German Wündertanks vs Shermans

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
Not in the Luftwaffe they didn't, the rot set-in in 1942 and went rapidly downhill from there - the German military - not 10ft tall
 
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.
That may have been for a number of reasons, rather than providing irrefutable proof that it cannot work, one intangible that may well have prejudiced it being an ingrained Brit assumption that Blokes absolutely must have Chaps in charge of them, which would easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. another would be the huge difference in the German vs the Brit training regimes: the former customarily train the officer or NCO to the level at which they are to be employed, and no higher.

The German asusmption - and it's pretty central to the philosophy of Auftragstaktik and the concept of the Schwerpunkt - is that every leader absolutely needs to trained to be capable of operating effectively at a level two-up from that to which they are formally appointed to command (to expand on this, read the piece on Auftragstaktik in Arrsepedia. Assuming it hasn't been enthusiastically vandalised rewritten since I first parked it there)
 
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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.
13 officers per Hun Battalion of 1,000 men. 4 of them non-combatant (Paymaster, MO, Vet, Padre) vs 30 Officers in a Brit unit of similar size, in the same period.

Go figure, as they say.
 
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
They crossed swords in Korea.

It’s worth watching The Chieftains Hatch where he reviews an M4 and a T34.
He’s no fan of the awefull ergonomics of the T34.


 
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.
I recall reading that the UK started the war with NCO lead platoons and Germany with Officer lead platoons
The Germans swapped because of the manpower issue. I dont recall reading why the British changed post Dunkirk
I m inclined towards a theory that
A) With the rapid expansion of the army more LT were required to stream into company command and higher and this was the simplest method of garnering experience for junior officers
B) Losses in Junior officers were so high it was the only way of ensuring someone was around for Captaincy
 
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
I'm not sure the Sherman versus T-34 comparison is a case of quality versus quantity. According to several sources (from a quick Google search) the Americans produced nearly 50,000 of them during the war. That's a lot of quantity right there.

Soviet figures are harder to understand. I believe they counted major rebuilds of a tank as "building" a tank, and I haven't seen any source which stated whether Soviet T-34 figures were for tanks which were new built from the ground up versus rebuilds of tanks which were damaged or worn out. As a result of this it may be that the raw numbers may count the same tank multiple times if it was returned after being damaged, or worn out, or to receive upgrades. It is possible that this is not something which is easily answered without a great deal of effort, if it is possible to answer it at all.

The Germans on the other hand I believe counted rebuilds as repairs and only struck a tank off the books if it was a complete irrecoverable loss.

Someone else might have an idea what the comparable American and British accounting methods might be.

The end result of this though is that it may be difficult to do apples to apples comparisons of how many tanks each side "built" unless we know how they counted major repairs and rebuilds and adjust the figures for that.
 
That may have been for a number of reasons, rather than providing irrefutable proof that it cannot work, one intangible that may well have prejudiced it being an ingrained Brit assumption that Blokes absolutely must have Chaps in charge of them, which would easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. another would be the huge difference in the German vs the Brit training regimes: the former customarily train the officer or NCO to the level at which they are to be employed, and no higher.

The German asusmption - and it's pretty central to the philosophy of Auftragstaktik and the concept of the Schwerpunkt - is that every leader absolutely needs to trained to be capable of operating effectively at a level two-up from the level to which they are appointed (to expand on this, read the piece on Auftragstaktik in Arrsepedia. Assuming it hasn't been enthusiastically vandalised rewritten since I first parked it there)
What were the educational levels and attainments of the recruiting pools the common soldiers were drawn from in each country during peace time? That may have some relevance to the issue as well.
 
I recall reading that the UK started the war with NCO lead platoons and Germany with Officer lead platoons
The Germans swapped because of the manpower issue. I dont recall reading why the British changed post Dunkirk
I m inclined towards a theory that
A) With the rapid expansion of the army more LT were required to stream into company command and higher and this was the simplest method of garnering experience for junior officers
B) Losses in Junior officers were so high it was the only way of ensuring someone was around for Captaincy
One Platoon Leader/Commander in a Wehrmacht Infanterie Kompanie was by Billet supposed to be an NCO going back before 1939.
 
What were the educational levels and attainments of the recruiting pools the common soldiers were drawn from in each country during peace time? That may have some relevance to the issue as well.

Don’t know about education standards, but the compulsory PT, paramiliaristion of schooling, youth camps and good medical and dietary standards meant the Germans had a very large pool of fit and healthy conscripts already equipped with basic field and soldiering skills. I would imagine leadership skills would already have been identified and formally noted before the first day at depot.
 
What were the educational levels and attainments of the recruiting pools the common soldiers were drawn from in each country during peace time? That may have some relevance to the issue as well.
I might be wrong but I'd hazard a guess you have hit the nail on the head. The officers were still largely 'Chaps with the right background', the ranks came from the otherwise unemployable. One proof of being middle class or even skilled working class was you wouldn't have anything to do with the fighting parts of the army. In a conscripted force this doesn't [can't] occur. One of the strengths of my old TA unit was that while the officers were definitely still R&R the senior NCOs were mostly lower middle class, often with civilian management experience.
 
Fallschirmjaeger - a Luftwaffe component - as per my previous.
Not the mid '44 ones - many reports of Luftwaffe groundcrew being issued with some fancy cammo gear and a funny Stahlhelm and told to get on with it - none of that worthless training rubbish - hence why the replacement units were crap during the Battle of the Bulge

I'll try and find the story of one such poor sod I read a while back but meanwhile Operation Stösser: Last Airborne Offensive of the Fallschirmjägers

A Ragtag Army Of One in Five Trained
With only a week to prepare, Student ordered each of the battalion commanders of the First Parachute Army to send von der Heydte a hundred of their best men. Unfortunately for the Germans, the Fallschirmjaeger of 1944 were not the highly trained soldiers who jumped onto Fort Eben Emael in 1940 or Crete in 1941. Many of them were not even parachute-qualified. On D-day there were 150,000 men in the Fallschirmtruppen, but only 30,000 were actually trained parachutists. And worse yet, some of the parachute regimental commanders dumped their undesirables, including some inexperienced soldiers fresh from basic training, on von der Heydte rather than sending him their best men.

Von der Heydte had to send 150 men back to their units as unsuitable candidates. He had only a few men with previous combat jump experience and only about 20 percent of his composite unit was qualified to jump with weapons, so containers had to be used. The operation would be a night jump.

After 1943, the requirements for the award of the paratrooper’s insignia upon the completion of basic parachute training included at least one night jump. But this would be the first and only nighttime combat jump. They would also jump into the woods, something the Germans had practiced in training. The preparations for Operation Stoesser were rushed. The Fallschirmjaeger were issued additional equipment, and some received hasty jump training. There was little time for any training or organization as a cohesive unit. To complicate matters, von der Heydte’s transport of about a hundred Junkers Ju-52s were piloted by mostly young and inexperienced crews.
 
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.
Coy Comd was a Hauptmann post, on paper, at any rate. Once hostilities commenced, all bets were off. ISTR that the biography of the near legendary Von Luck of Op GOODWOOD fame has him formslly commanding seriously large groupings at (to Brit eyes) oddly junior ranks. Herman doesn't seem to get so wrapped around the axle about rank Vs appointment, perhaps because it's taken for granted that everyone is trained by default to function effectively two levels up in the first place.
 
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...
Can't find it yet but I'm sure I've read that using the flak 88 predominately in the anti tank roll required the AA follow the dial sighting system to be modified. Similar to when they tried the 3.7 in a direct fire mode it would require modifications as it had no direct fire sights and the layer/gunner were facing the wrong way. I will have a further search tonight at work.
 
.........and don't get me started on Luftwaffe Field Units.........absolute shite, but what did they expect? Well, they expected SS style fanaticism and Army style fighting capacity so the OKH was not impressed when they proved capable of neither - but then how may infantrymen could fix aircraft?
 
.........and don't get me started on Luftwaffe Field Units.........absolute shite, but what did they expect? Well, they expected SS style fanaticism and Army style fighting capacity so the OKH was not impressed when they proved capable of neither - but then how may infantrymen could fix aircraft?

To be fair, the OKH was also seriously underwhelmed by the SS, but we’re digressing, the Luftwaffe wasn’t the Army.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
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..
However they couldn't really run very far could they? How many Hun in the bag in Tunisia? I'd rather have Monty and a 3-1 superiority than pull another Goose Green out of the bag!
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
I recall reading that the UK started the war with NCO lead platoons and Germany with Officer lead platoons
The Germans swapped because of the manpower issue. I dont recall reading why the British changed post Dunkirk
I m inclined towards a theory that
A) With the rapid expansion of the army more LT were required to stream into company command and higher and this was the simplest method of garnering experience for junior officers
B) Losses in Junior officers were so high it was the only way of ensuring someone was around for Captaincy
Frankly we would have kept WO's and NCO's running platoons if it hadn't been for the volunteers of Canloan god bless them!
 

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