5 Shermans 1 Tiger/Panther Myth?

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Michael Kenny
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5 Shermans 1 Tiger/Panther Myth?

Postby Michael Kenny » 02 Aug 2003 02:58

US and British tank losses June to August 1944 2100.
German tank losses June to July 400. (Guess for August 500?) 900
Ratio about 2:1.
Total Tigers lost June to August 130.
Panthers same period 350(?)
That is 480:2100 or about 4.5:1
So that would mean that to acheive our 5:1 ratio the other 2000 German tanks/sp's never scored a hit never mind the 1000's of AT guns they had as well.
Those interested should get hold of a copy of 'Tank Tactics, From Normandy to Lorraine' by Roman Johan Jarymowycz. ISBN 1 55587 950 0
It is a refreshing change from all those books written from the German viewpoint. This book is far and away the best source for details of tank battles and losses in Normandy and contains details of several other tank loss surveys other than those mentioned in Zetterling's Normandy book.

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Postby ChristopherPerrien » 02 Aug 2003 20:57

Hate to say it, but your total figures presented as statistics do nothing for the arguement. Total tank losses for both sides does nothing for tank quality issues. You need to look at as many small combat situations as you can find to see if, or if not, say "one" tiger is equal to 4 or 5 Shermans . Actually it would be more accurate to find battles between a platoon of Tigers and any number of Shermans. Battles like this would give you several accurate subsets that would have known tactical conditions as limiting parameters , this would be a much more believable method to dispel this "myth" as you say.

Read some accounts by Allied Tankers, this is where this MYTH? :lol: comes from. Of course if I remember right several of our forum "tank experts" think that Allied tankers knew nothing about their own tanks or the tanks they were fighting.

Any way Micheal find some battles and some smaller sets of numbers and I might give them a look over, good luck you have an uphill battle.

Regards Chris,
former tanker and statistician

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Postby Michael Kenny » 02 Aug 2003 21:55

The problem is we have no samples as you describe. Fighting was confused and continuous throughout June to August. It would be hard to find an action where Tigers alone fought Allied Tanks. Indeed the only such action I know about was Villers Bocage and there we can say that the ratio of Allied losses to German was of the order of 2:1 (just like my general figure).
My point was that reading all the Tiger myths would lead you to believe Shermans were destroyed in vast quantities whereas the actual totals show this not to be the case. Another action that tends to dispell this 5:1 ratio is the fighting in the Rauray spur 26/30 June when 2 Tigers were taken in working order and a third disabled by Shermans without any great loss to themselves.
It is beyond dispute that Wittmann did not destroy the number of Tanks his award citation mentions and Fey's account of his 15 Sherman kills on 7th or 8th August is also suspect. Can anyone provide a checkable high kill rate from Normandy rather than a 'claim'?
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ChristopherPerrien
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Postby ChristopherPerrien » 03 Aug 2003 00:00

Yes, June to August might be difficult to find some battles. Besides the Hedgerow fighhting was not really condusive to any sort of tank battle, although there were many engagements. You could look later than that primarily battles from Sep 44 to Feb 45.

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Postby fdewaele » 03 Aug 2003 15:28

You mustn't forget that alot of the German tank losses were not caused by tank versus tank fighting but werev caused by the Allied dominance of the sky... so you can't really make a Sherman vs Tiger comparisson if tyou don't subtract the number of German tanks lost by aerial action.

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Postby Michael Kenny » 03 Aug 2003 15:46

And a lot of Allied tanks were hit by AT guns, mines, broke down, hit by close range weapons ect,ect,ect.
The point is the TOTAL of these Allied losses shown that these claims of 5:1 simply are not supportedout by the facts.
If it were the case then the rest of the German tanks/AT weapons simply did not hit anything!

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Postby Tim Smith » 05 Aug 2003 11:09

Maybe you have to factor in the odds on both sides during a local engagement.

If you have 12 Tigers versus 12 Shermans, then it is quite plausible that 10 Shermans will be destroyed for the loss of only 2 Tigers. A 5:1 ratio.

If (as was far more common) you have 2 Tigers versus 20 Shermans, then the 2 Tigers will likely be destroyed for the loss of only 2 Shermans. A 1:1 ratio.

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Postby ChristopherPerrien » 05 Aug 2003 15:38

Generally a platoon a Shermans 4-5 tanks would tackle a Tiger I. That seems to have been the standard drill and doctrine with an average result of:
In this battle the Sherman platoon would lose 2-3 tanks before one tank managed to get around for a flank shot to put the Tiger out. This would suggest a loss rate of 2.5 Shermans per Tiger. Now also when you had multiple Tigers with the ability to cover each others flanks the loss rate could go up, coupled with the average superiority of German tank crews and tactics and being on the defense (Hulldown/first shot/etc.) plus the possibility that a German crew may have an Ace in it. I can easily see a loss rate of 4+ to 1, in tank versus tank actions,
Last edited by ChristopherPerrien on 12 Aug 2003 09:31, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Leibstandarte_reenactor » 08 Aug 2003 02:08

Eveyone has to remember the tiger is a "open field" tank shermans have a somewhat smaller advantage in city fighting at close range.

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Postby Von_Mannteufel » 12 Aug 2003 09:02

to get an accurate statistic of how many shermans you'd need for every tiger you'd have firts to make separate statistics for open-field and restricted combat and then put just the tanks with no other at weapons or planes and fully supplied. You must face the fact that durring and after DD many tanks were not "killed" by other tanks and that germans were with much less supplies and had not air superiority.

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Postby daveh » 13 Aug 2003 15:24

Are there records for the claims made by Tiger equiped units in Normandy?
Are there records of the total losses and the cause of those losses of the same Tiger units?
Are these claims reliable enough to use as a basis for suggesting the ratio of success/ losses for Tigers?

If the claims are not reliable why is this so? What basis was used for assessing the accuracy of such claims?

Were Allied losses in tanks detailed enough to identify losses to Tigers?

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Re:

Postby Norbear » 15 Nov 2016 23:28

Michael Kenny wrote:The problem is we have no samples as you describe. Fighting was confused and continuous throughout June to August. It would be hard to find an action where Tigers alone fought Allied Tanks. Indeed the only such action I know about was Villers Bocage and there we can say that the ratio of Allied losses to German was of the order of 2:1 (just like my general figure).
My point was that reading all the Tiger myths would lead you to believe Shermans were destroyed in vast quantities whereas the actual totals show this not to be the case. Another action that tends to dispell this 5:1 ratio is the fighting in the Rauray spur 26/30 June when 2 Tigers were taken in working order and a third disabled by Shermans without any great loss to themselves.
It is beyond dispute that Wittmann did not destroy the number of Tanks his award citation mentions and Fey's account of his 15 Sherman kills on 7th or 8th August is also suspect. Can anyone provide a checkable high kill rate from Normandy rather than a 'claim'?


The germans losses 1715 Tigers in WW2 and destroyed 9850 "tanks". Okay you say this was an overshoot. If we take a worst case scenario this was five times more than in fact. So, dived the destroyed factor by five the result is 1970 destroyed "tanks". And what about the German Tiger losses? This number included losses caused by TDS, Tanks, artillery and AT guns, mines, mechanical faliures, aircrafts, bazookas and others. If we say Tanks and SPGS caused 40% of tiger losses we have 686 destroyed Tigers and a 3:1 kill:loss ratio (in case when the given data is a X5 overclaim). Without TDs (used 13% formula) it was 223 destroyed Tiger caused by enemy tanks both east & west. Okay it was just a little bit math lesson with lot of hypothetical supposition.

But what say the physics?
When engaging targets. Tiger crews were encouraged to angle the hull position 45 degrees to the Mahlzeit Stellung of 10 ½ or 1 ½ o'clock. This would maximize the effective front hull armour to 180mm and side hull to 140mm. With a Sherman that use a 75mm M3 L/40 gun, it will be a very hard task, even at 100 meters. The better armed sherman variants used 76mm guns, but only appears in operation Cobra. But even this variants were not enough effective too. Only match with the Tiger at 400 meters or less. For this task the Firefly was the best sherman variant, but it was available very limited quantity. In the other hand, the Tiger I 88mm gun easily destroyed a sherman at 2000 meters, with standard ammo.
The Tiger I was not an indistructible tank but Sherman not enough effective weapon to deal with that (except Sherman Firefly). In Normandy, the Bocage was an ideal terrian to came close to german tanks and debase their effectiveness. In oder fronts, -especially in North africa- lead shermans to a frontal attack against Tigers, is a real suicide activity.

The Tigers greatest enemy was the american and russian tank destroyers, AT guns and mechanical faliures of corse not Sherman tanks.


" we can say that the ratio of Allied losses to German was of the order of 2:1 (just like my general figure)."

Yes it was true for total tank losses under operation Overlord, if you do not take into consideration that the germans used many foreign troops and equipment in Normandy. The situation is even worse if you see that the allied had a full aerial superiority, it cosed huge losses to german supply troops & decrease the area where the german troops could move, also the tactical flexibility. Without enough fuel, ammo, food, aid kit, mechanical equipment, component, other the effectivness of german divisions worse than in papers. Does not matter how good your tank battalions if you have not enough fuel and ammo, engineer to maintain dose tanks. Finally germans were greatly outnumberd.

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Re: Re:

Postby Nickdfresh » 16 Nov 2016 16:57

Norbear wrote:...

The Tigers greatest enemy was the american and russian tank destroyers, AT guns and mechanical faliures of corse not Sherman tanks.


I would tend to agree and add that Allied, especially U.S., artillery could also ruin their day if they could be spotted...

" we can say that the ratio of Allied losses to German was of the order of 2:1 (just like my general figure)."

Yes it was true for total tank losses under operation Overlord, if you do not take into consideration that the germans used many foreign troops and equipment in Normandy. The situation is even worse if you see that the allied had a full aerial superiority, it cosed huge losses to german supply troops & decrease the area where the german troops could move, also the tactical flexibility. Without enough fuel, ammo, food, aid kit, mechanical equipment, component, other the effectivness of german divisions worse than in papers. Does not matter how good your tank battalions if you have not enough fuel and ammo, engineer to maintain dose tanks. Finally germans were greatly outnumberd.


We can "take into consideration" the obstacles the Germans faced but the Allies also had many obstacles including "foreign troops" in operations as various Free Armies. The fact that the Germans were fighting largely from very defensible terrain and thusly had the advantage allowing them to concentrate armor on the northern flank against the British. The Heer/SS also knew the terrain better and had four years to prepare to the eventualities of an Allied landing. Also, the quality of German divisions in the West was also very qualitatively high compared to the East and the "foreign troops and equipment" you mention was largely used as skirmishing cannon fodder along the Wall at the initial phases and their panzer divisions held in reserve were extremely well equipped, motivated, and rested with much experience overall from the Ost. The Heer was outnumbered, but I think it was barely 2:1 at some points of the Battle for Normandy, which is the bare minimum advantage required on offense for the Allies. And they had to resupply over a large, uncooperative body of water know as The Channel without benefit of a port for the battle. The Allies had air supremacy, but also had to fight for that over several months and that took a toll on Anglo-American resources.

The Allies also had to breach a rather imposing "Atlantic Wall" even if its image as an impregnable defensive works was conflated by propaganda. And finally, let's not forget that large amphibious operations are probably the most difficult to pull off in general in warfare, and I mentioned the resupply problem of the Channel magnified by the wrecking of one of the Mulberry artificial ports. This is all just off the top of my head...

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Re: 5 Shermans 1 Tiger/Panther Myth?

Postby Norbear » 18 Nov 2016 15:42

I would tend to agree and add that Allied, especially U.S., artillery could also ruin their day if they could be spotted...


Yes, the US artillery was very formidable with 155 mm guns and Naval guns in Normandy. The russians also used very well and large quantity their artillery, and AT guns pak fronts too.

Weapons like ISU152, ISU122, SU100, SU85, 57 mm upguned halftracks was useful againstt Tiger I tanks. It is also true the M36 Jackson, M18 Hellcat or QF17 gun mounted vehicles like Achilles or Sherman Firefly. But I really sceptical about M3 gunned Shermans. Even less 100 m this type of shermans were need some luck to penetrate the Tiger I frontal and side armor. The rare armor was a different story but in real warfare the Tiger tanks fight in a group of tanks with other AT guns, TDs and weapons (in defense of corse), where fire areas cross each other.

The M3 armed Shermans had a chache to beat the Tiger I in face to face if they could hit beetween the turret and the hull armor. The 76W Shermans were much more effective but only at distance of 300-400 meter or less to had a real chanche against the Tiger. Only the operation Cobra were the 76 mm upgunned Shermans appears in greater numbers (in July 25 of 1944).

The Sherman had better mobility and turret traverse mechanism. No doubt about that. But eary narrow track versions had worse ground preassure ratio then german medium and heavy tanks like Panther tank. In off-road the Sherman speed was 28 km/h maximum, mainly depend of the terrian and the type of Sherman. Finally I hardly believe that the M3 gunned Shermans could destroyed more than 10 Tiger I in Normandy (and this is an optimistic number).

The Heer was outnumbered, but I think it was barely 2:1 at some points of the Battle for Normandy, which is the bare minimum advantage required on offense for the Allies. And they had to resupply over a large, uncooperative body of water know as The Channel without benefit of a port for the battle. The Allies had air supremacy, but also had to fight for that over several months and that took a toll on Anglo-American resources.


I think the 2:1 formula is correct. But like operation Cobra the number of US tanks and TDs had 13:1 superiority in quantity. The result was 1,6:1.

The german troops like 21. Panzer division ,352. inf. division, 331 in. division, 12. SS Hitlerjugend, Panzer Lehr, Heavy tank battalions (101st SS, 102st SS or 503rd Heavy Panzer Battalion) and paratroopers were well equipped. But 23 Osttruppen battalion fought in Normandy, most of them were georgians, cossacks and armenians. There were nearly ~400 german used french tanks in the western front. A part of them were fight in normandy.
89. Infanteriedivision - 'Horseshoe Division', 708. Infanteriedivision, 709 infantry division,711. Infanteriedivision, 91. Infanterie-Division, 243. Infanteriedivision, Panzer-Ersatz-Abteilung 100, 271. Infanteriedivision, 272. Infanteriedivision, 275. Infanteriedivision, 276. Infanteriedivision, 326. Infanteriedivision were far not well trained, experienced or equipped. Lot of german division in normandy had not full division strenght. The Kampfwert II (limited offensive capability) was a very good level instead the average of german divisions in Normandy.

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Re: 5 Shermans 1 Tiger/Panther Myth?

Postby Michael Kenny » 18 Nov 2016 16:18

Norbear wrote:. The Kampfwert II (limited offensive capability) was a very good level instead the average of german divisions in Normandy.


There were more Level I Panzer Divisions in Normandy than there were on the Eastern Front.


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