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> Tank-versus-tank kill ratio
sid guttridge
Posted: October 22, 2006 07:47 pm
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Hi D-C,

The source I mentioned above is actually "The History of Landmines" by Mike Croll. London, 1998. (ISBN 0 85052 628 0).

On p.41 he states that 20.5% of British and American tanks lost in the campaign for north-west Europe were lost to mines compared with 14.5% destroyed by other tanks.

His souce is given as "Donovan, P.D. and R. D. Moat, RARDE Memorandum 38/83, History of Mines in Land Warfare (Fort Halstead, Kent, June 1983)." [RARDE is the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment].

However we choose to number crunch this, Tiger tanks are still going to turn out to have been lost to all causes in a similar order of magnitude to the number of tanks they destroyed.

Assuming your highest figure of 1,246 Anglo-American tanks lost to German tanks, one still has to subtract the Allied tanks knocked out by several thousand PzKpfw.IVs and Panthers. Assuming Croll's 14.5%, Anglo-American losses would be only about 600.

However one number crunches this, it is unlikely that Tigers are going to turn out to be mass killers of Western Allied tanks compared with their own losses. The typical Tiger probably knocked out about one or perhaps two Anglo-American tanks before itself being lost to Anglo-American combined arms action.

This is not to deny their usefulness, but it is to deny a substantial part of the Tiger myth.

Cheers,

Sid.

This post has been edited by sid guttridge on October 22, 2006 07:50 pm
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dead-cat
Posted: October 23, 2006 10:13 am
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QUOTE

On p.41 he states that 20.5% of British and American tanks lost in the campaign for north-west Europe were lost to mines compared with 14.5% destroyed by other tanks.

i take this is from WO 291/1186, which unfortunately i have been unable to locate (except the %s given) with the entire content.
QUOTE

However we choose to number crunch this, Tiger tanks are still going to turn out to have been lost to all causes in a similar order of magnitude to the number of tanks they destroyed.

yes, but as the "tool" they were designed, they did their job. of course no matter how many Tigers (or Panthers or T34) one has, they'll be lost at the end to aircraft attacks since they wern't designed to combat them. when employed as they were supposed to be employed, they were able to do what they were supposed to.
when air cover was not present, it is very well possible that 4-5 enemy tanks were needed to destroy one Tiger or Pather. of course it's not allways, of course there were Panthers and Tigers falling prey to a single Sherman or Wolverine. being in a Tiger or Panther doesn't mean of course you cannot be outwittet or meet and opponent with a superior grasp of tank tactics.

actually we have the same issue in the east, where cerainly more T34 were destroyed by aircraft in 1941 than by german tanks.

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sid guttridge
Posted: October 23, 2006 11:21 am
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Hi D-C,

What exactly is the problem with locating WO291/1186? It is up on the National Archives on-line catalogue as "Comparative performance of German Anti-tank weapons during WWII". I might be able to look at it this week, if you want.

I don't know whether Croll's figures are ultimately derived from this source.

I have no problem with the Tiger as a weapon of war. It was very good.

My problem is that there tends to be an over focussing on tank aces, top snipers or top scoring pilots at the expense of any understanding of combined arms effectiveness.

There was a "Tiger Complex" already during the war, with every second German tank being reported as one. This has carried over into the literature today.

Teller mines are not very mobile, large, visible or attractive objects, but they claimed far more Allied tanks than Tigers ever did. But who would ever have guessed that from the literature on tanks?

I would suggest that the study of certain high profile weapons and their operators is obstructing the study of war in a wider sense.

Thus when criticism is laid against the Western Allies for not having a comparable tank, it should be remembered that tanks aren't the only thing on the battlefield and the Allied dominance in other areas negated the Tiger. Thus, although it might take the loss of four or five Shermans to knock out a Tiger in purely tank v. tank combat, it looks as though Allied combined arms were so effective in knocking Tigers out that in practice Tigers averaged perhaps as little as one Sherman each.

This is, of course, to a degree speculative in the absence of definitive figures with particular regard the kills attributable to the different types of German tanks, of which Tigers were only a small minority numerically. What is required is more research.

Cheers,

Sid.
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dead-cat
Posted: October 23, 2006 01:56 pm
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QUOTE

What exactly is the problem with locating WO291/1186

sorry, re-reading my sentence i realize it's not recognizable that i meant "locating it online".
what i'm intrested in, is the methodology for establishing for example the diffrence between a hit by an round fired from an AT gun and a tank.
QUOTE

Thus when criticism is laid against the Western Allies for not having a comparable tank, it should be remembered that tanks aren't the only thing on the battlefield and the Allied dominance in other areas negated the Tiger.

that is indeed so, but given the allied superiority in means of production, i was wondering why the military wouldn't ask for a better medium tank, since nobody wanted to lose good tank crews.
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sid guttridge
Posted: October 23, 2006 02:31 pm
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Hi D-C,

I think both British and American militaries did ask for better tanks.

The British got the useful Centurion to combat the Panther in the last days of the war as a result, but too late to use. (As a matter of interest, was its predecessor the Comet any good?). Later still they got the unloved Conqueror to tackle Tiger-sized tanks.

I seem to remember that the Americans had developed a heavier and more survivable tank but, as they could ship two Shermans to Europe to one of it, they stuck with the Sherman. I suppose the Patton was their belated answer to the Panther and I seem to remember some monstrous whale-back-turreted super heavy tank appeared after the war that was presumably their Tiger equivalent.

Have you seen WO291/1186? If not, do you want me to look it out next time I am in the PRO?

Cheers,

Sid
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dead-cat
Posted: October 25, 2006 07:38 pm
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QUOTE

Have you seen WO291/1186? If not, do you want me to look it out next time I am in the PRO?

That'd be really nice Sid, thank you!

QUOTE

(As a matter of interest, was its predecessor the Comet any good?).

from what i read, it was one of the better allied designs.
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120mm
Posted: October 26, 2006 09:59 am
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The US had the M5, which was a heavy tank, as well as the M26 Pershing, which was very nearly a heavy tank. Unfortunately, like the KV series and the Tiger I, these heavy tanks were not sufficiently reliable to conduct prolonged, offensive operations.

The M4 Sherman, as designed in 1941, was a superb tank. It was introduced at a time when 50mm main guns were considered sufficient armament for an "anti--tank tank." Unfortunately, the Armor Board overinterpreted the design freeze, and resisted the design updates, which would have kept the M4 up to date. The 3" gun was mounted in the turret, for example, but rates of fire weren't as good as the 75mm M3 gun, so it was rejected.

Later in the war, and after the war, Sherman upgrades made it a very good Medium tank, though it worked with an inferior layout, unlike the T-34, which was laid out very well from day one, yet mechanically less reliable.
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dead-cat
Posted: October 26, 2006 12:40 pm
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the Tiger did take part in successful offensive operations (3rd Kharkov) but, being undermotorized, required a well-trained crew.

it was worse with the King Tiger which was even heavier.

actually from all Tigers lost, much more where lost during defensive operations (for the mechanical breakdown cause) because they often couldn't be recovered and repaired.

the monthly losses until oct.'43 (IIRC) were quite low.

proper logistics and good crews can compensate for mechanical problems, if the other combat parameters are good.

from what i understood, giving the M26 production a secondary role was more a question of combat doctrine, than problems of technical nature.
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120mm
Posted: October 27, 2006 08:52 am
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The M26 continued to have transmission problems throughout its operational life. My dad, who was an M4/M26/M46/M47 tanker, says that they didn't learn how to build a durable tranny until the M47.

Oddly enough, one of the reasons 291st Engineers give for the ultimate failure of the Remagen bridge, was the shearing of already damaged attachment bolts, caused by driving the first M26s of the war over it.

By the time the Bocage was over, the US system of warfare was built and the M4 was an effective tank in that system.
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Florin
Posted: November 05, 2006 05:57 am
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Even the American documentaries about WWII accept that the Tigers and the Panthers were much better stuff than what the American armored divisions had available. This proves something, considering these American documentaries presenting history in their unique biased way.
Very often, on the Western Front, the German tanks were "killed" by airplanes, called in despair by the ground troops who lost their Shermans before having time to yell "Ooops!".
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New Connaught Ranger
Posted: November 05, 2006 03:54 pm
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QUOTE (Florin @ November 05, 2006 05:57 am)
Even the American documentaries about WWII accept that the Tigers and the Panthers were much better stuff than what the American armored divisions had available. This proves something, considering these American documentaries presenting history in their unique biased way.
Very often, on the Western Front, the German tanks were "killed" by airplanes, called in despair by the ground troops who lost their Shermans before having time to yell "Ooops!".

"This proves something, considering these American documentaries presenting history in their unique biased way."

Would you care to quote the names of these American documentries,?? I have never read or watched on tv that the Allied tanks were considered superior to German tanks. Not before the Sherman Firefly came on the scene in large numbers, I believe it was common practise to mix a Firefly in with the ordinary M4s until sufficient numbers had been produced.

The same with US M-10 Tank Destroyer Units.

It was a common accepted fact that on a one on one fight the German Tiger & Panthers would win, and their 88mm cannon was feared by Allied Tank crews.

With regards calling in Airpower, thats what rocket bearing "Typhoon" units were on hand to do, whats wrong with using a tactic that was proved to work on German armour without risking your tank crews, after all the Allies had air superiority.

Kevin in Deva :D
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dead-cat
Posted: November 06, 2006 02:10 pm
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all tanks were vulnerable to "tank-hunter" aircrafts.

at Kursk, where reasonable air cover was available, few Tigers were lost.
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New Connaught Ranger
Posted: November 06, 2006 02:21 pm
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No, at Kursk, they (the Germans) lost a lot of Tigers, Panthers and Elephants to engine and equipment failure as well as combat losses to the Russians.

In fact it is a well documented fact* that as the tank forces were so engaged and mixed together neither airforce, Soviet & German could identify which vehicles were which and played a very little role in the battle.

Kevin in Deva. :D

As told on the History Channel Programe about KURSK.
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mabadesc
Posted: November 06, 2006 03:18 pm
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QUOTE
the US system of warfare was built and the M4 was an effective tank in that system.


Certainly the M4 played a crucial role and was effective as a part of the entire US combined arms system of operations.

But one would argue that, had the Germans had equivalent air support in NW Europe, their Tigers and Panthers would also have been efficient.

However, at that particular time, Germany clearly had no such thing.

Therefore, in my opinion one needs to compare a Tiger or a Panther's lone efficiency against a Sherman's lone efficiency. And in a direct, side-by-side comparison, I think there is no argument that the Tiger's superior armor, gun, and optics (people often forget to mention the vast superiority of the optics in German tanks) make it a more formidable tank than the M4.


Thanks...

This post has been edited by mabadesc on November 06, 2006 03:21 pm
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dead-cat
Posted: November 06, 2006 03:47 pm
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hm. would you mind defining "heavy"?
Tiger losses in summer -fall '43 on the entire eastern front:

June - 0
July - 18 (includes "Citadel")
August - 32
Sept. - 30.

that's a grand total of 80 Tigers for the entire Q3 1943, total losses from all causes. the rest were recovered and repaired.

i don't have any figures for Panthers, but 39 Ferdinands were wrtitten off, out of 89 during july '43, the surviving 50 being shipped to Italy.

later edit: i checked, Panther losses during July '43: 65 from all causes (including 6 destroyed by fire on the march).

data from "Tiger I Heavy Tank 1942-45" by Osprey and "Kursk 1943" by Zetterling/Franksson

QUOTE

In fact it is a well documented fact* that as the tank forces were so engaged and mixed together neither airforce

where exactly? you don't mean Prochorovka, do you?

QUOTE

As told on the History Channel Programe about KURSK.

unfortunately, the History Channel tells many things, when the days are long, especially when quoting Paul Carell and other so-called sources about Kursk generally and the "many hundred Tigers and Panthers lost at Prochorovka" particulary, myths busted in relatively recent publications.

This post has been edited by dead-cat on November 06, 2006 11:06 pm
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