One of the first scenarios I jumped into was the Cherkassi-Korsun one. This operation is quite famous and was a tough one for both the Axis and the Soviets. I was put in command of the First and Second Ukrainian Fronts and sooner than later, the formidable order of battle felt quite diluted in the expanses south of Kiev.
The first thing that you should note about WWII Soviet Operational Art is that operations were conducted by fronts and armies. Corps and divisions belonged to the tactical and grand-tactical realm. Take a look at the manpower of those Soviet divisions and you will notice that strength-wise they are just like brigades or reinforced regiments. Don't expect a lone Soviet division to do too much operational stuff without the support of the rest of the corps and army to which it belongs.
That being said, a quick peek at the area of operations can be seen in the image below.
|Right click and "open in a new tab" for the full size version, please.|
However, the Soviet forces deployment is not so out of the field manuals.
The 1st Ukrainian Front (counters with light blue internal coloring) is widely spread. In some sectors, like northeast of Vinnitsa, there is a stretch of the frontline defended by the 1st Tank Army (counters with red external coloring) where troops and tanks are so few that is almost an invitation for the Germans to a drive straight into Kiev. The left flank of the 1st Ukranian Front has a bit more backbone, just barely to be on the offensive, with the 6th Tank Army's 300 tanks, 25,000 men and 400 gun tubes. These guys have more than one reason to be on the offensive because 7,000 of their fellow soldiers are encircled some 10 miles behind the enemy lines (see screenshot above: a single hex with surrounded Soviet troops). To sum it up, the 1st Ukrainian Front has a sector so wide that makes it very difficult to achieve two trademarks of Soviet operational art: concentration and echeloning of troops during the offensive.
The 2nd Ukrainian Front (counters with orange internal coloring) fares much better. A bit smaller frontage and some of its armies echeloned, Soviet Army style.
But I am digressing, so back to the 2nd Ukrainian Front. I was mentioning that it has more punch than the brother front in the north. The blunt force on the enemy front line will be applied by the 4th Guards and 53th Armies. The exploitation of the breakthrough will be the task of the 5th Guards Tank Army. South of Kirovograd there are well-seasoned Soviet troops (5th and 7th Guards Armies) but they are too far away from the breakthrough point. This is historically correct: both Armies were still engaged in operations south of Kirovograd.
The game scenario asks the player for objectives far from the frontlines. I just ignored them and focused on a shallow envelopment of German troops in the Korsun area, more or less following historical lines.
I played this scenario and succeeded in enveloping and destroying many German units. At around turn four (out of seven), it was clear that my operation has reached a culmination point where no more gains could be achieved.
|Right click and "open in a new tab" for the full size version, please. Note the remainder German troops surrounded near Cherkassy. This pocket of German forces was bigger than shown here.|
|Right click and "open in a new tab" for the full size version, please. The tally of destruction.|