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German favour Mark IV as main battle tank?

Discussion in 'What If - Other' started by Jaeger, Oct 6, 2007.

  1. Jaeger

    Jaeger Ace

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    What if the Germans adopted the up gunned mark IV as a 'main battle tank' in 1942?
    Dropping the production of mark III and scrapping the plans for the Panther?

    The germans had trouble throughout the war to get the full compliment of tanks in their Panzer divisions. Would an all out production of Mark IV have remedied this?

    Reading from my papers the production of mark IV peaked in '44 with around 300 per month.
    But from '43 to the end of the war there was produced some 5987 Panthers
    During 42-43 well over 1000 mark III were produced.

    What if the resources 'wasted' on mark III and V were allocated to an all out production of mark IV, would the germans have fared better?

    Less fuel consuming than Panther and Tiger it would help on the operational side to.. Or would it?
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I don't believe that the MKIV could be up gunned much more than it already was. So you are looking at a tank that is at best on a par with the M-4 and T-34.
     
  3. Joe

    Joe Ace

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    If they made the Panther earlier, didn't make the tiger or try to make the other monsters, made a lot of Panthers then the war could have been different. The Germans had almost every factory in Europe, they should of used that massive industrial capacity.
     
  4. Richard

    Richard Expert

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    Less enemy tanks would had been lost to the Panzer IV, no I don't see much difference on any weapon as Germany shot her bolt. Unless they had the A-Bomb by 1943. :eek:

    Good job they got there sums wrong on that one.
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Don´t think the Mk IV as the only version being produced in large numbers would make a difference, as there was also lack of crews as well.

    They should have gotten more of the air power back which would have allowed the transfer of troops without the fear of total annihilation and also allowed attacks to concentrate on the enemy on the ground.
     
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  6. FramerT

    FramerT Ace

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    The Mark IV with the L/48 gun could have held it's own against 90% of Allied armor but I don't see this as helping Germany. Parts and logistics wise,it would. Germany would have stood a better chance if she could have produced more trucks and/or half-tracks so the troops could be more mobile. Horses and forced marches just won't cut it in a country as big as Russia.
    Maybe Kursk would not have happened or at the least, it would not have been postponed while waiting for the Panthers and Tigers to arrive.
     
  7. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    I've discussed this before. My reasoning was along the lines of the US M-23. That tank used mostly Sherman parts but was much lower with better armor arrangement.

    The idea with the Pz IV I have previously suggested is that the Germans:

    1. Space out the suspension bogies from the hull and add additional leaf springs to allow an all-up weight of about 30 tons.

    2. The tracks are widened to lower ground pressure. Since the suspension is spaced grousers are not necessary for this .

    3. The hull is redesigned with a sloped front and sides above the tracks. The armor on the front is about 50 to 60 mm thick with an effective thickness with slope of about 100 to 120 mm. The side armor is effectively 35 to 40 mm thick but remains the original basis.

    4. A new turret with overhanging rear and sides is installed allowing a 75L55 to L60 gun to be fitted (a cut down version of the Panther gun). The turret itself uses a saukopf mantle and is similar in design to the Henschel Tiger II design minimizing frontal aspect. The overhang design gives sufficent room for the gun to recoil and be loaded.

    5. Shorter skirts are introduced to protect the lower hull from Soviet ATR fire.

    6. The engine is bored out and stroked to produce about 10% more horsepower keeping the speed the same for the additional weight. A new transmission with 1 additional gear is introduced and all gears are re-ratioed to give better performance with the new design.
     
  8. Roddoss72

    Roddoss72 Member

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    Hey presto you have just designed the Panther in a different dress.
     
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  9. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Not at all. The Panther required an entirely new hull and turret. The engine and transmission were totally new. The suspension is totally new.
    The tank described above has some new parts and some new layout for its armor. But, other than the turret and gun it is really still a Pz IV. The suspension has not changed. The track is a new design but this is not a big engineering investment. The hull is still mostly the same. The engine is modified but not a new engine. The transmission is still the same again with modifications.
    These modifications require alot less engineering and design than a whole new vehicle does. Thus, it is not a "Panther in a different dress."
     
  10. Roddoss72

    Roddoss72 Member

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    Yes but what you want is like saying we have a Spitfire MkI and tinker with it and you wind up with the Spiteful, i understand what you want, you want a beefed up Panzer Mk IV but what you get is essentially a different Panzer, like the Panther and King Tiger, more or less a King Tiger was a beefed up Panther, what the overall solution to Germany's panzer problem is anyones guess.
     
  11. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Got to say T.A. that sounds somewhat like a new vehicle to me as well, I'd imagine the WaPruf. would see it as such too. Every extension of the length, width & weight of a given vehicle seems to create enormous headaches in transmission strains, engine power, steering difficulty etc. out of all proportion to what seem like minor modifications, & that sounds like a lot of mods.


    As for Pz.IV continuing and others being discarded I often think "yeah, why not?" as, in the west at least, even though the last ausfs of mk. IV were really stressed to their limits they still mostly proved perfectly adequate against what was fielded against them.
    There's a problem though as it would have required some hindsight for the Germans not to have made Panther & Tiger etc.
    The increasingly defensive nature of the fight obviously made the behemoths attractive and it would also be reasonable to assume that the Germans would expect more and faster technological advances in armour from their opponents. The Western allies didn't confront them with as much (vehicular) change as they might have expected but the Soviets certainly did. Without a crystal ball just sticking with the IV could look very much like stagnation, evolve or die.

    Then there's the old & valid story of Germany simply not being able to indulge in the massive production that so assisted the allies, forcing them into hunting technological solutions and heftier tanks. While scarce raw materials and important production time might have been saved by concentrating on the one beast, comparatively little actual production capacity would be freed up. The whole story of initial Panther production seems to be one of persuading different factories to switch over, and without new facilities (some of which were built) each manufacturer could still only accomodate roughly the same number of under construction vehicles at a time.
    I don't think Pz.IV only would have made too much difference, dumping the mk III slightly earlier and going wholly for the IV makes some sense to me... though the thought of solely StuG. production, which really could be churned out quicker makes me go 'hmmm'...

    Cheers,
    Adam.

    (By the way Rodoss, the King Tiger can't really be described as a 'beefed up Panther'... the evolution is far more complex than that & in many ways the Panther is a hugely more evolved/advanced branch of the tree than the Tiger or TigerII ever were ;))


    ...
    ....
    Forgive this long ramble, Just finished reading Spielbergers 'Panther & Variants', so much head-scratching is going on for me over the vehicle :).
     
  12. Jaeger

    Jaeger Ace

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    Good stuff gents.

    The reason why I picked up this thread was that the Mark IV, although not as sexy as Panther or Tiger, still is a good design. It was also one design that match the Sherman and T-34 in service length during the war.

    The later version with the long barrel 75mm gun was a handfull for the allied designs at the time. So a focus on production on a Mark IV rather than the more complex and costly Panthers and Tigers would yield more tanks, using less resources enabeling production of other items (Aircraft?)
     
  13. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    I believe they'd largely eliminated (as much as possible) 'aircraft sensitive' materials from the Panzer production lines quite early on anyway.

    Thinking about it 'less resources for more tanks' can't be entirely true either, as each vehicle requires a main gun, sights, MGs, bearings, etc. etc. Bulk steel may be spread thinner but individual components require a specific amount of resource/special material, almost regardless of their size or the vehicle they're fitted to. Germany actually did quite well at production with exactly what they had to hand. Stretched to their limits as they were, there would conceivably have been even more bottlenecks in production (of which there were many) while vehicles wait for the one component that's in short supply.
    So perhaps more Mark IV's would just mean less (e.g) Towed AT guns and other useful materiel. :confused:

    In short.
    I don't envy Speer's job.

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Didn´t Speer manage to produce huge numbers of everything, the problem being no fuel and no crews for all these tanks, planes etc. ??
     
  15. Vince Noir

    Vince Noir Member

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    Germany's problem was never one of production but of fuel and trained crews.

    The Panzer IV turret ring was unable to take anything bigger that the 75mm L/48. They did try to fit a Panther turret to it but the weight was too much especially with the barrel overhang... To rectify the problem would have taken a complete redesign and thus was pointless.

    The Germans needed the Panther and so it was to be...

    The fact is the Germans didnt have the fuel to put in the tanks or the trained crews to drive them.
     
  16. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    There were many large problems with production for almost the entire course of the war. Things were compromised rarely for the sake of simple expediency, as that just doesn't appear to be in the German engineer's nature, but often by sheer force of circumstance and supply.
    The fuel and crews thing is, of course, an ultimate arbiter of whatever happens on the battlefield. Particularly the crews, as a lack of manpower is kind of by definition an indicator of losing a war, it most likely negates any advantage of greater vehicle production. However in the other 'front' of the factories I'm becoming less and less convinced that a serious enough increase in Mark IV's could really be achieved (though if it were it conceivably could have assisted Germany in hanging onto their tenuous oil supply rather longer. The Tiger concept alone was an occupier of engineering time since 1936).

    Is it possible that the greatest benefit of discarding Tiger, Panther, Tiger II would be the the more intangible freeing up of the design staff and often brilliant engineers who laboured over them? They could then concentrate more on the essential engineering core, things like improving engine life, transmissions, material/fuel efficiency etc? (perhaps even more advances in synthetic/alternative fuels, some of these chaps were truly world class).
    For one example the men who worked on the Maus's efforts were well and truly wasted.
    Beside this actual manpower I read recently that each design hour cost the reich 32.25RM each. A whole 100 of these precious hours were wasted on the 210mm Sturmpanzer Panther alone, a very minor project that also came to nothing. It seems that orders to cancel the more exotic projects only really become prevalant halfway through '44... rather late for useful engineers to get their teeth into more useful projects.

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     
  17. Joe

    Joe Ace

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    This thread has given me an idea for HOI II...
     
  18. FramerT

    FramerT Ace

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    In the time frame given in this what-if ['42], I don't think the production of any one vehicle
    would have helped. Even if say, Germany produced quicker to build StuGs, she could never hope to keep up with both Russia and the U.S. And then there is that fuel problem that always rears it's ugly head.
     
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  19. skunk works

    skunk works Ace

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    Really depends on what model of IV (for armor), and what for a gun (kwk 37/L 24, 40/L 43, 40/L 48) 75mm, and what year this all came to pass.
    As T.A. stated 35-40mm on sides, and 80mm (like the H) on front, and the kwk40/L48 gun (apron armor all around) in 1939. That would be something.
    Perhaps less trained crews would've been lost, as were in the much lesser junk they started the war with.
    Think of all the gas saved by not having to spend it on those early suicide machines (I-II-III's) that even Japanese tanks could whip.
    That and dumping the, III's to combat tanks and the IV's to support infantry "doctrine". Have both AP & HE aboard to fulfill both missions.
    The T-34 wouldn't have been so fearsome. The Russians seem to have figured out that one (tank) size, fits (most) all (situations).
    Make Marders out of the rest of the captured/antique/allied chassis's, but make sure they have at least the Russian 76.2 (crash-boom gun), or the L/48.

    Weights counter balance long guns. The M-10/M-36 had some heavy iron on the rear of it's turret to balance that x-naval gun & that 90, as did others.

    Minor modifications, as T.A. stated do not require major overhauls/refits/engineering/castings...ie... Designs/blueprints/time. A glorified "field" modification, done at the factory.
    Really a big nothing, once you train the Monkeys doing it.

    just another opinion
     
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    The trouble with any counterbalance to the latest Mark IV's gun is that it was already destroying the front suspension (stripped tyres leading to steel wheels, turret ring strain, etc.) if you add more weight then the entire drivetrain becomes overstressed rather than just the front.
    The late IV was not in any position to carry any more weight, she was maxed out.

    I also couldn't call a new sloped hull, different suspension, new turret etc. a minor modification. These are not things that can be achieved in the field.

    Cheers,
    Adam.
     

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