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trial. World War one was a static,
grueling war. Weapon technology had
advanced quickly, but the technology to
carry these weapons lagged behind,
resulting in bloody face offs between
entrenched armies. No battle embodies this
ghastly form of war more than the Battle
of Verdun on the Meuse river, which was
the longest battle of world war one:
lasting 300 days with over 1 million
casualties, a stalemate where territory
was won with the lives of the men brave
enough to push forward into the storm of
bullets and explosive shells raining
from all directions. 26 years later the
Germans crossed this same river in a
single day empowered by immense
improvements in motorized vehicles. Most
notably the tank.
The Germans created a new form of
warfare where battles were fought and
won before the victim even understood
what was happening. With these machines
in your arsenal, trench warfare was
obsolete. War was no longer
two-dimensional. In one moment you were
ducking for cover anticipating an
explosion as the whir of swarming dive
bombers filled your ears, the next you're
facing a wall of armored vehicles. This
of course was the infamous blitzkrieg
which Germany employed to take over the
majority of Europe with eerie efficiency.
Europe would get its first taste of this
lightning war on September 1st, 1939 when
1.5 million German troops invaded Poland.
The German invasion of Poland was a
battle of epic disproportions. The
Luftwaffe flew ahead armed with Younker
87 Stuka dive-bombers which were fitted
with horrifying sirens (which were simply
high revving propellers fitted to the
landing gear of the plane). They were
designed to cause mass panic and fear
among civilians and enemy troops alike.
They destroyed strategic positions and
caused civilians to flee and interfere
with supply lines, softening the border
defenses before the German armoured
divisions broke through, like a spear
point through inadequate armor. Followed
by motorized German infantry who formed
a supply column reinforcing the
frontline with fuel and ammunition. Never
stopping to celebrate, always pushing
forward and keeping the pressure on. Any
troops that did not
retreat fast enough where encircled and
decimated this pattern was repeated. And
in a single week, German troops advanced
225 kilometers onto Warsaw's doorstep,
despise Poland mobilising 1 million men
to fight back. One famous battle on this
first day of war, often mistold,
involved a valiant Calvary rush of the
Polish army on the German infantry,
dispersing them and delaying their
advancement long enough to allow the
Polish first rifle battalion to retreat.
Only then German tanks appeared and
fired upon them forcing the horsed units
to retreat. German propaganda announced
the stupidity of Polish commanders
sending cavalry armed with sabres and
lance's against armoured vehicles, when
in reality they were armed with
anti-tank rifles which were capable of
penetrating 15mm of armor
at 300 metres at 30 degrees. The Panzer 1
and 2 used in this battle were
vulnerable to this weapon. On September
28th, four weeks after the first shot was
the Polish capital surrendered to the
relentless German siege, while Russia
took the east. This proved the
effectiveness of the blitzkrieg and sent
shockwaves through Europe. On May 10th
1940, Germany launched an invasion of the
low countries of Holland, Belgium, and
Luxembourg. Luxembourg with its 400
infantry and 12 cavalry fell in a
single day. Belgium's defense, centered
around the Eben-Emael fort with
1200 men, also fell in a single day. This
fortress was one of the strongest in the
world but was created with 2D-strategic
maneuvers in mind. It took about 500
German special forces landing with
gliders to disable Eben-Emael's major
defenses. They removed explosive charges
from nearby bridges, ensuring a clear
route for German reinforcements. Others
landed inside the force planting their
own explosive charges and throwing
grenades into bunkers and destroying
artillery. Where they couldn't overcome
defenders, they called for airstrikes
from Stuka dive bombers. Holland,
despite having advanced warning of the
imminent invasion, were caught off guard
by merciless bombing of their cities by
the Luftwaffe, followed by the deployment
of the 7th and 22nd Airborne Division's.
Germany now had a direct northern route
into Franc. The Allies were prepared for
this threat and focused their best troops
on the northern border.
Leaving the heavily fortified border
between Germany and France relatively
low-manned. The invasion of the low
countries was not intended as an
invasion route. It was a diversion and on
May 12th the spearhead of the German
blitzkrieg broke through what was once
called the impenetrable defense of the
rough mountainous and heavily wooded
area of the Ardennes. Quickly enveloping
and trapping the 400,000 Allied troops
stationed to defend the assumed invasion
from the north. Culminating in the Battle
of Dunkirk, where thousands of civilian
ships sailed from Britain to save
stranded soldiers. A month later, on June
22nd the French surrendered to Germany. The
French were simply not prepared for the
speed and ferocity of this type of
warfare, despite having tanks more than
capable of taking on the German Panzers
in one-on-one battle. For example the
French S-35 was arguably the best tank
at the outbreak of the war. It had good
balance between Armour mobility and
firepower. It was more than capable of
taking on the Panzer ones and twos that
formed the brunt of the armoured
divisions, and it's forward-facing armor
could even withstand direct hits from
the German heavy tank the Panzer 4. Where
the s-35 failed was its lack of numbers:
with only 440 built. Had the French been
prepared, and built enough tanks, they
could have defeated the German invasion.
The Germans were more than aware of this
outclassing of their tanks, and led them
into pushing further to create larger
tanks with thicker and thicker armor,
and larger and larger guns. They pushed
the boundaries and experimented with
gigantic tanks, like the Panzer VIII, which
still, to this day, is the heaviest fully
enclosed armored fighting vehicle ever
built. Real Life Lores just uploaded a
video about the crazy designs of tanks
the Germans came up with. Here he is to
tell you a little more about them. [Real Life Lores:] The
Panzer VIII Maus weighed 188 tons: over
three times heavier than a TIger I tank.
It's 128 millimeter main gun was enough
to destroy all allied armored vehicles
then in service at ranges exceeding
3,500 metres. Only
two were ever built, near the end of the
war, but the Germans had far more
ambitious plans than even the Maus tank.
The Landkruezer P.1000 Ratte was a super
tank designed in 1942 that was planned
on weighing 1,000 tons. This behemoth
would have
then armed with naval artillery and be
equipped with 25 centimeters of hardened
steel armor. It would have had a crew of
over 40 men operating it, had it ever
been built. But as with most insane Nazi
engineering ideas, the Landkruezer
remained a blueprint for the entirety of
the war. [Real Engineering:] This wild experimentation could
have been their downfall: constant
iterations and improved technology kept
production costs and [production] time high.
Ultimately Germany had some of the most
advanced tanks, but too few to take on
what was to come.
Because the Russians were busy building
a staggering secret army of t-34s. This
haunting recording of Hitler's normal
speaking voice captures his shock at the
sheer number of tanks encountered on the
Eastern Front.
At this stage Hitler knew the might of the
German blitzkrieg had met its match.
Germany had focused so much of the time
trying to create the perfect war machine,
while Russia saw how to beat the
blitzkrieg: in sheer numbers,
determination, armor, and firepower .Russia
could build enormous amounts of the t-34
partially because of the insanely huge
factories, but also because of the
Russian ethos of quantity over quality.
Russian tanks were crudely constructed,
welding was poor, and armored plates
rarely fit together: a flaw which the
Japanese exploited by throwing Molotov
cocktails at the tanks which then
dripped flaming fuel onto the crew.
The pins that held the track of the t-34
were not held in place either. Most tanks
had some form of locking mechanisms that
kept the pin in place, but the t-34 pins
were free to float. To prevent them from
falling out, the t-34 simply had a hard
stop in the path of the track that
hammered the pins back into place as they
passed by. A
crude, yet effective, measure to keep the
manufacturing time and cost down. This
crude construction did not stop this tank
from being a formidable opponent.
In fact the t-34 is one of the standout
tanks of World War two.
It had heavily sloped armor which both
help deflect projectiles but also
increase the effective thickness of the
armor, thanks to a bit of trigonometry: if
we take the 47 millimeter thick front
hull armor of the t-34 its Armour its
simply 47 millimeters thick
when vertical, but if we begin to tilt it
its effective thickness equals the
original thickness divided by the sine
of the tilt angle. The front hull armor
had a slope of 60 degrees, making this
effective thickness 94 millimeters:
double its actual thickness. This
combined with the enormous gun, allowed
the t-34 to take on any tank on the
battlefield. By the end of the war
8/10 German soldiers died fighting on
the Eastern Front.
One of the standout battles on the
Eastern Front, if not in the history of
mankind, was the Battle of Kursk. While
D-day, Stalingrad, the Battle of the Bulge
and the Battle of Britain are hailed as
the great turning points of the war, as
they should, they all pale in magnitude
to the Battle of Kursk. This battle
epitomizes the resilience of the Russian
people. Kursk sat in the middle of a
bulge on the eastern front. A bulge that
needed to be eliminated to prevent
Russia from mounting a counter-offensive
on the Germans rear. The strategic
importance of this battle was known to
both sides.
Hitler had told Heinz Guderian, the
mastermind of the German blitzkrieg, that
the thought of the battle made him sick to
his stomach every time he thought about
it. Russia had dug deep in Kursk. Every
single citizen was involved in the war
effort with near 5000 kilometers of
trenches circling the city,
500,000 each of anti-tank and anti-personnel
mines, with obstacles torn through barbed
wire: and this was just their passive
defense! Russia had amassed 1.3 million
soldiers, 20,000 artillery pieces, 3,600
tanks, and 2,600 aircraft.
This was Russia's last stand. Hitler
ordered 900,000 soldiers to the region,
drawing men away from the Western Front
as the Allies were not expected to
attack anytime soon, along with 10,000
artillery guns, 2,700 tanks, and 2,000
aircraft. This was a third of Germany's
remaining military strength, concentrated
in a single area. What led with the
largest tank battle in history, and a
battle that ultimately blunted the
spearhead of the German blitzkrieg. Day
after day, Germany attempted to break
through the Russian defense, only to be
repelled time after time. The
Luftwaffe was prevented from gaining air
superiority by the Russian Air Force.
While German tanks were crippled by the
combined onslaught of anti-tank mines
infantry artillery fired and the
never-ending barrage of t-34s. All the
while partisan citizens to the rear
disrupted the already dodgy supply lines
feeding the German front. This was the
last step for the Nazis took. Russia had
endured the storm.
Germany would be on the back foot for
the rest of the war and the race towards
Berlin between the Allies and the
Soviets was on. Many of you asked me what
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