Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 30 Nov 2021 17:15

Cult Icon wrote:
30 Nov 2021 14:21
While 9th Army was bloodied, 2nd Panzer Army did not take part in Citadel, it was waiting in prepared defenses until the Orel Operation was executed :
Where it inflicted heavy losses on its attackers. But being a defensive army rather than one of the attacking ones during Citadel, what was the state of the units under its command? Seemingly everything capable of attacking was committed to Kursk.
Cult Icon wrote:
30 Nov 2021 14:21
2nd Panzer Army

XXXV Armeekorps (General der Infanterie Lothar Rendulic)
34.Infanterie-Division
56.Infanterie-Division
262.Infanterie-Division
299.Infanterie-Division
36.Infanterie-Division (mot.)

LIII Armeekorps (General der Infanterie Friedrich Gollwitzer)
25.Panzergrenadier-Division
208.Infanterie-Division
211.Infanterie-Division
293.Infanterie-Division
211.Sicherungs-Division (less elements)

LV Armeekorps (General der Infanterie Erich Jaschke)
110.Infanterie-Division
134.Infanterie-Division
296.Infanterie-Division
339.Infanterie-Division
5.Panzer-Division

Army Reserve
112.Infanterie-Division
707.Infanterie-Division

12 July
8.Panzer-Division from Vitebsk (3.Panzerarmee)
18–20 July
Panzergrenadier-Division Großdeutschland from Heeresgruppe Süd
26.Infanterie-Division from AOK 2
253.Infanterie-Division from AOK 4

Reinforcements (2nd Panzer Army and 9th Army):

12 July
8.Panzer-Division from Vitebsk (3.Panzerarmee)

18–20 July
Panzergrenadier-Division Großdeutschland from Heeresgruppe Süd
26.Infanterie-Division from AOK 2
253.Infanterie-Division from AOK 4
What were the state of these divisions?

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Nov 2021 17:16

It is interesting that Vatutin was censured by Stalin during the Belgorod-Kharkov offensive after the German massed german tank/aerial counterstrike at Akhtyrka against the flank of the Soviet 27th Army. This warning was to not repeat the mistakes of Kharkov in Feb 1943 of overextension and too weak flanks.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Nov 2021 17:43

stg 44 wrote:
30 Nov 2021 17:15

Where it inflicted heavy losses on its attackers. But being a defensive army rather than one of the attacking ones during Citadel, what was the state of the units under its command? Seemingly everything capable of attacking was committed to Kursk.

What were the state of these divisions?
The state of the 2nd Panzer Army was probably pretty decent (given that the Ostheer peaked in June 30th), and the high losses taken by this Army in the Orel Operation. It should be added that the German air force was highly active in the Orel and Belgorod-Kharkov operations. Not as active as in Operation Citadel but with many over 1,000 sortie days in each one. So it was a strong defense, with strong air support.

2nd Panzer Army losses:

1-10 July : 1059

11-20 July: 10120

21-31 July: 34749

1-10 August: 9162

11-20 August: 7399

9th Army losses:

1-10 July: 20189

11-20 July: 8198

21-31 July: 8908

1-10 August: 4336

11-20 August: 6756

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Nov 2021 18:25

(North) Defense of Orel (Luftflotte VI) 12 July - 18th August 1943: 42,235 sorties

(South) Defense of Belgorod-Kharkov (Fliegerkorps VIII), 3-20 August 1943: 12,385 sorties

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by History Learner » 01 Dec 2021 01:09

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
30 Nov 2021 06:42
Don't attack just from the bulge. Attack from the north of the Orel salient, from the bulge in only direction (on the south side towards Kharkov/Belgorod), from the Lisischansk salient, and on the Mius/Donets. The latter Soviet offensive was only stopped by shuffling forces from Zitadelle.
I don't think the logistics are there for any sort of thrust from the Bulge itself; they tried and it floundered badly in February/March, April is the muddy season and then in May the forces are still too disparate. Attacking Orel and along the Mius seems like it leads to what you mentioned earlier, with the Germans forming firebrigades with AGC focusing on Orel and AGS focusing on the Mius. Do the Soviets have the accumulated reserves to maintain anything in AGS sector too, for that matter? The Germans could shut down the Mius attack as per IOTL and then pivot to defending Kharkov/Belgorod.
RKKA has thousands more AFV's than OTL's post-Kursk offensives, Ostheer only a few hundred more. Ostheer has ~54k more men than OTL, RKKA has ~178k more. As KDF rightly reminds us, battlefield attrition basically always disfavored the RKKA, whose operational prospects were always best at the beginning of a period of fighting.
At Orel, the Germans achieved a 7:1 AFV loss rate in their favor; at Kursk it was roughly 5:1. No Citadel means the Germans have roughly ~320 more tanks and the Soviets ~1,700 more, not counting further production. Depending on how big German and Soviet production is, I see this as a wash.
If we shift the Soviet casualties exchanged for ~54k Germans at Kursk, from 3.31:1 (OTL Kursk defensive) to 5.65:1 (OTL post-Kursk offensives against AGS) that's ~125k additional Soviet bloody losses. Manageable for sufficient strategic gain.

But ~125k is certainly an overestimate because armor mix changes the casualty ratio (see from page 80 of that report). That report is just one of several documenting the effect, which accords with common sense. An RKKA attacking with a much better armor mix sees lower losses.

If, in exchange for probably a <100k casualty delta, RKKA can reach the Dniepr and clear Donbas a few months earlier then enormous strategic benefits accrue: Germany loses more investment in the Donbas/Dnipro areas (Iwan program), RKKA gets booty soldiers earlier, Donbas/Dnipro come back online earlier, Soviet logistics for the trans-Dniepr push build up earlier (i.e. railroad repair), and RKKA has many more tanks for that later push. If Ostheer loses supply depots early then the casualty cost of this preemption (relative to OTL) is even lower - perhaps approaching zero.
I promise I'm not trying to be obtuse here, and I welcome being educated on the matter, but what I am supposed to see here with the link? I agree with the statement, if I am understanding it correctly, that being the attacker yields more captures and that having an armor heavy or supported thrust does likewise in benefitting the aforementioned gains. This is very sound theory, and I think anyone would be hard pressed to disagree with it. My issue is does this offset the advantage of the Germans being in well prepared defenses, with accumulated artillery and air munition stockpiles? Soviet doctrinal theory, IIRC, held the need for overwhelming superiority in men and machines in order to overcome well prepared defenses; even then, things could go awry as Operation Mars, Third Kharkov and Smolensk showed.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 01 Dec 2021 03:54

History Learner wrote:
01 Dec 2021 01:09
I don't think the logistics are there for any sort of thrust from the Bulge itself; they tried and it floundered badly in February/March, April is the muddy season and then in May the forces are still too disparate. Attacking Orel and along the Mius seems like it leads to what you mentioned earlier, with the Germans forming firebrigades with AGC focusing on Orel and AGS focusing on the Mius. Do the Soviets have the accumulated reserves to maintain anything in AGS sector too, for that matter? The Germans could shut down the Mius attack as per IOTL and then pivot to defending Kharkov/Belgorod.
It would be tough to transition to the offensive, but as a distraction they could make things difficult in Orel even if they get slaughtered in an offensive; I highly doubt Stalin would wait around for them to properly prepare the offensive if by July it is clear that no German offensive is coming, but given the training and preparations being purely defensive getting ready for an offensive quickly is going to be quite difficult and result in heavy losses. So Orel is then not nearly as threatened in this scenario as the entire intact 9th army is now in their own prepared defenses and can properly support 2nd panzer army while Central Front is going to stumble quite heavily given the likely quite limited time for preparations. If they stagger their offensive to jump in after Bryansk Front has attacked to give themselves more time to prepare (which won't be that much more) that just means Bryansk Front can be fought by the reserves of two armies instead of one for a time and then resources can be shifted back to deal with Central Front. That said I agree that the situation was simply stacked against AG-Center too much to maintain the Orel position, but it is going to be a blood bath for the Soviets to push them out.

Agreed about your assessment of the Mius-Belgorod/Kharkov shifts, though with the Mius, Voronezh, and Steppe Fronts all available and attacking AG-South that could cause some issues. Plus then there is still Operation Huskey, which will likely happen before or at the same time as the Soviet offensives here. Does the II SS Panzer Corps still get broken up or not? And if not does that actually mean anything for the situation in Italy? Though LSAAH didn't fight in Italy its presence was supposed to make a political statement...though how much of that actually mattered is not clear.
History Learner wrote:
01 Dec 2021 01:09
RKKA has thousands more AFV's than OTL's post-Kursk offensives, Ostheer only a few hundred more. Ostheer has ~54k more men than OTL, RKKA has ~178k more. As KDF rightly reminds us, battlefield attrition basically always disfavored the RKKA, whose operational prospects were always best at the beginning of a period of fighting.
At Orel, the Germans achieved a 7:1 AFV loss rate in their favor; at Kursk it was roughly 5:1. No Citadel means the Germans have roughly ~320 more tanks and the Soviets ~1,700 more, not counting further production. Depending on how big German and Soviet production is, I see this as a wash.
At Orel ITTL it could very well end up being an even better ratio of losses given that there would be a lot of tanks in reserve and not awaiting repairs as a result of Kursk; though write offs were only ~320 AFVs many more were out of commission for longer term repairs.
Dupuy Institute has this to say about the matter:
http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/blog/2018 ... -at-kursk/
Subsequently, the pendulum swung back, as research in German archives showed that no more than 278 German tanks were lost during the battle at Kursk 5-23 July.
....
The exchange ratios for armor are discussed in my book on pages 640-641, 744-745, 809-811, 1021-1022, and 1209-1211. The figures of 2,471 Soviet tanks destroyed, damaged or broken down and 1,536 German tanks destroyed, damaged and broken down comes from page 1210, among other places (pages 1338, 1339, 1340, 1367 and 1368). This is a 1.61 armor exchange, although the majority of tanks were probably not taken out in combat between tanks.
So while the Germans were able to repair a lot of them quickly, some large number of AFVs were longer term repairs and not available to deal with the Soviet counter-offensives.

It is rather amazing that Model was able to get the casualty ratios he did with the bulk of his combat power being unavailable for a lot of the initial parts of the offensive and then only showing up worn out after the fact.
History Learner wrote:
01 Dec 2021 01:09
If we shift the Soviet casualties exchanged for ~54k Germans at Kursk, from 3.31:1 (OTL Kursk defensive) to 5.65:1 (OTL post-Kursk offensives against AGS) that's ~125k additional Soviet bloody losses. Manageable for sufficient strategic gain.

But ~125k is certainly an overestimate because armor mix changes the casualty ratio (see from page 80 of that report). That report is just one of several documenting the effect, which accords with common sense. An RKKA attacking with a much better armor mix sees lower losses.

If, in exchange for probably a <100k casualty delta, RKKA can reach the Dniepr and clear Donbas a few months earlier then enormous strategic benefits accrue: Germany loses more investment in the Donbas/Dnipro areas (Iwan program), RKKA gets booty soldiers earlier, Donbas/Dnipro come back online earlier, Soviet logistics for the trans-Dniepr push build up earlier (i.e. railroad repair), and RKKA has many more tanks for that later push. If Ostheer loses supply depots early then the casualty cost of this preemption (relative to OTL) is even lower - perhaps approaching zero.
I promise I'm not trying to be obtuse here, and I welcome being educated on the matter, but what I am supposed to see here with the link? I agree with the statement, if I am understanding it correctly, that being the attacker yields more captures and that having an armor heavy or supported thrust does likewise in benefitting the aforementioned gains. This is very sound theory, and I think anyone would be hard pressed to disagree with it. My issue is does this offset the advantage of the Germans being in well prepared defenses, with accumulated artillery and air munition stockpiles? Soviet doctrinal theory, IIRC, held the need for overwhelming superiority in men and machines in order to overcome well prepared defenses; even then, things could go awry as Operation Mars, Third Kharkov and Smolensk showed.
Smolensk is a decent model for what an ATL defense would look like, but remember even then the defense was compromised by AG-Center pushing the majority of its most effective divisions into 9th army for the Citadel offensive and then had them further ground up in Orel so that they weren't available for the Smolensk fighting starting at the end stages of Orel. Probably one of the more important elements here is after the Orel bulge is squeezed out are the Germans so worn down that the subsequent Bryansk operation still works or is that stymied? If so the Hagen Line might hold for a long time.

As to losses we should also allow for 'creative record keeping' that the Soviets did not just at Kursk but much of the entire war to hide losses and avoid consequences from Stalin.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Dec 2021 14:39

In looking at this again I am not sure what exactly constitutes the 2nd Panzer Army/9th Army losses reports. The 2nd Panzer Army received many reinforcements from 9th Army and Army Group South and may have reported the losses of these units as their own.

Kluge had transferred command of 9th Army to Model. So he controlled both 9th and 2nd Panzer Armies.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Dec 2021 15:13

Cult Icon wrote:
30 Nov 2021 18:25
(North) Defense of Orel (Luftflotte VI) 12 July - 18th August 1943: 42,235 sorties

(South) Defense of Belgorod-Kharkov (Fliegerkorps VIII), 3-20 August 1943: 12,385 sorties
Defense of Orel: Averages 1,141 sorties a day/37 days historically.

If I cut the timeframe off by 2 days: 12 July- August 18 1943, the average between the two operations combined is 1,426 sorties a day/37 days.

The maximum combined air support of 1st Flieger-division and Fliegerkorps VIII (July 5th 1943) was in the region of 4,450 sorties/day.

With the addition of 28,000 Citadel sorties the total between the two operations is 82,620 sorties.

If the Citadel sorties are conserved, and then expended against an alternate Orel Operation the air support would hover at elevated levels for up to 2 additional weeks instead of dropping off as it did.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Dec 2021 15:43

Losses 4th Panzer Army:

1-10 July: 9977

11-20 July: 5725

21-31 July: 7449

1-10 August: 1202

11-20 August: 10154

21-31 August: 14545

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Dec 2021 15:47

Losses A.A. Kempf/8th Army

1-10 July: 9628

11-20 July: 8141

21-31 July: 5270

1-10 August: 2343

11-20 August: 11359

21-31 August: 12111

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Westphalia1812 » 01 Dec 2021 15:56

Cult Icon wrote:
01 Dec 2021 15:43
Losses 4th Panzer Army:

1-10 July: 9977

11-20 July: 5725

21-31 July: 7449

1-10 August: 1202

11-20 August: 10154

21-31 August: 14545
Do you know what happened between 21.07-31.07? I thought that no heavy fighting took place after 16.07...

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Dec 2021 16:05

Pascal. Kullmann. wrote:
01 Dec 2021 15:56
Do you know what happened between 21.07-31.07? I thought that no heavy fighting took place after 16.07...
There is sometimes a "lag" behind the reporting periods, so often the losses of the previous period appear in the next one. The next period's figure is worth looking at if it looks abnormally large.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 01 Dec 2021 16:07

History Learner wrote:what I am supposed to see here with the link?
Oh I'm just providing some empirical grounding for the common sense notion that tanks improve the casualty ratio; therefore that an RKKA that hasn't lost lost so many tanks on the defensive sees an casualty advantage over the OTL post-Kursk offensives.

------------------------

As I've said upthread, Kursk and thereafter isn't my primary interest and the preemption idea is a "lean" position.

One big picture aspect seems clear to me though; I can't see my way around it: RKKA was, relative to Ostheer, weaker after Kursk than before it - this was true of all periods of intensive combat on the Eastern Front until the final days. The >3 personnel and >5 AFV attrition ratios improved German force ratio prospects - RKKA had only ~2.2 theater-wide superiority in personnel and certainly <5 in AFV's in July 1943.

A relatively stronger OTL post-Kursk Ostheer couldn't stop the broad Soviet summer offensive so I don't see how a relatively weaker pre-Kursk ATL Ostheer could have stopped an earlier summer offensive. So then it's a question of the attrition picture - would the extra casualty cost of preempting Kursk outweigh the benefits of (1) taking Donbas and reaching the Dniepr earlier, and (2) imposing greater material losses on a retreating Ostheer? I lean towards "yes," ~100k extra casualties would have been worth it (though feasibly the casualty delta would have been lower).

As I say, this is only a position towards which I lean, I haven't done a full accounting.
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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Dec 2021 18:07

stg 44 wrote:
01 Dec 2021 03:54
It is rather amazing that Model was able to get the casualty ratios he did with the bulk of his combat power being unavailable for a lot of the initial parts of the offensive and then only showing up worn out after the fact.
To me it makes sense, whether the ratio is 1 German to 1.5 Soviet or 1 German to 3-4 Soviets. Model had superiority of firepower (artillery and air support) and the Soviets were making frenetic counterattacks with their own institutional habit of ignoring losses to retake & hold ground. Besides the artillery, the VVS was only dropping a fraction of the bombs compared to what the Germans were. The German combat troops were very well supported by good equipment of various types. In a way, this material-rich attack looks like a gamble to use technology to shoot the infantry forward, hoping for low infantry losses (which didn't happen).

The German armor write-offs (9th Army, Citadel) were low, only 71. The Orel Operation cost the two armies 229 written off with hundreds of damaged.

I suspect that the weakness of the 9th Army's infantry battalions has also do to with the competing goal of using 2nd Panzer Army to hold the salient. Only infantry can hold ground. So Kluge didn't drain 2nd Panzer Army of more replacements and infantry units to feed the 9th Army.

Also, Soviet artillery/mortar fire was critical in the operation, somehow the Germans were unable to silence enough of them with counter-battery fire and air attack. My theory is that the proclivity of the Reds to have an excessive number of guns and mortars (and without the ammunition to justify it) paid off here, as losses in the rear didn't effect their ability to mass defensive fires.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 01 Dec 2021 18:39

Cult Icon wrote:
01 Dec 2021 18:07
stg 44 wrote:
01 Dec 2021 03:54
It is rather amazing that Model was able to get the casualty ratios he did with the bulk of his combat power being unavailable for a lot of the initial parts of the offensive and then only showing up worn out after the fact.
To me it makes sense, whether the ratio is 1 German to 1.5 Soviet or 1 German to 3-4 Soviets. Model had superiority of firepower (artillery and air support) and the Soviets were making frenetic counterattacks with their own institutional habit of ignoring losses to retake & hold ground.
Besides the artillery, the VVS was only dropping a fraction of the bombs compared to what the Germans were. The German combat troops were very well supported by good equipment of various types. In a way, this material-rich attack looks like a gamble to use technology to shoot the infantry forward, hoping for low infantry losses (which didn't happen).
In that quote I was talking about the Soviet offensive against Orel, not Citadel.

Cult Icon wrote:
01 Dec 2021 18:07
The German armor write-offs (9th Army, Citadel) were low, only 71.
How many damaged though. Write offs could have been low, but long term repairs quite high. Lawerence's numbers indicate 10 damaged per 1 written off for Citadel; maybe in his data book on the offensive is the breakdown, but it wasn't in the blog I quoted from.
Cult Icon wrote:
01 Dec 2021 18:07
The Orel Operation cost the two armies 229 written off with hundreds of damaged.
How many of those write offs from Orel were damaged tanks from Citadel which weren't written off until later and got folded into Orel numbers as a correction and/or were left behind/blown up when the Citadel damaged AFVs in repair shops that couldn't be evacuated ahead of the Soviet offensive? The raw numbers really don't give us a good picture of what happened.
Cult Icon wrote:
01 Dec 2021 18:07
I suspect that the weakness of the 9th Army's infantry battalions has also do to with the competing goal of using 2nd Panzer Army to hold the salient.
Only infantry can hold ground. So Kluge didn't drain 2nd Panzer Army of more replacements and infantry units to feed the 9th Army.
I'd question that given the offensive needed more infantry and was delayed waiting for replacements. Especially given the insistence of the commander to hold back the panzers to let the infantry-engineer-artillery-airpower teams breach the main defensive belts.

That said apparently 2nd Panzer had no armor support beyond 5th panzer division and had to import the 8th panzer division from Vitebsk on the 1st day of the Soviet offensive as well as draw in air units from AG-North to make up for losses during Citadel. 9th army dispatched 3 panzer divisions to help 2nd Panzer army by the end of the 2nd day of Kutuzov.
Cult Icon wrote:
01 Dec 2021 18:07
Also, Soviet artillery/mortar fire was critical in the operation, somehow the Germans were unable to silence enough of them with counter-battery fire and air attack. My theory is that the proclivity of the Reds to have an excessive number of guns and mortars (and without the ammunition to justify it) paid off here, as losses in the rear didn't effect their ability to mass defensive fires.
Agreed, though a prepared series of defensive lines would allow the defender a pretty serious advantage to prepare for counter battery fire by digging in, while they can also operate via interior lines to redeploy as needed. Units not engaged could spare their artillery to support defending units.

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