Discussion:
1941 What if the USSR used standard gauge
(too old to reply)
SolomonW
2018-05-30 03:01:14 UTC
Permalink
I was reading this article which is clearly well researched.

https://www.feldgrau.com/WW2-German-State-Railway-Deutsche-Reichsbahn

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?
Phil McGregor
2018-06-06 03:57:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by SolomonW
I was reading this article which is clearly well researched.
https://www.feldgrau.com/WW2-German-State-Railway-Deutsche-Reichsbahn
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 ...'

YMMV,

Phil

Author, Space Opera (FGU); RBB #1 (FASA); Road to Armageddon;
Farm, Forge and Steam; Orbis Mundi; Displaced (PGD)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Email: ***@tpg.com.au
SolomonW
2018-06-06 06:48:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Phil McGregor
Post by SolomonW
I was reading this article which is clearly well researched.
https://www.feldgrau.com/WW2-German-State-Railway-Deutsche-Reichsbahn
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 ...
However, it was an important factor; this alone would increase the German
supplies, whether it is enough to win is debatable.
Post by Phil McGregor
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.
A big problem was that the Germans tended to destroy or leave to rust what
they did capture in rolling stock, mainly as it was useless to them. Here
it would not be useless.
Post by Phil McGregor
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.
Yep
Post by Phil McGregor
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.
Yep, Hitler did need was trucks.
Post by Phil McGregor
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
As it is the Germans just missed out. With better railways, the Germans
would have started a bit earlier and kept going a bit longer. It might make
a difference, so I agree with your *might*.
Post by Phil McGregor
.. Napoleon took Moscow and
look how well THAT turned out for him ...
Moscow was much more important in 1941 then in Napoleon's time, it was not
even the capital then.
Post by Phil McGregor
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.
I recently went to Moscow and toured Stalin's bunker. I amazed at how much
security he had; I doubt very much he would be captured.
Post by Phil McGregor
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.
I doubt Hitler could have meddled more. Having said that in 1941 after the
failure of the German army to take Moscow, then Hitler being around was a
plus for the German military.
Post by Phil McGregor
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 ...'
YMMV,
Phil
Author, Space Opera (FGU); RBB #1 (FASA); Road to Armageddon;
Farm, Forge and Steam; Orbis Mundi; Displaced (PGD)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
The Horny Goat
2018-06-09 14:18:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by SolomonW
I was reading this article which is clearly well researched.
https://www.feldgrau.com/WW2-German-State-Railway-Deutsche-Reichsbahn
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?
You sure 1942 isn't the new 1941? There was plenty of 1942 fighting
around Moscow especially in the spring but it was not a major theatre
in 1942. Further, I don't recall reading that lack of rail supply in
any way hurt the German 1942 in their drive to the Volga which was
considerably further from Germany than Moscow.
Rich Rostrom
2018-06-11 19:33:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by The Horny Goat
You sure 1942 isn't the new 1941? There was plenty
of 1942 fighting around Moscow especially in the
spring but it was not a major theatre in 1942.
Not quite true; there was a major Soviet offensive
in late 1942 (Operation MARS) directed against the
Rzhev salient, about 240 km west of Moscow.

But I think you're right - in the quoted paragraph,
1942 is a typo for 1941.
Post by The Horny Goat
Further, I don't recall reading that lack of rail
supply in any way hurt the German 1942 in their
drive to the Volga which was considerably further
from Germany than Moscow.
It isn't mentioned in narratives much, because the
problem was so ubiquitous on the Eastern Front that
it "goes without saying". German forces by later
1942 had learned to operate within the constraints
of the supply that the rail net could provide: half-
starved was "the new normal".
--
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.
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