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Anlushac11 #61 Posted Jun 06 2013 - 22:10

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View PostZinegata, on May 28 2013 - 02:58, said:


No, that is an awful book full of lies and speculation passed off as fact. The most important thing to realize about Belton Cooper is that he keeps whining about German Panther and Tiger tanks, despite the fact that his unit in all likelihood never even encountered one in Normandy. Seriously - 3rd Armor did not fight any Tiger-equipped units at all during the campaign, and maybe fought only one Division with Panthers - albeit that unit (Panzer-Lehr) rarely deployed their Panthers anyway.

I actuall found Mr. Coopers book a good read from the perspective of someone who was there. Mr. Cooper did not fight in tanks, his job was to inspect tanks and decide if it was repairable or not. His job was to evaulate the damage done by German tanks, anti tank guns and Panzerfausts. His book recounts his amazement at the amount of penetration the German guns had. he also recounts the chilling losses.

His main complaint as I understood it was his anger and bitterness at finding out the Sherman was inferior and that higher ups knew it and did nothing, seeing men getting fed into the slaughter machine day after day, and knowing that there was a fix in the T26 and no one wanted to bother with it because it would have caused a inconvenience with logistics.

The one incident that sticks in my mind was tank crew caualties were so bad they were pulling kids out of foxholes. giving them a few hours crash course in tank operations and sending them out sometimes never having fired the tanks main gun before. On one occasion I think it was 102 tanks went out in morning and 87 were lost by dark.

I will have to reread the book because I dont remember Mr. Cooper stating that they faced only Panthers and Tigers. What I remember was him saying that they had been told M4 was best tank in the world and it was a rude shock when they got annihilated in combat. The US tanker quickly realized they did not have the best tanks. He did refer several times to the firepower of the German tanks.

On at least one chapter dealing with the Death of a regimental combat team they were ambushed by Tiger II's. Cooper was part of the crew that went to salvage what was left.

One Tiger II was abandoned when a SPG fired a WP and the crew of the Tiger II balied cause they thought they were on fire.

Mr. Coopers beef with Patton was not that Patton had a direct hand in the T26 not coming into combat. There was a staff meeting and the discussion was whether or not US should rush T26's to Europe for D-Day. One side said T26 was not needed at all, the other side pointed to reports of Tigers and Panthers. Patton being considered the leading armor expert in USA was asked his opinion. Patton said no they were not needed and Shermans would work just fine. Mr. Cooper felt that a yes from Patton would have held a great deal of power to sway the opinion.

In the end the US did break out with Operation Cobra using Shermans but the question remains if the US would have had T26's ashore right after D-Day would they have made a difference in the breakout and push to Germany? Would the US have suffered significantly less casualties.

EnsignExpendable #62 Posted Jun 06 2013 - 22:42

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Cooper's perspective is wrong. If you give everyone T26es, or M6es, or something like that (ignoring the fact that nobody could afford that), then every offensive will move at a snail's pace and the enemy will be able to regroup and fight back. No tank is invincible. Being mad at some abstract higher-up for not making your tank invincible is ludicrous.

Xlucine #63 Posted Jun 06 2013 - 22:52

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View PostAnlushac11, on Jun 06 2013 - 21:34, said:

The problem was US armor and German armor are not made to same standards and US rounds tested on US armor worked. When used in combat on German armor they failed. Testing on captured German tanks showed why. German armor was harder and resisted penetration more which resulted in non penetration or the rounds shattering on impact. Once changes were made the new rounds did much better.

Another problem revealved US base detonating fuses were bursting too soon before penetration which hindered penetration. IIRC the fix was to remove the fuse or render it inert.

It's true german armour was better than the stuff the US were testing against, but it is still a fact that the 75mm gun on the sherman could penetrate the side armour of a tiger. As the test report where they shot at a tiger with the 75mm showed. The 76mm could also deal with the tiger frontally - not at the range the US would have liked, but it could penetrate. Tiger armour was nowhere near enough to reliably stop 17pr APDS except at great range.

Rhomer #64 Posted Jun 07 2013 - 02:11

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Coopers problem is what we call little man big picture issues.
As an individual in the field, his primary concern is his or in this case, his soldiers lives...individually. Unfortunately, war is not won by caring about the individual but by the cold hard sum of putting the most men in action as possible and keeping those men supplied.

WW2 is actually a good look at the difference between the two ideas.  You have the Germans engaging in an arms race of protection, creating heavier, larger and better protected AFV's, while the allies do the opposite, creating suitable vehicles that can be quickly produced. in the end, adding armor wasnt a war winning strategy. The winning strategy was accepting that losses were going to occur, and seeking to minimize their overall effect.

I think part of this, on the German side anyway comes from them historically having inferior numbers of manpower to throw against their typical foes i.e the Russians.


Needless to say, it sucks to be the 'cog' in a very large and very impersonal machine. a cog that not only is expected to break, but not given the all-star treatment because its easier to make a new cog to replace it then design a cog that wont break quite as easily. But thats war for you. Its a numbers game and thats all that matters.

Zinegata #65 Posted Jun 07 2013 - 06:04

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View PostAnlushac11, on Jun 06 2013 - 22:10, said:

I actuall found Mr. Coopers book a good read from the perspective of someone who was there. Mr. Cooper did not fight in tanks, his job was to inspect tanks and decide if it was repairable or not. His job was to evaulate the damage done by German tanks, anti tank guns and Panzerfausts. His book recounts his amazement at the amount of penetration the German guns had. he also recounts the chilling losses.

The problem is that he attributes them to the wrong causes. He keeps complaining about Panthers and Tigers when 3rd Armored did not encounter them until much later along the Sigfried line.

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His main complaint as I understood it was his anger and bitterness at finding out the Sherman was inferior and that higher ups knew it and did nothing, seeing men getting fed into the slaughter machine day after day, and knowing that there was a fix in the T26 and no one wanted to bother with it because it would have caused a inconvenience with logistics.

It's funny you say that, because German frontline commanders (including the commander of the single best German Panzer Division) kept complaining that the supposedly superior Panther was a junk machine unsuitable for hedgegrow fighting and yet Hitler kept insisting that they use that instead of the tried and tested Panzer IV, which was statistically equal or even inferior to the Sherman.

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The one incident that sticks in my mind was tank crew caualties were so bad they were pulling kids out of foxholes. giving them a few hours crash course in tank operations and sending them out sometimes never having fired the tanks main gun before. On one occasion I think it was 102 tanks went out in morning and 87 were lost by dark.

Which is more Belton Cooper bad accounting, because the US Army lost 600 Shermans total in Normandy and 3rd Armor was there for only a fraction of the period. He and Ambrose frankly really embellished the role and suffering of 3rd Armor in that campaign, at the expense of the guys who really bled in Normandy - 1st and 29th Infantry - both of which have many commanders criticizing how their armor support (e.g. 3rd Armor) kept chickening out and reporting "damaged" tanks that could still clearly fight.

Incidentally, this is why 3rd Armor's outstanding commander (Maurice Rose) started putting his HQ at the front, with his spearhead, to make sure that his tankers weren't chickening out and kept pushing.

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I will have to reread the book because I dont remember Mr. Cooper stating that they faced only Panthers and Tigers. What I remember was him saying that they had been told M4 was best tank in the world and it was a rude shock when they got annihilated in combat. The US tanker quickly realized they did not have the best tanks. He did refer several times to the firepower of the German tanks.

The annihilation has nothing to do with tank quality however, but poor tactics and employment. Even the best tank in the world will get destroyed if you insist on sending them out in the open against camouflaged anti-tank gun positions (actual leading cause of US tank losses, not enemy tanks), or if you stupidly drive a tank over a minefield (another leading cause of tank losses, more than tank vs tank losses). It's bad US tankers shifting the blame on the tank, instead of themselves.

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On at least one chapter dealing with the Death of a regimental combat team they were ambushed by Tiger II's. Cooper was part of the crew that went to salvage what was left.

No regimental combat team of the 3rd Armored Division was ever destroyed by a Tiger II ambush. The largest unit destroyed among US Armored Divisions was from the 12th Armored, which lost a combat command early in 1945. Even during the hectic days of the Bulge the combat commands of the 7th Armored Division (St Vith) and 10th Armored (Bastogne) remained combat-effective despite being forced to face entire Panzer Divisions on their own.

Frankly, any story that claims Tiger IIs did well is likely suspect. Puffendorf for instance has Tiger IIs being lost on a nearly 1 for 1 basis versus Shermans. Tiger IIs in the Bulge were so awful that SS poster boy Pieper refused to have them anywhere in front of the column - he kept them in the rear of the column where they could not fight.

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One Tiger II was abandoned when a SPG fired a WP and the crew of the Tiger II balied cause they thought they were on fire.

That incident is at Padeborn, where no US regimental command was destroyed. They lost several Shermns, but they KO'd numerous Tiger IIs and overran the base.

Again, if Cooper claims a regimental combat team vaporized at Padeborn, he's delusional.

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Mr. Coopers beef with Patton was not that Patton had a direct hand in the T26 not coming into combat. There was a staff meeting and the discussion was whether or not US should rush T26's to Europe for D-Day. One side said T26 was not needed at all, the other side pointed to reports of Tigers and Panthers. Patton being considered the leading armor expert in USA was asked his opinion. Patton said no they were not needed and Shermans would work just fine. Mr. Cooper felt that a yes from Patton would have held a great deal of power to sway the opinion.

Patton's Sherman tankers inflicted a 3:1 kill ratio against the German Panzer forces in numerous engagements, including ones fought in bad weather so the Panzers can't play the "Allied air attack" excuse.

Patton had very good reason to believe the Sherman was an adquate tank - his tank forces crushed pretty much any German tank force that tried to fight his army. And quite frankly, Maurice Rose (commander of the 3rd Armored) was pretty good too and never got his Division into any battles that resulted in mass annihilation of entire tank battalions or regiments. The only reason his loss rate was so high was because the Division had fought on the line for over 200 days. If you average out his losses, he was actually losing "only" 10 men killed and 30 wounded per day - mostly from the mechanized infantry and not even the tanks - and the worse losses were being incurred not during tank vs tank engagements but during bitter city fighting against entrenched enemy infantry along the Sigfired Line and Aachen.

So again, Cooper really has no clue and is just embellishing his own role. Seriously, take a look at 3rd Armored's actual history. It isn't an Armored Division that was constantly losing 80+ tanks in a single day and being trounced by the Germans. This is a Division which had guys like Sgt Pool.

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In the end the US did break out with Operation Cobra using Shermans but the question remains if the US would have had T26's ashore right after D-Day would they have made a difference in the breakout and push to Germany? Would the US have suffered significantly less casualties.

No, they would have suffered significantly more because the T26 was horribly unreliable at this point. They could not have even come close to closing the Falaise gap, nor could they have raced across France, if they were equipped with an unreliable 45 ton tank. December 1944 would have seen the frontlines not at the German border, as it was historically, but instead along the Seine as the Germans establish a second defensive line around Paris.

Edited by Zinegata, Jun 07 2013 - 06:27.


collimatrix #66 Posted Jun 07 2013 - 06:37

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They also would have had a lot fewer tanks.  It took considerably more room to ship a T26 than it did to ship shermans.

Second rate armor support >> no armor support at all

Jeeps_Guns_Tanks #67 Posted Jun 08 2013 - 00:15

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View PostZinegata, on Jun 07 2013 - 06:04, said:

The problem is that he attributes them to the wrong causes. He keeps complaining about Panthers and Tigers when 3rd Armored did not encounter them until much later along the Sigfried line.



It's funny you say that, because German frontline commanders (including the commander of the single best German Panzer Division) kept complaining that the supposedly superior Panther was a junk machine unsuitable for hedgegrow fighting and yet Hitler kept insisting that they use that instead of the tried and tested Panzer IV, which was statistically equal or even inferior to the Sherman.



Which is more Belton Cooper bad accounting, because the US Army lost 600 Shermans total in Normandy and 3rd Armor was there for only a fraction of the period. He and Ambrose frankly really embellished the role and suffering of 3rd Armor in that campaign, at the expense of the guys who really bled in Normandy - 1st and 29th Infantry - both of which have many commanders criticizing how their armor support (e.g. 3rd Armor) kept chickening out and reporting "damaged" tanks that could still clearly fight.

Incidentally, this is why 3rd Armor's outstanding commander (Maurice Rose) started putting his HQ at the front, with his spearhead, to make sure that his tankers weren't chickening out and kept pushing.



The annihilation has nothing to do with tank quality however, but poor tactics and employment. Even the best tank in the world will get destroyed if you insist on sending them out in the open against camouflaged anti-tank gun positions (actual leading cause of US tank losses, not enemy tanks), or if you stupidly drive a tank over a minefield (another leading cause of tank losses, more than tank vs tank losses). It's bad US tankers shifting the blame on the tank, instead of themselves.



No regimental combat team of the 3rd Armored Division was ever destroyed by a Tiger II ambush. The largest unit destroyed among US Armored Divisions was from the 12th Armored, which lost a combat command early in 1945. Even during the hectic days of the Bulge the combat commands of the 7th Armored Division (St Vith) and 10th Armored (Bastogne) remained combat-effective despite being forced to face entire Panzer Divisions on their own.

Frankly, any story that claims Tiger IIs did well is likely suspect. Puffendorf for instance has Tiger IIs being lost on a nearly 1 for 1 basis versus Shermans. Tiger IIs in the Bulge were so awful that SS poster boy Pieper refused to have them anywhere in front of the column - he kept them in the rear of the column where they could not fight.



That incident is at Padeborn, where no US regimental command was destroyed. They lost several Shermns, but they KO'd numerous Tiger IIs and overran the base.

Again, if Cooper claims a regimental combat team vaporized at Padeborn, he's delusional.



Patton's Sherman tankers inflicted a 3:1 kill ratio against the German Panzer forces in numerous engagements, including ones fought in bad weather so the Panzers can't play the "Allied air attack" excuse.

Patton had very good reason to believe the Sherman was an adquate tank - his tank forces crushed pretty much any German tank force that tried to fight his army. And quite frankly, Maurice Rose (commander of the 3rd Armored) was pretty good too and never got his Division into any battles that resulted in mass annihilation of entire tank battalions or regiments. The only reason his loss rate was so high was because the Division had fought on the line for over 200 days. If you average out his losses, he was actually losing "only" 10 men killed and 30 wounded per day - mostly from the mechanized infantry and not even the tanks - and the worse losses were being incurred not during tank vs tank engagements but during bitter city fighting against entrenched enemy infantry along the Sigfired Line and Aachen.

So again, Cooper really has no clue and is just embellishing his own role. Seriously, take a look at 3rd Armored's actual history. It isn't an Armored Division that was constantly losing 80+ tanks in a single day and being trounced by the Germans. This is a Division which had guys like Sgt Pool.



No, they would have suffered significantly more because the T26 was horribly unreliable at this point. They could not have even come close to closing the Falaise gap, nor could they have raced across France, if they were equipped with an unreliable 45 ton tank. December 1944 would have seen the frontlines not at the German border, as it was historically, but instead along the Seine as the Germans establish a second defensive line around Paris.

Great post.

Can you recommend a good book on the 3rds WWII history?

Anlushac11 #68 Posted Jun 08 2013 - 06:01

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View PostZinegata, on Jun 07 2013 - 06:04, said:

The problem is that he attributes them to the wrong causes. He keeps complaining about Panthers and Tigers when 3rd Armored did not encounter them until much later along the Sigfried line.

As I said before Cooper mentions being shocked at the power and ease at which the German guns seemed to penetrate our tanks but I do not recall him as you claim whining specifically about Tigers and Panthers in Normandy. The comments seem to be related to the whole 11 months of combat operations.  As I have said I am looking for my copy and will reread it.

The problem was that the Sherman used in 1942 was essentially the same Sherman used in 1944, albeit with a Ford GAA V8 instead of a Continental radial engine.

Please list what combat effective modifications were installed on Sherman tanks between August 1942 and June-July 1944?  76mm? Wet hull ammo racks? M4A3E2's? All those were rushed to service and arrived after Normandy.

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It's funny you say that, because German frontline commanders (including the commander of the single best German Panzer Division) kept complaining that the supposedly superior Panther was a junk machine unsuitable for hedgegrow fighting and yet Hitler kept insisting that they use that instead of the tried and tested Panzer IV, which was statistically equal or even inferior to the Sherman.

I am not arguing that the Panther did not have its problems. I am saying the problems were pointed out, fixes were made and as with any field unit improvisations were also made to fix problems.

Guderian for one complained that the Panther had too thin side armor and caught fire too easily. Photographic evidence shows German Panther crews attaching ad hoc armor to the hull and turret sides. I also know commanders complained that the very long barrels were difficult to use in the hedgerows as the barrels got caught on stuff.

Regardless of what German commanders thought it certainly put American tankers into a fit.


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Which is more Belton Cooper bad accounting, because the US Army lost 600 Shermans total in Normandy and 3rd Armor was there for only a fraction of the period. He and Ambrose frankly really embellished the role and suffering of 3rd Armor in that campaign, at the expense of the guys who really bled in Normandy - 1st and 29th Infantry - both of which have many commanders criticizing how their armor support (e.g. 3rd Armor) kept chickening out and reporting "damaged" tanks that could still clearly fight.

Incidentally, this is why 3rd Armor's outstanding commander (Maurice Rose) started putting his HQ at the front, with his spearhead, to make sure that his tankers weren't chickening out and kept pushing.

3rd Armored Division arrived in France 29th June 1944. They first saw combat 9th July 1944. Operation Cobra began July 25th with the actual breakout happening July 31st 1944.

When I say 87 were lost maybe a better phrase should be to say 87 didnt come back. It was not specified if those numbers were destroyed or just knocked out.

Cooper stated that between time they landed in France and VE day in those 11 months 3rd Armored lost 648 Shermans destroyed and over 700 knocked out and repaired. Cooper kept a notebook of the location of each Sherman, what type of damage, and what knocked it out.

Really? Got any sources quoting that US tankers were too chicken to enter combat? Seems to have been no shortage of men either brave enough or crazy enough to man tanks. Creighton Abrams in 4th Armored had what, six Shermans shot out from under him?

I would be surprised that Maurice Rose would lead for the reason that his men were too cowardly to go into combat. Like Patton and Rommel, Rose liked to lead from the front. They all stayed close to the front lines to get very rapid access to reports. This allowed more rapid reaction to developments. Patton and Rommel both were cautioned about this. In Rose's case it got him killed.

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The annihilation has nothing to do with tank quality however, but poor tactics and employment. Even the best tank in the world will get destroyed if you insist on sending them out in the open against camouflaged anti-tank gun positions (actual leading cause of US tank losses, not enemy tanks), or if you stupidly drive a tank over a minefield (another leading cause of tank losses, more than tank vs tank losses). It's bad US tankers shifting the blame on the tank, instead of themselves.

Mines do not seem to be a leading cause of tank losses in Normandy. Something like 4% in June to about 14% by August. By Siegfried line the losses to mines number goes up upon reaching the prepared defensive lines.

  IIRC just over 50% were to anti-tank guns and/or tank guns ( You may be able to tell a hit was from a 75mm round but it would be hard to determine if that round for instance came from a PAK40 or a 75mm L/48 on a PzIV-H). Second leading was Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck at about 38%.

It was my understanding that in the Bocage the US had to dig into the Hedgerows and plant explosives to blow throung a Hedgerow or bring up a bulldozer or Sherman with blade. As soon as either endeavour started the Germans knew where to concentrate forces  to maximize their effectiveness. When the Cullens Hedgerow cutters were installed US tanks could now push through Hedgerows unannounced thus taking away the German advantage.

The biggest complaint I have read on the Bocage was the limited space that limited the ability of Shermans to outmanuver and flank their enemies. Thus without a well armored tank to spearhead and a powerful gun to defeat opponents you just kept chucking Shermans in til one of them got the job done.

Correct me if I am wrong but the main German Anti tank gun in June 1944 was still the 75mm PAK40. If the US would have had access to M4A3E2's in Bocage country or T26's to spearhead assaults things might have been different. Seems front glacis plate and gun manlet on E2's were immune to 75mm PzGr39 rounds and even 88mm L/56 PzGr39's had a hard time penetrating E2's and T26's though several T26's were knocked out in combat. Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck were very effective against flat armor but had problems qwith sloped armor til later improved warhead came out.


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No regimental combat team of the 3rd Armored Division was ever destroyed by a Tiger II ambush. The largest unit destroyed among US Armored Divisions was from the 12th Armored, which lost a combat command early in 1945. Even during the hectic days of the Bulge the combat commands of the 7th Armored Division (St Vith) and 10th Armored (Bastogne) remained combat-effective despite being forced to face entire Panzer Divisions on their own.

You are correct. I was wrong. I was thinking of Task Force Welborn around Paderborn with 12th Armored. Three Tiger II's were reported knocked out in combat. One was shot in rear and set on fire in engine bay and two were hit with WP rounds which caused crews to bail thinking tank was on fire.

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Frankly, any story that claims Tiger IIs did well is likely suspect. Puffendorf for instance has Tiger IIs being lost on a nearly 1 for 1 basis versus Shermans. Tiger IIs in the Bulge were so awful that SS poster boy Pieper refused to have them anywhere in front of the column - he kept them in the rear of the column where they could not fight.

There are several reports of Tiger II's performing well on Eastern front and in West around Caen against British tanks. Reports show that 55% of PzAbt 503's Tiger I, Tiger II's and PzIII's were destroyed by their crews after breakdowns or runing out of fuel. Only 45% were destroyed in combat. When fighting a tactical withdrawl something as simple as a broken track pin can cause loss of a tank.

IIRC Peiper's concern was that if a Tiger II were knocked out it would block the narrow roads through the forest and slow down his advance. IIRC there is a story of US troops coming across a German tank sitting in a road broken down. I do not remember now if it was a Tiger II or a Jagdtiger. All efforts to budge the broken down beast failed so in end you see pics of a new road cleared and going around the German tank.



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That incident is at Padeborn, where no US regimental command was destroyed. They lost several Shermns, but they KO'd numerous Tiger IIs and overran the base.

You are correct it was at Paderborn.

The US eventually overran the base but not without the Germans putting up a heck of a fight.


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Again, if Cooper claims a regimental combat team vaporized at Padeborn, he's delusional.

The error was mine. Cooper was one of the officers that went to evaluate what to salvage and repair.


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Patton's Sherman tankers inflicted a 3:1 kill ratio against the German Panzer forces in numerous engagements, including ones fought in bad weather so the Panzers can't play the "Allied air attack" excuse.

If we use that total and assume the 3:1 kill ratio that would suggest that Pattons troops single handedly wiped out most of the German tanks in ETO by themselves.

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Patton had very good reason to believe the Sherman was an adquate tank - his tank forces crushed pretty much any German tank force that tried to fight his army. And quite frankly, Maurice Rose (commander of the 3rd Armored) was pretty good too and never got his Division into any battles that resulted in mass annihilation of entire tank battalions or regiments. The only reason his loss rate was so high was because the Division had fought on the line for over 200 days. If you average out his losses, he was actually losing "only" 10 men killed and 30 wounded per day - mostly from the mechanized infantry and not even the tanks - and the worse losses were being incurred not during tank vs tank engagements but during bitter city fighting against entrenched enemy infantry along the Sigfired Line and Aachen.

Did Patton really crush all German tank units? Or did he rely on fast manuever to bypass strong German pockets and cut them off to be cleaned up later by fighter bombers and artillery? Patton did not stop and slug it out with strong German forces, he moved so fast that he kept the Germans off balance and on the defensive trying to respond like Rommel did to the Brits in North Africa.

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So again, Cooper really has no clue and is just embellishing his own role. Seriously, take a look at 3rd Armored's actual history. It isn't an Armored Division that was constantly losing 80+ tanks in a single day and being trounced by the Germans. This is a Division which had guys like Sgt Pool.

I do NOT agree that Cooper wrote this book to embellish and sing his praises as you claim. If so why did he wait almost 50 years to release his book? If he was only interested in fame and money why not release it when som any WW2 books were being released in late 60's?  IMHO his book is nothing more than the observations of someone who was there. As with many revisionist historians the accounts of the guy who was there mean absolutely nothing and you would prefer that they not even talk. I do not agree. I believe eyewiness accounts still carry weight.

Cooper gave that one figure as a example.

.


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No, they would have suffered significantly more because the T26 was horribly unreliable at this point. They could not have even come close to closing the Falaise gap, nor could they have raced across France, if they were equipped with an unreliable 45 ton tank. December 1944 would have seen the frontlines not at the German border, as it was historically, but instead along the Seine as the Germans establish a second defensive line around Paris.

The Idea was not to replace Shermans tit for tat with the T26, the idea was to spearhead Assaults with the T26 and have Shermans exploit the breakthrough. Look at how the E2 "Jumbo's" were used. They led armored formations into contact with enemy. It is telling that most of the original 250+ E2's survived the war only to be scrapped after war.

Ironically the Soviet IS series was not a anti tank weapon, it was designed to defeat bunkers and fixed fortifications and gun emplacements. It was intended to breakthrough enemy lines  followed by a wave of T-34's to exploit the hole followed by a wave of SU's sniping enemy tanks.

The US would have done what they did in 1945. They would have sent experts to try and remedy fixes. The US needed a heavily armored breakthrough tank that was supposed to be the E2 but it wasnt there in time. E2's didnt enter combat til October 1944, way too late for Normandy's bocage or even operation Cobra. Even the 200 76mm armed Shermans were put into combat til operation Cobra.

The Germans would have been hard pressed to mount a serious defence without adequate fuel and ammunition. It was only because they constricted their front into Germany that they were able to hold on.

If OperationWacht Am Rhein had not occured could Germany have used those resources and held out another six months? If Monty had not gotten permission for Market Garden and Eisenhower had decided to support Patton instead would the war have ended sooner?

Rhomer #69 Posted Jun 08 2013 - 14:24

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I dont think any tank in WW2 would ever have enough armor. Its easier to design a gun to shoot thru armor than it is to design a vehicle response to that gun. So at a macro level you're wasting your time. better to get a reliable design that works, and just make a bunch of them and equip it for task as they develop. The Germans spent all this time and money developing entirely new vehicles like the panther when the the allied response was basically 'LOL FIREFLY SHERMAN TIME' and just stick a better gun on an already existing platform. it meant the allies always had battle proven reliable tanks when and where they needed them.

EnsignExpendable #70 Posted Jun 08 2013 - 17:18

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Pretty much that. Look what happened after the war. Tank development focused on making a small and agile target, with maybe frontal protection from enemy tank guns.

Zinegata #71 Posted Jun 10 2013 - 05:18

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View PostAnlushac11, on Jun 08 2013 - 06:01, said:

As I said before Cooper mentions being shocked at the power and ease at which the German guns seemed to penetrate our tanks but I do not recall him as you claim whining specifically about Tigers and Panthers in Normandy.

Except that the Pershing doesn't really represent a huge improvement in terms of armor protection. Moreover, US Army studies show how armor levels are almost irrelevant in actual tank fight - the determinant of victory is who spotted first, who fired first, and who hit first.

Also, the mentions of the Tiger/Panther being all over Normandy were in Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers, who quotes Cooper.

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3rd Armored Division arrived in France 29th June 1944. They first saw combat 9th July 1944. Operation Cobra began July 25th with the actual breakout happening July 31st 1944.
When I say 87 were lost maybe a better phrase should be to say 87 didnt come back. It was not specified if those numbers were destroyed or just knocked out.
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Really? Got any sources quoting that US tankers were too chicken to enter combat? Seems to have been no shortage of men either brave enough or crazy enough to man tanks. Creighton Abrams in 4th Armored had what, six Shermans shot out from under him?

Or just abandoned without fighting. Max Hasting's Armageddon makes it clear that plenty of Allied tank crews were abandoning their tanks at the first sign of trouble until the Bulge - which is when he starts finding instances of US tankers fighting on even with disabled Shermans.

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I would be surprised that Maurice Rose would lead for the reason that his men were too cowardly to go into combat. Like Patton and Rommel, Rose liked to lead from the front. They all stayed close to the front lines to get very rapid access to reports. This allowed more rapid reaction to developments. Patton and Rommel both were cautioned about this. In Rose's case it got him killed.

It's just one of the reasons. Lack of determination among frontline commanders (even Divisional commanders) was a major weakness among ETO US/British commanders.

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Mines do not seem to be a leading cause of tank losses in Normandy. Something like 4% in June to about 14% by August. By Siegfried line the losses to mines number goes up upon reaching the prepared defensive lines.

I'm saying overall, and the point is there are plenty of other causes of tank losses other than enemy tank fire.

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IIRC just over 50% were to anti-tank guns and/or tank guns ( You may be able to tell a hit was from a 75mm round but it would be hard to determine if that round for instance came from a PAK40 or a 75mm L/48 on a PzIV-H). Second leading was Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck at about 38%.

Yes, but when there majority of the fighting in the St Lo sector involved the 352nd Infantry and 3rd Fallchirmjaegers - neither of which had tanks - you could be pretty sure that the majority of the losses were caused by towed AtGs and not tanks. There were 2,000 Tigers vs 20,000 88mm flaks for instance. The 352nd and 3rd Fjgr both had a full battalion of 75mm towed AtGs, but only a company apiece of Stugs.

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Correct me if I am wrong but the main German Anti tank gun in June 1944 was still the 75mm PAK40. If the US would have had access to M4A3E2's in Bocage country or T26's to spearhead assaults things might have been different. Seems front glacis plate and gun manlet on E2's were immune to 75mm PzGr39 rounds and even 88mm L/56 PzGr39's had a hard time penetrating E2's and T26's though several T26's were knocked out in combat. Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck were very effective against flat armor but had problems qwith sloped armor til later improved warhead came out.

The problem again is that heavier armor doesn't actually help. You had Ferdinands at Kursk for instance - some of the most heavily armored tanks of all time and theoretically immune to all sorts of German anti-tank guns - which were still getting disabled and KO'd in the face of determined defenses.

Moreover, the Sherman did have sloped armor. The problem with panzerfausts is that the US forces kept getting ambushed.

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There are several reports of Tiger II's performing well on Eastern front and in West around Caen against British tanks. Reports show that 55% of PzAbt 503's Tiger I, Tiger II's and PzIII's were destroyed by their crews after breakdowns or runing out of fuel. Only 45% were destroyed in combat. When fighting a tactical withdrawl something as simple as a broken track pin can cause loss of a tank.

All of which are suspect. From your loss reports of the 503rd Heavy Tank Battallion I gather you've read Zetterling, but losing Tiger IIs to non-combat factors does not mean they saw any combat at all. For instance...

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IIRC Peiper's concern was that if a Tiger II were knocked out it would block the narrow roads through the forest and slow down his advance. IIRC there is a story of US troops coming across a German tank sitting in a road broken down. I do not remember now if it was a Tiger II or a Jagdtiger. All efforts to budge the broken down beast failed so in end you see pics of a new road cleared and going around the German tank.

It was a Tiger II (the Jagdtigers didn't arrive on the front until very late into the offesive). And the problem was more than just Pieper being worried that the Tiger IIs would block the road - he knew they were too slow and unreliable for actual combat.

What actually happened to Pieper's Tiger IIs was that they kept trying (and failing) to follow Pieper's fast-moving column. During this entire time they maybe engaged in one skirmish with some unidentified Shermans. When they finally caught up with the main column it was just in time for the whole KG to be surrounded, and when Pieper was told to use his Tiger IIs to break out he merely sneered that perhaps they could be airlifted out as well.

The Tiger II was really too unreliable for serious combat. Tiger Is we have verifiable combat actions wherein they did well. The Tiger IIs generally don't.

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If we use that total and assume the 3:1 kill ratio that would suggest that Pattons troops single handedly wiped out most of the German tanks in ETO by themselves.

I said in some engagements. They averaged 1:1 in all actual tank vs tank battles. The only reason why the overall total favors the Germans is because the US fought a lot more tank vs non-tank battles.

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Did Patton really crush all German tank units? Or did he rely on fast manuever to bypass strong German pockets and cut them off to be cleaned up later by fighter bombers and artillery? Patton did not stop and slug it out with strong German forces, he moved so fast that he kept the Germans off balance and on the defensive trying to respond like Rommel did to the Brits in North Africa.

First of all, bypassing strong pockets of resistance is actually the best way to crush enemy tank units. The Germans did no less in Russia.

Secondly, they did engage in numerous actual tank fights. Arracourt for instance was fought largely without fighter-bomber support and they still racked a 3:1 kill rate. The US Armored Divisions frankly had mastered the German art of "be on the offensive on the strategic level, but be on the defensive at the tactical level."

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I do NOT agree that Cooper wrote this book to embellish and sing his praises as you claim. If so why did he wait almost 50 years to release his book?

You should really read up on the criticisms of Ambrose's writing. Historians have MAJOR issues on his scholarship (and that of people he helped write books, of which Cooper is one of them) because their objective is much less the objective evaluation of history, but instead the glorification of the American fighting soldier.

Cooper, whose stated goal in the book is to shift the blame towrds the Sherman, really just continues this trend.

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The Idea was not to replace Shermans tit for tat with the T26, the idea was to spearhead Assaults with the T26 and have Shermans exploit the breakthrough. Look at how the E2 "Jumbo's" were used. They led armored formations into contact with enemy. It is telling that most of the original 250+ E2's survived the war only to be scrapped after war.

The problem is that the Brits tried that with their Churchills, and it plainly did not work.

To be fair though the Americans at least did not engage in the same sort of massed suicidal tank assaults that the British did.

The simple reality of Normandy ad the Bocages is that it was primarily an infantry battle, especially in the US sector. It was a battle between the US 1st, 2nd, and 29th against the German 352nd and 3rd Fallschirmjaegers (plus reinforcements). Armor quality was not the problem, it was the tactics and small-unit leadership that was lacking.

Even in the Sigfried line, the heavily armored Shermans were honestly not as useful, because what's needed to crack heavy concrete bunkers is heavy HE guns. The Soviets had the IS, as you noted, but neither the 76mm gun on the advanced Sherman models or the 90mm gun on the Pershing fits the bill. What they really needed was more 105mm Shermans (something asked for by frontline commanders, and much more useful than the Jumbos) or some kind of armored 155mm HE-shooter.

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Ironically the Soviet IS series was not a anti tank weapon, it was designed to defeat bunkers and fixed fortifications and gun emplacements. It was intended to breakthrough enemy lines  followed by a wave of T-34's to exploit the hole followed by a wave of SU's sniping enemy tanks.

Correct.

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If OperationWacht Am Rhein had not occured could Germany have used those resources and held out another six months?

Not terribly likely. The problem was the oil plants were finally being bombed.

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If Monty had not gotten permission for Market Garden and Eisenhower had decided to support Patton instead would the war have ended sooner?

Not really either. The right move in late 1944 was to take Antwerp.

Berean #72 Posted Jun 10 2013 - 06:41

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But if Eisenhower moved faster to clear the Scheldt estuary and had the mines cleared up the port of Antwerp would've been opened much earlier.  Market Garden merely delayed Antwerp's opening.

Zinegata #73 Posted Jun 10 2013 - 09:01

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View PostBerean, on Jun 10 2013 - 06:41, said:

But if Eisenhower moved faster to clear the Scheldt estuary and had the mines cleared up the port of Antwerp would've been opened much earlier.  Market Garden merely delayed Antwerp's opening.

Yeah, hence me saying the right move in late 1944 wasn't to support Patton over Monty, but to instead improve the supply situation by opening up Antwerp sooner. You simply can't support a multi-front advance into Germany without Antwerp.

Wyvern2 #74 Posted Jun 10 2013 - 17:12

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M12 was used in a direct fire role quite often against stationary targets. It should also be noted that the British had the AVRE and Crocodile to smoke enemies out of solid defenses and their tactics were not always as horrible as they're made out to be. Fact of the matter is that the British were masters of infantry warfare as well as specialist actions that no other nation truly managed to match. The Churchill VIII is pretty much the british bunker buster with a 95mm howitzer. To be honest, if theres anything that perplexes me about the british its the switch to the miserable 75mm when encouraging a 50-50 mix of 95mm's-6pdr's seems like a far more logical solution. It should also be noted that as far as armored command goes, Monty was a miserable commander, wonderful as far as strategic organization and set piece battle was concerned, but pretty incompetent on a tactical level. Men such as O'Connor and to some degree even Horrock's showed that the British had good armored commanders.

Xlucine #75 Posted Jun 10 2013 - 17:26

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95mm was short ranged and inaccurate, 6-pdr was no better at penetrating the targets they saw than the 75mm. 75mm could fill both roles well in one gun

Berean #76 Posted Jun 10 2013 - 17:35

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The only reason the British army adopted the US 75mm was because they made a small foul up with the Cromwell.  They were developing a High Velocity 75mm but found out it wouldn't fit inside the Cromwell's turret.  The 75mm that the British made afterwards were simply bored out 6-pdr's.  When the Comet was made they simply used the same gun but in its original 76mm calibre and called it the 77mm.

Edited by Berean, Jun 10 2013 - 17:36.


Bitter_N_Twisted #77 Posted Jun 10 2013 - 19:22

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View PostBerean, on Jun 10 2013 - 06:41, said:

But if Eisenhower moved faster to clear the Scheldt estuary and had the mines cleared up the port of Antwerp would've been opened much earlier.  Market Garden merely delayed Antwerp's opening.

The delay also allowed the Germans to re-group in the estuary.  Can. Gen. Guy Simmons wanted to press the attack as the Germans were on the retreat, but was over ruled by Monty.

Braddock #78 Posted Jun 10 2013 - 19:33

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View PostXlucine, on Jun 10 2013 - 17:26, said:

95mm was short ranged and inaccurate, 6-pdr was no better at penetrating the targets they saw than the 75mm. 75mm could fill both roles well in one gun

Actually the 6-pdr was a much better anti-tank gun then the 75 specially with the few APDS rounds that showed up. But when you have a choice between a good anti-tank gun and poor HE to a decent anti-tank gun and great HE the choice was fairly easy like you say.

View PostBerean, on Jun 10 2013 - 17:35, said:

The only reason the British army adopted the US 75mm was because they made a small foul up with the Cromwell.  They were developing a High Velocity 75mm but found out it wouldn't fit inside the Cromwell's turret.  The 75mm that the British made afterwards were simply bored out 6-pdr's.  When the Comet was made they simply used the same gun but in its original 76mm calibre and called it the 77mm.

I hate Monty, but the one thing you could agree with him on is that he advocated that all tanks should be built around the best gun available. In his requests to the CIC he felt the downfall of the current tanks was not having an equal gun to the Germans and if you think about the 6 pounder being designed in 40 and the 17 pounder in 42 and how long it was to get those into tanks you wonder why tanks were not also being designed around these guns. No cooperation between gun development, Poor design procedure and prolonged approval process plagued British Armour development in World War 2.

Braddock #79 Posted Jun 10 2013 - 19:47

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View PostBitter_N_Twisted, on Jun 10 2013 - 19:22, said:

The delay also allowed the Germans to re-group in the estuary.  Can. Gen. Guy Simmons wanted to press the attack as the Germans were on the retreat, but was over ruled by Monty.

The British were very gun shy about using the Canadians after they felt they had let them down in the early days of Normandy and after the Falaise pocket debacle. Even though it was the right move to take Antwerp I don't think they were willing to take the chance on using the Canadians. Not a fair opinion and not the right choice, but the Canadians made up for it in the end taking the city.

Berean #80 Posted Jun 10 2013 - 19:56

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The Sherman was in the British view an acceptable stop-gap till they can properly develop the Crusader's replacement.  The main issue with the British tanks was they were rushed into production prior to being tested and they had reliability issues.  The Sherman allowed the development of the Cromwell to be slowed down so they can assure that it would be more reliable.  The Falaise pocket debacle was an intelligence failure on the part of the High Command.  The Canadian's didn't receive the Ultra transcript telling them that the Germans had left the area.  As the Canadian army commander didn't know that he had the bombers attack the area convincing the Germans that the next push will be there so they re-occupied the ruins.