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.
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.