HistoryGeek2021 wrote:The situation in early July looks something like this:
Or like this for July and August. I don't think we differ fundamentally here, especially given the uncertainty in this kind of "prognostication."
Note that prewar Soviet planning expected the main German thrust to come in Ukraine - thus SWF being the strongest and the reserve armies grouping (16,19, 21 with strong mechanized corps) being concentrated around Kiev. That's why I think Stavka responds by committing most or all of these forces to the Galicia battle and I could see some of these being trapped in the Galicia pocket. The Germans will, after all, have committed their strongest forces in Ukraine as foreseen.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:That would leave Army Group North as the weak part of the German offensive.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:in this ATL Army Group North is still too weak on its own and requires Army Group Center to pause its advance on Moscow to help Army Group North.
IMJ you're not considering the front-wide, strategic implications of the massive ATL Kessels in Ukraine (not just one kessel there). These additional losses prevent RKKA being as strong as OTL versus AGN. By August, RKKA is ~30% weaker.
If you look at my early August front line in the "Stage 3" map, AGN's front is as far east as anyone else's. AGN didn't really need any help until OTL latter August when its advance started to stall around the Luga line. Here, RKKA doesn't have the strength to reinforce the L'grad axis as strongly as OTL, meaning PzGr4 can probably lunge to Schlusselberg in early August without help from AGC. Then it waits for the ID's to catch up and lunges for the Svir. The Finns will also face weaker resistance so can meet up with AGN no later than early September. Events will have outrun the need for Hitler's flank diversions, leaving AGC free to do Taifun in August.
On AGC's right flank, AGS's "Gornostaipol option
" clears 2nd Army's opposition, enabling it move up to something like its OTL October line. Combined with the AGS mechanized units that went the Gornostaipol route, it can do the Bryansk portion of Taifun in August as well.
This sequence of moves achieves simultaneous clearing of AGC's flank and reinforcement of AGC for the Moscow drive. So unlike OTL, the Gornostaipol option will work with Halder's preferred approach rather than against it.
With that setup, Moscow falls during September and Gorkiy in October. AGS reaches the Don between Voronezh and Rostov no later than November. AGN, after joining the Finns, pushes towards Lake Onega to completely free the Finnish army from everything but taking Belomorsk. They therefore can't dissemble to Hitler about whether they're trying to cut the Murmansk railway and are forced to choose between openly defying America and Germany. I'd assume they'd choose to defy America but even if not, AGN can redeploy northwards and take Belomorsk itself.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:rough sketch of the Soviet armies that might be destroyed before the fall muddy season in this ATL
It's a useful graphic but Ostheer force destruction won't be limited to destroying complete armies via grand operational maneuvers, nor will those maneuvers be limited to pre-Rasputitsa. Why?
As I'm discussing elsewhere
, Ostheer captured thousands of PoW/day when advancing, even absent Kessels. Its rate of non-Kessel ("tactical") PoW's accelerated in October/November during what seems to be the obvious low point of Soviet morale in the entire war (post-Taifun, Moscow looked doomed to fall, the citizenry panicked and civil order broke down). During the muddy season, Ostheer will continue to push east and will bag at least tactical PoW.
After the muddy season, Ostheer will resume the maneuver offensive at least partially. I posit doing Blau III/IV (Stalingrad and Caucasus) no later than January, which gives ~4 months for Ostheer to have rebuilt enough rail infrastructure in Ukraine to support an advance from the Don. That offensive should come with additional Kessels and with non-Kessel PoW's.
I've started a rudimentary spreadsheet
for this analysis. The model is simple but at this level the quantitative analysis already outstrips our ability to talk about it efficiently. Basically more PoW in June/July means fewer Ostheer casualties in July/August, which means...
As you can see, RKKA having lost >1mil more by October would mean hardly anything left by November given OTL force generation. For that reason, I assume that Stalin draws more heavily on Siberia than OTL, risking war with Japan. IMO Japan wasn't going to attack in '41 anyways so this is probably feasible. In addition, I have to assume that Stalin would either have committed some reserve armies with even less training than OTL and/or would have had to raise additional improvised militia forces.
The model gives these under-trained and militia forces a discount to their nominal strength for casualty infliction. I used 20%, which seems very conservative.
In addition, by OTL October RKKA was already running out of heavy weapons (artillery) and even machine guns and machine pistols. Thus its new rifle divisions had TOE's with reduced allotments of these weapons and couldn't even meet those reduced TOE's (Askey has good discussion of this). In this ATL, equipment losses will have been far worse. As a result, the model applies another discount to combat strength vs. nominal personnel strength. I maxed this discount at 10%, which seems extremely conservative.
Note that the model so far assumes OTL force generation, which, given earlier losses of population and industrial centers, is generous.
The model so far only applies greater PoW hauls; it doesn't account for the fact that Ostheer would be killing/wounding more RKKA than OTL due to greater initial forces and lower monthly losses.
So while the model currently projects Ostheer being ~300k stronger than OTL by April '42, that's extremely conservative.
(aside - I calculate Ostheer's recuperated replacement flow via 10% of WIA for the preceding six months. Per Askey, 60% of German wounded were back with their units within 6 months. This ensures a more realistic estimation of ATL Ostheer strength than simply subtracting casualties. Because I've used the lowest bound for OTL Ostheer casualties - OKH's 10-day reports which seem to have been an undercount - the model probably underestimates ATL:OTL Ostheer strength differential).
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:Planning for a 2 year campaign in Russia leaves open the possibility that the Allies rush an invasion of France in 1942 in order to save the Soviet Union. Or, even if they don't, the possibility of long-term defeat in an air war with the Allies as discussed here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=253448
For now I'll politely decline your jump ahead to the air war.
Re '42 European landing (Sledgehammer), I just can't see it happening and if it does it's a war-losing disaster. By my very conservative modelling, Ostheer should be ~300k stronger in May '42 than OTL. SU will be down to ~60% of OTL May '42 population and therefore RKKA will be ~40% weaker than OTL. If that proportion is applied evenly across field armies and internal military districts, that gives only ~3.3mil facing Ostheer in May '42 (versus 5.5mil OTL). But that assumes Stalin would be comfortable with only ~600k facing Japan, which invites disaster in Primorskiye.
Ostheer is not only more numerous, it also benefits from higher-than-OTL production and its maintenance over '41 rather than OTL army production collapse. It would be conservative, IMJ, to give ATL Ostheer a 10% combat power edge per-man versus OTL based on better equipment.
Combining these factors, the real force ratio on Eastern Front (manpower * combat effectiveness/equipment factors) would be >2x more favorable to Ostheer than OTL:
- OTL: ~2.6mil vs. 5.5mil
- ATL: 2.9mil * (1.1 equipment factor) vs. 3.3mil
In that condition, there is not a snowball's chance of RKKA stopping Ostheer in '42. The W.Allies would roughly know this fact - they were estimating Soviet war-making potential by its territorial losses and, in this ATL, know the RKKA is weak based on these losses. So I don't think they try a landing, given that Britain was too scared of landing in OTL '42's far more favorable conditions.
If the W.Allies do land, Ostheer can still push to the Urals and incapacitate RKKA while containing and later destroying the few divisions that W.Allies could have fielded.
In fact, my broader ATL will specify Hitler taking Malta in early '42 (1 or 2 German divisions employed) while holding 3 or so panzer divisions back from Ostheer to send to Rommel after Malta falls. If the W.Allies land in France, Rommel's future divisions immediately destroy them with the OTL forces in France. This isn't hindsight, btw. OTL the forces sent to Tunisia were defending France until the W.Allies landed in Africa. ATL that scheme is merely stronger.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:Army Group South had the worst infrastructure of the 3 sectors in the eastern front
Agreed but ATL logistics are different.
Please allow me to explain (in subsequent discussion, time allowing) before you interject with the "clairvoyance about water stations" or similar.
I know that's your view, I have thoughts/research directly bearing on the issue.