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Those poor old Shermans - It took 5 to kill a Tiger

Discussion in 'Sacred Cows and Dead Horses' started by T. A. Gardner, Jul 9, 2004.

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  1. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The account is in Memoirs of a Forward Artillery Observer 1944-1945, by James Russel Major. I find it quite plausible due to pressure alone. I suppose you'd have to have hatches open.

    This is from a study called: Pathophysiology of Blast Pressure Waves.


    It goes on to detail gastrointestinal, brain and even heart injuries and deaths caused by pressure, but from my reading it seems that cases with no external signs (bleeding from the ears, etc), the most common cause of death would be pulmonary.
     
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  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    I was aware of the phenomena from WW1. The German block house design paradoxically focusing the shock of explosions into the occupants. Not aware that this was a significant cause of tank crew loss. Thanks for the heads up about the J Russell Major book.
     
  3. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I'm not sure if it is a 'significant' cause of death in tank crews, just that it happens. IIRC he (Major) said that there were "three or four" hits within yards of the tank, but that there was no penetration of the hull. It looked entirely intact. The crew were all dead and unmarked. In this case there was a group of Panzers in a sunken road in a defile approaching a village. 400 shells were dropped on them in a short period of time. None of the Panzers escaped.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If they were buttoned up any chance it would be due to something like monoxide poisioning? Damage to the exaust system might not be noticable to a casual observer and could account for their unmarked statous. I would think it odd that all died due to over pressure events with none of them exibiting the external signs. Do you remember what caliber guns were involved?
     
  5. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Mixed 105 and 155mm. I suppose they could have been knocked out and died of carbon monoxide poisoning, but it seems that it was pretty common for soldiers to die from pressure alone whether in cover or in a tank.
    The event described above happened near the village of Mairy, Lorraine. He describes it as a narrow valley, with the panzers in a sunken road at the bottom of the valley. That terrain may have amplified the effects of a pressure wave, I suppose. At any rate, he just described them as being killed by "concussion" as if was a pretty routine thing.
     
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Not sure it was that common for people to be killed by concussion inside a tank. There are a lot of statistics from NW Europe collected by the operations research teams. Tanks were KO mainly by AP shot. The narrow ravine at Mairy may have allowed medium guns to concentrate on a few tanks. There was a similar incident in Tunisa where British medium guns battered a Panzer column stuck on a road. . .
     
  7. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I'm thinking if you had the hatch open the pressure from a near miss would kill you anyway, but I'm out of my depth here. I know that soldiers in foxholes or in buildings died from near misses. I don't think a tank would be much different.

    Somebody like Ron Goldstein or Sapper who have actually been under artillery fire could probably enlighten us.
     
  8. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I talked to Old Hickory.

    He never got caught out in the open or in a confined space, other than a foxhole. He does not recall seeing anything like it around him. However, he said that even in a hole, the concussion from some of the larger stuff could take your breathe away.

    He was bombed at Malmedy twice around Christmas, 1944 by the USAAF and the RAF and mentioned that the concussions were intense.

    A firm punch to the chest, delivered at the right time in the heartbeat can stop the heart, although it is rare.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commotio_cordis

    Also, see this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulmonary_contusion

    I've seen someone die from a pulmonary contusion.
     
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  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If it were just one person I would have no trouble believing it. If it was a crew and some of them showed symptoms of concussion then again no problem. An entire crew though with no easily visible symptoms is puzzleing though. Another possiblity is an explosion that was effectivly under the vehicle. If it transmitted enough shock through the seats then damage to the spine or brain could result and there would be no external signs. I guess if the pressure wave was intense enough there might not be time for much in the way of bleeding or bruising.
     
  10. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I googled around again using "blast injury" as the keywords. I could find little on armored vehicles but everyone seems to agree that air filled organs such the lungs and ear canals are particularly susceptible to blast injuries from the pressure wave. In close proximity to a blast there is a tremendous pressure spike, followed by a tremendous drop in pressure which is equally dangerous. In effect, the lungs are collapsed in a millisecond and then overinflated a millisecond after that. The result is that the lungs are contused (and the alveoli within) are destroyed. Death quickly follows by asphyxiation, but you're probably unconscious anyway.

    One interesting aside which may have some bearing on this was that somebody looked at blast pressure waves within buildings and observed that the walls just funneled the pressure from room to room offering little protection, while another study commented that in foxholes the dirt tends to absorb the pressure and offers quite a bit of protection.

    In various searches there's plenty of anecdotal evidence. I came across several comments from Soviet sources about large caliber AT guns hitting Tigers and the like with HE rounds and killing the people within without penetrating the hull.
     
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  11. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    HE hits on tanks have an effect of tool boxes/ trackguards ect but full-on hits on turrets or the hull just leave splash marks. One of the 3 Pershings knocked out in 1945 was due to large HE hits and you have to look very hard to find the marks of the strike on solid metal.
     
  12. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Was the crew killed?
     
  13. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Somewhat related to the thread development tubelink , I hope the link will work.
     
  14. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    The link worked for me. Awesome video, Za.
     
  15. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    lwd,

    Harry Yeide's Longest Battle relates to one engagement in which a platoon of M4s from 2d Armored Division knocked out one Tiger through a self-sacrificial charge. The fight went from 2,000 yards to spitting distance and HE shells finally silenced the target. The only surviving tank commander inspected the "dead" Tiger. He reported ZERO penetration from numerous hits and that the German crews slumped DEAD in their positions with no visible injuries.
     
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  16. green slime

    green slime Member

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    They all died from laughter?
     
  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    One wouldn't really expect HE shells to penetrate either. One also wonders how close they were examined in respect to no pyisical injuries. Repeated direct hits with HE could induce fatal trauma in a number of ways. One wouldn't expect to see large surface wounds but things like bleading out of the ears or nose might be present. Injuries from spalling or other items could also be present but not very obvious.
     
  18. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Well, I don't think dealing with charging M4 or T-34s was a laughing matter even for a Tiger crew. Poppy has an excellent post on this thread about Royal Tigers getting knocked out in La Gleize by a M4/M36 firefront. Probably nobody liked getting shot at, yes? :) Anything can happen when a machine suffers impact from high velocity metal.

    The platoon leader was just a common soldier, not a coroner. Nor was it likely that the division was concerned with how the enemy crew was killed, as long as the target was destroyed and everybody could get on with the job. Btw, if memory serves, the platoon had three M4 tanks to begin with, two tanks were lost in the engagement with fatalities.

    An out of print book, Tank Aces, which I gave away to a friend, has a chapter on the Battle of Arracourt. It was probably reprinted (with permission) from Armor Magazine. The tank commander interviewed mentioned that the first Panther he engaged was 2,000 yards away, he knew his 76mm had no chance at knocking it out, and so he called the loader for high explosive shells. I don't remember if he explained whether this was to conserve AP rounds or that, at that range, the HE filler had more effect than an AP.
     
  19. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The guy being quoted below is a ballistics engineer who builds the EOD suits used by the US military. Follow the link for the full story.

    http://www.dvice.com/archives/2010/03/hurt_locker_sui.php
     
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  20. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member Patron  

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    This is a very interesting and thought provoking thread. It does beg a question. If one is killed by pressure waves would some visible sign exist such as bleeding of other fluids from the ears, eyes, nose, mouth, etc. or the rectum or urethra. Might not eyes burst? I had eye surgery where they slit the eyeball, drained the vitreous , peeled extraneous vessels off my retina then stitched it up and inflated it with gas until it regenerated, seems you have clear lymphatic fluid as well as blood vessels in your eye behind a soft opening. something is bound to leak or be pushed about.

    Not trying to be gruesome but it would appear concussion would show externally as about. I cannot imagine one looking like they were asleep after a concussive fatal event.

    You might not look like KB after his fist fight with a bear but would you look like Brad Pitt selling after shave ?

    On the subject of hits on a tank I would imagine, in addition to the projectile make up, the velocity, angle, exact location , on a seem, joint, or heaven forbid, a rivet would have a bearing on the outcome, no pun intended.. I never understood the mantle on the Panther being near a half circle. Would not a shot hitting low be deflected into the hull deck? Looks like a shot trap to me. but I guess it's intent is to allow for the barrel to be lower in a hull down position.

    Gaines
     
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