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was the tiger a reliable tank?


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Audie_L_Murphy #181 Posted Aug 23 2015 - 23:28

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My Great-Uncle was a tanker in WWII.  He was in the Sherman attached to an infantry division (29th I think).  He told me they never actually encountered any Tigers that weren't broken down, out of gas or already knocked out.  I'm going to guess the tank wasn't very reliable.  

I'm sure the lack of spare parts & poor manufacturing as well as a complex design made this issue more acute.

When I asked my Uncle what the best tank was in WWII he said the M4.  When I asked why he said:  "The best tank on the battlefield is the one that shows up for the battle."  The M4 was always there.   



esdren #182 Posted Aug 24 2015 - 05:08

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View PostDaigensui, on Aug 23 2015 - 21:30, said:

 

Pretty much any tank would lit up when hit. What do you think a shell exploding within a vehicle full of ammunition and fuel is going to do, just play some fireworks?

 

Not all shells are designed to have a secondary detonation upon penetration.     Those that werent, of which there are many, did their damage by impacting either directly or by spalling, a critical system or ammo/fuel.     if they didnt hit these then there was little chance of them igniting.

 

Penetration does not mean internal explosion.    Penetration just means the shell go tthrough the armor.   It could very well have gone straight out the other side or impacted nothing of value and done 0 effective damage


Edited by esdren, Aug 24 2015 - 05:09.


Meplat #183 Posted Aug 24 2015 - 13:49

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View Postesdren, on Aug 23 2015 - 21:08, said:

 

Not all shells are designed to have a secondary detonation upon penetration.     Those that werent, of which there are many, did their damage by impacting either directly or by spalling, a critical system or ammo/fuel.     if they didnt hit these then there was little chance of them igniting.

 

Penetration does not mean internal explosion.    Penetration just means the shell go tthrough the armor.   It could very well have gone straight out the other side or impacted nothing of value and done 0 effective damage

 Pretty much.

Even the AP with a small HE filler were not going to detonate post penetration with 100% reliability, often behaving like solid shot.

 

Some of the MG shoots I attended, we'd shoot up old trucks or cars, sometimes ones that had been driven downrange.  It takes a lot to get one to go up "hollywood style", even when you're trying to persuade it with all kinds of ordinance.



Shanzival #184 Posted Aug 24 2015 - 14:23

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View PostDaigensui, on Aug 23 2015 - 15:30, said:

 

Pretty much any tank would lit up when hit. What do you think a shell exploding within a vehicle full of ammunition and fuel is going to do, just play some fireworks?

It plays a cash register sound because you critted the tank.



IosacBroc #185 Posted Aug 24 2015 - 23:25

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View PostDaigensui, on Aug 23 2015 - 23:10, said:

 

The British stuffed more than the designated amount of ammo, thus drastically increasing the risk of brew ups. It wasn't until wet storage was introduced that the risk was decreased to an acceptable level. On the other hand, the Americans did not have any particularly noticeable risk of fire except what was expected from a tank.

 

In other words, if the British did as the vehicle was designed, there would not have been any particularly higher propensity to catch fire. 

Have you got a citation for that Dai? I've never read anything suggesting that the British had more ammunition on Board than other Allied tanks, or that they routinely disregarded ammunition stowage instructions. It's an interesting contention. If it's true, it would also strongly suggest that Shermans really were more prone to catching fire than other tanks- if the British routinely over stocked their tanks, then they all would show an increased risk of fire, not just one model in particular, which is what operational research found. And which, to be fair, Fuller et all rigorously denied!

 

On the subject of wet stowage- although the British were keen to fit glycol (wet) liners in their ammunition stowage, possibly based on concerns first raised in '42 after Second Almein, the majority of 'wet' Shermans in Northern Europe were American. 2nd and 3rd AD getting the first M4A1 76 (w)s from early July 44 on, M4A3 75 (w)s shortly after (end of the month) and M4A3 76 (w) (late Aug on). Worth considering if you've read the '38% of First Army tanks burned' statistic for 44-45. 

 

Steve Zaloga mentions a study that found 60-80% of American Shermans fitted with dry stowage burned when hit (no note on number of hits)- OR found 80% of 'dry' British Shermans burned when hit twice or more. That sounds pretty similar on the face of it. Given that Allied tank crews trained together in England before deploying to Europe, on the same ranges, with the same staff, and given that liaison officers were embedded in each other's forces, with a mandate to filter best practice back to their parent nation, amongst other things, I'd consider it odd if the British, alone of Western nations, thought keeping extra ammunition aboard was a good idea?

 

 



Priory_of_Sion #186 Posted Aug 25 2015 - 00:45

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"But because the bins were poorly designed many (British)crews continued to store shells outside them, and to suffer the horrendous consequences when their tank was hit." - Raising Churchill's Army - David French

 

"Loose ammunition stowed in the tank was also a continuing problem, as crews often carried extra rounds outside the bins to limit the need of battlefield replenishment...Crews therefore had to balance the risks of carrying extra ammo with the increased chance of incineration when penetrated." - British Armour in the Normandy Campaign - John Buckley

 

Books on American Armor do not mention this practice and often mention that the Army went great lengths to fix this problem, and they did. 

 

In the ETO US tanks burn rate was ~50% compared to ~80% to British figures. That is a significant difference. In North Africa British burn rates were 60%, so they burned more often than US M4s did in NW Europe. This comes from the Survey of Allied Tank Casualties

 

 

 

 



IosacBroc #187 Posted Aug 26 2015 - 01:08

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View PostPriory_of_Sion, on Aug 25 2015 - 00:45, said:

"But because the bins were poorly designed many (British)crews continued to store shells outside them, and to suffer the horrendous consequences when their tank was hit." - Raising Churchill's Army - David French(1)!

 

 

"Loose ammunition stowed in the tank was also a continuing problem, as crews often carried extra rounds outside the bins to limit the need of battlefield replenishment...Crews therefore had to balance the risks of carrying extra ammo with the increased chance of incineration when penetrated." - British Armour in the Normandy Campaign - John Buckley (2)

 

Books on American Armor do not mention this practice and often mention that the Army went great lengths to fix this problem, and they did. (3)

 

In the ETO US tanks burn rate was ~50% compared to ~80% to British figures. That is a significant difference. In North Africa British burn rates were 60%, so they burned more often than US M4s did in NW Europe. This comes from the Survey of Allied Tank Casualties. (4)

 

 

 

 

I should have been more specific- read it with 'I've never read anything suggesting that the problem was a particularly British one' inserted into my post.

 

1  What's the context and what's the source? As in did French state tank crews (generic) do this, or was he making the assumption that this is a peculiarly British problem? Did he note who told him, or which study informed him? Was he talking about a specific tank, or specific unit?

 

2 Again, although I take your point about the author describing the British experience in Normandy, is this a uniquely British problem, or was this a generic problem amongst tank crews? Net flame wars usually have a fanboy or three accusing the Germans or Soviets of poor ammunition stowage, as well as one or all of the Western Allies. I'm not sure if there's a deep seated urge amongst tankers to sneak extra ammo on board, or a lot of rationalisation amongst non tankers about causality, or just an urge to point fingers common to geek communities! ;)

 

3 You just mentioned two books on British armour which strongly suggest the British fixed the problem- else why mention it in the first place?- while stating that American books don't mention the problem, while emphasising the Army going to 'great lengths' to fix the solution. Your own statement strongly suggests the practice wasn't confined exclusively to British crews.

 

4. You mean the table on page 30? XVII? It does show a higher percentage of British tanks in Northern Europe burning on being hit- but the same table also shows American and British rates of burning being almost exactly the same in Italy. (81.3% American, 80.4% British to gunfire, with less chance of British tanks burning when hit by hollow charge weapons or mines.). It's worth noting the figures are for Allied tanks, not just Shermans.

It's possible that the British in Northern Europe were lackadaisical about ammunition stowage; it's also possible that they were employed differently to their American Allies in vehicles that generally lacked wet ammunition stowages. For example, Commonwealth and Polish forces faced close quarters fighting in the bocage around Caen, grinding slowly forward against the main Axis strength, while the Americans enjoyed a more open flanking attack against lighter opposition in the South West. After the breakout they continued to see different terrain and different defences. By the same token, terrain, range, opponents and equipment may have been more similar for both Armies in Italy.

It's also possible that the reports the figures came from recorded different findings.

Look at the table on page 32- it suggests the British managed to repair 10% more vehicles knocked out from all causes (other than mortar fire). Can we conclude that the REME were better than American engineers? Using the same spares and equipment? Or is there a weighting being recorded that we can't see? Was there some scale of severity being employed by either or both armies recording burned vehicles? (Such as the Americans in Northern Europe only counting vehicles written off by burning, while the Brits/Canadians recorded less seriously damaged vehicles as well? I noticed the Canadians had even more burned vehicles than the Brits- but the report notes that they also kept better maintenance records. Could that be related to their apparently higher burn rates?).

 

I think it's worth reading the whole report, it's caveats and broad conclusions, rather than me cherry picking examples that support a particular narrative. For instance, pp102 has Lt Col KR Daniel flatly stating that German tanks were less prone to burning than American ones. True enough in the context of the small sample of Panzer casualties he was discussing, but manifestly incorrect if you consider the impact of late war measures like wet liners.

 

The introductory paragraph leading to that table on pp30 cautions against drawing too many conclusions from it- "The weakest of all the data available concerns the status of the burning and repairability of tanks. Ambiguities, innumerable omissions and patent errors cripple the historical records in almost every operation..." usw. It's why I'm so interested in 2 ORS's reports- they gathered evidence while it was still fresh to answer then current concerns about Allied operations. The ORO, commissioning this report, were a lot less specific. It's a fascinating read, but I'm wary of drawing fine conclusions from broad inceptions. :)


Edited by IosacBroc, Aug 26 2015 - 23:20.


Priory_of_Sion #188 Posted Aug 26 2015 - 03:57

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1 & 2 were references to British tankers putting ammunition outside ammo bins. I don't see anything to point towards Americans doing that. I can be wrong. 

 

3 - The British never fixed the problem. There is nothing to suggest that they fixed it. The Americans did fix problems with ammo storage. That's why you have "wet" storage introduced in American vehicles. What steps did the British take? None. 

 

4 The Italian campaign saw much less tank action and didn't see very many "wet" M4s so it is important to point out units that did. The vast majority of Allied tanks were M4s. I guess you could blame higher British burn rates on Churchills and Cromwells but that wouldn't support the idea that the M4 was exceptionally bad at catching fire. 

 

If you have better sources then show them. You ask for specifics and you get specifics. That isn't cherry-picking, that is called answering. 

 

 

German tanks did burn less because you don't need to shoot an abandoned vehicle. 



Daigensui #189 Posted Aug 26 2015 - 04:09

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View PostPriory_of_Sion, on Aug 25 2015 - 19:57, said:

German tanks did burn less because you don't need to shoot an abandoned vehicle. 

 

People forget the flames of Kursk.



esdren #190 Posted Aug 26 2015 - 17:14

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Was it also not common practice to fire on a vehicle until it caught fire, as a burnt out tank was an unrecoverable tank.

Audie_L_Murphy #191 Posted Aug 26 2015 - 17:53

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View Postesdren, on Aug 26 2015 - 08:14, said:

Was it also not common practice to fire on a vehicle until it caught fire, as a burnt out tank was an unrecoverable tank.

 

 


 

You shoot at the biggest threat.  If there are bigger threats than that abandoned tank (AT gun for example), you would hit that.  But, if the tank didn't catch fire or change shape, it could be re-occupied & it was still a threat.



Sokolniki #192 Posted Aug 26 2015 - 19:49

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View Postesdren, on Aug 26 2015 - 17:14, said:

Was it also not common practice to fire on a vehicle until it caught fire, as a burnt out tank was an unrecoverable tank.

 

I think this was implemented by the Soviets after several Elefants that were claimed destroyed by SU-152s showed up the next day after repairs and recrews.  The Germans on the Western Front resorted to this practice once it became clear that the Allies logistical system was of such efficiency that anything short of a K-Kill was going to be back in the field in less than a week.

IosacBroc #193 Posted Aug 26 2015 - 23:18

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View PostPriory_of_Sion, on Aug 26 2015 - 03:57, said:

1 & 2 were references to British tankers putting ammunition outside ammo bins. I don't see anything to point towards Americans doing that. I can be wrong. 

 

3 - The British never fixed the problem. There is nothing to suggest that they fixed it. The Americans did fix problems with ammo storage. That's why you have "wet" storage introduced in American vehicles. What steps did the British take? None. 

 

4 The Italian campaign saw much less tank action and didn't see very many "wet" M4s so it is important to point out units that did. The vast majority of Allied tanks were M4s. I guess you could blame higher British burn rates on Churchills and Cromwells but that wouldn't support the idea that the M4 was exceptionally bad at catching fire. 

 

If you have better sources then show them. You ask for specifics and you get specifics. That isn't cherry-picking, that is called answering. 

 

 

German tanks did burn less because you don't need to shoot an abandoned vehicle. 

1 & 2- fair point, the two quotes you provided don't suggest that anyone other than the British did this. Thanks for the source, I've got them both on order now, so that's the next few weekends sorted! Cheers scion.

 

But until they arrive, could you please answer my question about point 1? What was the context of French's remarks and was he describing a particular vehicle? Did he provide a source for the statement, or was it delivered in isolation?

 

3, though... What makes you think the British didn't fix the problem? I haven't read the books you mentioned, but I have read army handbooks on the safe handling of ammunition, I know the British fitted wet liners, although they were at the back of the queue for wet Shermans, ammunition stowage was carefully considered in late and post war designs. What do you think the British missed? Do you think they ever got it right? (I've got this mental image of a donkey walloper sitting on a huge pile of fin, brew in one hand, tab in the other, explaining to Rupert how he diddled the QM! :D)

 

4. Actually, I was talking about my own reply when I used cherry picking (edited above)- Poe applies, I think. 'Better' sources are hard to come by. The ORO compiled all available data into one huge data set- that Italian data is probably the best you'll see, although I'd love to be proven wrong, if anyone else has a better source?

 

I'm trying to think of a polite way of putting this- I appreciate the replies, mate, and I'm not looking to start a spat!- but your comment on the Italian campaign seems to contradict your comment about the British in general? If the Brits burned more due to their own behaviour, then they should have burned more everywhere, if Americans burned less due to their behaviour, then they should have burned less everywhere. Your rationalisation may be correct, but then so might mine... That's to say, if the difference between the samples was environment, rather than personnel, then the burn rates may have been partly or mainly attributable to that, rather than poor crew behaviour.

 

Bringing us to an interesting observation. In North Africa, the total for burned vehicles destroyed by gunfire was noted by the ORO to be 60%*. Average engagement range was estimated at 890yds**. In Northern Europe, for all Allied vehicles, the burn rate due to gunfire was  61.4%*, while the average range was estimated at 800yds**. In Italy the burn rate for all Allied vehicles was 83.5%*, average range was 350yds**. 

Those are pretty broad brush figures, but it does seem- to me, anyway!- that burn rates increase as range decreases. As I posted above, in Northern Europe the Commonwealth forces often found themselves going up against their opponents at close range in confined country, whereas the better known American engagements were typically fought at longer ranges. In Italy everyone fought at close quarters. Food for thought?

 

Another interesting thought. ORO looked at repairability of tanks hit by gunfire***. American forces in Italy suffered 71.9% non repairable tanks, in Northern Europe 53.3%. That's not far off their recorded percentages for burned tanks. The British suffered 45.7% and 35.4% in the same areas- way off their burned totals. I don't think it's unreasonable to consider that the British were probably recording damage- particularly burn damage- differently to their American Allies.

 

* Table X, pp21, Allied Tank Losses in WW2

** Table XVII, pp30, Allied Tank Losses in WW2

*** Table XIX, pp32, same

As with my last post, read the report as well as the tables that accompany it, your reading will almost certainly be different to mine. The samples ORO used are large in terms of widely divergent circumstances, but narrow in terms of actual numbers. Statisticians would be horrified at me drawing conclusions from sample populations of only a few hundred, much less a few score. :)

 

I may post again, after those books arrive. Again, thanks for the recommendation.

 

Edit- the forum seems to think Foxtrot, Alpha, Golf, is a swear word? Really? :amazed: What do you chaps call cigarettes when you can't be ar5ed saying the whole word?


Edited by IosacBroc, Aug 26 2015 - 23:25.


Shanzival #194 Posted Aug 27 2015 - 01:36

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View Postesdren, on Aug 26 2015 - 11:14, said:

Was it also not common practice to fire on a vehicle until it caught fire, as a burnt out tank was an unrecoverable tank.

 

If you're not likely to maintain control of the field of battle long enough to recover vehicles then it's best to deny it to your opponent.

 

Also since the real world doesn't have kill indicators, it's generally a good idea to shoot an enemy vehicle until it burns or has 'A Significant Event'


Edited by President_Romney, Aug 27 2015 - 01:36.


esdren #195 Posted Aug 27 2015 - 01:52

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View PostAudie_L_Murphy, on Aug 26 2015 - 17:53, said:

You shoot at the biggest threat.  If there are bigger threats than that abandoned tank (AT gun for example), you would hit that.

 

Im not suggesting that in the middle of combat they turn and start blasting abandoned at guns and tanks.

 

View PostPresident_Romney, on Aug 27 2015 - 01:36, said:

Also since the real world doesn't have kill indicators, it's generally a good idea to shoot an enemy vehicle until it burns or has 'A Significant Event'

 

My point exactly.   Its not like tankers would just stroll along firing a single shot at enemies and assuming they were destroyed.  You see a threatening tank, you fire at it until it is no longer a threat.   How do you know its no longer a threat?    Well crew abandoning it is a good indicator.   Ya know what else is a good indicator?   Flames bursting from the hatches. 

 

Id hate to be the commander that decided that beat up m4 was destroyed then rolling past it only to see its turret whip around and put a 76mm into my engine.

 


Edited by esdren, Aug 27 2015 - 01:55.


zloykrolik #196 Posted Aug 27 2015 - 02:16

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View PostIosacBroc, on Aug 26 2015 - 14:18, said:

1 & 2- fair point,...

 

.... the whole word?

Now that's how you conduct an online discussion. No personal attacks & references sited. Good job dude. +1

 

 

 

 

Stalkervision et al should take note.


Edited by zloykrolik, Aug 27 2015 - 02:17.


Shanzival #197 Posted Aug 27 2015 - 02:28

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View Postesdren, on Aug 26 2015 - 19:52, said:

 

Im not suggesting that in the middle of combat they turn and start blasting abandoned at guns and tanks.

 

 

My point exactly.   Its not like tankers would just stroll along firing a single shot at enemies and assuming they were destroyed.  You see a threatening tank, you fire at it until it is no longer a threat.   How do you know its no longer a threat?    Well crew abandoning it is a good indicator.   Ya know what else is a good indicator?   Flames bursting from the hatches. 

 

Id hate to be the commander that decided that beat up m4 was destroyed then rolling past it only to see its turret whip around and put a 76mm into my engine.

 

 

The famous video of the Pershing killing the Panther in Cologne is a perfect example of this. They hit the Panther multiple times, even after the crew is starting to bail from the smoking vehicle.

MagicMikeV #198 Posted Aug 27 2015 - 02:42

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View PostSeanutBrittled, on Aug 25 2014 - 16:42, said:

I don't get why people neg me, with my fantastic sense of humor and imagination.

 

I thought it was funny. I don't understand all the negs lately.

IosacBroc #199 Posted Aug 27 2015 - 22:10

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View Postzloykrolik, on Aug 27 2015 - 02:16, said:

Now that's how you conduct an online discussion. No personal attacks & references sited. Good job dude. +1

 

 

 

 

Stalkervision et al should take note.

 

Thanks mate (although I've got no good idea who or what 'Stalkervision' is!).

 

But really, what do you call a cigarette? I can think of at least a dozen Brit terms, but I can't recall ever hearing an American one?



zloykrolik #200 Posted Aug 27 2015 - 23:37

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You're welcome.

 

For Stalkervision: go to the Unmanned Patton thread. http://forum.worldof...nmanned-patton/

 

Cigarettes are called cigarettes, or maybe: cigs, cancer stick, coffin nail, or a smoke.


Edited by zloykrolik, Aug 27 2015 - 23:48.





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