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Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by JBark, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. JBark

    JBark Member

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    Many think the only role and most important yardstick of a tank is its ability to fight other tanks. Many tanks went quite some time without encountering enemy armor. It was not the major duty of a tank, especially in the ETO. Getting past this way of evaluating armor is very difficult for some.
     
  2. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    JBark. You can address the argument in my post above where I lay it out. There is the logical opening to redress my opinion on Tiger I. If you want to attack my sources, that's fine. But, if that is your only response, then I would ask you to show your evidence that my source is blatantly wrong. As of yet, you have not done that. And, allegations of bias don't cut it. We've already had that talk.
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    This may illustrate another problem with threads like these. That is their basic terms are often not well defined or are subject to debate themeselves. For instnace in the other thread the term "influential" is used. But I see several valid ways if interpreting that:
    1) Which had the most influence on the war.
    2) Which had the most influence on tank develepment during the war.
    3) Which had the most influnece on tank develepment post war.
    4) Which had the most desing elements incorporated in successor tanks.

    The distinction between 2 and 3 vs 4 is between capabilities and design elements. I.e. did the crew layout get coppied or just the capablity operate with the same number of crew.
     
  4. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    Agreed. Very difficult to pinpoint a true definition of "most influential". Ultimately, it might just rest on something as vacuous as "fame" (Tiger I).

    But, it's also difficult because the side with the most effective armor force will ultimately determine the combat tactics employed. The imposition of will of the party with the initiative complicates the situation entirely (Sherman).

    Moreover, it can be said that as a result of the introduction of the T-34, the Germans responded with Tiger I. In this respect, there is an argument that the T-34 was very influential (the most..?). I cannot deny that logic either.

    Ultimately, I just boil it down to the 3 purposes of which the tank was primarily made (there are others, no doubt): 1. The ability to take damage; 2. The ability to deal damage; 3. The ability to provide reasonable mobility.
     
  5. JBark

    JBark Member

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  6. JBark

    JBark Member

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    I appreciate your efforts. Please understand that websites are not sources and when an author puts numbers in a book I am justified in asking where he gets them. to offer Jentz' numbers without telling where he gets them is worthless. If you truly do not have the Jentz book, understandable, (and obvious at this point) then please just say so.

    I would love to address your arguement above but I truly don't understand it. You want to creat a ratio based on 3 tanks as if they fight in a vacuum. no regard for TD's, AT guns, tactical air, infantry or land mines. You quoted a source's kill ratio and do nothing to show how it was calculated with all these other methods of tank destruction. How does that work?
     
  7. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    JBark I will try to address your concerns in your response to my argumental conclusion, above...and thank you for your response. My response is coming momentarily.
     
  8. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Actually, the specific production total really doesn't matter here. What matters are two things: How these vehicles were orgainzed and how they were used and performed within that orgainzation.
    With a few minor exceptions Tigers were orgainzed into seperate tank battalions. There were about a dozen of these battalions in existance at any given time. For the most part, there was typically:

    One weak battalion in North Africa and in Sicily and Italy thereafter.
    About 6 on the West and East fronts. This of course, varies some depending on date.

    These battalions were GHQ troops assigned to an Army or Corps most or all of the time. As such, they often operated independently of panzer and panzergrenadier divisions. This means that much of the time a Tiger company or battalion was supporting an infantry division, frequently operating on the defense.
    For example, during Bagration there were two Tiger battalions in AGC. Abteilung 501 was at Vitbsk supporting various infantry formations there. Abteilung 505 was backing Sturm Division 78 on the main Minsk - Smolensk highway. Both had an initial strength of about 30 tanks. Both were wiped out; Abteilung 501 so thoroughly that there were virtually no survivors whatsoever. Abteilung 505 claimed 128 kills (using MKenny's method this equates to likely about 60 AFV destroyed).
    In any case, the Soviets held the battlefield so their damaged AFV could be recovered and repaired while the German tanks were lost.

    The point I am making here is that the Tiger was largely mis-employed throughout the war. It frequently acted more as an infantry support vehicle on the defense than an offensive panzer. In point of fact, it rarely was used as the spearhead of panzer assaults at all! In the Ardennes Tigers were allocated to the rear of the mechanized portion of the advance both in 6th SS Panzer Army and in 5th Panzer Army. The battalions generally fought with infantry formations rather than panzer divisions.

    Thus, the Tiger's employment rendered it far less effective as an AFV than it might otherwise have been if employed simply as another tank in a panzer division. Its own reputation gave it an aura that led to its being deemed too valuable to place in divisional formations so it ended up as a seperate corps level unit. There it all-too-frequently was misemployed in small numbers supporting units on the defense.
     
  9. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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  10. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    Your information is congenially valuable as always. What you offer is specific antecdotal evidence that the Tigers were not being used as they were originally built or intended. Truly I say that fits right into the framework of my thinking. The reason for this was the production totals, which nullified the Tiger's true effectiveness in many instances, because the German's couldn't acheive parity. Thus, their combat tactics were blunted by their shortcomings.

    Consider armor parity, which is the most Germany could hope for in light of the competition. Would it be a war winner? Not sure about that, but it would have certainly changed Germany's fortunes in the war. Now consider German military planners, they were either clowns or deadly serious men bent on winning a war. Which do you choose? If you choose the latter, then we can assume a production plan was intensively studied and put into action. Now the military planners actions are the best indicators of German intentions and capability. Did they believe making 1441 Tiger I tanks would give Germany armor parity? Probably not because a 50.78 kill/loss ratio is unrealistic. So, its a reasonable assumption that the plan was to produce more Tigers than they did. With a 5.74 kill/loss ratio, a total of 12,747.56 Tigers is the best estimate of what would be needed to acheive armor parity with the Tiger tank. Why didn't they achieve this? If the military planners limited production because the tank, however formidable, proved inadequate in the field to attain armor parity, then we dealing with a bad production design. If, on the other hand, it was because Germany's output capacity was unable to achieve the necessary number of Tigers, then production design cannot be faulted. The error in that case would have been with the military planners, or Allied reduction, or a combination thereof.
     
  11. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

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    I think the key to answering which is better to have Shermans or Tigers is best resolved by putting the shoe on the other foot let's give the US the Tigers and the Germans the Sherman .Well I see a real big problem for the US Army right off the bat one is having to ship those monsters overseas building landing craft to get them ashore ,equipping engineers with proper bridging equipment & recovery equipment and maybe even being able to ship easily by rail??? I mean if unloaded in UK ports could they be shipped easily on British railroads? If I'm not wrong didn't the British have restrictions of AFV width because of railway restrictions?


    Now lets have the Tigers going ashore on Normandy and assume both Armies still have their historical anti-tank capabilities/weapons. Well the Germans still have several anti-tank guns that can take out the Tigers equiping the US/Allied Army plus remember anti-tank guns,SPAT's ,mines and PanzerFaust's/Bazooka's took out over 70% of Allied tanks whereas Panzers accounted for only around 25-30% of Allied tank kills. IMHO the Allies even if equipped with Tigers would suffer severe losses /encounter very strong resistance in Normandy because they would still be up against an enemy with powerful enough anti-tank guns to take their tanks out,even if they are Tigers at those close ranges.


    Now if the breakout from Normandy occurs does the Tigers in this hypothetical have the range to exploit said breakout? What effect does it size have in engineers being able to bridge rivers to keep up said exploitation?
    IMHO I can cee the Wermacht still being viable in holding out till May of 1945 or putting up a formidable defense in Normandy equipped with Sherman/T-34 types but can't see the Western Allies being able to mount an effective offense building heavier types like the Tiger's.
     
  12. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    I can give a reasonable answer to the Bridging part of your hypothesis - most of the allied bridging at that time was done with Bailey bridge and an assortment of AVLBs. While the AVLB bridges in service at the time wouldn't have carried a tiger, it is reasonable to assume that someone would have addressed that problem before D-Day and introduced larger and stronger bridges. The Bailey bridge would have been even less of a problem as it can be increased in strength practically without limit just by adding extra stories and extra girders in each story (the strongest i think i remember ever having been made was a 3x3 in Poland in about 1995 - 3x3 meaning that each girder is made up of three panels next to each other three panels high) - the only main change to Bailey since WW2 was the move to Extra Wide Bailey Bridge (EWBB) which merely replaced the cross transoms and decking chesses with longer and stronger ones to allow larger tanks to cross - this was introduced for the Centurion and Conqueror if i remember rightly so would not have been a major problem to do before D-Day - there is no new technology involved.

    Of course all these changes (also stronger fascines and perhaps larger pontoons) would have been an extra drain on resources prior to the invasion, and the larger and heavier anything is, the longer it takes (or the more men it takes) and the harder it is to move and assemble, but it still could have been done in a similar way.

    Of course if the Tiger was a surprise rush addition to the allied line up, there would have been problems, but it had been around for nearly 2 years by then.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Wasn't one of the reasons the Pershing was delayed and the M4 had so narrow of tracks due to them being at the limit of the width of the current bridging equipment that the US Army had at the time?
     
  14. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    The only gun the Germans had that would have been able to effectively deal with the Tiger, would have been the 88mm flak! The same gun. The guns of the Shermans would not put up much resistance at all. In this respect, the Axis would have been primarily dependent on infantry and air power to try and clear the Allies out of the landing zones. A difficult chore to say the least with a 60 ton Tiger sitting there. No, I disagree with you.
     
  15. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    Of course Tigers have range to exploit a breakout, that's what they were designed for. When the breakout does occur, you're talking about fuel and supply. Fuel was not the problem with the Allies that it was with the Axis. I can only imagine a force of plentifully supplied Tigers cutting through France and straight for Berlin. That part of the war would be over very quickly. So quickly in fact, under the reverse scenario you've painted, D-Day would probably have arrived in 1943.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Actually you are in correct here. Take a look at the engagement ranges that were common in the bocage areas in particular. Indeed the situation is such that the Germans occasionally got shots at the bottom armor on US tanks. Their more limited numbers would also mean that greater flexability on the part of the Germans and less on the part of the US units. The impact in the British sectors might not have been as great bu there was still considerable good defencive terrein.
     
  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    You've left out a couple of important elements. Let's look at them:
    1) Availability. Tigers break down more often than Shermans and take longer to repair.
    2) Mass. There is no way there would have been any where near as many Tigers landed as there were Shermans. We can get into detials on the log train if you wish.
    3) Timing. The breakout occured because the German defences got stretched beyond their ability to react quickly enough to it. One of the reasons is that tanks were available to support most offensive operations in most of the places they were needed. Fewer tanks means a slower initial advance which means the Germans have more time to gather strength, improve defences, etc.
    4) Oh it's too wide for the US bridgine equipment which means problems crossing rivers.

    Note that these compound. The Tiger would have been a disaster for the allies during the Normandy campaign.
     
  18. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    I speak operationally. Of course, their will be instances of effective resistance. Even a Molotov cocktail can be effective sometimes. :) But, when you say "their more limited numbers", which side are you talking about, the Germans defending with Shermans, or the invading Allies with Tigers?
     
  19. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    I would think that bridging equipment designed to handle the Tiger would have been produced by the Allies before the invasion. That would be a paramount concern before attempting a seaborne invasion.

    But, you know, this is a confusing twist. And Amphibing with heavy tanks is another issue, i'm not sure about. There is also the thought that the Allies may decide that a good supply of medium tanks should be used to secure an amphibious toehold and form a bridgehead, before bringing the heavies in. I can see that too. So, I'm unsure. I'll punt the ball back to you on this for now. :)
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    How far back do you have to go to get it though. The bridging specs held up both a wider tracked Sherman and the Pershing. To get the bridging you have to design it, test it, train people on it, distirbut it, and eventually ship it over seas.

    As for getting the Tigers to Normandy let's look at the chain. First of all it's a larger more complex vehicle that has nothing in common with earlier US vehicles. Note that the Sherman was designed to take an aircraft engine and share a fair number of parts with the M3. That means it's going to be slower and more expensive to produce (expensive in terms of special equipment, floor spac, workers, and resources not just cash). Then once you've got it built you can't just put it on any flat car and ship it too a port somewhere. Once it's at a port it takes a crane that's a class heavier than the one required for the Sherman to load it on to the transports. Note that many cargo ships carried a crane that could handle the M4. The same is not true of the Tiger. Once it's on you can't ship as many becuase the Tiger has a larger foot print. When you get it over seas you have the same problem unloading has you had loading. Then you have that problem again loading it up on the assault transports. If in the mean time you want to move it around on land it has to watch what bridges it crosses and it tears up roads much worse than the M4. Of course you can use a transporter but trucks tended to be pretty busy in war time England I believe. Then there's the problem of getting them ashore. Given what the allies had on D-Day I'm not sure any get ashore until the Mulberries are functional. Once you get ashore you've got the RAM problems. I.e it fails more often, needs more (and heavier) parts, more maintenance personell (although some of this is offset by the lower numbers. It also still destroys roads and trails you need to use for you log effort has a problem with bridges and isn't available in the number you probably need.
     

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