Wargame Wednesday: Nigel Askey’s Operation Barbarossa

Wednesday , 23, August 2017 2 Comments

Operation Barbarossa: the Complete Organisational and Statistical Analysis, and Military Simulation is destined to become the essential reference and with Volume VI the most historically accurate game on the 1941 invasion of Russia.

Historians, students, scenario and game designers will find the extensive data and the methodology to study modern conflict useful. For the lay reader not interested in the Table of Organization and Equipment (TOE) of a German Panzer Division or the difference in the Supply Distribution Efficiency (SDE) between Soviet and German ground forces in 1941* there is an abundance of informative text, to include neglected subjects such as German Armed-Forces Auxiliary Organizations, coastal aviation, patrol and anti-ship aircraft, Soviet armored trains and naval ground combat units.

 

The amount of shelf space required to house the books and the total cost  may be prohibitive for those with only a cursory interest, but if your library contains two or more David Glantz books; if you have read John Erickson’s Road to Stalingrad and Road to Berlin and many of your Osprey books are East Front related then Askey’s Operation Barbarossa is for you. 

 Monumental is the only way to describe the scope of Askey’s project which failed to find interest from mainstream publishers as his work was deemed “too large to be commercially viable” or didn’t contain enough illustrations. Undeterred, Askey is self-publishing and the the finished product is outstanding (I have all currently available volumes).  I like the cover art and from what I have read the editing is top notch. My only complaint is the lack of an index but indexing even one of the main volumes would be a mighty task and easily add 50% more pages to already thick books. Despite the lack of an index the table of contents at the beginning of each volume is more than adequate. 

 

Volume I proposes a methodology, the heart of which is the Fully Integrated Land and Air Resource Model (FILARM) which tracks the resources available from the start to the end of a campaign along with a Overall Combat Power Coefficient (OCPC) which derives the overall lethality of weapons from multiple quantitative metrics (rate of fire, accuracy, ammunition supply effect, etc,.).   

 

 Volumes II (German) and III (Russian) list the forces in great detail.

 

Volumes II A and III A cover personnel equipment and TOEs. Volumes II B and the yet to be published III B concentrate on each side’s Orders of Battle (OOB).

 

Volume IV will cover the Minor Axis Allies.

 

Volume V will cover the Relative Overall Combat Efficiency (ROCP) of the opposing forces.

 

Volume VI is a foray into the science (and mathematics) of war gaming, with a particular emphasis on the WWII period and “…will utilize as much of the historical data presented in Volumes I to V as possible (within the limits of available software and computer technology) and will include a complete operational – strategic level simulation of the East Front from 22nd June to 31st December 1941”.

 

Currently, Volumes I to Volume III A are available for purchase with Volume III B tentatively scheduled for a late 2018 release date and Volume IV in late 2019. 

Links to published volumes above are to Lulu.com which is currently selling the books for cheaper than Amazon.

There’s a lot to look forward to for the game release. Nigel has confirmed that he is planning a monster scenario covering the whole front though smaller scenarios will be available.  If any historical gamer can look at this map and not get excited, I’d like to know.  Another map link here.

I recommend visiting Askey’s web page to familiarize yourself with the project then come back and read the Q&A below. The Overview tab leads to links for four different essays in .pdf format on military simulation. Be sure to check out the History and WWII Military Myths tabs. The essay’s on the tactical performance of the T-34 and Siberian Divisions saving Moscow are must reads.

 

 

 

Q&A

 

 

Scott Cole:    You started this project in earnest in 2003.  Now that you are publishing please give the reader an idea of the resources and time required to finalize this project. I believe you also have a full time job?

 

Nigel Askey:  The first time I made a conscious decision to even attempt something this large was actually in the late 1990s. I had already spent years reading about and studying WWII, and soon realised that the actual ‘centre of gravity’ of the whole conflict (including the War in the Pacific) was the conflict on the East Front between the Axis and Soviets. The sheer scale and numbers involved (including casualties) simply dwarfed all the other theatres of the war, especially from 1941 to about mid-1944. This doesn’t mean the Soviets could have won WWII without the Western Allies, but it does actually mean Western Allies would have almost certainly not won WWII without the USSR (I will be doing a whole essay on this, eventually). With this in mind, I had always wondered if the Wehrmacht could have defeated the USSR; because the outcome of WWII essentially depended upon it. The only time they could have possibly achieved this was in 1941, specifically the outcome of Operation Barbarossa. They needed to get into such a winning position by late 1941 that the USSR was unlikely to survive 1942.

Coupled with this interest in WWII was the analytical way my brain works (not my fault!) and my physics background. I had already read just about all the published works on Operation Barbarossa and realized that the authors were essentially split: some believed they could have done it with different operational-strategic level decisions, while others believed that it was doomed from the outset by logistical constraints and the sheer size of the newly mobilised Red Army. However, the answer was that no one had a really good answer (including authors like John Erickson, David Glantz, Bryan Fugate and R Stolfi). In physics (especially non-classical or modern physics) we are trained that the human brain can only handle about three variables at the same time. I.e. it simply cannot track more variables simultaneously and how they change in relation to each other and over time: in order to do this you need a mathematical model (in this simple case a differential equation, preferably part of a computer model). With something like a military campaign you need a complete ‘computer model’ with many differential equations, which tracks these thousands of variables as they change over time. The model also reflects how changing one variable (e.g. the weather in a zone) affects all the other variables. When this is layered with the human decision making process (who actually make the decisions about direction, etc), you have a sophisticated military simulation.

The historical Operation Barbarossa authors all had an opinion, but none really ‘knew’ (or had a good answer) because the problem is actually too complex: there are just too many variables to take account of what was most likely to happen given different historical decisions. Example, many authors have focused on German logistics (mainly trucks and/or rail, and even then only in sketchy qualitative terms), and at the same time they have almost always completely failed to even consider the same factors, at the same time, in the opposing side. In this case it turns out the Red Army’s logistics (in 1941 and well into 1942) were often in a far worse state than that of the Wehrmacht. There are many, many other examples of ‘factors not taken into account’ or ‘how these factors changed for both sides over time’.

 

In addition to all this, my war-gaming experiences (initially done for fun and going back to my University days) had demonstrated to me that the people I knew that had the greatest understanding of almost all military campaigns, be it the Napoleonic era or the American Civil War, were the ones who attempted to wargame them. To my amazement, people who attempted to replicate the problems and decisions facing the historical protagonists, usually had a greater understanding of the military campaigns (and what was possible) than someone who had simply read another person’s view on the subject. For example, I used to play tabletop American Civil War battles against an Engineering student, and we both had a far deeper understanding of the problems and limitations facing the American commanders than almost any of the history students on the campus (and I had a several University friends at the time studying History). I realised that war-gamers, even with relatively unrealistic games, are actually using a superior quantitative based and hands-on ‘learning tool’ to effectively ‘study military history’. As these military simulations have grown ever more sophisticated, at the tactical, operational and strategic level, this situation has only become more apparent.

 

In 1999 I was messing around with building campaign scenarios using Talonsoft’s (Norm Koger) Operational Art of War (TOAW). For the first time I realised there was an application (with the associated PC power) which could handle most of the important aspects of simulating a massive campaign; including supply, logistics, individualised maps and individual weapon system parameters. It was then that I hit a brick wall, so to speak. I had excellent material on the weapons (going back to pre Talonsoft days) and how to simulate weapon parameters (mainly applied physics), but almost everything else was missing or very sketchy. Even for the largest and most decisive campaign in WWII, the available information on unit organisations, command structures, numbers available, replacements, trucks and almost everything else, was poor, sketchy, qualitative, missing or simply wrong. It was also spread over multiple sources and anyone would need to spend hundreds of hours researching to get the correct historical data. Without this, even the most sophisticated historical military simulation was doomed to failure (at worst), or mediocre realism at best.

This was then the genesis of the ‘Barbarossa Project’; and between 1999 and 2001 I built a very large Barbarossa scenario using the TOAW WOTY edition. This worked quite well, and did answer many questions, but was still missing a huge amount of historical data. In 2003 I actually made the conscious decision to attempt this project in full, and publish the research findings. The aim is now to get all this data into a single easy to use source that future designers (and historians) can use as military simulation technology advances. I.e. it is generic and can also be used by any student of military history, including those not interested in ‘simulating the campaign’ as such. It was also necessary to create an entire methodology that future designers and scholars could use, which is essentially the idea behind Volume I in the series. This methodology is designed to be usable by any student of modern military history and applicable to any conflict in the 20th century and provide a framework to study conflicts from any well documented / archived period of history.  However, the sheer size of Operation Barbarossa (effectively the largest invasion ever, and which led to the largest military campaign ever), and the need to conform to this rigid methodology, made the ‘Barbarossa Project’ an enormous task. This is why it is now broken down into multiple volumes, each of which addresses specific aspects of the overall campaign.

I continued to work full time in the IT industry in Australia until about 2004, but I was fortunate enough to be able to move to part time contract work. I still work under the occasional contract, which detracts from my main passion, and this does sometimes take me away from progressing a volume for a few weeks (and sometimes a month or so). So far I have spent over 18,000 hours on the project (including travel and research since 2003), and have an office at home which is literally a library of WWII literature and paperwork. I suppose like many large projects, this one evolved and grew larger until its final objectives became what they are now: to encompass all the military and economic aspects of the East Front during 1941.

 

 

Scott Cole:    What you are doing with this project is monumental. The amount of detail and breadth of coverage on the largest land campaign in history is staggering. Are there one or two things you feel most proud of?

 

Nigel Askey:    A good question. To my dismay, I still read many qualitative based military history books which are poorly researched, misleading or (worst case) simply promoting the author’s personal view and agenda without any significant evidence. This has also allowed many media channels (like the so-called History Channel) to use ‘sloppy research’ and be misleading in a great many of their films. Generally, this has led to many myths and untruths to surround military operations (and what was possible militarily), particularly in relation to WWII. The reasons why this has occurred, especially in relation to WWII, are complex.

I suppose, one of the things I am most proud of is that my approach (and methodology, as detailed) forces the scholar to examine every aspect of a military campaign, on all sides, from an objective quantitative point of view. This forces one to adopt a far more disciplined analytical process, and in the process a great many of the myths and misconceptions that exist are automatically dismissed (with many found to be wrong, or even, literally impossible). If, in the future, others adopt this methodology, or even significant parts of it, and use it to study other military campaigns at any point in history, I would be most proud as this actually changes the way people think.

I suppose another aspect I am reasonably proud of is persistence. A while ago, I was on the verge of giving up the project as simply too large and difficult. Every mainstream publisher I approached stated that the work was simply ‘too large’ to be ‘commercially viable’. They were uninterested in its scholarly or historic value (including every university press I approached) and they all focused solely on things like ‘money making marketability’ and ‘how many illustrations’ I had! I however, knew that there were many people out there who were sick of the standard, high-level, qualitative and picture-book accounts of WWII, and wanted something with real facts and figures they could use. This was particularly true for many wargamers and scenario designers who had already gone far beyond the usual superficial WWII history stuff. If my work supplies this type and material, and gives other authors in the future the impetus to research and find the same level of material on other military campaigns, I would be most happy.

 

 

SC: All the factors that go into a unit’s Overall Combat Power Coefficient (OCPC) are quantitative. There must have been some factors we can only give qualitative attributes to that made a difference on the battlefield (or we don’t know how to quantify). I’d say one example of a qualitative factor is  training and tactics and their relevance to a particular time and place (though your emphasis on actual battlefield performance could be a way to quantify this)?  

Do you ruthlessly purge all qualitative aspects from your system or is there a role for it in Volume V and and the Relative Overall Combat Proficiency (ROCP)?

 

NA:  The weapon system’s OCPC is only concerned with the design and capability of the weapon system as a pure machine. It takes no account of crew training or the doctrine of the military organisation (crew) manning the machine or any supporting personnel, only the engineering and physics of the weapon as a complete standalone system. Thus, ideally, if we are comparing the OCPCs of two tank types, the methodology assumes the crews in the tanks are identical in all respects, including training, experience, doctrine, etc. Thus, factors like: numbers and types of weapons (each with a separate WCPC value), optics quality, turret layout, thickness and slope of the various armour facings, significant shot-traps, the amount of ammunition carried, etc, are the type of factors considered to calculate a weapon system’s OCPC. The OCPC also does not include how the weapon system operates with other weapon systems. For example, how an individual tank might operate with another identical tank or with an infantry squad. Thus, whether or not it has a radio to enable better communication with other units is actually not considered, but the presence of an internal intercom system is considered. Thus, a tank with an internal intercom system would function better as a stand alone weapon system compared to one without, even with identical crews.

 

All the factors not included (above) in calculating the weapon system OCPC are included in the supporting organisation’s ROCP. The organisation’s ROCP (down to squad or weapon system crew level) is completely separate to all weapon system OCPCs, and is mathematically treated as ‘separate’ in the methodology. Therefore, all items like: weapon crew training, tactical doctrine, unit cohesion (including whether or not radios are present to enable weapon systems to communicate with each other) and combat experience go into a unit’s ROCP. ROCP is further separated into  tactical level, operational level and strategic level. Thus, the factors mentioned are usually included in the unit’s tactical level ROCP. At the operational level, factors like Supply Distribution Efficiency (SDE) to individual units (units being companies to divisions), command and control factors (including how many radios, and where are they in the organisation), and staff support and training, are included.

As you mentioned, the ROCPs will be examined in Volume V. In this volume I am planning to include ROCP calculations for 1941 on the East Front (the main body of work), as well as examples from 1942 to 1945, and a few comparing the German Army to the Western Allies in a few selected battles. To calculate the historical ROCP, factors like: tactical level casualties, operational losses, weapon effects (with their respective OCPCs), SDE, terrain, weather, and offensive and defensive posture in the battle or campaign, are included.

 

Finally, I would say that, at present, there are still a number  of significant qualitative (judgmental) sub-factors built into the overall ROCP methodology, but, mathematically, they do not change the overall ROCP results by a wide margin.

 

 

Scott Cole:  Do you plan to release electronic copies (of whatever format) or access to an online database of this work in the future?  

 

Nigel Askey:    Yes. Ultimately I am planning to release everything in electronic format. This will probably occur after Volume IV. I had released some of the early work in PDF format, but soon found a lot of pirate copies out there. No one was buying them. It seems that even with so called ‘copying security’, it is actually quite easy to strip any copy ‘protection’ from all types of PDF files.

I am also having EPUB investigated, but there are also problems in this area. Volume IIA and IIB (all the German stuff) contain literally hundreds of tables (there are only a few in Volume I). Some of these tables are very large; extending over double pages and some even 4 pages. There are also a great many headings (5 levels of headings) and other diagrams. So far, attempts to generate an ‘automatic’ EPUB file have not met with success: the tables are usually ‘scrambled’ or barely legible, and the headings are all over the place (EPUB has great difficulty translating any sort of heading levels). EPUB is great for simple text and straightforward books, but really struggles with complex reference or complex academic style textbooks (these are usually released in PDF format).

PDF format is great and the document appears as it prints. I have also recently been advised by other authors (who are in communication with me) that their books, which have been published in EPUB format, are being copied and sold by pirate sites in electronic format (or simply given away). It seems that authors who sell a great many books generally simply live with the fact that a large proportion of their books are pirate copies, for which they get no benefit except from a possible marketing point of view (i.e. for these authors, any publicity is good publicity).

I have also investigated Apple’s ibooks. But the ‘iBook’s author’ does not allow any footnotes! This is a major problem in a work like mine as I would have to enter every footnote manually at the end of the book, and there are thousands of references. At the moment I would rather focus on getting Volume IIIB (the second Soviet volume) and Volume IV (the Axis Allied volume) out there. I am not sure how I will proceed, but after Volume IIIB and IV are released, I will review and see if electronic publishing is more of an option. Eventually, I will have to release it all electronically, one way or the other.

 

 

SC:    One means to avoid pirating may be a strategy of paid access or subscription to an online database, especially for the tables. Eventually, the content would be copied but the hope would be to lessen the pirating effect.

 

NA:     Yes, this type of thing is an option. A while back I had a good look at the File Secure Pro Digital Rights Management (DRM) system and might still pursue something in this area. However, I am not sure people would be inclined to load any sort of ‘special reader’ onto their PCs, in addition to all the other stuff on their PC these days. Also, book sales are now running into the thousands, and managing this number of growing ‘clients’ could become very expensive. Even a strong fan of the project might be put off by having to do all this to effectively get a copy of a ‘book’, and I don’t know if it is fair to ask readers for this level of commitment. There are also other and possibly better systems, and this type of solution is still definitely a possibility.

 

 

SC:    I’ve been a fan of the Campaign Series from the original East Front game. Please give an example on how your work with CS’s unit combat attributes and  armor factor calculations has influenced your current work.

 

NA:     In the early days, I was most interested in the conflict at the tactical level, and spent much time looking at why the German Army achieved such overwhelming tactical success during WWII. I knew this was largely due to things like training and doctrine, but wondered if this extended to their weapon designs as well. At the same time, I disagreed with many of the ‘attack’ and ‘defence’ strengths used in many wargames published in the 1970s and 1980s (games like Panzer Leader and Panzer Blitz). With the attributes published, it was almost impossible to achieve the historic kill-loss ratios historically achieved at the tactical level (even if they ambushed their opponents, and had all the surprise and doctrine factors, etc, in their favour).

I complained about this on various early forums, giving examples of weapon attribute corrections which could explain the differences, and was approached by Bob McNamara at Talonsoft. This meant I had to put my money where my mouth was, so to speak, and produce a more formal methodology to calculate weapon parameters, with a special emphasis on the benefits of the sloped armour. Some years later I took this early methodology as a starting point for the methodology detailed in Volume I Part II. Since then, a considerable amount of additional work has been done to enhance and complete the methodology. This is because I believe it is essential in any military simulation to have an accurate ‘weapon database’ as the foundation. If a military simulation does not base its unit strengths (i.e. its companies. battalions, regiments and divisions) on the actual individual weapons, personnel and support structures, historically present, then it can never achieve the higher levels of realism.

Games like TOAW, and Gary Grigsby’s War in the East and War in the West do this (each with an individual unit tables of organization and equipment (TOEs), and each weapon having all its attributes separately simulated) so they have the potential to attain these higher level of realism. Unfortunately, the John Tiller Operational Level games do not have a true weapon database, and base their unit strengths on overall numbers and rather fudgy judgemental factors. This, to me, is one of the biggest weaknesses in the John Tiller Panzer Campaigns series (1 km per hex) and WWII in Europe series (10 km per hex). They are still excellent and playable games, and have the feel of realism in many respects, but the way company, battalion and regimental strengths are calculated is abstracted, as well as the way these strengths change over time and after combat. This is why I have gone to so much trouble to realistically build a database for all the Soviet and German weapon systems fielded during Operation Barbarossa (detailed in Volume IIA and Volume IIIA).

 

 

SC: What is your research plan when you travel to Russia?  How will you get around the language issue when researching in the archives?  

 

NA:    The trip to Russia is part holiday and part work. I first went to Russia way back in 1986 when it was still part of the USSR. On this trip I will also be spending a bit of time in Sweden and Finland. Most of the archival material I have obtained from Russia is available to the public (or at least it was in the 1990s and early 2000s). The Russians have since closed off public access to some of the archives (especially NKVD related), but still a huge amount of material was released during this time. In addition, a lot of original Russian material has been published. Although most of this is in Russian, a lot has also been published (translated) into English; especially journal type publications. All the Russian language material I have used has had to be translated into English, but usually very early in the translation it quickly becomes apparent if a document is of any use to me at all (most are not). I will not be spending time in the Russian archives myself; but I will be briefing the contacts and friends I have used in the past, who have been contracted to research some material.

 

 

SC:    Will you be able to visit some of the battlefield sites during your trip?

 

NA:    Possibly some of the sites near Saint Petersburg (Leningrad).

 

 

SC:    Besides World War II military history are there other historical periods that hold your interest to this level (or close to this level)?

 

NA:    Not quite at the same level. For reasons I am not sure of myself, I am particularly interested in the American Civil War. Perhaps because it was, in many ways, the first of what I think of as the more modern wars? It was also particularly vicious in many respects with a major clash of ideologies (similar to Barbarossa in this way) and not just two rulers (or imperial powers) having a disagreement over territory. I also am interested in the Napoleonic era, possibly because many of the battles fought by Napoleon were such close-run affairs.

 

 

SC:    The introduction to Volume I lists one of your key rationales: “demonstrate the application of quantitative analysis and potential power of military simulations for military history using the largest land campaign in history”. Were there other campaigns or wars you were considering for a similar type project or was it always destined to be Operation Barbarossa?

 

NA:    I have always been most fascinated by WWII. Also, Operation Barbarossa was always the big one, because it was the true ‘turning point’ of WWII. In early June 1941, Germany had conquered most of Europe, Britain was essentially holding on, and the USA was still far from joining the war. Yet, barely more than 5 months later Germany was fighting the whole British Empire, was at war with the USA, and had not inflicted fatal damage on the USSR which had just started its winter offensive. By December 1941, Germany was now at war, on multiple fronts, with the largest empire in the world, the largest and most powerful economy in the world, and the largest country in the world with by far the world’s largest army. Essentially, Germany’s chances of winning WWII had gone from probable to almost impossible in the space of a few months. Aside from the historical importance of finding out if it was still possible for Germany to have ‘won the war’ after it invaded the USSR, I felt if I could do Barbarossa, then any military campaign could be done with the same methodology.

 

 

SC:    For gamers that enjoy games based on the Eastern Front and would like to explore the history do you have a list of the top five essential books (in English) or authors?

 

NA:    There are so many! However, I would recommend:

Germany and the Second World War, Volume IV: The Attack on the Soviet Union, Boog, H., et al. (German Research Institute for Military History at Potsdam), Oxford University Press, New York, 1996. (Most detailed account, from the German perspective. Generally, get for the excellent data presented).

Glantz, D. M., Barbarossa, Hitler’s Invasion of Russia 1941, Tempus Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2001. (Good overview, and some good hard facts, but personally don’t agree with many of the author’s conclusions).

Stolfi, R.H.S., Hitler’s Panzers East, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman and London, 1991. (Good account of what the Germans should have done differently. Rather controversial and debatable, but a lot of his data is hard to ‘knock over’ and does actually stand up to close scrutiny).

Glantz, D.M., Stumbling Colossus, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 1998. (Excellent work, and possibly Glantz’s best work. Really explains why the Germans were able to achieve what they did, and why the USSR came perilously close to defeat, and far closer than many realise. Note, only covers the immediate pre-Barbarossa period, but is essential to anyone who wants to really understand what was wrong with the Red Army and VVS (ed. Soviet Military Air Force) in June 1941.

Kirchubel, R., Operation Barbarossa; the German Invasion of Soviet Russia, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford, 2013. (Very good overview of the campaign, with great maps and illustrations).

 

 

SC:    Selfish question as I’m working a Romanian Army project. I’d list my top five books (in English) for those interested in learning more about the Romanian Army in World War II as the following:

 

 1.    Third Axis, Fourth Ally. Mark Axworthy

2.     Reluctant Axis: Romanian Army in Russia 1941-1944. Mihae Tone Filipescu

3:    Three Kings: Axis Royal Armies on the Russian Front 1941.    Patrick Cloutier

3:    Three Kings: Axis Royal Armies on the Russian Front 1942.    Patrick Cloutier

4:    Rumanian Air Force. The Prime Decade, 1938-1947.    Denes Bernad

5:    Balkan Battles.     Ronald Tarnstrom

 

Am I missing any English reference that will help you when it comes time to draft Volume IV or will a trip to the Romanian archives be in order?

 

 

NA:    Not really much to add to your list; you already have a formidable collection there, and a couple I haven’t got. I would also recommend:

 

Rumanian Order of Battle World War II: An Organisational History of the Rumanian Army in WWII. George F. Nafziger, Copyright 1995. This was privately published by George Nafziger, Pisgah, Ohio, 1995, ISBN 1-58454-019-7.

 

Rumanian Aces of WWII, Denes Bernad, Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 54, is good and has some useful info on the Rumanian Air force and aircraft, Also just a good read.

 

The only other book I have which you may already have is: The Romanian Army of WWII, Mark Axworthy, Osprey Publications, Men-at Arms series. This small book has a few bits and pieces which might be useful. 

 

SC:    Taking the list of Romanian references above and the relative paucity of material compared to the Germans and Russians do you envision a change in your research strategy when it comes to the minor Axis Allies and Vol. IV?

 

NA:    Yes, the paucity of material on the some of the Axis forces is a real problem, the Romanians being one of the bad ones. Nevertheless, I am still aiming at applying a very similar level of detail to the Axis Allied forces as applied to the German and Soviet forces. Fortunately, for me, I will be focusing on the forces fielded in 1941, and not the complex forces fielded by these nations from 1942 onwards.

 

There will, however be one major difference overall. For the Rumanian, Hungarian, Slovakian and Italian forces committed to the East Front during Operation Barbarossa, I will be applying what is termed the PILARM (Partially Integrated Land and Air Resource Model) model. For the Germans, Soviets and Finns, a FILARM (Fully Integrated Land and Air Resource Model) is used. The FILARM and PILARM model structures are detailed in Volume I. In the FILARM model, all the resources (personnel, weapons, trucks, horses, etc,) in existence at the campaign start, all resources produced by the entire economy over the period considered, and all resources that went into the entire armed force across the whole country or empire, are factored in. In the much less comprehensive PILARM model, only the armed forces committed to directly support Operation Barbarossa are considered, and only the resources sent to the East Front during the campaign are considered. This includes reinforcing units, and personnel and equipment replacements, sent to the East Front during the campaign.

 

The criterion for selecting a FILARM or PILARM model is whether or not the majority of a nation’s armed forces were committed to supporting Operation Barbarossa at some point during 1941. Thus, for example, the large Hungarian forces that remained in Hungary during 1941, and the resources these consumed, are not included. A large portion of this force was later sent to the East Front as the Hungarian 2nd Army, but during 1941 there was only a relatively small expeditionary force sent into the USSR.

 

 

SC:    Looking to the far future (after Volume VI and the game release) are you entertaining a follow on project or tackling a different subject?

 

NA:     If I ever complete the Barbarossa Project, the next campaign I will consider doing to the same level is the WWII campaign in North Africa. I would focus on the period from Rommel’s entry in February 1941 to the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942. The battles during this period are particularly fascinating, as well as all the logistical, intelligence and operational issues facing the belligerents. There are also a great many ‘myths’ floating around in regards to this campaign. Perhaps, most importantly, because of my interest I have already collected lots of bits and pieces of research which would be applicable :).

 

SC: Your work immediately reminded me of the early issues of Strategy and Tactics Magazine, especially when you mention the North African Campaign as S&T Issue 23, the U.S.S.R. Issue also included Part 3 of Albert Nofi’s Campaign Analysis for North Africa. The North African article had quite a few tables with quantitative data (e.g. comparison of weapons caliber, range, weight, shell weight and rounds per minute and even a chart on the German forces order of battle and strength fluctuation) while the main article on the Red Army’s organization concentrated on comparing Soviet and German divisions in terms of the resources in men and equipment available and an attempt at the end to explain the combat and movement factors of their game counters..

 

Were these early 1970’s issues an influence?  

 

NA:    Yes, I would say they definitely had an influence. I particularly admired Albert Nofi’s attempts at objectivity in this area, and he has also produced some really good books. I was also influenced in the early days by some good essays from the original Command Magazine (a subscribed magazine service). Authors like Dirk Blennemann, Chris Perello and John Desch produced some good articles on why certain command decisions were made, and often compared the forces involved. Some of these included maps, basic organisational charts and some good OOB (Order of Battle) info.

 

SC: On the Operationbarbarossa.net blog I ran across the 2.5 kilometre per hex  map being produced for this project. Is a grand campaign game using the full map (i.e. Army Groups North, Center, and South simultaneously) à la Flames of War part of your vision for the game?

 

NA: Yes, it is envisaged to be the map for a full Operation Barbarossa  Grand Campaign Scenario. It will encompass Army Groups North, Centre and South simultaneously. It is being constructed by Jack Bechtold in the US using the 1:250,000 scale topographic maps located at Texas University. The maps were compiled from German and Allied sources dating between 1930 and 1946 by the Army Map Service in the mid-1950s. The map sections were pieced together using Jasc Paintshop Pro 8 and Corel Paint Shop Pro 6X. The hex grid was applied using Opart Design and Debug 4.0 by Curt Chambers.

The map is still a work in progress and uses the new Matrix Games TOAW IV Beta version. TOAW IV is scheduled to be released later this year.  TOAW IV will have a much larger database capacity compared to TOAW III, and will  have a much larger map capability at the top end. In addition, the database weapon attributes are now editable (and new weapons can be added), so the ‘correct’ values can be used for the weapon database as detailed in Volumes IIA and IIIA. Despite the new power of the latest TOAW IV simulation software, the huge amount of data published in Volumes I to IV, will still stretch the software to its limit.

 

SC:    Nigel, thank you.  I’m excited about your project and hope to talk to you again as future volumes are released.

 

* The average German ground force’s total supply demand from 22nd June to 31st December was 64% over the average Soviet ground force’s total supply demand while the average German ground force’s total supply lift during the same period was 198% greater than the Soviets.

2 Comments
  • castaliahouse says:

    We so have to publish these in hardcover.

  • Miguel says:

    Great interview. I have all the Nigel Askey Barbarossa books published so far and can say that I have never seen a work of that magnitude and scope (and I have thousands of WW2 related books)! Really amazing work!

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