Help support TMP


"M4 Sherman Tank - Crew tell how shocking it was " Topic


126 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the WWII Discussion Message Board



2,330 hits since 9 Aug 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 3 

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Aug 2018 8:40 p.m. PST

Interesting…

YouTube link

Amicalement
Armand

Fred Cartwright10 Aug 2018 9:31 p.m. PST

Seen that one before. It has footage of Belton Cooper recounting his experiences. No doubt what he saw deeply affected him.

Gaz004511 Aug 2018 1:45 a.m. PST

Had an uncle and grandfather that served in/with tanks, one in the 7th Armoured Division, a long serving desert rat the other with REME recovery and repair, both considered the Sherman an upgrade on the tanks they started with early on……
My uncle was very reluctant to talk about it and couldn't stand the smell of roast pork……my grandfather recalled hosing out tank interiors and collecting the pieces and parts for burial…….both had an influence on my joining the air force.

Legion 411 Aug 2018 6:13 a.m. PST

Yes, but some still argue the M4 was "good enough" to fight German armor … Sure it was … but at a cost …
Sadly … As we see at a 3 or 4 to 1 loss ratio. I.e. M4s or UK MBTs/AFVs vs. a German Panther or Tiger …

Lee49411 Aug 2018 9:18 a.m. PST

I keep reading about the "4 to 1" loss ratio. While perhaps true for Tigers and Panthers, I can't find any data supporting that for overall "tank" losses. Does anyone have data or a link on the overall loss rates? Thanks.

mkenny11 Aug 2018 1:36 p.m. PST

Another outing for 20 year old History Chanel rubbish now being used as click-bait rubbish. Most obvious distortion is the way Coopers Unit losses is used with no qualifying information. 3rd AD had by far the highest losses of any Allied tank Unit. So high that it can only be considered an outlier and not, as the film suggest, the norm for Allied losses.

Here are all US AD losses 1944-45 :

3rd AD – 1 T26, 173 Lt, 632 Med = 805
5th AD – 19 Lt, 75 Med 75mm, 5 Med 76mm, 1 Med 105mm = 100
6th AD – 24 Lt, 196 Med = 220
7th AD – 130 Lt, 360 Med = 490
8th AD – 21 Lt, 58 Med = 79
9th AD – 50 Lt (incl 7 M24), 162 Med = 212
10th AD – 31 Lt, 181 Med = 212
11th AD – 37 Lt, 72 Med = 109
12th AD – 30 Lt, 129 Med = 159
13th AD – 8 Lt, 27 Med = 35
14th AD – 35 Lt, 101 Med = 136
16th AD – 0
20th AD – 2 Lt, 17 Med = 19

Now you know why the makers of this trite 'Sherman-is-crap' crap always, always, always want to use the numbers for 3rd AD and no other US Armored Division.

mkenny11 Aug 2018 1:44 p.m. PST

The Tiger tank loss 'rate' for sPzAbt 503 (considered the most successful Unit) from 1942 to 1945 was 550% of establishment.

EnemyAce11 Aug 2018 1:58 p.m. PST

No 2nd Armored Division numbers? Patton's own Hell on Wheels leading the way across France?! Or what about the 1st Armored Division's losses in Italy? They must have some.

Those are some big omissions from your losses!

mkenny11 Aug 2018 2:04 p.m. PST

I did a 'cut and paste' without reading the caution. The table I used states 2nd AD did not report but another document gives their medium losses as 290. No count for light tanks.
Note 290 mediums is well below the 3rd AD count of 632 Mediums and thus my main point (that 3rd AD losses were far greater than any other US AD) is still valid.
Given we have Cooper involved I assumed people would realise it was NWE but it seems I assumed wrongly. Tank warfare in Italy never came close to the intensity, numbers or losses in NWE. France to Germany was the cauldron.
So no big omissions after all.

mkenny11 Aug 2018 4:36 p.m. PST

US 4th AD in NWE list 216 med 52 lt = 268 losses.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian11 Aug 2018 5:12 p.m. PST

Recently I saw a table of how many fatalities among US tank crew, much lower than you would think. Basically (and I don't have the link right now) losing a tank meant you lost 1-2 crew (more often less than 1) with the rest returning in a short time.

Lion in the Stars11 Aug 2018 7:30 p.m. PST

So, better question appears to be, why the heck were 3AD's tank losses so much higher than anyone else's?

3AD had nearly twice the losses of 7AD, and 7AD is more than twice the losses of everyone else!

goragrad11 Aug 2018 11:06 p.m. PST

That 1-2 casualties per loss is an average. Considering that mines tended not to cause crew casualties that would skew the numbers a bit. Kill an entire crew in one tank and only wound a couple in other tanks and take an average and you get a skewed result on the issue. Particularly without knowing where the tanks were hit and what hit them.

As to the 503rd, how many losses were breakdowns and lack of fuel in situations where an otherwise repairable/operable tank couldn't be recovered or refueled and was destroyed by its crew?

mkenny12 Aug 2018 12:58 a.m. PST

As to the 503rd, how many losses were breakdowns and lack of fuel in situations where an otherwise repairable/operable tank couldn't be recovered or refueled and was destroyed by its crew?

The answer is no one knows, Not even you.

Durrati12 Aug 2018 1:18 a.m. PST

As to the 503rd, how many losses were breakdowns and lack of fuel in situations where an otherwise repairable/operable tank couldn't be recovered or refueled and was destroyed by its crew?

The answer is no one knows, Not even you.


Maybe nobody does know – but I am willing to guess 'a lot'. Even perhaps a majority of the losses. This though is an argument pointing out just how bad the Tiger was as a design.

If a large amount of Tigers were lost because they just could not function as a tank, so that the enemy didn't have to fight them or worry about them at all – you are just pointing out what an utterly useless design it was.

Durrati12 Aug 2018 1:21 a.m. PST

Another thread on how rubbish / great the Sherman was? You do realise that this thread, with exactly the same arguments is repeated ever couple of months?

I am interested in the question of why 3rd AD losses were so high – US divisions in NWE I know almost nothing about. As pointed out, its losses do seem to be am massive outlier. Can anyone explain why? Was it always in the forefront of the advance? Did it take part in far more actions than the other divisions? If not, any insight into what was happening to cause such loses?

Gaz004512 Aug 2018 1:44 a.m. PST

A quick perusal reveals the 3rd AD to be a heavy division with more medium tanks than other tank divisions…..

Durrati12 Aug 2018 1:53 a.m. PST

OK, er, is the logical that mediums tanks are more likely to be destroyed than light tanks? I would have thought the opposite, that as 3rd AD had a greater proportion of heavier armoured tanks they would lose fewer tanks over all.

Or is it a logic of they had more medium tanks so were fed into the harder fights more often?

Fred Cartwright12 Aug 2018 2:34 a.m. PST

Maybe nobody does know – but I am willing to guess 'a lot'. Even perhaps a majority of the losses. This though is an argument pointing out just how bad the Tiger was as a design.

Quite tricky to tease out the detail. Total loses also include hanger queens that they had stripped all the useful parts off and were shipped back for factory rebuilds. Also when being pushed back you lose tanks due to lack of opportunities for recovery. One of the reasons Belton Cooper had so many tanks to work on was the Allies were able to recover all of theirs.
The whole what was the best tank of the war argument is rather fruitless as it relies to a large extent on ex post facto reasoning. The Allies won therefore the Sherman was the best tank. But the Aliies won for lots of reasons not connected to the Sherman and also relies on the Germans doing what they did. Had they perfected a mass produceable Panther design in 1942 and started churning out a 1,000 Panthers and a 1,000 Stug's a month from the beginning on 1943 things might have been different (although finding petrol for them might have been a problem). It is rather fortunate that the Sherman proved an adequate tank to serve out the war as the US failed to produce a viable follow on design until well after the war ended.

Starfury Rider12 Aug 2018 4:22 a.m. PST

From US Army Order of Battle (ETO)

Days in combat;

2 Armd Div – 223 (from 2Jul44) * first elements 13Jun44
3 Armd Div – 231 (from 9Jul44) * first elements 29Jun44
4 Armd Div – 230 (from 28Jul44) * first elements 17Jul44
5 Armd Div – 161 (from 2Aug44)
6 Armd Div – 226 (from 28Jul44)* first elements 27Jul44
7 Armd Div – 172 (from 14Aug44) * first elements 13Aug44
8 Armd Div – 63 (from 23Feb45) * first elements 19Jan45
9 Armd Div – 91 (from 16Dec44) * first elements 19Oct44
10 Armd Div – 124 (from 2Nov44)
11 Armd Div – 96 (from 23Dec44)
12 Armd Div – 102 (from 7Dec44) * first elements 5Dec44
13 Armd Div – 16 (from 10Apr45) * first elements 19Mar45
14 Armd Div – 133 (from 20Nov44) * first elements 14Nov44
16 Armd Div – 3 (from 5May45) * first elements 28Apr45
20 Armd Div – 8 (from 24Apr45)

It took a while for the 15 Armd Divs committed to the ETO to all arrive in theatre. Some had a lot longer to incur casualties (2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th all over 200 days each) than others (13th, 16th and 20th, combined 27 days as full Divs).

Gary

Durrati12 Aug 2018 5:02 a.m. PST

Interesting info. It just switches the question though. As the 2, 3, 4 and 6th had basically the same time in theatre – what did the 3rd do to make their casualties so much higher?

thomalley12 Aug 2018 5:31 a.m. PST

And how many of those we lost to anti-tank guns? The allies were attacking.

alphus9912 Aug 2018 5:34 a.m. PST

Just stumbled across this – better video of the actual engagement shown at the end but in more detail.

Was in Cologne in March '45: A Panther destroys a Sherman, then gets flanked by a Pershing – not a pleasant experience for either side as you'll see :O

https://youtu.be/NBI9d0-IfEM

mkenny12 Aug 2018 6:00 a.m. PST

Maybe nobody does know – but I am willing to guess 'a lot'. Even perhaps a majority of the losses.

As you say guess/perhaps. Find me an example in NWE of a Tiger attack being started and the tanks 'breaking down/running out of fuel' whilst advancing to combat. We know that in the madcap panic-stricken flight in late August Panzers broke down but that will happen with any complex machine you run at top speed for prolonged periods.
Running-away Panzers broke down or ran out of fuel but they were an already defeated broken army.

mkenny12 Aug 2018 6:03 a.m. PST

A quick perusal reveals the 3rd AD to be a heavy division with more medium tanks than other tank divisions…..

2nd AD was also a 'Heavy' AD.

Legion 412 Aug 2018 6:25 a.m. PST

That 1-2 casualties per loss is an average.
That is the way I understood it. Which is not too bad unless you were one of the 1-2 KIAs/WIAs …


But let there be no doubt the M4 was generally much more mechanically reliable than the Pz V and VIs …

Starfury Rider12 Aug 2018 6:40 a.m. PST

Just a note on the Heavy/Light Armd Div differences.

In terms of tanks, the 1942 Armd Div (which became referred to as Heavy) had two Light and four Medium Tk Bns over two Armd Regts. Each type of Bn had three Coys each of 17 tanks, all either Lt or Hvy dependent on their Bn type.

The 1943 Armd Div (termed as Light) had three Tk Bns, each of three Med and one Lt Coys, each with 17 gun tanks of the relevant type.

So a Heavy Div had six Lt Tk Coys (102 lt tks) and 12 Med Tk Coys (204 med tks). By comparison a Light Div had three Lt Tk Coys (51 lt tks) and nine Med Tk Coys (153 med tks).

This excludes HQ tanks at Bn, Regt, Combat Comd and Div HQ levels, all 105-mm howitzer armed assault gun tanks, spare tanks (unique to the old 1942 org) and tanks for artillery observers.

I normally avoid tank v tank or tank performance debates; I've concluded for myself they are too often used to write off the total military capability of an army based on the perceived quality of their tank park.

As a novice on tank records I think that armd units and formations were far more concerned in knowing how many tanks they could put into the field the following day, rather than recording in extreme detail the causes of losses at the end of each day, painstakingly subdivided into multiple columns.

I cannot help but feel that the debates being waged on the internet over the last 20 years require a staggering amount of detail that the armies of the day were simply too busy fighting a real war to write up. Or are there multiple record sources showing information such as tanks hit (not penetrated), tanks hit and penetrated, average number of hits before penetration occurred, all subdivided by calibre (50mm, 75mm, 88mm) and gun carriage (tank, SP gun, dedicated tank destroyer type, towed atk gun), did enemy fire first, if so from cover, how long to locate before return fire, how many rounds fired by enemy before return fire, etc. That ignores losses to infantry actions (dedicated anti-tank weapons, close assault with improvised devices), mines, air attack. Also how many losses due to driving accidents (tank overturned, fell down shell hole) or mechanical failures (suffered on approach march, suffered in withdrawal, possibly caused by earlier enemy action), and how many tanks down as losses were recovered and returned to unit after 1st, 2nd or 3rd line repair, and how long were they absent unit.

The extremely high losses of all types recorded by 3rd Armd Div are a definite stand out from their contemporaries. Were they using a particular means of calculating losses not shared by other formations?

Gary

Legion 412 Aug 2018 6:59 a.m. PST

And again, the weapon is only as good as the crew. But if you are in an M5 Stuart and try to go toe-to-toe with a Pz.V or VI … well … don't bet on the M5 …

mkenny12 Aug 2018 7:19 a.m. PST

I cannot help but feel that the debates being waged on the internet over the last 20 years require a staggering amount of detail that the armies of the day were simply too busy fighting a real war to write up.

The 'war' being waged is to correct the baseless claims made for Germans super-tanks. I was around for the start of this internet debate so can speak with some authority.
What happened is that raw German tank kill claims made in books by the likes of Kurowski/Meyer/Schneider were accepted without question and were described as 'confirmed kills' when they plainly were nothing but wartime propaganda churned out for the civilians who could see Germany crumbling around them. People would blithely reference 5:1 kill ratios, Shermans exploding with all crew inside them and lone Panzers holding up entire Allied Armoured Divisions. For about 10 that was the accepted view of WW2 tank combat. Things slowly changed when Allied records were put online and you could check and find that Panzer Ace Z did not (as he claimed) destroy 15 shermans in 10 mins on the 12th of whatever. Gradually a more balanced picture was painted until today when the WW2 'Overton Window' is far removed from the uncritical acceptance of every German kill claim as if it were fact. There are still forums where aficionados of the old stories can go to chatter with other unreformed believers and have a group cry on the anniversary of Wittmann's death

link

but they are strictly second-tier forums and none of the current scholarly Forums will let a poster go unchallenged if he tries to validate the old 5:1 'kill ratios'.

Steve Wilcox12 Aug 2018 7:59 a.m. PST

And again, the weapon is only as good as the crew. But if you are in an M5 Stuart and try to go toe-to-toe with a Pz.V or VI … well … don't bet on the M5 …

Indeed. There's an engagement between 9 M5 Stuarts and 3 Panthers listed in serial 53b of Data on World War II Tank Engagements Involving the U.S. Third and Fourth Armored Divisions by David C. Hardison on page 41 and under the remarks column it says "Two platoons of Allied attempting to take Sterpigry. Reached town and were then destroyed by the Panthers "just like a milk run—one at each house."" Yikes! :(

catavar12 Aug 2018 8:56 a.m. PST

I'm curious to know how the "Jumbo" Shermans fared?

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2018 1:30 p.m. PST

First of all Belton Cooper's book is a memoir, it's not historical research. It's a must read book to get an idea of what he did witness, but many of his claims don't stand up to scrutiny. This is not to say he's a liar, but he was the victim of "GI hearsay"

Now we also have to step away from the notion that Shermans had to wade through seas of Panzers or that because the Sherman was not a super-heavy tank with a massive gun it was useless, far from it. It was quite effective as a mobile asset, excellent for use against a variety of targets including a majority of German combat vehicles, and when fighting against the heavier German tanks they were at a disadvantage, but most crews were able to compensate by using their speed, fast turret traverse and attacked enemy tanks from the flanks or rear.

Now it has been established that there are two very important factors that play a major role in combat, the attacker is almost always at a disadvantage against ambushing enemy forces since it's hard to spot such targets and he who shoots first usually wins the fight. Given that the Allies were almost constantly attacking they had the tough job.

Another factor is that according to David Fletcher, the narrative of tank warfare was overwhelmingly British for many years after the war. The British considered tanks to be disposable and preferred to sacrifice a Yankee-built Sherman over a platoon of infantry. These higher loss rate was extrapolated to all allied forces. US experience is quite different and they suffered fewer losses overall.

The Sherman may not have had superior armour and a massive gun, but it had many advantages. Unlike popular belief the stabilizer was used in combat, the British who had long used manual elevation had them disconnected in the depots, with the troops having little choice in the matter. But the stabilizer allowed a Sherman to remain hidden, acquire the target and then engage without having to adjust elevation, they could hit a target before they knew what hit them and skulk back behind cover.

Another major advantage is that hatches were spring-loaded, directly above the crew (there was an issue with the loader lacking a hatch, but that was eventually solved) but most crew got out, and barely 1500 US tankers were killed in Europe, and about 80 in Italy. (note that this includes casualties while on duty outside the tank like repairs, reconaissance etc)

As for the Pershing story, it was held back due to the faulty "battle need" system that didn't work, but when it was pushed forward for introduction into service Ordonance and AGF made sure the Pershing was at least reliable in the field. Note that it was introduced against the wishes of the engineer's corps since their bridging material couldn't carry the weight of this new tank and famously the Pershings who had helped to take the bridge at Remagen couldn't cross, the Shermans could … Another example is that in 1947 the US army tried to move a single battalion by rail, in peacetime. It took them over a month to assemble the flatcars and move the tanks 150 miles.

Was the Sherman perfect ? No, but then again no tank in WWII was perfect, they all had major flaws, but if you look beyond the usual comparison with Panthers and Tigers it is a tough, reliable and pretty well made tank that was extremely suitable to the needs of the US army and was designed to operate in any terrain from the arctic to tropical jungles and actually work. Try that with a Panther …

Lion in the Stars12 Aug 2018 2:39 p.m. PST

Interesting info. It just switches the question though. As the 2, 3, 4 and 6th had basically the same time in theatre – what did the 3rd do to make their casualties so much higher?

Seriously!

Days in combat;

2 Armd Div – 223 (from 2Jul44) * first elements 13Jun44
3 Armd Div – 231 (from 9Jul44) * first elements 29Jun44
4 Armd Div – 230 (from 28Jul44) * first elements 17Jul44
5 Armd Div – 161 (from 2Aug44)
6 Armd Div – 226 (from 28Jul44)* first elements 27Jul44
7 Armd Div – 172 (from 14Aug44) * first elements 13Aug44
8 Armd Div – 63 (from 23Feb45) * first elements 19Jan45
9 Armd Div – 91 (from 16Dec44) * first elements 19Oct44
10 Armd Div – 124 (from 2Nov44)
11 Armd Div – 96 (from 23Dec44)
12 Armd Div – 102 (from 7Dec44) * first elements 5Dec44
13 Armd Div – 16 (from 10Apr45) * first elements 19Mar45
14 Armd Div – 133 (from 20Nov44) * first elements 14Nov44
16 Armd Div – 3 (from 5May45) * first elements 28Apr45
20 Armd Div – 8 (from 24Apr45)

Here are all US AD losses 1944-45 :

3rd AD – 1 T26, 173 Lt, 632 Med = 805
5th AD – 19 Lt, 75 Med 75mm, 5 Med 76mm, 1 Med 105mm = 100
6th AD – 24 Lt, 196 Med = 220
7th AD – 130 Lt, 360 Med = 490
8th AD – 21 Lt, 58 Med = 79
9th AD – 50 Lt (incl 7 M24), 162 Med = 212
10th AD – 31 Lt, 181 Med = 212
11th AD – 37 Lt, 72 Med = 109
12th AD – 30 Lt, 129 Med = 159
13th AD – 8 Lt, 27 Med = 35
14th AD – 35 Lt, 101 Med = 136
16th AD – 0
20th AD – 2 Lt, 17 Med = 19

OK, so 6AD had about as many days in theater as 3AD, but had 1/4 the losses. What the hell was 3AD doing to get that many more tank losses?!?

Blutarski12 Aug 2018 5:08 p.m. PST

"6AD had about as many days in theater as 3AD, but had 1/4 the losses. What the hell was 3AD doing to get that many more tank losses?!?"

One possibility is that not all days in action are created equal. For example, 3rd Armored suffered heavy casualties in the early bocage fighting before developing effective tactics to deal with German defenses. So far as I can tell, 6th Armored did not spend much if any time in the bocage.

B

goragrad12 Aug 2018 8:42 p.m. PST

Actually, per the Military wiki (based on unit histories reported on the Tiger I Information Center) we do know – 49 percent of the losses were tanks destroyed by their own crews and 45 percent were combat losses.

Of course that merely confirms what a terrible design the Tiger was as no Sherman ever broke down or ran out of fuel in a situation where it couldn't be recovered and was destroyed by its crew.

On the other hand the (grossly inflated of course) 503rd claimed 1700 AFVs destroyed.

Under similar combat conditions, as reliable and suited to its purpose as it was, I have a feeling the Sherman would not have done quite as well…

As to 3rd – between the Bocage and Hurtgen they seem to have been in some pretty hot actions. Considering that General Rose was considered to be one of the better commanders and was quite popular with his troops (per histories and my uncle), one presumes it wasn't incompetence that led to the higher losses.

As to the statement that the British would rather lose a Sherman than a platoon of infantry, the corollary would seem to be that the US then would rather lose a platoon of infantry than a Sherman. At which if I were an infantryman…

Lee49412 Aug 2018 9:34 p.m. PST

The errors in that clip are too numerous to even bother listing. Starting with the consistent showing of M3 photos when talking about the M4! The 2nd and 3rd AD saw some of the heaviest fighting and spent more days in theater than most other US AD yet their losses, according to most sources (some quoted in earlier posts in this thread) amount to about 3 Shermans per day. Admittedly these losses were not spread evenly but by gosh why am I having trouble embracing 3 a day as a "disaster" as the clip would have us believe? Try checking the losses of submarines or B-17s. B-17s were shot down by the 1000's and bomber crew losses were (% wise) some of the highest of any branch of service. Yet we dont hear what "Death Traps" they were. It has become fashionable with 20/20 hindsight to give Shermans a bad reputation. Unfairly I believe. Cheers!

Fred Cartwright13 Aug 2018 1:51 a.m. PST

Actually, per the Military wiki (based on unit histories reported on the Tiger I Information Center) we do know – 49 percent of the losses were tanks destroyed by their own crews and 45 percent were combat losses.

What caused the loss of the other 6%? Also of the losses destroyed by crews what percentage were due to combat damage vs breakdowns?

On the other hand the (grossly inflated of course) 503rd claimed 1700 AFVs destroyed.

Haven't looked at the 503rd's combat history in any detail, but most of the Tiger battalions spent the majority of the time in the east in some very target rich environments and were in action for over 2 years. IIRC the 502nd claimed 1,400 tank kills which for their time in service works out at about 1.5 kills a day, which is not an implausible figure.

As for the Pershing story, it was held back due to the faulty "battle need" system that didn't work, but when it was pushed forward for introduction into service Ordonance and AGF made sure the Pershing was at least reliable in the field.

Not from what I have read. The M26 was far from reliable.

mkenny13 Aug 2018 2:57 a.m. PST

Actually, per the Military wiki (based on unit histories reported on the Tiger I Information Center) we do know – 49 percent of the losses were tanks destroyed by their own crews and 45 percent were combat losses.

Based mainly on Schneider who has no problem listing a Tiger knocked out by AP strikes and recovered but unable to be repaired and used as a source of spares for others then over-run in a collection area as an abandoned 'non combat loss'.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2018 5:00 a.m. PST

Under similar combat conditions, as reliable and suited to its purpose as it was, I have a feeling the Sherman would not have done quite as well…

Would say the Soviet experience with the Sherman would argue otherwise.

Legion 413 Aug 2018 10:51 a.m. PST

Reached town and were then destroyed by the Panthers "just like a milk run—one at each house."" Yikes! :(
A friend told me that his Uncle(?) was an M5 crewman/TC in France. When a Tiger I broken thru the nearby woodline. They immediately got out the M5 and ran like Hell just before the Tiger fired. No one died but some were wounded by pieces of the M5 flying thru the air.

They probably made the correct split-second decision. You couldn't move to cover fast enough or out run the Tiger's 88. frown

Possibly a very good example of discretion being the better part of valor … evil grin

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP13 Aug 2018 10:54 a.m. PST

The Pershing deployment history in brief : Ordnance under general Barnes is working on a heavy tank but has yet to have a finalized prototype, they are very busy fooling around with novelty suspensions for a while, but then get their act together and settle for the T26. They ask for it to be field tested in August 1944, AGF takes a long hard look and considers it is not "Battle Ready" So Ordnance tightens all the bolts, and tries to arrange field trials. Barnes says in October they cracked it and that the first tanks will arrive in Europe for testing purposes in January. AGF prefers more testing at Fort Knox before they consider it Battle Ready, not willing to be frustrated any longer goes directly to Marshall who sidelines AGF and 20 tanks are sent overseas.

Now the point is that before they were shipped the T26 prototypes were far from battle ready. When they were finally shipped AGF's insistence on withholding the tanks from service does pay off, they may have been unreliable, but if earlier versions had been sent history books would be filled with the horrible scandal surrounding the M26 and how the army screwed it all up and sent worthless tanks into service. They were as reliable as Ordnance could make improvements between August 1944 and December 1944.

Legion 413 Aug 2018 10:59 a.m. PST

Yes, the M26 was said to be unreliable. But I'd think IF the US started working on the M26 sooner it could have probably been deployed to the ETO sooner, and much more reliable.

And saved some US Tankers lives … and maybe kill more German MBTs, etc. ?

Mark 113 Aug 2018 11:44 a.m. PST

In 1944, November 19 – 25, Albert Speer made a tour of Panzer units in Italy to gather information on the views of German tankers.

From his report:


On the Southwest Front, opinions are in favor of the Sherman tank and its cross-country ability. The Sherman tank climbs mountains that our Panzer crews consider impassable. This is accomplished by the especially powerful engine in the Sherman in comparison to its weight. Also, according to reports from the 26th Panzer Division, the terrain crossing ability on level ground (in the Po valley) is completely superior to our Panzers. The Sherman tanks drive freely cross-country, while our Panzers must remain on trails and narrow roads and therefore are very restricted in their ability to fight.

All Panzer crews want to receive lighter Panzers, which are more maneuverable, possess increased ability to cross terrain, and guarantee the necessary combat power just with a superior gun. This desire by the troops corresponds with conditions that will develop in the future as a result of the drop in production capacity and of the fact that, because of a shortage of chrome, sufficient armor plate can't be produced to meet the increased production plans. Therefore, either the number of Panzers produced must be reduced or it will be necessary to reduce the thickness of the armor plate. In that case, the troops will unequivocally ask for a reduction of the armor thickness in order to increase the total number of Panzers produced.

So if I might paraphrase, the German tankers would be willing to sacrifice the thick armor of their uber-panzers to get tanks that were lighter, had better cross-country mobility, and importantly could be built in larger numbers.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Thomas Thomas13 Aug 2018 11:45 a.m. PST

Tank kill ratios are notoriously hard to ascertain as all sides tend to cherry pick the data.

The Germans claim that Tigers (I& II) accounted for 10,300 enemy tanks for a loss to all causes of 1725 Tigers. No doubt exaggerated.

On other hand composite allied tank losses cover not knocked out tanks but totally losses. Its typical of both sides that they give the number of enemy tanks "knocked out" v. the their number of total losses. But for wargame purposes we need to compare "knocked out" v. "knocked out" that one side holds the battlefield and/or has superior resources to repair losses and so lowers the "kill ratio" is an improper tool for analyzing battlefield performance.

Taking a look at some stats assembled for large battles where both the allies & Germans committed substantial armor: in Normandy the Germans maintaned about a 2-1 kill ratio – not counting tanks destoryed by the Germans for various strategic reasons – no fuel, need to retreat etc. also not relevant to battlefield performance. During the Bulge allied AFV losses exceeded 1500, the Germans lost about 700.

As to 3rd Armored – its just seemed to find German tanks. Many armored divisions managed to romp across France meeting with little or no German armor. Not so the 3rd which even in '45 ran into a last batch of German panzers from a training ground and had a whole column decimated.

TomT

catavar13 Aug 2018 2:38 p.m. PST

I've read the 5th Guards Tank Bgd's report regarding the Sherman in the book Soviet Lend-Lease Tanks Of World War II. It appears to me to agree, for the most part, with Marc & Mark's post. If the Soviets officially complimented an American Tank then that's good enough for me.

TacticalPainter0113 Aug 2018 2:59 p.m. PST

American, British and Germans all kept records of causes of tank losses during the ETO. As you might expect numbers are not all complete, sample bases are not comprehensive but what does come through when looking across the data is a general pattern that approximately 50% of allied tank losses could be attributed to AP shot, however this is not broken down in enough detail to work out the relevant percentages from tank guns, self propelled guns and AT guns. At best it would appear German tanks accounted for no more than 50% of allied tank losses in Europe. In other words a tank was just as likely to be knocked out by non-AP fire – that being anything from mines, panzerfaust and similar, artillery and mortars.

As it's clear the term AP fire would break down into several different forms and tanks would not make up all of that fire then it would appear that German tanks were not the major threat to the Sherman in the ETO.

Blutarski13 Aug 2018 3:50 p.m. PST

By far, the best (and most objective) single reference I have found on the topic of tank losses in WW2 is –

ORO-T-117 – Survey of Allied Tank Casualties in World War II,
Technical memorandum (Johns Hopkins University. Operations Research Office), Coox & Naisawald, 1951.

Get it here – link

Well worth close study.

B

Fred Cartwright13 Aug 2018 4:38 p.m. PST

So if I might paraphrase, the German tankers would be willing to sacrifice the thick armor of their uber-panzers to get tanks that were lighter, had better cross-country mobility, and importantly could be built in larger numbers.

Well Mark maybe they should have seen what the Americans had to say about the cross country mobility of the Sherman vs Panther before telling Speer that!
This is from Lt Col Wilson Hawkins of 2nd Armoured.
"It has been claimed that our tank is the more maneuverable. In recent tests we put a captured German Mark V [Panther] against all models of our own. The German tank was the faster, both across country and on the highway and could make sharper turns. It was also the better hill climber."
And this.
This was backed up in an interview with Technical Sergeant Willard D. May of the 2nd Armored Division who commented: "I have taken instructions on the Mark V [Panther] and have found, first, it is easily as maneuverable as the Sherman; second the flotation exceeds that of the Sherman."
And this from Staff Sergeant Charles A Carden.
"The Mark V [Panther] and VI [Tiger] in my opinion have more maneuverability and certainly more flotation. I have seen in many cases where the Mark V and VI tanks could maneuver nicely over ground where the M4 would bog down. On one occasion I saw at least 10 Royal Tigers [Tiger II] make a counterattack against us over ground that for us was nearly impassable."
As the saying goes the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! :-)

mkenny13 Aug 2018 5:05 p.m. PST

This is from Lt Col Wilson Hawkins of 2nd Armoured…………
This was backed up in an interview with Technical Sergeant Willard D. May of the 2nd Armored Division…………..
And this from Staff Sergeant Charles A Carden………..

These are all from the 'US v German Equipment' which is a strange booklet. There is a section where many soldiers claim US sights were very poor and could not hit a barn door yet in a later 'US AP shells were useless' section the same soldiers recount tales that show the superiority of German tank armour by using examples of long-range firing where the US shells 'bounced off' German tanks.

Fred Cartwright13 Aug 2018 5:17 p.m. PST

These are all from the 'US v German Equipment' which is a strange booklet

So are you saying they were all liars? I merely posted them to illustrate that if you take a few quotes out of context you can prove anything – much has Mark did with his quote of Speer's.

Pages: 1 2 3