Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by JBark, Mar 14, 2011.
Hence why it's a myth.
In the book Caen - The Anvil of Victory it says that the British junior commanders believed that it took 4 Shermans to kill a Tiger.
T-34s do burn.
The Germans called the Sherman - Tommy Cookers.
The allies called it the Ronson after the avertisement - Lights every time.
Right, but fanboys think this means a Tiger can knock out five Shermans. General Bradley said (in an undated quote sometime during the Normandy Campaign) that his tankers told him it took five Shermans to "knock out a Panzer", one to two to pin with fire/draw fire while the rest flank the Panzer to kill. He said the one or two were likely to be lost. Because it was necessary maneuver for a flank shot, it can be inferred that the tankers were talking about attacking Panther in the bocage.
Defensively 57, 76 and 77 mm anti-tank guns and Shermans did quite well against German tanks.
Just taking the quote out of context means little. How did the speaker mean this? If the lone Sherman is crafty and gets in the right position it can kill a Tiger with no help.
The thing is most tanks burn when penetrated, right? A whole lot of combustible stuff is in those tanks so it shouldn't be a surprise that they burn. I think we just heard about our own tanks more than other nations might have. Maybe the Germans had nicknames for their tanks when they burned too.
Arguing about the flammability of the Sherman tank versus other AFVs is like listening to proverbial four blind men describing an elephant. Everyone has facts but maybe not the whole picture.
There's a couple of overriding issues that IMHO muddy the discussion. The Sherman's reputation for spontaneous ignition was at first blamed on the gasoline fuel. Later theories blame the ammunition storage. Here's where it gets muddy.
As the war went on, the German Antitank gunners were getting pretty fed up with seeing tanks that they had knocked out once already re-appear on the battlefield. This was a great testament to the repair abilities of our wonderful Service troops. Knowing that the only way to permanently take a tank off the board was to make it burn, they started shooting disabled tanks until they caught fire. Allied crews knew this. So, is it fair to compare the burn rate of Shermans to other tanks when the M4s were subjected to a "make 'em burn" tactic while the other tanks were not?
The wet-vs-dry storage argument loses some bite as well. In the "Wet" M4s there was still a dry storage for 30 rounds behind the Assistant driver, just like the "Dry" tanks. Being more exposed and harder to access, it was common for tank crews to use up this locker first. In early 1945 First Armored Group asked their Tank Battalions to double check on loss statistics because they were not seeing the expected improvement they had expected with the introduction of the "Wet" models and wanted to find out why. Come to find out the crews had a bad habit of taking rounds out of the dry locker and having them ready to pass to the loader. These loose, unprotected ready rounds defeated the "wet" design.
Unprotected ready rounds and the "shoot until the Shermans burn" doctrine really muddies any arguments one way or t'other....
Perhaps someone has figures giving an approximate idea of the ratio of hollow charge projectile penetrations to those caused by conventional gun ammo, particularly in comparison between both sides? I've hunted with no luck yet, but the fact that the allies were mostly advancing and the Germans largely defending with infantry makes me think that there is likely to be a considerably higher percentage of destroyed allied tanks knocked out by HEAT rounds than German tanks were.
HEAT rounds by their nature are far more likely to start a burn than any of the solid shots or HESH and even the APHE type rounds if any ever did penetrate would be less likely to start a fire by their charge going off than any shaped charge.
This discrepancy could if it was significant enough explain why the 'allies tanks burn more easily' myth took hold.
Appreciate any info anyone has
All tanks burned because they were filled with fuel, ammo and hydraulic fliuds-a very flammable mix.
The 80% rate used for the Sherman is the result of one survey done on 40(yes 40!) tanks.
The same methods when applied to the Panther wrecks gave a 60% 'burn-rate' for the Panther.
The Tiger (a sample of around 7-memory here) gave the Tiger an 80% burn rate.
The Sherman did not get the bobby prize for the easiest tank to knock out.
That prize went to the Pz IV
Hi MK how's life.
No question the internal contents of an AFV make it quite a good candidate for burning regardless of the round that penetrated, but HEAT rounds definitely appear to make this more likely - perhaps even to the extent that the actual AFV is almost irrelevant in the equation - been searching for data but got none yet from the net from ww2, some vague stuff only from British tests in the 50's. As someone who's armoured career was mostly in aluminium-hulled, petrol-engined vehicles with no fire suppression system to speak of, we were always told that HEAT rounds were the worst thing to be hit by, although I don't remember ever being given any stats or good examples.
Just looking at ww2 photos, it could seem to be the other way round, but that appears to be because more photos that are available online were of just penetrated AFVs instead of burned ones. hard to tell so far. What are your thoughts?
I forget if it's in this thread or another but I think someone mentioned that the German AP rounds were more likely to have an explosive charge in them which could also increase the probability of starting a fire.
What you mention is the APHE concept, although they had different names. These were used by both sides - in particular on the allies side the 3" gun on the M10 and in the field role, but it turned out that the charges in those were exploding on impact, rather than after penetration, essentially breaking the round up on the outside of the armour. The German ones worked better, but from all I can glean the explosive charge was more about ensuring crew fatalities than starting a fire - after all HE is better at putting fires out than starting them, although the damage caused may have been better at starting a fire than pure solid shot. Just the fact that a similar round with a 'tracer' type charge in the back instead of HE would seem better, which even late war the Germans could have managed easily with phosphorous supplies from Sweden, makes me think this type of round was not intended specifically to start AFV fires. Not sure.
I don't know about that. The HE would increase the chance of breaking something open and do a better job of spreading hot chunks of metal around the vehicle. I know both sides used it but I seem to recall reading that the allies took the explosive out of at least some of their rounds at one point.
That was the 3" - they suddenly realised the problem after much longer than you'd expect and started withdrawing it rather than fixing the problem. I still think hot liquid metal is a better firestarter than hot fragments though..
Speaking of HE, high explosive rounds were actually a fairly decent tank killer on their own. Larger sized field artillery rounds could damage or destroy most WW 2 tanks firing nothing but common HE rounds. It is a widely held myth that HE cannot particularly harm a tank and this is often reflected in simulations and games. This belief is definitely wrong.
Very true. (I think I remember that discussion on here somewhere before also). Do you have any info on the internal fire starting capability of large calibre HE rounds on a tank though? - just a guess, but I would think the main damage caused would be crew concussive injuries and major equipment damage rather than fire, even with penetration. It obviously could and would break fuel and fluid lines, set off ammo, ignite paint etc. but I am going to stick my neck out and say less likely to cause fire than some of the other tank killing methods, except perhaps landmines?
Here's a good article that demonstrates what HE does to tanks:
Or, what a 105mm HE heavy wall round does to a Panther....
Great link, thanks - I still see no fire though.
Not knocking HE's effectiveness, but still trying to root out the best single round way to set a tank (any tank) on fire, and whether the greater use of those methods by the Germans for whatever reasons might have given Allied tanks more reputation for burning than German ones. (Which by all accounts burned just as easily in most cases). - I've checked all the places I can remember or find for info but nothing specific yet.
I agree with that although it's worth noteing that the majority of the penetrator from a HEAT round is not liquid. But I was comparing APHE to inert AP. Of course post WWII you could get if not the best of both worlds close to it with DU.
Just stumbled across this small part of the story -
PIAT - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"An analysis by British staff officers of the initial period of the Normandy campaign found that 7% of all German tanks destroyed by British forces were knocked out by PIATs, compared to 6% by rockets fired by aircraft. However, they also found that once German tanks had been fitted with armoured skirts that detonated hollow-charge ammunition before it could penetrate the tank's armour, the weapon became much less effective."
maybe the schurtzen were the key - meaning allied tanks without were much more likely to brew up from a HEAT round?
The surprisingly high percentage of PIAT kills either indicates that they were used offensively just as much as defensively, or more likely these figures relate mostly to the period when the Germans were trying to shut down the beachheads.
Much is made of the impact on Allied armor in the bocage country, but the enclosed terrain and cramped roads must have given advantages to both sides, at least in some degree. The strong performance of the PIAT vs the 8" rockets fired by tactical fighters like the Typhoon is likely to be a another consequence of the bocage terrain. The sunken roads were often bordered on both sides by tall hedges and even taller trees, which were in full leaf in June 1944, forming a green canopy over the roads which likely made indentification of targets quite diffucult from the air. By the same token these same hedgerows and trees would grant infantry anti-tank teams more opportunities to approach enemy tanks unobserved.