On pages 1375-1378 of my Kursk book is an extended discussion of the artillery ammunition usage at Kursk. As it is buried back in Appendix III, let me quote a little bit of the discussion here:
The Voronezh Front, according to the 1944 Soviet General Staff Study, had 8,356 guns and mortars as of 4 July of which 1,944 were 76mm and larger divisional artillery. In contrast, the German units involved in the offensive started with 4,630 guns and mortars, of which 1,336 were 105mm or larger artillery. This gives the Soviet force a “tube count” advantage of 1.8 to 1.
Still, what is significant is not the number of tubes, but the weight of firepower. In the cases of the Germans, it is estimated that they fired a total of 51,083 tons of ammunition during the course of the battle. It is estimated that 49% by weight of the ammunition consumed was from the gun artillery. In the case of the Soviet forces of the Voronezh Front and the two reinforcing Steppe Front armies, they consumed a total of 21,867 tons of ammunition during the course of the battle. It is estimated that 36% by weight was from the gun artillery….
Overall, this means that while the Soviet forces outnumbered the Germans forces 1.8 to 1 according to tube count, they in fact were out shot according to weight of fire calculations, 2.34 to 1. This is a significant difference and certainly so, with artillery usually responsible for 50 to 70% of the killing on the battlefield. This may be a major factor in the measurable performance differences (especially casualty effectiveness) between the two armies….
Therefore, one is forced to look at a second reason, which is that the Soviet Army just did not have that much ammunition available. One notes in The Economy of the USSR During World War II that they make this point in the 1947 publication (which certainly has a propaganda-inspired slant). They report that the Soviet Union made 29 times more artillery pieces in World War II than were produced in the Russian Empire during World War I but they only produced 8.2 times as many artillery shells than they delivered to the army in the Russian Empire during World War I. This is a very interesting comparison.
This is a classic shortfall of the command-driven top-down communist system, where they manufactured huge numbers of glamorous big-ticket items, like tanks and guns, but did not provide the support material in the form of ammunition or transport. As such, the Soviet units were well equipped, but not well-supported. This certainly affected the relative combat capabilities of the opposing forces and the differences in their attrition rates….
This shortfall really affected the usefulness of the Katyushas. The Voronezh Front ended up with 13 independent guards’ mortar regiments, which usually had 24 Katyushas. This is a total of around 312 such eight-tube launchers. The potential weight of fire for these weapons is very high. Instead, what we see from them are very low volumes of fire. The Soviets during Kursk fired an estimated 2,422 tons of ammo from all of its Katyushas (both those in the guards mortar regiments and those in the units). With a total of 331 Katyushas, this comes out to 7.32 tons of fire per rocket launcher; or 93.50 pounds per round, an average of 20 8-shot volleys per Kayusha. In contract, the Germans with their 324 nebelwerfers and 16 Wurfrahmen, consumed 5,916 tons of ammunition. This made the German nebelwerfer a considerably more fearsome weapons than the legendary Katyusha.
Anyhow, quoting this because I am in a private discussion on Soviet ammunition production and supply during 1944-45. I have never seen a properly researched discussion of the Soviet artillery supply situation in 1944-45.