Some new sectors opened up as flash points this turn, mainly on the western side of the Rzhev salient. However, after assessing the damage, I’m rather pleased with where my situation stands.
Smolensk - Vyazma
This is the newest point of attack for Mark’s forces. I usually pull back all three of my armies stationed here--22nd, 41st, 39th--but didn’t this time, thinking they would hold or that Mark wouldn’t even attack. I was wrong, and am paying for it now. He’s overrun all three armies, with a clear path to the rear area of the 4th Shock and 30/10th Guards. The advance of the XLI. Panzer is the most concerning, since it has blown a hole three hexes wide in my front line. I wasn’t able to plug it, even with screening units to delay any flow of troops and tanks through the gap. Had it not been for this sector, the entire turn would have actually been a resounding success.
Orel - Yelets
The new order of battle for the Russians has helped me immensely this game, specifically the newly revamped Front units. They are the black symbols on field of red. Much of them are mechanized, corps-sized units, making them extremely versatile and mobile. On top of it, they’re very strong. Without the availability of these units in the Orel Sector, Mark would have probably taken Tula by now. Instead, now I’m giving him a wall of tank-supported infantry. I was even able to force a Panzergrenadier division to fall back northeast of Orel. However, the situation west of Yelets is not as stable. The 48th Army has been punished badly by the XXIV. Panzer, which seemed to pivot north once the 1st Shock Army arrived to block its eastern trajectory. The action here is far from over, but the Orel - Yelets corridor is much better off now than it was a few turns ago.
Don Front - Voroshilovgrad - Rostov
In a marked change from the last few times I’ve played this scenario, the southern front is extremely quiet for about two turns now. My defensive line from the mouth of the Don River, north along the Donets River to Voronezh (off screen) is stable with local reserves behind the main front. This position is not unbreakable, as I’m sure Mark is simply resting his Panzer divisions for a large offensive in the next few turns. However, by allowing my side to rest and dig in, it will cost many more Axis lives than if Army Group South had kept going full steam. The big turning point in this region is the movement of the 45th and 46th Armies up from the Caucasus. I’ve gone over that already, but I can’t state enough the importance of it.
The III. Panzer Korps has successfully crossed the Don just south of where it splits, with the Romanian II Corps supporting the attack. But I now have a full tank corps from the 3rd Guards Tank to support the defense. Depending on how and where Mark attacks, I might have to pull down the rest of the 3rd to bolster this section of the line.