I’ve recaptured Tobruk well ahead of schedule. Leningrad is still well defended. The Yelets-Voronezh corridor is stable. Mark has yet to reach Grozny or Stalingrad. I’m rather pleased. Granted, much of Mark’s initial focus was on reducing the Rzhev sector to a smaller front, which was something not previously done in our last game. However, in this scenario, the key to the entire Russian Front is delaying the Axis forces long enough for decent reinforcements to arrive and replacements to build up. That is happening now, as next turn I’ll get an entire Guards Tank Army, and a slew of artillery divisions a turn later. Those arty units will be critical to my shift from defensive warfare to offensive, which should take place over the winter months.
I was surprised to see Mark didn’t make much progress here. Even with my increased strength in the sector, the German Panzer divisions should have been able to push aside many of my depleted divisions. The 67th Army deployed in the northern half of this sector, where Mark is massed the strongest. The southern wing will have to deal with the pressure for now, as I’m just now shifting 10 mechanized divisions from the Orel Front Group to launch what should be a very strong counter-offensive in this sector. That will have to wait at least one turn, until the tanks are unloaded from the trains and get gassed up.
The German forces here have the distinct advantage of a rail supply line from Maikop/Rostov. My supply lines are stretched over open terrain from the Astrakhan/Grozny rail line. Mark has plowed through my western wing, as two Panzer divisions raced as far into the rear area as possible. I have surrounded them for now, but their friends should be trying to reach them soon enough. Using a defense-in-depth approach here should work, as I’m only looking to delay the enemy advance, not necessarily stop it. The 70th Army has arrived from Astrakhan, and deployed along the river east of Blagodarnoye. That will be my new stop line.
As I alluded to in the Strategic Outlook, I’m occupying Tobruk far earlier than in the previous game. At this point last time around, I hadn’t even launched Operation Turnpike, which was basically the Battle of El Alamein. My tanks didn’t enter Tobruk until Turn 37! So this is a significant victory for the Western Allies. It also sets the timetable for advancing to Tunisia.