Polish army (lots of pictures) - Page 2

July 17th, 2009  
Self propelled guns - the actual amount of Polish tanks was around 380, the remainder of the armored vehicles were lightly armed and armored TK tankettes, the inadequacies of these vehicles on the modern battlefield were recognized and their chassis were being modified to self propelled artillery and light tank destroyers, the war cought Poland with only a small percentage of these vehicles modified, they were non the less very effective in their designated roles.

Testing the Carden Loyd chassis before purchase by the Polish army.

A column of TKS tankettes armed with machineguns, 1939.

A column of light self propelled artillery, 1939.

Self propelled artillery.

37mm Bofors armed light tank destroyers, Wz 28 armored cars in the background.

20mm armed self propelled gun.
July 17th, 2009  
You're right that the Polish campaign is largely skipped over - will be interesting to hear your comments when they come.
July 17th, 2009  
I decided to put in airforce and artillery as i write about the campaign, since i do not intend to make it into the wiki article i will support what i write with images, maps and articles (not going to quote those though, just the links for the interested).

Fall Weiss, the German attack on Poland began along the entire length of the Polish-German-Slovak border, Germany having six time larger mechanised forces 3 to 1 advantage in tanks and over 800.000 more men could afford such a plan.

The battle was NOT a Blitzkrieg, German army used standard encirclement and envelopment tactics, its advantage was in arms, communications and numbers.

First lets discuss the first phase of the war "the Border battle" lasting between 1-3 September (in sombe places up to 4th).

Fall Weiss assumed that Germany would win easily within 2 weeks of the start of the war, but in the first day their opponent prepared what was to be a painful, rude suprise for the Wehrmacht.

On 1st of September the Volhynian Cavalry Brigade and the Polish seventh inf division stopped 2 Panzer and 1 infantry division under the village of Mokra.

The entire German front was stopped for 24 hours as a vicious battle was waged, eventually the Polish forces were forced to widthraw risking encirclement but not before they destroyed 160 tanks and AFVs, killed over half a thousand men wounding twice that number, they themselves lost 200 men and 9 artillery pieces.

That was the first harbringer of the things to come, Fall Weiss would not go as planned, Joseph Goebbels quickly hushed the extent of German losses.

This is also the indirect source of the myth about Polish cavalry charging the tanks, very mobile armed with modern AT assets it caused severe problems throught the entire campaign, spiteful of its performance agaisnt the vaunted Panzers the myth was produced by Nazi propaganda and kept alive by British tabloids.

Aftermath of the battle at Mokra, casualities caused by the Volhynian cavalry brigade and its supporting units:

Panzers I and II damaged or destroyed by Bofors 37mm AT gun.

Panzer II with both tracks destroyed by accurate artillery fire.

Panzer II hit by a 75mm shell (couldnt downsize the picture).

All in all over 160 armored vehicles were lost.

Another battle, the battle at Mława resulted in the lost of 72 tanks, over 2800 dead and missing Germans for 1200 dead Poles and no lost equipment.

The ratio of forces were 5 German inf divisions to 2 Polish inf divisions.

At the same time at the battle of Pszczyna Germany loses - 98 tanks and afvs.

At the battle of Rożań - 15 tanks.

Battle of Jordanów - 50 tanks and AFVs

Battle of Wizna - 30+ tanks and AFVs

Battle of Tomaszów - 20~ tanks and AFVs.

All in all between September 1 and Sept 5 in the initial battles of the war Germany lost approximately 530 destroyed or damaged armoured vehicles, by comparison its entire losses in armor after the invasion of France numbered approximately 750 armored vehicles.

In five days of fighting against Polish supposedly obsolete and weak army Germany lost 80% of the hardware it lost in the entire Battle with France, Britain and the Low countries in 1940 , in 5 days it lost more than in the first 3 opening weeks of Barbarossa.

This alone shows the quality and superiority of the Polish army over any force present at the time in the West but regardless German army was still superior in every field save for the quality of troops and between the 3rd and 5th of September the resistance on the border collapsed.

Next, the German push deeper into Poland and the air combat over Poland.
July 17th, 2009  
Polish didn't expected the invasion? I mean, France built it's Maginot line, Poland didn't built nothing, "only" relied on their army?
July 17th, 2009  
Originally Posted by Titanium
Polish didn't expected the invasion? I mean, France built it's Maginot line, Poland didn't built nothing, "only" relied on their army?
Poland relied on its army to slow down the German advance, normally Polish plans called for abandoning the borders and concentrating troops deeper in the country on the river lines.

However France and England signed a treaty with Poland which specifically said that upon the start of hostilities both countries will engage Germany with all available forces, the entire Polish defense plan of 1939 was built around expectation that France would invade Germany which it of course did not.

Poland had no chance of winning either way but the war could and would draw out into several months if not for Russian invasion on the 17th (we'll get to that).

If on the other side France did attack, Germany could not afford to shift forces, by 17th of September only 65% of its armored vehicles were operational and Poland retained over half a milion troops, shorter defense lines and the so called "Romanian Bridgehead".

The bridghead was an area between rivers Dniestr and Stryj, home to approximately 50% of all Polish supply and ammunition dumps, rough and unsuitable for German tanks, concentrated there were approximately 12 Polish divisions with another 8 en route and other surviving units for a grand total of more than half a milion.

The bridghead was going to be supplied from the Romanian port of Constanta (50 Renault medium tanks and 48 hurricane fighters were already en route to Polish forces fortifying there).

By 17th September Germany took over nearly half of Poland but could move no further, stopped under Warsaw the Wehrmacht was facing stationary warfare and winter, incapable of encircling an enemy who operated on such a tight front.
July 18th, 2009  
this is a great thread!
July 18th, 2009  
After breaking the Polish resistance Fall Weiss went back on schedule, Poland being a flat tank country saw lighting advance by Panzers and motorised infantry.

From the first day of the war a vicious air battle raged over the heads of the opposing forces as Polish fighters and German messerchmits engaged in no quarter dogfights.

Polish airforce was flying older, often obsolete aircraft but the skill of its pilots (later confirmed in the Battle of Britain) made up for the inadequacies.

All in all Polish pilots destroyed 285 and damaged 279 German planes for the loss of 333 destoyed (further 116 have been evacuated to Romania upon the conclusion of the war, another 100 have been destroyed by Poles to save them from capture).

The common myth is that arguably the most skilled airforce of the WW2 was destroyed on the ground, that is of course false, even German records show clearly that Poles accounted well for themselves, in the air.

Polish airforce flown several types of planes in September 1939.

Pzl7 and Pzl11

Both fighters were by the 1939 obsolete, however despite their weak armament and slow speed they accounted for over 300 damaged and destroyed German planes, most of them were not destroyed in the air but evacuated to Romania where the machines were incorporated into Romanian Air Force and the pilots went on to make a name for themselves in the Battle of Britain.

Polish airforce had two primary models of bombers.

A tactical bomber, as outdated as his fighter cousins he was non the less responsible for some succesfull bombing runs, it is unknow how many vehicles the Germans lost exactly to Polish bombers but the number goes into hundreds.

Unlike the fighter this model was mostly destroed in the air, extremely slow and weakly armed not even the skill of its crews could redeem its weaknesses.

A far more succesfull younger brother of the Karaś, this bomber though also voulnarable was fast, well armed and carried a good payload - Pzl Łoś.

Fokker military transport, played a crucial role during the evacuation, most ended up in Romania.
July 18th, 2009  
Polish airforce in September 1939, live action.

RWD Czapla recon plane taking off to provide targeting solutions for artillery.

Masking the fighter on a temporary airfield.

A motorised Waffen-SS column after a bombing run by Polish tactical bombers.

Crew of Pzl Łoś tactical bombers saddle up for action.

Tactical bombers on a temporary runway (no sheep have been harmed when taking this picture).

German column massacred by Polish bombers (note the toppled Pz II).

All in all Polish airforce remained active untill September 17 when establishing further airfields became imposible due to the Red Army overruning Polish rears, in percentage of destroyed to lost airplanes the Polish airforce was the most effective force after RAF.

The total number of machines destroyed on the ground ranges between 31 and 42 out of over 500 total Polish airplanes, the myth of ground destruction originated early after the war when the West would not admit that a country that got sold out had such an effective fighting force.


German advance into Poland, Polish counteroffensive and the stalemate.
July 18th, 2009  
I can tell that none of the Polish equipments match to the superior German equipments at that time, at least, the Poles had the hearts and spirits for their country. Great thread.
July 18th, 2009  
Originally Posted by Fox
I can tell that none of the Polish equipments match to the superior German equipments at that time, at least, the Poles had the hearts and spirits for their country. Great thread.
Actually quite a lot of the equipment matched or was superior to the German one which is the point of this thread, the issue is quantity.

For example 7TP tank was on par with the best German design, Polish AT weaponry was superior to anything and everything Germany had, Polish self propelled guns and artillery were superior by principle of Germans not having any in 1939.

The problem is that Germany had more of pretty much everything (thanks to USA by the way).

Poland was a country destroyed in WW1 but technologically advanced, the primary difference is that Polish modern equipment was scarce, where Poland had outdated equipment it was due to economic shortage rather than technological inneficiencies, in 1939 Polish military technology was among the leading in Euorope (we'll get to that later on though).

Germany on the other hand was not destroyed in WW1 and was the site of major US investments.

As for German technology, the most advanced German tanks in 1939 were Czech 35(t) and 38(t) native German designs were rubbish.

The only real non-mythical technological dominance was in the air and even there Poles managed to trade destroyed planes on 1 to 1 basis.

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