Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 24 Apr 2021 09:26

KDF33 wrote:which compares to 3,203,400 men conscripted from the new age classes of 1925-7.
Thanks, Art always has the best cites on SU.

The '42-'43 numbers are revealing, with RKKA taking every 17/18yo it could get, leaving almost nothing for later drafts.

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What do we think of the Schadenko report's casualty figures as of 1.9.42? 4.92mil MIA+KIA? Ostheer had claimed ~4mil PoW by then. And we know that RKKA found 937k men in liberated territory for re-enlistment who were previously MIA (most just walked home, probably all claimed to have joined the partisans). [Cite given by Lopukhovsky: Russia and the USSR in Wars of the 20th Century, 2001, p. 237, Table 120.] Most of these would have "de-enlisted" by September '42. Even assuming some of the Ostheer PoW were non-RKKA personnel that would fall under "lost on enemy territory" (e.g. fortification-diggers overrun during construction), there's little room for KIA in Schadenko's figure.

2mil KIA would be a conservative estimate by Sept 42. I've previously brought up GKO's decree on locating "dead souls," which implies internal recognition of a KIA error perhaps as large as 1mil. Maybe RKKA's manpower reserves were lower than even it thought at this time...

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On the issue of SU surviving an ATL '42 which it enters with 2mil fewer men, possible emergency measures:
  • 1. Shrink the absolute and relative size of the internal military districts.
  • 2. Strip "operating fronts" facing Japan and Turkey.
  • 3. Mothball the navy.
  • 4. Largely stop producing aircraft, scream at W.allies for them (negligible shipping cost for delivery).
Taking all these measures together, the German-facing field army might be the same size as OTL in Spring 42. #1 means very little training and regeneration ability, #2 is a big risk, #3 also a risk re Japan and control of the Black Sea, #4 faith-based.

Nonetheless, I could see RKKA doing nearly as well as OTL with these measures until Fall '42 when lower force generation starts to bite (assuming no Japanese attack). Ostheer holds the Blaulands and SU is desperate but still alive by Spring '43. In that condition, I could see FDR moving heaven and earth to put a few million men in France in Spring '43: Casablanca goes much differently absent clear Soviet dominance over Germany. I'm talking complete embargo on troop movements to Pacific, recall of landing craft and even of divisions from there. If ROUNDUP happens in Spring '43 then Ostheer perhaps can't deliver SU the coup de grace. Then it's perhaps a question of whether SU starves out in '43, absent the Blaulands.

Again not a rigorous analysis, just an outline of possibilities.
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by KDF33 » 25 Apr 2021 03:59

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
24 Apr 2021 09:26
Thanks, Art always has the best cites on SU.

The '42-'43 numbers are revealing, with RKKA taking every 17/18yo it could get, leaving almost nothing for later drafts.
Yes. Despite the impression that Germany suffered worse manpower difficulties than the USSR, it is noteworthy that the latter mobilized its younger age classes earlier during the mid-war period:
  • Class of 1924: Soviets draft it on 07/26/1942, when it would be roughly evenly divided between 18 and 17 y-o. Germans draft theirs on 10/15/1942, when the majority would be 18.
  • Class of 1925: Soviets draft it on 12/20/1942, when almost all of them would be 17 y-o, with a sliver being 16. Germans draft theirs in May 1943, when about half would be 18 y-o, the other half 17.
  • Class of 1926: Soviets draft it on 10/13/1943, when most would be 17 y-o, with a substantial minority being 16. Germans draft theirs in December 1943, when almost all would be 17.
  • Class of 1927: Soviets draft it on 10/25/1944, when they would be of a similar age as that of 1926 one year prior. Germans this time draft theirs earlier, in July 1944 after Bagration, so half-and-half 17 and 16 y-o.
  • Class of 1928: Soviets don't draft theirs. German draft is at the end of 1944, when most would be 16 y-o and a sliver 15.
  • Class of 1929: Soviets don't draft theirs. German draft is at the end of March 1945, when most would be 15.
The Germans only pass the Soviets in terms of 'early' call-ups during the summer of 1944, when they hemorrhage troops East and West. By the end of the year they're effectively drafting child soldiers.

The Soviets never reach that point, but up until summer 1944 they're in fact drafting their age classes earlier.

Sources for Soviets and Germans.

And yes, Art is the best.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
24 Apr 2021 09:26
What do we think of the Schadenko report's casualty figures as of 1.9.42?
Reported irrecoverable losses fit with Krivosheev's figures, i.e. they're missing unregistered MIAs.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
24 Apr 2021 09:26
Maybe RKKA's manpower reserves were lower than even it thought at this time...
IMO, it's probably the other way around, with the error being in the the overall pre-war manpower estimate, and/or some manpower classified as lost behind occupation is in fact unregistered casualties.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
24 Apr 2021 09:26
On the issue of SU surviving an ATL '42 which it enters with 2mil fewer men, possible emergency measures:
IMO, stripping the Far East too much would inevitably lead to a Japanese attack. Historically, manpower facing Japan still shrunk by ~100,000 men in the summer of 1942, something which hadn't occurred in 1941, bad history notwithstanding. Forces facing Turkey in the Caucasus, as well as those occupying Iran, had no more than ~100,000 men by fall 1942. The Soviet Navy was also cut by ~20% in 1942.

I'm not saying the Soviets couldn't do more, but as things happened, they were already tapping into those sources of manpower to sustain the front in 1942.

The idea of shelving aircraft production is intriguing. I get that planes are comparatively light, but wouldn't they still take significant shipping space?

Overall, I'm skeptical of scenarios where emergency measures quickly provide the Soviets with more than a couple hundreds of thousands of additional soldiers.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by History Learner » 25 Apr 2021 05:17

One thing to consider about the Soviet navy: how much of it would be lost anyway given the loss of the Baltic Fleet with the loss of Leningrad? Same for the Black Sea Fleet with Sevastopol, given many of those sailors were impressed into ground infantry anyway. One other thing to note is that Soviet submarines sunk something like 80,000 tons of German shipping in the Baltic in 1942. As for Lend Lease, Iran isn't ready as a route in 1942 while the loss of Leningrad enables a joint Finnish-AGN effort against Murmansk. The loss of Moscow and stripping forces definitely will also trigger the IJA into attacking.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 25 Apr 2021 10:52

KDF33 wrote:The idea of shelving aircraft production is intriguing. I get that planes are comparatively light, but wouldn't they still take significant shipping space?
I was thinking ALSIB but spooled up earlier if possible. If not possible, then the air ferry route to the mideast, continued onwards to SU. Probably still need to ship spares. It's expensive in fuel and flight crews but, as on-hand shipping capacity could be the bottleneck to winning or losing the ATL war, would be worth it.

I said upthread the idea is "faith-based," meaning two senses: (1) Soviet trust in W.Allies to deliver the planes, else they're aerially defenseless. (2) lack of hard proof that such a course was feasible. Ultimately I have faith that FDR was deeply committed to beating Hitler and, had different circumstances appeared, would have behaved differently. Push to shove, he would have imperiled his political career to win the war, were winning feasible.

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The other possible fork is a desperate Stalin repeating his 1941 offer to allow Allied troops on Soviet turf. Maybe this gets FDR and Churchill to agree an expeditionary force to Murmansk combined with landings in northern Norway. Doing so probably requires weakening the Pacific Fleet significantly. Once achieved - probably feasible given appropriate political conditions - the LL pipeline has much greater capacity than via Persia and Vladivostok.

With a large W.Allied force ashore in Murmansk, Finland can probably be flipped or at least neutralized - can't see Finns shooting at America/Britain for long. With LL capacity enhanced, Stalin can pull more workers out of the economy and feasibly hold east of the A-A line without inviting Japanese attack.

Massive potential swing in Battle of Atlantic: Norway move draws most Uboats to it, where they have less favorable results amidst dense air and escort coverage. That plus Atlantic focus could mean massively ameliorated losses to Operation Drumbeat, the biggest Axis naval victory of the war. Having ~2mil more tons of shipping in '42 juices the Norway move and its LL implications, and makes '43 ROUNDUP significantly easier.

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Because someone will bring this up later - no I don't see this being feasible in my primary ATL. SU is too far gone to stop Germany east of the Urals in that ATL; a heavily-resourced W.Allied Hail Mary to save her would be a futile sacrifice.
History Learner wrote:One thing to consider about the Soviet navy: how much of it would be lost anyway given the loss of the Baltic Fleet with the loss of Leningrad?
Good point. Not sure on the manpower stats; must have been at least a quarter?
History Learner wrote:the loss of Leningrad enables a joint Finnish-AGN effort against Murmansk
This is a pivotal issue, including re the Norway option. Not deeply read on this but the direct attack on Murmansk seems entirely a matter of logistics. I.e. Germany/Finland couldn't have mounted a bigger effort unless/until they put serious investment into ground communications over Finland. Especially true for winter '41-'42, given the northern Baltic is frozen. Looong truck haul through tundra from southern Finland, German shipping capacity in Arctic limited.

Cutting the Murmansk railway farther south is a more realistic threat. While I do believe there's a point where German victory looks so secure that American displeasure becomes irrelevant to Ryti et. al. in stopping Mannherheim west of Belomorsk, I'm not sure this ATL reaches that point. If Ryti still stops Mannerheim, can he refuse permission to AGN drive on Belomorsk by units freed from Leningrad?

Even if Axis cuts the rail line that winter, a W.Allied move against Norway/Murmansk would still be feasible - could move south down the railway and, in the spring/summer, use the White Sea ports (Kandalashka). Thereby free Belomorsk and the whole railway (and feasibly flip the Finns by then, especially if Stalin agrees revision to Winter War terms).
KDF33 wrote:IMO, stripping the Far East too much would inevitably lead to a Japanese attack.
Yeah don't want to overdo it.
KDF33 wrote:Class of 1927: Soviets draft it on 10/25/1944
Odd how it's all-at-once. Some 16yo's could kick my ass and some look like 12yo's. Seems like individualized assessment is needed.
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by historygeek2021 » 26 Apr 2021 05:14

Some wisdom from David Glantz:
The decision to strike at Soviet forces around Kiev was conditioned by three real-
ities: heavy Soviet resistance at Smolensk, where the Red Army had committed four
fresh reserve armies to combat (29th, 30th, 24th, 28th); prospects for continued
heavy resistance on the road to Moscow (where, in actuality, five more armies –
31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th, and 43rd – were deploying, and two others – 9th and 50th –
were forming); and the lucrative target of Soviet forces in the Kiev-Gomel area,
which, if not dealt with, could pose a threat to Army Group Center's right flank. In
retrospect, the wisdom of the German drive southward hinges on the question of
what could the Germans have accomplished in a late August thrust to Moscow. As
it was, the ensuing Kiev operation, because of Stalin's refusal to permit the South-
western Front to withdraw from the Kiev trap, cost the Soviets over 600,000 men
and opened the southern Soviet Union for a subsequent broad-front German
advance.¹²
Had the Germans commenced an advance on Moscow in late August, they
would have had to contend with these facts. First, their estimates of Soviet military
strength were still too low. German intelligence had detected some, but not all, of
the Soviet reserve armies between Smolensk and Moscow, but they had no inkling
of the fact that additional reserves were available for commitment in the fall of
1941. Most German commanders were simply too optimistic to develop a realistic
view.¹³ Second, German casualties by late August exceeded 650,000 men, or
roughly 20 percent of their original
3.4 million man attack force. Panzer divisions were severely worn down (to
roughly 50 percent strength), and casualties had reduced overall German strength
to an equivalent of about 83 divisions.¹⁴ These depleted forces would have to have
contended with over 200 Soviet divisions (in the German estimate) and an actual
figure closer to 300. Third, had the Germans marched directly on Moscow, they
would have left a sizeable Soviet force on their right (southern) flank in the form of
the Soviet Central Front. Experiences in the Rogachev area in July and in January
1942 west of Moscow demonstrated the seriousness of the flank threat.
From If the Allies Had Fallen: Sixty Alternate Scenarios of World War II, edited by David Showalter and Howard Deutsch, page 166.

Glantz concludes that even if Germany had successfully taken Moscow in 1941, the rest of the war would have played out the same as in the OTL.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Apr 2021 10:20

HistoryGeek2021 wrote:Glantz concludes that even if Germany had successfully taken Moscow in 1941, the rest of the war would have played out the same as in the OTL.
We've been having a good discussion, would be unfortunate to fall back on letting others do our thinking for us.

Glantz says a few things I agree with, a few things I don't. Virtually nothing this thread hasn't directly addressed.

I don't really care what Glantz thinks. His counterfactual analysis is shallow; he obviously doesn't take it seriously.

What do you think and for what can you provide a well-formed argument?
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by historygeek2021 » 26 Apr 2021 12:37

Really? We've addressed how the Germans would defeat 7 additional reserve armies at Moscow, after having to deal with the armies facing them immediately east of Smolensk, all before the fall mud, when German intelligence had no idea these armies even existed?

We've addressed that "German casualties by late August exceeded 650,000 men, or roughly 20 percent of their original 3.4 million man attack force. Panzer divisions were severely worn down (to roughly 50 percent strength), and casualties had reduced overall German strength to an equivalent of about 83 divisions", and that this weakened force was going to stick its head into a noose stretching from Gomel (or Gornostaipl) all the way to Moscow and back to Leningrad, just in time to meet the 10 new reserve armies the Soviets fielded in November/December?

We've been having a good discussion. It would be a shame if we casually dismissed one of the world's foremost experts on the eastern front just because he disagrees with us, or accused other members of the forum of "letting others do our thinking for us."

Address what he says.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Apr 2021 16:12

historygeek2021 wrote:
26 Apr 2021 12:37

Address what he says.
I'll address what YOU say, specifically for what you make an actual argument with conclusion following from premise(s). If you want to note Glantz's accord with your reasoned views, all good.

If you'll do me the courtesy of that effort, I'll explain why I find Glantz's quoted excerpt shallow and internally contradictory.
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by KDF33 » 26 Apr 2021 17:57

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
26 Apr 2021 16:12
I find Glantz's quoted excerpt shallow and internally contradictory.
You could even add 'sloppy': the 9th Army was not forming around Moscow in late August, it was deployed with Southern Front. In fact, it had been on the southern direction since the very first day of the war!

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by per70 » 26 Apr 2021 20:08

I'm pretty sure Glantz is talking about the 49th and not the 9th though.

With regards to the right flank, I'm still unsure how the Soviets would fare against the 50+ divisions facing them come mid-September. Glantz seems to believe they would do so succesfully with resources to spare, but I'm far from certain.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by per70 » 26 Apr 2021 21:19

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
20 Apr 2021 08:56
Interesting. Source? I'm digging through the archives for data on the railways.
I'll try to find it for you. It was in an archival document, but I can't remember which at the moment (I just have to find my notes on the old laptop).

Another discussion on the problems encountered during October can be found in Logistik im Russlandfeldzug
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by historygeek2021 » 27 Apr 2021 00:38

per70 wrote:
26 Apr 2021 20:08
I'm pretty sure Glantz is talking about the 49th and not the 9th though.
Yes, it's a typo in the book. The Soviet 9th Army was already deployed in the Soviet Southern Front back in June 1941. In his book Barbarossa, Glantz gives this map showing the deployment over time of the Soviet reserve armies:
Glantz Map 2.png
Interesing to note that the Soviet 4th, 10th and 54th armies, which were deployed to Leningrad and the Ukraine in September in the OTL, would likely have been redirected to Moscow in the event of a September 1 drive to the east by AGC. The Germans would have had one heck of a time fighting their way through all those armies to get to Moscow before the fall mud.
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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by History Learner » 27 Apr 2021 18:04

historygeek2021 wrote:
27 Apr 2021 00:38
per70 wrote:
26 Apr 2021 20:08
I'm pretty sure Glantz is talking about the 49th and not the 9th though.
Yes, it's a typo in the book. The Soviet 9th Army was already deployed in the Soviet Southern Front back in June 1941. In his book Barbarossa, Glantz gives this map showing the deployment over time of the Soviet reserve armies:

Glantz Map 2.png

Interesing to note that the Soviet 4th, 10th and 54th armies, which were deployed to Leningrad and the Ukraine in September in the OTL, would likely have been redirected to Moscow in the event of a September 1 drive to the east by AGC. The Germans would have had one heck of a time fighting their way through all those armies to get to Moscow before the fall mud.
Presuming a September 1st Typhoon, Western, Reserve and Briansk Fronts are destroyed in under two weeks before those Soviet reserve armies are completed and able to be deployed. Likewise, the Mozhaisk Line isn't in service yet nor are most of the divisions that historically manned them. Again, assuming the Germans replicate their same performance they will rapidly bust through said Soviet reserve armies by September 20th and then the road to Moscow is open with three weeks until the first snow.

Elsewhere, however, the Soviets are even more screwed because you've denied the Leningrad and Ukraine regions of resources. In particular, as Per70 has noted, AGS would be especially deadly in this situation with its own strength and the weakness of its opponent. Extremely likely in these circumstances Rostov, Kharkov and the Donets Basin are secured before the close of the Winter 1941-1942. Same for Leningrad, with the Germans linking up with the Finns near the Svir River.

All this together is probably too tempting for the IJA to ignore, likewise.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by historygeek2021 » 27 Apr 2021 22:43

History Learner wrote:
27 Apr 2021 18:04

Presuming a September 1st Typhoon, Western, Reserve and Briansk Fronts are destroyed in under two weeks before those Soviet reserve armies are completed and able to be deployed. Likewise, the Mozhaisk Line isn't in service yet nor are most of the divisions that historically manned them. Again, assuming the Germans replicate their same performance they will rapidly bust through said Soviet reserve armies by September 20th and then the road to Moscow is open with three weeks until the first snow.

Elsewhere, however, the Soviets are even more screwed because you've denied the Leningrad and Ukraine regions of resources. In particular, as Per70 has noted, AGS would be especially deadly in this situation with its own strength and the weakness of its opponent. Extremely likely in these circumstances Rostov, Kharkov and the Donets Basin are secured before the close of the Winter 1941-1942. Same for Leningrad, with the Germans linking up with the Finns near the Svir River.

All this together is probably too tempting for the IJA to ignore, likewise.
The Bryansk Front would not be encircled if AGC had struck east on September 1 because in the OTL it required three panzer groups to effect its encirclement, and in this ATL there would only be 2 panzer groups.

The Soviet 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th and 43rd Armies had been formed in July. The 49th and 50th finished forming in August. These 7 armies were already at Moscow in September and would be waiting for AGC after it completed the liquidation of 4 or 5 Soviet armies in the Vyazma pocket at some point in the middle of September. Meanwhile, the Bryansk front would be harassing Guderian's exposed and constantly expanding southern flank, and the newly formed 4th, 10th and 54th Soviet armies would be rushed into battle as well.

If we're generous and say that the Vyazma pocket is liquidated by September 14, that gives Army Group Center 23 days to complete the capture of Moscow before the fall mud begins on October 7 (and another 5 Soviet armies enter the fray). With Hitler (wisely) prohibiting a direct assault into the city to avoid urban warfare, Panzer Group 3 and Panzer Group 2 have to stretch out to the north, south and ultimately east of the city, while the infantry divisions lag far behind them.

It's hardly a sure thing for the Germans, and if the panzer divisions are stuck to the east of Moscow when the fall mud begins and the infantry are hundred(s) of kilometers to the west, it's looking a lot like the Stalingrad disaster is happening one year earlier than the OTL.

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Re: Kiev/Moscow 1941: The Gornostaipol Option

Post by History Learner » 28 Apr 2021 09:26

historygeek2021 wrote:
27 Apr 2021 22:43
The Bryansk Front would not be encircled if AGC had struck east on September 1 because in the OTL it required three panzer groups to effect its encirclement, and in this ATL there would only be 2 panzer groups.
OP has not specified that, from what I can see. If we are taking this thread as a very specific criticism of what I laid out in the other thread, I even specifically noted 4th Panzer Army would be detached from AGN for this.
The Soviet 31st, 32nd, 33rd, 34th and 43rd Armies had been formed in July. The 49th and 50th finished forming in August. These 7 armies were already at Moscow in September and would be waiting for AGC after it completed the liquidation of 4 or 5 Soviet armies in the Vyazma pocket at some point in the middle of September. Meanwhile, the Bryansk front would be harassing Guderian's exposed and constantly expanding southern flank, and the newly formed 4th, 10th and 54th Soviet armies would be rushed into battle as well.
I think you need to stop and research those unit histories because you're double counting, as said armies did not constituent a fresh reserve but were already assigned to the Fronts guarding Moscow; 50th and 32nd, for example, would be savaged historically in the fighting.
If we're generous and say that the Vyazma pocket is liquidated by September 14, that gives Army Group Center 23 days to complete the capture of Moscow before the fall mud begins on October 7 (and another 5 Soviet armies enter the fray). With Hitler (wisely) prohibiting a direct assault into the city to avoid urban warfare, Panzer Group 3 and Panzer Group 2 have to stretch out to the north, south and ultimately east of the city, while the infantry divisions lag far behind them.
That's not being generous but rather arbitrarily adding constraints upon the Germans that have no reason to exist. The operation began on October 2nd and by October 15th you have them sorely pressing the Soviet defenses of the city to the extent that the Moscow Panic happens and Stalin briefly considers leaving the city. Even if you take the position that there is no Briansk Pocket, then the time constraints are even less because there is no pocket for the Germans to divert resources to liquidate and I see no reason flank attacks from that axis would be anymore effective in September than they were in August with Central Front. In particular, there are no defensive belts in completion in September either, as opposed to October.

Likewise, Hitler's order forbidding a direct assault upon the city was a direct result of the situation in October/November, and thus has not happened here in September nor would it likely to happen at all, given the lack of defensive formations or reserves in the cities.
It's hardly a sure thing for the Germans, and if the panzer divisions are stuck to the east of Moscow when the fall mud begins and the infantry are hundred(s) of kilometers to the west, it's looking a lot like the Stalingrad disaster is happening one year earlier than the OTL.
Once the initial hole is made in the Soviet lines, there is nothing to stop the Germans who have almost six weeks of good weather to use. It's about as sure of a thing in warfare as one can get, in my opinion, but likewise the idea the situation would be worse than otl with fewer Soviet forces and better weather stretches credulity. In particular, comparisons to Stalingrad just aren't adapt; that resulted from the Germans constraining themselves into a limited operational space instead of here, where you are suggesting the danger is from the mobile spearheads stretched out over a wide area.

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