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Kirov Reviews



A continuing Interview with John Schettler - Author Of the Kirov series novels.

So Here we go with the Season 3 Finale, right where Steel Reign left us at the end.

Time for Takami and Kirov to throw down and get serious. This is a battle that I think series readers have anticipated from the first moment Captain Harada and his ship arrived. It will take a full six chapters to resolve here.

How do you determine the result of these battles?

A number of ways. I’ve been a wargame designer for decades, so I know something of how to simulate the action I want to describe. In this case, I also used a very good combat simulator, Command Modern Naval/Air Operations. It was easy enough to set up this scenario, though I had to tweak the weapons loadouts on the ships, and find a way to build the Japanese surface units. I also read up in naval forums, and other sources to educate myself as much as I can about the capabilities of the ships and weapons involved. That said, my story also has its own gravity, but I try to present an outcome here that I think rings true.

Do you do the same for all the other battles?

Yes, almost evryr naval or land battle gets some time in one simulation or another. I’ve used the Admiral’s edition of War in the Pacific to run carrier duels, and I’ve designed every one of the land battles in The Operational Art of War, all at about 5 Kilometers per hex. I run these simulations, and also use my own judgment to reach a result I feel is sound and realistic. It isn’t just me sitting at my desk saying, ‘let’s see, I’ll have the Americans stop the Japanese on Fiji this time.’ There’s a method to my madness.

I buy it. The results all seem very plausible to me. Was Japan over reaching in Operation FS?

Possibly, but given that they had no disaster at Midway, I believe they had the resources to go for Fiji and Samoa. This time, however, they have Vladimir Karpov up north attacking Sakhaliln. That forces Yamamoto to leave at least two fleet carriers there in the north. That is actually a waste, as Kirov is more than capable of handing a pair of WWI era carriers, but Yamamoto doesn’t know that. He’s also counting on his unexpected visitors aboard Takami to balance the scales.

What if those carriers had joined Operation FS?

Then I think the Japanese do much better, and the US would not have been able to mount such a strong challenge. Add Kaga and Tosa to what they already had, and Halsey and Fletcher face really steep odds. I may have prevented the safe arrival of the 1st USMC Division, and without it, I think Fiji falls. And if Yamamoto had taken Fukada’s advice and deployed Takami south in that operation, then I think Fiji falls as well.

Does that battle continue in Second Front?

No, I have to go West young man, and present the opening of the Allied Second Front there. But this next one will give you your Pacific fix in those first six chapters. After that, its off to the Norwegian Sea for PQ-17, and then to Operation Torch.

The outcome of PQ-17 has a real impact here.

It does. Historically, the losses were so heavy that the British shut down those convoys for the remainder of 1942. In my history, this battle takes place in the summer, and the Germans have a much stronger naval force, and a big base near Trondheim at Nordstern.

Is Nordstern something you devised on your own?

No, that was a real plan the Germans had. It was never successfully carried out, but here I assume that they go through with it and built that base.

Can Sergei Kirov survive if those convoys don’t get through?

He’s very hard pressed, though I haven’t shown the East front action yet. That’s coming, Manstein’s drive to the Volga. I’ll be releasing the East Front Battle Book soon, and with some of that new material added. But as the Murmansk Run is the only major supply route, this battle for PQ-17 becomes very important.

Then comes the main event for Second Front.

Operation Torch. It evolved from Operation Gymnast, but here it is much different due to the changes in the history.

They Can’t land at Oran and Algies.

Correct. The Straits of Gibraltar are closed, but the British persuade Portugal to let them land at Lisbon, and Patton comes ashore at Casablanca much stronger. Operation Torch becomes a two pronged attack, with both Allied operations aimed at Gibraltar. The Brits insist on that, in spite of the American preference for their Operation Sledgehammer in Brittany.

Could that have succeeded?

Probably not as it was originally conceived, a 5 Brigade attack. Look what happened at Dieppe, though that was partly meant to show the US just how difficult such an attack would be. Churchill has long favored a Mediterranean strategy, and he has another big reason to want Gibraltar back--St Michael’s Cave.

He’s been told about that?

Of course. He’s even been told about the Keys Fairchild has been collecting, though I haven’t presented that scene in prose. But Churchill is aware of that, and worried that the Germans might discover the secret of that cave.

Will we discover it soon?

If the Allies take back Gibraltar. That is no small order, and the action dead ahead is very complex. Germany has the stability and viability of Vichy France to worry about, and all French North Africa is now under the Allied guns. The original Torch plan knocked the French right out of the war in 7 days time. That is all in play here, not to mention that the entire German Operation Condor is now completely cut off if Patton takes Casablanca. Any Allied naval base there neutralizes Gibraltar and Admiral Raeder had a real nightmare on his hands. His whole strategy is now under direct assault.

Torch was in November of 1942. Do we get that far into the year here?

In my history, the Allies launch Torch on September 15, and this volume concludes around Sept 30. I had thought I might finish off 1942 in this season, but it will spill over into the beginning of Season 4. As readers will see, this Second Front was well considered, and aims to achieve several important things. That is the action ahead in Season 4. The Allies want to knock France and Italy out of the war, and that can’t happen unless they can control the North African coast, and re-enter the Med. The invasion through Lisbon is also intended to eliminate Spain as a collaborating power. If the Germans really see the threat this all poses, they will simply have to get serious in the West and move in much more ground based power than they have there now, and more Luftwaffe assets as well.

How does that affect their operations in Russia?

That remains to be seen, but remember, the Soviets are not as strong now as they were in the old history. And then, at the end of this novel, Fedorov thinks he sees another paradox looming. Without getting into that so I won’t spoil things for readers, the possible solutions he hammers out with Karpov are rather earth shaking.

I’m told Kamenski and Gromyko are back. What’s up with them?

Yes, they both vanished in Paradox Hour, and I kept them in my pocket ever since. They make a return in a three part segment than ends this novel, and Kamenski has a mission for Kazan and Gromyko. That’s setting up some action for next season, as the war rolls on, assuming this world survives the threat Fedorov perceives.

Let’s hope it does!


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