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Why there are no mech for sov?

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Looking over the war as a whole, it seems to me that 300km was about as far as an offensive could go in one pulse before it would have to pull up and wait for its logistical tail to catch up. Even the Western Allies with their genius for logistics had to pause after crossing France and Belgium. So designing a tank that would only go that far before it needed major maintenance does not strike me as necessarily a bad idea.

 

4th AD's Shermans covered that in a forced march of less than a day and went on to fight their way into Bastogne and throw the Wehrmacht back into Germany. If they'd had Panthers... would they have even arrived at all?

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Metz to Bastogne is 125 km.

300 km is the distance from Sedan on the Meuse to Abbeville near the channel, where the estuary reaches inland (distance covered by Guderian in one bound in 1940).

 

A tank should not fall out after driving 300 km.  If a portion do, that's OK, but not all of them or even half of them.  A poor design that might happen but if so you don't have a tank fleet capable of operational penetration and the characteristic effects of armor formations on that scale.  You instead have only a tactical weapon.

 

Russian tank losses each year after 1942 about matched production for that year; in 1941 they lost the pre-war fleet and in 1942 they lost only 1/3rd of production and rebuilt the fleet.

 

But the point is the actual average lifetime of a Russian tank from production to final loss was more like 1 year than a few days.

It spent a portion of that time in rear area stocks, another portion with its maneuver unit but not yet committed to heavy action, then a much shorter period in heavy action.

 

After a short period in heavy action, half the tanks would have been lost or would fall out, but mostly from enemy action not mechanical failure.

And the other half had to keep going, or the mechanized formation they formed the cutting edge of wouldn't have any combat power after penetrating.

They did a lot of their operational damage after that loss of half fighting through the enemy to the operational depths, then still being able to move and fight in those depths.

They lasted a few weeks in that role, deteriorating in the number of runners to be sure, but with recoveries keeping some going etc.

 

Then the formation had to pause to both refit tanks that fell out and to receive replacement tanks.  

They could not keep up the rate of loss experienced in heavy action for long periods, since the actual replacement rate was a year lifetime while the heavy action loss rate could be a 1-2 week lifetime.  

 

There are similar issues on the German side with their heavies especially.  They report reasonable readiness numbers as the percent combat ready out of the whole strength.  But if you go down to the individual division reports, you will find that they can lose half their strength in the first few days in heavy action, leaving running status for the various repair categories.

 

The reasonable readiness figures for whole fronts come from not all the units being heavily engaged.  They couldn't - if they were all heavily engaged at once, the global readiness figure would have fallen to 25% or so, not the 60-80% figures actually reported.

 

The missing variable is the percentage of time a tank formation actually spends fully committed to heavy combat.  It is only a small portion of the calendar.  For lots of the calendar, they are either in reserve off the front line (full strength cases) or they are in line but in a part of the front that has gone quiet for the present, often because both sides are locally fought out and exhausted (and at only quarter to half TOE strength, including repair category tanks).

Edited by JasonC

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Icecold - 900 halftracks spread over 37 Tank and Mechanized Corps is about 24 for each of them.  Only enough for the command vehicle and other support roles I explained above.

Of course they were not spread evenly.  But e.g. the Germans fielded over 15000 SPW 251s and managed to outfit only one battalion per Panzer division with them as an average.  6% as many halftracks for 50% more mobile formations means only about 1/25th as many per formation.  A narrower time window might raise that somewhat, but it still leaves them an order of magnitude less common than they were in the German side.  Which means they go from being organic infantry lift for 1-2 battalions per division to being command and utility vehicles only.

 

Incidentally, US lend lease provided 3300 M3 scout cars, 3 times as many as all kinds of halftracks (including gun armed and AA models etc).  That was enough to actually equip full motorcycle recon battalions with them by late war.  It is still far less than the German totals of SPW 250s, their smaller recon force halftrack (18000 fielded, including gun armed types etc).

 

Also for comparison, the US produced around 46000 M3 and M5 halftracks overall, about 50% more than the Germans produced of both types of SPWs.  That was enough to equip all 3 armored infantry battalions in all US armored divisions with them as organic lift, with plenty leftover for LL to the British, US armored cavalry formations, the AAA units, command vehicles in the artillery, etc.

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Metz to Bastogne is 125 km.

 

As the Crow flies...

 

According to every single source I have available to me (like Hugh Cole's *The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge*) gives 4AD's CCB marched 150-160 miles (about 250km) just to launch the attack to relieve Bastogne, and it was not even remotely a fresh outfit - most of its active AFVs were issued in England prior to Overlord and were already beat to **** after being involved in heavy campaigning. They also did it with strictly limited supply and in highly unfavourable climatic conditions.

 

(edit) 4AD's rest-area following their campaigning on the Siegfried line was Domnon-les-Dieuze, when they moved into Belgium they marched to the vicinity of Nives via Longwy.

Edited by LemuelG

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(edit) 4AD's rest-area following their campaigning on the Siegfried line was Domnon-les-Dieuze, when they moved into Belgium they marched to the vicinity of Nives via Longwy.

G-Maps pegs that as just a hair over 200km.

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G-Maps pegs that as just a hair over 200km.

 

How does it work that out? Does it know the exact route 4AD CCB took and the exact layout of the roads there in 1944? Does it know the location of the front lines and unit divisions? I know it's quite a useful tool, but I didn't think it was quite that good. Maybe they got temporarily lost traveling at night in unfamiliar country they had not been prepared to navigate (they had been ready to head east), maybe they had to detour because of blockages or to avoid snarling with other units rushing to block the shoulder of the German advance? I don't know, Google doesn't know... you don't know.

 

Forgive me, but I'm going to take the word of the 8th battalion's CO (who led CCB on that march) over a lazy reckoning on Google Maps - 161 miles, in under a day. Why would he lie? Who knows better than he his mileage? You? It would be quite a shock for you to overturn the well-established historiography of the battle after a quick glance a Google Maps, a second ago you thought they were in Metz (clearly confused with their Army HQ).

 

http://www.historynet.com/world-war-ii-battle-of-the-bulge-4th-armored-division-help-end-the-siege-of-bastogne.htm

Edited by LemuelG

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No need to be so aggressive.

 

Yes, of course the road net is (slightly) different now than then, and the only three points are used are the three you gave: start-point, end-point, and Longwy. Mapping it on G-Maps provides a rough ball park for the distance ... one that's close to 250km than it is to 125.

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3rd Corps HQ and the entire 26th Infantry Division were in Metz when the order came to move north.  The 26th had just been pulled off the line to take 2600 infantry replacements and had started a month-long training program to integrate the new men - they got 2 days instead.

 

80th Infantry was the 2nd ID in the corps.  It had a 150 mile road march to Luxembourg city.

 

Each of the IDs had a tank and a TD battalion attached.  There were also 11 artillery battalions in the corps park, behind the jump off by dawn of December 22nd.

 

4th AD drove 150 miles as well, some units 160 miles, with its CCB arriving before the rest of the corps.  It was short about 750 men and 21 medium tanks, and the tanks were old.  One battalion had 33 tanks fall out during the road march, which means the majority of its strength.  Those had to trickle in as repaired.  They did have a delay from midnight of the 20th (first arrival of CCB) until dawn of the 22nd for the corps jump off, though advanced units were engaged some in that period.

 

The base of the attack was at Arlons, with the road Luxembourg city to Arlons toward Neufchateau the corps MSR "baseline".  

The attack's main axis the Arlons to Bastogne highway.

The IDs echeloned right and pulled somewhat northeast as the attack developed, to cover that flank.  80th ID kept touch with XII corps to the right of III corps.

 

So the 26th ID, the corps HQ, and a fair portion of the artillery only had to move from Metz to Arlons.  The 4th AD made the longest move to contact; the 80th also had a long move but then covered the corps right.

 

The tanks did *not* manage to make the trip without serious maintenance losses en route.  They had such losses.  They just got some of the force to the jump off rapidly, then spent about 2 days closing up and gathering in their road-march stragglers, setting up the artillery behind the front, etc. The infantry divisions got 1 and 2 days notice of the attack from their assembly areas to jump off, not much of a pause but not straight into action.  The 26th ID with the shortest move had the better part of 2 days, though part of one was spent closing from Arlons to contact, and many of the men were new and just getting use to their units etc.

 

FWIW...

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The tanks did *not* manage to make the trip without serious maintenance losses en route.  They had such losses.

 

Not really my point, though it's all quite interesting to me. In spite of their attrition they did indeed manage to make good on it and maintain their combat strength at acceptable levels - levels which proved superior to the best the Wehrmacht had left available to them.

 

If I had a point, it's that designing a tank for redundancy after x km because that's about how far an offensive might realistically travel before reaching a culminating point is not sensible (I know that's not your argument, but you touched upon my point, so I defended it), that there are certainly contingent situations in which tankers would be obliged to undertake forced marches of hundreds of km, and then sustain enough fighting power to go a few hundred more, in combat. And when it broke down, hopefully it could be restored in field conditions with minimal effort - the Panther's transmission was not only laughably frail and prone to crapping the bed, but when it did it was extremely difficult to replace, not to mention the difficulties of recovering the vehicle in battle.

 

I asked before: would they have made it at all had they been equipped with Panthers? What do you think, now you've become acquainted (better than I, on appearance) with the situation?

 

It seems to me the law of averages and operational history dictates that no, no way they could have. How did this notable lack of operational mobility effect the Wehrmacht? Probably quite negatively, I say, knowing full well it's outside the purview of this game and thread. If the Panther was a kind of fire-and-forget disposable weapon, it sure was expensive and demanding of material.

 

 

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If I had a point, it's that designing a tank for redundancy after x km because that's about how far an offensive might realistically travel before reaching a culminating point is not sensible (I know that's not your argument, but you touched upon my point, so I defended it), that there are certainly contingent situations in which tankers would be obliged to undertake forced marches of hundreds of km, and then sustain enough fighting power to go a few hundred more, in combat. And when it broke down, hopefully it could be restored in field conditions with minimal effort...

 

Sure, that would be ideal. But there are a couple of points we need to get clear on. Europeans at that time were not as accustomed to automotive travel and the huge industries to support it as Americans were. In Europe, people and goods moved mostly by train and had for decades. Thus they had invested in a huge infrastructure to service that means of transportation. So it was with European armies as well. If you had a battalion of tanks that needed to go more than, say, 100 miles, you loaded them on a train and moved them that way. But in the US army, whether through foresight or happenstance built their machines to travel long distances on their own wheels or tracks and do it reliably. This turned out to be a good thing in 1944 because the Allies bombed the hell out of the rail net in Western Europe and rendered it all but unusable. It took months to get it up to anything like its pre-war efficiency. Not just tanks, but all manner of vehicles and the goods and personnel carried by them had to go by road. This was not a great way to move stuff in the quantities required, but it sufficed...just barely. The Germans were not prepared to do the same kinds of things, and that was a contributing factor to their losing the war.

 

Michael

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LemuelG - so I've mislead you and I was wrong.  You got me curious so I dug into the question of the 4th ADs move north.  I find that Hugh Cole's coverage of this in the official history - which my previous post above relied on - has been superseded by better coverage that found mistakes in his account, including the item about the number of tanks that fell out on the drive north.  The better source is the 4th division history, put together well after the event by interviews of the men involved.  It refutes the account given in Cole, and traces it to a bad AAR interview at the time that fed up the chain unchallenged.  The interviewer appears to have misunderstood what he was told, and to have confused an accurate count of the tanks that *arrived* in the 8th Armored Battalion for the number that it lost on the move north.  The commander of the battalion tells the author of the division history that none of his tanks fell out on the drive - that all made it.  If any needed repair on the way they got it rapidly and got back on the road.  It is also clear that his operational tank strength after arriving was right around the 33 figure quoted.

 

Here is the picture I've been able to put together.

 

The point about which there is the greatest clarity and certainty is that the 4th AD arrived just south of Bastogne with only about 105 medium tanks, counting the 105mm assault gun models, and with more like 90-95 of the 76mm and 75mm types.  This is about 60% of the rated TOE of 177 medium tanks (53 76+75 and 6 105 in each of 3 battalions).  This is a count of running tanks, not tanks on strength.  It is provided by armor officers commanding units and collaborated by detailed AARs of the fights they engaged in, in the early stages of the fight outside Bastogne.

 

The next point about which there is clarity is that the men who made the move do not think any significant number of tanks fell out on the move itself.  These are from interviews long after the event, but there is no reason to doubt them.  They provide a clear and consistent account of a long 160 mile drive conducted in a single 18 hour day, from well before dawn to well after dark, with a 2 hour refueling pause the only significant rest along the way.  That is an average road speed of 10 mph and perfectly feasible, even over the sometimes icy road conditions they describe.  Fatigue and driving nose to tail in the dark under blackout conditions are the leading characteristic of the accounts.  Vehicles falling out do not figure.

 

The official history seems to think the 4th was only short 21 medium tanks before the move.  This is a rear area staffer and accountant's number, and undoubtedly reflects the tanks actually on strength before the move.  The unit had been out of the line for 10 days and had time to refit, but after a period of prolonged combat in the Lorraine campaign.  All accounts agree that some of the tanks had been with the unit since Normandy.  Others were clearly recent arrivals e.g. they did have some 76mm, enough to equip about a third of the tanks in 1 battalion e.g., and a few in the others.  The rear area, pre move figure implies 156 tanks on paper before the move.

 

As near as I can tell, all of the above are accurate enough.  They only arrived with 105 and the unit had 156 on its paper strength when it was in the Lorraine.  But not because 50 or so fell out on the road march north.  I would estimate no more than 10 did so, and the right number might be as low as 0.  So what happened to the other 40 or  50?

 

I think they just didn't make the march, rather than falling out during it.  They were not in running condition.  They might reflect the books not being accurate in the first place - paper tanks only - but more likely they reflected tanks in the workshops or being cannibalized for spare parts, in no condition to make the move.  They were left behind. left to rear area services, etc.  There is always a difference between truly *operational* tanks and tanks on strength, and I think that standing difference just became actual and permanent when the division shifted station.

 

They certainly only had about 105 tanks for the Bulge fight. It is not certain they actually had 156 in Lorraine.  Most that could start and could run the day they got the order to move, made the move and made it successfully.

 

That is what I found.  It does revise the picture and toward what you had suggested - that the Sherman was exceptionally reliable as an operational scale medium tank.

 

FWIW...

Edited by JasonC

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There are similar issues on the German side with their heavies especially.  They report reasonable readiness numbers as the percent combat ready out of the whole strength.  But if you go down to the individual division reports, you will find that they can lose half their strength in the first few days in heavy action, leaving running status for the various repair categories.

 

 

 

Reading through the combat history of the 23rd Panzer Division, then you really get a sense of how quickly a Panzer Division deteriorated in strength when in combat. I would venture to say that the overall combat readiness of the tanks was less than 20% of the official ToE after even a few days of combat. The division never seemed to manage to concentrate much more than 20 or 30 tanks at one point. 

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Reading through the combat history of the 23rd Panzer Division, then you really get a sense of how quickly a Panzer Division deteriorated in strength when in combat. I would venture to say that the overall combat readiness of the tanks was less than 20% of the official ToE after even a few days of combat. The division never seemed to manage to concentrate much more than 20 or 30 tanks at one point. 

 

I am having this problem in Gary Grigsbys: War in the East, serious wear and tear starts way earlier than I expected, the war of attrition is already in full swing a week in.

Edited by Raptorx7

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I am having this problem in Gary Grigsbys: War in the East, serious wear and tear starts way earlier than I expected, the war of attrition is already in full swing a week in.

How is that game working for you? I am still having problems getting my head around it. Seems like I always end up with a war of attrition. 

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I am having this problem in Gary Grigsbys: War in the East, serious wear and tear starts way earlier than I expected, the war of attrition is already in full swing a week in.

 

Part of the problem might have been due to the fact that the Panzer divisions were used not only for exploitation, but as break in formations. As such, they were exposed to the highest levels of AT defense. By comparison, the Allies tended to use infantry divisions for the initial break in and only got the armored divisions rolling after the enemy's defenses had been seriously attrited. The massive amounts of artillery available to the Allies, especially after mid-war was also a great help in the initial phases of an offensive.

 

Michael

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How is that game working for you? I am still having problems getting my head around it. Seems like I always end up with a war of attrition. 

 

The best way is also the most obvious, do the Velukie tutorial as Soviets and read along in the tutorial manual with it, once you have done that I recommend following this guide. After following these guides I recommend the road to Minsk scenario next as it is only 3 turns long and you will learn how to exploit and encircle Soviet formations in short order, infact instead of finishing off Road to Leningrad as that guide I linked suggest, do Minsk instead!

 

I am no pro at it as I have only just started playing a couple weeks ago, but the most important thing in the beginning is to have the infantry divisions do as much of the fighting as possible and let your Panzers and motorized divisions exploit as much as possible. Attack along rail lines and make sure Soviet units cannot interfere with rail repair as it is imperative your logistics are kept in check, be aware of where your supplies are coming from and make sure they are getting through. Panzer divisions are exceptionally powerful, but they are going no where and doing nothing without fuel.

 

While cliche Ill let Guderian do some taking here, his quotes are as relevant as they were back than...

 

"If the tanks succeed, then victory follows."

 

"You hit somebody with your fist and not with your fingers spread."

 

"Logistics is the ball and chain of armored warfare."

 

One last thing to recognize is that you are fighting against history, playing as Germany is kind of like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, in the beginning things are easy, but the odds are forever against you if you fail to meet satisfactory objectives before the first winter. Of course it is still fun to see how you will do for the rest of the war but the writing is on the wall so to speak at that point, we all know how this story ends, its up to you to see how long you can last.

 

Edit: One final thing :P, it is impossible to stop operational losses that occur during movement, such as a truck breaking down or a panzer, try to follow terrain that is as open and clear as possible to mitigate this, for example, the pripyat marshes are a nightmare and you are better off completely avoiding them as they ramp up those losses. The motor pool at the top right is also super important to keep an eye on as once you have less trucks than you need things start to get very interesting for Germany logistics wise.

 

Part of the problem might have been due to the fact that the Panzer divisions were used not only for exploitation, but as break in formations. As such, they were exposed to the highest levels of AT defense. By comparison, the Allies tended to use infantry divisions for the initial break in and only got the armored divisions rolling after the enemy's defenses had been seriously attrited. The massive amounts of artillery available to the Allies, especially after mid-war was also a great help in the initial phases of an offensive.

 

Michael

 

Yes definitely, I try my best to have my infantry divisions do the fighting as much as possible, unfortunately it is inevitable that the panzers will have to engage the enemy as well at the tip of the spear. Unfortunately the enemy at that tip of the spear are fresh Russian infantry corps numbering in the 30,000's of men or tank corps with hundreds of tanks. Choosing when to consolidate and wait for the infantry in early Barbarossa is difficult because you have to advance as fast and violent as possible if you have any chance of surviving that first winter.

Edited by Raptorx7

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