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Manstein-Kursk-Hitler

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe' started by denny, Apr 16, 2016.

  1. Jesica

    Jesica New Member

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    Long barreled guns are an upgrade to add firepower to a weapon conceived to exploit breakthroughs and drive deep behind enemy lines. Guderian written that the engine is a weapon that is as much important as the gun in a tank. Tanks are more expensive than assault guns. Thus german doctrine stipulated that tanks should be dealt by assault guns to save tanks for breakthroughs. Of course a tank company can end up fighting armor in a meeting engagement, but it was not their main role. If you are planning to create an strategic reserve, you will strive to avoid meeting engagements against enemy armor because you know that you will sustain losses.

    Speaking of mastery of maneuver, avoiding unnecessary meeting engagements is a good example. German defensive doctrine in WWII is initially based in WWI prussian doctrine: the elastic defense. As everybody knows, the prussian Heer did not employ tanks in large scale and all their defensive doctrine against enemy armor is based in assault guns and infantry tactics. The tank appeared as a defensive weapon as late as 1943 when Fire Brigades was introduced in german defensive doctrine. Even thought, the Fire Brigade concept is about attempting to fight on favorable terms, hitting and running. That would mean avoiding enemy armor and trying to isolate them from infantry support (crushing enemy infantry). If you want a good example you can analyze Manstein's backhand bow:

    + Castling ----> Armor strength saved.
    + Schwerpunkt -----> Against the deep flank of Group Popov (mostly infantry).
    + Result -----> Soviet armor isolated and destroyed in a 'kessel' (meeting engagement avoided).

    Manstein's Fire Brigade avoided fighting enemy armor until he was sure he would isolate them. Kursk is a completely opposite scenario: the germans intentionaly set up several meeting engagements against soviet armor.

    This is why I think it's a doctrinal issue rather than tactical or strategic.
     
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  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member Patron  

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    Doctrine is all well and good, but you have to fight with what you have. More to the point German armor could be argued was moving towards a 'moving' to a mobile anti tank pillbox platform rather than a breakthough-exploitation vehicle. Even more to the point the concept of Blitzkrieg called for hitting where they ain't, not where they are. Kursk was a classic hit them where they are attack, much like Montgomery's attacks on Caen or Bradley's attack in the Hurtgen Forest..
     
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  3. harolds

    harolds Member

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    I agree belasar. Zitadelle was the antithesis of what the Germans considered proper tactical doctrine. But as was shown in the French campaign, and Porkhrovka, tanks were going to fight tanks sooner or later. Since Germany's enemies had an almost unlimited supply of tanks, the Germans realized that if they were to have any chance at all, they were going to have a better battle tank than the opposition. They needed armor AND a powerful gun so that the could destroy enemy tanks and AT guns while being able to survive being hit. I'm sure you and Jesica realize that as the Germans were in kind of a squeeze. Big,heavy tanks sacrifice mobility but going with something in the order of a German Sherman would entail more vehicle and crew casualties than they could sustain even in the short run.

    Having said that, some of the best example of mobile warfare with heavy tanks were the exploits of Col. Count Strachwitz and his heavy panzer regiment in 1944.

    Of course in 1943 and 44 the Germans were making more turretless tank destroyers such as Stugs and their larger brethren (mobile pill boxes, as you said) not only because they were being forced on the defensive, but because they could make more of them than tanks! Many armee panzer divs had at least as many assault guns as tanks in their TO&E.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    No. Long barreled guns tend to be high velocity guns which means anti armor. If you drive deep behind enemy lines you should be encountering non armored units for the most part and have a chance at flanking armored ones. In that case you either want more rounds or bigger (HE) rounds.
     
  5. Jesica

    Jesica New Member

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    Not if you are going into strategic defensive.
     
  6. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Even if they were on the strategic defensive, they were going to have to counter-attack and this meant tank-on-tank engagements. If they had to break through a defensive crust in order to get at the enemy's armor, that crust was certain to be loaded with AT guns.. The armor and the long barrel allowed them to engage the AT guns at longer ranges, which would be safer for them and then take on the enemy tanks. The Germans knew that in the swirl of battle the tank would come up against different situations that it would be required to master. The high velocity cannon could take out soft targets was well armored ones. Therefore, the later Mk IVs and Panthers were more versatile.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Whether you are going on the strategic defensive or not. The equation holds long barrels = high velocity = armor penetration. As does the lower velocity = better HE potential (shells can be thinner and have a higher portion of HE to shell weight. The Panther main gun for instance was clearly an anti armor weapon. Note the references to it as an "anti tank gun" and its use in the Jagdpanzer IV at:
    7.5 cm KwK 42 - Wikipedia
    I can't seam to find the weight of the filler for it's HE round but comparisons of that to the filler on lower velocity guns and or the standard load out of rounds would probably clarify the situation even more.
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    In Kursk the Ferdinands were Used as first line weapons. Then in the following phase as the northern corridor for Germans Closes above Kursk these monsters or what was left of them on long clear-view sections are claimed to have shot some 500+ Soviet heavier tanks. I guess they were AT long distance or like the germans liked to say the t-34 took off his hat...
     

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