After the initial successes of Operation Barbarossa, at the end of September 1941 Hitler turned his focus to Moscow, with the unshakable belief that capturing the capital would knock the Soviets out of the war. On the face of it, it was an unequal struggle; Field Marshall Fedor von Bock had at his command disposal 1 million men, 1,700 tanks, 19,500 artillery guns and 950 combat aircraft â€“ 50% of all the German men in Russia, 75% of all the tanks and 33% of all the planes. To defend Moscow, the Russians had under 500,000 men, fewer than 900 tanks and just over 300 combat planes.
But the picture was in fact a great deal more complex; the Germans had suffered very significant losses since the invasion of Russia had begun, and had issues with logistics and air support. The Soviets, under the command of General Zhukov, were beginning to be better supplied with reinforcements, and were prepared to defend to the death.
Nevertheless Moscow was in a perilous situation. This volume in the Casemate Illustrated series concentrates on the main German assault of October 1941. Guderian's panzer divisions at first made sweeping gains as they had done so many times before and large parts of the Red Army were encircled at Vyazma and Bryansk. These successes in fact allowed the Soviets time to regroup as the encircled armies did not surrender and had to be dealt with. Then three engagements followed at Mtsensk, Maloyaroslavets and the Mojaisk defense line that proved that the war in the East was not entering its final days as German high command believed.
Illustrated with over 150 photographs, plus profile drawings of tanks, vehicles and aircraft, it gives a vivid impression of the situation for both protagonists, and a detailed analysis of the critical days as the fate of Moscow and perhaps the whole war hung in the balance.