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  • Originally posted by panther3485 View Post
    Yep, and this is frequently overlooked in these discussions. Fighting enemy tanks was but a small portion of the overall workload for a tank.

    In many punter's minds I believe, there's something romantic and exciting about the notion of the tank vs tank thing. And I am speaking here of enthusiasts for the subject who have not themselves actually had to fight in a tank. I suspect anyone who has actually had to do it would have a very different view indeed. (My own Army service was mostly in an infantry-style role in peacetime and, to be perfectly honest, I'll admit to having been affected by this idea of 'romanticism' around the tank myself in the past. It probably influenced my modelling hobby too. )

    Yeah, tank-on-tank certainly happened and when it did, it was obviously better to have any kind of advantage you could over the other side; any way you could get it. But it's too easy to get carried away with all the tank v tank stuff and forget the other 85 (or thereabouts) percent of what a tank had to do. And IMO, it's in that rather neglected area that the M4 and some other less 'glamorous' designs shone brightly; and carried very well the lion's share of the workload.
    A fair point, but Normandy figures suggested half of all Shermans had "hit by enemy AFV" as the cause of death.

    This is the crux of it. If Sherman only spent 15% of the time dueling, but was knocked out 50% of the time whilst dueling, surely we can discern an issue for it here vis a vis enemy tanks?

    Regards,
    ID

    Comment


    • Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
      I'm suggesting that a hardcore of veterans doesn't make up for the fact what you're working with is what is left after several million war dead. Large parts of LSSAH were (if memory serves) aircraft ground personnel who no longer had planes to serve.
      As usual you are only on passing acquaintance with any actual facts.

      The hardcore of veterans were predominantly among the officers and especially the senior NCOs. Which gives those formations an estimable advantage when facing formations wholly comprised of inexperienced troops, because they can provide experienced leadership.

      As should be quite obvious? Hence the remark about you adding your usual spin.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Gooner View Post
        As usual you are only on passing acquaintance with any actual facts.
        For instance the 'fact' 50% of Shermans were knocked out by enemy AFVs.
        It should be 'knocked out by gunfire'.

        Of course then you have to explain why 43% of German tanks also suffered the same (type of) fate.

        Thus:

        If a German tank only spent 15% of the time dueling, but was knocked out 43% of the time whilst dueling, surely we can discern an issue for it here vis a vis enemy tanks?
        Last edited by m kenny; 11 Dec 12, 05:59.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
          " ... If Sherman only spent 15% of the time dueling, but was knocked out 50% of the time whilst dueling, ... "
          Why does all of that 50 percent have to have happened whilst "dueling"? Why could not some of it have happened while doing other things?


          Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
          " ... surely we can discern an issue for it here vis a vis enemy tanks? "
          We already know it was at a gun/armour disadvantage against the heavier German tanks; so no need to discern yet again, a disparity we are already familiar with.

          This disparity would, on certain occasions I'm guessing, be full-on pants-filling stuff for Sherman crews.
          OK, we take that on the chin. We could have had fewer losses if our tanks had better gun and armour.
          Crapola for the Sherman crews who had to face a Tiger, Panther or heavy German TD but (if they could locate it and get off a shot) were unable to KO it before they were KO'd? Regrettable that they didn't have kit that was closer to parity with the heavier German tanks? I would say so, yes.

          My question would be, when we look at the bigger picture, how much difference did it make overall? More US tanks lost than would otherwise have been the case if they were all Pershings instead of Shermans? Or, at the very least, if a much larger percentage of the Shermans had been 76mm and Firefly from 6/6/44?
          But again and other than those fewer tank losses (at a percentage I can only vaguely guess), how much difference overall, to the progress of the Allied campaign in NW Europe?
          I would say probably, very little. For IMO, the progress of the campaign depended on a whole range and combination of things, of which this 'disparity' in gun/armour we have been discussing was but a very tiny part.
          Last edited by panther3485; 11 Dec 12, 06:22.
          "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.

          Comment


          • Are there any highly detailed, published histories of Panther battalions? Personally, I have never encountered one.

            But my material on the Panther tank largely discloses that the Panther D (and thus the Panther force) in 1943 suffered from extreme mechanical unreliability and was overall a flop. Good performance, when it was operational, wasn't enough to save it, and its overall performance in 43' was inferior to the Panzer IV. Many Panther Ds were simply abandoned as the German armies fell back in 43' and 44'.

            Its reliability compared to that of the JagTiger, the latter of which was a failed heavy weapon.

            Panther Model A, introduced when the year came to a close, featured superficial improvements, lower cost, and more production line ease but it still suffered from extreme mechanical unreliability that was worse than the Tiger I.

            Panther Model G, the Panther of 1944-1945 had improved reliability, but it was still significantly less reliable than the Panzer IV. However, Panther Gs were usually only 70-40% operational at any given time, and worse during heavy fighting. This version played a major role in 1944-1945 defensive battles.

            I should dig it up, but in 'German view' there is a disclosure that even the Panzer IV battalions were never as operational the Sherman units, and there was always a differential.
            Last edited by Cult Icon; 11 Dec 12, 10:44.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by m kenny View Post
              For instance the 'fact' 50% of Shermans were knocked out by enemy AFVs.
              It should be 'knocked out by gunfire'.
              Incorrect. AORG and 1st US Army studies found approx 66% of Allied tanks were lost to direct gunfire in Normandy.

              We can't discern between towed and AFV victims, but (as Buckley notes) since German claims and numbers were roughly three AFVS to one towed piece, then around 50% lost to AFVs is the best figure we are likely to get.

              I'd suggest fewer photos and more reading, but you wouldn't take any notice so I won't waste my breath. If, however, you decide you want to get a grip of this factually, say so and I'll send you the references.

              Of course then you have to explain why 43% of German tanks also suffered the same (type of) fate.
              Because they were shot by Allied tanks? Where does 43% come from.

              Allied research estimated it was actually 48% of German tanks that were (rather ironically given your earlier nonsense) killed by direct gunfire in the period before the retreat in Normandy. After that, the numbers fell to 11% for the final month of the Normandy campaign, or well under half the number that were simply abandoned.

              Thus:

              If a German tank only spent 15% of the time dueling, but was knocked out 43% of the time whilst dueling, surely we can discern an issue for it here vis a vis enemy tanks?
              Several basic problems here.

              Firstly, your 43% is implied to be a gunfire figure. I'm not aware of any study which was able (for example) to discern between towed, SP and Tank 17pdr gunfire, so how you can discern that 43% of German tanks were hit dueling with enemy tanks is something only you can know.

              Secondly, your analysis seems rather rudimentary. For example, if I have 2, and I am fighting 10, and get 6 of them before they get my 2, both sides have suffered 100% casualties in the encounter, have they not? It would be true that in such activity 100% of mine were destroyed and I might, therefore (under this rather elementary construct of yours) be considered to have a problem vis a vis the enemy.

              However, this is (would even you agree) not quite the whole story of the encounter statistically?

              I expect 99% of British casualties at Islandwana were caused by edged weapons, but the idea the British Army was at a disadvantage per se vis a vis edged weapons was surely disproven at Rorke's drift shortly thereafter?

              You won't get to grips with this (with the greatest of respect) until you take the time to understand the significance of what a statistic is saying. Its context is often as important as the statistic itself.

              Sometimes, statistics are difficult to use because of their very nature. At this point, we tend to call for the eye witness evidence. What does it say about this issue? What do British and American tank drivers have to say on the issue of tank quality?

              Could you enlighten us?

              Regards,
              ID

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                Are there any highly detailed, published histories of Panther battalions? Personally, I have never encountered one.

                But my material on the Panther tank largely discloses that the Panther D (and thus the Panther force) in 1943 suffered from extreme mechanical unreliability and was overall a flop. Good performance, when it was operational, wasn't enough to save it, and its overall performance in 43' was inferior to the Panzer IV. Many Panther Ds were simply abandoned as the German armies fell back in 43' and 44'.

                Its reliability compared to that of the JagTiger, the latter of which was a failed heavy weapon.

                Panther Model A, introduced when the year came to a close, featured superficial improvements, lower cost, and more production line ease but it still suffered from extreme mechanical unreliability that was worse than the Tiger I.

                Panther Model G, the Panther of 1944-1945 had improved reliability, but it was still significantly less reliable than the Panzer IV. However, Panther Gs were usually only 70-40% operational at any given time, and worse during heavy fighting. This version played a major role in 1944-1945 defensive battles.

                I should dig it up, but in 'German view' there is a disclosure that even the Panzer IV battalions were never as operational the Sherman units, and there was always a differential.
                Probably not, but one mitigating factor I've seen raised in several contexts is a possible lack of spare parts. Everything can break down or be damaged, so operational readiness is in part a question of how efficiently you can get the weapons repaired and back in the fight.

                At least one source (whose name escapes me at the mo) did question the spare part problems, though, so I wouldn't push this any further than the above without further digging.

                Regards,
                ID

                Comment


                • Originally posted by panther3485 View Post
                  Why does all of that 50 percent have to have happened whilst "dueling"? Why could not some of it have happened while doing other things?
                  They've been hit by an enemy tank, what is your definition of dueling? I suspect few Allied tanks actually set out hoping or planning to duel, but as Cult Icon (i seem to recall) noted earlier in the thread, the Germans were parcelling out their AFVs along the front in Normandy, so even in the infantry support role, your might well have expected to find a few snipers along your axis of advance.

                  We already know it was at a gun/armour disadvantage against the heavier German tanks; so no need to discern yet again, a disparity we are already familiar with.
                  Are we all familiar with it?

                  This disparity would, on certain occasions I'm guessing, be full-on pants-filling stuff for Sherman crews.
                  I don't doubt, particularly given the Normandy conditions (notwithstanding the fact some would have us believe such conditions negated all German advantages). The Veteran's evidence (if you can hear me above the booing and hissing that has broken out) would support your contention.

                  OK, we take that on the chin. We could have had fewer losses if our tanks had better gun and armour.
                  Crapola for the Sherman crews who had to face a Tiger, Panther or heavy German TD but (if they could locate it and get off a shot) were unable to KO it before they were KO'd? Regrettable that they didn't have kit that was closer to parity with the heavier German tanks? I would say so, yes.
                  I believe there isn't so much as a hair between us.

                  My question would be, when we look at the bigger picture, how much difference did it make overall? More US tanks lost than would otherwise have been the case if they were all Pershings instead of Shermans? Or, at the very least, if a much larger percentage of the Shermans had been 76mm and Firefly from 6/6/44?
                  But again and other than those fewer tank losses (at a percentage I can only vaguely guess), how much difference overall, to the progress of the Allied campaign in NW Europe?
                  Impossible to tell, but then I only claim the sherman was an obselete weapons system by the standards of a third of the german tank park and most of the soviet one by 1944.

                  Given the Allied ability to saturate an area with high explosives, you could make a (mildly) facetious argument that the Allies could have filled the Armored Divisions out with armoured cars and got the job done.

                  I would say probably, very little. For IMO, the progress of the campaign depended on a whole range and combination of things, of which this 'disparity' in gun/armour we have been discussing was but a very tiny part.
                  No argument. Allied tanks were inferior, but the Allies had enough other advantages to compensate. Much the same could be said of the Germans in the period 1940-42. Happy to allow that to be the final word, but lets not cloud the issue by trying to make this necessity a virtue (which you aren't, but some seem to be).

                  Regards,
                  ID

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Gooner View Post
                    As usual you are only on passing acquaintance with any actual facts.
                    Oh, the irony.

                    The hardcore of veterans were predominantly among the officers and especially the senior NCOs. Which gives those formations an estimable advantage when facing formations wholly comprised of inexperienced troops, because they can provide experienced leadership.
                    Are you suggesting there were no veterans or experienced soldiers within the ranks of the greener British formations?

                    Besides, loss rates were generally high amongst NCOs and Officers in the Heer. This gave them a start, but it was more likely German Officer policy that gave them any continuing advantage.

                    I'd also ask what advantage such men give you when 1000 heavy bombers are unloading upon your position, or the 700 guns of epsom have begun their barrage?

                    The German tank formations in 1944 were not the same as 1940. At Mortain, many bailed out under air attack to hide in ditches by the side of the road. Experienced men would have understood you were safer inside than out.

                    Besides, the majority of men faced were from more static or less exotic formations. How many veterans do you estimate the Luftwaffe field Divisions had?

                    Hence the remark about you adding your usual spin.
                    We are cut from the same cloth, I am Alistair Campbell to your Andy Coulson. Mkenny can be Rebekah Brooks.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                      ....... but then I only claim the sherman was an obselete weapons system by the standards of a third of the german tank park and most of the soviet one by 1944.
                      A huge proportion of the Soviet tank force was actually Shermans, and the T-34 and M4 are roughly comparable.

                      Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                      Allied tanks were inferior, but the Allies had enough other advantages to compensate.
                      However, trying to stay away from naming tanks, you will have to state what is meant by inferior. For example, you can look at the NWE campaign.

                      I'd give the Cats an edge in the Normandy fighting. Then I'd give it to the the W Ally mediums in the exploitation phase. Once the weather turns for the worse, I'd give the Heer tanks the edge once more, but come spring 45, the W Ally tanks are more appropriate. That means two periods when the German Cats were superior, and two when the allied mediums were. Western tanks were more mobile, and when they could use this mobility, they had the edge. Otherwise it went to the Heer.

                      Tanks need to be seen in context of the role they are required for. Panthers always had a problem with their final drives which prevented them being used effectively in the AD role of breakthrough and exploitation. They are useful when the enemy has to play to their strengths, which usually means a roadbound attack. Effectively, a Panther is overly specialised as a defensive tank killer, which admittedly it was very good at. It was not good as a general purpose medium, and certainly not a tank that would have been of use to the US during Cobra for example. In that latter role, the Panther would definitely be inferior.
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                      • General Baylerlein, commander of Panzer Lehr in Normandy:

                        "While the PzKpfw IV could still be used to advantage, the PzKpfw V [Panther] proved ill adapted to the terrain. The Sherman because of its maneuverability and height was good ... [the Panther was] poorly suited for hedgerow terrain because of its width. Long gun barrel and width of tank reduce maneuverability in village and forest fighting. It is very front-heavy and therefore quickly wears out the front final drives, made of low-grade steel. High silhouette. Very sensitive power-train requiring well-trained drivers. Weak side armor; tank top vulnerable to fighter-bombers. Fuel lines of porous material that allow gasoline fumes to escape into the tank interior causing a grave fire hazard. Absence of vision slits makes defense against close attack impossible."

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                          I don't doubt it, although Yeide's remarks could have been made about any combat formation anywhere.

                          However, large parts of the German formations were similiarly inexperienced. HJ was full of 17/18 year olds, LSSAH had been rebuilt, in part with surplus Luftwaffe personnel etc. German formations were generally run into the ground then the survivors withdrawn to rebuild.

                          These were not the people who had started out in 1940.
                          Regards,
                          ID
                          While they were not the people that had started out in '40 they hopefully had the experiences in armor+infantry+artillery work as they had been employing these since '39. Yeide points out that much of the difficulty the US armor battalions would see came from inexperience in the infantry/armor cooperation. When the battalions were working primarily with the same division and had a chance to train they had much better results.
                          John

                          Play La Marseillaise. Play it!

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                          • Originally posted by panther3485 View Post
                            Why does all of that 50 percent have to have happened whilst "dueling"? Why could not some of it have happened while doing other things?
                            I would give him some leeway. Constrained (as he is) to a single source it is inevitable he gets it wrong.





                            My numbers come from ORO-T-117
                            A survey of 7,545 US/UK & Canadian Western European tank casualties 1944-45.

                            Of the 7,545 the causation was known for 6098 of the casualties (80%)

                            Of the 6098 it is known 3011 (50%)were victims of gunfire.


                            The 7,545 tanks were the product of 6 surveys 1944 and 1945 .UK 2,260, US 4,470 & Canadian 815.
                            In each sub-survey the % of gunfire' losses ranges from 33% to 55%

                            It is up to anyone to start waving individual surveys of much smaller samples that give higher (and much more acceptable to them ) gunfire losses but I reckon a comprehensive 11 month survey trumps everything else.
                            Last edited by m kenny; 11 Dec 12, 18:45.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                              A huge proportion of the Soviet tank force was actually Shermans, and the T-34 and M4 are roughly comparable.
                              I would rate T34/85 as superior to Sherman. Remember, we're talking 1944 here.

                              I think there were around 4000 lend lease Shermans in 44/45 and the Soviets produced around 30000 tanks in that period off their own back, so I'd question the adjective "huge" here as well.

                              However, trying to stay away from naming tanks, you will have to state what is meant by inferior. For example, you can look at the NWE campaign.

                              I'd give the Cats an edge in the Normandy fighting.
                              3 months?

                              Then I'd give it to the the W Ally mediums in the exploitation phase.
                              About a week or 10 days?

                              Once the weather turns for the worse, I'd give the Heer tanks the edge once more,
                              Well, you have a gap in September/October here. Shall we say November to February for the bad weather? 3 more months.

                              but come spring 45, the W Ally tanks are more appropriate.

                              Two months. Although I'd argue any western Allied armour is more appropriate here because the Germans don't have much left.

                              That means two periods when the German Cats were superior, and two when the allied mediums were.
                              Panther seems to win all bar 10 days in the first 10 months, although we haven't called September/October yet.

                              Western tanks were more mobile, and when they could use this mobility, they had the edge. Otherwise it went to the Heer.
                              Which is the period of the breakout and the period of the collapse.

                              It isn't much really is it, Nick?

                              I'd also argue that such was the state of German resistance following Normandy, and such was the (lack of) success of Allied large scale encirclements during the pursuit, you didn't need the Sherman, a pair of walking boots and a wheelbarrow would have done the trick.

                              Tanks need to be seen in context of the role they are required for. Panthers always had a problem with their final drives which prevented them being used effectively in the AD role of breakthrough and exploitation.
                              Were Panthers ever used for this much?

                              They are useful when the enemy has to play to their strengths, which usually means a roadbound attack. Effectively, a Panther is overly specialised as a defensive tank killer, which admittedly it was very good at. It was not good as a general purpose medium, and certainly not a tank that would have been of use to the US during Cobra for example. In that latter role, the Panther would definitely be inferior.
                              No argument, but if the Sherman only gets the nod for a week or two when enemy resistance is broken, it seems pretty revealing to me...

                              Regards,
                              ID

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by JBark View Post
                                While they were not the people that had started out in '40 they hopefully had the experiences in armor+infantry+artillery work as they had been employing these since '39.
                                Hopefully?

                                I think the central problem the Germans had regarding veterans was units tended to be run into the ground before being sent for rebuilding.

                                In other words, there were relatively few vets by the time the germans were able to release a unit for rest.

                                Yeide points out that much of the difficulty the US armor battalions would see came from inexperience in the infantry/armor cooperation. When the battalions were working primarily with the same division and had a chance to train they had much better results.
                                I don't doubt it, similiar analysis draws the same conclusion for British armour.

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