One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Terry Duncan » 09 Dec 2020 12:35

Unlocked due to continuing more relaxed atmosphere on the forum.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 12 Dec 2020 10:20

Terry Duncan wrote:
09 Dec 2020 12:35
Unlocked due to continuing more relaxed atmosphere on the forum.

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Thanks Terry.

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I'll now return to regularly-scheduled programming of analyzing the implications of Germany taking the SU seriously and therefore planning a stronger Barbarossa.

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One very large issue that I haven't discussed much is German ammunition production and, therefore, Ostheer's ammo expenditure.

The index of German ammo production peaked in 3Q 1940 at a level not reached again for nearly two years - 2Q 1942:

[Year/Quarter]

39/4: 74
40/1: 82
40/2:125
40/3:139
40/4:102
41/1:105
41/2:106
41/3:100
41/4:95
42/1:105
42/2:147
42/3:193
42/4:220

Source: USSBS Germany report, p.283 table 112

As the chart shows, German ammo production during Barbarossa was lower than at any other point after early 1Q/40.

But that doesn't tell the whole story: Flak's share of ammo production peaked at 34-35% during Barbarossa (3/4Q's 1941) per Westermann's Flak (p.128). Per the same source, Flak consumed only 14% of German ammo production in the first half of 1943.

So had Germany been as East-focused during Barbarossa, ammo-wise, as it was amidst the W.Allied bombing campaigns of 1943, that alone would have produced a 32% increase in Heer ammo production [ (35-14) / (100-35) ]. Aside: this leaves out Flak shells used as PaK but overall PaK was small portion of ammo production/expenditure. Revise the impact down to 30% and the point remains.

What about increasing overall ammunition production above ATL levels?

Well of course this would have to involve some additional resource input, either (1) from other weapons programs, (2) from the civilian economy, or (3) from additional use of foreign labor.

Re (2), I've discussed elsewhere that substantial slack remained in the German war economy, relative to later mobilization levels. viewtopic.php?f=66&t=252374#p2295663

Re (3), I've discussed upthread that Germany initially was lax in its recruitment of foreign labor. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=243557&p=2216965&h ... s#p2216965

So what about shifts from other programs? A critical thing to realize about maintaining artillery shell production is that it wouldn't have been a shift of production resources but rather the maintenance of shell production, post-France. A well-established production system - such as Germany had in artillery shells in mid-1940 - uses resources much more efficiently than a newly-established one. When Germany shifted production from shells to other products after France it caused an economy-wide decrease in labor productivity as workers adjusted to new jobs, such as LW production:

Image

Germany would have gotten more shells in 1940/41 - in RM terms - from maintaining shell production than it got planes/U-boats/etc, again in RM terms. ...so even if increased shell production came from other weapons programs rather than from foreign labor and/or domestic economy resources, the opportunity cost of such production would have been low.

Note that none of the efficiency rationale is just hindsight: The German Army's Armaments office (Heeres Waffenamt or "WaA") issued a memorandum ("Throttling of Ammunition") bemoaning the cuts to shell production and predicting that restoration of previous levels would take 1-2 years:

Image

Partial translation:
(2) WaA is of the opinion that for the throttling measures, the time it takes to restart production until the full demand is reached is of decisive importance. It must be avoided under all circumstances as the full restart after the lifting of the throttling measures extends over 1-2 years.
...so Germany went into Barbarossa knowing that the Army objected to the cuts in ammo production and that long-term effects were foreseen - effects which were as serious as WaA predicted. Again, only possible if you don't take the SU seriously and assume a short campaign.

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How would greater ammunition supply have cashed out in terms of Barbarossa outcome? I've avoided this topic so far primarily because, unlike having one more panzer group, it's difficult to pinpoint a discrete operational outcome from thousands of guns firing more often across thousands of unit-level tactical engagements. More shells landing among Soviet soldiers would mean more dead/wounded soldiers - hopefully that's not debated. When these casualties accrued could have operational/strategic implications if the surplus casualties were great enough at a particular time.

Let's look only at the ATL casualty balance at the end of roughly the first year, assuming more German shells fired.

To form an OTL baseline for the ATL casualty delta we need to know OTL Soviet bloody casualties. This is a fraught subject due to Soviet/Russian manipulation/withholding of data. But some recent work has allowed a decent estimate of the high-level picture:
  • Lopkhovsky's The Price of Victory contains in Appendix B a report from a Colonel Efremov giving the following statistics:
    • RKKA strength on June 22: 4,924,000
    • RKKA strength on March 1, 1942: 9,315,000
    • Mobilized into RKKA by March 1: 12,190,000 [excludes 300,000 returned to economy]
    • Simple arithmetic suggests that losses by March 1, 1942 were 7,799,000.
  • Germans reported 3.367,206 PoW for 1941, let's say 3.5mil by March 1, 1942.
  • Subtracting PoW from Efremov's implied losses gives up to 4.29mil permanent "bloody" casualties (KIA and non-returning wounded).
  • Some of RKKA's permanent losses were MIA soldiers who apparently simply walked home or joined partisan bands. NKVD reported 900,000 soldiers "re-enlisted" from liberated territories later in the war.
  • Leaving a very generous allowance for former RKKA among the partisans, a reasonable estimate from Efremov's report is that RKKA had 3mil permanent bloody casualties in 1941.
  • This does not account for casualties to VVS, NKVD, Navy, or militia groups before they were folded into RKKA.
3mil killed/disabled is much higher than the quasi-official data from Krivosheev but that work is indefensible on Soviet personnel casualties (though apparently accurate on material losses).

How many of these were killed/disabled by artillery fire? I can think of no good reference for these stats from Soviet records but 50% seems a conservative estimate. That gives us an OTL baseline of 1.5mil dead/disabled by shellfire.

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Now for calculation of ATL casualty deltas. We need to posit two main parameters: (1) how many more shells fired in % delta to OTL and (2) what is marginal utility of additional shells, relative to OTL average effectiveness?

Re (1):
  • Case 1 is the simple shift from OTL 41's 35% Flak share to OTL '43's 14% Flak share, with the remainder going to artillery shells. This alone gives a 32% delta to production during Barbarossa but let's call it 30%.
  • Case 2 is a 50% delta to OTL total ammo production, with all additional production going to artillery. Combined with Case 1, this roughly doubles OTL artillery shell production. Note this implies an index value of 150 3Q/41, only 8% higher than 3Q/40 - and probably lower in monthly terms than OTL June/July 1940 when ammo production peaked. So it was well within demonstrated German capabilities, had it been willing to accept resource tradeoffs from other areas or mobilized other inputs (e.g. foreign labor or domestic reserves).
Re (2):
In most circumstances there would be diminishing utility to the marginal shell, as commanders would conserve fire for more essential moments under shell-scarcity conditions. In combination with another predictable aspect of taking the SU seriously, however, this wouldn't necessarily hold: better rail logistics would mean avoiding OTL ammunition shortages that recur in the primary sources. Halder, for example, mentions at least the following occasions:
  • July 16th: "Before Kiev, situation seems to have tightened as a result of ammunition shortage."
  • July 17th: AGN has only half issue of ammo; AGC has 3/4; 17th Army used half-3/4's of an ammo issue in a single day.
  • July 23rd: "Supply situation. Still tight in Center, where consumption of ammunition is at a mounting rate. Instead of the required steady flow of 14 trains, arrivals vary between 8 and 15."
  • July 28th: Heavy rocket launchers very effective but ammunition supply is difficult.
  • July 29th: Wagner reports that replenishment of first ammunition issue will take until August 15th, stockpiling possible only afterwards. "Straits of 11th Army due to lack of ammunition"
  • July 31st: Wagner reports "If railroad service to AGC remains as it is now, we can meet current demands but cannot accumulate reserve ammunition."
...that's just a brief perusal of Halder's diary for mentions of ammunition supply during July, when logistics were better than at later times [btw, I omitted several mentions of ammo difficulties for advanced panzer spearheads, as better rail logistics wouldn't have helped them]. Clearly German armies experienced a lack of ammunition at times when the marginal shell would have been very valuable; better rail logistics as specified in this ATL would have provided marginal shells of great value. Their expenditure would be covered in other OTL instances by the greater overall supply of shells.

One can "plug and play" with different parameters for (1) and (2), depending on your read. I don't have a firm conviction on where either would lay so far.

In a maximal scenario, doubling German shellfire with 100% of OTL average effect would produce 1.5mil additional RKKA bloody casualties by March 1, 1942, say 1mil additional dead/disabled Soviets by Dec. 1, 1941. As RKKA's strength in its operating fronts was ~3.2mil on Dec. 1, 1941, removing 1mil men from its OoB would preclude any winter offensive. Removing 800k men from its November OoB would probably imply the loss of Moscow. In that maximal scenario, probably RKKA would deploy some of the men (usually ~4mil) training internally earlier. To do so would, however, involve a serious shortening of already-too-short training, implying very low combat effectiveness and increased casualties.

A more minimal parameter for marginal shell utility and twice the German shellfire would be 50% effectiveness relative to OTL. That would still predict ~750k fewer RKKA on the battlefield in March and ~500k fewer for the Moscow counteroffensive (though again using largely-untrained men would probably occur). So with even this minimal parameter, strategic consequences are possible.

We'd also have to consider the complete attrition picture: More German shellfire doesn't imply more Russian, as RKKA was scraping the barrel on ammo supply. Under-remarked is that the Germans overran facilities capable of 13mil annual shell production; RKKA received only 2mil shells in 4Q 1941 [Walter S. Dunn, The Soviet Economy and the Red Army, 1930-45 p.26]. A soldier killed by a marginal shell in June '41 doesn't kill any Germans in July '41. At even a 10:1 exchange rate of bloody casualties, 1.5mil additional Soviet dead/disabled means 150k fewer German dead/disabled, which is ~25% of permanent German losses through March '42. Having 100k at the front on Dec. 1, '41 against fewer or untrained RKKA could contribute to tipping the balance outside Moscow. Having >150k more Germans in May '42 would open up additional possibilities for Blau.

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I realize that doubling Heer shell production during Barbarossa doesn't, on its own, imply doubling Heer expenditure. We'd have to create the full picture of stocks and flows for that. As this is an initial and open-ended discussion of the issue - an assay of its potential impact - the calculations have been rough to gauge an outline.

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As I said already, I'm not strongly committed to this or that operational/strategic outcome for increased ATL German shell production. Rather, it's a factor that, in combination with others that would flow from taking the SU seriously, further contributes to the overall narrative of the SU being fatally weakened in '41 and unable to hold any European territory in '42. IMO a sufficient condition for these outcomes is already present in the OP.

Open to suggestions/revisions of this ongoing ATL inquiry.
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 12 Dec 2020 11:59

Another aspect of this ATL that I haven't yet discussed: capture of mobilizing soldiers early in the war.

Again my main source is Lopukhovksy's The Price of Victory. Chapter Three discusses at length 500,000 reservists who were mobilized and registered by the military districts, but who did not arrive at their units - presumably they were captured by the rapidly-advancing Ostheer en route to units (some may have absconded as well). Krivosheev admits that these losses occurred but plays games with their final tally, as Lopukhovsky discusses ad nauseum.

Colonel Efremov's report of March 1, 1942 (App. B of Price) states that the Red Army received 126,000 men as replacements up to August 1, 1941.

Nigel Askey's Operation Barbarossa, volume IIIB contains a table of RKKA replacements (as opposed to new formations) that shows the flow of replacements to RKKA in 1941:

Image

As you can see (if you squint), RKKA received only 126,000 replacements in June-July, far fewer than August's 627,000. As pre-war RKKA planning stressed the rapid provision of manpower to understrength border divisions (see, e.g., Askey), it makes no sense that RKKA received so few replacements in June-July. The 500k missing mobilized reservists must have been overrun by Ostheer during the border battles.

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What's the relevance to the ATL?

A somewhat minor factor but still worth tallying:

From the foregoing it's clear that rapid German advances caused capture of mobilized reservists prior to their reaching units. But not all mobilizing reservists were captured in this period - about 20% reached their units (126,000 of 626,000). As the only plausible explanation for the captures is the rapidity of the German advance, we would expect the non-captured Soviet reservists to have mustered in places where the Germans did not advance so rapidly in June-July. That's almost entirely a matter of Army Group South's sector, where a reasonably coherent front held well into August.

A faster AGS advance - the centerpiece of this ATL - would imply more reservists being captured between mob center and units. How many more? 126,000 is the absolute limit; half of that would be ~60k men.

Again a somewhat minor factor in grand scheme but an additional 60k or so men removed from Southwest Front's OoB should be part of ATL narrative, as it's likely to ensue from the Germans mounting a rapid double encirclement in Galicia (followed by another west of the Dniepr).
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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by History Learner » 13 Jan 2021 02:59

Personally, I think the forces on hand were sufficient, it was mainly Hitler making a bad strategic guess as to how to conquer the Dnieper barrier.
On 18 March Hitler decided that Sixth Army was to carry out the main thrust of Army Group South. The plan for a Twelfth Army advance from Moldavia toward the northeast was abandoned. The German and Romanian units assembling along the Pruth were to tie down the opposing forces and pursue them only in the event that they should withdraw. This change in plan had to be made because Hitler contended that the Dnestr was a formidable obstacle that could not be surmounted by a frontal attack without considerable delay. According to the new plan the powerful left of Army Group South was to punch its way to the Kiev area and approach the Dnestr line from the rear. The forces assembled in Moldavia would have to be sufficiently strong to prevent a Russian penetration into Romania, but this danger did not seem acute since Brauchitsch had expressed the opinion that the Russians would not attack Romania unless they were attacked from Romanian territory. According to Hitler, Hungary was to take no part in Operation BARBAROSSA, and Slovakia was to assist only in the concentration and supply of German troops.

The Yugoslav coup d'etat on 26 March induced Hitler to expand the operations in the Balkans by attacking Yugoslavia in addition to Greece. The greater scope of the campaign in the Balkans necessitated that an army headquarters assume control of the occupied territories after the end of hostilities. Twelfth Army, which was in charge of the operations against Greece, was selected for this role, and Eleventh Army was designated as substitute headquarters for the forces assembled in Moldavia.

On 30 March 1941 the army group and army commanders reported to Hitler. During this conference the mission of Eleventh Army was discussed, and Hitler ordered the army forces divided into three separate groups, capable of backing up the Romanian divisions in case of need. Since Eleventh Army had thus been given a defensive mission, the motorized forces originally earmarked for that area were transferred to First Panzer Group. The encirclement of the Russian forces in the western Ukraine was to be effected by a single envelopment from the north, during which the armored forces were to thrust to the Dnepr at and south of Kiev, bear southeastward, and follow the bend of the river to its mouth, thus preventing the Russian forces in the western Ukraine from withdrawing across the river.
Source.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Futurist » 13 Jan 2021 03:35

What should Hitler have done instead?

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by History Learner » 13 Jan 2021 03:47

Futurist wrote:
13 Jan 2021 03:35
What should Hitler have done instead?
Kept the original mission slated for 12th Army, using 11th Army to handle occupation duties in the Balkans.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Futurist » 13 Jan 2021 04:00

What are the differences between these two armies?

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by History Learner » 13 Jan 2021 04:08

Futurist wrote:
13 Jan 2021 04:00
What are the differences between these two armies?
Equipment, capabilities, and mission profile.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Futurist » 13 Jan 2021 04:33

Interesting. So, the 1941 Yugoslav coup really was crucial in regards to all of this, eh?

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by History Learner » 13 Jan 2021 04:44

Futurist wrote:
13 Jan 2021 04:33
Interesting. So, the 1941 Yugoslav coup really was crucial in regards to all of this, eh?
The decision to abandon the envelopment was made before the Yugoslav debacle, but ultimately cemented it and used up resources that could've been better used for 11th Army even then.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by Futurist » 13 Jan 2021 04:49

Do you think that had this decision gone differently Operation Barbarossa's outcome would have swung the other way?

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by History Learner » 13 Jan 2021 06:10

Futurist wrote:
13 Jan 2021 04:49
Do you think that had this decision gone differently Operation Barbarossa's outcome would have swung the other way?
Yes, it's basically what the OP outlines but without the need for additional divisions/production and I agree with their strategic thinking on this matter in broad strokes*. AGS can do Kiev on its own in August, if not sooner, enabling the Donets, Rostov and likely Crimea to be secured in 1941 too. Only way for the Soviets to prevent that is heavily reinforcing the Ukraine, but that's not going to be possible with Army Group Center able to do Taifun in August/September and thus threaten Moscow. With said economic areas secured and likely Moscow too, if Army Group North doesn't take Leningrad in late 1941, they will do so in early 1942 without the need for Operation Storfang (Originally, Manstein was going to do Nordlicht against Leningrad. With said city taken out, a join German-Finnish operation against the Murmansk Railway will occur too.

At this point, the USSR will be in a state of collapse and the rest of 1942 and into 1943 will just be a mop up. If they don't reach the Urals in 1943, they will do so by 1944. From there, as the OP has outlined in other threads, it's likely a stalemate vis-a-vis the Anglo-Americans occur and we get a Nazi-Liberal Democracy Cold War.

* Only thing I disagree with is the idea that no amount of changes Post-June 22nd could result in a German victory because in my reading and estimations based on such, it was certainly doable.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by KDF33 » 13 Jan 2021 06:51

History Learner wrote:
13 Jan 2021 04:08
Equipment, capabilities, and mission profile.
What were the motorised formations in question?

How would a shift of armored/motorised formations to that southern thrust affect the engagement at Dubno?

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by History Learner » 13 Jan 2021 06:59

KDF33 wrote:
13 Jan 2021 06:51
History Learner wrote:
13 Jan 2021 04:08
Equipment, capabilities, and mission profile.
What were the motorised formations in question?

How would a shift of armored/motorised formations to that southern thrust affect the engagement at Dubno?
If we're assuming 12th Army isn't pulled out and the plan remains a double envelopment, I don't see much change for Brody/Dubno. As far as what forces they would be bringing to the table:
The southern arm of the pincers was the Twelfth Army, consisting of German and Romanian divisions and including one motorized infantry and two armored divisions. It was to drive northeastward via Kirovograd toward the Dnepr. The connecting link between the two prongs was to be the relatively weak Seventeenth Army, which had no armored units. Since neutral Hungary's territory was not to be used, this army was to assemble southeast of Lublin and advance toward Vinnitsa and Berdichev, in order to pin down the front of the Russian forces that were threatened by a double envelopment.

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Re: One more panzer group in Barbarossa, plans for a two-year campaign

Post by KDF33 » 13 Jan 2021 07:18

History Learner wrote:
13 Jan 2021 06:59
If we're assuming 12th Army isn't pulled out and the plan remains a double envelopment, I don't see much change for Brody/Dubno. As far as what forces they would be bringing to the table:
Where was the pincer supposed to close?

3 mobile divisions seem to me like quite a limited force.

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