

Lead elements of 2 Tank Army overrun a logistic dump.

As the leading Soviet divisions on the open ground to the east of BRYANSK came within range of divisional artillery, they began to dig in, returning fire with their own guns. Although less effective than the Germans, the weight of fire began to mount against the defenders.

To the north, by taking advantage of heavily wooded terrain, the leading divisions of 61 Army were able to close with the German advanced positions on the east bank of the DESNA. There were also lakes that I did not model in this sector, as I am still coming to terms with the limitations of squares.  356 Rifle Division was repulsed by the reduced 17 Infantry Division that had been reduced to battalion strength before the Soviets withdrew, with 50% casualties inflicted on the Soviets, mostly by artillery and close tactical bombing from a well-coordinated Luftwaffe.

Heavy fighting around the north of BRYANSK.

Heavy fighting around the north of BRYANSK.

Despite this, 336 Rifle Division bridged the DESNA and swung south to attack the positions of VII Armeekorps.

Soviets bridge the River DESNA and attack the north of BRYSNSK

VII Armeekorps hangs on by the thinnest of margins in the north of BRYANSK

VII Armeekorps hangs on by the thinnest of margins in the north of BRYANSK

To the south, the BRYANSK garrison commander tightened his perimeter upon seeing sizeable columns of Soviet armour streaming west to cut off his lines of communication.

Lead elements of 2 Tank Army bypass BRYANSK to the south

Lead elements of 2 Tank Army bypass BRYANSK to the south

So far, his only losses on the east bank had been from artillery fire, but these had been significant, and he pulled his infantry back to spare them further casualties.

More waves of Stormoviks appeared over the city centre. This time, the objects of their attacks were the bridges over the DESNA.

Stormoviks attack Desna bridges

The Luftwaffe broke through the Soviet fighter cover and managed to cause damage sufficient to prevent full third of the Il-2s reaching their target. The bridges had held, but only just.

Stormoviks attack DESNA bridges (1)

The anticipated swing north to attack the city with tanks did not materialise, but the previously static 28 Rifle Corps had finished its preparations for a river crossing, and capitalised on the light defences remaining as they swarmed over the river.

With reinforcements massing on both sides, BRYANSK was becoming the focus of a much larger battle. If the Soviet armour managed to sever communications behind the railhead, then the fall of BRYANSK would become a certainty. If however, the Soviets overreached their own supply lines, then they may have placed their own heads into the jaws of a trap.

… to be continued.

Footnotes:

  1. Shown on the table top by a single bridge with three strength points. All had to be destroyed before the bridge became impassible.
  2. Contrary to expectation, his predecessor had not been shot. Generalfeldmarschall von Kluge was short of good generals at this stage of the war, and had buried the bad news in a welter of even worse news, in his reports to Little Hitler’s daily conference
  3. Phil has some rather nice river crossing markers that are far superior to my scruffy Airfix US Marine rubber dinghies.

Post Game Notes.

1. I was joined for this game by YesthatPhil, together with his rather splendid new horse-drawn infantry support units and heavy guns. They fought as heavy in this game, rather than the very, extra or super heavy guns that they are built as.

2. The Germans were cast as being able to withstand or initiate four assaults rather than the two that the Soviets were capable of, before being forced to either fight disorganised or withdraw to reorganise properly. This mechanism allowed four German infantry divisions to hold their own against eight Soviet rifle divisions in a tense game. The liberal use of heavy artillery and air attacks meant that the casualties were heavy on both sides.

3. Phil was able to switch key units on internal lines to stave off a heavy attack to the north of the city despite having nothing in reserve. The Soviets followed their orders of encircling the city rather than assaulting it in a head-on attack, using their armour to bypass BRYANSK, rather than becoming enmeshed in some very uninviting street fighting.

The follow on will prove to be interesting, as the Germans have reserves massing, and the Soviets are pushing retreating German units into the area.

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NQM Soviet Spring Offensive 1943 (Part 14) – KURSK

As 78 Rifle Division was clearing the south bank of the OSKOL, 61, 59 and 41 Guards Divisions were pushing the grenadiers of 14 Panzer Division back into KURSK.

German rearguard action to cover bridge demolition at KURSK

German rearguard action to cover bridge demolition at KURSK

Despite well-prepared defences, the Germans were unable to hold ground against the Soviet steamroller. The motorised troops took full advantage of their mobility to retire over the river.

Panzergrenadiers withdraw past the demolition guard at KURSK

Panzergrenadiers withdraw past the demolition guard at KURSK

All the time, however, Soviet casualties were mounting and ammunition stocks were being depleted. Large numbers of battalions on both sides were down to company strength, with low morale.

Southern KURSK falls to the Soviets

Southern KURSK falls to the Soviets

The survivors of the Schnelle Abteilungen had redeployed to the northwest bank to cover their slower-moving infantry battalions, and as the last self-propelled artillery pieces trundled over the town centre bridges, pioneers began to connect the firing circuits to the prepared bridges. Fierce fights erupted on the river banks, and after a couple of failed attempts, both bridges were demolished in the face of the enemy.

Sturmoviks blast a path through for a river crossing

Sturmoviks blast a path through for a river crossing of the OSKOL

This did not deter the Soviets, as small parties of scouts and guardsmen slipped across the narrow river, at night, to be joined by more of their comrades as bridgeheads were established. Narrow assault bridges were thrown across the river under the cover of Sturmovik attacks.

Rearguard crosses safely but fails to prevent the Soviets crossing the OSKOL

Rearguard crosses safely but fails to prevent the Soviets crossing the OSKOL

The defenders were being pressed from the front and flanks by an enemy that could sense victory.  No help was coming from reserves, who had been committed to holding attacks on both flanks. Despite orders to stand firm, willpower alone was not enough “Wo ist die Luftwafffe?¹“.

14 Pz Div Panzer counterattack fails

14 Panzer Division Panzer Battalion counterattack fails

The single surviving Panzer battalion of 14 Panzer Division threw itself in to the battle around the bridges, but it was too late. Too few Panzergrenadiers could be pulled out of the line to support the counterattack. The Panzers withdrew having exhausted their ammunition and achieved nothing, and the last chance of holding KURSK slipped from 14 Panzer Division‘s grasp.

This concludes the 14-part battle of KURSK.

  1. Off scrounging Flugkraftstoff.

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NQM Soviet Spring Offensive 1943 (Part 13) – KURSK

The heights before KURSK fall to 78 Rifle Div

The heights before KURSK fall to 78 Rifle Div

78 Rifle Division ground forward , initially gaining success on higher ground¹ , then being held up against a firming enemy, before breaking through on the right flank hard against the OSKOL. The advance ground forward along both banks of the river in a series of attacks from the line of march against an enemy that never quite seemed able to be pinned down.

Panzergrenadiers lose their MDL to 78 RD

Panzergrenadiers lose their MDL to 78 RD

As the lead elements of the division approached the final crest of ridges before KURSK, the enemy began to hold his ground, and the 78 RD artillery that had been struggling to keep pace with the advance finally caught up and deployed.

78 RD Artillery and logistic troops form up behind the leading Regiments

78 RD Artillery forms up behind the leading Regiments

The division attacked with two regiments in the lead, with hill 105 falling to the Soviets after a determined assault. A regiment third managed to break through a gap close by the river to swing north towards KURSK.

78 RD assaults Hill 105

78 RD assaults Hill 105

Further south, a well defended infantry “Festung” was uncovered, one that resisted all attempts to force it by frontal and flank attacks

78 RD assaults the MDL south of the OSKOL

78 RD assaults the MDL south of the OSKOL beyond Hill 105

Fighting intensifies on the MDL at hill 105

Fighting intensifies on the MDL at hill 105

Game Notes:

I splashed out and bought quite a few clumps of scenic flowers and tufts of static grass. Now, some divisions are distinguished by having all the same coloured flowers on the base. Regiments share the same coloured glass bead from a craft packet bought years ago. The overall effect is more pleasing and less obtrusive to my eye than painted cork and hand painted numbers, So I shall probably roll it out further.

The Neu Art fusilier battalions are easily discerned in play now by the bicycles on their stands.

I’m working on a satisfactory way of showing Balkas. Probably with flat plywood. These sunken ravines were a significant feature in certain parts of Russia.

  1. Wargames dramatic license: the hills and Balkas around KURSK do not equate to the average wargames Rocky Bluff shown here. It looks good though!

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NQM Soviet Spring Offensive 1943 (Part 11) – KURSK

34 GD Corps Arty

34 GD Corps Artillery passes PROKHOROVKA

As 3 Guards army advanced northwest along both sides of the River OSKOL towards KURSK, long columns of infantry passed the small railway halt of PROKHOROVKA without incident. Guardsmen, as they trudged forward, reflected on how different reality was from fiction¹. The OSKOL would not even qualify as an obstacle in Soviet planning, being between 10- 20 metres wide for most of its tree lined length², and meandering down to join the DNEPR, but it formed a useful divisional boundary, and enough of a landmark to guide Soviet Sturmoviks in to their targets.

VVS Sturmovik Regiments

VVS Sturmovik Regiments approach the River OSKOL

MiGs over the OSKOL

MiGs over the OSKOL

Opposition, although stiff enough to inflict significant casualties on the advancing divisions, was not characterised by a stubborn defence. Resistance appeared to be come from groups of mainly motorised troops, some in the famous Hanomags that had followed the Fascist spearheads to MOSCOW in 1941. Mainly though, troops were simply truck mounted, the defence was composed of a series of sharp ambushes, with the defenders falling back rather than waiting for the retaliatory artillery barrages that preceded set piece attacks on empty positions. From the trickle of prisoners and dead that were being collected, it was becoming clear that 34 Guards Corps was facing 14 Panzer Division.

West of the river OSKOL, the Fascists were not content to simply defend. A series of local attacks executed by StuG and Panzergrenadier battalions  caught the advancing regiments of  61 Guards Division  before they had chance to bring their artillery and heavier weapons to bear. The Fascists never pressed their advantage, being content to delay and damage the advancing Soviet troops.

Achtung Sturmovik

Achtung Sturmovik!

As the weather improved and skies cleared, a major Sturmovik attack of three regiments, supported by and equal number of Mig fighter regiments found the divisional headquarters and one of the panzergrenadier regiments of 14 Panzer. The Luftwaffe were ineffective in fighting off the attackers, but the Luftwaffe’s own Stuka³ efforts had some success against 34 Guards Corps artillery.

Stuka Tief Flieger Sturkampfflugzeuge

Sturkampfflugzeuge Angriff!

  1. PROKHOROVKA featured prominently in the popular fictional acount of “Operation Citadelle, Battle for Kursk“.
  2. Representing the OSKOL with a 40mm wide strip of blue plywood needs a lot of suspension of disbelief.
  3. The Germans abbreviated stuff like Sturzkampfflugzeuge for good reason. See Ludger’s comment below, and my original misspelled caption above.

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NQM Soviet Spring Offensive 1943 (Part 10) – KURSK

As MTENSK fell,  3 Guards Army were advancing rapidly northwest against minimal opposition, taking advantage of withdrawing  Axis forces on the DNEPR line to push towards KURSK. Every soldier would have been aware of the popular serialised 1939 piece of speculative fiction published in the Young Communist,  entitled “Operation Citadelle, the battle for Kursk“, in which a massive fascist supertank army was stopped in its tracks by the brave young communists¹.

As the countryside surrounding KURSK became hillier, the first outposts of the enemy were encountered. Although some enemy positions were discovered along the main rail lines, only the forward edge of  the enemy’s eastern positions could be discerned. Nevertheless, on the left flank, 61 Guards Division deployed for a formal attack, backed by 59 Guards Division and 34 Guards Corps artillery. Flanking them on the right  47 Guards Division deployed against the as-yet undefined enemy positions².

Div Scout Recce Marker discovers the forward edge of the enemy

Div Scout Recce Marker discovers the forward edge of the enemy

Pressing on despite heavy casualties 61 Guards had little clear idea of the full extent of the enemy, or the enemy losses,  other than that they were a Panzer Grenadier Division. Nevertheless, the attack was proceeding more or less on schedule.

Div Scout Recce marker discovers 3 Enemy Bns

Div Scout Recce marker discovers 3 Enemy Bns

Close Assault comes to grief

Close Assault comes to grief

Sometimes in solo games, the dice confound all expectations. So it was with the first close assault in the game!

  1. Alas, few copies of this entertaining work survive, but wargamers to this day, the world over, delight in fighting this titanic “what-if” alternative history scenario.
  2.  Bombarding forward positions unseen is unlikely to suppress the enemy if he has retired to the reserve line in anticipation of a preliminary bombardment. Just such a situation occurred below.
61 GD Set Piece Attack

61 GD Set Piece Attack

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NQM Soviet Spring Offensive 1943 (Part 1)

In an attempt to beat the Rasputitsa, a mass of Soviet Forces surged forward across the whole Soviet front line. Any hope that OKH might have had that the reserves of Soviet manpower had been exhausted following the Winter Offensive, were soon to be dashed.

For the first time, sizeable numbers of Lend-lease trucks equipment and machine tools had been reaching the Soviet Union, which had the effect of extending the reach and endurance of formations once battle was joined.

VORONEZH 43 - Soviet 69th Army 270 GR Division AdvancesThe horizon fills with advancing divisions.

As Dusk Falls SS Wiking Breaks OutSS Wiking Panzergrenadier Division and SS Panzer Regiment 2.

VORONEZH 43 - 47th Motorised Division with att Panther Bn from SS Wiking47 Panzergrenadier (PzG) Division.

Nonetheless, XIV Motorised Korps felt confident, as it had rebuilt over winter and taken delivery of the new Panzer Vs and VIs¹, and Hummels, mounting 15cm guns on a composite PzIII/IV chassis¹.

Panthers Entrained for Wiking PG DivPanthers entrained for SS Panzergrenadier Wiking Division.

305 Rifle Division advances with 31 Tank Corps in reserve.

The first blow fell on 296 Infantry Division astride the VORONEZH – KURSK road with 69th Army putting in a full set-piece attack of 107, 111, and 183 Rifle Divisions backed by 270 Guards Rifle Division and 1st Tank Army (6Tk, 31 Tk and 3 Mech Corps).

183 Rifle Division breaks into the MDL

The attack broke in to the divisional main defensive line (MDL) of 296 Infantry Division, but then faltered as the reserve line held.

183 Rifle Division breaches 296 Infantry Division's MDL183 Rifle Division breaches 296 Infantry Division‘s MDL

The 296 Infantry Division Reserve Line is holding for now

The 296 Infantry Division reserve line is holding for now

But Follow-on Attacks on the Reserve Line are repulsed with heavy Soviet Losses

But 107 Rifle Division follow-on attacks on the reserve line are repulsed with heavy Soviet losses

After Heavy Fighting - The MDL is about to break but no more Soviet reserves are immediately Available

After Heavy Fighting – The MDL is about to break but no more Soviet Reserves are immediately available

… to be continued.

  1. My Hummel from syborg 3d printing is a late model, but I’m not picky.

Updated April 2022 to amend unit designations.

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Filed under 15mm Miniatures Wargames, Axis War Diary, Eastern Front, NQM Squared, Soviet War Diary, Wargames, WWII

Soviet Air Armies 1942-43

As Barbarossa commenced, the Soviet Airforce was organised with an air division per RKKA ground army, which proved too inflexible for the effective deployment of air support. The reorganisation that took place in May to November 1942* after the catastrophic losses of the initial inavasion was to give an air army to each front, with a more or less equal number of aircraft grouped into reserve air armies (PVO Strany).

The excellent “The Soviet Air Force Since 1918” by Alexander Boyd (1977), is one of the few books that I have come across that makes any attempt to mesh the ground and air war on the Soviet side in any meaningful way. He gives , on p.153 a useful diagram for October 1943; it shows the dispositions of the 13 air armies supporting the fronts as follow:

Karelian Front ⇒ 7th Air Army (Formed Aug 42)

Leningrad Front ⇒ 13th Air Army (Nov 42)

  • 275th Fighter Aviation Division
  • 276th Bomber Aviation Division
  • 277th Assault Aviation Division

Volkov Front ⇒ 14th Air Army (Jun 42)

2nd Baltic Front ⇒ 15th Air Army ()

1st Baltic Front ⇒ 3rd Air Army (May 42 Kalinin Front)

  • 209th, 210th Fighter Aviation Divisions
  • 211th, 212nd Mixed Aviation Divisions
  • 684th, 695th Light Bomber Aviation Regiments
  • 195th, 708th, 881st, 882nd, 883rd, 884th, 885th, and 887th Mixed Aviation Regiments
  • 3rd Reconnaissance Aviation Squadron

Western Front ⇒ 1st Air Army (May 42)

  • 201st Fighter Aviation Division
  • 202nd Fighter Aviation Division
  • 203rd Fighter Aviation Division
  • 234th Fighter Aviation Division
  • 235th Fighter Aviation Division
  • 204th Bomber Aviation Division
  • 213th Night Bomber Aviation Division
  • 215th Mixed Aviation Division
  • 214th Assault Aviation Division
  • 224th Assault Aviation Division
  • 231st Assault Aviation Division
  • 232nd Assault Aviation Division
  • 233rd Assault Aviation Division
  • (Mar 43) Régiment de Chasse Normandie-NiemenYak-3

Yak-3 Normandie-Niemen2

Bryansk Front ⇒ 6th Air Army (Jun 42 NW Front)

Belorussian Front ⇒ 16th Air Army (Aug 42 Stalingrad Front)

  • 220th Fighter Division
  • 228 Attack Aircraft Division
  • 228th and 291st Assault Aviation Divisions
  • 2 independent aviation regiments

1st Ukranian Front ⇒ 2nd Air Army (May 42 Bryansk Front)

  • 205th, 206th,[4] 207th Fighter Air Divisions
  • 208th Night Bomber Air Division
  • 223rd Air Division
  • 225th, 226th, 227th Air Assault Division
  • Two independent air regiments.[1]

2nd Ukranian Front ⇒ 5th Air Army (Jun 42 N.Caucasus Front ) Fought at Kursk

  • 7th Combined Aviation Corps
  • 8th Combined Aviation Corps
  • 3rd Fighter Aviation Corps
  • 7th Fighter Aviation Corps

3rd Ukranian Front ⇒ 17th Air Army (Oct 42 SW Front)

  • 3 Mixed Air Corps (207, 290 Divisions?)
  • 7?, 9? fighter divisions (202?,235? Divs and 305?, 303?, 295? Divs)
  • Ground-attack division
  • Bomber division
  • Night bomber division -Po-2?

4th Ukranian Front ⇒ 8th Air Army (Jun 42 SW Front)

Independent Maritime Army ⇒ 4th Air Army (May 42 Southern Front) included 2 regiments of Spitfires in 1943

  • 216th Fighter Division or 216th Mixed Aviation Division
  • 217th Fighter Division
  • 229th Fighter Division
  • 230th Storm Division
  • 219th Bomber Division
  • 218th Night Bomber Division
  • 588th Light Night Bomber (Night Witches) Regiment (From June 42) – the first all-women air unit – Po-2

 

I have shown formation dates and original fronts in (brackets) with further information from the Wikki sub pages, where available.

References:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_army_%28Soviet_Union%29

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