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  • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
    but in the final run it happened to be more harmful for Germans.
    This quote applies to Hitler's decision and subsequent invasion of the Soviet Union.

    Art, staying on topic what was the first Soviet/German armored clash, in you opinion, that the implementation of new Red Army tank tactics began to bare fruit?

    Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

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    • Balck/Mellanthin also have a significantly different appraisal of the Vosges Mountain campaign (Balck commanded Army Group G) relative to the US perspective and a different appraisal of Arracourt/halting of the US 3rd Army.

      It seems that the german memoirs lacked knowledge of the opposite side so they just put down what they believed at the time, with some probable spin.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post

        The German Ostheer as a whole were thinking the same thing by November of 1941 yet they continued to believe "superior Germanic race" emphasizing the individual soldiers "willpower" could overcome insurmountable manpower, resources and armaments as well as the Soviet winter with no winter clothing for a 1.7 million man force.
        Actually, there is a very compelling piece in Guderian's memoir (which is why I advocate at least reading memoirs):

        "On October 6th our HQ was moved forward to Sevsk. 4th PzD was attacked by Russian tanks to the south of Mtsensk and went through some bad hours. This was the first occasion on which the vast superiority of the Russian T34 to our tanks became plainly apparent.

        ...

        "The 4th PzD's task for the 9th of October was to take Mtsensk. Descriptions of the quality and, above all, of the new tactical handling of the Russian tanks were very worrying.[Bold is mine.]

        ...
        "The Russians attacked us frontally with infantry, while they sent their tanks in, in mass formation, against our flanks. They were learning." [Katukov was the tank brigade commander with experience.]

        ...

        "For the first time during this exacting campaign Colonel Eberbach [cdr of the division panzer brigade] gave the impression of being exhausted, and the exhaustion that was now noticeable was less physical than spiritual. It was indeed startling to see how deeply our best officers had been affected by the latest battles." [Bold is mine]


        Pretty candid assessment in a memior. n'est pas?

        I should add that I picked up Balck's tactics from his memoirs and interviews post war.
        I found von Mellenthin's, who served as an intel officer for Rommel in the Afrika Korps, insights to Rommel's personality and leadership methods interesting, The same is true of his knowledge of working above and under Balck from Chir River ('42) through Lvov-Sandomir Operation ('44).
        Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 23 Jan 20, 13:58.
        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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        • Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
          It seems that the german memoirs lacked knowledge of the opposite side so they just put down what they believed at the time, with some probable spin.
          Examples from von Mellenthin:

          "On the Russian side the tank crews, particularly in the Motorized Corps [this is November-December '42 [when the mot. corps were being hastily assembled with lend-lease tanks], had hardly any training. This shsortcoming was one of the essential reasons for the German victory on 19 December."

          "From the outset Hoth met with furisous opposition [in the relief operation for Stalingrad] from large forces of Russian tanks and infantry., under General Vatutin, one of their ablest commanders."

          At note on Germans, "General Guderian says of his visit to Ninth Army: ... the ninety Porsche Tigers, which were operating with Model's army, were incapable of close-range fighting since they lacked sufficient ammunition for their guns, and this defect was aggravated by the fact they possessed no machine gun. Once they broke into the enemy's infantry zone they literally had to go quail-shooting with cannons. They did not manage to neutralize, let alone destroy, the enemy rifles and machine guns, so that the infantry was unable to follow up behind them. By the time they reached the Russian artillery they were on their own. ... Model's attack bogged down after some six miles."

          This is good stuff for someone who has not been on a battlefield. I read the German memoirs and found these tidbits were fascinating, but the question I came away with, as an intelligence officer who had to understand the Soviet Army, was 'how did the Red Army win?"

          The short answer is "The Red Army blasted the conventional wisdom that an army had to experience catastrophic defeat to reform after a war."[Like the Prussian Army under Scharnhorst.] The Red Army through their immediate use of war experiences changed their army in the face of catastrophic defeat. I remember from the German memoirs they often attributed to Red Army soldiers their ability to improvise--which is not an unthinking foe.
          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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          • I have also read Panzer Leader by Guderian as well as the David Sathel books on Kiev, Typhoon, The Battle Of Moscow and his new book Retreat From Moscow which I am 3/4 through. I am also at the halfway point of Glantz' book Zhukov's Greatest Defeat.

            Stahel uses quotes from the Guderian book many times in all 4 of the books I mentioned. Yes Guderian did "whine" about the Soviet T - 34 and KV's but as I stated here in an earlier post the Soviet tank production plants were not churning out T 34's and KV's at the time of Guderian's gripes. The Germans were lucky that this was the case or their winter flexible defensive operations, which used tank supported kampfgruppes at crisis point where the Soviets had achieved a major breakthrough with tanks and counterattacked the Soviet forces which were overextended after these breakthroughs making easy prey for the German armored counterattacks, might have had a different outcome. Had the Soviets had a much larger quantity of the T - 34's and KV's the breakthroughs could have been followed up successfully. Smaller Soviet breakthroughs with tanks were dealt with by individual German divisions with no tanks (some had StuG 3's) who also made the overextended Soviet units which was usually regimental and mostly battalion in size and made them pay dearly in blood. Whether the German crisis areas were supported with tanks or not they always zeroed in with their artillery and heavy MG's making sure their defensive positions had good fields of fire supporting each other with overlapping fields of fire not just frontal.The Germans used the terrain to accomplish this much better then the Soviet forces which were commanded at the divisional/regimental and battalion/company level by commanders with little or no combat experience at all during this period.

            The new Stahel book leans more to the German side but he uses Soviet sources as well (some through Glantz' books). Zhukov's Greatest Defeat is tilted toward the Soviet sources. Both books together are ideal for a study of the 41 - 42 east front operations.

            The Red Army was learning and Guderian had noticed this however they still had a long way to go.
            Last edited by Kurt Knispel; 23 Jan 20, 16:12.
            Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
              That means Glantz' relied on them.
              Check. Don't read memoirs .

              On a more serious note, does Glantz actually substantially rely on them, or is that a guess on your part?

              That said it should be noted that all memoirs are self serving to some degree. Can't remember the specific German general, but a few years ago read how one commander proved how 'humane' he was by allowing soviet wounded to be returned to their own lines. Wounded need men to care for them, thus this act of humanity was nothing more than weakening the fighting strength of those opposing him.

              Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
              Quoting my earlier post:

              https://forums.armchairgeneral.com/f...46#post5080098
              In other words both sides failed to achieve their positive goals, but in the final run it happened to be more harmful for Germans.
              And also issues with coverage of particular tactical episodes. There is a pretty huge topic on axishistory, I don't want to dive deep into offtopic subject here.
              As stated earlier by KK, that could apply to The Great Patriotic War in general. What can be stated is that Zhukov over extended himself, and was beaten as a result during this specific phase.
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              • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                I don't think that you have a correct idea. From autumn 1942 heavy tanks were assigned to heavy tank regiments which were equipped with either KVs and Churchillы. Or in some instances with both KV and Churchills. Presence of heavy tanks in other units could be only exceptional.
                Only 253 of 301 Churchill's reached the SU, and by 1943 many were in T-34 units as evidenced by Kursk and Desna. What the Churchill gave those medium tank units was a heavy tank with better armour and, more importantly, the best anti armour gun on any Red Army tank, until the end of 1943.

                Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                Why? It's essentially the same tank with a different gun.
                It's not just about the additional weight of the gun and its mounting, or the additional space taken up within the turret. The IS-1 was already unbalanced, its turret was too far forward. This was exasperated by the far larger gun, so much so that the Soviets were unable to increase the armour of the turret front, to a desired thickness of 130mm, by less than a ton. With the 122mm, both the tank overall, and its turret in particular, were seriously unbalanced, effecting agility.


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                • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                  Check. Don't read memoirs .

                  On a more serious note, does Glantz actually substantially rely on them, or is that a guess on your part?
                  Glantz read memoirs, German and Soviet. While one can say most memoirs will be self-serving, it is a perspective that can be somewhat balanced with a saltshaker. The Soviet memoirs were complicated by censorship and Party lines. The art of reading Soviet memoirs, much like reading Pravda and Izvestia, was to read between the lines. One would have to buy subsequent new editions to compare any changes made by censorship allowances. Zhukov's memoirs had eleven editions. The 11th edition had added material not in previous edition due to Gorbachev's policy changes. Before Gorbachev, Khrushchev during his campaign to denigrate Stalin's "Cult of Personality" had an impact on memoirs having more roles and contributions made by military leadership in the war. (To include Khrushchev's and Brezhnev's contributions. The beat went on.)

                  The Soviet Military Journal under Gorbachev ran series of articles and interviews showing the material in memoirs, such as Rokossovsky and Sandalov, that were cut out by censorship.

                  For most the post-war period, Soviet memoirs portrayed the Soviet Military man which would avoid faults and foibles. But occasionally one could find an inference that one commander did not think another commander and/or unit was in the right place or time or position during an operation.

                  Glantz used German situation maps in conjunction with the Soviet memoirs and operational studies with Soviet schematic maps to make his very valuable contribution in detailed day by day reconstruction of battles and operations.

                  Glantz was my mentor in introducing me to Soviet materials after I had read everything in English, and how I had to read them and cross reference--its an art form.

                  I just exchanged emails with him the past couple of days. He is sending me some material on katyusha rocket units that was missing pages in the Red Army General Staff Study document that I had xeroxed decades ago in his Soviet Studies Office at Ft. Leavenworth, KS. He's also working on a new book.

                  I should add that reading works by current Russian military historians who are making inroad to the archives, have historian methodologies of varying degrees and their citations often do not let one replicate their readings of sources to validate their interpretation. But, the archival information has been a big contribution in re-looking evaluation the eastern front.
                  Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 24 Jan 20, 03:54.
                  Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                    Check. Don't read memoirs .
                    I'm not that radical. I'm just saying that you should be careful about them.
                    On a more serious note, does Glantz actually substantially rely on them, or is that a guess on your part?
                    The US Army developed a veritable fanclub of Raus and Mellenthin toward 80s. Their actions were widely cited as an example of who to deal with Warsaw block armor in WWIII should it happen. See characteristic publications here:
                    https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=116000
                    There was also a description somewhere on this forum Raus and Mellenthin's visited a US staff in Germany in the Cold War giving a them lecture on tactics, it's pretty indicative.
                    Of course, Glantz couldn't be unaware of that.
                    What can be stated is that Zhukov over extended himself, and was beaten as a result during this specific phase
                    I don't think so. In any case Zhukov is another author with notoriously inaccurate memoirs.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                      Only 253 of 301 Churchill's reached the SU, and by 1943 many were in T-34 units as evidenced by Kursk and Desna.
                      What T-34 units exactly? I'm pretty sure that they were actually mostly heavy tanks regiments which were supposed to have heavy tanks by design.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                        What T-34 units exactly? I'm pretty sure that they were actually mostly heavy tanks regiments which were supposed to have heavy tanks by design.
                        You're being overly pedantic here. I've already given 2 examples of Churchills used alongside T-34's during Soviet offensives in 1943. This was simply because Churchills could keep up with the mediums, something the vast majority of KV-1's could not do.

                        It is the capability of a tank that determines which tactics that can be employed. In the Churchill case, overall it was probably the best protected tank in the Red Army, reliable compared with T-34's, agile, with excellent cross country performance. It was best used as a cutting edge weapon. In comparison, the IS-2 is a lumbering, slow reacting beast, but with a far more powerful and effective armament upon a hit. It is a follow up weapon system, as outlined in the orders this thread is about. However, unlike most KV's, the IS-2 was reliable, and also had decent flotation, and therefore, also could be used alongside medium tanks.

                        As you can see, 3 different heavies, but with three different uses, and therefore tactics employed.
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                        • Just remembered, Glantz held three or four symposiums, mid-1980s, at the Army War College in which he had German officers who had participated in the eastern front campaigns. They would make presentation on the German side of the operations with their personal observation. I recall one was Stove who wrote the history of the 1st Panzer Division. He was a panzer platoon leader in the division. He had kept the division's war journals after the war and had not turned them over the Bundes archives. He once remarked when SS Divisions were located near them, they would low ball their operational readiness so they would not have to transfer operational tanks to replace SS operational losses.
                          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                          • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                            You're being overly pedantic here. I've already given 2 examples of Churchills used alongside T-34's
                            What units exactly? Alongside doesn't mean in the same units.

                            Comment


                            • In Charles C. Sharp's "Red Hammers" Soviet Self-Propelled Artillery and Lend Lease Armor 1941 -1945, Soviet Order of Battle World War II Volume Xiii, 1998. He notes a total of 5,218 tanks from Britain/ Canada and 301 were Churchill Mark IV (Sov designation). He writes, in October 1944 the Germans counted 60 tank regiments in the Red Army order of battle (Source: probably records German High Command, "Fremde Heeres Ost" [Foreign Armies East], equipped as follows. He last two entries are:
                              1 with KV and Churchill tanks mixed;
                              1 with Churchill tanks only.

                              He has three pages of listed tank and mech corps with commentary none of them have Churchills, primairly Matildas and Valentines. He obviously missed 15 Churchills like those in Kravchenko's 5th TC at Desna River crossing [Source: Kravenchenko article 'Tankisty forsiruyut reki," Military History Journal Vizh 9-1963, p. 63.].

                              He has 16 pages listing tank regiments and tank brigades. Those with mention of Churchills as follows:
                              10th GTR--formed October '42 w/ Churchills, fought at Stalingrad, Stavka reserves Feb '44 reequipped with new KV tanks;
                              15th GTR--at Stalingrad Dec '42 with 21 Church's, Oct-Nov '43 reequipped with KV-85s;
                              36th GTR--by July 1943 35 Mark IV's attached to 18th TC, 5th GTA at Kursk, reequipped May-Jul '44 with IS-II;
                              49th GTR--formed March 43 as a heavy tank unit with 21 Mark IV's, Apr-Aug 44 reequipped with IS-II;
                              59th TR-- 1st Company 5 KV or Churchills.

                              No citation, but I assume his is working from Foreign Armies East and German unit records in the US National Archives.
                              Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 24 Jan 20, 07:11.
                              Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                              • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                                The US Army developed a veritable fanclub of Raus and Mellenthin toward 80s. Their actions were widely cited as an example of who to deal with Warsaw block armor in WWIII should it happen. See characteristic publications here:
                                https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=116000
                                There was also a description somewhere on this forum Raus and Mellenthin's visited a US staff in Germany in the Cold War giving a them lecture on tactics, it's pretty indicative.
                                There seems to be a wave of "counter-literature" about this. There a few books (Closing with the Enemy, When the Odds were Even, The GI Offensive in Europe: Triumph of the US Infantry Divisions, etc.) that mention the authors' dissatisfaction with this trend in the 80s/90s- where they say that professional soldiers used the German army's good points as a way to promote reforms or other contemporary agendas. This dissatisfaction factored in to their motivation to research and write their books, to counter the Wehrmacht admiration with admiration of the US Army methods and institutions. Even the British have stuff along this lines (Buckley's Monty's Men and British Armour in the Normandy Campaign, and Stout Hearts: British and Canadians in Normandy, Stopping the Panzers, etc) have this undertone of bitterness towards the Wehrmacht admiration and a desire to redress this- which is laid out quite clearly in the opening chapters. These books also focus on admiring British/CW methods and institutions.

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