Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

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stg 44
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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 29 Nov 2021 15:59

Cult Icon wrote:
29 Nov 2021 15:40
stg 44 wrote:
29 Nov 2021 15:34
Boris Sokolov, confirmed by Toppel and others, including the authors of the GSWW series, has found evidence that the Soviets hid a lot of their losses in official reports during Citadel and official stats undercount Soviet losses by at least 25%.

Otherwise I agree with the rest of what you said.
The details of that I don't know (to what extent there is an undercount). Obviously the most famous on is the 5th Guards Tank Army hoax at Kursk.
Yes there was the 5th Tank army myth (not Guards yet) and concealing the AFV losses for the entire battle as well, but in terms of personnel losses this is from the GSWW series on Kursk:
39 Boris V. Sokolov gives the following calculation as an example: according to official data (Grif
sekretnosti sniat, 187–9), Central Front had 738,000 men on 5 July and lost 33,897 up to and including 11 July. It would therefore have had around 704,000 men on 12 July. But for that date, the beginning of Operation KUTUZOV, Central Front’s strength is given as only 645,300. That means a further shrinkage of around 60,000 men, despite the fact that Central Front had received considerable reinforcements in the meantime because of its losses (Sokolov, ‘The Battle for Kursk’, 79; id., ‘The Cost of War’, 158).
Sokolov's argument goes into greater depth than that, including pointing out that very few units were transferred out of Central Front in this period and they also had more reinforcements coming in as well as replacements. He also didn't consider 'unofficial' conscription of locals when military age men could be found.

Toppel has a much better breakdown of the overall situation with faulty reporting and total likely numbers, but that would require a lot of screenshot-ing of the book.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 29 Nov 2021 16:08

stg 44 wrote:
28 Nov 2021 19:14
Divisions stay where they are preparing to counterpunch the Soviet offensives that everyone knew were coming. 2nd/9th armies had plenty in their sector to defend Orel while Manstein's forces were plenty to defend Ukraine.
Yea, the defense of Orel and Kharkov salients would have been a lot more viable with stronger ground units and also an additional 28,000 + sorties (20,000+ tons of bombs) and 51,000 tons of artillery ammunition in reserve.

However the numbers game would eventually force the Germans to give ground if they couldn't pull off a Kharkov II- like encirclement. It would just delay things IMHO.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 29 Nov 2021 16:40

Cult Icon wrote:
29 Nov 2021 16:08
stg 44 wrote:
28 Nov 2021 19:14
Divisions stay where they are preparing to counterpunch the Soviet offensives that everyone knew were coming. 2nd/9th armies had plenty in their sector to defend Orel while Manstein's forces were plenty to defend Ukraine.
Yea, the defense of Orel and Kharkov salients would have been a lot more viable with stronger ground units and also an additional 28,000 + sorties (20,000+ tons of bombs) and 51,000 tons of artillery ammunition in reserve.

However the numbers game would eventually force the Germans to give ground if they couldn't pull off a Kharkov II- like encirclement. It would just delay things IMHO.
Soviet replacements are not endless and without liberating enough territory and population quickly enough means they run out of men.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 29 Nov 2021 23:55

stg 44 wrote:
29 Nov 2021 16:40

Soviet replacements are not endless and without liberating enough territory and population quickly enough means they run out of men.
The German reinforcement situation (due to Italy, France) was dire in 1943. Too few reinforcements and too intermittantly. June 30 1943 was the final position of strength on the Eastern Front. Historically July-August the Red Army erased much of the gains from the buildup. I believe the Kursk defensive, Mius, Orel and Belgorod-Kharkov Operations was in a way the strongest Red Army showdown for the July 1943- May 1944 period.

So a "better result" would require the Germans to defeat or annhilate these assault forces somehow. If they do it through broad front defense-counterattack cycles they are in a better position than they historically were due to the stronger units, much better supplies, and much stronger air support. However an even better situation was if they were able to launch an encircling counteroffensive and annhilate their attackers like at Kharkov II and destroy many organizations. Otherwise the Red Army would just refill them and use them for the next offensive. However they may not fall for the same trap again.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Nov 2021 00:42

With German Citadel losses, that's 12 divisions or so worth of combat personnel back with the units.

With the armor, around 1200 back with the units (destroyed armor plus recovered & repaired) if armor recovery rate is 50% of that in Kursk like it was in Oct 43 - Jan 1944. (75% recovery)

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by KDF33 » 30 Nov 2021 01:11

Cult Icon wrote:
30 Nov 2021 00:42
With German Citadel losses, that's 12 divisions or so worth of combat personnel back with the units.

With the armor, around 1200 back with the units (destroyed armor plus recovered & repaired) if armor recovery rate is 50% of that in Kursk like it was in Oct 43 - Jan 1944. (75% recovery)
I'm skeptical that a defensive strategy would have worked better.

By the Soviet definition, German combat losses during the 'Kursk Strategic Defensive Operation' amounted to 53,660 (20,189 for 9. Armee 7/1-10 and 33,471 for 4. PzArmee and A.A. Kempf 7/1-20). The Soviets lost 177,847 men on both faces of the salient.

That means that for the whole summer (July - September), losses were apportioned thus:

Zitadelle: 177,847 / 53,660 = 3.31-to-1
Soviet offensive operations: 2,575,972 / 456,076 = 5.65-to-1

Note that Soviet losses include 245,835 non-combat casualties, whereas German losses do not account for 11,334 Lw/KM combat losses. So the overall combat loss ratio is in fact 4.81-to-1.

If one adjusts Soviet Zitadelle losses to reflect the ratio for the rest of the summer, we get 2,879,050 casualties instead of 2,753,819, a difference of just 125,231 (4.5%).

IMO, the Soviets broke the German line during the summer not because of Zitadelle, but because they could maintain a high operational tempo for a prolonged period of time. The sustained attrition gutted German infantry and Panzer strength, allowing the RKKA to finally dislocate the German front in early September and advance to the Dnieper.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Nov 2021 01:20

I'm not sure what you are disagreeing with? I think the Soviet momemtum can be slowed but not stopped.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by KDF33 » 30 Nov 2021 01:52

Cult Icon wrote:
30 Nov 2021 01:20
I'm not sure what you are disagreeing with? I think the Soviet momemtum can be slowed but not stopped.
Oh I'm not disagreeing. I was just bringing my two cents. I don't think the Ostheer could stop the Soviets in summer 1943, even with a defensive strategy. To stop the Soviets, the Germans would have needed to transfer most of the combat-ready formations from the other theaters, and with the Allies threatening the Mediterranean coastline this wasn't going to happen.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 30 Nov 2021 05:15

KDF33 wrote:
30 Nov 2021 01:11
I'm skeptical that a defensive strategy would have worked better.
Agreed. I lean towards believing that Stavka should have preempted Zitadelle. The decision not to do so is reasonable given what Stavka knew then and the morale value of for the first time stopping a German summer offensive, however. Either way the Soviets come away victorious.

Besides the factors already discussed, Ostheer would likely have lost a significant portion of the ammo it built up for the offensive. The bloody casualty exchange rate for RKKA worsens but only somewhat while the armored losses would swing dramatically towards RKKA - especially as regards the new tanks and their breakdown rates. These may have been largely wiped out in days after they're thrown into counterattacks and break down. Stavka's ideal strategy would likely have been to launch multiple simultaneous offensives - on the Donets, at Orel, and towards Kharov for example - preventing the fire-brigade concentrations that contained the first post-Kursk offensives OTL. The labor and other resources put into defense could have been repurposed - to logistics and production, for example.
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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by History Learner » 30 Nov 2021 06:08

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
30 Nov 2021 05:15
Agreed. I lean towards believing that Stavka should have preempted Zitadelle. The decision not to do so is reasonable given what Stavka knew then and the morale value of for the first time stopping a German summer offensive, however. Either way the Soviets come away victorious.
I don't see how, given the poor logistics of the forces in the Bulge. Voronezh Front continued having issues into July; the situation only dramatically improved after the Germans lost Orel, increasing the rail capacity into the Kursk Bulge.
Besides the factors already discussed, Ostheer would likely have lost a significant portion of the ammo it built up for the offensive. The bloody casualty exchange rate for RKKA worsens but only somewhat while the armored losses would swing dramatically towards RKKA - especially as regards the new tanks and their breakdown rates. These may have been largely wiped out in days after they're thrown into counterattacks and break down. Stavka's ideal strategy would likely have been to launch multiple simultaneous offensives - on the Donets, at Orel, and towards Kharov for example - preventing the fire-brigade concentrations that contained the first post-Kursk offensives OTL. The labor and other resources put into defense could have been repurposed - to logistics and production, for example.
I think the reason they didn't is because of the aforementioned logistics issue, but I remain skeptical of the idea the Soviets would do much better attacking without Kursk then with it. Overall ratio at Kursk was 3:1 and on the defensive for the Germans it seemed to fluctuate between 6:1 or 9:1 with all the factors present then. I know you're pretty good at the math side of this, so what's the variables in questions?

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by KDF33 » 30 Nov 2021 06:37

History Learner wrote:
30 Nov 2021 06:08
Overall ratio at Kursk was 3:1 and on the defensive for the Germans it seemed to fluctuate between 6:1 or 9:1 with all the factors present then. I know you're pretty good at the math side of this, so what's the variables in questions?
Ratio for Soviet offensive operations over the 3rd quarter was 5.65-to-1, and includes some Soviet non-combat losses / excludes German Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine combat losses (11,334 for the quarter).

'Kursk Strategic Defensive Operation': 177,847 / 53,660 = 3.31-to-1
Rest of the 3rd quarter: 2,575,972 / 456,076 = 5.65-to-1

Overall combat loss ratio (including everything) is 4.81-to-1. Thus, combat loss ratio for the Soviet offensives is probably 5-to-1 when one includes Lw/KM.

Disproportionate to be sure, but the 9-to-1 ratio for the Donbass is clearly an outlier.

***

Note that combat loss ratios during the defensive battles of summer 1942 (Rzhev, Kozelsk, Sinyavino, etc.) were also about 5-to-1. Indeed, this seems to have been the standard ratio for when the Germans were on the defensive throughout most of the war, absent encirclement.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 30 Nov 2021 06:42

History Learner wrote:I don't see how, given the poor logistics of the forces in the Bulge.
Don't attack just from the bulge. Attack from the north of the Orel salient, from the bulge in only direction (on the south side towards Kharkov/Belgorod), from the Lisischansk salient, and on the Mius/Donets. The latter Soviet offensive was only stopped by shuffling forces from Zitadelle.

RKKA has thousands more AFV's than OTL's post-Kursk offensives, Ostheer only a few hundred more. Ostheer has ~54k more men than OTL, RKKA has ~178k more. As KDF rightly reminds us, battlefield attrition basically always disfavored the RKKA, whose operational prospects were always best at the beginning of a period of fighting.
History Learner wrote:Overall ratio at Kursk was 3:1 and on the defensive for the Germans it seemed to fluctuate between 6:1 or 9:1 with all the factors present then.
If we shift the Soviet casualties exchanged for ~54k Germans at Kursk, from 3.31:1 (OTL Kursk defensive) to 5.65:1 (OTL post-Kursk offensives against AGS) that's ~125k additional Soviet bloody losses. Manageable for sufficient strategic gain.

But ~125k is certainly an overestimate because armor mix changes the casualty ratio (see from page 80 of that report). That report is just one of several documenting the effect, which accords with common sense. An RKKA attacking with a much better armor mix sees lower losses.

If, in exchange for probably a <100k casualty delta, RKKA can reach the Dniepr and clear Donbas a few months earlier then enormous strategic benefits accrue: Germany loses more investment in the Donbas/Dnipro areas (Iwan program), RKKA gets booty soldiers earlier, Donbas/Dnipro come back online earlier, Soviet logistics for the trans-Dniepr push build up earlier (i.e. railroad repair), and RKKA has many more tanks for that later push. If Ostheer loses supply depots early then the casualty cost of this preemption (relative to OTL) is even lower - perhaps approaching zero.
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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by ljadw » 30 Nov 2021 07:53

You can't blame Citadel (of which Manstein was a protagonist ) for the defeat of Manstein .Besides,Manstein did not own the Citadel forces .
The Citadel forces were to weak to defend the Eastern Front :to defend the Eastern Front, the Germans needed a mobile force that was three times as strong as the Citadel Forces .
The only chance for the Germans was a local attack (and Citadel was a local attack ) before the Soviets were too strong,hoping that the Soviets would commit their mobile forces and hoping that they could destroy them .
Remaining defensive was suicidal :the Soviet buildup was a factor X stronger than what the Germans could do .The Germans could not defend a front line of 2100 km with the forces that were available .
That's why the OKH and the front commanders (Kluge and Manstein ) wanted to attack .
Germany had to attack : remaining idle was not an option .Remaining idle would result that the Citadel forces would be tied in the East and Germany could not afford this .Citadel was needed so that the Citadel forces could be used elsewhere .
Last point : the role of air support was negligible in the East .

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 30 Nov 2021 10:02

KDF33 wrote:
30 Nov 2021 06:37
Disproportionate to be sure, but the 9-to-1 ratio for the Donbass is clearly an outlier.
Probably because that was the only defensive position where the forces had not participated in Citadel, so were prepared for heavy defensive combat unlike in Kutuzov or Rumyantsev where both sets of defenders were compromised by losses and ammo expeditures in Citadel and were out of position as a result.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Nov 2021 14:21

While 9th Army was bloodied, 2nd Panzer Army did not take part in Citadel, it was waiting in prepared defenses until the Orel Operation was executed :

2nd Panzer Army

XXXV Armeekorps (General der Infanterie Lothar Rendulic)
34.Infanterie-Division
56.Infanterie-Division
262.Infanterie-Division
299.Infanterie-Division
36.Infanterie-Division (mot.)

LIII Armeekorps (General der Infanterie Friedrich Gollwitzer)
25.Panzergrenadier-Division
208.Infanterie-Division
211.Infanterie-Division
293.Infanterie-Division
211.Sicherungs-Division (less elements)

LV Armeekorps (General der Infanterie Erich Jaschke)
110.Infanterie-Division
134.Infanterie-Division
296.Infanterie-Division
339.Infanterie-Division
5.Panzer-Division

Army Reserve
112.Infanterie-Division
707.Infanterie-Division

12 July
8.Panzer-Division from Vitebsk (3.Panzerarmee)
18–20 July
Panzergrenadier-Division Großdeutschland from Heeresgruppe Süd
26.Infanterie-Division from AOK 2
253.Infanterie-Division from AOK 4

Reinforcements (2nd Panzer Army and 9th Army):

12 July
8.Panzer-Division from Vitebsk (3.Panzerarmee)

18–20 July
Panzergrenadier-Division Großdeutschland from Heeresgruppe Süd
26.Infanterie-Division from AOK 2
253.Infanterie-Division from AOK 4

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