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Subject: German "quality" in Russia rss

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Henning Nagel
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Hello all,


David started an interesting Discussion about the "Quality" of the German Army on the Eastern Front in the TSWW Yahoo Group. In this Context "Quality" means Leadership, Training, Doctrine, Communication, Morale and other "soft" Factors.
In TSWW the Unit Ratings of Attack or Defensive Strength represent the combined raw Combat Strength of all military Equipment, like Rifles, Tanks etc., in that Unit in accordance with the Models of Colonel Trevor N. Dupuy (http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/tndm.htm). The mentioned "soft" Factors are represented by the national Combat Efficiency Variable (CEV). The CEV effects the Gameplay as Modifier to the Attack or Defensive Strength.

I found the Discussion interesting enough to copy it to this Forum.


David:

Have been reading 'Viking Panzer' a recent (2011) translation of the history of the 5th SS Panzer Regiment. In passing a much, much better account than the usual self-serving, 'we always won' unit histories that are so common. But the relevance here is to some of John Bannerman's comments earlier on this site on the varying quality of German performance. Lots of stuff but just picking out:

There are incredible (at least to my eyes used to the CW) fluctuations in tank/assault gun strength - especially as one is always taught about the high efficiency of German repair units. And (as I think others have suggested) this became a major issue during any retreats - he cites the fallback from the Caucasus in early 1943 when in just one incident 50,000 winter uniforms were burnt and some 100 tanks blown-up; to no purpose as even the main force, let alone its rearguard was still many miles away. Now comparable figures could be cited for the CW in North Africa, especially in the months after Gazala, but in that case as soon as a tank regiment reached Egypt it could be almost instantly re-equipped, which was rarely true of the Germans.

Movement - typical rail journeys seem to have averaged 10kph, not really surprising, but what was to me was the effect of the Russian night-harassment, forcing units to normally march without lights.

Capability - the author (and there may be bias here) is disparaging on the German command capability once Germany went on the defensive. Especially on the inability of infantry division and regiment commanders to handle any attached tank, assault-gun and heavy anti-tank detachments. He suspects that this was due to the acute shortage of armor commanders and the massive expansion of panzer formations, meaning that no experts were available to instruct at the various officer and command training centers. In contrast he has high praise for the Russian artillery and anti-tank tactics - which on several occasions brought Wiking to a battered stop.

And to finish (and only one-half through the book) was fascinated to find that he blames von Manstein for the failure to relieve Stalingrad, due to his tendency to bounce formations around - in this case 6th Panzer forced to relocate 100 miles (which of course meant loss of equipment) just as it had broken through the enemy lines. Not sure it is true - but interesting that this SS officer gives the highest of praise to Wehrmacht panzer divisions and their commanders.
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Henning Nagel
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John Bannerman:


Hi All

This is very interesting.


I have several sources now that talk about tank strengths in snapshot for German armoured units. An example that may be interesting – the entirety of one panzer korps during July, August and September 1941 (in 2 PzA) never had more than 50 gun tanks available day to day. A gun tank is anything with a 37mm or better gun. They did however have upto 100 Pzkw I (so much for those being removed from units prior to Barbarossa) and Pzkw II types (tankettes in Soviet parlance).

The panzer divisions in question were 3rd and 4th.

In short both units fought the remainder of the campaign as little more than a kampfgruppe - with less power than a single panzer division, or maybe even from the dead pool.

Even more fascinating was the discussion on infantry assets in the Panzer units – these after the July-Sept battle of Smolensk and other related operations were usually between 30 and 70% strength, thus apparently severely limiting the efficacy of the units – more so than the shortage of panzers.

To further amplify David’s comments, I am aware that these units had on hand not less than 90% of their paper strength – but the vast majority of the vehicles were “under repair” whether that was at the front (achieved in 1941 by cannibalisation of parts due to a critical parts shortage in all panzer units) or at the factory.... During Kursk (and I have more or less day by day returns for this battle) the Germans lost very few AFVs destroyed – but many (usually 75% of the available tanks on hand in heavy btns, and between 33 and 75% of the balance) were under short or long term repair by the termination of the operation.

This remained the case until the rear area workshops at Orel, Belgorod and Kharkov were abandoned. At that point “on hand” armour falls through the floor – with units that a day before claimed 100-150 AFV suddenly dropping to 10-40 AFV on hand (which presumably would be the totals actually available as runners on that day).

This sudden loss of AFVs was absolutely irreplaceable in the short term from what I can see – and was very difficult to deal with for the German units. I have also read a LOT about the impact of Soviet AT defences – which were developed during the Battle of Smolensk by 16th Army, which effectively destroyed 7th Pz Div in 3 days of fighting – using dug in guns, interlocked with medium artillery and minefields (sounds reminiscent of some other place) to mire this unit (which had 80-100 runners on day one, and 10-30 by the end of the operation) in really nasty fire traps.

Later on this was common place – and you can see many German counter attacks stymied by Soviet firepower, carefully sited, and superbly employed. CEV is very difficult in the East to determine – a German Panzer division in 1941-3 is probably a 5-7 CEV. The Soviets however are not a 0.75 for most of the time – and the German army is not only panzer based. Indeed the criticism David mentions of infantry commanders and the PBI (poor bloody infantry) commences during September 1941 and only gets worse. Admittedly its pretty tough on the PBI when the bad guy has a T34 and you have a 37mm pop gun that cannot penetrate the T34...


Regards

John Bannerman
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Henning Nagel
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Ivan:

Counting guns, bullets, and warm bodies is all fine, assuming they are correct, but this begs the question of how the war lasted as long as it did. If all the "quartermaster" facts and figures are to be believed, then 100s of miles of the Eastern Front were defended by 10 soldaten with a single Marder I, and they had no gas, little food, and 5 rounds of ammo apiece.

Soooo, were the allies even more stupid and inept than the axis? Application of the scientific method requires you to have a supportable hypothesis to account for all this. As students of history, we know the ultimate conclusion of WWII. We therefore need to only plug in the correct numbers for our variables to achieve the known solution to the equation. Personally, I am pretty skeptical of nearly ALL sources because very few people have no axe to grind whatsoever, but especially when the posited "facts" would lead to wild divergence from what we know happened in a broad sense. In other words, if you know that X+Y=20, if you are to accept the suggestion that the value for X is 50, then Y better be -30 for that equation to work. Therefore, what are the countervailing factors which kept the axis in the war till 1945? Were the allies in even worse supply shape? Were the allies even worse off for replacements in men and material than we realize? Were the officers and command structures more inept than we think? Was the morale of the common soldier far worse than we anticipated? Were axis replacements higher than we thought to match losses, but those numbers held down "officially" to hide the slaughter from the public? If you can't answer that, then you should be wary of relying too strongly on the first variable suggestion.

When dealing with multiple totalitarian regimes, and Western Democracies engaging in heavy propaganda and censorship, the truth can be hard to come by. Bottom line, your game system should play out historicaly, on average, and all other things being equal. If the Soviets can easily raise the Red Banner over the Reichstag in 42 or 43, then you have done something seriously wrong in your game design, regardless of what your "sources" say.

Ivan
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hn110 wrote:
Ivan:

Counting guns, bullets, and warm bodies is all fine, assuming they are correct, but this begs the question of how the war lasted as long as it did. If all the "quartermaster" facts and figures are to be believed, then 100s of miles of the Eastern Front were defended by 10 soldaten with a single Marder I, and they had no gas, little food, and 5 rounds of ammo apiece.

Soooo, were the allies even more stupid and inept than the axis? Application of the scientific method requires you to have a supportable hypothesis to account for all this. As students of history, we know the ultimate conclusion of WWII. We therefore need to only plug in the correct numbers for our variables to achieve the known solution to the equation. Personally, I am pretty skeptical of nearly ALL sources because very few people have no axe to grind whatsoever, but especially when the posited "facts" would lead to wild divergence from what we know happened in a broad sense. In other words, if you know that X+Y=20, if you are to accept the suggestion that the value for X is 50, then Y better be -30 for that equation to work. Therefore, what are the countervailing factors which kept the axis in the war till 1945? Were the allies in even worse supply shape? Were the allies even worse off for replacements in men and material than we realize? Were the officers and command structures more inept than we think? Was the morale of the common soldier far worse than we anticipated? Were axis replacements higher than we thought to match losses, but those numbers held down "officially" to hide the slaughter from the public? If you can't answer that, then you should be wary of relying too strongly on the first variable suggestion.

When dealing with multiple totalitarian regimes, and Western Democracies engaging in heavy propaganda and censorship, the truth can be hard to come by. Bottom line, your game system should play out historicaly, on average, and all other things being equal. If the Soviets can easily raise the Red Banner over the Reichstag in 42 or 43, then you have done something seriously wrong in your game design, regardless of what your "sources" say.

Ivan


David Hughes:

All that I can suggest to explain the conundrum you put forward is that the Germans were perfectly capable of checking all but the most serious and sustained attacks with what seem to be a ludicrously weak force. Perhaps this is a function of modern, high quality weaponry deployed (for the most part) in utterly open terrain. In that sense it is no different from multiple events in World War One when an entrenched enemy of far inferior force could fight off much, much large forces and inflict disastrous losses. I keep thinking of the (unlike the Eastern Front) of very well documented examples from both the Western (eg Goodwood) or Italian Fronts (eg Salerno). And of course there are examples of the Russians doing the same (as I mentioned the Wiking book cites German attacks held up by little more than artillery and anti-tank concentrations).

On the other hand, once that open-field defence line was broken (usually in Russia by massed artillery and armour) the situation changed drastically and numbers then really mattered. Now how that converts into game terms I do not know, though it does support John's contention that German division competence dwindled and equipment supply fell apart on sustained retreat.

On the other hand I am beginning to wonder about his assumption/assertion that the German Army was in serious trouble from 1942/43 on because of the shortage of fuel. I can still find nothing that suggests that such shortages were affecting front line units, unless perhaps by implication, because of the problems of maintaining an extended supply line. Yet that too appears to have been (generalizing like crazy) largely the result of inadequate truck and rail stocks. Yes - by late 1944 this was an issue in some areas(although again the only documented case I know of is the Bulge), but not perhaps earlier and not universally.

David
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Fabio:

Im my opinion all belligerants had serious difficulties at small units and operational kampfgruppe operations. It was less important numebers of tank than the way Germans were using them. Like in France 40, also in Russia, Pz I and II had tremendous impact if their mobility is properly employed.
Soviets lost their trained infantry in August 41, so from September on their infantry units had really inferior efficiency. Also armor and other branch of army followed same pattern of unlearning. Germans with inferior equipment in numbers and quality got great victories until weather put down their mobility and iniziative.

With this view of facts, small numebr of tanks due to losses is of less importance than mobility for Germans.

All this is treated in articles from S&T 27, 30, 36, 41, 46, 57 only to remember some short reading.


Fabio
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hn110 wrote:
John Bannerman:


I have several sources now that talk about tank strengths in snapshot for German armoured units. An example that may be interesting – the entirety of one panzer korps during July, August and September 1941 (in 2 PzA) never had more than 50 gun tanks available day to day. A gun tank is anything with a 37mm or better gun. They did however have upto 100 Pzkw I (so much for those being removed from units prior to Barbarossa) and Pzkw II types (tankettes in Soviet parlance).


Bennie Kloosteman:

John be very carefull on this information .. . When Guderian spoke to Hitler about having to prepare for Moscow he stated he had 30% of his armour ...and this was in all the records.. When Hitler "convinced/ ordered him to go south he was at 70% in just 3 days , What that 500 tanks bank in 3 days ..... This is the head of Pz gruppe2 which to me means all those figures are suspicious. and while we have a love for hard facts i would put far more weight in the self serving diaries and battle reports from both sides... I think german commanders cheated to get more supplies , replacements etc.so those figures of under repair are not real...
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hn110 wrote:
Ivan:

Counting guns, bullets, and warm bodies is all fine, assuming they are correct, but this begs the question of how the war lasted as long as it did. If all the "quartermaster" facts and figures are to be believed, then 100s of miles of the Eastern Front were defended by 10 soldaten with a single Marder I, and they had no gas, little food, and 5 rounds of ammo apiece.


Bennie Kloosteman:

agree i think the official figures except for KIA are unreliable and useless from most countries - so i would just use KIA figures . Obviously the germans themselves didnt even believe the numbers .. and the Pz Corps miraculously increased in strength by over 100% when needed. Canabalizing is one thign and done by all countires but this is something else.
 
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Chaos 45:

Interesting talking point, I have done alot of reading on the Eastern front as well and litterally just finished reading the Divisional histories of the 3rd and 23rd Panzer Divisions. Was interesting as both fought alot of the war on the souther portion of the eastern front and both are mentioned some in their histories.

As to tank Strength it does appear that often German units were very low in tank strength but used them to pretty much 100+% capability what they did have. For instance the 3rd Panzer division talks abouth using their few runners on almost a continuous bases by hotseating the tanks with new crews and new leadership on a shift basis during some operations.

Basically they had a shortage of tanks but an excess of trained tank crews and leadership. So those few tanks were in effect multiplied by almost always being ready for action if they were runners. This is how during 1942/1943 they managed to stop alot of major Russian attacks on their lines. Also leadership and experience are a major factor in their combat performance. You can tell as you read the history when they lose key leaders the units those leaders come from seem to lose combat ability. Is a period when the history is talking about the panzerjager battalion and how effective it was when kampfgrupped with the panzergrenadiers under the leadership of the commander a Major. Then in fighting in hungary the commander is killed and shortly after that the panzerjagers are disbanaded and integrated into other divisional units.

Another thing to mention is that most panzer divisions under went several battlefield re-constructions and this appeared to quickly bring them about up to around 80%+ combat strength. As it allowed time for repairs to catch up and new vehicles to be brought in. Not to mention the proper processing of replacements with assignmend to units and training/integration of those replacements. Practically all of the 3rd panzer divisions re-building took place on the eastern front. They would get pulled out of the line for a month or two to rebuild and then sent back in.

From reading the history these rebuildings in theatre didnt appear to negatively effect the formation to much until the super heavy losses of 44/45. You can really tell that by 44/45 the division is still a reliable unit but greatly attrited. Esp by the time of its final fights in hungary and then into Germany. The unit actually does quite well in Poland in 44 but that is more or less the Divisions last true offensive spirit. As the losses are high and by the time its move to Hungary its not as effective a unit anymore.

You can also tell about the Soviets fighting ability by reading both histories. More or less the Soviets fought hard but took atrocious losses in 41/42/43. It wasnt until after Kursk that you really hear the histories talking about effective soviet anti-tank defenses stopping or greatly attriting German tank assaults. So for CEV it would really seem that MID 43 is the real turning point on the eastern front.

As to the German infantry from most of what Ive read if backed by sufficient tanks/antitank forces they gave a good account of themselves. The key issue being that when faced with Soviet tank attacks the infantry divisions just werent mobile nor had enough firepower on hand to stop them. Thus esp from 43 on whey the panzer divisions were constantly moving to counterattack and shore up German infantry formations. However soviet infantry is constantly suffering high losses even when supported by armor.

So perhaps instead of a total Soviet CEV maybe Soviet armor needs the CEV change while the Soviet infantry stays low? Then again some German units were of very low quality, the luftwaffe divisions and even some of the late 42/early 43 divisions that were sent east. Those units were considered of low value by even the Germans. Even a couple of the infantry divisions that were sent in Mid 42 werent considered good units. Its tough trying to lump these massive armies under 1 unifying number effect.
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hn110 wrote:
Ivan:

Counting guns, bullets, and warm bodies is all fine, assuming they are correct, but this begs the question of how the war lasted as long as it did. If all the "quartermaster" facts and figures are to be believed, then 100s of miles of the Eastern Front were defended by 10 soldaten with a single Marder I, and they had no gas, little food, and 5 rounds of ammo apiece.

Soooo, were the allies even more stupid and inept than the axis? Application of the scientific method requires you to have a supportable hypothesis to account for all this. As students of history, we know the ultimate conclusion of WWII. We therefore need to only plug in the correct numbers for our variables to achieve the known solution to the equation. Personally, I am pretty skeptical of nearly ALL sources because very few people have no axe to grind whatsoever, but especially when the posited "facts" would lead to wild divergence from what we know happened in a broad sense. In other words, if you know that X+Y=20, if you are to accept the suggestion that the value for X is 50, then Y better be -30 for that equation to work. Therefore, what are the countervailing factors which kept the axis in the war till 1945? Were the allies in even worse supply shape? Were the allies even worse off for replacements in men and material than we realize? Were the officers and command structures more inept than we think? Was the morale of the common soldier far worse than we anticipated? Were axis replacements higher than we thought to match losses, but those numbers held down "officially" to hide the slaughter from the public? If you can't answer that, then you should be wary of relying too strongly on the first variable suggestion.

When dealing with multiple totalitarian regimes, and Western Democracies engaging in heavy propaganda and censorship, the truth can be hard to come by. Bottom line, your game system should play out historicaly, on average, and all other things being equal. If the Soviets can easily raise the Red Banner over the Reichstag in 42 or 43, then you have done something seriously wrong in your game design, regardless of what your "sources" say.

Ivan


Ron Shown:

What you said is Oh so true!! And of course on the other hand if the Axis forces are able to take Moscow in Oct of '41, we also have a problem.

Now this begs another question: If we know that the game will play out to a historical conclusion based on historical results, then what is the point of the game?

What the model needs to be (in my humble opinion) is to take all of the elements of that war - the beans, bullets and black oil - the personnel - quality, replacements, production, resources, weather, foibles of the crackpot leaders (both politically and military) and everything else - and mix it in a pot, and have it controlled by our own individual concepts and goals and vision, you might have a meaningful game. I have pressed for a long time to have some form of "political reaction or political event" mixed into the game to create an unknown set of events. I am more interested in seeing what would happen if Germany decided not to invade the USSR until May of '42, or if (politically possible through a series of events) GB deciding to opt out of the war by declaring neutrality, or France skipping the Maginot Line in stead for a more modern army of maneuver, or early mobilization of the USA, or Japan defeating the Russians in Mongolia in '39, or the US Fleet having two or three carriers present at Pearl Harbor which sortie with their surface battle fleet to meet the Japanese Fast Carrier Strike Force, or Poland allied with Germany, or no Winter war in Finland in '39, or no Soviet elimination of their senior officer corps, and so on.

I would have the game so tight in historical probabilities for a historical conclusion if played historically, so that these what-ifs would be more meaningful. This would in effect become more of a "General Staff" study on alternative possibilities than a repeat of the Second World War.

I have seen too many ahistorical results happen in war games - not from poor die rolls, but from abysmal play (one opponent know the rules better than the other person) or a rules lawyer is able to bend the rules to achieve an ahistorical outcome and totally skew the game?

Match players with similar skill sets in a game that has historical parameters and on the bell curve you should achieve predictable results. Throw in the variables I mentioned above and you'd have a real game.

Ron Shown
 
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hn110 wrote:
Chaos 45:

As to tank Strength it does appear that often German units were very low in tank strength but used them to pretty much 100+% capability what they did have. For instance the 3rd Panzer division talks abouth using their few runners on almost a continuous bases by hotseating the tanks with new crews and new leadership on a shift basis during some operations.


Bennie Kloosteman:

Thats part of Guderians reforms all tanks had 2 crews... Part of the reason is they can run at night and have a fresh crew in the morning .. another reason is they expected 50% tank losses tthat was part of the strategy , a huge strategic battle with losses at a key point , win the ground then repair the tank and use a new crew... note the large amount of recovery and other vehicles compared to other nations early in the war .

The frequent use greater than 100% book value is just that ... the book values were manipulated ..except for the kIA figures . If your a comander , wouldnt you ensure you had the lowest possible repairs so your men got the parts they needed ?
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John Bannerman:

Hi Guys

As ever the “Germany was great” issue has arisen.


Firstly, please let me point out some hard facts:



1. The German Army lost major engagements in 1940 (the utter failure to break the right flank of the BEF PRIOR to the “stop” order from OKW/OKH, and the costly failure to break the Dyle line. I can also talk about the failure of the Germans to break the defences of the French Army North and East of these positions as well), 41 (Battle of Smolensk, Battle of Moscow, Rostov, Crusader), 42 (Operations Saturn Uranus and their spin offs, while winning dramatic victories elsewhere – the most crucial being against Operation Mars), 43 (most every major operation in the south of the USSR, the collapse in North Africa, and the series of failed attempts to stop fairly small Western Allied invasion forces), 44 (With the exception of the initial Iassy-Bucharest offensive, all operations, although tactical successes did occur), 45 Erm... everywhere, and with the exception of Japan suffered the most devastating military defeat in modern history. This is a documented fact.

2. Tactically, the German Army from 1939-42 was arguably the most capable on the planet, outstripping its opposition due to excellent training, particularly in the mobile and air droppable assets. Allied to strong doctrine and the excellence of its operational commanders (Corps, Army, and Theatre level) in terms of achieving what they perceived as their missions, created a military machine that managed to gain control of enemy forces that had measurable flaws – in the case of the French Army morale and a weak CCC system, in the case of the British, a habit (excepting the BEF) of fighting as brigade groups not divisions, and in the case of the Soviets an army that had been politically decapitated, and was lacking in training or cohesion.

3. TSWW is an operational level game. What that means is simple – I DO NOT PROVIDE SIMULATION ABOVE DIVISION/CORPS LEVEL. YOU THE PLAYER are the THEATRE, ARMY, commanders – so you need to use the game system to show how the units operate effectively in proper groupings. To that end, historically the Germans were adept at massing firepower on the offensive in the right proportions at a point that they perceived as decisive. The Schwerpunkt was the key element of their doctrine – put it all at one point, and smash the opponent, driving deep into his rear quicker than the enemy can react to plug the gaps. This doctrine worked tremendously well in 1939-41 in western and southern Europe, but effectively was defeated in depth by the USSR – partly due to the tremendous distances (multiples of the initial operations) and by the Red Army’s almost incredible level of resistance. Yes, many soviet men surrendered and in rare instances entire soviet units defected, but in general, the Red Army fought and died with its boots (or socks) on. The brutal demands by STAVKA for offensive response to the German invasion actually led to a mixed bag of operations – the repeated losses in vast numbers of men in the big publicised encirlement operations was actually matched by failed or limited results elsewhere. At the same time, operations in the depths with mechanised assets actually created circumstances where the German mobile assets did jobs for which they were not optimised – and paid a penalty thereof. The German infantry was little better equipped or capable than its WW1 counterpart – and paid enormous costs for the inability of the Germans to produce sufficient transport and or fuel to motorise it.

4. Supply/Logistics. According to data I have, as of October 1941, the German Army in the East was operating on 75% of requirement for fuel. As of July 1941, it was operating on a “pause, move, pause, move” basis as the logistical support plans fell apart under the reality of operations in the depth of the USSR – a space which while often adequate for manoeuvre was actually miserably supplied with roads (those that exist are often tracks) and supplied with a weak rail infrastructure (by this the guage is “wrong” for the Germans, the loading guage is different thus limiting the use of certain types of rolling stock even when re-guaged, and light (this means that the track bed, track, servicing equipment etc was not always capable of coping with heavy rolling stock). In short the combination of losses (at least 50% of combat troops by September 1941) and the “stop start” nature of German operations, plus the comparative weakness of the opposition in large part due to similar issues meant that the Germans could and did operate with some success later in the 1941-2 period. I agree that when pushed into combat mobile formations usually got fuel – but the data I have seen implies that this was due to draconian rationing, the extreme use of local railheads (ie the Germans put their supplies nearer the front via rail than any other army), and the fact that many German “motorised” units by 1942 were that only in name. Their rear area services often dissolved into a mixed format – with carts, horses and manpower substituting to some extent for the “organisational” motorised services. That reduces demand for fuel to move supply, thus freeing up some more for combat assets. Ammunition was also limited by Western Allied concepts but remained plentiful in comparison to the Soviets during periods of 1941-42. That tended to change dramatically as the war went on – but the shortage of weapons in German units meant that all too often they had adequate munitions.

5. Force Structure. I comment on a lack of weapons – this is relative. They are well equipped in relation to the Red Army in some ways, they are superbly equipped in relation to their allies (Italy, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia), they have dramatic increases in AT, Mortar, AA, and automatic weapons provision over time, and they, despite significant manpower shortages, proved adept at getting manpower into the “teeth” of the units that they had. That means that although the units in the German Army are weaker in terms of total weapons (for example) than a comparable US or British unit, when you look at the weapon TYPES they tend to partially (or completely) offset that in specific circumstances. For Example, the Fjgr Divisions at Monte Cassino and its environs may not have a huge Artillery Regiment – but they have massive quantities of automatic weapons, large volumes of Mortars, and a decent AT Btn – thus giving them a combat value of about 8 on the defensive and 7 on the attack. If we dig that unit in on a level 4 fortification, add on terrain modifiers, and then modify for CEV, and then attack it, that unit is worth dramatically more than the attacking 21-24 strength British Division – which is how it should be.

6. TSWW shows:

a. CEV: An AVERAGE tactical advantage for one side over another. The key here is AVERAGE. I accept that a 1.5 CEV for (say) the 1st Pz Div in 1941 is too low – but it IS correct when I consider that the 161 Inf XX is most likely a 0.5 or 0.75 CEV (this unit really failed badly in its missions in the Smolensk area, and was according to 9th Army HQ “destroyed as a combat unit in less than 2 weeks). If we took those two divisions in isolation, a CEV of 5 for the Panzer division is offset by a CEV of 0.5 (say) for the infantry division – hence the immediate CEV would be 0.5 x 5 = 2.5. When we then add in other assets and the units fall to about 1.5.

b. Movement. This covers 2 areas – we provide more mobility than other games, and we provide tactical effects resultant from this (concentric attacks, optional going, TEC etc)

c. Weapon types. These are shown as effects which when used correctly modify combat dramatically.

d. Command Control. Corps and Army HQs – liberally supplied to the Axis/Western armies, less so to the less capable forces (like the Red Army).

e. Logistics. This is a limiting factor and is intentionally such. It makes you the player deploy supplies and resources where you need it (or you can try to do so). This is accurate on AVERAGE but not in detail at the lowest levels. I do not intend plugging in a set of rules to do this more accurately as it would be in my view unplayable.

f. Fortifications. These really impact mobility in combat, and affect the formations strength – in short this helps show the documented fact that the attacker against a dug in opponent (even a relatively weak one) takes significantly more (usually 4 times) losses in his teeth units than do the defender. This will be crucial for the German player to use effectively on the Soviet front.

g. Air Power. This provides flying artillery, CEV impact, movement reduction, can reduce production, modify combat via a DRM etc.

h. Terrain. Defend in decent terrain for the defence and you can thin out the line – thus reinforcing weaker areas. Too bad the Steppe is open – but that is the same thing that was the case historically.

i. Naval power can be used to increase combat power where you have the resources (a trick commonly used by the British and USA).

j. ZOI. These really are a game effect – and permit much more hermetically sealed pockets than the Germans were able to create.

k. Artillery HQs can modify CEV and or stacking thus increasing power at the decisive point.

l. Stacking permits something close to historical force structure in most if not all hexes. It does (and I admit this) not fully show the Red Army’s ability to pile stuff into a hex, but that is being worked on.

m. Optional Fog of War – can show the impact of recce and related assets – again provision of these assets and or denial of them to the enemy makes a difference.

So what am I getting at? The German soldier is made about 50% better on average than the Soviet soldier. Note that losses at Smolensk (for example) are 2-3:1 in favour of the Germans on average, and 4-10:1 in specific circumstances. That is generally matched by the concept of the attacker losing more than the defender that is built into the game, and the reality that:

1. The Germans operated from prepared defensive positions.

2. The Soviets attacked almost constantly – and their devastating defeat on the southern and northern flanks was largely caused by undetected redeployment of mobile forces into those areas, and the German Schwerepunkt hammering into units configured for, and often in the midst of their own attacks.

3. Soviet troops were normally not provided with their full complement of weapons, frequently had zero training, usually had limited training, and often were commanded by men with limited experience and training, whilst the German Army had unit cohesion, training, and generally significant experience.

4. The Soviet army was short on supply – as were the Germans (see note above).

5. Air power on the Soviet side was inadequate in strength usually over the key axes of operations, while the Germans although not significantly greater in numbers had a combination of concentration of resources, and experience on their side.

6. Soviet mobility was largely horse based – as was the German ability HOWEVER, the Germans had a higher percentage of mobile assets in key zones.

7. Operational command by the Germans tended to be better than that of the Soviets – but combat performance of a bunch of untrained Soviets was actually exceptional all things considered. The Germans in effect lost at Smolensk as it took 2-3 months to deal with the mess and then refit their army (to some extent). This operational excellence was not enough to gain a decisive and cheap result.

8. Die rolls – this is “luck” or judgement in historical perspective. The Germans tended to roll high in 1939-41 – they got away with several very risky operations, and also had a fine judgement at multiple levels as to risk analysis. The Soviets did not – and their big gamble (“appeasing Hitler will buy a little more time”) failed spectacularly.

If you examine these points we need to compare them with the game system (each point below coincides with points 1-7 immediately above):

1. Defenses - see point h above.

2. Soviet attacks – see all points above

3. Unit values – this is combat unit ratings. A quick example – 1941 German Infantry division: 12-6, July 1941 Shtat soviet division – 9-6, assuming both are fully equipped, not including CEV. Including CEV, 18-6 Germans against a 9-6 Soviet. Means you need 2 soviet divisions to every German division just to match the forces. You need 6 Soviet divisions to get decent odds against one German unit. The odds are that 50% at least of the Soviet units deploy as 4-5-6 reduced divisions – hence further limiting their power and ability (limited or no ZOI for example).

4. Supply – that’s a design issue, and one which I have not yet concluded.

5. Air power. Size we show, deployment is your decision/problem/opportunity.

6. Mobility – Soviet armour is a 16, German in 1941 is a 20. Infantry is similar. Its in the game based on doctrinal and physical capability.

7. Erm, this is an OPERATIONAL game – thats all on you guys, and is not my problem as the designer! You play, you decide, and then you take the consequences, and that is why I play these games!

8. Die Rolls – we give you 2 of them! Judgement is your task in these games and is part of the decision making process.



So, what we have here is a series of rules, ratings, values, system concepts and so forth that ties quite nicely into the historical facts (provided with thanks to/by Mr D Glantz’s books on the Smolensk battles, used with his permission). We tie in the generalities via the system, we show the impact of tactics via effects and let you take operational decisions within a political framework to try and win for your side.



At a tactical level, which WE DO NOT SHOW the Germans retain some edge until 1944. At the Operational level, the better Soviet commanders matched the Germans in summer 41 through 1942, and started beating the Germans in 1942-3 in depth. The Red Army learned how to fight the Germans, and did so successfully. The GPW games will show this occur – and the Red Army players will have to deal with limits and issues not typical to the German Army (reduced span of command, poorer CEV, mass not quality, logistical constraints of a different type, huge firepower, political requirements to do specific things (not a step back for example) etc) and maintain a viable force. The Germans have an issue – they MUST win quickly – and if not they cannot sustain the cost of the war in terms of personnel and material losses indefinitely. The Germans can in my view win in 1941 – but the Soviet player needs to make more errors than the real players did, and the Germans need to try something a bit different!



I really think “quality” is mostly in the imagination of historians – in the eyes of the guys fighting and dying, the difference was determination. The Soviet Armed forces, for reasons which we can discuss later, were usually motivated and determined to fight – they did fiercely, but not always effectively. This meant that a steady attrition, with often fairly minimal local costs, resulted in massive cumulative, daily losses in the German Army. That loss was generally in teeth assets – not the tail, and as such dramatically reduced combat power. Technical quality was crucial however – and the Germans had that with much better local communications. That qualitative edge is different to the “a German is better than a Commie” sort of rubbish spouted all over the place. The Red Army Soldier fought hard, as did the German one. The German one often had better local equipment, and normally much more or better training. A crucial difference – which made them more effective, until the Soviet bullet hit them. At that point if killed they were just as dead as a Soviet soldier, or were more likely to survive to fight again due to better German medical services.



That may be a qualitative edge in technology, but a German, a Russian, or a Nigerian are all pretty tough when similarly led, equipped and motivated.


Regards



John Bannerman
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hn110 wrote:
[q="hn110"]

Thats part of Guderians reforms all tanks had 2 crews... Part of the reason is they can run at night and have a fresh crew in the morning .. another reason is they expected 50% tank losses tthat was part of the strategy , a huge strategic battle with losses at a key point , win the ground then repair the tank and use a new crew... note the large amount of recovery and other vehicles compared to other nations early in the war .

The frequent use greater than 100% book value is just that ... the book values were manipulated ..except for the kIA figures . If your a comander , wouldnt you ensure you had the lowest possible repairs so your men got the parts they needed ?


David Hughes:

Bennie:

I hate to disagree - but all the reading that I have done suggests that this 'two crew' idea of Guderian is nothing but wishful thinking. Yes - sometimes (and more often as time went by) it happened but this was normally because of the acute shortage of tanks and had nothing to do with this, one of Guderian's more fanciful ideas.

And coupled with this, and after reading John's long post - I think it makes sense in game terms to bring up another issue. The book that I have just finished (Wiking Panzers) made very, very clear a massive disconnect in the 'German is great' argument. Wiking for one, and it was certainly an elite formation (indeed the first SS unit to have an integral tank battalion) was frequently faced with the most bizarre of situations - an excess of highly trained and motivated tank crews and a shortage of tanks. To give just two examples: Two trained tank companies were removed from final combat training (which was in any case flawed by having at one time just ONE training tank) and instead sent to Croatia to perform anti-partisan duties on foot (this around September 1943).

Similarly when two battalions were officially in existence - in practice there were never more than six of the eight companies in the field. The other two (this is a separate pair from those cited above) seem never to have been equipped - and before the obvious question is raised about this being 'normal' as with the long term detachment of a battalion to Germany to convert to Panthers - this was the Mark IV battalion which somehow, unbelievably, never got this old and very common tank type to equip half its strength.

OK - after that screed - why? All that I can suggest is that either:

1) there was extreme inefficiency in the reserve and training commands, which is certainly possible after Fromm was removed in July 1944 and the SS took over. There is some evidence on the lack of armour training and support throughout the war
2) there was a massive disconnect between the needs of the Reich military services and the allocation of production. Notably the excess of aviation and the shortage of armour - hence the bizarre result by 1944 of endless planes and shortage of good flying crews, matched against the lack of tanks and the excess of good tank crews.

I am not sure of the answer - but at least there is some indication of why it was the the German war machine faltered in later years despite its superb military qualities.

David
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Bennie Kloosteman:

David ,

So your saying the 1939 to 1941 Panzer divisions did not have 2 crews ? I dont know if it survived the creation of all those cadres from the intial 3 panzer divs . but pretty sure this was the early doctrine. .


Also how can Wiking be Elite when it started ? Maybe in terms of equipment but the men could not have had much combat experience comming from other countries .


Quote:
2) there was a massive disconnect between the needs of the Reich military services and the allocation of production. Notably the excess of aviation and the shortage of armour - hence the bizarre result by 1944 of endless planes and shortage of good flying crews, matched against the lack of tanks and the excess of good tank crews.


All countries suffered from this .. Australia demobilized , Japan had very few experienced crews .. The Russians lost tons at various times .. The British loss of equipment in France and then begging the US . US lack of trained men compared to equipment especially in 42
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Bennie Kloosteman:

Quote:
As ever the “Germany was great” issue has arisen.


What has this point have to do with Germany is great , sounds awfully defensive to me . As far as im concerned if you follow the official available figures you have many cases of 25 tanks defeating huge ( > 10*) the amount of russian armour on numerous occassions .. that is great ...but i dont think its real. .. .. Simple fact is after the devestating battles in September 2nd Panzer Group was officially at 30% , 3 days later around mid september armour was at 70% of start level for the Kiev operation( and that was before the engines guderian requested arrived) .. If you are using those figures you need to do due dilligence and explain the discrepency. Glanz uses these figures but never explains those discrepancies either...

Personally i would treat any non KIA figure in official reports as suspect ..because as a commanding officer i would fiddle with them to to get more for my men.
 
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David Hughes:

Bernie

I cannot give details on the early Panzers - but am puzzled by this whole issue as it is to say the least an uncommon practice, for the most obvious reasons, in other nations. All I can think of is that this was a 'training' device to give maximum exposure to tanks when they were in short supply.

My definition of 'Elite' is of an unit whose equipment at least matches that of other units of the branch/nation and whose members are either trained volunteers or selected (or culled) from the best available. On both accounts Wiking matches the criteria. Combat experience is a factor of course but the most important issue of the quality and experience of the cadre. A classic example is 12th SS - Elite by any standards but with zero combat capability for some 85% of its men.

David
 
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David Hughes:

Bernie:

My expertise for what it is worth is with the CW but I do agree with you on 'enemy losses', though not for losses in one's own unit. Any CO that fiddled with loss reports would be removed once it was found out. Although to be fair there are two caveats: 'Fiddling' with weapon status and numbers was exceedingly common and the Germans took this to a fine art with their innumerable classifications of damage degree. So I could see a panzer regiment CO saying X tanks are in Long Repair and therefore need replacements when in reality he had 'persuaded' the head of his maintenance section to report this when in fact they could be fixed 'in unit'.

My suspicion is that this was what was happening with 2nd Panzer Group - not that it did them any good since Hitler was keeping replacements in Germany anyway!

The second is the unusual German practice of not declaring all wounded as such if they could be treated 'in battalion' and just rested for recovery. This would allow a CO some latitude but again, since personnel replacements were also short, to gain an edge in future tasking eg "I am fully battle-ready and will lead the divisional attack (and get my Knight's Cross!)"

But again I think the main point is to ignore reports of enemy strength and especially of casualties. And especially, especially of enemy armoured losses. I am always astonished at the way in which one side, having repaired most of its damaged tanks, always assumed that all enemy damaged tanks were total losses/

David
 
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John Bannerman:

Hi Guys

I will not spend a lot of time on this fascinating conversation but:



1. Elite. I look at this as a unit that has either specialist training - for example proper parachute units, high volunteer numbers (the SS Wiking was IIRC almost all mercinaries or volunteers), a seasoned cadre or men with strong morale and desire to fight, and a selection of equipment related issues.

2. Panzer Battalions. On paper these are meant to be 4 x Companies, each company upto 22 AFV (or a little more or less depending on the time of the war). A seriously simple rule of thumb is to divide this by 2. That generally would represent any typical panzer battalion at full combat strength on any given day. This is caused by shortage of equipment, manpower, spares or what ever.

3. Tank Production. German was woeful in this respect. The real problem is not assets or money or raw materials allocated. Its the stupid system of construction which worked as follows:

a. Factory A is a big shed. On the floor are X number of props, on ever 4 props there is one set of plates for the bottom of the tank. This is in (say) Dusseldorf, the Ruhr

b. Factory B is a place where the sides are fabricated. It is in Berlin. The sides are made, put on a train to factory A. If that train is delayed, bombed, or diverted, the tank on the prop does not get sides.

c. Factory C is the place where the turret ring is fabricated. It is in (say) Schweinfurt. The ring is shipped to the factory

d. Factory D is in (say) Hamburg – and makes the road wheels....

e. ETC ETC ETC

So what point 3 means is that a German tank costs more in time, labour, transport, and money than its competitor. Its 3 main competitors are Soviet, US and British – the T34, the Grant/Lee/Sherman, and the Crusader/Cromwell. ALL the allied tanks are made as follows:

a. Factory A is a vast covered stream construction system. Steel is fed in at the start of the process – and a cradle carrying the tank chassis moves slowly forward. As it passes work stations the components are added to the vehicle one bit at a time.

b. Factory B makes the gun – it is railed to the factory OR is actually part of Factory A

c. Factory C makes the bit that carries the bit that does something useful – its actually on the same site as Factory A.

This is called streamed production or production line based operations. What this means is that assuming the raw materials get to plant A, its much quicker, cheaper, less manpower and transport intensive to build the tank. It is more difficult to modify the tank (hence the PzIV starts as Ausf A and ends as Ausf J. The T34 starts as Model A, and ends as Model C (76.2) or T34/85A (85mm). This means that while the German tank gets more modifications at the plant, the Allies make many more tanks – and there is not much in it between a Sherman, Cromwell or T34C in terms of cost, capability etc – and all are better than a Pz IV.



Furthermore, it should be noted that PzIV production was actually cancelled in 1943, reinstated and then run down to less than 50% of potential volume as the Pz V (Panther) was meant to totally replace it. This meant that Panther battalions in 1944-5 remained more or less at 96 Tanks on paper (more normally 48 approx AFV in practice) – but Pz IV btns generally were reduced dramatically – normally to 44 tanks on paper (or one 22 vehicle company in practice).



I have an idea WHY a panther Btn took so long to deploy – the good Pz IV crews were either dead, prisoners or drafted to PzVI (Tiger) units. This means that many of the so called “re-equippments” actually were “raising new units”. That takes more time. Also the rapid losses on the retreat of tanks (see previous post) meant that a very large chunk of production went into maintaining some presence on the line. Finally a Panther was substantially more costly and complex than a Mk IV. What that means is that you need almost twice the mechanical support assets to support the same number of tanks – and I will bet that those guys took a heck of a lot longer to train properly than the guys driving the tanks.



So – the German Army is very short of kit – but it is usually upgraded to latest versions.


Cheers



John
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hn110 wrote:


Thats part of Guderians reforms all tanks had 2 crews... Part of the reason is they can run at night and have a fresh crew in the morning .. another reason is they expected 50% tank losses tthat was part of the strategy , a huge strategic battle with losses at a key point , win the ground then repair the tank and use a new crew... note the large amount of recovery and other vehicles compared to other nations early in the war .

The frequent use greater than 100% book value is just that ... the book values were manipulated ..except for the kIA figures . If your a comander , wouldnt you ensure you had the lowest possible repairs so your men got the parts they needed ?


John Bannerman:

Hi Bennie

What is your source for information on the “2 tanks crews per AFV”?


My sources comment strongly that one key advantage that the British and Soviet Armies had over the German Army for most if not all the war years was that they trained for, or merely decided to operate at night, whilst German training and Doctrine emphasised and worked around day operations until very late in the war.


Regards



John
 
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John Bannerman:

Hi Guys

This popped into my head after I sent my last email. At the time that Operation Torch commenced, the Germans decided to launch Operation Anton – the invasion of unoccupied France.



To do this they looked at units in France. Those units available on paper included 1st SS and 2nd SS divisions, both of which were in France to refit and re-equip. According to our sources both arrived without most of their vehicles, artillery or other heavy weapons as they had either:

1. Lost it in heavy combat.

2. Left it in the east for other units to use.

The ONLY combat capable assets in the divisions in early November 1942 was the M/C Btn of 2nd SS division. That was used during Operation Anton.



When the Soviets smashed 2nd German Army, along with the Hungarians and Italians (Operation Uranus IIRC) they raced toward the Dnieper river and threatened to cut of AGs A and B. As you may all know, an SS Panzer Korps was formed, consisting primarily of 1st and 2nd SS divisions. These units got their movement orders in late November early December 1942.



Neither unit (nor IIRC 3rd SS which was also in the West at or near this time) was able to move as they still had no equipment, and had not had any with which to train the large numbers of recruits in their ranks, following their “harrowing” experiences in Russia. Both these units moved closer to the Factories in Germany and NE France to absorb equipment, and then commenced entraining for the East in January and February 1943.



This is a crucial point as these units were SS – and were Hitler’s pet units. They had a very high priority for equipment, manpower and fuel etc. They did NOT get what they asked for until AFTER they had been ordered to move east, and only after their commanders actually refused the orders did they start getting their equipment. Indeed according to the sources, they arrived in the East at about 75% establishment of weapons and vehicles of all types.



What that means for the Germans is that even those units resting and re-equipping with very high priority for supply of equipment did not get it.



Also, I note that David touched upon the delays in getting the SS panzer Btns into units on the East Front. I am aware that these commence forming in summer 1941 along with assault gun Btns for the units (2nd, 3rd, 5th divisions, plus 1st which was to upgrade to a division). So the SS start raising 8 Btns of armour effectively. 2 Btns go east in 1942 – both in the spring to attach to 5th SS. The others do not have equipment and yet I KNOW that the panzer Btns DID get their tanks in October 1941. We have that allocation.


We also know that all Wermacht units forming got their tanks – and indeed end up in Russia (these are the 23rd and 24th Pz divisions). At the same time, however, another bloke with lots of clout lost a lot of tanks. I know that 15th and 21st Pz Divs were in fact effectively destroyed during operation Crusader, losing the vast bulk of the AFVs. I am also aware that 50 odd tanks were in workshops in North Africa.



Over the Jan-May period the DAK got enough tanks to fully rebuild its smashed up panzer regiments – and to have a very small reserve of AFVs. That equated in my view to the vehicles assigned to the panzer Btns of the 3 SS divisions in France. I have to admit that I have no clue as to what happened to the Assault Guns supposedly attached to their AG btns – but I would take a guess that they went east without their crews.



This would tally with the mauled LSSAH, DR and TK being in the West during much of 1942 without their equipment – and the problems I note above with the requirements to deploy them to the East.



I am also aware that despite paper upgrades to “panzer” status (despite their “Panzer Grenadier” designations) in early to mid 1943, by July and the Battle of Kursk the 3 SS divisions still did not have their second panzer battalions available. What they did have was 1 medium Battalion (all effectively at the 90 odd tank strength), an assault gun Btn (all with at least 24 AFVs) and a tiger company of 14 tanks. That put them on a par with the Wermacht units most often which despite mostly having their two Battalions only had half their paper strength of AFVs – and that was AFTER a 3-5 month “quiet” period in the east (Feb/Mar – July) for many of these units.



It does beg the question as to how the Germans thought they could win a war in which economic mobilisation was as crucial as military capability.

Regards



John Bannerman
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Ivan:

Hi John: I understand your analysis and the goals you are trying to achieve. I think all designers try to do a good job in achieving their goals. Other than FGA, I can't recall too many that intentionally tried to put out a crappy product. The fact remains, though, that some games or design systems have been very successful while others have been (charitably) far less so. How will TSWW do? Time will tell.

I have been very open with praise for the many things I thought were creative or well-implemented in BF and Blitzkrieg by DE. A few things caused me some concern, and we have discussed those previously. Overall, I am cautiously optimistic about the series. I own both games, and intend to purchase MN as well. Because the two prior games reflected relatively short campaigns, the system seems to work pretty well thus far. The items which concerned me were more of the long-term implications for play balance that would be more evident in a longer campaign, so I am interested in how things will play out in MN, for example.

Like any intellectual endeavor, the proof will be in the results. Even the most promising theory may collapse when subjected to actual testing. And yes, I understand that player skill level will dramatically affect any game played, which is why I said that, on average, OTHER THINGS BEING RELATIVELY EQUAL, then the system should represent a more or less historical outcome on the bell curve of statistical analysis. If this occurs, then I will be more than happy to concede that any misgivings or concerns I had were overblown. Until then they remain and, judging from the direction of some of the discussions here, those concerns ar not moving in a positive direction from my perspective.

For example, while your analysis does properly address certain "soft" factors like Soviet problems with command and control, supply, and the tremendous losses they incurred in endless attacks, often poorly conceived and implemented, how will you reflect this in the game? This is hard to do. Will you have an "idiocy" rule requiring the Soviet player to make numerous poor adds attacks all up and down the line? If you don't, and no sane Soviet player would fritter his army away in such a manner voluntarily, then the Soviets will likely take far fewer losses than they did historically. This will drmatically affect play balance, particularly when your "hard" ratings are so dramatically swung in favor of the allies. I am not saying that those ratings may not be accurate from a purely TO&E count, assuming of course that all those units were fully equipped with their designated TO&E in real life, but the imbalance would remain nonetheless.

Other design decisions, such as letting one side create 50-gun battalions versus 18-gun battalions, both of which can be equally replaced for the same replacement point, also create an inherent imbalance. As I said before, perhaps these factors are indeed counterbalanced by other factors or rules that even things out. In my experience, though, it is easy to overfocus on the things that are the most tangible, like counting guns or AFVs, precisely because the intangibles are so hard to quantify and account for. The TSWW system will have to somehow achieve that balance, in the end, in order to have a game people will want to play. Again, I look forward to MN with cautious optimism to see how, for the first time, the sytem holds up to an extended campaign timeframe.

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hn110 wrote:

Hi Guys

This popped into my head after I sent my last email. At the time that Operation Torch commenced, the Germans decided to launch Operation Anton – the invasion of unoccupied France.



To do this they looked at units in France. Those units available on paper included 1st SS and 2nd SS divisions, both of which were in France to refit and re-equip. According to our sources both arrived without most of their vehicles, artillery or other heavy weapons as they had either:

1. Lost it in heavy combat.

2. Left it in the east for other units to use.

The ONLY combat capable assets in the divisions in early November 1942 was the M/C Btn of 2nd SS division. That was used during Operation Anton.



When the Soviets smashed 2nd German Army, along with the Hungarians and Italians (Operation Uranus IIRC) they raced toward the Dnieper river and threatened to cut of AGs A and B. As you may all know, an SS Panzer Korps was formed, consisting primarily of 1st and 2nd SS divisions. These units got their movement orders in late November early December 1942.



Neither unit (nor IIRC 3rd SS which was also in the West at or near this time) was able to move as they still had no equipment, and had not had any with which to train the large numbers of recruits in their ranks, following their “harrowing” experiences in Russia. Both these units moved closer to the Factories in Germany and NE France to absorb equipment, and then commenced entraining for the East in January and February 1943.



This is a crucial point as these units were SS – and were Hitler’s pet units. They had a very high priority for equipment, manpower and fuel etc. They did NOT get what they asked for until AFTER they had been ordered to move east, and only after their commanders actually refused the orders did they start getting their equipment. Indeed according to the sources, they arrived in the East at about 75% establishment of weapons and vehicles of all types.



What that means for the Germans is that even those units resting and re-equipping with very high priority for supply of equipment did not get it.



Also, I note that David touched upon the delays in getting the SS panzer Btns into units on the East Front. I am aware that these commence forming in summer 1941 along with assault gun Btns for the units (2nd, 3rd, 5th divisions, plus 1st which was to upgrade to a division). So the SS start raising 8 Btns of armour effectively. 2 Btns go east in 1942 – both in the spring to attach to 5th SS. The others do not have equipment and yet I KNOW that the panzer Btns DID get their tanks in October 1941. We have that allocation.


We also know that all Wermacht units forming got their tanks – and indeed end up in Russia (these are the 23rd and 24th Pz divisions). At the same time, however, another bloke with lots of clout lost a lot of tanks. I know that 15th and 21st Pz Divs were in fact effectively destroyed during operation Crusader, losing the vast bulk of the AFVs. I am also aware that 50 odd tanks were in workshops in North Africa.



Over the Jan-May period the DAK got enough tanks to fully rebuild its smashed up panzer regiments – and to have a very small reserve of AFVs. That equated in my view to the vehicles assigned to the panzer Btns of the 3 SS divisions in France. I have to admit that I have no clue as to what happened to the Assault Guns supposedly attached to their AG btns – but I would take a guess that they went east without their crews.



This would tally with the mauled LSSAH, DR and TK being in the West during much of 1942 without their equipment – and the problems I note above with the requirements to deploy them to the East.



I am also aware that despite paper upgrades to “panzer” status (despite their “Panzer Grenadier” designations) in early to mid 1943, by July and the Battle of Kursk the 3 SS divisions still did not have their second panzer battalions available. What they did have was 1 medium Battalion (all effectively at the 90 odd tank strength), an assault gun Btn (all with at least 24 AFVs) and a tiger company of 14 tanks. That put them on a par with the Wermacht units most often which despite mostly having their two Battalions only had half their paper strength of AFVs – and that was AFTER a 3-5 month “quiet” period in the east (Feb/Mar – July) for many of these units.



It does beg the question as to how the Germans thought they could win a war in which economic mobilisation was as crucial as military capability.

Regards



John Bannerman


Ivan Kolesik:

Okay, these details are all fascinating, but it comes back to the point of how then did such a decrepit system withstand the allies til 45?
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hn110 wrote:


As ever the “Germany was great” issue has arisen.


Ivan Kolesik:

Hi John: I don't want a "Germany is great" game, but I don't want a UK or Russia is great game either. I want a balanced game that lets me play out the conflict fairly and accurately no matter which side I play. I have actually played FitE/SE far more times as a Soviet than as a German. In fairness, we have only seen the 39 Soviets in the Polish Campaign, but I hope to God, for the Axis sake, that the Soviet 41 troops are far weaker overall. If not, I would feel quite confident as a Soviet in stopping Barbarossa quite handily. As I have said before, it appears on its face that the bias is leaning toward the Allied side. Asking for balance and even-handedness should not be construed as a "Germany is great" stance.
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hn110 wrote:
David Hughes:

Bernie

I cannot give details on the early Panzers - but am puzzled by this whole issue as it is to say the least an uncommon practice, for the most obvious reasons, in other nations. All I can think of is that this was a 'training' device to give maximum exposure to tanks when they were in short supply.

My definition of 'Elite' is of an unit whose equipment at least matches that of other units of the branch/nation and whose members are either trained volunteers or selected (or culled) from the best available. On both accounts Wiking matches the criteria. Combat experience is a factor of course but the most important issue of the quality and experience of the cadre. A classic example is 12th SS - Elite by any standards but with zero combat capability for some 85% of its men.

David


Bennie Kloosteman:

I think it was more doctrinal as it was descibed in Achtung Panzer i think ..and he lays out the benefits i think ( going of memory prob like 10 years since i have read it) . And since Guderian was in charge of Pz div 2 he should know something about it .. To me it does make a lot of sense early in the war , with low calibre shells etc , a panzer regiment is the key point of an armour division .. carying 400 men to keep your spear head active and fresh seems a worth while cost.. I note 11th panzer numerous escapades of driving for 12 hours at night then fighting a battle in the morning , this seems difficult with 1 crew..

That said I agree such a system is unlikely to survive the cardre's that were creates from existing divisions .. but it is relevent in terms of doctrine.

re Elite , Yes they were volunteers but combat experience is a masive factor while it can be partially mitigasted by an experienced officer cadre the US troops in Tunesia showed that combat experience matters. That said is gained quickly over a few months of combat. If 12th SS had experienced troops it may have performed much better... ( or at least much lower losses for the same effect) .
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Bennie Kloosteman:

hn110 wrote:
Hi Bennie

What is your source for information on the “2 tanks crews per AFV”?


Achtung panzer it may also be in Panzer Battles ( W. Von Mellenthin)

hn110 wrote:
My sources comment strongly that one key advantage that the British and Soviet Armies had over the German Army for most if not all the war years was that they trained for, or merely decided to operate at night, whilst German training and Doctrine emphasised and worked around day operations until very late in the war.


11th Panzer did it frequently ... on most offensive where distance / re deplopyments were needed operations and movement of the armour began very early .. This is not the case for later ops like citadel where the infantry were mine clearing most of the night and the enemy was close. Agree they did not fight durring the night and avoided that , but they tried to be in position at Dawn ..
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hn110 wrote:
Okay, these details are all fascinating, but it comes back to the point of how then did such a decrepit system withstand the allies til 45?


David Hughes:

Ivan:

My suggestions would be twofold:
- in the early years the Germans did have a distinct edge in equipment (except Tanks!), training and doctrine

- then when they went on the defensive the doctrine issue became particularly important - especially at the tactical level. I have going through Joe Balkowski's 3rd volume of his superb history of the 29th US Infantry Division, covering the period from the fall of Brest to the attacks on the Siegried Line. It is quite astonishing how capable and formidable newly raised Volksgrenadier units were in countering, counter-attacking and very often beating one of the very best infantry divisions in the entire Allied armies. Balkowski suggests that one reason was the 100 year old history of conscription and reserves, coupled with a very hands-on tradition of leadership at all ranks and a highly efficient replacement system. And the occasional Panther or Tiger certainly helped!

But I take your point - there will need to be an interesting balance between reducing the traditional 'German as superman' while still ensuring that they match their later war achievements.

Personally I am not so sure that there was a major (or even minor) drop off in German capability as the years passed ie in game terms I think a CEV of 1.5 or so is valid in all years. I think the German retreats/defeats were largely caused by the growing and finally massive disconnect between the Axis and Allied resources in terms of aviation and tank strengths. And in addition the steady collapse of the German replacement system, exacerbated by the usual bizarre decisions of Hitler and the rest of the unwieldy and incapable Nazi war machine.

David
 
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