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shermans

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by forumperson, May 8, 2002.

  1. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I have always thought that the Sherman just couldn't 'hack it' against any of the German tanks from Panzer IV onwards - too little armour, too high a profile, too feebly armed.
    Was this something to do with an American concept of 'cavalry' action - fast-moving with tanks in a 'point'/recon role ? I'd be interested to see others' views on this.

    Anyhow, as we all know it got there with sheer weight of numbers but I can understand the 'Tiger-phobia' in Normandy . Very daunting for the crews and a nasty way to die.

    I'd like to research more about the Sherman 'Firefly' - the British-modified version with the 17-pr anti-tank gun.( One of these, I think, accounted for Wittmann ).
     
  2. sommecourt

    sommecourt Member

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    One of the good things that could be said about a Sherman was that there were a lot of them! British crews often abandoned them after the first sign of an 88 simply because the crew was worth more than the tank.

    However, they often stood up to some punishment. My father was inside one on the River Po in '45 when it was struck by an 88 which bounced off. If it hadn't I wouldn't be here now!

    Yes, it was a Firefly that got Wittmann: it was often assumed it was a Canadian unit, but it is now accepted it was the Northants Yeomanry.
     
  3. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    I think it was a ground unit that got Wittmann and his Kameraden as well though this is still very much up in debate as several French witnesses claimed that RAF Typhoon's with rockets shot the Tigers up. In fact there were several un-exploded rockets laying in the fields. 12th SS prisoners cofirmed several shots into the right sides of Witmann's Tigers as well as the others. In any case it was one of the most fool hardy attempts to regain lost ground, lying out in the open with heavy brushy ground to your right.
    E
     
  4. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    I wonder which one yours was used against--Shermans or T-34's. :eek: :eek:
     
  5. Greenjacket

    Greenjacket Member

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    Don't forget the Sherman Firefly which mounted a British 17-pounder cannon - although it was still relatively thinly armoured, it could fight toe-to-toe with a Tiger on firepower and could also outrun most German Panzers.
     
  6. panzergrenadiere

    panzergrenadiere Member

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    I still believe that the tank crews themselves played as big a part as the tanks themselves did. German panzer crews were the best trained during the war. While alot of american crews had little and poor training. The attitude of Germans crews were alot different the their allied counterparts. I've read countless cases of how german crews never wanted to leave the front,if their tank was in the shop they would rush to the front as soon as they could. Were allied crews would take any chance they could to get away from the front.
     
  7. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    You are right, Panzergrenadiere. The German Panzertruppe were very well trained troops, much more than Soviet, American or British ones. And the fraternity you mention was also real. Men loved their camrades and will fight with and for them until the very end. To their honour...
     
  8. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I would say that the best-known Sherman in Europe is the one standing in the Place McAuliffe at Bastogne.

    Forum members may be interested to know that three Belgian enthusiasts, Jacques Degive, Robert Fergloute & Roger Marquet have carried out some extraordinary research about this tank, its story, crew.. everything !

    They've published the results in a fascinating little booklet entitled 'The Sherman at McAuliffe Square in Bastogne - The True Story' which has been privately published and is available from the shop at the Bastogne Historical Centre.

    It's a really absorbing story - could have been specially written for guys like us !! ;)
     
  9. sommecourt

    sommecourt Member

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  10. Major Destruction

    Major Destruction Member

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    How can you forget about air power? It was the single most important element in the war in western Europe.

    After Falaise, how often were allied tanks opposed by serious numbers of German tanks?

    Also, remember that as the German forces retreated they left behind those tanks that broke down. Therefore the odds against the German forces got worse as the war progressed.
     
  11. Major Destruction

    Major Destruction Member

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    Such a gross oversimplification!

    British tank crews in 1940 were probably the best trained of any tank crews anywhere.
    Canadian tankers from the Three Rivers or Calgary Regiments were at the very least equal to, and in most cases superior to any of their opponents in the Hermann Goering Division.

    It is absolute nonsense to suggest that Allied tank crews or indeed Allied soldiers were any less willing to stick it to the enemy than the other guys.

    I'll not continue this message to avoid getting really angry.
     
  12. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    They were very brave and good fighting men and maybe were better trained than average German units in late 1944.

    But I cannot imagine some guys who have just come out from school being better trained (perhaps) but being more experienced than a German Panzer man who has being facing and destroying monstrous T-34s and KV-1s since 1941... :rolleyes:
     
  13. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    But I agree about your point on the air power. It was the Western Allies main advantage and favourable thing. It was their most important contribution to the Allied war effort. Without it, no D-day, no Western front and a red western Europe... :eek:

    And I reconsider about the Sherman tank. It was a really good one, depending on the circumstances, of course. It had these main advantages over German more advanced tanks: reliability, mobility, easy manteinance and large numbers. Those made the Sherman a very good tank, indeed. A machine you could rely on sometimes.

    But if you face it with a German Panzer in close combat... Poor Sherman... :rolleyes:
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I must agree with Friedrich on the tank crew issue here. Those Germans who had fought tough and bitter fights in the eastern front thought that in the west the enemy was "easier" to handle. I believe the allied did their best but the battle in the east was the hardest place to get your education for the art of war.

    Just like PanzerMeyer said: "Little fish" which meant that he did not think that much of the allied capability to battle.

    And of course if you had such power with planes I think it was as well understandable that whenever you noticed a "Tiger" or a "88" you called for help from the planes, but that may make the troops look a bit weak as they often pulled back when Germans were in sight.
     
  15. Major Destruction

    Major Destruction Member

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    Yes, of course we can argue this point around and around. It has been going on for years.
    Strategically, numbers count more than quality. See the perfect example of this is the battle of Kursk (another continuing debate) where even though the Soviets lost many more tanks than the Germans the outcome was such that any hope for a renewed German advance into Russia was lost forever. Numbers beat out quality.

    Not that quality was an issue. The panthers that were committed to Kursk were plagued with problems. Did any of them actually take part in the fight or did they all break down beforehand?

    Quality was a problem for the early British tanks, too. Such was the craftmanship of the hand-built tanks of 1939 that often battlefield repairs could not be easily effected without special tools.

    German engineering is often credited with being superior to that of the Allied nations. Certainly, later in the war, the German tanks had better guns and better armour design, but the price they paid for this quality was fewer numbers and more breakdowns. The heavier German tanks needed better engineering. The panther, arguably the best tank of the war, went through a long period of on-the-job testing. The Tiger II never did overcome the problems that made it so prone to breaking down that those used in the Bulge offensive were placed at the rear of the advance.

    In the summer offensive of 1940, it was the inferior PzI and PzII and Pz38(t) used in great numbers which defeated the better armed and armoured Matildas, Somuas and B1's of the Allied armies which had been committed piecemeal. It was these same small, light tanks (the PzI was not much bigger than a landrover) which drove into Czechoslovakia in 1938. They had broken down in such large numbers that for the victory parade in Prague, those that were present were told to drive around the block and parade again in order to make the numbers appear larger.

    The crew must take all the credit for the performance of a machine. Without a skilled crew, the machine is just so much scrap metal.

    There is plenty of documentation of Allied forces shooting down German panthers and tigers using Allied tanks. There is also enough documentation to support the premise that it was not the Panzer which would cause Allied tanks their greatest threat but anti-tank guns.

    The German ace Wittmann considered that a destroyed ATG was worth at least 2 destroyed tanks. While on the subject of Wittmann, there can be little doubt that he was as skilled a tank commander as ever there was, but on the thread

    http://www.ww2forums.com/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=15;t=000037
    there is an account posted on August 6 which describes how a troop of British Shermans destroyed a troop of tigers.

    Poor Sherman ?

    Colonel Bruce Clarke, commander of US 4th AD, Combat Command A, said in August 1944, "We received the other day a battle experience note in which some joker wrote that the American Sherman with its 75 is no match for the German 45 ton Panther with its heavy armour. That would have scared hell out of us if we hadn't just knocked out more than a hundred panthers with our Shermans and tank destroyers in a 3 day battle"

    The Sherman, T-34 and Cromwell may not have been as 'perfect' as the better proportioned panther or tiger but they were reliable and available in large numbers. That, and the quality of the Allied tank crews [​IMG] was the deciding factor.

    [ 17. November 2002, 11:33 AM: Message edited by: Major Destruction ]
     
  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Major, we discussed this in the Kursk section in August-September I think. If I remember right it was some 40 panthers that took part in the operation Zitadelle, the rest failed due to mechanical problems.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Panzerknacker

    Panzerknacker New Member

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    The German tanks overall definetley performed better, but the Shermans in numbers did get the job done in the long run...
     

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