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Hogg addressed the issue of horses towing artillery in one of his books in this way, that I will paraphrase: Between the wars the debate was how guns should be moved. Mechanisation was coming in, but a truck could be disabled by a single shell splinter and the gun would not be able to be moved. If six or eight horses were being used, and one horse was wounded, the rest of the team could still pull the gun, not quite as efficiently or as far, but the gun would not be immobilised.

 

Yep...and the exact same line of thinking then led to resistance against SP mounts. The idea was if a prime mover was disabled a new one could be used, but a immobilized SP gun was a total loss. It took research done in the 1970s and 1980s, some by HERO/DMSi, to conclusively prove that wrong.

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Wouldn't the mechanism likely to have killed one horse at substantial range from the battle field likely have also injured or killed the other horses in a team? Wouldn't that be shell splashes and the like rather than random odd bullets?

 

If that was the case, then all the gunners who had fought through the Great War would have argued for mechanisation rather than horse traction. They were working from their own experience, but also remember that Britain experimented with mechanical traction with the Vickers Dragon and Light Dragon, the Light Dragon indirectly leading to the Universal Carrier.

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SPGs were a huge success because they could quickly evacuate a firing position while getting shot at. Horses are not controllable with shells impacting at 200 m distance, even before the impacts are corrected to the battery. Thinly-armoured open-topped SPGs on the other hand simply started the engine and drove away.

 

One SPG disabled by technical issues could be towed by another SPG for short distances at the very least (unless the technical issue was with the tracks, a jammed brake or gearbox jammed).

 

Overall, SPGs proved to be vastly more available for actual firing than towed counterparts in the German army during 1944-1945, especially when the frontline was on the move. There were also less casualties in SPG batteries than in towed howitzer batteries.

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My g'father joined the Army in 1919 and retired in 1959. He told me the smartest thing the Army ever did was to replace the draft animals with motor vehicles.

 

Some of the reasons given by the Field Artillery for not replacing draft animals are interesting...for example, it meant that the Battery Commander would lose his riding horses and wouldn't be able to play polo anymore...quelle horreur. :D

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I have somewhere read the opposite- that (Wehrmacht) SPGs so often had a breakdown in the vehicle disabling the gun, whereas in towed batteries you could always commandeer motor vehicles or horses from other units (a question of priority) and thus still have the gun operating.

 

Anyway, no matter what may be the best in theory - that didn't necessarily give you an option. It never was an option to fully motorise a 2-300 Division Army like Wehrmacht or Red Army - a British or US infantry Division had about three times as many motor vehicles as a German. And even if you could produce all those trucks incl. spares - and the fuel through some miracle - you still wouldn't have the road to drive all those trucks on - at least not the East Front, where 3/4 of the Wehrmacht was engaged.

 

In that context horse draft in the Divisional artillery and the forward echelons of the supply system perhaps wasn't such a bad idea. But perhaps the Wehrmacht early should have bought a number of those sturdy Russian rural horses and started a huge breeding programme. They were much more suited than the big beautiful German draft horses needing oats and a horsecloth.

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I have somewhere read the opposite- that (Wehrmacht) SPGs so often had a breakdown in the vehicle disabling the gun, whereas in towed batteries you could always commandeer motor vehicles or horses from other units (a question of priority) and thus still have the gun operating.

 

WAG: That was German (shortage of) motorisation and maintanance. The SPG at hand were constantly needed in action.

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I have somewhere read the opposite- that (Wehrmacht) SPGs so often had a breakdown in the vehicle disabling the gun, whereas in towed batteries you could always commandeer motor vehicles or horses from other units (a question of priority) and thus still have the gun operating.

 

Anyway, no matter what may be the best in theory - that didn't necessarily give you an option. It never was an option to fully motorise a 2-300 Division Army like Wehrmacht or Red Army - a British or US infantry Division had about three times as many motor vehicles as a German. And even if you could produce all those trucks incl. spares - and the fuel through some miracle - you still wouldn't have the road to drive all those trucks on - at least not the East Front, where 3/4 of the Wehrmacht was engaged.

 

In that context horse draft in the Divisional artillery and the forward echelons of the supply system perhaps wasn't such a bad idea. But perhaps the Wehrmacht early should have bought a number of those sturdy Russian rural horses and started a huge breeding programme. They were much more suited than the big beautiful German draft horses needing oats and a horsecloth.

My unit had a report from the early 30's from doing their first non-horse drawn exercise, it went on and on about the advantages in speed, manpower trucks gave and the reduced logistical issue of feeding and maintaining horses.

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I have somewhere read the opposite- that (Wehrmacht) SPGs so often had a breakdown in the vehicle disabling the gun, whereas in towed batteries you could always commandeer motor vehicles or horses from other units (a question of priority) and thus still have the gun operating.

 

Of course, because it does help if you have a fully-functional maintenance and spare parts system. :D

 

 

Anyway, no matter what may be the best in theory - that didn't necessarily give you an option. It never was an option to fully motorise a 2-300 Division Army like Wehrmacht or Red Army - a British or US infantry Division had about three times as many motor vehicles as a German. And even if you could produce all those trucks incl. spares - and the fuel through some miracle - you still wouldn't have the road to drive all those trucks on - at least not the East Front, where 3/4 of the Wehrmacht was engaged.

 

The 1. Welle divisions had 394 PKW, 615 LKW and Zgkw, and 527 motorcycles, the 2. Welle 393, 509, and 497, respectively. The 3. Welle 330, 248, and 415, and the 4. Welle 359, 618, and 329. Later divisions (except those raised specifically as static occupational divisions) all had more or less similar motor vehicle establishments until the Infanterie-Division n.A. (later the Typ-43) reorganization in the fall of 1943 drastically reduced the number of motor vehicles (which, in fact, recognized a de facto front organization in effect for most divisions by mid-1942). The American infantry division had roughly 524 trucks and tractors (including M3 HT) and 852 personnel carriers (1/4-ton and 1 1/2-ton trucks), and no motorcycles (the Jeep replaced them in the division in July 1943). So, effectively similar numbers of motor vehicles...in theory. The American vehicles were more standardized and on the whole more capable as military vehicles.

 

 

In that context horse draft in the Divisional artillery and the forward echelons of the supply system perhaps wasn't such a bad idea. But perhaps the Wehrmacht early should have bought a number of those sturdy Russian rural horses and started a huge breeding programme. They were much more suited than the big beautiful German draft horses needing oats and a horsecloth.

 

Well, they didn't buy them, but they did expropriate large numbers of the Panje Ponies. :D

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The Wehrmacht tried to at least reduce the diversity of civilian brands in divisions since 1943 or so.

Photographic evidence suggests that such efforts had negligible effect.

 

They did sort out the outright unsuitable vehicles (Tatra trucks and such) from army field formations and limited them to rear area, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine use.

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The Wehrmacht tried to at least reduce the diversity of civilian brands in divisions since 1943 or so.

Photographic evidence suggests that such efforts had negligible effect.

 

They did sort out the outright unsuitable vehicles (Tatra trucks and such) from army field formations and limited them to rear area, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine use.

 

It wasn't 1943, it was March 1939 when Oberst Adolf von Schell presented the plan commissioned in November 1938. By that time it was becoming obvious the Einheits program vehicles were too complex (the Einheits series vehicles were discontinued by 1941). Schell's plan reduced the number of LKW types in Wehrmacht service from 114 to 19 and PKW from 52 to 30. The plan became effective on 1 January 1940. However, the effect was minimal, since it only applied to production in the Grossreich, where motor vehicle manufacturer was severely curtailed during mobilization when much of the exiting plant was converted to manufacturing other components (such as for aircraft production) or was idled. It also of course had no effect on the huge number of vehicles seized in Poland, France and the Low Countries, and the Balkans, which were pressed into Wehrmacht service.

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The DAK too? One would think that such a small force was less patchwork than the Ostheer in terms of motors vehicles.

 

IIRC, about 20% of the Grossraumtransport of DAK were comprised of civilian vehicles requisitioned in Tripoli.

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The Wehrmacht tried to at least reduce the diversity of civilian brands in divisions since 1943 or so.

Photographic evidence suggests that such efforts had negligible effect.

 

They did sort out the outright unsuitable vehicles (Tatra trucks and such) from army field formations and limited them to rear area, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine use.

 

It wasn't 1943, it was March 1939 when Oberst Adolf von Schell presented the plan commissioned in November 1938. By that time it was becoming obvious the Einheits program vehicles were too complex (the Einheits series vehicles were discontinued by 1941). Schell's plan reduced the number of LKW types in Wehrmacht service from 114 to 19 and PKW from 52 to 30. The plan became effective on 1 January 1940. However, the effect was minimal, since it only applied to production in the Grossreich, where motor vehicle manufacturer was severely curtailed during mobilization when much of the exiting plant was converted to manufacturing other components (such as for aircraft production) or was idled. It also of course had no effect on the huge number of vehicles seized in Poland, France and the Low Countries, and the Balkans, which were pressed into Wehrmacht service.

 

 

No, you're referring to the production planning. I was writing about the mid-war Typenbereinigung.

Some general did also gut the quantity of motorcycles in infantry divisions by very much while on a break from front service, IIRC it was v.Mellenthin.

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No, you're referring to the production planning. I was writing about the mid-war Typenbereinigung.

Some general did also gut the quantity of motorcycles in infantry divisions by very much while on a break from front service, IIRC it was v.Mellenthin.

 

 

Okay, yes I see what you meant now. Yes, the 1943 reduction in vehicles associated with the reorganization of the Infanterie, Infanterie (mot), and Panzer divisions to the Typ-43 and Frei Gliederung reorganization of the Tross in 1943-1944 resulted in a considerable reduction in the number of motor vehicles in the Infanterie, as well as a considerable rationalization in motorization at the front overall.

 

I'm not sure how Mellenthin could do anything about gutting or augmenting motorcycles in units since it literally wasn't his department? :D

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A bad truck is still better than no truck.

 

Yes, but a good or bad truck with no fuel isn't a truck, it's a stationary object. The number of vehicles in the infantry division was scaled back to reduce fuel consumption.

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Surely, as the supply situation was dire, but it does not say anything about the value of motorisation. It is obvious that motorized units only make sense if you can get them the POL they need.

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What was wrong with the WWII era Tatras?

Die tschechischen Marken Tatra, Skoda und Praga führten den Bau der eigenen Typen (...) bis zum Kriegsende weiter. Diese Fahrzeuge wurden zum großen Teil den Armeen verbündeter Staaten zur Verfügung gestellt (...). Die tschechischen Sechsrad-Gelände-.Lastkraftwagen mit Zentralrohrrahmen, Pendelschwingachsen und zwillingsbereiften Hinterrädern vermochten die hoffnungsvollen Erwartungen nicht zu erfüllen, die man in sie setzte. Galten doch bis dahin gerade die Fahrzeuge dieser Bauart als Paradebeispiele für kompromißlos gebaute Geländeautomobile.

Dabei zeigten sie sich inbezug auf die Geländegängigkeit dem Einheits-Diesel oder dem 3 to Opel-Blitz als beträchtlich unterlegen. Überdies waren die komplizierten Fahrwerke und erstaunlicherweise auch die Motoren derart störungsanfällig, daß die tschechischen Gelände-Lastkraftwagen bei den deutschen Soldaten bald ebenso unbeliebt wie gefürchtet waren. Die Fahrzeuge fielen - und zwar keineswegs durch Feindeinwirkung - beim Vormarsch nach Rußland bereits in den ersten Wochen fast alle aus, und die wenigen übriggebliebenen wurden dann beim Troß oder als Werkstattwagen für die (Instandsetzuungstrupps) verwendet (...).

"The Czech brands Tatra, Skoda and Praga continued the production of their own types till war's end. These vehicles were mostly provided to armies of allied states. The czech six wheel offroad trucks with central tubular frame (?), pendulum oscillating axles (?) and twin-wheeled rear wheels were not able to fulfil the high hopes. Vehicles of this design were considered exemplary no-compromise design offroad motor vehicles.

They proved to be considerably inferior in offroad mobility to EInheits-Diesel (German 2-t on 6x6 trucks) or the 3 ton Opel Blitz (he likely meant the 4x4 "A" version of the famous truck). Furthermore, their complicated chassis frames and astonishingly also their engines were so very much prone to breakdowns, that the Czech trucks were soon as unpopular as feared among the German soldiers. Almost all the vehicles failed - and not at all due to enemy action - during the advance to Russia already in the first few weeks, and the few survivors were then used in the train or as repair shop vehicles."

(The text goes on after the quote stating that workshops had the personnel to take proper care of these trucks, if there was such personnel anywhere at all.)

 

----------------

 

So quite the same issue as with the "Einheits-" cars of the Wehrmacht. The 1930's ideas of optimal offroad motor vehicles were overengineered in both Germany and Czechoslovakia. They were too thirsty, too expensive, too susceptible (and some German "Einheits"-car designs were also too prone to accidents due to two-axle steering).

The most successful vehicles were the VW Kübelwagen (which didn't have 4x4, but a smooth underside, robust air-cooled engine and was very lightweight), the Opel 3-ton "Blitz" truck (standard or "S" version) and its later 4x4 "A" version.

 

related

https://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2009/07/lessons-from-german-military-vehicle.html

 

 

BTW, this may also explain why so few all-wheels tractors were in use with the Wehrmacht for guns heavier than 700 kg. "Opel Blitz A" was useful up to 7.5 cm Pak 40 weights, except on soft soils. The few precious Einheitsdiesel survivors were not rebuilt into tractors despite potential; they were valued as radio vehicles and such.

Half-tracks were not available in the desirable quantity

Edited by lastdingo
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"(The text goes on after the quote stating that workshops had the personnel to take proper care of these trucks, if there was such personnel anywhere at all.)"

Ahh, so the issue was the ability to have the troops perform proper maintenance on them rather than bad designs per se? My neighbor has a Pinzgauer which is arguably far more complex than my 2.5 ton M35. Both from the same time frame but with VERY different philosophies of design.

Both can be abused, but the repairs of the 2.5 ton's axle are easier than the repairs of the Pinzgauer axle. However, the pinzgauer can go places I couldn't dream of taking my Deuce. From studies of the Tatra equivalents, they're setup the same as the Pinzgauer and are likewise FAR more capable off road.

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