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"What was and wasn't used in North Africa?" Topic


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SquireBev13 Apr 2016 6:42 a.m. PST

I'm putting together a 15mm German force for Bolt Action, and I'm trying to do both Early (41-42) and late (42-43) platoon.

With this in mind, I'm wondering if certain vehicles, equipment and weapons ever made it to North Africa, such as the following:

Panzer I – were they already withdrawn before the Afrika Korps was formed?

Schurzen – I know there were plenty Pz IIIs, IVs and StuGs, but did they ever get fitted with Schurzen?

Panzer III Ausf N.

SdKfz 234 8-wheeler

SdKfz 250/9 recce halftrack (2cm)

7.5cm PaK 40

Panzerfaust

Thanks for any help you can give!

Personal logo Ivan DBA Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2016 6:48 a.m. PST

No shurzen or panzerfausts.

The Panzer III N saw service in Tunisia, in the 501st heavy battalion with the Tigers.

kallman13 Apr 2016 7:00 a.m. PST

As Ivan stated not shurzen or panzerfausts. I have seen plenty of photographs of Panzer IIs in the desert but not any Panzer Is. Panzer III E and all the way to J versions and in fact the J may have been the most ubiquitous by the later part of that theater. Panzer IV starting with the E and going all the way to the F2 and some G versions but again no shurzen. Tiger I in Tunisia, seven were sent but I think only three actually made into battle. One of those was the famous one captured in Tunisia and now resides at the Bovington Museum.I do not think any SdKFz 234s made it to the desert. But there were plenty of 232 s and 222s. The Pak 40 may have been available in Tunisia.

LeonAdler Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Apr 2016 7:08 a.m. PST

Would be 232 series, 234 not built before North African campaign over.
L

Rubicon Models13 Apr 2016 7:21 a.m. PST

Here is a list of German vehicles that are found with the PAK for during the African Campaign (minor vehicles are not listed):

GwLrS 150mmH SPH
PzJag (SdKfz 101) 47mm TD
PzJag 38(t) 76.2mm TD
PzJag 38(t)M Marten III 75mm TD
PzKpfw I(B) Commander Mod MG
PzKpfw I(B) MG
PzKpfw II(C) 20mm
PzKpfw II(F) 20mm
PzKpfw III(F/G/H) 50mm
PzKpfw III(J-L) 50mm
PzKpfw III(N) 75mm
PzKpfw III(D) 75mm
PzKpfw IV(E) 75mm
PzKpfw IV(F1) 75mm
PzKpfw IV(F2) 75mm
PzKpfw VI Tiger I(E) 88mm
SdKfz 121 150mmH SPH
SdKfz 250/1 MG APC
SdKfz 250/10 37mm APC
SdKfz 251/1 MG APC
SdKfz 251/10 37mm APC
StuG III 75mm AG
SdKfz 250/3
SdKfz 250/5
SdKfz 251/3
SdKfz 252
SdKfz 253
SdKfz 254
SdKfz 221
SdKfz 222
SdKfz 223
SdKfz 231
SdKfz 263
SdKfz 233

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2016 7:25 a.m. PST

I believe the 250/9 was only made in late 1942 so I suspect none made it to Africa

Rich Bliss Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2016 7:33 a.m. PST

Be careful too, on how "the desert" is defined. The Tunisian campaign was in Africa but the terrain was very different and the actions tended to be very dissimilar to the classic desert campaign (Tobruk, El Alamein, etc)

Personal logo Who asked this joker Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2016 7:38 a.m. PST

Schurzen – I know there were plenty Pz IIIs, IVs and StuGs, but did they ever get fitted with Schurzen?

Schurzen was a reaction to the effectiveness of the shape charge weapons (bazookas). So possibly in Tunisia but probably not.

The PZIV F2s were a reaction to the firepwoer of the Grant tank. So after Gazala.

The long 50mm PZIIIs also come in about that time just because that's about when they entered service in the DAK.

PZIs were still used in the command element. Scout tanks and conveyances and so forth. After the initial deployment, they were no more.

Would be 232 series, 234 not built before North African campaign over.

Nice catch, Leon!

Disco Joe13 Apr 2016 8:04 a.m. PST

According to the new book "German Panzer I: A Visual History of the German Army's World War II Light Tank" by Ampersand Group on page 58 it shows a picture of a PZ I Ausf. A in the North African desert. On that page it also states that a number of the Ausf. A's were converted into Flammenwerfer by placing a flamethrower in the right hand machine gun station.

avidgamer Inactive Member13 Apr 2016 8:12 a.m. PST

I thought the PzKpfw III(N) 75mm was only used later in the war and NOT in North Africa(?). I think I read that they were re-armed with the short barrel as an infantry support vehicle in Russia.

Martin Rapier13 Apr 2016 8:43 a.m. PST

There were indeed a few Pz Is, but in a very minor role.

There were four Pz IV f2s at Gazala, but they didn't have any ammunition (goodness knows why not), so didn't take part in the fighting. There were moderate numbers of Pz III (lang) too.

Pz IIINs came over with the Tiger battalion in Tunisia.

There were three Stug IIID with Zvb 288 Afrika and iirc half a dozen Stug IIIf came over with 10th Panzer in Tunisia.

Phrodon13 Apr 2016 9:26 a.m. PST

I always liked the Pz III ausf N. I didn't know it made its way to Africa.

SquireBev13 Apr 2016 9:33 a.m. PST

Didn't expect such a comprehensive response so quickly. Thanks chaps!

Looks like another Plastic Soldier Company order is due…

christot13 Apr 2016 9:39 a.m. PST

Pzr I captured in North Africa in Bovington iirc (with a few holes in it)

Personal logo Ivan DBA Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2016 10:04 a.m. PST

There is photographic evidence of the PzIII N in Tunisia. I think it even merited a color plate in the Osprey (based on said photograph).

Personal logo Who asked this joker Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2016 10:31 a.m. PST

There were four Pz IV f2s at Gazala, but they didn't have any ammunition (goodness knows why not), so didn't take part in the fighting. There were moderate numbers of Pz III (lang) too.

There were 27 (maybe 23 + the 4 you mention?) that arrived immediately after Gazala. Maybe they shipped the ammo with the bulk of the order! wink

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2016 10:57 a.m. PST

"Schurzen was a reaction to the effectiveness of the shape charge weapons (bazookas)."

Actually, no. It was originally a reaction to anti-tank rifles, especially Russian ones, and covered areas vulnerable to them. It was later discovered to have an application against shaped charge weapons.

Personal logo Who asked this joker Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2016 11:13 a.m. PST

Good to know Marc!

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member13 Apr 2016 11:24 a.m. PST

As has been said, schuerzen was a reaction to anti-tank rifles that happily also happened to be effective against shaped-charge weapons that appeared at about the same time.

As has also been said, Pz III N were deployed to provide close HE suport for Tigers.

Pz I only seem to have been used by a few panzer unit headquarters. The turretless command variant seems to have hung on a little longer.

No Sdkfz 234 variants or Sdkfz 250/9 in the theatre.

I don't think that 7.5cm PaK 40 made it to North Africa. If it did, it was very late and in small numbers. There were large numbers of 5cm PaK 38, 7.62cm PaK 36(r) and 7.5cm PaK 97/38(f), though.

PiersBrand13 Apr 2016 1:52 p.m. PST

""Schurzen was a reaction to the effectiveness of the shape charge weapons (bazookas)."

Actually, no. It was originally a reaction to anti-tank rifles, especially Russian ones, and covered areas vulnerable to them. It was later discovered to have an application against shaped charge weapons.""


And German weapon tests in December 44 found it had little effect on hollow charge weapons…

"Schürzen zur Verstärkung der Panzerung in Waffen Revue Nr. 40, S.6457ff

03.12.1944 the WaPrüf had the HASAG in Leipzig doing trials with Bazooka, Panzerfaust, Panzerbüchse 39 (With rifle cup using Hohlladung) and PRTD . In that test armour plates are used, protected by plate and mesh Schürzen. Verdict: No effect.

21.12.44 another test was done at Kummersdorf. This time using real tanks, a Pz. IV and a Sherman with Schürzen. Same result."

jdginaz13 Apr 2016 2:04 p.m. PST

Not many Sdkfz 232s made it to North Africa. As a matter of fact Rommel was always short of armored cars for recon.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member13 Apr 2016 2:26 p.m. PST

Piers, I'd suggest that the test was flawed for some reason, as standoff armour (skirts, bazooka plates, bar armour, etc), which detonates the shaped charge at a distance from the main armour, is long-proven to be effective against such weapons.

Jemima Fawr Inactive Member13 Apr 2016 2:32 p.m. PST

Re 8-wheelers: 18x Sdkfz 233 (the 75mm close-support variant of the 232) saw action in Tunisia (12 with Reconnaissance Company 'T' attached to KGr 'Ramcke' and 6 with Armoured Car Company 220). One of them was captured and used by US forces and was photographed with US crew.

dragon613 Apr 2016 2:32 p.m. PST

The PZIV F2s were a reaction to the firepwoer of the Grant tank. So after Gazala.
no it wasn't, it was a reaction to the T-34. That's why there are F2s at Gazala

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2016 3:18 p.m. PST

I can see why Schürzen would be ineffective, most of the time it would simply go initiating the jet in its or mam mode which would then go on andp penetrates ths plate plus whatever it hit for some distance beyond. I ran some SC trials a few years back and we were getting significant penetrating after the jet had travelled a few tens of metres or more. Bar armour and the like works by dudding the warhead of causing an imperfect initiation and hence an incoherent jet. Which is why the IMO counter piracy advice suggests using chain link fencing to protect ships' bridges. I guess that's why some German AFVs used chicken wire screens towards the end of the war

PiersBrand13 Apr 2016 5:26 p.m. PST

The problem with Schürzen was the stand off distance wasnt great enough. Another test showed an increase in effectiveness due to the plates. HEAT shells would detonate on the skirt and the space would allow the penetrator to form.

Plus this is WW2 metal plating, not modern stand off armour…

Martin Rapier13 Apr 2016 11:18 p.m. PST

One slight note of caution is that, as noted above, Tunisia was really a quite seperate campaign, and a lot of the very modern stuff only turned up there.

christot14 Apr 2016 12:04 a.m. PST

Wasn't there a whole thing about the pak 40 being tested in N Africa in 1941? Mostly based on a dodgy photo.
I recall a distant debate about it, but it was on one of those axis foums where you eventually chew your own arm off rather than read any further

Martin Rapier14 Apr 2016 3:16 a.m. PST

Who knows? again, one of those things which happened in such small numbers as to hardly be worth worrying about – like Panzer 1s and Stug IIIDs:)

Andy ONeill14 Apr 2016 7:52 a.m. PST

My understanding.

Shape charges of ww2 era were way less efficient than later ones. The science wasn't understood.
The stand off for the faust and shreck rounds was too short, the bazooka less so.
Someone who understands this science way better than me reckoned the german rounds could possibly have benefitted from a bit extra stand off.
With all of them, the jet was way less focussed than more modern rounds. ( If focussed is the correct term ).

Personal logo Who asked this joker Supporting Member of TMP14 Apr 2016 9:16 a.m. PST

With all of them, the jet was way less focussed than more modern rounds. ( If focussed is the correct term ).

There are several pictures online of tanks used as target practice for bazookas and PIATs. The impact mark is about 1 inch or less. It's pretty focused.

As for the shurzen, I suspect that it would depend on the hit location. The way the charge works, as AONeill said above, is that the jet is focused. It remains focused because the round is pressed solidly against the tank side thus creating a closed shape that funnels everything forward. If that were to detonate against a plate ahead of time, the blast would almost certainly burn through the plate but then would lose its focus and just heat up whatever is on the other side. That is the reason holes don't get burned through the other side of a tank without shurzen. Same idea.

donlowry15 Apr 2016 8:28 a.m. PST

As for what WASN'T used:

No Pz 38(t)s (except some of the early Marder IIIs with the Russian 76mm guns).

No StuG IIIs. (except maybe in Tunisia)

Martin Rapier15 Apr 2016 8:58 a.m. PST

They used Stug IIIDs in North Africa (we did this already above) and Stug IIIf in Tunisia.

They certainly didn't use Pz 35s, or Panthers, despite the Airfix box art:)

Not many Sdkfz 251s either, but some of course.

Fred Cartwright15 Apr 2016 9:43 p.m. PST

I always thought the Airfix Panther box art was meant to be a 16th PD Panther in Italy, but having googled images it does look more N Africa except the panzergrenadiers are in field grey uniforms.

Leadgend20 Apr 2016 9:05 p.m. PST

On the PzI:
The initial panzer units had a significant proportion of PzIA tanks that were modified with desert air filters etc. It's my understanding they were mostly used in the extra tank platoon in Panzer battalion and regimental HQs.

Later on some PzIB turned up with additional pioneer units, presumably they were intended to carry demo charges etc.

A few of the PzIA tanks were fitted with an infantry flamethrower in the right hand MG position for the assault on Tobruk in 1941.

SquireBev21 Apr 2016 2:27 a.m. PST

Ooh, what about Flammpanzer IIIs?

Leadgend21 Apr 2016 10:11 p.m. PST

No Flammpanzer III. IIRC some did appear in Italy though.

SquireBev05 Apr 2017 5:23 a.m. PST

Apologies for resurrecting an old thread, but I started it in the first place, so…

I assume the main form of transport for German forces in North Africa would have been wheeled trucks rather than half-tracks, like the Opel Blitz and the heavy field car, but what about the Maultier half-track truck?

I'm led to believe that the Maultier was developed to cope with the mud of the Eastern front – would it have also been used to cope with the difficult terrain in Libya and Tunisia?

Andy ONeill05 Apr 2017 5:44 a.m. PST

They had some 251 but mostly trucks. Often captured ones.
I don't think they used maultier in the desert.

deephorse05 Apr 2017 6:48 a.m. PST

A post on the Axis History Forum says that there were no Maultiers in North Africa.

Marc at work05 Apr 2017 7:04 a.m. PST

What a great thread – just in time to whet my interest.

Now, would anybody be so good as to do the same for the allies, as I get lost with the various cruisers, and the times they operated.

MUST HAVE MATILDAS… grin

SquireBev05 Apr 2017 7:56 a.m. PST

Good idea Marc. Early war cruiser tanks are a closed book to me too.

Rod I Robertson Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2017 8:59 a.m. PST

Marc at work:

Here is a partial list for North Africa during WWII. I'm at work on lunch and pressed for time but this is a start. I didn't do armoured cars as that is bewildering and I can't do it from memory.

Carriers:

Bren Carriers. (1940-1941)
Scout Carriers. (1940-1942)
Universal Carriers. (1940-1943)

Light tanks:

Maybe some MkII light tanks (I seem to remember the Aussies had some in Egypt in 1940-1941).
Mk VI B/C Vickers Lt. tanks. (1940-1942)

Cruiser Tanks:

A-9 Cruiser tanks. (1940-1941)
A-10 MkII and A-13 Mk III Cruiser tanks often in mixed units. (1940-1942)
A-13 Mk III Covenanters. (1940-1942)
A-15 Crusader tanks. (Late 1941-1943)

Infantry Tanks:

A-12 Matilda II infantry tanks. (1940- late 1942)
No "A" designation Valentine MkIII infantry tanks. (Late 1941-1943)
A-22 Churchill MkIV infantry tanks. Churchill III's and IV's. (Late 1942-1943).

Cheers and good gaming.
Rod Robertson.

Marc at work05 Apr 2017 10:14 a.m. PST

Keep going Rod – keep going :-)

Now off to find who makes some of these lovelies in 1/72

Rod I Robertson Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2017 1:23 p.m. PST

Oops! I forgot to include US tanks in British service:

M-3 Stuart (Honey)(Late 1941 – 1943)
M-3 Grant and/or Lee (Early 1942-1943)
M-4A1 and M-4A2 Shermans (Late 1942-1943)

Cheers and good gaming.
Rod Robertson

SquireBev05 Apr 2017 1:43 p.m. PST

Am I right in thinking that the Sherman made its debut at 2nd El Alamein? Ditto the Churchill III

Rod I Robertson Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2017 2:49 p.m. PST

SquireBev:

You are correct! Six Churchill tanks of "Kingforce" and 252 Shermans fought in the 2nd el-Alamein. The "Kingforce" Churchills were there as a test/evaluation to see if these tanks could properly function under desert conditions. Large numbers of Churchills did not arrive until 1943 IIRC.

Cheers and good gaming.
Rod Robertson

huevans01105 Apr 2017 3:05 p.m. PST

There were four Pz IV f2s at Gazala, but they didn't have any ammunition (goodness knows why not)…

On the bottom of the sea off Malta with a grinning Beaufighter crew flying away from the scene?

Ferozopore06 Apr 2017 5:59 p.m. PST

For what it's worth, the 21st Panzer Division on April 30th had: 15 PzII 83 Pz III 18 Pz IV
This is data from one of Nafziger's documents so no sub-model

Ferozopore07 Apr 2017 8:37 a.m. PST

Whoops. That's April 30, 1942.

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