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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 29 Nov 16, 16:56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
Most of the Pzjr I were attached in company strength to panzer divisions. They also attached these vehicles...



So, the Pzjr I wasn't alone in its design or role.
Right, but there were only ten of those, and later 15 made on the 18-ton FAMO version.
Nice to have, but numerically insignificant unless they happened to be in just the right place at the time.

Also, they seem to have been judged to be an evolutionary dead-end by the Germans themselves. I suppose putting them on fully-tracked machines was a much better idea, but the Nashorn arrived even later than the Tiger, and in lesser numbers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cbo View Post
I think it can be argued, that the DLC was the French Armys take on the "light division", a concept adopted in many countries and seriously studied in others. It was an attempt at modernizing the cavalry and bringing it into the machine age, maintaining the advantages of the horse in an age where tanks and armoured cars were not very good at switching from fast road movements to off-road driving. The armoured cars being too heavy for off-road and the tanks not very fast. Just behold the numerous wheel-cum-track designs and Christies fast tanks. The idea died out as the motor vehicles became more capable, but such divisions were fielded, even if the horses disappeared from the TO&E in some cases. The Germans fielded light division ins Poland and the Italians had something similar as well. Closer to home for me - the two Danish Cavalry regiments were going down the same route, developing into a mix of mounted cavalry and armoured cars.
Yes, as an Armored Cavalry Regiment they may have looked good, but even in the Ardennes they failed and I think it was because they lacked the AT guns to make a stand even in the most favorable terrain.
They still would have made a nice addition to the DCRs... be even so, that means 6 French Armored Divisions to face 10 German ones. Not a very satisfactory state of affairs.
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Old 29 Nov 16, 17:08
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
Right, but there were only ten of those, and later 15 made on the 18-ton FAMO version.
Nice to have, but numerically insignificant unless they happened to be in just the right place at the time.

Also, they seem to have been judged to be an evolutionary dead-end by the Germans themselves. I suppose putting them on fully-tracked machines was a much better idea, but the Nashorn arrived even later than the Tiger, and in lesser numbers.
Well, they were in the right place at the right time.

6 were attached to 1st Panzer and were at Stonne in 1940. At least one was lost in action. I can't say for sure how many French tanks they engaged, but if they did, it was over for the tank hit.

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=45336


Quote:
Yes, as an Armored Cavalry Regiment they may have looked good, but even in the Ardennes they failed and I think it was because they lacked the AT guns to make a stand even in the most favorable terrain.
They still would have made a nice addition to the DCRs... be even so, that means 6 French Armored Divisions to face 10 German ones. Not a very satisfactory state of affairs.
The DLC did have some anti-tank guns. One battalion of the artillery regiment had 18 47mm antitank guns, the dragoons had 2 25mm in each battalion, and the cavalry regiments (battalions) each had 4 25mm in their support company... at least on paper.

But, attaching the 47mm to the artillery is a mistake as they're likely not be used aggressively. The 25mm's are a bit light to really do the job and they're going to be encountered in only small numbers.
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  #18  
Old 30 Nov 16, 04:08
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
Most of the Pzjr I were attached in company strength to panzer divisions. They also attached these vehicles...



So, the Pzjr I wasn't alone in its design or role.
Those are exactly the 8.8cm FlAK 18 Sfl. mentioned in my previous post. Yes, they were one additional tank destroyer vehicle besides the Panzerjäger I, but all told there were 25, in one unit.
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Old 30 Nov 16, 14:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
Well, they were in the right place at the right time.

6 were attached to 1st Panzer and were at Stonne in 1940.
That was exactly where they would have been needed most!
Having the initiative sure is a bonus, isn't it?

There were also Stugs there, from what I have heard.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
...

On top of that, already in 1940 the Germans had the first StuG IIIs, and again these were independent non-divisional units - but they were batteries, the StuG III being an armored artillery thing at the time.
Yes, four batteries of 6 tanks each.

These must have made a much bigger impression than the giant halftracks with 88mm guns on them. By the time Barbarossa started there were many more, about half a dozen Battalions of them plus more batteries, I think that there were about 250 of them in Russia by the end of the summer of 1941, ten times what saw action in France.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
I found these:
DLM: http://enpointe.chez-alice.fr/dlm.html
DCR: http://enpointe.chez-alice.fr/dcr.html
DLC: http://enpointe.chez-alice.fr/dlc.html

They look correct to me, are at least French sites, but if anyone has better info please post .
Ah, very good!
Not exact matches in all cases, but damn close.

I'll take another look at German deployments, it seems there were 3 or 4 different ways the tanks were doled out, but other than that the Panzer Division was a very uniform TO&E by this time.
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  #20  
Old 30 Nov 16, 15:25
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Of note on those TO&E Nick provided...

Where it says "LMG" the weapon really is a FM Mle 1924/29



It's really more of a BAR / automatic rifle than actual machinegun.
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  #21  
Old 02 Dec 16, 08:49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
The first big-caliber German tank hunter wasn't a fully tracked vehicle: they were the 25 8.8cm FlAK 18 Sfl., 88s on a hastily armored halftrack chassis, of the 8. schwere PzJgdAbt.
I dont know what your source is, but I very much doubt there was ever 25 made of those self-propelled guns on the 12-ton half-track chassis.

Most references I've seen, that mentions numbers (Jentz, Fleischer & Eiermann and Niehorster among others), states that 10 were made. They were all employed in Poland with 1. Kompanie/Panzer-Jäger Abteilung 8., which operated as an independent unit. The organisation was changed in February 1940, giving the company the 6 vehicles, which they took with them to France. The remaining 4 appears to have been used as replacements, as the unit went to the Eastern Front in 1941 with a full compliment of 6 vehicles. In 1942, the unit was renamed twice, first to Panzer-Jäger Kompanie 601, then to 3. Kompanie/Panzer-Jäger Abteilung (Sfl) 559. The unit had 5 vehicles in August 1942 but lost two, leaving three vehicles which had all been lost by March 1943.

The confusion about numbers seems to come from:

1. The 8,8cm FlaK mounted on the 18-ton half-track chassis. An article in "Encyclopedia of German Tanks.." by Chamberlain and Doyle deals with both vehicles, claiming 25 made in all. It does state, however, that only 10 of those were the bunker-busting version built in the 12-ton chassis, which we are talking about here.

2. The armoured 12-tractors made for towing 8,8cm FlaK converted to anti-tank/anti-bunker guns. So it is the same gun and the same half-track, but in this case, the half-track tows the gun instead of carrying it as a self-propelled unit. There were allegedly 36 (one sources says 33) of those deployed to France in 1940 with schwere Panzer-Jäger Abteilung 525, 560 and 605. The converted to to the 3,7cm anti-tank gun after the campaign and I'm not aware what happened to the armoured tractors and the guns after that. One part of the gun design - the armoured shield - was adopted for the basic 8,8 cm Flak after the French campaign.

In Poland 1. Kompanie/Panzer-Jäger Abteilung 8 appears to have been succesfull in its intended role as a bunker-buster, using its superior mobility to shift location before Polish artillery could engage it. This made it much more suitable for this role than the towed 8,8cm guns.

In France, the company was attached to 1. Panzerdivision and saw its first combat on May 10th at Bodange in Belgium, where the division had stalled against the resistance of Belgian Chasseurs taking advantage of the solid stone buildings in the village. Once the 8,8cm guns arrived, main centers of resistance were quickly dealt with and the village was occupied and 1. Panzerdivision allowed to move on.

The 8,8cm Sfl. appears again in the Meuse bridgehead after the crossing on May 13th, where one was destroyed, allegedly by friendly fire (aircraft). I'm not aware of any record of them engaging the enemy after the fighting in Bodange, though. They are mentioned as being present in a report on the fighting at Montcornet on May 17th, but they didn't get to engage any enemy tanks on that occasion.
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Old 02 Dec 16, 13:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbo View Post
I dont know what your source is, but I very much doubt there was ever 25 made of those self-propelled guns on the 12-ton half-track chassis.

...

The confusion about numbers seems to come from:

1. The 8,8cm FlaK mounted on the 18-ton half-track chassis. An article in "Encyclopedia of German Tanks.." by Chamberlain and Doyle deals with both vehicles, claiming 25 made in all. It does state, however, that only 10 of those were the bunker-busting version built in the 12-ton chassis, which we are talking about here.
I think this the explanation of this 25 figure I have.
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Old 02 Dec 16, 15:36
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The other side-

By was of comparison, the same source listed the Panzer Divisions.
(I know we had a thread about no two Panzer Divisions having the same compliment, but there does seem to have been a pattern with their paper-strenght, and it made some sense. Tanks were being distributed with an eye to what the rolls for the various Divisions were planned to be.)


1st, 3nd & 10th Panzer had each had (or were authorized) 30 x Mark I, 100 x Mark II, 90 x Mark III and 56 Mark IV.

6th, 7th and 8th Panzer had 10 x Mark I, 40 x Mark II, 132 x Czech tanks and 36 x Mark IV.

3rd, 4th and 5th Panzer had 140 x Mark I, 110 x Mark II, 50 x Mark III and 24 x Mark IV.

9th Panzer must have been something of a bastard-child, it had 100 x Mark I, 75 x Mark II, 36 x Mark III and 18 x Mark IV.

There was also a tiny reserve of 150 tanks, totally inadequate as things turned out, but at least they had a reserve.
135 of the Mark I and Mark III were Command tanks with nothing but a single MG for armament ... but their value was in keeping the Panzers coordinated, and thus proved their worth many times over.

Almost forgot the important part -
Each Panzer Division also had;
2 x Infantry Regiments
1 x Artillery Regiment
1 x Recon Battalion
1 x Engineer Battalion

It was thus a balanced, independent force. The Allies had nothing equivalent to that in 1940. The British armored Brigade had no organic Infantry at all, and a British Armored Division didn't arrive until after the fighting started.

As Heinlein once said; "Specialization is for Insects"
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Old 03 Dec 16, 08:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
By was of comparison, the same source listed the Panzer Divisions.
(I know we had a thread about no two Panzer Divisions having the same compliment, but there does seem to have been a pattern with their paper-strenght, and it made some sense. Tanks were being distributed with an eye to what the rolls for the various Divisions were planned to be.)


1st, 3nd & 10th Panzer had each had (or were authorized) 30 x Mark I, 100 x Mark II, 90 x Mark III and 56 Mark IV.

6th, 7th and 8th Panzer had 10 x Mark I, 40 x Mark II, 132 x Czech tanks and 36 x Mark IV.

3rd, 4th and 5th Panzer had 140 x Mark I, 110 x Mark II, 50 x Mark III and 24 x Mark IV.

9th Panzer must have been something of a bastard-child, it had 100 x Mark I, 75 x Mark II, 36 x Mark III and 18 x Mark IV.
Actually, 9th Panzer was not the bastard, but an expression of the future of Panzerdivision organisation

Prior to the attack on France in May 1940, the German Army had three types of organisation for the armour component of their Panzerdivisions:

A: An armoured brigade with two armoured regiments (1., 2., 3., 4., 5., and 10. Panzerdivision)

B: An armoured regiment with three battalions (sometimes an attached, formerly independent, tank battalion) (6., 7., and 8., Panzerdivision).

C: An armoured regiment with two battalions (9. Panzerdivision)

A year later just before the invasion of the USSR, organisation type A had vanished completely, though a Brigade HQ could still be found in a few Panzerdivision. Organisation type C had become more common, being used for 11 out of 20 armoured divisions, while organisation B was found in 9 of 20 armoured divisions. Of the four new divisions fielded after Barbarossa three had the three battalion organisation (type B) while one had the two battalion organisation (type C).

On top of that, some battalions would have three companies while others had four.

If you want to establish the combat strength of a German armoured division, I think the best solution is count the tanks and tank types available to the division at the time in question. The To&E is not of much use here.

If you want to look at the organization and the intentions behind it, then the number of tanks and tank-types in the intended organisation is a good meausure - but you really need to go all the way down to company organisation and work your way op to get the real picture.
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Old 03 Dec 16, 16:03
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
The DLC's were intended to screen in front of the French Army in the Ardennes. That's a big reason the horsed portion was kept. It was thought horse cavalry would have an easier time in the terrain of the Ardennes than vehicles. ...
That is correct through 1939. At the end of the year the decision for removing the horsed brigade was placed on the table (again) & in early 40 it was decided they should be removed that year. In May 40 separation dates and destinations had been identified for the horse brigades & their replacement within the DLC was underway.


Quote:
It also explains their general lack of depth and staying power. If you look at their employment in the campaign, they moved forward into the Ardennes and were literally ground up almost immediately. It was like a 1940's version of the US 14th Cavalry Group in the Losheim gap in 1944.
Their deployment was based on the assumption the Belgians would fight near the border for 48 hours. When the French arrived on their first delaying line they found the Germans already probing it, and the Belgians already withdrawing. As with the US example the light mobile force found itself performing a mission that called for a proper defense.

Quote:
But, one thing the DLC was not was some sort of armored division... Not with a mere 38 tanks 20 of which were really two man tankettes armed with a machinegun.
Correct, the combat value of the DLC lay in the armored cars, mechanized companies, and artillery. The tanks belonged to the battlefield of the early 1930s & were kept around for lack of replacements, mostly more armored cars.

The DLC was designed for a specific mission that existed in the 1930s. The decision to concentrate nine mechanized/motorized divisions in a 'Panzer Group' of three corps left the DLC in a far different battle. The decision of the Belgians to rapidly withdraw & leave the French alone made it mission impossible.
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Old 03 Dec 16, 16:08
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
That is correct through 1939. At the end of the year the decision for removing the horsed brigade was placed on the table (again) & in early 40 it was decided they should be removed that year. In May 40 separation dates and destinations had been identified for the horse brigades & their replacement within the DLC was underway.

Their deployment was based on the assumption the Belgians would fight near the border for 48 hours. When the French arrived on their first delaying line they found the Germans already probing it, and the Belgians already withdrawing. As with the US example the light mobile force found itself performing a mission that called for a proper defense.

Correct, the combat value of the DLC lay in the armored cars, mechanized companies, and artillery. The tanks belonged to the battlefield of the early 1930s & were kept around for lack of replacements, mostly more armored cars.

The DLC was designed for a specific mission that existed in the 1930s. The decision to concentrate nine mechanized/motorized divisions in a 'Panzer Group' of three corps left the DLC in a far different battle. The decision of the Belgians to rapidly withdraw & leave the French alone made it mission impossible.
And, all of that shows the two fundamental problems the French Army faced within itself. The first was it was belatedly trying to adapt to the reality that the next war wasn't going to be held in 1918 and were a day late and Franc short on making any of that happen. The second problem was they planned a war that their enemy didn't, and worse, they lacked the flexibility and doctrine to adapt to what was happening as opposed to what they expected to happen.
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Old 03 Dec 16, 16:31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist;3294615...

And those 33 Battalions are a shocking dissipation of forces. Just the non-FT-17 [I
companies[/I] could have been combined with a mechanized INfantry Brigade to make a formidable force.

Did those "independent" Battalions of armor ever achieve anything? Did they ever impede a German advance in any notable way?
Doctrinally and in actual use those battalions functioned like the independent tank battalions the US Army deployed a few years later. Both the French and the US Army doctrine had 'Group" or 'Groupment' HQ to control two or more of these tank battalions. The Group HQ was supposed to report to a corps or Army HQ depending on the situation. In training exercises both armies found a lot of problems with keeping the tanks in separate groups & found it better to farm them out to the infantry divisions. In the case of the French the tanks were designed specifically for infantry support so...

A specific example of this working for the French was in the Gembloux Gap battle of May. The 3rd & 4th Pz Divisions had orders to penetrate the French 1st Army in the hope of splitting and paralyzing it. As the 8th and 7th Pz Div did with the Fr 9th Army. In this case it did not work. The Germans were attacking better trained units, which had a extra two days to organize in position. The Fr tank battalion counter attacked in tight combination with infantry companies & well coordinated artillery support. The 4th Pz was unable to exploit the penetrations and withdrew its forward companies in the face of the counter attacks. After two days of failing attacks the two German armored div were withdrawn & sent south to join Kleists Pz Group in overrunning the 9th Army.

In June the independent tank battalions were collected to rebuild several armored divisions. As infantry support tanks they were not suitable for the sort of operations the French armored div needed to be executing. it also left the infantry corps without any armor for supporting local counter attacks, making it easier for the Germans to isolate the strong points and reduce them or pass between.
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Old 05 Dec 16, 15:32
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The German Panzers were out-numbered, out gunned and out-armored by the French tank forces. I don't think anyone has any doubt that if this force had been used properly the Germans would have gone nowhere.
What made the difference was how they were organized.

The Red Army made the same mistake; Their hordes of tanks were either doled out in tiny groups here and there, or massed into unwieldy and un-balanced formations. What saved Russia was they had the space to trade for the time needed to learn the right way to do things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
...
In June the independent tank battalions were collected to rebuild several armored divisions. As infantry support tanks they were not suitable for the sort of operations the French armored div needed to be executing. it also left the infantry corps without any armor for supporting local counter attacks, making it easier for the Germans to isolate the strong points and reduce them or pass between.
I have conflicting sources on that point. Some say that when they went to hedgehog formations the tanks were left with the infantry for the most part, for fear that withdrawing them would deprive them of the ability to launch local counter-attacks... something you need to do if you want to keep your hedgehogs alive.
What Armor the French did scrape up would have (and did) have difficulty pushing back one Panzer Division and no chance at all against a Panzer Group.
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Old 06 Dec 16, 05:06
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
By was of comparison, the same source listed the Panzer Divisions.
(I know we had a thread about no two Panzer Divisions having the same compliment, but there does seem to have been a pattern with their paper-strenght, and it made some sense. Tanks were being distributed with an eye to what the rolls for the various Divisions were planned to be.)


1st, 3nd & 10th Panzer had each had (or were authorized) 30 x Mark I, 100 x Mark II, 90 x Mark III and 56 Mark IV.

6th, 7th and 8th Panzer had 10 x Mark I, 40 x Mark II, 132 x Czech tanks and 36 x Mark IV.

3rd, 4th and 5th Panzer had 140 x Mark I, 110 x Mark II, 50 x Mark III and 24 x Mark IV.

9th Panzer must have been something of a bastard-child, it had 100 x Mark I, 75 x Mark II, 36 x Mark III and 18 x Mark IV.

There was also a tiny reserve of 150 tanks, totally inadequate as things turned out, but at least they had a reserve.
135 of the Mark I and Mark III were Command tanks with nothing but a single MG for armament ... but their value was in keeping the Panzers coordinated, and thus proved their worth many times over.

Almost forgot the important part -
Each Panzer Division also had;
2 x Infantry Regiments
1 x Artillery Regiment
1 x Recon Battalion
1 x Engineer Battalion

It was thus a balanced, independent force. The Allies had nothing equivalent to that in 1940. The British armored Brigade had no organic Infantry at all, and a British Armored Division didn't arrive until after the fighting started.
Save that you are looking at "Soll" values, rather than at "Ist" values for the German Panzerdivisionen (on paper, authorized strengths, rather than the actual strength).

Now let's look at what the Panzerdivisionen actually had. Let's ignore the lighter versions, i.e. the 3., 4. and 5. which had a disproportionate number of tankettes (Pz Is).
Let's look at tanks first. The average numbers, for the 1., 2., and 6.-10. Panzerdivisionen were:

tankettes (Pz I): 25
light tanks (Pz II): 80
medium tanks (Pz III, Pz 35, Pz 38, Pz IV): 107
command tanks (BefPz I and III): 13

Now, the infantry. Yeah, theoretically two regiments in the Panzerdivisionen, that would make 6 battalions. On top of that, an additional motorcycle battalion, that is 7 motorized infantry battalions.
In reality, those same Panzerdivisionen had on average 4,2 motorized infantry battalions each.

As to the artillery, these same best Panzerdivisionen had on average 29 tubes (mostly 105mms, but a few 150mms too).

You forgot to mention the AT battalion. Again, each Panzerdivision should have had 36 AT guns in that dedicated battalion, but these same best Panzerdivisionen actually had on average 31 AT guns each.

So you can see that the Allies did have an equivalent, albeit slightly less powerful: the DLM.

This had - in the field, not on paper - 72 AMRs (versus the 25 Pz Is), 94 light tanks (considerably better vehicles than the 80 Pz IIs) and 96 medium tanks (to compare with the 107 of the Panzerdivision; the French mediums were better than the Pz III, Pz 35 and Pz 38, but with no gun comparable to the Pz IV's). These figures include 9 command vehicles.

The DLM's infantry was 3 battalions, on motorcycles, trucks and, significantly, on half-tracks (which the Germans lacked), to compare with the 4,2 battalions on average for the Panzerdivision.

The DLM's artillery was 36 tubes - a bit more than the 29 of the Panzerdivision, but weight has its weight, and the DLM's were 24 75mms and 12 105mms.

The DLM also had 20 AT guns; this is not counting the integral AT guns of the motorized dragoons (the German Schützen battalions of the Panzerdivision also had their own integral ATGs).

The DLM had smaller engineering assets than the Panzerdivision, with just one company of sappers, but with its own bridging company.

The DLM had a recon element, the RD, that can be compared with the Panzerdivision's Aufklärungsabteilung.
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Old 06 Dec 16, 14:39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
So you can see that the Allies did have an equivalent, albeit slightly less powerful: the DLM.

This had - in the field, not on paper - 72 AMRs (versus the 25 Pz Is), 94 light tanks (considerably better vehicles than the 80 Pz IIs) and 96 medium tanks (to compare with the 107 of the Panzerdivision; the French mediums were better than the Pz III, Pz 35 and Pz 38, but with no gun comparable to the Pz IV's). These figures include 9 command vehicles.
In tanks, you're correct. The French ones are better armored and have decent guns but they also generally lack radios, have one man turrets, and are clumsy in terms of tactical handling.

Quote:
The DLM's infantry was 3 battalions, on motorcycles, trucks and, significantly, on half-tracks (which the Germans lacked), to compare with the 4,2 battalions on average for the Panzerdivision.
Too bad that amounts to just three companies of infantry. Like the DLC, the DLM's "infantry" component is long on heavy weapons and very short on warm bodies with rifles. The halftracks the French use are unarmored...




Quote:
The DLM's artillery was 36 tubes - a bit more than the 29 of the Panzerdivision, but weight has its weight, and the DLM's were 24 75mms and 12 105mms.
But French doctrine intrudes again giving their artillery far less flexibility and placing the 75mm guns too far forward most of the time.

Quote:
The DLM also had 20 AT guns; this is not counting the integral AT guns of the motorized dragoons (the German Schützen battalions of the Panzerdivision also had their own integral ATGs).
More doctrinal opps. The 47mm guns were to protect the artillery while the 25mm were given to the infantry battalions for their defense. There was no separate antitank artillery like a panzerjäger battalion where the guns were used aggressively.


Quote:
The DLM had smaller engineering assets than the Panzerdivision, with just one company of sappers, but with its own bridging company.
Panzer divisions at the time got a type J or K bridge column attached as normal. The French engineers were construction troops versus the German ones being primarily assault engineers.
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