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Perfect Divisional TO&E Eastern Front?

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  • Perfect Divisional TO&E Eastern Front?

    With the benefit of hindsight, was a perfect set of divisional TO&E's possible, within the limits of available men and equipment to either side?

    Some useful sites for OOB.

    1942 Red Army: http://niehorster.org/012_ussr/42_or...gan_index.html
    1944/5 Red Army: http://niehorster.org/012_ussr/45_or...gan_index.html

    Heer 39-45: https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/Germany/HB/HB-2.html
    How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
    Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

  • #2
    Perfect? Unlikely. What is useful for offensive operations in eastern Poland, western Ukraine and Belarus is likely much less useful for defense in the Caucasus or the Carpathians, or in city fighting in Stalingrad, Moscow, Warsaw or Berlin.

    i think we can all agree that an infantry division should have at least 3 subordinate maneuver headquarters, 9 battalions of infantry, 3-4 battalions of artillery, a combat engineer battalion, a recon battalion, and a battalion of something with mobile protected firepower- tanks, panzerjaeger, and sturmgeschutz seem to have all become generally interchangeable in practice, along with requisite combat service support, signals, etc. In an armored or armored infantry division, the mix is some sort of balanced 3 and 3 or 4 and 4 between tank and mobile, preferably armored, infantry, with requisite maneuver headquarters and supporting units. Beyond that, some specialization (cavalry, mountain, etc) is likely useful, too.

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    • #3
      Not sure a divisional TO&E for all seasons was doable. Both armies switched from offense to defense or defense to offense during the course of the war. During the course of the war, lessons learned or war experiences altered formations. For examples, the Red Army did away with the tank division for a more streamed-lined tank corps-brigade structure. The Germans truncated the panzer division size for flexible and manageable panzer divisions (Balck was against the large divisions because too many tanks sat around during a fight--his point gained weight with his reduced 11th PzD performance during the Chir River battles).

      Outside of the fundamental force structures, the division on both sides used attached assets from higher HQs in combat, combat support, and combat service support units depending on the situation. An example in this dimension, was the Red Army's conclusions from Manstein's back-hand attack that cut off the Popov group in the Don. For future penetrating Red Army tank forces, the units were augmented with anti-tank, artillery, engineer mobile obstacle detachments in addition to a reserve to protect the flanks during a penetrating force into the operational depth.
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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      • #4
        I would say for the Germans, the ubiquitous infantry division should have been:

        3 line regiments each of two battalions. Each battalion would have 3 line companies and ideally 4 platoons of infantry armed with 1 LMG per squad with 3 squads in a platoon. Add a HMG section of 2 to 4 MG at the company level. An additional heavy weapons company would be attached with 6 81mm mortars and a two gun antitank section (later could be panzerschrek or something similar in platoon strength-- say 9 to 12 launchers, maybe up to 15 to 18)

        The regiment would have a 6 to 8 gun antitank company (5 cm or 7.5cm) guns with motor tow vehicles. A "cannon" company of either 6 7.5 cm infantry guns, or 6 12 cm mortars would be attached. A pioneer platoon at the regimental HQ with an extra wagon / trailer or two containing additional construction tools and equipment. This unit is for clearing mines and building things like bunkers.

        Then there are two Schnell, Alarm, etc., battalions in the division. These combine the assets of the panzerjäger and aufklarungs battalions. Their purpose is to be the two mobile battalions that act for reconnaissance, as reserve, etc., and are controlled by the division but often assigned to a regiment as needed for a mission.
        These would vary some in composition but they would each include 9 to 12 StuG, or Pzjr or another mobile antitank gun or self-propelled gun. There would be three additional companies in the unit mounted in light vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, or horses as available-- preferably in vehicles. These would mirror the line infantry companies but could have additional machineguns and heavy weapons assigned up to double the line unit's quantities as available.

        Instead of a specialized signals battalion, this would be distributed throughout the division with service troops to maintain equipment at regiment and division level attached to headquarters companies.

        The artillery regiment would have 3 battalions of 12 10.5cm howitzers and 1 or 2 battalions of 18 7.5cm field guns. Tractor towing would be done wherever possible, particularly with the 10.5cm guns. This eliminates the 15cm battalion which was difficult to move and difficult to use in general support due to communications limitations. Here you have a battalion for each regiment of 10.5cm guns.
        The 7.5 cm battalion(s) are the mobile reserve and used in a direct fire as well as antitank role when necessary. They would also be more mobile in poor terrain and weather.

        The pioneer battalion would be oriented towards construction rather than being combat engineers. They would get additional construction equipment like a portable sawmill, portable light cranes, and the like. This unit's purpose is to improve infrastructure in the division area of operations. That is build bunkers and defensive positions, improve roads, build small bridges, as well as provide materials like lumber to the line units to do their own improvements in things like trenches and bunkers. They would have a light bridging section included whenever possible. There would also be a dedicated vehicle maintenance section that could maintain the division's vehicles.

        I think this would be the ideal for the Germans. Realistically, they aren't going to get many motorized units. Their main defense has to be infantry divisions. On the offensive, giving these units two mobile battalions of some sort allows them to operate in as a second wave in offensive operations where they can push forward one or both mobile battalions, possibly reinforced with some troops from the line regiments. The addition of 7.5cm field guns means these units can also bring artillery support, light as it is, with them and have a good amount of antitank defenses at hand when operating offensively.
        Defensively, the unit now has more men and equipment dedicated to building shelter and defensive systems along with infrastructure. This will be a force multiplier for the division as it improves what tactical mobility it has and provides more defensive shelter as well as more protection from the weather.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
          The 7.5 cm battalion(s) are the mobile reserve and used in a direct fire as well as antitank role when necessary.
          There was a problem of traction. It seems that Germans didn't consider horse traction as viable for AT guns. Unlike lighter guns Pak 40 or cannons of the same class couldn't be towed by cars/light trucks. Common medium trucks were bulky and vulnerable and lacked cross-country mobility. Tracked or half-tracked vehicles were available in limited numbers. It looks like the German Army didn't come up with a good solution to the problem, and only self-propelled guns were seen as fully adequate weapons. They were never available in sufficient numbers though.

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          • #6
            Give mid/late war developments (severe spreading out of resources- second front and nazi fiefdom building in the LW ground forces and Waffen SS)- a more radical move could be to abolish infantry divisions in the German Army to reflect realities and eliminate overhead. Reorganize them all into brigades, centered around 2-3 infantry battalions and 1 artillery battalion.

            Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
            Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
            Barbarossa Derailed I & II
            Battle of Kalinin October 1941

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            • #7
              So a higher level formation consisting of several brigades would be essentially an old division but with a more complex internal structure. I doubt that it would give much practical benefits. Soviet Army tried infantry brigade on a wide scale and wasn't apparently happy with results: most were disbanded or converted into normal divisions.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                So a higher level formation consisting of several brigades would be essentially an old division but with a more complex internal structure. I doubt that it would give much practical benefits. Soviet Army tried infantry brigade on a wide scale and wasn't apparently happy with results: most were disbanded or converted into normal divisions.
                This! At the scale we're discussing, with hundreds of divisions, breaking them into smaller components isn't required and doesn't provide an advantage. Heck, even today with only ~30 BCTs, the US is still arguing the use of fixed divisions.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Artyom_A View Post
                  So a higher level formation consisting of several brigades would be essentially an old division but with a more complex internal structure. I doubt that it would give much practical benefits. Soviet Army tried infantry brigade on a wide scale and wasn't apparently happy with results: most were disbanded or converted into normal divisions.
                  It looks however, that most german divisions on the eastern front 43-45 generally ranged from 1-3 full battalions of infantry each with 1-2 full battalions of artillery with depleted support elements. Strong units were an exception. So from that it shows that the reinforcement rate was too low due to all the competing forces draining the Army.

                  It came to mind that a lot of combat value came from the long established leadership relationships, dating in cases back to 39'. Breaking it up would be detrimental.
                  Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                  Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                  Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                  Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post

                    It looks however, that most german divisions on the eastern front 43-45 generally ranged from 1-3 full battalions of infantry each with 1-2 full battalions of artillery with depleted support elements. Strong units were an exception. So from that it shows that the reinforcement rate was too low due to all the competing forces draining the Army.

                    It came to mind that a lot of combat value came from the long established leadership relationships, dating in cases back to 39'. Breaking it up would be detrimental.
                    While the reinforcement rate was an issue, the bigger problem was simply the number of divisions in existence. A smaller number of better maintained ones would probably have been preferable to the system the Germans actually ran. One issue had to do with the Wehrkreise system used for replacements.
                    Each German division was raised in a specific Wehrkreise. This was a region of Germany designated by the military and each had a replacement system for units that came from that region.

                    1939


                    1944


                    Thus, each region could be recruiting and sending more or less men than another depending on available manpower in the region. This ended in October 1944 when Himmler took control of the replacement army and eliminated the Wehrkreise system in favor of simply rounding up the needed number of men from wherever and using them as replacements wherever.
                    That's the big difference in the Volksgrenadier divisions. They don't have an assigned Wehrkreise but consist of the right number of men pulled from all over Germany.

                    So, this becomes a problem in each Wehrkreise trying to keep up the divisions (and usually too many) stood up in their area.

                    It doesn't help that the Luftwaffe in particular was taking a huge number of men into service and keeping surplus ones. The Luftwaffe infantry divisions are an example of that lunacy. But Göring wanted his private army just like Himmler...

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                    • #11
                      What happened was that the Waffen-SS and Luftwaffe started getting drafts of general age-groups- that were once part of that system you describe. In 1943-44 a lot of new LW and WSS divisions were formed. So the personnel flow to the army divisions across the board dramatically declined as they no long took in so many personnel from prime-age groups.

                      The Army lost enormous ground relative to the other nazi fiefdoms, making their configuration really different from 1941-1942.
                      Last edited by Cult Icon; 26 Oct 19, 21:15.
                      Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                      Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                      Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                      Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The Waffen SS also got exclusive rights to conscript all ethnic Germans from outside the Wehrkriese districts. They even accepted a Romanian General who was an ethnic German.

                        Pruitt
                        Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                        Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                        by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                          It looks however, that most german divisions on the eastern front 43-45 generally ranged from 1-3 full battalions of infantry each with 1-2 full battalions of artillery with depleted support elements. Strong units were an exception.
                          As far as I can see the typical strength per division late in the war was 10-11-12 thousand men. For example, as of 1 October 1943 there were about 160 divisions on the Eastern Front (without SS, Luftwaffe and security divisions) with 1 580 000 German personnel. So almost exactly 10 000 men per division plus something like 1000 Hiwis. Sure, you can't call them strong but they still stayed effective as divisions. Keep in mind that a decrease of the number of divisions on the Eastern Front beginning from late 1943 (many were disbanded, merged or transferred) generally compensated a drain of personnel:
                          https://www.axishistory.com/list-all...n-world-war-ii

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                          • #14
                            The shortfall was most heavily in the infantry. So basically they have a division that has a rear echelon designed to support a larger formation. There is evidence in many panzer division histories of them repeatedly converting rear echelon elements into infantry to keep them operating at a 1-2 infantry battalion minimum necessary to hold many KMs of front line.

                            Late war VG divisions brought it down to 50%. If the formation is up to 80% non-combative elements than something is inefficient about it. The German division was no longer doing long range movements or high intensity offensive operations.

                            Of note is that there were brigade sized infantry combat units and improvised Kampfgruppen on the Eastern Front that was effectively used in high intensity offensive/defensive operations. The motorized infantry regiment GD and LAH - IIRC GD (with 4 big, heavily armed infantry battalions) was just 5,000 men.

                            It also came to mind that if the TOE was revised to an army of brigades (the Army would certainly resist such a change), it would change the refitting and reinforcement of units. So if a divisional leadership team would learn to be accustomed to only controlling, at max, half a division they would not expend their forces so rapidly in ultimately (long term) futile efforts to improve their personal position. All these changes could possibly lead to a higher reserve position for the Army Group.
                            Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                            Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                            Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                            Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              There were various situations, naturally, but in average in terms of strength of personnel, weapons, horses and motor vehicles divisions stayed divisions rather than reinforced regiments. One can discuss theoretical merits of dividing them into smaller formations, but practically such a massive reorganization was hardly possible for an army constantly engaged in action on the front. There was also a psychological side. Dissolving existing units with their history, traditions and feeling of affiliation, where officers ans staff new each other and used to work together had too many negative effects. So the German Army had little choice but to adjust organization of existing divisions to real personnel and equipment situation.

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