Bombing Moscow-Upper Volga Power Stations

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by wiking, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. wiking Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    What if the Germans had actually hit the 11 power/routing stations that the Luftwaffe economic staff identified as the major source of electricity of entire region. It supposedly would have shut down production of 50% of Soviet electronics production and 75% of aero-engine production. upper volga power stations&f=false upper volga power stations&f=false

    Assuming something like this was done in the winter of 1941 instead of bombing Moscow, or in 1942 before Case Blue what would the effect have been on the war in the East?
  2. KACKO Well-Known Member

    Dec 12, 2010
    Question is, even if they attempted attacks on them, how many would be really hit and how seriously?
  3. wiking Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    Apparently the power stations were poorly defended by the Soviets early in the war and the Luftwaffe had excellent intelligence on them thanks to providing and installing the equipment for them. The Luftwaffe also had stolen the Norden bombsight and improved it, the German version being produced from January 1941 on. The British did an analysis of the German version and rated it superior the American version.
    So the Luftwaffe could fly low over the power stations, dramatically improving accuracy, which their elite strategic bomber unit KG100 already had excellent marks on this:
    Only now they had the Lotfernrohr 7: (
    According to Kenneth Wakefield's book on the German pathfinders (
    the new bombsight dramatically improved accuracy even for the already accurate pathfinders.

    The He111 could carry a 1800, 2000, or 2500kg armor piercing bomb, which is overkill, as the Germans estimated that a 1000kg armor piercing bomb was enough to crush the guts of the power stations (which they built and installed; the Soviets lack the ability to manufacture that equipment themselves, so would not be able to replace or fix it). A Gruppe of 30 aircraft dropping 1800kg armor piercing bombs would gut the power stations.
  4. Michael B Doomfarer

    Dec 21, 2005
    Cair Paravel on the shores of the Shining Sea
    Sounds like the Germans have one good opportunity to get it right otherwise the Soviets will saturate the area with fighters and AA guns (did they). Given the time it took the Allies to do the same to Germany, this is going to take some luck.
  5. wiking Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    I don't think the Western Allies bombing record is comparable here. The German power grid was much more dispersed and less centralized. Also they were well defended by the time the Allies started targeting them, so they couldn't and didn't make low-level runs on the stations.

    The Luftwaffe on the other hand has a golden opportunity, because the Soviets didn't expect anyone to get that far into the Soviet Union, so left the stations pretty well undefended in 1941-2. That gives the Germans a perfect open goal to make accurate low-level runs on the stations, much like the Mosquito low level raids on targets in Germany later in the war.

    You're right, the Luftwaffe has one shot otherwise the Soviets are going to bring in their massive AA assets to make it a FLAK trap.

    I'm pretty sure the Luftwaffe wouldn't drop the ball at this point in the war, as their premiere precision bombing unti KGr 100 just came from a years worth of bombing of Britain by night in tough conditions, so has the experience to make this work. They are also use to high tempo operations, as they were heavily depended on during the Blitz (along with elements of KG 26 and 56) to mark targets and often operated every night for weeks. They can hit all 11 targets within a week, which should be enough time before STAVKA realizes what's happening, especially as the raids would be during major operations against Moscow and the Soviets would be distracted.
  6. Gunnarnz Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2011
    In general, I'm sceptical of claims that "if only Germany had done this, they would have won". There are very few opportunities where simply building more of a particular type of equipment or conducting a single operation would genuinely change the course of the war so dramatically, and almost all ideas along these lines seem to assume that the Allies will make no effort to adapt to the new circumstances once the German weapon/tactic/plan/whatever is discovered. So I doubt that this would change the overall outcome significantly.

    Having got all that out of the way, however, this might be one of the things that actually could make a difference on the Eastern Front. The Soviets relied heavily on Lend-Lease supplies, but their own production was significant as well and some industries - especially aluminium for aircraft - used a lot of electricity. Insofar as the gap could be made up at all we would see increased use of fuels for local power generation once the main power stations are destroyed. It might also be worth thinking about the potential effects on the logistics system that made moving supplies around possible - the Soviet Union didn't use electric locomotives or depend on extensive street-lighting systems, but there must have been something powering the railway signal system.

    Some luck, or guided weapons! No, don't laugh - this sounds like exactly the sort of thing that the Fritz X and HS.293 would have been ideal for. Those weapons could have greatly enhanced the capabilities of the Luftwaffe's strategic bombing force for such operations. To my mind that's a much better use than trying to hit warships with them.
  7. wiking Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    I didn't say it would win the war for Germany, but it would help blunt some of the Soviet production advantage. Given the vast amounts of electricity required and the inability of the Soviets to replace the equipment destroyed, there is nothing that can replace it west of the Urals. The Soviet response would be to move their works and their families east and move the factories like they did with those in 1941. It would cause major disruption to some very important production, like most of the aero-engines, but it would temporary. I think by the end of 1942 that production would be back online in the Urals. The problem is the effect of the disruption in 1942. It could be bad enough to prevent the Soviets from launching both Mars and Saturn and could well end up with one or the other. Supposedly Mars was the main offensive, so it would be the one launched, with similar bloody results. That means the German 6th army lives and changes a lot in 1943.

    The VVS would have a hard time rebuilding if they lose 75% of their aero-engine production for 6-12 months while the plants are relocated. The Luftwaffe has a better showing in 1942 and 1943 as a result, which gives them a pretty important edge. Without the Stalingrad airlift losses, the Luftwaffe would be dangerous far longer in the air. The biggest losses at Stalingrad Luftwaffe-wise was the irreplaceable flight instructors that were pressed into service to fly the transports for the airlift. Their deaths seriously damaged Luftwaffe training and replacement. Remove that and the Luftwaffe bleeds out more slowly and contests the air longer, so some of those tens of thousands pilot-less aircraft in 1944 will have pilots of better caliber than IOTL.