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Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by JBark, Jul 25, 2010.

  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm talking operationally. I believe the average engagement range in NW Europe was under 600m and the bocage area of France would have seen even shorter ranges. Furthermore they would have allowed situations where flank shots were likely. In these situations the 75 is adequate to take out a Tiger.

    As for more limited numbers if you gave the Germans M4s and the allies Tigers I would expect the Germans to have significantly more tanks and the allies significantly less.

    While the allies are still likely to win the breakout is very likely to be delayed and the Germans indeed may be able to make a fighting withdrawl across most of France.
     
  2. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    Well the Germans/Italians sea transported Tigers to North Africa. I would think that the Americans and Brits, with their enhanced capabilities in these matters would figure something out. T.A. would be able to help here, I'm sure.

    Direct beach assault by Tigers is a special complication for an amphib op, if that would be the intent at all. I'm not even sure that's the way to go. Naval guns, air power, and medium tanks may be used to help gain a perimeter (toehold), and wait to establish a bridgehead before bringing the heavies in for the breakout. But, that is a quick opinion. I'm frankly unsure without giving this some thought or hearing from others. So I'm punting on this for the time being.
     
  3. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    Wait. Don't be reckless with the numbers. Sherman 75 has to close to 100 m to have a reasonable chance of knocking out a Tiger. Successful shots from 600 m on the hull were possible. And, there's always the chance a Sherman could find itself in the position for a close in sneak attack in broken territory. But, lets stay operational here, or any analysis is skewed with speculation. The operational fact is that Sherman will avoid Tiger unless its a gang up with expected losses for tactical control of an important point, or an ambush is possible. We cannot assume anything like that for purposes of constructing an analysis, however, or we diverge into the area of pure speculation and the analysis is mathematically flawed.

    Lastly, lwd, why don't we dispense with the bear trap and get to what you are wanting to suggest? Obviously, this discussion is coming down to: What if the Germans echewed with the heavy tank concept, and instead devoted those manhours and resources into producing more medium tanks similiar to the Sherman? Would that have changed the course of the war in any way for the Germans?

    This is a legitimate angle from which to attempt to pass judgment on the quality of the Tiger I. But the analytical construct we are attempting is almost impossible. We could use the numbers to gain a statistical benchmark for the approximate size of a lighter German armor force. That could be done. I could do it. But, what then? It's virtually impossible to mathematically predict a change in the war. The best that can be said here is that all things being equal, the Allies win because of material and manpower advantage.

    In light of this, one can obviously deduce why the Germans historically opted to design quality into a smaller force. A failed, but valiant attempt militarily, all ugly political considerations aside.
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Here's a link to a current map of some of the area between the beaches and St. Lo
    <iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=49.343747,-1.053572&spn=0.022368,0.066047&t=h&z=15&output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=49.343747,-1.053572&spn=0.022368,0.066047&t=h&z=15&source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Larger Map</a></small>
    Notice that a lot of the fields are only about 200m or so in breadth. That means if you set up a defense in one hedge row facing the next one the range is about 200 meters if you set up on in the perpendicular hedges then the range should be a bit under that for at least one set of defenders and both sets will be firing at an angle of over 45 degrees of the front. Furthermore when the tank starts to come over the hedge row it will be pointed up so that the hull and belly are the main targets. At these ranges and these situations the Sherman is good enough on the defensive or for that matter the offensive.

    I don't think the Tiger would have been a good tank for the US especially when you start consdiering the Pacific as well. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad tank for the Germans however.

    Doesn't look like the map link worked. I just went to google an zeroed in on an area between the beaches and St. Lo using the satellite view.
     
  5. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    I'll take your word for it. I've heard about the "hedge row country."

    It's always been my impression that the Sherman was produced as the US main battle tank because it was the most efficient way to quickly put a large armor force into the field. I could be wrong, and of course...it worked! Any thoughts?
     
  6. JBark

    JBark Member

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    ...........................
    RESPONSE: No offense taken. :) You may not have seen this line of thinking before, but that doesn't mean it's not credible. If it's logical, it's credible. Show me where my logic fails, and I will reconsider. Otherwise, we are left with this question: Did German industry have the output capacity to produce the required amount of Tiger tanks to acheive armor parity? (the base line number of 12,747.56 is a best statistical estimate from current information)

    This argument you are offering is flawed in many respects, both mathematically and logically. First you off the idea of a kill ratio without also offering a definition. To take a guess one has to believe that each Tiger is accounting for 5.74 kills before it is killed. I have to ask what battlefield allows for a calculation of tank kills while simultaneously excluding all other players on the field; AT guns, TD's, attack aircraft, and one of the biggest killers of tanks, mines. I offered this question before and you seem to ignore it. Please give a definition and method of calculation for this number.

    Next, you argue that for Germany to achieve armor parity (whatever this is) she needs to produce 12,747 Tigers. For some reason you excluded the T-34/85 from your calculations, as well as the fact that there is no logic to the thought at all. Why does the Tiger need to match the numbers of these tanks? The Tiger, like any tank is part of a fighting force and should be part of a cohesive fighting unit with combined arms tactics. It is not meeting these tanks out on an open field somewhere for a duel. There are many other weapons (yes tanks) that were fighting on both sides. Lastly, this idea focuses on the notion of tank vs. tank duels while ignoring the more important job of a tank. The Sherman was a great tank because it achieved so much in addition to occasionally killing German tanks. This has been mentioned before and you have replied that it is understood but I don't see any deviation from the tank vs. tank duel theories.

    If this "does Germany have the industrial capacity" idea is in reply to my criticism of how the Tiger was made and how well the Sherman was mass produced then to me it still reflects a complete lack of understanding of the point I make. My criticism of the Tiger, and just about everyone's that I ever read, was that it was overly expensive and involved too much "handwork." The Sherman was inexpensive and was made so it could be mass produced. Whether Germany wanted or needed to produce 100,000 Tigers is irrelevant to a design that takes too long and costs too much to make. EfficiencyThis argument you are offering is flawed in many respects, both mathematically and logically. First you off the idea of a kill ratio without also offering a definition. To take a guess one has to believe that each Tiger is accounting for 5.74 kills before it is killed. I have to ask what battlefield allows for a calculation of tank kills while simultaneously excluding all other players on the field; AT guns, TD's, attack aircraft, and one of the biggest killers of tanks, mines. I offered this question before and you seem to ignore it. Please give a definition and method of calculation for this number.

    Next, you argue that for Germany to achieve armor parity (whatever this is) she needs to produce 12,747 Tigers. For some reason you excluded the T-34/85 from your calculations, as well as the fact that there is no logic to the thought at all. Why does the Tiger need to match the numbers of these tanks? The Tiger, like any tank is part of a fighting force and should be part of a cohesive fighting unit with combined arms tactics. It is not meeting these tanks out on an open field somewhere for a duel. There are many other weapons (yes tanks) that were fighting on both sides. Lastly, this idea focuses on the notion of tank vs. tank duels while ignoring the more important job of a tank. The Sherman was a great tank because it achieved so much in addition to occasionally killing German tanks. This has been mentioned before and you have replied that it is understood but I don't see any deviation from the tank vs. tank duel theories.

    If this "does Germany have the industrial capacity" idea is in reply to my criticism of how the Tiger was made and how well the Sherman was mass produced then to me it still reflects a complete lack of understanding of the point I make. My criticism of the Tiger, and just about everyone's that I ever read, was that it was overly expensive and involved too much "handwork." The Sherman was inexpensive and was made so it could be mass produced. Whether Germany wanted or needed to produce 100,000 Tigers is irrelevant to a design that takes too long and costs too much to make. Efficiency of production inherant in the design is a quality the Sherman has and the Tiger does not come close to.
     
  7. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    lwd is correct about the Tiger being a bad fit to the US. The Sherman was designed to be precicely what it was. A fast, manuverable, easy to build and maintain, easy to operate general purpose tank that could operate effectively on a wide variety of combat conditions, preforming a wide variety of combat roles. Atributes that perfectly fit US combat doctrine.

    In effect the Tiger was designed to be a tank killer. It could scout or exploit a breakthru or be used in close infantry support, but was not ideal for that. The Sherman was not an ideal tank killer, especially if that tank was a heavy nearly twice its weight, which is why the US pursued the tank destroyer program.

    It is hard to argue that the Tiger wasn't the best tank killing platform in the war, but the US was not interested in killing individual enemy tanks as they had a wide variety of tank killing platforms (aircraft/artillery/specialized tanks), the US was looking for a war winning weapon.

    While I hate generalizations, in this case it is telling, Germany built some superb weapons during the war (Tiger/ME 262/V-2/TypeXXI U-boats) but they were too expensive and too specialized to be war winning. The US never pursued the heaviest tank, largest battleship, or the fastest fighter, but they did produce generaly good equipment that could be produced in large numbers and then adjust tactics to meet any contingincy
     
  8. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    This is a good post. The only counterpoint I will make is that the Tiger was explicitly designed for armor breakthrough attack. In this respect, it was designed to take out enemy tanks and antitank guns/platforms. But, it needed support to be utilized to its full advantage. I could enter the citations, but I think this is generally acknowledged.
     
  9. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    JBark, I will respond to your critique of my argument momentarily. All I will say for the minute is that you did not answer my question. You avoided it. Back later with a fuller response. :)
     
  10. JBark

    JBark Member

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    The question came as an offshoot of what I stated to be a completely flawed argument. Why would I answer it, especially since it contained the term "armor parity" which is not defined and probably as illogical as your argument? I don't understand why you would expect an answer.
     
  11. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I believe 'breakthrough tank' was the original design concept of the Tiger under development pior to the invasion of Russia, but was O.B.E., overcome by events. The need for a tank killing platform, especially in the case of T-34/KV-1, became the prime design criteria. As I recall the original designs had a smaller, lighter tank armed with a 75mm gun.
     
  12. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Then, the Tiger was in practice a failure. Not once did it achieve a breakthrough in offensive combat. It rarely spearheaded armored assaults. I would say the one time it did was at Kursk where it failed to achieve a breakthrough. It might, might, have been used in this role at Anzio as well but failed there. In Normandy the bulk of its use was defensive in nature as it was elsewhere.
     
  13. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    Yeah. So you completely gloss over my argument with an argument of your own! lol its ok and not unexpected. However, I will try to respond to some of the points you did make:

    First show me how my argument is mathematically flawed. Because I use a kill/loss ratio without definition? It's the kill/loss ratio of Tiger tanks v. enemy tanks. What more do you need? And, I excluded certain allied tanks like the British contribution to arrive at a base statistical benchmark. To make those numbers higher would only serve to enforce my argument, which you either don't understand, or don't want to understand. Anyway, a perfect tabulation of the number of allied tanks in the Allied force is unnecessary because all I need is a benchmark, we can throw in a few here and there, but it really won't change the benchmark significantly at all. If you want to attack my math, then show me where another kill/loss ratio has been devised. If it is credible and significantly differs from the source I cited then I'll reconsider.

    Second, you assail my concept of armor parity, a concept that's fairly self explanatory. That would mean one armor force is of equal strength to the competing armor force...and not necessarily in numbers. I'm talking about strength of individual units measured as a total force. In this respect I use the kill/loss ratio to assert that one Tiger I is as strong as 5.74 Allied tanks. Simple. From this I can conclude within a statistical margin for error that 12,747.56 Tiger I tanks would have given Germany parity in armor. I mean, who cares if the number is off by a couple thousand on top or bottom?

    So, I disagree that my math is unsound because its only being used as a benchmark. You just don't like the sound of my logic, but you cannot show where I have made an illogical conclusion. Of course it goes to rebut or prove your assertions that the Tiger was a production design failure. But you wanted an argument, so I gave you one. Now you have it and you want to avoid it with nitpicking.

    The benchmark only gives the mind some grasp of the situation. For instance had Germany produced 12,747.56 Tigers instead of 1441, would that have changed the course of the war? You can't bring Allied combat tactics into it, because parity means that Germany might have something to say about that.

    So the question is still the same: How can you criticize production design without considering output capacity? That's impossible. Is it possible that German planners intentionally limited the production of Tiger I because of perceived inadequacies in the field? If so, then I will concede the argument in favor of the Sherman being the best tank of WWII. There you would have proof of the argument you apparently covet.

    If, on the other hand, German industry was just incapable of producing the necessary number of Tigers, yet they continued to do so, then obviously the fault cannot lie in the design of the tank to perform according to the German warplan. In this regard, by not acheiving parity, the fault would lie with the German planners or with Allied reduction of industrial output capacity, or both. It could have been a simple matter of overconfidence, but I doubt it. More likely they didn't accurately plan to make the number that were needed to keep up with the Allies. A massive miscalculation. So they just tried to make as many as they could and hoped for the best. (my personal opinion)


    It's really simple JBark. Now if you would lend me a hand and advise as to your opinion whether or not the Germans were ever capable of producing 12,747.56 Tiger tanks during the course of the war. Then I'll get back to you.

    Thanks for giving it the good old college try. :)
     
  14. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    T.A.'s post has got me to thinking on the bigger picture. (don't fear, I am starting to get the hang of this, the smoke alarm almost never goes off now!)

    From the fall of 1939 to the summer of 1942 Germany employed the best tank doctrine of any power. They used their panzers to win battles, campaigns and wars. This, despite the fact that often as not, Germany faced tanks equal or better than their own. German panzers were light, fast, manuverable, and reasonably easy to produce and maintain, at least compared to later models.

    Yet in 1941 they encountered the Russian T-34. That meeting led to a gradual and irreversable change in German tank design philosophy, and a inevitable change in panzer use doctrine.

    It began with the Marder concept vehicles. Replacing the turret on a Pzkw 38t with a large anti-tank gun in a fixed open mount. It was a reaonable attempt to make a obsolete tank a usefull combat vehicle, but it did turn a offensive tank into a defensive, self-propelled anti-tank gun. This matters because the Pzkw 35t/38t represented 10% of Germany's panzer strength.

    The Stug III and its successor Stug IV were designed to be a self propelled Infantry support vehicle with a limited anti-tank capability. They evolved with the fitting of a high velocity gun to have a greater anti-tank capacity, making in effect another self propelled anti-tank gun albeit one with better crew protection than the Marder's. Not in itself a bad idea, but as the war progressed, they began replacing tanks in the order of battle of panzer divisions.

    The 'Breakthough tank' Panzer VI was originally intended to more closely resemble a late model Pzkw IV G/H, a relatively fast, mobile tank with a 75mm gun. The Tiger that was deployed, though perhaps the best tank killing platform, was niether fast or very mobile. In many ways a very expensive self-propelled anti-tank gun.

    The Nashorn and Elefant both were nothing other than self-propelled anti-tank guns, with no other realistic use in any way.

    The Panther was also intended to be faster and more mobile than the vehicle actually deployed, but in effect became a Tiger light. The effort to make the Panther into best tank killer possible cost a early deployment and prolonged reliability issues thereby negating its overall combat value.

    The King Tiger was simply more of the same, only slower and less mobile than the Tiger I.

    The Hetzer, JagdPanzer IV/IV L70, JagdPanther, JagdTiger and proposed Maus took the self-propelled anti-tank gun to its farthest and most extreme level. This would be less of a problem if these were used in addition to traditional armor, rather than as the war progressed, used in place of tanks.

    These vehicles had little or no place in Germany's early war panzer doctrine, and could not win battles, campaigns or the war. Germany by choice surrendered its ability to employ fast, mobile general purpose tanks and with it the initative to control their own fate.

    Ironicly the Soviets and Allies embraced the early war German philosophy of lighter, mobile, easy to build/maintain tanks to win the battles, to win the campaigns, and to eventually win the war itself.
     
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  15. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    If it was a battle of philosophies, then we know who lost that battle. However, I suspect the difference was the industrial power available to the Allies. With less to work with, Germany simply had to be much better, or lose the war. It would be interesting to consider whether or not a change in Allied armor philosophy would have changed the course of the war in any way. I doubt it.

    Anecdotal examples of encounters in the field and tactical comparisons are interesting for many reasons. But, if we are evaluating whether or not the Tiger I was a failure in production design, then why don't we just go right to the source? If it were true, don't you think the German planners would have taken that into account and made a change? Ultimately, that is where the war is either won or lost. Propaganda has no value with them. There is no incentive to deceive or let themselves be deceived about what is going on in the field. I am simply looking for proof one way or the other from the ultimate source. This gets us past second hand opinions.

    I've not seen internal reports showing why only 1441 Tigers were produced, but we do know they continued to produce them through 1944. The only evidence I presently see that touches on this is the production of the Panther. Did they divert those resources to rectify a mistake or to enhance what they were trying to do? Tiger II was most likely the result of JS-122, so I tend to discount that as evidence, but I could be wrong.

    This is why I ask the question about German industrial output capacity. We assume the limited production of Tigers was due to the costs of their "complex" construction. But, I have seen no proof of that. If they were deemed too costly to mass produce, then one could come to the conclusion that the mistake did not lie in design, but with the production plan. Why gear your industry towards the creation of a good without taking into account the costs incurred to produce what was required? That doesn't make sense. So the problem was either: 1) A miscalculation by German planners as to numbers needed to attain parity, or 2) the tank was deemed inadequate after experience in the field. I personally think it was number one on grounds that the Germans grossly underestimated the industrial might of the United States of America.
     
  16. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I am not a numbers wonk so I am unable to give statistics but I do believe there are some common sense reasons for the Tiger I production numbers. For what it may be worth to you here they are,

    1) PRODUCTION COMPLEXITY

    The Tiger simply was a more complex design to produce when compared to the most common types it would face in battle, the Sherman in the west and the T-34 in the east.

    2) PRODUCTION COST and CAPACITY

    The Tiger was a heavy tank which required more materials, more effort, more energy and more factory floor space to build. Just as a Cruiser costs more time and effort than a Destroyer, and a 4 Engine Bomber more than a Fighter, a heavy tank is going to be produced if fewer numbers than a medium tank.

    3)PRODUCTION STYLE

    German Industry employed a craftsman/artisan style of production as opposed to a production line type employed in the US and Russia. Speed and numbers was paramont to the Soviets/Allies, Germany valued quality to the exclusion of numbers or a least as long as they could manage it.

    4) PRODUCTION FRICTION

    During the production run of the Tiger it competed for reasouces and materials with the following types: Pz II,III,IV,V,38t and Ferdinand/Elephant or variants/conversions of these types. Unfortunately the Tiger shared little or no comminality with these types so everything had to be purpose fabricated for the Tiger itself.

    5) PRODUCTION INTERDICTION

    German Industry faced daylight/night bombing of Industry and Infrastructure and the reduction of raw materials needed to produce war materials.

    6) COMBAT USE

    The Tiger was never intended to be Germany's main battle tank, but as support unit within the Panzer Divisions. Deployed as a single heavy tank company within the division or as a independant heavy tank battalion. During the Tiger's early production the Pz IV, and during its late run the Panther was Germany's main battle tank.
     
  17. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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    Nice post.
     
  18. JBark

    JBark Member

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  19. Wiley Hyena

    Wiley Hyena Member

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  20. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    When I brought up "Main Battle Tank" I was talking about the primary/predominate type used or the type that made up the majority of types employed by the panzer divisions. From 1939 to late 1941 this was the Pzkw III/35t/38t, from 1942 to 1944 the Pzkw IV, and during the late war period the Pzkw IV/Panther.
     

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