Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

German Kill Claims

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by Walter_Sobchak, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. Walter_Sobchak

    Walter_Sobchak Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2011
    Messages:
    75
    Likes Received:
    11
    I was wondering if anyone had insight into the accuracy of German WW2 AFV kill claims. Often I see pictures of German vehicles with dozens of kill rings on the barrel. Was there any sort of system used to verify kill claims or was it a matter of taking the vehicle crew at their word? Considering the degree to which the Germans were outnumbered, it seems reasonable to assume that they had numerous crews with multiple kills, but when i see barrels with 50, 60, or 100 kill rings, it seems probable that some "inflation" was taking place.
     
  2. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    954
    No more so than the fly boys on both sides in Battle of Britain I would suspect.
     
  3. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    25,103
    Likes Received:
    1,816
    Location:
    Finland
    Then again the Germans lost several thousands of planes and pilots in 1944-45 due to the low practice hours' time and low fuel and I cannot see Allied pilots with 100+ kills in numbers... Confusing..I know they had these "tours" after which they were going back home but still...
     
  4. JBark

    JBark Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2008
    Messages:
    359
    Likes Received:
    21
    I think you will find that these kill claims were inflated and the German upper echelon encouraged it as a means of propaganda. Mike Kenny enlightened me on the issue as he is well researched on Normandy (in particular) and found it very easy to compare kill claims with losses reported by the Allies. The eastern front is a little harder since the Soviets were secretive for so long.
     
  5. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,515
    Likes Received:
    1,176
    Kill claims by both sides and on every front, included many 'I think I dids'. I believe US pilots claimed to sink the same Japanes Battleship some 3 or 4 times in the first year of the war.
     
  6. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    4,997
    Likes Received:
    236
    Only few allied AFV's were "killed" by German ones (and the opposite also is true).
    There also is the question :what is "killed"? Destroyed,damaged?
     
  7. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2006
    Messages:
    2,271
    Likes Received:
    676
    Location:
    Auburn, Alabama, US
    I would think that killed implied destroyed, no longer salvageable. Not unlike a soldier that was killed. Many AFV's seemed to have been repaired and returned to combat by both sides and apparently in a few cases repaired and used each others.

    As for kill numbers being honest, I assume all combatants at times exaggerated their success as has already been posted. Some for propaganda reasons and some in error and I assume they err on the high side. Did the Germans exaggerate more than the Allies? I am slow to categorise people or countries into more or less honest. For 11 years I collected early German 10 Meter precision air rifles and made approximately 150 purchases over that time from Germany. I made many good acquaintances and friends over that time and I found them little different than my fellow Americas other than knowing a lot more about us than Americans seem to know about them. They were at least as trustworthy as we, if not somewhat more so . I feel lucky to have traveled in Germany more than a few times , over a 50 year period and found them warm and generous people.

    Now, they did rack up huge numbers of "kills" in the early going of the war, especially on the Eastern Front , both air and ground , it appears they did. Perhaps when added to the long length of service it is why you see large numbers. Is is possible that the crew earned the numbers and not the vehicle . I have little doubt in the last year of the war , while falling back on all fronts , and suffering huge casualties that the tendency to exaggerate numbers was evident to boast morale and even to protect one's own survival..

    Gaines
     
  8. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    and of you guys ever view one ormore of the German Deutsche Wochenschau films. propaganda at it's finest with the German military forces always pushing ahead and even winning in 45.
     
  9. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2006
    Messages:
    2,271
    Likes Received:
    676
    Location:
    Auburn, Alabama, US
    I have seen a few of the "Weekly Newsreels made during the war as well as 2 Leni Riefenstahl films. Hers were not quite as properganda inflated! Thanks for the reminder.

    Gaines
     
  10. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Messages:
    1,599
    Likes Received:
    230
    Even assuming no ulterior motives kills were hard to confirm in absence of through battle damage assessment which is hard on a mobile warfare. If you are losing and evacuating territory that was going to be even harder. The Germans lost 2100 Panzers and StuGs in Normandy (1500 of which were captured according to C. Wilmot; anyone care to elaborate on the accuracy of that claim?) as opposed to 4400 Allied AFVs reported totaled.
     
  11. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,800
    Likes Received:
    326
    I think where one bit of confusion came in is in what constitutes a "kill". Let me elaborate a little on gtblackwell's first point.In armored battles a tank that burns is a total loss. If it is penetrated and the crew sustains casualties, but doesn't burn, then it is considered "damaged" by its own side. It can be repaired and put back into the battle. Burning destroys everything in a tank, including the temper of the armor plate. A gunner may get a direct hit and see the crew abandon the vehicle. In such a case he has reason to claim a "kill". However, if that damaged tank's side pushes the enemy back then the tank will be salvaged. This was one reason the Germans made a tactical point of always trying to remain in control of the battlefield. They could then salvage many of their tanks. The British didn't learn this lesson until after N. Africa.

    Another possibility is that two or even more gunners hit the same tank and both gunners claim kills. After the battle the destroyed enemy tanks can be totaled, but it would be no suprise that that total is less than sum of all the "kill" claims. In a fast moving armored battle there would be little chance to reconcile the descrepancies.

    In Normandy many German tanks and AFVs were abandoned for lack of fuel or spare parts when they were retreating after the Morain battle.
     
  12. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2008
    Messages:
    1,599
    Likes Received:
    230
    To supplement the points made about the difference between "knocked out" and "destroyed". In Operation Goodwood the British suffered 400 tanks knocked out but recovered 147 of those tanks. In Prokhorovka the Germans lost 60-70 tanks, but only 10 of these were permanent. This was one of the reason keeping the territory you won was important in mobile warfare. On the other hand, it also happened occasionally that an attacking force, because it failed to take the objective, did not know how severe the damage they inflicted on the enemy was. Case in point was the US 3d Armored Division in La Gleize. The American actions on 22 Dec scratched 4 Tigers for roughly the same number of Shermans, but the Americans simply had no idea how telling a blow they had struck against Peiper and perceived the day as a frustrating failure.
     
  13. Don Juan

    Don Juan New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2013
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    7
    Is it not possible that the rings painted on the barrels included the likes of armoured cars, half-tracks, soft-skinned vehicles etc?

    The claims would look more realistic then.
     
  14. Jadgermeister

    Jadgermeister Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    At a certain time, yes, and an intuitive individual will have many more kills. Dont forget that the Russians lost almost half the casualties of the entire war... so there is plenty of room for Germans to have racked up that many kills.

    People have this strange idea that somehow the Russians had the best Allied tanks at any given time, not true at all. One of the reasons that Americans took the lowest casualties of any Allied force, was because they actually were the only country to keep up until late 1944.

    We all hear these stories about Sherman 75s showing up on D-day and having only a few dozen Sherman 76s. What people dont understand, is that we produced enough M-10s from 1942, that we actually had two 76mm armed vehicles for every German 75mm armed tank. In 1942, the US matched the long barrel German Panzer IV with the M-10, both producing about 800. In 1943, the Americans produced two M-10 for every Panzer IV and Panther... in 1944, the Americans produced one 76mm tank for every German tank/SP gun... as well as two 90mm armed M-36 Jacksons for every German heavy tank...

    The Russians, on the other hand, almost always lagged behind the Germans. Testing shows that the Russian 76 and American 75 would bounce off the Panzer III at more than 500 meters. They are identical in performance...
    The German 50mm would penetrate ANY American or Russian tank of 1941. Not one of them could take a hit... Rommel even tested a captured tank and wrote that it could not take a hit regardless of range, even at 1400m, the Armor of a 1941 American tank would not take the hit. Interesting, because the same thing was documented on the eastern front, with more than 75% of T-34 lossed in 1941 being to calibers under 75mm...

    In 1942, the Germans gained even more superior advantage, with the long barrel Panzer IV. The Russian 76mm could not harm its glacis plates from point blank... and it could kill anything the Russians had, from any distance it could see them. So the Russians did not counter the Panzer IV until early 1944, when the first T-34/85 went into Service. The 85 is equivalent to the US 76 and German 75...
    while both of the German and American weapons had been fielded for two years.. the Russians lagged behind both Americans and Germans by some time. The Russians simultaneously introduced the IS-2, with its reasonably powerful 122mm naval gun... which was comparable to the German 88 and the American 90mm, the 88 having been introduced in 1942 on the Tiger, 2 years earlier... and the American 90mm being introduced at the same time as the IS-2. So the IS-2 was not a leader in any way.
    The IS-2 was beaten to the field by the King Tiger, which saw action in 1943... several months before.

    And don't forget the UK had already introduced its 17 pounder in April 1943, with the Archer. The 17 pounder was the best AP gun on the entire Allied side, for the entire war.

    So my point being, the Russians lagged EVERYONE... and they had tremendous casualties. It is perfectly possible that the Germans had large numbers of kill on the eastern front, where they always maintained a superiority in firepower until 1945...
    On the western front, the Germans had to deal with a complete lack of air support, the Americans using artillery on every level... while the other forces limited it to high levels of command.. and the Germans never really had a firepower superiority on the Western front, there was ALWAYS a US or UK vehicle that could take theirs head on...
     
    Fred Wilson likes this.
  15. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Messages:
    6,239
    Likes Received:
    1,865
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    Starting with this.
    Odd statement.
    Field Artillery regiments, AT regiments, Airborne LRs, LAA, etc.
    All playing a role in British formations.
    In fact, it might be said that the British Arty integration with 'lower' formations was better than most.

    And on 'the Russians 'lagging' everyone', one suspects those who first encountered T34 & KV1 might disagree rather strongly...
    Nice to say that theoretically there was a counter to every vehicle at a certain time, but theory almost never applied - a key thing would be having that 'superior' weapon countering a given machine at a given time, which outside of a purely statistical view of warfare, did not happen half as much as any commander might wish.

    The 'front or glacis plate' thing is interesting too.
    The only theatre where that had a true consistent relevance was the Desert, where engagements were often long range and really did often involve 'front-to front' encounters.
    In almost every other theatre, the 'head on' equation became something of an irrelevance. After-action reports and other contemporary analysis tend to confirm that oblique/side/rear hits were more likely in the real world. Terrain & tactical situation being a great leveller. (Though even in wartime, that desert experience led to a few misconceptions of what might happen in Italy, Normandy etc. and some over-focus on front armour at the expense of other approaches to design.)

    You seem to take a somewhat deterministic view, mate - the devil is in the details of the real world, as encountered by the poor bastards crewing any WW2 armoured vehicle (or any other period for that matter).
     
  16. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,738
    Likes Received:
    532
    Location:
    London UK
    One point that emerges is that it is not possible to take claims at face value unless they have been validated by an inspection of the battlefield. The 21 AG identified significant over claiming by aircraft.

    I am sceptical about the claims made by some of the Germans units in the defensive battles. How could the gunner know that they had knocked an enemy out unless the tank had brewed or changed shape? It is particularly hard to verify the claims of Rudel the Stuka Ace. destroying entire armoured brigades with a brace of 37mm cannon,

    The dismissive comments made about the quality of Soviet weapons is not consistent with the reports from the Germans who fought the red army. von Mellenthin (COS 11 Pz Div 48 Pz Corps comments that the T34 was the best tank of the war. Guderian inspector general of tank troops was far from happy with the performance of German tank and anti tank guns. There is a report from AG North about a single KV1 blocking the road and beating off 10 attacks over a 48 hour period, including 88 AA guns.
     
  17. Jadgermeister

    Jadgermeister Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    Im only talking from what I read from Georg Grosjohan, who fought on 4 fronts and brought up the artillery. He said the Americans were the only ones with low level command of artillery, while the british spotters were under a higher command and seperate from the troops. The Americans actually had spotters on all levels. The Russians and Germans never had low level artillery spotters, and it shows. The most casualties were from mortars.... because mortars make much more sense to put under command of a local group instead of having one artillery unit supporting many... and having to allocate itself.

    And as for shell strikes, as you would expect, 75% were not on the glacis. Which means both that the Americans lack of armor made less of a difference than their punch... and that the only parts of the T-34 and IS-2 that were superior... were in fact not very useful in the real world. So your point actually supports mine...
    Also, the Germans used a lot of Ambush tactics, they got to choose which side faced us... which has a lot to do with why the stug was so successful... hard to see... and used in a type of attack that makes use of its low profile and frontal armor.

    While everyone else really could not...

    And you are speaking much like you think the Russians actually did a good job and had a good tank. The Russians did poorly in every manner...

    It is clear that the US was never far behind... while the Russian myth of being ahead... never existed. And the people you say didnt want to face the T-34... they were in czech tanks and tanks with 20mm guns. None of the famous T-34 victories was against Panzer III or IV... they were against light tanks that could barely stand up to a BT...
     
  18. Jadgermeister

    Jadgermeister Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    3
    First off, the 11th didnt even serve early enough to see a KV... they were in Yugoslavia. The only two divisions blocked by a KV, were in fact only one division, the 6th...

    You conveniently forget that they were using Panzer 35(t), which can barely handle a BT...

    Show me where a KV or T-34 ever even broke even, killing more than the German average... There was a single 88 that destroyed something like 47 Shermans in operation Goodwood, a group of teens from the AAA, who was found behind enemy lines by the local infantry commander, Georg Grosjohan. He had them move to the edge of a field and apon his return, found a his sight filled with burning Shermans from the British forces...

    So, a fluke or two means nothing. Unless you can prove that a tank REGULARLY performed well, its meaningless. Its illogical and impossible to try and say the T-34 was a good weapon, when it could barely stand up for itself and took horrendous losses for 2 years before being upgraded to match the already outdated M-10.

    Logically, the argument saying the T-34 is a good tank... is completely impossible, lacks any form of basis, any form of record or performance or documentation to back it up. On the other hand, almost all records indicate the T-34 was not even equal, and vastly outperformed by Armor from all other countries.

    Funny how people choose to ignore that I showed technical and operationally superior numbers for all the others, and yet people want to believe this insane myth that the T-34 was a good weapon.

    Have you ever seen a T-34? The commander does two jobs, and is completely blind. I mean, he can only see out the scope for the gun, he has no vision slits... and he has to look down and walk over the ammo cases scattered all over the floor. Just a terrible weapon.
     
  19. m kenny

    m kenny Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2003
    Messages:
    1,645
    Likes Received:
    225
    I love all this retro 'all Soviet equipment was crap' bollocks. A real blast from the past.
     
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Messages:
    6,239
    Likes Received:
    1,865
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    So the view of a German soldier is uniquely informative on how the opposition organised their artillery...
    Interesting...

    The historiography has moved on from the stance I detect you taking, Jadge.
    There was a problem with the history of the Red Army for long post-war, as, descending from the US postwar tactical studies and a certain problem with an iron curtain, much of the info was based purely on German sources.
    Glantz and others have steered stuff onto more solid and well-sourced ground over recent years.

    :lol:
    Posted as I was typing MK - 'pithy' as ever.
    I was avoiding saying 'blimey, it's the early 90s again', but then I'm more polite than you ;).
     

Share This Page