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OT: Battle of Kursk

 
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OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/16/2012 12:29:52 AM   
Footslogger

 

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I often wonder why the Germans lost the battle of Kursk. Someone here at the forum posted a really good link explaining how Operation Citadels's plan was put into the hands of the Russains, by a spy know only as wether I think. The Russians were able to capture a Tiger Tank, near Lenningrad and found it impervious to everything except artillery. If someone has that link, please post it here.
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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/16/2012 1:46:25 AM   
hafer


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I dont have the link, sorry. But i can tell you: the germans lost kursk mainly cause Hitler delayed a few times the date of the offense. So that the russians could prepare their defense. Hitler wanted to have the new tigers and panthers in the battle - thats the reason for the delay.


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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/16/2012 2:16:17 AM   
hfarrish


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Thousand different factors really; the Germans were unlikely to win even if they had launched the offensive in April instead of June, and even if they had it would have been a lesser victory because the Sovs would have had fewer troops at that point. IMO the reality of the situation was that the Germans would have been far better off using those panzer troops in a mobile defense at that stage of the war rather than trying to recreate the great kessels of the past...

Even if the German tanks had met at Kursk, is there really any guarantee the pocket would have surrendered (the Germans were immediately forced back by very powerful counterthrusts around Belogorod and the north of the pocket - its not hard to believe those same reserve armies could have relieved any thinly held pocket)? It wasn't 1941 anymore, and the Soviet army was a very different beast. Kursk may have won the war for the Soviets, but there is no real evidence it would have meaningfully changed things for the Germans.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/16/2012 4:14:47 AM   
Aurelian

 

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Attacking in the most obvious place didn't help either.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/16/2012 4:50:04 AM   
76mm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Aurelian
Attacking in the most obvious place didn't help either.


Yes, attacking massively fortified lines into an area where the Sovs were expecting an attack would seem to have a lot to do with it. I think the question is not so much why did the Germans lose at Kursk, but why did they even try? It was essentially a battle of attrition which the Germans could ill-afford.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/16/2012 10:40:59 PM   
Farfarer

 

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In game terms only, it is not tactically feasible to attack a Sov fort belt organized by a good opponent. That's why gaming is fun, you can zoom off and try interesting things. In the real world, you may be ordered to attack, as on a big map it looks appealing to the the "leadership". In the game, unless your Sov opponent is kept off-balance and reacting, he or she cannot be defeated.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/16/2012 10:52:35 PM   
Aurelian

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: 76mm


quote:

ORIGINAL: Aurelian
Attacking in the most obvious place didn't help either.


Yes, attacking massively fortified lines into an area where the Sovs were expecting an attack would seem to have a lot to do with it. I think the question is not so much why did the Germans lose at Kursk, but why did they even try? It was essentially a battle of attrition which the Germans could ill-afford.


Matters of prestige and politics. If they won, it would of restored their shaken prestige after the Stalingrad debacle. Then there was the political ramifications vis a vis their allies if they won. (Restored their allies shaken faith.) And up til then, they always triumphed during the summer months. Winning at Kursk would of confirmed that. To say nothing of the resulting shortening of the lines, wrecking of Soviet reserves, etc.

< Message edited by Aurelian -- 6/16/2012 11:01:00 PM >

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 12:13:29 AM   
hfarrish


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Curious side note...what if the Germans had attacked on an Easterly axis instead of a north south one? Seems like it would have been a relatively easy shift away from the thickest Soviet defenses. I'm sure there are lots of reasons but given the failure of the operation as it was, easy to second guess.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 12:23:23 AM   
Footslogger

 

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I always thought that Hilter should have avoided a war with Stalin for as long as possible. Then Hitler would still be getting that precious oil from Stalin until war broke out. As Hitler fought the Allies in the African desert, he could of attacked Stalin from the south.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 1:19:28 AM   
Aurelian

 

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North Africa was never meant by OKW to be more than a sideshow IIRC.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 3:52:51 AM   
76mm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Farfarer

In game terms only, it is not tactically feasible to attack a Sov fort belt organized by a good opponent.


eh? Maybe I'm not a good opponent, but I think that a good German can slice through Sov fortifications very easily, at least where he is able to ensure the participation of some pioneers, arty, and air support.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 4:38:24 AM   
map66

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: hfarrish


Curious side note...what if the Germans had attacked on an Easterly axis instead of a north south one? Seems like it would have been a relatively easy shift away from the thickest Soviet defenses. I'm sure there are lots of reasons but given the failure of the operation as it was, easy to second guess.


That was actually an idea Hitler himself raised several times, and it's been treated actually as a pretty decent one in a lot of the literature since.

IMHO, it might have led to a minor tactical success--- the salient might have been collapsed from down the middle even if no real pockets resulted. But the Steppe Front would still have been there, the two fronts within the salient itself would have regrouped, and the subsequent counter-offensives probably would have developed along much the same lines.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 5:04:25 AM   
map66

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: 76mm


quote:

ORIGINAL: Farfarer

In game terms only, it is not tactically feasible to attack a Sov fort belt organized by a good opponent.


eh? Maybe I'm not a good opponent, but I think that a good German can slice through Sov fortifications very easily, at least where he is able to ensure the participation of some pioneers, arty, and air support.



Though pioneers and artillery can help, I do think the 2-3 deep hex defensive belts the Soviets are able to throw up with their unit spam is a bit problematic, especially as I can't think of any examples in 1941 of deep defensive belts like the Soviets used at Kursk. And even at Kursk, the three army defensive belts were really only around 25 KMs thick total, with further rear front defense lines there mostly on paper and not really developed or manned.

My solution is that there needs to be some kind of surprise penalty for units that start the turn not in contact with the enemy but are attacked later in the turn. This could be some kind of leadership check influenced by morale/experience and all the obvious other factors (defending on a river or in a city seem obvious modifiers), but would result in a significant defensive penalty if it is failed (and maybe a much higher chance of routing). This I think might do a good job of eliminating unrealistically deep defensive belts and checkerboards and other such tactics that just scream "gamey" at me.

< Message edited by map66 -- 6/17/2012 5:06:09 AM >

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 5:40:06 AM   
76mm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: map66
I do think the 2-3 deep hex defensive belts the Soviets are able to throw up with their unit spam is a bit problematic, especially as I can't think of any examples in 1941 of deep defensive belts like the Soviets used at Kursk.


Not sure what we're talking about now, how easy it is for Sovs to build forts, or how easy it is for Germans to attack them--those are two separate issues.

re building forts, I think there were plenty of fortifications in 1941 around Moscow, instance, and others could probably cite many other fortified locations. IIRC, the term "fortification levels" is kind of a misnomer--level 1 is simply foxholes for instance--I don't see what is unrealistic about the Sovs digging foxholes whereever they happen to be.

If we are talking about breaching forts, Level 1 and 2 forts are just not a serious obstacle in 1941 (a fortified ant is still an ant); while they will slow the Germans down a bit, they generally can't stop them, and even level 2 forts needs some time to construct.

What exactly is problematic about all of this? If anything, I think that Level 3 and higher forts may be too easy to overcome (and by 1943 this becomes much more of a problem for the Germans that the Sovs).

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 5:54:31 AM   
map66

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: 76mm


quote:

ORIGINAL: map66
I do think the 2-3 deep hex defensive belts the Soviets are able to throw up with their unit spam is a bit problematic, especially as I can't think of any examples in 1941 of deep defensive belts like the Soviets used at Kursk.


Not sure what we're talking about now, how easy it is for Sovs to build forts, or how easy it is for Germans to attack them--those are two separate issues.

re building forts, I think there were plenty of fortifications in 1941 around Moscow, instance, and others could probably cite many other fortified locations. IIRC, the term "fortification levels" is kind of a misnomer--level 1 is simply foxholes for instance--I don't see what is unrealistic about the Sovs digging foxholes whereever they happen to be.

If we are talking about breaching forts, Level 1 and 2 forts are just not a serious obstacle in 1941 (a fortified ant is still an ant); while they will slow the Germans down a bit, they generally can't stop them, and even level 2 forts needs some time to construct.

What exactly is problematic about all of this? If anything, I think that Level 3 and higher forts may be too easy to overcome (and by 1943 this becomes much more of a problem for the Germans that the Sovs).


The problem I see is not how hard it is to dislodge a single hex with fortifications in it (there I agree with you), or even to break through a solid continuous line of level 2-3 forts. The problem is when that line is followed by another and another line immediately behind it, 2-3 hexes deep. This kind of deep defensive belt is what I thought the discussion was about in the first place, and what I refered to as a "gamey" tactic.

And while the Soviets have the ability to blanket key avenues of the front in 1941 with these 2-3 hex deep defensive belts, the Germans barely have enough units even to make a continuous defensive line one hex deep at any point in the war. I'm actually not arguing with that being the case for the Germans--- that's historical. What I I just don't see historically are many parallels for defenses 20-30 miles deep being employed by the Soviets, with the exception obviously of Kursk.

In fact, if any side was expert at creating "deep" defenses like this, it was the Germans in the earlier periods of the war. Glantz's second volume on Stalingrad has good examples of how relatively weak German units on the flanks of the city were able to halt Soviet counter attacks with these kind of belts (just to cite an example of the top of my head). But even here, in terms of game scale, these defensive belts were hardly 10 miles deep (and thus should be reflected in fortification level in game terms), hardly the 20-30 mile deep Soviet belts one routinely sees in the game.


< Message edited by map66 -- 6/17/2012 6:00:49 AM >

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 6:23:19 AM   
usersatch

 

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This might be a little unconventional, but I think that, had Germany "won" Zitadelle, it would have hurt them more than help them in the long run. The reason being, the victory would have certainly come from the south (2nd Pzr Arm), but with devastating losses in numbers of "elite" troops and Panzers. They could have encircled huge numbers of Soviet troops and materiel, but as was proven before and after that, it had very little overall effect on the juggernaut (something morale also had no defense against). It's similar to the Battle of Gettysburg--a victory by Lee would have come at a dreadfully heavy cost to the South and, more importantly, when you compare those proportional losses to the vast manpower and resources of the North, it would have made little difference in the long run and only hasten the end given their finite amount of resources.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 11:02:46 AM   
timmyab

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: map66
My solution is that there needs to be some kind of surprise penalty for units that start the turn not in contact with the enemy but are attacked later in the turn. This could be some kind of leadership check influenced by morale/experience and all the obvious other factors (defending on a river or in a city seem obvious modifiers), but would result in a significant defensive penalty if it is failed (and maybe a much higher chance of routing). This I think might do a good job of eliminating unrealistically deep defensive belts and checkerboards and other such tactics that just scream "gamey" at me.

You could do this and ideally I'd like to see something similar, but German armor mobility would have to be seriously handicapped or the game would become an auto-win for the Axis.In fact I'd go further and stop any forts being built more than two hexes from an enemy unit without a FZ present or unless near a city.
The problem stems from the Soviets being forced to stand like statues for a whole week while the German armor runs rings around them.Soviet deep defenses are the game equivalent of fall back positions.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 11:58:43 AM   
76mm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: map66
The problem is when that line is followed by another and another line immediately behind it, 2-3 hexes deep. This kind of deep defensive belt is what I thought the discussion was about in the first place, and what I refered to as a "gamey" tactic.


We could argue about what is realistic or not, although such an argument would be pointless, because the reason Sov players do this in the game has nothing to do with history and everything with the fact that Sov units seem to be much weaker than their historical counterparts and cannot hope to do more than slow the Germans down a bit.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 5:28:27 PM   
map66

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: timmyab


quote:

ORIGINAL: map66
My solution is that there needs to be some kind of surprise penalty for units that start the turn not in contact with the enemy but are attacked later in the turn. This could be some kind of leadership check influenced by morale/experience and all the obvious other factors (defending on a river or in a city seem obvious modifiers), but would result in a significant defensive penalty if it is failed (and maybe a much higher chance of routing). This I think might do a good job of eliminating unrealistically deep defensive belts and checkerboards and other such tactics that just scream "gamey" at me.

You could do this and ideally I'd like to see something similar, but German armor mobility would have to be seriously handicapped or the game would become an auto-win for the Axis.In fact I'd go further and stop any forts being built more than two hexes from an enemy unit without a FZ present or unless near a city.
The problem stems from the Soviets being forced to stand like statues for a whole week while the German armor runs rings around them.Soviet deep defenses are the game equivalent of fall back positions.




I agree with you that more limitations would need to be placed on the panzers. Two potential major ones are coming in WiTW as far as a I understand---- counter attacks drain off MPs for the next turn and rail lines are modeled better. So probably any change like surprise rules or limits on fortifications away from the front would need to wait until those are implemented, along with hopefully better isolation rules.

Ideally though, some combination of these changes could make for a game that models better the tempo of historical operations---- an 80-100 mile surge forward, followed by a couple of weeks to rest and refit, rinsed and repeated, rather then the current one where a combination of deep defensive belts and too forgiving logistics leads it to be a constant couple hex grind forward each turn.

A similar tempo of constant grinding forward rather then short deep operations also affects Soviet offensives at least in late '42-'43 judging from scenarios like Red Army Resurgent and Decision in the Ukraine, though I'm far less sure what the root cause of that is.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 5:36:08 PM   
map66

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: 76mm


quote:

ORIGINAL: map66
The problem is when that line is followed by another and another line immediately behind it, 2-3 hexes deep. This kind of deep defensive belt is what I thought the discussion was about in the first place, and what I refered to as a "gamey" tactic.


We could argue about what is realistic or not, although such an argument would be pointless, because the reason Sov players do this in the game has nothing to do with history and everything with the fact that Sov units seem to be much weaker than their historical counterparts and cannot hope to do more than slow the Germans down a bit.



I don't disagree with you again. One solution, based kinda on the stacking rules from SSG's Decisive Battles, would be to give Soviet units in '41 a significant boost if say 3 divisions are stacked in one hex, while a penalty if only 1 is. Put in historical terms, 10 miles was an awful long line to hold for an under-strength '41 Soviet division, but they did indeed mount excellent defenses where forces were concentrated densely (east of Smolensk for example.) Like the SSG games, the other divisions in the hex might get an even bigger bonus if one of the units is particularly high morale. Obviously the bonus to adding multiple divisions to hexes would cut down on the ability to and attractiveness of deep defensive belts which just feel off.


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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 7:19:40 PM   
Capt Cliff


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The real problem was that Hitler was enamored by Fredrick the Great in that offense is the best defense. Well that didn't work and he should have played defensively against the grow Soviet power, with only selective bulge snipping when necessary. But Hitler was a fool, thank God.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 7:32:02 PM   
76mm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: map66
One solution, based kinda on the stacking rules from SSG's Decisive Battles, would be to give Soviet units in '41 a significant boost if say 3 divisions are stacked in one hex, while a penalty if only 1 is. Put in historical terms, 10 miles was an awful long line to hold for an under-strength '41 Soviet division, but they did indeed mount excellent defenses where forces were concentrated densely (east of Smolensk for example.)


Interesting idea; the range of fixes that various people have proposed is rather fascinating, hopefully the devs will be able to figure out something that works better than the current game.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/17/2012 8:40:28 PM   
Flaviusx


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Capt Cliff

The real problem was that Hitler was enamored by Fredrick the Great in that offense is the best defense. Well that didn't work and he should have played defensively against the grow Soviet power, with only selective bulge snipping when necessary. But Hitler was a fool, thank God.


Freddy himself was lucky and saved by a timely regime change in Russia. Interesting to speculate what would have happened in Germany if Prussia was reduced to minor power status, as very nearly happened.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/18/2012 12:40:12 AM   
usersatch

 

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Pak guns were the bane of the Panzers' existence. Wittmann considered tank kills "meaningless" compared to destroyed Paks. Seems to me, the Pak-Panzer relationship needs to be re-examined to keep the tanks in check (at least post-1942, when the Soviets finally learned how to effectively use them).

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/19/2012 1:53:05 AM   
Capt Cliff


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Flaviusx


quote:

ORIGINAL: Capt Cliff

The real problem was that Hitler was enamored by Fredrick the Great in that offense is the best defense. Well that didn't work and he should have played defensively against the grow Soviet power, with only selective bulge snipping when necessary. But Hitler was a fool, thank God.


Freddy himself was lucky and saved by a timely regime change in Russia. Interesting to speculate what would have happened in Germany if Prussia was reduced to minor power status, as very nearly happened.


True, another Napoleonic axiom that a general needs to be lucky is well proven. An yes with no Bismark what would Europe look like?


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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/19/2012 2:31:33 AM   
Flaviusx


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I'd guess we'd still get a Germany, but it wouldn't be a Prussian dominated one. Or dominated by any single German state, perhaps. The structure would be much more federalized in nature, like modern Germany and unlike the Second Reich.

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RE: OT: Battle of Kursk - 6/20/2012 8:00:21 PM   
Panzer Meyer

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Flaviusx

I'd guess we'd still get a Germany, but it wouldn't be a Prussian dominated one. Or dominated by any single German state, perhaps. The structure would be much more federalized in nature, like modern Germany and unlike the Second Reich.

Perhaps we would have seen a Austrian dominated German State instead.

As to Kursk; I have always been of the opinion that the battle was a form of mobile defense in von Manstein's eyes. He saw it as a continuation of the Kharkov operation after a relatively short rest period. While I don't think that victory in this one battle would have had a decisive change on the outcome of the war, it would have certainly given the Germans a much better footing in 43 and 44. The damage to the Soviet armies would have been great enough to delay their late summer/fall offensive to the winter at the earliest, while simultaneously shortening the German lines significantly.

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