German Tank Losses In Normandy

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Freikorps, Reichswehr, Austrian Bundesheer, Heer, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Fallschirmjäger and the other Luftwaffe ground forces. Hosted by Christoph Awender.
Darrin
Member
Posts: 831
Joined: 17 Apr 2002 10:44
Location: Canada

German Tank Losses In Normandy

Post by Darrin » 23 Apr 2002 11:54

According to Zetterling's Normandy book the number of ger tanks des in normandy is underreported. In aug the number was proboably around 1000 according to this book which is double the offical ger numbers. He does not discuss any problem with the earlier period the ger report a little less than 500 tanks etc. destroyed from 6 june to the end of july.

Panzer lehr, 17th SS PG, 12th SS PD, 2nd PD and 21st PD were all involved from the very beging of june. This makes 5 divs. 10th SS PD, 9th SS PD, 2 SS PD and 1st SS PD enter the battle at the very end of june or beging of july bring the tot number of divs to 9. The 116th PD entered the frey 1 week from the end of july and the 9th PD a few days into aug. Both of these divs had little to do with ger losses from jun to july and I will ignore them.

Using the same Normandy source as above. The only div it is possible to calculate the number of tanks des for during this time frame is the panzer lehr PD. Around 170 tanks AGs etc were des up to the end of july for this div alone. If all 5 mech div present in june had similar loses that would mean around 850 just for these. Undoubtably this is too high an est as I will discuss below but I think you can see ger tank des up to the end of July is also underreported by perhaps 30% (increse tank des by 30% to arrive at more resonable numbers).

The other div for which some info is avaialable is the 12th SS PD and up to 9 July it reported 84 tanks des (IVs and Vs). But to est losses to the end of july requires the extesion of loss rate from only 4 to 7 weeks. If this was true this div would have around 140 tanks des by the end of july. Using this lower figure than above still causes losses for jun and july to be est at much above 500.

Some div such as the 17th SS PG had less tanks and certainly incurred less losses. The 17th has less tanks because of its PG status but the 10th SS PG had the lowest number of tanks of any of these div its panther bat never arrived in france. There were 4 extra divs in july that I am not using to base my estemites on. I am only using the 5 PD/PG div present almost from the begining of normandy. I am also not considering tanks and AGs present outside of these 5 or 9 Panzer divs. Either independent bats or organic to inf divs here in france.

There are certainly things pulling both ways but I think you can see that overall even in June and July the number of reported tanks des by germany is too low. It is just a matter of deciding how low.

Timo
Member
Posts: 3869
Joined: 09 Mar 2002 22:09
Location: Europe

Re: German Tank Losses In Normandy

Post by Timo » 23 Apr 2002 12:22

A few points:
- What do we consider a "tank". When a German commander reported a lost Panzer he was talking about a tank with a turret. All others were TD's, Panzerjäger;
- Are you talking about destroyed (totalausfall) or disabled but repairabel (ausfall)? Many tanks were in fact "destroyed" several times before it was definitely lost;
- What reason would a German commander have had to report less tanks then actually destroyed? It would mean that he would receive less replacements and what good would that do?
Last edited by Timo on 23 Apr 2002 13:08, edited 3 times in total.

Gwynn Compton
Member
Posts: 2840
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 22:46
Location: United Kingdom

Post by Gwynn Compton » 23 Apr 2002 12:35

Timo,

Equally good points

Also you must remember how in tank battles, often several people claim the same "kill", thus creating an error when an estimate is obtained by dividing the total number of kills by a certain factor, I don't know what the American's used though.

How big is this error for the Americans?

A possible way of looking at it could be to add up the total number of Panzer's and Panzerjagers supplied to units during the battle.

Darrin
Member
Posts: 831
Joined: 17 Apr 2002 10:44
Location: Canada

Re: German Tank Losses In Normandy

Post by Darrin » 23 Apr 2002 13:02

Timo wrote:A few points:

- What do you consider a Panzer and what did the Germans consider a Panzer. For example, for the Germans a Marder was not a Panzer but the Americans counted them as tanks. Did you include them?;
- are we dealing with the number of completely destroyed Panzers (totalausfall) or disabled but repairable (ausfall). Due to this many Panzers were "destroyed" several times;
- what reasons would there have been for a German commander to report less destroyed Panzers then the actual number?

Regards,
Timo



I am talking about total destroyed irrepairable ger tanks, assult guns, tank des and spatgs. Maraders should be included in the ger reports somehow under this definition. At this point panzer div were not supposed to have them but a few did. The inf divs were suposed to have maraders but few did.

I'm not trying to say that the ger system was normally inaccurate or but under this battle it definatly was. To discuss the ger number of aug was at about half what actually was des. First in the areas of morin, falise and the area between falise and the seine british operational rescearch groups couted almost 500 ger tanks des alone. Not claims but counted actual wreaks. This is only for a small part of france which basically the allies captured in almost entirety during august. It sems that bettween tanks the teams missed in thier areas and losses in the rest of france losses of around 1000 are more likly. During aug the ger intially undereported tot per losses by as well. They eventually went back and corrected the numbers after the event. The tot corrected losses was about 2.4 times higer than intial 10 day reports made in aug. No upadate of the tank figures has been found but it is not unreasonable to succepect that tank losses should also be doubled. You can read his book to get some more proper arguments if you wish.

The ger obviously only reported what they knew at that time to be destroyed then proably never bothered to go back and correct tank reports in aug. Keeping track of the peole is far more important to the army than trying to correct tank losses. The important thing with tanks was to find out who had what in Sep then get to them whatever they needed.

Darrin
Member
Posts: 831
Joined: 17 Apr 2002 10:44
Location: Canada

Post by Darrin » 23 Apr 2002 13:14

Timo,

I see you went back and edited after the reply. It is obvious that the ger underreported thier losses for what ever reason by half in aug. It also seems likey to me that the ger underreported thier loses in june and ruly to a lesser extent. What little evidence there is suggests this is so. Unfortunatly the evidence available is too little that I can not prove it. The ger reports that surrve are far too incomplete to be definate about anything. Not even that the overall ger reported number of 500 tanks lost in june and july is correct.

Darrin
Member
Posts: 831
Joined: 17 Apr 2002 10:44
Location: Canada

Post by Darrin » 23 Apr 2002 13:16

Timo,

A third edit?

I'm sorry I am not reading or responding.

Timo
Member
Posts: 3869
Joined: 09 Mar 2002 22:09
Location: Europe

Post by Timo » 23 Apr 2002 13:17

According to Zetterling's Normandy book the number of ger tanks des in normandy is underreported. In aug the number was proboably around 1000 according to this book which is double the offical ger numbers. He does not discuss any problem with the earlier period the ger report a little less than 500 tanks etc. destroyed from 6 june to the end of july.


In short:
- less than 500 tanks (btw, whats with the "etc."?) destroyed in June and July.
- probabely 1000 in August, i.e. Mortain and Falaise included.

Panzer lehr, 17th SS PG, 12th SS PD, 2nd PD and 21st PD were all involved from the very beging of june. This makes 5 divs. 10th SS PD, 9th SS PD, 2 SS PD and 1st SS PD enter the battle at the very end of june or beging of july bring the tot number of divs to 9.


17.SS PGD "GvB" had only one Panzer-Abteilung that was mainly equipped with StuGs and Marders. Both vehicles were not considered Panzers in German reports but as Panzerjägers. 21.PD had some Panzers, but was mainly equipped with a variety of Panzerjägers based on old French chassis.

The 116th PD entered the frey 1 week from the end of july and the 9th PD a few days into aug. Both of these divs had little to do with ger losses from jun to july and I will ignore them.


I understand you leave them out for the 500 number, correct?

Using the same Normandy source as above. The only div it is possible to calculate the number of tanks des for during this time frame is the panzer lehr PD. Around 170 tanks AGs etc were des up to the end of july for this div alone. If all 5 mech div present in june had similar loses that would mean around 850 just for these. Undoubtably this is too high an est as I will discuss below but I think you can see ger tank des up to the end of July is also underreported by perhaps 30% (increse tank des by 30% to arrive at more resonable numbers).


But did all 5 mechanised divisions present in June have:
- The same number of Panzers available? (see above about 17.SS and 21.);
- see comperable action (is it fair to assume they would have similar loses)?;
Also:
- Ausfall or Totalausfall?;
- Panzer and Pazerjäger?;

The other div for which some info is avaialable is the 12th SS PD and up to 9 July it reported 84 tanks des (IVs and Vs). But to est losses to the end of july requires the extesion of loss rate from only 4 to 7 weeks. If this was true this div would have around 140 tanks des by the end of july. Using this lower figure than above still causes losses for jun and july to be est at much above 500.


Why? It is all based on the assumption that 12.SS lost a comparable number of tanks in the weeks that followed. Did the "HJ" see comparable combat between 10 July and the end of that month?

Some div such as the 17th SS PG had less tanks and certainly incurred less losses. The 17th has less tanks because of its PG status but the 10th SS PG had the lowest number of tanks of any of these div its panther bat never arrived in france.


As mentioned above, hardly any lost tank from 17.SS would have been reported as a lost Panzer, as their Panzer-Abteilung was mainly equipped with StuGs.

There were 4 extra divs in july that I am not using to base my estemites on. I am only using the 5 PD/PG div present almost from the begining of normandy. I am also not considering tanks and AGs present outside of these 5 or 9 Panzer divs. Either independent bats or organic to inf divs here in france.


Hmmm. A bit odd. I mean, without taking actual combat into consideration you simply take a guess at the missing figures assuming that combat was equally fierce for all Panzer units during all weeks of June/July.
Leaving out "4 extra divs" is fair if your calculations are based on just Panzers, because all the left out units just had Panzerjäger. On the other hand its a mistake to leave them out if you are dealing with the combined Panzer/Panzerjäger ausfall/totalausfall.

There are certainly things pulling both ways but I think you can see that overall even in June and July the number of reported tanks des by germany is too low. It is just a matter of deciding how low.


I don't think you've given any prove for that statement yet, apart from some very doubtful assumptions which are not based on any facts.

I am talking about total destroyed irrepairable ger tanks, assult guns, tank des and spatgs.


In that case you are making assumptions based wild guessing. Like I said: how can you compare units and assume that they had equal losses and that each individual unit had equal losses each week?

Maraders should be included in the ger reports somehow under this definition. At this point panzer div were not supposed to have them but a few did. The inf divs were suposed to have maraders but few did.


Marders (not Maraders) have been widely used in Normandy, mainly the versions based on old French chassis. It saw wide use with Infantry units. Even 21.PD had a considerable number of them.

I'm not trying to say that the ger system was normally inaccurate or but under this battle it definatly was.


I am not saying that this is a wrong assumption, just that the calculations used are no prove.

Just my 2 cents,
Timo

Darrin
Member
Posts: 831
Joined: 17 Apr 2002 10:44
Location: Canada

Post by Darrin » 23 Apr 2002 13:20

Gwynn Compton wrote:Timo,

Equally good points

Also you must remember how in tank battles, often several people claim the same "kill", thus creating an error when an estimate is obtained by dividing the total number of kills by a certain factor, I don't know what the American's used though.

How big is this error for the Americans?

A possible way of looking at it could be to add up the total number of Panzer's and Panzerjagers supplied to units during the battle.



Actually I am talking about how ger reports of thier own des tanks were not acurate. At lest in aug 44 in france. And maybe slighly less so in june and july. The overall OB west monthly figures.

Timo
Member
Posts: 3869
Joined: 09 Mar 2002 22:09
Location: Europe

Post by Timo » 23 Apr 2002 13:34

To discuss the ger number of aug was at about half what actually was des.


Very well possible. After Mortain, in the Falaise Pocket, the German PD's hardly fought as a Division any longer, just as spread combat groups which often lost contact with divisional HQ. Thus nobody knew how many men or vehicles were inside the pocket, let alone what was left outside. During the escape from the pocket a huge number of vehicles was lost but the fleeing Germans had other things on their mind than counting them.

First in the areas of morin, falise and the area between falise and the seine british operational rescearch groups couted almost 500 ger tanks des alone. Not claims but counted actual wreaks. This is only for a small part of france which basically the allies captured in almost entirety during august.


- But the situation in Mortain (not morin) and Falaise was, like I wrote above, incomparable to the situation in June/July. The fact that the number of destroyed vehicles in August is to low is understandable but report in June/July were easier to make.

It sems that bettween tanks the teams missed in thier areas and losses in the rest of france losses of around 1000 are more likly. During aug the ger intially undereported tot per losses by as well.


I can't understand why you compare the unique devestating situation in the Falaise Pocket with the fighting in June/July. Figures are not comparable at all. "As well" is simply an assumption.

The ger obviously only reported what they knew at that time to be destroyed then proably never bothered to go back and correct tank reports in aug.


??????????
a) They knew much more about June/July then about August, due to the situation in the Falaise Pocket that was not comparable with June/July.
b) Never bothered to go back? Did you expect them to go back into the Falaise Pocket to count their own wrecks? Given the huge number of reports that were destroyed at the end of the war or were lost afterwards, a correct report was most probabely written in September in order to assign replacements to the Divisions.

Keeping track of the peole is far more important to the army than trying to correct tank losses. The important thing with tanks was to find out who had what in Sep then get to them whatever they needed.


Exactly.

Timo
Member
Posts: 3869
Joined: 09 Mar 2002 22:09
Location: Europe

Post by Timo » 23 Apr 2002 13:47

What little evidence there is suggests this is so. Unfortunatly the evidence available is too little that I can not prove it. The ger reports that surrve are far too incomplete to be definate about anything. Not even that the overall ger reported number of 500 tanks lost in june and july is correct.


Hmmm. Did you order originals from NARA or BA-MA? Or are you just working from the info provided by Zetterling?

Timo
Member
Posts: 3869
Joined: 09 Mar 2002 22:09
Location: Europe

Post by Timo » 23 Apr 2002 15:27

Darrin wrote:Timo,

A third edit?

I'm sorry I am not reading or responding.



All that happened is that I wasn't thinking and pressed "edit" instead of "quote'. The third edit was to replace the original message, which I had to reconstruct from memory.

User avatar
Qvist
Member
Posts: 7836
Joined: 11 Mar 2002 16:59
Location: Europe

Post by Qvist » 23 Apr 2002 17:28

It is quite clear from Zetterling's account and discussion of the issue that due to the chaotic situation in August particularly, there simply are no reliable loss numbers that can easily picked out of loss reports. Unit cohesion was in many cases lost for extended periods, and HQs do not always seem to have had an accurate idea of the strength and activities of its sub-units. In addition to this, there was during this period widespread reliance on ad-hoc groupings, which meant that units were often separated from their parent formations for extended periods of time. A third factor is extensive loss of records in a fluid situation where HQs changed location rapidly and was sometimes overrun. It only seems possible to gain a picture by looking at the available records of individual formations in toto, and trying to draw conclusions from this. From September-October onwards, when some coherence had been regained, you seem to get much more reliable strength returns. These can then be read against information on replacements sent to the formation, which is apparently usually known. The problem is exactly the same with personnell casualties.

Zetterling's tentative conclusion is that around 1500 tanks/StuGs/Panzerjägers were lost in Normandy, of which probably no more than half fell victim to allied fire.

cheers

Darrin
Member
Posts: 831
Joined: 17 Apr 2002 10:44
Location: Canada

Post by Darrin » 23 Apr 2002 19:43

Qvist wrote:

Zetterling's tentative conclusion is that around 1500 tanks/StuGs/Panzerjägers were lost in Normandy, of which probably no more than half fell victim to allied fire.

cheers



I am not in disagreement with this. Notice his total of des ger tanks only includeds tanks des up to 22 aug in his 'normandy' area. It seems he already includes unreported ger tanks destroyed even in june and july and not just aug.

But I will quibble with his 50% fell victum to allied fire statment. He bases this on studies of panther tanks by allied operational reserch teams.

Normandy
6 jun-7 aug 67 panthers des of know causes (13 unkown) 9 (abn+des by crew) Only 15% of all known tanks!

Falise Area
8 aug-31 aug 90 known causes (6 unk) 74 (abn+des by crew) over 80%

Bulge
17 dec-16 jan 42 known (5 unk) 20 (abn+des by crew) almost 50%

Total 199 known (24 unk) 103 (abn+des by crew) AROUND 50%

You can see where his 50% number comes from. One reason I quibble is one he states himself the panther was much more protected that the avg ger tank in Normandy in 44. So you would expect to see more panthers abandoned or des by crew then say Panzer IVs.

More reasons he does not discuss. The ger tanks at falise were surrounded for sometime so more abn/des by crew would be expected. Less fuel, parts, etc... The allies only counted around 350 tanks of all types around falise but ger lost around 1000 tanks across fance in aug. The situation in falise may not be representative of the other 65% of tanks lost in france in aug. Not surrounded etc... Including the bulge which was as much as 6 months later than normandy may not be represnative of normandy either. The panther in 44 although much improved over kursk still had some problems with its final drive esp according to some sources. Looking at the panther is bound to give a slated view. Esp in a conditons where propper maintance, parts, etc. are few and far bettween like at falise.

Every one of these things is pulling in the same direction. To me it seems likly 1/3 of ger tanks were abn or des by thier own crew up to and including aug.

Timo
Member
Posts: 3869
Joined: 09 Mar 2002 22:09
Location: Europe

Post by Timo » 23 Apr 2002 19:58

falise and morin?

Okay, I see that you are very childish in your reasons to ignore everything I posted as a reply, despite the simple reason for my edited messages.

But how can you have a serious discussion about this if you don't even know how to write the names of the places you're talking about?

FALAISE and MORTAIN

Timo
Member
Posts: 3869
Joined: 09 Mar 2002 22:09
Location: Europe

Post by Timo » 23 Apr 2002 20:05

From your above posting I take it that the answer to my question:

"Did you order originals from NARA or BA-MA? Or are you just working from the info provided by Zetterling?",

is yes. In other words: You parrot Zetterlin and apply to his findings some calulation methods that would not stand in any serious research.. Great research you've done.

Just my 2 cents,
Timo

Return to “Heer, Waffen-SS & Fallschirmjäger”