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Kursk: The Epic Armored Engagement (2013)

Apr 18, 2024
Well, hello again before we begin our final sessions of the afternoon. I want to take a few moments to thank a long-time sponsor of the conference and other programs we operate here at the Museum. The Brown Foundation of Houston has been a long-time supporter of our mission and the programs we offer here, especially this conference, SP sponsored our Steven Ambrose Retrospective Symposium a few years ago, for example, as well as this conference and they typically have representation here through Walter Nagley, uh, but Walt can't. attending this year, so Walt, if you're looking in cyberspace, hello and thank you very much, we miss you.
kursk the epic armored engagement 2013
I also want to thank the Brown Foundation for everything they do throughout the year for us and in the future. now our next three sessions will conclude the daytime conference programming dealing with three of the key


s of 1943 K, the Italian campaign and terat now our first panel will analyze the Battle of K in two different ways: military perspective and the battle real and then a comparative study of the tank production of the belligerents in the next session we will offer an analysis of the various amphibious operations and the lessons learned and how they affected future landings and finally, we.
kursk the epic armored engagement 2013

More Interesting Facts About,

kursk the epic armored engagement 2013...

We will hear about the hard and bitter experiences of the Italian campaign where the allies were detained in the winter of 4344 and this will serve as the final point of our daytime conference. Of course, we will reconvene tonight for our closing banquet with General Petraeus. but to begin the first session, it is my pleasure to call back to the museum, to the podium, the museum's chief historian, Dr. Keith Huxen, who will moderate this session. Keith, thank you Dr. Mueller, it is truly a pleasure to moderate this next session. not only because I am a big fan of our two panelists for their writing and speaking skills, but also because I had the honor of leading the Museum's first tour to Russia this past August, visiting the battle sites of Moscow Stalingrad and Leningrad I.
kursk the epic armored engagement 2013
I became intrigued about Lost Siege K, the great tank battle fought 70 years ago last July, as Patton and Monty raced towards MSA, the Russians were crushing the German


offensive with us to observe two different aspects of this from a operational point of view. and the technology focus are two people familiar to those of you who attended the conference last year and the year before that first discussed the battle royale is Dr. Rob Satino. Rob is at the University of North Texas, but is currently in Carile, Pennsylvania, in the US Army War College. He is a leading authority on German military history and has authored a library of books to prove it.
kursk the epic armored engagement 2013
John Parall, who will discuss an important and overlooked aspect of tank warfare, namely tank production, is a leading expert on the Imperial Japanese Navy. He is the founder of the website www combin and you probably know him from the book he co-authored with Tony Tully called Shattered Sword about the Battle of Midway. It may seem a little strange that an expert on the Pacific War is We're talking about tank production and its effects on Europe, but I think John will explain to you how he came to this topic, but first, please welcome me, help me to welcome Dr.
Rob Satino. Hello everyone and to the museum once again, thank you for inviting me. It is always a wonderful event. I also want to congratulate Jeremy Collins and his family and the new addition to the family. When you have a birth during a conference, you officially become Woodstock and this is very impressive. I would like to start. I suppose that in the wake of the Battle of Stalingrad and the disaster that that represented for the Germans, in a sense they had to go back to the drawing board at the end of that catastrophe, that is, their plans to win the war.
The war had quickly come to an end in 1941, they had restarted the engine in 1942 and it ran even worse than in 1941 and became an absolute disaster, so it's time to go back to the drawing board. launched an offensive in 41 and failed launched an offensive in 42 and failed naturally the solution is to launch an offensive in 1943 now before doing that um the German high command and I try not to just focus on Hitler he had The staff around him advised him every step of the way and they worked together on plans. I think more than is generally acknowledged: General Hines Garian was brought out of retirement by the high command.
Does he appear there? No, can he go back to the first slide please? It would be possible in the back. Here we go. Thank you so much. The Germans brought General Hines Garian out of retirement. He had been the German army's renowned tank expert. But he had been fired after the disaster in front of Moscow in 1941. Now he became the inspector of the


forces. He did some good, he simplified the production of tanks in a certain sense, he reduced the number of expensive prototypes, we heard about the beauty of the handyman in Professor Kennedy's wonderful talk, the Germans perhaps had a tendency to About Tinker and we are always coming up with new prototypes that were impossible to produce, he scaled back those expensive prototypes and concentrated on building some basic models, but there wasn't much he could to do regarding the German war push.
At the time, he felt that what needed to be done in 1943 was to spend it resting and reconditioning, getting the army back into shape and assuming a defensive posture. Hitler and the high command did not agree with what we could consider as that sensible evidence that they felt. They had to retain the initiative in the East and that is also a sensible point, so they ordered another major offensive for the summer of 1943 and that would be Operation Citadel again, do I point out down here? This works? Thank you, Operation Citadel led. in Kers Salan, so what you have here is a gigantic bulge in the lines in the north of Ukraine, from the top to the bottom of this map it is approximately 200 miles from Orol to K orol, the big city in the north, to Cur, almost exactly 50. thousand we are looking at approximately 200 thousand extend the operational border between army group Center and army group South now nothing could be more basic, you don't need to be a Panzer Commander.
I think after this there would be a Push from the South. heading north and that would be the 4th Panzer Army a push from the north heading south that would be the 9th army they would unite somewhere around KK probably east of KK and thus trap all the Soviet forces inside that Salient so you have a kind of dramatic person here is the commander of army group South the cast of characters General Field Marshal at this point Eric Von manin the commander of army group central field Marshal gun Fon kuga now here are your army commanders this is General Valter modal modal the commander of the ninth army in the north, which is a monacle that you are looking at in case you are wondering, and then one of the badass characters of the German army, General Hermon ho, the commander of the fourth uh.
Panzer Army, so the Germans put together as big a package as they could at this point in the war. 8,900,000 men, thousands of tanks, including new tank designs, and these would include the Panther Mark 5 tank. You can see the long uh R, the long 75. mm gun on it pretty good view there uh the Mark 6 Tiger tank uh as an eight year old boy I could look at this photo for hours and hours and hours now that I am a 55 year old man. in this photo for hours and hours and hours T Tank Mark 6 Tiger uh there was also a monstrous tank destroyer uh with the name of Ferdinand 88 mm cannon um 100 mm frontal armor there is no turret it was it was a fixed weapon in the uh, in the platform now, the feeling we get from studying the German High Command at this point in the war, it was do or die time and everyone knew it from top to bottom and probably much further down the chain of command. to the crews of these various tanks, thus Citadel, the name of the operation against K opened on July 5 and marked a unique moment in the war, it was the first time that a German offensive had failed since the beginning of 1941.
The Germans They launched deep into the Soviet Union, inflicting 4 million casualties in the first six months of that campaign. 1942, the Germans advanced 5,6,700 miles before finally being stopped and then destroyed at Stalingrad, those were Soviet counterattacks in a form here. The Soviets went toe to toe with the Vermo from the beginning of this operation and that was something new now that the overall command of the Soviet forces, as often at this point in the war, we had a good look at Soviet General Marshall G.K. zukov. In him, here giving a speech, K was a relatively obvious target.
Not only had German intelligence and planning been deeply penetrated by Allied agents and Allied techniques. There is also an obvious bulge in the map and what the Germans were doing in operation. Citadel was racing towards the most obvious operational objective on the Eastern Front, so Zukov filled that Salient and saw three army groups, 1.3 million men, an immense array of anti-tank guns and artillery, all in their place to confront. The German assault and therefore Operation Citadel was not a Blitz with long-range armored units six and 700 miles long, it was a brick wall that the Germans ran into in both the North and South , even in places where they managed to advance. go ahead and there are some on the map that will always be in such a big operation uh this wasn't a Blitz Creek but it was more like World War I with tanks and so the North is a lump of what well, let's look at them.
In sequence, actually here is the attack from the Southern Fourth Panzer Army's attack in the southern sector, there is a solid wall of Soviet armies in front of the Germans as they launched their attack and peaked at about 1020 miles in the north. A more solid wall of Soviet armies facing the German attack and here a maximum penetration of 9 to 12 miles, so if you have followed the operations of the German army up to this point in the war, this is something new because there were always hundreds. of miles oh and then maybe the logistics would break down the momentum would wear out the enemy would fall back on their supply lines that had happened but this had never happened was that the Germans came in and made virtually no progress now part of the problem There was misplaced faith in technology by the Germans, all those shiny new tanks, Panthers, Tigers and Ferdinands, had been rushed off the drawing board and all had the teething problems that would be typical of new equipment.
Shout out to Jeremy Collins one more time, um. you'll learn about that soon Ferdinand especially uh it was a disaster that monstrous tank destroyer was relatively slow and relatively clumsy and it's a Cruise they didn't call it Ferdinand they called it an elephant it was very slow and heavy and it had a big trunk, um, it lacks a machine gun, al less in the original configuration, it could be vulnerable to Soviet infantry, uh, if you're the intestinal fortitude type who likes to climb onto an enemy armored vehicle, uh, you could do that and then shoot. with flamethrowers and grenades in their ventilation slits, not that I would recommend that tactic now that the operation had failed, but despite the operation's failure, the fighting was savage, one of the savage of the war.
I met K for the first time when he was a child once again. when I saw the phrase the greatest tank battle in history and once again I was sold, that was the one I wanted to read and many of my friends and I were excited about the type of things discussed for hours and hours, probably 7,000 tanks if you know combine the tank fleets on both sides, that's not all to say that they were in the same room at the same time, but nevertheless, in the theater of operations there are probably around 7,000 tanks, by the way, if that means that it is the larger tank. battle of all time, we could have a discussion over a drink or three um, the Arabs and the Israelis fought a war in 1973, uh, which can be called the largest tank battle in history, again, a lot depends on how it is counted, but certainly K is in the top 10, whatever that means, now the weather Max of the battle of K came in the southern district of uh, the southern front in proar rova ​​and let's take a look here, so here are the Germans, the second SS Panzer core under General Paul Haer, advancing towards the northeast and here is the 5th Guards Tank Army sent to stop them advancing towards the southwest and, approximately, the tips of Spear of those two massive forces met near the village of Karova, which you can see on the map, it's an interesting battle, uh, it was canalized or canalized, if you will, there is a railway embankment and an elevated highway, so which the battle is essentially divided into three separate armored, uh, armored


s early on the foggy morning of July 12. two forces knew each other if they were elite forces on both sides it is difficult to say that they wereexperienced tank crews on both sides fighting all day again a thick fog in the morning which then burned into deadly heat The day the fighting took place over what we consider abnormally short distances, often at point blank range for tank fire , now we even read that the tanks in Kers crashed into each other near the fight in Poova.
I will say that Again, the tanks in Curs ran and crashed into each other, as you know, that's not why they aren't designed to do so. They give you a large weapon precisely so as not to attack your opponent. You're supposed to shoot them at 2,000 yards. or a thousand yards maybe even more, today we don't know if those tanks really hit one. Another thing about this is just the typical type of exaggeration that creeps into any dramatic encounter every time a story is told, something new is added to it and so close range fire can turn into point blank fire and then that can turn into tanks ramming each other.
I guess over the course of three iterations of the count, but this is what is usually not taken into account: Soviet tanks in K and generally the Soviets were still driving the same t34 tank they had had since 1940 and then they went into action for the first time in 1941 and it is a great tank, but those tanks were far behind the Germans, they had no choice but to close the range at maximum speed so they could shoot at the Germans and even have a chance to kill an enemy. In fact, the German tanks are planning before the battle, some of the tank crews are being instructed to close the firing range as soon as possible and one of the tank commanders said: at what point will the will we approach correctly?
So, to get closer. I'll lower the grappling hook, set the board and then cross to the next tank, but the Soviet literally had no choice but to close the range on K, so in Prara especially, a battle was fought in Anon in an anomalous way . Uh, minimum ranges now in the course of the fighting at Poova, the Germans essentially shot the Soviets. We often read about Carnage on both sides and I suppose every battle involves some forms of Carnage, but in terms of numbers this certainly wasn't a death trip for the Germans inflicting massive C casualties on inferior Soviet armor in K.
It hadn't always been So on the Eastern Front, but I will also say that the meager German advance momentum had stalled for another day or two and was Now that it was clear that there was going to be no rapid advance in K, the Soviets seemed to have an inexhaustible supply not of men or tanks, but of new formations of men and tanks that could be inserted into the German advance, which really killed. However, Operation Citadel was not what happened at Proar Rova and again I could go on with more details about it, happy to answer any questions uh dramatis Person again or cast of characters uh there's General Paul Hower the One-Eyed Sinister uh commander of the second SS Panzer cor that would be him on the left and there is general pav risto on the left, the commander of the fifth guard tank army, who was responsible over the course of a day in perova for, literally, the destruction of his own under his own command, but did I think he could be credited with erasing the German drive.
What really killed Operation Citadel was the strategic balance of this war. At the same time that Haer and his SS soldiers were advancing towards their Day of Doom Atova, the Mediterranean Front exploited the Anglo-Allied lands in Sicily, Operation Husky. and there it is, just as planned, not exactly as it happened, it not only shook musolini's regime to its foundations, but would eventually overthrow musolini, thus presenting the german high command with a second crisis at the same time that K He was heading towards his climax. It is very easy to say that you are listening to a lecture on Kers and a lecture on Sicily, they seem separate, it seems as if you are reading about two different eras, but you can stand in Hitler's headquarters in Rostenberg and East Prussia and count and and and the messages come through. the morning big tank Clash of brovka uh and and uh the allies are making progress and Sicily and more about proar rova ​​and more about Sicily is enough to make you want to go back to bed and that there is a kind of paralysis in the German high command in this at which point there is simply not much they can do there are not enough men there are not enough hours in the day there are not enough divisions to respond, so a second crisis after the first crisis is, by definition, difficult to handle two at a time. more difficult to manage, but now a third crisis broke out at practically the same moment, until now the north face of Salient K had been quiet, the initial German advance had failed to break through, in fact it had stalled and a stalemate had occurred. descended in this northern sector of uh.
The losses on the Kers front had clearly been heavy on both sides. Soviet defenses had been tough. Both artificial defenses and fortifications and several ridge lines that blocked German access. Losses had been massive on both sides, but the Germans at least managed. They congratulate themselves on having this sector under control, but there are times, especially when you're fighting the Soviet Union in 1941, '42 or '43, when you just look at your situation map and say "Oh my God," and this is what they get. it happened to the Germans on the morning of July 12th now I would like to run that slide again please can we have the previous slide because I show it to college students and get a much better response.
No joke, oh my gosh, thank you John, thank you John. That's why John is up there, we practiced this moment, so, um, this is Operation OMG, no, it's not Operation OMG, it's Operation Catus Off, which is the Soviet counter-coup in the north, against the city ​​of Orol. Now think about this, the Germans. they had just uh uh sent their best shot and it had almost no impact whatsoever while they had been planning, scheduling, canceling and replanning ksk that had continued for months, the Soviets had been planning this strike against the Orol Salient in the north. and suddenly the German formations in the north, far from being in a calm or stable sector, were literally fighting for their lives that day Hitler decided to cancel operation Citadel.
It inflicted around 500,000 casualties on German forces. He inflicted somewhat higher casualties on the Soviets, but I hope they realize that it is a net loss for the Germans. The Germans cannot trade casualties with the Red Army at this or any other point in the war they have to win. In war, they have to win battles and campaigns substantially cheaper, but about 500,000 casualties in the German forces involved had been about 70 divisions on the German side engaged and about 30 of them, I would say, had been chewed up, were not ready for uh, for more. action at any time in the near future and I think this brings me to my conclusion: a lot of ink has been spilled, I have even spilled a little over the course of my career asking what the Germans could have done. in ksk to have a better result in other words, how the Germans could have won, so to speak, the Battle of Cur.
I have now come to see the error in asking that question by arguing how the Germans could have triumphed in KK. I think it misses a In 1943, what the Germans were doing or planning to do had become considerably less important, what counted was what the Allies could do and what the Allies could do now were multiple, simultaneous offensives 2,000 miles away , which is K and Sicily, about 2000 miles, Google Maps tells me, so now I don't know if KK was the turning point of WWII, it's a fraught and difficult term. World War II was a huge conflict that covered the Earth like a Sherwin Williams ad and and trying to decide which discrete moment changed everything uh I think I may be kind of silly so I don't know if KK was the turning point of World War II, but it clearly marked the point at which German Vermont lost the initiative in this war, thank you very much, okay, as Keith alluded to it, it's a little strange for me to be here today and talk about something I don't be the Japanese Navy, but this topic comes to mind, tank manufacturing, honestly, in that my MBA was in operations management and I'm kind of an Operations nerd at heart, so why tanks?
Besides the fact that fifth graders can stare at them for hours and hours and hours, is that the Tiger tank itself is absolutely friends because we. re peas in a pod That's how we roll Nerd alert right there Nerd alert yeah, I think most of us when we probably started studying this war probably your kids probably started by reading biographies of famous generals accounts of the common soldier maybe books about our favorite tank, plane or ship certainly went down in books about battles and frankly for many people this kind of uh en encompasses their entire corpus of understanding of this particular conflict but I think many of us would recognize it on some level . that World War II was a much larger conflict and really at its core is a clash of systems and therefore if you look at the battlefield level, for example, we have a clash between command and control systems of Doctrine , military intelligence, and as we begin to work our way through the state apparatus, we begin to run into things like competing national mobilization systems, wartime logistics, finance, research and development, and of course, competing production systems. , and this battle of the factories is incredibly important because it underlies a There are many other systems that we find interesting, so the reason I find tanks interesting is because they offer us useful analogues for understanding these larger systems, it is That is, if we can understand how the Germans or the Russians approach the tank manufacturer.
We can understand how they approach their larger production wars as a whole and address things like aircraft manufacturers' artillery, even ships, to some extent, so that's what I want to see for the next 25 minutes or so, A quick tour of production. 1940 war statistics, you know, everyone is working to make maybe 2,000 of these vehicles a year. 1941, production increases a little. You'll notice that the Germans aren't actually producing that many armored vehicles for one simple reason. What they don't need is that they are much better than anyone else at the operational level of armored warfare, is that they are basically able to clear everyone's clocks and don't need hordes of tanks. 1942, the game changes completely when the US enters the war and both the US and the Russians put the pedal to the metal in terms of tank production. 1943.
The US is now fully prepared, producing an impressive total of over 37,000 armored fighting vehicles. The Germans have only caused panic. button really at the end of 1942 that they had to take this more seriously and you realize that they are only now getting ahead of Britain in terms of production. 1944 the Germans are now producing a respectable total of vehicles, interestingly the US actually intentionally cuts their tank production because we realized we're not going to have as many armored divisions in our table of organization as we originally thought we didn't need as many vehicles as we are producing and then in 1945, in terms of cumulative levels of production, you can see that they are divided very clearly into three levels: at the top we have the United States and Russia, which produce more than 100,000 vehicles;
At the middle level, we have Great Britain and Germany, which are doing between 36 and 46 and there are many things that we also have, uh, Italy and Japan, wow, we went back, that doesn't help, there are four key inputs to produce a tank, You must have money, work, energy and steel, so let's take a quick look. look at that in terms of GDP, obviously the US has by far the largest economy in the world, but interestingly, you can see the red line: the Soviet economy takes a very big H in 1941 and 42, and during this crucial period of time, the Germans actually have about a 40% larger economy than the Soviet one, if we look at the workforce, as one of our speakers alluded to yesterday, you can see that Russia comes into this conflict with a very great, but in 1942 We have about 60 million of its citizens sitting behind enemy lines and they are subtracted from that Force.
If we look at coal production, which is actually a quantification of energy, we can see that both the United States and Germany are large coal producers and Germany is out of production. The Soviet Union by more than four to one during this time. The same goes for steel production. The United States is by far the largest steel producer in the world. Once again, Germany outperformedproduction to the Soviet Union by about 4 to one, so the two questions that arise from these. slides is how the Russians were able to overproduce so dramatically given the economic disadvantages they were working under and, likewise, how it was that Germany performed as poorly as it appears to have and, graphically speaking, how the picture does not It seemed more like this with Germany being number two in terms of production and the Soviets being relegated to, you know, a number closer to the British and those are the questions I want to explore, so let's start with American production, obviously, from the slides above you can Look, the Americans are in a unique position of strength.
In terms of this war and particularly in terms of money, we can throw lots of money at our production problems, money in amounts that none of the other combatants can even imagine, but at the same time. We have enormous demands on that war potential. Not only do we have to have a very large army, but we have to have the largest Navy in the world, we have to have a huge Merchant Navy to move all of that to the various theaters that we go to. to fight and we also have to have the largest Air Force in the world, so we are going to take advantage of our strengths during this conflict, which is mass production, so we are going to do very long production runs.
We will try to limit the number of models we are producing and we are going to invest a lot of money in hard tooling, that is, we are going to invest in specialized templates and dyes so that we can produce one type. part and produce them in very large quantities. The biggest problem for the United States is that until mid-1941 we did not have a single factory in the United States that produced tanks in any quantity and it was not until the fall of France, in mid-1940, that the army looks around and says: " "This could be problematic." They go to Chrysler and say: can you build us a next-generation tank?
The Chrysler factory says yes, we'll take that job. and they give it to this guy, anyone who can identify this gentleman wins a signed copy of one of Rob's books. This is Albert Khan, the greatest industrial architect of the 20th century, the man who literally built half of the factories in Detroit. the guy you go to when you need a big factory right now so they can find land on the outskirts of Detroit. They started construction in September 1940, by January '41, enough structures to be able to drive a locomotive into the middle of this to heat the place and by July '41 we are now in series production of the M3 uh Grant medium tank.
The problem is, of course, that you know that a big factory is not going to win a war, so when the war really breaks out in December of '41, what is the other industrial sector we can go to that has large assembly facilities? , large overhead cranes and experience in working with large heavy castings, your railway companies? So what we see emerging in 1942 is this completely improvised tank industry that relies on both the converting auto factories in Detroit and the railroad companies that are scattered throughout the Midwest and Northeast in 1944, as I mentioned earlier, we've reduced tank production and therefore what we ended up doing is All railroad companies except Press Steel and Pittsburgh, and now our tank industry is firmly focused on Detroit and particularly the Chrysler Arsenal, which will produce over 25 % of the tanks we made during this war. so let's take a quick look at the Chrysler Arsenal here it's in production of uh the Sherman look how big this plant is um how much room there is in the shop how obviously well organized it is this is classic Detroit style Automotive style U Mass manufacturing, this is one of the machine shops you know, machine tools, as far as the eye can see, this is without a doubt the most modern tank factory on the planet, so now let's take a quick look at the Russians, the Russians really come in in the war. with the advantage of having an established tank industry and this diagram shows not only the assembly plants but also the weapons and armor factories.
You can see that they have quite an extensive network of factories that are dedicated to making tanks and the Russians were actually very smart before the war, they had made sure that all their civilian tractor factories were capable of converting to tank production in case they knew they were going into a war, because it doesn't take much effort to go from producing something that looks like this to something that looks like this, and interestingly enough, a lot of these factories are actually designed and built by Americans. In fact, if you look at the famous Derin tractor factory in Stalingrad, which is the scene of some of the fiercest fighting during that campaign that Albert Khan built that factory because it was very difficult to get work in Detroit during the Great Depression, but The Russians were doing great things and that's why Khan and his company came and built hundreds of different factories all over the Soviet Union and it's not just American architects being hired, American industrial engineers are also being brought in and many of these factories also have machines.
American tool, so during this time there is a huge transfer of knowledge from the Americans to the Soviets about how mass production is actually done, the big problem for the Russians of course is that as soon as the Germans They are invaded, their industrial infrastructure is destroyed and therefore what you see happens in places like Leningrad, karov, Moscow, kyiv, um, factories and their workers. They are literally thrown onto trains, dragged to all the mountains of the EUR and thrown on the sides of the railway. Stings and in the case of tank production equipment, all of those things ended up in cities that already had tractor factories or railway plants, in this case, nothing. and particularly CH shilling uh and oops it was the wrong way this happens again to a lesser extent also in 1942 so what is left in the Soviet Union in 1943 is a tank industry um we have some factories around gorky but then We have these four huge factory conglomerates that, as you know, arose in all the mountains of the EUR.
One of the things that is happening in the background during this time is that the Soviet railway system is on the verge of collapse due to this huge exodus. that they had to implement, they have put their rolling stock on the ground, so they are very interested in taking as much load as possible off the railways and that creates the need for centralization and also vertical organization within the factories, while in Germany and the United States have second-tier manufacturers that build things like engines and transmissions. If you look at a Soviet factory, that factory can make a much larger percentage of the total vehicle, you don't get the same kind of economies of scale that you would get with horizontal ones. organization, but again from the point of view of taking load off the railways, this is a smart decision by the Soviets, so what do the Soviets do to be able to produce more with much less?
One of the things they do is really simplify the number of models they have in production, so if we look back to 1942, we will be limited to building only three types of tanks: the kd1 t34 light tank and the t60 U and each and every one of the Soviet AFVs for the rest of the war. build on one of these three chassis because it greatly simplifies production. Another thing that the Soviets adopt from the Americans with a vengeance is this concept of planned obsolescence which says that if you have a manufactured product that has a useful life of , they realize that the vast majority of their tanks will end up like this, not in a museum like this, okay and they are out.
And in fact they did the studies and realized that the useful life of a tank on the Eastern Front is less than six months and once it is in combat it is less than 14 hours. That's okay, once you understand that fact and know how to get there. to be at peace, clarify everything about the design and manufacturing of these particular vehicles, it means, for example, that it makes absolutely no sense to build an engine or a transmission that is going to run for more than about 1500 kilometers because the tank goes a will be dead by then okay so we can put those components together using a crappier parts machine for looser tolerances using lower quality metals um whatever it takes just stick the thing in the tank and pull it out of the end of the line, so what.
What you see is a manic drive to remove costs from the system as much as possible, so the Soviets are eliminating unique parts in the tank, they are reducing the total number of parts in the tank and at the same time they are also making introduced some kind of innovative stuff into the manufacturing process, so plant number 183 at zero starts using submerged arc welding on their hulls because it reduces machining time by about 2/3, so what you see happening over the course of 1941 to 43 is the cost of a t34 is reduced by half and everyone knows that time is money, well the opposite is also true: if we pay less money for this tank, we will also get it out of the end of the assembly line. faster and that is the absolute priority for the Soviets, so take a quick look at some of their factories.
This is the 112th plant in Gorky um again Classic automotive style Mass manufactured. Notice the chain drive on the floor there and a row of vehicles that far back. As you can see, this is the 183rd plant in Nagil again, a linear assembly line. However, you'll notice how much tighter this particular facility is than the Detroit Arsenal. to work, they don't meet ocean standards, but they absolutely leak the tanks. None produces 5600 t-34s in 1942 alone, so now let's move on to German production and here is a map of the seven most important factories in the Reich.
Let's talk a little about the Henel facilities here. German priorities were completely different from those of the Americans and Russians. Their vehicle specifications were driven by Verm and Verock wanted a very high quality product which meant there were going to be many models and many tweaks, as you mentioned they had a preference for working with manufacturers that were flexible meaning they would tolerate changes. tinkering and they wanted them to be trained craftsmen. involved in the assembly process, as Rob alluded to, they were starting to simplify their models, but they had a horrible model situation, they were producing too many different types of vehicles, if you look at 42, the ponds are three, they were producing you.
I know many different models, that tank would have 14 different variants, the largest run of any of those variations was a little over 2000 units and it took six factories to build those 2000 units. The same thing happened with the Ponor 4 and Stug 3 that they were building in 1942. 14 different types of tanks and in some cases quantities as small as only 16 units, so now let's take a walk around the Henel facility where it is Dr. Awin Aders in the black suit leading a group of trash through the Henel facility, if that's what it is. Calculations on what we know about the production line at the Henchel facility on paper, this factory should have produced between 240 and 300 60 tanks per month and yet their highest monthly production target was only 95 units and the largest amount they ever obtained. at the end of the line there were 104 for most of the tiger's lifespan.
They were averaging about 60 units a month, two tanks a day, you know, and from an Ops perspective, you can imagine what's happening here in a nutshell, putting this together is just a nightmare, it's a great vehicle. combat, but it's horrible from a production point of view. I went through one of the Tiger Reference Bibles, last month, started counting things and came up with a list of about 250 different modifications that were made to this vehicle over the course of its 2 year run of 1300 units and think about What that means: On average, the tank just coming off the end of the line is somewhat different from the one just six units behind in the line, and the castle facility is dealing with one, two, or three design modifications every week. and they're not handling these mods in BL blocks or phases, it's a constant stream of TWY mono stuff coming. from above, so from a production engineering point of view, these things might as well have been hand-forged by dwarven blacksmiths in Moria's mind.
You know it's a crazy way to make combat vehicles and frankly a lot of the modifications. that were being put in were for things that were quite marginal to the combat value of the tank in itsOverall, there are other things going on in the shop as well and I'd like to take a look at some of them, these aren't necessarily documented in the literature, but they're things that make my Ops eyes perk up, you know, so here's a shot of the main Assembly Hall, notice the rolling stairs we can move to the side of the tank, why?
We even need them, well we need them because that tank is going to be there for probably 12 to 24 hours. This is not an automotive style mass manufacturing line. This is what we would call a stand or station based assembly process which is usually associated with things that have relatively high ticket prices and have a lot of variability, such as yachts and airplanes. If you went to the Boeing factory in Seattle and took the tour there, you would see a lot of that kind of stuff. and maybe that makes sense because the Germans are paying more for this tank than we pay for a B24 heavy bomber.
I love this photo. Gentlemen, if you have to be scribbling with chalk on the side of your tank to remember where you are. in the assembly process, that may be your clue that your assembly process is too complex. This photo is fascinating. I believe we have a large vertical lathe that is being used to make both the drive sprockets and the hubs that those sprockets are going to go into. Go on, I don't know if this is a bottleneck in the overall tank production process, but I can tell you that when you use a general purpose tool to make different types of parts in relatively small batches, it's always the setup.
Once again, the change from one part to another just eats you alive and this is an example of the lack of dedicated hard tooling in this particular factory and we know that from the numbers too, the Henel facility had around a thousand machine tools in Si The Chrysler Arsenal had 8,000 machine tools, so they likely had a very complex assembly process. We have a lack of dedicated hard tools. I'd bet any amount of money there was a ton of rework at the end of the line as well. They're shutting down the tank, oh there's something wrong with the transmission, they start pulling it apart and then the guys with guns come up to them and say, well, you know, while you're doing that, why don't you upgrade these last ones? two or three design modifications or we are not going to accept the vehicle, there is definitely a lot to play with the perfect fit and finish of the parts, we want the paint job to look really good, all of these things are reducing the performance of this Factory so if we take a look at the summarycosts and take them very carefully because, firstly, getting concrete data on the costs of these vehicles is very, very difficult and secondly, both the ruble and the Reichsmark are money false and they are not really freely convertible currencies, but we know it. the fact that the contract price for a Detroit Arsenal Sherman is $33,500 and it appears to have taken about 10,000 hours of work to assemble.
For the assembly process, the Russians are somewhere in between, but much closer to the American extreme. of the spectrum than the German end, yes their factories are not as efficient again due to their vertical integration, but on the other end of the spectrum we have the Germans, if you take a look at the official Tiger Tank Maintenance Bible, they Virtually brag in that book that this tank represents 300,000 man hours, uh, to put it together at a cost of 800,000 Reichsmarks, which is about $320,000, wow, so in summary, if we have to look at these manufacturing styles in the US In the US, very focused on quantity, we are going to put high quality components in our tanks.
Horizontal organization. Some models. Long runs. We use semi or unskilled SK labor and we are spending a lot of money on our tooling problems. The Russians also focus on quantity, but they are putting in little. quality components in their vehicles vertical organization few long lasting models semi or unskilled labor and just a manic focus on getting costs out of the tank the germans focus on quality they are putting high quality components there they are organized horizontally many models of short runs Highly skilled labor is used and the specifications of these vehicles are being driven by the military, so in conclusion the lessons from this are: yes, the United States was dealt a winning hand, obviously, but We also improvised incredibly well, we played that.
By the way, very good, we became the largest tank manufacturer in the world in about 12 months, which is surprising on the Soviet side. You know, there is a kind of tendency to poop in the Russian manufacturing experience, but any rational assessment of its production strategy. during the Second World War admittedly it was brilliant, it was absolutely brilliant and yes, their weapons may have been crude, but the thought process underlying the production of those weapons was anything but that they had made a very callous rational evaluation of the situation. type of war they were fighting and they built vehicles to match the Germans, on the other hand, you know, they failed to play their cards very well, they failed to overcome their institutional and frankly cultural prejudices against mass manufacturing until it was over. too late to get back into the game and I think what's happening here is that they didn't really realize what had happened during 1942, that the war had fundamentally changed until they found themselves in 1943 in this massive conflict where only production in Mass could really prevail and with that I thank you very much, thank you both, thank you Rob and John, and I would like to open the floor for questions for our panelist.
Please ask a question here to your left. I know you pointed that out in your Cur summary. about the attack on Oral right after, like the setup to curse, you know, the Russians deployed three fronts, you know they had the reserve front where a lot of the B guys when they made their next attack further north, at what point time? The high command says, where do they get all these guys? At what point did the German high command say? I mean, there has to be a point where, well, you know you have to try really hard and they put in the best they can.
The kers and Russians clearly had many more men on the ground both in the first wave and in reserves, then began an offensive a couple of days later, and also began another offensive a few weeks later against the southern Germans. Belgorod bulge then and then there is a wave of offensives that continue until Jer and the end of 1943 you already know German intelligence for all the skills that the Germans brought to the operational level War, the elegance of the maneuver scheme was everything in a German operation and it is still compelling to study and I have been studying it most of my life.
They were quite bad in other areas of warfare, such as intelligence and counterintelligence, and in 1942, for example, the intelligence estimates that the Germans thought. They were facing uh, I don't know, something like 800,000 Soviet soldiers on the Southern Front They were facing about 2 million They thought they were facing 6,000 Soviet armored vehicles They were facing 18,000 I mean, not only did they underestimate their Soviet adversary. entire army groups were lost, in terms of intelligence failures, it is among the most egregious in the world. Counterintelligence, that is, the ability to protect your own secrets, was simply horrible. Soviet spy ring Lucy, Tokyo spy ring Zorus.
The Enigma machine is compromised, so you know there is a war going on in terms of intelligence and counterintelligence and the last time the Germans had this feeling was in November 1942, when they thought they had fought the Soviets at least to a stalemate. . at Stalingrad and then there was a huge offensive by army groups both north and south of Stalingrad, but in 1943 I can't say that, you know, in the long term, someone said, someone said, how did that happen? That's impossible. I think by now most of the German high command knew that they were facing an enemy in the Soviet Union that could not be subdued in a single battle, now the question is why continue the fight and that is the subject of my book The verm Retreats.
That's not a book purchase, it's a contribution to my daughter's scholarship fund, since I'm there and we have here on your left. Rob, you mentioned that Garian was interested in going defensive or felt they needed to recondition themselves and play a defensive role in '43, whether you say the war was lost in the summer of '41 when they didn't complete the advance or in '42 in Stalingrad, was there any real thought in the German high command that maybe we should go back 200,300 miles and set up a defensive because really what we're working on here is a habitable space for the German people, other than Hitler, who wants be constantly on the offensive.
Was there any real idea or legitimate possibility that they had done it? he backed off and went on the defensive and just held the position, it's a great question that many sensible people would ask and perhaps many sensible armies would ask too, it was not a way to advance the German military career to present himself as a reasonable guy or a conservative or defensive minded general eh, I have in a sense studied the long term operational patterns of the German and Prussian army for hundreds of years and this was always an army that fought outnumbered and won many of its greatest victories outnumbered uh, it wasn't an army that, you know, pulled out the actuarial tables and said let's see what the chances are of this operation being successful, it was an army that and not just Hitler, uh, it was an army and Officer Corps in the that the notion of will was paramount, no matter what the situation looked like, you know, Frederick the Great won the Third, he won the Seven Years' War, who else won it?
We just heard Dr. Kennedy's speech, but he would not have won the Seven Years' War. Years of War if I had pulled out the actuarial tables and considered whether any of this made sense Prussia was in the center of Europe and vastly outnumbered by its adversary, so I'm not defending the point of what the Germans did, but in General Garan's notion of a retreat, say a few hundred meters, a couple of hundred miles, perhaps in some cases to the original border, fortifying the line, resisting the next Soviet blow, was simply a failure in the military's corps.
German officers and I have to say no. just a failure with Hitler, you didn't enter the Soviet Union in 1941 to find a good defensive line and fight, that hadn't been the meaning of the Enterprise all along, so we I'm here, I think I'm talking about the area in the that sensible operational or military methods are radically different from how the Germans perceived their role in the war. The question here Center I was a young engineer in a convoy of 26 ships leaving Philadelphia and we had a load of tanks for Russia, yes, through the Mediterranean through the PO to the Persian Gulf and I wonder what the H number is one if you have any idea how many tanks USM made.
Did we supply to the Russians and how did they perform? What was the power of those tanks? By the way, that's John parallel, right there, the small horsepower of a Sher, well, it also depends on the engine. I'm going to lean depending on the engine, um and I'm not really much of a nuts and bolts expert, to tell you what the horsepower of a Sherman was. I don't know the exact figures for the loan-lease of tanks to the Soviets. What I do know is that by 44 we will be supplying a very healthy percentage of Britain's armored fighting vehicles through Le Loan and so that, although we are cutting our own production, we will still be able to meet our own internal needs , as well as those of Great Britain, but I don't.
I have out of my head the estimates that I have always heard, so here are the estimates of the three major weapons systems that American delivered approximately 7,000 aircraft to the Soviet Union over the course of the war, about 15,000 armored vehicles combat that It is a colossal number and perhaps most importantly it allowed the Soviets to motorize their transportation system, some 50,000 trucks, a 2 and a half ton baker and other varieties, and 800,000 miles of communications cable, eh, the student Soviet. as our tanks, particularly the Grant, thought it was too high profile and they were absolutely right, they tended to use our vehicles, they liked them for training purposes because our engines ran for a long time while theirs didn't. but to the extent possible, yes, they were not willing to use them on the front, so for what this is worth, you see very few photos of American made tanks in action by the Red Army, yes, now those .
It could be a propaganda decision not to take those photos, but overall I think John is right, they were basically seenas training models. We have another question here at the center, Jonathan, and I'm wondering: do you know if there was any effect? with slave labor in the tank factories, there were thousands there in 1942. The other thing I wanted to ask you as well is were we producing all of these vehicles during the invasion of North Africa that the third division was using. Old vehicles were delivered. The British had the new Shermans, why didn't we? Keep in mind that in 42 we are still ramping up production at that time and again there were a lot of demands on that production.
You are absolutely right, you know we sent them. uh a large number of vehicles sent to the British where they could be available to L'Alamain as a direct result of the loss of Brook in June and as a result you know there were American units that were devoid of their vehicles is I've always thought that one of the great moments of coalition warfare in World War II we finally have what we think is a decent tank and it is the Sherman. We are going to win the war with the M4 but the first shipment of them is sent to the British, the British lamain had come to a head in the Battle of North Africa and that was a very brave decision on Roosevelt's part and, I might add, not entirely popular within the country.
US defense establishment, you won't be surprised. We have a question to the right of it. Bob just moved in with Carl. I will definitely look for it. I have bright light right now. I'm sorry, it's okay. I restore old armored military vehicles from World War II. vehicles particularly Jonathan uh question for you, can you address parts production? You know it's one thing to build it, but now it's another thing to keep it in action. Thank you, and frankly, it is one of the aspects of our tank production. overlooked program, I mean, a lot of people look at German tanks and say, well, yeah, but you know the tiger killed 10 for one and you know that's a great vehicle, but there are many other indices of effectiveness of a armored fighting vehicle and one of them is: Do you know how easy this thing is to maintain?
Do you have spare parts? The Americans were extremely adept at creating a large number of spare parts and having a very sophisticated logistics apparatus. Behind this, although one of my favorite quotes from Rick Aon's book on North Africa is that the US military did not solve its logistics problems, it overwhelmed them, but nevertheless, one of the things that Chrysler Arsenal's original purposes First of all, its creation was not only as a manufacturing center but also as a component manufacturer, so Chrysler Arsenal also ships components to other assembly factories and are a main source of spare parts for those vehicles, plus a question. of a World War II veteran on the front.
I wondered about the apparent immunity of these buildings from bombing. It seems like everyone is working at 100%. And I wonder where the capital comes from, particularly Russia. very little trade Rel any source of capital law um let me answer the second question first and then we will talk about bombing one of the biggest problems of the Soviet economy in 1942 and 43 as uh Dr.Pennington alluded to yesterday was that the civilian economy is on the brink of the collapse, these people are starving, that's where the capital comes from, if you look at the domestic consumption figures during that period, it absolutely goes to the bathroom, um, and that's why the money that they are saving, that's what it implies , you know, producing these tanks and, frankly, one of the good things for them from 1943 onwards is the fact that we have now cut the price of our T34 in half.
I have a little bit of money left to, you know, start putting some things back into the civilian economy as well, so that's kind of an advantage for them in terms of bombing. You know, the castle facilities were bombed a couple of times and if you look at their overall production history and you'll see a lot of this type of stuff happening. As a result of the bombing, they were not immune to the bombing offensive at all. It severely interrupted its production on a couple of occasions. We have a question here. on the front again Jonathan, could you comment on the development of the M26, a tank that proved a rival to the Germans?
The problem is that they only came into force when we headed towards the r at Ragan and, as I understand it, some historians claim that it was Leslie McNair, a former gunner who thought: "Well, we don't really need heavy tanks, it will really be the Destroyer anti-tank. Any comments or ideas on that, you have understood it in a nutshell." um yeah, McNair had the belief that tanks shouldn't fight tanks, we should destroy enemy tanks with anti-tank weapons and tank-destroying aircraft carriers um and obviously that collided head-on with reality and that was very problematic um something like that What is lost is that during 1942 the Sherman was actually a perfectly credible armored fighting vehicle and it gets kind of a bad W because it hasn't kept up with the Joneses at 19, you know, 43 and 44 um, but back to the M26, you know.
How did we get a vehicle that has a 90mm cannon and McNair certainly stopped that part of the equation? He took longer to get that tank, uh, performance production than he could have, otherwise we're also limited by the need to transport. these things across the ocean, it's much easier to ship a 30-ton tank than a ship, you know, a 45-ton tank there, so there were certainly limitations on the logistics guys to say, "No." . I don't know that we necessarily want to send this. We have a question on the back left. I have read over the years that the German C offensive had been delayed in an effort to get additional tanks onto the battlefield.
It was just a wish. to bring the latest and greatest models to the battlefield or was there inventory or other models available that could have been used earlier and if so would it have made some difference. All good questions. Planning for K began in early 1943, so the 4243rd is operational. The sequence had ended after Stalingrad with the Germans essentially on the same line they had been on before beginning the stalemate gr offensive. The idea was to launch an offensive towards the damned Salian to keep the initiative in German hands and To make sure that things were still going in favor of the Vermont on the front, now the only way to guarantee that was because the impact of the T34 was still reverberating in the German command, it was a superior tank to most things that the Germans were proposing was that they would launch an offensive with these new tanks as soon as they got to the front, of course that would also allow for all sorts of other preparations.
The Germans just fought each other like fools and to a standstill for 42 and 43 exhaustion at all levels, men, men and officers, an almost completely empty logistics pipeline, so taking the time would give a better blow, right, it would end with a you would end up with a bigger initial blow against the Now the Soviets don't have to tell a room full of World War II fans the problem that waiting months and months and months allows the Soviets to also increase the strength of their defenses and the potentialities of its own countercoup and this was a problem again and again during the spring and early summer of 1943 Operation Citadel would be planned and then someone (often Hitler, but not always Hitler would back down) would be cancelled, would be rescheduled, it would be uh uh canceled again and rescheduled for the third time until we finally get to July, you may know this quote and it seems to be true, it's not apocryphal at all what Hitler said when I think about launching Operation Citadel, my stomach turns He he he he had the feeling that perhaps the Barach had to wait to deal a strong initial blow, but that the longer the Vermont waited, the chances of victory in Operation Citadel decreased.
It is a classic. Don't know. A cyclical problem without a solution. Really. I try to speak against the notion that there is always a good solution to an operational problem, some operational problems have no solution and fighting a war against a much larger adversary in good defensive positions with solid, if not spectacular equipment, is never going to there was an easy solution to that problem and I think KK was proof positive of the last question from another great Brother Martin High School student, the great Mr. Parshall, you referenced the collapse of the Soviet railway system after the Germans invaded and also said that the Soviets were using equipment for the t34 and the rest of their tanks that wasn't going to take the tank that far it would eventually wear out or something so how was the movement of the tanks from the factory affected to the front line without a well-functioning road rail system or tanks that could travel long distances, good question.
This isn't to say that they weren't using their railroads, but what they were trying to do was use the railroads from the production standpoint that we want. Using that to transport raw materials to the factory and I would like to use my railways to get finished products to where they are needed, so I am eliminating the moving parts that involve second tier manufacturers and I am concentrating those Right inside the factory, the The Soviets had actually done some pretty innovative things around their railways, even you know, during the build-up to Stalingrad, they're putting railway tracks right in front, where they need them to be, so it's not so if their railway system doesn't work. but they are very, very concerned that they not use more tonnage in that system than they absolutely had to shut down, Rob thought, well the final thought I would give is that this year we are talking about 1943 and This was not a happy year for any of them. the combatants.
The Germans were clearly things turned against them. The allies, both the Western allies and the Soviets, seem to have a sense of momentum and initiative on their side. They were very far from where they wanted to be too and in that sense I think that 1943 was the most difficult year of the war because of all the fighting, let's give our panelist a hand, thank you Rob and John and we will bring them. to the hospitality room where both authors will be happy to sign books, but I need to hug everyone for a moment. I have four housekeeping notes that I must inform everyone first in the upcoming recess in this room we will be Distributing question and answer cards for General Petraeus at dinner tonight we would like everyone to write down their questions and then in the Next break between 425 and 450 this afternoon, there will be a wicker basket at the registration desk, please leave your questions for the General.
Petraeus in that wicker basket at the registration desk, we will pick him up at 4:50 and that will be his last chance for point two of the closing banquet, the banquet shuttle will go from 6:00 to 7: 00 p.m. 6:00 to 7:00 pm We will be offering transportation to the museum. The last shuttle leaves at 7:00 p.m. m. please make sure you get to that shuttle before 7 point three for those of you who have purchased Max Boots books, which are Max Boot word books and you would like Max to sign your books and send them to you, go and take your books.
Take only Max's books out of the boxes, you will send them to the next room and take them with you to the banquet tonight. Could you repeat that? Yes, Rob, let's go have a drink and then I'll go. okay, but last point and this is for many of you who are not only driving but also leaving for the airport tomorrow I 10, Interstate 10 will be closed from 2 a.m. to 5 p.m. m. to 10 a.m. m. tomorrow morning from 2: a. m. at 10: a. m. There are alternative routes to the airport, namely Airline Highway Airart Expressway for those of you traveling by plane.
I don't think taxi drivers will have a problem with this, but we wanted to let you know that there will be construction on the interstate, so you may want to plan for that. I suggest that, to be very safe, you plan to leave an hour before the usual time to go to the airport, give yourself a comfortable place there and therefore return at 3:15 for our Next panel thanks, so we have to go to the next room.

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