Cult Icon wrote: ↑
19 Oct 2020 11:11
T. A. Gardner wrote: ↑
19 Oct 2020 06:31
So, I get ad hominem instead of rebuttal... How nice.
how about provide research papers, books, sources etc. for these and other fanciful claims of yours. You posted these and many other specious arguments CONSTANTLY on ACG 10 + years ago.
eg. I have never seen a historian advance this argument of horrible German engineering and how they should have used a time machine to copy late war US practices- usually it's about their logistics.
The most common German construction battalions, companies, etc., a basically an organized mass of men with hand tools to work with. They are nearly or completely unmechanized. That's an immutable fact and I don't need necessarily to provide some mass of academic proof to state it. The argument isn't "specious" either. It should be obvious that mechanization of construction greatly increases productivity per man.
The reason you see little or nothing of this in histories is historians are rarely engineers and technical types. They are liberal arts background and focus on less technical topics.
So, back to German civil engineering. In terms of end product, they were as good as anyone else. The problem isn't the finished product, be it a concrete bunker, a railroad, an airfield, or anything else. The problem is the amount of manpower and time needed to complete the project. This is where the Germans with a better appreciation of the importance of rapidly completing engineering projects would benefit exponentially. By application of even small amounts of mechanization would gain huge benefits from it.
Take a typical German construction battalion. This unit has about 1500 men in 4 companies with 3 or 4 platoons per company and a light supply column (horse drawn). It has no mechanization, no trucks (it'd be lucky to have even a few if it did), nothing like that. It likely would have a few chain saws and other basic power tools much of the time, but that's about it. Otherwise, it's shovels and picks, hammers and wrenches...
But, if you gave each company just one 2 to 3 ton dump truck with trailer, one small bulldozer, a towed roller, and either a loader or excavator, these few machines do the work of an entire company (approximately 150 men) or more every day. Add in a battalion portable small sawmill and a couple of horse drawn logging trailers you get it self-sufficient on lumber for construction.
So, you eliminate a company of men. That's fewer you have to feed and supply. It frees those men up to do something else even if it's more construction elsewhere.
US Army engineers building a pontoon bridge:
There's a whole thread of German bridge building here:
What you don't see with the Germans is any sort of mechanization. They use masses of manpower to do the job. It is both inefficient and labor intensive. By providing even small amounts of mechanization (say, a truck with a crane, or even a portable crane) the work goes faster and fewer men are needed. That makes the surplus men available for other uses.
Instead, Germany ended almost all tractor production (both wheeled and tracked) by 1941 and most of it earlier.
The US Army study I pointed out earlier states that the poor Russian roads wore vehicles out at about double the expected rate. Again, by paying attention to this issue from the start, the Germans could have given road construction troops the means to oil and gravel these roads making them far more resilient to poor weather. Most established Russian dirt roads were hard packed already, had some drainage, and just needed an all-weather surface applied, even if it was used motor oil and gravel or the like. You don't need asphalt necessarily.
If you were to improve the most important roads this way you could cut down massively on the wastage of motor vehicles being prematurely worn out. That in turn means you need fewer replacement vehicles, fewer spare parts used, less maintenance time per vehicle, and the whole system becomes far more efficient. If vehicle speeds are raised even by just a few kilometers an hour, that too increases the efficiency of the whole system.
What you don't want to be doing is fixing roads this way...
In War on the Eastern Front 1941 - 42, The German Soldier in Russia
James Lucas, one chapter describes the 88th Division building an ice block railway bridge across the Dnieper River in the winter of 41 - 42. The division assigned 300 troops and rounded up 800 civilian locals to do the work. Horse drawn transport was the only kind available. A sawmill was set up to provide lumber to reinforce the ice blocks to be used.
15,640 ice blocks were cut, 1600 meters of track laid, 6,200 meters of lumber milled including 2,465 sleepers, and 13,500 cubic meters of snow removed. Work ran continuously in three shifts and the construction took twelve days. The bridge lasted in service for a little over a month before the spring thaw made it unsafe.
The question is, why did they bother? Why not build a more permanent structure over the river and be done with it? Why waste all that effort on a bridge that lasted barely a month in service? Again, some mechanization would have certainly allowed for a better solution than the one the Germans chose.
This goes across the board. If the Germans had pre-fabricated buildings available, they could build depots, shelters, and whatever faster and more efficiently using fewer men. The results are less wastage of material and supplies left out in the weather. Pre-fabricated construction techniques were known prior to WW 2, so the question is why didn't they make use of these?
The US and Britain certainly did to their benefit. Germany could have also but didn't.
Bottom line: Any way you cut it, the German military and Germany in general just wasn't all that good at civil engineering. It wasn't that they built poorly, but rather that it took far more time and manpower than it should have.