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  • Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
    Arguable, but then I think you understand that since you've added quotations marks to inferior.



    Depends on how you cut the figures.
    Through the end of 1942 losses between US fighter aircraft and Zeros was dead even for all intents. That is the loss ratio was 1 to 1. For other Japanese aircraft the loss rate steadly climbed to horrific levels around 10 to 1.


    There isn't any "cut(ting) the figures." There are historical records that given detailed research on both sides such as Lundstrom has done show this very clearly.

    The inferior remark was from the Allied side of things. They wanted a fighter sufficently superior that the fight was completely one-sided. I don't blame pilots for that at all. The Japanese pilots wanted the same thing. They recognized the Zero was having great difficulty shooting down heavily armored and well built Allied aircraft even in 1942 and by 1943 they knew the plane was little more than a death trap.

    They too wanted better planes. Unfortunately for them industry wasn't up to producing those planes until 1944 and then not in quantity. The N1K1 George, the J3M Jack, the Ki 84 Frank, and others were all as good or better than their Allied counterparts but, none were available when they were needed. Even the Ki 61 Tony or Ki 44 Tojo simply were not available in the numbers necessary to counter Allied fighters in the interm.

    Comment


    • Me thinks the argument is split between "scope" or perhaps Macro vs Micro applications of armour. If one is looking at a map on a table and the symbols denote brigades or divisions and the map scale is 1:100,000 then, yes, Sherman does look like a mighty fine piece of war fighting kit. However, if the symbols on the map are platoons or coys and the map scale is 1:10,000 then Sherman is going to look definitely weaker than Mk V or VI. There is simply no way around the differences in the gun-armour statistics.

      This is the difference in the two arguments. "Strategically" Sherman has the advantage over Mk V because it ran longer, further and in greater numbers. Wonderful if you are a major general in charge of a division or corps. "Tactically", where armour thickness, first shot and penetration power means the difference betwixt life and death Sherman comes out a distant second, arguably third to Mk V.

      If warfare was fought just from the 1:100,000 scale map then Sherman w/ a 75mm gun is all you need. Unfortunately, for the captain or sergeant, his life experience in war is fought at 1:10,000 scale so he will seek, demand actually, thicker armour and bigger guns. As fine a machine as Sherman was, especially in 1942-43, it was not a Mk V in 1944 and this experience is why the US came up with M26 and later M47, 48, 60 and M1. They realised that a future war could not be won by the continuance of the Sherman template and what they needed was a "better" Mk V. So Sherman, like the heavy brands Mk VI and Soviet IS, gave way to a merging of Mk V combat capabilities with Sherman automotive ones.

      MBTs took the field.
      The Purist

      Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
        I respectfully disagree. It is you who has yet to learn that it isn't history to cherry pick quotes without analysis where they favour pre-conceived and religiously cherished notions.

        History is placing evidence in a coherent context and seeing cause, effect and pattern. It isn't using evidence as a weapon and refusing to see the contrary majority of the evidence in favour of that small piece which suits you
        Better qualified men than you have said as much over the years however I am still here, still at the sharp end and still bringing facts to the fore. There has been a a remarkable shift in perceptions as to the 'superiority' of the Panzer Arm in the last decade. I can only hope my small contribution in this area has been of some help..
        I am not one of those souls with a penchant for long rambling threads minutely dissecting of the writings of von Moltke or true definitions of obscure words in German Tactical writings I simply look at what happened. I believe if you get the correct answer how you got it (by accident or default) is unimportant.
        Look at the actions and look at the results. The Sherman ('Sherman' is shorthand for all Allied tanks) proved it was capable of defeating the small number of tanks that completely outclassed it. It worked. You can whinge about 'not a fair fight' I care only about the end result.


        Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
        What always strikes me as telling about WWII tank warfare is that it was the winners who complained about their tanks, and the losers who tactically acted at the time, and went into print afterwards, broadly praising their own vehicles.
        Point me to a book(s) written by Pz IV crewman who praised his tanks performance in Normandy.
        The 900 Pz IVs were the tanks most likely to engage a Sherman/Churchill/Cromwell.
        Did the 1000 odd Stug/SP crew see their chances of survival as any better than an Allied tanker?
        I suspect (like most of the star struck WPE devotees) you are speaking only of the 700 odd Panthers and 150 Tigers who valiantly engaged the 8,000 Allied tanks.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
          No, it's not. You (as MK frequently does) are (with the very greatest of respect) not seeing the wood for the trees. The above was what American doctrine held the tank to be for, that isn't the same as saying that the tank is per se not built primarily to fight other tanks.
          So there is some universal rule for a tanks purpose that is made by.................?
          You are dragging the argument back to the German design parameters for heavy tanks and thus (in my eyes) rigging the race so that your man wins.




          Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
          If the only way to prove that the German tanks were better is to demonstrate that every single Allied soldier that served in the tank arm was killed, then you've got me.
          I don't think it's a particularly smart argument, with respect. I've seen interviews with veterans who were kamikaze pilots, not everyone dies, even in the most dangerous of professions.
          The most dangerous profession in WW2 was as an infantry soldier. By comparison tankers had an easy life.
          Much is implied about 'horrific' Allied tank crew losses but was it so?
          We have some very detailed US figures and I think the numbers will suprise many.
          In WW2 the US Armor branch had a grand total of 1, 581 deaths.
          Yes that is not an error the number is 1,581.
          The Cavalry branch has to be included because it used tanks as well. Even though a lot of the Cavalry deaths were suffered in other vehicles (like 670 knocked out M8 Arm. Cars) we will include them.
          Cavalry deaths = 5,135

          5,135 + 1581 = 6,716 deaths
          The total number of US tanks lost 1944-45 in the NWE was c. 6,300.
          Add in Italy and Africa and you get 7,500 max.
          Please remind me again how the Sherman is a 'death trap'

          Comment


          • Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
            haven't gotten into statistics. All I've done is quote a man who spent three years inside an uber reliable Sherman and always felt at a disadvantage vis a vis enemy armour. This also isn't the recollections of a man dimmed by post war myth or time. If memory serves, this was written in 1945.

            I singularly fail to understand why the great mass of veteran's evidence gets pushed to one side whenever this subject comes up.
            Myopia might explain your confusion.
            When you look at the numbers you were no safer in a Tiger or Panther than you were in a Sherman.
            The breakdown of deaths for sPzAbt 503 whilst in Normandy are roughly the same as those of the average Allied tank Unit.
            Furthermore the tank turnover for Tiger Units was (again) roughly comparable to an Allied tank unit.
            You were just as likely to suffer 100% losses of your start numbers in a Tiger as you were in a Sherman.
            I am sure you would like start the interminable litany of excuses why German uber-tank A and B should be removed from the loss numbers but you can ague with yourself on that one. Like I said the result is what I look at not how or why we got there.


            Whilst is is admitted that in the mythical 'one on one' action on an open plain with 5000 yards of unobstucted vision a Panther or Tiger may have the edge this was not reality in NWE 1944.
            In the fast moving phase that broke the back of the German Army in the West the Sherman reigned supreme. So 'superior' that rather than turn to swat these inferior machines the big boys prefered to flee as far as their fuel would allow them then decamp and run for it!
            Whilst you may cite individual examples of single uber-panzers knocking out 3 or 4 Shermans this was not the norm. Indeed I can give you examples where single Shermans knocked out several German tanks. All that proves is ambush works.
            The overall numbers catagoricaly disprove the 'multiple kills by every uber-panzer' myth.

            The Sherman worked well enough in 1944. Although falling short in some aspects it had enough good points to help speed the Allied victory. Good enough today is better than perfect tomorrow.

            Comment


            • There's a book called 'Tank Tactics' that gives a lot of statistics about West front 1944-1945 engagements. Among them are the fact that most tank to tank actions involved 1 German platoon VS 2 Allied platoons in the West. The Germans, being on the defense, had first strike while the Allies had more armor, and could outmaneuver them in the engagement.

              Most tanks were disabled by flank hits, since the flanks were by far the largest surface area of a tank. Also, engagement ranges in the West tended to be short, and the 'sniper' like advantages of the Panther's L/70 could not be brought to bear in general use.

              Literally, the Panther was not that much better than the Panzer IV in the West in the attack. Whenever the Germans counterattacked with Panthers, they still lost a lot of them. The vehicle was designed for the Eastern front, where tank 'duels' were more common. Those 'Panzer aces' won their scores in the East, not the West. The Panther's strength was in long range defense, and its ability to engage T-34/85s and JS-series effectively.

              The Germans lost more tanks when they had to issue a general retreat rather than in combat action in the West. Also, infantry armed with Bazooka type weapons were more potent on both sides.

              So I don't believe that 'tank duels' were really that important overall in the West although it is true that anti-tank activities for the front lines shifted from large numbers of anti-tank guns to smaller numbers of tank destroyers/SPG/tanks from 1943 onward.

              As for the Panther, it would have been a truly 'superior' tank in the West if it was more economically designed and designed for the theater. A high velocity 75mm gun but with better HE abilities than in reality. Tiger-like thick side armor, but also total weight no more than 45 tons and preferably smaller. Turret rotation speed like the Sherman, with at least equivalent maneuverability/speed. Also, Sherman-like reliability.

              Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
              Absolutely, but this was doctrinal for the Allies in 1940, necessity for the germans in 1944 Normandy when 15 inch guns and cab rank Fighter bombers made manouvring Divisional sized formations somewhat problematical.

              I would also argue that this is also illustrative of the dueling nature of armour in 1944. The Germans have spread platoons and companies out to provide anti armour support to the local infantry wherever Allied attacks materialised. The upshot of this is that Allied armour on the offensive often found enemy AFVs on their axis of advance.

              regards,
              ID
              Last edited by Cult Icon; 05 Dec 12, 09:41.

              Comment


              • Even the modern MBT fails to meet this criteria. An M1 in Iraq could take numerous hits to the front armour from the best guns and AT weapons the Iraqis had but still fell victim to the humble RPG from side or rear.

                The fact remains that tankers, when faced with enemy tanks, did not (and do not) care about the durability of the Sherman tracks or its engine reliability or what a great HE round its has. They wanted armour that turned aside enemy shot and a gun that shot holes in enemy armour. As I mentioned above, Sherman and T-34 were great tanks for the major general and his sweeping operations, not so much for the sergeant or captain facing a platoon of Pz Vs at 30, 300 or 3000 yards trying to execute their ticky-tacs.

                The reason why we have the modern MBT was because the idea of the medium or heavy tank was no longer valid. In their place we effectively have, today, the offspring of the Pz V. Strong frontal armour, wide tracks, reliable drive train, a gun that is first an foremost a tank killer but with armour on the flanks and rear that is less than optimal (to save weight and thus mobility). If the allies had a tank to compete with Pz V in 1944 they most certainly would have deployed it but the west was 15-24 months behind the Germans in the gun and armour race and they made a "virtue out of necessity". Thankfully Sherman could, just, get the job done in 1944-45 when upgraded. That's why its reputation is intact. But don't confuse the "quality of quantity" with "quality" itself.
                The Purist

                Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                  If the allies had a tank to compete with Pz V in 1944 they most certainly would have deployed it but the west was 15-24 months behind the Germans in the gun and armour race and they made a "virtue out of necessity". Thankfully Sherman could, just, get the job done in 1944-45 when upgraded. That's why its reputation is intact. But don't confuse the "quality of quantity" with "quality" itself.
                  Hi, Gerry
                  Wasn't the M4 a "quality" tank in and of itself, however? It was reliable, mounted a gun which perfromed well for most things, was realistically armored, and could be, as a very great bonus, be produced in extremely large numbers. Even if we remove that last qualifier, production, it still compares well, or at least competitively, against most of what it would be up against, and certainly against it's mission in general until the end of hostilities.

                  Comment


                  • Yep,... it was all those things but against a Pz V or Pz VI it was outclassed,... which should come as no surprise. That's why I have always stated it was a 'strategic' weapon system. Pz V and VI were tactical weapons systems. Tactically, against the armour Sherman could, and did, meet in a thousand engagements it suffered from being a 1941 design on a 1944 battlefield. The reasons for this are well known and perfectly valid but none of this chnages the fact that it was outclassed tactically by more than half the German tank fleet (even the Mk IV was a challenge if you could not shoot the hull).

                    The allies did not have a better design so they made the best of the good design they had but that design was not perfect nor was it competitive by the second half of 1944. That's why M26 and Centurion were deployed as quickly as they could be made available. The Russians faced the exact same issues with T-34 except they had the functional IS series as a back up. Their T-44 was not quite ready for prime time and grew into the T-54/55 series.

                    Development moved forward as it could under the conditions of WWII but the modern MBT has more in common with features of Pz V than with M4 or T-34
                    The Purist

                    Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by llkinak View Post
                      Hi, Gerry
                      Wasn't the M4 a "quality" tank in and of itself, however? It was reliable, mounted a gun which perfromed well for most things, was realistically armored, and could be, as a very great bonus, be produced in extremely large numbers. Even if we remove that last qualifier, production, it still compares well, or at least competitively, against most of what it would be up against, and certainly against it's mission in general until the end of hostilities.
                      Pz IV could achieve similar performance and had been around from 1936 and continously upgraded. So the excellence (while not the strategic value) of this tank in my opinion can be questioned. So does the merit go to the Sherman as a great tank, or does it go to the U.S. industry that simply could produce a stop-gap tank in excess numbers?

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by kek View Post
                        So does the merit go to the Sherman as a great tank, or does it go to the U.S. industry that simply could produce a stop-gap tank in excess numbers?
                        I don't think it's accurate to describe the Sherman as a stop gap. And my personal view is that it's a great tank because of the balance of the design and the multitude of roles it was able to fill, mostly pretty well. The only other tanks which come close are the T34 and MK IV.

                        Comment


                        • One problem in determining the effectiveness of tanks is the criteria used.

                          To use the two best tanks in WW2 pre Barbarossa imho as examples, which was better, the 38t or the Matilda?

                          The Matilda has more armour, a better gun, and was reliable enough. It even had a 3 man turret. When the Matildas faced the 38t's at Arras there was no contest. Was the Matilda better?

                          The 38t was not even the best tank in the German arsenal in theory. In 39-40 the Pz III probably was their best all rounder. The latter had better armour, and also a 3 man turret and with a commanders cupola.

                          However, where the 38t scored highly was in usefulness to the task at hand. The Germans needed a quick victory. They needed a tank that had adequate firepower and that could drive for mile upon mile. While inferior to the PzIII in many/most ways, both tanks could defeat the enemy light tanks, and neither was really effective against the enemy 'heavies'. Where the 38t scored over the PzIII was that it was lighter, thus requiring less fuel and bridging equipment. Essentially it was a better tank in the exploitation phase, requiring less assets to keep it operational than the German mediums. It is no surprise Rommel was fond of the Czech machine.

                          Therefore which was better, the Matilda 2 or 38t? The former wins the battle, while the latter wins the campaign.

                          The symmetry between the Panther and Sherman to the A12 and 38t would not go unnoticed here. Except the Panther never won more than a minor skirmish afaik.
                          How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                          Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                          • Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            If memory serves he had been wounded. He goes on to say he presumed he had just been lucky.
                            Too bad we can't know everything he has to say.

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            If the only way to prove that the German tanks were better is to demonstrate that every single Allied soldier that served in the tank arm was killed, then you've got me.
                            Not what I said...but good try.

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            I don't think it's a particularly smart argument, with respect. I've seen interviews with veterans who were kamikaze pilots, not everyone dies, even in the most dangerous of professions.
                            I don't think that analogy is too smart either. Kamikaze pilots by definition are supposed to die so if you have seen such an interview one can only conclude the pilot did not carry out his mission. That's no comparison to the numbers of tankers wounded or killed carrying out their mission.

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            But a tank is a combination of firepower, mobility and protection. He's saying that the German tanks (MK V in this instance) were better at firepower and protection. You can find a number of american tankers in white who rated the German vehicles more manouvrable with better, wider tracks and top speeds on the Panther that compared to the Sherman.

                            If thicker armour, more manouvrability and a bigger gun doesn't make for a better tank, then what does?
                            An outstanding military scholar recently labored over and designed a very good way to determine just that. Perhaps you read or took part in Panther's3485 tank rating or saw it's conclusion? The above is, in my opinion, useful in only a very limited sense and leans more to the tank v tank duel scenario, which is a small portion of what a tank is called upon to do in war.

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            I haven't gotten into statistics. All I've done is quote a man who spent three years inside an uber reliable Sherman and always felt at a disadvantage vis a vis enemy armour. This also isn't the recollections of a man dimmed by post war myth or time. If memory serves, this was written in 1945.
                            Did he say always?

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            I singularly fail to understand why the great mass of veteran's evidence gets pushed to one side whenever this subject comes up.
                            I think it is easy to figure out if you try. You sound like you know a fair amount about history and we record it, you probably know that their are many different ways to collect data. It always seems as if you are offering evidence like the method of gaining the information is completely unknown. You know that leading questions can obtain data that is skewed. I've read memoirs of men that fought in Shermans and they never mentioned great fear of German cats or feeling tremendously vulnerable. What are the circumstances of the interviews that you read?

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            But tank warfare just requires a tank, it doesn't require a good one. He has been asked who has the better vehicles and made a fairly resounding choice.
                            As stated above I'd like to know how he was asked.

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            Again, the list of veterans who can be found saying the same things as him is literally endless. The situation in NW Europe was bad enough that Ike was driven to ask for eye witness evidence to get to the bottom of it. Montgomery suppressed (understandably) unfavourable reports about the tank gap and the vast majority of veterans finished the war with broadly the same opinion.

                            Endless? Really? Can I have it? Ike covering his butt and Monty suppressing demoralizing chatter prove very little.
                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            No, he was asked how he rated the Sherman against enemy armour, so he gave one example that he felt was illustrative of his opinion. He wasn't writing his memoir. Dozens of other veterans can fill in the gaps.
                            Wish we could read the entire interview.

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            I'm sorry, but this is just evasion. At the top of his evidence he states
                            Apologies...fatigue on my part. I missed it.

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            This is the only argument about the Sherman that ever gets employed. "We had more of them".
                            Not by me. If you think that please point out where that is all I have said. The Sherman has many good qualities and in combination this tank rates superbly to others on the field in WWII. Your attempts to force this into a Sherman v Panther duel or Sherman v Tiger duel discussion will fail. In my opinion the M4 was better than these tanks despite its weaknesses in gun and armor compared to them. Your reluctance or inability to evaluate a tank by any other means besides gun/armor/mobility will have to remain your problem.

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            Fine, but this is not an argument in praise of the sherman, but an argument in praise of Allied industrial effort, and a recognition of the overwhelming coalition that took the field against the Germans, surely you see that?
                            No, I'm praising both the Sherman and the industrial effort, if you want to discuss this as well. Throw in the wasted efforts of the German war machine and I can shoot that down while I'm at it. I am praising the Sherman, do not confuse yourself on that.

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            This also masks the unpalatable fact that fielding lots of them is another way of saying that any number of young men took to the field and were killed because their kit was inferior.
                            For all of those that make statements like this I have yet to read anything that corroborates it and see anyone that shows me numbers backing up the notion that M4 crews were killed in numbers greater than any other tank crews fighting under similar circumstances.

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            I don't know the action, but would note that they ambushed the German armour. Fine, but how does that help if the Germans shoot first, or spot you from distance, or appear suddenly 3000 yards away and manouvre for a fight from line of march? Another poster has pointed out the importance of training etc. I assume this fight is late 44, early 45 since I think Rocherath is in Belgium. As the ill fated Panther Brigades showed, German quality was poor at this juncture.
                            You are pointing out that tactics win the fight...not superior technology. Where have I heard that?

                            So where do we find these Panthers and trained crews that were worth comparison? Nineteen-forty three? How many made it to the battlefield...oh, wait, that's right, reliable engines are not important.

                            Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                            You're making a virtue out of industrial capacity. Quantity does indeed have a quality all of its own, but don't let it mask inferior quality.
                            I'll make my own arguments, thank you. If you can make an understandable argument on the inferiority of the M4 I'd like to see it. I doubt you can from what you have offered in this thread.
                            John

                            Play La Marseillaise. Play it!

                            Comment


                            • According to Zaolga, US Shermans had a 3:2 "kill ratio" (favoring US) over attacking enemy Panther tanks during the Ardennes offensive. The crew training of the german tanks were poor while the crews of the US tanks were seasoned.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                                Development moved forward as it could under the conditions of WWII but the modern MBT has more in common with features of Pz V than with M4 or T-34
                                Another way to say this (and the way I would personally prefer) is that of all the medium tanks seeing service in useful numbers during WW2, the Panther - in design terms, basic characteristics and balance of attributes - most closely approached the ideals of the MBT.

                                Either way though, I agree with the statement.
                                "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
                                Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

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