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German High Command copies Soviet Directive

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  • German High Command copies Soviet Directive

    In October 16, 1942 a special order of the People's Commissariat of Defense instituted a regulation that tank and mechanized corps be used as single entities for powerful attacks and counterattacks, and prohibited the fragmented use of these valuable operational formations.

    Armored corps were no longer dispersed into several battle groups and attacks occurred in unison.

    What if Hitler issues this order? The Panzer divisions no longer turn into a general purpose lab to conjure up various (often brigade and regimental sized) Kampfgruppen and instead must defend or attack as a single body.

    What happens to the nature of WW2 from late 1942 onward?
    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

  • #2
    In the world of theory this comes close to Guderians 1930s claim that: 'The armored division is a strategic weapon'.

    In part the fragmentation of the German armored forces was forced by the inability to build or field as much in the way of motorized/mechanized corps as their enimies. Being outnumbered in the battle zone created emergencies that encouraged smaller more flexible sub groups of the corps. There is still Hitlers uneven thinking & influence in this, but eliminating that does not remove all the incentive to operate battle groups independantly from the parent division.

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    • #3
      I can see the post 1942 proliferation of new panzer and panzergrenadier divisions being stopped as the existing units are kept closer to TOE and full strength than before. There will be no 9th SS, 10th SS, Panzer Lehr, Brandenburg, Feld-H..etc.

      What really proliferates are independent armored brigades and battalions but I don't think this will offset the loss of Panzer divisions as fire brigades. The character of German operations will change and in the short term, the hard pressed infantry will suffer but the prospect of this is offset in varying degrees by larger scale operational pushes by the panzer divisions.

      The Soviet response? Probably a decentralization of their armor and the construction of more independent tank destroyer brigades and regiments.

      The US would probably not change doctrine by much, as the German regulation would make US tank destroyer and independent tank battalions more useful.
      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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      • #4
        More StuG Abteilungs being formed?

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        • #5
          Probably more independent stug/TD brigades and the raising of Panzer brigades (1 bat. panzer, 1 bat. mechanized or mot. infantry) instead of more panzer divisions.

          The Panzer brigade idea failed badly in France 1944 since like soviet brigades of 1942...the units lacked artillery, recon, adequate repair facilities, etc.

          Maybe independent artillery battalions?
          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


          • #6
            I'm starting to believe that the decentralization of the panzer divisions for the purposes of mobile defense and the failure of the Germans to accumulate strategic reserves increased the speed of their defeat in 1943-1945.

            The Wehr suffered from organizational and strategic inertia like the Soviets in 1941 but unlike the soviets...they never overcame them.
            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


            • #7
              The problem is that situations dictate specific actions and lets face it by October 1942 the German Panzer Korps was not exactly the same shape as of 22nd June 1941, add the disaster of Stalingrad, coupled withn the folly of the failure of the Caucasus venture, and that the Germans were being pressed in a two front war in North Africa. One simple fact is that the Soviet Directive could be maintained due to the fact that the Soviets were fighting on a single front, and not spread out on multiple fronts.

              I would say that Hitlers directive such as the one from the Soviets would have failed, especially after the Italian and French invasions by the Western Allies.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                ...

                The Soviet response? Probably a decentralization of their armor and the construction of more independent tank destroyer brigades and regiments.

                ...
                I may be wrong, am not the expert on the Eastern Front, but back in the school days I remember Professor Rothenberg telling us about the "Big Sword Little Sword" doctrine of the Red Army from mid 1942 & beyond. Part of this was keeping a large portion of the tank regiments or brigades, and the other armored weapons like the Su76 or the JSU types in smaller independant brigades that supported the infantry armies. He indicated the majority of the Red Army armored regiments (60%?) of 1942-45 were in these independant brigades. It sounded like these brigades as part of the infantry armies functioned similar to the Armored and Tank Destroyer battalions within the US Army corps, or maybe the independant tank brigades in the Commonwealth armies. That is those capable of AT combat deployed to deal with the initial stages of a German armored attack. The Red Army Tank Corps of 1942-45 deployed against attacking German armored or mobile forces when the attack was large enough those attached to the infantry armies could not handle the situation.

                From a seperate study just a few years ago I did notice that nearly all the Su76 combat vehicles were in such independant regiments or brigades in the infantry armies. So were a large portion or the turretless TD with the 85mm guns.

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                • #9
                  As the war went on, the Germans kept on producing entirely new panzer divisions even after the Soviets stopped forming new ones. (mid 1943). I think they made too many and screwed themselves even more.

                  These panzer divisions...like Panzer Lehr... were usually strong initially but got precious little in terms of rehabilitation and replacements.

                  So you have mostly half or quarter strength panzer divisions on the field in 1944-1945. Many were more like reinforced regiments and were panzer divisions in name only.

                  Originally posted by Roddoss72 View Post
                  The problem is that situations dictate specific actions and lets face it by October 1942 the German Panzer Korps was not exactly the same shape as of 22nd June 1941, add the disaster of Stalingrad, coupled withn the folly of the failure of the Caucasus venture, and that the Germans were being pressed in a two front war in North Africa. One simple fact is that the Soviet Directive could be maintained due to the fact that the Soviets were fighting on a single front, and not spread out on multiple fronts.

                  I would say that Hitlers directive such as the one from the Soviets would have failed, especially after the Italian and French invasions by the Western Allies.
                  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
                    They first decentralized the red army's armored force after the disasters of 1941 so by 41' and 42' most red army armored forces were brigades, regiments, and battalions.

                    Starting from the fall of 1942 the Red Army once again started to centralize their armored forces and produced a first set of new Armored corps (~ 7,000 men, 170+ tanks) These units were used in the successful Uranus and Little Saturn operations.

                    By 1943 more and more armor was centralized into the armored corps and mechanized corps. By mid 1943 the standard core of a Tank Army was 2 armored corps and 1 mechanized corps. This was supported by over half dozen specialist regiments and brigades. Some of these were independent armor units.

                    Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                    I may be wrong, am not the expert on the Eastern Front, but back in the school days I remember Professor Rothenberg telling us about the "Big Sword Little Sword" doctrine of the Red Army from mid 1942 & beyond.
                    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


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                      Probably more independent stug/TD brigades and the raising of Panzer brigades (1 bat. panzer, 1 bat. mechanized or mot. infantry) instead of more panzer divisions.

                      The Panzer brigade idea failed badly in France 1944 since like soviet brigades of 1942...the units lacked artillery, recon, adequate repair facilities, etc.

                      Maybe independent artillery battalions?
                      Keep in mind the Brigades where a 1944 creation, from 1940 to 1944 they where largely issued in Abteilung (battalion) sized units, though often the 1942 formation (with three batteries of 10 StuGs each with a vehicle for the unit commander for a total of 31) was often noted as a brigade but officially it was a "Abteilung".

                      IIRC in the late 1942 (around October), period their was roughly 19 "battalions" of StuGs in use.

                      Number of "Battalion sized units raised during that year (well roughly), not including a number of independent batteries... (though many latter on got absorbed...)
                      1940 ~7 Battalions formed
                      1941 ~11 battalions formed
                      1942 ~9 battalions formed
                      1943 ~22 battalions formed
                      1944 ~4 battalions formed
                      -Note around February 1944 most of the existing units where flagged as Sturmgeschütz-Brigades

                      As for Independent artillery their was a large number of Army level artillery battalions.

                      Of which if their own charts are to believed, they had in around late 1942 as "Army Troops" 25 battalions of 105mm cannons (I.e. 10cm K18s), 11 mixed battalions (10cm K18s and 15cm sFH18s), 42 battalions of sFH18s, 2 battalions with 24cm howitzers, 25 battalions with 21cm howitzers (21 cm Mrs 18), 3 battalions with 305mm guns (or larger), 6 battalions with 15cm cannons (15cm K18), 1 battalion with 21cm cannons (21cm K38) and 1 with 24cm cannons (the 24cm K3)

                      Their was also 17 battalions of Nebelwerfers.

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