Battle of Kerch Peninsula, 1942

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Erich von Manstein versus D.T. Kozlov: A German army under Manstein assaults a Soviet army while besieging another, both under Kozlov. Can Kozlov blunt the attack long enough to exploit Manstein’s precarious position fighting two fronts? Also known as Operation Bustard Hunt and Operation Trappenjagd.

Significance
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Compared to other German masterpiece battles of maneuver in World War II such as France, Kiev, and Gazala, Kerch Peninsula is a relative unknown. The Eastern Front 1941-1942 witnessed stunning German successes, resulting in massive prisoner tallies. Superior German combat doctrine was partly responsible but each battle was won individually by an individual commander in an individual set of circumstances. Each victory, including that in the Kerch Peninsula, was a masterpiece in its own right.

Analysis
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Manstein utilized a simple maneuver of warfare to win this battle: envelopment of a single flank. The battle was won so decisively because Manstein utilized an effective deception plan to convince Kozlov the major push would come in the north, and also because the major push was so swift and well-supported, exploiting success at every stage.
kerch peninsula preview 2Notes
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First of all, a note on the Soviet casualty figures given. All available sources were consistent in stating that 170,000 Soviet solders were captured with no regard towards killed or wounded. Based on the typical Soviet-German casualty ratio for this stage of the Eastern Front, Soviet killed and wounded should be twice that of the Germans. I therefore doubled the German casualty figures and determined it to be the minimum number of Soviet killed and wounded.This battle was a frustrating one to animate. For starters, modern battles undermine the “artful” nature of this website’s because the formations are so distinct; for example, that box is not just an infantry unit, it is the 57th Infantry Division. Due to this simple fact, I cannot just place units in the best manner to illustrate tactical concepts because I am restrained by the knowledge of exact locations of exact formations. This is an impossibility in this medium; formations become separated, partly destroyed, deployed in smaller formations etc., and this is not consistent with the site’s goals. The goal of these animations is to teach tactics and strategy. The positions of each formation range from exact to approximate and should only give the viewer an idea of what role they played in the battle; if you desire more precise information, consult primary documents such as unit diaries.
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The other frustrating aspect of animating this battle is the troubles I had finding sources for this battle. The dispositions of most formations are based on Russian maps (fortunately I have basic knowledge of the Russian language and was able to make great use of them) but the quality of sources is not high enough. I have reached a stage where my standards for source quality are very high. Regardless, this is a solid animation and should shed some much needed light on the Crimean Campaign. Enjoy.
– Jonathan Webb
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Works Consulted
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Battlefields: Battle for the Crimea. DVD. 2007, Cromwell Productions.Haupt, Werner. Army Group South: The Wehrmacht in Russia 1941-1945. Atglen: Schiffer, 1998.

Mawdsley, Evan. Thunder in the East. London: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Moshchansky, I. and A. Savin. “Bor’ba za Krym. Sentyabr’ 1941 – Iyul 1942.” Voyennaya Letopis 1 (2002).

Seaton, Albert. The Russo-German War 1941-1945. London: Arthur Barker Limited, 1971.

Images
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Erich von Manstein: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_von_MansteinGerman aircraft: http://www-micrel.deis.unibo.it/~michele/aircrafts/WWII.html

German infantry: http://warandgame.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/the-german-infantry-and-grenadier-battalion/

German tank: http://www.achtungpanzer.com/panzerkampfwagen-iii.htm

Map of Eastern Front: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Front_(World_War_II)

Map of the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_map_projections

Soviet aircraft: http://www.vvsregiaavions.com/

Soviet infantry: http://www.modellposta.hu/ujdonsagok/ujdonsag2.php?parrentid=2167

Soviet tank: http://www.battletanks.com/t34_76b.htm

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If you enjoyed the Battle of Kerch Peninsula 1942 battle animation, you may also enjoy these other battle animations:

Battle of Gazala 1942, another battle fought in World War II where a German commander attempts the envelopment of a single flank:

gazala preview

Battle of Gallipoli 1915, another battle fought on a peninsula during the Modern Era:

gallipoli preview 1

Battle of Yarmuk 636, another battle in which a commander attempts an envelopment of a single flank:

yarmuk preview 1


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Readers Comments (4)

  1. Well done! I discovered your site from wikipedia’s Battle of Marathon page as a “related link”. As an avid military history fan, your website is brilliant! Thanks.

    Arul

  2. My grandfather was in this battle. He miraculously survived and fought until the end of the war…
    Thank you for you website!

  3. Looking at the power point. If the airplanes killed an average of 200 solders a piece. The armies would still be even. Since Statistics say Soviets had better guns. Also The Soviets still had a bigger army, therefore it looks as if the Soviets would kill more than a measly 14k. In my opinion that army would have killed over 65k.

    http://www.bayonetstrength.150m.com/Weapons/infantry_weapons_of_world_war_tw.htm

  4. What would happen if Kozlov used his fleet to assault the Germans by water?

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