Zinegata, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?