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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > World War II > Armor in World War II

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Armor in World War II Discuss all aspects & disciplines of World War II Armor here.

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  #16  
Old 25 Aug 17, 22:00
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
The 4th Armored had first entered combat 17 or 18 July depending on which account you read. The Arracout battles ran 16 & 18 September. So the US division had just sixty days of combat experience. It was originally formed in May/June 1942 & included cadres from the older armored divisions, so it was very well trained during the two years.

The German pz Brigades had a veteran cadre, mostly of eastern front battles, but had roughly six months or less training as a unit.
The problem was, the brigades were organized and trained to fight on the Eastern Front. Their leadership, often long term veterans of fighting there like Franz Bake of the 106th, had lots of experience fighting the Russians and none fighting the Americans (or British).

They used all the wrong tactics and doctrine. What worked against the Russians was disastrously wrong against the Americans.
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  #17  
Old 25 Aug 17, 22:11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
The problem was, the brigades were organized and trained to fight on the Eastern Front. Their leadership, often long term veterans of fighting there like Franz Bake of the 106th, had lots of experience fighting the Russians and none fighting the Americans (or British).

They used all the wrong tactics and doctrine. What worked against the Russians was disastrously wrong against the Americans.
I will not say that the tactics and doctrine were so wrong. The strategical situation was very bad and the tools at hand very poor.
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  #18  
Old 26 Aug 17, 00:22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emtos View Post
I will not say that the tactics and doctrine were so wrong. The strategical situation was very bad and the tools at hand very poor.
Yes, the tactics and doctrine was wrong.

In the East, small mobile columns of armor and infantry moving rapidly along parallel lines worked well for the Germans both offensively and in counterattack. The Red Army lacked the communications network and coordination of arms at the scale the US and Britain had gotten it to.
So, these small mobile columns, often led by well trained veterans (even if the bulk of the troops were green or only so-so trained) could disrupt Russian unit after unit taking on each in turn and defeating it in detail without too much fear of a coordinated and quick response.
Reconnaissance and use of artillery were neglected as these took too much time to coordinate. Rapid action worked better.

The Red Army's response was simply defense in depth. Layer on so many defending units that each would cause some casualties and eventually the German advance ground to a halt before breaking through.

In the West, the Germans tried the same tactics at Mortain, then in the Lorraine battles of September and October. The panzer brigades did this same sort of thing. They used no reconnaissance, had no artillery support, broke the unit down into small columns and expected speed to carry the day.

Instead, the first time they ran into US units, the US units got on the telephone and radio and spread the news across their front and far into their rear. The Germans would push forward, expecting to disrupt the defense. Instead, they ran into more units fully alert and expecting them.
Artillery fire quickly followed and its accuracy smashed their column pinned to the front by the unit they ran into. Units bypassed, and others moving to counterattack coordinated their efforts and the Germans then found themselves facing attacks from the flanks.
Their column, no in utter confusion, would fall back in an often near rout with heavy losses.

The 106th tried that. The 112th and 113th did too. All three were decimated in less than a day.

What worked in the East utterly failed the Germans in the West.
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  #19  
Old 26 Aug 17, 15:23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
Yes, the tactics and doctrine was wrong.

In the East, small mobile columns of armor and infantry moving rapidly along parallel lines worked well for the Germans both offensively and in counterattack. The Red Army lacked the communications network and coordination of arms at the scale the US and Britain had gotten it to.
So, these small mobile columns, often led by well trained veterans (even if the bulk of the troops were green or only so-so trained) could disrupt Russian unit after unit taking on each in turn and defeating it in detail without too much fear of a coordinated and quick response.
Reconnaissance and use of artillery were neglected as these took too much time to coordinate. Rapid action worked better.

The Red Army's response was simply defense in depth. Layer on so many defending units that each would cause some casualties and eventually the German advance ground to a halt before breaking through.

In the West, the Germans tried the same tactics at Mortain, then in the Lorraine battles of September and October. The panzer brigades did this same sort of thing. They used no reconnaissance, had no artillery support, broke the unit down into small columns and expected speed to carry the day.

Instead, the first time they ran into US units, the US units got on the telephone and radio and spread the news across their front and far into their rear. The Germans would push forward, expecting to disrupt the defense. Instead, they ran into more units fully alert and expecting them.
Artillery fire quickly followed and its accuracy smashed their column pinned to the front by the unit they ran into. Units bypassed, and others moving to counterattack coordinated their efforts and the Germans then found themselves facing attacks from the flanks.
Their column, no in utter confusion, would fall back in an often near rout with heavy losses.

The 106th tried that. The 112th and 113th did too. All three were decimated in less than a day.

What worked in the East utterly failed the Germans in the West.
Communications and coordination of arms weren't that important in the situation. The main factor was the size of the theater of operations. Without a sufficient number of guns in a sector it would simply impossible to counter an enemy tank assault. The same goes for infantry. There was not enough of it to resist a massed tank assault.

Per consequent Germans needed tank units to be used as firefighters. There were not enough divisions to fill this role. Panzer brigades were a solution to this. They were smaller and could be used rapidly to support the infantry. They weren't intended to replace the panzer divisions. Soviets made a similar thing in 1941 when tank divisions and mechanized corps were abolished in favor of tank battalions and brigades. They went however to far but partially the idea was correct. It's better to have something all along the front rather than have nothing.

Those brigades on the Western front weren't really ill-fated because of a bad organisation. Their training was low and they acted in a very bad strategical situation. In the East, the use of brigades was also limited and no more were formed.
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  #20  
Old 26 Aug 17, 16:19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emtos View Post
Communications and coordination of arms weren't that important in the situation. The main factor was the size of the theater of operations. Without a sufficient number of guns in a sector it would simply impossible to counter an enemy tank assault. The same goes for infantry. There was not enough of it to resist a massed tank assault.
Then you haven't read the cases like the 106th Panzer Brigade's debacle at Mairy at the hands of the 90th Infantry Division.

The Germans expected their night "surprise" attack by fast moving small panzer columns to disrupt and confuse the Americans and cause them to retreat.

Instead, what happened was they first units the Germans moved past got on the radio and telephone and warned neighboring units about the German column(s). Units the Germans bypassed then began coordinating their efforts with other disengaged units of the division to counterattack the German column.
There were instances like the column sent a company of Sdkfz 251 halftracks to flank Mairy when this small unit ran into the regimental cannon company of the 357th IR. The cannon company was alert to the German presence via the radio net and immediately opened fire on the surprised Germans who lost two halftracks immediately. A tank destroyer platoon of the 607th TD battalion got six more in quick succession. The surviving three hastily fled.
The main column bogged down outside Mairy where elements of an infantry battalion with tank destroyer support was dug in and expecting the Germans. A forward observer called in 300 rounds of 155mm on the column from the division artillery.
From 0850 to 0935 the German column got pummelled from three sides as they were pinned to the front and facing increasingly strong counter attacks from their flanks not to mention being under a constant barrage of artillery fire.

Interestingly, the 90th's division history and the US Army's green book on this campaign make scant mention of this action almost brushing it off as unimportant and routine German activity.

Quote:
Per consequent Germans needed tank units to be used as firefighters. There were not enough divisions to fill this role. Panzer brigades were a solution to this. They were smaller and could be used rapidly to support the infantry. They weren't intended to replace the panzer divisions. Soviets made a similar thing in 1941 when tank divisions and mechanized corps were abolished in favor of tank battalions and brigades. They went however to far but partially the idea was correct. It's better to have something all along the front rather than have nothing.
And, that sort of unit would work in the East against the Red Army in 1944. It was disastrous against the US in 1944. It would have been better to use these brigades to rebuild 4 panzer divisions... which their remnants eventually were used for.


Quote:
Those brigades on the Western front weren't really ill-fated because of a bad organisation. Their training was low and they acted in a very bad strategical situation. In the East, the use of brigades was also limited and no more were formed.
Yes, they were. Without air defenses, they were highly vulnerable to tactical aircraft the Allies had in droves. Without artillery support they had no way to deal with dug in well organized defenses and no means to counter Allied artillery fire.
Without reconnaissance elements they blundered forward blind into the US units they were to attack.

In the East, these same units stood much better chances of being effective.
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  #21  
Old 26 Aug 17, 17:29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
Then you haven't read the cases like the 106th Panzer Brigade's debacle at Mairy at the hands of the 90th Infantry Division.

The Germans expected their night "surprise" attack by fast moving small panzer columns to disrupt and confuse the Americans and cause them to retreat.

Instead, what happened was they first units the Germans moved past got on the radio and telephone and warned neighboring units about the German column(s). Units the Germans bypassed then began coordinating their efforts with other disengaged units of the division to counterattack the German column.
There were instances like the column sent a company of Sdkfz 251 halftracks to flank Mairy when this small unit ran into the regimental cannon company of the 357th IR. The cannon company was alert to the German presence via the radio net and immediately opened fire on the surprised Germans who lost two halftracks immediately. A tank destroyer platoon of the 607th TD battalion got six more in quick succession. The surviving three hastily fled.
The main column bogged down outside Mairy where elements of an infantry battalion with tank destroyer support was dug in and expecting the Germans. A forward observer called in 300 rounds of 155mm on the column from the division artillery.
From 0850 to 0935 the German column got pummelled from three sides as they were pinned to the front and facing increasingly strong counter attacks from their flanks not to mention being under a constant barrage of artillery fire.

Interestingly, the 90th's division history and the US Army's green book on this campaign make scant mention of this action almost brushing it off as unimportant and routine German activity.
There is some important things to note about this description.

First, it was a brigade taking on a division. It's a huge difference in forces.

Second, Germans were attacking a prepared enemy supported by
tank and TD battalions.

Third, Germans failed to conduct proper reconnaissance but it shouldn't be blamed on the structure of the brigade since they still had the men available to perform this task.

Fourth, the use of panzerbrigade alone and not in close cooperation with an infantry division liek it should be normally the case.

Finally, the brigade had many fresh troops and was sent to battle directly after being created while their opponents had more than 2 years to be prepared as a division and fought since D-Day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
And, that sort of unit would work in the East against the Red Army in 1944. It was disastrous against the US in 1944. It would have been better to use these brigades to rebuild 4 panzer divisions... which their remnants eventually were used for.
Since no more panzerbrigades were formed to fight in the East, it means that they weren't good against Red Army neither. The mentioned Heavy Tank Regiment Bake worked well since it was equiped with an important number of Tigers and Panthers against an enemy who had almost no tanks and AT guns to counter that. Who was also exhausted by long fighting.

But it wasn't really a error to create them and don't turn them into panzer divisions. Brigades can be present on a larger front and react more quickly. They were also much easier and quicker to form. Their goal is to save the front until the arrival of reinforcements, not to be used as panzer divisions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
Yes, they were. Without air defenses, they were highly vulnerable to tactical aircraft the Allies had in droves. Without artillery support they had no way to deal with dug in well organized defenses and no means to counter Allied artillery fire.
Without reconnaissance elements they blundered forward blind into the US units they were to attack.

In the East, these same units stood much better chances of being effective.
Actually they were well-equipped in terms of AA defense and 7,5 guns against infantry positions.

http://www.panzergrenadier.org/brigade2.html

Their goal was not to counter Allied artillery fire or to deal with well organized defenses.
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  #22  
Old 26 Aug 17, 19:20
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Kampfgruppe Bake may not have been as successful as claimed, though:

http://tankarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2...s-19-time.html
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Old 27 Aug 17, 05:27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
The Germans expected their night "surprise" attack by fast moving small panzer columns to disrupt and confuse the Americans and cause them to retreat.
IIRC the Germans tried this tactic against the Canadians in Normandy, but with full Panzer divisions.

See 12th SS Panzer attacks against Bretteville and Norrey, 8th-9th June:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...anther&f=false

It wasn't lack of equipment or training, it was poor tactics.
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Old 27 Aug 17, 12:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aber View Post
IIRC the Germans tried this tactic against the Canadians in Normandy, but with full Panzer divisions.

See 12th SS Panzer attacks against Bretteville and Norrey, 8th-9th June:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...anther&f=false

It wasn't lack of equipment or training, it was poor tactics.
It was a pretty regular thing the Germans learned after years of fighting in the East. Look at Wittmann at Villers Brocage. He's advancing with a single 3 tank platoon of Tigers (and Pz IV from Lehr shows up), finds the British and immediately attacks a tank regiment with three tanks.
Initially, surprise carries the day for him and he shoots up the British unit pretty good. But, the British react not by retreating but by organizing a defense on the spot and all of Wittman's tanks are lost.
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Old 27 Aug 17, 20:49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merkava188 View Post
How effective were Sherman Fireflys against the Panther?
Really depends on whom has the advantage. The Panther's 7.5 cm will out range the 17 Pdr. Should the British tanks be forced to follow a route known to the enemy the Panther could be set up at a distance from where it could control this path of British advance. Having said so, a longer ranging AT gun could do the same, don't really need a tank for that. So in this case it is the longer ranging gun that makes the difference.
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