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Historical Sch-lol-arship: T-34


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The_Chieftain #81 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 10:08

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The equipment in question must be German troops, malfunctioning all over Soviet fuel depots.
Is his statement demonstrably wrong? You do not so indicate.

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Also note the lack of source for this alleged fall of reliability.
Better. It is up to him to provide a source for the claim, however, the correct response to a lack of a source is not to go off on an irrelevant tangent.

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God damn, really, several hundred miles in dusty operation would be accompanied by engine power loss? YOU DON'T SAY. Thankfully, when properly maintained, T-34s could travel for 2000-2500 km on average.
Again, you attempt to address your point by putting in an utterly unrelated figure. There is nothing in your link which mentions dust, or how maintenance relates to it. The effectiveness of the air filter is not solely correlated with how often it gets banged out.

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Soviet bladders are not infinite, and pee breaks are required even by the most seasoned of tankers.
We keep empty bottles in the tank for a reason. I've even seen a defaecation on the move (Guy hanging on to the side of the bustle rack). Or has glorious Soviet tank industry not created the piss bottle?
(I know what you're trying to say here, but you've left yourself open for precisely the same sort of daftness that you're giving)

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In 1941 and 1942, the V-2 engine suffered frequent problems diagnosed as "shell-fragment-through-engine-itis". I don't know about the author, but I have yet to see an engine capable of combating this problem
I am reminded of Ferrari's F1 electrical problems in the 1990s. "A push rod blew through the piston wall and hit the generator. Car retired due to an electrical problem". However, neither of you have sourced the figures, so we'll call that another irrelevant draw.

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Wait, but earlier you said it was 30 kilometers? What happened, does the tank continue moving without an engine?
He did not say that. Go read it again.

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"The technical losses field also includes vehicles stuck in mud, even for a short time, and tanks requiring repairs, where one tank could undergo several repairs, and count several times. Tanks needing medium or heavy repairs are also counted. As a result, the amount of losses is larger than the total amount of tanks."
Looks like another case of arguing apples with oranges. I don't think the commander of the 5th Guards Tank Army was much worried by the fact that a large number of his 'losses' were repairable, he only cared that they weren't with him at the startline. If he started with 100 tanks, and contacted the enemy with 85, then he had 15% losses on the road march, even if 14 of them were back in service the next day. (Now, actually, I don't think 15% is all that bad for the time, but that's a different issue)

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"Seryezha, shall we make sure our tanks are in good condition before we attack?"
"Of course not, Misha, the Americans might think they are bad! Come now, I think I had a T-26 somewhere we could use."
Sarcastic or not, if the unit's mechanics are recommending engine changes after 30 hours, there's a logistical question. If the unit had the time and the assets to do the change, then there is no problem for the soldiers. (Procurement division will want to have words with someone though).

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Meanwhile, German tanks that were assembled by craftsmen rather than assembly line workers could not boast such inter-changeability.
Strawman argument. He didn't say anything about German tanks. Now, he is guilty of attempting to further his own position with a far from certain assumption, but that's a different matter.

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It also helps that the M4 was, in fact, cheap.
Whether the M4 was cheap or not, it could not have been built in the numbers it was without the creation of facilities such as the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant. (And, of course, there are economies of scale). No evidence is provided that M4 production numbers would have been reduced had the price been higher.

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Guards Captain Obvious, Cavalier of Order of Lenin First Class, reporting for duty!
This is getting tiresome, and does not invalidate his point. I believe he is making the mistake of attempting to judge by the wrong criterion (i.e. his point of view, not Soviet), but the issue is still worthy of mention.

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What he doesn't know is that the amount of man-portable anti-tank weapons and AT guns eclipsed the production of any tank in the war, but that's another story.
What has that to do with the price of eggs? Tanks generally spent most of their time not shooting at tanks to begin with.

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We already covered how the Soviets classified anything stuck in the mud as "lost". That's a pretty good figure.
Then can we assume that Soviets absolutely sucked at getting tanks out of mud? Otherwise the 'operational' and 'production' figures don't match. Assuming that the tables he posted are correct, either address where the nearly 16,000 missing tanks are for 1943, or pay more attention to what you're saying.

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Either the author doesn't remember writing the previous paragraph, or he doesn't consider over 100,000 total armoured vehicles a horde
You really aren't reading what he wrote, are you? "T-34s" =/= "Soviet AFVs". And even 45,000 isn't necessarily a horde if they're not at the same place at the same time.

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I take it back, apparently life is a video game. Also this mysterious study uses an enemy vehicle for a baseline, which is kind of laughable.
Such mathematical systems are reasonably common. He did not say that Pz III was the baseline, only that it had the value of the baseline. Even if it was the baseline, it's not inconceivable that a vehicle which remained in generally static and known configuration at that point could be used as one.

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Penetration of the turret generally means loss of the tank, explosion of the shells or no.
This is not true

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The author also conveniently ignores the fact that the Germans copied this feature on the King Tiger, and then swiftly disallowed the use of the ready rack due to the danger of detonation. Oopsie
Strawman again, which does not invalidate his point. Have you ever noticed that I rarely will make a comparison between different tanks on my videos? I let the merits and demerits of various vehicles stand on their own. Saying that "Well, that tank blows up just as easily as ours" is, again, hardly a ringing endorsement.

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The author's poor memory rears its head again, as he does not remember stating that the Sherman was produced in large numbers due to the American manufacturing base, and not due to any similarity to the T-34
The sentence you quote makes no attempt to correlate cost or complexity of production.

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Yes, in all of those engagements between Soviet and Western tank forces during WWIII, the latter were definitely superior.
He's very clearly in the paragraph talking about post-war events. The flaws probably lie more with the crews than the tanks, but there's no denying the fact that the Soviet types from WWII to today tended not to come out the better of the contests.
By the way, I hate you. It is now 2am, you kept me up.

Daigensui #82 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 10:10

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Sep 22 2013 - 10:08, said:

By the way, I hate you. It is now 2am, you kept me up.

RED ALERT! RED ALERT! THE_CHIEFTAIN HAS BEEN ANGERED!

It's been a while since I've seen The_Chieftain like this.

Walter_Sobchak #83 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 13:12

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Since Zinegata mentioned Soviet Tank Loss statistics.  I thought I would post these.  This is from "Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses" by G.F. Krivosheev, a book I just got yesterday in the mail from Amazon.  According to these figures, the Soviets lost around 83,500 fully tracked vehicles during "The Great Patriotic War."  Christos article puts total Soviet tank losses at 96,000.  So, certainly a difference, but not nearly enough to nullify his contention that Soviet tank losses far exceeded those of the Wehrmacht.
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Edited by Walter_Sobchak, Sep 22 2013 - 13:43.


Walter_Sobchak #84 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 13:27

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View PostEnsignExpendable, on Sep 19 2013 - 19:41, said:

What other parts do you have a problem with?

Well, it looks like the Chieftain did the work for me.

Zinegata #85 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 14:31

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Sep 22 2013 - 13:12, said:

Since Zinegata mentioned Soviet Tank Loss statistics.  I thought I would post these.  This is from "Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses" by G.F. Krivosheev, a book I just got yesterday in the mail from Amazon.  According to these figures, the Soviets lost around 83,500 fully tracked vehicles during "The Great Patriotic War."  Christos article puts total Soviet tank losses at 96,000.
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Again though, the big problem is that even with Krilosheev's revised figures, the accounting is still not apples to apples.
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In fact, let me put it this way:
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One of the most of-quoted German lost statistics is 25,000 destroyed tanks; quoted by sources such as Zaloga in Red Army Handbook.
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http://www.alanhamby.com/losses.shtml
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However, actual German tank production totalled around 50,000
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http://en.wikipedia....ng_World_War_II
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Meaning that based on the loss figures Christos used, the Germans ended the Second World War with 25,000 tanks still operational!Do the math: 50,000 tanks built, 25,000 lost. That means they should have 25K left... which is completely and utterly contradictory to the fact that the Germans were literally running out of tanks to use in the dying days of the war. (Note: Though I'm not sure if those loss figures count Western Front losses; but even so the majority of the Panzer forces were still deployed in the East)
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And let's not forget that the above production figures do not even count captured tanks like the French Chars, or T-34s. of which we know several hundred were used in secondary fronts.
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The German figures are simply severely undercounted in comparison to how the Allies counted their losses. How can a power that ended the war with zero operational tanks, have only half of its tanks lost in the accounting?
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Meanwhile, the most-quoted Soviet tank production during the war was this:
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http://en.wikipedia....ng_World_War_II
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Which totals about 100,000. Assuming 80K losses, that leaves you with 20,000.
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Here's the problem: The Soviets started the Cold War with well more than 20,000 tanks. Otherwise, the ETO forces would have actually outgunned the Soviet armies in the early days of the Cold War by a factor of 2:1 - something that I know no intelligence estimate of that period supports. I can't recall the source, but the Cold-War start figure for Soviet tanks was around 40,000.
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Edit: In fact, there's something fishy about the Krilosheev figures:
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At the end of the war, Krilosheev breaks down the remaining Soviet tanks as follows:
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Heavy Tanks (presumably KVs or IS) - 5,300
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Medium Tanks (only the T-34 meets the bill unless we count Lend-Lease... but we don't even know if the above figures count Lend Lease or not) - 11K
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Light Tanks - 8,900
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So... based on his figures, Krilosheev is saying that by the end of the war, nearly half of the Soviet tank park was composed of light tanks - the majority of which had their production discontinued since 1943! (and that heavies comprise a much larger proportion than normally thought of - they're not just specialty items used for a few select breakthrough units!)
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So how was the Soviet Union able to give out so many of their T-34s, when their tank park at this point was supposed to be made up mainly of light tanks? Shouldn't we be seeing huge warehouses full of rusting T-70s instead of T-34s, and T-70s sent on export as hand-me-downs? Reliability is clearly not an issue based on Krilosheev's figures - despite very little production light tank numbers remain mainly the same from '43 onwards.
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Frankly, I'm beginning to think that these overly precise figures may actually be just derived and not based on actual counting of each individual tank lost or built. Do you have Krilosheev's methodology? Does he include Lend Lease tanks as part of "production"? What constitutes a "loss"? Again, the key issue with the loss rates is the methodology - it doesn't work unless you count both side's losses in the same way.

Edited by Zinegata, Sep 22 2013 - 15:02.


Zinegata #86 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 14:40

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Sep 21 2013 - 12:47, said:

Zinegata, I think you may have misread my quote.  I said "I am not defending the Christos blog because I think it is particularly well written."  Perhaps I should have said it this way: "I am defending the Christos piece despite the fact that it is not particularly well written."  That was what I was trying to say.  And the only reason I was defending it was because I thought EE's analysis was unfair and a bit off point.  I read EE's blog and enjoy it.  I know he can do better.  Perhaps I just don't like his overly sarcastic style of writing.  Anyway, I am tired of this topic and I didn't really mean to become the champion for Christos, who I neither know nor do I regularly read his blog.  I think I many write my own analysis of the T-34 for my blog, and then if everyone poops all over it, I can at least spend my time defending my own words, not those of someone else.
My point though is that I'm not actually convinced by both sides trying to pettyfog the issue with technical minutae. The important thing is the front-wide figures, and there are simply no good records on the German side (and whatever records exist are blatantly under-counted) and the Soviet losses tend to be bloated because of their own accounting measures.
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Note how the German losses do not equal production despite the Germans ending the war with zero tanks. Clearly, they weren't counting a good deal of losses; or were counting them in a very delayed manner. If you look at the German loss records for instance, there's a sudden massive jump in tank losses in September 1944, despite the fact the Cobra breakout was already done by then. The reason? It turned out that the units that got obliterated were simply late in submitting loss reports.
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Edit: Never mind. Krilosheev is still using the 100K production figure, he just split it between tanks and SPs. See the above edit though.

Edited by Zinegata, Sep 22 2013 - 14:52.


Daigensui #87 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 15:14

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From what I understand, German losses are "true" losses, not operational losses. The Soviets, on the other hand, tended to included operational losses in their counts.

Zinegata #88 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 15:26

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View PostDaigensui, on Sep 22 2013 - 15:14, said:

From what I understand, German losses are "true" losses, not operational losses. The Soviets, on the other hand, tended to included operational losses in their counts.

Pretty much, although the definition of a "true" loss is more akin to "irrecoverable" loss.

Also, take a look at this breakdown of German tank losses.

http://www.warhistor...-fms-p-059.html

Notice something fishy about the Tiger losses in 1942?

The source claims that only three Tigers were "lost" in 1942 - presumably these are the three Tigers lost in Tunisia against British 6 pounders. However, we actually know that this wasn't the first time a Tiger was lost - the first official deployment was actually in the East Front, with several verified engagements near Leningrad wherein at least four Tigers were knocked out - one of which was abandoned and lost permanently.

By the operational losses statistic, there would have been at least seven Tigers lost in 1942, plus whatever Tigers that also broke down in Tunisia or the Don Basin (two other places where the Tiger was deployed but to little effect in 1942).

Walter_Sobchak #89 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 15:39

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Sep 22 2013 - 13:12, said:

Since Zinegata mentioned Soviet Tank Loss statistics.  I thought I would post these.  This is from "Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses" by G.F. Krivosheev, a book I just got yesterday in the mail from Amazon.  According to these figures, the Soviets lost around 83,500 fully tracked vehicles during "The Great Patriotic War."  Christos article puts total Soviet tank losses at 96,000.  So, certainly a difference, but not nearly enough to nullify his contention that Soviet tank losses far exceeded those of the Wehrmacht.

Oh hell, I misread the chart I posted.  The figure of 83,500 is for total number of "Tanks" that were lost.  Total number of "Tanks and AFVs" is the higher figure of 96,500.

Zinegata #90 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 16:00

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Sep 22 2013 - 15:39, said:

Oh hell, I misread the chart I posted.  The figure of 83,500 is for total number of "Tanks" that were lost.  Total number of "Tanks and AFVs" is the higher figure of 96,500.

Oh, well, he's using the exact same most oft-quoted figures then :P.

See above for all the fishiness and incompatability with the German figures :P.

Walter_Sobchak #91 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 16:47

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View PostZinegata, on Sep 22 2013 - 15:26, said:

Pretty much, although the definition of a "true" loss is more akin to "irrecoverable" loss.

Also, take a look at this breakdown of German tank losses.

http://www.warhistor...-fms-p-059.html

Notice something fishy about the Tiger losses in 1942?

The source claims that only three Tigers were "lost" in 1942 - presumably these are the three Tigers lost in Tunisia against British 6 pounders. However, we actually know that this wasn't the first time a Tiger was lost - the first official deployment was actually in the East Front, with several verified engagements near Leningrad wherein at least four Tigers were knocked out - one of which was abandoned and lost permanently.

By the operational losses statistic, there would have been at least seven Tigers lost in 1942, plus whatever Tigers that also broke down in Tunisia or the Don Basin (two other places where the Tiger was deployed but to little effect in 1942).

To get back to the original topic, I believe all this talk about tank and afv losses originated over Christos comment:

"Just a bit under 45.000 lost during the war! War-winning indeed…
Total Soviet AFV losses in 1941-45 were 96.600. That’s not a typo. Almost one hundred thousand vehicles.
For comparison’s sake a German document posted at AHF lists tank losses in the East from 1941-44 as 15.673 and total AFV losses (tanks, Stug, self-propeled guns etc) as 23.802."

Zinegata, if I understand you correctly, you are taking issue with the 23,802 figure based on the fact that A) German figures were counted differently, often making the figures look better than they really were, and B) the Germans produced almost 50,000 tanks and AFV's, almost all of which were destroyed.  These seem like valid points to me.

Here is the actual chart from "Soviet Army Handbook" that you referred to.  As far as I can tell, these figures are accurate, but only reflect the numbers for tanks, they do not include tank destroyers, SPG's or assault guns.  This of course makes the numbers look more lopsided than they should since the Germans produced a far higher percentage of turret-less AFVs in relation to tanks than the Soviets did.
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Still, I think Christos has a point.  It's hard to imagine the T-34 as "The Best Tank in the World" when we know that Soviet tank losses far exceeded German AFV loses.  Either we have to accept that Soviet loses were the result of serious design flaws of their tanks, or we have to accept that Soviet tank designs were not the issue and that loses were the result of some deficiency of the Red Army as a fighting force.  I know that is a rather simplistic way to put it, but there has to be some reason why the Soviet tank loses were so high.

rossmum #92 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 17:14

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The bulk of the Soviet tank park early on consisted of light tanks. If you look at a lot of the AARs even later as the war turns against Germany, you'll still see obsolete light tanks* being listed as lost. Attributing the overall AFV losses (remember that this includes not only the light tanks but also SPGs and scout cars, which the Soviets had quite some number of) solely to the T-34 via slippery wording like Christos does is not exactly a good place to start. This is even before we begin looking at how many of those losses were actually something beyond a tank stuck in the mud or otherwise temporarily disabled, then how many were mechanical breakdowns too serious for immediate repair, how many were lost to enemy fire, how many of those were lost to tanks or AT guns, etc., etc.

It's all well and good to wave around some impressively large number, but exploiting its vagueness to try and make a point about a smaller part of that number which you can't actually account for is just ridiculous.

On top of this, you then have to consider the fact that Germany still lost, so for all the theorising about whose tanks were better in a vacuum it makes little difference at the end of the day. Clearly, the Soviets were doing something right, and the Germans weren't. You can't just shrug off what the RKKA did to the Wehrmacht in 44-45 as being an accident, or sheer luck. Comparing pieces of military equipment as if war is conducted on a billiard table is already questionable enough, but when you're trying to make the assertion that the losing side were totally superior to the side which crushed them like few armies have ever been crushed before, it becomes sheer idiocy.

*The Soviets kept whatever light tanks their units already had in service for the duration, and it was not all that rare for units to still be fielding T-60s or even T-26s by 1944-45. I am not entirely sure how the Germans compare here; I know they were still using quite a lot of 38(t) tanks as late as 1943 but I don't have any real knowledge of light tank use past that.

Walter_Sobchak #93 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 17:21

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Not to fuel the fire or anything, but what do you all think about this article?

Walter_Sobchak #94 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 17:41

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View Postrossmum, on Sep 22 2013 - 17:14, said:

The bulk of the Soviet tank park early on consisted of light tanks. If you look at a lot of the AARs even later as the war turns against Germany, you'll still see obsolete light tanks* being listed as lost. Attributing the overall AFV losses (remember that this includes not only the light tanks but also SPGs and scout cars, which the Soviets had quite some number of) solely to the T-34 via slippery wording like Christos does is not exactly a good place to start. This is even before we begin looking at how many of those losses were actually something beyond a tank stuck in the mud or otherwise temporarily disabled, then how many were mechanical breakdowns too serious for immediate repair, how many were lost to enemy fire, how many of those were lost to tanks or AT guns, etc., etc.

It's all well and good to wave around some impressively large number, but exploiting its vagueness to try and make a point about a smaller part of that number which you can't actually account for is just ridiculous.

On top of this, you then have to consider the fact that Germany still lost, so for all the theorising about whose tanks were better in a vacuum it makes little difference at the end of the day. Clearly, the Soviets were doing something right, and the Germans weren't. You can't just shrug off what the RKKA did to the Wehrmacht in 44-45 as being an accident, or sheer luck. Comparing pieces of military equipment as if war is conducted on a billiard table is already questionable enough, but when you're trying to make the assertion that the losing side were totally superior to the side which crushed them like few armies have ever been crushed before, it becomes sheer idiocy.

*The Soviets kept whatever light tanks their units already had in service for the duration, and it was not all that rare for units to still be fielding T-60s or even T-26s by 1944-45. I am not entirely sure how the Germans compare here; I know they were still using quite a lot of 38(t) tanks as late as 1943 but I don't have any real knowledge of light tank use past that.

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.

EnsignExpendable #95 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 17:58

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Sep 22 2013 - 10:07, said:

As ever, this is one of those EE productions which, whilst certainly worthy of reading because one almost always learns something new, must be read with a skeptical eye.

And here I thought that the piece was obviously humorous in nature. I guess my very temporary career in comedy has come to an end.

Daigensui #96 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 18:00

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View PostEnsignExpendable, on Sep 22 2013 - 17:58, said:

And here I thought that the piece was obviously humorous in nature. I guess my very temporary career in comedy has come to an end.

Exactly why you shouldn't be posting anything of the sort in this part of the forums.

Zinegata #97 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 18:00

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Sep 22 2013 - 16:47, said:

Still, I think Christos has a point.  It's hard to imagine the T-34 as "The Best Tank in the World" when we know that Soviet tank losses far exceeded German AFV loses.  Either we have to accept that Soviet loses were the result of serious design flaws of their tanks, or we have to accept that Soviet tank designs were not the issue and that loses were the result of some deficiency of the Red Army as a fighting force.  I know that is a rather simplistic way to put it, but there has to be some reason why the Soviet tank loses were so high.

He has no point because again, the problem is that everyone counted their losses differently; and that if the Soviet losses are indeed "operational" they aren't actually much worse than the German losses rate-wise.

For instance, 7th Panzer Division (Rommel's Division in France 1940) had reported that 90% of its tanks were not operational by the end of the campaign. German Divisions coming out of the Normandy campaign were reporting 90%+ losses too, with Divisions of 100+ tanks reporting they only had a dozen or so left working. That's much worse than the Soviet loss rates by 1944, wherein "only" 40% was lost.

[Note: We don't have overall operational loss figures for the German army, so we can't say for sure.]

If we're really going to just count operational losses (based on number of running tanks in the end), the reality is closer to this: The Germans lost 50,000 tanks and TDs (100% of their production), the Soviets lost about 60K-90K (90K is the high end, 60K is the low end to account for double-counted losses), and the Western Allies no more than 10K (albeit that doesn't include ones repaired in the field). Total kill rate ratio: Around 1.5x1 to 2x1 - or nearly the exact same ratio as the German army's overall efficiency versus the Allied armies in total - including infantry, artillery, and armor elements.

In short, the Soviet tank losses were completely at par with the overall Soviet and Allied losses (across all categories) versus the German Army - and the German Army having this advantage not due to technological advantage but due to having better junior officer training and initiative, and a very strong organization that refused to quit. The Soviet tank arm was in fact not suffering spectacularly more heavy losses than any other arm.

The arms that actually suffered spectacularly worse losses than on average are folks like the German U-boat arm (something like 80% loss rate), yet no one ever accuses the German submarines of being "bad" - they were simply being destroyed because of realities beyond their control.

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Speaking of realities beyond their control...

For tanks, of far greater importance is the fact that the greatest contributor of battlefield losses is maintenance woes - particularly in the East. The more tanks you have, the more tanks you lose due to maintenance woes. If everyone loses 40% of their tanks due to breakdown (a reasonable assumption), then the army with 100K tanks will lose 40K tanks (the Red Army) while the army with only 5K tanks will lose 2K. Now, 40K may seem shocking and scary, but that's not actually because of a bad tank or worse reliability - it's just the reality of a front-wide war where the real killer is attrition and the distances that must be covered that destroys machines due to simple wear and tear.

And just as importantly, the article fails to take into account the much more powerful integral anti-tank capability of the German Infantry Division - which is again the backbone of the German army. Each German Division - even the Volksgrenadier ones - had an integral anti-tank battalion (often with a self-propelled anti-tank gun company). And in 1944, this was further enhanced with the introduction of Panzerfausts and Panzerschrecks.

A comparable US Division by contrast had only light anti-tank guns until the permanent attachment of a Tank Destroyer battalion to each Division, while Soviet Rifle Divisions rarely had a full complement of field guns and they were much more likely to be used in the HE anti-infantry role. Nonetheless, even had the Allies gotten more anti-tank weapons with their infantry it wouldn't have worsened German losses - simply because the Germans simply didn't have the tanks to throw at the Allies in the first place.

In short, high Allied tank losses are to a large extent a consequence of the tanks fighting the laws of physics to stave off breakdown (not the Germans), and having to fight a lot of German infantry with plentiful anti-tank weapons (not the Panzers). And even then, their loss ratio is not much worse than the loss overall loss ratio across all arms.

EnsignExpendable #98 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 18:02

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View Postrossmum, on Sep 22 2013 - 17:14, said:

.*The Soviets kept whatever light tanks their units already had in service for the duration, and it was not all that rare for units to still be fielding T-60s or even T-26s by 1944-45. I am not entirely sure how the Germans compare here; I know they were still using quite a lot of 38(t) tanks as late as 1943 but I don't have any real knowledge of light tank use past that.

An order was issued in March of 1943 to stop repairing obsolete tanks and send them to Far East repair bases instead, but you still see T-26es pop up in a repair base here and there.

Zinegata #99 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 18:08

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View PostWalter_Sobchak, on Sep 22 2013 - 17:21, said:

Not to fuel the fire or anything, but what do you all think about this article?
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Bad.
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It castigates the T-34's "combat results" per year, without taking into account what actually happened in each of those years.
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In 1941, the majority of the standing Red Army was obliterated because it was suckered in a sneak attack. An unmanned and unfuelled T-34 is not going to be a very powerful weapon no matter what.
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In 1942, the author forgets about something called "Case Blue" which resulted in another catastrophic loss of men and material.
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In 1943, the author forgets all about Third Kharkov.
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In fact, all the author is focused on are again these stupid pettyfogging details. "Panzer III now has 50mm gun, yada yada yada". Sorry, but that's just utterly awful analysis from a front-wide basis. War is not a joust between the main gun of a Panzer III and the sloped armor of a T-34. It is a contest between millions of men and tens of thousands of tanks.
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What am I to believe, that the piddling pettyfogging about how a Panzer III vs T-34 battle turned out (which, based on German 1941-43 doctrine - should never even be fought in the first place, because enemy armor was supposed to be destroyed by Panzerjaegers, not the Panzers!) was the prime contributor to Soviet heavy losses, or was it the fact that the Germans achieved strategic surprise in 1941 and 42, and the Soviets badly overreached themselves early in 1943?
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Pettyfogging is not analysis. Technical merits do not make a war.

Edited by Zinegata, Sep 22 2013 - 18:10.


Walter_Sobchak #100 Posted Sep 22 2013 - 18:16

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View PostZinegata, on Sep 22 2013 - 18:00, said:

He has no point because again, the problem is that everyone counted their losses differently; and that if the Soviet losses are indeed "operational" they aren't actually much worse than the German losses rate-wise.

For instance, 7th Panzer Division (Rommel's Division in France 1940) had reported that 90% of its tanks were not operational by the end of the campaign. German Divisions coming out of the Normandy campaign were reporting 90%+ losses too, with Divisions of 100+ tanks reporting they only had a dozen or so left working. That's much worse than the Soviet loss rates by 1944, wherein "only" 40% was lost.

[Note: We don't have overall operational loss figures for the German army, so we can't say for sure.]

If we're really going to just count operational losses (based on number of running tanks in the end), the reality is closer to this: The Germans lost 50,000 tanks and TDs (100% of their production), the Soviets lost about 60K-90K (90K is the high end, 60K is the low end to account for double-counted losses), and the Western Allies no more than 10K (albeit that doesn't include ones repaired in the field). Total kill rate ratio: Around 1.5x1 to 2x1 - or nearly the exact same ratio as the German army's overall efficiency versus the Allied armies in total - including infantry, artillery, and armor elements.

In short, the Soviet tank losses were completely at par with the overall Soviet and Allied losses (across all categories) versus the German Army - and the German Army having this advantage not due to technological advantage but due to having better junior officer training and initiative, and a very strong organization that refused to quit. The Soviet tank arm was in fact not suffering spectacularly more heavy losses than any other arm.

The arms that actually suffered spectacularly worse losses than on average are folks like the German U-boat arm (something like 80% loss rate), yet no one ever accuses the German submarines of being "bad" - they were simply being destroyed because of realities beyond their control.

====

Speaking of realities beyond their control...

For tanks, of far greater importance is the fact that the greatest contributor of battlefield losses is maintenance woes - particularly in the East. The more tanks you have, the more tanks you lose due to maintenance woes. If everyone loses 40% of their tanks due to breakdown (a reasonable assumption), then the army with 100K tanks will lose 40K tanks (the Red Army) while the army with only 5K tanks will lose 2K. Now, 40K may seem shocking and scary, but that's not actually because of a bad tank or worse reliability - it's just the reality of a front-wide war where the real killer is attrition and the distances that must be covered that destroys machines due to simple wear and tear.

And just as importantly, the article fails to take into account the much more powerful integral anti-tank capability of the German Infantry Division - which is again the backbone of the German army. Each German Division - even the Volksgrenadier ones - had an integral anti-tank battalion (often with a self-propelled anti-tank gun company). And in 1944, this was further enhanced with the introduction of Panzerfausts and Panzerschrecks.

A comparable US Division by contrast had only light anti-tank guns until the permanent attachment of a Tank Destroyer battalion to each Division, while Soviet Rifle Divisions rarely had a full complement of field guns and they were much more likely to be used in the HE anti-infantry role. Nonetheless, even had the Allies gotten more anti-tank weapons with their infantry it wouldn't have worsened German losses - simply because the Germans simply didn't have the tanks to throw at the Allies in the first place.

In short, high Allied tank losses are to a large extent a consequence of the tanks fighting the laws of physics to stave off breakdown (not the Germans), and having to fight a lot of German infantry with plentiful anti-tank weapons (not the Panzers). And even then, their loss ratio is not much worse than the loss overall loss ratio across all arms.

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.




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