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Thread: WWII what-ifs

  1. #631
    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    Dok, you are wrong, high ranking Soviet officers ARE in Nationalist China, look it up. Vasily Chuikov was sent there after the Finns beat his ass.
    Damn commies you have to keep an eye on their threats.

    I stand corrected Z, thanks.
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  2. #632
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    To summerize how Germany stodd on the brink of victory in the East on 6 August 1941. In June when Armygruop Mitte crossed the frontier they destroyed much of the Western Front near Minsk and Bialystok in the invasiosn first big pocket battles, then in a series of running fights effectively destroyed the 4 armies that made up the Western Front. The Soviets reconstituted the Western Front with the reserve front but this new force ended up going into the bag at Smolensk. By 6 August, the road to Moscow was clear. The only major Soviet force in the field was the Southwestern Front near Kiev. SWF had lost most of its tanks in the Soviet general counter offensive that might rank and the biggest counter-offensive epic fail of all time. Though numbering over 700,000 troops, they only had 115 tanks and were not capable of a war of movement.

    The Soviets were moving troops from the East, but many went to Leningrad where they ended up destroyed or trapped in the city. Though it was at Leningrad that the Soviets would first check the Germans. Vatutin's offensive managed to check Mainstein for 2 weeks, but it was all he had. His forces were shattered after the attack.

    Had Hitler decided to drive on Moscow Army group center had 1000 tanks, 3/5ths of the Luftwaffe aircraft and over a million men. The Soviets were able to marshal 1.2 million men between Smolensk and Moscow but this force had only 1/5th the tanks, 1/3rd the aircraft and 1/8th the artillery of the original Western Front. Historically when the 2nd and 3rd panzergroups attacked, half this last ditch effort would be destroyed in encirclement battles. The massive Soviet effort to raise armies would not begin to create units ready for combat before winter and all the troops the Soviets could risk bringing west were deployed, or already on the way. The barrel was bare until Sorge let the Soviets know that Japan was going to attack the US not the USSR.

    The Soviets also did not know who was who as far as skill went. Obsolete but politically reliable leaders like Timenshenko were not yet done with feild commands, Zhukov was in semi disgrace and had lost hos place on Stavka and while given an important command in the "new" reserve front in front of Moscow where he launched the first successfully counter attack against the Germans at Yelnya, his forces like Vatutin's took a serious beating. The quality of Soviet training, doctrine, equipment, supply and communications were completely outclassed by the Germans. Although excellent equipment like the T-34, M30 howitzer, Pe-2 bomber were around, the USSR was just entering a major upgrade cycle while the Germans were coming off of one. The main Soviet tank was the T-26, which had shocked the Germans in Spain, but was now hopelessly outclassed.

    Had Armygroup Mitte gone for Moscow in August, there is no reason to think that Stavka could have stopped them. In fact one option they might have chosen- diverting troops from Leningrad might have cost them both cities. So assuming the Germans take Moscow, what then?

    For the Soviets the loss of Moscow means the very heart of the Soviet transportation net has stopped beating. Soviet forces would have to try and organize any counter-offensive using far less capable rail lines. Assuming that the Battle of Moscow like so many earlier battles was one of encirclement, the forces Zhukov had might actually be outnumbered by Armygroup Mitte and the offensive like so many others would fail. It would be December 1942 before the Soviets really learned to play offense. During the Sprng of 42 the Soviets were just as inept as they were in 1941 when it came to offensives.

  3. #633
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    Losing Moscow would be a blow, that's for sure. But I don't think the Soviet Union would capitulate. China lost most of its German trained forces in the defense of Shanghai for 3 months. Then Nanking, the capital, was lost in 2 weeks. That region was the majority of Chiang's economic and political power in China. He was able to use a form of "deep operations" the Red Army would use on the Germans to trap the Japanese in a quagmire.

    After taking Moscow, then what? Keep driving east? German supply line was stretched thin and must spend forces to pacify the locals. Japanese had to spend a lot of manpower to pacify the Chinese. Chiang moved west into the interior of China. Stalin would have moved east to the interior of Russia. Germany could not play that game forever because UK and France (in this hypothetical scenario) would be breathing down Hitler's neck on the other side.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

  4. #634
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut View Post
    Losing Moscow would be a blow, that's for sure. But I don't think the Soviet Union would capitulate. China lost most of its German trained forces in the defense of Shanghai for 3 months. Then Nanking, the capital, was lost in 2 weeks. That region was the majority of Chiang's economic and political power in China. He was able to use a form of "deep operations" the Red Army would use on the Germans to trap the Japanese in a quagmire.

    After taking Moscow, then what? Keep driving east? German supply line was stretched thin and must spend forces to pacify the locals. Japanese had to spend a lot of manpower to pacify the Chinese. Chiang moved west into the interior of China. Stalin would have moved east to the interior of Russia. Germany could not play that game forever because UK and France (in this hypothetical scenario) would be breathing down Hitler's neck on the other side.
    Without Moscow, the Soviet Union is effectively cut in half west of the Urals. Lenningrad can be supplied by the Western Allies via Murmansk during the summer months but man power is going to be a serious problem. In the South, Hitler's next target is going to be the Ukraine and the Soviets will still have the same under performing commanders in the Spring. The Soviets then face one of three choices in the Spring. 1. Attack Moscow and leave the Ukraine uncovered meaning there is very little to keep Armygroup Sud from marching to and past Stalingrad, whose defense is compromised by the lack of Moscow and its transportation network and the men lost defending and trying to retake Moscow.

    Assuming another encirclement battle, the Soviets in front of Moscow would likely only number half a million men by the end of winter and the only source of offesive troops for the Spring would come from the Ukraine. Couple this weakend force with the losses in the Spring and there is not a whole lot of cooky in the jar to defend Stalingrad or launch a winter attack if the Germans can be stopped there.

    2. Abandon Moscow for 42 and concentrate on defending a rump state west of the Urals. The Abwher would likely detect the lack of offensive preparations, Soviet battlefield deception and communications security was still deeply flawed in the spring of 42. I don't know how much Armygroup Mitte can send to Sud besides trucks and the bulk of its two panzergroups but every extra thing helps.

    3. Use a northern strategy and try to relieve Leningrad. I discount this, because without Moscow, Leningrad has no real transportation links East and must be supplied via Murmansk.

    43 is where things get interesting. With LL, the Soviets can build up a massive force, but if Zhukov is in command, he's going to divide the force into quarters and go after 2 targets, each with 2 waves. His goal wont be liberation of territory, but the destruction of entire armygroups. In the center, the lack or rail lines forcing a slow buildup or the building of new ones will trumpet the attack. An attack that will go in against defenses prepared for over a year. In the South, assuming either Stalingrad was lost, or the city is still contested and the Panzers are at Baku, the Soviets will have to attack across the Volga to gaina ccess to the city or more likely try to cut off 4th Panzer Army in the Caucuses.

    Without LL, the Soviets will only have half to two thirds as much equipment and fewer men as they have to shoulder a bigger share of the production. If Zhukov stays true to form, his attacks will thus be weaker. The wildcard is if someone like Konev or Vatutin jumps Zhukov. With or without LL, I think either of these men would prefer a single (if multiple wave) objective attack and might well focus on liberating critical cities and regions over the battles of annihilation Zhukov preferred.
    Last edited by zraver; 16 Apr 16, at 01:22.

  5. #635
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    Jason, sorry, no, Hitler cannot keep Moscow. 10 armies massing in the Urals. Guderian spent his last strengths taking Moscow. He lost Moscow!
    Chimo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    Jason, sorry, no, Hitler cannot keep Moscow. 10 armies massing in the Urals. Guderian spent his last strengths taking Moscow. He lost Moscow!
    If he had driven on Moscow in mid August he would have taken the city. 10 armies isn't all that much, basically 10 western corps. They are poorly equipped, inexperienced and badly lead. In the spring they get mauled because Stalin still thinks Timenshenko can lead troops in battle. If Stalin loses Moscow he gets one last infusion of trained troops in October/November when Sorge reports on the Japanese intentions. This force is tiny, just 5 divisions. June to September he had already sucked all the meat off the bone and had got 23 more sent west to no avail. Not all of these divisions went to Moscow either, of the 14 divisions sent in the fall, only 8 went to Moscow. However, if he has lost Moscow in the likely type of encirclement battle he would have been facing, his force to retake Moscow will be outnumbered by the Germans. Historically, after the loss of half the Moscow defenders in September-October the Soviets were only able to achieve a 1.2:1 ratio in men compared to the Germans. They had a total of 58 divisions or varying states of readiness, equipment and experience. Make the loss of the Moscow defenders closer to 80% and they are out numbered and denied the services of the Moscow rail hub.

  7. #637
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    Quote Originally Posted by zraver View Post
    If he had driven on Moscow in mid August he would have taken the city.
    At this point, I strongly doubt that. German LOC is extremely stressed, much more so than Leningrad. Just doing the math, it's at least twice the defenders of Stalingrad. Even without Chuilov whose genius was his reverse slope artillery, that's 200,000 defenders within the streets of Moscow. Never mind the 10 Siberian Armies ... or even if 3 just showed up, Guderian would be forced to retreat!
    Chimo

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    Come on, Jason, this is street warfare. Tank mean squat all. Soviets outnumbered Nazis 4 to 1. You just shifted Stalingrad to Moscow and Guderian ain;t the man to win Moscow. Actually, I know no one in the German Staff who could win Moscow.
    Chimo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    Come on, Jason, this is street warfare. Tank mean squat all. Soviets outnumbered Nazis 4 to 1. You just shifted Stalingrad to Moscow and Guderian ain;t the man to win Moscow. Actually, I know no one in the German Staff who could win Moscow.
    Sir, it was encirclement battles, look at all the big cities taken in 41, none of them involved the protracted street by street fighting of Stalingrad. The Soviets didn't begin to try and force a house by house fight until 42, first at Stevastopol, and later at Stalingrad. The German commanders still had the authority to fight effectively which meant bypassing large urban centers. The only reason Leningrad did not capitulate was the ice bridges. Nor did the Soviets out number the Germans 4:1 in the late summer/ fall of 1941. When Typhoon started the Soiets had 1.2 million to Armygroup Mittes 1.1 million, by December the Germans were down to 1 million and the Soviets were the same as 800,000 losses were replaced by fresh formations. But the fresh formations were of a wholly inferior caliber.

    The USSR started with 117 divisions in the West with 47 more in Stavka reserve and 65 throughout the rest of the USSR. Only a few of the border divisions were at an authorized strength of 14,000, most of the western divisions were at 10,000 and most of the Eastern divisions at 7000. Of the total of 229 divisions, 47 were brand new formed in June 41 and no were near ready for combat. They would raise another 109 in July and another 158 in August, but they were losing them just as fast. They lost 155 divisions June-September, or nearly 100% of the prewar force in the west/Stavka reserve. Additionally the new divisions were smaller because of cadre and C3 issues, more along the eastern divisions lines and very poorly equipped overall. If you look at the level of artillery in a division, the numbers shrink for the first half of the war.

    You claim Guderian isn't the general to do it, but look at who the Soviets had in command from June 41 to mid 42 Timenshenko. Who while aggressive, was defeated at every turn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    At this point, I strongly doubt that. German LOC is extremely stressed, much more so than Leningrad. Just doing the math, it's at least twice the defenders of Stalingrad. Even without Chuilov whose genius was his reverse slope artillery, that's 200,000 defenders within the streets of Moscow. Never mind the 10 Siberian Armies ... or even if 3 just showed up, Guderian would be forced to retreat!
    The panzers did not run out of supplies in real history. Keeping them supplied meant for example, winter gear had to be left behind, but the food, fuel and ammo made it forward. Given a start time of mid-August instead of late September there is no logistical reason they can't make it, specially since the food, fuel, parts and ammo used to encircle Kiev would instead be used for Moscow.

    Sir, its not 10 Siberian Armies, its a total of 28 divisions transferred west from June-November, most were from the Urals and only a few were Siberian. Of the Siberian units, only 2 divisions went to Moscow. Not only that, but those 28 divisions only equaled about 15-18 western Soviet divisions. The remainder of the troops were scratch divisions that were constituted, barely manned, minimally armed and sent into combat where they died like lemmings.

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    Sir, some idea of how bad it was for the Soviets in 1941. From June to December they lost 900 heavy tanks, 2300 medium and 17,300 light tanks. At the start of the Moscow counterattack (real history) the Red Army facing the Germans (all three armygroups) had just 212 heavy, 322 medium and 1393 light tanks, most of them in front of Moscow in a virtual 1:1 parity with the Germans. While the Northern and Southern armygroups enjoyed a (short lived) numerical superiority. So while the Red Army division count is climbing, the number of tanks overall and riflemen and artillery in a division is shrinking. German AFV strength is a bit harder to pin down since the numbers are generally listed June-June. The Germans started the war with just over 4000 tanks heading East. By June of 1942 the total strength had dipped by 1000 so losses are exceeding replacements but how many were lost prior to the Battle of Moscow? in December 41 the Germans lost 525 AFV's but some were lost in North Africa during operation Crusader. What is known is the percentage of modern tanks in the German army goes from 40% to 67% from 41-42 even as the total number goes down so the Germans were getting qualitatively better as the PzI/II and Pz38's got knocked out in disproportionate numbers.

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    "...Given a start time of mid-August instead of late September there is no logistical reason they can't make it, specially since the food, fuel, parts and ammo used to encircle Kiev would instead be used for Moscow..."

    I've argued this for some time. The German operational pause around Smolensk from mid-July until, really, early October was catastrophic to their very realistic chances of encircling, neutering and, finally, capturing Moscow. While diverting Guderian south was beneficial to destroying Soviet forces escaping Kiev, those Red forces were already in disarray and fighting on a reversed front, where they were fighting at all.

    Meanwhile flying weather, road trafficability, and available daily operational hours were far greater in August than October. Instead, German divisions bore the brunt of statically defending along the Desna (Yelyna salient) to withering if incoherent assaults by disjointed Soviet forces thrown willy-nilly into the meat grinder. Yeah, the Soviets were rightly decimated but those German divisions forced to stand fast and defend were heavily attrited as well. They'd be worse for the wear, needlessly, come early October when TYPHOON finally kicked off.
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2 View Post
    "...Given a start time of mid-August instead of late September there is no logistical reason they can't make it, specially since the food, fuel, parts and ammo used to encircle Kiev would instead be used for Moscow..."

    I've argued this for some time. The German operational pause around Smolensk from mid-July until, really, early October was catastrophic to their very realistic chances of encircling, neutering and, finally, capturing Moscow. While diverting Guderian south was beneficial to destroying Soviet forces escaping Kiev, those Red forces were already in disarray and fighting on a reversed front, where they were fighting at all.

    Meanwhile flying weather, road trafficability, and available daily operational hours were far greater in August than October. Instead, German divisions bore the brunt of statically defending along the Desna (Yelyna salient) to withering if incoherent assaults by disjointed Soviet forces thrown willy-nilly into the meat grinder. Yeah, the Soviets were rightly decimated but those German divisions forced to stand fast and defend were heavily attrited as well. They'd be worse for the wear, needlessly, come early October when TYPHOON finally kicked off.
    No doubt, while the Germans built in a pause in order to maintain overall effectiveness, the diversion to Kiev used up valuable petrol and supplies that could only be made up by not shipping other things like winter gear and most importantly they lost irreplaceable time. The Soviet response was disjointed, Stalin was preparing to die in his own bunker, the star commanders had not yet emerged into the right positions, or had been shunted to the side when they suggested something Stalin didn't want to hear. Had Germany not gone after Kiev, the Battle of Moscow and Operation Barbarossa et al would be refereed to as the single greatest battle/campaign victory of all time. Stalin might well be remembered as the one who took poison and shot himself (with Hitler dying in a nuclear fire around 1946-47).

  14. #644
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    Stalin -really- wasn't the drama queen type that hitler was. in fact, the Soviets were already preparing to abandon Moscow for Kuibyshev by October.

    of course if moscow was lost there was a very real chance that Stalin might have become a Hero of the Soviet Union via Beria.
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    Stalin -really- wasn't the drama queen type that hitler was. in fact, the Soviets were already preparing to abandon Moscow for Kuibyshev by October.

    of course if moscow was lost there was a very real chance that Stalin might have become a Hero of the Soviet Union via Beria.
    Stalin said he wasn't going, Moscow was his do or die.

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