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"Tanks in Normandy" Topic


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World War Two on the Land

1,004 hits since 11 Mar 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Simo Hayha11 Mar 2019 7:40 p.m. PST

How many tanks did the germans, americans and british have in normandy?

Lee49411 Mar 2019 8:43 p.m. PST

As phrased that's virtually impossible to answer. First you need to specify when. On D-Day itself? During the Breakout? All sides were constantly throwing armor into the battle and tanks were being lost daily so the number really fluctuates day by day.

Also there were many different types so I'm not sure a straight number comparison gets you anywhere … for example both the M5 Stuart and Tiger I were tanks.

Second issue is do you mean true tanks or also assault guns and tank destroyers as well? Much of the German strength in "AFVs" was found in StuGs and JgPz which were turretless and therefore not "tanks"

The best source I know for much of that information is Zetterlings Normandy 1944. Of course for a VERY general idea you could just Google Normandy.

Cheers!

Skarper11 Mar 2019 8:52 p.m. PST

It fluctuated day by day and sector by sector.

We tend to focus on tanks but IMO infantry were the key 'resource'. The front collapsed when the Germans ran out of infantry, not AFVs. The allies were always running low on riflemen, not equipment, and having to delay their operations or alter them to take this into account. GOODWOOD, for example, was launched with tank units because the infantry were exhausted.

Musketballs11 Mar 2019 9:29 p.m. PST

Some useful information on this thread that could give you some starting points:

link

Simo Hayha11 Mar 2019 10:05 p.m. PST

I am well aware of everything you said Lee. I was just curious if anyone had a general idea. I'm generally interested in June to early July. A guesstimate is fine. . Yes I would include assault guns. 17th SS has 43 stug IV and 12 marder III. 12thSS has about 160 split between panthers and panzer IV

Simo Hayha11 Mar 2019 10:07 p.m. PST

musketballs link answers all my questions as more. thanks!

Simo Hayha11 Mar 2019 10:25 p.m. PST

Assuming no lag in losses reported and accurate data on that link average daily complete write off loss rates are
13.67. british through august
9.24 american through July
10.66 german through July

Seems pretty Low in my opinion. there is probably Lag in recording write offs. except for maybe the Germans.

Lee49411 Mar 2019 11:02 p.m. PST

Zetterlings analysis says that approximately 1500 of the 2336 tanks and assault guns the Germans sent to Normandy were lost.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2019 11:10 p.m. PST

Sounds about right for the Germans, based upon the 10+ per day loss rate thru July.

Assuming 5 months – June – Oct., 1,500 works out to be about 10 per day.

Of course, the battle for Normandy was over a bit earlier than that, I suspect, but it's close enough for me.

Lots of time between major offensive pushes, for various reasons, which helps lower the overall loss rates.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2019 2:17 a.m. PST

"Seems pretty Low in my opinion. there is probably Lag in recording write offs. except for maybe the Germans."

Sorry if real warfare is insufficiently bloodthirsty for veteran wargamers, Simo. Would it console you to think that tabletop losses would probably be about twice that, since our concern is whether an AFV is out of action? But I think you'll find actually the Germans have the WORST lag on write-offs--not wanting to admit the loss, they wouldn't clear the books until they physically lost the tank during the breakout. Allied forces, with replacements available, have different incentives.

I also note that that very helpful link--thank you Musketballs!--seems to make no allowance for the "booty panzers." So add, at a guess, 10% to German strength and losses.

Keith Talent12 Mar 2019 4:15 a.m. PST

Zetterling is your best bet.
Cumulative totals for the Commonwealth and USA by 31 August are 4,297 and 4,379 respectively.
He devotes an entire appendix to daily totals for the allies with unit arrivals. For the Germans it is more confusing, you would need to extrapolate daily totals from the divisional daily strengths and make allowances for what were in the workshops on a given day.
Simple answer.
Overall about 3 to 1 Allied to Germans.
In crucial sectors at crucial times it might be as high as 10 to 1.

Fred Cartwright12 Mar 2019 4:30 a.m. PST

But I think you'll find actually the Germans have the WORST lag on write-offs--not wanting to admit the loss

What I have read suggests the opposite. They under reported the numbers of tanks that had in the hope they would get sent more.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2019 6:26 a.m. PST

For US June through August, though you will have to add them up since listed by division or independent battalion
link

For Commonwealth June 44
link

Legion 412 Mar 2019 7:10 a.m. PST

And another point the Allies could generally replace armor losses … the Germans repair/replacement numbers were always small vs. the Allied.

mkenny12 Mar 2019 11:40 a.m. PST

What I have read suggests the opposite. They (the Germans) under reported the numbers of tanks that had in the hope they would get sent more.

The Germans hung on to their wrecks in the hope they could repair them and have a ready source of spares. The Allies struck all tanks that needed more than 24 hours to repair from the Unit at last light.
This has 2 effects.
1) Allied daily 'write-off' numbers inflated because it is not a count of tanks destroyed in combat.
2) German total loss numbers are under-counted because of the hanger-queens stuck in repair.

Fred Cartwright12 Mar 2019 1:56 p.m. PST

The Germans hung on to their wrecks in the hope they could repair them and have a ready source of spares.

It was the number of runners they under reported. But you can get a good idea of German tank strengths as they reported runners, those in short term repair and those in long term repair.

wrgmr112 Mar 2019 2:15 p.m. PST

Great Links Musketballs and Marc33594! Thanks!

Simo Hayha12 Mar 2019 5:24 p.m. PST

mkenny. but eventually the germans do have to write off those hanger queens. They did seem to keep them longer than other countries.

The germans seem to have reported tank losses daily by the way Robert. I think your comment was snarky and rude as well.

mkenny12 Mar 2019 5:26 p.m. PST

It was the number of runners they under reported.

T I have never seen or even heard of such a thing happening. Can you give us an example? I know beute tanks were not always handed over but I never heard of the normal unit allocation of Panzers being fudged.

Blutarski12 Mar 2019 5:31 p.m. PST

The Germans were forced to operate on a different service and maintenance model. Those "hangar queens" IMO functionally served as a used parts inventory due to the inability of the maintenance units to rely upon timely or adequate logistical support.

Strictly my opinion, of course.

B

mkenny12 Mar 2019 8:06 p.m. PST

The germans seem to have reported tank losses daily

They should have and probably did but only fragments of the records survived. German tank losses are patchy and impossible to reconstruct with any great accuracy. Another problem is that a write-off in German terms is a tank that is completely and utterly destroyed. An Allied 'write-off' is any tank needing repairs expected to take longer than 24 hours as well as tanks totally destroyed. A significant number of the tanks stricken from an Allied Unit would be (in German terms) long term repair thus a side-by-side comparison of numbers has a built-in advantage for the Germans.

Fred Cartwright13 Mar 2019 5:34 a.m. PST

Can you give us an example?

12th SS prior to the Bulge reported very low numbers despite replacements having been sent and known to have been delivered. I can't remember which way round it was, but either 9th or 10th SS were supposed to have handed all their armoured vehicles over to the other division, but when Market Garden kicked suddenly found some to use! I will have a dig round later and see what else I can find from my notes.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2019 7:37 p.m. PST

The 3:1 attrition ratio for Allied tanks to German ones is spot on for the often quoted ratio of forces you need to succeed on the attack vs. a defender.

Lee49413 Mar 2019 8:32 p.m. PST

Re Market Garden. I believe there is a passage in A Bridge Too Far that tells how serviceable armor had tracks or road wheels removed so they could be reported as In Repair and not turned over as runners. When the Brits landed they were quickly able to put them back in service.

I can't name any sources but I'd be willing to bet other German Div commanders at times undereported runners in hopes of receiving replacements. Germans were fanatics about keeping tabs on unit strengths, problem is the data were not always reliable especially when the front was in flux like the chaotic retreat from Normandy.

The Panzers propensity to break down and their lack of fuel and spares meant that in widespread retreats many tanks had to be abandoned and destroyed by their own crews. When attacking or holding a stable front many "losses" could be recovered and repaired.

Cheers!

Blutarski14 Mar 2019 8:02 a.m. PST

"The Panzers propensity to break down and their lack of fuel and spares meant that in widespread retreats many tanks had to be abandoned and destroyed by their own crews. When attacking or holding a stable front many "losses" could be recovered and repaired."


I have read some research documents stating to the effect the about half of Germany tanks found on ETO battlefields were unrecoverable disabled or out-of-fuel vehicles destroyed and abandoned by the Germans.

B

mkenny14 Mar 2019 11:17 a.m. PST

I have read some research documents stating to the effect the about half of Germany tanks found on ETO battlefields were unrecoverable disabled or out-of-fuel vehicles destroyed and abandoned by the Germans.
There were 3 reports on German tanks in Normandy. The first was done whilst the slugging match was in play. There are very few panzers marked as self-destroyed/out of fuel etc in that stage. For the surveys done during the headlong flight of the defeated panzers then tanks thrown away by panic-stricken crews loom large. The error is to conflate the time-periods and extrapolate that a good number of German tanks were always lost to abandonment or fuel issues.
When the Germans stood and fought the panzers were despatched by normal battlefield measures. Once the panzers entered flight mode then obviously it is going to be difficult to AP penetrate a tank travelling at top-speed for the rear. Fleeing panzers were lost to mechanical issues but that is the fruits of earlier Allied slogging. To the victor go the spoils. YouTube link

Mark 114 Mar 2019 12:19 p.m. PST

Fleeing panzers were lost to mechanical issues but that is the fruits of earlier Allied slogging. To the victor go the spoils.

Some portion of this phenomenon should also be understood to be universal.

The same results were seen by the French in 1940, and the Soviets in 1941, and both sides in North Africa during the various round-trips between Egypt and Libya of 1941/42.

The advancing side has the opportunity to recover more of their losses. Even tanks that are lost to combat action are often recoverable and repairable. And those lost to temporary down-time issues (out of fuel, broken track pin, clogged fuel filter, etc.) are almost always recovered. The retreating side, unless they have VERY generous recovery assets, loses not only the opportunity to repair some portion of the combat losses, but also the great majority of the temporary down-time vehicles.

I tried to model this very early in my wargaming days, while still in high school. I was trying to come up with a solution to the wargamer's willingness to take 100% losses (in 10 minutes of scale time), which did not mesh well with my readings of military history. I am a micro-armor gamer -- so we are speaking of battles involving dozens of 1/285 to 1/300 soft metal tanks. And at this time most of our gaming, at least the big games, were done in the dirt in back yards (not indoors on table-tops).

So I came up with the idea that every tank "destroyed" under the rules should have a small glob of modelling glue placed on the turret and rear hull, and be set alight.

The side that advanced (won the game) could then recover all of the vehicles lost by both sides, and try to rehabilitate as many of the models as possible. The glue burned well for prolonged periods, adding to the game appearance, and damage to the tanks was sometimes, but not always, catastrophic.

I still have some burned mid-1970s GHQ T-34s and Tigers, and H&R GAZ trucks, in my gaming stuff from my experiments with the technique when I was about 15 years old. I keep them not only as souvenirs, but also as battlefield derelicts to decorate game boards.

We never went ahead with this scheme at full game scale as I had conceived. My most common gaming friends at that time were somewhat less well-off than I, and didn't much fancy losing so much of the tank force they had invested their scarce resources to acquire. And, in order to persuade me, they pointed out that one of my less common, but still potential, gaming adversaries, who had a regular role on "The Waltons" TV series at that time, could easily spend me into ruin if he chose.

All of that said, though, there is very much a multiplier affect on the "loser loses more" process if your tanks suffer from poor reliability, or your supply lines can not keep up a steady flow of parts and petroleum. Because, again, you are losing not only your combat losses, but even temporary off-line vehicles as you pull back. Anything that can not be remedied right here, right now, is likely to be a total loss. So reliability and supply resources matter.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Thomas Thomas14 Mar 2019 1:51 p.m. PST

The Germans counted runners and under repair. The Germans retained a lot of "under repair" tanks with the units rather than send them back to higher level repair facilities. The effect of this is to greatly exaggerate the claim of unreliable German tanks because they retained so many non-runners which would have been "off book" for the Allies. It has no effect on the number of reported German tank losses as these would have been non-runners.

TomT

emckinney14 Mar 2019 7:45 p.m. PST

"Destroying the Panthers: The Effect of Allied Combat Action on I./SS Panzer Regiment 12 in Normandy, 1944" by Arthur Gullachsen attempts to answer questions about why the Panthers appeared to be so unreliable (low serviceability rates). He chose this battalion because its very detailed records survived by chance.

If you have the vaguest interest at all in the discussion above, you'll be fascinated by this, particularly his examination of the German tank repair system and its comparison with the Commonwealth system.

The article appeared in Canadian Military History, Volume 25, Issue 2, and can be downloaded for free: link

Mark 115 Mar 2019 10:59 a.m. PST

Very interesting link, emckinney. Many thanks!

From the article:


…Allied combat action, not mechanical reliability issues, was the main factor responsible for disabling a large percentage of Panthers. Mechanical defects in the first Panther model did significantly contribute to its disastrous combat debut in July 1943, but by spring 1944 the majority of mechanical faults had been resolved. … slow turn-around times and lack of replacement vehicles obscured the fact that Panthers were not unreliable, just being destroyed or disabled at a rapid rate. Due to its adequate frontal armour, many Panthers were only badly damaged and the Germans had a limited capability to replace or repair these tanks quickly. Quick repair was also hindered by the repair organisation being part of front-line German combat formations. … This is an important factor to consider when analysing the operational record of armoured units. The number of tanks they managed to field directly influenced their ability to conduct their missions. This facet of the battle was almost as important as the operational events …

Much to be absorbed. I shall have to read and re-read it a couple times. Good stuff!

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

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