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  • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
    And a rather brief account from the memoir of Rokossovsky [commander of the 16 Army in March 1942]

    *Obviously a mistake in the memoir. "Early March" would be more accurately.

    Since Rokossovsky was wounded on 8 March, his account is interrupted somewhat abruptly.
    It should be born in mind that this Rokossovsky's memoir doesn't tells a full story, possibly for a reason of censorship. In reality his objectives were far more ambitious than simple "wearing down" of opposing hostile forces. Neither his forces were as weak as he asserts. Still this account gives a vivid and mostly accurate description of the technique of successive set-piece attacks.
    Rokossovsky's memoirs, like all the memoirs during the Soviet period, had a number of candid passages hit the censorship floor. In the 1990's, Vizh (Military History Journal) ran a series in four or six issues, lengthy passages that had not made it through the censors.
    Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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    • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
      I think, it is worth to give some context of the report quoted above and explain what the 146 Brigade was doing exactly in 1942, since those operations are mostly forgotten. Also, the account is illustrative of RA's combat techniques of that period

      During early months of 1942 the 146 Tank Brigade was a part of the 16 Army near the city of Sukhinichi in Central Russia. Suckhinichi, while not a big city, was a rail and road hub of utmost importance. After retreating from Sukhinichi German still held a salient south of the city, in particular high ground at the tip of the salient which hindered transportation through the city (see the scheme). The most active period for the 146 TBr was March 1942. After receiving tank reinforcement the brigade had 5 KVs, 14 T-34, 2 Mk-III, 27 T-60, and 1 T-30 tanks. Its operations during March consisted of a series of successive assaults on fortified villages in the Sukhinichi salient. The brief timeline is as follows:
      5 March – a group of tanks (10 tanks) detached to 19 Rifle Brigade attacked the villages of Skachek and Bryn’. Tanks entered Skachek, but abandoned the village since own infantry was stopped
      7 March – the attack was repeated and Skackek was captured. Further attacks on Bryn’ were repulsed. On the same day the remaining heavy and medium tanks attacked the village of
      Popkovo together with the 12 Guards Rifle Division. Popkova was mostly captured, yet fighting for the village church and the school continues until the next day.

      9 March – attack on Yermolovo and Pechenkino together with 328 Rifle Division. Both villages were taken.
      10 March – attack on Sosnovka with 328 RD. The village was taken
      11 March – attack on Kazar’ together with 328 RD. A very bitter fighting continues until morning of 12 March
      15 March – attack on Bortnoye with 328 RD, the village was taken
      17 March – motor battalion attacked a school south of Bortnoye. Attack failed.
      19 March – motor battalion with 3 tanks attacked Vyshilovo south of Bortnoye. Attack failed.
      22 March – 4 tanks and the motor rifle battalion in cooperation with 328 RD attacked Seredeya. Tanks couldn’t reach the village due to deep snow. Finally, the village is captured by night infantry attack.
      25 March – 6 tanks with infantry of the 328 Division attacked and captured Zhivodovka.
      The end of active period, tanks withdrawn for rest and refit.

      See the map with almost all those villages here
      https://wwii.germandocsinrussia.org/pages/508229/map


      As a result of these operations German troops were pushed from open ground to a wooded area south of Sukhinichi. Apparently unhappy with these positions they retreated to the base of the salient along the Zhizdra River by early April. Due to limited tank strength, deep snow hindering movements and numerous mines the brigade played only a minor role in pursuit.

      Limited as these gains were, they were still more than achieved on other parts of the front and eliminated direct threat to the vital transportation hub of Sukhinichi. Noteworthy things:
      - the operation was a series of set-piece limited attacks, one following another, and each limited to one or at most two closely situated villages. No exploitation or pursuit. Reasons: limited strength, limited mobility off roads, physical exhaustion and losses suffered in each assault. This operational technique was painfully slow and costly but arguably it was the only possible in this situation
      - each attack included only a small number of heavy and medium tanks. As report quoted above explains light tanks were almost exclusively used to support infantry against possible hostile attacks.
      - the brigade role was pivotal and out of any proportion to a limited number of tanks employed. Without any doubt these attacks would never made any progress without tank support.
      - the brigade was a hard-hitting unit, probably one of the best in the Red Army on that moment.
      Artyom,
      Have you run across similar war experience reports from tank corps in late 1942? Their combat actions in the beginning were more tactical than operational level. It would be interesting to see their growing pains.
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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      • Working on it

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        • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post

          Artyom,
          Have you run across similar war experience reports from tank corps in late 1942? Their combat actions in the beginning were more tactical than operational level. It would be interesting to see their growing pains.
          In 1943, the Soviets are normally considered to have regained initiative, at least at the strategic level as the bare minimum. However, Germany lost 1,803,755 men on the Eastern front from all causes, in that year, while the Soviets lost 7,857,503. In addition German tank and AG losses were 8067, compared with around 23,500 Soviet losses. Given these losses, the Soviets were going to run out of men and tanks before the Nazi's. If we ignore lend lease and other fronts, Germany can also replace losses of both kit and men at a relatively higher rate.

          Basically, even when the tables have turned, the Soviets are losing over 4 times the men as the Germans, and around 3 times the afv's. If the war had simply been between the Nazi's and the Soviets, unfortunately the Nazi's would have won.

          Artyom's recent posts on this thread have been absolutely priceless, but there is obviously a disconnect between Soviet theory and practice.
          How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
          Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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          • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

            In 1943, the Soviets are normally considered to have regained initiative, at least at the strategic level as the bare minimum. However, Germany lost 1,803,755 men on the Eastern front from all causes, in that year, while the Soviets lost 7,857,503. In addition German tank and AG losses were 8067, compared with around 23,500 Soviet losses. Given these losses, the Soviets were going to run out of men and tanks before the Nazi's. If we ignore lend lease and other fronts, Germany can also replace losses of both kit and men at a relatively higher rate.

            Basically, even when the tables have turned, the Soviets are losing over 4 times the men as the Germans, and around 3 times the afv's. If the war had simply been between the Nazi's and the Soviets, unfortunately the Nazi's would have won.

            Artyom's recent posts on this thread have been absolutely priceless, but there is obviously a disconnect between Soviet theory and practice.
            Nick good to hear from you. There's no sound-byte answer to your disconnect observation, and the issue is much more than tank tactics. For a well-presented reply, I would recommend Glantz/House, "When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler".

            Artyom's posts have been very good examples of how the Red Army tank force at the tactical level began to turn around in the face of catastrophic defeat through a rigorous study and implementation of their war experiences (which was done in all the combat, combat support and combat service support arms) into effective practice.

            There was a similar review at the operational level which from your past posts is a level that you do not recognize, but clearly a level in Soviet theory from the 1930's. From my studies, I believe the Red Army beat the Germans at the operational level.

            At the time of Kursk, mid-July 1943, the strategic correlation of forces between Soviet and Germans was 1.71:1 (Glantz/House, p. 303). Glantz from his decades of study, often noted that the Red Army through the course of the war improved its for by increasing the weapons of war. The Soviets stayed in the fight against the invasion at a high price in blood.
            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post

              Nick good to hear from you. There's no sound-byte answer to your disconnect observation, and the issue is much more than tank tactics. For a well-presented reply, I would recommend Glantz/House, "When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler".

              Artyom's posts have been very good examples of how the Red Army tank force at the tactical level began to turn around in the face of catastrophic defeat through a rigorous study and implementation of their war experiences (which was done in all the combat, combat support and combat service support arms) into effective practice.

              There was a similar review at the operational level which from your past posts is a level that you do not recognize, but clearly a level in Soviet theory from the 1930's. From my studies, I believe the Red Army beat the Germans at the operational level.

              At the time of Kursk, mid-July 1943, the strategic correlation of forces between Soviet and Germans was 1.71:1 (Glantz/House, p. 303). Glantz from his decades of study, often noted that the Red Army through the course of the war improved its for by increasing the weapons of war. The Soviets stayed in the fight against the invasion at a high price in blood.
              Those figures were from Kursk 1943 : a statistical analysis / Niklas Zetterling and Anders Frankson. They paint a pro Heer picture in terms of military capability per man.

              The IBIS persuaded me the operational level does not exist. I miss his insightful input here.

              I have Titans. I'll read after my current read, Belisarius.
              How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
              Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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              • [QUOTE=Nick the Noodle;n5200021]
                Basically, even when the tables have turned, the Soviets are losing over 4 times the men as the Germans, and around 3 times the afv's. If the war had simply been between the Nazi's and the Soviets, unfortunately the Nazi's would have won.
                I think it would have been a stalemate if it was just the fascists vs communists. I have a multitude of reasons why I have come to this conclusion but this is not the thread to discuss this.

                Artyom's recent posts on this thread have been absolutely priceless, but there is obviously a disconnect between Soviet theory and practice.
                This is true. I am currently reading Glantz' Stalingrad series and just started the last book - volume 3 book 2. At this point lend lease was beginning to kick in to higher gears but it still only accounted for 10 - 15% of Soviet means for conducting war (tanks, planes, transport trucks, food, ect.)

                But as Richard stated they were putting their "war experience" studies to use and were learning how to fight the Germans. But they still continued to lose lopsided numbers of men and material. At this point the factories west and east of the Urals were up and running 24 hours a day churning out tanks, guns, ammunition ect. and they were still able to create army's and reserves from a seemingly unending amount of men that the Germans could not hope to match. Stalin and his Stavka was well aware of these factors when it came to the strategic level.

                An example of the ongoing failures in Red Army tank tactics from German 6th Army's advance to the Volga June through August 1942 and the subsequent stalemate with the Red Army to take the city of Stalingrad September through October would be the Soviets incessive attacks from the Kotluban region northwest and north of Stalingrad. 4 separate offensives were conducted to tie up German 14 Panzer Corps forces north of the city so they could not be used in the fighting for the city proper. They were successful in achieving this objective but at an enormous cost of men and materials. IIRC, Eremenko, before the orders for the 4th and final Red Army assault in the Kotluban region was launched, had mentioned to Stalin and Zhukov that these assaults were suicidal but nevertheless losing all of those men and machines was the Stavka's decision as it served a purpose.

                Then, in the 3rd week of November, the Red Army achieved a counteroffensive then was nothing less then masterful, IMHO. The planning of Operation Uranus, which was very thorough, based in part on the "war experience", and execution of the plan was a complete success and the greatest Red Army accomplishment at this stage of the war. The Red Army tank tactics during the execution of Uranus was, IMHO, the first large scale use of mechanized forces and supporting infantry that achieved total penetrations followed by exploitation achieving operational freedom by the 2 shock groupings (The Southwest and Stalingrad Fronts) involving 3 separate fronts using 1 million men and 1,500 tanks.


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

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                • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

                  Those figures were from Kursk 1943 : a statistical analysis / Niklas Zetterling and Anders Frankson. They paint a pro Heer picture in terms of military capability per man.

                  The IBIS persuaded me the operational level does not exist. I miss his insightful input here.

                  I have Titans. I'll read after my current read, Belisarius.
                  Belisarus by Robert Graves?

                  Reading Glantz will give you an appreciation for the operational level in application.

                  For the historical underpinning of the Red Army's operational level, see, Richard W. Harrison's "The Russian Way of War: Operational Art, 1904-1940".
                  Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                  • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post

                    Belisarus by Robert Graves?

                    Reading Glantz will give you an appreciation for the operational level in application.

                    For the historical underpinning of the Red Army's operational level, see, Richard W. Harrison's "The Russian Way of War: Operational Art, 1904-1940".
                    Belisarus by Ian Hughes, part of the Pen and Sword series. It's more factual than Graves, but not quite as entertaining .

                    I have several tombs by Glantz, including The Battle of Kursk, which I remember as a great complement to Demolishing the Myth by Zamulin.

                    I also have several tombs which, at least in part, mention Deep Battle. I've been alternating a WW2 book with one from another era, during this lock down, but after Titans, may check to see what I have that compliments this particular work of Glantz. As for Harrison's work, unfortunately it will have to wait, due to a lack of current income .
                    How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                    Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                    • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                      However, Germany lost 1,803,755 men on the Eastern front from all causes, in that year, while the Soviets lost 7,857,503.
                      Is that from Zetterling and Frankson? They are not fully accurate. German Abgänge on the Eastern Front in 1943 were 1,965 thousand men. That doesn't include wounded and sick that stayed on theater of operations, Luftwaffe, 20 Geb. Army in Finland, German allies etc. Total Axis losses on EF - I haven't seen these data anywhere, but they should be well in excess of 2 million men. Soviet battle and non-battle losses (army and navy) in 1943 were 7.557 thousand men (Krivosheev).
                      Given these losses, the Soviets were going to run out of men and tanks before the Nazi's.
                      Historically that didn't happen. Personnel strength was sustained at approximately constant level. Production and import of armor compensated losses.
                      there is obviously a disconnect between Soviet theory and practice.
                      The theory, or to put it better doctrine, in 1941 was that heavily armored tanks immune to most anti-tank weapons would be capable of rupturing any defense with moderate losses. By 1943 it became simply impractical because all types of Soviet tanks could be knocked out by common German tank and anti-tank guns. Add to that an increased use of mines to which problem no fully satisfactory solution existed. Still, tank were expected to pave the way for infantry regardless of their vulnerability. All that meant that tank force attacking organized defense was bound to suffer large losses. That was simply inevitable even if technical or training deficiencies are not considered.
                      Compared with that German tank employment was apples to oranges. For German tanks support of infantry was not considered a principal or typical task and it was relegated to assault guns which adopted a special and more cautious tactics. In operation "Citadel", for example, the initial attack was supported by a relatively small number of "Tigers" and assault guns and the bulk of armor was committed only after breaching the first line of defense. Still, this method didn't fully worked due to unusual strength and depth of defense. Should German employ their tanks Soviet-style, that is for attack on strongly organized defense, they would definitely suffer heavier losses.
                      So, it a nutshell, Soviet tanks were expected to lead infantry attack regardless of losses, German tanks were not.

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                        Is that from Zetterling and Frankson? They are not fully accurate. German Abgänge on the Eastern Front in 1943 were 1,965 thousand men. That doesn't include wounded and sick that stayed on theater of operations, Luftwaffe, 20 Geb. Army in Finland, German allies etc. Total Axis losses on EF - I haven't seen these data anywhere, but they should be well in excess of 2 million men. Soviet battle and non-battle losses (army and navy) in 1943 were 7.557 thousand men (Krivosheev).

                        Historically that didn't happen. Personnel strength was sustained at approximately constant level. Production and import of armor compensated losses.

                        The theory, or to put it better doctrine, in 1941 was that heavily armored tanks immune to most anti-tank weapons would be capable of rupturing any defense with moderate losses. By 1943 it became simply impractical because all types of Soviet tanks could be knocked out by common German tank and anti-tank guns. Add to that an increased use of mines to which problem no fully satisfactory solution existed. Still, tank were expected to pave the way for infantry regardless of their vulnerability. All that meant that tank force attacking organized defense was bound to suffer large losses. That was simply inevitable even if technical or training deficiencies are not considered.
                        Compared with that German tank employment was apples to oranges. For German tanks support of infantry was not considered a principal or typical task and it was relegated to assault guns which adopted a special and more cautious tactics. In operation "Citadel", for example, the initial attack was supported by a relatively small number of "Tigers" and assault guns and the bulk of armor was committed only after breaching the first line of defense. Still, this method didn't fully worked due to unusual strength and depth of defense. Should German employ their tanks Soviet-style, that is for attack on strongly organized defense, they would definitely suffer heavier losses.
                        So, it a nutshell, Soviet tanks were expected to lead infantry attack regardless of losses, German tanks were not.
                        Yes, Zetterling and Frankson was the source as stated earlier. TheIr source for German casualties was BA-MA RH 2/1343. They use Krivosheyev, Grif Sekretnosti Sniat p 146 for Soviet numbers.

                        The reason it did not happen was because the Wehrmacht was also fighting elsewhere. The Soviets also received an enormous quantity of material from lend-lease. Further, according to Speer, a full third of the German war machine was also employed in fighting the bombing offensive. I agree with Kurt K that if it had just been Fascists vs Soviets, a stalemate would have occurred.

                        If the Soviets were using tanks to try to steamroller through enemy positions, and losses were crippling, they should have tried something else. They should have noted where the Heer got it right and implemented appropriate tactics. The numbers in 1943 reveal that however good Soviet theory was, it was certainly not effective in practice. Obviously in 1944, it was a different picture.
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                        • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                          Yes, Zetterling and Frankson was the source as stated earlier. They use Krivosheyev, Grif Sekretnosti Sniat p 146 for Soviet numbers.
                          Z&F have messed up with Krovosheev's tables a little. The correct numbers are as quoted above.
                          TheIr source for German casualties was BA-MA RH 2/1343.
                          Those chart omit the Stalingrad pocket, hence a discrepancy
                          https://web.archive.org/web/20161113...r_var_ost.html
                          Besides, Abgänge are not exactly "losses to all reasons". They included only those medical patients that were evacuated from the Eastern Front. Those who stayed in hospitals on theater of operation were not included.
                          The reason it did not happen was because the Wehrmacht was also fighting elsewhere. The Soviets also received an enormous quantity of material from lend-lease.
                          They didn't receive any personnel replacement from LL. LL contributed tank replacements but only a smaller part of them. Again, as a matter of fact personnel and equipment losses throughout 1943 were sustainable - the army didn't run out of men or tanks.
                          If the Soviets were using tanks to try to steamroller through enemy positions, and losses were crippling, they should have tried something else. They should have noted where the Heer got it right and implemented appropriate tactics.
                          I don't think that it worked that way. Besides, infantry attacking without armor support would certainly mean even larger personnel casualties with fewer chances of success. Whether German attack doctrine as appropriate in the last two years of war is a big question since they launched few offensive operations, even in those that they did results were ambivalent. I believe, should they were in offensive they would face the same problems as RA or Western Allies.
                          The numbers in 1943 reveal that however good Soviet theory was, it was certainly not effective in practice.
                          Again, the Soviet theory of doctrine in 1941 was having heavily armored tanks that would roll over any anti-tank defenses. This doctrine was probably not so bad, but in 1943 it became simply impractical for a lack of tanks immune to anti-tank weapons. Also, it overlooked importance of anti-tank mines, which became a huge problem already in the second half of 1942. The mine problem didn't meet a fully adequate solution until the end of the war.
                          The raw numbers don't reveal anything. For a start the Soviet Army fielded a larger armor strength, just like Allies on the Western Front in 1944-45, so it is purely natural that armor losses were larger than German in both cases. Then, there was a difference in technical characteristics, level of training, tactical doctrine and plethora of other factors.

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                          • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                            If the Soviets were using tanks to try to steamroller through enemy positions, and losses were crippling, they should have tried something else.
                            The Red Army did. They moved to a combined-arms approach which was the German strength in the beginning. In my current research on the Katyusha rocket units, for an example, when the Red Army began more offensive operations at the end of 1942, Katyusha rockets units with new warheads and size for a deeper penetration into the ground were deployed to facilitate the destruction of German dug-in defensive positions.

                            At the operational level, they worked the densities of combined-arms forces with other support in a sector, as well as manipulating the sectors' widths down to tactical level for a penetration into the operational depth, while taking force ratio risks in other sectors outside of the main and supporting sectors.

                            I believe the Red Army learned and implemented more from their war experiences than any other army in WWII. Their ability to stay in the fight and turn it around is remarkable and worth more study. I also think, modern armies with its information systems can set up negative and positive feedback loops which would allow an army not only to self-organize its forces, but also change its actions during the course of an operation.
                            Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 13 Jun 20, 08:29.
                            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                            • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                              They should have noted where the Heer got it right and implemented appropriate tactics. .
                              BTW it reminds me of the observation made by Buckley ("British armor in the Normandy campaign") that Allied armies and Allied armor in general were much criticized for not following German blitzkrieg style. Buckley finds this criticism unjustified and ignoring changes in tactical situation. German military also perceived these changes, as indicated by the following report of the 17 Panzerdivision from April 1943 (quoted by T. Yentz):
                              The Panzer tactics that led to the great successes in the years 1939, 1940, and 1941 must be viewed as outdated. Even if today it is still possible to breach defensive front through concentrated Panzer forces employed in several waves behind each other, we still must consider past experience that this always leads to significant losses that can no longer be endured by our production situation. This action, often employed in succession, leads to a very rapid reduction in the Panzer strength. Already within the past several days the picture of a Panzer-Division is distorted, resulting in major difficulties for higher commanders.
                              ...
                              a. The employment if Panzers as the first attack wave against a strong, dug-in, prepared defensive position always results in too large a number of losses and therefore is incorrect.
                              Still, "attack in the first wave against a strong dug-in, prepared defensive position" was what the Soviet doctrine demanded.
                              A German tendency in the second half of the war to use some gimmick to deal with anti-tank defenses like super-heavy tanks (Tigers, Elephants) or night attacks is also conspicuous.
                              Last edited by Artyom_A; 13 Jun 20, 10:41.

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                              • Has anyone had an opportunity to read "The Tanks of Barbarossa: Soviet versus German Armour on the Eastern Front" by Boris Kavalerchik, translator (to English) Stuart Britton?
                                Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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