What country had the best trained infantry in WWII?


  • '15 Official Q&A '11 '10 Moderator

    Thoroughly enjoyed the post - one thought though

    I don’t think it helps to refer to the 2:1 - 4:1 exchange ratio of US to Japan on “land battles” because there are so many different and incomparable factors.  As you mentioned - the huge industrial strength disparity.  Also, the Japanese were pretty much always on defense - it’s not like there were a lot of both, like you have in Germany vs. Russia.  There’s just no comparing amphibious assaults on Pacific islands to a European land war….

    I’d be interested to hear analysis on USA troop performance in Europe (or any other country, just specifying USA because they had the 2 very different campaigns a world apart)



  • On US performance in Europe, has anyone read Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy? I just started reading the first book, which is about Torch and the liberation of North Africa. So far, it seems that US forces are inexperienced and lucky they were landing against French troops instead of in France against German troops close to their homeland.



  • Gamerman01 wrote:

    I’d be interested to hear analysis on USA troop performance in Europe (or any other country, just specifying USA because they had the 2 very different campaigns a world apart)

    In late 1942, American troops invaded Algeria. The result was a battle between the Americans and the French. The two sides soon negotiated a peace treaty. But before they did, America achieved a 2.5-to-1 exchange ratio against the French. As you pointed out, an exchange ratio is not necessarily a good measurement of infantry effectiveness. If one side (such as the United States) happens to have an overwhelming advantage in air power, equipment, and numbers, one would expect such a nation to achieve a favorable ratio.

    In 1943, the U.S. and Britain invaded Italy. In the opinion of the U.S. military officer who performed the study I’d mentioned earlier, that combat represented the best example of American and British soldiers going up against Germans. However, he pointed out that the German force in Italy was relatively small, that it was a reserve force, and that as such it did not have the same equipment as a front line force of equal size might have had. Also, a significant percentage of its soldiers had been sent there for rest and recovery (recovery from battle wounds, for example). Based on his analysis of Anglo-American performance against this force, the author of the study concluded that American soldiers were 80 - 100% as combat-effective as the Germans, and that the British were 50% as combat-effective. (Elsewhere, he acknowledged the possibility that he’d overestimated American soldiers’ combat-effectiveness.)

    In the Soviet Union there was a strong dislike for Stalin. When Hitler invaded, he found that a significant percentage of the population was willing to join the German Army, so that they could fight against communism. One would think that the logical place for these volunteers would be on the eastern front, against communism. However, in 1944 Germany was experiencing a dramatic troop shortage, and needed to quickly transfer soldiers to its western front to prepare against American and British invasion. Many of its best western front soldiers were placed in Calais, because that is where the Germans expected the blow to land. On most of the Normandy beachheads, American and British soldiers faced mostly Russians. Only at Omaha did the Allies face actual German soldiers. Hence the phrase “Bloody Omaha.” The U.S. lost 3000 men at Omaha, in exchange for 1200 Germans. On the one hand, the Americans enjoyed air supremacy, the benefit of battleship bombardments, far more weapons and equipment than the Germans, and a 5:1 numerical advantage over the German defenders. On the other hand, the Germans had the advantage of being the defender, and the advantage of having had time to prepare their defenses. The analysis of the Italian campaign probably provides a more accurate picture of relative combat effectiveness than does this one isolated battle.

    During the initial phases of the Battle of the Bulge, bad weather prevented the Allies from receiving much benefit from their air supremacy. That’s useful, because we want ground battles, without the complicating factor of one side pummeling the other side from the air. The Battle of the Bulge was useful in another way as well, because it consisted of both attacks and counterattacks. Over the course of the battle each side was given opportunities to be on offense and on defense.

    Many of Germany’s best soldiers were sent to the Battle of the Bulge. However, that battle occurred in late 1944. By that point, Germany was running very low on “best soldiers” it could send. To fill out its numbers, many of the German soldiers in that battle were old men or boys. A number of infantry divisions were poorly equipped. Germany’s tanks in that battle were often immobilized due to its fuel shortages. The exchange ratio in that battle was approximately 1:1.

    The Battle of Berlin began just three months after the Battle of the Bulge. While no American troops were involved in the Battle of Berlin, that battle nevertheless illustrates the types of problems the German military faced at the time.


    The German defences were mainly led by Helmuth Weidling and consisted of several depleted, badly equipped, and disorganised Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, the latter of which included many SS foreign volunteers, as well as poorly trained Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members.


    The Volkssturm consisted almost entirely of old men and children; while the Hitler Youth was of course children. The Soviets experienced 81,000 losses in the Battle of Berlin; as compared to about 95,000 losses for Germany. Just two years earlier, the usual exchange ratio between Germany and the U.S.S.R. had been 3:1 in Germany’s favor. The fact that the Soviets later attained–and even slightly exceeded–a 1:1 ratio is one of several pieces of evidence which demonstrate Germany had reached the very end of its strength.

    I’m less familiar with the Pacific war than I am the European war. That said, I know that during the early stages of the war between the U.S. and Japan, Japanese military doctrine called for the bulk of their defenses to be placed on or near beaches. That doctrine made them vulnerable to shore bombardment and attack from the air, and was a significant factor in the favorable exchange ratios American forces obtained. Late in the war, a maverick Japanese army officer used a different approach. His defenses on or near beaches were light. Once his beachhead defenses had been conquered, the Americans assumed that since the shell had been cracked, the whole defensive structure for that island would crumble. Instead of that, the Japanese officer and his men conducted a long and effective defensive campaign from the interior of the island. They used natural and artificial tunnels, caves, mountains, etc. Their plan was to hold out as long as possible while inflicting the maximum possible damage on the enemy.

    However, it’s difficult to translate that one battle into an overall comparison between Japanese and American soldiers’ combat-effectiveness. The Japanese had the natural advantages of being on defense, and the island in question had a physical structure very, very well-suited to defense.


  • '15 Official Q&A '11 '10 Moderator

    I read it all

    Didn’t the Germans have a significant advantage of being on defense and often having higher ground in Italy, too?



  • @Gamerman01:

    I read it all

    Didn’t the Germans have a significant advantage of being on defense and often having higher ground in Italy, too?

    Yes, but that’s something which was taken into account when the U.S. military performed the study I’d mentioned. There were times in Italy when the German Army attacked, and of course times when the British or American armies attacked. The study looked specifically at what happened when the German army attacked, and compared those results to events when the British or American armies attacked. Same thing with defense. By looking at all available data, they were able to develop a composite picture of relative combat effectiveness.



  • You are right about the belligerents, Kurt.  Though, it always feels weird reading that the US/Brits fought the French, initially, in French-North Africa.  I like to call them the “traitor/occupied/Vichy French” and the “free French” for the other side.  It just makes me feel better, haha.


  • '15 Official Q&A '11 '10 Moderator

    Very interesting, thanks for fielding both questions Kurt!


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '12

    What I’ve read, and it’s a lot, is Germany best at the start, Russia the worst with German forces becoming very differentiated later on w/ some excellent units and increasing numbers of mediocre units.  The Russians were actually able to field some very effective divisions 44 on but still had a swath of cannon fodder. Britain, France etc were always ok.  The US was so so, but we had excellent, unsurpassed maybe, fire control w/artillery etc that made infantry effectiveness a second order issue.  On of the big lessons drawn by the US from WWII was how ineffective infantry were, especially w/rifles.

    I would never say Japanese infantry were that great.  They, at all times during the war, had mediocre to outdated equipment and horrible logistics.  Sure, they could make up some of it w/zeal, but in the end they never came out on top of the US after 42.  They had a pretty bad loss ratio to the US starting a Guadalcanal.

    Keep in mind that most of the Pacific land battles in 41/early 42 were, aside from Singapore, pretty small affairs w/ Japan swooping down, surrounding and cutting off small isolated, poorly equipped garrisons.



  • WraithZero wrote,

    I like to call them the “traitor/occupied/Vichy French” and the “free French” for the other side.  It just makes me feel better, haha.

    I would disagree with that characterization. I strongly believe that those who joined Vichy France never wavered in their loyalty or love for France. Love of France and war against Germany are not analogous concepts. It’s also worth noting that England and France had been at war against each other for more years than the United States has existed. Churchill’s decision to sink the French navy may have brought some of those memories to the surface.

    On the other hand, many of the so-called “Free French” were communists. The stated objective of communism is to overthrow the world’s existing governments and to replace them with one world government. A communist government. Undoubtedly, many or most of these communist Free French still felt love or loyalty toward France. Perhaps communist leadership felt it would be better to wait until after the war was over to ween these men of their love for France; and to attempt to replace that love with a love for a global dictatorship of the proletariat.

    Karl wrote,

    What I’ve read, and it’s a lot, is Germany best at the start, Russia the worst

    By the summer of 1941, 80% of German men ages 20 - 30 were members of the military. (The other 20% were considered too vital to industry to be released for military service.) Over 80% of German military losses were incurred on its eastern front. Together, these two facts meant that the enormous losses Germany would sustain on its eastern front would be made good not by drafting men of military age, but by adding men who were of non-ideal age. At first it was adding men who were maybe a few years older than that ideal range. But as the war progressed and casualties mounted, the age range of German soldiers broadened. By mid to late '44 there were plenty of old men and boys in the German Army. Also, the percentage of non-Germans in the German Army increased as the war progressed. Military historians describe the German Army of '44 as having been a shell of the German Army in '41.

    Stalin tended to downplay the accomplishments of the pre-Barbarossa Red Army, so as not to alarm his neighbors. But if that propaganda effort is stripped away, we see that the Red Army had some remarkable achievements in 1939 and 1940. In 1939, the Soviet Union found itself in an undeclared war against Japan. The Red Army won a crushing victory in '39 in the Battles of Khalkhin Gol. They achieved an offensive victory over the Japanese by having a weak center, strong flanks, a high level of mobility, and excellent air power. The objective was to use enveloping tactics and mobility to surround an enemy force; while using air power to knock out roads and bridges the enemy had needed. It was a sound philosophy, soundly executed. However, Stalin ordered total censorship of this Soviet victory. The Japanese were of course less than eager to advertise their defeat. As a consequence the rest of the world did not learn of what the Red Army had accomplished in 1939.

    Prior to WWII, Finland had built multi-layered defenses on the Karelian isthmus, to guard against Soviet invasion. Many or most military experts considered those defenses impregnable. Due to the layout of the land, it was impossible to bypass those defenses. The only way to conquer Finland was to go straight through some of the best-defended terrain on the entire surface of the Earth. The Red Army achieved exactly that in 1940–albeit with substantial losses. Soviet propagandists claimed that the Red Army performed poorly in that engagement; and that it would be years before it was ready for war. Those claims are evidence that the Red Army performed well; and that Soviet leaders were planning a war of aggression. (Had the Red Army actually performed badly, Soviet leaders would hardly have wanted to advertise that weakness to their expansionistic neighbors.)

    It’s true that the Red Army performed poorly in Operation Barbarossa. Germany achieved a 10:1 exchange ratio in the summer and fall of '41.

    Well prior to Barbarossa, each Soviet officer had been issued a sealed packet. A packet was only to be opened upon outbreak of hostilities. When Germany invaded, each officer opened his packet. Upon doing so, he found plenty of information about what to do if the Soviet Union invaded Germany–and nothing at all about how to respond to a German invasion of the Soviet Union. The Soviet military’s deployment, weapons mix, troop movements and doctrine would have made perfect sense for a Soviet invasion of Germany in August 1941. They were completely unsuited to defending against a German invasion. The fact that the Soviet military leadership was taken completely off-guard was the main reason Germany achieved a 10:1 exchange ratio in Barbarossa. (As opposed to the 3:1 ratio which would become normal later in the war.) Also in '41, Soviet generals had a far less sophisticated understanding of tactics and strategy than did their German counterparts. During the Nazi-Soviet war, Soviet generals learned by example from German generals; thereby partly closing the sophistication gap. “We taught them too well,” General von Manstein remarked.



  • Just going to touch on a few things here as this discussion has moved towards Eastern Front fighting and most of my research has been in this particular theater of the war. Firstly, to consider the Soviet invasion of Finland a success is, frankly, ridiculous. The Red Army was orders of magnitude larger and better equipped than the Finnish army, there is no level of preparedness that could have come even close to bridging the gap between those two armies. That the Red Army stumbled so badly against Finland demonstrates the sheer ineptitude of Soviet military leadership and it was rightly seen by the rest of the world, and Stalin himself no doubt, as a failure. Furthermore, the assertion that this blunder was intentionally made known to the rest of the world by Soviet propagandists is erroneous. There was no covering that up, that’s how badly that campaign went.

    I must also take issue with the assertion that Stalin attempted to downplay the accomplishments of the Red Army prior to Barbarossa for two reasons:

    1. Germany and the Soviet Union were very interested in exchanging military research, and experts were sent and received by both countries to evaluate the capabilities of the other during the 1930s

    2. There was nothing to cover up, the Red Army’s only notable campaign before Barbarossa was against the Japanese and the Finns and neither of those were secrets

    Additionally, Stalin had no reason to downplay the quality of the Red Army prior to Barbarossa. Indeed, one of the (many) reasons Barbarossa was such a surprise for Stalin was his belief that Hitler would not deliberately open a second front without completely dealing with the first. In fact, Stalin held this belief so ardently that he refused to believe intelligence given to him not only by the British but also his own staff, and even believed Hitler when he informed Stalin that Axis troops being redeployed to the Eastern frontier were simply training for the invasion of the United Kingdom.

    On top of THAT is the fact that the Red Army was being completely reorganized and reequipped at the time that Barbarossa occurred, and Stalin knew that that was going to be a dangerous time for any major confrontation with his neighbours. It literally makes zero sense that he would try to downplay the quality of his troops and their accomplishments given these facts. If anything, they’re reasons that he would have been much more overt about the strength of the Red Army.

    Apologies to KurtGodel7 if any of this sounds abrasive, but a lot of your assertions fly in the face with my research on the Eastern Front and interwar politics. I am only interested in scholarly discussion and have no wish to hurt anyone’s feelings.



  • @creeping-deth87:

    Just going to touch on a few things here as this discussion has moved towards Eastern Front fighting and most of my research has been in this particular theater of the war. Firstly, to consider the Soviet invasion of Finland a success is, frankly, ridiculous. The Red Army was orders of magnitude larger and better equipped than the Finnish army, there is no level of preparedness that could have come even close to bridging the gap between those two armies. That the Red Army stumbled so badly against Finland demonstrates the sheer ineptitude of Soviet military leadership and it was rightly seen by the rest of the world, and Stalin himself no doubt, as a failure. Furthermore, the assertion that this blunder was intentionally made known to the rest of the world by Soviet propagandists is erroneous. There was no covering that up, that’s how badly that campaign went.

    I must also take issue with the assertion that Stalin attempted to downplay the accomplishments of the Red Army prior to Barbarossa for two reasons:

    1. Germany and the Soviet Union were very interested in exchanging military research, and experts were sent and received by both countries to evaluate the capabilities of the other during the 1930s

    2. There was nothing to cover up, the Red Army’s only notable campaign before Barbarossa was against the Japanese and the Finns and neither of those were secrets

    Additionally, Stalin had no reason to downplay the quality of the Red Army prior to Barbarossa. Indeed, one of the (many) reasons Barbarossa was such a surprise for Stalin was his belief that Hitler would not deliberately open a second front without completely dealing with the first. In fact, Stalin held this belief so ardently that he refused to believe intelligence given to him not only by the British but also his own staff, and even believed Hitler when he informed Stalin that Axis troops being redeployed to the Eastern frontier were simply training for the invasion of the United Kingdom.

    On top of THAT is the fact that the Red Army was being completely reorganized and reequipped at the time that Barbarossa occurred, and Stalin knew that that was going to be a dangerous time for any major confrontation with his neighbours. It literally makes zero sense that he would try to downplay the quality of his troops and their accomplishments given these facts. If anything, they’re reasons that he would have been much more overt about the strength of the Red Army.

    Apologies to KurtGodel7 if any of this sounds abrasive, but a lot of your assertions fly in the face with my research on the Eastern Front and interwar politics. I am only interested in scholarly discussion and have no wish to hurt anyone’s feelings.

    Creeping Deth wrote:

    Apologies to KurtGodel7 if any of this sounds abrasive, but a lot of your assertions fly in the face
    with my research on the Eastern Front and interwar politics. I am only interested in scholarly
    discussion and have no wish to hurt anyone’s feelings.

    No apologies necessary. Prior to having read Victor Suvorov’s book, I would have agreed with the majority of your post. I was frequently surprised by the information Suvorov had brought to light, and gradually came to modify my perspective as a result of that new data. As for Suvorov’s credentials: he had been a member of the KGB, until defecting to Britain in the '70s. As a member of the KGB he had been given access to Soviet archives denied to all non-Soviets, and also denied to the vast majority of Soviet citizens. Suvorov pointed out that the Soviet Union had been a criminal regime, and that therefore the tactics of a criminal investigator were appropriate. Historians–with their reliance on journalists to write the “first draft” for them–do not always use the tactics needed to penetrate the Soviet veil of secrecy. Suvorov’s bias is anti-communist but pro-Russian. He is proud of the military achievements of the Red Army–his fellow Russians–while strongly condemning Stalin’s evil legacy of terror and mass murder.

    Firstly, to consider the Soviet invasion of Finland a success is, frankly, ridiculous.

    Finland had built very powerful defenses on the Karelian isthmus. Those defenses were seized during the Winter War, leaving the nation helpless against any subsequent Soviet invasion. The objective of the Winter War was (according to Suvorov) to seize those Karelian defenses, and that objective was achieved. (Despite having been considered a military impossibility.) Having rendered Finland defenseless, why didn’t Stalin grab the nation as a whole? Suvorov believes that Stalin had planned to do exactly that–after he had invaded Germany. To grab it ahead of time would be to alert Germany to Stalin’s aggressive intentions.

    That the Red Army stumbled so badly against Finland demonstrates the sheer ineptitude of Soviet military leadership

    In comparison with the Germans, the Red Army’s leadership was indeed inept. (Probably to a much greater degree than Stalin had realized.) But in the undeclared war between Japan and the Soviet Union, the Red Army won a series of stunning victories. Anyone looking at the results of that undeclared war would conclude the Soviets had a very high level of military preparedness in 1939; which of course had significantly increased by 1941. The favorable exchange ratio the Finns achieved during the Winter War could be seen as evidence of the strength of Finland’s defenses and the difficulty of the task of conquering those defenses.

    1. Germany and the Soviet Union were very interested in exchanging military research, and experts were sent
      and received by both countries to evaluate the capabilities of the other during the 1930s

    I remember having read something along those lines myself. However, Suvorov pointed out that on the domestic front, Stalin had a habit of allying with B against A. Then he’d align with C against B. Finally, he’d eliminate C. Suvorov believes that Stalin took exactly that same approach to Soviet foreign relations. The fact that the Soviet Union and Germany had cooperated during the '30s is not evidence of benign intent on the part of Stalin. Suvorov believes that it was more of the same “align with B against A, then align with C against B” strategy seen so often in Stalin’s domestic political affairs.

    1. There was nothing to cover up, the Red Army’s only notable campaign before Barbarossa was against the Japanese and the Finns and neither of those were secrets

    Suvorov points out that all mention of the Soviets’ victories over the Japanese were censored from the Soviet media. Also, the Soviet propaganda machine sold the Winter War as a “defeat,” even though the Red Army succeeded in conquering Finland’s defenses. (Leaving Finland with no means of defending itself from subsequent Soviet attack.)

    Indeed, one of the (many) reasons Barbarossa was such a surprise for Stalin was his belief that Hitler would not deliberately open a second front without completely dealing with the first.

    It is true that Stalin believed Germany would not attack first. Soviet officers were given sealed packets, to be opened in the event of hostilities between Germany and the Soviet Union. When Germany invaded, each officer opened his packet. Upon doing so, he found plenty of information on what to do if the Soviet Union invaded Germany. And nothing at all on how he should act if Germany invaded the Soviet Union. This surprise effect was pivotal in Germany’s achieving a 10:1 exchange ratio during Operation Barbarossa. (As opposed to the 3:1 ratio which would become normal later in the war.)

    Stalin’s certainty about his theory was not based on blind faith only. He was also conducting an extensive spying campaign within Germany. To create proper winter uniforms, it is absolutely necessary to use sheepskin. Stalin’s spies monitored German sheep markets, and found no evidence of preparation of such winter uniforms. Also for winter war it is necessary to have winterized fuel supplies and lubrication oil supplies. Stalin’s spies found no evidence to suggest Germany was winterizing any of its fuel or lubricant supplies. Further, Stalin’s spies had found that Germany had only enough fuel reserves for two to three months of active campaigning, after which its military operations would slow down precipitously due to lack of fuel. Finally, Stalin had a considerable numerical advantage on that front, including (IIRC) a better than 10:1 ratio in available tanks. Based on these data Stalin reasonably concluded that Hitler would be a fool to invade. According to Suvorov Hitler understood the basic logic of not invading. And he added that Hitler had had no plans to invade, until he’d gotten wind of Stalin’s plan to invade Germany. Even though Germany’s massive troop movements to the Eastern front began after Stalin’s, Germany’s were finished first. This was due to a variety of factors: Germany had a good transportation system, Germany had to send its soldiers a shorter distance than did the Soviet Union, and Germany had fewer soldiers to send. Germany’s troop concentration was therefore completed several weeks ahead of the Soviet schedule, allowing Germany to strike first.


  • '15 Official Q&A '11 '10 Moderator

    I appreciate that synopsis Kurt, thanks for typing it up
    I think it helps clear up some fog I’ve always had with this particular area of history



  • @KurtGodel7:

    And he added that Hitler had had no plans to invade, until he’d gotten wind of Stalin’s plan to invade Germany

    Right here is where you lost me. I could have maybe bought all the other stuff you’re telling me this Suvorov has written until I got to this sentence. There is no way anyone is going to convince me Stalin had plans to invade Germany around the time Barbarossa occurred, not with the sheer scale of the reorganization the Red Army was going through and certainly not with the gradual phasing out of the obsolete BT7 and T-26 tanks that made up the bulk of the Soviet Union’s tank fleet. It doesn’t make a single iota of sense and makes all of Suvorov’s other claims highly circumspect. I have no doubt Stalin intended to eventually invade Western Europe, but the war he wanted was years away, not weeks as your post suggests.



  • Creeping Deth wrote:

    There is no way anyone is going to convince me Stalin had plans to invade Germany
    around the time Barbarossa occurred, not with the sheer scale of the reorganization
    the Red Army was going through and certainly not with the gradual phasing out of the
    obsolete BT7 and T-26 tanks that made up the bulk of the Soviet Union’s tank fleet.

    Suvorov addresses the subject of tanks in great detail. A search for the word “tank” in his Kindle book yielded over 200 results. He makes some very good points:

    1. Prior to WWII, no nation in the world had heavy tanks–except the Soviet Union. The Soviets began producing heavy tanks in 1933 (the T-35). By June '41, the Germans had begun working with pencil and paper to design their own heavy tanks. Germany would become the second nation in the world to have heavy tanks. At least as of 1943, there was no “third place” nation, because no third nation had heavy tanks.

    2. Prior to WWII, no nation had amphibious tanks–again with the exception of the Soviet Union. When Hitler invaded, Stalin had more amphibious, light tanks than Germany had total tanks. Light, amphibious tanks are very poorly suited for defense, and thousands of such tanks were abandoned when Germany invaded. But if you are on offense, such tanks are an absolutely vital tool: for crossing rivers, securing bridgeheads, and for pushing deep into the enemy rear.

    3. In 1941, no German tank or other non-Soviet tank was the equal of the Soviets’ T-28 medium tank.

    4. The Soviets had begun producing the KV heavy tank in 1940. (At a time when, again, no one else in the world had heavy tanks.)

    5. In 1941, no non-Soviet nation had anything comparable to the T-35. The T-35 was nevertheless labeled “obsolete” by a Soviet government trying to explain away Germany’s successes in Barbarossa.

    6. In September of 1939, Germany had 3,195 tanks. As of January 1st 1939 the Red Army had 21,000 battle-ready tanks.

    7. BT stood for bystrokhodnyi (high speed) tank. The T-34 was a direct descendant of the BT. The BT had sloped frontal armor. The 45 mm gun on a BT could penetrate the armor of any non-Soviet tank. Later versions of the BT were armed with 76 mm KT-26 cannons: a better weapon than any non-Soviet tank at the time. (In 1941, the most powerful American tank had a 37 mm cannon.) Germany’s Pz-I had no cannon, the Pz-II had a 20 mm cannon, and the Pz-III had a weak 37 mm cannon. The Pz-IV had a 75 mm cannon, but the shortness of its barrel made it unsuitable for tank-versus-tank battles. The BT-2 had a 400 horsepower engine. Germany would not have a tank engine that powerful until the end of 1942. The BT had a specific power of 36.4 horsepower per ton of mass: a better specific power than any non-Soviet tank. The German tank with the highest specific power was the T-IIIJ tank; with a specific power of 13.9 horsepower per ton of mass. Early BTs had a top speed of 69 mph, or 110 km/hr. Again, that is better than any non-Soviet tank. Unlike non-Soviet tanks, the BT could cross rivers underwater. The BT’s armor was merely “bulletproof,” which was no worse than the armor of German tanks of comparable size. (And in terms of firepower, mobility, and top speed it was significantly better than non-Soviet tanks of its size, including German tanks.) Due to its wide treads, the BT was excellent at dealing with mud, snow, and other such conditions.

    8. At the beginning of WWII the Red Army had 6,456 BT tanks–as many BT tanks as all other nations in the world, combined, had total tanks.

    9. The BT was unsuitable a defensive role, and was not optimized for warfare on Soviet soil. Its main advantage was its speed. But to achieve ideal speed, it would be necessary to remove its treads and replace them with wheels. Then, it would drive on well-paved highways. (Of which the Soviet Union had few.) Germany, however, had an excellent highway system. There was general agreement that the BT was at its best when using wheels rather than treads. (But it was considered necessary to have both available.)

    Below is a quote from Zuvorov’s book


    Polesye–the biggest region of swamplands in Europe, possibly even in the world–lies between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. Polesye was unsuitable for the mass movement of troops and the conduct of military operations. The area divided the [Soviets’] western theater of operations into two strategic directions. . . .

    Invasion into Central Europe, north of Polesye, would be a direct blow on Berlin. However, in the attacker’s way lay heavily fortified Eastern Prussia and Koenigsberg. A blow to the south, however, was a diversion to the side, a roundabout route. However, it would be a blow to almost unprotected Romania, the oil heart of Germany. On synthetic fuel alone, Germany could not survive. Therefore, it was decided to play two games, compare the results, and make the choice. In the first game, the main attack on Central Europe was carried out north of Polesye, from Belarus and the Baltic. In the second game, the invasion was carried out from Ukraine and Moldova. If Germany were crushed, the rest of continental Europe would shower Stalin with flowers and his tanks would have an open road right up to the Atlantic Ocean.

    In the second game, Zhukov, in command of Soviet troops, attacked Romania and Hungary. He found it easy to advance. First of all, there were no modern fortifications there, like those in Eastern Prussia. Zhukov had indisputable superiority of aviation, tanks, and paratroops. “The second game . . . ended with the ‘Eastern’ decision being made to attack Budapest.” . . . Zhukov himself already said that the games did not have an academic character, but were directly tied to the imminent war. Stalin was not present at the second game and did not conduct its debriefings, because he had already made his choice after seeing the results of the first one. The Soviet invasion of Europe would be conducted south of Polesye.




  • Absolutely none of what you just said is a compelling argument that the Soviet Union was going to invade Germany in 1941. You are correct that no other nation had heavy tanks prior to WWII, but they made up a very small portion of Russia’s tank fleet and very few crew had been trained to operate them. I’m not sure what bearing amphibious tanks has on the discussion, but a cool factoid nonetheless. You are correct that the disparity in raw numbers was massively in favour of the Soviet side, but again this is not compelling evidence the Soviet Union was going to invade. The BT7 and T-26 series tanks were in an utterly horrific state of disrepair. Many of them had severe technical failures on the march, so bad that a great deal of them never made it to the battlefield. Their maintenance problems, along with poor leadership at every level in the Red Army, ensured that the Wehrmacht came out on top in most of the armored engagements that went down in '41. What’s more, both the BT-7 and T-26 were being phased out for the T-34 and KV-1, but this gradual replacement program was in its infancy when the Germans invaded and many Soviet tankers had little to no experience in these new vehicles. There’s just no way Stalin was planning an invasion in the middle of such a gargantuan effort to reorganize and reequip the Red Army. I just don’t buy it.



  • Suvorov argues–convincingly–that all of the tanks Germany had in June of 1941 were obsolete by Soviet standards. As of June '41, the only German tank with a prayer of standing up to Soviet medium tanks was the Panzer IV. Germany produced fewer than 500 Panzer IVs during 1941, and had produced less than 400 Panzer IVs in 1940. By the end of '41, total production for the Panzer IV (including those produced during the prewar period) was less than 1,200 examples. (A number of which had been destroyed in France or other theaters.) As of June '41, the Soviet tank force consisted of over 25,000 tanks. German initial frontline strength in Barbarossa consisted of 3,350 tanks. Of those 3,350, the vast majority were inferior to the Panzer IV.

    The main armament on the BT-7 was a 45 mm gun. The main armament on the Panzer III was typically either 37 mm or 50 mm. The maximum armor thickness of the Panzer III was 50 mm; the maximum armor thickness of the BT-7 was 40 mm. The BT-7’s armor was sloping, much like the T-34’s. At least on paper, the BT-7 should have been able to hold its own against Germany’s second-best tank, the Panzer III. The Soviets had many thousands of other tanks which were more than a match for Germany’s best tank of 1941 (the Panzer IV).

    According to the Wikipedia article on the T-26, “The T-26 (mod. 1938/39, especially) could withstand most German tanks in 1941 but were inferior to the Panzer III and Panzer IV.”

    As of June '41, Stalin had a better than 8:1 advantage in total tanks. Stalin’s best tanks of '41 were the KV-1 and KV-2. A KV was worth about ten of Germany’s best tank of '41 (the Panzer IV.) The U.S.S.R. produced over 1,300 heavy tanks in '41, as compared to a total tank production for Germany of 3,600 for that year. Germany did not produce any heavy tanks prior to 1942. Given these data, it would have been reasonable for Stalin to have concluded that the Soviet Union would begin its war against Germany with a crushing superiority in tank warfare.

    The obvious question arises: if the Soviets started the war with more and better tanks than the Germans, how on earth did the Germans achieve so much initial success in Barbarossa? The Wikipedia article on the T-26 provides the answer: “all of the Red Army’s tank models suffered severe losses due to the air supremacy of the German Luftwaffe. The majority of the Red Army’s T-26s were lost in the first months of the German-Soviet War, mainly to enemy artillery and air attacks.”

    The Soviet Union started off with a 3:1 advantage in available military aircraft. The fact the Germans were able to achieve air supremacy under those circumstances was something of a surprise. Much of that air supremacy was due to the fact that Soviet aircraft were deployed as far forward as possible, and were quickly destroyed on the ground by German aircraft, or by advancing German land forces. The Germans produced 7,000 artillery pieces in 1940, and 11,000 artillery pieces in 1941. The Soviets produced 15,000 artillery pieces in 1940, and 42,000 in 1941. Stalin had every reason to be confident of an overwhelming numerical advantage in available men, planes, tanks, and artillery.

    When Operation Barbarossa began, the Soviet Union had more amphibious tanks than Germany had total tanks. Suvorov (pp. 54-57) provides the following explanation for the utility of amphibious tanks.


    What are they needed for? What use comes from amphibious tanks? If we are defending our own territory, if we are conducting strictly defensive warfare, amphibious tanks are not really needed. We can get by without them. In order to stop the enemy, one wants to have tanks with heavy armor and powerful weapons–the heavier and more powerful, the better.

    If we cannot stop the enemy in defensive warfare, we are forced to retreat. We retreat using our own bridges. Wen threatened with a takeover, we can detonate our bridges and send them up into the sky. There is little use for tanks with light armor and machine guns in a defensive war. Their ability to float also remains completely unused: there is nowhere to sail to in a defensive war.

    But if we are conducting a crusade for world domination, then in order to herd the population of the planet into concentration camps, labor armies, and barracks, we have different needs. In order to break through the enemy’s front, we need heavy tanks, more armor, and more powerful cannon. If a battle occurs, if two waves of tanks collide, once again, we need the most powerful tanks. Once the front line is broken and the enemy’s tank waves are defeated and crushed, our task becomes to take advantage of the moment and complete a thrust deep into the enemy’s rear, in order to split up his defenses, to have access to his communications and supply lines, to reach the aortas in order to cut them, to cut the enemy off from his supply bases, to reach his capital, his industrial regions, his sources of oil, and his ports. A heavy tank is not very good for such a thrust. Due to its weight, it breaks roads and bridges and gets in the way of all those who are following. A heavy tank consumes a lot of fuel–try to provide fuel to several thousand tanks and artillery tow trucks and tens of thousands of automobiles, which are pushing forward deep into enemy territory. Aside from all this, a heavy tank is also slow and not very agile. It slows down the movement of your columns. Moreover, it quickly wears out and chokes, like a heavyweight in a marathon. For a forward thrust, medium and light tanks are ideal. They have less armor, weaker weapons, but they have much higher speed, maneuverability, and cross-country ability, and they are more economical with their fuel.

    Now our armored armada is standing before a water obstacle. Here all heavy and medium tanks, and those light ones that have not been taught how to float, lose all their aggressive options. Their value is zero. They need a bridge. But the enemy protects the bridges, and blows them up when threatened with a takeover. Bridges have to be fought for. And it is better to fight for them not on our side, but from the side of the enemy, where they are not anticipating it. In this situation, the value of light amphibious tanks grows tremendously. If two, three, five, ten such tanks sail across the river during the night in the direction of the bridge, and with a sudden attack from the rear seize the bridge, this can decide the fate of an entire operation, or even an entire war. Now you can send to the enemy shores, across the newly seized bridge, your heavy and medium tanks, along with artillery, infantry, staff, hospitals, thousands of tons of ammunition, fuel, and spare parts. You can use the seized bridge to send in reserves, and to send the wounded, prisoners, and trophies to the rear, to send damaged machinery back for repair.

    If it is impossible to seize the bridge, the amphibious tanks become truly priceless. If there are no enemy bridges, we need to establish our own temporary bridges and means of sending goods across the river. For this we need to establish a bridgehead on the other side. The infantry is sent into battle. On logs, wooden planks, and inflatable rafts, they swim to the other shore. Meanwhile they are being fired upon by machine guns, mortars, and automatic rifles. Here, among the swimming men, imagine having ten or twenty light tanks. Their armor is not harmed by bullets and shell fragments, while their machine guns are capable of firing when none of the swimming men can.

    Now we have reached the other shore. The most important thing is to catch hold of something, to dig our forces into the ground into the next twenty minutes or so, so that no counterattacks can hinder us. . . . Our wet, wounded, and exhausted infantry does not carry heavy weapons or ammunition. So, in these very first, most frightening minutes on enemy shores, the presence, help, and support of even one of the lightest tanks with just one machine gun is far more valuable and important than ten more powerful heavy tanks that would be forced to remain on our side of the river. . . .

    By June 22, 1941, Hitler had on the eastern front 180 tanks in the under-six-ton category. Not one of them was amphibious and not one could compete with the Soviet light tanks. Stalin, on the other hand, had more than 4,000 tanks in this weight category. All of them were amphibious. . . . The T-40 [light] tanks were still in production, the paint not yet dried on many of them. . . . The vast majority of T-40s were less than a year old. . . . When did they have time to become obsolete? When did they have time to become worn out? On June 22, 1941, on the eastern front, Hitler had 3,350 tanks in total of all types, all of them obsolete and among all of them not a single amphibious one, while Stalin’s amphibious tanks alone numbered over 4,000.

    By overcoming stormy Lake Ilmen, even the oldest of Soviet amphibious tanks proved the possibility of crossing the English Channel. But these tanks were designed for lakes and rivers. For crossing the English Channel, Stalin had other designs in the works for the future–the amphibious PT-1 and its variants. It weighed 14 tons, had a 500-horsepower engine, a speed of 6 km/hr in the water and could reach 62 km/hr on land, and 90 km/hr when it shed its caterpillar tracks. This was a hybrid of a highway and an amphibious tank. . . . It was armed with a 45 mm cannon and four machine guns. . . .

    The fate of Soviet amphibious tanks is a sad one: they were of no use in a defensive war. Where would they sail? . . . Commanders easily parted with them: they ordered what was left of the fuel to be pumped into the medium and heavy tanks. The light ones were blown up, burned, broken, sunk, or just abandoned. . . . Why did Stalin need four thousand amphibious tanks, which he could not use in a defensive war? Where was comrade Stalin planning to sail?




  • I would give it to the Germans for most of the war up until the final year or two but even then they always seemed to give the Allies a few surprises. The only other Nation that could compete would be the British commonwealth (all countries fighting as members of the commonwealth since there were so many and on so many fronts) because they had at least a very professional army in the pre war years where as countries like USA, had a very small standing army. However we are talking about man to man and this would have to go to the Germans because they were physically fit like athletes, very dedicated to their commanders and leaders, and they had very good understanding on how to use their equipment. However as the war progressed the crack troops Germany started the war with became less and less do to losses on all fronts. To sum it all up  Germany had the best soldiers through most of the war right up untill the end where as the allies would spend the war trying to catch up and would often get caught by the German tactics examples being the battle of the buldge, the battle of Normandy, the Battles of Sicily and Italy.



  • Kurt, you’re making counter-points to arguments I’m not making. I never said the German tanks in '41 were not obsolete. The Panzerwaffe had already demonstrated an alarming degree of ineffectiveness against the Char Bs and other heavy tanks during the campaign against France, they would run into the same problem in the Soviet Union against the T-34 and KV-1 series but they were fortunate enough to catch the Reds with their pants down.

    I never asked for the specifications of the BT-7, so I’m not sure why those are provided. I must also take issue with the assertion that the Soviets started the war with better tanks. The T-34 and KV-1 certainly were better, but as already mentioned these were but a fraction of the Soviet tank fleet. The BT-7 and T-26 made up the great bulk of Soviet’s armoured forces, and saying that they were superior is overstating their abilities. At best, they were equally matched against the Panzer III, IV, and 38T models.

    As for your Wikipedia facts, I’m not sure if you’re misrepresenting your source or if it’s flat out incorrect, but the Germans certainly did not enjoy aerial supremacy or artillery support to such an extent that they explain away most of the T-26s lost in action. The Luftwaffe was still recovering, and indeed would never recover, from the staggering losses it suffered against the British the year prior to Barbarossa. Furthermore, many pilots were still tied up in Western Europe and unavailable for service in Russia. This meant that the Germans only ever enjoyed local superiority in the air. The situation with their artillery was largely the same story, they never had enough shells to go around and were constantly undergunned in comparison to the Red Army. There is absolutely no way air attack and artillery support account for the poor performance of the T-26.

    Finally, I will add that the existence of 4,000 amphibious tanks does not prove that Stalin was planning to invade Germany in the summer of '41. Nor does the existence of those tanks explain how such an invasion would be possible in the midst of the massive rearmament and reorganization being undertaken by the Red Army at the time Barbarossa occurred. I don’t know if you fully appreciate the extent of these reforms, none of them could have been accomplished in the time frame we’re talking about here. Stalin was YEARS away from invading Western Europe, not weeks.

    The more I’m reading the less credible I find this Suvorov, these are very fantastic claims that completely go against the historical narrative. I may have to give his book a shot if for nothing else than to look at his sources.



  • Creeping Deth wrote:

    Kurt, you’re making counter-points to arguments I’m not making

    Not everything I’ve written in the last few posts was intended as a counterpoint. Suvorov painted a clear picture of a Soviet Union preparing for the invasion and subjugation of Europe, and presented large amounts of data in support of that picture. My intention here had been to give people a glimpse of that picture; a task which seemed more worthwhile than getting into a nitpicky, point-by-point argument with someone who hasn’t yet read Suvorov’s book.

    I must also take issue with the assertion that the Soviets started the war with better tanks.

    The Soviet Union’s best tanks (KV series) were much, much better than Germany’s best tanks (Panzer IVs). An argument could be made that in 1941, a KV-1 or KV-2 was worth about ten German tanks. The Soviets’ production of 1300 KV-1/KV-2 tanks in 1941 could have balanced out a total German tank production of 13,000 for 1941. Germany produced 3,600 tanks in 1941, which means that Soviets’ KV production for 1941, alone, provided about 3.5x the combat value of Germany’s total tank production for that year.

    The Soviets’ second-best tank in 1941 was the T-34. Obviously a T-34 was more than a match for Germany’s best tank of 1941 (the Panzer IV), let alone Germany’s second-best tank (the Panzer III). The Soviets built 2,800 T-34s in 1941, almost as many as Germany’s total tank production for the year (3,600). The combat value of those 2,800 T-34s greatly exceeded the combat value of the 3,600 obsolete tanks Germany had produced in '41. Combined, KV production and T-34 production for 1941 was 4,100; 500 more than Germany’s total tank production for the year. The worst of those 4,100 tanks (the T-34) was worth several times as much as the best of Germany’s 3,600 (the Panzer IV). Even if we ignore all the tanks the Soviet Union produced in 1941 that weren’t T-34s or KVs, it still produced more and better tanks than Germany.

    Of the 3,600 tanks Germany produced in 1941, less than 500 were Panzer IVs. Another 2,200 were Panzer IIIs, and the rest (about 900) were weaker than Panzer IIIs. The Soviet Union could have countered every Panzer IV produced in 1941 with 2.5 KV-series tanks produced that same year. Bear in mind that a KV was many times better than a Panzer IV. The Soviets could have countered every Panzer III produced in 1941 with 1.25 T-34s produced in '41.

    In addition to the 4,100 KVs and T-34s the Soviet Union produced in '41, it also produced 2,300 light tanks. Granted, Soviet light tanks weren’t particularly well-suited to tank-on-tank combat. (Though they were better at this than German light tanks.) But tank-on-tank combat was not the purpose for which those light tanks were intended. The idea was to use medium and heavy tanks to achieve breakthroughs, then use light tanks to exploit the breakthroughs.

    As for your Wikipedia facts, I’m not sure if you’re misrepresenting your source

    Rather than idly speculating on whether I’d “misrepresented” that or any other source, you should have clicked on the link (which I’d provided) to see for yourself what the source had indicated. Had you done so, you would have seen that I’d simply copied and pasted a sentence from the Wikipedia article; and that the surrounding context did not negate the clear and obvious meaning of the sentence in question.

    but the Germans certainly did not enjoy aerial supremacy or artillery support to such an extent that they explain away most of the T-26s lost in action.

    On June 22 1941, the Soviet Union had 13,500 military aircraft near the Nazi-Soviet front, as opposed to 4,400 for Germany. During the ensuing months, the Soviets would lose 21,000 military aircraft, as opposed to 3,800 for Germany. From a different article


    The VVS [Soviet Air Force], although continually resisting, was powerless to prevent the Luftwaffe inflicting heavy losses to Soviet ground forces, and for the rest of 1941 the Luftwaffe could devote much of its energy to these ground support missions. . . .

    The Luftwaffe was particularly effective in breaking up and destroying Soviet armored divisions. The Soviet tank force had an estimated strength of 15,000 tanks at the beginning of the invasion. By October that force had, in the central sector, been reduced to 150.[51]


    There is absolutely no way air attack and artillery support account for the poor performance of the T-26.

    Had both sides’ aircraft, artillery, anti-tank weapons, and other non-tanks somehow been excluded from the eastern front, the Soviets’ tanks would have annihilated the Germans’. The T-26 was not a great tank, but neither was it horrible. The main gun of a T-26 could penetrate 35 mm of vertical armor from a distance of 1000 meters. The main gun of a Panzer III could penetrate 44 mm of vertical armor from a distance of 1000 meters. The Panzer III had significantly thicker armor than the T-26. (As one would expect, given that the Panzer III was a medium tank, and the T-26 was a light tank.) I’m not trying to suggest that a somewhat older Soviet light tank, like the T-26, was the equivalent of a German medium tank like the Panzer III. (It wasn’t.) But the fact that the (light tank) T-26’s armament was 80% as good as the (medium tank) Panzer III’s suggests that even the Soviet Union’s least powerful, light tanks were still pretty good.

    Finally, I will add that the existence of 4,000 amphibious tanks does not prove that Stalin was planning to invade Germany in the summer of '41.

    I had to read a very big chunk of Suvorov’s book before becoming convinced Stalin had planned to invade Germany in '41. Light, amphibious tanks were far better-suited to offense than defense. In '41, the Soviet Union had more light, amphibious tanks than Germany had total tanks. But that datum was just one puzzle piece in Suvorov’s larger picture. (And not the most convincing puzzle piece, at least not to me.)



  • @KurtGodel7:

    Not everything I’ve written in the last few posts was intended as a counterpoint. Suvorov painted a clear picture of a Soviet Union preparing for the invasion and subjugation of Europe, and presented large amounts of data in support of that picture. My intention here had been to give people a glimpse of that picture; a task which seemed more worthwhile than getting into a nitpicky, point-by-point argument with someone who hasn’t yet read Suvorov’s book.

    An admirable intention, but I don’t think you realize how unconvincing your arguments are. Most of your posting so far has contained irrelevant information on the specifications of the Soviet Union’s armoured vehicles, as if these alone are proof that Stalin was planning to invade in 1941. Several posts later, you still haven’t once addressed my counterpoint that an invasion would have been practically impossible amidst the refit and reorganization of the Red Army.

    I must also take issue with the assertion that the Soviets started the war with better tanks.

    The Soviet Union’s best tanks (KV series) were much, much better than Germany’s best tanks (Panzer IVs). An argument could be made that in 1941, a KV-1 or KV-2 was worth about ten German tanks. The Soviets’ production of 1300 KV-1/KV-2 tanks in 1941 could have balanced out a total German tank production of 13,000 for 1941. Germany produced 3,600 tanks in 1941, which means that Soviets’ KV production for 1941, alone, provided about 3.5x the combat value of Germany’s total tank production for that year.

    This is exactly what I’m talking about. My VERY NEXT SENTENCE after the one you quoted above was an admission that the T-34 and KV series tanks were objectively better vehicles, and for some reason you decided to spew out 4 paragraphs saying how much better they were and talking about production numbers. This kind of selective quoting and response is generally looked down on in discussion forums, you shouldn’t do it.

    Rather than idly speculating on whether I’d “misrepresented” that or any other source, you should have clicked on the link (which I’d provided) to see for yourself what the source had indicated. Had you done so, you would have seen that I’d simply copied and pasted a sentence from the Wikipedia article; and that the surrounding context did not negate the clear and obvious meaning of the sentence in question.

    I didn’t click your link because I’ve read enough scholarly work and memoirs on this subject to know that your assertion was erroneous. Wikipedia is notorious for unreliable information, it is by no means a gold standard to hang up your argument.

    On June 22 1941, the Soviet Union had 13,500 military aircraft near the Nazi-Soviet front, as opposed to 4,400 for Germany. During the ensuing months, the Soviets would lose 21,000 military aircraft, as opposed to 3,800 for Germany

    This is not a counterpoint. Nothing in the above two sentences contradicts the fact that the Luftwaffe was spread incredibly thin on the Eastern Front and was only capable of local air supremacy. It absolutely could not be responsible for destroying the vast bulk of the T-26 series tanks as you earlier stated.

    Had both sides’ aircraft, artillery, anti-tank weapons, and other non-tanks somehow been excluded from the eastern front, the Soviets’ tanks would have annihilated the Germans’. The T-26 was not a great tank, but neither was it horrible. The main gun of a T-26 could penetrate 35 mm of vertical armor from a distance of 1000 meters. The main gun of a Panzer III could penetrate 44 mm of vertical armor from a distance of 1000 meters. The Panzer III had significantly thicker armor than the T-26. (As one would expect, given that the Panzer III was a medium tank, and the T-26 was a light tank.) I’m not trying to suggest that a somewhat older Soviet light tank, like the T-26, was the equivalent of a German medium tank like the Panzer III. (It wasn’t.) But the fact that the (light tank) T-26’s armament was 80% as good as the (medium tank) Panzer III’s suggests that even the Soviet Union’s least powerful, light tanks were still pretty good.

    Who cares what would have happened if both sides were missing their aircraft, artillery, and anti-tank weapons? That’s not relevant to our discussion at all, and there is no way for you to know what would have happened had they been absent. The fact that you believe the Soviets would have walked through the Germans without these shows how elementary your understanding of the Eastern Front really is. The technical fallout rate of the Soviet vehicles was astronomically large, and German success in Barbarossa had just as much to do with poor Soviet leadership and training as it did with the professionalism and skill of the Wehrmacht. These very large and substantial factors to the outcome of the fighting in 1941 are not at all affected by some absurd hypothetical where aircraft, artillery, and field guns are missing.

    I had to read a very big chunk of Suvorov’s book before becoming convinced Stalin had planned to invade Germany in '41. Light, amphibious tanks were far better-suited to offense than defense. In '41, the Soviet Union had more light, amphibious tanks than Germany had total tanks.

    Again you’re harping on the amphibious tanks. The existence of these vehicles is not evidence of a Soviet invasion in 1941. I don’t know how many times i’m going to have to say that.



  • Creeping Deth wrote:

    Most of your posting so far has contained irrelevant information on the specifications of the Soviet Union’s
    armoured vehicles, as if these alone are proof that Stalin was planning to invade in 1941.

    The specifications are evidence of the correctness of my earlier assertion: that the Soviet Union had more and better tanks.

    My VERY NEXT SENTENCE after the one you quoted above was an admission that the T-34 and KV series tanks were objectively better vehicles.

    Yes, but you then minimized that admission by stating that the KV series had been produced in small numbers. In 1941, the Soviet Union produced more KVs and T-34s than Germany produced total tanks. The fact that Stalin’s tank force was much stronger than Germany’s is not itself evidence of an intention to invade.

    I didn’t click your link because I’ve read enough scholarly work and memoirs on this subject to know that your assertion was erroneous.

    You’ve claimed this several times, and thus far haven’t supported your claims with evidence. Several sources I’ve read have indicated that the Luftwaffe destroyed large numbers of Soviet tanks and artillery pieces in 1941. I am not going to disbelieve those sources based on your unsupported assertions. According to page 132 - 133 of this book:


    In July 1941 the Luftwaffe was undisputed mistress of the sky on the Eastern front. The Russians were in full retreat from the Baltic to the Black Sea, harassed by the Stukas that blasted a path for advancing armor. . . .

    On the third day of the invasion [Barbarossa], General Ewald von Kleist’s 1st Panzer Group suffered heavy losses near Kovel during a tank battle with the Soviet Fifth Army, but the Luftwaffe’s overwhelming air superiority saved the situation and the Russian armored formations were broken up by concentrated Stuka attacks.


    (See Hitler’s Stuka Squadrons by John Ward.)

    Below is a quote from a different book


    1. . . . On this date [June 22nd, 1941] [the Soviet Air Force] had no less than 20,450 combat aircraft. . . . As we have seen, the attacking Luftwaffe forces contained only 3,297 combat aircraft on 21st June 1941. The magnitude of the task facing the Luftwaffe forces in June and July 1941 cannot be overstated. . . . Given these numbers alone, it is rather astonishing that the Luftwaffe was able to conduct effective offensive operations at all without being eliminated. . . .

    2. Remarkably, the Luftwaffe managed to rapidly establish air superiority along most of the East Front by mid-July 1941. It had established air superiority among almost all major front sectors by late July, especially in the most critical central and northern sectors, and the approaches to Moscow. Post-war reports by Red Army units in these sectors reveal that they repeatedly complained of enemy air support destroying and/or disrupting a particular defense line or attack formation. It was only in the far south (around Odessa) that the Axis air-forces achieved what could only be described as air parity.

    3. This level of air superiority and air interdiction against Red Army units was maintained until late October and early November 1941, when Luftflotte 2 and II. Fliegerkorps, along with almost a third of Luftwaffe strength in the East, was ordered to the West. . . . In fact the OKW . . . didn’t even rate the VVS [Soviet Air Force] as a serious threat at the operational level until late 1942. . . .

    5. The Luftwaffe achieved an incredible kill to loss ratio of over 5.5 to 1 (including aircraft destroyed on the ground) on the East Front from June to December 1941, and it was probably considerably higher.


    See Operation Barbarossa: the Complete Organisational and Statistical Analysis, and Military Simulation by Nigel Askey.

    [The Luftwaffe] absolutely could not be responsible for destroying the vast bulk of the T-26 series tanks as you earlier stated.

    In my earlier statement, I wrote that the bulk of T-26s were destroyed by the Luftwaffe and German artillery. (Not the Luftwaffe only.) The above quotes confirm the Luftwaffe was in a position to destroy large numbers of Soviet tanks and other land units in 1941. I will add that the highest scoring fighter ace in history, Erich Hartmann, had 352 victories. (Almost all of which were against Soviet aircraft.) The highest-scoring anti-tank pilot in history, Hans Rudel, destroyed 519 Soviet tanks. The idea that the Luftwaffe couldn’t have destroyed very many Soviet tanks because it was too busy fighting the Soviet Air Force seems far-fetched. Rudel only had nine aerial victories against Soviet planes, consistent with the fact that the Stuka and other dive bombers or attack planes were better-suited to the destruction of land targets than air-to-air dog fighting. During Barbarossa a fairly large percentage of Germany’s total air units were dive bombers or ground attack planes. Those air units were given the primary task of destroying targets on the ground.

    The fact that you believe the Soviets would have walked through the Germans without [the presence of
    air and other non-tank units] shows how elementary your understanding of the Eastern Front really is.

    I’m rapidly losing patience with your failure to grasp the fact that in June ‘41, the Soviet tank force was stronger than the German. On June 22nd, 1941 the Germans had 3,266 tanks on the eastern front. Of those, only 1,146 had a 50 mm gun or larger. On June 22nd 1941 the Soviets had 1000 T-34s and 500 KV series tanks, giving them 1,500 tanks which could cut through any German tank like a knife through hot butter. What effect did the Germans’ 50 mm guns have against the T-34?


    Half a dozen anti-tank guns fire shells at him [a T-34], which sound like a drumroll. But he drives staunchly through our line like an impregnable prehistoric monster… It is remarkable that lieutenant Steup’s tank made hits on a T-34, once at about 20 meters and four times at 50 meters, with Panzergranate 40 [50 mm caliber] without any noticeable effect. [-a German battle report from Barbarossa.]


    Again you’re harping on the amphibious tanks. The existence of these vehicles is not evidence of a Soviet
    invasion in 1941. I don’t know how many times i’m going to have to say that.

    Repeating an unsupported assertion over and over does not make it any more convincing the fifth or tenth time than it had been the first time. A light, amphibious tank is far more useful on offense than on defense. The fact that Stalin had more tanks in that category than Germany had total tanks is evidence that Stalin had planned on invading Germany sooner or later. Obviously, pinning down the year of the invasion is not something which can be achieved by pointing at sheer numbers of amphibious tanks. To pin down the invasion date as best as possible, Suvorov looked at troop movements.

    Suvorov also pointed out the following. During 1941, Germany had moved large numbers of soldiers to the Nazi-Soviet border. Those soldiers were not ordered to construct winter quarters for themselves, because the German high command believed its soldiers would be someplace else by winter. The Soviet Union had also moved large numbers of soldiers to the Nazi-Soviet border in '41. Newly arrived Soviet soldiers were also not ordered to construct winter quarters for themselves. Where did the Soviet high command expect its soldiers to be by the time winter came?



  • @KurtGodel7:

    Yes, but you then minimized that admission by stating that the KV series had been produced in small numbers. In 1941, the Soviet Union produced more KVs and T-34s than Germany produced total tanks. The fact that Stalin’s tank force was much stronger than Germany’s is not itself evidence of an intention to invade.

    Just because the T-34 and KV series vehicles were produced in larger numbers than the German panzers does not mean that they weren’t a small portion of the Soviet tank force, which is what I originally said. I never once stated that more panzers were produced than either T-34 or KV series vehicles, just that they were definitely a minority in the Soviet armoured forces.

    You’ve claimed this several times, and thus far haven’t supported your claims with evidence.

    I haven’t been supporting my claims with footnotes because this is an internet forum, not a university research paper. I don’t have time to go fishing for specific quotes from texts that are sitting on my Kindle. I’ve read books by David Stahel, Antony Beevor, Lloyd Clark, David Glantz, Robert Forcyzk, and have read memoirs by Erhard Raus and Wolfgang Faust; all very well respected historians and scholars, and every single one of them paints the same picture for the Luftwaffe and the state of German logistics in general: stretched bare with never enough to go around. There is no way Kraut aircraft and artillery accounted for most of the over ten thousand T-26 tanks.

    The idea that the Luftwaffe couldn’t have destroyed very many Soviet tanks because it was too busy fighting the Soviet Air Force seems far-fetched.

    I never once said it was because they were too busy fighting the Soviet Air Force. Please do not put words in my mouth.

    I’m rapidly losing patience with your failure to grasp the fact that in June '41, the Soviet tank force was stronger than the German

    Define ‘stronger.’ If you mean it was larger, yes it was certainly stronger. However, this does not mean it was better. Throwing production numbers around is only going to get you so far in this argument, there is much more to it than raw numbers. If available models were all that mattered, it wouldn’t have taken the Russians 3 and a half years to push the Wehrhmacht all the way back to Berlin.

    Repeating an unsupported assertion over and over does not make it any more convincing the fifth or tenth time than it had been the first time.

    Oh this is rich. I’m not the one making the assertion, you are. YOU are the one saying that the existence of all these amphibious tanks is evidence the Russians were going to invade in 1941. By challenging you on this point, I’m not making an assertion. I’m just taking issue with yours.

    By the way, I’m still waiting for an explanation as to how the Red Army was going to invade in the middle of their herculean reorganization and refitting efforts taking place in 1941.



  • Creeping deth wrote:

    every single one of them paints the same picture for the Luftwaffe and the state of German logistics in general: stretched bare with never enough to go around.

    I’ll go along with that. But limited logistics would have been at least as much a problem for German tanks as it was for the Luftwaffe. If (for example) adequate amounts of fuel could not be delivered to the front, the effectiveness of German tanks would have been reduced. In discussing the merits and demerits of your argument and mine, the limited state of German logistics is not evidence either way. Limited logistical support would have, and did, hamper all aspects of the German war machine (not just tanks only, and not just Luftwaffe only).

    I never once stated that more panzers were produced than either T-34 or KV series vehicles, just that they were definitely a minority in the Soviet armoured forces.

    Fair enough. But my argument is that the Soviet tank force was stronger than the German tank force in June of '41; and that Soviet industry produced more tank strength during '41 than did German industry. The 1,500 KV series tanks and T-34s which the Soviet Union had on June 22nd, alone, represented more combat power than Germany’s entire tank force (of slightly over 3,000 tanks). Any combat value the Soviets derived from the BTs or T-26s was just a bonus.

    Throwing production numbers around is only going to get you so far in this argument, there is much more to it than raw numbers.

    Granted. A Panzer III or Panzer IV was certainly a better tank than a BT or a T-26. If the Soviet tank force had consisted only of BTs and T-26s, an argument could be made that Soviet quantity was counterbalanced by German quality. But the Soviets could have celebrated the summer solstice of ‘41 by scrapping every BT and T-26 they had; and at the end of that celebration they still would have had a stronger, better tank force than the Germans’.

    Oh this is rich. I’m not the one making the assertion, you are.

    Your unsupported assertion was that the Luftwaffe “was only capable of local air supremacy. It absolutely could not be responsible for destroying the vast bulk of the T-26 series tanks.” I have presented evidence that the Luftwaffe enjoyed air superiority in the central and northern portions of the eastern front, and that it destroyed large numbers of ground targets during Barbarossa.

    YOU are the one saying that the existence of all these amphibious tanks is evidence the Russians were going to invade in 1941.

    From my previous post: “A light, amphibious tank is far more useful on offense than on defense. The fact that Stalin had more tanks in that category than Germany had total tanks is evidence that Stalin had planned on invading Germany sooner or later. Obviously, pinning down the year of the invasion is not something which can be achieved by pointing at sheer numbers of amphibious tanks.” You are putting an argument in my mouth after I had specifically contradicted that argument.

    By the way, I’m still waiting for an explanation as to how the Red Army was going to invade in the middle of their herculean reorganization and refitting efforts taking place in 1941.

    Suvorov did not address this point in detail in the book of his I’ve read. However, he’s also written another book on this subject, and it’s possible he’s addressed it there. In the book I did read, Suvorov pointed to the excellent success the Red Army had enjoyed in its undeclared war with Japan in 1939. He expressed the view that, by August '41, the Soviet Union could have employed a greatly scaled-up version of its Khalkhin Gol offensive; directing this larger offensive against Germany. If the Red Army was ready for war in 1939 (as seemingly indicated by its success at Khalkhin Gol), it’s reasonable to suppose it might also have been ready for war in '41. However, it had prepared for an offensive war against Germany only, and was completely unprepared for the defensive war it actually faced.


    Three [Soviet] infantry divisions and a tank brigade crossed the river, supported by massed artillery and the Soviet Air Force. Once the Japanese were pinned down by the attack of Soviet centre units, Soviet armoured units swept around the flanks and attacked the Japanese in the rear, achieving a classic double envelopment.


    We tend to think of BT-7s and T-26s as being of little use. Such tanks were of little use in a defensive war. But they would have been well-suited to the task of attacking the flanks and rear of German forces, just as they had done to the Japanese at Khalkhin Gol. You will recall that German tanks were no match for French Char-Bs. But that didn’t stop Germany from using its tanks to cut off and encircle Allied forces in France. The Soviet Union would have used its T-26s and BT-7s in a similar manner. A single Panzer III or Panzer IV could probably have taken out several BT-7s or T-26s before being destroyed. But Stalin began with a better than 7:1 advantage in the starting number of tanks, including a force of T-34s and KV series tanks half as numerous as Germany’s entire tank force. The BT-7s and T-26s were probably not a major component of the plan to destroy the German tank force. But those Soviet light tanks were a major component of the Soviet plan to encircle and destroy German armies.

    Prior to Barbarossa, Soviet tanks and the fuel intended for them had been moved very, very close to the front. Suvorov points out that there were places where the Nazi-Soviet border jutted westward, and other places where it jutted eastward. There were large concentrations of Soviet forces (including tanks, fuel, and ammunition) wherever that border jutted westward. Just as there were large German concentrations of forces wherever it jutted eastward. (The Germans wanted to begin their offensive from as far east as possible.) This starting deployment of forces ensured a tremendous advantage for whichever side struck the first blow. Moreover, Stalin’s troop movement was still weeks away from completion when Germany struck. On June 22nd, Soviet tanks and their crews were often in widely disparate locations. The fuel intended for those tanks was often destroyed, or captured by the Germans. With the Soviets facing rapidly advancing German forces, and with the fuel needed to evacuate their tanks mostly gone, the typical decision was to fuel the medium and heavy tanks only, while abandoning/destroying the light tanks. Light tanks would have been far more useful for the war Stalin expected than the war he actually had.


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Does Infantry operate tanks now??? :? :?

    Man I got the whole WWII thingy wrong…tz tz tz


  • 2017 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Yea don’t read Shirer.


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