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Paulus tries to maintain a strong armored corps at Stalingrad

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  • Paulus tries to maintain a strong armored corps at Stalingrad

    Historically, Paulus burned out his armored and mot Infantry formations in the city fighting, so when Uranus came..he was without a strong armored reserve. For instance, Hube's Panzer korps, when it came to fight Uranus....had only the equivalent of a single panzer battalion operational.

    He had to follow Hitler's order to take the city as rapidly as possible and remove the Soviet bridgeheads. Panzers divisions (most obviously, 24th Panzer) were used as a literal elite sledgehammers to kick the door in and take much the city as rapidly as possible.

    What if he did not? What if he committed the panzer and mobile formations to more passive defensive roles, and instead burned out his infantry units completely?

    What would the Soviet response be and what would change?

  • #2
    Paulus doesn't have much choice. He had to strip every formation at Stalingrad of its motor vehicles to maintain a supply line forward. Decent rail connections ended well to his rear at Stalino.

    AGS's panzer divisions started the campaign down as much as a battalion each on tanks and things didn't get better.

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    • #3
      Where did you read of 'strip every formation...'? I know that Stalino was their hub (Luftflotte IV's HQ was there) but I never heard of that.

      By the time they broke through the ring in Stalingrad, they were indeed at a battalion of tanks. I recently finished studying the history of the 24th Panzer at Stalingrad. (sig link)

      Based on this, I believe that their panzer regiments, if kept out of the city fighting would have been able to repair, accumulate spare parts and replacement engines so by mid November they would be much closer to their starting strengths. This would require the panzer regiments to be kept out of urban combat.

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      • #4
        So if Paulus maintains his armored formations, what would have changed? The Russians would still have counter-attacked and cut off the 6th army. I don't see one full strength panzer division changing that. The only advantage I can think of is being better able to attack south, while the rest of AGS attacks north. But as long as Hitler doesn't allow Paulus to abandon Stalingrad, which I doubt he ever would've, the ultimate outcome would be the same.

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        • #5
          My thread is not about the 6th Army 'winning'- it cannot given the massive size of Red Army and VVS reserves that reached the battle zone in Nov.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
            Where did you read of 'strip every formation...'? I know that Stalino was their hub (Luftflotte IV's HQ was there) but I never heard of that.

            By the time they broke through the ring in Stalingrad, they were indeed at a battalion of tanks. I recently finished studying the history of the 24th Panzer at Stalingrad. (sig link)

            Based on this, I believe that their panzer regiments, if kept out of the city fighting would have been able to repair, accumulate spare parts and replacement engines so by mid November they would be much closer to their starting strengths. This would require the panzer regiments to be kept out of urban combat.
            What I'm saying is that if he doesn't strip the division of its motor vehicles, in essence rendering it static even if it were at full strength on panzers, the supply situation would remain precarious before the Russian offensive and things really wouldn't change.
            Panzers without support are really going nowhere.

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            • #7
              If not committed to urban fighting the units would have been committed somewhere else.
              Wisdom is personal

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              • #8
                I recently finished 24th Panzer, Beyond Stalingrad: Operations of Army Group Don, and Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe.

                What I got from this:

                -If a stronger personality and more objective COS was in charge of the 6th Army, I believe that Paulus could have rehabilitated the 14th, 16th, and 24th Panzer regiments and their SPW & Kradschutzen battalions by placing them on the flanks of Stalingrad as armored reserves. Some infantry units holding the north and southeast would then be shifted to attack the city.

                -Paulus could have placated Hitler by keeping all three panzer divisions in Stalingrad, but only to hold the line or the provide flank protection..thus minimizing their losses. The 3 panzerartillery regiments will be mostly engaged (part outside the city, most inside of it) and the Panzergrenadier and Panzerpioneer battalions would hold the line more passively. The motorized infantry, infantry and Jager divisions will now be the Assault spearhead.

                -The motorized infantry division on the southeast flank of Stalingrad could then be fully deployed in the city fighting with their tank battalion.



                The result of this by mid Nov is the fact that the Germans hold considerably less of Stalingrad, and have not reached the factory complexes alongside the Volga. But when Uranus mobilizes, they have 3 medium strong panzer divisions ready. The motorized Infantry, Jager, and ID will become considerably weaker than historically.

                What would the Soviet response be? I haven't read Glantz' Stalingrad trilogy yet but there would be changes.

                In Mid- Dec. Manstein's four Panzer divisions (essentially 1 strong (6th Panzer), 1 medium strong strength (11th Panzer) and 2 weak (23rd PzD and 22nd PzD) and infantry will attempt to connect with the 6th Army.
                Last edited by Cult Icon; 30 Aug 14, 14:38.

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                • #9
                  Everything Cult Icon said is basically correct, and a Mark III with a 50mm gun wasn't doing anything in Stalingrad but providing moral support for the infantry until it was inevitably lit-up by Molotov cocktails.

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                  • #10
                    I would propose another, more realistic "what if". By late August, Hoth had decided that his men would no longer fight over the heavily fortified hills south of Krasnoarmeisk. In a bold plan he pulled out his Panzer and Motorized formations and moved them 50km away, towards Abganerovo area, 65km south of Stalingrad to attack northwards to outflank the left wing of the 64th Army. The plan worked so well, that Germans saw an opportunity to now pocket the 62nd and 64th Armies.
                    However, the problem was that Paulus was unable to spring a couple of divisions to free his mobile formations to meet Hoth's armor coming from the south. What If Paulus had been able to become the northern half of the pincers, encircling two armies and facing significantly weaker city defense?

                    Regarding your plan, in light of events in hindsight, your option seem to be more sensible option than historical approach.

                    I would combine that with "corset" approach on the flank. The term "corset" was used to describe how German units were distributed around the different defense sectors to act as "Korsettstangen" or "corset-stiffeners". Rommel used this in North Africa "stiffen" his less well motivated and equipped Italian allies along his lines. This variant has a German infantry corps move from the north flank facing the Don Front and its infantry divisions corseted with Romanian divisions. On the southern flank, one the Romanian 20th Infantry Division could been interleaved with the German 297. Infantry Division to screen the Ivanovka sector while the 71. Infantry Division would been attached to the Romanian VI. Army Corps to stiffen the
                    Romanian defense in the lake country. Panzer units detached from Stalingrad itself would have been stationed somewhere in order to provide a ready reserve for the 6th Army.

                    Historically, on the second day of the Soviet offensive, a unsatisfactory supplied 51st and 57th Army joined in the attack from the southern flank. It was once again focused on shattering the weaker Romanian infantry formations, holding the flanks of the 6th Army. In the northernmost section of the south flank battle, the task of 57th Army was to breach the line in the sector held by the Romanian 20th Infantry Division. This first part of the battle developed as the Soviets had planned, but as the tanks of the 13th Tank Corps streamed through the line, they were met by a powerful force from the German 29th Motorized Infantry Division. It had set off "hell for leather" at the first sign of trouble, catching the Russian tankers by surprise, engaging them at close range and destroying numerous T-34. The action by this crack unit fresh off refit saved the day in this sector. We could imagine similar actions elsewhere might have delayed Soviet offensive.

                    But then, such armored reserves wouldn't have passed unnoticed by Soviets, so they would have probably strengthened their own assault as well.
                    It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge.

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                    • #11
                      It may make sense but it ignores the reality that German tanks and assault guns provided very much needed firepower support to help shoot German infantry onto their objectives. The Germans launched a series of set piece co-ordinated attacks that could not have gaind the ground necessary except for the tanks playing their primary role as infantry support vehicles. Red Army machine guns could not do much to a tank, they could stop entire rifle companies lacking armoured support.

                      The Red Army would have held much more ground and German losses would have been much heavier had the tabks 'sat it out' in the rear or the flanks. Offensive assets sitting idle is not the way to tip the balance when it appeared that the Red Army was on its last legs.

                      Had the tanks sat it out the complaint would then have been:

                      "Stalingrad would have fallen if only Paulus had supported the infantry assaults with armour. What good is a tank sitting around if not used on the attack? Paulus was a fool".
                      The Purist

                      Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                        Paulus doesn't have much choice. He had to strip every formation at Stalingrad of its motor vehicles to maintain a supply line forward. Decent rail connections ended well to his rear at Stalino.

                        AGS's panzer divisions started the campaign down as much as a battalion each on tanks and things didn't get better.
                        The stripping of motor vehicles did certainly not take place .

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                        • #13
                          It is certainly not a good idea to use panzer divisions in an urban battle.
                          That is not their role. Infantry dvisons can be given enough extra firepower to conduct the urban battle without having to use the mobile divisons. And it was fundamentally never a good idea to take Staingrad in the first place .
                          Having 14 th , 24 th and 16 th panzer in reserve with sufficient fuel would have been better than what actually happened.

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                          • #14
                            It is their (the tanks) primary role. The tanks is first, second and last a combat vehicle for supporting the infantry and heping them achieve their objectives, assist in breaching the front, consolidating gains, repelling counterattacks and exhausting reserves.

                            Only then can the tanks, in concert with mobile infantry and artillery, exploit a breach and compel an enemy to withdraw or be isolated and destroyed.
                            The Purist

                            Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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                            • #15
                              Mobile divisions should not be used in urban combat. That is not their role.
                              The infantrydivisions have their own firepower which can be augmented by extra assets if needed. And there is the airsupport.
                              And all that is forgeting that Stalingrad should not have been taken in the first place as this causes too heavy losses and fixes too many forces in place.

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