Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Oct 2021 00:51

To add, the German forces use Arko to coordinate mass fires, linking various units together.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by T. A. Gardner » 30 Oct 2021 05:02

Cult Icon wrote:
29 Oct 2021 23:19
T. A. Gardner wrote:
29 Oct 2021 22:57

A good part of that has to do with the size of the German electronics industry. They simply didn't have the capacity to meet demand. Making things worse, the Luftwaffe got priority over the Wehrmacht for electronics. Same thing went with ammunition. Flak came first, the Heer's needs came second. Thus artillery was usually short of ammunition too.
sources for these claims??
I really don't have a single one or two I can cite for the electronics. It's something I've studied for like 40 + years now. For example, without Dutch Philips being taken over by the Germans they'd have really been hit in this industry. Many of their most important vacuum tubes were made by Dutch Philips. The whole German valve (vacuum tube) industry was really maxed out. The Germans late war were relying on captured Allied cavity magnetrons for the most part to do microwave radar because they lacked the industry and materials to make them in production quantities.

On shells, I think it was Overly, but you can see this in campaigns from Normandy onward the best. The Luftwaffe flak batteries are well supplied with shells compared to Heer artillery, much of which is captures.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 30 Oct 2021 05:15

Sheldrake wrote:Horse drawn transport was inadequate for ammunition resupply and tied to railheads.
Does anybody have insight into the actual logistical ton-km carried by ID's organic horse vs. truck supply columns? A first-wave ID had 1,189 horse teams, 516 trucks, and 237 light transports in 1941. Motorizing the AT (72 guns) and some of the engineering elements (45 squads) leaves "spare" trucks for organic logistical lift. We all agree that trucks carry more than horses... In Supplying War, van Creveld says that the ID's organic truck columns (Kleincolonnenraum) were underutilized, resulting in anecdotes such as one division sending trucks back to Germany to retrieve sausage-making equipment.

If ID's had insufficient organic transport for the artillery supply from railheads, we'd have seen shells piling up at German railheads. I have never seen evidence of this happening and I've read through much of Ostheer's supply reports in NARA.

This seems like one of those WW2 areas where "everyone knows" a particular fact but nobody can provide any direct answers.
Sheldrake wrote:However, success in Poland and France raised the idea that armour and aircraft would be the key to victory. If the Germans had more resources or fewer demands in the East they would probably have more panzer divisions.
Were that true, we'd expect the Germans to have spent similarly on armor and artillery. Germany spent >6x as much on ammunition as on armor until 1943, however, and ammo always dwarfed armor even late in the war.

Image

By contrast, the US spent only 56% more on artillery ammo than on tanks and SP guns in 1944:

Image
Cult Icon wrote:The weakness of German artillery is also why the German ground force was crippled in the West as they could not call on on their Luftflotte and Fliegerkorps to blast a path for their assault forces, leaving the combat burden to infantry and armor, broken up into small groups instead of concentrated.
Was it artillery weakness or the relative weakness of the German army in general? The one time they achieved something like numerical superiority at an operational level - beginning of the Bulge - they performed decently well without overwhelming air support/superiority.
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Oct 2021 06:02

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
30 Oct 2021 05:15

Was it artillery weakness or the relative weakness of the German army in general? The one time they achieved something like numerical superiority at an operational level - beginning of the Bulge - they performed decently well without overwhelming air support/superiority.
In the heavy breakthrough of strong defenses in the Eastern Front heavy committment of the air force was required to supplement the artillery support. The German army's artillery force wasn't optimized for heavy breakthrough to a good enough extent, their close-support air force was basically their mobile "artillery division/corps". The performance of the Autumn Mist opening fires wasn't good. The ammunition supply was effected by the battle of the Hurtgen Forest and constituted some half-hour of firing, crippled by the lack of recon due to the strict secrecy of the operation.

The key to the early successes was that the foggy and cloudy weather grounded the Allied air support so the 5th Pz Army could advance/assault without massed air attacks disorganizing and stalling their units.

Certainly the numerical superiority of infantry & armor was decisive to the gains before Christmas day as well, and the good performance of the 18th Volksgrenadier division (destroyed 2 regiments of the 106th Inf) and the 2nd Panzer (reduced CCR 9th AD and CCB 10th AD to small remnants). The numerical superiority was sufficient to make up for the low quality of the German army and the lack of supporting airpower in Autumn mist.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 30 Oct 2021 06:31

Cult Icon wrote:The key to the early successes was that the foggy and cloudy weather grounded the Allied air support so the 5th Pz Army could advance/assault without massed air attacks disorganizing and stalling their units.
That I don't doubt. But it's the difference between necessary conditions: (1) the enemy not deploying crushing air superiority and/or (2) Germany having crushing air superiority. You're saying "and"; I'm wondering whether "or" is the sufficient and necessary explanation generally. You've provided good evidence (in other threads) that strong LW support was necessary to LW offensives in 1942 - particularly Richtofen's tactical specialist command. This doesn't seem true of 1941, however, and probably not of 1940 either - LW basically didn't do tactical support unless there was a strong demarcation line like Meuse River. Only AGC had real tactical air support at the beginning of Barbarossa (all Stukas concentrated there), yet Ostheer made breakthroughs often. It remains possible that crushing air support was necessary in 1942 (and after) because force ratios were worse for Germany than in 1941 and earlier, but that had force ratios remained at 1941 levels it would not have been necessary.

I don't doubt either that the German army needed numerical advantage in offensives against the West, nor do I think the supposedly elite SS units in the Bulge were very good.
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by T. A. Gardner » 30 Oct 2021 06:45

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
30 Oct 2021 05:15
Was it artillery weakness or the relative weakness of the German army in general? The one time they achieved something like numerical superiority at an operational level - beginning of the Bulge - they performed decently well without overwhelming air support/superiority.
By "Bulge" I assume you mean the 44 Ardennes offensive. The Germans overall performed rather pathetically in that. 6th Pz Army in the northern end of the bulge went almost nowhere. They attacked into Eisenborn Ridge and managed to barely penetrate the US lines.
They did a bit better when at the southern edge of their area of operation the 14th Cavalry Group--poorly led and deployed-- and 106th Infantry Division collapsed. A redirection of units created a reasonable penetration of the US lines there.

5th Pz Army to their south did better against a single US infantry division facing them, but even then, the poor quality of their engineering components slowed the advance sufficiently to create a stalemate rather than a breakthrough.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 30 Oct 2021 07:02

T. A. Gardner wrote:
30 Oct 2021 06:45
By "Bulge" I assume you mean the 44 Ardennes offensive.
No I meant the other Battle of the Bulge, playing out during COVID over my belt.
T.A. Gardner wrote:The Germans overall performed rather pathetically in that.
I know that a centerpiece of some folks' lives is trying to trigger Wehraboos online and that's probably where this is coming from. That's ok but I won't engage on anything other than a discussion of direct evidence on qualitative factors. The only quantitative evaluation of qualitative performance I have is TDI's various studies, which show a very slight German qualitative edge persisting into the Bulge. TDI's studies aren't perfect; its authors certainly demonstrate the full gamut of human flaws.

I could easily believe that the US army was qualitatively better in the Bulge, considering that by late '44 its soldiers were younger, better-educated, taller, fitter, etc. than the Germans. US had better communications, better morale, better supplies - among other factors. But we'll stick to evidence and avoid internet claptrap.
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Sheldrake » 30 Oct 2021 08:46

Let me correct that for you...

:D
Cult Icon wrote:
30 Oct 2021 00:13
Sheldrake wrote:
29 Oct 2021 23:02

3. Demands of the East? Yup the Germans did invest in artillery in the run up to the Second World War. However, success in Poland and France raised the idea that armour and aircraft would be the key to victory. If the Germans had more resources or fewer demands in the East they would probably have more panzer divisions.
"IF" the Germans had more resources and fewer demands in the East the artillery force in the West MIGHT have been a lot more standardized with their German 105 and 150 mm guns, infantry divisions would look more like the ones in the summer of 1941 and 1942. Maybe experiments like the 18th Artillery division would be more common, as well as more and stronger GHQ artillery. The German inf units would have been more motorized in general.
Maybe. But the Third Reich did not always operate in a rational way. Maybe more respources would be committed to U boats, a surface fleet, an airborne army of paratroops, really huge tanks, jet fighters, releasing manpower for civilian work or as settlers to realise the dream of the expansion in the east. Hitler, like Churchill was fascinated by new warlike toys and bored by logistics.

Pre WW2 Germany was more agrarian. It had far fewer motor vehicle per person than Britian or France let alone the USA.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Sheldrake » 30 Oct 2021 08:58

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
30 Oct 2021 05:15
Sheldrake wrote:Horse drawn transport was inadequate for ammunition resupply and tied to railheads.
Does anybody have insight into the actual logistical ton-km carried by ID's organic horse vs. truck supply columns? A first-wave ID had 1,189 horse teams, 516 trucks, and 237 light transports in 1941. Motorizing the AT (72 guns) and some of the engineering elements (45 squads) leaves "spare" trucks for organic logistical lift. We all agree that trucks carry more than horses... In Supplying War, van Creveld says that the ID's organic truck columns (Kleincolonnenraum) were underutilized, resulting in anecdotes such as one division sending trucks back to Germany to retrieve sausage-making equipment.

If ID's had insufficient organic transport for the artillery supply from railheads, we'd have seen shells piling up at German railheads. I have never seen evidence of this happening and I've read through much of Ostheer's supply reports in NARA.

This seems like one of those WW2 areas where "everyone knows" a particular fact but nobody can provide any direct answers.
Sheldrake wrote:However, success in Poland and France raised the idea that armour and aircraft would be the key to victory. If the Germans had more resources or fewer demands in the East they would probably have more panzer divisions.
Were that true, we'd expect the Germans to have spent similarly on armor and artillery. Germany spent >6x as much on ammunition as on armor until 1943, however, and ammo always dwarfed armor even late in the war.

Image

By contrast, the US spent only 56% more on artillery ammo than on tanks and SP guns in 1944:

Image
Cult Icon wrote:The weakness of German artillery is also why the German ground force was crippled in the West as they could not call on on their Luftflotte and Fliegerkorps to blast a path for their assault forces, leaving the combat burden to infantry and armor, broken up into small groups instead of concentrated.
Was it artillery weakness or the relative weakness of the German army in general? The one time they achieved something like numerical superiority at an operational level - beginning of the Bulge - they performed decently well without overwhelming air support/superiority.
Re ammunition. These statistics are for all natures, including AA. Ammunition expenditure by infantry weapons, tanks and anti tank guns is minimal. By weight, most ammunition is either for field artillery and anti aircraft guns. I suspect the proportion of AA ammuniton rose.

Re evidence for inadequacy of horse transport.

The intensity of artillery fire in the East was lower, for the most part than in the high internsity battles in the west. Much of the Ost front was static for long periods of the war, or in a state of movemement when ammunition usage was constrained.

Eberbach, GOC Panzer Group West and Fifth Panzer Army remarked that the horse drawn transport of the Seventh Army and its infantry divisions did not work effectively. The distance betwene the rail head and the Normandy battlefield was too great. His armoured formations had to lend motor transport to the infantry units.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by stg 44 » 30 Oct 2021 15:50

T. A. Gardner wrote:
29 Oct 2021 22:57
A good part of that has to do with the size of the German electronics industry. They simply didn't have the capacity to meet demand. Making things worse, the Luftwaffe got priority over the Wehrmacht for electronics. Same thing went with ammunition. Flak came first, the Heer's needs came second. Thus artillery was usually short of ammunition too.
You sure that shortage wasn't caused by the bombing of the electronics industry? The only references I have seen to that being an issue came after 1942 with the damage inflicted by RAF bombing and the expansion of the war with US entry as well as major losses of equipment in the East due to defeats. Shortages of artillery ammo again seem to be mostly a 1943 and beyond issue as the war expanded on the ground at the same time defeats with losses of stockpiles coupled with increased bombing really disrupted production. Plus FLAK needs really expanded in 1943 and beyond.
Sheldrake wrote:
29 Oct 2021 23:02
a. German re-armament skimped on artillery. They never invested the logistic vehicles that supported the British and American artillery arm or the level of C3. Most of their artillery arm was no more mobile than in 1918. Horse drawn transport was inadequate for ammunition resupply and tied to railheads. The attrition of artillery horses was horrendous and led to lots of abandoned guns in Soviet offensives. Arguably the Germans should have motorised their medium artillery rather than their anti-tank guns.
I've never actually seen that claim substantiated before. The Germans had a huge artillery park at the start of the war and increasingly expanded it as time went on until defeats and mass losses of equipment coupled with increased bombing that disrupted production and a greater focus on FLAK meant shortages appeared by 1942.

Germany didn't invest in motor vehicles??? They did, they just had limited production and fuel capacity. Still in 1941 during the invasion of the USSR they had the most motorized army in world history until the Americans deployed to North Africa. In the case of the US and UK armies they were only that motorized due to having a very small number of divisions, 90 for the US and IIRC about 50 at any one time for the British. Germany had nearly 200 in 1941 and they peaked at over 300 despite having had many destroyed in combat. Naturally with more divisions it is harder to fully motorize.

Given the situation in Russia I'd say motorizing the AT guns was the better use. Having to deal with 20,000 AFVs in 1941 alone necessitated it.

Multi purpose pieces like the 88mm FLAK and 105mm SK18 were motorized and used as both AT and artillery.
Sheldrake wrote:
29 Oct 2021 23:02
b. The Germans made extensive use of captured artillery, which looked good on paper, but further complicated logistics. The German Seventh Army had a ludicrous variety of artillery pieces. It was a choice to have the most for show rather than the ability to generate sustained firepower - but I guess the self delusion of the Atlantic Wall was that it might deter the allies from invasion.
They did it out of necessity given the rapid expansion of divisions and limited production capacity. Sure it complicates logistics, but you use what you have. I'm not sure why you think it was for show rather than simply an expedient forced by the situation; having less sustained firepower is better than having zero firepower due to the lack of any guns.
Sheldrake wrote:
29 Oct 2021 23:02
c. The German success in tactical manoeuvre and the contact battle led them to favour decentralisation. Hence e.g. 240 STuG parceled out to the infantry in penny packets rather than large numbers of field artillery tubes that could be massed as 240 gun batteries against any point on the Army front. One often overlooked aspect is that the debate about German reserves prior to D Day almost totally ignored artillery. Because there was no agreement on how the panzer divisions were to be used, few if any provision has been made for artillery contingencies. So when 1st SS Panzer Corps deployed to Normandy after D Day there had been no prior survey of gun positions or even 1:25,000 maps, even though Normandy was always one of the possible battlefields.
StuGs battalions/brigades has little to nothing to do with towed or even SP artillery. You're demonstrating a major lack of objective and serious analysis. Honestly in most situations the massing of 240 guns is pointless overkill and a waste of ammo and tubes, so having sufficient infantry support distributed is a more effective use of resources.

Artillery is besides the point in Normandy given the massive shortages of everything, since the Spring collapse in Ukraine had forced the shipping of all available everything to that sector.

The situation with Normandy for the 1st SS PC was more about the misconception that Calais would be the focus of the invasion, not Normandy, so they didn't print enough I guess or just weren't able to distribute what they had due to all the bombing.
Sheldrake wrote:
29 Oct 2021 23:02
3. Demands of the East? Yup the Germans did invest in artillery in the run up to the Second World War. However, success in Poland and France raised the idea that armour and aircraft would be the key to victory. If the Germans had more resources or fewer demands in the East they would probably have more panzer divisions.
Well that contradicts your statement in the first point.
Sheldrake wrote:
29 Oct 2021 23:02
4. Allied action? The German lack of motor transport and their reliance on railways was a weakness in Normandy exploited to the full by the allied air forces. Op Strangle in Italy was less successful, probably because prior to Op Diadem the allies were not forcing the Germans to expend ammunition daily and they could build up ammunition stocks.
Why are you only considering Normandy? I get that is your focus, but there was a LOT more to the war than the sideshow in Normandy.
So you're admitting that Allied bombing was the bigger factor, not the lack of fixation on artillery.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Richard Anderson » 30 Oct 2021 15:53

Cult Icon wrote:
30 Oct 2021 00:51
To add, the German forces use Arko to coordinate mass fires, linking various units together.
No, they could not. The ARKO was solely a staff entity, consisting of 5 officers and (in 1941) 17 NCO and EM. Its function was command and coordination, but it had no communications, computational, survey, or meteorological capability, which is why it was always attached to supplement a division artillery staff (ArFü) or to a corps artillery staff, usually with an attached Artillerie-Regiments-Stab. See also https://www.lonesentry.com/articles/ttt ... mmand.html
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by stg 44 » 30 Oct 2021 16:23

Richard Anderson wrote:
30 Oct 2021 15:53
Cult Icon wrote:
30 Oct 2021 00:51
To add, the German forces use Arko to coordinate mass fires, linking various units together.
No, they could not. The ARKO was solely a staff entity, consisting of 5 officers and (in 1941) 17 NCO and EM. Its function was command and coordination, but it had no communications, computational, survey, or meteorological capability, which is why it was always attached to supplement a division artillery staff (ArFü) or to a corps artillery staff, usually with an attached Artillerie-Regiments-Stab. See also https://www.lonesentry.com/articles/ttt ... mmand.html
Did you read what Cult Icon actually wrote?
All he said was the Arko coordinated mass fires, that that it did all the computational work itself. As you yourself said it was for command and control, exactly what coordinating mass fires would fall under.
Per your own link about what their duties were:
As commander of corps artillery, or artillery group, he commands all artillery placed under command of the corps in accordance with the corps commander's orders. His duties include:

(1) Preparation for the employment of support artillery;

(2) Organization and use of support artillery;

(3) Fire-control of individual artillery groups;

(4) Cooperation of corps artillery with ground and air reconnaissance;

(5) Formation of an artillery signal net;

(6) Ammunition supplies.

In the corps area he is responsible for giving advice on all artillery matters, and for supervising artillery methods and training in the corps area. His duties include suggestions as to:

(1) Distribution of support artillery to divisions;

(2) Battle orders outside the division battle sectors;

(3) Tasks of artillery immediately under command of corps;

(4) Limits for counterbattery and harassing fire;

(5) Division artillery reconnaissance tasks outside the battle sectors;

(6) Regulation of artillery air services and reconnaissance;

(7) Regulation of artillery signal communications with the divisions;

(8) Provision of uniform plotting boards and range tables;

(9) Use of AA for protection of artillery;

(10) Ammunition supply.
Looks like the massing of fires would fall under that. They just didn't organize the way the US did to achieve that.

Ron Klages also posted something similar:
https://www.feldgrau.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13668
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The responsibilities of these units were:
1. Reorganizing and planning the main points of effort in conjunction with the higher headquarters to which it was attached.
2. Coordinting the fire of all artillery elements in the command
3. Determining the artillery observation missions.
4. Setting diwn the framework for the communications network of all the artillery under it's supervision.
Sounds like massing fires was part of their mission.

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Oct 2021 19:10

T. A. Gardner wrote:
30 Oct 2021 06:45
5th Pz Army to their south did better against a single US infantry division facing them, but even then, the poor quality of their engineering components slowed the advance sufficiently to create a stalemate rather than a breakthrough.
Bizarre statement, where is Richard C. Anderson to "correct" you?

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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Richard Anderson » 30 Oct 2021 19:43

Cult Icon wrote:
30 Oct 2021 19:10
T. A. Gardner wrote:
30 Oct 2021 06:45
5th Pz Army to their south did better against a single US infantry division facing them, but even then, the poor quality of their engineering components slowed the advance sufficiently to create a stalemate rather than a breakthrough.
Bizarre statement, where is Richard C. Anderson to "correct" you?
Why should I correct something that is fundamentally correct?
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Re: Alternative Artillery of the 20th Century

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Oct 2021 19:58

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
30 Oct 2021 06:31
I don't doubt either that the German army needed numerical advantage in offensives against the West, nor do I think the supposedly elite SS units in the Bulge were very good.
The Autumn Mist operational plan was pretty interesting overall, if a higher quality army with more specialists (supported by two Luftflotte and a fliegerkorps for the 7th Army) of the same size was fitted to the plan they would have easily reached the Meuse at least,had a much larger bulge, inflicted a lot more losses, and destroyed a lot more American units.

I think the terrain however, determined a lot about what happened, creating traffic jams that narrowly funneled combat power. This shows that the importance of massed ground-attack aircraft, as they escape a lot of these problems. If the Germans used high quality FLAK Korps and created Artillery divisions for the plan it comes across as logistical nightmare.

The German volksgrenadier infantry in the Ardennes were well-equipped with STG-44/G43 type weapons. So what they did was to basically hit defending US units with wave after wave of infantry attacks, supported by mortars/artillery until the US units were defeated. In the first days they frequently did not have any or sufficient armor support because their armor was stalled in the rear in traffic jams or delays while engineers were building bridges capable of transporting heavy equipment.

The 116.Pz, 2nd Pz, and Pz Lehr were able to deploy more properly and use combined arms attacks (Recon probes, Pz artillery, tanks and infantry & troops wearing captured American garb, driving American tanks and vehicles).

Basically the attacker needs numerical superiority, it's 1943/1944..

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