Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

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Michael Kenny
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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Michael Kenny » 22 Dec 2021 22:54

stg 44 wrote:
22 Dec 2021 22:13
[

Incidentally it is pretty funny you quoted the section that disproves your claim that they recovered burned out chassis and kept them on the books.
Its also extremely funny to watch as you yet again make things up

You take the original wording --'completely burnt out'-- and transform it into 'burned out'. If you had read more you would know that (for example) burnt-out Shermans were recovered and were put back into service. It is the extent of the fire that decides the fate of a hulk. They added the word 'completely' at the front for a reason. a catastrophic fire will not leave any usable parts.



My last reply on this subject.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 22 Dec 2021 23:16

Michael Kenny wrote:
22 Dec 2021 22:54
Its also extremely funny to watch as you yet again make things up

You take the original wording --'completely burnt out'-- and transform it into 'burned out'. If you had read more you would know that (for example) burnt-out Shermans were recovered and were put back into service. It is the extent of the fire that decides the fate of a hulk. They added the word 'completely' at the front for a reason. a catastrophic fire will not leave any usable parts.
Ok, so burned out then just means fire damage, but repairable if it isn't 'completely burned out'.
That means the Tigers in question were repairable, but were either too damaged to move during a retreat or there weren't enough vehicles to move them. So they'd be counted as write offs in the combat action that forced them to be abandoned. Still counted as a combat loss just for the actual operation that caused their write off not the damage that sent it to the workshop. Again, that doesn't prove your claim that write offs were recovered and kept specifically for parts, but not written off for whatever reason you want to imagine.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 23 Dec 2021 05:39

Pascal. Kullmann. wrote:
22 Dec 2021 16:30

Probably only in the III.PzK sector but even then not entirely. In the Prokhorovka sector the arrival of 5GTA was the most severe hinderence for the Germans. I guess they could have chewed through them but that would lead to a lot of casualties and a long grind. Maybe 'restricted' is a better word to describe the German operations between 11.07-15.07.
Yeah agreed on III.PzK being hit harder, albeit the units had a lot of capability left combined with a very high level of air support. Historians are too infatuated with the operational tank numbers of OP Citadel to me. The artillery and air support was shooting the infantry forward with the armor in the lead.

I don't recall many instances of say a German armored unit getting nearly wiped out and the accompanying infantry had to retreat.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Michael Kenny » 23 Dec 2021 07:23

stg 44 wrote:
22 Dec 2021 23:16
, that doesn't prove your claim that write offs were recovered and kept specifically for parts, but not written off for whatever reason you want to imagine.
Do you even read your own sources?
This from your posted link:
German Tank Maintenance WW2 pg 19 .jpg
Confirmation can be seen here:
Repairing The Panzers Vol. 2 pg. 235.jpg
Clinging on to the wrecks was recognised as a serious problem by October 1943 (above) but as noted below the Units kept on doing it.
Repairing The Panzers Vol 2 (pg 237.jpg
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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Westphalia1812 » 23 Dec 2021 08:00

Cult Icon wrote:
23 Dec 2021 05:39
Pascal. Kullmann. wrote:
22 Dec 2021 16:30

Probably only in the III.PzK sector but even then not entirely. In the Prokhorovka sector the arrival of 5GTA was the most severe hinderence for the Germans. I guess they could have chewed through them but that would lead to a lot of casualties and a long grind. Maybe 'restricted' is a better word to describe the German operations between 11.07-15.07.
Yeah agreed on III.PzK being hit harder, albeit the units had a lot of capability left combined with a very high level of air support.
Thats true, however I recall that III.PzK had suffered from a lack of CAS in the first two days. That could explain their slower progress. Out of all the corps that took part in Citadel, III.PzK had the worst assignment (maybe XXXXI.PzK at Ponyri?). They should have got more artillery and mine removal assets for their river crossing. A dozens Tigers of the 503 were immobilized by mines. Some even ran into German minefields that weren't marked on the map.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Westphalia1812 » 23 Dec 2021 08:09

Cult Icon wrote:
23 Dec 2021 05:39
Pascal. Kullmann. wrote:
22 Dec 2021 16:30

Probably only in the III.PzK sector but even then not entirely. In the Prokhorovka sector the arrival of 5GTA was the most severe hinderence for the Germans. I guess they could have chewed through them but that would lead to a lot of casualties and a long grind. Maybe 'restricted' is a better word to describe the German operations between 11.07-15.07.


I don't recall many instances of say a German armored unit getting nearly wiped out and the accompanying infantry had to retreat.
Me neither, but some divisions with a lower tank strength (from the start on) had quite some problems, even with arty and CAS, e.g. 3.PzDiv during the Pena crossing. But they were never wiped out or were forced to completely stop all operations.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 23 Dec 2021 12:58

stg 44 wrote:
22 Dec 2021 21:51
I don't have original German repair procedure manuals, but I do have US historical study about it:
https://history.army.mil/html/books/104 ... _104-7.pdf

The worst damaged chassis might have been cannibalized for parts if there were shortages of parts; by effectively stripping the tank and rendering it a loss they could return several others to working order, but that isn't a combat loss as Michael was claiming, but rather an administrative loss due to supply issues. This was a rare procedure based on desperation that would have been more common in specific situations where supply was bad or late in the war when supply was breaking down due to the bombing.
Thanks for supplying that link, interesting reading. It confirms Michael's point that the divisions did seem to lug around tank casualties that would have been dumped by the armoured units of other nations but doesn't really give too much of a clue as to why that was so. I was also struck by the lack of the kind of Tank Delivery Squadrons that the British and Commonwealth forces had at different levels (army, corps and division). Many UK armoured war diaries contain strength returns which note the personnel of the unit who were temporarily at the Tank Delivery Squadron waiting for replacement tanks whereas that seems to have been a much more ad hoc process according to that US Army historical study.

It's also interesting, well to me at least, that the British army in the early years in North Africa regarding German tank recovery and repair as a paragon of virtue to be emulated whereas the truth appears to show the German system was much more limited. Perhaps what that really reveals, rather than German excellence, was just how poor British practice was in the first few years of the war.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 23 Dec 2021 14:42

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Dec 2021 12:58
Thanks for supplying that link, interesting reading. It confirms Michael's point that the divisions did seem to lug around tank casualties that would have been dumped by the armoured units of other nations but doesn't really give too much of a clue as to why that was so.
Higher tank production in the US and USSR, so they had more disposable tanks, which were also more likely to suffer serious damage if penetrated given the heavier calibers that were more common with German tanks and in the case of the Soviets more cramped interiors.
The Germans had to repair what they had since getting replacements was more difficult.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Dec 2021 12:58
I was also struck by the lack of the kind of Tank Delivery Squadrons that the British and Commonwealth forces had at different levels (army, corps and division). Many UK armoured war diaries contain strength returns which note the personnel of the unit who were temporarily at the Tank Delivery Squadron waiting for replacement tanks whereas that seems to have been a much more ad hoc process according to that US Army historical study.
Differing philosophies of how replacement in tank units should work I guess.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Dec 2021 12:58
It's also interesting, well to me at least, that the British army in the early years in North Africa regarding German tank recovery and repair as a paragon of virtue to be emulated whereas the truth appears to show the German system was much more limited. Perhaps what that really reveals, rather than German excellence, was just how poor British practice was in the first few years of the war.
German orgs were more lean that the British ones. Given the performance differences in the early years that makes a lot of sense. Part of the issue though is British tanks in the desert generally had more mechanical issues from poor design, so it probably made it appear that the German system worked better when it might have simply just looked better due to more reliable designs. My hunch is your last line is probably true. The British had an abysmal system early in the war and got better year by year as they digested experience. Likely it had to do with the British army being the junior service, all the cuts and stagnation in the interwar period specifically in the 1930s, and the upper leadership not really being the cream of military manpower, as the more innovative thinkers ended up in the RAF or RN especially after the Depression cuts of the 1930s.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 23 Dec 2021 14:59

Michael Kenny wrote:
23 Dec 2021 07:23
Do you even read your own sources?
This from your posted link:

German Tank Maintenance WW2 pg 19 .jpg
Did you not read the original post where I shared this PDF? I mentioned this. Just because a tank was cannabalized doesn't mean it wasn't repairable eventually, just that other considerations (general lack of spare parts) caused them to strip it and write it off since it would return more tanks to service than waiting until the damaged unit could get repaired or the missing part it needed. Otherwise there would be no point in lugging around an unrepairable wreck when they could have just stripped it at the time and and moved on.
Michael Kenny wrote:
23 Dec 2021 07:23
Confirmation can be seen here:

Repairing The Panzers Vol. 2 pg. 235.jpg
Right, so exactly as I said. They lugged around damaged units with the expectation that they'd repair them eventually, which your quote says they did, or they had to strip them for parts because spare parts were in short supply and they needed to get as many tanks operational as quickly as possible. Nowhere does it say they lugged around unrepairable AFVs.
Michael Kenny wrote:
23 Dec 2021 07:23
Clinging on to the wrecks was recognised as a serious problem by October 1943 (above) but as noted below the Units kept on doing it.
Your quote doesn't say 'serious problem', it says the system wasn't functioning as intended by the authorities, so they removed the policy that kept field repair units from sending long term repairs to factories.
Michael Kenny wrote:
23 Dec 2021 07:23
Repairing The Panzers Vol 2 (pg 237.jpg
Looks like the field troops didn't trust the authorities to keep their word to return evacuated long term repair units to the division. Still doesn't support your contention that field repair units were lugging around unrepairable units just because. Unrepairable units were stripped ASAP. The units being discussed here were more damaged tanks that required longer term work or required parts that were not available, but could be repaired as needed.
Though this last quote does seem to indicate that they weren't necessarily losing these long term repairs during retreats, but were losing models at the frontlines during disengagements, as recovery assets were evacuating the safer to move units already in their work depots.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Michael Kenny » 23 Dec 2021 15:49

stg 44 wrote:
23 Dec 2021 14:59
Just because a tank was cannabalized doesn't mean it wasn't repairable eventually,
The problem was that any panzer requiring 'long term maintenance' was supposed to be shipped out for homeland repair.
Repairing The Panzers Vol 2 (pg 237 ,,,.jpg
These hulks were supposed to be sent to the rear and (this bit is very important) all such vehicles were classed as a total loss and should be struck from the Unit. By keeping them they instead appear on the count as 'in repair' tanks. Not only does this burden the recovery crews with lugging them about during movements it also inflates the Units numbers. Its a damming indictment of the dysfunctional recovery system.
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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 23 Dec 2021 16:29

Michael Kenny wrote:
23 Dec 2021 15:49
stg 44 wrote:
23 Dec 2021 14:59
Just because a tank was cannabalized doesn't mean it wasn't repairable eventually,
The problem was that any panzer requiring 'long term maintenance' was supposed to be shipped out for homeland repair.

Repairing The Panzers Vol 2 (pg 237 ,,,.jpg

These hulks were supposed to be sent to the rear and (this bit is very important) all such vehicles were classed as a total loss and should be struck from the Unit. By keeping them they instead appear on the count as 'in repair' tanks. Not only does this burden the recovery crews with lugging them about during movements it also inflates the Units numbers. Its a damming indictment of the dysfunctional recovery system.
The DAMAGED tanks requiring long term or extensive repairs were supposed to be sent back to factories to be rebuilt, but units did not want to do so because they would not get them back, as they'd be recycled into the replacement pool. They retained them to repair them themselves, per your own quotes. Why would a unit want to retain a hulk that they couldn't repair? If it was irrepairable they'd just strip it for parts instead of lugging around the hulk as a super heavy parts container.

You're just misinterpreting the reasons for this as purposely concealing losses rather than for what it really was, a long term repair (for whatever reason). They just didn't follow higher level procedure because they wouldn't get the damaged unit back and instead opted to fix it themselves or in extremis cannibalize it because the parts were more valuable at that moment than getting that specific AFV back in action.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 23 Dec 2021 17:02

stg 44 wrote:
23 Dec 2021 16:29
You're just misinterpreting the reasons for this as purposely concealing losses rather than for what it really was, a long term repair (for whatever reason).
I think you are misinterpreting what some of us are thinking here to be honest. I personally haven't seen any evidence that the German units were deliberately concealing losses from their command chain. What they were obviously doing is disobeying instructions to send back tanks that could not be repaired at formation workshops in less than 4 weeks. Some of those AFVs (I'm deliberately including SP artillery here as it is of particular interest to me at the moment!) had probably been damaged directly in combat (HV weapon, artillery strike, infantry weapon, mines, aircraft attack, etc), some by mechanical failure, some would have need time-based or mileage-based maintenance and some had probably been damaged by user error (ditched, etc). Have you seen any primary documentation that can divide up those AFVs in long-term repair and disobediently keep at the front into different damage categories? If not, aren't all your suppositions purely guesswork?

The problem with the German tank casualty recording "system" is that it was fundamentally different from that of the UK/US forces in the West and, I suspect, from that of Soviet forces. It is, therefore, much more difficult to reconcile comparative tank casualties in short engagements (such as Kursk or say "Bluecoat") than much of the literature would have us believe. I don't suppose the Germans had historians in mind when they decided to lug around "crocks" which were "BLR" (beyond local repair) as the British would have described them.

Michael also makes a valuable point when he notes that lugging around "crocks" in the forlorn hope that a passing unicorn would turn up with the necessary spares it needed not only wasted recovery assets, leading to further damage as tanks towed tanks, but also probably caused recoverable tanks to be left behind during retreats.

Regard

Tom

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Michael Kenny » 23 Dec 2021 17:09

stg 44 wrote:
23 Dec 2021 16:29
They retained them to repair them themselves, per your own quotes. Why would a unit want to retain a hulk that they couldn't repair? If it was irrepairable they'd just strip it for parts instead of lugging around the hulk as a super heavy parts container.

I have no idea why your are struggling here but you fundamentally misunderstand the situation.

Front-line workshops did not have the facilities to carry out a factory rebuild. The very fact a hulk is marked as a homeland repair means that it is a total loss and beyond the capabilities of the workshops to repair it. If they thought they could fix it then it would not be marked down for homeland repair in the first place. More to the point-the recovery/repair crews had more productive things to do. Asking 'why' they did it is moot because multiple sources show that they did do it. Accept the situation rather than try and deny it by saying it can not be correct as it does not make sense. . The hulks were kept as a ready source of spare parts and the hope perhaps another more heavily damaged hulk might provide the parts needed for a repair. It is known from photos that sSS PzAbt 101 used salvaged early type turrets from blown-up hulls to mount of salvaged late hulls with destroyed turrets. We know this from photos only and not from any documentation of it happening..





stg 44 wrote:
23 Dec 2021 16:29
You're just misinterpreting the reasons for this as purposely concealing losses rather than for what it really was, a long term repair (for whatever reason).
I did no such thing.
That is your usual knee-jerk way of inventing strawmen so you can deny deny nearly everything I post. I never said the reason was to conceal the true number of write-offs rather that the practice had the effect of keeping destroyed tanks on the Unit counts.


Below is a classic example of the way you add in a made-up and unreferenced excuse (the bits in red) to completely distort an otherwise accurate description of the way it actually worked.

stg 44 wrote:
23 Dec 2021 16:29
They just didn't follow higher level procedure because they wouldn't get the damaged unit back and instead opted to fix it themselves or in extremis cannibalize it because the parts were more valuable at that moment than getting that specific AFV back in action.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 23 Dec 2021 18:50

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Dec 2021 17:02
I think you are misinterpreting what some of us are thinking here to be honest.
Largely it seems you and I understand each other just fine. Not sure if you're misunderstanding my points though.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Dec 2021 17:02
I personally haven't seen any evidence that the German units were deliberately concealing losses from their command chain.
Same here.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Dec 2021 17:02
What they were obviously doing is disobeying instructions to send back tanks that could not be repaired at formation workshops in less than 4 weeks.
Sure.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Dec 2021 17:02
Some of those AFVs (I'm deliberately including SP artillery here as it is of particular interest to me at the moment!) had probably been damaged directly in combat (HV weapon, artillery strike, infantry weapon, mines, aircraft attack, etc), some by mechanical failure, some would have need time-based or mileage-based maintenance and some had probably been damaged by user error (ditched, etc).
Ok.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Dec 2021 17:02
Have you seen any primary documentation that can divide up those AFVs in long-term repair and disobediently keep at the front into different damage categories?
Nope, you?
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Dec 2021 17:02
If not, aren't all your suppositions purely guesswork?
All of ours is. That's the entire point of the argument competing suppositions and how to categorize losses.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Dec 2021 17:02
The problem with the German tank casualty recording "system" is that it was fundamentally different from that of the UK/US forces in the West and, I suspect, from that of Soviet forces. It is, therefore, much more difficult to reconcile comparative tank casualties in short engagements (such as Kursk or say "Bluecoat") than much of the literature would have us believe. I don't suppose the Germans had historians in mind when they decided to lug around "crocks" which were "BLR" (beyond local repair) as the British would have described them.
That is not actually true given the work that Chris Lawerence did on combat losses for both side for Kursk. I just don't have the money to spend on a 1600 page coffee table book to see the breakdowns he did based on primary losses. German reporting of write offs and damaged exists, as Lawerence was able to find them. The issue is pop historians tend not to report any number for the Germans other than total losses. But for Kursk the comparisons I've seen are for total losses vs. total losses.

Michael is asserting that total losses were actually higher during Kursk and other engagements, but were 'hidden' by 'creative accounting' in repair units. He's not wrong that units were later written off for various reasons, what I'm objecting to is the idea that they were write offs based on the battle in which they were damaged rather than being written off for other reasons and later battles, so it wouldn't be correct to count them as anything other than damaged, but repairable for the battle in which they suffered damage. Triage to determine if an AFV is repairable or not is generally pretty quick and certainly was during Op Citadel. Losses due to later write offs being forced due to abandonment as a result of the Soviet offensive post-Citadel would really only be in Orel due to the timeline of events there and would be counted as write offs for the Orel battle. Since the Germans largely, AFAIK, didn't differentiate between combat write offs and abandonment write offs they'd all be lumped together in general loss reports, though at lower levels the differentiation appears to exist for some units.

Unfortunately the canard that the Germans 'counted different so their numbers are inaccurate' goes back to British historiography about the Somme and WW1 in general so a particular British general could salvage his reputation post-war and that has carried over to WW2 historiography.

The British/US equivalent to a German division sending an AFV back to the factory would be sending it back to Britain for major repairs, which generally was not done AFAIK due to the cost associated with it. They'd just send a replacement if they couldn't repair it in their depots. If I'm incorrect about that system please let me know. But assuming that is true there isn't truly a direct comparison to a German 'write off' going back to the factory for rebuilding and later reissuing it as 'new' production.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Dec 2021 17:02
Michael also makes a valuable point when he notes that lugging around "crocks" in the forlorn hope that a passing unicorn would turn up with the necessary spares it needed not only wasted recovery assets, leading to further damage as tanks towed tanks, but also probably caused recoverable tanks to be left behind during retreats.
Sure, but that wasn't the point I was objecting to, that only came into the argument later and is besides the point. His claim was they recovered wrecks to strip for parts later and then kept lugging them around for some reason until they eventually decided to ditch it.
The 'tanks towed tanks' thing is AFAIK mostly Tiger tanks due to so few heavy recovery vehicles being available.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Michael Kenny » 23 Dec 2021 19:14

Since the Germans largely, AFAIK, didn't differentiate between combat write offs and abandonment write offs they'd all be lumped together in general loss reports
Again a fundamental misunderstanding of the way different Units recorded tank casualties.
For a Tank Regiment there were just 3 types of tanks, runners, minor damage and needing major repair. The first two were kept with the Unit and the last sent to workshops. As far as the Unit was concerned that was the end of the matter and the 'major repair' tanks were struck from the count and treated as a total loss.
For the receiving Workshops those 'major repair' types were examined and detailed breakdowns of the repair needed made out with obvious total write-offs marked as scrap. It could be that mechanical issues were one reason for the repairs but as far as I am aware no Workshop was ever interested in finding out or recording if the damage was caused by the enemy or their own side. Friendly fire, enemy action or suicide played no part in the repair cycle and it is a completely-made-up classification invented by people who had wanted to minimise German tank losses to as small a number as possible by not counting the total of ALL written-off tanks.

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