Stalingrad

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AJFFM
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Re: Stalingrad

Post by AJFFM » 19 Feb 2015 19:15

ChrisDR68 wrote:Looking at a map of Operation Blue one of the things that stands out is the huge salient between Demyansk and Rzhev to the north west of Moscow. While Von Manstein was capturing the Crimea in May and June of 1942 would it have been possible for the Germans to pinch out this salient before the Blue offensive proper was launched on June 28th?

That would have shortened their front line freeing up troops as well as capturing who knows how many Soviet troops that were stationed inside the salient and all of their equipment.

Image
Thanks for the map I was alluding to in the other discussion about Barbarossa and the extra army.

Two fronts manned the salient, Kalinin and part of Volkhov. With the 9th army wedged in the Rzhev salient and the salient bulging nearly 200 km behind Rzhev reducing this salient was virtually impossible especially with the overextended undermanned AGN fighting in Leningrad and facing Volkhov. Moving 11th army was necessary to close the gaps and hold the front and it was proven so with the nearly fatal Sinyavino Offensive.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Cult Icon » 19 Feb 2015 19:47

Konev and Zhukov's fronts surrounding 9 AOK were the most powerful fronts, outnumbering 9 AOK by multiples in key areas. In order to attempt that, AGS would have to be weakened and forces transferred to AGC and AGN.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by Art » 19 Feb 2015 22:21

ChrisDR68 wrote:Looking at a map of Operation Blue one of the things that stands out is the huge salient between Demyansk and Rzhev to the north west of Moscow. While Von Manstein was capturing the Crimea in May and June of 1942 would it have been possible for the Germans to pinch out this salient before the Blue offensive proper was launched on June 28th?
They made such plans but were ultimately unable to find forces to carry it out. Moreover in late 1942 Manstein and his HQ were engaged in preparing operation to clear Velikye Luki - Rzhev line but it was abandoned as well. Look up " taubenschlag" on this page:
http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA ... on-21.html

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by steverodgers801 » 19 Feb 2015 22:48

After capturing Sevastopol, 11th army was slated north to help do some line adjusting, but it ended being broken up and units were sent to reinforce various sectors

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by ChrisDR68 » 22 Feb 2015 13:21

Image
Thanks for the map I was alluding to in the other discussion about Barbarossa and the extra army.

Two fronts manned the salient, Kalinin and part of Volkhov. With the 9th army wedged in the Rzhev salient and the salient bulging nearly 200 km behind Rzhev reducing this salient was virtually impossible especially with the overextended undermanned AGN fighting in Leningrad and facing Volkhov. Moving 11th army was necessary to close the gaps and hold the front and it was proven so with the nearly fatal Sinyavino Offensive.
Any idea how many Soviet troops and tanks there were in this salient?

In order to pinch out this salient at it's shoulders I would assume the Germans would have needed to use a portion of the armoured mobile forces from AGS although doing this would inevitably have lead to some delay in Operation Blue (which in the otl was started late in the campaigning season due to the Soviet offensive in the south in May 1942).

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by AJFFM » 22 Feb 2015 17:52

I don't have the order of battle of the Kalinin Front but I know it had at least 6 armies including 3rd and 4th Shock Armies until the end of the Rzhev pocket in March 43 both of which had a large armoured contingent. It also had a large armoured contingent during Operation Mars (around 1200 tanks during Mars according to Glantz).

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by hauptman » 22 Feb 2015 19:11

HGC conducted a number of operations to clear out the Red Army 1941-42 winter pockets in the Rzhev area. There was also an attempt to nip off the soviet salient at the southern neck of the Rzhev salient by 2nd Panzer Army in I believe August. Darn! I've been scratching my head on the reference for this offensive, but I haven't come up with an answer. However, the end result was a complete failure. Much of the area north of Bryansk was heavily forested and wetlands. Not good tank country and excellent for defensive positions.

The Wehrmacht in 1942 was simply not strong enough to conduct two major offensives. Hitler was only interested in the oil. As for clearing up the front around Moscow, there was no economic benefit to Germany. Remember, much of the focus on the eastern front was for Germany's economic benefit with land and resources esp. oil as the main goals.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by ChrisDR68 » 23 Feb 2015 17:23

AJFFM wrote:I don't have the order of battle of the Kalinin Front but I know it had at least 6 armies including 3rd and 4th Shock Armies until the end of the Rzhev pocket in March 43 both of which had a large armoured contingent. It also had a large armoured contingent during Operation Mars (around 1200 tanks during Mars according to Glantz).
If the Soviets had that much hardware inside the salient it's a wonder they didn't consider trying to eliminate the German salient centred on Rzhev that threatened Moscow.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by AJFFM » 23 Feb 2015 17:50

That is assuming they had all that hardware available all the time. There were 4 attempts to eliminate the Rzhev pocket between Jan. 42 and March 43 including the massive Mars Operation in November-December of 42. The Red Army also launched major attacks on Demyansk, Vitebsk, Kholm and V. Luki and all ended in failure. Then you had the issue with Leningrad where there were 2 successful penetrations by the Volkhov Front in May and August of 42 and they needed support.

History in that sector of the Eastern front was dubbed and with accuracy by Glantz as "Forgotten Battles". Very little research was done except here and there.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by ChrisDR68 » 23 Feb 2015 19:24

The Forgotten Battles is a very good description as most histories of the eastern front that I've read are concerned with what happened to Operation Blue during 1942 and largely ignores AGC's front.

Just read quite a bit on these battles on this page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battles_of_Rzhev

Here's a quote from Zhukov on these operations:

Today, after reflecting the events of 1942, I see that I had many shortcomings in evaluating the situation at Vyazma. We overestimated ourselves and underestimate the enemies. The "walnut" there was much stronger that what we predicted.

—G. K. Zhukov


Here is the summary from the German side:

Nazi Germany
Strength

After the Soviet winter counter-offensive of 1941–42, the Germans were able to strongly hold and defend the salient against a series of large Soviet offensives. The operations led to disproportionately high Soviet losses and tied down large numbers of Soviet troops. The defense of the Salient provided the Germans with a base from which they could launch a new offensive against Moscow at a future time. The defensive positions created by the Germans after the retreat from Moscow were well constructed and placed. The Germans eventually withdrew from the positions only due to losses elsewhere in the war and were able to withdraw from the salient with minimal losses.

Weakness
German operations in 1941 directed at Moscow lasted too late into the year. Rather than stabilize the front and create defensive positions, the Germans pushed their forces forward and left them poorly prepared for the Soviet winter counteroffensive. The losses in men and equipment to Army Group Centre were considerable. The Army group lacked the strength to go back on the offensive in 1942.

After the front stabilized, the German Army tied down enormous amounts of manpower in holding salients from which they did not intend to exploit. This reduced the amount of manpower the Germans could devote to operations elsewhere on the front. The Germans also used some of their best formations, such as 9th Army, in a strictly static defensive role. The Rzhev salient had value and tied down disproportionate numbers of Soviet troops, but it is unclear if the salient was worth the loss of around 20 high quality divisions for offensive or defensive operations elsewhere in 1942.

The abandonment of the salient was necessary in 1943 to create reserves for the front as a whole. But the reserves and the strength created were mostly used up in the costly offensive directed at Kursk in 1943.

These positions must have been strong as the German salient looks incredibly vulnerable from a map reading point of view to a pincer attack between Vyazma and just north of Juchnoff by the Soviets 8O

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by BDV » 23 Feb 2015 22:42

hauptman wrote:Much of the area north of Bryansk was heavily forested and wetlands. Not good tank country and excellent for defensive positions.
This is not true for the Rzhev-Kalinin space. Also, with Kalinin in German hands, the entirety of the Soviet Northwest Frontage would be put under threat.
Nobody expects the Fallschirm! Our chief weapon is surprise; surprise and fear; fear and surprise. Our 2 weapons are fear and surprise; and ruthless efficiency. Our *3* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency; and almost fanatical devotion

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by steverodgers801 » 23 Feb 2015 23:58

The Germans had no means to conduct an offense in that areas and go south.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by BDV » 24 Feb 2015 09:20

steverodgers801 wrote:The Germans had no means to conduct an offense in that areas and go south.
It all depends, but one wonders if they had enough heavy artillery (tubes'n'shells) for a set-piece battle over the Volga to Staritsa, followed by a breakout to Torzhok, if they would give up the Baku pipe dream.

I really cannot imagine Soviets had enough resources for defending their long frontage if Germans decide to fight a series of focused/pitched battles all along the front, with Bustard Hunt as template.
Nobody expects the Fallschirm! Our chief weapon is surprise; surprise and fear; fear and surprise. Our 2 weapons are fear and surprise; and ruthless efficiency. Our *3* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency; and almost fanatical devotion

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by AJFFM » 24 Feb 2015 10:23

steverodgers801 wrote:The Germans had no means to conduct an offense in that areas and go south.
The Germans had enough troops for one major offensive in 42 or wait for 43 when they have enough troops for a Barbarossa scale offensive, they just had to chose the axis and the time and they chose the South west.

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Re: Stalingrad

Post by doogal » 24 Feb 2015 13:16

Well they chose wrong !!!!

The offensive should have gone east to start with then north from Voronezh! Pressure coming from the north may have been what the soviets expected and they may have been ready for that axis of attack, put simply Germany had to force a decision: better a major turning point came in a climatic battle outside Moscow than on the steppe in front of Stalingrad where soviet arms have space and the ability to maneuver with a certain amount of freedom. Add to that over stretched German forces at the end of extended supply lines and with German armies out on a limb further south west.
And maybe those salients in the north created in winter 1941 would have been evacuated by the soviets due to pressure from an offensive moving due north:

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