How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Lord Revan » 2016-12-15 07:05am

Zinegata wrote:
Lord Revan wrote:From what I've read something that certainly didn't help the germans logistically was there wasn't that much interchangebility between the different tank designs so if a Panther broke down you needed spare parts meant for a panther and only a panther and if you didn't get those in time your only option was the abandon the hardware as spare parts for Panzer IV or a Tiger wouldn't work in a panther (or the other way around).


That was an issue but parts commonality within tanks of the same model was already chancy to begin with. Salvaging a component from a broken Tiger I didn't necessarily mean that the same component could be used on another Tiger in the same battalion - because each tank tended to be individually machined into existence. Oftentimes the component has to be machined to fit its new machine in the repair shop. American tanks by contrast - often derided by the Germans and their fanboys as crude "mass production" models - actually had higher QA standards to allow for parts commonality.

Oh, and it's worth remembering that Tiger and most German tanks basically had no real supply of spare parts to begin with. Overy claims that there was one spare engine for every ten Tigers by 1944, which was the result of Speer stupidly deciding to increase "tank production" at all costs as part of his "miracle". Basically Speer decided that the best way to make himself look like an economic genius was to tell the Panzer factories to convert all spare parts into working tanks; regardless of how much the spare parts were actually needed at the front to keep the tanks running. Predictably the availability of Panzers at the front nose-dived despite all the shiny new tanks delivered because the engineers at the repair shop basically had to fix each individual tank one by one instead of just replacing any broken component with a spare.

This is a reason why the logistical tail of a Tiger battalion was so huge compared to a Sherman battalion. A Tiger battalion of 45 Tiger tanks was supported by a train of 130 trucks and assorted repair vehicles (including three entire gantry cranes). Each Tiger was allotted about a squad of engineers just to keep it running. The US Sherman battalion of sixty tanks by contrast only had an organic supply train of 30 trucks - mostly carrying spares that could easily be swapped in and out of damaged or broken down tanks.

That said the big issue with repair and recovery for the Tigers and Panthers was their sheer weight and lack of proper recovery vehicles to support such tanks. Basically you needed to dispatch two recovery vehicles to drag a broken (45 ton) Panther to the repair shop, when one would have sufficed for a (under 30 ton) Mark IV. Some specialized recovery vehicles for the Panther and Tiger were developed, but they were built in very small numbers (thanks to Speer deciding to up tank "production" at the expense of everything else needed to support the said tanks) and were not terribly reliable to begin with.
yeah basically the germans shot themselves in the foot logically speaking and instead of trying to fix that issue desided to take another shot incase that first one didn't quite hit. From what I've read calling the german logistics situation in 1944-1945 a cluster fuck would be insulting to clusters and fucking.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-15 02:33pm

Zinegata wrote:That was an issue but parts commonality within tanks of the same model was already chancy to begin with. Salvaging a component from a broken Tiger I didn't necessarily mean that the same component could be used on another Tiger in the same battalion - because each tank tended to be individually machined into existence. Oftentimes the component has to be machined to fit its new machine in the repair shop. American tanks by contrast - often derided by the Germans and their fanboys as crude "mass production" models - actually had higher QA standards to allow for parts commonality.


British stuff was probably worse then German on interchangeable parts though. The early Tigers and Panthers had a big problem with that but it toned down as time went on. The Panzer IV was IIRC basically worst at this because almost every lettered reversion had major differences introduced largely in an ironic attempt to increase production rates. But any given model of Panzer IV already had as many produced as all Tiger production, so in the field you had a much better chance of finding the part you needed.

Also the allies had spare parts shortages like mad. The Army Green books series comes back to this endlessly. The trick is the US had command of the air and a huge fleet of transport planes, so if an item was suddenly in short supply as long as you could find it somewhere in the North West European Theater or sometimes even US Eastern seaboard (some 3in HVAP ammo was airlifted cross Atlantic) you could have it in 24 hours or less.

Germany...horses.


Oh, and it's worth remembering that Tiger and most German tanks basically had no real supply of spare parts to begin with. Overy claims that there was one spare engine for every ten Tigers by 1944, which was the result of Speer stupidly deciding to increase "tank production" at all costs as part of his "miracle". Basically Speer decided that the best way to make himself look like an economic genius was to tell the Panzer factories to convert all spare parts into working tanks; regardless of how much the spare parts were actually needed at the front to keep the tanks running.


Give him less credit! The reality is Speer really didn't do much at all to boost production for Germany at all, though he was pretty good at solving specific sudden problems. The reality is most of the boost came from factories ordered in 1940-1942 before he was even in power suddenly becoming operational after he was. The lack of spare engines had been a problem the entire war, Hitler always insisted on fielding more vehicles. This is a major factor behind the 1941 disaster in Russia, as near 100% of German tank engines were worn out before the final push on Moscow even began. The supply replacement rate was indeed about 1:10 at that time, Nov 1941, I'm not sure it was ever better for anything!

Even today tank engines don't last long, but the reality of tank engines have a mean time between overhauls as low as 500km and seldom over twice that really just goes over most peoples heads. You can't just keep driving around all the time fighting constantly.

German steel production did not rise after around 1940 IIRC, which put something of a hard cap on how many anything could be made. Tank and AFV production rose, but it came at the cost of artillery and ammunition. German batteries could NEVER win fire superiority over the Allies after the 1942 era, which really made any large scale battle hopeless. WW2 was as much an artillery war as WW1, it's just the fighting didn't bog down as much. When fights did happen artillery killed an even higher percentage of troops then in WW1 trench battles. It's just machine guns killed a lot less.


Predictably the availability of Panzers at the front nose-dived despite all the shiny new tanks delivered because the engineers at the repair shop basically had to fix each individual tank one by one instead of just replacing any broken component with a spare.


For bonus they'd issue tanks to units to start training with before they had any mechanics, so the tanks would start getting abused and broken with no maintenance. Lucky for Germany fuel shortages kepty them from doing too much training!


This is a reason why the logistical tail of a Tiger battalion was so huge compared to a Sherman battalion. A Tiger battalion of 45 Tiger tanks was supported by a train of 130 trucks and assorted repair vehicles (including three entire gantry cranes). Each Tiger was allotted about a squad of engineers just to keep it running. The US Sherman battalion of sixty tanks by contrast only had an organic supply train of 30 trucks - mostly carrying spares that could easily be swapped in and out of damaged or broken down tanks.


Sherman battalion had 74 tanks, four companies of 17 plus the HQ tank troop and the armored gun platoon, which would have three 75mm or 105mm assault tanks.

I don't think this comparison is fair though, but itcan also be used to illustrate the vast gulf between armies. US tank battalion has just the most basic supporting units and light repair platoon it needs in ordered to be road mobile as a battalion. It doesn't operate in combat past it's basic load without external support for supplies and access to the divisional maintenance battalion with it's medium repair company. That company can fix anything but heavy structural damage, the later just takes too long and is a job for a heavy repair battalion which also can completely rebuild engines and transmissions.

Various US army independent tank battalions were setup the exact same way. But the US Army also has a tremendous supply of whole brigades and countless battalions of extra maintenance and logistical support units. All of this was 100% motorized, with relatively uniform wheeled vehicles too. Germany had 400 kinds of trucks...

For win 1 heavy repair company was the only US Army unit with 8th Army at El Alamein. It fixed lots and lots of blown up Shermans.

The Independent Tiger battalion though, meant what it said. It was meant to be able to support itself off an existing forward supply base or railhead, and not become a parasite on existing unit's combat service support. In that respect the vehicles count, if a battalion ever had it, was at least a realistic appraisal of the vehicle's needs. By making all support organic the unit was much stronger in realistic terms, because nobody could order it's trucks to go haul rations for an infantry division. This is probably the only reason Germany could get the Tiger into action at all.

The ultra thin supporting margins actually made organic to American ground combat units did prove to be a weakness, as did the lack of integral anti tank battalions and AA units, and might have mattered had more American-German fighting taken place in 1942, but after that shear spammage and an American army talent to organize the chaos it's super specialist TO&E ensured it didn't actually mean anything. This was largely the work of General McNair, who was later killed by American carpet bombing in Operation Cobra. He had fairly good reasons for what he did though. Modern US Army is making some of the same mistakes over again for the same reason, trying to squeeze more actual firepower out of a limited manpower pool.


That said the big issue with repair and recovery for the Tigers and Panthers was their sheer weight and lack of proper recovery vehicles to support such tanks. Basically you needed to dispatch two recovery vehicles to drag a broken (45 ton) Panther to the repair shop, when one would have sufficed for a (under 30 ton) Mark IV. Some specialized recovery vehicles for the Panther and Tiger were developed, but they were built in very small numbers (thanks to Speer deciding to up tank "production" at the expense of everything else needed to support the said tanks) and were not terribly reliable to begin with.


Yeah using them as recovery vehicles just made them breakdown. Also they had shitty winches and to recover heavy tanks you need the damn winch option to be an option. This was not understood too well in WW2, new life experience and all that. Just trying to yank a vehicle out may be impossible and a good way to break your stuff.

The big halftracks in triple could recover a Tiger. Tiger battalion had 10 of those halftracks, so you could pull 3 max Tigers at once. That's amazingly wasteful on vehicles, but a halftrack was much simpler to produce then a fully tracked vehicle. Too bad they also needed those to haul artillery.

US Army tank battalion had 3 recovery vehicles for 74 heavy vehicles, this was not really ideal either, but the American unit would be fairly certain it had them! In the modern day we've found the true need for ARVs is about 1-2 per 14 tank company, plus several more with the battalion HQ and services. So that can turn into a whole pile of them real quick, nobody had anything like this in WW2.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-15 03:40pm

Zinegata wrote:The British study into the Normandy engagements (which I believe was brought to light by Buckley) basically concluded that the Germans scored no more than a 1.5-1 kill rate, and indeed they tended to lose if the British were able to get that level of superiority in the first place.


I've heard of it, but I'm also a bit skeptical of any British military study I've not examined in text. They after all managed to produce a multi year full scale trials study to prove the .303 was the ideal caliber for air fighting. This is why British bombers were so FUBAR on defensive armament the entire war.

It wouldn't surprise me though if the exchange rate was not much past 1:1 though in a lot of those engagements though because of how damn outnumbered German tanks would be and the fact that even if a Tiger did appear real life is not a nerfed video game and you can worse case, spam them with smoke while retreating. The real problem was the Nazi mine + infantry defense being 15-20km deep.

That assumes the Panthers were working to begin with, which on most days didn't seem to be the case. Half of the Panthers the US Army recovered had broken final drives, and research done by for the GMT game Operation Dauntless (covering Fortenay/Rauray) using a variety of French, US, and German sources shows that their return rate from damage/repair was half that of the Panzer IVs.


The final drive was hopeless, the other mechanical problems were largely solved by WW2 tank standards. For production simplicity the Panther used straight tooth spur gears. This might have had a chance on the 24 tonne tank the Panther design originally was, it was doomed on a 45 tonne tank. The Tiger IIRC had planetary gears which work rather well for this.

You could get about 150km out of the final drive and then it was probably dead. On the defensive in Normandy that was a BIG problem if you had to drive the tank from Paris! But if you had a new final drive on the tank on the defensive your tank could be pretty damn operational. Too bad a 37mm shell from an armored car could kill it on the offensive, making it powerful but no uberweapon. Also it had lots of dumb design flaws and features, but so did most WW2 tanks.

According to the Army Green Book series at one point in 1944 the Germans were only repairing about 1/3rd the AFVs they did recover of all types! Also apparently in May 1944 the Luftwaffer lost 1,700 planes from accidents and mechanical failures! This number then went down a lot, but it was from a surge of poorly built planes from brand new factories. The same issue probably affected tank production.


By contrast the data which claims that the Panther had much-improved reliability in Normandy stem mostly from Zetterling's Normandy '44 - which is a great ORBAT reference but whose methodology (a reliance of German War Diaries and Maintenance Logs) doesn't account for the simple reality that quartermasters and unit commanders tend to be terribly distracted while writing these reports and that other accounts often directly contradict their statements.


Aye, and in all armies most records would burned on the battlefield to avoid building up too much classified trash you literally had to haul around with your unit if you didn't burn it. Also a huge natural incentive existed to pass off vehicles that just plain got abandon as being lost to the enemy.


In short, the fabled Panzer offensives into the beaches did happen - they just ended up so weak and ineffectual that most Internet commentators and many historians don't even realized they happened!


Six divisions was the max that attacked together, 1.5 Panzer Armies, and that what, encircled one US regiment for like two days?

If 3-4 divisions had attacked together on June 10th the allies might have lost some real ground, but naval gunfire would have always broken up a solid breakthrough onto the beachhead. We know from Salerno that just 2 Panzer divisions couldn't cover enough ground to actually stop a big allid landing, even when it was badly planned. The invasion is an army+ sized landing with multiple armies coming ashore behind it at once, the Germans rationally should need a similar sized force to oppose it. This barely existed in Panzer terms in all of France.

The Germans couldn't just dash onto the beach and win is something the Panzerwankers utterly never get I notice. They've still got to physically destroy the allied units, all of them, and not just at say, Sword beach only. Otherwise the Germans might takeover some key ground...but then they'd literally be hit by 2,000 allied bombers the next day while they try to resupply and get constantly shelled by a fleet with over thirty cruisers and battleships in it. This is more then enough firepower to gut multiple German divisions in hours. Either wing of the allied landing could fail and the operation would not fail.

Anzio was the one Nazi chance to crush an allied invasion and it was dumb as fuck as an operation, and the Germans got partial fires superiority over the beachhead at times, and they still had some real bomber support (realistically a thing for German only until early 1944) and still they failed at a mass counter attack.

Yep, and yet people still keep pretending the bulk of the Panzer Divisions were already around Caen by June 7/8; instead of being strung out in long traffic jams all over France.


For bonus many German infantry divisions had bad or undersized or unseasoned horses for their artillery, which was a hodge podge of often obsolete and physically heavy weapons. So all that stuff was breaking down or becoming stuck on the roads thanks to the general decline of Nazi fortunes and a actual half million dead horses in Russia.

The 7th Army peaked at 48,000 horses when opposing the invasion! Apparently the only reason this worked at all was Normandy had excellent conditions for grazing animals and in the middle of summer the Germans had many fewer problems with diseases. Their veterinary evacuation system, a really damn important strategic thing for a horse army, broke down completely as you might expect. At least 30,000 heavy draft animals were lost in the battle.

This is why after Operation Cobra the Germans were 100% screwed, there was just no damn physical way most of the army could retreat and everything horse mobile that tried then ensured a lot of armor couldn't flee either. The static conditions in June-July Normandy were the only kind of battle the Germans could have fought. Even much weaker allied forces would have won once the fighting became mobile at all.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-15 04:00pm

I have dredged stuff up I largely copied from the US Army Greenbook Cross Channel Attack years ago for this topic and cleaned it up a little.
www.history.army.mil/html/books/007/7-4 ... b_7-4-1.pd

***
Facts for actual German strength.

6 regular army and 3 SS Panzer divisions were in the western theater.

Varied regular army from 12,768 men for 9th Panzer division to 16,466 men for 2nd Panzer
The SS Panzer division was much stronger on paper by having 2 extra infantry battalions and more supporting arms including a fifth artillery battalion and usually one or both a anti tank or stugg battalion with AFVs, strength varied from 17,590 to 21,386 men.

All divisions were larger then US Army armored divisions in manpower, but even the largest SS Panzeruberelite division still had fewer tanks then every US Armored division.

US Infantry divisions were meanwhile averaged much stronger then German infantry divisions on both paper and the greater disparity of reality. .

On paper both forms of German Panzer division had just 2 Panzer battalions in 1 Panzer regiment. Each battalion should have 88 tanks in four equal companies, different from the smaller Tiger companies.

If they had all 100% tank strength that is still however only 1,584 tanks. And on paper half the tanks were Panthers and half only the Mark IV Panzer.

All Tiger tanks were assigned special battalions or special companies attached to Panzer battalions in certain SS Panzerbattalions.. Heer Panzer divisions never had organic Tiger battalions, attachments were rare. Some Tiger battalions in the war lost over 200 tanks, and total Tiger 1 production was only 1,300 vehicles.

2nd Panzer of the regular army was the best overall prepared division, buts still did not have all its Panther tanks.

1st SS Panzer was supposed to have 45 assault guns, 21 Panzer III tanks 101 Panzer IV and 81 Panthers.

In fact it actually had 50 Panzer IV and 38 Panthers. Just one tank battalion in other words. Instead of two tank battalions and a Stug or tank destroyer battalion as intended.

2nd SS had 40% armor strength.

Germany began increasing AFV shipments west in January 1944 but by the end of April 1944 the total sum of German made tanks and assault guns in all of France was only 1,608 with 678 Mark IV and 514 Panther tanks. This was supposed to go up to 1,994 by the end of May, with the ever increasing rise in bombing prior to D-Day that goal may not have been met.

Almost no Tigers were going west because losses on the Russian front were to the tune of over 1,000 major guns and tanks a mouth on a constant basis from Kursk forward for the Germans. All vehicles were required to maintain any operating pool of Tigers at all.

21st Panzer Division, the one closest to Normandy, still had mostly captured French and Russian tanks.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Zinegata » 2016-12-15 08:57pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:British stuff was probably worse then German on interchangeable parts though.


There's a reason why I constantly reference American, as opposed to British production. Britain's own tank development was a comedy of errors as recunted in Beale's Death by Design. Even more established authors like Zaloga are beginning to note how parochial British accounts are with regards to tank analysis - such as the insistence of British historians like Caruthers of applying the "cruiser" or "infantry" tanks definitions to armies that never believed in the cruiser/infantry split to begin with.

Give him less credit! The reality is Speer really didn't do much at all to boost production for Germany at all, though he was pretty good at solving specific sudden problems. The reality is most of the boost came from factories ordered in 1940-1942 before he was even in power suddenly becoming operational after he was/


Yeah, that was Adam Tooze's main thesis on Speer in Wages of Destruction, which shows how a lot of historians didn't understand that industrial investments require several years to bear fruit and that one man can't just wave a wand to make a factory appear out of thin air.

German batteries could NEVER win fire superiority over the Allies after the 1942 era, which really made any large scale battle hopeless. WW2 was as much an artillery war as WW1, it's just the fighting didn't bog down as much. When fights did happen artillery killed an even higher percentage of troops then in WW1 trench battles. It's just machine guns killed a lot less.


Pretty much. The reality of the German Army of 1939-1942 was that it was very much a firepower-centric army. Of the 16,000 men of an infantry Division only around 3,000 were riflemen and maybe a similar number were heavy weapons crews (e.g. MGs) that directly saw the enemy in combat. The rest were in the artillery and supply services. They were in fact largely beating their enemies during this period using the exact same "bury them with overwhelming artillery and material warfare" methods that the German fanboys decry as unfair in 1943-45 when the Allies employed it!

Indeed, many German reports at the start of Barbarossa complained that the German infantry was worse than that of the battalions which marched in 1914-1918 - as there simply wasn't enough time to train them extensively in fieldcraft. This wasn't so bad on the defensive - when you could just rely on a couple of guys sitting on trenches and manning machine guns - but on the attack it meant that the artillery had to wipe out or demoralize the defenders into submission or the infantry wasn't going to make much headway.

This is also why seemingly light German losses - a constant theme in many German accounts of the Eastern Front - were actually very crippling in terms of offensive capability. The German Army lost less than 10% of its manpower on the way to Moscow during Barbarossa, but the bulk of the losses were borne by the infantry and other frontline units which was less than 50% of the army to begin with. Hence in practice infantry strength was down about 25% for most units. They weren't going to be able to assault Moscow or any major city with that kind of infantry shortfall, especially when the Russian proportions during this period where the exact opposite and their infantry Divisions were made up almost entirely of infantry with very few support or artillery personnel.

Sherman battalion had 74 tanks, four companies of 17 plus the HQ tank troop and the armored gun platoon, which would have three 75mm or 105mm assault tanks.


I may be misremembering but wasn't one of the companies made up of Stuarts? I usually omit them from the count.

I don't think this comparison is fair though, but itcan also be used to illustrate the vast gulf between armies.


It's not apple-to-apples certainly, but I usually use it as a starter to explain that the cost of a vehicle is much more than its production cost. Much more important is the cost of keeping it in the field - in terms of ammunition, fuel, spare parts, and skilled manpower - and the huge truck count of a Tiger battalion tends to illustrate rather starkly how expensive the damn things were to keep in the field especially when one considers that a fully-staffed Tiger battalion often had more trucks than some actual Infantry or even Panzer Divisions.


I've heard of it, but I'm also a bit skeptical of any British military study I've not examined in text. They after all managed to produce a multi year full scale trials study to prove the .303 was the ideal caliber for air fighting. This is why British bombers were so FUBAR on defensive armament the entire war.

It wouldn't surprise me though if the exchange rate was not much past 1:1 though in a lot of those engagements though because of how damn outnumbered German tanks would be and the fact that even if a Tiger did appear real life is not a nerfed video game and you can worse case, spam them with smoke while retreating. The real problem was the Nazi mine + infantry defense being 15-20km deep.


Yeah there's the usual British parochialism in play, but do note that the US study after Normandy which tracked the 3rd and 4th armored Division had them killing German Panzers at a 3:1 ratio in their favor - mostly because the US tanks were able to fire first in the majority of these engagements even on the attack (due to a variety of factors - the Greenbook on the Lorraine Campaign featured a number of these engagementS). When US tanks suffered heavy losses it was generally against towed anti-tank guns or self-propelled guns, who tended to fire first because they were easier to conceal.

I have dredged stuff up I largely copied from the US Army Greenbook Cross Channel Attack years ago for this topic and cleaned it up a little.
http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/007/7-4 ... b_7-4-1.pd


Yeah, the Greenbook series is pretty awesome. A pity however that German fanboys tend to be insistent that this is all just victor's propaganda and that we should instead rely on the ONE TRUE SOURCE which are the German records. They tend to ignore the fact that the Greenbooks also took a look at captured German documents and didn't just take US accounts at face value.

But the sad reality of most fanboys is that they are actually quoting actual Wehrmacht post-war fanfiction like HIAG SS Apologia, Franz Kurowski's "Panzer Aces", and the Der Landser stories and comics. I've also had one slightly brighter fanboy claim that the ONE TRUE SOURCE was the Bundesarchiv and that it was totally complete as German SUPERIOR RECORD-KEEPING dictates... while ignoring the fact that the present institution was a post-war body that was established in 1952 and was only made possible because the Allies were nice enough to hand back documents they had captured; which was about under half of the contents of the pre-war archives since the rest had been burned to the ground during the actual war.

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Zinegata » 2016-12-15 09:36pm

Lord Revan wrote:yeah basically the germans shot themselves in the foot logically speaking and instead of trying to fix that issue desided to take another shot incase that first one didn't quite hit. From what I've read calling the german logistics situation in 1944-1945 a cluster fuck would be insulting to clusters and fucking.


Part of the reason is that the Germans never really had a very good requirements-gathering board; at least one that didn't end up being prone to pressure (or bribes) from the various manufacturing companies bidding for contracts.

Although the US Army projects an image of standardization and rationalization (they basically had one just main medium tank model), the reality is that there were in fact dozens of projects and proposals that were getting sent to Ordnance for approval - emulating the chaos in Panzer production. Nick Moran - the WoT researcher - for instance shows a huge number of proposal vehicles in his Tank Destroyer video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ho8TU_JpoI

The big difference is that the US Ordnance Department killed most of these projects before they could get to the field. Indeed they killed most of these projects before any sort of real production line could be setup to begin with. That we primarily remember US Ordnance for "delaying" the Pershing project - which in the context of all these harebrained proposals would have looked like just another problematic design unsuited for combat - is a result of Stephen Ambrose/Belton Cooper revisionism. In reality they did a pretty good job of picking what worked and what didn't. That the Pershing was still problematic when the Korean War and often had to be replaced by Shermans demonstrates how they were right to deem the damn things as not combat-worthy to begin with!

By contrast the Germans were pretty much just green-lighting every idea to come up the chain. In the Tiger's case, I've never seen a satisfactory requirement that justified the mounting of the 88mm gun. Earlier proposals - like the 3601- were actually content with smaller guns or even infantry-support guns, which would make sense if what the Germans wanted was a "breakthrough" tank like the Churchill or IS which was meant to survive a lot of low-caliber anti-tank fire while assaulting entrenched positions.

Now, don't get me wrong - the 88 is a pretty good gun. But in the context of the Allied armies fielding mainly Shermans or T-34s, it was closer to an exercise in overkill. The Mark IV's 75mm was sufficient to kill these tanks (which were often going to be hit in the side) at regular combat ranges anyway. The 88's main advantage was that it could penetrate at longer range... except the Tigers didn't like doing shoots at greater than 1km because accuracy tended to drop considerably and wasted ammunition. Moreover there weren't very many Allied guns that could shoot back that far in the first place. The Nashorn in fact was in many ways a better long-ranged shooter because it was more mobile and the poor armor wasn't a big issue when the Allied tank guns couldn't reach it in the first place!

By contrast, the Soviets actually started the war with a monster KV-2 tank that was 52 tons heavy and with a 152mm gun that could theoretically shatter a Tiger II. They didn't bother producing it once the war started because the 152mm gun was ridiculous overkill against an enemy that had nothing heavier than Mark IV, and whose majority tanks were even smaller Mark IIIs and 38ts. The Soviets instead stuck with the 76.2mm-armed KV tank and even reduced its armor in the subsequent KV-1S model because the consistent problem with KV tanks was mechanical reliability rather than resilience in combat. That's an army that's actually looking at combat requirements and adjusting production based on them.

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-15 10:40pm

The Tiger program came out of projects for anti fortification tanks with relatively big guns including 128mm howitzers, because those work way better for that role then 75mm and smaller weapons which don't remove nearly as much material. The Tiger 1 settled on the 88mm gun because it was common ammo with the 88mm Flak gun and that was the only gun at the time that was reliable at stopping all Soviet armor. Risking a smaller gun wasn't a good idea at that point. Does not strike me as a big mystery at least.

The KV-1S did have less armor, but it wasn't long before the IS-85/1/2 pushed weight back up to KV-1 levels and they had much more frontal armor, just not as much side armor as the original KV-1. A 50 short ton class tank seems to be more or less okay in WW2 tech if you actually had the time to work it out, and didn't make fatal design choices at an early stage as on the Panther. The 60 and 70 ton tanks were screwed by lack of enough engine power, even if you could find a damn way to make the suspension not fall apart.

The KV-2 apparently didn't really work, could only traverse the turret by hand on level ground, a problem shared with most US 105mm Shermans but way worse, and only fire on the forward arc, and it was still breaking its transmission doing it. Its entire job was to blowup Finnish bunkers so those limitations were basically acceptable to rush something into service.

The problem with a vehicle like the Nashorn is it's high profile makes it hard to take up decent firing positions anywhere that isn't wide open southern Russia. It had a role, but it was a much worse replacement for tanks then a Stug. Like many German AFVs the idea of having a few of them around sounds good, but a whole force of niche vehicles becomes difficult to employ. You can't launch a counter attack with them so a pretty vital part of German doctrine and really all armor doctrine falls flat. That's probably why a larger number got the 15cm howitzer for the support role. The Brummbär was just stupid, very valuable in certain ways but just falling flat on real requirements. But it goes back to how weak the Germans were on fire support, Brummbär units could provide artillery like support to frontline troops with some assurance, and much less ammo then indirect fire.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-15 11:17pm

Zinegata wrote:Pretty much. The reality of the German Army of 1939-1942 was that it was very much a firepower-centric army. Of the 16,000 men of an infantry Division only around 3,000 were riflemen and maybe a similar number were heavy weapons crews (e.g. MGs) that directly saw the enemy in combat. The rest were in the artillery and supply services. They were in fact largely beating their enemies during this period using the exact same "bury them with overwhelming artillery and material warfare" methods that the German fanboys decry as unfair in 1943-45 when the Allies employed it!


Well trick was the Germans didn't have so much firepower above the divisional level, or above 15cm in caliber that wasn't an outright siege gun or railroad gun that could only be used some at least some margin of air cover. Until the winter of 1941 the Germans air power made up the difference, in Russia it could not do the job and then the Germans lack of really heavy firepower became big problem. One they solved largely by taking so damn many casualties actually destroying all those encircled Russian troops.

Indeed, many German reports at the start of Barbarossa complained that the German infantry was worse than that of the battalions which marched in 1914-1918 - as there simply wasn't enough time to train them extensively in fieldcraft. This wasn't so bad on the defensive - when you could just rely on a couple of guys sitting on trenches and manning machine guns - but on the attack it meant that the artillery had to wipe out or demoralize the defenders into submission or the infantry wasn't going to make much headway.


And you needed to silence the enemy artillery or at least do something about it. Luftwaffe close air support was very focused on that throughout the blitz period, when that kind of suppression went away nothing replaced it. Panzer weapons and the Germans growing force of rocket launchers could make up som of the difference attacking enemy front line positions but they couldn't do anything about counter battery.

They weren't going to be able to assault Moscow or any major city with that kind of infantry shortfall, especially when the Russian proportions during this period where the exact opposite and their infantry Divisions were made up almost entirely of infantry with very few support or artillery personnel.


The reality is they could only win, and only ever did win big victories, through decisive maneuvers. Heavier Panzers literally made that harder to do! The whole problem with repelling an invasion is the must charge headlong into an allied force and all its support.

I may be misremembering but wasn't one of the companies made up of Stuarts? I usually omit them from the count.


Yeah one had light tanks, and sometimes an extra platoon of M8s with the 75mm howitzer depending on the date. In practice the light tanks were always assigned to the medium tank companies or else directly attached to infantry battalions. Don't ignore them, while light the suckers still met typical WW2 tank fuel economy standards by burning about 1 gallon of gasoline per mile of travel even on a road march.

Stories exist of some of them being preforated clear through by German shells with nobody killed, this seems likely to be true given the soft thin armor and low terminal effects of most WW2 ammo. 37mm gun could still kill Nazi horses.



Yeah there's the usual British parochialism in play, but do note that the US study after Normandy which tracked the 3rd and 4th armored Division had them killing German Panzers at a 3:1 ratio in their favor - mostly because the US tanks were able to fire first in the majority of these engagements even on the attack (due to a variety of factors - the Greenbook on the Lorraine Campaign featured a number of these engagementS). When US tanks suffered heavy losses it was generally against towed anti-tank guns or self-propelled guns, who tended to fire first because they were easier to conceal.


By the late 1944 campaign it seems pretty clear like German troop quality had imploded too. The Panzer fright of the winter kind of just confirmed that, the whole German counter offensive was pretty badly organized and very badly executed. A few good divisions around sure, but in other cases Panzer divisions actively disrupted the advance of infantry still trying to punch the breakthrough and then all too many ground assaults still failed.

The annoying thing is how much typical Buldge maps show a giant point into the allied line, when for half the distance the only German advance was 1 battlegroup down 1 road, and that advance ended with the Germans blocked hard, out of gas and abandoning multiple Tiger 2 tanks. This only happened in turn because 1 bridge American engineers already wired to blow was not blown by another unit.

Yeah, the Greenbook series is pretty awesome. A pity however that German fanboys tend to be insistent that this is all just victor's propaganda and that we should instead rely on the ONE TRUE SOURCE which are the German records. They tend to ignore the fact that the Greenbooks also took a look at captured German documents and didn't just take US accounts at face value.


They are drooling morons. The key thing about that series is just how many are not directly about combat, and I never read all of those ones either as they aren't always the most interesting, or at this point the best on the subject. The combat ones tend to be written later too, a lot of them in the 1980s, while the earliest green books on logistics and strategy were published in the 1940s, 1947 was the first I think. The US military knew exactly why it had won, and that details and methods of point battles would change rapidly in the future as they had been ever since smokeless powder. How to beat a WW2 Panther would only matter against a Panther, but the enormous organizational superiority expressed by the allies building a projecting power by the allies was a lesson forever and a feat almost surely never to be equalled. Germany is largely one long lesson in what not to do in comparison. That's why German fanwhore types focus on battle and weapons comparisons which often involve like...one tank battalion, or one frigging tank 'ace' who was awarded seventeen iron crosses while tanking part in many glorious German DEFEATS. The Germans fall apart hardcore in the wide view from every single damn angle you can look and measure and compare.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Zinegata » 2016-12-16 04:44am

Sea Skimmer wrote:The Tiger program came out of projects for anti fortification tanks with relatively big guns including 128mm howitzers, because those work way better for that role then 75mm and smaller weapons which don't remove nearly as much material. The Tiger 1 settled on the 88mm gun because it was common ammo with the 88mm Flak gun and that was the only gun at the time that was reliable at stopping all Soviet armor. Risking a smaller gun wasn't a good idea at that point.


Picking a gun that was relative future-proof and readily available was certainly understandable, but mating a breakthrough tank with a gun that's specifically known for its anti-tank instead of its anti-concrete capability is a clear deviation from the original requirement; which points to the start of muddled German battlefield requirements.

Modern observers tend to take it for granted that the Tiger was "required" to out-stat and out-fight any possible Soviet tank it faced (especially given its reputation), but the problem with these "requirements" is that they're a moving goalpost that ultimately becomes a chimerical quest for paper superiority. That the Germans didn't realize this is part of the reason why they ended up with increasingly gigantic tanks (usually blamed on Hitler's whim) like the Tiger II, Jagdtiger (with its completely unnecessary 128mm gun), and of course the Maus.

If the Germans instead took a step back and looked at the broader battlefield as a whole, it would have been apparent that the Tiger didn't really need an 88mm gun in 1942/43. It very rarely encountered the KV tanks that justified the 88, and was in fact much more likely to meet even punier T-70 and Su-76 assault guns in that period. With a lighter gun it might have met its original weight requirements and it may have ended up a more reliable and long-lasting machine. Moreover, given that the Tiger I was out of production by 1944, in hindsight the usefulness of the gun actually outlasted the viability of the chassis!

That modern fanboy analysis (and even a number of wartime German comparisons) tend to focus on these very narrow qualities is why Zaloga and other authors are beginning to question the "armored joust" model where tanks are judged based on their gun penetration and front armor values. In reality getting the big guns and heavy armor needed to win these theoretical jousts actually often made for an overall worse machine for the war effort as a whole.

The KV-1S did have less armor, but it wasn't long before the IS-85/1/2 pushed weight back up to KV-1 levels and they had much more frontal armor, just not as much side armor as the original KV-1. A 50 short ton class tank seems to be more or less okay in WW2 tech if you actually had the time to work it out, and didn't make fatal design choices at an early stage as on the Panther. The 60 and 70 ton tanks were screwed by lack of enough engine power, even if you could find a damn way to make the suspension not fall apart.


It's true that weight started to increase with the KV-85 again, but note that this version came out in August 1943. By this point the Germans had fielded Panther and Tiger tanks which justified the deployment of the bigger gun, which also demonstrates how Soviet requirements tended to be more grounded in actual battlefield necessities than just the need to out-stat the enemy.

The KV-2 apparently didn't really work, could only traverse the turret by hand on level ground, a problem shared with most US 105mm Shermans but way worse, and only fire on the forward arc, and it was still breaking its transmission doing it. Its entire job was to blowup Finnish bunkers so those limitations were basically acceptable to rush something into service.


Yeah, it really didn't. The sole KV-2 which did anything of note was the one which basically held up portions of a Panzer Division at Raisenai; and even then it was more of a bunker rather than a tank. That said the 152mm was potentially a powerful tank-killer, and the Soviets actually rushed 152s back into service for Kursk in the form of the SU-152 to counter the Tiger (which actually pre-dated both the SU-85 and SU-100, to the confusion of Nazi fanboys who keep thinking guns need to keep getting bigger and bigger). Indeed, Soviet doctrine seemed to place greater emphasis on letting the anti-tank screen - which was equipped with these SUs - to deal with German Panzer counter-attacks rather than the Soviet tanks themselves.

The problem with a vehicle like the Nashorn is it's high profile makes it hard to take up decent firing positions anywhere that isn't wide open southern Russia. It had a role, but it was a much worse replacement for tanks then a Stug. Like many German AFVs the idea of having a few of them around sounds good, but a whole force of niche vehicles becomes difficult to employ.


I'd note though that while the Nashorn is often criticized for its high profile it's actually shorter than the Tiger I. It definitely wasn't a good tank replacement due to its open chassis, the same way a Hellcat (which was very underrated as a tank-killer) wasn't a replacement for a Sherman. But in its niche, it was better in all of the ways that mattered (lower height, better mobility, and better gun) compared to the Tiger.

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-12-16 04:52pm

Zinegata wrote:Picking a gun that was relative future-proof and readily available was certainly understandable, but mating a breakthrough tank with a gun that's specifically known for its anti-tank instead of its anti-concrete capability is a clear deviation from the original requirement; which points to the start of muddled German battlefield requirements.
Well, part of the problem there is that the Tiger's original design requirements were specified in 1937. As far as I can tell, the original 'ancestral' designs were largely redundant with the Panzer IV, or would have proved to be redundant.

By the time the design evolved to anywhere near the final production model (1940-ish), the Germans weren't just asking for a bunker-busting tank, they were asking for a general-purpose heavy tank with armor superior to that of, say, a British Matilda.

At which point, arming the tank with an infantry support weapon really isn't a very good idea, unless of course you only do that on a specialized variant of the tank equivalent to the "Sherman 105" howitzer tanks. And arming the tank with a gun that shares common ammunition with one of your most popular AA and AT gun calibers is definitely a good idea.

Everyone seriously trying to build heavy tanks in that weight class tended to push for guns above 75mm caliber. The IS series had 85mm guns at first and upgunned from there. The Americans adopted 90mm guns in their heavy tank designs (never fielded). The British may have been the exception with the 17pdr, I don't remember for sure- but then British tank designers were crazy.

I won't deny the folly of moving the goalposts in an attempt to overmatch specific enemy tank designs, but at the same time, it wasn't just the Germans who built larger and larger tanks in an attempt to ensure they'd have something that was reasonably well protected against 1940-vintage antitank threats. The Russians and British and even Americans were doing the same thing in roughly the same timeframe, even if the Americans never actually sent any of their heavy tank designs into combat because the logistics of amphibious warfare didn't really make the idea supportable.

If the Germans instead took a step back and looked at the broader battlefield as a whole, it would have been apparent that the Tiger didn't really need an 88mm gun in 1942/43. It very rarely encountered the KV tanks that justified the 88, and was in fact much more likely to meet even punier T-70 and Su-76 assault guns in that period. With a lighter gun it might have met its original weight requirements and it may have ended up a more reliable and long-lasting machine. Moreover, given that the Tiger I was out of production by 1944, in hindsight the usefulness of the gun actually outlasted the viability of the chassis!
Yeah, but if they downgun to 75mm, they don't just lose effectiveness against enemy heavy armor, they also lose it for things like the 'bunker buster' role you were originally pointing out as the reason the first ancestral proto-Tigers were designed in the first place!

There are arguments for why 75mm might have been a more sensible Tiger main gun than 88mm, but I don't think this is one of those cases where we can point to the German decision and say "yeah, they obviously screwed that up." Especially since there's inherently a lag in designing things to respond to battlefield realities. If you wait to field a better class of antitank weapons until after the enemy has hit you with dank designs immune to the last generation, you have a significant period where you're at a disadvantage.

[Note that this applies to things like towed AT guns and tank destroyers too, not just to heavy tanks.]

You can make arguments either way; it's always difficult when designing new weapon systems to decide whether to design precisely to the requirements you expect NOW, or whether to try and 'leapfrog' the enemy by making an advance that they in turn will be forced to counter, allowing you to remain competitive for longer. Both options have associated risks and drawbacks.

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-16 05:29pm

Zinegata wrote:Picking a gun that was relative future-proof and readily available was certainly understandable, but mating a breakthrough tank with a gun that's specifically known for its anti-tank instead of its anti-concrete capability is a clear deviation from the original requirement; which points to the start of muddled German battlefield requirements.


It's not really a muddled requirement in practice, enemy tanks and fortifications would be expected to intermix, and the Germans had kept encountering Russian heavy concrete fortifications through the end of 1942. If your going to build a heavy tank at all it really ought to have a gun at least that big.

Also still a better idea then the French plan of fielding several different heavy tanks, and building dedicated anti fortress tanks built in shipyards, which would have been 3mph butt crushing the Panzer IV in 1942 had any of this ever had a chance to get going. If not for 1940 events being history the Germans were looking to be in serious near term threat from heavy tank spam on both sides of their Empire.

You could make an argument for the 105mm gun even, Germany in 1939 was already building and preparing to build a large number of 105mm anti tank turret fortifications on the OWB line and West Wall. This gun was common with the German artillery 105mm long range gun already, for which they also prepared some simpler West Wall casemate positions in the anti tank role as well. All of this stuff got cut off in 1940...the same way the Russians cut off the 107mm in 1941, but basically they did prove to be needed in the end.... at least if you wanted an assured kill on anything.


That the Germans didn't realize this is part of the reason why they ended up with increasingly gigantic tanks (usually blamed on Hitler's whim) like the Tiger II, Jagdtiger (with its completely unnecessary 128mm gun), and of course the Maus.


Bah....I saw the Jagdtiger at Aberdeen when I was 11 and as long as the battlefield is a downhill sloping parking lot I declare it utter victory. The fact that the gouges in the armor of that one are rejected 3in shells is just lol.

I've wondered if the whole reason the Jagdtiger had so much armor was because the Germans knew quality was going to crap.

Something the Germans totally should have done differently given perfect hindsight is build the 128mm field/PAK gun much earlier. Design was inspired by the Russian A-19 though so it couldn't actually have happened earlier, though the Russians took shit back from it to help design the D-30 postwar. Still with enough day dreaming it could have been a standard support weapon for motorized units by 1942 or so.

If the Germans instead took a step back and looked at the broader battlefield as a whole, it would have been apparent that the Tiger didn't really need an 88mm gun in 1942/43. It very rarely encountered the KV tanks that justified the 88, and was in fact much more likely to meet even punier T-70 and Su-76 assault guns in that period. With a lighter gun it might have met its original weight requirements and it may have ended up a more reliable and long-lasting machine. Moreover, given that the Tiger I was out of production by 1944, in hindsight the usefulness of the gun actually outlasted the viability of the chassis!


The Germans didn't know the KV-1 would become rare though. I think the bigger problem is just how badly production engineered the Tiger was then anything else, the 75mm gun version would have had the same hull so you'd only be saving a couple of tons of weight. It's not going to make the road wheel absurdity go away.

That modern fanboy analysis (and even a number of wartime German comparisons) tend to focus on these very narrow qualities is why Zaloga and other authors are beginning to question the "armored joust" model where tanks are judged based on their gun penetration and front armor values. In reality getting the big guns and heavy armor needed to win these theoretical jousts actually often made for an overall worse machine for the war effort as a whole.


Yeah the strength of German units was in their superiority in organization and training for combine arms, which faded rapidly after 1941 and had ceased to exist by 1944 because no real German air power was left and the artillery arm was always kind of weak, and now firing over 30% of all its ammo at allied bombers over Germany without stopping them.


It's true that weight started to increase with the KV-85 again, but note that this version came out in August 1943. By this point the Germans had fielded Panther and Tiger tanks which justified the deployment of the bigger gun, which also demonstrates how Soviet requirements tended to be more grounded in actual battlefield necessities than just the need to out-stat the enemy.


The fact that some plants were physically moved or on the frontline in Leningrad probably helped enforce rationalization of what was actually mass produced. As it was on the eve of the German invasion they were designing not one but two different 107mm AT guns and numerous tanks to mount them. The Soviets were more then crazy enough to have built the KV-4 given the chance. They were throwing utterly enormous amounts of money in AFV R&D.

Indeed, Soviet doctrine seemed to place greater emphasis on letting the anti-tank screen - which was equipped with these SUs - to deal with German Panzer counter-attacks rather than the Soviet tanks themselves.


The Soviets main emphasis was on letting towed weapons absorb the actual attack whenever possible. They expected to loose all the guns but with the crew survivors acting as more infantry an anti tank gun brigade could stop a German Panzer division. The self propelled guns would be held back by doctrine, and used for counter attacks and delivering flanking fire. The medium tanks always counter attacked except extreme situations like Kursk where some defended hull down.

Its the same as with the Russian artillery, hyper active if a major offensive in either direction is going on, but otherwise quiet and reserved in the day to fight fighting. Only the SU-76 really did the day to day slog by intent. This has a lot to do with why Russia took so damn many casualties. They could make huge strategic leaps, but most of the time the front line fight is being made by Russian infantry with only light armor support and not many anti aircraft guns at all heavier then .50cal, and most artillery only 76mm or 85mm and only firing like 10 rounds per day. German troops still had major advantages under those condition....then would just implode under sudden weight of Soviet medium and heavy tank spam on strategic axis.

I'd note though that while the Nashorn is often criticized for its high profile it's actually shorter than the Tiger I. It definitely wasn't a good tank replacement due to its open chassis, the same way a Hellcat (which was very underrated as a tank-killer) wasn't a replacement for a Sherman. But in its niche, it was better in all of the ways that mattered (lower height, better mobility, and better gun) compared to the Tiger.


The Hellcat has thicker armor then the superstructure on the Nashorn! Its vulnerable to 14.5mm fire at 600m, literally no better then the gunshield on a towed weapon. That's why the profile matters, it's only really safe from .30cal fire, if the crew ducks. That's pretty bad. The Tiger being tall helped make it heavy but also meant it has a shitload of ammo, while a Nashorn functionally needed a second vehicle as a limber, which is just one of those creeping problems for the Germans and why a 150mm howitzer is probably a better use of the hull.

Also a prime example of what you said earlier on non standard standard parts. The Nashorn has the damn engine in the middle, so its a major structural mod compared to a Panzer IV that means no ability to share assembly space or flexible production, and which surely meant all kinds of auxiliary parts changed.

I do wonder though, given the German fuel shortages, how much a higher production rate would have ever mattered. The Tiger guzzled fuel, but it didn't guzzle fuel the way fan theories of crap like Germany building 10,000 extra tanks in 1942 would have.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-16 06:01pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Everyone seriously trying to build heavy tanks in that weight class tended to push for guns above 75mm caliber. The IS series had 85mm guns at first and upgunned from there. The Americans adopted 90mm guns in their heavy tank designs (never fielded). The British may have been the exception with the 17pdr, I don't remember for sure- but then British tank designers were crazy.


The British had the 20pdr in 1945, and the 32pdr had they needed it, which naturally had a towed AT gun variant too. America of course had 105mm towed and tank guns, and 120mm and 155mm tank guns all actually tested on tanks! Apparently a proposal did exist to make a towed version of the 120mm an AT gun (nobody cared that nobody in Europe wanted towed anything) but it was never built for some impossibly strange reason.

Also for obscure but very relevant American progress had the Maus roamed the earth in 1946, in winter 1944 a project began to put the 155mm mortar T36 ball mounted on a M4 Sherman tank turret with 60 degrees of elevation. 60lb shell to 2,200 yards and the accuracy to hit point targets at that range. Said mortar did see action in the Philippines towed by a jeep, it just proved rather too clumsy to keep using that way. The British also actually fielded some vehicles with a 200lb to 2,000 yard 240mm mortar in battle too, saw action crossing the Rhine. With enough superheavy caliber tank mortars the Nazi hoards can be stopped by blowing bigass enough holes in front of the advance.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-12-16 06:31pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:The British had the 20pdr in 1945, and the 32pdr had they needed it, which naturally had a towed AT gun variant too. America of course had 105mm towed and tank guns, and 120mm and 155mm tank guns all actually tested on tanks! Apparently a proposal did exist to make a towed version of the 120mm an AT gun (nobody cared that nobody in Europe wanted towed anything) but it was never built for some impossibly strange reason.
I was thinking more in terms of the heavy tank designs that were historically fielded or at least prototyped within that same 1940 to early 1942 window that saw the development of the Tiger I. So I'm comparing the Tiger I to the M6, the Churchill, and to some of the variations on the KV series.

[I know that I'm probably not being perfect on the timing here, but since it's not like everyone developed their tanks in perfect parallelism, there's no way to avoid that.]

By contrast, things like the T29 and IS-2 projects that were more or less specifically built with "kick a Tiger's butt" in mind are a whole different level of vehicle.

So basically what I'm getting at is, by late 1940 or so, no one really wanted to put anything less than a 75mm gun in a medium or heavy tank, except the British who were crazy and the no-account people like the Italians and Japanese. 75mm guns, reasonably long-barreled ones, were pretty much the minimum. And the typical heavy tank projects that were getting support into 1941 and on were those which started with long 75s as the minimum, and generally expanded upward from there.

Looking at late-war projects (most of which never saw service, or were at best fielded in late 1944 or '45) the numbers change again, but that's not the period I'm talking about.

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-16 07:36pm

Simon_Jester wrote:I was thinking more in terms of the heavy tank designs that were historically fielded or at least prototyped within that same 1940 to early 1942 window that saw the development of the Tiger I.


Okay well if you limit to that era then the 17pdr was actually pretty damn heavy and powerful for its caliber is your answer, thus the problem of Sherman mounting it. The 88mm KwK 36 is just about identical in muzzle energy and firing at a lower velocity range. But this is also why the 3 ton towed version of the 17pdr isn't really man-moveable at all, while other 75mm-76.2mm anti tank and light field guns actually were for short distances.

So it competed with the more static like 88mm towed guns in action in that respect too.
By contrast, things like the T29 and IS-2 projects that were more or less specifically built with "kick a Tiger's butt" in mind are a whole different level of vehicle.


My point is that wasn't really any different then what was being worked on in 1940. The French collapse just caused a huge unexpected shift, but it was soon roved the tank blitz had a lot of limitations, and that breakthroughs still mattered.

The 32pdr as AT was actually from before the Tiger, though I could be wrong, and its certainly a fact that the 1940 the German use of 88mm flak in the AT role attracted lots of attention and some British 3.7in AA units did manage it. Really never found anything on where the 20pdr came from originally.

Proposals for 4.5in and 5.25in AT guns though were the proper long term British Tiger doom reaction plan, I believe one version of the Tortoise had the former. As a practical matter the British also really wanted SP versions of the 4.5in and 5.5in field guns they had, which were pretty ideal weapons similar to the A-19 and with no doubt similar effect on enemy tanks given the chance. But no industry to build it with. Projects for all new British heavy artillery plain got cancelled around 1941. Naturally being the British ammo is never interchangeable. This completely avoids confusion on the battlefield obviously. In the end the British focus on air power really ruled out doing much for land weapons at all basic the basic equipment of its infantry divisions.

The doctrine of bigger guns was sound indeed, you just had to limit your demand for armor. The most important thing about a tank is that it moves though, because otherwise seriously, the Panther bunker idea was a great idea and incredibly hard for allied tanks to deal with.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Zinegata » 2016-12-18 09:17pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:Also still a better idea then the French plan of fielding several different heavy tanks, and building dedicated anti fortress tanks built in shipyards, which would have been 3mph butt crushing the Panzer IV in 1942 had any of this ever had a chance to get going. If not for 1940 events being history the Germans were looking to be in serious near term threat from heavy tank spam on both sides of their Empire.


The French had a pretty muddled production system too, but the Cuirassiere Division wasn't a bad idea in theory because it was basically an independent heavy tank brigade. That the Char Bs got thrown into a big battle where they had none of the support elements they were supposed to operate with is why they didn't do so well at Sedan.

The fact that some plants were physically moved or on the frontline in Leningrad probably helped enforce rationalization of what was actually mass produced. As it was on the eve of the German invasion they were designing not one but two different 107mm AT guns and numerous tanks to mount them. The Soviets were more then crazy enough to have built the KV-4 given the chance. They were throwing utterly enormous amounts of money in AFV R&D.


Oh definitely. The British only split tanks between infantry and cruisers before the war started. The Soviets had something like five different types because of all the experimentation. The cavalry had their own tanks (BT series I believe), the infantry had their own tanks (T-26), which was distinct from actual heavy tanks (KV and T-28s).

That said by '42 the plans were a lot more sensible and there were upgrade paths in the pipeline for existing model.

The Soviets main emphasis was on letting towed weapons absorb the actual attack whenever possible. They expected to loose all the guns but with the crew survivors acting as more infantry an anti tank gun brigade could stop a German Panzer division. The self propelled guns would be held back by doctrine, and used for counter attacks and delivering flanking fire. The medium tanks always counter attacked except extreme situations like Kursk where some defended hull down.


That's on the defensive though and that system was only really developed around the time of Kursk. Before then Soviet defensive doctrine was very weak, with Glantz noting that the 1941 field manual had a single-digit number of pages devoted to defensive tactics. This is partly why the Germans were able to slice through Soviet defenses so easily.

On the offense though Dunn claims that an SU screen accompanied tank offensives, staying in concealed positions behind the advancing tanks. The SUs would then pick off German Panzers trying to counter-attack, which is why their losses were actually quite low.

Its the same as with the Russian artillery, hyper active if a major offensive in either direction is going on, but otherwise quiet and reserved in the day to fight fighting. Only the SU-76 really did the day to day slog by intent. This has a lot to do with why Russia took so damn many casualties. They could make huge strategic leaps, but most of the time the front line fight is being made by Russian infantry with only light armor support and not many anti aircraft guns at all heavier then .50cal, and most artillery only 76mm or 85mm and only firing like 10 rounds per day. German troops still had major advantages under those condition....then would just implode under sudden weight of Soviet medium and heavy tank spam on strategic axis.


There's good reason to believe that Soviet artillery at the Divisional level couldn't even reliably do indirect fire shoots for most of the war, and that they tended to use their 76mm guns in direct-fire (all the artillery experts were in the Corps or Army HQ). This is why the SU-76s proved so valuable. Funnily by contrast the much-maligned US Tank Destroyer battalions actually fired about twice as many rounds in indirect fire mode than they did in direct-fire mode!

I do wonder though, given the German fuel shortages, how much a higher production rate would have ever mattered. The Tiger guzzled fuel, but it didn't guzzle fuel the way fan theories of crap like Germany building 10,000 extra tanks in 1942 would have.


The Panther at 45 ton guzzled about twice as much fuel as a Panzer IV based on rough estimates. The Tiger would have been three times at most. That said 10,000 tanks in 1942 would have been out of the question - even if we assume three smaller tanks for a bigger one there were never that many Tigers operational at any time to begin with!

Having a few Tigers around wasn't a bad idea - because you do need to have a heavy-hitting tank from time to time. The more questionable decision was to mass-produce the Panther. I've always been more partial to the 35 ton Daimler-Benz submission to the project, which at the very least had better all-around protection (and why it proved to be a lot better and popular than the Panther in the early days of WoT until the Panther got a ridiculous 75mm L100).

And in any case if you really wanted to increase fuel for the Wermacht you either had to suspend all naval operations, or to radically decrease the allocation to the Luftwaffe. In 1943 the Luftwaffe ate up around 4 million barrels (or was it tons?) of fuel, while the Wermacht used 2 million and the Navy had 1 million. Of course stripping the Air Force and to a lesser extent the navy just introduces a whole host of new problems.

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Zinegata » 2016-12-18 09:39pm

Simon_Jester wrote:By contrast, things like the T29 and IS-2 projects that were more or less specifically built with "kick a Tiger's butt" in mind are a whole different level of vehicle.


The thing is the IS-2 was not actually built specifically to beat the Tiger. They consciously picked the 122mm gun because it was a more powerful general-purpose weapon. Indeed, IS-2s may have been using HE (due to low ammunition count) against enemy tanks in the handful of recorded tank vs tank engagements they took part in, which was enough to mush enemy Tiger crews into paste anyway.

The Soviet vehicles that was expressly built to be Tiger-killers were SU series vehicles, starting with the SU-152. That said it proved to be very unwieldy (and was a stop gap solution anyway) which is why they added the SU-85 and the SU-100 into the mix.

I'm also not entirely convinced that the T-29 was designed specifically as a Tiger-killer at the outset. The project started in March 1944, which was three months before D-day and US field commanders at this point didn't believe that 76mm guns were even necessary! This was why they left around 150 units of the 76mm Sherman behind in England when the D-day invasion happened. And in any case the even heavier and better-armored T28/T95 had been looked into around the same period, and those were designed with assaulting heavy defense lines in mind.

An overly large gun was in fact not necessarily needed when trying to kill big tanks. Even small anti-tank guns like the British 6 pounder (57mm only!) could and did kill both Tigers and Panthers - especially with advancements in ammunition - and they had the added advantage of being smaller and easier to conceal. It's concrete bunkers that really need a big round to chip away a them, it just so happened that these same big guns tended to be good at killing tanks too (and as noted a 152mm gun was already mounted on a tank as early as 1941, so it's not as though they were lagging much in the gun department. It was the mobility issues that had to be resolved due to the big guns weighing so much).

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-19 05:10pm

Zinegata wrote:The thing is the IS-2 was not actually built specifically to beat the Tiger. They consciously picked the 122mm gun because it was a more powerful general-purpose weapon.


Well, also shortage of 100mm guns. Su-100 production was a lot lower then the IS series while Russia had huge numbers of A-19s.


I'm also not entirely convinced that the T-29 was designed specifically as a Tiger-killer at the outset. The project started in March 1944, which was three months before D-day and US field commanders at this point didn't believe that 76mm guns were even necessary!


Doubt it was. It was a pretty straight evolution of continued work on the M6 tank and heavy tank driveline tech in general, which had turned into that crazy 77 ton 105mm gun version Ordnance offered a batch of and somehow the Army in Europe still didn't want. The Italian fighting had provided ample justification for a heavy tank to deal with heavily fortified avenues of approach, and the endless monumentally constructed stone buildings the Germans were using as strong points. Cassino fighting seems to have directly created the T.28 project, with a requirement for a 105mm gun and 8in armor in a 'tank', those casemate projects being some kind of lead into it.

The reality was while you could take good enough fortifications like this without a heavy tank, you needed either siege guns or heavy tanks to do so without excessive losses and consumption of time. Either of those weapons requires a port to unload, though in the case of siege guns more so because of the ammo then the weapon. Cassino largely fell because the US finally got 8in and 240mm howitzers into action against it.


Zinegata wrote:The French had a pretty muddled production system too, but the Cuirassiere Division wasn't a bad idea in theory because it was basically an independent heavy tank brigade. That the Char Bs got thrown into a big battle where they had none of the support elements they were supposed to operate with is why they didn't do so well at Sedan.


The French had the best stuff for combat service support too, including a full range of dedicated recovery vehicles designed to recover equipment as heavy as 100 tons!!! and some of the only working mobile bridges of the era. But yeah, it has to be present to matter and all the divisions that had the stuff were first in line to race into Belgium with it.

Char B did suffer from not enough gas tank though, part of how it's so small, and that really hurt at Sedan. Road march distance was okay for a 1940 tank but not running endurance. At that point it became a major problem that the tank is so slow, because driving to go get gas and come back to battle is now very time consuming.

Oh definitely. The British only split tanks between infantry and cruisers before the war started. The Soviets had something like five different types because of all the experimentation. The cavalry had their own tanks (BT series I believe), the infantry had their own tanks (T-26), which was distinct from actual heavy tanks (KV and T-28s).

That said by '42 the plans were a lot more sensible and there were upgrade paths in the pipeline for existing model.


Seems to me those three splits of role pretty well did keep going though. The BT turns into unlimited T-34s for unlimited mechanized corps, the infantry tanks kept being light and basically less shitty forms of more or less T-26 like specifications, and heavy tanks kept going for the breakthrough tank regiments. They just had less redundancy filling each role.

They also had an amphibious line of tanks, which kind of fell by the wayside but only for a failure to design the BMP-1 turret earlier.

That's on the defensive though and that system was only really developed around the time of Kursk.


Ha you say that but glorious Russian infantry will just push these damn guns along with themselves on the attack! Plus on the attack usually the Panzers only become a problem after you overran a couple German infantry battalions positions first and would get a short chance to consolidate. Even when Russia was on the defensive they would constantly try to destroy German regiments with attacks like this. It's really what kept them going in 41-42. That's where the ability of the Russians to put light infantry tanks on soft ground became real important. Western Europe was better engineered for drainage and US light tank spam less useful for it.


Before then Soviet defensive doctrine was very weak, with Glantz noting that the 1941 field manual had a single-digit number of pages devoted to defensive tactics. This is partly why the Germans were able to slice through Soviet defenses so easily.


That sounds like Glantz being Glantz....one manual, for what? Our own army needs dozens of manuals for that stuff and he was writing at a time when not even remotely full access existed to Russian stuff. They were not fools. The Russians were doomed by shear lack of organization and clear leadership thanks to Stalin in 1941. It wouldn't matter what was in the doctrine if nobody has ammo and nobody is in command and all units are scattering to avoid strafing while waiting for orders. Whole mechanized corps fell apart without fighting while trainloads of reservists kept being entrained to assembly points the Germans were overrunning for weeks.

They did had a bad defensive idea, which was the hard crust strategy of placing all three regiments abreast and only 3km deep instead of deploying in depth. But the Russians did this because they thought the only way you'd ever stop an enemy tank rush was to deploy all your anti tank guns at once all along one general axis and shoot it out. That had some validity if the enemy really appeared with 400 tanks with 30mm thick armor in one place. A battle sort of like that happened at Khalkhin Gol, with the Russians on the dying end of the light tank and armored car assaults. War experience can be decieving.

Behind the hard crust was to be lots and lots of Soviet tank spam for depth, vehicles they sure had to spam, which is where Russian tanks being used aggressively as much as possible comes into play. This plan was bunk in practice because the Russians were taken by too much strategic surprise and out of position and too plain disorganized. They shifted back to a deeper defense strategy quickly as it was much more reliable.

What changed at Kursk was they had enough troops deployed at the stupidly obvious ass German attack zones to form defense lines two divisions deep, and had a third line prepared but only lightly manned deep behind that.

Given that this involved building railway lines to support earth moving in some cases, building the Kursk defense was really an evolution of Russians prewar static fortress zone doctrine as much as any normal battlefield revolution past their mid-late 1942 tactics. The Stalin and Molatov lines had both been based on zones of obstructions and bunkers in depth, but only on key lines of advance, accepting the reality that Russia was too big to fortify solid. Glantz doesn't address that ever that I know of. These systems in turn had evolved from vast works the commies built around the Moscow region in the Russian revolution. It was untested back then because the white armies all got defeated much further away.

The Russians also moved the anti tank guns from being evenly spread, which I will note was everyone's doctrine in 1939-1940, into not just battery strongpoints, but groups of battery strongpoints, leaving a screen along the front only. They located those strongpoints for maximum field of fire too, even if the location it's self wasn't vital, and didn't even integrate them into other defenses that well. The point was just to ambush and kill a whole bunch tanks. These works were simple, but tactically they basically fit with the idea of armored gun turrets as a defense.

Also Russia built some big fortification systems in 1941-42, south west of Moscow I've never turned up anything useful in detail on. They were backed up by tank armies, and flanked by a number of other fortified cities to the south east; those only had defenses around the city limits rather then wide areas. I suspect we would find they looked more like the Kursk works then the 1941 ideas.

..Stalingrad was south of those cities. Germany certainly had reasons to strike that place before it too became a citadel.

Also worth pointing out that for lack of troops for basically 100% of the war in the east German defenses were just like the Russian 1941 ideas. All regiments in line, only depth comes from regimental HQ and artillery positions which would be dug in as strong points. Its no wonder Russians constantly destroyed chunks of these lines. This was against German doctrine which only called for thick defense belts and made no mention of mobile or disconnected. strongpoint defenses but doctrine yielded to PLAN REALITY!

On the offense though Dunn claims that an SU screen accompanied tank offensives, staying in concealed positions behind the advancing tanks. The SUs would then pick off German Panzers trying to counter-attack, which is why their losses were actually quite low.


It was pretty standard AFV fire and overwatch tactics that I've seen.

There's good reason to believe that Soviet artillery at the Divisional level couldn't even reliably do indirect fire shoots for most of the war, and that they tended to use their 76mm guns in direct-fire (all the artillery experts were in the Corps or Army HQ). This is why the SU-76s proved so valuable. Funnily by contrast the much-maligned US Tank Destroyer battalions actually fired about twice as many rounds in indirect fire mode than they did in direct-fire mode!


The Russians were also being rationed like 7 shells a day, so indirect fire wasn't going to accomplish much anyway. Key thing though, while the divisional batteries often lacked anyone who could calculate fire directions the Russians still generally taught these guys how to use a SUPERWEAPON called a AIMING STAKE. Which means they could actually set the damn sights on the gun and thus conduct some semblance of long range fire, and very accurate direct fire even if they could not observe all the impacts.

The present insanity in Syria is pretty directly linked to an inability to use this superweapon.

Russians also just issued lots and lots of 82mm mortars, and had a large supply of ammo for them. It was easier to make mortar rounds it out of cast iron, and they were less affected by it because they already held large bursters. They made lots of artillery shells out of cast iron like it was WW1 again too, and used shrapnel shells heavily for want of explosives. Russia had to cheat at a lot of things like this during the war, and kept doing it with the post war Soviet military. 80,000 tanks in 1980, but no field kitchens.

Having a few Tigers around wasn't a bad idea - because you do need to have a heavy-hitting tank from time to time. The more questionable decision was to mass-produce the Panther. I've always been more partial to the 35 ton Daimler-Benz submission to the project, which at the very least had better all-around protection (and why it proved to be a lot better and popular than the Panther in the early days of WoT until the Panther got a ridiculous 75mm L100).


Problem is it also had a diesel engine and the German army was overwhelmingly gasoline powered. Also it had unresolved problems possibly worse then the actual Panther, and couldn't fit the L100 gun in its turret. Sure L100 looks silly, but its less silly then a King Tiger if the allies had gone and built 60-70 ton tanks by 1944. Germany didn't know if they would or not, but it did know they could.


And in any case if you really wanted to increase fuel for the Wermacht you either had to suspend all naval operations, or to radically decrease the allocation to the Luftwaffe. In 1943 the Luftwaffe ate up around 4 million barrels (or was it tons?) of fuel, while the Wermacht used 2 million and the Navy had 1 million. Of course stripping the Air Force and to a lesser extent the navy just introduces a whole host of new problems.


Think that's tons, out of a total production of like 8.5 million for all of Axis everything in 1943, which was actually much better then the 1941 production numbers. Germany was burning reserve fuel to invade the USSR with. Meanwhile the UK in 1942 imported over 20 million tons of oil, and for bonus the US Army began drilling for oil in England and installed 9 production wells or something before told to stop.

Meaning the US got more oil out of England then Germany did out of the Caucasus.

But the real German way to get more fuel is not send an army to North Africa.

Instead invade Malta in 1941 and then hope the British are dumb enough to launch a major operation against ~Rhodes in 1942 when the Luftwaffe can still plausibly inflict a major defeat against it. Not many troops went to North Africa but it sure burned lots and lots of fuel and trucks up, and it was the only logistics route where Germany outright lost a large amount of the tonnage to enemy action back then. Near useless Italian naval activity can now be even lower too, and crazy things can be done like Italy asking the US supply the islands population with food aid!

Germany totally could have taken Suez in 1942, if they made it the main and only war effort, and did so in 1941.

But that was just laughable as a long term strategy compared to some vry vague chance Russia would outright implode in 1941. I think that came a little closer to happening then some would wish to admit. All those made up Soviet propaganda stories about needing people fighting to the death to delay the Nazi tanks 1 day or even a few hours weren't just circulated for shits and giggles. Russia had the resources to win, but the guy out fighting didnt know how many tanks the Nazis really had.

Without taking Suez the desert war had no value at all, except to prop up Italy which was only useful as a plug in the Mediterranean in the first place. Committing resources was a huge waste, and the theater sank U-boats like crazy while not sinking tonnage inbound to the British isles.

2 other approaches existed to increase German fuel. The first was to pressure Romania much harder, German failure to pay for supplies caused Romania not to press expansion of production in its fields. The other would have been to start converting civilian vehicles to wood gas and other gas products earlier. This kind of fuel by 1943 was saving millions of tons of oil a year Germany had no other way. But they only began it in 1941 or something. Starting in 1939 would have been easy and is one of those politically minded mistakes the Nazis made early on.
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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Zinegata » 2016-12-19 08:40pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:The French had the best stuff for combat service support too, including a full range of dedicated recovery vehicles designed to recover equipment as heavy as 100 tons!!! and some of the only working mobile bridges of the era. But yeah, it has to be present to matter and all the divisions that had the stuff were first in line to race into Belgium with it.


The French actually had a lot of good ideas but just never had the time to show it all off together. Their artillery doctrine in particular has been noted by Showalter and others as particularly good and re-used by the US Army. But operationally they lacked the experience to put it all together on-the-fly, whereas the Germans already had rehearsed things like simple road marches way back when they invaded Austria.

Char B did suffer from not enough gas tank though, part of how it's so small, and that really hurt at Sedan. Road march distance was okay for a 1940 tank but not running endurance. At that point it became a major problem that the tank is so slow, because driving to go get gas and come back to battle is now very time consuming.


Yeah, I think that was partly a cost issue. Albeit considering the Char B wasn't supposed to move faster than the pace of an infantryman I'm guessing long legs wasn't a high priority during the requirements-gathering phase.

That sounds like Glantz being Glantz....one manual, for what? Our own army needs dozens of manuals for that stuff and he was writing at a time when not even remotely full access existed to Russian stuff.


He was comparing the Soviet '36 Field Regulations to the '44 one in his paper on Kursk. Basically, the '36 version had 20 pages devoted to defensive tactics out of 300 (so slightly more than single digits). The '44 version had half the manual devoted to defense.

That said the Glantz paper on Soviet defensive tactics, on review, actually came out way back in 1986 so it would not be surprising if it was out-of-date.

It wouldn't matter what was in the doctrine if nobody has ammo and nobody is in command and all units are scattering to avoid strafing while waiting for orders. Whole mechanized corps fell apart without fighting while trainloads of reservists kept being entrained to assembly points the Germans were overrunning for weeks.


Yeah, there was no going around the fact that Barbarossa had achieved strategic surprise and it was basically Pearl Harbor on a front-wide scale. Don't tell that to the German fanboys however who insist that Soviet tanks without ammunition or gasoline should totally be included in Nazi kill counting; but only Nazi tanks completely destroyed in combat should be considered when analyzing German losses.

The Russians were also being rationed like 7 shells a day, so indirect fire wasn't going to accomplish much anyway. Key thing though, while the divisional batteries often lacked anyone who could calculate fire directions the Russians still generally taught these guys how to use a SUPERWEAPON called a AIMING STAKE. Which means they could actually set the damn sights on the gun and thus conduct some semblance of long range fire, and very accurate direct fire even if they could not observe all the impacts.

The present insanity in Syria is pretty directly linked to an inability to use this superweapon.


Lol, well the Brits had to relearn a whole bunch of artillery tactics in World War 2 that were standard in the Great War. Erosion of operational experience is a rather common thing across all armies and institutions.

80,000 tanks in 1980, but no field kitchens.


Obviously the Soviets believed that the war would be over before their troops starved!

But the real German way to get more fuel is not send an army to North Africa.


Yeah, as I noted in an earlier post - North Africa was actually a pretty long operating area. Going from Tunisia to Alexandria was basically the same as driving from Berlin to Moscow. Without any farms and a scarcity of water sources in between. But no Good German Rommel must instead get a Panzer Armee even though it will just end up dug-in outside of Tripoli due to a lack of fuel. :roll:

But that was just laughable as a long term strategy compared to some vry vague chance Russia would outright implode in 1941. I think that came a little closer to happening then some would wish to admit. All those made up Soviet propaganda stories about needing people fighting to the death to delay the Nazi tanks 1 day or even a few hours weren't just circulated for shits and giggles. Russia had the resources to win, but the guy out fighting didnt know how many tanks the Nazis really had.


A full-blown implosion was probably unlikely, but a negotiated peace definitely was not. But that would mean Nazis not being Nazis.

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Re: How accurate is this "what could Hitler do different" article

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2016-12-19 09:51pm

Zinegata wrote:Yeah, I think that was partly a cost issue. Albeit considering the Char B wasn't supposed to move faster than the pace of an infantryman I'm guessing long legs wasn't a high priority during the requirements-gathering phase.


They designed a fuel trailer for it, but those never work out and it wasn't used in service. The problem is infantry fight all day, so that could be 12 hours of sunshine you'd like the tank present for. Most tanks could do that in WW2, though they might need ammo several times if the fighting was heavy enough. Tanks that can't do it tend to get reputations as fuel hogs.

He was comparing the Soviet '36 Field Regulations to the '44 one in his paper on Kursk. Basically, the '36 version had 20 pages devoted to defensive tactics out of 300 (so slightly more than single digits). The '44 version had half the manual devoted to defense.


Okay, because the Russians certainly had big fully illustrated field engineering manuals that told you how deploy if you had time to dig in, I have chunks of them from prewar. Kursk is just such a damn victory of time over tank it's hard to tell what mattered, and clear the German could have attacked a lot harder and still failed. They never even hit the inner lines because Russia threw in tank reinforcements rather then let it happen.

Yeah, there was no going around the fact that Barbarossa had achieved strategic surprise and it was basically Pearl Harbor on a front-wide scale. Don't tell that to the German fanboys however who insist that Soviet tanks without ammunition or gasoline should totally be included in Nazi kill counting; but only Nazi tanks completely destroyed in combat should be considered when analyzing German losses.


It's like they don't logically realize the implication of the victories always getting closer to Berlin.

Also I think a really big deal is not grasping how damn important a reserve force is to any kind of fighting. Kursk was the Germans throwing in all armor reserves outofhand, six panzer corps side by side but none in reserve, and Russia defeated it while keeping very large forces in reserve the whole time. Bad strategy for the Germans and also a demonstration of total tactical defeat.

Lol, well the Brits had to relearn a whole bunch of artillery tactics in World War 2 that were standard in the Great War. Erosion of operational experience is a rather common thing across all armies and institutions.


For artillery a lot of that was because all the special HQ units that had controlled the WW1 barrages had vanished. British really had nothing past an artillery regiment, the brigade HQs were basically administrative only since guns got attached to infantry dutis, so tactics stopped at that point. But the trick is the British also had the Royal Garrison Artillery as an institution that remembered a lot more, that did come out into the field later on, but was deprived of its own new dsigns for high power 6-7in guns and some heavier howitzers. Got the 7.2in conversion instead...

The US had a similar problem that held back the effectiveness of its artillery, all those independent artillery battalions could serve under a group HQ in combat, but normally they were directly assigned to an army headquarters and had nobody who could ensure they were being kept trained and organized.

Moronically the US army has now abolished all its field artillery brigade HQs under the modular force structure plan, but I'm sure that collectively let us field one more infantry brigade.

Obviously the Soviets believed that the war would be over before their troops starved!


Three days to the Rhine comrade! Follow the mushroom clouds!

Yeah, as I noted in an earlier post - North Africa was actually a pretty long operating area. Going from Tunisia to Alexandria was basically the same as driving from Berlin to Moscow. Without any farms and a scarcity of water sources in between. But no Good German Rommel must instead get a Panzer Armee even though it will just end up dug-in outside of Tripoli due to a lack of fuel. :roll:


It basically was a big panzer armee in transport terms. Even then the logistical system only worked thanks to a couple short train lines. German victory requires expanding those. Also they needed a whole extra air fleet in Greece to win air superiority strategically, and Greece had crap for logistics too. The rail system was very limited at the time. The Germans could barely keep plans going on Crete due to slow fuel deliveries. This is where it all turns into diverting impossible levels of engineer and construction and fuel effort from Russia. But no Russia invasion? Then sure, on to Suez.

A full-blown implosion was probably unlikely, but a negotiated peace definitely was not. But that would mean Nazis not being Nazis.


Yeah the Nazis being Nazis made negotiated anything rather difficult short of Nazis reaching Kazan, which is only 400 more miles east! But localized collapses of moral did happen, and basically were going to happen, and this could mean yielding far more ground then needed to be.

Germany did have more then one viable alternative for the whole invasion of Russia....but most of them, like a narrow front push on Moscow, have this big problem that while they could create victory in certain ways (disrupt Russia laterally enough) they also turn into bigger and bigger risks that say, ALL FOUR PANZER ARMIES ENCIRCLED BY RUSSIA! Aost...

So we could have gotten Germany looses completely in Russia by mid 1942! Poland invaded by 1943 and Germany might not even hold out past then if the US and British pulled off a landing in France and someone finds a magic bullet to shoot Hitler with. He'd have rather reputation points in this scenario.

But no, Germany reaches the Urals with the Panzers and....forward to India! Set all its coal on fire, cause global warming and flood London! The Target is always London!
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