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History, Reference, Research, and GrogTalk => Military (and other) History => Topic started by: JasonPratt on June 16, 2020, 05:26:51 PM

Title: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 16, 2020, 05:26:51 PM
For the prior thread of my Icebreaker Thesis Chronology project, click here (

For the Table of Contents and Introduction thread, click here (

The day before the Day of Truth is here: one day before Barbarossa.  :hide: :timeout: :wow:

The Soviets will be so busy today, and a final overview of Soviet positions is so important for understanding the contexts of what will happen 'tomorrow', that I'm giving this day its own thread! -- which I'm planning to finish on June 21st of the current year, 2020.

Let's get to Suvorov's (previously rather scattered) notes on this day...
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 16, 2020, 05:41:14 PM
On Rails Toward Catastrophe

June 21, 1941: the day before Hitler launches Operation Barbarossa. Molotov, as directed by Stalin, is trying to meet with German leadership yet again, for peace talks.

Soviet historian Anfilov, in his "Immortal Feat", p.185, says that the Politburo spends this day in a secret session, "grappling with supremely important matters of state and military issues."

Details of this secret meeting are, understandably, sketchy. We can be sure they were not grappling with fighting against a Nazi invasion tomorrow; that will take them by surprise!

Scattered records, including from Anfilov, indicate that, for example, they decided to add the BM-13 mobile multiple rocket launcher to the Red Army in mass production, as well as its M-13 rockets of course, and organizing the production into rocket-launching artillery units. These are the famous "Katyusha" units, Stalin's Pipe Organ, and their decision to mass produce those now is certainly interesting, but not exactly a "supreme matter of state and military"!

Pre-GRU chief Golikov reports to the Politburo today on the massing of enormous numbers of Nazi forces on the Soviet frontier, huge stockpiles of ammunition, the redeployment of Nazi airpower (which seems to be finished by now), German deserters, and much, much else. Golikov knows the numerical designations of virtually all Nazi divisions; he knows the names of their commanders; he knows their locations. He know the name of the operation is "Barbarossa". He even has heard (from Sorge) that the Nazi invasion begins tomorrow! -- which he also reports to Stalin and the Politburo! (Presumably not the source.) This certainly counts as a supreme matter of the state and the military!

However, Golikov also goes on to report that despite all this, the Nazis have not yet begun to prepare for invasion -- based on the secret data he shares only with Stalin. But he shares it regularly, including today, and Stalin is up to date.

Someone at the meeting asks: how far will Golikov vouch for his conclusion that Barbarossa isn't ready to go tomorrow?

Golikov replies: he would give his life for the information and, should he be mistaken, the Politburo would have cause to do with him precisely what has been done with every single one of his predecessors.

Barbarossa will start ten to twelve hours after Golikov bets his own life that it won't.

But, he and Stalin remain well aware that Hitler has not sent at least fifteen thousand sheepskin coats to even one of those divisions on the border; no winter-grade kerosene; no winter-grade gun oil. Hitler clearly is not planning to conquer western Russia this year -- even though everything else at the border looks like he is about to attack.

Reassured through Golikov's confidence, even in the face of all the other data, especially because Stalin solidly agrees with Golikov that his secret data must surely predict when-if-ever Hitler intends to conquer western Russia -- which couldn't possibly be done this year in any case -- the Politburo goes on to discuss and implement more of its own plans on the border.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 16, 2020, 06:00:07 PM
Per Lieutenant-General Zhilin, Correspondent Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, in "Great Patriotic War [1941-1945]", p.64, "On June 21st, the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (of Bolsheviks) took the decision to create front formations based on the western border military districts."

This is a ratification to formally and (more) publicly pronounce a decision made at least as far back as February -- the creation of five western Fronts from Military District HQ staffs -- and already secretly put into action on June 13th. In other words, now that the Front HQs are in place and ready to go (mostly...!), the Soviet Government has decided to publicly, or anyway less secretly, call them Fronts.

Remember, in Soviet military doctrine, Fronts only exist where active fighting exists, and especially where the Soviets are about to initiate the active fighting -- ideally by invading across the border through the Fortified Sectors of their Military Districts. Declaring these areas to be Fronts, in any public (or relatively public) way, must signal to all observers the start of lethal, not practice, Soviet military operations.

Of course, the Politburo doesn't instantly lean out the windows and yell this information into the air outside the Kremlin: it will take a day or two before the news gets out. As it happens, the Red Army needs a day or two more to get its Front HQs fully activated with personnel. But once that happens, Soviet military action will formally start across the entirety of their borders with the Nazis: a military action five Fronts long, which won't involve expecting the Nazis to be attacking.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 16, 2020, 06:05:21 PM
What else is the Politburo doing today? Creating a General Headquarters from high command, as per Major-General (later Colonel-General) Pokrovsky's memoir article in JMH, 1978, #4, p.64. In the Soviet military structure, General HQ is the ultimate authority governing the Armed Forces in wartime. This makes perfect sense if Fronts are now being more-or-less publicly established: the time has come for the Soviet Union to go to war. Not a defensive war, of course; they will be grievously surprised in less than 24 hours, and dither around trying to understand what to do if the Nazis are invading them!

Also today (as reported by General Ivanov and Major-General Shekhovtsev, in JMH, 1981, #9, p.11), "the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (of Bolsheviks) conferred upon the Chief of the General Staff Zhukov overall leadership of the Southwestern and Southern Fronts, and, for Northern Front, conferred the same on Deputy People's Commissar of Defense General Meretskov."

Meretskov just happens to have ended his whirlwind tour of all border areas since June 13th (or perhaps starting a little before then), at Northern Front HQ in Leningrad, or rather at the border area of (secretly already assembled) Northern Front with Leningrad MD's commander Popov, nominally Northern Front HQ commander up to now. In this case, Northern Front also includes the Finnish border areas -- where Meretskov had invaded back at the end of 1939! -- but Meretskov seems to be given overarching command oversight of the Northwestern Front as well.

Zhukov's most recent direct military action happens to be the invasion of parts of Romania, capturing the land where the Danube Fleet is preparing to invade somewhere. Zhukov still has a lot to do in Moscow, as might be expected, so he won't leave General Staff before tomorrow, and will still be here when Hitler invades.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 16, 2020, 06:08:30 PM
So the Armies being parked in Military Districts, some of them from other MDs farther eastward, are today (on June 21st, 1941) being put under Front HQs, comprised of "Special Military District" commanders (some of whom didn't even know until recently that they had such armies in their MDs yet!) And some of the key Fronts are being put under multi-Front commanders. And everyone is being put under General HQ, now activating today for wartime operation.

Strictly speaking General HQ commands the Front HQs (or the multi-Front HQs), and those generals command the Army generals and so on; but does General HQ happen to have any units directly under its command?

Yes indeed! Pokrovsky in his 1978 memoir article lets his readers indirectly know that General HQ was set up on June 21st (or set up beforehand but officially launched today), by telling us that today he has been assigned as the Chief of Staff for "General Headquarters Group of Forces". First Deputy People's Commissar of Defense and Marshal of the Soviet Union Budyonny commands this Force Group.

So, what forces comprise this Force Group? The Second Strategic Echelon Armies! -- now conveniently trundling past Moscow on their way to the newly established wartime Fronts!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 16, 2020, 06:19:15 PM
Will General HQ be based in Moscow? That might be smart for a defensive war, or for its initial phases, but not for the kind of war the Politburo has been building up to and which it is activating today. No, General HQ will be set up near Vilnius -- not in deep defensive bunkers, of course, like the Zhiguli bedrock-bunkers, because General HQ isn't meant to stay there long. Pokrovsky is already there setting up.

The new Soviet Main Forward Command Post ("GPKP" in Russian acronym) is almost exactly the same distance from the Nazi border forces, as Rastenburg in East Prussia from the Soviet border forces. Who is in Rastenburg? Hitler is arriving there today to oversee the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union tomorrow.

Is the new Soviet Main Forward Command Post a bunch of tents out in a field? Ha, no, that would be silly! -- other army headquarters and even Front HQs get those, not the GPKP!

No, the Main Forward Command Post is a set of railway cars covered by several NKVD armored trains, plus three more trains from the People's Commissariat of Communications.

Unlike a set of tents in a forest, or even a set of tents in a field, the GPKP provides relative mobility -- relative because the tracks are jammed with incoming armies right now, and with outgoing empty cars to bring in more armies and supplies! But in theory the GPKP can move itself to be near major war developments. The GPKP already has a number of meticulously screened and camouflaged stops, which are themselves already hooked up to government communication lines. The communication equipment on the trains just have to be plugged in upon arrival.

In a war of defense against a major air power, like for example Nazi Germany, this would be practically the same as Russian Roulette! -- the command staff might as well be clicking revolvers at their heads every six or four hours! But just like the Oberkommand Heer when setting up a railway headquarters to oversee the invasion of Poland, Stalin isn't planning for that kind of war.

Back on June 6th, Nazi high command had uncovered (cough) "secret" plans to move the Soviet government east to Sverdlovsk. A few days later, the government began secretly moving west to somewhere on the rail line between Minsk and Vilnius, but closer to Vilnius. That's why Pokrovsky is already there, ready to activate General Headquarters. The People's Commissar for Communications, Communication Forces Marshal Peresypkin, is also arriving today to check whether the advanced comms teams have gotten everything already ready already, for when his commander arrives with his commander's HQ team.

This is all very standard according to Soviet, and indeed worldwide, protocol for setting up a headquarters, whether at company size or a front of armies; and whether the newly activating HQ is in a bedrock-bunker under the Zhiguli mountains, or in a mobile armored train group outside Vilnius. But what rank is this HQ? General HQ, the ultimate military command for a war. And which of Peresypkin's ultimate military bosses is on the way? He only has one boss: the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars -- Comrade Josef Stalin.

Peresypkin travels to the borders of East Prussia cloaked in understandable secrecy, riding an ordinary, regularly scheduled train, in a day coach attached to the end. The encrypted cables Peresypkin receives from Moscow are signed in his own name! Later in 1972 (in "Communications", p.17) he will recall, "Literally on the very eve of the war, Stalin directed me to go out to the Baltic republics. For some reason, I saw a connection between this critically important assignment and imminent military developments." Well, duh! He's going out to a Special Military District where a wartime Front already exists, to check final comms for General HQ -- the ultimate Soviet combat operations center! The only reason that the Marshal in charge of all communications in the Soviet Union would be going to a General HQ, would be to handle wartime coordination of military, governmental, and state communication systems. "The evening of June 21, 1941, together with a team of senior officials from the People's Commissariat for Communications, I left for Vilnius. We were en route when the war began..." More on this later.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 16, 2020, 06:23:16 PM
Wings the Day Before

Soviet close support strike aircraft and fighter groups, following Lapshinsky's strategy and training dating back at least twelve years, are massed right on the Axis border today, with runways pointed appropriately.

For example, the 123rd Fighter Regiment has its field base a little more than a mile (2 km) from the German frontier. Like many other such regiments, once they are climbing after takeoff, they are already supposed to be over Axis territory. Having done whatever it is that close support aircraft are supposed to do this close to the border when aimed at enemy territory (cough!), they will be able to return to base very quickly -- so quickly that if perhaps they needed to rearm, having also quickly expended all their air-to-ground ammunition, they wouldn't even necessarily need refueling!

In 1951, Major V. Khmelev will describe his experiences (in the June 17, 1951 issue of "Posev", page number uncited), "The bomber aviation air bases [were] located no further than 80km from the new German-Soviet border. It was at that time clear to every Soviet soldier and officer that the entire Red Army was feverishly preparing for aggressive operations of unheard-of dimensions." But not aggressive operations to defend against a Nazi attack tomorrow.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 16, 2020, 06:34:29 PM
Only 249 of the famous IL-2 armored super-ground-attack aircraft have been produced by June 21st, 1941. Eventually they shall be the single most-produced warplane in the history of the world (up to 2012's edition of "Chief Culprit"), but Stalin's insistence on removing the defensive rear-seat gunner has delayed their mass production (along with some political factors to be discussed later with the Su-2 and its family).

Hitler, by comparison, has zero such aircraft. The total of such aircraft produced by the rest of the world already today: also zero. The total of such aircraft produced by everyone except Soviet Russia by the end of WW2: also will be zero.

490 Soviet Pe-2 dive-bombers have been produced by June 21st, 1941 (per Medved and Khazanov, "Dive Bomber Pe-2", 1999, Part I, p.16). These surpass Hitler's dive bombers in all major categories (such as being 75 km/h faster than the Ju-88 and 100 km/h faster than the He-111, which isn't meant to be a dive bomber by the way.) Hitler has fewer than 490 Ju-88s positioned on the front; but they are all ready to go, while the Pe-2s are still being delivered and in transit.

Hitler has 1129 fighters of all types ready to fight in Barbarossa tomorrow. Stalin has 1309 of the newest MiG-3 fighters, some still in transit for delivery (see later example), per Kozhevenikov's "Command and Staff of the Air Forces of the Soviet Army in the Great Patriotic War", 1977, p.16. Beyond those, Stalin also has 322 of the newest LaGG-3s, and 399 of the newest cannon-armed Yak-1 fighters (per "USSR Aircraft Industry, 1917-1945", 1992-94, Vol.2, pp.41, 235.) Each of these models is equal or superior (per Suvorov) to the best German models available on this day.

Only(!) about 600 of the Su-2 "Ivanovs" have been produced by June 21st, 1941, assigned to eight air regiments located in the western border military districts. Many are still parked at plant airports or are on the way to their places of deployment. Officially, only 80 of these craft will be lost in all of World War II! -- out of only(!) eleven hundred ever produced -- out of a plan of up to 150,000! By November 19, 1941, they will be ordered to stop production.

This was the only aircraft Stalin ever gave his most important nickname, the "Ivanov"; the one plane that he constantly described as necessary and unavoidable. Why had he only produced a few hundred? To open the production line in peacetime, gain experience, fly the planes, and test them in small conflicts. The plan is to start the serious mass production for filling Stalin's order, after the sudden first strike, like a sudden mobilization reserve, somewhat like the soon-to-be famous Shpagin submachine gun, the PPSh: it has been created, tested, and approved before today, but not put into mass production yet. This epic submachine gun will start mass production soon after tomorrow -- in a situation where Stalin no longer sees reason to produce a hundred and fifty thousand blue-sky light close-support flying rocket artillery platforms anymore.

Stalin hasn't prepared similar levels of fighter coverage for the Su-2 and its successors (including the best close-support craft of WW2, the epic IL-2); so in a defensive war, the unarmored Su-2 just cannot be used as well as the armored IL-2. Those resources would be, and will be, better spent producing the IL-2.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 16, 2020, 06:56:35 PM
Soviet and, following after, western historians will routinely explain this choice to cease production of the Su-2, by the aircraft being obsolete, and indeed being obsolete by tomorrow morning (June 22nd, 1941). But how can an aircraft only one year into production from the legendary Sukhoy geniuses, with no comparable aircraft anywhere in the world, be obsolete?!

Equally legendary Sukhoy apprentice V.B. Shavrov will write (per Suvorov) the fullest and most objective history of the development of Soviet aviation, "The History of Aircraft Design in the USSR, 1938-1950", and his comments on page 50 are typically schizophrenic: he has no problem critiquing any aircraft made by him, or his team, or other teams, but regarding the Su-2, "its creators cannot be reproached for anything; the plane corresponded to realistic demands that appeared [my emphasis] only until the war."

In other words, Shavrov has nothing bad to say about the Su-2 -- everything was fine with Stalin's personal "Ivanov" project, up until this very day of June 21, 1941. By dawn tomorrow, however, the demands being met by this craft with unqualified success up until today, will instantly become "unrealistic".

Several months later, the Japanese will surprise-attack the United States at Pearl Harbor, using only 183 aircraft. Less than a quarter of that total will be fighter cover. The correct inference is that they do not plan many American fighters to launch; but possibly some may do so because the primary targets are the navy ships, not the airfields, and the Japanese have no ground forces to help keep American airpower on the ground. And so it happens.

There is nothing remarkable about the Nakajima B-5N models which will punch Pearl Harbor -- roughly equivalent to the Su-2 but with vastly much less firepower (due to being carrier planes). But in a surprise attack, their effect is awesome. Like the Su-2, the B-5N resembles a fighter more than a bomber: a low-wing monoplane, which gives it the ability to fly so low that the faces of their crews can be seen from ships and from the ground. The B-5N will carry less than a ton of explosives, but each drop will be made at point-blank range. They are "planes of the clear sky". The model's heroic days will be over after Pearl Harbor, and after the strikes on South Pacific islands for surprise invasion.

Hitler's own winged jackals, the Ju-87 Stukas, have been tearing up Europe in surprise attacks since September 1st, 1939. The 1941 variant is quite superior to its originator, with a 1500hp motor and a nominal 1000kg payload (or 1800kg for short-range strikes in weather proper for takeoff). But it is inferior to the Su-2 in several regards. And its models could not be very effectively used in the Battle of Britain: England kept watch for them coming in, and they could be massacred on the way back out, and most importantly there was no sudden land strike to secure any struck British airfields. Hitler ordered them to stop being used above Britain -- so were they totally obsolete aircraft now, unfit for continued production much less continued usage in their designed roles? Not at all! They excelled again this year (1941) in the surprise strike campaigns against Yugoslavia, Greece, and Crete. And they are about to do so again tomorrow -- now in Soviet Russia with an invasion army behind them.

The Stukas will not need record-breaking performance to reign supreme until Soviet aviation gets sufficient fighters into coverage; but they will practically disappear after that.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 17, 2020, 11:06:29 AM
Altogether, back on June 1st, 1941, the total operational Nazi military aircraft of all kinds was 6852, including 823 recon planes, 2017 single-engine fighters, 232 double-engine fighters, 2141 bombers, 401 dive-bombers, 719 transport planes, 133 communication planes, and 286 planes of all sorts assigned to the Navy (per "Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg" (The German Reign and the Second Worldwar), 1979, 5/1, p.555.) But Hitler is fighting on many fronts already, from the North Atlantic to the Egyptian border.

Against the USSR, Hitler is prepared to launch tomorrow 3520 war planes of all kinds (bombers, fighters, recon, transport, and comms), plus 307 Finnish, 393 Romanian, and 48 Hungarian military planes of all kinds: total 4268 planes. (per "The Great Patriotic War, 1941-1945: Military History Essays", 1998, Vol.1, 113. Also "Geschichte des Luftkriegs, 1910 bis 1980" (History of the Airwars), 1981, page unsourced.)

Counts vary, however, so Suvorov also supplies the data provided by German scholar O. Groehler, regarded as the most reliable among the majority of historians (according to Suvorov): against the USSR tomorrow, Hitler has deployed 945 bombers, 400 dive-bombers and ground attackers, 1036 single-engine fighters, 93 two-engine fighters, 120 long-range recon (for air fleets, not counting air recon assigned to land formations), 252 transports, 674 other forward based aircraft (the majority being short-range recon assigned to land formations). The transports evidently refer to air force personnel and supplies, not dedicated airmobile assault aircraft (including jumpers and gliders) which would be counted separately. Counting aircraft designed to destroy the enemy on the ground and in the air, the tally comes to 2474 or 2510 Nazi fighting craft ready to go, including craft such as the Hs-123 biplane single-bomb dive bomber. (Often mocked by Suvorov, although to be fair it's probably better than the Soviet bi-plane dive bomber which will be famously used soon by the "Night Witches".)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 17, 2020, 11:11:56 AM
Against this 2510 (or less) of all Nazi fighting models (air to air and air to ground), Stalin has 2769 of the newest comparable fighting models (IL-2, Pe-2, MiG-3, Yak-1, and LaGG-3) ready to fight, but not all of them delivered to the airbases yet. (This total doesn't count units still in production or in post-production certification tests, but does count units ready to ship and in transit.)

The Soviet DB-3f, 1940 model, has a range of 3300km with a normal bomb cargo; its 1941 model, redesignated the Il-4, with the upgraded M-88B motors, has a range of 3380km. Hitler does not have this type of aircraft either. Even back in 1936, the original DB-3 had set several world records for bomber combat performance. On this day, Stalin has one thousand eight hundred and forty-six DB-3f units (probably counting the 1941 IL-4 upgrades, Suvorov is a little unclear) ready to fight, and (being mostly an older variant from 1940) generally in place to fight (not in production).

In other words, Stalin has more 1946 Superfortress-level lifting-strength bombers ready to fight today, just in this one model, than Hitler's combined bombers of all types attacking the Soviet Union tomorrow.

Altogether there are several thousand (total unreported by Suvorov) of the seven next-newest fighting aircraft models, including along with the Er-2 and the DB-3f/IL-4, the Su-2 "Ivanov" ground attack (about 600), Pe-8 (only a handful, being the aborted TB-7 super bombers), Yak-2, Yak-4, and Ar-2. The Er-2 bomber has a range of 4000km; Hitler will not have a bomber with this range until the very end of the war.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 17, 2020, 11:19:10 AM
Since we're talking about bombers capable of lift loads comparable to the 1946 American Superfortress (after the war), let's compare Stalin's heavy bombers ready to go today, with Hitler's heavy bombers ready to go.

On this day, Stalin still has 516 TB-3 heavy bombers in the Soviet airforce plus another 25 TB-3 within Soviet Naval Aviation. Considering that 819 were built between 1932 and 1938, it's a little difficult to tell if Suvorov means that these 541 still have bombing assignments, or if these are the several hundred TB-3s (plus TB-1s and other converted bombers) being used as paradrop and airborne assault delivery craft in the Airborne Armies. (His citation either way comes from Kotelnikov's article "Flagship of Stalin's Falcons", in Aviatsia i Vremia #4, 1997, page uncited.)

Suvorov implies strongly in "Chief Culprit" (at least) that these 516 still had bombing duty, not airmobile assault duties. Its normal bombload range of up to 2250km (improved since 1930 initial design? -- or its eventual maximum design in 1938?), and its bomb load of up to 4 tons, plus eight defense machine guns, still place it in the top class of bombers for 1941. True, its speed of 288 km/h, practically unthinkable for a bomber in 1930, now seems slow by Soviet standards on June 21st, 1941.

But now, let us compare this 'obsolete' Soviet heavy bomber (if it is still bombing?) with Hitler's newest heavy bomber:

..........there is no comparison, because Hitler's heavy bomber development program crashed in 1936 after the death of its proponent, Walther Wever. Hitler concentrated on producing medium and light and dive bombers after that.

Well, okay, let's compare it with Hitler's best obsolete heavy bomber:

..........also no comparison, because Hitler never got any into service! On this day, Hitler has no bombers with four engines at all. Hitler has no bombers at all with a 4000km range. Hitler has no bombers at all with a 4 ton bombload. Every single one of Hitler's heavy bombers have zero speed, because they don't exist.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 17, 2020, 11:32:22 AM
Fine, then -- let's compare medium bombers ready to go today.

Stalin on June 21, 1941, has 324 SB (mid-range) bombers..., wait...

Sorry, no, that's Hitler with 324 Ju-87 Stukas ready to fly tomorrow in Barbarossa. They are comparable to the Soviet SB in range per bomb load (if the prevalent Ju-87B-1 is compared with the SB 1941 with its M-105P engines), but the SB is about 70 km/h faster.

The Soviet SBs after the war will be listed as being obsolete starting tomorrow, June 22nd, and sometimes thus left out of the accounting for Stalin's preparations. But if the SBs are obsolete, so are the Stukas!

Comparing the 'obsolete' SBs with the 324 equally 'obsolete' Stukas which Hitler has ready to go today for Barbarossa tomorrow, Stalin has SIX THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SIX equivalent-or-rather-slightly-better-than-Stukas. (Suvorov seems to cite this figure comparing numbers, from "Luftwaffe's Wings: Combat Aircraft of the Third Reich (Part 4)", 1995, p.41.)

For every single one of Hitler's Stukas, Hitler has twenty SB dive bombers ready to go tomorrow.

The SBs are twin-engine light level bombers, however, not tactical close-air support craft like the Su-2 or IL-2. There are several variants of Tupolev's SB class, mostly the SB-1 and SB-2, the newest being the Ar-2 (listed among the seven less important newest aircraft types above). It will suffer the most casualties of any Soviet aircraft in WW2, but will continue to serve until 1943 (in increasingly specialized roles). It was, of course, expected to operate without any fighter coverage whatever; but unlike the Stuka -- and unlike the Nazi twin-engine Junkers-88 which it compares more directly with -- it does carry six 7.62mm machine guns for all-points defense.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 17, 2020, 11:38:09 AM
On June 21st, 1941, Stalin will have 4226 fighters in the western border regions, of which 1635 are the "Ishachok" (little donkey) Polikarpov I-16, plus another 344 I-16s in the Northern, Baltic, and Black Sea Fleets (per Mikhail Maslov's "Fighter I-16", 1997, p.33). It started production in 1937 with both cannon and machine gun armament. It still had the most powerful weapon system among fighters in the world only two years ago (September 1939), twice surpassing the Bf-109e and almost three times the Spitfire-1. Among all prewar fighters in the world, it alone had armor protection around the pilot. The Spitfire never received cannon during the Battle of Britain; and the great American Mustang and Thunderbolt fighters will never get cannon at all!

The I-16 has an amazing standard lifting power of 553 horsepower per ton of weight, a world record that on this day before Barbarossa still has no equal, and which will not be equaled by the end of the war. (The Spitfire Mk-IX and the Bf-109K will come close, but only when operating at a temporary overcharged state which their engines can only handle for seven minutes.) The original liquid cooled engine of the I-16 has however been replaced with an air-cooled engine (based on the American Wright Cyclone design) which cannot be disabled through coolant-leak damage. The I-16 despite upgrades does stay behind the Bf-109 in speed, but easily defeats it in horizontal maneuverability, managing a 360 turn in 17 seconds while the Nazi fighter needs 25.

Aircraft have somewhat advanced in two years, including in Soviet Russia, but not so much as to render the I-16 obsolete; it remains in production until 1942, with an overall combat (non-trainer) production of 7103 units (plus 3189 trainers, known as the UTI-4).

Maslov's book on the I-16 reports that the Nazi pilots did not regard the I-16 as obsolete at all, teaching each other to fly fast zooms against it rather than getting into a turning duel (or worse trying to outclimb it). The German catchphrase was "one should not corner a rat", referring to the plane's Spanish front nickname Rata.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 17, 2020, 11:42:28 AM
Stalin on this day has the obsolete Polikarpov I-153 Chaika biplane fighters (total production 3437, operational number the day before Barbarossa unreported by Suvorov). Unlike the I-13's 17 second turn, this 'obsolete' Soviet fighter takes only 12 seconds; and it can reach a 5km cruising height one minute faster than a Bf-109. It is however even slower than the I-16.

How old was this thing?! Its first flight was in 1937 (or 1938, claims differ), and it entered production in 1939, just in time to be a premier fighter plane for the Soviet blitz of Mongolia. It will stop production this year, 1941, for somewhat obvious reasons! -- but notice that this is actually a very new model craft.

Why bother making it?! Partly because Stalin expected to swarm the sky with agile cheap fighters against nearly empty opposition; and also because in the early years of WW2, newly produced biplanes were proving unexpectedly difficult for fast monoplanes to dogfight with! The I-16 had had some trouble during the Mongolian blitz, against the Japanese Nakajima Ki-27 Nate, for example, but the I-153 could stay on par.

Unlike many biplanes, it could retract its undercarriage (albeit manually); and it was given four ShKAS machine guns, each one capable of vomiting out 1800 rounds per minute. Most of the 3437 produced models of this very recent aircraft (an update to the I-15 and I-15bis), would be in operation on this day.

It should be stressed in fairness, that Suvorov likes to poke fun at the Nazis for using various biplanes in Operation Barbarossa, deriding them as primitive craft; but Stalin's Soviet Union was still producing staggering numbers of them when WW2 started. Almost as many of these punchy little biplanes are around the day before Barbarossa, as the total number of all Nazi military aircraft, including non-combatants, on the Eastern Front!

(Nor are these to be confused with the Po-2 biplanes, primarily used in their U-2 designations since 1928 for crop dusting and as trainers, soon to be made most famous as low-level bombers by the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, the Night Witches.)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 17, 2020, 12:08:25 PM
A set of 99 of the latest MiG-3 fighters finalizes preparations to ship to Orsha Airbase today. Such shipments are made by trains in a single batch; Air Chief Marshal Novikov says (in JMH, 1969, #1, p.61) that on this day the Northern Front, where at this time he is Major-General in command of the Air Force for the front, a trainload of MiG-3 fighters arrives.

This provides a nice segue from the aircraft preparations to logistics.  ^-^

Piled Up For Plundering

Tracks are jammed with 1320 trains, each one hauling military automobiles. They were requisitioned from the agricultural commissariat, so they aren't hauling grain or any food right now. They are going nowhere at the moment because trains carrying troops, tanks, artillery, planes, and ammunition toward the border take priority over military cars and trucks. Each train would typically pull 45 flatbeds. Even if there was merely one car per flatbed (and during peacetime the practice was to load two or three per bed by resting front wheels atop the chassis ahead), someone has pulled together 59,400 military cars to go to the border, plus the freight trains and beds necessary to carry them, where currently they are doing nothing but blocking the way for the vast majority of other trains carrying military hardware to the border areas.

As noted, ammunition trains take priority over automobile carriers. A directive received at Liepaya on this evening, for example, instructs the station commandant, "Take in special train carrying ordnance. Redispatch to destination on priority basis." ("Red Star", April 28, 1985.) Liepaya and its naval base are very close to the East Prussian border, but the ammunition is going (on a priority basis!) even closer to the border.

In a defensive war preparation, it's easier, more reliable, and cheaper, to pre-position ammunition; also safer, so that if you're overrun the enemy won't capture a bunch of unsecured ammunition they might use instead of you! (As will happen tomorrow with this ammunition going past Liepaya, for example.)

Troops aren't expected to carry their ammunition reserves with them on defense: if they get overrun, they fall back to the next prepared position where fresh ammunition is waiting; then if necessary back to the third position and so on.

When gearing up for invasion, however, and especially for a blitzkrieg, you haul your ordnance with you because you don't have supply depots sitting around to work from. This is much more expensive, more logistically intensive, and much higher risk.

The Nazis are doing the same thing today: sending their ordnance up to the very border, where the ordnance not picked up by invading troops, will just sit around in more-or-less unsecured piles. Why? -- so that the Nazi logistic teams can just go pick it up easily and shuttle it forward to the blitzers on the front lines, once the blitzers kick off. Or the ammo sits in Nazi railcars more-or-less unsecured, for the same reason: they're already ready to go forward once the blitzers get a few dozen miles into enemy territory. Are there different rail gauges? Better stack up rail conversion and repair materials at the border! -- and if your enemy happens to have a bunch of engines and railcars where you can capture them, so much the better!

We know exactly why the Nazis have ordnance sitting out on the ground, and piled up in rail cars near the border. So, why even ask why the Soviets have vastly much more ordnance sitting around on the ground and in railcars near the border? If the Soviets are preparing for defense, those shells should be issued to the troops, not sitting in railcars! If retreat is even suspected, those railcars shouldn't be there at all.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 17, 2020, 12:49:33 PM
Per Kumanyov  (in "Soviet Railway Forces during the Great Patriotic War Years (1941-1945)", p.36), "At just Kalinovka, a minor station, Southwestern Front had one thousand five hundred [railway] wagons carrying ordnance."

Not only ordnance but fuel supplies are sitting around in railcars near the border. Kurkotin (later a Marshal of the Soviet Union) reports later (in "Soviet Armed Forces Logistics in the Great Patriotic War, 1941-1945", p.59), that "at railway junctions and even between stations, some eight thousand five hundred tank wagons [or fuel cisterns] piled up, loaded with fuel" on the final day before Barbarossa. At the beginning of June the "Soviet government, following a proposal by the General Staff, approved a plan to move 100,000 tons of fuel from the inland regions of the country."

But if only the smallest 20 ton tankers were used, Kurkotin is saying there is at least 170,000 tons of fuel -- just at the border. 62 ton tankers were the standard in 1941; so there could be 527,000 tons of fuel piled up in railway tanker cars near the border! -- not counting any fuel in dumps, pumps, or depots, nor already in sixteen armies' worth of vehicles near the border.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 17, 2020, 01:03:43 PM
Soviet and Nazi scout aircraft have been busy straying over the international borders to look around. Like the Soviets, the Nazis have been moving up to the border, and hiding their divisions in the woods in camouflaged tent cities wherever possible; but Soviet scout planes still can see things going on. Officers far up the Soviet chain are flying out to get a look. The commander of the Soviet 43rd Fighter Division, for example, Western Special Military District Air Force Major-General Zakharov, likes to go up to check on the enemy. In "Fighter Planes: Their Story Told", p.43, he will later write, "The impression you gained was that from far back in that enormous territory, things were on the move, had been slowed down here, at the very border, had bumped up against it as if it were an invisible barrier, and were ready at any moment to burst that dam."

Suvorov doesn't quote German documents, because (he says) he doesn't want to be accused of being a Nazi propagandist, but he emphasizes that German intelligence mirrors the words of Soviet line officers, generals, and marshals, about the situation on each other's side of the border up to June 22nd: both sides are very well aware, in their official reports to (and by) their own commanders, of mammoth troop movements by the other side up to the border. Germany just doesn't know how very much more massive the Soviet buildup is, yet! -- but they will soon learn.

At the time, the epic aircraft designer Tupolev (whose designs remained active and famous into the late Cold War and beyond), and all his design team, are sitting in jail. His deputy Orzerov will write a book about this later, to be smuggled out to West Germany and published past the Soviet censors. In his "Tupolev & Co. Behind Bars", p.90, he writes that during his imprisonment at this time, they heard how "The folks living along Byelorussian and Vindava lines are complaining: can't sleep at night, with all the [Soviet] troop trains being run through, loaded with tanks and cannons!"
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 18, 2020, 06:26:11 AM
From "The Estonian People in the Soviet Union's Great Fatherland War, 1941-45", Vol 1, p.43, "The Soviet Baltic Fleet set out from the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland on the eve of the war." They have only one way to go: west.

Why are they going west? "The Fleet's mission was to move into action against the enemy's marine lines of communication."

There is still no war, Stalin still does not know Hitler will attack him in twelve hours or less, and yet the strongest Soviet Fleet has already left port on an offensive strike combat mission against some "enemy's" marine lines of communication.

What enemy's supply lines to the west could they be sailing to attack? Hitler is getting thirty percent of his iron ore from Sweden, which loads at the Swedish port of Lulea (nearly at the Arctic Circl), then which runs down Finland's coast through the Gulf of Bothnia, past the Aland Islands, past the Gotland, Oland, Bornholm Islands, then reaching German ports.

There are also the nickle mines in Finland, but Stalin doesn't need a fleet to attack that; he has a division parked outside all the time for security purposes! What Hitler does have coming from Finland more generally is wood.

No one else has any supply coming from the Baltic Sea -- so if Stalin isn't sailing his fleet to attack Nazi supply lines on the evening of June 21st, 1941, then he can only be attacking Great Britain!  :o
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 18, 2020, 06:33:37 AM
It should be noted that for defending the Soviet Union, a Baltic Sea Fleet isn't needed at all.

Up until the Baltic Sea Fleet helped conquer the Baltic States in 1940 (and the Karelian Isthmus in 1939), only the port and shoreline of St. Petersburg (now known as Leningrad) needed defending, and for more than two hundred years the tsars beginning with Peter the Great had all erected and improved fortifications in that area. Anyone trying to invade would have to get past easily-supplied and reinforced sea forts and coastal artillery batteries (similar to turrets on battleships, with defensive labyrinths underneath, numbering 253 weapons on June 21st, 1941, from 100 to 406mm in caliber, not even counting another 60 guns from 45 to 76mm), and then would find themselves caught in an inland series of fortified regions.

The Bolsheviks only added to those defenses, and they are one defensive line that Stalin has definitely not destroyed! These are like land battleships that don't need fuel to go anywhere, and which can have any amount of metal plating and concrete for armor. A Soviet 305mm cannon can launch shells weighing 470kg to a distance of 43.9km -- once every ten seconds! A Soviet 406mm gun throws a shell weighing 1108kg out 45.5km, once every 24 seconds! (per JMH, #3, 1973, p.78. See also "The Red Banner Baltic Fleet in the Battle for Leningrad", 1973, p.8.)

To be sure, there are also mobile artillery cannons nearby, purely for the defense of the shore against invasion: naval cannons mounted on railroad platforms, parked in concrete hideaways. They can navigate around a web of railroads, quickly reaching pre-arranged and well-concealed firing positions and shooting before scooting away. The most important such railguns are 180mm cannons, lobbing 97.5kg shells five rounds a minute, out to 37.8km. But don't worry, comrade! -- Leningrad does not depend on such weak and puny weapons alaone for defense! There are also 203mm, 254mm, and 356mm rail guns. (The 356 can shoot a 747.8kg shell out to 44.6 thousand meters.)

Each battery, each fort, each fortified region (the three primary ones being the Kronstadt, the Izhorsk, and the Luzhsk), also each naval base, has ammunition and supplies enough to defend themselves for at least four years -- which turns out to be a good thing starting tomorrow! Have the 352 anti-aircraft cannons been mentioned yet?

The Soviet Union does not need battleships in the Baltic Sea for defense. And, to be fair, they aren't being used for defense: they're sallying forth tonight with a combat mission to attack some "enemy" in his supply line.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 18, 2020, 08:07:53 AM
The Baltic submarines haven't surged yet, which seems a little odd under these conditions, because subs ought to be the first choice of hitting supply routes; the Soviet Navy evidently intends them to be used somewhere other than against a Baltic Sea enemy.

Still, the Shipbuilding Commissariat has earned its informal nickname of the "Submarine Narkomat": by today, the Soviet Union possesses 218 completed submarines, and another 91 in various stages of production. Stalin has 69 of his subs in the Baltic (per "The Great Patriotic War, 1941-1945: Encyclopedia", p.75), largely stacked up liked canned sardines in Liepaya (just over the border from East Prussia). Stalin has also kept two out of three of his battleships in the Baltic, despite regarding the Baltic Sea as "a sealed bottle and we can't open it". (Said in 1933, reported in "Testimony of the Admiral of the Soviet Union Fleet, I.S. Isaakov", in "Znamia" [Banner], #5, 1988, p.77.) Inside this sealed bottle, Stalin has also collected two cruisers, twenty-one destroyers, forty-eight torpedo motorboats, plus lighter and non-attack craft. To this he added 656 warplanes, mostly bombers and torpedo carriers (per "The Warpath of the Soviet Navy", 1974, p.537.)

The Nazis do not have a distinct air force on the Baltic Sea (per JMH, #4, 1962, p.34). As for naval power, they only have five training submarines and twenty-eight torpedo motorboats (some also for training), remaining in the Baltic Sea. The Kriegsmarine only has secondary forces in the Baltic beyond these: mine blockers, minesweepers, and various motorboats. (per F. Ruge's "War on the Sea, 1939-1945", 1957, p.209) This has been true since Hitler pushed the war to Great Britain and the French coast.

Again, there is only one significant target in the Baltic for Stalin's navy and naval air force: Hitler's iron ore transports. Stalin could have destroyed them, and mined the ports, at any moment until now, but only tonight on June 21st is he sending out the Baltic Fleet (without the submarines!) to attack some enemy's lines of communication. Consider the lack of submarines surging to cooperate with this mission, in light of the lack of serious convoy support provided by the Kriegsmarine (according to Suvorov's sources). This isn't a case where the precious subs might be specially in danger going after the convoys in the relative constraints of the Baltic shipping lines. The blunt fact of the matter is that the Soviet surface fleet is massive overkill against these supply lines -- and they can do the work faster than the subs, with the ability to lend fire support against ports and other shore targets afterward.

And in fact, while there seems to be no record of the directive to execute Plan S.3-20 being sent, the Baltic Fleet has been prepared since November 25, 1940, "working jointly with the air force, [to] destroy the active navy of Finland and Sweden (in case of involvement by the latter.)" (per "The Year 1941", Vol.1, pp.418-23.)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 18, 2020, 10:30:22 AM
One hundred and seventy Soviet divisions stand on or near the border, in several dozen corps and sixteen armies, plus three armies worth of NKVD Mobile Response Divisions (MRDs), as the First Strategic Echelon. Of these, 56 divisions are right up next to the border; and even here, subunits have been pressed as close to the border as humanly possible -- even sometimes closer to the international border than the border posts themselves! Aside from prior examples, General I.I. Feduninsky, commander of the 15th Rifle Corps of the 5th Army, talks about how he himself led four regiments from the 45th and 62nd Rifle Divisions "into the woods, closer to the border", in his "Called Up to Alarm", 1964, p.12)

The remaining 114 divisions are themselves closer to the border than they had been before June 12th, when between then and June 15th every one of them has been ordered to move closer to the border. (e.g., Gylev and Khvostov in "Communist" 1968, #12, p.68, "From 12 through 15 June, western military districts were ordered to move all divisions deployed deep in-country closer to the international borders.")

Another 77 divisions, belonging to the Second Strategic Echelon, are on the way, or are preparing to move as soon as the bottlenecks clear.

Final tally, including the NKVD divisions? Two hundred forty-seven. (If I've followed out Suvorov's math correctly. He spreads this data out in various ways, so it's hard to get a final tally.)

TASS Soviet radio, back on June 13th, had called this greatest military troop transfer in human history, an "ongoing summer call-up of Red Army reservists and impending maneuvers are aimed at nothing other than training reservists and testing the functionality of the railway grid. Since it is common knowledge that these steps are taken every year, portraying them as hostile to Germany is nothing less than ludicrous." Ah, you see, in Soviet Russia, the greatest logistic triumph in human history is just business as usual, nothing to see here, we do this every year, as everyone knows!  >:D
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 18, 2020, 10:43:57 AM
As a comparison, cited by Suvorov from the article "Operational and total strength of the USSR Armed Forces during the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945)," in "Statistical Digest", #1 (covering June 22, 1941), 1994, pp.10-12, along with several other sources (see his footnote 9 in chapter 20 of "Chief Culprit"): when Stalin drafted reservists in July 1939 to support the troops of the Trans-Baikal military district and the 1st Army Group in Mongolia (preparing for Zhukov's blitz against the Japanese 6th Army), the Red Army added 173,000 troops to bring the Red Army up to 1,871,600 men (not counting border guards, interior troops, or the navy). Out of those, only around 58,000 blitzed the Japanese (many of those being support for the troops doing the actual fighting, of course).

On this day, June 21st, 1941, the Red Army alone numbers 5,081,000. This has been done without openly declaring mobilization; in fact Hitler has no accurate idea how many Soviet troops are waiting behind the line, and no idea at all how many are on the way in the Second Strategic Echelon.

In total today, the USSR Armed Forces strength tally the aforementioned 5,081,00 in the Red Army; plus 344,000 in the Navy; plus another 337,00 combined interior troops (protecting against insurrection) and border guards (many of them on the western frontier).

This numerical increase since mobilization, which started with universal conscription, back on August 19th, 1939 (publicly first announced on September 3rd), has not been a straightforward process of constant growth. In fact, it is even significantly less than the previous high watermark of 5,289,400 in the Red Army alone -- attained on September 20, 1939, shortly after invading Poland! That number however was much more on-paper as a preparation; this number is in the field -- and growing. (As for why and how that technical high watermark happened in September 1939, see entries back at that time.)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 18, 2020, 10:51:30 AM
General Ivanov, in his "Opening Phase of the War" (p.211), says that this still-ongoing logistic operation (which started in February and intensified from there), was scheduled to be completed on July 10th. Rail transport has been (and is scheduled to be) monopolized by clandestine military traffic for half a year: absolutely wrecking this year's part of the current Five-Year Plan.

TASS calls wrecking the Five-Year Plan "testing the grid".  ::)

However, there is literally not enough room for all these pieces to arrive by July 10th. A large number of divisions and corps already at the border must go somewhere else for this logistic transfer to be completed on time -- but where can they go? They cannot go back east: the arriving divisions and corps are coming and would be in the way! They cannot go north or south: numerous divisions and corps are already stacked up in the way there, and more are arriving every day. They only have one way to go, to make room for the arriving Second Strategic Echelon: west, across the border. And they have to get moving west, out of the way of arriving forces, several weeks before July 10th.

Major-General Yovlyev (JMH, 1960, #9, p.56), "Extraordinary as the call-up was, beyond anything military preparedness plans envisaged, it put people on edge." Indeed, the largest logistic transfer in human history, much of it on 1941 Siberian rail technology, would make people a little jumpy!

So does calling this heroic feat "reservist maneuvers", which as Vice-Admiral Azarov notes (JMH, 1962, #6, p.77) is something that usually happens in the fall.

Why would doing even mere reservist maneuvers in the summer make people edgy? -- much moreso in proportion beyond normal reservist maneuvers? Because as Colonel-General I.I. Ludnikov will report later (JHM, #9, 1966, p.66), “Usually, reserves are called in [for practice maneuvers] after the crops have been harvested... In 1941, this rule was broken.”

That means the harvest will be much worse or at least much more difficult this year; and the Soviet Union has been starving by murderous millions for years, so it's important to get what grain you can during the harvest!

By calling in such massive reserves on a logistic transfer before the harvest, the Soviet Union will effectively starve to death this year -- unless food is picked up by some other method. And supposedly, starving the Soviet Union to death is being done for standard reservist maneuvers?!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 18, 2020, 11:08:16 AM
By this date, all Soviet Armies on the German and Romanian borders, plus one on the Finnish border, fully meet Soviet doctrinal standards for strike armies, even though they aren't formally labeled "strike" (or "covering") armies. From north to south along the line these are the 23rd (at Finland), 8th, 11th, 3rd, 10th, 4th, 5th, 6th, 26th, 12th, 18th, and 9th.

16th, 19th, 20th, and 21st Armies (all sometimes considered by Suvorov as Second Strategic Echelon) have also been brought up to strike army doctrinal standards, and are secretly on the way to the western border but aren't totally there yet. The Central Archives for the USSR Ministry of Defense, Section 208, Register 2511, File 20, p.128, reports that 16th Army (for example) now has 1483 tanks, plus 560 armored cars including 397 armored cars armed with heavy cannon. More specifically, the 16th's 5th Mechanized Corps counts 1076 tanks (per the Central Archive of the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation, Fund 208, Index 2511, Case 20, Sheet 128); the separate reserve 57th Tank Division included 375 tanks; and the two rifle divisions had another thirty-two tanks.

It must be noted that while Suvorov emphasizes (in ALL CAPS) that ALL the armies on the border are fully up to strike army standards, he acknowledges ("true enough") that not all strike armies were at full strength in terms of tanks (or, I'll add, in terms of anything else, for that matter). He means that their units have been organizationally assigned and are on the way, but not all of them have arrived yet; and for the tanks, perhaps not all have even left the factory yards although already assigned. 16th Army in any case is moving across seven thousand kilometers, commanded by Lieutenant-General M.F. Lukin, with Colonel M.A. Shalin (a future chief of the GRU) as chief of staff. Its relocation started on May 26, 1941, and is scheduled to end on July 10th.

At the very least, the German invasion tomorrow will catch the Soviet Union at work completing, debugging, fine-tuning, and reserve-deploying sixteen strike armies, each one equivalent in composition to one of Germany's four East Front Panzer Groups.

If the "invasion armies" of the 1920s were renamed "strike armies" to sound less aggressive; and if armies have been configured since then to be temporarily converted to and deconverted from strike armies so that there won't standing armies which might be called strike armies; then doesn't creating permanently configured strike armies (labeled that way or not) seem counter-productive to diplomacy and propaganda?

Indeed! -- but Soviet experts are already ready for this already!  :D To explain the sudden bulking of these panzer-groupish strike armies, they have now been labeled "covering armies": a plan prepared in military academies all the way back in 1935, according to a diplomatic doctrinal shift dating from 1932. Quoting again (as in a previous entry) from (apparently) a paper or lecture from the Frunze Military Academy at that time: "in modern parlance a 'covering army' embodies the prevailing strategic operations concept of dynamic sudden invasion. The current defense term 'covering army' thus clearly serves, if anything, to cloak an 'invasion army' designed for sudden offensive."

This is typical double-speak of the type Orwell complained about: a "liberation crusade" is the approved public way to talk about an offensive invasion to seize control of a nation; a "counter-strike" is the approved public way to talk about a strike; and "seizing the strategic initiative" is a polite way to shade talking about a surprise "counter-strike" on a neighbor using "covering armies" for a "liberation crusade" without declaring a war.

"Covering armies" are partly intended to mask or screen or provide cover for the build-up of Soviet offensive invasion forces farther behind them -- which is certainly happening today -- but they are also meant to be blitzkrieg strikes to create the equivalent of beachheads in enemy territory, thus covering for the main-strike elements to follow.

So in the Winter War, 7th Army was up-converted to a strike (or covering) army, out of the four armies already on the Finnish border (plus another two on the way), with the operational purpose of punching a hole into the defensive security corridor and providing cover for the other three (or five) much weaker standard armies to continue through into the enemy's backfield: just like the Nazi Panzer Groups lined up for Barbarossa tomorrow, "covering" for the standard divisions behind them. In the Winter War the security corridor proved more difficult than they were expecting, but the Finns did get the point! -- and sued for peace once the covering army managed to get through the final line of defense.

Now, all the armies along the Western border have been pumped up in organization to covering army standards (although equipment is still coming in on June 21st). But who are they supposed to cover for? By deduction, they must be covering for the other divisions of the Second Strategic Echelon coming up behind them. The covering armies, in Soviet military doctrine, are supposed to cover for them by invading the enemy, thus allowing subsequent forces to arrive, deploy, and enter the enemy nation in an orderly fashion.

Most of these sixteen invasion (i.e. "strike", i.e. "covering") armies are tooling up to, or are already at, the ordinary standard for covering armies: one mechanized corps equivalent in equipment to an entire Nazi Panzer Group, plus two rifle corps, plus several separate divisions.

But three of them, the 6th, 9th, and 10th Armies, each feature two mechanized corps, one cavalry corps, and three rifle corps. Each of these super-covering armies has been moved as close to the border as possible, including where the front line juts specially toward Germany. Each mechanized corps has around 450 of the latest T-32 and KV tanks (not counting earlier tanks), and each of these armies has air divisions featuring hundreds of fresh-off-the-line strike aircraft (also including some fighters). Plans called for each of these three super-cover armies to have 2350 tanks, 698 other armored fighting vehicles, more than 4000 heavy guns and grenade launchers, and over 250,000 troops, plus another 10 to 12 heavy artillery regiments, plus NKVD units and much more.

Neither Germany nor any other nation on Earth has anything like these three super-strike armies. Each of them BY THEMSELVES already, or soon will, equal nearly about three-quarters of the Nazi tanks on the East Front, and roughly half the Wehrmacht (everywhere, not only on the East Front) in sheer numbers of tanks -- not counting debates and disputes over quality of the tanks.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 18, 2020, 11:13:42 AM
Quality, however, is partly relative.

Most of the Soviet tanks are based on the BT-28 system, of course. After the war, Soviet generals and historians will call the T-28 tanks obsolete, but they're currently only obsolete compared to the T-34 systems (and arguably the KV-1, with the KV-2 not being really designed for tank warfare but as a mobile siege engine). In comparison with all foreign tanks, including everything on the German Eastern Front the day before Barbarossa, the T-28s are still outstanding! Relatively few Nazi tanks have an equivalent of a 76mm gun, and none of them have a muzzle velocity of 555 m/s; none of them have four or even five machine guns; none of them have 80mm frontal armor; none of them have 500 horsepower engines. Also, none of them can shed their tracks, much less shed the governors for their 500hp engines, to run at superhighway speeds on superhighways. None of them have underwater-capable travel (in the sense of being able to travel up to one thousand meters fully submerged), nor is a single Nazi tank capable of swimming along rivers and lakes for hundreds of miles even in stormy lake weather.

This is not to disparage Nazi tanks: no one else has such tanks yet either! Even today, in 2020, modern nations lack tanks with some of those capabilities!

Much less do the Germans have anything like the T-34! Neither do the Germans have even one heavy tank yet.

After the war, Soviet historians will exclude all T-28 tanks (in BT configurations or otherwise) from the statistics of Soviet readiness near the border, or put them in the obsolete and worn out categories. However, Finland captured some T-28 tanks in the 1939 Winter War, and are about to capture some more during Barbarossa; and those tanks will serve to the end of the war, being successfully used against Red Army T-34 tanks and even KV units! One surviving Finnish T-28 will be remodeled into an evacuation unit, and serve until 1951. This is despite Finland having no spare parts for the T-28; aside from the 'speed tank' variants, primarily designed to operate in very cultured roadway areas, they were designed to operate during wartime in the harshest conditions, in almost impassable terrain, without needing spare parts. The Germans will certainly be happy to pick up any T-34 and even T-28 tanks they can find surviving the blitz!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 18, 2020, 11:25:29 AM
Communist historians will be put in a bit of a quandry on how to explain the early crushing defeats of Barbarossa, while acknowledging with proper pride (and propaganda) the greatness of the T-34. Part of their solution will be to claim that only a very few such tanks were available at this time.

Indeed, only NINE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN T-34s exist on June 21, 1941, spread across the five special Military Districts (now converting to Front operations), out of the many thousands of other Soviet tanks in these districts! -- a pauce fraction by Soviet standards! But this does not count the 258 T-34 units still on the way with the second strategic echelon, nor the 138 unloading from having been shipped directly from the factories, nor the 37 that are certified ready to ship.

Altogether, the total stands at exactly 1400 T-34s, with 967 under Front commands ready to go. (per "Military and Numeric Composition of the Armed Forces of the USSR", in "Statistical Almanac", #1, for June 22, 1941, Military History Institute, of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, 1994, p.241)

Stalin has the embarrassingly low number (by Soviet standards) of only nine hundred and sixty-seven T-34s ready to fight today, a little less than one third of Hitler's total East Front tank force. Hitler has exactly zero comparable tanks ready to fight today.

Stalin has another 473 completed T-34s already on the way or ready to be on the way today. Hitler has exactly zero comparable tanks already ready to be on the way.

Stalin has another ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-NINE T-34 tanks which will finish production this year. Hitler has exactly zero comparable tanks even in design yet, much less in production.

Next year, Stalin will be able to complete thirty-five T-34 tanks per day on average in 1942, for a total of TWELVE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND TWENTY produced next year; some with improvements of course. Hitler will have Tigers (to compete with the KV-1) and Panthers (to compete with the T-34) on the drawing board by the end of 1942.

The T-34 will still surpass the Panther in all maneuverability factors, so will still be superior on offense. Nazi Major-General von Mellentin will agree that the T-34 is "the best example of an offensive weapon [for WW2]." (source uncited) Stalin has fourteen hundred of the best example of an offensive weapon for World War Two on the line today or moving up to the line, with another eighteen hundred-ish of them still to come this year, and another one-hundred-twenty-five hundreds of them slated for production next year.

Hitler has zero of the best offensive weapon for World War Two, ready to invade Russia tomorrow, or even on the drawing board for a year and a half to come.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: ArizonaTank on June 18, 2020, 12:17:07 PM
Quality, however, is partly relative.

Most of the Soviet tanks are based on the BT-28 system, of course. After the war, Soviet generals and historians will call the T-28 tanks obsolete, but they're currently only obsolete compared to the T-34 systems (and arguably the KV-1, with the KV-2 not being really designed for tank warfare but as a mobile siege engine). In comparison with all foreign tanks, including everything on the German Eastern Front the day before Barbarossa, the T-28s are still outstanding! Relatively few Nazi tanks have an equivalent of a 76mm gun, and none of them have a muzzle velocity of 555 m/s; none of them have four or even five machine guns; none of them have 80mm frontal armor; none of them have 500 horsepower engines. Also, none of them can shed their tracks, much less shed the governors for their 500hp engines, to run at superhighway speeds on superhighways. None of them have underwater-capable travel (in the sense of being able to travel up to one thousand meters fully submerged), nor is a single Nazi tank capable of swimming along rivers and lakes for hundreds of miles even in stormy lake weather.

This is not to disparage Nazi tanks: no one else has such tanks yet either! Even today, in 2020, modern nations lack tanks with some of those capabilities!

Much less do the Germans have anything like the T-34! Neither do the Germans have even one heavy tank yet.

After the war, Soviet historians will exclude all T-28 tanks (in BT configurations or otherwise) from the statistics of Soviet readiness near the border, or put them in the obsolete and worn out categories. However, Finland captured some T-28 tanks in the 1939 Winter War, and are about to capture some more during Barbarossa; and those tanks will serve to the end of the war, being successfully used against Red Army T-34 tanks and even KV units! One surviving Finnish T-28 will be remodeled into an evacuation unit, and serve until 1951. This is despite Finland having no spare parts for the T-28; aside from the 'speed tank' variants, primarily designed to operate in very cultured roadway areas, they were designed to operate during wartime in the harshest conditions, in almost impassable terrain, without needing spare parts. The Germans will certainly be happy to pick up any T-34 and even T-28 tanks they can find surviving the blitz!

Interesting analysis of the T-28. It generally gets panned whenever it is mentioned. Any idea of what the crews thought of it?
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 18, 2020, 02:37:35 PM
That's an excellent question. Suvorov doesn't provide any citations from tankers (Soviet or otherwise) on the T-28, and I haven't read of any independently to add to the chronology. T-28s were super flexible, however -- which is why some variants were speed tanks (the model started out as an upgrade to the BT series) and some apparently not, and why they were the first mass production model to be rated for one kilometer underwater fording to a depth of 4.5 meters, and why Stalin's designers are busy in 1941 working on getting a floating version of the T-28. It was definitely the "T-34" of its time.

Back in an entry for 1937 (, I recorded Suv's comparative analysis of the BT-28 of that time with the A production model of the PvIV. Both have gone through upgrades since then, of course, by June 21st, 1941.

Suv's comparison of the 1938 T-28 with the Matilda II. (

The T-28 got its upgrade to a longer gun that year, too. ( (Not counting the experimental 85mm artillery variant.) With its 80mm armor upgrade, this was when models stopped dropping the 'speed tank' designation. Even their premier heavy-tank of the time, the T-35, only got an armor upgrade to 50mm.

Suv recommends Bariatinsky and Pavlov's Medium Tank T-28 study; there are copies of a 1993 34-page technical specs update by the Pavlovs for sale used on Amazon right now, if anyone reads Russian!  :D (The photos and technical data charts have English translations apparently.)

Jim Kinnear translated Baryatinsky's Steel Fortress back in 2000, into English, and there are SEVERAL used and new copies at Amazon! Alas, my book-budget is being refilled at the moment...
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 19, 2020, 11:25:16 AM
Speaking of competing with the KV-1, back on May 31st, half a month ago, Stalin had 'only' 508 KV tanks (whether the KV-1 field tank, or combined with the bunker-busting KV-2, is unclear in Suvorov's notes) while Hitler had some preliminary sketches of a heavy tank (with blueprints to be produced by the end of 1942). These 508 KVs are spread throughout the First Strategic Echelon; but back on May 31st, the Second Echelon already had 128. By today, factories have unloaded another 41 ready to fight but not yet assigned to any group; and the factories have another 34 today ready to fight but not yet shipped. (per "Military and Numeric" ibid, p.241.)

Thus today the Soviet Union has 711 KV tanks ready to fight, although not all are in position yet by any means; while the Nazis have zero heavy tanks beyond preliminary sketches. It is pointless to even compare the KV models with the PzIII and PzIV, radically under-gunned (for the most part, and even where up-gunned not for fighting heavy tank armor at any range), underweight, under-armored, and under-powered; but the latter must try to fight and beat the former -- especially while the former are out of position for defense in various ways. Beating the KV-2 is sort of easy, fortunately, since it isn't designed to fight tanks at all; but unfortunately the Nazi tanks have to get through the crazy amounts of KV-2 armor.

On the other end of the Soviet tank spectrum, Soviet commanders understood the special value of the light "BT" models, as for example in "War and Revolution" [Voyna I Revolutsia], September-October edition, 1934 (page uncited), "High speed tanks [by] their nature are a weapon of sudden attack. Their full effect (and success in general) can be obtained only if their use is hidden." In other words, if we suddenly attack our enemies with BTs we will have success, but if surprise is not on our side then we will not. The thousands and thousands of BT tanks produced since 1932, vast majorities still operational a day before Barbarossa, are designed and intended only for aggressive warfare, only in the enemy's rear (which they are designed to reach as quickly as possible), and only in a decisive lunge of hordes of such tanks breaking suddenly through into enemy territory, bypassing points of opposition, thrusting deep behind enemy lines, where there are no (or few) enemy troops but all the cities, bridges, factories, airports, ports, storage facilities, command posts, and communication units.

This will be impossible to achieve, starting tomorrow.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 19, 2020, 11:44:35 AM
The Tape of the Twelfth

12th Army is typical for a standard invasion (strike, covering) army: one mechanized corps, two rifle corps, twelve divisions in all, including two reserve tank divisions and one reserve motorized infantry. It was formed at the time of the Ribbentrop Pact was signed, back in late August 1939, and had been deployed in the Ukraine -- filled, notably, with a strong majority of Ukrainian troops and commanders. Why? Partly because they were just nearby of course; and partly because at that time ethnic hostilities between Poles and Ukrainians were high, and Stalin and his high commanders were making handy use of that.

A few weeks later in mid-September, the 12st Army saw its first action, helping to invade (i.e. "liberate") Poland. Back then it featured one tank corps, two separate tank brigades, two cavalry corps, and three rifle divisions: very punchy by 1939 standards! It did not have (proportionately) much infantry or artillery, because with Poland distracted for a couple of weeks already by Hitler's invasion, it did not need to smash through powerful entrenched defenses. According to SME, Vol 8, p.181, "12th Army... was essentially a front-line mobile group." After the "liberation crusade" in Poland ended, 12th was not disbanded; its personnel drew down instead, with the organizational 'container' remaining on the new border, waiting and training.

But it didn't draw down much -- only enough to quietly start replacing its Ukrainian super-majority with a super-majority from Caucasus regions, up to and including Armenian Colonel Bagramayan, an old friend hand picked by Zhukov to be in charge of the operations division (i.e. training and planning on how best to use this Army), and Army Chief of Staff Bagrat Arushunyan (who by the way, later in a 1973 JMH article, #6, p.61, will acknowledge that the Soviet high command was well aware that there were too few troops ahead of this army in 1941 to invade the Soviet Union.) Dozens and even hundreds of other Caucasian officers were brought into the 12th Army. But why change over to a Caucasian super-majority? Why not stay with local Ukrainian troops and officers?

Colonel Bagramayan is later promoted, despite the disasters of Barbarossa (against his war-planning for this Army), all the way to Marshal of the Soviet Union! Later, for a 1967 article of the JMH, #1, p.54, he will explain Zhukov's (and thus also Stalin's) rationale, by reference to Zhukov's personal order: train constantly in the Carpathian mountain passes. "In the fall [of 1940, while Hitler is busy elsewhere invading western nations], and over all the more or less navigable routes, send across mountain passes specially outfitted task forces made up of a variety of combat craft and means of transport, to let all involved see for themselves the practical possibility of surmounting them with their tanks, motor vehicles, tractors, tracked transporters, and pack animals." Not much earlier, the Nazi generals had run very similar exercises to train and demonstrate to its troops that panzer formations could get through the Ardennes into France.

Stalin and Zhukov have thus been training the 12th Army, for more than a year, up to the day before Barbarossa, to be, in effect, a Mountain Panzer Group.

Could Zhukov be preparing this army for defending against invasion from the mountains?

The 12th Army is set up in typical Soviet strike-army configuration, for offense not defense; as will be proven tomorrow when the 12th Army is in no position at all to defend against invasion -- partly because there isn't much here to defend against (as Soviet High Command is well aware, per Lieutenant-General Arushunian's later article in JHM, 1973, #6, p.61); and partly because the position is flanked directly by enemies who would be attacking from plains (and so the 12th will be caught out of position and outflanked). It's also a typically tank-heavy strike army configuration, and tanks aren't usually intended to defend in mountainous terrain. On the other hand, most Soviet tanks are the fast, light variety, which might arguably fare better defending in mountains than other tanks; and the heavy KV-1 units might theoretically defend as mobile gun emplacements in the valleys. (The KV-2s in this army are mobile siege engine guns which cannot operate effectively on even a slight incline, so their presence in a defending mountain army makes less than no sense, aside from their invulnerable armor.)

But Zhukov is admittedly a military genius. Perhaps he has invented a new method for using tanks defensively in mountains, against invaders who would be hitting his flanks from plains in two directions? Fortunately, in his memoir article, then-Colonel Bagramayan, put in charge of operational planning for this army by his friend and mentor Zhukov, can decisively report, "While I was studying the operational plans, I was struck by the following fact: our frontier army had neither a deployment nor a border-protection plan." He means that there are no plans at all in the safe at 12th Army's operational HQ, for defending the border surrounding them in three directions! The operational maps provided in the safe reflect making war on Nazi territory, not defending against a Nazi invasion.

Moreover (as Bagramayan relates), Zhukov visits 12th Army regularly to inspect maneuvers -- which are only offensive missions, such as the first phase of a practice operation being to fight across the border river San. Wargames use up-to-date top-secret intelligence data about actual enemies to be expected -- on Nazi territory!

Bagramayan reports arguments between Zhukov and 12th Army Commander Parusinov, who insists: "We have to make every effort to inflict maximum damage on the enemy already with our very first strike." Zhukov agrees, these are good intentions; their dispute is that Zhukov insists on concentrating the attack in one narrow sector, while Parusinov wants to attack on a broad front. Why? Because the 12th has increasingly powerful Nazi armies gathering on its flanks, and Parusinov wants to surprise attack them before they can start hitting back. Too bad! -- Parusinov is soon removed and replaced by Zhukov's old friend General Ponedelin, who will train to attack across the river in a concentrated sector as Zhukov wants, ignoring 12th Army's exposed flanks. Zhukov knows he has covering armies behind him left and right of 12th Army's position: they will provide cover for 12th Army, in this plan, by attacking the enemy on the 12th's flanks.

Bagramayan in the middle of this, is given personal responsibility for ensuring that the attacking army can and will master maneuver and attack in the mountain passes. He also gets a good look, while at the border scouting for attack routes, at "an obvious display of defense-oriented work": reinforced-concrete fortifications being built on the very banks of the border river where the enemy can easily see and account for them. (Not back in the passes which must be protected against an invasion passing through, where the enemy will not be able to detect their construction.) These of course will support the initial planned river crossing -- unless Hitler attacks by surprise tomorrow from somewhere else and totally outflanks the now-useless fortifications.

Hitler has no need at all to attack across the mountains; this would be worse than useless for him. But across the mountains from the Soviet 12th Army is Hitler's main allied oil supply; very useful for Stalin and Zhukov!

Scientific experiments have been run for each combat and transport vehicle to meticulously understand their timing and operation in the conditions around and in the Carpathian mountains and passes. Drills have been run on these tests for every service branch in the 12th Army; standards have been established, tested, refined: stopwatch in hand, Bagramayan has been ensuring that the attack plans of Zhukov, Ponedelin, and the now-relieved Parusinov (for that matter), shall be grounded in absolute real-world experience. Planning proceeds as for the world's largest dashing bank heist -- all this hard, scientific excellence, totally a waste of time on defense, as will be demonstrated tomorrow morning.

If this is a Mountain Army (and one with the strength of a Nazi Panzer Group!), this raises the question: do the Soviets even have designated Mountain divisions? Yes they do! -- 192nd Mountain Ranger Division for example, has been secretly redeployed from its home base in Turkestan, where it has just been assembled, to join the 12th Army up on the line. Major-General Abramidze's 72nd Mountain Division, as another example, trains with the 12th Army, before being handed over to the command of the neighboring 26th Army. Colonel Novik's 28th Mountain Division joins other official mountain divisions as part of Lieutenant-General Konyev's 19th Army; having been secretly deployed now behind the 12th and 26th Armies.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 19, 2020, 01:12:59 PM
On the other side of the 12th Army is the 9th Army, which is not a mountain army with mountain corps and mountain divisions; but more about the 9th soon. On June 13th, the 18th Army started deploying tucked between 12th and 9th. Documents (per Suvorov) indicate the 18th was intended to be a twin of the 12th in organization and material, suggesting it was also intended to be converted into a mountain army. But its deployment, refit, and any retraining, will be interrupted by Barbarossa tomorrow morning on June 22nd.

Last, but not least important: on April 26th, orders were sent out formally assigning four mountain divisions to the 12th Army; and on June 1st, those orders were fulfilled by formally designating four of 12th's divisions, who had been training in the area since 1940, as Mountain Ranger Divisions. The 12th Army's 44th, 58th, 60th, and 96th infantry divisions have earned the right to be properly designated as Mountain Divisions. (per "The Year 1941", Vol.2, pp.104-6). Officially, this is the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Council of People's Commissars Decree, "Regarding creation of new units of the Red Army #1112-459cc", of April 23, 1941, paragraph 2-b, "Convert 10 Rifle Divisions into Mountain Rifle Divisions."

12th Army, today on June 21st, 1941, thus has a corps of two mountain ranger divisions, and a corps with three of four of the divisions being formally designated as mountain rangers; but the corps have not yet been formally assigned as mountain corps, nor the army as a mountain army. On paper there stand only numbers.

Suvorov claims that each of the nearly-thirty Soviet armies being instituted and prepared by the summer of 1941, has a unique composition and purpose; the 12th is one sample.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 19, 2020, 01:19:50 PM
We've been talking about the entire Armies parked next to the border; but there are also numbers of independent mechanized corps just to the rear of the sixteen invasion/strike/covering armies, on June 21st, 1941 (though some of those strike armies, like the 16th, are still arriving, and are strung out for hundreds or thousands of miles on the rail network.)

Just as, previously, any such corps could quickly transform a normal paper-thin Soviet army (essentially only a corps' worth of a few divisions) into a potent strike army; now any one of these corps stands ready to transform any of the current covering (strike/invasion) armies into a super-strike army -- without changing the army's name or number, as before.

But of course, there is nothing other than logistic and command difficulty preventing any of these reserve mechanized corps from joining one of the three armies already amped up to super-strike levels!

Each Soviet covering (i.e. strike) army soon will, or already does, equal a Panzer Group (at least in intention of force composition); and each of the three super-strike Armies already outnumbers half the Wehrmacht in tanks and related armor. But thanks to these independent mechanized corps, any super-strike army -- whether already extant or converted by one of these corps -- could quickly beef up again into a force comparable, by itself, to the entire Wehrmacht.  :o
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 19, 2020, 01:40:49 PM
Nailing Together the 9th

To give a specific example of this up-conversion process, Suvorov provides a lot of information about the Soviet 9th Army.

The 9th Army had not been the lead strike (or covering) Army back during the Winter War invasion into Finland. It had been, in effect, a pompously named rifle corps, with no more than three rifle divisions. The 7th Army would strike and cover for its advance.

After the Winter War the 9th Army melted away from sight, but was not disbanded. On June 13, 1941, it had reappeared, like the skeleton of a skyscraper, not at full strength yet but already the most powerful single army in the world at six corps.

By June 21st, all by itself it accounts for seventeen divisions: two airmobile, four tank, two motorized, two cavalry (being converted to mechanized scout/strike), one mountain rifle, and six regular rifle. (Suvorov is unclear if this includes the 9th Special Rifle Corps being escorted to 9th Army by the Front Commander Cherevichenko, but probably not: he and they won't arrive in time for Hitler to invade tomorrow.)

9th Army already has two mechanized corps; and combined with the tanks of the various rifle, motorized and cavalry divisions, the 9th Army already has 1114 tanks (per Meltiukhov's "Stalin's Missed Opportunity", p.535). But Major-General Petrov's 27th Mechanized Corps, created in the Turkestan Military District, is secretly on the way to join it (despite not being fully assembled), bringing another 356 tanks to the 9th Army and raising the divisions to twenty (including six armored). At full strength the seven corps would have 3341 tanks: a little more than the entire Nazi force lined up to invade Russia tomorrow. Major-General (later Colonel-General) Byelov, Commander of 2nd Cav Corps, 9th Army, says in a JMH interview, 1959 (#11, p.66), that even the cav units were to get T-34 tanks. Independent mechanized corps nearby could be assigned to bring up the 9th Army even farther.

Against the 9th Army (not even counting any other nearby armies) stands exactly no armored divisions.

Nations (including the Soviet Union) correctly labeled German Panzer Groups "machinery of aggression" with a mere 600 to 100 tanks each (which seems like a typo for 1000). Stalin's Soviet Union, the day before Barbarossa, is gearing up multiple armies on the German border, with two to three thousand tanks each.

Back in March, Major-General Malinovsky had appeared at Odessa Military District HQ, giving orders to the corps of the former 9th Army. On June 13, 1941, he was promoted to Colonel-General. 9th is the only Soviet Army (out of 28) led by one of the 8 current Colonel-Generals, in charge of a force equivalent in armor to the entire German East Front. Three future Marshals of the Soviet Union (Malinovsky, Zakharov, and Krylov), plus a future Air Force Marshal (Pstygo), hold command ranks, as well as some famous future army generals under them (Petrov, Pavlovsky, Lashchenko). Odessa MD Commander Cherevichenko, secretly already regarded as the Southwestern Front Commander, is slated, however, to come take over 9th Army, while bringing with him the 9th Special Corps, trained in amphibious assault, which he has gone into the Crimea to take charge of. He and the Corps will be caught on the trains when Hitler invades tomorrow (per Zakharov later in "Historical Issues", 1970, #5, p.46.)

Stalin and his immediate subcommanders (e.g. Zhukov) have nailed together the 9th Army as the single most powerful armed force in the world; and Stalin has provided it with the single best set of commanders in the world -- men of proven talent and distinction who would go on to be even greater leaders in the grim and triumphant future.

But it must be recalled, that this unique ultra-force has not been deployed and is not filling out on the German border.

Instead, the 9th Army is deploying and preparing for action on the Romanian border (where of course 9th Special Rifle Corps would be of use in its training to assault-deploy from the Black Sea Fleet). Its forces have been here for more than a year already, acting as the invading/strike/covering army for the Bessarabia and Bukhovina invasion. In fact, although it had vanished from sight, the organizational structure had remained in place since June 1940! -- orders simply went from military district headquarters straight to the 9th Army's corps: HQ Odessa Military District (created in October 1939), and 9th Army HQ, had merged for a while. On June 13th, 1941, the HQs partitioned out again, Malinovsky was promoted to become the 8th Soviet Colonel-General, and suddenly 9th Army existed again! But it hadn't really gone anywhere.

Throughout Soviet history so far, whenever an invasion army (later "strike", later "covering") appears on a country's border, that country gets to enjoy the honor of a glorious military "liberation crusade" no more than one month later.  <:-) :hide:

Now the 9th Army, re-emerging as a constituent organization on the Romanian border in mid-June 1941, is no longer a strike army; it is the largest of the three super-strike armies, and plans are in motion to hulk it out beyond even that level.

It is not gearing up for defense; that is not what invasion (i.e. strike, i.e. covering) armies are for, and in Soviet military doctrine Military District Commanders do not move their flag HQs to armies positioned on a border unless they're planning to invade. Eventual Marshal of the Soviet Union Konyev (in JMH, 1968, #7, p.42), will eventually say that the day before today, on June 20th, the 9th Army HQ was given combat alert readiness, while the Odessa MD HQ staff slipped out of the city to go join it (not counting Cherevichenko, secretly on the way back from the Crimea with 9th Special Corps to take command of Southern Front from within 9th Army).

Zhukov has even assigned it the most decorated mountain infantry division in the Red Army, the 30th "Irkutsk" Mountain Rangers, commanded by Major-General Galaktionov, part of General Malinovsky's 48th Rifle Corps. 9th Army has no mountains nearby, and none ahead -- except in Romania. If 9th Army invades westward, it will find mountains on its rightward flank, where the 48th Rifle Corps is deployed, with the 30th MD on its own right flank.

Its opponents in this area are a thin set of Romanian forces.

But striking at Romania means striking at Germany's heart of fuel. The Soviets would not even need to seize the oilfields intact -- they have plenty already (enough to sell to Germany during World War 2 so far!) Punch out the fuel, and Nazi Germany dies, the end, period. 9th Army would only have to cross 112 miles, across plains and on good roads -- 9th Army would only have to throw its strike aircraft 112 miles downrange and drop rockets and bombs on the airfields (having achieved blue-sky air supremacy)! -- and that would be the end.

The Danube Flotilla nearby, which in itself served as the signal trigger for Hitler and his generals to start planning Barbarossa, would not even need to motor upriver and shell the fields and pipelines. But it's still there, too, training intensively for river-crossing operations with rifle-divisions acting as marines.

After Germany invades by surprise tomorrow (citing Soviet buildup of massive troops on the Romanian border, aimed at the oilfields), the 9th Army will still tend "to see every defensive assignment as temporary", as reported by Byelov in his JMH 1959 article.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 19, 2020, 01:44:05 PM
First Lieutenant Pokryshkin, currently a deputy to the commander of a 9th Army fighter squadron, eventually three-time Hero of the Soviet Union and Air Force Marshal, had been hanging around the store of a "half-butchered bourgeois" back in the spring of 1941 -- a store "liberated" by the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army of course -- trying to have something like a friendly conversation with him.

Marshal Pokryshkin, in his memoir "War in the Skies", p.10, remembers the store owner sighing, "O Bucharest! If only you could see what a city it is!"

"Someday, I will!" -- but the Lieutenant realizes he has said too much; it was time to change the subject.

Why? Suvorov implies that the Marshal doesn't explain the problem with this apparently innocent lapse. But Soviet Lieutenants are not allowed to go on vacation into other nations not already part of the Soviet Republics. Yet Pokryshkin already feels confident that he will see Bucharest -- where many of those oil-fields are -- and so he mustn't talk about it, and give away any particular plan for the Soviet takeover of Romania at large.

After WW2 is done, Comrade Pokryshkin shall indeed spend some time in "liberated" Bucharest. He will just need a few more years to get there.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 02:14:07 PM
The Longest Day

Hitler has moved his offensive forces directly up to his side of the border, preparing to strike. No Nazi security corridor remains; all defensive mines have been removed, all defensive obstructions leveled which would hinder any travel to and from the border. All barbed wire has been taken down on the Nazi side.

From "History of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union 1941-45", Vol 2, p 49: "[Soviet]armies... had to deploy right along the international borders, never mind how hard the configuration of that frontier made it to defend. Our prewar regulations notwithstanding, not even a security corridor was set up."
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 02:18:44 PM
Divisions and corps in the Siberian Military District have been secretly transformed into the 24th Army, and are preparing for deployment across all Russia to the Nazi border -- the last of the Second Strategic Echelon to embark. Before boarding the trains, 24th Army runs the troops through one last maneuver on June 21st, 1941: the airborne landing of one of their rifle divisions in the rear of a hypothetical enemy.

Back at some time before the Siberian MD had become the 24th Army (i.e. before June 13), during a similar training maneuver, General Kalinin had listened to a junior officer discussing things with other officers: "Fortifications, now, we probably also won't need. We're not getting ready to defend, after all, but to attack -- and we'll hit the enemy on his own turf!"

Kalinin remembers this in his memoir, "Past Battles Remembered", p.124, with a wry irony; because the 24th Army will be thrown piecemeal off its trains into the defense against the Nazi blitzkrieg (helping to fatally stall the central front blitz, near Smolensk).

But Kalinin does not report correcting the young man on what he overheard; nor report going to his subordinate commanders and warning them that the junior officers imagine wrongly that they shall only be attacking; and he does not change the drill schedule. On the day before Barbarossa, their final drill before loading onto the train wagons, remains an airborne assault to hit the enemy on his own turf -- which, as his junior officer observed a few weeks ago, they certainly don't need fortifications for.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 02:30:53 PM
Starinov, once again from "Mines Awaiting Their Moment", p.190, recalls seeing a border station on the morning of June 21, 1941, while serving as the head of the Red Army Engineering Command division, responsible for barriers and mining: "The sun lit up mountains of coal along the railways, piles of brand-new track. The tracks [in the piles] were glistening. All was oozing tranquility."

These tracks are glistening because they had not yet started rusting, although this quickly happens. He is recalling piles of absolutely brand-new track waiting at the end of the Soviet railway lines, at the border, where they would be absolutely the most useless for repairing Soviet railways, and where there is nowhere for the tracks to extend except into Nazi territory. "Mountains of coal" are also waiting, a little less useless here since trains are of course returning back into the homeland after dropping off troops and their equipment.

Within a few hours, all these resources will be captured by the Nazis.

Keeping the coal at the border is practically suicidal on defense: it would fuel any attacking enemy's rail transport! The railway battalions are not taking it away on June 21; and naturally will fail to do much of that starting tomorrow, since they won't have time, and preparations have not been made to take the materials to safety -- from an area they absolutely should not have been, if the Red Army is preparing for defense against an historically aggressive foe.

Portable bridges have also been stocked at the ends of the logistic lines: almost pointless in defense, and in totally the wrong place to be used in defense.

Meretskov, Zhukov, and Beria (master of the NKVD and their work groups on the border), have made it possible for the German Army to pick up ludicrous supplies on a logistic grid leading straight into Russian backfields, even to the gates of Moscow. True, those paths are along relatively narrow corridors for travel, but those corridors are capable of ferrying armies toward and from the border -- vastly much larger forces than the Nazis will be bringing.

Meretskov, Zhukov, and Beria have done this while not preparing all roads and tracks and bridges to be destroyed, mined, and/or swamped; instead, they have removed all such possible risks previously installed by Soviet defense experts!

As their reward, they will not be shot, but will be given even more authority: they were acting according to Stalin's plan, and he will not punish them even as scapegoats.

According to the old-guard Soviet butcher of blood, Marshal Tukhachevsky, long ago before execution, as reported in his Selected Works, Vol 1, pp 62-63, "In preparing for [invasion] operations, steps absolutely must be taken to ready wood bridges and concentrate railway patch-up crews along indispensable lines. [...] While converting narrow-gauge [Soviet] track to [Central and Western European] wide..." The logistic preparations at the end of the line match the standard Soviet invasion doctrines set up by Tukhachevsky in the early years of the Leninist regime, and polished by Triandafillov, successfully used in prior invasions by the Soviet Union under Stalin. All the railway troops have been collected nearby; along with virtually all Soviet engineering forces.

Not only are the sapper units of local divisions, corps, and armies collected together and pressed up at the border, but also the units of such groups which have not yet arrived at the border but which have just started moving toward the border to join their sapper units who are already there!

These sapper units have been trained at "Preparing launch positions for offense, trail-blazing, putting up and overcoming barriers, operational and tactical camouflaging, organizing how to work in concert with assault-force infantry and tanks, [and] supporting forces fighting their way across rivers." ("Soviet Armed Forces", p. 255.) The quote mostly references offensive preparations and activities during an offensive. The "putting up barriers" could be defensive, but the context with "overcoming" means they're putting up test barriers for helping others train to overcome defensive barriers. Such training belts had also been constructed almost two years ago before invading Finland.

Military Intelligence Colonel Starinov, remember, is no mere apparatchik, nor even only a military engineer! He will soon afterward be promoted to the deputy in charge of all Soviet commandos, and will successfully plan and lead no less than two army-sized partisan operations behind enemy lines, each requiring the simultaneous action of more than one hundred thousand special operations soldiers. He has come to Brest the night before the Germans invade, with special orders in his pocket written by his sole commander, People's Commissar for Defense Marshal Timoshenko. Starinov has been in charge of preparing numerous bridges for destruction in his assigned Fortified Sector in recent years; and then in charge of removing those demolition charges. All he needs is a few hours and the key strategic bridges at Brest, previously stripped of their defensive explosives, can once again be rigged to blow sky high at the push of a single button! -- but that is not why he is at Brest on June 22nd, the very morning of the German invasion, before dawn.

Officially he has been sent here on maneuver, but now (presumably Suvorov finds this in Starinov's memoirs but doesn't cite sources) he finds the maneuver has been canceled -- or was only a pretext to begin with. He never finds out what his written orders are: the Germans invade at or before dawn.

As has become fashionable for Soviet officers since February 1941, Starinov's aide, remaining throughout the war, is a faithful, reliable, adroit, ethnic German driver, named Schläger ('dueling sabre').
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 02:38:45 PM
Lieutenant-General Professor Karbyshev of the Corps of Engineers has been attending offensive combat exercises at the western border for about a month, teaching infantry and tanks how to beat various enemy defenses, after telling his friends back in Moscow that the war has already started in early June and promising to arrange their transportation up to where he will be, so that they can celebrate a victory party together.

On the morning of the 21st, he departs for 10th Army HQ; but before he leaves (according to Peshin's biography "General Karbyshev", p. 204), he visits a border post by the Augustovo-Seino highway, accompanied by 3rd Army Commander Kuznyetsov and the Grodno Fortified Sector Commandant Ivanov. "That morning," Karbyshev tells his biographer, meaning the 21st, "our barbed-wire barriers were still up, but by the time [the group] drove by there once more [later on the 21st], those barriers had already been taken down."

The border belt is still swarming with gulag inmates doing infrastructure work under NKVD command, as well as any number of soldiers and officers who would love to make a run for anywhere but Soviet Russia. The secret police put barbed wire around the border partly to discourage spies, but also partly to discourage escapes and defections: they've been doing this since at least 1919!

Yet the 3rd Army Commander and the Commandant of Fortified Sector activities, are not freaking out about barbed wire being removed from between them and the Nazi hordes they know are on the other side, much less about the possibility of gulag prisoners making a run for the border.

Remember, Karbyshev thinks that to some real degree the war against Germany has been underway since early June, yet today he has no complaints about the final meager defensive protection being removed.

The only way the NKVD would have done this without a lieutenant being shot for treason (perhaps even by his own subordinates), would be by orders from NKVD Byelorussia Border Troops Chief Lieutenant General Bogdanov -- who evacuated servicemen's families from the area back three days earlier on the 18th. So one way or another Bogdanov thinks there's about to be serious fighting. The kind of serious fighting that requires taking down the last barbed wire border between him and Germany; the kind of serious fighting where he is surprised by the Nazis blitzkrieging across his border.

Germany started removing the barbed wire on their side of the border three weeks earlier, preparing to invade. The Soviet Union took down the barbed wire immediately preceding their invasions of Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Bessarabia, and Bulkovina, since September 1939. Now on June 21st, 1941, the Soviets are taking down their final barbed wire on their own side of the border.

There on tour before dawn on the 21st, seeing with evident approval that the barbed wire has been taken down, is Grodno Fortified Sector Commandant Ivanov. Remember the purpose of such Fortified Sectors according to Soviet military doctrine, as described in the memoirs of Soviet Major-General Grigoryenko (at that time a Colonel): "Only the naive see defense as the prime mission for Fortified Sectors. No, we build Fortified Sectors the better to prepare for offense!"

Ivanov's Fortified Sector at Grodno does have some defensive value, of course, but that isn't its prime purpose: only the naive would think so. If the Soviets can fool their targets into thinking the Fortified Sectors are primarily for defense, then great! On the morning of June 21st, the final meager physical defenses of Grodno's Fortified Sector are being removed, even down to the barbed wire on the border. Only the primary function of the Fortified Sector, according to Soviet military doctrine of the time, remains.

As Grigoryenko will later write about this day before Barbarossa (quoted but unsourced by Suvorov, perhaps from his memoir "Nothing but Rats Underground"), "We were perfectly primed for a war based on offense. Surely we are not to blame the side to launch it was not ours."
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 02:42:18 PM
Back at Moscow, General Tulenyev, commander of the now-depleted and reassigned Moscow Military District, stands in front of the Politburo.

His troops were ordered back a month ago, to either join First Strategic Echelon armies, at or near the border, or else to join Second Strategic Echelon's 20th Army, on the way to the border. Unlike other Military District Commanders, he and his staff weren't ordered to form and take command of a new Army; they have been left behind.

Now on June 21st, the day before Barbarossa, the Politburo promotes him to Commander of the Southern Front. He brings along all his officers from general rank downward, keeping their ranks and duties but now in charge of multiple Armies in multiple Fortified Sectors. Zhukov insisted back in February that he be given this command; and now that Cherevichenko has moved his MD headquarters to the 9th Army (with his Chief of Staff Zakharov currently in command of the converted Southern Front HQ while Cherevichenko is busy escorting the 9th Special Rifle Corps forward to the 9th Army), Tulenyev can go take command.

Why so many chefs stirring this particular pot?? Because under Tulenyev's new command will be, for example, the super-strike 9th Army; the mountain-warfare 18th Army; the amphibious invasion 9th Special Rifle Corps; the 3rd Air Assault Corps; plus all their surrounding Armies (and the Danube riverine assault Flotilla), plus of course all their land-based air power.

Fortunately, this is a formality: many of his HQ sections have already arrived at the frontier.

Unfortunately, no replacement officers have been planned, yet, for the Moscow MD.

Fortunately, fronts of course, in Soviet military doctrine, are activated and assigned once combat operations begin, particularly offensive operations, and the Moscow MD won't need a commander for that.

Unfortunately, when offensive combat operations start shooting tomorrow, it won't be the Soviets invading Nazi territories, and the Soviets won't be prepared to defend against them at all.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 02:44:35 PM
Major-General Zhadov, having commanded a mountain cavalry division in Central Asia, is on his way west "on the very eve of war... [having been] named commander of 4th Airborne Assault Corps..." [JMH, 1971, #3, p.124) He will arrive "at the front with the battle already raging".

Is he on the way to the front the day before Barbarossa to defend against Nazi invasion? -- no, they don't expect Nazi invasion yet.

Do you create an Airborne Assault Corps to protect against invasion? No, and this one will be disbanded and reconfigured for defense (what survives of it).

Perhaps he is on the way to counterattack? Not on June 21st, there is nothing to counterattack!

Do you counterattack with an Airborne Assault Corps anyone? No, unless you somehow have air supremacy perhaps. The Soviets will definitely not have air supremacy starting tomorrow after the Nazis invade, and not for a long, long while afterward either. Which is another reason why Zhadov's Corps will be disbanded.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 02:49:14 PM
According to the Brest Fortress Defense Museum, as well as the "Great Patriotic War Encyclopedia", 1985, p.138), NKVD 132nd Security Escort Battalion, in Poland, occupies the Tiraspol stronghold in the Brest Fortress, with 17th Border Detachment in the same barracks, making no preparations to defend in the event of war.

Their job, as with all "security escorts", is to bring captured enemies (military and otherwise) out of the area into Soviet territory.

The Escort Battalion is parked on the western bank of the western arm of the Bug river, in a border fortress island accessible from the east only by ferry. It would be very difficult in peacetime to get back to Soviet territory; but to get to German held territory, where the battalion must go to capture enemy targets to escort into captivity, requires only crossing a bit of a bridge.

(Starinov, remember, is in Brest tonight with secret orders in his pocket which will never be done.)

NKVD 4th Division, equivalent in training and equipment quality (by Soviet standards) to an SS Division, is pulling guard duty on Prut River border bridges according to some sources. The JMH, 1973, #10, p. 46 (and according to Suvorov "many other" sources), relate that NKVD 4th Div is straddling both ends of the bridge, not to defend it and blow it up in case of war -- which couldn't be done because the Soviets had de-mined the bridge -- but to act as a Security Escort formation, to bring Division-sized groups of captives back into Soviet rear areas under guard, where they will be used as slave labor and interrogated (or liquidated as necessary). Leading the NKVD 4th is Division Commander Colonel Mazhirin, who has served in convoys for gulags his entire career.

Being on both sides of the bridge won't be altogether fun by early tomorrow morning; but at least they aren’t on that narrow strip of land vacated by the border guards to make room for the 96th Mountain Rifle Division and the 164th Rifle!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 02:51:15 PM
At the airbases tonight, tens of thousands of parachutes have been folded for action in the loading areas (starting back on that busy day of June 13th, when the largest logistic transfer in human history started).

Philip and St. Croix, writing their "Airborne Operations" later in 1978, p.30, will note, "In June 1941, when Germany invaded Russia, the latter had more than one million trained parachutists. It seems extraordinary that the investment this represented was not used constructively during the war."

Stalin will constructively use that investment indeed! -- just not for air assault. More on this later, after the shooting starts tomorrow...
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 02:53:49 PM
As midnight rolls over to June 22nd, where is NKVD (later KGB Colonel) officer Vauphsassov, veteran of forest murder squads in Poland during the original 1920 invasion and its 1939 sequel, leader of political terrorism in the Spanish Politburo, trainer of Soviet partisan defenders, who explains their dissolution and reassignment after the (second) invasion of Poland as being due to offensive doctrine? Where is this commander of pacification teams to kill political undesirables in nations invaded by the Soviets since Poland 1939?

He is not at the western border, in case you are wondering.

He is over the border, in Nazi territory, with a diplomatic passport!

Is he there to organize a possible defense (somehow) in case of Nazi invasion?

Not even slightly: when the Nazis invade at dawn, he is summoned (with difficulty) back to Byelorussia to help recreate the disbanded defensive partisan brigades, as he had helped create them before (this time under vastly more difficult circumstances).

So why is a gulag commander and long-term political terrorist across the border in enemy territory? -- a terrorist operative who thinks Soviet defensive partisans aren't needed thanks to a "prevalent doctrine to fight a war on enemy territory"?
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 02:57:43 PM
Also that night, Panzer General Guderian, flanked by officers from his headquarters, is reconnoitering near Brest one last time (not far from where Starinov is secretly moving.)

He used to come here in disguise, even up to the water's edge.

Now he and his crew don't even bother: they are decked out in full proud regalia! -- for he knows how much epic butt-kicking he is about to inflict upon all Soviet Russia!

All the generals of the Nazi government on the border are peering through their binoculars one last time. As Barbarossa approaches, the scouts have been higher and higher ranked, as Soviet generals and marshals register more and more recon teams (such as per Chief Air Force Marshal Novikov, "In the Skies of Leningrad", p.41). True, the Nazi scouts were using camouflage, including the Nazi generals using border guard or rank-and-file uniforms (up until tonight); but the experienced eye can usually tell the difference, and Soviet border guards are very experienced by now at reporting who is over there intently studying the Soviet side. They have known this, and marked the increase, since April.

Behold, however, the field in which Guderian grows the damns that he might give! -- now it lies barren and empty!  \m/

Let the Soviet border guards tonight see, and be assured, exactly who is coming for them now, to claim their lives.

Mua ha ha ha haaaaaa.  >:D
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 03:53:05 PM
I'm likely to be out of pocket a lot tomorrow for Father's Day, so I'll finish up June 21st entries today.  O:-)

The Politburo session ends early after midnight on June 22nd, 1941.

Zhdanov, once the Politburo's representative for the Winter War invading Finland, gets ready to arrive in Leningrad, planning to meet up with Meretskov there on June 23rd.

Khrushchev (Stalin's eventual successor), who handled the liberation crusade invasions of districts of Poland and (under Zhukov) Romania, races down to Kiev (maybe then to Tiraspol).

According to General Yepishev, "Party and Army", p.176, Andreyev, the Politburo point man for military transports, rushes back up to the Trans-Siberian trunk line to see if he can help in expediting the Second Strategic Echelon -- he'll be spotted in Novosibirsk tomorrow (as recalled by Lieutenant-General Kalinin, "Pondering Bygone Days", p.131.)

None of any of this high competency, today or in previous weeks or months or years, should be too surprising. Nazi Major-General F.W. von Mellentin will later commend them (in his memoir, "Tank Battles, 1939-1941", 1998, p.244), "The Russian high command knows its job better than the command of any other army." (Notice that this comes from a memoir covering events through 1941!)

Even with the massive influx of new officers, as the Red Army has inflated to 5.5 million troops by today, G. Gerasimov will later statistically compare them with the officer corps of 1936, before the Purge kicked into high gear (in the article "The Effective Impact of the 1937-1938 Purges on the Commanding Personnel of the RKKA [i.e. in English the WPRA, the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army]," for the "Russian Historical Journal", #1, 1999): higher education rates have gone up from 6.6 to 7.1 percent among all commanders, and from 29 to 52 percent among all generals specifically. Also from 1934-38 only 23 percent of all commanders had combat experience, whereas on the day before Barbarossa that is 29.5 percent.

Tomorrow, that combat experience percentage will start increasing drastically, of course! But still, with three times the number of officers on this day than five years previously, that's an impressive comparative increase.

Four years later, Nazi propaganda master Goebbels will acknowledge in his diary, March 15, 1945, "Stalin has all the reasons to honor the Soviet marshals like movie stars; they showed remarkable military talents."

No doubt they will acquire a lot more experience over the next four years than they currently have today; but idiots do not learn much from experience. Any idiots in Stalin's service on this day, will not turn into outstanding troop leaders tomorrow or four years from now. Rokossovsky, Malinovsky, Govorov, Meretskov, Vassilevsky, will suffer many defeats starting tomorrow, but they are not idiots tonight. The reasons for their defeat must be found elsewhere -- against Soviet propaganda, both under Stalin (soon and afterward), and after Stalin.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 03:59:25 PM
Final Considerations Before the Day of Truth

Suppose the Day of Truth comes and goes tomorrow -- and nothing happens?

Hitler has been delaying it already, in order to make final adjustments; and he might delay it by another couple of weeks or months, to capture Gibraltar or something like that. He only expects a three week campaign, to do what he's trying to do, so he could afford to delay a little longer.

But even on the assumption that his three-week plan will be successful, Hitler cannot delay more than until the start of September, or even on a three week campaign his troops might be caught out of campaign weather, and out of winter quarters, out of defensive arrangement. He will have ruined his economy for nothing. Nazi Germany would collapse without Stalin firing a shot -- although the ideology of Stalin's Marxist-Leninism anticipates firing many shots, in any case, to liberate Germany as a Soviet Republic!

Suppose however that Hitler suddenly realizes or decides that the Second Strategic Echelon exists and is on the way, so that he has no possibility of instigating a revolutionary coup against Stalin by destroying his out-of-position army in only three weeks (just in time for harvest in Nazi as well as Soviet areas). No doubt, in that case, Hitler would pull his troops back somewhat and would now start very-belated defensive preparations on his border. Under such circumstances, he might even face a coup of his own, as German generals try to remove the Nazi government and sue for peace, in cooperative defense against Soviet aggression (whether actual or potential).
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 04:09:12 PM
But what choices would Stalin have?

Unlike Hitler (or Hitler's generals if they staged a coup), Stalin cannot pull his armies back. Many Soviet divisions created since February 1941 don't even have bases to return to! -- and many divisions only have gulags to return to -- after Stalin has armed them and their commanders, who are also former political prisoners.

At best, Stalin would need at least six months to put his troops back, dispersed throughout the nation; but moving them forward in two stages, has already overtaxed his logistic rail system, which will soon need rest and refitting in itself.

The current Five Year Plan has already been completely wrecked, not only by monopolizing the rail system so far, but by moving manpower either into troops or into military equipment and supply production. Most of the troops will never get home in time for the harvest, or even in time for winter, so that's adding yet more disaster to prior murderous famines.

The least of Stalin's worries, in that case, would be that all the gliders for his massive airborne forces (not even counting chutes for the paradrop assaulters) will be one hundred percent wasted.

Most supplies are up at the front with the troops; not back with the rest of the population. Eventual Marshal of the Soviet Union Kuroktin, in "Soviet Armed Forces Logistics during the Great Patriotic War", p.325, reports that five of the seven western fronts was already each eating two thousand cattle a day, not counting grain or anything else; and multi-million more troops are on the way, for filling out the First Echelon, and arriving with the Second Echelon. The Second Strategic Echelon also needs feeding. So do the divisions of three NKVD armies, four naval fleets, the air force, the vast number of minor detachments scattered around, and everyone in every part of the arms industry. Also, the Far East troops need to be fed to keep watch in case Japan decides to start skirmishing with hundreds of tanks and planes again -- though admittedly these two armies are no longer strong enough to wrestle at that level anymore; Stalin has ruined their ability to protect the Far East from Imperial Japan. Also, there's a liberation crusade invasion being set up for Iran -- an invasion plan so undisputed, it's sometimes being used as an excuse to explain some of the troop movement to the western border instead!

All those armed troops need food. All their logistic support, ten times their number, needs food.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 04:14:28 PM
The Soviet Union had better be doing a gangbusters job providing food for its people by now!

"Despite major strides made in agricultural development on the eve of the war, for a number of reasons the grain problem remained unresolved. Government grain procurement and storage were not fully meeting the country's food requirements." (JMH, 1961, #1, p.102.)

Oh. Huh. "Not fully meeting" Russia's food requirements, sounds not-good; but, how much are they not-fully meeting those requirements? Meeting 90% of full requirements? 80%?

Central Committee Member Zveryev, appointed by Stalin as the People's Commissar of Finances, in "Ministerial Proceedings", p.188), provides some comparison for context: "By early 1941, our cattle herds still had not come up to the 1916 level."

Peacetime cattle herds in Soviet Russia in 1941, after a quarter century of socialist rule in the international paradise of workers and peasants, are fewer than when Russia had already suffered so hard through two years of World War One, that Lenin and his militant Marxist socialists were (correctly!) sure they could ride a civil war erupting in March 1917, through the October Revolution against the tsars, and install themselves as absolute authorities over all Russian resources, property, and means of production!

After making major strides recently in agricultural development, Stalin's government has managed to improve food production far enough to return to a revolution-sparking two-years-of-disastrous-world-war level of starvation, by the standards of twenty-five years ago.

It used to be worse than this under Stalin's management! -- "major strides" have been made, after all! But relatively-better is still, in this case, fatally bad.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 04:19:57 PM
Stalin has destroyed the Soviet Union to get all these pieces in place.

The best outcome is that his armies will starve and freeze to death over the winter, thus reducing the mouths to feed in the nation he has ruined, but also reducing manpower to grow more food.

His one hundred and ninety-one divisions are unlikely to allow themselves to starve to death. Many divisions worth of troops just came out of starvation-level gulags (starvation level even by 1916 ruined-by-World-War-One standards!) looking like skeletons.

But who is going to take away their weapons? A mere three armies of death squad divisions with tanks and howitzers?!

The Second Strategic Echelon troops have no winter quarters; even First Echelon doesn't have those anymore. They have no winter gear. They don't even have bases ready to camp them, much less train and feed them. The armies of the Second Strategic Echelon, even though far from all of them are former gulag prisoners, have nowhere to go. But they are going nowhere westward, as fast as Stalin can arrange it!

Stalin can't feasibly call his divisions back, First or Second Echelon either one, in time to avoid fatal disaster for the Soviet government -- even assuming their reversal of direction wouldn't instantly snag up everything on the overstrained Soviet logistic system. And Stalin can't feasibly keep those troops on the border, which would be actually worse than trying to send them any significant fraction of them back home over the next six months.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 04:21:46 PM
In May 1940, Major-General Vasilyevsky became Deputy Chief of the General Staff's Operations Division, "working on the tactical portion of the Soviet Armed Forces strategic deployment plan for the northern, northwestern, and western sectors" (per the Soviet Encyclopedia, Vol.2, p.27.) A year and a half later he becomes a Marshal of the Soviet Union, and he, not Zhukov, runs the Red Army during the final years of Stalin's life, as Chief of the General Staff. Naturally, as a member of Stalin's tyranny, the moment Stalin dies his days of high office will be over, but he survives afterward.

Speaking about the first half of 1941 in JMH, 1978, #2, p.68, he will write, "We had to shake off fears that a great hue and cry would be raised in the West about allegedly aggressive ambitions on the part of the USSR. We had reached... the Rubicon of war -- and had to take a resolute step forward."

So, the aggressive ambitions would no longer be merely alleged! Cross that Rubicon forward: no going back.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron IX: THE DAY BEFORE
Post by: JasonPratt on June 20, 2020, 04:27:00 PM
Stalin might have gotten everyone back home in time for winter, and even perhaps enough of the troops back home in time for harvest (still with having wrecked the railway logistics for the Five Year Plan), if he had sent First Echelon home at the start of May -- instead of sending out the one month moving preparation order on May 5th (when he took over the public leadership of the Soviet Union!) to move both Echelons as close as possible to the Nazi border -- and, of course, if he had canceled the orders sent out back in February for Second Echelon to prepare.

But having sent out those orders (with much fanfare about some great destiny to finally be achieved thereby) back on May 5th, the momentum cannot now be reversed without total disaster for Stalin and his Soviet system.

Just as Shaposhnikov cautioned in the 1920s; just as he would have continued to talk about when, in mid-August 1939, the Politburo summoned the Supreme Soviet to enact two years of universal conscription: mobilize that conscription by any significant amount, and the nation must make war to live.

Millions and millions of armed draftees and professional troops of the highest training, are about to be standing around together, waiting --

waiting ---

waiting for the food to run out by October.

Stalin must go forward into the breadbasket of Europe, that very summer, or the Soviet Union dies.

Or, Hitler must rid Stalin of enough mouths to feed, that very summer, one way or another.

From Stalin’s Collected Works, Vol.5, p.225, “In the condition when we are surrounded by enemies, a sudden attack from our side, an unanticipated maneuver, quickness, decides everything.”