This three-part game followed directly on from the last MOSCOW scenario. YesthatPhil was at all three evenings, and Trebian turned up for the middle session.
A brief unseasonal warm spell gave trouble alike to the advancing Red Army and retreating Wehrmacht as the pincer movement closed around MOSCOW. The Soviets, with their lighter logistic requirements still managed to continue the advance, but the Wehrmacht was forced to abandon much of its heavy equipment in the retreat.
Confusion reigned on the Axis side as orders and counter orders flew around. Little flying took place, as both sides found their aircraft mostly unable to take off from airfields surrounded by fog and low cloud; the Soviets fared better in this respect.
Infantry from the broken front lines struggled to maintain coherence. Soviet armour appeared to be more mobile away from roads than the Axis, but in any case long lines of infantry poured west, attempting to link with adjacent units and form a defensible line, racing to stay ahead of the advancing Soviet armour*.
Inside MOSCOW, disorder was everywhere. Logistic and Luftwaffe units fled into the city as the airport was overrun. A frozen river MOSKVA proved to be no obstacle to men and horses, although bridges were thrown across the river to allow passage for armour.
The spell of mild weather was brief as the temperature plummeted and hard snow covered the ground once more.
20 Panzer Grenadier Division found itself surrounded and destroyed in detail as the reorganised 1 Guards Tank Division and 2 Guards Mechanised Corps lapped around the defences.
Fierce dogfights erupted over MOSCOW with the Soviet pilots gaining ascendency. A Bf 109 can be seen crashing into the rail tracks in the picture above.
18 Guards Rifle Division continued to push north over the airfield and into the outlying southern districts of the city. They met 258 Infantry Division head on, driving them back with heavy casualties on both sides. Katyushas provided close support from the airfield, with devastating effect. Such Luftwaffe support that did reach the front line was fully occupied attempting to support infantry dug in to the river line, with nothing to spare for counter-battery work.
Desperate counterattacks by the defenders failed to dislodge the attackers. At this stage of the battle, both commanders were wondering if they had enough forces to hold/take MOSCOW. This is one of the features of the game, of which I am proudest. I tend to think that I have the balance right when both players are wondering if the battle is winnable from their own perspective.
38 and 39 Rifle Divisions turned east to attack into the city, having encircled it from the north. After cutting the main railway lines to the west , they made little headway at first against the outer defences, but eventually managed to gain a foothold as the defenders retreated deeper into MOSCOW.
Having done this, they paused to reorganise and conserve their strength, consolidating their gains against any Fascist breakout down the rail lines. 2 Guards Mechanised Corps can be seen advancing west in the top left of the picture above, with 1 Guards Tank Corps in the picture below .
To the east, remnants of Axis infantry divisions began to reorganise on the rail junction and railhead, throwing up a hasty defensive line in the face of the advancing 1 Guards Tank Corps, with the surviving mobile remnants of 20 Panzer Grenadier Division regrouping behind.
*Trebian, who was present for the second evening, had more armour on the table than he has seen for the previous twenty (real life™) years. He didn’t squander it attacking MOSCOW either, just let it scamper off to frighten the bejazus out of the Axis lines of communication.