The Chances of Fall Blau 1942.

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Reich Ruin
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Post by Reich Ruin » 28 Sep 2005 03:18

So Fall Blau was doomed to fail from the start!? :?

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Post by Lars » 28 Sep 2005 11:26

Victor wrote: Why would the fall of Novorossyisk mean that Sevastopol won't be supplied anymore? The ChF proved capable of carrying out many landing operations from other ports on the Black Sea coast. It wasn't incapacitated by the loss of Novorossyisk.

But even considering your theory correct, Novorossyisk was taken at the beginning of September 1942. That would give the ChF two whole months to land forces in Crimea once again and create a crtitical situation like it did in December 1941-January 1942. Sevastopol would have tied down the entire 11th Army in Crimea and its German forces would have later be sent north to Leningrad.
Victor,

The fall of Novorossyisk would mean that Sevastopol had to be supplied from Tuapse. It is too long of a supply route from Sevastopol to Tuapse when the Luftwaffe has air superiority. Besides, had 5 armies of the later Trans Caucasus Front been surrounded at the onset of Case Blue, Tuapse would have fallen quickly after Novorossyisk.

Regarding the second part of your statement. If you think that the Soviets would have sailed troops from Novorossyisk into Sevastopol when the Germans were crossing the Don and with 5 armies missing from the Trans Casucasus Front OOB, who am I to stop you :wink:

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Post by Qvist » 28 Sep 2005 11:36

Regarding the second part of your statement. If you think that the Soviets would have sailed troops from Novorossyisk into Sevastopol when the Germans were crossing the Don and with 5 armies missing from the Trans Casucasus Front OOB, who am I to stop you
Maybe not, but what about when Heeresgruppe A was slogging through the mountain passes of the southern Caucasus, and SW Front was approaching the Black Sea coast from the North through Millerovo some time in November? Or after a Soviet counteroffensive from the North has cut off all forces East of the Mius, leaving the Crimea the sole route of escape for forces who have to travel all the way from Baku? The value of Sevastopol as a Soviet asset depends on the overal situation, but it is not difficult to foresee situations where it can be a very substantial thorn in the German side. And again, I do not see how not attacking Sevastopol in itself makes possible the grand stroke in the South?

cheers

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Post by Lars » 28 Sep 2005 13:56

Qvist wrote:Hi Lars

The question though is whether this is a worthwhile tradeoff for a perpetual Damocles sword of a left flank and 568,000 casualties not suffered by SW, Brjansk and Voronesh Front. :)

Anyway, thanks for bearing with me - I know from own experience what it's like to put forward a counterfactual scenario that some people seem strangely reluctant to accept.:) But these are instructive discussions for all concerned, I think.

cheers
Last paragraph first: You are welcome :) I suppose we are all in this to find out what may hold water and what may not. And I find the dicussion entertaining ad entlightening.

FWIIW, I believe that Moscow-Leningrad would be a better target for 1942 than Stalingrad-Baku. But alas, Reich Ruin has set the agenda for this folder :-)

Regarding the perpetual Damocles sword of a left flank and 568,000 casualties not suffered: I agree that there is a danger. But on the other hand that danger should not be overstated. The South West Front was preparaing its own attack against the German frontline when Case Blue hit, see fx. Glantz´ Clash of Titans. The commander of the South West Front tried to persuade Stalin to skip the attack in the light of captured German attack plans for Case Blue (captured on June 19th, AFAIR, from a downed German plane). Stalin told the SW Front commander that the German plans were a hoax and that he should continue with the build up of the attack against the German lines.

So, if the Germans skip the Voronesz operation this will probably mean that the SW Front will go ahead with its attack as fast as possible on Stalin´s insistance. While an attack on the German lines to the west of Voronesz a few days into Case Blue will certainly be unwelcomed new for the Germans, I fail to see that this is catastrofic for them in any reagard. Nowhere did the Soviets attack the Germans during the late spring and summer of 1942 and managed to shake them. At Leningrad, at the Crimea, at Rzhev (absent occational local German panic), the Soviets attacked, advanced a few tens of kilometers at the most, and suffered huge casualties in the process. The one place where they managed a breakthough, at Kharkow in May, ended in complete distaster. So the South West Front attack would probably result in nothing but huge Soviet caualtes against a German force not part of Case Blue. But yes, Uncle Joe will advance a few tens of kilometers..maybe..

The Bryansk Front was also busy preparing its own attack to the north of Orel, IIRC. This attack was caried out in July I think, with neglible results.

The tank army which attacked the German left flank a week into Case Blue north-west of Voronez was originally placed 200 kilometers or so to the north to protect against the expected German advance from the south against Moscow (see map in Clash of Titans). This tank army will probably hit the German left flank even if the Germans skip the Voronesz operation. However, it will have to travel 400 kilometer to the south to attack the Germans instead of 200 kilometers, so the Germans will have plenty of time to prepare for the onslaught. The Luftwaffe would be happy to hit the tank army well before it comes into contack with the German left flank.

So not doing the Voronesz operation wll not mean that ½ mio. Soviet troops from the SW Front and the Voronezs Front attack the German left flank in Case Blue, not when that left flank is 200 kilometers further to the south, Stalin main concern is the protection of Moscow, and because these fronts have their own attack orders (which were designed to lessen the percieved threat to Mocow).

The real problem with the left flank comes when the rasputsista is over in November and winter sets in. Until then all the Soviets can do to the German left flank are massed high-casualty nuisance attacks. And if the Germans have not weakened the Soviets by then by taking away their oil, the Germans are in trouble. But if Case Blue isn´t won by November the Grmans are cooked one way or the other..

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Post by Lars » 28 Sep 2005 16:27

Qvist wrote:
Regarding the second part of your statement. If you think that the Soviets would have sailed troops from Novorossyisk into Sevastopol when the Germans were crossing the Don and with 5 armies missing from the Trans Casucasus Front OOB, who am I to stop you
Maybe not, but what about when Heeresgruppe A was slogging through the mountain passes of the southern Caucasus, and SW Front was approaching the Black Sea coast from the North through Millerovo some time in November? Or after a Soviet counteroffensive from the North has cut off all forces East of the Mius, leaving the Crimea the sole route of escape for forces who have to travel all the way from Baku? The value of Sevastopol as a Soviet asset depends on the overal situation, but it is not difficult to foresee situations where it can be a very substantial thorn in the German side. And again, I do not see how not attacking Sevastopol in itself makes possible the grand stroke in the South?

cheers
Qvist,

Not attacking Sevastopol saves tens of thousands of shells, tens of thousands of Luftwaffe sorties and bombs, and tens of thousands of tonnes of gas to be used in Case Blue proper. That is the trade off.

As for your scenario where the Soviets attack in November from the north and reach the Black Sea and cut off great numbers of German forces: Well, if the Soviets really manage to do that and beat off the German relief attempts, then the Germans are cooked regardless of whether Sevastopol has survied at the German rear or not.

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Post by Victor » 28 Sep 2005 16:32

Victor,

The fall of Novorossyisk would mean that Sevastopol had to be supplied from Tuapse. It is too long of a supply route from Sevastopol to Tuapse when the Luftwaffe has air superiority. Besides, had 5 armies of the later Trans Caucasus Front been surrounded at the onset of Case Blue, Tuapse would have fallen quickly after Novorossyisk.

Regarding the second part of your statement. If you think that the Soviets would have sailed troops from Novorossyisk into Sevastopol when the Germans were crossing the Don and with 5 armies missing from the Trans Casucasus Front OOB, who am I to stop you :wink:
The Luftwaffe had air superiority also during May-June 1942 in Crimea and supplies reached Sevastopol, with the whole Fliegerkorps VIII in Crimea. In your scenario, the Luftwaffe presence in the peninsula would be much diminished by the concentration of aircraft on the mainland.

I was not referring to shipping troops to Seavsatopol anyway. I was referring to landings at Kerch, Feodosyia, Sudak and other places where ChF already landed forces with some degree of success during the winter. After all Kerch is not that far from the Caucasian bases and could be reached before Germans would take Novorossyisk. You can obviously say that the Red Army did not attempt any landings in Crimea during the historical Operation Blue, but then again they didn't have the advantage of already having 106,000 men in Sevastopol. This clould be quite disrupting when in full offensive. The idea is that leaving a strong base of operations in your side is asking for trouble later on. Stavka would have obviously tried to use this situation in its advantage, even just for the sake of creating a diversion that would give it some breathing space.

You have a point with the destruction of five armies of the Transcaucasian Front. Btw, I have only seen 4 armies on the map (9th, 18th, 37th and 56th Armies) in Southern Ukraine at the beginning of Operation Blue. Which one is the 5th Army from the Transcaucasian front that would be destroyed?

However, those 4 or 5 armies have also men during the historical Operation Blue, even though not all of them. It would be interesting to know how many they were and how much of the combat strength of the Transcaucasian Front resided in thse armies and how much in the relatively fresh 44th, 46th, 47th and 58th Armies.

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Post by César C. » 28 Sep 2005 20:54

Reich Ruin wrote:So Fall Blau was doomed to fail from the start!? :?
Well, that would be the 64,000 dollars question, wouldn't it? :)

I guess looking back at events that happened more than 60 years ago, the benefit of hindsight tells us that the ultimate objective set for Fall Blau, which was to capture of the oilfields at Baku more or less intact, and hold them against the inevitable Soviet counteroffensive, were beyond the actual capabilities of the Wehrmacht of 1942, especially considering its serious lack of manpower and the acute shortage of oil for the task at hand. When you consider the correlation of forces and the impressive ability that the Soviet Union had for making good the huge losses suffered during the summer, and then go to the offensive, the relative German weakness becomes all the more obvious.

Having said that, I would say that the catastrophic way the campaign ended was in no way unavoidable. Serious mistakes made during the course of the campaign, the most important being the premature decision to send Army Groups A and B on diverging paths, so as to go for the Volga and the Caucasus oilfields simultaneously (a decision that strained the German logistical capability beyond limits) put the final nail in the coffin of Blau. Later, to add insult to injury, Hitler's obsession with the capture of Stalingrad meant that:
(a) Army Group A's advance on the Caucasus (which should have become first priority) was neglected and left without air support, and soon found itself unable to advance any more for lack of fuel and increasing Soviet resistance
(b) The Sixth Army divisions became stuck in the street-by-street fighting for the city, leaving OKH no option but to trust the protection of the entire left flank along the banks of the Don to Hungarian, Italian, and Rumanian forces, wich were unprepared for the fighting on the Eastern Front.

Behind all these huge mistakes and errors that ended up in such a shattering catastrophe for Germany, there was, in my opinion, a single all-important factor influencing Hitler's -and even OKH's- decisions: the ignorance about the real capabilities of the Soviet Union to sustain such staggering losses and yet recover so quickly. For it is a historical fact that even when Uranus was launched, nobody in Army Group B or in 6th Army HQ really considered that the Soviets were actually trying to -of all things- encircle and destroy an entire German army. "Oh, they won't dare to try that!".
________

There are alternative scenarios in which the Germans not only that avoid total catastrophe, but actually come out in much better shape, leaving the Soviet economy in a delicate position come winter 1943. Those are scenarios that depend totally on the benefit of hinsight, and do not take into consideration the personalities of the men making the decisions back then. But just to show you how the "historical Blau" was not necessarily condemned to end in utter failure and national catastrophe of war-losing proportions, here is one such "alternative Blau":

Background: It was unavoidable that the German offensive for 1942 had to take place in the South. Germany's oil situation was becoming critical by the minute, and as Hitler put it so clearly on June 1, 1942 to the staff of Army Group B: "If I do not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny then I must end this war." Well, he got that right, and note that he didn't even say Baku or Batumi. Failing to take the oilfields in 1942 (which still does not address the fact that even if the oilfields and the refineries could be put rapidly to work, there was no way to tranport the oil to the Reich, not even through the Black Sea!) at the very least Germany had to deny that oil to the Soviets. As the oilfields at Baku produced some 80% of the entire Soviet production, Hitler could strike a crippling blow to the Soviet Union by preventing the oil of Baku from reaching Central Russia.
Now, from what I have read, the USSR had three ways to transport the oil out of the Caucasus:
(1) A pipeline that crossed the entire Caucasus region, from Baku to Batumi (huge refineries there), and then in tankers via the Black Sea to ports in the Ukraine
(2) The oil that went North to Moscow and the industrial areas of Central Russia went in tankers via the Caspian Sea from Batumi to Astrakhan, at the mouth of the Volga. From there, it was sent upriver to its final destinations.
(3) The oil that went to the industrial areas of the Urals and Siberia also went via the Caspian Sea, from Batumi to Gurev, where a pipeline sent it all the way towards Ufa.

So for the campaign of 1942, Hitler, failing to get to Baku, had to achieve two things:
a) Make the Volga unsafe for navigation. For that, he had to reach the Volga at Astrakhan or at the very least at Stalingrad, and then start shelling anything that moved upriver or downriver.
b) Establish a firm foothold north of the Caucasus mountains north of the Terek river, setting up airfields from where He-111s and Ju-88s could deliver non-stop bombing strikes against Grozny, the Caspian sea traffic, and even Baku itself. (As the USAAF bombing campaign against the synthetic plants in Germany later in the war demonstrated, bombing refineries and oilfields with success is not beyond the real capabilities of a bombing force).

Operations: That could probably have been done, IF:
(1) Fourth Panzer Army, having reached the Don at Tsymiliansk on July 17, was immediately sent northwards instead of letting it cross the Don and continue its drive into the Caucasus. That way, it could have supported Paulus' advance to Stalingrad, a city that with aid of Hoth's panzers could have been reached before the end of July and taken by the infantry of Sixth Army by the middle of August, if not before.
The Volga is cut, Fourth Pz Army panzer and motorized divisions constitute a mobile reserve in the Don bend, and Sixth Army can take up positions along the banks of the Don.

(2) First Pz Army and 17th Army advanced rapidly southwards with the help of VIII and IV Fliegerkorps, crossing the Kuban and taking Novorosiisk, Maikop (damaged), Voroshilovsk, Armavir and reaching the Terek, all during the first two weeks of August.
At that point, mountain passes turn out to be very well defended and the offensive comes to a stop. No problem. The German, Italian, and Rumanian mountain divisions seal off the Caucasus passes and stay where they are. First Pz Army stays behind the Terek, as the logistical problems do not allow it to advance any further.

(3) Then it is the turn of the Luftwaffe: Fliegerkorps VIII and IV, reinforced by Luftwaffenkommando Ost, if possible, start to do in August what historically they did only in October, when it was very late, as there were not enough bombers for the task and the VVS presence had become much stronger: a strategic bombing campaign against Grozny and Baku.

Conclusions:
* By the beginning of September, the Germans have consolidated their position on the banks of the Volga at Stalingrad (they start perhaps to think about taking Astrakahan before winter sets in.) The Volga is cut to all naval traffic. The Sixth Army and Fourth Pz Army stand prepared against any possible Soviet offensive along the Don.
*The frontline in the South is fixed: in the West, the Caucasus mountain passes, in the East, the river Terek. The Luftwaffe, flying from bases around Voroshilovsk, Armavir and Maikop, destroys the oilfields at Baku, the refineries at Grozny, and closes the Caspian to all naval traffic.

Come November 1942 the Soviets have lost the Caucasus oil and are not sure about launching an offensive across the Don. They have not lost the war, but the campaign of 1943 will more likely be defensive in nature, at least until the British can begin sending sufficient oil to the USSR from the Gulf via Persia.
The Germans, on the other hand, have managed during the winter to put back in operation some of the oilfields and refineries at Maikop, and are getting ready to strike to Moscow from both East and South, under the directions of the new head of OKH, Field Marshall Friedrich von Paulus, conqueror of Stalingrad, and the newly appointed Supreme Commander of Wehrmacht for the Eastern Front, Field Marshall Erich von Manstein, conqueror of the Crimea.

As for Hitler, well he is too busy arguing with Speer about the number of lanes that the new superautobahn Berlin-Yalta will have. Designing the luxurious plazas and fuel stations that will serve the only-for-übermenschen highway is also causing much heated discussion between Hitler and Speer.

Gladly, Reich Ruin, that "alternative Blau" never happened.

César.

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Post by Michate » 29 Sep 2005 07:55

Good analysis of the situation, just on quibble:
Behind all these huge mistakes and errors that ended up in such a shattering catastrophe for Germany, there was, in my opinion, a single all-important factor influencing Hitler's -and even OKH's- decisions: the ignorance about the real capabilities of the Soviet Union to sustain such staggering losses and yet recover so quickly. For it is a historical fact that even when Uranus was launched, nobody in Army Group B or in 6th Army HQ really considered that the Soviets were actually trying to -of all things- encircle and destroy an entire German army. "Oh, they won't dare to try that!".
Actually it was more along the lines "Oh, they won't dare to try that simultaneously at two places.

From August some of the German commanders became worried about a Soviet attack across the Don into the flank of 6th armiy (including 6th army's staff and even Hitler, after Gehlen had presented to him a map showing a similar attack executed during the Civil War). However in the subsequent months Foreign Armies East collected more and more intelligence that pointed, whether correctly interpreted or not, to a large attack against 9th army's sector at Rshev, and Gehlen predicted an encirclement operation with the pincers closing at Smolensk. In late October and early November, when signs of a Soviet buildup at the Don bridgeheads became apparent, an attack against the Romanians and Italians holding that sector was also predicted. This however was rated as a much more limited attack than took place historically, because the Red Army was rated as too weak to attack decisively at two places. This seems to have caused even ignorance of own intelligence on behalf of Gehlen, such as identification of Soviet 5th Tank Army in the Don bridgeheads.

Regards,
Michate

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Post by Qvist » 29 Sep 2005 08:51

Cesar:

Good comments. However, I am not altogether convinced that the Luftwaffe had the capacity for a successful strategic air campign against the Soviet oil supplies, with or without bases on the northern Caucasus. And even an attempt depended on the continuing ability to hold these territories, which I doubt even more. Nor do I think that Hitler's insistence on the absolute neccessity of the Caucasian oil for the German war effort should be taken wholly at face value, as something that was an immediate and pressing precondition for the continued prosecution of the war. While the German war effort certainly was seriously handicapped by oil shortages, they still kept it up for 2 1/2 years after Stalingrad.

cheers

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Post by Lars » 29 Sep 2005 10:53

Victor wrote:
I was not referring to shipping troops to Seavsatopol anyway. I was referring to landings at Kerch, Feodosyia, Sudak and other places where ChF already landed forces with some degree of success during the winter. After all Kerch is not that far from the Caucasian bases and could be reached before Germans would take Novorossyisk. You can obviously say that the Red Army did not attempt any landings in Crimea during the historical Operation Blue, but then again they didn't have the advantage of already having 106,000 men in Sevastopol. This clould be quite disrupting when in full offensive. The idea is that leaving a strong base of operations in your side is asking for trouble later on. Stavka would have obviously tried to use this situation in its advantage, even just for the sake of creating a diversion that would give it some breathing space.
Victor,

In early August the Soviet Black Sea fleet was busy evacuating troops mainly from the area around the Sea of Asov to the south. Later in August/September, the Black Sea fleet was busy ferrying troops up from the south (Batumi) to Tuaspse and Sukhumi to beef up the defense of these naval bases. I don´t think that the North Caucasus Front, with 6 armeis missing from its OOB, can think of anything else than patching together a defense of the Black Sea coastline and Georgia.

And if the Soviet Black Sea fleet should land behind the German lines in the late summer-early fall of 1942, it is asking for trouble, IMO. Add to that that the Soviet Black Sea commander was a very cautious risk-adverse man.

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Post by Lars » 29 Sep 2005 11:09

Victor wrote:
You have a point with the destruction of five armies of the Transcaucasian Front. Btw, I have only seen 4 armies on the map (9th, 18th, 37th and 56th Armies) in Southern Ukraine at the beginning of Operation Blue. Which one is the 5th Army from the Transcaucasian front that would be destroyed?

However, those 4 or 5 armies have also men during the historical Operation Blue, even though not all of them. It would be interesting to know how many they were and how much of the combat strength of the Transcaucasian Front resided in thse armies and how much in the relatively fresh 44th, 46th, 47th and 58th Armies.
Victor,

Thanks.

The opening move of Case Blue would be to encircle 6 armies (from north to south): 38th, 9th, 37th, 12th, 18th and 56th Army. At July 25th 5 of these armies were part of the North Caucasus Front taking up positions at the middle and lower Don. 37th, 12th (your missing army), and 18th were taking up positions at the lower Don. 9th army was stationed around Salsk. The 56th was placed east of Kuscevskaja. My source is the map in "Das Deuthche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg", vol. 6, p.888.

The sixth encirkled army would be the 38th. This army was rechrishtened 1st Tank Army and fought the Germans in front of Stalingrad at the middle Don from late July onwards. So of the six encirckled armies 5 would be from the later North Caucasus Front and 1 would later be part of the Stalingrad defense.

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Post by Qvist » 29 Sep 2005 11:38

Lars;

Generally I don't have much more to add without repeating myself - except that the danger to the German flanks is naturally not an issue for late summer or early fall, but rather for late autumn and winter. The historical experience should underline just how real and present this threat was.

cheers

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Post by Lars » 29 Sep 2005 11:38

Cesar,

A number of good points.

- To the means of transporting Soviet oil from Baku should be added:
(4) The railroad from Makhalakhaja(sp?) to Astrakhan. The railroad was only finished during the summer of 1942 and its existence came as a suprise for the Germans.

- Regarding the German strategic bombing of Baku: If you have Hayward´s excellent "Stopped at Stalingrad", he does to some extent discuss this possibility. His conclusion is that there was a window for strategic bombing of the oil fields and that it should have been seized by Hitler. The window to bomb Baku closed in September however, as the Soviet air force became too strong and the German forward air fields came under attack and had to be abandoned. There is an article by Hayward on his homepage which goes more into detail.

- As for the Germans neglecting Soviet capabilities: This was as much a deliberate choice by Hitler as due to fautly German intelligence. On June 28th, on the very day Case blue started, Fremde Heere Ost (Foreign Armies East) lay forward a rather realistic view of the Soviet capabilities. As always, 1/Hitler choose to ignore the paper, or 2/ Hitler wasn´t shown the paper at all because he exploded whenever such figures were presented to him condemning the entire general staff of defatism, lack of spine, lack of national-socialist will, cowardice, etc, etc.

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Post by Lars » 29 Sep 2005 11:45

Joel Hayward´s article below:
The article argues for the first time that the Luftwaffe could have dealt the Soviet economy a major blow, from which it would have taken at least several months to recover, if Hitler had not been so obsessed with Stalingrad and wasted his airpower assets on its destruction. During August and early September 1942 the Luftwaffe possessed the means to inflict heavy damage on Baku, the Caucasus oil metropolis that alone accounted for 80 per cent of all Soviet production. The Luftwaffe still possessed a strong bomber force and airfields within striking range and the Soviet Air Force's presence in the Caucasus was still relatively weak. By October, however, when Hitler finally ordered attacks on oilfields, the Luftwaffe's eastern bomber fleet was much reduced and most forward airfields had been badly damaged by Soviet air forces which were then far stronger. The conclusion is unmistakable: Hitler had missed a golden opportunity to hurt the Soviet economy and war effort.
http://www.joelhayward.org/luftwaffevssovietoil.htm

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Post by Qvist » 29 Sep 2005 12:27

I don´t think that the North Caucasus Front, with 6 armeis missing from its OOB, can think of anything else than patching together a defense of the Black Sea coastline and Georgia.
There are some strong indications that the forces deployed in the southern forward armies in July did not represent more than a limited part of the forces they could field in the Caucasus during the remainder of the year. These were the formations under the control of Southern and North Caucasus Fronts. On 25 July, these had 300,000 and 216,100 men respectively - not very strong.

Now, on 1 September, these Fronts were dissolved, and absorbed into the Caucasus Front. On 1 January, when the North Caucasus offensive kicked off, S Front was re-established to join C Front with a strength of 393,800, while C Front retained 685,600. Hence, the strength of the frontline forces in the Caucasus had apparently more than doubled since July, despite absorbing almost 350,000 casualties from late July on. And these do not even represent the full scale of the forces in the Caucasus - Norrth Caucasus Front was reactivated in late January, and remained in existence until November. During this period, it had an average strength of 416,000. It is conceivable that it took over command of some of SF and CF's forces, but both of these fronts have average strengths for 1943 that are even higher than their 1 January strength (and CF was dissolved in April) , so it does not seem very likely that NCF contained no considerable forces beyond these.

Hence, it would appear that the forces under command of S/NC Fronts in late July were augmented by at least a further ~ 900,000 (difference between 25 July and 1 January strengths, plus the losses suffered during the period) until the end of the year, additional forces who were either already present in the Caucasus in July (but not under the command of the armies you are talking of destroying), or were brought there during the course of the autumn. Obviously, it would be preferable to rely on a more detailed analysis of the formations in question, but even these macro figures do suggest that even the complete defeat of S and NC Fronts would not have left the Red Army with an almost bare cupboard in the Caucasus.

Now, let me expand that into a more general picture of the strengths involved on each side.

The picture on the main axis towards Stalingrad is very confusing to piece together on the basis of Fronts figures, because of several renamings and reorganisations. Stalingrad Front had 540,300 men on 17 July, which is the point from the Soviets reckon the start of the Stalingrad defensive operation. It was joined in August by a new command, SouthEastern Front. The apparoximate strength of level of these can be gauged from their average strengths for the year (StF 455,198 from July, SE F 327,904, from August). To make things more confusing, StF was renamed Don Front in October, while SEF was renamed Stalingrad Front. Over the cause of their existence in 1942, they suffered 687,987 and 342,595 losses respectively.

The forces along the Axis left flank encompassed Voronesh, Southwestern and, at least in part, Brjansk Fronts. SW Front is the easiest to account for, as it was dissolved after the voronesh operation, and re-established to take part in the Stalingrad offensive, having 398,000 men on the first day of that operation. It had 610,000 men on 28 June, and lost 232,741 until the end of that operation, when it was dissolved. It was re-established in October, and had an average strength of 335,000 over the remainder of the year. VF was established on 9 July, lost 76,000 men in the Voronesh operation, and had an average strength of 303,000 for the remainder of the year. When it joined the offensive fray on 13 January 1943, it did so with 347,200 men. Brjansk Front participated with part of its forces in the Voronesh defensive operation, some 169,000. These suffered 66,000 casualties until 24 july. It participated in the January Kharkov offensive with 95,000 men. Its overall strength averaged 253,000 in 1942.

In terms of operations, the key figures for the defensive ones have already been quoted. All the strengths refer to the first day of the operation, hence do not fully reflect the forces involved in them. These are the offensive ones:

Stalingrad Offensive.
19 november - 2 February.
Don Front. Whole period - 307,500 men on 19.11. 368,000 average strength 1 January - 2 February 1943. 101,630 casualties during the course of the offensive.
South-Western Front. Until 31 December - 398,100 men on 19.11. 212,692 casualties 19.-11.-31.12.
Stalingrad Front - until 24 December, 429,200 men om 19.11., 101,630 casualties until 24.12.
Voronesh Front - whole period, but only parts of the formation (strength not known, but probably not much as casualties only amount to 1488).
In all - 1,143,500 men deployed at outset, 485,777 casualties.

North Caucasus Offensive ("Don")
1 January - 4 February 1943
Caucasus Front - whole period, 685,000 men on 1 January, 42,000 casualties.
Southern Front - whole period, 393800 men on 1 January, 101,717 casualties
North Caucasus Front - from 24 January - strength unknown, 9,900 casualties.

Hopefully, this gives a little substance to our idea of the strength of men that the Soviet forces could field on this part of the front. Here the casualties are also important to consider, because together with the development of the strength, they tell us something of the size of the forces that were committed. All figures from Krivosheev, easily accessible for the most part also on the sticky "Soviet Fronts strengths" in this section.

What then could the Germans put against this?

Let's look at the strength of the German armies, as they emerge from BA-MA RW6-535-3 and 11, in which the Iststärke by AOK for this period is contained. The fluctuations in strength naturally reflect not just personnell flow, but also regroupings of units and sub-commands between different AOKs. Unfortunately, the document is not clear on which specific point in time the monthly strengths refer to - they could be the start or the end of the month, the 10th, the 20th, or an average of the 10th, 20th and 30th. But for purposes as general as these, it does not matter much.

On the far left there is AOK2, responsible for the sector facing Voronesh, and eventually, for the leftmost part of Blau's flank. It had recorded the following strengths:

Jun - 175209
Jul - 280482
Aug - 268126
Sep - 227047
Oct - 224334
Nov - 211610

Then there are the main maneuver formations on the stalingrad axis, AOK 6 and PzAOK 4:

AOK6

Jun - 320929
Jul - 317896
Aug - 256500
Sep - 265491
Oct - 282356

PzAOK 4

Jun - 141013
Jul - 85643
Aug - 105792
Sep - 72854
Oct - 13663 (almost wholly absorbed by AOK 6)

Then, the two armies of HG A:

PzAOK 1

Jun - 170515
Jul - 226688
Aug - 155848
Sep - 151131
Oct - 155492
Nov - 161357

AOK 17

Jun - 167521
Jul - 135504
Aug - 202040
Sep - 196984
Oct - 190686
Nov - 173888

Then, there's AOK 11, which is on the Crimea by the start of the season, and is then moved to HG Nord after the Sevastopol battle:

Jun - 320929
Jul - 317896
Aug - 256500
Sep - 265491
Oct - 282356

Additionally, we must consider the Corps who were attached to the allied armies (strengths here are averages of 10., 20. and 30. in each month):

LIX AK
Aug - 42194
Sep - 51121
Oct - 70178
Nov - 55324

XXIX AK
Aug - 29675
Sep - 45360
Oct - 52036
Nov - 25601

XXIV PzK
Sep - 29462
Oct - 29618
Nov - 25590

Finally, there's the allied armies themselves, for whom I sadly however have no good immediately available data.
Have to go now - will try to finish up this later. But here is I believe the rudiments for gaining a valid impression of the amount of force (in personnell) the Soviet and German armies could deploy during this period. considered carefully, I think it will illustrate just how dangerous the situation is for the Germans by late autumn - and especially if they are standing in an even more exposed position than historically.

cheeers
Last edited by Qvist on 29 Sep 2005 15:06, edited 1 time in total.

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