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.
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.
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.