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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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  #1  
Old 07 Jun 17, 16:58
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How many tanks actually had a proven Tigerphobia effect....

....on its opponents.

I'm looking for examples, and cannot find where a Tiger had this real effect?

The same happens to be true with the T-34, although at least one KV may have had that effect in 41, as well as one Char B1 bis in 1940.

The only tank that had a genuine Tigerphobia effect on its opponents in WW2 appears to be the A12 Matilda. Whether during the Battle of France 1940, the N African campaign against the Italians 1940, and perhaps even at the gates to Moscow 1941, this tank seems to have an impact beyond its physical capabilities.

Psychology concerning tanks is often underrated. Just because Western tanks in WW2 proved to be equal to the German more powerful, better armoured, 'Cats' in successful combat engagements does not tell the whole story. Tanks have always been far more than a mere weapon system to an average 'squaddie' or even the civilian at home. Since WW1, they are the symbol of victory. German Tigers and Panthers may not have been more effective than 'weaker' Western designs in practice, but they certainly look the part.

Concerning the British, when they got kicked out of France, poor quality tanks were blamed. A few months later, with the same tanks, the British defeat of the Italians was certainly helped by reliable hard hitting cruisers, and 'excessively' armoured infantry tanks.

Possibly the greatest psychological impact of any tank was the IS-3 during the Berlin parade 1945. It's the Me 262 of the tank park. It might fail on many significant levels, such as being outlasted by the tank it was supposed to replace, despite a refit, but it looks incredibly lethal compared to Western designs at that time in 1945.

So which tanks had a Tigerphobia effect on their opponents?
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  #2  
Old 08 Jun 17, 13:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
....on its opponents.

I'm looking for examples, and cannot find where a Tiger had this real effect?

The same happens to be true with the T-34, although at least one KV may have had that effect in 41, as well as one Char B1 bis in 1940.

The only tank that had a genuine Tigerphobia effect on its opponents in WW2 appears to be the A12 Matilda. Whether during the Battle of France 1940, the N African campaign against the Italians 1940, and perhaps even at the gates to Moscow 1941, this tank seems to have an impact beyond its physical capabilities.

Psychology concerning tanks is often underrated. Just because Western tanks in WW2 proved to be equal to the German more powerful, better armoured, 'Cats' in successful combat engagements does not tell the whole story. Tanks have always been far more than a mere weapon system to an average 'squaddie' or even the civilian at home. Since WW1, they are the symbol of victory. German Tigers and Panthers may not have been more effective than 'weaker' Western designs in practice, but they certainly look the part.

Concerning the British, when they got kicked out of France, poor quality tanks were blamed. A few months later, with the same tanks, the British defeat of the Italians was certainly helped by reliable hard hitting cruisers, and 'excessively' armoured infantry tanks.

Possibly the greatest psychological impact of any tank was the IS-3 during the Berlin parade 1945. It's the Me 262 of the tank park. It might fail on many significant levels, such as being outlasted by the tank it was supposed to replace, despite a refit, but it looks incredibly lethal compared to Western designs at that time in 1945.

So which tanks had a Tigerphobia effect on their opponents?
Would the good old Sherman qualify? Didn't the Germans use to say that one of their cats was good for 5 Shermans. But the yanks always had 6...

I would speculate that the 'Tiger effect' started for the allies in North Africa. Even though there were never many of them, and they didn't achieve all that much, no story travels through the ranks quicker than the one about the 'German Super Tank'. It was probably only a handful of engagements that saw a Tiger one-shot a few allied tanks, whilst bouncing return fire, but enough to make for a great story for the witnessing allied troops to tell.
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Old 08 Jun 17, 14:06
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I think this "effect" happens whenever Side A gets some piece of equipment or kit that is pretty dominating against Side B. It lasts until B gets some counter to A's item. If the counter is sufficiently better than what A has, the "effect" reverses.

I think that's true of anything from small arms to nukes.

So, you have the Zero in the early days of the Pacific War. Same sort of affect. Then the Allies get their next generation aircraft like the P-38 or F6F and no the shoe is on the other foot.
Or, the Germans have vicious machineguns like the MG 42 that gets nicknamed "Hitler's buzzsaw" by the Allies.
The Germans feared Allied artillery. The Allies hated German mortars.
The Marder panzerjäger shows up in North Africa and the British troops think the Germans have gotten a self-propelled 88 because it shoots their tanks up so easily.

Lots of this sort of thing to go around.
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Old 08 Jun 17, 14:59
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I wonder how much of this is down to journalists, urban myths etc etc. I once worked with a guy 25 years oder than me who commanded a troop of Cromwell's in 44/45. He said that they didn't particularly worry about Tigers as these were pretty rare (and the RAF Typhoons were making rarer) and they were more concerned about some guy behind a hedge with a Panzerfaust or an 88 dug in behind a ridge.

Sadly age has done what the German army failed to do. Interestingly I once had to organise a European IT conference near Frankfurt which he attended and his opposite number from Germany turned out to have been a King Tiger driver. They drank a lot of beer.
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Old 08 Jun 17, 15:22
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The Soviet T-26 must have had a similar effect... in the Spanish Civil War.
The M-1 deserves a similar reputation, given it's performance.

And the Sherman did have a similar effect, on the Japanese. However, it was more an inspiration for desperation than an excuse to disengage for those guys.

Its all a matter of scale; what have you bot to counter it? If your troops feel that they don't have the tools to do the job, believe me, you will be hearing about it.
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Old 09 Jun 17, 19:43
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I think when we start talking psychological effect we are running in to territory that I think is difficult to measure, perhaps impossible. How many grunts knew what armor they were facing? How many tankers knew? With smoke, explosions, keeping one's head down and the speed with which things might have been happening did a fighting man, infantry, tanker or airman, really have the opportunity to know what they were up against? Hell, if a tank fires its gun are you certain that that is the round that landed next to you? If you fire your bazooka, panzerfaust or AT gun at a given tank and you don't kill the tank how often do you know why?

How many enemy soldiers are willing to admit that they feared the equipment of the enemy? If they did how much of that will end up in print so that we can read it?

I think the difficulty we face with is the distortion created by both time and media. Memory will of cloud and distort with time, we all know this. WWII is the greatest conflagration in the history of man and the number of books, magazine articles, movies, TV shows and now web "press" put out is so great it can't be counted. Some of this huge amount of information and disinformation may easily influence the G.I.'s that fought in the war and may end up distorting the memories that the G.I.'s recite. How do we know that the tanker interviewed for a documentary or book didn't watch Belton Cooper being interviewed years ago and is now incorporating Cooper's experiences into his own? How do we know that the G.I. interviewed in 1945 isn't giving a recount that includes his experiences and his buddy's. Interviewers that are not careful may draw an answer out of their interviewee that was not that man's experience.
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Old 10 Jun 17, 06:28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
....on its opponents.

I'm looking for examples, and cannot find where a Tiger had this real effect?

The same happens to be true with the T-34, although at least one KV may have had that effect in 41, as well as one Char B1 bis in 1940.

The only tank that had a genuine Tigerphobia effect on its opponents in WW2 appears to be the A12 Matilda. Whether during the Battle of France 1940, the N African campaign against the Italians 1940, and perhaps even at the gates to Moscow 1941, this tank seems to have an impact beyond its physical capabilities.

Psychology concerning tanks is often underrated. Just because Western tanks in WW2 proved to be equal to the German more powerful, better armoured, 'Cats' in successful combat engagements does not tell the whole story. Tanks have always been far more than a mere weapon system to an average 'squaddie' or even the civilian at home. Since WW1, they are the symbol of victory. German Tigers and Panthers may not have been more effective than 'weaker' Western designs in practice, but they certainly look the part.

Concerning the British, when they got kicked out of France, poor quality tanks were blamed. A few months later, with the same tanks, the British defeat of the Italians was certainly helped by reliable hard hitting cruisers, and 'excessively' armoured infantry tanks.

Possibly the greatest psychological impact of any tank was the IS-3 during the Berlin parade 1945. It's the Me 262 of the tank park. It might fail on many significant levels, such as being outlasted by the tank it was supposed to replace, despite a refit, but it looks incredibly lethal compared to Western designs at that time in 1945.

So which tanks had a Tigerphobia effect on their opponents?
I'm not quite sure what "Tigerphobia" actaully means? What effects are we looking for?

I haven't really come across any examples of Tigers installing any particular fear in the opponents, at least not sufficiently to have any impact. Allied tankers seems to have gotten on with the job regardless. I really cannot recall any incident where the mere presence of a Tiger (or rumour thereof) caused the opposition to give up an run away.

It is evident, that the T-34 had a profound effect on German tankers in 1941. It caused them to question the capabilities of their own tanks and basically asked their procurement system not to fiddle around but just copy the T-34. That is probably the most pronounced effect of "Tigerphobia" that I've come across. Still, they got on with the job.

In France in 1940, almost any German tank had a "Tigerphobia" effect on some of the small French tanks. Being hammered left right and center by German fire sometimes caused the crews to simply abandon their tanks. But that had more to do with the design, control and leadership of French tanks, not those of their opponents.

I think that fact that we are even discussing "Tigerphobia" - which might very well be a non-existant phenomenon - suggests that the psychological impact of tanks may in fact be overrated rather than underrated.

Tanks were often instrumental in bringing about victory and as Nick says, they may have become symbols of that victory. But the reason the enemy caved in was not fear of the tanks themselves, but rather the effect tanks had on combat. I think this may be particulariy true in WWI and early WWII.

A good account of the symbolic effects of tanks can be found in "Tank - the Progress of a Monstrous Warmachine" by Patrick Wright
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Old 12 Jun 17, 17:44
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Quote:
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I'm not quite sure what "Tigerphobia" actaully means? What effects are we looking for?
.
.
<snip>
.
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It means the tank is dominant on the battlefield, rather than the firepower of artillery or numbers of infantry.

Essentially it alone breaks the enemy, or is truly the dominant entity on the battlefield.
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Old 12 Jun 17, 17:55
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The Churchill had a demoralising effect on the Axis in Tunisia. The 25th Tank Brigade war diary documents numerous comments from German prisoners, to the effect that it was a tank that you couldn't escape from, no matter how secure or inaccessible your position. These were the comments from the infantry, of course, rather than tank crews.
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Old 12 Jun 17, 18:00
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Originally Posted by Don Juan View Post
The Churchill had a demoralising effect on the Axis in Tunisia. The 25th Tank Brigade war diary documents numerous comments from German prisoners, to the effect that it was a tank that you couldn't escape from, no matter how secure or inaccessible your position. These were the comments from the infantry, of course, rather than tank crews.
Oddly enough, much of this from the ability of the Churchill to climb, not normally attributed to a successful tank design.
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Old 12 Jun 17, 18:32
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Quote:
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Oddly enough, much of this from the ability of the Churchill to climb, not normally attributed to a successful tank design.
The Churchill design derived via TOG (The Old Gang) who were essentially the guys who designed the British tanks of WW1 and what they were asked to do was produce a tank for use in shelled areas (essentially the Western Front). This meant the ability to cross wide gaps and surmount significant vertical objects took priority over speed etc. As a result the Churchill could go p[laces other tanks could not. In North Africa this proved very useful, especially after mods had been made to allow it to carry a decent size gun.
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Old 12 Jun 17, 19:12
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The Churchill design derived via TOG (The Old Gang) who were essentially the guys who designed the British tanks of WW1 and what they were asked to do was produce a tank for use in shelled areas (essentially the Western Front). This meant the ability to cross wide gaps and surmount significant vertical objects took priority over speed etc. As a result the Churchill could go p[laces other tanks could not. In North Africa this proved very useful, especially after mods had been made to allow it to carry a decent size gun.
As a Churchill tank fan, love the sentiment, but did 'The Old Gang' have any real input into the Churchill?
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Old 12 Jun 17, 20:16
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The A20, whence the Churchill was broadly derived, was initiated before The Old Gang burst back onto the scene.
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Old 13 Jun 17, 10:50
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I wonder about the reputation of the T34. Post war it is roundly considered to be one of the best tanks of world war 2 but this is just not true. Once you start looking into its performance the legend quickly unravells. The T34 looks good on paper which has helped it reputation in the history books. And of course it had sloped armor, one of the first, which is often used as an example of its ability. As a tactical armored vehicle its battle performance was severely lacking.

Simply put the T34 had terrible situational awareness which absolutely destroyed its battlefield performance. It was poorly built and had reliability issues far worse than the German cats. Yes, later developments such as the 3 man turret sore the T34s battle performance improve, but not to any level that made it stand out. The only thing it really had was numbers.
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Old 13 Jun 17, 11:15
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The A20, whence the Churchill was broadly derived, was initiated before The Old Gang burst back onto the scene.
But they still had a strong influence on the design, all round track and the angle og the front of that track. Even the original heavy gun between the front horns on the Mk I echoes an unbuilt WW1 design.
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Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)
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