Reb wrote:It wasn't just Guderian - panzer officers were shocked by that - the shock probably ameliorited to an extent by promotions created by the expansion.
Really, perhaps you could name a few and reference their remarks on this subject?
But it took just such a man as Guderian to stand up to Hitler, whose "brilliant" idea of halving the panzers in a div to get twice as many divs was to reap such wonderful dividends. The worst being that he now felt he had enough pz divs to defeat Russia. The next worse being that the pz divs ALWAYS fought with less tanks than needed.
Sorry, but to be blunt, that is absolute Bovine Fecal Matter.
Guderian "stood up" to Hitler exactly once and was relieved of his command as a result. And, BTW, Hitler was probably right and Guderian wrong in that case.
As to "halving" the division that is also BFM. The division of 1939 had two Panzer regiments, each of two battalions, for a total of four (Pz.Div. 10. and Kempf only had one regiment) for 24 battalions in divisions plus 9 in the leichte Divisionen and Heerestruppen. For Fall GELB in 1940 the original five divisions (1.-5.) and 10. maintained that organization, the reformed leichte-Panzer Divisionen (6.-9.) each had a single three-battalion regiment. So a total of 36 battalions in divisions.
Following GELB extensive analysis of the campaign was done and - except for a dissenting opinion by Guderian (I have a copy of the document somewhere) - the commanders were uninamimous in agreeing that the single three-battalion regiment organization was much more efficient. Furthermore, with greater production of Panzer-III and IV firepower in the battalion could be maintained with fewer tanks assigned.
So by mid 1941 the divisions were organized with single regiments of two battalions (1., 2., 4., 5., 9., 10., 11., 13., 14., 16.) or three battalions (3., 6., 7., 8., 12., 15., 17., 18., 19., 20., 21.) for a total of 55 battalions in divisions. So while the number of divisions slightly more than doubled, the total armor strength was not halved, it increased by just over 1.5 times. Of course, each Panzer battalion was supported by proportianately more artillery and infantry, supply services were simplified, and redundent command echelons were eliminated, so the divisions were more efficient and flexible.
For the Germans it was much worse since their TO&E constantly dropped the number of tanks in a div lower and lower anyway. A 60 tank bn can fluctuate by 20 to 30% without a shot being fired (which could mean a US div down as many as a battalions worth of tanks just from a road march) I reckon bigger is better if you want tank runners available.
I see. But sadly that is also incorrect. The nominal strength of the battalion in 1939 was 80 tanks, most of which were Panzer I or II. In 1940 it was nominally 85, more powerful tanks. In 1941 it was dropped to 77 but consisted of many more powerful tanks. In 1943 it went to 96 tanks, eliminating all of the Panzer-I and II. In 1944 it went to 76. In the final days it was dropped to 44, but it is unlikely that any units actually adopted that organization.
In contrast the US battalion initially consisted of 54 tanks and then later of 77.
You can always grab some infantry somewhere and although the armd inf are worth their weight in gold - they are specialist troopos.
Some times the halftracks and all the maintenance backup they require get in the way of getting things done.
The problem with the armored infantry battalion then (its worse now in a Mech Inf Bn) was that all the vehicles and equipment it had meant that it had little in the way of infantry. Typically, it was expected that in a battalion of over 1,000 men, more than 200 more than in a "leg" battalion, only about 450 were riflemen. Essentially the battalions were personnel hogs.
So how many bns do you need of specialist troops and how many of regular cannon fodder? The SS were happy with six, the heer and Brits with four, and the US with three (plus frequent attachments of regular inf).
The SS were a special case and the Brits were unique - to be charitable. The US organization was universally held to be lacking most in infantry. The common thread in the notes maintained by the SHAEF AFV&W Section and 12th AG Armor Section was that the best organiztion was a division of 3 or 4 armored battalions (depending on the battalion organization and equipment that was adopted) and 6 armored infantry battalions.
The key is to find the right mix of everything. Guderian's original six battalions of panzers may have been overkill but less than four is underkill.
He never had six and four was universally held to be too many. Two regiments required a brigade headquarters that made the division too unwieldy and four battalions couldn't be run by a single regimental headquarters. Three was pretty much held as the ideal, but of course eventually they were forced to accept two (but then they were four instead of three-company battalions, so it was a reduction from 9 to 8 companies, so again was probably slightly more efficient, the same reasoning was behind the US change of 15 July 1943).
Oddly enough Guderian, being the loon he was, tried to backdoor his organization into the Panzerwaffe when he became IG of Panzertruppen. He was the one that pushed for the creation of the Panzer Brigade headquarters, which he saw as a reserve formation consisting of two Panther battalions and possibly a Tiger battalion, that could be attached to a Panzer Division, whereupon it would take over the divisions Panzer regiment and two battalions and then, presto!, you would have a four or even five battalion Panzer division.
Of course it's surprising, but he somehow missed that the Panther battalions were being formed by withdrawing a battalion from the divisions, leaving them with one....
To me the American light armd div had the proportions right: 1 bn of armd inf for each tank bn. They were just short a battalion of each. (And by that theory the heavy divs were short an inf bn.)
Funny, the guys on the ground that did the fighting in them disagreed with you.
I'd note that the British whinging about too few infantry is actually a self inflicted wound. Villers Bocage comes to mind as a good example of their problem. Wittman's little bit of mayhem makes good reading but was a pinprick. The fact that Erskine didn't bother to use his Lorried Inf Brigade was a not atypical judgement call - not a problem with TO&E.
Sigh, their bizarre TO&E and the doctrine it was designed for, has everything to do with the porblems they had. BTW, Erskine did use his Lorried Brigade, just as it was designed to be used, to secure his divisional "base", maintaining a "safe harbour" for his armour to retuyrn to.
Seriously though, it was one of the Queens battalions in VB and their antitank guns that eventually wrecked the German counterattack.
Cheers right back at you Reb,