German Wündertanks vs Shermans

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Yes, they were conscripts and you spent more time in the NAAFI queue then they spent in training and then spent their time waiting to get out.

Define what you mean by flexibility.
I spent my time in an airportable Bn, Mech Infantry, 8 1/2 year spatrolling urban and rural paths, jungle tree spotting, hot and dry sweety places. I was a signaller, and SF gunner (a very good one), an MFC, a fleet manager, a UEO, an NBC instructor, a drill instructor, canoe instructor, and as an infantry soldier a SAA and heavy Wpn instructor. How flexible would you like me to be.
So the regimental system made you a flexible soldier, isn't that an indicator its not all bad, as some would have it. The flexibility comes from when your co-operating with other units and in larger formations, with casualty replacement and the complexities to logisticians.
 
Unfortunatly he also seems to have absorbed their penchant of ignoring logistics

He was doing quite well up to and including the Battle of Arracourt (A rarely cited battle were the Shermans had no trouble giving the much vaunted 'better' German tanks a stuffing) until told to stand fast as his supplies were needed elsewhere.
 
BTW I asked about the British T-34 idea, and the general consensus of people I trust is listed as "bollocks".

A) The claim is based entirely on Soviet sources, not one shred of corroborating evidence has been found, and as was pointed out earlier there was a propaganda war being conducted within the Red army, to convince their superiors that Soviet was best.
b) When Bovy were asked their response was akin to "no way in hell". The email might be public and some colleagues are looking for it.

A 'British' T-34 was always a non started for the simple reason we didn't supply diesel in quality to the ETO.

And by the time the T-34 was there to be looked at, we had better things run the wings… Comet and Centurion.
 

AfghanAndy

On ROPS
On ROPs
He’s not arguing that British soldiers were not capable of acting amazingly, even the Germans tipped their hats to the ability of the British Tommy to dig in and stubbornly hold, it’s that ability if the Heer to in an almost fluid nature, collapse units, reform and fight on that’s the issue.
The Russians were always acutely aware of the ability of the Heer to recover and get back on the front foot if you did not completely rupture their front.

An example oft cited is in the attack. A British tank crew who’s tank was knocked our would walk back to their jumping off point, a Panzer crew were expected to grab their personal weapons and join the nearest infantry and go forward. For the German army, your ‘trade’ seemed to be just a temporary state of affairs for an infantryman first and foremost, not wether you were destroying tanks with a Panxer Or a Panzerfaust.

We can argue that’s a wrong use of trained tank crews, but it did mean the Germans often had more troops in the fight than they had on paper - this is the point I think Stonker is aiming at, the uncanny ability of the German army to think on its feet even at the lowest level. Yes, the Battle of the Admin box was a great feat of arms, but a German Officer or NCO seeing a breakthrough, Would simply do the same with any units nearby and add extra infantry to his attack.
Valid points. Allied troops could often walk back to pick another tank up though. The Germans in many cases didn’t have that luxury. The Germans by this time were on the defensive so it was often a case of every man.

If you’re on the offence and have the spare tanks, sending a tank crew back into battle in a tank is more preferrable than sending five more men into the front with Stens when you’re tactic of winning is to overwhelm the enemy with superior firepower rather than hand to hand combat.

The Hermans did adapt. But they adapted through the need to adapt because of failures elsewhere. That adaption came at a price.

The use of 88s as an anti tank gun was a prime example. anti Aircraft units were used as a stop gap because of failings in german tank design and numbers. It fulfilled a great job. However, whilst being used in the AT role it’s not performing its AA role. It’s crewed by 10 guys as opposed to a 5 man crew of an AT gun, tank, or tank destroyer.

I forget the German Generals name who modified a load of French kit into tank destroyers. Once again, a great stop gap, but did anybody think of the additional logistical strain that having so many additional different types of vehicles would have?

You see this kind of mentality in business. Short term solutions that actually cost you more in the long run.

The Germans were trained to think on their feet. But the german army managed to cut out a load of additional red tape. Why have a Lt run a platoon when a sgt can? ISTR that at the start at least, the Germans were always training their guys to operate a level higher than their rank. A Sgt was in charge of a platoon and his Cpls were equally capable of taking over that platoon. This may be bacause to reach the tank of Sgt somebody has served their time and got some experience rather than a green Sub straight from Sandhurst. I know I can make decisions on my feet a load better now after being used to operating in hostile environments. Stick a younger, degree qualified lad with little experience and they become overwhelmed quickly.

It still carry’s on today. As a good friend of mine explained, the Bunderswher in the Cold War was capable of expanding very, very quickly. It’s Cpls would all get promoted to Sgt and take a load of new conscripts and reservists under their wings.
Hey presto, you’re bundershwer platoon has become a company very very quickly.

The Germans probably also were able to adapt for a whole host of reasons. When you’re on the defensive -“and fighting for your life against an enemy you’re abused, you’ll fight that little bit harder. Helped a bit by the fact that you’ve been fighting in a coherent unit for several years.
 
ISTR that at the start at least, the Germans were always training their guys to operate a level higher than their rank.
They managed to maintain the high standard of all their training units for a very long time after kick-off. From memory, they didn't begin to shorten courses, or to reduce standards until early 1945
 
The Germans were trained to think on their feet. But the german army managed to cut out a load of additional red tape. Why have a Lt run a platoon when a sgt can? ISTR that at the start at least, the Germans were always training their guys to operate a level higher than their rank. A Sgt was in charge of a platoon and his Cpls were equally capable of taking over that platoon. This may be bacause to reach the tank of Sgt somebody has served their time and got some experience rather than a green Sub straight from Sandhurst. I know I can make decisions on my feet a load better now after being used to operating in hostile environments. Stick a younger, degree qualified lad with little experience and they become overwhelmed quickly.

It still carry’s on today. As a good friend of mine explained, the Bunderswher in the Cold War was capable of expanding very, very quickly. It’s Cpls would all get promoted to Sgt and take a load of new conscripts and reservists under their wings.
Hey presto, you’re bundershwer platoon has become a company very very quickly.

The Germans probably also were able to adapt for a whole host of reasons. When you’re on the defensive -“and fighting for your life against an enemy you’re abused, you’ll fight that little bit harder. Helped a bit by the fact that you’ve been fighting in a coherent unit for several years.

The NCO rank structure is interesting, Corporals, Superior Corporals, Sergeants, Superior Sergeants - the 'Unterofficer' rank is interesting, acquired via combat experience, a sort of Sergeant in waiting squad leader.
As you say, there seems to have been real depth in training and experience built into to the NCO cadre with the ability to move up a couple of ranks instantly.
 
Whilst I agree with most of your post, the bit below doesn't quite ring true...
The use of 88s as an anti tank gun was a prime example. anti Aircraft units were used as a stop gap because of failings in german tank design and numbers. It fulfilled a great job. However, whilst being used in the AT role it’s not performing its AA role. It’s crewed by 10 guys as opposed to a 5 man crew of an AT gun, tank, or tank destroyer.
I was under the impression that the FLAK 88mm was always considered dual use, with the FLAK 18 being deployed as AT during the Spanish Civil War. Then of course there were the PAK 43 & 43/41, bespoke 88mm anti tank guns, which usually get lumped in with the FLAK guns.
 
The NCO rank structure is interesting, Corporals, Superior Corporals, Sergeants, Superior Sergeants - the 'Unterofficer' rank is interesting, acquired via combat experience, a sort of Sergeant in waiting squad leader.
As you say, there seems to have been real depth in training and experience built into to the NCO cadre with the ability to move up a couple of ranks instantly.
They were making a virtue out of necessity, in a sense.

Their military had been working explicitly on the delegation of authority to increasingly lower levels since before Waterloo, and a culture had developed around that idea. Bring in Sturmtruppen in WW1, long before squad/platoon radios, and the process takes another step.

Between the wars, it evolves through the Reichswehr, the cadre which formed the nucleus of the Wehrmacht, and then - when massive expansion comes suddenly under Onkel Adolf, and there's simply not enough educated middle class boys (traditional source of all European officers) it's a very effective expedient, one that sits very comfortably alongside the blue collar ethos of Nazism.
 
He’s not arguing that British soldiers were not capable of acting amazingly, even the Germans tipped their hats to the ability of the British Tommy to dig in and stubbornly hold, it’s that ability if the Heer to in an almost fluid nature, collapse units, reform and fight on that’s the issue.
How often did we need to do that? We seem to have got through the war without getting formations so badly smashed that we had to throw desperation units together to hold back the enemy. I'm sure there must have been examples in France in 1940 or the early days against Japan but other than that I can't think of many times we would have needed to collapse units in the way the Germans did.

An example oft cited is in the attack. A British tank crew who’s tank was knocked our would walk back to their jumping off point, a Panzer crew were expected to grab their personal weapons and join the nearest infantry and go forward. For the German army, your ‘trade’ seemed to be just a temporary state of affairs for an infantryman first and foremost, not wether you were destroying tanks with a Panxer Or a Panzerfaust.
That's great for that one attack, but what happens the next day when you want to exploit your victory and all your highly skilled, expensively trained Panzer crews, engineers, signallers etc are lying with their helmets on their rifles because they were thrown in as ersatz infantry?
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Whilst I agree with most of your post, the bit below doesn't quite ring true...

I was under the impression that the FLAK 88mm was always considered dual use, with the FLAK 18 being deployed as AT during the Spanish Civil War. Then of course there were the PAK 43 & 43/41, bespoke 88mm anti tank guns, which usually get lumped in with the FLAK guns.
The Flak 18 was pressed into use in the Spanish Civil War, leading to more interest in so using its successors. (Worth noting that the British 3.7" AA gun was also dual-role).

However, if you've ever compared - for example - a 17pdr AT gun (often considered to be towards the limit of what troops could be expected to tactically handle, dig in, and operate), then looked at the size of gunpit you need to give a 3.7" or a Flak 36 some protection... it's readily apparent why using AA guns in the anti-tank role was a last resort for those unable to stop enemy armour any other way. (British forces, less embarrassed by inadequate AT than German - who contemtuously nicknamed their Pak 36 the "doorknocker" since it just woke the enemy tank's crew up - had much less need to strip away their heavy AA guns to snipe at tanks)

Even when they used 88mm guns as pure AT weapons, like the Pak 43/41, they got nicknamed "Barn Door" for their size and weight, and the lack of tactical mobility was a critical problem - many were lost because despite their piercing performance, they were just too heavy to move on the battlefield. (The same issue killed the 32pdr AT, a 3.7" AA gun on a low-angle mount: the prototype had incredible performance but was utterly impractical on anything except tarmac or concrete)
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
The Germans were trained to think on their feet. But the german army managed to cut out a load of additional red tape. Why have a Lt run a platoon when a sgt can? ISTR that at the start at least, the Germans were always training their guys to operate a level higher than their rank. A Sgt was in charge of a platoon and his Cpls were equally capable of taking over that platoon. This may be bacause to reach the tank of Sgt somebody has served their time and got some experience rather than a green Sub straight from Sandhurst. I know I can make decisions on my feet a load better now after being used to operating in hostile environments. Stick a younger, degree qualified lad with little experience and they become overwhelmed quickly.
Sorry but we have always had NCO's taking over platoons and companies in battle and I myself commanded a multiple on OPs in NI on several occasions, British troops can be decisive and take the initiative. Peace time doesn't let these skills shine in most units due to lack of training time. Good units always trained troops up to the next level.
 
How often did we need to do that? We seem to have got through the war without getting formations so badly smashed that we had to throw desperation units together to hold back the enemy. I'm sure there must have been examples in France in 1940 or the early days against Japan but other than that I can't think of many times we would have needed to collapse units in the way the Germans did?
After Alamein, rarely, as the preferred operational model was to wait until you had a massive overmatch in forces before moving then, having reached said stated goals, sit back and repeat.
Great for wining 'The' Battle, not so great for exploitation… time and again the Germans were able to regroup and fight their way away to fight another day..

That's great for that one attack, but what happens the next day when you want to exploit your victory and all your highly skilled, expensively trained Panzer crews, engineers, signallers etc are lying with their helmets on their rifles because they were thrown in as ersatz infantry?
Did it really matter whether the enemies armoured thrust was stopped by a hail of well aimed AP rounds or Panzerfauts wielded by Panzertruuppen temporarily on shanks pony?
 
After Alamein, rarely, as the preferred operational model was to wait until you had a massive overmatch in forces before moving then, having reached said stated goals, sit back and repeat.
Great for wining 'The' Battle, not so great for exploitation… time and again the Germans were able to regroup and fight their way away to fight another day..
And they did it all the way back to the Reichstag and the POW cages the survivors ended up in...

Did it really matter whether the enemies armoured thrust was stopped by a hail of well aimed AP rounds or Panzerfauts wielded by Panzertruuppen temporarily on shanks pony?
Again, on the day no. What about the next day when you need to cut off the enemy's spearhead with your Panzertruppen and they're all lying dead in foxholes and you can't contact the Panzer regiment anyway because your signallers are all dead and there's no counterattack plan because all your staff officers died leading thrown together Kampfgruppe in desperate attempts to plug gaps in your lines?
 
The Flak 18 was pressed into use in the Spanish Civil War, leading to more interest in so using its successors. (Worth noting that the British 3.7" AA gun was also dual-role).

However, if you've ever compared - for example - a 17pdr AT gun (often considered to be towards the limit of what troops could be expected to tactically handle, dig in, and operate), then looked at the size of gunpit you need to give a 3.7" or a Flak 36 some protection... it's readily apparent why using AA guns in the anti-tank role was a last resort for those unable to stop enemy armour any other way. (British forces, less embarrassed by inadequate AT than German - who contemtuously nicknamed their Pak 36 the "doorknocker" since it just woke the enemy tank's crew up - had much less need to strip away their heavy AA guns to snipe at tanks)

Even when they used 88mm guns as pure AT weapons, like the Pak 43/41, they got nicknamed "Barn Door" for their size and weight, and the lack of tactical mobility was a critical problem - many were lost because despite their piercing performance, they were just too heavy to move on the battlefield. (The same issue killed the 32pdr AT, a 3.7" AA gun on a low-angle mount: the prototype had incredible performance but was utterly impractical on anything except tarmac or concrete)
On the subject of turning AA weapons agaisnt tanks I did see a mention of something interesting. There's been two (One trail and one live) occasions when we pointed Z-batteries at armour, which solves quite amply the tactical mobility problem.

There again the Hungarians took it to the logical conclusion:


 
The Flak 18 was pressed into use in the Spanish Civil War, leading to more interest in so using its successors. (Worth noting that the British 3.7" AA gun was also dual-role).

However, if you've ever compared - for example - a 17pdr AT gun (often considered to be towards the limit of what troops could be expected to tactically handle, dig in, and operate), then looked at the size of gunpit you need to give a 3.7" or a Flak 36 some protection... it's readily apparent why using AA guns in the anti-tank role was a last resort for those unable to stop enemy armour any other way. (British forces, less embarrassed by inadequate AT than German - who contemtuously nicknamed their Pak 36 the "doorknocker" since it just woke the enemy tank's crew up - had much less need to strip away their heavy AA guns to snipe at tanks)

Even when they used 88mm guns as pure AT weapons, like the Pak 43/41, they got nicknamed "Barn Door" for their size and weight, and the lack of tactical mobility was a critical problem - many were lost because despite their piercing performance, they were just too heavy to move on the battlefield. (The same issue killed the 32pdr AT, a 3.7" AA gun on a low-angle mount: the prototype had incredible performance but was utterly impractical on anything except tarmac or concrete)
Rather than "pressed into use", I believe FLAK 18 was designed to be dual purpose (albeit generally intended for AA use), and AP rounds were issued from the outset. Agreed on the practicality of digging in and manouevring all the Flak88s - AND the PAK 41/43. However, the split trail PAK 43/41 "Barn door" was only a stopgap whilst Messrs Krupp sorted out the slightly more user friendly cruciform carriage on the PAK 43, which not only made it more mobile (for a given value of mobile), it also allowed the crew to get into action faster, and reduced the size of the gun pit required.

We were actually well equipped throughout the war with anti tank guns.* The 2 Pdr was an excellent gun for its time, although often defeated by heavier armour by 1942; the 6Pdr was still an effective tank killer in 1945, and the 17Pdr was the best available - and as you say, right at the limit of size for practical use. The organic ATk Platoons within Infantry Battalions were usually equipped with weapons capable of dealing with what they were facing.

*Of course some poor sod hefting a Boyes .55" antitank Rifle around France and Belgium in 1940 might take issue with this...
 
By sea? Australia is the one with the beaches and kangaroos...
Austria is on the Danube and oil is shipped in tankers on the river in large quantities all the way from the Black Sea ports as well as from Romania's own fields.

I'm not sure if navigation was unbroken on the entire river at that time though. The dams in the gorges between Serbia and Romania were built a few decades after the war and I don't know if the channels were made passable by other means before then. In the worst case the oil would have needed to be trans-shipped around that point by other means (e.g. a pipeline).
 

AfghanAndy

On ROPS
On ROPs
Sorry but we have always had NCO's taking over platoons and companies in battle and I myself commanded a multiple on OPs in NI on several occasions, British troops can be decisive and take the initiative. Peace time doesn't let these skills shine in most units due to lack of training time. Good units always trained troops up to the next level.
It was standard practice in the german army in the time for an NCO to run a platoon. Not an exception because there was no officer present. The Sgt was earmarked to run a platoon. A leutena to run a company and a major to run a battalion. This was peace time.
 
BTW I asked about the British T-34 idea, and the general consensus of people I trust is listed as "bollocks".
You are being a bit vague here. What is "bollocks"? That the UK ever received samples of the T-34 and KV at the time, that there were ever any engineering studies being conducted into what would be involved in producing them in the UK, or are you simply saying it would not have been a practical idea? In the case of the latter I think I've already outlined in a previous post why it would have been unlikely to have been seen as practical.

A) The claim is based entirely on Soviet sources, not one shred of corroborating evidence has been found, and as was pointed out earlier there was a propaganda war being conducted within the Red army, to convince their superiors that Soviet was best.
Before going off half cocked recall that the letters were reporting what had been said by lower level engineering staff and the recipient had not heard of any actual decided plan. Recall that he said "If the English really want to mass produce these tanks", which does not imply that any decision had been made.

While I had not anticipated this study, engineering evaluations of this nature are absolutely routine in civilian manufacturing business. The people who actually make the decisions on something this would have been several levels above the people conducting the actual engineering studies. The decision makers want to know that all avenues have been explored, and they want a report that tells them how much would it cost, how long would it take, and how competitive the product would be. An engineering report that simply said "I think it's bollocks" would not generally be well received even if true.

This however is why most engineering studies (at least in civilian industry) go nowhere. An experienced engineer will usually know pretty quickly that the exercise is pointless for practical and business reasons, but the people who are held responsible for making the final decisions will quite reasonably insist that facts their decision is based on be put down on paper.

b) When Bovy were asked their response was akin to "no way in hell". The email might be public and some colleagues are looking for it.
Any contemporary records of British evaluations of the T-34 and KV would be very interesting both for the information they recorded on these tanks as well as what it might tell us about what the British thought to be important in tank design at the time as opposed to post-war retrospective evaluations which may be coloured by subsequent experience.
 
It was standard practice in the german army in the time for an NCO to run a platoon. Not an exception because there was no officer present. The Sgt was earmarked to run a platoon. A leutena to run a company and a major to run a battalion. This was peace time.
We tried it as well from the late 1930s, IIRC WO3 as platoon Warrant officers? Didn't work very well according to what I've read, and discontinued after Dunkirk.
 
?
Herr Schmidt's wunerpanzer was anything but reliable, so I'm struggling to see where it compares with Lt Michael J Mouse's Sherman, which was.
I may have lost track of this little sub-thread. I understood the line of discussion was re. the relative merits of M4 Sherman (Quality) vs T34 (Quantity), which given that they never faced each other in battle (until perhaps the Arab Israeli wars?) seemed kinda sterile.

The real arbiter of the quality of the T34, it seemed to me, would be the unlucky sods in Pzkpfws various who were faced with swarms of the bleedin' things.

Apologies if I utterly misconstrued - it was late on in my yesterday, and I was posting while fighting off the ZZZeds on a homeward bound LWMR Iron Horse
 

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