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 stg 44 » 27 Nov 2021 00:35

History Learner wrote:
26 Nov 2021 23:55
Presuming Hitler could not be convinced to allow AGS to go on the offensive on its own in May, then I would say launching Operation Panther in April or May is the best bet before switching over to the strategic defensive.
What are the prospects if it were just AG-South attacking while 9th army had a lock down on reserves in their zone? There was a proposal by Hitler in April to move 9th army to the center of the Kursk bulge and attack there to split the Soviet Fronts, but Zeitzler talked him out of it; GSWW series did say that was fully logistically feasible and could have been done in 8-10 days. Might not be a bad alternative attack zone once it was clear May was out for 9th army around Orel and AG-South's attack was already underway. Would be a pretty big surprise for the Soviets once they committed forces to counter AG-South.
History Learner wrote:
26 Nov 2021 23:53
stg 44 wrote:
26 Nov 2021 15:44
Zamulin says otherwise:
Taking it as face value, Zamulin states the ratio was 1.3 to 1; compare that to the July figure of 2:1 and this still, in a relative sense, massively favors the Germans by reducing the Soviet advantage in half.
That said I still think artillery was more important, but that was still pretty decent for the Soviets at least in terms of tube strength by May:
Beyond Central Front lacking a fifth of its July start position, it's important to remember that even with their large scale artillery park the Germans got the better of them in this area even in July:
The Voronezh Front, according to the 1944 Soviet General Staff Study, had 8,356 guns and mortars as of 4 July of which 1,944 were 76mm and larger divisional artillery. In contrast, the German units involved in the offensive started with 4,630 guns and mortars, of which 1,336 were 105mm or larger artillery. This gives the Soviet force a “tube count” advantage of 1.8 to 1.

Still, what is significant is not the number of tubes, but the weight of firepower. In the cases of the Germans, it is estimated that they fired a total of 51,083 tons of ammunition during the course of the battle. It is estimated that 49% by weight of the ammunition consumed was from the gun artillery. In the case of the Soviet forces of the Voronezh Front and the two reinforcing Steppe Front armies, they consumed a total of 21,867 tons of ammunition during the course of the battle. It is estimated that 36% by weight was from the gun artillery….

Overall, this means that while the Soviet forces outnumbered the Germans forces 1.8 to 1 according to tube count, they in fact were out shot according to weight of fire calculations, 2.34 to 1. This is a significant difference and certainly so, with artillery usually responsible for 50 to 70% of the killing on the battlefield. This may be a major factor in the measurable performance differences (especially casualty effectiveness) between the two armies.
So, relative to July, the German tube count is better and we know that historically they still beat the Soviets in throwing artillery down range. Given the former, I still see this exchange as being much more in favor of the Germans than historical.
However infantry were also a big problem for Model:
Model only received 2,906 new soldiers from May to July; a statistically irrelevant increase and essentially meant he jumped off in July with the same number he already had in May. Likewise, even the gain of those ~3,000 troops was offset by the massive growth in Soviets facing them, reducing Model's infantry strength from 54% compared to the Soviets in May to 47% by July. In this regard, we can thus state Model was of the same strength effectively but his advantage would come in terms of facing significantly fewer Soviet infantry, AFVs and artillery along with an incomplete defensive line.
All good points, thanks for the info.

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

Post by Cult Icon » 27 Nov 2021 02:24

There's also the statistics on German tank repair. The German service units were unusually well equipped with spare parts and repaired a uniquely large number of tanks. The Soviets and mechanical issues disabled several times more armor than the write-off figures would imply. (I don't recall the exact figure off hand). But this certainly increased the combat readiness in an abnormal sense, and there is an unknown (to me) history about how they accumulated these resources and whether it would be effected by an earlier attack date.

Besides less Tigers, Panthers, Ferdinands, there is the issue of less Panzer IV (long), I have the exact figures of this. However I think the tank issue was overrated now as it was back then. The big AFVs were in their element, very effective long range (1500 meter, 2000 meter plus )tank killers and more durable than the medium tanks . The Pz IV (long) was good against T-34. The downside of not having these heavy battalions would be just more medium tank losses. The mighty Ferdinand wasn't a silver bullet that could shoot infantry onto their objectives, it was just a very durable infantry-support weapon that was very dangerous to interfering AFVs. The Tigers were spread out in company level, the 503 Tiger battalion split into 3 breakthrough companies, each for one division in the III Panzer Korps. The two 505 Tiger companies, parceled out similarly up in the north. The two Panther battalions combined were literally just one battalion's worth due to their mechanical problems (30-odd, 40-odd operational + / - for most of the offensive)

Since the Germans were advancing and recovering their disabled tanks, and repairing them with well stocked service units than missing a couple heavy armor battalions and Pz IV long companies wouldn't make a huge difference- provided that they were well stocked already.

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

Post by Cult Icon » 27 Nov 2021 02:36

Also the aspect of training and refitting of divisions.

Up to the execution of the offensive, many of these divisions were resting, absorbing new replacements/equipment, and training. This is a time consuming process. An earlier offensive would interfere with this process, thus lowering their combat efficiency.

As Op Citadel happened, the German formations were unusually well rested, many had been rebuilding since April, and were also well equipped, especially in the South.

eg. After the victory at Kharkov, the SS divisions were rebuilding after sustaining some 11,000 casualties. The LAH, perhaps the most famous unit of the OP Citadel- had taken 5000 losses after their fight for Kharkov's plaza and also peeled off elements to create the 12. SS Panzer division. The skeletal G.D., along with the relatively fresh Panzer Regiment G.D was with them, the former having been burnt out in the Rzhev meatgrinder. The SS and G.D shared the same training area, and IIRC there was also 3.Pz with them.

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

Post by KDF33 » 27 Nov 2021 04:43

History Learner wrote:
26 Nov 2021 23:55
Presuming Hitler could not be convinced to allow AGS to go on the offensive on its own in May, then I would say launching Operation Panther in April or May is the best bet before switching over to the strategic defensive.
IMO, launching Panther in early May while abandoning the Orel salient was the way to go and would have been a better option than even launching Zitadelle early.

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

Post by History Learner » 27 Nov 2021 04:50

KDF33 wrote:
27 Nov 2021 04:43
History Learner wrote:
26 Nov 2021 23:55
Presuming Hitler could not be convinced to allow AGS to go on the offensive on its own in May, then I would say launching Operation Panther in April or May is the best bet before switching over to the strategic defensive.
IMO, launching Panther in early May while abandoning the Orel salient was the way to go and would have been a better option than even launching Zitadelle early.
Please elaborate.

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 27 Nov 2021 09:57

History Learner wrote:
27 Nov 2021 04:50
KDF33 wrote:
27 Nov 2021 04:43
History Learner wrote:
26 Nov 2021 23:55
Presuming Hitler could not be convinced to allow AGS to go on the offensive on its own in May, then I would say launching Operation Panther in April or May is the best bet before switching over to the strategic defensive.
IMO, launching Panther in early May while abandoning the Orel salient was the way to go and would have been a better option than even launching Zitadelle early.
Please elaborate.
Not exactly sure what KDF envisions but it seems wiser to do the more likely smaller encirclement than the long shot massive encirclement. Say PANTHER bags 200k Soviets and mauls the tank armies that would surely be dispatched against it. That's a hugely significant victory akin to Kharkov '42 and puts Ostheer in a better position to defend the Donbas and perhaps to take another limited bite out of RKKA in July/August.

If they can defend the Donbas and Dnipro regions then by late summer the Iwan Program is yielding significant results in artillery shell output (~13k tonnes/month by the end of 1943) and other heavy goods. Besides the sources cited in the linked Second Wiki article, this one is more recent and very good. As that source notes, Germany would have had problems fulfilling the program due to their own bad policies but definite progress was being made and more to be expected. Restoration of the Zaporizhiy power station in particular augured an increase in coal output, from which everything else would flow and which would have relieved AGS rail lines of coal-hauling burden, further improving AGS logistics. The Iwan Program focused on the Dnipro basin because the Donbas was perilously close to the front.

It's still hard to say whether holding Donbas or east of the Dniepr throughout 1943 is feasible even with a successful PANTHER. On ideal strategic terms Ostheer could afford to weaken itself and give ground in Belarus and the Baltics with little real strategic impact (the populace there was thin and/or not enthusiastic about serving in RKKA when liberated; by contrast Ukrainians were plentiful and were mostly good RKKA soldiers). Is that historically feasible given Hitler's aversion to giving ground? Probably not.
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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by Cult Icon » 27 Nov 2021 19:35

TDI- stats:

Fliegerkorps VIII (South pincer):

July 3: 78 sorties
July 4: 224 sorties (132 Stuka, 28 Bombing)
July 5: 2387 sorties (of this, 1071 Stuka, 536 Bombing, 335 Ground attack. The rest were Recon and Fighter)
July 6: 1686 sorties (of this, 793 Stuka, 323 Bombing, 240 Ground attack)
Addition of 61 Bombing sorties at night.

This pattern/approx. ratio continues for the rest of the offensive, relatively few fighter sorties.

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

Post by Cult Icon » 27 Nov 2021 19:59

To continue on Fliegerkorps VIII (South): July 5-15: 15857 sorties, of which 11641 were ground attack.

TDI Lawrence in his Kursk book estimates that the Germans dropped 10-12,000 tons of explosives with this force.

1st Flieger Division in the North flew a slightly lower number: 12823. So maybe the amount of explosives dropped was over 20,000?

In comparison, the German air force dropped 20,793 tons of bombs in the Battle of Britain August-Oct 1940. So the Kursk air support was at a similar level as this, except extremely concentrated in time and in space.

Fliegerkorps VIII and Fliegerfuhrer Krim expended 23751 sorties June 2- July 3 1942 at Sevastapol, dropping 20,529 tons of bombs.

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

Post by Cult Icon » 29 Nov 2021 02:55

History Learner wrote:
26 Nov 2021 23:53

Beyond Central Front lacking a fifth of its July start position, it's important to remember that even with their large scale artillery park the Germans got the better of them in this area even in July:
The Voronezh Front, according to the 1944 Soviet General Staff Study, had 8,356 guns and mortars as of 4 July of which 1,944 were 76mm and larger divisional artillery. In contrast, the German units involved in the offensive started with 4,630 guns and mortars, of which 1,336 were 105mm or larger artillery. This gives the Soviet force a “tube count” advantage of 1.8 to 1.

Still, what is significant is not the number of tubes, but the weight of firepower. In the cases of the Germans, it is estimated that they fired a total of 51,083 tons of ammunition during the course of the battle. It is estimated that 49% by weight of the ammunition consumed was from the gun artillery. In the case of the Soviet forces of the Voronezh Front and the two reinforcing Steppe Front armies, they consumed a total of 21,867 tons of ammunition during the course of the battle. It is estimated that 36% by weight was from the gun artillery….

Overall, this means that while the Soviet forces outnumbered the Germans forces 1.8 to 1 according to tube count, they in fact were out shot according to weight of fire calculations, 2.34 to 1. This is a significant difference and certainly so, with artillery usually responsible for 50 to 70% of the killing on the battlefield. This may be a major factor in the measurable performance differences (especially casualty effectiveness) between the two armies.
This quote is taken from TDI-Lawrence's blog. I have the abridged TDI-Kursk book, which unfortunately lacks all the information in the full-sized book. This includes the artillery ammunition data appendix. That would be interesting to see.

So 51,000 + tons of artillery ammunition and 20,000 + tons of bombs was what it took to advance through the Soviet defenses to the degree that they did.

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

Post by Cult Icon » 29 Nov 2021 03:02

The TDI stats on German tank losses is 1,536. (write-off, damaged, or broken down).

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

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 29 Nov 2021 04:09

Re soldiers from liberated territory, here's a rough attempt to quantify the impact of holding roughly the July 1, 1943 line:

Image

For the cells highlight in blue, I've reduced each nationality cohort by 20% from OTL July 1, 1943. This assumes RKKA recruits nobody from Ukraine, Belarus, Baltics, Moldovia and that casualties gradually wittle down the initial contingents. I've also assumed negligible Jewish people from liberated territories because of the Holocaust.

Some Russian soldiers came from territory liberated after Kursk, some Ukrainian soldiers from territory already liberated. I'm assuming those roughly cancel each other out.

It is striking that Russians peaked before Kursk and Ukrainians in mid '44.

Data source is Personnel of the Soviet Army by ethnicity (from A.Yu. Bezugolniy "An experience of building of the USSR's armed forces: a national aspect (1992-1945)", a doctorate thesis) as shared by Art here.
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Re: Would an earlier Kursk have made a difference? (article)

Post by KDF33 » 29 Nov 2021 07:13

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
29 Nov 2021 04:09
Re soldiers from liberated territory, here's a rough attempt to quantify the impact of holding roughly the July 1, 1943 line:
Here's my best estimate for the sources of conscripts in 1943 - 45:

Image

Note that data is for net manpower supply, that is, it excludes 1,891,200 men demobilized to industry / the security services. If one includes these 'swaps', total mobilized for 1943 - 45 amounts to 11,098,929 instead of 9,207,729.

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

Post by History Learner » 29 Nov 2021 08:40

KDF33 wrote:
29 Nov 2021 07:13
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
29 Nov 2021 04:09
Re soldiers from liberated territory, here's a rough attempt to quantify the impact of holding roughly the July 1, 1943 line:
Here's my best estimate for the sources of conscripts in 1943 - 45:

Image

Note that data is for net manpower supply, that is, it excludes 1,891,200 men demobilized to industry / the security services. If one includes these 'swaps', total mobilized for 1943 - 45 amounts to 11,098,929 instead of 9,207,729.
If I'm doing the math right, 2,601,815 is the total inductions in 1943 minus the comb outs and the RSFSR's new intake of Q4 '43/Q1 '44. Any idea how much the latter two are solely for their 1943 phase? For comparison, historical irrecoverable loss rates for the Soviets in 1943 was 3,698,697.

Also, on a personal note, would you care to post your sources for this? It would definitely be useful for future debates haha.

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

Post by KDF33 » 29 Nov 2021 22:59

History Learner wrote:
29 Nov 2021 08:40
If I'm doing the math right, 2,601,815 is the total inductions in 1943 minus the comb outs and the RSFSR's new intake of Q4 '43/Q1 '44.
There were also about a million conscripts from non-RSFSR recovered territories in 1943. Otherwise, yes, your math is correct.
History Learner wrote:
29 Nov 2021 08:40
Any idea how much the latter two are solely for their 1943 phase?
Class of 1926 (call-up began November 1943): 641,532 men in 1943
Combing outs (RSFSR): No data
History Learner wrote:
29 Nov 2021 08:40
For comparison, historical irrecoverable loss rates for the Soviets in 1943 was 3,698,697.
Red Army and Navy began the year with 11,394,375 personnel and ended with 12,377,800 (gain of 983,425).

For 1944, it went from 12,377,800 to 12,527,121 (gain of 149,321).
History Learner wrote:
29 Nov 2021 08:40
Also, on a personal note, would you care to post your sources for this? It would definitely be useful for future debates haha.
I've reworked my table - there were some erroneous assumptions in it that I've corrected. I'll probably repost it tonight, this time with all the sources.

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

Post by KDF33 » 29 Nov 2021 23:47

History Learner wrote:
29 Nov 2021 08:40
Also, on a personal note, would you care to post your sources for this? It would definitely be useful for future debates haha.
Here's the corrected table:

Image

I built it using various sources.

To start with, this page provides Soviet archival data for yearly mobilization. It shows:

1943: 5,901,436 conscripts, of whom 4,046,803 from the RSFSR
1944: 4,646,250 conscripts, of whom 1,890,967 from the RSFSR
1945 (January - April): 551,243 conscripts, of whom 288,830 from the RSFSR

Total: 11,098,929 conscripts, of whom 6,226,600 from the RSFSR

This leaves 4,872,329 from outside the RSFSR. We know from Schadenko's report that on 1/1/1943, 1,027,140 men were available for frontline and rear duty in the Central Asian and Caucasus republics. Assuming all were conscripted, this leaves 3,845,189 for the non-RSFSR liberated territories.

Vast RSFSR territories were also liberated in 1943/44, however. To arrive at an estimate for these, let's look at the percent of the pre-war population that was conscripted in the liberated territory of the 6 western republics:

3,845,189 / 57,698,000 = 6.66%

In late 1942, Germany occupied territories with a pre-war population of 79,972,000. This means that RSFSR territories with a pre-war population of 22,274,000 were occupied at the time.

Let's assume the same ratio held for conscription within those liberated territories:

22,274,000 x 0.0666 = 1,484,414

We can now rank four of the five sources of conscripts for the second half of the war:

1. Recovered territories, other republics: 3,845,189
2. 1925 - 1927 age classes, RSFSR: 2,188,420
3. Recovered territories, RSFSR: 1,484,414
4. Central Asia / Caucasus republics: 1,027,140

For a total of 8,545,163 conscripts. The balance, 2,553,766 men, would have been conscripted by combing out the RSFSR.

***

Let's test our balance sheet against Soviet archival data:

1. Combing outs, RSFSR: 2,553,766
2. Central Asia / Caucasus republics: 1,027,140

Total: 3,580,906

Which can be compared to 3,557,751 men still available (excluding 1925 - 1927 age classes) on 1/1/1943 according to Schadenko, a 99.4% match.

***

This means that over 1/1/1943 - 5/1/1945, about 5,329,603 men were conscripted from liberated territories and 5,769,326 from territories held on 1/1/1943. But then 1,891,200 men were also demobilized to work in industry / staff the NKVD over the same period, so the net manpower additions amounted to:

1. Recovered territories: 5,329,603
2. Territories held on 1/1/1943: 3,878,126

For a total of 9,207,729 net conscripts, of whom 58% came from the liberated areas.

Of the new age classes conscripted within the RSFSR, the periods of mobilization were:

1925: January - March 1943
1926: November 1943 - January 1944
1927: November 1944 - January 1945

The class of 1927 was only partially called-up, with (presumably) men in reserved occupations never getting their mobilization papers.

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