If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalemate?

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KDF33
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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by KDF33 » 15 Nov 2021 08:04

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 04:21
I'm eagerly anticipating your German victory ATL with 1942 PoD.
That will take some time, but I will create a detailed thread when I can.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 04:21
The biggest obstacle I see is FDR pushing up D-Day into 1943 if SU is on the ropes - but still strong - when Casablanca happens.
I don't think Overlord was realistic in 1943 once Roosevelt committed himself to Torch on 07/30/1942. For a start, there were practically no U.S. forces in England until the conclusion of operations in Tunisia:

01/31/1943: 108,489 men, of which 19,431 ground troops
02/28/1943: 104,510 men, of which 19,173 ground troops
03/31/1943: 109,549 men, of which 19,205 ground troops
04/30/1943: 110,818 men, of which 19,184 ground troops

Source: Logistical Support of the Armies, Volume 1 (TABLE 3--TROOP BUILD-UP IN THE UNITED KINGDOM IN 1943)

It would have taken some time to transfer the forces from North Africa back to England, a transfer which could only have begun after mid-May. Perhaps a limited operation, with far weaker air support and intact German communication lines, could have been undertaken in the fall - but by then the Soviet Union would be a spent force, Mussolini would still be in power in Rome, and the Germans wouldn't need 700,000 men to garrison the Mediterranean littoral.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 04:21
I can see potentially successful German responses, such as Ostheer defending weakly and elastically in 1943 and while a strengthened Westheer seeks to crush the Allied expeditionary force. Don't know if that works though.
I don't think the Germans would need to defend in the East at all, elastically or otherwise: by the fall of 1943 the Soviet Union would be so weak that even significantly smaller forces could maintain an offensive posture.

As for the prospects of a landing, I think it might have been an opportunity for Germany to fight numerically inferior Anglo-American ground forces, in contested airspace and with functional German lines of communication.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 04:21
Even if not leading to Endsieg, alternate 1942 timelines are fascinating. Your suggestion that planning for Whirbelwind and Norlicht undercut Blau raises the issue of - can AG's North and South defend against the Soviet offensives in summer/fall '42 absent the forces envisioned for those offensives?
The forces from Heeresgruppe Süd (B/A) were limited:

-To Heeresgruppe Nord went the 24., 132. and 170. Infanterie-Divisionen, as well as the 28. Jäger-Division
-To Heeresgruppe Mitte went the 72. and 95. Infanterie-Divisionen, the Grossdeutschland, as well as the 9. and 11. Panzer-Divisionen (the latter didn't fight at Rzhev)

Ditching Blau and keeping a compact frontline would be enough to free up at least as many, and realistically more, formations.

Not marooning the minor Axis armies on the steppe in front of the Don would also open up interesting options: for instance, relieving German Gebirgs-Divisionen in the Arctic with the Italian Alpini, and sending the former down to the main front. Or relieving German divisions guarding the Oranienbaum bridgehead with Hungarian light infantry divisions.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 04:21
Maybe Ostheer abandons the Rzhev Salient in '42 and defends elastically everywhere but the critical AGS sector?
Better yet: don't make HGS the critical sector. Instead of extending the front while trying to do everything at once (i.e. taking the Caucasus, holding the Don/Volga front, liquidating Soviet forces in the Sukhinichi bulge and in Leningrad), attack in the south and roll up the Soviet armies up to Sukhinichi. Then either bag the forces between Rzhev and Demyansk or, if the Soviets still attack the 9. Armee, counter-attack them with your main body, then link-up with the 16. Armee at Demyansk.

Then do Leningrad with your main body in October, so you keep taking large numbers of prisoners even during the muddy season.

In effect, destroy Soviet formations and capture territory, but in a manner that reduces rather than increases the length of the front. That way, each successive, self-contained operation frees up more formations for the next offensive and/or to serve as mobile reserves. The Soviets don't benefit from the reduced frontage, because in their case their Army shrinks in unison with the frontage.

Also, spread the minor Axis divisions all along the front, mainly to relieve German formations holding the line in areas non-conducive to mobile warfare.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 04:21
I could see a situation developing in which Germany effectively stalemates RKKA somewhere between Donets and Don but Ostheer can't mount offensives.
I don't see that happening. My - clearly revisionist - view is that the USSR had, barring catastrophic German incompetence, lost the war when they threw away the opportunity to consolidate during the winter of 1941/42.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 04:21
Think the OTL July 1943 balance but Ostheer has the 20 or so extra divisions it would have needed to stalemate the post-Kursk offensives.
If the Germans play their cards right, the Soviets won't ever get to the July 1943 force balance - they won't even maintain the August 1942 force balance. The RKKA will steadily contract until the force balance is such that the Germans can do Barbarossa redux.

To bring some figures to this conversation, between 05/01/1942 and 08/01/1942 (i.e., the period of German annihilation battles) Soviet Army + Navy strength fell from 11,787,122 to 10,970,553, a loss of 816,569 personnel (7% of their strength) over a three-month period.

See the data here, to which must be added 569,000 Navy personnel.

Here's a table that tracks Soviet force evolution (and "inputs/outputs") during the critical period of spring 1942 - spring 1943:

Image

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 15 Nov 2021 10:34

KDF33 wrote:I don't think Overlord was realistic in 1943 once Roosevelt committed himself to Torch on 07/30/1942. For a start, there were practically no U.S. forces in England until the conclusion of operations in Tunisia:
Yes but there were plenty flowing to other theaters, primarily the Pacific. Below is a table of personnel shipped overseas in Army-controlled shipping. I've tabulated from October 1942 only on the assumption that US still fights it out on Guadalcanal. For North Africa shipments, I've included only shipments from April 1943 onwards. By then Armeegruppe Afrika was finished and April's shipments wouldn't have seen meaningful use in Tunisia.

Image
Source: Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-1943, App. E

If there's a red alert for Soviet survival, US can implement actual Europe first and probably ship 80% of these men to Britain (leaving room only for replacements elsewhere). That's ~400,000 or the in-theater slice of ~10 US divisions. US adopts a defensive stance in the Pacific, holding Guadalcanal but not moving up the Solomons ladder nor doing anything else offensive. FDR is running increased personal risk of MacArthur challenging him in 1944 but I believe (perhaps because I want to) that FDR was the kind of man who would run this risk if he thought the war depended on it (and he probably would so believe - see signature).

I've added a shipping factor - 2 for now - to translate the shipping used for these OTL deployments into an ETO equivalent. The Pacific required more than twice the shipping per man or ton, compared to UK. So now the US can probably move ~20 divisions to Britain by June 1943.

I'm not sure what the status of British divisions at home was in mid-43 but they probably have 10 ready to go?

There are other factors too, including the Battle of the Atlantic. The first escort carriers all went to the Pacific; Atlantic didn't get one until March '43 IIRC (I can look this stuff up again but just switched computers and don't have my notes atm). From How the War was Won, here's a table of USAAF combat aircraft as of March 1943, comparing "vs. Germany" and "vs. Japan."

Image

Take B-24's from the Pacific and put them in Iceland/UK/Newfoundland as VLR ASW planes. The table is for USAAF planes only; USN could have shifted PBY Catalinas to Iceland and Newfoundland as ASW craft as well. USN can shift some escorts from the now-reduced Pacific supply lines to the Atlantic. Between CVE's, more shore-based ASW, and more escorts, Allies now have even more shipping for BOLERO than in OTL (due to loss prevention). They can perhaps end the Battle of the Atlantic several months earlier.

-------------------------------------------

Note that I haven't altered Britain's overseas flows any - don't have sufficient data for that. Therefore it's probably possible in this "Red Alert Moscow" scenario to do Husky and some kind of landing in southern Italy (maybe not quite Salerno) simultaneously with Roundup. Most of the OTL Med forces are still there; I've only removed the later American flows. You need more landing craft to do France+Italy simultaneously but the US drastically curtailed its landing craft production in OTL late 1942. If they continue to ramp up through Spring '43 in this ATL, they can conceivably have >2x OTL's global landing capacity with 90% in Europe versus probably an even split OTL - perhaps >3x OTL July '43 landing capacity for European ops. Three of Husky is ~450k landing in a single day.

Resources for the landing craft ramp up can be taken from elsewhere, such as curtailing B-17 and warship production. Much of the resource shift isn't an actually a shift but rather keeping workers in their mid-'42 jobs producing landing craft, where they'd still be on a learning curve (because landing craft were produced in quantity for only a few months in 1942).

All this is related to a revisionist take that D-Day wasn't THAT big a deal - not from a national resources perspective. Yes, landing craft were the primary bottleneck on Allied actions in 1944 but only because the US refused to concentrate its amphibious strength and blew up its own landing craft program in 1942, only to reinvigorate it on an emergency basis in later 1943. Had the US wanted to, its landing potential could have dwarfed OTL.

------------------------------------------

Anyway, the above is part of ongoing research on "What if the US actually did Germany first and wanted to fight on land?" It's a work in progress, open to revision. It's highly speculative how the US/UK would have responded to a crisis in the East - maybe we didn't want to win that badly after all; maybe FDR would have faced opposition causing him to back down and keep the Pacific buildup going. But IMO it can't be ruled out that a better Ostheer performance in '42 would provoke an emergency Roundup that could have been formidable.

EDIT: A feasible trigger for "Red Alert Soviet Union" would have to be specified. Seems feasible to me that a sufficient trigger would be reports of Ostheer bagging many million PoW, taking Leningrad, threatening Moscow again, etc. The trigger's timeline impacts how much can be diverted from the Pacific and how much production diverted towards an emergency Roundup.

Of course if the below is correct then none of the above matters:
KDF33 wrote:I don't think the Germans would need to defend in the East at all, elastically or otherwise: by the fall of 1943 the Soviet Union would be so weak that even significantly smaller forces could maintain an offensive posture.
...I'm dodging that issue for now.
KDF33 wrote:As for the prospects of a landing, I think it might have been an opportunity for Germany to fight numerically inferior Anglo-American ground forces, in contested airspace and with functional German lines of communication.
By transferring some of the USAAF Pacific forces, plus some USN air forces, the Allies can probably establish air superiority - perhaps not supremacy - over the landing zone. Especially if in 1943 the defenses around Pas de Calais don't preclude landing there instead of Normandy. Now the Spitfires have decent dwell time over the beaches and even the USN's fighters can contribute from England (perhaps with pilots retrained from F4's to P-40's over the winter/spring). Plus if we win the Battle of the Atlantic earlier then 8th AF isn't bombing submarine pens in 1943, can pitch in to blast German communications. Bomber Command can be repurposed to do so as well (there'll be British howls but if FDR says it's that or we're shifting to the Pacific they'll probably comply).

Emergency Roundup would also involve more of the USN, which means its excellent AAA awaits the LW's response. Given the vulnerability of LW's primary torpedo bombers to flak (Ju-88's and He-111's are big targets), the smallish number of bombers that might get through to the invasion fleet may not have much impact. It'd be more like Sicily and Salerno, where LW did a lot more damage than over the Normandy landings but still not a level of damage operationally meaningful.
KDF33 wrote:each successive, self-contained operation frees up more formations for the next offensive and/or to serve as mobile reserves.
It's a potentially great idea; I just don't know how much precious campaigning time it eats up. Germany didn't begin serious investments in the Russian railways until May 1942 so we're probably stuck with something like 1941 capabilities. When shifting forces back from Leningrad for Taifun, IIRC, the railways only moved a few divisions while at least two others were forced to drive back and were materially hampered by wear and tear during Taifun.

Should we forego Stoerfang and just screen Sevastopol with some Romanians? That probably enables taking another bite out of RKKA elsewhere while positioning 11th Army nearer to its next employment.

If the rail-shifting constraint is quite large it would militate in favor of striking first in the center and then moving outwards on both flanks for the ensuing offensives, minimizing or eliminating the need for rail transfers.
KDF33 wrote:Also, spread the minor Axis divisions all along the front, mainly to relieve German formations holding the line in areas non-conducive to mobile warfare.
Absolutely.
KDF33 wrote:Here's a table that tracks Soviet force evolution (and "inputs/outputs") during the critical period of spring 1942 - spring 1943:
Thanks.

My gut reaction is we need to get RKKA down to something like 7 million by Spring '43 to create conditions wherein (1) Ostheer can be significantly weakened to crush an Allied landing and/or (2) a perhaps weaker Ostheer can go as far as reasonable logistical constraints allow. That seems a tough goal but could be possible with multiple reasonably-deep Kesselschlachten in 1942, and with Ostheer holding more of the territory from which RKKA recruited its OTL 1943 rolls.
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Peter89
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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Peter89 » 15 Nov 2021 12:11

stg 44 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 01:31
Peter89 wrote:
14 Nov 2021 20:46
I have a lot of problems with your opinion.
That's fine, I have quite a few with yours, but we can civilly agree to disagree.
Sure.
stg 44 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 01:31
Peter89 wrote:
14 Nov 2021 20:46
1.) Europe has certain strategic attributes that can not be ignored. She has a peculiar geography. She is actually a peninsula of the Eurasian continent that has more surface on its own peninsulas and islands than the core of the peninsula. Except Russia. Because Russia is bigger than the rest of it combined. Also it is not Eurasia. It is the Eurasian-African supercontinent. Russia wants to take the chokepoints to access the supercontinent. Russia can't do that. We have extremely strong national identities. We are used to die for these identities when circumstances demand it. This is paradoxical as no nationality can rule the rest, but together, even if in competition, the Europeans have conquered the world. Etc. In your analysis, you only care about hard power. It is inadequate to explain why Germany could or couldn't rule Europe.
You're overly fixated on generalities rather than the specifics of the situation in question.
In order to address the plausability of the alternate situation in question, I had to address generalities. In 1943/1944, the Germans stationed an army group's worth of soldiers and matériel on Europe's peninsulas to fend off the Allied attacks. This implied a drain of Germany's main efforts, for example, on the hypothetical D-D line. At every major peninsula of Europe, the Allies planned an invasion, and the Germans anticipated an invasion. For example, against an Allied landing in Portugal, the Germans wanted to use 10-12 divisions to counter it.

Another army's worth was essentially policing Germany's allies and countries. The Americans did not need 5 divisions to keep Detroit on the Allied side, and the British did not need to keep 5 divisions in Canada to prevent it from changing sides. Welsh miners did not sabotage the production to see Britain's defeat, etc. So yes, it was important that the German rule was unpopular in Europe. Just as the strong national identities.
stg 44 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 01:31
Plus you ignored the reality that the public generally sided with the one that appeared to be winning rather than being motivated by specific animosity to one side or the other.
Not really.

France did not ally herself with Germany even though together they could probably beat Britain. Hungary was motivated by retaining its elite and the reconquer of its former territories. Etc. They sided with the power which would promise them what they want after a victory, not the side whose victory they could not profit from. For example, Hungary did not join the Soviets in 1944, but why? Because her elites knew that a Soviet victory and defeat by Germany's side is the same thing for them. No minor country was purely motivated by victory - they were motivated by potential gains and losses.
stg 44 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 01:31
The USSR had to execute something like 200,000 of its own soldiers to motivate them to fight:
http://euromaidanpress.com/2018/05/15/s ... rman-ones/
Doesn't seem like that 'strong national identity' was as motivating as you think. Plus you're also ignoring the million + Soviets that served in the German army during the war.
The Soviet people is NOT a nation. There are Estonians, Latvians, Georgians, Armenians, Ukrianians, Tatars, Russians, etc. Some of them were interested in a Soviet defeat.

Also in Yugoslavia, which isn't a nation: there were chetniks, ustahas, siptars, etc. They killed each other as well as Germans.

Btw I hate this word in English (nation), it does not describe reality. The population of X country is not X nation. I know it is used as if these were synonyms - but they shouldn't be.
stg 44 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 01:31
IOTL yes, but again we're talking about an ATL where the German leadership makes different decisions in time to avoid disaster.
The Italian front was really going nowhere fast, so citing that as an example of a successful operation is ignoring the major drain it represented to Allied resources.
The Hungarians fought to the bitter end on the German side, it was Horthy who was trying to save his own ass by trying to flip sides and did so so stupidly the Germans were able to easily replace him and the army fought the Soviets until the end.
The Portuguese were allied to the British for hundreds of years, so it is hardly surprising they'd make such an offer, especially when concerned about Spanish entry into the war and annexation.
I try to follow your logic and imagine a rational actor model for German leadership. Which is not Hitler & co., because their personalities would spell disaster whatever we imagine.

In this scenario, gaining influence - let alone total control - could not be done in 5-6 years. But it would not end in a disaster either. Germany is the leading power of Europe now, without firing a shot. I would probably stop at a military force that is capable to defend Germany against anyone but the colonial empires, then I'd wait for the fall of those.

What you don't seem to realize about national identities is that they are ideas, not actual institutions or states. And we didn't even scratch class identities, which was all too important for many petty dictators like Horthy.

stg 44 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 01:31
Production disparities didn't matter as much as you think due to loss disparities and the need of the allies to actually ship their divisions and equipment across oceans. Doesn't matter what is in the depot if you can't get it to the battlefield.
Okay, so please share your thoughts with me.

How is it possible, in your opinion, that a timely retreat to the Panther-Wotan line can inflict such losses on the Allies that they can not sustain anymore? What kill / loss ratio do you think necessary to absorb the production disparity in 1944? And sure, let's not talk about the aircrafts, tanks, men, etc. who remained in the US, just about those which arrived to Europe. And of course, what forces were needed to achieve this?
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Peter89 » 15 Nov 2021 12:20

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 02:43
Only if they're all jointly necessary does Axis defeat entail them all. Joint necessity, however, implies that the Axis could have overcome, say, "strategic ineptitude, economic inferiority, bad leadership, and poor choices" but not those factors plus "terrible diplomacy."
That is exactly what I am talking about.

A multitude of interrelated, sometimes sequential and always differently weighted factors led to German defeat.

In my opinion, the most important factor was the HR: the quality and ideology of German leadership. Although, it could be mitigated by many other factors. Then, material inferiority was the second most important. Etc etc
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by KDF33 » 15 Nov 2021 20:23

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
Anyway, the above is part of ongoing research on "What if the US actually did Germany first and wanted to fight on land?" It's a work in progress, open to revision. It's highly speculative how the US/UK would have responded to a crisis in the East - maybe we didn't want to win that badly after all; maybe FDR would have faced opposition causing him to back down and keep the Pacific buildup going. But IMO it can't be ruled out that a better Ostheer performance in '42 would provoke an emergency Roundup that could have been formidable.
I won't address this immediately because I haven't given it as much thought as a notional competent German offensive for 1942. For now, I'll just say that I'm open to the possibility that I underestimate Allied prospects for a strong landing in 1943.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
EDIT: A feasible trigger for "Red Alert Soviet Union" would have to be specified. Seems feasible to me that a sufficient trigger would be reports of Ostheer bagging many million PoW, taking Leningrad, threatening Moscow again, etc. The trigger's timeline impacts how much can be diverted from the Pacific and how much production diverted towards an emergency Roundup.
Given that RKKA attrition would be a gradual process, I don't know that there would be a clear trigger. Maybe the fall of Leningrad in the autumn? But then, historically the Germans breaking the Soviets in the south on a broad front in July 1942 didn't even lead to a refocus away from the Pacific.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
It's a potentially great idea; I just don't know how much precious campaigning time it eats up. Germany didn't begin serious investments in the Russian railways until May 1942 so we're probably stuck with something like 1941 capabilities. When shifting forces back from Leningrad for Taifun, IIRC, the railways only moved a few divisions while at least two others were forced to drive back and were materially hampered by wear and tear during Taifun.

[...]

If the rail-shifting constraint is quite large it would militate in favor of striking first in the center and then moving outwards on both flanks for the ensuing offensives, minimizing or eliminating the need for rail transfers.
Units wouldn't (mainly) transfer via railways. Germans would start Blau as per the OTL, save for the mobile units allocated to 1. Panzerarmee and 17. Armee - the latter would instead jump-off from Orel as part of 2. Panzerarmee. They would wheel north instead of south, and then do every Kessel in sequence south-to-north. Here's a map:

Image

The territory shaded in grey is the portion of OTL Blau that wouldn't happen.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
Should we forego Stoerfang and just screen Sevastopol with some Romanians? That probably enables taking another bite out of RKKA elsewhere while positioning 11th Army nearer to its next employment.
I'd still do Störfang - 100,000 POW while clearing your rear is IMO worth it. Liquidating Sevastopol would also ultimately free up more units than just screening it.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
My gut reaction is we need to get RKKA down to something like 7 million by Spring '43 (...). That seems a tough goal but could be possible with multiple reasonably-deep Kesselschlachten in 1942, and with Ostheer holding more of the territory from which RKKA recruited its OTL 1943 rolls.
I don't think it would be that difficult. Soviet strength shrank by 816,569 personnel in May - July, and we have 3 more three-month periods until spring 1943 (August - October for my proposed operations, then November - January and February - April). By merely applying the same rate of contraction total Soviet strength would be down to 8,520,846 on May 1st. But then as the balance-of-force swings further and further in favor of the Axis, we can reasonably expect Soviet casualties to increase, and therefore shrinkage to speed up.

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Peter89 » 15 Nov 2021 22:04

KDF33 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 20:23
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
Anyway, the above is part of ongoing research on "What if the US actually did Germany first and wanted to fight on land?" It's a work in progress, open to revision. It's highly speculative how the US/UK would have responded to a crisis in the East - maybe we didn't want to win that badly after all; maybe FDR would have faced opposition causing him to back down and keep the Pacific buildup going. But IMO it can't be ruled out that a better Ostheer performance in '42 would provoke an emergency Roundup that could have been formidable.
I won't address this immediately because I haven't given it as much thought as a notional competent German offensive for 1942. For now, I'll just say that I'm open to the possibility that I underestimate Allied prospects for a strong landing in 1943.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
EDIT: A feasible trigger for "Red Alert Soviet Union" would have to be specified. Seems feasible to me that a sufficient trigger would be reports of Ostheer bagging many million PoW, taking Leningrad, threatening Moscow again, etc. The trigger's timeline impacts how much can be diverted from the Pacific and how much production diverted towards an emergency Roundup.
Given that RKKA attrition would be a gradual process, I don't know that there would be a clear trigger. Maybe the fall of Leningrad in the autumn? But then, historically the Germans breaking the Soviets in the south on a broad front in July 1942 didn't even lead to a refocus away from the Pacific.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
It's a potentially great idea; I just don't know how much precious campaigning time it eats up. Germany didn't begin serious investments in the Russian railways until May 1942 so we're probably stuck with something like 1941 capabilities. When shifting forces back from Leningrad for Taifun, IIRC, the railways only moved a few divisions while at least two others were forced to drive back and were materially hampered by wear and tear during Taifun.

[...]

If the rail-shifting constraint is quite large it would militate in favor of striking first in the center and then moving outwards on both flanks for the ensuing offensives, minimizing or eliminating the need for rail transfers.
Units wouldn't (mainly) transfer via railways. Germans would start Blau as per the OTL, save for the mobile units allocated to 1. Panzerarmee and 17. Armee - the latter would instead jump-off from Orel as part of 2. Panzerarmee. They would wheel north instead of south, and then do every Kessel in sequence south-to-north. Here's a map:

Image

The territory shaded in grey is the portion of OTL Blau that wouldn't happen.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
Should we forego Stoerfang and just screen Sevastopol with some Romanians? That probably enables taking another bite out of RKKA elsewhere while positioning 11th Army nearer to its next employment.
I'd still do Störfang - 100,000 POW while clearing your rear is IMO worth it. Liquidating Sevastopol would also ultimately free up more units than just screening it.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
My gut reaction is we need to get RKKA down to something like 7 million by Spring '43 (...). That seems a tough goal but could be possible with multiple reasonably-deep Kesselschlachten in 1942, and with Ostheer holding more of the territory from which RKKA recruited its OTL 1943 rolls.
I don't think it would be that difficult. Soviet strength shrank by 816,569 personnel in May - July, and we have 3 more three-month periods until spring 1943 (August - October for my proposed operations, then November - January and February - April). By merely applying the same rate of contraction total Soviet strength would be down to 8,520,846 on May 1st. But then as the balance-of-force swings further and further in favor of the Axis, we can reasonably expect Soviet casualties to increase, and therefore shrinkage to speed up.
1.) A premature Wallied landing in France was Germany's last best hope to score a critical blow to the Allies. Douglas Porch describes this phenomenon pretty nicely, and Rob Citino makes roughly the same point.

2.) The map you showed was essentially impossible because it would involve the defeat most of the RKKA. Was it possible, it shouldn't be as timid territorially as you painted. In reality, the Soviets were able to start offensives in the summer everywhere except in the south where they retreated. The strength of the Soviet attacks ate up the whole offensive capacity of the AGN/AGM, boosted by the 11. Armee. It was the Wehrmacht that was kept hammered by Soviet attacks, not the other way around. In november, they were able to start offensives against all three army groups. The Germans were nowhere near that capacity. Maybe, if they evacuate Africa during the winter crisis of 1941/1942 and start 1942 with those extra units, they might achieve some of the goals you imagined, but definately not this much.

3.) To say something good about your theory, if the Germans don't move far from their line in 1942, their combat readiness would improve or at least it would not decrease as fast as in OTL. Thus, instead of wasting their limited power on relocation, they could be much more effective near their more permanent bases.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Peter89 » 15 Nov 2021 22:05

KDF33 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 20:23
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
Anyway, the above is part of ongoing research on "What if the US actually did Germany first and wanted to fight on land?" It's a work in progress, open to revision. It's highly speculative how the US/UK would have responded to a crisis in the East - maybe we didn't want to win that badly after all; maybe FDR would have faced opposition causing him to back down and keep the Pacific buildup going. But IMO it can't be ruled out that a better Ostheer performance in '42 would provoke an emergency Roundup that could have been formidable.
I won't address this immediately because I haven't given it as much thought as a notional competent German offensive for 1942. For now, I'll just say that I'm open to the possibility that I underestimate Allied prospects for a strong landing in 1943.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
EDIT: A feasible trigger for "Red Alert Soviet Union" would have to be specified. Seems feasible to me that a sufficient trigger would be reports of Ostheer bagging many million PoW, taking Leningrad, threatening Moscow again, etc. The trigger's timeline impacts how much can be diverted from the Pacific and how much production diverted towards an emergency Roundup.
Given that RKKA attrition would be a gradual process, I don't know that there would be a clear trigger. Maybe the fall of Leningrad in the autumn? But then, historically the Germans breaking the Soviets in the south on a broad front in July 1942 didn't even lead to a refocus away from the Pacific.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
It's a potentially great idea; I just don't know how much precious campaigning time it eats up. Germany didn't begin serious investments in the Russian railways until May 1942 so we're probably stuck with something like 1941 capabilities. When shifting forces back from Leningrad for Taifun, IIRC, the railways only moved a few divisions while at least two others were forced to drive back and were materially hampered by wear and tear during Taifun.

[...]

If the rail-shifting constraint is quite large it would militate in favor of striking first in the center and then moving outwards on both flanks for the ensuing offensives, minimizing or eliminating the need for rail transfers.
Units wouldn't (mainly) transfer via railways. Germans would start Blau as per the OTL, save for the mobile units allocated to 1. Panzerarmee and 17. Armee - the latter would instead jump-off from Orel as part of 2. Panzerarmee. They would wheel north instead of south, and then do every Kessel in sequence south-to-north. Here's a map:

Image

The territory shaded in grey is the portion of OTL Blau that wouldn't happen.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
Should we forego Stoerfang and just screen Sevastopol with some Romanians? That probably enables taking another bite out of RKKA elsewhere while positioning 11th Army nearer to its next employment.
I'd still do Störfang - 100,000 POW while clearing your rear is IMO worth it. Liquidating Sevastopol would also ultimately free up more units than just screening it.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
15 Nov 2021 10:34
My gut reaction is we need to get RKKA down to something like 7 million by Spring '43 (...). That seems a tough goal but could be possible with multiple reasonably-deep Kesselschlachten in 1942, and with Ostheer holding more of the territory from which RKKA recruited its OTL 1943 rolls.
I don't think it would be that difficult. Soviet strength shrank by 816,569 personnel in May - July, and we have 3 more three-month periods until spring 1943 (August - October for my proposed operations, then November - January and February - April). By merely applying the same rate of contraction total Soviet strength would be down to 8,520,846 on May 1st. But then as the balance-of-force swings further and further in favor of the Axis, we can reasonably expect Soviet casualties to increase, and therefore shrinkage to speed up.
1.) A premature Wallied landing in France was Germany's last best hope to score a critical blow to the Allies. Douglas Porch describes this phenomenon pretty nicely, and Rob Citino makes roughly the same point.

2.) The map you showed was essentially impossible because it would involve the defeat most of the RKKA. Was it possible, it shouldn't be as timid territorially as you painted. In reality, the Soviets were able to start offensives in the summer everywhere except in the south where they retreated. The strength of the Soviet attacks ate up the whole offensive capacity of the AGN/AGM, boosted by the 11. Armee. It was the Wehrmacht that was kept hammered by Soviet attacks, not the other way around. In november, they were able to start offensives against all three army groups. The Germans were nowhere near that capacity. Maybe, if they evacuate Africa during the winter crisis of 1941/1942 and start 1942 with those extra units, they might achieve some of the goals you imagined, but definately not this much.

3.) To say something good about your theory, if the Germans don't move far from their line in 1942, their combat readiness would improve or at least it would not decrease as fast as in OTL. Thus, instead of wasting their limited power on relocation, they could be much more effective near their more permanent bases.
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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Nov 2021 02:42

KDF33 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 20:23
I don't think it would be that difficult. Soviet strength shrank by 816,569 personnel in May - July, and we have 3 more three-month periods until spring 1943 (August - October for my proposed operations, then November - January and February - April).
That's a game-changer. It should be obvious that Ostheer advances were limited to summer/fall only by coincidence but I hadn't been thinking in those terms (even though I do in my own ATL which includes '41-'42 winter offensives).

One great virtue is it displaces a potential trigger for Emergency Roundup into winter '43, which either displaces that operation into Fall - by which time SU is feasibly too far gone - or forces a weak Roundup that can be easily contained or catastrophically destroyed.

The critical operation (using English names for map colors to avoid confusion) is Blue. There you're pivoting 2nd and 4Pz armies into the teeth of the strong forces that attacked the Voronezh "shoulder" in July. The left encircling arm from Orel is attacking into what I think were fairly dense OTL Soviet forces but you'll know better than I do. If Ostheer can break through and encircle these armies it's a game changer. Can they? Not sure. OTL Blau's southern mechanized forces, which you've moved to north of Orel, might not be sufficient. You could transfer some of AGC's units but that makes the Sukhinichi stage your [/i]Blue[/i] more difficult. It's at least feasible though.

On the map below a minor suggested revision or question: The Leningrad operation ("Red") crosses the Neva to link up with the Finns. One problem is Finland wouldn't budge here. I've drawn up "Big Red," basically the OTL 1941 Tikhvin operation. That bags Volkhov Front along with Leningrad. Seems feasible if that's Ostheer's entire offensive focus in September/October.

Then in winter you'd want to grab at least the eastern portions of the greater Donbas that Blau II took - Operation Pink.

Image

Stalin probably concentrates forces to defend Moscow, in which case the best German move is probably to destroy RKKA in detail elsewhere. I've roughly sketched the Valdai Hills encirclement that Halder advocated at one point during late fall 1941. Other opportunities would arise with RKKA heavily concentrated to defend Moscow. Or maybe you push on the city itself.
KDF33 wrote:For now, I'll just say that I'm open to the possibility that I underestimate Allied prospects for a strong landing in 1943.
It's speculative but FDR seems pretty clear about his grand strategic priorities. Here's a quote I remember, reproduced in a random secondary source and found via Google:
Nothing could be worse than to have the Russians collapse. I would rather lose Australia, New Zealand, or anything else than to have the Russians collapse.
As you note, however, it's hard to pinpoint an early trigger in your ATL in which FDR fundamentally rearranges US policy in time to prevent Soviet collapse. It could be Leningrad but feasibly the city wouldn't surrender until January or February after being cut off by Big or Little Red.

-------------------------------------------

What's your ideal move in response to Torch, btw? Reinforcing Africa cost the Heer but bought six very valuable months. Perhaps the optimal strategy is to reinforce as in OTL, then do Kasserine, then begin evacuations when the Americans are still in shock from that battle - perhaps covered by a surge of LW forces from an Eastern Front that isn't in crisis. Having taken Leningrad also frees up KM resources such as mines and maybe E-boats that make it easier to deadzone the Sicilian narrows during the evacuations. You also haven't lost so many transports supplying Stalingrad so maybe can evacuate most of the personnel via air in conjunction with a LW surge.
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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by KDF33 » 16 Nov 2021 03:26

Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 22:05
2.) The map you showed was essentially impossible because it would involve the defeat most of the RKKA. Was it possible, it shouldn't be as timid territorially as you painted.
I would rather argue that my map presents a step-by-step process by which the Ostheer could defeat in detail a significant portion of the RKKA.
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 22:05
In reality, the Soviets were able to start offensives in the summer everywhere except in the south where they retreated.
This would be more-or-less correct for summer 1943, but this was far from the case in summer 1942. Here is the full list of Soviet offensive operations against HGN/HGM for the 3rd quarter of 1942:

1. 16th and 61st Armies against elements of 2. Panzerarmee in front of Sukhinichi, 07/05/1942 - 07/12/1942
2. Northwestern Front against 16. Armee, 07/17/1942 - 07/24/1942
3. 30th, 29th, 31st and 20th Armies against 9. Armee around Rzhev, 07/30/1942 - 10/01/1942
4. 5th and 33rd Armies against 3. Panzerarmee in front of Vyazma, 08/07/1942 - 09/10/1942
5. Northwestern Front against 16. Armee (2nd try), 08/10/1942 - 08/24/1942
6. 67th, 2nd Shock and 8th Armies against elements of 18. Armee and 11. Armee, 08/19/1942 - 10/10/1942
7. 16th, 3rd Tank and 61st Armies against elements of 2. Panzerarmee in front of Sukhinichi (counter-attack), 08/22/1942 - 09/09/1942
8. Northwestern Front against 16. Armee (3rd try), 09/15/1942 - 09/28/1942
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 22:05
The strength of the Soviet attacks ate up the whole offensive capacity of the AGN/AGM, boosted by the 11. Armee.
A few points:

1. The Germans also attacked in the area of HGN/HGM, with Seydlitz (07/02/1942 - 07/12/1942), Wirbelwind (08/11/1942 - 08/22/1942), Winkelried (09/27/1942 - 10/09/1942) and Manstein's counter-offensive at Sinyavino (09/21/1942 - 10/02/1942).
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 22:05
It was the Wehrmacht that was kept hammered by Soviet attacks, not the other way around.
The Soviets impaled themselves on the German defenses and barely achieved anything.

Strength of the Kalinin and Western Fronts, 07/01/1942: 1,830,900 in 123 divisions
Strength of the Kalinin and Western Fronts, 10/07/1942: 1,450,000 in 122 divisions
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 22:05
In november, they were able to start offensives against all three army groups.
The Soviets recuperated during the lull in the fighting between October and mid-November. Here's a strength comparison for active ground forces:

07/01/1942: 5,275,000
10/07/1942: 4,925,000
11/19/1942: 5,775,000

Here are Soviet combat casualties:

07 - 09/1942: 2,248,003 / 92 days = 24,435 daily
10 - 11/1942: 668,220 / 61 days = 10,954 daily (45% of previous period)

October - November figure includes comparatively high losses for 11/19/1942 - 11/30/1942.

2. German strength increased over the summer and fall in the HGN/HGM area:

German Ist. strength (Heer only), HGN/HGM, 6 armies + LIX. A.K., 07/1942: 1,360,544 in 97 divisions
German Ist. strength (Heer only), HGN/HGM, 6 armies + LIX. A.K., 11/1942: 1,414,148 in 105 divisions
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 22:05
The Germans were nowhere near that capacity.
The situation for the Germans and the Soviets was similar: they could concentrate and attack on some sectors of the front, at the cost of defending elsewhere. The difference, apart from their respective casualty rates, was that the Germans were able to break through to operational depths, whereas the Soviets seldom did beyond the tactical level.

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Nov 2021 07:01

EDIT - just realized this is a wall of text. Apologies. I'm at the gym and am procrastinating, didn't mean to write so much.

--------------------------------

I realize KDF33 is still in the process of developing this ATL so let's not hold him tightly to this or that specific plan. With the proviso that Ostheer needs to be able to execute a big Kesselschlacht on the southern fringe of the central sector following OTL Blau I (ATL Green), there's something cooking. And there are probably other viable operational schemes on the general theme of repeatedly encircling Soviet forces while not overextending (though this is the best I've seen so far). ATL Blue looks like 2 or even 3 successive encirclements: first with pincers from around Voronezh and Orel, next with pincers heading northwards towards Tula, then a doubling back towards a new salient that includes Sukhinichi. Taking/threatening Tula would, as in OTL, cause the coalfields and heavy industry there to shut down as in OTL 1941 - a big factor that goes a long way towards offsetting the ATL's leaving eastern Donbas in Soviet hands for at least several months more.

Looking farther ahead - no need to answer now - I'd wonder about dealing with the Western Allies. Here let's assume Ostheer doesn't trigger emergency Roundup and everything goes as in OTL in the Med (subject of course to KDF33's revisions on points I'm not foreseeing). I'd want to know the endgame in the East but for now I'll posit KDF33 envisions something attaining the A-A line by Fall 1943? And let's assume that's inclusive of Baku.

The SU is in catastrophic shape then. No domestic oil (Second Baku around Kazan is occupied or bombed tactically), nearly all good croplands gone, population shrunken to perhaps 70mil. But is there still an Eastern Front that ties down significant resources or is the SU starved out and/or politically collapsed? Either seems feasible/likely absent massive Allied food and fuel aid. Such aid might be possible if the Wallies prioritize shipping that aid over things like Operation Cartwheel. If the SU hasn't collapsed it might keep ~3mil men in the field somewhere between the Volga and Urals? How weak is it willing to be against Japan and would Japan move at all in 1943? Japan could constrict possibilities for emergency amplification of Lend Lease. Maybe it doesn't even attack - Japan just announces a ban on Allied goods to Vladivostok because it no longer fears a Soviet response and urgently wants Germany and SU to stop fighting. Does the SU make a peace that Hitler would accept at that point? I.e. giving up at least Baku, Ukraine, and the Baltic?

Let's say that the SU does make peace in late 1943. That looks pretty good for Germany. They've lost a lot men in the East but their army is still far stronger than the Wallies, who can't invade France any time soon. They probably can't hold in mainland Italy once Germany reinforces there. Germany probably can't retake Sicily, however, and the Allies can probably pick off places like Crete and other Aegean Islands. Maybe Norway with Pacific Fleet's carriers providing air cover. One problem for Germany - perhaps it's not decisive - is that I don't see how they can turn towards air production and (perhaps more critically) pilot training in time to stop the Combined Bomber Offensive. If that's true - if the LW still collapses around mid-1944 - then eventually the Allies will settle on bombing that actually works such as the Oil Campaign (now expanded to include Baku). That would preclude LW recovery as they won't be able to train sufficient pilots no matter how many aircraft they produce.

These are arguments that people make against my ATL and in superficial, conclusory ways that annoy me to end (Allies would just destroy everything from the air!). I think I have a conclusive answer: among other factors, Germany switches to aircraft and pilot training from 1942 on an expanded industrial base due to more foreign labor, smaller army, etc. I want to be clear that this same answer may work here but KDF33's challenge is harder given the timing (again my ATL is straightforwardly easy). Germany's synthgas production may relocate to the Donbas, for instance, where the Wallies can't hit it. If Second Baku's oil is of sufficient quality, it can be refined into avgas as well but with mid-1943 capture this isn't a factor until mid-1944. Allies probably can't bomb Second Baku either.

Even if we assume a very successful ATL CBO against KDF's expanded Grossraum and still-hobbled LW, however, somebody needs to shoot Hitler. That requires building at least 100 more American army divisions (200?), which means at least 5mil soldiers, which means significant cuts in total Allied war production and new demands for army production (therefore massive cuts to aircraft and/or shipbuilding). So probably "successful CBO" and a sufficiently large army can't both be achieved.

So far I think it's a matter of whether the US stays in this war long enough to use A-bombs on Germany. If the Wallies are pounding Germany from the air and nibbling at the edges of Europe throughout 1944 perhaps there's enough pubic support - enough hope of eventual victory - that the war lasts into Summer 1945 and ends in nuclear devastation of Germany (stretching well into 1946).

That's similar to the envisioned end state in my ATL except that Germany is overrunning the MidEast and North Africa, has stopped the CBO, can at least somewhat credibly threaten Sealion. In that case I don't see the war lasting into the nuclear age. Here it's more open to question.

There's also the chance that Germany can deter A-bombs by the implicit threat of chemical/bio WMD against Britain. That's harder if the LW has been dominated but the V-weapons still present a feasible - albeit range-limited - delivery system.

--------------------------------------

Just thinking out loud. I've skipped far ahead and have certainly overrun points KDF will make later - don't mind if later is 2025. Thanks for the discussion.
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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Peter89 » 16 Nov 2021 07:22

KDF33 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 03:26
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 22:05
2.) The map you showed was essentially impossible because it would involve the defeat most of the RKKA. Was it possible, it shouldn't be as timid territorially as you painted.
I would rather argue that my map presents a step-by-step process by which the Ostheer could defeat in detail a significant portion of the RKKA.
Yes, I saw the dates on it. However, I doubt that was possible for the Germans. Let's not forget that their summer campaign in 1942, although impressive territorially, was basically against very weak Soviet forces.

The Wehrmacht simply did not have the means to do this, and it was in need of recuperation and reinforcements. What I see realistic is the clearing of the Crimea, securing the Don bend and following its line up until Voronezh, and then make a series of smaller operations to improve the Rhzev salient's position.

Also, retaining the Demyansk pocket made no sense. Maybe with these extra troops the Germans might try to take Leningrad, but I seriously doubt that it would either succeed or it would improve the AGN's strength after the bloodletting.
KDF33 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 03:26
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 22:05
In reality, the Soviets were able to start offensives in the summer everywhere except in the south where they retreated.
This would be more-or-less correct for summer 1943, but this was far from the case in summer 1942. Here is the full list of Soviet offensive operations against HGN/HGM for the 3rd quarter of 1942:

1. 16th and 61st Armies against elements of 2. Panzerarmee in front of Sukhinichi, 07/05/1942 - 07/12/1942
2. Northwestern Front against 16. Armee, 07/17/1942 - 07/24/1942
3. 30th, 29th, 31st and 20th Armies against 9. Armee around Rzhev, 07/30/1942 - 10/01/1942
4. 5th and 33rd Armies against 3. Panzerarmee in front of Vyazma, 08/07/1942 - 09/10/1942
5. Northwestern Front against 16. Armee (2nd try), 08/10/1942 - 08/24/1942
6. 67th, 2nd Shock and 8th Armies against elements of 18. Armee and 11. Armee, 08/19/1942 - 10/10/1942
7. 16th, 3rd Tank and 61st Armies against elements of 2. Panzerarmee in front of Sukhinichi (counter-attack), 08/22/1942 - 09/09/1942
8. Northwestern Front against 16. Armee (3rd try), 09/15/1942 - 09/28/1942
? What are you arguing with exactly? In other words, both the AGN and the AGM was under attack on the army group level both in the august and in november. Eg. Operation Mars was at least as strong of an attack as Operation Uranus. The reason why Soviet success came in the south is the AGS overextended and indefensible position.
KDF33 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 03:26
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 22:05
The strength of the Soviet attacks ate up the whole offensive capacity of the AGN/AGM, boosted by the 11. Armee.
A few points:

1. The Germans also attacked in the area of HGN/HGM, with Seydlitz (07/02/1942 - 07/12/1942), Wirbelwind (08/11/1942 - 08/22/1942), Winkelried (09/27/1942 - 10/09/1942) and Manstein's counter-offensive at Sinyavino (09/21/1942 - 10/02/1942).
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 22:05
It was the Wehrmacht that was kept hammered by Soviet attacks, not the other way around.
The Soviets impaled themselves on the German defenses and barely achieved anything.

Strength of the Kalinin and Western Fronts, 07/01/1942: 1,830,900 in 123 divisions
Strength of the Kalinin and Western Fronts, 10/07/1942: 1,450,000 in 122 divisions
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 22:05
In november, they were able to start offensives against all three army groups.
The Soviets recuperated during the lull in the fighting between October and mid-November. Here's a strength comparison for active ground forces:

07/01/1942: 5,275,000
10/07/1942: 4,925,000
11/19/1942: 5,775,000

Here are Soviet combat casualties:

07 - 09/1942: 2,248,003 / 92 days = 24,435 daily
10 - 11/1942: 668,220 / 61 days = 10,954 daily (45% of previous period)

October - November figure includes comparatively high losses for 11/19/1942 - 11/30/1942.

2. German strength increased over the summer and fall in the HGN/HGM area:

German Ist. strength (Heer only), HGN/HGM, 6 armies + LIX. A.K., 07/1942: 1,360,544 in 97 divisions
German Ist. strength (Heer only), HGN/HGM, 6 armies + LIX. A.K., 11/1942: 1,414,148 in 105 divisions
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 22:05
The Germans were nowhere near that capacity.
The situation for the Germans and the Soviets was similar: they could concentrate and attack on some sectors of the front, at the cost of defending elsewhere. The difference, apart from their respective casualty rates, was that the Germans were able to break through to operational depths, whereas the Soviets seldom did beyond the tactical level.
I disagree with your final assessment, mostly because it is not reflected in facts. The Soviets usually attacked on multiple sectors at once to saturate the defenses and divide reinforcements and mobile reserves.

In the summer there were:
First Rhzev-Sychovka offensive operation july 30
Third Sinyavino offensive operation august 19

In the winter there were:
Operation Uranus november 19
Operation Mars november 25 (including Velikiye Luki encirclement)
Operation Iskra january 12

Each of the winter operations involved over 20 divisions.
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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by KDF33 » 16 Nov 2021 08:08

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 02:42
That's a game-changer. It should be obvious that Ostheer advances were limited to summer/fall only by coincidence but I hadn't been thinking in those terms (even though I do in my own ATL which includes '41-'42 winter offensives).
Yes. The Germans cannot waste any season, and they are perfectly capable of offensive action during winter.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 02:42
The critical operation (using English names for map colors to avoid confusion) is Blue. There you're pivoting 2nd and 4Pz armies into the teeth of the strong forces that attacked the Voronezh "shoulder" in July.
Those forces are no longer very strong by the time the pivot happens. The Soviets committed a total of 10 tank corps to the battle of Voronezh (1st, 2nd, 4th, 7th, 11th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 24th, 25th), almost half of the RKKA's total of 22 tank corps on July 1st (not just at the front - everywhere across the entire force).

I have tank strength returns for five of them:

2nd Tank Corps: Starts with 183, 55 remain on 07/17, of which just 34 are serviceable
7th Tank Corps: Starts with 212, 107 remain on 07/17, of which just 45 are serviceable
11th Tank Corps: Starts with 181, 105 remain on 07/17, of which just 44 are serviceable
16th Tank Corps: Starts with 181, 45 remain on 07/13, of which just 12 are serviceable
24th Tank Corps: Starts with 141, 32 remain on 07/20, of which just 21 are serviceable

Total: Starts with 898, about 344 remain mid-July, of which about 156 are serviceable

For comparison's sake, the 24. Panzer-Division alone had 136 serviceable tanks on July 11th.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 02:42
The left encircling arm from Orel is attacking into what I think were fairly dense OTL Soviet forces but you'll know better than I do.
Soviet defenses were dense to the west of the Oka river, starting with 61st Army. The left encircling arm would jump-off against 3rd Army, which had similar force density as the armies attacked in the first phase, in similar terrain.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 02:42
If Ostheer can break through and encircle these armies it's a game changer. Can they? Not sure. OTL Blau's southern mechanized forces, which you've moved to north of Orel, might not be sufficient.
All I want from them is that they shatter Soviet forces and at least bag parts of them, i.e. what the Germans did in the second 10-day period of July, only north instead of south. If they produce a major encirclement, so much the better.

I don't see how the Soviets can prevent it. Here is the OTL allocation of their tank corps around July 10th:

Training and preparing for Rzhev around Moscow: 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th
Attacking 2. Panzerarmee in front of Sukhinichi (response to Blau): 3rd and 10th
3rd Tank Army massed at Tula: 12th, 15th
Already engaged at Voronezh: 1st, 2nd, 4th, 7th, 11th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 24th, 25th
Already engaged against the southern flank of the offensive (6. Armee): 13th, 22nd, 23rd
In reserve of Southwestern Front: 14th

As detailed previously, by the second week of July most of the ten tank corps around Voronezh are significantly depleted, as are the two tank corps that Zhukov hastily threw against 2. Panzerarmee, hoping thus to relieve pressure to his south. The next Soviet move will probably be to dispatch 3rd Tank Army down from Tula, and Stalin may forego his exploitation force for Rzhev-Sychevka (which might be called off) and also send the four tank corps deployed on the Moscow approaches. And... That's it. Otherwise the Soviets are down to stopping the German Schwerpunkt with masses of rifle units and separate tank brigades.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 02:42
You could transfer some of AGC's units but that makes the Sukhinichi stage your [/i]Blue[/i] more difficult. It's at least feasible though.
I don't think that's necessary. The OTL was a master-class in force dilution: first 9. and 11. Panzer-Divisionen left the main body to defend at Voronezh (and then leave HGB outright for Wirbelwind), then 3. and 60. Infanterie-Divisionen (mot), as well as 16. Panzer-Division, also left the main body to outrun their supplies in the direction of Stalingrad. Then 24. Panzer-Division was rerouted from the lower Don to help the force aiming for Stalingrad, and eventually so were 29. Infanterie-Division (mot) and 14. Panzer-Division. 22. Panzer-Division and "Grossdeutschland" halted around Rostov, with 22. Panzer-Division eventually going to guard the long Don flank and "Grossdeutschland" leaving for HGM.

Here, every formation stays on the same axis:

-3., 16., 25.*, 29. and 60. Infanterie-Divisionen (mot), as well as "Grossdeutschland"
-3., 4.*, 9., 11., 14., 16., 22., 23. and 24. Panzer-Divisionen

The Germans keep "SS-Wiking" and 13. Panzer-Division as mobile reserves for 17. Armee and 1. Panzerarmee, as well as the southern flank of 6. Armee.

*25. Infanterie-Division and 4. Panzer-Division join the offensive along with 60. Infanterie-Division (mot) and 14., 16. and 22. Panzer-Divisionen jumping-off from Orel.

The Sukhinichi stage is accomplished with an extreme concentration of mobile armored forces:

Attacking from bridgeheads on the western bank of the Oka come six Infanterie-Divisionen (mot.) and nine Panzer-Divisionen:

-3., 16., 25., 29. and 60. Infanterie-Divisionen (mot), as well as "Grossdeutschland"
-3., 4., 9., 11., 14., 16., 22., 23. and 24. Panzer-Divisionen

Attacking from the south of Sukhinichi come three Panzer-Divisionen:

-17., 18. and 19. Panzer-Divisionen

Attacking from the south-east of Vyazma come one Infanterie-Division (mot) and four Panzer-Divisionen:

-14. Infanterie-Division (mot)
-1., 2., 5. and 20 Panzer-Divisionen

For a grand total of seven Infanterie-Divisionen (mot) and sixteen Panzer-Divisionen, i.e. 23 mobile formations supported by massed tactical air power.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 02:42
On the map below a minor suggested revision or question: The Leningrad operation ("Red") crosses the Neva to link up with the Finns. One problem is Finland wouldn't budge here. I've drawn up "Big Red," basically the OTL 1941 Tikhvin operation. That bags Volkhov Front along with Leningrad. Seems feasible if that's Ostheer's entire offensive focus in September/October.
The attack north of Leningrad would be undertaken by units transferred from 20. Gebirgs-Armee, replaced by the Italian Alpine Corps. Admittedly I might not be ambitious enough here, and reaching the Svir may well be a simpler solution.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 02:42
Then in winter you'd want to grab at least the eastern portions of the greater Donbas that Blau II took - Operation Pink.
Agreed - that's what I had in mind, at least for one of the winter offensives.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 02:42
Stalin probably concentrates forces to defend Moscow, in which case the best German move is probably to destroy RKKA in detail elsewhere. I've roughly sketched the Valdai Hills encirclement that Halder advocated at one point during late fall 1941. Other opportunities would arise with RKKA heavily concentrated to defend Moscow. Or maybe you push on the city itself.
IMO, keep destroying armies around the front until the Soviets are softened enough to fight an annihilation battle at Moscow. Ideally proceed with Moscow in spring 1943, both to liquidate remaining Soviet military potential and to reassure the probably nervous Italians that the switch West is imminent.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 02:42
As you note, however, it's hard to pinpoint an early trigger in your ATL in which FDR fundamentally rearranges US policy in time to prevent Soviet collapse. It could be Leningrad but feasibly the city wouldn't surrender until January or February after being cut off by Big or Little Red.
Yes. I don't think the risk of Soviet collapse would necessarily appear worse than OTL to the Anglo-Americans during the July - November 1942 period.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 02:42
What's your ideal move in response to Torch, btw?
Have Rommel stop at the Egyptian border after taking Tobruk and proceed with Herkules in summer 1942, taking Malta.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Nov 2021 02:42
Reinforcing Africa cost the Heer but bought six very valuable months. Perhaps the optimal strategy is to reinforce as in OTL, then do Kasserine, then begin evacuations when the Americans are still in shock from that battle - perhaps covered by a surge of LW forces from an Eastern Front that isn't in crisis. Having taken Leningrad also frees up KM resources such as mines and maybe E-boats that make it easier to deadzone the Sicilian narrows during the evacuations. You also haven't lost so many transports supplying Stalingrad so maybe can evacuate most of the personnel via air in conjunction with a LW surge.
Could be an option - having taken Malta would certainly help. IMO, the German response should account for Italian regime stability: if fighting for Tunisia helps keep the Italians reasonably motivated until a notional Moscow offensive in the spring, the sacrifice of 100,000 men (+ the Italian troops) would be worth it. Otherwise, help evacuate both Germans and Italians from Libya as soon as Torch happens.

Your option might also be a sound middle-ground, although I'd fear excessive aerial attrition over Tunisia. Admittedly, this might be substantially alleviated by holding Malta, but then again Anglo-American air strength in North Africa will be such that ideally, aerial engagements should strictly occur with conditions akin to those under which the Luftwaffe engaged the RAF on the Channel Coast in 1941-43.

Peter89
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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Peter89 » 16 Nov 2021 10:59

KDF33 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 08:08

Your option might also be a sound middle-ground, although I'd fear excessive aerial attrition over Tunisia. Admittedly, this might be substantially alleviated by holding Malta, but then again Anglo-American air strength in North Africa will be such that ideally, aerial engagements should strictly occur with conditions akin to those under which the Luftwaffe engaged the RAF on the Channel Coast in 1941-43.
The Luftwaffe fought effectively against the Anglo-Americans as long as they had more permanent bases in Sicily and Sardinia than the Allies had in North Africa. The Allies could not risk an invasion before air superiority was achieved; only after that could they move in with their ships providing NGFS, after which their relatively inexperienced troops can land. The Germans could easily buy that "extra six months" simply by pulling back in time. In fact, Germany could buy an extra year or more if they pulled back in early 1942. The Allies simply did not have sufficient men and matériel before 1943.
"Everything remained theory and hypothesis. On paper, in his plans, in his head, he juggled with Geschwaders and Divisions, while in reality there were really only makeshift squadrons at his disposal."

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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by Gooner1 » 16 Nov 2021 12:28

Peter89 wrote:
16 Nov 2021 10:59
The Germans could easily buy that "extra six months" simply by pulling back in time. In fact, Germany could buy an extra year or more if they pulled back in early 1942. The Allies simply did not have sufficient men and matériel before 1943.
But then they would land in France.

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stg 44
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Re: If the Axis would have retreated to the Daugava-Dnieper Line early enough, would they have had a chance at a stalema

Post by stg 44 » 16 Nov 2021 15:16

Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 12:11
In order to address the plausability of the alternate situation in question, I had to address generalities. In 1943/1944, the Germans stationed an army group's worth of soldiers and matériel on Europe's peninsulas to fend off the Allied attacks. This implied a drain of Germany's main efforts, for example, on the hypothetical D-D line. At every major peninsula of Europe, the Allies planned an invasion, and the Germans anticipated an invasion. For example, against an Allied landing in Portugal, the Germans wanted to use 10-12 divisions to counter it.

Another army's worth was essentially policing Germany's allies and countries. The Americans did not need 5 divisions to keep Detroit on the Allied side, and the British did not need to keep 5 divisions in Canada to prevent it from changing sides. Welsh miners did not sabotage the production to see Britain's defeat, etc. So yes, it was important that the German rule was unpopular in Europe. Just as the strong national identities.
A drain, but not necessarily a fatal one provided they had a prepared line waiting for them to withdraw to and they withdrew in a planned way to said line to concentrate their forces and use the fortifications and terrain as a force multiplier to enhance their ability to hold. AKA the opposite of what actually happened historically. Despite the bad situation that the Wehrmacht retreated in in Ukraine in 1943 in August-September the terrain was such that the Soviets failed to bounce the river line. With a less chaotic retreat that was planned out plus a truly prepared line built up over months rather than weeks as in OTL, that would be an entirely different situation than OTL.

I don't know why you constantly keep referencing Portugal and Spain as the Allies did not plan to invade it. Certainly the Germans had to consider contingencies, but they didn't base troops there and it was ultimately not a resource drain. If the Allies had invaded they'd have had to fight through really bad terrain with terrible infrastructure and dealt with the Spanish army, as there would be a rally around the flag effect. Given how Italy turned out and winning in that region would only give the Allies the Pyrennes mountains to have to fight through just to get to France no one was stupid enough to try that.

All your points about 'strong nationalities' doesn't factor in the millions that either fought for Germany from various countries around Europe or were used in production; unlike the Allies the Germans could and did use foreign labor to run their war industry without too many negative effects, while the British, Americans, and Soviets all had to (mostly) rely on their own workforce to produce. That limited how much military manpower they could conscript. The Soviets and British relied on US production to run their war efforts too, so the US specifically could not draw down its workforce for more military conscription, which lead to serious issues with manpower in 1944-45.
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 12:11
Not really.

France did not ally herself with Germany even though together they could probably beat Britain.
Germany did not ask France to ally with her. There were far too many other issues that made that effectively unworkable. Instead the French contributed to the German war effort by labor and some troops. France was hugely important to the German war economy and I've seen it argued that without the French/Belgian/Dutch contributions the war would not have been possible for Germany to run.
The book "Does Conquest Pay?" has a very good chapter about the French economic collaboration with Germany as well as Benelux contributions to the German war effort. Spoiler: yes conquest pays well.

Contrary to your opinions data shows that rather than Germany being as unpopular as Allied propaganda tried to portray the conquered nations actually contributed enormously to the German war effort:
https://www.jstor.org/stable/23249188
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 12:11
Hungary was motivated by retaining its elite and the reconquer of its former territories. Etc. They sided with the power which would promise them what they want after a victory, not the side whose victory they could not profit from. For example, Hungary did not join the Soviets in 1944, but why? Because her elites knew that a Soviet victory and defeat by Germany's side is the same thing for them. No minor country was purely motivated by victory - they were motivated by potential gains and losses.
That's a vapid point that adds nothing to the discussion. Every nation was motivated by their self interests, including America, Britain, and the USSR! They didn't fight the war for their allies or ideology, they fought for national interests and worked together only as long as those aligned.
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 12:11
The Soviet people is NOT a nation. There are Estonians, Latvians, Georgians, Armenians, Ukrianians, Tatars, Russians, etc. Some of them were interested in a Soviet defeat.

Also in Yugoslavia, which isn't a nation: there were chetniks, ustahas, siptars, etc. They killed each other as well as Germans.

Btw I hate this word in English (nation), it does not describe reality. The population of X country is not X nation. I know it is used as if these were synonyms - but they shouldn't be.
Ok, and? This is another pointless statement that doesn't refute anything I said.
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 12:11
I try to follow your logic and imagine a rational actor model for German leadership. Which is not Hitler & co., because their personalities would spell disaster whatever we imagine.

In this scenario, gaining influence - let alone total control - could not be done in 5-6 years. But it would not end in a disaster either. Germany is the leading power of Europe now, without firing a shot. I would probably stop at a military force that is capable to defend Germany against anyone but the colonial empires, then I'd wait for the fall of those.

What you don't seem to realize about national identities is that they are ideas, not actual institutions or states. And we didn't even scratch class identities, which was all too important for many petty dictators like Horthy.
As you said before people are motivated by interests. If the Germans remained strong/were perceived as winning even with Hitler in charge people would hedge their bets and work with them. That's the reason the 'resistance' in France really only became substantial in 1944 and reached their full strength only after the Allied invasion worked and was winning the Normandy campaign. The hard core of actual resistance members were mostly communists who were activated only after the invasion of the USSR. Prior some even sabotaged the French war effort or remained passive and worked with the German occupation.

Honestly you really don't seem to appreciate how opportunist most people are/were and how their behavior during the conflict wasn't about ideology or national identity (I can't even begin to tell you the number of US vets that said they weren't fighting for their country, just their friends in the foxholes around them), but about who seemed to be winning that they could side with. It was only with the repeated defeats of the German army that convinced people to side against them. See how Italy fought quite loyally and effectively (within their limitations) with Germany until the mainland was invaded and it became more opportune to switch sides.
Peter89 wrote:
15 Nov 2021 12:11
Okay, so please share your thoughts with me.

How is it possible, in your opinion, that a timely retreat to the Panther-Wotan line can inflict such losses on the Allies that they can not sustain anymore? What kill / loss ratio do you think necessary to absorb the production disparity in 1944? And sure, let's not talk about the aircrafts, tanks, men, etc. who remained in the US, just about those which arrived to Europe. And of course, what forces were needed to achieve this?
Well, as I said the Soviets were highly dependent from 1943 on from conscripting replacements from reconquered territory. Officially it was over 4 million men from territories taken in 1943-44, though there is some evidence that a lot of recruitment was done unofficially, so that number could well be much higher. So if the Soviets are checked on the Dnieper well into 1944 they'd run out of replacements. In the meantime that gives the Axis a chance to recruit more Ukrainians and various other ex-Soviet peoples to fight and equipment would be much less of a problem without the repeated defeats and losses of such in 1943-44. Not only that, but fighting from fortified positions on the high ground west of the Dnieper would be much less costly in German manpower than the repeated defeats and retreats and encirclements of late 1943 through 1944. The Soviet record of fighting through prepared defensive positions in Army Group North and Center's area of responsibility in 1943-mid 44 was pretty poor and extremely costly.

Source on replacements claim:
viewtopic.php?t=198614

David Glantz's "Battle for Belorussia" covers the 'forgotten' campaign of October 1943-April 1944 that cost the Soviets 700,000 casualties and more ammo than used in Ukraine in the same period for extremely limited gains. Not even the Soviets could take those losses and a Front commander got fired for his performance as a result. Given that the terrain around the Dnieper is no better than Belarus with a strongly fortified position and a relatively intact force withdrawing there in time they'd get an even better result considering the barrier the Dnieper represents.

Without the defeats in Ukraine in late 1943-early 1944 then AG-Center wouldn't be stripped of the vital reserves that allowed them to survive the late 1943-early 1944 Soviet offensives in Belarus, which then set up the chance for Operation Bagration. Plus with the Dnieper being held AG-Center's southern flank isn't turned and its forces dispersed to cover 250km extra of front line that weakened their defenses. That means Bagration can't work.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10. ... ode=fslv20
Incidentally that also stripped resources from France that were intended to combat the invasion, including the II SS Panzer Corps, which was full strength and closer to the invasion beaches than the 12th SS was by a substantial margin. In fact if the II SS PC was not sent East and 12th SS division not sent to replace them around Liseux, Hitler intended to deploy the 12th SS in Normandy, west of the 21st Panzer division. What do you think is going to happen if the 12th SS division is within intervention distance of the beaches on June 6th in conjunction with 21st Panzer and a more forward deployed 10th SS Panzer division and its corps assets? IOTL 12th SS was deployed about 20km further from the beaches than 10th SS was before it had to be shipped to Ukraine in March, so took longer to intervene against the invasion.

If you want casualty ratios if the Germans could maintain a 4:1 loss ratio on the Dnieper Panther Line and check the Soviets there given the fall off in Soviet reserves and lack of access to the manpower behind German lines that they relied on IOTL to get through the end of the war then the Soviets would not be able to keep fighting to the end of 1944. Couple that with the Western Front not being stripped of divisions and resources to cover the huge losses of the defeats of early 1944 (see the paper linked above for the details) and D-Day might fail or be contained. If it fails and the Soviets are still stuck on the Dnieper that sets the conditions for a separate peace in the East since the Soviets would be lacking sufficient replacements to carry on, especially without the prospect of Allied help in France. A failed D-Day would mean something like 20-25 divisions are freed up to help in the East. Even 10 extra panzer divisions from France would be an enormous gain in mid-1944.

As to what equipment remained in the US if there wasn't the ability to ship it to Europe it is pointless.

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