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Myths about Polish campaign 1939

Printed From: History Community ~ All Empires
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Topic: Myths about Polish campaign 1939
Posted By: Mosquito
Subject: Myths about Polish campaign 1939
Date Posted: 08-Jan-2005 at 19:32

There are many myths about polish campaign 1939. They exists since 1939 and so many people all over the world still belives in them. Affcourse Poland was doomed anyway but i would like to clear few things for those who still belive in WW 2 myths.

First: Polish cavalry was charging on horses against german tanks.

This myth was created early on the begining of war by the german and italian journalists. Polish squadron of cavarly succesfully charged against german infantry and trucks creating havoc and forcing germans to retreat. Suddenly some german tanks arrived and polish cavalry retreated leaving 20 or 30 dead soldiers on the field. Next day Germans showned it to journalists claiming that Poles attacked tanks on horses.

Second: Polish army had no tanks, only obsolete rifles, horses and saber's.

Actually Polish army had tanks. In fact most of them were obsolete. Only 7TP was a modern light tank which was an equal opponent to all types of german tanks. The problem was that Poland had only a bit more than 100 such tanks.

7TP / 7-Tonowy Polski
Light Tank
 


 

In 1928, British Vickers-Armstrong designed the 6ton Tank Mark E and of which in 1931, Poland purchased 50 examples. 6ton Mark E was not accepted by the British Army but Vickers sold it along with a licence (in some cases) to Bolivia, Bulgaria, China, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Japan, Portugal, Romania, Russia (T-26 series) and Thailand (Siam). Two types Mark A and Mark B were purchased along with the licence. 16 Model A and 22 B were delived in 1932 and 1933, while the rest remained as payment for the licence or were delivered as spare parts. The twin turret Mark A was armed with two 7.92mm Hotchkiss wz.25 and in late 1930s rearmed with 7.92mm Browning wz.30 machine guns. Single turret Mark B was armed with 47mm Vickers-Armstrong gun and 7.92mm wz.30 machine gun. The main problem with 6ton Vickers was its Siddeley engine, which easily overheated. After examination in Poland, it was decided to modify Mark E and start the development of their own light tank by improving Mark E. New tank development program was designated as VAU-33 (Vickers-Armstrong-Ursus 33), either jw (single turret) or dw (twin turret).

7TPjws on production line at Ursus PZInz. in 1939
7TPjws on production line at Ursus PZInz. in 1939.
Polish designers attempted to modify original Vickers tanks as late as 1936, including various armament configurations in twin turret models. Polish designers also worked on replacing original Armstrong-Siddeley engine with licensed built Swiss Sauer diesel engine as well as on improving its armor protection. Experience gained during the work was used in the development of new Polish tank and Vickers tanks remained in service to the outbreak of war without major modifications (e.g. cooling system was improved). In 1934, the development of domestic light tank designated 7TP (PZInz.220) based on Vickers Mark E started. In Spring of 1935, it was accepted for production and production of first 7TPdw with two small turrets, each armed with 7.92mm Browning wz.30 machine gun started. Other alternate armament was 13.2mm Browning wz.30 heavy machine gun mounted in one turret and 7.92mm Browning wz.30 machine gun in the other. Also considered was configuration with 37mm Puteaux SA 1918 gun in one of the turrets. 7TPdw was considered to be the temporary solution and only some 24 were produced, while the rest was finished as 7TPjw tanks. Early 7TPdw were mounted with turrets removed from 22 Vickers tanks in 1934, which were converted to single turret model.

Next variant was to be armed with a single turret armed with a heavier gun. Various designs and prototypes were presented and armaments included: 20mm, 40mm, 47mm and 55mm guns. In late 1936, second variant 7TPjw was ready and entered production in late 1937. It mounted a single turret manufactured by Swedish Bofors, armed with 37mm Bofors anti-tank gun and one 7.92mm Browning machine gun. Vehicles produced from late 1938, were fitted with turret mounted storage bins to mount 2N/C radio equipment. Original 7TPdw were slowly being converted to jw variant and by September of 1939, only 16-24 were in service. All 16-24 were at the training centre near Warsaw and in September of 1939, took part in the defence of the city. In 1938/39, work on new 7TP started and two designs were made for new tank designated as 9TP Both variants were to have modified 7TPjw's turret, a new engine (Saurer CT1D / PZInz.155 diesel engine), strengthened suspension and wider tracks along with improved armor protection. First variant was to be uparmormed (up to 40mm) version of 7TP, while second had more angled front armor. Outbreak of war stopped any futher development of 7TP and 9TP.

In January 1937, Sweden became interested in purchasing or renting of single 7TPjw for testing purposes along with a purchase of 20 to 60 unarmed tanks and C7P tractors, but Polish side was not interested. In April of 1937, Bulgaria and Estonia were interested in purchasing 7TPjw tanks. Estonia wanted to buy 4 tanks, but Poland was willing to sell only 7TPdw tanks and it was planned to create a hybrid of 7TPjw hull mounted with Vickers turret armed with cannon. In November of 1937, Holand was interested in 7TP, but also no transaction took place. In 1938, technical documentation for 7TPjw was send to Turkey in preparation for the transaction, which never took place. At the same time, Poland considered exporting 36 7TPjw tanks and Yugoslavia and Greece were both interested, but the transaction never took place.

7TPjws
7TPjw from 1st Company's 1st Platoon of 3rd Light Tank Battalion
in the area of Cieszyn, 1938.

Overall from 1935 to 1939, 7TP was built by Panstwowe Zaklady Inzynierii (National Engineering Works) at Ursus near Warsaw, in only two main variants - jw (single turret) and dw (twin turret).
Polish designers also developed light (artillery) tractor / troop carrier based on 7TP's chassis designated C7P. Production started in 1935 and first units received tractors in the same year.
In 1937, plans were also made to produce self-propelled anti-aircraft tank based on 7TP armed with two 20mm FK-A wz.38 L/73.5 automatic cannons (used to rearm http://www.linux-penguin.org/achtungpanzer/pol/poltk.htm - TKS tankettes ). The entire project was cancelled in 1938 and all efforts were concentrated on production and modernization of Polish armored fighting vehicles. Also few special rail transport cars were made especially for 7TP tanks (similar to those made for Polish Renault FT-17 light tanks) to allow them to travel as part of armored trains.

In September of 1939, Polish Army had only 136 7TPs (24 dw, 97 jw and 11 jw produced in September of 1939 along with 4 prototypes made of regular plate), which equipped two Polish light tank battalions (each with 49 tanks) and other units. During Polish Campaign, 7TP proved to be a match for any German Panzer. Some captured 7TPs were painted in Panzergrau with German markings and were presented during the victory parade in Warsaw on October 8, 1939. Later on captured 7TPs were used for internal policing duties and later on as artillery tractors. Number of captured 7TP tanks, especially jw variants was tested by the Soviets at Kubinka in 1939/40. Today, parts of 7TPjw light tank can seen in the Museum of Polish Armored Forces in Warsaw, Poland.


 

7TPjws
7TPjw Light Tanks from 3rd Tank Battalion in Warsaw, 1938/39.

Other models of new polish tanks were already in the phase of prototypes and tetes and were supposed to come to production on the begining of 40ties.

On this page you will find details and pictures of prototypes:

http://www.linux-penguin.org/achtungpanzer/pol/polprot.htm - http://www.linux-penguin.org/achtungpanzer/pol/polprot.htm

Third: Polish airforces were destroyed on the ground in the first days of war

Thisone is especially false. Actually Polish air forces were fighting till 17th September and scored considerable number of german planes. Poland had already modern bombers but the problem was that fighters were obsolete.

Polish PZL P 11 was one of the best worlds fighters but unfortunatelly on the begining of 30ties. In 1939 was completelly obsolete and not only slower than german fighters but even slower than german bombers. Poland on the other hand had advantage of having one of the best pilots all over world and they even on their obsolete planes were able to shot down more german planes than lost.

Some of the polish fighters were able in first 2 weeks to achive the rank of ace, shooting down at least 5 enemy planes, including even messerschimits BF 109.

According to some rescources polish pilots on PZL P7 (earlier version) and  P 11 destroyed 141 german planes in air combat and lost 118. But i also saw statistic which were saying that the number of german planes which were shot down by polish fighters was about 200. Finally they were able to prove their value during the battle of Britain where 146 polish fighter pilots who made 5% of all RAF figthers pilots who took part in the BoB, were responsible for shooting down 13% of all the german planes destroyed by RAF (according to statistics Polish fighters during BoB were loosing 1 plane on 9 german planes they were destroying). Polish squadron 303 (equipped with hurricanes) was during BoB the best in RAF and scored 50% more germans than the best british squadron.

 

Details of PZL P 11 and its combat use can be found here:

http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/PZL%20P.11c - http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/PZL%20P.11c

 

Unfortunatelly Poland didnt have time to start production of its new modern fighter PZL P 50 Jastrzab (Hawk) which would be an equal opponent for german fighters. The day when war was started Poland had only 1 unarmed PZL P 50 ready and about 20-30 on the assembly line.

On the picture PZL P 50 prototype during tests:

PZL P-50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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"I am a pure-blooded Polish nobleman, without a single drop of bad blood, certainly not German blood" - Friedrich Nietzsche



Replies:
Posted By: J.M.Finegold
Date Posted: 08-Jan-2005 at 22:15
Did you steal this from Musashi from the axis history forums? hehe, I would too...

However, a Polish cavalry attack was also written down by Guderian in his memoirs as fact.  One of his motorcycle reconaissance battallions was pressed by Polish cavalry and the commander asked for a withdrawl, but Guderian said no and something along the lines of, "what kind of motorized battalion withdraws in the face of cavalry?" and the Polish cavalry were beaten back.

As for Polish tanks, as you said above, most of them were machine gun carriers, like the Pz. I.  But there were 200 Panzer Is in Poland, so does that subtract from the total amounts of armor in the German campaign?


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Posted By: Mosquito
Date Posted: 08-Jan-2005 at 23:13

Originally posted by DuxPimpJuice

Did you steal this from Musashi from the axis history forums? hehe, I would too...

No, pics and info about 7 TP come from George Parada site "Achtung Panzer". There is link http://www.achtungpanzer.com/panzer.htm - http://www.achtungpanzer.com/panzer.htm

The pics of planes come from online enciclopedia's. Text is mine.

As for charges of polish cavalry there were only few during campaign:

Charge at Krojanty 01.09.1939:

2 squadrons of polish cavalry succesfully charged 800 german infantry from rear. They were forced to retreat by armoured vehicles which appeared from nearby forest. 25 polish soldiers died. German looses unknown (probably bigger).

Charge at Mokra 01. 09.1939

Succesfull charge of 2 squadrons against units of 4th panzer division which were getting rest in the forest.

 

Janow, Krzynowolga Mala 01.09.1939:

Unit of polish cavalry succesfully charge unit of german cavalry on the edge of forest. German cavalry fled.

Borowa - 02. 09.

1st squadron of 19th regiment of Volhynia uhlans charged squadron of german cavalry which which retreated without trying to fight.

Minsk Mazowiecki - 13. 09

1st squadron of 2nd regiment of Grochow uhlans charged Germans. The charge was broken, heavy casualties of Poles.

Maliszewo - 13. 09.

1st squadron of 27th regiment of  uhlans charged repulsed German troops capturing many prisoners and taking town Maliszewo.

Krasnobrod - 23. 09.

1st squadron of 25th uhlan regiment charged, suffered heavy casualties but took the town of Krasnobrod, capturing the HQ of german 8th infantry division. Against charge of polish uhlans charged unit of german cavalry which was broken and forced to retreat.

Husynne - 24. 09.

About 500 polish cavalry who were the reserves of 14th regiment of uhlans and squadron of horse police charged against Soviet infantry regiment. When soviets saw polish cavalry charging didnt even try to fight but run away and pursuing cavalry caused heavy soviet casualties. Against Polish charge came unit of soviet tanks causing also heavy casualties between Poles and forcing them to retreat. 

Morańce - 26. 09.

27th regiment of uhlans charged german infantry batalion. Polish charge was broken, 20 uhlans died and 50 were wounded.

 

Cavalry was rather used as mounted infantry and was also armed in swedish bofors antitank cannons and anti tank rifle's of polish design (which was able to pierce armours of all german tanks which were used in Poland). Unfortunatelly the antitank rifle was a secret weapon and most of the units recived it 30.08.1939, a day before war.



 

 

 

 

 

One of the cavalry brigades was even able to stop german 4th panzer division destroying over 50 tanks.

Belowe are pics of swedish antitank canon Bofors wz 36, 37 mm which was used by polish army. In fact most of german tanks destroyed in Poland were hit with this little canon. It was produced in Poland on swedish licence and polish army had 1200 pieces of this type.

Bofors


 



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"I am a pure-blooded Polish nobleman, without a single drop of bad blood, certainly not German blood" - Friedrich Nietzsche


Posted By: cavalry4ever
Date Posted: 11-Jan-2005 at 15:52
You have missed polish bomber PZL P-37 "Los" which was among most modern light bombers in Europe when it entered the service, just before the war. I don't have picture.

Type: P.37B
Country: Poland
Function: bomber
Year: 1938 Crew: 4 Engines: 2 * 873hp PZL-Bristol Pegasus XX
Wing Span: 17.95m Length: 12.92m Height: 5.09m Wing Area: 53.50m2
Empty Weight: 4280kg Max.Weight: 8900kg
Speed: 445km/h Ceiling: 6000m Range: 4500km
Armament: 3*mg7.7mm 2580kg

All planes where lost for lack of appropiate fighter escort.
Polish Navy had 2 modern submarines and 2 modern destroyers. Destroyers were sent to Britain before war and one submarine escaped to Britain during the war. It was quite undertaking to pass, onthe surface, through the German controlled Danish Straits.
Submarines and destroyers where French made and comparing to similar vessels in Royal Navy - quite modern.
There were some other smaller vessels that got lost when ports were overran by Germans.
This was not bad, considering that Poland had only barely 20 years of independence to rebuild its armed forces and fought major war with Soviets.


Posted By: Mosquito
Date Posted: 11-Jan-2005 at 16:18

From: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/PZL.37%20Los - http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/PZL.37%20Los


 

Development

It was designed in the mid-1930s in the PZL PZL is an abbreviation name used by three Polish aerospace manufacturers. Before 1939 it was one manufacturer Państwowe Zakłady Lotnicze - State Aviation Works, based in Warsaw, Poland. 

The first 10 serial aircraft were produced in 1938 as the PZL-37A variant with a single tail fin, however. The next 20 interim aircraft were built as PZL-37A bis, with a double tail fin. They all were powered by Bristol Pegasus  produced in Poland under licence. The main production variant, the PZL-37B, was fitted with the double tail fin and newer Pegasus XX engines. Before the war, the PZL-37B Łoś was one of the world's most modern and outstanding bombers. Smaller than most contemporary medium bombers, it was still able to carry a heavier bomb load than comparable aircraft, including the famous Vickers Wellington It was relatively fast and easy to handle. Thanks to a landing gear with double wheels, it could operate from rough fields or meadows. The only drawback was its relatively weak defensive armament, consisting of 3 machine guns. Its range was also limited, but the Łoś was not meant to be a long range bomber.

Starting with a presentation at a salon in Belgrade in June 1938 and in Paris in November, the PZL-37 met with a huge interest. For export purposes, new variants were developed: the PZL-37C with Gnome-Rhone 14NO1 engines (970 hp (720 kW), maximum speed 445 km/h) and the PZL-37D with Gnome-Rhone 14N21 (1050 hp (780 kW), maximum speed 460 km/h). In 1939 20 PZL-37Cs were ordered by Yugoslavia, 15 by Bulgaria, 30 PZL-37D by Romania and 25 by Turkey. The outbreak of the war prevented the production of these aircraft. At that time, PZL developed the next variant for the Polish airforce, the PZL-49 Miś, but this was not completed before the war. Having slightly bigger dimensions, Miś ("Bear") was to be fitted with Bristol Hercules  II engines (1350 hp (1,000 kW), maximum speed 520 km/h) and an upper turret.

Combat use

During the initial period of PZL-37 service, several crashes were caused by technical problems or crew inexperience. After some structural changes, the PZL-37B became extremely reliable. The Polish Air Force started to receive the PZL-37B in the spring of 1939. By the outbreak of World War II, 1939, the Polish Airforce had 70 PZL-37s. 36 PZL-37Bs were in 4 bomber escadres of a Bomber Brigade (two escadres with 9 aircraft each, constituted a group, in Polish: dywizjon; PZL-37 were in groups X and XV). The rest of the Bomber Brigade aircrafts were PZL-23 Karas. The further 34 PZL-37As and Bs were in training units.

Only the PZL-37s of the Bomber Brigade took part in combat. By September 1, they had been deployed to field airfields, so they were not bombed by the Germans. During the campaign, from September 4 the planes were attacking German armoured columns in day attacks, most notably the 16th Armoured Corps near Czestochowa and Radomsko. They suffered losses due to lack of armour and fighter protection. During the campaign, the combat units were supplemented with several other aircraft, so about 45 PZL-37s were used. 14 PZL-37Bs were shot down, and a further 12 were lost in other ways. A number of not fully completed or training PZL-37s were also destroyed on airfields and in factories.

About 19 PZL-37Bs from the Bomber Brigade and 27 training ones were withdrawn in 1939 to Romania and then used by the Romanian airforce against the USSR from 1941, armed with German MG 15 machine guns. Captured planes were also tested in Germany and the USSR.

Technical design

The aircraft was conventional in layout, all metal, metal-covered, with low wings. The crew consisted of four: pilot, commander-bombardier, radio operator and a rear gunner. The bombardier was accommodated in the glazed nose, with a forward machine gun. The radio operator sat inside the fuselage, above the bomb bay, and he also operated an underbelly rear machine gun. The main undercarriage retracted into the engine nacelles. The undercarriage was double-wheeled, with an independent suspension for each wheel. The plane was powered by two Bristol Pegasus radial engines . The PZL-37A had Pegasus XII B engines (normal power: 860 hp (640 kW), maximum: 970 hp (720 kW) - other data: 873 hp (650 kW)), The PZL-37B had Pegasus XX engines (normal power: 840 hp (630 kW), maximum: 940 hp (700 kW) - other data 918 hp (680 kW)). The bombs were carried in bomb bays in the fuselage and in the central section of the wings. The maximum load was 2,580 kg (2 × 300 kg and 18 × 110 kg).



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"I am a pure-blooded Polish nobleman, without a single drop of bad blood, certainly not German blood" - Friedrich Nietzsche


Posted By: cavalry4ever
Date Posted: 11-Jan-2005 at 18:20
Thanks. It is a beautiful airplane.


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 13-Jan-2006 at 19:35
On the following websites are quite interesting discussions about that:
http://www.mapleleafup.org/forums/showthread.php?s=6294db6af7903ea4e2142f42a3295eb7&threadid=3481&perpage=40&pagenumber=1 - the first
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=77163&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0 - the second
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=48194&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0 - the third
The first link is especially worth looking at.


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Posted By: Maju
Date Posted: 14-Jan-2006 at 07:36
I have a question: my brother who is more interested than I am in military history and particularly in WWII stuff, says that Poland comitted the following major error: they were so sure or over-proud of their own forces that they didn't play a defensive strategy but actually they attacked the German forces, something what it was clearly beyond their possibilities.

Can you clear this up to me?


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NO GOD, NO MASTER!


Posted By: pikeshot1600
Date Posted: 14-Jan-2006 at 09:59

Originally posted by Maju

I have a question: my brother who is more interested than I am in military history and particularly in WWII stuff, says that Poland comitted the following major error: they were so sure or over-proud of their own forces that they didn't play a defensive strategy but actually they attacked the German forces, something what it was clearly beyond their possibilities.

Can you clear this up to me?

I am afraid it was desperation.  As Olivares said, rather than lose reputacion, it was better to "die doing something."

Polish armed forces were doomed to defeat from the beginning, and I believe they knew it.  Clearly, and as always, there is no question of Polish valor.  They have always been fine, courageous soldiers.  But all of their industrial areas were in the west of the country and near to Danzig, exposed to German forces; they were already outflanked bacause of east Prussia, and the entry by Soviet Russia was the final nail.

If the army was willing, what else could they do?  IIRC, the one month campaign cost the Wehrmacht about 100,000 casualties. 

 



Posted By: Maju
Date Posted: 14-Jan-2006 at 10:32
What else could they do? Gain time, I guess.

According to the conversation I had with my brother in December, he thought that Poland could have resisted a lot more with their relatively good army would they have played a defensive strategy.


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NO GOD, NO MASTER!


Posted By: pikeshot1600
Date Posted: 14-Jan-2006 at 10:52

Originally posted by Maju

What else could they do? Gain time, I guess.

According to the conversation I had with my brother in December, he thought that Poland could have resisted a lot more with their relatively good army would they have played a defensive strategy.

It might be argued I suppose, but their strategy had to provide for forward deployment of much of the army to attempt to defend their industries.  Without them, they could not have resisted anyway.

With the Red army at your back, well...you are toast.

What good it would have done to play for time is very questionable.  The French were not inclined to offensive war any longer, but to defend France behind their lines of fortifications.  Britain was in no position to take pressure off Poland on land, so the Poles were on their own.  To resist gallantly seemed the soldierly thing to do rather than just surrender immediately as the large and well equipped Czech army had done in 1938.

Incidentally, did you know that several of the newly raised German panzer divisions were equipped with Czech tanks?  And a lot of Czech artillery from the Skoda works in Bohemia was incorporated into German divisions.  Interesting I think.  German industry was already strained by the huge demands of modern war. 

 



Posted By: Temujin
Date Posted: 14-Jan-2006 at 17:51
no, they were not incorporated because of shortages, but because they were actually good, later they constructed a tank-hunter on the basis of the LT 38/Panzer 38 (t) and called it Hetzer which was one of germanies finest tank hunters, even at the end of the war. the Wehrmacht incorporated almost every tank they could get their hands on, because most tanks (like French tanks or T-34) were actually superior to early German tanks. Czech tanks were on pair with their German counterparts at that time.

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Posted By: Mosquito
Date Posted: 14-Jan-2006 at 19:16

Originally posted by Maju

What else could they do? Gain time, I guess.

According to the conversation I had with my brother in December, he thought that Poland could have resisted a lot more with their relatively good army would they have played a defensive strategy.

Actually after Germany took over Czechoslovakia, Poland had few chances for succesful defence. Being attacked from North (East Prussia), West (Germany) and Sought (Czechoslovakia), being outnumbered 2:1 in number of soldiers and even more in aircraft, canons, tanks, was pretty on the mercy of Germans.

Polish authorities were considering 2 strategies. First and better plan was to withdrawn all troops to the line of Vistula river and defend it. But this plan was abadonned because Polish politicians were afraid that if they give up all the western part of Poland without fighting, Germans will stop their armies on the other side of the river and the allies (England and France) will do moreless the same what they did in Munich to Czechs, betray and sign treaty with Germany accepting all german teritorial gains.

To avoid such situation Polish HQ choosed worse plan and deployed all the troops on all the borders. They realised that the front will be sooner or later broken and that they will have to withdrawn all the forces back but didnt forseen the speed of the German army. After breaking frontlines Germans were pressing forward faster than Polish troops were able to move back. In result most of polish divisions was sourrounded and destroyed or captured.

There was also plan "B". Becausse of delayed mobilisation (which was forced by Britain and France "to not provoke Hitler") many units in eastern Poland were not mobilised yet. Polish HQ wanted to gather what was left from the campaign and new mobilised forces and start defence on the line of Bug River but this plan was no longer possible after USSR invaded Poland.



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"I am a pure-blooded Polish nobleman, without a single drop of bad blood, certainly not German blood" - Friedrich Nietzsche


Posted By: Maju
Date Posted: 15-Jan-2006 at 07:30
Thanks, Mosquito, that seems a good explanation. Guess that my bro was just favorable to the Vistula line strategy. 

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NO GOD, NO MASTER!


Posted By: ataman
Date Posted: 05-Apr-2006 at 23:52

According to gen. Waclaw Stachiewicz, Polish strategy in 1939 was simple - Polish army had a task to survive until general French offensive from the West. Polish-French agreement stated that this offensive should begin 15 days + 1 day after begining of the war. So it should begin on the 17th September at the very latest.

Did the Polish army fulfil its task? Yes, it did. The bulk of Polish army (26 divisions of infantry and 6 brigades of cavalry) survived until 17th September.



Posted By: mamikon
Date Posted: 06-Apr-2006 at 00:20
I was just wondering, was Poland his by the depression as hard as Germany was?

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Posted By: edgewaters
Date Posted: 06-Apr-2006 at 00:30
As I understand it, Polish cavalry was dragoon-style - more likely to fight on foot during a prolonged engagement. They were apparently well-equipped with anti-tank weapons, mortars, and attached artillery. German tanks did not succeed so much because they were overwhelmingly powerful against Polish forces, but because they could rapidly exploit breaches and cut off front line units from command and supply. Overwhelming air power enhanced that effect. More or less the same strategy the Germans used to defeat the much larger French army - evade heavy resistance, penetrate deep, isolate the front, and watch the front turn into fragmented pockets which could be neutralized at leisure, if they didn't just surrender in light of their situation. This new warfare was proclaimed as being relatively bloodless by contrast to WW1 style tactics, and it was.

I have a question: my brother who is more interested than I am in military history and particularly in WWII stuff, says that Poland comitted the following major error: they were so sure or over-proud of their own forces that they didn't play a defensive strategy but actually they attacked the German forces, something what it was clearly beyond their possibilities.

Can you clear this up to me?


At the time, armour was not regarded as particularly effective. It was seen as a specialty weapon, useful for attacking trenches, but since WW1, defensive lines had become so heavily fortified the tank was regarded as being unable to directly attack through them. Only a few radicals - Liddel Hart and Heinz Guderian, primarily, plus a handful of others - saw that the tank had an altogether different capability. Tank divisions could be formed as independant units capable of high mobility, which could pour through a small breach or undefended sector to cut off the rest of the front before it was possible to react. More conventional military thinkers regarded this as hogwash, feeling tanks would be vulnerable without masses of infantry and could not operate independantly. They also were also dubious about the ability of tanks to operate over long distances for long periods of time, and felt that mechanical failure would render this an ineffective tactic.

The Polish had participated in the annexation of Czechoslovakia and had seen firsthand that the new German panzer divisions had extreme difficulties travelling any distance even without resistance - some 50% of the German tanks involved had mechanical failures before reaching their objectives. Of course, these were just teething troubles and most of the design flaws were overcome by the time of the Polish campaign, but most observers did not accord the tank much regard.

Even the Germans were hesitant - if you get a chance, you can probably find a copy of "Panzer Leader", a Ballantine paperback English translation of Guderian's memoirs - you will be utterly amazed at how difficult it was for Guderian to persuade the German military hierarchy that tanks had any value at all. This is during the mid-30s!! There are dozens of pages detailing at length the obstinacy of cavalry command in the German army, and it was really only because Hitler was a gambler that any panzer divisions were ever formed. If Germany had had a more typical political structure, it would have used tanks the same way everybody else did, as infantry support, a kind of armoured light artillery.

No doubt the Poles felt Hitler was a military amateur who simply promoted the radical theories as a way to spite the professional military authorities, especially the cavalry, since their leadership came from the aristocracy - which Hitler despised. Essentially, this view of Hitler as an obstinate amateur blockhead bent on spiting the professionals was correct, as seen by the end of the war - the only caveat being that at the beginning of the war, the radicals Hitler picked to spite his generals just happened, by sheer coincidence, to be right.

Everybody else subscribed to this view of the German military reforms, including much of the German military. The only thing they were really worried about was airpower, which was highly (over)rated in conventional military thinking of the 1930s (British theorists, for instance, planned to win wars without an army at all). A heavy forward offensive would have been thought to be the best chance of neutralizing the aerial threat, either by outright capturing air fleets on the ground or by at least forcing them to move their bases of operation further back and out of range to threaten Polish cities, limited to interdiction roles.


Posted By: Mosquito
Date Posted: 06-Apr-2006 at 14:58

Originally posted by mamikon

I was just wondering, was Poland his by the depression as hard as Germany was?

Even harder



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"I am a pure-blooded Polish nobleman, without a single drop of bad blood, certainly not German blood" - Friedrich Nietzsche


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 08-Apr-2006 at 16:07
Originally posted by Mosquito

Originally posted by mamikon

I was just wondering, was Poland his by the depression as hard as Germany was?

Even harder


Definitely harder.
If I remember correctly, at the height of the depression the rate of unemployment in Poland reached approximately 40%. What's more the Great Depression lasted in Poland longer than in Western Europe. It ended in 1936, 3 years later than in the West.
In 1920' and 30' the gap (or I should rather say the abyss) between the economy of Poland and Germany was bigger than it is nowadays.


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Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 12-Apr-2006 at 07:18
Polish tank 7TP was a good match with German Mark 1 and Mark II, but was nit comparable to the late Mark III, T-38 /Chesh tank/.In one of the battles German tanks were destroyed by Polish and only antitank guns saved the Germans.After the battle Germans changed their tanks with the Polish

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Posted By: Temujin
Date Posted: 12-Apr-2006 at 15:56
but the armour of the 7TP was too thin, the Panzer II could easily penetrate it. the Panzer I was more of a tankette anyways.

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Posted By: ataman
Date Posted: 12-Apr-2006 at 23:49

Look at this site

http://www.1939.pl/uzbrojenie/polskie/pojazdy/7tp/index.html - http://www.1939.pl/uzbrojenie/polskie/pojazdy/7tp/index.html

There is a description of the 7TP



Posted By: ataman
Date Posted: 12-Apr-2006 at 23:55

Originally posted by Temujin

but the armour of the 7TP was too thin, the Panzer II could easily penetrate it.

7TP was designed as a light tank and couldn't have too heavy armor. To comparison:

- the thickness of the armor of 7TP was 5-17mm

- the thickness of the armor of German PzKpfw PZ - I was 7 - 13 mm (about 46% of German tanks in September 1939 were PzKpfw PZ-I)

- the thickness of the armor of PzKpfw PZ - II was 5 - 20 mm

Anyway a cannon (37mm Bofors) of 7TP was a very good weapon against all German tanks.



Posted By: Temujin
Date Posted: 13-Apr-2006 at 16:36
Originally posted by ataman

7TP was designed as a light tank and couldn't have too heavy armor. To comparison:

- the thickness of the armor of 7TP was 5-17mm

- the thickness of the armor of German PzKpfw PZ - I was 7 - 13 mm (about 46% of German tanks in September 1939 were PzKpfw PZ-I)

- the thickness of the armor of PzKpfw PZ - II was 5 - 20 mm

Anyway a cannon (37mm Bofors) of 7TP was a very good weapon against all German tanks.

I have different numbers for armour:

7TP = 7-17mm

Panzer I = 13mm

Panzer II = 14,5 - 30mm

however it is true that the 37mm canon was good enough to penetrate most German tanks and Germans gladly enlisted every 7TP they could capture, though they were not used for further campaigns but for local occupation forces and as tractor machine.



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Posted By: ataman
Date Posted: 13-Apr-2006 at 23:46
Originally posted by Temujin

I have different numbers for armour:

Panzer II = 14,5 - 30mm

Temujin, I think that your datas are for PZ II Ausf. F. As far as I know this version of PZ II was introduced in German army after September 1939. Am I right?

My datas were for PZ II Ausf. C. This version was the most typical for German army in Septemper 1939. The max thickness of its armor was 14,5 mm, but the war in Spain showed that it is not enough and before war in Poland some PZ II Ausf. C were modernised and had 20 mm armor.



Posted By: Temujin
Date Posted: 14-Apr-2006 at 16:30
Panzer II Ausf. A-C having only 20mm front armour thats true, but overall German tanks were better armored and for knocking out a 7TP a 20mm machinecanon was good enough. Panzer II was also the most numerous tank in the Poland camapign. Ausf. F was only introduced later is also correct.

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Posted By: cavalry4ever
Date Posted: 13-May-2006 at 23:06
Originally posted by mamikon

I was just wondering, was Poland his by the
depression as hard as Germany was?


Poland was hit by a depression very hard, but you need to rememeber
that Poland did not even exist before 1918.
On top of this, it had to fight (victoriously) a very blody war with Soviets.
Considering that Poland had only 20 years to get ready for war it was a
remarkable feat.


Posted By: Lord Ranulf
Date Posted: 23-May-2006 at 15:44
Indeed it was........and for those interested here's some sites I used to give to my former students for their use......got some good stuff...........
 
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
http://www.york.cuny.edu/~drobnick/russo.html - http://www.york.cuny.edu/~drobnick/russo.html
 
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
http://www.worldwar2database.com/html/poland.htm - http://www.worldwar2database.com/html/poland.htm
 
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
http://info-poland.buffalo.edu/classroom/cinema/rzepinski.html - http://info-poland.buffalo.edu/classroom/cinema/rzepinski.html
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
 
http://www.polandinexile.com/army1.htm - http://www.polandinexile.com/army1.htm


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Posted By: Maljkovic
Date Posted: 24-May-2006 at 06:22
Originally posted by ataman

 

7TP was designed as a light tank and couldn't have too heavy armor. To comparison:

- the thickness of the armor of 7TP was 5-17mm

- the thickness of the armor of German PzKpfw PZ - I was 7 - 13 mm (about 46% of German tanks in September 1939 were PzKpfw PZ-I)

- the thickness of the armor of PzKpfw PZ - II was 5 - 20 mm

Anyway a cannon (37mm Bofors) of 7TP was a very good weapon against all German tanks.

Yes, the 7TP had good firepower, but it doesn't compensate for lack of armor. It's basically the same with the fate of the T-55 in the Croatian war of independance where most of them were destroyed in ambushes set by light AT infantry instead of being destroyed by other tanks.  



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