Kingfish wrote: ↑
22 Sep 2018 01:00
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.
I would say that they were not essential you can easily go without them.
As for adaptation to a new role - I can notice essentially two modes of their normal employment in defense
1) First-line static defense divisions (most divisions in the Army Groups North and Center).
2) Mobile reserves for counterattacks (e.g. 29 Division in "Uranus" or 16 Division at Mius-Front)
For the mode 1) motorization was redundant. Mode 2) was the same as employment of panzer divisions. I don't see any rationale in having two types of divisions for the same task, and if you compare these two types the authorized organization of the panzer division looks more potent (more tanks, armored artillery, armor infantry etc) and possess larger attack power needed for counterattacks. Old-type motorized division (*) was even weaker as it lacked armor.
I proceed from the notion that the number of mobile divisions was excessive and should be reduced to have a lesser number of stronger divisions. Since motorized/PG divisions are weaker than panzer division it is natural to get rid of them first. Moreover they are easily convertible to defense infantry divisions, such a reorganization requires relatively little time and efforts. This reorganization was already in process by April 43, as 14 and 36 ID (mot) were converted to usual infantry divisions.
(*) It is worth to remind that by April 1943 on the Eastern Front only Wiking and 16 ID (mot) had their tank battalions. 3 divisions were destroyed at Stalingrad, GD and three SS divisions were converted to de-facto panzer divisions.
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
I disagree. In many cases large sectors of the front remained mostly static for a long time. Army Group North from late 1941 to January 1944, Army Group Center from October 1943 and until Bagration. In other cases even when the front was broken the German infantry managed to retreat in relatively good order and without catastrophic losses (summer/autumn of 1943).
They needed mobile reserves in order to stabilize the front following each Russian attack.
Agree in general. My point is that the number of mobile divisions was too large. Hence they were frequently employed to defend portions of the static front instead of being mobile reserves. Moreover, their combat value was diluted due to a lack of tanks and motor vehicles. So I propose to have a smaller number of units but with maximized combat strength which would save personnel, transport and weapons.