Successful Fall Blau

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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Jan 2021 20:11

thaddeus_c wrote:think they should have stopped in Ukraine, they would control nearly the entire Soviet coal supply,
Ukraine produced 16mil tons of coal in 1944. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_in_U ... oal_mining

Total SU coal production was 121mil tons in '44 so 13% came from Ukraine. To extract that much, SU had to invest in rebuilding infrastructure and relocate some skilled labor from the Asian coalfields (Karaganda, Kuznets Basin). Had Germany retained Ukraine, it's doubtful that Soviet coal production would have fallen by even 10%. The SU would have apportioned more labor and investment to Asian coalfields as compensation.

What most commentators on the war don't realize is that labor was the bottleneck to virtually all Soviet production. For example: Soviet oil production fell 45% in between '41 and '43. Why? Not because 45% came from Maikop. It was mostly a matter of total Soviet resources, including labor for drilling new wells (and for producing drilling equipment, rigs, etc.).

The SU was able to overcome the loss of Donets coal by shifting its labor (mining) resources eastwards, thereby allowing a substitution of Asian coal for Ukrainian. This was possible because, even after losing 60mil to occupation, SU still had a large labor pool.

To beat the SU, Germany had to reduce its labor supply and/or its truly irreplaceable fixed natural assets (i.e. good cropland and oil).
Richard Anderson wrote:Given that insofar as I know the Soviets did not suffer any crippling shortages of domestically produced steel or other coal-power/resource related shortages
Richard Anderson wrote:Do you know of a situation where coal shortages in the Soviet Union had a dire effect?
SU produced less than half as much steel in '42/43 as in 40/41. This directly impacted their ability to produce shells/guns/tanks. A decline in Soviet power generation - and the reliability thereof - had a marked impact on output. For both see Soviet Planning in Peace and War by Harrison.
Richard Anderson wrote:Lack of coal may well have affected residential and office heating, which led to widespread use of wood-fired heating, but that is not critical insofar as I can tell?
Huh? Coal is used in steel-making, electrical generation (powers industries), and transport.

A general quote from Harrison on the importance of coal (i.e. fuels) to overall production:
In 1942 the binding constraints were
no longer the availability of arms capacity but the supply of metals,
fuels, electricity and freight capacity
We can say that these shortages were not "crippling" in the sense the SU survived the war. But they undoubtedly extended the war and made it more costly. The SU did not have infinite capacity to absorb losses of productive potential.

In the particular case of Ukrainian coal, however, its permanent loss is insufficient to have decided victory and defeat. This is especially true as any noticeable shortfall vs. OTL would occur only in 1944 - far too late to be decisive.
Richard Anderson wrote:Except Germany had plenty of coal, which was practically its only abundant resource
There was never enough though. Germany had made big coalfield investments in the Donbas which were to come online in '43 - thus Hitler's refusal to countenance Manstein's backhand defensive strategy in '43. Speer told Hitler the Donbas coal was essential.
History Learner wrote:Okay, now with all that said, what would be the effects of a successful Fall Blau? For one, mass starvation is likely to break out in 1943 within the USSR:
I tend to agree with this conclusion. The cropland of Krasnodar and Rostov Oblasts is probably irreplaceable. The SU can shift production eastwards but - unlike with coal - its labor productivity would suffer immensely on poor Siberian cropland vs. OTL. I tend to disagree with how you get to a successful Blau; KDF33 has made the case sufficiently well so I won't repeat. I'll just note you're not fundamentally changing the force ratios or relative logistical picture (Soviets near supplies, Germans over-extended), so I don't see Ostheer holds the October 42 line.

I've discussed Hunger and War and its implications extensively elsewhere. viewtopic.php?f=76&t=251106&p=2287553&h ... r#p2287553
viewtopic.php?f=76&t=246246&p=2248718&h ... r#p2248718

TL;DR: Even a 5% decline in food supply could have pushed the SU from mild famine into catastrophe.
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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 18 Jan 2021 23:06

History Learner wrote:I'll just note you're not fundamentally changing the force ratios or relative logistical picture (Soviets near supplies, Germans over-extended), so I don't see Ostheer holds the October 42 line.
I would encourage you to develop an alternate timeline discussing the conditions for a successful defense of the Don flank and Caucasus, however. I have serious doubts but it's an interesting question.

I wonder whether an "all-in" strategy in the East could have worked: Hitler moves the reserves eventually committed to Tunisia to the Don, in conjunction with better operational outcomes. Early collapse in North Africa may invite a '43 landing in France, however - especially if the SU is in dire straits. Things look differently in Casablanca in that ATL...

In addition to the Tunisia forces, Hitler might have moved the later-arriving reserves - betting all on holding the Don and leaving France vulnerable.

These kinds of gambles weren't out of character for Hitler but they require a fundamental shift from someone who believes the Soviets are already collapsing in late-summer '42 to someone who believes he needs to risk all on pushing them into collapse.

...such an ATL revision is in line with my general view that one can't properly understand WW2 without foregrounding the strategic underestimation of the SU. This error determined the strength and depth of Barbarossa as well as German strategic moves in 1942.
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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by Richard Anderson » 19 Jan 2021 02:17

thaddeus_c wrote:
18 Jan 2021 19:59
despite the hydroelectric cascade it is my understanding a large percentage of power generation was still coal fired. do not know of any coal shortages the Soviets faced but they also did not have years long loss of their coal producing region of Donets as in my speculation?
Again, I'm not sure what you mean? The Donbass was occupied from the Germans from late 1941 for a total of 22 months, almost two years. So there was a "years long loss".
the Germans did not face more than periodic coal shortages true enough, but their synthetic program was only completed in '43-'44 period, they were unable to deliver coal to other countries, and they had begun a program of producer gas vehicles in '42 for which coal could be used.
What does that have to do with Soviet coal or Soviet coal shortages?
was trying to make the point about Baku region that Germany would have to first fight the Soviets for control, second any expected sabotage, and third they knew of Allied plans for Operation Pike to destroy the oil production to deny any output to Germany.
Indeed. The Germans also attempted to exploit the Donbass mines that had been damaged in the Soviet withdrawal. They sent 1,800 German mining specialists there and employed 90,000 local miners as well as 20,000 Soviet PW in the effort. They would have likely had to do even more to exploit the major Soviet oil regions...if they ever managed to capture them.
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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by thaddeus_c » 20 Jan 2021 13:18

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
18 Jan 2021 20:11
thaddeus_c wrote:think they should have stopped in Ukraine, they would control nearly the entire Soviet coal supply,
Total SU coal production was 121mil tons in '44 so 13% came from Ukraine. To extract that much, SU had to invest in rebuilding infrastructure and relocate some skilled labor from the Asian coalfields (Karaganda, Kuznets Basin). Had Germany retained Ukraine, it's doubtful that Soviet coal production would have fallen by even 10%. The SU would have apportioned more labor and investment to Asian coalfields as compensation.

The SU was able to overcome the loss of Donets coal by shifting its labor (mining) resources eastwards, thereby allowing a substitution of Asian coal for Ukrainian. This was possible because, even after losing 60mil to occupation, SU still had a large labor pool.

To beat the SU, Germany had to reduce its labor supply and/or its truly irreplaceable fixed natural assets (i.e. good cropland and oil).

In the particular case of Ukrainian coal, however, its permanent loss is insufficient to have decided victory and defeat. This is especially true as any noticeable shortfall vs. OTL would occur only in 1944 - far too late to be decisive.
what my reference from JSTOR Soviet coal production since the war https://www.jstor.org/stable/40392380?seq=1 has Germany holding 60% of the coal reserves.

but nonetheless you are correct, the 87% figure I had rapidly became outdated.

still think the detour into the Caucasus, division of their forces led directly to losses at Stalingrad?

maybe a less chaotic scenario the LW could have interdicted traffic on the Volga and they could have fended off Soviet attacks, capturing numbers as they did previously?

at any rate they would seem able to prolong occupation of the Ukraine farmlands for longer than historical?

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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 20 Jan 2021 13:50

thaddeus_c wrote:what my reference from JSTOR Soviet coal production since the war https://www.jstor.org/stable/40392380?seq=1 has Germany holding 60% of the coal reserves.
Well there's huge difference between reserves and production even were that true (I note your source is from 1951 - Stalinist era Soviet stats for international publication are always suspect). Production was shifted between various geographical sources throughout the war.
thaddeus_c wrote:at any rate they would seem able to prolong occupation of the Ukraine farmlands for longer than historical?
Depending on background ATL conditions, sure. But again is it decisive? SU was able to endure the low-level famine conditions caused by loss of Ukraine anyway.
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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by thaddeus_c » 21 Jan 2021 10:50

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
18 Jan 2021 23:06
I wonder whether an "all-in" strategy in the East could have worked: Hitler moves the reserves eventually committed to Tunisia to the Don, in conjunction with better operational outcomes. Early collapse in North Africa may invite a '43 landing in France, however - especially if the SU is in dire straits.
always view it as a huge error for the DAK to be on the offensive and lost at Second Battle of El-Alamein, that those German forces could have been sent to Tunisia?

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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by History Learner » 29 Jan 2021 03:32

KDF33 wrote:
17 Jan 2021 07:41

Yes, well Glantz knows a lot more about the Soviet side of the war than the German. On 31st August, XIV. Panzerkorps was engaged in fighting within a narrow corridor to the north of Stalingrad. Given the speed at which Shumilov disengaged his units, there is simply no way for Paulus to take his mobile units out of the line and rush them south to maybe bag... at best the effective equivalent of 5-6 depleted rifle divisions.

Besides, 3 days prior the XIV. Panzerkorps was cut off from the rest of the 6. Armee in a pocket on the Volga. I'd say Paulus was right to be cautious.
Paulus was overcautious; the Germans had control of the commanding hills in the Kotluban, which enabled them a strong defensive position as well as to conduct ample artillery and air strikes against the Soviets. Glantz classifies these Soviet attacks as near suicidal, which they were as evidenced by the hundreds of casualties sustained for very little gain.

Although I do not have access to the particular Glantz book cited earlier, I do have my own copy of When Titans Clashed to quote from concerning the effects of this:
Potentially, the defenders could draw on much larger supplies of men and munitions. Using boats and barges, the Stalingrad Front ferried troops across the Volga at night despite frequent German artillery attack. Once again, the Stavka policy of maintaining large operational and strategic reserves allowed the Soviets to absorb a German offensive, albeit at enormous human cost. Between 14 September and 26 October, Chuikov received nine rifle divisions, a naval infantry brigade, and two tank brigades as reinforcements. Eventually, he began to send back the cadres of veteran units to be filled up with individual replacements rather than blooding completely new units.39 Despite these reinforcements, the attrition was so high that the strengthof 62nd Army rarely exceeded 55,000 men. Deliberately or otherwise, the Stavka and a series of front commanders gave the defenders just enough replacements and ammunition to keep Sixth Army locked in a death struggle.

This struggle required incredible endurance and improvisation on both sides. Early in the battle, Chuikov realized that he had to neutralize the German superiority in airpower and artillery. He directed his troops to “hug” the enemy; that is, to remain so closely engaged that the Germans could not use air strikes without endangering their own men. For weeks on end, small groups of Red Army infantrymen and combat engineers operated so close to their opponents that often only a single street or even a single wall separated them. Deadly battles of search and ambush were fought out at ranges measured in meters. Nonetheless, the Germans slowly forced their opponents back. By late September, Paulus, relying on his remaining armor to overwhelm the defenders, had succeeded in clearing the southern two-thirds of the city. A month later, the front lines were only 200 meters from the landing docks along the river, even as Chuikov’s men held on grimly to the factory district in the northern part of the city. Rifle divisions lost as much as 90 percent of their strength.
KDF33 wrote:
17 Jan 2021 07:46
History Learner wrote:
17 Jan 2021 07:34
For one, I think you're really misunderstanding Forcyk; he's not advocating a lesser advance, he's advocating for III Panzerkorps and the LVII Panzerkorps to be used as part of the push on Grozny, not used in the Taupse Diversion.
Well, yes, that is my point: this means sending the mobile units on an unsupported advance far to the east.

Looking at the Soviet Orbat in the Grozny-Makhachkala direction, how are five German mobile divisions supposed to collapse the Soviet front and sever the railway connection to Astrakhan?
I'm not sure why you're taking the position it's unsupported or that this constitutes an issue? German mobile doctrine, both in 1940 and 1941, basically was to insert the mobile units in deep advances to disrupt their enemy. In terms of support, besides integrated infantry elements, you also have several additional infantry divisions, if I have my ORBATs right.

As for the effects, one has to ask how they can't given that they historically achieved this:
Von Kleist realized that time was running out and he decided to try and get across the Terek River with the forces available. The 3.Panzer-Division managed to seize Mozdok on the northern side of the Terek on 25 August, but efforts to cross the wide river were repulsed. On the morning of 26 August, Generalmajor Erwin Mack, commander of the 23.Panzer-Division, and one of his battalion commanders, was killed by Soviet mortar fire while observing operations along the Terek. The river proved too wide, deep and fast-flowing to cross under fire and von Kleist was stymied. In desperation, Oberst Erpo Freiherr von Bodenhausen, commander of the 23.Panzergrenadier Brigade, was selected to lead a mixed armoured kampfgruppe toward Chervlennaya on the north side of the Terek, where the junction of the Baku-Astrakhan rail line ran. Von Bodenhausen succeeded in reaching the rail junction on 31 August – only 27km from Grozny – and briefly interrupted Soviet rail traffic from Baku (still 490 km distant), but his force was too small to hold this exposed position and he fell back toward the main body.
Even with a weak force, the Germans managed to cut the railway and come within 27km of Grozny with forward elements. With the addition of two corps, the logistics historically used to support said force and, finally, weaker Soviet forces in early August, how exactly can't the Germans close the remaining distance to Grozny and continue to block the Baku-Astrahkhan Railway?

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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by History Learner » 29 Jan 2021 03:40

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
18 Jan 2021 23:06
I would encourage you to develop an alternate timeline discussing the conditions for a successful defense of the Don flank and Caucasus, however. I have serious doubts but it's an interesting question.

I wonder whether an "all-in" strategy in the East could have worked: Hitler moves the reserves eventually committed to Tunisia to the Don, in conjunction with better operational outcomes. Early collapse in North Africa may invite a '43 landing in France, however - especially if the SU is in dire straits. Things look differently in Casablanca in that ATL...

In addition to the Tunisia forces, Hitler might have moved the later-arriving reserves - betting all on holding the Don and leaving France vulnerable.

These kinds of gambles weren't out of character for Hitler but they require a fundamental shift from someone who believes the Soviets are already collapsing in late-summer '42 to someone who believes he needs to risk all on pushing them into collapse.

...such an ATL revision is in line with my general view that one can't properly understand WW2 without foregrounding the strategic underestimation of the SU. This error determined the strength and depth of Barbarossa as well as German strategic moves in 1942.
The Don Flank is easy; if Stalingrad is secured in September/early October, than 6th Army is free to divert armor to clean up the RKKA's brigdeheads over the Don. IOTL, Swick noted the Romanians repulsed Soviet offensives until November, so a German riposte with relatively fresh armor after one of these would be a good move and likely to work against their exhausted opponents. Without said bridgeheads, any attack that winter is pretty much impossible because the Don didn't freeze sufficiently. 4th Panzer would also be free to focus on 51st and 57th Armies south of the city. Both Uranus and Saturn are rendered impossible, which means Army Group A is secure in the Caucasus.

With regards to the coal situation, the Donbass contributed 21.1 million tons out of 121.5, or 17%.
Last edited by History Learner on 29 Jan 2021 03:57, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by History Learner » 29 Jan 2021 03:51

Richard Anderson wrote:
17 Jan 2021 17:52
Unfortunately coal and food were not critical to the Soviets so long as the Lend-Lease routes remained open.

Not losing the 6. Armee in Stalingrad delays the inevitable if the Germans go over to the defensive in the east. The Soviets retain an overall superiority and can develop local superiority at pretty much at will along the front, which is too long for the Germans to adequately defend. The role of the Western Allies would have greater importance earlier in such a scenario, but the outcome is unlikely to change.

Nor do I see the opportunistic and essentially offensive-focused Hitler, FHQ, OKH, and OKW sitting back on their heels on the defensive for long.
Lend Lease was maxed out in 1943 and even with the recovery of vast cropland, Soviet food rations were pushed to their lowest level in the war and as low as they could possible go. Without food or manpower, the USSR is done and in 1943 the Germans can utilize this weakness to probably take Astrakhan as well as Baku.

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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by Futurist » 29 Jan 2021 08:12

History Learner wrote:
29 Jan 2021 03:51
Richard Anderson wrote:
17 Jan 2021 17:52
Unfortunately coal and food were not critical to the Soviets so long as the Lend-Lease routes remained open.

Not losing the 6. Armee in Stalingrad delays the inevitable if the Germans go over to the defensive in the east. The Soviets retain an overall superiority and can develop local superiority at pretty much at will along the front, which is too long for the Germans to adequately defend. The role of the Western Allies would have greater importance earlier in such a scenario, but the outcome is unlikely to change.

Nor do I see the opportunistic and essentially offensive-focused Hitler, FHQ, OKH, and OKW sitting back on their heels on the defensive for long.
Lend Lease was maxed out in 1943 and even with the recovery of vast cropland, Soviet food rations were pushed to their lowest level in the war and as low as they could possible go. Without food or manpower, the USSR is done and in 1943 the Germans can utilize this weakness to probably take Astrakhan as well as Baku.
What's your source for Lend Lease being maxed out in 1943? Also, in regards to manpower, theoretically speaking, the Anglo-Americans could send some of their own troops to the Eastern Front to help the Soviet Union fight the Nazis--assuming that Stalin would have actually been okay with this, and he might have very well been if the alternative to this is outright losing the war.

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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by KDF33 » 29 Jan 2021 20:52

History Learner wrote:
29 Jan 2021 03:32
Paulus was overcautious; the Germans had control of the commanding hills in the Kotluban, which enabled them a strong defensive position as well as to conduct ample artillery and air strikes against the Soviets.
Indeed they did. With 60. and 3. ID, which you propose to pull out of this "strong defensive position" and redeploy back to Karpovka.
History Learner wrote:
29 Jan 2021 03:32
Glantz classifies these Soviet attacks as near suicidal, which they were as evidenced by the hundreds of casualties sustained for very little gain.
By that standard, virtually every Soviet offensive of the war before Uran is "suicidal".
History Learner wrote:
29 Jan 2021 03:32
Although I do not have access to the particular Glantz book cited earlier, I do have my own copy of When Titans Clashed to quote from concerning the effects of this:
This refers to the fighting for the city, in September. Not sure how it relates to your argument?
History Learner wrote:
29 Jan 2021 03:32
I'm not sure why you're taking the position it's unsupported or that this constitutes an issue? German mobile doctrine, both in 1940 and 1941, basically was to insert the mobile units in deep advances to disrupt their enemy. In terms of support, besides integrated infantry elements, you also have several additional infantry divisions, if I have my ORBATs right.
On August 10th, here is where the non-motorized divisions of Heeresgruppe A are:

V. Armeekorps with 9., 73., 125. and 198. Infanterie is at Krasnodar, 343 km from Pyatigorsk. For reference, the distance between Rostov and Krasnodar is just 252 km.

XXXXIX. Gebirgskorps with 1., 2. (Romanian) and 4. Gebirgs is at Kropotkin, 251 km from Pyatigorsk.

XXXXIV. Armeekorps with 97. and 101. Jäger is to the West of Armavir, so more than 200 km from Pyatigorsk.

Finally, LII. Armeekorps with 111. and 370. Infanterie is at Salsk, 294 km from Pyatigorsk. The LII. Armeekorps and its two divisions, by the way, is the infantry force that eventually joined up with Kleist's Panzers... in the last week of August.

Otherwise, all you have besides the two Panzer divisions at Pyatigorsk is one extra Panzer (13.) and 3 motorized divisions (SS-W, 1. Slovak and 16. Infanterie) around Maykop. As your own source mentions, the railway connection down to Pyatigorsk isn't repaired until 18 August.

You are List. What do you do? A mad dash to the Caspian Sea with 6 mobile divisions, widening the chasm that exists between them and the supporting IDs, hoping that whatever supplies you can cobble together and carry by long-distance truck columns and Ju 52 flights will carry the day?

Or...

You consolidate, restore railway connections, build-up your supplies and in the meantime use available units to lunge at short-distance targets?
History Learner wrote:
29 Jan 2021 03:32
As for the effects, one has to ask how they can't given that they historically achieved this:
They "achieved" to briefly occupy an indefensible position with a Kampfgruppe... a full 19 days after List's supposed diversion, and 13 days after the rail connection had been restored to where XXXX. Panzerkorps was on August 10.
History Learner wrote:
29 Jan 2021 03:32
Even with a weak force, the Germans managed to cut the railway and come within 27km of Grozny with forward elements. With the addition of two corps, the logistics historically used to support said force and, finally, weaker Soviet forces in early August, how exactly can't the Germans close the remaining distance to Grozny and continue to block the Baku-Astrahkhan Railway?
On August 10, Kleist's spearhead is composed of the 3. and 23. Panzer.

On August 31st, Kleist's spearhead is composed of the 3., 13. and 23. Panzer, the 111. and 370. Infanterie, and the 2. Gebirgs (Romanian).

In your proposed scenario, you substitute SS-W, 1. Slovak and 16. Infanterie for the two German infantry divisions and the Romanian mountain division. You leave your long flank along the Caucasus mountains exposed, you widen the gap with the marching infantry units, and you attack with no close railhead and a terrible supply chain.

How can you expect a better outcome?

Also, this:
History Learner wrote:
29 Jan 2021 03:32
(...) weaker Soviet forces in early August (...).
Two things.

1. You don't attack in early August. By rushing everything and ignoring supply issues to a level unmatched by any other known German operation of the war, you might attack with your mobile force somewhere around mid-August.

2. Why do you assume that the Soviet force you face is weaker then?

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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by History Learner » 01 Feb 2021 08:13

KDF33 wrote:
29 Jan 2021 20:52
Indeed they did. With 60. and 3. ID, which you propose to pull out of this "strong defensive position" and redeploy back to Karpovka.
I'm not sure how you came to this idea, because XXIV Panzer Corps is 377th Infantry Division, 9th Panzer Division, and 3rd Motorized Division. 60th and 3rd aren't even in said Corps.
By that standard, virtually every Soviet offensive of the war before Uran is "suicidal".
The Germans were literally entrenched on the commanding heights, which allowed them to call in artillery and air strikes upon the advancing Red Army forces moving in frontal attacks across the open steppe. If they survived that, what was left of them then had to assualt uphill the fortified German positions. Can you point to any comparable examples in 1942, or 1941?
This refers to the fighting for the city, in September. Not sure how it relates to your argument?
Even without said encirclement, the Germans had taken two thirds of the city by the end of the September. Can you honestly claim that the encirclement and destruction of much of 62nd and 64th Armies would not have a material impact in significantly moving up their timetable of advance?
On August 10th, here is where the non-motorized divisions of Heeresgruppe A are:

V. Armeekorps with 9., 73., 125. and 198. Infanterie is at Krasnodar, 343 km from Pyatigorsk. For reference, the distance between Rostov and Krasnodar is just 252 km.

XXXXIX. Gebirgskorps with 1., 2. (Romanian) and 4. Gebirgs is at Kropotkin, 251 km from Pyatigorsk.

XXXXIV. Armeekorps with 97. and 101. Jäger is to the West of Armavir, so more than 200 km from Pyatigorsk.

Finally, LII. Armeekorps with 111. and 370. Infanterie is at Salsk, 294 km from Pyatigorsk. The LII. Armeekorps and its two divisions, by the way, is the infantry force that eventually joined up with Kleist's Panzers... in the last week of August.

Otherwise, all you have besides the two Panzer divisions at Pyatigorsk is one extra Panzer (13.) and 3 motorized divisions (SS-W, 1. Slovak and 16. Infanterie) around Maykop. As your own source mentions, the railway connection down to Pyatigorsk isn't repaired until 18 August.

You are List. What do you do? A mad dash to the Caspian Sea with 6 mobile divisions, widening the chasm that exists between them and the supporting IDs, hoping that whatever supplies you can cobble together and carry by long-distance truck columns and Ju 52 flights will carry the day?

Or...

You consolidate, restore railway connections, build-up your supplies and in the meantime use available units to lunge at short-distance targets?
Except neither of us is List, and we have the benefit of hindsight to review the historical record as well as the relevant sources for what the key players were thinking.
They "achieved" to briefly occupy an indefensible position with a Kampfgruppe... a full 19 days after List's supposed diversion, and 13 days after the rail connection had been restored to where XXXX. Panzerkorps was on August 10.
Which is exactly the point, even with the limited resources at hand they got within 25km of Grozny and briefly interdicted the Baku Railway. Can you make the case the Soviets could stop them from achieving this with more resources, in particular with, as you've already noted, less prepared forces?
On August 10, Kleist's spearhead is composed of the 3. and 23. Panzer.

On August 31st, Kleist's spearhead is composed of the 3., 13. and 23. Panzer, the 111. and 370. Infanterie, and the 2. Gebirgs (Romanian).

In your proposed scenario, you substitute SS-W, 1. Slovak and 16. Infanterie for the two German infantry divisions and the Romanian mountain division. You leave your long flank along the Caucasus mountains exposed, you widen the gap with the marching infantry units, and you attack with no close railhead and a terrible supply chain.

How can you expect a better outcome?
Except we're not substituting, we're saying those two Corps stay with Kleist instead of being taken from him? Said flank rests on a mountain with Soviet forces there effectively out of supply and already battered from the fighting, so they are of no real risk ad evidenced by their lack of effective action for the rest of the campaign. Indeed, as far as logistics go, was truck and Ju-52 not how much of the OTL drive to the Taupse supported?
Also, this:

Two things.

1. You don't attack in early August. By rushing everything and ignoring supply issues to a level unmatched by any other known German operation of the war, you might attack with your mobile force somewhere around mid-August.

2. Why do you assume that the Soviet force you face is weaker then?
[/quote]

Well,

1. Is this really ignoring supply levels to an extreme margin? I don't see it, particularly given the historical assets that supported the diversion are still there and indeed, with the situation with Army Group B better, that frees up a large amount of Ju-52s to further support AG-A.

2. You've already conceded that the Soviet forces in mid August were slightly weaker than late August. If late August couldn't stop a significantly weaker German drive, how can the same or even slightly less Soviet force support a significantly reinforced German drive?

History Learner
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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by History Learner » 01 Feb 2021 08:17

Futurist wrote:
29 Jan 2021 08:12
What's your source for Lend Lease being maxed out in 1943? Also, in regards to manpower, theoretically speaking, the Anglo-Americans could send some of their own troops to the Eastern Front to help the Soviet Union fight the Nazis--assuming that Stalin would have actually been okay with this, and he might have very well been if the alternative to this is outright losing the war.
Available shipping, port capacity of Soviet harbors and their internal railway network basically were at the maximum. In terms of the Anglo-Americans sending forces, besides the political element, that is also finite; the U.S. is running the 90 Division gamble and the UK was having to start disbanding units in 1943. Place said resources in the Russian steppe to fight the Germans means they aren't there in North Africa, or Italy, or against Japan, etc.

KDF33
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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by KDF33 » 02 Feb 2021 04:32

History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
I'm not sure how you came to this idea, because XXIV Panzer Corps is 377th Infantry Division, 9th Panzer Division, and 3rd Motorized Division. 60th and 3rd aren't even in said Corps.
We are discussing XIV. Panzerkorps. On 31 August, XXIV. Panzerkorps was with the Hungarian 2nd Army. It also most definitely did not comprise 3. and 377. Infanterie, nor 9. Panzer.

3. Infanterie-Division (mot.) is the same as "3rd Motorized". It was with XIV. Panzerkorps on 31 August.
History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
The Germans were literally entrenched on the commanding heights, which allowed them to call in artillery and air strikes upon the advancing Red Army forces moving in frontal attacks across the open steppe. If they survived that, what was left of them then had to assualt uphill the fortified German positions. Can you point to any comparable examples in 1942, or 1941?
Crimea. Any of the fruitless Soviet pushes against the Don flank before Uran. Rzhev.
History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
Even without said encirclement, the Germans had taken two thirds of the city by the end of the September. Can you honestly claim that the encirclement and destruction of much of 62nd and 64th Armies would not have a material impact in significantly moving up their timetable of advance?
Well, (1) you have yet to demonstrate how realistic your proposed encirclement is, and (2) even if successful, it wouldn't amount to "much" of the 62nd and 64th armies.

It would destroy:

4 out of 18 rifle divisions
1 out of 5 rifle brigades
1 out of 2 fortified regions
2 out of 6 cadet schools (used as infantry)
1 out of 2 motor rifle brigades

A further 1 tank destroyer brigade, 3 tank corps and 1 tank brigade would be left untouched.

All told, we're talking ~20% of 62nd and 64th armies' much-depleted strength. The Soviets could feed a few spare rifle divisions to the battle for the city and make up such losses.

The fault with Blau was strategic, not operational. The search for an operational solution to a strategic overreach is a fool's errand.
History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
Except neither of us is List, and we have the benefit of hindsight to review the historical record as well as the relevant sources for what the key players were thinking.
Indeed. The benefit of hindsight allows us to see plainly how Blau was hopeless for Germany.
History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
Which is exactly the point, even with the limited resources at hand they got within 25km of Grozny and briefly interdicted the Baku Railway.
Which, in the grand scheme of things, amounted to nothing.
History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
Can you make the case the Soviets could stop them from achieving this with more resources, in particular with, as you've already noted, less prepared forces?
Getting to 25 km of Grozny and interdicting the Astrakhan railway for a few hours? Sure, with extreme focus the Germans could probably do it somewhat a bit faster. Thing is, to win the campaign they need to destroy the Soviets in the Caucasus. None of this brings them any closer to that goal.

Also, again, I don't see how your ATL gives Kleist "extra resources". You propose using the same number of divisions as the historical push - 6. It's just that 3 of those are different formations.
History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
Except we're not substituting, we're saying those two Corps stay with Kleist instead of being taken from him?
Yes, which gives us the following OTL offensive / ATL offensive deployment:

3. Panzer-Division / Same
13. Panzer-Division / Same
23. Panzer-Division / Same
2. Gebirgs-Division (Romanian) / 1. Infanterie-Division (mot.) (Slovakian)
111. Infanterie-Division / 16. Infanterie-Division (mot.)
370. Infanterie-Division / SS-Division "Wiking"
History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
Said flank rests on a mountain with Soviet forces there effectively out of supply and already battered from the fighting
Those forces obviously were combat-capable, given that they checked the German advance on Tuapse. They could also - indeed were - reinforced from the Transcaucasus.
History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
so they are of no real risk ad evidenced by their lack of effective action for the rest of the campaign.
They checked a German effort as significant as the one aimed at Grozny. Indeed, in terms of the absolute number of divisions committed, there were more German and satellite units deployed on the Tuapse than on the Grozny axis for the duration of the campaign.
History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
Indeed, as far as logistics go, was truck and Ju-52 not how much of the OTL drive to the Taupse supported?
The German advance was supported by the Armavir-Tuapse railway. This, by the way, is the reason List committed strong forces to the Tuapse direction: if left unchecked, the Soviets could use to railway to supply an attack toward the rear of the German advance on the Caspian, the latter of which was itself completely dependent on the one line running from Kropotkin.
History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
1. Is this really ignoring supply levels to an extreme margin? I don't see it, particularly given the historical assets that supported the diversion are still there and indeed, with the situation with Army Group B better, that frees up a large amount of Ju-52s to further support AG-A.
There is no operational railway to Pyatigorsk until August 18.

Also, how is Heeresgruppe B faring better?
History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
2. You've already conceded that the Soviet forces in mid August were slightly weaker than late August.
Specifically, I wrote that, at best, Soviet positions might have been somewhat less prepared, but manned with effectively the same units as in early September.
History Learner wrote:
01 Feb 2021 08:13
If late August couldn't stop a significantly weaker German drive, how can the same or even slightly less Soviet force support a significantly reinforced German drive?
Again, your German drive is not significantly reinforced. It's still 6 divisions.

Second, the Soviets most definitely stopped the German advance in late August.

historygeek2021
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Re: Successful Fall Blau

Post by historygeek2021 » 02 Feb 2021 21:55

Hitler left forces behind in the Caucasus until late 1943 in order to occupy the most productive agricultural region, the Kuban. He was hoping to starve the Soviet Union, and much of the hunger issues in the Soviet Union in 1943 and 1944 were due to the German occupation of the Kuban.

What additional agricultural land do you see Germany occupying in your ATL, and what would be the marginal effect of the deprivation of this land to the Soviet Union?

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