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

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  #331  
Old 15 Apr 12, 12:40
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Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
By all means believe whomever you wish. After all you have made it abundantly clear, here and on other threads, that you do not believe veterans when their actual experience conflicts with your preconceived notions about Sherman tanks.
I don't believe veterans? I think I must have written poorly, I meant to communicate that I have no reason to believe you.

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Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
No I am not professing to be an expert. I am attempting to share what I have learned from real experts, the veterans who actually took Shermans into combat. You just don't like what I am reporting, and it certainly colors your responses.
Run away from the word "expert" if you like but the bottom line is that TA Gardner obtains his information one way and you obtain yours by another. You labeled him and internet expert but profess to know more. If I ask him where he gets his information he will tell me where he got it so I might corroborate his statement. When you are asked where you got your data you offer nothing that can be corroborated. Did I miss something?
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  #332  
Old 15 Apr 12, 12:44
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Originally Posted by panther3485 View Post
It is at times like this, that I would love to be able to climb into a Sherman and position myself in either the Driver's or Assistant Driver's station to see just how this would be done.
I'm getting in my car right now and driving to Aberdeen...I'm just wondering who I have to bribe to let me in to one of the tanks...or did they move them all to Va.? Damn!
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  #333  
Old 15 Apr 12, 13:55
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Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
You miss the point, and that is my fault.

As I understand it Bark was addressing a specific survey related to a report and speculating on its possible inaccuracy due to faulty wording. My intention was to ask how he knew the wording was wrong if he had not seen it? To me it seems he was laying the ground work to dismiss the survey results if it did not agree with his preconceived notions about the Sherman tank.
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  #334  
Old 15 Apr 12, 14:56
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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
That is why he will not be using the following in detail to prove the value of the M4 in combat
Why don't you address me? Do you have a point make?
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  #335  
Old 15 Apr 12, 16:34
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Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
Thank you for providing the citation.

However, that's not the same thing as TA Gardner was saying. He was referring to the asst. driver's handling ammunition as a component of the rate of fire while in combat. That is the way I posed the question to the veterans. I did not ask them if the asst. driver or driver ever handled ammunition since I already knew they did.... just not during actual combat. Or if they did it was an unusual thing, not standard practice of experienced crews.

The FM is a restocking/ammo shifting issue rather than one which affects the rate of fire in combat. As the FM implies by its wording, in actual combat neither the driver or asst. driver would be available to handle rounds for the main gun.
The FM is a restocking/ammo shifting issue rather than one which affects the rate of fire in combat. As the FM implies by its wording, in actual combat neither the driver or asst. driver would be available to handle rounds for the main gun.
I am in the embarrassing position of having to correct myself, and admit an error in the above comments.

This morning I called a former platoon sergeant (Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart) from a medium tank company to double check the whole asst. driver/driver handling ammunition for the main gun. He set me straight in gentle, but unequivocal terms. (On Bark’s scale his cognitive ability is a 9 or 10.)

He did not believe an asst. driver in a fully loaded Sherman could hand main gun rounds to the loader or gunner while in combat. He added that he would not have wanted his asst. drivers to leave their gun position to do this, and never saw it done. After some reflection he did think a “small, wiry” asst. driver might be able to handle the few rounds that he could reach from his position, and then only with some effort. Without a doubt this was not a routine function of the asst. driver as TA Gardner claims. He also noted the driver had plenty to do without worrying about handling rounds, and never saw it done.

He told me that the FM previously referenced was only a suggestion, and that using the asst. driver/driver to hand rounds to the loader/gunner was not done either during training drills or in combat. He went on to point out that the asst. driver/driver did handle rounds for the main gun when the tank was pulled back a short distance from the front lines to refuel and reload. The lesson for me is this; what an FM suggested, and what was actually doable in combat were sometimes two very different things.

Last edited by Sleepy Head; 15 Apr 12 at 17:42..
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  #336  
Old 15 Apr 12, 16:42
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Originally Posted by panther3485 View Post
It is at times like this, that I would love to be able to climb into a Sherman and position myself in either the Driver's or Assistant Driver's station to see just how this would be done.
If you do keep in mind a combat loaded tank with all the gear, ammo, etc. is much more crowded than an empty one. As the platoon sergeant mentioned this morning the asst. driver usually had a couple of cans of .30 cal. ammo on the floor and I think he said there was more (.30 and .50) behind him somewhere.

Here is a cautionary tale. A couple of years ago I talked with a veteran signal man who got to ride in a light tank (M5) during a parade or something. As soon as he climbed in the turret he noticed the radio was hooked up wrong. He asked if the radio worked. The owner of the tank told him they had never been able to get the radio to work properly. The veteran switched a couple of connections, and it worked just fine. To me this means you can miss important details no matter how much study you do, or the amount of climbing around you do in a tank. Put another way, actual experience is the best teacher.
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  #337  
Old 15 Apr 12, 17:12
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I don't believe veterans. I think I must have written poorly, I meant to communicate that I have no reason to believe you.
You missed my point, but Nick got it. See post #329.

I have absolutely no reason to be concerned by your belief or disbelief. I just don’t care.
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  #338  
Old 15 Apr 12, 18:18
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
"I don't believe veterans. I think I must have written poorly, I meant to communicate that I have no reason to believe you."
I presume you meant to say, "I don't disbelieve veterans. ... "
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  #339  
Old 15 Apr 12, 18:20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
I'm getting in my car right now and driving to Aberdeen...I'm just wondering who I have to bribe to let me in to one of the tanks...or did they move them all to Va.? Damn!
I was very lucky last time I had a serious look at a tank, because the museum staff allowed me to climb inside free of any extra charge. Trouble is, it was an M3 Medium, not an M4 (still a very enjoyable and informative experience, though, and I took quite a few photos too!)
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  #340  
Old 15 Apr 12, 18:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
If you do keep in mind a combat loaded tank with all the gear, ammo, etc. is much more crowded than an empty one. As the platoon sergeant mentioned this morning the asst. driver usually had a couple of cans of .30 cal. ammo on the floor and I think he said there was more (.30 and .50) behind him somewhere.

Here is a cautionary tale. A couple of years ago I talked with a veteran signal man who got to ride in a light tank (M5) during a parade or something. As soon as he climbed in the turret he noticed the radio was hooked up wrong. He asked if the radio worked. The owner of the tank told him they had never been able to get the radio to work properly. The veteran switched a couple of connections, and it worked just fine. To me this means you can miss important details no matter how much study you do, or the amount of climbing around you do in a tank. Put another way, actual experience is the best teacher.
Point taken. However, while I can never replicate the combat experience of a veteran who actually fought in the Sherman during WW2, being able to position myself inside one would help me understand a whole lot better than sitting at my desk!

I also suspect that my physical size (6'1' and not as slim as I used to be ) might be something of an impediment to movement inside the tank, so I'd have to allow for that too.
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  #341  
Old 15 Apr 12, 18:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
Why don't you address me? Do you have a point make?

You mentioned the book here with regards to the derogatory comments produced here about US Sherman tankers complaints about their kit when compared to the enemies. You remarked that the whole report was not used, implying that only negative comments were taken. Well, now that I've read it, I decided to see if any Sherman tanker thought their tank was overall better than the enemies. Not one did. However, there are over 50 statements endorsing the superiority of German tanks in combat over the Sherman.

The reason for the Shermans success was the high morale of the crews and their training, not the tank itself. Colonel S R Hinds states:
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In my opinion, the reason our armour has engaged the German tanks as successfully as it has is not due by any means to a superior tank but to our superior numbers of tanks on the battlefield and the willingness of our tankers to take their losses while maneuvering to a position where a penetrating shot can be put through a weak spot of the enemy tank.
It is quite clear to me (at least) that the US Sherman crews are better than their opponents, which is shown by the fact they are able to close and get several shots off first, and hit. This should not be surprising since the W Ally tankers were not limited by lack of fuel or ammo for training.

I realise that it is an unconventional view to have an opinion that Allied tankers were more skillful and had greater morale than their German counterparts in 44/5, but I believe there is enough evidence to justify that position.

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  #342  
Old 15 Apr 12, 18:41
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Nick,

Don't forget that a number of American Armor replacements were simply seized at a nearby Repple Depple and put in a tank to be sent up to the Front. At least the driver got some practice at his craft on the way there. Most of these guys did not survive their first combat.

A similar instance happened when the German High Command decided to create "Panzer Brigades" of a Panther battalion and a Armored Infantry Battalion and sent them straight into combat. The American 4th Armor Division met and cleaned the clock of one such unit in Lorraine. German commanders then just distributed the remains into veteran units where they would do some good!

Veteran American units could stand up to German tanks. They might not have enjoyed it much...

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  #343  
Old 15 Apr 12, 18:49
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Nick,

Don't forget that a number of American Armor replacements were simply seized at a nearby Repple Depple and put in a tank to be sent up to the Front. At least the driver got some practice at his craft on the way there. Most of these guys did not survive their first combat.

A similar instance happened when the German High Command decided to create "Panzer Brigades" of a Panther battalion and a Armored Infantry Battalion and sent them straight into combat. The American 4th Armor Division met and cleaned the clock of one such unit in Lorraine. German commanders then just distributed the remains into veteran units where they would do some good!

Veteran American units could stand up to German tanks. They might not have enjoyed it much...

Pruitt
It is true that armour losses were so high at one point that some riflemen were put into Shermans and sent into combat after a single days training. However, this was an exception iirc, although it did show that the tank had an issue in protecting its crew in most models most of the time.

However, the fact that W Ally crewmen did often strike a tougher and more powerfully armed enemy first shows both courage and skill, a fact overlooked by many.
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  #344  
Old 15 Apr 12, 19:12
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I agree with Panther. Even today obvious examples of crew proficiency by allied crews are overlooked, while any feat by a German one is often praised as spectacular.

As but one example, the crew of which Joe Etkins was the gunner destroyed 3 Tiger tanks with their Firefly in a matter of minutes. (Why is only the gunner mentioned? What about the Sgt who commanded the vehicle? Could it be because of people's fascination with the 17lbr? Thus this was the only factor in what happened? The rest of the crew is immaterial?)

Even at that, only the fact that one of those tanks may have been crewed by Michael Wittmann brings any notice of the feat of arms accomplished by that crew.
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Old 15 Apr 12, 19:26
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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
It is true that armour losses were so high at one point that some riflemen were put into Shermans and sent into combat after a single days training. However, this was an exception iirc, although it did show that the tank had an issue in protecting its crew in most models most of the time.
Everything I've heard and read suggests that in the US Army the shortage of riflemen was so great they were never (very very rarely?) sent to tanks as replacements.

Many of the replacements for tanks were never trained for that sort of job. I know of several incidents in which asst. cooks, truck/peep drivers, and clerks were sent to the tanks as replacements. Whenever possible they were put in as asst. drivers since that was the least important position in the tank.

Quote:
However, the fact that W Ally crewmen did often strike a tougher and more powerfully armed enemy first shows both courage and skill, a fact overlooked by many.
After discussing this sort of thing with a retired Lt. Col. who graduated from West Point in the 1980s he shook his head and observed that “it took great big brass ones” to climb back into another Sherman right after being knocked out by one of the heavier cats. I think he got it right.
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