If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

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If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by BeeWac » 10 Nov 2019 14:58

Might the 6th Army have been able to capture it? Or at least gotten closer? It seems like a huge issue was that they couldn’t move their tanks around the city due to all the rubble.

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by Stiltzkin » 11 Nov 2019 07:52

Contrary to popular belief, urban fighting favours the attacker (lowering casualties, greater delay), while ruins may not offer an inherently superior (defensive) force multiplier to an untouched city. The 6th Army's demise was the accumulated force that broke through in the Northern sector, while troops were continously fed into the city. Destroyed infrastructure might be an issue, but was preferred over sleeping in the field.

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by corbulo » 11 Nov 2019 11:10

Stiltzkin wrote:
11 Nov 2019 07:52
Contrary to popular belief, urban fighting favours the attacker (lowering casualties, greater delay), while ruins may not offer an inherently superior (defensive) force multiplier to an untouched city. The 6th Army's demise was the accumulated force that broke through in the Northern sector, while troops were continously fed into the city. Destroyed infrastructure might be an issue, but was preferred over sleeping in the field.
See what youre saying but has any city ever been bombed so hard as Stalingrad and then attempted to be taken, in amongst some of tbe craziest defending. I mean there's total war, there's deep war, and then there's Stalingrad war. Fighting house to house, room by room, up in the attics, down in tbe sewers, the defenders never more than a few metres away giving the attackers hardly room to breathe, fighting with anything they could. The battle could well have been over way before the Soviets even thought about Operation Uranus let alone put it into action. Everything was a delaying tactic.

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by BDV » 11 Nov 2019 14:04

Selection bias may play a role in this.

Why did the attacker use HERE the (always sparse, always expensive) aviation assets, which SURELY could have been used elsewhere? Could it have something to do with the attacker/defender ratio?

Also, if a site ended up not being contested, would the attacker want to broadcast the fact that it is a brute that would kill a bunch of civvies and vandalize a city just to take an undefended place?
Nobody expects the Fallschirm! Our chief weapon is surprise; surprise and fear; fear and surprise. Our 2 weapons are fear and surprise; and ruthless efficiency. Our *3* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency; and almost fanatical devotion

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by Stiltzkin » 11 Nov 2019 17:33

See what youre saying but has any city ever been bombed so hard as Stalingrad and then attempted to be taken, in amongst some of tbe craziest defending. I mean there's total war, there's deep war, and then there's Stalingrad war. Fighting house to house, room by room, up in the attics, down in tbe sewers, the defenders never more than a few metres away giving the attackers hardly room to breathe, fighting with anything they could. The battle could well have been over way before the Soviets even thought about Operation Uranus let alone put it into action. Everything was a delaying tactic.
This is the image of Stalingrad, usually propagated by movies and would apply to many urban operations throughout history (e.g. Arab-Israeli wars, Chechen). Of relevance for this battle are also ideological/political factors. http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/pdf/urbanwar.pdf
Before the envelopment, 6th Army's casualties appear to be rather moderate, it was much harder getting there. These operations are usually characterized by high MIA rates and delaying action. Are you implying that the bombardment lowered the chances of success to the extent of dooming the attempt to failure?
I do not know by how much the daily advance rate would have differed.

The front was overstretched and the Soviets amassed a potent force, while continuing to feed new troops into the city. Had this flow dried out, the city would have been captured fairly quickly, while a stronger flank protection would have halted the Soviet offensive.

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by Duncan_M » 11 Nov 2019 23:32

Stiltzkin wrote:
11 Nov 2019 07:52
Contrary to popular belief, urban fighting favours the attacker (lowering casualties, greater delay),
This statement is contrary to every historical study, field manual, treatise, etc regarding military operations in urban terrain. Its simply not true.

^ Decade plus of service in infantry, including two years of combat duties primarily in urban areas.

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by Duncan_M » 12 Nov 2019 00:28

Rubbling urban terrain, following sustained artillery bombardment or aerial bombing, added with structural damage from incendiary munitions, turns what was purposefully designed and built urban area into a chaotic landscape where every overturned brick, every hole in a wall, could hide a rifle or even an AT gun.

The human eye and brain are quite good at finding patterns, its one thing that really made us so successful as a species. By this ability, we can look around and pick out what belongs and what doesn't. Turning the background into a chaos turns what should be easy into what will be difficult. Like a Where's Waldo, its a bit harder where its a chaos of people and colors instead of ordered rows of people.

Same with urban terrain. Its already difficult. Its multi-tiered in terms of height, where one has to contend with not only surface level, but tall buildings and subterranean tunnels/sewers too. There is so much great concealment (for hiding), good cover (protection from fire), defilade/deadspace (terrain that is blocked by direct sight and fire) that its already a nightmare for the attacker, rubbling it just makes it so much worse.

Which one hides the sniper easier?

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by Cult Icon » 12 Nov 2019 04:43

If the LW hadn't repeatedly carpet bombed stalingrad, German and Soviet artillery would have pummeled the streets anyway in subsequent fighting. Also, armor was used on both sides throughout the fighting to support attacks and defense.

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by Duncan_M » 12 Nov 2019 05:56

Cult Icon wrote:
12 Nov 2019 04:43
If the LW hadn't repeatedly carpet bombed stalingrad, German and Soviet artillery would have pummeled the streets anyway in subsequent fighting. Also, armor was used on both sides throughout the fighting to support attacks and defense.
Not to the extent that Stalingrad was. Historically, attackers and defenders both commented afterwards in large numbers that it was the pre-attack bombing with HE and incendiary munitions that greatly helped the defender. Would artillery eventually rubble much of the city? Yep. But that would have taken months, whereas a significant part of the destruction was done before the ground battle started. From the instant the Germans attacked in strength the Red Army defenders had their tactical advantage raised even hire by the new hiding places offered by a visually demolished landscape of broken buildings, charred vehicles, holed walls, streets strewn with rubble, etc. That advantage allowed them to slow the German advance to the Vulga, but more so drain the infantry regiments of manpower that couldn't be replaced, as the Germans continued attacking regardless of casualties.

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by corbulo » 12 Nov 2019 09:15

Cult Icon wrote:
12 Nov 2019 04:43
If the LW hadn't repeatedly carpet bombed stalingrad, German and Soviet artillery would have pummeled the streets anyway in subsequent fighting. Also, armor was used on both sides throughout the fighting to support attacks and defense.
Carpet bombing by air is way more indiscriminate and innacurate

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by Sid Guttridge » 12 Nov 2019 12:12

Hi Stitzkin,

You posted, "Contrary to popular belief, urban fighting favours the attacker (lowering casualties, greater delay), while ruins may not offer an inherently superior (defensive) force multiplier to an untouched city."

I tend to disagree. All urban fighting reduces ranges, with the result that it tends towards equalizing combat conditions between skilled troops and less skilled ones. For example, advantages in marksmanship, field craft and conventional fire and manoeuvre are less telling in built up areas and a whole new set of tactics has to be learnt by all concerned. Urban warfare seems best suited to combat engineers/assault pioneers.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by Cult Icon » 12 Nov 2019 13:52

corbulo wrote:
12 Nov 2019 09:15

Carpet bombing by air is way more indiscriminate and innacurate
I think there is a misunderstanding on how Stalingrad was bombed and how the battle was fought. The city was carpet bombed and it was also repeatedly "churned up" by mixed fireplans of artillery and massed air power (close air support) for the ground forces. Stuka units were on-call by air liason officers attached to divisions to precision strike difficult obstacles.

Also, the rubble didn't prevent the presence of armor on both sides. 24th Panzer division was one of the first to attack deeply into the city, it was stopped largely by resistance and attrition to its forces.
Last edited by Cult Icon on 12 Nov 2019 15:22, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by Stiltzkin » 12 Nov 2019 15:16

I tend to disagree. All urban fighting reduces ranges, with the result that it tends towards equalizing combat conditions between skilled troops and less skilled ones. For example, advantages in marksmanship, field craft and conventional fire and manoeuvre are less telling in built up areas and a whole new set of tactics has to be learnt by all concerned. Urban warfare seems best suited to combat engineers/assault pioneers.
Not in an operational sense, this would be merely confined to the tactical field, relative to troops in defensive posture. Studies point towards the opposite, i.e. it is a modern form of a siege and the opposing force is pressed into the defensive, shaped by previous and ongoing events. If what you are saying is true, then we would not have observed any preponderance in Iraq. The very reason why they are hiding in an urbanized area in the first place: Asymmetry. The attacker takes on average lower casualties in an urbanized area, than he would have sustained in the field, e.g. during the Soviet offensives prior to Case Blue. Environmental attrition is also reduced, because churches and hotels are pretty comfy. :)
What would be interesting to analyze, is whether the Soviets were able to inflict greater casualties per force inside the city in small unit battles, relative to what one would expect under the conditions of trench and bunker warfare. I highly doubt that though, since the firepower of German Squads and platoons must have exceeded Soviet levels considerably, so that the product of all lower level engagements (which are by the way, quite volatile), would be still lopsided. No thorough Stalingrad study exists up to this day. Glantz work is quite superficial.
This statement is contrary to every historical study, field manual, treatise, etc regarding military operations in urban terrain. Its simply not true
Not at all. Look up the TDI study. The Allies were able to take a high amount of German POWs in urbanized areas. Cities are like fortifications, they amplify defensive capabilities (especially for insurgents, civilian casualties create a big problem), but are static and usually attacked by a superior force, so the defender is sitting ducks, while on the other hand, the attacker's advance rate is lowered. It is not the city which stopped the Wehrmacht, or else Kharkov and Orel would have posed a significantly greater hurdle. Attacker and defender both utilize the protective properties of walls, which for instance can deflect or absorb bullets. On the other hand, bombers completely flatline buildings.
Last edited by Stiltzkin on 12 Nov 2019 16:58, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by Cult Icon » 12 Nov 2019 15:48

Read Jason Mark's books on Stalingrad, which has the most granular tactical detail. Kind of crazy to hear that Glantz's work is superficial. Armageddon in Stalingrad and the supplementary volume is a very long tome with day to day details.

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Re: If the Luftwaffe hadn’t bombed Stalingrad...

Post by Stiltzkin » 12 Nov 2019 15:50

Glantz's work is superficial. Armageddon in Stalingrad and the supplementary volume is a very long tome with day to day details.
Glantz work usually reads like a Soviet prosa.

Anyway, I think the best example is Grozny. The Russians bombarded the city and left no stone unturned, targeting primarily hospitals and schools (penetrative bombing) to break the defenders morale. Airpower lowers casualties.

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