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History, Reference, Research, and GrogTalk => Military (and other) History => Topic started by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 01:38:16 PM

Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 01:38:16 PM
For the prior thread of my Icebreaker Thesis Chronology project, click here (

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

Forward the Air, Forward the Ground, Forward the Defensive Line

1930s: during this time (from 1926 to 1937), Stalin creates thirteen defensive Fortified Sectors along the USSR's western borders, unofficially nicknamed "the Stalin Line".

The Fortified Sectors are designed and built by the foremost fortification expert of the 20th century, Professor Dmitri Karbyshev, who in 1940 will be awarded the rank of Lieutenant-General of engineering troops. During this same period, he also constructs fortified regions in the Far East and the Trans-Baikal region -- field strongholds still in use in the twenty-first century (down as far as the publication of "Chief Culprit")! The Soviet military newspaper Red Star ("Kraznaya Zvezda"), in an September 8, 1990 article, will describe one of these surviving works: "This is mono-concrete. Solid cast. The depth of the walls is up to one and a half meters. For half a century, they have been there, but even today not a single shell could take them... Roofs of casemates have a low-profile. Ammunition. Command. Disel engines. Batteries. Filters. An automatic heating system... In this shell, filled with instruments and arms, one feels as if in a giant buried tank or a submarine hidden underground."

Each FS is a military formation with a corps' firepower but a brigade's manpower, spread from 60 to 110 miles across and from 20 to 30 miles deep. Each FS is a modern update to the classic Russian/Slavic defensive security zone, with complex systems of steel-reinforced concrete compartments underground, created for depots, power stations, field hospitals, command centers, and communication hubs, linked by an equally complex web of tunnels and walkways, plus covered connecting trenches linking the underground facilities. There is also an intricate web of railroads for bringing in materials, maneuvering armored trains, and quickly transferring reserves to the troops.

Each FS also offers strong armored combat facilities, and is designed to fight for extended periods while cut off from other Fortified Sectors; able to fire in any direction independently, as well as being able to support nearby Sectors. "Red Star" describes later (Feb 25, 1983), one of these Long-Firing Points, this one surviving from the Stalin Line itself, LFP #112 of the Mogilyov-Podolsk FR, as follows: "This was a complicated fortified underground structure, consisting of communication passages, caponiers, and compartments. In there, one could find arms, ammunition, foodstuffs, a mess hall, running water (be the way, still in working condition [thanks to stainless steel construction]), a 'red corner' [for propaganda], [and] observation and command posts. The LFPs sport triple-port stationary-roller 'Maxima' machine-guns, plus two semi-revetments each with a 76-mm cannon."

Colonel-General Shebunin, in his memoir "Toughed-out Together", p.58, recounts how in three years the Proskurovsk FS alone is raised as "a mighty line of defense, which counted more than a thousand various military field strongholds. Many objects were so thoroughly masked that even from close up it was difficult to guess their real designation." Many of them are protected by artificial water barriers. Colonel R.G. Umansky who also helped construct the Stalin Line will write about multi-kilometer underground structures in the Kiev region (in his "On the Threshold of War", 1960, p.35).

Those are the average type; they range from giant fortified ensembles, to small, armed constructions with one or two machine guns. Major-General P.G. Grigorenko, who participates in the construction of the Stalin Line, describes in his memoirs one of the other Mogilyov-Podolsk strongholds: "Nine firing points, connected by underground passageways, were on the high shores of the Dnestr and kept the river and the opposite shore under dense gun and machine-gun fire." (from his "Nothing But Rats Underground", p.140.)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 01:40:28 PM
The Fortified Sectors are the Soviet equivalent to the French Maginot Line, but far more extensive (stretching from the Black Sea to the Baltic, and much deeper into its nation's interior) and far more secret: the construction went on simultaneously in several areas cordoned off by the NKVD, but all but one would be decoys. Not only the local population but the construction workers had a very vague understanding of what was being built and where.

The Maginot Line has been created primarily to stop infantry; the Stalin Line is being created to stop armored assaults while punching back against air assault. Unlike the Maginot Line, which was built right up against the enemy border, the Stalin Line is built deep inside Soviet territory providing a proper security corridor within which teams would operate to frustrate an enemy advance long before the enemy would come up against the main defenses; thus also giving the defenders time to prepare to repel their invaders. All approaches to the Stalin Line are mined and prepared for detonation, including all bridges. The tight security and camouflage of their construction, unlike the Maginot Line, meant that an invading enemy would often be up into defensive firepower range for surprise ambushes, not only by the rangers of the security corridor but even from the main emplacements of the line!

The Stalin Line does not have solid walls like the Maginot Line. Thoroughfares between the sectors can be shut off quickly, but they also invite the enemy to try penetrating through between the fortresses -- to be destroyed by continuous withering fire on the enemy's own flanks.

The Stalin Line costs the Soviet Union gargantuan effort and materials for the first two of the Five-Year Plans. In 1938, all 13 Sectors will be topped off with heavy artillery batteries, equally shielded and internally supported; while another eight Fortified Sectors will be approved for construction (apparently subdividing command into smaller areas) and 1028 new combat stations created.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 01:43:04 PM
Eventual Major-General P.G. Grigoryenko, a colonel at the time but one of the constructors of the Stalin Line, explains one more vast and crucial difference between the Fortified Sectors and the Maginot Line (in "Nothing but Rats Underground", p.140):

"Only the naive see defense as the prime mission for Fortified Sectors. No, we build Fortified Sectors the better to prepare for offense! They are meant to provide effective cover for deploying our strike forces, repel any enemy attempt at disrupting the unfolding of attack, and, once our troops go on the offensive, back them up with withering fire."

These defensive marvels of the age are not meant, in Soviet doctrine, primarily for defense against invasion, but for supporting invasions from the Soviet Union, toward their oriented directions: mostly westward into central Europe.

Currently the plan, therefore, is both to strengthen the ultimate defensive power of the back end of the Stalin Line, and to build forward to the state borders of the Soviet Union, in order to use the Fortified Sectors as springboards for invading the neighbors of the Soviet Union.

This plan, in case you're curious, will be altered rather substantially...
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 01:50:40 PM
December 27, 1932, internal passports are introduced in the Soviet Union. Without them, it is impossible to work, find a place to live, or even travel around inside the nation.

The passports are only assigned to city dwellers. Soviet peasants, who are the majority of the population, are not supposed to receive any. That is because the purpose of the passports is to help counter the flight of the peasant population from starving regions into cities or other more prosperous parts of the nation.

This further enslaves the peasants, so that even the ones not trapped in kolkhoze farming communities, or in concentration camps (not even counting prisons), cannot leave their areas: they must live and die where their owners demand.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 01:54:53 PM
Throughout the 30s, despite the dire famine created by the Five Year Plans, every single city park (according to Suvorov) has its own parachute tower, and parajumper badges are promoted as (per Suvorov) "an absolutely indispensable symbol of masculinity."

A badge cannot be awarded for simply jumping off a parachute tower. A man has to make multiple successful jumps from actual aircraft, and before he is even allowed to try that he has to pass proficiency tests in running, swimming, shooting, grenading (both for distance and accuracy), scaling obstacles, using anti-chemical devices, and many other skills not needed for a carnival amusement ride.

This is no amusement fad. This is combat infantryman training for civilians, at a pre-elite level.

Remember Alexander's most-nervous-men vs Tukhachevsky's naive tank-rush strategy? This is no pie-in-the-sky plan (despite what parachutes may look like ;) ) with no logistic support.

Stalin is selling off national grain reserves during a horrifying famine to pay for parachute technology; to build giant silkworks and parachute factories; to build parachute kilns and warehouses; to raise basic introductory parachute towers in every city park; to span the country with a network of air bases and aeroclubs and thousands of instructors for training those civilians to be, in effect, combat infantry paratroops (who need to be fed with the vanishing grain to be kept healthy for signing up with the program); and to manufacture, maintain, and prepare the gear and weaponry they will need for their training -- not to mention the gear and weaponry they will need if for some reason Stalin decides someday he needs two million parachute-capable soldiers with pre-elite boot camp training drafted from the citizenry to form a few dozen airborne and air-mobile assault corps. (Air-mobile troops aren't intended to be airborne rangers, of course, but still need and receive parachute training for emergencies.)

According to the Communist Party Archive of the Institute of Party History, Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Ukraine, Fund 7, Index 1, Case 1330, sheet 12, in less than two years (from April 1934 to February 1936), 427,000 parachutists will be trained in the Ukraine alone.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 02:03:40 PM
1932: this year in Soviet tanks, the first of the "BT" series goes into production, the BT-2.

The "B" stands for bystrokhodnyi, or "high speed". Just like the original "fast-food" restaurants were once called "bistros", these are meant to be high-speed tanks.

The Soviet T-34 will be a direct descendant of the BT series. The principle of a sloped location of the frontal armor, and of sloped armor generally, will be used on the tanks of other nations around the world, starting with the Nazi Panther. The principle of the transmission as well as the engine being in the rear, will NOT be adopted by other nations until the mid-1950s.

Until the late 30s, the BT model series will feature a 45mm cannon, capable of penetrating the armor of any foreign tank at combat distances. Great Britain and Germany won't start arming their tanks this strongly until 1942 and 1943.

Stalin will produce thousands of early BT models before upgrading to the BT-28; along the way he will have 154 BT-7As manufactured and armed with newly designed 76mm KT-26 cannons. When Hitler eventually invades Poland, no tank outside the Soviet Union, including the Nazi tanks, will have weapons of comparable caliber.

The early BTs will only have bulletproof armor, like the early tanks of other nations; and some of these merely bulletproof tanks will still be in operation at the start of Barbarossa -- along with some merely bulletproof Nazi tanks! (Except Stalin will have many more of them.) BT armor will be upgraded more quickly than the armor of Nazi tanks, however, as will be seen later.

Soviet designers operate, starting here and going forward, on a simple first principle that the engine is the heart of the tank. Give every tank the best engine possible first, and then you have leeway to add whatever armor and weapons you wish.

The first operational BT tank, the BT-2, has a relatively weak Soviet engine, however: only a 400 horsepower M-5 engine! This naturally beats the 1928 model of Soviet tank (roughly equivalent to the later Panzer I) all to hell. But by the new Soviet standards, 400 horsepower is only a good start. This will soon be rectified!

Meanwhile other nations will not be producing anything even close to a 400hp tank engine until well after Hitler invades Russia; Germany will start producing such tanks toward the end of 1942. Currently Germany's best tank has zero horsepower, because Nazi tanks don't exist yet! (Aside from any dinky practice models built for them in the Soviet Union to train their upcoming Panzer Generals of course. The Soviets will naturally keep those test models.)

Even with 'only' 400 horsepower, the specific power of the BT is 36.4hp per ton of mass (per "Military and Numeric" etc., p.241). Soviet and post-Soviet publications aren't always reliable due to propaganda, but the January 17, 1998 issue of "Krasnaya Zvezda" will later report from Soviet records that early "BT units could jump over obstacles to a distance of 15 to 20 meters, and a few could do it to a distance of 40 meters." Footage and snapshots of these stunts still exist; but after Barbarossa Soviet historians will categorize these tanks among obsolete models, so that until 1991 they will not even be included in statistics! -- thus helping demonstrate that the Soviet Union was not preparing for war, by ignoring the existence of such tanks.

In Nazi Germany, the tank with the highest specific power will be the PzIII-J: 13.9hp per ton. Germany will start producing it in April 1941, as their top tank-killing armored fighting vehicle for that production year. It will be radically undergunned even by the standards of the 1932 BT-2 (though it will have better armor). The PzIII-J won't have any better specific power than its earlier -A variant, prepared before invading Poland, and it will still have the best power to weight ratio of all German tanks in 1941. The PzIII's specific pressure, by the way, is 0.94 kilograms per square centimeter: so of course it will sink the mud like a stone! Still it will have the best specific pressure available among Hitler's tanks -- once he ever gets around to building any.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 04:49:52 PM
Welcome to 1933! Soviet fighter and bomber airfleet training manuals continue to focus teaching one massive ground strike instead of dogfighting.

1933: Tupolev experiments this year with mid-air refueling for the TB-3 heavy bomber, still the top such aircraft in the world. It sets several world records while in production, including high altitude cargo flights of 5, 10, and 12 tons.

The TB-3 design will become the basic model for this class for many decades to come; and will be produced from 1932 to 1938 (per Riabchikov and Magid's "The Becoming", 1978, p.132)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 04:52:34 PM
May 10, 1933, after a third and fourth contest (with Stalin being the most prominent jurist) for the design of the Palace of the Soviets to be erected on the destroyed foundations of Christ the Savior Cathedral, Boris Iofan’s draft is declared the winner. Stalin had already chosen Iofan’s draft, with some personal alterations of his own, back on August 7th, 1932, however!

Lenin was no longer supposed to be standing on top of the tower, by the way, only a hammer and sickle -- that was one of Stalin's personal alterations -- but monuments to Lenin, Marx, and Engles would be in front of the palace.

During the fourth contest in the intervening winter, the statue to Lenin returned after Stalin declared that the Palace is supposed to be a monument to Lenin. This is also when the height beneath the statue was increased to 415, in order to compete better with the Eiffel Tower.

So the final design has been completed: 415 meter pedestal (with the Palace of the Soviet Assemblies as the base of the pedestal), 100 meter Lenin statue.

Construction will be quite another thing. Stalin is busier on other projects right now than a monument to Lenin.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 04:55:13 PM
July, 1933: now that Hitler has taken over political leadership of Germany, with help directed from Stalin by the German Communist Party, which Hitler will busily extinguish -- what does Trotsky think of this development?

Per Trotsky's Opposition Bulletin, Vol.35, p.11, "Without Stalin, there would be no Hitler. Hitler was preparing for war... The strike against the West [by Stalin!] in the near or far future could only be realized in the conditions of a military alliance between Fascist Germany and Stalin." Whoops!

From this point (the earliest Suvorov cites), if not earlier, Trotsky changes his complaints about Stalin: watch out, Stalin really is planning to invade and conquer Europe after all! Except, Trotsky currently just sounds old, bitter, and crazy with this about-face. A military alliance between Hitler and Stalin?!? Pfft, please, if you're going to be jealous, at least sound reasonable...

Anyway, Trotsky of all people has now said that there's no point worrying about Stalin being able to invade the world unless he allies with Hitler first, of all people, and obviously that isn't going to happen!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 05:09:30 PM
1933: Colonel Heinz Guderian, now under Hitler's Chancellorship and Nazi Party oversight, tours a steam engine factory in Kharkov, where on a sideline of production he watches tank production, designed by the American J. Walter Christie, at a rate of 22 tanks per day.

At this time, Germany has not made one single tank, due to treaty restrictions, which is why Germans such as Colonel Guderian are in Russia instead of Germany, training for tank warfare. Germany will later invade Poland with fewer than half the tanks this one Russian factory is already able to produce in peacetime as a sideline in one year. By 1940, the United States in peacetime, although gearing up with WW2 already raging, will have a total of almost 400 tanks: less than 18 days' worth of production from this single Soviet production sideline in peacetime seven years earlier.

These are the next generation of Soviet "BT" tanks, based on plans bought from Christie, and then smuggled into Russia using false papers designating it an agricultural tractor in 1930. In 1933 these units can reach speeds, on superhighway caliber roads, untracked, of 62.5 miles per hour, once the power governor is uninstalled, as per Milson's "BT Series", 1971. (Some Western experts consider the top speed more like 70 mph. Earlier BT models, being lighter, could indeed reach that speed: over 110 kmh.) On flat Soviet roads, the untracked top speed is still almost 54 mph, with the governor installed -- which has to be kept installed, otherwise the engine will destroy the transmission on the Soviet roads (and offroad)! In hillier areas, top speed is just under 44mph.

The BT has been and always will be designed with both the engine and transmission in the back, a superior design 25 years ahead of general acceptance among other nations. It will receive further design innovations before 1941. From these will come the legendary light armored Soviet BT units of the Cold War, superior to all Western designs of their time, as recon and armored personnel carriers.

The current next-generation BT tank adopted by the Soviet Union is the BT-28 (sometimes only called the T-28). No future Allied or Axis nation can currently compete with this model in armor, weaponry, or horsepower.

The first Soviet heavy tank also starts production in 1933, the T-35. It weighs 45 tons, very large for this time, and requires an eleven man crew. Why eleven men?! -- because this is the only five-turret tank in the world which has been produced far enough to be assigned regular crewmen. Its armor is 30mm thick, relatively heavy for the time; and it has three main guns plus six machine guns! It will be produced for service until sometime in 1939, with some improvements along the way.

Hitler came to power this year with zero German tanks -- aside from the practice tanks they've been building and training with in Soviet Russia! Stalin's Red Army already has four thousand tanks going into 1933, after those terrible 1928 tanks have been deprecated and removed from service.

By the end of 1933, Hitler's Germany, converting into Nazi Germany, will still have produced zero tanks (aside from the etc.) Stalin will have produced another 3819 more tanks of all types and modifications (per "Domestic Armored Vehicles: Twentieth Century", Vol.1, p.17)

That's not far short of EIGHT THOUSAND tanks for the Soviet Union by the end of 1933. They aren't trash either; far from it. They're currently the best quality tanks in the world, by far. They'll still be better than practically all tanks in the world eight years later, assuming they're used correctly.

You may be asking yourself: but doesn't Stalin have crappy tanks equivalent to Panzer Is? As a matter of fact, a significant number of those 7800-tanks-by-the-start-of-1934 will be produced in the second half of this year, equivalent in performance to the Panzer I tanks which don't even exist yet!

Well, sort-of equivalent...
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 05:14:57 PM
August 11, 1933, the T-37A starts being delivered to the Red Army. It weighs only 3.2 tons -- less than some Soviet cannons on tanks of this time! It has a 40hp engine, and a maximum speed of 36 to 40km/h but only on paved roads. It wears only bullet-proof armor, and crews only two troops; one to drive, and one to operate its only weapon, a single machine gun.

What absolute trash! This tank isn't even as good as the Panzer I training tanks which Nazi Germany will mostly field when going to war against Poland in September of 1939! Why has Stalin allowed this to not only get into production but even to be delivered to Red Army troops for assignment and use?!

Ohhhhh, because it travels 6 thousand meters an hour on water. Not underwater. ON water.

This is the first regularly used fully amphibious tank in the world (per the "Complete World Encyclopedia of Tanks, 1915-2000", 1999, pp.123-23.)

It must be acknowledged that the British firm Vickers-Armstrong built the very first truly amphibious tank in 1931, designated the Vickers-Carden-Lloyd A-4. It is considered the progenitor of all amphibious tanks, but it was never added to the British armed forces arsenal. Single units were sold to China, Japan, the Netherlands, and Thailand.

The Soviet T-37A, by contrast, is out there slugging and trying its best in exercises and troop training. No one else in the world will have anything comparable in service until the Japanese in 1941 start mass producing their own amphibious tank (based on their research dating back to the 1920s, and partly on reverse engineering the Vickers A-4). The United States will eventually create amphibious LS-Ts (Landing Ship - Tank), with which they will successfully invade Northern France and the Pacific islands. But as fine as those machines will be, they will be ten years down the line, or eleven rather; and despite some having light tank turrets, they won't really be tanks -- they'll be very large amphibious armored personnel carriers, incapable of doing much on land after dragging up onto the beach.

The aforementioned Panzer I will start deploying from production to Nazi armed forces next year in 1934. It will be roughly the same in size and capabilities as the T-37A, maybe better offroad, but it won't be able to float.

When it comes to this oldest, lightest Soviet amphibious tank, compared to the best, most powerful Nazi amphibious tank ever made, there can be no comparison, of course: because the Nazis will never have a floating tank! -- not at this time, not later before the war, not when Hitler attacks Russia, not throughout the East Front war, not when Soviet tanks are rolling into Berlin. Germany will enter the 21st century reunited from being half under Soviet occupation, still with no floating tanks.

In fact, there is not even any comparison between the oldest Soviet amphibious tank with the best current non-floating Nazi tank in service in 1933, because the Nazis have zero tanks in service at this time!

Considered only by itself, the T-37A beats all Nazi tanks in 1933 -- by existing and being functionally deployed in service at all!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 05:28:08 PM
1932 through 1933: historical literature and documentary sources offer different numbers of the demographic losses resulting from Stalin's collectivization policies (started in the winter of 1928) and its consequential famines.

Suvorov regards the following ranges most justified: 3 to 4 million people dying of harsh conditions at the places of exile (both naturally and from human repression), plus another 3.5 to 5 million from famine.

Cannibalism has flourished in the country.

Stalin has been selling millions of tons of grain each year to accumulate currency to produce weapons in mass quantities. Per Rogovin's "Hunger" in "The Power and the Opposition, 1928-1933", before collectivization Stalin exported (in net trade) less than one hundred thousand tons of grain in 1928.

Succeeding years tally 1.3 million tons in 1929;

4.8 million tons in 1930;

5.2 million tons in 1931;

then only 1.8 million tons in 1932;

and only 1 million tons in 1933.

This was partly due to lack of peasants to produce the grain; partly due to the collectivization processes themselves; and partly due to record American yields causing global grain demand to plummet along with grain prices -- but Stalin would not net-import the cheap grain grown elsewhere to feed his people.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 05:30:54 PM
End of 1933: Per JMH #10, 1982, p.75, "By the end of 1933, the Red Army had one air assault brigade, four mobile paratroop units, twenty-nine separate battalions, and several companies that altogether numbered about ten thousand men."

Why, you could put together an airborne assault division with that!  :D ^-^

End of 1933: this is the final year that Stalin allows (and encourages) pilots for the German government to train in the Soviet Union. Final tally is close to 450 pilots -- not only air recon observers, but fighter pilots and bomber squads!

Many of these Soviet-trained pilots will enter the core of Reischsmarschall Hermann Goering's command staff. In effect, the core of the Nazi Luftwaffe has been born in the Soviet town of Lipetsk.

Planes designed for training and testing, arrived by non-stop flights at high altitudes; all the Germans who went to the German aviation school at Lipetsk were formally discharged first from the Reichswehr, and their names were changed. Pilots who died from accidents were shipped back by sea through Leningrad's port in containers labeled "mechanical parts". Their relatives were not, of course, told the true causes of death.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 05:38:42 PM
Not a lot to talk about in 1934: Soviet fighter and bomber airfleet training manuals continue to focus teaching one massive ground strike instead of dogfighting.

January 26 through February 10, 1934, Stalin at the 17th Party Congress says that the rise of "fascism" -- "I speak not about fascism in general, but about fascism of the German type" -- would be a "terrorist dictatorship", and Stalin stresses that "the revolutionary crisis will increase faster [since] the more the bourgeoisie gets confused in its combinations and tactics, the more it employs terrorist methods." (Stalin prefered to call Nazis fascists so as not to emphasize the "socialist" and "workers" identification of the Nazi Party, although the original Italian fascists of Mussolini are also militant Marxian socialists.)

1934: no future Allied or Axis nation can still compete this year with the Soviet BT-28 tank model in armor, weaponry, and horsepower.

Nazi Germany does start producing tanks (at home!) this year, starting with the training Panzer I tank, roughly equivalent to the 1928 Soviet practice model.

Over the next five years, Hitler will produce a total of 2,683 tanks (per "Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two", p.261).

Stalin's factories from 1934 thru 1938, over the same period minus 1939, will produce 14,284 tanks, to add to the 7800ish tanks he already has (per "Domestic Armored Vehicles: Twentieth Century", Vol.1, p.17.)

Specifically, in 1934 the USSR produces 3556 tanks;

in 1935, 2994;

in 1936, 3906;

in 1937, 1558;

in 1938, 2270.

None of these tanks are worse than the BT series and the heavy 45-ton T-35; they all feature improvements in some way.

Don't let those numbers just glaze by you, by the way. Hitler will one day invade the Soviet Union with significantly less than four thousand tanks; not with significantly more than TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND!

And remember the vengeance of Alexander's most-nervous-men vs. Tukhachevsky's one year tank-spam. What do those twenty-two thousand tanks by 1938 represent logistically in other things going on...?
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 05:57:26 PM
Never Stop Never Stopping

Quite a bit more to talk about in 1935, but let's start as usual for emphasis: Soviet fighter and bomber airfleet training manuals continue to focus teaching one massive ground strike instead of dogfighting.

1935: the Red Army stages several air assault training operations in Kiev.

That sounds blase, but consider how many air assault training operations all other nations on earth combined this year will stage: ZERO!

One typical operation involves dropping 1200 airborne rangers followed by the landing of 2500 airmobile troops bringing heavy weapons, including artillery, armored cars, and small tanks. (It should be kept in mind that the Soviet armored cars will outperform Nazi tanks in many regards, including armament, up through Hitler's invasion of Russia.)

This is typical of many grandiose maneuvers shaking up the western region of the USSR in the 1930s. Only one theme (per Suvorov) is developed in each maneuver: "Deep Penetration", a sudden attack by gigantic masses of tanks deep into "enemy" territory. In every training exercise, the sudden attack of land troops is always preceded by a surprise attack of Soviet aviation on the "enemy" air bases, followed by a drop of the paratroops to take over the air bases. Following the first wave of parachutists, a second wave of assault troops, with heavy weapons, lands using transport aircraft to secure the captured bases.

When Suvorov calls the tank numbers "gigantic masses", keep in mind that Stalin is going into this year with significantly more than ELEVEN THOUSAND tanks already in service, and is cranking out more at equivalent speeds. Not all those tanks are being used in the super-combined-arms practice operations, of course, but by any metric several hundred tanks would still be a gigantic mass and Stalin has tanks to spare.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 05:59:36 PM
1935: "Strategic Deployment Issues", a paper apparently delivered at the Frunze Military Academy of the Workers and Peasants' Red Army (otherwise unsourced by Suvorov), explains that "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."

The instructors are trying to teach Soviet commanders that while they may be assigned to "covering armies" which have a defensive sounding name for political diplomatic marketing purposes, they should realize and understand that these armies are intended for surprise invasions on a sudden offensive.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 06:01:01 PM
1935: the General Staff of the Red Army is created.

This is more than a little confusing, as Suvorov states elsewhere that Tukhachevsky was already the Chief of Staff for the General Staff in 1927! (Succeeded by Shaposhnikov. Perhaps Suvorov is referring to a prior General Staff that was not of the Red Army, but of the Politburo or Kremlin or something like that?)

Its first Commander will be Marshal A.I. Egorov; succeeded by the time of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by Marshal Boris M. Shaposhnikov (developer of Soviet mobilization doctrine). Next will be Army General K. A. Meretskov, and then after he is promoted in early 1941, G.K. Zhukov.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 06:04:48 PM
February 2, 1935, from a Pravda article, The People's Commissar of Heavy Industry, Sergo Ordzhonikidze, "Our plants, our mines, our factories are now equipped with such outstanding technology that no other country has... Where did we get it from? We bought from the Americans, from the Germans, from the French, from the British, the most advanced technological achievements and then outfitted our enterprises. [...] They themselves still have their plants and mines equipped with nineteenth and early twentieth-century equipment."

Stalin has paid for this by stripping Russia of its natural resources, most dangerously its food which must regrow every year. But American engineers travel to the Soviet Union to design factories, and to mount, set, and test the imported cranes, tools, and equipment; while Stalin's slaves dig pits, pour concrete roads, and erect walls.

Americans have designed and built the most powerful industrial enterprise in the world, the Ural Railroad Car Factory (Uralvagonzavod), in the city of Nizhny Tagil. This will remain the largest enterprise in the world (confirmed by the Guiness Book of World Records) for sixty years. It can, of course, switch at any moment from producing railroad wagons, to producing tanks. During four years of war, it will produce thirty-five thousand T-34 tanks along with other weapons.

The Chelyabinsk tractor factory has been built in the Urals according to American designs and with American equipment, also of course able to switch at a moment's notice into mass producing tanks. During the war this will earn the nickname Tankograd! It not only builds T-34 tanks, but also the heavy IS and KV classes.

A third gigantic factory, Uralmash, is built not far away in Sverdlovsk; smaller but still among the top ten engineering factories in the world.

A city of metallurgists, Magnitogorsk, is built, as well as a huge plant, mainly for the output of steel armor.

One mustn't forget the soon-to-be-famous Stalingrad tractor factory, also of course built to switch to tank production immediately with no delays.

A network of steel casting factories must also be built to supply these world giants; but they are not the only such factories. Automobile, motor, aviation, and artillery factories are also being erected. The most powerful aviation factory in the world is built in the Far East, and with it the support city Komsomolsk-na-Amure -- both according to American designs, and furnished with the most modern American equipment.

Are these for improving the lives of Soviet workers, indirectly from their production, or directly by working in them? No; the most ordinary pots and pans, rubber boots, plates, the simplest furniture, cheapest clothing, nails, matches -- all become scarce. Huge lines form outside the stores. Stalin has been paying for his mega-industrialization with the living standard of his people.

But it could be worse: they could be in his gulags.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 06:08:08 PM
Did Stalin at least reward his own genius designers? Yes, often! -- by accusing and imprisoning entire groups of them for espionage (while he himself paid well in gold for industrial espionage elsewhere).

Among the prominent aviation, tank, and artillery designers sent to prison with their teams, are S.O. Korolev (future inventor of Sputnik), N.N. Polikarpov; A.N. Tupolev; R.L. Bartini; V.M. Myasishev; V.M Ptlyakov, and thousands of others.

Simply create the best bomber, or tank, or cannon, or engine, or submarine in the world, and they can go free! Fail, and they will go to the Dal'stroy gold mines, where inmates do not live too long. (For modern context, these are the gold mines where Bernie Sanders will sit around shirtless in a solidarity workers' meeting and break into song about how great it is that workers could come together to make such a place. That song will be "This Land is Your Land.")

Imprisoned engineers do not need to be paid millions for their work (not that they were being paid much to begin with); they do not need vacations; they do not even need good apartments, much less houses! They do need better food, but only relative to other inmates in the Soviet Union.

In return, they are highly motivated to create the best weapons in the world on short deadlines! -- and each of them has the best American, British, German, and other designs in each required field, whether bought or spied.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 06:09:07 PM
April 7, 1935, Stalin enacts a law making children 12 and older subject to the death penalty, formalizing the millions of Russian (not even counting neighboring nations') children he has slain so far whether directly or indirectly by various means (including starvation).

But he has a specifically practical reason for doing this: Soviet mega-industrialization requires millions of teenagers mobilized into labor reserves, basically slave labor for the factories, under military oversight. Defection from duty under military oversight earns a court-martial with a death sentence; and now this applies to teenagers.

(Suvorov suggests elsewhere that this starts in 1940 instead.)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 06:10:35 PM
1935: sometime this year, Stalin delivers his first of two pre-war speeches to graduates of military academies. The theme of this speech is that “cadres determine everything”, simply meaning that for great feats a nation needs good teams, led by good commanders. Once you have those, all problems can be solved.

As Stalin famously quips at another time, death also solves all problems: no man, no problem! Stalin is secretly planning the complete extermination of almost all the Communist hierarchy: state, party, technical, scientific, cultural, and all other leaders. Even the Soviet military which has been more or less immune from such purges (aside from the pre-GRU, for which such purges are something like regular foreplay!) will not be entirely spared this time. (More on that qualification later.)

Almost everyone listening to Stalin’s military academy speech will land in a torture chamber, a prison, and/or an execution hole within two years.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 06:13:04 PM
Speaking of military academy personnel landing in jail within two years, let's get that party started early!

July 2, 1935, Corps Commander G. Gay, head of the military history department at the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy, is arrested. The 3rd Cavalry Corps under his command had been the main assault and maneuver force in the battle near Waraw, fought by Tukhachevsky in 1920.

At this time, the Soviet Union does not have military history other than the Revolutionary Civil War, aside from brief and superficial reviews and forewords about anything preceding. The Civil War however is taught, and learned, meticulously.

Gay is arrested on the charge that he was not teaching military history "correctly", but he has been teaching only the prescribed and required three volume history -- prepared, and edited, by that shining and triumphant hero of the Civil War: the butcher of blood, Tukhachevsky!

In other words, Gay is arrested for being an ally of Tukhachevsky.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 06:19:29 PM
Well, that was a grim foreboding of future events... let's consider something a lot more awesome! And portentous in its own way...

August 1935: upon orders from the Commissar of Defense of the USSR, Voroshilov, seven of the light and 'obsolete' T-37As, first produced two years ago in 1933, start out from Leningrad. They are roughly comparable to the Nazi Panzer Ia, which entered production last year, perhaps a little worse in some capabilities -- except that the Panzer Ia still cannot, and never will be able to float.  :D

So, seriously, what does it mean that these tanks can float?

This 'obsolete' (cough) tank squad travels several tens of kilometers on caterpillar tracks; then sails along the river Luga through otherwise impenetrable weeds; then on to the river Shelon and Lake Ilmen. There, these 'obsolete' competitors to the PzIa find a storm on the lake. They cross the lake anyway, 55 kilometers, in 8 hours and 15 minutes. Next they come to the river Volkhov, the Novoladozhsky Canal, and the treacherous, ferocious river Neva.

Not one tank is lost on the way: all seven reach the finish line by the Petropavlov fortress in eleven days, crossing seven hundred kilometers -- including six hundred kilometers by floating on the water.

Not one tank lost; not one accident; not one breakdown. Try that, Panzer Ia! Try that, literally every tank in history afterward! Down to the publication of "Chief Culprit", this 1935 record has never been successfully repeated by anyone. No one has even come close to repeating it. No one has come distantly close (so to speak) to repeating it.

The Soviet T-37A will be produced until next year, 1936. Five years later, in 1941, these unique tanks will be obliterated from the Soviet historical statistics of tanks ready to fight upon the front line of Barbarossa.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 06:26:46 PM
Of course, there is little use for light armored amphibious tanks armed only with machine guns in a defensive war deep landward in the Soviet Union; there is nowhere to sail to, and they will only be murdered like little Panzer I's -- especially if caught by surprise by even their little Panzer II Nazi cousins.

If the little amphibious tanks are following their big Soviet brothers in an invasion, however, then the heavy tanks which punch open holes in the enemy lines, and the medium tanks and racecar tanks which blast through the line deep into the enemy backfield, also don't need the slow little tank with only bulletproof armor and a machine gun.

Not until they reach a water obstacle.

If two, three, five, ten such little tanks could keep on keeping on across the river during the night, and with a sudden attack from the rear disrupt the enemy, then the speedy autobahn tanks can race across to help and perhaps not be blow sky high by the totally reasonable detonation charges which any defender will have put on his bridges; followed by the medium tanks, and where possible by the heavy tanks.

But if the enemy blows the bridge pre-emptively, or if the attack goes where there are no bridges, then the little tanks that could, can cross the water with the amphibious infantry, and secure a bridgehead on the other side. After all, these tanks don't have to submerge themselves to cross (though plenty of other Soviet tanks can go as far as 1 km under water, at 1 m/s -- a standard design requirement eventually): they can float, which means they can lay down suppressing fire!

Upon the other shore, the exhausted amphibious infantry lack heavy weapons or much ammunition. In their first, most frightening minutes on shore, the presence of even one of a tank equivalent to a Panzer I would be far more valuable and important than ten more powerful tanks forced to remain, even providing their own covering fire, on their own side of the river: as wonderful as their own covering fire might be, they can provide no shelter for the amphibious infantry, whereas the little tank that could, might.

So, by 1936, next year, when their production ceases, how many T-37A tanks will Stalin have produced? The Soviet Union will flatly keep this secret for fifty years, but upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union old records will start coming to light. The current tally accounted for (by the publication of "Chief Culprit"), produced in four years from 1933 to 1936?

Two thousand six hundred and twenty-seven little lake-storm-worthy floating machine-gun tanks (per Karpenko, "Review of National Armor-tank Technology, 1905-1995", 1996, p.194)

They had no use except in the situation described, and a tank's operational life in peacetime is ten to twenty years, so five years after they cease production they would mostly still be operational. We can only make guesses about this now, because the Soviet government will simply erase their statistics off the record after the summer of 1941, but by itself, in its own numbers, it will match about 73% of Nazi tank strength on the day of Barbarossa.

The point of course is not that the Soviet Union will still have around 2600 tanks comparable to the Panzer I. The point is that they will still have that many fully amphibious tanks -- ready to use somewhere other than in defending against a Nazi invasion.

Or rather, they'll have significantly more fully amphibious tanks than that! (More on this later.)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 05, 2020, 06:30:20 PM
November 31, 1935: Stalin hasn't been focusing much on fighter production, but that doesn't mean competition among his aircraft designers hasn't been fierce (to keep from having a holiday counting trees at a very cool lumberjack facility somewhere).

Today, pilot Vladimir Kokkinaki sets an altitude world record in designer Nikolay Polikarpov's I-15 fighter, of 14,575 meters: 47,818 feet or 9.06 miles.

End of 1935: no future Allied or Axis power can still compete with the Soviet BT-28 tank models in armor, weaponry, and horsepower.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 07:58:08 AM
The Shadows of Death

Did I use this subtitle already? Well it applies much better to 1936 anyway, so there!  :P

Lots to cover in 1936, or lots of detail anyway for the topics. Let's get started with the usual thing: Soviet fighter and bomber airfleet training manuals continue to focus teaching one massive ground strike instead of dogfighting.

This will be particularly relevant this year.  ^-^

Before we get to why, let me set up another particular relevance this year...

January 1936, Marshal of the Soviet Union Tukhachevsky (appointed at age 42 back in 1935), visits Britain, France, and Germany, on unknown or unclear business.

This appears to be the trigger for Stalin to convince his inner circle to act at last against the butcher of blood. More on this later...
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 08:00:51 AM
We'll get back to the blood of the butcher later. First, let's talk about aircraft!

January 1936: the Soviet Union has produced enough heavy bombers to form the world's first aviation army.

Suvorov is unclear about whether this means an organizational container for multiple heavy bomber corps, or whether this includes other aircraft (which greatly outnumber the heavy bombers, of course.) Suvorov's direct implication is that by the end of 1936, if not already (or by March), the Soviet Union will be the first nation to have one thousand heavy bombers in operation. ("A fleet of a thousand heavy bombers is a strategist's dream, and this dream materialized first in the Soviet Union.")

Generals and politicians of all nations are disputing the doctrine of the Italian air power theorist General Giulio Douhet, a strong proponent of strategic bombing (who in 1910 theorized that heavy bomber aviation would play a decisive role in the next world war); but Stalin isn't disputing it. He just focuses more doctrinally on that one massive ground strike and close air support. But neither is Stalin resting on his heavy-bomber laurels...
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 08:04:14 AM
March 1936: the Soviet Union adds a second aviation army to its roster! A third will be added "a little later" (per Suvorov).

Plans are in place for rearming the first three aviation armies, currently using converted TB-1s and TB-3s, to add some of the newest bombers, and additionally deploying another three more air armies in the Byelorussia, Kiev, and Leningrad Military Districts (per Shumikhin, "Soviet Military Aviation", 1973, p.168) What newest bomber...?

Tupolev himself is working on the Maxim Gorky, an eight-engine bomber, one of which was produced as a show piece to fly over parades. Thirty-seven people died when it was rammed by a small escort plane (apparently on purpose, for which a theory arose that the pilot thought Stalin was on board.)

Pavel Sukhoy proposed a one-motor, long-distance bomber, the DB-1 ("dal'nyi bombardirovshik" literally long-distance bomber) with an incredibly wide wingspan, which when built by Tupolev's crew (and under a different designation, ANT-36), starting in 1933, made several trips across the North Pole to America, breaking some other long-distance records along the way. It could carry ten 10 to 20 kilograms of bombs internally, and ten aircraft were produced for a regiment (plus another eight for testing), but the Soviet Aviation service rejected it eventually and withdrew all models by 1937.

Sergei Kozlov has proposed the twelve-motor "Ghigant", which could lift several dozen tons of bombs, although eventually it was shunted into airmobile research for airlifting the heavy equipment of rifle divisions.

Bolkhovitinov redesigned the TB-3 itself as the DB-A, which in test models broke four world records and which, of course, could be produced on the same factory lines as the prior TB-3 without changing equipment, disrupting current workflow, or retraining engineers and fabricators, nor even retraining pilots, technicians, or ground engineers.

But then, a true, new miracle of aircraft design appears...!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 08:14:44 AM
In 1936, the Soviet Union develops the high-speed, high-altitude heavy bomber known as the TB-7, later renamed the Pe-8 (after the tragic death of its creator Vladmir Petliakov). Eventual Soviet Air Force Major General V. Shumikhin's evaluation (from "Soviet Military Aviation", p.218), "At altitudes above 10,000 meters the TB-7 could not be reached by the majority of existing fighters at that time, and the ceiling of 12,000 metres made it untouchable even by anti-aircraft artillery."

So, some European fighters could reach 10Km at the time, but as Air Force Major General P. Stefanovsky reports from his time as a test pilot for the bomber (in his memoir "Three Hundred Unknowns", 1968, p.83), "The multi-ton ship surpass all the best European fighters of its time, in its flight capabilities at an altitude of ten kilometers." So some fighters could get there, but couldn't do much than just 'be there'.

Airplane designer Viktor Shavrov, in his "History of Aircraft Design in the USSR, 1939-1950", 1988, p.162, will write of it, "A remarkable airplane. It was on the TB-7 that the first five-ton bombs were lifted, earlier than in the United States or in England."

Professor L. Kerber (deputy to legendary aircraft designer Tupolev, who would take over much of Petliakov's posthumous work to create famous bombers still in service in the 21st century), in "TU: Man and Airplane", 1973, p.143, describes it: "This machine had a strong defense system consisting of 20-mm cannons and 12.7-mm heavy machine guns. Bombs of the largest caliber could fit in the large compartment," at a time when Germany's best level bombers had to mount any 1800kg bombs outside on the airframe. (Or rather, that time will come later; they can't do that yet in 1936!) In an earlier article for "Trail in the Sky", 1971, p.202, he describes it as "a record-setting plane... No, we have every reason to assert that the TB-7 was more powerful than the American flying fortress B-17."

The TB-7 would be unreachable by the Germans for all practical purposes, until 1940 when the Luftwaffe started receiving mass deliveries of the Bf-109 E-3. Even then, Western historian John V. R. Taylor will report, in "Combat Aircraft of the World", p.1969, p.592, "At heights of 26,250 to 29,500 feet its speed surpassed the speed of German Me-109 [i.e. the Bf-109] and He-112 fighters."

Even after that, into 1942, the TB-7 will still be so superior to German airpower, that when Stalin sends Molotov to Britain and the United States as his personal envoy to talk grand strategy, the Western powers will naturally expect Molotov to travel by Siberia and through the Arctic Circle, avoiding Nazi held Europe from Norway to North Africa. But instead, Molotov will fly straight non-stop over occupied western Russia and across Nazi domination of Europe to Great Britain; thence to the United States in another non-stop hop; and back again the same way. Later, after Soviets capture Nazi records, designers will be curious about whether the Nazis knew how Molotov was traveling and his route, and will discover that the converted passenger-bomber had not even been tracked. Simply put, the German anti-aircraft defenses not only could not take down the TB-7, they could not even detect its presence in their territory!

Captain E. Pussep (later Colonel) will pilot Molotov on that trip in 1942, along with other cargo over Germany many times; and will boast in Gallay's "Third Dimension" (1973, p.330): "The anti-aircraft guns reach at such altitudes with hardly any aim, if at all. A fighter plane at such height can act only like a sleepy fly. Who can do anything to me?"

The TB-7 is able to defeat the low-oxygen performance problem of high altitudes by installing a fifth engine to work as its supercharger. Turbochargers (using spare exhaust gasses to run compressors for providing the oxygen at proper densities for engine operation) had been successfully used before in record-setting airplanes; but doing so had damaged the engines, due to the corrosive exhaust gasses passing over engine components at over one thousand degrees Celsius while outside temperatures might be sixty degrees below freezing. Vladmir Petliakov discovered a solution: bring oxygen along in tanks and have an internal fifth engine supply it to the other engines! (Naturally this was kept as a military secret.)

Vaclav Nemecek will report, in "The History of Soviet Aircraft from 1918", 1986, p.134, "This machine had an incredibly long life. In the fifties, one could still encounter [some of] these planes on polar routes, where they were used for transporting cargo."
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 08:23:49 AM
Thus in 1936, Stalin possesses an unstoppable heavy bomber, the finest in the world, not to be surpassed in the whole World War to come.

All Stalin has to do is build one thousand such bombers; invite delegates of all nations to a testing area out in the steppes; glass a hill upon his command with at least one thousand tons of bombs (one kiloton, the measure of a nuclear age); and then observe offhandedly that anyone who invades him will suffer this fate; and by the way, whoever wishes to surrender to Stalin's control as Soviet republics can do so now and save time later. The end, period.

Stalin needs no precision: he is dropping the equivalent of a proto-nuke every day on his target -- until next year when he can drop two small nukes as his bomber capacity increases.

Are you trying to produce enough aircraft to stop a thousand-bomber raid at that height? Your factory goes away tomorrow.

You wish to hit our airbases first? Too bad: no one else has strategic aviation, and won't by November 1940 either! Nor will they after 1940, because the moment Stalin realizes they are setting up a factory, he zergs it with a bomber rush, declaring checkmate before the chess match even begins!

Stalin does not even need one thousand TB-7 bombers to drop a thousand tons of bombs on any target; several hundred bombers will suffice; the other several hundred are, of course, ready at any time to go drop their own one thousand tons on the same day. Ten days of that equals twenty kilotons, equal to the Hiroshima bomb.

And now, gentlemen, let us drink to eternal peace under Soviet global rulership over all property and means of production!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 08:31:25 AM
Maslov's article "Dreadnought", in "M-Hobby" magazine, #5-6, 1997, pages 9,11, reports that Stalin prepared an order for one thousand TB-7 bombers to be prepared by November 1940. The initial launch order would have started serial production in eight lots for a total of fifty-one aircraft at Kazan Aircraft Factory #142, which had modern equipment, purchased in the United States (and probably set up by American contractors). This would be a test-run for teething out any production problems; the factory at this time has the capability to produce up to one hundred TB-7s a year. Other factories would have switched over to similar amounts annually to meet the schedule.

But Stalin doesn't signed the order, despite authorizing the preparation of the order.

To be more specific, Stalin signs the order later; then cancels the order soon afterward. Then signs again; then cancels again -- four times in total! (This can be found for example in Ozerov's "Tupolev's Sharaga", 1971, p.47. Suvorov doesn't quote specific dates for whatever reason.)

Each time the industry can put out three or four aircraft before the cancellation; each time everything has to be started again. (A tractor or railcar factory can switch to mass producing tanks a lot more easily than aircraft-works can switch over to other aircraft!) The last major component installed, as might be expected, is the fifth engine with its portable oxygen distribution system; but each time Stalin cancels, only one aircraft, on average, will be that far along, the others being finished out quickly without the all-important fifth engine. (Per Ratkin's "Mir Aviatsii", (aka "World Aviation), #1, 1996, p.15, only four will be produced before Barbarossa with the fifth engine.)

On June 22, 1941, the TB-7 series will not be in production; Stalin will finally order its production and stick with it. But by then the amazing bomber will be a little obsolescent: belt-driven superchargers on each engine will supersede a fifth motor (so that fighters, for example, will be able to operate at such heights, even though still not very well until jet aircraft reach the speeds necessary to keep sufficient air-volume going over their wings -- another reason why heavy bombers perform generally better at high altitude than smaller craft!)

Clearly Stalin wanted a strategic air fleet -- in fact before mid-1936 he'll have two air armies and a third on the way (and another three on the way after that)! But why does he delay, and why keep canceling the TB-7? Perhaps Stalin couldn't get the numbers he wanted by November 1940? Eventually of course no, because he kept delaying and canceling production, but what about in 1936? Production of heavy bombers is as perfected by this time in the Soviet Union, as Ford's automobile factories had become in the United States. Millions are dying of hunger in the Soviet Union, but they lead the world in production of heavy bombers! Is the TB-7 or at least its innovative engines too difficult and new in design to produce in the quantities required?

The TB-7 (Pe-8) designer Petliakov is certain, at this time, that Soviet industry could fill the order. So is Alexander Mikulin, creator of its engines. So is Tupolev's deputy Kerber, and other Soviet experts such as E. Shekonov, S. Eger, S. Leshcenko, and E. Stoman the chief engineer for the factory that produces the first models, as well as I. Nezval the head technologist for that factory. Petliakov's design peers, Shavrov and Tupolev, agreed that one thousand could be produced by November 1940. Their confidence is based not only on their own competency, and not only on the assurance of being gulag'd and/or shot if they mis-estimated (or couldn't get it done upon order), but also from the Soviet Union's record of strategic bomber design dating back before the Soviet Union itself and indeed before World War I! (A point on which Suvorov expresses great national pride.) After all, the TB-7 has been designed to be the successor of the epic record-setting TB-3 strategic bomber, which can be produced at an average of 3 per day. (The TB-3 will eventually break its own previous world-record production rate, with 819 produced between 1932 and 1938 when the series will be ended.)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 09:18:06 AM
When no one threatened the Soviet Union, Stalin took bread from dying children (by selling off the grain) to produce, among other things, one thousand heavy bombers -- along with all the support necessary for them (remember Alexander's most-nervous-men vs Tukhachevsky!): air academies, pilot schools, technical schools, air bases, learning centers, test sites; theory of their military use is developed, combat experience is obtained in local conflicts and with grandiose training exercises; all the personnel for any two or three armies (more specifically for three armies plus another three on the way), from command staff to machine-gunners, from navigators to engineers, to photo-analysts; not only pilots, but meteorologists, aviation medics -- all this, and everything more, has been done already for the existing heavy bomber fleet!

But when Hitler appears nearby, not only does Stalin stutter on producing the revolutionary TB-7, but in November 1940, the original target month for finishing one thousand TB-7 aircraft -- Stalin will order the Soviet air armies to be disbanded!  :o :o :o

Five corps and three separate divisions will remain on the day of Barbarossa, but they won't be organized as strategic offensive weapons -- and indeed the strategic bombing fleet was never, ever going to be a defensive weapon aside from perhaps deterrence (for which Stalin didn't use the TB-7, keeping its existence as a bomber as secret as possible).

While TB-7s would have been useful in a defensive war, that still would have been as an untouchable strategic weapon against civilian targets to destroy Germany's infrastructure while their armies chewed through, and choked on, any massive Soviet defenses. A war of attrition would be deadly for the Nazis; entirely winnable for the Soviets. But Stalin will (eventually) choose not to produce a TB-7 fleet.

Airplane designer General Alexander Yakolev, a personal advisor to Stalin, will later (in his memoir "Life's Task", 1973, pp.168, 182), recall how Major-General A. I. Philin, the chief of an Research and Development center for the Soviet Air Force, argues with Stalin in favor of the necessity of producing a fleet of TB-7s -- and does so n the presence of many other people, which is tantamount to suicide! "Philin demanded [the fleet], a few others supported him. In the end, Stalin conceded, saying, 'OK, let it be your way, though you have not convinced me.'" This will be once of the times Stalin orders their production run to start, and then later cancels it before more than two or three can be completed; whereupon some other brave soul will talk him into it again.

Stalin can order millions of the best peasants exterminated -- no problem, no second thoughts. Purge the Red Army command staff? No problem. Sign a pact with Hitler?! No doubts! -- rather a record-breaking signature of gleeful excitement! (We'll be getting to that later.)

Deciding whether or not to produce a (new!) fleet of currently unbeatable super-bombers with the money earned by starving millions to death...? A very difficult decision. One Stalin reverses nine times.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 09:27:51 AM
Stalin obviously wants those bombers, but keeps waffling away and eventually decides solidly against them. Why?

Suvorov offers a few reasonable guesses, to which I'll add a few more, all mutually reinforcing, compiled together below.

1.) A strategic deterrent only works where the deterrent can reach; and a whole other hemisphere beyond that reach could start devising effective defenses before Soviet republics arrive in range to hold populations hostage.

2.) Relatedly, past history even in 1936 (and certainly confirmed going forward), indicates that strategic aviation sets off an arms race to defeat the aviation, which will eventually beat the bombers unless enough of a war is already going on, on the ground, to hamper such research and development. The bomber won't forever get through, despite the famous inter-war maxim otherwise, and there are limits to how far bomber technology can outpace interceptor tech.

3.) Relatedly again, Stalin was himself a big fan of rocket technology, so would have understood that rocket missiles would soon be the most cost-effective way of ruining his bomber fleet, within a few decades. And he would not be able to terrorize the world to put itself under him within a few decades; not sufficiently enough to offset the costs of keeping the bomber fleet up to date. (This is why missiles steadily replace bombers eventually as the strategic deterrent weapon of choice.)

4.) On a related cost basis, by 1936 Stalin has already been murdering his own people to set up the infrastructure to create ground armies. You can go get more food from other people (and reduce your own mouths to feed, in the worst case) by using land armies. You can't very effectively do that with a bomber fleet, which at best threatens to (or actually does) destroy the enemy's infrastructure for processing and distributing (if not growing) food. Land armies can and sometimes do damage that, too, but more selectivity for sparing such things is possible. (Also land armies deliver manpower locally for recovering damaged infrastructure as quickly as possible.)

5.) This arrives at the most well-attested reason for why Stalin would keep delaying and canceling strategic bomber production: Soviet military doctrine has been focusing on close air support for invading armies since at least 1929. On that basis, strategic air power is a waste of time, resources, and manpower, which could be creating, distributing, and supporting close support aircraft instead.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 09:36:44 AM
While there were strong proponents for this shadow of death, and obvious strategic benefits (enough to sink unthinkable money earned from unspeakable tragedies into creating and supporting three air armies of them already), there had always been opponents to strategic air aviation, and powerful ones. These include all four Red Army General Staff Commanders, from the General Staff's inception last year (1935) onward: Egorov, Shaposhnikov, Meretskov, and last (before the Nazi invasion) but far from least Zhukov himself. Many important aviation generals agreed, including P.V. Rychagov, F.K. Azhanukhin, and F.P Polynin. People's Commissar for Defense Timoshenko, the chief political leader of the military (under Stalin himself), also opposed the TB-7. Designer and advisor Yakovlev, already mentioned, himself opposed it avidly. Beyond these, almost all Soviet military theorists, starting with Triandafillov, opposed strategic bombing.

The chief argument against spending resources on heavy bombers, however, comes from Brigade Commander Alexander Nikolaevich Lapchinsky, the leading Soviet theorist of air warfare, author of several brilliant works on the theory of military aviation. He agreed, simply put, that bombing the enemy's resources and workers and means of production, is good; but taking control of them is even better!  :D Similarly, bombing an enemy's roads and bridges makes excellent sense, unless military doctrine dictates invading the enemy; then you don't bomb them but take them over intact -- ideally by airborne assault to secure them from enemy destruction, and to hamper the enemy using the routes themselves! Do you wish to demoralize enemy populations? Strategic bombing does this, no one will deny; but advancing your troops will do moreso, with other benefits besides!

Thus Lapchinsky has been recommending to Stalin to direct all efforts of the Red Army, not to undermine the military and economic capabilities of the enemy, but to capture and use them.

Thus the objective of Soviet aviation must be to open the road for the Red Army and support their rapid advancement.

He also, by the same theory, has been staunching recommending starting a war with a sudden crushing attack by Soviet aviation on enemy air bases, without giving them a declaration to prepare by. The speed and power of the strike must be strong enough to create Soviet air supremacy within the first few hours or even practically a "blue sky" situation: no enemy air power, including interceptors for future close air support and airmobile attacks. For this work, Soviet aviation needs light, maneuverable planes, so that pilots can come close to find his specific targets and strike them precisely without hitting his own troops.

If we plan to blow up our neighbor's house, in other words, we need a crate of dynamite -- no doubt! But if we only want to kill our neighbor and take over his house, we need smaller and more precise tools. Soviets need a plane that will always be based nearby, on any dirt airfield, on call from the front line, able to return quickly to rearm and refuel and strike again.

Could you not build as many of such planes, such as Petliakov's own Pe-2 (a small, fast, maneuverable, twin-engine dive bomber), as you need for this strategy, and also a fleet of Pe-8s? No, taught Lapchinsky, impossible: all resources, all efforts, all personnel, must be concentrated on achieving and supporting the central goal of the Soviet Air Force: obtaining at least air superiority, ideally air supremacy or even air totality, through a sudden attack on enemy air bases. Once you have that, there is no need to bomb cities and factories.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 09:39:19 AM
Stalin tried to have both strategies for a long time, up to this year (1936); then will try over nine changes of mind to go back to having both strategies.

But eventually he will make his choice, and commit to it: which air doctrinal focus works best with his overall strategic doctrine? Close air support; not strategic bombing: the same iron logic as his chief socialist rival, Hitler, who never got around to developing strategic air power to begin with! -- thus he will, incidentally, fail the Battle of Britain when all he can try to do is use tactical support for strategic bombing purposes, without his invading armies.

Hitler will not need to destroy the bridges of Paris, nor Paris itself with all its treasures (and resources and means of production). He will not need to destroy the shipyards of Brest; the tank and artillery factories of Cherbourg, Chaumont, and Bourges; the airplane factories of Amsterdam and Toulouse. He captures them more-or-less intact, to strengthen the military-industrial might of the Third Reich. For his blitzes, he needed small dive bombers and (eventually) fighter-bombers: a single engine Ju-87, or a dual-engine Ju-88 (which can double as a good level-bomber, too. But not strategic.)

Don't worry, though! -- Stalin has plenty of use planned for those increasingly aging record-achieving bombers already produced: as airmobile and parachute assault craft. In Byelorussia this year, a training operation drops 1800 rangers to be followed by another 5700 airmobile troops with heavy weapons. Later the same year, the Moscow Military District will airland the entire 84th Rifle Division (more than ten thousand troops) intact. The Field Rules of the Red Army for 1936 (PU-36), Article 7, states that the use of airborne assault troops can only be made in the course of offensive operations and only in conjunction with regular troops advancing against the enemy.

1936: Hitler, planning an offensive war, creates an airborne assault arm to strike deep into an enemy's unprotected rear area by surprise. Starting from nothing this year, these will number 4000 by September 1939 when Hitler invades Poland. Mussolini's militant Marxist-socialist fascists, perhaps coincidentally, will be the only other nation to develop airborne troops before WW2; on the day Hitler invades Poland, Italy will have seven hundred trained parachutists.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 09:44:59 AM
Summer 1936, so does Stalin have particular ideas about how to achieve his desired close-air support role, for which he is (barely) willing to sacrifice a strategic bombing superiority dating back to the early days of flight in pre-Soviet Russia?!

Yes he does!

Aviation designer Viktor Shavrov, part of Sukhoy's design team, recalls (in his "History of Aircraft Design in the USSR, 1938-1950", p.45), that during this season Stalin gathers the design team at one of his dachas, greets them with hospitality, no doubt reminds them tacitly if not explicitly that they are not currently under arrest in a gulag somewhere, and then gives them the task to construct an airplane under the codename "Ivanov".

Many other groups are at this dacha, too, and will work simultaneously in competing for project "Ivanov", such as the groups of Tupolev, Neman, Polikarpov, Grigorovich, Petlyakov, Arkhangelsky, Myasishchev, Mikoyan and Gurevich, Lavochkin, and Grushin. There is no airplane yet, the designers have not even picked up their pencils, but Stalin has already told almost every Soviet aircraft design team what he expects from it, and what the name of the plane will be: the Ivanov. Why that name?

"The codename 'Ivanov'," explains Shavrov, "was given according to Stalin's order. It was his telegraph address." What Shavrov means, is that during his reign (both secretly as the mere Party secretary, and more overtly later), Stalin uses a special codename, "Ivanov". Sometimes a minister, ambassador, general, admiral, or marshal, would receive a cable, which would begin simply with "Comrade Ivanov orders..." The highest-ranking leaders of the Soviet Union know that this order must be obeyed at any cost, quickly, precisely, and within the indicated deadline. There was only one price to pay for an imprecise or untimely fulfillment of "Comrade Ivanov"'s orders: one's life.

In turn, every high ranking minister and officer could at any moment write a letter or telegram and send it simply to the address: "Moscow. Ivanov." Bypassing all steps, without delays, the message would be laid directly on Stalin's desk.

Not only has Stalin personally issued the order to design this aircraft, he names it after his most authoritative and deadly codename! -- the only airplane in the history of Soviet aviation to be given this designation. The nickname itself is a shadow of death, in Stalin's personal context.

Polikarpov's presence should be noted. He has been designing and building record-breaking Soviet fighters, including this year the I-16, the first mass produced high-speed monoplane in the world, and he is already hard at work designing more powerful machines. There is a race for the best fighter for a next world war already on, and every minute is worth its weight in blood. But Stalin orders him to drop all his work on the creation of the next fighter, and to concentrate on creating the "Ivanov" instead.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 09:50:50 AM
So what is this "Ivanov" design, to which Stalin gives his own deadliest name, which he instructs all his best designers to compete for?

Stalin explains his demand thus: "samolyot chistogo neba", a clean sky aircraft.

He means he expects this aircraft not only to operate in a sky clean of enemy fighters, but to clean the sky of enemy fighters.

How? By record speed, record altitude, record range, maneuverability, some combination?

No, no, a speed of 375 km/h near the ground will be fine, and let us say 460 km/h up in the sky. Those are good speeds, very good speeds, but record-breaking performance is not required this time. Stalin only demands durability, firepower, and the simplicity for any "Ivan" to fly it -- and for Soviet factories to mass produce this warplane in numbers surpassing all warplanes of all types in all nations of the world combined. Enough numbers for every Ivan in Russia to have one, so to speak.

Specifically, he is planning to produce one hundred to one hundred fifty thousand of the Ivanovs.

Sukhoy's biographer L.M. Kuzmina explains (in "Chief Designer Pavel Sukhoy", 1983, p.57), "Stalin formulated the task in the following way: the plane must be very simple to produce, so that there could be as many planes as there are people in our country with the name Ivanov." Stalin plans to produce the largest series of planes in human history: a series of light bombers, simple to fly, literally as numerous as the mobile horsemen of Genghis Khan. Their goal to survive? -- help wipe out all enemy aircraft on the ground with a surprise attack against any and every enemy nation. They are explicitly not expected to fly in a sky with enemy airplanes; so they are not designed to fly in a sky with enemy airplanes. They must be designed to destroy all enemy aircraft before the aircraft reach the sky.

Pavel Ospovich Sukhoy will fulfill Stalin's demands to the highest level among the competing teams, preparing a simple airplane with powerful weapons that can be mass produced to give support to advancing waves of tanks and paratroops, creating an air terror above territories rendered defenseless against them.

Meanwhile, Stalin starts training as many pilots as Ivanovs in Russia! They have simple training, to fly in clear skies, decent weather, against no enemy planes. Take off, make a few adjustments in course perhaps, pick some targets on the ground, blast, turn around, fly home, land in a field (no airbase required), make a report while your craft is reloaded -- so close to the enemy that they do not need to spend much time refueling -- and off again. No need for acrobatics, no need to fly at night, no need to navigate well or to adjust to new situations.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 09:54:43 AM
The question will now arise: why would Stalin's plan be any better than Tukhachevsky's plan to build fifty to one hundred thousand tanks?

1.) These planes will be useful, while the baby training tanks of 1928 would not have been.

2.) Stalin has made great strides in hyper-industrialization since then (at murderous cost to his civilian population).

3.) Stalin understands and expects what will be necessary to have this close-support swarm. Much of the underlying infrastructure has already been produced for the strategic air fleet; it can be adjusted, even more effectively, for this close-air support fleet.

4.) Stalin doesn't dream of building this fleet in one year. Or even in five years. He'll have a reasonable number ready to go in June 1941 (along with more complex CAS craft), but only a drop compared with a hundred thousand. He only intends to start mass producing the "Ivanov" (and successor craft) once he goes to war. So they won't be sitting around doing nothing as a drag on the economy; they'll be going directly to helping seize and secure supplies and means of production.

This does raise the curious question of whom he intends to surprise-attack with so many simple blue-sky rocket pack swarms, after he goes to war...!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 09:55:39 AM
March 5, 1936: Stalin, from his article in Pravda: "History tells us that when any state wants to go to war with any other, it will start by looking for borders across which it can reach the borders of the country it wants to attack."

Four years later, Stalin will have conquered and removed the nations between himself and German held territory, even between himself and East Prussia.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 09:57:32 AM
April 17, 1936, a very different shadow of death looms nearer...

N.I. Muralov, who has been since 1917 the commander of the Moscow Military District (politically the pre-eminent MD in the Soviet Union for obvious reasons), is arrested. This is a shocking development: it was under Muralov's cover that Lenin and Trotsky shifted the government they had captured in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) to Moscow in 1918!

This is the start of Stalin putting pressure on the remaining old guard appointed by Trotsky or even Lenin to high positions, heretofore untouchable. Muralov's career goes back to the time of Tukhachevsky's appointment to command of the 1st Army of the East (based in Moscow) after his secret meeting with Lenin and Trotsky.

June 9, 1936, Division Commander D. Shmidt (one of the trained German Communist commanders) is arrested. He is a friend of Tukhachevsky.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 10:02:18 AM
July 18, 1936, as the preliminary to Stalin's Great Purge of the military is heating up, a radio station in the Spanish Morocco city of Ceuta, transmits several time this sentence: "The skies above all of Spain are clear."

This is the code to begin the militant uprising against the Spanish Republic. The Spanish Civil War has begun.

At first General José Sanjurjo leads the uprising; after his death General Francisco Franco takes over.

While around 80% of the military will eventually join the coup, at first the troops have to come home from the Spanish colonies, especially from North Africa. Hitler allocates twenty of his new Ju-52 military-transport planes, which for three months make continuous trips from Morocco to Spain and back (per Vodopianov's "Friends in the Sky", 1971, p.147.)

More specifically, the author of "Luftwaffe's Wings" will write on p.20, "Between July 28, 1936, and the end of August of the same year, the three-engine Junker Ju-52 aircraft transferred a total of 7350 soldiers and officers, as well as some military units and machine guns, from Africa to Spain. The planes made 461 flights, often with over-limit cargo. An additional 5455 troops were transferred during 324 such flights in September; then 1157 more troops during 83 flights in October. Later on, Hitler noted that 'Franco needs to erect a monument, honoring the Ju-52 as the aircraft responsible for his victory in Spain!'"

This is the first mass transport of troops by air in history, saving the uprising in its most critical early stage.

After this (per Maiski in "Spain, 1918-1972: A Historical Sketch", 1975, p.210), "Eighty percent of the armed forces -- 120,000 soldiers and officers and a significant part of the civilian guard -- found themselves on the side of the uprising."

Mussolini and Salazar, the dictators of Italy and Portugal, will also be aiding Franco. Altogether Italy will send 150,000 soldiers and officers; Morocco 90,000; Germany, 50,000; Portugal 20,000; including 2700 artillery guns; 1150 tanks and armored cars; and 1650 airplanes. (Per JMH #7, 1986, p.85)

Does Stalin remain on the sideline? Not at all! But his contributions will be explained later.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 10:04:40 AM
August 14, 1936, Corps Commander Primakov is arrested. He had been under Tukhachevsky's command back in 1920, in the campaign to occupy Poland, and had survived Tukhachevsky's own purges by his faithfulness to Stalin and to Tukhachevsky. (He will later be tried and executed at the same time as Tukhachesky.)

August 15, 1936, one day later, Brigade Commander M.O. Zyuk, leader of the 25th Chapaev Division, is arrested.

August 20, 1936, Corps Commander Putna is arrested, another future co-defendant with Tukhachevsky.

September 2, 1936, Corps Commander S.A. Turovsky is arrested.

September 7, 1936: although Stalin is in the middle of an extended waffle about whether to keep expenses going on the legendary Soviet (and even Russian) strategic bomber legacy, that sure isn't stopping designers from continuing to work on two-engine medium-sized level bombers meanwhile! Today, Illyushin's DB-3 model raises 2000 kilograms to an altitude of 11,005 meters. This record (among others) is officially registered by the International Aeronautical Federation (French acronym FAI), and will remain unbeaten throughout World War II. The record will only be beaten in 1946, and not by any similar two-engine bomber, nor even by the American four-engine B-17, but by the B-29 Superfortress!

September 25, 1936, Division Commander Y.V. Sablin is arrested.

October 1936, Trotsky, from his Bulleten Oppozitsii (Opposition Bulletin), #52-53, p.42, after evaluating Stalin's cooperation with Weimar Germany and then his support of Hitler in various ways, including in the recent elections: "Without Stalin there would have been neither Hitler nor the Gestapo!" This is a restatement of his July 1933 conclusion.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 10:09:58 AM
October 15, 1936: Stalin has sent V.A. Antonov-Ovseenko as general consul of the Soviet Union in Barcelona, to help the Republic. Antonov-Ovseenko is one of the original surviving members of Lenin's gang, who stormed the Winter Palace in 1917 and personally arrested the provisional government; whereupon, having helped overthrow the legal government, he got a seat in the illegal government recognized by none of Russia's allies at the time but only by her enemies, Germany and Austria.

So how does Ovseenko help the Republic? He begins by recommending that the Republic should hide its gold reserves in Moscow.

Roman Khrapachevskiy, in his article "The Spanish Gold of the Kremlin", for "Russkiy Focus", #7, May 14, 2001, gives more details. By 1936, Spain's gold reserves amounted to more than 600 tons, most of it stored in the cellars of the Bank of Spain in Madrid. After consultations with Soviet representatives (meaning Ovseekno and his operatives), the Republic approached Moscow with the request to "accept for storage" the gold of the Republic of Spain. The official reason for this was the threat of of the mutineer's takeover of Madrid earlier this month. Today, prime minister Francisco Largo Caballero, and treasury minister Juan Negrin, approach the Soviet Government with the suggestion to "accept for storage" more than five hundred tons of gold. Stalin, the former professional bank robber, immediately orders the evacuation of the Spanish gold reserve. From the minutes of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the VKP(b) (the "workers communist party of bolsheviks"), meeting on October 17, 1936, "Paragraph 56. Comrade Rosenberg's issue. [Note the Red German in the Politburo.] Determination: to authorize Comrade Rosenberg to reply to the Spanish Government that we are ready to accept the gold reserve for storage, and that we approve the evacuation of this gold by our ships returning from [Spanish] ports."

After the political decision is made the operation begins in full swing: on October 20, the cable with the approval will come to Spain, and the gold will be loaded onto Soviet ships from the 22nd to the 25th, in Cartegena. Total cargo, 510 tons of gold.

The Soviet Union will treat the gold as a down-payment on Soviet weapon systems and other aid sent to help the Republic; but once the Republic ceases to exist, Stalin will keep the gold. (Or rather, use it for his own purposes.)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 10:16:22 AM
Meanwhile, Stalin has appointed Jan Karlovich Berzin to the position of chief military advisor for the Spanish Republican Army. Berzin commands the 4th Directorate of the General Staff of the Red Army -- in effect he's in charge of the current version of the pre-GRU, the Soviet military intelligence organization. He's an incredibly high-ranking officer to be sent on such a mission!

According to "Russkiy Focus" #7, 1971, p.77, overall Berzin oversees the transfer and deployment in Spain of 772 pilots, 351 tankers, 100 artillerists, 2065 commanders of various ranks, 222 general military advisors, and 204 interpreters. (Suvorov's accounting gives the impression that these are all part of the 2065 commanders, e.g. 351 tank commanders. However, they don't add up to 2065. It's possible he means that 2065 troops were sent, the balance other than these being 416 officers of various ranks, but mistranslated into English. Hard to tell.)

Additionally the NKVD, the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, and other administrations, will contribute several hundred more Soviet diplomats, intelligence and counterintelligence officers, saboteurs, journalists, agitators, party workers, and military industry specialists.

The total number of volunteers, including civilian specialists, will be around three thousand (per "History of the Second World War, 1939-1945", vol.2, pp.54-55); plus 648 warplanes; 347 tanks; 60 armored cars; 1186 artillery weapons; 20,486 machine guns; and 497,813 rifles.

Per A.P. Yaremchuk's "Russian Volunteers in Spain, 1936-1939", 1983, p.12 (Russian edition), Republican Spain received shells, cartridges, bombs, military equipment, food supplies, fuel, lubricants, and medications from the Soviet Union. Soviet merchant ships sailed out of Black Sea ports, crossing the entire Mediterranean (with no military naval bases or naval support) to reach blockaded Spanish shores, followed by Italian and German airplanes and warships, which of course reported their positions to Franco's blockading warships, airplanes, and subs.

Aside from the chief of the pre-GRU himself, Stalin also sends the most promising lieutenants, captains, and colonels of the Red Army, already noted by Stalin for promotion pursuant to their performance in Spain. Suvorov says the majority of them will quickly rise in rank after their return from Spain. For some examples, in just a few years (starting rank unreported) R.Y. Malinovsky will become a Marshal of the Soviet Union and the Minister of Defense; K.A. Meretskov will also become a Marshal and the Deputy People's Commissar of Defense; N.G. Kuznetsov will become the chief Admiral of the Soviet fleet, Minister of the Navy, and a member of the Supreme High Command throughout the coming Great Patriotic War. In addition to over twenty future Marshals of the Soviet Union, Army Generals, and Colonel-Generals, over forty of those who fought in Spain later became Lieutenant-Generals, Vice Admirals, Major-Generals, and Rear Admirals. (Suvorov provides a further footnoted list of examples; some relevant names mentioned elsewhere in his material include N.N. Voronov, Chief Marshal of Artillery; F.A. Rychagov, Lieutenant-General, head of the Central Command of the Red Army's Air Force, deputy of the People's Commissar for Defense; I.I. Proskurov, Lieutenant-General of the Air Force, and the next to last chief of the pre-GRU; P.I. Batov, Army General, after commanding the 9th Special Rifle Corps (the first Soviet amphibious assault corps); and A.I. Rodimtsev, a Hero of the Soviet Union in Spain, cavalry Colonel transferring into command of the 5th Airborne Assault Brigade, heroic Guards commander in defense of the final Soviet territory of the Volga at Stalingrad, eventually a Colonel-General.)

As just noted, eventual Chief Artillery Marshal N.N. Voronov fought in Spain as a young officer, later being one of the first to interrogate F. Paulus in the ruins of Stalingrad, the first German field general to be taken prisoner in history. Suvorov is, and remains, a bit of a fanboy for Voronov, but while reading his memoir for school ("Serving in the Military", 1963, p.80) a certain statement from Voronov shocked and wounded him: "The [1936] events in Spain deeply upset the Soviet people. Very crowded meetings and gatherings of workers took place in Moscow and other cities. Soviet people expressed their brotherly solidarity with the Spanish people, who were fighting against wild bands of fascists. During a short time workers and farmers donated millions of rubles to raise funds for the Spanish fighters."

Three years before this, in 1933, the Soviet Union had been ravaged by a famine terrible even by famous Soviet standards, leading to the eating of cadavers and cannibalistic murder. The Soviet people could not and so did not hold meetings and collect aid for their brothers, sisters, and neighbors were dying of hunger by the millions, while Stalin exported grain abroad by the millions of tons. In 1936, slave labor flourishes in the Soviet Union with millions of people in concentration camps and prisons, and the Soviet people could not express sorrow or outrage for them. But Stalin expects and encourages them to work up politically correct outrage for the Spanish, and to demonstrate their ideological commitment to the hope of communism someday after Stalin, by donating what few kopeks they have managed to secure under Stalin.

During the course of the war, several thousand children of Spanish Communists will be transported to the Soviet Union, trained to become secret fighters in Latin America and Africa for exporting military revolution and overthrow of regimes. One group will be assigned to protect, and to spy on, Fidel Castro for example. This tragic enslavement and brainwashing of children, donated by (or stripped from) their parents to the Soviet state, could be considered standard Soviet behavior; but even foreign volunteers arriving in Spain to support world revolution willingly, will be quickly enslaved by the system! Immediately upon arrival in Spain, their passports and all other documents are taken away from them, making the volunteer an armed slave, for whom escape was virtually impossible. Their papers will tend to be burned in warehouses and the transports caught in the line of fire, and yet the documents will miraculously survive these disasters to arrive (without their owners' knowledge of course) back in the Soviet military intelligence network to serve as a basis for thousands of fake papers from fifty-four nations.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 10:18:42 AM
End of 1936: by now, standard Soviet BT tanks can cross deep riverbeds. This is aside from 2627 T-37A tanks which can float across riverbeds (and long lakes, if necessary, during severe storms, as well as ride rapids!)

No future Allied or Axis nation can still field a tank that compares in armor, weaponry, and horsepower to the standard 'speed' tanks. This year, however, the T-37A floating tank stops being produced.

It has been replaced by the T-38, a significantly better floating tank!  :D Stalin will produce 1375 of these until 1939 (per Karpenko's "Review of National Armor-Tank Technology, 1905-1995", 1996, p.200). Kremlin historians will call this tank obsolete as well, on the day of Barbarossa, but how could tanks only two to five years old be obsolete when the only comparable tanks anywhere in the world are five to eight year old models of the same nation?! They will still be totally useless when Hitler invades, of course, but they are not designed to fight an invasion.

Most of these 4002 floating tanks will still be operational on June 22, 1941, equivalent or even slightly superior in numbers to the total invasion force of the Nazi tanks.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 02:09:49 PM
1937: Soviet fighter and bomber airfleet training manuals continue to focus teaching one massive ground strike instead of dogfighting.

1937: The Third Five-Year Plan begins, scheduled to end in 1941. Compared to the prior two Plans, this one focuses on vastly increased quantity and quality of military equipment, even though since 1927 21,573 warplanes have already been produced. (per Shumikhin, "Soviet Military Aviation, 1917-1941", 1986, p.157)

Yes, you read that correctly. A little over TWENTY-ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED warplanes have been produced in the past ten years. Averaging, obviously, 2157.3 per year, with rate variations.

Remember once again, Alexander's most-nervous-men vs Tukhachevsky's tank-spam plan. This isn't anywhere near the rate he wanted for (very crappy) tanks in one year (that was 50,000, ideally 100,000); but as his senior officer politely observed, his ideas and numbers weren't wrong -- by the standards of Soviet military doctrinal plans -- just vaguely reasoned.

Now keep in mind also the logistic lesson from the rejection of Tukhachevsky's tank-spam plan: what do those 21,573 warplanes also imply in everything that goes along with them!?

Also keep in mind that Stalin has serious plans to start manufacturing substantially more than these in only one model: his self-titled "Ivanov"!

Speaking of Tukhachevsky...!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 02:14:08 PM
The Blood of the Butcher

1937: The uniformed "Cheka"-GPU-NKVD had already deployed armored cars, 3-inch guns, and machine guns, in a war of ongoing conquest within Russia. The "Extraordinary Commission -- State Political Directorate -- People's Commission of Internal Affairs" had been created to bring military power against internal threats. These are death squads, equivalent to the Nazi SS, and they have been operating under different names although controlled by the same Chief Directorate, since 1917. The prior terror had peaked in 1930 with the climactic years of the first Five Year Plan (ending in 1932). Soviet historians did not recognize these earlier bloodbaths as terror operations, but as military operations. Now the NKVD starts broad sweeps of even communist party targets, no longer needing armored cars and 3-inch cannons, nor even many machine guns, because its targets could not offer much armed resistance. This became known, even at the time, as the Great Purge.

During this time, the NKVD focuses on fighting "saboteurs" by which they mean any accident in a production line, any breakage, any lack of success. Deeming these evil plots, the guilty failures (and many innocents connected to them) are imprisoned in the gulags, with some being designated as "malevolent saboteurs" and shot instead. Opposition is crushed, and discipline improves, with no more strikes or demands for higher wages. "Special settlers" are also uprooted and exiled to these remote regions to support the gulags, though not as prisoners themselves (yet). Each year, for many years previously, the government has planned in advance how many prisoners they needed for the next year, and has placed an advance order for a quota of arrests with the NKVD. Now millions of new prisoners are needed for the next few years -- and orders are placed to deliver.

The Great Purge is also notorious for targeting the high command of the Army, though moreso in 1938 -- since many of these commanders are of the sort proper for purging other people first! As Rapoport, Alexeyev, and Rodine will later write of such commanders, in their "Betrayal of the Motherland" (page uncited), "After the unheard-of violence conducted by the Bolsheviks against the very people whom they betrayed and sentenced to starvation and death, there was no way back. The only thing left was to run fast to their own grave, under the party flag and Stalin's leadership." More on the military side of the Great Purge later.

For now, we have a special focus of blood running fast to its own grave...
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 02:16:46 PM
January 24, 1937, at an open court trial, former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Karl Radek, who has been accused of espionage, treason, and preparation of a coup, names Tukhachevsky as a collaborator.

According to the confession which Radek is tortured into agreeing with, Tukhachevsky had sent Corps Commander Putna to Berlin on business, where Putna had conducted talk with Trotskyites.

There is no accusation against the butcher of blood himself yet, but the high commanders who have been arrested so far since 1935, as a group, have been appointed by Trotsky in Lenin's day, and vocally oppose Stalin's perennial favorite Klement Voroshilov, currently the Minister of Defense; and most if not all are allied with Tukhachevsky -- who could save everyone time and hassle at this point by blowing out his own brains.

March 15, 1937, Jan Gamarnik, Chief of the Political Directorate of the Red Army, gives a speech at a meeting of the National Committee for Defense of the USSR: “The Red Army will consider its Bolshevik mission complete when it achieves control of the entire globe.” Well, it isn't like their formal diplomatic flag is ever being, or will ever be, subtle about this!
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 02:21:22 PM
May 22, 1937 (per the mil-wiki article), relieved of duty as assistant to Minister of Defense Marshal Voroshilov, former Marshal of the Soviet Union Tukhachevsky is appointed commander of the Volga Military District. Shortly after departing to take up his new command, he is secretly today arrested and brought back to Moscow in a prison van, where his interrogation and torture will be supervised by NKVD Chief Nikolai Yezhov who is commanded by Stalin to make him tell everything.

A few days later, the broken Tukhachevsky will confess to being recruited as a Trotskyist in 1928, and also that he is a German agent intending to seize power in cahoots with Bukharin.

His confession survives in Soviet archives spattered by a brown spray identified by forensics as his blood.

May 29, 1937, I.P. Uborevich, the Byelorussian Military District Commander, is arrested. He is a friend and follower of Tukhachevsky, and they will be executed together.

It should be noted that Walther Schellenberg, a Nazi foreign intelligence agent, relates in his memoir "The Labyrinth", 1991, page uncited, that Nazi intelligence succeeded in passing a forged document to Stalin in May 1937 presenting Tukhachevsky as the leader of Red Army generals plotting to overthrow the Soviet government. The story goes that the Nazis convinced Stalin to cripple his own Red Army this way; but in fact Stalin had been carefully starting to oust Tukhachevsky and his allies for two years already (and had floated the idea as far back as 1930).

June 11, 1937 (per the mil-wiki article on Tukhachevsky), the Soviet Supreme Court convenes a special military tribunal to charge and convict Tukhachevsky and eight of his general-rank allies for treason, dubbing this the Case of Trotskyist Anti-Soviet Military Organization. The judges (who are themselves largely terrified) explain to the accused that the trial is being conducted according to the law of December 1, 1934, meaning that any defense attorneys are banned from the courtroom and that appeals of the verdict will be forbidden.

At 11:35pm, all the defendants are declared guilty before lunch, and sentenced to death. Stalin does not even examine the transcripts, but simply says, "Agreed."

About an hour later, the butcher of blood is marched out of his cell and shot once in the back of his head while Yezhov watches. Stalin summons Yezhov to appear immediately after the execution, and asks, "What were Tukhachevsky's final words?"

"The snake said he was dedicated to the Motherland and Comrade Stalin. He asked for clemency. But it was obvious that he was not being straight: he hadn't laid down [put down?] his arms."
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 02:26:00 PM
August 27, 1937, the ANT-51 "Ivanov", ordered by Stalin personally (using his highest-ranking and deadliest nickname, in the summer of 1936), takes its first test flight. Its engine is too underpowered, and will be replaced, but otherwise the craft is judged to be up to Stalin's specifications for a "clean sky" craft capable of wiping out all enemy aircraft on the ground.

November 19, 1937, during a meeting with British Foreign Minister Lord Halifax: Hitler (unsourced by Suvorov), "In the event of global conflict, only one country can win: Soviet Russia."

1937: this year in tanks, the Soviet Union designs a BT-28 modification known as the Podvodny Khod (the BT-28 PKh). In English that means "underwater travel". Tests will show that if necessary, all BT-28 variants can be converted to cross water barriers while under water as far as one kilometer, to a depth of up to 4.5 meters, with a stream speed of up to one meter per second (stats from "Domestic Armored Vehicles 1905-1941", 2002, p.235). No German, British, American, French, or Japanese tank can still compete with the T-28 in terms of weapons, armor, or engine power. That will slightly change next year with the advent of the British Matilda.

By the end of 1937, the Germans have started producing the A variant of the Panzer IV, which will be the most powerful German tank in the first half of World War II. It is meant to be an anti-infantry tank, with the Panzer III being the Nazi anti-tank tank; but its quality will be good enough to be upgunned and uparmored into an anti-tank role as well.

It has 15mm armor (stats from "The Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two", 1978, p.89.) The BT-28 has 30mm.

The PzIV has a 250hp engine; the BT-28, 500hp.

The PzIV has two machine guns; the BT-28 has four of five (depending on the variant).

At least the PzIV gun is approximately equal to the BT-28! -- 75 and 76mm respectively. Both are short barreled, for maneuvering around and through crowded European cities and forests better (plus to save weight for performance and armor elsewhere); but the PzIV does have a slightly longer barrel for slightly better range and accuracy. This also helps the PzIVA to have a slightly better shell emergence speed (385 m/s to the BT-28's 381) which also helps accuracy at range a little more and kinetic power upon impact, although the difference is trivial: the muzzle energy of the shells is practically the same.

Soviet engineers (and their political leaders, up to Stalin), will be very annoyed that the Nazis have caught up to their tanks in one parameter!

But the practical difference is this: the Nazi gun (also when mounted on the PzIII with proper anti-tank shells) and the Soviet "KT-28" gun can both destroy any Nazi tank currently in production; whereas the Nazi guns have some trouble on Soviet tank armor. (And a lot more than 'some trouble' on Soviet heavy tank armor!)
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 04:51:41 PM
1938: Soviet fighter and bomber airfleet training manuals continue to focus teaching one massive ground strike instead of dogfighting.

1938: the Spanish Civil War is still ongoing. NKVD officer Vauphsassov, veteran of the secret guerrilla warfare in Poland until 1926, and between then a commander for gulag teams digging canals, is assigned to lead fellow communists in the Spanish Politburo, directing counterintelligence and saboteur formations for the Republican side.

After Franco wins the war in March 1939, Vauphsassov shall train Soviet partisans for defensive action in Russia against (presumptively German) invasion, until September 1939.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 04:53:51 PM
1938: in preparation for "liberation crusades", Stalin creates another six airborne brigades (the 201st, 202nd, 204th, 211th, 212th, and 214th) numbering 18,000 paratroopers (apparently not including many more airmobile paratroop trained infantry, although Suvorov, or his English translation, isn't always clear about the distinction). Suvorov cite Deputy Commander of the Air Force Lieutenant-General K. Kurochkin, in JMH #8, 1980, p.94; and also JMH, #9, 197, p.81 (for the total).

1938: while division and corp organizations have remained since the Russian Civil War, armies per se were disbanded after the Civil War as being too large to keep in logistic organization during peacetime.

The exception has been the Special Red Flag Army, which was simply a colorful way of describing the loose organization of all Soviet forces beyond Lake Baikal into the Far East including naval forces (and including nominally non-military areas like the 'kolkhoze' farming concentration camp groups and penal concentration camps.)

During 1938, the Soviets will create their first numbered armies, 1st and 2nd, in the Far East, to deal with deterioration of Japanese relations following Japan's invasion of China and Manchuria.

No such armies have been organized in the European sectors yet, despite the rise of Hitler and the direct clash of Soviet Communists with fascists in Spain.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 04:56:42 PM
April 1938: a prototype of the infantry tank Mark II (A12), the Matilda II, is built in Britain. In armor thickness, this tank exceeds all other tanks around the world. Its frontal armor is 78mm, its turret front armor is 75mm, even its side armor is 75mm! Its aft armor is 'only' 55mm.

By comparison, the standard Soviet BT-28 has 30,20,20,20mm respectively, while the BT-28E model has 50,80,40,40mm -- better only on the front turret.

However, the Matilda's weaponry is only a 40mm gun, and one or two machine guns. Why so undergunned? Because the Matilda II only has less than 200 horsepower in its engines, 95hp across two engines, to carry all that armor. Consequently, the Matilda II, the pride of the British tank industry, can only carry an undersized weapon with its armor -- and only on level ground, or while going down hills!

Each armored column of Matilda IIs must be escorted by a group of heavy trucks, in order to tow the tank uphill! The tank is also slow (even going downhill, since going faster will tear it apart), and has a short range. Open terrain performance and reliability is rated as unsatisfactory. Only its armor meets modern battlefield needs.

When Britain declares war on Nazi Germany at the end of next summer, only two of these tanks will have been produced. Suvorov highly recommends reading more about this in Fletcher's "The Great Tank Scandal", 1990.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 05:07:25 PM
June 29, 1938: a journalist working in Tokyo, Richard Ramsay, is slated for death by Stalin.

Why? Nothing personal; Stalin might not even specify him yet. But Ramsay is actually Richard Sorge, an agent for the Soviet Military Intelligence service, which goes by many names in Soviet history but eventually ends up as the GRU since 1942. (For convenience, Suvorov always calls it the GRU in "Icebreaker".)

Is he disloyal or incompetent? No, he's so loyal and competent, under increasingly adverse conditions, he'll later be named a Hero of the Soviet Union! -- after being labeled a malicious deserter. Why? Because he refuses to come home and be shot in the head.

But why has he been slated for 'liquidation'? Because ever since Stalin came into power, he has been vigorously weeding out the pre-GRU on a regular basis, much more thoroughly and permanently than the other military officers of the recently instituted Great Purge. Each pre-GRU chief from Aralov on down has been arrested in turn on Stalin's orders; only Aralov survived (through several years of 'investigative detention with application of physical force', to fight as a common soldier when Lubyanka prisoners were released in desperation for the battle of Moscow).

Everyone else has been liquidated: Gusyev (aka Drabkin), Pyatakov, Aussyem, Lentsman, Zybot, and then Jan Berzin who served as the main advisor to the Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War. (From now through 1940 Stalin will liquidate the succeeding successors, too: Uritsky, Nikonov, Yezhov, Gyendin, Orlov, and Proskurov.)

'Liquidating' the chief of military intelligence also means executing his top deputies, the deputies of the top deputies, the advisers, the directorate, and the section heads. Operations officers of those section heads might or might not fall under the axe, but they shall be eyed suspiciously by the new gang; the same is naturally true of all agents being run by the operations officers of those executed section heads.

Sorge is being caught up in the destruction of Berzin's people, but he's sort-of safe in Japan as long as he keeps his head down and refuses to come home for "vacation". Refusing orders, couched as suggestions and invitations, to come home on "leave", to be shot in the head as an agent of the prior administration, gets him labeled as a defector and then as a malicious defector.

Suvorov, himself a former analyst and officer for the GRU, insists that before, during, and after World War Two, down to the time of Suvorov's authorship, the GRU (and its predecessor military intelligence organizations) was and is the most powerful and effective intelligence-gathering organization in the world, standing head and shoulders above its chief rival, and adversary, the Soviet secret police: the KGB, previously known as "Cheka" (thus "Chekists"). Suvorov's pride for his former organization still shines through his work as a defector, along with his competitive disdain for the "Chekists". New, more aggressive generations would replace their predecessors, like a shark getting new teeth. For whatever reason, Stalin stops these regular large-scale fatal purges of the GRU in 1941; but back in 1938 the regular pre-GRU purges every nine months or so on the average, are still going strong.

One result of this regular turnover was that, in critical situations, like for example a disastrous Nazi invasion, no one ever tried to stage a coup by shoving a bomb under Stalin's table; whereas Hitler was constantly fending off coup attempts, including narrowly escaping death from one such detonating bomb.

Sorge remains faithful to the Soviet Union, even though he must spend his own money keeping up his underground bunker and running his agents; even though he has important papers that headquarters won't send couriers for; even though the only message he receives for his constant reports is, "Come on home, have a rest, take some leave." To which he will constantly reply, um, not yet, work too interesting and important, thanks!

Berzin, the pre-GRU chief of this time (more specifically the Chief of the 4th Directorate of the Red Army), is savagely tortured and executed, triggering liquidation orders down the line to Sorge. Berzin's successor, Uritsky, will soon follow; does this help? No, he had been personally giving orders to Sorge, who won't come home to be shot.

Sorge's direct handler, Lev Borovich, deputy head of 2nd section in the intelligence directorate: liquidated.

Sorge was operating as a German national in Japan, and an undercover resident named Goryev used to arrange transiting Sorge out of Germany: not liquidated, but imprisoned (per "Komsomolskaya Pravda", Oct 8, 1968).

One of Sorge's secret collaborators was Aino Kuusinen, wife a deputy head of the pre-GRU, who will himself survive this purge to join the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. (Yes, this is the same Kuusinen who tried to stage a Soviet coup in Finland, and was shut down by Mannerheim!) She isn't liquidated but is imprisoned. Sorge's actual wife Yekaterina Maksimova: arrested, confessed to contact with enemies, dies in a labor camp 1943. GRU undercover resident in Shanghai and former deputy to Sorge, Karl Rimm: accepts the call back to Moscow on "leave", liquidated.

Despite all this, Agent 00-X keeps on being a Soviet agent, just not officially anymore. His mission remains the same, as reported later in the magazine "Ogonyok", 1965, #14, and described by Uritsky: avert the possibility of war between Japan and the USSR. He works with the German Embassy as a journalist, so he picks up information that way, but spying on the Nazis wasn't his main function: thus not to warn about a German invasion of Russia, but to steer Japan away from invading Russia.

Even so, Sorge will warn Stalin about the Nazi invasion eventually. So we'll be keeping an eye on him as we go along.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 05:11:48 PM
September 19, 1938: the NKVD has continued the Great Purge this year, now focused more on particular than group targets, but draws its efforts to a close by this time. More than two million men (not counting women and children) have been set under military guard, and military regimen, in the gulags.

This is a slave workforce: inmates do not have to be paid at all; they can be sent anywhere to live and do not need housing -- they can be given a torn tent, or be forced to build their own barracks, or dig their own holes in the ground (though the holes like the barracks belong to 'the people' not to the inmates). Work can be any number of hours per day, no holidays. Unfulfilled production quotas can result in execution.

While those numbers are important, especially for the families tragically suffering from the mass arrests and imprisonments, the Great Purge is more famous for Stalin having gone after his military commanders for the first time directly -- and for the consequences of this purge on the readiness of the Soviet military in the summer of 1941.

It's time to talk about the military results of the Great Purge in quite a bit of detail! -- but we'll be circling back around much later to those two million new prisoners in the gulags, requested by Stalin and gathered by the KGB, around half of whom are being trained now with military discipline...
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 05:21:11 PM
The total number of dismissed army commanders, by the and of 1938, will be 36,761; and about another 3000 men in the navy. How did this affect the Soviet Union's ability to fight against the Nazi invasion?

The traditional understanding, is that Stalin had the best forty-thousand military officers all shot to ensure that competent generals would not be able to rise up against him, and consequently few if any competent commanders remained, especially among the generals, to face the Nazi invasion. The details, however, are far more complex.

Up against the wall first, back in 1937, were old guard terrorists of the Russian people such as Antonov-Ovseenko, his deputy Uborevich, Blukher, and the butcher of blood himself Mikhail Tukhochevsky. Suvorov thinks that professional soldiers and reservists would not have willingly followed such leaders into battle, and might even rebel against them to exact revenge for atrocities committed since 1917! Moreover, as Suvorov puts it, "it is well known that an army that has sullied its uniforms with the blood of its own people is incapable of fighting against outside enemies. The primary reason for the decay of any army is its use against its own people." Hitler for example also enacts reigns of terror against his populations using very well-armed Gestapo and SS troops, but these have been carefully distinguished from the German armed forces, even when fighting alongside them. Similarly, the "blocking forces" of the Red Army, are always the (hated!) NKVD, not fellow Red Army units shooting you in the back!

Tukhachevky's whole family, typically, got arrested and shot, too, including his wife and his two brothers (both of them instructors at a Soviet military academy). He had a pre-teen daughter who was 'only' sent to a gulag for life once she reached adult age (along with three of his sisters); she will be freed during Khrushchev's political war against Stalin's memory and crimes, and live in Moscow until she dies in 1982. (This paragraph summarizes portions of the mili-wik article.)

Until Khrushchev's "Secret Speech", Soviet diplomats and apologists will promulgate the official Soviet judgment (preemptory and question-begging through torture as it was) that Tukhachevsky was a Nazi spy; but Khrushchev's regime will declare him and all his co-dependents innocent of all charges.

In 1989, the Politburo will conclude that new evidence found in Stalin's archives indicated he knew German intelligence intended to fabricate disinformation about Tukhachevsky so that Stalin would eliminate him. After the Soviet Union dissolves, further documentation unearthed in the 90s will demonstrate that Yezhov, on Stalin's orders, had used the known double agent Nikolai Skoblin to leak concocted information to Nazi intelligence suggesting a plot by Tukhachevsky and other Soviet generals against Stalin. Reinhard Heydrich believed this, improved upon it, and leaked it back to the Soviets, whereupon Stalin and his gang could produce evidence from the Nazis themselves against Tukhachevsky and his allies! (These were only used as pretexts for the arrests, however; Soviet prosecutors relied on signed confessions beaten out of the defendants including Tukhachevsky himself.)

The generals presiding over Tukhachevsky's trial (such as it was), realized that any of them might be next, so acted with verve in his condemnation to prove their loyalty to the Stalin regime. This did not save five of them.

The rehabilitation of Tukhachevsky's reputation, under Khrushchev's regime, as a strategic genius, seems to be part of Khrushchev's own attempt at undermining loyalty to the deceased Stalin, by taking Stalin's own propagated excuse of the Red Army being unprepared for war, and thus for defense, in 1941, and expanding it to explain this supposed lack of preparation by Stalin's prior executions of Tukhachevsky and his fellow supporters. The idea that Tukhachevsky could have saved all Russia from panzer charges when he could not save one army from horse cavalry charges in Poland, seems unlikely (to say the least); but the idea that Stalin crippled his own military leadership by these purges -- and fatally so! -- will continue on down to the early 21st century.

It must be said on the other hand, that Suvorov himself tends to denigrate Tukhachevsky's strategic competency and yet also testifies, when it better suits his purpose, about how Tukhachevsky's theories formed the basis for the Soviet preparations for a European offensive in 1941 -- which Suvorov expects would have been successful in conquering all of Europe (and tomorrow the world, so to speak)!

Tukhachevsky's "deep operation" theories, refined by Triandafillov, did not reign by any means unchallenged among Stalin's advisors, so their survival and prevalence must be explained by other than mere political convenience; and on Suvorov's own argument, they were superior for Stalin's goals.

Suvorov himself presents a complex legacy for the butcher of blood, and a complex legacy for the blood of the butcher.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 05:23:33 PM
The stereotypical idea is that Stalin shot forty thousand of his commanders from 1937 to 1938, and this is why in 1941 most Soviet commanders had not been at their post for more than one year; consequently their inexperience and mere political appointment combine together to explain the epic defeats throughout 1941.

Simply on the math that would not work out: if Stalin has slain every single officer across the Soviet military, from 2nd Lieutenants of platoons upward in 1938, by 1941 their replacements would have had about three years of command experience. Had every single officer been machine-gunned in basements in 1937, the replacements would have had four years experience! Even allowing for normal turnover later, and a hundred or so being shot in 1939, 1940, and the first half of 1941, most would not have had only one year or less of command experience.

And Stalin did not execute all his officers in either or both years -- not even close, as we shall see! So something else is going on.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 05:27:02 PM
One simple and accurate answer is that from 1937 to 1941, the Red Army will grow from 1.1 million to 5.5 million, with appropriate command positions to be filled quickly. (Yes, read that number again! We'll be getting back to explaining that number as we go...)

Any such recently promoted officers will not have time to grow into their new jobs, and so the majority will have been in their new positions for a year or less. But they will not have started from nothing either! -- they will not be like Tukhachevsky, promoted (at least per Suvorov's implication) from company commander to army commander overnight. They will be promoted from Major-General to Colonel-Gemeral, or to the intervening rank of Lieutenant-General; one or two ranks in shift, based (where possible) on experience and competency at their prior ranks.

Another related simple and accurate answer, is that while 40,000 sounds like an overwhelming (and indeed impossible) number of commanders to any other nation, in the Soviet Union the number is only significantly large. According to the top-secret speech given at the February-March plenary session of the Central Committee by Politburo member and People's Commissar of Defense of the USSR, Klement E. Voroshilov (a strong proponent of the officer purge which had already started throughout 1936, going back to 1935), the officer corps of the Red Army in February 1937 is known to have numbered 206,000 (per JMH #1, 1993, pp.60-63).

Even if all forty thousand Great Purged officers had been machine-gunned in basements, this would be less than 20 percent of all Soviet officers slain. The remainder (such as Zhukov and Vorishilov himself, to remember the most obvious immediate examples) would still be alive, and perhaps better motivated to get things done! True, there would be a normal turnover from various natural causes and criminal removal, from 1939 onward, but there would be normal promotions and replacements, too.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 05:36:51 PM
But in fact, not all forty thousand purged officers were slain; not even close!

The number itself comes from a document prepared on this day (September 19, 1938) by the chief of the 6th (Manpower) Department of the command staff of the Red Army, Colonel Shiryaev, presented to the Deputy People's Commissar of Defense E.A. Shchyadenko, specifying the number of commanders dismissed from the ranks of the Red Army during the period starting in 1937 through September 1938 (the dismissals having peaked on July 29, 1938, after which the intensity dropped off drastically). The document is kept in the Russian State Military Archive, fund 37837, index 10, case 142, sheet 93. From this primary source we find in 20,643 officers dismissed in 1937, and 16,118 in 1938, for the total of 36,761 (plus around 3000 naval officers).

Now, in Soviet Russia, that term translated "dismissed" might sound like a polite way of saying "executed"! -- if the person was dismissed, he was fired; if he was fired he was arrested; if he was arrested he was executed.

But those arrested were not always executed. And those fired were not always arrested. And those dismissed were not always even fired!

We know for a fact that the term covers all kinds of dismissal in this report, because the report goes on to distinguish: in 1937, only 5811 were arrested; in 1938, only 5057 were arrested.

Out of the 36,761 dismissed in the Red Army during this time, only 10,868 officers were arrested: almost exactly 30 percent of the officers dismissed!

What happened to the other 70 percent of officers dismissed during this time? There is no secret: in every army there is a continuous process of change, replacing the old with the new. The main reason for dismissal is the completion of service as old officers retire and new officers enter and promote up behind them. Certainly not seventy percent in two years, of course, but as the actual vindictive purge examples show (given prior), many officers in these years dated back to 1917 or thereabouts! It was time for them to retire, and for political reasons they had been able to stay around as heroes and beneficiaries of the Red October.

G. Gerasimov will later study the hard data on the officers purged, and will report in his landmark study ("The Effective Impact of the 1937-1938 Purges on the Commanding Personnel of the RKKA [i.e. in English the WPRA, the Workerss and Peasants' Red Army]," for the "Russian Historical Journal", #1, 1999), that many of the commanders dismissed in the Great Purge were not only honored as heroes of the Civil War but were quickly promoted to the political leadership, leaving behind active military service while retaining their high ranks.

Still not seventy percent, of course, but a much higher percentage of older officers to be moved along at this time, than would be expected in a modern functioning army.

Then comes state of health as a next reason, in many cases from the same old age of the lingering officer corps. Then there are illnesses that anyone might contract such as cancer, tragically but needful for dismissal. Then there are accidental injuries sustained on the job; and accidents sustained off the job. Aside from debilitating injuries and accidents, must also be included fatal ones, which for the purpose of this report would be included under dismissals.

After that very large secondary category, can be found normal punitive dismissal: drunkenness, moral degradation (i.e. sexual affairs), breach of discipline, disobedience to authority. Might there be drunks among the officers of Soviet Russia in 1937 and 38? -- the stereotypical answer is funny because it's true! But they are not usually executed or even arrested.

Still not seventy percent of the dismissals you may think? True, there can also be dismissals for political purposes without arrests much less executions. In fact, there will be direct evidence of such dismissals in 1940! -- to be discussed in its time.

Even among the nearly eleven thousand arrests, no doubt most of them for political purposes, there will still be some for normal crimes ranging from theft to rape to murder.

Nearly eleven thousand officers arrested still sounds like a lot -- by the standard of any other nation! But in Soviet Russia that amounts to just under 5.3% of all Soviet officers.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 05:40:28 PM
Still, shooting 5.3% of one's officers might be considered wasteful perhaps? But wait, they weren't all shot!

Out of the 10,868 officers arrested, only 1654 of them died in prison before trial or were executed afterward.

Sixteen hundred officers of your military dying by nine-millimeter brain hemorrhage, or by wounds received on arrest, sounds like a crippling travesty in any other nation. But in Soviet Russia, we are now talking about 00.8 percent. Not eighteen percent, not eight percent, but point-eight percent. (Per for example O.F. Suveniroc's "The Tragedy of the RKKA", 1998, page uncited.)

To give an example of the difference, the famous Soviet 5th Cavalry Corps Commander Konstantin Konstantinovich Rokossovsky was dismissed from the ranks of the Red Army. In his case he didn't retire, and he wasn't dismissed on a minor charge: he was arrested. But he was imprisoned, not executed. Soon he will be let out, given high command and authoritative responsibility (before Hitler invades, not after), will fight throughout the entire war, and will finish out the war as the top Marshal of the Soviet Union! -- personally commanding the Red Square victory parade of the Great Patriotic War! He is not an exception to the 9214 officers who survived being arrested, either, except for how high he rose in rank afterward. More about this, in the chronology entry for May 5th, 1940.

Khrushchev's regime (and afterward), will not fully publish this document, nor explain the context of their figures. They will purposefully publish only fragments of information in order to hide and change the meaning. Thousands of historians and agitators will write into their works the information about 40,000 executed troop commanders; hundreds of millions of people will know about this statistic; and then the document, after the fall of the Soviet Union, will be fully published.

But who will pay attention to a small article in a journal for specialists?
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 05:45:03 PM
November 11, 1938: Beria, the chief of the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (the NKVD), and Muller, the chief of the Nazi Gestapo, sign a document today pledging cooperation with each other in...? Suvorov doesn't specifically say, only "in their main specialty -- suppressing freedom and engaging in the mass elimination of people." Considering that the Great Purge had finished up a month ago, the agreement might have been about extradition of Soviets seeking asylum? Hard to say, but plausible. It's odd that Suvorov doesn't specify the gist of the agreement; but his point of course is that these two mortal enemies are working together for evil, with the formal agreement of their governments (not as a sideline of their own).

November 1938, Trotsky, in his "Bulleten Oppozitsii" [Bulletin of the Opposition] #71, p.7, declares "Stalin has irrevocably given Hitler free rein [or 'finally untied his hands', depending on the translation], done the same for his enemies, and pushed Europe toward war."

This is less than a month after British Premier Chamberlain has returned from Munch joyfully waving around a piece of paper declaring he had brought home "peace in our time". Mussolini still considers himself a peacemaker, and Hitler has issued no directive about preparing for the invasion of Poland. So what has changed?

Trotsky has learned from his own contacts back in Russia that Stalin is giving up on using General Franco to draw Europe into a second world war. (More about this soon.)

Even more simply, Trotsky can see that Stalin from this time has ordered all anti-Hitler propaganda to be brought abruptly to a stop.

Trotsky knows from long (and bitter personal) experience that Stalin routinely finds some villain to do his dirty work, so that he can remove the villain publicly and be the hero. Stalin is no longer threatening Hitler, thus finally untying Hitler's hands, freeing him to act -- and freeing everyone else to act against Hitler.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 05:50:16 PM
1938: this year in tanks, the Soviet designers for the BT-28 and its variants have decided that it's time to get ahead of the Nazis on tank guns again!

Starting this year, BT-28 tanks are being produced with a longer barrel, now L-10 or ten times the muzzle diameter in length, twice as long as the previous "KT-28" weapon. Its muzzle velocity is now 555 m/s. The Germans will not catch up with this innovation until 1942. (Suvorov is a little unclear whether the model of the gun is named "L-10" but usually in tank specifications "L" for a gun refers to its proportional length compared to muzzle diameter. Suvorov elsewhere sometimes calls that the caliber length.) As Bariatinsky and Pavolv will write in "Middle Tank T-28", 1993 (page uncited), "In terms of arms, the T-28 absolutely surpassed all German tanks. The L-10 gun [as well as the KT-28, by the way], could effectively destroy the tanks of the Wehrmacht Heer at distances out of range for their weapons."

The Nazis will install the HL-120TR 300hp engines on the later models of the PzIV, but they still won't catch up to the 500hp BT-28 engines (or even the 400hp engines on the original BT-2 models).

PzIV armor is thickened to 30mm; the Soviet response is the T-28E, with a maximum thickness of 80mm (perhaps no longer to be regarded as a "speed" tank exactly). The T-28 has sufficient potential in its design to permit the mounting of the 85mm F-39 artillery rifle! (per Shirokorad's "The Genius of the Soviet Artillery: the Triumph and Tragedy of V. Grabin", 2002, p.141-142.) The T-28 successfully passes all tests with this artillery piece strapped into place.

But the Soviet tank industry will make another design breakthrough next year: the T-34!  <:-)  :notworthy:

From then on, the T-28 will be unnecessary -- except as a speed tank intended to shed its tracks as soon as it reaches contemporary superhighways.

In 1938, the Soviets also upgrade the number of machine guns on their heavy tank, the T-35, from five to seven; and upgrade the armor from 30mm to 50mm.

Lastly in innovations this year, BT model tanks start being produced with diesel engines, 10 to 20 years ahead of other nations. Range will increase to about 440 miles. Diesel engines will very soon be standard on all Soviet tanks.
Title: Re: IceBreakChron III: PREPARING THE WAR
Post by: JasonPratt on April 06, 2020, 05:51:19 PM
Late 1938, date unclear: winding up the Great Purge within the Soviet Union, Stalin authors (or authorizes) the "History of the All-Union Communist Party (of Bolsheviks) -- A Short Course".

This book becomes the bible for all Marxist-Leninist communists of the Soviet system, Russian and worldwide. In its concluding chapter, Stalin proclaims the paramount goal of the Soviet Union is to break their encirclement by capitalists; encircle the capitalists instead; and then to keep on going until every last country on earth has become a component "republic" of the USSR.

A Red Army song inspired by this publication includes a stanza about how the war of liberation will start by a command from Stalin: "Like breathing fire, resplendent, never stalling / will roll our armor, join the fierce crusade; once into battle sends us Comrade Stalin / and our First Marshal signals 'Draw your blade!'"

hmmm... sounds like 1939 might be an eventful year...  ^-^