Merry Christmas everyone. I'm leaving tomorrow morning for Christmas vacation so I'll be mostly offline for the next week. I'll check in with my brother and see if he can try to get the board back up soon, I apologize for it being down so long. Its something we need to work on so this doesn't happen again.
December 21, 2007
Nuclear fire blossomed like the all consuming brilliance of some ancient warrior god. In the middle, hell boiled and reached upwards for the heavens. All around, concentric circles of overpressure extend out to snuff out life and property like a million angry fists, smashing all before them. 40 kilotons of death and mayhem, delivered from the great predator birds of war - flying far overhead, now withdrawing eastward with fighters in vain pursuit; like gnats pricking the giants of old or hawks throwing themselves at the Earth in desperate rage.
Shifting the viewpoint downward and out to sea, to the inferno that had been the Island of Okinawa. The battle lines are stark, brutal scars cutting their jagged path across a tortured terrain becoming more that of nightmare by the hour. Craters dot the land, making it appear like the surface of some hostile alien world. Off the coast, great ships mass in their hundreds. Flashes erupt among them, and dozens of small, fast, human projectiles throw themselves into the depths of exploding shrapnel and a million aimed shells and rounds. Explosions erupt among the great vessels, and a few of them heave in their death throws, plunging into the abyssal depths to end their days of service - taking with them hundreds of struggling men to new watery graves.
Back to land, where columns of metal machines crawl across the earth, surrounded by men in masks and mottled uniforms, wielding clever personal weapons of death. They push ahead, leap frogging at times, at others flowing slowly like thick molasses; pushing into areas of enemy weakness. Foul clouds fill the air, noxious vapors that bring only death carry on the winds;killing and maiming all those unfortunate enough to lack protective measures. Explosions ripple, moving with the front lines - leaving broken men and death in their wake. Mechanical contraptions that flit about on whirling blades buzz this way and that. Molten fire bursts suddenly here and there, raining from the air to melt flesh and burn all before it;like the breath of some great ancient Dragon.
And now, rain; as if the Earth itself wept at the deeds of men.
August 4th 1949
On Kyushu, Kagoshima is struck by a 40 kiloton atomic bomb in another B-34 raid following massive conventional bombardment of anti-aircraft defenses in the area. In a scene that is grim, but now all too common in Japan, much of the city is destroyed; hundreds of thousands are dead or wounded.
The Battle of Okinawa rages on. U.S. Marines, with the help of massive air support and three more atomic blasts over the past three days, have slogged across muddy terrain and have largely secured the center of the island, landing with 5 divisions around Hogushi and rapidly pushing north, east, and south. Although U.S. forces have seized most of the center of the island, many pockets of Japanese resistance remain determined to fight to the death. After an initial surge, U.S. forces have now been stalled by strong Japanese defensive lines in the north and south where independent Japanese commands still hold strong positions and intend to hold out as long as possible. The civilian population, largely concentrated in the south of the island, is suffering greatly and have largely fled inside massive bomb shelters and tunnels dispersed around the towns.
Off the coast of Okinawa the fierce battle at sea continues, with Japanese submarines attempting with little success to disrupt the U.S. fleet's lines of communication and K-24 kamikaze rocket-bombs and conventional aircraft out of Kyushu making intermittent massed attacks. Since the initial landings on August 1st another dozen U.S. vessels, ranging from supply ships to destroyers and cruisers, have been sunk or heavily damaged, with others more lightly damaged.
August 5th 1949
On the Eastern Front, German infantry backed by heavy tanks and massive artillery and air support continue to press into Minsk, paying dearly for every collapsed house and rubble strewn street corner they seize. Soviet Forces there, resigned to their fate, are determined to fight on as long as human willpower can endure; making Minsk an ongoing nasty wound in the German side. To the east, German forces have slogged another 5 kilometers closer to Leningrad, putting the southwestern outskirts of that city under direct artillery and rocket bombardment. To the South, Smolensk is a death zone for the German Army. German forces have pushed several kilometers on the northern and southern portion of soviet defenses there but have not managed a breakout that would allow an encirclement. Determined to achieve their objectives before the Autumn rains, the German high command commits the last of its heavy reserves. It is "Leningrad und Smolensk, oder Tod" for the German Army.
August 7th 1949
In northeastern China Nationalist forces put Beijing under siege, push back Chinese communist forces across a broad front. Despite these Nationalist gains, communist guerrillas open a widespread guerrilla campaign behind the lines and across many parts of China in general. It is the beginning of the "Time of the Red Terror" in China, a terrible chapter in Chinese history. Communist guerrilla forces, with Soviet backing, have planned in detail for a vicious campaign of total warfare and terrorism that borders on genocidal in its scope and cruelty. Food production is to be attacked with Soviet developed anti-agriculture bio weapons, water supplies are to be poisoned, chemical and bio terrorist attacks launched, amongst all manner of other vicious and cruel terrorist and guerrilla operations.
August 8th 1949
After a series of large, intensely contested, conventional heavy bomber raids and fighter sweeps over the past week around Southern Spain, U.S. B-34 bombers escorted by swarms of carrier jet fighters conduct an atomic attack on Cadiz and two nearby air fields.
At Cadiz, two atomic bombs are detonated 500 feet over the city - targeting the Axis Naval Command Base and the port facilities. Cadiz is mostly wiped off the map, and over half of its population is killed and many of the rest injured. Axis naval infrastructure, both administrative and the naval facilities themselves, are completely wiped out along with much of the Axis's Unified Naval Command leadership. Some do survive in bunkers, but for all intents and purposes the heart of the Axis Naval Command has been torn out and Cadiz rendered useless as a center of naval power or a center of anything else for that matter.
In the same attack, two airfields in the region around Cadiz are destroyed by atomic bombs, though many of their aircraft were airborne at the time and simply move to other air fields. Overall, Axis naval power on the Atlantic coast of southern Spain has been dealt a fatal blow and air power has been dealt a harsh but not quite crippling blow.The only good news for the Axis is that there were no significant warships in the port at the time since the Axis had already withdrawn their naval assets into the western Mediterranean
August 9th 1949
In a joint Anglo-American broadcast directed at Spain, the U.S. and British demand that Spain surrender, hinting darkly that Madrid isn't that far north of Cadiz and that Spain would be "well advised to seriously consider its national interests". In a recently completed bunker beneath Madrid, Franco has been engaged in intense meetings with his most trusted allies. Above, in the streets of the Spanish capitol, the mood is somber. There is anger at the "massacre of Cadiz", but more than that there is fear of what city may be next.
Fearing that Spain may be wavering, Hitler orders the Luftwaffe to "defend Spain as if she were the Fatherland". The Luftwaffe's high leadership, looking at maps showing active theatres on all sides of the Reich, have difficult choices to make. Increasing assets in Spain will mean decreasing them somewhere else. But where to draw these assets from? From Baku, with its vital oil fields? From the Eastern front where the war may hang in the balance? From the Fatherland itself where the German people lay under the shadow of nuclear destruction? From Rommel's valiant forces struggling for control of North Africa? From the Channel Front where the RAF grows more bold with its fighter sweeps and bomber streams by the week?
August 11th 1949
The extensive use of nerve and mustard gas by the Japanese on Okinawa has proven to be quite effective against U.S. forces in the oppressive summer heat. Despite this, and despite the loss of many tanks to Japanese anti-tank rockets(Nicknamed 'Yellow Bazookas' by U.S. forces), U.S. Marines have crushed the last pockets of resistance on the island's mid regions and have consolidated their positions in the face of fierce Japanese counter attacks in the north and south. U.S. naval and air bombardment of the Japanese held north and south is perhaps the most intense the world has ever seen although there have been no new atomic attacks since August 3rd. Japanese use of their kamikaze rockets has fallen off sharply although U.S. intelligence cannot determine if this is due to them all being used, them being destroyed, or the Japanese hoarding them for future use. Conventional air attacks from Kyushu have been a daily occurrence despite brutal losses suffered by the Japanese. Since August 5th conventional Japanese air attacks and sporadic kamikaze rocket attacks have only managed to sink another three destroyers, a cruiser, and two transports; with half a dozen other vessels sustaining light to moderate damage, including one U.S. carrier that is forced to steam for the Philippines after a lucky level bomber manages to deliver a bomb to her flight deck.
[* The Japanese anti-tank rocket mentioned above is based on an ATL 1945 German design that is very similar to German anti-tank rockets from OTL sirca 44'-45' *]
August 11th 1949
A huge U.S. convoy, having suffered the loss of only several merchant ships to prowling German submarines in the cold harsh waters of the north, reaches Murmansk - delivering vast amounts of supplies for the sagging Soviet war effort. These supplies include fuel, radar guided anti-aircraft equipment, jet engines for the jet airframes being churned out east of the Urals, spare parts, and other critical supplies. Some of this material is destined to head straight for the front to Leningrad and Smolensk, or east to feed the hungry Soviet industrial complex out beyond the Urals.
After pausing for nearly a week to consolidate and bring up reserves, the German pushes on Minsk, Leningrad, and Smolensk resume with massive conventional and nerve gas artillery and rocket bombardments. A surprise surge of Red Airforce fighters partially disrupts German carpet bombing efforts although Luftwaffe fighters take advantage of this by scoring dozens and dozens of kills. Southwest of Leningrad the battle almost resembles the western front circa 1918, with German infantry infiltrating forward into the massive belt of Soviet defensive works there. At Smolensk, however, there is little resemblance to the Great War as an epic clash of armor occurs south of the city. Both sides lose many dozens of tanks, but by the late afternoon German mechanized infantry are pouring through a gap exposed in the Soviet lines.
August 13th 1949
With Smolensk rapidly being enveloped by the German breakout to the south, the Red Army has no choice but to begin pulling out of the strategic city. The Soviet Union cannot afford to sacrifice another entire army to serve as a wound in the side of the Germans as happened at Minsk. Encouraged by the early signs of the soviet pull-out, the German army smashes forward to the north of Smolensk, severely pressuring Soviet forces tasked with holding that flank until Smolensk can be evacuated.
Further north Leningrad is proving a harder nut to crack. German forces are now 17 kilometers due southwest of the city but have not made much progress in their efforts to push around the city to encircle it. With most German armor committed further to the South, the front here is not fluid.
August 14th 1949
German forces now control half of Minsk and the ragtag Red Army forces there are starving and desperately short of ammunition; yet 125,000 of them fight on.
At Smolensk the orderly Soviet withdrawal is degenerating into a route as German forces surge ahead on the city's northern flank and German forces from the southern breakout begin to fan out east of the city. With German artillery and bombers pummelling the remaining soviet evacuation route the Red Army repeats a chaotic scene that they've seen too many times before over the past decade - hundreds of thousands of men fleeing for their lives through a narrow corridor of death.
August 15th 1949
In South America, a tense peace reigns. Despite growing ODAS support for rebels in Bolivia, the SAFB continues to maintain a cautious approach, not wanting to anger the nuclear-armed United States. Both the ODAS and SAFB have been engaged in an arms race for some time, and south America is now heavily armed and fortified. Argentina, the most powerful of the SAFB nations, now has a large professional army, navy, and air force equipped largely with early 40's era German weapons and equipment manufactured on license by its young but booming arms industry. Chile and Brazil, the two largest ODAS South American nations, are relatively well armed with reliable but obsolete surplus U.S. equipment but they have not quite achieved the professionalism and level of training in their armies that Argentina has managed to attain.
Formally, Britain is at war with Argentina and by extension the SAFB as a whole - but there has been little action since a series of British air raids on Argentina earlier in the war and some trade even continues between the two under the table. Britain seems content to leave Argentina alone as long it refrains from allowing German submarines to base or resupply there; this fragile truce has held for several years now. South America's economy in general has been booming for a decade as all sides in the Global War desperately need the raw materials and goods that South America can provide. Undoubtedly this economic success is another reason that outright war has not yet erupted here.
The wild cards of South America are Columbia and Venezuela, still very neutral and quite happy to listen to diplomats and business men from all sides
TO BE CONTINUED...
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 1:20 PM
December 18, 2007
December 17, 2007
My brother had to rebuild his computer several times, and switched OS's as well, etc. With work and everything getting the board back up has taken way longer than he expected. He is aware that everyone is anxious to get the board back and hopefully it will be up soon. We're looking into getting the board hosted so we don't have these down times in the future.
Rest assured it will be back up, one way or another. And the next part will be coming as well, after a much longer delay than I had intended. I'll try to have the next segment up before I head out for Christmas vacation.
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 1:58 AM
November 12, 2007
October 26, 2007
Just wanted to warn everyone to watch out for these SPAMS that are appearing among the comments here lately. The links included in these SPAM messages very possibly lead to websites containing malicious software of some sort. I'm deleting them as they appear but its hard to keep up with them. I may have to change the policy to only allow registered people to post :(
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 2:55 PM
October 19, 2007
August 15, 2007
It is now version 53.2.2
There will be no further changes unless someone spots a typo or gross editorial error.
The changes I made were pretty subtle, didn't change anything much on a macro scale.
* mention of german subs involved in battles with convoys during blockade of canaries
* correction made to U.S. fleet movement descriptions(previously I kep saying 'east' where I had meant west. The fleet movements should make more sense now
* Japanese aircraft operate out of Okinawa and Kyushu during battle of East China Sea
* U.S. land based aircraft are also involved during the battle of East China Sea
* Losses to U.S. task force during battle of East China Sea are a bit higher, and more fighters on both sides are downed
* Minsk has 150,000+ surviving soviet soldiers as of August 1st rather than 200,000+
* The Japanese attack on the U.S. task force on August 1st includes Japanese aircraft from out of Kyushu and does slightly more damage
* Battle of Northern Phillipine Sea changed very slightly. Reasoning behind Japanese fleet's 'death run' explained
* Destruction of remaining Japanese surface fleet changed slightly(Japanese plan to support the surface fleet with aircaft out of Kyushu disrupted by U.S. attacks on Kyushu air fields)
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 2:20 PM
August 06, 2007
As you can see below, Segment 53.2 is posted. Let me know what you think!
Also, I apologize regarding the board still being down. My brother has run into some difficulties in retrieving the backed up board data and this has slowed him down in bringing the board back up. I'll post here when I have more information. In the meantime we can continue to use the comments sections here on the main site.
Rest assured that the board will be back, its just taking longer than I expected to get it back up.
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 9:52 PM
It was approaching 2:00 in the afternoon local time and the 500 B-31's flying high over the Pacific due east of Sakhalin Island stretched for miles and miles, formations of the huge bombers glinting in the bright sun like a string of pearls draped over the blue ocean below. Captain Dan Wood had been on nearly a dozen similar missions, but those had been to the south over Honshu and Kyushu. This was his first mission this far North, and from what intelligence had said he wasn't looking forward to what awaited him. This raid was the biggest attack launched against Japanese oil facilities on Sakhalin so far and it was also the first large daylight raid. But no one doubted that the Japanese were waiting for them.
"Look sharp everyone, we're getting to within range of Jap fighters" Dan said into the mike, glancing at his co-pilot with a slight nod. And, sure enough, a couple minutes later word came over the radio that Jap fighters were inbound. Dan's job here was easy, as far as piloting went. He stayed in the carefully maintained formation and kept a steady hand on the controls. The hard part was the waiting, and he shared another tense look with the co-pilot. Then he spotted two enemy fighters, moving in from the northeast.
"We've got two Jap fighters at out three O'clock!" Dan said calmly, letting his gunners know what was what. Ten seconds later the gunners started hammering away, their 20mm shells lancing out to wipe the enemy out of the sky. Tracers arced out from his own bomber and dozens of others in the immediate vicinity. One of the Jap fighters exploded in a spectacular fireball and the propeller driven interceptor smeared out into a black and orange smudge against an otherwise clear sky. The other Jap fighter made it into the formation, and a moment later a B-31 dropped out trailing smoke and flame from two engines. Dan hoped the poor bastards on the stricken bomber made it back to the Marianas. For its part, the Japanese fighter was nowhere to be seen.
More minutes passed and eventually word got around that the Japanese fighters were moving off to the west back to their air fields. Nearly a dozen B-31's had been downed, and nearly as many forced to turn back. The massive bomber formation lumbered ahead, and Dan and everyone else in the raid kept a weary watch.
"Well, we've seen worse" John, his co-pilot, said hopefully. Dan winced inwardly, hoping his co-pilot hadn't just cursed them. You learned to get superstitious like that after commanding a bomber on a dozen or so missions over Japan. As if to strengthen his growing superstition, his fears were soon confirmed.
"Darts, we've got darts!" a voice screamed over the radio.
"Shit" Dan muttered, then relayed the warning to his gunners. U.S. Air crews had taken to calling the Japanese jet interceptors darts due to their high speed and slick profile. They were bad news for the lumbering and unescorted B-31's. He'd encountered the darts twice, and both times he'd thanked Jesus upon landing safely back at base. More than a few B-31's hadn't been so lucky. His gunners hammered away as a dart streaked in, lines of tracers crisscrossed through the sky; they all missed. Seconds later a B-31 was spiraling towards the ocean below, trailing smoke, flame, and a couple of parachutes. Minutes later another dart came at his part of the formation and for a horrifying moment Dan was sure the Japanese jet was heading directly for him. Instead it bore down on a B-31 to his left and sent explosive rounds into its fuselage. Another B-31 tumbled out of the sky but this time the lines of tracers met upon the dart and exacted revenge, wiping the sleek jet out of the air.
News from around the air armada wasn't good. Another dozen bombers had been downed, and more forced to turn around and withdraw. The 500 bomber raid was now a 460,or so, bomber raid. Ahead, land came into view. Sakhalin. Now came the flack. The Japanese had apparently arranged every flak cannon in the world in and around Nogliki to defend the oil infrastructure in the area. Black puffs of smoke erupted around the huge bomber formation, in their thousands, and every one seemed aimed directly for him. Occasionally bits of shrapnel clanked off the fuselage, and Dan prayed none of those bits got too big. When the lead bombers began dropping their bombs, he breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Not long after his own bomber lifted into the air as the bomb bays emptied and his ungainly bomber suddenly weighed quite a bit less.
Soon the formation was wheeling north and east to make for home, and Dan saw in satisfaction that massive plumes of smoke were rising into the air - birthed by what appeared to be dozens of raging fires. Later recon missions would judge better than him, but to Dan it sure looked like they'd done a lot of damage.
"Don't let your guard down guys, they're likely to hit us as we leave. They can't be happy down there" Dan said, not that he thought his men would really ease up. And they didn't have to wait long. Not more than a minute after he'd voiced the warning something streaked into the formation from what seemed to be directly below and a bomber not far to Dan's right in the formation was rolling over and falling like a stone, its left wing falling away separate from the fuselage.
"What the hell was that?" John said, looking around in all directions. Similar questions, some not quite so delicate, came over the radio. Several more bombers got struck out of the sky not too much later, again proceeded by something streaking up from directly under the formation. Whatever the Japs were throwing at them, they stopped coming after the formation had gotten out over the Ocean a ways. So, the Japs had something new eh? Dan wished he could strangle the intelligence officer who he was sure hadn't mentioned anything about a new Japanese anti-bomber weapon. Gripping his controls and willing the formation on, Dan set his teeth and resigned himself to some nasty missions in the future. The bright flash that washed over the cockpit a couple minutes later brought him out of his funk. A flash like that could only mean that the Japs had just caught hell somewhere back on Sakhalin. That made Dan and his co-pilot feel a bit better.
July 16th 1949
In a large daylight raid, some 500 U.S. B-31 bombers strike Japanese oil infrastructure in and around Nogliki on Sakhalin Island, causing moderate to heavy damage to the facilities in that area. U.S. bomber losses are heavy, with some 40 bombers downed and more damaged. The raid see's the first Japanese use of their new anti-bomber rocket interceptor, a small rocket powered aircraft capable of short but rapid ascents into the midst of bomber formations where it then rams enemy bombers. They are essentially human-guided anti-aircraft rockets and turn out to be fairly effective against B-31's although most of them miss their targets and end up gliding back home.
However, the new rocket-interceptors are far less effective against the faster and higher flying B-34's and the B-34 raid that strikes Okha, on the northern tip of Sakhalin, only suffers one bomber downed out of 24 aircraft. The rest drop high explosives on the town, except for one B-34 which instead drops a 40 kiloton atomic bomb. The atom bomb air bursts directly over the town of Okha, virtually wiping it off the map and doing massive damage to the oil producing and transporting infrastructure there. The fires of Okha will burn for weeks. Japanese oil production on Sakhalin has been a dealt a stunning blow.
Off the east coast of the Americas, German submarines have inflicted significant losses to Alliance and neutral shipping but aggressive anti-submarine sweeps by U.S. and Brazilian naval forces have inflicted sharp losses to the German submarine fleet in these coastal waters. The Kriegsmarine, determined to make the Atlantic a death zone for Alliance shipping, begins redeploying German submarines into the shipping lanes of the mid and Northern Atlantic. Many of the German and Italian submarines involved in running battles with convoys throughout the blockade of the Canary islands will remain in place, in hopes of slowing the Alliance build up there.
July 17th 1949
Columns of Nationalist Chinese troops entering northeast China to assume control are attacked and repelled by organized communist Chinese infantry in heavy fighting over the past two days. The communist Chinese forces are poorly equipped but fanatical and well organized. Nationalist forces, surprised by the ferocity and coordination of the communist forces, begin massing for a more vigorous offensive into northeastern China.The Chinese civil war is underway.
July 20th 1949
The U.S. 7th fleet, steaming northwest towards Iwo Jima, has grabbed the attention of the Japanese who are rapidly assembling their remaining combined fleet for what they hope will be an epic battle. The 7th fleet has some 7 fleet carriers and a slow battle line the likes of which the world has never seen, with numerous massive battleships and cruisers. The Japanese combined fleet remains dangerous with 4 carriers and a battle line with about half the strength of the U.S. battle line. In addition, the island of Iwo Jima has been turned into a massive fortress and many dozens of K-24 kamikaze rocket-bombs stand ready to launch from special hardened launch stands while some conventional aircraft are based out of the bustling airfield.
July 21st 1949
Southwest of Leningrad German forces continue to push ahead, surrounding strong points where they encounter them and leveraging their growing air superiority to limit Soviet mobility and bombard Soviet forces wherever they concentrate to make a stand. Pskov has already been surrounded and is being relentlessly shelled. The Red Army, for its part, is falling back eastward towards the defenses outside Leningrad and Novgorod.
In Minsk, Red Army forces have been pushed deeper into the city, and nerve gas attacks are coming in nearly around the clock. To the east, German forces are hammering at the Soviet defenses west of Smolensk and suffering heavy losses for little gain. Soviet forces defending Smolensk are well positioned, well equipped with anti-tank weaponry, and dug in deep; what air strength the Soviets have left in the north has been concentrated here, making Luftwaffe attempts to control the skies very costly. The battle for Smolensk is rapidly becoming a cauldron of blood and destruction for the German Army.
July 23rd 1949
With the U.S. 7th fleet about 200 kilometers south of Iwo Jima, the U.S. puts plans for its ambitious operation Torch Light into effect. Early in the morning, U.S. B-34 bombers appear over Iwo Jima. Having been unchallenged by Japanese defenses, one of the bombers drops a 40 kiloton atomic bomb on the island. Fused for a ground burst, the atomic bomb explodes almost exactly in the center of the island, wiping out a large area of Japanese fortifications, destroying the island's air field, and throwing vast amounts of radioactive dust and fine ash all over the island. The extensive Japanese fortifications, designed with air burst atomic attacks in mind, prove ineffective against ground bursts. Japanese aircraft, having taken off to avoid a potential atomic strike from the incoming B-34's, flee to Okinawa. For the Japanese garrison on the stricken island, radioactive contamination is now a death sentence.
To the south, the U.S. 7th fleet shifts it course to a more northwesterly direction. At nearly the same time, a powerful U.S. naval task force begins steaming northeast from out of the Philippines. This task force, itself nearly half the size of the U.S. 7th fleet and including many troop carriers stuffed full of marines, is the second pincer in a vast envelopment maneuver being executed by the USN. The Japanese combined fleet, unaware of the U.S. task force steaming from the Philippines, continues to linger north of Iwo Jima in a highly dispersed formation designed to mitigate the effects of an atomic attack on the fleet. Their plan is to wait until the U.S. fleet approaches Iwo Jima and to then launch a ferocious conventional and kamikaze strike on the vulnerable U.S. troop transports and supply vessels. They don't yet realize that the 7th fleet is no longer approaching Iwo Jima or that another task force is heading from the Philippines directly towards Okinawa.
July 25th 1949
A Japanese submarine spots the 7th fleet well west of Iwo Jima, and steaming northwest. Realizing that the true target must be Okinawa, the Japanese combined fleet begins steaming northwest at flank speed. The Japanese Navy believes the U.S. has made a huge mistake and that the Japanese combined fleet may be able to combine with land based air forces out of Okinawa to inflict crippling losses on the U.S. fleet. However, they remain unaware that another U.S. task force is approaching Okinawa. On Iwo Jima itself most of the Japanese garrison not killed outright in the atomic explosion is either dead or dying from radiation poisoning, turning the island fortress into an island mausoleum.
July 27th 1949
Japanese observation aircraft flying out of Okinawa spot a large U.S. task force moving to the west of Okinawa proper, throwing commanders there into a panic. They have been preparing to meet the massive U.S. 7th fleet in the waters to the south or east, and now a second large force has been observed to the west. After a frantic series of exchanges with the high command back in the home islands, Japanese air forces on Okinawa and Kyushu are ordered to strike the U.S. force moving in from the west.
In northeast China, Nationalist forces backed by U.S. tactical air support begin a broad offensive into the communist held region in northeast China. Despite bitter communist resistance the Nationalist forces make steady progress. The communist forces, with little in the way of heavy weaponry and no air power, have no choice but to withdraw, making stands wherever the terrain is favorable. This fighting is ugly, with neither side taking prisoners or showing any mercy.
July 28th 1949
The Battle of the East China Sea begins as Japanese aircraft attack the large U.S. task force moving in from the west of Okinawa. Japanese propeller and jet fighters from Okinawa and Kyushu tear into a swarm of U.S. carrier jets and land-based long range propeller fighters, engaging in an epic air clash in which some 200 Japanese fighters are downed in exchange for roughly 70 U.S. fighters. While the fighters engage in their huge fur ball, the Japanese launch a two-pronged assault on the U.S. task force itself. Several waves of aging, conventional, Japanese bombers of all types attack the four carriers in the task force and the surrounding ships, while medium and heavy bombers drop nearly 100 K-24 kamikaze rocket bombs. The conventional Japanese bombers manage to inflict only moderate damage on one carrier, several destroyers, and a couple of cruisers while losing nearly half their number, but the K-24's are more successful. Of the 91 K-24's successfully deployed against the U.S. task force, 21 find a target while the rest either malfunction, miss their targets, or are shot down by flak and enemy jet fighters. The 21 kamikaze rocket-bombs which do find a target inflict serious losses on the U.S. task force - crippling a fleet carrier, sinking a troop transport with the loss of all hands including thousands of Marines, as well as sinking six supply ships and three destroyers.
Several hours after the air clashes and attacks on the U.S. task force, a B-34 squadron passes over Okinawa and drops two atomic bombs. Both 40 kiloton devices are air burst over Okinawa's largest air fields where most of the Japanese aircraft based out of Okinawa that survived the Battle of the East China Sea are wiped out along with the air fields themselves and surrounding depots and troop concentrations.
August 1st 1949
Pskov falls to German forces, and leading German elements have advanced to within twenty five kilometers of Leningrad and to within forty kilometers of Novgorod. Soviet defenses have finally begun to firm, on a line from Leningrad south to Novgorod and from there down to Smolensk. In Minsk the remaining 150,000+ Red Army troops continue to hold out despite supplies that are now dwindling. Anxious to reduce Minsk once and for all, German infantry have begun to press hard into Minsk proper despite the resulting heavy losses.
After several days of air attacks on coastal gun batteries, troop concentrations, and air facilities all around Okinawa not wiped out in the two atomic bombings, U.S. marines come ashore on the central part of Okinawa. The landings, preceded by massive conventional, napalm, and mustard gas bombardments on the landing areas by air forces and cruisers off shore, succeed in securing several strong beach heads although Japanese resistance is fierce. In the mid-afternoon hours Japanese forces surprise the U.S. task force with several successive waves of Kamikaze attacks accompanied by a conventional air attack from aircraft out of Kyushu. While the conventional attack accomplishes little while getting cut to pieces by U.S. fighters, the K-24 kamikaze rocket-bombs, launched from hardened stands around the northern part of the island, streak into the U.S. task force in the waters off the island, sinking two more supply ships and sinking or damaging several cruisers and destroyers.
August 2nd 1949
In its last major engagement of the Second World War, the Japanese Navy's combined fleet engages the U.S. 7th fleet several hundred kilometers southeast of Okinawa in the Battle of the Northern Philippine Sea.
After both fleets attempt to maneuver to gain advantage, the battle begins with both sides launching large carrier attack forces. The Japanese aircraft, the last fleet air strength that the Japanese possess, are heavily outnumbered and largely cut to pieces by American carrier fighters. The few Japanese bombers that make it through are relatively ineffectual, only moderately damaging several ships and sinking a destroyer. The American carrier attack is devastatingly effective, cutting through a vastly out-numbered Japanese carrier fighter force to sink all four remaining Japanese fleet carriers and several lesser ships as well. The surface portion of the Japanese fleet, short on fuel on having little hope of ever fully refuelling, continues to steam northwest in vain pursuit of the 7th fleet in a desperate hope that they can close and, in combination with Japanese air forces, inflict significant damage in a final suicidal charge. It is the death run of the last great Japanese naval battle line.
After a series of small but persistent bombings on British military units and diplomatic facilities across Egypt, following the earlier large bombing of the British Embassy, tensions have ratcheted to new levels in the troubled British ally. In Alexandria, Cairo, and other Egyptian cities the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nationalist Islamic Movement have called on the "apostates" and "British puppet government" to expel the British and declare neutrality in the ongoing war. The crack down by British forces and the Egyptian government has clamped down even tighter, and there are whispers of revolution on the streets. Although the upper classes mostly back the British and the economic growth they have brought, the feeling on the "Arab street" is decidedly anti-western and anti-British in particular. The Army is mostly pro-British as well, but it is also nationalist to a degree and radical Islam has been seeping in for the past few years.
August 3rd 1949
With U.S. heavy bombers hammering air fields and strategic sites around Kyushu, the Japanese are unable to launch their planned land-based air attack on the 7th fleet. As a result, southeast of Okinawa swarming U.S. carrier aircraft sink virtually the entire remaining Japanese combined fleet, including all the remaining battleships. The pathetic remnants of the Japanese surface fleet have no choice but to turn towards the Home Islands where they may be used for scrap metal or incorporated into coastal defenses. The grand U.S. feint towards Iwo Jima and the pincer movement on Okinawa has been a brilliant success for the USN despite heavy losses to kamikaze rockets off the coast of Okinawa, throwing the carefully crafted Japanese "decisive battle" plans into chaos and forcing them to fight on the USN's terms. In a week of fighting, despite a bitter last stand, the remaining strength of the Japanese navy has been destroyed;Iwo Jima has been turned into a island of the dead, of little use to anyone; and Okinawa has been blockaded, invaded, and most of its air power destroyed. In the coming weeks U.S. sailors will call this week "The Huge Pacific Week" and the Battle of the Northern Philippine Sea will go down as among the most lopsided in naval history.
In Italy the aircraft carrier Aquila is launched and enters official service; she carries 75 aircraft and can make 30 knots. Still reeling from the disastrous campaign in the Atlantic, the Italian navy is licking its wounds and organizing itself to hold the western and central Mediterranean which it still dominates. The U.S., for its part, continues to mass forces on the Canary Islands and the SBC is rapidly expanding and upgrading an existing air field to support B-34 operations. This buildup has been hindered to a degree by a series of volcanic eruptions on the islands, but undaunted by the forces of nature the U.S. buildup continues.
To Be Continued in Segment 53.3...
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 9:51 PM
July 31, 2007
July 30, 2007
July 26, 2007
July 19, 2007
July 18, 2007
Shattered World - Segment 53.1
June 17th 1949 to August 15th 1949
"The Japanese are a disease of the skin, while the Communists are a disease of the heart"
Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek
It was a blisteringly hot day in Tianjin, China, and the crowd gathered in front of the City Hall suffered in relative silence as the grim People's Liberation Army soldiers force-marched a dozen blind-folded men towards the recently erected gallows. An officer in front of the gallows paced menacingly, casting harsh glares at the condemned men and then turning to face the crowd, staring accusingly through the spectacles that so many Party intellectuals liked to wear.
"See the People's enemy, the Japanese-licking running dogs of greedy capitalists, warlords, and foreign barbarian scum. See the justice of the Party at work!" the officer shouted, pointing at each of the condemned as they were forced into position in front of each assigned noose. Hisses and several cast stones emerged from the crowd, none dared show any sympathy for the Party's enemies. One man who had apparently pleaded for his life now had a rag stuffed in his mouth, and bleeding sores on his face showed where the soldiers had indicated their displeasure.
One by one the trap doors opened, and each of condemned in turn fell to their death, legs thrashing with involuntary motions and bowels loosening in one final disgrace. Hu Bao looked on from his position at the back of the crowd in anger and disgust, barely containing the urge to spit on the pavement at his feet. He hated the communists the way only the son of an executed business man could, with deep and abiding passion. He'd climbed the ranks of the Nationalist Army rapidly, proving his loyalty time and again with a variety of special missions carried out against the communists. Now, he'd penetrated deep into communist controlled northeast China. Rumors of this execution had reached his ears through a small but growing network of informants, and he'd come to confirm the rumor.
And, indeed, the communists had executed a well placed friend of Nationalist China, a powerful informant and former acquaintance of someone powerful in the Nationalist leadership. The crime here would be remembered, and avenged a hundred fold when the communists were rooted out of China like the worms and insects they were. Hu longed for that time, and hated the Russian barbarians for delaying its arrival. Forcing his grimace into a lopsided grin, Hu turned away and paced down an alley towards his home in the city's center. The time would come, and in the meanwhile he would prepare.
June 17th 1949
Nationalist Leader Chiang Kai-shek continues to demand that Soviet forces withdraw from northeast China and Manchuria, accusing them(truthfully) of working to establish communist regimes in both of their zones of occupation. The Nationalist Chinese leadership is reaching its boiling point, even threatening privately to withdraw from the AfD and invade the Soviet occupation zones.
On the Eastern Front German forces link up northeast of Minsk, isolating some 250,000 Soviet soldiers in a large pocket with the city of Minsk at it's center. Over the previous several days some 80,000 Soviet soldiers managed to flee to the north and east, mostly on foot and horse back. For the Soviet soldiers trapped inside the Minsk Pocket, surrender is not an option. They know what fate awaits them in German captivity.
June 19th 1949
Jubilant celebrations in NAZI occupied Sweden become tempered as reports begin to filter out of the Red Army's "area denial" operations. Although not as thorough as operation 'Black' in the western Ukraine, Soviet forces are none-the-less destroying ports, factories, mines, machinery, and other strategic assets as they continue their careful withdrawal from the country.
June 22nd 1949
The great German push in the north continues to drive ahead. In the Baltic states the Soviets have abandoned Riga and are now falling back towards Estonia and Russia itself. In Belorussia the Minsk pocket remains completely cut off and Soviet forces are withdrawing eastward as rapidly as their limited fuel reserves allow. Red Army forces all along the unraveling northern front have now been ordered to withdraw to positions along the Beria Line which runs roughly along the border of Russia itself from west of Leningrad and south to Smolensk, and then further south, merging into the powerful Soviet defensive lines in the eastern Ukraine.
German forces for their part have reinforced their ring around the Minsk Pocket but their powerful mobile forces are driving hard to the east.
June 27th 1949
After several weeks of mopping up operations, AfD forces declare the Canary Islands and Madeiras fully secured. Although the facilities on many formerly Axis held islands remain heavily damaged, the islands held by the British are a buzz of activity as existing infrastructure is expanded and new construction booms across the islands. Axis reconnaissance aircraft note the frantic buildup, sparking concern in Berlin and Rome.
In Scandinavia Soviet forces have largely completed their orderly evacuation from Sweden into Finland, leaving behind a Swedish countryside rendered largely pre-industrial by Soviet demolition units. In Finland itself the guerrilla activity in the countryside, which was never quite totally stomped out, picks up considerably.
June 28th 1949
A massive bomb, hidden in the basement of the British embassy in Alexandria, explodes - destroying the building and killing over two hundred British nationals and locals, including some of the diplomatic staff. The "Nationalist Islamic Movement", a radical Islamic Arab Nationalist organization, claims credit for the bombing and calls for an uprising against the British. Over the coming weeks British forces and the Egyptian government will begin a series of harsh crack downs - outlawing Islamic Nationalist groups, several political parties, and throwing thousands in jail.
June 29th 1949
As the Minsk pocket shrinks steadily back into the city itself yet continues to hold out, the German logistical situation has begun to become a major issue. With Minsk still in Red Army hands, all German supplies flowing east must go by truck on a limited system of roads around the city. This is beginning to slow down the leading panzer spearheads, giving the Soviets just enough time and breathing space to continue their desperate move into the Beria Line.
June 30th 1949
In a concession made only after much bitter resistance to massive pressure applied by the U.S. and Britain, the Soviet Union agrees to begin transitioning power in northeast China over to Chinese Nationalist forces. However, Beria refuses to begin withdrawing from Manchuria, claiming loudly that an early Soviet withdrawal there would leave a power vacuum, "inviting the Japanese or internal warlords to seize power there".
Communist Chinese forces, meanwhile, have no intention of giving up power in northeastern China or Manchuria. Flush with Soviet arms, and with the benefit of plenty of time to prepare, they intend to unite all of China under Chinese communism. China is on the brink of full scale civil war.
July 5th 1949
After a small Soviet counter-attack nearly cuts off one leading German panzer division, the German High Command calls for an operational pause along the northern front while logistical lines are improved. In the north, German forces have now cleared the Baltic states and have advanced to within forty kilometers of Leningrad itself and to within twenty kilometers of Pskov. To the South, German forces stand at the border between Belorussia and Russia proper and are within 75 kilometers of Smolensk. Further to the south the front is stable, with neither side currently prepared to act very aggressively in the Ukraine.
July 7th 1949
In a huge underground complex inside western Poland, German engineers are working on a very special missile, a missile designed to deliver a very special payload - a payload designed to leave the bounds of the Earth, achieving orbit. It is Von Braun's true dream, to turn humanity into a space faring species. And, in the process, deliver a stunning propaganda coup to the Third Reich.
July 10th 1949
The Minsk Pocket has now shrunk to include little more than the city itself. However, the 225,000 Soviet soldiers still alive there remain grimly determined to fight. There are still enough supplies thanks to the massive stores built up prior to the German offensive and the Russian soldiers there, exalted and hailed as stoic heroes on Soviet radio broadcasts that they can hear, are fighting for the survival of Russia itself and against their own grim fate. Many of them even still believe the words of their commanders and the voices on the radio, promising a coming counter attack to relieve the beleaguered army. Though the smarter Red Army soldiers know the lie, Minsk promises to remain a running sore in the side of the German Army for quite some time.
July 13th 1949
After several weeks of intense and highly secret negotiations, diplomats and military staff in Casablanca strike an accord between Free France and the United States. Although Free France will not join the AfD, the United States will be granted full rights of passage through Free French air, ground, and sea territories, in addition to the use of Free French transportation and supply infrastructure - payment for this passage will come in the form of significantly increased U.S. military and economic aid to Free France. The British reluctantly agree, turning over coming operations in the Free French theatre to the United States.
In the Pacific, the massive U.S. 7th Fleet is assembling for operations against Iwo Jima. The Japanese combined fleet, what remains of it, is dispersed around the Japanese Islands awaiting orders to sortie for one last battle with the Americans. Hundreds of human-piloted rocket bombs, a Japanese weapon of kamikaze, are being rapidly prepped for combat. These deadly craft, launched from heavy bombers, air fields, or warships, can achieve over 500mph and are guided by dedicated, if fanatical, human minds.
July 15th 1949
After having stopped for ten days to rest and bring up supplies German forces renew their offensive in the north, crashing northeast towards Leningrad and directly east into the Beria Line towards Smolensk. Led by carpet bombing and a massive nerve gas attack, German infantry and heavy panzers move into the massive defensive belts southwest of Leningrad. Despite the bombings and nerve gas the attack runs into heavy Soviet resistance and spends many men and panzers to advance just several kilometers.
The push towards Smolensk gets off to a better start, with German forces surging around Soviet strong points and penetrating as much as seven kilometers into the Beria Line west of Smolensk. However, the Soviets have cleverly positioned their forces to cover the relatively narrow approaches to Smolensk and the campaign promises to be a costly one for the Germans.
To Be Continued in Segment 53.2...
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 9:10 PM
July 13, 2007
July 12, 2007
Up until now, I've always regarded Shattered World as purely a hobby activity. I've had ads on here from time to time which often roughly covered hosting costs, but that was the extent of it. The pace of new content has slowed over the years as I've gotten busier with new jobs and whatnot. As an experiment, I've decided to try accepting donations, I've added a button on the main site to accept donations/payments via paypal or credit card.
What I plan to do is this : If donations do get made, I'll give higher priority to working on the next segment. Making it more than just a casual hobby. If donations reach the $100 mark then I'll
commit to getting the next segment out within a couple days. Then I'll start the cycle again for the next segment. If no donations come in I'll still continue as normal, as a hobby, with a new segment coming out every couple of months or so depending on my schedule. If there is enough demand then I'll start thinking more about trying to do a full book eventually.
Anyway, thoughts appreciated. Love this idea, hate it?
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 9:50 AM
July 11, 2007
June 3rd 1949
A German submarine sinks a merchant ship just off the coast of Florida, marking the first of many such incidents. While the U.S. merchant marine fleet is well trained on paper, and the U.S. coast guard has been training intensely for just this fight - the German submariners are very experienced while U.S. coastal forces are very raw.
[* Note that unlike our timeline the U.S. is using black outs, coastal convoys, well coordinated anti-submarine defenses, etc, right from its entry in the war. There are also Royal Navy advisers in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and coast guard, providing their expertise and experience from the long battle of the Atlantic *]
June 4th 1949
U.S. and British marines land in several locations around the island of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and other lesser islands, facing scattered but fierce resistance from Axis forces in the first hours. However, Axis morale could not be lower and by the end of the day their resistance is waning. Axis forces in the Canaries are cut off and out of hope, and they know it. The heavy guns of four American battleships and numerous lesser ships begin to lay waste to fortified Axis positions as U.S. and British carrier aircraft saturate Axis troops with mustard gas and napalm.
June 5th 1949
Germany opens its largest offensive since the invasion of western Europe. Thousands of guns and rocket launchers pummel Soviet lines along broad portions of the front in the northern Belorussian sector and in the southern Ukrainian sector. The Soviets conduct similarly massive barrages of their own, having been informed by captured soldiers that the German offensive was coming. In the air, some 2,000 Luftwaffe aircraft surge into the skies - a thousand German fighters battle a thousand Soviet fighters across a dozen great clashes as countless swarms of Luftwaffe bombers strike Soviet troop concentrations, supply dumps, and transportation junctions from the Baltic states to the Black Sea coast of the Ukraine. Soviet bombing efforts are less successful, with German radar guided AAA and missiles exacting a heavy toll on the slow, lumbering, Soviet bombers.
On the ground, the great push is in the North. One massive panzer force crashes into Soviet lines southwest of Minsk while another drives directly northeast into Soviet-occupied Lithuania. The soviets have been expecting such a move and have placed their best anti-tank forces in the theatre directly in the path of the German juggernaut. The resulting clashes are epic, and German panzer columns advance in fits and starts across a hellish landscape baked in napalm, high explosives, nerve gas, mustard gas, smoke, blood, and the stench of death. Despite heavy panzer losses, and the disruptive pre-dawn Soviet artillery and rocket barrages, the German armored pincers advance as much as eight kilometers in the first day.
To the south, Soviet commanders report proudly to Moscow that the German advance into the Ukraine has been blunted utterly - with heavy German losses. Strangely, local field commanders on the ground are bemused at the uncharacteristic lack of tenacity displayed by the Germans and by the unusually large amount of minor Axis forces seen on the battlefield. The implications, suspected by some, will take several days to filter up to Moscow.
June 6th 1949
U.S. marines land on Madeiras, reinforcing the British marines still in control of much of the island. Axis forces on the island are largely out of supply and in disarray, having been under pressure from aggressive British marines ever since their airfield, main field headquarters, and supply dump were wiped out in the recent atomic strike.
June 9th 1949
Axis forces on Santa Cruz de Tenerife, driven into several inland pockets and into the smoldering ruins of the port city itself, surrender to American and British forces. Later in the same day, Axis forces on Madeiras also surrender. Though the Allies will continue to mop up the various Axis held lesser islands for several more weeks, the five week Battle of the Canary Islands is essentially over and the Axis have been dealt a shattering, stunning, defeat. They have lost their experienced marine and paratrooper forces as well as a large chunk of their maritime air power in the Atlantic. American media trumpets the dramatic and incredibly successful American entry into the war against the European Axis. Euphoria sweeps the American people and there is open talk of the war in Europe "...being over by Christmas".
Across Axis Europe the mood is more sombre as official news reports, including Radio Berlin itself, concede that "our forces have been dealt a set back in the battle for the South Atlantic". Hitler's mood is grim, yet his knowledge of Germany's own progress in its atomic program and the progress in the east allows him to remain confident. The Third Reich is less than a year from deploying its own atomic bomb and the German atomic program is spread far and wide, well hidden, and heavily fortified. And German panzers are driving all before them in Belorussia.
Mussolini, having now lost his entire Atlantic surface force including his most modern battle cruiser and his entire marine force, decides that he should be content with the Mediterranean and turns his focus back towards North Africa. Italian and German engineers are steadily repairing and modernizing the facilities at Gibraltar and other coastal strong points in the south of Spain. Powerful, modern, radar-controlled heavy guns and swarms of land based aircraft will stand ready to challenge any Alliance attempt to force the straights.
June 10th 1949
In Belorussia the German advance has cut to a point directly south of Minsk and the main Soviet defensive lines in the region have been ruptured, leaving German panzers and mechanized infantry to flow into central Belorussia with stunning speed. Soviet forces, battered, weary, under intense attack from the air and desperately short on fuel, lack the mobility to properly realign their defenses and instead begin to fall back in disarray north to Minsk and east towards Russia itself. In Lithuania the German advance has been slower but still steady and soviet forces have fallen back in good order to a secondary defensive line anchored on Vilnius.
June 12th 1949
German infantry, supported by heavy panzers, enter the ruins of Vilnius and enter into bloody house to house, and rubble to rubble, fighting with Soviet forces. With the Vilnius line wavering and German panzers now moving east of Minsk - the Baltic states erupt into violent rebellion. Nationalist elements in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia launch major uprisings in nearly every large city, and rebel forces begin what will be a sustained campaign against Soviet logistics in the Baltic states. Meanwhile, in the air the Luftwaffe has gained the upper hand as the Red Airforce sustains massive losses and begins limiting its operations to a purely interception role in an effort to husband its diminishing resources. Germany does not yet have complete air superiority, but it is getting close to that point in the skies over the northern front.
Late in the day orders begin to go out from Moscow, and Soviet forces in occupied Sweden begin to execute plans for the evacuation of Sweden.
After several British B-31 raids on east Algerian ports from airbases out of west Africa, a particularly large British B-31 force approaches Tunis from out over the Sahara desert. The force, 200 bombers strong, is met by Italian and German interceptors south of the city and over two dozen of the bombers are downed. The rest hammer the port of Tunis and one of the trailing bombers drops a 22 kiloton British atomic bomb on the city. The atomic warhead explodes off target, several hundred yards inland rather than over the port itself, but much of the city and its associated supply depots and transportation junctions are destroyed or heavily damaged by the blast and the resulting three day inferno that sweeps through the city. Many tens of thousands of civilians are killed in addition to several thousand Italian troops. The port is also heavily damaged, mostly by the conventional element of the raid.
June 15th 1949
The U.S. Army Air Force establishes three new Air Force commands. The 8th Air Force, operating out of the British Isles. The 13th Air Force, operating out of Egypt, Crete, and Cyprus. The 16th Air Force, operating out of British Palestine and occupied Iraq. In addition, the SBC(Strategic Bombing Command) will establish facilities and operational capability in these same three theatres. It will take months to build up in these distant lands, but the wheels of the U.S. war machine are turning.
In Algeria, Egypt, Palestine, and Iraq massive anti-British protests turn violent with dozens killed in the resulting clashes with colonial police and British forces. The atomic bombings of the Canaries, Tunis, and Tripoli have ignited passions and turned Arab sentiment even more dramatically against the British. Egypt in particular is a hot bed of Arab nationalism and radical Islam, with a growing radicalized movement calling for the expulsion of the British and neutrality in the "White Christian's war".
On the northern portion of the eastern front, the success of the German offensive continues despite bitter and relentless resistance from the Soviets. Red Army forces in and around Minsk have been severely disrupted and the Soviet position in this region is unravelling. German forces are now well to the east and southeast of Minsk - and German armored probes are already pushing south from Lithuania and north from central Belorussia to encircle Minsk. In Lithuania Vilnius has fallen to German forces but not without a horrendous loss of blood and machinery for the Germans. The Vilnius line has been broken, and Soviet forces are struggling against Baltic nationalist guerrilla forces as they move into their next line of defense at the Lithuanian-Latvian border
Heinz Gustov inhaled deeply from one of his precious cigarettes and took a moment to appreciate life. That he was still alive was quite surprising to him, to say the least. A full year in the Eurasian War, commanding that tin can of an Mk4, had nearly done him in more times than he cared to remember. Even on the last day of that war, he recalled, he'd only narrowly escaped being killed by the fourth T-34 he'd encountered that day. The first three he'd killed himself, or rather his gunner had at any rate. The glorious years of peace in between seemed a distant memory to him now, less real than his harsh year in the Eurasian War. Then had come the tough campaigns in France and Greece, less nasty than the Eurasian War's Eastern front perhaps but no less likely to have killed him. Instead, rather, he'd claimed the lives of more than a few French, British, and Greeks. Not without a cost, a Parisian sniper had got him in the shoulder during the brutal slog into the French capitol - he'd never forgive the orders that sent his tank into the rubble strewn fortress that Paris had been. He'd seen so much death.
And then the real horror began. The Red Army tore into the Reich's eastern flank the summer before with all the vengeance of a Red Horde of devils and Heinz Gustov, now a young Colonel, had been there through it all. The fighting withdrawal back towards Minsk and then falling back more still, towards the East Prussian frontier itself as the Baltic states were once again gobbled up and the Red Army threatened to encircle his men time and again. The Soviet equipment was second rate, their soldiers were still ill trained by his own standards, yet they came forward - an oncoming wave of men and machines that seemed like a tide that would never break. Yet, break it did.
The Reds ran out of steam, and as 1948 became 1949 Heinz accepted his promotion from Colonel to Major General with a grim resignation as the Reich gathered its strength all around him. He'd earned the promotion more by outliving his comrades than for any other reason, though his service had never failed for quality or bravery. From a young tank commander at the tail end of the Eurasian War, Major General Heinz Gustov now found himself in command of a panzer division.
And now, for two full weeks, a nightmare of constant radio chatter, ceaseless uncomfortable driving in his command APC, death from every direction, responsibility weighing down like a great stone crushing him. He'd lost so many men, so many. And too many panzers, more than he dared dwell upon. Yet, two weeks into the campaign Heinz Gustov crushed a cigarette on torn earth - to the east of Minsk. The strategic Belorussian city was nearly surrounded, the 350,000 Soviet soldiers there trapped in a tightening circle of steel and flame from which Heinz and his fellow officers did not intend to let go. Even now, jets screeched overhead as Luftwaffe bombers maintained a constant bombardment of the remaining corridor out of the Minsk pocket. Artillery rumbled, and rockets rippled in staccato high pitched continuous rips as more and more firepower fell upon Minsk.
And to the East the quiet was unsettling. Sporadic artillery fire and a few rocket salvos were all the Red Army had been able to muster for the past two days. Heinz felt confident that, with his panzers even now being refuelled, he could resume his drive east with little effective Soviet resistance. And so, sighing at the loss of one more cigarette, Heinz walked back to the hastily erected field tent near his command APC and stared gloomily at the map as his aides glanced at him impatiently.
He began to issue orders. Axis of advance. Artillery missions. As much Luftwaffe support as he could beat out of the stubborn Airforce Colonel over the static filled phone. Around him the temporary headquarters buzzed with activity. Cougar II's, their engines purring with fresh fuel like great contented cats, rolled east in a seemingly endless stream. Helicopters came and went, the chopchopchop of their roters filling the air as scout craft probed east and larger models took away wounded and brought in replacements. Jets roared and propellers droned overhead as Luftwaffe and occasional Red Airforce planes passed overhead. Nearby, one of the new mobile radar-guided anti-aircraft vehicles sat still, its radar turning endless circles as its deadly looking 20mm barrels angled into the air. Once, the chemical weapons siren screamed and Heinz and everyone else scrambled into their protective suits and waited for the deadly smoke that never actually arrived. The wind had shifted East momentarily and Heinz hoped fervently that some of the filthy gas had drifted back over Soviet lines.
Finally, after the last cougar II had rolled through Heinz helped his aides pack up the maps and radios and other equipment into the command APC. The tent was broken down, the temporary emergency field hospital folded into trucks and one by one the vehicles that made up the mobile headquarters rolled down the road to the east, leaving great belching clouds of smoke in their wake. Heinz's command APC went last and only a scorched open field and a variety of trash, debris, and bloody bandages marked the passing of the 2nd panzer division.
The atmosphere in the ornate command room deep beneath the Kremlin was as silent and grim as a tomb. The news from the west was bad, as bad as could possibly be imagined. When word had arrived that the offensive in the north was clearly the real German effort, Beria had fallen deathly silent, glaring through his spectacles at anyone who dared glance in his direction. Minsk was nearly surrounded, and German panzers were now slashing east towards Russia itself, driving all before them. Sweden was in the process of being evacuated, conceding away the Soviet position in Scandinavia. Lithuania was lost and the rest of the Baltic states were in open and violent rebellion. To make matters worse, a muted rumble from above marked another German bombing raid on Moscow. No one in the bunker beneath the Kremlin had taken notice of the barely audible air raid sirens wailing above.
The Soviet Union was in dire straights. Everyone in the room knew it, but none dared mouth the words with Beria looking like an angry wasp waiting to sting.
"Gentlemen" said Beria, Secretary General of the Soviet Union and the central peg in the Soviet intelligence and security apparatus. He continued, after a brief silence. "It would seem we have no choice but to implement the recommendations as set forth in plan Gambit". Heads nodded gravely around the table. No further words were called for or wanted.
The plan, worked up by Red Army and party leaders over the past several months, represented the Soviet Union's response in the event of a significant German break through. Garrisons in the East and central Asia were to be cut to the bone, and the scant freed up manpower sent west. Defenses along the front with Japan would be cut to an absolute minimum, on the reasonable basis that the Japanese were simply in no shape to conduct offensive operations. Preparations for the invasion of Korea would be put on hold, indefinitely. Civilian energy and other rations would be cut even deeper, to absolute bare minimum levels. All non-essential research projects would be cancelled in favor of immediate practical arms production. Boys and girls as young as 13 and fit senior adults as old as 68 would be drafted to work in industry and civil defense roles. In short, plan Gambit was the last major additional mobilization that the Soviet Union could muster - the last source of new strength. The body, lacking any further fat reserves, would begin to consume muscles and bone. It would take as many as four to six months to fully implement, and the Soviet Union had to hold on until the last of its reserves could be mustered as per Gambit's requirements.
Holding on would not be easy. The Soviet Union's problems were many, far more and greater than anyone but the innermost circle of the Party knew. Firstly, there was the problem of oil. The Soviet Union simply did not have enough, and the limited drilling and refinery production it did have was coming under German bombardment in one region in particular, east of the Caspian Sea. And moving the oil was becoming more difficult as well, as German bombing of rail infrastructure was becoming more and more of a problem. Oil shortages were now so acute that the Red Airforce had been forced to curtail its sorties severely, thus severely hampering its efforts to counter the German summer offensive. The Red Army was not immune either, it having been forced more and more to reserve its fuel only for use in specially designated mobile reserve armored divisions. Horse traction was being used more and more to move Soviet infantry and even heavier equipment wherever practical. To a degree, the Red Army was in the process of de-mechanization. Such were the shortages that large-scale offensive operations were simply no longer possible, and even large-scale re-deployment of Red Army divisions would be problematic. The rest of Soviet Union's limited energy reserves had to go to industry, where factories churned out the weapons of war that kept the Red Army in the fight.
Then, there was the problem of manpower. Since the Russian civil war and Stalin's purges Russia had been bled white. The Eurasian War slaughtered a high percentage of the Soviet Union's young men, and then the Second World War's slaughter had come. The great Russian cities in the west were bombed out shells of their former selves, regularly coming under chemical bombardment. civilian losses were in the untold millions since the summer of 1948. The Soviet Union, home of the People's Communism, was running out people, rapidly. And there were no more fresh reserves to be had aside from scraping the bottom of the barrel by conscripting children, the elderly, and the physically disabled and handicapped.
If the enemy were anyone aside from the Nazis then the rational thing would have been for the Soviet Union to simply accept harsh terms for an Armistice, and spend a generation or more licking her wounds. But war with the fascists was war to the knife, a war of Slavic racial survival in Europe. No one doubted that the Germans would ultimately treat the Slavs as they had treated the Jews if they reigned over everything west of the Urals. And so, the Soviet Union would fight until the seams of its foundations simply fractured and the society that was the Soviet Union faded away for lack of people.
This was the harsh reality that everyone in the room, including Beria himself, well understood. And plan Gambit represented perhaps the last step shy of the melting away of Russia. Although, of course, there were other plans in the secret files of the Party, plans involving a vast migration of people and mobile assets. At last resort the Urals would make a formidable shield after all, and moving Russia was perhaps preferable to losing it all together.
To be continued in Part 53...
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 3:24 PM
June 07, 2007
May 13, 2007
May 19th 1949
The United States and Brazil formally enter the Alliance for Democracy. The new seat of the Alliance will be based in San Francisco, where an elaborate headquarters facility is to be built. The Alliance for Democracy is the largest Alliance of any kind in the history of the world.
Meanwhile, in East Prussia the German High Command is meeting to discuss the summer offensive campaign. Hitler is adamant that the Soviets be "smashed before the American mongrels stab us from the west". German forces have been massing eastward for months, and the Reich's army in the east has swollen to over two million men in all, stretched along a front from the Baltic sea to the southern Ukraine. One great concentration of men and material masses in the stark terrain of the western Ukraine, where repaired rail lines and roads flow with constant streams of food and supplies necessary to feed and arm close to a million men. Romanians, Italians, Bulgarians, Serbians, western European and Swedish volunteers, and others bolster Axis forces there.
The bustle is unmistakable, and it has not gone unnoticed. From Kiev and south down the line of the river Dnieper dense belts of defensive lines run along the river and east all the way back to the border of mother Russia. A large fraction of the Soviet Union's remaining resources have gone into the defenses in the Eastern Ukraine, and the 800,000 troops there represent a significant portion of the Red Army's remaining strength. It is here, Beria has decreed, that the Soviet Union and International communism shall make its stand. The strategic thinking is clear - for east of the Ukraine lies the wide open plains of Southern Russia and the key transportation hub of Beriagrad, including access to Rostov and the Caucasus region where the Red Army still hopes to blast its way to the oil fields of Baku.
Yet, north of the Pripet swamps lies another expanse of open plains - Belorussia, the key city of Minsk, and the Soviet occupied Baltic states. It is here, where the front has been stable for months, that the German High Command senses an opportunity. The Soviets have nearly a million men in this theatre, and lots of armor strength, but nothing like the fortifications in the Ukraine. The battle here can be on German terms, wide open battles of maneuver. A successful thrust in the north would threaten Moscow and render all the Soviet defenses in the Ukraine worthless. And so, with no way to fully disguise their intent, the Germans have simply planned and prepared for two simultaneous massive summer offensives. One in the south, and one in the north. Only Hitler, a few of his top aids, and the very upper echelon of the High Command know that the southern offensive is in fact a grand farce. East Prussia and Poland are a frenzy of activity, the signs of a great army preparing for a great offensive are unmistakable. A million men, almost all of them German, and thousands of panzers are massing here. 80% of the panzer strength of the German army is concentrated in this theatre. To the south, whole 'divisions' of German armor massing in the western Ukraine are in fact equipped mostly with obsolete models, broken down machines, wooden decoys, old men, and boys - mere shells of armored divisions.
May 21st 1949
British carrier aircraft break through Axis land-based air cover to stage a devastating attack on a major Italian supply convoy making the run from Southern Spain to the Canaries theatre of operations. No less than 7 Italian transports are sunk and the rest forced to scatter in all directions. In addition, two Italian destroyers are sunk and another severely damaged. Within days scavenging British and American submarines sink 4 more of the transports. In all, nearly 75% of the tonnage in the convoy is put to the bottom of the ocean.
May 23rd 1949
With British carrier air power and British/American submarines now cutting deeply into their tenuous supply lines, and sensing the size of the oncoming U.S. naval force, Axis forces in the Canaries and on Madeira have no choice but to switch to a defensive standing. A large German fighter and naval maritime presence is now in place on the islands and 25,000 Axis troops are digging into the same defensive positions used by the British a couple weeks earlier.
Meanwhile, to the west many of the German submarines not involved in the blockade of the Canaries and Madeira are heading for the waters off the coasts of the United States and Brazil in search of the rich merchant pickings there.
May 26th 1949
For several days now intense air clashes and sea engagements have raged in the skies and waters around the Canary islands. In the skies the clashes are a relative stalemate, with both sides losing many fighters and slipping through bombers to hammer opposing air fields and other installations. On the seas amongst the Canary islands British and Italian destroyers and other light vessels clash in several sharp engagements - ending decidedly in the favor of the Royal Navy. Superior British training and radar gunnery prove quite decisive in these close-in day and night time engagements.
Axis control of the waters around the Canary islands has been effectively broken. The main bulk of the Italian fleet in the Canaries now sits mostly immobile under cover of heavy anti-aircraft defenses and land based air cover. Axis supplies on the islands are running dangerously low as fewer and fewer re-supply ships and air transports arrive. The British supply situation, meanwhile, has been nearly as poor but is now improving steadily thanks to effective anti-submarine sweeps that have already sunk a dozen German and Italian submarines. The weight of the Royal Navy is proving too much for the Axis forces to handle, especially with the Royal Air Force now operating in strength from the islands the British still hold.
To commanders and knowing observers on both sides the tide in the Battle of the Canaries has clearly turned in favor of the British. And the U.S.'s huge Atlantic Fleet is less than a week away.
May 28th 1949
Visibly pale, quaking, gaunt, and notably distracted by preparations for the summer offensive in the east - Hitler angrily refuses a request by the Axis naval command to begin withdrawing from the Canary Islands and Madeira, instead ordering that the occupied islands there be held at all costs as a "forward shield against the Americans". Mussolini, faced with pleading requests from his own naval commanders to evacuate the Italian fleet back into the Mediterranean while they still can, is similarly rebuffed when he approaches Hitler about the matter in a private call that evening.
June 2nd 1949
Twelve SBC B-34 bombers, operating out of the new SBC base in Puerto Rico, approach the Canary Islands as the sun rises - escorted by a swarm of 200 American carrier jets and electronic warfare aircraft. Roughly 100 German and Italian fighters of all types rise to meet this force, vectored onto the incoming American strike by the functional but degraded Axis radar net - and several dozen of the German planes are jets themselves. The fighter clash is epic, and both sides fight well. German experience and superior land-based jet aircraft gives the Axis an overall favorable 2 to 1 kill ratio. But the U.S. has carrier fighters to spare and they can easily afford the steep price of 52 carrier jet fighters that are downed. The Axis cannot afford the 28 fighters that they lose.
Worst of all for the Axis - the massive B-34 bombers, flying above the pesky fighter duels below them and surviving attempted interceptions by several Axis fighters, make their way over the Canary Islands and Madeira largely unmolested. Three of the bombers are carrying 40 kiloton atomic bombs and all three detonate several hundred feet over their intended targets. The main Axis air field on Santa Cruz de Tenerife is entirely wiped out and an Italian battlecruiser and two destroyers are sunk by the second atomic strike which all but wipes out the port town on the same island. Future historians will debate the morality of the strike on the port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and its resulting heavy civilian toll(some 55,000 dead and wounded) - but that is for future historians. The third atomic bomb, meanwhile, wipes out the Axis-controlled airbase on Madeira along with a good portion of the Axis command staff and supplies on that island. Half of the Axis bombers and maritime aircraft on the islands, desperately scrambling for the skies, are destroyed outright on the ground in the atomic blasts or knocked out of the skies by the shock waves in the air. The other half are set upon by American fighters and suffer heavy losses. In a single hour the Axis position in the Canary Islands and Madeira has been dealt a crippling blow.
Later, as the B-34's lumber back towards the Caribbean and U.S. carrier jets are returning to the flat decks of six aircraft carriers - Axis aircraft of all types are forced to land on open fields, narrow roads, runways slagged into glass and still radioactive, and any spot of flat land or beach they can find. Nearly a quarter of these aircraft are damaged beyond repair in these hasty emergency landings, and the rest no longer have functioning air fields to operate out of. Over the coming days barely 20 Axis fighters, a dozen bombers, and several maritime aircraft will manage to fly through Alliance air patrols to reach air bases in Spain.
Later in the day, adding insult to injury, nearly two hundred British carrier aircraft range over the Axis held islands at will, bombing and strafing everything that moves as well as sinking Italy's remaining troop transports and severely damaging the only Italian battleship in the theatre. "The Big Day", as the Americans will come to call it, has been the single greatest military disaster in German and Italian history.
Meanwhile, in Eastern Europe the front lines in the main front of the Second World War have been ominously quiet for several days. Both great armies are tense, coiled to spring at a moment's notice. The outcome of the war may soon be at hand.
TO BE CONTINUED in Segment 52.4...
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 10:58 PM