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#21 Markus Becker

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 1301 PM

If the war had gone on longer, the Red Army might have run out of men. Fortunately, the Germans ran out sooner.

 

They had begun to run out but they could compensate for this by taking over and re-arming the forces of Romania and Bulgaria. 


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#22 Ken Estes

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 1317 PM

Bulgaria never declared war on the USSR. In Sept 1944, she had the misfortune to be at war simultaneously with Germany [having switched sides], USA, UK and the USSR [declared war on Bulgaria for the real estate]


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#23 Ken Estes

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 1320 PM

 

My existing understanding had been that the Soviets had the artillery advantage at Kursk by far.

Low number of artillery can gain superiority if you concentrate them reasonably, in focus. Did we consider that?

 

 

I would also question the nice round numbers of shells fired and the periods pertaining. Kursk ended July 16 for Germany and far later for the USSR.


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#24 Ken Estes

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 1340 PM

Rich, the southern front of Kursk was the only favorable zone for the Germans, until 16 July, when all was lost. The Rus arty and air remained effective in the Ninth Army zone throughout. As you know, if arty has to retreat, it's not firing rounds.

 

Immediate high expenditures of ammo by the Germans would have corresponded to the offensive army having the luxury of concentrating its efforts, at least initially. The Russians, OTOH had an estimated 20,000 guns and mortars, and 300 rocket launchers but these were not conveniently concentrated, but rather distributed in some fashion across up to six successive zones of defense, each of which had several components to a depth of some fifty miles to the rear. There were even two more positions constructed in the Steppe Front, extending the depth of defenses to some 200 miles. In all of these, multiple entrenched and fortified positions hid almost a million men in their trenches, blockhouses and bunkers, fronted by some 640,000 mines.

 

So no, I don't find ammo consumption to be a direct link to effectiveness.

 

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#25 Rich

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 1512 PM

 

Rich, the southern front of Kursk was the only favorable zone for the Germans, until 16 July, when all was lost. The Rus arty and air remained effective in the Ninth Army zone throughout. As you know, if arty has to retreat, it's not firing rounds.

 

Hi Ken, you are forcing me to go back and look at stuff I wrote 25 years ago and probably last looked at around 15 years ago. Damn you for drawing me away from For Purpose of Service Test... :D

 

Anyway, I don't think I said anything different...and my specific point on the artillery movements was just that...amny of the Soviet artillery units spent much more time displacing than firing. And, yes, I did say I was speccifically referring to the southern sector and Panzerarmee 4 and AA-Kempf.

 

 

Immediate high expenditures of ammo by the Germans would have corresponded to the offensive army having the luxury of concentrating its efforts, at least initially. The Russians, OTOH had an estimated 20,000 guns and mortars, and 300 rocket launchers but these were not conveniently concentrated, but rather distributed in some fashion across up to six successive zones of defense, each of which had several components to a depth of some fifty miles to the rear. There were even two more positions constructed in the Steppe Front, extending the depth of defenses to some 200 miles. In all of these, multiple entrenched and fortified positions hid almost a million men in their trenches, blockhouses and bunkers, fronted by some 640,000 mines.

 

Indeed, the Germans made very good use of their time in the two months prior to the battle, training and practicing their TTPs for breaking through the Soviet defensive crust. It worked in the south very well, but not so well in the north, for reasons we never really explored in depth.

 

The problem with the Soviet dispositions were:

 

They tended to remain cookie-cutter, ignoring the realities of terrain. For example, 7th Guards Army defended a position partly protected by the Donets, although to an extent that advantage was partly negated by the higher western bank. All well and good. However, the 6th Guards Army, with no such natural terrain as an obstacle, defended a greater frontage, 66 kilometers to 55, than 7th Guards Army, although the two had almost exactly the same organization.

 

They tended to be incomplete, despite two months of work on them. In the 1st echelon of 6th Guards Army, only about 75% of the defensive positions were complete and only 51% of the second echelon. In many case the defenses were poorly sited as well, failing to cover minefields with observation and fire. Only 9.1% of the planned 756 concrete pillboxes and only 30.1% of the 1,890 wood and earth pillboxes in the 6th Army zone were completed. The same was true for much of the rest of the planned defenses...only 74.5% of the planned 2,800 artillery pits and 80.5% of the 1,650 mortar pits were ready.

 

Nor did they have a significantly effective mine barrier emplaced. 6th Guards Army laid 170,210 mines (about 51% AT) before the attack. 7th Guards about 151,954. All well and good, except the linear density of those fields was inadequate, in the 6th Guards Army zone about 1,951 per linear kilometer in the 1st echelon and 479 in the 2d echelon. Except for the fortuitous and avoidable encounter by 10. Panzerbrigade with one minefield in the second echelon, it seems mines were never a significant barrier to the Germans, although their rapid clearing by the German Pionier did result in heavy casualties to the Pionier and infantry supporting the break in, 167. ID about 781 casualties and 332. ID about 1,337 through 7 July. Nevertheless, good German planning and execution meant that about one-quarter of the AP mines in front of XXXXVIII PzK were actually lifted before the attack even began and over 1,100 AT mines were cleared on 6 July alone.

 

However, those heavy German casualties resulted in enormous casualties to the Soviet 1st echelon divisions. In the first day, 52d GRD suffered 1,155 casualties, 67th 1,944, and 71st 1,273. On the second day, when the Germans effectively completed overruning the 1st echelon, the divisions suffered 1,002, 1,708, and 1,350 more casualties respectively. By the morning of the sixth day,, 52d GRD had been effectively steamrollered and was reduced to nearly 50% of its start strength, 5,950 men left of 11,414.

 

The depth and strength of the Soviet defenses in the south has been exaggerated for years, while its lack of depth and poor positioning has been glossed over. Its inadequacy has been concealed by overall numbers that on examination turn out to be almost meaningless.

 

 

So no, I don't find ammo consumption to be a direct link to effectiveness.

 

I don't think I said anything about that? :D


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#26 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 1826 PM

WRT to the invasion of Sicily inducing Hitler to turn off the Kursk attack, that's always been a little weird to me (although Hitler certainly was weird). From the Allied perspective the whole thing was a bit of a clusterf*ck. I wonder if his generals disagreed with him?


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#27 Martin M

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 0122 AM

same here. Why does an invasion of a semi important area, which they were expecting anyway, very distant from current important ongoing  battle / operation cause them to throw in the towel ?


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#28 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 0154 AM

Because they were looking for excuses to end something that wasnt working maybe? And I dont think Sicily was that unimportant, springboard as it was to the Invasion of Italy. After all, remember, they were expecting the invasion to come Via Sardinia, which they had prepared for courtesy of Major Martin....


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#29 Adam_S

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 0309 AM

I think that to answer that question you have to look at the strategic context surrounding the Kursk operation. Arguably, the basic concept with Kursk was to suck in and destroy as many Soviet reserves as possible in order to buy the Wehrmacht some breathing room to switch over to the defensive and accumulate a strategic reserve to counter subsequent Soviet offensives or an Allied landing in Western Europe.

 

As has already been pointed out, the Germans had no strategic reserve and were forced to switch forces around between fronts to achieve any kind of significant local advantage. It had always been planned to move forces to the West but the speed of the Allied landings combined with the rapid collapse of the Italian government accelerated the Germans' timetable and meant that units like Leibstandarte had to be pulled out of the battle to go to Italy. The Soviets also launched a major offensive, operation Kutuzov against the Orel salient North of Kursk against Ninth Army's left flank and 2nd Panzer Army and across the Mius river in Army Group South's area. Again, because of a lack of reserves to counter those offensives, the Germans were forced to pull their best units out of the Kursk battlefield to shore up the line. Das Reich and Totenkopf went to the Mius to try and pinch out a Soviet bridgehead there and IIRC Grossdeutschland went to Ninth Army.

 

Both of these Soviet offensives were carried out with units that had not been involved in the fighting at Kursk but required the transfer of German formations out of the Kursk area. The constant pressure against the Germans however meant that their best mobile divisions were already worn out by the time Operation Rumyantsev kicked off. Units like the 5th Guards Tank Army which had been pulled out of the fighting at Kursk after heavy losses were able to be rebuilt and went into the offensive fresh and more or less up to strength. This was in sharp contrast to units available to Von Manstein like 2nd, 3rd and 5th SS Panzer which had been in near constant combat and were increasingly worn out. Army Group South's front collapsed and the Soviets were able to retake most of the Ukraine.

 

tl;dr, it wasn't just Italy, but a general drawing off of German forces to other fronts that finally brought Kursk to an end.


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#30 Ken Estes

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 0334 AM

Because they were looking for excuses to end something that wasnt working maybe? And I dont think Sicily was that unimportant, springboard as it was to the Invasion of Italy. After all, remember, they were expecting the invasion to come Via Sardinia, which they had prepared for courtesy of Major Martin....

 Exactly. It is seldom recalled that Hitler himself grew increasingly skeptical of Fall Zitadel in 1943, to the point that before its execution, he was referring to it as a "gamble."  He probably sensed that nothing else would improve his situation, as peace feelers with the Russians that year in Stockholm had led to nothing and the Mediterranean was no longer Mare Nostrum, with landings feasible almost anywhere..


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#31 Ken Estes

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 0130 AM

I think that to answer that question you have to look at the strategic context surrounding the Kursk operation. Arguably, the basic concept with Kursk was to suck in and destroy as many Soviet reserves as possible in order to buy the Wehrmacht some breathing room to switch over to the defensive and accumulate a strategic reserve to counter subsequent Soviet offensives or an Allied landing in Western Europe.

 

As has already been pointed out, the Germans had no strategic reserve and were forced to switch forces around between fronts to achieve any kind of significant local advantage. It had always been planned to move forces to the West but the speed of the Allied landings combined with the rapid collapse of the Italian government accelerated the Germans' timetable and meant that units like Leibstandarte had to be pulled out of the battle to go to Italy. The Soviets also launched a major offensive, operation Kutuzov against the Orel salient North of Kursk against Ninth Army's left flank and 2nd Panzer Army and across the Mius river in Army Group South's area. Again, because of a lack of reserves to counter those offensives, the Germans were forced to pull their best units out of the Kursk battlefield to shore up the line. Das Reich and Totenkopf went to the Mius to try and pinch out a Soviet bridgehead there and IIRC Grossdeutschland went to Ninth Army.

 

Both of these Soviet offensives were carried out with units that had not been involved in the fighting at Kursk but required the transfer of German formations out of the Kursk area. The constant pressure against the Germans however meant that their best mobile divisions were already worn out by the time Operation Rumyantsev kicked off. Units like the 5th Guards Tank Army which had been pulled out of the fighting at Kursk after heavy losses were able to be rebuilt and went into the offensive fresh and more or less up to strength. This was in sharp contrast to units available to Von Manstein like 2nd, 3rd and 5th SS Panzer which had been in near constant combat and were increasingly worn out. Army Group South's front collapsed and the Soviets were able to retake most of the Ukraine.

 

tl;dr, it wasn't just Italy, but a general drawing off of German forces to other fronts that finally brought Kursk to an end.

 

You may have talked yourself into the last statement, but it ignores reality: The Kursk offensive ran out of gas on 16 July quite on its own. The scheduled advances proved impossible and no reserves were ready [or existed] to exploit the few successes that were obtained. It was a failure and no statistical analysis of losses can make it otherwise.


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#32 Adam_S

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 0317 AM

Well there were arguably some reserves left, depending on what you want to classify as reserves. Manstein certainly thought that Army Group South had one last big push left in it and had XXIV Panzer Corps been committed then they might have broken through the last line of Soviet defenses. What that would actually have achieved is debatable but II SS Panzer corps was still operational as were the divisions on its left flank, and Manstein certainly wanted to keep banging away.

 

I'd argue that without Soviet offensives on either flank of the Kursk battle, the Germans had the manpower to continue with the offensive and absent the need to transfer forces elsewhere might eventually have succeeded. The final decision to call off the offensive entirely was directly linked to the need to redeploy Leibstandarte to Italy and Das Reich and Totenkopf to the Mius to counter the Soviet breakthrough there.


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#33 Ken Estes

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 1244 PM

You'll not find the additional German Army manpower anywhere in 1943, except in the 6th Army [Stalingrad] and Italo-German African Army [Tunis].


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#34 Stefan Kotsch

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 1337 PM

 

I'd argue that without Soviet offensives on either flank of the Kursk battle, the Germans had the manpower to continue with the offensive

War could be so grandiose, if there were not always these "obstructiveness". ;)


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#35 Adam_S

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 1616 PM

 

 

I'd argue that without Soviet offensives on either flank of the Kursk battle, the Germans had the manpower to continue with the offensive

War could be so grandiose, if there were not always these "obstructiveness". ;)

 

 

Damn you, reality!


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#36 Colin

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Posted 16 July 2019 - 2258 PM

 

 

I'd argue that without Soviet offensives on either flank of the Kursk battle, the Germans had the manpower to continue with the offensive

War could be so grandiose, if there were not always these "obstructiveness". ;)

 

Had the Germans been able to extract their army more or less intact from Stalingrad, they would seem to have been in a much better position to respond to the coming Soviet offensives?


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