Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

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stg 44
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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 24 Dec 2021 17:32

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
24 Dec 2021 16:36
stg 44 wrote:
24 Dec 2021 16:21
Inventory just means 'on hand', which isn't a new term. You need an accounting of your total stock of AFVs. Why is it not helpful?
Because I would have thought the most important number would be that of tanks available for combat per day. Wheatley's "inventory" includes tanks which are in (or waiting for) short- and long-term repair and therefore not available for combat.
In his case he is investigating how many tanks were destroyed, so it is important to know what the inventory was at certain points to see what the write offs were, what the replacements sent were and how they impacted the overall inventory, and what repairs were for whatever reason, as each day more were returned to operational status. As he says it is 'deep research' so you need all sorts of info to figure out what he was looking for.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
24 Dec 2021 16:36
A panzer division's "inventory" could be large, but its fighting potential could nevertheless be small if a significant proportion of its tanks were not available for combat, i.e. operational.
Of course. But he lists what is operational as well; it is helpful to note how the list of operational and non-operational AFVs changes over time and how quickly units get back into operational status, as an AFV taken out of action for 24 hours vs. 3 weeks is important especially if you want to investigate how many long term repairs there were and could later be written off.
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
24 Dec 2021 16:36
stg 44 wrote:
24 Dec 2021 16:21
Based on the losses of the tank army and number of write offs per their own records that I've seen referenced elsewhere
Isn't it possible, though, that a tank "written off" by the Guards Tank Army was subsequently repaired by a higher level formation? And subsequently issued to front-line troops again?

Regards

Tom
Depends on what the Soviet repair system was. It is not a subject I've studied in detail given the lack of sources in English about it. I would assume it is possible they could rebuild units at factories once the front stabilized enough in 1943 for them to start recovering knocked out units for repair, since that was a 'luxury' not often available in 1941-42. As your Dupuy links mention though there were army and Front tank depots, so there was probably the ability to do more maintenance there that was impossible in the field, but it sounds like they would only have the capabilities that a German field repair unit would have; it doesn't tell us though if the knocked out AFV returned to the army or Front would be 'written off' though or if that would mean it could be counted as 'destroyed' by Krivosheev later on. The part 2 link does mention that replacement tanks were just as important as the repair services, but no mention of factory rebuilds.

However a broader strategic view of the subject is probably helpful there, as Krivosheev list something like 96,600 AFVs (tanks+spgs) the Soviets fielded in WW2 as destroyed out of around 115,000 AFVs (not including L-L AFVs) produced/on hand from 1939-45. That tracks with the horrific losses of the Soviet tank service, as roughly 75% of everyone who fought in a Soviet tank died. 300,000 out of 400,000 men. Not casualties, died. Wounded were included in the 100,000 survivors. It then tracks that the vast majority of Soviet AFVs in WW2 were destroyed given the extreme death rate of Soviet tank crews. Walter Dunn's book on the Red Army is my source, but that info can also be found on this forum with a forum search.

So rather than rebuilding wrecks the Soviets simply built more tanks, hence their very high output of tanks during the war. It was probably cheaper than trying to salvage burned out units, since given the cramped conditions in side a penetrating shot would generally do pretty catastrophic damage, especially with 75mm and 88mm (or calibers above that) that the Germans used. Given the death rate of Soviet tank crews this bears out statistically.

This video has some info too and another source I haven't read yet, but will look up later today for more info:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrPlzexGnS0
Last edited by stg 44 on 24 Dec 2021 23:06, edited 1 time in total.

Michael Kenny
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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Michael Kenny » 24 Dec 2021 22:39

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
24 Dec 2021 16:36

A panzer division's "inventory" could be large, but its fighting potential could nevertheless be small if a significant proportion of its tanks were not available for combat, i.e. operational.

The number of operational tanks in 1st/2nd/3rd SS July 4th-18th. Number from Zetterling and Frankson with 3 days I left out (6th, 7th & 12th) because they have only a partial count.

451
389
307/296
249
272
294
251
266
259
292
312
324


to pre-empt the inevitable nitpicking/denial of reality reply this from the same source:

Kursk German tank losses Zetterling (1)nn.jpg
Kursk German tank losses Zetterling (2)bb.jpg
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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 24 Dec 2021 23:01

Reading HS-129 Panzerjager, Pegg and it says that once the Orel operation commenced, 1st Flieger-Division was reinforced by HS-129 transfers from Fliegerkorps VIII, increasing Anti-tank air power:

4./Sch.G.1
8./Sch.G.1
4./Sch.G.2
Pz.Ja.St.JG51

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by stg 44 » 24 Dec 2021 23:09

Michael Kenny wrote:
24 Dec 2021 22:39
to pre-empt the inevitable nitpicking/denial of reality reply this from the same source:


Kursk German tank losses Zetterling (1)nn.jpgKursk German tank losses Zetterling (2)bb.jpg
Which the deep research Mr. Wheatley did covers. In fact his work is EXACTLY what Zetterling is saying should be done to find out the details. Wheatley even tracked some AFVs of the SS panzer corps from Citadel through December 1943.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 24 Dec 2021 23:12

In a personal account, after this reassignment Georg Dornemann (4./Sch.G.1) claimed that his Staffel knocked out "50 or more tanks" in one raid against a Soviet tank assembly area behind the front lines. His own score was 3 tanks.

.....

On July 22, 1943 (during the Orel Operation), 2nd Tank Army lost 22 T-34 and 5 T-70 (27 tanks) due to air strikes. This might be the action??

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Michael Kenny » 24 Dec 2021 23:44

stg 44 wrote:
24 Dec 2021 23:09

Which the deep research Mr. Wheatley did covers. In fact his work is EXACTLY what Zetterling is saying should be done to find out the details. Wheatley even tracked some AFVs of the SS panzer corps from Citadel through December 1943.
I was (I thought) illustrating that you do not need to pay through the nose to find the number of daily tank casualties. It is very basic bean-counting and anyone with access to the the counts and an abacus can work it out. All the 'deep research'/'tracking' adds or takes away not a single casualty. That sort of technical detail is interesting but incidental to the point of the count .

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 25 Dec 2021 00:06

19th July, 1943: Schwarm 4./Sch.G.1 knocked out 5 Soviet tanks attacking a railway line, the Staffel commander, Major Matuschek fails to pull up his HS-129 fast enough after pass and rams into the final tank, destroying both parties. So he dies just like the training accident I posted earlier.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 10 Jan 2022 00:10

Generalmajor Hitschhold 2 October 1945 on Ground attack:
a) Against ground troops:

Ground troops in open country and in positions which offer no cover against air attacks were effectively bombed with small fragmentation bombs of 1, 2, 4, and 10 kilograms, in large containers if possible. Less effective were the 50 and 70kg. fragmentation bombs, even with projecting fuses to make them explode above the ground.
I believe this is referring to SD-2 and other such bomb types
(b) Against heavy weapons:

These targets were bombed to destroy personnel with the same bombs used under (a) above. If the cannon stood in the open, without cover (being transported or simply dispersed), then the 50, 70, and 250 kg. fragmentation bombs
Russian rocket batteries mounted on trucks were destroyed with the greatest effectiveness by strafing attacks. Armored trains and rail-road guns were only successfully bombed with heavy bombs of 250kg. or more.
(c) Vehicles:

Horse drawn and motor vehicles were bombed with 1-70kg. bombs. The same goes for lightly armored vehicles. Tanks could be destroyed with 3, 3.7, and 7.5 cm. cannon, with hollow charge RP, and with 4kg. hollow charge bombs. Bombing with 50-500kg. bombs was not successful because the tanks presented too small a target. Destruction with such bombs was only accomplished if the bomb hit within 15 feet of the tank.

(d) Field fortifications:

Field fortifications of all types could only be attacked with heavy bombs of 250 kg. or more. Attacks on modern prepared fortifications brought no success.

(e) Headquarters:

Parts of towns and houses where headquarters or troops were quartered were attacked with bombs of 250 kg. or larger. Wooden houses, especially with straw roofs, were most practically ignited with incendiary ammunition.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 10 Jan 2022 00:35

On coordinated air-ground attacks:
a) Concentrated attack:

For the conduct of a concentrated attack, ground attack units were combined. They were operated at a determined time against clearly defined targets. The time for beginning and ending the attack was ordered to the minute. Forces used were apportioned according to the size and type of the target.

Concentrated attacks were primarily flown in direct support of the army, usually just before the beginning of a ground offensive (like infantry preparation) as a surprise measure. Therefore the duration and time of the attack was determined by the army. Concentrated attacks were flown with bombs and with strafing by ground attack units. The mission was to destroy the enemy or to injure his morale so that after that the ground troops would have little or no defense to contend with.

This was only possible when the Army, immediately after the concentrated attack from the air, took advantage of its effect by launching an attack of its own. Similarly such concentrated attacks make easier the disengaging movements of friendly troops.

Secondly, concentrated attacks were ordered not for direct army support, but as indirect support against special targets which appeared, like heavily occupied airfields, RR stations, troops unloading, and so on. An attack carried through with the element of surprise increased the effect considerably.

From the command side, concentrated attacks were carefully thought out and planned using target photos and photo maps on which the smallest targets were recognizable as well as large scale maps and other necessary documents. Of special importance was the choice of bombs and fuses. Even though this was primarily the business of the flying units themselves, it was worthwhile in some cases that the command organizations insured that the right measures were taken, so that a carefully prepared attack did not become a fiasco because of bad choice of bombs and fuses.

 

b) Rolling attack:

Rolling attacks serve as continuous support for ground operations in progress. The targets to be attacked were clearly ordered, or small target areas were determined, in which every recognized enemy was to be destroyed. For this purpose, formations of Staffel size or larger were used. In these rolling attacks it was sought by the quickest possible use of formations to paralyze every movement of enemy troops against friendly troops and to destroy every enemy concentration of forces. The time of attack was therefore not strictly laid down. Short operational readiness, short time of flight into the battle area, and occasionally the diversion of a formation already in the air were possibilities for rapid conduct of missions. Only at the beginning of a ground offensive could the times of attacks be closely fixed. Bomb loading was usually finished before the operational order was received and was according to the types of targets expected. The decisive goal was to destroy the enemy as quickly as possible, before he had the chance, by dispersing and camouflage, to protect himself against air attack or to become effective against friendly troops.

c) Free Sweep attacks:

Free sweep attacks were usually carried out in the course of flowing ground combat. The objectives of free sweep attacks were broad and bold, like continuous support of a tank spearhead or flank cover for a break through wedge. In practice free sweep attacks were a kind of hunting of individual targets, which was to accomplish a suppression of the enemy and at the same time insure a continual watch over the enemy. If, in the course of the engagement, stronger enemy forces appeared on the ground which could only be successfully combatted with more air forces, additional forces were thrown into the free sweep attack.

Free sweep attacks were flown by small units (Rotte up to Staffel) which was only possible in cases of friendly air superiority. By close cooperation with ground attack control stations or by control from forward headquarters the immediate combatting of enemy targets which appeared and the keeping down of enemy resistance were possible.

The choice of targets always remains up to the formation leader. The formation leader must have good tactical knowledge in order to attack at the right place on the battlefield. By good cooperation with the ground attack control stations, the conduct of his mission was made much easier. Bomb loading was usually mixed according to the types of targets expected.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 10 Jan 2022 00:57

Operational Principles of Anti-Tank Ground Attack Operations.

Missions for anti-tank units were flown only on special centers of resistance on the front, and long rest periods repeatedly arose for them. Anti-tank flying units with their special weapons were used against tanks and armored vehicles which had broken through. For use against tank assembly areas they were not suitable, because these areas were usually heavily protected with A.A. In pursuit, their use against parts of split up tank units was good.

For operations of anti-tank units, ground and air defense were specially considered, but weather conditions were of less importance. Even in very bad weather with very low ceiling anti-tank units could carry out effective and successful raids.

Because of the mobility of tanks, finding them in a short space of time was often hard. Especially in fluid situations, exact reports and locations about the appearance of tanks were seldom available. The operations of antitank units therefore usually took place like a free sweep attack, in which the aircraft first had to find the tanks in a large target area. Therefore, training in recognition of tanks was especially important for the anti-tank flyers.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 10 Jan 2022 05:00

Operational Possibilities for Ground Attack Units in Various Phases of Ground Combat Movements.

1. Preparation for an attack.

2. Attack.

3. Breakthrough and pursuit.

4. Defense.

5. Retreat and defense against enemy breakthroughs.

 

1. Preparations for Attack:

For preparation of a large ground offensive, ground attack units were employed in a planned manner against such targets as were found by aerial reconnaissance and which could considerably hinder the attack planned. In case the army offensive was to be a surprise, the operations of ground attack units must be omitted in order not to attract the enemy’s attention too soon.

Such attacks launched in support of a planned offensive were usually flown against targets deep in the tactical zone, such as, for example, heavy artillery, important bridges, enemy supply organizations. Attacks against air force installations belong in this class.

At night, to ease friendly preparations and deployments for attack, rolling missions could be flown against enemy artillery, and at the same time the noise of friendly tanks moving up into position could be drowned out. Furthermore, enemy supply centers, like RR stations and villages, could be attacked in concentrated attacks, especially if the A.A. defense by day were too strong.

2) Attacks:

Immediately before the beginning of an attack, missions were flown against everything which could hinder the friendly advance directly. Targets were the enemy troops in the field and other fortifications, strong points, heavy weapons, headquarters, and signals facilities. At the dropping of the last bombs on the forward enemy positions, the friendly troops began their attack.

Directly after the beginning of the attack and during the progress of the attack the following missions took place:

a) Rolling attacks against determined targets, especially effective enemy artillery and reserves coming up.

b) Free sweep missions against all such targets as might hinder the fluid continuance of the battle. Such targets were MG nests, new enemy artillery positions, single tanks, and so on. Purpose of such attacks was to hold down the enemy and to destroy pockets of resistance so that friendly forces could continually go forward. Movement on the battlefield must be made impossible for the enemy. At the same time, the flanks of friendly attacking forces were covered.

At night, concentrated attacks could be flown by night attack units against the enemy assembly areas which were recognized by day reconnaissance. Friendly ground operations at night could well be continually supported by night attack units in cooperation with ground control stations, the aircraft flying in Rotten or Schwärme.

3) Break-through and Pursuit:

In break-throughs and in pursuit of enemy forces, the rolling attack was more important. Especially retreating troop columns, strong points still holding out, approaching reserves, and massed troops at defiles were good targets. The more the battle became one of pursuit, the more the free sweep attack took precedence. In such cases the retreating enemy was attacked especially in restricted areas, where his retreat reached a bottle neck. All other targets which held up the pursuit or threatened from the flanks were destroyed.

In such situations, the anti-tank flying units had a great number of successful missions, because the enemy tank forces were split up, the A.A. defense was weakened, and furthermore, enemy air opposition was weakened because of the necessity of the retreat of enemy airfields.

At night the main effort was made against recognized forward or rearward movements simply to harrass the enemy.

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Re: Operation Citadel cancelled in late June

Post by Cult Icon » 10 Jan 2022 20:05

Comments on locomotive attacks means that only the HS-129 and the Stuka G (or D with double 37mm guns) were suitable. The Soviets also armored their locomotives.
(h) Railroad bombing: This was a worthy target for ground attack units, especially during the movement of troops in the tactical area. Main points of attack were tracks in and out of stations, and easily blocked sections like bridges and cuts. Attacks on open stretches of track and on unoccupied stations brought no lasting effect. Most practical for these purposes were bombs of 250 kg. and more. Trains in motion were wrecked with heavy bombs and the troops streaming out of them were strafed and bombed with small fragmentation bombs.

Special locomotive-busting missions were especially satisfactory in areas where repair facilities were meager. For destruction of the locomotives, hits with cannon of 3 cm. caliber or greater or with RPs sufficed. Hits with smaller weapons or with bomb fragments only damaged the locomotives, but even this was evidently a great handicap in areas lacking repair facilities.
A lot of airfields were constructed in the Orel region for 1st Flieger-division prior to Citadel.
G. Mobility and Transfer Organization.

In advance and in retreats the ground attack units lay closer to the front than any other flying units, because of the short ranges of ground attack aircraft and because of the desire to keep high the number of sorties flown by cutting down on the distance flown. In wars of movement, transfers were quite usual. Ground attack units were transferred sometimes on the ground and sometimes in transport aircraft. Complete mobility of the ground personnel and equipment was insured by giving them enough trucks. All ground equipment except that of the motorized repair platoon could be transferred by air. Therefore the ground attack units had in addition to the motorized repair platoon, a flying repair platoon, with equipment that could easily be loaded into transport aircraft. Because of the small amount of air transport space allotted to the various commands, the flying units were allowed only enough space to transport their key personnel. Since these transfers often took place over long distances and were usually intended by the high commands only to last for a few days, the result was that the flying units often had to carry on operations with only their key personnel and serviceability accordingly dropped greatly.

The demand of two transport aircraft for every Gruppe was recognized as justified but could nevertheless not be fulfilled because of the general lack of transport aircraft.

The equipping of ground attack units was in general such that they could with their own personnel and equipment without any support from ground units, except the bringing of bombs and fuel to the airfields, guarantee full serviceability and at the same time maintain an advance or rear party at some other airfield. For transfers over long distances, external tanks had to be given to ground attack units to keep them from having to make constant intermediate landings.

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