The city has fallen to the Axis. The leftover 5th Shock, 14th, 19th, and 33rd armies will be enveloped and captured. This is likely the final update from Murmansk.
OPERATION: MEGAPHONE is now active, with plans being laid out for what is to be a multi-faceted attack via air and ground. Two airborne divisions will drop into two zones at rail junctions , both of which hold the approach to the sector for reinforcements. This will not only physically block the rail and road, but destroy the rail lines so that even if the airborne units are destroyed, Axis reinforcements will have to disembark farther away from the point of attack. At the same time, two Guards armies (one tank army), supported by two more large Guards formations, will exploit the already weakened center of the German line opposite Yelets. I’ve been pounding the enemy for several turns now with massed artillery behind Yelets, and three more artillery divisions are arriving by rail this turn. Once all the artillery is in place, I will blast a hole in the German line, then smash through with tanks and infantry, hopefully linking up with the surviving airborne troops. Depending on how far things get early on in the offensive, Kursk might be a viable objective. But that is a stretch at this point.
The Germans continue to push east to the sea, but it’s a very slow and arduous process for them. I’ve spotted new divisions that have been called up from the rear, and now count three SS Panzer divisions, an SS Cavalry division, and an SS Panzer HQ (likely the I SS Panzer Korps). The bulk of the Axis force is made up of two infantry corps--the LXXXVIII and XI--and the I SS Panzer Korps. Other divisions from other corps are participating in this battle, but those three formations have been the base for this area. I’m planning a counter strike against the German offensive, but until the 1st Guards Tank Army is up to full readiness, I’ll have to be content with holding my ground.
Sectors: Grozny-Black Sea Coast
Both sectors are not doing well, but not exactly falling apart either. At Grozny, the airborne drop did cause me to eventually shift troops away from the city limits, but there is little chance the Germans will be able to use this situation for anything other than giving themselves breathing room. The Black Sea Coastline defenders are still being hammered by relentless German and Italian pressure. The biggest problem I have now is that, while there are enough bodies in the trenches (and of not terrible quality, either), they simply can’t get a good stop on the Axis attackers.
North Africa - The Tunis defenders are dug in strong, with defensive numbers much better than the tired and ill-supplied Americans. The Canadians are trailing behind the rail repair crews as they advance toward the front. In Libya, the British are still rolling toward Tripoli.
NW Europe - Continued bombing raids on Germany have gained some traction, but nothing significant. The addition of another 8th AF squadron of B-17s will help.