Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

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Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Cult Icon » 20 Sep 2018 14:33

What if..

A far-sighted and accurate study is done to analyze the fighting in Nov 42- March 1943 and the projected improvements of the Soviet forces in the fighting to come. Impressed with the improvements made by the Soviets, a Fuhrer order is made to innovate the Panzer divisions and more them more sustainable in attrition combat and viable for deep offensive operations.

Another Fuhrer order stops the building of any more Panzer divisions- Army, LW, or SS- for the rest of the war. A team is set up to centralize control and execute the innovation.

1. How would the Panzer divisions/Panzerwaffe be re-designed/re-trained to optimize their combat value in the offense and defense? How would equipment be allocated to the ground forces?

2. What would happen in Operation Citadel and the war beyond?

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Cult Icon » 20 Sep 2018 17:57

Idea 1:

As of April 1943, IIRC there were PzD 1-25, G.D., HG, and 4 x SS divisions- so 31 x panzer divisions.

- All luftwaffe field divisions disbanded and their personnel are funneled into the panzerwaffe.

- Panzer divisions now authorized to have 6 battalions of infantry including 2 SPW battalions.

-Replacement battalion now expanded to replacement brigades with 6 battalions each. A replacement battalion of armor is attached to the brigade. These forces are placed in the operational rear of the frontline for ready access.

-Policy: The replacement forces are the reserve of the Army and Korps commanders and divisional commanders are not authorized access to it until they are approved for release.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Paul Lakowski » 20 Sep 2018 20:19

Sounds like too little too late!

Wouldn't it take until 1943/44 to implement?

Here is a thought.

As the war continued the motorization of the German infantry division declined from 1009 in 1939 to 617 in 1944 vehicles ; although I'm not sure if it includes motorcycles as well ." The German Infantry Hand Book 1939-1945", lists the April 1940 figures as 930 trucks & cars , while the division also sported 530 motorcycles and these are detailed in TOE of each unit and considered vital in some roles.

Reportedly the ratio of troops to vehicles increased from 18:1 to 21:1. The soviets increased from 21:1 in 1941 to 39:1 in 1944. Were as Romanian divisions decreased from 176:1 to 87:1 .

So was the steady decline in motorization of the infantry divisions critical to the out come of the war?

While vehicles declined , wagons increased from 918 in 1939 to 1365 in 1944. So if wagon and vehicles are included - the figures for Nazi are 9:1 in 1939 and 6:1 in 1944. Corresponding RED ARMY infantry figures are 9:1 in 1941 and 11:1 in 1944. By comparison the Romanian figures with wagons is 9:1 in 1941 and 9:1 in 1944.

So if you include the wagons with motor transports the situation is not as grim; but if you only include vehicle -the situation is more dire for all the infantry divisions as the war progresses. If these vehicle numbers are critical - how come the RED ARMY infantry mobility increased geometrically in 1944/45.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Art » 20 Sep 2018 20:49

Cult Icon wrote:
20 Sep 2018 14:33
a Fuhrer order is made to innovate the Panzer divisions and more them more ... viable for deep offensive operations.
A little too late, isn't it?
In April 1943 the Heer had about 3000 Pz-III, Pz-IV, and command tanks, including those in repair or in warehouses. You can easily do the math to see that it wasn't even remotely sufficient to equip even those panzer and panzergrenadier (let's not forget about them) divisions already present. If you lack at the number of tanks operational, the picture gets even more bleak.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Cult Icon » 20 Sep 2018 21:00

They're still going to the lose the war- the idea behind the thread is what they would do to better confront the future and how the sequence of events that lead to the end would change.

eg. A lot of training and replacement brigades will be obviously a skeleton crew. So, an objective of soviet intelligence would be to see which ones were filled and which ones were empty.

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RE: Hitler Reforms The Panzerwaffe - (April 1943).

Post by Robert Rojas » 20 Sep 2018 22:14

Greetings to both citizen Cult Icon and the community as a whole. Howdy C.I.! Well sir OR madam, in respect to your introductory posting of Thursday - September 20, 2018 - 5:33am, old yours truly was rather surprised that the thorny matter of intraservice rivalry was not broached within the framework of your creation. If I recall, in his attempt to carry out the desired reforms for the Fatherland's mechanized forces, Colonel General Heinz Guderian, who was the Inspector General of Panzer Troops, was NOT able to wrest control of assault gun units from the jurisdiction of the Army's Artillery Branch. Heinz Guderian could not even get Adolf Hitler to intervene in this matter. How would this jurisdictional anomaly ultimately impact your hypothetical exercise OR would there be any significant impact at all? JUST ASKING! Well, that's my initial two cents or pfennigs worth on this WHAT IF topic of interest - for now anyway. In any case, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day no matter where you might happen to find yourself on Terra Firma.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Art » 20 Sep 2018 22:24

Cult Icon wrote:
20 Sep 2018 21:00
They're still going to the lose the war
Yep.
I believe, any realistic planning should proceed from the idea that Wehrmacht would be mostly in defense. Hence armored troops would be used for short counterattacks, limited offensives or to bolster defense in critical sectors. That means that less mobile formations are needed, and those available must be small and agile.
What would I propose:
1. Panzergrenadier/motorized divisions are pretty meaningless in defensive war. They should be gradually converted to normal infantry. Armored vehicles and part of motor transport should be removed to equip panzer divisions.
2. The number of full-strength panzer divisions should be limited to 15-20, there are no tanks to equip more. Full strength - about 150 tanks. Organization - panzerdivision 43 is satisfactory save for the panzerjaeger battalion which has no useful purpose. American organization (fully independent battalion combined in flexible battle groups) is better but is in too much contrast with usual German organization practice to expect that it would be adopted. Trains and service elements should be reduced, trains are better to be taken to battalions from companies.
3. Redundant panzer divisions are converted to brigades, each from 1/3 to 1/2 of the full-strength panzer division. Let's say - two battalions of infantry, one tank battalion, one artillery battalion and other service and support elements. They are used as fire brigades in defense.
4. Technical developments - introduction of self-propelled artillery, armored evacuation vehicles, flakpanzers, artillery observation tanks, more armored carriers, gradual introduction of Panthers - like in reality.

Panzer Korps of 1944 (two small panzer divisions and a Tiger battalion) is probably a good idea. Several Panzer Korps organized in this fashion are formed, other so-called "Panzer Korps" HQ are converted to normal army corps, so-called "Panzer" armies - to normal field armies.

Most importantly - the practice of using armored formations to defend passive sectors should be discontinued. When not engaged in serious action they should be withdrawn for rest and rehabilitation and employed only as a mobile reserve in defense. Divisions that lost most of their tanks should be withdrawn from the front. Otherwise you have unnecessary and unproductive wastage of valuable personnel.

People who offer an idea to form panzer divisions in Denmark or Norway or similar places should be promptly executed to give a lesson to others similar-minded.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Kingfish » 21 Sep 2018 00:01

Art wrote:
20 Sep 2018 22:24
1. Panzergrenadier/motorized divisions are pretty meaningless in defensive war. They should be gradually converted to normal infantry.
I would think the opposite would be true.
Same number of infantry battalions as a normal infantry division, except all are motorized (at least on paper) plus an armored battalion for good measure.

If that is meaningless in a defensive war what does that make a normal infantry division?
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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Paul Lakowski » 21 Sep 2018 06:36

Art wrote:
20 Sep 2018 20:49
Cult Icon wrote:
20 Sep 2018 14:33
a Fuhrer order is made to innovate the Panzer divisions and more them more ... viable for deep offensive operations.
A little too late, isn't it?
In April 1943 the Heer had about 3000 Pz-III, Pz-IV, and command tanks, including those in repair or in warehouses. You can easily do the math to see that it wasn't even remotely sufficient to equip even those panzer and panzergrenadier (let's not forget about them) divisions already present. If you lack at the number of tanks operational, the picture gets even more bleak.
Looking at Jentz Figures , I got 2650 Pz-III & Pz-IV in April 1943 with ~ 310 Pz Bef Wg., SO YES that limits you to about 20 regular Pz-Div with 2 bn each. But at the same time there were another 1500-2000 StuG plus maybe 800-1000 Marder type SPAT. These were mostly in independent detachments, assigned to Korps or Army level commands - and as such could only offered limited operational value. Such a waste!

Perhaps the Wehrmacht needed defensive counter part to the Panzer division/ Panzer Korps. I would think a motorized infantry division could work with a StuG battalion attached to each of three the Motorized Infantry Regiments. To work most effectively they would have to be partnered with more motorized infantry Divisions , controlled by a Korps force structure.

This way you could have 10 Panzer Grenadier Korps each with a couple of Panzer Grenadier Divisions plus a couple of Motorized infantry divisions. Each such Korps could be attached to an threatened front line Army.

In addition 10 Panzer Korps -each with 2 Panzer Divisions and a couple of Motorized infantry division - would be held in reserve .

To increase the effectiveness of these Panzer divisions/Korps , the artillery Regiment needed to be armored . That requires great increase in production of HUMMELS ,but this could not compromise any more of the existing tank production. Most likely at the expense of ALL NASHORNS and munitions Schlepper versions of these Panzer Artillery. That actually could give you > 1300 Hummels from 1943 to 1945 time period - basically sustain 40 armored artillery battalions each with 10-16 x 150 howitzers...two per Panzer Division

To round out such a regiment a Panzerwaffe rocket battalion could be added . Roughly there are enough Nebelwerfer for 64 battalions during this period of the war- each with 18 Panzerwaffe, however the ammo supply restricts these to about 80 salvoes per year or 3 per fortnight. Maybe these would be better as Korps assets.

By the same token , the WESPE 105mm SP howitzer could be amassed into battalions for these notional Panzer Grenadier divisions/Korps etc. Roughly 583 WESPE [40 x 14] in 1943 and 633 WESPE in 1944 [40 x 16].

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Art » 21 Sep 2018 08:51

Kingfish wrote:
21 Sep 2018 00:01
I would think the opposite would be true.
Same number of infantry battalions as a normal infantry division, except all are motorized (at least on paper) plus an armored battalion for good measure.
Motorized divisions were supposed to be employed in offensive operations where mobility of usual foot infantry was too limited. In defensive war their entire raison d'etre is lost.
Furthermore, I proceed from the thesis that the number of mobile divisions is unsustainable and should be reduced. Converting motorized/panzergrenadier divisions to defensive divisions is the most obvious solution (*), and the length of the Eastern Front simply cries for it. For defensive division holding a sector of the static front motorization is redundant. Permanent attachment of AFV is ineffective, at least in situation of limited availability of armor. Simply because the attack could easily fall on other divisions lacking armor. And what an organic armor battalion would be doing in this situation? The same applies to organic StuGs/Pak (Sf) in German infantry divisions. From purely organizational point of view it wasn't an effective measure and it was only justified by a dwindling quality of infantry which needed a moral boost and a lack of other anti-tank weapons.

(*) Anyway, in the central and northern parts of the Eastern Front they were already employed this way.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Paul Lakowski » 21 Sep 2018 19:04

Mobile infantry with armor support in- large enough groups -was the only thing that had a chance of halting the RED ARMY steam roller, thus freeing up the limited Panzerwaffe to conduct counter stroke.

German infantry by itself had NO chance of halting this steam roller.

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RE: Hitler Reforms The Panzerwaffe - (April 1943).

Post by Robert Rojas » 21 Sep 2018 20:03

Greetings to both cousin Paul Lakowski and the community as a whole. Howdy Paul! Well sir, in respect to your posting of Friday - September 21, 2018 - 10:04am, like yourself, old yours truly is also an enthusiastic proponent of the mobile infantry concept. Now, when I refer to mobile infantry, I am speaking of cross country mechanized infantry in their halftracks and NOT the road bound truck borne infantry in a motorized outfit. A motorized outfit is not exactly a stellar improvement over a straight leg infantry unity replete with its horse drawn transport. Of course, having JU-87 tank killing aircraft on call would also be a nice touch. Well, that's my latest two cents or pfennigs worth on this not so hypothetical topic of interest - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day up in your corner of the GREAT WHITE NORTH of Canada - EH!?


Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
"It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it" - Robert E. Lee

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by maltesefalcon » 21 Sep 2018 20:04

An intriguing proposal to be sure. increasing the number of combat troops in a Pz division would have made more effiencient use of signals, engineers and logistics (vehicles). At the same time, more "sharp edge" personnel who typically suffer the highest casualties.

As sensible as it sounds, several barriers would likely prevent this. Both Himmler and Goering based their standing on how many people were under their direct authority. So syphoning potential troops away from them to boost the combat strength of Heer units instead of Luftwaffe or Waffen SS would require intervention at Fuhrer level. Of course SS divisions would be boosted as well, but there were fewer of them. Long term Himmler ended up on charge of the replacement army, which would of necessity been smaller as there are only so many troops to spare.

As for Hitler, he was always preoccupied by quantity, not quality. i.e. He sent 30 "divisions" to the Ardennes in 1944, but they were only about half strength on average. For much of the latter half of the war, he allowed the authorized combat strength of Pz divisions to diminish yet expected them to accomplish the same effort as before. Hence Dietrichs "6 Panzer Army" quip.

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Re: RE: Hitler Reforms The Panzerwaffe - (April 1943).

Post by Paul Lakowski » 21 Sep 2018 23:17

Robert Rojas wrote:
21 Sep 2018 20:03
Greetings to both cousin Paul Lakowski and the community as a whole. Howdy Paul! Well sir, in respect to your posting of Friday - September 21, 2018 - 10:04am, like yourself, old yours truly is also an enthusiastic proponent of the mobile infantry concept. Now, when I refer to mobile infantry, I am speaking of cross country mechanized infantry in their halftracks and NOT the road bound truck borne infantry in a motorized outfit. A motorized outfit is not exactly a stellar improvement over a straight leg infantry unity replete with its horse drawn transport. Of course, having JU-87 tank killing aircraft on call would also be a nice touch. Well, that's my latest two cents or pfennigs worth on this not so hypothetical topic of interest - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day up in your corner of the GREAT WHITE NORTH of Canada - EH!?


Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :|
GOOD DAY ROBERT, greetings and salutations from " THE WET COAST".

While I too admire mechanized infantry, the cost of building light armor is not that much different from the cost of building SPW-251 [38-50,000 for light tanks compared to 22,000 for SPW + 4000- 9000 for gun]. More importantly the Wehrmacht doctrine used SPW battalions to reroute infantry to the major objective, leaving the Panzer forces to fight to the same objective by the main route. Since the tanks are likely to draw attention away from SPW ,they both get protection by the others diversion and both forces move at there own vehicle speeds. This is why SPW Battalions sprouted lesser guns later in the war [20mm - 37mm PAK, 75L24 infantry gun etc] for there own organic fire power.

The motorization of infantry is an operational requirement to allow momentum of larger groups [Korps-Army] to continue in spite of enemy counter attacks. Armor rarely does well with out accompanying infantry.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Kingfish » 22 Sep 2018 01:00

Art wrote:
21 Sep 2018 08:51
Motorized divisions were supposed to be employed in offensive operations where mobility of usual foot infantry was too limited. In defensive war their entire raison d'etre is lost.
One could make the same argument for Panzer divisions and independent Tiger battalions post-Kursk, yet their usefulness wasn't lost when the tactical situation changed - they simply adapted to new roles. Here I would think the PzGr divisions would likewise follow suit.
Furthermore, I proceed from the thesis that the number of mobile divisions is unsustainable and should be reduced. Converting motorized/panzergrenadier divisions to defensive divisions is the most obvious solution (*)
It's not a solution if it creates a bigger problem in return. What you are proposing is in effect replacing an asset with a liability. Normal line infantry divisions were fine if the front was relatively static and held in sufficient strength, but those were two conditions the Germans could never count on in the Eastern front. They needed mobile reserves in order to stabilize the front following each Russian attack. Line infantry simply could not meet that requirement.
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