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World War II

The German Sixth Army on Stalingrad's Approaches

on Fri, 08/19/2011 - 16:17

By August of 1942 reinforcements sent to assist Army Group B's drive on Stalingrad had transformed the German Sixth Army from a potent assembly of men and machines to the most powerful army in the world, with 22 divisions and supporting units under the command of General Friedrich Paulus. Facing the Sixth Army, and Fourth Panzer Army's seven German and four Romanian divisions, was a Soviet Stalingrad Front that had been decimated in July.

How The Air War in the Mediterranean Theater Undermined Germany's Strategic Effort in 1942

on Tue, 07/11/2017 - 17:51

When it comes to World War II, at times it's hard to get past the numbers. After all, they are huge. In the course of civilization there has never been a more destructive war. However, it's imperative in analyzing the reasons why the war ended as it did that we also take account how much qualitative factors proved the trump card in determining victory or defeat.

How the British Strategic Position in 1942 Highlights The Mediterranean Theater's Role in Undermining Germany's Schwerpunkt

on Mon, 06/05/2017 - 00:39

I have often and long argued that the Mediterranean Theater of the War became not just a crucial drain on Nazi Germany's efforts during the Second World War - but perhaps represented the primary cause Hitler's war machine failed to lock down a long-term strategic advantage in Eastern Europe during 1942. There are numerous reasons why this is true. This month I would like to further develop a few of those elements.

World War II: Getting Past the Numbers

on Tue, 04/18/2017 - 19:59

The Second World War ended seventy-two years ago. Yet, today it is still easy to find historians arguing that the reason Germany lost the war boiled down to a numbers game. Perhaps the leading advocate of the brute force thesis behind Germany's predetermined defeat is David Stahel.

The Three Levels of War: Strategy, Operational Art, and Tactics

on Fri, 03/31/2017 - 15:19

War fighting has long been dominated by concepts of strategy and tactics. However, in the period between the World Wars a newer concept in military thought fully matured as it's own level of war: the operational art. This vital element of war making was perhaps best described by one of the pioneers in bringing the operational art to life: Soviet military theorist and strategist Alexander Andreyevich Svechin who nearly a century ago wrote, "tactics makes the steps from which operational leaps are assembled; strategy points out the path" (quoted from David Glantz's book Soviet Military

U-Boats in the Black Sea

on Tue, 02/14/2017 - 00:30

Last week I examined the U-boat war in the Arctic. This week I'd like to turn your attention roughly 2,000 miles to the south. There in the Black Sea, the Soviet Navy faced off against the Axis powers in a poorly understood war that nevertheless featured nearly the full spectrum of potential naval operations: from amphibious landings, to big-gun fire support for ground forces, convoy battles, sea-control efforts, sea-denial operations, anti-shipping missions, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), mine laying and clearing, and submarine warfare.

In this article we shall look at the battle beneath the

U-Boats in the Arctic: An Expensive German Mistake

on Thu, 02/09/2017 - 20:40

The Nazi war against the Soviet Union defined the Second World War's outcome. Had the Germans focused single-mindedly on fighting that war (following their unprovoked June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union code-named Operation Barbarossa) the world may look very different today. Thankfully, they did not. In fact, during the war's critical years of 1941-1942 the Mediterranean theater would prove to be the biggest drain on the German war effort. Nonetheless, and somewhat paradoxically, another problematic distraction would prove to be the naval battles in the frigid Arctic Ocean.

During the

Stalingrad: Why the Factory District Assault Failed

on Thu, 12/15/2016 - 21:04

By September 26, 1942 the German Sixth Army had taken the bulk of Stalingrad's southern and central sectors. Though the 62nd Army stood nearly as strong on September 26th in terms of personnel as it had two weeks prior it's tank strength had dropped considerably from where it had once been. For instance, the primary armored reinforcements sent into the city consisted of light tanks that failed to replace the much more valuable T-34 medium tanks and KV-series heavy tanks lost in the September fighting. In short, the 62nd Army was in trouble.

However, Paulus was not able to build on the

The Geography of Stalingrad: August 1942

on Tue, 11/29/2016 - 00:43

Late in August of 1942 the German Sixth Army bore down on Stalingrad. The German commander, General Freidrich Paulus, had much to contemplate regarding how he would approach the task of seizing the city that would become the bane of his existence and end his military career in catastrophic fashion. Stalingrad sprawled down the broad Volga River's western bank in a long (at over 25 miles) strip of land. Problematically for it's defenders, the Volga's western bank rose significantly higher than it's east bank.

The T-70 Light Tank's Crucial Role in the 1942 Era Red Army

on Wed, 04/20/2016 - 20:16

When most people think of the Red Army circa 1942 they imagine a war machine on the rise, and blessed with fleets of wordclass T-34 medium tanks. On the one hand it's true that by the spring of 1942 Soviet tank factories cranked out far more T-34's than they had during the nadir of Soviet fortunes late in 1941. But, for a number of reasons (including both T-34 losses at the front as well as the decision to parcel out T-34's in independent tank brigades versus concentrating them in the Tank Corps) there were never enough of these reliable, well armed armored fighting vehicles to go around.

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