AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

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Michael Dorosh
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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by Michael Dorosh » 15 Apr 2008 14:09

Username wrote:Any way you slice it, the US Army had a shortage of Medium tanks fielded during the ETO. In my opinion, this was due to them bringing weak tanks and even weaker light tanks to begin with. The 75mm M4 and the 37mm M5 were not the offensive weapons that were needed in the later half of 1944. The US Army was on an offensive mission to bring the war to a conclusion.

The shortage was due to AFV loss rates as the name of this thread implies. The inability to supply replacements and battlefield 'returns' from a nation that could produce so many tanks is damning evidence.

The US Army was well aware of the capability of German high velocity weapons. The 88mm had been encountered and captured. The 75mmL46 antitank gun had been fielded and encountered also. The Panzer IV 'special' was also known to be a standard weapon by 1944. The Tiger had been captured by the British as well as the Soviets. The Panther was known to be better than the Panzer IV at least. The StuG was known to be a tank killer on the Eastern Front also (The Allied Air Force targeted its manufacturing). At the least, the US Army must have known that they would be facing superior guns.

Since both the shipping constraints (tonnage) and bridge constraints (see earlier post about 90mm weapons development) were limitations on gross vehicle weight, the US Army should have put more effort into bringing bigger guns. I believe for the same weight as a M5 you could bring a M18 Hellcat (for example). All 76mm M4 should have been landed. All 105mm M4 should have displaced 75mm on ships and in companies.

In the field, any means to keep 76mm weapons on-line was done. I beleive the 105mm weapon could also be 'swapped-in' by design and they could have more battle days. So the basic M4 design was field 'modded' to keep things 'gunned-up'. The M5 was basically a dead-end design and brought little to the party. It was bringing a knife to a gun fight.

The need to get 90mm weapons on mobile platforms was known before D-Day and shot down by the bosses. After D-Day, when it hit the fan, M36 became available later and slowly.

But something like the M36B1 (90mm on a M4 sherman chassis) should have been available as a field refit. The kit should have been a fore-thought to D-Day since heavier armor might have been encountered. I don't accept the basic premise that the allies could have been as stupid as they acted.

This kit would allow some upgunning if needed. The kit would not have taken up as much space on ships as a full blown vehicle. Since many tanks are KO'd by the loss of the turret and retaining a working chassis, there would have been an opportunity to up-gun on the fly.

The basic sherman company in WWII should have had three mixed 76mm and 75mm M4 for platoons and a fourth platoon at the company HQ that fielded two M4/105mm and also two M36B1 type vehicles. This would have given them organic firepower that addressed most armor they encountered.

The light tank company should have been removed and replaced with a small squadren of M8 armored cars/jeeps.
You're all over the place with your argument, and none of it takes into account the reality that the Allies were producing the Sherman in great numbers. They couldn't stop production on the tank they were fielding in the greatest numbers before the Invasion and retool - to what, exactly? The M26 Pershing? The Comet? They wouldn't have been available in the numbers necessary.

The M5 light tanks were used in British and Canadian armoured regiments for reconnaissance also - there apparently was a requirement for them. It is interesting to note that the armoured reconnaissance regiments of the armoured divisions were organized identically to armoured regiments (i.e. with Sherman or Cromwell tanks), but each regiment (battalion) had its own light tanks. Did they need them or did they simply not have enough medium tanks? Either way, the answer kind of lies back in the factories in my opinion.

Most of your doctrinal arguments are elementary,unsupported and simply argumentative. By the autumn of 1944 German heavy armour wasn't a large threat in the west, so upgunning everything on the front to high velocity 76 and 90mm guns would simply have detracted from the main role the armour was playing by that point - infantry support. Take a look at the fighting in the Huertgen, the Scheldt or the Rhineland for an example of what the tanks' main purpose was.

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by Username » 15 Apr 2008 14:20

Yes. sherman production was 'all over the place'. Review the information earlier in this thread about the number of actual production points producing M4. They wouldn't have to 'stop production'. So your wrong again.

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by Michael Dorosh » 15 Apr 2008 14:31

Username wrote:Yes. sherman production was 'all over the place'. Review the information earlier in this thread about the number of actual production points producing M4. They wouldn't have to 'stop production'. So your wrong again.
Wrong again? I'm sorry, what else was I wrong about?

But of course they would have had to stop production in order to produce something different. You're presuming they would have known in 1942 that they needed 90mm guns in Normandy in June 1944. They didn't even know that they were landing in France in 1944 at that date. In mid 1942, the Americans were still convinced that the key to winning the war was a landing in France immediately - look up operation ROUNDUP. There were then plans for an invasion in 1943, until the Italian campaign was offered up as a sideshow - where armour played a decidedly less decisive role.

Your arguments seem to be made firmly in hindsight and without taking into account the overall strategic pictures involved.

All of which belies the fact that the doctrine of tanks vs. tank destroyers was firmly implanted. The British also had separate anti-tank units, where the 17-pounder guns were used. There were some terrible slaughters of Allied armour in Normandy, but from what I can tell, at least from the British/Canadian side, they came from poor deployments -the British Columbia Regiment going up the wrong hill in the middle of the night, or the unfortunates caught at Villiers-Bocage. After Normandy, it was normal for the tank battalions/regiments not to encounter German armour at all, or in small numbers, so retooling the entire AFV line would have been expensive and wasteful - especially to re-equip all the light tank units also.

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by RichTO90 » 15 Apr 2008 15:45

Username wrote:Yes the allies knew the Panther had improved armor over the Panzer IV. That is the way I see it. The information was available.

If you can't bring extra armor, then bring extra gun. The Germans brought BOTH!
Logically then the only answer available was to delay NEPTUNE to May 1945. Production of the M4 (76mm - w) did not begin until January 1944, for very practical reasons. Production of the M4 (105mm) began in February, again for very simple practical reasons. As mentioned before the T/E requirement was for 1,765 as of 30 May in ETOUSA. IIRC about 144 of those should have been M4 (105mm). Given the aforementioned minimum 75-day turnaround time and the actual production schedule, then somewhere between two and 57 M4 (105mm) and 266 to 487 M4 (76mm) would have been available. Given that 113 M4 (76mm) had actually arrived and 40 were in route we have a pretty good measure of the practical wartime transportation capability; something less than half of the minimum expected above (113 of 266). That shouldn't be a surprise considering that ROUNDUP had been in place for about ten months to get the 3,084 M4 in the ETOUSA on 30 May 1944 to England.

And that is going to be cutting it fine, since the actual decision on the M4A1 (76M1) wasn't reached until 3 May 1943. If that had been decided differently then the result would have been a 76mm-armed M4 with all the faults of the early M4, with a better gun, but poor and dangerous ammo stowage (no wet stowage) and a rate of fire probably something on the order of the M4 17-pdr (in other words, poor). But that at least gives a minimum potential for acheiving the goal of replacing all 75mm armed M4 in England with 76mm-armed prior to 6 June 1944. But the M4E5 (prototype 105mm) wasn't even ready until August 1943, the likelihood of gettin sufficiant production there is small. As for the 90mm that is even more problematic, unless you want to try to replace all M4 (75mm) with M36 (also problematic, production didn't begin until April 1944). There the problem was that the 90mm gun as designed could not be used in a tank. It had to be completely redesigned. But development of the 90mm M3 Tank Gun did not begin until late 1942 and continued through early 1943 at which point the Army had a practical 90mm tank gun design, the M3, but it was 4Q43 before production space was available (they were producing 90mm M1 AA guns). Yet again a bit of magic would be required for them to "know" in early 1943 that they needed to rush that process through because that gun was going to be a must have in June 1944.

So assuming that the "information was available" (which ignores when it actually was available and also ignores when the conclusions you now so blythly draw today with the benefit of 64 years of hindsight would have been drawn then), then practically speaking to acheive your goal requires that the US be capable of magically beginning production of the programmed improvements to the M4 about six to ten ahead of schedule, and/or magically improving the speed of their trans-oceanic shipping capability. Did they get an Easy Button™ from Staples that allows them to do that?

In other words it can be argued that anything was possible in a fantasy "what if" timeline. Perfect intelligence assessment, perfect design and production decisions, perfect shipping schedules, all "could have" resulted in the tank park of the ETOUSA being composed of M4 (90mm) and M4 (105mm)....or even M25 and M26. But practically speaking it is unlikely.

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by Andreas » 15 Apr 2008 16:47

Username wrote:If you can't bring extra armor, then bring extra gun. The Germans brought BOTH!
At a 50% weight penalty. More than one year later. With dubious reliability at first. With still totally insufficient armour on the sides.

It's not as if this choice, namely of not choosing, came free.

All the best

Andreas

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by Michael Emrys » 15 Apr 2008 17:15

An off-topic post has been removed by moderator.

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by Username » 15 Apr 2008 19:15

The Pz-Kw 5 (Panther) Tank" from Tactical and Technical Trends
Initial report on new German Panther tank based on Russian intelligence sources, from Tactical and Technical Trends, Nov. 4, 1943. The Panther tank was first deployed on the Russian front, and initial intelligence on the Panther tank was based on Russian sources.
[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on the German Panther tank published for Allied soldiers. More accurate data on the Panther tank is available in postwar publications.]





THE PZ-KW 5 (PANTHER) TANK

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The German tank series 1 to 6 has now been filled in with the long-missing PzKw 5 (Panther) a fast, heavy, well-armored vehicle mounting a long 75-mm gun. It appears to be an intermediate type between the 22-ton PzKw 4 and the PzKw 6 (Tiger) tank. The Panther has a speed of about thirty-one miles per hour. It approximates (corresponds roughly to) our General Sherman, a tank which evoked complimentary comment in the Nazi press.

The following is a description of the tank: (It should be noted that practically all data contained in this report come from Russian sources).

Weight - 45 tons
Crew - 5
Armament - 75-mm (2.95 in) gun, long barrel, (1943); 1 machine gun, MG-42, 7.92-mm
Ammunition - 75 rounds (AP & HE)
Motor - Maybach, gasoline, 640 hp in rear of tank; the gas tanks are located on either side of motor
Cooling system - water
Ignition - magneto
Armor - front of turret and cannon shield 100 mm (3.94 in); upper front plate 85 mm (3.45 in) 57° inclination; lower front plate 75 mm (2.95 in) 53° inclination; side and rear plate 45 mm (1.78 in); top of turret & tank and bottom of tank 17 mm (.67 in)
Dimensions:
width - 11 ft 8 in (same as the PzKw 6)
length - 22 ft 8 in (1 1/2 ft longer than the PzKw 6)
clearance - 1 ft 8 in (10 cm)(3.9 in) more than the PzKw 6)
Caterpillar section - drive sprockets at front; rear idlers; 8 double rubber-tired bogie wheels 850 mm (33.46 in) in diameter on either side; torsion suspension system; hydraulic shock absorbers located inside tank; metal caterpillar tread 660 mm (25.62 in) wide
Maximum speed - 50 km hr. (approx. 31 mph)
Range - 170 km (approx. 105 miles)


The 75-mm gun is probably the new Pak. 41 AT gun with a muzzle velocity of 4,000 foot-seconds. The estimated armor penetration at 547 yards is 4.72 inches, and the life of the barrel from 500 to 600 rounds. The gun has direct sights to 1,500 meters or 1,640 yards. The 75-mm has an overall length of 18 feet 2 inches.

The Panther can also be easily converted for fording deep streams by attaching a flexible tube with float to the air intake. There is a special fitting in the top rear of the tank for attaching this tube.

Although provided with smaller armor and armament than the 6, the Panther has the same motor, thus giving it higher speed and maneuverability. This tank is also provided with light armor plate (not shown in the sketch) 4 to 6 millimeters thick along the side just above the suspension wheels and the inclined side armor plate.




Panther tanks are organized into separate tank battalions similar to the Tiger tanks. Many of these tanks have been used by the Germans during the July and August battles. The Russians state that this tank, although more maneuverable, is much easier to knock out than the PzKw 6. Fire from all types of rifles and machine guns directed against the peep holes, periscopes and the base of the turret and gun shield will blind or jam the parts. High-explosives and armor-piercing shells of 54-mm (2.12 in) caliber or higher, at 800 meters (875 yds) or less, are effective against the turret. Large caliber artillery and self-propelled cannon can put the Panther out of action at ordinary distances for effective fire. The inclined and vertical plates can be pierced by armor-piercing shells of 45 mm (1.78 in) caliber or higher. Incendiary armor-piercing shells are especially effective against the gasoline tanks and the ammunition located just in the rear of the driver.

The additional 4 to 6 mm (.157 to .236 in) armor plate above the suspension wheels is provided to reduce the penetration of hollow-charge shells but the Russians state that it is not effective. Antitank grenades, antitank mines and "Molotov cocktails" are effective against the weak bottom and top plates and the cooling and ventilating openings on the top of the tank just above the motor.

This tank is standard but the quantity and rate of production is not known.




Last edited by Username on 15 Apr 2008 19:33, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by Username » 15 Apr 2008 19:20

That is a pretty accurate report. Especially the fact that it was bringing a bigger better 75mm gun and that it had a armored front.

Whether the Panther did not pay a premium for this firepower/protection is not the topic at hand (it did). But the fact remains that the allies were aware of it a half year before D-Day.

Most AFV in 1944 had armor that was vulnerable.
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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by Username » 15 Apr 2008 19:31

http://www.lonesentry.com/ferdinandpanther/index.html



"Ferdinand & the Panther" from Journal of Recognition
Below is an article on the German Ferdinand self-propelled gun and Panther tank from the February 1944 issue of Journal of Recognition. The Ferdinand (officially Sturmgeschütz mit 8.8 cm PaK 43/2) and Panther (officially Panzerkampfwagen V Ausf D) both first appeared in combat during the Battle of Kursk in July 1943. During the battle and ensuing counterattack, the Russians captured several examples of the Ferdinand and Panther allowing for detailed analysis.

More pictures of self-propelled "88" and PzKw Mark V reveal details of new Nazi weapons

LACK OF RETURN ROLLERS TO TAKE UP SLACK IN TRACK GIVES MOTIVE GEAR OF FERDINAND A DILAPIDATED LOOK. CHASSIS BOW IS LONG BUT GUN BARREL LONGER.


The Germans have been hurling their heaviest armored equipment against the Russians. Recently silhouettes and more pictures of the two newest Nazi armored threats encountered on the Russian front, Ferdinand and the Panther (see Journal Nov. and Dec.), have been made available to the Journal, are shown on these two pages.
Ferdinand is a tremendous 70-ton self-propelled mount which carries an 88-mm. gun on a chassis built to offer maximum resistance to enemy firepower. The thickness of Ferdinand's armor plate is as much as 8 in. on the front, intended to make the mount serve as a battering ram to clear the way for lighter armored vehicles of the Nazi anti-tank battalions. There are usually 44 of these self-propelled "88's" in one heavy battalion and each one carries a crew of six. Although the mighty firepower and armor of Ferdinand make it a dangerous opponent, it has been proved to be quite vulnerable. Unwieldy and underpowered for its great size, it can travel only 12 m.p.h. on a highway and 6 to 9 m.p.h. on rough ground; to fire, it must come to a full stop. When Ferdinand is attacked by more that one opponent at a time, its fixed weapon is a great handicap. Russians concentrate their artillery attacks on Ferdinand's mobile parts which break down readily under the great weight of the chassis; also on the gun installation and on the gas tanks in the center of the hull. Grenades and Molotov cocktails hurled through a large shell-case ejection opening in the rear of the mount will blast the twin electric motors located directly inside.



HUGE BOW OF PANTHER SLOPES UP TO IMPOSING HEIGHT. TURRET HAS ROUNDED FORWARD WALL RESEMBLING RUSSIAN T-34. ARMOR PLATE PROTECTS SUSPENSION.


A new heavy tank in the German arsenal, the 45-ton PzKw Mark V series to bridge the gap between the 22-ton Mark IV and the 60-ton Mark VI, Tiger. This tank, which is called the Panther, appears to be a first-class vehicle, fast, well-armored and hard-hitting. It has the advantage of being swifter and more maneuverable than the Tiger but at the same time is easier to knock out because of lighter armor protection. Its long-barreled 75-mm. gun with double-baffle muzzle brake is a new weapon which has a high velocity, considerable armor penetration, and direct sights up to a distance of 1,640 yd.
Like the Tiger, the Panther can be converted for deep stream fording. It has a speed of 31 m.p.h. and carries a crew of five. Its heaviest armor plate, on the front of the turret and the cannon shield, is about 3.94 in. thick. The top and bottom of the tank are lightly armored and are especially vulnerable to grenade fire.
RECOGNITION: The huge coffinlike gunshield of Ferdinand, set well to rear, has sloping sides and top. Hull is rectangular and straight-sided. Six large evenly-spaced bogie wheels support track approximately 2 1/2 ft. wide.
The Panther is built close to the ground with a low center of gravity. Its turret sides flow in sloping line into the sides of the hull. The turret is slab-sided and set slightly to the rear of center with a cupola at the back. The 75-mm. gun barrel is extremely long. From the side, the Panther's hull is sharply undercut behind. Eight overlapping bogie wheels on each side with driving sprocket in front are typical of German-designed suspension systems.

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by RichTO90 » 15 Apr 2008 19:55

Username wrote:That is a pretty accurate report. Especially the fact that it was bringing a bigger better 75mm gun and that it had a armored front.
Interesting spin. :D

"Bigger better 75mm gun"?
long 75-mm gun
No assessment if it is better, but that of course may be assumed from the estimated Mv, which was actually exaggerated. But 75mm was the same as the tank it was assumed it was supplementing, so how is it bigger?

"it had a armored front"?

Yes, most tanks do. :D

But notice the multitude of "vulnerabilities" described.
Although provided with smaller armor and armament than the [Pz] 6....[it] is much easier to knock out than the PzKw 6. Fire from all types of rifles and machine guns directed against the peep holes, periscopes and the base of the turret and gun shield will blind or jam the parts. High-explosives and armor-piercing shells of 54-mm (2.12 in) caliber or higher, at 800 meters (875 yds) or less, are effective against the turret. Large caliber artillery and self-propelled cannon can put the Panther out of action at ordinary distances for effective fire. The inclined and vertical plates can be pierced by armor-piercing shells of 45 mm (1.78 in) caliber or higher. Incendiary armor-piercing shells are especially effective against the gasoline tanks and the ammunition located just in the rear of the driver.
Oh, and of course....
It approximates (corresponds roughly to) our General Sherman, a tank which evoked complimentary comment in the Nazi press.
:lol:
Whether the Panther did not pay a premium for this firepower/protection is not the topic at hand (it did). But the fact remains that the allies were aware of it a half year before D-Day.
Yes, aware of it. Even encountered it. But nothing in that assessment above or the actual experience of encountering it in Italy in late February gave any cause for alarm, it was believed to be essentially an upgraded Panzer-IV designed for mass production, bringing the standard German medium tank lineup to where it "approximates (corresponds roughly to) our General Sherman".

Of course it still begs the question as to what was to be done, assuming that on 4 November 1943 the powers that be read that report and said "zounds! We must immediatly do something to ensure that we have better tanks than that on 6 June 1944!" (assuming they knew it was going to be 6 June, which they didn't, since the Initial Joint Plan didn't even exist then). So 215 days, the clock is ticking, and the plants producing the M4 are already reducing production so as to retool for the new generation (Nov 43 - 1,187, Dec 43 - 1,070, Jan 44 - 672, Feb 44 - 519, down from an annual peak of 2,401 in July....and the Brits are kvetching about the 400 we owe them while the Soviets want the 1,700 they were promised :D ). Better act fast and make the right decisions, shouting "you gotta do something" isn't going to accomplish much. :D

But what is actually very interesting is the difference between the assessment of November 1943, which was based on imperfect data from the Soviets, and the opinion in the full technical assessment made in May 1944. I'll see if I can dig it out and post some of it tonight.

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by Andreas » 15 Apr 2008 19:58

Username wrote:That is a pretty accurate report. Especially the fact that it was bringing a bigger better 75mm gun and that it had a armored front.

Whether the Panther did not pay a premium for this firepower/protection is not the topic at hand (it did). But the fact remains that the allies were aware of it a half year before D-Day.
Nobody is disputing that they were aware of it, Rich has already posted that they had information from Nov. 43. What is in dispute is the reliability of the early information, and in particular the ability to base a production programme decision on it.

I also suggest that you do not go down the road of putting statements into other people's mouths that they have not made. I can categorically assure you that we have absolutely no time for members who engage in strawmen debates.

Regards

Andreas

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by Username » 15 Apr 2008 20:01

http://www.lonesentry.com/photoalbums/S ... index.html

The 759th supposedly recieved M24 first in December 1944. I would also assume this would have been its initial combat trials.

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by Andreas » 15 Apr 2008 20:25

Two more OT posts were removed by me.

Lewis - if you have issues with the moderation, use the PM function.

Thanks.

Andreas

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by RichTO90 » 15 Apr 2008 20:32

Username wrote:The 759th supposedly recieved M24 first in December 1944. I would also assume this would have been its initial combat trials.
Sorry, I had forgotten I was going to look at that.

It could be that the 759th may have been the first, but that isn't supported by the available Daily Tank Status Reports of 12th Army Group. Unfortunately those do not actually report any present with the 759th before the end of the war? Somewhere I have the wars end summary reports for the ETO Armor Force (they are the source of the total losses numbers given by Michael Kenny earlier), that may clear it up?

Anyway the first mention the M24 is on 25 December (Merry Christmas!? :D ) 1944. As of 2200 the 740th reported two of its eight operational light tanks were M24 (evidently the two they had picked up when rushed to the front on 18/19 December after picking up vehicles at a "British" depot....Colonel Rubel had a habit of grabbing stuff like that, he also grabbed a couple of M12 GMC to punch holes in the Stoumont Sanatorium.... :D ). Otherwise the 744th Tank Battalion (L) reported that 18 of its 58 operational light tanks were M24.

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Re: AFV Loss Rates in US 12th. Army Group

Post by Username » 15 Apr 2008 20:47

Andreas wrote:
Username wrote:That is a pretty accurate report. Especially the fact that it was bringing a bigger better 75mm gun and that it had a armored front.

Whether the Panther did not pay a premium for this firepower/protection is not the topic at hand (it did). But the fact remains that the allies were aware of it a half year before D-Day.
Nobody is disputing that they were aware of it, Rich has already posted that they had information from Nov. 43. What is in dispute is the reliability of the early information, and in particular the ability to base a production programme decision on it.

I also suggest that you do not go down the road of putting statements into other people's mouths that they have not made. I can categorically assure you that we have absolutely no time for members who engage in strawmen debates.

Regards

Andreas
The definition of who 'they' is needs to be addressed.

Rich made an earlier sarcastic remark about troops reading reports on the boats going over on D-Day. If you look at the dates and the actual publications (Tactical Trends, Journal of Recognition), then it disputes his earlier claim (that he may have edited by now). That is, the troops AND the Powers that Be had previous knowledge of virtually all armor they would face!

And the intel was correct. To not have at least a contingincy plan in place was criminal. As you can read in my earlier post regarding the 90mm gun development, forces were jockying for having this weapon pre-D-Day.

Rich can snipe and nickle-and-dime this thread. He can nit-pick and post partial data. You seem to be OK with that. But I think you should consider your moderation methods. And I do not PM.

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