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"Tanks - I know someone here knows this" Topic

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Korvessa10 Jan 2020 11:09 p.m. PST

Can anyone tell me what type of tank would someone from the 17th airborne be likely to face on/about April 3, 1945 on the road between Munster and Haltern?

Personal logo Vis Bellica Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2020 2:41 a.m. PST

Looks like a Tiger to me!

Mick in Switzerland11 Jan 2020 2:55 a.m. PST

I would guess that a late model PzIV or a Panther would be most likely. Tigers were quite rare. All German tanks were uncommon by April 1945 because the Allies had vast air superiority.

Panzerkampfwagen V Panther Ausf G was the model produced in 1944 to 1945.

Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf H were also quite common.

Fitzovich11 Jan 2020 4:06 a.m. PST

At that point it could be a tank, an assault gun if anything was available at all. My "charming ex wife, the dragon lady's" Father was a Sherman driver in Europe and he told me that everything they faced was a tiger and an 88. Which was obviously impossible but, I suppose that if you are being shot at, caution is probably a good thing.

VonBlucher11 Jan 2020 4:31 a.m. PST

Most of the larger Cats were moved east to face the Russians, so most likely a Panther or MKIV H or J, or a Stug, or anything else that was around from the training depots.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2020 5:02 a.m. PST

Obsolete and captured stuff was being hauled out of tank driving schools and I think also foreign tank testing sites--not counting captured stuff some units had just kept. I'd use whatever I had on hand which made for a balanced game.

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2020 7:32 a.m. PST

The answer is clearly Greta The Tank, famous German lady wrestler from the pre-war years, who was out ooking to scavenge food for her family. The men of the village said she could be quite formidable.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Jan 2020 1:14 p.m. PST

I read a memoir where all enemy tanks were Tigers as they were priority targets for aircraft…

RudyNelson11 Jan 2020 2:37 p.m. PST

Pnzr IV was the most common tank. However at this late stage of the war, you could encounter Pnzr III upgraded or any tank type that had been sent to reserve formations for home defense.

Lee49411 Jan 2020 3:25 p.m. PST

You might be surprised. There was a lot of heavy stuff as you go into the German training areas. Probably very similar to some of the AFVs they threw at Remagen Bridge which included Tiger IIs Jagdtigers and JagdPanthers. Crew quality and availability of fuel and ammo would have been problematic. While not tanks large AA Guns of 105mm and 128mm were often encountered near towns and railyards. Hope that helps!

Martin Rapier12 Jan 2020 2:19 a.m. PST

Bear in mind that in 1945, German AFV production was predominantly in favour of heavier models and the Pz IV was being replaced with the Jagdpanzer IV. So it is no great surprise to find that in March 1945 the most numerous German tank on the Western Front was the Panther.

From Jentz, panzer strength on the Western Front, March 15th 1945.

126 (67) Stug, 59 (19) Pz IV, 77 (33) Pz IV/70, 41 (19)Flak panzer, 152 (49) Panthers, 28 (6) Tigers. Numbers in brackets are operational. Spread across 7 panzer and Panzer grenadier Divs.

This excludes divisional and Corps AT units which had a mix of Marder, Stugs, Hetzer, Jagdpanzer IVs, Jagdpantgers and only lonely battalion of Jagdtigers (which had 6 runners in early 1945 from memory).

So, if you want a common tank, it will be a Panther or some sort of self propelled gun.

Murvihill12 Jan 2020 5:35 a.m. PST

A chance to use the Pz IV Alkett! The one with the JPZ IV housing sitting on top of a PZ IV hull.

deephorse12 Jan 2020 6:29 a.m. PST

A chance to use the Pz IV Alkett! The one with the JPZ IV housing sitting on top of a PZ IV hull.

Properly known as the Panzer IV/70 (A).

Korvessa12 Jan 2020 7:27 a.m. PST

Thanks everyone.

As some might of guessed, it has to do with a incident with my dad. He was in a jeep with a trailer of ammo and they came around a corner and were hit by a tank.
Because I was too dumb to clarify all this when I(and he) was younger, by the time we sat down and really went over stuff he was in his early 80s and didn't remember as well as he wanted.
I showed him several pictures of German tanks, he wasn't sure but thought it had sloped armor, so I am thinking it was a panther. So I was wondering if we had this right.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2020 3:37 p.m. PST

With sloped armour it might also be a StuG III, which numbers wise was the most common German AFV of the war

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2020 3:47 a.m. PST

Or a Jagdpanzer IV, aka Panzerjaeger IV.


I'd be surprised if there's any orbat info good enough to give you the answer, but from appearance we can maybe whittle it down.

If it was an actual tank with sloped armour, then it was either a Panther or a Tiger II; these really are the only two candidates.

If it was an SPG with sloped armour such that it was the main thing you'd notice when stumbling on it, then it was a Jagdpanther, a Hetzer, a Jagdpanzer IV or a Jagdtiger. All three have sloped armour.

It may also have been a StuG III because the fighting compartment was slopey. I would venture to suggest (purely IMO) it's not the likeliest candidate. The most obvious feature of a Stug III, in the sense of what you'd remember if you drove around a corner and bumped into one, isn't really the slopey armour, because it's quite boxy. I think you would probably more likely notice how low-rise and compact it was.

There is also the StuG IV, which as pointed out above was a StuG III superstructure on a Panzer IV, a model produced to keep the StuGs coming when one or other factory got bombed. Same reservation applies.

On balance I would tend to guess this was a Panther or a Jagdpanzer IV, simply because if it were a Jagdpanther, Tiger, or Jagdtiger, your reaction and the thing you'd most likely remember about it is "Christ that's huge" (Jagdpanthers are startlingly huge in the metal, somehow much more daunting than a Panther).

Korvessa13 Jan 2020 4:33 p.m. PST

Thanks 4th,

I think in a lot of ways, pops was probably a typical GI when it came to views and opinions, etc.
I do think that he was experienced enough to tell a tank from an SPG (this was his 3rd campaign). Though who knows for sure.

He always called it a tank.

Martin Rapier14 Jan 2020 12:28 a.m. PST

My vote would be a Panther. I'll see if I can find the OB for the German units in the vicinity of 17th Airborne which would help narrow it down.

The only Tiger IIs were six with the 506th, and nowhere near the Wesel bridgehead Iirc. You'd remember seeing a Tiger II, they are quite big.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP14 Jan 2020 2:41 a.m. PST

@ Korvessa

If your witness is clued-up and reliable on the difference between an SPG and a tank, which it sounds like your witness is, then we are down to Panther or Tiger II. Here I agree with Martin's post above. On the grounds of numerical rarity it's more likely to have been a Panther than a Tiger II. Plus, if it were a Tiger II, you'd surely notice the huge size of the thing first of all. It's literally the biggest tank you've ever seen. If it was far enough away that the size wasn't the main feature to notice, then your witness was probably also too far away to have noticed the sloping armour either. But he did.

So on a balance of probabilities, and reflecting the knowledge of the eyewitness and the relative commonness or rarity of German vehicles, the likeliest candidate seems to be a Panther. I'll be intrigued if anyone comes up with actual disposition information on this because that's what I'd predict it will show.

It is an interesting point here though. My dad was living in London aged 11 during the Battle of Britain and has no recollection at all of it happening beyond the fact that it was. Doesn't recall seeing the RAF, or the Luftwaffe, or anyone getting bombed. He remembers he got some nice triangular postage stamps from south Africa though. When I was 11 I was obsessed with the Battle of Britain but on him it had barely registered. Likewise, in 1944 he saw a sort of fleeting silvery flash very high in the sky. About 40 years later, talking to me, he worked out that he must have seen a V2 in flight.

I was 18 during the Falklands War. I have only the haziest recollection of it but I do remember that I heard the 12-inch dance mix of "Don't You Want Me" in a mate's Datsun 240Z and was blown away by both the remix and car.

You dad did well to remember a tank with sloping armour, because I am pretty sure I wouldn't have done.

Korvessa14 Jan 2020 12:00 p.m. PST

Thanks 4th
He was at Timmes' Orchard in Normandy, but Never mentioned tanks. He never talked about Bulge much (his regiment – 507 PIR – was transferred from 82nd to 17th by then).
According to various situation maps I have found, during the Bulge the 17th was against 3rd Panzer Gren & Fuhrer Belgleit Brigade (or however you spell that).
He only ever mentioned 2 other experiences with tanks that I recall. And this is going from memory many years ago, so may not have it exactly right.
One was seeing a tank hidden in some kind of building while they were attempting repairs.
The other he only ever told me once, when I told him I was going to armor school in '88. He talked about examining a Sherman after it had been taken out. It must have been a powerful emotional event, as I can vividly recall the look on his face (even 40 years after event) as he described the poor fellows inside.
I told him tanks were better now (I trained on M60A3).

Martin Rapier15 Jan 2020 2:04 a.m. PST

Ok, I did a bit more digging around and as far as I can tell the only Panzer units in the area of 17th AB in March/April 1945 Was the Army Group H reserve, 47th Panzer Corps.

The Corps fielded 116th Panzer and 15th Panzergrenadier Divs, and on 15th March (just before Operation Varsity) the fielded:

116th Panzer: 11 Stugs, 6 PzIV, 7 Pz IV/70, 10 Flakpanzers and 32 Panthers.

15th PGD: 15 Stug, 3 Pz IV, 21 Pz IV/70, 2 Flakpanzers.

Operational readiness of AFVs both divisions was poor (25-50%) but having so many vehicles in workshops meant they could cycle vehicles to the front as they were fixed:)

Of that lot, both the Pz IVs and Flakpanzers are fairly boxy and present in small numbers, so I'd say it was most likely a Panther from 116th Panzer Div.

Korvessa15 Jan 2020 8:32 a.m. PST

Thank you very much Martin!

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