The Let's Play Archive

No Retreat! The Russian Front

by Tevery Best

Part 44: Turn 7 - Axis Combat Phase: The Summer Offensive

The Axis begin their summer offensive by shifting large numbers of troops towards Leningrad. It appears that another assault on the city is imminent. Still, the attack means that the Germans will have to leave a large gap in their northern line, which the Soviets could exploit.

To make up for this, Army Group Tiger's Heart is spread thin. The 4th Army heads north to cover the advance on Leningrad, while the Panzers shift away from Moscow and more to the south, where they can aid in a breakthrough attempt. The line is thin, and a Soviet breakthrough here may mean losing Smolensk, but the Germans are confident they can hold.

The southern army group of the Wehrmacht also gathers its forces in preparation to strike. The troops make ready for an attempt at breaching the Soviet line, but their exact plans remain a mystery.

Italian forces are prepared for a strategic move, but the commanders argue about their final destination.

A German infantry unit was a different beast from those of the Allies. The pervading vision of an infantry squad in the latter armies was that they are essentially riflemen units, with squad weapons deployed for assistance, support and obtaining fire superiority. The Germans thought in exactly the opposite way: in their units, it was the machine gun that mattered, and everyone else was pretty much just carrying extra ammo. This is why they had a lot more MGs (for a unit of similar size) than Americans or the British.

However, the lesson of the First World War was that there was a distinct duality in the use of machine guns: light ones were used offensively and heavy ones defensively, which naturally caused logistics problems and favoured the defender (who could use the more powerful heavy machine guns). This conflicted with the aggressive nature of the German war doctrine. The solution was in development before Hitler even seized power, with the engineers of the Weimar Republic clandestinely testing quite revolutionary designs. After the Fuehrer had decided to start breaking the Versailles treaty, the work could be supported more openly by the army and thus it started to proceed faster, finally creating the MG34, the world's first general purpose machine gun.

It was light enough to be carried by a single soldier (it weighed 12 kilograms, 19 with a tripod that could be deployed for more concentrated fire support), and yet packed a punch that could easily compare to contemporary heavy MGs. It could fire up to 900 rounds a minute, which was more than both the portable Degtyaryev (500-600 rpm) or the 60-kilogram Maxim (~600 rpm) that the Soviets used. It could be fed ammo either from a metal ammo belt (first in the world) or a magazine.

These months are, however, the last days of the widespread use of MG34. Despite being a wonderful, reliable and precise weapon, it is already being phased out - it is difficult to produce, and during a war that's kind of a big problem. We'll talk about its replacement quite soon, but for now, let's leave it at this.

Units in the Soviet Railroad Movement Box: Moscow - Regional Infantry, 2-3 (Strategic Reserve)
Units in the Axis Railroad Movement Box: 8th Italian - Axis Minor, 2-3
Available Cadres: Kampfgruppe 1 (Axis)

I need Target Hexes from HerpicleOmnicron5. Once he posts those, Fangz may discard cards to place Counterblows. After both Target and Counterblow hexes are listed and we have a full list of battles for the turn, Herpicle may commit cards and Shock! markers to specific battles, followed by Fangz doing the same. Meanwhile, Army Group commanders post which units take part in which battles and where would they advance in case of a success (or retreat, if there is a possibility of a CA result), and Sector commanders post their preferred retreat destinations (and, if there is a chance of a CA, whether or not they would accept it and where would they advance to, given the chance).

The deadline for all this is Sunday, January 26, 7 PM GMT.