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"Assigning Crews to Tanks: Your Take" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian26 Nov 2021 1:09 p.m. PST

You were asked – TMP link

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 four veteran crews, four new crews, and you had four Panthers and four Pzkw IV – how would you do it?

29% [TIE] said "Old hands get the Panthers, new guys get the PzkwIV." OR "mix up the crews"

22% said "Promote the veterans to tank commanders/drivers"

HMS Exeter26 Nov 2021 5:50 p.m. PST

I'd ask the senior oberfeldwebel for his advice. My guess, the best crews would get assigned to the most reliable vehicles, of whatever make. The noobs would get the least.
Proven crews would stay together.

Of course, if you're a Bn. Commander and you've only got 8 AFVs, y'all in deep pootey no matter what.

I seem to remember a German Panzer General in the Balkans late 1944 who thought it entirely appropriate his command was the 7th Panzer Army, considering he had exactly 7 panzers left.

Heedless Horseman26 Nov 2021 8:50 p.m. PST

Experienced crew in a vehicle that they know well… leave them be.. unless clamouring for new tank!
Brit tankies often hated losing a tank that had served well and had formed an effective team.

Splitting vets among newbies 'sounds' good theory… but how many would survive long enough for benefit?
Maybe 'temporary' placement in a quiet spell would impart experience… if newbies would listen… but let them get back to 'Their Crew and Tank' for combat.

Griefbringer27 Nov 2021 3:41 a.m. PST

Excuse me, but isn't the option "Promote the veterans to tank commanders/drivers" just a sub-variant of the option "mix up the crews"? If each tank gets assigned experienced crew member as commander and driver, and inexperienced member as loader and bow gunner (with gunners a split between the two), then by my account that counts as a mixed crew.

Wouldn't that also mean that over 50 % of those participating in the poll were actually in favour of mixing the crews in one form or another?

Barin127 Nov 2021 6:26 a.m. PST

A crew that has experience of working together has a huge advantage over just assembled – you know what to expect of each other, you have seen all strengths and weaknesses of your comrades.
I was in field artillery, but I guess it is not much different in regards to teamwork. Mixing teams if you don't have the time to train people together might not work.
I'd probably give best tanks to best crews, so I'll have at least 4 tanks fully reliable. Might not be fair to rookies, but it is war.
In my army days once we had to participate in special occasion drill, a kind of a show to top brass and military attaches. Our commanders decided to put together a "dream divison", so they have picked the best soldiers, sergeants and officers to train as new crews. We were lucky to have a week for the training, otherwise it would not have worked as intended. Apart of a broken tow car it went well in the end, but first days were quite difficult.
For instance, when you deploy a howitzer into position, each crew number has its assigned task, but should those finishing earlier helping others, and where exactly>? Is our second loader strong enough to hammer the pin of D-30 into earth?
This is what a trained crew knows, and the one you just put together doesn't

Legionarius27 Nov 2021 8:26 a.m. PST

Leave the veterans together. When (if) there is a lull in the battle, let them pass on their experience to the newbies(if they are willing to listen).

Legion 427 Nov 2021 9:11 a.m. PST

Bottom line, IMO … training & experience + good leadership is a "winning" formula. So that seems to point to mixing crews. However, in many cases attrition does not delineate Vet or FNG …

Heedless Horseman27 Nov 2021 7:33 p.m. PST

Remember, also, that although all tank crew would have valuable knowhow about maintenance and procedures, not all roles were of equal combat experience value. A loader would load on command. Gunner or Hull MG/Radio man were restricted to what they could see through sights/periscope. So, although they could pass on skills, it was the Tank Commander and Driver who made most difference.
Put a veteran driver in a tank with an inexperienced Commander, or, a veteran Commander with a poor driver / gunner… and they would not be veterans for long.
Leave a well working team be.

Wolfhag28 Nov 2021 4:59 a.m. PST

+1 Heedless Horseman

In US tanks the FNG was the loader or co-driver/bow gunner as the TC used the radio. In German tanks it would have been the loader. I did read an account of a Russian TC that drove his tanks with the hatch open to get it in the right position and then go back to the TC position.


Legion 428 Nov 2021 8:41 a.m. PST

Of course, again, crew losses will probably be FNG replacements … Hopefully crew losses won't wipe out an entire or most of a Vet crew. But IIRC in WWII, crew losses per AFV, were 1.3. But as we know sometimes catastrophic destruction, though rare, will be more than 1.3.

Plus some losses will be WIAs vs. KIAs … so with any luck the WIAs will be able to be capable in a timely manner returned to combat readiness. And back to their original crew or a new one. Tank losses could be severe. So you'd get a mixing of crews anyway.

Based on the tempo of combat, etc. There probably will be no "cross-leveling" of crews. Crew losses would be replaced by FNGs. So you'd get a mixing of crew members anyway. E.g. in the movie "Fury" …

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2021 10:07 a.m. PST

The number of 1.3 is tossed around quite a bit. It actually pertains only to a survey of the US First Army from June 1944 to May 1945. The study is contained in Col Dupuy's "Attrition: Forecasting Battle Casualties and Equipment Losses in Modern War". Col Dupuy gathered the data on 898 US tanks destroyed during that period, 797 were mediums and 101 light. He found that in the case where the tank was knocked out and burned there were an average of 1.28 casualties (killed or wounded). For those tanks that were knocked out but did not burn the casualty rate was .78 (once again both killed and wounded). Col Dupuy used a figure of 5 crew for the mediums and 4 for the lights.

Legion 429 Nov 2021 4:54 p.m. PST

Good update, thanks …

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