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  • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
    Further, according to Schwerpunkt by R Forcyzk, the 4th were down to a quarter of its original compliment of tanks being operational after a single month, about 50 tanks. On 9.9.41 it was up to 83 out of 212 it initially started with according to Panzertruppen by Jentz (only 35 were Pz III's and IV's).
    4 Panzer Division started operation "Typhoon" with about 100 operational tanks. It was down to 60 when it entered Orel. Some were probably repaired later. At a later stage (battle for the town of Mtsenk proper) it was also reinforced with a panzer regiment from 3 PzD.

    When it was ambushed, the Red Army had two tank brigades, with around 13 KV-1's, 40 T-34's and 94 BT-7's between them (assuming my maths is correct ).
    The main body 11 Tank Brigade was left at Mtsenk. It detached a group consisting of 4 KV, 12 T-34 and 10 T-26 and a company of infantry, which was positioned at the right flank of Katukov. Of them only 11 T-34 really took part in action on 6 October. I've posted a translation of a piece from the war diary earlier:
    https://forums.armchairgeneral.com/f...08#post5083708
    4 Tank Brigade already lost 4 tanks prior to 6 October in reconnaissance mission at Orel. In general the tank numbers were nearly equal. Yet irrespective of the number of tanks the German panzer division had much different combat capabilities than the Soviet tank brigade even reinforced with some ragtag elements.

    "Ambush" is a little of misnomer. What happened on 6 October was rather a counterattack against a penetration of KG Eberbach.

    Comment


    • Thanks for war journal reference, I missed that discussion.
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

      Comment


      • Art I second Richards remark. I was not aware of your post from December 2018. That is detailed narrative of the battle.

        Here is an account of the battle of Orel from my 35th Tank Regiment book. In reference to my prior posts using this book as a source I am not of the opinion that this book is the definitive account of any of the battles contained in the entire book. As R.A. stated earlier accounts of battles can differ from one source or another. I am simply adding to what has already been posted and if the account is "way off then what really happened" then I could see the point of a harsh rebuttal. That said here is the capture of Orel from the Soviet perspective from the book "Knights Cross Panzers" 35th Panzer Regiment.

        From the memoirs of Major General Pjotr Grigorinka:
        To a certain extent, the maneuver was the conclusion of a one and a half year study by the front's headquarters concerning the defense of large cities. The study had started in the fall of 1941, shortly after the Germans had taken Orel. When examining the operation, it turned out that the city had actually been taken by 13 German tanks, while there had been 150,000 armed and uniformed soldiers on our side. Forces from the NKVD, the police and special units that reported to differing agencies of the Peoples Commissariat for Defense. Since none of those agencies had unified command and were under bad commanders - not to mention that they had no idea of the general situation - they generally scattered in panic when they first saw the Germans.
        On the bottom of the page there is an editors note by Rudolf Volker which contains the following:
        It was not 13 tanks that had taken Orel and held it for 3 hours. It was only 4. Following those 4 tanks of the 6th Company Panzer Regiment 35 was the 2nd Battalion Panzer Regiment 35 with its 5th, 7th and 8th companies, as well as the regiments 1st Battalion and, in turn, the entire 4th Panzer Division. The Russians fought bravely at the lower and middle levels, up to regimental command. Those that had run away in Orel were party personnel and NKVD. Orel could not have been defended by those people.
        Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
          Art I second Richards remark. I was not aware of your post from December 2018. That is detailed narrative of the battle.

          Here is an account of the battle of Orel from my 35th Tank Regiment book. In reference to my prior posts using this book as a source I am not of the opinion that this book is the definitive account of any of the battles contained in the entire book. As R.A. stated earlier accounts of battles can differ from one source or another. I am simply adding to what has already been posted and if the account is "way off then what really happened" then I could see the point of a harsh rebuttal. That said here is the capture of Orel from the Soviet perspective from the book "Knights Cross Panzers" 35th Panzer Regiment.

          From the memoirs of Major General Pjotr Grigorinka:


          On the bottom of the page there is an editors note by Rudolf Volker which contains the following:
          I recall reading, cannot remember the source, that when the Germans, whatever number of tanks, burst into Orel, the city trams were still running--surprised was definitely achieved.

          A couple of key elements of critical judgments in working history is to qualify the sources in terms of primary, secondary, and tertiary.

          Then establish the bona fides of the author/source which includes knowing the author's background/experience and looking at the sources, how citations are used. [This has a couple of aspects: does the author have a new, previously unknown source which changes an interpretation, or does the author have a reinterpretation of the existing sources, or do you have an author 'cherry picking' sources that support their supposition/perspective.]

          A third key element in critical judgment is a historian must be able to hold multiple, competing perspectives reserving judgment until one has command. As you can see from the postings, I was reluctant to support a full participation in the Mtsensk battle by 11th Tk Bde, because I did not have complete evidence. Artyom's war journal, a primary source, confirmed my supposition that the brigade had been spread out.

          I have high praise for the archival materials Artyom who has repeatedly brought to the forum to clarify or balance discussions. I began earnest study of the Red Army in the mid-1970's. Back then, one had to weigh through the German accounts with alibis, then sift through Soviet censorship, blank spots, and the truth. With the Gorbachev era, the archives were opened up moving to primary documents, then subsequently tightened (under Putin), but Russian historians have been regaining access to give a better perspective on the Soviet side. I still must hold some reservation on the Russian secondary history work because of points made in the third paragraph above.
          Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
            The problem was not only a time needed to reload the ammunition but also difficulty of doing that on the battlefield (hostile observation and fire, vulnerability and limited cross-country mobility of supply trucks). Also infantry and infantry commanders were always very nervous about tanks retreating to the rear even temporarily for resupply. Practically either tanks were reloaded at night, or they were withdrawn from battlefield by shifts, or sometimes ammunition boxes were loaded on tank which transported them to battle lines.
            American comrades repeated еру these observations almost word-by-word

            replenishment.png

            Comment


            • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post

              I recall reading, cannot remember the source, that when the Germans, whatever number of tanks, burst into Orel, the city trams were still running--surprised was definitely achieved.

              A couple of key elements of critical judgments in working history is to qualify the sources in terms of primary, secondary, and tertiary.

              Then establish the bona fides of the author/source which includes knowing the author's background/experience and looking at the sources, how citations are used. [This has a couple of aspects: does the author have a new, previously unknown source which changes an interpretation, or does the author have a reinterpretation of the existing sources, or do you have an author 'cherry picking' sources that support their supposition/perspective.]

              A third key element in critical judgment is a historian must be able to hold multiple, competing perspectives reserving judgment until one has command. As you can see from the postings, I was reluctant to support a full participation in the Mtsensk battle by 11th Tk Bde, because I did not have complete evidence. Artyom's war journal, a primary source, confirmed my supposition that the brigade had been spread out.

              I have high praise for the archival materials Artyom who has repeatedly brought to the forum to clarify or balance discussions. I began earnest study of the Red Army in the mid-1970's. Back then, one had to weigh through the German accounts with alibis, then sift through Soviet censorship, blank spots, and the truth. With the Gorbachev era, the archives were opened up moving to primary documents, then subsequently tightened (under Putin), but Russian historians have been regaining access to give a better perspective on the Soviet side. I still must hold some reservation on the Russian secondary history work because of points made in the third paragraph above.
              Good advise on sources. I have your book now and I think its very good. The intro on the evolution of the Soviet tank forces was worth the 20 dollars in itself. I read your account of the Mtsenk battle with Katukov's 4th TB, 11TH TB, 6th Guards RD, and 2 brigades of the 5th Airborne Corp. I think your account of the battle, written in the early 90's is pretty much in line with what Art posted.

              The books I have on the battle of Mtsenk also are "close" in terms of the various tactical maneuvers by the Soviets on the Orel - Mtsenk Highway, The city of Mtsenk and the high grounds east, northeast and southeast where the Soviets had dug in defensive positions.

              After action report of 35th Panzer Regiment (5th Panzer Brigade) on 4 October they were tasked with taking the bridge at Iwanowskaja which failed due to the Soviets T - 34's and KV's. On 5 October they were ordered to take Lepeschkino. All went well until KG von Lauchert attacked Mtsenk which was defended by heavy Soviet forces with T - 34's, KV's, infantry and "Stalin Organ's". The KG took heavy casualties and only advanced to the high ground east of the bridge. They could advance no further.

              From the 3rd Panzer Divisional history: On 5 October the 3rd PzD attached the 2nd Battalion of Panzer Regiment 6, the 5th Company of Artillery Regiment 75, and the 2nd Company Panzer Jager - Panzer Abteilung 521 to the 4th Panzer Division. These units left Robja at 1000 hours and advanced through Schablikino as far as Bunina along the Orel - Karatschew road. These units were harassed by Soviet aircraft during their movements and took many casualties. These attached units joined the 4th PzD on 6 October where the encountered the Soviet T - 34's and KV's.





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

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                They are definitely talking about experience from the year 1942 when the German Army didn't have many heavy anti-tank guns and heavy tank guns.50-mm and 37-mm tank and AT guns were only effective at medium and short ranges. So, yes, well-armored tanks like T-34 and KV could theoretically engage anti-tank weapons from a safe distance where they had few chances to be knocked down themselves. According to other similar German reports and observation in many cases this factor was well understood by them and they tried to keep the distance of firefight as large as possible.
                From a thesis on battle training for armored forces (South Front, April 1942):
                6. Tank vs tank combat.
                Hostile tanks strive to engage in firefights at short distances. Characteristics of hostile tank tactics: surprise appearance from behind covers, use of ambushes, short strikes, intensive fire. There are afraid of our tanks. Study of vulnerable spots of our tanks and weapons. Superior points of our tanks - armor, powerful armament. Firefight should be forced on hostile forces at medium distances 600-800 meters.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post

                  From a thesis on battle training for armored forces (South Front, April 1942):

                  Balck after the Chir River Battles' success was asked by command to write up the experience with points on what other panzer division commanders could do to achieve such a kill rate. His report was disseminated sometime after March 1943. He had three main points result from looking back to determine what contributed to those successes:
                  1. The division must understand the enemy tank unit in order to force him to fight under unfavorable conditions;
                  2. All weapons and available means are to be concentrated to fight tanks;
                  3. The tactics employed by the Panzer-Regiment and individual Panzers.

                  Point 1. Whenever possible, the attack should be initiated in the rear of the enemy tank unit.
                  When our Panzer attack unexpectedly encounters an enemy position, usually the enemy was forced and seduced to immediately conduct fragmented and unplanned counterstrikes. These cost the enemy high losses, if one skillfully let them close in.
                  If an opponent in a defensive position is not surprised by an unexpected approach, surprise can be achieved by tactical means. Example: A fake attack by Panzerspaehwagen and PzKpfw.II on the norther end of the village under a cover of heavy smokescreen was set up for the next day. The fake attack was staged to draw the Russian tanks to the northern end of the village, then to attack the southern end supported by artillery and Stuka preparations, and attack from the rear those Russian tanks that were drawn toward the northern end.
                  Panzers must be held strictly together, regardless if there are many or a few enemy tanks. Never employ them scattered. Expressly create a Schwerpunkt!

                  ​​​​​​​To be cont'd for Point 2 & 3
                  Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                  Comment


                  • Point 2. The basic requirements are to strictly follow tactical guidelines for digging in, emplacement, and employment of anti-tank guns, mines, and close-combat tank-hunter teams.
                    If the terrain is not covered with woods or clumps of brush and depressions are not available, the defensive positions must be disguised artificially. Deep, slit trenches in short runs with numerous foxholes are cover against tanks and restrict those tanks that have broken into the position from working forward. The prerequisite is that enemy infantry be separated from tanks by centrally directed concentrated artillery fire.

                    Point 3. Attacks against Russian tanks are governed not only by the tactical specifications by mainly by the quality of the opposing enemy tank crews. This depends upon making the enemy insecure and to instigate movements that draw him out of favorable positions that can't be approached. If the enemy is attack happy, then immediately take up good positions with a good field of fire, move some of the Panzers into flanking positions, kill the engines so that the enemy can be heard, and then let the enemy close in on our front.
                    In combat in towns it is very advantageous to have Panzer-Grenadiers out front to seek out the enemy tanks and give timely warnings to our Panzers. However, in practice this is possible only when enemy infantry are not present. If an advanced guard is not out, four guns must be constantly ready to provide overwhelming fire to force the enemy to real his position and pull out of his cover. The PzKpfw.IV can be held back from combat in towns and employed only in difficult situations.
                    In general, night attacks against enemy tanks result in losses without success and are difficult. Defend against night attacks by taking up good positions, let the enemy get close, and then suddenly open fire.
                    When hit by effective enemy fire, immediately withdraw and approach from a new direction. In terrain providing poor visibility, attack frontally with weak force, and if possible, strike the enemy in the flank with strong forces.
                    In conclusion, it can be said that the division believes that it has achieved its success only by the coordination of all three of these points. failure in one of the three areas cancels out success.
                    Connected to this, th value of a good repair service must be pointed out. In addition, all Russian tanks should be immediately blown up in order to prevent late recovery and repair by the enemy.

                    One can find Balck's report in "Panzer Truppen; The Complete Guide to the Creation and Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force, 1943-1945 (Volume 2)", edited by Thomas L. Jentz.
                    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                    Comment


                    • For those interested in the German side of the Chir River Battles may want to read Captain Robert G. Walters' "Order Out of Chaos: A Study of the Application of Aufgstaktik By 11th Panzer Division During the Chir River Battles 7-19 Dec 1942", The author uses extensive citations from the 11th PzD War Journal and some 48th PzK War Journals with other sources. The Captain's Paper was probably for a Military Course. His objective is to give lessons from the battles for justifying a future command style that uses the AufgsTaktik on the complex and more chaotic future battlefields. His case is somewhat unclear and weak. He missed an important document which I posted above. If the author had read Balck's explanation of how his unit achieved the spectacular performance, he would have found the result was more about Balck's fingerspitzengefuehl than aufstragtaktik.
                      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                        Not so bad. 8 MechCorps had 114 STZ tractors (of them 7 in repair) compared with 128 authorized:
                        https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=114792918
                        Which was quite satisfactory.
                        Artyom, do you know if the war journals for the Guards Mortar Divisions, Regiments and Separate Battalions are on line? For example, the 1st Guards Mortar Regiment?
                        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                        Comment


                        • From what I can see there is a good availability of front-level war diaries (staffs of front groups of rocket units). For example, 3 Ukrainian Front:
                          https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=451007337
                          As far as smaller units are concerned, not so much. In general the amount and quality of digitized documents of units below divisional level varies a lot.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                            From what I can see there is a good availability of front-level war diaries (staffs of front groups of rocket units). For example, 3 Ukrainian Front:
                            https://pamyat-naroda.ru/documents/view/?id=451007337
                            As far as smaller units are concerned, not so much. In general the amount and quality of digitized documents of units below divisional level varies a lot.
                            Artyom, appreciate your time and the response. I was impressed that your find of the 11th Tank Brigades war diary on line (posted earlier on this thread) and thought it might be possible the Guards Mortar Regiments and Divisions may also have surfaced. I find the higher level unit records will show the order of battle and allocation of GM units to support other units, but little on their specific actions in success or no results.
                            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                            Comment


                            • The Soviet mechanized corps opposite German Army Group Center attacked in tandem with cavalry corps as well as infantry corps.

                              I am referring to the period from 05 December 1941 through Operation Mars during the winter of 1942 - 43 in counteroffensives (Moscow) and large scale offensives (Mars). I do have the new Soviet Cavalry book and just started to reference it in tandem with Glantz' "Zhukov's Greatest Defeat".

                              This Soviet mechanized/cavalry mix is very interesting to me. As I had mentioned on my Barbarossa Derailed thread that I had purchased the book "Soviet Cavalry Operations During the Second World War" and, if you recall, there was only one review up on Amazon at the time which stated the author could not understand written or spoken Russian language. The way the reviewer worded this remark was misleading.

                              The author, John S Harell had a military career that spanned 40 years. He enlisted as an officer cadet in the USMC in 1971. Upon graduating from California State University Northridge he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the USMC. In 1980 he transferred into the California Army National Guard as a captain, ultimately rising to the rank of major general and retiring as commanding general of the California Army National Guard. He is also a lawyer and retired as California Deputy Attorney General after 28 years of service.

                              In the section "Acknowledgements" he states the following:

                              The genesis of this project took place in an observation post in western Ukraine during a 1998 multinational peacekeeping exercise. During a lull in the exercise, my Ukrainian army staff officers, who had all served in the Soviet Army, and I engaged in a lively discussion on military history and Soviet operational tactics. These former Soviet tank officers indicated that their concept of an operational maneuver group was based on early cavalry tactics developed during the American Civil War. This surprising revelation set me on a 20 year research project.

                              In 1999 I visited the editors office of the Cavalry and Armor Journal at Fort Knox Kentucky. There I discovered, in the WWII editions, a number of articles and photographs dealing with Soviet cavalry operations, confirming the link between ACW operations and those of the Soviet cavalry in WWII.

                              My research led me to Colonel (retired) David Glantz, who has been translating and publishing Soviet Staff Studies and operational histories. He provided me with 2 Soviet Staff Studies of cavalry operations completed between 1942 and 1944, and memoirs of several Soviet cavalry generals. Since my ability to read Russian is limited my friend Vladimir Shalkivich provided key translations. While I was in Kiev for peacekeeping training, I was introduced to Larisa Morozova, a Russian Ukrainian language tutor. Larisa roughly translated Soviet memoirs and conducted research on the life of Major General Lev Dovator BOLD IS MINE.

                              Skipping over the middle of the numerous acknowledgements the last paragraph read; Finally I would like to thank my wife, Colonel (ret) Linda Harrel, for her editing skills and patience over the last 20 years with piles of books, reports and photo's that constantly crept out of the library into the rest of the house.

                              Richard you are an author so I am sure your aware that military history books are not "best sellers" and the profits generated from these special interest books are minimal. That John Harrel spent 20 years of his time researching and writing this book leads me to believe that his motivation was to convey the facts of the subject using primary, secondary, and tertiary sources to give the reader the best possible information on the subject that he was best able to accomplish and not profit orientated.

                              I was also wondering if you would kindly contact your acquaintance/friend, Colonel David Glantz, and ask him had he ever came across anything in all of his years of Soviet military research that would lead him to acknowledge that the Soviets did indeed, even if it was partially of minimally, base their cavalry operational and tactical doctrine by studying American Civil War cavalry doctrines.

                              My main interest, by the way, in his book is not in connecting the Soviet cavalry - ACW cavalry similarities although I would like to know if there is some sort of concrete evidence of a connection. I am very interested in the mechanized - cavalry operations which is the bulk of the books subject. The book contains 68 maps which to me is of extreme importance.
                              Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
                                The Soviet mechanized corps opposite German Army Group Center attacked in tandem with cavalry corps as well as infantry corps.

                                I am referring to the period from 05 December 1941 through Operation Mars during the winter of 1942 - 43 in counteroffensives (Moscow) and large scale offensives (Mars). I do have the new Soviet Cavalry book and just started to reference it in tandem with Glantz' "Zhukov's Greatest Defeat".

                                This Soviet mechanized/cavalry mix is very interesting to me. As I had mentioned on my Barbarossa Derailed thread that I had purchased the book "Soviet Cavalry Operations During the Second World War" and, if you recall, there was only one review up on Amazon at the time which stated the author could not understand written or spoken Russian language. The way the reviewer worded this remark was misleading.

                                The author, John S Harell had a military career that spanned 40 years. He enlisted as an officer cadet in the USMC in 1971. Upon graduating from California State University Northridge he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the USMC. In 1980 he transferred into the California Army National Guard as a captain, ultimately rising to the rank of major general and retiring as commanding general of the California Army National Guard. He is also a lawyer and retired as California Deputy Attorney General after 28 years of service.

                                In the section "Acknowledgements" he states the following:

                                The genesis of this project took place in an observation post in western Ukraine during a 1998 multinational peacekeeping exercise. During a lull in the exercise, my Ukrainian army staff officers, who had all served in the Soviet Army, and I engaged in a lively discussion on military history and Soviet operational tactics. These former Soviet tank officers indicated that their concept of an operational maneuver group was based on early cavalry tactics developed during the American Civil War. This surprising revelation set me on a 20 year research project.

                                In 1999 I visited the editors office of the Cavalry and Armor Journal at Fort Knox Kentucky. There I discovered, in the WWII editions, a number of articles and photographs dealing with Soviet cavalry operations, confirming the link between ACW operations and those of the Soviet cavalry in WWII.

                                My research led me to Colonel (retired) David Glantz, who has been translating and publishing Soviet Staff Studies and operational histories. He provided me with 2 Soviet Staff Studies of cavalry operations completed between 1942 and 1944, and memoirs of several Soviet cavalry generals. Since my ability to read Russian is limited my friend Vladimir Shalkivich provided key translations. While I was in Kiev for peacekeeping training, I was introduced to Larisa Morozova, a Russian Ukrainian language tutor. Larisa roughly translated Soviet memoirs and conducted research on the life of Major General Lev Dovator BOLD IS MINE.

                                Skipping over the middle of the numerous acknowledgements the last paragraph read; Finally I would like to thank my wife, Colonel (ret) Linda Harrel, for her editing skills and patience over the last 20 years with piles of books, reports and photo's that constantly crept out of the library into the rest of the house.

                                Richard you are an author so I am sure your aware that military history books are not "best sellers" and the profits generated from these special interest books are minimal. That John Harrel spent 20 years of his time researching and writing this book leads me to believe that his motivation was to convey the facts of the subject using primary, secondary, and tertiary sources to give the reader the best possible information on the subject that he was best able to accomplish and not profit orientated.

                                I was also wondering if you would kindly contact your acquaintance/friend, Colonel David Glantz, and ask him had he ever came across anything in all of his years of Soviet military research that would lead him to acknowledge that the Soviets did indeed, even if it was partially of minimally, base their cavalry operational and tactical doctrine by studying American Civil War cavalry doctrines.

                                My main interest, by the way, in his book is not in connecting the Soviet cavalry - ACW cavalry similarities although I would like to know if there is some sort of concrete evidence of a connection. I am very interested in the mechanized - cavalry operations which is the bulk of the books subject. The book contains 68 maps which to me is of extreme importance.
                                Since you have his book, look at his bibliography and note how many are Russian titled, Russian published. Second if he has Russian books, then check his passages where he notes the Russian study of American Civil War cavalry and do those passages have a footnote citing specific Russian book(s)/sources.

                                I would be interested in what you find.
                                Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                                Comment

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