Shattered World - Segment 52.1
April 21st 1949 to June 15th 1949
At the port of Cadiz, in southwestern Spain, in the headquarters of the newly created Axis Unified Naval Command for the Western Theatre of Operations, German and Italian naval staff officers plot the next phase of operations to strangle the British Empire. With the capture of Malta the Axis have cemented their domination of the central Mediterranean and the vital shipping lanes there. With the Rock of Gibraltar now flying the Swastika the western Mediterranean is an Axis lake - as a result the Italian navy, in the form of a substantial surface task force, now sits at anchor on the Atlantic coast of Spain while German and Italian submarines ply South and mid Atlantic waters wreaking havoc on British and neutral shipping. But Axis ambitions do not end there. With directives straight from Hitler and Mussolini, the Axis intend to extend their hold into the South Atlantic.
Operation Felix, the invasion of the Canary Islands, is scheduled to commence on May 1st.
April 22nd 1949
In Libya, the British offensive continues to grind forward into Rommel's lines with heavy casualties. German and Italian forces have now been driven out of Surt and have fallen back to a third line of defense some 5 kilometers to the west. The heavy use of chemical weapons by both sides has played into the advantage of the defender, limiting British mobility, and the British offensive seems to be unwinding.
Army Group Africa, recently bolstered with the addition of a fresh German mechanized infantry division(a second mechanized infantry division is still assembling in Tunisia) and several Axis French infantry divisions, continues to launch small counter attacks and has managed to maintain and expand a reserve of relatively fresh mobile German and Italian mechanized forces. With the Axis supply situation improved since the chaos caused by the atomic bombing of Tripoli, Rommel now plans a sharp counter attack.
April 24th 1949
As 2 British armored divisions continue to pound into anti-tank defenses in the central and coastal portion of the Libyan front, Rommel strikes with 5 divisions, 3 of them German. The force, with 50,000 men and 250 tanks, is well experienced and relatively fresh. Several hours after a short artillery and rocket barrage, German and Italian armor and mechanized forces are plunging into British lines in a growing gap in the southern part of the front. Supported by a surge in Axis air activity, the force has penetrated fifteen kilometers and pocketed tens of thousands of British and Imperial soldiers by the time darkness falls.
April 25th 1949
With Rommel's sharp attack threatening to roll up the entire British position in Libya, British armored forces wheel south to meet Rommel's panzers. Some in the British high command see an opportunity to cut off the head of the Desert Viper once and for all. Late in the afternoon, a large clash of armor occurs 35 kilometers southeast of Surt. Some 60 German and Italian tanks are destroyed for the loss of over 200 British tanks. The British armored forces, exhausted from the earlier grinding advance into Axis anti-tank forces, have been routed and sent reeling northward. Unwilling to let the opportunity pass by, Rommel arranges his mechanized columns and orders a risky advance that threatens to outpace his supply capabilities.
On a large, recently completed, German airfield near Cadiz, Spain, the newest maritime air squadron of the Kriegsmarine is completing final preparations for operation Felix. The squadron's brand new 'Sea Dragon' maritime patrol and attack aircraft, based on an updated model of the reliable Sea Ural, are armed with the Kriegsmarine's latest radar detection systems as well as a new generation of guided anti-shipping rockets. Scattered around other airbases in the region, long range German propeller fighter squadrons are also in final preparations. These fighters, perhaps the most advanced propeller based fighters in the world, were made with long range naval missions in mind and can operate out to ranges of up to 2,500 kilometers when configured with dual drop tanks.
Meanwhile the Italian Atlantic surface task force prepares for the boldest, and most risky, naval sortie in Italian history. At sea German and Italian submarines continue to score numerous kills on merchant ships in the shipping lanes between Britain and South America despite the growing calls of protest from the United States and Brazil. Largely unnoticed by British naval planners, a small but substantial surge of Italian and German submarines are concentrating off the northwestern coast of Africa.
[* The long range fighter mentioned above is the Fw-360g, a very refined model of a long range fighter developed by the Luftwaffe in the early to mid 40's as a fighter to escort Ural bombers over the vast distances of Russia. The version mentioned here is a naval variant, equipped with two drop tanks to operate out over the Atlantic Ocean on very long range escort missions. It has seen a lot of action over the North Atlantic and North Sea, escorting Sea Urals on missions against the Royal Navy and merchant shipping. In overall capabilities think of late model P-51's from our timeline, except that it actually has a longer range than the P-51 ever had in our timeline *]
April 27th 1949
In Libya a series of small tank battles result in more British tank losses, forcing the British to commit their last armored division to blocking Rommel's thrust. The new British armored division advances aggressively into Rommel's northern flank, forcing him to slow his advance and allowing the two routed British armored divisions some breathing space to whip themselves back into shape. In the air the Royal Airforce has met the Luftwaffe's surge plane for plane, pilot for pilot, and neither side can quite claim the upper hand. With both sides on the end of long supply lines, with both sides exhausted, and with both sides grimly determined - the Battle of Surt hangs in the balance.
Meanwhile, on the Eastern Front, Germany has not been idle. In preparation for a coming summer offensive a tide of men, material, and weapons has begun to flow from the Reich's industrial interior to the great war front on its east flank. Nor are the Soviets inclined to rest on their laurels - The fortress that is the Eastern Ukraine grows more hardened by the day and Beria's regime scours the Soviet Union from end to end in search of fighting men and boys, and women for the factories and auxiliaries. The Russian people are being squeezed as much as any people in all of history, squeezed and bled white and trimmed to the bone. Still the commissars demand more, in the name of socialism and mother Russia.
To be continued in Segment 52.2