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In 1941, Russian armor superiority over German's

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I'm very new with CM series I see that ın the very beginings of war, the Russian's tank superiority had been repesented very good and modeled very exactly in this game but I wonder one thing: while so it was, How Germans could move so fast through the Soviet Lines? (I know that in the very beginning of war the German's biggest tank gun size is 50 mm but in respect to this Russians had early models KV-1 and T-34s), Someone says " Blitzkrieg tactics" but I think that mustn't be only one reason, any idea?

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It wasn't so much German but the Russian tactics.

All the fine tanks were used peacemeal and right in the frontline where they were practially out of command in any kind of enemy contact. The tanker's skills weren't great either so avoiding or disabling the single tanks was much easier than it typically is in CMBB.

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Also, almost the entire upper echelons of the officer corps of the Soviet army had recently been purged by a paranoid Stalin. Besides all the other obvious reductions in ability by doing this, the Germans and Russians had many training exercises together before the war (and in fact were "allies" re: Poland). I suspect almost always it was the higher ranking officers who attended these exercizes, and this invaluable knowledge was therefore lost in the purges.


[ May 07, 2003, 10:39 AM: Message edited by: Mikelas ]

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It also doesn't help when infiltrators and air attacks cause confusion and disrupt communications... especially when the rather inflexible (militarily, at least) Soviet system at the time was not particularly rewarding of independence among commanders. Combine that with Stalin's previous orders to avoid provoking a German attack, and extremely fresh memories of the purge...

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The after effects of the purges also insured their were very few experienced Staffs or officers in the armored formations. Sovet tank crew & maintance personell could not be trained due to the lack of qualified officers to conduct the training & the lack of equiptment to even train on. Nor could Divs even conduct excersises due to the lack of men & material. Ie, Only one Mechanized Corps ever participated in divisional excercises in 1940.

Nor due to the organizational reforms going on were Soviet tank crew anywhere near at even rudimentary training levels, nor were their eneough maintance supt services to support even Co sized requirements Ie, during their advance into Poland, 100s of Soviet tanks broke down on the road march. Soviet crews opened fire on their own tanks & their German allies, basicly in Poland the Soviets inflicted more losses on themselves, then were caused do to enemy action.

An general Soviet report dated June 17 1941 on the status of armored formations in the Military districs, concerning the from the 'Frontier' districts compromising the Baltic, Westren, Kiev, & Odessa reigons reported:

- Training is intermittant and uncoordinated.

- Gunnery instruction is running two to three months behind schedule.

- Coordination between troops within units is bad.

- The mechanized (motorized rifle) regiments have no conception of their proper role.

- Wireless operators are inadequately trained.

And this is only a small example from the report. Ie, tank drivers in the Baltic MD alone; alone averaged a mere 1-1/2 hours driveing time. Divisional units were missing 50% of their Shtat levels of NCO's & junior officers etc. Tank crew training was almost non existant as the MDs, reported they did not have the AFVs available to train on.

The Westren & Kiev MDs had by far the highest concentration of armored forces of all the Military districts in June 1941 but on the other hand they also had 2 of the least

prepared/equipped armored formations in the whole of the Soviet forces.

Ie, the 17th & 20th Mechanized Corps, had a total of 129 tanks between them. Since it was obvious that tank production could not meet demand, the Soviets decided on May 16th that the 17th, & 20th MC tank Div, Regts, would become AT regts, consisting of 3 Bns each regt with 1 Bn, with 18, 45mm, 1 Bn, with 24, 76mm, & 1 Bn with, 24, 12.7mm. With conversion completed by July 1 1941.

Problem was:

a) the Soviets had already began forming 10 AT Brigada in April, & couldn't get eneough guns or tractors, to equip them,

B). The 45mm AT gun was not even in production in June 1941.

c), the gunnery ranges intended to train the AT crews were already full training divisional arty & howitzer crews.

Add to that the material shortages, Ie in Febuary 1941 the Soviets issued an requirement for 61 tank Divs, requireing 3,843 KV & 12,810 T-34-76. as of June 1 1941 a total of 263 KV-1 , 70 KV-II, & 1,085 T-34 had been produced.

In 3 weeks of fighting the Soviet armored formations were decimated, Ie, The Mechanized Corp HQs were ordered disbanded on July 15 1941. The Tank Divisions; were basicly gone by the end of July, with the few remaining in the Fronts operateing at Brigade strength or less.

The average strength of an Soviet tank Co during the Moscow battles in Dec 1941 was 12 tanks, with many Cos haveing 10 or below, compared to the July 1940 Shtat of 17 tanks per Co, one gets a picture of the changes forced on the Soviets, by losses, & the learning process from tactical defeats.

Regards, John Waters

[ May 07, 2003, 10:49 AM: Message edited by: PzKpfw 1 ]

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You should also understand that the Russian quality advantage existed only at the top of the distribution of tank types. The Russians had an enourmous number of tanks when the war began, but 85% of them were thinly armored, 45mm gun armed lights, split between T-26s (by far the most common type) and the BT "fast" series.

All these were entirely vunerable to every tank gun in the German AFV fleet, and every field gun they had as well. Their own guns were dangerous to the lighter half of the German fleet, but needed flank shots at relatively close ranges against the better half (the newer 50mm front armor Pz IIIs, IVs, and StuGs).

The Russians lost 1/2 of their initial armor force in the first three weeks of the war, and more like 3/4 in the first 2 months or so. Many were lost in breakdowns or captured inside large pockets. (Captured tanks ran into 4 digits in the larger pockets). Up to 90% of the fleet needed some sort of repair on the day of the invasion. Readiness was obviously very low.

Tank losses were also high in the initial period due to poor doctrine. The Russians did manage large scale armored counterattacks on a number of occasions. But these typically had little in the way of support from other arms (infantry and especially artillery).

The Germans responded to these attacks with the "PAK front" tactic, essentially just trucking in every AT capable towed gun in the area ahead of the Russian advance. The Russians sometimes got through the first lines, but took high losses doing so, high enough that within a few days they were fought out.

If you want to see what that kind of engagement looked like, try the following as a Russian "probe" QB, ~500 points. Give the Russians 15 T-26s, green, and a single platoon of motorised infantry. No FOs. Give the Germans 4 37mm ATGs, 2 105mm howitzers, a pioneer platoon, strafing air support, and an couple ATRs or tank hunters. If you double the scale (same unit types, twice as many on a larger map), the strength of the defense and limitations of an almost pure light armor force will become even more apparent.

The better Russian tanks were a more serious matter, but there weren't all that many of them after early breakdowns (or "never rans") are taken out of the mix, and they were "spent" in penny packets. Typically KVs showed up, when they did, in platoon strength. T-34s in company strength.

The Germans needed heavier towed guns and their own tanks to deal with those. The 105mm K19 field cannon - a higher velocity piece than the howitzer, not represented in CM but closest to the 88mm FLAK - was present in small numbers, 4 per mobile division. There were a few hundred 88mm FLAK in army formations, far more in Luftwaffe ones but mostly in the rear. Also numerous 150mm howitzers and occasional air support. Against the more numerous T-34s, 105mm howitzers and 50mm PAK were effective.

The Germans had as many heavy guns in their force as the Russians had heavy tanks. They just weren't mounted in AFVs (yet). 1/3 to 1/2 of the German AFV fleet had 75L24 or 50L42 guns, which could handle T-34s at close enough range, with the help of local numbers.

The Germans usually did have local armor numbers counting just Russian heavy types. Where they didn't, they were checked and fell back on gun fronts. Then attacked someplace else, if the Russians didn't get their heavies killed pressing against the German guns.

With numbers, the Germans also employed "hail fire" against the thicker Russian tanks. This means disabling a tank with repeated non-penetrating hits. In CM terms, if you bounce enough AP off of a single target, you will get the occasional gun or track hit and eventually immobilize and disable the tank, after which the crew will bail out. The higher ROF and better accuracy at longer ranges of the early war German guns, compared to the Russian heavies, would let them do this if they had an echelon larger force (company vs. platoon e.g.)

You can see the weakness of the early war Russian armor more clearly in engagements on larger scales. Green radioless tanks forced to button soon after the engagement begins coordinate their moves with one another very poorly. You will see command delays in CM of several minutes, and movement orders need to be very simple (1-2 waypoints, not detailed use of the ground), or they get even longer.

German tanks see and hear better - they have commander cupolas, 3 man turrets, radios, and better optics. This "soft system" dominance tends to give an edge that grows with the absolute size of the engagement. It isn't very noticable in a small CM fight with only a handful of tanks on a side, but in a larger one with companies or more worth of armor present, becomes important.

On a large battlefield with cover available, this tends to let the Germans get many on few fights here and then there. They can get "piecewise" numerical superiority in sequence, even with the overall numbers on the field even. You can also simulate the effect by just leaving Russian tanks in the hands of the none-too-bright AI, while a human drives the panzers.

As for the role of "blitzkrieg", consider that Guderian drove from Poland to Smolensk, then Kiev, then the outskirts of Tula on the road to Moscow before his units were checked for the first time by T-34s used in significant numbers. That was in October, 3 1/2 months into the war. Until then, if his subunits encountered any Russian heavies they were in such low numbers as to be without tactical effect, and it wasn't even reported to him.

Guderian was hitting where the Russians were weak, not where they were strong. Some other armor groups (notably von Kleist in AG South) encountered serious amounts of improved Russian armor much earlier. But checking one prong temporarily did not prevent the front from crumbling; you had to stop them all, continually. Russian armor readiness, doctrine, and quality of the fleet mix were not nearly high enough for that.

[ May 07, 2003, 12:55 PM: Message edited by: JasonC ]

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Plus some tanks (like early T-34) also didn't have a cupola for the tank commander, so visibility was awful once he buttoned up to fire the main gun.

There were also bad shortages of tank ammo, I've heard the anectdotes of T-34's arriving at the front with no armor-piercing rounds!

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76mm HE is perfectly sufficient at medium range against every 1941 German tank model except the III H, IV E, and StuG. Those were only a thin cream at the top of the German force at the start of the campaign. Even those are still vunerable to 76mm HE from the sides. A middling velocity (not short) 76mm gun was high end tank armament for that era.

It is not terribly surprising provision of AP was not considered a high priority, at a time when the bulk of the German panzer force was Pz IIs, 35s and 38s, and III Gs. Even the reinforced front 38s would be outranged by 76 HE, given their own limitations against T-34 armor.

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Don't mean to rain on the parade here ...especially when most all the points are valid.

But when the Germans went into Barbarossa about a 1/3 of their tanks were inferior PZ-1 & II tankettes and another 1/4 were either early Pz-III or Czech tanks...all these models had thin armor and 37mm gun, making them at best equal to the bulk of the SOviet tanks [bT & T-26 tanks].

Thus only about 40% of the German tanks were superior to the main SOviet tanks but the Soviets also had a similar number of T-34 & KV-1s, that were on paper vastly superior to the best german tanks.

820 pz35t & Pz 38t

1230 PzI&II and Bef

1404 PzIII (50) & Pz-IV.

So looking at the tanks stats is only part of the answer. The fact that the Soviet tanks had only one man turrets and no radio, while the Germans had 3 man turrets and radio...this is important. The germans found they could out shoot the Soviets 3-4:1 and there commanders could better harness this firepower through radio communications.

By wars end the Soviet tanks all had two to three man turrets and many radios [at least one per platoon].While many German tanks were fielding heavier guns so the shot advantage was down to ~ 2:1 at best...while SU vehicles could often match the German in ROF.

But the main reason I think is command leadership...the purge removed many soviet commanders that were in the same league as the German generals...a situation that was not really overcome until after the war. Thus they were beat before they even started, the fact that they survived and went on to win the war is by far the most interesting question of the eastern front! Howday do dat?

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It wasn't all one sided, the BT-7 was a match for the PzKpfw III, according to a Soviet report the only areas the PzKpfw III was superior to the BT-7 was:

- Observation and sighting devices.

- 5 man crew vs 3 in BT-7.

The same held true for the, PzKpfw IV, & PzKpfw 38(t). The BT-7 gave nothing up to them except in protection.

Since we have so much from the German perspective below are somew excerpts from the Soviet side*.

June 23 1941:

Lieutenant Sovik of the 93rd Tank Regiment of thte 47th Tank Division made 7 attacks with his BT-7 tank, in which he destroyed three German tanks, two armored cars three cannon and nearly 200 infantry.

June 25 1941:

The tankers of the 9th Tank Regiment of the 5th Tank Division (3rd Mechanized Corps) distinguished themselves. Recieving an order to seize Oshmyany, the regimental commander formed a detachment of four BT-7s and six BA-10 armored cars under the command of Captian Novikov. At 0630 they attacked the enemy from the rear and broke through to Oshmyany. In this battle, Senior Lieutenant Vedenyev distinguished himself whrn his tank crew destroyed 5 enemy tanks and four antitank guns.

The BT-7 crew of Senior Sergeant Naydin and Red Army member Kolpytov from the same 5th Tank Division . Spotting enemy movement, they hid their vehichles in a nearby wood. As soon as the German tanks closed with them, they destroyed the lead enemy tank with accurate fire, and the next one in line. Throwing the enemy into confusion, they proceeded to destroy a total of ten German tanks.

October 9, 1941:

4th Tank Brigade was faceing the attack of the 2nd German Panzergruppe led by General H. Guderian on the approaches of Minsk, one of the participants was the BT-7 tank company led by Lieutenant Samokhin. Part of his tanks were bunkered into the ground, while another section was the reserve and kept in concealment. The resulting tank duel lasted four hours, and at the end of it, the Germans were forced to withdraw.

The below is an excerpt from Katukov concerning the 1st Guards Tank Brigade actions in support of Panfilov's 316th Rifle Division along the Volokolamskiy axis on 11.17.41 .:

On 17 November they (the Germans) hit the right flank of the division with 30 tanks. They smashed the defense in the sector of the 1073rd Rifle Regiment and took Golubotsovo, Chentsy, Shishkino, and Lystsevo. Panfilov ordered the establishment of a position and then the elimination of those Germans which had moved into Lystsevo.

To carry out this task, as established by General Panfilov, Gusev (the commander of 1st Guards Tank Brigade)gathered a small group under the command of Senior Lieutenant Lavrinenko. This group contained three T-34s, and three BT-7s.

After talking with the rifle regiment commander about cooperative interaction, Senior Lieutenant Lavrinenko decided to break his group into two echelons. The first part was the three BT-7s commanded by Zaiki, Pyatachkov, and Malikov. His second echelon were T-34s commanded by Lavrinenko, Tomilin, and Frolov.

The battle commenced between the six Soviet tanks and eighteen Germans. The fight was over in around eight minutes, as we later determined. But what minutes they were! The Germans blew away the tanks of Zaiki and Pyatachkov, and knocked out the T-34s of Tomilin and Frolov. But at te same time, our tanks inflicted even more damage to the Hitlerist side. Seven German tanks lay burning on the battlefield, spouting flames and dark smoke. The rest were in no condition to continue the fight, and withdrew deep into the woods.

*See: Baryatinsky M. Kolomiets M. The BT-7 Light Tanks Modelist-Konstruktor, Armor Collection 5, August 1996.

Regards, John Waters

[ May 08, 2003, 12:10 AM: Message edited by: PzKpfw 1 ]

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I'm sure western powers and Hitler had something to do with russians winning smile.gif

Hitler was probably most notably reason.

Stalingrad is probably most famous mistake that Hitler knewingly did in the war.

Then there is a serie of other weird commands from Hitler in 1941-42, where he passed his adjutants and commanders opinion.


I wouldn't think that 76mm HE would be fine against 50-60mm armour

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Originally posted by Gaylord Focker:

Why is it that the K-19 field cannon was left out of the game?It sounds like an effective field piece.

Go away. Do some research*. Have a think about it. Come back when you have the answer.

* hint: you shouldn't even need to leave your PC.

second hint: try K-18.

[ May 08, 2003, 12:49 AM: Message edited by: JonS ]

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Very good posting from all. Thanks.

A couple of questions and observations:

a. after playing exclusively Germans, I have started playing Russians. So far, not too much success against the AI in Armor MEs or Attacks using Nippy rules of not using KVs and only t-34s sparingly.

b. Could someone comment on the other light armor, in terms of "fightability" ? I have given up on t-26 tanks as they are too brittle.

c. Or is it simply that Green, Light Russian Tanks (BT-5, BT-7, tankettes, T-26, etc)were simply outclassed by the PanzerJaegers, the Pz IIs, 38ts and Somua tanks of the early days of the wars ? And it *has* to always be flank, side and rear shots ?


ps. I am having a blast as Russian Defense 300 points. Almost always, total victory with green russian troops, support and ATGs. I suspect that the ATGs can shoot better with TRPs even if the target isn't near the TRPs.

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One of the biggest problems, when controlling early war Soviet tanks, is that they don't have radio. Once the fighting begins and commanders button up, the command delays get terrible. Very difficult to react to the changing situation under those circumstances.

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B). The 45mm AT gun was not even in production in June 1941.
Are you sure? Finns captured a number of these guns during the Winter War of 1939-40. IIRC, the gun's model was m1938. Are you referring to the 45 mm m1942? Or was the production halted, and restarted after June 1941?
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Thanks all for valuable informations, as before said the game was very good modeled to be reperesented order delays, moral effects etc. but one important point was missed I think: the un reliability of Russian vehicles, I've started this game very recently but I haven't seen any broken (For example: engine failure) Soviet Armor, have you seen it? or had this effect been forgot?



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Originally posted by laxx:

b. Could someone comment on the other light armor, in terms of "fightability" ? I have given up on t-26 tanks as they are too brittle.

My little trick is T-70. It is my favorite tank in CMBB.Try to use them in small battles (QB).T-70 platoon(5 TANKS)cost is only....~210. The advantages are:

1. Radio (brief command delay)

2. Good armor(relatively other light tanks)

a.turret 60mm curved

b.upper hill 35mm/60*

c.try to use them hull down

d.I had three times T-70 survived close Stug's hit(ricochet)

3. 45 mm gun AP-63mm 0* 100m(it is enough to kill every medium German tank from the side and some of them from the front)

4. it has tungsten in 1943 T-97mm 0* 100m.

5. PRICE (~50)

6. silhouette -65

T-70 is also excellent Stug killer and they are good armor recon(if you have any heavy staff).

I really enjoyed using this tank. You can organize fast attacks, break trough enemy lines(ask Huusko :D ),support your infantry(ask PJ :D )encircle enemy tanks,suddenly counter attack if you are a defender and etc. In short try them ;)

Early war Soviet tanks(BT, T-26)are not suitable for this because they have no radio(45 sec command delay) so they lose their mobility :(

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Originally posted by tolga hayret:

I haven't seen any broken (For example: engine failure) Soviet Armor

This is at least partially beyond the CM time scope and the degree of abstraction. Engine failures which occured during combat usually happened after the tank was hit (happened to German armor as well), which is already simulated when the crew abandons the tank without it being knocked out.

Other than that, engine and other mechanical failures tended to plague the tanks while on route to another battle or strategic location, which is outside CM's scope entirely.

Also, there's the game aspect: since the tanks can be effectively disabled without directly knocking them out by enemy fire and bogging, it wouldn't be much fun to have the engines breaking down randomly on top of that.

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Originally posted by Mikko H.:
Are you sure? Finns captured a number of these guns during the Winter War of 1939-40. IIRC, the gun's model was m1938. Are you referring to the 45 mm m1942? Or was the production halted, and restarted after June 1941?
As of June 22 941 the Soviets had the following numbers of Artilley on hand:

50mm Mortar - 36,300.

82mm Mortar - 14,500.

107mm & 120mm mortar - 5,300.

M1932/M1937 45mm AT - 14,900.

M1927, F-22, USV 76mm - 15,300.

M1940 107mm cannon - 900

M1910/30 122mm - 8,100

M1931/37 122mm cannon - 1,300.

M1909/30/M1938 152mm - 3,800.

M1935/M1937 152mm cannon - 2,800

B-4 203mm howitzer - 1,000

210mm, 280mm, 305mm - 100

M1939 37mm AA - 1,400

76mm & 85mm AA gun - 7,200

45mm production appears to have been halted prior to June 22 1941. As from June 22 - Dec 31 1941 2,100 45mm AT were produced.

Regards, John Waters

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