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So how good was the PzKpfw IV really?


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Poll: So, Pz IV ... (193 members have cast votes)

How 'good' was it?

  1. Extremely good, best tank of the war! (1 vote [0.52%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.52%

  2. Very good, one of the most effective tanks of the war. (71 votes [36.79%])

    Percentage of vote: 36.79%

  3. Decent. It could hold its own. (107 votes [55.44%])

    Percentage of vote: 55.44%

  4. Meh, it really wasn't any good at all. (8 votes [4.15%])

    Percentage of vote: 4.15%

  5. It was terrible, worst tank of the war! (6 votes [3.11%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.11%

How did it compare to Shermans, after the latter were introduced?

  1. It was ahead of the Shermans most of the time (45 votes [23.32%])

    Percentage of vote: 23.32%

  2. It was on par with the Shermans most of the time (103 votes [53.37%])

    Percentage of vote: 53.37%

  3. It lagged behind the Shermans most of the time (45 votes [23.32%])

    Percentage of vote: 23.32%

And how reliable was it?

  1. Extremely reliable. Mechanical breakdowns were rare. (6 votes [3.11%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.11%

  2. It was quite reliable. Mechanical breakdowns happened every now and then. (138 votes [71.50%])

    Percentage of vote: 71.50%

  3. Its reliability was mediocre, one of the less reliable tanks of the war (41 votes [21.24%])

    Percentage of vote: 21.24%

  4. Its reliability was terrible and broke down all the friggin time (8 votes [4.15%])

    Percentage of vote: 4.15%

75mm KwK 40 L/48 vs 76mm Sherman gun?

  1. 75mm KwK 40 L/48 had the advantage (65 votes [33.68%])

    Percentage of vote: 33.68%

  2. They're about equal (85 votes [44.04%])

    Percentage of vote: 44.04%

  3. American 76mm had the advantage (43 votes [22.28%])

    Percentage of vote: 22.28%

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Lert #1 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 18:42

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Called by many 'the backbone of the panzer forces' and 'the tank that carried the blitzkrieg', the Panzer Kampfwagen IV in its many variants was the only tank that was produced throughout the entirety of the war as a tank. Other chassis (Pz III springs to mind) saw equally long production life as assault guns, of which the Pz IV also had variants, but those weren't produced throughout the entire was as tanks. T-34 would also be a competitor, but it missed the early months of the war. Series production started AFAIK in 1940, while the war officially started in 1939.

 

Everyone knows that the Pz IV started out as the infantry support tank (with the stubby 75mm howitzer) vs the tank-killing Pz III, but the evolution of technology saw the need to fit a longer L/43 75mm guns, which the Pz III chassis couldn't take without removing the entire turret and turning it into an assault gun. Enter the longer barreled Pz IV's.

 

But, how 'good' were they really? Is the title 'backbone of the panzer forces' deserved? How did it compare against contemporary shermans after the latter was introduced? How reliable were they? How did the even longer L/48 75mm on the late war Pz IV's compare the 'best' gun on the Sherman, the 76mm gun M1?



bossmanmj #2 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 18:46

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Wasn't the only reason the Pz4 only called the backbone due to the numbers produced? and produced because it was such an adaptable platform?

Lert #3 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 18:49

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That is one school of thought, yes. Right now I'm more interested in how effective a platform it was vs 'eh, we have so many of them, lets keep throwing them at the enemy'.

Lethalhavoc #4 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 18:57

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If they had spent more resources making more pz4's instead of dumping resources into other less successful tanks, the war would have lasted longer.

 

So i guess it's a good thing they didn't.



Legiondude #5 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 19:01

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I can't answer the 3rd question properly, it's mechanical failures followed as the war progressed because the extra weight made it nose heavy

ZombieFlanders #6 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 19:05

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i read somewhere that the PzIV held up well against M4s with the short 75 since there was a huge range advantage for the german gun, but the 76 put them roughly on par. so the PzIV was still useful in the west. the allied tanks to be encountered were comparatively weaker to those in the east...more advanced western tanks didnt show up till really late (comet, pershing) and hardly made an impact.

 

in the east though, by 44-45 the germans wanted to move beyond the PzIV since it was bellow pretty much every russian tank...34-85s, IS heavies etc, but they didnt have the resources or time to switch to a better alternative so just tried to make do...hence crazy proposals like the vader-turm idea.

 

overall id say it was a very successful and adaptable design that allowed for a lot of improvement and modification over time, but by the end of the war was showing its age (design from 38 or so?). it is a good example of a workhorse since it was still useful at the end, if a bit more limited.



Conejo82 #7 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 19:13

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Robust and reliable, it saw service in all combat theaters involving Germany and has the distinction of being the only German tank to remain in continuous production throughout the war, with over 8800 produced between 1936 and 1945. Upgrades and design modifications, often made in response to the appearance of new allied tanks, extended its service life. Generally, these involved increasing the Panzer IV's armor protection or upgrading its weapons, although during the last months of the war, with Germany's pressing need for rapid replacement of losses, design changes also included retrograde measures to simplify and speed up the manufacturing process.

The Panzer IV was the most widely exported tank in German service, with around 300 sold to partners such as Finland, Romania, Spain and Bulgaria. After the war, Syria procured Panzer IVs from France and Czechoslovakia, which were to see combat in the 1967 six-day war.

The Allies had also been developing lethality improvement programs of their own; the widely used American-designed M4 Sherman medium tank, while mechanically reliable, suffered from thin armor and an inadequate gun. Against earlier-model Panzer IVs, it could hold its own, but with its 75mm M3 gun, struggled against the late-model Panzer IV (and was unable to penetrate the frontal armor of Panther and Tiger tanks at virtually any range). The late-model Panzer IV's 80 mm (3.15 in) frontal hull armor could easily withstand hits from the 75 mm (2.95 in) weapon on the Sherman at normal combat ranges, though the turret remained vulnerable.(sitted http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panzer_IV)

people keep neging this lol um yeah love it



collimatrix #8 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 19:22

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Does anyone have readiness rates for late war German AFVs?  I recall seeing some that showed that the Pz IV was the least bad.  Way better than the big cats, but still far behind a T-34 or sherman.

An_old_slow_guy #9 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 19:35

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I believe it was Guderian who stated he would had have handily defeated Russia if they had more PzIV's with the 75MM L48 instead of the delays and much smaller numbers of Ferdinands, Panthers and Tigers.   The Panzer IV was easily on par with the Sherman easy 8's armed with the 76 MM and that model of Sherman was not ever available in large numbers till the war's end - most Shermans had the short 75.  

 

The PzIV was a highly maneuverable tank, and what it lacked in armor and gun was easily made up for with more experienced and skilled tank crews.  Not to mention it's ease of maintenance and supply chain.  

 

Thank Hitler for his harebrained dream of a super tank or we probably would've lost the war.  

 

I remember playing SSL Steel Panthers Berlin  scenario, where with using good tactics and skill, you could hold off and defeat a vastly superior Soviet force composed of Su-152s, IS's, T-34/85's with just a handle of PzIV's.  Remarkable.



Lert #10 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 19:38

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View PostLancer_VMFA212, on Oct 03 2014 - 19:35, said:

Not to mention it's ease of maintenance and supply chain. 

Hm. It was still more elaborate and difficult to produce than, say, a Sherman or T-34 though. It was still overengineered.



Cutthroatlemur #11 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 19:42

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View PostLancer_VMFA212, on Oct 03 2014 - 11:35, said:

 

 

Thank Hitler for his harebrained dream of a super tank or we probably would've lost the war.  

 

 

Ummm, no.  There is no way we would have lost the war in Europe.  We (with the Russian allies) had HUGE numerical and production advantages...plus the US had the A-bomb.   Game over.

 

the rest of your post was excellent.  



collimatrix #12 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 19:51

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Here's an incomplete list of the information we need to make an informed assessment of the Pz. IV:

-Readiness rates, ideally throughout the war.

-Description or pictures of the crew stations, particularly the gunner's position (this was a weakness in the big cats).  

-Ground pressure figures, both with and without Ostketten.  I suspect that the Pz. IV is inferior to the sherman here, and drastically inferior to the big cats, sherman E8 and T-34.

-Suspension travel figures; again, I suspect that the Pz. IV does not compare favorably here.

-Any sort of reports from the field or of captured vehicles.

 

I suspect that the readiness rates were the best of the late war German vehicles, with the possible exception of Pz. 38 and Pz. III based designs.  However, from what little I've seen, they fell short of sherman or T-34 standards (80-90%).  The crew stations I suspect were similar to the big cats; great visibility for the commander, bad accommodations for the gunner, and OK for everyone else.  Ground pressure is always stated to be vastly inferior to the T-34, but I'm not sure on the exact figures.  Suspension looks primitive, overcomplex and horrible, but I don't have good references on the matter.

 

It's definitely a credible tank for the late '30s and well into the early '40s, but I don't think it's on par with a sherman or T-34.



Priory_of_Sion #13 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 19:58

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Suspension really held it back. The M4 and T-34 had a lot of room for improvement with little trouble, the IV was pushed to the absolute limit with the ausf. H and it was still outclassed by M4(76) in armor, armament(76 was better ballistically, but it is too close to make a difference), and mobility. It was an early 1930s design comparable to the T-28 but wasn't retired by the time it needed to be. It did have a good combat performance, but it was lacking by 1941. Not a bad tank, but still left a lot to be desired. 65-70/100. if I graded tank design. A- in performance. 

 

Edit: The grade for the design is not bad even if it might be considered failing. Think about a woman who is a "7/10", that is the IV.  I don't know about you, but that is acceptable for me.



Conejo82 #14 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 20:33

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View PostCutthroatlemur, on Oct 03 2014 - 11:42, said:

Ummm, no.  There is no way we would have lost the war in Europe.  We (with the Russian allies) had HUGE numerical and production advantages...plus the US had the A-bomb.   Game over.

 

the rest of your post was excellent.  

 

theres no way?  lol one country held off all the allies 

HereticVoid #15 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 20:37

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View PostConejo82, on Oct 03 2014 - 21:33, said:

 

theres no way?  lol one country held off all the allies 

 

technically it was only near the very end for a short while before they got sgomoed  In the bragging and mid war Germany did have allies to support it.

Priory_of_Sion #16 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 20:40

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View PostConejo82, on Oct 03 2014 - 15:33, said:

 

theres no way?  lol one country held off all the allies 

There's no way that the decision on German armor that you brought up would have really altered the course of the war. It would take a lot more luck on the side of the Axis, better decisions on the Axis leaders and commanders, more Allied blunders, etc. for the war to end up differently. 



Conejo82 #17 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 20:41

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View PostHereticVoid, on Oct 03 2014 - 12:37, said:

 

technically it was only near the very end for a short while before they got sgomoed  In the bragging and mid war Germany did have allies to support it.

 

just like Britain. and germany lost its allies why? .... yes thats why, wrong choices but you missed my point on his 'technically' 

Conejo82 #18 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 20:43

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View PostPriory_of_Sion, on Oct 03 2014 - 12:40, said:

There's no way that the decision on German armor that you brought up would have really altered the course of the war. It would take a lot more luck on the side of the Axis, better decisions on the Axis leaders and commanders, more Allied blunders, etc. for the war to end up differently. 

 

 

when did i say the pz4 would have won the war? and i didnt bring it up its not my post

KyYoKoPounder #19 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 21:02

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the Pz IV with the "long" ( L / 43 L / 48 ) gun was definetely superior to all Shermans with the 75 mm gun, gunwise.

Armour?

The Pz IV had up to 80 mm up front, but vertically. Face hardened.

As opposed to the ( often faulty ( cast ) ??? ) sloped armour of the M 4.

the m4 was called "Tommy Cooker" or "Ronson". There has to be a reason for that (how easy it set on fire). The Pz IV was called ( only name I know ) "Rotbart, der Dünnhäutige" ( Redbeard, the thin skinned" ).

But an E 8, with late armour and the 76 mm was as a general gun tank equal or slightly better ( especially automotive ), but not definitely superior to the Pz IV.

The Firefly was gunwise the equivalent of the Panther, but not armor wise ...

If I would be in a covered place, with "Schuerzen" around me, I think the Pz IV is great. If I would have to drive 300 Kilometers, I think the Sherman would do it more easily.

I think the Diesel engined Shermans and M 36´s were tops, automotively.

Just my 2 cents



Priory_of_Sion #20 Posted Oct 03 2014 - 21:07

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View PostConejo82, on Oct 03 2014 - 15:43, said:

 

when did i say the pz4 would have won the war? and i didnt bring it up its not my post

 

"Thank Hitler for his hairbrained dream of a super tank or we probably would've lost the war"

 

It isn't that simple you twit.

 

Pz IV had burn rates of 81% iirc. American M4 units were ~50% with dry storage, 15% with wet. Canadian and British M4s were comparable to PzIV burn rates.






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