A Storm of Steel and Fire (an alternate WW2 history); by Tanner151

Discussion in 'Finished Timelines and Scenarios' started by miner249er, Nov 8, 2017.

  1. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    A Storm of Steel and Fire (an alternate WW2 history)
    by Tanner151, reposted by miner249er for story only thread

    Link to discussion thread

    NOTE: Some of these things, especially at the beginning will be factual or similar to what happened historically. When you see the symbol (*) that means I am making an editorial note to pretty much give an FYI. If you have any questions ask away.

    What if the Second World War had gone a different way? What if the Second World War we know about did not happen the way it did? Now there are 3 major POD (point(s) of divergence) in this overall story, 2 of which I will talk about this chapter:

    Chapter One: Introduction

    1- In February 1934 German colonel Erich von Manstein is transferred to Berlin to be chief of staff of the Wehrkrieskommando III. While in Berlin he writes up a military memorandum called: Defense of the Reich against Western Aggression; he writes this because he knows the greatest threat to Germany in any future war would be France and Britain at least initially (the Soviet Union is not included because the USSR does not border Germany, Poland and the Baltic States separate them).

    This military memorandum called for fixed fortifications on the border between Germany and France that while not as powerful as the French Maginot Line it would still be formidable; it will be called the Westwall. It calls for an in-depth defense system and extensive bunker/underground facilities not unlike the Maginot Line but on a much smaller scale. To make this proposed Westwall a reality and constructed in a reasonable time the construction would focus on the French-German border; the Swiss-German, Belgian-German and Dutch-German borders would have much lighter defenses. The German Army would man these defenses once they are completed. As the memorandum is published it is largely unknown throughout much of the German Army throughout 1934 and 1935 due to its lack of high ranking support and was unrealistic at the time it was written. The German industry was not up for something that massive and the Rhineland (the area that bordered Germany and France) was demilitarized. The report went onto a shelf in Berlin where von Manstein himself did not think much would come of it.

    The Manstein Memorandum, as it will soon be called, is ignored until mid 1936 when German Generals Ludwig Beck, von Brauchitsch and von Rundstedt discover it circulating among low ranking officers and decide to read it. The only reason they read it is that the recent Re-militarization of the Rhineland was a complete success, to the shock of almost everyone in Germany except Hitler and a few fanatical Nazis. The French and the British did nothing to stop them. The Manstein Memorandum was now looking realistic. Within weeks these generals spread it to dozens of others of generals and to scores of other high ranking officers. By July of 1936 it had reached Hitler himself. The next day Hitler calls a meeting of the General Staff to discuss the memorandum. Many support it stating that Germany is still too weak to wage war and that Germany is vulnerable until that time. Most of the General Staff thinks that France and Britain are the biggest threat to Germany at this time and that a moderate defense network in western Germany will discourage Entente (France and Britain) attacks.

    Hitler calls von Manstein to the Ministry of War to discuss his memorandum with Hitler, War Minister von Blomberg and the rest of the General Staff. After von Manstein discussed it with them after many hours Hitler, who was against building an extensive border fortification because this would interrupt resources and funds he would rather spend on the Heer (Army), the Luftwaffe (Air Force) and the Kriegsmarine (Navy), does see the benefit of the Westwall due to the strong support the Memorandum garnered from the General Staff and authorizes its construction to begin in early 1937. The 1934 version of the Manstein Memorandum was out of date and for the next three weeks scores of generals and hundreds of other officers edited it, suggesting sometimes good ideas which were incorporated and sometimes bad ideas which were dropped.

    By late August, 1936 the Manstein Memorandum had the same core concepts but also added an extensive AA (anti-aircraft) component along with a huge network of AA guns throughout Germany, particularly western and northern Germany. The AA weapons would have inter-connected fields of fire to continually have Entente bombers under fire. Also added to the revised Memorandum was the assistance of the Luftwaffe. Hermann Göring, commander of the Luftwaffe, was unimpressed by the Westwall but was convinced, after much argument, to incorporate Luftwaffe fighter squadrons into the Westwall defense grid to better protect Germany from Entente bombers and fighters. He was convinced by General Walther Wever to have the Luftwaffe and the Heer (Army) work together instead of independently as was the original plan.

    In early 1937 the Westwall began construction at a fast pace with the Reich Labor Service doing much of the construction along with construction firms. The Westwall is not planned to be finished until mid 1942 at current construction speed.

    *The Manstein Memorandum is a fictional piece of military planning created by von Manstein in early 1934. His posting to Berlin at the time is factual and is convenient for the memorandum to be within easy reach of high ranking German officers. The reason Hitler, albeit reluctantly, and the General Staff push for the Westwall was that at the time it was revised/rewritten and became wider known throughout the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces) the German military was still small and weak. In OTL the Westwall was started in 1938 and was all along the western German border and was mainly used as a propaganda tool. But in this ATL the fictional Manstein Memorandum is created in 1934, revised and then accepted in 1936 with construction of the Westwall beginning in early 1937 and focused almost entirely on the French-German border to make the defenses there better and in more depth. Virtually no defenses are made on the Swiss-German border or on the Dutch-German border but the Belgian/Luxembourg-German borders have moderate defenses but not nearly the scale of the defenses being built further south against France.

    The reason the German High Command focuses on this area is that France is the main enemy bordering Germany. Belgium may or may not become an enemy, Switzerland and the Netherlands are probably neutral for the foreseeable future so the Westwall being built in 1937 once completed will be much better and extensive than the one in OTL but is still not as strong as the Maginot Line but is still quite formidable. In OTL the French were afraid to attack the 1939/1940 Westwall despite that it was not nearly as powerful as the Nazis claimed it was, in this ATL the Westwall actually is formidable and with more funds and a full year more construction will intimidate the French much more. Also the German Army is testing a new kind of warfare: blitzkrieg. But as of early 1937 it is just training and creating doctrine for it. No one knows if it will actually work as planned so that’s why the Westwall gets the attention it does, it’s a fail safe against Entente aggression if blitzkrieg does not work.

    2- Luftwaffe General Walther Wever does not die in a plane crash on June 3rd, 1936. A mechanic double checked his plane before takeoff and disabled the aileron gust locks that would have caused his plane to stall and crash, which it did in OTL. In this ATL Walther Wever does not die and remains one of the highest ranking Luftwaffe generals and just as importantly his push for a German strategic bomber (Ural Bomber Program) continues.

    By 1938 his efforts bear fruit when two prototypes are made: the Junkers Ju 89 and the Dornier Do 19. After extensive testing the Ju 89 is considered the better of the two planes due to faster speed, longer range, smaller crew than the Dornier Do 19 (if the Ju 89 was shot down Germany only loses 5 men however if the Dornier Do 19 was shot down the Germans would lose ten men), and the Ju 89 bombing payload is similar to the Dornier Do 19. The Ju 89 will enter mass production in early 1939. Walther Wever being alive means that the Luftwaffe has a long range, strategic bombing force and while Walther Wever is the leading proponent of the Ural Bomber Program he does recognize that the fighter wings of Germany will be the key of defense against Entente bombing and ruthlessly supports the Westwall and is able to convince Göring that the Luftwaffe needs to contribute to the Westwall in terms of trained AA teams and dozens of fighter squadrons. Wever also supports the revised Memorandum’s call for a much more expanded AA defense system throughout Germany particularly western and northern Germany.

    *Walther Wever’s death in 1936 may not seem significant but with him died Germany’s hope of strategic bombing. While the German tactical bombers (Dornier Do 17 “Flying Pencils”, Junkers Ju 88 and the Heinkel 111) did do great strides is helping German infantry advance in OTL’s 1939-1942 blitzkriegs the bombers did not have any great range which caused the Allies, particularly the Soviets and later the Americans, to out produce Germany due to little damage on their factories that were simply out of range. And the Ju 89 being mass produced does not mean that the Luftwaffe receives a larger budget which would cut into budgets of the Army or the Westwall.

    No in this ATL the budget is the same as it was in OTL just that the new Ju 89s are being built at the expense of the medium bombers. So Germany will have less medium bombers and dive bombers (Junker Ju 87 “Stuka”) but will have a respectable force of strategic bombers. So while less Do 17s, Junkers Ju 88s and Heinkel 111s are being built they still outnumber the Ju 89 by a large margin. The Luftwaffe fighter strength remains the same. The reason I keep Wever alive is not only for Germany to get a moderate sized force of strategic bombers but it is more of his power in the Luftwaffe. Yes at this time Göring is in high favor with Hitler and is considered a successor if Hitler died now but Wever will have great influence in the Luftwaffe and while he is the leading advocate for strategic bombing I believe that Wever can recognize when fighters are needed more than bombers and will have the leverage and political clout to push for more fighters.

    Adolf Galland tried to make Göring push for more fighters to defend Germany due to Germany as of 1943 could not launch successful offensives and the Allied bombing campaign was picking up. Galland tried to convince Göring to stop making bombers and make only fighters, I believe he told Göring this in sometime during 1942 but it wasn't until mid/late 1943 when Göring finally relented and canceled much of bomber production. So in this timeline Wever is alive and over the years since 1936 he has grown in importance and is one of the most powerful men in the Luftwaffe. He will play a larger role later on.

    There you are. Two of my three major PODs. 1-The Westwall and other defensive systems being started with more vigor and resources in 1937 in contrast to OTL where it was started in 1938 and was more powerful on paper than anything. 2- Walther Wever does not die in a plane crash. While his dream of strategic bombers does bear fruit in the Junkers Ju 89 that is not the main reason I keep him alive. He will play a much more important role when the Second World War begins and when the 3rd and most important POD occurs (It will be in Chapter 2). This is only the beginning.

    Hello, everyone. My name is Tanner and I am a HUGE fan of alternate history. This will be the beginning of series that I will update and change post-launch. The support will mainly be fixing grammatical errors and story inconsistencies. So if you see those please point them out and I will fix them. Thank you.

    This is a work of fiction and is just an interesting way WW2 could have gone. I am not stating that this should have happened but only that this scenario that I have started has not been done before (to my knowledge). I do realize I am stretching some things and is some instances (throughout the story) making it completely false but I am trying to make an interesting alternate timeline. Yes this first chapter did not do much, but Chapter 2 will be much better and action packed. Just have to wait until I finish it. Stay tuned.

    Also I do appreciate constructive criticism but outright rudeness I will not respond to. Yes there will be faults and inaccuracies but this is a "what if" not a serious military and political examination that requires a 100% accuracy.
    Cookies, UserPhantom, Vesten and 5 others like this.
  2. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 2: The Calm Before the Storm

    August 23rd, 1939-The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is signed to the shock of the world. No one could believe the Nazis and the Soviets, bitter political and racial enemies, would sign a non-aggression pact. Hitler does this to secure his eastern flank, Stalin to bide time.
    In Moscow Stalin lights one of his cigars and through the cloud of smoke looks at the assembled Stavka (Soviet General Staff).
    "Well comrades, the Fascists have take the bait and we must bide our time until the time is ripe to reel them in." The men nod in agreement.

    September 1st, 1939- The Germans invade Poland using the new military concept of blitzkrieg.

    September 3rd, 1939- England and France reluctantly declare war on Germany and its puppet state of Slovakia. Entente High Command decides not to send probing attacks into the German Westwall. The casualties that they would take for the territory they would gain would be not worth the cost.

    September 17th, 1939- Under the secret arrangements of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact Soviet forces invade eastern Poland which only hastens the Polish defeat.

    October 6th, 1939- Following the Polish defeat at the Battle of Kock German and Soviet forces gain complete control over Poland. The Second Polish Republic had been defeated. Refugees and survivors of the Poland military formed the Polish Armed Forces in the West and would serve the Polish government-in-exile.

    October 8th, 1939- Two days after the Battle of Poland, Germany annexes the western quarter of Poland into the German Reich. Central Poland will be the German controlled administration area called the General Government; eastern Poland will be annexed into the Soviet Socialist Republics of Belorussia and the Ukraine. Slovakia also annexes a very small portion of southern Poland.
    (3rd Major POD) Due to the poor performance of the Red Army in eastern Poland Stalin orders massive changes to discipline, doctrine, strategy and combat effectiveness at all military levels. This Red Army restructuring is led by the brilliant General Zhukov who's many suggestions are invaluable to the Army Restructuring, including an effective chain and command (new ranking system similar to most other countries) and the importance of tanks and motorized units. These changes are implemented at break neck speed but the finalization and completion of the Restructure will not end until late 1941 or early 1942 at the earliest.

    October-November, 1939- Leaving only 10 veteran infantry divisions, with another five newly raised divisions on the way, in German occupied General Government Hitler and the German General Staff begin preparations of the invasion of the West. A modified Schlieffen Plan (the plan the German Army used to invade Belgium and France during the First World War) is the current plan to invade the West but this can be subject to change.

    November 30th, 1939- Stalin wanting to create more buffer space between the Soviet Union and German influenced areas orders the Red Army to invade Finland. The Soviets use mass penetration doctrine (Soviet version of blitzkrieg, a less refined strategy). To the surprise of nearly everyone the Finns are able to hold the more numerous Red Army in many places. Soviet casualties are heavy for little gain.

    December 20th, 1939- Due to the overall poor performance of the Red Army against Finland in what was becoming known as the Winter War Stalin replaces Marshal Kliment Voroshilov with Marshal Semyon Timoshenko on December 20th, 1939. Timoshenko orders all combat operations to cease, except for Red Air Force bombings and sorties, to re-evaluate the military solution.
    Stalin urges Timoshenko to hurry. He has other plans waiting to be activated...

    January 2nd, 1940- Timoshenko launches Operation Coffin Nail against Finland. Using a strategy strongly reminiscent of Zhukov's strategy at Khalkhin Gol against the Japanese in 1938. Timoshenko also employs concentrated armor attacks along the line the Germans used against the Poles.

    January 6th, 1940- After 4 days of intense combat Soviet forces break through Finnish lines in multiple areas and using motorized units and tanks are able to surround many Finnish troops that can not be replaced.

    January 18th, 1940- A week has passed and despite tough weather, logistical problems and fierce Finnish resistance the cities of Viipuri, Käkisalmi, and Sortavala have been taken, Soviet forces in other places have puntured the Mannerheim Line and moving west, nearly 220,000 Soviet troops move along the Finnish coast going west, their goal: Helsinki, capital of Finland. Marshal Mannerheim, commander of Finland's Armed Forces informs the government in Helsinki that he could hold the Soviets for another two to three weeks before the Soviets reach Helsinki. The government is shocked but reluctantly orders an evacuation to Sweden. Within days thousands of civilians will cross the border, trying to escape the Red Army and reach safety.

    February 7th, 1940- With the Red Army just 70 kilometers away the government of Finland asks for an armistice. Timoshenko from orders from Stalin, agree to it.
    Peace talks will begin the next day.

    February 8th, 1940- Soviet diplomats arrive in Helsinki to discuss Finland's surrender.

    February 10th, 1940- The Soviets state that Finland will do no less than allow the Soviet Union to annex no less than 11% of Finnish territory, particularly the land north of Leningrad and this territory included 30% of Finland's pre-war industry. This includes the cities Viipuri and Käkisalmi. The rest of Finland will be placed under Soviet military administration until such a time a (puppet) government can be formed. Failure to comply to all demands will result in the immediate resumption of the war.

    February 13th, 1940- After two days trying to forge a better peace and failing Finland surrenders to the USSR. Much of south-eastern Finland is annexed by the USSR and the rest of the country falls under the dominance of the Soviet Red Army which will enact harsh martial law for the foreseeable future. It is a dark time for Finland but on the bright side Marshal Mannerheim with much of the government is able to escape to Sweden where they form a Finnish Free State. Approximately 290,000 Finns escaped to Sweden before the Red Army closed the border. Tens of thousands of these civilians will form the Finnish Free Army whose goal is to liberate Finland... eventually.

    February 15th, 1940- Stalin assembles the Stavka together and informs them that he believes that with most of the German Wehrmacht in western and northern Germany it would be to the Soviet Union’s advantage to launch a preemptive strike on the Nazis. He wants to take central Poland, the Baltic States, and if possible Germany itself to be a buffer between the home of Socialism and the vile western capitalists. He knew the only reason the Nazis wanted the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was to secure their eastern flank until they dealt with the West and then take on the Soviet Union and that Stalin would avoid at all costs, the Motherland shall not come under attack, NEVER!
    Stavka begins writing up plans for a new offensive, an offensive against the Germans, called Operation Red Dawn, Zhukov and Timoshenko contribute much to the invasion plans. It will be the largest invasion in Soviet history and despite that Army Restructuring not even close to finished, nor were individual Soviet units on an equal fighting level with similar German units, Stalin believed that if the Soviet Union was to strike first and hard and kept sending men and machines into the fray that the Germans would break and with it Central Europe.

    After all Quantity has a Quality all on its own. (Deep down he does wish to wait and allow the West to wear down the Germans but he cannot risk either side gaining an upper hand over the other. If the Entente gain the upper hand and invade Germany, somehow, than Central Europe will fall to the capitalists. If Germany won, which seemed highly unlikely but Stalin admits that their military leadership is much better than most of the French and British commands so something could happen than Germany will take out France leaving Britain to stand alone and how long would she last then? he thought. With the west taken care of than Germany could strike east with a highly trained, experienced and motivated army. No, better to strike first and gain as much territory as possible. It would be costly, yes, but it may cost more to wait.

    Stalin also wants Sweden and its valuable iron ore reserves. Timoshenko waits at the Finnish-Swedish border with nearly 400,000 troops. Military plans for the invasion of Sweden are very similar to what Timoshenko did in Finland in January.

    Many on the Stavka have misgivings but do not voice them, even among themselves. The Purges have shown that disagreeing with Stalin could result in death, or worse… Siberian gulags. Besides the Army Restructuring was going faster than expected and harsh lessons learned in the Polish and Finnish campaigns have bloodied the Army officers, giving them actual combat experience and discipline. The Army was still not the same as it was before the Great Purge, but it was getting closer every day and the Red Army was ever so much more loyal to Stalin and Communism.

    March 5th, 1940- Disturbed by Finland's collapse and the Red Army massing on the eastern border and along with housing hundreds of thousands of Finnish refugees many who are called "enemies of the people and the state" by the Soviets, Sweden has no choice but to look for an ally or be assimilated by the Soviets. Norway and Denmark are claiming strict neutrality therefore blocking any attempt to ally with the Entente and receive any defense forces. Seeing no choice, and with the clamoring of many right-wing politicians, Sweden enters into a Defense Pact with Germany. Sweden has not joined the Axis but Sweden's shipment of iron ore which is vital to the German war machine is sold at reduced costs and many more economical benefits are created as part of the defense pact. A German infantry division along with an artillery battalion and a few squadrons of fighters are transported to Stockholm "in the interests of defending Swedish sovereignty and independence against any aggressors". Another reason Sweden joins this pact is that Germany is considered the lesser of two evils so far.
    The German forces sent to Sweden are not very powerful but them being there convinces Stalin not to invade. The Red Army was not quite ready to take on the Nazis, not yet but that time was approaching fast. Stalin did want Sweden badly but he smiled. As the Americans say, he thought humorously as he put his cigar in his mouth, there are bigger fish to fry.

    March 10th, 1940- In a meeting with the Soviet General Staff, the Stavka announces that the problems and failures experienced during the Finnish Campaign while severe and troublesome were not as problematic as the Soviet invasion of eastern Poland, especially when Timoshenko assumed command. New doctrine, strategies, disciplines (including the lessening of commissariat powers of the commissars in military matters) are fitting in smoothly and spreading to far reaching Army units relatively quickly. Soviet factories are hemorrhaging rifles, tanks, bullets, planes, clothes and other war material.

    March 9th, 1940- On orders from Stalin Red Army troops cross the borders of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This is acceptable as per the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact secret negotiations but this is months before the Soviets claimed they would do so. This concerns the Germans who are alarmed by the Soviet invasions of these countries so soon. As a precaution Hitler orders the 150,000 troops in Poland to a higher state of readiness. However the planned invasion of Denmark and in turn Norway will continue as planned. Over the French-German border air clashes between the Entente (French and British) air forces and the German Luftwaffe occur over western Germany. Nearly all of these ends in a German victory due to close proximity of Luftwaffe airfields, reinforcements and the AA system continuously hitting the Entente planes even if no German fighters are around; Germans keep a 1.5 K/D against the Entente pilots.

    On the ground not much is happening; artillery duels and occasional skirmishes are the norm but other than this the ground combat is practically nil, so much so that the Western Front is called “the Phoney War” or Sitzkrieg. The French and the British, reminiscent of the Great War and the terrible casualties charging fixed positions caused are contented to wait for an opportunity. The Germans will not charge the Maginot; they have other plans in store…

    In the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt calls the Soviet invasions (Finland and the Baltic States) as a “prelude to worse events”. Roosevelt would like to get the United States involved on the side of the Entente but the American public would be against it and the Presidential election is coming up. Instead he is content to sell military armaments to Britain and France for two reasons. He is helping the Entente against the Germans and the selling of arms is predicted to do wonders for the American economy that was still affected by the Depression.

    April 2nd-April 4th, 1940- After nearly a month of intense fighting the Soviets have complete control over the Baltic States; the Soviets install puppet governments which will quickly “vote” to join the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Meanwhile Soviet infantry and tanks move to the Lithuanian-East Prussian border. Guerrilla warfare will plague the Soviets for some time despite their harsh countermeasures.

    April 7th, 1940- Just two days before Operation Weserübung, the invasion of Denmark and Norway, German intelligence agents in Belorussia and the Ukraine send intelligence dispatches to Berlin. They are alarming: tens of thousands of Soviet troops are marching west to the General Government-Soviet border. Hundreds of tanks and hundreds of planes move westward and supplies on trains chugging west build stockpiles in what was formerly eastern Poland. Marshal of the Soviet Union Semyon Timoshenko arrives in Bialystok, Poland to take command of the Soviet forces there. This is much more than an enlargement of border forces, this was the beginning of forming a massive Soviet force in eastern Poland.

    Hitler after intense, heated discussions with the General Staff agrees to cancel the invasion of Denmark and Norway, at least for the time being, as the Wehrmacht is worried about a Soviet invasion from the east. Quietly, not trying to draw attention, German infantry and panzer divisions are transported east. Squadron upon squadron of fighters and bombers travel east also. The plans in to invade Western Europe are also put on indefinite hold. Better to wait and see what the Soviets will do than go half-coked against the Entente and having to look over their (German) should towards the east to see if the Soviets would stab the Reich in the back.

    April 20th, 1940- As a birthday gift to Hitler the Entente launch 200 bombers escorted by 100 fighters to bomb Cologne. Immediately after crossing the border German fighter squadrons intercept the large bomber formation. Due to extensive training and a need to protect their homeland German fighter planes shoot down 71 bombers and 33 fighters. The Germans lose 36 fighters. The damage to Cologne was moderate and deemed not worth the cost. Entente Bomber Command cancel all further daylight bombings into Germany until adequate bomber defense formations and fighter plane aerial defense doctrine can be created and implemented. Göring boasts about the Luftwaffe’s dominance in the west. But Wever knows better, the Entente was merely inexperienced and the Luftwaffe had the defenders advantage, motivation, doctrine and fighter superiority but this will change over time. Of this he is certain. Wever visits the Westwall Luftwaffe airfields and talks to fighter pilots of their experiences in the air and how to improve fighter ability. He talks with fighter aces Adolf Galland and Werner Mölders about their experiences.

    Hitler rages when he hears of the damage to Cologne, however small, knowing it was an insult to him and the Reich. Hitler orders three squadrons of Junker Ju 89s to do a retaliatory bombing raid. Göring gladly complies.

    April 21st, 1940- On the night of April 21st 3 squadrons of Junkers Ju 89s fly west, high in the clouds. The bombers pass over northern France and head to southern England. In the early hours of April 22nd the 36 bombers reached English airspace and were attacked within an hour by British RAF night fighters (specifically modified Hurricanes and Spitfires). Despite this the bombers reach London and drop their high explosives in the general area of the industrial sector causing very light damage. The bombers are harassed their entire return flight. At first it was only the RAF (Royal Air Force) but when the bombers reached French airspace on the return trip to Germany French planes assisted the British planes in firing on the German bombers.

    Out of the original 36 bombers only 17 reached German airfields, many with varying degrees of damage. Hitler gives all the returning fliers Iron Cross First Class medals and congratulates them on the “Strike against the Jewish controlled British government.” The 19 bombers shot down (11 over England/English Channel) was proof of the effectiveness of radar in aerial detection. The British Radar Chain Home System worked so well that the German radar program which was lagging would receive a huge resurgence in budget and interest. Wever convinces Goering and Hitler that if Germany did not have an effective radar defense system than Germany's cities would suffer catastrophic destruction. Hitler seeing that Germany was essentially blind (A Luftwaffe squadron can not be everywhere at once, especially with how stretched the Luftwaffe was becoming and how thin it might be in the near future) authorizes the German Air Shield Program, modeled on the British Chain Home System but the Air Shield Program is very much in its infancy. Priority will be western and northern Germany and major cities. Colonel-General Ernst Udet is put in command of the Air Shield Program.

    April 27th, 1940- A Soviet spy plane enters German controlled airspace. Once spotted by observers a Luftwaffe squadron goes up to meet it. The Soviet plane is heavily damaged and crash lands a few kilometers inside Soviet territory. The Germans yell accusations and the Soviets claim the pilot had faulty navigation and strayed in German territory by accident.

    April 29th, 1940- German Military Intelligence notes a significant rise in the buildup of military forces on the Soviet side of the border, opposite of the General Government, which for months had been a moderate trickle was now a massive flow of men, weapons, planes and vehicles into what was eastern Poland.

    May 8th, 1940- It has become obvious what the Soviets are planning to do: an invasion of German controlled Poland. There can be no doubt now. After a month of wait and see it is obvious what the Soviets are planning. Many in Berlin are worried what this could mean. Germany lost the First World War and it was two fronts, now it seemed history would repeat itself. The west would be a stalemate and the east would be the war of movement, especially with Poland’s vast flat plains which was ideal for panzers. Some in Berlin however are looking forward to the coming fight with the Communists. The Soviets are the true ideological enemy of National Socialism and a racial enemy of the Aryan race, it is the destiny of the German Reich to defeat and conquer them and make their territory into German lebensraum.

    In Paris and London the reactions are mixed. Most want Germany to have a two front war, especially the Communists in the two Entente countries. But there is growing discontent with the war, especially in France. The war is eight months old and the Entente has nothing to show for it. The bombing campaign was cancelled after only a few raids into Germany with unacceptable losses; ground combat was stalemated due to the Maginot and Westwall. The French and British military commands remain halfhearted about the war. While the discontent is minor it is growing albeit glacially slowly. French and British right-wing political parties ranging from the French royalist party Action Française to the British Union of Fascists are struggling in their respected countries. These right wing/fascist parties are a minority and are being suppressed but they are being heard via radio and newspapers. They want to end the war with Germany and help Germany against the Soviet Union and some people are starting to agree. After all National Socialist Germany has private property, religion and international trade while the Soviet Union has none of these, the anathema of Capitalism.

    May 11th, 1940- Colonel-General Fedor von Bock arrives in Warsaw to oversee German defenses. German strength in Poland now numbers 250,000 men, 200 panzers (mainly Panzer IIIs with some Panzer IIs and Panzer IVs) and about 600 aircraft of all types. Another 200,000 men are being assembled in Germany with another 200 panzers (about half Panzer III, the other half Panzer IV), a few dozen squadrons or fighters, bombers and dive bombers are pried away from Westwall Air Defense Command but no more can be afforded. Many fear it may not be enough for the Soviet juggernaut.

    May 13th, 1940- In the Reich Chancellery Hitler tells his inner circle that he believes war with the Soviets is unavoidable and that the Third Reich and the Soviet Union will be at war within the year. To ensure Germany is ready Hitler commands that the German economy be put on a more war footing. This means stricter fuel and rubber rationing and the beginning of rationing of consumer goods. More factories will switch from consumer production to military production. Germany will within a few weeks be on a War Economy.

    *The reason this is significant is that in OTL Hitler never wanted to go on a total war economical mobilization feeling it would make the German people war weary but in the ASoSaF (A Storm of Steel and Fire) timeline it is nearing mid 1940 and Germany has the Entente to the west (which the plans to conquer them similar to OTL have been put on indefinite hold due to the aggressive Soviet presence to the east and the fact that Soviet Union is planning an invasion of the General Government and in turn the German Reich. Hitler cannot ignore this and orders the German economy and industry to increase military production which means the economy had to switch to a War Economy but this is just one step short of Total War Mobilization. So within a few weeks/months Germany will be making more guns, bullets, panzers, planes and the like than it made in OTL even into 1941. Also it should be told that Italy and Japan while allies of Germany have not gone to war against the Entente, which is the same policy they did in OTL. Also the fact that Germany has not conquered Denmark and Norway gives Germany the feeling of being surrounded despite that these nations, as of now, are neutral. This also makes Germany appear less war-mongering than it did in OTL.

    May 16th, 1940- First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, after looking at the map of Europe and more particularly Scandinavia, submits a daring plan to Prime Minister Chamberlain and the Minister of War. While many cite it as risky and potentially political backfiring Churchill insists it is the only way to “strike hard at the Germans”, the plan is studied and edited. It is code named Poseidon and will be activated if the opportunity arises.

    May 17th-June 21st, 1940- The situation remains static in Europe: German U-boats continue to prowl the Atlantic trying to starve Britain, German and French artillery duel erratically from across their respective borders and Soviet and German planes are fighting an unofficial air war against each other over the eastern General Government airspace. Japanese, while have had been quiet lately, prepare for another offensive into China.

    Italian dictator Benito Mussolini looks at Eastern Europe with worry. He had not gone to war with the Entente, Italy was not ready, but the Soviets would not care if he wanted to stay neutral or not. He sighed than picked up his telephone and talked to the Foreign Ministry and after that some generals of the Army. Within two weeks three Italian divisions would be transported north-east to supplement the German forces there (the order went out on May 19th), it would officially be called a “training exercise”. He stared out the window; the clouds of war were growing he thought wearily.
    Through secret negotiations Germany will loan rifles, machine guns, some light artillery and ammunition to the Swedish and Finnish Free Army (this is done on May 23rd, 1940)

    Private Elrich Dorff of the German Army looked warily to the east on the night of June 21st, 1940. War between the Reich and the Soviet Union had not been declared… yet, but it is expected within the next few weeks or months. The Wehrmacht forces in the east have been put on the highest alert for the weeks now and the Reich Labor Service, Organization Todt, and local Poles and Jews were building trenches, anti-panzer defenses and barbed wire spread out reminiscent of the Great War, he had seen pictures of what the fronts looked like then.

    But would it be enough? The Bolsheviks had taken over Finland and the Baltic States and they had so, so many men. Dorff believed that the average German soldier could take two or three Soviets with him but what about the fourth and the fifth Soviet soldier after that? He laid his head against the dirt wall in fox hole and after a while fell asleep with these questions still haunting him.
    Hours later he wakes up to the sound of thunder. No, that wasn’t thunder. That was artillery! He looked over to the east from his foxhole and just a few kilometers away he could see where the border between the Reich and the USSR had been. Now it was alight with fire and due to the light the fire cast off Dorff could see panzers upon panzers with endless lines of infantry. The Red Horde have marched west!

    He looked at his pocket watch his father gave him. It was four-oh-seven a.m. on June 22nd, 1940 and now the Third Reich and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were officially at war. Dorff saw German infantry surge forward to stem the tide and he went with them. He chambered a round in his Kar98k and fired at the advancing Soviets. German panzers from behind him moved forward to engage the Soviet panzers and in the night sky he could see wave upon wave upon wave of planes heading east with German AA fire lighting up the sky with an occasional plane hit and crashing into the Polish ground. Dorff worked the bolt on his rifle and prepared himself for the days ahead…
    Cookies, chrnno, Beacon and 5 others like this.
  3. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 3: A Red Dawn

    After months of planning, assembling forces and intelligence gathering the Soviet Union is finally ready. In the Kremlin Stalin and Stavka look at an enlarged map of Europe; red flags marked Soviet divisions while gray marked known German forces. What was formerly eastern Poland was swarming with red flags and the newly integrated Baltic Soviet Socialist Republics (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) also had division upon division. Overall there were 170 divisions in eastern Poland, 50 divisions in the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, with another 40 divisions acting as a strategic reserve. There were over 7,000 tanks (a combination of T-26s, T-28s, and BT-7s/BT-5s/BT-2s with a small amount of T-34s and KV-1s) assembled and ready to drive west. In Finland there were 20 Red Army divisions on the Swedish-Finnish border. These troops while adequately supplied in small arms, light artillery and machine guns have very little in terms of tanks due to as many as possible were sent to eastern Poland where there is much better tank country. All in all there are nearly 6,000 planes (combinations of I-15 and I-16 Polikarpov fighters and Yak-1s but the Yaks are new and not available in the numbers of the I-15/I-16, some Su-2 fighter-bombers, and large amounts of the Tupolev SB bombers).

    Eastern Poland- 170 divisions (1,700,000 men), 5500 tanks, 4000 planes

    Lithuania- 50 divisions (500,000 men), 1500 tanks, 1700 planes

    Finland- 20 divisions (200,000 men), slightly over a 100 tanks, 300 planes

    Strategic Reserve (located in the western portions of the Ukraine and Belorussia) - 40 divisions (400,000 men), 2500 tanks (in theory), much of the Strategic Reserve tanks have been stripped mechanically to supply spare parts for the tanks farther west. Soviet industry is starting to gear up considerably but as of now has very little in the way of spare parts for its tank divisions also many are in need of maintenance but that has been put off to send those spare parts to the frontline tanks. So there are 2500 tanks in the Strategic Reserve but maybe only 300 are actually combat ready. The same is said for the 1,000 or so planes in the Strategic Reserve but even more so, only about a 100 are combat ready the rest are in varying states of repair or have been stripped of spare parts for frontline planes. The 40 divisions of the Strategic Reserve are severely under supplied in terms of machine guns and extra ammunition and grenades. They had also been stripped to send as much as possible while still keeping them a fighting force (barely) to support frontline units.

    Overall Soviet numbers on the eve of Operation Red Dawn (does not include Strategic Reserve)- 240 divisions (2,400,000 men), 7,000 tanks, 6,000 planes.

    Overall German numbers facing the Soviets- 39 divisions (390,000) in central Poland, 10 divisions (100,000) in East Prussia, a division and a half (15,000) in Sweden assisting the Swedish and Free Finnish forces against the Soviets in occupied Finland, there are 20 divisions (200,000) in what was formerly western Poland but was annexed directly into the Reich. Within hours these troops are transferred to central Poland to assist the troops already there. The German panzer number to around 1,900 (some Panzer IIs but mainly Panzer IIIs with a decent amount of Panzer IVs). Another 600 (Some panzer IIs, IIIS are the majority and even more Panzer IVs) are in eastern Germany (eastern pre-war Germany and formerly western Poland). The Luftwaffe presence is 1,200 planes (750 Bf-109 Messerschmitt fighters, 450 are a mix of Stukas, Heinkel 111s, Dornier Do 17s, Junkers Ju 88 and Junkers Ju 89 bombers). Another 300 (mainly fighters with some bombers) will be sent from various bases throughout Germany.

    Central Poland- 39 divisions (390,000 men), 1,400 panzers, 800 planes, commanded by Colonel-General Fedor von Bock

    East Prussia- 10 divisions (100,000 men), 500 panzers, 350 planes, commanded by Colonel-General von Rundstedt

    Sweden- A division and a half (15,000 men), zero panzers, 50 planes, commanded by Lieutenant General Eduard Dietl. In Sweden Dietl’s panzer forces are actually Swedish tanks along with a few Finnish models that made it Sweden before the Finnish surrender. He has a total of 60 tanks all Swedish or Finnish but not German panzers.

    Overall commander of Operation Red Dawn: Marshal Semyon Timoshenko

    Eastern Poland commander- General Ivan Konev

    Baltic States commander- General Nikolai Vatutin

    Finland commander- Kliment Voroshilov (after his removal from the Finnish theater of command during the Winter War due to ineffective leadership he returned to Moscow and after Finland surrendered he was returned and he took out his anger at the Finns for them not surrendering to him but rather to the much better military commander Timoshenko. He leads a very oppressive military occupation over the Finns, executing thousands for the smallest infractions. Voroshilov will soon be known as the Executioner of Finland).

    The Stavka are visibly worried about the offensive against the Germans. The First World War made the Germans seem to be demi-gods at war and the Soviet Union had a healthy fear of them. Even with new factories coming online and more switching to war production, not to mention the Trans-Ural factories that were beginning to grow in number due to fear of German long range bombers, the Soviets have put the cream of the crop into the offensive. The average German soldier was better than its Soviet counter-part especially in terms of supply and equipment. German tanks, while not nearly as many as Soviet ones, have had much better combat experience, decent cannon, on the Panzer IIIs it was 37mm (an upgraded Panzer III with a 50mm cannon is in final testing and pre-production, will be available either late 1940 or early 1941) (Soviet T-26, BT-5/BT-7 tanks have a 45mm cannon, while the BT-2s have a 37mm, the T-34 which are only available in small numbers has a 76.2mm cannon) and Panzer IVs with its powerful 75mm cannon. The German Army and Air Force were also much more disciplined and had better training. If this offensive failed the USSR might not be able to retake the initiative until early or mid 1942.
    Stalin himself is worried but he does not let that show on his face or body language. Despite his own misgivings he knows he cannot step down now, he would lose face internationally if he did. Besides the Soviet forces heavily outnumber the German forces in Poland and the combat against the Germans would be good experience earned the hard way which will come in handy later, of this he was sure. So on June 21st, 1940 Stalin orders Marshal Timoshenko in Bialystok (eastern Poland, he moved his command there shortly after arriving in Poland) to launch the offensive at 4:00 a.m. the next day.

    June 22nd, 1940- At 4:00 a.m. across the entirety of the Soviet-German border Soviet artillery opens up on German positions. Soviet troops and tanks, under the coverage of the artillery barrage, head west to secure their first day objectives. Soviet planes dominate the skies over eastern and central Poland and over East Prussia. Soviet fighters assist ground troops whenever possible but their main goal is to shoot down as many Luftwaffe planes as possible. Soviet bombers and fighter-bombers hammer German positions and supply lines. Within an hour the Soviet Union officially declares war on Nazi Germany, Sweden, and Slovakia. The respective countries do the same.

    The Germans knew the Soviet offensive was coming soon but they did not know it would be this soon. The first 12 hours of Red Dawn are very successful for the Red Army. Thousands of Germans are either killed or captured and are steadily pushed back. Hitler was asleep when the Soviet invasion was launched but he was woken up within minutes due to the severity of the situation. He assembles the General Staff and they discuss what to do. They had contingency plans yes but the size of the Red Army was galling and how many tanks and planes they had was near beyond comprehension. After a 2 hour meeting it is decided to send three quarters of the Westwall Army Garrison (forces arrayed on the Westwall facing Belgium and France) (will go from 400,000 men to 100,000 men, the 300,000 will be sent to the east as soon as possible). The forces along the Dutch-German and Danish-German borders will be stripped to the bone, another 100,000 men will be sent east. Luftwaffe bases in western Germany will send all bombers save for a few squadrons to the east (the border bombing campaign in the West which was half-hearted by both sides at best will completely stop from the Germans side, the Entente air forces, having implemented better bomber plane defense formations and more fighter escorts to protect them, plan to send more raids into Germany in the near future). The Luftwaffe fighter squadrons in western Germany cannot be pried away for obvious reasons. Entire Panzer divisions, many which were on the French, Belgian and Dutch borders are now sent east along with most of the motorized divisions. Only a few hundred panzers will remain facing Entente France and Belgium which for months has been under diplomatic pressure from both sides but is warming up to the Entente over the Germans. German conscription will expand, recruiting tens of thousands of young men while the recruitment offices line up with tens of thousands of volunteers (they know how dangerous the Soviet Union is and what the consequences of being occupied by them means).

    Colonel-General Fedor von Bock, commander of German forces in the General-Government orders a fluid defense within minutes of the invasion. This means that German units will hold as long as possible in their combat zones but if it seems they will be overrun or surrounded they are to make a fighting retreat west to where more German forces are. He does this before Hitler orders a stand fast defense which would likely cause tens of thousands of German soldiers to be surrounded and destroyed. Hitler, after much discussion with Colonel-General Wilhelm Keitel (commander of the Wehrmacht and de facto War Minister to Hitler), publicly supports the fluid defense plan. In private he is furious to have to lose any territory to the Bolshevik Slavs. Eventually he will see the merit of von Bock’s defense plan and will learn that a stand fast defense is not always the best defense.

    By the end of June 22nd, 1940 the Red Army has moved as far as 17 kilometers (into central Poland) and as little as 2 kilometers (in East Prussia where Germany had some pre-war defenses). German losses by the end of the day while high pale when compared to the Soviets. But the Soviets can replace these losses quickly which the Germans cannot as of yet. As the invasion progresses westward German losses lower due to not being surprised as they were the first day and with integrated fields of defense along with the fluid defense strategy. Soviet losses are two to three and sometimes four times what the Germans are losing. Hundreds of Soviet tanks are stated as “lost” on the first day but only about 2/3 were destroyed by the Germans, the other 1/3 broke down due to faulty mechanics, battle damage and such and were forced to be abandoned due to lack of spare parts. The damaged and broke down tanks will be decommissioned and their parts will be added to the overall supply cache of spare parts for the Red Army tanks.
    The Red Air Force had planned on taking the Luftwaffe by complete surprise and destroying much of their fighter and bomber capability in central Poland on the ground before they became a problem, this was to be a false hope as since early May Colonel-General Albert Kesselring, Commander-in-Chief of all Luftwaffe units in the Eastern Theater had ordered that approximately 10% of its Eastern Theater fighter strength will be in the air at all times for defense and early warning. This proved invaluable in allowing dozens of Luftwaffesquadrons to get airborne in time and fight the masses of Red Air Force bombers and (mostly) outdated and semi-modern fighters. German tactical and strategic bombers moved west towards better defended airbases and from there were able to launch bombing attacks on the advancing Soviets. Stukas at this time went to the front to stem the Red tide as the other bombers moved westward. While the Red Air Force outnumbers the Luftwaffe by a wide margin and secured air superiority over the frontlines it came at a cost of hundreds of planes shot down or heavily damaged, mainly by German Bf-109s Messerschmitt which prove superior to most Soviet fighter planes. The Soviets bombing of German supply lines while devastating were not crippling as they hoped it would be due to AA guns and Luftwaffe interceptor squadrons. Kesselring orders the Luftwaffe fighter squadrons to attain air superiority and when possible support Army units retreating west towards better positions. Junkers Ju 89s bomb Soviet supply lines and are much more effective than the Soviet bombers attacking German supply lines. German tactical bombers (Heinkel He 111, Junkers Ju 88, and Dornier Do 17) bombard Soviet lines, slowing them down, and doing much damage on forward positions.

    In Sweden the Soviet forces cross the border after a five hour light artillery barrage and Soviet planes dominate the skies even more so than in Poland but Luftwaffe squadrons based in Stockholm make their way north to fight for the skies contested there. The 20 Soviet divisions slam upon the German/Finnish/Swedish defenses like a hammer upon a nail. After advancing 10 kilometers into Sweden (10 kilometers being deepest penetration so far while the shallowest is 6 kilometers) the Soviet forces enter very tough terrain and determined German/Finnish/Swedish defenses that been in development since Finland surrendered. The Soviets do continue to advance but not at a sluggish pace with untold liters of blood spilt with very little gained.

    When Stalin is informed of the military progress he nods. The offensive in Poland is not going as fast as wished but as fast as was realistically predicted, East Prussia has bogged down a bit but reports from General Vatutin is that the German defenses are being swarmed with troops and are slowly being taken, Vatutin expects Soviet progress in the next week or so. The advance into Sweden was proving promising but considerably less so now. Stalin sends more units into the fray on all fronts. Stalin ordered that another 50 divisions of troops to be raised but they had to go through training and receive equipment which would all take time, many months at least. He orders that the offensive continue on all fronts with the utmost vigilance.

    June 23rd, 1940- The second day of the offensive opens up with a surge of aircraft of both sides fighting dogfights where scores of planes are downed. A large Soviet bomber force of 400 Tupolev SB bombers and Su-2 fighter-bombers escorted by 500 fighters (mainly the inferior I-15 and the modern I-16 but due to better Luftwaffe pilot training and more combat experience the I-16 is not on equal terms as the Bf-109) (the I-16 is a bit more maneuverable than the current versions of the Messerschmitt Bf-109 but upgrades are coming to the Bf-109 and the Soviets are beginning to phase out the I-15 and I-16 with the more advanced Yak-1). The large Red Air Force formation is moving west towards Warsaw, a major communication and supply hub for the German Army. Luftwaffe fighters and ground based AA take a terrible toll on the Soviet planes shooting down 60 planes before they reach Warsaw, mainly bombers. When the bombers reach Warsaw and drop their payloads the damage is massive with almost 11,000 dead, mainly Polish civilians. Despite light German losses the damage to the German supplies are devastating. Among the supplies destroyed ranged from small arms ammunition for rifles and submachine guns to food and extra clothing. The most damaging loss to the German forces in central Poland was the destruction of most of the German panzer cannon ammunition shells. This will seriously limit how many shells a panzer can fire before running completely out. Replacement shells are ordered from Germany but it will take weeks, almost a month, to get supplies back up to the level it was before the bombing of Warsaw. Along with the shells goes a significant amount of fuel that is the lifeblood of the German panzers, planes and other military vehicles. The Soviet bomber force flies back to Soviet controlled space having lost 167 bombers and 192 fighters while Luftwaffe losses were 151 fighters with dozens more damaged beyond quick repair.

    June 24th, 1940- Sweden officially joins the Axis Powers. This was done not out of support for authoritarian rule or fascism or racism but mere survival. Germany sends advisors, money and some machine guns, Panzer Is and artillery but nothing more. Nothing can be spared. The Swedes use the money and advisors to good use enlarging their Army, their Air Force and their industry to better fight the war. Norway and Denmark, which have remained neutral, are nervously looking at all sides. Denmark would rather join the Entente but Germany and Sweden are to the north and south so no help will be forthcoming. The Soviet Union is communist and brutal and the Axis are authoritative and expansionist. Denmark decides to remain neutral and hope for the best. Norway is taking a keen interest in the war which is now publicly being called the Second World War. Most of the Norwegian Parliament wish to remain neutral or join the Entente, some even want to join the Axis and fight against the invading communists, after all Sweden was Norway’s close cousin country and it had been invaded by the dreaded Bolsheviks and Sweden itself had joined the Axis. The nation as a whole supports either the Axis or the Entente with few supporting the USSR, and the few that are supporting an alliance with the Soviet Union are rapidly being eliminated by Axis and Entente supporters.

    June 25th, 1940- A concentrated push by Soviet armored forces in central Poland breaks through the stretched German lines and within hours 20,000 German soldiers are surrounded cut off from other German forces. Large units of Soviet tanks block any attempt by the Germans to relieve these surrounded units. The German units here decide to fight as long as the ammunition and food last (they do not surrender because reports since the beginning of the Soviet attack report Soviet atrocities towards German POWs. Many soldiers would rather die than get caught).

    June 27th, 1940- Following the success of the minor breakthrough in the south Timoshenko orders units located there to exploit this as much as possible; tank after tank move westward followed by tens of thousands of Soviet infantry.
    The Germans have little in the way of major defenses here and are quickly pushed back. The quick advance has developed an issue with Soviet logistics: not enough fuel is reaching the Soviet tanks on the advance. General Ivan Konev messages Stalin “…give me the fuel and I will give you a victory.”

    June 29th, 1940- 80 German panzers (Panzer IIs and Panzer IIIs) meet the Soviets that were advancing to Lublin due to the breakthrough. The German panzers cause significant damage until a platoon of Soviet T-34 tanks enter the battle. The Germans lose half of their panzers, most to the T-34s, while only eleven T-34s (dozens of other Soviet tanks were also destroyed) are destroyed (the only reason this many were destroyed was due to ineffective Soviet communication and coordination with other tanks to assist each other). Reports of this incident and of the powerful T-34 go to Berlin where scientists and engineers look at the sloped armor of the T-34 with much interest. It is obvious that the German panzers, particularly the III, while modern and effective are out of their league when fighting the T-34. Plans for a bigger, better panzer are in the works but it will be quite some time before anything will come of it. Upgrades to the Panzer IV are also in the works to make the IV more effective against Soviet armor. This includes thicker frontal armor which will be a semi-sloped glacis and an upgrade to the 75mm cannon to make it more effective against enemy tanks. All this however is many months away, at least, from testing and production. Soviet forces are now advancing on Lublin with all haste. German forces there begin to evacuate all useful supplies while a few Waffen-SS units will hold their ground to delay the Soviet conquest.

    June 30th, 1940- Eight days after the Soviet invasion of Poland, East Prussia and Sweden the Entente finally makes a public announcement. The Entente applauds the Soviets for assaulting the Nazis and states “That with the Soviet Union helping the Entente the war will be quickly won and the world will once again know peace.” A large Entente bomber force: 350 bombers and 300 fighters (mostly French with a decent amount of British planes. The British planes are mostly Hurricanes), cross the French-German border and advance on the Ruhr region. The Ruhr is an industrial region vital to the German war industry. Luftwaffe pilots know this will be a vital air battle.
    Nearly 280 BF-109 Messerschmitt fighters engage the Entente fighters while another 100 Luftwaffe reinforcements from other bases come to assist but they have to travel some distance and that takes time.
    The Battle of the Ruhr begins with Entente scouts and German scout’s dog fighting while the main body of the Entente formation passes by molested only by thick AA fire. The original German force of 280 planes fight hard destroying 67 bombers and 45 fighters while losing only 43 planes, the damage to the Ruhr is moderate. The Entente Bomber Command however senses an opportunity to seriously hamper the Germans by trying a new tactic.

    July 1st, 1940- The Entente launch a consecutive raid the next day consisting of fighters and bombers against the Ruhr and this day is even bloodier then the previous. The Germans lose 68 fighters with significant damage to much of the Ruhr with only 37 Entente bombers and 30 fighters felled. The Germans had not expected such a massive attack the day after another massive attack. But the Entente Bomber Command is not done.

    July 2nd, 1940- After refueling, resting, replenishing supplies, and receiving reinforcements the Entente launches a third and final consecutive bombing raid into Germany. The German pilots are more prepared this time, especially after receiving fresh reinforcements from northern Germany.
    The Entente bomber force is now 250 bombers and 300 fighters against 320 German fighters. The Entente, while having more planes, have suffered heavy losses the past two days and these reinforcements are in fact either fresh from training schools or have never fought a significant engagement against the Germans. The Germans on the other hand have some new recruits but many have been part of the Westwall Air Defense Command for some time and have fought the Entente air forces many times.
    The third day of the Battle of the Ruhr for the Entente ends with 106 bombers and 143 fighters destroyed. The Germans lose 117 fighters but the damage to the Ruhr is even lighter than the first day. The heavy Entente losses are due to the integrated AA system and the fierce defense performed by German pilots. Both sides have lost many planes and trained pilots. Both leave the skies to lick their wounds.
    The results for the Battle of the Ruhr are heavy damage to perhaps a quarter of the Ruhr with the rest either moderately damaged to light damage. The Entente loses a combined 418 planes (210 bombers, 218 fighters) while the Germans lose 228 fighters but the damage to the industrial Ruhr is deemed worth the cost by Entente Bomber Command. Production output is down 30% in the Ruhr along with a large force of the Westwall Air Defense Force wiped from the earth. Publically the Entente claims the battle of the Ruhr as a victory but privately many French generals are dismayed by the cost. Most of the planes shot down were French and the Germans despite being assailed from the North (in Sweden) and East by the Soviets while the Entente tie down significant German forces in the West are still in the fight, more so than ever. The Entente might have more planes but the Germans knew how to use them better and the Germans were producing more fighters despite the two Entente nations industrial production (neither the British or French go to a war time economy, they are doing much the same as the Germans did in OTL up till 1943 so this means less Entente factories are making war materials than German factories but between the British and French it is still a lot of military production).

    July 3rd, 1940- Hitler, after personally visiting, damaged towns and factories in the Ruhr, realizes that Germany needs more fighters, but it also needs more panzers, rifles and ammunition for all. Returning to Berlin Hitler tells his inner circle that Germany will move from a War Economy to a Total War Mobilization. More rationing will go into effect and the German people will be tested but due to the Entente bombings on German soil (causing thousands of civilians dead) and the hated Soviet Union advancing towards the Reich the German people are behind their Führer more so then before. Germany lost one war and barely survived. Could it lose a second?
    The new rationing laws and the movement towards Total War Mobilization will increase industrial output: more weapons of war. German engineering teams are coming up with new ways to increase production but to make it more automated to allow more men to be conscripted. New technologies, some that were seen as far stretched or unrealistic, are now receiving full attention, particularly jet engine and rocket technology but these are years away from effective mass production and use in the field. Also to increase fighter production, which is a needed much more over bombers at this point, the amount of bombers being produced will be cut back heavily allowing fighter production to take over (many factories that were making bombers are now about to start buildings fighters and upgraded Bf-109s at that). Göring, who wanted a large bomber force to help German offensives advance, realizes that with Germany on the defense on three fronts bombers are less important and fighters more in demand. To the surprise of many General Walther Wever supports the Führer’s move to increase fighter production at the cost of limiting bomber production. Wever realizes that Germany needs fighters more now than ever. The German bomber force will be kept in reserve and used only to slow advancing Soviets or when the need arises, to counter-attack, and also to damage enemy supply lines.

    July 4th, 1940- General Vatutin, commander of the East Prussian Theater, finally overcomes the German defenses on the Lithuanian-German border. Memel is quickly taken and Soviet forces are advancing at a heavy, but acceptable, cost. German reinforcements from Germany are arriving on all fronts but it is not enough to stem the Red tide.

    July 5th, 1940- After nearly a week since the tank battle east of Lublin Soviet forces enter the outskirts of the city. Most of the German forces had moved westward towards better defensible positions but a regiment of the Waffen-SS (1,000 men) fight the Soviets to the death to slow down the Red Army. The Waffen-SS troops, using Molotov cocktails and land mines destroy over forty Soviet tanks that were ignorant enough to enter the city. In Moscow and Berlin both sides take note of how vulnerable armor is in urban areas. By the end of the day the Soviets had taken the city but not before almost 4,000 died for only 600 Waffen-SS troops, 300 are able to make it to German lines under the coverage of artillery and bombers. Another 100 SS troops remain behind to wage a guerilla war against the Soviets in the city with the support of fascist Poles.

    July 6th, 1940- Soviet forces officially announce the capture and “liberation” of Lublin from the “Fascist oppressors.” The Red Army major that read the announcement was shot and killed by a sniper, one of the remaining SS men. The Soviets demand he be turned over or fifty Poles would be shot. Within hours it was obvious no one was coming forward and the 50 Polish civilians were killed by firing squad. The Poles, while considered sub-human by the Nazis, support the German over the Soviets while the Jews support the Soviets. This is in general, not definite.
    Colonel-General von Bock in Warsaw looks with dismay at his southern front. With Lublin gone the Soviets could move either north-west towards Warsaw or to the south-west towards Krakow or due west towards Lodz. He sighed and began to issue orders moving troops around. The decisions he will make in the coming days will decide the fate of the Reich.
  4. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 4: Hold the Line

    Private Artyom Vetrov of the Red Army looked through the iron sights of his Mosin-Nagant. Before him lied a small Polish village, very similar to the one he grew up in outside of Moscow. But this was different. This was not a village full of Russian peasants; no it was full of Jews. They wore somber black, long beards and curly hair. Vetrov didn’t have much use for Jews as a whole but their hatred for the Nazis and vice versa makes them good allies… usually. Some Jews supported the Soviet Union’s advance in Poland, others hated the Soviets almost as much as the Nazis, and most didn’t seem to care. The Jews have always been at the bottom and some were content with it.
    As he looked on the Soviet captain in charge of negotiations with the Jews raised a hand in victory: these Jews will not fight the Red Army. Artyom nodded in satisfaction. He rose from the slight slope of land that he was using as cover. As he marched west, along with thousands of other men in Red army khaki, he prayed to a God that the New Soviet man in him told him that He did not exist. He prayed that he would come through this war alive. The Soviet Union might be advancing but at a horrendous cost.
    As the sky darkened Artyom continued marching west. West towards victory!

    July 9th, 1040- After a few days of assembling forces in central Poland Soviet forces strike north-west. Their goal: Warsaw. German positions having been prepared for over two weeks hold for a while and make an organized withdrawal when forced to.
    Soviet losses while high are deemed acceptable. A constant stream of replacements and even entire new divisions are arriving making the Soviet position stronger in Poland. German reinforcements, on orders from Hitler and the General Staff, will NOT be going to the front. They will instead begin manning and fortifying formerly western Poland, currently eastern Germany. The Germans have over a million men, many new recruits but well trained and equipped with the best weapons the Germans can make, at this line.

    July 14th, 1940- On Radio Berlin, with approval from Hitler, Dr. Joseph Goebbels announced that the Poles under German rule that are deemed Aryan or sub-Aryan (pretty much a Slav but loyal to the Third Reich and National Socialism and must not have any Jewish, gypsy and other “undesirable” ancestors) (with the Germans being pushed, manpower wise, this early in the war they need to get as many troops as possible. And by 1940 Germany ITTL has not committed nationwide, government run genocide against the Polish population, yes I know thousands were killed by this time but ITTL Germany is forced to restructure its racist laws. Many Slavs, particularly from Poland, Byelorussia, and the Ukraine are no longer Untermenschen in and of itself but rather they are sub-Aryan which is above the Slavs that will still be considered slaves and Untermenschen but not as high as Nordic/Germanic Aryans such as central, western and northern Europe) and that volunteer centers are opening throughout eastern Germany (formerly western Poland). Tens of thousands join due to hatred of Communism and Judaism (most Poles were very anti-Semitic) and of the completion of their service (after the war) that they will be recognized as German citizens. There is a very tough screening and background check that checks to see if the Polish volunteers are deemed to be of “quality Aryan heritage”. Those that are deemed not sub-Aryan are turned away or worse… sent to labor camps (no concentration system has been established en masse yet, Germany cannot expend the resources needed due to the hectic three front war (west, east and north).

    July 16th, 1940- Soviet forces reach the German city of Königsberg but determined German forces, assisted by local citizens volunteering as auxiliaries for the Wehrmacht, are able to successfully defend the city. Soviet troops try to outmaneuver German troops and surround the city, trapping the German forces there. The Soviets are unsuccessful and meet the failure with high casualties.

    July 21st, 1940- Twelve days after the Soviet drive to Warsaw started the Soviets can see the city and begin shelling it with artillery. The Second Battle of Warsaw has begun (first battle was the Battle of Warsaw during the German invasion in 1939).

    July 26th, 1940- In Sweden the combined Swedish/Finnish/German forces are forced to fall back thirty kilometers to where a bigger and stronger defensive line had been built, the line is called the Gustaf Line in honor of the King of Sweden. German forces are down to 11,000 but these Germans are leading the much larger Swedish/Finnish forces in very effective defense against the poorly led Soviets. Norwegian fascists, freedom fighters, and anti-Communists start arriving as volunteers to Sweden in large numbers, similar to the support Finland received from Sweden and Finland during the Winter War. The Soviets protest but cannot do much more. Stalin cannot afford fighting Norway in the failing Scandinavian Campaign.

    July 27th, 1940- In a high level conference meeting in Hitler’s Berghof retreat in Berchtesgaden Hitler demands that the Soviets must be stopped. He states that the Reich needs to gain the initiative or at least stop the Soviet advance. Germany needs a successful offensive to show the many neutrals in Europe that are leaning towards the Axis, especially due to the threat of the USSR, that Germany is still very much in the fight and could possibly win. Much of Eastern and Southern Europe will be watching the coming months with much interest. The Germans begin assembling an offensive outside Krakow and Poznan.

    July 29th, 1940- The three Italian divisions that were sent to Poland on a “training exercise” come into contact with Soviet forces for the first time. Despite having poor equipment and lackluster leadership the Italian units were near the equal of the Soviet forces they fought against. Only the Red Army’s abundance of tanks and men forced the Italians back. Due to this actual military battle between the Italians and the Soviets both declare war on each other within hours.

    August 2nd, 1940- The Finnish Free State officially joins the Axis.

    August 3rd, 1940- In Italy, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, after looking of reports of Italian fighting capability in Poland (which is adequate but needs vast improvements), and remembering the embarrassing performance of the Italian Army in the conquest of Ethiopia, orders a vast re-organization of the Italian Army, Navy and Air Force. The equipment, training and combat doctrine would be upgraded and the creation of fast moving infantry and armored units, similar to the Germans blitzkrieg, is put on top priority.

    August 4th, 1940- Soviet forces have entered Warsaw’s inner city limits. The Germans are fighting for every centimeter of the former Polish capital. Stalin focuses his attention on Warsaw, take it and Germany loses central Poland, lose it and the war in Poland will last much longer.

    August 6th, 1940- In England Winston Churchill pushes for his Operation Poseidon “before all of Scandinavia falls to the tyrants,” The British and French General Staffs agree to launch Poseidon. Preparations begin with forces being assembled and French and British naval ships start scouting in the North Sea in significant numbers. German U-boats note the increased activity and pass it to the higher levels of the Kriegsmarine but Admiral Raeder states it is only the Entente trying to show off its naval superiority. Entente High Command wants to wait until spring of the following year to launch the operation but this may change.

    August 17th, 1940- In an effort to enhance Soviet positions in Warsaw Stalin orders tanks to enter the urban environment where many are quickly destroyed by German units. Both sides take careful note on the continued lack of success of armored vehicles in urban environments.

    August 23rd, 1940- German positions in Warsaw now only encompass the north-western part of the city but are well dug in. Thousands of Soviets are dying moving forward.

    August 26th, 1940- The airspace over Poland remains very much active with Luftwaffe and Red Air Force units continue to shoot down each other in large numbers. Under cover of darkness large amounts of German troops and panzers move to forward areas near Krakow, Poland; the Soviets had focused heavily on mid and north central Poland and East Prussia, the southern mid portion of Poland had seen relatively little Soviet advances here. The Germans begin finalizing the details of Operation Dagger.

    September 1st, 1940- The first full year of the war ends with the war remaining a stalemate. Neutrals from around the world watch the aggressive USSR with wariness and the Axis and Entente with hope and dread.

    September 3rd, 1940-Soviet forces, facing little in the way of German defenses (most had been pulled westward to what was being called the Danzig Line due to the defensive line beginning a few kilometers in front of Danzig and going south all the way through Lodz and on towards Krakow. The Danzig Line is not a massive fortification line like the Westwall but rather where the German forces will make a stand. Trenches, barbed wire and some anti-panzer fortifications are constructed but nothing on the scale of the Westwall.

    September 6th, 1940- In Finland a small uprising begins in some major Finnish cities. This disrupts Soviet supply lines. The uprising does come as a surprise but due to poor coordination and lack of armaments it does not spread past some major cities.

    September 8th, 1940- Soviet forces achieve a breakthrough of German defenses south of Königsberg and encircle the German city to the east, west and south. German supplies continue to reach the besieged city by naval transports and Luftwaffe cargo planes.

    September 11th, 1940- After 5 days of hectic fighting the Soviets has regained complete control throughout Finland. Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, commander of the Swedish campaign and overall commander of occupied Finland orders the execution of 25,000 Finns as a lesson to the Finns for rebelling, some of these were captured rebels and immediate family members of those rebels, but most were either extended family or randomly selected civilians (many were pulled off the streets).

    September 12th-19th, 1940- Within a week 25,000 Finnish civilians were shot and killed by NKVD and Red Army units with machineguns. The Executioner of Finland, Voroshilov, places more restrictions on the already oppressed Finns. The political fallout of this in the West was vast. The United States, England, and France and dozens of other nations stop all diplomatic negotiations with the Soviet Union and warn that “Stalin should control his henchmen or face the consequences.” In Moscow Stalin is disappointed of the actions of Voroshilov but does nothing to reprimand him.

    September 14th-23rd, 1940- Red Army units begin coming into contact with the Danzig Line. Stalin orders the Red Army to approach but not advance onto it (he wants them to stop a few kilometers away from the Danzig Line). Stalin needs time to bring more supplies, tanks and troops forward. Logistics are a mess due to Luftwaffe bombing and the ineffective motor transport supply system of the Red Army. Any advance by the Red Army would result in a disaster. It would be at least a month, more likely six weeks, to gain effective supplies and troops to break through the Danzig Line into Germany proper. Stalin is content to wait and organize, confident that the Germans were unable or unwilling to launch an offensive at this time due to the heavy casualties (not nearly as heavy as the Soviets) and the large amounts of destroyed panzers in Poland (still not as many as destroyed Red Army tank). As the Red Army moves westward towards the Danzig Line reports start filtering to Moscow that the German armored forces still fighting Soviet forces east of the Danzig Line consisted mainly of Panzer IIs and even Panzer Is with few Panzer IIIs and IVs. This confirms Stalin’s belief that Germany would not launch an offensive; it had lost too many powerful panzer units (of IIIs and IVs) in the fight in central Poland and no new ones were coming to the front. Stalin boastfully announces to the Stavka that “come January of 1941 the German Reich will be smashed by the Red Juggernaut and all of Europe will be for the taking.

    September 22nd, 1940- Another 5 divisions of Soviet infantry arrive in Finland, two will remain in Finland to enforce the even harsher laws and regulations put upon the Finnish population, the other three divisions will move to Sweden to jumpstart the lagging campaign there.

    September 26th, 1940- German forces are finally pushed out of Warsaw. Radio Moscow proclaims the Second Battle of Warsaw as “a great victory for the workers and peasants of the Soviet Union.”
    The German High Command takes the loss of Warsaw with acceptance. It was inevitable but it did serve to cause a distraction and had cost the Soviets dearly. Besides Operation Dagger is about to begin. Meanwhile Stavka, the Soviet General Staff, begins sending fresh division upon division into Poland, centered on Lublin and Warsaw where they would be organized into a sledgehammer that will break the Danzig Line.

    September 30th, 1940- In the early hours of September 30th Germany launches Operation Dagger. The operation starts with hundreds of transport planes, carrying the Luftwaffe Fallschirmjäger (German paratroopers) flying towards Soviet territory to drop off their human cargo. The plan was for the paratroopers to drop behind enemy lines, some as close as 10 kilometers, and others as far as 30 kilometers. Their objective was to hold key road junctions, bridges, and to capture or destroy enemy supplies and try and slow down Soviet reinforcements to the front. Within hours 4,000 German paratroopers are on the ground causing havoc amongst Soviet positions. The drops however did not go to according to plan. Entire platoons missed their drop zone and were dropped either too far away and were quickly eliminated by Red Army units or were very close to other German paratroopers, linked up, and held an area and delaying Soviet troop movements.
    550 German panzers (all of them Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs) supported by 58 infantry divisions (580,000 troops) and with hundreds of half-tracks and trucks to transport many of these troops to match speeds with the panzers. The German offensive launches from its forward positions 90 kilometers east/80 kilometers north of Krakow (Soviet forces did not advance past this). The offensive goes north/north-east. This offensive is commanded by panzer expert General Heinz Guderian.
    The operation begins with the paratroop drop and a four hour artillery barrage and then the rapid advance of panzer and motorized forces. This German offensive was the first major use of blitzkrieg since the Battle of Poland in 1939 and since that time the Germans had refined and modified the blitzkrieg doctrine to make it more effective. This operation would show the world the refinements and improvements the Germans had made upon their lightning war doctrine. This is also the first use of the Fallschirmjäger in combat.

    October 1st, 1940- Luftwaffe fighter squadrons have near-complete control over south-central Poland airspace, assisting the German offensive. Carefully hoarded German bombers bomb Soviet positions and damage Soviet controlled railroads and destroying dozens of supply caches that the supply deficient forces of the Red Army cannot replace anytime soon. Soviet troops are surrendering en masse.

    October 2nd, 1940- After 3 days Stalin is only now seeing the problem of Operation Dagger. At first dismissed as a minor local offensive he now realizes it is a major German offensive to destabilize Soviet positions in central Poland. Stalin orders hundreds of thousands to move and stall the Germans. He orders all troops facing German units to hold the line. But these troops arrived in piecemeal and were defeated accordingly.

    October 4th, 1940- The rapid offensive by the Germans is moving so fast that the only thing delaying any more advancement is the lack of fuel due to the stretched supply lines.

    October 5th, 1940- By using captured Soviet stockpiles of fuel the German offensive moved forward with increasing speed. Another 25 infantry divisions which were held in reserve are now put into action to solidify the flanks of the offensive. Soviet attacks into the flanks of the German offensive are met with failure.

    October 7th, 1940- Just 8 days after the launching of the German offensive German forces enter to city outskirts of Lublin. The German Army had advanced from its pre-offensive positions north of Krakow (by 80 kilometers) to the city limits of Lublin. The Germans had advanced 145 kilometers in just 8 days. It took the Soviet 13 days to reach Lublin and their starting point was closer.

    October 9th, 1940- With fresh fighter reinforcements the Luftwaffe holds temporary air superiority over much of central Poland.

    October 10th, 1940- With much of the Soviet attention on Lublin and surrounding area the German High Command authorizes Operation Dagger Phase II. In the early hours of the 10th of October over 70 divisions of German infantry and hundreds of panzers (Is, mainly IIs and IIIs, with very few IVs) move eastward from the Danzig Line. Soviet forces, despite outnumbering the Germans in almost every skirmish and battle, are routed with tens of thousands dead or captured.

    October 13th, 1940- Stalin orders the Strategic Reserve (40 divisions/ 400,000 men) to move west and help slow the Germans down. Many of these units, while having sufficient rifle ammunition and food supplies, have little in the way of artillery, mortar support, machine guns and even grenades in some instances.

    October 14th, 1940- Soviet forces north of Lublin launch a devastating counter-attack which thwarts the German advance and pushes them south back towards Lublin.

    October 15th, 1940- The Soviet counter-attack which was advancing rapidly towards Lublin was stopped in its tracks by a young unknown German panzer commander by the name of Brigadier General Erwin Rommel. Rommel and his panzer division, despite being heavily outnumbered, stabbed at the Soviet forces flanks multiple times and enacted so much damage and destruction that the Soviets believed they were fighting 5 panzer divisions and not just one.

    October 16th, 1940- German forces in Lublin regroup and launch a counter counter-attack north and due to the damage inflicted by Rommel the Soviet forces melt away by the relentless drive by the Germans. When Hitler is informed of the actions north of Lublin he happily states that “Rommel is the ideal commander, he goes straight at the enemy, for the greater good of the Reich.” Rommel will be promoted to Major General by the end of the day.

    October 17th, 1940- German attacks on Soviet forces west of Königsberg shatter the Red Army positions. The siege of Königsberg is thwarted and the Soviet positions south and east of the city are pushed back.

    October 22nd, 1940- The Soviet forces in East Prussia, which were approaching Heilsberg and Ortelsburg, are pushed back to the Pregel River. The German city of Rastenburg in East Prussia is liberated by the German Army.
    In southern Poland the German Army and Air Force are dominating with Lublin completely taken from the Red Army and the territory between Lublin and Lodz completely cleared of Soviet troops with a solid front between these two cities forming. Only in mid-central Poland is the offensive not going according to plan. The German High Command hoped that due to the success to the north and south of Warsaw that the Soviet positions around the former Polish capital would be weak and easy to conquer. They were wrong. Determined Soviet troops and hundreds of tanks halt the German advance from Lodz 70 kilometers outside of Warsaw. Only 20 kilometers had been retaken since Phase II was launched.

    October 24th, 1940- Despite the German Army performing very successful with Phase I and Phase II of Operation Dagger and the Red Army reeling eastwards the German High Command realizes that if they continued they would just push their luck. The supply situation was becoming a problem for some of the more distant units in the field and fuel was running dangerously low despite Soviet caches. And the German offensive had accomplished 2 out of its 3 main objectives:
    1. Reach the city Lublin and take it before the Red army could fortify it.
    2. Relieve Königsberg and push the Soviets eastwards from central East Prussia.
    The third objective was not reached:
    3. Encircle and occupy Warsaw before Soviet reinforcements arrive.

    Hitler is annoyed that Warsaw was not taken but he is more than content with the results of Dagger. Intelligence predicts the Soviets lost 375,000-400,000 soldiers (dead, missing, captured, wounded) while the Germans lost only 90,000 (with many wounded and would return to active duty eventually) (the reason for the huge gap in casualties between the two sides was because of the effective coordination and execution of Operation Dagger and the temporary air superiority of central Poland’s airspace by the Luftwaffe which damaged the Soviet forces significantly and the concentration of German panzers destroyed entire divisions of Soviet soldiers. The Soviets mass penetration doctrine might be similar to German blitzkrieg and the Soviets do mass their tanks at the Schwerpunkt but they do not do it as decisively or to the degree as the Germans do. Not yet they don’t. And the Soviets were generally surprised at the offensive, they did not believe the Germans could or even would launch one. The German training and equipment were also superior which accounts for the higher German kill to death ratio in comparison to the Soviets) (Out of the 4,000 paratroopers, nearly 2,500 were killed in the operation).
    Hitler is also pleased by the many congratulatory messages Germany had received, privately of course, from many neutral nations in Europe, including Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia and even Turkey. If Germany had fallen than these nations surely would have been Stalin’s next conquests.

    October 25th, 1940- Operation Dagger is stated as a tremendous success on Radio Berlin and is considered a great victory against the Bolsheviks. Further advances are canceled so the logistical supply network can be effectively established and the conquests of Dagger can be digested and secured against Soviet counter-attacks.
    In Moscow Stalin is furious. The Germans had destroyed or captured much of the armored force of the Red Army station in central Poland. The initiative had been lost until early 1941 when replacements and reserves would replace the losses the Red Army had suffered. Stalin, however, realizes that the Soviets still control large swathes of German territory (much of the eastern General Government, Warsaw, and eastern third of East Prussia) and that the Germans had exhausted themselves on the offensive, at least temporarily; later that day he was informed that industrial production was increasing and more tanks, planes, rifles and bullets were coming out in large numbers which pleased him. And despite the near 1,000,000 casualties the Soviet Union had suffered in the combat in Poland it still had tens of millions to recruit upon. With both sides exhausted there will few if any attacks along the border, at least on the ground. Stalin will wait. The longer the wait, the more the Soviet factories create and the larger the Red Army and Red Air Force become.
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  5. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 5: Poseidon

    October 28th, 1940- Due to temporary stalemate in the east (both sides are offensively exhausted until early 1941 at the earliest) the German High Command begins to reinforce its position in Sweden. Two German infantry divisions, plus a few more fighter squadrons, are sent to Sweden to reinforce the Gustaf Line.

    October 30th, 1940- Through secret negotiations Norway enters into an economic pact with Germany with a mutual defensive pact proposed but not accepted. Germany wants naval base rights in Norway for its U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic against the French and British fleets. The Norwegians just want Axis support in the case of Soviet aggression. But, for now, both sides agree to an economic agreement that benefits both sides.

    November 2nd, 1940- Through British intelligence agents in the Norwegian government the Entente learn of the secret negotiations between Norway and Germany. Alarmed that Norway might join the Axis, like Sweden did earlier that year, the Entente expedites the preparation of Operation Poseidon.

    November 4th, 1940- Axis forces in northern Sweden begin to assemble an attack into Soviet controlled Sweden. The Soviets had bled themselves dry trying to break through the Gustaf Line and the Germans believe a minor offensive would offset the Soviet positions and possibly intimidate the Norwegians into joining the Axis. This offensive will take a couple of months to prepare due to the worsening weather and the secondary status of the Swedish campaign.

    November 5th, 1940- The up-gunned Panzer III (went from a 37mm cannon to a 50mm cannon) is arriving to German panzer divisions in Poland in large numbers. The modified Panzer IV (from an anti-personnel 75mm cannon to an anti-tank 75mm cannon) is being field tested in eastern Germany and will be mass produced within a month or two.

    November 7th, 1940- A large Soviet bomber formation, consisting of 600 bombers and almost 700 fighters flies from Warsaw to Poznan. The Germans scramble over 850 fighters to stop the bomber force before it reaches Poznan.
    After almost five hours of constant air combat the Soviets lose over 400 planes to the Germans 162 but the result of the high losses and the low damage causes Stalin to reconsider the bombing raids into German territory. For now, he decides, only bombings and raids on or near the front lines to deter and distract the Germans as he assembles an offensive that he believes will knock Germany out of Poland.

    November 11th, 1940- The Stavka has finalized the operational details for the two new offensive operations that will be launched against the Germans. Operation Hammer will be the first attack and will focus on pushing the Germans farther west from Warsaw and to retake Lublin while Operation Sickle will push towards Krakow and Königsberg. The operations main objectives are to take Königsberg, Krakow, Lublin, Lodz, and Poznan and secondary objectives include Danzig and all of Slovakia. The Red Army is assembling four million men for this operation. These men are the experienced soldiers of Operation Red Dawn but these soldiers only number a quarter of the assembling Red Army force, the other three million are mainly new recruits or fresh divisions pulled from elsewhere in the Soviet Union. Operation Hammer (the first operation) will be launched on March 1st, 1941. Operation Sickle will be launched when most of Hammer’s objectives have been met.

    November 13th, 1940- Soviet production of the T-34 begins to increase substantially due to the success of the T-34 and the lack of success of other Soviet tanks against the Germans. KV-1 production is also increased but not on the scale of the T-34.

    November 18th, 1940- In the capital of Hungary, Budapest, German and Hungarian diplomats begin serious talks of Hungary joining the Axis Powers. While the talks go smoothly, and German money and military advisors begin arriving in Hungary to help modernize the Hungarian industry and military, the Hungarians are hesitant in joining the Axis. The Soviets still control parts of central Poland and most of eastern Poland and even some German territory (eastern East Prussia) and the Soviets control the Polish border that borders northern Hungary (land taken away from Czechoslovakia in 1939). The Hungarians need some more German victories to convince them joining the Axis is worthwhile.

    November 19th, 1940- German High Command finishes the operational details for its new offensive, codenamed Talon. Operation Talon will be much more limited in scope compared to the Soviets offensives and will focus the German Army to surround and capture Warsaw with a follow up offensive drive towards Bialystok. Secondary objectives are: To push the Soviets completely out of East Prussia and, if possible, to advance on towards Vilnius (capital of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic). German intelligence agencies of the Wehrmacht, the SS and the Gestapo begin smuggling in weapons, supplies and explosives to resistant groups in the Baltic States and Finland via the Baltic Sea. (The Baltic States were forced to become Soviet Socialist Republics and Finland is under military occupation).
    These groups, once properly armed, will help disrupt the Soviet supply line and communications behind the frontlines. Some weapons and supplies are given to anti-Communist/fascist Ukrainians but this is much more difficult due to lack of contact and the tight control the NKVD/Red Army maintains over the border between Poland and the Ukraine.
    The starting date of the German offensive is March 6th, 1941.

    November 23rd, 1940- In the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo (Manchuria/northern China) Japanese forces begin final preparations of an offensive into northern China. Chinese forces, Communist and Nationalist, know of the planned offensive but can do little to stop it. But both Chinese factions begin a defense in depth against the Japanese forces arrayed against them. What the Chinese lack in tanks, planes and artillery they make up in the amount of small arms and light machine guns and of course numbers. The Japanese will pay a gruesome toll to advance.
    But the Japanese Imperial Command has other ideas. Orders go out and special weapons are delivered to forward air bases. The Japanese were about to launch a new kind of war in China, one that would be destructive to the human body on the cellular level.

    December 4th, 1940- Over 300 Japanese bombers fly south from Japanese airbases in Manchukuo. Out of these 300 over 200 are normal bombers with incendiary and explosive bombs while the other 100 carry a special type of bomb. The Japanese bombers target Chinese cities, supply lines, and troop formations. Casualties are in the tens of thousands for the Chinese while the Japanese only lose a dozen or so bombers. It is not until hours after the Japanese bombers return to base that reports come in to Chinese commanders, Communist and Nationalist alike, of plague and disease spreading through the cities and villages targeted by the Japanese Air Force.
    The special bombs that the Japanese bombers carried were filled with deadly pathogens, germs and the like. It would take hours, in some cases days, for the local Chinese authorities to realize the problem: contamination of food, water and people. The pathogens kill thousands and leave tens of thousands sick and dying.
    The Japanese are content to wait a few days for the pathogens to spread, causing havoc and fear before the pathogens die out.

    December 9th, 1940- Japan launches its offensive in northern China. Japanese infantry, supported by artillery and the small number of Japanese tanks taking part in the offensive, tear through the first line of Chinese defenses after heavy fighting but after the first line of defense the other lines of defense fall quickly due to these soldiers are mainly sick and/or dying due to the Japanese germ-bombs released 5 days before. Some surrender to the Japanese, some run away to fight another day, others just lay there dying where they are quickly shot by the Japanese and their bodies burned.

    December 12th, 1940- The Japanese advance on all fronts in northern China. Japanese troops had been vaccinated against all the germs used against the Chinese and suffer no casualties, all Chinese bodies that were infected are burned, and those that were sick were shot then burned. The Japanese fighters and bombers dish out death and destruction on refugees leaving the cities causing road blocks and delays for the Chinese forces trying to go north to fight the advancing Japanese.

    December 13th, 1940- President Franklin D. Roosevelt announces on the radio of “Japanese atrocities against the Chinese people” and cuts off all diplomatic relations with the Japanese. He also leads an international protest against the Empire of Japan.

    December 16th, 1940- The international pressure does not affect the Japanese as they continue their germ warfare and ground and air offensive in China with the death toll passing 150,000 since December 5th.
    Roosevelt has other plans in store to limit Japanese expansion in China, but he will have to wait until

    December 20th, 1940- Entente Command is finally ready to launch Operation Poseidon. In Scapa Flow, the Royal Navy’s base in the north of the United Kingdom, a large fleet leaves port. Thirty four destroyers, sixteen cruisers (light and heavy mixed) with two carriers (with full complements of fighters) and three battleships sail and in the middle of the large British fleet are dozens of transport ships carrying supplies, weapons and French and British infantry. Their objective: Norway.

    For months Britain and France have tried to convince Norway to join the Entente and for months they have failed… mostly. The government and the king officially want to stay out of the war but some members of the government and many high ranking military officers realize either the Soviets or the Germans will gobble up Norway. Neutrality will not last for them, they must choose a side and out off all three alliances out there (Axis, Entente, Soviets) the Entente are the only democratic and the most friendly. So some high ranking generals and government officials plan a coup against the government to come to power and invite the Entente in to defend it against the Axis and potentially against the Soviets.
    So as the Entente fleet moves north-east to Norway radio messages are sent out to the pro-Entente faction in Norway to take over the government and ask to be invited into the Entente and allow Entente troops to land in Norway.

    Hans Skaargard yawned. It was late and his shift was about to be over. He was a corporal in the His Majesty the King’s Royal Guard, which was part of the Norwegian Army. He was new in the Guard, only have been in a little over 4 months. Some of the old-timers grumble about the heightened security since the war in the south began. And that war had spread to the east to, to Norway’s cousin nation of Sweden. He was sad about that; he had extended family there, thankfully in Stockholm, away from the fighting.
    In their latest letter they talked about the expansion of the Swedish Army and that there were more German soldiers arriving every day, a depressing thought that. He was just thankful that Norway wasn’t in the war but how long could that last, he thought? All the major powers of Europe were at war and it was spreading. Would Norway one day be in the war?
    He shook his head, best not to think about that. Footsteps echoed through the hallways of the Royal Palace. Ah! His replacement finally, took him long enough. Hmm, that’s strange he thought. That was Haarold; it was a dozen men in normal Army combat gear. Even stranger, one of them was a colonel. Hans stiffened to attention and saluted.
    The colonel returned the salute then brought out his pistol. He pointed it at Hans, “Surrender your weapon, corporal.”
    Knowing he had no choice, Hans surrendered his rifle. “What are you planning to do to His Majesty?”
    “Protect him of course; we are putting him under house arrest, for his protection.”
    “But why?” Hans asked bewildered. “We are the Royal Guard, we protect him.”
    “Of course you do but His Majesty will not go along with our plans, of this we are certain, so now we have to be… unconventional.”
    Two of the soldiers took him into custody and the rest continued down the hall where the King of Norway slept. Two more Royal Guards were there. Hans could hear talking, then gunfire. Two rifle shots and three shots with a pistol in quick succession. Then silence. A few minutes passed. Eventually the colonel came around the corner with the King who was dressed in just some plain clothes. The King looked distraught. Hans was furious at the colonel; his own fellow countrymen had taken the King hostage. And he had done nothing! Shame replaced his anger. He must at least try.
    Hans hit the guard behind him, grabbed his rifle and shot the closest guard standing. He rushed to the King’s side but was gunned down by the colonel’s pistol. As he lay on the floor dying the colonel shook his head, “Damn fool,” and then Hans closed his eyes… forever.

    December 21st, 1940- Pro-Entente factions in the Norwegian government and military launch a coup d’état. It is over within three hours. Pro-Entente forces control all major communication and armament centers. The King, the Prime Minister, and much of Parliament (those that did not support it in the first place) are put under house arrest. A provisional government is formed within an hour and the first order of business was to invite the Entente troops in. Very shortly thousands of British and French troops land at scheduled beach heads; at most they are treated as allies and defenders of Norway, at others they are shot at by anti-provisional government soldiers. But these are few and far between.

    December 23rd, 1940- After two days the Norwegian Provisional Government, with the support of the French and British declare Norway as part of the Entente, the King could not be reached for comment (under house arrest). Only a few hundred people died in the transition of government, mostly French and British troops at beach landings when facing anti-Entente forces.
    In Germany and the rest of the Axis the provisional government is called illegitimate and that the Norwegian people do not have to listen to it (their voted in government had been overturned). Hitler cancels the offensive in northern Sweden and begins moving troops to the western Swedish border. Norwegian fascists and communists begin small riots throughout the country that quickly turn into 3 way battles between fascists, communists and the police. Many Norwegians are shocked at the turn of events and while not supportive of the new Provisional Government they are not actively against it. But support for the Provisional Government is very low due to the nature it came to power.
    Even neutral countries, particularly the U.S., condemn the coup d’état in Norway and some members of the U.S. Congress calls that all armaments being sold to the Entente be stopped. This motion is defeated readily but the motion is there, waiting to be renewed.

    The world is in chaos and the chaos is spreading like a fire. How far will it spread before it is stopped? And what will remain but ashes…
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  6. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    WW2 in Europe (as of December 23rd, 1940)

    Dark Gray- German territory

    Light Gray- German occupied territory

    Orange- Soviet occupied territory

    Red- Soviet territory


    Chapter 6: Nations Afire

    Captain Theodore Hamilton walked down the streets of Bergen, Norway. It had been a little over a day since the landings of French and British troops in western and parts of southern Norway. In some parts the Entente was welcomed as protectors, in others as invaders. The Provisional Government had taken over the Norwegian government and key elements of the military and the pro-Entente faction of the population had sided with the Anglo-French forces… but a little over half of the military did not and most of the population was either part of the ‘Loyalist’ faction which was loyal to the old government and the King or were cautiously neutral. Behind him he heard the clank and roar of tanks rolling past him, he cheered seeing the Matilda Mark IIs and truck after truck of infantry behind them moving east. The Loyalists had fought off and on skirmishes with the Provisional forces and the Provisional Government was screaming for Entente support.
    Planes of the RAF and the French Air Force flew overhead, again, heading east. Hamilton nodded in satisfaction. He had been on the Western Front since the war began and was very unsatisfied with the progress there. Artillery duels, a handful of raids, and a few large bombing runs into Germany and that was it. The bombing runs no one in London or Paris could call a success or failure. The casualty rates that the bombers and fighters suffered would affirm that they were failures.
    But here at least there was no Westwall to deter the British or especially the French. Finally the Entente seemed whole-hearted about the campaign in Norway, at least so far. He checked his wristwatch, much more convenient than a pocket watch, and nodded. His unit would be moving up in the next hour. The sergeants and the lieutenants would round them up. He would finally fight the Germans face to face.

    December 24th, 1940- Thousands of Entente troops continue to land in Norway and scores of Entente fighters and bombers land in western and southern Norway.

    December 28th, 1940- After a week of preparing and establishing a supply line and securing control of western Norway, an offensive in western and Norway Entente forces move east and link up with Provisional Government forces that control southern and central Norway. Norwegian units that have remained loyal to the King, who is still under house arrest by the Provisional Government, move eastward towards the Swedish border where German units begin to cross over to help the Loyalist forces against the Provisional forces but German forces are only a couple of thousand infantry with virtually no armor or artillery support. German aircraft begin arriving from Sweden however.

    December 29th-December 30th, 1940- German forces, headed by a panzer division and two panzergrenadier divisions, cross the Danish border. German transport ships drop infantry and marines near Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, where heavy fighting takes place. The Luftwaffe dominates the skies as in the first hours the German Luftwaffe destroys the Danish Army Air Service planes which were on the ground, unprepared for the onslaught.
    Within 36 hours the Germans have complete control over Denmark. The Germans invaded Denmark for two reasons. 1: To occupy Denmark before the Entente could, this would threaten northern Germany with a possible land invasion of Germany via Denmark. 2: To secure more airfields closer to Norway and also to secure the Baltic Sea more effectively and protect northern Germany from any potential bombers launched from southern Norway.
    The Germans proclaim they invaded Denmark to “protect Danish sovereignty against Western aggression”. The Germans allow the Danish government under King Christian X and Prime Minister Thorvald Stauning to remain in power… but under German supervision and authority.

    January 4th, 1941- Entente and Axis forces clash in south eastern Norway in significant numbers for the first time. The Entente have the armored forces but the Germans have the support of much of the Norwegian population (many call the Provisional Government traitors and about half of the Norwegian military left the Provisional Government and joined the pro-Axis/Loyalist faction and joined the resistance groups against the Provisional Government) and the Germans have more veteran units that make up for their lack of numbers.

    January 7th, 1941- Stalin, on advice from the Stavka, decides to postpone all offensive operations in Sweden for the time being to focus on the upcoming offensives and to take away much of the Swedish campaign’s ground forces to assist in the upcoming campaigns in Poland. Throughout the USSR hundreds of thousands of troops are pulled from Reserves in the Soviet Union, from secondary posts, and the ever increasing soldiers that have been drafted. 30 divisions from the Soviet Far East Army (Mongolia, Tannu Tuva, and Siberia) are also being sent west to eastern Poland via the Trans-Siberian Railroad. (Mongolia and Tannu Tuva are Soviet puppets).
    The supply situation is much better this time around, the Trans-Ural factories are not yet complete but they are nearing completion and have begun to add production output to the factories in western Russia, Byelorussia and the Ukraine. The Soviet offensives in 1940 suffered from severe lack of supplies ranging from spare mechanical parts for tanks and planes to lack of trucks, grenades, and even machine guns. But throughout late 1940 and early 1941 production output had increased significantly as total war production policies had quadrupled production output and more factories had been built and brought online along with the ever increasing productive Trans-Ural factories. So the Soviet forces of 1941 have more combat experience, more munitions, supplies, and better tank forces (T-34/KV-1 are about a 1/6 of the tank force instead of just a very small fraction, the rest are BT-2, BT-5, BT-7 and T-26s) than the Soviet forces of 1940.
    The Red Air Force still uses large amounts of I-15s, I-16s, Yak-1s, a small amount of Mig-1s and the new and improved Mig-3s which are arriving in very small numbers as production for these has barely begun. The Mig-3s and Yak-1s are slowly becoming the dominant fighter planes but as of now are still outnumbered by I-15s and I-16s. Improved models of the Yak-1 are beginning to come to front. Such as the Yak-7 (which is an overall improvement of the Yak-1) and another Soviet fighter is in development which is supposed to be better than the Mig-3 and the Yak-1s/Yak-7s but this is still at least a year away from field testing and mass production. Soviet bomber pilots continue to fly the Su-2 and the Tupolev SB. A more modern bomber with overall general improvements (for the Soviets at least) is beginning to be mass produced but is only available in extremely small numbers as of yet. This is the Pe-2 bomber.

    January 12th, 1941- Neville Chamberlain after months of poor health passed away in London. He had remained Prime Minister, officially, but his health had negated quickly due to his bowel cancer. He is given a state funeral and a famous newsreel shows Princess Elizabeth crying as she set a wreath of flowers on his casket.
    *(The reason Chamberlain lives as long as he does ITTL is the war is not as active therefore stressful on the Western Front. The Low Countries remain neutral and France has not been invaded. So due to less stress and the situation in the war he lives for a few months more and dies while in office. He was on his way to leave the office of Prime Minister but he died before it was finalized).

    January 13th, 1941- Edward Wood, Lord Viscount Halifax, becomes Prime Minister of Britain. He holds the support of the King, the nobility and the upper-class of the British society, the support of the Labour Party and some support from the military. There was only one other person that could have vied for Prime Minister but Winston Churchill who was the runner-up is viewed as “too hot-blooded” and did not have the mold of a Prime Minister. Churchill will remain as First Lord of the Admiralty.

    January 16th, 1941- Entente forces in central Norway begin pushing eastwards towards Loyalist/German defensive lines but the progress is slow.

    January 27th, 1941- German U-boat losses in the North Sea and the East Atlantic are rising due to better, coordinated efforts of British and French navies protecting convoys. Commander of the U-boat Force Admiral Karl Dönitz has a plan to counter this. New doctrine and planning is being finalized and put into effect and the fruits of his labor will develop soon.

    February 2nd, 1941- In China Japan officially declares its offensive a success and begins to clamp down on its newly conquered territories. Northern and Southern China are firmly under Japanese control with the entire eastern coastline under Japanese control except for British holdings such as Hong Kong. Japan does continue to bomb Chinese cities with germ bombs which continue to kill tens of thousands every week.
    In Tokyo the Japanese Imperial Command is taking a keen interest in the much depleted Soviet Far East Army (Siberia, Mongolia, Tannu Tuva). With 30 divisions taken from the Far East the Soviet position, while formidable, is stretched manpower wise and despite the huge increase in Soviet supply and productivity the Far East had been stripped for tanks, planes and supplies for Operation Red Dawn and as of yet had not been replaced. Japanese divisions are moved, quietly, to the Manchurian/Soviet border.

    February 4th, 1941- The threat of the upcoming Soviet offensive is so large that the Hungarian government realizes that if the Soviets knock Germany and Slovakia out of the war then Hungary would be next. In Budapest, Hungary German and Hungarian diplomats hash out the terms of Hungary joining the Axis. While Hungary has not officially joined the Axis they have joined in all but name. The Hungarians and Germans will not announce of the progress of the German-Hungarian relationships to lull the Soviets in a false sense of security.
    When informed of Hungary unofficially joining the Axis alliance Hitler is jubilant. This was key to Operation Talon. Now Talon would have a much better chance to seriously damage the Soviet forces in Poland. Germany begins transporting hundreds of thousands of troops to start building up its forces in preparation for Talon.

    February 7th, 1941- In Italy Mussolini is glad at the progress of the improvements and reforms being initiated throughout the Army, Air Force, and the Navy. While his military is getting stronger every month it was still not strong enough to take on the Entente. He would need another year or so at least. But he can help his German allies against the Soviets. He authorizes another ten divisions to be sent to the Eastern Front. Hitler will put these to good use.

    February 13th, 1941- In the North Sea near southern Norway four German U-boats working in a Rudeltaktik (wolf pack) stalks a British convoy: eight freighters taking supplies to Norway with three destroyers guarding them.
    Using the new Rudeltaktik one U-boat fires torpedoes at one of the destroyers, damaging the destroyer but not enough for it to sink; the remaining two destroyers go after the U-boat that had fired on the British destroyer. As the U-boat led the British destroyers away the other U-boats fire on the convoy ships sinking 5 in less than ten minutes causing the destroyers to reverse course and go back to the remaining 3 freighters. The U-boats sink another freighter and the heavily damaged destroyer. The U-boat that was running away turns around and the 4 U-boat force sink the remainder of the freighters and destroyers. This was the most stunning victory of the Kriegsmarine, specifically the U-boats over the Entente navy. The Rudeltaktik using U-boats (in groups of 3-5) will sink over a hundred freighters/enemy ships in the next week. Both the British and the French are forced to attach more destroyers, frigates and even a British carrier for the larger convoys.
    The reason the Germans did so well in this ambush was the use of 4 U-boats in one attack, the Germans had not done this before and the British were not expecting it, the destroyers chased after the single U-boat at the beginning believing it to be the only U-boat. And these U-boat crews were all veterans, not fresh recruits. The next couple of weeks will be a ‘Happy Time’ for the Kriegsmarine for the first time since the British and French started escort convoys. But this ‘Happy Time’ will not last long, the French, and especially the Royal (British), Navy are fast learners.
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  7. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 7: Clash of the Titans

    February 16th, 1941- German Panzer IVs, the upgraded version with the anti-panzer 75mm cannon, begin arriving in large amounts to German panzer division in central Poland and Hungary. The ones arriving in Hungary arrive by night and secretly. The Germans are forming a large Army Group in Hungary. The Soviets, through their intelligence network, detect mass movement in Hungary and step up defenses on the Soviet controlled Polish-Hungary border but these are mainly just raw infantry divisions with little armor and artillery support as they just assume it is Hungary readying their military with little if any help from the Germans.

    February 27th, 1941- The Kriegsmarine ‘Happy Time’ is considered over as the Entente adapt to the new German Rudeltaktik. German U-boats continue to prowl the East/North Atlantic and the North Sea but must carefully select their targets.

    February 28th, 1941- In Soviet controlled parts of Poland the Soviets begin mobilizing for their offensive. German intelligence picks this up and raises their readiness status for their forces in Poland.

    March 1st, 1941- The Soviets launch Operation Hammer:
    Over 3.5 million Soviet soldiers with over 6,000 tanks move west after a six hour bombardment. Facing the Soviets are 1.5 million Axis soldiers, 1.2 million are German, and the rest are Slovakian, Italian and Fascist volunteers from throughout the world (also 50,000 of these are anti-communist/fascist Polish recruits who are deemed Aryan/sub-Aryan and will be granted citizenship in the German Reich after the war is over. These Poles are very loyal to their new masters and what they lack in heavy equipment they more than make up in spirit and determination). The Germans have 2,000 panzers (most are older version of the Panzer III but with a healthy amount of the up-gunned 50mm IIIs and older and newer version of the Panzer IV.
    The Soviets advance due to the sheer amount of superior numbers. Operation Hammer is going smoothly with higher than expected casualties but within allowed range of losses. German 88s, which are mainly anti-air cannons, are very effective against Red Army tanks, even the T-34 and the KV-1.
    Luftwaffe and Red Air Force fight in numbers not yet seen on the Eastern Front with hundreds destroyed on the first day. Within three hours of the massive Soviet bombardment Hitler authorizes the preparation for Talon. The actual operation will be launched when it is deemed the Soviets have over-extended themselves. Between now and the launch of Talon German, along with other Axis forces, make a successful defensive withdrawal, causing high casualties for the enemy and moving west to prepared positions and fighting long enough to hurt the enemy significantly then moving west to more defensive systems.

    March 3rd, 1941- The Soviet advances in East Prussia are minimal but steady. The Nazi Gau (regional Party leader) of Königsberg authorizes the recruitment of local citizens for damage control and to assist the Wehrmacht whenever and whichever way possible. German civilians begin digging extensive trenches and fortifications around the German city which were already extensive.

    March 6th, 1941- 5 days after the Soviet offensive commenced the Soviets have made adequate gains in southern central Poland. The German defenses between Lodz and Lublin have taken a heavy beating and even though the defense is organized and executed efficiently the sheer weight of the Soviet forces are pushing the Germans back, albeit bloody meter by bloody meter.

    March 8th, 1941- Entente troops in Norway, using modern tank doctrine and coordination between planes and ground forces, are able to break through Loyalist/German lines. Due to the stalemate on the Gustaf Line in northern Sweden (not enough Soviet troops to break through) two Swedish divisions and a hastily assembled German panzergrenadier division are sent to Norway.

    March 12th, 1941- Operation Sickle is launched. It is a continuation of Hammer and the Sickle forces add another million and a half of troops with another 1500 tanks. The Sickle contingents will extend Soviet control on the flanks of their offensive and to solidify positions around Krakow and central Poland.

    March 14th, 1941- German forces begin the pre-Talon phase of the operation. German units in central Poland are pulled back to the Danzig Line as quietly and quickly as possible. Since the offensive has started the Soviets had advanced to the outskirts of Königsberg and are in the process of encircling it like they did the previous year where they surrounded it on the south, east and west sides; The Soviet advance in mid central Poland is a near disaster with Red Army units only 30 kilometers or so west of their pre-offensive positions. The situation in southern central Poland is faring much better. Lublin has been retaken (the Germans pulled out before the city was encircled), Lviv (which was formerly part of eastern Poland but was annexed into the Ukrainian SSR, and the only significant city that was technically a Soviet city due to the Soviet annexation of eastern Poland that had been occupied by German soldiers towards the end of Dagger) had been liberated. Soviet forces were approaching Lodz and Kielce was on the verge of falling to the Soviets. Stavka predicted that if Kielce fell than Krakow would follow soon after. Stalin was feeling confident, especially with reports of entire German army groups moving westward towards the Danzig Line. Stalin and Stavka do not realize this is all part of the Germans plan.

    March 17th, 1941- Kielce, after a bloody tank and street to street battle, falls to the advancing Red Army. The Red Air Force, which had not attained air superiority as hoped, continues to contest for control of the skies.

    March 18th, 1941- The Axis reinforcements in eastern Norway slow down and eventually stop the Entente offensive. Both sides begin digging in. The Entente unwilling to spend the blood necessary to force the Axis out of the small sliver of Norway they still control. The Axis just cannot commit the men and material to launch an offensive against the British and French.

    March 20th, 1941- Lodz falls to the Soviets but German soldiers continue to assist Polish partisans that plague Soviet supply lines and secondary positions.

    March 24th, 1941- Königsberg is surrounded except for the ports north of the city. The Second Siege of Königsberg begins.

    March 26th, 1941- Soviet troops enter extreme artillery range of Krakow but stiff German defenses stall the Red Army before they could get any closer. Due to the lack of manned defenses between Lodz and the Danzig Line (this is because of the Germans pulling almost all of their troops to the Danzig Line to shorten their supply lines and to overextend the Soviets.

    April 2nd, 1941- Germans forces have completely abandoned central Poland except for the area around Krakow. The Danzig Line is all that stands between the Soviets and the German Reich (Germany, Austria, Bohemia and Moravia, and the western third of Poland which had been annexed into the Reich.)

    April 4th, 1941- Red Army troops, led by tanks and armored vehicles, enter north eastern Slovakia. German and Slovakian forces slow and eventually stop the advancing Bolsheviks. Stalin is content with stopping the offensive here to focus on punching through the Danzig Line.

    April 8th, 1941- Soviet forces, after a heavy artillery barrage and a concentrated armor thrust pierce the Danzig Line in three places suffering immense casualties.

    April 17th, 1941- Soviet forces enter the outskirts of Poznan but German defense is fanatical and the Soviets are forced to stop to assemble a force large and powerful enough to take the city.
    In Moscow Stalin and the Stavka are ecstatic. Poznan had been reached, the siege around Königsberg is slowly closing in on the city but the German defenses are still too strong for the Red Army to break through. All of central (General Government) Poland is in Soviet hands except for Krakow area. Also part of Slovakia had been taken but no plans for an advance there is planned.
    Reports of Hungary mobilizing its military and of increased German-Hungarian cooperation raises little alarm in Moscow but General Zhukov has pushed for increased defense forces on the Soviet-Hungarian. Stalin agrees there should be a precaution but details no significant tank forces only infantry and some light artillery. It is the opinion of Marshal Timoshenko that the Hungarians would not dare attack as the USSR appeared to be winning the war.
    Stalin, wary of another operation like Dagger, orders large amounts of infantry and thousands of tanks to face the German forces near Krakow (where Dagger was launched from last year).

    April 20th, 1941- Hitler’s 52nd birthday party is Berlin is subdued. Many of the Germans there did not know of the operational details of Talon or know of the operation at all. The ones that did were worried. This was Germany’s last chance. If Talon succeeded it might change the course of the war. If it failed… National Socialist Germany would be destroyed by Bolshevistic- Communism. This was an anathema to Germany. It must not happen.

    April 23rdth, 1941- The Soviets had taken Lodz, Lviv, Lublin, neared Krakow, surrounded Königsberg and were on the outskirts of Poznan. Soviet bombers and fighters still did not dominate the sky but were heavily concentrated in western Poland. The Soviets had suffered heavily advancing west. Out of the combined 5 million troops and 7500 tanks (Hammer and Sickle components) the Red Army had lost almost 600,000 troops and 800 tanks (mainly older Soviet models, not a large amount of T-34s or KV-1s) to advance to the positions they held now. (Most of the tank losses were by German panzers that held adequate defensible positions and caused heavy casualties on the Red Army tank divisions. Also German 88s were very effective destroying Soviet tanks.) The Axis had lost about 130,000 (100,000 German) (some of these will return as they were just wounded not killed) and about 300 panzers (most were Panzer IIs, and old version of the III).

    April 24th, 1941- A top-secret communiqué from Berlin to Budapest gives the go ahead for Operation Talon. Field Marshal von Manstein, who was in north eastern Hungary, just south of the Hungarian-Soviet border, will command the operation (right after Dagger over a score of Generals in the Luftwaffe and the Heer were promoted to Field Marshal). Operation Talon was the brainchild of Hitler with large amounts of insight and edits from the General Staff and the top field officers of the Wehrmacht. It was ambitious, very, very ambitious but if it succeeded it may save Germany from the Red Hordes of Communism. Von Manstein would lead Phase 1 of the operation while von Rundstedt and von Bock would lead Phase II and III respectively.
    He looked at Colonel-General Heinz Guderian who sat in the chair across von Manstein’s desk. He read the orders the communiqué entailed to the unofficial but de facto leader of Germany’s panzer forces. Guderian listened attentively and when von Manstein finished Guderian nodded. “So it begins.”
    “Correct, Heinz. Assemble the Fourth Panzer Army, we launch Talon at dawn.”
    Guderian stood up, saluted his commanding officer and left von Manstein’s headquarters and preceded to the Army encampment just outside of the small town von Manstein had his headquarters. While the Kübelwagen drove through the camp Guderian saw thousands of German soldiers readying themselves, checking equipment, eating, catching some sleep or praying. Further from the camp, surrounded by ever vigilant guards, were the panzers. Hundreds of them at this camp alone, only part of the Fourth Panzer Army. The up-gunned 50mm Panzer IIIs with their underpowered Panzer III brothers with the 37mm were about a third of the assembled panzers. Most were the Panzer IV and almost all of those were the 75mm anti-panzer cannon equipped panzer, not the anti-infantry one which was quickly being replaced by the newer and much improved model.
    Guderian spent the rest of the night finalizing operational reports and details. It was not until 4:00 a.m. that left his command tent and put himself in his armored car that would allow him to keep up with the leading elements of his panzers. The next 90 minutes seemed to crawl. At precisely 5:30 artillery all along the border between Hungary and the Soviet Union (USSR annexed eastern Poland) opened fire onto known Soviet positions. The barrage consisted of hundreds of German 105s and almost the entire artillery contingent of the Hungarian Army. German fighters, dive bombers and bombers flew overhead to hit Soviet supply depots and railroad junctions.
    On 6:00 a.m. on the dot German panzers with the accompanying infantry, which rode in trucks and halftracks, moved north. Within twenty minutes German and Soviet troops exchanged fire but the Red Army units here were raw and inexperienced, not exactly front-line units, were defeated easily.
    Guderian smiled. The operation was off to a good start. Hopefully it would continue.

    State of the War: mid 1941

    State of the war on the eve of Operation Talon:

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  8. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 8: Talon Strikes Deep

    Elrich Dorff, recently promoted to corporal, ran in a hunched position to the next place of cover. Beside him hundreds of German soldiers ran forward, most of them veterans of the past year. Panzers, the efficient III and the deadly new anti-panzer 75mm armed IVs moved forward shattering Soviet lines and leaving the remnants to the infantry.
    Overhead hundreds of Luftwaffe planes: bombers, dive-bombers, and fighters dropping destruction upon the Bolsheviks. Dorff had fought the Soviets since they had betrayed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and had fought in Warsaw when the Wehrmacht was retreating west and in Lodz and had been in Dagger. All those paled to this. Operation Talon was Dagger on a much larger scale.
    A halftrack carrying soldiers in Feldgrau moved by with a Soviet machinegun firing at it, you could tell which guns were which by the way they sounded. German machine guns were faster, some said it was like paper being ripped in half and the Soviet gun was slower. The German MG-34 was also much easier to carry than the Soviet machinegun which made supporting advancing soldiers much easier.
    Dorff grabbed a grenade out of a satchel bag, prepped it and threw it at the Soviet machine gun. A few seconds later it exploded, shredding the two Red Army soldiers. A soldier in the halftrack waved in thanks. Dorff returned it.
    He looked at the men of his squad, the sergeant had died earlier by one of the many bullets flying through the air. “Come on men, if we keep pushing we will break the Ivan’s back.” Dorff and his men ran over to the next piece of cover to continue the battle.

    April 25th, 1941- Germany launches Operation Talon. Phase I led by Field Marshal von Manstein launches from Hungary (within an hour of the operation Hungary publicly joins the Axis and declares war on the USSR) and German armored thrusts pierce Soviet lines and move north by north west.
    Phase I of Talon consists of 80 German divisions (800,000 men), with over 900 panzers (mainly the upgraded Panzer III and almost all of the upgraded Panzer IVs) along with 300,000 Hungarian and Italian troops with light artillery elements and some armored units which act mainly as secondary support.
    The offensive catches Stalin and Stavka off guard. They had been expecting an offensive from Krakow not Hungary. The units on the Hungarian border were second line units, either fresh/raw troops or battle weary troops on R&R. Units from central Poland and even from western Poland are pulled to fight the German offensive but these will take time and Stalin refuses to pull troops back to better defensive positions. Most of the tank forces will remain in western Poland to watch out for a German offensive there as Stalin believes an offensive from around Krakow as the biggest threat. Luftwaffe units operating out of northern Hungary were able to surprise local Red Air Force squadrons and destroyed most of them on the ground. The Luftwaffe will dominate south-central Poland until Soviet fighter squadrons can transfer over.
    The German infantry, using the new Panzerfaust (armor fist) anti-panzer weapon that is fresh off the production line, are able to contest and even defeat older model Soviet armor easily. The T-34 and the KV-1 take multiple shots from a Panzerfaust even when shot on the side where the armor is thinner but the weapon is lightweight and cheap so replacements are plentiful. German soldiers, in areas without panzer support, are able to take out scores of Soviet tanks. A new German variant of the Stuka is used for the first time with great results. The 37mm cannon armed panzer-busting Stuka is annihilating Soviet mobile units. It is destructive to all forms of Soviet tanks and motor vehicles. The Soviets might outnumber the Germans but the Germans have more panzers in the area, better anti-panzer weapons and the individual German soldier is on average much better.

    April 28th, 1941- General Ernst Udet reports to Berlin that the Air Shield Program is about 30% complete. Construction of the radar installations plus interceptor squadrons assigned to each one is going along smoothly. Full completion is predicted to be early 1942 at current construction. As of now the Westwall is almost completely covered by radar but the rest of Germany has virtually no radar coverage yet.

    April 30th, 1941- Reports of the progress of the German radar program alarm the British Bomber Command. Any future raids in Germany which was already costly will begin becoming more deadly. Pleas from frontline commanders on the French-German border reach Entente Command, asking, pleading, begging for large scale bombing on the Westwall to hamper/destroy as many installations as possible and to hurt the Germans. Entente fighter defense doctrine and training has improved significantly and Entente bomber crews have become much more skilled but Entente Command is not willing to lose any more pilots and planes over Germany. The Entente, other than the campaign in Norway, will do very little for a while. Better to let the Fritz and the Ivan fight each other to near death allowing the French and British to scoop up the pieces (Many in Britain and France view the Soviet Union as more evil than Nazi Germany and are content with the Germans and the Soviets to fight each other to the point to where the Germans will have to strip even more of their forces from the Westwall which will allow the French and the British to invade Germany only having to fight young boys and old men with older equipment. That is the hope anyway).

    May 2nd, 1941- After a week forward German units have taken Lviv and Lublin from the Soviets who had not prepared defenses. The part of eastern Slovakia that had been taken by the Soviets is liberated but the Soviets have firm defenses near the Krakow area and that is where nearly half of their armored forces are so no major move is made to push them out. The Soviets believe this is because they are too strong there, in reality it is all part of the Germans plan.

    May 4th, 1941- President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Halifax meet while Halifax is on a state visit to Washington D.C. While publicly both appear friendly the reality is Roosevelt cannot stand Halifax. Roosevelt wants Halifax to take a more aggressive stance in the war. The campaign in Norway is widely unpopular with the death toll of Entente forces reaching 40,000 (most of these are from the Entente offensive that tried to push Loyalist/German/Swedish out of Norway but a good quarter of these deaths are from partisans and guerrilla action from Norwegian civilians that are loyal to the King who still remains under house arrest by the Provisional Government), the lack of action in France and the rising amount of pro-fascist sentiment in France (the war is unpopular in Britain and especially France and France is having large scale riots and right wing/fascist parties like the Action française are having parades, rallies and speeches. The topic of their speeches is anti-Communism and how “Germany is the bulwark against Bolshevism and must be assisted in their War of Race and Ideology.” These rallies are being attended by thousands and are ever growing. Leftist parties, Communist/Socialist and Liberal fight in the streets of major French cities against the Rightist parties). Halifax and Roosevelt argue for hours. Halifax despite being the Head of Government of a world power at war he is more concerned with keeping the British Empire stable and the war contained to Europe with a minimum of British casualties. It is the opinion of Roosevelt that while Halifax might be a good leader for Britain in times of peace, in times of war he is highly ineffective.

    May 5th, 1941- Phase II of Talon is launched. Field Marshal von Rundstedt with 350,000 men and about 400 panzers break through the thinly held lines around Königsberg and quickly move south retaking much of central East Prussia (tens of thousands of men that were besieging the German city were pulled south to fight the bulging German offensive there, these men are to be used as a stop gap measure against the offensive from Hungary and these troops were reserve troops and reinforcements would be on their way to Königsberg, this is why von Rundstedt is able to break through the Red Army lines).

    May 8th, 1941- German elements from Danzig move eastward and the Soviet forces there, assailed from both the west and east shatter and the German forces link up and move south slowly.

    May 9th, 1941- German forces from Phase I continue to advance quickly. Soviet commanders are screaming for reinforcements and are receiving much in the ways of infantry but not much in the terms of armor. Some leading elements of the German offensive are out running their supply line and reinforcements.

    May 11th, 1941- Three divisions of German infantry and scores of panzers are cut off and surrounded by Soviet forces just south of Lodz. The encircled Germans scream for relief but relief cannot break through the Soviet ring of iron. These troops had far outpaced reinforcements and supplies and the Red Army took advantage of it.

    In eastern Manchuria (Manchukuo) Lieutenant General Tomoyuki Yamashita looked across the horizon, east towards the Soviet Union. The Soviet city of Vladivostok, the key to the Soviet Far East, was ripe for the taking. The Soviets had stripped the Far East bare of troops, tanks and planes to fight the Germans. They are weak here, he thought. The Soviets were so worried of the Germans and so confident of the superiority of the Red Army and Red Air Force due to the Battle of Khalkhin Gol that the white men of the Soviet Union did not consider the Empire a threat. He chuckled, the Empire was ready. Operations in China, other than poison gas and germ warfare bombing to kill and intimidate the Chinese, had been put on hold. The Kwantung Army consisted of almost 700,000 men with over 800 planes of the Army Air Service and 300 Type 97 Chi-Ha tanks. The Navy would also take part in this endeavor. Admiral Yamamoto had enough pull to convince the Navy that helping the Army attack the Soviets would be beneficial to the Empire and the Emperor. The Soviet Far East Fleet was open for attack and the Naval Air Service planes would also decimate the Red Air Force contingents on the coast.
    The wind was rippling the Japanese flag that he stood beside. He looked at it and he was proud The Empire would rise and dominate the Pacific, which time was approaching fast. War was coming. The Empire was ready, the resources of Siberia were too vast to ignore. He continued to look eastwards… towards the rising sun.

    May 15th, 1941- The Japanese Imperial Command finalizes their offensive operations against the Soviet Far East,code named White Tiger . There is no set date as of yet, the Japanese will wait and see how the war between the Soviets and Germans go. If the Germans show signs of winning the Japanese will launch their attack. If the Germans appear to be losing the Japanese will refrain from attacking and decide on another course of action.

    May 18th, 1941- German forces approach Kielce. Soviet troops are transferred from western Poland to face this threat but this weakens the Soviet defenses in western Poland.

    May 19th, 1941- After eight days of fierce combat the surrounded German soldiers are forced to surrender. Out of the 30,000 German soldiers and about 70 panzers only 6500 soldiers and 8 panzers are the only ones left to surrender.

    May 22nd, 1941- Kielce falls to German armored units. Marshal Timoshenko, commander of all Soviet forces in the war against Germany, petitions Stalin to pull back to better defensive lines near Warsaw. Stalin sends back a heated message refusing Timoshenko to move one soldier away from the frontlines. Stalin is committed to holding the territory Hammer and Sickle acquired, no matter the cost.

    June 3rd, 1941- Phase III is launched. 1 million men and 1200 panzers drive east from just west of Poznan. The German forces while still heavily outnumbered do have better anti-panzer weaponry and better tactics with a much closer supply chain.

    June 4th, 1941- Soviet infantry and tanks near Poznan are crushed by the advancing Germans. The Germans are advancing on this front due to massive use of the Panzerfaust which is destroying many tanks along with the 37mm armed Stukas.

    Marshal of the Soviet Union Semyon Timoshenko looked at the reports before him. He rubbed his eyes, sleeping as of late was short and fitful. The reports were not good. The Germans had captured Lviv, Lublin, and Kielce, broke the siege of Königsberg and were approaching Warsaw and Lodz. If any of these cities fell the entire Soviet position in Poland would rupture. There was plenty of infantry and artillery in these places but almost all the tanks were in western Poland, particularly around Krakow. If Lodz or Warsaw fell then all the Soviet troops near Krakow would be pocketed and the best tank and infantry divisions of the USSR would be trapped between the jaws of the German war machine. All the petitions to Stalin to withdraw went either unanswered or a stern no was the only reply.
    The Germans did not have the numbers the Soviets did but they had the tactics, the leadership (the purges had ruined the officer corps), the ferocity and the will to fight. Morale was dangerously low with tens of thousands that had deserted or in some cases rebelled but those had been put down quickly before the news spread. The NKVD had begun shooting hundreds of suspected defeatists to stop any thought of retreat. If the German advance forces of the southern prong (Phase I via Hungary) combined forces with the slower advancing northern prong (Phase II via Königsberg) in central Poland then anything west of that location would be trapped and probably destroyed by the Germans, and with it the chances of a Soviet victory for years.
    Timoshenko opened a drawer at his desk and inside was a bottle of vodka and a Tokarev pistol. He could drink himself to death or shoot himself. Let some other do his job. Zhukov might be able to, if anyone can he could. But no, not yet. He closed the drawer and picked up the phone on his desk. Timoshenko began issuing orders for Soviet forces to move eastwards, towards Warsaw, to abandon everything west of the Vistula with Warsaw and Brest to become fortresses against the German tide. If enough men and tanks, especially tanks, made it then if worse comes to worse the Soviets would lose most if not all of Poland but the USSR itself would remain safe if an effective defense with troops and armor was erected but if the Soviet Union lost those tank and infantry forces there would not be much to stop the Axis from taking the Baltics and large stretches of Belarussia and possibly the western half of the Ukraine. Timoshenko defied Stalin and there would be consequences, he only hoped that he had done it in time.

    June 7th, 1941- Marshal Semyon Timoshenko, against Stalin’s orders, has authorized large scale retreat from western Poland. Over 3 million men and 3500 tanks are ordered out of western Poland. Whether they can escape to Warsaw or eastern Poland is very much in doubt. Within hours orders go out negating Timoshenko’s orders but General Konev supports the withdrawal orders and the Soviet troops in western Poland, once the order was given to withdrawal it would be near impossible to stop, like a flood.

    June 8th, 1941- Marshal Timoshenko and General Konev are arrested by the NKVD and flown to Moscow later that day to answer for their ‘crimes.’ Konev was arrested due to him being the Polish Theater commander and making no move to contradict Timoshenko’s orders despite that he knew they went against Stalin’s orders. General Vatutin, commander of the Baltic Theater is not arrested as his troops in East Prussia have not been forced to retreat. It was a close thing though. Stalin is unhappy with how his generals are running the war. He is contemplating another large scale purge near the scale of the Great Purge of 1936 once the frontline stabilizes. He notifies Beria to begin collecting information, false or otherwise, on many of the officer corps so their potential trials can be legitimized.
    General Zhukov who has all but finished the Army Reformation program is promoted to Marshal and sent west to be overall commander of the flailing Soviet forces in Poland and the Baltic (he becomes overall commander of the entire war against Germany and assumes personal command in Poland).

    June 9th, 1941- The German High Command is worried. The whole point of Talon was to trap the Soviets in western Poland and destroy systematically. The General Staff were confident that Timoshenko would follow Stalin’s orders to the letter. New orders go out. German armored elements of both Phases I and II are ordered to expedite their movement towards each other. Panzer and infantry reserves are rushed forward to protect the flanks of the two Phases and to ensure they continue to drive forward.
    German bombers rain destruction on retreating Soviet columns and heavily damage roads, railroads and supply caches making entire divisions unable to retreat and forcing them to stand their ground against the oncoming Germans. The Luftwaffe and the Red Air Force continue to fight for air supremacy over Poland and is still very much in the balance. The Soviets are taking more casualties but the Soviets have more planes to replace their losses.
    Marshal Zhukov arrives in Brest and realizes that there could be no reversing of Timoshenko’s order, it was too late, and hundreds of thousands of men and their equipment were fleeing east trying to escape the advancing Germans. Zhukov informs Stalin of the situation and that since the withdrawal has started it cannot be stopped and must be carried as efficiently as possible. Stalin agrees but informs Zhukov he wants a counter-offensive as soon as possible. Zhukov realizes that will be nearly impossible but promises Stalin he will launch one when the opportunity arrives (Zhukov is just saying this to please Stalin, nothing else).

    June 10th, 1941- Secret negotiations with Bulgaria are rapidly improving as German victory after German victory reached the capital city Sofia. Bulgaria is on the verge of joining the Axis but needs some more victories by the Germans to ensure this. Romania is also leaning heavily to the Axis but will not join due to Romania bordering the USSR. Turkey, a long time rival of Russia and more recently the Soviet Union, takes a special interest in the outcome of the war. Prime Minister Mustafa İsmet İnönü wants to keep Turkey out of the war but militarism and nationalism is on the rise. Turkey will not join the Axis but it will remain friendly towards it. The Turkish Armed Forces will also be modernized (the Turkish military is severely behind and İnönü states that the modernization if to secure the safety of Turkey and its people.

    June 12th, 1941- In a high level meeting in Rome Mussolini tells his top commanders of the Navy, Air Force, and Army that he wants to finally enter the war on a much bigger scale. The reforms, expansion and modernization of the Italian military are not quite completed but are close enough for Mussolini to contemplate an offensive against the Entente.
    Mussolini wants to establish Italian hegemony over the Mediterranean. The only question was where to strike first. France was out of the question, the Maginot Line might not be as strong where Italy bordered it as it was against the Germans but it was still formidable. Italian Libya in North Africa was surrounded by the French to the west and the British to the east. Yugoslavia was an obvious choice but it could be taken once more difficult objectives had been accomplished first. Greece was not an official ally of the Entente but leaned heavily towards it and Mussolini saw Greece as nothing more than a potential addition to the Kingdom of Italy. Malta… Malta would be a problem he knew. The British controlled island in the Mediterranean would interfere with all movements by sea between Sicily and Libya. Mussolini knew that if he was to have any chance of successfully fighting the Entente on his own in the Balkans and North Africa (Germany is too heavily committed against the Soviet Union to contribute little if at all) Italy must strike hard and fast in strategic areas before Entente reinforcements arrive.
    Mussolini wants an offensive, codenamed Caesar, to be ready by October. The Italian High Command quickly gets to work.

    June 13th, 1941- Timoshenko and Konev, after a trial, are condemned and accused of treason, cowardice, and insubordination just to top of the list. Both men will be killed by an NKVD firing squad by the end of the day and their bodies thrown into a mass grave. Morale in the Red Army and to a lesser extent the Red Air Force is plummeting like a rock.

    June 16th, 1941- German forces of Phases I and II finally link up in the city of Lodz. The Soviets were able to get a million and a half infantry out but over 2500 tanks and three million troops are trapped in the large pocket in what will quickly be called the Krakow Pocket (the Soviets had reached the outskirts of the city when Phase I launched and the Germans have made no move to push them out as of yet, their focus had been elsewhere).

    June 19th, 1941- The German defenses around the Krakow Pocket but not as strong as the German High Command believes. Zhukov orders the Soviets trapped there to break out. The Red army tanks only have enough fuel for one last ditch attempt.

    June 21st, 1941- Soviet forces in the Krakow Pocket attempt to break out. They are driving north east to break the defenses there and rush to Soviet territory as quick as possible. The tanks and any troops that can match pace with the armored forces will go between Kielce and Lublin. The Germans know they must not let any significant forces escape the Pocket.
    The Soviets at first make solid gains in the early hours of the breakout but German dive bombers wreak havoc over the long columns of Soviet tanks and infantry. German armored forces begin attacking the flanks of the Soviets but the Soviets are holding, albeit barely. Zhukov sends armored reserves from Warsaw to try and link up with the Soviets that are trying to break out. Getting those soldiers and tanks out is the number one priority of the Soviet Marshal.

    June 24th, 1941- After three days of advancing and with the Zhukov’s counter-attack from Warsaw coming as a shock the German lines between Warsaw and south east of Lodz are broken and Soviet men and armor begin flooding north east towards Warsaw. The Krakow Pocket had been relieved but this would not last. Already German panzer divisions and infantry are attempting to destroy the gap connecting the two Soviet forces.

    June 25th, 1941- German infantry, spearheaded by panzers led by Guderian, are able to pierce the sliver of territory connecting the two Soviet armies and a half dozen minor attack all along the German-Soviet front has forced Zhukov to stop his counter-attack. Before the gap had been closed 300,000 men and 400 tanks were able to escape to the Soviet lines. But these tanks that do make it are suffering from lack of maintenance and lack of ammunition and fuel. The Red Army men fare no better, most of their heavy equipment was left in the Krakow Pocket and are heavily demoralized and many do not even have rifles (they dropped them to run faster to reach Soviet territory). The remaining troops in the Krakow Pocket are facing imminent destruction as the lack of fuel and ammunition hurts their already brittle defenses. The surviving Soviets in the Krakow Pocket number two million with only 1300 tanks left but many of these are breaking down and there is too little fuel left to launch another breakout attempt. Stalin orders the generals in the Krakow Pocket not to surrender and fight to the death to buy time for Zhukov to make an effective defense and to leave the Germans vulnerable to any potential counter-attack.

    July 1st, 1941- After days of valiant resistance the commanders of the Krakow Pocket surrender to the Germans. There were no shortages of ammunition or fuel, there was none to be short of, it was all gone. The last three days had seen the Pocket shrink to a fifth of the size it used to be and hundreds of thousands have died since the breakout attempt. The remaining Red Army men, 1.5 million and 600 tanks surrender to the Germans in the largest surrender in the history of warfare. Most of the Soviet tanks had been purposely destroyed or rendered useless by Soviet engineers. The Red Army generals surrendering may have not seen any point of fighting anymore but they will be damned if they give the Germans useful tanks. The tanks that were recoverable will be repaired and repainted with a German cross on the side and sent to German panzer divisions. The rest will be spare parts for those tanks. The 1.5 million men that surrendered to the Germans will be put in labor camps under the direction of the SS. They will rebuild all of Poland currently in German hands. Roads, railroads, airstrips receive top priority. This large workforce will free up tens of thousands of German laborers that can either be drafted in the Army or for them to focus on constructing more factories in Germany. To keep the prisoners in check for every prisoner attempting to escape, 100 Soviets will be shot per attempted escapee, if a prisoner does escape, then 500 per escapee.

    July 6th, 1941- Throughout the Soviet Union dissension with Stalin’s regime is rising. Reports of insubordination, especially from units in the Red Army and Air Force are being kept quiet, for now. Nationalist/ fascist/anti-Communist elements throughout the Soviet Union, particularly the Baltic States, Belarussia (to a lesser degree) and the Ukraine especially are beginning to institute small riots and anti-Soviet/anti-Communist propaganda is beginning to sprout up through the countryside.

    In Moscow Stalin and the Stavka are apprehensive and Stalin is becoming more and more paranoid of the ability of his officers to run the war. For weeks he had been considering a purge and the surrender of the Krakow Pocket and the large scale dissension throughout Soviet Union is the last straw. Stalin unleashes Beria and his NKVD to arrest and execute any and all officers deemed insufficiently good Communists or lacking of faith in Stalin or the inevitable victory. NKVD police battalions are also sent to round up all dissenters and execute them as well.

    Throughout the Soviet Union men and women are rounded up in numbers not seen since the Great Purge of 1936. Throughout the streets of Kiev, Minsk, Smolensk, Leningrad, Stalingrad and Moscow and all the other Soviet cities thousands are rounded up and sent east to the gulags of Siberia with thousands more shot after mock trials. Fear, distrust and paranoia reaches an all time high. Much of the top military officers like Zhukov, Vatutin and Voroshilov and Stavka are not liquidated as of yet but many of the lower ranking officers are suspect to arrest and execution. The Soviet Union is a powder keg, ready to be lit with the fires of revolution and nationalism.

    Europe (July 6th, 1941)

  9. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 9: “The Russian Bear is Down”

    July 12th, 1941- German forces have stopped advancing and are now building a better logistical supply network and moving up reserve units to reinforce the front. Hitler and the General Staff are content with their position in Poland. Talon was exhaustive for both sides. The Soviets might have lost much more in the way of men, tanks, planes and materials but the Germans are currently fighting in Norway, Sweden, have to keep half a million troops on the Westwall (French/Belgian-German border), 50,000 on the Dutch-German border, another 50,000 men in Denmark and almost 3,000,000 men on the Eastern Front. Recruitment (draftees and volunteers) is accelerating in the Third Reich. Factories in Germany are building panzers, rifles, pistols, ammunition, cannon shells, artillery, planes, and all the other materials needed to fight a war. Winter clothing, taking examples from captured Red Army winter supplies during the winter of 1940-1941, are starting to be produced and sent to German field units but it will take times until all units are fully equipped. Soviet generals on the frontline are thankful for the lack of German advancement in Poland. The purge was sending shockwaves through the Red Army and Red Air Force leaving barely functional. New, more loyal to Stalin, officers are arriving but many of these were inexperienced or too fanatical even for the wasteful Red Army. The front was stabilizing to just minor attacks, raids, and air combat across central Poland. Both sides are creating drafts of new offensives but none of these have been finalized or approved yet.

    July 15th, 1941- In a top secret meeting in Minsk Stalin and Zhukov discuss plans for an upcoming offensive. Stalin is pushing for another large scale campaign in Poland but Zhukov tells the Soviet dictator that the Red Army has suffered immensely in Poland, twice defeated by the German Reich and it wouldn’t be able to launch an offensive on the scale Stalin wants until February or March of 1942. Zhukov instead plans three minor offensives, as part of an overall strategy, to put pressure on Germany and to win some victories to establish confidence and raise morale in the morale-depleted Red Army/Red Air Force.
    Operation Pluto:
    Phase I- Soviet armored forces will launch a minor offensive from Warsaw to establish better defensive lines around the Polish capital.
    Phase II- 30 divisions plus adequate amounts of tanks and fighter/bomber squadrons will be transported to northern Sweden to break the Gustaf Line and occupy the mineral riches of that Axis nation.
    Phase III- A couple of weeks after these have been launched whether successful or not the Soviet Union will launch an invasion of Romania from the Ukraine. About one and a half million men with some of the best tank divisions and over two thousand airplanes to quickly defeat the Romanian military and occupy the Ploiesti oil fields that are supplying the life blood to the German Wehrmacht and industry. If and when this is taken a puppet regime will be established in Romania and after a time the German war machine will start feeling the lack of oil and after a year or so will be so petroleum starved that entire divisions of panzers and entire air wings of the Luftwaffe will be unable to drive or fly due to the lack of fuel and allow Soviet forces to finally take Poland and move into Germany itself, this is the hope of Zhukov anyway. Stalin tells him he will think about it.

    July 16th, 1941- Japanese Imperial Command decides that the forces for White Tiger are inadequate. Another two hundred planes from the Navy and Army will be sent to Manchukuo (Manchuria) along with another 150,000 men (mainly new recruits and men from the Home Islands) and 300 tanks of various types will be added to the Kwantung Army; this extra tanks along with the ones already in the Kwantung Army are almost the entirety of modern Japanese armored forces (in the rest of the world the Japanese medium tanks would be considered light tanks or tankettes). Yamashita will take these extra forces gladly.

    July 21st, 1941- Stalin approves of Zhukov’s Operation Pluto. Key elements of the armored force are being transported to the Ukrainian-Romanian border. The one and half million infantry will be mainly new recruits (almost exclusively draftees) with some veteran armored divisions of the Polish front to lead the way. Most of the veteran infantry forces will remain in eastern Poland to prevent the Germans from getting too greedy. Pluto will begin in mid November, in the winter season to catch the Germans unaware.

    July 23rd, 1941- Since the beginning of the Second Great Purge, which began on July 6th, over twenty thousand soldiers (officers and regular troopers alike) and civilians throughout the Soviet Union have been rounded up with many shot while the rest are sent to gulags in Siberia. Stalin and Beria are pleased but want to expedite the purge so they can focus on the war once again.

    July 25th, 1941- Romania notices the buildup of Soviet forces on its border and hastily mobilizes its own forces but these are much smaller than the Red Army and lack much heavy equipment.

    July 27th, 1941- Vilnius, Lithuania, near Red Army General Andrey Vlasov’s headquarters:

    Commissar Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev of the NKVD and his subordinate Commissar Tutolev along with a squad of NVKD soldiers walked down the dusty dirt road toward General Vlasov’s headquarters. Red Army men in their khaki uniforms parted the NKVD men as if they carried a pestilence, which in a way they did… death.
    The NKVD men, in their khaki uniforms with blue collar patches and blue topped caps walked past more and more Red Army troops. Khrushchev frowned. This was a headquarters unit, supposed to be mainly clerks and typists, but this one had scores of armed men. Not guards carrying pistols but field troops with Mosin-Nagants. If the Germans were close he could understand but this was Lithuania, behind the lines, not eastern East Prussia. Strange, but that was beside the fact.

    Khrushchev walked into the headquarters building. He went to the desk secretary who directed him to the general’s adjutant. “Where is Comrade General Andrey Vlasov?”
    The man looked at Khrushchev. Something was odd in his green eyes. They seemed to lack something, thought Khrushchev. “Follow me, Comrade Commissar.” The adjutant led the NKVD men through the building to another and then another. Tutolev muttered, “Where the hell is that man?” The young commissar had a point. Where was the general? Was he tipped off that the NKVD was coming and escaped somewhere? But then why would his adjutant lead them somewhere? If it was it was a fool’s errand. He would be shot.

    After yet another building they entered a small courtyard. There was Vlasov standing next to a flagpole with the Soviet national flag fluttering in the wind. He was staring at the flag, his back turned to Beria’s henchmen.

    “Comrade General Andrey Andreyevich Vlasov, you are under arrest for treason against the Soviet state and the peaceful workers and peasants of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. You will come with us, now.”

    His back still turned Vaslov responded, “Tell me, Comrade Commissar, why would I willingly go with you when I will either be shot and left in a mass grave or be sent to Siberia where Stalin may or may not leave me to die. I survived the Great Purge same as you did and another purge is here with the potential to be worse than the last, during a war no less. We have millions of people starving and under constant fear of Communism. As a Ukrainian you should understand that but you are too much Stalin’s pet to see it.”

    Khrushchev started to go red with anger. Beside him Tutolev bristled with fury also. “How dare you talk to the Comrade Commissar in that way? You won’t even receive a trial now,” the young commissar said as he began to pull his pistol out. The pistol never made it out of its holster. A sharp crack of another pistol fired in the courtyard and blood spattered Krushchevs face. The general’s adjutant had his TT-30 Tokarev pistol out and the barrel was smoking.

    “Now!” shouted General Vlasov and doors that were around the courtyard opened with dozens of Red Army soldiers with Mosin-Nagants and some with PPSh-41 submachine guns. More came from behind them, where the NKVD emerged from earlier. They disarmed the NKVD guards quickly and Vaslov himself walked to Khrushchev. Vaslov pulled the pistol from Khrushchev’s belt and held it at his side.

    “Funny how you have done this many times over the years but have never seen it from the eyes of the victim; let me show you, Comrade Commissar,” the general nodded and the NKVD men were put up against a wall, a squad of Red Army soldiers with rifles were opposite of them.The Army men raised their rifles and at a shout of “Fire” from the general and the sharp crack of rifle fire had half a dozen NKVD guards on the ground, slumped against the wall in a growing pool of their own blood. Khrushchev was on the far right but was not fired upon by the Army troops. Vaslov looked at his adjutant and nodded. The adjutant walked right up to the Ukrainian commissar and raised his pistol, “For my family, you murdering bastard.” Before the bullet left the pistol Khrushchev recognized what was in the man’s green eyes, or lack thereof. No fear, there was a lack of fear. The gun fired and blackness enveloped Khrushchev.

    July 27th, 1941- General Andrey Vlasov and his men kill an NKVD detachment that was sent to him. Later that day Vlasov announced through Red Army radio channels that …”The time to overthrow our Soviet masters is at hand. Communism is a failed and deadly experiment. Let all those that suffered through these long, hard years of Stalin rise up and win your national independence.” Vaslov’s ‘Speech of Independence’ was the fire that ignites rebellion and insurrection throughout the Soviet Union. It begins to spread quickly despite the NKVD and loyalist Red Army units to contain it.

    July 29th, 1941- Two days after the ‘Speech of Independence’ hundreds of officers who knew the purge would get them rise up in revolt killing Red Army loyalists and NKVD especially. Throughout the western Republics and Russia, and somewhat in the southern Republics and the Caucasus whole units rebel against Soviet Union, mainly, but not entirely, those whose nationalities are from the Baltic, Belarussia, the southern Republics and the Ukraine. Nationalist/Fascist/anti-Communist elements through the Soviet Union begin rising up and shooting any and all Soviet troops loyal to Stalin. Thousands of small groups of bandits ambush and steal supplies bound for the Eastern Front and every major city under Soviet control from Warsaw to Vladivostok has street fighting between Soviet loyalists and nationalist forces. The fighting in Moscow was bloody but short lived. NKVD and Red Army loyalists quash the rebelling forces easily. Heavy fighting continues to be fought in Minsk, Smolensk, Leningrad, Stalingrad, Kiev, Vladivostok and almost every city in between.

    July 30th, 1941- Zhukov, on orders from Stalin, cancels Operation Pluto and authorizes all those suspected of rebellion and dissension, no matter how remote, to be arrested and shot without even a mock trial. All along the Eastern Front Soviet defenses have fell into chaos with no organized, cohesive defense line against the Germans. The German surprised at the turn of events begin gearing up for an offensive to take advantage of the chaos reigning over the Eastern Front. At this point a full third of the Red Army and Red Air Force are rebelling against the Communist regime. The Red Navy has had few losses in the war and remains loyal to Moscow. Throughout the USSR hundreds of thousands of civilians have taken up arms against the Soviet government. These civilians have practically no training and are only armed with equipment stolen from local Red Army garrisons but are highly motivated, they know if they are captured they will be tortured and shot along with their families.

    August 3rd, 1941- German bombers and fighters cross over Soviet lines in large formations and devastate communication hubs, known Soviet loyalist forces, and supply depots. On the frontline itself tens of thousands of former Soviet troops cross the frontline and either surrender to the Germans or join the Germans in the fight against the Soviet Union.

    August 6th, 1941- The German Luftwaffe dominates the skies over Poland, the Baltic States, Belarussia and the western half of the Ukraine. Nationalist factions destroyed nearly a thousand of Red Air Force planes and captured hundreds of them for their own use. Hundreds more were damaged or simply abandoned by the Red Air Force leaving the superior trained Luftwaffe to dominate the skies and allowing the Luftwaffe to damage or destroy hundreds of Soviet installations and bases. These air sorties are to prepare the way for the rapidly assembling German offensive codenamed Fall Grau (Case Gray/Operation Gray). In an announcement to the Reichstag Hitler states, “The
    Russian Bear is Down, we only need to keep it down until it dies.”

    August 8th, 1941- German transport ships begin dropping large amounts of ammo, weapons and food to the larger nationalist groups that have begun establishing defensive lines against Soviet forces, especially to the ones near Kiev. German specialists and Special Forces are also dropped throughout eastern Poland and the Baltic States to assist in damaging Soviet forces there.

    August 9th, 1941- In Moscow Stalin commands Beria to assemble a force utterly devoted to Communism and him. Beria begins work immediately; these units will be under the jurisdiction of the NKVD and are quickly nicknamed Beria’s Brigades. This NKVD Army will be equipped with the best and deadliest weapons the Soviet Union can produce. The remnants of the rebelling forces in Moscow that survived will go into hiding or pretend they never wavered in their support for Stalin and wait for the next time to strike.

    August 10th, 1941- Kiev falls to Ukrainian nationalists who quickly round up and execute all Communist officials. Trench lines are beginning to be built around the city to fend off any potential Soviet attacks.

    August 13th, 1941- In Finland, Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, the Executioner of Finland, is shot dead by a Finnish sniper as he was exiting his headquarters in Helsinki. The Executioner was the only thing holding down large scale uprising in Finland and with him dead the Finns launch another uprising once again but this time much more coordinated and supplied with German weapons sneaked in by sea. Finnish guerrillas are stealing or destroying almost all supplies going to the Red Army in northern Sweden leaving the Soviet troops there in danger of collapsing.

    August 16th, 1941- After heavy fighting most major and medium cities in the Soviet Union are back under Soviet control, the one major exception is Kiev where national elements have resisted all attempts at Soviet retaking the city and Vilnius where General Vaslov has assembled a large anti-Soviet army.

    August 17th, 1941- 300 German bombers escorted by a couple hundred fighters attack the Soviet Baltic Fleet as it lies in port as it had since the war began. The damage to the fleet is extensive with every ship, save some torpedo boats and submarines, suffering various forms of damage with both battleships, one of the cruisers, eight destroyers and over twenty torpedo boats and submarines sunk; another large formation of bombers and fighters bomb Leningrad and Minsk killing tens of thousands but pushing Soviet units there to the brink of desperation as everything from ammo, fuel and spare parts to food and clothing running critically low.

    August 19th, 1941- After nearly three weeks of hastily preparation and assembling forces Germany launches Fall Grau (Case Gray/Operation Gray). After a short artillery barrage over two and a half million men (2.1 million are German, the rest are allied Axis soldiers) with nearly 2000 panzers (almost exclusively German and are mostly Panzer IIIs, older and newer variants, with large amounts of IIs and moderate amounts of newer and older variants of the IVs) break through Soviet lines. Warsaw, which was the battleground of intense combat between rebels, Polish partisans and Soviet loyalists, falls quickly. In East Prussia Soviet forces are pushed out and German panzers liberate Memel and quickly push onwards towards Vilnius where General Vaslov has created the Russian Liberation Army (Russkaya Osvoboditel'naya Armiya or simply ROA). Vaslov had assembled almost 300,000 Russian soldiers into his army and controls large swathes of Lithuania, parts of southern Latvia and parts of Poland. His ROA and the Lithuanian nationalists have broken the Soviet front there. General Vatutin escapes Lithuania and makes his way to Minsk and from there he goes to Leningrad to take command of the forces there where he is ordered by Stalin to begin fortifying the city against Axis forces. In Berlin Hitler, after a conference meeting with the General Staff, announces on Radio Berlin that, “…The time is right for the nationalities that have been suppressed by Soviet terror to rise up and assist Axis forces in defeating the Judaic-Communist system.’ Shortly after this speech Hitler accepts the ROA as an auxiliary force of the Wehrmacht and tells Vaslov that when the war is won and significant parts of European Russia are taken by the Axis Powers then Vaslov will be put in power over that European Russian territory which will be a close ally of the Reich. In reality this will be nothing more than a Russian puppet state of Germany (This puppet state by Hitler is envisioned to be east of the Baltic States, Belarussia and the territory between the Baltic States and Leningrad, these will go to Germany) (The reason Hitler’s Drang nach Osten or ‘Drive to the East’ policy is not fully put in place is the racial policies of the Reich towards the Slavic people is much kinder than in OTL due to the war having two major fronts since 1940 and Hitler can consider making loyal elements of the Baltic States and Belarussia citizens of the Reich but as of now it is uncertain whether or not Germany can defeat the USSR on unconditional surrender terms, the British and French are still major powers and have not been attacked or conquered so this threat needs to be taken into account in Hitler’s foreign policy. Germany might be able to push the Soviet Union east a good deal but the military situation is not to the point to where Hitler can consider easily defeating the Soviets and annexing everything west of the Urals ITTL’s 1941 as he did in OTL’s 1941. It is his desire and ultimate goal but he understands that is not likely to happen as of yet if at all. The promise of putting Vaslov into power over a European Russia is just to solidify Vaslov’s loyalty to Germany and the Axis and is a bit of an empty promise, Hitler can actually do it or not once the war is won, if the war can be won at all). With German and ROA forces linking up they begin pushing north-east, east and south-east.
    Axis units (German/Hungarian/Italian/Slovakian) break through Soviet lines in south-eastern Poland and enter the Ukraine. Thousands of rebels and partisans meet and assist the Axis forces. In every village and town the Axis forces enter in western Ukraine they are greeted as liberators and saviors. Soviet forces here are in considerable disarray, only being kept in check by the veteran tank divisions that were transported there before the July 27th Meltdown.

    August 20th, 1941- Brest, Poland falls to advancing German soldiers and tens of thousands of Soviet soldiers are surrendering without a fight in many instances. Thousand more rebel soldiers are met and integrated into German auxiliary forces. The ROA is growing rapidly as thousands of the surrendering Soviet troops renounce their belief in Communism and swear allegiance to Hitler, Germany, the Axis Powers and Vaslov (who promotes himself to Supreme Commander of the ROA).

    August 22nd, 1941- Lithuania is cleared of all Soviet forces. It declares independence from the USSR and shortly afterwards Latvia and Estonia do the same despite that most of these two countries are under Soviet control.

    August 23rd, 1941- German forces enter the outskirts of Riga, Latvia and liberate the city from Soviet troops within a few hours. With German soldiers moving at a rapid pace all across the Eastern Front, Romania, which knew it would have been invaded by the Soviet Union if the July Meltdown did not occur looks at the weakened Soviet Union and Marshal Ion Antonescu, de facto ruler and dictator of Romania is anti-Communist and wants to expand Romania before the Germans take all of the Ukraine for themselves or worse, they give it to the Ukrainians for them to rule themselves. Romania had been threatened by the Soviet Union before Red Dawn to cede Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to the USSR. Since the war between the Germans and the Soviets started that threat was put on hold but now Romania has a chance to expand! Antonescu, which for weeks had been planning to ask Germany for membership in the Axis finally does through his Foreign Ministry. Germany immediately agrees. Romanian troops which had been on standby since the Soviet preparations for Pluto in the Ukraine, move across the lightly defended border (most of the troops that were on the Ukrainian-Romanian border have gone north-west to combat the German led Axis forces there. Romanian troops, despite lacking significant armored forces are able to move quickly in a poor attempt at blitzkrieg. By the end of the day the outskirts of Odessa are within sight.

    August 24th, 1941- Throughout eastern Poland and the parts of Soviet territory the Germans have control over there have been mass graves uncovered by the Wehrmacht with tens of thousands of murdered Poles, former Soviet military personnel, and even some German POWs that were shot by machinegun fire. Doctor Goebbels of the Ministry of Propaganda uses this to sway public opinion of the world into the favor of the Axis. German atrocities against Jews and Soviet sympathizers are kept well hidden and are on a much smaller scale than the Soviet atrocities were (the SS and Waffen-SS shot many collaborators and those suspected of collaboration, this was used as an excuse to add hundreds of Jews even if they were innocent. This doesn't expand as it did in OTL due to the Germans cannot afford to use up all that ammunition with the war on the Eastern Front still in the balance).

    August 25th, 1941- All of Poland is cleared of Soviet troops. Germany puts all of Poland under military occupation; there will not be a second General Government (all of Poland except for the parts that were annexed into the Third Reich).

    August 26th, 1941- West of Kiev the veteran Soviet tank divisions encounter German panzer divisions and after five hours of heavy fighting the Germans come out as the victor and the veteran Soviet forces are nearly annihilated with the remnants of these Soviet forces retreating to eastern Ukraine to consolidate and wait for reinforcements. In Kiev German troops march through the streets to cheering crowds. German forces in the Ukraine take a couple days pause to consolidate gains and will advance east when their logistics have caught up with them. Further south the Romanians finally capture Odessa with help from Ukrainian and minor Axis (Italy, Hungary, and Slovakia) assistance along with some air support from the Luftwaffe. The Germans have total air superiority from the frontline all the way to Smolensk, Russia. After capturing the city Romania annexes Odessa, some territory north of the city but everything south that Romania conquered. Ukrainian nationalists are displeased with this but will allow it if it means they can be their own nation, albeit a puppet state of the German Reich, but overall its own country.

    August 27th, 1941- The Kriegsmarine with heavy Luftwaffe coverage sails towards the Soviet port where the remains of the Baltic Fleet reside. Wave after wave of bombers and fighters damage and sink even more ships while the German warships sail close and after a three hour battle have destroyed the remnants of the Soviet Baltic Fleet. The Kriegsmarine loses a destroyer and moderate to heavy damage to multiple ships, most of these were from Red Air Force bombers that slipped past the German interceptor squadrons.

    August 28th, 1941- Latvia is cleared of Soviet forces. Outside of Moscow the first 10,000 handpicked men that will form the nucleus of the NKVD Army, the Beria Brigades, begin training. It is a brutal regimen but indoctrinates the men to become fanatics to the Communist Party, the Soviet Union and more specifically Stalin.

    August 29th, 1941- Entente High Command, worried about how much territory the Axis are taking in the East prepare for an offensive to push the Axis out of Norway and invade Sweden. Nearly 350,000 Entente troops are in Norway currently facing an estimated 190,000 German/Norwegian Loyalist/Swedish forces. The offensive will take some time to be deemed ready. Entente bombers begin heavy bombing of southern Sweden for the first time causing moderate damage and stretching Luftwaffe assets there to the limit.

    September 2nd, 1941- In Kiev Ukrainian nationalist leaders, under the supervision of the German Wehrmacht, declares independence from the Soviet Union, creating the National Republic of the Ukraine, and joins the Axis Powers later that day with extensive military and economic pacts with Germany and the Axis Powers. Out of the entirety of the Ukraine only the western third is under Axis control. Kiev, which is the capital of the new National Republic of the Ukraine, is not far from the frontlines. The Baltic States might be 'independent' but will be under German military occupation while the 'independent' governments are puppets. Most people of the Baltic realize the time for an independent Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is over. They decide to work with the Germans who are seen as the lesser of two evils and Germany may or may not give the Baltic States some sovereignty which Stalin never allowed.

    September 3rd, 1941- Estonia is cleared of Soviet troops except for the Estonian capital of Tallinn where 200,000 Red Army troops that were cutoff and are dug in. German forces enter the outskirts of Minsk in Belarussia but determined Soviet infantry has deterred the Germans from taking the city. Axis forces just east of Kiev on the frontlines begin moving eastward again after their operational pause. The Soviets had a few days to establish lines of defense but these are manned, mostly, by raw units with Ukrainian nationalist behind their lines terrorizing their troops and supplies and a severe lack of armor and artillery support. Most of these are in the eastern Ukraine rebuilding their strengths. This allows the Germans to advance at a steady pace.

    September 6th, 1941- The Soviet fighter planes Yak-1s, Yak-7s, and MiG-3s are being mass produced and are beginning to arrive on the Eastern Front in large numbers. These fighter designs are near the equal or are the equal of the Messerschmitt Bf-109, the only edge the current variant of the Bf-109 carries is its pilots who still have better training and more experience than their Red Air Force counterparts. The Pe-2 bomber has also becomes the dominant and more numerous Soviet bomber plane other than the Tupolev SB.

    September 7th, 1941- General Rommel (he had been promoted to the rank of General some time ago) using maverick panzer tactics (he would outdistance his own supply train and supporting infantry) pierce the Soviet lines south of Minsk and rolls east by north east to encircle the city.

    September 8th, 1941- Minsk is surrounded by a German ring of steel and the ring is tightening. German panzer and mechanized infantry begin moving from Estonia towards Leningrad. In Moscow Stalin after heated arguments and counter-arguments with Stavka agrees to pull Soviet troops out of northern Sweden, through rebelling Finland and for those troops in northern Sweden and Finland to begin building defensive lines on the Soviet-Finnish border (the post 1939-1940 Winter War border). The Red Army is instructed on its withdrawal to destroy anything that could be of value to the Axis Powers (a scorched earth policy if you will). German Luftwaffe squadrons of the newly produced FW-190 begin arriving in the East to counter the growing amount of new Soviet planes. The FW-190 is the equal in some ways and superior in others to the Bf-109. The Bf-109 will remain the dominant fighter of the German Luftwaffe but the FW-190 will become the Luftwaffe’s night fighter and interceptor (on the Western Front the German Westwall Air Command receives dozens of squadrons of FW-190 and this allows the Luftwaffe to send dozens of squadrons of Bf-190s to the Eastern Front. The FW-190 has some teething problems but new versions are in the works to rectify these).

    September 9th, 1941- The Soviet forces in Tallinn surrender when ROA sympathizers open their defensive lines for the Germans allowing German and ROA troops to quickly storm the city with the help of the sympathizers. Out of the 200,000 soldiers 110,000 surrender, with 50,000 joining the ROA after swearing the Oath of Loyalty; 40,000 loyal Soviets soldiers died since the German Army surrounded Tallinn.

    September 11th, 1941- The Second Great Purge is nearing an end in the Soviet Union. Most of the nationalist uprisings throughout the Soviet Union have been defeated or contained except for in the Soviet controlled parts of the Ukraine and Belarussia where German transport ships continue to supply these rebel factions with supplies and weapons, and in the southern Republics the uprisings there have been defeated but refuse to die out and an intense guerrilla warfare has ensued. In Russia itself the uprisings were bad but many knowing German forces might not reach them in time decide to go into hiding until a better opportunity presents itself. The Purge will continue for some time but will be mainly at civilians and lower ranking military personnel. The upper echelons of the Red Army and Red Air Force have been butchered by the NKVD. Over half were arrested on charges whether they were true or not and shot, even some members of Stavka Stalin was displeased with. At all levels of command the Red Army and Red Air Force have lost so many experienced officers that many units cannot function and are being amalgamated with units that have a working command structure; distrust and paranoia continue to run rampant but the amount of killings has ebbed. The disloyal elements of the Red Army, the Red Air Force and the Red Navy have been mainly rounded up and shot (the ones that had not already moved to the Germans side or went into hiding to wage a guerilla campaign). While the frontline has stabilized somewhat Soviet troops continue to retreat all across the front. Vast amounts of armor, aircraft, weapons, heavy equipment and other war material have been captured by the Germans and their Axis allies. These can be replaced as the Trans-Ural factories will soon be reaching full output but this takes time and these resources the Germans captured are making up for the lack they have had since the end of Talon. These supplies are one of the main things propelling the German offensive forward, that and the low morale of the Soviet military coupled with many of its veteran personnel were either dead, captured, went over to the Germans or were rounded up by their own side due to unknown loyalty (most were shot, some were sent to Siberia) and this lack of experience is obvious as much smaller German forces defeat larger Soviet forces almost easily. Marshal Zhukov, whose headquarters is now in Smolensk, is ordering entire divisions to sacrifice themselves to slow the Germans down just long enough for the Red Army and Red Air Force to get back on its feet. This will result in tens of thousands of dead Soviets but does buy Zhukov time to revitalize the flagging combat capability of the Soviet armed forces.

    September 12th, 1941- In the closing hours of the 12th of September Minsk surrenders. The German swastika flag rises over the city as dusk sets in. With Minsk taken local German forces are once again able to move eastwards without a thorn in its side. The Germans drive eastward to Smolensk.

    Europe as of September 13th, 1941

    Poland is under military occupation while the Baltic States are under a joint German military and local fascist government rule. The Ukraine is the most independent out of all the territory Germany took over so far. ITTL Germany's position in the war is not as strong as it was in OTL so his has to rely on volunteers from Slavic people who suffered under Stalin's rule, those who volunteer must pass racial test (must be Aryan or sub-Aryan which essentially means be white with no Asiatic or Communist background, a pure Caucasian heritage) and the volunteers from Poland and the Baltic States will be incorporated into the German Wehrmacht while the Ukrainians are beginning to form their own military with its own command structure and such it will be led by Ukrainians but will take part in German operations due to the Germans being the Axis Powers de facto leader and the most powerful military nation of the Axis. The Belarussians are a mix bag, some are joining the German Wehrmacht directly, others are forming their own auxiliary units attached to the Wehrmacht but not officially apart of it or staying as local militia to free up German troops for the front line. The Russians of the ROA are similar to the Ukrainians in them having their own command structure but they do not have their own country. Almost like a government in exile in some ways. Another reason to give the Ukrainians their own country is Germany is focusing most of its forces in Belarussia and Russia and needs German troops there so the Ukrainians being their own country will allow them to create an army that will protect the Ukraine and possibly assist any German offensive there.
    22000 Kevin, Cookies, Xaessar and 2 others like this.
  10. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 10: Blood Stained Snow

    September 13th, 1941- With Minsk fully secured behind them German forces in the area roll over the Soviet lines which were held by men that have been written off by Stavka. All along the front German led Axis forces are advancing steadily despite the worsening weather.

    September 15th, 1941- The Soviet forces in northern Sweden and Finland receive the order to withdraw to the post-Winter War Soviet border. As the Soviet troops are withdrawing Axis air forces (German/Swedish/Free Finnish) bomb and disrupt the convoys and railroads causing heavy casualties (most Soviet fighter and bomber squadrons are pulled to the Eastern Front where they are needed more).

    September 18th, 1941- To stiffen the political loyalty of the Red Army and Red Air Force Beria, with Stalin’s permission, expands the NKVD commissar’s power in the military. There will be a commissar for every significant military formation, from a regiment all the way up to an Army headquarters unit with broad powers. The military officer may lead the unit but the commissar can override the order if he feels it is not beneficial to the Communist Party and Stalin. This gives commissars extensive powers within the structure of the military and Stalin does this to ensure the loyalty of the Red Army and Red Air Force to prevent any more large scale uprisings and rebellion (nip the bud of rebellion if you will). This will ensure the loyalty of the frontline units but through fear. The commissars enact almost daily executions of “disloyal elements” usually common troopers who voice “defeatist ideals”. This order is immensely unpopular with the Red Army and Red Air Force, it stifles initiative and every commander will have to watch over his shoulder at the bloodthirsty NKVD hoping they do not get purged but no one dares utter a word of disapproval, all the purges since Stalin came to power have hammered one thing home: silence is survival.

    September 19th, 1941- German panzers, with Stukas, bombers, and fighters as air support, pierce Soviet lines and rapidly encroach on Smolensk. The only thing driving the Germans forward is lack of organized Soviet resistance and their continued air supremacy. Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, head of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) and de facto war minister to Hitler informs the German Führer that the Wehrmacht had only enough supplies for six weeks of advancement at the current pace before worse winter conditions made any large scale offensive impossible until late February or early March.

    September 23rd, 1941- In a large nighttime raid German bombers bomb much of downtown Moscow. While the bombers were only carrying light bombs to increase range and the damage they caused was generally insignificant it does frighten the Soviet population in the city and is a propaganda victory for the Germans.

    September 27th, 1941- Gomel, the last major city in Belarussia still in Soviet hands, is surrounded and cut off from reinforcements. German bombers and artillery continue to hammer the inner parts of the city killing thousands as German and ROA infantry enter the outer edges, using refined urban warfare tactics learned through hard lessons in the campaigns in Poland, are slowly moving to the center of the Soviet city.

    September 30th, 1941- In northern Sweden with only a skeleton defense force of Soviet infantry, Lieutenant General Eduard Dietl, commander of German forces in Sweden proposes an offensive, using mainly Swedish and Free Finnish manpower but with the Luftwaffeproviding most of the air cover and the German Army providing the panzers and half-tracks to quickly retake northern Sweden and advance into Finland itself to liberate it from under the Soviet boot. His plans are quickly approved. Men and material are being assembled for the offensive.

    October 2nd, 1941- In Rome Mussolini’s top generals and admirals present to him Operation Caesar: The invasion and complete submission of Greece and the invasion of the British base at Malta along with landings on the large Greek island of Crete. Mussolini knows that if Malta or Crete does not fall than the war in the Mediterranean would start badly for the Italians. Greece Mussolini sees as a province of his ‘new Roman Empire’. In North Africa Italian units will remain on the defense until Greece and Malta fall to the Italians. Yugoslavia he would deal with after Caesar. He knew he would be too busy combating the French and British in North Africa and invading the Greeks to actually invade Yugoslavia but the Italian Il Duce thought he could pressure the Yugoslavs into doing what he wanted, of that he was almost certain of. Caesar will be launched on January 23rd, 1942.

    October 3rd, 1941- Gomel falls to German and ROA soldiers. With the fall of the Soviet city all of Belarussia is now in German hands. German forces are now only 40 kilometers from Smolensk (While Gomel was under siege German and ROA forces continued to advance on Smolensk). Round the clock bombardment of the city is common causing widespread destruction and death. The Red Air Force is slowly rebuilding its strength but as of yet the Axis still have air superiority.

    In Kiev, capital of the National Republic of the Ukraine, the newly formed Ukrainian National Army is officially activated with a nucleus of 40 divisions (400,000 men). More are on the way and most of the soldiers in the Ukrainian National Army are former Red Army soldiers (of Ukrainian descent) or partisans that fought against the Red Army during the rebellion. These troops have moderate amounts of training with some heavy equipment with a handful of tank divisions, courtesy of the Red Army who abandoned hundreds of tanks as they retreated east (they abandoned these tanks due to they broke down, lack of fuel or battle damage. Most of the tanks captured in the Ukraine by the Axis have been repaired and is now the backbone of the Ukrainian National Army. Ukrainian industry which suffered moderate damage is being rapidly repaired to help the Ukraine sustain its own armies and troops, to the relief of the Germans who cannot spare much to them. Also Ukrainian grain and other foodstuffs are being transported to Germany as part of the many economic pacts made between the two countries. The Germans receive food and pay it back with money and loans along with German engineers assisting Ukrainian engineers to modernize and rebuild Ukrainian industry in the Axis controlled third of the Ukraine. The other 2/3rds remains under Soviet domination but the lion’s share of Soviet war materials is going to Smolensk and Leningrad which Stalin deems more important than the Ukraine.

    In Smolensk, Zhukov looks at the situation maps before him. The front was moving eastward, again. The damn Germans and their ROA dogs have steadily advanced and much of the peasantry supports them. Smolensk was lost, or would be when the Germans reached it. Zhukov did not have the time to properly fortify the city. A good quarter of it was heavily damaged from uprisings and much of the civilian population was wary of the Red Army. His supply situation was chaotic: railroads all across the USSR had been damaged to various degrees by rebels and diesel fuel and gasoline were critically short. Ammo, especially for tanks and soldiers was in good stock but most of his modern tanks (T-34s/KV-1s) had various degrees of damage or were suffering from lack of maintenance due to a scarcity of spare parts, his reserve tank forces, made up of mostly older tank models was fine at the moment. Stalin had ordered him to hold the city at all costs but if the Germans trapped Zhukov here, which they surely would once they reached the city, the better part of half a million men with about a third of the total surviving armored forces of the Red Army would be trapped and potentially destroyed leaving the road to Moscow easy for the Germans. The main thing Zhukov needed right now was time. Not men, tanks or even fuel but time. And he knew how to acquire it. He looked to his adjutant, “Launch Reckoning.” The adjutant nodded and went to the radio. In the background lurked Commissar Dmitry Novoborosky. He watched the man that was effectively running the war against the Fascists, if Zhukov made a call that Novoborosky thought was disloyal to Stalin or was defeatist than Novoborosky had the order from Beria himself to shoot the man. But he would not, not now at least; Zhukov was following Stalin's orders to the letter.

    October 4th, 1941- Operation Reckoning is launched: 250,000 Soviet soldiers and 600 tanks (some T-34s but most are older model tanks, BT-5s/BT-7s, T-26s etc, these are much more expendable) just north-west of Smolensk launch sharp counter attacks into the Germans northern flank. This flank is held primarily by the ROA who give fanatical defense but are poorly armed in anti-panzer weapons. The ROA has a few dozen tanks here while the Germans have a couple of platoons of panzers and these Axis armored forces are all that is keeping the Soviets from breaking through and cutting the Smolensk drive in half. If the Soviets break the Axis lines here the entire German/ROA offense towards Smolensk will be in shambles. Both sides pour in reinforcements. The Soviets add more men and tanks while the Germans add more air superiority and mechanized infantry (few panzers to spare). The fate of the offensive towards Smolensk is in the balance.

    October 9th, 1941- 5 days. 5 days of bloodshed and sacrifice west of Smolensk. The Soviet forces have blunted the Axis advance on Smolensk. The Axis lost almost 70,000 men (40,000 German and 30,000 ROA) and over a hundred tanks/panzers were destroyed with scores more damaged. The Soviets lose about 90,000 men and over 300 tanks (only about 200 hundred were destroyed, another 100 were so damaged that they were broken down for their spare parts). The German offensive to Smolensk had stalled and had even been pushed back 20 kilometers so the Axis forces are 60 kilometers from Smolensk. In Berlin Hitler and the General Staff are subdued by these turn of events. But when news reaches them off what is occurring in the Ukraine and near Leningrad their good mood quickly returns.

    October 10th, 1941- German troops are barely ten kilometers from Leningrad. The way to Leningrad was relatively easy but the defenses around the city were strong, General Vatutin had not been idle. He allowed the Germans to take all the territory west of Leningrad so he could focus his troops and supplies in the defense of the city itself. German troops here now have to fight their way, through deadly defense networks with intercrossing fields of fire, panzer-traps and Red Army men in every nook and cranny, to move meter by meter towards the city named after the deceased Bolshevik leader Lenin.

    In the Ukraine Field Marshal Wilhelm List, commander of the German forces in the Ukraine launches an offensive to take central Ukraine and if possible the Crimea well. List has only 200,000 German soldiers available on such short notice but he is able to get 350,000 Ukrainian soldiers plus another 120,000 minor Axis soldiers to assist in this endeavor. Axis forces, led by German panzers, quickly advance across the Ukraine. List wants to reach the Crimea and liberate as much of the Ukraine as possible before his fuel shortages become critical and before the Soviet ‘General Winter’ worsens.

    October 11th, 1941- In a public radio announcement to the Soviet Union Stalin dictates that the Red Army and Red Air Force will be adopting a nationwide scorched earth policy in territories under threat of falling into German hands. This is relatively popular among the military leadership (but not the civilian population), particularly Zhukov who first brought up the notion (the Soviets lack of a nationwide, government enforced scorched earth policy has allowed the lands the Germans captured to remain productive to the German war machine and large amounts of Soviet military supplies to fall into German hands which has been given over to the ROA and the Ukrainians). Any and all further advancements by the Axis will be on territory that will contribute very little to the Axis forces.

    October 13th, 1941- In three days the Axis offensive in the Ukraine is quite successful with much of central Ukraine taken with few losses. The Soviet forces here consist mainly of infantry with little to no armored support but they do have large amounts of artillery but most of that is being captured by Axis forces. The captured equipment will be given to the Ukrainians to bolster their military (the scorched earth policy might have been in effect officially but in many cases German panzers and infantry arrived so quick that the Soviets were unable to fully destroy their abandoned supplies or housing arrangements to prevent these from falling into German hands).

    October 15th, 1941- German led Axis forces reach the northern part of the Crimea but Soviet defenses here is fanatical and List decides that Crimea is not worth taking at this time, he rather will let it wither on the vine. The Crimea is cut off from the rest of the Soviet Union but the supplies in the Crimea will keep the 380,000 Soviet troops there well fed and well armed for a long time (the Soviet troops in the Crimea are lacking tanks, fuel and air support but are good in every other category).

    October 16th, 1941- The Italian fleet, with permission from Turkey, passes through the Turkish Straits to attack the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. Axis air forces from the Ukraine assist the Italian ships. The Black Sea Fleet, in port at Sevastopol to drop off supplies to the Soviet soldiers in the Crimea, is bombed and much of their craft is sunk or heavily damaged by Axis bombers. The Italian fleet destroys the remnants of the Black Sea Fleet suffering the loss of a heavy cruiser and a destroyer. The Italian fleet would patrol the Black Sea for weeks to come destroying scores of Soviet transport ships. This is all part of the process of weakening the forces of the Crimea for the eventual Axis attack. The Turks allowing the Italians through worsens Turkish-Soviet relations but rapidly improves Axis-Turkish relations. Bulgaria, sensing the growing Axis strength around them contemplates joining the Axis Powers.

    October 17th, 1941- Lieutenant General Dietl and his Scandinavian Force launch their attack on Soviet held northern Sweden. The Soviets are swept aside due to lack of numbers and heavy equipment. The German/Swedish/Free Finnish troops make great strides, heavily assisted with Swedish partisans that fought the Soviet occupation.

    October 20th, 1941- Sweden is completely cleared of a Soviet presence. Dielt enters north-western Finland, facing almost non-existent opposition (these Soviet troops were written off to buy time for the troops withdrawing eastward). The large scale uprising in Finland grows even larger as word reaches that Axis troops have entered the country and are quickly liberating huge swathes of Finland.

    October 22nd, 1941- The attack on Leningrad has advanced six kilometers in twelve days with heavy casualties for both sides. Stalin is determined to make sure the city does not fall and that the Germans bleed themselves dry in the attempt to take the city.

    October 23rd, 1941- Axis forces approach Helsinki, Finland.

    October 26th, 1941- Zhukov reports to Stalin that Smolensk is a fortress near the scale of Leningrad, Stalin is quite pleased. Beria reports that the NKVD Army is nearing completion of its basic training. 30,000 more men have begun training to enter the Beria Brigades.

    October 27th, 1941- After an intense house to house combat Helsinki is liberated by Axis forces. The Finnish government-in-exile quickly returns from Germany to their country’s capital and declares the Finnish Free State as over and that Finland is once again ruled by the Finnish (except for eastern Finland where the Soviets are dug in).
    Marshal Mannerheim, commander of the Free Finnish State Armed Forces, now simply the Finnish Armed Forces, enters Helsinki, the capital of his homeland. The city had suffered greatly under Soviet occupation with over twenty thousand dead. The mass graves had been found outside the city. Much of the industry had either been broken down and shipped east to the USSR or destroyed completely. He may have his country, mostly, back but the Finnish will not be able to completely support themselves in the war, not yet anyway. Axis engineers were already reconstructing factories but it will take a long, long time for the Finns to be able to support themselves militarily.

    October 28th, 1941- German soldiers begin advancing on Smolensk again but this time are much more cautious with heavily defended flanks, wary of counter-attacks. Zhukov is content with allowing them to approach Smolensk now that the Smolensk defenses have increased considerably.

    November 3rd, 1941- To increase productivity and efficiency Hitler appoints Albert Speer as Deputy Minister of the Ministry of War Armaments and Production. Speer will soon become known as an administrative genius, his policies and tactics will eventually increase overall German production up by at least 30% and will help free up German manpower and rectify many inter-Ministry disputes and lack of coordination which allows the newer weapons in production to be simplified and standardized allowing quicker production and more of it to be produced with the same amount of materials.

    November 11th, 1941- With winter worsening every day and fuel, spare parts, and ammo running critically low across the entire Eastern Front Hitler ceases all offensive operations until at least April of 1942. It will take this long to fully stock and repair the German units in the east. German troops are just three kilometers away from the Leningrad city limits, fifteen from Smolensk and ¾ of the Ukraine had been cleared of Soviet troops with the Soviet held Crimea cut off from support. The Red Navy Baltic and Black Sea Fleets were destroyed, Sweden had been cleared of Soviet troops along with most of Finland back under Finnish control. Hitler is pleased with the progress made on the Eastern Front but worried that with most of the uprisings in the USSR quashed the Soviet Union can repair itself internally (railroads and such) to the point where the Soviets vast industry can finally be able to send the resources it makes to the front much easier. It will be five months or so until the Wehrmacht is ready to launch another large scale offensive and in the meantime it will have to watch out for anything the Soviets do. But Hitler is pleased to note new and deadly weapons are finishing testing phases and will be mass produced shortly. The 75mm anti-panzer Panzer IV was quickly becoming the predominant German panzer with production of the Panzer I completely stopped, with the Panzer II only serving as a scout, partisan fighter (the Baltic States, Belarussia, the Ukraine and parts of European Russia held by the Germans and their Axis allies do have partisan groups that fight the Axis. They are mainly, but not exclusively, Jewish and/or Soviet citizens still loyal to Moscow, although these partisan groups are much, much smaller than in OTL due to Germany’s more ‘friendly’ attitude in the east) and training vehicle. The Panzer III (all new Panzer IIIs are being produced with the 50mm anti-panzer cannon) is still heavily relied on and produced but is quickly being replaced by the 75 mm anti-panzer Panzer IV. In Japan the military junta is just waiting for better weather conditions to attack Siberia and expand the Japanese Empire in the name of the Emperor, the United States watches with an apprehensive eye on the state of the world and Britain and France struggle with the growing unpopularity with the war and maintaining large international empires with native populations that would resist if given the chance or even half a chance. As the sun goes below the horizon on the 11th of November of the year 1941 as ‘General Winter’ dominates the pockmarked, battle-scarred fields of Eastern Europe the world watches as the greatest war in history continues into another day.

    Map of Europe as of November 11th, 1941
    The German led Axis forces have conquered large swathes of Soviet territory causing significant damage to the USSR but the Soviet Union is large and its people many. Will Germany be able to hold its new gains or will Zhukov be able to lead the low morale soldiers of the Red Army/Red Air Force/Red Navy (that has suffered immense casualties) to win the war.
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  11. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 11: Politics and Logistics

    November 13th, 1941- All along the Eastern Front both sides resupply and develop defensive lines in crucial locations as men and material are moved up and combat exhausted units are pulled back for rest and recuperation.

    November 15th, 1941- In Smolensk Zhukov breathes a sigh of relief. Leningrad, and to a lesser extent Smolensk, had been fortified significantly but both cities could have fallen to the Germans if they just had the supplies and if the Soviet "General Winter" had not stalled their advance. Reckoning had helped immensely, blunting the drive onto Smolensk but there was a chance for the Germans and ROA to shrug off that counter-attack and surround Smolensk. A city, no matter how fortified and supplied, would eventually fall in these modern times if surrounded.

    November 22nd, 1941- In Berlin Hitler and the General Staff begin drawing up plans for their next operation code-named Fall Orange (Case Orange/Operation Orange). It will be a complex plan that will involve the Kriegsmarine, the Luftwaffe and the Heer. The main objectives are the conquest of Smolensk and Leningrad with secondary objectives to advance onto Moscow and the surrounding cities west of the Soviet capital. Hitler states it will launch April 22nd but many in the General Staff realize that this date is very optimistic and subject to change.

    November 25th, 1941- Zhukov flies to Moscow to meet with Stalin. Stalin, weary of all the plots and whispers surrounding Moscow (some of those plotters during the July Meltdown were never found and executed and hundreds of small bands of guerillas continue to fight Soviet authority), and of the flagging morale of the military demands Zhukov launch an offensive to bolster the morale of the armed forces, to win victories and to retake land lost to the Soviet Union, land that had industry, resources and food vital to the USSR (the Soviet Union can definitely survive easily without the resources they have lost to the Axis but some elements of the population are feeling the lack therefore causing dissension that could be rebellious if allowed to fester, also Stalin wants to show those that switched to the Germans side that switching allegiances is them signing their death warrant; already Beria has established policies to be enforced on the territories if and when they are retaken, polices that will kill tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands even in retribution)

    For hours the two men will argue and discuss. Stalin wants an offensive; Zhukov wants to better defend Smolensk, Leningrad and the eastern sliver of the Ukraine the Soviets continue to rule. Zhukov wants the German forces to whittle away their strength the coming summer and when they are at their weakest and exhausted to launch a crippling counter-offensive to break the back of the Germans but Stalin warns that the Germans could break through somewhere and inflict another humiliating defeat on the Soviet military which may fall apart if the Germans launch an offensive and win more military victories in rapid succession.

    November 29th, 1941- Four days of argument between the dictator and marshal come to a conclusion, by the end of it both men compromise. Stalin wants an offensive drive from Leningrad, Smolensk and the Ukraine to break the Axis front in three critical places. If the Soviets succeed in all three or potentially just two the morale of the Red Army would rise as the Wehrmacht and its allies would fall. Zhukov, who wanted to reinforce defenses around strategic places with a mobile, large reserve, is forced to launch an offensive, but he has one in mind that is much smaller than Stalin had demanded. Zhukov brings a rough draft of a new operation called Scythe. The Soviet offensive calls for a main offensive from the eastern Ukraine. Its goal is to liberate most if not all of the Ukraine, relieve the Crimea and threaten the Romanian border and the Germans southern flank. Stalin approves the plan almost immediately, any offensive is better than none; if he can show the Soviet military and the Soviet people that victory can be won under Stalin than the whispers of dissension and rebellion will fade… or so he hopes. Zhukov, glad he was able to limit Stalin’s ambitions, will be committing vast amounts of armor and infantry. The current state of the Red Army was quite bad but by the time summer approaches many of the logistical, equipment/material, manpower, and armor issues will have been rectified. The Trans-Ural factories are hemorrhaging vast amounts of tanks and rifles along with every other kind of item to fight a war. The coming offensive will have half of the remaining veteran tank divisions, which are currently being brought up to strength, and almost half a million veteran men along with another million and a half that are either fresh from training or had fought only in minor skirmishes; however the veteran tank forces being committed might be half of the remaining veteran tank forces in the Soviet Union but they will only comprise a third of the overall attacking armored units. The rest will be green as grass men and boys, straight from training, in vehicles right off the production line. Zhukov would lead with the veterans’ forces while the inexperienced forces will be a strategic reserve and to assist the more experienced men as they advance. But a new weapon will be put into effect. Testing had proved that the Katyusha rocket launchers were effective in terror bombing along with shock and awe. They can and will cause significant damage en masse. This will be the first time the weapon will be used on a large scale. Intelligence reports that the Soviets would outnumber the Axis forces but not by a huge margin the Red Army was used to, however only about a quarter of the forces in the Ukraine were German, the rest were a mixed bag of Italian, Hungarian, Slovakian, Romanian, Ukrainian and fascist volunteer units from across the world, some from the United States, others from Britain and France and many others. If Zhukov reached Kiev he would be satisfied. The capital of the National Republic of the Ukraine was not only where the National Republic was born but was a major manufacturing center for the National Army and was a transport hub for the Axis. If he captured it or at least surrounded it the Ukrainians would be forced to rely on the Germans even more than they are and the weight of supporting that large of an army along with their own (and helping their other allies in varying degrees) might just break the Germans back in the Ukraine, which will affect their position in the Soviet Union in general. The only downside to the whole operation was the severe lack of air protection. The Red Air Force had not yet recovered from the Meltdown. Due to the Meltdown and the ensuing German offensive Operation Gray the Red Air Force had lost thousands that were destroyed, a little over a thousand that had captured by rebel forces (most of these now form the backbone of the Ukrainian National Air Force), and another thousand had been so damaged that they were practically unusable and were dismantled. By the time Scythe would be launched the Red Air Force would have enough air squadrons to contend the Luftwaffe’s air superiority, at least in the local airspace Scythe would take place in. The offensive is to take place in late May/early June.

    December 3rd, 1941- The Entente has finally set a date for its offensive into Sweden. It will begin on March 13th, 1942. Another 50,000 Entente troops are sent to Entente held Norway along with sufficient air support and some of the elite armored forces of the British and French expeditionary forces arrive in Oslo. These elite forces will be fielding the new and powerful Chamberlain and Crusader tanks. (*The Chamberlain tank is the exact same as the Churchill tank but when the first prototypes were being made Chamberlain was still Prime Minister and he was never voted out of office, he died in office due to his cancer, when Halifax took over some suggested the name be changed to Halifax tank but Halifax wanted to honor chamberlain's memory so kept the name to Chamberlain tank. (Remember Churchill is not Prime Minister or even War Minister, he is First Lord of the Admiralty).

    December 5th, 1941- At a high level conference meeting between the French and British Air Commands both agree that their previous policy of ‘wait for the Germans to wear themselves out in the East’ is utterly stupid. The Entente Air Command proposes large scale bombing of western German to damage the German industry there and to pull Luftwaffe forces from Sweden to weaken the German air coverage there. The politicians disagree and both sides have to compromise. The bombing campaign will recommence in January but will be almost exclusively night time bombing. This will damage German industry slightly but not as much as day time bombing however losses are predicted to be much lower for the Entente aircraft which the politicians deem acceptable and the military is glad to finally be able to launch some form of attack on the German Fatherland again.

    December 6th, 1941- German intelligence, noticing the buildup of Entente forces in Norway informs the General Staff. Von Manstein, who is in Berlin helping with the formation and planning of Case Orange suggests to Field Marshal Keitel to send Lieutenant General Walter Model with a full strength panzer division (for keeping it simple let us just say a panzer division is around 300 panzers) and sufficient motorized attachments, three mountaineer divisions, three infantry divisions and an artillery brigade along with a dozen fighter squadrons.

    Keitel agrees that Model should go, he is a good choice for the defensive war the Germans and Swedes intend to fight, but Keitel cannot divert this large of a force from Case Orange. Model will go north to Sweden but his force will consist of an under strength panzer division (this will be about a 130 panzers, mostly IIIs with some IVs and IIs), not full strength. There is also only to be two mountaineer divisions and a single infantry division, the artillery brigade and seven fighter squadrons. Another two veteran infantry divisions, currently rebuilding and receiving new recruits, will be sent to Sweden but these will be some months until they arrive. Model will be sent in early January when his command structure and rough patch of forces are assembled and ready.

    December 7th, 1941- A German freighter carrying vital supplies to the troops in Sweden is torpedoed by a British submarine, the latest one yet, half a dozen had already been sunk the past three months. The Royal Navy submarine would escape as German screening forces had been thinned out for Case Orange. When informed Grand Admiral Raeder of the Kriegsmarine detaches a score of torpedo boats and pries away two destroyers from Case Orange to assist the Swedish Navy in filling the gap the Entente was taking advantage of in the Baltic Sea (Case Orange is involving much of the Kriegsmarine and the Swedish Navy's responsibility was growing to protect the Baltic Sea and it just does not have the numbers for it). New orders go out from Raeder and the General Staff to increase daily/periodical sweeps of all approaches from the North Sea/Atlantic to stop any more British or French submarines.

    December 8th, 1941- After heavy losses in the North Atlantic for the German U-boats, and the rising freighter losses carrying valuable material to the Northern Front, the German General Staff decide to expand/recode the Enigma machine, to make it harder to intercept and decrypt. Whether these efforts will work or not is unknown. The British ‘Ultra’ team had cracked every new German code yet. Upgraded U-boats are also on the way to tilt the balance of the Battle of the Atlantic back into German favor with new technologies, particularly the new technology from the Dutch called the snorkel. This device would increase U-boat effectiveness while out hunting for Entente shipping. Relations between the Netherlands and Germany had increased significantly throughout 1941. There was a time when it seemed like the Germans would invade but that was before the Soviets invaded first and Germany has tried very hard to get allies or at least good relations with its neighbors. The snorkel design was sneaked over by Dutch fascists to Germany and from there the Germans are creating their own version. The Dutch remain, overall, stubbornly neutral to either side (the snorkel was given to Germany by Dutch fascists, not the Dutch government), Belgium was still on very good terms with the Entente but also remained neutral and Luxembourg is just there hoping not to be attacked by either side.

    Field Marshal Walther Wever of the Luftwaffe, arguably the second most powerful man in the German air force sat at his desk with reports across it. He studied each and every one. Some were reports of issues with the FW-190. Those issues were even now being fixed in the factories of the Reich as he read that. Another paper was of a newer and improved Ural Bomber, the He-179: a four engine bomber with a stronger engine, longer range, a heavier payload and better defense armament, a prototype had already been built and tested successfully it was awaiting approval for mass production (as much production as the Luftwaffe can give to bombers since fighters still receive 90% of the Luftwaffe production). This would be the successor to the aging Junkers 89. He knew this would be approved, Hitler and Göring would gladly have a longer, more powerful bomber and Wever would make sure both of them did not interfere with the production to complicate the bomber. Wever looked at a report of the current strength of the Fallschirmjäger and nodded in approval, they would be in important in Orange and those three divisions were about to receive new and improved weapons. Another report, buried under a mound of paperwork, had caught his attention. At the bottom was the signature of General Adolf Galland, Inspector of Fighters for the Luftwaffe. With a look a curiosity on his face Wever pulled the paper out from the bottom. In a few short paragraphs Galland captured Wever’s imagination; a year ago Galland had been promoted to Inspector of Fighters and had been overseeing the development and testing of new aircraft designs. It seems his efforts were bearing fruit. The document before Wever described a new fighter design all together combined with the infant jet technology, Wever had heard about a semi-successful test flight of a jet engine about a year ago but that it had a large array of problems ranging from high fuel consumption to faulty mechanical issues, Wever heard rumors the project was being shelved so existing and more practical designs could be focused on. Galland however had other ideas. He insisted that the fighter, if given the budget and time to produce effectively would dominate the skies even more so then the Luftwaffe was currently doing. This would be the future of military aviation. Wever could feel it in his bones. He co-signed the document and would pass it up to Göring and eventually the Führer would receive it to. If this new fighter turned out to be good as Galland claimed then the Reich would benefit greatly from it. He glanced at the name of the fighter again. It was called the Messerschmitt Me-262 “Swallow” jet fighter. Wever nodded. If the jet technology turned out to be successful for fighters than Wever could only imagine what that technology could do for long range, strategic bombers. He smiled imagining a third Ural bomber design in the future with jet engines.

    (*The Heinkel He 179 is essentially the He-177 of OTL but with vast improvements in the engine, design of the plane, with increased speed, longer range and better armament over the Junkers Ju 89 with a more than adequate armor protection. This is due to a better design process which eliminated many of the problems that plagued the He-177 early in its lifetime and with lessons learned from the Junkers Ju 89. The Me-262 is receiving heavy attention and budget early on here but jet technology is still new and there are many kinks in the engine and design process. It will take another year, at least, until we see Me-262s on the battlefield. This Me-262 will of course be better than in OTL because of the focus on making it a jet fighter a priority, not a jet dive bomber as Hitler wanted it to be in OTL, and a large budget with Galland and Wever leading the way convincing the Luftwaffe and the German government to provide the resources and material for the project).

    December 29th, 1941- Japanese intelligence confirms the weather is getting slightly better in Siberia and will be getting better very quickly, well enough for White Tiger to be launched soon. Japan wants to launch this offensive quickly, take the territory that will satisfy the Japanese Empire and switch their focus to the West and the United States. Scrap metal and oil shipments from the United States had gone down in quantity and frequency. President Roosevelt is slowly convincing Congress to stop all trade with Japan due to its mass murdering policies in China and its obvious intentions for the rest of the Pacific and Asia. Japanese Imperial Command gave it six months to a year before all trade between Japan and the U.S. would cease and the British and French would follow soon after. This cessation of trade would butcher the Japanese industry, the industry that fed the Empire’s military and all her ambitions. If and when the cessation happen analysts’ predict Japan has 8-12 months worth of resources before her industry bleeds dry. For Japan to grow stronger and to be off the dependence of foreign nations it must take for itself… with a storm of steel and fire.

    January 12th, 1942- Lieutenant General Walter Model arrives in Sweden with his forces and quickly sets up an intertwined defense system with the Swedes and begins laying plans and policies to inflict as much damage on the Entente as possible with minimum casualties on the Axis.

    In the United States President Roosevelt is approached by a group of scientists who claim that if given the resources and money can produce a bomb significantly more powerful than any normal explosive. A single bomb for a single city they tell the American president. Roosevelt, who had been informed of this type of potential weaponry in late 1939 by the Einstein- Szilárd Letter and even approved of some minor research into it but it never got off the ground, is impressed with the idea once again but knows however that he cannot give the scientists the resources they need without involving Congress and Congress, having a large amount of Republicans, would cancel any proposition to fund the scientists the hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars they would need. Roosevelt expresses his sympathies and explains the political and financial situation to the scientists; he states he will try, behind closed doors, to get Congressman on his side to approve of the research and development for an atomic bomb but it might be quite a while before that becomes a reality and must be carried out very discreetly. Many of the scientists were from Axis aligned nations that had to leave due to race, ethnicity, religion, politics or values are shocked. They know a war is coming, surely as Roosevelt does, but realize that while Roosevelt is powerful he does not have the authority to approve such vast amounts of money to a project that may or may not work, especially one where the start-up program had begun and did not go anywhere costing tens of thousands of federal government dollars. The scientists, led by Enrico Fermi and Leó Szilárd leave sulking but know that they must continue their research to the best of their abilities until Roosevelt has the political clout to push the scientists plan into getting approved by Congress. If and when this could happen is anyone’s guess.

    January 16th, 1942- Mussolini, along with his generals and admirals, put the final pre-offensive phase into operation. Orders will be issued, troops will be put on standby status, planes will be fueled, armed and ready to fly, and Italian ships begin patrolling the Mediterranean in preparation for Caesar. Mussolini stick out his formidable chin to his assembled officers, “Now is our time,” the officers nod in agreement.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
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  12. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 12: Caesar

    Italian private Adamo Bernardello looked at the floor of the transport plane. The vibration of the engines made the whole plane throb as it flew over the Mediterranean. The seventeen other men plus the crew chief waited patiently and silently until the co-pilot turned around and spoke to the crew chief. Adamo was near the front and heard “…over the target…” but the rest was lost to the throbbing engine noise.

    The crew chief turned around and looked at the assembled paratroopers. “We are over the target! Remember your objectives are to eliminate their air to air guns and secure a foothold on the northern part of the island. If forced to withdraw destroy any and all equipment the limeys can use.” The light next to the door turned green. “Okay go, go, go!” The first two men jumped out of the transport plane and then it was Adamo’s turn. He stood in the doorway looking out seeing a vast black sea below with a bright moon and clear sky revealing stars above him. Horizontal to him was another plane that he could just make the outline of. In the black sea flashes of light appeared: AA fire. The flashes were almost directly below Adamo. He braced himself and jumped out of the plane to follow his comrades. AA fire slashed through the air hitting some planes, downing a few and killing troops who simply exploded when hit by the cannon rounds. He slowly made his way down (his parachute opened when he exited the plane) in what seemed like a lifetime but could not have been more than a minute or so. With the ground rushing he braced himself and he landed at a good angle. He undid his ‘chute and clutched his rifle. “I’ve made it,” he said smiling to himself. The island seemed so hard to hit, if he hit water instead of land there was a good chance he would have drowned with all the weight he carried. He looked around where he was. There were some houses with machine guns firing from them towards his general area with already two dead Italian soldiers on the ground with another paratrooper running for cover who got hit and killed instantly judging by how he fail and the lack of a scream.

    Adamo ran for a small stone fence and dove for cover. Overhead transport planes continued to drop Italian paratroopers on the British controlled island of Malta.

    January 23rd, 1942- Italian paratroopers, in the early morning, land on Malta and Crete in the morning hours of January 23rd. Out of the 4000 paratroopers assaulting Malta about a thousand landed in the sea and drown, the troops landing over Crete (3500) about 400 are dropped in the ocean and drown. Greece petitions to be part of the Entente and this is accepted immediately; France and Britain declare war on Italy and vice versa. After intense combat Italian footholds are secured on both islands (northern Malta and western Crete) while Italian naval ships and aircraft hunt across the central and eastern Mediterranean for Entente ships with Italian naval and air forces sinking over thirty Entente freighters/transports on the first day alongside a French cruiser and a pair of British destroyers that were in the middle of naval exercises off the coast of southern Greece.

    The Royal Hellenic Navy (the Greek Navy) is heavily damaged in port by Italian planes. The two battleships, five destroyers and four submarines are sunk or made unseaworthy. The rest of the fleet (One cruiser, nine destroyers and two submarines) sail for Alexandria, Egypt where the large and well supplied British naval facilities can repair much of the damage in a few months if left undisturbed. Italian bombers and fighters raid much of south-eastern France especially the ports. The bombings/raids on the French ports cause extensive damage to some, especially to the port of Marseille but to ire of the Italian Royal Air Force there are few warships in these ports (Just days earlier most of the French Mediterranean Fleet left port to go to the Atlantic to assist the British with the persistent U-boat problem). The French lose another cruiser (light cruiser) and moderate damage to one of the battleships and light damage to half a dozen more naval vessels. The Italians however lose twenty eight bombers and thirteen fighters (they sent over a hundred bombers and a hundred twenty fighters for these raids).

    In Italian Albania 450,000 men with over four hundred Italian tanks (predominantly the Fiat M13/40 medium tanks with the rest being made up of Fiat L3s, Fiat L6/40s and Fiat M11/39s and a small number of M14/41s) supported by artillery and air support cross over the Italian Albania-Greece border. The Greek border defenses are quickly defeated but the Greek armed forces are already responding to the invasion with orders to army units from across the nation to go west to stall the Italian advance. Italian fighters and bombers devastate Greek airfields in western Greece and do moderate bombings of Athens and other major cities.

    In Egypt Field Marshal Archibald Wavell, Commander-in-Chief of the Middle East (British forces) responds quickly to the Italians Operation Caesar by sending a dozen squadrons of the Royal Air Force to assist the Greek defenders. He also commands the Lieutenant General William Gott to assemble armor and infantry forces sufficient enough to assist the Greeks. This new army will be called the Eleventh Army and will be transported to Crete and the Greek mainland as soon as possible (when the forces had been assembled and supplied and the sea lanes secured by the Royal Navy). The British Eight Army will remain in western Egypt to deter the Italian Tenth Army. Over Egypt itself there are minor skirmishes between the Italian Regia Aeronautica and the Royal Air Force with the British Spitfire demonstrating its superiority over the Italian planes. The British Hurricane makes up the majority of the British planes in Egypt as North Africa was peaceful territory and considered only as a secondary front if war did come and would have been in the foreseeable future so the deadly Spitfire is in Egypt only in small numbers (most are in France and Britain). Between the ground forces in Egypt there are some artillery firings, skirmishes, raids and sniping by marksmen on both sides but no major offensive by either side. Britain is caught off guard and has to assemble an effective defense and to assist the Greeks before they can consider an offensive into Italy’s Libya. On the Libyan-Tunisian border it is almost a mirror copy of the Egyptian-Libyan border. The French are even more unprepared in Tunisia but the Italians are not focused here at all. The Italian Fifth Army was forced to send large contingents of its armored forces to Albania for the Greek invasion and a good quarter of its infantry went to the Egyptian-Libyan border as the British are currently seen as the larger threat.

    By the end of the day the Greek cities Corfu, Zagoria and Ioannina and many more fall to the Italians. In a message from Hitler to Mussolini Hitler congratulates the Fascist dictator on making his offensive against the Entente. Hitler is privately glad that Italy was now fully into the war (not halfway by sending divisions only to the Eastern Front but at peace with the West) for various reasons but mainly because with Italy causing mayhem in the Balkans, the Mediterranean and North Africa the French and particularly the British would be focused on that as their biggest problem and have to send men and resources to the Mediterranean Theatre that otherwise would have gone to Norway or to assist in the bombings of German cities (German intelligence knows the Entente plan to resume their bombings of western Germany soon they just do not know the exact date).

    January 24th, 1942- On Malta Italian infantry start to land in large numbers on the northern part of the island and slowly, through heavy loss of life, push the British back across the island. British aircraft from the island and long range support from British Egypt contest the Italians for air superiority but this is a losing fight, especially over Malta and the Greek mainland. Only over Crete are the Royal Air Force and Hellenic Air Force still maintaining relative air superiority with the Italians with both sides losing dozens of planes throughout the day.

    On the Greek mainland Italian units, using blitzkrieg tactics learned from their German allies and through experience from the Eastern Front pummel the Greek forces into slowly retreating eastward. Despite the heavy assaults the Greeks are not breaking and are executing organized withdrawals and performing an elastic defense causing high casualties among the Italians while maintaining the core strength of the Greek forces. The Italian air force has near complete air superiority over the Greek mainland. The few surviving Greek squadrons are fighting valiantly to maintain some semblance of aerial resistance but their numbers are rapidly shrinking. Some RAF squadrons fighting over Crete are sent to the mainland to jump-start the Entente aerial defense in the area.

    In Yugoslavia King Peter II, the monarch of Yugoslavia calls for the highest levels of government and the military to convene in council to the king. Former Regent Prince Paul, the king’s father’s cousin, is not Regent anymore as Peter II turned 18 (he came of age) but he is still highly influential in the government and a close confidant of the Yugoslavian King. The Yugoslavs are divided on what to do, some wish to join the Axis, others the Entente but most want to remain neutral. The Banate of Croatia, the autonomous Croat province of Yugoslavia, is the leading voice of Axis membership and internally within the Banate is the rapid rise of the Ustaša (the Croatian Revolutionary Movement) in the Banate province is causing the province to become more authoritarian and right wing. Talk of outright independence of Croatia from the Kingdom of Yugoslavia is becoming more and more vocal and vehement. Kerkira and Kozani (in Greece) fall to advancing Italian infantry as the sun sets below the horizon.

    January 25th, 1942- A large French bomber force protected by half a dozen fighter squadrons, flying out of French Corsica, bomb the Italian city of Cagliari on the island of Sardinia. The damage is widespread with hundreds dead and thousands wounded; the Italian Army and Air Force facilities in the city are heavily damaged. Italy has begun creating a radar coverage system built on the German model but this is in its infancy and focusing on major cities only. Sardinia is virtually uncovered and only a few interceptor squadrons are based on the island. Mussolini is forced to send a few more squadrons to dissuade the Entente air forces from enacting another raid over the island, at least for the time being. Mussolini puts the Italian economy on a Total War Mobilization footing and within months the Italian factories will be producing more and more planes, tanks, armored cars, rifles and much more.

    January 26th, 1942- In Berlin, under the suggestion of Reichsführer-SS Himmler and Reichsprotektor of the East Heydrich (Heydrich was promoted to this position in mid 1941, moved from his position in Bohemia and Moravia to take command of all SS units, not Waffen-SS, in Poland, the Baltic States, Belorussia, Russia and the Ukraine), Hitler decrees that all Jews in the Reich shall be transported to German occupied Poland and that all Jews in Poland shall build their own self contained ghettos in cities. SS, military, and government/Party officials begin rounding up and processing all of the Jews in the Reich for transport to Poland. All of the Jewish property, money and valuables will be held “as payment for the Reich allowing the Jews to live as residents in Germany for so long” and the Jews are huddled into cattle car trains, packed to the full extent, and shipped east in terrible conditions (thousands will die on the transit east). Policies against the Jews and other undesirables in not only Germany but all of the Axis member nations is becoming more and more harsh and anti-Semitism is on the rise not seen since Hitler came to power in 1933.

    (Remember Slavs are considered sub-Aryan if they are of a pure white/Caucasian heritage with no Jewish ancestors or obvious genetic and/or mental/physical defects. So in the East the Polish, Belorussian, Russian, Ukrainian and the Baltic population are considered Aryan/sub-Aryan, especially the Baltic States, are treated much better than in OTL with the ROA, Russian Liberation Army, a large auxiliary force of the Wehrmacht who while pursuing their own interests under ‘Supreme Commander’ Vlasov are a loyal ally of the Germans. The Ukrainians have their own nation and military and are a full member of the Axis. The Baltic States are under joint German military and local government cooperation, Belorussia is under German occupation with local fascists help governing the territories and the German policy is to promote good relations between the Slavs and the Germans to plant seeds of Belorussia in becoming a future German province of the Reich, similar to what is being planned with the Baltic States. In the East the Slavic population under German/Axis control is generally loyal or neutral to their new rulers; Stalin is and still considered worse of the two evils and these Slavs assists the Germans in rounding up Jews and other undesirables).

    Across the Baltic States, Belorussia, the Ukraine and German controlled Russia tens of thousands of Jews are transported west to Poland while thousands more are shot on sight by SS Einsatzgruppen death squads throughout the countryside in mass graves, assisted by local Slavic fascists/racists. Hitler, on the radio, announces to the world that “the Jews are being transported to Poland to form their own communities and live their own lives away from the German people.” The Entente condemns the action but their protests are not as loud as they could be while the United States condemns the action more vocally but this does not affect the Axis policy at all.

    Malta is finally cleared of all British resistance. The Italians lose over four thousand men taking the island while the British lose less than 900, the remaining 2100 men surrender; many are wounded in varying degrees. Most of the Italian troops on the island will be sent to Crete where the offense there had stopped all together and is actuallybeing slowly pushed back by the Greeks to the surprise of the Italian General Staff. The Italians will leave almost 3000 men on the island (Malta) with sufficient supplies in case the Royal Navy surrounds the island and defeats the Italian Navy and Air Force and blockades the island.

    January 28th, 1942- In Alexandria Lieutenant General Gott has assembled the Eleventh Army (40,000 men with supporting armored forces and motor vehicles). The Royal Navy has secured passage to southern Greece (the Italian Royal Navy is not in strength east of Crete) and the transport of the Eleventh Army to Greece has begun.

    January 29th, 1942- Italian forces take Larissa and Volos but the approach to Lamia has been stalled by Greek defenders. The first elements of the British Eleventh Army land in Athens, eastern Crete and Kavala to cheering Greek crowds and will within hours be in combat with the Italians.

    January 30th, 1942- The Italians forces are still advancing but at a much reduced pace and with heavy casualties due to the British tanks and infantry. The British Chamberlain and Crusader tanks far outclass anything the Italians have. The only reason the Italians have not been routed is due to the Italians carrying Italian built, German designed Panzerfaust’s, albeit older models which are crippling/destroying many British tanks, and that the Italians are continuing to slowly establish complete air superiority over Greece and Crete despite the valiant Greeks and the highly trained British pilots.

    February 2nd, 1942- The entirety of the Eleventh Army has landed in Greece and it is the only thing holding the Italians back as the Greek Army has suffered heavy casualties since the invasion and the Greek Navy and Air Force were virtually destroyed (in the Navy’s case they are not combat ready due to the extensive damage done by Italian bombers and surviving elements are in Alexandria under repair while the air force has been thoroughly butchered). Mussolini dispatches another 50,000 men to Greece to combat the British.

    February 3rd, 1942- Noticing the severe lack of success of the current versions of Italian armor against British armor Mussolini, with permission from German manufactures, begins building Italian versions of the 50mm armed Panzer IIIs for use in the Italian Army. They will be built in Italian factories but for every panzer made the Italians will pay a small fee to Germany (built under license). This is just a stop gap measure. Mussolini orders his tank designers to make a better, more modern tank to combat the Entente superior armored forces. Various designs are around but none have been seriously tested. It will take months for prototypes to be built and thoroughly tested. It will be some months before the Italian built Panzer IIIs, renamed Titans for administrative reasons to distinguish between German Panzer IIIs and the Italian version of the III, will be begin rolling off Italian assembly lines.

    In the USSR the first four NKVD Army divisions (Beria's Brigades) are declared ready for combat and sent west towards Smolensk (situated in the city itself and just north of the city). Stalin already has five more beginning training just outside Moscow. The distrust between the Red Army and the NKVD Army grows daily. Both ground forces do not like the other. The Red Army sees the NKVD Army as political lackeys and the NKVD see the Red Army as not sufficiently loyal to Stalin.

    February 9th, 1942- In Siberia the weather is clearing up very quickly and the Japanese are putting their forces in final pre-offensive positions.

    February 11th, 1941- Italian forces, through heavy fighting, take Lamia and advance onto Athens. The Italians are leaving their flanks open to attack and Gott will take advantage of this.

    February 12th, 1942- British armor elements with infantry and motorized units attack the south-west flank of the Italian drive to Athens. British forces, though few in number, rapidly cut off almost 25,000 Italian troops who are forced to surrender and destroys an entire Italian tank division. The drive is becoming successful beyond all dreams and Gott is having trouble getting enough men to keep the drive going forward, if he thins out his own flanks of British men and replaces them with Greek soldiers he runs the risk of himself being cut off and the Greek soldiers are numerically, physically and mentally exhausted after heavy fighting since the 23rd and would not be ideal soldiers in an offensive drive.

    February 14th, 1942- Gott is forced to stop his drive. He had caused immense damage but his focus of British forces in this area allowed other areas to fall to the Italians (Thessaloniki in eastern Greece) but after this city fell British and Greek defenses east of the city have solidified making any attempt by the Italians to push past the city near impossible.

    February 15th, 1942- In Moscow Stalin approves the latest version of Scythe and the resources allocated to the operation. Scythe will be launched on June 3rd, 1942 with a force of 3700 tanks and two million men supported by over fifteen hundred aircraft of all types (the Yak-1/Yak-7/Yak-9 and MiG-3 are the main fighter types of the Red Air Force with the Pe-2 bomber having replaced the Tupolev SB bomber as the main bomber of the Soviet Union. A newer and more advanced bomber the Tupolev Tu-2 is beginning mass production but will not have significant numbers until mid 1942.

    February 17th, 1942- On the Eastern Front German Panzerjäger (tank hunter/armor hunter aka “tank destroyer”) units begin arriving in force to supplement German panzer and infantry divisions for Fall Orange. German tank destroyers had been around since 1940 but were never mass produced (as they were in OTL) as the focus was on normal panzers (IIIs and the IVs) but with the III becoming increasingly outdated the German High Command decided to mass produce the StuG III tank destroyer. Built on a Panzer III chassis and given a 75mm panzer-killer cannon the StuG III had proven immensely capable but only now was it being deployed, en masse, to German panzer and infantry divisions whereas before there were only a moderate amount. It was cost effective and carried immense firepower. Not only was the StuG III becoming mass produced using older Panzer III chassis but a new tank destroyer, fresh from the assembly lines, begin rolling in the snowy plains of Russia: the Hornisse (Hornet), a tank destroyer built on a chassis combining Panzer III/IV elements and carrying an 88mm cannon capable of piercing a T-34 and even a KV-1s armor in one shot (usually). The Hornet is the first purpose built, from the ground up, tank destroyer in the German Army. The other tank destroyers were originally other tanks which became outdated but their chassis’s were put to good use making Panzerjäger's.

    February 19th, 1942- Counter-attacks by Italian armor and air forces has forced the British to not only retreat to their pre-February 12th lines but even further south. The outskirts of Athens has now come under short range artillery fire and the Greek capital is bombed daily with the RAF still flying sorties in defiance of the Regia Aeronautica’s attempts at air dominance.

    February 20th, 1942- Elefsina falls to Italian forces leaving the north-western flank of Athens open. Italian troops begin entering Athens from the north-west and are being bogged down in the street-to-street fighting. British armor, the main thing defending Greece, cannot operate in the city effectively allowing Italian infantry who are superior in numbers if not in training to slowly push the Greeks and British out.

    Gott wants to pull out his troops from the Greek mainland, or at least Athens, to perform a better defense and not leave his troops and tanks bottled up for the possibility of being surrounded but the political situation does not allow this. If he withdrawals than the Greeks may well surrender and the faith in the British Army across the Entente and the world will suffer; no he must fight on, as long as he can.

    February 24th, 1942- British reinforcements to Greece are more like replacements to those that died then actual reinforcements meant to increase British strength there. Gott is demanding more men and tanks but Field Marshal Wavell is hesitant. He cannot divert any more troops and tanks from the Middle East to Greece without significantly weakening British forces in Egypt and in turn the rest of the Middle East (Britain is still in the process of sending troops to North Africa but with Malta gone and the central Mediterranean in the firm hands of the Italians and the eastern Mediterranean a warzone with rising Entente freighter and smaller warship losses the transport of large amounts of men and material through the Mediterranean is out of the question. The reinforcements from Britain will have to go the long way around, around the bottom of Africa (passing by the British dominion of South Africa) and pass the Horn of Africa to reach Egypt via the Nile. This will take a long time, especially with German and Italian submarines patrolling the mid-Atlantic looking for any convoys, transports or warships to sink (they are meeting little success here but the threat alone is slowing British response).

    For a week Greek/British troops fight for every street in Athens, block by block, house by house with casualties on both sides in the thousands and ever growing. Despite this Gott is now becoming confident of maintaining a defense in southern Greece, the far eastern portion of the country, and Crete long enough for large scale reinforcement from Britain via Egypt. And from there he can launch a counter offensive and push the Italians out and quite possibly to invade Italian Albania. He looked at the tactical maps before him and listened to the radio chatter about his mobile command in central Athens and nodded with admiration. With blood, sweat and, toil the British Army might yet win the campaign in Greece.

    His confidence was growing as the reports continued to flood in of repeated stops of Italian offensive and the destruction of large amounts of Italian armor and infantry units. It continued to grow until his adjutant walked to him briskly, pale faced, and handed him a report. Gott read it. Once finished he slammed his hands upon the folding table sending a glass of water to the ground, shattering. “Damn the Bulgarians!” he snarled.

    February 27th, 1942- For weeks Bulgaria had watched the progress of the Italian invasion of Greece and despite the heavy casualties the Italians had suffered they had taken large swathes of mainland Greece and taking Malta was a huge victory for the Axis. With the Italians distracting the Greeks and the British, Bulgaria which had been leaning towards the Axis for years, finally joins the Axis Powers on February 27th, 1942 to gain economical and military benefits of joining the Axis and some Greek territory. Hours later the Bulgarian government, headed by Prime Minister Bogdan Filov, declares war on Greece and the Entente. The Bulgarian Air Force and Army cross the Bulgarian-Greek border which had been stripped of most of its defenses to fight the Italians in the west. Bulgarian troops advance quickly due to lack of defenders and quickly reach the outskirts of Kavala by sunset.

    February 28th, 1942- Not to be outdone Turkey (remember Turkey has become increasingly militaristic and the military is quickly becoming the de facto government in the country) invades the far eastern tip of Greece as a “peacekeeping mission”. The Turks did not declare war; rather they intervened and took over a portion of Greek territory. Turkey does not join the Axis nor declare war on the Entente. The Entente does not declare war on Turkey because the Turks share a border with French Syria and British influenced Iraq. If they did declare war on Turkey, Turkey would assemble its forces (which had increasingly become modern due to the reforms initiated over a year ago and was over six hundred thousand men, far outnumbering local Entente manpower) and invade these Entente territories which would send the whole balance of power in the Middle East out of control.

    March 2nd, 1942- Italian and Bulgarian forces meet up west of Kavala. Famous photographs and film of the two sides meeting will be spread throughout the Axis nations as propaganda. With eastern Greece secured tens of thousands of Italians and Bulgarian troops arrive in southern Greece to push the British out once and for all. Gott is determined to hold but he may or may not be able to do this. Only time will tell.
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  13. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 13: A Tiger Unleashed

    Colonel Ryan Andrews, of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, walked into the office of Major General Douglas MacArthur and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army. MacArthur was looking out the window as Andrews walked in. Morning sunlight illuminated the room. The heat and humidity of the Philippines would not become prevalent for another few hours but the idea of that heat and humidity alone wished Andrews was back at Pearl Harbor, on the beach with a pretty blonde sipping coconut juice.

    Andrews saluted his commanding officer and waited at attention patiently. MacArthur in his painfully plain uniform continued to look out the window at the rising sun which was the color of blood. He finally turned around and gestured for Andrews to stand at ease and to take a seat in front of his desk. Andrews did so.

    Instead of taking his own seat MacArthur walked to the large map of the Pacific and eastern Asia on the opposite side of the room. The Empire of Japan colored in orange, the USSR in red, with much of China in various colors of the warring factions. The U.S. controlled islands a green color, the British a dark blue and the French light blue. The Philippines were a faded green as they were under the protection of the U.S. military but not an actual U.S territory.

    Without preamble MacArthur began, “A war is coming, Andrews. Whether the fools in Washington want to believe it or not. This ‘Tiger’ of Asia,” he said pointing at the Japanese Home Islands, “has become warmongering. Intelligence believes the buildup of Japanese forces in Manchuria will invade Soviet Siberia shortly; their disposition and the amount of time they had been in northern Manchuria only confirms this belief. Against my better judgment our State Department has tried to warn the Soviets discreetly but those damn Reds don’t believe anything we say and they are more focused on the Germans for good reasons. I have received reports that they are beginning to send adequate forces to reinforce Siberia because it is practically void of trained men and heavy equipment but whether or not they are prepared for the Japanese onslaught… well we will see. I believe the Japanese will invade and more than likely conquer enough of Siberia to deter Soviet retaliation, especially with summer coming around on the plains of Russia. Stalin will be too busy worrying about what Hitler will do to even turn his attention on what Hirohito is doing.”

    “But sir, surely the Japanese cannot defeat the Soviet forces there,” nodding at Siberia, “true their forces have been weakened to reinforce the Eastern Front but the Japanese aren’t white men, they do not have the gall or the willpower to invade a country of such size and power as the Soviet Union.”
    MacArthur turned around, his famous pipe sending smoke into the air, “You are blunt, I will give you that, Andrews. But I have men that have studied the Japanese for years, their way of life, military and their code of honor. Colonel Fellers you know him?” Andrews nodded, “Fellers is under the impression that if the Japanese backed out now they would lose honor and that is the thing they hold above all else, even their Emperor who is a god unto them.

    "Andrews, war is coming and we must be ready. Assuming the Japanese win or at least stalemate in Siberia the Soviets are too preoccupied to do much there for years, if ever. Once their objectives are secured the Japanese will look elsewhere.”

    “Here, sir?” Andrews said incredulously. “We have thirty thousand United States Army men along with two divisions of Marines and over a hundred thousand Filipino soldiers. They would be insane to attack here. Especially with the Navy at Pearl along with British and French forces in the Pacific and Asia as well.”

    MacArthur smiled. “I understand your feelings, Andrews, but we must be ready. The Filipino’s are poorly armed and trained. Our ground forces, Marine and Army together, number 50,000 but the Home Islands are much closer than the United States. They can send as many men that are required to take the Philippines. If they do, the south-west Pacific will fall to their Navy and Army. I am under no false illusions that we could indefinitely against the Japanese. However I aim to make them bleed for every inch of soil on these islands.

    "That is why I am authorizing you to fortify the Philippine Islands, particularly Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Manila will be act as a fortress as well. I’ve enlisted the assistance of the Filipinos in this manner, they will supply the manpower while you and your men direct the construction of road blocks, and the placement of mines along with having all the bridges rigged to blow with explosives if need be. I want anti-tank positions everywhere and supply caches in the jungle, hidden for use by any of our soldiers or Filipinos that are caught behind enemy lines so they can harass the enemy. I have requested Washington to send more troops and supplies. I do not think more troops will arrive in time but I am confident the supplies I requested will be.”

    “What are those supplies, sir, if I may ask?”

    “You may. The new M1 Garand rifles for our boys first and if possible for the Filipinos as well. More machine guns, mortars, mobile artillery, AA guns and the anti-tank rocket launcher, the uhh bazooka, yes that’s it. A new weapon designed to destroy enemy armor; I’ve heard rumors that production and development was sped up to catch up with what the Germans are using in Russia. More squadrons of the Army Air Force are due to arrive in a few weeks along with an entire tank divisions comprised of mainly Stuarts but with some of the new Sherman tanks. The Japanese Imperial Army and Navy may very well take these islands but I intend for them to remember this place not as an easy conquest but as a hellhole,” MacArthur smiled crookedly and despite his own misgivings about the Japanese Andrews smiled back, determined to execute his orders.

    March 4th, 1942- Major General MacArthur, U.S. commander of the Philippines, petitions Washington D.C. for more supplies, weapons, and reinforcements to the Philippines. Roosevelt agrees and begins sending supplies and weapons. Troops however will not be forthcoming for a while as there is no draft due to the United States of America being, currently, at peace and this causes the U.S. military to be somewhat stretched. Colonel Ryan Andrews of the United States Corps of Engineers begins fortifying and building defenses across the Philippine Islands; the Japanese take careful note of this.

    In Greece Italian and Bulgarian troops continue to push south but British defenses, using the rugged mountainous terrain, are making the Axis forces bleed for every centimeter. Gott’s demand of more reinforcements from Egypt has been granted by Wavell but not enough to satisfy Gott as the troops that arrive are only replacing losses and not significantly enlarging his forces for a counter-attack; Wavell is still reluctant to weaken British held Egypt in fear of an Italian drive here. The Italians on Crete are forced to dig in as the lion’s share of troops and material are sent to the Greek mainland. The few reinforcements the Italian troops on Crete received were not enough to push past the determined Greek/British defenses. As of now only the western half of Crete is under Italian control with the eastern half remaining under the Entente for the foreseeable future.

    March 5th, 1942- The German Heinkel He-179, the second bomber of the Ural Program, begins mass production. Göring is ecstatic and brags to Hitler that these new bombers will destroy Moscow and the Soviet will to fight. It remains to be seen whether this is true or just a braggart’s wishful thinking.

    In Tokyo the Japanese Imperial Command decides to launch White Tiger. This is spurred on for numerous reasons. The Soviets had begun reinforcing Siberia in large amounts of out-of-date equipment from the Eastern Front (older model tanks and planes deemed unworthy for the fight against the Germans. Soviet industry in the Trans-Ural has reached a point to where they can send the better stuff west against the European Axis while the older, out-of-date models of tanks and planes can be transported east to Siberia where they will be more effective as Red Army and NKVD intelligence has known for almost a year of potential Japanese incursions into Siberia and have amassed almost 350,000 men (the 100,000 that was left when 300,000 were pulled to the Eastern Front and 250,000 reinforcements throughout the winter months of 41/42 that came in bits and drabs.

    These have very little in the way of training, many were drafted, trained to shoot and sent to the Far East where under officers there are finishing their training albeit not as efficiently as they could (the Far East is considered a third rate position and many of the officer corps and noncoms here are the dregs of the Red Army, half trained, unmotivated and more than likely drunk in varying degrees to pass the cold days of winter in Siberia. (Also not all of these 350,000 men are on the Manchurian-Siberia border; some are in Mongolia, Tannu Tuva and the interior of Siberia). Prime Minister Tojo, de facto leader of the Japanese military controlled government sends a telegram to Manchuria to the commander of the Kwantung. Tojo orders Lieutenant General Yamashita to launch White Tiger on the 8th of March.

    Lieutenant General Tomoyuki Yamashita, commander of the Kwantung Army in northern Manchuria read the dispatch paper again; a rare smile touching his lips. He looked at the men around the table, drinking tea with him.

    “Honored Generals and Colonels, I have received word from Japan, by the grace and approval of the Emperor, along with the signature of Prime Minister Tojo we can commence White Tiger. Gentlemen, warriors of the Empire and the Emperor, go to your units and prepare. We shall attack in three days. We are warriors, we are fearless, and we are ready. Now go.”

    The officers around the table stood up and bowed to their superior. The confirmation “Hai’ echoed throughout the room. As the men left Yamashita poured himself saki. As he sipped it he felt pleasure. Not at the drink but at the coming of the war; after almost a year Japan would launch its invasion of the Soviet Far East. The Imperial Army would shatter the Red Army and take the Soviet cities while the Imperial Navy would destroy the Soviet Pacific Fleet. Yamashita drained the remains of the rice-alcohol in his cup and went to prepare for the coming offensive, confident of victory.

    March 8th, 1942- Japan launches Operation White Tiger:
    The Combined Fleets of the Imperial Navy attack and entirely destroy the Soviet Fleet at anchor in the port of Vladivostok. Japanese naval fighters and bombers strike with the rising sun of the 8th at their back. The entire Soviet Fleet is either sunk or so heavily damaged as to be made unseaworthy in the first two waves of Japanese aircraft. The third wave bombed Vladivostok itself, destroying Red Army, Red Navy, and Red Air Force military bases, airfields, installations and communication hubs causing widespread chaos and disruption throughout the Soviet forces in the Far East. Thousands of Soviet sailors, soldiers and civilians die in the early hours but this is only the beginning of the Japanese onslaught.

    The Soviet Combat Air Patrol (CAP), patrolling over the border and Vladivostok is annihilated within an hour and scores more Red Air Force planes on the ground were destroyed by Japanese Zeroes. The Japanese Navy would sail close to Vladivostok to finish off the few Soviet ships that had not sunk and would bombard the port and the eastern half of the city, from a safe distance, for hours killing thousands more. The naval planes would also assist in this terror bombing enabling widespread panic amongst the Soviet populace with Red Army, NKVD and police units trying to halt the chaos in the streets and failing. Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of the naval ambush of the Soviet fleet would be congratulated by the Emperor Himself later that day via telephone.

    On the Army side 850,000 Imperial Japanese Army men supported by 350,000 Manchurian soldiers, 600 tanks of various types and 700 aircraft (the Navy used 300 on the coast and to take out the Soviet Pacific Fleet) break through the Soviet defenses all across the Manchurian-Soviet border. The Soviets, who had been on a state of readiness, fight bravely but the Japanese and their Manchurian puppets are too many and concentrated while the Soviets are spread out across the long shared border (most are near Vladivostok though).

    The Manchurian troops, poorly armed, trained and led, are used as human bullet sponges and swarm Soviet machine guns with hundreds dying but sparing the Japanese from taking immense casualties. Using these tactics forward Soviet positions expend most of their ammunition while the Japanese divisions remain at full strength. Japanese Army Air Service planes harass/damage Soviet armor and troop concentrations as Japanese tank units are breaking through defensive works moving towards their first day objectives. The only thing keeping the Soviet front from collapsing all-together is the small amount of T-34s and KV-1s, which despite being only a fraction of the available Soviet armor (most are older 30s models) are accounting for the most kills against the lightly armed and armored Japanese tank units.

    March 9th, 1942- Stalin angrily orders some Soviet divisions from the Caucasus and the Southern Republics to the Far East to combat the Japanese aggression. This leaves the rebelling factions in the Caucasus and Southern Republics, which had gone underground since the months following the July Meltdown, to once again raise the flag of rebellion. The Soviet forces in the area are better armed and trained than the rebels but thin on the ground, especially in the Southern Republics. Stalin cannot divert more troops to either the Far East or to the Southern Republics as Scythe is fast approaching and he is focused on that. Reserve divisions and one of the NKVD divisions stationed north of Smolensk are pulled from the front there and sent to the Caucasus to quell the rebelling forces there. The Caucasus region is too important economically and strategically to allow rebellion to linger that is why it takes predominance over the Southern Republics. The NKVD division pulled from the Smolensk area, designated the 2nd NKVD Infantry Division, will arrive in the Caucasus within a week and will enact a reign of terror and martial law amongst the populace killing thousands whether they be rebels, sympathizers or merely bystanders.

    Japanese forces enter the outskirts of Vladivostok (the Navy had stopped firing upon the city as the Army approached). The fighting from both sides is fanatical and a ‘take no prisoners’ policy is quickly becoming the norm of the Soviets while the Japanese felt that way from the beginning with over three thousand Soviet prisoners executed already as evidence of that belief.

    March 10th, 1942- In Washington D.C. the American Congress authorizes the cancellation of trade with the Empire of Japan. No more tin metal, crude oil and the like will go from the United States to the Japanese. President Roosevelt condemns the Japanese for the invasion of Siberia and not only begins sending more material to the Philippines and other U.S. controlled islands but plans to send more U.S Army and Marine forces to better defend American territory in the Pacific but this will take time. The Japanese Imperial Command and government expected this eventually but not so soon with discontent and hatred of the United States is growing by the day. But the Empire cannot take on the American Giant at the same time it is tackling the Russian Bear. The Americans can wait… for now.

    March 11th, 1942- In Berlin Hitler comes to the realization that April 22nd as the launch date of Fall Orange is unrealistic. He reluctantly moves the date to June 10th as German units would be better supplied with the torrent of new weapons being produced in German factories. These include the FG-42 (a compact 20 round light machine gun to be carried by paratroopers almost exclusively as only so many could be produced for the launch date of Orange, even with the operation pushed back there will not be enough FG-42s to go around the three divisions of Fallschirmjäger), the G42 (the G42 is the exact same as the G43 but the need for a semi-automatic weapon is much greater ITTL and the Germans actually go ahead and produce multiple prototypes with the G42 selected and approved early 1942. The G42 is being mass produced but are currently not in large numbers and most of the ones made are given to the Fallschirmjäger as their role in Orange is very important and they are promptly given the best weapons available as soon as possible), the MG-42 (the same as OTL) and newer, more powerful versions of the Panzerfaust alongside the new anti-panzer rocket launcher the Panzerschreck begin arrving to frontline units throughout the Eastern Front. However the Panzerschreck is even more limited than the FG-42 and the G42 in numbers produced with most given to elite mechanized infantry to better assist panzer and motor units in the coming offensive.

    Captain Theodore Hamilton rode on the surface of the Chamberlain tank as it rumbled eastwards towards Axis controlled eastern Norway. British and French infantry, he took notice of the lack of Provisional Government troops (most are being used to enforce martial law in Provisional Government controlled Norway and as reserve troops) alongside Entente tanks and motor vehicles, advanced towards the front. Artillery rumbled behind him and the Axis trenches in front of him became hammered by shrapnel and explosive. He could hear the screams of men in front of him. Over head planes of the Entente air forces and the Axis clashed into individual dogfights as luck and skill allowed some to survive and continue flying while others died and crashed into a wreckage littered ground.

    Hamilton checked his Enfield for the umpteenth time as he held onto the tank. The commander, whose head was above the cupola, looked out across the battlefield. The commander looked back and forth, suddenly his head swiveled to the right sharply. A second’s pause; “Panzer at two o’clock, it’s a bloody Panzer IV!” He bent back into the tank and Hamilton could hear him, albeit barely, “McCullough, armor-piercing.” “Yes, sir,” was the reply. The tank commander poked his head back out, “Get off, captain. We are about to duel with that Jerry!”

    Hamilton nodded in reply and respect as he jumped off alongside his own men, some of who rode the tank and other vehicles as well but all were getting off as the battle truly began. Hamilton and his men jumped into a ditch where a truck bearing the Swedish flag was rolled over and on fire. He looked up and saw the Chamberlain he was riding earlier fire its 75mm cannon at the German panzer. The enemy panzer took the hit in its sloped frontal armor and stopped. At first Hamilton thought the cannon round punched through but it did not, the round merely angled off due to the sloped frontal chassis. The enemy panzer turned its own cannon towards the Chamberlain.

    The panzer fired its own 75mm. The German round nearly hit the British tank but hit a tree splintering wood and throwing shrapnel all over. One of Hamilton’s men was hit in the thigh and his cries echoed around the foxhole. The Chamberlain fired again and this time the 75mm cannon pierced the German frontal armor and the panzer began to smoke its crew dead or dying. Hamilton yelled in primal exultation as with the panzer destroyed Axis forces in the local area retreated eastwards with Entente forces scrambling to catch up with the British and French armor. He looked at Chamberlain to congratulate the tank commander but stopped short as he saw the commander leaning back, half his body over the left side of the cupola with a large splinter of wood piercing his throat and blood flowing freely over the steel. Hamilton’s only hope was that the tree splinter killed him quickly. Sighing he continued to move towards the enemy.

    He stopped suddenly as artillery, close to the front, fired amongst the Entente forces, particularly at the tanks. German 88s, he snarled. Those damn tank-killers destroyed half a dozen Entente tanks before they too retreated but they had wrought their destruction and left with all their guns intact. Hamilton gathered his men and they ran forward.

    March 13th, 1942- The Entente launches its offensive from central Norway against the Axis forces in eastern Norway. The Entente may outnumber the Axis but the Axis are dug in and determined to defend eastern Norway and western Sweden fanatically.

    Entente forces advance relatively easy until German 88s fire their armor-piercing rounds amongst Entente tank units causing heavy destruction and casualties. The British and French continue to advance but German led Axis forces fight an organized, effective withdraw. Lieutenant General Model intends to abandon eastern Norway but not without a fight. He will lead a defense and withdrawal from the scarred Norwegian country to western Sweden. But the Swedes have not been idle. Fortifications, panzer-traps, bunkers and the like are concentrated on the Swedish-Norwegian border, leading all the way across the country, through every major city, until Stockholm itself.

    In Greece the front has stabilized as Gott throws in his last reserves of infantry and tanks into the fray to hold the fragile frontline. Mussolini and his generals realize how thinly stretched Gott is and plan to capitalize on this. Already reinforcements from Italy are arriving in northern Greece alongside significant forces from Bulgaria. The fate of Greece is in the balance, eastern Norway is once again an active combat zone and in the Far East the Japanese invasion of Siberia was further destabilizing faith and trust in Stalin and Communism and the Japan’s actions has completely broken all diplomatic relations between the United States and the Empire of Japan.

    The radio speaker of the evening news segment BBC announced to the world in gloomy tones, “The world continues to delve deeper and deeper into madness. We are truly in the midst of hell. May God save us from ourselves.”
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  14. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 14: Plans of Death and Destruction

    March 15th, 1942- Japanese forces swing north of Vladivostok and cut off the city from Soviet reinforcements and supply. Throughout the front Japanese forces continue to steadily advance at a heavy cost. Soviet T-34s and KV-1s are still forming the backbone of Soviet resistance but Japanese air superiority is slowly but surely finding and destroying the Soviet armored units. Sakhalin, which witnessed quick but intense combat, is completely taken by Japanese troops. Before the Soviet troops were forced to surrender they destroyed as much heavy equipment and fuel reserves as possible. This action will deprive Japan of the fuel from Sakhalin for nearly 8 months, further depriving the Japanese of much needed fuel since the U.S. cancellation of trade.

    March 16th, 1942- Japanese marines and Army infantry land in multiple locations across Kamchatka. Despite the eight days of warning and heads up the Japanese are still able to land sufficient troops and push inwards. The Soviets were spread too thin to do much. The Soviets retreating to the inner parts of Kamchatka begin planning a guerrilla movement in case they are cut off from supply.

    March 17th, 1942- The Entente forces, after much blood spilt, finally push Axis forces out of eastern Norway and begin to enter the fortress that is western Sweden. Commander of the Entente offensive, General de Gaulle, is demanding more troops and supplies from France and Britain. However these demands are falling upon deaf ears as the politicians of these countries warily look at their own populace which is becoming increasingly erratic and unsatisfied with the war. Also North Africa is in the process of being reinforced, diverting critical elements of men and material from de Gaulle.

    March 18th, 1942- In Greece Mussolini orders his commanders to launch two consecutive drives against the British/Greek forces. Mussolini realizes he needs to take Greece quickly before the considerable reinforcements from Britain arrive and make Greece a stagnant front.

    March 20th, 1942- Italian troops and tanks force assault British/Greek forces in south-eastern Greece. They make solid progress but are quickly stopped by the reinforcements of British troops Gott held in reserve. With these troops committed in the south-east Gott has no effective reserves now. Mussolini and his generals plan to take advantage of this.

    March 21st, 1942- Elite mountaineer units and extra infantry divisions arrive in Crete to the dismay of the Entente forces on the eastern half of the island. RAF units strafe the transports killing dozens but no serious damage is done.

    March 23rd, 1942- Italian forces, secretly amassed by night over the past week, slam into British and Greek defenses in south-west Greece pushing the Entente defenders back, calls for reinforcements are sent to Gott’s headquarters but Got has no reinforcements to send. The unexpected assault and the overwhelmingly superior numbers of the Axis are threatening to break the entire Entente front.

    March 25th, 1942- Athens falls to the Italians, sending shockwaves through the Entente forces as morale, especially the Greeks, begin to plummet. With Athens gone and the Axis forces relentlessly advancing in south-west Greece and slowly encroaching in south-east Greece has forced Gott to make a choice. Retreat back to Egypt and save his Eleventh Army or stay and hope for the best. As he is still deciding Gott is informed that the Italian forces in Crete have broken through due to their recent reinforcements and Crete is in the process of falling completely to Italy. Gott’s decision was made for him: he orders an evacuation of all British and as many Greeks as possible to Egypt.

    March 26th, 1942- Royal Navy warships, transports and any and all seaworthy vessels in Greece still in Entente control begin loading up with soldiers and civilians. The Royal Air Force arrives in strength from Egypt as Wavell knows he needs all the troops possible for the defense of Egypt and send most of his RAF units to cover the evacuation. All attempts by Italian fighters and bombers to break through the RAF air coverage ends in failure.

    March 29th, 1942- Vladivostok falls to Japanese troops. The Rising Sun flies over the Soviet city. In Moscow Stalin is shocked and outraged. The troops he had ordered east are not quite where they need to be due to Japanese bombardment and sabotage of the Trans-Siberia Railway.

    March 30th, 1942- In Nationalist China Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Nationalists, begins rebuilding his shattered military through large scale efforts. The Japanese offensive of 1940 had broken the back of the Nationalists and the biological weapons killed over two million further depriving him of potential recruits and instilled fear into the Chinese of the Japanese Empire. But with the Japanese busy in Siberia Kai-shek believes it is time to rebuild for a future offensive against the Japanese controlled eastern and northern parts of China. The British and French are quietly supporting his rebuilding efforts with weapons, supplies and advisers to effectively instruct and train the growing Chinese Nationalist Army.

    The Royal Navy is able to evacuate 35,000 British soldiers and almost 50,000 Greek soldiers and civilians before their positions become overrun. With mainland Greece under the control of the Axis Crete is the last bastion of serious Entente forces and these are evacuated by the last transport ships in the late hours of the 30th. Gott, his men, and all those that they could save, will arrive in Alexandria later that night. Defeated but not demoralized. Gott and his Eleventh Army are amalgamated into the existing Eighth Army. Sadly Gott is blamed for the loss of Greece and delegated as a garrison commander of British forces in Iraq. This will be a grave mistake by the British, particularly Wavell who endorsed the humiliating post to better cover his career prospects.

    April 4th-5th, 1942- The Entente Bomber Command begins the bombings of western Germany by night. Over 500 bombers supported by as many fighters hit key industrial and communication hubs in western Germany. The early radar system allowed Germany to send dozens of squadrons of FW-190s and Bf-109s to intercept the Entente aircraft but due to the attack being at night successfully shooting down enemy planes was very difficult. German AA fire added to the defense of German cities and factories. The bombings went on throughout the night and as the morning sun rose on the 5th the Entente had lost 51 aircraft with hundreds damaged in some small way. The Germans lost 24 planes but light damage to German factories and industrial areas but more damage had been done to German residential areas causing hundreds to die and thousands to be wounded. Hitler is infuriated and orders Göring to send more fighter divisions to the west. Göring is forced to reduce the amount of squadrons in central and eastern Germany to send to the west.

    (The bombing might not have done much damage to German industry or morale it will be a constant assault from here on out. The Entente will sometimes bomb in consecutive nights or sometimes wait a week to bomb again to throw off the Germans. The consistent bombing will reduce German industry to varying degrees in the Ruhr and force the Germans to leave hundreds and hundreds of fighter aircraft in western Germany instead of other Theatres were they are also much needed.)

    April 8th, 1942- Khabarovsk falls to the Japanese Empire. The city had held out longer because the Japanese had focused their best forces against Vladivostok but with that city had fallen to Japan and the Japanese were able to concentrate their forces to the next major Soviet city. Kamchatka completely falls to the Japanese but intense guerrilla warfare will cost the Japanese dear for years.

    Japanese Imperial Command now turns its attention to the port city of Magadan; the last of the major cities within easy Japanese reach. Japanese naval aircraft conduct round the clock bombing of the Soviet city killing hundreds.

    April 10th, 1942- After Axis discussions about Greece led by Italy, and also attended by Turkey, the fate of Greece is decided. Most of Greece will be annexed directly into the Kingdom of Italy, with Bulgaria and Turkey receiving the lands they occupied during the campaign. With Greece dealt with Mussolini begins sending troops, material and weapons to Italian Libya. But where to strike? West against the French or east against the British. He and his General Staff will decide shortly.

    April 11th, 1942- The Soviet reinforcements to Siberia have stalled any further advances by the Japanese in the interior but on the coast the Japanese from Vladivostok continue to advance as the Imperial Navy and Army Air Services hammer the Soviet positions that remain between Vladivostok and Magadan. Imperial Army infantry spearheaded by armor and the pitifully few motorized units advance on the Soviet city. If Magadan falls than all of the Siberian coast will belong to the Japanese Empire.

    The Soviet forces sent to the Caucasus to replace the troops sent east are making their presence felt with thousands of confirmed and possible rebels arrested and executed. The rebel forces here, which were scattered and not very well led or equipped, are either quickly eliminated or have gone back into hiding waiting for an opportunity. The NKVD division sent however enacts random carnage, destroying entire villages. These troops are not regular army men enacting martial law or weeding out possible dissent; no these are murderers, butchers, thieves and other criminals given weapons and training due to their loyalty to Stalin’s regime. They are under orders by Beria to terrorize the population to the point where rebellion would seem unthinkable. The NKVD Army division is very effective at this and instills a fear amongst the populace not seen since the days of Imperial Russia and the Black Hundreds.

    April 17th, 1942- Zhukov arrives in eastern Ukraine for the bolster of morale and to personally oversee the preparation for Scythe. He is pleased and sends glowing reports to Moscow. Thousands of tanks and aircraft, millions of men are ready for the first great strike against Fascist Ukraine and their German overlords.

    On the Axis side Field Marshal Wilhelm List, commander of the German forces and overall commander of the Axis forces in the Ukraine, notices the buildup of Soviet forces opposite of him. He informs Berlin but with Case Orange fast approaching the General Staff can only send the newer and more deadly Panzerfaust models, a few of the 50mm armed Panzer III divisions and some Panzer IVs but not enough to satisfy List. He orders the already stout defenses on the frontline to be reinforced and expanded. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian peasants are conscripted and do the work gladly. If the Communists broke through the Axis defenses much of the Ukrainian population would be killed man, woman, and child for supporting the Ukrainian National Republic or because they didn't resist against it.

    April 19th, 1942- Himmler reports to Hitler that the mass deportation of Jews in Germany and German/Axis occupied areas to Poland is proceeding as planned and that over 200,000 Jews and other undesirables have died due to sickness, starvation and occasionally executions.

    April 20th, 1942- Entente bombers and fighters focus their efforts against Münster destroying many civilian buildings that had been around for centuries and killing/injuring close to a thousand civilians. The Bishop of Münster Clemens August Graf von Galen would lead the relief effort spiritually. The Catholic Bishop may be very anti-Nazi but he is a German patriot who will assist those injured in the Entente bombings.

    German engineers present Hitler with the blueprints and even prototypes of two new panzers. One will not only be the match but superior to the T-34 and the other would have the thickest armor yet on an armored vehicle and an 88mm cannon. Both prototypes have massive deficiencies as of yet but these are slowly but surely being worked out by the Reich's engineers. Vice Minister Speer informs Hitler that the new panzers will be ready by early next year with much improved models than the prototypes before him.
  15. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 15: Reaper of Men

    April 25th, 1942- Japanese forces have reached Magadan from the south. With complete air superiority and numbers the Japanese are slowly but surely pushing the Soviet forces north by north-west out of the city.

    April 27th, 1942- Japanese led Manchurian troops advance into eastern Mongolia and the Soviet led Mongolians are slowly pushed back. There is very little air support here from either side.

    April 28th, 1942- Japanese marines land in eastern Magadan ports via small boats and transport ships. These troops assail the Soviet eastern flank and shatter the Red Army defensive line in multiple locations with thousands of soldiers and civilians surrendering with hundreds machine gunned by cruel Japanese soldiers.

    April 30th, 1942- Field Marshal Wavell, commander-in-chief of British forces in the Middle East, orders the Eighth Army staff to plan future offensive operations against the Italian Tenth Army. British forces (the troops that remained in Egypt and the Eleventh Army that was amalgamated into it after the Greek campaign) begin preparing to strike into Italian held Libya. Italian forces have spent over two years fortifying the Italian colony and are preparing for the ground assault as their own reinforcements arrive from Italy and the recently conquered Greece. Air to air combat increases to levels not seen in North Africa with dozens of sorties and small dogfights across eastern Libya And western Egypt with the British racking up a better score.

    The first few squadrons of the Heinkel-179 (the second and vastly improved second Ural Bomber) are formed and flown to western Russia where they will be put to use in future operations soon.

    Admiral Yamamoto, commander of the Imperial Combined Fleets, looked at the generals and admirals surrounding the operations table. The map before him was of the Pacific with all the major islands shown along with their respective owner. The Pacific was full of islands owned by the French, the British, and the Americans. All of it will belong to the Empire of Japan of that Yamamoto was confident.

    With the Soviet Union losing in the Siberia and Japanese forces quickly establishing strong defenses there once Magadan finally falls, the Empire was looking elsewhere. The Americans were fortifying the Philippines that was confirmed by naval intelligence. Japan needed to strike soon before the Pacific was so difficult that the Empire would bleed itself dry in the attempt.

    Yamamoto was Japanese, a man of honor, a warrior but he was honest enough with himself to know that if Japan bled her armies’ dry taking the Pacific and leaving the U.S. Navy intact he predicted Japan would lose the war in less than a year. But, he thought as he looked towards the Hawaiian Islands, if the Imperial Navy dealt a mortal blow to the Americans, then maybe just maybe Japan and her Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere could survive and even prosper. The Japanese generals and admirals began their planning of the next phase of Japanese expansion.

    May 3rd, 1942- American soldiers begin arriving in moderate amounts to their Pacific bases and controlled islands. The Japanese duly note this. In Yugoslavia King Peter II is hounded from both sides to join in one way or another. The Entente put pressure on him despite knowing full well they would not be able to back up their claims of military and financial support due to Italy and other Axis Powers nation bordering the diverse nation.

    Peter II calls for a massive assembly of the wealthy, the military and political leadership and the nobility to discuss the future of Yugoslavia. Italian representatives are 'invited' and watch with the threat of their military might hanging over the Yugoslavian assembly like a shadow of death. The Germans are also 'invited' and the threat of the Germans carries more weight than the Italians.

    May 16th, 1942- After thirteen days of arguments and counter-arguments the situation of Yugoslavia is resolved. Yugoslavia will join the Axis Powers with nominal independence. Croatia will cede from Yugoslavia and form its own country (the Independent State of Croatia) and it also joins the Axis Powers as a full fledged member. Parts of north-western Yugoslavia (bordering Italy) will be ceded to Italy, the territory surrounding Italian Albania will also be annexed by Italy. Yugoslavia and Italy will have special trade agreements that favor Italy. Germany and Yugoslavia do the same. Yugoslavia's industry will produce weapons and supplies for Italy and Croatia. Peter II will remain as king but his government will be run by a coalition of fascists and right-wingers.

    Peter is depressed by the turn of events but consoles himself knowing that no blood was shed in the dismantling of Yugoslavia.

    June 2nd, 1942- Soviet forces prepare for Scythe that takes place on the 3rd. Axis intelligence (thanks to Soviet defectors and spies) notices the Soviet forces gearing up for the operation and puts their own forces on high alert. Aerial skirmishes increase radically over the next 12 hours.

    June 3rd, 1942- Operation Scythe is launched from the eastern portion of the Ukraine the Soviets still control. Over two million troops and 3500 tanks advance west in the Ukraine. Soviet Katyusha rockets terrorize and spread fear throughout the Ukrainian defenders causing a tremendous shock and awe effect. Red Air Force aircraft combat the Ukrainian National Air Force and the other Axis air forces here (Romanian, Hungarian, some Luftwaffe elements, the small remainder of the Italian air force remaining in the East and even a few Slovakian squadrons) to a draw in the air with scores of aircraft destroyed within hours.

    Soviet infantry and tanks break through the stout Axis defenses and advance steadily westward in multiple locations particularly towards the Crimea (Zhukov wants to desperately form a connection to the entrapped Soviets here to give them supplies and for them to give him an extra 310,000 men (70,000 had died since the Soviets here had become cutoff from the rest of the Soviet Union). Soviet bombers of all types protected by hundreds of escort fighters, hammer downtown Kiev killing thousands and destroying vast stockpiles of weapons, food and ammo for the National Army to a vast, but to Zhukov’s disappointment, but not to a critical extent.

    Both sides forgo the taking prisoner policy which since the beginning of the war had been more or less ignored but was now not even being attempted. Hundreds that are captured are immediately killed by their captors. A policy of “fight to the death” is permeating the battlefield. Soviet troops enact death and destruction to the Ukrainian Army but do not break to the dismay of Zhukov and his generals. The Ukrainians know what is at stake and are fighting an organized withdrawal west, sacrificing entire divisions to buy time for the Axis forces to prepare a counter-offensive.

    Field Marshal List holds his ‘small’ 250,000 German soldiers and 1000 panzers (mainly Panzer IIIs, panzer destroyers like the STuG III and the Hornet with a fair amount of Panzer IVs in the mix) in reserve along with the Romanian, Hungarian, Slovakian and the small detachments of Italian troops, being sent to the front to stabilize the line and slow down the advancing Bolsheviks. He is waiting for the opportune moment to deal a deadly blow to the Soviets that will stop this offensive in its tracks. Whether the opportunity will arise is anyone’s guess.

    June 8th, 1942- Soviet troops are within long artillery range of eastern Poltava, shelling commences almost immediately on the Ukrainian fortress-city (the Ukrainians have fortified all of their major cities to resist outside attack). Air superiority between the Axis and Soviets bounces back and forth every other hour. On the ground the Red Army continues to advance at a steady pace with much ground taken in southern Ukraine in the direction towards the Crimea. Axis forces are barely holding on to the territory between the advancing Soviets and the Crimean Soviets.

    June 10th, 1942- Supported by hundreds of IL-2 Sturmoviks (and other air support) along with concentrated armor thrusts the Red Army breaks through Axis forces in south-eastern Ukraine and surround, in various pockets, almost 60,000 Axis soldiers (which will fight to the death but almost all will be dead within a week) and their equipment. The Crimean Soviet soldiers and the advancing Soviets join forces north of Armyansk (northern Crimea). List is frustrated at the development but quickly regains his composure and orders the German reserve to move forward towards the front with 100,000 of the 250,000 Germans to remain behind along with the entirety of the 1000 panzers/panzer-destroyers. They will act as a mobile reserve.

    On the same day Germany launches Fall Orange against the Soviet Union. Over one million troops move towards Smolensk but instead of going straight east towards the Soviet city (the strategy Stavka informed Stalin that was the most likely) the million German soldiers divide into two separate formations, one moving north-east, and the other south-east. Within hours it is clear to the Soviets the Germans intend to surround Smolensk in a ring of iron eerily similar to what happened to Minsk. The Germans are supported by about a half million ROA auxiliaries.

    Almost three thousand Luftwaffe fighters take to the skies as nearly a thousand bombers of various types, hoarded for this operation; begin dropping high explosive and/or incendiary bombs killing tens of thousands in Leningrad, Smolensk, Kalinin, Kursk, and Moscow.

    German panzers and panzer-destroyers move east at a rapid pace but Soviet defenses are beginning to stiffen as the surprise of the offensive ebbs off. Soviet air power in the area is effectively destroyed as much of the experienced squadrons are participating in Scythe further south which are quickly ordered north but this will take time as the entire front has become a killing zone for aircraft of both sides.

    June 11th, 1942- German forces, having bypassed the extensive and deadly fortification of western Smolensk have nearly surrounded the Soviet city but the corridor between Smolensk and the rest of the Soviet Union remains defiant to German attempts to take the city.
    Zhukov flies from eastern Ukraine to Smolensk to lead the defense there. His arrival bolsters morale and the orders go out quicker but many privately wonder if Zhukov had arrived too late.

    June 12th, 1942- The newest version of the German Enigma code is being sent out to use by the various German forces in Europe. As of yet the British cannot crack it but given time they will, as they always have.

    June 13th, 1942- Lieutenant General Gott petitions the General Staff for him to be moved from the Iraq defense post as he feels he is wasted here (no threats since Turkey is technically neutral still). His petition falls on deaf ears thanks to Wavell who sees Gott as the British Army’s black goat. However by chance Churchill sees the petition and despite being the First Lord of the Admiralty he has enough political clout within the military and government to send Gott somewhere else.

    But not to Egypt as Wavell would diminish him in any way, nor to Scandinavia as Montgomery and de Gaulle have it well in hand (sort of). Gott, instead, will go to British Somaliland to command the British forces there to take the Italian colonies of Italian Somaliland and Italian East Africa (combat between the Axis and Entente in the area had been half hearted and barely done in the region due to lack of supplies, men and leadership. That will change with Gott’s imminent arrival) and to liberate Ethiopia which had been a semi-puppet of the Italians since 1936.

    Gott sees this as a chance to redeem himself for Greece (at least redeem himself in the eyes of his detractors as he knows he did as well as anyone could in the situation he was in). Besides if he can take the Italian colonies quickly enough he may be able to land a position in the Eighth Army before either side launches an offensive across the Libyan-Egyptian border.

    June 14th, 1942- Axis forces stop Soviet forces outside of the outskirts of Poltava but much of south-eastern Ukraine belongs back to the Soviet Union. Zhukov puts in reinforcements to replace those lost and orders the drive to continue.

    In Siberia the Soviet Union and the Japanese have settled into a stalemate as both sides have other priorities. The Soviets reinforcements that were sent east are spread throughout the Siberian front to stall/stop any further Japanese incursion.

    In Sweden Entente forces continue to advance at a precarious pace as Swedish/Norwegian guerilla fighters continue to wreak havoc amongst Entente logistics. Retaliation by the French and British are to round up 5 civilians every time a soldier is killed by partisans and executed by firing squad. This greatly angers the Swedish populace. Lieutenant General Model begins preparing for a counter-attack if possible but so far the Entente is wary of any potential Axis counter-attack and is sacrificing the speed of their advance for well protected flanks and an intact supply system.

    June 17th, 1942- German forces, having bypassed the extensive and deadly fortifications of Smolensk and its immediate surrounding area have nearly surrounded the Soviet city but the corridor between Smolensk and the rest of the Soviet Union remains defiant to German attempts to take the city. German aircraft continue to dominate local airspace over Smolensk but are slowly but surely losing the air superiority as fresh squadrons of the Red Air Force along with the reinforcements detached from Scythe.

    Zhukov flies from eastern Ukraine to Smolensk to lead the defense there. His arrival bolsters morale and the orders go out quicker but many wonder if Zhukov’s arrival was too late. Stalin orders the Kalinin Reserve and Moscow Reserve (250,000 and 300,000 men respectively) to move forward to the frontlines to stiffen the Soviet ranks.

    June 20th, 1942- Bulgarian infantry begins arriving in North Africa alongside the only significant armored force Bulgaria has alongside three divisions of infantry. These Bulgarian troops will be commanded by General of Infantry Theodosi Petrov Daskalov (who was about to retire when called into service for North Africa, he is an infantryman at heart but quick to learn the mobile warfare that will become North Africa. He is also selected due to his previous experiences with Italians when he was the Bulgarian military attaché to Italy in 1932-1934). The Bulgarians will be subordinate to the Italian commanders of the Italian Tenth Army. Another 20,000 Italian troops arrive in Libya making the Italian force over 290,000 and growing every day. Royal Navy and Italian Navy ships skirmish in the eastern Mediterranean to little avail. In the western Mediterranean the French Navy is sailing towards Italy to confront the Italian Navy to break the naval might of Italy. Mussolini, along with his admirals and generals, has contingency plans for such an event as this. Hundreds of modern aircraft located on the western Italian coast, Sicily and Malta prepare for the defense of Italy.

    June 23rd, 1942- With the Soviet forces heavily committed to the defense of Smolensk Hitler orders Phase II of Orange to commence. The German Kriegsmarine surface ships fire for hours upon Leningrad with their long range cannons and squadron upon squadron of bombers hit key centers in the Soviet city destroying much and causing panic amongst the civilian population and the Red Army troops in the city. The entirety of the German marine force (about 10,000 ITTL) along with a standard Army infantry division and two Waffen-SS divisions land north of Leningrad and south of the Soviet-Finnish border. These 40,000 troops encounter fierce but light resistance and within two hours have secured a formidable beachhead. As the German troops expand outwards to solidify their gains a Finnish/German force commanded by Lieutenant General Dietl and Marshal Mannerheim use overwhelming force over a ten kilometer front and break the Soviet forces in the south-eastern edge of the Soviet-Finnish border (the post Winter War border which the Soviets retreated to due to the July Meltdown and the events following that) (the Soviets are undermanned here and lack much heavy equipment, the Finns and the Germans however have assembled a small but lethal force of tanks and armored personal carriers to break through the Bolshevik lines).

    June 24th, 1942- The south advancing Finnish/German forces meet up with the German marine forces north of Levashovo. Soviet General Vatutin is demanding more men as his northern flank is being overrun and stretching his already exhausted forces even more. Stalin cannot send anything as the reserves had been committed to the offensive operations in the Ukraine and the defense of Smolensk.

    June 25th, 1942- The offensive in the Ukraine is prematurely canceled to begin sending some elements north to stall/stop Orange. Zhukov is relatively pleased with what had been retaken while Stalin is furious not all of the Ukraine had been recovered. Arguments between the two men over the phone will reach legendary proportions.

    On a bright note for Stalin and Beria the NKVD Army had performed admirably, despite losing 19,000 out of the 30,000 in the Smolensk area (remember there is a NKVD division in the Caucasus enacting a bloody purge of the countryside) the NKVD troops had enacted considerable damage on the Axis and had slowed the German/ROA forces on multiple occasions due to their fanaticism and disregard for their own lives, also they are well equipped, better than most Red Army units. Stalin orders Beria to increase the NKVD Army from this small nucleus to be 150,000 by the end of the year. Beria happily follows this order as it sees his power grow more every day, much more power than even Stalin realizes…

    June 26th, 1942- The third and final phase of Orange is commenced when three fully armed German paratrooper divisions land behind enemy lines south-east of Leningrad. These troops, armed with FG-42s and G-42s disrupt Soviet supplies and occupy many crucial road junctions and destroying dozens of railroad lines with demolition charges (the landings themselves were a semi disaster as dozens of transport planes were shot down and that the paratroopers were spread thin over a wide area but quick planning and adaption of the paratroop commanders prevented catastrophe and even enabled a successful completion of most of their objectives).

    The German forces on the western outskirts of Leningrad begin advancing but not due east but rather south-east mirroring the effect the German Army had done around Smolensk. The two German ‘hands’ have not quite met on the eastern side of Smolensk to trap the Soviet city. The Germans have tried multiple times to break the Soviet corridor but failed each time. The Germans continue to advance north and south but cannot push much more east than they already have in the Smolensk region.

    June 27th, 1942- The German/Finnish force from the north, the German pressure from the west and south and the German paratroopers wreaking chaos all over the countryside east by south-east of Leningrad forces Vatutin to do one of two things:
    1. Break out with all his troops and reach safer Soviet ground but lose Leningrad in which case he will be killed by Stalin for incompetence but the Soviet divisions under his command would be relatively intact or.
    2. Consolidate all forces available to him in Leningrad and weather the German storm and wait for a potential (and hopeful) counter-attack by the Red Army to relieve the city once Orange had been stopped, if it can.
    As the 27th of June came to a conclusion Vatutin made his decision. The order went out to all Soviet forces within a few days distance to consolidate/reinforce Leningrad which had ample stockpiles for a long siege.

    As the moon rose over the battlefields of Russia the Germans and Finns (along with some elements of the ROA) continued to advance in the north around Leningrad, had advanced rapidly in the center near Smolensk but were facing fierce Soviet determination which had slowed their drive to the east to just sputters of territory gained, and the south where the Soviets had to prematurely cancel their offensive to supply troops and tanks to the northern campaigns but had ‘liberated’ much of eastern Ukraine and more importantly the Crimea with its large detachment of Red Army troops. Whether Orange would be ultimately a success is very much unknown at this point.
    Old1812, Nerdman3000 and Jack Brisco like this.
  16. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 16: Black Water, Red Ground

    Major Gregory Jones waited patiently in the conference room. Rich, embroidered upholstery was all around him, causing him to feel out of place in his plain khaki uniform. The door opened up and the secretary for the lord looked out at the British Army major.

    “Major Jones, he will see you now.” Jones breathed out in expectation. Behind that door was one of the most powerful men in Britain. Jones walked through the open doorway, held by the secretary whom he nodded to on his way in. He walked through the secretary’s office to get to another set of doors which he opened himself and closed. He walked to the desk where First Sea Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill sat.

    The First Sea Lord looked up from the paperwork he was reading and smiled at Jones. “Damn fine work, son. Damn fine work,” he said hefting up the large amount of paperwork. “You and your team have done splendid work on cracking the original Enigma machine.”
    “Thank you, my lord. We got lucky; the SAS took the U-boat quickly, posing as a German maintenance force.”

    “Indeed. Tell me what happened, I’d like to hear a firsthand account.”

    “With the Enigma in our hands the SAS and my team were able to get back on the British submersible and get it to here in London. We have learned a lot from that U-boat. The Enigma machine was just the most important part, but we found out the details on their schnorkel, based off the Dutch designs and are beginning to implement it in our own submarines. The downside to having cracked their Enigma code is they have a newer version out… which will take time and effort to crack it. We predict four to six months and that is if everything goes accordingly to plan. We are looking at an eight to nine months to crack the code at the current rate.”

    Churchill nodded. “At least something is going fast and according to plan,” he said as his famously bulldog jaw turned grim.

    “Sir?” inquired Jones.

    Churchill sighed. “This whole bloody war is a damn joke. In Scandinavia we are advancing at a snail’s pace, nothing is happening in North Africa at the moment though Wavell thinks the Italians will be attacking soon. The French are only now sending their fleet against the Italians, after Greece had already fallen. The Germans continue to advance in Russia with the Italians consolidating Yugoslavia and Greece. France’s riots and protests are growing worse every day while our protestors and semi-fascists are simmering under the surface. The United States is remaining neutral despite all our pleas and only now, NOW in 1942 is the Entente Bomber Command hitting Germany with all their might consistently. It amazes me, Jones that a war can be run as bad as this one has. Between the Entente to the West and the Soviets to the East Germany and Italy should have been defeated by now. But the war has been going on for nearly three entire years and what have we to show for it?”

    “We have the southern half of Norway, sir, and de Gaulle and Montgomery report moderate successes in Sweden, albeit as you said at a ‘snail’s pace’. Bombings over western Germany have finally stayed constant as you were saying and reports say they are hurting the German industry there, especially in the Ruhr. And it is occupying a large force of Luftwaffe interceptors and fighters, planes they desperately need in other theaters. Trust me, sir, the Hun is tough and formidable now, but he is bleeding himself dry in the plains of Russia, the cold ground of Sweden and Norway and having to leave hundreds of thousands of troops on the Westwall and the other western borders along with significant air support has made them spread thin. We have not won the war as of yet, but we for sure have not lost it.”

    Churchill nodded. “Of course; democracy will triumph in the end, but for how much longer will this war last and through how much bloodshed we will go through only God knows. Now,” he said changing his mood, “tell about how you plan to crack this new code faster.”

    “Conventional means will, as I said anywhere from four to nine months, however, if we were to steal another as we did with the first Enigma machine it would greatly increase our efforts…”

    June 28th, 1942- Soviet forces around Leningrad begin consolidating in Leningrad itself making the already fortress-city into a near-impregnable bastion. Vatutin is also enlisting all boys over the age of ten and old men all the way up to 70 to help take up duties in the city to free up manpower for the frontlines. The same goes for women, except it is from the age of 16 to 60 that are drafted (throughout the Soviet Union it had been women 18-40 and men 15-65). (This manpower policy adopted by Vatutin will quickly be adopted by the rest of the Soviet Union once Vatutin informs Moscow).

    June 30th, 1942- Gott arrives in British Somaliland and the state of the British troops there appalls him, many are half trained local auxiliaries with barely a division’s worth of actual British Army men in the entire territory. Gott contacts the commanders of southern Sudan and northern Kenya to help mobilize the military there for coordinated, simultaneous attacks on Ethiopia, Italian East Africa, and Eritrea. Over ridding his own opinion of the French Gott contacts the local French commanding officer of French Somaliland who leads almost an entirely native volunteer force with barely three thousand French soldiers. The state of the Entente here was laughable but the Italians and their Ethiopian puppets were in even worse shape. Ethiopian rebels, loyal to their exiled King of Kings Haile Selassie, were feeding the Entente with invaluable information that Gott was disgusted to find had been put to little if any use. He will change that, by God he will.

    Within hours of assuming his command the first orders go out: New updates and information dispatches from the Ethiopian patriots are needed quickly while Gott scrounges up all the native volunteers alongside his own British men and begins a harsh, albeit necessary, training regime to get them back into something approaching fighting condition. It would be a few months before Gott deemed his troops and supplies were ready for what he was calling Operation Flint. But as he waited he would prepare. Gott needs to win here, needs to; to redeem his reputation and to be sent to more important theaters much quicker.

    July 1st, 1942- As Soviet forces continue their consolidation into Leningrad some armored elements (the last tanks units Vatutin has), which would be useless in the urban warfare of city defense, are sacrificed by Vatutin to buy more time for the entreating Soviets. Their sacrifice slows the Axis troops down long enough to squeeze in another 60,000 troops and civilians into the city, along with massive amounts of supplies and material.

    July 2nd, 1942- Leningrad is completely surrounded from all sides as German/ROA/Finnish troops have completed their encirclement, but taking the city is another matter. Almost 285,000 Soviet soldiers are in the city along with hundreds of thousands of civilians, all which could be used to free up the Red army men or to be conscripted into the Red Army and handed a rifle. The German General staff orders the encirclement but no farther as the Siege of Leningrad truly begins. Artillery and bomber aircraft are being sent in large numbers to bases near Leningrad to begin shelling the besieged city. The goal is to kill, terrorize, and demoralize the enemy. Much of the Axis armored elements here are directed south to assist in the taking of Smolensk.

    July 5th, 1942- Japanese forces reach and quickly take Ulaanbaatar: the capital of the People’s Republic of Mongolia. With the Mongolian city taken Japanese Imperial Command decides to stop their advance into the Soviet puppet, similar to what happened in Siberia as supply lines were becoming increasingly long and difficult to protect and maintain along with Japan’s ambitions were drifting elsewhere in the world.

    Meetings and planning in Tokyo of a plan to strike at the heart of American naval power in the Pacific is becoming more and more discussed and detailed. The Japanese, using captured Soviet civilians and soldiers, begin developing moderate trench lines and anti-tanks traps in critical locations across the frontline with the Soviets and focusing Japanese troops in those critical locations while Manchurian/Mengkekuoan (Mongolians under Japanese rule) defend the vast stretches of unimportant land. The Soviet prisoners, both civilian and soldier, are treated horribly and quickly dying as the harsh weather, hard work, Japanese soldier's cruelty, and lack of food takes its toll.

    German forces briefly close the gap between their “iron hands” around Smolensk for the first time but quick attacks from Soviet to the west and east of the interlocked German force breaks the avenue of relief open once more. Losses on both sides are heavy but the Soviet reserves from Kalinin and Moscow cover the losses with ease.

    Italian “Titan” tanks begin rolling off the production line in significant numbers. The Titan is the German Panzer III with slight modifications built on lease for Italy in Italian factories. For every Titan made Italy sends some credit/money to Germany. These tanks will be arriving in Italian Libya soon to bolster the near decimated armored forces there (Greece destroyed much of the Italian tank units).

    German officers, alongside other Axis commanders, survey and assess the Turkish military. The Turkish military, using leftover and outdated German military equipment along with German and Italian advisers helping train their forces, quickly advance from a third rate military to a large (and still somewhat outdated) second-rate military. The Turkish Army was close to a million soldiers; the Air Force had seen significant increase across all fields in terms of numbers and equipment. The Navy had advanced the least with only an addition of two destroyers, five submarines and a dozen torpedo boats. Turkey was not ready to join the Axis… yet, but that day was fast approaching as the military had effectively taken over the government with President İsmet İnönü becoming a figurehead. The Turkish Intelligence begins planting the seeds of unrest and rebellion in the Soviet territory bordering Turkey. Soviet command notices this but cannot stop it and has no solid proof that the Turkish government is the one supporting this action despite their rightful assumption. The USSR cannot go to war as it is fighting for its life against the Germans and having to keep a large force in the Far East. Local Red Army units begin strengthening their position against any possible attack.

    July 6th, 1942- For days the French Mediterranean Fleet had prepared and were now ready to engage the Italians head on in the western Tyrrhenian Sea north of French Tunisia and south of Italian Sardinia.

    The French fleet here consists of:
    1 modern battleship, all 5 old dreadnought class battleships, both carriers (a seaplane and aircraft carrier), 6 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 10 heavy destroyers, 16 destroyers, and 20 submarines.

    The Italian fleet here consists of:
    4 WW1 era battleships with extensive modernization, 1 modern battleship, 3 heavy cruisers, 10 light cruisers, 38 destroyers, 60 torpedo boats and 28 submarines, the remainder of the Italian Navy is in the eastern Mediterranean combating the British fleet there for dominance of the sea north of Egypt.

    The French are using air support flown in from mainland France that is being based on the island of Corsica for the coming battle. Also with the airfields of Corsica practically overflowing with aircraft the French Air Force is forced to fly sorties from southern France as well but these planes will only be able to fight for a short time due to the flight distance and the fuel consumed in the travel there and back. The Italians entire air force has been on high alert since the French fleet sailed from its ports in southern France. Hundreds of aircraft are prepared on the west coast of Italy with hundreds more being pulled from air bases in Greece, newly annexed parts of Yugoslavia, eastern Italy and Albania. If the French can defeat the Italians here most of the Italian navy would have been defeated and would leave western Italy and Sicily open to invasion and constant aerial attack. This battle would decide the fate of Italy in the greatest war the world has known.

    Knowing the danger of the French fleet and its air support Germany and other Axis allies send as many planes as can be spared, Germany contributes the most of 60 aircraft, most are FW-190s (newest version where most of the mechanical issues had been mostly fixed) and some Stukas carrying special torpedoes that can cruise just below the surface in a straight line to its intended target if aimed correctly and just close enough. Another 100 aircraft come to Italy’s aid in the form of aircraft from Bulgaria, Romania, the two reserve squadrons of Slovakia, and the few squadrons that Croatia was able to create from the planes ‘given’ to them by Yugoslavia.

    Aerial combat begins just south of Corsica and north of Sardinia with French bombers flying towards northern Sardinia to disrupt local communications and the radar installations there (Italy had begun building radar installations some time ago and were focusing on Rome and other major cities, especially on the western coats of Italy and Sardinia due to its proximity to French held territory). 30 French bombers escorted by 40 French fighters are attacked by an Italian air interception force led by German fighter ace Captain Erich Rudorffer who was a rising legend in the Luftwaffe at 128 confirmed kills (Rudorffer and his unit where in southern Germany for R&R and to receive new version of the FW-190 when Italy sent out a plea of help from its allies. Göring reluctantly released this elite German unit, the Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2) "Richthofen" with the approval of Hitler. Hitler sensing if Italy suffered a catastrophic blow then Germany would be forced to send more and more troops and material there that it just could not afford, so better to send some now than a lot later.

    The German/Italian force came down from on high with the sun at their back. In the first pass the Axis fighters downed six bombers and two fighters with only one loss (this plane, a German pilot, misjudged his speed and the speed of the craft he was shooting at so he was unable to evade the French bomber he was shooting at and collided with it from above).

    The first engagement of what will be known in history books as the Battle of the Tyrrhenian Sea was won by the Axis at the loss of only 12 fighters at the end of the skirmish, with the French losing 14 bombers and 11 fighters. The Axis may have claimed a good win here but the overall battle was just beginning.

    The French would launch over the next 24 hours 19 sorties of various strengths to test Italian air defenses and to wear them down. Some of these were clear victories by the Axis, others by the French; some were draws since no one could declare a clear victory. The French at this time had destroyed an Italian air base in northern Sardinia and damaged two more, significantly damaging Italian defense here. The French planes launched three sorties from Corsica to Rome and despite heavy casualties did manage to damage large parts of Rome’s industrial sector, killing thousands of civilians.

    As the sun went down the French launched a half dozen massive sorties over northern Italy, bombing Milan, Aosta, Turin, and Genoa; the damage ranged from light to moderate due to night bombing being usually inaccurate but it caused the Italians to divert some crucial squadrons north to deal with threat as the sorties were so large that the local Italian forces could not handle it. Interception and dog fighting between the French and Italians would continue throughout the night and into the early morning.

    By the beginning of July 7th, 1942 the French had so far lost 98 fighters and 112 bombers while the Axis had lost 77 fighters in the air with another 31 on the ground that were down for maintenance or such when the airbases in northern Sardinia and elsewhere were attacked. The French still maintained more numbers in aircraft to continue their current level of bombardment over Italy (the British had effectively taken over bombing of western Germany, freeing up hundreds of extra French aircraft).

    July 7th, 1942- The French fleet sails past the western edge of Corsica and between Corsica and Sardinia sailing south along the coast within air support range of the Corsican fighter squadrons. The French fleet began firing on many western ports of Italy and weathering the aerial storm the Axis tried to send upon the French ships.

    Within an hour the French had damaged four moderate sized ports, shelled some military installations and destroyed five ships that were under construction for the Italian Navy (the Italian carrier Sparviero was one of these ships, the others were destroyers and a heavy cruiser) along with dozens of civilian merchant ships and transport ships). The French during this time did lose a destroyer to mines set by a Italian torpedo boat and suffered heavy damage on three more ships due to Axis air forces.

    By midday the Italian fleet and French fleet came into long range contact. The two fleets were fighting as if it was still the Great War with battleships dominating and trying to get in range. Both sides did factor in air support extensively and that was what really decided the day.

    As the two fleets slugged it out with hundreds of sailors on both sides dying from shrapnel and explosions the fighter and fighter-bombers of both sides continued to try and break through the other’s aerial defenses to enact greater damage. With both fleets occupied with fighting the other the AA defenses of the French weakened with many having been destroyed by long range cannons of the Italian navy and vice versa. This allowed Italian fighter-bombers to attack the French fleet and the French fighter-bombers to attack the Italian fleet. It was a bloodbath.

    The Battle of the Tyrrhenian Sea would last a total of six more hours ending with both sides so devastated that pushing for a final victory over the other would have led to complete annihilation.

    The French would lose:
    1 modern battleship, 3 old dreadnought class battleships (with another being so damaged when it returned to France it would be dismantled for use as scrap metal for more planes and modern ships), the seaplane carrier was sunk with the aircraft carrier heavily damaged which would take almost a year to completely repair and re-staff (the seaplane carrier was sunk by two Italian submarines who sacrificed themselves to sink the French ship), 4 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, 5 heavy destroyers, 9 destroyers, and 11 submarines with light to heavy damage on most of the others.

    The Italians would lose:
    All 4 WW1 era battleships, 2 heavy cruisers, 5 light cruisers, 13 destroyers, 39 torpedo boats and 17 submarines with light to heavy damage on most of the others.

    The damage to both sides air power was tremendous. The French would lose 467 aircraft (271 fighters and fighter-bombers, the rest being tactical bombers). The Italians would lose 332 aircraft (239 fighters, the rest were fighter-bombers and bombers). The other Axis forces that assisted the Italian would suffer 48 losses (36 fighters from the Axis allies and 12 German Stuka dive bombers). Heavy damage was done by the Italians counter-sorties into south-eastern France and the island of Corsica while northern and eastern Sardinia suffered just as bad. Much of central western coast of Italy was devastated with many ports lightly to severely damaged, scores of civilian ships sunk and dozens of military air bases, Army camps, communication hubs and radar installations (almost half in the area were destroyed or damaged so significantly they would need whole new replacements). Both sides would lose tens of thousands whether it was sailors, pilots, ground personnel or civilians.

    The French would proclaim victory to their masses as the western half of the Italian fleet was all but knocked out of the war for years as it would have to be rebuilt and repair all the damage wrought on it, the damage done on the western coast of Italy and western to central northern Italy was brutal. The losses in airpower would affect the Italians ability to wage war in North Africa as there are currently very few aircraft reserves remaining intact. The military bases of Sardinia especially the northern half would need to be completely rebuilt which would take time, effort, manpower, and money on the Italians part.

    The Italians would proclaim victory as the Italian fleet was not completely destroyed; the French Mediterranean Fleet was damaged to near extinction, with a little over half sunk or left behind as dead in the water. Corsica experienced tremendous damage with thousands of civilians and military personnel dead and/or dying. The military infrastructure of the island would have to be rebuilt as well. The damage to south-eastern France was noticeable; again specific attention was focused on Marseille for the second time in the war would have to be closed for months for extensive repairs. The destruction of so many French aircraft would force the French to conserve their aircraft until replacement planes were made and replacement pilots were trained giving the Italians months to rebuild their own forces, however this also means that since the Italians suffered such heavy casualties they would not be able to attack southern France in any significant numbers. Only air combat over Corsica and Sardinia will continue while the two sides began to repair all the damage and destruction the battle caused. The French were also stopped from re-opening the link between the French western Mediterranean and the British eastern Mediterranean (the Italians and British were conducting multiple minor skirmishes by both sides, aerial and naval, amongst the multitude of Greek islands and the ports of Egypt with both sides experiencing varying degrees of minor success). Malta would remain in Italian hands (the French were planning to defeat the Italian fleet then liberate the strategic island if possible).

    In reality no one “won” the Battle of the Tyrrhenian Sea, it was a draw as the history books would say. The French and Italians lost significant aerial elements alongside much of their naval components in the Mediterranean. The French realized Italy would not be a pushover; the Italians became more determined to defend their homeland and to take the fight to the enemy more than ever as the Italian fascist propaganda began to spew out that for Italy to survive it must win so the destruction of future attacks by the Entente might be avoided. The Italian people who were somewhat determined about the war in the beginning became much more warlike as the French attacks killed many people they loved and cared about, the Italian people had become bloodied and were truly ready for the war.

    (The Italians ITTL are already more determined/warlike than OTL Italians of WW2 but this attack by the French stirred resentment against the Entente, specifically the French, and the Italian people become more loyal to their Duce and the Fascist State).

    July 8th, 1942- With the Battle of the Tyrrhenian Sea clearly over the Axis forces that assisted Italy return to their own air bases in their various countries with German fighter ace Captain Erich Rudorffer confirmed kills raising to 154.

    Combat in the Soviet Union continued as before with the Ukraine descending into a stalemate, the same as before but with the Soviets having liberated much of the eastern half. Atrocities, including mass murder of men and children and the raping of women of the Ukrainian peasantry by the Soviets would be smuggled out by Ukrainian rebels to Axis lines. The Axis would use this as a treasured propaganda tool. With Zhukov in Smolensk leading the defense there, and him taking the most experienced/veteran units, the half-trained Soviets that remained are being spurred on by NKVD detachments to enact a bloody “cleansing” of the eastern half of the Ukraine. While this does impose a sort of bloody martial law over the Ukrainians any sort of support the Soviets could have garnered was lost forever.

    German forces try for the seventh time to break the tunnel of relief leading from Smolensk to the rest of the Soviet Union. German generals pour in their reserves and midday is once again able to completely surround the city. Soviet forces east of the city amass to break the German ring of iron as troops inside the city fend off attacks from all around. German infantry slowly encroaches on the city from all sides with many troops carrying MP-40s and using refined urban warfare tactics learned throughout the war slwoly push inwards.

    Zhukov orders the tanks and troops east of Smolensk to prepare to breakthrough soon once enough air support is brought in and the tank divisions are fueled and fully armed. The last fully intact armored divisions, and the remnants of scores of divisions, are amassed east of Smolensk. Over 4,000 tanks in all are ready to relieve Smolensk and Stalin and Zhukov plan to relieve Smolensk first, secure the area against German counter-attack then liberate Leningrad. Hundreds of aircraft, including about half of the Combat Air Patrol forces of Kalinin, Kursk, Moscow, Stalingrad and many, many more Soviet cites are pried away to assist the Soviets in breaking the German grip on the important Soviet stronghold.

    Over 4000 tanks (many new from the production lines with trained but inexperienced operators), almost 1600 aircraft and over 1,800,000 men are ready to smash the Germans, and defeat the German's Fall Orange for good.

    The Germans detect the Soviets massing and Hitler orders von Leeb to take personal command of the Battle of Smolensk. Von Leeb redistributes his forces in preparation of the Soviet attack. The panzer divisions arriving from the Leningrad theater are being put to good use, restocking and filling depleted units that had fought near Smolensk for weeks while fresh divisions arrive from the Fatherland. The Germans have about 1,100,000 troops (300,000 are ROA), 2900 panzers (some captured T-34/KV-1s that are given to the ROA) and 2100 aircraft (mainly Luftwaffe with the entirety of the ROA air element, about 400 planes).

    July 11th, 1942- In Tokyo, Japan the final details of the next campaign is completed. The campaign is massive, reaching all around the Pacific focusing on three main drives. One is directed towards the oil and rubber rich Dutch East Indies, the second is focused on the Philippines and the third and most crucial is directed towards Hawaii.

    The Imperial Navy and Army are ready; they only have to wait for the orders. As the military and political leadership of Japan finalizes and decides the United States slowly, but surely prepares for war.

    Europe as of July 11th, 1942


    Europe as of mid 1942 with German forces having surrounded Leningrad (the city) and Smolensk (the city and area around it, western Smolensk is slowly being taken by the Germans through much spilled blood). Soviets forces haven taken much of eastern Ukraine, especially the Crimea. Soviets have fallen back from the area between Leningrad and Smolensk, Soviet forces are massing many of their last armored reserves for the thrust to relieve Smolensk while Axis forces in the Ukraine begin rebuilding, especially the Ukrainians as they lost over a hundred thousand of troops in the Soviet invasion earlier that year. Finnish/German forces have assisted Leningrad but the eastern sliver of Finland remains under Soviet rule.

    The area above the remnants of Yugoslavia is the Independent State of Croatia, a new Axis member.
    Old1812 likes this.
  17. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 17: A Knife’s Edge

    (This is to clear up any confusion of who is who and where they are commanding. Now this list is just the MAIN commanders in specific areas, there are dozens, scores, hundreds of other officers for all sides that are not mentioned due to the near impossibility of it to get them all down straight. I know many of these are big name commanders known in OTL history for many reasons. ITTL these officers are sometimes better commanders due to different battlefields/experiences, better combat record, worse combat record, or even alive when they died IOTL ex: Gott. So please take this as a basic overview to give you the rough draft picture of the military command structure in Europe).

    Field Marshal von Manstein is overall German commander of Fall Orange operations in western Russia.

    (On the northern third of the Eastern Front) General Eduard Dietl alongside Finnish Marshal Mannerheim leads the Finnish/German forces against the Soviets in eastern Finland.
    Field Marshal von Leeb is commander of the rest of the northern third of the Eastern Front with General Rommel leading the panzer elements of von Leeb’s army.
    General Rommel, as stated previous, is commander of von Leeb’s panzer units and by extension the mechanized/motorized infantry. The rest of the troops are commanded by various other generals.

    (On the central third of the Eastern Front) the main commanders are von Manstein who is overall commander of Orange and the central front while Guderian acts very much like Rommel but with more troops/panzers/responsibilities. Supreme Commander Vlasov of the ROA is also present to ‘inspire the ROA troops and to lead’ but in reality the ROA divisional commanders with their German overlords are directing the combat.

    (On the southern third of the Eastern Front) Commanded by Field Marshal Wilhelm List with dozens of German, Ukrainian, Romanian, Italian, Slovakian, and Bulgarian generals assisting the very mixed Axis forces stationed in the Ukraine.

    Marshal Zhukov is in the city of Smolensk (which is currently surrounded) and is overall commander of not only the Smolensk area but of all of western Russia.

    General Vatutin, Soviet commander who commanded the northern sect of the Eastern Front on the Soviet side since the death of the Executioner of Finland (Voroshilov) and due to circumstances previously stated in other chapters has been forced to accumulate his forces in Leningrad and nearby area.

    The Northern Front has General (promoted due to success against the Entente for slowing them down so effectively) Walther Model commanding the German/Swedish/Norwegian Loyalist forces in Sweden due to his specialty in defense work. The Entente commanders are General Montgomery and General de Gaulle, each commanding the British and French forces respectively.

    The North African front for the Italians is led by Field Marshal Ugo Cavallero (he is overall commander who is directing the invasion of Tunisia [see below] while coordinating with generals in eastern Libya for preparing adequate defenses against the incoming British offensive. The Bulgarians are under the command of Cavallero in the loosest of terms and are principally led by their commander Theodosi Petrov Daskalov.

    The French in North Africa (western North Africa that is) are led Brigadier General Philippe François Marie who is based in Tunis, Tunisia. The British are led by Field Marshal Archibald Wavell, based in Cairo. He is putting the final touches on the British offensive into eastern Libya codenamed Sandsnake.

    And Lieutenant General Gott is in British Somaliland where he is effectively the overall commander of all Entente forces in this part of Africa due to his rank and combat experience.

    Reich Chancellery, Berlin:
    Adolf Hitler, Führer und Reichskanzler of the Greater German Reich looked at the situation maps before him of Smolensk and the surrounding area inside the Reich Chancellery. German forces were represented with grey blocks and flags while known Soviet forces where in red. Western Smolensk was a treacherous and savage urban war while north and south of the city German forces continued to slowly push inwards at horrendous cost but still outside the city itself while east of the city a thin line of determined German panzer men and infantry held the Soviet leviathan at bay.

    Field Marshals von Bock, Beck, Jodl, Krebs, von Rundstedt, Keitel, Kluge, von Kleist, and von Weichs alongside dozens of other generals of varying degrees stood around their Führer. Hitler scanned the map as were his officers. Keitel, Hitler’s right hand man in the Wehrmacht cleared his throat. “Mein Führer, perhaps we should pull our armored divisions out of the plains east of Smolensk. If the Russians hit them with enough force our forces will be pinned against the city and be destroyed or significantly damaged,” many heads nodded in agreement.

    Nein” the German leader said vehemently and with much conviction. “The Bolsheviks will attack that is for certain but the German spirit and training will outdo any tactical plan that damn Zhukov comes up with.” Hitler paused and looked at the map again and did see the sense in what his officers were saying, but instead of retreat the Reich will go forward, “Send in our reserves stationed in Minsk and Orel. Inform List he is to send half of his armored forces north to bolster our panzers around Smolensk.”

    Mein Führer,” alarm crept in Keitel’s voice, “List’s forces are small as it is, if the Soviets press an attack they may well shatter through and if the Ukraine falls so does our entire southern front in the East.”

    Hitler exhumed heavily through his nose; his fierce blue eyes pinning Keitel in his spot. Hitler did not like being told what to do, he was the Führer after all but after a moment’s hesitation he looked back at the map, his eyes thoughtful. “You are right, Keitel. Tell List to send a third of his forces but bolster List with our infantry divisions in Romania, with the Soviet fleet in tatters, there is no threat from a seaborne invasion.”

    “The Romanians will not be happy,” remarked Jodl.

    Von Weichs chuckled, “They wouldn’t have gone ten kilometers in the Ukraine without us taking the brunt of the Soviet armies.”

    “The Romanians should be happy we allowed them a portion of the Ukraine before it became our ally. Speaking of which how goes the Ukrainian military? Is it recovering?” demanded Hitler.

    A general from Wehrmacht intelligence nodded, “Jawohl. Their infantry forces are quickly being brought up to strength and their factories in western Ukraine are beginning to produce adequate armored forces, mainly T-34s but with Ukrainian flags and colors on them. Their air service is in worse shape but replacement Ukrainian fighters are being built but will be outputted in small numbers.”

    Hitler nodded. “Gentlemen we are in the greatest war the world has ever known. We are on the knife’s edge. We could win or lose just as easily. But we must win. If Germany were to lose a second world war the country would fall into chaos and its people raped and plundered for the next hundred years. We must win for the Fatherland; we must win for the Volk.”

    Underground Bunker, Moscow:
    Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics took a drag of his cigar, sipped some tea laced with a small amount of vodka and looked at the generals and marshals before him in an underground bunker conference room.

    The faces were grim but determined. “Comrades,” Stalin began, “the Motherland is in danger. Fascist hordes, along with their puppets, are assembling around Smolensk and if the city falls and the forces focusing on the city move east than Moscow itself will be in danger. We have assembled a massive force east of Smolensk to defeat the Fascists, relieve Smolensk and lift the siege of Leningrad. To ensure that this succeeds I have ordered the remnants of the Moscow, Kursk and Kalinin Strategic Reserves, scores of divisions patrolling the more quiet regions of the Motherland alongside the full strength of our tank divisions from across European Russia to Smolensk, this will add another 1700 tanks and 530,000 men, many untrained and untested in combat but numbers alone will make up their lack of experience. I have also authorized the drafting policies that General Vatutin is enacting in Leningrad, allowing us to raise another 30 full divisions relatively quickly, women will also be drafted and will be going to the frontlines in mainly secondary fronts such as Siberia and currently the Ukraine or potential fronts such as Turkey to free up manpower in the more active warzones. They will also serve as guards behind the lines to free up more Soviet men.”

    The men in Soviet khaki grimaced but nodded for him to continue. “We have suffered much and will continue to suffer, but victory is assured in the end, whether it takes two years or twenty. The dialectic assures us in this that the people’s victory is inevitable. The fascists have suffered great as well, their losses, while not as high as ours, are still brutally high. The fate of Smolensk will affect the fate of the Soviet Union. “

    “What of Marshal Zhukov, Comrade Stalin?” asked a lowly general.

    Stalin frowned at the mention of the one who at one point in time he considered his protégée. Relations between the two had become more and more chaotic as Zhukov and Stalin’s political and military policies differed more and more as the war dragged on.

    Zhukov was beginning to disagree and argue with Stalin’s decisions over the phone and the few times they had met in person since Zhukov assumed command from Timoshenko in 1941. Such a canker must be removed, he mused. But the Soviet marshal was in the encircled Soviet city leading a, Stalin would admit, damn effective defense and orchestrating a massive counter-attack east of the city. The Ukrainian campaign still bothered Stalin as he wanted the entirety of that rebellious nation, not a third. Stalin understood what Zhukov did but he did not have to like it. But… but if he fails again Stalin would have no choice but to reel in the Red Army commander. No one can fail Stalin more than a few times or disagree with him over so many issues. For better or worse Zhukov would remain in command for the duration of the Battle of Smolensk, win or lose he will be removed. His popularity with the common man and women was irritating and more worrisome dangerous. He already ordered Beria to construct false lies and fake crimes about Zhukov that would ‘legitimatize’ his arrest and eventual execution. Stalin, always looking for potential enemies, saw one in Zhukov that he could not ignore, lest situations allow Zhukov to launch a coup and topple Stalin’s regime ( the memories of the July Meltdown and the bloodshed spilt in Moscow still fresh in his mind). Beria had picked up whispers of these but no confirmed reports as of yet.

    With Zhukov out of the way Stalin could finally regain his total control over the Red Army and Red Air Force that Zhukov had smuggled away bit by bit over the years due to his charisma and aura of inspiring loyalty. With the Red Army and Air Force back into Stalin’s fold, the NKVD Army would spearhead the eventual mass counter-attack that would defeat the Germans and their puppets in the Motherland and drive their forces all the way to Berlin itself, or so Stalin believed fervently.

    “Comrade Zhukov is leading his valiant defense from inside the city center and is overall commander of the entire Smolensk area of operations. His daily reports German forces are slowly converging through the city from the west and in the north and south of the city are being held, albeit barely. But with Smolensk still in our hands the German armored units east of the city have very little room to maneuver and can only go north-west or south-west instead of due west. Zhukov is planning on this and he has informed me that the majority of our infantry with a third of our tanks will attack head on while the remaining 2/3s of our tanks will attack from north-east and south-east with their objective being Smolensk. It will be a massive pincer movement. With the Germans engaged directly in front of them and the northern and southern pincer converging Zhukov estimates at least half of the German forces will be captured/destroyed thereby disabling Case Orange and opening up many opportunities for a counter-attack across the width of central Western Russia.”

    Stalin lifted his head and gazed at all the men in his quiet, passive demeanor but his eyes smoldering with anger, passion and ambition. “We will strike at the Fascist and we will kill the Fascist.”

    The men at the table clapped in a rare theatric applause due to Stalin’s fiery words. Stalin was throwing the dice. If his forces lost Moscow was lost, if his forces won… well who could say for sure how far the righteous might of the peasants and workers of the Soviet Union will reach into the decadent German Reich.

    July 12th, 1942- Germany begins sending large amount of reinforcements and reserves, especially a large percentage of the ROA, to the sliver of territory east of Smolensk they control, also reinforcing their flanks and slowly pushing into the Soviet city from all sides. Zhukov continues to lead an in-depth, firm defense with German blood drowning the streets in immeasurable liters.

    German troops are being pulled from all over Axis controlled Russia, Belarussia and even large amounts (a third) of the German troops from the Ukraine to bolster the drive to take Smolensk. The Soviet Stavka is mirroring these movements as both sides know whoever wins Smolensk may very well win the war or at least

    As both sides bring in massive amounts of men, weapons, tanks, airplanes, and supplies the world watches as the two dictatorships prepare to clash in one of the largest if not the largest battle of the entire war.

    July 16th, 1942- Zhukov is forced to wait as his reinforcements are assembled and dispatched, it would take weeks for all of them to get where he needed them. He knows this, the German spies know this but he has a trick up his sleeve but it must wait to develop.

    July 18th, 1942- Colonel-General Heinz Guderian, Axis commander of the Smolensk area of operations, uses the Russian Liberation Army, the ROA, as cannon fodder which leaves his German units intact (the Germans and ROA had been fighting pretty much 50/50 but ROA reinforcements arrived first in large quantities and Guderian is using them. As his forces (German and ROA) are entering the city limits of Smolensk, Guderian turns his attention to the east of the city where German armor and infantry are massing to engage the growing Red Army and Air Force threat there.

    July 19th, 1942- Italian forces in North Africa, bolstered by Bulgarian troops and tanks, launch their offensive not to the east but rather to the west towards French Tunisia. A large infantry and tank force had been left in eastern Libya to deter the British who looked to be well on their way to launching their own offensive.

    Italian and Bulgarian troops, spearheaded by the few Italian Titans (Italian built and modified Panzer IIIs, 50mm cannon) that have reached North Africa and the remains of their old tank corps alongside the few Bulgarian tanks, break through French lines. Italian air superiority is gained within a few hours as the French have few aircraft in the area, with most having been sent to France and Corsica as temporarily replacement aircraft for the bloody Battle of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

    French forces, despite being surprised, are falling back in relative organized manner. French commanders use their Tunisian auxiliaries as meat shields that soak up the fire from the Italians costing the Axis forces men and material while the French only lose half-trained, poorly armed Colonial troops.

    In eastern Finland the Finnish and the few German troops remaining (most had rejoined their fellow Germans when Leningrad was surrounded) launch dozens of small skirmishes against the Soviets controlling eastern Finland. Most of these skirmishes end in Axis victory with the eastern section of Finland slowly falling away from Soviet dominance. Inspired by the return of their military the Finnish citizens in these areas enact a bloodier guerrilla war, which had been fought off and on for over two years. The Axis drive to free all of Finland from the Soviet yoke is succeeding but at a slow pace as for both the Germans and the Soviets this is a minor sideshow compared to the battle raging south.

    July 23rd, 1942- French forces from Algeria and Morocco are dispatched to assist in the defense of Tunisia as Italian/Bulgarian troops are a mere twenty kilometers from the capital city of Tunis. Most of the Tunisian auxiliary units have been destroyed/decimated/captured so French forces are for the first time in the Tunisian Campaign fighting almost entirely on their own against the Axis. General Marie petitions France for more of everything in the way of supplies, men, and weapons but this will take some time as the reinforcements and supplies have to be shipped from the western coast of France down the coast of Spain/Portugal and into the ports of French Morocco and from there shipped east by train to the French forces needing these supplies. This is due to Italian submarines wreaking havoc with French supply ships sinking many of them causing the French to abandon the western Mediterranean as a transport supply route at least temporarily because of rising losses.

    Entente forces in Sweden are being stalled on all fronts in their drive to the east. Montgomery wants to lead a daring attack in the direction of Stockholm to split central/northern Sweden from the lowly southern portion. De Gaulle however wants to take southern Sweden first to secure better logistics and to disrupt the flow of German men and supplies from Germany itself (German reinforcements and supplies, although small, are steady and are a main reason why the Entente have not reached Stockholm yet, that and along with the Swedish steadfast defense and the Norwegian Loyalists bolstering the Germans and Swedes.

    July 26th, 1942- Orders from Tokyo go out to the Imperial Navy and Imperial Army. The Imperial Armed Forces are poised to advance into French Indochina, the Dutch East Indies, Hong Kong and other Entente held areas on the Chinese coast, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and dozens of mid to small islands amongst the Pacific. The Imperial Navy that is participating in the coming operation is divided into 4 fleets, all with detached Marine and Army personnel for ground combat.

    1st Fleet to the waters around French Indochina and the Dutch East Indies will attack and destroy any Entente naval vessel along with any significant military base or communications hub within aircraft distance of the carriers, the ports will NOT be damaged unless the occupation of the ports is deemed unnecessary or too costly.
    1st Fleet consists of 3 carriers, 3 battleships, 4 light cruisers, 3 heavy cruisers, and 14 destroyers plus scores of supply and transport vessels.

    2nd Fleet towards the Philippines where they will surround the American held islands, blockade it as effectively as possible, destroy any and all American and/or Entente ships in the vicinity, land troops in key locations and use its carrier planes in support actions to defeat the Army Air Force stationed around the islands.
    The 2nd Fleet consists of 2 carriers, 3 battleships, 3 light cruisers, 4 heavy cruisers and 16 destroyers, plus scores of supply and transport ships.

    3rd Fleet towards Papua New Guinea will block any attempt by Australian naval and air forces to establish an effective defense around Papua New Guinea which the Japanese will invade with ground troops once air superiority and beach landings had been secured.
    The 3rd Fleet consists of 3 carriers, 5 battleships, 4 light cruisers, 4 heavy cruisers, and twenty six destroyers plus scores of transport and supply ships. It will destroy any Entente/American ships in the area.

    4th Fleet towards the American naval and air bases in Hawaii will strike at the heart of the American naval power in the Pacific. Once the U.S. fleet is crippled the Japanese ships will land troops on the Hawaiian Islands, conquer them, set up adequate air forces there alongside a carrier or two and the other ships will disperse to the other three fleets to assist with their own objectives as their objectives are more long term than the 4ths but once those objectives are met will reinforce the 4th Fleet before the Americans can launch a retaliation.
    The 4th Fleet consists of 6 carriers, 4 battleships, 10 light cruisers, 8 heavy cruisers, alongside 32 destroyers plus scores of transport and supply ships.

    There are scores of more Japanese warships, not including the couple of hundred submarines that are lurking around the Pacific. These other Japanese ships are either on a) scouting/recon/patrol mission in Japanese held territory, or b) part of the Japanese Home Fleet, or c) elsewhere in the Pacific in small taskforces to accomplish small but vital actions in the coming engagements.

    The Japanese leave their home ports in Japan to sail to their specific areas waiting as the large 4th Fleet makes its way east towards the American Pacific Fleet.

    *(I realize these numbers are loosely based off what was true for OTL but the Imperial Navy has had access to more resources for a longer period of time and tested many theories and tactics against the Soviet Pacific Fleet earlier that year. So loosely based, but it is alternate history with my flavor of it anyway so forgive me for stretching the numbers a bit, not just here but all numbers including tanks, planes, men etc).
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  18. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 18: Echo of Screams

    July 27th, 1942- German reinforcements begin arriving to the Smolensk area of operations via train. Over a thousand panzers and hundreds of thousands of troops, mainly Panzer IVs as production of those have predominated all other forms of Panzers with most of the remaining Panzer III production switching to STuG III panzer-destroyer. Dozens of more Luftwaffe squadrons from across western Russia, Belarussia, Poland and the Baltic States arrive throughout the next few days bolstering German air power significantly.

    General Guderian begins forming his armored divisions into four separate formations that will strike deep into Soviet entrenchments. Zhukov notices this through his intelligence network and begins organizing his own strike. He knows the Germans have information about his troop movements due to their spies amongst the peasantry and the Soviet military. His forces wouldn’t be finished assembling and being reinforced for another two to three weeks and the Germans know this. Zhukov and his German counter-parts would not launch an assault without being at full strength… at least usually. But this was an unusual war with the fates of nations in the balance.

    Zhukov began issuing orders for an offensive to be launched on August 2nd. He wouldn’t be at full strength but he would still outnumber the Germans and have the element of surprise. The order would be sent to commanders loyal to the Soviet Union, especially Zhukov and would not be distributed to their subordinates until 6 hours before the offensive is launched. As the Soviets secretly begin readying themselves Zhukov gambles everything. Win or lose Smolensk would go down in history as a decisive moment in the war whether it be for the benevolent advancement of the peasants and workers or the heroic victory of the Fascist movement.

    July 29th, 1942- In Sweden Axis forces, using tank traps, anti-tank Panzerfausts, near fanatical Swedish soldiers defending their homeland and the terrain has temporarily halted the Entente drive towards Stockholm. Montgomery and de Gaulle meet in Oslo, Norway to discuss the matters in person. Montgomery still opts for a drive towards Stockholm with the full force of the Entente in Scandinavia, led by armor and mechanized infantry, while de Gaulle continues to suggest his occupation of southern Sweden strategy to starve Axis forces in Sweden of German troops and supplies.

    Lieutenant General Model has a plan and carefully forms an attack made up of principally Swedish/Norwegian Loyalist infantry with a core nucleus of German panzers and infantry. His requests for more German armor is denied as everything that can be spared is being sent to Smolensk but the Swedish deploy two full tank divisions, fresh from training but ready for war.

    In East Africa Gott is ready to launch his offensive. His mediocre armored force is comprised heavily of older model tanks but he does have a core element of Chamberlains and Crusaders. Transport for the infantry is scarce and will be forced to walk. Many British infantrymen will jokingly refer to this at ‘Gott’s March’.

    With Gott leading the main force from Djibouti personally the Entente forces make quick progress. Gott uses the British and French auxiliary (native) forces to deal with the Italian auxiliary troops and small, isolated Italian units. The Entente form the core of the offensive and deliver the killing blows to organized Axis troops and move on once victory is assured, leaving the Entente African troops to become the containment and clean-up force. Italian Command in Addis Abeba, capital of Italian Ethiopia, prepare to slow down the Entente to prevent their inevitable defeat but dozens of small skirmishes between Italian occupiers and Ethiopian freedom fighters plagues Italian logistics and diverts scarce manpower resources.

    Mussolini is informed in Rome and while angry at the Entente, particularly Gott who he sees as the Entente’s most effective commander in Africa, knew that the Italian colonies in East Africa were vulnerable since Italy entered the war and would eventually fall, that was why only second-rate troops guarded it with virtually no artillery, armor or aircraft. He was honestly surprised it took the Entente this long to act. But he must take Tunisia, form an effective barrier against the French in Algeria and turn his attention towards the British.

    In Cairo, Egypt Wavell applauds the Entente drive but does not mention Gott particularly. The relationship between the two had soured since the end of the Greek campaign. Wavell begins issuing orders for the British Eighth Army to finally mobilize for its own offensive. As a prelude he orders more and more RAF squadrons to fly deeper into Italian airspace in eastern and even central Libya. Italian intercept squadrons are determined but not as effective due to RAF superiority. Mussolini orders new, faster, and deadlier aircraft designs to be researched, tested, and mass produced. It will be some time before anything can come out of this. Italian supply convoys are beginning to deposit some of the Titan tanks to eastern Libya where they will form the backbone of the armored element there.

    Hitler and the German High Command look with mild interest in the African Theatre. The Italians were making progress in North Africa but losing in East Africa. Hitler considers sending a panzer corps under General Rommel to North Africa but the General Staff successfully stave off this attempt as Rommel is deeply entrenched in panzer engagements north of Smolensk and south of Leningrad, and that Germany needed every panzer it could scrap in Russia. Hitler agrees quickly seeing their sense but the idea is at the back of his head.

    August 1st, 1942- As the Germans begin forming their assault formations the Soviets begin final preparations in the night of the first of August. A total of 5100 tanks (with another 600 on the way), 1,900,000 men (with another 430,000 on the way) and 2200 aircraft (no reinforcements in sight as the extra Red Air Force aircraft came before the ground elements as air travel is faster than the Soviet Union’s damaged railway system in western Russia). Stalin and Zhukov are determined to halt the German invader once and for all and it appears they very might well do that. However hundreds of tanks are poorly maintained and in need of repair while thousands of tanks are fresh-forged with most having new, un-blooded crews. Over half of the Soviet ground soldiers are veterans but the remainder is a force drafted soldiers, scared of war and not wanting to die for a cause that treats them so harshly.

    Food production is becoming a significant problem as more and more Soviet farmers are drafted and their communal fields left understaffed, mismanaged and even untended as the mass recruitment of women begins. More and more Soviet factories are switching from civilian consumables to war production factories (most have been war factories for years but the final few have switched over).

    With over fifteen million dead already, food becoming worse and harder to come by, with all forms of entertainment and consumer products gone for the foreseeable future, with whole sections of the country fighting under Axis banners, with an ever growing and tyrannical NKVD killing and pillaging across the USSR, with enemies all around, and with a dictator who led them into this blood-drenched war the Soviet people are unhappy to say the least.

    Stalin puts his hopes and dreams on the coming attack. If it succeeds the Soviets would have staved off defeat, if lost… well he would not think about that. He needed a victory more now than even when the July Meltdown happened last year. The whispers around Moscow were growing worse and worse as even Beria was becoming aloof. The NKVD were his… for now. But how long until the blue-collared dogs smelled the blood in the air and took what they wanted by force? The small faction of Red Army officers that had hidden themselves when the rebels had tried to take Moscow in 1941 had remained hidden very effectively with none of the core members having been arrested and interrogated thereby exposing the remainder. They were still there... waiting.

    August 2nd, 1942- Zhukov launches Operation Starfall. The Soviet forces face the Germans and the Russian Liberation Front in the Smolensk area. The Germans have a total of 3800 panzers, 1,200,000 men, and 2600 aircraft. The ROA has a smaller but still a tremendous force of 550 tanks, 450,000 men and 200 aircraft.

    Zhukov catches the Germans off guard as they were under the impression the Soviets would not attack for at least a week. Soviet Katyusha rockets slam into German positions killing hundreds and Soviet armor leads khaki colored soldiers as they move west. This is the center formation, the northern and southern pincer are awaiting their orders. Guderian pulls back across the contested front using the Luftwaffe to cover his withdrawal.

    Soviet morale within Smolensk rises as Starfall is underway but the city is still surrounded by Axis forces. In the air both sides slug it out with the first day going to the Soviets as they had the element of surprise.

    Zhukov is pleased with the first day’s results but realizes he needs to keep up the pressure and divert more Axis men away from where the northern and southern pincers will attack. As he orders men and material across the battlefield

    In the fields east of Smolensk German Panzer IIIs, Panzer IVs, STuG IIIs, STuG IVs, Hornet panzer-destroyer and other armored vehicles face off against the infamous Soviet T-34, still the workhorse of the Red Army, alongside the KV-1 and the tank destroyer the SU-76. The might of two nations fight in what will be the largest armor and infantry engagement of the entire war, the next bloody stage of the Battle of Smolensk has begun.

    Abraham Goldman was sweating, despite the morning chill. He was in a boxcar that from the smell of it had carried animals, probably horses some time ago. His wife and children were beside him, his wife Martha and his children Isaiah and Sarah were also sweating, adding to the overall stink. The boxcar had over forty people in it, with no room to stand and the honey bucket only coming around rarely that human waste littered and streamed the hay covered floor.

    Dozens of men and women and even children stood there, waiting. Abraham remembered how it all started. Months ago the Reich began clamping down on Jews harder than usual and just a few weeks ago sent him and every Jew from Germany to Poland. For a time Abraham, his wife and children, worked in the labor camps just south of Poznan, repairing the remaining damage that had been left over from the battles across Poland.

    They had taken his house, his job, his father’s gold pocket watch and even Martha and his’ wedding rings. The SS men laughed as they did so. Saying the Jews were finally contributing to the war in financial terms but Abraham doubted a quarter of that even saw the Germans war machine, the SS men were pigs who became rich off deported Jews.

    The boxcar shook, causing some to fall unto others who were quickly pushed back. The squeal of the train’s brake echoed through the air causing many to wince. Within ten minutes the boxcar was at a complete stop and he heard the locks on the door holding the Jews in become unlocked and the morning cold swooped in making the sweat cool his forehead. German SS men in black coats with silver lining shouted at the people to get out of the boxcar. Most almost fell out, weak from the journey and lack of food (he was glad Martha had hid a loaf of bread in her coat), some though could not move. As Abraham and his family walked away from the train he heard shots from Luger pistols behind him. The SS were making sure the people lying on the floor were indeed dead or finishing them off. All around them the train’s boxcars were being opened and hundreds of Jews were stumbling out.

    An SS woman with a megaphone on a raised platform surrounded by two SS henchmen, one holding an MP-40, the other a G-42. Her blonde curls snuck out from underneath her service cap and her blue eyes a deep blue when compared to her pale, beautiful face. She might look angelic but the cold hatred in her eyes was telling.

    She began, “Attention all Jews! You will not be harmed if you cooperate. You will divide yourselves and follow our instructions. Failure to do so and you will be shot. Form single file lines with men to the left of the platform women and children to the right of the platform. Follow the instructions and you will not be harmed, failure to do so and you will be shot…” she continued on that tirade for some time.

    Abraham looked at his wife and children with sadness in his eyes. He hugged and kissed all of them as they were separated. One Jewish woman ahead of him refused to leave her sickly husband, she shouted defiance at the Germans. An SS officer tore the two apart, dragged both away from the lines and shot the husband before the woman. Her screams of horror echoed across the dewed field. Her silence only came when a pistol round penetrated her skull.

    As the two lines diverged from the platform Abraham looked at the camp before him. This was similar to a labor camp but much, much larger. It could hold tens of thousands easily. Tall, stark towers with searchlights and machine guns were spread across the camp and scores of German SS soldiers and their Polish SS counterparts were everywhere. Hundreds of men looked out as Abraham and the hundreds of more Jewish men entered the male half of the camp. The men already in the camp were shrunken figures, not of height but of weight as they looked more skeletal than the men about Abraham.

    As they were about to enter the main camp an iron fence hanged above them. The words were German with a German swastika flag flying over it. It said simply, “Arbeit Macht Frei,” with the ‘B’ looking slightly upside down with the top portion being larger than the bottom portion. Strange, he thought.

    He looked over to his right and saw the women entering through a similar gate with SS men and women everywhere. There was a central sign between the two gates in large, black letters, it as the name of the camp or so he presumed. It was a name Abraham had never heard before and being a college professor of geography, particularly central and eastern Europe he thought he would recognize the name but he did not.

    As the gates closed locking the new Jews in the large Nazi camp Abraham kept thinking about the name. It sounded somehow menacing and threatening. He said it aloud. “Auschwitz” and shivered but whether it was from the cold or the name he did not know.
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  19. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 19: A Great Sacrifice

    Artyom Vetrov looked in the growing puddle of water. The image reflected back at him was not the boy who went to war over two years ago. Gone was the peasant boy from a village outside Moscow to a Lieutenant in the Red Army.

    Since the campaigns in Poland, the Meltdown, the fall of the Western Republics and the grind in western Russia Arytom had rapidly advanced in rank, in small part due to his effective leadership but was mainly due to the high amount of casualties in the officer corps whether they were killed in combat, wounded, or purged by the NKVD.

    The Red Army was a shell of its former self. Gone was the pride, the loyalty between comrades, the loyalty to the Motherland, and privately the loyalty to Stalin. Now it was an army of bitter veterans, old men and young boys. And women, also, the manpower of the Soviet Union was dropping fast as the war scythed away the youth, the healthy. Women were beginning to take up more and more second and third line roles to free up men for the front. Curse the devil he was leading a company: a Lieutenant leading a company, hundreds of men, almost a thousand. Madness.

    Artyom raised his head to look around him. The freezing rains that will bring rasputitsa were beginning. It would be some weeks, maybe a month or two before any large scale offensive would be nigh impossible to launch. The rasputitsa was a time, historically, for the Russian people to recover and fight back the coming spring and summer as the enemy would have been slowed down, miserable, and recovering from Russia winters. That was the norm but this war was different.

    The Germans were quick learners. Their Ukrainian, Belarussian, and Russia lap dogs taught them well in the ways of winter warfare and how to effectively transport supplies during the mud times; a brisk wind, with the threat of winter, swept through the Red Army encampment. All around him were scores of T-34s with the occasional monster of the KV-1. The new tank-destroyer Su-76 was scattered around here and there. Thousands of men, some veterans like him, some second rate troops forced to assist in the main combat, were everywhere. Artyom felt a brotherhood with them. They had faced their trial in war, baptized in a storm of steel and fire. The camp was temporary, as they all were, just for a night’s rest then they moved on.

    But most… most were old men who had fought in the Great War, or the First World War as it was being called now, or young boys that do not even shave yet. When Artyom marched into German held central Poland the men with him were in their early twenties usually, now most were sixteen, seventeen year old boys, lost in a chaotic world.

    A pistol shot echoed through the air, then another. Artyom was not alarmed; it wasn’t the Germans or the ROA. It was his own side. He ventured to where the shots occurred, seeing two corpses on the ground, both in Red Army khaki. An NKVD commissar and two NKVD guards stood with him. The political officer's pistol was still out and smoke enriched the air around him.

    Artyom recognized the two men. Both from his company, he thought sadly. Feeling the need for clarification he walked to the NKVD officer. “Comrade Commissar, what happened here?”

    The NKVD commissar looked at Artyom with surprise, surprised to see an Army officer question not only a superior officer but a commissar political-officer of the NKVD. The commissar looked at the two dead men, their bodies in puddles of mud tainted water colored red with blood. “These two men were conspiring of sedition and treason. Their actions were brought to my attention and I executed them. Where they your men, Comrade Lieutenant?” the question was loaded with threat.

    “Aye. They are… were my men, Gregory a boy of seventeen from the Urals, and Sasha a boy of sixteen from Stalingrad,” Artyom said tonelessly and without any hint of what he thought or wanted to say or do, a trait that had kept him alive this long.

    The commissar glared at Artyom for a few tense seconds. His hand tightened around the pistol but the commissar seemed to remember he was a lone commissar with two guards in the midst of thousands of Red Army men. If anything had taught the Commissariat anything was to not overly antagonize Red Army troops when outnumbered. The July Meltdown saw to that. Despite the commissars being placed in the command hierarchy again after the Meltdown to better control the Red Army they were still wary of rebellion and some tried to passively observe the Red Army officers and allowed them to lead within certain conditions. Others… others took it upon themselves to micromanage the company they were assigned to and unsurprisingly were the ones to die faster in combat. It was always stated as enemy fire but sometimes the enemy was the ones they were policing.

    Anyway the commissar obviously saw he was treading dangerous ground. Artyom was proud to see in his peripheral dozens of his own men armed with weapons, not aimed at the NKVD men per se but which could be in seconds. Beria's man and his men looked nervous.

    “Well make sure I do not find any more cankerous elements in your company, Lieutenant,” and stormed off, back to the command tent where the Company Commissar and even more guards were located.

    “Well that was close,” a deep voice said next to Artyom. He turned and saw Sergeant Yanikov, the grizzled veteran who had fought in more campaigns than even Artyom. The veteran sergeant was new to the company but was a born leader. He had fought in the Winter War, all of the Polish campaigns, spent a time in the Southern Republics after the Meltdown, fought in the Ukrainian offensive and was a recent addition to Artyom’s company which he was thankful for. Smolensk was a black hole of lives, sucking up men and material. The final stages for Smolensk were being played out.

    Starfall had surprised the Germans but the westerners were damn good at warfare and had halted it in some areas, in others the Soviets continued to advance. In all aspects of Starfall casualties were horrendous, even for the wasteful Red Army. But if they kept pressing then maybe, just maybe the Axis lines would break, Smolensk relieved and the might of the German Army defeated.

    “Yes it was,” Lieutenant Vetrov looked at the retreating blue-lapel henchmen and shook his head. He glanced at the bodies, “Sergeant, what was their crime? Sedition and treason my ass, I don’t believe those boys did anything bad,” he whispered quietly to Yanikov.

    The older sergeant waited for a second before responding and responded to his commander in an equally quiet voice. “Gregory and Sasha were in the food line, they received their meals and went to eat together in a corner of where we are now. Someone overheard them talking about how lousy the food was and wishing that this war had never started because they missed home. Taken the wrong way it can sound like criticism of Stalin. An informant reported them and now both are dead.”

    Artyom shook his head in disgust. Two boys killed because of a paranoid madman from Georgia. “Sergeant, get some men to bury them. They deserve that much at least. Then get some sleep. Tomorrow we march to war.”

    August 3rd, 1942- Soviet aircraft continue to dominate the sky over Starfall’s area of operations, approximately 200 kilometers long and 50 kilometers deep (the breadth of the Battle of Smolensk is not focused solely on the city but the area around it too, about 200-250 kilometers of the frontline is considered the Battle of Smolensk with Smolensk at the heart of it). Axis aircraft are beginning to erode the Soviet airpower but not enough to retake superiority of the sky.

    Soviet armor and infantry forces slog through German defenses east of Smolensk, every meter taken with the loss of much blood. Guderian sends in more and more German and ROA troops armed with anti-tank rockets and do cause extensive devastation amongst Soviet tanks but not enough to stop the endless waves of the Red Army.

    Inside Smolensk Zhukov is pleased with the advancement of the center force but is worried about how many casualties have already been suffered, especially in the tank units. The pincer forces are ready to go but he won’t call them to action just yet. He will wait, and allow the Germans to concentrate themselves allowing for an easier encirclement.

    August 4th, 1942- Italian forces surround Tunis and encroach on the city itself, French forces within the city are putting up stiff opposition but once cut off from French command within the city they begin surrendering relatively quickly as they are outnumbered and outgunned. French North African Command in Morocco is furious over this but can do nothing to stop it.

    A German U-boat wolf-pack sinks a British carrier off the coast of France. The carrier would be lost but half of its crew recovered. The U-boat that actually sunk the carrier, commanded by Commander Fritz-Julius Lemp, would evade British patrols until it reached the safety of the Wilhelmshaven port. Out of the other three U-boats in the wolf pack (that acted as a distraction to allow Lemp to sneak by) one was sunk with all hands while another was heavily damaged by long-range RAF fighters off the coast of German occupied Denmark. Most of the crew would be rescued by German patrol and rescue boats but the U-boat was unrecoverable. It would eventually be recovered and smelted down for scrap metal as the damage was so extensive it would have required more effort to repair it than to rebuild a new submarine.

    East of Smolensk one German panzer divison (250 panzers) is confronted by three Soviet tank divisions (600 tanks) and within three hours the entire panzer division is destroyed but their actions destroyed a Soviet tank divisions and heavily mauled the other two (450 tank losses). This is being repeated all along the Smolensk front. For every German/ROA panzer destroyed the Soviets lose two (or so, sometimes more, sometimes less) however the Soviets are concentrating their forces and have more infantry to negate the heavy losses and continue to advance.

    German panzer and mechanized infantry reinforcements begin arriving in large numbers to assist those holding the eastern portion of the iron ring around the Soviet city. Hundreds of panzers and tanks are reported lost to their respective commands but the order to the Axis is to continue holding the iron ring and to the Soviets it is to continue advancing.

    Von Manstein travels to Guderian’s mobile headquarters and the two discuss tactical and strategic options. After the meeting more units are transferred east, the infantry advancement into Smolensk itself is halted to supply more troops to stop Starfall. The German/ROA infantry that were assaulting the city will now dig in and fortify amongst the rubble as about half to two-thirds their number are sent to the front.

    In Scandinavia de Gaulle and Montgomery settle on a compromise. Montgomery will lead an armored attack in an angled attack to cut off the southern portion of Sweden to Stockholm. Once he reaches the coast he will swing north and advance on Stockholm itself as French troops led by de Gaulle deal with the southern, cut off portion of Sweden. This offensive will be launched on the 25th.

    August 5th, 1942- In the largest single tank engagement to date 1100 Axis tanks (900 German panzers, 200 ROA tanks) face off against 2100 Soviet tanks supported by tens of thousands of infantry. The Soviets have pushed dozens of hard fought kilometers and are on the verge of relieving Smolensk.

    The Germans may have fewer tanks but have a large amount of entrenched 88mm cannons that while are used primarily as anti-air guns have shown throughout the war to be excellent anti-tank cannons. Hundreds of these 88s are ready to deter the Soviets. These 88s were used as AA guns to shoot/harass Soviet aircraft dropping supplies into Smolensk throughout the siege of it.

    The day begins with Soviet Katyusha rockets shattering the outer perimeter of the Axis defenses. ROA units were sent here to soak up the rocket fire and they did just that as casualties claim 70% of the forces located here. As the ROA units move west towards safer lines the Germans respond with long range artillery amongst the scout echelons of the Soviet forces.

    The artillery barrage does some minor damage amongst the Red Army scout tanks, destroying a few, but kills and wounds hundreds of infantry that were travelling with them. Minor engagement between German panzers and Soviet tanks occur, both sides testing the other.

    Both sides realizing the importance of the coming engagement have ordered their respective air forces to dominate the airspace. This results in the Red Air Force and Luftwaffe in their hundreds flying over a small area with dog fights and ground attacks happening every few minutes. Neither side can gain an upper hand in the air yet but both are losing dozens of planes trying.

    As midday arrives both sides begin sending in the entirety of their forces. German panzers and Soviet tanks clash in skirmishes ranging from individual panzer on tank to whole divisions against whole divisions. German Stukas and Soviet IL-2 Sturmoviks peppered the ground with bombs and cannon shells while each sides respective fighters dogfight in the air and both sides bombers unleash devastation upon the rear echelons of their enemy's forces..

    For hours the two factions would slug it out with over a hundred tanks/panzers destroyed in just an hour. By the time the sun was setting the Germans were forced to retreat. While the Soviets took the field they did so with the loss of 1300 tanks. The Germans and ROA lost 600 (100 ROA) but retained most of their 88s which had devastated many flanking attacks by the Soviets. The Red Air Force lost around 300 aircraft that day while the Axis forces lost around 240. (And this doesn't include all the panzers, tanks, and aircraft damaged in the battle that needs to be repaired soon or will lose viability).

    It was a hollow victory but a victory. With the main German panzer forces directly east of Smolensk crippled German and ROA reinforcements poured in to hold the line. As the 5th day of August ended Zhukov deemed the northern and southern pincers ready. He orders the pincer commanders to launch on the 7th.

    General Erwin Rommel wiped the dust from his eyes. As his vision cleared he continued to look out at the vast Soviet prairie. It seemed never-ending. But he did not despair. He took it as a challenge. It was almost peaceful, the endless blue sky and the green fields. Behind him the roar of engines and the grunts of men shattered his moment of silence.

    He turned and saw an amazing sight: over eight hundred German panzers, accompanied by hundreds of trucks, half-tracks and armored cars carrying a few thousand soldiers. Around half of the panzers were the powerful Panzer IV with a large portion of the aging IIIs and a handful of STuG-III and STuG-IV panzer destroyers. His unit did not receive any of the devastating Hornet panzer-killers yet. Those were focused in Smolensk at the beginning of their deployment to the East.

    Rommel was heading towards Smolensk as fast as he could travel, whether it is by rail or by road. When word reached Rommel and his commanding officer Field Marshal von Leeb that the Soviets had launched a large scale offensive against the iron ring around Smolensk, weeks ahead of prediction Rommel knew that his men and panzers would be desperately needed.

    Rommel remembered the conversation he had with the Field Marshal hours after word of Starfall reached them.

    “We should attack, sir.”

    “Attack? With what? We barely have enough panzers to defend our front?” von Leeb stated. (von Leebs front is significantly longer than the Smolensk front).

    “This is true, yes. However have there been any signs of Soviet intent to attack us here in the north?” inquired Rommel.

    Von Leeb looked at the reports before him in his office south west of Leningrad. “Well no, but it did not look like the Soviets would attack Smolensk when they did, catching us off guard.”

    “Yes, but mein Herr, the Soviets have focused their efforts south of us. The forces facing us here are disorganized and lacking any significant armored, motorized/mechanized or even air support. The only reason we have not advanced as far as you and I have wished is the lack of supplies and air support. Our efforts are also focused further south. But if we were to send a significant force to Smolensk to assist our fellow soldiers there we might be able to turn the tables.”

    “What do you propose, General?”

    “Sir we currently have around 1100 panzers, most are Panzer IIIs with a fair amount of IVs. I realize we cannot take all of them but I am asking for me to lead 850 of our panzers south and all of the Panzer IVs, accompanied by as much infantry we can put on truck, half trucks and armored cars. I’m assuming 50,000 men or so. Not a lot but the panzers are the important factor.”

    “We will be left vulnerable on the ground.”

    “Our mobile forces will be cut back but we have a large amount of 88mm flak-cannons that can be used as anti-tank weapons. The Red Air Force is very weak up here so we can use more and more 88s as anti-vehicle.”

    Von Leeb ponders this. “What do you think will happen when you reach Smolensk?”

    Rommel paused in thought. “We may not bring enough panzers to win the battle, but we may be able to bring enough to not lose it.”

    Von Leeb stared at the maverick general. “Do it.”

    Rommel nodded. As he was about to leave von Leeb spoke again. “Do not radio ahead to Guderian or von Manstein. If the Soviets intercept it they could destroy your force. It is better to come in with tactical surprise. I will send a messenger by plane to von Manstein to inform him.”

    Rommel nodded again and left. His mind came back to the present. Shouting from below garnered his attention. His ducked into the command car he was riding in. “What is it?”

    His adjutant looked at Rommel, “Sir, Lieutenant General Balck is reporting three more panzers have suffered engine failure.”

    Rommel grimaced but nodded. “Tell him to take anything and everything useful out of it, set up a protection squad of infantry and move on. A recovery unit will be sent by von Leeb eventually, same procedure as before.”

    “Yes, sir,” his adjutant said as he went back to his bulky command radio to give out Rommel’s orders.

    Rommel was pushing his men hard. They would stop a few hours to rest, eat, fuel up, and to allow their engineers to perform maintenance on the vehicles but the strain of keeping the drive south was telling. Many men were tired and already thirty panzers plus dozens of other vehicles had been left behind because they couldn’t keep up the pace.

    He and his men had traveled far from their staging area south of Leningrad and were close, so close. Reports were coming in the massive Soviet offensive tearing through the central German defenses east of Smolensk with the Germans and their ROA being pushed back meter by bloody meter. Rommel only hoped they arrived in time.

    August 6th, 1942- The next day begins with the Soviets; having received half of their reinforcements (230,000 men and 300 tanks have arrived) Zhukov puts them in the center formation to reinforce his depleted divisions there. This influx of fresh troops pushes the Germans back continuously to the point where troops are trapped under between the Soviet forces in Smolensk and the forces approaching from the east. Guderian orders his units to retreat south-west and north-west to avoid being utterly destroyed. Nearly 400,000 soldiers and over 700 panzers make it to safer German lines before the entire eastern portion of the German ‘Iron Ring’ around Smolensk is utterly dissolved.

    The only way so many German troops made it back to the bulk of their forces due south/north of the Soviet city was because of General Hasso van Manteuffel. Von Manteuffel seeing the resurge of the Soviet offensive during the 6th due to the Soviet reinforcements realizes that if the Red Army was not slowed down the German Army would lose almost a thousand panzers and over 350,000 men, losses Germany could ill afford. He could not allow that to happen. Von Manteuffel gathered his panzer division (218 panzers) plus the remainder of a half dozen divisions that were crippled during the 5th which brought his combined panzers to 307. Ordering his mechanized infantry units to retreat along with the remainder of the German forces Manteuffel and his panzers drove east and met the Soviets head on in what would be called ‘Manteuffel’s Charge.’

    The Soviets were surprised at this type of behavior as this was very un-German to attack without artillery, infantry, or air support but von Manteuffel counted on that. His panzers, using the advantage of surprise, sliced through the front ranks of tanks and infantry and caused heavy losses amongst the Red Army.

    For hours the German panzers fought until their engines ran dry of fuel and their ammunition spent. Afterwards, knowing the Soviets would not take them as prisoners, they fought amongst the ruins of the battlefield they created, using small, portable Panzerfaust weapons and MP-40s they killed and killed until their MP-40s clicked empty and their Panzerfaust tubes broke with usage.

    By this time only a few hundred of the panzer crewmen survived into the mid afternoon. With no way to fight they remained in the body littered, iron wreckage filled battlefield until NKVD and blood lusted Red Army troops came upon them. The German men were found at attention with von Manteuffel at their head. Radio messages from Zhukov to spare the brave soldiers did not reach the NKVD commissars; if it did they ignored it.

    All 343 German panzer crewmen were killed by weapons fire. PPSh-41 and Mosin-Nagant empty shell casings littered the ground.

    Manteuffel and all his panzer-men were dead but their sacrifice allowed the majority of the German troops east of Smolensk to retreat to safer ground. 307 panzers might have been lost but the Soviets lost almost 750 alongside thousands of troops. Their lives gave the German forces more time.

    When word reached Guderian and von Manstein they passed the story of the Charge towards Berlin. Hitler gave a rare wartime radio announcement where he spoke of the heroism of the German warrior and the loyalty the German soldiers had towards their country. Manteuffel and his men would be buried (empty caskets due to no bodies) with full honors and Manteuffel himself promoted posthumous to Field Marshal. Church bells across the Reich rang 307 times in their honor.

    Zhukov himself, with the eastern part of the city once again linked with the Soviet Union, walked the battleground of the Charge and ordered the Red Army to assemble city civilians to bury all the German panzer-men and their officers. This was an outrage to the NKVD who reported this to Stalin who took a poor stance on the subject stating this was against the interests of the Soviet Union but Zhukov ignored him and had all the men buried with respect and dignity, not dumped in a mass grave as was planned.

    With the siege of Smolensk lifted Soviet infantry and engineers move into the Soviet controlled portions of the city to reinforce and rebuild defenses. To the German High Command much had been lost for the Soviets to still relieve the siege. But the Germans had planned for this. Von Manstein and Guderian have plans and this was accounted for. With the message from von Leeb received von Manstein and Guderian prepared a deadly counter-strike that had a chance to tip the scales of the battle.

    August 7th, 1942- The Soviet pincer movements launch their attack. These sweeping attacks meet only light Axis resistance. The Soviet commanders, wary of a trap, advance at steady but cautious pace. ROA units are the main defense force here and do slow the Soviets significantly but not enough damage was done to stop the pincer drives.

    Despite the overall victory on the 6th and the early morning victories of the 7th on the ground the air power of the Soviets had been steadily declining for the past few days to the point where the Luftwaffe and ROA squadrons had slowly recaptured air superiority. The Germans were taking heavy losses but essentially stripped their air defense squadrons of eastern Germany through all of Poland and the Baltic States to reinforce their fighter and bomber strength over western Russia.

    Axis air forces begin seriously hammering Soviet logistics and destroy/damage many supply caches which slow the Red Army’s advance but does not stop it. In Minsk a large bomber force of He-179s, the second Ural Bomber, bomb eastern and central Smolensk killing thousands and damaging some of the newly wrought defenses created by Red Army engineers in the portions of the city the Soviets still control.

    German bombers, led by He-179 squadrons and protected by fighter squadrons, bomb the Soviet corridor connecting the city to the rest of the Soviet Union along with the two pincer movements, particularly the more northern one. These bombings slow the Soviet pincers even more but do not stop them. The German bombers would continue bombing the city and the corridor leading to the rest of the Soviet Union day in and day out causing catastrophic logistical issues and killing many, many thousands.

    In Tunisia the Italians capture Tunis completely as French forces surrender wholesale in the city as supplies ran dangerously low (they did not stock up for any significant time if they were surrounded which they were hence the quick surrender). French forces to the west however are more determined and better supplied. The Italians begin creeping west but are meeting determined French defense lines. With Tunis and eastern half of Tunisia under Italian occupation the French and the Italians began fortifying their respective territories. The reason the Italians have halted their attack is to begin sending forces east to prepare for the oncoming British assault which is coming soon, the information was leaked out of Egypt by Egyptian freedom fighters who are determined to overthrow the British yoke on their country. (Tunis was the main goal of the Italian attack into Tunisia; the Italians just wanted some buffer space between their Libyan territory and any large scale Entente force).

    The French though pushed back are receiving reinforcements from France. It will be sometime but the French are planning to retake Tunisia and advance into western Libya. The Italians know this and begin fortifying Tunis and any moderate sized town and city in eastern Tunisia and western Libya in preparation for this.

    Gott continues his advance into Italian Ethiopia. The Ethiopians are in large scale open rebellion which has utterly dismantled any serious Italian resistance except for the capital city of Addis Ababa where the Italians have firm control due to the presence of more infantry and a small motorized unit. Gott estimates he is two to three weeks away from the capital.

    August 8th, 1942- By early morning Soviet pincers are encroaching on the northern and southern sections of Smolensk which are still under German control. German Luftwaffe damages the pincers steadily throughout the day but the Soviets have brought up mobile AA trucks to better protect their armored and motorized units as they continue their advance.

    By mid afternoon the German/ROA troops facing the pincers are being pushed back steadily. However Field Marshal List’s panzers and infantry have arrived from the Ukraine and engage the southern pincer and force it stop after a series of armored engagements. The Germans and ROA forces have stopped the southern pincer but the northern one continues moving south, defeating any Axis force arrayed against it.

    Guderian has assembled over 1200 panzers and 300,000 men to meet and defeat this northern pincer. Soviet forces are nearing northern Smolensk and the Axis are determined to hold here. If defeated the back of the Axis Powers strength in the area would be broken. But Guderian knows that Rommel is close by. He only has to wait.

    August 9th, 1942- The northern Soviet pincer engages Guderian’s scout forces. Combat between the two armies is fierce and bloody with the Soviets slowly gaining the upper hand and pushing the Germans back towards their main force.

    Rommel and his panzer forces attack the rear guard of the northern pincer, arriving from the Leningrad area of operations. His forces, coming as a surprise to the Soviets as Rommel had maintained radio silence the entire trip per von Leeb’s orders. Rommel and his panzers tear through the rear echelons of the Soviet northern pincer, destroying/capturing most of their supplies and their reserve troops.

    The Soviet commander was about to pull back to the central formation but was overridden by the commander’s commissar. When the commander continued to push for a withdrawal the commissar shot the Soviet general and ordered the northern pincer to hold its ground to await reinforcement, reinforcement that was not available and did not come. The two German forces surround and push in on the northern pincer. The northern pincer being trapped between Guderian and Rommel’s troops is quickly decimated.

    With the northern pincer utterly destroyed German troops sweep south towards the Soviet center formation taking huge chunk sof of the central formation’s northern flank but the Soviets are barely holding firm but cracks are developing, losses are heavy amongst the Red Army. Luftwaffe planes have dominated the airspace over Smolensk for two days, heavily damaging supply lines, Soviet railroads, and have destroyed much of the Soviet armored forces and damaged a large percentage of the Soviet transports that were carrying their mobile infantry. German air sorties are doubled and while this is putting a heavy strain on pilots and machines the results are deemed worth it with hundreds of tanks destroyed alongside thousands of trucks, artillery guns, supply caches, and trains and large tracks of the railway system.

    With the northern pincer utterly gone Rommel and Guderian are pressing in for the kill against the central Soviet formation. The central formation, already heavily damaged by the previous days combat are in a weakened state and cannot call upon the southern pincer to reinforce as the southern pincer itself is fighting for its life to just stand its ground. Zhukov is waiting for the remainder of the Soviet reinforcements to arrive (the 200,000 men and the final 300 tanks) to reinforce his position so he can hold it long enough for the mud rains to begin which will prevent any large scale mobile warfare.

    Soviet Underground Command Bunker, Smolensk:
    Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov stood alongside dozens of other generals and communication officers, most of them having their NKVD hound alongside them. His own watch dog Commissar Dmitry Novoborosky stood behind Zhukov with his protective guards, near the edge of the room.

    Reports were coming in that the northern pincer was destroyed and that the central formation was under assault and would fall if not reinforced. But where can he spare troops to reinforce it? His strategic reserve was thrown into the central formation to hold the line but was now falling back as most of those boys were combat virgins and the Germans were taking advantage of that, mercilessly butchering them.

    Above him he could hear the drone of bomber’s engines throbbing and roaring: another bombing run by the Luftwaffe. The Red Air Force had effectively ceased to exist the past couple of days. They did well when Starfall launched but were eventually overwhelmed by Luftwaffe training, better aircraft, and reinforcements sealed the casket on the Soviet air force. There were some couple of hundred left here and there but not enough organized to defend Smolensk.

    The Germans defensive tactics bled the Red Army white. Especially the German 88s which accounted for over 30% of the Red Army tank losses. German entrenchments and machine gun fire thinned the infantry ranks like a scythe through wheat. The Soviets would hold for a time but they would be forced to fall back. The lack of munitions (due to the heavy German bombing of the railroads and supply networks), untrained troops, a weak and incompetent officer corps due to the Commissariat, and hundreds upon hundreds of tanks desperately needing maintenance and/or repair was a dagger in Zhukov’s side.

    The Soviets still outnumbered the Germans and the ROA but the Soviets almost always outnumbered the Hun. Zhukov almost had won. He was close. So close, he thought as he slammed his fist in his other hand. Yet his gamble had failed. He had almost defeated the Germans but Rommel and his attack on the northern pincer turned the tide. The central formation was slowly being pushed back and the southern pincer was unable to move as List had stopped the Red Army in their tracks there.

    The only logical course was a withdrawal. Smolensk would have to be evacuated. With such losses the Red Army had taken and the almost non-existence of the Red Air Force would cause Smolensk to be re-surrounded and Zhukov would not waste lives to keep holding the city while there was no chance of it being relieved.

    Zhukov glanced at Novoborosky. This is must be how Timoshenko felt before he ordered the retreat in July of 1941. If he ordered the retreat would Stalin order his death, he wondered. Yes. Stalin would. The General Secretary had become more paranoid and argumentative as of late and with the failure of Starfall Zhukov would be executed if for anything it would to be as an example for the rest of the nation.

    He turned and walked to his commissar at the edge of the room. If he could get Novoborosky on his side then it will be politically sanctioned. “Comrade Commissar, have you seen the reports?”

    “Yes, Comrade Marshal, I have.”

    “Then you know we must fall back. If we stay here we die and if we die than the Soviet Union will fall.”

    “Are you a defeatist?” a warning, threatening tone entered the commissar’s voice.

    “No. Only a realist,” Zhukov stated defiantly.

    Novoborosky stared at him. He was a commissar, a political officer, and lackey of Beria, Stalin and the Communist Party. But he was not an idiot. He sighed. “We will be executed. You understand that?”

    “Yes. But even if we die some part of the Red Army will survive and perhaps Moscow will not fall, the Soviet Union may yet survive another year.”

    The commissar thought it over and nodded. “Very well, issue the order. I may not like you, Zhukov. But you are a true, loyal son of the USSR. You have my permission to carry out a withdrawal.”

    Zhukov stood shocked; he did not think it would be that easy. But Novoborosky had been in Smolensk with him for many months. He saw the catastrophically high casualty reports. The supply issues due to German bombardment and partisan ambushes had weakened the Red Army’s ability to wage war. The commissar recognized the truth in Zhukov’s words.

    Zhukov began issuing orders for a withdrawal. He ordered depleted infantry and tank divisions to sacrifice their lives for the majority to survive, all complied, their loyalty and dedication to Zhukov and the Soviet Union knew no bounds. An hour into the orders, with confirmation reports coming back, Zhukov received a new report.

    “Sir,” said one of the radio operators, “we received a radio communiqué from the undamaged railroads from out of our original offensive starting position. Our reinforcements are here.”

    Zhukov turned quickly and looked at Novoborosky, walking towards the commissar because this information changed everything. With those 200,000 men and 300 tanks the line could hold, just maybe. He turned to the radio operator to order the reinforcements forward and stop the withdrawal when the whole room shook once, twice and on the third hell unleashed in the room.

    (The Germans had been bombing Smolensk for hours and a German He-179 dropped its entire bombing load over the Soviet command bunker, by complete luck as it is hard to aim and predict where the bombs will go from so high in the air. Most of the bombs hit nearby killing hundreds and damaging the already devastated buildings but three bombs hit the Soviet bunker itself. The first two destroyed the upper floors and the last bomb fell into the underground portion.)

    Zhukov’s eyes flickered open. He glanced around seeing dozens of dead officers and commissars, he himself was on his stomach. He looked up at where his commissar was a moment ago, Novoborosky himself was dead, a chunk of the ceiling having smashed his skull. Zhukov looked around and with a glance over his shoulder at the open ceiling to where he could see the smoke filled sky he understood what happened. The bomb had penetrated the lower portion of the bunker and it had brought most of the ceiling with it. Zhukov being at the edge of the room survived the collapse of the central section of the roof. It was only luck he had survived. The screams of wounded and dying echoed through the room. Red Army medics appeared to help those still alive. Only now, with the adrenaline dying down, did Zhukov realize he was wounded. Shrapnel was all over his back, blood seeping out of him. He screamed as the pain hit him. The medics got to him and he saw they were preparing a heavy dose of morphine. He tried to stop screaming and to tell them to send the order to stop withdrawing and to send in the newly arrived reinforcements. But the medics stuck him with morphine before he could utter the orders. As pain relieving blackness enveloped him he kept trying to tell them to send out the orders but no words escaped his lips.

    German bombers hit the Soviet command bunker in Smolensk killing dozens of high ranking officers and severely wounding Zhukov along with many of the other officers. The scores of radios in the room were shredded by shrapnel and the Soviet forces, not knowing about the reinforcements or Zhukov’s attempt to halt the withdrawal continued their withdrawal. The reinforcements waited near the railroads as they continued to unload troops and supplies, waiting for orders; orders that would never come.

    German forces, sensing the Soviets retreating, push hard against their defenses but the Soviet stalling units are willfully sacrificing themselves to buy time for most of the Red Army forces to escape, albeit suffering constant aerial attack.

    August 10th, 1942-August 13th, 1942- German and ROA forces continue pushing the central formation back. The southern pincer also retreats back to safer Soviet lines. Zhukov, who is still under medically induced unconsciousness, is flown to Moscow where the NKVD takes him under their jurisdiction; not knowing Novoborosky authorized the retreat. While they won’t kill him, they want him to heal first; they will watch him and ‘guard’ him. All across the Smolensk area Soviet forces are in retreat. Anywhere from half to two-thirds will be ravaged by German aircraft and fast moving German panzer units.

    Over three hundred thousand men of the Red Army are surrendering as they are either tired of war, cut off from retreat, or being held down by commissars and some sometimes Soviet commanders who question the validity of the order as they had not received it yet due to the tragedy in Smolensk concerning the underground bunker and fight to the death. (The Soviets were withdrawing in an organized and efficient manner until the bunker was decimated and with their main communication hub with command gone the withdrawal collapsed into a chaotic retreat with it being pretty much a free for all, and all for one kind of deal, eerily similar to the July Meltdown.

    August 14th, 1942- Smolensk, after months of defiance, has finally fallen as the last Soviet forces are defeated. German troops have retaken all their lost territory and even captured new territory. The launching stages for Starfall have been overrun by German and ROA forces. The reinforcements: the 200,000 men and 300 tanks are immediately put back on trains and sent straight to Moscow to be the nucleus of the defenses there. German and ROA flags rise of the conquered Soviet city. The Battle of Smolensk was over.

    August 17th, 1942- German and ROA troops have advanced far, thanks only to the disorganized structure of the Red Army as it is currently being led by local generals who are not in communication with others to form a better defense line. German bombers begin bombing Moscow in large amounts and the few Red Air Force squadrons left try intercepting them but cannot get them all as German fighter squadrons are escorting these bombers. Morale in the Soviet Union, especially in Moscow is plummeting. Smolensk, the Gates to Moscow, had fallen and there was very little the Red Army had to stop the Axis. They still outnumbered the Axis but these forces are not concentrated or effectively used by local Red Army commanders as their main goal was to go as far east as they could. It does not help that panzer-busting Stukas, protected by fighters, are diving down upon the retreating Soviets like vultures leaving countless numbers of broken Red Army vehicles throughout the Russia plains .

    August 19th, 1942- Field Marshal von Manstein reluctantly orders Fall Orange and the drive towards Moscow to cease. Axis losses, especially in armored units, had been dreadfully high and most of the remaining panzers, vehicles and aircraft were in desperate need of maintenance. Entire divisions of infantry had been reduced to the size of companies. Ammunition, fuel, replacement soldiers and other supplies were all in short supply.

    Von Manstein could not take Moscow, not even in the weakened state of the Red Army. After over a week of a chaotic retreat the NKVD Army had stopped the full on retreat of the Red Army and had organized it into moderate defensive formations west of Moscow. Even in their weak state the Wehrmacht would not be able to break through. It just did not have the offensive power just yet. And the heavy rains were beginning, signalling the beginning of the rasputitsa which would stop all forms of large scale warfare for the next couple of months, then add the winter freeze afterwards and you are looking at a relatively quiet Eastern Front until next year's summer as much of spring will be plagued by the spring rasputitsa as the snop and ice will melt into the ground, making it a mirror of the fall mud time.

    August 20th, 1942- The Eastern Front waged the largest battles seen in the war so far and after months of deaths and destruction the German offensives and Soviet offensives ended in exhaustion. The Germans had emerged as the winner of 1942 but had suffered heavy losses and the war in Scandinavia was growing, forcing more and more reinforcements and supplies to that Theatre. The Germans might have won but could they replace all the losses they suffered by the time the next campaigning season began. These are serious questions floating around Berlin, asked in nervous voices.

    Eastern Front: August 20th, 1942


    Eastern Front as of August 20th, 1942.

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  20. miner249er Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Chapter 20 (No Title due to the only one Story segment)

    This is mainly an information Chapter.

    Due to my lack of giving answers in some sections and being asked to do this here we go. I will be giving a heads up of the British and French Air and Ground Forces, alongside the Soviets and Germans. Not numbers of units but of the primary tanks/rifles/aircraft etc. And of the U.S. and Japanese militaries as well to give a better picture, if not complete, picture of the war. NOTE: Not all variants will be the exact same as OTL, like when they are produced (post 1940 designs) and the exact modifications. Also I will only be mentioning the MAJOR designs, the most common, not a design that had like ten aircraft.

    Air Forces
    British Air Force (Royal Air Force in late 1942 ASoSaF Timeline)
    - The RAF began the war with a large amount of Hawker Hurricanes with a steadily growing number of Supermarine Spitfires. As of late August 1942 the main fighter variants are as followed.
    The Hawker Hurricane-
    Hurricane Mk IIA: The basic, and most produced, fighter variant of the Hurricane. First flew in September of 1940. Was used primarily on the Western Front over the Westwall/Maginot Lines but as the German Bf-109s and FW-190s became refined and upgraded the Hurricane was sent to more minor fronts while the Spitfire took predominance in the RAF. The Hurricane is in large numbers in British possessions in the Pacific as the more advanced Spitfire is generally reserved in Europe.
    Hurricane Mk IIB: Due to the growing ineffectiveness of the Hurricane as a fighter in European skies the Hurricane Mk IIB is the first fighter-bomber/close support fighter of the RAF. Is being used heavily in air combat over North Africa and saw first use in combat in Greece but was not there in large numbers. Not used very much over western Germany as it would have to be low altitude for effective bomb dropping and being so close to the ground against the faster German fighters and their extensive AA system would be near suicide (by the time they climb out of their dive they would have been shot down by one or the other, usually).
    Hurricane Mk IIB (Tropical): North African variant of the Mk IIB. Includes dust filters and desert survival kits.
    Hurricane Mk IIC: An upgraded IIB with better anti-ground armament. Replaced the machine guns with four 20mm cannons; effective against light armored vehicles. Used as an effective night fighter.
    Hurricane Mk IID: Another variant and the latest so far of the Hurricane. Replaces the four 20mm cannons for two 40mm cannons; these 40mm cannons are much better at piercing vehicles armor.

    Hawker Sea Hurricane: The naval variant of the Hurricane, based off carriers.
    (Also to mention) Hawker Typhoon
    : Used as a low altitude fighter interceptor, capable of combating the Focke-Wulf FW-190 at low altitude very effectively but quickly being converted to a ground-attack fighter as upgraded Spitfires are taking over the interceptor role.

    Supermarine Spitfire-
    Spitfire Mk 1A/1B: First majorly produced Spitfire. Performed well early in the war but is having to be replaced as technology improves.
    Spitfire Mk IIA/IIB: The next variant of the Spitfire, overall many minor improvements but does not become the main variant as the next generation of the Spitfire is already in production.
    Spitfire Mk VA/VB/VC: Overall enhancements and improvements. This variant is quickly adopted in late 1940 to become the main variant. This still holds true as of late 1942 but another, superior version is already in production.
    Spitfire Mk IX: Standardized for quicker production (as this is important in a Britain that has not gone to a War Economy as the public/Government will not allow it and would rather wish there was no war, the French Government is the same if not more wary of the war) but with no decrease in ability. Actually has multiple minor increases ranging from speed, engine, wings and such. It is becoming the dominant variant over the Mk V A/B/C classes.
    Supermarine Seafire: The naval variant of the Spitfire, based off carriers.

    Vickers Wellington-
    Vickers Wellington is the most widely produced British medium bomber. The most common variants are the Type 416 Wellington Mark IC, Type 417 Wellington B Mark III, and most recently Type 440 Wellington Mark B Mark X.

    Avro Lancaster-
    Avro Lancaster: Is a British four engine heavy bomber. Rapidly becoming the main bomber of the RAF since its induction earlier in 1942; though its numbers are currently low it is a force that is growing.

    Handley Page Halifax-
    Handley Page Halifax: Was a contestant to the Avro Lancaster and despite showing promise was overshadowed by the Lancaster. The HPH is still produced in moderate amounts.

    Short Stirling-
    The Short Stirling was a contender for the next stage of RAF bombing and was a prime candidate but lost out to both the HPH and the Lancaster with the Lancaster taking the lead of the four engine bombers.

    Fairey Barracuda-
    Fairey Barracuda: A British carrier based dive bomber.

    Fairey Firefly-
    Fairey Firefly: A British carrier based fighter.

    French Air Force
    Morane-Saulnier M.S.406-

    Morane-Saulnier M.S.406: The main French fighter during the early stages of World War Two but was underpowered and lightly armed by the German Bf-109E during 1940 and demands by the French Air Command have produced superior variants but the plane as a whole is being phased out in favor of the Dewoitine D.520. Current variant is the M.S. 450 variant of the original design.

    Latécoère 298-
    Latécoère 298: A French carrier based dive bomber.

    Dewoitine D.520-
    Dewoitine D.520: Developed in 1940 for the French Air Force. Since 1941 it has become the main fighter for the French. The D.520 is very close in combat prowess to the German Bf-109 and Fw-190 but not quite to their lethality but close.

    Dewoitine D.529-
    Dewoitine D.529:French naval variant of the D.520. Launched from carriers as their base.

    Lioré-et-Olivier LeO 45-
    Lioré-et-Olivier LeO 45B: The main medium bomber of the French Air Force. Current mass variant is the LeO 45B.

    Bloch MB.162-
    Bloch MB.162A: The French four engine heavy bomber, entered service in late 1941 and alongside the LeO 45B is the most common French bomber.

    German Air Force
    Messerschmitt Bf-109-
    Messerschmitt Bf-109: The standard German fighter that the Third Reich began the war with and with constant refinements and improvements has retained its very lethal edge. The latest (and more powerful) variants are the Bf-109F and the Bf-109G.

    Focke-Wulf FW-190-
    Focke-Wulf-109: Introduced in 1941 the FW-190 had some teething problems and was not deemed fully effective until more improved variants rolled out in early 1942. Once more deadly variants came out in 1942 it was deemed to be as deadly as the Bf-109 and is produced in slightly smaller numbers than the Bf-109. The most advanced variant is the FW-190A-2.

    (All bombers are produced in lesser numbers ITTL due to decisions made in 1940. That is why bombers are reserved and used only when air superiority has been achieved, most of the time.)
    Junkers Ju 87 “Stuka”-
    Junkers Ju 87 “Stuka”: Infamous German dive bomber. Serves well on the Eastern and Northern Front but is vulnerable to air interception. As the war progresses and more and more advanced and deadly fighters start coming out of production the Stuka is becoming more and more obsolete. However it is used as a reserve to assault enemy tank/vehicle formations. Ju 87D is the current variant.

    Heinkel He 111-
    Heinkel He 111: A German medium bomber that was a pre-war model and through its continued upgrades and improvements has remained a viable medium bomber. The current variant is the Heinkel He 111 H11.

    Dornier Do 17/217 “Flying Pencil”-
    Dornier Do 17/217 “Flying Pencil”: The Dornier Do 17 was a German pre-war medium bomber and despite early success it had a large variety of issues as 1940 progressed. Due to this a new overhaul of the Do 17, the Dornier Do 217 came out in mid 1941 and has served valiantly in tactical bombings thereby replacing the aging Dornier Do 17 as construction of the Do 17 has been switched to the more powerful Do 217. Standard bombing variant is the Dornier Do 217K-1.

    Junkers Ju 88-
    Junkers Ju 88: Most common German medium bomber in terms of numbers produced and used. Dependable and adaptable the Ju 88’s latest variant in mass production is the Ju 88S due to its high speed which is better able to escape enemy fighters.

    Junkers Ju 89-
    Junkers Ju 89: The first Ural Bomber design. Produced since the late 1930s the Ural Bomber Program was controversial in the Luftwaffe as much of the Luftwaffe’s officers wanted a large tactical bomber program instead of a mixed strategic/tactical mix. However Field Marshal (then a General) was able to convince Hitler, Göring and other key people in the military and government to authorize and produce the Junkers Ju 89 strategic, long range bomber. The Junkers Ju 89 performed well throughout the war but is becoming dated as the need for a more powerful, better armored and armed bomber is increasing as the Soviets continue to push their factories further east. The Junkers Ju 89 production was halved to begin startup production of the second Ural bomber: the Heinkel He 179. Current variant of the Ju 89 is the Junkers Ju 89E

    Heinkel He 179-
    Heinkel He 179: The second Ural Bomber. Despite being produced by Heinkel it has many similarities to the Junkers Ju 89. It is an overall improvement in terms of range, engine power, armament and bomb load. It is steadily replacing the Junkers Ju 89, taking away production from the Ju 89 to the He-179. Current variant is the He-179A with He-179B on the way and will be produced by early 1943.

    Soviet Air Force

    Yak-1: A well armed Soviet fighter that began production in 1940. The Yak-1 is slowly being replaced by the Yak-7 and Yak-9. The Yak-1 performed well, much better than most of the Soviet fighter designs throughout 1940-1941 and even throughout 1942 it was able to hold its own but more advanced and deadlier designs are replacing the Soviet fighter. There is an overall enhancement of the Yak-1 about to enter production. The Yak-1B will begin production in late September or mid October.

    Yak-7: The Yak-7 is based off the Yak-1 design and is a heavier fighter capable of taking more damage and is quickly gaining popularity. Variant: Yak-7A.

    Yak-9: The Yak-9 is the latest fighter design for the Red Air Force. It is heavily influenced by the Yak-1 and Yak-7 and training tests are praising the Yak-9. Soviet factories in the Urals are gearing up to produce the Yak-9 in large quantities but these same factories are also struggling to re-supply the Red Army and Red Air Force of current materials since the devastating losses of the Battle of Smolensk. The railroads around much of western Russia not in German hands have been devastated by Axis bombers and the Soviet Union is struggling to supply its people of food and war material.

    Lavochkin La-5-
    Lavochkin La-5: While not as numerous as the Yak type fighters the La-5 is dependable and used heavily when available.

    Petlyakov Pe-2 “Peshka”-
    Petlyakov Pe-2 “Peshka”: The Soviet twin engine dive bomber that also operates effectively as a night fighter, heavy fighter, reconnaissance plane and a light bomber. Highly durable and produced in large quantities, much of which have been shot down or captured by the Axis but replacements are on order and will come… eventually.

    Ilyushin Il-4-
    Ilyushin Il-4: A very basic but exceptionally well performing medium bomber. Derived from the DB-3 bomber design the Il-4 is easier to produce and has higher performance than the DB-3. Used extensively on all fronts by the Red Air Force.

    Tupolev SB-
    Tupolev SB: The most important Soviet bomber through the early stages of the war but by 1941 was considered obsolete. Despite this hundreds are still produced and sent to various fronts. Due to their outdated capability the SBs are focused on the Siberian Front and on the Soviet-Turkish border as a deterrent; and also against the Finnish forces on the Soviet-Finnish border.

    Japanese Air Force (Imperial Japanese Army Air Service)
    Mitsubishi Ki-21-

    Mitsubishi Ki-21: The most produced medium bomber of the Japanese Army Air Service. Most current variant is the Ki-21-IIa.

    Mitsubishi Ki-30-
    Mitsubishi Ki-30: The Ki-30 is an aging light bomber but despite this is still employed in China and Siberia.

    Kawasaki Ki-32-
    Kawasaki Ki-32: An old Japanese light bomber that while it has served well, it performed poorly on the Siberian Front. Production has been scaled back to produce more and better designs. The remainder of the Ki-32s is serving in China continuously bombing Chinese warring factions (Nationalists and Communists being the biggest).

    Kawasaki Ki-48-
    Kawasaki Ki-48: A slow and lightly armed/armored light bomber. It has, since the military actions against the Soviets, been transformed into a semi-dive bomber.

    Nakajima Ki-49-
    Nakajima Ki-49: A heavy bomber of the IJAAS. Current variant is the Ki-49-IIA. Notable for carrying many of the larger loads of Imperial biological warfare bombs in China, which has so far killed over a million.

    Nakajima Ki-27-
    Nakajima Ki-27: One of the most produced fighters for the IJAAS. But after many flaws shown flying against the Red Air Force the Ki-27 production has been canceled to make room for more advanced designs. The majority of the surviving Ki-27 is in China and Siberia. Ki-27b is the most produced variant.

    Nakajima Ki-43-
    Nakajima Ki-43: A new fighter that is rapidly gaining popularity. Is the successor to the Ki-27b which has recently stopped mass production. Despite some minor issues it has performed very well against Chinese and Soviet aircraft.

    Nakajima Ki-44-
    Nakajima Ki-44: A better aircraft than the Ki-43 in many ways but is plagued with design flaws that have hindered it from reaching its full potential. The Ki-44 started production in mid 1942 with no new variants/upgrade out just yet.

    Kawasaki Ki-45 Kai-
    Kawasaki Ki-45 Kai: Used for a variety of purposes including long range escort missions, fleet defense and ground attack. Ki-45KAIa is current variant.

    Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service
    Mitsubishi A5M-

    Mitsubishi A5M: The predecessor to the A6M “Zero”. By 1941 the A5M fighter was becoming obsolete by 1941 and delegated to secondary bases and air coverage over China/Siberia.

    Mitsubishi A6M-
    Mitsubishi A6M: The deadly and dreaded Zero fighter. Already surpassing the A5M in production and effectiveness, further variants are already in the works to make the plane even more deadly. The A6M2 is the current mass produced variant.

    Mitsubishi G3M-
    Mitsubishi G3M: A pre-war design the G3M medium bomber performed adequately in the late 30 but by the early 40s a improved model was needed. The G4M would be that new model. Despite losing its bomber focus to the G4M the G3M is still used heavily as a transporter.

    Mitsubishi G4M-
    Mitsubishi G4M: The G4M is an extremely long range medium bomber with high speed. It succeeds at gaining these by being very lightly armored and having no self-sealing fuel tanks. The G4M1 variant is the current one but a call for a more armored G4M is desperately needed and a new variant is soon to enter testing (G4M2).

    Aichi D3A (Aichi D3A1)/Yokosuka D4Y/Nakajima B5N (B5N2): All of these are the main dive-bombers of the Imperial Navy as of late 1942. All are in mass production.

    Italian Air Force
    Reggiane Re.2001/Reggiane Re. 2002/Macchi C.200/Macchi C.202/Fiat G.50/
    : The main fighters of the Italian Air Force. As they had multiple designs, with none reaching very high numbers (bi-planes were not counted) so that is why I’m just giving the names here. Essentially the same as OTL’s Italian Air Force yet all of these have had small upgrades that were not in OTL due to Italy’s determination/dedication to the war and a more efficient industrial/engineering system.

    IMAM Ro. 54 (A near exact version of the OTL Ro. 57. It was produced earlier ITTL with an emphasis on ground attack). Is the ground-attack fighter plane of the Italian Air Force since early 1941 and performs well in North Africa and had done so in Greece.

    Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 /Savoia-Marchetti SM.81/Savoia-Marchetti SM.82/Savoia-Marchetti SM.84/Fiat Br.20
    The Italian bombers are essentially the same as OTL albeit a much more refined and deadlier version than OTL’s due to more experience with their planes, revealing the flaws, and them being fixed in newer versions.

    American Air Forces (Navy and Army Air Force)
    Douglas A-20 Havoc-
    Douglas A-20 Havoc: An American light bomber produced in 1941 and onwards. Although not the fastest or most maneuverable light bomber in the world the A-20 has a reputation of being tough and dependable. The A-20 while an excellent aircraft is facing low numbers due to the Republican enforced budget stipulations that has resulted in many bomber and fighter designs to be made but at a more minuscule amount than is desired by the military and the President.

    Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress-
    Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress: The B-17 is an American heavy bomber, built with strategic bombing in mind. Can take tremendous damage and still return to its home airfield, the B-17 is the pinnacle of American strategic bombing. Despite all the praise and strength of the B-17 the American bomber is not widely produced, compared to many others in the American air fleets. The reason lies with Congress. The Republican controlled Congress, since 1940 (took over Senate and the House to the surprise of almost everyone) has curtailed heavily in American military spending, much to the chagrin of Roosevelt. The B-17 was one of many designs that were deemed too expensive to build when there was no war in sight, despite evidence contradictory to this. A short-sighted view to be sure. While numbers of the B-17 are relatively low the Army Air Force has spent a lot of time and money to continue improving the already formidable design. The latest variant of the B-17 is the B-17F and is slowly replacing the B-17E.

    Consolidated B-24 Liberator-
    Consolidated B-24 Liberator: Another American heavy bomber that while it shows great promise and durability is once again produced in low numbers as it is even more expensive than the B-17, also the B-24 was introduced to the American military mid-1941 and has not had the time or production budget to be mass produced, the current variant of the B-24 is the B-24A. The American military has not placed many orders for the B-24 as it is relatively new and in contest with the more well known B-17.

    North American B-25 Mitchell-
    North American B-25 Mitchell: A relatively new medium bomber to the American arsenal. The B-25 suffers from the same fate as the B-24 as it is not well known and not many orders have gone out to produce the aircraft due to budget stipulations.

    Martin B-26 Marauder-
    Martin B-26 Marauder: The B-26 is a troubled bomber design. Nicknamed the “Widowmaker”, alongside other names such as the “Martin Murderer”, “Flying Coffin” and more the B-26 has a deadly tendency to stall and crash as the bomber are trying to land on runways due to if they slow down too much it will crash as the B-26 tries to and much faster than other bombers thereby throwing pilots off on what is a safe slow speed to land at. While improved models are being researched the B-26 is on the verge of cancellation if the issues are not resolved soon. Despite the faulty landing issues the B-26 is otherwise an effective bomber and quite fast. Variant in the work is the B-26B-10 variant. Has more promise than the default design and ways to counter but not effectively eliminate the stall issues. Due to the stalling issue it is unpopular with pilots and produced less than every other modern bomber in the USAAF.

    Vultee A-31 Vengeance-
    Vultee A-31 Vengeance: American dive-bomber purpose built for the RAF that has done adequately but improved models are needed. Current variant is the A-31-NO and a few hundred have been built and transported to Britain.

    Douglas SBD Dauntless-
    Douglas SBD Dauntless: This dive bomber is the main dive bomber/scour plane for the U.S. Navy and is the most widely produced since mid 1940. Current variant is the SBD-4. The SBD’s main competition is the Brewster SB2A Buccaneer but the Buccaneer is not favored by the Navy and is produced in very small amounts.

    Grumman TBF Avenger-
    Grumman TBF Avenger: This up and coming naval dive bomber holds great promise and is well liked by naval pilots. However it has not reached mass production as it only just reached military service and is facing competition from the SBD Dauntless and even the SB2A. But the TBF Avenger shows great promise and could gain stride if the peace time situation changes.

    Lockheed P-38 Lightning-
    Lockheed P-38 Lightning: The long range USAAF fighter that is performs well as a night fighter, recon missions, and as a dive bomber.

    Bell P-39 Airacobra-
    Bell P-39 Airacobra: A USAAF fighter that is produced and performs well but due to a design flaw is limited to low altitude combat.

    Curtis P-40 Warhawk-
    Curtis P-40 Warhawk: One of the most common fighters of the USAAF.

    Grumman F4F Wildcat-
    Grumman F4F Wildcat: The primary carrier based U.S. Navy aircraft as of late 1942. Current variants are the F4F-3 and the F4F-4.

    Vought F4U Corsair-
    Vought F4U Corsair: Originally designed to become a carrier based aircraft it had issues with landing on carriers. Before the design could be cancelled the USMC took the design and now plans to use it as the primary USMC fighter. F4U-1 is the current variant.

    Republic P-47 Thunderbolt-
    Republic P-47 Thunderbolt: A new fighter design for the U.S. military, is planned to become one of the main fighter designs but so far only has a few hundred built and in use. It is the largest, heaviest, and most expensive fighter aircraft in the U.S. fighter arsenal that is powered by a single piston engine.

    North American P-51 Mustang-
    North American P-51 Mustang: The Mustang is planned to be another of the main fighter designs of the USAAF for the 1940s. But the current model is not built with long range escort in mind but combat throughout Europe and Africa has shown the error of this thinking. The USAAF is as of now modifying the Mustang to become a long range escort fighter but this will take time.

    Ok now that all that is done here is the Entente-American Trade:
    There is the normal trade that is natural between countries AND the Lend-Lease trade. The Lend-Lease ITTL is not as great as it was in OTL. Most of the Lend-Lease has to do with war material, foodstuffs and such to help keep France and Britain fighting the war on a large scale as their governments has not authorized a widespread War Economy which has led to some shortages in some areas (for the military) so the U.S. contributes the remainder. As a Republican dominated Congress has impeded the expansion of the military the U.S. cannot sell hundred/thousands of tanks, planes or even ships to the Entente. It can sell some yes but not a whole lot as the U.S. military has to keep some to protect its own territory and people.

    The majority of supplies sent to the Entente are as I said foodstuffs, fuel, scrap metals, ammunition, some artillery/mortar/machine guns and a minuscule amount of planes and tanks (most of these being older late 30s designs) that do help the Entente but the Entente military want more to run a large, multi-front campaign. The U.S. is on the verge of beginning to expand widespread Lend-Lease as Roosevelt has been able to get some Republicans on his side that a war in Europe is bad for everyone and that ending it as soon as possible is good for humanity. These few Republicans, plus all the Democrats, give the pro-Lend Lease people the most votes in Congress. Roosevelt and his pro-Lend Lease Republican-Democrat alliance are trying to push through the enlargement bill of the Lend Lease which will triple if not quadruple the amount of tanks, planes, ships to the Entente military forces. Only time will tell if the vote will go through or not.

    Somewhere in the North Pacific:
    Commander Minoru Genda stood on the deck if the aircraft carrier Akagi, command ship of the Imperial 4th Fleet, the fleet sailing towards Pearl Harbor. He stood at the forefront of the carrier, behind him technicians; engineers, pilots and other sailors worked on the planes on deck or were doing normal ship duties.

    The deep blue of the Pacific crashed against the hulls of dozens of ships of the Imperial Navy. In his head Genda knew where they all were: the carriers in the middle of the vast fleet with the destroyers on the very edge and all the other ships in between. Overhead dozens of planes flew in a constant Combat Air Patrol.

    Despite the constant noise of the carrier, the sounds of moving water and the buss of aircraft Genda heard footsteps behind him. Turning his head to see who it was he smiled to see Commander Mitsuo Fuchida. The Commander of the Fighters walked briskly to Genda, his normal pace.

    Since both men were of the same rank they just respectfully bowed their heads in the direction of the other. As both commanders looked out at the expanse of the Pacific Fuchida cleared his throat. “How goes the planning, commander?”

    Genda thought about how to phrase it, “The planning of the operation is adapting as our spies in Pearl Harbor continue feeding us information.”

    Fuchida nodded. He tilted his head in thought. “Do the Americans suspect anything?”

    “That is ‘the hundred dollar question,’ to borrow an American term. We do not know for sure as nothing is certain in war but they seem to be unsuspecting. We believe in Washington D.C. they have officers worried about an attack on Pearl and other bases around the Pacific but no one is listening too intently to them, thank the Emperor,” both men slightly bowed their head in respect to their sovereign and god.

    “However,” continued Genda, “we are remaining vigilant and will go in with the worst case scenario in mind but if the Empire is to grow and prosper the Americans must be dealt with.”

    “Will they accept the loss of their Pacific possessions?” pondered the aircraft commander.

    Genda bit the inside of his cheek in thought. “The Philippines they will, too close to us, too far from them. Midway they will have to. Hawaii… Hawaii I’m not so sure about. It might not be a province, state they call it, but it has been a territory for some time. They may want to take it back.”

    “Do you think they can? We will have three divisions of the Army plus whatever marines the ships can spare.”

    “We can take the islands, that I’m sure of, if,” he stressed the word, “the American fleet is dealt with.”

    “It was you were it not? The one who thought to land troops on the islands and occupy Hawaii?”

    “Yes. It took me a long time to convince Yamamoto of the benefits and him even longer to convince the Army but they did see the wisdom in this course of action. If we hit the Americans, devastate their fleet and ports. Then what? We buy the Empire six or so months before the Americans recover enough to attack us further west. It is better we take this the Hawaiian Islands and force them to use their West Coast as a base of operations instead of Pearl Harbor.”

    Fuchida smiled. “Ambitious. If we do enough damage and take enough territory quickly they may very well ask for an armistice. The Americans have no stomach for war. We are warriors, they are merely soldiers. They have no will to fight to the death for one’s nation. Once we show our might this sleeping giant people whisper about in Tokyo will submit to the Emepror’s wishes. They will go to the peace tables for an armistice on our terms, mark my words.”

    “Agreed,” said Genda. But ever as the voice of caution he did voice his thought, “If the Americans somehow do not ask for peace than we must stand ready to guard the eastern borders of the Empire. They are numerous and do have a larger industrial base, probably the largest in the world if not the largest. We must be ready and vigilant.”

    “Of course,” Fuchida stated as a matter of fact. Both men looked out at the ocean again. A Zero flew overhead signaling his intent to land. Both men stepped off the landing deck. As they walked to the tower Fuchida asked one more question. “When will we launch?”

    Genda stopped and looked east to where their target was, hopefully ignorant of the predator heading towards it. “Soon,” he said, “very soon.”
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