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Questions on some aspects of military logistics

Discussion in 'World History' started by innonimatu, Nov 27, 2019.

  1. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    I've been reading some papers on military logistics and wondering how important are some of the limitations mentioned.

    On railways: was it common for steam engine locomotives to require protection overnight and very frequent maintenance? And to be tied to specific stretches of railway? OR was this a feature of some climates or some regions?

    On road transport: rather small limits to the amount of cargo that could be moved long distances even with trucks. Are these reasonable? And what are the present day limits of road transport on hostile (or deserted) territory?

    On pre-modern and early modern armies: living off the land was common. Still, provisions get spent on any given region if an army remains there too long, and there is such a thing as a scorched earth strategy. Was it common for cavalry to be regarded as a hindrance due to its supply requirements and armies that could posses cavalry to deliberately operate without horses? Or even for cavalry soldiers to campaign dismounted, as foot soldiers?
     
  2. r16

    r16 not deity

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    very limited actual knowledge , but ı can try a bit . ı would take steam to be less maintenance intensive , but depends on the makers . Americans were renowned for rugged models in the 19th , while the French opted for engineering efficiency and their drivers would be like college grads when compared to "illiterate" Anglosaxons . For steam , you can always collect firewood , the early models specifically used that , but you need water and a lot of it . That killed Steam in the US when diesels appeared , as Americans had really big and efficient steam engines to compete with the best , but hidden effects of maintaining water and stuff was seen as a money saving thing . During the American Civil War , Northern Command had to take specific measures against the hygine of troops , because when they bathed with soap in natural sources of waters , like lakes and creeks that would cause maintenance troubles in the engines . The famous American trucks of the WW II were called 2.5 tonners and that would be the load they could be trusted to carry in the fields (ı think) and it could easily be double on paved roads (again ı think) . Cavalry always trouble , a horse could (ı think) be eating ten times the weight of what a man consumes , but ı would say it could earn its pay . Cavalry would dismount always if it had any commanders with brains , but the history shows that was really rare , and for using them as ordinary infantry intentionally , one could perhaps re-organize them as such , from the start . Theirs tend to smaller than similar level of infantry formations .
     
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  3. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    Thanks! It is a good point that in some climates the water was a problem also, for steam engines. And there were some countries where coal, fuel, was not a problem initially because they ran their locomotives on wood. But that was a thing on some american countries only? Perhaps the northern european ones, Scandinavia or Russia with ample wood, did it also?
     
  4. r16

    r16 not deity

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    my pleasure . My real life reading is limited but ı imagine the wood burning engines , those iconic ones in every Western one , were perfect for the expanding America as coal needs its own infrastructure and that can be massive but you could have mule teams and the like to bring in the wood from the ample forests that would be cleared for farms and the like anyhow . Can's say anything for Scandinavia , but Russians are probably the first to try oil burning , maybe 1880ish , maybe earlier . It all depends on availability .

    and my thanks , because ı wasn't careful enough last week that there would be links to the site which seems really interesting and stuff ...
     
  5. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    Protection overnight - I dunno, presumably it would depend on how close to the front they were. In general, steam locomotives would be returned to a station/shed after a set period of time for basic maintenance/ cleaning. I don't know how well Russian railways were equipped, but in central Germany, France, and the UK, railways were fully capable of night running with no need to trains to stop for the night.
    Very frequent maintenance - very much so. Steam engines are a mechanics nightmare for maintenance. A bajillion heavy external moving parts needing constant lubrication and being subjected to hammer forces means repairmen are kept very busy. The British and Germans tried to address this with their Austerity / kriegslok steam engines, but even in the best case scenarios, heavy and frequent maintenance was needed. In wartime locomotives were subjected to heavier work and less repair time, while also having inferior coal and water quality.
    As far as being tied to specific stretches of railway, it depends. Despite attempts at standardization, steam locomotives were essentially custom-designed for specific regions. A steam engine designed for hauling coal drags through the Rhineland would not be well suited to a fast troop train steaming across the fields of Poland. (Of course, given wartime demands, needs must.) The UK generally kept their Austerity models region-locked, but Germany attempted mass standardization with the kriegslok. It was actually pretty impressive for the time, ensuring not just that parts were spread throughout the railway system for an engine, but that different engines were able to use the same parts. However, Germany's railway system was already overstressed and outdated before the war started so that program had the end result of just adding to complexity a la XKCD:

    Further, the German railways used a different gauge than Russian railways. Although nowadays it is possible to change the gauge of railcars, I'm not sure it was possible then, let alone regauging engines. German railways in Russia was a half-baked mess of regauged railways and scavenged Russian equipment pressed into service.

    I know some Finnish/Nordic railways ran some smaller steam engines on wood for quite a white, but my understanding is that by WWI, definitely by WWII, everyone had converted their steam engines to run on coal. Wood is not a very good fuel for steam engines as it places severe constraints on the design of the firebox, generates a lot more ash than coal (which affects the strength of the fire), and does not generate as much heat as coal. Switching from wood to coal burning is a pretty substantial change, especially as European steam engines tended to very tight design parameters to maximize efficiency.
     
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  6. r16

    r16 not deity

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    thanks for the corrections . ı would then change maintenance intensive to diesels being new , while steam was around more than a century , meaning the Germans should have dieselized like hell , but well , they went to war for resources in the final analysis . In a time of war context , perhaps it would be wrong to travel in the dark , with Partizans in the East numbering hundreds of thousands .

    ı have muddled through the links and ı would say the 80 kilometers spacing of the Russian railroads would make sense . They lack signals so if their drivers were to be assigned to specific locations they would know the bends and the curves and would slow down for safety and accelarate for delivery efficiency on their own . ı am some Mediterrenean type of guy and every place up North of us is cold in winter and ı have always trouble in accepting Russia could be far colder than Germany . As such the author practically maintains destruction of those sheds so that "weaker" German engines would have burst pipes in the morning as a war winning move .
     

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