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Barbarossa Derailed I & II

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  • Barbarossa Derailed I & II

    I am reading this long series and I consider it completely essential to understanding Barbarossa. I will post snippets of text and comments that have items that I believe are of interest.

    Also, the usual open discussion.
    Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
    Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
    Barbarossa Derailed I & II
    Battle of Kalinin October 1941

  • #2
    pg.65-66

    Nor were the Germans, most of whose intelligence came from Luftwaffe
    reconnaissance patrols, which it conducted only during the day, and from radio
    intercepts, very well informed about Soviet troop movements. Since air reconnaissance patrols reported heavy road traffic along the Smolensk-Borisov highway and toward
    Mogilev and Rogachev, as well as heavy rail movements at Vitebsk, Orsha, Smolensk,
    and Roslavl’, the appearance of 1st Motorized Division did not come as a total
    surprise. In addition, shortly after noon on 3 July, the Germans intercepted a Soviet
    radio message ordering an armored attack against Berezino by 1530 hours. Guderian
    had just inspected the Borisov bridgehead, which Nehring’s 18th Panzer Division
    had expanded by pushing 24 kilometers beyond. After receiving this intelligence,
    Guderian personally alerted the defenders at Borisov and ordered Weber’s 17th Panzer
    Division, then at Minsk, to send a kampfgruppe to reinforce the Borisov bridgehead,
    which it did by nightfall on 3 July. Meanwhile, the Luftwaffe warned Nehring about
    seemingly endless columns of motorized infantry astride the main highway and a strong
    motorized column with more than 100 tanks, among them many heavy models not
    previously identified, advancing on Borisov. These included many KV-1 and KV-2
    and T-34 tanks, the latter with 152mm guns weighing almost twice as much as the
    Panzer IV’s with their short 75mm guns.
    Kreizer’s division began its assault against 18th Panzer Division’s defenses east of
    Borisov on 3 July, with his division’s 12th Tank Regiment and a company of KV tanks
    in the lead, protected on the flanks by his motorized regiments. Initially, the surprise
    attack with such powerful tanks produced consternation and terror in the Germans’
    ranks. However, by employing superior radio communications and tactics, combined
    with the liberal use of 88mm antiaircraft guns firing armor-piercing ammunition and
    concentrated bombing attacks, Nehring’s division managed to blunt Kreizer’s assault,
    inflicting heavy losses on his tanks, but not without suffering serious losses of its own.
    Although Eremenko later blamed the Soviet failure on Kreizer’s faulty tactics,
    rather than their equipment or lack of fighting spirit, fighting in utter isolation and
    without air support was the principal reason for his defeat. However, the Germans
    noted that Kreizer split up his tank force into smallish groups, intermixing light tanks
    with medium T-34s and the KV’s, and, lacking radio communications, his attacks
    were poorly coordinated. Nehring’s panzers first knocked out the light tanks and then
    immobilized the heavier models by blasting their tracks, often at close range. Although
    German armor piercing shells could not penetrate the T-34 and KV hulls, as was
    the case elsewhere along the front, many of the tanks were captured intact after they
    ran out of fuel or fell into ditches. Impressed by the T-34’s he personally inspected,
    Guderian sent some back to Germany, where they were studied and imitated. However,
    it would be two more years before the Germans produced the Panzer V, “Panther”
    tank, a heavier and more powerful copy of the T-34.
    Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
    Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
    Barbarossa Derailed I & II
    Battle of Kalinin October 1941

    Comment


    • #3
      pg. 75

      More about the disastrous employments of the experimental Mech. Corps:

      Attacking at 1000 hours against virtually no resistance, Vasil’ev’s division
      reached the villages of Tepliaki and Parnevo, 16-19 kilometers northeast of Senno, at
      midday, where its force of 276 tanks, including 24 KV-2 and 49 T-34 tanks, drove off
      reconnaissance parties from 7th Panzer Division. Thereafter, Vasil’ev received three
      successive orders from Vinogradov, each of which altered the previous order “like a
      company on a field exercise,” which dispersed the division “like the extended fingers
      of a hand” rather than a “fist.”80 In this fashion, the division attempted to continue its
      march across the Chernogostitsa River, roughly 5 kilometers west of Parnevo, toward
      Beshenkovichi on the Western Dvina River, 30 kilometers further to the west-northwest.
      However, while Vasil’ev’s tanks were spending almost 12 hours crossing the swampy
      ground, Funck’s forces were constructing strong antitank defenses on the river’s western
      bank, virtually within Vasil’ev’s sight. Despite Vasil’ev’s protestations, Vinogradov
      insisted he attack early on 7 July. When 14th Tank Division did, it encountered
      murderous antitank fire and was decimated, losing half of its tanks, many of which
      simply stuck in the river’s bed
      Nor were the experiences of Alekseenko’s 5th Mechanized Corps any more
      positive. When his corps’ 13th and 17th Tank Divisions reached the approaches to
      Senno at about midday on 6 July, Colonel Ivan Petrovich Korchagin’s 17th Tank
      Division, which was deployed on the corps’ right wing with a force of roughly 430
      tanks, including 6 KV-1 and 10 T-34 tanks, ran straight into Weber’s 17th Panzer
      Division south of Senno. At the same time, although it managed to find a relatively
      undefended sector and advanced even farther to the west, Colonel Fedor Ustinovich
      Grachev’s 13th Tank Division, with 411 tanks (including 7 KV-1 tanks and 10 T-34s),
      encountered elements of Nehring’s 18th Panzer Division, which attacked its left flank.
      After two days of heavy fighting, during which 12th Panzer Division entered the fray
      by attacking from the west, Alekseenko’s mechanized corps was a shambles. Therefore,
      as Soviet documents later reported, “A German [panzer] division, consisting of two
      battalions, had hardly more than 100 tanks.” However, after fierce battles, by 10 July
      it had succeeded in encircling and destroying Alekseenko’s forces. The two Soviet
      mechanized corps, which reportedly lost a total of 832 tanks and many soldiers in the
      struggle, withdrew eastward across the Dnepr River in considerable disorder.
      Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
      Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
      Barbarossa Derailed I & II
      Battle of Kalinin October 1941

      Comment


      • #4
        CI,

        I read both volumes the year they came out and I believe you are missing the point by recounting the tactical issues experienced by both sides. While Glantz's volumes are verey detailed in covering the events, their strength is in the discovery that the standard view of the campaign around Smolensk/Vyazma between late July and the start of Typhoon is far from accurate.

        What will become clear is that the Germans had no more chance of pushing on to Moscow in the summer of 1941 than the Red Army had in driving the Germans back or destroying the concentrations of AG Centre. The tactics were merely noise and can be set aside as interesting but not critical (or even not that interesting if one is honest). The value of the study is in the strategic implications of the German logistics and planning failure (Barbarossa specifically) combined with the commitment of the Red Army reserves to repeated, if costly, counterattacks and the results.

        'Barbarossa Derailed' is the ideal title for the set as the fighting in/near the Vitebsk Gate region finished the German attempt to defeat the USSR.

        As the man said, 'Tactics without strategy is noise before defeat. Strategy without tactics is the long road to victory'. That is 'Barbarossa Derailed' in a nutshell.
        Last edited by The Purist; 12 Jan 15, 21:29.
        The Purist

        Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hold your horses, I've read 88 out of 1,150 pages so far....
          Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
          Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
          Barbarossa Derailed I & II
          Battle of Kalinin October 1941

          Comment


          • #6
            I am interested in everything: experiential, command, tactical to strategic. I do not read with any interest in "What-ifs", the "What-ifs" are purely for amusement purposes, and come after the fact.

            Originally posted by The Purist View Post
            I read both volumes the year they came out and I believe you are missing the point by recounting the tactical issues experienced by both sides. While Glantz's volumes are verey detailed in covering the events, their strength is in the discovery that the standard view of the campaign around Smolensk/Vyazma between late July and the start of Typhoon is far from accurate.
            I am also not reading this book with a desire to accumulate proof of the 'Pinned down at Smolensk for 10 weeks', war was lost here theory, which I already consider reasonable with unless the book somehow convinces otherwise.

            My operational readings have been almost exclusively focused on battles in 1942-1944, so with that in mind, I approach this material relatively unencumbered with the older view, popularized in Clark's 'Barbarossa' and countless others. I am capable of coming up with a subjective interpretation of operational history.
            Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
            Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
            Barbarossa Derailed I & II
            Battle of Kalinin October 1941

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
              However, after fierce battles, by 10 July
              it had succeeded in encircling and destroying Alekseenko’s forces
              Alekseenko's 5 MC was not destroyed. The 13 Tank Division reported 77 BT and 32 T-26 in its two tank regiments as of 10 July, and 17 Tank Division - 3 KV, 3 T-34, 75 BT-7, 34 T-26 and 17 KhT as of 13 July. It's not clear if that means all tanks or operational only, at any rate there was a strong enough tank force remaining. Personnel losses were apparently not as heavy as losses in tanks, according to Isaev the corps without some elements reported the loss of 646 men, including 138 killed and 357 missing at Senno-Lepel.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                Alekseenko's 5 MC was not destroyed. The 13 Tank Division reported 77 BT and 32 T-26 in its two tank regiments as of 10 July, and 17 Tank Division - 3 KV, 3 T-34, 75 BT-7, 34 T-26 and 17 KhT as of 13 July. It's not clear if that means all tanks or operational only, at any rate there was a strong enough tank force remaining. Personnel losses were apparently not as heavy as losses in tanks, according to Isaev the corps without some elements reported the loss of 646 men, including 138 killed and 357 missing at Senno-Lepel.
                Regardless, as a mechanized corps it would not be considered combat effective as such and unable to accept or complete operational missions assigned to one. You can debate semantics, but the 5 MC was basically removed from operational maps as a mechanized corps as a result of this battle. Also, even if it still showed tanks on its OOB, that says nothing about the rest of it's combined arms and support elements that are necessary for it to function in any capacity as a fighting force. Suffice it to say that if it's support elements were degraded as bad as its tanks, then the tanks themselves are likely to be inoperable to large extent in short order unless the entire unit is pulled out and rehabbed immediately. I believe that Glantz covers the demise of the Soviet MC's (when and why)very well.
                "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
                -Omar Bradley
                "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
                -Anonymous US Army logistician

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Javaman View Post
                  Regardless, as a mechanized corps it would not be considered combat effective as such
                  Considered by whom? Its divisions still had more tanks than opposing German armored divisions:

                  I can remember quite many examples of Soviet units of similar size which had a less number of tanks and still operated as mechanized units and even with some success.
                  The unit which had more than 100 tank was not destroyed by any standard.
                  Also, even if it still showed tanks on its OOB, that says nothing about the rest of it's combined arms and support elements that are necessary for it to function in any capacity as a fighting force.
                  I don't see reasons to believe that suffered that badly. For those interested in the losses of transport vehicles from 8 to 10 July 1941 were reported as follows:
                  13 Tank Division - 11 trucks, 3 tractors
                  17 Tank Division - 20 trucks, 8 tractors
                  109 Motorized Division - 1 truck
                  These were moderate losses. All the experience of the summer of 1941 demonstrated that normally losses in transport vehicles were not nearly as heavy as losses in tanks.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Losses tell little, what we need are readiness reports that demonstrate the percent of fill by MTOE, operational readiness of equipment on hand versus deadlined equipment on hand. As I understand it, no Soviet unit had 100% of fill of it's MTOE, maintenance was abysmal, readiness rates were falsified and the true picture was only revealed when these units attempted to either execute a road march or enter combat. Feeding into these issues were incomplete stocks of spare parts in support units and the depots that supported them (all the way to the factory for "obsolete"models), incomplete fill of personnel, inadequate training of maintenance and supply personnel and overall incompetent bureacratic leadership and doctrine.

                    Any report that shows lots of Soviet tanks on paper is completely misleading to the unknowing reader who automatically equates one German tank to a Soviet one and draws conclusions based on tank vs tank by the numbers. The fact is that most Soviet tanks were either not functioning mechanically, about to stop functioning or were brand new with inexperienced people driving, commanding and attempting to maintain them. This is not in any way comparable to the experienced force opposing them and is one of the most fundamental reasons why they were defeated.
                    "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
                    -Omar Bradley
                    "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
                    -Anonymous US Army logistician

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I've been reading Armegeddon in Stalingrad so my progress in this has not improved.

                      It is probably the use of language here, as 5MC is afterwards considered to be "Remnants". It is still on the situation map.

                      The counterstroke of 5MC/7MC involved 2/3rds of their inventory, so the data in the "quoted" reflects the runners.

                      The maps pictures below, which I create to aid reading, should be of use:

                      Further, I did not need to buy Book 1. Book 1 is available on pdf search engines already. I only bought book 2...

                      Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                      Alekseenko's 5 MC was not destroyed. The 13 Tank Division reported 77 BT and 32 T-26 in its two tank regiments as of 10 July, and 17 Tank Division - 3 KV, 3 T-34, 75 BT-7, 34 T-26 and 17 KhT as of 13 July. It's not clear if that means all tanks or operational only, at any rate there was a strong enough tank force remaining. Personnel losses were apparently not as heavy as losses in tanks, according to Isaev the corps without some elements reported the loss of 646 men, including 138 killed and 357 missing at Senno-Lepel.
                      Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                      Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                      Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                      Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Javaman View Post
                        Losses tell little, what we need are readiness reports that demonstrate the percent of fill by MTOE, operational readiness of equipment on hand versus deadlined equipment on hand.
                        You see, you somehow drifted from the thesis "the unit was destroyed in battle" to another one "the unit was not fit for action even before the battle began". These are very different versions actually. And losses is exactly what you need to prove or rebut the first statement.
                        As far as vehicles and weapons are concerned the 5 MC was one of the best. By 6 July it possessed the following number of motor transport:
                        HQ - 33 motorcycles, 96 automobiles, 10 tractors
                        13 TD - 60 motorcycles, 1034 automobiles, 90 tractors
                        17 TD - 123 motorcycles, 1429 automobiles, 72 tractors
                        109 MD - 295 automobiles, 9 tractors
                        8 Motorcycles Regiment - 150 motorcycles, 48 automobiles, 6 tractors.
                        That was quite a lot compared with others less lucky units.
                        readiness rates were falsified and the true picture was only revealed when these units attempted to either execute a road march or enter combat
                        Sorry, that is already a conspiracy theory. Available reports for selected units tell that most their tanks were able to start a march. Only a smaller part remained in parks and camps due to mechanical failures. And, yes, tanks don't tend to have mechanical problems when not in march or in combat, there is nothing surprising here.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yevgenii Drig in his Mekhanizirovannye korpusa RKKA v boyu notes 5th MC losses from 8-10 July: 13th TD - 82 tanks, 17th TD - 44 tanks, and 109th MD - 40 tank.

                          Seems like 5MC lost a lot of its teeth.
                          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                            You see, you somehow drifted from the thesis "the unit was destroyed in battle" to another one "the unit was not fit for action even before the battle began". These are very different versions actually. And losses is exactly what you need to prove or rebut the first statement.
                            I didn't drift away from anything, but more or less broadend the basis of my explanation. Poor maintenance, poor training, inadequate supply, etc. not only increases the attrition rate of a mechanized unit but also has an adverse effect on its operational capability and its ability to recuperate its losses after combat. Glantz makes nothing uncertain about the effects of the battles of 8-10 July on the 5th MC, it performed poorly, was chewed up with substantial losses and sent off in disorganized retreat. I see nothing in his description of events that leads me to believe that the 5th MC was anything other than combat ineffective as a Mechanized Corps.
                            Perhaps you can explain why in the days following this engagement Timoshenko ordered the 5th MC, 7th MC and 20th Army to attack Vitebsk and were soundly defeated again by 7th and 12th Pz Divs.


                            As far as vehicles and weapons are concerned the 5 MC was one of the best. By 6 July it possessed the following number of motor transport:
                            HQ - 33 motorcycles, 96 automobiles, 10 tractors
                            13 TD - 60 motorcycles, 1034 automobiles, 90 tractors
                            17 TD - 123 motorcycles, 1429 automobiles, 72 tractors
                            109 MD - 295 automobiles, 9 tractors
                            8 Motorcycles Regiment - 150 motorcycles, 48 automobiles, 6 tractors.
                            That was quite a lot compared with others less lucky units.
                            As they had come from Baikal MD recent days prior to combat on 8-10 July and were not working from their own depots, I highly suspect their numbers of mission capable vehicles would drop rather quickly.

                            Sorry, that is already a conspiracy theory. Available reports for selected units tell that most their tanks were able to start a march.
                            Starting a march is different than finishing one.

                            Only a smaller part remained in parks and camps due to mechanical failures. And, yes, tanks don't tend to have mechanical problems when not in march or in combat, there is nothing surprising here.
                            Obviously you've never been around a motor pool....
                            Seals dry out, crack, etc. and fluids leak (oil, tranny, antifreeze, etc), rodents eat wires and hoses, metals rusts, batteries go dead, small systems can corrode and seize and parts can be pilfered.
                            The only way to keep a vehicle in running order is to keep it in use and maintain it.
                            "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
                            -Omar Bradley
                            "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
                            -Anonymous US Army logistician

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I bought a copy of this book recently which is a helpful reference for 'softening' the runway for Barbarossa Derailed.

                              Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front 1941-1942: Schwerpunkt


                              http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
                              Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                              Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                              Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                              Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                              Comment

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