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"assigning crews to tanks" Topic

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14 Jul 2020 5:02 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Korvessa14 Jul 2020 4:24 p.m. PST

I read once that late in the war, the Germans would tend to give new inexperienced crews panthers while the old hats got the Pzkw IV. The idea being that an experienced crew would last longer in a IV than rookies would.
I don't know if that is true or not, but if you were a battalion commander with 4 veteran crews, 4 new crews & you had 4 panthers & 4 Pzkw IV – how would you do it:
a) Old hands get the Panthers, new guys get the PzkwIV.
b) Old hands get the PzkwIV, new guys get the Panthers
c) mix up the crews

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP14 Jul 2020 6:04 p.m. PST

I'd put the more experienced crews in the Panthers, since they are better tanks.

Perhaps though, by putting the more inexperienced crews in the Panzer IVs, they were hoping they'd survive longer to gain experience, so they'd have more vehicles to fight with.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian14 Jul 2020 6:27 p.m. PST

Promote the veterans to tank commanders/drivers, have the inexperienced crew be loaders?

Lee49414 Jul 2020 7:04 p.m. PST

Not the way it worked in the German Army. The US fed in replacements piecemeal, and they died in droves. A bad system. The Germans would leave a unit in battle until it was Fought Out (believe they called it Abgekampft) then pull it out to absorb replacements of men and equipment. Like the 9th and 10th SS were being refitted at Arnhem as Market-Garden started. And many of the Panzer Divisions in France prior to D-Day were being refitted. So refit was generally not in ones and twos but by whole Battalions at a time.

This process ultimately led to the formation of the so called Panther Brigades to shor up the Western Front after the German collapse in France. New poorly trained crews were given freshly built Panthers right off the assembly lines. Without veteran cadres, or sufficient training, they lacked any sort of unit cohesion and were slaughtered by US TDs and Shermans. Arracourt being a famous example. Historians have speculated how the Panthers would have been better used by being given to veteran crews to re-equip the depleted veteran divisions.

Interesting Questions. Cheers!

mkenny In the TMP Dawghouse14 Jul 2020 7:51 p.m. PST

In the sPz Abt 503 History it is mentioned that inexperienced crew were sent to the unit. It is incorrect to claim that Tiger crew were hand-picked.

Martin Rapier14 Jul 2020 10:38 p.m. PST

Many of the later war Panther units had inexperienced crews as that was all that was available when the battalions were equipped and trained back in Germany. The same thing happened when Tiger battalions were re equipped with Tiger IIs.

The most notorious examples were the Panther battalions in some of the Panzer brigades.

If the crews lived long enough, they became experienced :)

Skarper15 Jul 2020 12:49 a.m. PST

I strongly suspect in the West there was little difference in effectiveness of a Panther vs a Pz IV.

The crew layout inside a Panther is poor. It is a large target with weak side armour, so it is not invulnerable. Fireflies could shred a Panther just as easy as a Pz IV.

The Pz IV gun was adequate at typical combat ranges. Being smaller would make them easier to hide on the defence.

The Pz IV is much better at infantry support, having better HE rounds and smoke rounds.

Much as we all get excited by Panthers and Tigers, hindsight suggests building more and slightly better Pz IVs and StuGs would have been more effective.

Legion 415 Jul 2020 8:26 a.m. PST

I think Lee has it right. And as time went on they'd take any replacement they could get.

If the crews lived long enough, they became experienced
That pretty much is the standard for any branch.

Much as we all get excited by Panthers and Tigers, hindsight suggests building more and slightly better Pz IVs and StuGs would have been more effective.
That may have been true. As in the same situation with the M4s … there was a lot of them.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP15 Jul 2020 8:48 a.m. PST

Historians have speculated how the Panthers would have been better used by being given to veteran crews to re-equip the depleted veteran divisions.

Hans von Luck (21st Panzer) talks about weeping with frustration as all the new equipment went to the Panzer brigades instead of being used to re-build veteran units. They thought the Panzer divisions were being punished for failing to perform miracles. And of course all that equipment was wasted, and the remains of the brigades were eventually folded into Panzer divisions anyway.

Personal logo jdginaz Supporting Member of TMP15 Jul 2020 9:26 a.m. PST

The US fed in replacements piecemeal, and they died in droves.

Not true US tanker had a very high survival rate.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP15 Jul 2020 12:07 p.m. PST

Not sure about US tankers but US infantry had relatively higher casualty rates among replacements fed into units piecemeal as opposed to the Germans, who pulled units out of the line when they were chewed up to allow the vets to bring the rockies up to speed

Worked well until the Germans got so stretched out they fed in the replacements as was noted above with the Panther brigades

Legion 415 Jul 2020 2:57 p.m. PST

Generally speaking US Infantry, et al, had the highest losses of units on the ground.

And generally speaking tanks rarely suffered catastrophic destruction. So many of the crews escaped with their lives. Albeit some wounded of course …

Korvessa15 Jul 2020 3:15 p.m. PST

I happen to be going over some of my dad's military records (1Btn supply sgt for 507/82).
he said that when they were pulled off the line on July 08, 1944 they only had 956 men left of original 2800.

von Schwartz15 Jul 2020 5:48 p.m. PST

+1 Bill

Legion 416 Jul 2020 7:22 a.m. PST

Yes, and remember losses come in 3 types :

E.g. in Vietnam some SF units took 100% casualties. Most of which were WIAs. And No MIA/POWS, AFAIK.

My Father an Inf SGT in WWII, the 90ID in France. Had his ear drum blown out by German incoming FA. After recovering from this he was pulled out of the line and sent to do supply work, etc., in the rear. The Infantry Co., he was with he counted as a loss, i.e. a WIA.

E.g. Merrill's Marauders in WWII, the CBI. Started the operation with about 3000(+ or -) troops. By the time they were withdrawn after some very tough actions. There were only about 300 that were fit for combat(?). Most of those 2700 lost were WIAs …

Marcus Brutus17 Jul 2020 5:00 a.m. PST

Skarper, you might be pleased to note that the Bovington Tank Museum agrees with you.

Blutarski17 Jul 2020 6:46 a.m. PST

It is worth remembering that the basic rationale behind the (very rushed) development and introduction of the Panther was to field a solution to the Soviet heavy armor threat and also to resolve certain mobility issues that had been encountered in the East (hence the complex, low ground pressure suspension system). A bigger gun = larger turret ring = larger vehicle dimensions; much of the Panther's weight problem can also be attributed to Hitler's insistence upon a large increase in frontal armor thickness.


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