Continuing from the previous entry, 4th PzGrp has advanced towards the Western Dvina. It is still well within reach of the supply network, but as I mentioned before the bulk of the supplies are distributed from a rail head and the supply issue needs to be thought of from early on. The Russian rail lines had a different gauge than the ones in Western Europe and need to be converted. This task is accomplished by construction units like the one shown below.
|Outlined fucsia in the map, a construction unit that can convert railroad lines into the Western gauge. To convert railroads, the user has to click on the acronym RRC (railroad conversion) in the right panel.|
During the second week of operations, 4th PzGrp routs the Russian paratroopers near the rail road crossing on the Western Dvina and upon crossing the river splits its lines of operations in two: (i) the decisive operation/main thrust by the XLI Pz Corp pushing northeast towards Pskov and (ii) a shaping operation/secondary envelopment move by LVI Pz Corp towards Riga to cut off Russian troops withdrawing in the northeast direction.
Despite a lightning advance by the 8th PzDiv, which arrives at Riga virtually unopposed, the envelopment by LVI Pz Corps ends up being a fiasco. With just two divisions separated along the Western Dvina, the LVI Pz Corps fails to even spot retreating or routing Russian troops. As in real life, achieving an hermetically closed kesselschlacht in the game is extremely difficult.
XLI Pz Corps is having troubles of its own. The spearhead of the XLI Corps is the 6th Pz. Div. and is just 50 miles short of Pskov. The advance of XLI Corps has bought us some 200 miles worth of unprotected flanks and this is something that I don't take lightly. To cover the extended flanks of XLI Corps I experimented with splitting the 36th Mot. Div. and the 1st Pz. Div. into three regiments each. This is done by selecting the unit and then clicking the "b" (for breakdown into smaller units). Each division was split into three equal regiments that I later reinforced with support units from the XLI Corps HQ.
|Splitting the 1st Pz. Div. into three regiments.|
Following the fruitless dispersion of forces during the previous week, I intend to consolidate the lines of operation of 4th Pz. Grp. for an assault on Pskov. This regrouping of the 4th Pz. Grp took one whole week. The Russians appear to be converging towards Pskov from the east and northeast.
|Situation at the start of week 5. Yellow graphics were added with an image editing software. 9th Army is past Riga advancing north. 4th Pz Grp is approaching Pskov in a very wide front.|
The relatively wide deployment of the Russians near Pskov means that if I concentrate 4th Pz. Grp. for a final assault on the city, I will be leaving this formation vulnerable to outflanking and envelopment by the Russians. I hope that a successful assault on Pskov will shock the Russians enough to force them to move northeast.
|Pskov must fall. Stacked in a couple of hexes, the best combat units of 4th Pz. Grp. get ready for an all-out on Pskov. Note the Russian infantry units on our east flank: not a pretty sight.|
|Pskov has fallen and our right flank is clear now. The Russians likely withdrew northeast or moved north of Pskov to put a plug into our advance.|
We are now clear to consolidate Pskov as a base of supplies and combat operations and bring up the whole Army Group North for an attack on Leningrad.
|Lines of operation for the second phase. Note Luftflotte 1: although I moved all of its assets north weeks before, it is time now to move it again closer to the battle lines.|
16th Army's slow advance through that marshy terrain slows down the whole Army Group plans. The prospect of battling in the woods north of Pskov with the 4th Pz. Grp. made me anxious at the beginning but the Pz. Divs. are so powerful that manage to rout and push back every Russian formation in their path of advance. This heavy combat came at a price, though: time. I arrive at the end of the scenario (10 turns/weeks) with my eyes on Leningrad, but my men and tanks not quite ready yet to break through the formidable defenses in front of the city.
|Final situation: not quite ready for the final push. Image is clickeable.|