Deep Blue Deep Blue

Unternehmen Wintergewitter - December 17, 1942 - December 19, 1942

Eastern Front By: yangtze - Last update: 05/21/2008
Axis Player: Allied Player:
x5 x7 x5 x7
first You play first    

Historical Background:
Operation Winter Storm (German Unternehmen Wintergewitter) was the German Fourth Panzer Army's attempt to relieve German General Von Paulus' Sixth Army from encirclement during the Battle of Stalingrad. The operation commenced on 12 December 1942 and was able to advance just halfway to its objective, up to the Myshkova River, before a Soviet outflanking move further to the north forced the relief force to break off and withdraw, dooming the Sixth Army to defeat and capture.

The relief attempt depended on a makeshift armoured corps of three panzer divisions, totalling 75,000 men and 500 tanks, assembled by Field Marshal Erich von Manstein. He put General Hoth in charge of the spearhead. The 6th Panzer Division came from refitting in France after nine months on the Eastern Front. The 17th Panzer Division came from Army Group Centre on the Zhizdra front, and the 23rd Panzer Division, recovering from a narrowly averted disaster before Orzhonikidze, came from Army Group A in the Caucasus. These three divisions constituted the LVII Panzer Corps.

LVII Panzer Corps was assembled at Kotelnikovo, with 6th Panzer in the middle, 17th Panzer to its left and 23rd Panzer to its right, and the offensive began on 12 December. The Aksai River and the Myshkova River lay in the force's path. The force made good progress at first, reaching and crossing the Aksai by the end of the first day, and ground towards the Myshkova, using up precious time, but could not cross, the 6th and 17th Panzer coming up against the 4th Mechanised Corps, and the 23rd Panzer battling the 13th Tank Corps. This is where the scenario picks up the story.

In Stalingrad itself, von Paulus dithered over Operation Thunderclap. This was a planned breakout from the Stalingrad pocket by his exhausted and freezing troops, where they would join with Hoth's panzer force and together withdraw to Kotelnikovo. Despite encouragement from von Manstein, von Paulus could not make the decision to initiate the breakout without a direct order from Adolf Hitler. Obsessed with not withdrawing from where his forces had set foot, Hitler did not give the order, and Paulus stayed put. After the war, von Manstein explained how he had tried to persuade Hitler to approve Thunderclap. He also felt von Paulus should have launched it with or without permission. However, whether von Paulus' fuel- and food-lacking forces could have got themselves out of Stalingrad at all by then is open to question.

As the relief force made its thrust, Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov sliced through the Italians holding the Axis front line further to the north. Seeing that this powerful Soviet force was wheeling to the left in order to come down behind the German relief effort, von Manstein detached the 6th Panzer Division from the effort to cross the Myshkova and rushed it to the Italians' aid, saving the position there for the moment but dooming the Stalingrad relief attempt. Having lost the 6th Panzer, the relief force was driven back to and beyond Kotelnikovo by 29 December, and now there was a threat to both Rostov and the entire Army Group A of 400,000 men still bottled up on the Terek River in the Caucasus. Hitler had to make the hard decision to pull this force out altogether, consigning Stalingrad to its fate. Hoth's vainglorious charge was over.

The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.

Axis Player: General Hermann Hoth: Take 5 Command cards.
You move first.

Russian Player: General A. Eremenko: Take 5 Command cards.

Conditions of Victory:
7 Medals

Each Stalingrad pocket unit that exits off the Axis base edge of the board counts as 1 victory medal.

Special Rules:
Unternehmen Donnerschlag (Operation Thunderclap):
If any Axis unit ends its turn adjacent to any Stalingrad pocket unit, or if the Axis player plays Their Finest Hour, both of the units in the Stalingrad pocket may from that moment be activated normally, and attacked by the Allied player. The Stalingrad pocket troops may NOT be activated on a turn that the German player plays Behind Enemy Lines.

Until the Stalingrad pocket troops have been activated they may not be attacked by the Allied player.

The Axis and Allied Special Forces Infantry units are mechanised infantry units. Place a Special Forces Badge in the same hex with these units to distinguish them from the other units. They may move 1 or 2 hexes and battle.

Four Axis units start at reduced strength as indicated. These units may not recover figures beyond this level by use of a Medics and Mechanics card.

All Allied tank units start with four figures.

Russian Command rules are in effect (see p.3 EF).

The Myshkova and Karpovka Rivers are frozen. Refer to p.3 (EF) about frozen rivers.

Russian Villages have the same effect as a Town & Village hex (M44 p.14).

Winter Forest have the same effect as a Forest hex (M44 p.13).

Hill with Forest has the same effect as a Forest hex (M44 p.13).

You need the Eastern Front expansion to play this scenario.

Scenario Bibliography:
Hans J. Wijers, The Battle for Stalingrad - Operation Winter Storm

Please note that this scenario was not approved by Richard Borg or Days of Wonder, so you have to check yourself about playability, potential gaming issues, etc.

Set-up Order