Shattered World - Segment 54.4
September 16th 1949 to October 5th 1949
September 16th 1949
The German position in the Atlantic continues to deteriorate as the USN and the Royal Navy conduct a campaign of aggressive joint submarine sweeps across the Atlantic shipping lanes. Now utilizing helicopters, first generation sonabouys, and the latest sonar and radar technologies, the Alliance ASW efforts have resulted in German submarine losses spiking to unsustainable levels. Not yet willing to concede the shipping lanes, the Germans continue to turn out their latest designs from yards in northern Germany at record pace. However, work on entirely newer models is so far relegated to a few half-completed prototypes.
In the cold waters of the far north, however, the situation remains more even. Over the past week, two huge Alliance convoys have been attacked and suffered severe losses in merchant shipping to German submarines and long range maritime aircraft operating in concert. Both convoys lose nearly a full quarter of the tonnage being shipped to the Soviets, every ton lost a hard blow for the teetering Soviet Union.
September 20th 1949
In western and southern Spain, two more major Axis air fields are struck by atomic bombs in a massive operation that includes heavy conventional bombing of other Iberian airfields and ports, as well as the use of radiation-homing bombs to destroy several Axis radar sites. Axis air forces in Iberia have been so degraded in terms of command & control, personnel, aircraft, and airfields that their air defense and naval aviation sorties are down by 50% compared to early August. However, Axis AAA and SAM defenses remain strong and the U.S. continues to suffer heavy losses of B-31 bombers and fighters.
September 21st 1949
After a week of pitched gun battles between the CNP and the PPC on the street's of Chile's major cities, and a lack of decisive action from the paralyzed government in Santiago, the Chilean Army seizes control of the government. The military junta quickly crushes the street fighting, begins disarming and arresting the radical elements of the PPC, and orders an end to the general strike. Decrying what they call a "fascist coup", the PPC, labor organizations, and left leaning centrist elements call for a continuation of the general strike and restoration of civilian government.
September 23rd 1949
Following the ongoing nuclear strikes and massive conventional attacks across Iberia and western France, Hitler unleashes his promised retaliation with a massive new air offensive against Britain.
Just before noon, roughly 800 German A-4f ballistic missiles launch from mobile launch vehicles and fixed facilities across northern France and the lowlands. Accurate to within half a kilometer at the short distance across the Channel, the missiles fall like the hammers of god at RAF airbases across the southern portion of Britain. With two ton warheads split between air burst, ground burst, and chemical dispersion, five major RAF airbases and two spoof bases operated by the RAF as decoy facilities suffer heavy damage. Each of the air fields is targeted with over a hundred ballistic missiles, and at each facility at least a dozen of the missiles score a successful hit. The pattern of damage at each base varies due to the random nature of the missile falls, but all experience some degree of damage to aircraft on the ground, hangars,fuel supplies, and other infrastructure in addition to heavy losses of personnel and confusion sown by the sudden introduction of deadly and persistent nerve gas.
Even before the missiles began impacting at the RAF airbases, 150 German jet fighters and 100 medium jet bombers begin taking to the skies. Pausing briefly to form up, the German aircraft soon surge out over the Channel in the direction of England. Clouds of chaff fill the skies and German jamming crackles across the air waves. Despite the strikes on the RAF airbases, and despite German ECM, some 200 British jet fighters rise to confront the Germans head on. With the short distances and near supersonic speeds involved, the action comes fast and furious. While German and British jets clash in a chaotic fur ball over the Channel and southeastern Britain, German medium jet bombers streak in at low altitude to launch conventional, chemical, and radiation-homing attacks on numerous British radar stations. At the same time, one group of German jets breaks out of the growing fur ball to make a dash for three separate British ARP aircraft. Cutting through waves of British fighters, several German jets manage to engage the radar aircraft with cannon and experimental guided air-to-air missiles. Two of the three precious British ARP aircraft on patrol are downed. On the ground, all along the southeastern coast of Britain, numerous British radar stations are destroyed, damaged, or otherwise suppressed.
An hour after the first ballistic missile launch, the primary phase of the German operation begins. As German jet fighters and medium bombers return from their missions over Britain, and others continue to engage British fighters over the Channel, the first of 350 German jet and propeller fighters, and 400 Ural and Ju-588 heavy bombers begin to take to the skies. It takes most of 30 minutes for the attack force to form up, and when it finally begins moving out over the channel clouds of British fighters, as many as 400 in all, sweep in to stop them. In some of the most confused, desperate, and wide ranging air combat of the war to date British fighters will down 60 German fighters and over 25 German heavy bombers over the next half hour, in exchange for more than 90 of their own lost. British AAA will account for another 40 German heavy bombers downed. In the largest German raid on Britain to date, the 350 or so bombers that reach the city drop nearly 2000 tons of incendiary and high explosive bombs on London. Much of the city's center is destroyed in a terrific fire storm, including most of the famous government buildings. Despite the tremendous scale of the raid, casualties are relatively low due to excellent British civil defense procedures and the fact that most of the city's population lives out in the suburbs or in underground shelters if they must live in the central districts. Still, some 20,000 British civilians die in the raid.
The German operation was not without cost. In all, the Germans lose 80 fighters of all types, 35 medium jet bombers, and a devastating 65 heavy bombers. The British lose over 115 fighters in the air and on the ground, in addition to the heavy damage at five airbases and the severe degradation of their radar defense network. In the evening Hitler gives a typical blustery speech on Radio Berlin, ominously warning the British that the "chemical weapons used to gas her airbases could just as easily be turned on her cities" . The only British response is an ineffective but symbolic salvo of 50 ballistic missiles aimed at the German city of Hamburg.
September 24th 1949
Germany unleashes day 2 of its air offensive against Britain. Again, hundreds of German A-4f ballistic missiles rain down to damage additional RAF airbases, followed up by escorted medium bomber strikes on British radar and AAA sites. This is followed up again by a surge of hundreds of fighters and hundreds of heavy bombers. The British meet them again, achieving .7 to 1 kill ratios with the German jets and downing a couple dozen German heavy bombers. This time the German heavy bombers target Manchester, 250 of them dropping nearly 1500 tons of ordinance on the city's manufacturing center. The factories suffer heavy damage, and the civilian toll climbs above the losses in London with some 35,000 killed in a nightmarish firestorm that engulfs whole residential districts. German losses are again heavy, losing another 65 fighters, 20 medium bombers, and 50 heavy bombers. The British lose another 95 fighters and their airbases and air defense systems suffer further degradation.
On the Eastern Front - German forces have achieved a general breakout north of the Ukraine, having taken Bryansk and surrounded Orel. At the point of great penetration, German armored spearheads are approaching Kursk from the north as the offensive swings southward. The orderly Soviet withdrawal from the Ukraine is degenerating into a disaster as the German breakout to the north and the tentative probes of minor Axis forces to the west, threaten the total annihilation of the Red Army in the Ukraine. A thin screen of grimly determined Red Army units are holding minor Axis forces at bay at Kiev and along the Dnieper River while the rest of the Red Army lumbers east. However, a critical lack of fuel and heavy Luftwaffe bombing has torn the soviet timetable to shreds. Desperate to save the retreating army in the Ukraine, Beria orders all available aircraft to this theater.
Meanwhile, to the south the Axis advance in the Caucasus continues to accelerate as it has now broken entirely into the flat plains. The Soviets are retreating in good order here, intending to re-occupy the extensive fortifications at the post-Eurasian War German-Soviet frontier.
September 25th 1949
The first U.S. fighter squadron operating out of Britain is declared fully operational and begins joining RAF elements in the ongoing desperate battle over Britain and the Channel Front. The 'Eagle' jet fighters, the world's best in terms of pure performance, are a rude surprise for German jet pilots used to having the edge over British jets. Still, the lack of experience among the American pilots means that the first appearance of the Eagle in combat results in a 1 to 1 kill ratio with German jets. U.S. air power is on the rise in Britain, as additional air bases are being constructed and numerous U.S. bomber and fighter squadrons will be going operational across the British Isles over the coming months as the 8th Air force ramps up its capabilities. In addition, the SBC is working on two major airbases on Britain that will support B-31's and B-34's.
To the south, U.S. forces have now been massing on Madeiras and the Canary Islands for roughly four months. The islands are virtually overflowing with U.S. soldiers, weapons, and war material. B-31 and B-34 bombers operating from airbases on the islands are now routinely hammering targets in Iberia and western France, often with long range fighters also operating out of the islands along with massive carrier air power. The U.S. buildup is obvious to all, and it is equally obvious that the islands are being turned into a spring board. The question that is giving Axis intelligence fits is : will the Americans use the spring board to jump into Iberia or North Africa?
In China, the nationalists clearly have the upper hand in the fierce civil war raging there. Nationalist forces have finally crushed communist resistance in Beijing itself and the communist Chinese forces are being pushed steadily east and north towards the coast and the border with Soviet-occupied Manchuria. Behind nationalist lines, a virulent communist guerrilla movement has taken root across northern and eastern China as the Chinese communist regime methodically transitions itself into a guerrilla fighting force.
September 26th 1949
German forces capture Kursk as the rupture in the Soviet front continues to widen. With Bryansk, Orel, and Kursk in hand the Germans begin an operational pause, resting their forces after their stunning advance southeast from Smolensk. In the skies, Red Air force planes thrown hastily into the air over the front fall by the dozens and then the hundreds to German fighters and radar-guided mobile anti-aircraft systems.
In Japan - the U.S. drops a 42 kiloton atomic bomb on the already battered city of Fukuoka , killing 50,000 and destroying much of the city. Elsewhere, all around Japan, massive conventional raids by B-31's and B-34's have been hammering Japanese cities, military installations, and transportation networks on a steady and sustained basis despite relatively high B-31 losses. In the inland seas and the coastal regions south and east of Japan, American air patrols, submarine sweeps, and mine delivery have begun to severely inhibit all Japanese maritime shipping and harvesting activities. Only the sheltered Sea of Japan remains relatively open to Japanese shipping, although U.S. airborne delivery of mines and long ranged maritime attack aircraft are beginning to take their toll here as well.
September 27th 1949
Using all of their armored forces from the eastern Ukraine, and much of their remaining fuel supplies, the Soviets launch a desperate armored counter-punch, aiming northeast towards Kursk in an effort to buy time for the bulk of the 500,000 Red Army soldiers in the Ukraine to escape to the east. Outnumbered and outclassed, and with the Luftwaffe still maintaining near total air superiority in the region, 400 Soviet tanks move stoically across the open plains 75 kilometers southwest of Kursk. Moving to meet them are some 600 elite panzers with the most experienced crews in the world. Overhead, Luftwaffe ground attack aircraft of every variety swarm in their dozens while German jets drive off desperate hordes of inferior Soviet aircraft.
In Chile, the general strike devolves into massive, violent, street riots after the military junta attempts to arrest strike leaders and break up strike gatherings. In Santiago, communists and hard socialists are openly calling for revolution.
September 29th 1949
On the unseasonably cold plains southwest of Kursk, two German panzer divisions destroy the entire armored strength of the Soviet Union's Ukrainian Front in an intense 10 hours of combat, destroying some 250 tanks and forcing the rest to flee in disorder. German tank busting aircraft will destroy many more before sunset arrives. To the south, hundreds of thousands of Russian troops are marching east, mostly by horse or by foot. Their march remains orderly, despite the rain of death falling from the dominant Luftwaffe above. Yet, hanging over them is a burning pall of doom.
October 1st 1949
The German air campaign against Britain has reached its end after one full week. Following the two consecutive massive raids that began the campaign, the Luftwaffe maintained the pressure with daily operations focusing on hammering RAF and RN facilities as well as transportation infrastructure. Despite the loss or severe curtailing of much of its radar capability, British air defense command and control remains fairly effective. The damage to numerous RAF airbases has been a harder blow, with RAF sorties reduced by 40% by the end of the campaign. However, Luftwaffe losses have been painfully high, so much so that the operation is ended a full four days before the scheduled completion date. The operation has cost the Luftwaffe dearly, losing nearly 200 fighters, a hundred medium jet bombers, and more than 150 precious heavy bombers.
"The Blitz", as the British are calling it, has heavily damaged London and Manchester, rocked the RAF back on its heels, and gave the British an extremely hard pounding. Yet, the operation has been more a propaganda coup for the Germans than anything else. RAF losses, while equally painful, are mitigated by the ever increasing numbers of U.S. aircraft arriving on the British Isles.
Far to the east - despite heavy and bitterly cold rains, German panzers and mechanized infantry slog generally south from Kursk, fanning out and cutting through the withdrawing Red Army forces with ease.
From Sumy in the west to Belgorod in the east, German forces grind southwards. The only thing slowing them down is the worsening mud.
On Okinawa - the U.S. now largely controls the central and southern portions of the island, although significant pockets of Japanese resistance remain dug into the extensive underground tunnels and fortifications. In the past two weeks, two more atomic bombs have been used in a tactical role; one too reduce a particularly nasty pocket of resistance in Chinen and the other to blast a hole in a Japanese line of defense at Aha in the north of the island. U.S. losses have been staggering, with some 15,000 dead and many more wounded. Japanese losses are even higher, and include a large percentage of the civilian population.
October 2nd 1949
In Chile, the military junta begins rounding up communist and socialist activists and declares the PPC illegal. When police and military forces arrive to close down PPC headquarters in Santiago and other cities, the PPC resists. The resulting battles result in numerous deaths on both sides. Later in the day, socialist and moderate leftist parties side with the PPC, declaring in a joint statement that the junta government is illegitimate and calling for ODAS intervention to "restore democracy and sanity in Chile". The CNP and other nationalist and right-leaning parties
react swiftly, calling the left traitors and enemies of Chile. The smell of violence is in the air.
Finnish nationalist rebels launch an uprising they have been quietly planning for years. Simultaneous coordinated revolts erupt in Helsinki and other larger cities, supported by German naval bombardments, air strikes, and special forces. Soviet forces in Finland have been stripped to the bone to put more men in the defensive belts around Leningrad and despite the small size of the underground nationalist Finnish forces, they succeed in capturing parts of Helsinki and other cities by the end of the day. For the first time in years, the Finnish flag flies proudly in open defiance of Soviet rule.
October 3rd 1949
Alliance retaliation for The Blitz, so far limited to symbolic ballistic missile attacks, finally grows teeth as the RAF stages a 400 bomber raid on the German city of Hamburg, dropping 1800 tons of explosives on the already hard hit German port city. Civilian losses run to 30,000 dead and the city's naval construction yards suffer a tremendous blow. The British lose 50 B-31 bombers and 40 escort fighters in the raid while the Germans lose only 15 of their own fighters.
Heavy fighting erupts in Santiago and other cities around Chile as some elements of the police and military defect to the leftist/populist cause. In Santiago - armored forces equipped with Sherman tanks, and loyal to the military junta, move against leftist forces, adding their firepower to a pitched battle that levels part of the city. The night ends with the Chilean parliament building in flames after being shelled by a leftist artillery unit.
October 4th 1949
The fighting sputters and dies in Santiago after routed leftist elements flee the capitol, seeking to join other leftist forces around the country to form an emergency government. With the fires still being put out in Santiago, and fighting continuing in other cities, SAFB and Axis radio from Buenos Aires to Berlin hail the military junta for "moving to restore order and crush communist elements" in "defiance of the imperialist Anglo empires and treacherous international communism". At the same time, the ODAS and its allies in the Alliance declare sanctions and an embargo against Chile "until such time that civilian rule is returned and elections scheduled in accordance with democratic principles". The staff officers in the junta are decidedly not fascists, but they are Chilean nationalists and have no love of communism. When they begin receiving invitations for "consultations" with SAFB diplomats and other more covert contacts, they do not reject them out of hand but instead begin to carefully consider their options.
October 5th 1949
Exhausted German forces, becoming increasingly bogged down by the muddy terrain, none-the-less capture the critical transportation hub of Kharkov. To the southwest, the German offensive runs out of steam after desperate Soviet forces, with the aid of mother nature clearing the skies of aircraft, make stands at Pryluky and Poltava. Despite the halt of the German advance, the Soviet position remains dire. 150,000 Soviet troops remain west of the German south-pointing salient, and the Germans are only 75 kilometers east of the river Dnieper at points. Another 250,000 withdrawing troops have been forced by the fall of Kharkov to fan out across the southern Ukraine as little more than a surging mob; all abandoning heavy equipment and striving desperately to escape to the east. Only 100,000 Red Army soldiers have so far escaped east into Soviet territory.
Meanwhile, minor Axis forces are finally ready to move. Italian, Hungarian, and Romanian armored forces, bolstered by a couple German panzergrenadier divisions, launch a sharp attack, moving from positions east of the Dnieper River in the southern Ukraine and intending to plunge directly east towards Rostov. Following rolling artillery barrages that pin down the thin screen of Soviet defenders, the minor Axis forces surge ahead and simply overwhelm the Soviet rear guards by sheer numbers and greater mobility. By the end of the day, minor Axis armored forces have plunged 20 kilometers across the frontier and there are only hastily withdrawing columns of Soviet infantry ahead of them as snow begins to drape the soggy landscape.
To Be Continued in Part 55...