Were German tanks over engineered?

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Cult Icon » 20 Dec 2021 17:32

The German MG mounts were definitely worth the cost given how important the MG was in anti-infantry combat. The Allied/Soviet ones were too primitive. You do not have make an anti-German argument for every single one of your unsourced what-if posts.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by PunctuationHorror » 20 Dec 2021 18:26

PunctuationHorror wrote:
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.
Another thought:
Given the systematic idiocy and braindeadness of hierarchies combined with the typical nitpicking just for reasons of pointless nitpicking and habitual humbling of subordinates, it could be the case that Guderian and others figured that it would be easier to tell the egg heads in higher command and Heereswaffenamt that two 'different' vehicles were needed just to get approval for the required numbers of tanks. Or to get at least one vehicle that could field a bigger gun. And historians later fell again for this scheme.
However, this pragmatic thinking along 'better two similar tanks with messy production than not enough tanks' produced many new problems.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 21 Dec 2021 03:20

T. A. Gardner wrote:
20 Dec 2021 16:55
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...
That is just one part of the definition of overengineering and I did list an example of complexity to be argued to be such (MG port and driver port).

But it is NOT overengineering when the complexity actually results in some tangible benefit, that would simply be quality engineering (which still isn't the greatest choice in a war at times).

German engines being shorter than usual but suffering some complexity isn't overengineering, it's just a design choice which has ups and downs. Overengineering would be an engine of standard size, with standard output, but having twice the number of pistons for some strange reason, or an engine being far heavier/larger and lasting a longer time which is un-needed.

I don't care too much for what the wikipedia says about the word, the word itself is pretty self explanatory. over (too much) engineering (building).

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 21 Dec 2021 03:24

PunctuationHorror wrote:
20 Dec 2021 15:46


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.

Sloping plates literally takes up internal volume, unless you increase the dimensions of the tank.

Say we have a cube, volume of 1cm cubed

We slope the armor at a 45 degree angle from one corner to the other, we now have .5cm cubed.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 21 Dec 2021 04:02

ThatZenoGuy wrote:
21 Dec 2021 03:20
That is just one part of the definition of overengineering and I did list an example of complexity to be argued to be such (MG port and driver port).

But it is NOT overengineering when the complexity actually results in some tangible benefit, that would simply be quality engineering (which still isn't the greatest choice in a war at times).

German engines being shorter than usual but suffering some complexity isn't overengineering, it's just a design choice which has ups and downs. Overengineering would be an engine of standard size, with standard output, but having twice the number of pistons for some strange reason, or an engine being far heavier/larger and lasting a longer time which is un-needed.

I don't care too much for what the wikipedia says about the word, the word itself is pretty self explanatory. over (too much) engineering (building).
Even if there are tangible benefits, if the resulting issues that arise from the design are larger and often not so visible negatives, then the item is likely overengineered.

Another example would be the German widespread use of interleaved and overlapped suspension systems. These have the tangible benefit of lowering ground pressure and giving a better ride. They have the negatives that they become easily impacted by mud and stones leading to damage and immobility. They are also more complex and harder to maintain. If there were, for example, a damaged inner wheel, you might have to disassemble several other wheels to get at the damaged one. More time in maintenance even though when the system works it's better.

Some typical over engineering processes

Bigger is better. The Maus is a good example of this

Massive upfront design for later improvement.

Adding low value features. A great example of this is in early German tanks is the number of vision ports and such added to the vehicle.

Image

Here you see a Pz IVE with vision flaps and ports in the side of the turret, side turret hatches, side of the hull for the crew there, their hatches, etc. All of these add complexity to manufacture while adding little to the final product.

Complexity that could be simplified. This usually occurs because the system is relatively new and as time goes on a complex system can become simpler because the engineers and users find ways to eliminate the initial complexity without compromising the system itself.

Feature creep. Adding on bells and whistles because of user demands when these really add little or nothing to the design.

Another example of over engineering from WW 2 is the electric drive tank. Ferdinand Porsche tried this because it was an "elegant" engineering solution for a heavy vehicle. It ended up rejected, but still saw service in the Ferdinand / Elefant tank. The US tested several tanks with such drives rejecting them too but none saw service.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 21 Dec 2021 04:07

T. A. Gardner wrote:
21 Dec 2021 04:02
Even if there are tangible benefits, if the resulting issues that arise from the design are larger and often not so visible negatives, then the item is likely overengineered.

Another example would be the German widespread use of interleaved and overlapped suspension systems. These have the tangible benefit of lowering ground pressure and giving a better ride. They have the negatives that they become easily impacted by mud and stones leading to damage and immobility. They are also more complex and harder to maintain. If there were, for example, a damaged inner wheel, you might have to disassemble several other wheels to get at the damaged one. More time in maintenance even though when the system works it's better.

Some typical over engineering processes

Bigger is better. The Maus is a good example of this

Massive upfront design for later improvement.

Adding low value features. A great example of this is in early German tanks is the number of vision ports and such added to the vehicle.

Image

Here you see a Pz IVE with vision flaps and ports in the side of the turret, side turret hatches, side of the hull for the crew there, their hatches, etc. All of these add complexity to manufacture while adding little to the final product.

Complexity that could be simplified. This usually occurs because the system is relatively new and as time goes on a complex system can become simpler because the engineers and users find ways to eliminate the initial complexity without compromising the system itself.

Feature creep. Adding on bells and whistles because of user demands when these really add little or nothing to the design.

Another example of over engineering from WW 2 is the electric drive tank. Ferdinand Porsche tried this because it was an "elegant" engineering solution for a heavy vehicle. It ended up rejected, but still saw service in the Ferdinand / Elefant tank. The US tested several tanks with such drives rejecting them too but none saw service.
I agree entirely with the electric drive and maus, too much stuff, for too little gain. If any gain at all. XD

But I have to play devils advocate with the overlapping suspension. The early (tiger 1H) suspension was a true mess which I have no clue why they decided upon it. But later suspensions were not interleaved but rather just overlapping, meaning at most you'd have to remove 2 wheels to get at the rear ones. Still not great but far better than the mess of interleaved wheels the earlier tanks had.

The claims of various items damaging the wheels I find a little dubious, these things are massive, heavily built and with a lot of horsepower behind them. A rock which would damage the suspension of a German tank would be sufficient to damage any other tank of the day.

Usage of torsion bars with the overlapping wheels did result in...A lot of bars being needed, which is a pain to manufacture and drill holes in the tanks for.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by Cult Icon » 21 Dec 2021 04:20

The usual TA Garner, biased made up drivel.

The vision ports all over the PzIII/IV not "low value features", rather high value ones.

The German MG mount was also high value, turning a "bullet hose" into a viable weapon. The T-34 MG mount was comparably terrible.

You have clearly not seen the interior of these vehicles. The various view ports give the crew information about what is going on around them. In contrast, the Panther/T-34 had too much blindness.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by David Thompson » 21 Dec 2021 05:19

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 21 Dec 2021 07:48

PunctuationHorror wrote:
20 Dec 2021 15:46
Your third point: You are contradicting yourself in the same sentence: 'nobody did that' ... 'Christie and French tanks featured sloping pretty well.'
Nobody had T-34esque homogeneous frontal plates, ergo 'nobody did that', however Christie and French tanks featured frontal sloping of a similar nature, although these are not as effective and more complex.

I think that's pretty accurate to say, although there might have been a few experimental tanks with plates, but I am not aware of any.

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by T. A. Gardner » 21 Dec 2021 17:03

Cult Icon wrote:
21 Dec 2021 04:20
The usual TA Garner, biased made up drivel.

The vision ports all over the PzIII/IV not "low value features", rather high value ones.

The German MG mount was also high value, turning a "bullet hose" into a viable weapon. The T-34 MG mount was comparably terrible.

You have clearly not seen the interior of these vehicles. The various view ports give the crew information about what is going on around them. In contrast, the Panther/T-34 had too much blindness.
If that's true, they why were most of these ports removed on later models of the tank? If the hull MG were so valuable, why were they discontinued on new tank designs starting towards the end of WW 2 and completely gone by the late 50's?

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Re: Were German tanks over engineered?

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 22 Dec 2021 03:45

T. A. Gardner wrote:
21 Dec 2021 17:03
If that's true, they why were most of these ports removed on later models of the tank? If the hull MG were so valuable, why were they discontinued on new tank designs starting towards the end of WW 2 and completely gone by the late 50's?
Vision ports weaken armor integrity, and cost extra. When you need more tanks, you gotta cut stuff somewhere.

The Panther tank went a bit too far, it seriously needed more vision devices for the crew, especially the gunner who had a very low FOV and nothing else.

The hull MG was a good way of making use of the radio-operator. Later tanks had sufficiently reliable and easy to use radios that the radioman was no longer needed, and thus the hull MG could be cut with no loss to tank effectiveness (nobody was around to use it anyways!)

In addition you can't really use a hull MG with composite armor, and in the end it typically is a weakpoint in the armor.

And it's not like hull MG's were completely dropped anyways, the various late/postwar American heavy prototypes had hull MG's, T-34's kept their hull MG's well after the war, as did Shermans, etc.

Israelies kept the hull MG into the early 70's apparently.

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