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The Tiger/Sherman Ratio [Assistance Request]

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by Otto, Jun 1, 2011.

  1. SteveM

    SteveM Member

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    Indeed, German engineering was it's own worst enemy -

    German Western Front Sample of Tank Losses by Cause 1944 to 1945:

    [TABLE="align: center"]
    [TR]
    [TD="colspan: 2"]Total Tank Losses Sampled During 1944-45: 1198[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]Cause[/TD]
    [TD]Number/% Destroyed [/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]Mechanical Failure[/TD]
    [TD]522/44%[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]Enemy Gunfire[/TD]
    [TD]520/43%[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]Air Attack[/TD]
    [TD]91/7.5%[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]Hollow Charge Weapons[/TD]
    [TD]53/4%[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]Miscellaneous, Enemy Action[/TD]
    [TD]9/0.7%[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR]
    [TD]Mines[/TD]
    [TD]3/0.2%[/TD]
    [/TR]
    [/TABLE]

    Table results comes from my book (see signature line below) with one of my sources for the data being Roman Johann Jarymowycz, Tank Tactics From Normandy to Lorraine, (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2001)
     
  2. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Yes at first blush it looks impresive. The inference is plain. A full 57% of German tanks were so well armoured that they could not be touched by AP.
    However a single table means nothing unless you establish 'the norm' and it should be compared to Allied losses.
    In NW Europe 1944-45 from a sample of 5691 Allied tank casualties a grand total of 2946 were victims of gunfire, 52%!
    Can we assume that 48% of Allied tanks were so powerful that even the mighty '88' could only bag half of them?
    At the end of the day an average of 43% of German tanks and 52% of Allied tanks were gunfire casualties.
    The difference is 9% and the reader can make his own judgement of how significant the gap is.


    The source for Allied tank casualties is ORT-117 Table II. This is the same source used by Jarymowycx and thus the source you posted.

    I note that you use the table you posted above in your book so can you tell us why you used it and the conclusions the book draws from the table?
    Where you aware of the comparable Allied figures?
     
  3. SteveM

    SteveM Member

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    Yes. And consequently, and quite actually, my contextual take is not to emphasize the superiority of German tanks in armor and armament, but, in fact, as a supporting point to the position that one of the reasons the Wehrmacht was in such a dreadful state by 1944-45 was from a qualitative decline - due in part to its inability to effectively wage a war of maneuver.

    Thus, unlike earlier in the war, when the German army deployed tanks that were relatively reliable, mobile and thus better suited to engaging in mobile warfare; by the time the Allies had landed in Northwest Europe the German tanks, though better protected and harder hitting than their Allied peers, were entirely symbolic of this overall German decline. Accordingly, and unlike the Panzer III or IV, or Sherman or T-34 for that matter, when a Panzer V or VI was forced to maneuver over any kind of distance they invariably broke down at a significant rate. The mechanical unreliability of late war German armor played a role, though by all means not the only role, in further undermining the German army's ability to remain competitive against enemies who were qualitatively outstripping it in regards to the very method of fighting that had been the key to its earlier successes. Therefore my point had very little to do with the comparative ability of different tanks to trade punishment, but goes more to larger issues regarding the quantitative vs. qualitative analysis and research that fuels my work.
     
  4. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    The inference is plain. A full 57% of German tanks were so well armoured that they could not be touched by AP.

    I don't see anyone trying to make that inference, probably because it's utter nonsense. A tank breaking down tells us nothing about how vulnerable it would have been to gunfire or other hostile action. Indeed the figures show that gunfire - mainly AP - was the most effective tank killer, accounting for 77% of losses to enemy action in the period.

    Tanks are rarely literally "destroyed" by mechanical failure; this category reflects the inability of recovery and repair crews to access the broken-down vehicles. Granted the later German vehicles were more prone to breakdowns, but the increase in actual lost tanks compared to earlier in the war mainly signifies that the Germans of 1944-45 were in retreat.
     
  5. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Then you should get about more.

    Cherry picking. There are some studies that show this % but they are countered by others that show a lower %. When combined into the sample of over 5000 tanks the figure was just over 50%.
    ORT-117 Table 1 column 12 lists the result of 7 samples. 6 from 1944/45 and one (Canadian) from 1942 ,
    Sample size in brackets and AP totals as a % of casualties:

    US 1944 (1891) 47%
    US 1945 (2579) 50%
    UK 1944 (1678) 50%
    UK 1945 (582) 54%
    Can 1942 (30) 73%
    Can 1944 (473) 55%
    Can 1945 (342) 33%

    Before you get too carried away with the Canadian 1942 total remember it was Dieppe.

    The same survey notes the Allied 'AP hit' % for the war overall (10,500 sample) as 55%. Broken down as 50% NW Europe, 80% N.Africa, 45% Italy and 35% Pacific.

    'This period' for the Allies usualy means picking the worst data from the worst survey and using that as the norm. When the German figures are introduced the figures for August are used because they are the most favourable for the German AP ratio.



    Which is why the term 'casualty' is used.
     
  6. ptimms

    ptimms Member

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    My apologies Steve, I misunderstood and thought the table came from it not some of the data.
     
  7. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Let me clear up any confusion. The data in this one table is indeed republished by Jarymowycx in 2001 (page 269 'Tank Tactics') but the source of the data is ORT-117 by Coox and Naisawald. The data is much reproduced but it was all compiled and published in 1951.
     
  8. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    The first tank to enter Batogne when the 4[SUP]th[/SUP] Armoured Division succeeded in breaking through was a M4A3E2 Jumbo called ‘’Cobra King’’. Has anyone got any data on how many Jumbos were lost to enemy fire (I think there were about 254 produced), and is it true that the Germans had trouble dealing with these up-armoured Sherman’s, could they take the same punishment that the British Churchill.
     
  9. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Sorry for the late reply but I don't think that kind of statistics is available unless you go straight to the source and make the caculations yourself. Most US tank strength/losses records were tabulated according to the main gun (75 or 76), not chasis.
     
  10. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    According to Zaloga's Armored Thunderbolt, there were a total of 250 M4A3E2 assault tanks in ETO, distributed in both independent tank battalions and armored divisions. Even though ETO commanders including Eisenhower clamored for more of those heavy tanks, the request for increased production was apparently denied. Soon after 1945, George S. Patton approved a conversion kit, whereby Belgium factories would be contracted to up-armor a number of tanks in the Third Army to E2's standard, using salvaged armored plates. Zalogoa's book also has the prints of two totally destroyed M4A3E2 tanks; both were hit by multiple close range hits of 88-mm weapons. One of the tanks deflected two shots before a third entered through the machine gun mount. So these tanks were very tough.
     
  11. Volga Boatman

    Volga Boatman Dishonorably Discharged

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    I have enunciated this before, time to bring it out again.

    A tank is only a weapons system. It is not a beast of it's own intelligence. A weapons system is only as dependable and capable as the delicate protoplasm that occupy the fighting compartment. A good tank crew can overcome the weakness(s) of their particular weapons system by enacting their training, and outperforming the other guy with a neat 'tactical trick'. It could be as simple as hitting the Tiger 'up the arse', or it could be as straight forward as immobilizing the vehicle with a track hit, or it could even be as simple as laying a smoke screen and bypassing the beast with mobility, letting your infantry call in artillery and dealing with it that way.

    When we examine the fabled ratio, it should correspond, quite closely, to the ratio and relative experience of battle hardened crews that are present on the field, as opposed to clueless newbies, or scratch crews that have had little or no chance to build a working team relationship.

    I think you will find that the Sherman /Tiger ratio is more a reflection of the crew performance of an experienced team, getting the most out of their weapon's system, rather than armour specs, or gun ratios, or technical data period. It's a known fact that experienced fighting teams in tanks got the lions share of the 'kills', just as it is for air combat, with a few experienced people garnering all the victories, whilst the newbies have to be lucky to survive the first few combats, before anything they are taught by the 'pros' can take effect, and demonstrate a difference to the outcome.

    German crews in Western Europe had this experience. Allied tankers much less so. American crews, for example, even gave away advantages in the name of simplicity. Some American tanks fitted with a GYROSTABILIZER, for instance, had significant advantages, enabling them to aquire a target, move, and still have their gun zeroed in on target, (no need to 're-aquire'). But, this advantage was thrown to the winds by the greater majority of American crews. Trained to stop when firing, they would DISCONNECT their stabilizers, rendering them useless. Enter the researcher, who looks at the figures for Gyro equipped tanks, and wonders why so many of them were caught napping when they should have been almost permanently on the move and a bad target for any hostiles. See what I mean?

    Technology is only as good as the people running them. I feel the fabled five to one ratio is more an indication of the sheer levels of experience represented by German tank crews than any significant advantages garnered from 'superior' technology.

    Another thing to be mentioned is the phenomenon of TIGER FEVER. When you have had one of your vehicles hit and brewed, it does not matter what type of weapon system achieved this. A kill is still a kill. Western Allied tank crews would report that they had been hit by "Tigers" right up until the point at which this proved to be not the case. Unproven, they would still be under the impression that their loss was due to a Tiger. The Russians also had a severe case of Tiger Fever, as demonstrated by their antics at Prokhorovka. Soviet reports from the field claimed that the 2nd SS Panzer Corps had "About 100 Tigers" on the Prokhorovka field. Records indicate the Germans jumped off for 'Zitadelle' with far fewer than that, (35 to be correct), and by the time of Prokhorovka, there were just TWELVE on the field. And there is the aspect that when a crew's vehicle is hit and destroyed, any survivors are, quite naturally, wishing to believe that nothing they could have done would have altered that result. So, it comforts them to further believe that their vehicle was knocked for six by the biggest and nastiest weapon possible. Psychologically speaking, "Tiger Fever" is a defense mechanism that absolves a crew of blame for the loss of their AFV in their own minds.

    As I say, I have enunciated this aspect of tank warfare before, in discussions elsewhere on this very site.

    Back to the fabled 5 to 1 ratio. I, therefore, postulate that German tank crews in Western Europe were five times more effective, on average. Their were of course, exceptions,(like Wittman at Villiers-Bocage) but the general standard would adhere to the figure given above.

    So, given this estimate, we arrive at the simple formula of 5 Shermans for every one Tiger or similarly handled vehicle destroyed. A Panther, for instance will garner kills at 5 to 1 if handled properly, but so will any weapons system.

    The crew training and experience was the difference here, not the relative technical strengths and weaknesses of the weapons themselves.
     
  12. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Experiance makes a difference but so does the tactical situation. I have certainly not seen numbers that point to a 5:1 superiority for the Germans. Indeed in some of the mobile battles the US performed better than the Germans.
     
  13. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    I have no intentions of beating a dead horse, just answering a question about E2 tanks. The original post's question is a fable. I am of the opinion that efforts to make sense of heavy allied tank losses in engagements, which does have basis in reality, gave rise to the myth. Operational research by both the US and UK suggest that in a tank engagement, when the defenders got of the first shots, which they did most of the time, they on average inflicted four to five times their own losses. Considering the Germans were often on the defensive, and many at the time thought Tigers were everywhere, it became a catchy rumor of war. In reality, when Germans tried to attack allied positions, their own losses were quite devastating.
     
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  14. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper Patron  

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    Maybe, at the later parts of the war, the Germans had lost most of their experienced men. And that experience loss was more of a factor than equipment superiority?
     
  15. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Probably. In Patton's Ghosts, a history of the 4th Armored Division, a tank officer told the author that he surveyed the wreckage of an entire platoon of M4 tanks and concluded that they were knocked out because they were advancing in a neat line formation, and the German Panther gunner only need to find out the range for one tank to knock out all five. He said that it was obvious that they should have advanced in echelon or wedge, and obscured the white stars on their glacis.
     
  16. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    Hi guys, is it true that the main tank killer used by Germany was the Stug III?, I am sure I have heard that mentioned before, that the Stug’s destroyed more enemy AFVs than any other German AFV.


    Yan.
     
  17. m kenny

    m kenny Member

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    Lare war the Stug:Tank ratio was 50:50 so if you lump all types of Stug together then it will 'outscore' any individual tank type.
    That said the Stug. ammo expenditure figures from Russia show clearly that anti-tank work (AP rounds expended v HE) was a very small part of their remit.
     
  18. green slime

    green slime Member

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    What I would like to see, is a comparison of the cost to produce various weapon systems: in money, man-hours to produce (total), shortest production time (assuming some, but not all, work can be done simultaneously: i.e. ease of manufacture), and essential resources (steel, rubber, coal, aluminium, copper, etc), and in a similar vein, the ease/cost of field maintenance and operation.

    Without any hard facts to back me up, I feel this is where the Allies truly shine..
     
  19. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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  20. green slime

    green slime Member

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    Thanks for sharing that site Graybeard!

    Still, I find it rather sad that a comprehensive examination of all these figures does not seem to have been done at all. There are vast holes, making a correct comparison elusive.

    http://www.panzerworld.com/product-prices only lists what I assume is the cost each country assigned, but the very different economic models used by the three major belligerents (Western Allies, USSR, Nazi Germany) mean just blanket price is not a deep enough comparison to actually determine the level of effort. It also doesn't specify which year these prices are valid for.

    Additionally, it lists different prices for Tiger I as 250 800 RM "without weapons, optics or radio", 399 000 RM as "combat ready" and 645 000 "export price to Japan" (?) but the TIger 2 is listed at 321 500 RM, with no comment on combat worthiness.

    I wonder if the companies that produced these tanks (allies and German) in their factories would still have this information?
     

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