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German response to the T-34 scourge.

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by Croft, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. Croft

    Croft Member

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    The German's victories in the early years were not the result of vastly superior machines dominating the battlefield due to massive armor and huge guns, they were due to a completely different set of advantages. They devastated the Red Army in 1941 due to more previous battle experience, better training, better communications (a radio in every tank for example), better coordination of their forces due to the better training and communications, better leadership and above all better tactical doctrine.
    They were fighting T-26 tanks and the BT series by the thousand and they destroyed them due to the above advantages. The Soviet tanks had 45mm guns that could knock out panzers at normal combat ranges while the German 37mm and short 75mm guns in the Panzer38t, panzer3 and panzer4 tanks could knock them out at probably only slightly greater ranges. But when the Germans encountered lots of Soviet tanks they'd wipe them out by superior handling of their own forces. They’d get their panzerjaeger units into action fast while driving into the flanks of the Soviets with their own tanks. They'd use artillery pieces and anti-aircraft guns to augment the fire of the towed anti-tank guns as well. Basically anything that worked they'd do, and they’d do it fast and skilfully.
    When they encountered T-34 and KV-1 tanks they still used the same tactics but with more difficulty and had to work much harder. Instead of being blown up by 37mm guns while still 500 metres away like a T-26 or BT7 the T34 would keep coming closer and inflict losses with it's 76.2mm gun. 88mm guns or 105mm howitzers would have to be used to stop it. This mean’t delays for the Germans and sometimes heavier losses than they were used to. The Germans were also aided though by the T-34 tanks having many breakdowns and insufficient field repair support in 1941.

    In my opinion the German response to the greater difficulties presented by the T-34 of pushing on with the Tiger programme and rushing the new Panther design was disastrous. It took them away from fully providing the resources needed for the whole reason for their success in the first place, a sufficiently good tank coupled with training and tactics, and had them allocating major resources into a quest for overwhelming technical supremacy. I think they were surprised by the quality of the new Soviet tanks and wanted to show that they were not only just as good but with their engineering technology could build magnificently superior new machines. This was a big mistake driven as much by pride as anything and not by military necessity. They already had a tank, the Panzer4, which could be upgunned to destroy a T-34 at over 1000 metres. In other words it was sufficient. It could effectively fight a T-34 at the same range the T-34 could destroy the Panzer4. It wasn’t an advantage for the Panzer4 but it was parity. In fact with the three man gun turret and superior optics of the Panzer4 there probably was an advantage to the Germans.
    So overall this gave the now 24 ton panzer4 at least as great a capability against the T-34 as a Panzer3 with a 37mm or short 50mm gun had enjoyed against a T-26 or a BT7.
    So the basic condition for German success has been reestablished. A basic tank that can destroy enemy tanks at normal combat ranges operating in an all arms coordinated force that outmanouvres the enemy. Instead of blowing away T-26 and BT7 they’re blowing away the T-34, and they don’t need 50 ton monster tanks to do it.
    Therefore in my opinion what they needed to do in response to the T-34 was hugely increase Panzer4 production and make mass production of the pak 40 a national priority. They had also captured around 3000 Russian 76mm guns which could be rechambered to fire pak40 ammunition. So if there was a slow start to pak40 gun production for tanks they could make up the shortfall with these guns. Even with 76mm weapons going to Marders they’d still have enough to fill any gaps with the Panzer4. But basically the panzer4 had to become the main battle tank as fast as possible. All the resources going into designing machine tools to build the Tiger, training workers, setting up plant etc should have been ended at the end of 1941 in return for increased panzer4 and pak40 production. They would have been reasserting their greatest tactical strength of having large numbers of reliable and adequate tanks beating even larger numbers of enemy tanks by good training and communication. By pushing on with the Tiger and rushing the Panther programme they took resources away from this instead.
    In 1942 they still built the Panzer3 as the main battle tank while small numbers of panzer4 with the pak40 provided heavier anti-tank firepower. They still had to work hard to defeat the much greater numbers of T-34 tanks they now faced as the long 50mm gun in the panzer3 was barely adequate at 500 metres let alone at a 1000. The 76mm gun in a T-34 could beat the panzer3 at a 1000 metres. So in gun/armor terms the Panzer3 was insufficient as a main battle tank. In spite of this they still won the armored encounters in the summer of 42 and were able to advance but they won solely through even greater application of skill and manouvering than ever. And it was very hard work. The Germans lost 5000 tanks in the east in 1942 compared to the Soviets 15,000. This shows the extent of the skill advantage the Germans still enjoyed as their Panzer3 main battle tank was not sufficient but actually insufficient against the T-34.
    If instead they’d had the Panzer4 F2 already rising rapidly in production by the spring of 42, the Panzer3 rapidly disappearing from production and the Tiger programme completely cancelled the Germans could have restored operational superiority against Soviet tank forces much more powerfully and inflicted much heavier losses on them than they actually did.
    With no Tigers (or Elephants) stretching their resources they could have built and operated more tanks in both 1942 and 43. Not thousands more in more panzer battalions at the front as they simply couldn’t have fueled them but more tanks to be able to replace their losses and maintain their fighting strength in their battalions. Instead of panzer divisions fading to a few dozen machines due to lack of replacements they could have maintained them and kept up their numbers a lot better. All of them with pak40 armed machines as well. I think this would have translated into an awful lot more destroyed T-34 tanks.
    The Panther tank could then have entered service at the end of 1943 with six more months of testing and trials behind it than it actually had to catch and fix the worst problems like the engine fires.
    I feel the Germans panicked in their reaction to the T-34, and were wounded in their pride to. By not reacting with a simply sufficiently good tank in the panzer4 and playing to their strengths but instead reaching for huge dominance they actually weakened what the real combat power of their army could have been if they’d responded more calmly. Getting the panzer3 out, the panzer4 in and cancelling the Tiger was the most combat power efficient move I think they could have made.
     
  2. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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    I am presently reading "Operation Barbarossa Strategy and Tactics on the Eastern Front, 1941" by Bryan I. Fugate
    His Doctorate is in German and Russian History, and speaks both languages fluently.

    I highly, highly recommend it to anyone interested in this period of history.
    Phenomenal book.

    The only caveat I would have is to make sure you have good battle maps to accompany your read.
    - most pages refer repeatedly to cities and smaller rivers that his small maps can not accommodate.
     
  3. Jadgermeister

    Jadgermeister Member

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    Hate to spoil your fun, but the Panzer III was actually quite equal to the T-34/76.

    The T-34/76 and US M3 Grant had almost identical frontal armor, and the cannon were for all purposes exactly identical in performance. That said, Rommel tested out a Panzer III with 50mm against a M3 and found that the M3 could not harm the PzIII from more than 600m frontally, and that the M3 could be killed by the 50mm regardless of range. The armor quality of the Grant was similar to that of the T-34, unlike late war American tanks which had extremely high quality steel which was 85% more resistant than the high BH steel of the Russian T-34. In fact, even the superbly high quality armor of the Sherman could no deflect a round from a 50mm at less than about 400m, and so to say the T-34/76 could take a round from a 50mm is not probable. In fact, if you take a look at the types of weapons used to kill Russian tanks, there are plenty of kills with weapons well under 75mm.

    All that said, even if the T-34 had been so resistant to the 50mm frontally, the sides were paper to even the short 50mm, and even at ranges of several thousand yards if a round could hit. For comparison, the 50mm hit the test Grant at 1400m HEAD ON and still went through it like butter. The almost identically protected T-34 would not really have been an issue, especially from the side.
     
  4. leccy1

    leccy1 Member

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    The problem with just saying things like the Panzer III could be penetrated at x yds by y calibre gun has several flaws.

    The T34 originally had the 76.2mm L11 gun which was pretty poor, as a result some T34's were equipped with the 57mm Zis 4 to provide better AT capability. The T34 was then regunned with the more common 76.2mm F34 which was a much better gun so the T34/57 production was stopped (to be restarted in a limited stopgap run upon the appearance of the Tiger I until the T34/85 was produced).

    Now the Panzer III as you no doubt know had its armour increased from (frontally) around 15mm for the Ausf A to 70mm (50 + 20) with the Ausf L as well as having its main gun changed from 37mm to 50mm L42 to 50mm L60 to 75mm L24.

    To really make sense you need to specify the models you are comparing at the various stages as they each had different capabilities.
     
  5. Croft

    Croft Member

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    In my original comment I was thinking of the Panzer3 as used in Operation Blue when many carried the L/60 50mm gun. A lot also still carried the weaker L/42.

    I remember reading about the performance of the L/60 against the T-34 and it could penetrate the 50mm sloped sides at 700 metres and the turret face at nearly a 1000. But that hits on the very steep front apron had trouble penetrating at even 100 metres. If you fight the T-34 frontally most of the target is the apron so it would make it a tough tank to deal with. You'd have to manouvre a lot to get the flanking kills.
    I know that the majority of T-34 tanks destroyed in the summer of 42 were killed by 50mm guns, they were responsible I think for just over half of all T-34 losses. But as the 50mm towed anti-tank gun was in widespread service and the Panzer3 was the main battle tank you'd expect that. They just had to work very hard to destroy the Soviet mechanised corps. In fact at times at Voronezh they were shunted backwards.

    A year later at Kursk they lost to vastly more powerful Soviet armored forces which were backed by nearly limitless replacement capacity but still did far better against the Soviet armored charges. They would just shoot them to pieces like a shooting gallery. It was only the endless stock available to the Soviets that saw them through their loss of thousands of tanks. But in 1942 against smaller numbers the Germans were strained, using all their skill to win exhausting encounters.
     
  6. leccy1

    leccy1 Member

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    USMCPrice and LJAd like this.
  7. Croft

    Croft Member

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    I've seen that site and read that before. I wish the author would carry on work on the site because it's excellent, I'd love to see the finished book.

    The Soviets lost 15,000 tanks including 6600 T-34 in 1942, but they built 25,000 including over 12,000 T-34. They increased their total tank stock by 10,000 machines over the year. If they started 1942 with about 8,000 they ended it with 18,000 and that's without counting tanks they received by lend lease so it's probably closer to 20,000. They basicaly recovered to pre war stock strength. Seems pretty succesful to me.
    As a result they spent the winter of 42/43 being able to attack the germans across the entire front, destroying their southern front all the way back to Kharkov. Even if their assaults on other fronts failed it still locked the Germans down in those sectors.

    They were then able to take that huge tank strength in depth into the battle of Kursk in mid 43 and beat the Germans systematically by attrition. They just ran the Germans up and down the front from Kursk to Izyum to the Mius and back to Kharkov. All the Germans could do was run from one battle to another until their own strength failed. The Soviets carried on by retaking Smolensk soon after. There was nothing the Germans could do because even if they inflicted losses at 5 to 1 in their favor in the main clashes the Soviets just reached into that vast stock they'd built up in 1942 and carried right on attacking. The Germans ended up back in Kiev by the end of the year.

    When the Soviets, for all their defeats, spent 1942 building their tank stock up to nearly 20,000 they won the war. No amount of German technical skill or great heavy tanks was going to save them from defeat once Soviet armored strength reached that level. Manstein's counter attack in March 43 was a joke compared to the power the Soviets now had over the Germans, the power to go to Berlin no matter how long it took and no matter how many T-34 tanks the Germans knocked out.

    So while the Germans destroyed 23,500 Soviet tanks in 1943 it didn't take Soviet stock back under 20,000, it didn't save the German army for a second. If they'd destroyed 25,000 in 1942 however and kept the total Soviet stock under 10,000 the Germans might have had at least a chance to survive in the east, as killing Soviet tanks at 5-1 ratios in their favor in 1943 might then have actually enabled them to hang on across the front and therefore mean't something, instead of basically being irrelevant.

    The 50mm gun was obviously not capable of achieving the high enough kill levels fast enough to achieve this in 1942. Tactical skill still gave them victories but they needed to kill about 10,000 more tanks. No Tiger programme gobbling up resources but instead more Panzer4 production and pak 40 production instead of Panzer3 and 50mm pak might have helped push up the kill rate considerably.
     
  8. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    While I like the overall reasoning of the article I have issues with the figures, better research may well result in a similar picture but I get a feeling the author is "mixing apples and oranges", to effectively bust the mith he needs to do better than that.

    Some points that need digging into:

    - The biggest problem is the lack of figures to back the split between "operational" and "combat" loses, reading German tank unit diaries "operational" appear to be much higher than "combat" as long as they retained control of the battlefield, AFVs are very hard to desroy.

    - I also don't like the assumption that "non operational" tank losses can mostly be attributed to tank combat, AFAIK AT guns, mines and, after 1943, infantry AT weapons accounted for a lot of losses so the global AFV losses of the two combattants has little value as an indicator of "relative effectiveness".

    - Before drawing conclusions from tank "production" figures one must take into account the rebuilds, the soviet system did a lot of them as their forward repair capability was minimal, wheter a "destroyed" tank was a new build or a rebuild is not really relevant to the argument but mixing "mission kills" with "hard kills" is.

    Some of the figures in that article are suspect, For example what are the the 232 "flame tanks" ?
    The German flame tanks were mostly Pz II D or E conversions so are already accounted for, to make things worse after the 1941 campaign the surviving chassis were used to build La.S 76 SP AT guns so are probably counted a third time!. BTW researching this I finally found out why they were called La.S, it was the MAN designation for the "cavalry" version of the Pz II with four roadweels, (Pz. II Ausf. D and Ausf. E).
    AFAIK The only flame tanks bulit as such were the 100 Pz III (Fgst. Nr. 77609 to 77708) and some of those were eventually converted to Stugs!.
     
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  9. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Croft, et al,

    Been thinking about this subject and here are some of my thoughts:

    1. Guns and armor are only part of the equation. The T-34 had a clear advantage in manuverability against all early German tanks.

    2. As pointed out, German tactics, doctrine and flexibility were superior and thus the Germans were able in 1942-43 to use inferior tanks to gain the upper hand. However, this situation could not be counted on to continue indefinitely.

    3. German tank experts understood that if the Soviets were able to come out with a tank such as the T-34 then they would eventually develop an even better tank (which of course they did) so that even the existing upgunned German tanks would soon be in a situation of hopeless inferiority. At that point it would be too late to try and develop and produce a new tank. Therefore, the Germans felt that they had to come up with a tank that not only could take care of the T-34/76 but also the follow on models as well.

    4. The psychological factor also has to be considered. Facing an enemy who can out-produce you by many times is daunting. Facing those hords with tanks that have good guns but are inferior in other ways is basically going to seem like suicide. Even if you make a lot of tanks, your real problem is going to be how to man them with qualified, motivated crews. This was a problem that haunted all the combatants.

    5. Therefore, IMO, the German response, was generally correct, though some of the details of its execution were erroneous. Having tanks that were in most respects superior to the T-34 was a good call. It helped keep casualties down and the newer tanks could also handle the new models that the enemy came out with. Having such tanks gave the German crews a feeling of superiority even when facing horrible odds. The final problem was not the loss of tanks, it was loss of trained crews.

    On armor:
    There were three types of armor used in WW2 tanks. These were: cast, face hardend plate and rolled homogenous plate. Cast armor was the weakest of the lot. While cast armor is great from a production standpoint, it doesn't have the strength of the other types. An example would be the German Panther. While its glacis plate was damn near inpenetrable almost to the end of the war, the American 76mm could penetrate the 100mm cast mantlet on the turret. Also notice that the Sherman went away from cast armor to rolled homogenous steel.
    The Germans started out with face-hardened armor which was good against rounds with just a penetrator and perhaps a ballistic cap. When more sophisticated projectiles became the norm then the Germans switched to RHA which, generally speaking, is the best with good hardness combined with excellent ductility.

    My point here being that the gun/armor battle is a lot more complex than stating that a certain gun/round could penetrate "X" inches off armor at "Y" degrees slope.
     
  10. Croft

    Croft Member

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    Hi, thanks for your reply Harolds.

    1. Yes the T-34 was faster and had much better cross country performance than German Panzer3 and 4, especially in winter. I agree guns and armor aren't everything but a 3 man gun turret, a very accurate high velocity kwk 40 gun and excellent gun sights are a lot. They typically lead to an awful lot of burning T-34 tanks. The T-34s speed can't save it from a well aimed high velocity shell.

    2. Agreed. Except to destroy the vast numbers of tanks that they actually needed to the Germans needed at least parity if not an edge in technical performance and with the Panzer4G they had it. Instead they chose to go with the Panzer3 L/60 and rely overwhelmingly on their training and tactics to see them through. The same superiority in training and tactics combined with a tank that could fully handle the T-34 at a 1000 metres would have seen them through 1942 and 1943 with a lot more destroyed Soviet armor. When new Soviet tanks appeared in 1944 that's when the Panther could have appeared, minus many of it's teething problems.

    3. I agree they had to look to the future and the T34/85 in 1944 was that future threat. So the Panther was the long term option to face such a threat. But instead of dealing with the T-34/76 in the here and now with the best they had in 1942, the Panzer4G as the main battle tank, they went with an inferior tank while hopelessly rushing the Panther. The result was an inadequate main battle tank compared to what they could have had for 1942 followed by an horrifically unreliable Panther for the first year of it's service. The Panzer4G was the answer to the here and now threat that had to be faced, and they didn't use it. Only about 900 Panzer4 were built in 1942 compared to about 3000 Panzer3.

    4. The Germans took on that daunting threat at Kharkov in May 1942 and then took it on again across the whole southern front in late June and faced it all the way to the Volga and the Terek. They did so in Panzer3 tanks and didn't seem to see it as suicide. Doing it in a Panzer4 with a far better gun probably wouldn't have seemed like suicide either. Just better work than with the more weakly gunned Panzer3. They basically had to face the hordes with whatever they could whether they liked it or not. So they did. As for crews they certainly did not lack well trained highly motivated crews in 1942 or 43. They lacked tanks. They always had far more crewmen than tanks and even the Totenkopf created infantry companies out of excess tank crews in late 43 and put them into battle with disastrous results. Only when they ran out of fuel due to Allied bombing in 1944 did they have more tanks than well trained crews. In other words a complete reversal of the 1942/43 situation. Basically any tanks they built in 42 were going to be crewed by very well trained and motivated men and with others in reserve. I'm just saying those well crewed tanks should have been Panzer4 not 3. And more of the same in 1943.

    5. Obviously we disagree and that's cool. :)
    I agree that the problem in 1944 was not enough crews and fuel at precisely the time they were finally getting enough tanks but that was going to happen whatever choices they made in earlier years. Declaring war on the USA in 1941 made that the case as the US airforces took away their fuel supply. I'm just looking at what would have been the best decision in response to the T-34 as far as German tank choices from late 41 are concerned. As we all know whatever they chose they were doomed in the big picture as America was now in the war. So it's just out of interest for how they would have fared in the middle years of the war in response to the Soviet tank threat. Under my scenario they would have had the Panther in 1944 anyway and with crew and fuel shortages in the second half of that year just as they did.
     
  11. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    When the panzer force was being designed in the mid-1930s, it was intended to have two types of tanks, a light tank equipping three companies of the panzer battalion and a medium for the fourth. Other than main gun their characteristics were very similar, including the five-man crew which largely dictated the size of the vehicle. Ultimately the nominal light tank, the Panzer III, was only slightly smaller than the Panzer IV, and of course it is usually referred to as a medium itself.

    The PzIII also took longer to get into production. Early models were built in small batches with variations in armament arrangement and at least three different suspensions systems featuring five, six, and eight road wheels per side. On September 1, 1939 there were only 98 of them compared with 211 PzIVs. Mass production was just getting underway, and the cost savings of the PzIII vs. IV was only about 7%. The light/medium mix might have made sense if the light tank had been significantly more economical, but as it was there was very little value in having two types. I wonder if anyone considered standardizing on the PzIV?
     
  12. Croft

    Croft Member

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    I think the Panzer3 had a more modern suspension than the Panzer4 giving it a better ride. But the Panzer4 suspension could cope with weight increases better. Maybe they didn't want to phase out the more modern design as they loved their complex designs and engineering. But yes you'd think they'd just build one tank type with 2 different guns for the different roles and boost production. I'd have thought after the French campaign when they needed to gear up production for the Russian campaign they might have done it then.
     
  13. harolds

    harolds Member

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    I would partially agree with your hypothosis IF when the Panther came out it was up to at least Ausf A standards. An Ausf D would have been a bigger disaster in 44 than it was in '43.

    I do see one problem in your scenario. To get a large number of suitable tank guns in 1942 they had to produce both the 5cm as well as the 7.5L40 gun. They just had so many machines that would bore out 7.5cm holes so if you just went with 7.5cm you wouldn't have enough. It took a while for the Germans to re-tool and make more 7.5cm barrels.
     
  14. Croft

    Croft Member

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    I know, the whole Panther thing in July 43 was a joke. They fielded a tank that literally just didn't work. That's part of my point about the disastrous overeaction to the T-34, they wouldn't even give proper development time to a brand new tank. I was thinking that another 6 months of testing would have shown up the engine fires and insufficiently strong road wheels at the very least. So yes at least Ausf A standard by the start of production at the end of 43.

    I'm not sure about production of high velocity 75mm weapons. If it was going to take time to build up production of them then like I said in my original post they could fit captured Soviet 76mm long barelled guns firing the Pak 40 shell. In other words Panzer4 tanks would have priority in receiving this gun until actual kwk40 production was up to speed. I think they captured 3000 such guns so if in addition to making Panzer4 tank production a national priority they did that in tandem with reboring those weapons it should have been more than enough of a stopgap.
     
  15. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    AFAIK the original Pz III was not a "light" but a standard combat tank while the Pz IV was a "support" tank designed for medium range support fire, this is partly confirmed by the thinner armour on the original Pz IV and the fact that the Pz III started life a few tonns heavier than the contemporary Pz IV. IMO the Pz IV existence had a lot to do with giving Krupp, that had lost the initial competition, something to build, if they had waited for Pz III production to gear up they would have started WW2 with practically no Geman built gun tanks.

    I'm a bit sceptical about the shortage of 75mm boring machines, the 75mm caliber was very popular even before the Pak 40/Kwk 40 so there must have been plenty of those around, by 1941 Germany had access to French factories that were tooled for 75mm production and besides the 75/L24 of the support tanks the standard field guns between the wars were 75mm (though most were reworked 77mm WW1 guns).
     
  16. harolds

    harolds Member

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    TOS,

    Did French factories ever produce guns for Germany? I know Germany used some French 75s that they captured, but I've never heard of them actually producing any such things for Germany.

    Other than the tank gun for the Pz IV, the only other production 75mm that I know the Germans were producing in 1941 was the 75mm infantry gun. Since that was a standard piece of equiptment they would have to keep those machines busy replacing infantry guns. I still feel it would take them several months or longer to properly gear up to produce enough 75mmL40s to equip every Mk III and Mk IV that came out.
     
  17. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    "Light" was Guderian's wording in Panzer Leader - at least in the English translation - but clearly a vehicle comprising 3/4 of the armored force, and armed with an anti-tank gun, was intended for fighting. They didn't envision a "scout" tank; reconnaissance units used armored cars, half-tracks, and the like.
     
  18. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    I have no data on French factories actually producing guns for the Germans, it's very likely they did but not the more advanced Krupp or Rheinmetall designs as those companies would be very reluctant to transfer know-how. I was thinking more of the Germans simply pillaging the machine tools. I immagine the (relatively) small Pak 40/KwK 40 output in 1942 was due to gearing up not lack of machine tools, most of occupied Europe used the 75mm caliber and IIRC some 75mm capacity went to converting captured soviet 76mm guns to that caliber during that period. They also started to mount 75mm Pak 40 guns on old chassis by late 1942 when the supply of long barelled soviet 76mm ran out so there was apparently no big shortage of guns.
    BTW there is no 75/L40, the field gun (Pak 40) with the long chamber was a 75/L46 while the tank gun (KwK 40) with the shorter chamber to fit inside the turret was initially a 75/L43 and then a 75/L48 when they discovered they had to reduce the chardge to reduce jams. Ammo for the two guns was not compatble.

    The tank Guderian advocates in Achtung Panzer for the panzer forces is described as "having at least partial covering of armour impervious to most anti tank weapons (I think he means the front arc here) and an armament of machine guns and a main gun of up to 75mm caliber, I found no reference to a "light tank" in Achtung Panzer, though there may be in the post war Panzer Leader.
    Early war Panzer batallions had 3 light and one heavy/support companies but the Pz III that was to equip the "light" companies with a design limit of 24 tonns in the specification and 19t for the early models, though contrary to Guderian's wishes it didn't initially have a 50mm gun for compatibility with the Pak 36, was definetly not a "light tank" by pre war standards, paradoxically the heavy/support companies received the early Pz IV that only weighted 18t mostly because it had thinner armour despite the 75mm gun.
     
  19. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Source? And would that be 50-mm. L/42 or L/60? My impression was that the 75-mm. guns carried by M3 tanks were more than capable of knocking out Pz-IIIs at extended ranges, and that M3's vulnerabilities mostly involve the excessive amount of rivets and thin surfaces on certain areas of its frontal armor. The turret was weak and so was the 75-mm. gun sponson. I had seen Wehrmacht manuals on the killing power of their short 50-mm guns against M3s and T-34s and they were not terribly encouraging; unfortunately that information was gone when my parents fried the family desktop so I can't give you a citation...

    Soviet T-34-76s rarely fought German armor at anywhere near numeric parity due to alarmingly deficient maintenance and service practices. Many tanks lacked adequate stocks of AP shells in their magazines and a few allegedly fought with nothing more than machine gun bullets. Combined with near non-existent gunnery and driving exercises, I would argue their defeat was extrinsic to the quality of their weapons.
     

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