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G: Guns, guns, guns

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Dr. Know
385676.  Sat Jul 26, 2008 2:30 pm Reply with quote

I like the way you said Popculture or anything important ;)

385850.  Sat Jul 26, 2008 6:44 pm Reply with quote

The Soviet effort in WWII was staggering, and IMHO, under-played in the West.
When I lived in Moscow in the 70s I met people of my parents' generation who had lived through it, as civilians and serving military. Terrible tales from those that would talk about it.
The Siege of Leningrad and the way they held on to a small sliver of land on the Western side of the Volga in Stalingrad were crucial turning points in the whole war.
If I can find old reading lists from Uni days, I'll try and let you know some good books to read on it.

Dr. Know
385852.  Sat Jul 26, 2008 6:53 pm Reply with quote

qui? moi?

Merci, mais non merci. Je pense que ca sera ennuyeux. :)

Sadurian Mike
385854.  Sat Jul 26, 2008 6:54 pm Reply with quote

The popular image of the first few weeks of Barbarossa is of massive Russian surrenders as the panzers rumbled forward. In fact, the Russian troops amazed the Germans by their tenacity and determination to fight to the last. Surrenders obviously did occur, but the whole drive eastwards was delayed and harrassed by pockets of cut off Russian who would attack convoys and columns and then fade away again. The German letters home are full of phrases about how the Russians just wouldn't lie down when they were beaten.

The grim determination to fight to the last was what stopped the Germans driving into Moscow and (as tetsabb says) allowed Leningrad and Stalingrad to survive. The counter attack at Stalingrad is usually seen as the moment the Germans lost the strategic initiative in Russia, and from then on began retreating instead of advancing. In a very real sense, therefore, it was the War's turning point (albeit you can also mention Kursk in 1943, which broke the back of the German military machine).

Dr. Know
385856.  Sat Jul 26, 2008 6:58 pm Reply with quote

Hmm, interesting stuff. I was grossly misinformed that the russians retired early from the second world war.

Sadurian Mike wrote:
you can also mention Kursk in 1943, which broke the back of the German military machine

Kursk, in 1943 broke the back of the German military machine. ;)

Sadurian Mike
385861.  Sat Jul 26, 2008 7:33 pm Reply with quote

Oh yes indeedy.

Kursk was a huge salient, or bulge, into the German lines that was held by the Russians. Salients happen when troops in one area advance further than the rest of the front, and are usually the focus of a lot of attention. Those who are in the bulge use it as a good springboard to attack into the enemy rear territory, whilst those into whose territory it is bulging use it to attack the "shoulders" to cut off a large number of enemy troops. Once cut off from resupply, most often those troops will lose effectiveness very fast and eithre surrender or be wiped out.

Well, the Germans decided to cut off the Kursk bulge (the operation was called Operation Zitadelle, or Citadel) and began massing an enormous number of troops and tanks to do so. Below is a fair simplistic map. Imagine that the perimeter is also manned by large numbers of troops, but that the major concentrations are at the shoulders, where the germans were expecting to "snip" the bulge off.

EDIT: A different image after the first map's link broke.

Kursk saw the introduction of a few brand new German armoured vehicles; including the hugely armed and armoured Ferdinand Elefant tank destroyer, and the famous Panther "medium" tank (called medium but heavier than many heavy tanks - one below has been captured by Russian troops, probably at Kursk itself).

In addition to using all the new tanks being produced, the best of the rest of the German armour was massed on the shoulders of the bulge to attack and regain the strategic initiative.

Well, the Russians had learned of the forthcoming attack (difficult to keep it secret given the enormous preparations), and had produced one of the finest examples of a defensive position seen during the entire war. Defense in depth, where attackers would eliminate one position only to roll forward into a new one rather than breaking a strong line and then having nothing behind it, was the key to the Russian defence. Minefields, bunkers, anti-tank guns and pre-plotted artillery made the Kursk salient a nightmare for anyone to attack.

The Germans did attack, but the Russians knew their exact start time and heavily shelled the areas where everyone was forming up. This put a slight dent in proceedings, but the attacks went ahead as planned and started to grind their way through the defences in a battle of attrition where both sides suffered heavy losses. The tanks were allowed to roll forward but the infantry were held up by machine-gun and artillery fire. This left the tanks vulnerable to hidden anti-tank guns and engineers with flamethrowers and anti-tank mines (both of which the infantry were supposed to deal with), and many were knocked out in this way. In addition, the new tanks were still having teething problems and many simply broke down (and could not be recovered because the place was swarming with Russians still).

One famous encounter, the Battle of Prokhorovka, saw the remains of the 4th SS Panzer Army and the Russian 5th Guards Tank Army practically collide with each other at point-blank range. The fight was a confusion of tanks whizzing past and shooting at each other's sides and rear (where the armour is weakest). The Russian losses in that encounter alone are thought to have been about 300 tanks and the Germans anything from 80 to 120 or so, but the German tanks were mainly the valuable brand new models and the Russian superiority in supply of replacements meant that the Germans came out worst.

Although it was a close thing, Kursk was a German disaster. Not only had they failed in their objective, but the losses in aircraft, tanks and experienced men was too large to be replaced. The Germans never again had the strength to launch a large-scale offensive in the East.

Last edited by Sadurian Mike on Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:59 pm; edited 3 times in total

Dr. Know
385862.  Sat Jul 26, 2008 7:36 pm Reply with quote

I think any comment i could make would be a horrendous anticlimax, so i'll just smile :)

385932.  Sun Jul 27, 2008 2:55 am Reply with quote

And then there's Metal Storm.

Metal Storm Linky

Metal Storm Wiki Linky

Big scary gun. The company that manufactures Metal Storm is also called... Metal Storm.

And they're based in Brisbane.

*waves little flag*

(carefully, lest I get shot at)


Dr. Know
385965.  Sun Jul 27, 2008 6:37 am Reply with quote

that looks like some sort of bizarre alien space craft with a thruster on one side

385982.  Sun Jul 27, 2008 7:15 am Reply with quote

The picture above is of the 36 barrel type, reputed to be able to fire 1 MILLION rounds of ammo per minute.

As yet, because the recoil is so great it can't be mounted on any type of vehicle, and also there's no way to automatically reload.

It's just darned scary I think!

Dr. Know
385990.  Sun Jul 27, 2008 7:32 am Reply with quote

I can just see it being mounted on a jeep, with the guns pointing to the rear, setting it going, and the jeep just takes off! :P

385993.  Sun Jul 27, 2008 7:35 am Reply with quote

Or the Jeep just disintergrates...

Dr. Know
385994.  Sun Jul 27, 2008 7:36 am Reply with quote


386002.  Sun Jul 27, 2008 7:52 am Reply with quote

When Metal Storm is fired!

Sadurian Mike
388401.  Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:55 pm Reply with quote

Artillery; The differences between Guns, Howitzers and Mortars

These three classes of artillery all do a similar job, firing a shell on a high trajectory over a large distance. The differences between them inevitably merge somewhat at the edges (at which point you need to rely on the manufacturer description), but essentially the three are characterised thusly;

Guns fire a shell a long distance using a high curving trajectory. Due to the weight of propellant required to achieve their high velocity (and thus the long range), artillery shells tend not to carry the same weight of explosive as howitzers. This is a fundamental difference; a howitzer of the same “class” (light, medium, heavy, super-heavy) of artillery weight as a gun will usually be of a greater calibre.

Howitzers fire a heavier shell than an equivalent artillery gun, but over a shorter distance using less propellant. They typically have a shorter barrel than a gun of the same calibre, and tend to have a higher trajectory. This latter is at least partially down to having a lower muzzle velocity, and therefore requiring a steeper trajectory to achieve an equivalent range.

Mortars, even more so that the howitzer, are high trajectory weapons. With the mortar it is possible to fire a shell almost to the vertical, which makes them better for firing at short ranges. The shells are also smaller and lighter because they are have far less propellant, making the range shorter but the shell has far more warhead explosive than propellant charge. Mortar shells are often referred to as “bombs” for this reason.

There are also artillery pieces which are classed as "gun-howitzers" because they fulfil both roles. This is both a modern development (within the last few decades) and an older one (during the gunpowder era), with time between seeing howitzers and guns fitting definite and distict roles.

The following three pictures dramatically illustrate the visible differences. They are of WWII-vintage Russian artillery pieces; a 122mm gun, a 122mm howitzer, and a 120mm mortar.


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