Achtung Panzer! Blitzkrieg! Introduction What's New Site Map



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Achtung Panzer! - Blitzkrieg!
Introduction - What's New - Site Map

Panzer Profiles - Additional Information

Vehicles of the Wehrmacht - Military Links

Bron Pancerna - Forum

The Concept of Blitzkrieg

Blitzkrieg

"The Lightning War"
PzKpfw IV Ausf D from 5th company of 2nd Panzer Division

in Semois on May 12th of 1940.


The foundation of mobile warfare has its roots in Ancient and Medieval

World. The German Army late in World War I initially developed basic

tactics that eventually evolved into modern mobile warfare. Germans

developed those tactics in an attempt to overcome the static trench

warfare on the Western Front. Elite "Sturmtruppen" (Stormtroops) infantry

units were created to attack enemy positions using the momentum of speed

and suprise but eventually failed because of the lack of mobility and

support needed in order to continue advancing further into enemy

controlled territory. During 1920s, British military philosophers Captain

Sir Basil Liddell Hart, General J.F.C. Fuller and General Martell further

developed tactics of mobile warfare. They all postulated that tanks could

not only seize ground by brute strength, but could also be the central

factor in a new strategy of warfare. If moved rapidly enough,

concentrations of tanks could smash through enemy lines and into the

enemy's rear, destroying supplies and artillery positions and decreasing

the enemy's will to resist. All of them found tank to be an ultimate

weapon able to penetrate deep into enemy territory while followed by

infantry and supported by artillery and airforce. In late 1920s and early

1930s, Charles De Gaulle, Hans von Seekt, Heinz Guderian and many others

became interested in the concept of mobile warfare and tried to implement

it in an organizational structure of their armies. Heinz Guderian

organized Panzers into self-contained Panzer Divisions working with the

close support of infantry, motorized infantry, artillery and airforce.

From 1933 to 1939, Germany was on a quest to fully mechanize their army

for an upcoming conflict.

German High Command used Spanish Civil War (1936-38) as a testing ground

for newly developed tactics, which proved to be a formidable combination

of land and air action. In September of 1939, Germany invaded Poland using

mechanized ground force (Wehrmacht) working with the close support of the

airforce (Luftwaffe) to breakthrough and penetrate deep behind Polish

lines of defense - Polish Campaign (Fall Weiss). This combined use of

mobile units and air power was possible by the extensive use of radio and

communication network. It was soon known as Blitzkrieg - Lightning War. In

May of 1940, during the invasion of the Low Countries and France, the

Germans once again used same tactics (including the use of

Fallschirmjaeger - paratroops) to shock and disorganize the defenders.

From October of 1940 to March of 1941, Germans conquered Balkans using the

same proven tactics. When in June of 1941, Germany invaded Russia, tactics

of Blitzkrieg allowed them to reach the outskirts of Moscow in December of

1941. Tactics of Blitzkrieg were also implemented with great success by

Erwin Rommel in North Africa (1941-1943). Since late 1942, outnumbered

German Army was fighting a defensive war on two fronts and was unable to

launch any major offensives with exception of Kursk (June of 1943) and

Ardennes (December of 1944) offensive. Overall, tactics of Blitzkrieg were

the main contributor of early German victories (1939-1942), when German

supply base and logistics were able to maintain the speed of the advancing

units. This was not the case on the Eastern Front and in the North Africa,

when limited German supply base and logistics were unable to cope with

transportation and weather conditions decreasing effectivness of German

attacks and armed forces in general.


At the same time, potential of Blitzkrieg and related tactics was fully

appreciated by the Allies, who implemented its tactics on all fronts. US

Army General George Patton used Blitzkrieg and mobile warfare tactics in

his European operations of 1944. After World War II, tactics of Blitzkrieg

and mobile warfare developed by the Germans were used by Israeli forces

during their numerous conflicts with the Arab Nations as well as by

American forces during the Operation Desert Storm.
Overall, tactics of Blitzkrieg are based on coordinated, concentrated and

precise air and land attacks to provide a rapid and powerful punch through

the enemy lines in order to eventually encircle the enemy and/or capture

strategic position. Important factor behind mobile warfare was

communication between the HQ and field units and vice-versa, as well as

prepared starting points along with supply base and logistics to maintain

the speed of the initial attack. Although, it is often forgotten that

suprise was also very important to the success of Blitzkrieg and that is

why Germany never declared war on any country that it attacked. The

revolutionary tactics of Blitzkrieg and mobile warfare developed during

World War II formed a base for future development of weaponry and warfare.

The Concept of Blitzkrieg.

Airforce attacks enemy front-line and rear positions, main roads,

airfields and communication centers. At the same time infantry attacks

on the entire frontline (or at least at main places) and engages enemy.

This restrains the enemy from knowing where the main force will attack

and makes it impossible to prepare any defenses.
Concentrated tank units breakthrough main lines of defense and advance

deeper into enemy territory, while following mechanized units pursuit

and engage defenders preventing them from establishing defensive

postions. Infantry continues to engage enemy to misinform and keep enemy

forces from withdrawing and establishing effective defense.
Infantry and other support units attack enemy flanks in order to link up

with other groups to complete the attack and eventually encircle the

enemy and/or capture strategic position.
Mechanized groups spearhead deeper into the enemy territory outflanking

the enemy positions and paralyzing the rear preventing withdrawing

troops and defenders from establishing effective defensive positions.
Main force links up with other units encircling and cutting off the

enemy.

Panzer's companion - Junkers 87 Stuka - dive bomber.

(Ju-87 R-1 Stuka of 2nd Staffel of Stukageschwader 3, Sicily, 1941).



George Parada

Copyright@1996-2003

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