One thing that the 1942 Second Edition succeeds at big time where other A&A maps fail is that Russia starts with plenty of artillery, tanks, and even a pair of fighters. You can afford to build a third fighter every game if you want, so you’re not going to be stuck endlessly defending and retreating; you can and should and must make repeated counter-attacks if you want to play Russia well on this map. If people dislike playing Russia because they think you’re supposed to just lie back and accept casualties, then have them read Black_Elk’s strategy guide, or show them how it’s done properly, and they might change their minds.
That said, I’ve always been annoyed at the way Russia has no navy. Right now Russia’s only naval unit is a sub in the White Sea. Instead of that sub, I’d be tempted to give Russia a transport, a destroyer, and a cruiser in the White Sea – that fleet could eventually be used to ferry troops from Archangel to Norway, or if the Allies gain control of the Baltic Sea, the Russian fleet could circle around to the south, wind up in the Baltic Sea, and do crazy stuff like ferry troops from Karelia to Northwest Europe. I’d also give Russia a pair of subs off the northern coast of the Soviet Far East, so that Japan has to watch where it leaves its transports.
These naval “bids” are obviously far from optimal – if someone gave you extra cash, you wouldn’t choose to spend it on a Russian navy – but for me, that’s part of what makes the variant fun!