Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

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Kingfish
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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by Kingfish » 29 Nov 2012 13:45

KDF33 wrote:Why is an offensive northwards any different? Well, have a look at this map. By going North, the Germans can greatly reduce HG "Mitte's" frontline by closing the Demyansk - Rzhev salient, which incidentally would probably result in a higher count of Soviet irrecoverable losses since it was the ideal target for a great encirclement. They can then drive northward in the direction of the Finns and Lake Onega (not shown on the map, but roughly where it ends), thus even more shortening the line, this time in HG "Nord's" sector. Again, this second phase would inflict large casualties on the Soviets - there is no reason to believe, in fact, that it couldn't inflict losses on the level of the opening phase of Blau.

After that, Leningrad Front is completely cut off, about 100 kilometers behind the frontline, and can thus be finished off at will, adding another half-million irrecoverable Soviet losses. So, what's the final tally of this offensive? Maybe 1.5 million irrecoverable Soviet losses, more if you add the DoW and disabled, inflicted much faster than the 6 months it took to inflict 1 million irrecoverable losses in the original Blau. A front shorter of hundreds of kilometers. The possibility to accumulate reserves for further offensive action and/or for a successful defense against a Soviet winter counter-offensive. Overall, a weaker Red Army and a stronger Östheer.
Whoa there skippy, the way you lay out this new attack it sounds as though the Germans are blitzing the Leopard IIs and the Russians are all cardboard cutouts.

Lets compare the two attacks, one historical and the other proposed, because I believe there are several factors that would prevent a northern strike from achieving the same results as Fall Blau.

First, Fall Blau benefited greatly from the victory gained against the abortive Russian Izyum offensive. While total Russian losses vary, the general consensus is ~250K. That was a major blow to the Russian's chances of stopping, or at least delaying the subsequent German attack. An attack in the north would not have such benefit, although I would agree a pincher movement against the Rzhev salient could produce the same initial result.

The second, and in my view more important factor, deals with terrain and topography. The southern Ukraine is steppe country, pure and simple. There are very few places in the world that rival this area in terms of suitability for mechanized warfare, and the Germans took full advantage of it. In contrast, a northern strike would take the German spearheads deep into a vast expanse of pine forest cross-crossed with numerous rivers and lakes. This would invariably slow down the advance and force the Germans into a steady battle of attrition, the very thing they were trying to avoid.

In addition, Fall Blau also benefited from the topography of the proposed AoO. The Don River served as a flank safeguard while the advance drove deep into the Caucasus. While not an impenetrable barrier by any means, it allowed the Axis forces to cover more ground with less density than in otherwise open terrain. That itself allowed the advance to drive deeper with greater strength. On the other hand, A quick check of the proposed northern route shows no natural topographical feature for which the Germans could anchor the flank. Yes, the forested terrain would serve both Russian and German defense equally well, but the burden is on the Germans to strike fast and deep in order to achieve their goals. All the Russians have to do here is defend and grind down the opposition.

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by Kingfish » 29 Nov 2012 14:20

Jenisch wrote:Perhaphs more relevant would be the entering of the Italian fleet in the Black Sea, which some claimed it was possible. Also, the Kriegsmarine would be able to operate against the Russians.
It was complete fantasy when it was claimed back then, and still is now. The Italian fleet could barely operate beyond the confines of the central Med due to a severe shortage of fuel. There is also the little matter of the Royal Navy in Alexandria. Oh, and lets not forget the Turks. You know, the owners of the Bosphorus, a.k.a. the gateway into the black sea.

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by KDF33 » 29 Nov 2012 15:19

Lets compare the two attacks
Ok.
First, Fall Blau benefited greatly from the victory gained against the abortive Russian Izyum offensive. While total Russian losses vary, the general consensus is ~250K. That was a major blow to the Russian's chances of stopping, or at least delaying the subsequent German attack.
The Soviets had roughly one month to make good their losses at Kharkov. In any event, by July 1, the forces facing Blau (Bryansk, SW and Southern Fronts) held 31.1% of the total Soviet frontal manpower strength, while those holding the line in the North (7th separate army, Leningrad, Volkhov, NW Fronts) held only 23.8%. Throw in the Kalinin Front and it might even the total, although some of these forces (in particular, the entirety of 7th separate army and a chunk of the Leningrad Front) were facing the Finns.
An attack in the north would not have such benefit, although I would agree a pincher movement against the Rzhev salient could produce the same initial result.
Well, IMO the destruction of the Kalinin Front would have a pretty big - and negative - effect on the viability of the Soviet position along the northern axis.
The second, and in my view more important factor, deals with terrain and topography. The southern Ukraine is steppe country, pure and simple. There are very few places in the world that rival this area in terms of suitability for mechanized warfare, and the Germans took full advantage of it. In contrast, a northern strike would take the German spearheads deep into a vast expanse of pine forest cross-crossed with numerous rivers and lakes. This would invariably slow down the advance and force the Germans into a steady battle of attrition, the very thing they were trying to avoid.
The Germans succeeded in advancing in this terrain in the autumn of 1941, and the Soviets made rapid progress during the same winter. In early 1944, the Soviets also succeeded in making rapid mechanized advance in this terrain when they relieved Leningrad. I obviously concede that the southern steppe offered, all else being equal, better terrain for offensive action, but I don't see the northern direction as excluding offensive action or dooming the Germans to a costly, and presumably static, "battle of attrition".

Moreover, the terrain is not equally forested everywhere. Here is a map showing the topography. Here is another showing Soviet railways in 1941. As you can see, it is the least heavily forested along the Northern banks of the Volga river. There is even a land bridge further north, west of the Rybinsk Reservoir. This offers the possibility of cutting the main Soviet railroads by capturing the Kalinin-Bologoye-Bezhetsk triangle. If the Germans can do that, the Soviets are down to 1 single-track railroad, Tikhvin-Vologda, to supply the 7th separate army and the Leningrad, Volkhov and NW Fronts. The Soviets can then either try to defend their fixed positions under unfavorable logistical conditions, or evacuate their forces from the area.
On the other hand, A quick check of the proposed northern route shows no natural topographical feature for which the Germans could anchor the flank.
It does, in fact, offer a very obvious defensive line, one running alongside the northern Volga up to the Rybinsk reservoir, and anchored by a main railhead at Kalinin and a secondary one at Bezhetsk. The line then starts again north of the reservoir, anchored along the Tikhvin-Vologda railway. There is no railway north of that, and the terrain is both forested and swampy, and can thus be relatively lightly defended, much like the eastern Caucasus steppe in fact.

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by Marcelo Jenisch » 29 Nov 2012 16:30

Kingfish, so the Germans were fated to total defeat or they had a chance to have a stalamate?

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by Kingfish » 29 Nov 2012 17:19

KDF33 wrote:The Soviets had roughly one month to make good their losses at Kharkov. In any event, by July 1, the forces facing Blau (Bryansk, SW and Southern Fronts) held 31.1% of the total Soviet frontal manpower strength, while those holding the line in the North (7th separate army, Leningrad, Volkhov, NW Fronts) held only 23.8%. Throw in the Kalinin Front and it might even the total, although some of these forces (in particular, the entirety of 7th separate army and a chunk of the Leningrad Front) were facing the Finns.
Basically a wash, although it makes sense to deploy a greater share to cover the terrain most favorable to your enemy.
Well, IMO the destruction of the Kalinin Front would have a pretty big - and negative - effect on the viability of the Soviet position along the northern axis.
Agree, just like the defeat at Izyum did to that sector of the front
The Germans succeeded in advancing in this terrain in the autumn of 1941, and the Soviets made rapid progress during the same winter. In early 1944, the Soviets also succeeded in making rapid mechanized advance in this terrain when they relieved Leningrad. I obviously concede that the southern steppe offered, all else being equal, better terrain for offensive action, but I don't see the northern direction as excluding offensive action or dooming the Germans to a costly, and presumably static, "battle of attrition".
I'm not suggesting the offensive would develop into a second Verdun, but the whole point here is a speedy advance to bag large number of Russians at relatively light cost. The terrain simply does not lend itself to it.
Moreover, the terrain is not equally forested everywhere. Here is a map showing the topography. Here is another showing Soviet railways in 1941.
I'm not sure the topo map helps any, since it obviously is drawn a good 70 years after the time period we are discussing. I'm sure a topo of Canada (I'm assuming you hail from there) circa 1942 is radically different from what we have today.
As you can see, it is the least heavily forested along the Northern banks of the Volga river. There is even a land bridge further north, west of the Rybinsk Reservoir. This offers the possibility of cutting the main Soviet railroads by capturing the Kalinin-Bologoye-Bezhetsk triangle. If the Germans can do that, the Soviets are down to 1 single-track railroad, Tikhvin-Vologda, to supply the 7th separate army and the Leningrad, Volkhov and NW Fronts. The Soviets can then either try to defend their fixed positions under unfavorable logistical conditions, or evacuate their forces from the area.
Again, aren't we talking about Fall Blau in another direction? If the Germans were able to push eastward and capture Stalingrad quickly the forces in the Caucasus would be down to 1 single-track railroad hugging the shore of the Caspian.
I'm just not seeing a radical difference between the two plans. If anything, Fall Blau has the edge by virtue of the terrain.

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by Kingfish » 29 Nov 2012 17:34

Jenisch wrote:Kingfish, so the Germans were fated to total defeat or they had a chance to have a stalamate?
A stalemate is a defeat in this case.
The Germans went into Russia to defeat them, not to advance to a certain point and then dig trenches

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by Marcelo Jenisch » 29 Nov 2012 17:55

Kingfish wrote:
Jenisch wrote:Kingfish, so the Germans were fated to total defeat or they had a chance to have a stalamate?
A stalemate is a defeat in this case.
The Germans went into Russia to defeat them, not to advance to a certain point and then dig trenches
So, do you think that a "defeat" by stalamate would be realistic?

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by 1st Cavalry » 29 Nov 2012 17:58

Sorry if i had missed something in the discussion but what is there to gain up north ?

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by 1st Cavalry » 29 Nov 2012 18:02

Personally i think if the soviets fighting alone could retake Belarus and Ukraine (1939 border ) it is a victory .

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by Kingfish » 29 Nov 2012 18:03

The stalemate would be a temporary condition. Eventually what you would end up with is a situation where, as Bock said "the last battalion will decide the issue".

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by Marcelo Jenisch » 29 Nov 2012 20:57

Kingfish wrote:The stalemate would be a temporary condition. Eventually what you would end up with is a situation where, as Bock said "the last battalion will decide the issue".
Yeah. Numbers carry the day. More precisely: effective "usage" of them. And apparentely the Soviets were capable of that.

Something about the quality of the Soviet domestic aircraft:

http://postimage.org/image/iav6sgmwn/

In actual fact, the La-5FN's top speed was equal or higher than most 109s and 190s at low and medium altitude, while the La-7 was faster at low latitude.

Anyway, what most people fail to realize is that the Axis themselfs recognized their hopeless situation in attrition warfare. Nobody in Tokyo or Berlin belived that they would keep smashing millions and millions of Allied troops until they drain them out of manpower. The Germans recognized the Soviet numerical superiority, but belived they could prevent it's effective deployment. It's in the text I posted recently.

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by 1st Cavalry » 29 Nov 2012 21:11

BDV wrote: "Bat saua sa priceapa iapa"
8-) , frankly i would have prefered a ostfront without romanians .

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by Marcelo Jenisch » 29 Nov 2012 21:14

1st Cavalry wrote:
BDV wrote: "Bat saua sa priceapa iapa"
8-) , frankly i would have prefered a ostfront without romanians .
http://www.gophoto.it/view.php?i=http:/ ... LfBwqyZmMw

At least you did have a nice fighter, Cavalary. :lol:

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by Kingfish » 29 Nov 2012 21:25

From my limited reading I came away with the impression the mountain divisions, especially the 2nd, performed well.

There used to be a website that was similar to Commando Supremo, but devoted exclusively to the Romanian army.
Does anyone know of it and can provide a link?

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Re: Luftwaffe only has to fight the VVS

Post by LWD » 29 Nov 2012 22:10

Kingfish wrote:The stalemate would be a temporary condition. Eventually what you would end up with is a situation where, as Bock said "the last battalion will decide the issue".
Or possibly by the collapse of one or both governements.

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