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2nd Gen. German Tank Destroyers in 1943?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Eastern Front & Balka' started by Ceraphix, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    A PAK 40 only cost 12,000 RM. A Panzer IV cost 103,000 RM.

    During the course of the war, Germany only made 20,000 PAK 40 guns, and that number was split between two fronts. What if they'd made 100,000 or 150,000? Considering that in 43/44 Germany found itself in a defensive war and the versatility of the gun itself - both anti-tank and anti-personnel rounds - they'd have been much more effective than say doubling the number of Panzer IVs or Panthers.

    Few towed guns are "very mobile" but at a cost of 12,000 RM they could afford to lose more of them than they could tanks or TDs and they could have produced far more at that cost. They only weighed 3000 pounds which doesn't take much of a vehicle to tow it away when the counterfire began zooming in.

    In some ways, the mistake mirrors the early American reliance on towed tank guns. A three inch gun was great for defense, but we were fighting an offensive war. The Germans were doing just the opposite - still concentrating on offensive weapons while fighting a defensive war on two fronts.
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Interesting way of looking at the issue. However the cost aren't quite right. You have to add the cost of the gun tractor, and a trained detachment - around 10-12 men per gun when you add in the slice of command and support staff. The Germans were short of manpower and could not afford to simply write off the detachments. It would take a million men to deploy 100,000 Pak 40s in anti tank battalions.

    SP guns were more versatile as well as survivable. They could be used to provide close support for infantry as assault guns and were far more effective in supporting attacks and counter attacks.
     
  4. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I'm not so sure. A Toyota Camry weighs more than a PAK 40, so it doesn't take much to tow one around - a Kubelwagon or a single horse could move one if necessary. Even the dedicated mover, the Raupenschlepper Ost (RSO) was a pretty cheap and crude machine - they even designed a version that actually mounted a PAC 40 gun! Considering the cost of a gun and mover, this would have been an even cheaper alternative.

    [​IMG]
     
    belasar likes this.
  5. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Oh, I forgot to add that such a gun is a force multiplier, so siphoning off infantry to man guns is an increase rather than a loss in strength. If the gun is destroyed, surviving crew just become infantry until a replacement gun is found.
     
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    1. Try telling that to the infantry!

    2. A pak 40 is made of steel unlike the detachment, who are likely to be of limited use as infantry after being on the receiving end of incoming HE or machine gun fire.
     
  7. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    We've got plenty of Infantry guys here to chime in. I just think I'd rather have a couple of AT/AP guns on my line if told to hold a road with armor and infantry coming at me. That's pretty much the story of the war after the Normandy break out. Allies advancing, Germans blocking.
     
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    KB old Chap,

    German infantry on the East front had long frontages often in forests and marshland, and not just defending a road!. The Germans faced Soviet infantry as well as tanks. Indeed there is one German post war account which says that the individual "Ivan" was the thing they feared most. Cunning, patient with high standards of field craft, the Red army was capable of launching surprise attacks from unprom,ising terrain in any kind of weather.

    Multiplying the number of anti tank guns by a factor of ten would require ten times as many anti tank gunners. It would mean ten anti tank abteilung rather than one. In other words every infantry battalion in a division would be converted into anti tank battalion. The Germans did not have the industrial capacity in B Vehicles to motorise every division, even with the RSO.

    Nor is infantry work something that can be a part time activity for anti tank gunners.
     
  9. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    [SIZE=10.5pt]From Harry Yeide " Tank Killers "[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt]A U.S. army study of 39 TD battalions of all types indicated that they , on average , deestroyed 34 tanks, 17 towed guns and 16 pill boxes. Total TD losses as measured by replacements in the entire ETO were 539 M10´s , 215 M18´s, 151 M36´s and 228 [/SIZE][SIZE=10.5pt]towed[/SIZE] [SIZE=10.5pt]guns.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE=10.5pt]In Harry Yeide " Tank Killers " at least the [/SIZE][SIZE=10.5pt]towed[/SIZE] [SIZE=10.5pt]at guns did not make many kills, only a couple, and even those by using a bazooka....or something like that. So the US really had to change their strategy during the war because the tank killers were outclassing the [/SIZE][SIZE=10.5pt]towed[/SIZE][SIZE=10.5pt] guns.[/SIZE]
     
  10. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    All good points, Sheldrake! My reading is based mostly on one US Infantry Division, though I try to learn more about all aspects of the war. Their own 3 inch and 57mm guns were put to good use on several notable occasions until replaced by the mobile AT guns in December/January, 44/45. All in all, though it was an offensive strategy and the towed guns were only useful in a counter attack - the very opposite situation the Germans were facing by that point in the war. In reading the accounts of slogging across Europe taking town after town, you see the pattern of one or two unlucky German platoons or a company around a single gun and a number of MG42s that would hold up the advance for the day until taken out by mortars or artillery. Most of those unnamed little battles involve the loss of a Sherman or two, other vehicles, as well as personnel from the HE rounds. And generally the gun is gone when they get there and they have to do it all over again at the next town because the Germans have simply withdrawn to a new position with another good field of fire.

    When you see the same situation with a concentration of even four or five towed guns it becomes a major battle with heavy losses. North of Aachen, you can see a number of examples of very bloody "wins" because of towed guns. The whole area was open potato and beet fields with only one axis of advance, and the Germans had plenty of time to fortify and hide these guns at the edges of small towns. They employed them brilliantly, opening up with one or two guns until the tanks and infantry moved left or right or applied smoke and WP to hide themselves, then another gun or two would open up from yet another direction. This was all occurring around Lamersdorf, Inden, Altdorf and just the presence of those extra guns turned a routine advance into a 3 or 4 day battle. They had to take those towns in bloody night battles just to take the PAK 40s out of the equation. Very high losses to take a few villages, and all because of those cheap AT guns.

    I just can't help but conclude that many more of those guns would have slowed the alliance advance to a crawl. The Germans were certainly quite brilliant about using terrain to their advantage and experienced enough to know when to shoot and when to "scoot.'
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If they had gone that way early war though wouldn't it have slowed their offensives as well?
     
  12. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Yes. I'm talking about after the tide had turned - 43, 44, 45. Instead of all that money and effort to produce Panthers, King Tigers, jet aircraft, whatever, they'd have been in much better shape just producing more AT guns. The photo on the previous page of the Pak 40 actually mounted on the cheap prime mover would have probably been money and manpower well spent. They still needed the panzers for counter-attacks, but 90% of the fighting was defensive in nature. It's like they never grasped that change in the strategic picture. Just as the US didn't concentrate on mobile AT guns (offensive guns) before the landing at Normandy.
     
  13. Triton

    Triton New Member

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    The problem of the Wehrmacht was, that they had to fight too many enemy tanks and that they lost air superiority.
    I think, you need a mix of AT-guns, tanks, tank-destroyers, ground-attack planes and AT-infantry (Panzerfaust), to destroy such large numbers of enemy tanks with a smaller army.

    The Jagdtiger and the Elefant were expensive nonsens, a result from from the dogma to equal quantity with quality. But otherwise I don't see big mistakes in tank fighting tactics. As you mentioned, the Wehrmacht had 5 years of experience in tank warfare. And they fought against superior tank-forces most of the time.
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Just surround them, they have to go home or leave them. For instance the run to the Rhine cost the Germans twice the loss of armor as 1. Falaise 2. The armor did not have ships to go over rivers....
     

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