1935 Germany. Why horse drawn artillery and supply wagons?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by davebender, May 17, 2014.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Army artillery draft horse team normally consists of six animals.
    RM 1,350 average Heer horse price during 1930s.
    Six horse team costs RM 8,100. Plus harness and so forth.
    1930s Germany was not self sufficient in horse fodder. About 30% was imported.
    Horses require about 9kg of fodder per day even when not working. Also require veterinary service and other periodic maintenance whether working or not.

    Simple full track tractor such as Hanomag WD50 costs about RM 5,000. So does 3 ton Opel Blitz truck.

    16 March 1935. German Army begins expansion to 36 divisions.

    Why did Heer chose to procure artillery and supply wagon horse teams rather then less expensive artillery tractors and 3 ton trucks?
     
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Who knows? Maybe they thought they were 'good enough' and less trouble?
    Contrary to 'popular opinion', the German Armed forces, particularly Heer, relied heavily on horse (or other animal) drawn transport throughout WW2, with only the immediate 'front line' elements being partly or fully mechanised, and then only First, or forward echelon elements.
    This was perhaps even more the case towards the end of the war in Europe, when fuel shortages really started to affect things. A photo, taken in 1944, comes to mind, showing a Luftwaffe crew bus being towed by oxen, to get the pilots to the airfield - from JG26 if memory serves me - which was not an isolated incident.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Somebody does. That's why I asked the question. :)

    1935 military spending bill presented to Reichstag would have explanations for the various purchases.
     
  4. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    one possibility is attrition. Even in peacetime, there was a wastage of vehicles annually, and i doubt German industry was able to provide replacements quickly enough. During the war, Germany built around 320000 trucks, give or take. Thats an annual production rate of around 60000 vehicles per annum. production before 1939, that is, before the rationalisation plan, was less than that. according to Victor Madej ("The German Motorization Myth"), German truck production 1934-9 was 220000 of which 80000 were allocated to the armed forces (all four services. the heer and the SS received about 60% of all truck allocations, so in effect the two armies received around 50000 trucks 1934-9. The German economy would have taken a massive hit if all truck production was allocated to the army, and according to Madej, German industry, until the (partial) implementation of the Snell plan was incapable of much rapid increase in output.

    With only 80000 trucks built, and an average yearly wastage rate of around 20% even in peacetime, Germany would never be able to have more than about 10-15 divisions fully motorized. a British Infantry Division was one such beast, and needed around 2500 vehicles under direct command to do so, and around another 2500 for a typical supply chain of corps and army level assets to support it. The overwhelming majority of truck are there for resupply of the artillery weapons, accounting for well over 70% of the supply demands of the division, even in periods of light engagement, in heavy engagement, you better pray you have a good stockpile of ammunition close to the front....

    Lets say the germans opt for a slightly less lavish Truck TOE. pick a number, say 3000 trucks per division. That means with a park of 50000 vehicles, you could motorize and keep supplied a total of 16 divs. If you elect to motorize only the artillery component, and want to keep it supplied, you might stretch that out to 25 divs. that number is just insufficient to do what germany needed done.

    After war broke out, a significant proportion of german industry freed up by the rationalisation program, was needed to be diverted to other areas of german industry. over 70% of the German factory space used for motor vehicle production was converted to the production of other items such as tank components, aircraft engines and the like. Theere really wasnt much spare capacity to divert back to truck production, without other areas of the war effort taking abig hoit again
     
  5. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    Trucks need rubber oil and other imported raw material.
    So not using them is good idea.
     
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  6. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    It could very well have jast been a carry over as a number of armies still used horses and mules during this time. Plus if you already have them why not use them.
     
  7. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    And if they break down completely, they can be eaten - which was, of course, done.
     
  8. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I think the price that you've got that they paid for horses to be a little high.

    1300 RM would be about $300-350, or almost half of what the average car cost in the USA at the time.

    I do remember what working horses cost in the USA in the late 50's, early 60s. That's just working horses. plow horses, etc. not thoroughbreds. We bought them for $250-$350 then, and that's when new low priced cars were $1500- $2000.
    I spent a spring plowing small gardens with a mule, so I do recall what horses and mules cost then in my part of the world. It's hard to believe work horses were going for that much 20 years earlier in Europe.
     
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  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Historical data suggests otherwise.

    Opelwerk Brandenburg.
    Built during 1935 for RM 14 million.
    .....About the price for one 1930s German navy destroyer.
    .....You could build 14 Opelwerk Brandenburg size factories for the price of KM Bismarck.
    Designed to produce 25,000 3 ton trucks per year. In fact the factory achieved 27,000 trucks per year prior to 1939.

    Opelwerk Brandenburg produced vehicles mostly for civilian use. Prior to 1940 less then 20% were military variants.

    Maultier variant of Opel Blitz truck (tracks ILO rear wheels) cost about RM 11,000. Vehicle was sometimes used as tractor for 10.5cm light howitzer. Not quite as capable as proper but more expensive (~RM 20,000) Sd.Kfz.11 3 ton tractor. However it was vastly more capable then a team of 6 draft horses.

    Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-559-1085-07__Italien__Flugzeug_Me_323_Gigant__Opel__Maultier_.jpg


    If 1935 Germany wanted more artillery tractors or 3 ton trucks they could have funded factory construction for a tiny fraction of total military budget. Just cut one of the 30 navy Zerstorer ordered prior to WWII.
     
  10. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    It's just not that easy to start tossing factories up here and there and start producing all sorts of things.

    You have to have a customer for the product, that customer needs the money to purchase the product.

    You have to have the money to pay all the factory workers, the suppliers, the light bill and so on.

    The world economy in the 1930's was not doing all that well...
     
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  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    No but it's a lot easier then tossing up battleships, heavy cruisers and aircraft carriers. It's all a matter of national priorities.

    For comparison purposes...
    1930s Soviet economy was far worse then 1935 Germany yet they built a massive military industrial complex which included 3 medium tank factories and one heavy tank factory. German Army didn't allocate funding for their first medium tank factory until fall of 1939 and didn't begin large scale truck purchases before 1940.
     
  12. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    there are still problems with this kind of thinking.

    Firstly, its not just a matter of money, though that is an important consideration. the skills and equipment needed to build motor vehicles are different to those needed for shipbuilding. It takes time, a lot of time to put into effect structural changes like this, as the germans found out historically. they resolved or intended to rationalise and improve outputs of their motor vehicle industry from 1936, just after the time period you suggest. there were no subatantive changes until 1939, and then only with limited application. As it was, germany with the second most powerful economy in the world overall, still only managed to build 10% the numbers of the US and about half that of Britain. Even Canada out produced her. aqnd this was after the implementation of the plan designed to at least double outputs (which it pretty much did, eventually)

    Secondly, even in Germany car manufacturing was still very much a case of private venture capital, rather than state control. Getting the rationalization plan, despite the best efforts of the transport ministry took from 1936 to just prior to the outbreak of the war to get agreement on. You cannot just wave the magic wand in 1935 to make these changes. it was beyond the capacity of government intervention to achieve this at that time.

    So industrial capacity and capability are one thing. It simply was not there in 1935.

    The second thing is that a motorization plan carries with it a quid pro quo. if germany abandons her naval construction programs from 1935 (which in 1935 did not include battleships or cruisers....it was destroyers, followed by a few submarines), then one can expect similar adjustments in the build programs of her rivals. Poland, france, Russia, even britain, can all be expected to rectify some of the glaring faults in their land armies as well. Its newtonian, for every action, expect an equal reaction.
     
  13. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    When you buy a new horse, you don't have to buy a new harness, wagon, nor all the infrastructure to support those horses if you already have it.

    Where if they switched 100% to motor vehicles they would have needed many more mechanics, and train those mechanics, and all the infrastructure to support those motor vehicles.

    They were trying to get the best use out of what they already had.

    The decision they made were probably not the best they could have made, long range, the 3rd Reich's history is full of bad decisions.

    So what's new?
     
  14. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Timing is one reason why there weren't more vehicles. The German army didn't have all the vehicles necessary to carry everything. It's foolhardy to presume that the Germans were actually fully prepared for the conflict they embarked on.
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    1935 Heer was expanding. They didn't already have equipment for new divisions. Everything had to be procured from scratch. That includes horses, horse equipment and horse drawn supply wagons.

    One source states that Germany procured 25,000 horses from Hungary for RM 1,000 each. At that price a 6 draft horse team costs RM 6,000 plus horse equipment. Even this lower price is more expensive then Opel Blitz 3 ton trucks. That's before we consider cost of horse barns (army trucks are normally parked outdoors) and horse drawn wagons.

    Difficult to make an economic argument in favor of 1935 German horse drawn transport. So why did it happen?
     
  16. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    oil
     
  17. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The British Army was a significant source of horses for the re-equipping heer in the lead up to war. They sold their horses to the germans for about 30 pounbds each including the traces and harness. Roughly in todays money thats about $7000 each in todays money.

    Frankly, I dont believe the hungarian claim. most likley its a conversion of some sort into modern currency equivalents. at 1000 RM per animal, exclusive of gear, thats the equivalent of about 1million RM in a today equivalent, or $250000 roughly speaking. Maybe they paid that much for all the horses, or maybe the horses were stud breeding stock. But that is equivalent to a top line race horse in todays money. If the heer paid that mu
     
  18. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    It happened mostly because Germany was at that time fairly agrarian country and the farms were not widely mechanised, so they rely much on horses. Farmhands had used to work with horse, not to drive tractors and lorries. When a mass army based on drafted reservists was mobilized it rely much on the equipment drafted from a civil society and in society like Germany that means much of horse drawn vehicles.
     
  19. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Maybe, but mostly because they lacked the capacity for various reasons to fully mechanise their army. Mechanising the artillery arm effectively means you are going 80% of the way to motorising the army, and the german motor industry lacked even that capability in 1936. they still lacked it in 1939, and still lacked it in 1944. there is a pattern emerging here, in case anyone has missed the point, it was beyond the reach of german industry to motorise its 500 or so divisions that it raised, and beyond its reach to even motorise the artillery cpmponents of those divisions. The nearest the German army came to a motorised army was 1939-40, when the numbers of divisions was still within peacetime projections and allowances, and before the really vicious attrition began to bite, but even then, it was not a true motorised army, and never could be (not realistically at least). So bad was the attrition in the German truck pool, that by 1943 even mobile defence of the front was impossible. Mansteins defence was a pipe dream gentelemen, after stalingrad, there was no escape, or retreat before the russian storm. Germany could no longer move large parts of her army without incurring significant attritional losses. Losses in transport, both horse drawn and motorised was very severe. the standard Infantry division had gone to war with about 5500 horses and about 800 MT attached. By 1943, this number had slumped to around 200 vehicles and under 2000 horses per division. The German army had lost its biggest advantage.....its mobility in the previoous 2 years of copntinuous combat.
     
  20. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Wholly motorising a WWII mass army was impossible, even USA couldn't do that. Britain mechanized fair part of its European army just before WWII, but it was a small army. Even in 1944 British Armoured divisions had only one armoured infantry battalion, carried on US supplied armoured half-tracks, rest of the division's infantry was truck borne much a same as in WM, In WM at that time a few PzDivs has 2 armoured infantry battalions but most had one battalion or only one coy of armoured infantry. But at least they could rely on domestically produces armoured half-tracks not imported ones as the GB. That only shows that a fully mechanized mass army was at that time beyond the capacity of European countries.
     
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