With a major Soviet-Warsaw Pact attack expected to come in the north within hours, CENTAG started D+6 unsure about what the day would bring. The 1st Guards Tank Army’s first echelon units in the Main Battle Area (MBA) were almost ready to take over where 8th Guards Army had left off. Air attacks against the second echelon units continued. As these Soviet units moved closer to the front, artillery and attack helicopters would join the battlefield air interdiction (BAI) later in the day.
CINC-CENTAG was not entirely satisfied with the dispositions of his forces. In the pre-dawn hours, the enemy’s intentions remained unclear. If 1st GTA’s axis of advance materialized in the V Corps area, he was concerned the divisions there might be positioned too far forward for the circumstances. The plan was to augment the 8th ID, and 3rd AD with REFORGER units as they arrived. Unfortunately, the 4th ID was not yet completely Reforged, and wouldn’t be ready for commitment until early the next day. V Corps had fought the 8th GA to a bloody standstill without yielding an unacceptable amount of ground, and it had done so without taking heavy casualties. Quite the opposite, actually. Nevertheless, CINC-CENTAG wanted to get the 4th ID moved into V Corps MBA as rapidly as possible.
The commander of the 1st GTA, Lieutenant General Anatoli Tchernitsov had not decided on where his army’s main advance would be. After consulting with General Snetkov, he took his superior’s suggestion and opted to wait for the situation up north to play out before making a decision. If the 20th GA’s attack showed success early on, Tchernitsov planned to move 1st GTA through the Fulda Gap and towards Frankfurt. In the process, he hoped to draw away as many NATO reinforcements from the north as possible. If the attack bogged down, 1st GTA would move northwest towards Kassel and beyond instead, to threaten the Hannover and the Weser from another direction.
As the drama in the north commenced that morning, Tchernitsov ordered the East German motor-rifle division nominally placed under his command to start a feint into III West German Corps area. As fate would have it, the West Germans were of a similar mind. Before the East German division even reached its line of departure the West Germans launched a brigade-sized counterattack against its flank, producing a series of sharp engagements that lasted into the early afternoon when both sides withdrew entirely to lick their wounds, and resupply.
Tchernitsov continued to monitor what was happening up north as his divisions waited for orders. NATO air attacks increased in strength as the day went on, owing to the lack of aircover in his sector. With most Soviet and WP fighters and ground attack aircraft committed to protecting 20th GA and 3rd SA, there was little he could do but hope the mobile air defense forces accompanying his divisions could minimize the damage inflicted.
Shortly after 2100 CINC-CENTAG was advised by SACEUR that a Soviet breakthrough against I NL Corps appeared probable within the next nine hours.
An hour later, General Snetkov informed Tchernistov of the same thing and formally ordered 1st GTA to begin its advance through the Fulda Gap and on to Frankfurt at first light the next day.
2 Replies to “The Central Front D+6 (15 July, 1987) Part VI”
Any chance of adding maps to these posts?
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m actually working with the MGRS Mapper to try and produce some situation maps. I’m slowly beginning to get the hang of it so hopefully soon I’ll be able to add some maps.