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Author Topic: Major Tank Battles of Operation Barbarossa  (Read 8835 times)
Mad Russian
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« on: 24 December 2008, 05:33:00 »
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The Major Tank Battles of Operation Barbarossa


22 June, 5th Tank Division fights to keep 8th Panzer Division of Hoth's Panzergruppe 3 forces from crossing the Nieman River. It is very likely that the T-34 was met first by the 8th Panzer Division on the opening day of the war since the  5th Tank Division was armed with both KV and T-34 tanks.

Forces in the Battle:

German:
8 Panzer Division
10th Panzer Regiment
49 Pz II
118 Pz38t
30 Pz IV (short 75mm gun, Models D, E & F)


Soviet:
3 Mechanized Corps

5th Tank Division - Not sure of the exact number of tanks but there were 25 KV models and 52 T-34's in the division at the start of the war.


PRIMARY SOURCES:

"Russian Armour 1941 - 1943" by Eric Grove

"Barbarossa to Berlin: A Chronology of the Campaigns on the Eastern Front 1941-1945 Volume 1 The Long Drive East 22 June 1941 to 18 November 1942" by Brian Taylor

Panzer Truppen: Vol. 1: The Complete Guide to the Creation & Combat employment of Germany's Tank Force 1933-1942 by Thomas L. Jentz

Vehicle models available to the Panzer Divisions is from:
Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War II by Peter Chamberlain, Hillary Doyle and Thomas L. Jentz

"Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War, 1941-1943" by David M. Glantz


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

23-26 June 1941, Rasienai Tank Battle - At 09:30  on June 22nd, Colonel-General F.I. Kuznetsov, ordered 3rd and 12th Mechanised Corps to take up their counterattack positions. These were flanking  positions for attacks on the 4th Panzer Group, specifically the 41st Panzer Corps, which had broken through to the river Dubysa (Dubissa). By noon, the Soviet divisions began to fall back. The German columns then began advancing towards Raseiniai. This was the same location Kuznetsov was concentrating his own armor for a major counterattack on the next day. By the evening of the 22nd, the Soviet formations had fallen back to the Dubysa. Northwest of Kaunas, forward elements of von Manstein's 56th Panzer Corps reached the Dubysa and seized the vital Ariogola road viaduct across it. Without this crossing, Germans tanks might have been trapped in what was a giant natural tank ditch. The dash to Dvinsk by the 8th Panzer Division would have been impossible.

 At 14:00 June 22nd, Command of 8th Soviet Army ordered the12th Mechanize Corps cooperate with 3rd Mechanize Corps, to destroy the enemy coming on Shaulay direction.

By the end of 22 June, the German armored spearheads had crossed the Nieman River and penetrated 80 kilometers (50 miles) into the Soviet defensive lines. The next day, Kuznetsov committed his armored forces to battle.

On the 23rd, hoping to avoid the attention of German aircraft the Soviet tanks operated in small columns; none-the-less, Major-General N.M. Shestopalov's 12th Mechanized was pounded by German bombers before reaching its start line . In the end all that forming the tanks up into small columns accomplished was to dilute Soviet tank strength. 

The Commander of 12th Mechanize Corps ordered  the 28th Tank Division and 202nd Motorize Division, cooperating with 3rd Mechanized Corps from Ughventis since morning of June 23, to attack German positions in  direction of Tauragen.  28th Tank Division led the attack initially on the morning of June 23rd. In the Kaltinenay area first the first contact  was made by 28th Tank Division forces and German tanks. The Soviet Tank Division drove the Germans back five kilometers and destroyed fourteen tanks and twenty guns.

After an overnight approach march (22-23 June), 2nd Tank Division, 3rd Mechanized Corps, hit the 6th Panzer Division from the south-east near the Tilsit-Shauliya highway.  It was here that German forces encountered a unit equipped with the Soviet KV heavy tanks for the first time. Gen. E.N. Solyalyankin's 2nd Tank Division attacked and overran elements of the German 4. Panzergruppe  near Skaudvil? on the 23rd of June.

The Germans were caught on the march and the 2nd Tank Division claimed up to 40 tanks and 40 guns destroyed of the German 100th Motorized Regiment.  The attack of the 2nd Tank Division stalled in the Rasienai area due to lack of fuel and was immobilized for much of the 24th. 12th Mechanized Corps suffered from the same fuel problems earlier, it's 690 tanks being immobilized for 5 hours on 23rd, before Colonel I. D. Chernyakhovskii's 28th Tank Division finally managed to get fuel and advance to engage 1st Panzer Division. 

The next day, the 24th of June, a single KV-2 heavy artillery tank, at a crossroads in front of Raseiniai, managed to cut off elements of the 6th Panzer Division which had established bridgeheads on the Dubysa. It stalled the Division's advance for a full day while being attacked by a variety of antitank weapons, until it finally ran out of ammunition.

During 23-26 June the 3rd and 12th Soviet Mechanized Corps fought the 1st and 6th Panzer Divisions in battles fought for the most part at extremely close ranges.  Over 250 Soviet tanks were involved, mostly the older types of T-26, BT's(BT-5, BT-7, BT-7M) but with some of the much larger KVs.  The KV-1 and KV-2's of the attacking Soviet formations caused considerable consternation among both the Germans and the Soviet infantry. The Germans however were trying to stop them with anti-tank shells which simply bounced off their armour plate. 

 June 25th, Soviet tank corps were given the task to rout the enemy to the southwest of Shaulay. However, because of delays to the 23rd Tank Division, 28th Tank Division was forced into heavy defensive fighting. The Soviets were no longer attacking but were now trying to hold the ground they had gained in the initial counterattack. During four hours of fighting on June 25th, the 28th Soviet Tank Division lost 48 tanks. By the end of the day the division had lost 84 tanks.

By the 26th, both the 1st and 6th Panzer Divisions managed to not only survive the Soviet attack but to cut through the Soviet lines and link up. German guns located on higher ground, along with the heavier German tanks of the 1st Panzer Division mostly destroyed the 3rd Mechanized Corps. Losses to the 2nd Tank Division were especially heavy. The Soviet 3rd Mechanised Corps, severely depleted due to losses in vehicles and personnel, as well as the 12th Mechanized, pulled back being low on  fuel and ammunition.

On June 27, troops of 28th TD have occupied a defense line on the Musha river. June 29, Germans have grasped bridgehead on the suburb of Riga, having cut off ways of retreat forces of 8th Army. 28th Tank Division was ordered to clear banks of an enemy. By sudden flank impact division forces rout an enemy. 8th Soviet Army covered by formations of 12th Mechanize Corps reatred on Riga and 28th TD on Madona-Pskov direction. At the same time 56th German Panzer Corps on June 24 has taken possession in Vilkomerz area of the large road conducting on Daugavpils. June 26 by one tank and one motorize division have reached West Dvina in area of Daugavpils and have grasped bridgehead on its right bank. Per the first day of war the Soviet rifle forces on the border were rout and German division of the first echelon of 3rd Panzer Group, using seized bridges in Alitus and Merkis area, were forwarded through the Neman river.

Forces in the Battle:


German:
1 Panzer Division
1st Panzer Regt.
43 Pz II
71 Pz III (long barrel 50mm gun, Model G & H)
20 Pz IV (short 75mm gun, Models D, E & F)

6 Panzer Division
11th Panzer Regiment
47 Pz II
155 Pz35t
30 Pz IV (short 75mm gun, Models D, E & F)

8 Panzer Division
10th Panzer Regiment
49 Pz II
118 Pz38t
30 Pz IV (short 75mm gun, Models D, E & F)


Soviet:
3 Mechanized Corps

2nd Tank Division -  Not sure of the exact number of tanks but there were 30 KV models in the division at the start of the war.
5th Tank Division (engaged the 8th Panzer Division on the Nieman River Not sure of the exact number of tanks but there were 25 KV models and 52 T-34's in the division at the start of the war.)
84th Motorized Division

12 Mechanized Corps
23rd Tank Division - 333 all older models which included T-26 and BT models.
28th Tank Division - 210 all older models which included T-26 and BT models.(engaged 1st and 6th Panzer Divisions)
131 Motorized Division - 108 all older models which included T-26 and BT models.

PRIMARY SOURCES:

"Russian Armour 1941 - 1943" by Eric Grove

http://balagan.org.uk/war/ww2/erickson.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Raseiniai

"Stumbling Colussus: The Red Army on the Eve of World War" by David M. Glantz

"Colossus Reborn: The Red Army at War, 1941-1943" by David M. Glantz

"Barbarossa to Berlin: A Chronology of the Campaigns on the Eastern Front 1941-1945 Volume 1 The Long Drive East 22 June 1941 to 18 November 1942" by Brian Taylor

http://hwar1941.narod.ru/epribal.htm

http://books.google.com/books?id=qX1eGWvQ6ngC&pg=PA162&lpg=PA162&dq=Rasienai&source=bl&ots=NhD4RdFQPI&sig=QQ5wecByAV9CCcryZ4A2rb7Eu74&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result#PPA155,M1

Panzer Truppen: Vol. 1: The Complete Guide to the Creation & Combat employment of Germany's Tank Force 1933-1942 by Thomas L. Jentz

Vehicle models available to the Panzer Divisions is from:
Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War II by Peter Chamberlain, Hillary Doyle and Thomas L. Jentz


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

22 June, XI Mechanized Corps attacks near Grodno. Grodno falls on 23 June. By 29 June the XI Mechanized Corps was destroyed.


____________________________

23 June XIV Mechanized Corps attacks towards Brest Litovsk. The Corps advanced on a 20km front but was stopped by 37mm and 50mm antitank guns.

____________________________

26 June XX Mechanized Corps attacks Panzergruppe 2 near Minsk to stop the German advance. The battle resulted in the Soviet tank formations being destroyed and the Corps continuing to fight with only it's infantry formations.

____________________________

27 June the first great encirclement is completed at Minsk.

____________________________

1 July 1st Moscow Motor Rifle Division attacks the 18th Panzer Division bridgehead over the Berezina River at Borisov. The two forces met 6 miles east of Borisov at the small village of Lipki.
 





PRIMARY SOURCES:

"Russian Armour 1941 - 1943" by Eric Grove

http://balagan.org.uk/war/ww2/erickson.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Raseiniai

"Stumbling Colussus: The Red Army on the Eve of World War" by David M. Glantz

http://hwar1941.narod.ru/epribal.htm

"Barbarossa to Berlin: A Chronology of the Campaigns on the Eastern Front 1941-1945 Volume 1 The Long Drive East 22 June 1941 to 18 November 1942" by Brian Taylor
« Last Edit: 30 December 2008, 07:01:21 by Mad Russian » Logged
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