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How effective was the Soviet Union against German artillery?

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  • How effective was the Soviet Union against German artillery?

    You guys have any sources, or recommend some good books on the East front. Just wondering, if anyone here which has considerable knowledge could elaborate a bit on the tactics the Soviet Union used against German artillery, and how effective they were?

    It was just amazing, at the battle of Stalingrad, the Soviet Union asked for the surrender of Field Marshal General Paulus, that Hitler rejected, open up with five thousand artillery guns and reduced the German pocket to 15 miles long and 9 miles deep. Hitler remarked to Jodl, "There is no record in military history of a German Field Marshal being taken prisoner". Currently reading William L Shirer's book "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich"

    Just amazing how many artillery pieces, the Russia were to bring, even still after the long prolong fighting.

    Also how effective could of Dora really have been, or just merely a psychological weapon the Germans built?



    What kind of blast radius would those shells have?
    Last edited by Dago; 08 Mar 12,, 00:22.
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  • #2
    Only good book I have on the Eastern Front is Paul Carell's "Hitler Moves East, 1941-1943".

    As for the Dora (i.e.: 80 cm K (E) railway siege guns), it was pretty much a waste of resources. Yes, it was a technological marvel, capable of hurling a 15,000-lbs. shell up to 23 miles, but it was more economical and effective to simply send several aircraft the 23 miles to drop a 1000kg bomb, with far less resources. The only advantage it had was that it couldn't be shot down en route to the target. Other than that, another example of squandered German resources with little return on investment, similar to the Maus and E-100 super-tanks.
    "There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge

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    • #3
      Middeldorf E. Taktik Im Ru▀landfeldzug Erfahrungen Und Folgerungen. E. S. Mittler & Sohn, 1956
      J'ai en marre.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dago View Post
        You guys have any sources, or recommend some good books on the East front.
        Single volume, Dago? I quite like Evan Mawdsley's Thunder In the East
        http://www.amazon.com/Thunder-East-N.../dp/0340613920



        Originally posted by Dago View Post
        could elaborate a bit on the tactics the Soviet Union used against German artillery, and how effective they were?
        I'm not really sure what you mean, Dago, what were you after?

        Originally posted by Dago View Post
        It was just amazing, at the battle of Stalingrad, the Soviet Union asked for the surrender of Field Marshal General Paulus, that Hitler rejected, open up with five thousand artillery guns and reduced the German pocket to 15 miles long and 9 miles deep.
        Michael Haskew's Artillery from World War I to the Present Day claims that 'At Stalingrad, a salvo of Soviet 132mm rockets killed an entire battalion of German soldiers in a blinding flash.'



        No source is given for the anecdote, so I reckon it's as believable as some golf or fishing stories you've heard, but artillery on the Soviet side was concentrated at times into formations as large as corps, and at densities approaching 500 pieces per mile of front. These had to follow fire plans, since the Soviets lacked a sizable educated middle class to provide skilled forward observers in the numbers required.

        Stalin did call artillery 'the God of War', backing up Patton's opinion: "I do not have to tell you who won the war. You know, the artillery did."

        Originally posted by Dago View Post
        Currently reading William L Shirer's book "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich"
        For various reasons, I suggest you also try something newer, like Andrew Roberts' The Storm of War.

        Amazon.com: The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War (9780061228599): Andrew Roberts: Books



        Originally posted by Dago View Post
        Also how effective could of Dora really have been, or just merely a psychological weapon the Germans built?
        A fun idea, but in six years of war it fired just 50 rounds at the siege of Sevastapol, didn't it? I bet the German troops along the Eastern front wished all that effort had gone into extra batteries of 105mm field guns!

        Out of interest, you can also check out these bad boys:

        V-3 cannon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        Little David - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
        Last edited by clackers; 08 Mar 12,, 13:18.

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        • #5
          Much of the Soviet artilley was used ina direct and near direct fire role. The exceedingly common 76.2mm feild guns lacked the weight of shell or range for deep fires. Also with the outbreak of war production of 152mm stopped and big gun production focused on the 122mm guns. The 122mm howitzers out ranged the German 105mm but the lack of technical skill prevented deep fires once the battle became fluid.

          Deep fires were supplamented by the Katyushas and the VVS tactical bombers. The tactical bombers were used like flying artillery. While the Soviets are most famous for the rockets the biggest contribution to the science of artillery was the 120mm mortar. The Soviets introduced this system to replace the organic fire support 76.2mm infantry guns, the Germans ended up copying it and now the 120mm is standard NATO piece.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by zraver View Post
            Much of the Soviet artilley was used ina direct and near direct fire role.
            At division level, generally the fire was mortars and 76mm field guns (many of the latter mounted on the discontinued T-70 chassis after 1943). An infantry unit might have 122mm howitzers available, but not tank or mech units.

            Instead, heavier howitzers were collected together in artillery divisions (by 1943 there were 25 of them, and by 1945, 37), and assigned to wherever the fighting was.

            If you were a German divisional commander experiencing a 152mm bombardment at night, you could be justified ringing through to your higher HQ and requesting for reserves to be committed to your sector, or a pullback to your second line, because you were now likely facing corps or army level assets.

            Each breakthrough artillery division, circa 1944, had in its TOE an observation battalion, a light brigade with 48x76mm guns, howitzer brigades with 84x122mm, 32x152mm, 24x203mm (shown below with its T-34 engined tractor mount), a rocket launcher brigade with 36 launchers, and mortar brigades with 108x120mm and 32x160mm tubes. Artillery divisions could be paired in offensives, and during Bagration, 3rd Belorussian Front was in fact assigned four of them.



            Originally posted by zraver View Post
            Also with the outbreak of war production of 152mm stopped and big gun production focused on the 122mm guns.
            They definitely kept making 152mm weapons, as you can see above, but they tended to be a model using the smaller 122mm carriage for better mobility, and later in the war an increasing number of them were put instead on JS chassis to be the Su-152s. That goes back to your original point of artillery (and airpower) being subordinated to the assaulting infantry.

            As far as the strengths and weaknesses of specific Soviet practices and fireplans go, I reckon this German officer's analysis in the 1950s of several battles is pretty instructive:

            Tactics and Fire Control of Russian Artillery in 1941-44 by Oberst H.-G. Richert
            Last edited by clackers; 20 Mar 12,, 04:54.

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            • #7
              the mortars often get overlooked even thou they represented roughly 40 % of artillery rounds fired and more so in direct infantry support role.
              J'ai en marre.

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              • #8
                While the Soviets are most famous for the rockets the biggest contribution to the science of artillery was the 120mm mortar. The Soviets introduced this system to replace the organic fire support 76.2mm infantry guns, the Germans ended up copying it and now the 120mm is standard NATO piece.
                The French beat both to it.
                To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by troung View Post
                  The French beat both to it.
                  Not aware of any of the Brandt 120mm MLE 1935's seeing combat except as license built 120mm M1938 or German 120mm copies. It was the Soviet use of and follow on German copying of 120mm used to replace infantry guns that create the lasting change to artillery I was talking about.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by troung View Post
                    The French beat both to it.
                    The French invnted the thing (Brandt 120mm MLE 1935) but it was the Soviet use of it and the German copy that did the changing and doomed the infantry gun.

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                    • #11
                      I'd say they were very effective, USSR had more soldiers than German artillery could kill. quite a few left to win the war and march into Berlin.
                      "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!" B. Franklin

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                      • #12
                        Lt. Bassenov, a tank rider, wrote in his memoir that he considered German artillery "merely average", even though he had high praise for the efficiency for the enemy's armor and infantry. Americans also said they felt German artillery to be desultory as a rule and lacking the ability to concentrate unless they were defending a pre-registered front.
                        All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful.
                        -Talmud Kohelet Rabbah, 7:16.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Triple C View Post
                          Lt. Bassenov, a tank rider, wrote in his memoir that he considered German artillery "merely average", even though he had high praise for the efficiency for the enemy's armor and infantry. Americans also said they felt German artillery to be desultory as a rule and lacking the ability to concentrate unless they were defending a pre-registered front.
                          With the exception of German mortars and 88mm used in a direct fire role which the Americans respected. I'm not sure which the Germans feared more Russian or American artillery. Russian guns tended to fire more shells but at a closer range while American bombardments were more accurate and due to ToT devastatingly effective.

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                          • #14
                            Also how effective could of Dora really have been, or just merely a psychological weapon the Germans built?
                            It actually worked out pretty well for the Allies - sucking up all those resources, firing a few rounds a day... Needing a whole division to support it... If the USAAF would have known what was on that train in Normandy, they might even have left it alone, and let the Germans divert 100's of men from the battle to start setting it up, keeping them busy for days while they encircled and captured them. Remember they had to build a bunch of parallel tracks, two in a long arc for amining and two more for the cranes to assemble it - of course the large tract of land needed to be stabilized and leveled first.

                            I think using it was all about pride and having the biggest gun, it might have pleased Hitler to know they were using it. It probably scared the people on the recieving end pretty well too.

                            In action, it alegedly destroyed a fortress magazine at Sevastapol, and was used against civilians at Warsaw. It was destroyed by aircraft in shipment. It was effective if the enemy had a strongly fortifed position and you had surrounded them and had air superiority.
                            sigpic"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
                            If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by zraver View Post
                              With the exception of German mortars and 88mm used in a direct fire role which the Americans respected. I'm not sure which the Germans feared more Russian or American artillery. Russian guns tended to fire more shells but at a closer range while American bombardments were more accurate and due to ToT devastatingly effective.
                              Bessanov had a lot of respect for German mortar crews for their accurate fires.

                              Otto Carius rated Russian artillery over the American because Russian artillery fire in a hot sector is heavy and constant. Generally, however German soldiers feared Allied artillery more than the Russian counterpart. In American infantry divisions, howitzers lobbing HE shells probably knocked out more Panzers than antitank guns, bazookas, and supporting armor combined.
                              All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful.
                              -Talmud Kohelet Rabbah, 7:16.

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