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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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WulfeHound #41 Posted Oct 04 2014 - 23:39

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View PostKyYoKoPounder, on Oct 03 2014 - 16:02, said:

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.

[Citation needed]

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" ).

[Citation needed]

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

Nice job bringing up the "Ronson" myth, yet again



1Sherman #42 Posted Oct 04 2014 - 23:45

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View Postwulfhound, on Oct 04 2014 - 23:39, said:

Nice job bringing up the "Ronson" myth, yet again

 

The Wehraboo is strong with that one.

Jeeps_Guns_Tanks #43 Posted Oct 04 2014 - 23:58

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The whole thread is an exercise in wehrabooery.  If you want to find the truth out about something, you don't do a poll, particularly on a forum with a known bias towards ignorance, at least in the fanatical German fan base. 



acosnil #44 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 00:54

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View PostKyYoKoPounder, on Oct 03 2014 - 21:02, said

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

 

Long Barrel Panzer 4's were decent but their performance was roughly equal to the US 75mm gun.

 

 

The Panzer 4's armor had a worse slope than the M4 Sherman, which is a nice way of saying that it's armor was effectively worse.

 

 

Cast steel isn't worse than rolled. Bad casting techniques and quality makes worse cast steel though. There's a reason why the British avoided cast parts, where as the US was basically rolling in them. If you can drive out manufacturing defects from a casting process it is actually less expensive in terms of man hours than if you have someone welding everything together.

 

 

There is actually nothing other than third hand sources that can corroborate the claim that M4 Shermans were called "Ronsons" and "Tommy Cookers" and often such sources fallaciously link it to an ad slogan that wouldn't appear till after the war, or one that didn't exist at all. And the tanks weren't getting set on fire, the issue was related to how munitions were stored in the M4 Sherman. At its onset the M4 Sherman wasn't really dealing with vehicles that could reliably penetrate its armor at most ranges and therefor no one had really thought about where the ammo would be best stored, so they literally stuffed it everywhere. The issue was that when you started dealing with European theater vehicles (as opposed to secondary front vehicles like Panzer 3's and left over short barrel Panzer 4's) basically any round penetrating the M4 Sherman had a very good chance of colliding with munitions inside the tank. This had a fairly good chance of making said munitions detonate inside the tank. If it was really bad a catastrophic result would occur which would basically rip the turret off the tank. "Setting on fire" is a bit inaccurate, the tanks were exploding. This, of course, was also rapidly fixed. Munitions were stored in flat storage on the floor of the tank along with a few dedicated racks in the turret. In '44 as wet jacket ammo storage was introduced M4 Shermans actually had the lowest occurrence of such explosions of any tank in the war.

 

 

The 76mm gun on late model M4 Shermans was superior to the Panzer 4's long barrel 75mm guns. I'd have to look but speaking broadly it was actually the best performing AT weapon on any medium tank of the war, or if it wasn't, it is only because the long barrel 75mm guns on Panthers were taking penetration values to the point of absurdity, and stopped paying attention to what a tank needs to do to another tank to actually destroy it rather than merely disable it. Well, that and 17 pounders on British Fireflies, but the Allies enjoyed the benefits of an offensive war. Disabling a panther was completely different than disabling an M4 Sherman.

 

 

Armored skirts were largely only effective against infantry AT ordinance. It caused problems for bazookas and PTRS's, in essence. I pray I don't need to explain why the fact that Panzer 4's and Panthers were highly vulnerable to dated AT platforms was a problem.

 

 

Incorporating diesel engines to US shermans in the European theater may have improved performance, but done so at the cost of complicating supply chains. Gasoline was plentiful, diesel not so much.

 

 

 



Sad_But_Drew #45 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 01:34

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Good things about the IV.

 

1.  Capable of carrying a useful gun all the way to war end (though just barely, the 75 had issues with the bigger allied stuff, and the Mark IV wasn't built for flanking).

2.  Solid layout, with a cupola from the start.

3.  Not very mechanically stressed, readiness numbers better than the "cats".

4.  Able to be built in numbers.

 

Problems.

 

1.  The 75 wasn't THAT great.

2.  The great German gunner's sight issue (no "finder sight") and the commander is dead behind the gun (wastes space).  And all those hatches, the thing is coated with weakspots.

3.  Still pretty complicated to service, not in the league of the T-34 or Sherman (or really the 38t).

4.  10,000 tanks isn't that much for nearly a decade in production (more Shermans and T34s were built in '44).  Not simple enough, for what it is.

5.  Armored like a beer can.  Not much thickness and no slope worth mentioning.  Vulnerable to everything 57mm and up frontally, including LATW.  Sides even worse.  Given the likely odds, this isn't great.  Plus, that armor is brittle (and getting more so as shortages bite).  The crew are probably glad for all those hatches.

 

Overall.  A "throwback", brought nearly up to date, but still showing its age.



Blackhorse_Six_ #46 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 01:39

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View PostJeeps_Guns_Tanks, on Oct 04 2014 - 18:58, said:

The whole thread is an exercise in wehrabooery.  If you want to find the truth out about something, you don't do a poll, particularly on a forum with a known bias towards ignorance, at least in the fanatical German fan base. 

 

I don't disagree with that, but I think Lert was hoping for a more objective discussion.



Meplat #47 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 05:34

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View Postacosnil, on Oct 04 2014 - 16:54, said:

 

Long Barrel Panzer 4's were decent but their performance was roughly equal to the US 75mm gun.

Very much in the same ballpark, barring the rare APCR. The M3 was actually a much better all around gun.

 

 

The Panzer 4's armor had a worse slope than the M4 Sherman, which is a nice way of saying that it's armor was effectively worse.

Except for late models with considerable additional plate (and border overloaded suspension) it was in fact not as good as the M4's.

The Schurzen may have looked cool, but did little but overload an already overworked design.

 

 

Cast steel isn't worse than rolled. Bad casting techniques and quality makes worse cast steel though. There's a reason why the British avoided cast parts, where as the US was basically rolling in them. If you can drive out manufacturing defects from a casting process it is actually less expensive in terms of man hours than if you have someone welding everything together.

Agreed. If you can, and have a long history of turning out complex and large castings reliably , no reason not to use them.

 

 

There is actually nothing other than third hand sources that can corroborate the claim that M4 Shermans were called "Ronsons" and "Tommy Cookers" and often such sources fallaciously link it to an ad slogan that wouldn't appear till after the war, or one that didn't exist at all. And the tanks weren't getting set on fire, the issue was related to how munitions were stored in the M4 Sherman. At its onset the M4 Sherman wasn't really dealing with vehicles that could reliably penetrate its armor at most ranges and therefor no one had really thought about where the ammo would be best stored, so they literally stuffed it everywhere. The issue was that when you started dealing with European theater vehicles (as opposed to secondary front vehicles like Panzer 3's and left over short barrel Panzer 4's) basically any round penetrating the M4 Sherman had a very good chance of colliding with munitions inside the tank. This had a fairly good chance of making said munitions detonate inside the tank. If it was really bad a catastrophic result would occur which would basically rip the turret off the tank. "Setting on fire" is a bit inaccurate, the tanks were exploding. This, of course, was also rapidly fixed. Munitions were stored in flat storage on the floor of the tank along with a few dedicated racks in the turret. In '44 as wet jacket ammo storage was introduced M4 Shermans actually had the lowest occurrence of such explosions of any tank in the war.

Most of the fires attributed to M4's was a result of incorrect/excessive munition storage, rather than a design failing. The wet stowage as you mentioned made a normally safe vehicle even safer.

 

 

The 76mm gun on late model M4 Shermans was superior to the Panzer 4's long barrel 75mm guns. I'd have to look but speaking broadly it was actually the best performing AT weapon on any medium tank of the war, or if it wasn't, it is only because the long barrel 75mm guns on Panthers were taking penetration values to the point of absurdity, and stopped paying attention to what a tank needs to do to another tank to actually destroy it rather than merely disable it. Well, that and 17 pounders on British Fireflies, but the Allies enjoyed the benefits of an offensive war. Disabling a panther was completely different than disabling an M4 Sherman.

The Pak40 was in the same ballpark as the M3 overall, and thoroughly outclassed by the M1, with the M1 able to penetrate armor at 500yards with the common M62, that the Pak40 would have to close to 100 yards to penetrate with the Pzgr39.

 

 

Armored skirts were largely only effective against infantry AT ordinance. It caused problems for bazookas and PTRS's, in essence. I pray I don't need to explain why the fact that Panzer 4's and Panthers were highly vulnerable to dated AT platforms was a problem.

And they were very much a kludge solution, that did little to improve the usefulness of an already near overloaded vehicle.

 

 

Incorporating diesel engines to US shermans in the European theater may have improved performance, but done so at the cost of complicating supply chains. Gasoline was plentiful, diesel not so much.

People forget/neglect that most military vehicles and motorized equipment of the era were gasoline powered.

 

 

 

 



acosnil #48 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 05:45

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View PostMeplat, on Oct 05 2014 - 05:34, said:

 

 

I've seen at least 2 websites claim the German tanks were less prone to fires because of diesel engines.

 

 

Apparently the entire German army was comprised of Karl's then.



Meplat #49 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 05:57

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View Postacosnil, on Oct 04 2014 - 21:45, said:

 

I've seen at least 2 websites claim the German tanks were less prone to fires because of diesel engines.

 

 

Apparently the entire German army was comprised of Karl's then.

 

Had some clowns at a recent show arguing that all german tanks had Diesels.

 



acosnil #50 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 06:36

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View PostMeplat, on Oct 05 2014 - 05:57, said:

 

Had some clowns at a recent show arguing that all german tanks had Diesels.

 

 

To be fair this is an easy mistake to make because of how many German tanks featured diesel engines.

KaiserWilhelmShatner #51 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 06:49

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Gives you an idea of the power behind the KwK 40.  This is a Pak 40 but they were basically the same gun with the same ammo.  



Meplat #52 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 06:54

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View Postacosnil, on Oct 04 2014 - 22:36, said:

 

To be fair this is an easy mistake to make because of how many German tanks featured diesel engines.

"featured".. As in did not mount at all, but someone saw "Patton" one too many times, while furiously wanking to "Death Traps"?

View PostKaiserWilhelmShatner, on Oct 04 2014 - 22:49, said:

 

Gives you an idea of the power behind the KwK 40.  This is a Pak 40 but they were basically the same gun with the same ammo.  

Oh, Hamilton's gun.  Need to ask him if he's made any more shell casings, and see if he's got a lead on another TPH.

 

They could make an entire show just on the restoration of that piece.



acosnil #53 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 07:42

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View PostMeplat, on Oct 05 2014 - 06:54, said:

"featured".. As in did not mount at all, but someone saw "Patton" one too many times, while furiously wanking to "Death Traps"?

 

(That's the joke.)

Meplat #54 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 07:56

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View Postacosnil, on Oct 04 2014 - 23:42, said:

 

(That's the joke.)

 

Figured, but just making sure...

Lert #55 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 11:38

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View PostKaiserWilhelmShatner, on Oct 05 2014 - 06:49, said:

 

Gives you an idea of the power behind the KwK 40.  This is a Pak 40 but they were basically the same gun with the same ammo.  

 

PaK40 had nearly twice the powder load in a much longer cartridge than the derived KwK40.

 

View PostJeeps_Guns_Tanks, on Oct 04 2014 - 23:58, said:

The whole thread is an exercise in wehrabooery.  If you want to find the truth out about something, you don't do a poll, particularly on a forum with a known bias towards ignorance, at least in the fanatical German fan base. 

 

View PostBlackhorse_Six, on Oct 05 2014 - 01:39, said:

 

Aye ...

 

(+1)

 

Please, feel free to provide actual insights as opposed to simply going "This thread sucks!", or atleast explain how me asking about the actual performance of a german machine is 'an excersize in wehrabooery'.



Blackhorse_Six_ #56 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 15:38

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View PostLert, on Oct 05 2014 - 06:38, said:

Please, feel free to provide actual insights as opposed to simply going "This thread sucks!", or atleast explain how me asking about the actual performance of a german machine is 'an excersize in wehrabooery'.

 

Sorry, Lert - my acknowledgement of that comment wasn't directed at you ...

 

It was an acknowledgement that the thread was devolving into an argument about facts based on myth and hear-say, ie, Ronsons, wehraboos, et al ...

 

(The Ronson thing was fairly extinguished with the addition of wet jacket stowage, so I don't even know why it's being argued about, again, in a thread about the Pzkw IV.)

 

I had forgotten that you were the OP.

 

Apologies.



Anlushac11 #57 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 15:40

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When Sherman first entered service with its Continental radial engine wasn't it about 28 tons with a 400hp engine? At that time PZiv F was in service so about 24 tons? and 300hp engine? Both had fairly narrow tracks and as listed above ground pressure seemed to be comparable.

 

I never realized before that PzIV F2 with 75mm L/43 had a gun only slightly longer than M4 with 75mm L/40 M3 while having a significantly higher muzzle velocity.

 

I have read before that the US 75mm M3 had a lower muzzle velocity because chamber pressure was limited due to the gun barrels being required to fire I think it was 3,000 rounds service life. Im not sure what requirement was for German gun. Later in war it was realized most Shermans never got close to firing that many rounds before being knocked out or being brought in for a complete overhaul. The requirement was reduced or dropped and "hotter" high velocity rounds were used to boost performance.

 

 

One thing I like about the PzIV is the wheels were mounted in pairs on leaf springs which the whole unit bolted to the body similar to a Sherman. Must have made replacing a wheel unit much easier than almost any other German tank using torsion bars.

 

Did Germans ever try to develop a better suspension unit for PzIV using coil springs? Closest thing that comes to mind is the Bellville washer thingy intended for the E50's.

 

In hindsight Germans should have copied the M3/M4 VVSS bogie suspension unit. While not a complete fix, would have probably allowed for the addition of more armor, at least to turret face which was weak all through war.

 

The main problem I see with the PzIV was how many angles and surfaces needed to be cut to produce the plates. All those plates then had to be welded together. All that took material Germany didn't have, skill Germany didn't have, and time Germany didn't have. IMHO that may have been one reason Panther was as cheap as it was to produce, larger plates but fewer of them requiring fewer welds to join it all together.

 

Panther problems aside it would not have mattered if Germany had stopped Panther production to build more PzIV's. Germany by 1944 was struggling to fill seats in the tanks they did have, adding more tanks would have just exacerbated the problem. 

 

 Jentz's book "Germany's Panther Tank: The Quest for Combat Supremacy" has a table showing operational rates for PzIV, Panther, and Tiger, from about March 1944 til April 1945 when last records were available.

 

In March 1944 Eastern front Operational readiness rates for PzIV, Panther, and Tiger were: 84%, 79%, and 75% respectively

In March 1944 Western  front Operational readiness rates for PzIV, Panther, and Tiger were: 88%, 82%, and 87% respectively

 

By March 1945 Eastern front operation readiness rates for PzIV, Panther, and Tiger were: 54%, 49%, 53% respectively

By March 1945 Western front operation readiness rates for PzIV, Panther, and Tiger were: 44%, 32%, 36% respectively

 

While the Allied bombing campaign failed to destroy Germany's ability to wage war, it certainly did have a impact on Germany's logistics train and ability to build replacement parts. IIRC Allied bombing destroyed factory building StuG III which helped move production to StuG IV.

 

So in essence while the PzIV was comparable to the Sherman and T34 in many ways it was reaching end of its design life while Sherman and T34 being newer designs had more room for growth.

 

As for the Ronson Myth I thought final verdict was "Plausible" due to the advertisement someone posted.

 

 


Edited by Anlushac11, Oct 05 2014 - 15:41.


NutrientibusMeaGallus #58 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 16:00

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What did the crews of the vehicles say about them? What common threads were there across different crews of those vehicles? I'd go by their accounts over someone on the outside looking in, or picking up second third or fourth hand information...

Blackhorse_Six_ #59 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 16:10

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View PostAnlushac11, on Oct 05 2014 - 10:40, said:

I have read before that the US 75mm M3 had a lower muzzle velocity because chamber pressure was limited due to the gun barrels being required to fire I think it was 3,000 rounds service life. Im not sure what requirement was for German gun. Later in war it was realized most Shermans never got close to firing that many rounds before being knocked out or being brought in for a complete overhaul. The requirement was reduced or dropped and "hotter" high velocity rounds were used to boost performance.

 

Let's clarify this point ...

 

Case Volume ... The chambers of those German guns were machined to accept a necked casing, almost half-again the nominal bore diameter, and nearly so more propellant.

 

The casing for the US 75mm M3 was substantially shorter and about the same diameter as the nominal bore diameter - in scale, it would have resembled a .22 caliber rimfire round.

 

Hotter rounds for that gun could only be achieved by fooling around with the warhead or the propellent. Otherwise, the M3 had a limited future in tank vs tank engagements.

 

The Germans came out of their corner already equipped with hot rounds, right in the chamber design.

 

(+1)



Xlucine #60 Posted Oct 05 2014 - 16:57

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Someone dig up rossmum's interview with the pz 4 driver




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