German vs. Allied technology

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EKB
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Post by EKB » 06 Aug 2005 20:13

Shrek wrote:
EKB wrote: 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?
Of course not. Other than its propensity to burn immediately after shots penetrated the fighting compartment, the 45-ton Panther had three main defects:

- An overtaxed drive-train designed for a 30-ton vehicle.
- An untested, unreliable engine.
- Leaking seals and gaskets, which often triggered engine fires.

There was no way to eliminate all these problems. Scheduled maintenance stops were increased dramatically from what was originally planned. To reduce the number of Panther tanks that fell out before battle was joined, the drivers were ordered to use a very light touch on the controls.

In June 1944 the 9th SS Panzer Division was ordered to the invasion front in Normandy. During the road march about 50% of their Panther tanks broke down due to engine failures.
Shrek wrote:
EKB wrote: 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.
Yes they did continue to build them, but not for the reason you gave. Experienced troops didn't like using non-turretted tanks vs. enemy tanks but the Germans were desperate to build as many vehicles as possible.

EKB

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Post by EKB » 06 Aug 2005 20:26

Shrek wrote:
EKB wrote:...Metal stressed-skin construction

At Junkers, and possibly other German companies, they made improvements based on U.S. technology. The Ju 88 was one of the beneficiaries...
Actually stressed skin all-metal aircraft are a German invention pioneered by Ernst Rohrbach and Hugo Junkers. Perhaps characteristic of the Nazi regime's attitude to invention and science, Hugo Junkers died in 1935 while in protective custody, due to his refusal to sell his company's shares to the government.
The Junkers firm hired engineers who had worked for American companies for the specific purpose of designing and manufacturing the metal skin for the Ju 88.
Shrek wrote: I think it is fair to say that the Germans had an edge in developing technological answers to specific problems for most of the war. For more urgent developments I would cite the Panther tank as an efficient response to the T-34
Unfortunately your comment overlooks unpleasant realities that the T-34 and the KV-1 caused the Germans to completely abandon their most basic principle of armored warfare. Until then the German generals believed that their tanks would not have to fight enemy tanks. They were overconfident in their theory (soon to be shattered in battle) that German anti-tank units would protect their tanks.
Shrek wrote:But technology alone does not cut it. While the Germans consistently came up with potential world-beaters such as the Me 262. The Panther was fielded prematurely before teething problems had been solved, and the potential of the Me 262 was simply not understood by the Luftwaffe top brass
Another shopworn cliche. The Me 262 would never be a world beater, nor would it serve the Germans to build them in greater quantities.

The Luftwaffe was unable to support a fleet larger than about 200 aircraft because the Jumo jet engine was so prone to failures. The factories simply could not provide the mountain of spare parts and spare engines needed to sustain more jet aircraft. In April 1945, the Germans had about 700 Me 262s, of which some 500 aircraft were gathering dust.
Shrek wrote:for the applied use of available technology, the Allies did much better.
I agree, but you have a rather slippery and unrefined way of defining "available technology". Jet and rocket technology existed before the war.
Shrek wrote: The Germans had a marginal lead in tech developments in most areas
Such as?

EKB

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Post by Jon G. » 06 Aug 2005 21:24

RichTO90 wrote:
Shrek wrote:
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:
I hope not. As you demonstrated for the US part and I for the German part, semi-improvised tank destroyers were developed by both sides in roughly the same amount of time by mating two already developed systems with one another to produce an adequate stop-gap tank destroyer. If we see the development of early tank destroyers as a tech race of sorts, the Germans and the Americans did about equally well, which I believe was your point.

By the time that improvised designs were superseded by purpose-built tank destroyers, the Americans stuck with the same basic lay-out, while the Germans developed bigger and bigger TDs, eventually fielding a barely movable tracked pillbox armed with a 128 mm gun. The Germans kept on developing tank destroyers that at least on paper would be better than the last generation, yet it did not help them - which in turn was my point.

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Post by Jon G. » 07 Aug 2005 09:30

EKB wrote:
Shrek wrote:Don't you think that track life was the primary concern here, rather than any particular defects applying only to Panthers?
Of course not. Other than its propensity to burn immediately after shots penetrated the fighting compartment, the 45-ton Panther had three main defects:
The propensity to burn was something the Panther shared with other petrol engined AFVs, such as eg. the Sherman, so I would not call that a problem specific to the Panther only.
- An overtaxed drive-train designed for a 30-ton vehicle.
AIUI, the drive train was 'overtaxed' due to the lack of torque a petrol engine offers compared to for example a diesel engine. The Maybach engine had good horse power output and it was very compact. Lack of torque was the price for compactness.
- An untested, unreliable engine.
The Maybach HL210/230 had been a major German AFV powerplant since 1942. You may call it unreliable, untested it certainly wasn't by 1944. The main difference between the two Maybach series was the carburator, the basic engine lay-out was the same.
- Leaking seals and gaskets, which often triggered engine fires...
This was a real problem when the Panther was fielded at Kursk - prematurely, as my first post on this thread claimed. Tanks which had suffered engine fires were generally back in action quickly. Again AIUI the problem of engines catching fire when tanks were going uphill was solved already on the Panther D-series.
In June 1944 the 9th SS Panzer Division was ordered to the invasion front in Normandy. During the road march about 50% of their Panther tanks broke down due to engine failures.
No doubt this division's tanks were forced to make most of the road march under their own power due to the sorry state of the French rail system at this time. You need to produce an example where a set number of Panthers travelling a specific road distance had more breakdowns than a similar number of other tanks - German or otherwise - travelling the same distance did in order to prove an especially high degree of breakdowns for Panthers compared to other tanks.
...Experienced troops didn't like using non-turretted tanks vs. enemy tanks but the Germans were desperate to build as many vehicles as possible.
Why then did they continue to build turreted tanks as well? Desperation only becomes evident when AFVs are used for other tasks than their intended role - such as using STUGs in lieu of tanks.
The Junkers firm hired engineers who had worked for American companies for the specific purpose of designing and manufacturing the metal skin for the Ju 88.
OK, but that does not make the Ju 88 an American design any more than it makes the Manhattan Project a German endeavour because German ex-patriates participated in it. Junkers flew his J-1, the world's first all-metal aircraft, in 1915.
Unfortunately your comment overlooks unpleasant realities that the T-34 and the KV-1 caused the Germans to completely abandon their most basic principle of armored warfare. Until then the German generals believed that their tanks would not have to fight enemy tanks. They were overconfident in their theory (soon to be shattered in battle) that German anti-tank units would protect their tanks.
I don't see how faulty or incorrect German doctrine for armoured warfare should demonstrate any technological shortcomings. Not that German tanks weren't supposed to fight enemy armour at all. The Panzer III was developed with that in mind. When it proved inadequate the Panther, more than a match for the T-34/76, was developed instead.
Another shopworn cliche. The Me 262 would never be a world beater, nor would it serve the Germans to build them in greater quantities.

The Luftwaffe was unable to support a fleet larger than about 200 aircraft because the Jumo jet engine was so prone to failures. The factories simply could not provide the mountain of spare parts and spare engines needed to sustain more jet aircraft. In April 1945, the Germans had about 700 Me 262s, of which some 500 aircraft were gathering dust.
Jet engines require fewer moving parts than piston engines and they perform well even on inferior fuel. Many of the Luftwaffe's problems would have been solved if they had switched to jets earlier, by April 1945 the dust-gathering state of the Me 262 fleet was hardly due to any inadequacies of the plane itself. The swept wing of the Me 262 was copied world wide after WWII.
I agree, but you have a rather slippery and unrefined way of defining "available technology". Jet and rocket technology existed before the war.
I thought the hammer drill example was illustrative of that. Technology alone will not win wars for you, it's the application of it that matters. Indeed, you could say that German over-reliance on technology was counterproductive to their war effort.
EKB wrote:
Shrek wrote:The Germans had a marginal lead in tech developments in most areas
Such as?
In no particular order it could be: gun optics, gun-laying naval radar, radio-assisted aerial boming aids and rocket technology.

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Post by Michael Emrys » 07 Aug 2005 13:45

Shrek wrote:Jet engines require fewer moving parts than piston engines and they perform well even on inferior fuel.
On the other hand, many parts, such as turbine blades, must function at much higher temperatures and thus require alloys difficult or impossible to get in wartime Germany. Substitutions had to be made, and those did not work so well. Time between major overhaul was short as also was time between complete engine replacement.
The swept wing of the Me 262 was copied world wide after WWII.
Planes had been built with swept back wings before the Me-262 and for exactly the same reason. The 262 had swept back wings not for airflow at transonic speeds, but to manage center of lift vs. center of gravity problems. You might as well claim that the Douglas DC-3/C-47 had sweptback wings!

:lol:

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Post by Jon G. » 07 Aug 2005 13:57

Grease_Spot wrote:
Shrek wrote:Jet engines require fewer moving parts than piston engines and they perform well even on inferior fuel.
On the other hand, many parts, such as turbine blades, must function at much higher temperatures and thus require alloys difficult or impossible to get in wartime Germany...
Yes, but that does not really demonstrate any technological inferiority on the Germans' part.
The swept wing of the Me 262 was copied world wide after WWII.
Planes had been built with swept back wings before the Me-262 and for exactly the same reason. The 262 had swept back wings not for airflow at transonic speeds, but to manage center of lift vs. center of gravity problems. You might as well claim that the Douglas DC-3/C-47 had sweptback wings!

:lol:
I don't follow you here. The Me 262 had swept back wings, the C-47 did not. On the other hand, I can't off-handedly remember any post-WWII jet fighter plane that didn't have a swept back wing.

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Post by Michael Emrys » 07 Aug 2005 14:41

Shrek wrote:I don't follow you here. The Me 262 had swept back wings, the C-47 did not.
Look at it again. The trailing edge may not sweep back, but the leading edge does so in dramatic fashion, and more importantly, the thickest part of the airfoil does as well.
On the other hand, I can't off-handedly remember any post-WWII jet fighter plane that didn't have a swept back wing.
I can think of a few. In the USAF, the F-84, the F-89, and the F-94 spring immediately to mind. In the USN, the F2H and the F9F.

If we allow fighters that began their lives before the end of the war, but continued in service well afterwards, there was the P-80, later F-80; and from the UK the Gloster Meteor as well as several variations on the Viper theme from DeHaviland.

Give me a little time with my books and I could probably come up with a few more.

:)

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Post by Jon G. » 07 Aug 2005 16:25

Well, most of the designs you mention predate the Me 262 in their development histories. The impact of the swept wing on fighter design was revolutionary, illustrated well by the F-84 Thunderjet's transformation into the swept-wing Thunderstreak.

Definately that applies to the Gloster Meteor as well, and probably also to de Haviland's early jets: they were all in development before aircraft engineers outside Germany had access to Me 262s for testing.

German jet research in general and the Me 262 in particular had a profound effect on the development of the F-86 Sabre...
The F-86 Sabre incorporated what American aircraft designers had learned from their initial efforts in jet aircraft design, along with captured German research data on advanced jet aircraft concepts. The result was an outstanding aircraft(...)Aircraft engineers knew that a thin swept wing could greatly reduce drag and delay the onset of compressibility problems, but such a wing also led to serious stability problems at low speed. The hard data needed to resolve the issue was not available until early 1945, when the Allies captured research data on swept-wing flight from the Germans(...)The Germans had conducted wind-tunnel tests on small swept-wing aircraft models as far back as 1940. By 1944 their work had demonstrated that swept wings offered substantial performance benefits.

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Post by Michael Emrys » 07 Aug 2005 17:44

Shrek wrote:German jet research in general and the Me 262 in particular had a profound effect on the development of the F-86 Sabre...
Sure, it's agreed that the German research data was important in influencing post war designs. That's acknowledged. But not the Me-262, whose design and construction was begun before that research was done and as I posted before, whose wings were swept for completely different reasons.

There were swept wing designs going back decades, maybe even prior to the First World War. I found some more swept wing designs dating back to prior to WW II. Most are biplanes: De Havilland Tiger Moth; Supermarine Walrus; and the Fairey Swordfish. A monoplane is the Saab J-21, albeit only the wings outboard of the engine nacelles are swept back. I hope you will agree that none of these designs were not likely to come remotely close to supersonic flight, especially the biplanes. As I stated earlier there were many reasons for adopting a swept back wing, most having to do with controling the relationship between center of lift and center of gravity.

I just thought of a jet fighter, designed well after the end of the war, whose wings were not swept: the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. This, BTW, was probably the first air-breathing fighter to reach Mach 2.5 in level flight in the mid-'50s.

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Post by Qvist » 08 Aug 2005 08:55

EKG;

I see we are not going to agree on these issues, and rather than enter into the great quoting contest by delving into Jentz and elsewhere to find equally one-sided quotes to the effect of how marvellous the Pz IV lang, the Panther and the StuG III were (and which you are presumably already aware of), I think I'm going to leave it here. :)

cheers

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Post by JonS » 08 Aug 2005 09:21

Shrek wrote:
EKB wrote:
Shrek wrote:Don't you think that track life was the primary concern here, rather than any particular defects applying only to Panthers?
Of course not. Other than its propensity to burn immediately after shots penetrated the fighting compartment, the 45-ton Panther had three main defects:
The propensity to burn was something the Panther shared with other petrol engined AFVs, such as eg. the Sherman, so I would not call that a problem specific to the Panther only.
Whether a tank had a propensity to burning had nothing (or, rather, little) to do with the fuel carried. The Sherman burned because of the way the ammo was stored. The Panther burned because of the hydraulics.

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Post by RichTO90 » 08 Aug 2005 13:47

Shrek wrote:I hope not.
No, I think what you missed was the irony.... :roll:
As you demonstrated for the US part and I for the German part, semi-improvised tank destroyers were developed by both sides in roughly the same amount of time by mating two already developed systems with one another to produce an adequate stop-gap tank destroyer. If we see the development of early tank destroyers as a tech race of sorts, the Germans and the Americans did about equally well, which I believe was your point.
No, they didn't do "about equally well" they did the same things, develop stopgaps while working on the development of a purpose-built solution - technology had little to do with it, except as a general limiter, nor was it a "tech race".
By the time that improvised designs were superseded by purpose-built tank destroyers, the Americans stuck with the same basic lay-out, while the Germans developed bigger and bigger TDs, eventually fielding a barely movable tracked pillbox armed with a 128 mm gun.
Huh? The American design went from a half-tracked, limited traverse vehicle with minimal mobility (due to the overloaded chassis) and an improvised gun to a fully tracked vehicle with superb mobility, a fully-rotating turret, and a purpose-designed gun. But yes, I suppose that just means they were "stuck with the same basic lay-out". :roll: :D

While of course the Germans went through two parallel developments, utilizing their extemporaneous Marder-type vehicles (little different from the initial US improvisations) well into late 1944 and in small numbers until the end of the war. They also of course improvised a pseudo tank destroyer by giving the StuG a higher-velocity gun (which of course did not solve the problems with mobility, visibility and responsive fire control the basic design entailed and which of course also existed in the Marder - but they did have a roof! 8) ) , but nevermind that in doing so they also partly took it away from its doctrinal task of doing direct support for infantry in the assault.

So it could be easily argued that the Germans "stuck with the same basic lay-out" in a much more literal sense, they just kept adding armor to the thing. :D
The Germans kept on developing tank destroyers that at least on paper would be better than the last generation, yet it did not help them - which in turn was my point.
Exactly, because they changed from one extemporaneous design to another for expedient reasons (at least in part for many of the designs because it was the smart decision, it fit the manufacturing capability of the available smaller plants better, building more "tank-like" tank destroyers a la the Americans would have consumed considerable plant investment and additional production cycles, just when the Germans could least afford either) - which in turn was one of my points. :D

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Post by RichTO90 » 08 Aug 2005 13:50

JonS wrote: Whether a tank had a propensity to burning had nothing (or, rather, little) to do with the fuel carried. The Sherman burned because of the way the ammo was stored. The Panther burned because of the hydraulics.
Well, hydaulics and ammo stowage in the case of the Panther - the ammo was stowed in the sponsons, just as in the pre-1944 production Shermans - and with the same consequences when hit. :D

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Post by Jon G. » 09 Aug 2005 18:20

RichTO90 wrote:No, I think what you missed was the irony.... :roll:
I can certainly appreciate the irony of German and American developments of stop-gap tank destroyers being seen as a strong feat of hasty improvisation on the Germans' part and as a 'failure of technology' on the American part respectively, even though reality shows that roughly comparable vehicles were developed in roughly comparable timespans.

My apparently futile attempt at expanding your ironic point was that if we accept the myth of superior Teuton high-tech, why then did the Germans continue fixing something that wasn't broken right through until the end of the war? Specifically by evolving from the none-too-bad long-barrelled STUG to the barely mobile Jagdtiger.
No, they didn't do "about equally well" they did the same things, develop stopgaps while working on the development of a purpose-built solution - technology had little to do with it, except as a general limiter, nor was it a "tech race".
"Did equally well" in terms of time spent in producing similar semi-improvised tank destroyers of about similar ability.
By the time that improvised designs were superseded by purpose-built tank destroyers, the Americans stuck with the same basic lay-out, while the Germans developed bigger and bigger TDs, eventually fielding a barely movable tracked pillbox armed with a 128 mm gun.
Huh? The American design went from a half-tracked, limited traverse vehicle with minimal mobility (due to the overloaded chassis) and an improvised gun to a fully tracked vehicle with superb mobility, a fully-rotating turret, and a purpose-designed gun. But yes, I suppose that just means they were "stuck with the same basic lay-out". :roll: :D
That's not what I meant. The evolvement from the M 10 to the M 36 is logical and easy to follow; it's basically the same vehicle with a more powerful gun and a stronger engine to facilitate the increased weight in its later incarnation. The trade-off between firepower, mobility and protection was the same in the two vehicles, and the chassis was the same. Contrast that to the German dedicated tank destroyers, which at a quick count utilized five different chassis, and which continously traded away more and more mobility (and probably reliability as well) in return for increased firepower.

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Post by RichTO90 » 09 Aug 2005 23:41

Shrek wrote:I can certainly appreciate the irony of German and American developments of stop-gap tank destroyers being seen as a strong feat of hasty improvisation on the Germans' part and as a 'failure of technology' on the American part respectively, even though reality shows that roughly comparable vehicles were developed in roughly comparable timespans.
Yep, you missed the irony entirely. Sad, I used to be better at irony. :D
That's not what I meant.
I suspected you were leaping forward in time again. Why is it that when it comes to evolutionary development nobody wants to begin with the beginning? :P I was speaking as to the parallel evolution of:

US T12/M6 TD to M10 to M36

German JgPz I to Marders (StuG were a separate expedient that took them away from their primary duty) to Hetzer and Jagdpanzers
The evolvement from the M 10 to the M 36 is logical and easy to follow; it's basically the same vehicle with a more powerful gun and a stronger engine to facilitate the increased weight in its later incarnation.
Um, sorry the M36 was another expedient, the culminating, purpose-designed tank destroyer was the M18. BTW, it was the same vehicle and same engine (the engine depended on the chassis variant), most of the M36 that saw service were conversions from M10.
The trade-off between firepower, mobility and protection was the same in the two vehicles, and the chassis was the same. Contrast that to the German dedicated tank destroyers, which at a quick count utilized five different chassis, and which continously traded away more and more mobility (and probably reliability as well) in return for increased firepower.
Yes, but the later multiplicity of types was a manufacturing-related problem, it wasn't an attempt to perfect the turretless tank destroyer. The 38 (t) and Panzer IV had reached the limit of their use, but neither factory producing them could be easily converted to building the newer generation of tanks, thus the StuG IV, Jagpanzer IV and the Hetzer. If the factories had been capable of it, they would have been producing Panthers (or Jagdpanthers I suppose). As I said before, there was nothing 'wrong' with that decision really, it was expedient, that's all.

But on the whole I think we're in pretty close accord and just quibbling over details and semantics now. :D

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