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Was lend-lease essential in securing a Soviet victory?


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Apart from the turning point IN the war, there is the strange phenomenon of Germany not really having a war economy until 1942-1943. They theoretically could have begun working on that from around mid 1930's, somehow one would say that they weren't planning for a world war... which they begun.

Well I guess its from what perspective you look at it from. Clearly all this mess was started well before WWI.. and the interim. For me I find Churchill interesting... but a warmonger who wanted to take more colonies in Africa and the Far East, and saw an opportunity.

look at IRAQ, and the BALKANS.. the Allies started that mess with their mishandling of drawing up borders and new nations. All that talk is for a different thread though.

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Well I guess its from what perspective you look at it from. Clearly all this mess was started well before WWI.. and the interim. For me I find Churchill interesting... but a warmonger who wanted to take more colonies in Africa and the Far East, and saw an opportunity.

look at IRAQ, and the BALKANS.. the Allies started that mess with their mishandling of drawing up borders and new nations. All that talk is for a different thread though.

The British empire (primarily, apart from other European nations) is responsible for most of the 'ruler' type of borders in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. Partly the reason of the instability that has ruled those parts of the world since. The USA followed up intermingling in the so called 'nation states' those borders created to cater its own interests and the rest of the west is guilty for helping to maintain those nations regimes that are 'friendly' (profitable) to the west, be it a dictator or a democracy. According to our norms by which we judge other nation states, this is hypocrite at best.

Indeed for another thread ;-)

Back to WWII: Knowing full well that the history I know is written by the victor, there is still much reasoning in favor of my statement that the German leadership was the main responsible party in the escalation of the war that we know as WWII. Perhaps it couldn't have been avoided because of previous events which I think for a large part find their origin in Germany becoming a proper nation state in 1871 and other nation state's reservations about that. But, the when and how of WWII derived from the initiative Germany showed in 1939, 1940 and 1941. The rest is history.

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The British empire (primarily, apart from other European nations) is responsible for most of the 'ruler' type of borders in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. Partly the reason of the instability that has ruled those parts of the world since. The USA followed up intermingling in the so called 'nation states' those borders created to cater its own interests and the rest of the west is guilty for helping to maintain those nations regimes that are 'friendly' (profitable) to the west, be it a dictator or a democracy. According to our norms by which we judge other nation states, this is hypocrite at best.

Indeed for another thread ;-)

pfft, this thread should have ended on page one, what the heck

While it is true that a lot issues can be traced to borders being drawn at the end of the colonial era that just didn't/don't work, I can't say I really know what the hell the colonial powers were supposed to do. Most of the colonies were not nation states and had no fundamental borders to speak of to establish. So while it is easy to fault Britain and France for example of the creation of a good part of the middle east boundaries it is harder to say just what kind of a division would have made more sense. We certainly haven't gotten any better at it since. Hell look at Belgium, there is still talk there of splitting that country. Italy had discussions at one point about splitting North and south as the south was considered such a drag on the northern economy. Catalonia is still talking independence etc etc..

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Lethaface - well the Germans did plan to start a major European war. They just thought it would start in 1942. This was clear from their various four year plans and other military planning bits. They hadn't expected France and Britain to follow through on Poland, and believed the pact with the Russians would deter them after seeing how they behaved over the Czech crisis earlier.

When they did find themselves in that major war ahead of schedule, they accelerated everything two years. This did limit e.g. their planned capacity increases in synthetic oil production (from coal), their strategic metals stockpiles, and the like. But then they still didn't focus their economy on armaments production, or seriously curtail civilian expenditure. They redirected investment spending and construction spending, but it was a redeployment of future oriented spending rather than sharply curtailing it to focus on "right the hell now". The reduced civilian spending modestly in 1942, and armaments production does take off then. They don't pull out all the stops until 1943.

Basically they tried to fight the war on the cheap without sacrifice of consumption domestically as long as they thought they were winning. When they realized they were not remotely winning, the Allies had an 18-24 month head start in full concentration on immediate armaments output.

But yes, it is indeed paradoxical that the folks who planned and started it were slow on the full commitment trigger. That was a result of overconfidence, as much as anything...

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Lethaface - well the Germans did plan to start a major European war. They just thought it would start in 1942. This was clear from their various four year plans and other military planning bits. They hadn't expected France and Britain to follow through on Poland, and believed the pact with the Russians would deter them after seeing how they behaved over the Czech crisis earlier.

When they did find themselves in that major war ahead of schedule, they accelerated everything two years. This did limit e.g. their planned capacity increases in synthetic oil production (from coal), their strategic metals stockpiles, and the like. But then they still didn't focus their economy on armaments production, or seriously curtail civilian expenditure. They redirected investment spending and construction spending, but it was a redeployment of future oriented spending rather than sharply curtailing it to focus on "right the hell now". The reduced civilian spending modestly in 1942, and armaments production does take off then. They don't pull out all the stops until 1943.

Basically they tried to fight the war on the cheap without sacrifice of consumption domestically as long as they thought they were winning. When they realized they were not remotely winning, the Allies had an 18-24 month head start in full concentration on immediate armaments output.

But yes, it is indeed paradoxical that the folks who planned and started it were slow on the full commitment trigger. That was a result of overconfidence, as much as anything...

Well that at least explains how they got themselves into the thing, my gratitude for filling up some blanks! :)

I guess the Nazi party leadership standard practice of 'frowning' upon critical feedback decided their demise even before their rise to power, as has deservedly been the fate of so many similar minded before.

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pfft, this thread should have ended on page one, what the heck

While it is true that a lot issues can be traced to borders being drawn at the end of the colonial era that just didn't/don't work, I can't say I really know what the hell the colonial powers were supposed to do. Most of the colonies were not nation states and had no fundamental borders to speak of to establish. So while it is easy to fault Britain and France for example of the creation of a good part of the middle east boundaries it is harder to say just what kind of a division would have made more sense. We certainly haven't gotten any better at it since. Hell look at Belgium, there is still talk there of splitting that country. Italy had discussions at one point about splitting North and south as the south was considered such a drag on the northern economy. Catalonia is still talking independence etc etc..

Agree that the post colonial situation would probably be fubar anyhow, but then again who had been keen for the adventure? One has a responsibility to leave affairs of which one is in control in a decent state when abandoning ship. Besides from the divide et impera type of releasing nations...

Anyway it's not that I feel responsible for (the aftermath of) colonization, even if my grandfather fought in the Dutch post WWII colonial wars in Indonesia. Still it's important to recognize what was happening in the world before and how that has had it's influence on the here and now, ugly or not.

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While it is true that a lot issues can be traced to borders being drawn at the end of the colonial era that just didn't/don't work, I can't say I really know what the hell the colonial powers were supposed to do.

Well, respecting existing tribal boundaries might have been a good place to start. If you want to read an account of how Britain and France screwed up drawing the boundaries in the Middle East, you might take a look at A Line in the Sand by James Barr.

We certainly haven't gotten any better at it since. Hell look at Belgium, there is still talk there of splitting that country. Italy had discussions at one point about splitting North and south as the south was considered such a drag on the northern economy. Catalonia is still talking independence etc etc..

I think that as Europe as a whole become more politically and economically unified, we are going to see a lot of those kinds of realignments as old external enemies cease to provide a reason for some of the multi-ethnic states to continue to exist in their historical form.

Michael

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This is true, the Germans failed to make the best use of their limited resources often by organisational and structural setups, that as you say favoured operations over logistics. There are tables from 1941 showing impressive rates of bridge re-building and of 'first train to arrived at town X' but that did not mean a logistical flow. The growth of the army coupled with the lowly status of the supply officers meant that they were often inexperienced. It took the Transport Officer of HG Sud from June to Sept to realise that he was only going to make his target of 25 trains a day if he unloaded them as soon as they arrived - as using them as mobile warehouses although convenient stripped you of most of your carrying capacity. This was a dictum taught during the American Civil War. In the Soviet Army a Front Commander had to report the arrival of a fuel train to Moscow within 1 hour of its arrival and it had to be unloaded with 3 hours. The other dictum from the ACW was that the army should be kept well away from railway operations as they had no idea of the effect of small changes on railway timetabling. In the German Army field officers regularly interefered and in fact commanded the railways behind most of the front while in the Soviet Army, not even a Front Commander could give an order to a train.

The actual structure of the Army split the logistical problem into a Transport Department and a Supply Department. This made sense in the Great War because the Transport ran the railways and the Supply ran everything from the railhead to the troops. But in the Wehrmacht, the Supply Department started to get lorries which worked at first as they still hauled supplied from the railhead to the Armies in the Polish Campaign. But in the French Campaign they started to get more ambitious and created the Grosstransportraum to replace railways on longer hauls than the normal 100km (horses) 250km (trucks) while they were waiting for the service to be restored after French destruction during their retreat. This worked because the campaign was so short and so the system was expanded for the invasion of Russia and the size of the GTR was tripled. But when Wagner and Gercke got together to discuss supply in Russia, the Transport Department tried to integrate the GTR into the railway plan so that the two could work together but the Supply Department would have none of it and wanted full independence although they were now trying to extent their responsibility from 250 km to 650 km. This duplicated effort, wore out the trucks faster and still failed to deliver sufficient supplies. One issue was that the Supply department counted supplies in tonnes while the Transport Department counted supplies in trains, the result being that when requisitions came in they could not be properly matched up to complete train loads and trains carried less as a result while often insufficient lorries were on hand to unload at the other end. The problem was not helped by the fact that the Transport Department was promoted to a Wehrmacht Department (OHW) and also worked for the Luftwaffe and the Navy.

By contrast the Soviet Army's Rear Area Service was a unitary service under the command of one man Gen Khrulev who was both Commissar for Railways, Deputy Commissar for Defence and Officer Commanding Rear Area Services Department. He commanded all assets to do with Transport and the Supply Service and was independent of the General Staff although he worked closely with them. That meant that he could both set the operational parameters during the planning process (Germans did not do this) ensure that operations took logistics into account (like capturing the important rail bridge during the offensive) and then during the operation ensure that the flow of supplies if restricted went to the units that really needed them and were successful while units that got bogged down quickly found that the supply tap was turned off. (German supply requisitions came from the bottom up and they only started to 'ration' them at Heeren Gruppe level from 1943 and never came close to the Soviet system. Under the German system everyone got equal supplies).

This is one reason why the Lend Lease 4x4 truck argument is so misleading. You could have given the German Army the trucks and it would not have made much of a difference as they would have been misused and anyway they had a fleet of trucks taken from all over Europe, some of which were quite good. But the superior Soviet organisation made very efficient use of what they had and they used 2x2 1.5 tonne trucks as their main supply vehicles either Gaz-AA which were joined by the Ford 6. These lighter trucks were deemed to go quite well cross country when needed as they could be pushed and hauled through mud by men and horses while the heavier 3 tonne trucks used by the Germans just bogged. The bigger 4x4 International Harvester 2.5 tonne types were simply not used for supplies but to haul guns except for the very rare STAVKA strategic units. Yet these 2x2 wheel Soviet Supply units managed to keep the 1st Ukrainian Front supplied at a distance of 650km through the snows of January in Poland during the Oder-Vistula Offensive and regularly kept the point of the spear supplied at a distance of 350km. It was the Soviet organisation and the German lack of it that made the difference in logistics.

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I re-read page 1 seeking enlightenment but only found the same old arguments and that is the problem with these Lend Lease discussions, the Russians roll out their line of "Lend Lease was only 4 % of the total war economy" while the Americans roll out their line of "we sent you SPAM Studebakers, Bostons, locomotives and radios".

The problem with the Russian line of reasoning is that it is simply irrelevant, key deliveries such as food and aircraft could not be produced in the USSR and were aggregate increases to their war effort which were significant. But you can understand why their noses are put out of joint because of this attempt to link tins of beans with dead Soviet soldiers.

The problem with the American line of reasoning is the catch-all nature of it. A lot of Lend Lease (although ordered by the Soviets) did not contribute to the war effort in any special way, it just added to existing Soviet production in a cumulative way and as a proportion of the whole had only a small effect.

Nice to have but not really a 'killer app'. The ideal example of this is the most obvious, Allied Tanks. The Grants, Lees, Matildas, Churchills, did contribute to the war effort in that the Soviets did not have to build them, they had a fighting value but they were worse than Soviet home produced ones. Helpful rather than war winning.

Some are downright misleading, locomotives being a key example. Statements such

"Vital......as the locomotives, rails and rolling stock even more so, since rail was the principal way the Red Army moved its forces."

are simply wrong. The USA sent 1,900 odd Baldwin built copies of the locomotives they sent during the Great War similar to the E Class freight locomotives. So no great technology transfer. But the Soviet Union had 25,000 locomotive pre-war and lost around 2,500 during the retreat. But they also lost 40% of their network so during Moscow, Stalingrad and Kursk had plenty of spare motive power for both military and industry trains. When they recaptured the Ukraine and Belorussia these economies were destroyed so there was not a large increase in traffic demand other than to supply food to the people of these areas. So the 22,500 locomotives were able to deliver this. When the Soviet forces advance into Poland, they had captured so much standard gauge rolling stock that they kept the standard gauge and transhipped everything at the border. The only exception was fuel so each Front had one broad gauge line to supply this directly.

So the US locomotives rather than being a vital part of the Soviet war effort fall neatly into the category of displacement activity. The Urals had one railway works could that could produce 200 locomotives a month if need be but instead it built tanks so the Lend Lease supply of locomotives helped the Soviets by supplying an item they could build themselves but did not need to and could build something else instead.

Similarly the issue of technology transfer can be over played, the USA had been building factories and supplying 'under license' technology to the USSR since 1930 - the GAZ-A truck was after all a Ford copy, the Douglas Dakota was a Soviet airliner before the war

So we can categorise Lend Lease aid to the Soviet Union into their effects on the war effort:

Vital - unable to be produced by USSR, technology transfer or of substantial assistance:

Food, aircraft such as Boston, Aircobra, and Hurricane,AT gun 4x4 towing vehicles, rubber (hi-octane fuel for LL aircraft)

Effective Replacement - items able to be produced by USSR but large numbers make a significant contribution:

Supplies of metals, rails, fuel, Valentine and Sherman tanks, radios, telephone cable, 2x2 supply lorries and light cars

Replacement activity - items able to be produced by USSR but not supplied in significant numbers:

locomotives, most tanks, some aircraft, most infantry weapons, most ships

Fairly useless - items that failed to make an impact usually unintentionally

Big ships such as battleships, Chevrolet trucks, 57mm AT guns, Spitfire aircraft

Lend Lease was important to the USSR, some of it was vital and it did help them get to Berlin. But remember that US-Great Britain Lend Lease and technology transfer to each other was huge in comparison to that provided to the USSR. Partly this was an effect of distance and easy routes but partly a product of political viewpoint.

But always remember that 16 Soviet soldiers died fighting Germany for every US soldier who died.

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DAF - I don't know that I would hold up the Russians as a model of logistics and organization. Sure their mobilization system did great and the rail system worked, but combat service and support were abysmal, particularly in the mech arm and in the first half of the war. Germans ran out of fuel because they had just pushed 250 kilometers into Russian territory, the 1941-42 Russian mech ran out of fuel because they just did a road march that long inside friendly territory, but got lost and the fuel didn't get to the same place the tanks did, etc.

A 1941 Panzer division had three fuel companies with a grand total of 30 trucks, which could carry 0.6 loads or enough to move the division all of 60 km - on good roads in Europe. In Russia, on rutted and washboarded dirt tracks, that fell by half. By doctrine a PD was supposed to have four such loads to commence any offensive operation, which were supposed to be able to move the division 400 km - but would also require 6-7 round trips from fuel depots to units to refill. Before the halved actual mileage for lousy roads.

It is all very shoestring, by western standards, or later ones. Patton expected to have more like 500 trucks for such things at army level on top of the divisional supply services and organic lift, for six infantry and two armored divisions.

On the crawl of the rail changeover and unloading, yeah you don't just get to move the supplies 12 miles further each day. You need a major urban area with marshalling yards and warehouses and storage, quarters for the service troops and all the rest, to have a working railhead. You take the 12 mile a day in lumps a lot longer than a day and longer distances, then you build up the stuff offloaded at a working railhead. When weeks later you can open another, farther along, it starts with nothing and first has to move the support units themselves, get a stockpile big enough to make it worth the trip for the first line transport coming back from the units to fill up. Then you can declare it open - but many units will still have to make the trip to the old dumps until you have pushed enough forward to the leading one.

For the Germans in 1941 the first railhead was at the border, the second was at Minsk in July, supporting the Smolensk fighting and then the turn south to Kiev. The railhead moved up to Smolensk while that was going on - and incidentally, ran Guderian's group ragged because it was push so far, so fast in all that. The railhead was still at Smolensk when Typhoon kicked off in October. Not like it was at each 25 mile marker every two days...

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As an extension of remarks, I was reading the other day about the German spearpoint near Kalinin and the overly ambitious plans the operations guys had for them, in the exploitation of the Bryansk offensive success. The ops guys are dreaming of advances that require 6 times the fuel actually on hand. In passing, the writers remark that at this point, the round trip to the supply depots at Smolensk up to that spearhead, over the lousy roads, took the drivers *9 days*. Yes they were getting some fuel by air, and the army group had some at dumps farther forward at Viazma, though most of that was earmarked for the other drives straighter at Moscow etc. But to get from leading panzer unit to railhead, load up with fuel, and haul it back to the unit --- even if the unit was stationary the whole time --- would take the driver of the supply convoy 9 days. At the end of which, all 30 fuel trucks of that PD would have delivered 0.6 standard units of fuel for the division. At realistic achieved mileages, giving the PD a radius of action of 30 kilometers.

This means the organic fuel transport services of that division at that distance from the railhead supported a continuous movement of the whole division of only 2 miles per day.

Then the op guys wonder why they only have 0.05 to 0.10 of one "fill" in the gas tanks and lament the "failure" of the quartermaster corps to supply them everything they need for their razzle dazzle dreams of an additional 300 mile advance to split the Leningrad front from the Moscow front.

I would go so far as to say, the biggest thing the Germans could readily have done different in Russia would be to increase the organic fuel transport arm of each PD to 5 companies of 20 fuel trucks each (twice what they actual had each), with 3 companies of 20 trucks each for a motorized infantry division. That would have meant 1700 additional trucks across the force. Then add another 800 to reserve formations feeding those trucks in as replacements for the organic division lift as trucks fell out from overuse. Then add 100 trucks per month to that reserve stock as a continuous stream of supply truck replacements.

That would have done more for Panzer formation "wind" than ramping tank production or having a bigger gun in the Panzer III. 2500 trucks one-off plus half that a year continually --- it is not like Germany couldn't find such things, if they knew they needed them and made it a sufficient priority.

As it was, they crossed the border and had a big success to Minsk, discovered along the way that a Russian "road" was a goat path and mileage would be half planned levels, and went immediately into "scramble" supply mode, hoping it would all be over so fast it wouldn't matter that they had gotten the lift requirement wrong by a factor of 3.

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But yes, it is indeed paradoxical that the folks who planned and started it were slow on the full commitment trigger. That was a result of overconfidence, as much as anything...

It was more a product of the Nazi regime's paranoia with regards to popularity. The Guns vs Butter debate that surrounded the 4 year plan nearly tore the regime apart: Schacht resigned in 1937 because he said that the regime could not fulfil consumerism and war preparation at the same time as the balance of payments crisis would only worsen... and he was proved right. The fact that Hitler appointed Goring instead to oversea economic preparations for war showed just how far removed from reality Hitler was in all this. Goring's appointment to the four year plan probably did as much to assure allied victory, in hindsight, as lend lease did!!

But it wasnt the result of over confidence - far from it. Hitler panicked just prior to the Anschluss, so worried was he over popularity and possible resistance. He was unhappy and nervous at the preparations for the invasion of France. There was nothing in his demeanour that screamed confidence at all.... but he was still unprepared to through the full weight of German industry behind the war precisely because of his ongoing fears with regards to the regime's grassroots image. Goring popped up and promised successful autarky as well as consumerism. Hitler went with the promise because it played to both his fears and his ambitions - and the rest is history.

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Just want to let contributors to this thread know that I am finding it all utterly fascinating. DAF and JasonC, you could sell the discussion which you are currently sharing!

+1

Wow, 2 miles a day for a PD.. Might as well conquer Russia on foot :D

It's almost like a comedy hehehe. The Germans expected nice a orderly kept clean highway complete with ready available fuel depots every 50km, instead they got themselves a deserted goat trail.

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Lethaface - yes, it is a crazy number. To be fair, the 9 day round trip is also a number cited for early October 1941, and likely reflects a "mud period" state of the roads. In Google Maps it says the trip should take about 6 hours one way - on modern roads in a modern car (it is about 265 road miles). With period roads and trucks, it should have been possible in more like 10-15 hours each way, and the round trip should have been 3 days not 9. But in early October, it actually took 9 - with mud, traffic, loading and unloading time, etc. War is friction, said the sage.

You still only have enough fuel-lift to move the full PD 6 miles a day at that distance from its railhead fuel depot, even without a 3x factor for mud. You have to be only half that distance from the railhead for the PD to move as fast as the rail repair crews (or Napoleon's foot sloggers, come to that), with that limited a fuel-lift force. The farther you are, the fewer round trips you get from the same overworked truck fleet per unit time, and the less fuel per unit time makes it out of the far end of the pipe.

Bottom line, the first line transport of the German panzer force was "sized" for ideal conditions of perfect weather on a good road net with moderate distances to well stocked depots. It sufficed - barely - to keep the division fueled as it moved, under such conditions. Long distance from the railhead, poor roads, and bad weather can make that sizing miss by a factor of 2 or 3 *each*, and result in a formation planned to be able to advance 60 km a day sustained, becoming as slow as leg infantry (or in mud conditions, much worse, practically immobilized).

Realism about the conditions faced counseled tripling the fuel-lift, but the German army rewarded optimism in such matters, not realism.

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The Germans expected nice a orderly kept clean highway complete with ready available fuel depots every 50km...

They expected to destroy the Red Army within 300k of the border and that would be that. Triumphal march into Moscow to receive Stalin's surrender, etc. Well, in fact they did pretty near destroy the Red Army within 300k of the border. But then they were faced with virtually a whole new army after the first one. And then another one after that, etc. Oops. Wrong script.

Michael

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JasonC in reply to your post Nr.112, I would agree that the early part of the war saw dismal Soviet logistics and the turn around only began in August 1941 and took much of 1942 to accomplish. But by 1944 they did have a good logistics system able to support their offensives of 300km depth and with 3 or 4 offensives running in sequence - all of which was a better result than the Germans. However this was an army that was managing to fight a war by the best use of limited resources. A comparison of American and Soviet offensives shows that the western campaign with its better communications routes was far easier to supply than the 'wilds' of Russia for either Germans or Soviets and sheer difficulty of operating here:

file.php?id=293792&mode=view

The real test was who could get their railways running again quickest and in this the Soviets did far better than the Germans for both management and the level oif resources that they were able to throw at the problem.

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With regard to the supply of fuel to the Panzer Corps, they were given a specific part of the GTR around 7,000 tonnes if memory serves me to act as a mobile fuel dump. They travelled with the Panzer Corps and off loaded their fuel as the advance continued and then hurried back to the nearest fuel depot to fill up again. They were know as "suitcases". However they was a tendency during the campaign for all the GTR to be used in support of the Panzer Corps as the lorries broke down. By the autumn the GTR was in a sorry state and was not able to support the advances to any great degree.

The Germans evolved a new supply system for Operation Barbarossa which had resulted from the Marcks and Lossberg studies and the comments by von Paulus during his time in the Supply Service.

How it worked was like this: the Infantry Divisions had a mixture of motor and horse drawn supply columns (in 75 Infantry Divisions they had lost their motor columns and been given extra horses to provide the vehicles for the Grosstransportraum.) which distributed supplies collected from the Army level depots and distributed them around the Division to Regimental, Battalion, etc dumps. This was done over a range of 50-100km ie. 1 day from the depot.

The Army depots drew their supplies largely by motor vehicle columns from a) the railhead delivered by train B) Regional depots of the Supply Service over a distance of 250-300km for motor vehicles or 125km for horses. c) Direct deliveries to the Armies depots of urgent supplies by the Grosstransportraum.

The Regional Depots such as the one deployed at Minsk were supplied by the Grosstransportraum at first and later by rail. These were established at roughly 300km intervals which represented the maximum 'logistical reach' of the German Army.

The Grosstransportraum was great expanded for the invasion of Russia and the one regular Regiment was joined by 2 'raised from civilian service' Regiments. The expanded Regiments had a capacity of around 20,000 tonnes using 4 tonne lorries with 4 tonne trailers. see http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=108967

So at the start of the campaign, the Divisions advance to attack, their biggest supply demand is at this point and they can draw from the depots in Poland for the first encirclement battles at 300km from the border up to Minsk. The GTR is able to start moving supplies forward. The Eisenbahnpioniere are stuck behind the ID advancing up the railway lines who are holding the Soviets in check while the Panzer units and other ID race round the flanks to encircle them. The Kessels are surrounded and destroyed.

The second leap forward from Minsk is supported by the GTR who supply the Army depots directly and attempt to build up a Regional depot at Minsk. The Eisenbahnpioniere change the gauge of the rails do some basic repairs and move forward. This covers the area from Minsk to Smolensk 300-600km and it s time of pursuit since the Soviets have no formed lines as such although there can be heavy fighting by some units. The supply demand is relativity low as this is a pursuit phase.

At Smolensk in August, there was always planned to be a break to build up the Minsk depot and establish a new Regional Depot at Smolensk. But the Soviets effectively make a stand and there is heavy fighting which stretches the supply chain. The GTR are running from Poland to Minsk and from Minsk to Smolensk. The railway is operated by the FEDkos as far as the Minsk depot which is used by the GTR (ie still covering 300km from Regional depot to Army depot) but there are problems as the Transport Service are inexperienced and not meeting their 25 trains a day target (the Transport Officers of AG South only realises he can reach his 25 trains a day target if he unloads the trains and send them back in September - a basic error.) The Eisenbahnpioniere are working from Minsk to Smolensk.

Having defeated the Soviets at Smolensk and the other problems of shifting objectives at right angles to the line of march (and hence unsupportable except by the now over stretched GTR) with a working railway line up to the Regional depot at Smolensk, the advance can now be made towards Moscow 400km away so 2 bounds forward. But the GTR is gutted with a large proportion of its vehicles under repair or lying beside the roadside. The railway lines are running a minimum service to the Regional Depots and providing supplies only, no reinforcements, no replacement weapons, no winter clothing. The advance is spectacular but largely a pursuit with low supply demands so when real opposition is met outside Moscow, there are no supplies to support a heavy attack and no transport capacity to provide replacements.

The German supply and transport system is designed to support an attack over two bounds of 600km and a pursuit beyond that, just like a scaled up version of the Battle for France (one bound deep). The Soviet stand at Smolensk in August is what over stresses the system but the inherent failures were much earlier at Minsk. In order to fight heavy battles deeper into the Soviet Union, you need to do two things: 1) one wing of the encircling Panzers needs to advance up a railway line so that it opens early (too many Eisenbahnpioniere are killed in fighting in unsecured territory trying to push the railways forward faster.) this saves the GTR from hauling supplies from Poland to Minsk at the same time they are hauling supplies from Minsk to Smolensk. 2) You need to deploy strategic assets such as the DRB to re-build the railways directly behind the troops so that the Regional Depots can open and be supplied by rail immediately. This keeps the GTR operating over a 300km range and allows sideways advances to Kiev. It also allows you a higher capacity and so can send reinforcements forward and items such as replacement weapons and winter clothing. Waiting until the Spring of 1942 to deploy the DRB for a major construction programme was too little too late

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Frankly, I stand in awe of the vast knowledge base on display here and the effortless manner in which it's being wielded. Bridge grogs. German railway grogs. Russian railway grogs. German railway grogs who should've been listened to regarding Russian railways. And these are just for starters.

I do have a contribution to make to the thread. May I recommend the excellent The Battle of Moscow: The Northern Flank by Radey and Sharp? In it, interested readers will find an exceedingly telling discussion of the state of German logistics during that fight. The "how much fuel it takes to get the fuel forward" discussion is practically heart stopping, being the proof of the "generals study logistics" observation. German mobility, especially later on in the campaign, was practically nil. I believe the HG level truck formation figures in the story, too.

Regards,

John Kettler

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JK - yes that is the source I was referring to when I talked about the time a truck convoy took to retrieve fuel from Smolensk. The other excellent source on the topic I've read recently is Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front by Robert Forczyk. He has the benefit of being an armor officer himself and therefore understanding the importance of supply and maintenance issues, as well as combined arms, more than most historians. He is able to rate the performance of both sides not against each other or past history, but against what they should be able to do, with what they had etc.

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Another good source is at Fold3 which has the following Foreign Military Studies papers:

P-041R-T and T-8 Problems of Supply in Far Reaching Operations and T-7 Comments of Russian railways and roads. I did send these over to Sturmpanzer.com but I do not think he has got round to posting them on his site yet.

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Another good source is at Fold3 which has the following Foreign Military Studies papers:

P-041R-T and T-8 Problems of Supply in Far Reaching Operations and T-7 Comments of Russian railways and roads.

What a coincidence! That's just what I was reading at the beach yesterday. Kinda spooky... ;)

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Hope you had it on a tablet or something similar 'cos if you print it out it is huge.

For Operation Barbarossa, 1 POL unit (VS) = 50-70km = 200 cu m Pz.D (160 m cu PzGr.D)

3 VS units in depots at the Polish border, 3.5 VS units on vehicles, 1 VS unit on fuel column, GTR Handkoffer (suitcase) 2-3 VS units for a total of 8 VS units with the Pz.D or 400 km.

1 cu m of gasoline converts to 0.8 tonnes so a VS weighs 160 tonnes.

The Handkoffer GTR units were part of the GTR Regt and 616.Grosstransportraum Regiment (this unit was raised from civilian lorries taken up from trade and conscripted drivers) supported HG Mitte with around 8 battalions of 2000 tonnes each for a total of 15,000 tonnes. This was divided up into 4,500 tonnes of Handkoffer battalions for the Panzer Gruppe and 3,000 tonnes for each of the three Army (which supplied them with around 4 days of rations for both men and horses.)

Panzer Gruppe Guderian had 5 Panzer, 2 Motorised 1.5 Infantry and 1 Cavalry Division so you can see each Division got around 600 tonnes of load each.

Pz.D advances 400 km to the initial objective Minsk and half way through that advance the GTR column offloads to the tanks and returns to the depots to pick up another load. 200km back plus 400km to Minsk = 600km taking 6 days. Here they establish a fuel dump and return again to the border/railhead to collect another load and drive forward to establish a second fuel dump beyond Minsk, while the railway arrives in Minsk around Day 20 and establish the Supply District Minsk with 3 loads artillery ammunition, 1.5 loads infantry ammunition and 8 VS units of fuel.

Panzer Gruppe advances 50km using 600 t a day so will be in Minsk on Day 8 which is when the GTR arrives with another 3 VS units which will carry the Panzers another 200km at best. So turning to destroy the pockets around Minsk allowed the logistics to catch up but really it is hard to advance more than 600km past the railhead without stopping.

GTR lorry in Russia - 4 tonner with 4 tonne trailer

Mercedes-Benz%2BL%2B6500.jpg

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