One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Cult Icon » 15 Apr 2022 13:46

A Pz or mot. division also required a huge vehicle supply. Including motorcycles you could be looking at a 2,700 vehicle fleet for a 1942 Pz division. (I don't remember the exact number, they were variable in WW2 but tended to be on the high end in 1941 as they had a motorcycle battalion).

This fleet (logistics, manuever, combined arms) was a critical advantage they had over the Soviet formations, which tended to be weak in supporting vehicles.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 Apr 2022 14:08

avalancheon wrote:What makes you so sure? Wouldn't the Germans have preferred to use existing formations that had already proven themselves in combat, rather than using untested training formations?
I didn't say I was sure about the rationale (using training batts vs. splitting formations) but it's also not self-evident that training batts wouldn't have been preferred to splitting divisions, provided that the diminution of long-term force generation (training of future units) was deemed acceptable (as it likely would have been, prior to the Heer's last quick saunter to Moscow - after that the German Army's historical mission is basically over).

The training formations were often considered elite, whether they had combat experience or not. Lehr Brigade 200, for example, was deployed in the midst of Barbarossa though, IIRC, withdrawn later when - presumably - the need for long-term force generation became apparent. Keep in mind that, even if lacking combat experience as formations, training batts frequently had rotated into them elements from field units that were spawned from the same Wehrkreis. It just makes sense to me that, at this moment and with this German strategic outlook, they'd be willing to convert elite troops from training men for future battles into fighting the supposedly last big land battle.

That's a first-take reaction from the fundamentals. Open to revision if direct evidence shows otherwise.
avanlancheon wrote:Providing the Infantry and Artillery component is the easy part.
agreed
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 Apr 2022 14:13

Cult Icon wrote:
15 Apr 2022 13:46
A Pz or mot. division also required a huge vehicle supply. Including motorcycles you could be looking at a 2,700 vehicle fleet for a 1942 Pz division. (I don't remember the exact number, they were variable in WW2 but tended to be on the high end in 1941 as they had a motorcycle battalion).

This fleet (logistics, manuever, combined arms) was a critical advantage they had over the Soviet formations, which tended to be weak in supporting vehicles.
~2,700 is ballpark for 1941.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Richard Anderson » 15 Apr 2022 16:09

Avalancheon wrote:
15 Apr 2022 13:35
All 10 of the old Panzer Divisions were originally composed of 2 Panzer Regiments.
No, they weren't. Only 1.-5. Panzer-Division were brigaded originally with two two-battalion regiments, each battalion of 4 companies. 10. Panzer-Division also had two, but was incomplete in 1939 and acted as a single-regiment rump division in the Polish Campaign. Panzer-Division 6.-9. were originally the Kavallerie-sponsored leichte-divisionen. 1. leichte-Division was organized with a two-battalion Panzer-Regiment and a separate Panzer-Abteilung, each of three companies, while the other three made do with a single three-company Abteilung Then there was the Panzer-Lehr-Abteilung of three companies with Panzer III and IV, which was attached to the 3. Panzer-Division in Poland as the III. Bataillon of Panzer-Regiment 5. until 2 February 1940 when it was used to form the I./Panzer-Regiment 33, which with Panzer-Abteilung 33. of 4. leichte formed the new regiment for the renamed 9. Panzer-Division. Similarly, various rump "regiments" formed with Czech tanks like Panzer-Regiment 25., which was formed as a single three-company battalion in November 1938, was joined with Panzer-Abteilung 66. of 2. leichte-Division to form the new Panzer-Regiment 25. of 7. Panzer-Division
But after the creation of the 10 new Panzer Divisions, none of them retained a 2nd Panzer Regiment. Moreover, the Germans were apparently splitting up the Regiments themselves, in order to change their composition from 3 to 2 Battalions.
It was quite a bit more complicated than that.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Apr 2022 08:05

Avalancheon wrote:
15 Apr 2022 13:35
Half of the 20 Panzer Divisions had 3 Battalions, while the other half had 2 Battalions. Thats seemingly why the Germans had to resort to the Replacement Panzer Regiments/Battalions. They couldn't generate enough cadres from the existing Panzer Divisions, despite what the math would suggest. There might not actually be enough Panzer Battalions for them to form 5 new Panzer Divisions.
Essentially, yes. One problem was the Schnelltruppen were expanding faster than they could train up the personnel for them. Until 26 August 1939, when the Heer mobilized, there were no separate Panzer-Ersatz establishment, instead, training was done in the Abteilung, Regiment, and Division, which was fine in peacetime, but no so good in wartime.

On 26 and 28 August 1939, OKH established as part of the Ersatz-Heer:

Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 1 from 1. and 6. Kp. Panzer-Regiment 1., 2. and 7. Kp. Panzer Regiment 2., and 5. Kp. Panzer-Abteilung 66. [odd since Panzer-Abteilung 66. only had three companies; internal evidence leads me to believe the draft from the battalion formed the 5. Kp. of Panzer-Ersatz-Battalion 1]. On 1 October 1940 all personnel were transferred to 1. Panzer-Division and Panzer-Regiment 21. [20. Panzer-Division] and the battalion was not reestablished until December 1940.

Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 4. from 2. and 7. Kp. Panzer-Regiment 3. and Nachkommandos of Panzer-Regiment 4. On 1 October 1940 the battalion was used to form I./Panzer-Regiment 39. [17. Panzer-Division] with some going to form Panzer-Regiment 21. [20. Panzer-Division] and the battalion was not reestablished until December 1940.

Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 5. from Panzer-Regiment 5. and 6. On 1 October 1940 the battalion was used to form II. and III,/Panzer-Regiment 29. [12. Panzer-Division] and the battalion was not reestablished until November 1940.

Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 7. from 2. and 7. Kp. Panzer-Regiment 7. and 3. and 6. Kp. Panzer-Regiment 8. On 1 October 1940 the battalion was used to form Panzer-Regiment 21. [20. Panzer-Division] and the battalion was not reestablished until December 1940.

Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 11. from 4./Panzer-Regiment 11. On 1 October 1940 the battalion was used to form I./Panzer-Regiment 27. [19. Panzer-Division] and the battalion was not reestablished until November 1940.

Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 15. from 3. and 6. Kp. Panzer-Regiment 15 and 2. and 7. Kp. Panzer-Regiment 31. On 15 October 1940 the battalion was used to complete Panzer-Regiment 29. [12. Panzer-Division] and the battalion was not reestablished until December 1940.

Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 35. probably from Panzer-Regiment 35. Its 3. Kp. went to Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 25. on 18 April 1940 and the remnant was used on 8 October 1940 to form II./Panzer-Regiment 21. [20. Panzer-Division] and the battalion was not reestablished until December 1940.

The rest of the fall 1940 expansion came from the second wave of replacement battalions established in early 1940:

Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 10. on 15 February 1940 probably from drawing from the existing battalions. On 8 October 1940 it was used to build III./Panzer-Regiment 27. [19. Panzer-Division] and the battalion was not reestablished until November 1940.

Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 25. on 18 April 1940 from 3./Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 35, Panzer-Ersatz-Kompanie 23., and 5./Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 1. On 27 September 1940 it was used to build II./Panzer-Regiment 27. [19. Panzer-Division] and the battalion was not reestablished until November 1940.

Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 33. on 1 June 1940 from 5. and 6. Kp. Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 4. On 1 October 1940 it was used to build II./Panzer-Regiment 39. [17. Panzer-Division] and the battalion was not reestablished until December 1940.

So in the October 1940 expansion:

1.-5. and 10. Panzer-Division each threw of a Panzer-Regiment to a new division.
1. Panzer-Division kept Panzer-Regiment 1. and Panzer-Regiment 2. went to 16. Panzer-Division.
2. Panzer-Division kept Panzer-Regiment 3. and Panzer-Regiment 4. went to 13. Panzer-Division.
3. Panzer-Division kept Panzer-Regiment 6. and Panzer-Regiment 5. went to 5. leichte-Division (21. Panzer-Division).
(Panzer-Lehr-Abteilung, which had been acting as III./Panzer-Regiment 5., went to be I./Panzer-Regiment 33. in 9. Panzer-Division in February 1940 and I./Panzer-Regiment 28, formed from Tauchpanzer-Abteilung C, became III./Panzer-Regiment 6.)
4. Panzer-Division kept Panzer-Regiment 35. and Panzer-Regiment 36. went to 14. Panzer-Division.
5. Panzer-Division kept Panzer-Regiment 31. and Panzer-Regiment 15, went to 11. Panzer-Division.
10. Panzer-Division kept Panzer-Regiment 7. and Panzer-Regiment 8. went to 15. Panzer-Division.

6. Panzer-Division (1. leichte) had Panzer-Regiment 11. and Panzer-Abteilung 67.
7. Panzer-Division (2. leichte) had Panzer-Regiment 25. and Panzer-Abteilung 66.
8. Panzer-Division (3. leichte) had Panzer-Regiment 10. and Panzer-Abteilung 65.
9. Panzer-Division (4. leichte) had Panzer-Regiment 33.

The ten Ersatz-Abteilungen were enough to form the Panzer-Regiment of 12., 17.. 19., and 20. Panzer-Division.

18. Panzer-Division got two battalions formed from the former Tauchpanzer-Abteilung A and B and later a third battalion from II./Panzer-Regiment 28., which in turn was formed from Tauchpanzer-Abteilung D.

See, a bit more complicated. The real problem was that unlike the rest of the Ersatz-Heer, the Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilungen were insufficient for the needs of the Feld-Heer, A eleventh and twelfth Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 100. and 204. were added in April 1941 and a thirteenth - 18. - was added in May 1941, then two more, 300. and 500. in 1942, but they were never sufficient to provide a steady stream of replacements to the front, let alone form new units. Instead, regiments shed cadre and consolidated to single battalions, sending the cadre battalion home or to France to reconstitute, which could take months. Worse, they could get hijacked and never return to its parent regiment and division, like I./Panzer-Regiment 1., which in June 1942 got rebuilt, then redesignated Panzer-Abteilung 116. and went to 16. Infanterie-Division (mot) instead.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Peter89 » 16 Apr 2022 08:56

The best idea in this thread is to remove most of the Axis forces from North Africa and deploy them to the eastern front. The disproportionate Axis logistic effort in the MTO might also actually help to alleviate some of the Axis problems in the east, while the British would spend 1941 with regaining balance after the Balkans campaign and with mopping up positions from IEA, Iraq, Iran, Levant to North Africa. They would also suffer from the Japanese entry into the war in early 1942. Most likely they would not be ready to attack the continent before the end of 1942, so the Axis enterprise in the east would not be threatened by a British landing on the mainland.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by ljadw » 16 Apr 2022 15:04

As most Axis forces in North Africa were Italians, you propose thus to strip Libya from all Italian manpower,which would make it possible for Britain to conquer Libya with a few battalions ; not only would this endanger very seriously the survival of Mussolini , but it would make it very easy for Britain to open a second front in the Mediterranean, the Balkans and Spain ,and, as the German logistic effort in NA was quantite negligable compared to its logistic effort in Russia,it would not help Barbarossa .
If Germany openly abandoned Italy, why would any country become a German ally ?

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Apr 2022 19:29

Peter89 wrote:
16 Apr 2022 08:56
The best idea in this thread is to remove most of the Axis forces from North Africa and deploy them to the eastern front.
That's no longer part of my narrative.

My general method is to identify a decisive point - here Barbarossa - and to investigate how it could have gone differently. At the beginning of that process, I will be conservative about the feasible conditions under which a thing could have gone differently. Here I was being extremely conservative: I hadn't studied WW2 much since adolescence but the centrality of Barbarossa was obvious and trading off nearly anything against its success is worth it.

Over the last few years, I've read more and now locate the basic German error as occurring after the fall of France, when over-confidence and under-estimation of SU caused Hitler to miss the opportunities he had created for himself (or, rather, that the Allies had created for him). I therefore no longer have reason to see any diminution in North Africa as necessary - indeed the opposite would probably have been wiser given a Hitler planning for an Eastern Front lasting into 1942. A German plan combining increased recruitment of foreign labor and domestic mobilization/rationalization after France's fall gives plenty of scope for Hitler to send Rommel another PzDiv or two during a Barbarossa that includes another panzer group. (A really wise Hitler would have sent Rommel a replacement for Rommel and/or would have solidified Kesselring's control over the theater)

This isn't so much a revision of my views as an expansion of the scope of theses I'd be willing to defend. I suspected that the measures listed in the OP were not all necessary but, to focus on the decisive issue of Barbarossa, was willing to give wider scope to non-Barbarossa concessions.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Apr 2022 19:57

Avalancheon wrote:
15 Apr 2022 10:54
TheMarcksPlan, do any of your posts in this thread go into detail about how the extra 5 Panzer and 5 Motorised Divisions would be created? This is the crux of your entire argument for a strengthened Invasion. Creating a new Panzer Division was not a trivial matter, though.

The Germans had to disband 2 Motorised Divisions and 4 Infantry Divisions in order to provide the Infantry and Artillery component for these new Panzer Divisions. Even harder was creating the Panzer component.

6 of the 10 new Panzer Divisions created in 1940 were formed by removing a Panzer Regiment from one of the old Panzer Divisions. But the remaining 4 Panzer Divisions had to be based around Replacement Panzer Regiments/Battalions.

The reason why the Germans had to resort to this expedient is unclear. In theory, the 10 old Divisions should have enabled the creation of 10 new Divisions. But that did not prove practical in the end. In your own words, how should the additional 5 Panzer Divisions be formed?
Going back to your original question...

One seemingly easy means of providing the required training resources is to revert to the prewar practice of using existing units to conduct (at least some of) the training. Between France and Barbarossa, most of the active Schnelltruppen are unoccupied for most of the time.

Indeed having looked at this issue a little more closely (thanks to your question), I'm struck that Germany appears to have created no/negligible new combat panzer units between France and Barbarossa - looking below the divisional level of course. Rather, they split pre-existing panzer units and operationalized pre-existing training units (they did, however, create new training units for replacement flow during Barbarossa and force generation after it). They created new Tauchpanzer units but these were specialized adaptations of existing resources.

The downside of using non-Balkans Schnelltruppen for training duties is that, if Britain invades France during this period, training will be interrupted. Of course if Britain invades France during this period that downside should be welcomed.

The literature also contains copious reference to training difficulties caused by material shortages - these issues are easily resolved in my ATL by amping up production along the lines I've discussed here and elsewhere.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Apr 2022 16:22

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Apr 2022 19:57
Indeed having looked at this issue a little more closely (thanks to your question), I'm struck that Germany appears to have created no/negligible new combat panzer units between France and Barbarossa - looking below the divisional level of course. Rather, they split pre-existing panzer units and operationalized pre-existing training units (they did, however, create new training units for replacement flow during Barbarossa and force generation after it). They created new Tauchpanzer units but these were specialized adaptations of existing resources.
To be clear, I have to disagree with Avalancheon that "Even harder was creating the Panzer component" when creating new panzer divisions before Barbarossa. This seems, in fact, to have been the only "easy" part of expanding the number of panzer divisions because, again, there's seemingly very little actual Panzertruppe creation between France and Barbarossa. A marked contrast with the preceding years and with other arms of the Heer.

As Nigel Askey points out, the Heer's 20 PzDiv's in 1941 contained twice the technical supporting elements of the 1940 Heer (most critically repair/recovery), only they were supporting fewer speartip assets per capita. This made the 1941 Panzerwaffe more durable in a longer campaign. This was probably at least in part because even had the SU collapsed, most of the Panzerwaffe would likely have remained in the East to conduct the "railway advance" to some indeterminate point east (also because earlier campaigns had taught the need for more recovery/repair assets).

Heer created a lot of new regiments/battalions between France and Barbarossa; Panzerwaffe looks like an exception once one recognizes the shift between training and combat units.

So I just don't see a problem here: Keep the pedal on Panzertruppe creation after France rather than turning off the tap. A Panzerwaffe that had expanded at breakneck speed up to mid-1940 suddenly stood largely still. If this requires retaining in the Ersatzheer longer some of the training resources operationalized in October 1940, that also is feasible. For example, the Lehr Abteilung of Panzerschule Wunsdorf was not operationalized until April 1, 1941, becoming III.Abt of PzRgt 39, of PzDiv 17.

Source is Jentz's Panzertruppe, vol.1, btw. Another poster has largely recreated its narrative without attribution (or analysis).
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Huszar666 » 06 May 2022 17:39

Morning,
The best idea in this thread is to remove most of the Axis forces from North Africa and deploy them to the eastern front.
quite the opposite. North Africa was in dire need of at least one other German PanzerDiv with corresponding rear-echelon services. One further PzD in North Africa would have more impact than 2 PzD and a mixed motDiv would have on the eastern front.

The big problem for GErmany and the Eastern Front was that they needed at 3-4 further "fast" Corps (i.e 9-12 Divisions) but could not provide enough trucks and AFVs. Even a couple of the real divisions were driving captured vehicles - which then fell apart in the East. And even the extant divisions were in dire need to be brought up to 3 batallions of tanks.

The only way to get more "fast" divisions is utilysing the captured stock of French cavalry horses to create 1-2 (maybe three) horsed cavalry division - which are actually better for the far reaches of the East.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 May 2022 18:03

Huszar666 wrote:
06 May 2022 17:39
The only way to get more "fast" divisions is utilysing the captured stock of French cavalry horses to create 1-2 (maybe three) horsed cavalry division - which are actually better for the far reaches of the East.
That or Germany could have decided not to be the only country on earth whose military production didn't increase between 1940-41.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Huszar666 » 06 May 2022 18:31

That or Germany could have decided not to be the only country on earth whose military production didn't increase between 1940-41.
well, you can't switch from building 200 tanks a month to building 2000 in a short time. Funnily, the Germans were expanding their industrial base, only for it having an impact in 1942.
It still does not make a difference, if you build ten times as many xyz's, if you don't have trained soldiers to use the produced xyz's. Of course, you can go the russian way with tank crews that probably manage to drive straight ahead....

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 May 2022 19:05

Huszar666 wrote:
06 May 2022 18:31
you can't switch from building 200 tanks a month to building 2000 in a short time.
That would be a devastating (albeit obvious) response in the thread "200 more panzer divisions in Barbarossa." In this thread, only ~700 more tanks are required or ~60/mo in the year preceding Barbarossa.

AHF'ers - in particular a few obsessives - have devoted much effort to arguing that Germany could not have produced 60 more tanks per month. Any sensible person can see that's a bad argument but nonetheless... If you'd like to make that argument, have at it.
Huszar666 wrote:It still does not make a difference, if you build ten times as many xyz's, if you don't have trained soldiers to use the produced xyz's.
See immediately preceding posts.

In a few brief years Germany trained sufficient men for 21 panzer regiments. Between France's fall and Barbarossa they created no new panzer regiment manpower (new regiments staffed by pre-existing training manpower).

The infeasibility argument must be that 1940-41 was a year in which Germany could not create new Panzertruppen, despite training many in preceding and succeeding years (astrological argument?). That seems like an exceedingly bad argument but I will be surprised if nobody on AHF is eager to make it.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 10 May 2022 17:03

historygeek2021 wrote:
03 May 2021 15:24
1940 was the nadir for combined (natural and synthetic) rubber supplies:

German rubber supplies.png
Another member shared an excellent article on Germany's actual rubber supply here.

Upshot is that Germany's rubber supply was 50-80% higher than every other history has acknowledged.
German rubber supply - corrected.png
Germany consistently used less of its rubber supply than did the Allies, well into 1944. Rubber is definitely not an issue for this counterfactual.
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