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Thread: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

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    Krieglord's Avatar Sagittarius
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    Default Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    How would the Ost Front have changed if the Stavka had listened to Vatutin's requests's and launched a pre emptive attack instead of waiting for operation Citadel to commence?
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    Cornicularius
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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    Quote Originally Posted by Krieglord View Post
    How would the Ost Front have changed if the Stavka had listened to Vatutin's requests's and launched a pre emptive attack instead of waiting for operation Citadel to commence?
    First question is when exactly we are talking. The timeframe's pretty important, especially given the long, long, loooooooong buildup process the Germans launched up until Citadel.

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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    Quote Originally Posted by Turtler View Post
    First question is when exactly we are talking. The timeframe's pretty important, especially given the long, long, loooooooong buildup process the Germans launched up until Citadel.

    Hmm for the sake of this scenario lets say 20 days after Hitler delayed Citadel.
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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    Quote Originally Posted by Krieglord View Post
    Hmm for the sake of this scenario lets say 20 days after Hitler delayed Citadel.
    Overall, I'd guess that Kursk would probably not be as decisive as it ultimately turned out. The entire reason that was as crushing as it was was precisely because the Germans- and probably the single largest commitment of German forces anywhere and everywhere- tried to force themselves to ride over a huge part of the Soviet military while it was in heavily prepared and fortified positions. The Germans were better at maneuver warfare at this point, and the only major battle between Stalingrad and Kursk was a resounding German victory.

    I might be wrong, and I'm not saying Vatutin's plan would have necessarily failed. It's just that my gut feeling is that it wouldn't have gone as well.

    In addition, I'd have to ask "which time?" Hitler delayed it a bunch of times, most famously on May 4th.
    Last edited by Turtler; February 27, 2013 at 04:43 PM. Reason: Edited due to problems.

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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    Indeed thats true :/ Hitler should have listened to his generals and just not attacked :/ I realize the Generals try to blame every defeat on Hitler but in this case it seems pretty darn accurate...

    And that's the delay I was referring to May 4th

    Sorry if I am a bit less accurate with dates and such I tend to focus more on the war pre 1943
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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    Quote Originally Posted by Krieglord View Post
    Indeed thats true :/ Hitler should have listened to his generals and just not attacked :/ I realize the Generals try to blame every defeat on Hitler but in this case it seems pretty darn accurate...

    And that's the delay I was referring to May 4th

    Sorry if I am a bit less accurate with dates and such I tend to focus more on the war pre 1943

    I understand. Agreed, the entire Kursk operation was not the most brilliantly thought out in the history of the German military. Really, it was quite logical for Hitler to insist on an attack *somewhere*, because Germany could simply not afford a purely defensive posture at this point in time and doing so would've played into the strengths of the Allies, especially the Soviets.

    But insisting that the attack happen *at Kursk* after extensive buildup was moronic to the extreme. The Kursk salient was an obvious target to attack, but at the very least it should've been done either under a strict veil of secrecy (with the usual extensive misdirection efforts) or indirectly: IE going after a weaker front hundreds of miles away to force the Soviets to redirect forces out of that stronghold.

    Still, I think a Soviet attack pre-Citadel would've been highly inadvisable. Either it catches the Germans before they've really gotten committed and at best doesn't do enough to be decisive, or at worst it mauls the Red Army severely and possibly leads to another Kiev. Even if they won, it probably would not be on terms anywhere near as favorable as the already exorbitant costs of OTL Kursk.

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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    You put it a good way... moronic






    I wonder if the Russians did attack how deep they would be able to penetrate German lines before the front re stabilized as well as their best case scenario and more realistic objectives

    Im assuming Kyiv would be a best case objective
    Last edited by Krieglord; March 02, 2013 at 08:57 PM.
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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    Quote Originally Posted by Krieglord View Post
    You put it a good way... moronic
    In the moron's defense, I can sometimes kiiinda see why he advocated it; the Eastern Front wasn't the only show in town, and if he had suceeded at destroying or at least crippling the forces in the Kursk Salient he probably would have thrown the entire Soviet war machine onto the defensive for at least the rest of 1943. That is something he very much needed at that point in time, especially once the Western Allies made it clear they weren't resting on their laurels with the landings in Sicily.

    But trying to wipe out the entire Red Army in one go was never going to be smart, especially after the Soviet Union was no longer behaving with all the ingenuity of a bar of soap like they were in the years preceding it. A pitched battle on that scale played to all of the Soviet advantages; a limited engagement targeting a smaller, more digestible "bite" of the Red Army played to that of the Axis at this point in time. Kharkov pointed out that that kind of operation was still more than within the Axis capabilities as they existed following Stalingrad, and doing that would allow you to attire the Soviets better (and in turn weaken the overall power of the Kursk Salient) than a straight-forward charge at the most obvious target. As a bonus, it could even be used as a building action, to try and carve a path towards an eventual, hypothetical encirclement operation of the salient; only this time in a way far more intelligent than Zitadelle historically was.


    Quote Originally Posted by Krieglord View Post
    I wonder if the Russians did attack how deep they would be able to penetrate German lines before the front re stabilized as well as their best case scenario and more realistic objectives

    Im assuming Kyiv would be a best case objective
    Maybe; if nothing else it certainly is ambitious and optimistic. I suppose if they hit them early and aggressively with preparations made to attack rather than to defend it might've been possible, but going that far out would probably have limited the ability to chase after and finish off weakened German formations and to consolidate their positions.

    As for more realistic objectives, Beograd and Orel would be the first objectives, with (at least most of) the territories lost at Third Kharkov probably being a possible minimum (in theory, at least). Getting those would remove Kursk's salient status and even out the front lines, while hopefully shattering a decent percentage of Army Group South's strength.

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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    The Wehrmacht had shown they could nimbly execute savage counter-attacks and solid reistance during operation Mars (Oct 42) and the riposte to Little and Big Saturn, Jan-Feb 42) when Soviet tank armies were mauled and entire Fronts stiopped in their tracks.

    The failure in stopping Little Saturn/Uranus was a result of Hitler's interference: he was a little paralysed in the winter in 1942/43 and distracted by the North African campaign (where he was busy throwing away another 250,000 men on top of Stalingrad).

    There were less obvious distractions in June/July 1943 so its likely the Wehrmacht would have maximum interferenbce with their defense, and elastic tank-army destruction would be off the cards. Likely Hitler wouldmissue the same stand-and-fight orders that cost so much in 1944. I imagoine some strong defense from the Wehrmacht but ultimately they'd lose the battle of attrition and would resort to disobedient retreats, and face excution at home.

    IF the Soviets jumped first AND somehow the Allies provided a major distraction (looney attack into Norway, early leapfrog attack on Rome) maybe some smart Panzer generals would have the play in their orders to slice and dice the Soviets and delay armageddon long enough that the Hammer and Sickle would not float over the Reichstag, rather a mushroom cloud.
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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    Little Saturn was probably a failure of intelligence.

    At any rate, Manstein was able to pull off 3rd Kharkov because he kept the plans for that operation within his headquarters, he didn't consult outsiders. This prevented the extensive and skilled (vast understatement. As far as skill in intelligence goes, the Soviets were in their own league, way better than anyone else) Soviet intel apparatus from knowing Manstein's positions and goals.
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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    Quote Originally Posted by Slaytaninc View Post
    Little Saturn was probably a failure of intelligence.

    At any rate, Manstein was able to pull off 3rd Kharkov because he kept the plans for that operation within his headquarters, he didn't consult outsiders. This prevented the extensive and skilled (vast understatement. As far as skill in intelligence goes, the Soviets were in their own league, way better than anyone else) Soviet intel apparatus from knowing Manstein's positions and goals.
    Overall agreed, though with a small caveat. I'm not so sure the Soviets really were in a league of their own. Gehlen's Organization made fools of them during and immediately after WWII, Western intel was also pretty amazing in a number of ways, both during WWII and after. While a lot of the stereotypical/"classic" espionage stories are of the clever/dastardly Soviets trumping the Western Allies, I'm not sure how representative that is of the whole. There's got to be sampling bias, since one of the greatest accomplishments of a successful intel op is if it never, ever gets found out. The Soviets and Germans lost, and as a result the victors managed to go through their files to see how they worked (at least until the Russians started limiting access to the files again).

    This is using absence of evidence, so take it for what it is, but I'd wager we know a good 80%-90%+ of the Soviet Union's great intelligence triumphs, but we know far less of what the West was doing simply because there hasn't been this comprehensive defeat and unmasking like the USSR and Germans suffered. I'd wager the overall record is a lot less favorable to the Soviets than the amount of info we know offhand is, and even the stuff we do have points more to parity than to one side curbstomping the other in terms of intelligence work.

    I agree Little Saturn was a failure of intelligence, but it was probably more of a failure of positioning as well. Even if the Axis somehow did know what was going to happen, the bottom line was that the Axis were royally hosed by their logistical situation and how they chose to dig in and maneuver. It's doubtful-say- the Italians could've withstood things any better even if they could act on intelligence to grab better positions and make better preparations.
    Last edited by Turtler; March 04, 2013 at 04:11 PM.

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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    Quote Originally Posted by Turtler View Post
    Overall agreed, though with a small caveat. I'm not so sure the Soviets really were in a league of their own. Gehlen's Organization made fools of them during and immediately after WWII, Western intel was also pretty amazing in a number of ways, both during WWII and after. While a lot of the stereotypical/"classic" espionage stories are of the clever/dastardly Soviets trumping the Western Allies, I'm not sure how representative that is of the whole. There's got to be sampling bias, since one of the greatest accomplishments of a successful intel op is if it never, ever gets found out. The Soviets and Germans lost, and as a result the victors managed to go through their files to see how they worked (at least until the Russians started limiting access to the files again).
    This could certainly factor in, as while we've been able to dig through what the Soviets and Germans did in the field of intelligence, obviously the survival of regimes in the west until this very day have ensured they could keep their secrets. Even politicians who run on reform easily understand why governments have to keep secrets.

    This is using absence of evidence, so take it for what it is, but I'd wager we know a good 80%-90%+ of the Soviet Union's great intelligence triumphs, but we know far less of what the West was doing simply because there hasn't been this comprehensive defeat and unmasking like the USSR and Germans suffered. I'd wager the overall record is a lot less favorable to the Soviets than the amount of info we know offhand is, and even the stuff we do have points more to parity than to one side curbstomping the other in terms of intelligence work.
    Well, I was really thinking of all the stupid spy documentaries I watched on the History Channel and other such channels, but it's pretty obvious they have an agenda to talk about stunning Soviet successes as it's more dramatic than "well the Soviets made a lot of brilliant moves in their intelligence apparatus, but the US also had some successes of their own."

    I agree Little Saturn was a failure of intelligence, but it was probably more of a failure of positioning as well. Even if the Axis somehow did know what was going to happen, the bottom line was that the Axis were royally hosed by their logistical situation and how they chose to dig in and maneuver. It's doubtful-say- the Italians could've withstood things any better even if they could act on intelligence to grab better positions and make better preparations.
    True, and just like the Kursk salient, it doesn't take a genius to know what's going on. At Stalingrad it was pretty obvious that the Germans were overstretched along the front and had to rely on their allies, allies who weren't as well prepared as the Germans, lacking weapons and the experience that many of the survivors of the German defeats in the Soviet Counter-Offensive of 1941-42 were able to impart to rebuilt German units.

    It's remarkably self-evident that a largely horse-drawn and outnumbered German army stuck in an 11-mile long built up area isn't exactly terribly mobile, and that having a massively long front from Stalingrad into the Caucasus and the Black Sea leaves a lot of space to be covered so pourously.
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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    Quote Originally Posted by Slaytaninc View Post
    This could certainly factor in, as while we've been able to dig through what the Soviets and Germans did in the field of intelligence, obviously the survival of regimes in the west until this very day have ensured they could keep their secrets. Even politicians who run on reform easily understand why governments have to keep secrets.
    That's what I'm wagering. Now, I'm not going to say it's an absolute certainty (at all), but I figure it's at least a contributory factory. One interesting bit of proof for what you posit and point of illumination is that of one of the few regimes in the West that did come down (in a manner of speaking): Apartheid South Africa during the transition to full democracy, when they naturally threw open the archives. Of course, most of this was pertaining to the crimes of Apartheid itself like the depredations of BOSS, but a fair amount of it covers South Africa's involvement in the Cold war, and even its' prior history dating back to WWII and WWI and of course the intel issues that came with it. From what we can tell as a whole, the South Africans were quite competent in their general neighborhood, and exceedingly hard targets for the Soviets to crack even if they tended to falter the further out of their home territory they got.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slaytaninc View Post
    Well, I was really thinking of all the stupid spy documentaries I watched on the History Channel and other such channels, but it's pretty obvious they have an agenda to talk about stunning Soviet successes as it's more dramatic than "well the Soviets made a lot of brilliant moves in their intelligence apparatus, but the US also had some successes of their own."
    Exactly. One key little thing to notice: you say stupid spy documentar*ies.* There's so many successful operations (that we know of due to declassification) that people have been able to churn out these things by the boatload. That said, those stupid documentaries are not that far off from the truth. The Soviets were absolutely terrifying in intelligence work, and they were easily one of the most powerful, far-reaching, and effective intelligence networks to ever exist. In large part (but far from the most important to say the least!) because to a large degree, they could read their adversaries very well, and they certainly had our numbers.

    Intelligence work is an ugly business in any circumstances, but against us the Soviets took that ugliness up to an art form. They were merciless, they were pitiless, they were ruthless, and they operated without concern for morality or ethics of any kind outside the usual Soviet set. They were willing to stoop down lower than we would ever go and they knew and exploited it. Case in point what they'd do if they needed a prisoner we had nabbed back. In the traditional Hollywood version we'd usually be familiar with, there would be this epochal special operations rescue operation, where we would have a team of the elite gathered, practice umpteen times a day to maintain peak preformance, a long, long effort of trying to gather intelligence on the compound and everything in it, a precise timetable, and planning.....

    The Soviets did it far simpler. They just fanned out and arrested any Western citizens they could cook up bogus charges for in order to try and force our hand into a prisoner exchange. And all too often we would give in. Now, say what you will about that, and I know I would say a *lot* about it- most of it being unprintable here- but that is effective. Now, contrast that to when they were at war with the Germans. To the best of my knowledge they *never* tried this with the Nazis, and probably for good reason: it would not have worked.

    That's the sort of stuff that made them so effective. It's just that whereas they trumped us through plain ruthlessness, we trumped them in a few places (like raw technological advantage and morale). So there is good reason why, but it's just not the whole story.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slaytaninc View Post
    True, and just like the Kursk salient, it doesn't take a genius to know what's going on. At Stalingrad it was pretty obvious that the Germans were overstretched along the front and had to rely on their allies, allies who weren't as well prepared as the Germans, lacking weapons and the experience that many of the survivors of the German defeats in the Soviet Counter-Offensive of 1941-42 were able to impart to rebuilt German units.

    It's remarkably self-evident that a largely horse-drawn and outnumbered German army stuck in an 11-mile long built up area isn't exactly terribly mobile, and that having a massively long front from Stalingrad into the Caucasus and the Black Sea leaves a lot of space to be covered so pourously.
    Exactly. They knew their basics. Where the intel really shined was the specifics it was able to dredge up, especially in the German camp. Because really, outside of "Fortress Finland" and to a lesser extent Italy (through sheer lack of logistics) the Soviets had decent ears to the ground throughout the European Axis. That was some of the expertise they used to identify things like where to punch through the Italian expeditionary forces, or how to guesstimate what the Axis commanders were doing. So it wasn't all one thing or another. It was definitely both at play. I still don't think an attack at Kursk would've gone terribly well, though. Intelligence can only compensate for so much.

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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    I don't remember who said it, but every WW2 German problem could have been solved by dumping Hitler into a well.

    I watched a Documentary about Kursk, and from the numbers while the Russians had the advantage in terms of men, tanks and guns they barely had more than the Germans, if the Germans had played defensively but using their Panzers as reserves for a counter counter attacks they would probably hold the Russians far long than they did in reality, or at least have a longer and bloodier retreat to Poland. Maybe even an inversion of History could be possible with the Allies arriving in Berlin first and thus being in Position of saving Poland from the clutches of the Soviet Union.
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    Default Re: Vatutin Gets His Way (operation citadel)

    Quote Originally Posted by Menelik_I View Post
    I don't remember who said it, but every WW2 German problem could have been solved by dumping Hitler into a well.
    No, that's just the excuses made by German commanders to make themselves look more skilled and Hitler look worse. The German generals that survived the war continued to insist that the Soviets were just stupid brutes.

    I watched a Documentary about Kursk, and from the numbers while the Russians had the advantage in terms of men, tanks and guns they barely had more than the Germans, if the Germans had played defensively but using their Panzers as reserves for a counter counter attacks they would probably hold the Russians far long than they did in reality, or at least have a longer and bloodier retreat to Poland. Maybe even an inversion of History could be possible with the Allies arriving in Berlin first and thus being in Position of saving Poland from the clutches of the Soviet Union.
    In fact, Germany had the advantage of quality of equipment and despite the extensive Soviet defensive positions were able to drive deep into the defenses. When it was tank on tank combat in the open, the Germans on a person by person basis won against the Soviet tank forces. But the Soviets also had tank units within their defenses that did their part in hurting the German Panzer units. Conversely, the Soviets had massive forces lying in reserve, especially the troops in the Steppe Front, so even closing the Salient wouldn't have won the battle for Germany.

    There were also the Soviet operations immediatley after Kursk against the Orel Salient that really hurt Model's 9th Army.

    However, despite the German superiority in skill and equipment, the Soviets got progressively better, so I'm not sure you can add that many months to the war with Kursk alone.

    Keep in mind that the longer the war in the East lasts, the easier the West gets for the Allies, and once the Allies land in France, Germany now has to split its forces.
    Last edited by Slaytaninc; March 05, 2013 at 02:19 PM.
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