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  • LVTs at Omaha beach

    Would've there been less casualties if the Marines' Landing Vehicle Tracked were used at Omaha beach instead of the Higgins boat? The LVTs could just drive directly onto the beach and inland, which would've prevented the soldiers from crossing an open beach with barely any cover. And the ramp of the LVT was behind it, so that would've prevented the soldiers to run directly into MG fire, as so clearly shown in Saving Private Ryan. Plus there was the LVT-4 which came with a 75mm howitzer that can provide some direct fire for the infantry. All-in-all I think that many lives could've been saved had LVTs been used.

  • #2
    LVTs weren't in the supply needed to do the Normandy Landings. Typically they were only used for a regiment or two of Marine landings as well, the rest coming in on LCVPs. There was also a bit of institutional friction about turning Marines loose in the ETO....I won't get into the wild accusations on both sides but there was some sort of agreement at the high command level. Considering that the Navy had plenty of Coxswains, while the Marines were the ones with LVT drivers, you would have either had to deplete the PTOs LVT battalions of men and gear, or put a lot of expense into training battalions of LVT drivers for the Army.

    All of the logistical and institutional issues aside, yes, LVTs would have been a benefit to troops on the beach at Normandy. The support models not so much, but the troop carrier models and even the radios onboard would have been a massive benefit. Too thin-skinned to go far in the bocage though. Would have only been good for the beaches and the flooded fields.
    Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Ubermensche View Post
      And the ramp of the LVT was behind it, so that would've prevented the soldiers to run directly into MG fire, as so clearly shown in Saving Private Ryan.

      I can be corrected...but it's my understanding that the rear-ramp of the LVT was only made available later in the war. In June 1944 I believe the men would still have been leaping from over the sides.
      You'll live, only the best get killed.

      -General Charles de Gaulle

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      • #4
        I think the LVT's were mostly sent to the Pacific as there were reefs to be crossed there. I do believe the Canadians used some of these as transport across rivers into Holland.

        There was also an LVT with the turret of a M-3 Light Tank. What you refer to is the open topped turret for an M-8 75mm Howitzer Motor Carriage.

        Pruitt
        Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

        Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

        by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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        • #5
          ^Yep, that's what I'm talking about.

          Anyhow my question here isn't "why weren't the LVTs used in Normandy" as much as it is "whether less people would've died if they were used". My belief is yes.

          But on the other hand the open-top would've made it easier for the Germans, who were perched on a cliff, to just spray the passengers with MG fire as the LVT got closer to them. Since it's relatively crammed inside, people would have a hard time getting out. It'd be like shooting fishes in a barrel. With an MG42.

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          • #6
            While I think LVTs may well have reduced the number of allied troops killed on the beaches, even tanks were knocked out on the beaches.

            I would have orered the bomber crews and Navy gunners to chance closer attacks.
            "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
            George Mason
            Co-author of the Second Amendment
            during Virginia’s Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788

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            • #7
              In his book on D-Day, Stephen Ambrose mentioned that Omaha Beach was particularly ill-suited for armor because of a layer of shale-like stone that was exposed at low tide which was very slippery, making tracked vehicles work very hard to cross it. When their speed was reduced to almost zero, they became even easier targets for German anti-tank guns.

              One other factor that might have rendered LVTs less effective than one might think was that the defenders held the heights. If I'm thinking about the correct type of vehicle, LVTs are open on the top. German gunners were able to fire over the ramp and gunwales of the landing craft that were actually used, and I don't think that would have substantially changed had LVTs been available.

              I do readily concede that the firepower of the LVTs equipped with the light tank turret and the improved radios would have been of huge benefit...assuming that they made the beach through the German's fire.

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              • #8
                There were a smal number of LVT's at the Normandy landings, but these were the early unarmoured version and therefore unsuitable for combat, being used for supply duties.

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                • #9
                  Am I correct in viewing LVT's as basically the water version of an APC? If so, I doubt they would have reduced casualties all that much. Since there were AT guns present at Omaha, the troops either would have had to dismount very quickly or risk losing the entire compliment when the vehicle was hit, same as APCs on land. Getting out and dispersing in the face of a defence which could not be overrun would have been doctrine then as now, I believe, so they would have faced a similar situation on the beach anyway. Omaha was a bastard for the time, one way or the other.

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                  • #10
                    The 1st LVT's were not armored and later model's had 6-12 mm. Most heavy mg's would have had little problems with it. PAk would have 0 problems.

                    At the museum at Utah Beach there is a LTV. At least in 89 there was one there. How did it get there? what was it used for?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mustapha View Post
                      In his book on D-Day, Stephen Ambrose mentioned that Omaha Beach was particularly ill-suited for armor because of a layer of shale-like stone that was exposed at low tide which was very slippery, making tracked vehicles work very hard to cross it. When their speed was reduced to almost zero, they became even easier targets for German anti-tank guns.
                      That's why you need an AVRE Bobbin

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                      • #12
                        Balikowskis book 'Omaha Beach' has detailed descriptions of the terrain, defenses, and the experince of the first several waves of assualt units landing there. Alexanders 'Utmost Savagery' has the same for Betio Island, where the LVT was first used as a assualt vehicle en mass. In both cases the attakers had to cross a wide expanse of flat terrain with nearly zero cover. On Omaha Beach there was some 300 to 400 meters of beach between the first obstacles, where the landing craft had to stop and the shingle-a sort of seawall. On Betio there was 700 to 800 meters of reef covered by a meter or two of water between the point where the landing craft had to drop ramps and the first covered position - the seawall.

                        In both cases the beach or reef was covered by two to three dozen HMG-LMG, mortars, over a dozen AT guns or Light Infantry guns, and several thousand riflemen. On both the weapons were largely protected by concreted and wood reinforced earth. In both cases the preperatory fires were relatively ineffective. Betio island had a half dozen light tanks

                        Originally posted by evie98 View Post
                        The 1st LVT's were not armored and later model's had 6-12 mm. Most heavy mg's would have had little problems with it. PAk would have 0 problems.
                        The first armored LVT were 'homebrewed' with steel plate welded on during September or October 1943 in anticipation of using them in the Betio assualt. Three MG with shields were mounted as well. Previously they had been used in their intended designed role as a amphibious lighter. To carry cargo across water & flooded ground. Usually they carried cargo from the ships to depots inland. For Betio the idea of using them to carry the first assualt wave ashore was new. It was percipitated by the wide reef, which the landing craft would not be able to float over for half the interval between tides. After the first wave was ashore the LVT would revert to their usual role of carrying ammunition, mortars, heavy high powered radios, medical equipment, rations....

                        Originally posted by evie98 View Post
                        At the museum at Utah Beach there is a LTV. At least in 89 there was one there. How did it get there? what was it used for?
                        Those were the older model unarmored cargo carrier types. They seem to have been scattered in small sections among the landing craft units or beach control units as general untilty amphib vehicles. The wheeled DUKW were far more common in the US 1st Army sector and the primary lighter for taking cargo directly from the ships to the dumps ashore. The Brits had the LVT as well, & called it the Buffalo. How they used them I cant remember.

                        Originally posted by llkinak View Post
                        Am I correct in viewing LVT's as basically the water version of an APC?
                        APC is a gross exageration, even of the improved armored models used in the Pacific. At best the HMG, MMG, pack howitzers, & 37mm AP guns fitted on them made them weapons carriers, but basically they were a cargo carrier with a few bits of extra steel fastened on as shields.

                        Originally posted by llkinak View Post
                        If so, I doubt they would have reduced casualties all that much. Since there were AT guns present at Omaha, the troops either would have had to dismount very quickly or risk losing the entire compliment when the vehicle was hit, same as APCs on land. Getting out and dispersing in the face of a defence which could not be overrun would have been doctrine then as now, I believe, so they would have faced a similar situation on the beach anyway. Omaha was a bastard for the time, one way or the other.
                        Its a matter of speed.

                        One of the items I turned up reading about this battle from the German PoV is there was a standing order to not open fire until the first attackers reached the outer edge of the obstacles on the beach. That is the Germans describe first pulling their triggers as the lead soldiers filed out of the landing craft and made their way past the first tetrahedrons & Belgian Gates. In some sectors the water had risen to the obstacles, in others there was a small expanse of exposed sand the soldiers crossed before the bullets and cannon fire started.

                        The problem for the Omaha Beach assualt was the 300+ meters of beach between the edge where the landing craft had to stop and the shingle or seawall that provided the first sheltered position. The infantry trying to get there & beyond to the dunes & exits were exposed for three to four consecutive 100 yard dashes. By the time they crossed that frantic ground not only had they been exposed to considerable fire but they were fairly intermingled and disorganized. Contrast that to the first wave at Betio island which crossed the 800 meters of exposed reef in far less time, and which arrived at the sea wall organizationally intact. The following waves on Betio suffered far worse than the first. They had to wade the 700+ meters of reef under fire much like the soldiers of Omaha beach had to cross their 400 meters of sand and rising tide. The LVT did suffer a estimated 25% losses on the first round trip to the beach. Still they got the lead wave to the seawall in fairly good order which made a huge difference in comparison with the flowing waves that had to wade across the reef. Those took up to an hour or more to cross and were completely disorganized once they reached shore.

                        On Omaha Beach had the first wave been in LVT their exposure to fire before reaching the shingle/seawall would have been measured in seconds rather than minutes. As at Betio Island the overall losses to the LVT would have been large, and the following waves exposed to far more fire, and probablly without the advantage of the LVT. ...but the lead companys could have been intact and have suffered relatively few losses once at the shingle/seawall.

                        In the larger scheme of things that may not have much significance. To the soldiers of the first wave arriving alive it is a huge difference. It also would be helpfull in getting the infiltration across the dunes and bluffs started as the surviving sgts & captains would spend less time gathering and organizing survivors.

                        Another, gruesome, effect would be that with another 90 or 180 vehicles milling about the beach the German AT gunners would hardly notice which were the 30+ M4 tanks that made it ashore behind the first wave. Historically those were picked off fairly quickly before they could deliver much counter fire against the German MG or cannon bunkers. Lost in the crowd so to speak the tanks could accomplish a bit more than what they did.

                        Possiblly the most important effect would be getting the naval gun fire spotting teams across the beach intact. On Omaha Beach the six teams that came with the first wave were all hors combat in minutes. I've not yet found a single bit of evidence any NGF spotting teams of the first or following waves were functional for the first two hours. Back in 1974 I met one of the enlisted NGF spotting team members on Betio. His team made it ashore intact, tho some others did not. Alexander describes the same. While some were picked off as the first wave ran in on the LVT others were set up and directing fires within minutes. On Omaha Beach had even half or two of the six teams survived they could have been directing 127mm & 203mm AP cannon fires onto the bunkers imeadiately, instead of that starting after 08:30, two hours after the first wave went in. With bunkers being eliminated one by one from 06:45 vs 08:30 or later I suspect the overall situation on Omaha beach would have been far better.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Aber View Post
                          That's why you need an AVRE Bobbin
                          Usefull, but not a pancea. Suppresion of the enemy AT guns is necessary

                          The 30+ M4 tanks and 16 bulldozers were picked off when they tried to deal with the shingle/seawall during the first hour. Had the AT guns been suppressed it would have mattered little which vehicle dealt with the seawall. Bulldozer or AVRE Bobbin would have created crossings in minutes. But, German direct fire weapons ruled the beach for two hours and the assaulting armored vehicles seldom lasted 20 minutes each.

                          Once the cannon were suppressed the infantry/engineers were able to root out the German infantry, and clear the beach exits.

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                          • #14
                            The big problem with Omaha Beach was the sandbar a few hundred yards off the main shore. Things like that can't be predicted and perhaps only local knowledge would have helped. But inquiring as to the state of local beaches would tend to give the game away.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mustapha View Post
                              In his book on D-Day, Stephen Ambrose mentioned that Omaha Beach was particularly ill-suited for armor because of a layer of shale-like stone that was exposed at low tide which was very slippery, making tracked vehicles work very hard to cross it. When their speed was reduced to almost zero, they became even easier targets for German anti-tank guns.
                              That was the "Shingle" or seawall located at the high tide line. The rest of the beach was gravel mixed with sand and well compacted. Tracked vehicles were able to manuver across that ok except for the occasional tidal pool

                              Beyond the seawall were dunes covered by grass and scrub brush. Some deep pits were scattered among those. Behind that were the bluffs. The dunes were soft, steep, and unsuitable for tanks. Light tracked vehicles would have some ability there. The four narrow valleys or draws had the hard gravel & clay mix that would support tanks and wheeled vehicles, and their slope was shallow enough for vehicles. Anywhere else the bluffs made it impractical for any vehicles.

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