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SEVASTOPOL 1942: The Greatest Bombardment of them All

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  • SEVASTOPOL 1942: The Greatest Bombardment of them All

    Good evening members and friends....

    Tonight, I would like to cover the artillery operations associated with the final push to take the "fortress" of Sevastopol in June of 1942, referred to as Operation STORFANG (Sturgeon Haul).

    This final push to overcome the last Soviet defenders of the city had been planned on the heels of another 11th Army operation called TRAPPENJAGD (Bustard Hunt). Trappenjagd had been an outstanding success for Manstein's divisions, outnumbered as they were, as Kozlov's Crimean Front troops were totally outfought and outmaneuvered in 2 weeks. Three Soviet Armies composed of approximately 250,000 troops and organised into 18 divisions suffered about 28,000 dead and 147,000 captured. Nine of the 18 divisions were completely destroyed, whilst 250 tanks and over 1,100 artillery pieces were destroyed or captured, while above, 417 Soviet aircraft were destroyed.
    11th army suffered 7,588 casualties during 'Trappenjagd' including 1,703 dead and missing from it's two Corps involved (XXX & XXXXII) as well as 12 tanks, 3 assault guns and 9 artillery pieces, as well as the expenditure of 6,230 tons of ammunition, which was more than Manstein had expended during his December 1941 offensive. Manstein then had to return 22, Division to Armee Group South for the prospective counterattacks at Kharkov, and he also lost some of Richthofen's Luftwaffe units to the same operation.

    All of this activity was in preparation for the coming Operation BLAU, the German drive passing Rostov and the Don and continuing on into the Caucasus and the Volga basin, something it was made clear to Manstein by Hitler himself that would be on a very tight timetable, with no room for delay. By the 14th of May, 1942, 'Bustard Hunt' was all over. With the success of 'Bustard Hunt', then, Manstein could finally turn his attention from the Kerch Peninsula to the final push against the last of the three defense belts that had been constructed by the Soviets to protect Sevastopol,

    The units for Operation Storfang were moved back across the battle scarred Crimean Peninsula, as they assembled outside Sevastopol for the coming trial of strength. For the first time in this campaign, 11th Armee would have no Soviets to it's rear, and Manstein could devote all his resources to the fall of the city. Two weeks would be required to replenish ammunition, and for this final push, Manstein was determined that his tired units would possess as many combat multipliers as possible; five days of bombardment were to be allocated in the 'softening up' bombardment. June 2nd, 1942 proved to be the opening day of the Operation Storfang bombardment, and with Operation Fall Blau slated for June 28th, Manstein would also lose Richthofen's Fliegerkorps VIII aircraft to the Heersgruppe South summer offensive.

    Generalleutnant Johannes Zuckertort's HArko 306 (Higher Artillery Command) actually began to assemble this unprecedented collection of artillery in mid-May of 1942. Hitler and Goebbels rubbed their hands together, as Propaganda Korps newsreel cameras also gathered to document the operation.
    11th Army already possessed a single M1 Howitzer in it's inventory, and the Whermacht had great difficulty in assembling their artillery park, with the super-heavy railway artillery not arriving until Mid-May.
    The German Army had, traditionally, relied upon 10.5cm and 15cm howitzers to provide the 'backbone' for it's divisional level medium artillery in both World War I & II. The heavier pieces came under the control of the Heersartillerie , which reinforced army and army group sized operations. Korps level artillery usually composed artillery pieces between 15cm and 21cm caliber weapon systems, including 10,5cm s.K.18 pieces as well. 1940 also saw the limited deployment of Nebelwerfer, multiple rocket launchers as well, which were also grouped under the same Heersartillerie organisation.

    Although German armies had a reputation for possessing powerful heavy artillery, they actually had very little of it, and most of the weapons they had were not of German origin. Since German operational doctrine was based upon the concept of Bewegungskrieg, or maneuver warfare, greater emphasis had been placed on medium artillery weapons that could support mobile operations, not heavy artillery intended to break through heavily fortified lines or to conduct siege warfare
    German tactical doctrine much preferred to bypass heavier defenses, but in May-June of 1942 at Sevastopol, this option was a luxury that was unavailable to Manstein. Previously, the Luftwaffe had been relied upon to crush fortified localities, but Manstein was going to lose Richthofen's aircraft as well to Operation 'Blau', slated to 'jump off' on June 28.

    ARTILLERY 'PARK' ASSEMBLED BY EARLY JUNE 1942 FOR OPERATION STORFANG (Sturgeon Haul)

    schwere Artillerie Abtielung (E) 672......................................1x 80cm Railway Gun 'Dora'
    schwere Artillerie Abtielung 833............................................3x6 0cm 'Karl' Railway Mortars
    Commander: Maj. Freiherr Rudt von Collenburg.
    schwere Artillerie Batterie 458............................................... 1x42cm 'Gamma' Howitzer.
    schwere Artillerie Batterie 459............................................... 1x42cm Skoda M17.
    schwere Artillerie Abtielung 624.............................................6x 30.5cm Mortar (Czech)
    schwere Artillerie Abtielung 641............................................1x3 5.5cm M1 Howitzer
    .................................................. ................................................4x 30.5cm Mortars (Czech)
    schwere Artillerie Abtielung 815............................................6x3 0.5cm Mortars (Czech)
    Eisenbahn Artillerie Batterie 688.......................2x28cm schwere 'Bruno' railroad guns.
    schwere Artillerie Batterien 741, 742, 743..............................each 2x28cm Haubitze L/12
    schwere Artillerie Batterie 744............................................... .3x28cm Kusten Haubitze L/12
    I./schwere Artillerie Abtielung 814..........................................4x24c m H-39 Howitzers (Czech)
    II./ scwhere Artillerie Abtielung 814........................................4x24cm H-39 Howitzers (Czech)
    917./ schwere Artillerie Abtielung 767....................................3x194mm (French) GPF SP Gun
    502./ schwere Artillerie Abtielung 767....................................3x17cm K18 M.L.
    II./ Artillerie Regiment 818............................................... ........4x15cm K39 cannon.
    .................................................. .................................................8 x10cm s.K. 18
    schweres Werfer Regiment 1 (mot).........................................54x2 8-32cm Nebelwerfer 41.
    schweres Werfer Regiment 2 (mot).........................................18x1 5cm Nebelwerfer 41.
    III./ Werfer Regiment 54................................................ ...........18x15cm Nebelwerfer 41.
    II./ Werfer Lehr Regiment.......................................... ..............18x15cm Nebelwerfer 41.
    Nebelwerfer Abtielung 1(mot)............................................ .....18x15cm Nebelwerfer 41.



    DEVELOPMENT

    It's worth looking at the development of this heavier artillery in a little more detail.


    The German Army had fallen in love with 'super' heavy artillery principally after the deployment and usage of the famous "Paris Gun" in the final Ludendorff Offensives of 1918.
    This monster weapon weighed in at 256 tons and fired shells to a range of 75 miles, in a great arc of 25 miles.. It took 80 men to load and fire this piece, and each shell took fully three minutes to reach it's intended target. Difficult to use, costing millions of Reich-marks and so in-accurate that it was only really useful against area city targets anyway, no-one could predict exactly where the monster shells would actually land. It was a weapon built purely to inspire fear, awe and terror, but as a battlefield adjunct, useless in the extreme.

    As the 1930,s came to a close, the German Army became mightily concerned about it's ability to to take on the French and Czech border fortifications. Consequently, the Heerswaffenamt (Army Weapons Office) began to issue requirements to begin development of heavy artillery pieces in 1936 to two companies, Krupps and Rheinmetall-Borsig.
    Co-operation between these two competitors should have been at a premium to produce a few practical weapon systems for the emerging Wehrmacht in quantity. What actually occurred was that both competitors in this field branched out in two separate directions, presenting the Heerswaffenamt with a wide variety of often impractical prototypes, all with non-standardized calibers..
    Apparently, very little or no thought was directed toward ease of manufacture, ammunition logistics, or the many deployment issues that had to be solved. Further, war arrived sooner than expected and planned for in 1939, saddling the Whermacht with a number of impractical and expensive prototypes, which the Army was forced to accept for want of anything better.
    Krupp began simply enough by rebuilding their 1906 vintage designs into the 42cm 'Gamma' Howitzer, of which the Wehrmacht was provided with only a single example in 1940.
    Krupp engineers liked to show off their prowess at engineering, and so built a new generation of 28cm railway deployed artillery in addition to the massive and impractical 80cm railway gun 'DORA'.
    The 28cm versions were more useful, since they were inherently mobile and could lob a 284 kg shell to a range of 20 miles.
    The 80cm 'Dora' was a different kettle of fish altogether. It was iconic and made excellent propaganda, just as Josef Goebbels and Adolf Hitler wanted it to, but it was a poor battlefield weapon: huge size, slow rate of fire, inaccurate and requiring exorbitant manpower and much in the way of resources to keep it operational.
    Rhienmetall, at first, initially moved in the same engineering direction as Krupps, producing the 35.5cm M1 howitzer, of which it delivered just one example to the German Army, which arrived for service in October of 1940 and was present with Manstein's 11th Armee in the Crimea for the 1941 campaign. Rheinmetalls engineers, however, were more than a little interested in the value and effect of 'plunging fire', based on their analysis of the effects of Krupps and Skoda artillery pieces around the Belgian fortresses of Liege in 1914. To this end, their range of 60cm 'Karl' super heavy mortars were developed and manufactured for use, but these also proved to be impractical as battlefield weapons, something amply demonstrated in their usage in Warsaw in 1944.
    The 124 ton 'Karl' series had impressive statistics on paper. It could lob a 1,700kg or a 2,170kg shell to a range of 3-4 miles, and on a semi-mobile platform to boot. But the range was too short, and it was dreadfully exposed to counter battery fire, something which the Soviets excelled at.

    All of this 'super' heavy artillery did, however, make great footage for newsreels, and contributed mightily to increasing front line morale. Hardly the effect intended, but better than nothing. After all, the German Army could use all the morale boosters it could find as the war in the East turned increasingly sour.

    SEVASTOPOL, LATE MAY-EARLY JUNE 1942.

    The logistic arrangements for Zuckertort's gunners at Sevastopol were complex and daunting.

    20 different types of calibers created a quartermaster's nightmare, which Zuckertort and Manstein struggled to overcome. Zuckertort managed to collect 183,750 x 10.5cm rounds and 47,300 x 15cm rounds for the ammunition hungry medium artillery. 23,000 Nebelwerfer rocket rounds were also available for usage, but the 'super' heavy guns arrived with precious little ammunition to speak of.
    Railway gun 'Dora' arrived at Sevastopol with only 48 rounds for use, and the three Rheinmetall 'Karl' Mortars ('Karl', 'Odin' & 'Thor') possessed between them only 122 x 60cm rounds of ammunition for the five day bombardment. The twin 42cm howitzers arrived with just 276 rounds for the pair of them, whilst the single M1 possessed just 352 rounds of ammunition for it's 35.5cm tube.

    The result was that the 'teeth' of this heavy firepower rested squarely with the Czech built 30.5cm models and the 14,9cm s.FH 37 (t) howitzers, hardly the propaganda ideal, but the newsreels would be unable to show the differences. German engineering ability would have to take a sideline to battlefield practicality, something that Hitler and Goebbels would be made only gradually aware of.

    Preparations for the five day slug-fest began with Zuckertort authorizing three Beobachtungs-Abteilungen (Observation Battalions) to conduct a thorough survey in detail of all visable Soviet positions, fortifications and field-works. The period of April-May of 1942 saw the drawing up of detailed charts that divided the battlefield into a series of 'kill-boxes', and assigned a German name to every major/minor Soviet position and fortification.
    These maps were use not only by Zuckertort's gunners, but provided air target maps for Richthofen's close support aircraft missions as well. Zuckertort's HArko306 would then direct all of 11th Armee's 'Heersartillerie', in addition to LIV Armeekorps subordinate and divisional level artillery pieces.
    XXX Korps Artillery was to be directed by General der Artillerie Robert Martinek's Arko 110, with the Romanian Mountain Corps Artillery incorporated into the fire plan, but semi-autonimous, with it's own observers. Richthofen controlled and directed his own strike aircraft.
    The style for this artillery preparation 'shoot' was methodical rather than 'massed'. It was based upon the 'shoot-observe-shoot' concept, not only to conserve ammunition, but to allow the gunners and observers to develop their fire plan as they went along.

    THE SOVIETS

    General-Major Ivan E. Petrov had been expecting a resumption of Manstien;s offensive.

    STAVKA, however, did not believe it could last for any more than 2 weeks.

    Consequently, the Soviet High Command had funneled all their resources and reserves into Kozlavs Kerch Peninsula positions, and these had been trumped and destroyed during Operation 'Bustard Hunt'.
    In fact, Petrov's gunners were unprepared for a protracted slugging match.
    The Soviet artillery commander was one General-Major of Artillery Nikolai K. Ryzhi. Six Army level artillery units were present for the Soviet side, three medium and three light.
    These units possessed a total of 156 artillery pieces.....
    36 x 152mm ML-20 Howitzers, 12 x 155mm Schnieder M1917 Howitzers, 4 x 122mm A19 guns, 40 x 107mm M1910/30 guns and about 60 x 76.2mm F-22 guns. While the ML-20's had better range than the German's s.FH18 15cm howitzers, many of Ryzhi's guns were in poor condition after more than 10 months of continuous use; in the 18th Guards Artillery Regiment, for example, the ML-20s had used 80-90% of their barrel life and the 107mm guns had used 90-100%. Firing guns with worn out barrels decreased their accuracy and increased the chances of a malfunction, including burst barrels that could injure the crew. Ammunition was also in short supply. The ML-20s were in decent shape with 390 rounds/gun but the 155mm howitzers had only 75 rounds per gun. The 122mm had 100, and the 107mm only 158. This meant that Petrov's heaviest artillery had to conserve it's fire and that there was insufficient ammunition for a long battle

    The 76mm guns were in much better technical shape and had about 300 rounds/gun, plus another 900 rounds/gun stored in warehouses in Sevastopol, making them the most reliable- if not most effective- Soviet artillery during the the final battle for Sevastopol. In addition, there was a single multiple rocket-launcher unit- Major Dmitri D. Kush-Zharko's 53rd Guards Mortar Battalion, with 12 BM-8 82mm launchers.
    In contrast to Petrov;s impoverished artillery ammunition supply, most of Manstein's medium artillery started the battle with 5 or 6 basic loads, with more en route
    Should the Black Sea Fleet be able to run the gauntlet to deliver more ammunition, most Soviet artillery was so worn that many were operating in a VERY degraded condition.

    Fliegerkorps VIII were the German asset that made the most impression on the defenders.

    Stuka attacks only became more and more accurate, even though the greater majority of bombs were only general purpose 50 kg, 250 kg and 500 kg ammunition.
    The aircraft of Hoffman's I./KG 100 dropped heavy munitions of 1000-2500 kg against Soviet targets.

    THE BOMBARDMENT BEGINS

    At 0540 hours on June 2, Czech built 14.9cm s.FH 37(t) howitzers of sAA 737 fired the opening shots of Operation 'Storfang'.. Manstein looked on through 'scissors' field binoculars.
    The shelling started slowly, with registration fire gradually zeroing in on Soviet positions in the main defense belt of the Meckenzievy Mountains. Then the Division level 10.5cm and 15cm howitzers joined in at 0600hrs, firing three round missions against specific targets in the security belt. However, most medium guns fired no more than 6 to 12 rounds on the first day. German forward observers would wait for the dust to settle and assess the effect on targets- either ordering a repeat fire mission or recommending moving on to the next target on the list. Overhead, the Hs126Bs also passed on spotting reports to HArko 306. Two 60cm Mortars, 'Odin' and 'Thor' each fired one test round, then remained silent for the next four days. Most of the other heavy artillery fired a few rounds each but the two 28cm 'schwere Bruno' railroad guns fired 104 rounds and 2 batteries of obsolete 28cm howitzers fired 330 rounds. At 1100 hours the corps-level artillery joined in with 21cm mortars firing at forward Soviet positions.
    Zuckertort was hoping against hope that Soviet artillery would respond, to be subsequently targeted and destroyed.
    But the wily Soviet gunners remained.......silent.
    Richthofen's aircraft dropped more high explosive on the first day than Zuckertort;s gunners. Based only 60 miles away, Fliegerkorps aircraft could fly three sorties a day with maximum bomb loads.
    June 3 and 4 saw the German gunners firing much less ammunition with mostly medium artillery pieces, and only minor 'shoots' from the 30.5cm mortars. Directed mostly on a few key hills of the right flank in sector IV, this area was to be the focus of LIV Armeekorps main effort.
    The 'Gamma' Mortar joined in, firing 30 x 42cm rounds against Olberg Hill. Haccius Ridge was hit with the 24cm howitzers. Despite the intensity of the bombardment against Haccius Ridge, the results were unspectactular, with 514th Rifle regiment reporting only only 32 casualties in the five days of the bombardment. To the right of the ridge, Naval Infantry of the Soviet 79th Brigade sat on three hills at the juncture of the Bel'bek River and the Kamyschly Ravine. This position was called 'Bunkerberg', 'Stellenberg' and 'Eisenbahnberg'.
    Zuckertort zeroed in his attention on these three positions, and the 'Eisenbahnberg' was set for 'special' attention, with no less than 20 'Gamma' mortar rounds loosed at this position, plus 30 x 30.5cm rounds and no less than 40 x 28cm rounds.
    The results, according to Soviet sources, were again disappointing, as the concentrated attention managed to kill or incapacitate only 20% of the heavily dug in Naval infantry.
    Zuckertorts artillery now mostly focused against Petrov's III & IV defense sectors.
    Just a single battery of 30.5cm mortars supported the southern sector. The norther sector, where Manstein had placed his 'schwerepunkt', got all the attention and all the metal from the overworked gunners of the German artillery park.
    Petrov, by great force of effort, managed to replace the barrels for 'Alexandrs Coastal Battery No.30', and this most obvious of targets was, in fact fully operational without the Germans being aware of it.
    Consequently, Petrov had the 305mm monsters remain silent during the bombardment that was to follow, and at 0535 hours on June 5th, 1942, 'Dora' was directed to fire, not at the obvious target of 'Maxim Gorki 1', but at an abandoned military barracks at Meckenzievy Mountain Station. 'Dora' fired a single round. Zuckertort then directed 'Dora' to fire another round at Coastal Battery No.2, equipped with 4 x 100mm guns, near the harbor.
    Eight rounds were wasted on this pathetic target, which was not even armored. Meanwhile, 'Alexandrs Coastal Battery No.30' opened up, suddenly lobbing 5 rounds at a German observation post- and missed. In all likelyhood, the hasty field repairs had probably failed to bore-sight the turrets correctly, and they were no longer capable of accurate shooting.
    Zuckertort now had prime proof that Coastal Battery No.30 was, in fact, operational.

    Manstein required that a number of targets be neutralized before the ground assault 'jumped-off'.

    Despite this new intelligence, Zuckertort did NOT commit 'Dora' to fire at Coastal Battery No.30.
    Instead, the dawn of June 6th saw Zuckertort committing 'Dora' to fire no less than 6 rounds at "Fort Stalin". Just a single round fell within 40 yards of the target. Another 8 'Dora' shells were lobbed at "Fort Molotov", which Zuckertort and his observers did not realise was just another fortified hilltop.
    Hoffman's KG/100 joined in the fray, dropping 10 x 2,500kg 'Max' and 4 x 1,800kg 'Satan' bombs on Alexandrs Battery No.30 on the 5th of June. No direct hits were scored.
    Losing patience, Zuckertort directed the 'Thor' Mortar to be moved and sluggishly emplaced onto a hillside during the night of June 5-6. His target, at less than 4,000 yards, was 'Alexandrs Battery No,30'. The Great Mortar opened up it's account at 1700 hours of June 6, firing a total of 16 x 60cm concrete piercing shells. The 7th shot from this monster piece scored a direct hit on the eastern 305mm turret.
    A great chunk of armor plate was torn off the top of the turret and one gun barrel was damaged. In addition, a fire started in the turret and the ventilation system caused smoke to spread throughout the underground battery complex. Alexandr himself was still secure inside his command post, known as 'Bastion 1' to the Germans, but the bombardment also knocked out his internal communication lines. Although 'Alexandrs Coastal Battery No.30' continued to fire occasionally from it's other turret- which was damaged by a bomb the next day- it's active role in the defense of Sevastopol was nearing an end
    June 6, and Zuckertort continued to habitually waste 'Dora's' limited ammunition against a variety of mundane targets, instead of concentrating it on against a single target.
    A fragile weapons system, technical defects reared their ugly heads after just a few rounds. 'Dora' was to unleash 25 of it's 48 rounds before Manstein's assault troopers 'jumped off'.

    It appears that the biggest gun ever built achieved virtually nothing
    Frustrated, Manstein had to fall back on his Flak Regiment for accurate shots against the many Soviet bunkers. How ironic it must have seemed that all the 'big' firepower was proving to be almost worthless, something that Hitler and Goebbels came to realize only gradually.

    Rittner's Flak gunners would fire a total of 181,787 rounds during 'Storfang' and inflicted far more damage on Petrov's defenses than 'Dora'
    At the conclusion of the 5th day of the bombardment, Zuckertort's artillery had fired 42,595 rounds at Sevastopol.
    Rather than the popularly depicted 'super-heavy' weapons like 'Dora' and 'Karl', it was the ubiquitous 10cm s.K18 cannon, 15cm s.FH 37 howitzer and 21cm 'Morser' that were the predominant weapons used in this phase. During these 5 days, Fliegerkorps VIII dropped over 2,264 tons of bombs on Sevastopol, including 14 x 2,500kg, 5 x 1,800kg, 3 x 1,700kg and seventeen 1,400 kg heavy bombs
    From the Soviet perspective, just how effective was the 5 day firestorm against the Soviet positions?

    Many front line bunkers were destroyed or damaged.
    Trench works and underground shelters were far more resilient to artillery fire, especially the railroad tunnel on the south side of Mekenzievy Mountain.
    Soviet personnel losses were, actually, relatively light. 514th regiment on Haccius ridge reported only 12 dead and 20 wounded during June 2-6. an aggregate of less than 3%, despite this position being the target of daily heavy artillery and more than a little Luftwaffe attention.
    5 days of grinding fire had produced a whole bunch of Soviet soldiers even more grimly determined to hold fast at their positions and sell their lives dearly.
    Their bunkers and trenches had collapsed under the strain, but the men themselves held firm, something the Germans were to learn all too soon.
    Their Political Kommissars would have been pleased.

    HITLER AT RASTENBURG

    Hitler sat with Goebbels at Rastenburg, following the battle and reading communiques from 11th Armee group with keen interest. His timetable for 'Fall Blau' was at stake, after all, and Manstein sent a steady stream of communiques back to 'Der Chef'.
    Hitler was most interested in the activities of 'Dora' in particular, but he discovered something about this most 'super' of all weapons systems that was not to his taste at all.
    Most rounds from 'Dora' tended to be 'overs', landing harmlessly in Severnaya Bay. At 1300 hours on X-Day (June 7), Hitler received a message from Manstein that must have made his blood boil, stating that 'Dora' had fired ten rounds against a Soviet ammunition dump known as 'White Cliffs'.The depot, on a reverse slope, was said to have been blown up by 'Dora', a 'fact' that neither Soviet nor German forces could confirm or deny. Given 'Dora's' lack of high angle fire, the position of the dump on a reverse slope and the proximity of the water to the position, 'White Cliffs" were most likely blown to pieces by Richthofen's bombers instead
    .
    Once again, "Dora" had failed to perform.

    Manstein then got a cable from "Der Chef himself"...

    The Fuhrer was much upset because 'Dora' fired at the ammunition dump "White Cliffs". The Fuhrer stated that this gun is only intended to fire at concrete emplacements"
    Manstein wanted to know just who informed Hitler of this fact.
    Hitler was, in fact, right and correct to be upset that the heaviest weapon provided to AOK11 was firing at an obscure target instead of "supporting the Schwerpunkt". The truth was that the accuracy of this expensive monster was so poor that it made very little sense indeed to dump 80cm projectiles on targets that were so close to German troops.
    On X-Day, the first day of the ground assault, Zuckertort's gunners had loosed off 3,939 tons of ammunition, 60% MORE than was fired during the five day preparation bombardment to soften up Soviet defenses for "Sturgeon Haul". Additionally, Richthofen's aircraft made a maximum effort for X-day, dropping 1,300 tons of bombs on Soviet positions. Altogether, over 5,000 tons of munitions were expended for June 7.
    On paper, there were a total of 101,238 Soviet defenders for the beginning of 'Storfang' The Black Sea Fleet managed to land 15,000 men of the Naval Brigade, so Petrov had begun 'Storfang' with approximately 65,000 combat troops, the remainder being support personnel, and another 18,000 men within Sevastopol itself.
    But the fact of the matter was that Petrov was trying to hold 23 miles of defensive works with too few troops and not nearly enough artillery and almost no tanks. His chances of success were slim indeed.

    Despite much talk of 'Fortress Sevastopol" for propaganda purposes, Petrov's remaining defenses north of Svernaya Bay were really just a ramshackle collection of fortified hilltops, badly knocked about coastal batteries, and archaic forts left over from the Crimean War
    Sevastopol's fate was decided in the two week slug-fest for the high ground around Mekenzievy Mountain. Both sides had suffered thousands of casualties but the Germans had triumphed due to superior small unit leadership and plentiful air and artillery support. For the most part, Soviet soldiers fought well and died well on Mekenzievy Mountain- there was no shortage of heroes in their ranks, either. Hundreds disappeared, buried in shell craters and rubble. Even in recent years, diggers in Sevastopol continue to unearth dozens of remains of fallen Red army soldiers on the mountain.
    Claudius Germanicus Drusus Nero

    '
    Last edited by Drusus Nero; 04 Jan 20, 20:59.
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  • #2
    Took a major general and some 1200 men about six weeks to put the 80cm railway gun onto action. IIRC, it disappeared after Sebastapol. One of the enduring mysteries of the war, because it never tuned up anywhere afterwards. Only other time it was used was to briefly shell Warsaw. Even had its own flak unit, pioneer unit and military police unit to round up local labor to build the twin curved tracks required to emplace the monster. It "traveled "on at least six to eight trains just to reach it's destination!

    I've got a reference book specifically about this weapon in my library. An incredible technological triumph of total tactical uselessness. As one might imagine, the rate of fire was s-l-o-o-o-w.

    It wasn't even the best way to defeat heavy fortifications. The Roschling shell, which could be fired from standard artillery pieces, was far superior - so superior that Hitler ordered them locked up and forbid their use without his personal approval, which apparently he never gave.

    Dora Gerat was the ultimate Freudian compensatory weapon for a sexually ambiguous guy with only one testicle, matched in that category only by the V2 missiles "erupting" from mighty concrete blockhouses. Only things missing were the brass bands and fireworks.

    "Just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should..or that it's even a good idea."
    Jurassic Park
    Note the special "ladder" track required to accurately move and aim this monster, dragging its ammunition cars behind it. Two diesel-electric locomotives were built into the base of the gun to provide motive power.

    Last edited by Mountain Man; 04 Jan 20, 13:27.
    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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    • #3
      Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

      Comment


      • #4
        Successful railroad guns:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_gun
        The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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        • #5
          Order of Battle for June 7th, 1942, "X-Day" and 'Jump-Off' for Operation "STORFANG" ("Sturgeon Haul")

          AXIS FORCES

          Armeegruppe 11 (Generaloberst Erich von Manstein)
          LIV Armeekorps (General der Kavallerie Erik Hansen)
          22. Infanterie-Division (Generalmajor Ludwig Wolff)
          24. Infanterie-Division (Generalleutnant Hans von Tettau)
          50. Infanterie-Division (Generalleutnant Friederich Schmidt)
          132. Infanterie-Division (Generalleutnant Fritz Lindemann)
          Sturmgeschutz-Abtielung 190
          Sturmgeschutz-Abtielung 197
          XXX Armeekorps (General der Artillerie Maximilian Fretter-Pico)
          28. Jager-Division (General der Infanterie Johann Sinnhuber)
          72 Infanterie-Division (General der Artillerie Philipp Muller-Gebhard)
          170. Infanterie-Division (Generalleutnant Erwin Sander)
          Sturmgeschutz-Abtielung 249

          Romanian Mountain Corps (General-Maior Gheorghe Avramescu)
          1st Mountain Division (General de Brigade Constantin Rascanu)
          18th Infantry Division (General-Maior Radu Baldescu)
          Fliegerkorps VIII (Generaloberst Wolfram von Richthofen)


          SOVIETS

          Coastal Army (General-Major Ivan E. Petrov)


          Defensive Sector I:
          109th Rifle Division (General-Major Petr G. Novikov)
          388th Rifle Division (Colonel Nikolai Sharev)

          Defensive Sector II:
          386th Rifle Division (Colonel N.E. Skutel'nik)
          7th Naval Infantry Brigade (Colonel Y.I. Zhidilov)
          9th Naval Infantry Brigade (Colonel N.V. Blagoveschensky)

          Defensive Sector III:
          25th Rifle Division (General-Major Trofim Kolomiets)
          345th Rifle Division (Colonel Nikolai Gus)
          8th Naval Infantry Brigade (Colonel P.F. Gorpishchenko)
          79th Naval Infantry Brigade (Colonel Alexsei S. Potapov)

          Defensive Sector IV:
          95th Rifle Division (Colonel Aleksandr G. Kapitokhin)
          172nd Rifle Division (Colonel Ivan Laskin)

          AVIATION:
          3 OAG VVS-ChF (Colonel G.G. Dzyuba)
          Last edited by Drusus Nero; 04 Jan 20, 20:49.
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          Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
          GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
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          • #6
            Thanks to Mountain Man and Mark Twain for their replys. I particularly like the additional information associated with the Railway Gun 'Dora', and we can all begin to realise just what a gigantic 'White Elephant" it really was.

            I had also thought of providing links for pocket biographies of the commanders on the spot, but I prefer to let the members and guests do their own research with Wikipedia if they are especially interested.

            Meanwhile, I'm going to concentrate on another aspect of the Crimea, mainly the behaviour of the German Occupation during their barbaric Occupation of the Crimean Peninsula. This will appear on a seperate thread.

            I'm beginning work on it as we speak, so look forward to tuning in to another episode of the Claudius Germanicus Drusus Nero Crimean Show very soon.

            Drusus
            Last edited by Drusus Nero; 04 Jan 20, 20:47.
            My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

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            GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
            Lincoln-Douglas Debates

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            • #7
              Just as an appendix to the above, I though I might also provide a list of Soviet Coastal Battery positions in the Crimea as well.

              So here goes!

              COASTAL BATTERIES AT SEVASTOPOL......1921-1942

              Battery No.2- ....................Four 100mm guns.
              Battery No. 10-..................Four 203mm guns.
              Battery No.12-...................Four 152mm guns.
              Battery No.13-....................Four 120mm guns.
              Battery No. 14-...................Four 152mm and three 130mm guns.
              Battery No, 18-...................Four 152mm guns.
              Battery No.30-....................Four 305mm guns.
              Battery No 35-....................Four 305mm guns.
              My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

              Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
              GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
              Lincoln-Douglas Debates

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              • #8
                Actually, the British got this one absolutely right.



                One squadron of bombers-- which could flexibly do other missions and do them over a much larger radius of action-- could deliver a blow that the Dora coulda, woulda, shoulda...

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Drusus Nero View Post
                  Just as an appendix to the above, I though I might also provide a list of Soviet Coastal Battery positions in the Crimea as well.

                  So here goes!

                  COASTAL BATTERIES AT SEVASTOPOL......1921-1942

                  Battery No.2- ....................Four 100mm guns.
                  Battery No. 10-..................Four 203mm guns.
                  Battery No.12-...................Four 152mm guns.
                  Battery No.13-....................Four 120mm guns.
                  Battery No. 14-...................Four 152mm and three 130mm guns.
                  Battery No, 18-...................Four 152mm guns.
                  Battery No.30-....................Four 305mm guns.
                  Battery No 35-....................Four 305mm guns.
                  Wow, that seems like even more than at Corregidor. 1942 was a bad year for forts, wasn't it?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Drusus Nero View Post
                    Trappenjagd had been an outstanding success for Manstein's divisions, outnumbered as they were
                    '
                    Seems that we've discussed that earlier. Axis forces in Crimea (including Romanians, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine) had about 1/3 million men and were far from outnumbered (contrary to an impression you can get from the Manstein's memoirs)
                    Three Soviet Armies composed of approximately 250,000 troops and organised into 18 divisions suffered about 28,000 dead and 147,000 captured.
                    Forczyk, I guess? According to German documents themselves those claims were a little inflated:
                    https://forum.axishistory.com/viewto...c2fa1#p2139988
                    The same applies to claims of POWs at the Sevastopol.
                    11th army suffered 7,588 casualties during 'Trappenjagd' including 1,703 dead and missing
                    whereas these numbers are an understatment:
                    https://image.ibb.co/e5tPjf/00717.jpg
                    to which Romanian casualties should be also added.

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                    • #11
                      IIRC the 22nd panzer division left a panzer battalion behind to help with the seige. See the chapter on the operation in Glantz's "To the Gates of Stalingrad"

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                      • #12
                        You guyz are forgetting the MOAB and the Gulf war.

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0s1ObJmhw4
                        Credo quia absurdum.


                        Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                          Actually, the British got this one absolutely right.



                          One squadron of bombers-- which could flexibly do other missions and do them over a much larger radius of action-- could deliver a blow that the Dora coulda, woulda, shoulda...
                          But they did not use it properly.
                          Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post

                            But they did not use it properly.
                            Did you ever read about the attack on Le Havre? 617 Squadron (the Dam Busters) came in over the port in daylight at about 15,000 to 20,000 feet and using the British developed SABS bombsight (their equivalent of the Norden-- yes, the British had one), precision dropped 22 Twenty-two! Tallboys on the harbor destroying the R-boat pens, and obliterating every thing floating in the harbor in a giant artificial tsunami. One S-boat that was out on patrol survived. It was the only S-boat available on D-Day...

                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Astonia



                            The 617th was followed by a raid by 221 Bomber Command Lancasters that flattened most of the rest of the harbor and a good part of the town. That night 223 Lancasters and 100 Halifax arrived to give the harbor and town another pasting. They used a mix of 5,00 lbs., 1,000 lbs., and 4,000 lbs. "cookies" on the town.

                            The Tallboys were calculated to about 10 rotations per second at a terminal velocity of about 1000 fps. Basically, they had become the equivalent of a 10,000 lbs. artillery shell plummeting into the target at near vertical.

                            The whole attack lasted maybe 30 minutes and the Kriegsmarine in Le Havre was all but 100% finished. Their "bomb proof" docks smashed to rubble, every boat in the harbor destroyed or wrecked beyond use, the quays, docks, etc., all smashed.



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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Drusus Nero View Post

                              I had also thought of providing links for pocket biographies of the commanders on the spot, but I prefer to let the members and guests do their own research with Wikipedia if they are especially interested.
                              Sources for your articles?
                              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

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