The Germans increase Panzer production in the Summer of 1940

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Ostkatze
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Post by Ostkatze » 13 Oct 2006 17:08

I think Alk answers his own question a little in his opening post. We all know total war was coming, but Hitler obviously was not planning on one. In July '40 he was indeed looking to balance the budget, except for that little Barbarossa thing.... but all he had to do was kick in the door.....
For us it is obvious that the mark 4 should have been pushed early over the similar mark 3, based on turret ring diameter alone. Real world production seems to have been limited most of all by a lack of trained machinists for larger turret rings, a problem shared by all the parties involved.
Alk has been jumped here a little on the supply-field repair issue; Shrek is correct on the travelling-circus nightmare of keeping all those myriads of captured vehicles on the Russian " road ".
As for Hurrying Heinz himself, I think it wise to remember he was not immune, both at the time and in his memoirs, to being a crying prima donna bitch. His #'s for runners just prior to the move south from Yelnya are clearly falsified. Not argueing the correctness of the Kiev move or not here, but his demands for all new tanks at the time was a tad laughable.
The Pz IV ( supposedly a support vehicle ) and the Pz III 5cm were clearly their best and they knew it. Initial allotments for Barbarossa show this clearly. Kleist, alone down south, was given 31% of those available. Pz Gruppe 4 got 13%, Hoth a whopping 11%. Guderian, for his key role, was allotted 45% of the best tanks available. np.

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 13 Oct 2006 18:03

Alk wrote:Since the organzations within the Panzer divisions were in place to supply, maintain and support at least 100 panzers, it simply stands to reason that if numbers of replacements were available to keep these divisions at this level (I am talking about the dozen or so divisions that were attached to AGC at this time), it would have been a net positive and not a huge logistical drain on the two panzer armies whose organizations were set up to maintain this many panzers in the first place. With the a larger Panzer manufacturing program in place, these divisions could have been at least somewhat resupplied and retained their ability to function in their envisioned combined-arms capacity.

I think this is where we part company - I am not talking about the division's ability to supply and maintain the vehicle, I am talking about the Army Group's ability to supply its armies, of the armies to supply its AK, and of the AK to supply its divisions. It is at that level that more tanks may have become a net negative. Without a corresponding increase in the supply capabilities of the higher-level formations, more tanks are not helpful. Even if you increase the supply capabilities, you may first want to assign them to other things that were lacking, e.g. artillery prime movers, or artillery ammunition.
Alk wrote: It is an interesting note that there were not large scale counter attacks against the Russian winter offensive by German armored forces. They simply didn't exist in sufficient quantity to do so. Several large German supply dumps with large amounts of fuel and ammunition were captured during this stage of the war (I can dig up this information after work I suppose), which helped maintain the Russian momemtum. With adequate mobile forces to protect these supplies and utilize their fuel and ammunition, things could possibly have turned out differently.
Of course, but these large dumps were not normally near the frontline, with the possible exception of Toropets. They were probably near the railheads, and they were so large because there was no capacity to get the stuff in them further forward by road.

The story about the 35(t) is almost certainly from 6.PD, since they were the only ones to operate the type. As far as reliability in general goes though, it appears to me that the 38(t) may have been okay - 12. PD (which had that type instead of the Panzer III) reported an 800km roadmarch with no mechanical losses in September, when they moved from AGC to AGN.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Roddoss72 » 14 Oct 2006 01:45

I believe if the main problem for the Germans was this they in so far as Panzer production was very much like their production of aircraft, they continued to build obsolete aircraft trying everything they could to get the best out of a bad situation, where logic would have said "Let's go for a better and totally brand new design", that is what happened to the German Panzer industry, they continued to produce obsolete designs, and either ignoring or showed very little interest new ones prior to Barbarossa, it wasn't until they came face to face with the T-34 that they decided to change their minds, imagine say Hitler had decided to go with ramping up production of the new Tiger tank and made sure each Panzer Division had at least one Schwer Panzer Abteilung with Tigers in it, and had sufficient spare parts to go with that.

And speaking of spare parts, it has occured to me that one of the biggest downfalls of the German war machine was the lack of available spare parts, it seems to me the production of spare parts was more than an afterthought, i think that is why the Germans lost so many tanks, not because they were destroyed, but they simply could not be sufficiently repaired and maintained due to the critical shortage of available spare parts, and then we have the fuel supply problem, it is true, the biggest factor of the failure of the drive into the Caucasus in the end was a lack of fuel, many panzer ran out and had to abannoned, there was not sufficient fuel to allow many panzers to retreat, 100's of panzer were lost this way, remeber they the Germans did capture the Maikop Oil Fields, going after Baku was sheer folly.

So my conclusion is that had the Germans decided to ramp up production of the Tiger tank to supply each Panzer Division with one heavy Panzer Battalion and to retire old obsolete designs PZ I, II and continue building PZ III chasis for SP and Panzer Zestörers and also provide sufficient spare parts and also delay the invasion 12 months then i believe that the German could have had the destinct advantage, even a winning one.

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Post by Lkefct » 15 Oct 2006 19:45

The tiger could not have been produced in that large a quantity without huge hits to other types of production, probably expanding beyond tank production. The most optimistic whichfullness was to have a single Tiger company, along wiht each Pz Korp getting a Tiger Bn.

It is also not like the tank design were not bein worked on, but rather moving very slowly. The designs that evenutally lead to the Tiger and panther respectively where not accepted into production, but would not have been as good as the t-34. Hence, putting them in production would be difficult to justify. By the same token, without those designs and the stress to Gemran combat troops, those designs where modified into what would eventually become the Panther and Tiger. They could never have been completed so quickly if some work was not taken form the existing designs.

The fact remains that many of the german woes would have been reduced or offset had their tanks gone into Russia with long 75 guns rather then short 50 mm. I would also think that since the Germans did not crave tank vs tank engagements, that they might have prefered to favor tanks destroyers and asualt guns to carry large high velocity guns to engage the Soviet designs before (or in addition to) putting the biggest and badest design into production. Totally revamping Gemran tank production before barbarrosa would not have lead to amassive increase in the number of tanks availible. It would take far too long to update the production jigs to see anywhere near the numbers needed. However, a new model of long barreled existings designs of tanks, tank destroyers and assualt guns might have done the trick.

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Lars
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Post by Lars » 16 Oct 2006 10:30

The easiest way to get more tanks in Barbarossa would be - simply - to send those produced in June - August 1941 to Russia. AFAIR, only 15-17% of the tanks produced in June-August 1941 were send to Russia. The remainder 85% or so were held back "for future operations" in newly formed units in Germany, as Barbarossa, once started, was supposed to be a succes with the ressources at hand once the fighting started.

Only in September did the number of tanks reaching Russia equal or exceed the number of tanks produced. In September 1941, the eastern army recieved 115% or so of September´s tank production.

People with better access to tank productions figures than me at this instant can figure out the effects of this, but off the cuff a shot from the hip would be that the eastern army could have recieved 1,500 tanks or so more from June- August.

Now there´s a what-if! And an easy one on top, as it simply requires Hitler to be a little less confident in Barbarossa, and send tank productions east instead of setting up new units in Germany.

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Lkefct
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Post by Lkefct » 17 Oct 2006 15:02

How would you propose to get them to the forward units? Drive on their tracks, or wait until spring when teh rail lines have caught up?

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Post by Carl Schwamberger » 18 Oct 2006 02:50

Maybe carry them on the heavy trucks that were not built? :)

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Post by Roddoss72 » 18 Oct 2006 05:23

Carl Schwamberger wrote:Maybe carry them on the heavy trucks that were not built? :)
That's right, even the largest half tracked vehicle in the German arsenal the 18 tonne Famo and its trailer could not carry either the Panther or Tiger they were simply far to heavy for them, the only way would be this

Drive the tanks to the front, not a great idea, they would need a complete overhaul when they arrived

Entrain them, that allows the transportation en mass of tanks, but trains make easy target to sabotage and ground and air attack.

Knocked down, meaning they are transported as seperate parts, Hull, Wheels & Tracks and Turrets each being carried by the Famos individually and once at the front they get assemled at field assembly depots along with a lorry train of spare parts.

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Post by Andreas » 18 Oct 2006 08:59

So, how many FAMO 18-ton HTs were built?

BTW - I think Lkefct was referring to 1941. The idea that you can transport tanks forward en masse on individual vehicles is just nonsense. They are either drive on their own (which means they are going to be ready to go back into overhaul by the time they reach the frontline), or by train, but there was no train beyond Smolensk IIRC, and not enough capacity on the lines before that either.

It still comes down to logistics. You need to solve that first, before wondering how many more tanks you could bring into action by producing more.

All the best

Andreas

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Lars
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Post by Lars » 18 Oct 2006 09:41

Lkefct wrote:How would you propose to get them to the forward units? Drive on their tracks, or wait until spring when teh rail lines have caught up?
I was referring to the June-August 1941 situation where the Ostheer was supposed to win the battle with the materiel and forces at hand. Hence, only 15-17% of the panzer production reached the Ostheer while the remaining 85% or so was held back "for future operations."

How would I get the additional panzers in June-August 1941 to the forward units? As much as possible by rail, of course. At this time, early Barbarossa, the Germans are converting rails at a good pace. The transportation crisis only grew fatal in the fall after the Dvinsk-Dvina line was crossed. And I would not worry too much about railway sabotage at this point. That was also for later.

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Post by Lkefct » 18 Oct 2006 16:00

Rail is the prefered way, but despite how well the progress is going, there is still a realtively limited capacity to move supplies of any type forward. To send them forward, it is going to be at the expense of something else.

I would also suggest that production is not nearly as important as not urning he tanks around willy nilly. The little sideshow operations at Kiev and Lenningrad hurt the Pz readiness a lot more then any combat action. Had they been used to immediately strike towards moscow, germany would have had far more strength on hand when the battle actually started. It would also have occured at a time when teh Soviets are really short of men to use in the defnese of the city.

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Post by Polynikes » 18 Oct 2006 23:18

Essentially the Wehrmacht wasn't geared of equipped for a titanic battle with the Red Army.

It expected a quick victory - a bit like Alexander's army destroying Darius III's hordes in succesive battles.

Had the German command been able to time warp from 1943 back to 1938 I'm sure they would've done things a lot differently.

1. Maximum utilisation of foriegn controlled industry. For example French industry could make 500 half tracks a week + 100 Pz IV.

The Czech arms industry could make 100 tanks a week.
Belgian, Dutch, French industry could make prime movers and 6 wheel trucks.
The Italians could be persuaded to adopt German designs for tanks, half tracks and trucks.
IMO you'd need about 20,000 AFV's to fully equip 6 panzer armies.


2. Standardize on a main tank - the Pz IV with long 75mm.
The Pz IV chassis would also form the base of the SPG, StuG, FLAK pz, Burgepanzer etc.

3. Invest heavily in training to produce the required panzer crews.

4. Go to war when you were ready for a titantic battle...and go with all the logistical back up required.
Railway conversion units, pipeline construction, road construction, construction battalions.

5. Aircraft were vital too - maximum use of foriegn controlled aircraft manufacturing should be made coupled with rationalisation of designs.

Basically Germany wanted to be fighting a final battle in the Moscow-Gorky area no later than late September so you need to build a supply system to get your supplies/replacements to there by then.

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Post by Jon G. » 19 Oct 2006 13:08

French industrial output was utilized to the max - I recall a figure of 88 German divisions wholly or partially equipped with captured French equipment. Most French gear was built pre-1941, of course. Not much time to put French industry on a full war footing and start churning out tanks and half-tracks in preparation for Barbarossa - especially not with skilled workers and raw materials in short supply.

I've never seen any figures suggesting that the Czechs would have been capable of building 100 tanks a week - as it was, Czech arms production had been working full time for the Germans since 1938.

What would the incentive be for standardizing the long 75 mm equipped Pz IV already by 1941? Existing designs had proved more than adequate in 1940.

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Post by Deans » 19 Oct 2006 13:51

I don't think we have adequately addressed the question of fuel. The Wehrmacht possibly lacked the fuel required to supply an additional 10 Panzer divisions, on the Eastern front, in 1941.

Guderian seem to imply that the Germans had simply to `press a button' and thousands of additional tanks would be churned out. Did they have all the necessary raw materials - high grade steel, rubber etc? They also needed adequate dies and moulds, engine & gear box capacity and skilled workers.
The Pz Mk-4 prodn only started in 1939, in small numbers. Ramping it up significantly within a year, would have been difficult.

Also, it was not just a question of producing more tanks. Panzer divisions
would have required more trucks and halftracks, for the motorised elements of the division.
Plus the addition of the 100000 extra workers needed for production would have meant the corresponding reduction of 5 ? divisions for the Army.

I feel a more modest increase of 1500 tanks (Pz-3 & 4's) may have been
possible, by the start of Barbrossa, provided the Germans had taken the necessary steps 2 years earlier.
Last edited by Deans on 19 Oct 2006 19:01, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by christopher nelson » 19 Oct 2006 14:59

It is quite true that additional resources would have been needed to increase the industrial production. However,it is quite clear that the campaign of 1940 proved that too much of the german armor was ungunned in comparision to western models. Also intelligence gained from the Finns should have also given the german military pause about and invasion of Russia with the equipment that they had on hand. There was more need for the long 50mm and long 75mm guns 0n the german tanks. Thus increased production would have helped to solve that problem. Perhaps if sythentic oil plants were constructed in Spain and Hungary the fuel problem might have been eased.

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