View Full Version : In 1941 were German armed forces larger than Soviet?

01-10-2004, 09:28 AM
I've always been curious if the invading forces outnumbered the Russians facing them. In other words were the Russian forces incomplete or just poorly mobilized?


01-10-2004, 09:28 AM
I've always been curious if the invading forces outnumbered the Russians facing them. In other words were the Russian forces incomplete or just poorly mobilized?


01-10-2004, 09:42 AM
I think the numbers were pretty much the same when operation barbarossa started , but later ofcourse when red army rised from it early chrisis and with the arriving of the Siperian divisions from the east (when Stalin found out Japan's plans not to invade Soviet Union) to Battle of Moscow the numbers eventually favoured Soviets..



01-10-2004, 09:48 AM
The Germans assembled a force of around 4 million men (including troops from Axis allies) for the begining of Barbarossa. They also had around 3350 tanks, 7000 field guns and 2000 plus aircraft (and lets not forget the 600000 horse either).

As for the Russians, I don't recall their numbers. I think their front line strength was about 50 divisions, with a further 60 or so in reserve. They certainly had more tanks, artillery and aircraft (they lost 4000 planes in the first week alone).

I don't think the Germans had the advantage in numbers, but they did have surprise, and the ability to concentrate their forces on key areas, which gave them overwhelming local superiority in many instances (especially in the deployment of armour).

The Russians were not well prepared for an invasion, with units only being put on any form of alert just before the invasion began. They also had to contend with a "command paralysis" where commanders on the ground were very reluctant to take control of the situation at a local level without approval from Moscow. This was much the result of Stalin's purge of the Officer Corps a few years earlier, which was caused in part by German subterfuge (one of Reinhard Heydrich's pet projects).

"As weaponry, both were good, but in far different ways from each other. In a nutshell, I describe it this way: if the FW 190 was a sabre, the 109 was a florett, or foil, like that used in the precision art of fencing." - Gunther Rall


Look Noobie, we already told you, we don't have the Patch!

[This message was edited by NegativeGee on Sat January 10 2004 at 08:58 AM.]

01-10-2004, 10:00 AM
Here (http://www.il2sturmovik.com/the_game/background.php) is a concise perspective on the opening of Barbarossa, provided my Oleg and crew. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif


The German army marched in with over three million soldiers, including 75 percent of the field troops and 61 percent of the Luftwaffe. The invading forces counted no less than 153 divisions among their number, including 19 of the total 21 tank divisions. Altogether there were 600,000 vehicles, 3,580 tanks, 7,184 guns and 1,830 aircraft involved in the Russian campaign. The Soviet forces were represented at the European front by 4.7 million soldiers.

Good hunting,

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

Meanwhile, in the 20th century:

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01-10-2004, 10:16 AM
the first russian soldiers where ill equipped too i thought?

01-10-2004, 11:09 AM
Actually, the German armies did not really have any elelment of suprise at all.

They had been massing along the Russian border for some time and flew regular(actually hundreds of) recon sorties into Russian airspace.

The problem for the Soviet Union was that Stalin was in a very serious state of denial. He even hid in his room for a few days after Germany invaded and refused to come out. (Seriously) When the invasion came the Soviet amies were poorly directed because of this.

Previously, Stalin forbade his armies to do anything whatsoever to provoke the German armies that were massing on Russia's borders. Even a German recon aircraft that had problems and landed in Russia and was actually assisted to leave (and probably shown every courtesy).

There were mant other obvious events that that demonstrated the inevitability of war. All German businessmen had left Russia (German embassy workers had left as well), diplomatic relations between the two countries became almost nonexistent. Foreign diplomats such as Stafford Cripps (British ambassador to Moscow) tried repeatedly to warn Russia through diplomatic means.

Of course, Russian spies also new full well that an invasion was imminent and tried to warn Moscow...but again Stalin was in a state of denial over the whole thing.

As far as actual numbers go, there can be little doubt that Russia had greater manpower overall than Germany. But not massed on the western borders and not very well organized or directed at first. Thus, those that were there to absorb the initial German onslaught were quickly brushed aside.


01-10-2004, 11:33 AM
Overall Soviet forces were larger than the germans but they were not deployed properly because Stalin didn't want to provoke Hitler. Most of the soviet command knew that an invasion is immenent but they didn't do anything. The exeption was the commander of the Baltic fleet who orderd that the ships be moved whidout Stalins approval.

The Red army was mostly equipit with old airplanes and tanks which were no match for the german army.

The most important thing is that the Germans did have the element of suprise and the initiative. This and the poor deployment of Soviet forces eneabled them to have superiority when and were they choose to.


01-10-2004, 12:48 PM
The german foot troops werent much less than the russians, but the airforce and the tanks were available in much fewer numbers than the russians.

For the Airwar :

Most russian airplanes were outmatched by the german ones by far, exept perhaps the Migs and Yaks. But that was not the reason for the quick defeat, it was the taktics used on each side. Germans used the well trained taktics from spain, BoF and BoB and had experienced pilots which flew in the " finger four " system, Rotte and Schwarm. Their russian counterparts often had no gunsight, just a handpainted circle on the frontal glass, and their cockpitglass was really bad quality.
In Bombergroups it was even worse. Often only the flightleader of an attacing bomberformation had the information about target, so if he was shot down, the others had to fly home to. Germans learned that very quick.


The numbers of the russian ones were much higher, 20000+ tanks in the beginning. Often its said, the germans had better tanks, thats wrong. A VERY big part of the german tankforce consisted of PzKw II and even some PzKw I , and of course the Chez PzKw 38t and PzKw 35 . PzKw III made the majour part, equiped with the short 3.7 mm gun. PzKw IV made only a small part of the tankforce . On the other side , the russians had not only Bt 7 and T 24 , but already the superiour T 34 and KV I and KV 2. The reason for the defeat again was the taktics used by the germans. They concentrated their Tanks ( after the rules of the legendary founder of the Panzertruppe, General Heinz Guderian ), while you often found lonesome KV 2s on the russian side. The soviet Tank-Brigades werent individual forces like the german Panzerdivisionen.

For summary: In this case , quality defeated quantity. If Stalin hadnt killed the majour part of his officers in the big " cleaning-action" ( which especialy had a very negative effect on the potential of the russian tank force ) the germans wouldnt have had such an outstanding success in the first 2 years of this cruel war .



01-10-2004, 01:00 PM
Midyear Manpower in the Soviet Theater

Soviet (in millions)
German (in millions)
% of Soviet





Forces in Western Russia, June 1941

Axis Forces
Soviet Forces





Eastern Front, 1941-1945 161
Manpower in Russia*

Axis Troops (in millions)
Soviet Troops (in millions)






01-10-2004, 01:17 PM
Also, most Soviet tanks and many of thier aircraft did not have radios. Combined with poor leadership and deployment, this pretty much guaranteed defeat. Otherwise, 1941 Soviet tanks and aircraft could have put up a real fight. Most Soviet tanks were a decent match for early axis armor, and some were clearly superior. The same could be said for France in 1940, and they were defeated for similar reasons--not enough radios, poor leadership, general confusion.

01-10-2004, 09:50 PM
Little bitty Finland kicking the snot out of em didn't help things either. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

01-11-2004, 02:40 AM
Actually Xenios France was well coordinated and very slow. They concentrated their defenses on the Maginal Line on the boarder of Germany and dismissed the attack coming through the Ardennes Forest because it was "impassable." The French used slow deliberate troop movements to defend against the Blitzkrieg and lost even though they slightly outnumberd the German invading forces.

01-11-2004, 04:09 AM
German:Soviet armoured vehicle strength comparison

date - Germany(total) - Germany(East) - USSR(total)
6.41 - 5639 - 3671 - 28800
3.42 - 5087 - 1503 - 6690
5.42 - 5847 - 3981 - 8190
11.42 - 7798 - 3133 - 6940
3.43 - 5625 - 2374 - 9200
8.43 - 7703 - 2566 - 8200
6.44 - 9148 - 4740 - 13600
9.44 - 10563 - 4186 - 13400
10.44 - 11005 - 4917 - 13900
12.44 - 13175 - 4785 - 17000
1.45 - 13362 - 4881 - 16200

(figures include tanks and SPG but not troop carriers and armoured cars)

German:Soviet armoured vehicle combat losses, 1941-44

6.41-2.42 - 1:5.0
3.42-5.42 - 1:6.6
6.42-10.42 - 1:7.9
11.42-3.43 - 1:1.3
4.43-8.43 - 1:5.7
9.43-11.43 - 1:2.5
1.43-6.44 - 1:1.4
7.44 - 1:4.0
8.44 - 1:2.0
9.44 - 1:1.0
1.44-11.44 - 1:1.3

all stats from Zaloga