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Historical Sch-lol-arship: T-34


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Zinegata #101 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 18:19

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Also, as a note: I will say that I believe that the best tank of the Second World War was the Panzer III (including Stug); for the simple fact that it's the chassis that refused to quit and fought from start to finish.
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However, the best armored formation was the US Army Armored Division of 1944. No Armored Division of the Second World War had the same capability as the US Armored Division - it could literally do everything the Germans were reknowned for but had much superior support units and services. Even the Soviet Guard Tank Corps (the closest equivalent to a Western Division) was not as sophisticated,
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The Red Army however was the outstanding army of the world by the end of the war, and it was to some extent carried there by the capabilities of the T-34 (regardless of its shortcomings); which on its own would be more than enough to qualify it as one of the best.

Edited by Zinegata, Sep 22 2013 - 18:23.


Zinegata #102 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 18:22

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Sep 22 2013 - 18:16, said:

Thanks for the response Zinegata.  Is there a good source that explores the over-counting of Soviet vehicle loss figures?  The Krivosheev book gives much more detail as to methodology when discussing personnel losses, but little in terms of the figures given on vehicles.  The reasons you give for disagreeing with both articles seem valid to me.  Thank you for presenting them in a reasoned and polite manner.

We actually don't. We only know that they counted operational losses but the estimates after overcounting are just my own paper napkin calculations.

Do note however that if we count tanks sent back to the factory multiple times, German losses could in fact double or even triple (100-150k) - remember my example? Based on "official" losses, only three Tigers were lost in 1942; but in reality the German Army suffered at least seven operational losses that year and likely even more unreported. That a minimum two fold underreporting of operational losses vs full losses.

Walter_Sobchak #103 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 20:25

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View PostZinegata, on Sep 22 2013 - 18:19, said:

Also, as a note: I will say that I believe that the best tank of the Second World War was the Panzer III (including Stug); for the simple fact that it's the chassis that refused to quit and fought from start to finish.
.
However, the best armored formation was the US Army Armored Division of 1944. No Armored Division of the Second World War had the same capability as the US Armored Division - it could literally do everything the Germans were reknowned for but had much superior support units and services. Even the Soviet Guard Tank Corps (the closest equivalent to a Western Division) was not as sophisticated,
.
The Red Army however was the outstanding army of the world by the end of the war, and it was to some extent carried there by the capabilities of the T-34 (regardless of its shortcomings); which on its own would be more than enough to qualify it as one of the best.

I think part of the reason for "pettifogging" articles such as the one I posted the link to is that people have a natural inclination to want to demolish myths.  Most of us tank enthusiasts have grown up with two enduring myths, that the T-34 was "the best tank of the war" and that the M4 Sherman was "a deathtrap."  However, when we start to dig into the nitty gritty details, we find that the two vehicles were roughly comparable in many regards, and that both had some serious design flaws (as did almost all WW2 tanks.)  The "war winning" quality of both the T-34 and the M4 was due to the fact that they were "good enough" and could be produced in mass quantities.  Given the potency of late war German anti-tank weapons, quantity was a more important factor than quality in regards to tanks.  I think the Soviets realized this much earlier than the Western allies and accepted the loses in equipment and men as the price of defeating the enemy.  The western allies had a bit of a shock when they got into Normandy and tank loses were much higher than they anticipated.  So yes, I accept the idea that the T-34 was a highly successful weapons system in "big picture" terms.  Still, it's fun to look critically at the T-34, picking apart it's technical merits and deficiencies.

Walter_Sobchak #104 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 00:02

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View PostZinegata, on Sep 22 2013 - 18:19, said:

Also, as a note: I will say that I believe that the best tank of the Second World War was the Panzer III (including Stug); for the simple fact that it's the chassis that refused to quit and fought from start to finish.
.
However, the best armored formation was the US Army Armored Division of 1944. No Armored Division of the Second World War had the same capability as the US Armored Division - it could literally do everything the Germans were reknowned for but had much superior support units and services. Even the Soviet Guard Tank Corps (the closest equivalent to a Western Division) was not as sophisticated,
.
The Red Army however was the outstanding army of the world by the end of the war, and it was to some extent carried there by the capabilities of the T-34 (regardless of its shortcomings); which on its own would be more than enough to qualify it as one of the best.

Just out of curiosity, why Panzer 3 instead of Panzer 4?  Both vehicles served throughout the entire war.

EnsignExpendable #105 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 00:38

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PzIII was a technologically superior vehicle. The Soviets were very interested in it, and tested it extensively, much more extensively than the PzIV or any other German vehicle.

Daigensui #106 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 00:58

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View PostZinegata, on Sep 22 2013 - 18:19, said:

The Red Army however was the outstanding army of the world by the end of the war, and it was to some extent carried there by the capabilities of the T-34 (regardless of its shortcomings); which on its own would be more than enough to qualify it as one of the best.

Supported by Lend Lease. Without it, it would never have been the "outstanding" army it was by the end of the war.

Walter_Sobchak #107 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 01:38

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View PostEnsignExpendable, on Sep 23 2013 - 00:38, said:

PzIII was a technologically superior vehicle. The Soviets were very interested in it, and tested it extensively, much more extensively than the PzIV or any other German vehicle.

I would suspect that the Pz III had a better suspension, but they both had the same engine.  Still, the larger turret ring of the Pz IV seems to be a pretty big advantage.  What were the other substantive differences?

Walter_Sobchak #108 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 01:54

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View PostZinegata, on Sep 22 2013 - 18:19, said:

The Red Army however was the outstanding army of the world by the end of the war, and it was to some extent carried there by the capabilities of the T-34 (regardless of its shortcomings); which on its own would be more than enough to qualify it as one of the best.

My biggest question regarding the capabilities of the Red Army would be artillery.  The Red Army certainly had plenty of artillery pieces and they were of good design.  But my understanding is that Soviet fire control techniques were quite a bit behind those of the US.  Also, Soviet indirect fire ability was concentrated further up the organizational tree, with rifle divisions have very limited indirect fire ability, particularly early in the war.  However, I have not studied WW2 artillery in any detail so any more information on this topic would be appreciated.

Lunaris #109 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 03:01

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Each rifle divison only have 76mm divisional gun for indirrect fire. But I think their number is high enough, 4 for each battalion and 12 for each division, for total of 24 guns. Each battalion also have their own mortar team.
When it reach regiment and corps level they start to get bigger gun like A-19 and they have ML-20 for army level, shock army have heavy howitzer instead ML-20.
I think first must be understand that their organization difrent than US or German equivalent. Their division is smaller, like 16k manpower and when formed into army they are numberd 100k, equal to a German division.
note: my number might not correct but I can be sure that a soviet army is equal to german division on its manpower both at 100k. I might not be correct for organization lower than that. Someone please correct me if I wrong.
3 Platoons and it support elements (MG platoon) form a Company
3 Companies and ist support elements (AT/mortar platoon) form a Battalion
3 Battalions and ist suports elements (Arty platoon) form a Regiments
3 Regiment and it suports elements (Arty reg) form a Divisions
3 Division and ist support elements (Arty reg, Tanks reg) form a  Rifle Corps
3 Riffle Corps and 1 Tank Corps form an Army or 1 Mechanized Corps, 1-2 Tank Corps and 1 Rifle Corps for a Tank Army.

Edited by Lunaris, Sep 24 2013 - 02:25.


Lunaris #110 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 03:22

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Also for their tanks, I ask this now since my internet already down for months, if i was wrong

2 tanks and 1 lead tanks form a platoon (3)
3 platoons and 1 commander tank form a company (3+3+3+1=10)
2 companies and 1 commander tank form a battalion (10+10+1=21)
3 battalions and 1 commander tank form a regiment (21+21+21+1=64) but since the guy in command is pretty high ranked he chose a staff car instead so the number usualy 63

for heavy tank
4 tanks and 1 command tank form a platoon (4+1=5)
4 platoons and 1 command tank form a company (5+5+5+5+1=21)
3 company and 1 command tank form a regiment (21+21+21+1=64)

3 regiments form a corps (189 tanks)

rossmum #111 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 04:01

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Sep 22 2013 - 17:41, said:

I assume this is directed to me. I did not say these vehicles were fighting in a vacuum. No where did I say that these lose ratios were the result of direct tank on tank fighting. What I asked was why did the Soviets lose so many more vehicles than the Germans did. I could have also asked why did the Soviets lose so many more men as well. I did not "shrug off anything" else regarding the war in the East. I know why the USSR won. Better utilization of the economic assets, better decisions on the strategic level as evidenced by their victories as Stalingrad and Kursk, assistance from their Allies, a much larger pool of military age males, and of course, in the indomitable spirit of the Soviet peoples to fight for their own survival. I am getting really tired of how anytime someone says something critical about either Russian equipment or the tactical capabilities of the Red Army, they get jumped on as some sort of Nazi apologist or accused of "sheer idiocy." Last time I checked, I found no Swastikas decorating my living room, so I'm pretty sure I'm not a Nazi. And I managed to put my pants on this morning without falling over so it's a safe bet that I am not a complete idiot either.
I was directing most of that towards the article itself, not you.

As for possible reasons, I did outline some. There would've been others too, particularly with regards to the strategic situation early on and supply issues at certain stages.

Zinegata #112 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 04:22

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Sep 22 2013 - 20:25, said:

Still, it's fun to look critically at the T-34, picking apart it's technical merits and deficiencies.

I know it's fun for some people, but on a personal level I never found it to be a worthwhile exercise - there are just too many variables that can affect something like armor penetration capability - like amount of propellant used, ammunition type, training, terrain conditions, etc - all of which make these "technical assessments" very limited in scope and usefulness.

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Just out of curiosity, why Panzer 3 instead of Panzer 4?  Both vehicles served throughout the entire war.

The Panzer III was available in much larger numbers. The Panzer IV is the best German tank if you count only the turreted versions, but the Panzer III chassis (with the Stugs counted) served longer and in generally greater numbers. Moreover, they Stugs served in the Panzerjaeger battalions of the infantry as well as the Panzer Divisions; meaning they did a lot more grunt work than any of the German tanks.

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My biggest question regarding the capabilities of the Red Army would be artillery.  The Red Army certainly had plenty of artillery pieces and they were of good design.  But my understanding is that Soviet fire control techniques were quite a bit behind those of the US.  Also, Soviet indirect fire ability was concentrated further up the organizational tree, with rifle divisions have very limited indirect fire ability, particularly early in the war.  However, I have not studied WW2 artillery in any detail so any more information on this topic would be appreciated.

Soviet reliance on artillery has actually been a bit overstated. Yes, the Soviets had a lot more guns, but the US actually out-metalled them if you look at the actual weight of shellfire delivered; and this is before we consider that Soviet artillery was mainly used in massed prepared bombardments instead of the forward observer system used by the US.

What the Soviets actually tended to do with their artillery pieces - which isn't mentioned much - is to use them in the direct-fire role. Divisional artillery pieces from 1942 onwards actually tended to be used for direct-fire, in stark contrast with the US, British, or Germans whose Division-level artillery was used for indirect fire (The Germans had regiment-level artillery pieces for direct-fire though, increasingly supplemented by the Panzerjargers and the Stug). It was the Corps-level assets which tended to be used for indirect fire.

That said, the reason why the Red Army was the best was because it's the army that best understood how to win the war at the strategic level.

adamf #113 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 04:39

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View PostLunaris, on Sep 23 2013 - 03:01, said:

I think first must be understand that their organization difrent than US or German equivalent. Their division is smaller, like 16k manpower and when formed into army they are numberd 100k, equal to a German division.
note: my number might not correct but I can be sure that a soviet army is equal to german division on its manpower both at 100k. I might not be correct for organization lower than that.

This definitely does not sound right.  AFAIK, WW2 infantry divisions in all major countries had 14-20k manpower (on paper).  
Tank units are a bit different.  British and Soviet tank regiments would be called battalions in the US or Germany.  So a Panzer division would be equivalent to a Soviet Tank corps (not army).

Daigensui #114 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 04:58

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View PostZinegata, on Sep 23 2013 - 04:22, said:

That said, the reason why the Red Army was the best was because it's the army that best understood how to win the war at the strategic level.
Yeah, because it was on the shoulders of the giant that was the United States. That's why I never listen to the trash military that was the Red Army. And by trash, I mean it would never have been an autonomously functional military without all the help it received.

EnsignExpendable #115 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 05:05

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View PostDaigensui, on Sep 23 2013 - 04:58, said:

Yeah, because it was on the shoulders of the giant that was the United States. That's why I never listen to the trash army that was the Red Army.

The Red Army is the best army to listen to.

View PostLunaris, on Sep 23 2013 - 03:22, said:

Also for their tanks, I ask this now since my internet already down for months, if i was wrong2 tanks and 1 lead tanks form a platoon (3)3 platoons and 1 commander tank form a company (3+3+3+1=10)2 companies and 1 commander tank form a battalion (10+10+1=21)3 battalions and 1 commander tank form a regiment (21+21+21+1=64) but since the guy in command is pretty high ranked he chose a staff car instead so the number usualy 63for heavy tank4 tanks and 1 command tank form a platoon (4+1=5)4 platoons and 1 command tank form a company (5+5+5+5+1=21)3 company and 1 command tank form a regiment (21+21+21+1=64)3 regiments form a corps (189 tanks)

Soviet strategic tank unit composition changed a few times throughout the war.

View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Sep 23 2013 - 01:38, said:

I would suspect that the Pz III had a better suspension, but they both had the same engine.  Still, the larger turret ring of the Pz IV seems to be a pretty big advantage.  What were the other substantive differences?

The suspension, and the better gun (at least at first), also nifty little things like indicator lights for the driver when the gun is pointing beyond the sides of the hull.

Zinegata #116 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 05:08

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View PostDaigensui, on Sep 23 2013 - 04:58, said:

Yeah, because it was on the shoulders of the giant that was the United States. That's why I never listen to the trash military that was the Red Army. And by trash, I mean it would never have been an autonomously functional military without all the help it received.

There's a considerable difference in knowing how to win the war on the strategic level and needing logistical help to keep it going because the country that supports it had already lost the majority of its most productive industrial areas which was only restored in slapdash conditions.

Daigensui #117 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 05:13

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And? Even with all the productive agricultural/industrial areas, it was the changes that Lend Lease brought with it that helped the Red Army actually go into the strategic level. For all the BS that is said about Deep Battle, it came truly an applicable doctrine only with the autonomy that the technological revolution of American help.

I'll keep it simple: tushonka became truly portable for the first time because the US manufactured it. Otherwise the Red Army would have never been any different from the Germans in mobility, and that means deep battle was only the same kind of daydreaming as the German doctrines.

Wyvern2 #118 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 05:34

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View PostDaigensui, on Sep 23 2013 - 05:13, said:

And? Even with all the productive agricultural/industrial areas, it was the changes that Lend Lease brought with it that helped the Red Army actually go into the strategic level. For all the BS that is said about Deep Battle, it came truly an applicable doctrine only with the autonomy that the technological revolution of American help.

I'll keep it simple: tushonka became truly portable for the first time because the US manufactured it. Otherwise the Red Army would have never been any different from the Germans in mobility, and that means deep battle was only the same kind of daydreaming as the German doctrines.
Actually, had they not lost their western territories and bread basket, it is quite possible that the Soviets would have succeeded in making up for transportation losses and producing trucks, rail cars etc for their logistics.
Also, what people dont seem to understand is the fact that much of the USSR's infrastructure was unpaved roads which became mud during down pours and any non-tracked, possibly even the tracked vehicles got stuck and were useless. This meant that outdated methods used by the Germans and Soviets such as horses were actually extremely useful no matter how bad it looks. US and British logistics, although insanely organized and capable, relied on Western Europe's massive and relatively undamaged road network, compared to the USSR which had just lost what little infrastructure it had to the German invaders.

Daigensui #119 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 05:38

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That still wouldn't have made up the mobility possible from portable food. The U.S. rations allowed the Red Army to be fed better than the Germans and gave the Soviets combat flexibility because they were no longer tied to the company soup kitchen. In a way, the National Socialist propaganda of the subhuman Soviet soldier being able to continue fighting without food was right. It was just that instead of the traditional field kitchen that the Germans continued to use, the Soviets could just eat their canned rations. This was one of the most, if not the most, important factors in the Soviets being able to conduct Deep Battle in the first place.

rossmum #120 Posted Sep 23 2013 - 05:39

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Sep 23 2013 - 01:38, said:

I would suspect that the Pz III had a better suspension, but they both had the same engine.  Still, the larger turret ring of the Pz IV seems to be a pretty big advantage.  What were the other substantive differences?
The problem was that its turret ring was not sufficiently large enough to be upgunned the same way the PzIV was, so the PzIII fell into pure infantry support and assault gun (as the StuG) roles while the PzIV was upgunned. Of course, the PzIV's worse suspension then became a problem in this regard.




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