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"Sherman 75mm gun knock out a Tiger 1,Panzer 4 model H " Topic


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World War Two on the Land

3,535 hits since 7 Mar 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Jefthro307 Mar 2019 2:45 a.m. PST

I,m struggling with the enormous variation represented in Wargames rules about the performance of a Sherman 75mm against a panzer 4 H as well as against a tiger 1. In particular WRG Armour and Infantry Rules 1983 ed . I was trying hard to learn these rules , played a couple of games with friends then was dumfounded when I discovered that a Sherman armed with a 75mm needed to Score a six to kill a Panzer l/V H at over 100metres When in most other rules it's much easier to knock out a Panzer I/V H , for example Cambria to Sinai Rules comptempory to WRG had the humble Sherman with the same / better armour than the Panzer 4 H and Tiger and could more or less disable/ knock them out at any range.
Can anyone advise re how likely a Sherman with a 75mm could destroy a Panzer 4 and or a Tiger from the front

Thanks

Jim

Fred Cartwright07 Mar 2019 5:07 a.m. PST

Looking at the raw penetration vs armour thickness figures the Sherman's 75mm is struggling to penetrate the Tiger frontally at under 100m. It would require a lucky shot to hit a weak point. For the Panzer IV out to 500m the M61 round has a good chance of penetrating, beyond that the figures get close enough to the armour thickness that any deviation from a straight on the shot could bounce. Also bear in mind that US armour penetration tables are based on 50% of rounds penetrating at a given range to count as successful.
Given all of that I would have said WRG is closer than Cambrai to Sinai.

irishserb07 Mar 2019 5:45 a.m. PST

Pretty much what Fred said. The PzIV hull is at the limits of a 75mm armed Sherman to penetrate at any range. The PzIV turret though is a bit easier, but the turret makes up a small portion of the overall cross section of the target, thus most hits are probably going to impact the hull. WRG probably is reasonable.

Killing or rendering a Tiger combat-ineffective at any range from the front with a 75mm armed Sherman is a freak accident. You could hit the gun tube, and put the Tiger out of action, that sort of thing, but you can't penetrate the frontal armor proper.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2019 6:17 a.m. PST

"Kelly, nobody said anything about a Tiger. The only way you can knock out a Tiger is to hit it right in the a**."

Legion 407 Mar 2019 6:56 a.m. PST

Or … " Bleeped text happens" … E.g. hitting the turret ring of either or shell bounces off turret and hits top of hull … i.e. Driver/ Bow MG positions, etc.

Mobius07 Mar 2019 7:01 a.m. PST

Change your edition of WRG. 1975 edition has the Panzer IV E-K as "D" front and "E" side.

Phrodon07 Mar 2019 7:23 a.m. PST

The front, a 75 L/31 could not penetrate at any range. The 75mm L/40 maybe at 100m or less. For the sides, depends on the ammo type and where you hit but this could extend out to 300-400m and even up to 1000m.

The IV H has 80mm of frontal armour. Less than the 100mm of frontal armour on the tiger. But the 75 L/30 still would have trouble penetrating it. it might, but it might not. Even at ranges less than 100m. Depends though on the ammo M61 vs M72. Better ammo can penetrate over 90mm up to 250mm.

Shoot for the tracks!

athun2507 Mar 2019 7:33 a.m. PST

+1 Big Red
"We was assaulted by them Tigers; you know what I mean by assaulted??"

Jefthro307 Mar 2019 8:39 a.m. PST

Thanks everyone your comments it confirm what I thought. Mobious I do use the 1975 edition of WRG at times and in these rules a Sherman can knock out a Pz 4 model H from a 1000 yards or so . It's s big difference.
But I do like the rules and hate to change rule a Mechanics preferring to try a rules writers angle.
I suppose looking for realism and simplicity in a game is a big ask. I've got copies of some really realistic rules but they are a night mare to play.

mysteron Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2019 8:48 a.m. PST

The Brits noted that the 75mm Sherman was struggling against many of the German tanks ,hence they introduced the Firefly with at least one per troop .

Skarper07 Mar 2019 12:33 p.m. PST

PzIVH versus Sherman [later models] are roughly equal. The German gun is much more powerful with AP while the Sherman had slightly better armour.

The fact the Shermans were on the attack and would be fired at first made the Panzer IVs more effective.

As for Tigers the Shermans gun needs to score some kind of critical hit or disable the tank by damaging the gun or a track. On the other hand, the Tiger's gun could easily knock out a Sherman at any likely range.

Mark 107 Mar 2019 1:24 p.m. PST

The front, a 75 L/31 could not penetrate at any range.

We are speaking of Shermans here. No need to consider the 75mm L31.

The 75mm M2 gun (L31) saw combat in the Medium Tank M3 (Lee and Grant) series of tanks, but was only fitted to the first two T6 prototypes of the Medium Tank M4 (Sherman) tanks. Production Shermans all received the 75mm M3 (L40) gun.

The idea of some Shermans being armed with the shorter M2 gun persists, I think, because the Bovington Sherman is in fact one of the first two T6 prototypes. So many rules-writers and historians from Ol' Blightey have grown up believing that Shermans were first armed with the shorter gun. And they were … in prototype form. But neither of those TWO T6s ever saw combat.

At least that's how I understand it. Could be wrong. Be interested in any credible documentation to show I am.

The IV H has 80mm of frontal armour.

The Pz IVH has 80 mm of frontal HULL armor. It has 50mm of frontal TURRET armor.

Hits on the turret front could penetrate at ranges of 1,000m or more.

Admittedly the turret is a smaller target. So that's worth considering.

But also German tankers were trained to make extensive use of terrain masking (ie: hull-down positions). The Pz IVH had the rather peculiar characteristic of being more vulnerable to penetration when hull-down than when hull-up.

The Brits noted that the 75mm Sherman was struggling against many of the German tanks …

I have seen rule sets that show a Pz IVH (or G, or J) as being nearly invulnerable to a frontal hit by a Sherman.

But I've never read any primary documents that indicate US or British tankers felt they could not handle Pz IVs.

There are many accounts of tankers' objections to being under-gunned, but they all focus on Tigers and particularly on Panthers. Never read one that identified the Pz IV as a problem.

Doesn't mean there isn't such an account. Just that I haven't seen it.

Also, it may well be that the US Army tendency to identify EVERY tank as a Tiger masks the frontal resistance of Pz IVs -- maybe US tankers assumed it was a Tiger their shots were bouncing off, even when it was in fact a Pz IV.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Blutarski07 Mar 2019 2:10 p.m. PST

Mark,
Go to the CARL digital library site and search for -

Vulnerability Tests of German Tanks
Pzkw III, Pzkw IV, Pzkw VI
19 July 1944

The tabulated test results reflect Mk IV frontal protection as follows -

Angle of attack in all cases cited as 25 degrees.
Range given in yards.
X = no penetration.

Guns 76mm 75mm 57mm
Projectile M62 / M61 M61M3 / M61M2 M86

Turret Front 3080/2960 – 1280/840 – 2040
Upper Hull Front 1740/1520 – X / X – X
Lower Hull Front 1600/1360 – X / X – X

Interesting side note The Pzkw III show a similar nature of protection with respect to turret front vs hull front.

FWIW.

B

Fitzovich07 Mar 2019 2:39 p.m. PST

I would agree with those recommending using WRGs earlier editions.

Mark 107 Mar 2019 2:50 p.m. PST

Blutarski Great find! Many thanks for the reference.

Some interesting bits from that report:


… 19 July 1944
All models of German tanks which have been encountered on the battlefield by American trioops are now at the Aberdeen Proving Groun. Firing tests with various calibers of American tank and antitank guns using APC ammunition have been conducted there.

Now hold on just a moment there, pardner! All models of German tanks encountered are evidently NOT now at Aberdeen. Didn't anyone notice that hole in the sequence: III IV VI ? The first Panther was encountered by US forces in Italy in April of 1944. So someone at Ordnance kind of missed a real issue.

Also of note -- the tabulated test results show that the Tiger would be a REAL problem for the US 3-inch and 76mm guns. I have always heard that Ordnance was confident that the guns in US TDs could handle the occasional Tiger, but these results do not support that conclusion.

Interesting …

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Blutarski07 Mar 2019 3:09 p.m. PST

De nada, Mark.

My suspicion is that the ordnance pamphlet released in July 1944 really derived from tests upon vehicles acquired in Tunisia. I highly doubt that the extensive testing reflected in the pamphlet data was performed, collated, approved and printed within six weeks from D-Day.

B

Steve Wilcox07 Mar 2019 3:45 p.m. PST

Second the thanks for the find, Blutarski! Very nice! :)

Gerard Leman07 Mar 2019 4:43 p.m. PST

In addition to the comments above, remember two things: (1) Even a non-penetrating hit will seriously ring the bell of any crew inside. A non-penetrating hit may well incapacitate a tank though making the crew ineffective. (2) Tank commanders of all nations (except in those tanks with 1-man turrets) tended to go into combat with their head sticking up through the hatch. The frontal armor of a Tiger may well stop a 75mm round, but the commander's head will not, which, BTW, is a good reason to fire HE, rather than AP.

Mobius07 Mar 2019 5:16 p.m. PST

I haven't seen that PDF before but it is included in the pdf from the same library in this search.

Terminal ballistic data, volume II, artillery fire

There are 3 volumes which are good.

A non-penetrating hit could throw fragments into the tank. Also, remember what a penetration is. A 50% chance of 50% of the shell mass that passes through the armor. (As a free missile is sometimes added.)

Mark 107 Mar 2019 5:31 p.m. PST

I highly doubt that the extensive testing reflected in the pamphlet data was performed, collated, approved and printed within six weeks from D-Day.

Don't doubt that you are correct on this.

But …

This Panther was captured, in running condition, in Italy, in March of 1944.

Captured by the French. But one might expect that Ordnance would have at least given mention to it, as it (not this particular one, but the Panther tank) had been confronted in combat by US Army forces in Italy in that timeframe.

I can understand and appreciate the complexity and time involved in getting tanks to the US for testing, arranging and conducting the tests, and then collating the results, writing the words around the collated results, and then publishing the whole thing. I do that kind of stuff for a living (in the commercial world) day to day, and I can attest that it's bloody hard to stay anywhere near up-to-date when you are trying to document an ever-changing reality.

But as a soldier on the front lines my patience with all that REMF mumbo-jumbo would have been about 2 degrees Kelvan (ie: very close to absolute zero).

Giving US Army front-line troopers a pamphlet the claims to have the revealed truth about all the German tanks seen so far, in late July 1944, without any mention of the Panther … Oy Vey that was NOT going to make a positive contribute to Ordnance's creds & rep!

Does give us useful info on the Sherman vs. Pz IV issue, though. Which was the point of this thread.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2019 9:20 a.m. PST

Here is a good site to get an idea of armor penetration:
wwiiequipment.com/pencalc/#

Does anyone use rules that allow the shooter to target a weak area?

Wolfhag

Mobius08 Mar 2019 9:32 a.m. PST

At first I though the boys at Aberdeen just looked up what their graphs said the 75mm M61 would penetrate. Then I used the graphs to see if this was the case.
Interestingly in Terminal ballistic data, volume II, artillery fire are two firing graphs of the 75mm M61. One is an early graph and one is a late war graph and they are a little different. In the early war graph the 75mm shell can penetrate the thickness 3 1/4" total upper hull of the Panzer IV out to 1675 yards while the late war graph shows it to be out to 1765 yards.

The penetration table for the Panzer IV shows that in the test it's upper hull can only be penetrated by the 75mm out to 1470 yards. This sets the German (2" + 1.25") 3.25" armor equivalent to 3.97" of US test armor. (Or, 4.04" if going by late war graph.)

Phrodon08 Mar 2019 10:00 a.m. PST

Wolfhag

Cool find. I'm going to play with that all day… :)

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2019 10:44 a.m. PST

Phrodon,
It's kind of addicting. Be sure to check out the "Advanced Options". I purchased a copy and you can customize the spreadsheets.

Wolfhag

Mobius08 Mar 2019 10:54 a.m. PST

Does anyone use rules that allow the shooter to target a weak area?

Yes, to a degree. In Panzer War there is an optional rule to aim high or aim low. So there is the ability to narrow the hit locations from 10 down to only 6. While the turret locations are all among the higher locations the tracks are only within the lower numbered locations. There is a 10-20% to-hit chance penalty to do this.

Now, if tank data had weak points take the Valentine IX for example.
link

The tankers demanded that the coaxial machinegun be returned. The turret had to be changed again to meet this requirement. An extra bulge was added to the right of the gun, which housed a BESA machinegun. The tank could once again fight infantry, but the addition of a machinegun weakened the turret, since the mantlet was only 14 mm thick. The machinegun mount was vulnerable even to heavy machinegun fire

Blutarski08 Mar 2019 10:55 a.m. PST

Hi Mark,
I could forgive a failure on the part of BuOrd to disseminate any detailed information if the first awareness of the Mk V was the March 1944 capture; that was only about three months before D-Day. But what I cannot square is the fact that the Mk V had been encountered in quantity nearly a year before on the Eastern Front. The Soviets were, as I understand it, our ally at that time; we had liaison people there; we were exchanging all manner of important intelligence information with them. How did news of those Mk V's on the Eastern Front so totally fall down the rabbit hole?

As you said ….. interesting.

B

Blutarski08 Mar 2019 11:05 a.m. PST

"A non-penetrating hit could throw fragments into the tank. Also, remember what a penetration is. A 50% chance of 50% of the shell mass that passes through the armor. (As a free missile is sometimes added.)"

A clarification on "X = no penetration":
That was my own offhand wording.

The original document defined X as follows -
"X Projectile will not pass through (not vulnerable)."

FWIW.

B

Mobius08 Mar 2019 12:45 p.m. PST

I posted this before. I wonder where is went???

Anyways, the US uses criteria definitions of Army and Navy Ballistic Limits. A complete pass through is a Naval Ballistic Limit as explained in pages 14-15.
PDF link

They did not come up with a new definition for that document.

Lee49408 Mar 2019 3:04 p.m. PST

Guys! To understand this you've gotta put yourself in the mindset of US Top Brass. The Sherman was better than most anything the Germans could field in North Afrika save for a very small handful of Tigers. The Panzer III and IV "Specials" with long 50 and 75 guns were rare birds. So the much maligned (now) Sherman was a World Beater at the time.

Very few Panthers were encountered in Italy. So the US Army Top Brass viewed the Panther and Tiger as very limited production and infrequently encountered oddities. When the shortcomings of the Sherman vs large numbers of Pz IV H and Panther and Tiger became obvious in Normandy they were taken by surprise.

Now we can say in retrospect that they could've, should've, oughta have known that these types were going to be encountered in larger numbers than in Afrika and Italy but they didn't. Inter allied communication was not perfect and the combat reports of our troops would always take precedence over second third or fourth hand reports from the Eastern Front.

In actual fact Sherman's spent much more time blowing up German MG nests and ATG positions than dueling panzers. And for infantry support the Sherman with its 75mm gun was a great weapon. In fact many US commanders preferred the 75mm to the 76mm version. The Sherman 75 was a War Winning Tank. Modern historians not withstanding.

Books like Death Traps have captured Hollywood's imagination, but the fact is US tankers had lower death rates than foot sluggers or pilots. So YES the Sherman has trouble on a frontal attack against most German tanks, Pz IV, Panther, Tiger, Jagdpanther, even the Hetzer, but it was rare that they fought head to head. Most Panzers were done in by air strikes, artillery, TDs, lack of spare parts or gas long before the classic Gun Duel that wargamers fixate on could take place.

Cheers!

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2019 7:02 p.m. PST

I'll have to go with Lee on his last post. He just left one thing out – the high percentage of Panthers and Tigers that were destroyed by their crews for one reason or another.

The Sherman was a war winner and the best tank by far outside of the Med/Europe, especially for a pre-War design. Pershing tanks would not have been able to go in on landing craft as the Sherman's did. The US had to consider manufacturing, rail transport, port services being limited because of crane lift capacity, transporting fewer heavy tanks, no amphib landing craft for beach assaults, starting a new spare parts logistic train that will most likely limit other equipment getting their spares, new ammo, training, break-in time, discovery of new problems once deployed (standard for any new equipment), etc. Besides, the Top Brass predicted the war over by Christmas 1944.

I don't think you can really compare the kill ratios as in W Europe the Germans were on the defense with first shot initiative and most likely already ranged in on certain spots and choke points to ensure a first shot hit. ATG's and Assault Guns waited in ambush for side shots. Supposedly 90% of the engagements were not with German tanks.

I also read somewhere (AAR's by US tank crewman?)that at close range a 75mm HE delay fuse could penetrate the Panzer IV turret side and explode inside. They could also ricochet rounds off the ground in front of ATG's for an air burst over the crew. An HE round ricocheting off the Panther mantlet bottom would cause causalities inside without penetrating. WP rounds and a .50cal machine gun (one of the most feared weapons) – need I say more?

I think it was the only tank in WWII that had a turret traverse override for the TC to quickly get the gun on target gaining precious seconds for that first shot. It was also one of the safest for the crews because of the many hatches.

One of the biggest problems with the Sherman is that most (I didn't say all) game designs have not been able to take advantage of all these nuanced advantages.

Wolfhag

Blutarski08 Mar 2019 7:18 p.m. PST

Mark,
I ran across information in another source citing the fact that full particulars of the Panther tank were in the hands of the US Bureau of Ordnance by autumn of 1943.

B

Fred Cartwright09 Mar 2019 4:26 a.m. PST

It was also one of the safest for the crews because of the many hatches.

Only the later ones. The original M4 just had just the commanders hatch in the turret. I think the Panzer IV qualifies on the safest. A hatch for each crew member right where you need it

mkenny09 Mar 2019 5:08 p.m. PST

I could forgive a failure on the part of BuOrd to disseminate any detailed information if the first awareness of the Mk V was the March 1944 capture; that was only about three months before D-Day. But what I cannot square is the fact that the Mk V had been encountered in quantity nearly a year before on the Eastern Front. The Soviets were, as I understand it, our ally at that time; we had liaison people there; we were exchanging all manner of important intelligence information with them. How did news of those Mk V's on the Eastern Front so totally fall down the rabbit hole?

There is a written report on the Russian Panthers but the Panther they sent to the UK (taken at Kursk) did not arrive in the UK until March 1944 and the preliminary examination was published just days before the invasion. So yes the Panther was a 'surprise' but within a year it, like every other weapon advance in war, had been countered. That is the way it works.

Fred Cartwright10 Mar 2019 10:18 a.m. PST

The Sherman 75 was a War Winning Tank. Modern historians not withstanding.

I have heard this argument many times before and the problem with it is it's ex post facto reasoning. The US won, therefore the Sherman has to be a war winning tank, right? Not necessarily. The much vaunted HE capability, while useful is not a war winner of itself. The Germans stormed across Poland, France and Russia with very few armoured vehicles that could fire a decent HE round. Only the handful of Panzer IV's, very much the minority tank, until 1943, and a few Stug's. Didn't seem to stop them putting together a winning formula though. Other arguments like Panzers breaking down or running out of fuel are nothing to do with design faults or superiority of the Sherman and all to do with poor management by the Germans and the effects of Allied tactical interdiction of supplies and the general lack of fuel caused by the Germans failure to secure the necessary strategic oil supply. The fact of the matter is the US tried for 2 years to find a replacement for the Sherman and Ordnance came up with designs that were no better than the Sherman, but more complicated or things that didn't work. By 1944 they had managed to upgrade the Sherman by bolting bits of failed projects on to it, so it was about equivalent to the contemporary Pz IV and T34/85 and by 1945 a tank that was equivalent to the Russian JSII, but not as reliable. So I think it is a valid question to ask why, having done so well with the Sherman, the US lost the plot and failed to come up with a decent replacement design until the post war period. Not that the US were the only ones. The failures of British tank design are well documented, but at least they got a decent design in the Centurion by 1945. Given all of the above I think it reasonable to say the US won despite the Sherman, not because of it, because they got so much of the other stuff right.

Lee49410 Mar 2019 3:02 p.m. PST

With all due respect WRONG!

The Sherman was a war winning tank because it had the right combination of firepower, armor, and reliability. That superb Panther that people obsess about may look good on paper, but sitting abandoned along the side if the road because it had a broken final drive was not going to win any wars! I'm constantly amazed at how people love to rewrite history to support Hollywood myths. Twenty years after WWII the Israelis used those Death Trap Shermans and other "unsuccessful post war designs" to route the Arabs using all that wonderful Russian Stuff people obsess over just like they do German Panzers.

In fact I'm reflecting on most of the post WWII tank battles I can think of and am trying to find ONE where those "failed" Western Designs did not prevail against Soviet Wonder Weapons. And if the German designs were so superior why didn't countries put them back into production after WWII? Certainly some were "recycled" and used but they never were adopted to any great extent. If they were so perfect why not?

A tank is not a stand alone weapon. And I'll argue to the day I die that the US Top Brass GOT IT RIGHT finely balancing logistics, production, capability and reliability. So YES the Sherman was a war winner. A legacy the M1 Abrams continues to this day. Cheers!

Fred Cartwright10 Mar 2019 4:14 p.m. PST

Certainly some were "recycled" and used but they never were adopted to any great extent. If they were so perfect why not?

I should have thought that was pretty obvious. The factories were destroyed and there were plenty of was surplus tanks to go round. To start building Panthers you would need to find the blueprints and then build and equip a factory to produce them. And while no wartime designs were put back into production design features like torsion bar suspension and high velocity, long barrels guns became the norm in post war designs.

Twenty years after WWII the Israelis used those Death Trap Shermans and other "unsuccessful post war designs" to route the Arabs using all that wonderful Russian Stuff people obsess over just like they do German Panzers.

Once again ex post facto reasoning. The Shermans that faced T34/85's in Korea were not the 75mm Shermans so beloved, but the upgraded M4A3E8 versions well supplied with HVAP so much better suited to tank vs tank combat, but without the super duper HE shell of course. The easy 8 was on equal terms with the T34/85 and the US had a significant advantage in crew quality. But Imwould also say that the Shermans rushed to Korea got rapidly replaced with Pershings and Pattons when available.
When it comes to the Arab/Israeli wars in the 50's the Arabs had no such super duper Soviet equipment they had much the same as Israeli war surplus cast offs. By 67 the bulk of the heavy lifting was done by the much more modern designs like the Centurion and the Arab kit was about the same, in fact the Jordanians had Centurions too. Once again Israeli crews were superior. Both sides had ex WW2 kit, T34/85, SU100's and PzIV's for the Arabs and Sherman for the Israelis, but the Arab kit was as built, whereas the Shermans had modern French guns, either the 75mm derived from the Panther gun or the 105mm. Again the Israelis got so much of the other stuff right that how good or bad the Sherman was at the time was irrelevant. The design of a tank contributes nothing to the victory when you motor up to find rows of enemy tanks abandoned by their crews.

When reflecting on post war battles what other failed western designs are we talking about? The Centurion which featured in most, probably the greatest tank design ever? The Patton series? Again one of the most succesfull series of tanks.

A legacy the M1 Abrams continues to this day.

The Abrams is the modern Tiger tank. A very capable, but hugely expensive tank, produced in much smaller numbers than its potential enemies tanks were. Fortunately the Cold War never went hot, but it remains to be seen if the small numbers of Abrams, Leopard II's and Challengers could have held off the much larger numbers of Soviet tanks in the mid 80's.

And I'll argue to the day I die that the US Top Brass GOT IT RIGHT finely balancing logistics, production, capability and reliability.

3 of those things have very little to do with the specific Sherman design. Or are you saying that had the US come up with a better tank in 1943 they couldn't have produced enough, supplied them or made them reliable? So with respect I think you are wrong. Because the allies got so much of the other stuff right the Sherman didn't have to be a war winning design, merely adequate, which it was. Take away some of those things, like air superiority for example and it is now the allied supply trucks getting bombed and suddenly it is Shermans breaking down on the side of the road, because the spares haven't arrived, or running out of fuel and being destroyed by their crews. To finish I will return to my original questions which I note you didn't answer. If the Sherman was such a war winning design how did the Germans do so well in Poland, France and Barabarossa with out anything equivalent. Secondly what was wrong with Ordnance that they couldn't come up with a single decent replacement design before the end of the war?

Mobius10 Mar 2019 5:03 p.m. PST

I'd side with Fred. The Allies could have produced 0 Shermans and the Germans would have still lost the war. The Soviets would have to do much more of the fighting and taken an extra year. They could even have skipped the ETO and the Allies would have won. If there was an ETO the US could of used Stuarts, Lees and some other medium tank and still won.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2019 9:09 p.m. PST

Mobius,
The US could have stayed out of the war and sold weapons to all sides too rather than cutting off Japan from resources and oil.

I'm still on board with Lee.

Other arguments like Panzers breaking down or running out of fuel are nothing to do with design faults or superiority of the Sherman and all to do with poor management by the Germans and the effects of Allied tactical interdiction of supplies and the general lack of fuel caused by the Germans failure to secure the necessary strategic oil supply.

Correct Fred, another reason there was no immediate need to replace the Sherman. After Normandy, the Sherman could advance faster than the Germans could retreat so they left their gear behind. Why put your resources into a new tank when you have complete air superiority, ToT artillery and a tank that can outmaneuver the enemy without a fight? The Sherman was excellent in maneuver warfare and not getting bogged down into attrition tank duels. Why replace them when they are advancing through enemy territory and 90% of the US engagements are non-armor?

Yes, Fred, the Sherman was adequate enough. The BAR was adequate enough. The P-38 was adequate enough. WWI battleships were adequate enough (mostly shore bombardments). If they were adequate enough just use them and put your resources into something else. Yes, they were all dropped after the war. So what? So was the Mustang, FW-190, Spitfire, B-17, and Battleships.

Here is a scenario I'll give to the German player: You can choose to have 12x Panzer IV's and each one will have an 80% of being serviceable and available for the battle or 4x Tiger I's or Panther's but each one has only a 40% chance of getting to the battle. The American side has 15x Shermans with a 95% chance of arriving. Now see who has the best tank. If you take the Panther's, twice during the game the US player can force you to take a breakdown check. My point is much of the negative limitations of German tanks and positive aspects of the Sherman is not reflected in our games. If it was there would be a lot of complaining.

Here it is from an experienced Sherman Commander: link

In another narrative, he described how a German 128mm AP round from a JgPz VI bounced off the Sherman antenna mounting cracking the turret roof but otherwise unscathed.

Consider all the different models of the Sherman hull: Priest, M8 Gun Carriage, recovery vehicle, mine flails, beach assault, bulldozer, MRL Calliope, tank destroyers (M36 with a 90mm gun), flamethrower, 105mm assault gun, Easy 8, the ability for indirect fire. Since you are going to continue building Sherman hulls for other tanks is it really worthwhile to retool and upgrade when you already have an adequate medium tank? The US chose to carry on. Lee says it was the right decision, I agree.

Even the Russians liked their "Emchas". Because of their reliability, the ductile armor meant their crews did not suffer from spalling caused by the T-34 brittle armor. The Sherman had an auxiliary motor that could charge the batteries and traverse the turret without the engine running saving gas and keeping quiet. It was roomy and mechanically fine. Real crews liked it but most gamers are unaware.

As Blutarski said, they had to go with the intel, time constraints and resources they had. Fred is also right about the US "failing" to find a replacement but it wasn't for lack of trying. One of the reasons was they couldn't get a model to pass the ordnance bureau or one that the troops really wanted. The Sherman was doing well enough it didn't need replacing with what they could come up with – doing good enough that many crews didn't want a new tank or gun.

Fred, can you suggest a non-US tank that could have been better than the Sherman in 1943 considering all of the different models and a tank that could get from the manufacturing plant to the front line, fight anywhere in the world, including beach assaults using the current logistical setup? What tank in WWII could have replaced it? Personally, I can't think of one.

How much would it have to weigh? Would it be over bridge and crane limits? What kind of spare parts logistical support would it need (new weapons always exhibit problems). Would it have the same maneuverability? How thick would the armor have to be to stop an 88 round fired from 500m (the Pershing could not)? Would it fit on current assault craft or need new ones? Which engine would it use or would they need to develop another one – in time for Normandy. How much better than the Easy 8 would it be? Would you really chance a new and unproven weapon for the invasion?

The Sherman was the right tank available (best if you want to use the term) for the combined arms strategy the US had. As Lee said, the decision to stay with it was the right one, maybe not ideal but right at the time.

Ironically, IMO the most successful German Blitz tank was the Panzer III, inadequate when compared to the French and Russian "superior" tanks in 1940 and 1941. The Panther and Tiger were designed for breakthrough and offensive operations. The Germans were never to employ them on a large scale against the Allies (Brits too). At Arracourt and the Ardennes they failed, they failed at Kursk. Goodwood was a defensive operation and they could not exploit their "victory". They failed in their mission, the Shermans did not. In Combined Arms the Sherman was only part of a larger equation.

Did the Allies have failures in tank designs? Yes, as did the Germans and Russians, check and see how many of their designs never made it to the battlefield. Hunnicutt's "Sherman: A history of the American Medium Tank" documents all of the development and upgrades of which there were many.

Wolfhag

Fred Cartwright11 Mar 2019 4:44 a.m. PST

Why put your resources into a new tank when you have complete air superiority,

Oh I don't know, maybe to save the lives of more tankers? Why bother with the Sherman the Lee could have done all the things you suggest too.


Here is a scenario I'll give to the German player:

Once again you are aggregating a lot of factors not related to the design and using them to say the Sherman is a better design. A lot of the no shows were due to lack of fuel or lack of spares and a lot of the Shermans reliability was due to the lavish supply of spare parts.

Fred, can you suggest a non-US tank that could have been better than the Sherman in 1943 considering all of the different models and a tank that could get from the manufacturing plant to the front line, fight anywhere in the world, including beach assaults using the current logistical setup?

Well maybe I have more faith in US manufacturing ability and logistics. I think they could have built the Panther, made it reliable and shipped it to the ETO. Remember they were all set to mass produce the M6 heavy tank, which was heavier than the Panther so they obviously thought they could get it to the ETO.

One of the reasons was they couldn't get a model to pass the ordnance bureau or one that the troops really wanted.

The problem was Ordnance couldn't come up with a decent design. Part of the problem was they had a fascination with wacky engineering like electric drives and part was a lack of direction from the army on what they wanted from their next generation tank.

Ironically, IMO the most successful German Blitz tank was the Panzer III, inadequate when compared to the French and Russian "superior" tanks in 1940 and 1941.

Once again I am not sure it was anything to do with the Pz III design. What the Germans put together was a battle winning army and at the time had the resources to support it adequately. And blaming the Panther for the failure of the Ardennes is a bit like blaming the goalie for losing the penalty shoot out, when all the other players failed to score!

As Lee said, the decision to stay with it was the right one, maybe not ideal but right at the time.

It wasn't the right choice, it was the only choice. In order to have a choice there has to be something else to chose!

Fred Cartwright11 Mar 2019 7:25 a.m. PST

It wasn't the right choice, it was the only choice.

I should probably qualify that by saying it doesn't actually matter if it was the right choice or the wrong choice of tank, when you make so many other good choices.

mysteron Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2019 7:32 a.m. PST

Another reason the Israelis had the Sherman is because they couldn't get much else . Selling nations including the British were nervous about upsetting the balance in the Middle East area, hence the supply of Centurions stopped before it got really started. Other Centurions were bought on the second hand market from the Dutch . The Israelis literally had to beg steal or borrow including the stealing of at least one British Cromwell ! As Fred as pointed out the Israeli Sherman was a totally different beast to the WW2 Sherman. Israelis were noted for reinventing tank types and reengineered most including captured Soviet types such as T54/55s and 62s .

Incidently the Sherman by the time of the 1973 war ( Yom Kippur) was obsolete with some being converted into gun carriages and most gun tanks being relegated to Mechanised Divisions.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2019 8:43 a.m. PST

Didn't the US Ordnance Dept develop the 76mm for the Sherman and the 90mm Pershing to counter the Big Cats? If so, then the Sherman's limitations must have been noticed long before the end of the war.

mysteron Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2019 9:01 a.m. PST

Big Red – I agree ,hence my reference to the Brits developing the Firefly .

Mark 111 Mar 2019 11:31 a.m. PST

I ran across information in another source citing the fact that full particulars of the Panther tank were in the hands of the US Bureau of Ordnance by autumn of 1943.

Blutarski – you are correct. The Soviets shared information on the Panther, including details of their own analysis both from German combat in the summer/fall of 1943 and from evaluation of captured Panthers.

Information on the Panther was first published to US Army personnel in November of 1943 in "Tactical and Technical Trends", a publication which you can access online:
link

Further information was published in January 1944 in "Intelligence Bulletin", which is also accessible:
link

So clearly the existence and technical characteristics of the Panther were known. But also it was clearly mis-understood, the operating assumption (provided by the Russians, and perhaps reinforced by the penny-packets encountered in Italy) being that the Panther was a lighter cheaper alternative to the Tiger heavy tank, rather than a heavier more capable alternative to the Pz IV medium tank.

Still, my objection was that the Ordnance report specifically claimed that every tank encountered by US forces had been shipped to Aberdeen for test firings, when clearly the US Army had already not only received info about the Panther, but encountered it in combat, even if they had not yet managed to get one to Aberdeen for test firings.

Didn't the US Ordnance Dept develop the 76mm for the Sherman and the 90mm Pershing to counter the Big Cats? If so, then the Sherman's limitations must have been noticed long before the end of the war.

Ordnance was quite in favor of continued development of tanks and tank gunpower.

Their model was to scale up production using the 75mm gun in 1942, shift to the 76mm gun in 1943, and have tanks with the 90mm gun in 1944.

But we should not just look at say Ordnance had it right all along. They had a lot of propeller-headed ideas (like electric transmissions and auto-loaders for the 75mm gun) that didn't pan out. So not a fount of revealed wisdom.

That said, by the end of 1943 production of the 75mm Sherman had ended, and been replaced by 76mm and 105mm (howitzer) Shermans.

We need to remember, though, that the US was on the other side of the world from ETO. It typically took 6 months for material to go from factory to front for the US Army. Minor quantities of critical material could go faster, but it is no small undertaking to supply an army of over a million men on the other side of an ocean, so the vast majority of material went by the many-months route. Still, the first 76mm Shermans were in the UK plenty early enough for D-Day, but the commanders of the troops going into the campaign chose not to take them, as they were viewed as unnecessary disruptions to training and the all-important logistics of the operation.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Mark 111 Mar 2019 12:22 p.m. PST

Remember they were all set to mass produce the M6 heavy tank, which was heavier than the Panther so they obviously thought they could get it to the ETO.

No, they didn't obviously think they could get it to the ETO.

Ordnance did the design. They were the designers. They didn't have to get it anywhere. They were not the users.

They came up with lots of interesting and innovative (and useless) ideas. That was their job. Present the using forces with stuff. Let the using forces decide what they would or would not need to do their jobs.

So you got the M4. And you also got the M7, T20, T22 and T23 medium tanks (in all their many variants). And the using service chose the M4, and the ETO command chose the M4 for deployment.

And you also got the M3, M6, M10, M18 and M36 tank destroyers (in all their variants). But that doesn't mention than dozen other tank destroyers (like the M7, a 3-inch gun in a fixed mount on an M3 Lee medium tank hull) that didn't get accepted by the using service.

So Ordnance put together a few heavy tank projects. The M6 was a design refinement to the T1 heavy tank project, which the tank board accepted for production. But none of the commands (NATO, MTO, ETO) ever accepted for deployment. Why not? Because they saw very little need (it was practically useless as a design anyways) and they had no way to get it to their theaters of operation in any case.

Just because Ordnance built it does not mean anyone knew how to get it where it would be needed. The process didn't work that way.

Once again you are aggregating a lot of factors not related to the design and using them to say the Sherman is a better design. A lot of the no shows were due to lack of fuel or lack of spares and a lot of the Shermans reliability was due to the lavish supply of spare parts.

Well maybe I have more faith in US manufacturing ability and logistics. I think they could have built the Panther, made it reliable and shipped it to the ETO.

Your faith is misplaced. The US had remarkable logistics capabilities, but not because it was so ordained from on-high, nor because of some magical mystery force of nature. They had remarkable logistics because US leadership understood production and supply, and made decisions that optimized for production and supply.

The reason that there were so many Shermans, and so many Sherman spare parts, and so many mechanics and crewmen trained in using and maintaining the Sherman, was that a series of decisions were made in 1942.

So how would the US have decided to build Panther-Americanas in 1942?

The tanks that came ashore from June through September of 1944 were almost all 1943 production. The majority were crewed by men who had never been in combat (until they got to ETO). Those men, tens of thousands of them, had to receive their tanks, train up in their tanks, practice and exercise in their tanks, get shipped over to UK, and then sit around in depot until they could get ashore in Europe, before they could go into combat for the first time. Now where, in that flow, would you suggest that it would be best to take away the tanks they knew and give them tanks they didn't know? And do you really think crews, green to combat, would fair better in combat in tanks they don't know how to drive, fight, or maintain?

Not to mention that there were train flatcars, tank transporter trucks, and engineering bridging, as well as railroad and port facilities both in the US and in the UK, and LSTs designed, built and transited to the theater to carry them across beaches, and cranes ready to be installed in ports once ports were captured.

And none of those were magical mystical developments. They were possible (and necessarily so) only because the critical decision of what tank would be built in 1943 was made in 1942, and all the other decisions to execute on all those widely diverse initiatives could then follow.

It was different for the Germans. Not only was their supply line MONTHS shorter, they were also providing new tanks into formations that were, for the most part, already veterans. They knew how to drive, how to fight, how to maintain tanks in action. They knew what to expect. Give them a new tank and it was a question of familiarization with the new tank, not training to be a tanker.

And we can still see how badly the Germans mucked it all up, both with their logistics and their training. But that's not because the German army didn't understand the value of training, nor that their logistical officers were incompetent. Far from it. But the decisions made at the highest levels were made with magical mystical thinking about the value of big and shiny tanks.

Sure, after 6 months in action you can upgrade a US tank formation to a new tank. Not so disruptive. But just before they go into combat for the first time? Do you really think that's going to save lives?

And if you can't cross a bridge with your heavier tanks, or you can't get enough parts to keep your heavier tanks rolling, you can always send your deathtraps to do the job that needs doing. Because having useful tools at hand, so that you can focus on doing the job that needs doing, is how you win wars, despite all the attraction of magical mystical thinking.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Mark 111 Mar 2019 2:44 p.m. PST

Here is a scenario I'll give to the German player: You can choose to have 12x Panzer IV's and each one will have an 80% of being serviceable and available for the battle or 4x Tiger I's or Panther's but each one has only a 40% chance of getting to the battle. The American side has 15x Shermans with a 95% chance of arriving. Now see who has the best tank. … My point is much of the negative limitations of German tanks and positive aspects of the Sherman is not reflected in our games. If it was there would be a lot of complaining.

I like the scenario concept, but would add one more aspect.

It is not a single game scenario. Let the American player decide how many battles will be fought. That is the advantage you get when you have greater operational mobility.

So as an American player maybe you chose to have all 15 x 95% of your tanks on one battlefield against however many tanks the German can field.

Or maybe you announce that there will be 3 battlefields, and put 5 x 95% on each of them. Let the German, with 4 x 40% of Panthers or Tigers figure out how to defend three battlefields.

Or as the American you announce that there will be 3 battlefields, but then you only send 3 x 95% to two of them, concentrating 9 x 95% on the third. Let the German with 12 x 80% Pz IVs figure out how he will defend.

Then, as a gamer, you might start to understand the value provided by Shermans. Shermans not only tended to outnumber German armor on the battlefield when they DID meet, but also showed up many times more often, on many more battlefields, than German armor.

And since the American is attacking, and has greater operational mobility, in any case where he reaches a victory his surviving tanks can fight a follow-up exploitation battle against a German force that gets 0% of tanks (unless the German held some back as a reserve). And if the American wins that battle any German tanks that survived the prior battles are encircled, cut off from supplies, and abandoned / lost.

That way you might make some the positive aspects of the Sherman more visible to gamers.

That way gaming experiences might in some small way replicate how such a deathtrap could crush a German army that was equipped with such big, shiny wundermachinen … how out of the 10 Panzer Divisions (of which half were much-vaunted SS Panzer Divisions) and 3 Tiger SchwPzAbts that fought to defend Normandie, Army Group B could only manage to get about three companies worth of tanks, distributed across 5 different divisions, back across the Seine at the end of their retreat, including not one single surviving Tiger.

Once again you are aggregating a lot of factors not related to the design and using them to say the Sherman is a better design.

I'd be interested in seeing what alternative was available, or even remotely realistically possible, for standardization in November of 1942, that could have done a better job.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Blutarski11 Mar 2019 3:14 p.m. PST

Excepted from a research document I have. It is an interesting review of the stateside Army bureaucracy's handling of the adaptation of the 90-mm AA gun to a role as an AFV anti-tank weapon as well as the T-71/M-36 program: the multiplicity of commands, offices and departments; the various personalities; the apparent lack of concern as to time and deadlines.

quote -

Ordnance officers initiated the development of the 90-mm antiaircraft gun mounted on the M-4 chassis on 2 February 1942. Formally recognizing the project on 1 July 1942, the Ordnance Technical Committee recommended development of the vehicle designated the T-5, noting that "Reports from various sources have indicated the effectiveness of the German 88-mm anti-aircraft gun when used as an anti-tank weapon." Intended to use a maximum of components already in production, the T-53 appeared to offer a way to get a self-propelled, 90-mm gun into production very quickly.

For its part, AGF directed the Antiaircraft Command on 25 July 1942 to study the problem of firing the 90-mm gun against ground targets. Finding that an average crew needed 5 to 10 minutes to emplace the gun with its single axle mount, the Antiaircraft Board concluded that the 90-mm gun was "undesirable" for use against mechanized targets, but the T-2 gun mount then under development showed promise of delivering shorter emplacement times.

Therefore, the T-53 appeared to be the only means available to use the 90-mm gun in the anti-tank role. Similar to the T-24 carriage for the 3-inch gun, the T-53 was an M-4 tank chassis with a shielded, 90-mm gun perched on top. Its high silhouette certainly limited its tactical usefulness. At a conference on 24 August 1942, representatives of AGF. SOS, and the Ordnance Department agreed to produce 500 of the vehicles despite the problems.

<<<<< snip >>>>>

Blutarski comment Tank Destroyer Command tested the T-53 and disliked its ad hoc design; and after more bureaucratic back-and-forth, the T-53 contract was finally cancelled , in April 1944.

While the T-53 used the standard antiaircraft gun, it was obvious that adapting the gun to fit the turrets of tanks or tank destroyers would be more advantageous. Therefore, on 21 September 1942, Barnes directed his engineers to begin drawings of such an adaptation. The Ordnance Committee approved the project on 1 October (1942).

Ordnance engineers accomplished the task of making the 90-mm gun suitable for vehicles by adapting the gun to fit the recoil system of the vehicle-mounted, 3-inch gun. The process required several modifications including a new breech ring and machining down the outer surface of the tube. Quickly accomplishing the necessary work, ordnance engineers mounted the gun in an M-10 tank destroyer and fired it by the end of December 1942. Taking the next obvious step, General Barnes recommended that the modified M-10 continue development as the T-71.


Objections to the T-71 appeared quickly. Apparently, General Bruce viewed the vehicle as just another expedient; an expedient made worse by the fact that he already disliked the M-10. However, AGF had already shown an interest in the development of the 90-mm gun for antitank purposes. Compromising, AGF agreed to the T-71 with the understanding that it was a development project intended only to secure information about the practicability of mounting the 90-mm gun on the M-10. Objections from Fort Hood were obvious from the statement that:

quote -
The gun is not desired by the tank destroyers as a tank destroyer weapon since it is believed that the 3-inch gun has sufficient power. It is further felt that the Gun Motor Carriage, M-10, is too heavy and too slow.
- unquote

Despite the early success of the T-71, the project quickly met delays. Tests of the original mount which were ended in January 1943 proved that the vehicle was unsatisfactory, principally because of the basic faults of the M-10. The unbalanced turret of the M-10 became excessively so with the 90-mm gun, and the heavier gun made the lack of power traverse unacceptable. Therefore, ordnance engineers had to institute a complete development program for a new turret.

By May 1943, a wooden mockup of the new turret was completed in Detroit. Enthusiastically, Colonel Joseph M. Colby, head of research and development at the Tank Automotive Command, recommended in August (1943) that the T-71 be standardized even though metal prototypes were still incomplete. The prototype of the T-71 finally arrived at Aberdeen, Maryland, in mid-September (1943).

Armed with a prototype, Major General T. J, Hayes, acting Chief of Ordnance, requested production of 500 T-71's. However, Hayes lumped the request for T-71's with requests for production of a large number of experimental tanks which were the subject of heated controversy. Army Service Forces (ASF) reacted by refusing the whole request.

Apparently unhappy about the refusal to produce T-71's, General Barnes tried to cultivate acceptance of the vehicle. General Barnes contacted members of Armored Command trying to sell the T-71 and exhibited the vehicle to General Moore of AGF. Favorable response from those parties encouraged Barnes to request production of from 500 to 1,000 T-71's on 4 October 1943.

Brigadier General W. F. Dean of the Requirements Section at AGF thought that "General Barnes' recommendation is considered to have considerable merit …" Besides a superior fighting compartment and power traverse, General Dean mentioned that the T-71 weighed 3,900 pounds less than the M-10 since the new vehicle's turret eliminated the need for counterweights. In addition, he pointed out the superior ability of the 90-mm to destroy German tanks or pillboxes.

The superiority of the 90-mm gun was not the main reason that Dean recommended producing 1,000 T-71's. The measure would also use excess M-10 chassis and allow cutbacks in the production of M-10's. The G3, Brigadier General John M. Lentz, agreed heartily, commenting that "We have more M-10's than we know what to do with …"

In the Fall of 1943, AGF found itself with far more tank destroyer weapons than it could possibly use. This was primarily due to a sharp reduction in the number of projected tank destroyer battalions. While General McNair had wanted over 200 tank destroyer battalions in 1942, the War Department had only authorized 144. Since there was no great demand for tank destroyers from the theaters, McNair recommended in April 1943 that the program be reduced to 106 battalions. By October 1943 the War Department planned to cut the number to 64. After McNair objected, the War Department settled on 78 battalions. Meanwhile, production of M-10's had continued during 1943 because there was no alternative weapon. In any event, AGF found itself in October 1943 with existing or projected production of 11,547 self-propelled tank destroyers, sufficient to equip over 200 battalions, versus a requirement for only 2,862.

Based on the fact that "We are over-producing on TD's", General Lentz would not recommend producing 1,000 T-71's. General Lentz believed that:

quote
The mobility of the T70 precludes going to the T-71 unless the added power of the 90-mm gun is essential. It is not at this time. Conditions might change. A few heavily armed units might find employment against fixed defenses.
- unquote

Despite his misgivings, General Lentz concluded that, "…possible future developments of German armor, and the possible need for power against fortifications … warrant construction of a moderate number (300) of T-71's." General McNair agreed, but felt that they would not be amiss to raise the number to 500, enough for 10 battalions and a reserve, while ceasing production of M-10's. Therefore, on 25 October (1943) AGF requested ASF to produce 500 T-71's and terminate the production of M-10's.

Despite the rapid approval of production for the T-71, the vehicle would not see action for nearly a year. Tests at Fort Knox revealed serious problems with the T-71 that necessitated time-consuming modifications. However, the Tank Destroyer Board recommended that the T-71 "be considered suitable for use as a tank destroyer" after modifications. Production of T-71's did not begin until April (1944). In June, the T-71 was standardized as the M-36.

<<<<< snip >>>>>
Blutarski Note Compare the slow lackadaical progress of the T-71/M-36 program through the bureaucracy compared to the pedal to the metal Chinese Fire Drill development program for the M-18. Now let's see how Eisenhower's attitude toward the M-36 went from relative disinterest to dramatic urgency after his forces were introduced to heavy German armor in Normandy

Apparently aggravated by the tough hide of the Panther tanks during the first weeks of the Normandy campaign, the First Army set about finding exactly what weapon could kill that tank. A board of officers moved a Panther to a suitable location and fired at it with virtually every weapon in the First Army, including rifle grenades, 40-mm antiaircraft guns, and 105-mm howitzers. Only the 90-mm gun and the 105-mm howitzer proved capable of penetrating the Panther's frontal armor. However, the low velocity of the 105-mm's HEAT ammunition made it nearly impossible to get hits with that weapon beyond 500 yards. The 90-mm was credited with penetrating the Panther's front from 800 yarsd.

When advised of those results, General Eisenhower was shocked:

quote -
Why is it that I am always the last to hear about this stuff: Ordnance told me this 76 would take care of anything the German had. Now I find out you can't knock out a damn thing with it.
- unquote

General Eisenhower quickly took action to rectify the situation. He dispatched General Holly with a letter for General Marshall demanding tanks and tank destroyers with 90-mm guns. General Marshall expedited shipment of M-36's and pointed out that a new tank with the heavy gun would be available soon (Blutarski yeah, in early 1945).

The main reaction in the United States ws an increase in the production of M-36's. Initial production of the M-36 had already been increased from 500 to 900, primarily for the Army's strategic reserve. As a result of Eisenhower's leter, the War Department's G4 authorized total production of 1,400 M-36's. However, this was of no immediate help to General Eisenhower, who had exhibited such surprise concerning the results of the First Army's firing tests.

The reason behind General Eisenhower's surprise was that the US Army's technical intelligence, a responsibility of the Ordnance Department, had failedto adequately compare the effectiveness of America's antitank weapons against the armor of German tanks, particularly the Panther. There were two major elements in this failure. First, the effectiveness of the 3-inch gun, and thus the 76-mm gun, was greatly overestimated. Second, no one properly assessed the protection offered by the Panther's angles (55-degree) frontal armor.

Overestimation of the 3-inch gun was firmly established by 1944. While justifying a heavier weapon in March 1943, the Ordnance Committee had claimed that the 3-inch gun could penetrate the face of a Mark VI (Tiger) at 1,000 yards. Later that year, the Commanding General of the Armored Command optimistically observed that the 76-mm gun could penetrate the Mark VI at 1,400 yards. In stark contrast, soldiers in combat saw both 76-mm and 3-inch shells bounding off Tigers. A report from Italy mentioned the 3-inch gun versus the Mark VI, saying "While penetration of frontal armor has been effected at a range of 50 yards, it is believe in general the 3" gun is ineffective against the front armor of the Mark VI."

American intelligence never assessed the protection of the Panther (Mark V) despite the fact that the Army had all pertinent details of the tank by the Fall of 1943. In the Armored Command's letter mentioned above, the Panther is conspicuously absent. But in a memo discussing a new American tank on 18 October 1943, General Dean accurately laid out the details of the Panther including the thickness of its hull front (3 and 5/16 inches at a 57-degree angle). General Dean believed, however, that future German production would emphasize the Tiger. Apparently by May 1944, Allied intelligence corrected Dean's assessment of production, since General Holly emphasized the Mark IV and Mark V as the most important German tanks. Despite this, firing tests in England that same month compared England's 17-pounder against various American guns using slabs of armor angle at 30-degrees. Apparently the English were also unaware of the increased protection that the Panther accrued by having its armor angled at 55-degrees.

Even after the First Army tests revealed the inability of the 3-inch gun to penetrate the Panther, the Ordnance Department remained unconvinced. On 5 July (1944), Genreal Campbell cabled General Eisenhower that the "Panther Tank is generally less heavil armored than Tiger Tank …" Despite the tests in France, Campbell claimed that the 76-mm gun would penetrate the Panther's turret at 1,000 yards while the 90-mm could penetrate the hull at 1,600 yards and the turret at 2,500 yards. Eisenhower's reaction to this cable is unknown.

<<<<< snip >>>>>

Although General Marshall had ordered that M-36's be shipped during July, the new vehicle would wait some time before entering combat.

- unquote

Summing up
> 90-mm mounted upon M-10 tank destroyer chassis first conceived in Feb 1942 (T-53)
> 90-mm AA gun modified for AFV turret mounting and first fired by Dec 1942.
> M-10 turret deemed inadequate; mockup of new turret completed May 1943 with recommendation of chief of tank and automotive command to immediately standardize (M-10 + new turret = T-71)
> Prototype T-71 delivered to Aberdeen for test Sep 1943.
> 8 months passed before manufacture of the T-71 (now M-36) commenced in April 1944 using already existing M-10 chassis.
> Eisenhower demanded top urgent delivery of the M-36 to the ETO in July 1944.
> First delivery of M-36's to the ETO occurred in Sep 1944, with a total 236 M-36's reaching the front by 20 December 1944 (Battle of the Bulge) 5 months after Eisenhower's demand and 8 months after start of M-36 production.


B

Fred Cartwright11 Mar 2019 3:52 p.m. PST

I'd be interested in seeing what alternative was available, or even remotely realistically possible, for standardization in November of 1942, that could have done a better job.

We have covered this before, none, because Ordnance failed to come up with any viable designs until post war, and yes I include the Pershing as a not viable design as it was far from combat ready.

mkenny11 Mar 2019 4:00 p.m. PST

People should check the Focke Wulf gap from Aug 1941 to see that this scenario is not confined to tanks. The RAF was unaware the FW 190 and it was not until it got a an aircraft in July 1942 that they understood the magnitude of their error. Despite the 'superiority' of the FW it did not sweep the RAF from the skies and in the summer of 1942 a new Spitfire was introduced to counter the wunder-waffen. Measures and counter in about a year.
I wonder why we don't have a whole publishing industry devoted to regaling us with tales of RAF pilots sent to their doom in flying 'death-traps' and recounting the stories of demoralised pilots needlessly sacrificed on the altar of incompetence?

Fred Cartwright11 Mar 2019 4:52 p.m. PST

So how would the US have decided to build Panther-Americanas in 1942?

Well let's see. How about by building some extra capacity into the shipping, cranes, LST's and bridging equipment. Why would they do that? This is 1942 so the US hasn't seen mass combat in tank country. Ok so let us look at what has happened so far. Gee tanks have gone from 10-15t with 30mm armour and 37mm guns in 1939 to 20-30t tanks with 50+mm armour and 50-76mm guns. We are about to put a 30t tank into production maybe we will need something bigger in a couple of years time. What else is going on. Wow Ordnance have a design for a 50t heavy tank already underway. If we decide we need it better make sure we can ship where we will want it.
How to get to the American Panther. On the 1st May 1941, after the M4 design has been picked, issue a specification for a follow on design. Not unusual, the Centurion specification was issued long before the first Comet prototype had been produced. The specification is for a tank in the 40t range with thicker armour and a heavier gun than the Sherman, but with the same mobility, so requiring an engine with around 500bhp. It should use proven technology with an emphasis on ease of production and maintenance and if possible use as many existing components as possible. State that the first prototype should be ready by the end of April 1942. That would give you plenty of time in 1942 to get the teething problems ironed out and start production. Tough job? Maybe. Impossible? I don't think so.

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