How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
User avatar
Dark Age
Member
Posts: 70
Joined: 03 Jul 2012 22:18

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by Dark Age » 28 Sep 2017 16:12

NBrotz wrote: For tactical options, the Germans can either try to envelope Moscow (via Kalinin and Tula like they did in Typhoon) or launch a frontal assault via Rzhev. Either way, they'd be foolish not to eliminate the salients in front of Moscow and straighten the line first, namely in clearing the Soviet salients between Demanysk and Rzhev, and Vyazma and Orel. Unfortunately, there might not be enough time and resources to straighten the line along the Moscow front before winter. It would also be an extreme danger to try to strike Moscow via Rzhev without clearing the flanks first, but they might try. A diversionary attack somewhere else along the front may improve its odds of success, but it's still iffy.

If they do clear the flanks, the trick here is a delicate balancing act between biting too much and biting too little, the build-up between offensives, and the time lapse between them. If the Germans attempt a Kursk-style encirclement, there is a high probability that the Germans will burn themselves out. On the other hand, if the Germans humble themselves to clearing the salient between Olenino and Bely (like they did in Seydlitz OTL), as well as Demanysk and Kholm, the Soviets will heavily reinforce the shoulders of the bulge between Demanysk and Rzhev. A modest offensive between Kholm and Bely might still carry the day, but admittedly, I'm not taking into account the terrain here to appropriately judge where the Germans should make their attack. Also, perhaps the Germans decide to leave the bulge between Vyazma and Orel alone.

The unfortunate reality is, the Germans might spend the entire summer undertaking 'snail offensives' biting into the Soviet front line like something out of WWI, for heavy losses and little gain. Maybe I'm underestimating the relative strength of the Germans versus the Soviets at this stage in the war, but it seems to me that attacking right into the heart of the USSR's defenses is likely to fail badly.

Konig_pilsner wrote:Back to the original question instead of arguing about the same old crap...

The biggest obstacle to attacking Moscow is time. There would be certain prerequisites to the offensive that would eat up a good portion of the campaign season, and to avoid attrition a wider pincer would probably be implemented. That creates a longer front which requires a larger force with greater supply constraints. It is doubtful a secondary attack could be simultaneously be attempted in the south, which leads to AGS being hammered throughout the campaign.

In more detail:

1. The bulge west of Rzhev to Demyansk would have to be eliminated first. The northern pincer could then attack towards Bologne and on to Kalinin.

2. The Southern Pincer would likely originate from Orel, head east to cut off the rail line that runs from Moscow to Karkov, and then head north bypassing Tula.

3. The center would still have to push towards Moscow to keep the pressure off the flanks.

The biggest problem would be supply, as the infrastructure west of Moscow would have to be rebuilt and the German transport fleet is still recovering from the 1941 losses. This will lead to frequent pauses which allow the Red Army to regroup.

Success (as always), would depend more on what the Russians do then the German. If they hold ground and commit to fruitless counter attacks they could find themselves in a difficult position. Similarly, if initial German progress leads to overconfidence and a departure to a more grandiose plan, it will make the defense of Moscow that much easier.

KP
Question: How could the Germans still win and annihilate the Russian armies in the Second Battle of Kharkov (May 1942) in this What If? I believe the principal reason for the Red Army's defeat in that battle is that they chose to attack in the south which was the same sector the Germans were planning to launch the Case Blue offensive toward the Caucasus/Stalingrad. The area was therefore heavily reinforced by the German Army. In this alternate timeline, the Germans would have to build up forces in the North and Center to eliminate the salient West of Rzhev (if this is truly necessary) and the Wehrmacht in Southern Russia would be deprived of essential forces, especially Tanks and Aircraft, to counterattack at Kharkov. The additional forces of the Red Army in the South would have to be accounted for if a Second attack on Moscow is launched.

User avatar
BDV
Financial supporter
Posts: 3704
Joined: 10 Apr 2009 16:11

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by BDV » 28 Sep 2017 16:59

An attack in South is also needed to eliminate the Izyum salient, and to occupy the Donbass industrial basin.

It would also be most reasonable choice for area of early battle on account of Bustard Hunt and the storming of Sevastopol immediately South (meaning Luftwaffe assets and artillery support assets could be shifted quickly from one area to next).
Nobody expects the Fallschirm! Our chief weapon is surprise; surprise and fear; fear and surprise. Our 2 weapons are fear and surprise; and ruthless efficiency. Our *3* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency; and almost fanatical devotion

User avatar
Dark Age
Member
Posts: 70
Joined: 03 Jul 2012 22:18

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by Dark Age » 30 Sep 2017 00:41

BDV wrote:An attack in South is also needed to eliminate the Izyum salient, and to occupy the Donbass industrial basin.
I understand destroying the Izyum salient but why was occupying the Donbass Industrial Basin so important (the Red Army withdrew from it after all to avoid encirclement)? In fact, I don't see this obsession ( by the Germans in 1942 and the people on this forum) with Germany attacking in Southern Russia to acquire more resources, as these resources would take too long to exploit, wouldn't deprive the Soviets that much and most, like the oil, was simply too far. Kiev in 1941 made sense cause of the mass encirclement and flank protection of Army Group Center but not Case Blue as its objectives were too far.

I feel it would simply be better for the Germans to win the Second Battle of Kharkov (destroying the Izyum salient) then deploy forces north to annihilate the Red Army in the salient threatening Rzhev. Annihilation battles of encirclement are better than Germany going on some resource hunting safari.

User avatar
BDV
Financial supporter
Posts: 3704
Joined: 10 Apr 2009 16:11

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by BDV » 01 Oct 2017 14:32

Fair points.

The only thing is that historically Germans would not know about the Sovjet deployment in the Izyum area (in of itself a major failure which should have raised huge red flags).

Absent the historical blunder that cost Soviets a large number of troops, and left them with no recourse but to withdraw, the attack on Donbass would force the RKKA to stand its ground and fight, with depriving the Sovjet economy of the Donbass coal as a bonus. Also, historically RKKA sits very pretty with a major double track runnning North - South right behind its lines, a definite source of headaches.

Still, your point stands, because then the Donbass would have to be secured against attacks, etc, while historically, the Axis had reached (by force of events if not by wisdom of planning) a reasonably defendable line in South-East Ukraine.
Nobody expects the Fallschirm! Our chief weapon is surprise; surprise and fear; fear and surprise. Our 2 weapons are fear and surprise; and ruthless efficiency. Our *3* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency; and almost fanatical devotion

User avatar
Dark Age
Member
Posts: 70
Joined: 03 Jul 2012 22:18

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by Dark Age » 01 Oct 2017 16:19

Two bonuses of attacking in Southern Russia are that the Soviet forces there were weakest (after Kharkov) and the Red Army least expected it (the Germans were probably unaware of both though). The two downsides (also unknown to the Germans due to over-confidence) are that the offensive would stretch the frontline too far and the Red Army would withdraw from the area to avoid encirclement and stretch German forces thin.

With a 1942 attack on Moscow (preceded by a pincer attack West of Rzhev) , I don't see the Red Army withdrawing. It would be forced to fight as the area was too important. It was also, however, where the Soviets most expected an attack and were at their greatest strength. This is both a bonus and a downside.

My issues are:

1: Could the Germans win the Battle of Rzhev and envelop the Soviet Units in the area or would it turn into a Kursk a year earlier? By late June 1942 the Red Army would have occupied the salient longer than they did at Kursk in 1943. I'm unaware of the number of Russian troops in the salient itself but I'm aware the Red Army had the most troops in the center in general.

2: Would,and could, the Russians withdraw from the salient West of Rzhev when facing a German attack as they did historically in the Donbass in 1942. The salient position was ridiculously exposed unlike in Southern Russia (June 1942) where the frontline was generally straight and the Germans would have to force an encirclement after a frontal attack. Russian forces withdrawing outside Rzhev to escape a German envelopment therefore seems unlikely.

Hitler's strategy on the Eastern Front in 1941 seems in large contrast to his strategy in 1942. In 1941 his strategy was far more balanced with a broad advance on all fronts (like Eisenhower in Western Europe 1944). In 1942 his strategy was more Montgomery-like with all force concentration against the South with the inevitable disaster that followed at, and after, Stalingrad.

The strategy in 1941 just seems more logical. I can't see why continuing it in 1942 wouldnt have produced better results than the overly ambitious Case Blue. Three quick, clean strikes to the face are more effective than one massive, knockout blow haymaker.

jesk
Banned
Posts: 1973
Joined: 04 Aug 2017 08:19
Location: Belarus

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by jesk » 01 Oct 2017 19:10

Dark Age wrote:Two bonuses of attacking in Southern Russia are that the Soviet forces there were weakest (after Kharkov) and the Red Army least expected it (the Germans were probably unaware of both though). The two downsides (also unknown to the Germans due to over-confidence) are that the offensive would stretch the frontline too far and the Red Army would withdraw from the area to avoid encirclement and stretch German forces thin.
Everywhere the Soviet troops were weak. Look at the number of prisoners in the first year of the war (about 5 million). The problems of the Germans should be sought in their mistakes. In Halder's diary for July 1942 the art of Hitler is detailed.
With a 1942 attack on Moscow (preceded by a pincer attack West of Rzhev) , I don't see the Red Army withdrawing. It would be forced to fight as the area was too important. It was also, however, where the Soviets most expected an attack and were at their greatest strength. This is both a bonus and a downside.
The preservation of troops is more important. Under the threat of encirclement, would have to retreat, so as not to increase the number of prisoners. 8-)

Konig_pilsner
Member
Posts: 287
Joined: 19 Dec 2003 07:34
Location: Hamilton, Canada

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by Konig_pilsner » 04 Oct 2017 16:22

Question: How could the Germans still win and annihilate the Russian armies in the Second Battle of Kharkov (May 1942) in this What If? I believe the principal reason for the Red Army's defeat in that battle is that they chose to attack in the south which was the same sector the Germans were planning to launch the Case Blue offensive toward the Caucasus/Stalingrad. The area was therefore heavily reinforced by the German Army. In this alternate timeline, the Germans would have to build up forces in the North and Center to eliminate the salient West of Rzhev (if this is truly necessary) and the Wehrmacht in Southern Russia would be deprived of essential forces, especially Tanks and Aircraft, to counterattack at Kharkov. The additional forces of the Red Army in the South would have to be accounted for if a Second attack on Moscow is launched.
The ground forces for FRIDERICUS came from the 6th and 17th Armies which were already there. VIII Air Corps came from the Crimea following its participation in the Battle of the Kerch Peninsula. The build-up for Blau didn't participate in the battle and remained camouflaged North-west of Karkov. Having such strong reserves in the area might have made the German command more confident in the risk it undertook, but the destruction of the Russian salient was accomplished without any help.

xsli
Member
Posts: 39
Joined: 20 Jun 2017 20:16
Location: US

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by xsli » 06 Jan 2018 04:44

To me, attacking in Moscow direction is the worst choice Germans can make because the numbers are there, also because the situation is quite different from the first few months of Barbarossa that to cut off and annihilate is very difficult.

The Germans only started to recover (more replacements than losses) in April after bleeding for months. Yet the recovery/buildup is small-scale throughout July. The Russians, despite heavy losses after mindless attack (3.4 millions in the first half of the year), maintain ~9 million strength throughout the year. The only chance for the Germans to make headways is to attack the weak area - which is the south.

Logistically, it is favorable for the Russians due to overall proximity of its munition production (some may relocated a bit far to the Urals). Germans need to move most supplies from their homeland. The red army soldiers may be inexperienced but some officers did gain valuable lessons from the previous year. My impression is some high-ranking commanders are quick learners and led better. Unlike the red army in 1941, the mid-1942 red army is way more coherent and definitely fight better - especially in defense - which demands less skills/resources than offense. The failure of 2nd Kharkov and several spring offensives exemplifies the red army is not yet up to the task of staging large scale offensive due to lack of experience, as well as the logistic support (fewer vehicles, and the fact the breakthroughs are usually in area with bad roads). They would perform significantly better in defense due to fieldwork, improved weaponry, smoother logistics.

For the Germans, the panzers were weaker in June 1942 than in June 1941, troops probably would receive much less replacements than the Russians once attack started. With a concentration of Russians in front of Moscow, it is very hard to imagine the Germans can make good gains.

From the Russian angle, they should lay low and wait for the Germans to attack their strong defenses. And a German attacking Moscow (or trying to encirlce Moscow) would have fallen to the exact trap.

jesk
Banned
Posts: 1973
Joined: 04 Aug 2017 08:19
Location: Belarus

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by jesk » 06 Jan 2018 08:37

xsli wrote:To me, attacking in Moscow direction is the worst choice Germans can make because the numbers are there, also because the situation is quite different from the first few months of Barbarossa that to cut off and annihilate is very difficult.

The Germans only started to recover (more replacements than losses) in April after bleeding for months. Yet the recovery/buildup is small-scale throughout July. The Russians, despite heavy losses after mindless attack (3.4 millions in the first half of the year), maintain ~9 million strength throughout the year. The only chance for the Germans to make headways is to attack the weak area - which is the south.

Logistically, it is favorable for the Russians due to overall proximity of its munition production (some may relocated a bit far to the Urals). Germans need to move most supplies from their homeland. The red army soldiers may be inexperienced but some officers did gain valuable lessons from the previous year. My impression is some high-ranking commanders are quick learners and led better. Unlike the red army in 1941, the mid-1942 red army is way more coherent and definitely fight better - especially in defense - which demands less skills/resources than offense. The failure of 2nd Kharkov and several spring offensives exemplifies the red army is not yet up to the task of staging large scale offensive due to lack of experience, as well as the logistic support (fewer vehicles, and the fact the breakthroughs are usually in area with bad roads). They would perform significantly better in defense due to fieldwork, improved weaponry, smoother logistics.

For the Germans, the panzers were weaker in June 1942 than in June 1941, troops probably would receive much less replacements than the Russians once attack started. With a concentration of Russians in front of Moscow, it is very hard to imagine the Germans can make good gains.

From the Russian angle, they should lay low and wait for the Germans to attack their strong defenses. And a German attacking Moscow (or trying to encirlce Moscow) would have fallen to the exact trap.
In May Army Group "South" took 392,000 prisoners, in June 52,000, in July 400,000, in August 180,000.

https://web.archive.org/web/20151010061 ... h_aok.html

And this despite the fact that Hitler made dozens of erroneous decisions. For example, the 4th Panzer Army could reach Stalingrad much faster than Paulus' 6th Army. Hitler turned the army of Goth to the Don, the Russians got more time to deploy reserves. 11 army did not take part in the offensive on the Caucasus, to displeasure of the German generals.
Generalize my opinion: the Russians could not fight. It was a war in the colonies, as in 1946 the Dutch landed in Indonesia and occupied it, because the white people.

Image

xsli
Member
Posts: 39
Joined: 20 Jun 2017 20:16
Location: US

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by xsli » 06 Jan 2018 12:23

The much of May captures are from 2nd Kharkov, illy-planned and illy-executed Russian offensive. Given the strength/resources of the Germans, waiting for attack is a very good strategy.

However, if Germans wanted to go offensive, then South is the sensible direction. Case blue put Stalin in total shock and achieved significant results in the initial attacks due to surprise and weak defense.

Attacking in center would have been a completely different situation, Russians is prepared with multi-line defenses, as well large reserves to contest the German breakthrough.
jesk wrote: In May Army Group "South" took 392,000 prisoners, in June 52,000, in July 400,000, in August 180,000.

https://web.archive.org/web/20151010061 ... h_aok.html

And this despite the fact that Hitler made dozens of erroneous decisions. For example, the 4th Panzer Army could reach Stalingrad much faster than Paulus' 6th Army. Hitler turned the army of Goth to the Don, the Russians got more time to deploy reserves. 11 army did not take part in the offensive on the Caucasus, to displeasure of the German generals.
Generalize my opinion: the Russians could not fight. It was a war in the colonies, as in 1946 the Dutch landed in Indonesia and occupied it, because the white people.

Image

User avatar
BDV
Financial supporter
Posts: 3704
Joined: 10 Apr 2009 16:11

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by BDV » 06 Jan 2018 15:28

I would take exception with South being sensible on two accounts:

1. There was no logistical support adequate for such deep strike (no oil, trucks, or fleet of DC3 equivalents, no million men rail-armee marching behind the panzers, no mastery of the Black Sea waves).

2. It allowed RKKA in exposed positions both at Toropets and Leningrad, but also in other minor locations (Sukhinichi) to survive to fight another day.
Nobody expects the Fallschirm! Our chief weapon is surprise; surprise and fear; fear and surprise. Our 2 weapons are fear and surprise; and ruthless efficiency. Our *3* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency; and almost fanatical devotion

jesk
Banned
Posts: 1973
Joined: 04 Aug 2017 08:19
Location: Belarus

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by jesk » 06 Jan 2018 18:55

xsli wrote:The much of May captures are from 2nd Kharkov, illy-planned and illy-executed Russian offensive. Given the strength/resources of the Germans, waiting for attack is a very good strategy.

However, if Germans wanted to go offensive, then South is the sensible direction. Case blue put Stalin in total shock and achieved significant results in the initial attacks due to surprise and weak defense.

Attacking in center would have been a completely different situation, Russians is prepared with multi-line defenses, as well large reserves to contest the German breakthrough.
Maybe it was worth repeating the offensive by all the troops? In September 1941, 989 thousand prisoners, in October 1037 th. In 1942 is relatively small.

Image

jesk
Banned
Posts: 1973
Joined: 04 Aug 2017 08:19
Location: Belarus

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by jesk » 06 Jan 2018 18:58

BDV wrote:I would take exception with South being sensible on two accounts:

1. There was no logistical support adequate for such deep strike (no oil, trucks, or fleet of DC3 equivalents, no million men rail-armee marching behind the panzers, no mastery of the Black Sea waves).

2. It allowed RKKA in exposed positions both at Toropets and Leningrad, but also in other minor locations (Sukhinichi) to survive to fight another day.
2 months near Smolensk, the Russians were preparing a defense. And for 5 days, 3 fronts Western, Bryansk, Reserve were destroyed. In 1942 it was possible and needed to be repeated.

jesk
Banned
Posts: 1973
Joined: 04 Aug 2017 08:19
Location: Belarus

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by jesk » 07 Jan 2018 08:42

It is main principle of strategy - to strike blow in the direction where most of all troops of the opponent. The more enemy force, the victory is louder!

User avatar
BDV
Financial supporter
Posts: 3704
Joined: 10 Apr 2009 16:11

Re: How bloody would a Moscow attack in 1942 have been?

Post by BDV » 08 Jan 2018 00:31

jesk wrote:2 months near Smolensk, the Russians were preparing a defense. And for 5 days, 3 fronts Western, Bryansk, Reserve were destroyed. In 1942 it was possible and needed to be repeated.
They did have "Bustard Hunt".

Axis can do Bustard Hunt x 4, imo.

Provlem is if the needed achievement is Bustard Hunt x 10.
Nobody expects the Fallschirm! Our chief weapon is surprise; surprise and fear; fear and surprise. Our 2 weapons are fear and surprise; and ruthless efficiency. Our *3* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency; and almost fanatical devotion

Return to “What if”