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Soviet vs. US vs German Artillery


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#1 Wolfy

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 10:33 PM

"From June 1, 1944 to 1 Janurary 1945, Soviet Artillery Strength rose from 100,000 guns and mortars to 114,600" This serviced some 6-6.5 million Soviet troops.

In comparison, German artillery strength on the Eastern front (probably only referring to artillery, not mortars) was ~over 7 k down to over 5 K in the same period) This serviced some 2.7-1.9 million German troops.

Soviet losses of Guns and Mortars during the war was 218,000 pieces (all over 50mm). A titanic quantity was lost, even in 1945.

My question is, why and how did the Soviets field so many guns and mortars? Their army was much less motorized than that of the western allies, yet they were able to bring such an enormous quantity on the battlefield.

I don't think even think that even the US army, with the best artillery in the war, had even close to such a ratio of artillery delivery systems to ground forces.

Edited by Wolfy, 10 February 2009 - 03:59 AM.


#2 Wolfy

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 01:57 AM

I've also read that Soviet Artillery was much less accurate and inflexible than US or German artillery in general.

#3 Xtrbacklash

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 02:26 AM

maybe it was their communism? :P
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#4 Triple C

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 05:13 AM

The Soviets in some sense directed artillery fire like a WWI army. Their use of artillery as a massed suppressive instrument and the monumental scale of their rolling barages were raminicient of Western Front 1918. This is not saying that they were crude. Their fire direction schemes were often highly sophisticated and ingeniusly crafted, but they were also significantly less flexible and slower than the UK or US forces.

The US and UK had the long range radios, telephone lines, motorized transports and large numbers of FOs to devise impromptu fires capable of blunting multi-divisional German attacks. The mobility of the western allies' artillery also meant they could follow their armored spearheads closely and be set up to fire on new targets, so power drives could be sustained longer and deeper behind enemy lines without the need to pause and reorganize.

It seeems to me that every major artillery attack of the Russians were elaborately planned as a rule and usually took weeks of hard work to be set up just the right way. The Western Allies rarely used their artillery this way, but inspite of all that German Eastern Front veterans found Allied artillery to be markedly superior to the Russian's.

The Red Army was overall less motorized than the western allies but they pulled massive numbers of guns to position through the sheer extertion of staff work at Front HQs, and as always, the Soviet capacity to ruthlessly strip their force of all non-essentials to meet needs in critical sectors.

Glantz also postulates that by the Third Period of War, the Soviets had suffered such losses that their infantry no longer hand the sustained power of their better trained predecessors. To breakthrough the enemy lines, the STAVKA had to even the scales with absolutely superior artillery fire.

#5 Triple C

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 05:13 AM

Deleted.

Edited by Triple C, 08 February 2009 - 05:19 AM.
Double Post


#6 Wolfy

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 06:04 AM

The Soviets in some sense directed artillery fire like a WWI army. Their use of artillery as a massed suppressive instrument and the monumental scale of their rolling barages were raminicient of Western Front 1918. This is not saying that they were crude. Their fire direction schemes were often highly sophisticated and ingeniusly crafted, but they were also significantly less flexible and slower than the UK or US forces.

The US and UK had the long range radios, telephone lines, motorized transports and large numbers of FOs to devise impromptu fires capable of blunting multi-divisional German attacks. The mobility of the western allies' artillery also meant they could follow their armored spearheads closely and be set up to fire on new targets, so power drives could be sustained longer and deeper behind enemy lines without the need to pause and reorganize.

It seeems to me that every major artillery attack of the Russians were elaborately planned as a rule and usually took weeks of hard work to be set up just the right way. The Western Allies rarely used their artillery this way, but inspite of all that German Eastern Front veterans found Allied artillery to be markedly superior to the Russian's.

The Red Army was overall less motorized than the western allies but they pulled massive numbers of guns to position through the sheer extertion of staff work at Front HQs, and as always, the Soviet capacity to ruthlessly strip their force of all non-essentials to meet needs in critical sectors.

Glantz also postulates that by the Third Period of War, the Soviets had suffered such losses that their infantry no longer hand the sustained power of their better trained predecessors. To breakthrough the enemy lines, the STAVKA had to even the scales with absolutely superior artillery fire.



How was German artillery compared to US and Soviet? German artillery seems rather inferior overall, with an inferiority of shells but more built along US lines.

Edited by Wolfy, 08 February 2009 - 06:12 AM.


#7 lwd

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 10:58 AM

The Russians historically have depended on artillery and the bayonet not on small arms. In this sense the Soviets just continued the tradition.

German artillery wasn't as flexable as either the US or British or as well supplied. The former due to lack of com among other things the latter due to lack of motor transport and production.

#8 4th wilts

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 11:56 AM

i think we must consider that when the russians used their tank and mechanised armies,there were i think large numbers of su-122 and su152mm S.P.Arty,and IS-122 and IS-152mm S.P.Arty/assault guns,to keep pace with the tanks..the 120mm mortar was superb,being made/copied by germany.cheers.
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#9 Triple C

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 01:32 PM

German artillery in what I have read were somewhat built along western lines and was inferior to the US/UK artillery, but the defect mostly could be found in fire direction techiques, communication and motorization rather than the destructiveness of their shells or the performance of their guns.

For example the Germans did not have many FOs and deployed them mostly in the battalion, but the US could place an FO in every rifle company. The US artillery direction system was also vastly more efficient. Instead of relying on the FOs to caculate the shot with pencil and paper on the field, the US FOs just called in the coordinants, type of fire and the other relevant meteorological data and the gun commanders would reference those information with pre-caculated gunnery tables made back at home by conscripted math professors organized in folders. This made US artillery accurate and fast, as well as available to more units. The British system I heard was different but their methods were even more focused on speed at times sacreficing accuracy.

By some accounts US artillery actually suffered from a higher dud rate than Germany's and there existed a theater wide shortage of rounds (see Falkenberg's thread on captured Axis guns)... but the US still had twice the tubes than the Germans.

#10 lwd

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 06:11 PM

Of course in late 44 the US and British start using VT fuzes which makes a big difference.

#11 acker

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 08:45 PM

Why were the dud rates higher for the Americans than the Germans? Some difference in shell design or something?

#12 Wolfy

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 06:11 AM

but the US still had twice the tubes than the Germans.


So tubes were about the same between the US and Germany then? Since the Germans were outnumbered 2:1 as early as Normandy and much worse later on..

Do you know about how many tons of artillery ammunition were available for most german divisions in the west compared to Allied?

#13 Triple C

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 07:09 AM

Well, most writers who talked about artillery are consistent in that German and American guns were both of high quality and the difference was found mostly in fire direction. German 170s outranged US guns of the comparable class, but I am not very sure how significant that actually was. Dud rate was a simple matter of quality control.

Russian guns were less accurate than either.

I don't have information like that though it's probably available somewhere... at the height of the logistical crisis many divisions were rationed to two or three dozen shells a day.

#14 Wolfy

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 07:18 AM

Given the German army's difficulties in the final stage of the war, I keep on getting the impression that their artillery firepower was relatively low compared to their enemies. And even at the height of their power, their artillery didn't have the type of paralyzing effect the Soviet or Allied artillery had.

#15 lwd

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 10:50 AM

Why were the dud rates higher for the Americans than the Germans? Some difference in shell design or something?

It's not even clear they were. It may depend a lot on when. From what I've read this is one area where sabotage started causeing problems for the Germans so end of war they may have had a worse dud rate. Otherwise I'd like to know how it was determined because claims like this often are based on either small samples or unusual events.

#16 4th wilts

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 12:45 PM

i understand from reading i think...the bradley diaries,or bradley commentaries,that U.S.Arty battlns were indeed rationed after overlord.the main reason why this happened was of course that time was needed to build supplies of shells etc,but also the u.s mulberry was knackered in the storms.this meant supplies came in by ducks and l.c.t,s,instead of being unloaded from liberty ships,cheers.
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#17 Von Poop

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 01:00 PM

Not wishing to blow the old nationalistic trumpet, but shouldn't the British & Commonwealth Artillery be included in any sort of 'war-wide' comparison?
Not half bad exponents of the 'Queen of the Battlefield' with a fine WW2 track record for accuracy, fire control, and speed, combined with some tasty field pieces. I never fail to be impressed when I see a 25pdr demonstrated at the sheer rate of fire, knowing the accuracy they combined with it the Gunners deserve some credit.
Perhaps even an over-focus on big guns in the British Staff's pre-war decisions on organisation & force balance? (Though I may be biased on that question as I'm reading a biography of Hobart at the moment, very much the mechanised man :shifty: )

British Artillery in World War 2
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#18 4th wilts

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 01:08 PM

how accurate was U.S. Arty?,does anyone have any reports,sources etc.?
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#19 acker

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 11:10 PM

It's not even clear they were. It may depend a lot on when. From what I've read this is one area where sabotage started causeing problems for the Germans so end of war they may have had a worse dud rate. Otherwise I'd like to know how it was determined because claims like this often are based on either small samples or unusual events.



I'd like to know about that, too. Considering the amount of forced labor (and worse) the Germans used, I would have suspected that the dud rate for the Germans would have been substantially higher than that of the US or even Britain, unless something was fundamentally different about German shells...or if forced labor production was lower than I anticipated. "Unhappy" workers are bad workers...

#20 razin

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 01:39 AM

Acker
Why were the dud rates higher for the Americans than the Germans? Some difference in shell design or something?

U.S.,British and German shells were all of a muchness as regard to design. The U.S almost exclusively used Junghans time fuses, the British (except for those received from the US) used Krupp, the Germans used both types. so it must have been down to a lack of quality control, or more likely problems in transportation or storage, certainly there seems to have been more defective 75mm M48 shells PD fuse reported in the Pacific Island campaign than elsewhere- I have seen a figure of 80% failure rate at one stage.

Triple C
German 170s outranged US guns of the comparable class,


I assume this is the 17cm K18 which does not have an equivelant in British U.S. and only the Soviet 152mm BR2 gun came anywhere near it and then it was still nowhere.
German 150mm K18 and US 155mm M1 gun were equivelent, the British did not have a gun equivelent and the Soviet BR2 could outrange the K18 but there were very few around.

#21 Wolfy

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 02:08 AM

the 170mm class weapon was very rare, right? seems rather a pointless weapon when one can have 150mm class batteries in larger number

#22 lwd

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 03:13 AM

Not wishing to blow the old nationalistic trumpet, but shouldn't the British & Commonwealth Artillery be included in any sort of 'war-wide' comparison? ...


Indeed from a number of forum threads on this topic I've read recently I've come to the opinion that the British artillery system was slightly superior to that of the US. Effectively they were pretty much the same but slightly different organization and information flow.

#23 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 03:56 AM

How was German artillery compared to US and Soviet? German artillery seems rather inferior overall, with an inferiority of shells but more built along US lines.



The Soviets had quantity but not much else. The typical infantry division's artillery was mostly the 76mm gun. This was organized into two 6 gun batteries along with a 122mm howitzer battery per battalion.
Soviet fire control for these batteries was for the battery commander to establish a forward fire control post that allowed direction of his battery. This single position was the fire control for most batteries in action. Direction was usually by dedicated field telephone but sometimes radio.
The system was inflexible and incapable of generating unplanned mass fires. But, it did generally result in some fire being brought on the enemy much of the time. This is where German histories tend to note how the Russian artillery was always dropping some rounds on their positions.
The Soviets also manufactured alot of "poor man's artillery" mortars. These were cheap supplements to regular tube artillery. They were used in much the same way as their regular guns were.

The major German problem was simply a lack of tubes. This was excerbated by the wastage of guns in the East through non-combat losses. The German artillery system was to allocate some batteries to each combat unit in the division. Massing fires like the Allies frequently did was possible but only with alot of planning in advance.
The Germans also used a tactic with mortars and artillery of having a "roving gun." That is, one mortar or gun from the battery was detached and would open fire from a different location during battery displacements. This gun was intended to deceive the enemy that the battery was displacing and as to its new location.

The Germans rarely seemed to keep their artillery units up to strength. I think that was a mistake. They also made widespread use of captures in many areas. The substitution of mortars and rockets was also a mistake. These are less effective than regular artillery.
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#24 Triple C

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 05:03 AM

Just one FO post? Now that's primitive. How the hay does one FO post see the frontage?

As for rockets. Less effective than conventional artillery in general, or less effective in conventional artillery roles? I remember that rockets were very innacurate and not what you want to use on fortified positions or mechanized units.

#25 razin

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Posted 10 February 2009 - 02:45 PM

Wolfy
the 170mm class weapon was very rare, right? seems rather a pointless weapon when one can have 150mm class batteries in larger number.

The 17cm K18 was to give an advantage over the enemy, because of there comparatively early re-armament programme it was perceived by the Germans that there weapons would become obsolete sooner rather than later (in fact the 15cm K18 was equal to the 155mm US M1, although the soviet BR2 was better.)

I would imagine that the Germans at the time of the Soviet/German Pact became aware of the BR2 and accelerated the 17cm K18 into production.

As for numbers I can't find a number for 17cm gun but it was a priority weapon, the 21cm k18 howitzer production, on the same carriage, was slowed and eventually stopped in favour of the gun.

Probably like much else there were never enough.




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