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"Soviet Infantry vs. Tigers... first encounter" Topic

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441 hits since 20 Mar 2020
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP20 Mar 2020 1:04 p.m. PST

"The German 4th Tank Army received an impressive injection of new reserves in March of 1944: three infantry divisions and a brigade of assault guns. The generosity of their superiors did not end there. The 507th Heavy Tank Battalion was moved out from Western Europe.

These heavy tanks were going to be the steel core of the attack, a battering ram for the Wehrmacht's tank divisions. However, in harsh reality, the distribution of Tiger tanks to mobile units did not pan out. Tiger companies only existed in SS divisions and the elite Grossdeutschland.

Tiger battalions formed in 1943-45 were in a strange position. They could easily be assigned to infantry support roles, which was done quite often. Close support of ordinary infantry with tanks was not a very common technique for the Germans, especially since training of infantry in the second half of the war left much to be desired…."
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mghFond20 Mar 2020 1:12 p.m. PST

Good article.

Mark 120 Mar 2020 1:48 p.m. PST

As a result, by April 1st the 507th battalion still recorded 44 regular and 3 commander's Tigers, but only 14 were still in action. The rest were under repair. The attempt to make a steel fist out of 50 Tigers to strike at Tarnopol failed. The goal to defeat the Soviet infantry that crossed the Seret was not even remotely achieved. The Tigers could only claim the accomplishment of propping up a flank of an infantry division … and holding back Soviet attacks in a direction of secondary importance, at the cost of shrinking from a battalion to a company.

When the front line moved up, the Tigers under repair were transferred from "under repair" to total losses.

This is an interesting summary of the combat results of a sPzrAbt.

In most of my wargaming experience, if scenarios were built out of this brief campaign, and played out at all close to history, the Tigers would be hailed (from my opponents' side) as un-stoppable beasts, and I would be crying about how unfair and unbalanced the scenarios were.

In my games the problem is always that I can't kill them Tigers. And this is not wrong by history -- most Tigers were not actually lost to enemy action (as our games portray), but rather to destruction by their own crews as they were abandoned as part of a retreat.

Yep. Can't kill them Tigers. But they will stop working largely on their own in any high tempo operation, and won't be able to have much of an effect on the battle. And very frequently, committing an Abt. to action means accepting the loss of most, if not all, of it's tanks. But not to enemy action, oh no. Them Tigers can't be killed.

(aka: Mk 1)

mkenny20 Mar 2020 3:17 p.m. PST

most Tigers were not actually lost to enemy action (as our games portray), but rather to destruction by their own crews as they were abandoned as part of a retreat.

Because the Germans were in retreat for the later part of the war this meant a lot of equipment (including tanks) was discarded. Lots of trucks, cars and even bicycles were abandoned and left behind. No one is claiming German cars, lorries and bicycles were 'mostly' non-combat losses but they do with tanks.
Why is that?
The campaign in Normandy was in two distinct phases. In June/July the Germans stood and fought. In this time frame the Panzers were shot to pieces. Very few, if any, 'ran out of fuel/broke down etc. In August the Germans were running for home. It is difficult to put a round through a panzer some miles ahead of the front line as it races back to the Rhine. Now losses to mechanical and fuel issues become significant. It is important not to conflate the two types of fighting and then mistakenly assume 'most' were not knocked out in battle. In some phases this may be true but in a stand up and fight situation they were knocked out 'in battle'.

arealdeadone20 Mar 2020 3:48 p.m. PST

Just on the loss rates, when any army is retreating the losses are exacerbated.

Operational rates of any tank were pretty dire in the 1940, not just Tigers and Panthers.

Read about German advances into USSR and most Panzer regiments were seldom even at half strength with lots of tanks in workshops due to not only battle damage but mainly breakdowns. These were Panzer I – IVs as well as Czech Panzer 35 and 38s. Indeed poor old 6th Panzer struggled keeping any 35s in service and at times had no operational tanks.

All fine if you are winning. However no good if you are retreating and there is a lack of time or key resources such as fuel or tank transporters.

Indeed many of the thousands of Soviet tanks lost in 1941 were stuck in depots awaiting maintenance. What was available was also unreliable so was left behind as the Soviets retreated.

This isn't meant to defend a German heavies. It is indeed a condemnation of them – building large extremely unreliable yet expensive heavy tanks is stupid when you are losing and require availability more than anything else.

For all its supposed faults the Sherman was the right choice- cheap and reliable.

A cbatallion of operational Shermans is worth more than a batallion of mainly non operational Tigers

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2020 7:24 a.m. PST

A Tiger which is abandoned due to lack of fuel/ammo or destroyed by its crew when it breaks down is still, very much, lost to enemy action. A smart commander plays to his strengths and exploits enemy weaknesses. If you can cut off logistics by your actions you "kill" the enemy just as certain as a round through the turret. The best way to knock out enemy armor is not always to confront it head on. You make the enemy play your game, not his.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Mar 2020 12:24 p.m. PST

Glad you like it my friend!. (smile)


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