German vs. Allied technology

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EKB
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Post by EKB » 13 Aug 2005 07:00

Shrek wrote:
EKB wrote: 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.
If anything, less torque from the motor would have brought some relief to the more flimsy drivetrain components. Maximum power was originally measured at 3,000 rpm. After November 1943 the Maybach was limited to 2,500 rpm to reduce engine and drivetrain failures -- which also meant that the engine was substantially derated in horsepower from the original specs.
Shrek wrote:
EKB wrote: 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 engine installed in the Panther tank was considered to be untested and unproven, according to the German Army. If you disagree with their findings perhaps you should post a complaint to the proper agencies.

Shrek wrote:
EKB wrote: 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.
Another half-baked explanation of a more complex problem. On the Panther 'D' the fuel pumps were also defective -- leaking petrol ignited easily due to the Panther's poor engine cooling characteristics. Replacing defective parts reduced the number of engine fires but alas, did not eliminate them. Leaking fluids were a problem on all Panthers.
Shrek wrote:
EKB wrote: 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.
The tanks were offloaded near Paris after one of the trains was attacked by Allied planes.
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
Pick any of the Sherman tank battalions, circa 1944, that road marched the same distance with new vehicles. None suffered such a high percentage of engine failures.

The Hohenstaufen division Panthers were recently delivered from the factory and little used. They expected the engines would last 1,500 km or more, but instead half of the motors failed during the first 300 km. Not surprisingly, that other German piece-of-shit, the Tiger I, also suffered a high number of mechanical failures. More than half of the Tigers from Heavy SS Tank Battalion 101 fell out due to road breakdowns.
Shrek wrote:
EKB wrote: 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.
Its obvious that you aren't aware that the assault gun lobby in Germany was greatly supported by Hitler himself, who pressed to build more of them, against the advice of experienced panzer officers.
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.
Gun traverse was yet another area of technological superiority by the Allies. The T-34 could fully revolve it's electric turret in just 10 seconds. The Panther Ausf D had a hydraulic motor that required 60 seconds to fully revolve the turret. The Germans were then forced to modify the turret traverse system by making it dependent on engine speed. Altogether a rather clumsy connection that was hard on the Maybach engine -- if revved up and held at full throttle (2,500 rpm) the turret could fully revolve in 18 seconds.
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.

But German jet engines were unreliable and had poor high-altitude performance, even when manufactured with the proper high-temperature alloys. Any child who folded a paper airplane was familiar with swept wings and delta wings -- for a long, long time before the appearance of jets.
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.
It would be more accurate to say that the Allies relied more on technology, and that it was helpful to their war effort.
Shrek wrote:
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.
In other words, the Germans did not have a marginal lead in 'most areas', as you had claimed originally. Moreover the Allies had better gun-laying naval radars and radio-assisted bombing aids, and the Germans adopted their technology.

EKB

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Post by Jon G. » 13 Aug 2005 08:19

EKB, I am not bothered to go into lengthy discussion on the flaws of the Panther tank because I don't consider eg. lower turret rotation speed or a higher likelyhood of catching fire than eg. Shermans descriptive of the Panther's effectiveness relative to Allied and Soviet tanks. Surely the superior (in comparison) gun of the Panther and its better armour protection must be taken into account if you want to judge it as technologically inferior to the Sherman and the T-34. For a piece of shite the Panther did very well in terms of enemy tanks destroyed, even at Kursk. I would measure the Panther's technological level in number of enemy tanks it accounted for, not by its likelyhood of catching fire.
In other words, the Germans did not have a marginal lead in 'most areas', as you had claimed originally. Moreover the Allies had better gun-laying naval radars and radio-assisted bombing aids, and the Germans adopted their technology.
Drop the polemics, it's really annoying. You didn't seriously expect me to sum up all weapons and technologies of note, did you? Other areas could be taper-bored AT guns, hollow-charged shells and magnetic mines.

Maybe you could explain to me which Allied radar system the Seetakt gun-laying radar was copied from and how the X-Gerät radio-assisted bombing aid derived from navigational aids almost as old as aviation itself pioneered by Telefunken since the early 20th century was adopted from Allied technology? Not that I am out to prove that German technology was superior to Allied tech all round. Merely that it wasn't inferior.

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Post by Andreas » 13 Aug 2005 14:48

EKB - drop the attitude. You can make your points without it, and they will carry more weight.

Thanks.

Andreas

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Post by Andreas » 13 Aug 2005 15:49

Shrek wrote:1. I would measure the Panther's technological level in number of enemy tanks it accounted for, not by its likelyhood of catching fire.

2. Other areas could be taper-bored AT guns, hollow-charged shells and magnetic mines.
1. I think that is the wrong way of going about it. The Panther had some serious technological flaws, like all tanks of its generation. That is hardly surprising considering it appeared at a time when the balance between firepower, armour protection, and movement capabilities was still something that was experimented on. That Panther certainly got one completely right, firepower, and one partially - armour protection was good as long as the tank was in a defensive position, but extremely exposed when it was on the attack. The last one is something I can not comment on, but let's just say that the movement performance of the Panther (as well as its overall performance) was certainly made to look better by the fact that it mostly appeared in defensive combat. I have my doubts that a German Panzer division of 1944 could have repeated the feat of 12. Panzerdivision in September 1941 - an 800+km roadmarch across Russian roads with no fall-outs. The critique of the Panther by EKB is in my view a bit over the top - but so is the belief that it was a tank that stood head and shoulders above Allied tanks that is often found on the other side of the debate.

2. Taper-bored AT guns were a technological dead-end, not just because of the lack of Tungsten/Wolfram, but also because the barrels only lasted for 500 shots. Magnetic mines again were something the Germans desperately needed, because of the weak AT capacity of their infantry, and the lack of tanks to back them up. Other nations went with lots of AT guns and lots of tanks instead. Hollow-charge shells you are right - important technological advance, AFAIUI.

Finally a word of warning - this has been a very very good debate thus far. Lots of good arguments backed up by lots of facts. Very enjoyable. Let's keep it that way, and let's keep personalities out of it.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Jon G. » 14 Aug 2005 07:40

Well, maybe the ability to undertake 800+ mile kilometer road marches wasn't seen as a critical requirement when the Panther was designed :)? Like several other German weapons systems it held a lot of promise, but its mechanical shortcomings meant that the potential to completely outclass the opposition's tanks was never fully realised.

The taper-bored AT gun was certainly a technological accomplishment, and other nations may have decided that it would have been worth while despite the drawbacks of short barrel life and scarce tungsten ammunition. I think the decision not to adapt the taper-bored design was due to limited stocks of tungsten, not due to any shortcomings of the gun itself. It was tested in North Africa with very promising results.

I was actually thinking of the magnetic sea mine :) This clever device accounted for many ships in the waters around Britain, but limited stocks meant that this weapon too wasn't quite used to the maximum of its potential. It was fitted with a clever light-activated booby-trap device, meaning that the mine would explode when opened to keep its activation process secret. A dud was recovered by the British already after a few months of war, which was a remarkable stroke of luck.

The subsequent frantic de-gaussing of ships meant that the magnetic mine lost much impact over the winter of 1939-1940. Possibly the de-gaussing also made magnetic torpedo pistols even more prone to failure than they already were.

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Post by Michael Emrys » 14 Aug 2005 19:11

Shrek wrote:The taper-bored AT gun was certainly a technological accomplishment, and other nations may have decided that it would have been worth while despite the drawbacks of short barrel life and scarce tungsten ammunition. I think the decision not to adapt the taper-bored design was due to limited stocks of tungsten, not due to any shortcomings of the gun itself. It was tested in North Africa with very promising results.
The reason the taper bore gun was not pursued in the West was not due to any shortage of tungsten, of which there was enough, but because the British were working on a more promising system that eventually became universal: the discarding sabot.
I was actually thinking of the magnetic sea mine :) This clever device accounted for many ships in the waters around Britain, but limited stocks meant that this weapon too wasn't quite used to the maximum of its potential. It was fitted with a clever light-activated booby-trap device, meaning that the mine would explode when opened to keep its activation process secret. A dud was recovered by the British already after a few months of war, which was a remarkable stroke of luck.

The subsequent frantic de-gaussing of ships meant that the magnetic mine lost much impact over the winter of 1939-1940. Possibly the de-gaussing also made magnetic torpedo pistols even more prone to failure than they already were.
The magnetic mine was a problem, but as you note, one that was contained early on. Much trickier to deal with were mines that responded to shadows passing over them and to pressure pulses in the water from hulls passing over.

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Post by Andreas » 21 Aug 2005 22:49

Shrek wrote:Well, maybe the ability to undertake 800+ mile kilometer road marches wasn't seen as a critical requirement when the Panther was designed :)? Like several other German weapons systems it held a lot of promise, but its mechanical shortcomings meant that the potential to completely outclass the opposition's tanks was never fully realised.
Which is just one way of saying that it was really not such a great tank as its admirers always want us to believe. :) It did one thing very well - defensive combat. Not enough to appear in the first real MBT class, in my view. I personally don't think that the Allies would have advanced much faster if they had used Panthers instead of Shermans or T34s, but that is just an opinion.

It is also funny that many people criticise the height of the Sherman, but somehow fail to note that the Panther was as high, just as an aside.
Shrek wrote:The taper-bored AT gun was certainly a technological accomplishment, and other nations may have decided that it would have been worth while despite the drawbacks of short barrel life and scarce tungsten ammunition. I think the decision not to adapt the taper-bored design was due to limited stocks of tungsten, not due to any shortcomings of the gun itself. It was tested in North Africa with very promising results.
In an army already dealing with serious logistical issues, adding another frequent-change item to the system is really a drawback, and while the lack of Tungsten was the primary factor AIUI, barrel-wear by itself may have sunk it if that had not been the case.
Shrek wrote:I was actually thinking of the magnetic sea mine :) This clever device accounted for many ships in the waters around Britain, but limited stocks meant that this weapon too wasn't quite used to the maximum of its potential. It was fitted with a clever light-activated booby-trap device, meaning that the mine would explode when opened to keep its activation process secret. A dud was recovered by the British already after a few months of war, which was a remarkable stroke of luck.

The subsequent frantic de-gaussing of ships meant that the magnetic mine lost much impact over the winter of 1939-1940. Possibly the de-gaussing also made magnetic torpedo pistols even more prone to failure than they already were.
A weapon that was so advanced that a relatively simple expedient negated its effectiveness within months of its appearance is not really one that will convince me of German technological superiority. :)

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Post by Epaminondas » 22 Aug 2005 14:16

While critizing the mechnical reliabilty of the Panther does have some merit; comparing its reliabilty to the Sherman is a joke.

the sherman, as well as most american tanks of WWII were excellent in mechnical reliabilty.

Soviet units assigned to deep operations frequently preferred Shermans for that reason- despite being dead meat to german tanks.

Compared to other German tanks, or soviet tanks for that matter, the panther has average mechnical reliabilty.

Having a large number of tanks drop out in a forced march was normal germans, not some unsually bad about the panther. Even the IIIs and IVs had maintance stops on road marchs... not to mention the tiger.

---

the panther was designed to fight soviets, and be a superior battlefield tank;not be a mechnically reliable, easily transportable on ship tank- which was the design objectives for the sherman

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Post by Andreas » 22 Aug 2005 14:27

Epaminondas wrote:While critizing the mechnical reliabilty of the Panther does have some merit; comparing its reliabilty to the Sherman is a joke.

the sherman, as well as most american tanks of WWII were excellent in mechnical reliabilty.

Soviet units assigned to deep operations frequently preferred Shermans for that reason- despite being dead meat to german tanks.

Compared to other German tanks, or soviet tanks for that matter, the panther has average mechnical reliabilty.

Having a large number of tanks drop out in a forced march was normal germans, not some unsually bad about the panther. Even the IIIs and IVs had maintance stops on road marchs... not to mention the tiger.

---

the panther was designed to fight soviets, and be a superior battlefield tank;not be a mechnically reliable, easily transportable on ship tank- which was the design objectives for the sherman
While I agree that the comparison is not a fair one, since they were clearly designed with different roles in mind, it is one that needs to be made if you want to assess the tank, and it is a comparison that is made by all and sundry when they come along extolling the virtues of the Panther over the 'insert Allied tank here'. I have already outlined why I do not think the Panther fulfilled its role as a 'superior battlefield tank', unless you mean 'superior defensive battlefield tank'.

The Panther was a good tank, and in a very narrow role vastly superior to anything the Allies could field. But it was not the all-singing, all-dancing first real MBT that stood head and shoulders above all other tanks designed in WW2.

Maintenance stops are not the same as complete fall-outs due to mechanical breakdowns. The 800+km roadmarch I referred to above was conducted with a mix of 38(t) and Panzer IV by 12.PD in September 1941. The claim is made by Niepold in his divisional history.

Regarding the Soviet units, I think what you mean is that Soviet planners preferred the Sherman over the T34 for deep exploitation. I doubt the units had any say in the matter. Since the Sherman 76 and the T34/85 probably had about as much of a chance when meeting Panthers, going for the more mechanically reliable tank in this role makes sense. The Guards Mech units with the Shermans just needed to rely on the plan to work - that in the deep exploitation phase there were few Panthers and Tigers around that could bother them. :)

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Epaminondas » 22 Aug 2005 17:14

taper bored guns were a logical development to try to break the consant war between guns and armor [and wieght of the AT gun]

Even before the war the germans realized that there was no logical limit to the size of the gun needed to defeat armor, when the armor would always be increasing to match... and there was a pratical limit to the size of the AT gun which was man movable and conceallable.

Taper guns were one of several means to try to revolutize AT warfare. It turns out, most due to ammo shortages for Germany, and better technology for everyone, that it wasn't a great idea. It did work though... the 2.8 cm taper gun was an effective gun, comparable to the 50mm AT gun for half the size.

It just turns out HEAT rounds for infantry and sabot rounds for tanks are much better...

in 1939 that was not obvious. you have to persue multiple research paths to make sure you come up with a workable idea... modern R&D companies develop hundreds of drug canidates to come up with one finished product usable by humans.

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Post by Andreas » 22 Aug 2005 17:29

Epaminondas wrote:Taper guns were one of several means to try to revolutize AT warfare. It turns out, most due to ammo shortages for Germany, and better technology for everyone, that it wasn't a great idea. It did work though... the 2.8 cm taper gun was an effective gun, comparable to the 50mm AT gun for half the size.

It just turns out HEAT rounds for infantry and sabot rounds for tanks are much better...
The question is not whether it worked, but whether the German technology was superior. In the case of taper-bored guns, it was in a dead-end, and one that could have been realised before significant research effort was expended on them, since the lack of Tungsten was presumably not a secret to the Reich's raw materials planners. Allied technology was superior in this aspect, but that does not mean that German technology did not work, just that it was not as good.

The Americans were first to supply infantry with a HEAT rocket launcher (although the Germans much improved on the design), and the British (IIRC) introduced sabot rounds, while the Germans were going down the dead end of taper-bore guns, and when they realised that that is what it was had to settle for producing AT guns that can best be described as a joke, such as the Pak 43/41 or the 12.8cm Pak 80. Great weapons on a self-propelled carriage, but as stationary weapons rather useless.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Jon G. » 23 Aug 2005 16:36

Andreas wrote:
Shrek wrote:...Like several other German weapons systems it [the Panther] held a lot of promise, but its mechanical shortcomings meant that the potential to completely outclass the opposition's tanks was never fully realised.
Which is just one way of saying that it was really not such a great tank as its admirers always want us to believe. :) It did one thing very well - defensive combat. Not enough to appear in the first real MBT class, in my view. I personally don't think that the Allies would have advanced much faster if they had used Panthers instead of Shermans or T34s, but that is just an opinion.
As long as we stay with paper specs only, the Panther clearly outclassed its opposition in the three key areas of firepower, protection and mobility expressed as the mix of armour-penetrating capability of main gun, armour thickness and power-to-weight ratio. Engine life and reliability, fuel system reliability, turret traverse speed, or height for that matter, have no bearing on these three key characteristics, and side armour was still thicker than on the Sherman (40 mm vs. 38 mm) and only slightly thinner than the T-34's 45 mm.

The Panther's advantages in these areas mean less for it was fielded too early, before teething problems had been solved. At least to a degree it remained a paper tiger, even if most teething problems were eventually solved the basic drawbacks of the fickle Maybach engine remained. We might conclude that the Panther was fielded too early because of amateur interference both in its development and its deployment, or we might even decide that there was no time to fix all the Panther's problems due to the urgent need for a new and better tank at the front.

If we reverse your analogy and equip the German panzer forces with Centurions and Pershings, I think they too would have been fielded earlier by the Germans than they were by the Allies, complete with teething problems and insufficiently trained crews.

Whether the Allies wanted all problems weeded out before they fielded new tanks, or whether they simply did not see any urgently pressing need for new tanks I will leave for you to decide, but the development of stop-gap tank destroyers discussed earlier in this thread shows that similar requirements yield roughly similar weapons systems, developed in roughly similar timespans.

We can't know if the taper-bored AT gun would have been a dead-end due to barrel wear, but the Germans' general willingness to field new and untested weapons systems in live conditions suggests to me that short barrel life would have been considered an acceptable drawback if the Germans had had enough tungsten to produce the taper-bored AT gun in quantity.
A weapon [the magnetic sea mine] that was so advanced that a relatively simple expedient negated its effectiveness within months of its appearance is not really one that will convince me of German technological superiority. :)
It can only be described as bad luck on the Germans' part that a dud was recovered so early on. After all, the booby-trap in the magnetic mine was supposed to keep its activation mechanism secret. If anything, that shows an over-reliance on technology that you may also find in other German weapon systems.

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Post by Mark V » 23 Aug 2005 17:31

Andreas wrote:In the case of taper-bored guns, it was in a dead-end, and one that could have been realised before significant research effort was expended on them, since the lack of Tungsten was presumably not a secret to the Reich's raw materials planners. Allied technology was superior in this aspect, but that does not mean that German technology did not work, just that it was not as good.
Hi,

For sure Germans knew that they will NEVER have plentifull supply of Tungsten (in many other areas of armament the limited raw-material choices were taken to account during development). In that regard taper-bore AT-weapons were an irrational development path.

Plus - taper-bore gun can not fire HE (atleast not without sacrificing chemical payload), so the weapon is useless against unarmoured targets (soft-skinned vehicles, AT-guns, infantry, etc...). APDS is much more sensible, cheaper and more flexible way to equal performance (no need to develope an special gun).


Regards, Mark V

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Post by EKB » 28 Aug 2005 02:03

Shrek wrote:EKB, I am not bothered to go into lengthy discussion on the flaws of the Panther tank because I don't consider eg. lower turret rotation speed or a higher likelyhood of catching fire than eg. Shermans descriptive of the Panther's effectiveness relative to Allied and Soviet tanks. Surely the superior (in comparison) gun of the Panther and its better armour protection must be taken into account if you want to judge it as technologically inferior to the Sherman and the T-34. For a piece of shite the Panther did very well in terms of enemy tanks destroyed, even at Kursk. I would measure the Panther's technological level in number of enemy tanks it accounted for, not by its likelyhood of catching fire.
You also didn't bother to factor in the heaps of German infantry that were shot up or blown to pieces because their tanks were so unreliable.

In 1944-45, any kind of German success in Western Europe was dependent upon bad weather together with very close cooperation of armor, infantry, engineers and artillery. But German officers rarely practiced what was preached. The record shows that sort of cooperation was usually bad and sometimes nonexistent. It did not help that the overall servicability of the Panther was below 50%; whilst the Tiger I and the Panzer IV were not much better.
Shrek wrote:
In other words, the Germans did not have a marginal lead in 'most areas', as you had claimed originally. Moreover the Allies had better gun-laying naval radars and radio-assisted bombing aids, and the Germans adopted their technology.
Drop the polemics, it's really annoying. You didn't seriously expect me to sum up all weapons and technologies of note, did you?

No one expected you to back up an assumption that has no factual basis.

Shrek wrote: Other areas could be taper-bored AT guns, hollow-charged shells and magnetic mines.
Disagree. Hollow-charge and magnetic mine categories are debatable.
Shrek wrote: Maybe you could explain to me which Allied radar system the Seetakt gun-laying radar was copied from and how the X-Gerät radio-assisted bombing aid derived from navigational aids almost as old as aviation itself pioneered by Telefunken since the early 20th century was adopted from Allied technology?


By 1945 standards, German fire control radars were clumsy and not very sophisticated. They were powerful because the Kriegsmarine initially overemphasized fire control and underestimated the need for search radars, resulting in an unhappy compromise.

Eventually the Germans realized that philosophy was a serious mistake but in the mean time the Kriegsmarine was forced to adopt their fire control radars for other tasks, including air and surface search to which they were unsuitable. Multi-tasking also meant that the fire control sets had to be more powerful. Not surprisingly, that method was unsatisfactory so the Germans later responded with the FuMO 81, 82, 83, 84 -- naval versions of German search radars that were directly based on captured British sets. FuMO 81 was originally intended for smaller ships but ultimately installed on the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen in 1945.

For Luftwaffe bombing aids, the German Egon system was the most useful vs. ECM, and again based on captured British equipment.

:::EKB:::

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Post by EKB » 28 Aug 2005 04:43

Shrek wrote:
Andreas wrote:
Shrek wrote:...Like several other German weapons systems it [the Panther] held a lot of promise, but its mechanical shortcomings meant that the potential to completely outclass the opposition's tanks was never fully realised.
Which is just one way of saying that it was really not such a great tank as its admirers always want us to believe. :) It did one thing very well - defensive combat. Not enough to appear in the first real MBT class, in my view. I personally don't think that the Allies would have advanced much faster if they had used Panthers instead of Shermans or T34s, but that is just an opinion.
As long as we stay with paper specs only, the Panther clearly outclassed its opposition in the three key areas of firepower, protection and mobility .


Not the opposition in the same weight class, such as IS-2 and M-26. Forget the M-4 and the T-34. It doesn't make sense to compare a newer 45-ton tank to an older 30-ton tank.

You might as well compare the Panther to the M-3 Stuart, or the M-1 Abrams for that matter.

:::EKB:::

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