Post by SolomonW
I was reading this article which is clearly well researched.
Although there would still be problems in adapting German trains to the
Russian winter, the Germans could ship a lot more supplies.
For example according to the article "The assault on Moscow in 1942 failed
primarily because the Germans were not able to extend their standard gauge
line east of Smolensk fast enough. While ample quantities of supplies were
available for the first two phases of the German attack against Moscow, the
German rail transportation system was not able to sustain the shipment of
needed military supplies for the third and final assault phase."
Any thoughts on this?
As I understand it, the problem the Germans faced logistically was not just standard vs broad gauge related, nor was it entirely related to
the need to winterise German locomotives to Russian winter standards ... there were other, less well known, but still significant factors
that would continue to exist ...
1) Shortage of Rolling Stock. Not Locomotives, but Goods Cars and, aiui, especially POL Tanker cars. The Germans had an ongoing shortage
throughout the war which constrained their actions, especially their use of motorised units which required POL. This may be partly
ameliorated by the possible capture of Russian standard gauge rolling stock ... however, historically, the Germans captured relatively
little AND, worse, the Russians had their own shortages of rolling stock due to piss poor industrial management of its production coupled
with even worse RR level management (local areas, even local factories and collectives, literally stole and hid what rolling stock there was
in order to ensure that, come peak demand time [harvest, say] they'd have what THEY needed on hand, and bugger everyone else the rest of the
time). Historically this was partly overcome by shipments of Lend Lease rolling stock but never fully resolved and, aiui, continued to be an
pngoing problem after the war ended.
Evidently the shortage of POL Tankers was an important constraint on the usage of German mechanised units (and their Truck-borne Army-level
supply elements) in Russia over and above the guage problem ... the latter merely making it worse.
2) Mechanised Transport. In order to supply the deep penetrating Mechanised units the Germans had to cobble together massive numbers of
trucks ... far more than they had, in fact. To do it they used massive numbers of French, Dutch, Belgian, Czech and other captured vehicles
which was a logistical nightmare. Parts were not interchangeable and, indeed, due to generally low levels of production of the captured
models, were in short supply ... and, frankly, many of the captured vehicles were basically worn out crap. Operating over the long distances
in Russia and over dirt roads (if they were lucky) meant that there were increasing deficits as they wore out, broke down and generally
couldn't be repaired ... again, this was enough to have significat operational impacts on Mechanised force utilisation. And, like the
shortage of rolling stock mentioned above, was something the Germans never managed to resolve.
Even for German-made vehicles there was, as there was with tanks and other armoured vehicles, an emphasis on producing new vehicles by
minimising the production of spare parts ... so even German made trucks were a maintenance problem, just less so than the disastrous state
of the impressed foreign models.
3) Piss Poor Planning. The war was going to be won in a few months. So there was no need, and, indeed, no planning for it to last longer -
which meant that there was no planning for a long campaign. No planning for a winter campaign ... I am not sure how much of a factor this
would remain. It depends on whether the Germans would be able to take Moscow before winter sets in or not ... and I am not sure whether the
difference in guages would be enough to allow this. If it does, then it doesn't necessarily help all THAT much ... Napoleon took Moscow and
look how well THAT turned out for him ... piss poor German planning would almost certainly mean they wouldn' be able to do much more than
JUST take Moscow ... it is extremely unlikely they would be able to do much more.
Would Russian morale have collapsed? Well, it certainly didn't when Napoleon did the same thing ... and, if, as he promised, Stalin stayed
and fought to the end IN Moscow a more rational and effective Russian leadership might very possibly appear, and avoid all the idiocies
Stalin inflicted on his own country's military-industrial effort in 1942-44. Since Hitler would, if anything, even more convinced of his own
genius and the pusilanimous incompetence of the old-school generals he is, perhaps, likely to be even more disastrous a meddler in the
German efforts thereafter, which bodes ill for German efforts in 1942.
The Germans will do better, but I am not sure it would be *enough* better to defeat Russia ... as one German vet evidently said, 'It vas too
damn big, it vas too damn cold ...'
Author, Space Opera (FGU); RBB #1 (FASA); Road to Armageddon;
Farm, Forge and Steam; Orbis Mundi; Displaced (PGD)