Advantage of 3-man turret

Discussions on the vehicles used by the Axis forces. Hosted by Christian Ankerstjerne
Mark V
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Advantage of 3-man turret

Postby Mark V » 20 Feb 2004 22:21

Hi guys,

I have many times wondered the degree of advantage Pzkw III/IV had when compared to otherwise good (armour, main weapon, mobility) battle tanks of other nations that had only 1 or 2 -man turrets.

I personally think the advantage of crew efficiency overwhelms every other deficiances there might have been by a wide margin.

Situation awareness and command of vehicle, target aqcuisition, gun laying, firing the main weapon, and reloading the main weapon and coax-MG just could not be done with any degree of efficiency with less than 3 men.

But what do you think ??


Regards, Mark V

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Postby Christian Ankerstjerne » 20 Feb 2004 22:44

The three-man turret allowed for each crewmember to concentrate on one task (loading, aiming/fireing and commanding, respectively). This would both produce a higher rate of fire, as well as a better gun crew (as each person would only have to learn one thing, which he could then concentrate on).

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Harri
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Postby Harri » 20 Feb 2004 23:22

Christian Ankerstjerne wrote:The three-man turret allowed for each crewmember to concentrate on one task (loading, aiming/fireing and commanding, respectively).


The most important was that the tank/unit commander was free to do his job without other primary or secondary duties. Germans had understood the importance of good communication systems and observing devices. One of their (?) brilliant ideas was commander's cupola which increased the visibility out from the tank significantly.

Christian Ankerstjerne wrote:This would both produce a higher rate of fire, as well as a better gun crew (as each person would only have to learn one thing, which he could then concentrate on).


The importance of separate loader became more obvious when gun calibres began increasing. For example 37 mm ammo was light-weighted and tiny in size compared to 75 or 88 mm ammo.

I'm not sure about the "learning one thing" only. At least in Finland the whole tank crew had to know all duties. In cases someone was for example disabled during the combat it was necessary that every crew members knew eachothers job. These duties were sometimes also changed when new crew members arrived or someone was on (very rare) vacation.

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Postby Christian Ankerstjerne » 20 Feb 2004 23:25

The German tank crews had to be trained in all the jobs, however in practice, they would only perform one - which they would get very good at, on the other hand.

They could take over for a wounded crewemmebr if needed, though.

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Mark V
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Postby Mark V » 21 Feb 2004 00:00

Guys,

Just an hyphotetical scenario:

In 1940 T-34 is designed with larger 3-man turret with commanders cupola.

The increased weight of turret necessitate *** the thickest armour of turret and hull to be decreased to 40mm to maintain the same combat weight and mobility...

Better or worse than the actual model ??


Mark V


*** not actually - but here the weight limit is strict

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Postby Christian Ankerstjerne » 21 Feb 2004 00:02

That would depend on the result of the additional crewmember - if the fireing time and aiming time is brought down considerably, then yes.

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Mark V
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Postby Mark V » 21 Feb 2004 00:14

Christian Ankerstjerne wrote:if the fireing time and aiming time is brought down considerably, then yes.

Christian


Better i suppose ??

I think an considerable improvement would be unavoidable. I wan't also emphasize the situation awareness - if commander has to double as gunner, the tank is moving like race horse with eye blinders.


Mark V


PS. We should not forget the tank that is sometimes called as best tank in world in 1940...

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Postby Tony Williams » 21 Feb 2004 09:23

The French of course stuck with one man turrets - which meant that their best tanks, which outclassed the 1940 Panzers in armour and gunpower, were crippled in effectiveness.

Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition

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Postby Witch-King of Angmar » 21 Feb 2004 12:33

Mark V wrote:Guys,

Just an hyphotetical scenario:

In 1940 T-34 is designed with larger 3-man turret with commanders cupola.

The increased weight of turret necessitate *** the thickest armour of turret and hull to be decreased to 40mm to maintain the same combat weight and mobility...

Better or worse than the actual model ??


Mark V


*** not actually - but here the weight limit is strict


T-34s 2-men turret was a big disadvantage - not only there were 2 of them, but the turret itself was so cramped I wonder how could two large Russians fit in, winter clothing notwithstanding 8O I've seen once two T-34/85 II on display, one cut open, the other complete, and I've climbed in both turrets; it was barely enough space for myself. PzKpfw IV was smaller overall, yet turret was slightly larger on the inside. A 40mm turret armor would be acceptable if turret could be made bigger.

~The Witch-King of Angmar

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David Lehmann
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Postby David Lehmann » 21 Feb 2004 13:51

The problem of the French armour war far less the 1-man turret than the communication issues, the lack of coordination with the artillery/aviation/infantry and the fact that some crews had known their tank for only one week before beeing engaged.
In several battles the German tanks suffered high losses but the main advantage is the radio in the tanks which allowed the different tanks, different platoons etc. to remain in contact, to move coordinately, to quickly change the axis of an attack etc. The French lacked that and usually during an attack they only knew the initial axis of the attack and grossly each tank was then for its own.

Regards,

David

Tony Williams
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Postby Tony Williams » 21 Feb 2004 14:55

Panzermeyer wrote:The problem of the French armour war far less the 1-man turret than the communication issues, the lack of coordination with the artillery/aviation/infantry and the fact that some crews had known their tank for only one week before beeing engaged.


Agreed that it all contributed. No doubt if they'd had radio the TC would have had to do that job as well!

Tony Williams

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David Lehmann
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Postby David Lehmann » 21 Feb 2004 15:11

Yes, and often during WW2 the command tank of a company/battalion and/or the space required for the additional radio equipments led to specially dedicated command tanks with fake guns and/or specially dedicated PzI/II Befehlspanzer at the beginning, indicating that commanding is a work by itself I guess.

David

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Juha Tompuri
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Postby Juha Tompuri » 21 Feb 2004 23:22

Witch-King of Angmar wrote: T-34s 2-men turret was a big disadvantage - not only there were 2 of them, but the turret itself was so cramped I wonder how could two large Russians fit in, winter clothing notwithstanding
Some idea can be found from a book at my childrens bookshelf: "Rakenteiden Salaisuudet" ( original name: "Incredible Cross-sections") by Stephen Biesty

Regards, Juha
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Harri
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Postby Harri » 21 Feb 2004 23:40

Damn, Juha, this book is a real wonder: there is answer to every important question from submarine toilets to turrets of T-34!! :P

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Wolfkin
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Postby Wolfkin » 21 Feb 2004 23:51

Hello Mark V!

I agree completely, the three man turret is a much better environment for a tank crew to operate in. I have seen some people downplay the importance of a tank commander. I do not think they realize that the tank commander is the eyes, ears and other things of the tank crew.

The tank commander directs the driver, directs the gunner, keeps track on the map, watches all around for targets and basically is kept really busy. He is the only one with all-around vision. Imagine if he had to be a gunner as well?

The tanks with two man turrets would have had the gunner/tank commander so over-worked that the tank must have operated like a cow in a herd of cattle. But the three man turreted tanks must have operated like a well-oiled machine. Efficient, quick and smooth.

Cheers,

Wolfkin


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