German Wündertanks vs Shermans

on the subject of recce, any recommendations for reading regarding the reconnaissance corps?

ever since reading something on David Niven's wiki i've been a bit curious about their role and composition.
 
Thing is, Germany lost the war on 3/9/39. The only question from then on was how many dead. .
Pretty sure the Poles would disagree.
 
which sorta begs a question or two from the Russian Perspective, if you don't mind
(1) Why all those convoys to Russia when it was obviously out producing us
They had a bigger army to equip and a more backward economy.

and with equipment that was better than ours?( according to them)
It would probably be better to describe their own equipment as being carefully tailored to their specific operating environment. We have no idea for example how a T-34 of that era (ignoring post-war models or upgrades) would have performed in desert or jungle, and the Soviets of that time wouldn't really have cared either since that isn't where they were.

When asking "what is a good tank?", you have to take into account what role it is expected to fulfil and what conditions it is expected to operate in. Being good in sandy desert and rocky hills is all very well but neither are high priorities when your main concerns are deep snow and boggy ground.

(2) wouldn't it just have been easier to to extend credit arrangements to the USSR?
They needed equipment in their hands immediately far more than the ability to make it themselves at some point in the future. And Lend-Lease (and the Canadian equivalent called Mutual Aid) was a sort of credit arrangement.

(3) in the spirit of allied accord couldn't we just have produced T34 etc under licence?
Tank Archives: Bovington: T-34 and KV-1 impressions
"Please advise representatives of the purchasing commission in England what to do regarding building T-34 and KV tanks. If the English really want to mass produce these tanks, I would like to know what changes they make to their construction and keep track of their efforts."
And:
Additionally, in our conversations, we have learned that:
a) the T-34 and KV vehicles will be produced for the British army. The former will be equipped with a 17-pounder, the latter with a 6 inch howitzer.
b) the tanks will be built with an improved gearbox and differential clutches.
c) the KV air pumps will be improved. [Note: the KV the British got had a defective air pump]
d) the tanks will be equipped with centrifugal air filters that will draw air from the transmission compartment. This is explained as follows: if you take air from behind the tank, it will contain dust kicked up by the tank. If you draw air from the transmission, the air purity reached is 100% ideal.
e) the welding will be performed with electrodes made from high hardness steel, which will result in welding seams being as robust as the armour plates.
And also:
Re-armament requires some modifications, and will take time, but, taking into account the manufacturing power of England and her dominions, we could very well see a T-34 with a 17-pounder gun and a KV with a 6 inch howitzer in our time.
Note in particular the statement "taking into account the manufacturing power of England and her dominions". The Soviets obviously considered Britain and the dominions (I suspect they were mainly referring to Canada in this instance) to have a very large and capable manufacturing industry.

This obviously went nowhere. I suspect the Soviet representatives were talking to fairly low level people who hadn't taken into account the practical problems that this would have run into.

To explain this point, consider the production history of the Valentine tank. Large numbers of this tank were produced in Canada (many of which ended up in the Soviet Union). However, this was a problem because a tank is far more than just some armour, a gun, and an engine. There are many off the shelf components which go into them, everything from nuts and bolts to wires and spark plugs. Many of the components for the Canadian made Valentines had to be brought from Britain as that was the only place they were available. This was a logistical problem under war time conditions.

This led to the plan for designing a new tank specifically to be suited for production in Canada, and Britain sent over a tank designer for this purpose. The new tank was to make maximum use of parts and components readily available already in Canada (which already had a large motor vehicle manufacturing industry) or could be imported from the US.

The result was the Ram tank. This resembled the Sherman, but was not a copy, but rather a parallel development based off of the Lee/Grant tank (as the Sherman also was). A US-Britain agreement to provide Sherman tanks to Britain (and the Commonwealth) however resulted in the Ram project being cancelled and the production capacity put to other use.

Producing T-34s or KVs in Britain would have required so much modification to the design to make it suitable for manufacturing in Britain - and remember we are talking about a complete manufacturing supply chain with multiple levels of suppliers - that there wouldn't have been much point to it. Britain had capable designers who could design a new tank from a clean sheet of paper probably faster than they could revise and adapt an existing design which had no commonality with British industry. All they needed was authority to actually do so, keeping in mind that an all new clean sheet tank would probably require some loss of production and availability of existing tanks while it was being phased in, the troops retrained, and the logistics pipeline refilled.

What would make more sense was to evaluate the T-34 and KV and take any interesting ideas from them and incorporate them into new British tanks. And that I suspect is what actually happened in the end.
 
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When asking "what is a good tank?", you have to take into account what role it is expected to fulfil in and what conditions it is expected to operate in. Being good in sandy desert and rocky hills is all very well but neither are high priorities when your main concerns are deep snow and boggy ground.
A vey pertinent point as the Russian BT's and T-34's, designed to be able to operate in temperatures of -40C drove through the snow outside Moscow in winter 1941 past hordes of frozen and immobile Pzkw III's and IV's and frozen to death Heer..

 
D

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What he said. The 'fact' that the german army was a motorised spear of tanks & other AFV's is a myth & it never attained any such capability. The 39-40 era BEF was more vehicle mobile than the boxheads ever were.



XXX corps was the lead ground element but both corps on their flanks were also pushing forward in tandem, however for various reasons never made similar gains. Check the after action maps for the slight bulge that was created at the base of the Nijmegen salient.
That was my point, the maps and records do suggest that not enough support and effort, was put in by the higher ups, to ensure the narrow road was suitably flank protected, leaving the troops on the polder road, having to fight off counter attacks. The germans actually cut the road thanks to a panzer brigade taking the road under direct fire..
 
But on the other-hand if Harry Hun had thought he was going to get captured by the nice western Allies, who, chances are, weren't going to shot him out of hand, bundle him off to their equivalent of Siberia or rape every woman age 8-80 they might not have put up such a struggle.....
Well, yes. But...

A final assault on the Nazi capitol by US and British forces would have been horrendously costly, I think we can all agree, and thanks to the 1944 agreement on how Germany would be divided up by the allies, would not have achieved any greater territorial gains on our part (in July 45 the US gave back pre-agreed Soviet occupation territory which they'd advanced into by VE Day, and the Soviets adhered to the agreed Berlin zones).
 
They had a bigger army to equip and a more backward economy.


It would probably be better to describe their own equipment as being carefully tailored to their specific operating environment. We have no idea for example how a T-34 of that era (ignoring post-war models or upgrades) would have performed in desert or jungle, and the Soviets of that time wouldn't really have cared either since that isn't where they were.

When asking "what is a good tank?", you have to take into account what role it is expected to fulfil and what conditions it is expected to operate in. Being good in sandy desert and rocky hills is all very well but neither are high priorities when your main concerns are deep snow and boggy ground.


They needed equipment in their hands immediately far more than the ability to make it themselves at some point in the future. And Lend-Lease (and the Canadian equivalent called Mutual Aid) was a sort of credit arrangement.


Tank Archives: Bovington: T-34 and KV-1 impressions


And:


And also:


Note in particular the statement "taking into account the manufacturing power of England and her dominions". The Soviets obviously considered Britain and the dominions (I suspect they were mainly referring to Canada in this instance) to have a very large and capable manufacturing industry.

This obviously went nowhere. I suspect the Soviet representatives were talking to fairly low level people who hadn't taken into account the practical problems that this would have run into.

To explain this point, consider the production history of the Valentine tank. Large numbers of this tank were produced in Canada (many of which ended up in the Soviet Union). However, this was a problem because a tank is far more than just some armour, a gun, and an engine. There are many off the shelf components which go into them, everything from nuts and bolts to wires and spark plugs. Many of the components for the Canadian made Valentines had to be brought from Britain as that was the only place they were available. This was a logistical problem under war time conditions.

This led to the plan for designing a new tank specifically to be suited for production in Canada, and Britain sent over a tank designer for this purpose. The new tank was to make maximum use of parts and components readily available already in Canada (which already had a large motor vehicle manufacturing industry) or could be imported from the US.

The result was the Ram tank. This resembled the Sherman, but was not a copy, but rather a parallel development based off of the Lee/Grant tank (as the Sherman also was). A US-Britain agreement to provide Sherman tanks to Britain (and the Commonwealth) however resulted in the Ram project being cancelled and the production capacity put to other use.

Producing T-34s or KVs in Britain would have required so much modification to the design to make it suitable for manufacturing in Britain - and remember we are talking about a complete manufacturing supply chain with multiple levels of suppliers - that there wouldn't have been much point to it. Britain had capable designers who could design a new tank from a clean sheet of paper probably faster than they could revise and adapt an existing design which had no commonality with British industry. All they needed was authority to actually do so, keeping in mind that an all new clean sheet tank would probably require some loss of production and availability of existing tanks while it was being phased in, the troops retrained, and the logistics pipeline refilled.

What would make more sense was to evaluate the T-34 and KV and take any interesting ideas from them and incorporate them into new British tanks. And that I suspect is what actually happened in the end.
Excellent stuff; thanks for the links!
 

AfghanAndy

On ROPS
On ROPs
I thought my rather bold claim might elicit some response.

But consider where Germany is located. Even at the height of her success she was surrounded and cut off from global trade and resources. All because Britain and her navy had her locked in tight.
To free that up you need to take the UK out of the fight. Germany had no way of doing that. In any fight if you have an opponent you can't actually beat, it doesn't matter how good you do, you can not win, and then its all down to how long it's going to take for the other guy to get lucky and put you down.

I'm not saying it'd be cheap or easy for the UK, equally it wouldn't have been over in the same time period. In fact it'd likely have stretched even further. But as Germany couldn't physically defeat the UK then it was going to loose.
You forget our geographic position as well.

Germany,prior to Barbarossa and the US entry had a reasonably safe existence. Natural resources had been secured.

We on the other hand were spread very thin, unable to even feed ourselves and the Germans were merrily sinking our merchant shipping faster than we could replace it. Although, prior to the US entry, tacit support has been given by the Americans we were in a very precarious position. ISTR that at some point in 42 Churchill was being briefed by the Admiralty that the U.K. was down to 2 weeks supply of oil.

You mentioned trade. An excellent point to make. Most people always ingnorebthe economics of war as it’s dull and boring, but it can be very interesting.

Under normal circumstances most country’s need to trade to survive. The reason trade is important is to pay off debts. Those debts can be accrued by normal national debt or even the debt required in order to finance paying for a war.

Hitler in the 30s had funded his rearmament programmes by a series of rather large loans from his neighbours and the US. With an economy based in rearmament there was little chances of paying those debts back. A contributing trigger factor for WW2 was to boost the german economy by land acquisition (not to dissimilar to the way the E.U. has boosted its economy by increasing member states) and then having a big f**k off war whereby he could firstly cancel the debts from the country’s he’s conquered as well as acquiring their wealth, but also by saying to the US ‘if you want you’re money come and get it’ or ‘I think it’s time to renegotiate repayment on more favourable terms to me.’

There’s many reasons why the Germans lost, but there’s no single reason.

With respect to the desert though, even with Enigma intercepts and the Allies attempt to intercept german supply routes, Rommel was getting enough supplies through (ignoring the fact that the german economy wasn’t yet on a war footing) logistics were a big issue. Lack of ports, nobody had invented containerisation so shipping was wholly inefficient and nobody had yet though, ‘instead of loading a lorry up with 600 Jerry cans of fuel, could we not just send a fuel bowser to fill the vehicles up.’

In my view, Germany it off more than it could chew. The U.K. and Germany were of compatible sizes who probably would have slugged it out to a negotiated peace, but Germany overstretched itself and ended up taking on two leviathans. Russia with its mass of manpower and the US with its massive industrial base.
 
With respect to the desert though, even with Enigma intercepts and the Allies attempt to intercept german supply routes, Rommel was getting enough supplies through (ignoring the fact that the german economy wasn’t yet on a war footing) logistics were a big issue. Lack of ports, nobody had invented containerisation so shipping was wholly inefficient and nobody had yet though, ‘instead of loading a lorry up with 600 Jerry cans of fuel, could we not just send a fuel bowser to fill the vehicles up.’

During the various back and forth across the North African desert, both the British and Germans complained bitterly about the other sides habit of poising the water wells with oil, which naturally both sides denied doing.
Neither side seems to have had that light switch moment that it might have been natural oil from huge untapped oil fields seeping into the water. If they had, that might have had a very significant strategic impact for either side.
 
That was my point, the maps and records do suggest that not enough support and effort, was put in by the higher ups, to ensure the narrow road was suitably flank protected, leaving the troops on the polder road, having to fight off counter attacks. The germans actually cut the road thanks to a panzer brigade taking the road under direct fire..
Not true as it simplifies things. While MG was a derivative of an expanded Op Comet it was still conceived & planned in nothing much more than 7 days. The air plan was one thing, the ground plan another especially where rear echelon units were still catching up with their lead elements who'd been in 'the swan'.
The flank corps of MG were pushing against terrain better suited to defence & against more depth in that defence otherwise those corps may well have been given a push on & swing left or right (depending on location relevant to the bridges) task instead of XXX corps leading up the roads. The units on each flanks did the best they could against determined resistance.
 
During the various back and forth across the North African desert, both the British and Germans complained bitterly about the other sides habit of poising the water wells with oil, which naturally both sides denied doing.
Neither side seems to have had that light switch moment that it might have been natural oil from huge untapped oil fields seeping into the water. If they had, that might have had a very significant strategic impact for either side.
How so?
Without a refinery, the stuff in the ground is useless.
 
D

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Not true as it simplifies things. While MG was a derivative of an expanded Op Comet it was still conceived & planned in nothing much more than 7 days. The air plan was one thing, the ground plan another especially where rear echelon units were still catching up with their lead elements who'd been in 'the swan'.
The flank corps of MG were pushing against terrain better suited to defence & against more depth in that defence otherwise those corps may well have been given a push on & swing left or right (depending on location relevant to the bridges) task instead of XXX corps leading up the roads. The units on each flanks did the best they could against determined resistance.
If this was going to be your signature operation, along a route, which XXX Corp knew to be narrow, would YOU not rush as many men as you can, to cover the flanks of XXX Corp ?? if necessary, comb out the support units, or even issue captured German rifles to local civvies, just to boost the mass either side.

The only conclusion I can come to, is you are right, it was utter chaos and we did the best we could. Or, it was a punt and monty was nervous about putting all his eggs in one basket, so ensued sufficient forces for other operations (didn't support his own idea and it was a vanity project conceived on a whim to outdo patton).
 
How so?
Without a refinery, the stuff in the ground is useless.

The Germans devoted some quite substantial effort to trying to capture the Caucasus oil field, losing an entire Army in the process, when they actually sat on very substantial oil fields in North Africa.
Very little refining was done 'on site' in the 40's. Germany wasn't terribly short of refining capacity, it was however short of feedstock.
 
They had a bigger army to equip and a more backward economy.
I thought that was what the French were for8O
It would probably be better to describe their own equipment as being carefully tailored to their specific operating environment.
Precisely my point-
They needed equipment in their hands immediately far more than the ability to make it themselves at some point in the future. And Lend-Lease (and the Canadian equivalent called Mutual Aid) was a sort of credit arrangement.
Which shorta belies the fact that their war didn't start til June 1941 and I've never believed the cant about knocking out T34's whilst building their factories to do it. The whole things sounds more like a Stalin Gambit.

To explain this point, consider the production history of the Valentine tank. Large numbers of this tank were produced in Canada (many of which ended up in the Soviet Union). However, this was a problem because a tank is far more than just some armour, a gun, and an engine. There are many off the shelf components which go into them, everything from nuts and bolts to wires and spark plugs. Many of the components for the Canadian made Valentines had to be brought from Britain as that was the only place they were available. This was a logistical problem under war time conditions.
But was it?
Think about it. Canada is closer to Russia than Britain, there are no UBoats in the Bering sea. America was already on side sort of and June in the Northern Hemisphere is summer. It's an easier route to Russia and if ships are returning unladen to America, they could take back essentials- they probably did.
 
The Germans devoted some quite substantial effort to trying to capture the Caucasus oil field, losing an entire Army in the process, when they actually sat on very substantial oil fields in North Africa.
Very little refining was done 'on site' in the 40's. Germany wasn't terribly short of refining capacity, it was however short of feedstock.
Somehow I doubt attempting to drill for oil, then transporting it to Germany to turn into fuel, then sending the fuel back to Rommel, would be logistically doable.
 
D

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The Germans devoted some quite substantial effort to trying to capture the Caucasus oil field, losing an entire Army in the process, when they actually sat on very substantial oil fields in North Africa.
Very little refining was done 'on site' in the 40's. Germany wasn't terribly short of refining capacity, it was however short of feedstock.
Case blue had its objective those oilfields, but I seriously doubt the operation was done for that purpose.

Look at a map of the Ost front in early 1942, northern Russia terrain doesn't suit tanks (forests/swamps), the centre is where the Russians have massed there forces, so the south was doable and suited best, open armoured warfare. Tagged onto that strategic thinking, are the objectives, rather than the other way around.

The germans as others have said, just didn't make an effort looking at logistics and what is doable. That doesn't mean an army should act entirely based on logistics arguments, which ours have become prone to doing. There has to be a balance.
 
Somehow I doubt attempting to drill for oil, then transporting it to Germany to turn into fuel, then sending the fuel back to Rommel, would be logistically doable.

As against sending oil from Romania to Germany and onwards to North Africa?
75% of Germanys crude came from the depleting Romanian fields, access to Billion of barrels of Libyan sweet crude would have dramatically changed Germanies strategic dynamic.

Drilling for oil in the 40's was little advanced on the 1800's, and there was plenty of refining capacity in Austria accessible by sea. And if oil had been found in North Africa, Malta would have quickly been elevated to a strategic target to be eliminated.



 
Case blue had its objective those oilfields, but I seriously doubt the operation was done for that purpose.

Look at a map of the Ost front in early 1942, northern Russia terrain doesn't suit tanks (forests/swamps), the centre is where the Russians have massed there forces, so the south was doable and suited best, open armoured warfare. Tagged onto that strategic thinking, are the objectives, rather than the other way around.

The germans as others have said, just didn't make an effort looking at logistics and what is doable. That doesn't mean an army should act entirely based on logistics arguments, which ours have become prone to doing. There has to be a balance.

A very clear failing in all German 'planning' was there was no joined up thinking about Logistics. Each Front fought the others for supplies, men and equipment, and if the General in charge of the Front was in favour with Hitler, they got the supplies and damn the others and their needs, no matter how desperate.
The Germans much vaunted 'General Staff' acted more like a bunch of squabbling Mafia Dons
 
If this was going to be your signature operation, along a route, which XXX Corp knew to be narrow, would YOU not rush as many men as you can, to cover the flanks of XXX Corp ?? if necessary, comb out the support units, or even issue captured German rifles to local civvies, just to boost the mass either side.
Good fcuking grief.
 

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