War in the East – The Road to Smolensk – Turn 2

And now the major flaw in my plan becomes clear. The 4th Panzer Group gets reassigned after turn one, (most likely to the off map drive on Leningrad), leaving me short a Panzer Group in my plan. To paraphrase Helmuth Graf von Moltke, no plan survives contact with a wargame’s UI, so I will have to do something to solve this problem.

I will amend the plan by having the 3rd Panzer Group (light green) swing North, in an attempt to encircle another set of Soviets before Smolensk. Once I control the four objective cities west of Smolensk (Velikie Luki, Vitebsk, Mogilev, and Gomel), I can consolidate for the final push on Smolensk, Rzhev, Vyazma, and Bryansk.

The liquidation of the pockets commences. Each pocket is liquidated in two stages. First, I use units from the infantry armies to destroy the pocketed units, which are severely weakened and likely to surrender. After the infantry armies clear out the units, I push them forward towards a new line, which will probably be pretty ragged this turn. Once the infantry armies have moved forwards, I push forward with the two remaining Panzer Groups. 2nd Panzer Group moves out in the south, and 3rd Panzer Group pushes forth in the center-north.

The northern front after liquidation:

The Northern Front After Liquidation

The southern front after liquidation:

The Southern Front After Liquidation

The liquidation of the pockets was a resounding success. Vast numbers of Soviet troops surrendered to the advancing Axis. As of the end of the turn, total Soviet losses topped 420,000, with under 10,000 losses for the Axis. Also striking are the armored fighting vehicle losses for the Soviets and Axis. 3003 AFVs destroyed for the Soviets, with only 69 destroyed for the Axis:

Losses, Turn Two

These numbers are great, but the easy part of the attack is over. The initial surprise allowed quick encirclements for massive casualties. Now my concern is pushing forward quickly enough to disrupt the formation of a new Soviet defensive line along the Dnepr and the Dvina.

Here is the situation for the Panzer Groups in the north:

The Northern Front at the End of Turn Two

And here is the situation in the south:

The Southern Front at the End of Turn Two

I am somewhat concerned about the holes in the lines, even though there are few if any good order Soviet units available to exploit them.

Here is the overall situation at the end of turn two:

The Overall Situation, End of Turn Two

My plan for turn three is not the most ambitious one ever conceived. Ideally, I would like to push the laggard infantry armies in the south forward, as close as possible to where the 2nd and 3rd Panzer Groups are located. In the north, Id like to push the Infantry armies across the Daugava, allowing me to set up a beachhead across the Dvina for turn four. After I consolidate, there will be an attempt to encircle again, with the ultimate goal of isolating Smolensk.

We will see how turn three goes, and then modify the plan as necessary.

Next Post: The new Soviet line.

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