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  • U.S. and British intel on German tanks?

    Was everything "shared" between these two nations? And, as a second part, what did they share and recieve from their Eastern Front Ally, Russia?

    Cheers, any ideas out there?

    TRDG

    Tom

  • #2
    Originally posted by TRDG View Post
    Was everything "shared" between these two nations? And, as a second part, what did they share and recieve from their Eastern Front Ally, Russia?

    Cheers, any ideas out there?

    TRDG

    Tom
    How well they shared depended on the venue. In Africa Eisenhower staff was a combined group of British & Yanks. I think all his intel chiefs in the Mediterrainian campaign werre British. The proportion of the brits to Yanks in the various subdepartments varied.

    Through 1942 there were a lot of problems due to differing doctrines, procedures, and standards. The Brits were very concerned about security in the US Army & with good reason. First their own security had ben lacking at the start of the war & they were still celaning their own house in 1942. They did not feel comfortable seeing the US making the same mistakes. Examples like the Italians stealing the US Armys Black code out of the US embassy did not help much. Admiral Kings hostillity towards the British led to a degree of noncooperation in certain naval matters early on. After some prodding from the White House USN leaders saw the light.

    As far as routine collection from the battlefield it was fairly good. The trouble started at the mid & senior levels of analysis. Some things did not get passed across or were misinterpreted due to different ideas on what was important.

    One problem was was the British focus on Ultra material. That is the use of decrypted Axis radio messages. Some over relied on that source & neglected analysis of other sources like air and ground recon. Eisenhower fired his intel chief shortly after the battle associated with the Kasserine pass in 1943, for just that reason.


    Its one of those things one has to evaluate on a case by case basis to get a decent picture.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks Carl

      It just seems like something is "missing" on this. The British had many tank designs, were any of these the result of the intel about the German tanks that they knew about? Then along came the U.S., what did we think of the British tank designs through the African campaign, compared to the Germans and what they had......

      Cheers

      Comment


      • #4
        A better question would be what did the British think about British tanks? The Matilda II was a nice bit of kit, but everything else was lackluster till the Churchill, Cromwell and Comet designs came online. That is why they took as much American armour as they could get.
        Eagles may fly; but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines!

        "I'm not expendable; I'm not stupid and I'm not going." - Kerr Avon, Blake's 7

        What didn't kill us; didn't make us smarter.

        Comment


        • #5
          Roger that

          That is kind of what I am thinking, the British developed the first tank in WW I, but they just could'nt seem to develope it as much in WW II until later, even with all the experience of them not really working with what they designed in the early part of the war. Even their own tankers thought something could have been done better. The Sherman came along and they jumped at the chance to field them.

          Now, I just bet British tactics also played a role in how effective, or ineffective the early tanks were, how different were they, in tactics, to the U.S., who had the most to catch up on in tactical developement, not in the war until Pearl Harbor........

          Cheers, thanks Richard.

          Tom

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, the biggest flaw in British tatical thinking, and adopted by the US till the adoption of the US Armored Force, was to divide the tanks into two seperate classes the Cruiser (scouting, attacking, anti-tank) and the Infantry tank which was used for Infantry support. IIRC, the Churchill was the last 'Infantry' tank but the Cromwell and Comet were designed from the ground up as 'universal tanks'. Now the ultimate universal tank (WWII era) just barely missed WWII but is still in service today (South Africa) in the Centurion.

            If I am mistaken my British friends will surely tell me.
            Eagles may fly; but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines!

            "I'm not expendable; I'm not stupid and I'm not going." - Kerr Avon, Blake's 7

            What didn't kill us; didn't make us smarter.

            Comment


            • #7
              Yes, that "mix" of

              different tanks to/for different things to accomplish, they did vary widely it seems!! That "universal" theme, that is what I am looking for, I just could'nt place that word, at the time. How many "types" of tanks did the British come up with, compared to say the U.S., Russia and Germany through out the war?

              Cheers, maybe if we ever get a poll option, I might be able to do a thread with this kind of theme, like off the top of my head, I could say 6-10 for a nation, then try to find out and count up all the ones they really had, as well as others who would "guess" the first time, then lay the facts out, it might be interesting.......

              Tom

              Comment


              • #8
                What is the deal with

                British contact with the Tiger, compared to the Americans in Africa, were they of the same mind on what they thought of it, and what conclusions were drawn from each side. Also, did they then contact Russia and get their "take" on this, especially after Kursk?

                Cheers, thanks in advance again!!

                Tom

                Comment


                • #9
                  Panther as a "mainstay" in the german army intel by Normandy?

                  Was there any intel of this at all, or was it really a "surprise" for the Allies on D-Day and on with this?

                  Cheers, bummer, I did'nt make my 300 posts per month as i wanted to, must be the holidays.......

                  Tom

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TRDG View Post
                    Was there any intel of this at all, or was it really a "surprise" for the Allies on D-Day and on with this?

                    Cheers, bummer, I did'nt make my 300 posts per month as i wanted to, must be the holidays.......

                    Tom
                    My general take is the US armored units did not expect so many German 'heavy tanks' in Normandy. But then they did not expect the bocauge, or the endless number of AT weapons the Wehrmacht infantry possesed. Neither did they expect the Germans to dig in their heels and fight to destruction in Normandy. That made no stratigic sense in the US view (however it appeared to the Germans or to folks with hindsight).

                    So there were a lot of suprises in Normandy. But war is a endless series of suprises. The Germans had a few of their own. Most had their experince on the Eastern Front and were suprised by the Brit & US artillery. It was belived by the German front line soldiers and artillerymen that the US had a automatic loading howitzer. The soldiers in the field and most of their commanders were not expecting the intensity of the Brit & US air support. In the east the Soviet airforces had become dangerous, but few Germans had seen anything on the scale of the air attacks in Normandy. In this they Germans shared a error with the US Army, they had the indicators from the Mediterrainian Campaigns, but did not draw the correct conclusions. Well, most did not. Rommel tried to warn Rundsteadts staff, and his subordinate commanders about the implications Allied air superiority, but it seems he did not get through to many.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Carl

                      But was it a "real surprise" to the higher Allied commanders?

                      That would be my question, the troops on the ground had no real idea, but the highest commanders..... that might be somewhat different, is there any real, hard evidence out there, somewhere?

                      Cheers, I really hope others are as interested as I am on this.

                      Tom

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Is there?

                        Any interest on this from anyone?

                        Cheers, just asking here.....

                        TRDG

                        Tom

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Its not clear to me how suprised the senior commanders were with the German heavy tanks. Keep in mind that when the saw reports on tank loses they were seeing that the majority were lost to AT guns, Panzerfausts ect... tank destroyer type AFV, and older tank models. So initally they were seeing what was expected. It took a while for the point of view of the battalion level combatants to sink in at the upper levels.

                          The armor leaders were more suprised by the unexpectedly high losses of M4 tanks overall in Normandy. They were expecting loss rates closer to the previous in Sicilly, Italy, or later in 1944/45.

                          Something I suspect, but perhaps a tank expert could confirm, is that most of the US tank losses in Normandy were from the independant tank battalions, and not in any of the armored divsions. This suggests to me part of the problem was insuffcient training in combined arms tactics at the lowest levels. The Allied units in Normandy were mostly green, and the experince of the veterans was drawn from Tunisia and Sicily and hence not very deep. In other words a significant part of the tank losses in Normandy were due to inexpreince and poor tactics, not the relative merits of German or US hardware.
                          Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 08 Dec 07, 08:00.

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                          • #14
                            This is an interesting subject to many people due to the lack of investigation that went on during the war. As with the opposing points of view in America which eventually saw the Sherman stay as the universal American tank ( don't know if this was one upmanship, politics, or doctrinal differences between the Armoured cavalry exponents and other army departments or not ), other allied services suffered from their own job descriptions. The British tank designs were handled by one department and the guns to go in them were designed in another. This was how the 17lber came into being with no high explosive capability. More communication between departments ( or should that be cooperation ) would have been beneficial to the men on the ground.

                            Some reporting and testing of enemy vehicles was at best atrocious. As an example - the 6lber gun was designed to be the main anti-tank weapon of the British army for X number of years. This was at a time when they must have known about the heavier German tanks from the Russians ( there were American and British observers in Russia ) and someone had also taken the time to analyse a Mark IV panzer. Oh dear, it has face hardened armour.

                            Compare this to the thorough examinations carried out by the US and British navies on captured equipment and it looks a bit disjointed.

                            Perhaps the Western allies expected more of the German heavy armour to be in Russia and were surprised from D-Day on but the fact is that the British and American tanks were inferior and suffered adly at the hands of the German armour. Most models were inadequate against the superior equipment of the Wermacht and the superior tactics as well.

                            Credit must go however to the American and British designers of the later models, even though the Centurion and Pershing were latecomers they both showed that had the war gone further the German equipment would have been matched, and in a resonably short time frame too.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              As far as tank develpment is concerned, The Churchhil and Comet show that the British saw the writting on the wall.
                              THey had seen German gun caliburs increase in the following way;
                              1940- 20mm and 37mm tank guns.
                              1941- 75mm short-barrel howitzers and 50mm guns.
                              1942- long barrel 50mm and a few 75mm long.
                              1943- Tiger tanks with the older 88, and reports from Russia of the new Panther, which they could expect to meet in 1944 in Italy and France.

                              Now, the Sherman was a very nice tank in 1942, and still useful in 1943. The Army procurment board did not see what was coming and was very slow in getting a tank with a 90mm gun into action. For some reason, they seemed to think that Geman tank development would remain static, as was the case with Japan.

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