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The LVT is used on D-Day

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by T. A. Gardner, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    I'm at work so I don't have my books handy to provide you with specifics so I'll reply too the easy points first and the more in depth points later.

    Carl W Schwamberger wrote:

    I'm not trying to have it both ways. When I mentioned the swamping issue we were discussing troop carrying LVT's, specifically those used at Tarawa. What I said in reply to your statement was:
    We were discussing troop carrying LVT's (amtracs) they have an open cargo bay and were vulnerable to swamping in rough seas.

    [​IMG]

    This picture is from Tarawa and shows the two types of LVT used there. The LVT in the foreground is an LVT2 the amtrac behind it (#49) is an LVT1. Notice that they have an open cargo/troop compartment and though not evident in this picture, low freeboard.

    [​IMG]

    This LVT2 shown during the Saipan assault illustrates the low freeboard.

    What I suggested using was an LVT(A)4 type (amtank) and I specifically used that term.
    [​IMG]

    This is an LVT(A)4. Note the superstructure supporting the turret and enclosing the open compartment. Hence less likely to ship water. Therefore less susceptable to swamping, especially when compared to the DD Sherman. Also being designed as an amphibious vehicle from the start it has better performance in the water than the DD. The DD did have swamping problems, so suggesting that replacing the DD's with LVT(A)4's to provide direct fire support for the initial landings at Omaha is not contradictory to the rest of my argument. What you are doing is comparing apples to oranges.

    I too own Alexander's "Utmost Savagery" and in my opinion it is the gold standard for the history of the Battle of Tarawa and Robert Sherrods, "Tarawa: The Story of a Battle" the best eyewitness account. I have the Marine Corps Historical Monographs also, in fact I thought I had just about every book published on Tarawa. I am unaware of Sherrwoods work, is it good?
    "Bloody Tarawa" is by Eric Hammel and Lane not Sammel, I assume that was a typo. Anyway Hammel writes a lot of Marine Corps history and does a pretty good job (got this one also). I wasn't too impressed with "One Square Mile of Hell: The Battle for Tarawa".

    We agree that the initial wave of troops that landed at Tarawa landed relatively intact and I have so stated.

    If you take away the reef at Tarawa and put the troops into LCVP's instead, the units of the first wave would have arrived at the seawall just as intact as they did historically. So it doesn't necessarily translate directly to your supposition about the LVT's employment at Omaha.

    Gotta work, later.
     
    formerjughead likes this.
  2. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    This has all been covered very well. Let me add a few ideas. Having been sitting on the Normandy Beaches since 1940, I would be willing to bet the Germans has the beaches pretty well zeroed in for mortars and artillery. A German observer just needs to call in the map grid, and time the command to fire with the tracks touching sand.

    I do think LTV's would have worked well in some areas of the assault, but blown to hell and gone during others.
     
  3. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    If this was the case then it would have been no different historically as the same thing could have been done to landing craft.
     
  4. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    I have often wondered what the German mortars & field artillery did not massacre the infantry piled up on the beach. The crowd along the seawall and edge of the dunes was very dense for several hours. similarly the men moving from the landing craft to the dunes, bluffs and beach exits through the entire day were equally vulnerable. But, casualties were not of the size a intense artillery attack would create.

    So far my search through translations of German eyewitness accounts have turned up just two vague possibilities. One is that when the naval gunfire shifted from the beach exits and fortifications to behind the bluffs crests as the assualt started it cut the telephone wires to the artillery, and suppressed some of the artillery batteries. At around 08:30 the German regimental commander responsible for the Omaha beach area reported to the division commander that the telephone links to many of his companies were dead. That suggests the communications system was breaking down. And it is possible the local commanders at the company level were either dead or retreating. Any and all of these would greatly reduce the effectiveness of the mortar/artillery fire.

    The second item concerns a story that circulates through the books. The Germans moved the bulk of the cannon ammunition to protected bunkers or dumps several kilometers to the rear. Only a limited quantity of less than 100 rounds per gun were in the battery positions that morning. I've not yet run across any first hand evidence of what the German artilley actually had on hand to confirm this.

    The bottom line is the German artillery disrupted the landing and movement ashore, but halted it in only a few places for a hour or two. The casualties on Omaha beach while bad were nowhere near what they could have been had the German artillery been attacking at its full potiential. Something or several things prevented that, but the common books dont clearly identify exactly what happened.
     
  5. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    That was a typo

    Yes another. I‘ve reduced my practice of drafting these posts on a text document & editing them before posting.

    Not read that last.

    Quote:
    Ah, detante is evident!

    This distorts the comparison. The LCVP at Omaha did not & could not run across the 300-400 meters of dry sand exposed at 06:30 to the shingle/seawall there. The reason I originally (long before this thread) compared Betio specifically with Omaha is because in both cases the LCVP or other boats could not carry the intial assualt wave to the first covered terrain, the sea wall. On Betiio there was 600+ meters of reef. At Omaha there was 400 meters of flat beach exposed by the low tide.

    I’d suspect the LVTA-4 would be better on the beach itself for fire support, than the DD. The short gun vs the longer gun of the M4 tank vs the concrete gun bunkers is a question. Once over the shingle the usefullness of the LVTA-4 is less than the M4 tank.

    All my experience is with the LVT/AAV - 7 & I’ve nothing direct for the sea worthyness of the LVT-2. There seem to have been a few with either a engineer unit, or a beach support or logistics unit. Have not found any descriptions of how those did in the water off Omaha beach on 6th June. Balkoski ‘Omaha Beach’ quotes Army and Navy reports that: the DD tanks could not remain afloat in a Force 3 wind/sea condition; and that the conditions at the time & location of the DD tank launch was estimated at Force 4.

    Off the other four beaches the DD tanks had varying degrees of sucess tho not the complete failure of Omaha. Some swam ashore, some came in on the LCT.
     
  6. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    Carl W Schwamberger wrote:

    No problem, in the first case I thought there was a book about the battle I'd missed and wanted to look into it.
    In the second case, welcome to the club, been there done that (made typo's). ;)

    No more distortion than comparing running across 400 meters of beach to wading through 600+ meters of water (initially chest deep and deeper). Besides I'm sure crossing the 400 meters of sand was done in rushes to minumize exposure to fire, not much you can do wading in through a lagoon.

    Agreed, I'd say this is a fair and accurate statement.

    If there's one thing I know it's my amtracs, I've been engrossed with them since I was in third grade and went to the old amtrac display they used to have at Camp Pendleton, when my dad was stationed there. They even used to have My Delores there, an LVT1 numbered #49 for the assault, the first amtrac ashore at Tarawa. They returned her to the states for a bond tour and she was later retained at Pendleton.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    MY Delores at Tarawa.
    An interesting trivia tidbit. My Delores appears in the Tarawa assault scene from "Sands of Iwo Jima".

    I'll agree with this, but landing a DD in an LCT is a waste, since that's normally how they landed a regular Sherman.

    I can agree with what you wrote here, especially the part I bold faced.

    Not so sure about this part:
    But you did state that this was another individuals personal judgement, and I accept it as such.

    What I was responding to was where you originally wrote:

    The way it was originally stated was as a fact. That's why I wrote:

    "I haven't seen this comparison anywhere before, I'd be interested in your source, not because I doubt it, but because I'd be interested in reading the comparison. I've always read that Tarawa had the highest density of defensive weaponry of any amphibious landing."

    Now that you have clarified that it was an opinion, I can accept that. Most sources emphasize the density of the defenses at Tarawa but I've never seen it compared directly to Omaha. If you had such a source, I was interested in reading it. I haven't come to the same conclusion from my readings, but they did do an indepth study of Tarawa's defenses after the battle. I haven't come across a similarly indepth study of Omaha's defenses, so I have to go with my impressions from reading accounts of that battles. I will, however, keep an open mind to additional information.

    USMCPrice wrote:

    In this statement I used an incorrect word. I should have said currents and not tides. Tides being the rise and fall of water and currents being the continuous, directed movement of water. The neap tide at Tarawa was precisely the reason they decided to use amtracs at Tarawa. Prior to it's employment there it had served strictly as a logistics vehicle. It was currents and wind not tides that I was referring to. Sorry for the confusion.
     
  7. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    Another possibility with the LVT was using it to land at other than low tide or, on beaches nominally inaccessable to landing craft to allow troops to flank German strong points. The Germans did not defend every inch of coast equally by any means. They were aware of the limitations of Allied landing craft in terms of beach gradients etc. Therefore they concentrated defenses on beaches that could be used for such landings.
     
  8. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    Now the flanking/inaccessable beach idea is a very good one. I'm not sure about the high tide part because many of the anti-boat obstacles would be effective against amtracs as well.
     
  9. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    There are quite a few photos of the beach taken that day. They show no cover between the waters edge & the shingle other than the obstacles. Not a dune, rock, patch or grass, or log. The obstacles are not as dense as folks frequently imagine and their components are seldom more than 30 cm thick. In Balkoski's book 'Omaha Beach' there is a photo showing a diagonal view from the seawall to the water, taken near Exit E1, the St Laurent Draw, at low tide. In the view of 400 meters to the water & 1000+ meters along the beach there is a single wrecked tank & some forty obstacles in view. Not much cover for 'rushing' between. & the tank was not present when the first wave arrived. So no its not precisely the same as wading across the reef. But still its 400 meters of very exposed ground to cover against unsuppressed MG fire. In this case the first wave assualt battalions took heavy casualties and reached the seawall disorganized. In the case of Betio the first assualt wave reached the seawall with its organization intact, and equally important the critical NGF spotting teams were able to direct fire. Omaha Beach the spotting teams were eliminated and no effective control from the beach occured for over two hours.





    The descriptions I have describe the current as parallel to the beach. thats very common. I'd have to dig to recall any details of the direction & speed at 06:30. Inshore currents are normal & can misplace your landing craft by thousands of meters if the crews are not well trained in this bit of navigation.

    Alexander gives other reasons for choosing the LVT for the assualt on Betio. He also describes the neap or 'failing' tide as a suprise to the assualt force, all the way up to corps level.

    There are times I regard the whole DD thing as a waste. The real advantage (vs theoretical) is not clear to me.

    Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner
    Another possibility with the LVT was using it to land at other than low tide or, on beaches nominally inaccessable to landing craft to allow troops to flank German strong points.


    I wonder what the defense along the Douve & Vrie river estuaries were like? LVT in the streets of Carentan at 07:30 would catch the Germans attention. :D A look at the maps & terrain along side the Vrie estuary would be interesting. If lightly defended it would potientially flank the defense to the east.
     
  10. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Just to keep things confusing, there are also tidal currents. The effect of the tide rising and falling is that a mass of water flows into and out of coastal areas, estuaries, even rivers. This may be superimposed on the normally occurring currents. For example, in a river a strong high tide can make water flow upstream, then reverse as the tide ebbs and the river's normal flow takes effect.
     
  11. Rstanleysd

    Rstanleysd New Member

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    The general who was ignored was maj General Colette . In fact he said famously that after a briefing of his recommendations to the british one general said "if we need to invade an island we"ll let you know"
     

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