Were German tanks over engineered?

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Paul Lakowski
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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Paul Lakowski » 28 Aug 2017 18:03

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.

IS THERE any place were the exchange rates were examined in detail -taking into count loss rates reported by each side.

or is it just SHE SAID-HE SAID!!!

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Sheldrake
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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Sheldrake » 28 Aug 2017 18:16

Paul Lakowski wrote:
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.
IS THERE any place were the exchange rates were examined in detail -taking into count loss rates reported by each side.

or is it just SHE SAID-HE SAID!!!
The German French actions are examined in The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West by Karl-Heinz Frieser. However, the key metrics are not a blow by blow rivet counters delight, (though it does list casualty numbers.) Instead he highlights response times by the different commands. More OODA loops than final drives.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by maltesefalcon » 28 Aug 2017 18:22

Such an analysis would be more relevant if they were parsed by the reason for the losses. In other words, was it mines, mech issue, aircraft, or tank vs tank? Also it would be even better if the specifics of which tank caused the casualty. Pretty sure stats that finely tuned are not available. (Or even possible....fatally injured crews cannot report the exact reasons for their demise.)

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Paul Lakowski » 29 Aug 2017 04:54

The Blitzkrieg Legend the 1940 campaign in the west by KARL HEINZ FRIESER, sounds like buy, but its hard to believe nothing has been done about the eastern front.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 19 Dec 2021 13:03

Yodasgrandad wrote:
10 Jun 2017 01:14
I read alot about German tanks recently and am wondering if they needed more time and quality control to fix or remedy alot of issues with their tanks?

I.e. would a Tiger tank made in the 1930's be better than the ones made in 1942-44?
An old post but I've been going through the what-if segment to not make redundant threads.

But one of the most annoying things is when people don't know the meaning of words, 'over engineered' does not mean weak and frail, rather it means the opposite. Overengineering is a problem of weight and cost and ergonomics.

A 20 pound wrench to change a car battery is 'over engineered', yet is indestructible. While one may think an unbreakable wrench is a great idea, it's not so great when you have to deal with using the thing.

On the flipside a wrench weighing something like...50 grams for changing a car battery might be considered to be underengineered, that is to say there is not enough wrench for the task.

German tanks were not overengineered for the most part, if anything their faults is that there was too little final-drive for a given mass of tank. Otherwise their faults weren't 'too much tank/mechanism' but rather the layout of said tank was not very ergonomic.

Germany needed tanks which could be maintained quickly, efficiently, and most importantly with minimal tools. The Tiger 1 required the turret to be removed to change the transmission, this isn't really overengineering, this is just...Bad engineering.

On the flipside the Panther and King Tiger, as I understand it, could have it's transmission removed without removal of the turret.

An example of overengineering could be argued to be the machinegun and driver ports of some of their tanks. Although I use the term 'argued' because while rather complex and oversized, this actually led to tangible benefits.

Whereas most tanks had to aim with tracers for the hull machinegun, the Germans had what is effectively a fortress-mount for their tanks, allowing for extremely effective and accurate fire from them.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Cult Icon » 19 Dec 2021 14:09

The interior of the Panzer III/IV is actually quite clever and complex. There are a lot of viewing ports, besides the periscopes. The MG mounts were also very good and superior to what their opponents were using.

The Panther tank removed a lot of the viewing ports (I guess for more armor integrity??) which is decided disadvantage.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by PunctuationHorror » 19 Dec 2021 19:16

I never understood why German Army decided to operate two very similar vehicles of roughly the same weight and dimensions in parallel: Panzer III and IV. Instead of choosing ONE common chassis for mass production as early as 1937 they allowed two companies, Krupp and Daimler-Benz, each to build their own tank. When the Stug was conceived by the end of the 1930s, the step to one common chassis was even more obvious.

Since this thread is about engineering: Why no big sloped frontal armor plate on Panzer III, IV and Stug? Instead they opted for this cubic, stagged boxes-like appearance. Although cubic tank design was pretty common everywhere in the 1930s, it involves more metal working while it consumes roughly the same amount of steel which means there are no savings in weight compared to a sloped plate. Besides, a sloped frontal plate in P III and IV would generate a little more space. Sloped armour and its ballistic benefits were known and implemented in armoured cars (Sd.Kfz. 221, 231, etc.) by mid 1930s and even turrets of Panzers have it to a certain extent, so German Army and engineers deliberately decided against it in P III + IV.
Maybe the vertical glacis was a trade off between protection and accessiblility of the transmission. When they started fitting their tanks with additional armour in 1940/41 and cleaned up the ffront plate of P IV (removed the bay window of the driver) they could have implemented a sloped plate. They didn't for some reason. Later, with Jagdpanzer IV they chose differently and in the design of Panther, Konigstiger, Jagdpanther and Hetzer acessability of the front transmission seemed not to be of big importance anymore.

Next point: Germany had large programs to convert their obsolete tanks like 38(t) and Panzer II into tank destroyers (Marder), self-propelled artillery (Wespe) and self-propelled AA vehicles (Flakpanzer II, 38t).
However, they never went for a lower structure like Sweden did with their Stormartillerivagn https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stormartillerivagn_m/43: Image
Instead Germany fielded tall oddities like the Marders. Maybe installing the cannon backwards (= muzzle facing the back, barrel over the motor section, like the Archer) could keep the size low. Probably this was prevented by German doctrine: 'Tse German driver must not face tse rear!!'.

They could have used the Czech facilities to produce continuously the 38(t) chassis for a self-propelled artillery vehicle or a tank destroyer similar to the Stormartillerivagn instead of stopping the production of 38(t)s in 1942. Mounting a Pak on this chassis with a sloped superstructure would give a more primitive sort of a Hetzer two years earlier. With iterations in design and variants they would probably end up with a Hetzer anyways. Or they would redesign the chassis earlier - if they were better organized.

Or they would abandon the 38(t) and retool the Czech facilities as early as 1939 in favor for a common chassis for Panzers (PIII, PIV), Stugs and self-propelled artillery. One could ask further, why the Czech engineers did not use a sloped frontal plate for their ČKD LT vz. 38. The tank is a clean and nice design and as seen on the Swedish descendant, a sloped plate was possible.

Why no rear transmission in Panther and Tiger I + II? Without the drive shaft going through the vehicle, the tank could be smaller (less target area) and weight would be saved (to be put elsewhere on the vehicle, maybe in more length). With this, access to the transmission would be easier.
Or why has the Panther this superstructure over the tracks (like PIV and the Tigers) with sloped sides like the T-34? A more simpler, mass producible geometry like the T-54 was not beyond means of imagination. Basically, it's just a cuboid with sloped front plates on one of its 6 faces. Panzer III's hull too is just a cuboid with a square angled front plates on one of its 6 faces, pretty similar in concept. Details of the Soviet model like the 'invention' of reverse sloped armor on the sides to adapt a narrower hull to a lager turret ring diameter (Panther 1650mm vs T-54 1825mm) were not necessary at that time.

German Army and engineers never opted for an all purpose vehicle chassis - i.e. tanks, tank destroyers, self-propelled artillery, engineering tanks, etc are based on the same chassis. So by 1944 they had a even complexer mess of different types than in 1941: Wespe (PII chassis), Hetzer (38t chassis), Stug (PIII chassis), Jagdpanzer (PIV chassis), Hummel, Hornisse (PIII/IV chassis) in addition to Panthers as 'MBT' and Tigers as heavies. And were already working on the E-imaginations.

German tank production strategy was a disorganized short-sighted mess.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 20 Dec 2021 02:41

A few nitpicks/explanations.

For a given vertical height, sloped armor offers no savings in weight for a given LOS thickness. And instead consumes valuable internal volume unless the tank's dimensions are increased.

Also rear transmissions were not used in German tanks for the simple reason that the linkages to make rear transmissions work can be unreliable and difficult to use. Many of the T-34's issues with gear shifting is due to the linkages.

Marders were so tall due to the minimal modifications used to make them. Making them more sloped/lower profile would result in a longer production time. Germany needed SPG's yesterday, yet alone today. Any delays was not acceptable.

Panther had superstructure over the tracks to provide ammo storage and to also act something like mudguards. I think that anachronistic features like postwar soviet hull design and efficient torsion bars can apply to the rushed production Panther.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 Dec 2021 05:18

PunctuationHorror wrote:
19 Dec 2021 19:16
I never understood why German Army decided to operate two very similar vehicles of roughly the same weight and dimensions in parallel: Panzer III and IV. Instead of choosing ONE common chassis for mass production as early as 1937 they allowed two companies, Krupp and Daimler-Benz, each to build their own tank.
Possibly because the two vehicles grew out of two different requirements from two different roles. If you look back to the discussions & modeling of requirements for armored formations, by Guderian and the others, you will see a concept of a armored 'battle' or assault vehicle and another for a armored support vehicle. Krupp was awarded the contract to build one & Daimler Benz the other. Over time the MkIII was discontinued as it had dimensional limits on adding larger cannons & related improvements. The Mk IV was easier to adapt to a configuration as a battle tank than upgrading the MkIII to new requirements. While your argument for a common chassis has merit it was not clear when the specifications were written the need for a battle or assault vehicle and a support vehicle would lead to redundant chassis.
PunctuationHorror wrote:
19 Dec 2021 19:16
German tank production strategy was a disorganized short-sighted mess.
One can blame the nazis. Otherwise one can regard it as business as usual. Regard the French who had in production a dozen different models covering three roles of light reconnaissance, infantry support, and heavy assault types. or the Brits & their many models of the 1930s.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by PunctuationHorror » 20 Dec 2021 13:50

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
20 Dec 2021 05:18
PunctuationHorror wrote:
19 Dec 2021 19:16
I never understood why German Army decided to operate two very similar vehicles of roughly the same weight and dimensions in parallel: Panzer III and IV. Instead of choosing ONE common chassis for mass production as early as 1937 they allowed two companies, Krupp and Daimler-Benz, each to build their own tank.
Possibly because the two vehicles grew out of two different requirements from two different roles. If you look back to the discussions & modeling of requirements for armored formations, by Guderian and the others, you will see a concept of a armored 'battle' or assault vehicle and another for a armored support vehicle. Krupp was awarded the contract to build one & Daimler Benz the other. Over time the MkIII was discontinued as it had dimensional limits on adding larger cannons & related improvements. The Mk IV was easier to adapt to a configuration as a battle tank than upgrading the MkIII to new requirements. While your argument for a common chassis has merit it was not clear when the specifications were written the need for a battle or assault vehicle and a support vehicle would lead to redundant chassis.
These different roles boil down themselves to a different gun. Therefore, the mistake was a theoretical one and happened long before contracts were given to a manufacturer. In 1936, after both vehicles were created and prototypes came into existance, similarities between both vehicles/concepts were apparent. This would have been the time to clean the matters up. However, it did not happen. Reasons like German parallel system, competence haggling everywhere and unfamiliarity with industrial mass production among other unsound matters prevented any rational approach. It took three years until serial production of P III started in autumn 1939, while serial production of P IV started in autumn 1937, two years earlier. There were big problems with organization, management and coordination of production. So this mess was created long before the war started. Ordering P II was a similar thing. Wehrmacht system had no idea about industry and production and behaved like a feudal lord or a spoiled bratty girl who does not know what she wants and changes her 'demands' thrice before midday. And of course, all has to be done immediately with 'the highest priority'.
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
20 Dec 2021 05:18
PunctuationHorror wrote:
19 Dec 2021 19:16
German tank production strategy was a disorganized short-sighted mess.
One can blame the nazis. Otherwise one can regard it as business as usual. Regard the French who had in production a dozen different models covering three roles of light reconnaissance, infantry support, and heavy assault types. or the Brits & their many models of the 1930s.
It's a mixture of both with tendence to the latter. All systems, French, British, US, Soviet, German, Italian etc had and still have similar issues. Some produce better results, other don't. Some have working checking methods that keep them functional, while others run themselves only deeper into disfunctionality.
Last edited by PunctuationHorror on 20 Dec 2021 14:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by PunctuationHorror » 20 Dec 2021 14:09

ThatZenoGuy wrote:
20 Dec 2021 02:41
A few nitpicks/explanations.

For a given vertical height, sloped armor offers no savings in weight for a given LOS thickness. And instead consumes valuable internal volume unless the tank's dimensions are increased.
[...]
Please show me in this picture how a sloped plate in the front consumes valuable internal volume:
Image

Hint: extend the 55 degree plate (and increase the angle a bit towards 60°).

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 20 Dec 2021 14:40

PunctuationHorror wrote:
20 Dec 2021 14:09
ThatZenoGuy wrote:
20 Dec 2021 02:41
A few nitpicks/explanations.

For a given vertical height, sloped armor offers no savings in weight for a given LOS thickness. And instead consumes valuable internal volume unless the tank's dimensions are increased.
[...]
Please show me in this picture how a sloped plate in the front consumes valuable internal volume:
Image

Hint: extend the 55 degree plate (and increase the angle a bit towards 60°).
Now you have to design a whole new driver view port and machinegun port, something Germany didn't even manage to figure out 100% by the Panther D historically. Only with the A was this actually managed.

Not to mention now the front might weigh more due to the homogenous heavier plate, so suspension changes, weight rebalances, etc.

Nothing is stopping Germany from starting off with sloped tanks ala T-34, but simply put nobody did that, especially on tanks like the Panzer 3/4. Only really the Christie and French tanks featured sloping pretty well.

Notice that technically the Panzer 3's front IS sloped, the LFP is sloped backwards as much as the transmission will allow, and so is the UFP aside from the driver/machinegun plate.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by PunctuationHorror » 20 Dec 2021 15:46

ThatZenoGuy wrote:
20 Dec 2021 14:40
PunctuationHorror wrote:
20 Dec 2021 14:09
ThatZenoGuy wrote:
20 Dec 2021 02:41
A few nitpicks/explanations.

For a given vertical height, sloped armor offers no savings in weight for a given LOS thickness. And instead consumes valuable internal volume unless the tank's dimensions are increased.
[...]
Please show me in this picture how a sloped plate in the front consumes valuable internal volume:


Hint: extend the 55 degree plate (and increase the angle a bit towards 60°).
Now you have to design a whole new driver view port and machinegun port, something Germany didn't even manage to figure out 100% by the Panther D historically. Only with the A was this actually managed.

Not to mention now the front might weigh more due to the homogenous heavier plate, so suspension changes, weight rebalances, etc.

Nothing is stopping Germany from starting off with sloped tanks ala T-34, but simply put nobody did that, especially on tanks like the Panzer 3/4. Only really the Christie and French tanks featured sloping pretty well.

Notice that technically the Panzer 3's front IS sloped, the LFP is sloped backwards as much as the transmission will allow, and so is the UFP aside from the driver/machinegun plate.
Your first point: It was done historically when they had to deal with it and everyone else managed to do it, too.

To the second one: Nice try to distract from your ludicrous wrong statement concerning internal slopes and volumes etc. I see, understanding basic maths and physics is not for everyone but these nasty things that trigger unpleasant feelings of incapability DO matter.
Now he comes with 'the front might weigh more'. There is a easy way to find out, no need for 'migh's, ifs and magic: it can be calculated. To cal..cu..late something. I know, I know, how dare I. What a terrible, outraging idea.

Your third point: You are contradicting yourself in the same sentence: 'nobody did that' ... 'Christie and French tanks featured sloping pretty well.'

Your fourth point: It is not about the lower frontal plate. You missed my point.

Congratulations. You played yourself. Empty rhetorics only for the sake that 'something' is said.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Michael Kenny » 20 Dec 2021 16:02

Look at how The Chieftain tank dealt with the driver headroom problem

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 20 Dec 2021 16:55

ThatZenoGuy wrote:
19 Dec 2021 13:03
Yodasgrandad wrote:
10 Jun 2017 01:14
I read alot about German tanks recently and am wondering if they needed more time and quality control to fix or remedy alot of issues with their tanks?

I.e. would a Tiger tank made in the 1930's be better than the ones made in 1942-44?
An old post but I've been going through the what-if segment to not make redundant threads.

But one of the most annoying things is when people don't know the meaning of words, 'over engineered' does not mean weak and frail, rather it means the opposite. Overengineering is a problem of weight and cost and ergonomics.

A 20 pound wrench to change a car battery is 'over engineered', yet is indestructible. While one may think an unbreakable wrench is a great idea, it's not so great when you have to deal with using the thing.

On the flipside a wrench weighing something like...50 grams for changing a car battery might be considered to be underengineered, that is to say there is not enough wrench for the task.

German tanks were not overengineered for the most part, if anything their faults is that there was too little final-drive for a given mass of tank. Otherwise their faults weren't 'too much tank/mechanism' but rather the layout of said tank was not very ergonomic.

Germany needed tanks which could be maintained quickly, efficiently, and most importantly with minimal tools. The Tiger 1 required the turret to be removed to change the transmission, this isn't really overengineering, this is just...Bad engineering.

On the flipside the Panther and King Tiger, as I understand it, could have it's transmission removed without removal of the turret.

An example of overengineering could be argued to be the machinegun and driver ports of some of their tanks. Although I use the term 'argued' because while rather complex and oversized, this actually led to tangible benefits.

Whereas most tanks had to aim with tracers for the hull machinegun, the Germans had what is effectively a fortress-mount for their tanks, allowing for extremely effective and accurate fire from them.
No, over-engineered usually means something that has unnecessary complexity in manufacture or end use. An example of this from German automobiles is the BMW having the battery in the trunk for better weight distribution. Sure, it puts something like a 10 to 15 kg weigh in the rear of the vehicle to even weight distribution out, but now you have to have much longer cable leads, and the battery is difficult to access when you need to service or change it.

The machinegun for the radio operator in the front hull is to some degree an over-engineered system. Unlike Allied tanks where this gun was usually just a bullet hose aimed by iron sights or the 'spray and pray' method, the Germans gave theirs a telescopic sight, and a mounting that helped steady the gunner's aim.

Image

While this made the gun somewhat more useful, the complexity probably wasn't worth the effort.

Or, if German armor was given a machined finish resulting in a finer plate finish, this might have been unnecessary and an engineering step that could be eliminated.

As to maintenance, the German engineers clearly paid less attention to this than they did to making an efficient fighting machine. It was sort of a race car mentality. Build it to be very efficient at what it does on race day but leave it nearly useless the rest of the time. The US built equipment to be your reliable everyday driver, but it wasn't going to win on race day. But race day comes only once in a while...
The Russians built something simple and easy to fix. If it broke, fix it with the few tools on hand. You could do it. If it was running, great! Make a lot like the US did. The British seemed to design tanks by committee...

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