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German favour Mark IV as main battle tank?

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

  1. moutan1

    moutan1 Member

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    General Guderian, the best German armor expert and commander, said "As interesting as these designs were, the practical result was just a reduced production of the Panzer 4, our only efficient tank then, to a very modest level.". Shortly before the battle of Kursk Guderian added, about the Panther and its crews, "They are simply not ready yet for the front". In early 1943 the Germans were about to destroy their own tank production rates by terminating Panzer 4 production in return for a production of just 25 new Tigers per month, but at a moment of reason Hitler gave control of tank production to Guderian who stopped this idea.
     
  2. FartNuts

    FartNuts Member

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    I've personally ALWAYS thought this way...that while the tiger 1 and two's, panthers etc were great designs (well kinda), powerful and so on....they wasted German resources more than anything else. I'm a big believer that if Germany had focused far more on the development and product of the mark IV panzer they would have put up a much better fight. If they could simply have replicated the ease of production in every area like with the T34 or Sherman...things could have been different.

    I wouldn't go as far as to say that they would have won the war, they would still never be able to keep pace with allied production especially in the area air power....but who knows....maybe a loner war...maybe a different outcome and so on.

    My favorite tank of all has always been the King Tiger....but man was that a bad idea on their part...just think of all the panzer IV's that could have been build and in what time. Then the tigers etc.
     
  3. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    What might as helped Germany is having the 1944 production levels in 1941 or 1942, a fully Pz IV lang equipped tank force in 1942 may have tilted some critical battles like Stalingrad and first El Alamein. After 1942 facing massed T-34 or M4 a Tiger is possibly a better bet than a couple of Pz IV. A Tiger has a significant "immune zone" against the allied 75mm and soviet 76mm armed tanks where it can hurt it's opponent without too many risks and this may give it local superiority without numerical superiority, the two Pz IV cannot do that. Also the Tiger only requires one crew and by 1944 there was a shortage of well trained crews, this was possibly one reason for the generally poor performance of the panzer brigades that were, I think, formed to absorb the excess tank production once the divisions were up to strength.
     
  4. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    One has to remember that all models of the German tanks were carefully studied after they had been crippled, or captured by the allies, and many of their engineering design features were outright rejected like the interleaved - overlapped road wheels or their track design, while others were adopted/adapted. Torsion bar suspension showed up on the Pershing, along with a very much better American automatic transmission.

    The US and Britain also studied the Soviet T-34 design. The US rejected it as crude compared to the Sherman in many areas, particularly compared to the 76 (W) model of M4, although the armor was sloped up to 45 degrees on later Shermans. The two-man turret without a turret basket in particular was a huge handicap. The track and suspension system were deemed inferior, particularly the short lived tracks. One cannot ignore that the "Christie" suspension design never went too much further in the line of AFVs of the future.

    Maintenance was something the US in particular was concerned about on their armored fighting vehicles. Name any German tank, of any size that could have 3 or 4 men perform a complete engine change using just hand tools and a light crane in a couple of hours. I dare ya.

    For the German designs many an engine change took days. Transmissions likewise. In a Jadgtiger or Tiger I for example, the poor maintenance design and the overworked transmission and final drives meant that they had to be changed or removed and repaired all too frequently. To do so, the maintenance crews had to remove the top of the fighting compartment (2 tons), the gun assembly (14 tons), and the top of the driver's compartment just to gain access to, and then take out the transmission. It often took over a week to complete a transmission change.

    There is a lot more to a tank than just its firepower, armor, and speed. The Allies realized this far clearer than the Germans apparently did. The final model of the Panzer IV, the "H" was a fine tank and pretty reliable. But at nearly 28 tons it had been just about stretched to its limit, the 75 mm L/48 was a reasonably high velocity 75, but not the match of the Panther’s L/70 in speed. I don’t know if it could have carried that main-gun in the turret as it existed.

    When trying to compare the Panzer IV and the M4 "Sherman", the problem here is that the American M4 had been designed to combat the same Mk. IV in its earlier models, and when the M4’s design was completed, it had an ability to "upgrade" far beyond that of the Panzer IV. The Panzer IV suspension had reached its limit, and to change that; the entire system would need to be altered. Likewise the upgrade to the "Jumbo" was the end of the line for the VVHS suspension, but the HVSS was coming into production so as to be able to carry an even heavier tank weight. As in the nearly 38 ton M4A3E8, the "Easy 8", whose 76 mm gun could fire a 15.4 lb AP shell at a muzzle velocity of 2,600 feet per sec.

    The Panzer IV was the only AFV made from the beginning until the end of the war by the Germans, it must have had something to recommend it besides easier production than the complicated Panther and Tiger models.

    Remember also that it took almost 300,000 man hours to build one Tiger, and slightly more for a King Tiger, and about 150,000 man hours to build each Panther! These are total hours of labor compiled in the sub-contractor production, the time it took to transport the sub-units to the assembly areas, as well as the assembly time in the final completion of the units. Allied bombing had made the already inefficient assembly lines of the Germans even less efficient. In America and other allied plants, the raw material went in one end of the system, and the product came out the other. This wasn’t the way the German system worked. Please see the following page:

    Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger Ausf. E Sd. Kfz. 181

    Which seem to show that the "cost" of the typical Tiger is 300,000 RM. Here's another site that notes the cost of a Tiger as 250,000 Reichmarks (RM):

    Tiger tank.

    At historical exchange rates of approximately 40 cents per Reichmarks (RM), a Tiger would thus have costed approximately $100,000 - $120,000 contemporary US dollars, where a M4 cost about $35,000 delivered. And at the typical German industrial wager earner was making about 2000RM per year (no slave labor included in the cost), this would seem to confirm the roughly 300K hours to build a single Tiger.

    And let us not neglect another lack the Germans had internally. The Soviets had sources of metalic magnesium which is a "sulfur fixer" when used as an alloy in the production of high-grade steels, especially in the high-nickel "stainless" steel. Manganese (another vital alloy), as a mineral, was largely mined in the eastern Ukraine area, I think the other main known sources were in southern Africa, China, and the US at the time, not Germany.

    Even today, metallic magnesium is widely used in aircraft production as an alloy of aluminum, and still used as well in the "de-sulpherization" of high grade steels. Each mineral was mined and shipped from the USSR to Germany, nickel from Norilsk (northeast of Moscow) and magnesium from Sverdlovsk (formerly Ekaterinburg). The Nazis were receiving chromium from Turkey and some tungsten from the USSR with more from Spain.

    The former Soviet Union had been Germany’s major supplier of these two raw materials (nickel and magnesium), until June of 1941. The Finns had supplied Germany with some nickel, but after the "Winter War" Finland lost its own nickel deposits to the USSR in one of its territorial concessions. Norway’s nickel deposits were and are pretty small, and Sweden (while originally identifying and naming "nickel" in the 1700s) had nearly none to export to Germany.

    The "advanced" alloys needed to produce the great "Krupp Stahl" of the Krupp works needed high quality iron ore (Sweden), chromium (Turkey), nickel (originally Finland and to a lesser extent Norway), tungsten/wolfram (USSR/Spain), and magnesium (USSR). None of were or are local minerals in quantities sufficient in Germany for mass weapons production.

    Both T-34 and M4 (Sherman) production time improved from 8000/9000 man-hours to under 4000 hours from early war time to 1944. I wonder if that the 300,000 man-hour number for the Tiger equates directly to the T-34 or Sherman number. It is entirely possible that the Tiger number includes labor required of all sub component suppliers, loading and unloading as well as transport time to the assembly area, along with the final assembly time. I suspect that the allied numbers might be just the final assembly.

    Just my take on it as well, the Panzer IV was just about the end of the line with that design, but without the Tiger’s waste of resources and man-hours, many more of the Panthers could have rolled out, and that may have extended the war until the atomics were prepared. This isn’t a "good thing" for the Nazis or Germany; as they were the original targets.
     
  5. Chesehead121

    Chesehead121 Member

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    You know, I think the real answer to all these "what if the Germans had designed their tanks differently" what-ifs is simply that they didn't have the manpower to produce even enough Mark IVs to match up with the might of the U.S. and the USSR. Even if they had won in the East they still faced another bear in the West, and...they couldn't have won in the East because, well, they couldn't have won in the East.
     
  6. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Rereading this.
    Does anyone out there know a better technical term for fixed mounting guns of the type Germany trialed (post #56 onwards) ?

    I've been trying to find more recently, but 'recoilless', obviously, returns stuff on 'counterblast' type technology. Is there a more precise term describing no recoil or compensation at all? ('uncompensated' was a thought, but it leads to a lot of legal stuff, and smallarms chat.)

    ~A
     
  7. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Here is what I proposed much earlier in this thread:
     

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  8. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    I was gonna ask if you ever made that model....
    Looks like a Mark IV with the Panther schmalturm popped on top, a Panfour?
     
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    More on Rigid gun mount testing:
    The Jagdpanzer 38 Starr

    Still can't think of a better term for it than 'recoilless' or 'uncompensated', so maybe 'rigid mount' makes the most sense...
     
  10. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    The Italians used rigid mounts for the 37mm light AA on ships and found out it coulndn't work on anything less sturdy than a cruiser, while a tank uses thicker plates than a destroyer and the AT guns were not full auto it still looks like the reliability would have been unacceptable.
    A waepon that is likely to break down after around 100 shots is not good enough for tank use, it may be good on a warship which would return to port (most of the big gun barrels needed relining after between 150 and 300 rounds but the magazines carried less than that) but on a tank? the savings at the production end would be more than lost by increased maintenace requirements in the field as the uncompensated recoil forces caused random equipment failures.
     
  11. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    I really don't know.
    I suppose a ship is a far more rigid mounting than a Tank, with perhaps less routes for shock to dissipate despite being on the water (it would have to be some gun to move a reasonably sized ship in the water by recoil - physics, so my mind wanders somewhat), and they managed to get 600 shots out of one vehicle in testing (post #62), so who knows where it might have led.
    Obviously not an ideal method, or they'd all be doing it now, and strongly related to materials & production efficiency problems, but I remain as surprised by the relatively positive results obtained as I was when first reading of it in Spielberger.

    I'd be very interested in any other nation's tests/results with this method - rather hard to Google as the terminology is sort of general.
     
  12. lwd

    lwd Ace

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  13. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    You picked some very good performers but a lot of large naval gun linings were rather short lived, also from NavWeaps
    The US 14" /50 Mark 7 200 rounds
    The US 14" /45 Mark 9 175-200 rounds
    The US 12" /50 Mark 7 200 rounds
    And the US guns were generally decent performers for this aspect as they never tried for extreme muzzle velocities
    Japanese (Vickers) 14"/45 250-280 rounds
    Japanese 155/60 250-300 rounds
    French 380mm/45 200 rounds
    French 330mm/50 250 rounds
    German 380/52 180-210 rounds (These are the KMS Bismark guns they were 380/51.66 according tho the German mode of mesuring barrel length and 380/48.3 according to the US one) thiught they are sometimes refered to as 380/47.
    German 280/54.5 300 rounds
    Italian 381/50 110-120 rounds

    So while we do not go below 100 we are often not far above that, not a real limitation as big gun ships were expected to go back to harbour fo repairs after any major engagements.

    Did the Swedish "S tank" have a recoil mechanism? the gun mounting looks rigid. If it didn't it would be quite a feat, that was a full powered L7 105mm without eve a muzzle brake not the low recoil derivative mounted in modern 8 weelers.
     
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  14. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Very good thought, ToS - S-Tank/SV103 gun does indeed appear to be fixed (still checking that), which looks to assist the auto-loader. Not certain about that yet, but it almost makes sense when so much effort is put into a suspension system, why not try and direct recoil through it too. This appears to be the background thought in the German WW2 work.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Bfts8BBnac

    If it does recoil, there's not a lot of space for it to do so:
    View attachment 19304

    Must confess to having some difficulty confirming a fixed recoil system, as there are many references to 'fixed gun', but that may only refer to the famous lack of conventional traverse/elevation.
    Maybe the lack of reference to 'recoil' is a clue... Hell of a recoil to direct on that gun...

    (Some nice details of S-Tank development here: http://ftr.wot-news.com/2013/08/28/strv-103-the-s-tank/ )

    This is now doing my head in - I know I saw some footage of the 103 firing before, which would perhaps show whether the gun moves on any sort of recuperator, but can't find anything now.
    Bloody 'World of Tanks' has made Googling Armoured things' details difficult...
    Any Swedes in the house?




    Hmmm, need to remind myself about AMX13s and oscillating turret recoil system.
    Ah, no - a tad more 'conventional' (if anything's ever conventional on AMXs), more of a moving of the recoil system than a removal.

    Now wondering about Contentious:
    [​IMG]

    Ah, no - looks like there's recuperation there.
    http://arcaneafvs.com/fv4401contentious.html
    Though I seem to recall a twin WOMBAT recoilless setup was considered during the project, though that's not the sort of fixed mounting that currently intrigues.

    Anyway - bloody S Tanks - does the barrel move in recoil?
     

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  15. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Chap on Twatter who claims to have worked on S-tank saying yes, recoil system same as centurion.
    Back to the drawing board - probably.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Looks like picking the newer US heavy naval guns gave a somewhat unbalanced view. Of course the lighter ones would be expected to go through more rounds.
     
  17. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper Patron  

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    Modern Tanks And Fighting Vehicles by Ray Bonds, also only makes reference Stridsvagn's fixed gun position: "...armed with a 105mm rifled tank gun which is fixed to the hull."
    Another clue could be: " When the gun is fired, the suspension is locked so as to provide a more stable firing platform.".

    Interesting too that the S had 5 -7.62 machine guns, and the 105 is a longer version of the L7.
     
  18. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Didn't watch this properly this morning, now did I...
    4:59-



    Next...
     
  19. green slime

    green slime Member

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    http://www.forsvarsframjandet.org/FMF-98-4/Strv-103.htm

    (article is from 1998)

    All in Swedish, but, you gotta love google translate:

    "SUMMARY

    Strv 103 could not shoot during movement, had only two men who could participate in the battle and could not pass smaller ditches. This meant that the tank was not suitable as an assault weapon. It had a limited combat value and best suited as a tracked antitank piece. But what Sweden needed was an assault weapon.

    When Sweden a few years ago sent a battalion to Bosnia, we needed heavy tanks. To solve this task, we were forced to take a Danish tank company with the Leopard 1. Our own strv 103 was not even enough to resolve a peace task, but the tank would by Swedish soldiers be used in war against modern equipped opponents.

    The reliability was, during most of its service time, so flawed that it may be justified to use the word scandal."

    - Colonel Hans Nilsson

    He also had this to say (same article), while discussing modernization:

    "The Centurion tank is constructed in the early 50s. The first carriages came to our country in 1954 and the rest during the 50's. The tank will remain in our war organization until the turn of the century. Strv 103 began shipping in late 60's - almost 15 years after the Centurion, but has been scrapped while the Centurion is still in service."

    S-103 was a disaster. Too expensive and difficult to modernize, the engine compartment was too small to upgrade to a decent engine when it was found to be underpowered, the main gun was too weak, and to upgrade it to a 120mm was too expensive, and the ground conditions in Sweden make traversing the whole carriage difficult for a large part of the year (heavy snow (winter), water logged land (Autumn to Spring)).
     
  20. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    T.A. Gardners hypothetical modifications(Post #7) to the Pz IV doesn't sound like a bad idea to me though, could it have been the better route to take instead of developing the German "big cats?"
     

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