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History, Reference, Research, and GrogTalk => Military (and other) History => Topic started by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 10:07:40 AM

Title: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 10:07:40 AM
For the prior thread of my Icebreaker Thesis Chronology project, click here (

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

A Discontented Winter

September 28, 1939: the demarcation line for dividing up Poland is fixed. Ribbentrop signs the map as Foreign Minister of Germany -- his signature has force of law. Molotov signed the non-aggression pact in all the right places, but doesn't sign the map, despite being head of the Soviet Government and Minister of Foreign affairs. Stalin has no official business at all signing such a thing, no more than, today, Nancy Pelosi or Mitch McConnell would have, as the leaders of their respective American parties. But he's there, of course, and he's handed a pen.

Stalin is so excited at this deal, eliminating a neutral buffer zone between him and his greatest local enemy, as well as creating hundreds of miles of new borders with him, that he slashes the tail end of his signature across 58 centimeters of the map, 23 inches! (Might be a world record signature length?)

The secret protocols won’t be revealed to the world until the Nuremberg Trials (and only partially then, moreso later), at which time the defense lawyer for Rudolph Hess will argue that Stalin should also be on trial by the same standards as the Nazi leadership. (The Nuremberg judges will not accept this.)

September 29, 1939: Stalin directs a total of 1,613,803 troops to be retired from the Red Army, between now and January 7, 1940. The intentions of the Western Powers are clear: they will hold Hitler alone responsible for the invasion and rape of Poland, and will try to convince Stalin to help them by sending him support to defend himself from Nazi aggression.

Continuing to draw both guns (so to speak) would be suicidal for Stalin in several ways, at this time. Or rather, to keep drawing them this fast...
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 10:14:59 AM
September 1939: in his memoirs later ("A Soldier's True Story" or "Warriors' Stories", 1962, p.8 ), Brigade Commander Semion M. Krivosheyn (or Krivoshein), commander of the Soviet 25th Mechanized Corps at the time of the Soviet invasion of Poland during the Nazi invasion of Poland, recalls how he arranged a joint Soviet-Nazi parade in Brest.

This is such an unexpected and unusual event, especially after years of Soviet propaganda declaring Hitler the greatest enemy of Soviet Russia, that no Soviet commander would take the challenge of developing any specific details of such a parade, which after all is a political military manifestation of the intentions of both nations to the rest of the world. All details have to be passed up the chain of command for vetting and approval -- ultimately by Stalin himself. One such detail is Krivosheyn's publicity photo with a friendly-smiling Hans Guderian! (Who is holding his hands behind his back.)

At this time Guderian is a Lieutenant-General, commanding a panzer corps. Krivosheyn is only a BrigCom, two effective ranks under him, when etiquette should require the Soviets send an equivalent officer; a Corps Commander, such as nearby 4th Army Commander Vassiliy Chuykov, for example. (The new Soviet General ranks have not been established by Stalin yet.)

Stalin's choice for arranging the parade, and the photo opp, is perfect as an insult: he could send a ComCor commanding an Army, but sends a BrigCor; who only several months earlier had been fighting Nazi panzers in Spain; and who moreover... is Jewish!  :coolsmiley:

This means Stalin was not being nice to the Nazis out of fear of provoking an attack; it means Stalin had no fear of insulting Hitler and the Nazis.

Was the equally friendly Commander Krivosheyn naive? Was he fooled by the Nazis?

He remarks to his deputy after having arranged the joint Soviet-Nazi parade in Brest, "We pacted with the Germans, but that means nothing... Right now is absolutely the perfect time, finally and constructively, to resolve all world problems..." In Soviet doctrine, all world problems would be solved when the Red Army triggers and supports a worldwide revolutionary war by the workers against the property owners, bringing all nations as newly socialized republics under command of the Communist International and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

In his memoirs, Krivosheyn treats his comment to his deputy after the parade as only a joke: a joke about how the fall of Poland and alliance with Nazis creates a perfect opportunity for the Red Army of the USSR to conquer the world.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 10:44:47 AM
Autumn 1939: as soon as Poland has been partitioned and the new shared border with Nazi territory has been established, Stalin starts directing large numbers of his troops to abandon their well-developed permanent bases back beyond the previous border, and to move up to the new border.

This makes some sense on the face of it, because despite the non-aggression pact and especially the subsequent Friendship Pact, Stalin and every Soviet leader is very well aware that Hitler is Hitler and the Nazis are Nazis! -- and therefore as fellow post-Marxian revolutionary socialists they have the same goal of instigating and leading the workers to rise up against the property owners (rather than waiting for this to happen naturally by instinct according to Marx's original theory), supporting or providing this by armed invasion and conquest of territory so as to bring all property, materials, and means of production, eventually under the socialist control of Hitler.

One subtle difference is that Hitler doesn't seem to talk or authorize much talk, about Marx's communist stage which is supposed to follow the socialist government tyranny-for-the-people someday in the vague and distant future, unlike Soviet propaganda; but in any case, the militant socialists understand each other's threat.

Moving increasingly large numbers of troops up to the new border doesn't quite make sense of Hitler's threat, however, in some other ways:

1.) Stalin himself orchestrated removing the huge buffer zone of neutral Poland between himself and Hitler (which of course Hitler in turn agreed with, somewhat greedily and/or for short-term political convenience). Making friends with Poland and helping them gear up to defend against Hitler's aggression would make a lot more sense! True, the Poles know that they can't trust the Soviet Union, but Stalin could still have used them as a buffer zone to prepare a defense against Hitler's aggression. You could reply that Stalin knew Hitler was going to invade Poland sooner or later and so arranged to add some defensive space for Russia in Eastern Poland by taking an active role in suggesting that if Hitler is wary about going after Danzig and the Polish Corridor (so as to create a proper thoroughfare to Eastern Prussia), then the Soviets would help take down Poland, providing a deterrent to other nations getting involved at this first open armed Nazi conquest of a foreign power. However...

2.) ...that theory doesn't work because Stalin immediately throws away the extra defensive space he gained, by moving increasingly large numbers of troops, out of well-developed defensive positions, and up to the border! If they were creating new well-developed defensive positions, that would be different, but...

3.) ...building even well-developed defensive positions up next to the border is a bad idea if you don't build up supporting areas behind the front defensive line, which Stalin isn't doing; and moreover...

4.) ...Stalin isn't even building well-developed defensive positions up next to the border!

The troops are certainly very busy at construction; Suvorov cites several sources (such as the "History of the Second World War", Vol.4, p.27; "The Order-of-the-Red-Banner Byelorussian Military District [official history]", p.84, and Sandalov's "Assignment: Moscow", p.41) as examples of what they are building and why: they have no bases here, so everything has to be rebuilt and reequipped -- supply hubs and depots, airbases, the railway network (more on this and other construction soon), communication lines and centers, repair and construction of barracks and camps, new practice areas, gunnery ranges, and tank driving courses.

The MD history says the 3rd, 4th, and 10th Armies are hard at work in this area. But Stalin hasn't released funds for barracks to amount to anything, as Sandalov recalls, so the troops who can't fit in previous Polish barracks (even with new bunks stacked four-high), must make do being quartered in warehouses or even in dugouts. This is a serious problem for the coming winter!

Notice that these descriptions don't mention any defensive constructions (aside perhaps from the dugouts). That might only reflect Suvorov cherry picking his data and avoiding such references; although on the other hand, Suvorov doesn't emphasize at this point a lack of defensive construction -- he might only be emphasizing how hard Stalin is cramming troops up onto the new border area, faster than they have room to effectively be camped.

In fact the troops, under orders from high command, will be constructing defenses, even some expensive ones, on the border. More about those defenses and what else they'll be working on, later.

Meanwhile, it could be worse: what if all new divisions arriving at the border, or being created there, weren't setting up for the winter at all...!?
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 10:48:58 AM
Autumn 1939: by 1939, all bridges over the Dnepr River had been solidly wired to detonate upon an enemy invasion. Moreover, an entire flotilla had been created, 120 ships, including eight armored river 'monitors' (250 or 260 tons depending on the two models employed, and cannon up to 130mm!), for the purpose of keeping an invader from even crossing much less bridging the Dnepr after the bridges are detonated; along with anti-aircraft batteries and heavy guns along the banks, and nearby aircraft prepared to support a river defense. This could hold up a Nazi invasion for several months at least -- Germany was absolutely not prepared to deal with a river fortified to this level.

But Stalin orders the Dnepr bridges de-mined, and the flotilla disbanded.  :o

He has no use for guarding the Dnepr or even its bridges anymore, after Hitler starts the Second World War; and if he leaves the mines in place without guards, a revolution against the Soviet tyranny might destroy the bridges instead.

So, will that river fleet be put into drydock storage somewhere? -- surely not scuttled!?

Oh, don't worry, they won't be scuttled. Stalin has plans for them; which we'll be getting back to later...  :coolsmiley:
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 10:51:27 AM
October 1939: the Soviet 6th Armored Brigade consists of more than 250 BT series tanks, commanded by Colonel M. P. Pavelkin. This month they ride from Khalkhin-Gol river in Mongolia (site of the recent blitzing curb-stomp of the Japanese Sixth Army by Zhukov) to Uru-khan, covering a distance of 670km, averaging 150km per 24-hour period, in a total of 39 operational hours (not all at once of course), with tracks removed and the tanks moving on wheels! -- and not on autobahn quality roads to say the least!

The brigade is awarded the Red Banner Order for this successful maneuver.

In less praiseworthy news...

October 5, 1939: the Baltic State Republic of Latvia is forced to accept a mutual assistance pact with the Soviet Union, granting the Soviets the right to station between 25 and 30 thousand troops on Latvian territory.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 11:18:03 AM
October 25, 1939: now that Nazi troops have moved out of the Polish territory ceded to the Soviet Union by the secret protocols, and the Soviet “liberation” pacification of Eastern Poland has been underway for a while, it’s time to look for the next liberation crusade!

The target should of course be on a Soviet border; ideally it should be a tough fight for practice; and it should reduce the strength, or even better outright eliminate, some ally of Germany without provoking the Nazis into a new war yet.

The obvious choice is Finland.

Stalin’s diplomats demand the Finns cede the disputed Karelian Isthmus northwest of Leningrad, offering a piece of territory twice the size in exchange: 5528 square kilometers for 2761 square kilometers!

However, there is one small problem: the Finns are well aware that Karelia is a direct gateway to the capital of Finland and to all its largest ports and most populated regions. The geography of Finland only lends itself for invasion one way: through Karelia. In theory the Finns could go after Lenningrad, and of course in Soviet doctrine such a “Fortified Sector” would be considered a staging point for invasion. But that would be national suicide as everyone is well aware; and the Nazis aren’t threatening to team up with neutral Finland to pressure Leningrad yet.

Finland has been fortifying this area for 21 years against Soviet invasion; and since 1929 has been putting practically all military budgets into this epic defensive security corridor, now known as the Mannerheim Line. Military experts from all countries of the world unanimously agree at this time, that hell would freeze over first (so to speak) before any army, taking any amount of time, could break through the Mannerheim Line.

In other words, Stalin demands Finland hand over her first and only main line of defense against Soviet invasion, not only with past history of Soviet invasions nearby, but with the Soviet invasion and pacification of Poland recently staring at the world! This would give Stalin passage through the Line without one even one shot, at the cost of twice as much worthless ground where no one lived and which no one needed -- which could, after all, be reclaimed under Soviet control once Finland has been welcomed by the Red Army as the newest Soviet Socialist Republic!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 11:21:10 AM
Stalin has been preparing a Communist Party revolution and takeover in Finland. The Red Army 106th Rifle Division is organized today, staffed by Finnish and Karelian Communists living in the Lenningrad Military District (per N.L. Volkovski and editors “Secrets and Lessons of the Winter War, 1939-1940”, 2000, p.141-44; and Boris V. Sokolov’s “Secrets of the Finnish War”, 2000, pp.63-70.)

The goal of this Division is to provide the appearance of a large number of Finnish Communist patriots, homeland boys who love their nation and only wish to support it. It consists of two twin regiments, numbering in total 13,405 personnel.

However, there are not enough Finns and Karelians wishing and able to join (or forced to join), even to fill out the officers, so naturally Russians are assigned as the remainder. “Russians” includes “Ukrainians” from the opposite side of European Russia!

Just as naturally, a Finnish Communist division mostly made up of Russians and even Ukrainians doesn’t look like a devoted force of Finnish patriots, so of course the non-Finnish officers and many of the troops are enlisted under Finnish and Karelian names!  :D For example, the corps’ chief of staff, Brigade commander F.N. Romanov is enlisted as Raikas; and the headquarters political department chief, Regimental Commissar V.P. Tereshkin is given the new temporary name of Tervonen.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 11:26:25 AM
November 11, 1939, from Goebbel's diary, "The Russian army presents no value. The army is poorly commanded, and it is even more poorly armed." ("Admissions and Revelations: Nazi Leaders on the Third Reich's War against the USSR: Secret Speeches, Diaries, Memoirs", a government publication in Smolensk, 2000, p.195.)

Goebbels was of course notorious for believing his own propaganda; but he records Hitler's stated opinions, too (same page in the archive), "[Hitler] once again notes the catastrophic state of the Russian army. It can hardly be used for military action."

November 23, 1939, shortly before the start of the Winter War. The 106th Rifle Division, even staffed and manned with a bunch of fake Finns, doesn’t look or at least sound important enough to be declared the national army of Finland and used as a propaganda weapon (as well as a military weapon) against the legal government.

So the division was reorganized during the past month to be the 106th Rifle Corps. The commander is still a Divisional Commander rank, A.M. Anttila; and its two “divisions” are still the twin regiments, now pretending to be divisions.

This is still regarded as too clumsy a piece of propaganda because, first, it’s still called a Red Army Rifle Corps  ::) ; and second, at this time the Soviet Union only has 56 Rifle Corps! :uglystupid2: :crazy2:

Someone realizes that if anyone takes this Corps seriously, the implication would be that the Soviet Union is secretly building another forty-nine rifle corps (at least), which might be bad for politics!

So today, the 106th Red Army Rifle Corps is quickly renamed again, to be the 1st Alpine Rifle Corps of the Finnish People’s Army! (There are no "Alps" in Finland, but “alpine” is an accepted way to talk about a mountain warfare group during this time.)

Stalin has prepared a new Communist government as well, in accordance with long-standard Soviet invasion doctrine (dating back at least as far as the lately executed Tukhachevsky), which can at any moment be popped in and propped up by the Red Army, and sent to Helsinki in accordance with “the will of the people”, cough. ;)

DivCom Anttila of the Red Army has been assigned as the Finnish “minister of defense”. Deputy pre-GRU chief Otto Kuusinen is still on deck to be the “President of the Democratic Finnish Republic” or whatever nice non-tyrannical title the new nation will get before being inducted as a Soviet Republic.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 11:29:45 AM
November 23, 1939: at a meeting of the Wehrmacht Supreme Command, Hitler (unsourced by Suvorov) points out that the Nazi government can launch a war against the Soviet Union, only after war in the west has been concluded.

Every German schoolboy knows Germany must lose a two-front war; and Hitler's National Socialism, by being (like Italian Fascism, and Soviet Communism) a militant post-Marxian socialism, has in effect declared war against the world: a war to bring all property and materials, and all means of production, under the control of whoever stands at the top of the Nazi government. So Hitler can expect no allies among the Great Powers, and precious few significant allies elsewhere.

His two largest competitors on land are France, with whom he shares a border, and the Soviet Union, with whom he just created a border. If he wishes to avoid a two-front war, who will be easier to conquer the quickest under current circumstances? The obvious answer is France, and her Continental allies, also securing the coast against opportunistic British invasions.

Thus Case Yellow (Fall Gelb) and Case Red (Fall Rot) are planned for next year's campaigning: the seizure of property and production control, of the northern coastal areas, and then of central France.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 11:33:53 AM
November 1939: Stalin disbands Polish defensive partisan detachments and removes Polish officers (sometimes fatally) from Polish military forces under his control. This makes sense as part of his sovietization plans, and also to keep military units from forming a resistance. It also means he has no interest in forming a true cooperative effort to rescue the Poles from the Nazis, including plans for using them defensively against Nazi invasion.

Beyond that, however, Stalin throughout autumn 1939 has also been disbanding Soviet Russian partisan groups! Their arms and ammunition and explosives taken away, secret hiding places and depots dug under, bases gutted. Stalin does not expect to use even Soviet partisans on defense anymore; and as in Poland he will not leave such areas usable by internal anti-communist uprisings.

From the title-drop of Military Intelligence Colonel Professor Starinov's memoir, "Mines Awaiting Their Moment," p.40, "Safely hidden in the ground, arms and explosives were awaiting their moment. Before it had come, though, hidden [Soviet] partisan bases were gutted, unquestionably with the full knowledge and probably on the direct order of Stalin."

V.I. Boyarsky, in his "The Guerilla War: A History of Lost Opportunities" (published in Moscow and in Minsk in 2001), will write (on page 60), "Whole caches of weaponry, ammunition, [and] explosives, intended and kept hidden for partisan forces, were liquidated. The network of partisan training schools, along with their very competent leaders, were eliminated. Only the few partisan leaders who confronted the fascists in Spain kept their places. Among them were A.K. Sprogis; S.A. Vaupshassov; N.A. Prokopyuk; I.G. Starinov; and others." (This language, of liquidation and elimination, suggests the removal is part of one of Stalin's ongoing purges of the pre-GRU and NKVD.)

Hero of the Soviet Union NKVD Colonel S.A. Vauphsassov is an ethnic Lithuanian (last name normally spelled Vaupsas in Lithuanian but Russified for official documents and historical literature), who will be a veteran of Soviet political terrorism in Poland and Spain, and who at this time commands an NKVD detachment of partisans in Byelorussia until they are disbanded in this autumn of 1939. How does he explain the orders to disband the Soviet partisan system? From "Tense Times at the Cross-roads: A Checkist's Memoirs", 1971, p.203, "Against the menacing backdrop of those prewar years the prevalent doctrine was to fight a war on enemy territory... a doctrine decidedly offensive in nature."

Now that the Soviets have more successfully invaded Poland, Vauphsassov will be assigned to NKVD SpecOps formations tasked with "cleaning territory of hostile elements" in the course of the Soviet "liberation crusades", until the summer of 1941.

Speaking of the prevalent doctrine being to fight on enemy territory, Stalin in autumn of 1939 creates three more regiments of new paratroop forces in the Moscow Military District, each consisting of three battalions of five to seven hundred parachutists each, plus another several detached battalions of similar numbers (per "Moscow Military District", 1985, p.177).
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 11:40:23 AM
November 1939: in a strict sense, "armies" are metaphysical creations, organizing divisions and then corps (of divisions) together for command and logistic purposes, whereas these smaller "containers" may themselves be devoid of actual soldiers at the time. This explains some of the deviation between Suvorov's reports of ludicrous numbers of divisions, corps, and armies on one hand, and other reports that such armies were paper shells unfit for much combat -- yet. The containers are organized first, then filled out later; but aside from propaganda purposes the existence of the containers does indicate the intention (which is why Stalin will later keep secret for as long as he can, most of the Armies he creates after the 15th one. We'll see why later...)

We can see examples of the varying quality and strengths of Soviet armies, on the border of Finland, being deployed for moving into position several weeks before "Finnish aggression". 13th and 15th Armies will arrive soon to help crack through the security corridor; but already moving onto or already on the lines are...

14th Army -- no corps, two rifle divisions.
9th Army -- no corps, three rifle divs.
8th Army -- no corps, four rifle divs.

These are essentially small to medium-sized corps, dressed up as armies (to be filled out later theoretically), and they all have undistinguished or inexperienced commanders. "Finnish Militarists" will not bother aggravating these weak "armies" a few weeks from now.

7th Army -- this has the 10th Tank Corps (660 tanks!), three tank brigades (330 tanks each!), the 10th, 19th, 34th, and 50th Rifle Corps (each with three divisions); a stand-alone reserve brigade; eleven separate artillery regiments not counting artillery regiments already integrated into corps and divisions; several separate tank battalions; some separate whole artillery divisions(!!?); and an air component.

Merely in rifle divisions, 7th Army by itself is as strong as the other three put together! Plus it has all those other things, totally lacking in the other three armies put together!

One of Stalin's favorite generals, the highly competent Meretskov, commands this army. In fact, he has been scouting the Finnish border all year as the Leningrad Military District Commander (converting into the front commander for this invasion -- notice this because we’ll be coming back to it much later on a much, much larger scale, involving Meretskov again), and he has brought along the most promising commanders currently available, such as for example future Marshal of the Soviet Union Govorov (head of 7th Army's Artillery Staff).

What is this army?!

This is what the Soviets internally (not in official designations) call a "strike army". Its purpose is to be an elite and totally offensive invasion force. It is also the Army that "Finnish militarists" will aggravate with a few "armed provocations" of bursts of artillery, provoking a "retaliatory strike". How amazingly convenient!

However, once upon a time, the 7th Army had been just as much of a mere corps, of a few divisions, as the other three. Meretskov had arrived from Lenningrad MD headquarters with some more corps and attachments and so had converted it into a strike army. This not only allowed flexibility of deployment, it also served a political purpose: on paper, all the armies look weak and non-threatening. Strike armies only exist in Soviet doctrinal theory -- until presto, a normal army suddenly changes into a strike army! The same 7th Army, the most powerful single Soviet Army in December 1939, will go back a few months later to no corps, four rifle divisions.

In formal terms, all armies are labeled alike, and none are labeled as "strike" armies. (Eventually in WW2, some armies will be officially labeled “shock” armies, when designed for the same purpose: to punch through enemy defenses and create cover for other armies to arrive and deploy behind. By then, naming them openly will be politically expedient for morale!) Some are converted to strike armies by the addition of Armored and/or Mechanized Corps; others start out that way.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 11:43:52 AM
Stalin after invading Poland, by the way, has instituted the propaganda move of re-designating tank groups (corps and divisions) as "mechanized" groups.

Why? Because the West now has plenty of harsh examples of tank-heavy "Panzer Groups" being used for offensive action, but "mechanized" can refer to tracked infantry in Western nomenclature. This is only a convenient naming convention; Stalin's "mechanized" divisions and corps are as tank-heavy as he cares to make them at any time. The deletion of "tank" from the name of a corps, is followed by an increase in the number of tanks in the corps. Pre-1941 Soviet doctrine indicates that a fully operational Mechanized Corps must have 1031 tanks (not counting other armor): simply adding one such corps to a thin paper army converts it, by itself, into the Soviet equivalent of a German Panzer Group.

In the 1920s, Soviet experts used the term "invasion armies" for similar organizations (up to the standards of that time). Soviet diplomacy was doing its utmost to establish "normal relations" for the nations it had openly pledged to conquer and convert to Soviet Socialist republics, especially neighboring countries, and so in the 1930s the un-diplomatic term "invasion army" had been replaced by "strike army". But (as noted in the Soviet Journal of Military History 1963, #10, p.31) "strike armies" were still "invasion armies"; the name had merely been changed for political propaganda. Formally the armies still weren't called "strike armies", and the concept had been adjusted so that regular small arguably peaceful armies could be rapidly converted to (and deconverted from) strike armies, without calling them strike armies.

1939 WPRA Field Manual: "The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army [WPRA] shall be the most aggressive of all the armies that have ever attacked."
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 11:48:50 AM
December 19, 1939: today the Red Army starts taking delivery of production models of the T-34.  <:-) :bd:

Nazi Field Marshal von Kleist will recall, "Their T-34 was the best in the world." Major-General von Mellentin will agree: "We had nothing equal to the T-34." Field Marshal von Eundstedt will also regard the T-34 as the best tank in the world.

It is the only tank in the world created before World War II, which will not be considered obsolete after the war; it will fight for decades. No other tank, even developed during WW2, will have such a long service lifespan, not even the legendary Sherman.

60 years later, the leading authority in the field of designing armored technology, British Professor Richard Ogarkovets, will consider the world's tank-building industry to remain fully under the influence of the ideas incorporated into the T-34.

Leading British historian and military theorist, B.H. Liddell Hart, will write "None of our tanks could compare with the T-34."

French General G. Bouche, "The arrival of the T-34 tank, significantly superior to German tanks, greatly surprised the Germans."

Germany, the homeland of Rudolph Diesel, will not be able to design a sufficiently powerful diesel engine for its tanks; and during the war, thanks to the Allied naval blockade, Germany could not import the raw materials needed for steel alloys on par with the quality of the Soviets (per Guderian's "Panzer Leader", 1974, p.276). The T-34 comes standard with a diesel engine specifically designed for it. Also standard, a 76mm gun, with an L-41 proportion (41x the caliber in length), the most powerful tank gun of its time; and will remain so throughout Barbarossa. (The KV-2 and a late model T-28 have larger weapons, but are not designed as tank guns; they're mobile turreted artillery pieces.) It has an ideal body shape for a low profile, angled deflection of incoming shots, and a low specific ground pressure (weight spread out across track width, so it doesn't sink so far into mud or deep snow). Its weight distribution, powerful engine, and track design, will let it outclass all German tank performance characteristics through the start and the end of the Great Patriotic War: overall speed, acceleration, cross-country ability, loose surface ability (sand, mud, snow).

On top of everything else it can be easily mass produced, easily used, and easy to repair. Weight for armor and/or weapons can be increased significantly without significantly altering its performance characteristics -- thanks primarily to the key principle of Soviet tank design since the late 20s, make the best engine possible first.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 11:50:59 AM
This year, Soviet armies also received units of the BT-7M tank. Soviet historians will soon insist this tank arrives as obsolete -- compared to the cutting edge T-34. ;)

On tracks over unpaved roads, it can run for 520 km; on tracks over paved roads, 630 km; and after shedding its tracks, it could run on paved roads 1250 km. (per Pavolv, Zheltov, and Pavlov, "Domestic Armored Vehicles", p.182) No other tank in the world has such a range on December 19, 1939; no other tank in the world has such a range sixty years later!

The 'obsolete' BT-7M has a 500hp diesel engine. No other nation will be able to create such an engine before the end of the war. Some tanks of other nations are switched to diesels eventually, but only using weak automobile engines; everyone else (outside the Soviet Union) must use carburetor gasoline engines, making their tanks extremely vulnerable to fires and dependent for their higher fuel consumption and lower mileage on a more refined and expensive fuel.

On this day, the Soviet Union also starts taking deliveries of the first KV-1 (and apparently KV-2) units. More on these later; suffice to say they will be the most powerful tanks in the world throughout the first half of World War Two, without equals, despite some of their weaknesses (particularly the KV-2, which is only weak against other tanks -- not against the bunkers it is designed to roll up to and shatter.)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 11:56:04 AM
Last but not least, the Red Army starts receiving T-40 tanks today. In its class, it is also the best in the world, and will have no equal. 227 of them will be produced by June 21, 1941. It has a new body shape, never seen before, and weighs 5.5 tons. It is armed with a heavy-caliber DShK machine gun, and a regular DT machine-gun. A variant, the T-40S, comes with a 20mm automatic cannon instead of the heavy machine gun. It is roughly equivalent to the Nazi Panzer II.

But the PzII cannot float.

Soviet historians will declare the T-40 obsolete on June 22, 1941, when some models have not even had their paint dried! But between these and their predecessors, Stalin will have around FOUR THOUSAND floatable tanks on June 22, 1940, capable of swimming across the English channel! -- in stormy weather! -- while shooting!

No nation by 2019 will have tanks which can do that, much less 4000 of them. Hitler invaded Poland with fewer comparable PzI and PzII tanks, which couldn't float three meters!

But don't worry, Stalin has other designs in the work than 4000 floating Panzer Is (and a few PzIIs). For example, the PT-1 and its variants weighs 14 tons and would come standard with a 500hp engine, a speed of 90km/h on land with shed tracks, 62 km/h with tracks still on, and the previously established standard of 6 km/h floating on the water (per Karpenko "Review of National Armor-Tank Technology", p.189). It would have been armed with a 45mm cannon, and four machine guns, carrying a crew of four men. In other words, Stalin's engineers are already designing a hybrid of their fully amphibious floating tank, and an early BT speed tank.

It will be fully designed, and fully tested in production models! -- but Stalin will not order it into production: after June 22, 1941, sailing wheeled speed tanks across rough water the width of the English Channel, will not be in the plans anymore.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 12:00:35 PM
December 1939, the first "Ivanov" short-range bombers roll off the production line; they will start arriving at Red Army Air Force bases next month (January 1940) as the Su-2 (in honor of the design team leader Sukhoy).

While various Soviet and Western historians classify it as a light recon craft, it enters production as BB-1, "Blizhniy Bombardirovschik model 1". This means "near bomber" or "close-in bomber" or "short-range bomber" (stationed like a neighbor next door to the target). Coincidentally, the first "B" happens to sound like German "blitz". ;)

As its designer Shavrov reports, Stalin always intended it as a quick single-engine close-support bomber. He wouldn't have given his special emergency telegraph nickname to a mere light recon plane! Nor would he have planned an eventual production of one hundred to one hundred fifty thousand light recon planes! -- for which purpose it is designed to be better suited for mass production than any other airplane in the world.

It could of course be used as a tactical recon plane, but it possesses great firepower: four ShKAS machine guns in the wings (which at this time holds the world record in firing rate), plus hard points and an internal bomb bay capable of carrying up to 1300 lbs of bombs, or more importantly up to ten 82mm or even 132mm caliber rocket propelled shells! -- the same shells soon to be shot by the famous "Stalin's Pipe Organs" or "Katyushas", the BM-8 and BM-13. Those are not even in production yet, but these aircraft are meant to become flying rocket batteries. The design could be, and will be, upgraded significantly into other Su-x models, which will somewhat obscure in subsequent statistics how many of these "obsolete" fast-flying rocket batteries will be built and deployed by June 1941.

The Su-2 has two crewmen, a pilot and a navigator-bomber. Each crewman has separate controls, so that every craft can be used for training and combat equally. Some later models will be given a fifth ShKAS gun in a floor panel so that the copilot can help with any ground strafing. A sixth gun for rear defense will be added after June 1941, when this tactical bomber will need to defend itself after all in a sky that is not clear.  ::)

As Major Anatoly Pushkin (later a Lieutenant-General) recalls, as commander of the 52nd Air Regiment, "the SU-2 was also great because it did not need airbases. It could take off and land on any even field." Marshal Ivan Pstygo: "The Su-2 made a strong impression -- it was a bomber, but looked like a fighter -- small, compact, beautiful." Hero of the Soviet Union M. Lashin flew the Su-2. "It is a light plane, flies well, maneuverable, extremely durable. It took [a] long time for the Su-2 to burn. It never burst into flames like a torch." Why not? Hero of the Soviet Union V.I. Strelchenko explains, "The Su-2 did not burn even when its fuel tank was damaged -- the carbon dioxide defense helped."

It will fly at up to 320 mph during 1940 upgrade testing, but officially will expect 301 mph in operation.

Sukhoy starts the "Ivanov" into production in two factories, soon to add a line in a third factory. Orders are prepared at other factories to switch to the Su-2 upon immediate notice. But Stalin does not order the mass production to start yet: even Soviet propaganda would not be able to hide or downplay the production of one hundred to one hundred and fifty thousand close-support bombers! -- not least because such aircraft will necessarily presuppose a proportionately sized ground force capable of helping remove enemy airforces and capture enemy airbases!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 12:03:08 PM
1939: remember the Palace of the Soviets, which is to be built where the Cathedral of Christ the Savior once stood (now demolished for the Palace)? The place large enough to receive representatives from all nations in the world once they become Soviet Socialist Republics, under control of the Kremlin government? The foundation was completed this year, having removed the rubble and old foundations of the cathedral.

December 25, 1939: "Pravda" prints a friendly telegram from Stalin "To the Head of State of Germany Herrn Adolf Hitler".

Right below Stalin's message of friendship, another Pravda article talks about Europe now being "a dumping-ground for corpses, a pornographic spectacle, with jackals tearing one another apart". But it is Hitler against Europe: he must be one of the pornographic jackals! -- whom on the same page Stalin prints a friendly telegram to!

Also, it might seem odd that jackals tearing one another apart on a dumping-ground for corpses could be regarded as sexually arousing as a "pornographic spectacle"! -- but remember the context of Lenin's Marxism, embraced and promoted by Stalin (thus Stalin-Leninism). The capitalists and imperialists must weaken each other first in a second imperialist world war before the final worldwide workers' revolution can be successfully launched. The pleasure of watching this happen, knowing what it’s supposed to be leading toward, is supposed to be intense.

Merry Christmas, Europe!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 11, 2020, 12:12:24 PM
Meanwhile, as military geeks might recall, by Christmas 1939, the Soviet Union was mustache-deep into its own "pornographic spectacle", so to speak.  ::)

I thought I should provide a little context of what else interesting was going on (and being said in Soviet propaganda!) at the end of 1939, before discussing...

The Winter War

The Finns refuse to cede their first, best, and only line of defense against Soviet invasion; so Stalin orders the Red Army to crush Finland.

This runs against all conventional military wisdom: the Mannerheim Line and its security corridor are regarded by every army in the world as impossible to beat, especially in winter!

...well, regarded as impossible by every army but one...!  :D  :arr: \m/

November 26, 1939, a few days after the somewhat-Finnish Communist 106th Rifle Corps (actually the Soviet 106th Rifle Division) gets converted into the more politically correct 1st Alpine Rifle Corps of the Finnish People’s Army; and a few days after the Soviet 7th Army finishes converting into the only Soviet strike army in the area, led by the talented Leningrad Military District Commander Meretskov (who has been personally scouting the Finnish border with Central Committee representative Zhdanov since January)...

all of a sudden, seven artillery shells fly in from the Finnish side of the border and explode on the Soviet side, killing three privates and one junior officer! (Details are supplied from the Diplomatic note of the USSR Government, handed to the Envoy of Finland, concerning provocative shelling of Soviet troops by Finnish military units, printed in “Izvestia”, November 27, 1939.)

Finland’s government declares that no shell could have come from the Finnish territory, because Finland has no artillery near the border; and furthermore their government invites experts from neutral countries for further investigation and even a joint committee of Finnish and Soviet experts.

But now Finland has attacked (cough) the Soviet Union, so the Red Army must "defensively" strike back in “retaliation”!

Soviet newspapers explode with coordinated and directed rage: "We will repel the Finnish invasion!" "We will respond to the aggressor's blow with a threefold one!" (So, a twenty-one gun salute...??) "We will destroy the band of pests!"

...well, they're certainly welcome to try.  >:D

Welcome to hell, Red Army. Stay warm if you can.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 09:52:16 AM
November 30, 1939, after a brief but intense artillery preparation, the Red Army crosses the Finnish border into the security corridor, also called (by Suvorov in "Chief Culprit") the "security pale". They will certainly be bled white there...!

The main strike, as expected, is launched upon the Karelian Isthmus, but secondary strikes are launched along the entire Soviet border from the Baltic Sea to the Barents Sea far above the Arctic Circle.

Radio Moscow declares that the Finnish people have risen up against the Finnish capitalists, and so the Red Army is going in to assist the uprising. The Red Army's objective is to seize the capital of Helsinki by December 21, 1939: Stalin's 60th birthday.

An NKVD detachment, following out the current refinements of the Triandafillov invasion strategy, clandestinely infiltrates Finland, striking and capturing the city and port of Petsamo.

The first small village taken by the Red Army itself is Terioki. Finland's new Communist government immediately arrives from Moscow to start running the nation! -- led by Finland's new Democratic un-elected President for the people, the terrorist operative and deputy pre-GRU chief Otto Kuusinen. Along with his previously mentioned crew, he brings his son to keep the records and protocols. Naturally they all speak Russian; but don't worry, comrade: all those new records and protocols for the new people's Finnish government are also kept in Russian!  ::)

The temperature tonight on the first day of the invasion will reach 39 degrees below Celsius zero. This will not be the low point.  :hide:

November 30, 1939: on the same day Stalin invades Finland, the French press agency "Havas" prints a leaked report of the August 19th Politburo meeting -- the one where the Politburo summoned the Supreme Soviet to enact the Soviet Union's first universal conscription on the justification that the second world war had already started -- as evidence that Stalin plans to invade Europe after encouraging the nations to fight one another into exhaustion, i.e. "[the second world] war must be prolonged as long as possible to exhaust the warring parties".

Stalin denounces this as "a sheer invention and lie", blaming England and France for creating the war by "ganging up" on Germany, and noting that when Germany approached France and England with peace proposals (after "the opening of hostilities"), the Soviet Union openly supported Germany's peace proposals. Stalin declares that the Soviet policy "held and continues to hold the view that ending the war at the earliest possible moment would mean enormous relief for all countries and peoples."

Stalin might acknowledge this is technically true, but that acknowledgement doesn't contradict Stalin's Marxist-Lenin strategy of prolonging the war to exhaust its members! At no time in his reply (fully quoted by Suvorov, not here) does Stalin explicitly deny the gist of the Politburo meeting; much less bring up the protocols of the Molotov Pact with Germany, which by now Russia has fully enacted (as the other nations are well aware, though not about the secret agreement to do so) by seizing control of half of Poland, even being handed over some key eastern portions taken by Germany!

Stalin's published writings (somewhat cited by Suvorov) demonstrate from his speeches that he was lying and misdirecting about Soviet policy in his reply to the Havas report. It should also be noted that when Stalin says he openly supported Germany's peace proposals, he supported them in the context of blaming Britain and France for using Germany's invasion of Poland as a pretext for invading and conquering Germany! -- while Stalin (temporarily) promoted Hitler as a hero for worker justice freeing Poland from capitalistic oppression, encouraging other nations to let Hitler (and, by the way, Stalin) do whatever they wanted to Poland!

As Nikolai Krushchev will put it later, speaking about this time (cited in "Ogonek" #30, 1989, p.10), "According to this agreement, it turned out that Hitler started the war. This was beneficial for us from the military and from the moral standpoint. With his actions, he would provoke war with France and England, by going against Poland. We could remain neutral." This echoes Stalin's August 19th Politburo speech.

As A. Avtorkhanov will describe it in "Origins of Partocracy", 1973, p.356, "Stalin turned out to be a rare strategist who planned history, a phenomenal tactician who organized victories under a foreign flag and with foreign hands."
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 11:38:29 AM
December 1, 1939, Finland's new un-elected Democratic Republic government establishes diplomatic ties with the USSR, one day after the invasion has started.

December 2, 1939, now that Finland has properly Communistic diplomatic ties between its new un-elected Democratic Republic government in the village of Terioki and the Soviet Union, its new President and his ministers set up an "agreement on mutual help and friendship between the Soviet Union and the Finnish Democratic Republic." The agreement is signed by Comrade President Kuusinen, and Comrade Molotov, printed in two copies, one for each nation -- both copies are only in Russian, not Finnish, of course. Comrade Kuusinen also signs in Russian, using the Cyrillic alphabet.  ::)

Now surely everything is perfectly legal! -- all the Red Army must do is march victoriously into Helsinki and overthrow the capitalist running dog pigs who illegally hold the Finnish people in the chains of injustice and oppression etc.!

December 4, 1939, from Goebbel's diary (per "Admissions and Revelations [etc.]", p.196), "The Russian Army is of little value."
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 11:47:03 AM
December 13, 1939: the Soviets have been using the Winter War as a combat testing ground for their next generation of heavy tanks, testing three different models, specifically to see how they will fare in some of the worst 'anti-tank' terrain in the world, where tank operation is regarded as theoretically impossible: absent roads, obstacles hidden under piles of snow, tangled-thick forests, swamps, deadly defensive fire, vast minefields, anti-tank ditches, steel hedgehogs, scarps and counterscarps, plus cold that can cause steel to crumble.

All three test models (the KV-1, SMK, and T-100) perform brilliantly, but for overall considerations the Soviets choose the KV-1 to start production today. (Notably Suvorov doesn't report the KV-2 being included in the test batches, but it wasn't designed for fighting in terrain.) Production on the T-35 heavies stopped this year, but after the Winter War they are all shipped back to factories for a final upgrade of their armor to 80mm. Final weight for the T-35, 50 tons.

Initial weight for the KV-1 is 47 tons. The KV has the first true anti-shell armor in the world, at 75mm frontal (which can be further reinforced). The KV's wide tracks allow its weight distribution to be useful in snow and mud -- as tested in Finland! It has a 600 horsepower diesel engine, surpassing all foreign tank engines in power, reliability, and economy. Diesel also drastically reduces the chances of a tank catching fire. The KV receives a long-barrel 76mm model F-32 gun, unrivaled in the world at that time. The Nazi Panzer IV's short-barrel 75mm has an initial speed of 385 m/s, which is very good, but which is meant to be an infantry support weapon. The KV-1 has a muzzle speed of 662 m/s, which improves precision of firing and kinetic punch upon impact.

I will note here in passing that Suvorov never once (up through Chief Culprit anyway) addresses the most obvious shortcoming of diesel: it combusts by pressure alone, not by pressure and sparking, which is why diesel engines are notoriously difficult to start in winter! Still, it isn't as though Russians are ignorant of winter effects, including on chemicals, so for now I'm presuming they found some way to get around that, perhaps with special formulations of diesel -- a topic Suvorov will bring up in a different but crucially important context a couple of winters from now...

December 19, 1939: today the Red Army starts taking initial delivery of the first KV-1 tanks; also the epic medium T-34 tanks; and the seaworthy T-40 seaworthy equivalent to the Panzer II.

Notice that this is only six days after choosing the KV-1 over its competitors! -- the first models have rolled off the line and have been transported to Soviet military units somewhere. Probably not in Finland, I would suppose. ;)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 11:51:28 AM
December 21, 1939, Stalin's 60th birthday.

The Red Army's victory parade into Helsinki, as a present for his birthday, will have to be delayed somewhat. They are currently busy doing the impossible.

The security corridor stretches 25 to 65 kilometers deep into Finnish territory (per the Soviet Military Encyclopedia, Vol.6, p.504), all up and down the border. That's before you get to the Mannerheim Line itself. The good news is that the Line itself doesn't extend farther north than Lake Ladoga. The bad news is that this doesn't matter, as the Finns are well aware: even if Soviet forces get past the security corridor north of Ladoga, they will have no way to bring logistics with them. This can only be sort-of feasibly done along the Karelian corridor near Leningrad.

Average temperatures during their invasion are -21 to -24 degrees Celsius -- sometimes warmer, sometimes colder, skewed admittedly by readings a thousand miles north, beyond the Arctic Circle, where the Soviets are also invading.

Not a single army in the world has conducted an offensive, even a failed one, under a temperature of minus 20 degrees Celsius.

Whether north or south of the lake, the security corridor is saturated with hyper-active snipers (essentially real-life Rambos!), mine fields, and barriers. The bridges, such as they are, are all new, only a couple of decades old at most -- because they all have had explosives inserted into their supporting beams during construction! The first sappers checking the bridges can't detect them, and even if they did it wouldn't matter: the explosives are rigged to blow upon removal attempts.

The snipers are picky and accurate about who they go after: officers, sappers, truck drivers. These casualties paralyze a troop column; then the hidden mortar teams can pot shot them, or a light machine gun team can set up for briefly raking clusters. North of Ladoga, where the security corridor isn't as thickly defended, the Soviet 44th Rifle Division loses every single officer in one day, and gets locked down on three parallel roads; bridges blow ahead of them, bridges blow behind. Get off the roads? Onto what?! On both sides of the road lie boulder fields, forests, and extensive unmarked minefields; and sappers trying to clear or even detect those mines get sniped!

The Karelian corridor is much worse. In total, on the Karelian Isthumus alone, the subdivisions of the Finnish Army destroy 143 bridges and viaducts.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 11:58:59 AM
The good news, such as it is, is that Red Army divisions already previously reached the Mannerheim Line itself in only two weeks!

They arrived, of course, suffering heavy losses, inflicting almost none. Morale, broken; no ammunition, no fuel, no supplies. They needed thousands of tons of heavy artillery shells to break through the line; but their heavy artillery guns, and shells for that matter, have been trapped far behind them. So there isn’t much the first to arrive can do, other than wait, in range of the Line's own weapons now.

The 7th, 8th, and 9th Soviet Armies were not enough to breach the security corridor and "help the Finnish people cast off the oppressors' yoke": so three more were deployed, 13th, 14th, and 15th. They had been intended to exploit the breakthrough into Finland; but they were needed just to reach the main Finnish defensive line in time for Stalin's birthday!

After 25 nightmarish days to move only 25 to 40 miles, the Red Army reconstitutes itself in front of the Line: a brilliantly camouflaged defense structure, well integrated into the surroundings, stretching 135 km in width -- and up to 30 kilometers in depth! Right flank, the Baltic Sea; left flank, Lake Ladoga. In total, the Line includes 2311 concrete, ironclad, and wooden defense structures.

Beyond the minefields, the anti-tank trenches, the granite obstacles, the concrete tetrahedrons, the barbed wire strung in ten, twenty, thirty rows, stands hill 65.5 -- as an example. It is protected by forty-seven rows of thick barbwire on metal stakes, connected to mines. In the final row, the metal stakes are actually railroad tracks driven into the ground.

Behind these rows of barricades are concrete casemates. Every single major construction stores ammunition and fuel, and comes complete with warm sleeping quarters, a restroom, a kitchen, a dining room, running water, and electricity. Aside from these standard areas, tunnels lead (with communication wires) to command posts and hospitals, all below ground, all under concrete and snow, all toasty warm.

Don't forget, the security rangers in the corridor approaching the line are almost all still active, too, even though many of their reinforced ambush sites have been destroyed in the push up to the Line. Nevertheless, they, too, still have their redoubt bunkers where, after spending days out sniping and raiding the Soviets, they can return to comfortable quarters, where a bowl of hot soup awaits them, and where they can rest. An operating table well below ground awaits them if they are wounded, along with a clean, dry, and warm recovery bed.

The rangers wait as well in another security pale behind the first line of bunkers; behind that, another warm and inviting fortified line; and so on. The walls of these bunkers are at least one and a half meters of concrete, perhaps two meters, poured from the "600" brand: every cubic meter uses 95 kilograms of steel armature. Above-ground the walls are covered with armor plates, and buried under multi-ton granite boulders covered with soil. All are camouflaged and hidden, especially by tall, thick pine forests, twenty years old, planted or replanted above the casemates. Machine-gunners, riflemen, and artillerymen wait within and behind the steel and concrete forts. The embrasures are so deep that Finns can shoot at point-blank range while the Soviets think they are under long-range fire.

The Soviets meanwhile, by comparison, must make do with trying to amputate legs within the thin cloth wall of a hospital tent in minus 30 temperature. Outside it is minus 40. Also outside are the light mortar teams lining up shots on those tents. Don't bother trying to dig in somewhere: in Finnish December, the ground is frozen as hard as granite. Anyway, don't bother trying to amputate that leg either: in such cold, the wounded die too quickly from relatively light blood loss.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 12:02:13 PM
The snow cover is not too bad by Russian standards, up to 1.5 meters. No army had ever tried a massive invasion in this much snow before, however. Under the snow are the swamps, unfrozen thanks to the nice thick snowy insulation (and thanks to the heat radiating from chemical reactions in the swamps). Aside from the swamps are the lakes, many unfrozen for the same reason. Even where they are frozen, there is only a thin shell, enough to support a person perhaps, but not a car or truck, much less a tank. On the thousand mile front there are a thousand such lakes. "The theater of operations consisted of 50 percent woodlands, 25 percent water, some swampland, and only about 10 percent of the total surface could be crossed by tanks." (Per "The Winter War, 1939-40", Vol.2, p.53.)

How can you tell what is a lake and what is a field? Step out onto the sparkly white fluff and find out for us, Comrade! Ah, good, good, it is not a lake or a swamp! You have found a field of granite boulders instead! At least it isn't a minefield this time. Well, move along: complete darkness falls at four o'clock here in Karelia; up north there is no daytime at all.

Any place where trees can grow, there is a forest as cold and hard as iron, fortified by obstacles, and by anti-infantry and even anti-armor devices. Manmade obstacles are worked into the natural surroundings with great skill. Streams and small rivers crisscross the region with high cliffs for shores, all scarped. Bridges have been blown long ago. All paths leading toward bridges have been mined, and snipers haunt them. Aside from impeding movement, artillery spotters cannot work within it: you can hear the shells fly overhead, but where did they land? There is no visible horizon. The spotter must move up to the very field the shells are supposed to fall in. Of course, the Finns have no such problems: every battery has drilled in these areas for twenty years or more, and all the troops know by heart the data for precision shelling.

Soviet artillery, pretty useless; Soviet tanks, a good area for testing but not for fighting; Soviet air force, only able to fly one day out of four. Snowfall and blizzards on the other three days. When it can fly, the air force has a hard time seeing anything: locating troops in a forest is a rare occurrence under good conditions, but this forest appears like an even surface!

Wait, smoke over there, from their stoves! -- bombs and rockets kill decoy fires.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 12:09:08 PM
Rejoice! A pillbox has been located! -- only one of the bases for the security zone patrols, but that’s better than nothing. This by itself has cost many Soviet lives. Let us call it #0031. You can see from the designation number how many of such things might be expected...

Now let it taste Soviet artillery, specially designed for destroying such things! Bring up the 203mm B-4 howitzers, and the 280mm B-5 mortars!

-- bring them up where?!

The pillbox (above an underground base) is far off the roads and paths of course. There can be no direct fire, only indirect. The artillery spotters must approach through minefields, snipers, and other obstacles. The heavy guns themselves must get off the road and travel some distance on the snowy boulders and lakes to find good areas to set up and shoot: areas the Finns long ago predicted, and prepared themselves beforehand. More time and lives lost securing the tubes into their positions for firing.

The 203mm howitzer weighs 19 tons in travel-ready position, but only 17.7 tons when battle-ready: whoops, not there, that's a swamp! The 280mm mortar weighs 19.7 and 18.4 tons respectively: no, no, that's a boulder field, somewhere else. Not in that minefield! Sigh, bring up more artillerymen. Fortunately, the total travel weight can be spread out since these are too large to travel assembled. Unfortunately, the pieces must be brought into position by tractors: ah, that driver is gone, shot by a sniper! Get in there, comrade, you know how to drive a tractor, yes? No?! Then learn!

Where are the shells? The howitzer shell weighs 100 kilograms; the mortar shell, 246kg. But several tens of kilograms of gunpowder are needed to push one shell of such size out of a barrel and far enough to be useful. For shells of this size, the gunpowder charges are separate, and come in powder bags, just like in naval guns: don't get them wet in the snow and blizzards, or they will be totally wasted! Hopefully an enemy shell will not land in these several tens of tons of gunpowder in silk bags.

One thousand and forty-three howitzer shells later, pillbox #0031 ceases resistance; this also requires 116 mortar shells.

One hundred thirty-two thousand eight hundred and thirty-six kilograms of shells! -- for one pillbox! They had to be brought in wooden crates, of course, each crate weighing 200 to 300 kilograms; which means trucks on narrow dirt roads, and from there off the roads, who knows how far, to where the guns can set up in range.

The ideal firing rate for such a howitzer is one shell per minute, but Finnish winter weather requires twice as long. Those 1043 shots needed 2086 minutes or almost thirty-five hours?! -- no, don't be silly, firing at a constant rate is impossible! One can only shoot during daylight, the few hours of a Finnish winter day, and not in blizzard conditions, or it is impossible to correctly direct the fire. Also, the troops need rest, and only specialists can really operate these monsters.

Fortunately, each heavy artillery battalion has three batteries of such howitzers; unfortunately the weapons are so large that each battery only has two guns. Still, if all six guns were shooting, that reduces the time to eliminate the pillbox. Oh, did we find a good place for one such gun? Now find a good place for each of the other five; and for the 280mm mortars. Not too close either! -- aside from interfering with each other, we are definitely going to draw counterbattery and sniper fire, and the occasional light-machine gun raking! This will delay us in destroying that pillbox.

Now what...!? Ah, the five-ton barrel of the howitzer has overheated, and must stop shooting for a while. Good thing it's so cold here... no, wait, that makes things worse! -- because the barrel drastically heats up from drastic cold and back again. Is it time to replace that five-ton barrel already?? Where is the next replacement?!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 12:13:12 PM
Shelling Finnish pillboxes isn't always as easy and successful as against #0031 here.

Against pillbox #0011, for example, the Soviets needed 1322 specially designed bunker-buster 203mm howitzer and mortar shells, almost two hundred tons. By 'needed' I mean the pillbox soaked up all that ammo: it still outlasted all the guns, only partially damaged!

What about a Soviet combat engineer crawling under the crossfires? How much can he feasibly crawl with? Ten kilograms? Obviously not going to work. Try five thousand five hundred kilograms, and let us know when you're done.

Good? Now, die pillbox!

-- ah... no, not enough yet. Go pack a larger pile, comrade.

(Suvorov references "The Winter War, 1939-40", Vol.2, p.222, for some part of this. Unsure if all those kilograms were manpacked to the pillbox under fire, or if some trucks managed to drive up nearby.)

As a reminder... December 25, 1939: Stalin, through Pravda, sends friendly holiday greetings to Hitler, and on the same page rhapsodizes about the pornographic spectacle of jackals tearing each other apart in Europe.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 12:15:44 PM
December 28, 1939: Stalin prompts a decision to call up 546,400 men to the Red Army's western Military Districts -- despite being in the middle of disbanding twice as many men until January 1940!

There is a significant difference however: the high watermark of Soviet mobilization (5,289,400), reached back in September shortly after universal conscription was announced, was mostly a paper preparation for a possible emergency later. It could be stopped as easily as it started, and it would have been more of a desperation move in the event of a declaration of war against the Soviet Union for Stalin's aid to Hitler.

These troops, instead, are filling out a few actual armies to fight.

During this time, 375,000 young men of five junior conscription ages are also drafted for the Volga, Ural, and Siberian Military Districts. Stalin's Politburo has plans for them, decided upon back in late August and early September, and these troops will start those plans.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 12:19:39 PM
1940: Soviet fighter and bomber airfleet training manuals continue to focus teaching one massive ground strike instead of dogfighting.

January 1940: the Central Committee (run by Stalin) decides to set up within the People's Commissariat for Aviation Industry (also known as the Aviation "Narkomat", from the Russian abbreviation in English letters), an office responsible for turning out troop-carrying gliders. Later in 1940, the Soviet Union will set a new record for towing 11 gliders with one aircraft; but this office isn't tasked with creating test gliders from the many competing specs, nor even for creating the training (yet still troop-sized) gliders necessary for the civilian glider-training program. Those have long since been done already. This office is meant to create and guide factories in mass-producing military quality gliders for use by the airborne corps. The scale is so huge, that they will need until spring 1941, simply to start production!

From the "Military Gazette", 1940, #4, pp.76-77: "Airlifted forces will achieve impact in mountain theaters of war. There, with troops, headquarters and logistics especially dependent upon roads, airborne forces can be used to seize commanding high ground, gorges, passes, junctions and the like along the enemy's rear communication and supply lines. The ultimate effect can be extremely significant... Outside the context of an offensive operation, air-dropping forces hardly serves any useful purpose at all."

It might sound super-insane to be talking about paradropping anyone, especially significantly useful troop numbers, in MOUNTAINS! But such Gazette articles are not mere theory in the Soviet system; they are state organs controlled for the purpose of instructing and reinforcing ideas.

The relevant concept here, is that the Soviet military understands (and wants to be sure its readers understand) that airborne action is necessarily offensive in nature; and that the Soviet military is so devotedly infatuated with airborne power that they're seriously considering dropping large numbers into mountainous terrain despite the crazy risks of doing so. After all, the Nazi Green Devils do it!

All this raises the question of which mountains, exactly, the Soviet generals have in mind...
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 12:46:53 PM
January 1940: the pre-GRU sends Richard Sorge another message inviting him to come home and be shot in the head as a procedural caution. His reply, "Gratefully accept your greetings, and wishes regarding leave. If, however, I do take leave, it will immediately curtail information." By now he ranks as a defector.

January 23, 1940: Goebbels certainly feels like his earlier assessments are accurate! From "Admissions and Revelations", p.199, "The military strength of Moscow is almost insignificant."

February 1940: the 52-ton KV-2 tank, having been tested “under military conditions” (Suvorov presumably means during the still ongoing Winter War after all?), enters production this month.

It has some serious problems in operating on any gradient, or in other field "tank" conditions, but it hasn't been designed to fight in the field. It has been designed to trundle along good roads to bust up thick defenses, with a 152mm howitzer shooting a concrete-destroying shell that weighs 48.7 kg at a muzzle speed of 529 m/s. (There are also reports of an experimental 50.8 kg shell.)

Colonel-General Franz Halder, the Chief of the General Staff of the Nazi land army, will simply disbelieve the KV-2 exists! -- until Barbarossa starts (per Halder's "War Diary, 1939-1942", 1971, entry for June 24, 1941.)

The KV-3 and KV-220 will be created far enough to subject to government test, though not for acceptance; and prototypes for the KV-4 (90 tons) and even KV-5 will be designed before Hitler's attack, although not produced for testing.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 12:53:18 PM
March 12, 1940: if the Soviets, who have been busy dismantling their own partisan forces upon the signing of the Molotov Pact, needed any fresh reminders of Slavic defense strategies and tactics, they now have it. The Mannerheim Line was regarded by military leaders worldwide as impossible to breach. 7th Army Commander Meretskov writes later ("In the Service of the Nation", p 184) about the security corridor's awe-inspiring nature.

But today, hell freezes over: the Red Army does breach it!  :wow:

One hundred twenty-six thousand eight hundred and seventy-five Soviet troops and officers have been killed in action, including missing presumed dead, and deaths from wounds and disease. This doesn't include 188,671 wounded. 58,370 have been ill; 17,867 frostbitten (per G.F. Krivosheev editing Russia and the USSR in the Twentieth-Century Wars: Armed Forces Losses (A Statistical Study), 2001, p.213).

Despite this blatant example of the pure lethality of slavic security corridors and partisan tactics, married to modern technology and industry, even on the limited capabilities of Finland, Stalin does not resurrect the Soviet partisan groups. He will not recreate the partisan groups until autumn of 1941, after failing to halt the Nazi invasion. They will then operate as originally planned, in an epic defense behind enemy lines! -- but they will have to rebuild from nothing, taking until 1943 and even 1944 in some areas to reach full planned strength and operation. They could have been put into full strength and operation within a few days of June 22, 1941; but Stalin had decided in September 1939 that he didn't need or even want partisan defenders anymore.

Meanwhile, what has the Nazi Wehrmacht been doing this winter? Hitler wanted them to attack France in February 1940, but the German generals looked at the weather in France and sabotaged orders from High Command to invade! As an article in the May 20, 1990 issue of "New Russian World" puts it, p.95, "Here, luckily, nature intervened and forced the postponement of the set date, which between the fall of 1939 and the end of January 1940 changed fifteen times." -- and moreso afterward! German generals were unprepared to fight in France's spring weather even in April!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 12:59:02 PM
March 13, 1940, Finland asks for peace one day after the Soviet Red Army breaches the undefeatable Mannerheim Line. The war has lasted 105 days.

The Soviet Union receives the Karelian Isthmus; Finland keeps her independence.

The whole world is shocked by what is presented as the unbelievable weakness of the Soviet Union: the Red Giant cannot put down Finland, whose population is only slightly more than 3.5 million! Newspapers worldwide are filled with caricatures and reports of Stalin's utter lack of readiness for any war, no matter how small.

The first and loudest reports (per Suvorov) of the Red Army's poor performance in the Winter War, come from Stalin himself and by his inspiration in Soviet newspapers! Stalin's own court poet, Alexander Tvardovsky, suddenly starts speaking of the "infamous war", and for some reason Stalin awards him praises instead of executing him! Military men, writers, historians, and politicians come thus to believe that the Red Army has demonstrated a complete and utter lack of capability to wage war. This idea will be taught in military academies, schools, and universities for decades to come.

In 1944, the eventual Colonel-General L. Rendulic will fight for the Nazis in these same regions. In his memoir, "Commanding the Troops", p.189, he will recall, "In this forested and rocky zone the trees grow on disorderly piles of rock, which often reach as high as the average person and even higher. During the first reconnaissance ventures, I sometimes attempted to stray from the path and penetrate the forest, but was rarely successful. Most often this was possible only in a crawling fashion, on all fours... Movement through the rocks and between them is an extremely exhausting occupation. Only on rare occasions was it possible to go around the rocks. Any movement by car, even after the forest had been cleared, was out of the question. Even pack animals cannot pass through... Movement of troops and conduction of warfare in formations, applied to the usual settings, are completely inappropriate here. The region of marshlands and swampy forests is equally covered with trees. Movement through those areas is even more difficult than through the rocky-forested area."

Nazi opinions of the Soviet side of the Winter War will shift rather dramatically later. During the Battle of Stalingrad, Goering will publicly declare that the war the Soviet Union launched against Finland was "perhaps one of the biggest cover-ups in world history [...] [Stalin deliberately] sent to Finland a few divisions, equipped with obsolete weaponry, in order to hide the creation by the Soviet Union of an unprecedented war machine." (quoted in "The Winter War, 1939-40", Vol.1, p.376.)

At his June 22, 1942 table talk, Hitler will say, "Back home in Russia [away from Finland], they created an extremely powerful military industry... and the more we find out what goes on in Russia, the more we rejoice that we delivered the decisive blow in time! The Red Army's weaponry is the best proof that they succeeded in reaching extremely high achievements." (Piker's "Table Talks" collection, p.205.

Earlier on April 12, Hitler will declare at another table talk that "The entire war with Finland in 1940, just as the Russian advance into Poland with obsolete tanks and weapons and poorly clothed soldiers, was nothing other than a grandiose disinformation campaign, because Russia at that time controlled arms which made it, in comparison with Germany and Japan, a world power."

But as we shall soon see only a few months later in this year of 1940 (and as Suvorov himself acknowledges, somewhat inconsistently with his presentation of the aftermath of the Winter War in "Chief Culprit"), Hitler's estimation of Stalin's armed force will be already very high despite the apparent failures of the Winter War! -- so high that Hitler believes he has to risk a daring gamble to deliver that "decisive blow in time"...

Indeed, on Suvorov's estimation (in "Chief Culprit"), Stalin made one large mistake invading Finland: he had taken an obvious step toward Hitler's iron supply in (caught-neutral) Sweden!

The Red Army on Stalin's orders had gotten through the Mannerheim Line and had halted its advance. True, the Army now needed massive rest and refit, and true the rest of Finland isn't exactly welcoming terrain for armed invasion, but it wouldn't be like punching through the security pale. Stalin could have treated the remnants of the security zone as a Soviet Fortified Sector, with its traditional purpose in Soviet doctrine of acting as a secure launching pad for a Soviet invasion, and eventually renewed the advance of the Red Army -- in fact, he will try to do just this on June 22nd, 1941! But he could have done it much earlier, in 1940. From Finnish territory he could have bombed Swedish ore mines and railroads unhindered. No one could have stopped him, and he would not have needed to seize control of the whole nation to set up for this. He did not even need to further invade Finland at all for this purpose! -- he could have captured the Aland Islands between Finland and Sweden, and that would have shut down Hitler's main iron supply, dooming the Nazi warmachine with a Soviet victory.

But Stalin decides to let Sweden -- and even Finland!! -- continue supplying Hitler's war machine for a while longer.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron V: HELL FREEZES OVER
Post by: JasonPratt on April 12, 2020, 01:01:18 PM
Now that the Winter War has finished without a Finnish Soviet Republic: whatever will Otto Kuusinen do with his life? -- aside from hanging around in case he ever gets a(nother) chance to be the Democratic President of the Finnish Soviet Republic assigned by Stalin?

Well, he didn’t fail, because he never got a chance to succeed, and Stalin clearly likes him enough to keep him around through various purges of the Comintern and the pre-GRU (and only arresting instead of liquidating his wife Aino back in 1938 for connections to Richard Sorge). So Otto will go on to become a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (the CPSU) in 1941; and he’ll even survive to become a member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU in 1952!

What about his wife Aino? She had been an intelligence agent for the General Staff of the Red Army, but not around a lot after 1931; from then to 1933 she was in the United States illegally, and from 1934 to 1938 she was in Japan working with pre-GRU agent (and future Hero of the Soviet Union) Richard Sorge.

She’ll stay in jails and prison camps until 1955 (per Volkovski’s “Secrets and Lessons of the Winter War, 1939-1940”, p.138).


(Yes the title is a pun, obviously. ;) )