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Operation Pluto (Heute Europa)

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Operation Pluto
DateJune 27, 1943 - August 27, 1943
LocationEastern Russia
ResultSoviet Loss
Belligerents
Soviet Union (Heute Europa)
Nazi Germany (Heute Europa)
Strength
Nazi Germany:

4,180,000 men,
830 tanks,
980 aircraft

Soviet Union:
7,950,000 men
1450 tanks,
792 aircraft

Casualties
Military casualties:
Nazi Germany:

1,082,021 killed,
3,100,262 wounded
2112 missing

Soviet Union:
3,417,006 killed,
2,651,383 wounded,
268,411 missing

Operation Pluto (Операция Плутон) was the code name for a massive summer offensive by the forces of the Soviet Union in the Summer of 1943.


Background

On March 17, 1942, the massive German armies invaded the Soviet Union. In just a few days panzer units advanced more than 200 miles, wiping out most of the Red Army and taking millions prisoner. By July 1 German forces were approaching Moscow, Leningrad, and Kiev. on July 22nd, the Germans took Moscow. Once those three cities were taken, and defensive lines were established, German soldiers set up defensive lines around the cities and waited for winter. In the south, in Ukraine, troops continued to advance to the edge of the Ukraine before digging in, as the winter there would be less harsh and come later. Rather than continue to conquer and overextend German forces, the German army sent groups of scout troops to round up all Soviet citizens within 100 miles of the front lines, and along with the already-captured soldiers and captive citizens of the areas already conquered, these people proved to be potent hostages. Germany threatened to kill every last one of them unless Stalin surrendered himself, and Russia withdrew its border to the Ural Mountains. Stalin refused, Saying "I will not yield to the Fascists and their threats. Millions might be dead, but we have millions more. We shall overcome." Stalin ordered Zhukov to plan a mighty summer offensive to push the Fascists back. It would take advantage of the many newly raised divisions, and the tanks being constructed in the factories that were evacuated to the Urals.

The Assault

Soviet Artilery

Soviet Zis-3 Guns at the start of Operation Pluto.


During the Initial phase of the assault, the Russians enjoyed massive successes. Most of the 11th Panzer was wiped out in the first few days of the Assault. Most of the troops at the line were Hungarian and Romanian, as most German units were disbanded and sent home to work the factories. The Allied troops fought hard, but were decisively defeated.

The German Response

Large numbers of troops were hastily recalled and labouriously shifted east to deal with the massive assault.

The Battle of Vladamir

Vladimir

The battle of Vladimir.

Vladamir was a very important city 200 km east of Moscow. If the Russians could capture Vladimir, then they could use it as a base for recapturing Moscow. Hitler ordered that the city was to be held at all costs.

Germany: For the defense, Hitler amassed 12 Infantry divisions, supported by the 2nd and 10th panzer divisions. Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler, the premier SS division, would also moved east to aid the troops there, though it was several weeks travel away. the Panzer divisions mainly consisted of Panzer IIIJ and Panzer IVF2 tanks, which were good tanks, but nowhere near as good as the Soviet T34. a few battalions of the new Panzer VI tiger would also be deployed. the divisions were spread along the line, so that when the attack went through, only two were opposing them.

Soviets: For the attack on Vladimir, Zhukov concentrated 3 armies, including 4 Guards Divisions. most would be used for distracting attacks, with the best units amased for the assault on the city itself.

Katyusha

Soviets Re-loading a Katyusha Rocket launcher during the Battle of Vladimir.

The Battle

The German Infantry divisions were spread along the line so that when the attack went through, only two were opposing the Russian troops.

Aftermath

Pluto was Stalin's last gasp. After the failure of the offensive, the Soviet Union was doomed to fall.

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