Were the Russian Tank Armies skillfully used in pincer attacks on the Eastern Front?




 
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June 7th, 2008  
errol
 
 

Topic: Were the Russian Tank Armies skillfully used in pincer attacks on the Eastern Front?


The Russian T-34 tank was the best tank of the ww 2. But were their tank armies used with great skill, particularly in pincer movements? I believe that the Germans had the best tank commanders of the war and were far more skilled in their use of their tank divisions compared to any other adversary. Even after Stalingrad, German tank commanders still were more than a match for their Russian opponents.

What do people think about the Russian Tank commanders. Were they that good or was it a great tank with overwhelming numbers that was the deciding element?
June 7th, 2008  
MontyB
 
 
I imagine much like all armies the Russians had both good and bad tank commanders.

I certainly think it is hard to argue with the quality of German formations especially given that they finished the war with something close to a 6 to 1 kill ratio in their favour (Tiger I was ~5.8:1, Pz III around 6.1:1 and Pz IV ~ 5.0:1) although they had a huge number of supposedly inferior targets to pick from.

I guess in the end I will go with option B: They may not have been on the exact same level as their German counterparts in both training and vehicle but by 1945 they were close enough for the difference to not matter.
June 7th, 2008  
Doppleganger
 
 
I'm not sure about your blanket statement that the T-34 was the best tank of WW2. It was certainly one of the best but 2 German tanks and another Russian one could also possibly lay claim to the title.

The Russian tank crews got better and better as the war went on, though they were still under trained compared to their German counterparts, except for some noted exceptions. As German training and manpower quality began to fall away as the war went on, so the gap became narrower and narrower. There were some excellent Soviet tank commanders at the tactical and operational level; Rokossovsky, Katukov and Lelyushenko to name three.

The Russians did not employ the tanks exactly as the Germans deep. The Red Army used massed artillery on a much bigger scale than the Germans did and also favoured the principle of Deep Operations rather than Blitzkrieg. In line with this, the Red Army conducted operations that relied on overwhelming force as the key driver for success rather than tactical skill.
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June 7th, 2008  
MontyB
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
I'm not sure about your blanket statement that the T-34 was the best tank of WW2. It was certainly one of the best but 2 German tanks and another Russian one could also possibly lay claim to the title.
You know I am leaning toward agreeing with him about the T-34 being the best overall tank of WW2, it was:
- Easily manufactured (unlike its German counter parts).
- It was easier to maintain in the field than German vehicles.
- It could take and deliver a punch similar to that of its enemy.

There is no doubt that German tanks were quality manufacturing but there too few and too many variants.

I am interested as to which two German tanks you rate up there as I can think of three, PzIV, Panther and Tiger I, I have read several theories that had Germany just made and upgraded the Pz IV and dropped the other two they would have been far better off.
June 7th, 2008  
LeEnfield
 
 
The T34, it was crude, easily made, well gunned, and well armoured. The tracks were extra wide for the poor conditions that you find in Russia. The German machines like the Tiger and one or two other German tanks should have been better but they had been pushed into service to quickly to try and counter the T34 and they were not so reliable as they should have been. Now the Russian produced them so quickly they would swamp the German Tigers and take high losses to do it. I would say that the T34 was possible one of the best tanks of the war and neither Britain or America produced a tank in numbers that was it's equal
June 7th, 2008  
The Other Guy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeEnfield
The T34, it was crude, easily made, well gunned, and well armoured. The tracks were extra wide for the poor conditions that you find in Russia. The German machines like the Tiger and one or two other German tanks should have been better but they had been pushed into service to quickly to try and counter the T34 and they were not so reliable as they should have been. Now the Russian produced them so quickly they would swamp the German Tigers and take high losses to do it. I would say that the T34 was possible one of the best tanks of the war and neither Britain or America produced a tank in numbers that was it's equal
Well said. The Sherman was totally inferior, not as bad as the Churchill, but miles and miles behind anything Russia or Germany produced. The Germans had nothing to compete with the T34 initially so they rushed the Tigers. The T34 was another prime example of how the russians worked; cheap, reliable, well built, and competent.
June 8th, 2008  
errol
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
I'm not sure about your blanket statement that the T-34 was the best tank of WW2. It was certainly one of the best but 2 German tanks and another Russian one could also possibly lay claim to the title.

The Russian tank crews got better and better as the war went on, though they were still under trained compared to their German counterparts, except for some noted exceptions. As German training and manpower quality began to fall away as the war went on, so the gap became narrower and narrower. There were some excellent Soviet tank commanders at the tactical and operational level; Rokossovsky, Katukov and Lelyushenko to name three.

The Russians did not employ the tanks exactly as the Germans deep. The Red Army used massed artillery on a much bigger scale than the Germans did and also favoured the principle of Deep Operations rather than Blitzkrieg. In line with this, the Red Army conducted operations that relied on overwhelming force as the key driver for success rather than tactical skill.
I think you've answered my question Doppleganger. The Russians didn't have to depend on matching the Germans skill in pincer attacks. They had numbers in tanks, massed artillery, German losses couldn't be made up so they had great holes in their lines, so easy to punch through. Massive casualities didn't seem to worry the Russians.

I have also read that the attack and encirclement of Berlin by the Russians was not well coordinated, became a bit of a free for all, with many more Russian casualties than there should have been.
July 20th, 2008  
Bacara
 
 
now I'm directly quoting this "The Russians have learnt a lot since 1941. They are no longer peasants with simple minds. They have learnt the art of war from us." Hoth to von Manstein. This tells you that even the great military leaders of Germany thought very highly of their Russian adversary.
July 20th, 2008  
Doppleganger
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MontyB
I am interested as to which two German tanks you rate up there as I can think of three, PzIV, Panther and Tiger I, I have read several theories that had Germany just made and upgraded the Pz IV and dropped the other two they would have been far better off.
I was thinking of the Panther and Tiger I, for different reasons.

One of the supporters of just focusing on the Panzer IV was Guderian - it really made a lot of sense from a production standpoint and the later models were good enough to engage allied enemy tanks on even terms. The German's early victories were not built on the quality of their tanks, which were in many ways 2nd rate, but because of the quality of their tactics and training.
July 20th, 2008  
MontyB
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
I was thinking of the Panther and Tiger I, for different reasons.

One of the supporters of just focusing on the Panzer IV was Guderian - it really made a lot of sense from a production standpoint and the later models were good enough to engage allied enemy tanks on even terms. The German's early victories were not built on the quality of their tanks, which were in many ways 2nd rate, but because of the quality of their tactics and training.

I don't necessarily agree that the Panzer IV would have been a good choice as it was nearing the end of its development cycle, if I was to choose any of the German tanks to concentrate on it would probably have been the Panther as it was far better design.
 


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