How would you influence France so that it would build a better Maginot Line?

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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If I had to choose between dug out fortifications that Germans know nothing about or concrete boxes that were scouted way ahead of time with every gun emplacement known to the enemy I would choose dirt. In Lithuania Russians build massive fortress around Kaunas. It was mostly finished for WWI, even today it looks pretty impressive. Germans pounded it to bits in one week. They simply brought railroad guns and pounded defenders unable to answer... According to Wiki Germans attacked Maginot line in something like 5 places and were repelled only in one.
What, you think you can toss up defenses in a short period to stop a planned German air ground attack? You want to know what that looks like? Its the EXACT situation faced by the French at Sedan.

Besides, Germans were doing heavy recon of the border, they'd have had eyes on the MLR from the east at ground level and air. They'd have known exactly where a crappy hasty built defensive position was located and when they find it that's then the local schwerpunkt/main effort attack, at least if its the option of hasty vs fixed heavily built fortifications.

And when indirect arty and direct fire field guns are shooting, you'd be a fool to want the protection of a few sandbags or logs versus numerous feet of reinforced concrete (meaning steel rebar) and hardened steel cupolas and gun ports.

I get why you're arguing this. Because you read online or very generalized and inaccurate accounts of WW2 that the Maginot Line or maybe you read Patton's stupid quote about fixed fortifications. But then you skipped how all the worst casualty producing battles in the war by attacking forces occurred in either severely constricted terrain favoring defenders (urban, bocage, mountains), or else against fixed fortifications properly constructed, manned, and defended.

The Maginot Line's only real fault was its continuous forts ended about 25 km short of Sedan (which was why that was the schwerpunkt for the entire German attack).
 

janusdviveidis

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Mar 2014
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Lithuania
What, you think you can toss up defenses in a short period to stop a planned German air ground attack?
That is my point, to stop German air attack you have to build planes, not bunkers. Because planes can simply fly over your bunker and attack somewhere else.
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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That is my point, to stop German air attack you have to build planes, not bunkers. Because planes can simply fly over your bunker and attack somewhere else.
No. To stop an air attack means heavy AAA, which were atop all Maginot Line forts.

To build more fighters the French need more factories, highly trained workers, raw materials, munitions, highly trained pilots with lots of training hours, all paid by more French taxes, in the middle of post WW1 rebuilding then their own Great Depression, which weren't exactly good times.

To build forts they need cheap labor, concrete, rebar steel, plating. Not cheap but far cheaper than quadrupling the size of the air force or tripling the size of the French active army, with an emphasis on capable mechanized, mobile, and highly trained divisions.

With fixed fortifications they barely have to man them until war is imminent then they can have barely trained reservists placed in them who don't need to be well led, don't need to be in great shape, don't need to be taught offensive warfare. Just obey orders and perform the few tasks that are required.

And at the end of the day, the French German border still needs to be defended. You seem to think a foxhole beats fixed fortifications like this. I'll disagree. So would the Germans at the West Stellung in early Sep 44 to late Mar 45 (that's how long it took the Western Allies to break through it), so would the Japanese at Iwo and Okinawa.

Imagine a modern police officer wearing a kevlar "bulletproof vest." Is it a waste or stupid because the cop takes a pistol bullet, that would otherwise be stopped by the vest, through the bridge of nose directly into brain stem? Of course not.

If a knight wearing full plate armor can die by a rondel dagger blade shoved into the brain through the vision slit of helm, does that make the armor useless? Of course not.

If a modern Main Battle Tank can be penetrated easily by a top attack HEAT round designed because its known the top of turret is weakest, does that make composite depleted uranium armor useless? Of course not.

If the French devise such strong defenses that the Germans win by going around it, does that make those strong defenses useless or stupid? Of course not.
 

janusdviveidis

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Mar 2014
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Lithuania
You give many examples where it was hard to take fortifications, but all of them were taken, most actually without casualties much higher than defenders. Sad fact is that you need active cooperation with tanks, airforce etc to have real use of these fortresses. Low quality conscripts are not very good at that. It is difficult to speak much about Maginot since it was not tested much. Several smaller forts were taken without much trouble, but all large fortresses simply surrendered. I have already mentioned Kaunas, large fortress that was taken without much trouble in WW1. If you don't have active integrated units that can attack enemy artillery, your huge fortress will be bombarded into surrender without any significant casualties on attackers side. Kaunas forts were smashed by railroad guns using 1 ton shells. There is just one defensive line that I know of that really payed of it is Mannerheim Line in Finland. Even this line worked well only because Fins were very actively attacking Soviets Outside fortifications and geographical location favored such installations. If they have tried simply sit inside those forts attacker would simply concentrate artillery and aviation on one fort, bombard it into surrender, choose next and repeat.
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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You give many examples where it was hard to take fortifications, but all of them were taken, most actually without casualties much higher than defenders. It is difficult to speak much about Maginot since it was not tested much. Several smaller forts were taken without much trouble, but all large fortresses simply surrendered. I have already mentioned Kaunas, large fortress that was taken without much trouble in WW1. If you don't have active integrated units that can attack enemy artillery, your huge fortress will be bombarded into surrender without any significant casualties on attackers side. Kaunas forts were smashed by railroad guns using 1 ton shells. There is just one defensive line that I know of that really payed of it is Mannerheim Line in Finland. Even this line worked well only because Fins were very actively attacking Soviets Outside fortifications and geographical location favored such installations. If they have tried simply sit inside those forts attacker would simply concentrate artillery and aviation on one fort, bombard it into surrender, choose next and repeat.
The forts you're describing were built largely in the 1880s. If you think for a second they're comparable to the forts designed and built in the 20-30s, then I have a bridge to sell you. You do realize that the engineers who designed the Maginot Line fortresses actually had something called WW1 to use as a template? Had access to building materials and methods that weren't used in some middle of nowhere fort in Lithuania.

Sad fact is that you need active cooperation with tanks, airforce etc to have real use of these fortresses. Low quality conscripts are not very good at that.
This post is absolutely ridiculous.

First, tanks have no place nearby to a fort on the defense, they would be used as a separate element in the rear as reserve, to deal with any breakthroughs (forts are obstacles, not designed to be impossible to penetrate, designed to slow the attack, bleed him, to deter him). Air force are completely separate.

Second, it doesn't matter if volunteer or conscripts. Most of the Germans of WW2 were conscripts in 1939-45, and nearly all the US military enlisted personnel from 1943 onwards were conscripted. Conscription =/= bad. The difference is active duty and reserve. Active duty, prewar, have time to spend training and preparing. Their officers are better, NCOs are better, their lower enlisted are better, all because they do training more often. Reservists, not so much. They have limited time to train them, and they are not even called up in large numbers until a national emergency, then their is limited time and resources to train them. The French system didn't allow for a giant standing army, that would not have been possible, financially, socially, politically. They relied entirely on calling a large number of the population, to include many who were a bit "over the hill" in terms of age and health, in order to defend their country. So they would be stuck with hundreds of thousands of soldiers of very questionable skill. Why you would make them pilots of form them into divisions tasked to fight in open ground, the best place for those people is in a position where they can do the least harm to their side and the most harm to the enemy. Which means being in a defended position with a good weapon system pointed at the enemy. Ergo, fixed fortification.s

What does a soldier need to know to man anyone of these positions? (I'll actually post the picture since you didn't open it last time)



They need to be able to 1) Obey orders and take to army discipline 2) Operate the weapon system in question or perform whatever support function they're assigned

That's it.

They don't need to know how to conduct an attack. They don't need to know how to assault a bunker. They don't need to be able to work with tanks in combined arms. They don't need to know how to detect and clear a minefield. They don't need to know how to react to indirect fire. They don't need to know how to react to sniper fire. They don't need to know how to react to machine gun fire. They don't need to know how to clear buildings. They don't need to know how to use improvised weapons to kill a tank. They don't need to know how to conduct a bayonet charge. They don't need to know how to consolidate on the objective to repel a counterattack. They don't need to know how to dig in properly and form a solid hasty defensive position. They don't need to know how to patrol. They don't need to know land navigation. They don't need to be able to conduct 50 km marches with packs or 10 km runs on a regular basis. They don't need to be good soldiers. Nor do their officers. Nor their NCOs.

All of those skills are needed to be a good soldier OUTSIDE of fixed fortifications. Its a different story INSIDE fixed fortifications. Its been proven a thousand times over time, especially in WW2, that fighting from fixed and properly constructed defenses allows for a lower quality soldier. Which is why even in late war when the quality of German troops dropped significantly, when hundreds of thousands of 16 year olds, sailors and airmen were made into infantrymen without advanced training, when most divisions were largely incapable of offensive effectiveness as graded by their own commanders, the Heer could still perform well on the defensive, especially while fighting from fixed fortifications.

The Western Allies were at their strongest in Sept '44-Mar '45, in terms of equipment in theater, size of their forces, combat experience, etc. Why did it take six months to break through across the Rhine?

LOOK AT THIS MAP

Notice where the Allies were at September? Notice the thick red line which is the Rhine? It took six months to cross that distance and to cross the Rhine. And hundreds of thousands of casualties, to the point the US Army replacement system was pushed to the near breaking point.

Why?

You should know the answer at this point. You do, you just wont admit it, because this is an online argument and now your ego is at stake.
 

janusdviveidis

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Mar 2014
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Lithuania
So why all those fixed fortifications, with exception of Finish one failed? I understand, that some forts are better than others. Still lets say that one fort very good and nice fort have 20 artillery pieces and 20 antiaircraft guns. Lets say it can be supported by forts on each side of itself. So in this one location you have 60 artillery pieces and 60 antiaircraft guns. All those conscripts sit nicely inside bunkers no one ventures out. Enemy brings to that point 500 artillery pieces and 500 planes and starts bombarding day and night non stop. What will be result in your opinion?

P. S. That was not some tiny fort in the middle of nowhere in Lithuania. Germans captured in that place 1200 guns, it was defended by 90 000 soldiers, 20 000 died attempting to defend that place, that gives you some idea on the scale of fortification. True, Germans first attacked oldest fortifications that were probably weakest part of defense. Strongest ones simply surrendered, but same thing happened in France.
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
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So why all those fixed fortifications, with exception of Finish one failed? I understand, that some forts are better than others. Still lets say that one fort very good and nice fort have 20 artillery pieces and 20 antiaircraft guns. Lets say it can be supported by forts on each side of itself. So in this one location you have 60 artillery pieces and 60 antiaircraft guns. All those conscripts sit nicely inside bunkers no one ventures out.
Again, you are drawing the absolute wrong conclusions. Suggesting that although they had fixed fortifications but ultimately lost made the fortifications useless is like saying because they drank water too that it caused them to lose. No, correlation is not causation. The fact is that if they had no fixed fortifications they'd have lost that much sooner.

Enemy brings to that point 500 artillery pieces and 500 planes and starts bombarding day and night non stop. What will be result in your opinion?
Gee, if only the designers of the fortress took into account that the enemy would be shooting at them. Whoops, I'm sure they totes forgot that part. All that reinforced concrete and steel plating. All those AAA guns.

News flash. EACH ACTUAL CUPOLA AND CASEMATE AND TURRET were impervious to anything other than extreme direct hits to either extremely heavy bombs and artillery pieces. I'm not talking about 88mm AA guns, or the 105mm and 150mm artillery found in a . Nor the 500 km bombs carried by a Stuka that would be extremely hard pressed to make a direct hit. I'm talking giant bombs carried by medium and heavy bombers who lacked the accuracy to make reliable hits based on anything other than saturation and luck. And I'm talking about extremely heavy rail guns, of the sort the Germans had little of, which would have to take out walk in fire and take out every single emplacement separately.

That's right. Because taking out any single one of those positions, either damaging or destroying, didn't destroy the fort, as they were all self contained. Every single position would have to be individually destroyed.

Fixed fortifications are not impervious. Not impossible to get through. They just make it harder. How hard depends on too many factors to discuss, but the most obvious lesson is that unless some incredible flaw is apparent to the attacker, or they have some sort of weapon system that possesses the ability to nullify it, then

The Germans had limited resources, especially in 1940. The more firepower they bring on one spot of the Maginot Line with heavy artillery and Luftwaffe attacks it like a laser pointer identifying that position as the Schwerpunk, the main effort, where they intend to breach with their best units. Which means the French station their reserves, including armor, behind that section to deal with any possible breakthroughs. Which was exactly what their doctrine was already.

But more so, they didn't even need to worry, because the Maginot Line served its purpose. It deterred the Germans from attacking across the French-German border. The problem wasn't that the Maginot Line existed, it was that in the area it didn't the French didn't cover the ground properly.

The Maginot Line was an economy of force defensive operation, fighting from well situated fixed fortifications. Sedan was not. It had poor defenses, very limited mines, less than 450 AP and AT covering an army sized frontage; to put that in perspective the Soviet defense at Kursk had ~"1,700 anti-personnel and 1,500 anti-tank mines per km." It was defended by two second rate infantry divisions of reservists not fighting from properly constructed defenses, who were covering a sector far larger than two divisions are supposed to. THAT WAS WHY THE GERMANS WON. They found the weakest position, massed firepower, attacked it with speed, violence, and surprise, overwhelmed it and exploited their breakthrough with mobility and great speed before any local reserves could manage to stop it.

They won because Sedan =/=Maginot Line.

P. S. That was not some tiny fort in the middle of nowhere in Lithuania. Germans captured in that place 1200 guns, it was defended by 90 000 soldiers, 20 000 died attempting to defend that place, that gives you some idea on the scale of fortification. True, Germans first attacked oldest fortifications that were probably weakest part of defense. Strongest ones simply surrendered, but same thing happened in France.
And we're still discussing defenses in the middle of nowhere Lithuania designed and largely built in the 19th century, what wasn't was still developed and built BEFORE WW1 started. No matter how fixed on your argument you are, you cannot ignore away that the lessons learned of WW1 were used in the development of fortifications build AFTER WW1, namely the Maginot Line.
 

janusdviveidis

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Mar 2014
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Lithuania
You still can't explain how all those perfect fortifications were taken and all countries that relied on them lost? Or it is just coincidence? With exception of Finland.
 

aggienation

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Jul 2016
9,813
USA
You still can't explain how all those perfect fortifications were taken and all countries that relied on them lost? Or it is just coincidence? With exception of Finland.
Its not coincidence. Its war. I can explain it. I did explain it. No fortification is impossible to get through, just hard. They took them with time, lives, war material through heavily planned and prepared operations. The ones they didn't, because they were unwilling to spend the time, lives, materials, or not do the planning and preparations.

What is sad is that it took four minutes for you to completely ignore that post, not read a thing in it, to repeat another generalized statement that simply reveals you don't know how warfare works. I'm done with this.

I'd love to explain to someone how a fixed fortification can be taken. But I'm sure not going to waste my time explaining it to a novice who acts the master, who doesn't even have the courtesy to read and digest the numerous paragraphs of what I wrote.

You have a good one!
 

janusdviveidis

Ad Honorem
Mar 2014
2,008
Lithuania
I just can't understand your persistence. All attempts to defend using fixed fortifications during WW2 failed. After WW2 no one built such fortifications any more. I would make a conclusion that they were bad idea. You make conclusion that they were excellent idea. We probably are thinking in very different way and therefore agreement is impossible.