Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

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Paul Lakowski
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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Paul Lakowski » 22 Sep 2018 02:37

This forum needs a like button.

Good points Kingfish!


BTW ART
"the number of mobile divisions is unsustainable and should be reduced".
As I noted in post #3 each side reduced vehicles per infantry division through out the war. If you take it to its conclusion and remove ALL VEHICLES FROM 1944 LEG INFANTRY you free up nearly 200,000 vehicles, enough for 46 more mobile divisions.

To facilitate this -ALL infantry divisions would have to become 100% wagon drawn . To equate 1940 infantry division cartage, that would need ~ 2300 wagons and about 8000 horses. With the 1944 figures that's about 300 x 1365 wagons/karts, that's only enough for 178 wagon infantry divisions, either that or each division has only 60% of the 1940 supply.

Another alternative would be to classify the remaining left over leg mobile infantry divisions as "fortification divisions". At first glance this may sound nuts -but many infantry divisions spent much time in quasi static positions. Each Army Korps could benefit from a division proficient in fortification construction positioning etc. Just as importantly tens of thousands of guns -mortars- artillery & small arms were captured during the war often with only limited ammo. Fortification divisions would be trained in best exploiting these assets.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by jesk » 22 Sep 2018 05:13

Kingfish wrote:
22 Sep 2018 01:00
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.
These arguments suggest that the Germans fought correctly. But, always a vivid example, January 1945 on the Vistula 1 Belarusian Front consisting of 10 armies against 9 German divisions. Ratio in the Baltic 7 Soviet armies against 31 German divisions. 400 thousand soldiers in Norway. Only through the corpse of Hitler the Germans could make a normal regrouping of forces. No other way.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Art » 22 Sep 2018 16:39

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.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Art » 22 Sep 2018 16:45

Paul Lakowski wrote:
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.
Frankly speaking, I can't recall examples when they did that. Moreover, a disproportional number of PG divisions actually fought against the Western Allies.
To facilitate this -ALL infantry divisions would have to become 100% wagon drawn
I don't think it was fully realistic. You need vehicles for commanders and HQ elements, to two AT guns, and to haul supplies from railheads. But certain economy would be useful, of course. Still, you have a problem of availability of tanks.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Paul Lakowski » 22 Sep 2018 19:18

Art wrote:
22 Sep 2018 16:45
Paul Lakowski wrote:
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.
Frankly speaking, I can't recall examples when they did that. Moreover, a disproportional number of PG divisions actually fought against the Western Allies.
To facilitate this -ALL infantry divisions would have to become 100% wagon drawn
I don't think it was fully realistic. You need vehicles for commanders and HQ elements, to two AT guns, and to haul supplies from railheads. But certain economy would be useful, of course. Still, you have a problem of availability of tanks.
All the Korps/Army & Army group formations would be fully motorized to provide forward supply , filling this role for the wagon divisions. This is also why 1940 infantry "cartage" was used as the yard stick. All divisional weapons would be less that 2 tons artillery & 500kg for All Regimental weapons.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Kingfish » 22 Sep 2018 20:03

Art wrote:
22 Sep 2018 16:39
Mode 2) was the same as employment of panzer divisions.
Up to a point, yes, but beyond that their roles diverge. The PDs would be tasked with blunting the Russian attack. The PzGr would, in theory, follow up and deploy behind and along side the PDs, thereby sealing the breach and allowing the latter to withdraw back into their proper role.

Lose the mobility of the PzGr and you essentially fix the PD to a section of the front while it waits for the marching infantry to redeploy. A good example of the consequence of that is in the HJ's defense of Caen, where it had to endure the battering of three successive allied operations.
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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by jesk » 22 Sep 2018 21:11

Art wrote:
22 Sep 2018 16:45
Frankly speaking, I can't recall examples when they did that. Moreover, a disproportional number of PG divisions actually fought against the Western Allies.
This was Hitler's trick to divert attention from the low concentration of forces for a strike. What is known about the Kursk and the Ardennes, the main problem of the OKW there was a shortage of infantry. Tank divisions are only 10% of the Wehrmacht. It turns out that the Germans had a lot of 10% of divisions and a little out of 90%. Split of divisions by technical characteristics, into tank and infantry divisions, just distracts from thoughts about the scarcity of forces collected for the offensive. The Ardennes are the decisive battle for many, but only 30 out of 270 German divisions are involved there. 240 divisions watched as colleagues from 30 divisions tried to reverse the course of the war ...
Hitler needed tank divisions only to use the principle divide and conquer. Tanks against infantry.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by jesk » 22 Sep 2018 21:23

Kingfish wrote:
22 Sep 2018 20:03
Lose the mobility of the PzGr and you essentially fix the PD to a section of the front while it waits for the marching infantry to redeploy. A good example of the consequence of that is in the HJ's defense of Caen, where it had to endure the battering of three successive allied operations.
The tank divisions can be more effective in the course of a deep breakthrough. If talk about a stretch 10-30 km along the front, conventional artillery is quite suitable. She moved all by horse, if there were no cars. Motorized divisions are psychologically safer to defend, there is essentially no difference. Even a machine gun mobile on a horse was available.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Paul Lakowski » 22 Sep 2018 21:35

The lack of mobile artillery was one of the failing points of German infantry defence, which is why they were doomed on the eastern front. Horse drawn artillery is completely inadequate to counter enemy massing. StuG covered motorized infantry- supported by mobile heavy artillery , would have balanced off this impossible situation. Mind you without local air superiority- Recon can't ID main enemy concentrations before & during battles on the frontiers.

Wagon & Horse divisions had to adopt much smaller divisional frontages, in turn demanding many more infantry division's per 100km and thus is a much larger wastage of motorization in these infantry armies. Looking at some maps a mobile division sometimes occupied 45-50km front, while infantry divisions often had frontages of 10-15km.

HEER had 750-800,000 vehicles -mid war- and this could allow them 187-200 x 4000 vehicle units [each 'vehicle unit' would equal a mobile division or Korps/Army organization including attached LW units]. The personnel base was roughly 350 Divisions and 80-90 Korps & 20-30 armies , plus at least 1/2 dozen Army Groups. That's about 106-126 command groups - leaving 61-81 mobile divisions , AT FULL STRENGHT.

However historically divisions where rarely ever at full strength! So 90% of strength might be more realistic historically - THEN this allows 208-222 'vehicle units' . Going on the above formula , that's roughly 106-126 command units plus 116-82 mobile divisions. If we further average out to 80% of TOE, this allows 234-250 'vehicle units'. Again based on the above force structure that's 106-126 command units plus 144-108 mobile divisions.

Since each of the 300 historical infantry division had roughly 1320 wagons , that's almost 400,000 wagons at full strength. The historical ratio of horses to wagons was ~ 3:1 at this time, suggesting a base of about 1.2 million horses - which is not far from historical numbers for mid war. If true this suggest 172 wagon divisions at full strength and maybe 215 wagon divisions at 80% of strength. Combined that's approximately 359 to 323 divisions, either wagon or vehicular divisions plus fully motorized command structure.

If each Army Korps has 3 wagon divisions plus a motorized division , that should leave 37 to 74 mobile divisions in 26-36 Korps- as a reserve.
Last edited by Paul Lakowski on 22 Sep 2018 22:39, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by jesk » 22 Sep 2018 21:58

Paul Lakowski wrote:
22 Sep 2018 21:35
The lack of mobile artillery was one of the failing points of German infantry defence, which is why they were doomed on the eastern front. Horse drawn artillery is completely inadequate to counter enemy massing.
Why is it not adequate? For the day of the fight, 3 times the battery changed the position. This was enough to counter the enemy. Do not forget mortars. They are even easier to carry. To talk about "doom". To begin with, it was necessary to evacuate a million soldiers from Norway and Courland. Only after such decisive actions can talk about the seriousness of the war. Because of gross errors in the distribution of divisions by area, it was all LOL

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Re: Hitler reforms the Panzerwaffe- April 1943

Post by Paul Lakowski » 22 Sep 2018 22:45

In any kind of mobile battle, displacing wagon divisions 3 times a day is impossible. No sooner had they dug in all the artillery and regiments, battalions etc , they would have to move again. I gather heavy wagon artillery required 2-8 hours to set up and presumably the same amount to tear down to move, to say nothing of the travel time in-between.

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

Post by Robert Rojas » 22 Sep 2018 23:05

Greetings to both citizen Jesk and the community as a whole. Howdy Jesk! Well sir, in deference to your point OR points-of-view as "articulated" within your posting of Saturday - September 22, 2018 - 12:58pm, old yours truly was curious if you were actually being serious with your assertions OR were you being tongue-in-cheek with your commentary? A clarification on your part would be greatly appreciated. I, for one, find your cavalier attitude toward this subject more than a bit disturbing. It's just some sobering food for thought. Humble pie anyone? Well, that's my latest two cents, pfennigs or kopecks worth on this not so hypothetical topic of interest - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day over in your corner of White Russia.

Best Regards,
Uncle Bob :idea: :roll: :|
"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 thaddeus_c » 23 Sep 2018 04:01

Paul Lakowski wrote:
22 Sep 2018 21:35
The lack of mobile artillery was one of the failing points of German infantry defence, which is why they were doomed on the eastern front. Horse drawn artillery is completely inadequate to counter enemy massing. StuG covered motorized infantry- supported by mobile heavy artillery , would have balanced off this impossible situation. Mind you without local air superiority- Recon can't ID main enemy concentrations before & during battles on the frontiers.
how would their force structure work if SPGs and casemate type vehicles had been pushed over proper tanks?

(still produce PZ IV and Tiger)

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

Post by Robert Rojas » 23 Sep 2018 05:43

Greetings to both citizen Thaddeus_c and the community as a whole. Howdy Thad! Well sir, in respect to your posting of Saturday - September 22, 2018 - 7:01pm, old yours truly is intrigued with your idea and suggestion of CASEMATE TYPE VEHICLES. In terms of machinery, what exactly did you have in mind here? Incidentally, during that passion play that would come to be known as the Vietnam War, both the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps would add protection to the turrets of their M-48 Main Battle Tanks by layering concentric rings of SAND BAGS around the entire turret. This field expedient ostensibly transformed these armored fighting vehicles into rolling bunkers. Of course, the additional weight of the sand bags also degraded the vehicles physical performance in terms of fuel economy and engine wear. Well, that's my latest two cents, pfennigs an kopecks worth on this no so hypothetical topic of interest - for now anyway. As always, I would like to bid you an especially copacetic day no matter where you just might happen to find yourself on Terra Firma.

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 Cult Icon » 23 Sep 2018 06:10

Kingfish wrote:
22 Sep 2018 20:03

Up to a point, yes, but beyond that their roles diverge. The PDs would be tasked with blunting the Russian attack. The PzGr would, in theory, follow up and deploy behind and along side the PDs, thereby sealing the breach and allowing the latter to withdraw back into their proper role.

Lose the mobility of the PzGr and you essentially fix the PD to a section of the front while it waits for the marching infantry to redeploy. A good example of the consequence of that is in the HJ's defense of Caen, where it had to endure the battering of three successive allied operations.

This is kind of odd to me. The Panzer-grenadier divisions and PzDs were used to hold front sectors (and often the most critical ones). The PzGD had less capability than the PzDs.

The 17.SS "GVB" was in a way the "HJ" of the US sector and did a lot of fighting. Hausser reinforced its front sector with 2.SS DR armor, infantry, and vehicles making it basically a panzer division in the defense.

Tactically, what was often happening 43-44 was that the PzDs and PzGD were defending front sectors with weak infantry and using their AFVs, armored cars, and SPWs to screen the front and police the cavernous gaps.

The infantry divisions, often worn out too, with infantry and support weapons that struggled to contain strong armored pressure- eventually received their wish to get Stugs and PzJ AFVs in their PzJ battalions to increase their morale and defensive abilities. Prior to this, the Stug and PzJ battalions were Korps and Army assets and the Korps commander controlled the AFVs.

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