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Tank radios hear the enemy?

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by ww24interest, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. ww24interest

    ww24interest Member

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    I already know that plane radios in ww2 can hear the enemy,(unless radio silence of course) but what about tankers on the ground? Could tankers hear other enemy tanker communications?
     
  2. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    The American tank radios used pre set frequency crystals. So the only way to receive enemy radio signals would be to capture an enemy radio set. Something both sides tried to prevent the enemy from accomplishing.

    Short answer. The American tanks could not intercept enemy tank transitions.
     
  3. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    And everyone worked hard to make even accidental interception difficult. Frequency changes during operations, use of pro-words, call-signs (which also changed with some regularity), code words, authentication procedures and what not made both incidental and deliberate interception difficult. Equally important, actually, more important than keeping one's radios out of enemy hands was keeping one's signal operating instructions (SOI) out of their hands where all those frequency changes, call signs, code words and authentication tables are spelled out.

    Bottom line, language difficulties aside, unless you happen to stumble on an active frequency, you can't hear the other guy anyway. And if you make that happy stumble, you have no idea where the transmitting unit is, what it is, where it's going, or even where it has been. Talking back and forth, one side's tank to the other side's tank is movie stuff. Looks and sounds cool, but far, far, short of reality.

    Most tank chatter is intercom. Platoon leaders have a whole library of hand/arm signals that are generally used as their meanings are very clear and not subject to jamming or static, so they stand up in their turrets and make any necessary signals right up until the time the shooting gets a little too close, part of the boss' job. His tank commanders only keep enough of their heads out of the hatch to be able to see what the platoon leader might signal. A good ops/patrol order to start with removes most ambiguity . . . one's tank commanders should already know what the CO wants them to do, when, where, and what to do when it all goes in the latrine.
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The US Sherman radios were FM sets, and the British replaced those with their own radios...and, AFAIK, the Germans used mostly AM sets.

    Not a radio geek, but I do not think that FM radios can pick up AM transmissions.
     
  5. harolds

    harolds Member

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    In all my readings the only time I've seen anything on this subject was when some American tankers found an abandoned Mk IV with its engine running and its radio working. An American soldier that understood German was assigned to get in the German tank and monitor what the enemy was talking about. This came to naught since the Germans were using a dialect he couldn't understand. (See R Leonard's post above.)

    As an aside to this, radio direction finding could be used to figure out where an enemy armored unit was. However this was usually aimed at regimental or higher headquarters. Tank radios were fairly short ranged so they may not have been worth the effort to intercept. However, jamming radio frequencies would be a useful way of disrupting an enemy's coordination during a battle. I suspect that if a unit's radio frequencies were being used by another unit (friendly or enemy) then they'd switch to another frequency so they would have a clear channel.
     
  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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    For most of my military service I was a wireless operator.in the British Army.

    I was a Driver/Operator in Light Ack Ack from December 1942 until December 1944 and then a Loader/Operator from January 1943 until the end of the war in Italy when I re-trained to become a Tech Corporal in charge of my Tank Squadron equipment.

    Throughout the whole of my service I never once heard an enemy voice (or indeed any enemy signal) on my wireless set.

    We, of course, were perpetually being warned by our superiors that we should always use punctilious procedure whilst we were on the air because we were being monitored all the time by enemy forces.

    I shall follow this thread with interest !

    Ron
     
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  7. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Thanks for posting Ron...perhaps I can clear something up with the horse in its stable so to speak...
    I keep reading wartime accounts where the radio packs up...I realise this increases tension in the story, but I hear it so much that I am beginning to think that the radios were too fragile for war...did you have or hear of others having continual trouble with their radios?

    Just remembered I worked on a project 20 years ago to replace radios for the Australian Army...we sourced them from SEMENS from memory...
     
  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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    Trouble with radios ?

    Not with the 19 set, which I used both in Light Ack Ack and the 4th QOH in fact it is safe to say that they were the work horses of most of the units in Italy.

    When my Ack Ack unit was demobilsed in December '44 and I was posted to Rieti to be a Tankie I was overjoyed to discover that the Shermans I trained on used the very same set I had been using for the past 18 months.

    The main difference in it's usage was that we used it most to communicate with the rest of the tank crew, whereas in LAA you were the only one to use the set and were the link between your Battery and "Sunray" at HQ.

    Ron
     
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  9. ww24interest

    ww24interest Member

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    There are stories of US fighter planes picking up Axis communications, if you say they were different crystals AM/AM how could this have happened?
     
  10. ww24interest

    ww24interest Member

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    I did some research and found The US side had an army air corps liaison with a jeep that would followed us armored columns with a special radio that could talk to aircraft pilots in P-47s etc. Usually the aircraft would follow US armored columns and knew where they were because of that jeep. They would call them into towns ahead of the armor or if they spotted a big tank in it. The soldiers would almost always see the enemy tank flipped on it's side, when entering it.
     
  11. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    There was an overlap in the frequencies of the AM radios used by some USAAF and Luftwaffe aircraft.
    There were air liaison teams, however it usually took more than P47s to flip German tanks on to their sides. There are quite a few photos of German tasks on their sides. Some may have been blown over by heavy bombs, but others would have been the result of allied engineers clearing a KO German tank that was otherwise obstructing the road.
     
  12. ww24interest

    ww24interest Member

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    I recommend you take a look at the bombs sizes that 1 P-47 could carry. The could easily flip over the heaviest tank.
     
  13. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    If the bomb landed next to a tank - But that didn't happen very often. ;)

    Read No 2 ORS Reports 3,4 and 15 and joint report No 1 on the effects of fighter bombers on ground targets and report No 17 on causes of German tank losses 6 June -31 August 1944
    Its all here http://lmharchive.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/The-Full-Monty2.pdf
     
  14. DaveOB

    DaveOB Member

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    I don't believe those reports regarding the relative ineffectiveness of air power knocking out tanks. I am a experienced ww2 sim pilot and I can drop a bomb within 2 lengths of a tank 10 out of 10 times (that's if there's no anti air vehicles). I will actually hit the tank half of the time. I can come within 2 lengths of a MOVING tank 5 out of 10 times and actually hit the moving tank 1 out of 10 times.
    One German general after the war estimated over 20 percent of his tank losses were to air another said 15 percent (I read that in these very forums). Also I've seen veteran account after veteran account that goes something like " we were shot at by an enemy tank, we took cover and called in air, air came and knocked the tank out"
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I suspect you are over rating the accuracy of those sims.
     
  16. DaveOB

    DaveOB Member

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    Perhaps but all modern militaries use computer simulations for training, air and ground.
     
  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Indeed but the flight sims they use for training are a long way from the games you can buy. Some of the sims are also directed at learning tactics and not so much training how to do specific things. From a game perspective it wouldn't be very fun if you only hit 1% of the time would it? Look at the CEP for Stuka's for instance even in practice runs they weren't that accurate.
     
  18. DaveOB

    DaveOB Member

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    I wouldn't argue against anything you've written here but I do believe allied airs effectiveness went up appreciably as the pilots assigned to do the work got more experience. Maintaining the right speed, dive angle, and dropping from the right altitude are skills that require a lot of practice.
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Team work and things like flak suppression can help as well. Still the greatest impact on armored vehicles seams to have been depriving them of their log support vehicles and preventing or at least slowing day time displacements. Look at the percentage of German tanks lost due to lack of fuel or spare parts in those OR reports.
     
  20. DaveOB

    DaveOB Member

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    Agreed
     

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