Static unit logistics as scenario progresses

Discussion in 'Command Ops Series' started by Keydet, Jun 21, 2018.

  1. Keydet

    Keydet Member

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    Would static units have stable resupply if given separate orders making these subordinate to the map boss?

    Just realized, in the case of static units subordinate to a division, resupply becomes a problem when the division base moves deep into opponent territory. Resupply backwards is subject to interception.
     
  2. jimcarravallah

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    That's how it works.

    The longer your supply lines in unsecured territory, the more likely they could be intercepted.

    It's why Hitler's invasion of Russia failed, why the Nazi static units on ordered to hold seaports at all costs after the 1944 invasion of France eventually were reduced and captured, why Japanese troops ordered to hold island fortresses at all costs were eventually defeated, and why Blitzkrieg tactics worked during the invasion of Poland and France as allied units ordered to retreat couldn't fall back as quickly as their supply bases could retreat.
     
  3. Keydet

    Keydet Member

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    Jim,
    Don't think you are getting my question. It is the reverse of what you are describing. A static unit remains close to home throughout the scenario. I am asking about static units positioned at the start which happen to be close to the map boss base unit but are part of a map boss subordinate organization. That organization and it's base move on as the scenario progresses but the static unit does not. The map boss base is right down the street. Eventually the assigned base is many km's away. Resupply has to back track to static unit

    When given separate orders to a unit, does the game switch the supply source for the unit to the map boss ?
     
  4. jimcarravallah

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    If that's the issue, then it's a problem to be addressed by the scenario designer.

    The "on map boss" doesn't assign units to remain in a static position (unable to maneuver) -- the scenario designer is the only one who can determine that as part of the scenario design.

    If portions of a maneuver unit are to remain in a static position, it would make sense for them to be assigned to a base element that likewise remains relatively static -- cross attaching them from their organic maneuver organization to one less likely to engage in long distance maneuvers (perhaps a corps or army element).

    That's the way it would happen in a field environment, and it's how it should be with the initial design since neither a human player nor the AI opponent can make a static unit.
     
  5. Keydet

    Keydet Member

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    Thanks Jim. Thought of what I am going to do a minute after sending last message.
     
    jimcarravallah likes this.
  6. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

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    Hmm, no, that's a pretty simple generalization and doesn't reflect the myriad of reasons for the failure.

    This is a selection of some of these reasons:

    • Despite the so-called Blitz and the destruction of 28 Russian Divisions (the OKW reported 328,898 prisoners), 7 Tank Divisions (3,332 tanks destroyed) in the pockets at Bialystok and Minsk, and despite the destruction of 4 Russian Armies and parts of another 2 Armies, the capture of 665,000 Russion troops and 2718 guns of the Russian Southwest Front, and despite the reduction of the troops in the Smolensk pocket in September, where the Russians lost 486,000 (dead, missing or captured) troops and where another 274,000 men were wounded (of a total amount of around 760.000 troops, basically the bulk of the Russian 20th Army, the 19th Army and the 16th Army got trapped), the German success at Smolensk was a dearly bought victory, as German losses were high and as the Russian decision (just like at Uman) to even sacrifice entire Armies, in order to buy time for building up a halfway organized defensive line in the rear, had created a delay of 2 months for the Germans, where the delay then played a vital role ...
    • when the Russian winter kicked in, as - at the time - the German Army was rather a "fair weather Army", as Hitler put it during a meeting with Finnland's leader Mannerheim in 1942 (the conversation - or rather Hitler's monologue - was secretely recorded by a technician from Finland's national radio station, IIRC). The wider tracks, that enabled German tanks and halftracks to rather float on the Russian mud, instead of just sinking in and to maintain some mobility in heavy snow, were not available in 1941 and engine parts of trucks and other vehicles (let alone German engine oil and fuel, as even oil and fuel thickened) were not designed for temperatures of around -35° Celsius (or even colder in winter 1941). A friend's grandfather was part of the spearheading group that got stuck in heavy snow (where the tip of the group could see the Kremlin's domes in their binoculars), and he kept a fire going under his truck to keep the engine from freezing, so he and a few comrades were the only guys in his sub-unit who got away, when the Russians started the counteroffensive.
    • The main problem in November 1941 was the very long frontline, and that the troop and equipment losses during the onslaught, especially around Smolensk, had been quite high. After weeks of marching and pushing, quite some equipment was then worn out, under repair or damaged beyond repair, so it appeared to be quite a challenge to supply these large fronts. Since the railroad network was the main hub of the German supply system, supplies and reinforcements got to the railrad hubs without problems (especially since the partisan activity level was rather low at the time and supply lines were not contested, yet), but the distribution of supplies and replacements to the frontline was insufficient at the time, due to the reduced transport pool. Another factor was the fact that the Russian railroad was not as dense as the German (or central European network, in general) network, so that the Germans had to rely on a few main lines for each theater, which created a bottleneck and longer "last miles" to the Army depots. So it wasn't about overstretched supply lines or unsecured supply lines, but it was about a chaotic and insufficient distribution of supplies and reinforcements, caused by naive planning (the OKH envisioned the war in the East would be won within 2-3 months, where the OKW casually mentioned that the initial ammunition and supply stocks could only support a fully fledged war for 3 months - max 6 months with extra effort from the industry - , in their invasion plans) and about a lack of transport vehicles (due to wearout of trucks and equipment), where the latter prevented that the last 20-60 kilometers (from the hubs) to the frontline could be covered sufficiently by motorized transports.While troops and reinforcements could walk the "last miles" in autumn or late autumn, heavy snow was a totally different challenge for foot troops. The Russian mud, that kicked in around late autumn, slowed down vehicles and supply efforts as well. Numerous vehicles broke down or sunk in during mud season.
    • After the destruction of the pocket at Uman, Hitler - against a memorandum from OKH (August 18, 1941) that recommended to concentrate troops and go for a direct assault on Moscow - ordered to take the entire Ukraine (for political and economic reasons, the Ukraine was needed as breadbasket for Germany), and also to create a unified front with Finland (which required to push to Leningrad and even around the lake), instead. Germany's Tank Group 3 was ordered to turn North, where it had to help cutting off Leningrad, and Tank Group 2 was redirected to the South, where it then had to support the push in the Ukraine. The split crippled the subsequent push towards Moscow, as the assaulting troops could not develope enough punch against the stiffening Russian defense in front of the several defensive rings around Moscow.
    • Since the Germans had expected to win the campaign within 2-3 months, their troops were not prepared for the Russian winter, either. There was no winter clothing for the troops, they had to use their (long) summer coats, generally. Germany's Mountain troops were used to - and equipped with clothing for - severe winter conditions, but were not deployed for the push towards Moscow, as sub-units were either still in Greece for occupation duties, committed for the ill-fated push of the "Lapland Army" towards Murmansk, deployed on the Southern Front (Uman pocket, chasing Russian units east of the Dnjepr, the dubsequent defense at the Sea of Azov and capture of Stalino), or sent back to Germany (like the 5. Gebirgs-Division in December 1941) for R&R. Guns and rifles jammed. Soldiers lost their limbs, because general supplies were given priority over (then) badly needed winter clothing.
    • EDIT: The losses during the period from June 1941 to December 1941 were way higher than the Wehrmacht planners had anticipated: The German officer and military historian Rüdiger Overmans, who created the most comprehensive casualty sheets ("German Military losses in the Second World War", original title: "Deutsche militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg", 1999, 3rd run: 2004), concluded that 2,742,909 men died on the Eastern Front until December 31, 1944, and that the total number of deaths amounts to 5,300,000 (that number includes deaths during the last months of the war, even though the Germans had stopped to report names and numbers of the fallen on February 28, 1945, so that statistical methods, including calculated average death rates and calculatory substractions have to be applied, in order to get to a somewhat more realistic number). That number also includes Germans who died in Russian captivity (360,000 men).
     
    #6 GoodGuy, Jun 23, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018
  7. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

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    Re seaports:
    Hitler's stubborn tendency to declare particular cities to be "Festungen" (fortresses) might have stemmed from the point before the Russian counterattack in late 1941, where Hitler had given a major halt order, because the frontline had turned into a blurry and broken line at various hotspots, where even a couple German units had to be supplied by air in local pockets or relieved by reserve units, so that he thought a halt order would restore order and rectify the hotspots. This actually worked to some extent, well ... until the Russian offensive. But instead of opting for a flexible defensive, where units threatened to be cut off or overrun (like near Moscow) would fall back to positions that could be defended more easily, as recommended by the OKH, Hitler insisted on holding ground (at all costs), on many occasions.
    Some historians actually think that Hitler had learned that a halt order could rectify situations from that occasion, so that he stuck to them in later stages of the war.

    While this was idiotic in most of the cases, the defense of the "fortresses" Brest, Lorient, Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle and even Cherbourg, in 1944, actually served a purpose, the decision had some tactical element, at least, as these places had the potential to bind enemy forces, and Hitler also knew that the Allies needed deepwater ports to sufficiently supply their invasion troops. At least Saint Nazaire, Rochelle and Lorient could not be captured, they only surrendered when Germany signed the unconditional surrender in May 1945. St. Nazaire and Lorient had been turned into real fortresses, partially, so that the Allies would not have been able to take those cities without heavy losses. All of those places had huge stocks of food and ammunition, and they received additional resupplies that were delivered by German submarines even until April 1945 (afaik).

    Cherbourg was not defended as stubbornly as Brest or other Fortresses, though, in violation of the OKW stand-or-die order issued to fortress garrisons in February 1944, which demanded defensive actions "until the last man" and the last bullet.
    It then took the Allies only 15 days to get emergency repairs done, so that the harbor could be used for a first series of supplies. Since the Germans had blocked shipping lanes with ship wrecks and mines, and since piers and buildings had been demolished, it took the Allies 3 months to get the harbour fully cleared and repaired, though.

    After the Cherbourg experience, Hitler made sure that other "fortresses" would not surrender as quickly.
    Brest's harbor, whose deepwater port was initially earmarked to be used as main supply harbour, was destroyed by numerous RAF bombing missions, and cranes, remaining harbour facilities and piers were demolished by German engineers, right before its garrison surrendered in September 1944, so that harbor was out of the equation. By that time, Cherbourg was fully operational already, though, and the capture of Antwerpen (and its intact infrastructure) the same month had freed another deepwater port.
    Hitler did not anticipate such fast Allied progress, obviously. Evacuating the fortresses then was not an option anymore, though, because Allied troops had reached Paris and as a second landing had been carried out successfully on France's Southern coast.
     
    #7 GoodGuy, Jun 23, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
  8. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

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    Re islands occupied by Japan:

    For instance, Truk - residing almost halfway between the Philippines and Hawaii - was one of Japan's most important naval bases in the Pacific. Right before the US Operation Hailstone in February 1944, a US aerial recon had screened and photographed the lagoon for the very first time: It was used as forward mooring area by the Imperial Navy, frequently used by battleships, carriers, escort groups and supply/merchant ships, and it used to be the base of several hundred planes, at one point. Operation Hailstone then turned the base into rubble, destroyed a large amount of warships and merchant ships inside and outside the lagoon, rendering the base unusable, so that the US decided that a landing operation was not needed.

    Other atolls or islands were reinforced and turned into fortresses, so that the US decided to ship around and to keep them down with air strikes, instead of taking each and every island. From Japan's POV, Truk, Kwajalein and a few other islands were essential defensive spots that were worth to be defended, as they provided aerial cover for other islands, and/or because they acted as bases for long-range recon units and/or submarines. Some of them should have been evacuated, though, as they served no purpose after the US had taken neighboring islands or atolls and after they had lost most or even all of their planes during those US air strikes, though.

    In turn, Midway would have been an ideal base to screen the East and Northeast of the Pacific Ocean, including the central shipping lanes to Hawaii. Wake island, in the middle of the delta Japan, Philippines and Hawaii was pretty important, as well, until the US had started their famous island hopping, which essentially rendered quite a few of the Japanese forward assets (islands) useless, Wake included. So, some hold orders were stubborn, indeed, but others made sense strategically, actually.

    Unlike the German failure to get a sufficient amount of supplies (by air) to the Stalingrad pocket, the Imperial Navy managed to bring in some supplies with their fast destroyers (Tokyo Express), at least. Fast destroyers acted as fast supply vessels, where supplies were put in sealed steel barrels, which were dumped by the crews at night, near the shoreline. The idea was that the waves would wash up the barrels to the shore, or that barges (with cranes) would retrieve the barrels. A typical night in December 1942 would be that 1500 barrels were dumped and around 300 barrels recovered, according to the "History of USMC Operations in WWII".
    The Express was initiated to supply the operations on Guadalcanal, but its operations were then expanded to supply Rabaul, which served as supply base for the region - with its huge underground facilities (a 500 km tunnel network), as well as the supply base for atolls and islands further away. Areas where merchant shipping lanes were interdicted or seriously threatened by US submarines, were supplied by Japanese submarines.
     
    #8 GoodGuy, Jun 23, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018
  9. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

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    I added that part, but there was no room for this addition:

    • In general, the German losses amounted to 120,000 men per month. In rather calm periods the numbers rarely got below 50,000 and never below 30,000 per month, so that even during calm periods the Germans still lost 3 divisions per month, on average.
    • In September 1944, the losses amounted to 426,159 men. The number of men (new recruits) fit for service per birth cohort amounted to around 400,000 - 500,000, so with 120,000 men lost per month, an entire birth cohort was "expended" after 3-4 months, as Overmans put it.
    • In the past, historians worked with the German monthly casualty reports, but these reports did not include subsequent reports that were handed in after the deadline (and not included in the report of the following month, either), as combat operations or hasty disengagements/evacs prevented that all reports could be handed in on the closing date, or that they were reported at all (initially). This led to a blurry image for the OKW, as well as for historians. Interestingly, the subsequent numbers can be calculated, because a given unit's monthly casualty report also listed the unit's total number of casualties in the war, so that's how Overmans got to his cumulated numbers for the East Front. While the differences (between the actual report and the cumulated number) remained relatively low between June '41 and January 1943 (between 7,639 and 74,067), they got quite high between February '43 and Dec. '44 (example: there were 257,588 more losses in February 1943 than actually listed in the monthly reports, and the differences used to increase and never got below 6 figures until December 1944). For the first months of the Russian campaign (June - December 1941), Overmans' cumulated number amounts to 3,529,893 (dead, missing and wounded, with the majority of them being wounded/sick), while the official OKW listing amounts to 830,504 men. Overmans stresses that - from experience - half of the wounded soldiers recovered and returned to their units, usually.
    • Previous studies by other researchers concluded the following East Front losses from June 1941 - Dec. 1944: 1,062,464 missing, 1,169,502 dead and 3,535,455 wounded, where "only" 40 percent of these total losses were taken out of the fight permanently, as half of the wounded troops usually recovered. According to Overmans, the total number of troops killed (until December 1944) rather amounts to 2,742,909. During the final battle (from January '45 to May 1945), another 1,230,000 men were killed, according to Overmans. His number for this last period of the war (on German soil) was derived from estimations, statistical analysis and x-checking numbers of men in Allied captivity, so it's not an exact number, by any means. He concludes that the total number of losses on the East Front (until May 1945) amounts to a number between 3.5 or 4 million men killed, which includes men who died in Russian captivity (360,000), wheras the total amount on ALL fronts amounts to 5.3 million men killed, according to him.
    That said, its quite obvious that Germany's main problem in the East was a "staffing" problem, and not a general problem with supply distribution: While the Sovietunion could draw on seemingly abundant resources, the Germans had to administer the omnipresent shortage in personnel, tanks, fuel and partially ammunition, throughout the Russian campaign, and while the Russians could "afford" to lose 3 million men between June and December 1941, the Germans struggled to fully replace the losses suffered during this crucial period, let alone timely replacements for the push towards Moscow. The weakening of the invading forces (especially at Smolensk), the subsequent splitting of forces and distribution of tank groups created delays and weakened the group that was supposed to take Moscow. It took the Germans months, well into 1942, to stabilize their personnel pool, as wounded soldiers had recovered and returned to their units and as new recruits had filled up the ranks, just in time for the major summer offensive towards Stalingrad and the Caucasus.

    Sheer numbers (the amount of Russian replacement troops and tank production output) and Hitler's idiotic decision in 1942 (to take Stalingrad at all costs, and push with a smaller force towards the Caucasus) then broke the Germans' necks. Other vital factors were the fuel, food and military equipment deliveries to Russia, and the total lack of German long-range bombers - which could have attacked armament production facilities in the Ural.

    EDIT: Instead of opting for a long-range bomber force, the Germans only built a few FW 200's (which were not designed to be long-range bombers, but which could have served in that role), which were then used for long-range recon missions over the Atlantic Ocean, tasked to find Allied convoy-fodder for the submarines. Interestingly, these FWs were then also used as ASW bombers, dropping bombs on lone freighters or over undefended convoys.

    Without the fuel supply via Iran, the mobility of the Russian motor pool would have been seriously crippled, after they had to give up the oil fields in the Caucasus in 1942.
    In turn, the Germans suffered of an omnipresent lack of fuel, so that they had to administer the shortages, continuously, and they mostly lived from gigantic fuel stocks that were captured in 1940 and 1941 (mainly in France, but also in Russia), as the monthly fuel production output (oil wells in Romania and Hungary, and smaller ones in North Germany) never met the actual monthly consumption (exception: with the tremendous vehicle losses in France and on the East Front in autumn 1944, when the Germans were on the run, the monthly consumption actually fell to a level that matched the monthly production level, for 1 or 2 months).

    It wasn't until right before the assault on the Seelow heights, that the Russians, namely Zhukov's 1st Belorussian Front, had run out of reserves. On April 17, 1945, Zhukov's staff had to fan out in the Front's rear area to gather all units (even understrength sub-units) that had not been thrown into the fray yet, as the frontal mass assaults (triggered by Stalin's statement that he would allow Konev to turn north - towards Berlin, since Zhukov was obviously "too slow"), and the illumination of the battlefield with AA-search lights, which Zhukov had both ordered on April 16, had led to an extremely high number of casualties. Before the assault, 1 million Russian troops (in 2 Fronts) faced only 120,000 German troops, though.
     
    #9 GoodGuy, Jun 24, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2018
  10. Kurt

    Kurt Member

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    Sobering facts ! It is little wonder that modern Germany is politically pacifistic .
     
  11. jimcarravallah

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    All your statistics and babble about the tactics still doesn't negate the assertion that because the invading German army couldn't get sufficient petrol, ammo, and basic support items to its advancing forces, the assault in Russia failed.

    Japanese forces were isolated because they couldn't transport sufficient supplies to their garrisons even if they used destroyers converted to supply vessels.

    And, the German garrisons on the Atlantic coast were doomed to failure because they couldn't stockpile enough supplies to maintain their defense -- every bullet fired, meal consumed, or gallon of fuel used to move equipment being one less available for the next combat effort because there was no way to replace those items once the garrison was cut off from its supply sources.

    Armies might fight, but to get the troops to fight, they need beans, bullets, and fuel on a regular basis, and if any of those is insufficiently replenished over time, they wither on the vine and die.
     
  12. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

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    Oh, "babble", eh? Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed?
    If you can provide me with proper evidence that would back up your claim, I'll consider your "assertion".

    1) It was about setting the wrong priorities, about bad weather and about Russian resistance that had started to stiffen. The former (wrong priorities) goes for the decision to deprive Group Center of vital forces, and redirecting them to the North (Leningrad) and to Army Group South (Ukraine etc.), where the latter crossed the Mius on September 17 and captured Taganrog and then halted its operations, as heavy rain kicked in, so that its 1.Panzerarmee could not push under these Russian mud conditions. Only on November 17, when ground frost had kicked in, the German tank army could start to push to Rostov again and take it. The Russian counter-attack pushed the Germans out of Rostov, basically by performing a large pincer movement from the North, which threatened to cut off the troops inside Rostov, so Rundstedt ordered the evacution of the perimeter - against Hitler's order - and got sacked for it.

    Army Group Center faced similar conditions. On top of that, they had to dance with the reduced force pool.

    Fuel supply was ok during 1941, the Germans only faced 1 major hold-up in 1942, where an entire Tank Corps (can't remember which one) came to a grinding halt, because fuel could not be hurled their way in time.

    The Germans had brought large amounts of fuel to rear areas to prevent such hold-ups, this practice can be seen on pictures from 1942, where you can see thousands of barrels (my personal guess would be 10k or more) placed negiglently in an hinterland area, pretty much in the open, without any AA cover (nowhere to be seen on these pictures, at least), in order to maintain the fuel supply for tank groups and motor pools and to relieve the pressure from the German railway during high consumption phases (offensives). If the Russian air force would have known that such huge amounts were stored in the open, they could have had some fun.

    Food supplies were ok, the Germans also confiscated pigs, cattle and grain along the way, so that they didn't have to wait for the divisional supply trains (as in baggage, not railroad train) to catch up and to compensate for the expanding supply lines.

    Ammunition supplies were a different matter, as the German armament industry was in the process of increasing the production output and as stocks had dwindled during August and September (Smolenks), and as the Russian roalroad network was less dense. There was a major shortage of rifle rounds in 1941, afaik, I can't remember in what sectors, though.

    Some numbers detailing supply handling:

    One (railroad) train car could hold:
    • 350.000 rifle rounds (single rounds, not in clips, not in belts) or
    • 250.000 MG-rounds (belts) or
    • 9.500 Stick hand grenades or
    • 1.000 rounds for the Pak 7,5 cm or
    • 500 rounds (projectiles + propellant charges) for the le. Feldhaubitze 10,5 cm or
    • 200 rounds ( " + " ) for the schwere Feldhaubitze 15 cm or
    • 500 rounds for the Flak 8,8 cm or
    • 10.000 rounds for the Pak / Flak 3,7 cm.
    The allowed max length of a given supply train amounted to 550 meters in 1940, more powerful trains becoming available in 1941 and better road beds may have allowed for longer trains later on. At 550 m length, the net weight was 500 tons (850 tons gross weight).

    A sample chart from November 1941, displaying the required daily amount of supply trains that were needed on the East Front and the number of trains that actually arrived on schedule:

    ....................................................... Req. no. of trains ............................... trains arrived
    Army Group North ................................... 20................................................. 19
    Army Group Center ................................. 32................................................. 16
    Army Group South .................................. 22................................................. 15
    ________________________________________________________________
    Total: ........................................................ 74.................................................... 50


    Since the Leningrad siege had started on September 8, 1941, the German expenditure of ammunition and fuel had decreased and major movements decreased, so that the required number of daily supply trains was lower than Group Center's required amount (since Center could pick up its usual push speed again, eventually, after ground frost had kicked in). Army Group South had established a defensive line at the Mius, after it got driven away from Rostov, so the daily requirement matched the amount needed for a Group that's rather static. Looking at the numbers, either vital supplies were prioritized to be directed towards Army Group North, or supplies could not reach Center in a timely manner, since Center was pushing "through the mud" and the railroad lines had not been re-gauged yet, so that motor engine vehicles, but then - even worse - due to the mud, horse-drawn vehicles had to jump in, before the frost period started.

    Number of trains that arrived on the Eastern Front between Sept. 1941 – Jan. 1942:

    Month..................trains/month.....................avg. no. of trains per day

    September 1941: ...... 2093 ................................ 70
    Oktober 1941 ............ 1860 ................................ 60
    November 1941 ..........1701 ................................ 57
    December 1941 ..........1643 ............................... 53
    January 1941 ............. 1420 ................................ 46

    Detail here: Since the Germans captured less Russian trucks during the onslaught than anticipated, the Germans converted ALL railroad tracks (from Russian wide gauge - 1524 mm) to the German standard gauge (1435 mm). Since the superstructures (tracks) were just nailed, Wehrmacht railroad engineers could even re-gauge the Russian tracks under field conditions, even up to immediate frontline rear areas, and in a relatively fast manner. Still, the engineers had to convert several thousand km of railway tracks, which created another delay in 1941.
    When the Russians went to start their major pushes after Kursk, they had to re-gauge the rail network back to the Russian gauge.
    The last chart shows that the Germans managed to get a fair amount of supply trains to the Eastern Front, and that the number of trains decreased drastically between December and January. Reasons: heavy snow, but more importantly the Russian counteroffensive, which had started on November 5, 1941, which also included a combined Partisan effort to demolish the few railway lines that supported the troops near Moscow, and which had already been re-gauged. Partisans also occupied crossroads, another reason for supplies not getting to some of the sectors, and - in that case - even ending up in Russian hands.
     
    #12 GoodGuy, Jun 26, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  13. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

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    1) Part II

    Whatsoever, Army depots and divisional depots still held sufficient resources to support a push towards Moscow. Large amounts of Russian field guns and AT guns (with large stocks of Russian shells) were incorporated into the German Army, which made up for shortages in shells and capable AT guns. The capture of Russian stocks in fuel and ammunition made up for the deficiencies in supply distribution, to quite some extent.

    Until the end of 1941, Germany had not focused on high productivity in the armament industry, because Hitler thought that WW I was lost at the "homefront", means because the population became war-weary. While this assertion was wrong, he still feared that a fully fledged armament effort (women working in armament factories, reduction of luxury goods and even consumer goods production) would have led to a drastic reduction of consumer goods, due to the scarcity of funds and resources, which in turn could have led to revolts, or major discontent, at least. This half-assed effort led to a situation where armament workers were drafted, leaving large gaps in the workforce. Also, there was a learning curve for quite some products, which lowered production efficiency:

    For instance, the production of one Junkers 88 required 100,000 man hours in Oktober 1939. By August 1941, the production of such plane took only 15,000 man hours, and only 7,000 in September 1943, as the increased application of machines and acquisition of specialized machines had made production more efficient.

    In contrast to the simplified production process of Russian T-34 tanks, German tank production (up to 1943) involved a lot of manual work. Applications on hatches and other parts, exterior handles and mounts for lights, interior mounts for optics, wiring, armor and splinter protection on ammunition racks and other parts had to be welded. Some streamlining/simplification (as seen in the "Hetzer" tank) would have ensured higher output numbers for say the Pz.IV and the Pz. III early in the war. With the Panzer III being the Wehrmacht's workhorse in 1941, the Russians could create hold-ups with a handful of heavy tanks (like the famous event where 2-5 KV-2's (KV-1's on other occasions) stopped the spearhead of a German tank division, stopping its movement cold). The Germans did have no capable AT gun (such as the PaK 40, where only a few pre-production models were issued to the front in November 1941 for field testing, the first 15 serial production guns had only reached the Eastern Front in February, and in April '42 the Wehrmacht had only 44 pieces in service) at the time, they could only try to bring up a flak gun, or call in air support (KV-1's were knocked out that way, on several occasions) against such heavy tanks, or their tanks or infantry could try to swarm them and get to their sides and rears and knock them out with hollow charges. Such types of events cost vital time needed to get to Moscow before the harsh winter conditions would kick in.

    From January 1942 to July 1942 the armament production output went up by 50%, and by another 50% from October 1942 to May 1943, mainly because women filled the gaps, components were standardized (and even became increasingly interchangeable) and the request authority (to order productions, or to order changes in production) had moved to the Ministry of Armanents and War Production (Speer).


    The main challenge for the push to Moscow was, unlike modern Bns (staff and supply Coy) or Brigades (transport Coy) in today's German Army, that Regiments didn't have their own supply units, so that the Regiments could not draw from the divisional depots, and where the divisional trains had to push supplies to the Regiments, instead. Even though a Regiment had the authority to combine its Bns' supply columns, a Regiment's continuous change of positions during engagements made timely resupplies very difficult. Divisons had to draw from the Army's depots, as Corps did not have supply trains, let alone their own depots.

    It boiled down to the last miles, where extreme weather conditions (mud, snow later on) and unfriendly terrain (swamp areas, numerous rivers and bad roads - where the dust wore down engine parts quickly) slowed down German resupply efforts. When Operation Barbarossa began, the German supply branch had an inventory shortage of 6000 motor vehicles. In summer 1941, every 3rd vehicle dropped out on every supply run (statistically), in Army Group Center's TOO. Prior to the start of Barbarossa, the Germans had tried to compensate the general lack of vehicles by incorporating a hodge-podge mix of vehicles consisting of thousands of captured military trucks from France, Britain and even civilian vehicles, and then figured (the hard way) that maintenance and proper spare parts supply proved to be another problem.

    Still, there were no major shortages of fuel that slowed down entire Corps, between Summer and early December 1941, as the Germans could always fall back to and rely on their 2nd transport backbone: Horses. There's a myriad of pictures where you can see horse-drawn vehicles packed with fuel canisters. While this wasn't the most efficient (reg. speed) way of getting fuel to the immediate frontline, they could always compensate an X amount of vehicle breakdowns (for the last 20-60 kilometers) with their horses, at the cost of speed, of course.

    The Germans employed 2.7 million horses.

    Martin van Creveld insisted (in his book, 1979) that all these problems with supply distribution were instrumental in the assault's failure, but German publications and sources from the late 1980's to the 2000's show that the difficult supply distribution was an omnipresent sword of Damocles, and that it played a vital part in delaying pushes, but also that the supply challenge wasn't the decisive factor in 1941, let alone being the sole reason for the assault's failure. I have listed some of the (myriad) of reasons above, and there are probably more, but I don't wanna bore you to death with my "babble".

    Cheers
     
    #13 GoodGuy, Jun 26, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  14. GoodGuy

    GoodGuy Member

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    2) The real problem was in fact a different point:
    On Guadalcanal, the Japanese Army could not land enough troops after US troops had captured Henderson airfield, because the US had managed to drive off Japanese troop transports several times, and as their air force had managed to knock most of the experienced pilots (who were trained before the war) out of the war, so that despite the numerical advantage of the Imperial Navy, the US started to rule the sky, which allowed them to attack some of the convoys and some destroyer supply efforts.
    With interrupted or aborted troop landings, the Imperial Navy never dropped the required amount of troops to keep US troops on the island in check. The amount of japanese troops never exceeded 20,000 , and at the start of the final battle in the Mt. Austen area 30,000 US troops faced 20,000 Japanese troops. While malnutrition was a common problem in some japanese units that were sent against Henderson airfield earlier in the campaign, others had sufficient levels of food and supplies (given they had almost no transport capacities, maybe except for a low amount of mules, most of the supplies had to be man-handled from the beaches to the hidden bases).

    Rabaul was isolated later on, but not invaded, as it held up to 200,000 troops at some points in the war, so the Allies just made sure that it was kept out of business. Rabaul surrendered when the Japanese government asked to cease all hostilities in '45. Rabaul's stockpiles were large, as it was the main supply base in the area, and as it was also planned to be used as supply and staging area for the invasion of Australia.
    Other bases and fortresses had horded similar stock levels, while quite some small bases basically had to live from coconuts and other types of food collection, and/or food supplies from a submarine, every few weeks.
    Quite some bases that were isolated or "just" cut off from merchant shipping, were supplied by submarines.

    3) The German garrison of St.Nazaire had collected and hurled all supplies they could find to the fortress, during their retreat towards St.Nazaire. Right before the actual siege began, they confiscated the stocks of all food shops and food production facilities, depriving the civilians of most of their food. The situation of the civilians got to such a bad level, that eventually the Red Cross organized weekly food deliveries to civilians residing inside the German perimeter. The Germans were not allowed to take those supplies, and the Red cross made sure that the Germans actually didn't take them. The German stocks were sufficient to supply a garrison of 24,000 troops (IIRC) until May 1945.
    Same goes for Lorient, their stocks were sufficient to support a prolongued resistance. Some of these fortresses received additional supplies and medical goods by submarine, and their ammunition stocks were large enough to support months of resistance. Cherbourg was a different matter, as the Allies put up a lot of effort into taking the first deepwater harbor. They pitted 3 Divisions against the 3 defending German positions, and bombarded the shyte out of the German perimeter, leaving the city completely destroyed. Placing 3 Divisions as garrison of Cherbourg (compared to the large front a given Division had to defend in the Normandy sector) shows how important Cherbourg was to the Germans, they put a lot of effort into denying the Allies access to an intact deepwater harbor. The subsequent demolishing of the harbor rendered the port unusable (for a full scale supply regime) for 3 months, which led to a first Allied supply crisis in July/August and to the undersupplied Allied spearhead - that had reached the German border - to halt its advance, later on, giving the Germans time to regroup.

    Re fuel:
    There was almost no fuel consumption, as only the St. Nazaire perimeter was large enough (there were 110,000 French civilians inside the defensive perimeter - not in the fortress, of course - at the beginning of the siege, at first) to allow for some (limited) motorized movement, but fuel consumption was most likely restricted to running generators at night or an X amount of hrs/day. All of the fortresses that managed to hold out until 8th or even 10th of May 1945 either had their own water wells, or gigantic water tanks, similar to the installations in Tobruk.

    Maybe you should read a book about the sieges on the Atlantic coast sometime.
     
    #14 GoodGuy, Jun 26, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
  15. jimcarravallah

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    Or, perhaps, you ought to learn something about logistics.

    It happened to be my profession.

    What was yours?
     
  16. EzraNehemiah

    EzraNehemiah Member

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    GoodGuy,

    I appreciate all your research, and no offense here, but you need to be a little more comprehensive in your citations and sources to justify your wall of text. 1979-99 sources, although valuable, are not entirely adequate to support your analysis.

    Have you read David Stahel`s latest scholarship (Cambridge University 2009-15) on the Eastern front campaign? eg. Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East, Operation Typhoon, Moscow and Kiev 1942. It might serve your initial research well.

    His thesis supports quite convincingly that logistics were in fact the primary reason why Barbarossa failed ultimately. Beyond 1942 it was inevitable. All the rest, which you impressively mention, is peripheral outcomes due to the primary reason of logistical failure. His bibliography is quite impressive and might challenge some of your claims.
     
    #16 EzraNehemiah, Jun 27, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  17. TMO

    TMO Member

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    Calm down chaps - this is a really interesting discussion. I always think how logistics are planned and delivered is a seriously neglected subject.

    Kind regards

    Tim
     
  18. jimcarravallah

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    Nothing tells more about how logistics gets ignored in planning than preparing a 40-minute overview of logistics for a "program review", and to deliver the briefing to a half empty auditorium because the sub-contract workers, program staff engineers, and the back of room military staff decide it's a good time to visit the snacks and coffee table in the hallway.
     

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