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Subject: Rolling Thunder rss

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This is a session report of a game I played against Jerry Taylor in 2001. I enjoyed playing Jerry and he was a gentleman throughout our game sticking it out to the bitter end despite the misfortunes of war.

Germans: Laurin Colby (+24)
Russians: Jerry Taylor

The Germans exploited two breakthroughs, one north of the Pripets and one south of the Pripets. Much of the Russian front line was cut off and destroyed. The Russians withdrew behind the Dnepr. OKH calculated that this was a temporary defensive line established to facilitate a withdrawal to the Leningrad-Moscow line.

The Germans breached the Dnepr south and north of Kiev and a porous pocket was formed around Kiev. Russians streamed to the rear and were taken under effective artillery and stuka fire resulting in many casualties. Vast quantities of supplies and a large number of high ranking officers were captured. Although the pocket would not be reduced until Aug I.

The Germans consolidated their position and attempted to mop up the pocketed Russians who turned out to be very resistant to the idea of capture. The Russian survivors continued to retreat further east forming a line just west of the forests outside of Moscow.

Jul II found the OKH planners in a heated debate. Where to strike next: Moscow (the cultural, political-economic hub of the Soviet Union) or the Ukraine (breadbasket of the Soviet Union and bridgehead to the oil rich caucuses). The Moscow advocates prevailed; although, they agreed to dispatch minimal forces for conquering the Ukraine. There was also support among the Moscow advocates for a feint towards the Ukraine to divert Soviet forces and confuse them as to the real goal - Moscow.

As planned, the drive towards Moscow resumed. Panzer spearheads crossed the Oka between Tula and Voronezh encountering only scattered disorganized Russian resistance. The Don was also crossed resulting in the fall of Voronezh.

Intelligence of Russian dispositions in the Ukraine indicated that the Soviets were weak and their defensive lines not fully manned. In accordance with these reports, OKH assigned only a few panzer and infantry corps to this operation.

The schwerpunkt fell between Kharkov and Dnepropetrovsk, a location where OKH felt the Russians were weak and vulnerable to a follow up breakthrough by the panzers. Things did not go as planned, three panzer corps and one panzergrenadier corp assigned to make the breakthrough, utterly failed against (what intelligence estimates were) second line, understrength infantry armies. Infantry assigned to attack Kharkov were badly mauled.

OKH demanded an immediate investigation into the failed assault. Results of the investigation were reported in 2 days detailing the following factors contributing to the failure. The panzer corps assigned to the assault were understrength and contained only a few Pz III’s and no Pz IV’s. The bulk of their panzers consisted of Pz II’s and some Pz I’s. In addition, the ammo and fuel requirements of the divisions were only supplied to about 50% of that required for an attacking force. Spare parts had been diverted to the main Moscow offensive and most of the Pz III’s and quite a few of the other mechanized vehicles were in a state of disrepair. The icing on the cake though was the failure of the Luftwaffe to provide the promised air support. Further investigation into this revealed a critical lack of fuel available to the air units involved in supporting the attack.

As a result, several top OKH officers were sacked.

Meanwhile, reports began to filter back from forces assigned to the Moscow offensive. Very strong Russian formations were observed forming in the forests west of Moscow and along the Oka river between Tula and Gorky. This coupled with a new viewpoint at OKH led to a major change in the direction of future German offensive operations.

OKH now decided to turn its attention to the Ukraine. Air reconnaissance over the Ukraine detected a few large formations railed into the Vorshilovgrad area. The Russian defenses in this area were described as organized but weak. OKH ordered an immediate full out attack on the Ukraine.

This created something of a logistical nightmare for the supply organization. To wheel and turn an entire army that was poised to attack Moscow 180 degrees in the other direction and maintain momentum would be quite a feat.

Heavy fighting ensued as the weight of the wehrmacht crashed into the Russian defenses. Battles for Kharkov, Mariupol and Voroshilovgrad raged. The refitted panzers easily crushed resistance at Mariupol. Panzers from the now defunct Moscow offensive attacked and captured Kharkov. Perhaps the most critical battle occurred at Voroshilovgrad. Two panzer corps crossed the Donetz and found themselves face to face with a fresh Guards infantry army. Luftwaffe support was erratic at best due to the difficulty of keeping up with the panzer spearheads. The panzers took a beating crossing the river; but once across, the elite panzers quickly dismantled the defending Russian Guards army. The door to Rostov was opened. Panzers (at the end of their supply rope and exhausted) entered Rostov to find weak resistance and a fair quantity of supplies. Victorious panzers from the Kharkov battle attacked and captured Stalino.

OKH was elated by the success of this operation. The entire Ukraine had fallen in one fell swoop. Plans were quickly drawn up to take Stalingrad, Batumi, Tbilisi, and Baku.

Rostov falls along with some supplies. German forces crossed the Don in force. Panzers entered the Caucusus south of Maikop. Stalingrad falls. All along the advance rout, panzers encountered hastily assembled Russian formations which were summarily dispatched.

Intelligence reported a concentration of Russian forces forming up in the Batumi area. Panzers exploded from their mountain hideout and reached the outskirts of Tbilisi cutting off the Russians at Batumi. Grozny and Ordzhonikidzee fell, Marach Kala was engaged. When resistance was encountered, it came in the form of hastily assembled green Russian forces.

Oct I
Clear skies. Tbilisi is attacked and falls.

Oct II, Nov I, Nov II
Mud halts the Germans offensive in late October and November putting Baku out of reach and giving STAVKA time to regroup.

I used the "Center Blob" technique in this game. The results were far better than expected. From Jun II through Sep II, 43 Soviet armies were annihilated including 3 Mech, 4 Cav, 4 Tnk, 3 HQ, and 29 Inf. The advance averaged exactly 6 hexes per month--as the crow flies.
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"L'état, c'est moi."
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Caution: May contain wargame like substance
Every game I've ever played with Jerry, he completely crushed me. So good on ya mate! arrrh
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