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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 07 Jan 16, 13:06
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Originally Posted by EKB View Post
OK not a Tiger II, but an early 75mm Sherman tank killed a Tiger I at Cecina, Italy. The shots were fired at point blank range in a urban setting. Fortunately, many photographs were taken afterward which makes the story all the more interesting.


http://www.752tank.com/cecina.html
Here's the vid...

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  #17  
Old 07 Jan 16, 13:29
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Originally Posted by IDonT4 View Post
However, during those rare times when a Tiger or Panther get into battle with Shermans, their tactical superiority is decisive.
You mean the tactical superiority of the Sherman, right?
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  #18  
Old 07 Jan 16, 15:08
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Websites? No, not particularly. I do have a number of detailed accounts in books on these. As a rule, the Germans do well with those vehicles only defensively and in ambush. Offensively, they don't work well.

For example, the 654th S. Pzjr Abt. with Jagdpanthers in Normandy engaged British armored formations almost entirely. In their first engagement they had a single zug (platoon) of three vehicles present. After opening fire from cover British return fire quickly disabled one vehicle and the other two retired.

In the Ardennes, SS S. Pz. Abt. 501 was put at the rear of KG Piper because it was feared that the King Tigers might collapse a bridge or break down blocking the road and halt the advance.

S Pz. Abt. 503 didn't perform stellarly either in Normandy or the Ardennes.

For Panthers v. Shermans, see the Arracourt battles in October 44. The 5 panzer brigades committed there along with Pz. Lehr and other panzer formations got pretty much stomped on hard.

The "twin villages" battle in the Schnee Eifel in the Ardennes was another typical one. The US gave as good as they got.

On the whole, German panzer formations didn't perform that well in the ETO from D-Day on. A big reason for that was German tactics and leadership had evolved fighting on the Eastern Front. What worked there didn't work in the West. But, most panzer leaders and units had little or no experience with Western armies and their tactics so they went with what they knew. That usually got them their collective @$$ handed to them.
Some failings that worked in Russia that wouldn't work in France:

Attacking without combined arms support. That is, armor often went into action without infantry or artillery support. There was little attempt to integrate either, or antitank guns, and other types of units into attack columns.
That meant they had no way to hold ground, or really attack prepared positions.

Attacking without adequate reconnaissance or planning. Quite often panzer units went into action fighting by the seat of their pants. That is, they knew the enemy was doing something "over there" and attacked without knowing for sure the enemy's strength, deployment, or intentions.
This usually resulted in the Germans blundering into allied units blindly and finding their opponents knew full well they were coming and are "loaded for bear."

The Germans got used to fighting Soviet units that often had poor mobility and lacked good communications. That is, when they ran into Soviet units each one had to fight its own battle most of the time. The Red Army simply lacked the radios, telephones, and vehicles in the sort of quantity the US and Britain supplied their units. This isn't a fault of the Soviets, it was simply a reality they were dealing with given their ability to supply the equipment.
Against that sort of unit, small fast moving panzer columns could disrupt units after unit with follow on forces mopping up.
In the West the second a small fast moving panzer column ran into opposition that opposition called for artillery fire, then alerted every other unit in the area via radio and phone. With lots of vehicles and mobility, units started to move and coordinate counter attacks on the German column(s) while the Germans now ran into fully alert and ready units that stopped them cold.

An excellent example of this is the 106th Panzer Brigade in October 1944. Commanded by Obrest Franz Bäke, an Eastern Front panzer ace and commander, the unit went into action against the US 90th Infantry division. In less than 48 hours the panzer brigade was reduced to about 10% of its initial forces having been literally ground up in nothing flat as each of its three small columns ran, repeatedly, into fully ready defenses that halted them while attached tanks and tank destroyers moved to counter attack the columns in the flanks as they were pummeled by artillery fire.

The Mortain counterattack is a good example of how panzers performed too. That offensive action failed for the same reason as above. The US (the British did the same sort of thing) used combined arms and excellent communications to smash the German attack columns that often had little real idea what was going on beyond what they themselves could see.
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  #19  
Old 07 Jan 16, 16:00
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Originally Posted by Cult Icon View Post
Tigers in the Ardennes: The 501st Heavy SS Tank Battalion in the Battle of the Bulge

http://www.amazon.com/Tigers-Ardenne.../dp/076434790X

most of the tiger battalions were in the East, and Pz IV and Panthers were frequently misidentified as tigers.
I heard that Peiper only had 6 Tigers still with him when he was surrounded, which might have been a plus for him... a string of indestructible bread-crumbs leading the rest of his division to his latest position.

You never hear about Tigers being assumed to be lesser vehicles.
Happened to me, believe it or not. Remember Band of Brothers? Well, in that ambush battle one of them pointed out a Tiger, and I too a look at what was on the screne. "No, that's just a Stug with a bunch of Hay thrown over it." And then it started to move... whoops!
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  #20  
Old 07 Jan 16, 21:06
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there are 48 mentions of "Tiger" in the new tank destroyer memoir: "American Knights" (601.TD Battalion)

http://www.amazon.com/American-Knigh.../dp/1472809351
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  #21  
Old 13 May 16, 13:26
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Lack of combined arms plus Euro shorter distances

To: T.A. Gardner

great analysis how lack of combined arms in European panzer ops failed vs. Allied use of combined arms, radio and artillery, etc.

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the issue of:
the lack of opportunities for Panzers in West to use their long-range tank guns to full effect compared to opportunities in East. Not to say that all Western battles were in the bocage but I think you know what I mean.

thanks, Dan
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  #22  
Old 13 May 16, 14:52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
I heard that Peiper only had 6 Tigers still with him when he was surrounded, which might have been a plus for him... a string of indestructible bread-crumbs leading the rest of his division to his latest position.

You never hear about Tigers being assumed to be lesser vehicles.
Happened to me, believe it or not. Remember Band of Brothers? Well, in that ambush battle one of them pointed out a Tiger, and I too a look at what was on the screne. "No, that's just a Stug with a bunch of Hay thrown over it." And then it started to move... whoops!
The ambush depicted in the BoB is a contraction of two separate actions one around Nuenen (Opwetten), The Panzer here were Panther and a later action at Koevering with the single Panzer laying in wait being a StuG III D The famous warning to the British tank was taken from this action. The warning to the tank commander was given by Winters. This I gleaned from the book Easy Company Soldier, which does not actually mentions Koevering. As the location of an ambush at Koevering was known to me as a kid living in the area it was simple to match the account with the location.

Opwetten (Nuenen) as depicted in the series, somewhat resembles the village as it was. The action shown is actually that of D company, E went around the left of the cemetery. Cinematographically the course taken by D company makes for better viewing. Koevering was different, the StuG had been dug in at the edge of a copse, which is why the Sherman driver did not notice the ambush until he was on top of it.

The Panzer in the East Brabant were Panther StuG and Jagdpanther. No Tigers here during Market Garden. The seemingly superior guns on the German Panzer did not have the advantage of long range engagement here.
Typical fighting distance 300-600 yds. The Sherman did not really have a disadvantage in this respect. The fact that Panther could more easily cross soft terrain than the Sherman, was the biggest disadvantage for the Sherman in East Brabant. Many a Panther was knocked out by the Sherman crews, in De Peel.
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  #23  
Old 13 May 16, 15:23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsenebrecht View Post
To: T.A. Gardner

great analysis how lack of combined arms in European panzer ops failed vs. Allied use of combined arms, radio and artillery, etc.

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the issue of:
the lack of opportunities for Panzers in West to use their long-range tank guns to full effect compared to opportunities in East. Not to say that all Western battles were in the bocage but I think you know what I mean.

thanks, Dan
From the examples I've read where the panzers were able to get in some long range shooting it really doesn't matter. They get the drop on an Allied unit, initially take a few vehicles out. The Allies respond by returning fire, laying smoke, and withdrawing to cover. They then call air and artillery strikes down on the German positions.
The Allies might not even know for sure what the Germans have. They don't care. Fighter bombers or artillery will mop the floor with the Germans. If the German vehicles suffer any damage immobilizing them, such as loss of a track, mechanical breakdown, or engine damage they are lost. The Germans rarely ended up holding the battlefield and even when they did, their ability to recover damaged AFV was limited. It's not that they wouldn't try. They put great effort into doing that. It was just they had limited recovery equipment and limited ability to repair a vehicle in situ.

For example, I read about a case in Normandy where the 654th PzJr Abt (Jadgpanthers) had three vehicles placed on a ridge line covering an expected British line of advance. When Chruchills from a tank brigade began to advance as expected, these three Jadgpanthers opened fire destroying several British tanks. The British returned fire, then 25 pdr artillery started landing on the Germans. One Jadgpanther lost a track. The other two retired to avoid destruction. The vehicle that lost a track was captured.

This sort of thing wouldn't happen in the East. The Red Army didn't have the real-time ability to call down artillery fire or air support like that. They'd have to slog thorough against the opposition or go around it like a rock in a stream.
The German response in the West should have been (if the means were available) to call artillery fire on the advancing vehicles then open fire once they were under artillery fire. That would cover the AT fire and allow a longer engagement time. But, the Wehrmacht lacked both the artillery tubes, and flexibility of technique to do that.
As an alternate, the unit should have had supporting infantry with mortars and done the same thing. Again, the Germans often failed to use good tight combined arms tactics for whatever reason.
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Old 13 May 16, 15:44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
I heard that Peiper only had 6 Tigers still with him when he was surrounded, which might have been a plus for him... a string of indestructible bread-crumbs leading the rest of his division to his latest position.
The last 6 out of 13 that S. Pz Abt 501 started with KG Pieper. Four of those were 334, 221, 204, and 213.

The other 7 broke down somewhere along the advance route.
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Old 13 May 16, 16:07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

On the whole, German panzer formations didn't perform that well in the ETO from D-Day on. A big reason for that was German tactics and leadership had evolved fighting on the Eastern Front. What worked there didn't work in the West. ...
You are comparing 1941/42 Red Army with 1944 Western allies. By 1944 the old panzer tactics didn't work against the Russians either. They came loaded for bear as well with every army equipped with multiple destroyer brigades, independent tank brigades and regiments and tank destroyer units. The destroyer brigades (48 to 72 AT guns) would be deployed en masse on likely avenues of approach.

Both the Western Allies and the Russians had figured out how to stop German Panzers by 1944 and both were good at it.
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  #26  
Old 13 May 16, 16:34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdrianE View Post
You are comparing 1941/42 Red Army with 1944 Western allies. By 1944 the old panzer tactics didn't work against the Russians either. They came loaded for bear as well with every army equipped with multiple destroyer brigades, independent tank brigades and regiments and tank destroyer units. The destroyer brigades (48 to 72 AT guns) would be deployed en masse on likely avenues of approach.

Both the Western Allies and the Russians had figured out how to stop German Panzers by 1944 and both were good at it.
No, I'm comparing the 1944 Red Army. The Russians even in 1944 rarely had radio and telephone communications below battalion level in infantry units. While AFV now had radios, they were generally receive only units for the platoon vehicles or had a single channel radio installed.
Artillery outside the specialist "Breakthrough" divisions, was still largely using planned fires and battery control. For example, the typical 76.2mm gun battery relied on the battery CO and a forward party using telephone to direct its fire. The battery had only limited ability to coordinate fire with other batteries.
It is simply a limitation on what they had to work with. There weren't enough radios, telephones, or trained troops to operate like the US or British did. The same goes for motor vehicles.

The result is that even in 1944 the Germans could use a fast moving column to make a penetration against the Red Army and defeat in detail each unit they encountered. The Red Army countered by using numbers and depth of defense to stop the Germans.
On the offense, the reverse is true. The Germans could form strong points or have mobile units move to counterattack a Russian advance. But, if the Russians penetrated a division's front in multiple places and drove hard into its rear, overrunning the artillery and HQ units, the division was done.

The reason the Soviets were "loaded for bear" was they needed those numbers to make up for the lack of a flexible and rapid response communications and command and control system. That was a rational response to a problem, solving it with the available material and manpower. That is, they made an intelligent choice based on their available doctrine and equipment.
The Germans on the other hand, came to rely more and more, on smaller units, similar mobile reserve units, and trying to put a finger in every crack in the dam, so-to-speak. It wasn't going to work by 1944. A hard crust defense backed by mobile reserves was all they could manage.
Hitler wouldn't continence a defense in depth with fall back lines. Witness the destruction of Army Group Center in part for that exact reason. The crust collapsed and the mobile reserves weren't even close to capable of stopping the tsunami of Red Army units advancing.
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Old 13 May 16, 17:45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
The Königstigers performed relatively well in combat during the battle of the Bulge against Shermans and US tank destroyers - german accounts usually mention that most of them had to be abandoned, and/or destroyed by their own crews, due to mechanical breakdowns, rather than destroyed or incapacitated by enemy fire.

That is accurate, but if you read detailed accounts, you will find things like: "the tank had to take evasive maneuvers under fire by enemy AT guns, got stuck in a farm building and had to be abandoned", or "maneuvering on a narrow road after being hit by enemy fire, the tank slid in the roadside ditch and could not be moved out of it". In other words, the obvious shortcomings in maneuverability, mobility and mechanical reliability of the tank were all liabilities already on their own, but they were of course magnified when the vehicle had to move while engaged by the enemy.

For an example of things working fine for the Tiger IIs, you may wish to look up the Arloncourt engagement (yes, a name similar to Arracourt, sorry but that's the way it is). In a good ambush position with a long field of fire, no need to maneuver, the possiblity to exploit their long-range power and accuracy, the Tiger IIs did their work at best against a battalion of Shermans.
Sounds like if they didn't have to move they did "fine."
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Old 13 May 16, 19:37
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Originally Posted by Michele View Post
The Königstigers performed relatively well in combat during the battle of the Bulge against Shermans and US tank destroyers - german accounts usually mention that most of them had to be abandoned, and/or destroyed by their own crews, due to mechanical breakdowns, rather than destroyed or incapacitated by enemy fire.

That is accurate, but if you read detailed accounts, you will find things like: "the tank had to take evasive maneuvers under fire by enemy AT guns, got stuck in a farm building and had to be abandoned", or "maneuvering on a narrow road after being hit by enemy fire, the tank slid in the roadside ditch and could not be moved out of it". In other words, the obvious shortcomings in maneuverability, mobility and mechanical reliability of the tank were all liabilities already on their own, but they were of course magnified when the vehicle had to move while engaged by the enemy.

For an example of things working fine for the Tiger IIs, you may wish to look up the Arloncourt engagement (yes, a name similar to Arracourt, sorry but that's the way it is). In a good ambush position with a long field of fire, no need to maneuver, the possiblity to exploit their long-range power and accuracy, the Tiger IIs did their work at best against a battalion of Shermans.
Where did this happen in the BoB? There were three Tiger equipped units in the Ardennes offensive:

SS S. Pz. Abt 501. Assigned to 1st SS Panzer and equipped with 15 Tiger II. 13 of those can be accounted for as losses with the advance of KG Pieper. They did virtually nothing useful, bringing up the rear of Pieper's advance. He didn't want one of them breaking down and blocking the advance so they were put at the rear of the column.

S. Pz Abt 506. With Tiger II. Saw combat with 5th Panzer Army around Bastogne. Lost a number (unspecified) of its tanks to advancing units of 3rd Army and did little being committed in ones and twos.

S. Pz Abt 301 (Fkl). This unit had Tiger I and was committed like S. Pz Abt 506 late in the battle around Bastogne. Did nothing of significance.

The later two units had 22 Tiger I and II between them.

That means there were just 37 Tiger I and II involved in the Ardennes, although something less than 30 more were shipped forward to units during this battle, there's no knowing for sure how many arrived, were crewed, and put into action.

Basically, it can be easily argued that the Tiger played no significant role in the Ardennes, and it might be said it had near zero effect, if not zero effect, on the outcome.
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Old 13 May 16, 20:44
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In the Ardennes there was more opportunity for ambush than on the Russian steppes, so the likes of even a Sherman 75, had more chance of getting in a sucker shot from a close range to the Tiger II's side or better still, back end. Pity the US tanks were not sporting the 17pdr, which could give a reasonable account of even a King Tiger's glacis plate when shooting APDS ammo.
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Old 13 May 16, 21:58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post

For an example of things working fine for the Tiger IIs, you may wish to look up the Arloncourt engagement (yes, a name similar to Arracourt, sorry but that's the way it is). In a good ambush position with a long field of fire, no need to maneuver, the possiblity to exploit their long-range power and accuracy, the Tiger IIs did their work at best against a battalion of Shermans.
Arloncourt , Jan 2 1945. 68th Tank Battalion, 'B' Coy.

Accounts say B Coy had 15 Shermans knocked out but given that no AAR for the Unit is online I suspect the number 15 is culled from post war accounts that state 'All but one of B Coy were knocked out'.

For the claim 2 TII knocked out 15 Shermans 2 assumptions are made.

1. B Coy 68 TB were at full strength-at a time when every other unit was running under TOE.
2. The only enemy fire came from the TIIs.

For an example of how secondary post war accounts were (wrongly) used to vastly inflate US tank losses in a specific engagement see

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtop...?f=47&t=220503
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