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The German system of equipment replacement?

Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general.

The German system of equipment replacement?

Postby RJ55 on 17 Jan 2013 16:36

I am reasonably familiar with the personnel, training, and replacement system, but know little about how equipment was replaced. [Anything from tanks to blankets]. I know at the political level the various interests like the army, the SS, etc would lobby Hitler for resources, and that obviously, units serving on active fronts would receive priority.

I also know that basically every unit had an authorised equipment stength, and there was some variations on this. [SS tank units tended to get more and better tanks than an ordinary Heer panzer unit. etc.]

Was the total production worked out and each unit got what it was entitled to as far as possible, or was the system less ordered? Obviously, a shipment of tanks or trucks could be destroyed by air, artillary, partizans etc on the way to the front, so was it just tough luck for the unit concerned or did an army receive so many tanks, trucks etc, and the army commander decided who got what?

Suppose an army had five panzer divisions, and were short 500 tanks. But that month the factory was bombed, and only 140 tanks got to the front. Would it make sense to give each Pz div 28 tanks, which would not bring any of them up to strength, or would they give only two divisions 70 tank each, and ensure that at least some of the Panzer units were at or near full strength, and thus more effective? And of course, other equipment like arty, anti-tank etc. Who decided who got what and when?

In terms of tanks, the fighting generals often resorted to "brigading" understrength Pz regiments from two Pz divisions to ensure that at least one kampf group had enough tanks for a sucessful operation. I think Guderian did this in 1941 with the armour from the 3rd & 4th Pz Divs, and there were several other examples of this practice.
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Re: The German system of equipment replacement?

Postby Der Alte Fritz on 18 Jan 2013 18:08

The basic system was that the unit put in a request for 'X' replacement items to the OKH relevant office (depending on what they were ordering) and that this request was routed through Armee HQ Supply Officer who approved or not as the case may be. OKH then ordered that either the next 25 items from Factory 'Y' be routed to the Division in question or that 25 items be taken from stock at depot 'Z'. These would then be sent direct to the unit as part of an ongoing shipment for that Army.

In the case of tanks it can be identified that a 'batch' from the factory would be assigned to a particular Division and would wend their way from the factory, via the depot for acceptance trials and then forwarded onto the unit. High value items would be followed by everyone from the Fuhrer, OKW, OKH, Armee Gruppe, Armee and Korps downwards. The transcript of Hitlers Military briefings often mentions that "the next 49 StuGs are in transit for GrossDeutchland...".
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Re: The German system of equipment replacement?

Postby RJ55 on 19 Jan 2013 05:20

Der Alte Fritz wrote:The basic system was that the unit put in a request for 'X' replacement items to the OKH relevant office (depending on what they were ordering) and that this request was routed through Armee HQ Supply Officer who approved or not as the case may be. OKH then ordered that either the next 25 items from Factory 'Y' be routed to the Division in question or that 25 items be taken from stock at depot 'Z'. These would then be sent direct to the unit as part of an ongoing shipment for that Army.

In the case of tanks it can be identified that a 'batch' from the factory would be assigned to a particular Division and would wend their way from the factory, via the depot for acceptance trials and then forwarded onto the unit. High value items would be followed by everyone from the Fuhrer, OKW, OKH, Armee Gruppe, Armee and Korps downwards. The transcript of Hitlers Military briefings often mentions that "the next 49 StuGs are in transit for GrossDeutchland...".


Many thanks for that concise summary, Der Alte Fritz. Logistics and supply are often passed over in many books about wars. I guess I should find more specialised/professional publications to read!

I am guessing that there would be a significant time lag between the order being placed by Division and the equipment arriving there? I remember a tract in a book about the shortage of spare parts and mechanics on the Eastern front that was causing huge delays in tank repair, and a proposal that significantly damaged and reparable and worn out tanks be sent back to their factories for repair/rebuild. But when this was done the tank was away from the front for at least six months and in danger of becoming obscelecent. I think sometime around D-day SS Gen Bittrich decorated his mechanics for getting so many of the Panzers ready for battle.

Was placing 'advanced orders" permissable? It is done with ammunition and other stores surely? if Panzer division X was in the line, and heavily engaged, they could be sure of getting some tanks destroyed. And artillary would were out after it fired a given number of rounds, and so replacement barrels for tanks, arty etc would be needed in good time before combat effectiveness in the unit dropped to alarming levels.

I suppose the troops at the front did use stop-gap measures like captured guns, trucks and tanks, but this would hardly be a reliable source of resupply of equipment.

I also seem to recall that units occasionally "stole" or borrowed the equipment of other units in dire circumstances. And just before the Battle of Arnhem, one div of the SS Panzer Korps [the 10th?] which was posted back to Germany gave it's equipment to the other unit. The 9thSS?
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Re: The German system of equipment replacement?

Postby Appleknocker27 on 13 Feb 2013 18:28

RJ55 wrote:
Der Alte Fritz wrote:The basic system was that the unit put in a request for 'X' replacement items to the OKH relevant office (depending on what they were ordering) and that this request was routed through Armee HQ Supply Officer who approved or not as the case may be. OKH then ordered that either the next 25 items from Factory 'Y' be routed to the Division in question or that 25 items be taken from stock at depot 'Z'. These would then be sent direct to the unit as part of an ongoing shipment for that Army.

In the case of tanks it can be identified that a 'batch' from the factory would be assigned to a particular Division and would wend their way from the factory, via the depot for acceptance trials and then forwarded onto the unit. High value items would be followed by everyone from the Fuhrer, OKW, OKH, Armee Gruppe, Armee and Korps downwards. The transcript of Hitlers Military briefings often mentions that "the next 49 StuGs are in transit for GrossDeutchland...".


Many thanks for that concise summary, Der Alte Fritz. Logistics and supply are often passed over in many books about wars. I guess I should find more specialised/professional publications to read!

I am guessing that there would be a significant time lag between the order being placed by Division and the equipment arriving there? I remember a tract in a book about the shortage of spare parts and mechanics on the Eastern front that was causing huge delays in tank repair, and a proposal that significantly damaged and reparable and worn out tanks be sent back to their factories for repair/rebuild. But when this was done the tank was away from the front for at least six months and in danger of becoming obscelecent. I think sometime around D-day SS Gen Bittrich decorated his mechanics for getting so many of the Panzers ready for battle.

Was placing 'advanced orders" permissable? It is done with ammunition and other stores surely? if Panzer division X was in the line, and heavily engaged, they could be sure of getting some tanks destroyed. And artillary would were out after it fired a given number of rounds, and so replacement barrels for tanks, arty etc would be needed in good time before combat effectiveness in the unit dropped to alarming levels.

I suppose the troops at the front did use stop-gap measures like captured guns, trucks and tanks, but this would hardly be a reliable source of resupply of equipment.

I also seem to recall that units occasionally "stole" or borrowed the equipment of other units in dire circumstances. And just before the Battle of Arnhem, one div of the SS Panzer Korps [the 10th?] which was posted back to Germany gave it's equipment to the other unit. The 9thSS?


There really is no easy answer to this because the "system" was quite complex and different equipment can be classified in many different ways and have different methods of replacement. Replacement parts for automotive and weapons would be an example of two completely different methods. Tires are expected to wear out within a given amount of time, but rifle bolts or the recuperator on an artillery piece aren't. Therefore, the parts that are expected to wear out within given and often short parameters have a different method for replenishment, different priority, etc. The supply system can be mind boggling... Generally units in the Wehrmacht recieved new equipment very similiarly to how they recieved replacements and often at the same time. The unit was pulled out of the line or out of theatre and replenished with troops and equipment, retrained and then redeployed. Daily repairs of equipment were usually done from stock on hand that was scheduled to be replaced periodically (filters, gaskets, bolts, common parts, etc.) and would be replenished again when the unit came out of the line (except for POL). This is where the different levels of maintenance come into play (the German Army had 4 levels). Unit level (operator maintenance), rear area (battalion, Regt or Div), Depot and factory. The level of repair isn't necessarily related to the complexity of the equipment so much as it is a trade off between pushing forward sufficient assets to do the job as opposed to what transporting the equipment to a collection point costs. Its a matter of comparitive efficiency. In the case of an armored vehicle, it may be in need of upgrades available at the factory and end up being evacuated, remanufactured and allocated to an completely different unit (and shows up as a newly produced vehicle on factory production stats).
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Re: The German system of equipment replacement?

Postby steverodgers801 on 14 Feb 2013 19:28

You also need to look at the availability of transport for transfering logistics. It is common practice to stockpile items with out being on the books or to barter with other units.
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Re: The German system of equipment replacement?

Postby RJ55 on 20 Feb 2013 16:54

Thanks Steve, excellent replies. Can you recommend some sources [in English] that discuss these matters?
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Re: The German system of equipment replacement?

Postby Appleknocker27 on 22 Feb 2013 18:34

RJ55 wrote:Thanks Steve, excellent replies. Can you recommend some sources [in English] that discuss these matters?


A few books, random thoughts:

http://www.panzerwrecks.com/rtp1info.html (for repairing the panzers volumes)
"Hiter's Garands"
"K98k Backbone of the Wehrmacht"
"Mercedes at War"

Those books will introduce you to the levels of Wehrmacht equipment maintenance/repair and the organizations responsible for a particular family of equipment (automotive, tanks, small arms, artillery, etc.)

Look into the bibliographies for further reading.
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Re: The German system of equipment replacement?

Postby RJ55 on 22 Feb 2013 23:40

Thanks very much Appleknocker!
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Re: The German system of equipment replacement?

Postby sitalkes on 08 Mar 2013 01:58

The US Handbook on German Military forces http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=b3W1 ... ay&f=false has a long section on how the army was supplied.

By the way, can you give me a reference from a book that says that the German infantry division used about 300 tons a day? The reference given above says they used 1300 tons a day and I can't get the Wikipedia guys to accept any other figure.

A stock character in american war films/TV is the guy who can get everything and ignores the rules to do so. In Catch 22 he was trying to sell chocolate-flavoured cotton. I even saw it on a western recently where one US cavalry unit stole the equipment that was meant for another unit. Presumably these characters are based on real people and the same sort of thing happened in Germany, especailly as the situation got more desperate?
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Re: The German system of equipment replacement?

Postby sal2012 on 08 Mar 2013 17:42

another source might be FMS series P 41 qq on the general quartiermeister,,,,
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