austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Soon you're counting jeeps

I finally had the chance to resume my Hearts of Iron II game, and finish off the year 1950. Longtime readers will recall at this point the Allies --- including the puppet state of Germany, Japan, and a half-dozen Chinese nations, as well as Ukraine, Russia, and other states carved out of the Soviet Union following a successful invasion from the north of Russia-in-Europe --- have been squeezing the Soviet Union, lone survivor of the Comintern, to its center since 1947.

There would, I must admit, be no great insightful breakthroughs in how to conduct a war this year. The basic strategy would be the United States dedicating its industrial capacity to tactical bombers and close-air-support craft, while trusting in the existing size of the United States army as it stands, with reinforcements coming in expeditionary forces loaned by allies. Many of these are created by Japan, Korea, and China, and so follow the long trail of going across the Pacific, marching across the United States, sailing across the Atlantic, and marching from Russia the thousands of miles to the western front, as the eastern was pretty stalled out. The path is long, but, steady.

The other major point of Allied war strategy was carving out new allies from territory liberated from the Soviet Union. The game's mechanics allow that only when a sufficient set of 'National Provinces' are in my control simultaneously, so there would be some erratic and odd selections of nations. The new-created allies would start with no armed forces, but would depending on their industrial capacity have forces to deploy starting within a couple of months. Created as Allies these new states would not have armed forces to start with, but within a few months would be producing infantry and more advanced units; many of those would be donated to the Allied effort, either as loaned expeditionary forces to more major Allies or independently marching to the rump Soviet Union.

So here are the roster of nations formed as the front lines constricted in the midst of Siberia somewhere: on the 1st of January, 1950, the Transural Republic, which is somewhere east of the Ural mountains and I don't quite get the ethnic coherence there either. On 19 January, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan were liberated. On the 19th of April, Kyrgyzstan was created as an independent puppet state. On the 4th of July --- I can't resist liberating states on that date, and did delay liberating some states which could have been created earlier to make the holiday; I believe this to be authentic to how the United States government would behave --- Sinkiang and Siberia joined the list of Allied nations. On the 22nd of August, Kazakhstan made the cut, and would be the last nation liberated during the calendar year.

It would also be a year of surprising technological breakthroughs. On the 25th of March, a tech breakthrough made conceivable development of the nuclear-powered submarine. This did not give me the ability to make nuclear submarines just yet, but allowed me to complete the research project which would make building them possible. On the 8th of April the surface-to-air missile project became available. On the 18th, the Turbojet Carrier Air Group became a possibility. And on the 14th of December, Robbert Oppenheimer's technology team would complete the research needed for the Hydrogen Bomb, making that an available weapon (which in the game just means an accelerated rate and increased destructive power of atomic weapons, rather than a separate line of super-weapons).

The development of hydrogen bombs raises a question that I know has been in xolo's mind, namely: why haven't I been dropping atom bombs on suitable targets? And the irritating reason is that there haven't been suitable targets. In-game the effects of atom bombs are to pretty well wipe out the armies within a province, naturally, and to obliterate it as an economic center for the duration of the game, as well as to ruin its infrastructure. But by the time it came to the Soviet war there just weren't suitable targets. The coastal, tightly-packed, economically substantial provinces such as Leningrad or Moscow I wanted as productive territories, or at least as points on the supply chains. Conquering the Soviet Union really, really taxes supply chains and I didn't want to make them any worse than they already were. As it was most of my units were running around two-thirds optimum because supplies and reinforcements just could not get through.

The more distant, sparser provinces I could take or leave, without any of those territories being obviously necessary. But those would tend to have only small army stacks inside, ones that could be taken by conventional forces and not needing the limited supply of atomic bombs (it takes about a half-year to gain a new one) to capture. The lone spot where they would be useful would be the eastern Siberia-Gobi front, with huge army stacks and economically worthless territories --- except there the territories were large enough that after an atom bombing, control of the territory would depend on who got to the bombed-out province first, and the Soviets would be running from interior lines, giving them generally an advantage, and there are a lot of territories along that front. I could make the front more sparsely defended, but not break through. I couldn't use the bombs effectively, making that whole line of development a bit of a punch line. And with some of the provinces the path from the nearest airbase would be too far away to allow for an atom-bombing run, prompting me to build more airbases, minimizing the round-trip distance, and so scattering many airbases through the middle of nowhere, northern Asia.

But there should be interesting social knock-on effects from atomic and nuclear weapons being developed but not deployed in anger.

On the 6th of January was the first of multiple ``linkup'' moments: the V Corps occupied Salekhard, in northern Asian Russia, which is a huge empty province around the northern rim of the Soviet Union. This completed a latitudinal path from the Atlantic to the Pacific and represents cutting the Soviet Union entirely off from the Arctic Circle. Big deal, yeah, but it would be the first meeting of the east and west fronts.

The next linkup came on the 19th of July when American forces entered Gulja as Chinese forces reached Urumqi, allowing for a link-up in Sinkiang, which you all remember is that far western part of our timeline's China, where it bordered the Soviet Union. This made for the first partition of Soviet territory into disconnected pieces, although since it was only two provinces south of the divide this did not make for the sort of trapping large numbers of enemy units away from their supplies (which are modelled as emanating from the current capital over land, then sea, lanes). But it made the un-supplied provinces easier to take.

By the 9th of September the Soviet Union would be a small diamond-shaped territory as far from everything as you could get. Its remaining industrial capacity was rated at 6, which doesn't signify very much if you don't know the game dynamics. But that put its industrial might somewhere between that of Liberia (industrial capacity of 3) and Haiti (industrial capacity of 6). Clearly the war could not continue for very much longer.

On the 14th of September Lieutenant General Roberts, commanding mixed forces of infantry, mountaineers, and motorized cavalry engaged Field Marshall Kuznetsov, commanding a smaller but un-supplied group of infantry, motorized cavalry, and garrison officers, in Kolpachevo, winning what I certainly expected would be the last land battle of the war. On the 16th, General Eisenhower commanding five armored divisions did win the final battle against the Soviet Union, in Turukhansk, against a force beaten so quickly I didn't get to see what it was composed of or who lead it. It was the last of the Soviet Union's land armies, however.

Despite the Soviet Union having no armed forces left (well, they had 24 ``small craft'' in their navy according to my spies, but as far as I could tell they didn't have any bases or ports so that was pretty ignorable; I never found them), and no industrial base to replace the forces, one of the remaining Soviet provinces was a ``home province'' and so I could not annex the nation until I occupied that. I decided to not annex the Soviets until I'd occupied all the remaining territory, which would not take long. They had only a few provinces left and I had all the armed forces in the world converging on them.

At 19:00 Greenwich Time on 2 October 1950 --- three years and one month to the day after the start of the war by Communist Korea's unprovoked attack on Free Korea --- General Eisenhower and the US L Corps captured the Soviet province of Turukhansk, and (in my imagination; the game doesn't go into this level of detail) captured Josef Stalin and the rest of the remaining Soviet government.

And thus came to an end the third phase of the Second World War.

I'll file the rest of the 1950 report in with 1951's.

Trivia: Germany produced eight thousand aircraft in 1939, ten thousand in 1940, and only eleven thousand in 1941. Source: Why The Allies Won, Richard Overy.

Currently Reading: Living Dangerously: The Adventures of Merian C Cooper, Creator of King Kong, Mark Cotta Vaz.

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