German tanks

Non-naval discussions about the Second World War. Military leaders, campaigns, weapons, etc.
alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: German tanks

Post by alecsandros » Wed May 11, 2011 7:33 pm

Hello,
The Firefly was still pretty far out of a heavy tank's league, so I don't think it's a fair comparison. However, in absolute terms, because the western allies used so many medium tanks and so few heavy tanks, the disproportion in "kill-ratios" is normal and logicaly expected.
The usage of groups (Schwerepanzer abteilung) of heavy tanks, lead by senior officers and usualy better-than-average assisted by AA, AT and logistical support naturally added to the Tiger's effectiveness. And, again, naturaly, their usage in defensive positions only favored higher "kill-ratios".
I don;'t think a correct kill-ratio in type-tank vs Tiger can be measured, but overall I would expect a large discrepancy between direct tank kills and losses, because of the reasons mentioned by all the contributors above.
My two cents...

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: German tanks

Post by lwd » Wed May 11, 2011 8:13 pm

I pretty much agree with that. The only quibble I have is that it might be possible to come up with "true" exchange ratios. Interpreting what they mean on the other hand would be even more difficult.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: German tanks

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Wed May 11, 2011 10:11 pm

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ARMY MAJOR Christopher Willbeck:

As he states (Jentz) in his introduction, these "original after action reports (German) are very valuable in obtaining a true picture of the tactics. As written, they wouild have had to meet the tough test of peer aceptance. Because they were written shortly after the events ocurred, they also have the advantage of being recorded before memory became clouded by time. Most of German reports appear to have been written with the motive of initiating improvements to the Tigers or changing tactics."
Am I mistaken but I am the only one bringing forth evidence to the discussion only to meet the opinions that are complety subjective and not comming from any evidence at all?

Regards,
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: German tanks

Post by Bgile » Wed May 11, 2011 11:08 pm

It wouldn't make any difference.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: German tanks

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu May 12, 2011 12:58 am

Steve Crandell:
It wouldn't make any difference.
Yes it will. In case some evidence exists to make an argument against Willbeck (or his sources as Jentz) then it could be posted. So far none has been presented, just opinions of what Willbeck could easily identify as "biased ones".
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: German tanks

Post by alecsandros » Thu May 12, 2011 5:44 am

Hi Karl !

So I guess the addiction is to strong after all ? :D

My impression is that the effectiveness of Tigers is not disputed... It's just that we don't have precise records for each loss.. But overall.. the books and articles speak for themselves :dance:

Another thing to add, is that the Tiger was operational on the battlefield in Dec 1942. For at least 1 full year, it was unrivaled both on the eastern and western fronts... JS-2 became operational in early 1944... PErshing in early 1945... Pretty nice ?

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: German tanks

Post by Bgile » Thu May 12, 2011 6:31 am

I suspect Karl would argue that the Tiger I was better than the JSII and the Pershing.

Actually US commanders in the field opposed introduction of the Pershing, which is why it took so long to get into production. They favored the combination of Shermans and M10 and later M36 tank destroyers.

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: German tanks

Post by alecsandros » Thu May 12, 2011 8:08 am

Hi Steve,
I was just thinking about the psychological impact it had... On the allies... It's always harder for the soldiers to fight when they know they don;t have comparable equipment to the enemy...
The Pershing, IIRC, was in prototype stage in mid-1943... So even if it would have been sent into action by then... it would have been almost 1 year after the first battles of the Tiger (Sep 1942 Leningrad, Nov-Dec 1942 in Tunisia IIRC, though with many mechanical problems...)

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: German tanks

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu May 12, 2011 12:41 pm

Hi Alex,

It's good to have you again too. :wink:

From what transpires here no one has taken care to read Wilbeck's thesis (or Gantz' one for that matter). This is obvious as that there is no literature supporting this "Sherman or Firefly or Pershing beat the Tigers at the battlefield". It even doesnt even take into account that the US tank doctrine never called for tanks to fight tanks, that was the mission of the tank destroyer. So, the Sherman (as with the Iowa class battleships in the naval contest) was never meant to fight and destroy other tanks, that was left to another weapon system.

The commnet about the Tiger coming in 1942 and the Pershing in 1945 is irrelevant: a kill ratio evaluates the proficiency of a system in the way how many were killed against how many it killed. It takes relative results and converts them in an absolute information. Also you must take in account that the TIger was also subject to destruction from the enemy since 1942, specially in the real war front in Russia and not the "strategic diversion" which was the West. In Russia the Germans faced hordes of T34, which were superior in numbers and technically to the Sherman, Cromwell or whatever the western allies have. By when the US get into the war to put some pressure out of Stalin the Tigers already have fought in Kursk, for example, and along the biggest and most dangerous front in History having heavy casualties against experts in tank warfare (the soviets).
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

alecsandros
Senior Member
Posts: 4349
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:33 pm
Location: Bucharest, Romania

Re: German tanks

Post by alecsandros » Thu May 12, 2011 12:55 pm

Yes, of course.. And many Tigers were destroyed by their own crews.. or bombed.. or knocked-out by AT guns/mines/etc. So the number of "killed" Tigers is different from the number of Tigers destroyed by enemy tanks.

But my impression is that everybody around knows this, and other aspects of the TIger deployment (mechanical troubles, difficulties crossing bridges, etc).
It was a very powerfull weapon and that's why we have threads about it, and not about, say, MarkII panzer or Churchill Mk4... The Tiger was a legend.. And still is.

I have read about Firefly's destroying Tigers (Witman died like this), and even about normal Sherman's (76.2mm guns) destroying Tigers. There is no doubt in my mind that every tank on the battlefield was capable of disabling almost any enemy, provided the right shot was fired at the right place... (let's also remember the difficulties pzIII had against T34's ? ).

Willbeck's thesis, if I understand correctly, is derived from Schneider's excellent "Tigers in combat" analysis, and it naturaly gives the same "kill" figures.

I do not consider the russians tank experts at all. On the contrary, their practice of hoarding as many units as possible over narrow stretches of land made them ideal turkeys to be shot from afar by Tigers and Panthers.. It was difficult to miss such large formations, and even if the 88 shell wouldn't hit the tank the Germans were firing at, it still had some chances of hiting other tanks around it...

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: German tanks

Post by lwd » Thu May 12, 2011 2:56 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:... From what transpires here no one has taken care to read Wilbeck's thesis (or Gantz' one for that matter). This is obvious as that there is no literature supporting this "Sherman or Firefly or Pershing beat the Tigers at the battlefield". It even doesnt even take into account that the US tank doctrine never called for tanks to fight tanks, that was the mission of the tank destroyer. So, the Sherman (as with the Iowa class battleships in the naval contest) was never meant to fight and destroy other tanks, that was left to another weapon system.
Well fo course there is literature supporting the tanks of the western allies defeating Tigers on the battlefield. Just as there is for the reverse. The problem though isn't the data or, statistics if you prefer, it's the interpretation or misinterpretation of the data. For instance the fact that TD's were supposed to be the primary antitank system in the US Army doesn't meant that doctrine "never called for tanks to fight tanks" or that Shermans were "never ment to fight and destroy other tanks". It simply means that wasn't thier primary function.
The commnet about the Tiger coming in 1942 and the Pershing in 1945 is irrelevant: a kill ratio evaluates the proficiency of a system in the way how many were killed against how many it killed. It takes relative results and converts them in an absolute information.
It can if you have enough information about what happened and when. But if the tanks are used in different ways, or one is primarily on the defence while the other is on the offence, or any of a number of other confounding factors it can also be misleading. I.e. it is quite correct to say that Tigers while defending and manned by experianced high qualtiy crew defeated opposing tanks more often than they were defeated. Does that mean that the Tiger was a better tank? Well it depends on how you define better. If you choose some reasonable definition then I submit that the confounding factors in the above statistics simply don't allow you to make a well supported conclusive statement.
In Russia the Germans faced hordes of T34, which were superior in numbers and technically to the Sherman, Cromwell or whatever the western allies have.
That is simply incorrect. The T34 was technically inferior to the Sherman. Operationally it would varry with each having edges in some cricumstances and not in others.

Bgile
Senior Member
Posts: 3658
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2005 7:33 pm
Location: Portland, OR, USA

Re: German tanks

Post by Bgile » Thu May 12, 2011 5:24 pm

Shermans and T-34s were essentially equal in Korea. Each could destroy the other at common battlefield ranges.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: German tanks

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Thu May 12, 2011 10:36 pm

Shermans and T-34s were essentially equal in Korea. Each could destroy the other at common battlefield ranges.
:lol:
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: German tanks

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri May 13, 2011 2:05 am

lwd:
Well fo course there is literature supporting the tanks of the western allies defeating Tigers on the battlefield.
Let's see it.
The problem though isn't the data or, statistics if you prefer, it's the interpretation or misinterpretation of the data.
So, Willbeck, Jentz and Schneider are morons that made a flawed interpretation. Maybe you are more qualified to interpret the data?
For instance the fact that TD's were supposed to be the primary antitank system in the US Army doesn't meant that doctrine "never called for tanks to fight tanks" or that Shermans were "never ment to fight and destroy other tanks".
Is that you stating that or there is back up for such a claim?
Well it depends on how you define better
You will define it: two tanks in a battlefied, a Tiger and a Sherman, fully armed, the German tank obviously with a Waffen SS crew veteran from Russia or whatever, the US one with whatever experience they had before landing in Normandy, one or two kilometers to manouver, tell me in which one you think you have a good chance to survive and knock out the other?
If you choose some reasonable definition then I submit that the confounding factors in the above statistics simply don't allow you to make a well supported conclusive statement.
That's pretty much it: a nonsense argument just in order to halt any counter-argument. There is plenty evidence that, because it does not suit you, then it's impossible to being interpreted. Any lawyer just out of lawschool can beat that argument at a stroke: human intelectual activity just as Historians or Scientists look for such data and with educated and cultural methodologys (haven't heard of Descartes or Kant, for God sake?) you can transform data into information the way Willbeck did! Of course, you are not the one that wrote a thesis for a master degree here.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: German tanks

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Fri May 13, 2011 2:26 am

lwd:

It can if you have enough information about what happened and when. But if the tanks are used in different ways, or one is primarily on the defence while the other is on the offence, or any of a number of other confounding factors it can also be misleading.
Of course this comment came from a person that didn't bother to read this before:
As he states (Jentz) in his introduction, these "original after action reports (German) are very valuable in obtaining a true picture of the tactics. As written, they wouild have had to meet the tough test of peer aceptance. Because they were written shortly after the events ocurred, they also have the advantage of being recorded before memory became clouded by time. Most of German reports appear to have been written with the motive of initiating improvements to the Tigers or changing tactics."
Deaf?
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

Post Reply