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The Soviet offensive 1943

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  • #31
    Originally posted by zraver View Post
    As for averse risk taker, He was building the Red Army as an offensive organ, so he intended to use it eventually.
    Yes, but for what?

    I can't recall all the details, but if you pop into the WW2 forum there are a couple of threads on Suvurov & 'Icebreaker' where some very well informed members discuss just this issue. The Red Army's defensive doctrine was offensive - one of the reasons so many units were deployed relativelyforward in 1941 (though they were poorly equipped for anything at that point).

    Even if it is assumed that the Red Army is designed to expand Stalin's empire, the assumption that Stalin was necessarily going to attack Germany under any & all circumstances is questionable. That isn't to say this WI is impossible, just that the assumption isn't so cut & dried.
    Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

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    • #32
      OK, I'll do some revision to the story line.

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      • #33
        The scenario

        Chapter 1 Germany

        JUne 1940, the string of German victories comes to a crashing halt with the destruction of the BEF around Dunkirk France. In Southern England, during the month of September, the Germans would taste defeat. Hitler, unwilling to listen to his military commanders, and also believing Goering's claim that the RAF was finished, ordered the commencement of Sea Lion. He did this on the belief presented by the chief of the Luftwaffe that even though the RAF was not totally out of the fight, it was now too weak to stop an invasion or protect the Royal Navy. Further he claimed that even if the Royal navy did make show up to fight, the destruction of the BEF meant England was undefended. As history shows the fat ex-pilot was wrong. 70 named warships and almost 200 smaller craft were pressing into the channel within 36 hours and from that point not a single German transport landed.

        On the ground English territorials, hastily raised conscripts and allied troops from Canada and new Zealand backed by Maltilda II limited German gains to the area around Dover, though Dover itself was never completely taken before the German surrender. Nor was the RAF out of the fight, once the Germans were ashore the RAF committed a fresh fighter group and dozens of bombers to the fight. The result was both massive Luftwaffe losses, and the virtual destruction of the Ju-52 fleet.

        By the end of September the Germans had lost 6 divisions worth of men, 10 divisions worth of equipment, 1200 more air crews, 1300+ aircraft, 4000 small craft, 37 transports, 9 destroyers, 2 cruisers and 15 torpedo boats. The loss of barges had forced vital river commerce to a virtual standstill and severely disrupted the German economy. Virtually obliterated were the navy and the Luftwaffe which had less than a thousand serviceable combat planes left when Heinz Guderian surrendered.

        The defeat strangely coincided to a sudden Soviet upswing in the supply of needed raw materials. As one general officer said, Stalin is going to fight England to the last German. The defeat also left Hitler feeling vulnerable, as least temporarily, never one to enjoy being down, he made Goering pay the price-pushing the Luftwaffe chief was out and stripped him of his titles, awards and privileges in what was widely considered a show trial.

        Regardless the defeat left him and Germany weak enough that he was open to listening to a rare united front by the Luftwaffe, Heer and industry. As a result of the meeting he agreed to curtail future plans until the German economy and military had recovered to at least 1939 levels. However, he refused to put the economy on a war time footing. Unwilling to risk another stab in the back like Germany suffered in November 1918 he kept much of the economy devoted to civilian uses.

        This meant that industry and the Luftwaffe got the bulk of scarce resources and several HEER divisions were either demobilized or moved to reserve status. Though as a sop, the number of motorized divisions the Heer would have was to increased by five plus 2 more panzer divisions. To speed in the rebuilding, several divisions were demobilized and reduced to cadre status and a number of French tanks were inducted into the army under ersatz designations.

        As it turns out, the failure of Italy in North Africa and Greece meant the army did not get much of a break, as a result it could either expand, or improve quality. The army chose numbers over quality at least for short term planning, never dreaming events would outpace them. Still much of the resources for expansion were used up in the Balkans and the sinking of two panzer divisions worth of equipment on their way to Libya. Yet as effective as British submarines were, the army felt revitalized and was willing to aid the Italians in Greece and then Africa.

        After sezing Greece and Yugoslavia the Germans looked south. First Crete, then Malta fell to the fallshrim divisions. Though by the end the Luftwaffe's rebuilt transport fleet was nearly wiped out again and the parachute units would need at least 2 years to rebuild. Nevertheless the assaults opened the road to Africa for the arrival of the DAK, which was rapidly increased to a full panzer armee. In a hard fought campaign, Rommel would enter Cairo on April 5th 1942. One reason the fighting took over a year is a huge amount of supplies shipped to England by the United States.

        Then Japan attacked the US at Pearl Harbor. With little hope of an immediate return to Europe with the loss of North Africa and Egypt, allied leaders changed course and decided on a Japan first strategy to save Singapore and the Philippines, but this meant the British had to hold Gibraltar and the Suez. This was something they could only attempt to do with the US' prodigious production, or as it turns out a lack of German action.

        The result while still an eventual allied defeat, was one gained by Germany only at great cost. US tanks like the M3 Stuart and M3 Grant and planes like the P-40 Warhawk had flooded in, more than enough to make Germany bleed. Yet, with no other distractions, the German's were closer and could more easily support Rommel. At the cost of the trucks promised to the army to add five motorized divisions Rommel was able to keep his divisions supplied and secure Africa.

        The fighting also slowed the recovery of the Luftwaffe. Also hampering the Luftwaffe's recovery was the diversion of assets into a night fighter operation to combat increasing British heavy bomber raids thorugh the night time skies of the Reich. These raids also diverted a large number of 88mm anti-tank guns. As did submarine production. Both of which limited the steel devoted to the Army. Also leeching production away from the army was the SS. Even so, Rommel won and secured Egypt.

        With the situation in North Africa resolved, Hitler decided to avoid crossing into Palestine, In a public speech at the Sportspalast in May, 42 Hitler said, "what need do we have of a land infested with Jews? Better we arm the the Arabs and let them take of it." Privately, he was worried that further adventures to the South would delay his attack into Russia. Oil was also not a problem with the Soviets deliverign some 900,00 tins a year which when combined with German and Romanian sources was more than enough to fuel his dreams of conquest. With a semi peace on the ground OKH said they could be ready to invade Russia by July 1943 depending on the rains. The German divisions demobilized in 1940 began to be secretly called back and reformed.

        Then in November 1942 the Allies struck back, a British operation along the Suez and a joint Anglo-American landing in French North Africa caught the Germans by surprise. The Abwher had assured OKW/OKH that the Americans were too busy with Japan to attack Germany. The surprise invasion and offensive required Germany to redeploy a number of units as the allied offensives gained strength. Also pressuring the Germans were increasing allied bomber activity which now included American daylight raids over occupied Europe as well as persistent reports the allies were planning a spring invasion of Norway. The result was to keep Germany focused West not East.

        Chapter 2 USSR

        Even though most of the German army had been moved east, many of the best equipped and most capable units were in Africa or Norway and this created an opportunity for Stalin. As much as Hitler wanted to go East, Stalin expected to go West. Yet the Red Army had been gutted by the purges and performance in Finland had been embarrassing. Compared with German victories through 1940 the Soviet high command realized it needed to rebuild not just its technical but human bases. as a result Stalin's next move after splitting Poland with Hitler, and occupying the Baltic and parts of the Balkans was revenge on Finland. In what has been called the Continuation War, Soviet troops re-invaded Finland in June 1941 to test out how well the re-birth of the Red Army had gone. With nearly unlimited resources the Red Army had forced Finland to submit by July 1942. Yet performance was poor, the effects of the purge and aging equipment were still very evident.

        The poor performance almost re-ignited the purges. However, Stalin was given a united front presented by Timoshenko, Budyonny and Zhukov. They argued successfully, that performance while poor was better than previously, as new officers learned their roles. They also pointed out that much of the new equipment coming on line had not been used and this led to higher losses, while largely preserving the secrecy of new items like the T-34 and Sturmovick.

        In fact the Germans had learned of the KV-2 but mistakenly thought it a Russian version of the Char-2B concept that had failed to stop the panzer divisions in 1940. The Soviet generals argued that by the beginning of 1943 the Red Army and Red Air force would be largely re-equipped and ready to face the Germans if they betrayed the Soviet Union. This claim proved to the motivation behind the Soviet invasion. Once Hitler made the decision to invade and began calling up the reserves plus dozens of intelligence cues from spy rings and reports of cross border incursions by the Luftwaffe it became clear that Hitler was going to stab the Soviets in the back it was time to consider jumping first. Moving quickly also became important when Hitler moved the German economy to a full war time footing.

        So began an effort to deceive the Axis powers. Supply shipments were kept up to lull the Germans even as the Soviet ambassador issued a formal protests over the recon flights. These and other efforts were ultimately unsuccessful at hiding the Soviet intent, the Germans knew they were about to be attacked, but would they be able to resist the blow?

        Chapter 3, Opening Moves

        With the arrival of 1943 the German army was worried. Wastage in combat since France had limited the expansion of the army and had prevented almost half the panzer divisions from getting modern tanks. Many were still equipped with old tanks like the Pz38, 37mm armed Pz III or captured French tanks. This had only begun to change with the arrival of the M4 Sherman in combat. The American tank armed with a 75mm duel purpose gun had proven superior to the pzIIIL the newest version of the German battle tank. New AFV's like the Stug IIIG and Pz IVG were being rushed into service, but the numbers were low and German production continued to lag.

        Signals intercepts, deserters and other sources also began to indicate that the Soviet Union was preparing to invade. When given notice of these concerns Hitler at first not believing them [not taking the threat seriously], and who had been made stronger by the failure of the army in Africa, had made the army promise not to retreat out of Poland. He still expected to the attack the USSR in June.

        It was not until the end of April when the evidence finally convinced Hitler that he had waited too long, Stalin was going to be the one attacking. Following quick on the heels of his acceptance of this fact was the impending loss of Tunisia and with it the risk of an invasion of Sicily in the near future. Luckily the short distance to Scicly and by scrambling every passenger air craft allowed the Axis to begin evacuating troops. Several German and Italian divisions would be lost, plus several more divisions worth of equipment, but the bulk of the Axis troops in Africa were evacuated during several night operations.

        The fall of Tunisia in May and the looming battle to defend Sicily and impending Russian invasion finally convinced Germany to go to a war time footing. This meant Hitler was finally ready to put Germany's industries on a war time footing. Forcing Hitler to put Germany on a war time footing would be the last political concession the army would get out of Hitler. The series of defeats had weakened them and as much as they dreaded it, they began gearing up for the war against Russia code named Operation Barbarossa. The expected target date was June 1943 after the soil had dried from the spring rains.

        Chapter 4 First Shots

        June 22, 1943, beginning at 4 AM, ten thousand guns began pounding the forward German lines. At the same time German radar sites began to see swarms of Soviet aircraft winging their way West. Behind them came the advance of the Western, 1st and 2nd Baltic Military fronts' rifle divisions. 40 rifle divisions were tasked with opening holes for the 15 mechanized corps numbering 30 tank, 15 mechanized and 6 cavalry divisions. Supporting the initial infantry assault was an air drop of 6 parachute divisions. Behind the tanks came the infantry tasked with mopping up the encircled German troops which added another 36 rifle divisions. All told the lead echelon and immediate follow on forces numbered 133 divisions.

        The Soviet forces attacked along three main axis of advance. In the north an offensive by the 1st Baltic Front was aimed at Konigsbeg and East Prussia, in the South towards Slovenia the 2nd Baltic Front aimed to cut Germany off from her Axis partners, while the main effort aimed at Warsaw and points west in the Center was handled by the Western Front. The goals were too effect the encirclement of the German army, especially the panzer divisions and a rapidly cross the Vistula with the further goal of obtaining beachheads across the Oder river on the outskirts of Berlin.

        In the South the Romania and Hungary were going to be hit be the 1st and 2nd Ukrainian and 1st Moldovan Fronts with a combined force of 93 divisions. Once a break though was achieved the Operational Maneuver Groups totaling 8 tank divisions, 5 mechanized divisions, 3 cavalry divisions, would be turned loose. The initial assault was to be made by 8 mountain and 45 rifle divisions divisions supported by an air drop of 9 parachute divisions. The mopping up operations would be handled by 15 rifle divisions. In total the Soviet offensive totaled 229 divisions and Stavka reserves added another 64 divisions for a gr and total of 295 Soviet divisions.

        Against the force pushing into Poland the Germans have 69 divisions, the rest being in the Balkans, Norway, France or Italy. All German infantry divisions have a full complement of pz-IV or stug III shorts and most AT guns have been upgraded to the 5cm pak 38. However, half the panzer divisions are equipped with tanks made before 1941, some still mount the 3.7cm gun. The more modern tanks having gone to Africa and now Sicily.

        Overall command of Army Group Poland is entrusted to Field Marshal Von Kluge who has adopted a version of the German trip wire defense. His front line is held thicker than he would like thanks to Hitler's orders but he has been able to secure the agreement of Berlin to release to him a number of divisions from the OKH reserve to strengthen his ability to counter attack. Likewise the closeness of the front to Berlin and the danger it poses convinced Hitler to re-assign the Luftwaffe to the Polish front once the Soviet attacked occurred.

        Now that the guns are firing...

        Updated OOB and commanders list

        Soviet

        Stavka (reserve- 64 divisions: 16 tank, 8 mechanized, 5 cavalry 40 rifle)

        Ioseph Stalin, Stavka, Generalissimo
        Seymon Timoshenko, Stavka, Defense Commissar)
        Boris Shaposhnikov, Stavka, chief of staff
        Kliment Voroshilov, Stavka, at large
        Lazar Kaganovich, Stavka (rail roads)
        Leonoid Beria, Stavka (intelligence)

        Poland- 113 divisions: 30 tank, 15 mechanized, 6 cavalry, 6 parachute, 76 rifle.

        Georgy Zuhkov, commanding

        Tank Army commanders-

        Ivan Konev, Center
        Nikolai Vatutin, Center
        Aleksandr Vasilevsky, North
        Andre Yeryomenko South

        Infantry Army commanders-

        Rodion Malinovsky, break in, Center
        Fyodor Tolbukhin, break in, North
        Kirill Meretskov, break in, South
        Leonoid Govorov, Reserve/ mopping up

        South (incomplete) 74 divisions: 8 tank, 5 mechanized, 3 cavalry, 8 mountain, 9 para, 60 rifle divisions.

        Seymon Budyonny commanding

        Army and Corps commanders-

        Fyodor Kuznetsov
        Shestapolov
        Kurkin
        Vasily Volsky
        Khatskilevich
        Andrei Zhdanov
        Pavel Belov
        Andrei Vlasov

        OOB- Forces West of the Urals
        295 divisions- 54 tank, 28 mechanized, 14 cavalry, 8 mountain, 15 parachute, 176 rifle.

        Germany

        214 total divisions 23 panzer, 12 motorized, 9 mountain, 4 parachute, 164 infantry

        Oberkommando
        Adolf Hitler- OKW commanding
        Wilhelm Keitel- OKW CoS
        Fedor von Bock- OHK commanding
        Alfred Jodl- OKH CoS
        Karl Donitz- OKM commanding
        Hans Georg von Friedeburg OKM CoS
        Albert Kesselring- OKL commanding
        Hans Jurgen-Stumpf OKL CoS
        Heinrich Himmler- SS commanding

        OKH reserves 2 panzer, 1 motorized, 1 mountain, 26 infantry divisions

        Army Group Poland

        Von Kluge commanding
        4th army : G. Heinrici
        9th army : W. Model
        16th army : E. Busch.
        18th army : Manstein

        AGP OOB- 10 panzer, 9 motorized, 1 mountain, 41 infantry divisions

        Army Group South

        Von Rundstedt commanding

        AGS OOB (includes other Axis forces)- 6 panzer, 2 motorized, 1 cavalry, 3 mountain, 51 infantry divisions

        Army Group West

        Von Witzleben commanding

        AGW OOB 1 panzer, 32 infantry divisions

        Army Group Norway

        Von Falkenhorst commanding

        AGN OOB 8 infantry 2 mountain divisions

        Army Group Italy

        Erwin Rommel Commanding

        AGI OOB 3 panzer, 8 infantry, 2 mountain divisions


        Other Axis Forces- East

        Divisions- 1 tank 9 cavalry 4 mountain, 55 infantry divisions

        Slovakia
        Francis Catlos
        2 infantry divisions

        Hungary
        F.Szombathelyi
        2 tank, 1 mountain 27 infantry divisions

        Romania
        Gen.d.Armata (Rum.) Ion Antonescu
        9 cavalry, 5 mountain, 23 infantry divisions

        Croatia
        Co unknown
        3 infantry divisions

        Other Axis outside the East

        Italy

        Benito Mussolini
        Commando Supremo
        V. Ambrosio 2nd army commanding
        R Graziani 5th army commanding
        U. Cavallero 9th army commanding
        G. Messe 11th army commanding

        OOB- 43 divisions: 3 armored, 6 motorized, 10 mountain, 1 parachute 2 cavalry 21 infantry

        Croatia

        5 infantry divisions


        Note- Bulgaria was never at war with the USSR and is a natural Soviet ally once it is safe to do so.

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        • #34
          This is something they may do - launch an all out bombardment - then step back and watch as the Germans react. Unlikely, but it would sure sow confusion among the enemy.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by zraver View Post

            In the South the Romania and Hungary were going to be hit be the 1st and 2nd Ukrainian and 1st Moldovan Fronts with a combined force of 93 divisions. Once a break though was achieved the Operational Maneuver Groups totaling 8 tank divisions, 5 mechanized divisions, 3 cavalry divisions, would be turned loose. The initial assault was to be made by 8 mountain and 45 rifle divisions divisions supported by an air drop of 9 parachute divisions. The mopping up operations would be handled by 15 rifle divisions. In total the Soviet offensive totaled 229 divisions and Stavka reserves added another 64 divisions for a gr and total of 295 Soviet divisions.
            That is a nightmare scenario for us. We cannot defend on the Prut River against that, more likely it would be a version on the 1940 defense plan.

            Mountain divisions ocupy the mountain passes, cavalry provides a screnning force, falling behind the carphatian mountains, some static divisions stay behind to disrupt the tempo of the soviet advance , the decisive battle is around the Focsani - Galati gap.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by 1st cavalry View Post
              That is a nightmare scenario for us. We cannot defend on the Prut River against that, more likely it would be a version on the 1940 defense plan.

              Mountain divisions ocupy the mountain passes, cavalry provides a screnning force, falling behind the carphatian mountains, some static divisions stay behind to disrupt the tempo of the soviet advance , the decisive battle is around the Focsani - Galati gap.
              Thanks for the info, I didn't think Romania and Hungary would have an easy go of it, or much of a chance at all, the scale of armaments on the Soviet side is massive and generally heavier than either would have on hand.

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