This is an apolitical forum for discussions on the Axis nations, as well as the First and Second World Wars in general hosted by Marcus Wendel's Axis History Factbook in cooperation with Michael Miller's Axis Biographical Research and Christoph Awender's WW2 day by day.
Andreas wrote:It is actually a very interesting topic, but like you I understand little about it. The logistical implications of supplying horses are significant, not just in terms of output (i.e. how much they could produce in terms of mobility and speed), but also in terms of input (fodder needs are ten times the ration needs of a soldier per day; separate veterinarian infrastructure, etc.)
An area with lots of implications.
All the best
600,000 motorised vehicles including armoured reconnaissance (PSW)
3,350 tanks (excluding PSW) ...
LWD wrote:Are motor cycles included as motor vehicles?
Andreas wrote:...I think it would be interesting to get the information to compare for, say, May 1942, when the demotorisation of a lot of Wehrmacht units took place. My guess is that then we'll see a much higher horse/motor vehicle ratio...
Otto von Pivka wrote:...Horses for cavalry, staff, regimental baggage, artillery, ammunition and commissariat-say, 150,000. Oats-each horse would require on average 8 lbs per day, total per week 8,400,000 lbs. Hay-for each horse 12 lbs per day, total per week 12,600,000 lbs. Now all this requires carriage. Supposing the magazines are 50 miles in the rear, and that each horse goes 100 miles per week, it would require for transport of ‘food only’ for the army 112,000 extra horses. This number must also be fed and therefore require a further 4,659 horses to carry their food plus their own. Oats at 8 lbs per day for each horse totals 9,799,356 lbs per week, making a grand total of 44,332,264 lbs per week...from this page
Jon G. wrote:According to van Creveld some de-motorization of ordinary infantry divisions took place already in the winters of 1939/1940 and again 1940/1941, but I translate that as infantry divisions of later Wellen simply having fewer motor vehicles on establishment. If the horse to motor relationship stands, that would leave proportionally far more motor vehicles than horses with higher echelon and specialized formations - which makes sense, for the number of panzer divisions was increased from six to ten 1939-1940, and again from ten to 20 in 1940-1941 if memory serves me. I think this tendency amplifies as the war goes on - the motor vehicles don't disappear, they just concentrate in specialized formations.
Well, the horse establishment of the Wehrmacht rose constantly throughout the war, but the motor vehicle inventory also rose until quite late in the war if this table (from the USSBS) is to be believed:
...perhaps it is more correct to say that the Wehrmacht kept concentrating their available motor vehicles in relatively few specialized units to the increasing detriment of ordinary infantry divisions.
Zebedee wrote:I believe that the increase in motor vehicles was also due to the confiscations from domestic use in German-occupied areas and Germany itself (eg the mobilisation plans of the mid-30s allow for a couple of hundred thousand vehicles to be taken from the domestic economy).
This is fine in its own way as a stop-gap measure but such civillian trucks were not necessarily of the quality to meet military requirements (I am reminded of Montgomery's acidic comments about the BEF's civillian trucks in 1939/40).
In addition it meant that the logistical network of Europe started to break down (as rolling stock was also removed from occupied areas). This particularly affected the relatively heavily motorised Western Europe which were more dependant on motor vehicles for every day needs.
According to Tooze, the demotorisation plans were due to severe oil and rubber deficits which could not be overcome. Whilst Germany was more than able to produce large numbers of military specification motor vehicles and supplement them with civillian ones, the issue was always whether it could actually run them for any period of time. Whilst there may be large numbers of motor vehicles in the inventory, I wonder how many of them were operational at any one time?
In such a scenario, it certainly makes sense to equip the 'spearhead' units to the best of your ability whilst reducing the use of motor vehicles in other units. Of course, this is fine when there is some other way of taking up the slack (eg railway) but it does lead one to why the German logistics effort got into such trouble in the SU.
Perhaps the problem is one of perception? Very few countries could supply both the rubber and oil requirements to keep fully motorised armies running in WW2. Britain and the US are the only two I can think of with the USSR if it receives outside assistance. I don't think one should necessarily 'damn' Germany for not being able to match this.
Jon G. wrote:The USSR was a major supplier of Kautschuk (sp?) until Barbarossa.
Jon G. wrote:Hi Zebedee and thanks for the clarity of that post.
Yes, absolutely. Two of the the three transportation regiments (commonly referred to as the Grosstransportraum) which the Wehrmacht had on strength had conscripted civilian trucks as a matter of routine already pre-war; the two 'conscript' regiments were only activated when war broke out.
Yes, the German economy - which wasn't very motorized - could not manage motorizing both the army and the civilian economy. Therefore, some efforts were made towards standardizing German truck output into a few types which could be used both by the civilian sector and the army - so the conscripting of civilian trucks into the army was in fact planned for, it wasn't merely a stop-gap measure.
Even so, corners had to be cut in order to ensure sufficient truck output; the military-specs Einheitsdiesel was too expensive to build in the required numbers:
(yes, pretty self-serving to link to a post I wrote myself )
The result was that the Wehrmacht had to accept using vehicles which to a large degree weren't built to military specifications. That of course also goes for vehicles confiscated from occupied Europe.
Well, Western Europe wasn't very motorized. Places like French Morocco had relatively many motor vehicles, but by and large Europe still relied on horses and rails for its transportation needs. For example, the British economy had more motor vehicles per capita than the German economy, and until 1960 the USA had more motor cars than the rest of the world put together.
Horses were also requisitioned by the Wehrmacht - I gave some numbers for that on p 1 of this thread - though perhaps not quite as many horses as you would expect; it appears that many of the Wehrmacht's horses came from the occupied parts of the USSR and their fodder from occupied Poland.
IIRC van Creveld mentions that the Germans expected 30% of their Grosstransportraum to be out of action due to maintenance and repairs at any given time. From this, it appears that the Wehrmacht took into account that many of its vehicles would be substandard civilian types, likely to break down often when driven hard over poor roads or in combat zones.
Absolutely it does, and I am not contesting the wisdom of concentrating one's motor vehicles in a handful of specialized units; that probably makes it easier to conserve fuel and keeping all necessary expertise, workshops etc. centralized probably works wonders for serviceability too.
The prize for that is that your ordinary infantry divisions become less mobile and more dependent on horse and rail transport. In other words, demotorization of most of their army was a deliberate choice on the Germans' part, it wasn't forced by a declining motor vehicle inventory.
The USSR was a major supplier of Kautschuk (sp?) until Barbarossa. There is something rather symbolic about horses becoming such a major plunder item after the Germans attacked the Soviet Union.
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