Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 28 Apr 2021 11:33

History Learner wrote:OP has not specified that, from what I can see.
I may not have stated it explicitly but no, I don't see Bryansk Front encircled at the outset of a two-PzGr early Taifun.
History Learner wrote:Even if you take the position that there is no Briansk Pocket, then the time constraints are even less because there is no pocket for the Germans to divert resources to liquidate
There's still a Vyazma pocket.
History Learner wrote:the idea the situation would be worse than otl with fewer Soviet forces and better weather stretches credulity.
Agreed. HG21 is analyzing ATL post-Vyazma (happening in September) as if the same as OTL (happening in October).
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:that gives Army Group Center 23 days to complete the capture of Moscow before the fall mud begins on October 7 .
Very dubious. Mud did not completely stop AGC and its PzGr's; it slowed them. Compare AGC around Vyazma on October 8:

Image


...with October 11:


Image


AGC was advancing several miles per day in certain areas, especially to the northeast (XXXXI Mot.Korps) and east (LVII Mot.Korps. XII/XIII AK's). Not the lightning advances of summer but plenty fast to encircle a stationary grouping (see the small Kessel forming north of the Vyazma pocket, 9th Army's sector).

Do we really think RKKA will be allowed to retreat from Moscow, such that a mud-slowed encirclement could be evaded, were it to last past 7.10.41?
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:if the panzer divisions are stuck to the east of Moscow when the fall mud begins and the infantry are hundred(s) of kilometers to the west,
Pull out a map and check where "hundreds of kilometers" west of Moscow is. Vyazma is ~200km away - I guess the ID's just don't move after Vyazma, not even in the wake of the PzGr's? Come on.

Just look at XII and XIII AK's on the October 11th map: they're at Mozhaisk's longitude, ~200km east of AGC's starting point at Yartsevo's longitude. That's ~16km/day.

Over 23 days that's 368km, which, from Vyazma, would put an ID ~150km east of Moscow. There is no serious argument that the ID's couldn't make it to Moscow (and farther) in 23 days.
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by historygeek2021 » 28 Apr 2021 15:55

History Learner wrote:
28 Apr 2021 09:26

OP has not specified that, from what I can see. If we are taking this thread as a very specific criticism of what I laid out in the other thread, I even specifically noted 4th Panzer Army would be detached from AGN for this.
The 4th Panzer Group was attacking Leningrad in late August/early September. There is no way it participates in the attack on Moscow launched by AGC on September 1.
I think you need to stop and research those unit histories because you're double counting, as said armies did not constituent a fresh reserve but were already assigned to the Fronts guarding Moscow; 50th and 32nd, for example, would be savaged historically in the fighting.
50th was part of Bryansk Front, which wouldn't be touched in this ATL. Only 4-5 armies were encircled at Vyazma in the OTL, after the Germans had a month to prepare and the Red Army had exhausted itself attacking AGC. In this ATL, Panzer Groups 2 and 3 would be coming straight off of fighting on the flanks of Smolensk, and AGC's infantry divisions would be enduring the withering offensive from the Soviet Western and Reserve Fronts. This is how Bock described the situation in late August:
Speaking on the phone, Bock told Halder on the morning of 28 August: ‘I must report to you that the situation on the defensive front of Ninth Army is very serious. It is such that an end to the resistance is foreseeable if the Russians remain on the offensive.’ Finally, Bock asked the decisive question: ‘What should I do then if as a result the front collapses?’

Stahel, David (2015-01-21T22:58:59). The Battle for Moscow . Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.
History Learner wrote:
28 Apr 2021 09:26
That's not being generous but rather arbitrarily adding constraints upon the Germans that have no reason to exist. The operation began on October 2nd and by October 15th you have them sorely pressing the Soviet defenses of the city to the extent that the Moscow Panic happens and Stalin briefly considers leaving the city. Even if you take the position that there is no Briansk Pocket, then the time constraints are even less because there is no pocket for the Germans to divert resources to liquidate and I see no reason flank attacks from that axis would be anymore effective in September than they were in August with Central Front. In particular, there are no defensive belts in completion in September either, as opposed to October.
It's not arbitrary, it's keeping to the same timeline as the OTL: the OstHeer launched Typhoon on October 1 and (more or less) completed the liquidation of the Vyazma pocket on October 14. In this ATL, we would have weaker German forces up against stronger Soviet forces, so keeping to the same timeline as the OTL is generous. The Moscow panic and Stalin's decision as to where to locate his government are subjective civilian matters and tell us nothing about the operational military situation, which was that isolated German panzer and motorized units advanced east from the Vyazma pocket and were stalled by Soviet forces outside Moscow.
Likewise, Hitler's order forbidding a direct assault upon the city was a direct result of the situation in October/November, and thus has not happened here in September nor would it likely to happen at all, given the lack of defensive formations or reserves in the cities.
I've already listed the Soviet reserves at Moscow. The Germans would encircle 4 or 5 armies at most at Vyazma if things go as well as the OTL. That would still leave 8-10 additional armies for the OstHeer to contend with in September, plus 5 more in October (and 11 more in November/December).
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by historygeek2021 » 28 Apr 2021 16:52

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
28 Apr 2021 11:33

Very dubious. Mud did not completely stop AGC and its PzGr's; it slowed them. Compare AGC around Vyazma on October 8:

AGC was advancing several miles per day in certain areas, especially to the northeast (XXXXI Mot.Korps) and east (LVII Mot.Korps. XII/XIII AK's). Not the lightning advances of summer but plenty fast to encircle a stationary grouping (see the small Kessel forming north of the Vyazma pocket, 9th Army's sector).
Yes, the mud slowed the OstHeer's advance in October and confined the advance to the main roads. So if the panzer groups are stretched out to the north, south and east of Moscow come October 7th, and all their supplies have to come along the few paved roads stretching back to Smolensk ... that's not a pretty picture for the OstHeer.
Do we really think RKKA will be allowed to retreat from Moscow, such that a mud-slowed encirclement could be evaded, were it to last past 7.10.41?
I don't see the need for the Red Army to retreat from Moscow in this ATL. They can keep pouring reserves in front of, on the flanks of, and in some cases behind the advancing Germans walking into a salient/kessel of their own making.
Pull out a map and check where "hundreds of kilometers" west of Moscow is. Vyazma is ~200km away - I guess the ID's just don't move after Vyazma, not even in the wake of the PzGr's? Come on.

Just look at XII and XIII AK's on the October 11th map: they're at Mozhaisk's longitude, ~200km east of AGC's starting point at Yartsevo's longitude. That's ~16km/day.

Over 23 days that's 368km, which, from Vyazma, would put an ID ~150km east of Moscow. There is no serious argument that the ID's couldn't make it to Moscow (and farther) in 23 days.
It's 230 kilometers from Vyazma to Moscow. XII and XIII Army corps weren't involved in the Vyazma pocket but were exploiting the hole in the Soviet lines to the south at Kaluga. In your ATL there wouldn't be such a hole, these units would be covering the overstretched German southern flank all the way back to Gomel/Gornostaipol. Nevertheless, you're right that 10 km a day should be doable for the infantry divisions. The problem is that they would be covering the flanks of the German salient, and the panzer divisions would still likely find themselves stuck in the mud somewhere east of Moscow come mid-october. Getting supplies and reinforcements to the forwardmost units would be a challenge. Meanwhile the Soviets keep piling in new reserve armies, and come December the German salient is looking ready to be cut off.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by per70 » 28 Apr 2021 20:00

historygeek2021 wrote:
28 Apr 2021 15:55
and AGC's infantry divisions would be enduring the withering offensive from the Soviet Western and Reserve Fronts. This is how Bock described the situation in late August:
Speaking on the phone, Bock told Halder on the morning of 28 August: ‘I must report to you that the situation on the defensive front of Ninth Army is very serious. It is such that an end to the resistance is foreseeable if the Russians remain on the offensive.’ Finally, Bock asked the decisive question: ‘What should I do then if as a result the front collapses?’

This raises an interesting point about what would happen in the second half of August in a "race for Moscow" timeline.
170841_smolensk.png
I've added an outline of the map from Aug 17th - that is on the day the Western Front launched it's offensive against 9th Army.
The brunt of the attack hit 5th, 161st and 28th ID hard and threatened to break through - forcing the Germans to commit 7th Pz Div too soon - which led to a high level of losses in that division as well.

But do note the position of 12th Pz and 20th Mot Div right behind the key attacking sector, as well as the 18th Mot Div a bit further behind.
Instead of participating in the counterattack, these divisions started moving northwest in the direction of Leningrad.
(the 19th and 20th Pz also headed west - although a much shorter distance - to Velikie Lukie, to launch an attack there.)


So - what's the point of bringing this up?
If the Germans don't send these forces northwest, they can instead launch a counterattack with up to 4 Pz Div + 3 Mot Div.
In that case, I think it's reasonable to assume that the Soviet Aug 17 offensive will end up as a complete and utter failure.
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by historygeek2021 » 28 Apr 2021 20:41

per70 wrote:
28 Apr 2021 20:00

If the Germans don't send these forces northwest, they can instead launch a counterattack with up to 4 Pz Div + 3 Mot Div.
In that case, I think it's reasonable to assume that the Soviet Aug 17 offensive will end up as a complete and utter failure.
And the Germans fail to take Velikiye Luki and their drive on Leningrad is much weaker, if not stalled out completely, or worse, all of AGN encircled.

That's the problem with driving straight ahead and ignoring the flanks.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 28 Apr 2021 21:21

HistoryGeek2021 wrote:... that's not a pretty picture for the OstHeer.
There's a plausible argument that the ATL 16-mech-division push on Moscow wouldn't succeed. It needs to be made with analysis, not with reserves appearing behind forces, with months-at-a-time jumps in timelines, etc.

I started this thread saying it was a discussion, conceding that I probably wouldn't do sufficient work to give my definitive opinion. You appear not to want to do the work either. No rancor intended, just giving polite notice of my departure from this portion of the discussion.
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 28 Apr 2021 21:30

per70 wrote: If the Germans don't send these forces northwest, they can instead launch a counterattack with up to 4 Pz Div + 3 Mot Div.
An interesting point. AGC took 92k PoW defending its front. Given German tactics and the basic physics of taking PoW's, nearly all of these would have come from counterattacks. How many more PoW with strong panzer forces?

OTOH this cuts short the rest period prior to early Vyazma.

OTOOH it probably cuts short all Soviet offensives after a few days, restoring rest AGC-wide. Attrition ratios would tilt more strongly to AGC than OTL, meaning weaker opposition to early Vyazma and/or stronger AGC. Even if AGC foregoes Veliky Luki for these counterattacks (they probably don't need all 7 mech divisions to turn Red offensives into fiascos though), the PoW delta from stronger counters could well exceed Veliky Luki's haul.
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by per70 » 28 Apr 2021 21:33

@historygeek2021

There's certainly a lot of different permutations available in any such ATL.

As you say: how would AGN fare against Leningrad if the reinforcing panzer corps didn't arrive at the end of August.
And how many Soviets forces originally sent north would instead remain around Moscow - and what effect would that have on the fighting.
And so forth.

With regards to the situation just north of Smolensk, the question isn't whether the Soviet offensive would succeed or not. It wouldn't.

Instead, the question becomes how much effort would the Germans invest in counterattacking. The benefit would be destroying a couple of attacking armies (see Velikie Luki or Roslavl). But at the cost of interrupting preparations for the larger attack in the direction of Moscow.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by historygeek2021 » 28 Apr 2021 22:32

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
28 Apr 2021 21:21
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:... that's not a pretty picture for the OstHeer.
There's a plausible argument that the ATL 16-mech-division push on Moscow wouldn't succeed. It needs to be made with analysis, not with reserves appearing behind forces, with months-at-a-time jumps in timelines, etc.

I started this thread saying it was a discussion, conceding that I probably wouldn't do sufficient work to give my definitive opinion. You appear not to want to do the work either. No rancor intended, just giving polite notice of my departure from this portion of the discussion.
Actually I've spent a lot of time combing through my books on the eastern front to formulate my responses in this thread. Saying, "You appear not to want to do the work either" is not polite, it is rude. Please read the forum rules on civility - don't talk about me. Talk about the subject matter of the thread.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by History Learner » 29 Apr 2021 00:38

historygeek2021 wrote:
28 Apr 2021 15:55
The 4th Panzer Group was attacking Leningrad in late August/early September. There is no way it participates in the attack on Moscow launched by AGC on September 1.
Or, given the priority placed on the Moscow option at the expense of the flanks, AGN remains on the Luga Line while 4th Panzer Army is transferred South.
50th was part of Bryansk Front, which wouldn't be touched in this ATL. Only 4-5 armies were encircled at Vyazma in the OTL, after the Germans had a month to prepare and the Red Army had exhausted itself attacking AGC. In this ATL, Panzer Groups 2 and 3 would be coming straight off of fighting on the flanks of Smolensk, and AGC's infantry divisions would be enduring the withering offensive from the Soviet Western and Reserve Fronts. This is how Bock described the situation in late August:
Okay, you really need to slow down here because you're missing a lot of details and making a lot of assumptions that aren't really based on the facts. For one, PG 2 and 3 would definitely not be coming straight into the fray given operations involving them around Smolensk ended in early August and they had a week thereafter to rest and rebuild before launching themselves into month long combat with AGN and AGS. Since the Germans have prioritized the center over the flanks, neither of these diversions will have happened besides 3rd Panzer probably still getting used over the course of August to clear the flanks. They could wrap that up and still get a week of rest while 2nd Panzer would still be able to rest/secure jump off points.

As for the infantry, they didn't break during August or September anyway, so I fail to see your point? Unlike historically, they will also be functioning as the anvil to the hammer that is 3rd and 2nd Panzer Armies. If the Soviets are busy attacking, they aren't going to be able to adequately disengage and attempt to escape/defeat their encirclement. Likewise, the Soviets didn't really exhaust themselves attacking the Germans, as their replacement stream in September made good their losses from those battles.

Finally, as for 50th Army, it was encircled by 2nd Army historically, so I fail to see how that changes.
It's not arbitrary, it's keeping to the same timeline as the OTL: the OstHeer launched Typhoon on October 1 and (more or less) completed the liquidation of the Vyazma pocket on October 14. In this ATL, we would have weaker German forces up against stronger Soviet forces, so keeping to the same timeline as the OTL is generous. The Moscow panic and Stalin's decision as to where to locate his government are subjective civilian matters and tell us nothing about the operational military situation, which was that isolated German panzer and motorized units advanced east from the Vyazma pocket and were stalled by Soviet forces outside Moscow.
Actually they tell us quite a bit given Stalin's decision was based on the military situation, nor have we established the Soviets are stronger and the Germans weaker in such a way as to imbalance the advance. Case in point is that in the August timeframe the Fronts facing AGC had about 350 AFVs as compared to the 1,000+ they would have in October. They may have more men-on paper-but without AFVs or the VVS support to match they aren't going to be able to prevent their encirclement and destruction.

As for the matter of timing, the pocket itself may have not been formally ended until then but by the 14th the Germans were already advancing on Moscow steadily and pressuring the Soviet defenses. If we map this onto September, from the 14th until August 7th is three weeks of good fighting weather followed by about two-three weeks more of "advanceable" weather until the weather gets too bad.
I've already listed the Soviet reserves at Moscow. The Germans would encircle 4 or 5 armies at most at Vyazma if things go as well as the OTL. That would still leave 8-10 additional armies for the OstHeer to contend with in September, plus 5 more in October (and 11 more in November/December).
Okay, I don't really know where you are getting these numbers, again. Robert Citno's German Way of War states 19th, 24th, 29th, 30th, 32nd and 43rd Armies were destroyed at Viazma, and is cited by Glantz in his Slaughterhouse book. That's six armies off the bat, and we've already established 50th Army was destroyed by 2nd (Inf.) Army, so that's 7, not the 4-5 you claim at most. Let's also look at OOBs to get an even clearer picture:

Western Front
- 16th Army
- 19th Army
- 20th Army
- 22nd Army
- 29th Army
- 30th Army

19th and 30th were historically destroyed at Viazma. That leaves four armies from Western Front.

Reserve Front
- 24th Army
- 31st Army
- 32nd Army
- 33rd Army
- 43rd Army
- 49th Army

24th, 32nd and 43rd Armies were destroyed at Viazma. That leaves Reserve Front with three armies.

Briansk Front
- 3rd Army
- 13th Army
- 50th Army

50th Army was destroyed historically by German infantry armies, so I see no reason that won't change. That leaves Briansk Front with two armies, for a grand total between the Fronts of nine (9) surviving armies after early September. As for reinforcements, 42nd and 55th Armies came online around Leningrad on September 1st, 54th Army ditto but on September 5th and then 4th Separate Army on September 26th and then 52nd Army on September 28th. All of these were on the Leningrad/Volkhov Front and gradually came into service over the course of September so cannot be factored in as an all at once reserve, with at most 42nd, 54th and 55th probably being ready on a relevant timeframe given the need to ship them from Leningrad.

That you are, in your assertions, leaving 4th Panzer Army with AGN and stripping all of their reinforcements for September, I think we can thus easily say that Leningrad falls and a link up with the Finns is achieved near the Svir. Any concerns over Velikiye Luki thus are eliminated. Specifically focusing in on the Moscow situation, historically 5th Army, 26th Army, and 31st Army were generated in October as replacements, so in reality the Soviets are only up 3rd and 13th Army compared to OTL in terms of forces, i.e. only two additional armies than what they had historically in October. On the flipside, the Germans have three weeks of good weather they didn't have historically and the Soviets will have to fight in the open, given the Mohzaisk defensive line doesn't exist September 1st.

Thus, at a minimum, we can say the Germans inflict equal losses as to what they historically inflicted in September-October and take Leningrad too even if the Moscow operation fails to take the city. If we are also taking your argument that the two additional over OTL Soviet armies are sufficient to prevent a German advance in depth against Moscow before the muddy season, then there is no danger of what happened OTL because the Germans are not over-extended.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
28 Apr 2021 11:33
I may not have stated it explicitly but no, I don't see Bryansk Front encircled at the outset of a two-PzGr early Taifun.
My apologies for misunderstanding you then. Why do you see this as a two Panzer Army Typhoon, however?
There's still a Vyazma pocket.
True, but I don't see it taking longer as they were suggesting.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by History Learner » 29 Apr 2021 03:11

The way I see it, as far as Moscow/Leningrad, is that the issue is decided by two main points:

1) Does 4th Panzer Army still get shifted from AGN to AGC, as per IOTL?
2) Do the Soviets send all five armies to the Moscow axis? Or does it keep all or most of them facing AGN?

That the Southern axis goes considerably better for them in late 1941, setting the stage for a better performance in 1942, does not seem in doubt at this junction. You can also have different combinations of the above, and that changes the answer(s) for deciding what happens in the two sectors.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by historygeek2021 » 29 Apr 2021 06:09

If you're going to include Panzer Group 4 in an attack on Moscow, I recommend starting a new thread, as it simply isn't contemplated in the ATL proposed in this thread. Please provide a timeline for when and how Hitler/Halder would make the decision to reroute Panzer Group 4 from Luga to Smolensk and how long this would take, etc. You'll also need to provide a timeline showing the whereabouts of Panzer Group 3's two corps if they aren't assisting AGN and attacking Velikiye Luki.

In the ATL proposed in this thread, the whereabouts of Panzer Group 3 are not specified. There is no way that Schmidt's XXXIX Panzer Corps could be dispatched to AGN in mid-August and participate in a drive east of Smolensk on September 1. Likewise, there is no way that Kuntzen's LVII Panzer Corps could attack Velikiye Luki on August 22 and be ready for a major offensive 10 days later. So, for purposes of the ATL in this thread, AGN does not receive an extra panzer corps from Panzer Group 3, nor does it have its flank at Velikiye Luki covered by Panzer Group 3, meaning it has to cover this flank with its own weak panzer formations and there is therefore no way that Leningrad falls in 1941 in this thread's ATL.
History Learner wrote:
29 Apr 2021 00:38
Case in point is that in the August timeframe the Fronts facing AGC had about 350 AFVs as compared to the 1,000+ they would have in October.
Please give a cite for this figure. I cannot recall ever reading that the Western and Reserve Fronts fielded 1,000 tanks against Army Group Center during the Battle of Vyazma.
Likewise, the Soviets didn't really exhaust themselves attacking the Germans, as their replacement stream in September made good their losses from those battles.
Please give a cite for this, as the world's foremost English language expert on the Red Army in WW2, David Glantz, is of the view that the Soviet Western and Reserve Fronts did in fact substantially weaken themselves in their counterattacks against AGC in August and September, and that this left them weaker against Operation Typhoon on October 1.
Finally, as for 50th Army, it was encircled by 2nd Army historically, so I fail to see how that changes.
The encirclements in 50th Army's sector (Bryansk) were due to the offensive by Guderian's Second Panzer Army. In this thread's ATL, Guderian's Second Panzer Group would be forming the southern pincer of the Vyazma encirclement, because, unlike the OTL, Panzer Group 4 is still at Luga/Leningrad. There are only 2 panzer groups participating in this ATL's Moscow offensive, not three as in the OTL.
Robert Citno's German Way of War states 19th, 24th, 29th, 30th, 32nd and 43rd Armies were destroyed at Viazma
According to Glant'z Barbarossa, 98,000 men escaped the Vyazma encirclement from 29th army and 33rd army. The below map is an attempt to show which Soviet armies would be damaged/destroyed in this ATL's initial offensive. Red indicates Soviet armies attacked by AGC, blue indicates Soviet armies attacked by AGS at Gornostaipol. An "X" indicates that the army is destroyed, and a slash indicates that it was severely damaged.
September 1 Vyazma.png
By my count, this leaves 10 full or partial strength Soviet armies in AGC's sector that were deployed to that sector by the end of August in the OTL. The Soviets only fielded 3 new armies in September in the OTL. 2 of these went to Leningrad, which is not under threat in this ATL in September, so they would be sent to Moscow. Whether the 10th Army is deployed to Moscow depends on how well AGS is doing. But at a minimum, that leaves 12 Soviet armies for AGC to contend with after it has completed its initial encirclement at Vyazma in early September.
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 29 Apr 2021 06:12

HistoryLearner wrote:Why do you see this as a two Panzer Army Typhoon, however?
For a September 1 jumpoff having three PzGr's would mean moving Hoeppner's to AGC before Schlusselberg is taken.
History Learner wrote:Or, given the priority placed on the Moscow option at the expense of the flanks, AGN remains on the Luga Line while 4th Panzer Army is transferred South.
It's not my preferred option, as I'll explain more below. But I'm not exactly clear on what PzGr4 does around Moscow (or Velikiye Luki?) in your branch of the ATL, would you mind filling that out?
History Learner wrote:
29 Apr 2021 00:38
TheMarcksPlan wrote:There's still a Vyazma pocket.
True, but I don't see it taking longer as they were suggesting.
Assuming ATL Vyazma takes as long to reduce as OTL seems the reasonable (not the generous) assumption. If anything, force ratio is slightly better ATL than OTL around Vyazma (16 mechanized divisions committed instead of 12 against slightly weaker-than-October defenders).
History Learner wrote:we've already established 50th Army was destroyed by 2nd (Inf.) Army
As HG21 points out, the ATL I sketched has 2nd Army stretched along AGC's southern flank for early Vyazma, not fully east-facing as in October. So I don't see 50th Army being destroyed off the bat.

It won't last long, however, let me explain:

In my ATL, AGC doesn't charge headlong at Moscow after Vyazma - this is probably our primary point of disagreement. IMO that charge - necessarily by mechanized units alone - either wouldn't work or would surround Moscow too weakly to fend off counterattacks. Recall that AGC's truck logistics are worse in September than in July due to wear and that RKKA reserves would be stronger than July. A heedless pursuit operation seems at least risky. It's at least reasonable for HG21 to argue that it would fail; accordingly I wouldn't feel justified prognosticating ATL victory based on that heedless pursuit. Plus an ideal strategy would be to use the threat against Moscow strategically, as discussed more below. Taking the city cheaply removes the ideal German strategy and confers more flexibility on Stavka.

Rather than charge east, AGC would pause to allow the ID's and railheads to catch up. Mid-September would see flank operations northeastwards as in OTL towards Kalinin and southeastwards, the latter being unnecessary OTL as 2PzGr and 2 AOK had cleared the flank of what would otherwise have been a Vyazma salient. Here in the ATL, the Vyazma salient creates an opportunity to destroy 50th Army (and probably more), similarly to how Guderian used the Smolensk salient to destroy Soviet forces around Roslavl while clearing that portion of AGC's flank.
History Learner wrote:42nd and 55th Armies came online around Leningrad on September 1st, 54th Army ditto but on September 5th and then 4th Separate Army on September 26th and then 52nd Army on September 28th. All of these were on the Leningrad/Volkhov Front and gradually came into service over the course of September
This is exactly why I would leave PzGr4 with AGN: it ensures that any all-out defense of Moscow would forfeit Leningrad with two fronts destroyed (Lgrad and Volkhov) by a German-Finnish linkup on the Svir.

Let's suppose, arguendo, that HG21's suggestion of concentrating the above-listed armies around Moscow is feasible. If they are all there, it's probably feasible that they can defend a north-south line between the Oka and Volga west of Moscow. That prevents a tight encirclement of Moscow. What do the Germans do? Here's where my specification of ideal strategy comes in:

Ostheer uses the threat to Moscow to destroy practically all other RKKA field armies.

L'Grad and Volkhov fronts are destroyed by AGN pushing to the Svir.

In the South, HG21's Moscow focus allows AGS to carry out the two Kessels sketched in my OP (Kharkov and Voroshilovgrad).

In AGC's sector, let 4th/9th armies hold the front between the Volga and Oka rivers. Send PzGr3 north from Kalinin to link up with AGN and destroy Kalinin Front in the Valdai region (Halder was to advocate this approach too late in November). Send PzGr2 south to link up with 6th Army around Voronezh.

These additional Kessels - Kharkov, Voroshilovgrad, Leningrad/Ladoga, Valdai, and Voronezh - would be far worse for RKKA than losing Moscow, especially considering additional factors, such as:
  • Pacified Gulf of Finland improves German logistics in '42 and frees naval/air resources for the Med and/or British Isles (especially anti-shipping mines).
  • Loss of Voronezh and probably everything west of the Don with immense industrial, demographic, and agricultural resources.
  • Stemming from the above, a Stalingrad/Caucasus offensive stepping off from the Don with vastly improved rail logistics due to 6 more months of rehabilitation work.
  • Finland greatly relieved. It can either demob its army (improving ag/economic production and thereby reducing burden on Germany) or take Belomorsk. If Finnish army doesn't take it, redeployed AGN can do so in Spring or perhaps winter.
Of course if something like HG21's Moscow concentration doesn't happen, then the Germans probably take Moscow with an immense PoW haul and might take L'Grad anyway.

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At base the ideal strategy is ahistorical because it assumes German recognition that RKKA might possess the ability to check it locally via concentration, with attendant pivot to exploiting the weaknesses caused by local concentration. The German generals did not, of course, believe that RKKA could check it in any circumstances at this point - they had to learn that lesson the hard way.

The strategy would not be ahistorical as part of a broader narrative in which Hitler has ordered Barbarossa's conception with due respect for Soviet capabilities. As I've outlined in other ATL's, Hitler approached such recognition and competent analysis by Halder et. al. could easily have tipped into a sane strategic approach to fighting the world's largest country and army. As Hitler's generals were no less racist than him - just more polite about it - that didn't happen.

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HistoryGeek2021 wrote:XII and XIII Army corps weren't involved in the Vyazma pocket but were exploiting the hole in the Soviet lines to the south at Kaluga. In your ATL there wouldn't be such a hole
Which hole are you talking about? Not having the Bryansk element of Taifun has virtually zero impact on the breakthrough immediately south of the Smolensk-Moscow highway through which XII/XIII AK's proceeded. Stavka didn't even think Guderian was headed for Moscow until days into the battle - seemed too far (they were right of course).
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:Nevertheless, you're right that 10 km a day should be doable for the infantry divisions. The problem is that they would be covering the flanks of the German salient, and the panzer divisions would still likely find themselves stuck in the mud somewhere east of Moscow come mid-october. Getting supplies and reinforcements to the forwardmost units would be a challenge. Meanwhile the Soviets keep piling in new reserve armies, and come December the German salient is looking ready to be cut off.
This is the passage that motivated my comment about putting in the work. You've jumped 3 months in a small paragraph, scattering any intervening thoughts by TMP like PaK 36 shell shards on a KV1. As you can see above, I have many thoughts that directly address the assumptions underlying your 3-month lunge - haven't written even half of them. You could ask me what happens on the Vyazma salient's flanks, what my judgment on comparative logistics of OTL and ATL Taifun are (hint: getting supplies to the forwardmost units was also challenging while Ostheer scored the biggest-ever encirclements in OTL September/October), or any other number of clarifying questions. Or we could agree that neither of us wants to do that much work. No hard feelings either way.
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 29 Apr 2021 06:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 29 Apr 2021 06:31

HistoryGeek2021 wrote:There is no way that Schmidt's XXXIX Panzer Corps could be dispatched to AGN in mid-August and participate in a drive east of Smolensk on September 1. Likewise, there is no way that Kuntzen's LVII Panzer Corps could attack Velikiye Luki on August 22 and be ready for a major offensive 10 days later.
Correct. That's why Schmidt attacks Veliky Luki in mid-August while Kuntzen is free to counterattack Timoshenko (or not).
HistoryGeek2021 wrote:there is therefore no way that Leningrad falls in 1941 in this thread's ATL.
...unless RKKA needs to denude L'Grad to protect Moscow. Or unless, having been Kessel'd at Moscow (and Kharkov, Voroshilovgrad), RKKA lacks sufficient strength to hold off an AGN possessing all 6 of Hoeppner's original divisions in October/November.

My ATL's usually involve greater force destruction at Time A, causing a strength lapse at Time B. Here A is September and B is October/November.

I don't usually specify the absence of this or that army or division but the general concept seems indisputable. With more work, I could specify this or that division.
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 29 Apr 2021 07:35

HistoryGeek2021 wrote:According to Glant'z Barbarossa, 98,000 men escaped the Vyazma encirclement from 29th army and 33rd army.
Re the subject of ATL logistics, the escapees owed partially to OTL logistical problems in PzGr3. Here's Halder's KTB for example on Oct 5:
Armored Gp. 3, after being held up by lack of fuel, will not start moving again until this afternoon.
...so again it can't be emphasized enough that "good" or "bad" as descriptors have little meaning when evaluating logistical impact on combat operations. There wasn't a sharp break on Oct. 7 where German logistics went from good to bad; they struggled throughout Taifun and Barbarossa (as did Patton). The question is always to what extent logistics hampers combat operations, which is a question that can only be analyzed with reference to the panoply of battlefield factors such as opposed strength.
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