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Seelowe Campaign

'THE GATES OF BERLIN'


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For the IL2 Sturmovik Series

Historical Background


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 The Battle at Seelowe Heights ,part of the Oder-Neisse Battles,was the last major battle between the Soviet and German armies.The Germans had been on the retreat since Stalingrad in 1942 and now had their backs against a wall facing a determined enemy led by Georgy Zhukov in the East,and the combined  allied forces in the West.

Heinrici had been placed in charge of Army group Vistula in March and layed defenses along the Oder ,the main emplacements being on the Seelowe Heights so as  to overlook the front.These defenses consisted of  anti tank ditches,gun emplacements and and an extensive network of trenches.

Heinrici had 100,000 men,512 tanks,344 artillery pieces and 400 anti-aircraft guns.Across the Oder the Russians had 1 million men,3155 tanks and over 16,300 artillery pieces,as well as a superiority in the air of more than 10-1.

After many probes by the Russians,the storm broke at 4.00 am on April the 16th.Within half an hour a half million shells had fallen on the Germans armies,noisy and spectacular,but not as effective as the Russian commanders had hoped.Heinrici had anticipated the bombardment and pulled back the bulk of his troops into two defensive lines in front of the heights.

The Russian armies advanced until well in range of the German artillery which opened up and stopped the advance in it's tracks.Swampy ground,created by German engineers who had flooded the Oder plain by releasing an upstream reservoir,mired down tanks and troops making the initial attack a disaster.

Zhukov threw in his reserves that were to held back for the breakthrough as well as ordering more armoured forces to the area.This created a huge traffic jam and thus immobilized the bulk of Russian armour while while the troops at the front were chewed up by the German artillery.

However Heinrici did not have things all his own way as Russian airstrikes were destroying his artillery on top of the heights and his troops were taking serious casualties themselves.By the end of the first day Heinricis lines at Seelowe were intact and Stalin was chewing out Zhukov.Attacks to the south of this battle were fairing a lot better.

Day two was a slugging contest with the weight of Russian troops,armour,artillery and aircraft making itself felt.The Luftwaffe attacks were a mere prick in the Russian Bear,damage done to the Red Armies bridging positions proved futile as it was quickly repaired.By nightfall on the 17th the Seelowe front was battered but still unbroken.

On the third day Zhukov continued to hammer at Seelowe Heights and Heinricis defences were eroding.He still mantained his position on the heights but owing to losses and lack of replacements the position was becoming untenable.The Luftwaffe was virtually grounded owing to a lack of fuel but still sortied and caused casualities out of proportion to the odds it faced.

April the 19th finally saw Zhukov break through the Seelowe front area leaving some German pockets to surrender or be wiped out.This left the run to Berlin (90 kilometres westward) open.Berlin was encircled by the 23rd of April.This last battle cost the Russians over 30,000 men and 1000 tanks,the Germans 12,000.The simple mass of assualt had ground down the defenders.


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Russian Forces
 
1,000,000 Men
3,155 Tanks
16,900 Artillery
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German forces
 
100,000 Men
512 Tanks
344 Artillery
400 AA Guns
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