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Myths of WWII - Armor

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by JBark, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. JBark

    JBark Member

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    A thread like this was started and suggestions were made that it should be more specific. I'll do that with armor, my favorite subject and one full of myths. here's a few

    1.) It took ___ Shermans to kill a Tiger (fill in whatever number you've heard.)

    2.) T-34's don't burn.

    3.) Shermans are prone to burning.

    I won't overdue it and will stop there.
     
  2. Fruitcake

    Fruitcake Member

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    German tanks didn't burn like their British & U.S. counterparts did.
     
  3. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    And why ?
     
  4. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Poor design of ammo systems in early models & vulnerability to fuel fires.
    Also, having a gasoline engine made it more vulnerable to "brew up" as they say.
    T-34's don't burn from fuel system hits like Shermans, as they used diesel engines.
    German tanks used gasoline engines too, but they generally had tougher armour.

    That's why most or modern tanks use diesel:
    Challenger: Diesel
    Leopard2: Diesel
    T-72/T-80: Diesel
    M-1 Abrams: Multi-fuel (diesel or gasoline)
     
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    While gasoline is easier to ignite than diesel when you hit it with an AT round there isn't much difference. Diesel is used today due in part for flammability but mostly for logistics reasons just like in WWII. The US army used gasoline for it's vehicles. The Marines and Soviets used diesel at least for tanks (including Shermans) not sure about other Marine vehicles.
     
  6. JBark

    JBark Member

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    I don't think that is correct. If you shoot a tank and penetrate its armor hot steel fragments usually bounce around the inside of the tank, often penetrating fuel and or ammo. After this you have fire. Simple. Just because they were German tanks doesn't mean they don't burn.
     
  7. JBark

    JBark Member

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    Well, where was ammo stored on other tanks...the ones you believe didn't burn?

    Brewing up is a result of ammo burning, not gasoline.


    Diesel fuel will burn. Read T-34 In Action by Stackpole Publishing, Soviet tankers talk of jumping out of burning T-34's all the time.

    Which tanks are you talking about? The majority of the tanks firelded by the Germans had armor comparable or thinner than that of a Sherman. The side armor of the mighty Panther could be easily penetrated by most allied guns at normal combat range.

    Most of the well designed modern MBT's are using engines that can run on anything they find, diesel, paraffin, kerosene, etc.
     
  8. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Another myth: The T 34 was a great tank while the M 4 Sherman was a rolling death trap.
     
  9. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Early Shermans had dry storage. Later Shermans had wet storage which reduced the problem considerably.

    "Brewing up" is a tank burning from any cause. gasoline increases the chance for fatalities.

    Depends on what the tank was hit by.
    It's far, far easier to set gasoline on fire than diesel.

    Nope, not correct

    Armour - front - side
    Sherman 51mm 38mm
    PzIVJ - 80mm - 38mm
    Panther 80mm - 50mm

    The frontal armour on the Sherman M4A1 was thinner than a PzIV, Panther or Tiger and the 75mm gun was a weaker penatrator than the KwK 42

    What do the Leopard, challenger or T-80 normally use?
     
  10. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Obviously some exaggeration, but the T-34 was a great tank (even "superb") when it was introduced, and it outclassed the Germans at the start of Barbarossa.
    The Sherman was a very good tank when it first saw action in Oct '42, but it was outclassed by the summer of 1944. Not a "Rolling Death Trap", but the Allies should have had an improved replacement by 1944 (IMO)
     
  11. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Where did you get the 38mm side armour, always thought it was just 30mm , are you counting side skirts?

    Two more elements to consider
    - AFAIK German AP shot had an explosive charge, allied didn't, that would increase the chance of setting something on fire, also a lot of losses were from shaped charge infantry weapons that also have more chance of causing secondary explosions than a solid shot penetrator.
    - After North Africa most German AT guns were likely to get a frontal penetration on a Sherman, the PaK 40 was the most common one and it could penetrate around 100mm (120 with APCR ammo), the 80mm front armour of the Pz IV could be pentrated by the 57mm/6lb but the 75mm of the Sherman had marginally inferior AT performance and it was not a sure thing, against a Panther or Tiger frontal armour they would require a lot of luck to do serious damage if not at point blank ranges.
    IMO, also considering that the AP performance of the soviet 76 was slightly worse than the one of the 75, it's not a mith that the most common allied tanks were behind on the gun/armour race in 1943/45, as they did get to Berlin the disadvantage was obviously far from decisive but at the tactical level it may have meant more losses.

    It was weaker than the KwK 40 and completely outclassed in AT performance by the KwK 42 but that's an unfair comparison as the KwK 42 should be compared with second generation 3" guns like the US 76 or the British 17lb.
     
  12. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Yes.

    Good points.

    Well, it's not what generation of guns they were, but what they were likely to face.

    A US Sherman facing first-line German troops was likely to come up against the Pak 40 or the Kwk 42, both pretty lethal from a good distance out.
    I believe that in the ETO June to Aug 1944 the 76mm Sherman was less than a quarter of the US tank force.
    The 57mm was the primary AT gun, but lacked APDS. So other than some Wolverines & Hellcats, most of the guns of the US forces that the panzers might face were the 75mm or 57mm.
     
  13. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    I thing that Allied armour (British & American) was inferior to the German Panthers and Tigers, but the main tank the Allies encountered was the PZ IV, even though this tank had a better 75mm then the main allied tanks it was not that much better, and when it encountered the U.S 76mm or British 17 PDRs it was at a disadvantage, I heard that the numbers of Tigers availably for action at one time on the Western was very low, due to losses and breakdowns (only 1.534 made in total for all fronts in ww2) so it was mainly Panthers and PZ IVs that the Allies met, and the majority must have been PZ IVs.
     
  14. Black6

    Black6 Member

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    I think you would have to define "great tank" (and superb) before saying it outclassed its opponent. Tank vs. Tank engagements during Barbarossa were not the norm when you consider the vast numbers of Infantry involved on both sides relative to tanks and also in relation to the gigantic size of the area of operations (troop/tank density per square mile of front). The facts that the T34's of 1941 lacked radios for combined arms coordination, trained crews, spare parts, trained maintenance personnel and support assets and their combat radius was constrained not by the diesel they carried but by the amount of engine oil (poor quality engine parts) to me actually made it a poor tank for 1941. Red Army T34's in 1941 were more likely to get lost trying to find the enemy and becomming abandoned by isolated units who were out of fuel, engine oil, ammunition or simply cut off from communication or friendly lines. In fluid operations over great distances the T34 of 1941 could be lost over just a simple breakdown for want of small replacement parts or trained personnel to fix the tank. This doesn't even take into account its terrible internal ergonomics and conditions when actually used in combat.
    T34's during Barbarossa made far better pill boxes than actually trying to fill the traditional role of a tank. The British Matilda in May 1940 outclassed its contemporary German adversaries too, that didn't make it a "great" tank.
     
  15. freebird

    freebird Member

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    Only considering the tank itself.
    it was a great tank that was very poorly used, for the reasons you mentioned. (And therefore wasn't able to stop the Germans)
     
  16. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Late war Panther production was similar to the number of Pz IV (roughly 6000 out of 8500 total Pz IV production compared to 5800 Panthers for the period) so if you are thinking just tanks the Panther was probably just as common as the Pz IV, but if you also consider the very common Stug, Marder and Panzerjaegers the chances are in favour of facing a KwK 40 rather than a KwK 42.
     
  17. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    A lot of objections:
    1) Why should tanks be able to stop the enemy ?
    2) Tanks are offensive weapons,who can obtain results only in collaboration with artillery,infantry,..and if ther is a god logistic system behind them.
    3)(All) the tanks of WWII were primitive machines who were able to ride only a very limited number of km.
    4) As there were only very few T 34's in 1941,their impact on the fighting was(IMHO) negligible .
    In june 1941,there were in the whole SU only 1373 medium tanks on a total of 23000(= 6 %)
    In december 1941,there were(also for the whole SU) 472 medium tanks,on a total of 5908(=6 %)
    In november 1942,there were 3878 medium tanks,on a total of 13798 (=28 %)
    Only in 1945 were the medium tanks the majority :8000 on 14000.
    Of course,for a lot of German soldiers,every Russian tank was a T34,as for the allied soldiers,every German tank was a Tiger.
     
  18. freebird

    freebird Member

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    There weren't "very few" T-34s and they were not a "negligible" contribution.
    Their appearance on the battlefield was certainly significant enough to prompt Germany to start building heavier tanks.

    At the start of Barbarossa there are almost as many T-34s (1,353) as there are German medium tanks (1,403)
    There are about 2,500 Soviet heavy or medium tanks, of which about 2,000 are modern tanks (T-34, KV-1, KV-2)
    The Germand have about 3,300 tanks on the eastern front in June '41, but 400 are the MG armed PzI's, and another 1,500 are PzII or Pz38(t)
     
  19. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    Been reading up of the Italian forces experiences against soviet tanks before Uranus, pretty interesting, even a handful of T-34 could create havoc as the infantry had nothing capable of stopping them, they were usualy stopped by 75mm field guns firing fuseless ammo to prevent the shells exploding before expending all their kinetic energy. So even a platoon sized T-34 group could disrupt an advance. AFAIK in 1941 the most succesfull soviet tanks were the KV not the T-34, a well emplaced KV could hold up even a panzer division, the 50L42 armed Pz III could, with some luck, knock out a T-34 but was nearly hopeless against a much thicker skinned KV.
    But finaly, unless supported, tanks alone cannot stop an advance, WW2 tanks need a lot of maintenance and support, and I have a strong suspicion the average crews of the very unconfortable soviet tanks are uncapable of operating at top efficiency for more than a few hours, so unless other troops protect their logistic tails they are quickly lost to even minor breakdowns in a mobile situation like Barbarossa.
     
  20. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    I have heard that Germanys Allies used 75mm AA Guns to knock out tanks in a similar way the Germans used there 88s.
     

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