German vs. Allied technology

Discussions on every day life in the Weimar Republic, pre-anschluss Austria, Third Reich and the occupied territories. Hosted by Vikki.
luigi
Member
Posts: 218
Joined: 22 Dec 2004 16:38
Location: Italy

Post by luigi » 04 Aug 2005 11:01

Having made the usual premise that I'm not deeply expert in any technical branch of the equipment used by the allies and the axis, I chewed here and there as former airplanes freak and general passionate for machanical matters.

I can't elude the impression that the Germans were much more refined and indeed were cutting edge in mechanical matters, however the industrialisation of their clcokworks was a nightmare. Two examples come to mind:

The BMW R 75 side car: the front fork consisted in several hundred pieces (I venture to say that the part list exceeded 1.000 components, but my memory never was very good, so take it very cautiously, anyway... a big lot!) which turned into a nightmare to maintain under field conditions.

The Daimler Benz airplane engine with its direct ignition sistem, a swiss clockwork which required unbelievable tolerances so, that in case of damage, you were forced to change the whole assembly.

On the other hand industrialisation of, say, airframes, was incredibly refined, which in turn made big changes hardly faisable (see BF109).

In turn the allies were better in planning and industrialisation, their product thinked thorougly for mass production at the cost, sometimes, of some technical highlight. Well, this is anyway a very crude generalisation since one should differentiate between U.S. and G.B (and between Germany and its allies for that matter).

The fact that the allies were ahead in electronics and development of "final weapons" doesn't speak for itself, since it does not take in account that those major developments were made under conditions the German could only dream of, with plenty of ressources developed out of reach of the military menace of the opponent.

Just my 2 cents

RichTO90
Member
Posts: 4238
Joined: 22 Dec 2003 18:03

Post by RichTO90 » 04 Aug 2005 12:53

JonS wrote:
RichTO90 wrote: (between 1 September 1939 and 1 July 1941 exactly 959 "tanks" were built by the US, an average of just over four per month)
Minor clarification please:
22 months, 959 tanks ... I get an average of 43 tanks per months ... am I missing something?
Yeah, sorry, it was late last night and I was doing the math in my head, after having been up and working for about 16 hours...and after having a couple of beers. :D Let's drag out the calculator and...yup, 43.590909. Sorry, I appear to have misplaced a decimal point somewhere. :D

Of course to relate it to the point I was making, Germany was producing an average of about 100 per month during the conquest of France, rising to 200 per month by theend of 1940 and 300 per month by spring 1941.

So yeah, the US was in search of "stopgaps" with good reason. :)
Last edited by RichTO90 on 04 Aug 2005 13:46, edited 1 time in total.

RichTO90
Member
Posts: 4238
Joined: 22 Dec 2003 18:03

Post by RichTO90 » 04 Aug 2005 13:43

I think we may be getting somewhere now. :wink:
Shrek wrote:Yes, if I accept the premise that US forces would soon find themselves fighting against German forces, by no means a given thing in the summer of 1941.
With all due respect, I think what premise you might be willing to accept in August 2005 may be somewhat different from the premise that was prevalent in the US government in summer 1941. :D

And it is evident that the best premise they could operate with in summer 1941 was that any nation that was unprepared to fight Germany on at least equal terms was in trouble.
f anything, the period from the summer of 1941 to the fall of 1942 may serve to illuminate the relative speed of development of an urgently needed weapon for the Germans and the Americans; by the time of Tunisia US forces used the 75 mm T12 GMC (AFAIK, the 75 mm was the old French gun) and the less impressive M6 37 mm GMC, and I think also a 37 mm gun mounted on a 15cwt truck, while the Germans by this time had up-armoured and up-gunned their tank force and had new heavy tanks in service, as well as the STUG III F, which just happened to be a very good tank killer too even if this was not its intended role.
Uh, fair enough, but I think you have to start from a common ground.

By summer 1941 the Germans had nearly two years of combat experience with AFVs and had fully developed chassis capable of becoming "stopgaps". The StuG. III Ausf F didn't spring fully developed from the head of Zeus you know, the chassis was already fully developed. Look back to 1936 when that development began and January 1940 for when the first production vehicles were completed. Nor did the Pak 40 suddenly appear, development for that had begun in 1939. And of course there was all the other experience gained from building rather large numbers of Panzer, I, II, III and IV. So we see a timeline of something between two and a half to six years depending upon how you wish to measure it, before the Germans had the capability of producing the "stopgap" Ausf F. Of course the various "Marders" are a slightly different subject, since their existance was based upon the simple fact that the chassis they were built on were becoming somewhat obsolescent.

For the US, prior to the development of the T-12, what was there that compared? In terms of a tracked or semi-tracked AFV mounting a gun larger than 37mm? Nothing. Development of a high-velocity 75mm antitank gun? Very little (development of the 3" M5 began in September 1940 and was completed by December 1941). But what was available was the M1897A2, which was a fully modernized M1897 designed for new production (so it was an "old" design, but a "new" gun) and the newly produced M3 Halftrack. The design was actually begun in June 1941 and production began in August. So a timeline of - three months? :D

BTW, the M6 37mm GMC was one and the same with the "37 mm gun mounted on a 15cwt truck".
The much more formidable 3" armed M10 was just around the corner, IIRC timely enough to participate in the Tunisian campaign from March, but in the initial phase of the fighting in Tunisia the Americans had to make do with stop-gap expedients not too different from the Marders that the Germans had to build and deploy in great haste in Russia the year before.
Uh, I hate to tell you this, but none of the German stopgap expedients made it to the Eastern Front "the year before" 1942. :? OOOPS! Just re-read your post after posting this and yes, I see you mean the "year before" 1943, not 1942. But the timeline below still fits in fact.

The Panzer Selbstfahlefette 1 fuer 7.62cm Pak 36 (r) began conversion in April 1942 and began arriving at the front in June, in small numbers.

The 7.5cm Pak 40/2 auf Fahrgestell Panzer II conversion began in June 1942 and began issue at the front in July, again in small numbers.

The Panzerjaeger 38(t) fuer 7.62cm Pak 36 (r) began conversion in April 1942 and began arriving at the front in July, again in small numbers.

The 7.5cm Pak 40/3 auf Pz 38 (t) did not begin conversion until November 1942 withthe first being rushed to the front in December.

So the requirement for the stopgap appeared in June-July 1941 and the stopgap appeared at the front about a year later. OTOH the T12 required three months from conception to production and the M10 development began in December 1941, began production in September 1942 and was in combat by February 1943.

So the German "stopgaps" (Marders) took about a year, the US (T12) about three months.
The German "purpose-built" (StuG. IIIF) took two and a half to six years (depending on how you wish to measure), the US about 14 months. :P

Seriously, this is an interesting subject and I hope we can continue it. :)

User avatar
EKB
Member
Posts: 712
Joined: 20 Jul 2005 17:21
Location: United States

Post by EKB » 05 Aug 2005 06:17

Andreas wrote:
Regarding the Panther - a report from the invasion front quoted in Jentz' 'Panzertruppen' states 'The Panther burns astonishingly quickly'. This together with the thin (by 1944 standards) side armour must have been a bit of a drawback.

Agreed. Side and rear armor protection were marginal. Quite exposed even to the puny 57mm APCBC projectiles fired by the 6-pounder gun (Range table from Thomas Jentz, Germany's Panther Tank: The Quest for Combat Supremacy) :

sides, turret........................up to 2,400 yards
sides, superstructure...........up to 2,200 yards
sides, hull...........................up to 2,500+ yards
rear, turret.........................up to 2,400 yards
rear, hull............................up to 2,500+ yards

The Panther was a formidable defensive weapon because of its frontal armor, but that advantage disappeared as soon as the Germans attacked.

This vulnerability was borne out in the baptism of fire received by Rudolf von Ribbentrop's 3. Kompanie from the 12. SS-Panzer Division. On 9th June 1944, they advanced towards Norrey-en-Bessin, rather carelessly, with flanks exposed. Twelve Panthers were intercepted near Bretteville and they lost a one-sided battle with a small number of Shermans dispersed on either side of their path. Seven Panthers were knocked out before they could return fire, and the others retreated, also without reply. One of the tanks was also hit by a PIAT bomb and in the confusion the German survivors believed that all shots came from one direction, but it appears that one Panther was hit from the other flank. The Canadian tank unit suffered no losses and three Shermans were credited with firing the fatal shots.

This was not an isolated incident. An article about Eastern Front experience was quoted from the August 1944 issue of Nachrictenblatt der Panzertruppen:

" Flank defense is just as important in attacks as in defense. Nothing is achieved by speaking of dispositions and orders for flank defense when it is not accomplished in practice. A considerable number of German Panzer attacks are conducted without the necessary flank protection and therefore fail "

See p.205, Thomas L. Jentz, Panzer Truppen: The Complete Guide to the Creation & Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force - 1943-1945.

User avatar
EKB
Member
Posts: 712
Joined: 20 Jul 2005 17:21
Location: United States

Post by EKB » 05 Aug 2005 06:38

Qvist wrote:Hello EKB

Thank you for your very informative posts, and as you know, I do not disagree with your contention that the allies were technolgically superior in many areas. It is however possible to question some of your points, IMO:

The long-barrelled Pz IV introduced in early 1942 was at least a match for both the T-34/76 and the KV-1.

That assumption is overoptimistic. In a more frank appraisal, Generaloberst Heinz Guderian lamented on 18th November 1941:

" The armament of heavy Russian tanks (44 to 52 metric tons) consists of a 76.2mm gun, one machinegun in front and one machine gun in the rear of the turret, and one machinegun in the hull front. The armor consists of an 80mm hull (reinforced in the front) and 100mm turret. The sloped armor causes hits from the 8.8 cm Flak gun to richochet "

See p.14, Thomas L. Jentz, Germany's Panther Tank: The Quest for Combat Supremacy.
Qvist wrote:
At best the Germans achieved parity. The U.S. Army's M-10, M-36 and M-18 were turreted and better able to reposition the gun quickly -- that alone made them more survivable versus anti-tank threats. On the debit side the turrets had no roof except when field modified, so the crew was vulnerable to overhead bursts. By 1945 the Americans were using special high-performance shells for the 3-inch, 76mm and 90mm guns. Live-firing tests against derelict panzers confirmed a noticable improvement in armor-piercing power, especially by the 90mm gun. The Sturmgeschütz and various Jadpanzer had thicker armor and better optics, but they had no turret and less ability to adjust fire. The cannon fixed into the front of the hull was the main weakness -- a serious tactical disadvantage. The Soviet self-propelled guns were comparable to the German kind, if not better.
Another advantage the Jagdpanzer IV/StuG III had over the TDs were that they were not open-topped, and hence not vulnerable to indirect fire. Together with thicker armor (and here the difference was more than marginal I believe?) and better optics, that is worth considerable more than turret traverse AFAICS?
The inspector of panzer troops (Heinz Guderian) issued these statements on 28th June 1944:

" Experience reports from Sicily, Italy and Normandy comparing the Pz.Kpfw.IV to the Sturmgeschuetz unanimously state that when employed on coastal roads, in mountainous terrain, and in the sunken lanes of Normandy, the Sturmgeschuetz is both tactically and technically considerably less favored than the Pz.Kpfw.IV. The terrain makes it impossible or at least severely limits aiming the Sturmgeschuetz to the sides. Based on the lastest observations reported by General Thomale in Paris and reports from the Panzier-Offizier Ob.West, employment of Sturmgeschuetz in the sunken lanes and hedgerows of Normandy is difficult because the gun is mounted too low. In contrast, the Panzerkampfwagen can fire out of the sunken lanes and also over the hedges because the height of the gun and traversable turret "

In these repects the Jagdpanzer IV was even less effective, because the gun was mounted lower on the chassis and closer to the ground than on the StuG III.

See p.184, Thomas L. Jentz, Panzer Truppen: The Complete Guide to the Creation & Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force - 1943-1945.

User avatar
EKB
Member
Posts: 712
Joined: 20 Jul 2005 17:21
Location: United States

Post by EKB » 05 Aug 2005 06:56

Qvist wrote:
After 1942 the Wehrmacht maintained a minor edge in quality of main guns, ammunition and optics, but from start to finish, Soviet tanks were generally superior. Especially if we compare them by weight, e.g. T-34 vs. Panzer IV; IS-2 vs. Panther, etc. When the T-34 and KV-1 first appeared, the Germans had no effective antidote -- they had great difficulty knocking out these tanks. The Germans obviously plagiarized Russian design features when they cooked up the Panther and the Tiger II. Giant tanks were few in number, but I'd vote for the IS-3 as best overall. Interesting that Soviet tank designers embraced Ernst Diesel's engine, but the Germans did not.
Here I would not agree with you at all, I am afraid. The Panther's superiority over Western tanks was clearly much more than minor in all major attributes, something for which mechanical reliability can hardly compensate.

Which Western tanks? Certainly not the M-26 which was comparable in firepower and protection, even though its combat weight was lower by about 2.5 tons.

However, comparing a Panther to a Sherman is much like comparing a B-17 to a Ju 87. Both dropped bombs, but otherwise they were not designed for the same purpose. The Panther was intended to engage and destroy enemy tanks while the original M-4 was not -- that is why the U.S. Army had a Tank Destroyer Command.

It's the same story when pundits try to compare the Panzer III and Panzer IV with the T-34 and KV-1 as they were configured in 1941. The Germans assumed that their panzers could attack enemy infantry and artillery without interference because their screen of antitank guns would effectively protect the panzers from Soviet tanks. That assumption proved to be wrong.

Qvist wrote: Also, as far as I know, there were no major reliability problems with the Panther after the neccessary adjustments had been made.
When were these 'necessary adjustments' made?

In 1944, the Panther was considered to be so defective that it was recommended to load them on transports if the distance covered was expected to be more than 100 km.
Qvist wrote: Neither the Panther or the Tiger II plagiarised Russian designs.
One photograph is worth a thousand words, but if you're still not convinced try reading Walter Spielberger's design history of the Panther.
Qvist wrote: This I must admit I find a little one-sided (which might also be said about the whole post in general :wink: ). Why no mention of the Sten, which constituted most of the British inventory?
The Sten performed admirably during U.S. Army trials and was the highest rated submachine gun in a field of about a dozen weapons. It's overall score surpassed the Thompson SMG and the Finnish Suomi SMG. Of course the reliability of the Sten gun in combat conditions was somewhat different than it was in trials under controlled conditions, and the same tale can be told of the Panther tank.
Qvist wrote: I doubt you would find many who would put the M3 above the MP-40 as a weapon.
I'll take that bet. The M3 was a steady and durable weapon. The MP-40 was not. Because it jammed so frequently, German soldiers often threw away the MP-40 for a captured Russian PPSh which were widely available for many years. U.S. infantry squads were not issued with submachine guns, except for special troops like Airborne and Rangers, so the M3 was not commonly found on the front lines. Most of the SMGs were issued to vehicle crews and support troops.

User avatar
EKB
Member
Posts: 712
Joined: 20 Jul 2005 17:21
Location: United States

Post by EKB » 05 Aug 2005 07:17

Shrek wrote:So, US tank destroyers were apparently built with priority given to firepower, mobility and protection in that order, whereas German dedicated TDs had firepower first, protection second and mobility as a third priority. That tells us nothing about who had the 'superior' technology, merely that both sides were capable of building and fielding effective tank destroyers.
The turret was and still is a major technological component of the fire control system. Removing it from the vehicle and replacing it with a fixed gun in the superstructure represented a lower tech, lower cost solution to building more vehicles. The Germans built assault guns and the like to reduce manufacturing time, not because they thought that having a tank with no turret was a wonderful idea. It was pure desperation, or 'wartime expediency' if you want to be more charitable.

Speaking of mobility, there was a very enlightening report of complaints from German troops fighting in Italy, who insisted that Sherman tanks demonstrated superior off-road capability compared to their panzers. It was also noted that given a choice between fewer heavy tanks and more lighter tanks, the Panzer troops wanted the latter...

" The preferences for lighter, more maneuverable Panzers was recorded in a report written on 1 November 1944 by Albert Speer on his trip to Italy during 19 October to 25 October 1944:

On the Southwest Front, opinions are in favor of the Sherman tank and its cross-country ability. The Sherman tank climbs over mountains that our Panzer crews consider impassable. This is accomplished by the especially powerful engine in the Sherman compared to its weight. Also, according to reports from the 26.Panzer-Division, the terrain-crossing ability on level ground (in the Po Valley) is completely superior to our Panzers. The Sherman tanks drive freely cross-country, while our Panzers must remain on trails and narrow roads and therefore very restricted in their ability to fight.

All Panzer crews want to receive lighter Panzers, which are more maneuverable, possess increased ability to cross terrain, and guarantee the necessary combat power just with a superior gun.

The desire by the troops corresponds with conditions that will develop in the future as a result of the drop in production capacity and of the fact that, because of the shortage of chrome, sufficient armor plate can't be produced to meet the increased production plans. Therefore, either the numbers of Panzers produced must be reduced or it will be necessary to reduce the thickness of the armor plate. In that case, the troops will unequivocally ask for a reduction of the armor thickness in order to increase the total number of Panzers produced. "


See p.151, Thomas L. Jentz, Panzer Truppen: The Complete Guide to the Creation & Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force - 1943-1945.
Shrek wrote: I would assume that the emergence of effective hand-held AT weapons was part reason for the US TD corps' demise after WWII?
I doubt if that was a significant factor. There were too many tanks and TDs in different weight classes. There was not much difference between a tank and a TD. It was less expensive to use one Main Battle Tank and gradually that was the direction taken.

Andreas
Member
Posts: 6938
Joined: 10 Nov 2002 14:12
Location: Europe

Post by Andreas » 05 Aug 2005 09:12

EKB wrote:
Andreas wrote:
Regarding the Panther - a report from the invasion front quoted in Jentz' 'Panzertruppen' states 'The Panther burns astonishingly quickly'. This together with the thin (by 1944 standards) side armour must have been a bit of a drawback.

Agreed. Side and rear armor protection were marginal. Quite exposed even to the puny 57mm APCBC projectiles fired by the 6-pounder gun (Range table from Thomas Jentz, Germany's Panther Tank: The Quest for Combat Supremacy)
Oi! No knocking of the 6-pdr when I am in the room. :) It was the best AT gun of the war, in terms of size/weight/performance. With Tungsten ammo it could deal with Tiger Is frontally IIRC, and it could handle pretty much everything else that might be thrown at it. Superb little gun, especially considering that it appeared in numbers in 1942, and by the end of the war the British were fielding more of them than the Germans could shake a stick at. :)

In general I am not impressed with German AT guns. In the same generation they either have worse performance or higher weight than the British ones, it seems to me. The 4-pdr was superior to the Pak 35/36, the 6-pdr to the Pak 38, the 17-pdr to the Pak 40, and the Pak 43 is just a joke as a an infantry support weapon - weighing in close to 5 tons, IIRC. In any case, almost anything it could realistically do, the 17-pdr could do as well.

The issue of the burning Panthers was already reported in the first report on Rgt. von Lauchert's combat experiences at Kursk, according to Jentz. That one they seem to not have managed to fix.

All the best

Andreas

Jon G.
Member
Posts: 6647
Joined: 17 Feb 2004 01:12
Location: Europe

Post by Jon G. » 05 Aug 2005 10:55

RichTO90 wrote:
Shrek wrote:Yes, if I accept the premise that US forces would soon find themselves fighting against German forces, by no means a given thing in the summer of 1941.
With all due respect, I think what premise you might be willing to accept in August 2005 may be somewhat different from the premise that was prevalent in the US government in summer 1941. :D

And it is evident that the best premise they could operate with in summer 1941 was that any nation that was unprepared to fight Germany on at least equal terms was in trouble.
Of course, and I would not contest the overall view that it was likely that the US would soon find itself at war with Germany. However, I would still maintain that there is a big difference between anticipating meeting German panzer forces in battle and having your tanks shot up by superior Soviet tanks on a daily basis. The Americans may have found themselves in a hurry, but the urgency must have been greater on the German side.
...The StuG. III Ausf F didn't spring fully developed from the head of Zeus you know, the chassis was already fully developed...
You could argue that the intended role of the STUG was anything but developed by the summer of 1941 - but basically I agree with you, the Germans had the advantage of almost two years of war under their belts, and this was reflected in how they responded to new battlefield threats. In casu the STUG F sprang from the head of Hitler by fitting the L 43 (later L 48 ) gun to what had hitherto been a dedicated ( :D ) assault gun equipped with the L 24 gun - last production run of the short-barrelled STUG G was completed in March 1942, and the first serial produced long-barrelled STUG F was built in the same month.
Look back to 1936 when that development began and January 1940 for when the first [STUG III] production vehicles were completed.
Yes, the three-year gap from completion of the prototypes until the early STUG actually went into production nicely illustrates the much more leisurely pace that weapons developments took in peacetime, no? Though, Nazi Germany anticipated war with pretty much everybody by 1937 if you take the Hoßbach memo as a blueprint for things to come.

Basically Germany had more untapped production potential when war came than her adversaries did. I was hoping that this discussion would debate the various technologies available to the main participants in WWII in more general terms (vide my first post on this thread), but perhaps the development of tank destroyers is a good way of illustrating it.
For the US, prior to the development of the T-12, what was there that compared? In terms of a tracked or semi-tracked AFV mounting a gun larger than 37mm? Nothing. Development of a high-velocity 75mm antitank gun? Very little (development of the 3" M5 began in September 1940 and was completed by December 1941). But what was available was the M1897A2, which was a fully modernized M1897 designed for new production (so it was an "old" design, but a "new" gun) and the newly produced M3 Halftrack. The design was actually begun in June 1941 and production began in August. So a timeline of - three months? :D
Well, the basic approach of marrying two already developed weapon systems together into one as a response to new battlefield developments is remarkably similar. Of course you could decide to measure development of the STUG III F from the date the order to fit the STUG with the L 43 went out in late September 1941, which would give a development time of about six months.
BTW, the M6 37mm GMC was one and the same with the "37 mm gun mounted on a 15cwt truck".
OK. I was thinking of the T 28 E1 37 mm halftrack-mounted gun when I wrote M 6. There should have been somebody with a penchant for animal names in charge of the US Ordnance Department...
...But the timeline below still fits in fact.

The Panzer Selbstfahlefette 1 fuer 7.62cm Pak 36 (r) began conversion in April 1942 and began arriving at the front in June, in small numbers.

The 7.5cm Pak 40/2 auf Fahrgestell Panzer II conversion began in June 1942 and began issue at the front in July, again in small numbers.

The Panzerjaeger 38(t) fuer 7.62cm Pak 36 (r) began conversion in April 1942 and began arriving at the front in July, again in small numbers.

The 7.5cm Pak 40/3 auf Pz 38 (t) did not begin conversion until November 1942 withthe first being rushed to the front in December.

So the requirement for the stopgap appeared in June-July 1941
The requirement must have been there not long after Barbarossa started, indeed you could argue the requirement for a new tank destroyer was there already during the French campaign in the west in 1940, but in June-July 1941 Barbarossa was going very well, and weapons developments that took more than a few months may well have been thought unneccessary.

The order to build the Panzer Selbstfahrlette 1 went out in late December 1941, and the first conversions were completed in April 1942, as you say, or a development time of about four months. Considering that this vehicle used a captured Soviet 76,2 mm gun, having it available in quantity by June-July 1941 would have been a remarkable achievement :D

The first 7,5 cm PaK40/2, AKA Marder II, were not conversions, but newly built vehicles originally intended to be completed as Panzer IIs. It was first fielded in June 1942 when the Pz II F was still in production. In that sense, conversion time was instantaneous. Conversions were only made the following year.

The order to built the Panzerjäger 38(t) für 7,62 cm PaK36(r), AKA Marder III, went out December 22nd 1941, BTW two days after the contract to build the Selbstfahrlette 1 was issued. Again, a development time of only a few months, and again the decision to gradually phase out the Pz 38(t) and to equip the vehicle with a captured Soviet gun precluded its introduction much earlier.

The 7,5 cm PaK40/3 auf Pz 38(t) was really just a development variant of the Marder III instead equipped with a German gun, presumably taking over on the production line as stocks of Soviet guns ran out - Marder III production (as opposed to conversion, which took place in 1943 as well) stopped in October 1942, and production of the 7,5 cm variant began in November.
and the stopgap appeared at the front about a year later(...)So the German "stopgaps" (Marders) took about a year, the US (T12) about three months...
The troops at the front may well have felt the need for a more mobile AT gun platform earlier, but it was only seen as a requirement from late 1941, by which time it was clear that Barbarossa would not succeed. Thus, very late 1941 is when we should measure 'development time' from.
The German "purpose-built" (StuG. IIIF) took two and a half to six years (depending on how you wish to measure), the US about 14 months. :P
Well, I could also decide to measure the development of the STUG III F from the time it replaced the STUG III G on the production lines, or I could decide to measure it from the time the order to up-gun the STUG went out - i.e. instant or a six-month timespan - but then I would also acknowledge that the STUG mysteriously changed from an assault gun to a tank destroyer :)

Edit: Typos and bad grammar
Last edited by Jon G. on 05 Aug 2005 14:31, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Michael Emrys
Member
Posts: 6002
Joined: 13 Jan 2005 18:44
Location: USA

Post by Michael Emrys » 05 Aug 2005 11:24

EKB wrote:The turret was and still is a major technological component of the fire control system. Removing it from the vehicle and replacing it with a fixed gun in the superstructure represented a lower tech, lower cost solution to building more vehicles. The Germans built assault guns and the like to reduce manufacturing time, not because they thought that having a tank with no turret was a wonderful idea.
There was also one additional reason to build non-turreted AFVs. It was usually the case that by doing so, it was possible to arm the vehicle with a more powerful weapon (with a longer recoil stroke) than could be accomodated by that vehicle's turret ring. In other words, they could build a more powerful vehicle utilizing existing chassis and production lines. This was not only economical (in the short run), it meant that more powerful weapons reached the troops faster.

Jon G.
Member
Posts: 6647
Joined: 17 Feb 2004 01:12
Location: Europe

Post by Jon G. » 05 Aug 2005 13:12

EKB wrote:
Shrek wrote:So, US tank destroyers were apparently built with priority given to firepower, mobility and protection in that order, whereas German dedicated TDs had firepower first, protection second and mobility as a third priority. That tells us nothing about who had the 'superior' technology, merely that both sides were capable of building and fielding effective tank destroyers.
The turret was and still is a major technological component of the fire control system. Removing it from the vehicle and replacing it with a fixed gun in the superstructure represented a lower tech, lower cost solution to building more vehicles.
You may equate tank turrets with more complex technology, but if so it was a technology that the Germans mastered fully both before and after the STUG and the Panzerjäger IV. Doing away with the turret offers some obvious advantages along with some just as obvious disadvantages. It just reflects a conscious design choice, not any inability to design tracked AFVs with turrets.
The Germans built assault guns and the like to reduce manufacturing time, not because they thought that having a tank with no turret was a wonderful idea. It was pure desperation, or 'wartime expediency' if you want to be more charitable.
Well, which pure desperation would you find in the later Tiger VI B design then? The Germans seem to have decided that they both needed turreted and non-turreted AFVs. They persevered with non-turreted tank destroyers throughout the war, the STUG was by no means the final development of the design.
Speaking of mobility, there was a very enlightening report of complaints from German troops fighting in Italy, who insisted that Sherman tanks demonstrated superior off-road capability compared to their panzers.
Well, Shermans are not tank destroyers, and quite apart from that your quote does not contradict my original claim that US tank destroyers prioritized firepower first, mobility second and protection last, whereas the Germans seemed to prefer firepower first, protection second and mobility last for later war designs.

I doubt if German tank designers paid much attention to their AFVs mobility in hilly and mountaineous terrain; if they did their tanks would probably have looked different. Contrast that with Italian tanks and tankettes, which were developed with the Alpine front in mind and totally obsolete elsewhere.
In 1944, the Panther was considered to be so defective that it was recommended to load them on transports if the distance covered was expected to be more than 100 km.
Don't you think that track life was the primary concern here, rather than any particular defects applying only to Panthers? By 1944 preserving fuel was probably a concern too.
...the Sturmgeschuetz is both tactically and technically considerably less favored than the Pz.Kpfw.IV...
I am not really surprised that the Pz IV comes out as the better vehicle when compared to the STUG IV in 1944, when both vehicles were equipped with the same gun.
In these repects the Jagdpanzer IV was even less effective, because the gun was mounted lower on the chassis and closer to the ground than on the StuG III.
...yet the Germans continued to build them (and also the more powerful Jagdpanther and Jagdtiger) right until the end of the war. I think that simply illustrates that the Germans thought there was a need both for non-turreted dedicated tank destroyers and turreted 'ordinary' tanks that could fulfill more battlefield roles than the basic STUG design.

RichTO90
Member
Posts: 4238
Joined: 22 Dec 2003 18:03

Post by RichTO90 » 05 Aug 2005 13:35

Shrek wrote:Of course, and I would not contest the overall view that it was likely that the US would soon find itself at war with Germany. However, I would still maintain that there is a big difference between anticipating meeting German panzer forces in battle and having your tanks shot up by superior Soviet tanks on a daily basis. The Americans may have found themselves in a hurry, but the urgency must have been greater on the German side.
Exactly.
Yes, the three-year gap from completion of the prototypes until the early STUG actually went into production nicely illustrates the much more leisurely pace that weapons developments took in peacetime, no? Though, Nazi Germany anticipated war with pretty much everybody by 1937 if you take the Hoßbach memo as a blueprint for things to come.
Uh, exactly again? From June 1940-December 1941 when the development of the new US systems began, the country was at peace. So they were in a "hurry" but there wasn't quite so much "urgency". :D
Well, the basic approach of marrying two already developed weapon systems together into one as a response to new battlefield developments is remarkably similar. Of course you could decide to measure development of the STUG III F from the date the order to fit the STUG with the L 43 went out in late September 1941, which would give a development time of about six months.
Yes very true, but they were fortunate that they had the StuG chassis fully developed and that the crew compartment could accept the longer recoil and recoil forces of the Pak 40 and that the Pak 40 production was beginning in November and qucikly expanding, quite a bit of serendipity. The US expereince was a bit different, in that all of those elements were in development rather than mature production items in the timeframe of June 1940-December 1941.
OK. I was thinking of the T 28 E1 37 mm halftrack-mounted gun when I wrote M 6. There should have been somebody with a penchant for animal names in charge of the US Ordnance Department...
Sorry, having generals names foisted upon us by the Brits supplanting perfectly good, clear, functional, rational model numbers :wink: was quite enough thank you! See what we get now that the use names, things like Stryker...damn thing sound like it was made up by a Japanese car maker who was reading American comic books...
The requirement must have been there not long after Barbarossa started, indeed you could argue the requirement for a new tank destroyer was there already during the French campaign in the west in 1940, but in June-July 1941 Barbarossa was going very well, and weapons developments that took more than a few months may well have been thought unneccessary.

The order to build the Panzer Selbstfahrlette 1 went out in late December 1941, and the first conversion were completed in April 1942, as you say, or a development time of about four months. Considering that this vehicle used a captured Soviet 76,2 mm gun, having it available in quantity by June-July 1941 would have been a remarkable achievement :D
Well, the gun certainly was available in quantity by June-July 1941... :D But most certainly I agree with the rest. The conversion of the various Marder types was as simple as that of the T12 and arguably took similar development and production times. In both cases there were vehicles and guns available that could best be used by mating them since each alone was less capable, albeit that the mating wasn't always pretty or as good a system as some others, that's why they were "stopgaps." Both were the most efficient use of the readily available resources at the time and technological superiority didn't enter into it.
and the stopgap appeared at the front about a year later(...)So the German "stopgaps" (Marders) took about a year, the US (T12) about three months...
The troops at the front may well have felt the need for a more mobile AT gun platform earlier, but it was only seen as a requirement from late 1941, by which time it was clear that Barbarossa would not succeed. Thus, very late 1941 is when we should measure 'development time' from.
I was pulling your leg...a bit...I didn't expect it to come off. :D

But isn't it interesting that in this case the "sense of urgency" at the front began in June-July 1941, was translated into a requirement at the rear in November-December 1941 and production in March-May 1942, so it was what is apparently accepted as a reasonable, measured, correct, and - most importantly - practicable response by so many...and yet nearly the same series of events and timeline on the Allied side is regarded virtually as a criminal conspiracy to kill Allied tankers? Or as a gross "failure" of Allied technology versus German?

Curious that. :roll:
Well, I could also decide to measure the development of the STUG III F from the time it replaced the STUG III G on the production lines, or I could decide to measure it from the time the order to up-gun the STUG went out - i.e. instant or a six-month timespan - but then I would also acknowledge that the STUG mysteriously changed from an assault gun to a tank destroyer :)
Well yes, again I didn't expect your leg to come off in my hands...Although we could also argue that the StuG didn't change at all, it was simply multi-tasked. :D

Jon G.
Member
Posts: 6647
Joined: 17 Feb 2004 01:12
Location: Europe

Post by Jon G. » 06 Aug 2005 11:04

RichTO90 wrote:...Uh, exactly again? From June 1940-December 1941 when the development of the new US systems began, the country was at peace. So they were in a "hurry" but there wasn't quite so much "urgency". :D


Yes, but by June 1940 the next war as it were was already being fought. This gave the US Ordnance Department the ability to clearly identify the need for an articulated tank destroyer - quite a different beast than an infantry assault gun.

The basis of future tank destroyer conversions, so to speak, was perhaps strictly 'better' on the German side, considering that the STUG was not originally intended to serve as a TD, and considering that the first two years of war were fought as the Germans had imagined also in 1937.
...The conversion of the various Marder types was as simple as that of the T12 and arguably took similar development and production times. In both cases there were vehicles and guns available that could best be used by mating them since each alone was less capable, albeit that the mating wasn't always pretty or as good a system as some others, that's why they were "stopgaps." Both were the most efficient use of the readily available resources at the time and technological superiority didn't enter into it...
I came to think of the early 88 mm gun mounted on either a 12-ton DB half-track or an 18-ton FAMO half-track, built in small numbers in 1939 and 1940. This early weapon system certainly fits the bill as a mating of two already mature pieces of equipment, like eg. Marders - but apparently there was little interest in the system.

Reasons could be a) that the Germans simply didn't feel any overwhelming need for this vehicle at the time; b) inter-departemental squabbles between Heer and Luftwaffe (weapon elevation was 85 degrees) prevented this AFV from being built in great numbers; 'if I can't have it then no-one will', or c) the half-track mounted 88 mm was simply too flimsy to serve even as an improvised tank destroyer.

I am inclined to vote for a), but I am open to suggestions :) By the time tank destroyers were needed, and fast, better vehicles were in the works.
...but isn't it interesting that in this case the "sense of urgency" at the front began in June-July 1941, was translated into a requirement at the rear in November-December 1941 and production in March-May 1942, so it was what is apparently accepted as a reasonable, measured, correct, and - most importantly - practicable response by so many...and yet nearly the same series of events and timeline on the Allied side is regarded virtually as a criminal conspiracy to kill Allied tankers? Or as a gross "failure" of Allied technology versus German?
Well, technology hardly was part of the picture for early wartime developments, as you say. But said criminal conspiracy could simply be because that by the time the Allies advanced from semi-improvised expedients to purpose-built tank destroyers they were also gaining the upper hand in the war. The Germans were fielding sexier and sexier weapons as the war went worse and worse for them. You could pass quite a damning judgement on technology if you focussed on that single aspect only.

RichTO90
Member
Posts: 4238
Joined: 22 Dec 2003 18:03

Post by RichTO90 » 06 Aug 2005 14:40

Shrek wrote:Yes, but by June 1940 the next war as it were was already being fought. This gave the US Ordnance Department the ability to clearly identify the need for an articulated tank destroyer - quite a different beast than an infantry assault gun.
Actually to be precise the "clearly identified" need was for antitank guns of any type, as of June 1940 - aside from the mainstay AT gun, the .50-caliber Browning - there were fewer than 50 purpose built AT guns in the US Army, all 37mm.

Also, in the period June 1940-August 1941 the War Department also articulated the need for an SP assault gun and - like the SP AT gun - produced a workable stopgap prior to advancing to a purpose-built design, which also happened to have turrets - unlike the German designs.
The basis of future tank destroyer conversions, so to speak, was perhaps strictly 'better' on the German side, considering that the STUG was not originally intended to serve as a TD, and considering that the first two years of war were fought as the Germans had imagined also in 1937.
Again, this is not strictly true, just for the reason you give. The conversions were very similar and shared many of the same problems, so it is doubtful that any were 'better' than the others. And the StuG conversion arguably was harmful, as more and more got sucked into an antitank role that was added on to their purpose-built mission, which was infantry support (a high-velocity 75mm gun is less suitable as an infantry support weapon than a lower-velocity piece, one of the same reasons the Sherman M3 75mm Gun was retained for so long in favor of the M1 76mm Gun).
I came to think of the early 88 mm gun mounted on either a 12-ton DB half-track or an 18-ton FAMO half-track, built in small numbers in 1939 and 1940. This early weapon system certainly fits the bill as a mating of two already mature pieces of equipment, like eg. Marders - but apparently there was little interest in the system.

Reasons could be a) that the Germans simply didn't feel any overwhelming need for this vehicle at the time; b) inter-departemental squabbles between Heer and Luftwaffe (weapon elevation was 85 degrees) prevented this AFV from being built in great numbers; 'if I can't have it then no-one will', or c) the half-track mounted 88 mm was simply too flimsy to serve even as an improvised tank destroyer.

I am inclined to vote for a), but I am open to suggestions :) By the time tank destroyers were needed, and fast, better vehicles were in the works.
d) What the heck were they thinking of?, comes to mind as well. :D
Well, technology hardly was part of the picture for early wartime developments, as you say. But said criminal conspiracy could simply be because that by the time the Allies advanced from semi-improvised expedients to purpose-built tank destroyers they were also gaining the upper hand in the war. The Germans were fielding sexier and sexier weapons as the war went worse and worse for them. You could pass quite a damning judgement on technology if you focussed on that single aspect only.
I think you may have missed the gist of what I was saying. :roll:

User avatar
Michael Emrys
Member
Posts: 6002
Joined: 13 Jan 2005 18:44
Location: USA

Post by Michael Emrys » 06 Aug 2005 15:00

RichTO90 wrote:d) What the heck were they thinking of?, comes to mind as well. :D
"Stick a reasonably powerful AT gun on a self-propelled platform to give it more mobility," would likely be the answer. There was a lot of that going around until sufficiently armored, tracked chassis became available to make a decent TD. I note that at least the US and Soviet armies were doing basically the same thing during the last third of the 20th. century, except using recoiless rifles and guided missiles. I think the French and some other armies did likewise.

I'm sure you know better than I, Rich, but for the benefit of other readers of these pages, the problem is that fully armored vehicles tend to be hideously expensive and governments are reluctant to fund the production of sufficient numbers to put everything armies might like to put under armor. Therefore, they have to make do with lightly armored or unarmored vehicles and hope for the best. And in the case of wartime Germany, wasn't there also a shortage of production facilities and skilled labor?

Return to “Life in the Third Reich & Weimar Republic”