Anti-Colonialism and American foreign policy

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CaptainBeowulf
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Post by CaptainBeowulf »

Surprisingly so, yes. I don't recall the numbers precisely, but the Germans did quite well at the Prokorovkha engagement, despite the fact that they were still using Mark IIIs as well as Mark IVs and a few Tigers. The Soviets dealt with the Tigers by kamikaze tactics - they literally crashed into them with their T-34s.

Overall, the numbers I've seen suggest that the Germans lost about 1500 tanks/tank destroyers at Kursk, and the Soviets about 2000. However, that number includes the German breakdowns, of which there were a lot, so the Germans probably had a 2:1 advantage in kills. Problem for the Germans was that they only had about 2000-2500 tanks and T-Ds at the time, the Soviets had about 6000.

What's most impressive is the German invasion in 1941. The Germans have about 3500 tanks/t-ds, the Soviets have around 20,000. German output in 1941 is about 2500-3000 new tanks/t-ds, Soviet output is pretty low because they have to displace all their factories to the east. So, say about 6000 panzers vs. 21,000-22,000 Soviet tanks. The Soviets lose almost all their tanks - there are maybe around 1000 left by the spring of 1942. The Germans also have in the range of 1000-2000 by spring 1942, but that's only because about 1000 have broken down completely and have to be shipped back to Germany. So, that means around 3000-4000 panzers lost for 20,000+ Soviet tanks.

Sorry, I seem to have had a major hand in turning this thread into the WWII military history channel.

Diogenes
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Post by Diogenes »

CaptainBeowulf wrote:
Sorry, I seem to have had a major hand in turning this thread into the WWII military history channel.

Uh, yes. Weren't we discussing how the American decision to take out Saddam Hussein was like colonialism or something? :)

JLawson
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Post by JLawson »

Diogenes wrote:
CaptainBeowulf wrote:
Sorry, I seem to have had a major hand in turning this thread into the WWII military history channel.

Uh, yes. Weren't we discussing how the American decision to take out Saddam Hussein was like colonialism or something? :)
What would be interesting would be negotiating with Iraq to become the 51st state. (I mean, what the hell - we conquered them, least we can do is give them all the benefits of membership. Of course, this would mean they'd have to stop producing oil immediately...)

And check with Haiti for the 52nd, with Puerto Rico as the 53rd.

Still got four to go before the Obama dream of 57 is realized...

Perhaps East and West Canada? And North and South Australia?
When opinion and reality conflict - guess which one is going to win in the long run.

djolds1
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Post by djolds1 »

JLawson wrote:What would be interesting would be negotiating with Iraq to become the 51st state. (I mean, what the hell - we conquered them, least we can do is give them all the benefits of membership. Of course, this would mean they'd have to stop producing oil immediately...)

And check with Haiti for the 52nd, with Puerto Rico as the 53rd.

Still got four to go before the Obama dream of 57 is realized...

Perhaps East and West Canada? And North and South Australia?
Airstrip One.
Vae Victis

CaptainBeowulf
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Post by CaptainBeowulf »

Well all that Iraqi desert must be an excellent location for wind farms... :lol:

Airstrip One (England), Airstrip 1A (Wales), and Airstrip 1B (Scotland) would bring it to 54...

West Canada, yes, but East Canada would include Quebec - not sure how well that would work out in the American body politic... (there are a lot of socialists there)

JLawson
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Post by JLawson »

CaptainBeowulf wrote:Well all that Iraqi desert must be an excellent location for wind farms... :lol:

Airstrip One (England), Airstrip 1A (Wales), and Airstrip 1B (Scotland) would bring it to 54...

West Canada, yes, but East Canada would include Quebec - not sure how well that would work out in the American body politic... (there are a lot of socialists there)
Sorry - we can't use it for wind farms or solar power for that matter - we'd disturb the local ecologies too much. Think of the poor, piteous plight of the camel spider, sand spider, and oriental hornets! Their ecosystem must be preserved as much as is humanly possible.
When opinion and reality conflict - guess which one is going to win in the long run.

choff
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Post by choff »

I've heard some arguements that France was knocked off in 1940 because the French right wanted Germany to win, they would eliminate the Communists. It's hard to accept the fact that the French army didn't invade Germany right after Poland was attacked, that would have ended it.
The French air minister dispersed hundreds of fighters and then complained he couldn't find them to repel the Luftwaffe.
Hitler rode an incredible wave of sick luck all the way to Stalingrad, never should have gotten out of the starting blocks.
CHoff

IntLibber
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Post by IntLibber »

choff wrote:I've heard some arguements that France was knocked off in 1940 because the French right wanted Germany to win, they would eliminate the Communists. It's hard to accept the fact that the French army didn't invade Germany right after Poland was attacked, that would have ended it.
The French air minister dispersed hundreds of fighters and then complained he couldn't find them to repel the Luftwaffe.
Hitler rode an incredible wave of sick luck all the way to Stalingrad, never should have gotten out of the starting blocks.
This sort of armchair generalling is the sort of absolute hogwash that is rampant on teh interwebz but absolutely baseless in reality.

The French had their Maginot Line. They believed it impenetrable. They did not (stupidly) expect Germany to invade neutral countries in order to go around the maginot fortresses. After all, Germany had invested heavily in their Seigfried Line in parallel to the Maginot Line. Why would they waste that money if they didn't intend to use it?

The French were also hopelessly pacifist. The people were, that is. They did not want a repeat of WWI and refused to mobilize or even prepare their military for war, despite having one of the largest militaries in the world and the largest tank force besides the Soviets. They had no fighters of comparable worth to the Me-109. All MB151 and 152 fighters were lacking gunsights and propellers at the onset of the war. Of the 1100 MS406 fighters, still outclassed by the 109, 40% were lost in combat, and they suffered a kill ratio of 3 aircraft downed for every 1 enemy killed.

The LeO 451 bomber was poorly armed. Of the 373 put into service as of the French armistice, they'd lost one third to enemy fire or other losses. All other french bombers were half the speed, even more poorly armed, and shorter ranged.

France had no attack aircraft, not even anything as obsolete as the Stuka dive bomber. Thus they had no way to support ground forces with tactical air support.

As for their armor:
Until the Renault R40, french tanks were not equipped with radios, so their ability to operate coordinated maneuvers was limited, and massed tank formations themselves did not happen as all tanks were assigned to infantry and cavalry units, there were no independent tank units.

The SOMUA S35 was a tactically effective medium tank, and operated effectively in cooperation with infantry and cavalry, but was poorly deployed strategically. Considered the best medium tank of the 1930's, by 1940 it was obsoleted by the Panzer and the Soviet T-34. Its primary weakness was poor mechanical reliability, particularly a very weak suspension, combined with deficiencies in French machining industry that prevented adopting the Christie suspension without a major overhaul of French industry. The french built only 430 of these tanks (this included production during the war under Nazi direction).

The heavy Char B1 tank was formidable, but being hobbled with a 75 mm howitzer in a tiny one man turret, seriously limited its ability to fight other tanks, and the tank commander had to command the tank but aim and trim the gun itself, and if he was the section commander, his workload was impossible. Efforts to replace the heavy howitzer with a 37 mm cannon to fight other tanks was limited prior to occupation.

All French tanks, other than the very light renaults, were slow on the battlefield compared to their contemporaries.

WRT Infantry, there was a huge problem in that most infantry were still equipped with the 1880's Lebel 8mm rifle, a large, heavy infantry rifle whose only real advantage was its 4500 yard range. By the late 1930's all other militaries had converted to shorter barrelled, smaller caliber carbines, enabling their infantry to carry more ammunition and march further. Relatively few front line units were equipped with the newer MAS38 carbine, which compared well against german infantry rifles.

This article does a good job of explaining things in general.

http://vanrcook.tripod.com/france_in_world_war_2.htm

The french were simply not ready to deal with blitzkrieg tactics, despite observing both the spanish civil war and then poland's invasion. Their generals were all WWI generals with trench warfare on the brain. They had no clue about coordinating air power with ground forces. They operated defensively only, and they made no effort to train their troops in new tactics.

MSimon
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Post by MSimon »

The French had their Maginot Line. They believed it impenetrable. They did not (stupidly) expect Germany to invade neutral countries in order to go around the maginot fortresses.
Of course they expected it. The purpose of the Maginot line was to channel the German invasion. It did that quite well.

But the French were supposed to wait in France for the Germans. Not take their best troops (armor and infantry) and immobilize them in Belgium. And defend the hinge at Sedan with second best troops.

But what really destroyed the French more even than those mistakes is that they had no proper doctrine or equipment to counter armored thrusts. And even then the British and French counter attacks (day six?) gave the Germans a fright (the armored advance cut off by a flank attacks coming from the North and South). Unfortunately the attacks were too weak and uncoordinated.

Patton in the same area had a plan prepared for changing his front when the Germans attacked. The French idea in 1940 was to reform the front. i.e. what they learned in 1914/19. Except the Germans advanced faster than the French could retreat.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

choff
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Post by choff »

The German army was busy fighting in Poland leaving the French border exposed for a long time. When they invaded Poland, half the tanks were Panzer 1's and a third were captured from the Checks and Austria. So yes the French were ill equiped but the German situation was worse. When they invaded Russia, just about the only armoured vehicle that could penetrate the T34 or KV1 was the Jagdpanzer 1b. A third of all ME109's were lost on takeoff and landing because of the large prop and small landing gear, requiring well trained pilots.
CHoff

choff
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Post by choff »

Hitler wouldn't allow tanks to be used at Dunkirk because he got a report that half the German tanks were out of action. Most of the out of action tanks were broken down which he didn't know, but if he had committed tanks at Dunkirk, he undoubtedly would have had even less to attack France proper. French industry meanwhile, built 600 new combat aircraft from the time of the attack until the armistace. The Germans captured 2500 French aircraft intact.
CHoff

Skipjack
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Post by Skipjack »

The German strategy was called "Blitzkrieg" for a reason. High mobility and the ability to outmaneuver the enemy is what made this tactic so successful. At the beginning of the war the German technology was comparably weak, as some have pointed out. Only with good tactics they were able to have successes like that. If you look at WW2 with "the art of war" in mind, you will see why the Germany were successful in the beginning and why they were unsuccessful later. I think Hitlers biggest problems were the English, who absolutely would not agree to a peace treaty with Hitler (unconditional surrender!) and the Russians, who he had to attack at an unfavorable time in order to issue a preemptive strike. What people dont realize is that the only thing that prevented Stalin from conquering Europe within a few weeks was Germany and Hitlers preemptive strike. Stalin had a massive army of tanks waiting for crews, gasoline and ammo. Hitler had to cut them off from these supplies first. I am not 100% sure about this, but IIRC this was why he insisted on holding Stalingrad at all cost.

krenshala
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Post by krenshala »

CaptainBeowulf wrote:Airstrip One (England) ...
I thought that was the USS United Kindom ... the US military's largest aircraft carrier, permanently stationed off the coast of Europe? :D

Oh, and it is my understanding that every time the vote on whether Puerto Rico would try to become a state came up, the Puerto Rican polititions vote it down because then they would have to have all the drawbacks of no longer being "just" a US territory. ;)

CaptainBeowulf
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Post by CaptainBeowulf »

Skipjack: That was just one of Hitler's own deranged arguments for fighting at Stalingrad: he claimed that by bringing German artillery within range of the Volga, he could cut off Russian fuel shipments coming from the Caucasus by ship. Really, he just got obsessed by Stalingrad because it bore the name of his chief rival.

The effective way to stop Soviet fuel shipments would have been to concentrate logistically on supporting the thrust into the Caucasus, while maintaining a defensive front on the Chir inside the Don bend. The German armies would have been less exposed to counterattack and they may well have captured the Caucasus. They could then have attacked Stalingrad later, probably in the spring of 1943. Or, they could just have ignored it and focused on encircling Moscow.

The Russians had around 20,000-21,000 tanks in June 1941, but the Soviet army was totally unprepared for offensive operations. Stalin's purge of the officer corps was still too recent. They might have been ready to fight by about 1943. If Hitler was going to attack the Soviet Union, it did make sense for him to do it when he did, while the Soviets were weak. However, there was no reason (except megalomania) for him to overextend his armies and lose huge numbers of troops in the winter of 1941-42 at Moscow and in the summer and fall of 1942 at Stalingrad and the winter of 1942-43 at Stalingrad.

Yes, the Germans drew the correct doctrinal lessons from their experiments with tanks in the 1930s - that is the main reason for the success of "blitzkrieg". The other reasons are the ones mentioned in this thread: Poland unprepared, French generals unimaginative and walked into a trap, Soviet army effectively decapitated by Stalin's purges. The Germans had an opportunity in 1940-42 to greatly expand their industry, mechanize more of their army, and stay ahead of their opponents. Instead, they got cocky because of their successes and didn't seriously expand their logistical base until 1943-44, when it was too late for them.

Fortunately for us Hitler and his cronies lacked the foresight to see how to continue their success.

TallDave
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Post by TallDave »

What people dont realize is that the only thing that prevented Stalin from conquering Europe within a few weeks was Germany and Hitlers preemptive strike. Stalin had a massive army of tanks waiting for crews, gasoline and ammo.
I agree, this fact is GREATLY underappreciated. The H-S pact would have broken down anyway, and probably under circumstances ultimately less favorable to the West.

Given how friendly Roosevelt was to the Russians, it's very lucky in retrospect that we didn't end up with all of Europe under the hammer and sickle before America ever went to war.
n*kBolt*Te = B**2/(2*mu0) and B^.25 loss scaling? Or not so much? Hopefully we'll know soon...

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