Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by Futurist » 03 Jan 2021 06:00

History Learner wrote:
02 Jan 2021 22:36
The Ibis wrote:
02 Jan 2021 18:02
History Learner wrote:
27 Dec 2020 02:32
stg 44 wrote:
29 Dec 2014 21:17
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1 ... .VKGd1MABA
Abstract
When studying the battle for Kursk, one of the climactic engagements in the German-Soviet war (1941–1945), many authors have maintained that the Germans would have won the battle had they not delayed their attack from May until early July 1943. This article subjects that assertion to recently released archival materials to conclude that this premise is patently incorrect.
This article makes a pretty convincing case that Citadel was doomed from the start, as the Germans could not replace their losses earlier enough to matter in terms of taking the offensive. Just thought the community would appreciate the argument and archival research that went into answering the question.
Having read the article in question finally, ...
You have quite the reading list if it took six years to get around to this! :lol:
Lack of access and time haha; I was in High School when this came out.
When'd you graduate from high school? 2016?

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by stg 44 » 04 Jan 2021 00:07

History Learner wrote:
02 Jan 2021 22:35
stg 44 wrote:
01 Jan 2021 21:51
History Learner wrote:
01 Jan 2021 20:18
stg 44 wrote:
01 Jan 2021 18:50
Hi History Learner. Very interesting, but I'm noticing only a focus on weaker Soviet forces, but no estimation for how much weaker German forces were in May in terms of armor, artillery, infantry, supply, etc. It seems like you're making your calculations based on them being equally strong, not also quite a bit weaker in striking power vs. in July. Correct me if I am wrong though.
Beyond the issue of armor on the German side, the article doesn't provide any real numbers, so I ran it as if they were the same size manpower wise. On the specific issue of armor, in absolute numbers the Germans are weaker but relative to the Soviets they're not; IOTL by July the Soviets had over an over 2:1 advantage in armor but here, it's about 1.5 or even 1.3 depending on the sector.
That's very interesting then. The one thing that really mattered for OTL Kursk for the Germans though was artillery. They used 300% more shells than the Soviets during the battle, I don't think they had nearly as many ready to go by mid-May. Even with less fortifications to break through a lack of artillery and ammo would be a huge problem given that it was a rather decisive advantage they had over the Soviets until 4th Kharkov. It mattered a great deal to offset the numerical disadvantage without exposing the infantry or armor to damage as in direct fighting.
The base Lanchester Equation is not the best, admittedly, because it needs refinements to account for issues like that; it's the only one I can run, however, with my limited resources (a laptop and calculator) as well as my limited math knowledge. In terms of giving a general idea, however, I think it is instructive if for nothing else than the suggestion it provides.

On the same subject as artillery, though, Glantz and others note the long preparation time the Soviets had allowed them to drill extensively with their own artillery, setting up firing sectors, hardening their communication lines, etc and this helped to address their own shortcomings in this field that might make lesser German artillery a wash in that they cancel out. The lack of mines and the significant lack of Soviet tanks, likewise, will also significant reduce German infantry losses.
All fair points.

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by AriX » 17 Aug 2021 15:51

History Learner wrote:
29 Dec 2020 19:20


Historically, Central and Voronezh Fronts held 1,337,166 men by the time of Operation Citadel. Steppe Front, acting as their reserve, held another 573,195 men. Here, however, Central Front has 365,641 and Voronezh Front has 351,459 for a total of 717,100. The article in question does not provide any details for Steppe Front, other than to say it was already developing as a reserve force. Central Front has 76% of its July manpower rate and Voronezh has 84%, so I took their median value (80%) and applied it to Steppe Front's historical July rate to get 458,556 men.

Steppe Front was created on July,9, 1943 by transforming of Steppe military district.

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 19 Aug 2021 13:18

History Learner wrote:one more skilled than me in the mathematics of such (Cough, TheMarcksPlan, cough) could provide much greater insights there.
Flattered but I'm a words guy (lawyer IRL) who wades into quantitative analysis when required and sufficiently interested. Kursk is outside of my core interests; I don't see any outcome-changing contingencies at play by Spring 1943.
History Learner wrote:I found the Soviets had a 0.114 CEV value.
Even assuming perfect Lanchestrian applicability, that CEV is far too low. We'd have to assume RKKA deployed its worst soldiers to its most important battle even to begin to make sense of that. I don't have precise numbers (again, not my core interest) but not all of Soviet forces arrayed around the battlefield were engaged OTL; they therefore shouldn't count towards CEV scoring.
History Learner wrote:Beyond the issue of armor on the German side, the article doesn't provide any real numbers, so I ran it as if they were the same size manpower wise. On the specific issue of armor, in absolute numbers the Germans are weaker but relative to the Soviets they're not; IOTL by July the Soviets had over an over 2:1 advantage in armor but here, it's about 1.5 or even 1.3 depending on the sector.
I'd echo stg44's point on artillery shells. Also the LW's buildup by July. And IIRC Ostheer's Iststarke hit a post-Barbarossa zenith in July '43; it was significantly weaker in May '43.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by AriX » 19 Aug 2021 18:12

Considering that Hitler gave primary significance to his armored forces for implementing Operation Citadel, I will cite some data regarding their size in Army Groups Center and South. For
example, on 4 May 1943, there were a total of 442 tanks (Pz III, Pz IV, but
not a single Pz VI Tiger) on the roster in Army Group Center, which included
the Ninth Army, of which 314 (71 percent) were operational on that date,
while Army Group South had 1,087 tanks, of which 728 (67 percent) were
operational.17 Thus already in May 1943, the correlation on the northern face
of the Kursk bulge regarding this important type of armament was 1.5 to
1 in favor of the Soviet side, and 1.3 to 1 on the southern face of the salient
Taked from the article. Btw, the autor didn't counted STUG's and tank destroyers on German side.
stg 44 wrote:
01 Jan 2021 21:51




They used 300% more shells than the Soviets during the battle,
If you have the exact numbers , provide it here, pls. :roll:

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by stg 44 » 23 Aug 2021 03:03

AriX wrote:
19 Aug 2021 18:12
stg 44 wrote:
01 Jan 2021 21:51
They used 300% more shells than the Soviets during the battle,
If you have the exact numbers , provide it here, pls. :roll:
I don't offhand. It was in the Zetterling book on Kursk, but I don't own it and haven't read it for years. That was just one of the figures he related that stuck with me.

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by History Learner » 25 Nov 2021 01:07

So doing more research on this, and I'm increasingly of the opinion an attack around early to mid May was best. To quote from Kursk: The German View -
Two months later, when Operation Citadel belatedly commenced on 5 July, how much stronger and better prepared was Ninth Army to achieve the objectives set for it? The army's combat strength had risen from 66,137 to 75,713 (a gain of 9,576), but this increase was deceiving. More than two-thirds of the additional strength (6,670 men) resulted not from replacements or reinforcements to the existing divisions but as the result of the addition of the 6th Infantry and 4th Panzer Divisions to the Ninth Army's administrative reporting system; only 2,906 new soldiers and returning convalescents had joined the ranks in the intervening two months. When the four divisions of XX Corps, which were assigned to hold Model's far right flank and take no part in the initial breakthrough phase of the battle, are discounted, Ninth Army jumped off toward Kursk on 5 July with a combat strength of only 68,747 troops.13
Further:
Ninth Army's transport situation improved only slightly between May and July. Model appears to have received about 1,200 additional motor vehicles in two months. Many undoubtedly were not new but stripped away from other units on Army Group Center's defensive fronts. Although the figure looks impressive at first glance, the actual gain in tactical mobility was only about 4-5 percent in each division. Calculated another way, each of the infantry divisions gained fewer than thirty vehicles; each of the panzer divisions received about 120.16
For comparison:
To evaluate whether these increases were sufficient to warrant the repeated delay in launching Operation Citadel, inquiries must also be made into the extent to which the Red Army had reinforced opposite Ninth Army and—equally important—the success that the Germans had in recognizing that buildup. According to later intelligence reports, Army Group Center believed that the Soviets had increased their infantry strength north of Kursk from 124,000 to about 161,000 during the eight week hiatus.18 The overall quality of the new troops (many of whom were recent conscripts) was doubtful but, that caveat aside, these estimates meant that relative German combat strength had declined significantly due to the postponements of the attack. In May Ninth Army's combat strength by its own accounting was roughly 53.4 percent of that arrayed against it; by 4 July German strength as a percentage of Soviet numbers had dropped to just 47 percent. From an infantry perspective, attacking at a later date was a losing proposition.

Neither had Ninth Army's artillery buildup, as impressive as it may have seemed at the time, materially improved the odds of the offensive. The two armies holding the first defensive system immediately in Model's front (Thirteenth and Seventieth Armies), contained fewer than 3,000 guns and mortars as the Soviets enumerated them, the entire Central Front deploying less than 8,000. By 4 July, however, the Thirteenth and Seventieth Armies boasted 4,592 pieces of artillery, and Central Front's batteries had swollen to 12,453. Stated in the simplest terms, during the eight weeks in which the Germans moved up 362 new guns, the Russians brought forward 1,500 in the front line and 4,500 overall; as weak as Ninth Army had been in early May, it would have enjoyed far better prospects then for ultimate success.19

The story was much the same for armored fighting vehicles (AFVs). Contrary to German intelligence estimates, the Soviet Central Front had deployed only about 1,000 tanks and assault guns in late April-early May, rather than 1,500. This was a critical misinterpretation that explains much about Model's insistence on delaying the offensive. With 800 AFVs facing 1,500, the army commander had a legitimate case for arguing that additional panzers, especially Panthers and Tigers, were absolutely necessary for the assault. Had Model realized that Russian armored superiority was only about 200 vehicles, he would have been far more willing to proceed. By waiting, Ninth Army augmented its AFV holdings by about 25 percent, but the Soviets nearly doubled theirs. In early July, Central Front's advantage in tanks and self-propelled guns had increased from 200 to 700.

The overall conclusion must therefore be that the two-month delay materially contributed to the early failure of Ninth Army's attack. In all three critical categories—combat troops, artillery, and armor—the modest gains in strength that the Germans managed were more than offset by Soviet reinforcements. Model diminished his own army's chance of breaking through Central Front's defenses by convincing Hitler to postpone Operation Citadel. Given the faulty intelligence estimates with which he was working, however, the army commander's reasoning appeared to have merit, and in late spring 1943 few German officers yet realized the depth of Soviet resources.
I'm still looking to get information on how well prepared AGS was in May compared to July, but the case seems clear for AGC's/Model's role in that the gains from the delays were non-existent and attacking earlier would've had them in a better position, relative to the Soviets. Chris Bellamy's Absolute War also recounts the logistical picture in the early days remained poor for the Soviets:
The Russians’ main problem was the lack of communications and
transport within the salient, which in those days meant railways.
With the main line to Kursk from Moscow through Orel in German
hands, the best line — double-tracked — ran from Moscow south
through Tula, and thence to Kastornoye and Stary Oskol. That could
take forty to forty-ve pairs of trains a day. From Kastornoye, a line
ran westwards through Kursk and L’gov, but that could only take
twelve to eighteen pairs of trains a day. After heavy equipment, fuel
and ammunition reached railway stations on those lines, transport
was along dirt roads. The Germans had much better rail links, into
Orel, Bryansk and Kharkov, and the Russians understood this.
Further:
Most of the forces required were still stuck at Stalingrad and
there was only one railway line into the salient to move all the
supplies and equipment from Kastornoye westwards to Kursk (see
Figure 17.2). The main line to Kursk from Moscow ran through
German-held territory. Rokossovskiy, no doubt remembering his
time in the GULag, recalled wryly that:

The job of accelerating the troops’ movements was given to the NKVD, and its men
pitched into it with such zeal, clamping down so hard on the railway authorities
that the latter lost their heads completely, and whatever timetables and schedules
had existed until then now went up in smoke. Troops began to arrive at the
concentration area all mixed up … One unit’s materiel
[equipment, weapons]
might be unloaded at one station while men were detrained at another.19
These problems seem to have continued into the Summer.

I also have the following charts, the first from the GSWW series and the latter from Kursk: A Statistical Digest -

Image

Image

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by KDF33 » 25 Nov 2021 05:45

History Learner wrote:
25 Nov 2021 01:07
So doing more research on this, and I'm increasingly of the opinion an attack around early to mid May was best.
I agree. I've heard the counter-argument that the Germans were unlikely to succeed at encircling the forces in the Kursk salient even in May. If true, it doesn't change the fact that an earlier attack would lead to heavy fighting, and therefore high attrition to Soviet forces at a time when they hadn't accumulated the reserves (whether in trained manpower or equipment - especially tanks) with which they won the 'attritional campaign' of July - September 1943.

I would even argue that the Germans should have attacked in April somewhere, even if not around Kursk, just to prevent Soviet force generation from irretrievably turning the balance-of-forces against them.

See this table:

Image

German data is for Ostheer (with W-SS/Lw-Feld) without Finland and RKs. Soviet data is for ground forces against Germany + Reserve / Steppe Front.

Germany added 306,440 men (+11%) and 1,328 AFVs (+61%), whereas the Soviets added 1,100,778 men (+21%) and 6,742 AFVs (+132%).

Note the right quadrant, which shows Soviet AFV losses for the three main operations of the July - mid-August period: the defense at Kursk and the two offensives on the northern and southern flanks of the salient. There were more major battles in that period, especially around Leningrad and in the Donbas. Thus, their overall losses were actually even higher than what is shown here.

And yet, just with those three operations, Soviet losses outweighed production by 2,762 units. Had the Soviets incurred those losses with the armored force they had in early April, they would have been down to 2,334 vehicles by the end of May.

IMO, the data is unarguable: earlier fighting was unlikely to see the Soviets strong enough to dislodge the Germans from their positions, which in turn would have prevented them from taking in recruits from the liberated territories, thus creating a negative feedback loop where attrition would favor the Germans, i.e. the opposite of what actually happened.

Not that it would have saved Germany from the Anglo-Americans, mind you - it was too late for that. But the war ending with the Soviets in a less than catastrophic position was IMO still not a given by spring 1943.

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by Cult Icon » 25 Nov 2021 07:05

Would an earlier Operation Citadel increase the amount of air support available to the operation?

There was a big expenditure in the Kuban (I read a source that said that it rivaled that of July 1943) plus the strategic bombing campaign against various factories .

The divisions of the 9th Army were different than those of the 4th Panzer Army and AA Kempf. Prior to Citadel many formations had engaged in the Rzhev meatgrinder, and then in anti-partisan sweeps. They were also weaker than the formations in the south, having less infantry and equipment. This shortfall was remedied by attaching a lot of GHQ units to boost their combat value.

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by History Learner » 25 Nov 2021 10:54

KDF33 wrote:
25 Nov 2021 05:45
History Learner wrote:
25 Nov 2021 01:07
So doing more research on this, and I'm increasingly of the opinion an attack around early to mid May was best.
I agree. I've heard the counter-argument that the Germans were unlikely to succeed at encircling the forces in the Kursk salient even in May. If true, it doesn't change the fact that an earlier attack would lead to heavy fighting, and therefore high attrition to Soviet forces at a time when they hadn't accumulated the reserves (whether in trained manpower or equipment - especially tanks) with which they won the 'attritional campaign' of July - September 1943.

I would even argue that the Germans should have attacked in April somewhere, even if not around Kursk, just to prevent Soviet force generation from irretrievably turning the balance-of-forces against them.

See this table:

Image

German data is for Ostheer (with W-SS/Lw-Feld) without Finland and RKs. Soviet data is for ground forces against Germany + Reserve / Steppe Front.

Germany added 306,440 men (+11%) and 1,328 AFVs (+61%), whereas the Soviets added 1,100,778 men (+21%) and 6,742 AFVs (+132%).

Note the right quadrant, which shows Soviet AFV losses for the three main operations of the July - mid-August period: the defense at Kursk and the two offensives on the northern and southern flanks of the salient. There were more major battles in that period, especially around Leningrad and in the Donbas. Thus, their overall losses were actually even higher than what is shown here.

And yet, just with those three operations, Soviet losses outweighed production by 2,762 units. Had the Soviets incurred those losses with the armored force they had in early April, they would have been down to 2,334 vehicles by the end of May.

IMO, the data is unarguable: earlier fighting was unlikely to see the Soviets strong enough to dislodge the Germans from their positions, which in turn would have prevented them from taking in recruits from the liberated territories, thus creating a negative feedback loop where attrition would favor the Germans, i.e. the opposite of what actually happened.
I was hoping you and/or TMP would reply, as I value your collective input; that you agree with my conclusion is gratifying and makes me feel more confident on it, given our past disagreements. Is there any more data you can throw my way? Especially concerning AGS, as that is the one weak point in my argument given my lack of hard data on them. Any in general is also appreciated, as it helps me to refine my arguments and present a stronger case for my position.
Not that it would have saved Germany from the Anglo-Americans, mind you - it was too late for that. But the war ending with the Soviets in a less than catastrophic position was IMO still not a given by spring 1943.
In so far as looking at the pure military balance, I agree, but I still think there was paths open to avoiding that for the Germans; based on the preponderance on evidence, I'm inclined to believe the peace feelers of 1943 were real and both sides were genuine, at least as far as seeing what the other wanted to get an idea of where they stood.

Stalin and the Prospects of a Separate Peace in World War II
The Spectre of a Separate Peace in the East: Russo-German 'Peace Feelers', 1942-44

Besides the linked articles, A World At Arms by Gerhard L. Weinberg (1994) and Hitler's War by Heinz Magenheimer (1998) support it. I don't have access to Magenheimer, but I do have Weinberg and I'll quote from that.

Page 609:
Until access to Soviet archives enables scholars to see more clearly into these murky episodes, this author will remain convinced that it was the shock of German military revival so soon after the great Soviet victory at Stalingrad which reinforced Stalin's inclinations during 1943 to contemplate the possibility of either a separate peace with Hitler's Germany or with some alternative German government. With the road to Berlin so obviously a difficult one, the temptation to sound possible alternatives was enormous. Surely by now the Germans must realize that their hopes of defeating the Soviet Union were illusory. The German government had had sense enough in 1939 to work out an accommodation with the Soviet Union on terms both sides had found advantageous; the same people were still in charge in Berlin. In the winter of 1940-41 they had refused to reply to the Soviet proposals for Russia to join the Tripartite Pact, but instead had insisted on attacking her; perhaps in the interim they had learned better in the hard school of war.​

As for the Soviet Union, she had demonstrated conclusively that she could defend herself, but this defense had been immensely costly. A new agreement with Germany would provide a breathing space for reconstruction and recovery, would remove German occupation without either further Red Army casualties or economic destruction, and would leave the Soviet Union dominant in all of Eastern Europe, especially in Poland where a Soviet puppet government would replace the pre-war regime. It may have been known to the Soviet government that there were elements in the German government and military apparatus who wanted an agreement with Moscow, and it was certainly known that Japan was very strongly in favor of a German-Soviet peace.​
Pg 610:
On the Soviet side, the position appears to have been that Germany must evacuate all the occupied territory, certainly to the 1941 border, possibly later on, after the Soviet victory in July 1943, back to the 1914 border (thus turning over central Poland to the Soviet Union). German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop appears to have been at least slightly interested in some compromise peace; he saw himself as the architect of the 1939 pact with the Soviet Union and had always given priority to the war against Great Britain. Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda, favored negotiations with Stalin and so advised Hitler, almost certainly much more strongly than von Ribbentrop. Hitler, however, was unwilling to have any negotiations with the Soviet Union. Some of the sources make a great deal out of his suspicions about a key intermediary in Stockholm being Jewish, but Hitler's explanations to Goebbels and Oshima go to the core of the issue: he wanted to keep territory, especially the Ukraine, which he was certain Stalin would not give up; and on this point, if no other, his assessment of the Soviet Union was certainly correct. While Stalin might have been willing to negotiate about territory to the west of the 1941 border of the country, he was certainly not about to leave the Germans in occupation of portions of it, least of all the rich agricultural and industrial areas of the Ukraine. The latter would, if necessary, be retaken in battle, and in the fall of 1943 and the winter of 1943-44 that is exactly what the Red Army did.​
IF the Germans are able to get a separate peace with the Soviets in the Post-Kursk aftermath, I think it is likely they can achieve the same with the Anglo-Americans by presenting them with the prospect of high casualties-politically unsustainable that is-and the prospect of the USSR waiting on the wings to take advantage of their weakness.

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by Yoozername » 25 Nov 2021 11:25

Cult Icon wrote:
25 Nov 2021 07:05
Would an earlier Operation Citadel increase the amount of air support available to the operation?
Good question. I am actually at a loss as far as what the German plan was anyway? i think they figured on 3-4 days air dominance? Be in Kursk..when exactly?

Cult Icon wrote:
25 Nov 2021 07:05
The divisions of the 9th Army were different than those of the 4th Panzer Army and AA Kempf. Prior to Citadel many formations had engaged in the Rzhev meat grinder, and then in anti-partisan sweeps. They were also weaker than the formations in the south, having less infantry and equipment. This shortfall was remedied by attaching a lot of GHQ units to boost their combat value.
Almost seems like a bolstered feint in the North.

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by Boby » 25 Nov 2021 13:19

How is possible Soviet AFVs strength was 5k in April and 12k in July? Add an average of ca. 2k monthly production and some L&L, but WHERE are the losses???

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by PunctuationHorror » 25 Nov 2021 13:51

KDF33 wrote:
25 Nov 2021 05:45
I would even argue that the Germans should have attacked in April somewhere, even if not around Kursk, just to prevent Soviet force generation from irretrievably turning the balance-of-forces against them.
Yeah, the Germans should have attacked in April, I agree. Problem is: they couldn't.
Firstly, they were busy with bringing in reinforcements and replacements, and reorganization and training of their troops had to be done.
Secondly: Rasputiza, mud season. No advance if you get bogged down in the mud and have serious transporting problems that hamper a build up for an offensive.

Image

Caption says: 'Wehrmacht horse carriage sunk in deep mud in Kursk Oblast, March–April 1942'
Guess it looked the same in '43.

Image

This picture appears to have been taken in november '43. Similar conditions.

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by KDF33 » 25 Nov 2021 16:34

PunctuationHorror wrote:
25 Nov 2021 13:51
Yeah, the Germans should have attacked in April, I agree. Problem is: they couldn't.
Firstly, they were busy with bringing in reinforcements and replacements, and reorganization and training of their troops had to be done.
Did you take a look at the table I provided?

The Germans had more than 2.8 million men at the front on 04/01/1943, which grew to slightly over 3.1 million by 07/01/1943.
PunctuationHorror wrote:
25 Nov 2021 13:51
Secondly: Rasputiza, mud season. No advance if you get bogged down in the mud and have serious transporting problems that hamper a build up for an offensive.
And yet the Soviets were attacking in March - April 1942, October - November 1943 and March - April 1944.

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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by stg 44 » 25 Nov 2021 17:36

KDF33 wrote:
25 Nov 2021 16:34
And yet the Soviets were attacking in March - April 1942, October - November 1943 and March - April 1944.
Other than the March-April 1944 offensives the attacks in the period you mention didn't go particularly well for the Soviets. The March-April one went better because the muddy season came and went earlier in the year and German lines were so thinly manned and Hitler locked down forces to defend rather stupidly that it gave the numerically superior Soviet forces the chance to simply flow through and around German units to pocket them.

Effectively the situation was so different for the Citadel offensive as of April 1943 from the Soviet one in the periods you mention as to be a rather pointless comparison. May 1943 (or June 1st) was simply the best time for them to attack with the weather, recovery from previous losses, stockpiling of ammo, etc. An April offensive somewhere else would disrupt the preparations for Kursk since that required such a huge investment of resources. You make a good point about force ratios being best in April, but there are many more considerations than simply that. That means May being the best time due to all the other factors in consideration. June 10th was probably the tipping due to the force ratios tipping against German forces. June 5th might have been still workable due to the all-in aerial offensive on June 2nd that smashed the rail system servicing the Kursk bulge though, as it took the Soviets a bit of time to recover, but they brought in a lot of air defense to prevent an effective follow up attack and that blunted attempts throughout the rest of the pre-offensive period per German sources. Certainly not launching the strategic air offensive in June would have freed up at least a couple hundred twin engine bombers to support the Kursk operation through deeper interdiction against roads and reinforcements moving to counterattack, which apparently was not done in the historical July offensive.

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