Were German tanks over engineered?

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Yoozername » 21 Jun 2017 01:01

And, post war, the BMG position rapidly disappeared from tanks and crews shrank to 4 men in most cases. That makes a strong argument that the BMG was largely worthless and the effort and expense the Germans put into making it better during the war was a waste. But, that's just one of many cases of German over-engineering.
But, that is, obviously, not the point. Honestly, you are just grasping at anything to make a moot point.

Also, why are you talking about trucks? And the use of independant suspension for an off road vehicle is not that much more expensive. Being an engineer, I have to point out that the German truck is using a fixed differential for both 'pumpkins'. Note they are sharing through universal joints the power. Compare to the US truck. It has two drive shafts going to the back. The US truck would have to have the separate driveshaft setup to use the inferior leaf springs. You are comparing a 10 wheel 6x6 drive to a 4 wheel drive. The German vehicle is a 6x4. The vehicles are not even in the same class.

This detailed model breaks it out...
Image

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Paul Lakowski » 21 Jun 2017 20:39

According to Wilhelm Deist when Von Blomberg was appointed C-in-C Wehrmacht in 1934 his first request was to switch all armaments production from 'annual cost plus contracts' to 'multi year fixed price contracting', Hitler blocked him remarking that mass production was fine for toasters and fridges,but not armaments, thus the opportunity to ream German effectively vanished until wartime.

This probably lead to over engineering . I wonder just how much better armed the Wehrmacht could have been?

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Yoozername » 21 Jun 2017 22:08

I think people really don't understand what they mean by 'over-engineering'. Presumably, the Germans over engineered things. Here is a definition...
Overengineering (or over-engineering) is the designing of a product to be more robust or complicated than is necessary for its application, either (charitably) to ensure sufficient factor of safety, sufficient functionality, or because of design errors.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Sheldrake » 21 Jun 2017 22:51

T. A. Gardner wrote:And, post war, the BMG position rapidly disappeared from tanks and crews shrank to 4 men in most cases. That makes a strong argument that the BMG was largely worthless and the effort and expense the Germans put into making it better during the war was a waste.
Not sure about that. The German bow gunner was also the designated wireless operator, WW2 era radio sets needed skilled operation. WW2 tanks needed a five man crew to carry out the servicing schedule in anything less reliable than the M4!

It may have been that tank crews could shrink to four when tanks and their radios became more powerful. The detachment workload is still an issue when the question of three man tanks arises.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Yoozername » 21 Jun 2017 23:57

One might argue that the Panzer IV electric turret traverse was over engineered. Or certainly odd compared to other nations traverse system or even their own systems in other panzers. To have a separate gasoline motor drive a generator, to drive electric motors, and the associated controls/wiring was a bit much. Other than that, the Panzer IV was a typical German tank and not much can be said to be over-engineered. it really did not have much product improvement after 1943 and even had the odd decision to completely remove any power assist for turret traverse and became a hand cranked system.

The Tiger I suspension is certainly over-engineered and it was changed to a simpler overlapping system. Again, this overlapping of road wheels is a German feature. It did have some advantages but it certainly was not used in other nations or post war.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Nautilus » 19 Aug 2017 12:27

Sheldrake wrote:A thought provoking post. You are right. German industry's response to the T34 was the Panther. Value engineering wasn't a natural concept for German industry. True - under wartime pressure designs were simplified, but there were pressure to complicate designs. Hitler liked clever technology and was a sucker for gimmicks and the Nazi regime resulted in very expensive projects.

Whether a particular feature is "over engineered" depends on how important the feature is to the purpose of the equipment. The ability to maintain situational awareness and hit a target first is critical. (IRRC one of the British scientific studies into tank perfomance in North Africa picked out German sights as the reason for German superiority in tank v tank combat. Having better sights than the enemy is critical. German tanks were also fitted for radio and they avoided combining the role of tank commander with gunner and or loader that hampered French and Soviet designs.

Complicated steering and suspension may offer only a marginal benefit to an AFV. If they result in reduced reliability they subtract value. An un-battleworthy tank has limited value - (though the spectre of Tiger tanks in the minds of Allied tank crews had a value even when the Tigers themselves were on the side of the road with the back decks up)

The Pz I, II, III and IV were reliable tanks for 1939-40. They were better
Post-WWII, Soviet Generals put on paper the strategic difference between "war" and "conflict". (Which was known in the West, even better in European countries of Socialist tradition like Italy or France, but not formalised.)

It went as following: two armies firing at each other things which go boom, from rifle to nuclear warhead, is not war, but conflict. War involves everything and everyone in a society, from pre-school education to old geezers, from the smallest bolts and nuts to greatest construction projects. And it does change you, it transforms anything you knew or understood before. Those who will emerge from a war, even if they win, are so different from what they were before, they may be a different species.

In military and engineering matters: the grand strategy, simple in words, permeates every field of a country's life, involves everyone, as they know it or not. Once set in place, is set in stone, you can't change it in just months or years. Industrial standards, engineering, worker training, education, propaganda, electric network, mining, laws regarding social life, transportation systems, all are somehow connected to it in subtle or obvious ways.

German grand strategy, as designed in the 1920s by Generals who were retired or dead in 1940, judged, as George Friedman says today, by the constraint of having enemies much superior in numbers and with much better access to global markets and to oceanic commerce and by the advantage of having one of the finest industrial basis in the world. Maybe the finest from 1900 to 1918, in the top three until 1942.

Juggling constraint and advantage together, they decided to do more with less:

- advanced mobile tactics to quickly disable forces vastly superior;
- better war machinery to serve the advanced mobile tactics.

They understood the complications in the German military technology, and judged they had to bite the bullet if this brought advantage in war.

Krupp Protze had the swinging half-axle suspension, built in the complex manner of a 1930-1970 sportscar, with tubular hand-welded arms, for the purpose behind it was to run at full speed on rough ground, with one tonne of payload on the platform. They might have made it simpler, but limit the off-road speed to about 30 km/h of wheeled tractors. Or limit the payload, which was already small to begin with.

Schachtellaufwerk type halftracks had each track pad running on roller bearings and lubricated pins, hundreds of small bearing sets assembled by hand for each machine, for they had been designed to hold high speeds over rough ground, with full load. Raupenschlepper Ost, Maultier or Schwerer Wehrmachtschlepper had much simpler running gear, but they were limited to less than 30 km/h on road. Maybe half that on rough ground.

Luftwaffe warplanes had complex direct-injection systems and power boosters 30 years ahead of the competition (literally: nitrous oxide and water-methanol became known by the general public in the late 1960s!) since they were designed for superior manoeuvrability at medium altitudes. They performed poorly at 10000-11000 meters, since nobody expected to fly against a B-29, which was not even on the drawing boards back then.

Everything was fine for military geeks and armchair generals - until the invasion of the Soviet Union blew to pieces the strategy of short, decisive campaigns. Overnight, there were needed 10 times as many machines to cover a giant expanse of land... and the German infrastructure geared for 20 years to make more with less realized it couldn't make them. You can't change in months what has been running for 20 years straight. As Werner von Braun said, when confronted to impossible demands in short time: "You can't impregnate 9 women and expect them to make a baby in one month!"

PS The inferiority of the Soviet technology had been acknowledged by Soviet Generals in the disastrous campaigns of 1941-1942. But they were rational enough to understand the constraints - what they could save from their industry war rebuilt piecemeal on distant lands, the trained manpower of 1940 was rotting alive in German camps. Zhukov's strategy was based on understanding the weakness of the German industry and logistics: as long as the Germans could not be opposed in direct combat, the only solution for the Soviets was to outlive them, at least 1 or 2 years. Despite all losses, suffering, hunger, they had to resist on the spot, no matter what. The hope for a decisive battle drove the Germans forward, and exactly this had to be denied to them, at all costs.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Guaporense » 26 Aug 2017 04:30

Nautilus wrote:
Sheldrake wrote:A thought provoking post. You are right. German industry's response to the T34 was the Panther. Value engineering wasn't a natural concept for German industry. True - under wartime pressure designs were simplified, but there were pressure to complicate designs. Hitler liked clever technology and was a sucker for gimmicks and the Nazi regime resulted in very expensive projects.

Whether a particular feature is "over engineered" depends on how important the feature is to the purpose of the equipment. The ability to maintain situational awareness and hit a target first is critical. (IRRC one of the British scientific studies into tank perfomance in North Africa picked out German sights as the reason for German superiority in tank v tank combat. Having better sights than the enemy is critical. German tanks were also fitted for radio and they avoided combining the role of tank commander with gunner and or loader that hampered French and Soviet designs.

Complicated steering and suspension may offer only a marginal benefit to an AFV. If they result in reduced reliability they subtract value. An un-battleworthy tank has limited value - (though the spectre of Tiger tanks in the minds of Allied tank crews had a value even when the Tigers themselves were on the side of the road with the back decks up)

The Pz I, II, III and IV were reliable tanks for 1939-40. They were better
Post-WWII, Soviet Generals put on paper the strategic difference between "war" and "conflict". (Which was known in the West, even better in European countries of Socialist tradition like Italy or France, but not formalised.)

It went as following: two armies firing at each other things which go boom, from rifle to nuclear warhead, is not war, but conflict. War involves everything and everyone in a society, from pre-school education to old geezers, from the smallest bolts and nuts to greatest construction projects. And it does change you, it transforms anything you knew or understood before. Those who will emerge from a war, even if they win, are so different from what they were before, they may be a different species.

In military and engineering matters: the grand strategy, simple in words, permeates every field of a country's life, involves everyone, as they know it or not. Once set in place, is set in stone, you can't change it in just months or years. Industrial standards, engineering, worker training, education, propaganda, electric network, mining, laws regarding social life, transportation systems, all are somehow connected to it in subtle or obvious ways.

German grand strategy, as designed in the 1920s by Generals who were retired or dead in 1940, judged, as George Friedman says today, by the constraint of having enemies much superior in numbers and with much better access to global markets and to oceanic commerce and by the advantage of having one of the finest industrial basis in the world. Maybe the finest from 1900 to 1918, in the top three until 1942.

Juggling constraint and advantage together, they decided to do more with less:

- advanced mobile tactics to quickly disable forces vastly superior;
- better war machinery to serve the advanced mobile tactics.

They understood the complications in the German military technology, and judged they had to bite the bullet if this brought advantage in war.

Krupp Protze had the swinging half-axle suspension, built in the complex manner of a 1930-1970 sportscar, with tubular hand-welded arms, for the purpose behind it was to run at full speed on rough ground, with one tonne of payload on the platform. They might have made it simpler, but limit the off-road speed to about 30 km/h of wheeled tractors. Or limit the payload, which was already small to begin with.

Schachtellaufwerk type halftracks had each track pad running on roller bearings and lubricated pins, hundreds of small bearing sets assembled by hand for each machine, for they had been designed to hold high speeds over rough ground, with full load. Raupenschlepper Ost, Maultier or Schwerer Wehrmachtschlepper had much simpler running gear, but they were limited to less than 30 km/h on road. Maybe half that on rough ground.

Luftwaffe warplanes had complex direct-injection systems and power boosters 30 years ahead of the competition (literally: nitrous oxide and water-methanol became known by the general public in the late 1960s!) since they were designed for superior manoeuvrability at medium altitudes. They performed poorly at 10000-11000 meters, since nobody expected to fly against a B-29, which was not even on the drawing boards back then.

Everything was fine for military geeks and armchair generals - until the invasion of the Soviet Union blew to pieces the strategy of short, decisive campaigns. Overnight, there were needed 10 times as many machines to cover a giant expanse of land... and the German infrastructure geared for 20 years to make more with less realized it couldn't make them. You can't change in months what has been running for 20 years straight. As Werner von Braun said, when confronted to impossible demands in short time: "You can't impregnate 9 women and expect them to make a baby in one month!"

PS The inferiority of the Soviet technology had been acknowledged by Soviet Generals in the disastrous campaigns of 1941-1942. But they were rational enough to understand the constraints - what they could save from their industry war rebuilt piecemeal on distant lands, the trained manpower of 1940 was rotting alive in German camps. Zhukov's strategy was based on understanding the weakness of the German industry and logistics: as long as the Germans could not be opposed in direct combat, the only solution for the Soviets was to outlive them, at least 1 or 2 years. Despite all losses, suffering, hunger, they had to resist on the spot, no matter what. The hope for a decisive battle drove the Germans forward, and exactly this had to be denied to them, at all costs.
Good post. :thumbsup:
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by maltesefalcon » 26 Aug 2017 12:43

It was a very succinct analysis but had little to do with the topic at hand, German tank design. Despite the desire on the part of industry and the army to have the best quality afv, Germany started the war with tanks that in reality were not very good. It was the grouping of them in mass formations with heavy air and artillery support that made the Panzer divisions so formidable.
Germany created its best tanks after they had seen (and copied some features of) Russian tanks.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Paul Lakowski » 26 Aug 2017 20:53

Because of there boxy design , the German tanks had more internal volume than contemporary designs allowing them to operate more crews. This in turn allowed them to carry a separate tank commander to oversee control and deployment of the tanks and improve communications. Finally and potentially most important , this extra volume afforded better ergonomics on tank combat functions. Specifically having a dedicated loader allowed higher rates of fire over adversaries. Combined this helped them to win most tank clashes early in the war.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by maltesefalcon » 27 Aug 2017 05:23

Paul Lakowski wrote:Because of there boxy design , the German tanks had more internal volume than contemporary designs allowing them to operate more crews. This in turn allowed them to carry a separate tank commander to oversee control and deployment of the tanks and improve communications. Finally and potentially most important , this extra volume afforded better ergonomics on tank combat functions. Specifically having a dedicated loader allowed higher rates of fire over adversaries. Combined this helped them to win most tank clashes early in the war.
Sorry to disagree. The early war battles would be in Poland and France yes?

Both of these campaigns were conducted with relatively few PzIII and PzIV. The bulk of the armoured force in both campaigns was made up of the PZI, PZII, and the Czech T35 or T38. All of those tanks had only a four man crew, making the commander both gunner and leader.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Sheldrake » 27 Aug 2017 08:37

maltesefalcon wrote:
Paul Lakowski wrote:Because of there boxy design , the German tanks had more internal volume than contemporary designs allowing them to operate more crews. This in turn allowed them to carry a separate tank commander to oversee control and deployment of the tanks and improve communications. Finally and potentially most important , this extra volume afforded better ergonomics on tank combat functions. Specifically having a dedicated loader allowed higher rates of fire over adversaries. Combined this helped them to win most tank clashes early in the war.
Sorry to disagree. The early war battles would be in Poland and France yes?

Both of these campaigns were conducted with relatively few PzIII and PzIV. The bulk of the armoured force in both campaigns was made up of the PZI, PZII, and the Czech T35 or T38. All of those tanks had only a four man crew, making the commander both gunner and leader.
True. As become evident in many discussions about WW2 armour, the differences between the performance of tanks in battle cannot be reduced to a comparison of the physical technical features of each tank.

Guderian, who had a major role in defining German tank unit organisation, was a specialist in communications. German tank units had more tanks with radios. Their radios worked better than those of other countries. German units practised radio communications and trained to operate as a team. In 1940 they faced better armed and armoured French tanks which could barely communicate with each other.

A few posts earlier I posted an inaccuracy. German optics were not better than British. British tank men thought they were, but the big difference between the British and German armour in North Africa was in better German all arms tactics, which resulted in uncoordinated units of unsupported British armour facing a mix of tanks and anti tank guns.

The difference in performance more about software than hardware.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by maltesefalcon » 27 Aug 2017 11:41

Well said.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Paul Lakowski » 27 Aug 2017 22:09

I was referring to Russia 1941/42.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by maltesefalcon » 28 Aug 2017 00:13

Paul Lakowski wrote:I was referring to Russia 1941/42.
Then you would be referring to the mid-war period. Coincidentally the time when Wehrmacht realized their tanks were outmatched by Soviet versions.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Paul Lakowski » 28 Aug 2017 06:01

l 39-l40
l40-l41
----
l41-l42
l42-l43
----
l43-l44
l44-l45.

looks like the bridge between early & middle.

coincidently when the Wehrmacht realised that Hitler was wrong and numbers actually matter and they were wrong to follow his limited war economy.

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