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Elite Units of the German Army 1939-1945

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  • I'm finishing up "Hell's Gate: Battle of the Korsun pocket" and am going to do "Zhukov's Greatest Defeat: Operation Mars" & Stalingrad trilogy next.

    I made a mistake:

    Operation Katja (2-6 June): GD, 23. Pz supported by Romanian 18 ID, Romanian 3 ID"

    It was in fact 24. Pz, and not 23. Pz. 24. Pz was to relocate for operation #2.
    Last edited by Cult Icon; 24 Dec 14, 23:18.


    • Interesting bit about panzer raids from "German Generals talk" Interview with Manteuffel:

      The way in which Manteuffel attracted Hitler’s notice is also illuminating. In August,
      1943, he had been given command of the 7th Armoured Division — which Rommel had
      led in 1940. It was in Manstein’s Army Group. That autumn the Russians surged over the
      Dnieper and captured Kiev, then rolled on rapidly west towards the Polish frontier.
      Manstein had no formed reserve left to meet this fresh crisis, but charged Manteuffel with
      the task of collecting such odd units as he could find for an improvised counter-stroke.
      Manteuffel broke in behind the rear of the advancing Russians, ejected them from
      Zhitomir junction by a night attack, and drove on north to recapture Korosten. By dividing
      his meagre forces into a number of small mobile groups Manteuffel created an impression
      out of proportion to his strength, and the sudden riposte brought the Russian advance to a
      After that, Manteuffel further developed this method of penetrating raids that cut in
      between the Russian columns and struck at them from the rear. “It was handicapped by the
      Russians’ lack of dependence on a normal system of supply — I never met any supply
      columns on these ‘interior’ raids — but I caught staff and signal centres besides striking
      bodies of troops in the back. These penetrating raids proved very effective in spreading
      confusion. Of course, for operations of this kind an armoured division must be selfcontained
      for supplies, carrying with it what it needs, so as to be free from dependence on
      communications during the whole course of the operation.” (It is evident that Manteuffel
      practised what General, then Brigadier, Hobart demonstrated with the 1st Tank Brigade in
      the Salisbury Plain area in 1934-35 — though without convincing the British General
      Staff that such a form of strategy was practicable.)
      Hitler was delighted with the new method, and eager to hear more about it. So he sent
      an invitation for Manteuffel and the commander of his tank regiment, Colonel Schultz, to
      spend Christmas at his headquarters near Angerburg, in East Prussia. After congratulating
      Manteuffel, Hitler said: “As a Christmas present, I’ll give you fifty tanks.”
      Early in 1944 Manteuffel was given command of a specially reinforced division, the
      “Gross-Deutschland,” and with this he was sent to different sectors to check a breakthrough
      or to release forces that had been trapped by the Russian tide of advance. In
      September, after he had cut a way through to the German forces that were hemmed in on
      the Baltic coast round Riga, he was given a big jump in promotion — to command the 5th
      Panzer Army, in the West.


      • In the battle of the Korsun pocket, the units (outside of the pocket) that had the most impact were heavy PR-Bake, 1. Pz, and 16. Pz.

        Heavy PR bake description from 'Hell's Gate':

        Rounding out the corps was the heavy panzer
        regiment, commanded by Oberstlt. Dr. Franz Bake, which provided
        Breith his offensive punch.
        This unusual organization had been formed in midJanuary
        1944 at the orders of von Manstein to carry out special
        offensive tasks for the Army Group. It was an extremely powerful
        ad hoc organization for this phase of the war. Assembled
        from a variety of army-level independent units and battalions
        "borrowed" from other panzer divisions, it was composed of
        Schw.Pz.Abt.503 with 34 Pz. VI Tigers and I./Pz.Rgt.23 with 46
        Panthers, borrowed from 23.Pz.Div. It had as well a SP artillery
        battalion, a combat engineer battalion, and a Gebirgsjiiger
        (mountain infantry) battalion.2o In addition, the regimental
        armored car platoon from Pz.Rgt.23 was attached to provide
        reconnaissance capability.
        Rzhev meatgrinder, Operation Mars.

        German mobile divisions involved:

        GD, 1.Pz, 2. Pz, 5.Pz, 9. Pz, 12. Pz, 19. Pz, 20. Pz,

        14. ID (Mot.)
        Last edited by Cult Icon; 26 Dec 14, 06:53.


        • I was always amazed that Manteuffel went from divisional command straight to Armee command, without ever commanding a korps! That was unheard of...


          • The Great Rzhev Meatgrinder (Operation Mars) Nov 1942-Dec 1942

            * Of interest: 1.Pz is singled out for praise by Model (9th Army) at the end of this battle.

            Nov. 18th, 1942.

            ***I classify Pz II and Pz 38T as light. Pz III/IV as medium.

            Operational status:

            GD: 7 light, 20 medium, 3 command

            14.ID (Mot.):???

            1.Pz: 10 light, 41 medium, 4 command

            2.Pz: 11 light, 42 medium, 1 command

            5.Pz: 15 light, 56 medium, 7 command

            9.Pz: 26 light, 74 medium, 2 command

            12.Pz: 1 light, 61 medium, 3 command

            19.Pz: 44 light, 21 medium, 3 command

            20.Pz: 26 light, 30 medium, 6 command

            =~~~514 tanks


            Operation Mars, operational:

            1 MC: 306

            2dMC: 215

            3d MC: 232

            5th TC: 131

            6th TC: 170

            8th TC: 123

            37 independent armor units: 1,175

            9th TC: 168

            10th TC: 168

            12th TC: 168
            15th TC:168

            11 independent armor units: 1,600

            3,672 armor operational total
            Last edited by Cult Icon; 28 Dec 14, 17:11.


            • Originally posted by krichter33 View Post
              I was always amazed that Manteuffel went from divisional command straight to Armee command, without ever commanding a korps! That was unheard of...
              GD looks like a 'fast track'. Lots of big promotions at the end. It should have helped that Hitler liked Manteuffel personally and saw him as an expert.

              Panzer Count (PR-GD): a reinforced special corps commander in Narva.

              Manteuffel (GD): 5th Panzer Army

              Lorenz (Grenadier regiment GD): GD

              Otto Remer (SPW battalion GD): Fuhrer Begleit Division

              Horst Niemack (Fusilier Regiment GD): Panzer Lehr Division

              Langkleit (Panzer Regiment GD): Panzer-grenadier division Kurmark

              Schulte-Heuthaus (Fusilier Regiment GD): Panzergrenadier division Brandenburg

              Kahler, then Mader: Fuhrer Grenadier Division.

              7.Pz seemed like a fast track, as well. A lot of its commanders rose fast.
              Last edited by Cult Icon; 29 Dec 14, 09:08.


              • I just bought this short book. (guessing: 100-150 pages of actual text?). It is about a niche subject: the tank battles at the gates of Warsaw. It focuses on 2 TA and 3.SS/5.SS/4.Pz/19.Pz.

                It has lots of terrific photos that I've never seen:

                Warzaw II: The Tank Battle at Praga



                • Tank battle at the Gates of Warsaw 1–6 August 1944:

                  Four divisions attack: 4. Pz, 19.Pz, HG, 3.SS, 5.SS.

                  This is the typical concentric attack that aimed at cutting off an armored spearhead and destroying it. (2nd Tank Army's armored corps) It was not successful.

                  ** I find that these armor battles have been politicized and distorted. Some claim the Germans won, the others claim the soviets won these battles. The reason has to do with the Warsaw Uprising. Different sources say different things, unfortunately and I still need to figure it out.

                  Osprey 'Warsaw':

                  It was not until
                  3 August that Guderian had the bulk of his four
                  Panzer divisions in place, with about 174 tanks and
                  assault guns, to mount a serious counterattack.
                  However, by this time the 2nd Tank Army had
                  reinforced its defences to the extent that a pincer
                  attack was no longer practical and Guderian had to
                  settle for a concentric attack on the 3rd Tank Corps’
                  salient around Wolomin.
                  The 2nd Tank Army lost 116 of its 679 remaining tanks and
                  assault guns during 1–6 August and its 3rd Tank Corps had been pushed
                  back 20km, but the bulk of its combat power was still intact. Personnel losses
                  were only 2,200 out of an initial strength of about 35,000 troops.
                  counterattack had not even affected the 16th Tank Corps, which still held
                  its position seven kilometres south-east of Praga. Guderian’s counterattack
                  had failed to harm the Soviet armoured spearhead seriously or to push it
                  back from Warsaw. Nevertheless, on 7 August Stalin ordered the Stavka to
                  withdraw the 2nd Tank Army from the Warsaw front and to redeploy it to
                  the south, leaving only infantry divisions to observe the Germans in Praga.

                  Warsaw II:

                  The list includes a total of 568 tanks and tracked assault guns (among them 19 SU-57s). According to other sources, which are also based on Soviet records (T. Sawicki, W. Wołoszyn), the 2nd Tank Army on July 17, 1944 was composed of a total of 810 armoured vehicles; (665 tanks, 145 tracked assault-guns) while on July 27, 1944, reports indicated they still possessed some 680 armoured vehicles.

                  Bacyk, Norbert (2012-06-14). Warzaw II: The Tank Battle at Praga (Kindle Locations 631-634). Leandoer & Ekholm Publishers. Kindle Edition.
                  between July 18 and July 30, 1944, the 2nd Tank Army suffered a total loss of 582 soldiers killed in action, 1,581 wounded and an additional 52 soldiers unaccounted for, along with the loss of approximately 130 tanks and tracked artillery guns. Still, given such a large fighting force, these losses were not all that serious – and the army had potential access to a further 560 to 680 armoured vehicles.

                  Bacyk, Norbert (2012-06-14). Warzaw II: The Tank Battle at Praga (Kindle Locations 793-796). Leandoer & Ekholm Publishers. Kindle Edition.
                  August 1st, 1944:

                  4.Pz: Panther 58 (40), Panzer IV 83 (45), Command 5 (3), PzjIV (12), Marder III (10)

                  ~12,700 men.

                  On August 6, the 2nd Tank Army still had between 334 to 373 armoured vehicles at their disposal, including the withdrawn 16th Tank Corps (134-166 vehicles). But the Soviet soldiers were completely exhausted and their tanks in urgent need of repair. Heavy losses had been suffered. Between July 29 and August 6, it’s not unlikely that as many as 340 tanks and tracked artillery vehicles were put out of action. Calculated beginning from July 18, this mounted to a total loss of close to 470 armoured vehicles (destroyed, damaged, or otherwise non-functional).

                  Bacyk, Norbert (2012-06-14). Warzaw II: The Tank Battle at Praga (Kindle Locations 1232-1236). Leandoer & Ekholm Publishers. Kindle Edition.
                  The information contained in General Radzjijevskij’s report of August 28 reports only 116 tanks as having been irreparably destroyed during the first week in August.
                  axishistory estimates:

                  The Germans also suffered significant losses. On August 6, within the 19th Panzer-Division there remained only 28 battle-worthy tanks, while the 4th Panzer-Division had only 40. The Waffen-SS divisions, which had fought at the front for almost a month, had at their disposal 56 tanks within the 3rd SS-Panzer-Division “Totenkopf” and 45 tanks in the 5th SS-Panzer-Division “Wiking”. The elite division “Hermann Göring” which had been sent into battle a week earlier, reported only 51 combat-ready tanks
                  Author estimates that the 5 x PzDs took between 150-100 tanks total write off and damaged during the big week. Frieser estimates that the divisions were around ~60-80 runners strong (each) before it.
                  Last edited by Cult Icon; 30 Dec 14, 13:50.


                  • I heard of the book, and the Praga battle. I read a little about it, and you are right some sources say completely different things about the results of the battle. The book is on my list.


                    • German summer offensive, Blau I, 1942

                      Blau I: 11.Pz (Hermann Balck) attacks, then defeats a counterstrike by 1TC and 16TC. Both units retreat without most of their tanks.

                      5TA Counterstroke 6-12 July 1942

                      5th Tank army took 261 total write-offs out of its 641 tanks fighting 9.Pz/11.Pz. They took 7,929 casualties, half of them dead or missing along with a lot of other equipment losses. On July 15th Stalin dissolves 5TA.


                      • From "Zhukov's Greatest Defeat: Operation Mars":

                        The 78th Infantry Division was upgraded into the 78th Sturmdivision after these battles. It was the only infantry division in the Wehrmacht with this special structure.

                        By late night on 30 November, only the dumb and
                        blind could not recognize that the Russian offensive in this sector had failed o
                        at immense human and material cost. The 78th Infantry Division alone reported
                        that during the five-day offensive it had destroyed 169 Russian tanks
                        and tens of thousands of infantry and cavalry.28 The 5th Panzer placed its count
                        at 183 tanks destroyed and an estimated 42,000 Russian dead. The 102d Infantry
                        Division added thousands of more Russians and tens of tanks to that
                        ghastly toll. Appalling German losses, however, indicated just how close the
                        Russian offensive had come to succeeding. The 5th Panzer Division's casualty
                        count amounted to 28 officers and 510 NCOs and men dead or missing
                        and 38 officers and 1,064 NCOs
                        and men missing. In addition, the panzer
                        division lost 30 tanks destroyed or damaged.


                        • The initial strength of the seven Soviet armies committed
                          in Operation Mars amounted to about 667,000 men and over 1,900 tanks out
                          of the 1,890,000 men and 3,375 tanks that comprised the Kalinin and Western
                          Fronts and the Moscow Defense Zone in November 1942 (see Appendices).
                          Additionally, at least 150,000 men and several hundred tanks reinforced
                          the attacking armies during the operation.
                          Excellent book, and a monstrous, sickening operation. It is a soviet version of the Somme. Various estimates are up to 335,000 casualties and 1,800 tanks plus an enormous quantity of equipment destroyed.

                          The units that distinguished themselves here were GD, 1.Pz, 5.Pz, 9.Pz, and 78 ID. The rest performed well except for the LW field division.

                          General Harpe and XXXXI PzK managed to envelope the attackers in two pockets.

                          The main positive from the battle is that it diverted many decently strong Panzer divisions away from Operation Winter Storm, thus dooming the chance of a relief effort. The mobile forces native to the Rzhev salient (GD, 1.Pz, 5.Pz, 9.Pz, 14 (mot.)) were also unavailable to help the South. The forces rushed to help the center include: 2.Pz, 12.Pz, 19.Pz, 20.Pz, and a SS cavalry division.

                          1 of the 4 salients:

                          Last edited by Cult Icon; 04 Jan 15, 23:49.


                          • Stalingrad Front counterstroke 26-31 July. The counterstroke is costly in material for the Soviets but ruins the chance of Paulus to take Stalingrad via coup de main.

                            The 6th Army is advancing into the great bend of the Don with powerful air support from Fliegerkorps 8. An initial counterstroke with 1st and 4th Tank Armies (450 tanks) supported by several rifle divisions is executed. The blows fall most heavily against 16.Pz. 16.Pz claims 77 tanks destroyed in one day.

                            These days cost Stalingrad Front more than half of their 1,239 tanks, the majority due to mechanical breakdowns. Around 500 tanks remain in inventory. The armored battles are lopsided.

                            Paulus' inventory of tanks drop from 290 to 250. Operational tanks drop heavily, with XIV PzK runners down to less than half of their original 150 runners. 24.Pz, with 140 tanks, suffers much less.

                            XIV PzK (16.Pz, 3.ID (mot.), 60.ID (mot.))claims 482 tanks destroyed. Whole 6 AOK claims 600 tanks +

                            +Of interest: 16.Pz is lead by two famous soldiers: Hans Hube with the PR being commanded by the Panzer Count.


                            2nd Army, Voronezh 15-26 July 1942.

                            9.Pz and supporting forces envelope and clear half of 7TC and 2TC along with 3 rifle divisions.
                            Last edited by Cult Icon; 08 Jan 15, 15:48.


                            • Oakleaves from Hitler, March 1942

                              Of interest are these commanders:

                              Hube (16.Pz)

                              Traut (eventually commanded 78th Sturm-division)

                              Shultz (rose to command 7.Pz)

                              Hube and Shultz would eventually get the Diamonds, and die soon afterwards.


                              • August 7th-August 11th, 1942, 6th Army Kalach pocket

                                The Soviet bridgehead at Kalach was defended by 100,000 men and ~150 tanks, mostly of 62nd Army.

                                The actions of 12 German divisions, including 2 Panzer (24.Pz, 16.Pz) and 2 Mot. (29, 3rd) were required to clear the pocket.

                                24. Pz had 116 runners, 16.Pz, fewer.

                                The pocket itself required 8 divisions to seal it off with 24.Pz and 16. Pz pincers closing the lid. The other divisions secured the flanks.

                                It took 3 days (9-11th August) to clear the pocket.

                                +++16.Pz claim 8,300 prisoners, 275 tanks, 298 guns and its 1,000 tank kill since the beginning of barbarossa.

                                +++ 24. Pz claim 7,760 prisoners, 81 tanks, 209 guns.

                                +++Paulus claims 75,000 prisoners, 1,000 tanks, 750 guns.

                                +++There are discrepancies with the German & Soviet figures, as the tanks seem implausible. The Germans claim high, the soviets say lower. Prisoner estimates in the pocket are between 75,000-28,000.

                                24.Pz ended with 82 runners.

                                This is right before Mark's book "Death of the Leaping Horseman: The 24.PzD at Stalingrad". His book begins August 12, 1942.


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