Help support TMP

"Comparison of Panzer III to T-34." Topic

89 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

Areas of Interest

World War Two on the Land

2,233 hits since 27 Feb 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 

Mobius Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2019 5:21 p.m. PST

YouTube vid comparison.
YouTube link

The strange point that interest me is sight quality.

Light transmittance of 39% (according to British examination of the TMFD 39.2%) somehow translates to a range of 800m.
The transmittance of light of the German sight translates to a range of 1500m. I don't see the connection.

donlowry27 Feb 2019 5:44 p.m. PST

No one seems to remember that the Germans considered the Pz III a light tank, not a medium.

Dynaman878927 Feb 2019 6:07 p.m. PST

I never heard that the PZIII was intended as a light tank. I have always heard it was meant to be the main battle tank but tank design quickly put the kibosh on that idea.

Personal logo 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2019 6:23 p.m. PST

PzIII's in any of its many variants have never been referred to as a light tank like the PzI, PzII and Pz38(t) but by the time Tigers, Panthers and up-armored and increasingly heavy PzIV's came along it might have qualified as one by comparison.

Mobius Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2019 6:23 p.m. PST

Light tank? The question is compared to what? PzI or PZii? Seems a little heavier than these tanks.

StarCruiser27 Feb 2019 6:29 p.m. PST

Yep – the Pz III was built as the primary medium tank – the Pz IV was intended (originally) as an infantry support tank…just like the M4 Sherman.

Blutarski27 Feb 2019 6:36 p.m. PST

See Kavalerchik's book, "The Tanks of Operation Barbarossa". He covers this very issue in quite some detail, drawing upon confidential in-house Soviet wartime comparison studies.


Mark 127 Feb 2019 7:01 p.m. PST

… the Pz IV was intended (originally) as an infantry support tank …


No infantry support role. Pz IVs were for the Panzer Divisionen. Panzer Divisionen were designed for independent mobile operations. You don't put a tank in a tank division if it's role is infantry support.

The StuG was intended to support infantry.

The Pz IV was intended to support other tanks.

The Pz IV was intended as a heavy fire-support tank, to back-up the lighter Pz III against prepared, entrenched, or other hardened positions.

The more appropriate comparison in my reading would be looking at the Pz IV as an earlier parallel to the M4 105mm "assault gun" Shermans, which were intended to back up the M4 75mm and 76mm Shermans against prepared or entrenched positions (and were quite popular among the tank formations, apparently).

(aka: Mk 1)

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2019 8:57 p.m. PST

German optics are/were superb.

Russian/Soviet ones far less so, which means I can see the differential in the sighting ranges quite easily between the two.

Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2019 12:06 a.m. PST

Back Mobius' original question.

How much light gets through your viewing device improves clarity of view. That means you basically see better, clearer which mean that you can identify targets further away rather than having to guess is it a tank, a house, man on a bike? and then shoot in that general direction.

Griefbringer28 Feb 2019 12:59 a.m. PST

The more appropriate comparison in my reading would be looking at the Pz IV as an earlier parallel to the M4 105mm "assault gun" Shermans, which were intended to back up the M4 75mm and 76mm Shermans against prepared or entrenched positions (and were quite popular among the tank formations, apparently).

There might also be an analogy to the British close support cruiser tanks armed with howitzers to fire smoke and HE to support the rest of their squadron.

Legion 428 Feb 2019 9:26 a.m. PST

Bottom line AFAIK, the Pz.III which had a number of main gun upgrades. From 37mm, short 50mm, long 50mm and short 75mm. Generally it was "out classed" by the T-34, in many situations.

But once again initial German tactical, operational and strategic "superiority" was critical in defeating the T-34, etc. And IIRC the T-34 both 76mm and later 85mm, were some of the reasons the Germans went on to develop the Pz.V, etc.

donlowry28 Feb 2019 9:47 a.m. PST

From what I've read, Pz III companies were called Light Tank companies, ergo …

(HINT: Pz 38(t)s, Pz IIs and Pz Is were merely substitutes when there weren't enough Pz IIIs to fill the TO&E.)

And, from what I've read, Pz IVs were in Medium Tank companies.

Mobius Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2019 11:38 a.m. PST

The ballistics is more complicated than just the sights. The muzzle velocity of both guns were pretty close to each other. The 50mm/L42 KwK was 685 m/s while the F-34 was 662 m/s. The lighter 50mm projectile had an ogive nose and lost velocity faster than the heavier 76mm shell that had a aerodynamic cap.
The F-34 had more than two times the dispersion of the 50mm gun.
The T-34 with TMFD sight had about a 40% chance of hitting a Panzer III at 840m. Surprisingly the 50mm/L42 with a TZF-5b sight also had a 40% chance of hitting a T-34 at 840m.

Steve Wilcox28 Feb 2019 12:26 p.m. PST

Light tank? The question is compared to what? PzI or PZii? Seems a little heavier than these tanks.
It seems to have been armament based:

"The tactical need for these two new series of light tanks (later known as the Pz.Kpfw.II and Pz.Kpfw.III) was formulated by the Inspektion der Kraftfahrtruppen (In 6 inspector for motorized troops) under the Allgemeine Heeres Abteilung (general army department)."

Panzer Tracts No.3-1 Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf.A, B, C, und D
development and production from 1934 to 1938 plus the Leichttraktor and Krupp's M.K.A.

By Thomas l. Jentz and Hilary Louis Doyle, page 3-25.

"The subject of Bezeichnung der gepanzerten Fahrzeugen (names for armored vehicles) was published in the A.H.M. (general army bulletin) dated 20 December 1935. In 6 divided Panzerfahrzeuge (armored vehicles) into three categories: Panzerkampfwagen (tanks), Panzerspaehwagen (armored cars), and Panzertransportwahen (armored transport vehicles). Panzerkampfwagen were further divided into three categories based on their armament (not weight), as follows: leichte Panzerkampfwagen were armed with machine guns or guns up to 7.5 cm, mittlere Panzerkampfwagen were armed with guns from 7.5 cm to 10.5 cm, and schwere Panzerkampfwagen were armed with 10.5 cm guns and above.

Finally the name that would be be retained through its entire wartime service was announced in the A.H.M. (general army bulletin) in a notice from In 6 dated 3 April 1936: New names have been selected for the following Panzerzeuge (armored vehicles) that are from now on to be used in correspondence, new manuals, etc. The current manuals, etc. will not be changed until they are reworked.
Previous name: Gesh.Kpfw. (3.7 cm) (Vskfz.619)
New name: Panzerkampfwagen III (3.7 cm)
New Kfz.Nr.: (Sd.Kfz.141)

Page 3-30.

Bold and underlining in original.

Mark 128 Feb 2019 2:56 p.m. PST

Well isn't that odd? Where did my post replying to SteveW go? It was here half an hour ago, I saw it!

Did it somehow get banished to some random thread about Napoleonics or Space Bugs?

(aka: Mk 1)

Mark 128 Feb 2019 3:01 p.m. PST

Sigh … OK, maybe I have to recreate it.

SteveW -- great find. Or rather I should say very appropriate research!

So here we have a highly credible secondary source (Jentz and Doyle) citing clear reference to an authoritative primary source (A.H.M.). Hard to get much better than that. I think we should be able to close the book on this question.

The Pz III was a LIGHT tank. By German standards, at the time it was developed and fielded, that is.

But before we carry that answer into our more generalized discussion, we should also note that by those same German standards a Pz VIb (aka: King Tiger) was a MEDIUM tank, and an M4 Sherman 105mm assault howitzer was a HEAVY tank.

Just a bit of context …

(aka: Mk 1)

Mark 128 Feb 2019 3:17 p.m. PST

Bottom line AFAIK, the Pz.III … was "out classed" by the T-34, in many situations.

It is an interesting comparison.

Because we may well say that the Pz III was "out classed" by the T-34. But that conclusion can not be drawn from the comparative combat results of the two vehicles.

Pz IIIs were notably successful on the battlefield against T-34s.

We can rack that up to crew quality and/or tactical and doctrinal superiority. But I think the key is that the Pz III was good enough against the T-34, and fit well into German Panzer doctrine. It was a tool that allowed the Panzer formations to do what they did best.

Did it have better armor, or a better gun than a T-34? Well, probably not. But then it also didn't have better armor or a better gun than the S-35 or Char B in France. And while improvements to the Pz III that resulted from the experience in France never made it to the French battlefields, the case could be made that a Pz IIIm was reasonably competitive to the T-34 on level of protection over the frontal arc, and anti-tank gunpower.

Tank-for-tank I am not at all convinced that the Pz III was inferior. Having a dedicated TC and a working radio in every tank enabled higher situational awareness, more efficient engagement of targets, and better tactical use of terrain, quite aside from the tactical coordination you could achieve when you put them together into platoons and companies. As was seen in post-war studies in the ETO, he who sees first, fires first and hits first has a VERY significant advantage in any fight. The guns-vs-armor balance is not the only, and perhaps not the dominant, factor in tank combat.

Yes, if your adversary is immune (or highly resistant) to your fire that's a problem. But if you are winning combat actions anyways, maybe it's the other guy who has the biggest problem.

(aka: Mk 1)

Dynaman878928 Feb 2019 3:27 p.m. PST

That is ignoring a good bit. The T34s were not so much of a problem for the PZIIIs in the earlier years since there were not many of them and they were badly handled – neither of those means the PZIII was equal to the T34. The Germans also had the 88 guns to help the situation and things would have been very different for them (in France too) if they did not.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2019 3:49 p.m. PST

It meshes perfectly with the problem people have with understanding how Shermans were not utterly annihilated after every single engagement with Panthers.

Panzer III H was one of the very best tanks in service in 1941, in terms of gun and armour it was no match for the T34 and KV tanks, but it had many virtues and still had an inherent potential that doesn't go away when you increase the size of the enemy tanks.

Panzer III crew layout, size and weight and access to radio means they could coordinate their actions while Soviet crews struggled to find the enemy, coordinate other tanks, load, shoot. They weren't helped by a massive hatch that offered some protection from fire coming from the front, but also almost completely blocked vision to the front. The fact that the commander was also the gunner makes things much harder, resulting in a much lower ROF than German tanks. If your optics are not good enough, with a narrow field of vision you have incredibly poor awareness allowing German tanks to move into your flanks and rear and attack you in the weak spots.

The sloped armour, hailed by every gamer as the magical answer to every tank's problem also greatly reduced internal space, even people on the smaller side had trouble operating inside a T34.

The picture is not very different from the Sherman vs Panther where the Sherman crew has benefits most gamers usually scoff at such actual comfortable positions to fight from, room to operate the tank and handle things like ammo. No wonder AGF rejected the 3-inch gun inside standard Shermans for being too cramped. You could barely move inside and ROF suffered dramatically.

Panzer III and Sherman were in many ways the superior tanks when it came to being a very efficient package that could be operated much more easily and effectively than their much larger allegedly superior opponents.

Note that the Soviets did make some critical improvements to their tanks, making them much more efficient than the early models, ending with a better armed tanks with a three man crew and a much better vision and situational awareness than the early war models, not to mention much more reliable transmissions, extended track and engine life and far fewer building problems than early tanks which had some of the worst breakdown rates of the entire war.

Mobius Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2019 3:53 p.m. PST

"schwere Panzerkampfwagen were armed with 10.5 cm guns and above." So the Germans didn't field any heavy tanks during WWII except the Maus.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2019 4:00 p.m. PST

That is ignoring a good bit. The T34s were not so much of a problem for the PZIIIs in the earlier years since there were not many of them and they were badly handled neither of those means the PZIII was equal to the T34. The Germans also had the 88 guns to help the situation and things would have been very different for them (in France too) if they did not.

The video breaks down the T34 kill ratio as follows (June 1941-September 1942 :

20mm : 4.7%
37mm : 10%
50mm : 61.8%
75mm : 10.1%
88m : 3.4%
105mm+ : 2.9%

7.1% could not be ascertained.

Again the same flawed narrative :

Oh, the Panzer III was no match, therefore the 88mm must have picked up the slack.

Is not different from :

Oh, the Sherman was no match, therefore it must have been airpower that picked up the slack.

And then we discover that only a handful of tanks were knocked on average by airpower.

Panzers were winning battles in France with 20mm and 37mm against superior French tanks.

Panzers were winning battles in the USSR with 37mm and 50mm guns against superior Soviet tanks.

The allies were winning battles in Europe with 75mm and 76mm guns against superior Panzers

Mark 128 Feb 2019 4:05 p.m. PST

Since we are after all a wargaming bunch, I thought I might offer perspective on this question in gaming terms.

The match up between PzIII and T-34 is one of my favorite ways of judging wargaming rules. Can I play a game that gives me any insight into how/why PzIIIs can fight and win against T-34s? If so, there might be something useful in the rule set!

So here is one example from a game played a few years back.

The setting was spring of 1943. The Germans had the mission of delaying a Soviet advance while preserving their own force, using a combined arms Kampfgruppe to deny a village, and the crossroads just outside the village to the East (just out of picture to the right), for as long as possible before withdrawing. The Kampfgruppe included a company of PzIIIs -- many -M models mixed in with some Ls or Js. The company was almost up to full strength -- about 13 or 14 tanks IIRC.

I played Russian. I had a full-strength battalion of T-34s (21 tanks) supported by a battery of SU-122s (4 guns). My goals were to liberate the village and, in particular, the railroad station just outside of the village to the North (top of picture).

This was my approach, looking from East to West. I had some woods on a low rise as cover, and could get within 1km of the cross road before I had to expose my force.

I decided to push the right side, driving NorthWest with all my armor directly to the railroad station. I would leave the rest of the village to other forces (infantry) that were not under my control.

The German panzer commander put his PzIIIs out in front directly to block any approach to the crossroad. From this picture he placed 2 platoons (about 8 tanks) behind the hedge and treeline to the right, and his remaining platoon along the hedge to the left. His company command zug was among the buildings along the road into the village in the center.

Our rules, Mein Panzer, provide for activation by platoon. But in the case of Russians, they have an optional rule for activation by company, which may sound more powerful at first, but actually leads to less flexibility in the end. All fire is based on a troop quality rating, and the German tank crews were rated as higher quality than the Russians, which in this case allowed them to not only hit more easily, but also to shoot more often. And special ammunition (HVAP, APCR, PzGr40, Arrowhead, hardcore … whatever you want to call it) was issued, but in limited supply. In particular the Germans had it, although they had less than the Russians.

I charged his two platoons with my battalion.

I was shot to pieces. Absolutely shot to pieces. Yes, my guns could penetrate his armor better than his guns could penetrate my armor. With basic ammo, that is. With PzGr 40 at 500-800m they sliced through my armor just fine, thank you very much. Eventually they ran out of PzGr 40 ammo, but then eventually I ran out of tanks, too.

Being stationary vs. moving gave them the first shots. They also shot faster. And they hit more often, due to their crew skills, the fact that they were stationary, and the fact that they were already taking second or third shots before I "had the range". I could not coordinate bringing all of my tanks out of the woods at once, so they were never swamped with return fire. Eventually he brought his command zug to the second line of hedges, to provide cover in case he had to pull back his first line of tanks. But he never had to.

I was shot to pieces. By "inferior" tanks. I had a better gun-vs-armor ratio than the Germans. Hardly mattered. I lost about 12 or 15 tanks, he lost 2 or 3 I think.

Which felt historically about right.

(aka: Mk 1)

Legion 428 Feb 2019 4:54 p.m. PST

As Patrick noted, just like in the France '40 Campaign. Many of the German AFVs[e.g. Pz Is and IIs] were not as "good" as many of the UK or French AFVs [ e.g. A10s, A13s, Matilda II, S35, Char B, etc.] But the Germans were "better" at actually executing modern mobile combined arms warfare. I think the same could be said about when the Reich invaded the USSR.

The Germans knew how to use their AFVs effectively. Much of the rest of the world's militaries … not so much …

Dynaman878928 Feb 2019 5:11 p.m. PST

The PZIII was such a great tank that they were phased out by PZIVs with upgraded guns. The Germans certainly thought they were outdated and the T34 was the reason. More 50mm kills does not mean they were equal to the T34 – it means the German crews were better and managed to get side shots more often by better manuever and better skill in general.
For the Allies, they won battles but lost far more tanks then the Germans even HAD by that point.

Personal logo 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP28 Feb 2019 6:16 p.m. PST

The Mark III could easily have been the equal (or better) to the T-34. The Germans initially intended the Mark III to be its mass produced medium tank but the Mark IV superseded it because the latter could accommodate the high velocity 75mm gun better and was deemed to be more expandable and improvable than the Mark III. Here's an interesting discussion thread on what if the Germans had stuck with the Mark III as its primary mass produced tank throughout the war.


Mark 128 Feb 2019 6:51 p.m. PST

I hope others are enjoying this discussion as much as I am. And I hope I don't sound too pedantic. But this has been a topic of interest to me for more than 40 years….

The Germans knew how to use their AFVs effectively. Much of the rest of the world's militaries … not so much …

I think there is more to it than that.

It's not just that the Germans were better.

They were.

But it's also that the features that made the PzIII such a successful tank are underappreciated.

If tanker Bob shoots at the bad guy, and his round bounces off the bad guy's armor … well we all know to blame the equipment. Tanker Bob was let down by the tank his army provided to him.

If tanker Bob is blown to pieces by a tank he never saw, or by a tank that moved to take a successful flanking shot without poor ol' Bob noticing, or by a threat he couldn't get his gun onto in time, or by a threat he couldn't shoot in time because loader Bill wasn't fast enough … well we are more likely to blame the crew than the equipment.

But the tank can be designed to aid the processes of the crew. And if it was, then more tanker Bobs would succeed, rather than fail.

We attribute crew performance issues to crew skills, and in part that's fair. But in part it's also a matter of equipment design.

An equally skilled crew in a T-34 would not have the same level of situational awareness, speed of engagement, or tactical mobility. And a platoon of equally skilled crews in T-34s would not have the same level of flexibility or coordination. The PzIII was technically a better design, when these factors are considered.

And these factors are under-rated.

More 50mm kills does not mean they were equal to the T34 it means the German crews were better and managed to get side shots more often by better manuever and better skill in general.

I would point out that it is not just a question of more 50mm kills.

In 1940, 1941 and 1942 the German Panzerwaffe could always seize the initiative and outperform their adversaries, regardless of how badly outnumbered they were.

In 1943 that changed.

In 1944 and 1945 the German Panzerwaffe could never seize the initiative, and were consistently and repeatedly trounced by their adversaries. Are we to believe this was because they were outnumbered?

In fact the odds German tankers faced in 1944 were BETTER than the odds they faced in the summer of 1941. Yet in 1944 they lost more important territory (ie: landmass and resource base), faster, than any army in history.

And this happened at the same time that the guns-vs-armor balance had shifted greatly to their advantage. Overwhelmingly so in the first half of 1944. Yet they couldn't achieve anything useful to save their souls (or their country).

So how important could the gun-vs-armor ratio be?

For the Allies, they won battles but lost far more tanks then the Germans even HAD by that point.

Not sure how to read this statement, but if you are suggesting that the western allies lost more tanks than the Germans even had, I don't think you are correct.

Loss ratios of armor in the ETO were about 1.3 to 1, from what I've seen. This, despite the very real and substantial advantage in guns-vs-armor enjoyed by the German Panthers and Tigers. And as pointed out by others above, despite the narratives of "oh those jabos" or "the artillery" or "they broke down every 3 miles", you just can't explain how the actual results were achieved in combat.

The simple fact is that if the US or Brits had a reasonable numeric advantage when they attacked, they won. If the Germans had a reasonable numeric advantage when they attacked, they won. If the odds were closer to even, whether it was the US/Brits or the Germans who were attacking, it almost always came down to who got the first shot off.

No where in the after action combat results can we find Tigers or Panthers consistently breaking this simple pattern. They do tilt it a bit, but not much. So the Germans could win consistently with a 1.5 to 1 ratio, when the US or Brits needed 1.7 to 1. That's about all they got for their twice-as-heavy, 4x-as-expensive tanks.

(aka: Mk 1)

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 1:04 a.m. PST

WO 291/975 Tank battle analysis.

This report presents the results of an analysis of 83 tank vs. tank actions in NW Europe taken from unit war diaries. The data means that it is not possible to separate results out by individual tank or gun types. It is assumed that Allied (British) tanks have 25% 17-pr tanks, and that 25% of towed ATk guns are 6-pr, the rest 17-pr. German ATk guns are assumed to be 50% 75mm and 50% 88mm.

The report's conclusions are:

1. SP guns are more effective that towed ATk guns by a factor of about 3 for the Allies, and about 2 for the Germans
2. The Panther and Tiger are more effective than Mk III and IV against Allied SP guns by a factor of about 4.
3."In tank versus tank engagements, the chance of success to be equal for either side, Allied tanks would have to outnumber the German tanks by some 30%"


8. Of 83 actions, 58 were won by the side that fired first. Where a side was both numerically superior and fired first, it was invariably successful.
9. A successful tank attack typically resulted in about 15% losses;a failure, about 65%.
10. A successful ATk gun defence resulted in about 12.5% (SP) or 15% (towed) losses; a failure, over 50% (SP) or 80% (towed).

Patton noted with 3rd Army, August 1 to mid March 1945

1136 tanks lost. 70% by AT guns

2287 tanks killed, of which 808 were Tigers or Panthers

Legion 401 Mar 2019 7:46 a.m. PST

I think there is more to it than that.

It's not just that the Germans were better.
They were.
But it's also that the features that made the PzIII such a successful tank are underappreciated.

Very much so … numbers in the end can and will be telling. "And Generals", i.e. :

General Motors
General Electric
General Foods

Fred Cartwright01 Mar 2019 9:23 a.m. PST

Loss ratios of armor in the ETO were about 1.3 to 1, from what I've seen.

It was higher in the east from what I have read. There maybe a number of factors related to that. The more open spaces in the east would tend to emphasise any advantage in gun power and maybe the Soviets didn't quite match the proficiency of the western allies in crew skill.

In fact the odds German tankers faced in 1944 were BETTER than the odds they faced in the summer of 1941.

Well there is some debate about that. It depends on what figure for serviceable tanks you take for the Soviets. They had a lot of tanks. Exactly how many of those were serviceable is another matter. The figures I have seen quoted vary from 25-50% serviceable, which drops your 25,000 down to 6-12,000 tanks.
But the biggest problem that the Germans had in 1944 was not the quality of their tanks it was the quality of the infantry. The German infantry divisions early war were a formidable force. You only have to look at what they achieved during Barbarossa to see how effective they were. While the Panzers got the glory the infantry did a lot of the heavy lifting. Breaking open the fronts for the Panzers to stream through and holding trapped Soviet formations in pockets and defeating them. By 1944 the infantry were a shadow of their former effectiveness. As a result they weren't capable of holding ground in the way they did and were only limited in offence. As a result an increasing burden fell on the armoured units both to hold sectors of the line and be rushed from crisis point to crisis point to restore a situation the infantry couldn't hold. Normandy battles are a classic example. If that had been 1941 the German infantry would have held the defensive line and the Panzers would have been in reserve. As it was they were committed to costly defensive battles that they were ill suited to.

2287 tanks killed, of which 808 were Tigers or Panthers.

Was that confirmed German losses from records or kill claims by 3rd Army? The reason I ask is that kill claims are generally wildly inaccurate. I once went through all the kill claims by the Americans during the Bulge fighting and it totalled more than twice the number of armoured vehicles the Germans had.

German ATk guns are assumed to be 50% 75mm and 50% 88mm.

That seems a very high percentage of 88's, given that they were only on a couple of battalions worth of Tigers, a handful of Jagdpanthers and some towed guns. Although I suppose you could class the Panthers 75 as an 88 for AT purposes as it had as much punch as the Tigers gun.

donlowry01 Mar 2019 10:08 a.m. PST

German ATk guns are assumed to be 50% 75mm and 50% 88mm.

Pretty sure a lot of them were still 50mm even in '44.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 4:15 p.m. PST

If you think about it the Panzer II & III were the German "Blitzkrieg" tanks as they were not doing much Blitzing after 1942.

I recall the Germans stating the if a Panzer III could get a flank/surprise shot off at a T-34/76 he could shoot three times before the T-34/76 could get off a single shot. Good luck trying to simulate that in a game.

I think the earliest pre-war T-34/76 did not have an electrical motor to traverse the turret, only manual traverse. This would compound the problem.

The Russians were also surprised at how many T-34/76's they lost to 37mm penetrations of the lower hull side armor.


Mobius Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 4:39 p.m. PST

In miniature games it's pretty difficult to get more shots with your tank than the enemy tank can get. We have better luck with computer games. In Panzer Command:Ostfront I often get plenty more hits on T-34/76s with my Panzer IIIs. It is pretty discouraging bouncing all those shots. Even APCR isn't that good either because it has a higher deflection chance on sloped armor. I can only hope to get a turret mantlet hit or side hit.

Blutarski01 Mar 2019 4:57 p.m. PST

Kavalerchik mentions that the power traverse of the T34 was so clumsy (lacking fine motor control) that gunners preferred to rotate the turret manually. He also mentions that, early in the war, a number of T34s sent to the front lacked power traverse due to parts shortages.


Mark 101 Mar 2019 7:01 p.m. PST

…early in the war, a number of T34s sent to the front lacked power traverse due to parts shortages.

Let us not forget that power turret traverse was by no means a universal feature in WW2 AFVs.

Did ANY of the Japanese tanks have power travers?

The initial T-34-85 didn't have power traverse.

The last PzIV, the PzIVJ, didn't have power traverse.

I'm pretty sure the SdKfz 234 "Puma" (so popular, and yet so rare) didn't have power traverse.

The US M10 tank destroyer didn't have power traverse.

I'm pretty sure the 75mm M8 "Scott" assault gun (Stuart chassis) didn't have power traverse.

The 105mm howitzer-armed versions of the M4 and M4A3 Sherman didn't have power traverse.

I don't think the T-34 power traverse changed much. Could be wrong. But I believe it was always an electric motor, and was typically only used for course changes (getting the gun near the target), which manual always used for fine changes (getting the gun on the target).

(aka: Mk 1)

Blutarski01 Mar 2019 8:14 p.m. PST

Not sure what your point is, Mark. Most battle tanks were fitted with power traverse, especially those armed with 75mm+ main armament. Kavalerchik cites a lot of unfavorable Soviet self-evaluations of the T34 turret traverse, in particular when the vehicle was on an incline. (pgs 196-197)

With respect to the power traverse drive -
"Moreover, it was extremely inconvenient to use the turret's power drive, and not only because it had two fixed speeds; it turned the turret in jerks and didn't allow for accurate aiming. In order to reach the control knob for the power drive, the gunner had to take his eye away from the sight. Thus the turret had to be traversed blindly, so the necessary direction had to be guessed, and then the gunner would have to search for the target in the sight's narrow and blurry field of vision. Therefore in a combat situation the tankers preferred to traverse the turret manually despite all its shortcomings."



Mobius Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2019 8:43 p.m. PST

There was also the shortage of AP ammunition in 1941. Many munition factories were in the process of moving. Even in 1942 there were still shortages for artillery units. (Note anti-tank units are classified as artillery.)

What to do if you run out of AP ammo:

WarpSpeed02 Mar 2019 2:28 a.m. PST

Everybody keeps forgetting that Soviet tanks dont fight 1/1 battles.Engineering specs are skewed in any sophist direction,crew training ,experience and morale are adjusted on a reverse bar code (hindsight is always 20/20).T-34 was a better tank because it stopped the PZ III and threw the wehrmacht backwards. In some ways inferior in most superior the t-34 gave victory where lend lease last year cast offs couldnt.

Fred Cartwright02 Mar 2019 3:44 a.m. PST

In some ways inferior in most superior the t-34 gave victory where lend lease last year cast offs couldnt.

Why does everyone think what tank you have determines if you win or not? Tanks are just one small part of a much bigger equation.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2019 4:18 a.m. PST

The real story of the Red Army is not very well known, mostly because too much of it is seen through German eyes.

The Red Army was a reduced and obsolescent army for many years, heavily reformed from the old Tsarist army they had tried to implement Soviets inside the army, but giving soldiers a vote against their officers was not a smart move, nor was calling the General Staff "Bourgeois" and then abolishing it.

Under Lenin priority was given to forcing economic development at all cost (sic) and Stalin did much of the same, trying to outdo the already bad Lenin on every level.

Once there was breathing room in the economy Stalin was convinced to expand the Red Army, but just as the Red Army was becoming a strong, modern army he panicked and decided to purge it because he feared it would be an unstoppable force if it decided to rise against him.

The result was that the army was in desperate need to get new officers needed to expand the army and promote as many as possible to fill out the empty seats left by the victims of the purges.

The purges had many unforeseen consequences, Tukhachevsky not only was a proponent of the highly advanced military theories of "Deep Battle" but also ran the military industry quite efficiently. Executed in 1937, his theories were now highly radioactive and nobody would dare mention them. And the people who were appointed to run the industry executed orders without any further planning.

As a result the USSR produced massive numbers of tanks, planes and artillery, but completely neglected to produce spare parts or build the required trucks and wagons to support and move this equipment.

While there was some improvement after the debacle of the war with Finland, this was too little, too late and the Red Army paid the price in 1941.

T34 was part of the better things that emerged from this mess. An attempt to produce a very modern, shell-proof tank that would be just as well-built as a Western tank, but also much more powerful.

This means early T34 were a mix of very clever design, advanced technology and manufacturing, but also rugged and suitable for Soviet mass production.

None of the parts were exceptional, a suitable gun, a fairly reliable engine. The technique of welding the tank was new, but already a feature of Soviet industry.

At the same time it had many flaws, no radio, poor ergonomics, poor awareness, less than optimal sights, a weak transmission.

But it's strongest feature is that it was a very new and modern design. Had they stuck to the old T26 and BT7 tanks, the Red Army probably would have been seriously handicapped.

Just like the Red Army was in full transition to become a fearsome force the design had to mature and several years later the lessons were integrated into the final design, the T34/85, they fixed the reliability issues and simplified production in such a way it was extremely crude, but both the allies and Germans concluded that the welding showed few if any structural weaknesses.

T34 in retrospect was sufficiently well-designed to become a war-winning weapon despite major weaknesses, most of which were overcome, it never matched the superlative German tanks, but it functioned well within the scope of the Red Army's war winning doctrines.

Murvihill02 Mar 2019 6:04 a.m. PST

I'd be interested to see later documents supporting the definitions of light, medium and heavy. 1935 seems a bit early in the tank development period for Germany. I wouldn't be surprised to find different definitions used later. BTW, the Pz35 and 38 were substituted for PZ 3's, not 1's and 2's which would make them medium tanks in the normally-assumed scheme of things. By 1941 they really weren't, but still filled the role. Another comment, while the Pz 3 did very well against the T-34, German tank losses in general were very heavy through all the campaigns 39-41. I think the German high command considered tanks a disposable asset so it didn't get much press (and they were winning astoundingly), but the loss rate (hard losses, not sent back for field repair) for all three years is pretty stark.

Legion 402 Mar 2019 8:16 a.m. PST

Did ANY of the Japanese tanks have power travers?
Yes, that is true. As I have said before, the IJFs' AFVs were in smaller/limited numbers and almost "anachronistic" in all areas of design, etc. There is a reason that the M4 was called the Panther of the Pacific … evil grin

But again, the Germans initial success in WWII was in their tactical capabilities, leadership, etc., superiority. They may have not had the best AFVs in many cases on the battlefield. Or even the numbers, but they outclassed, out maneuvered, out fought, etc., everyone else. With their ability to use combined arms warfare, i.e. Blitzkrieg.

thomalley02 Mar 2019 8:34 a.m. PST

this former M1 commander has some great videos. First is the inside of the MKIII.
YouTube link
Second is the Panther
YouTube link

thomalley02 Mar 2019 8:43 a.m. PST

Another fun one
YouTube link

donlowry02 Mar 2019 10:37 a.m. PST

Here's the T-34/85

YouTube link

And here's the M4A1 Sherman (well, actually a Canadian Grizzly, but close enough).
YouTube link

Griefbringer02 Mar 2019 11:42 a.m. PST

I'd be interested to see later documents supporting the definitions of light, medium and heavy. 1935 seems a bit early in the tank development period for Germany.

I am afraid that I do not have anything to offer in that regard, but I checked what Guderian wrote in his memoirs (Panzer Leader) about the early developments. According to him, in the early 30's panzer battalions was planned to consist of:

- three light tank companies, equipped with light tanks armed with armour-piercing gun and 2 MGs (one in turret, one in hull)
- one medium tank company, equipped with medium tanks armed with 75 mm gun and 2 MGs (one in turret, one in hull)

As for the armament of the light tanks, Guderian claims to have originally pushed for 50 mm gun, in an expectation of improved armour thickness in future foreign tanks, but 37 mm gun was settled upon for logistics reason, as this had already been adopted as the ATG calibre. In any case, this shows that these "light" tanks were very much intended to be the main workhorse (or warhorse?) of the panzer battalions, and intended to be able to tackle a variety of targets including enemy tanks.

It is also worth noting that Pz I and Pz II were only developed a bit later on, not to fill a particular tactical role but to provide intermediate designs for the armoured forces to play with until industry would be able to set production lines for Pz III and IV. Guderian stresses that Pz I was intended as a training tank, and that at the time he did not foresee that it would ever be utilised in actual combat.

Also, I tend to find it a bit ironic that the late Pz III was armed with the L24 75mm gun, as used for the original Pz IV. Seems like they could have streamlined logistics in the 30's by skipping Pz IV design and instead doing Pz III with two different gun versions (37 mm and short 75 mm). Of course that would have meant that in late 1941 they would not have a hull that could be upgraded with long 75 mm gun.

Mobius Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2019 1:31 p.m. PST

According to Heavy Jagdpanzer by Spielberger on May 4, 1943 the Jagdpanther was named "Heavy Assault Gun 8,8 cm."
Also, March 2, 1943 the Ferdinand unit was named "Heavy Panzerjager Abteilung 654.

catavar02 Mar 2019 2:58 p.m. PST

Interesting discussion I think. Despite it's classification I've always looked at the PzIII as a medium tank due to the role it played during the first half of the war.

I don't believe the '42 upgraded PzIII's (L/M) were all that inferior to the '42 T-34 medium tank. In my opinion the PzIII frontal armor wasn't drastically less, nor was it's guns penetrating power at short to medium range. Whatever the PzIII's disadvantages were, I think they were compensated by it's superior command-control (radio/ five man crew) and weight (bridging and recovering).

I see the PZIII 75L24 as an anti-personnel upgrade. I thought that was the main reason they were added to PzVI units? Tank vs tank I'd rather have the 50L60.

Lee49402 Mar 2019 4:40 p.m. PST

The Japanese with their poor tanks overran Malaysia and the Philippines. The Germans overran France which had more and better tanks. The Germans had the better tanks in Normandy and The Bulge but lost both badly. Seems to me that there is little correlation between how your armor looks on paper and how it performs in real life.

There are many other factors that shape victory or defeat besides the size of your tanks' guns and thickness of their armor. I think one of key determinants was the quality of the infantry supporting the tanks. Most of the major "tank" victories were supported by very capable and effective infantry and artillery units.

Food for thought. Cheers!

Andy ONeill02 Mar 2019 5:46 p.m. PST

The pz3n with 75 l24 were "added" to the early tiger units because they didn't have enough of those very expensive tigers.
No other reason.

Pages: 1 2