An easy way to compare tank losses?

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Stoat Coat
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An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Stoat Coat » 14 Nov 2022 18:00

I see a lot of complaints about comparing the write off losses of tanks of one nation against the “losses” (including recoverable) of another nation; usually the solution is to compare only write offs for both sides, but since it wasn’t usually the units but rather ordnance and rear areas that declared a tank “irrecoverable”, that can be problematic. In the case of the western front: I don’t know what the British system was, but isn’t an easy fix for the Germans vs USA to simply compare tank losses that include the recoverable losses of both sided?

If I recall: US tanks were reported as losses if they required more than 24 hours of repair, and became write offs if the ordnance battalions decided that they couldn’t be recovered. Tanks with battle damage that could be repaired in the ongoing battle (like if a track change is what was needed, for example) weren’t reported as losses by US armored battalions. Similarly German units had the “long term repair” and “short term” repair designations. “Short term repair” wouldn’t be a loss by US lingo, but “long term repair” would. So comparing Germans tank casualties including “long term repairs” to US tank losses as reported by the units (again, “losses” is the word used in US unit reports but didn’t just include write offs) seems like a simple solution to me.

I apologize if this has been brought up before, I’m newer here and just considered this as a solution.

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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 Nov 2022 18:10

Stoat Coat wrote:
14 Nov 2022 18:00
If I recall: US tanks were reported as losses if they required more than 24 hours of repair, and became write offs if the ordnance battalions decided that they couldn’t be recovered. Tanks with battle damage that could be repaired in the ongoing battle (like if a track change is what was needed, for example) weren’t reported as losses by US armored battalions. Similarly German units had the “long term repair” and “short term” repair designations. “Short term repair” wouldn’t be a loss by US lingo, but “long term repair” would. So comparing Germans tank casualties including “long term repairs” to US tank losses as reported by the units (again, “losses” is the word used in US unit reports but didn’t just include write offs) seems like a simple solution to me.
The "American" system in NWE was actually the British system, which was adopted by ETOUSA in early 1944. It was:

A. Operational, or operational in less than six hours,
B. Non-operational, but repairable in less than 24 hours,
C. Non-operational and not repairable in less than 24 hours.

The categories included tanks damaged in battle, broken down due to mechanical failure, bogged or otherwise lost to terrain features, driving accidents, and other non-battle causes. The first two categories included tanks repairable by the unit, while the last included tanks damaged beyond the capability of unit repair, those assessed as unrepairable, and those unrecoverable or missing on the battlefield. Theoretically, following reports dropped all tanks counted in the last category, since the unit evacuated the tank to a higher echelon maintenance facility or it was otherwise no longer part of the unit. Unfortunately, evidence demonstrates units did not always observe that stricture and sometimes carried tanks in the third category from one day to the next. The reports were completed daily at 2200 hours and were communicated to corps and army headquarters for consolidation by 12th Army Group (6th Army Group and Seventh U.S. Army in the ETOUSA and Fifth U. S. Army in Italy used slightly different methodologies). In any case, for the 12th Army Group a “loss” was defined by the ETOUSA AFV&W Section as “when [a tank] cannot be repaired and returned to action.” (Cable E-87035 from Eisenhower (AFV&W Section) to Fifteenth U.S. Army, Jan 161520Z 45, Records of the ETOUSA, Miscellaneous File 398, Outgoing Messages.)
Richard C. Anderson Jr.

American Thunder: U.S. Army Tank Design, Development, and Doctrine in World War II
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Stoat Coat
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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Stoat Coat » 14 Nov 2022 18:20

Richard Anderson wrote:
14 Nov 2022 18:10
Stoat Coat wrote:
14 Nov 2022 18:00
If I recall: US tanks were reported as losses if they required more than 24 hours of repair, and became write offs if the ordnance battalions decided that they couldn’t be recovered. Tanks with battle damage that could be repaired in the ongoing battle (like if a track change is what was needed, for example) weren’t reported as losses by US armored battalions. Similarly German units had the “long term repair” and “short term” repair designations. “Short term repair” wouldn’t be a loss by US lingo, but “long term repair” would. So comparing Germans tank casualties including “long term repairs” to US tank losses as reported by the units (again, “losses” is the word used in US unit reports but didn’t just include write offs) seems like a simple solution to me.
The "American" system in NWE was actually the British system, which was adopted by ETOUSA in early 1944. It was:

A. Operational, or operational in less than six hours,
B. Non-operational, but repairable in less than 24 hours,
C. Non-operational and not repairable in less than 24 hours.

The categories included tanks damaged in battle, broken down due to mechanical failure, bogged or otherwise lost to terrain features, driving accidents, and other non-battle causes. The first two categories included tanks repairable by the unit, while the last included tanks damaged beyond the capability of unit repair, those assessed as unrepairable, and those unrecoverable or missing on the battlefield. Theoretically, following reports dropped all tanks counted in the last category, since the unit evacuated the tank to a higher echelon maintenance facility or it was otherwise no longer part of the unit. Unfortunately, evidence demonstrates units did not always observe that stricture and sometimes carried tanks in the third category from one day to the next. The reports were completed daily at 2200 hours and were communicated to corps and army headquarters for consolidation by 12th Army Group (6th Army Group and Seventh U.S. Army in the ETOUSA and Fifth U. S. Army in Italy used slightly different methodologies). In any case, for the 12th Army Group a “loss” was defined by the ETOUSA AFV&W Section as “when [a tank] cannot be repaired and returned to action.” (Cable E-87035 from Eisenhower (AFV&W Section) to Fifteenth U.S. Army, Jan 161520Z 45, Records of the ETOUSA, Miscellaneous File 398, Outgoing Messages.)
Thank you for the information. To make sure I’m not misunderstanding: would the tanks in the third category be double counted if they were still in the unit from one day to the next, or would they not be reported as a loss until they left the unit? Otherwise, do you think it is comparable to German “long term repairs” and above in terms of categorization?

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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 Nov 2022 19:45

Stoat Coat wrote:
14 Nov 2022 18:20
Thank you for the information. To make sure I’m not misunderstanding: would the tanks in the third category be double counted if they were still in the unit from one day to the next, or would they not be reported as a loss until they left the unit? Otherwise, do you think it is comparable to German “long term repairs” and above in terms of categorization?
As I said, tanks category C were to be dropped from the unit, since they were to be backloaded to a 4th or 5th Echelon repair facility, either an Ordnance Heavy Maintenance (Tank) Company at an army depot or an Ordnance Repair Depot administered by ADSEC/COMZ. However, it appears units routinely ignored that instruction and kept reporting the same category C losses day after day.

No, it is not comparable to German "long-term" repair. Originally, if any German AFV (or other heavy weapon), could not be repaired within eight weeks it was to be shipped out for either depot repair in theater or all the way back to Germany for complete factory rebuild. Later, IIRC it was late 1943/early 1944, "long-term" was redefined as longer than three days. Short-term repair was essentially anything that could be repaired by the unit in less time than was considered for long-term but those regulations were routinely flouted as units held items as short-term repair for weeks or longer since the expectation was they would never get them back.
Richard C. Anderson Jr.

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Michael Kenny
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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Michael Kenny » 14 Nov 2022 20:46

The most common way authors 'validate' German kill claims for specific actions is to look at the last-light totals and combine the total of every Allied tank in the 2 repair categories as 'total losses' and then say 'Unit records confirm German claims' which is simply not correct. Most go one step further and count every German tank still on the books as 'fit' which goes a long way to explain the silly 'tank-kill-ratio' claims and laundry-lists of 'Aces' clogging up nearly every WW2 Forum.

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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Stoat Coat » 14 Nov 2022 21:11

Richard Anderson wrote:
14 Nov 2022 19:45
Stoat Coat wrote:
14 Nov 2022 18:20
Thank you for the information. To make sure I’m not misunderstanding: would the tanks in the third category be double counted if they were still in the unit from one day to the next, or would they not be reported as a loss until they left the unit? Otherwise, do you think it is comparable to German “long term repairs” and above in terms of categorization?
As I said, tanks category C were to be dropped from the unit, since they were to be backloaded to a 4th or 5th Echelon repair facility, either an Ordnance Heavy Maintenance (Tank) Company at an army depot or an Ordnance Repair Depot administered by ADSEC/COMZ. However, it appears units routinely ignored that instruction and kept reporting the same category C losses day after day.

No, it is not comparable to German "long-term" repair. Originally, if any German AFV (or other heavy weapon), could not be repaired within eight weeks it was to be shipped out for either depot repair in theater or all the way back to Germany for complete factory rebuild. Later, IIRC it was late 1943/early 1944, "long-term" was redefined as longer than three days. Short-term repair was essentially anything that could be repaired by the unit in less time than was considered for long-term but those regulations were routinely flouted as units held items as short-term repair for weeks or longer since the expectation was they would never get them back.
Thanks. Although I’m about confused how this might affect division after action report. I took your advice in the other thread to find better reading material, so I found some 11th AD after action reports freely available and transcribed onlinehttp://www.11tharmoreddivision.com/hist ... ec_jan.htm (can’t make it to the national archives yet). That report stated that 11th AD’s own losses as 42 medium tanks and 12 light tanks during the 30 Dec-3 Jan 1944-45 period called the “Chenogne-Rechrival Valley” action. That doesn’t give day by day losses and is a general summary of tank losses during the battle. I imagine you’re talking about daily reports from HQ, which is a bit different, but does that mean that this summary would include double counts?

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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Stoat Coat » 14 Nov 2022 21:17

Michael Kenny wrote:
14 Nov 2022 20:46
The most common way authors 'validate' German kill claims for specific actions is to look at the last-light totals and combine the total of every Allied tank in the 2 repair categories as 'total losses' and then say 'Unit records confirm German claims' which is simply not correct. Most go one step further and count every German tank still on the books as 'fit' which goes a long way to explain the silly 'tank-kill-ratio' claims and laundry-lists of 'Aces' clogging up nearly every WW2 Forum.
I was reading Otto Remers “Fuhrer Begleit Brigade in the Ardennes” available translated on this website. He specified long term and short term losses separately as well as those he said couldn’t be recovered by the unit at the time due to lack of equipment. Would the people you’re talking about classify both the long term and short term repair as “fit” in this instance?

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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Michael Kenny » 14 Nov 2022 21:33

Stoat Coat wrote:
14 Nov 2022 21:17

Would the people you’re talking about classify both the long term and short term repair as “fit” in this instance?
It is not the case that the Germans falsified their records rather that the Allied and German ways of loss-recording were so different that there is no way to reconcile the two. The 'falsification' is in the post-war literature where, due to ignorance, some people directly tabulate every Allied casualty as a total loss and then use the combined German total of fit tanks and casualties as the number of fit tanks to inflate Allied losses and lower German losses. Sadly there are those who do understand the different systems but chose to use the distorted comparison because that is the way they think it should be safe in the knowledge that the majority of the people who use their research will never find out (or even care) that they are manipulating the record. The myth that German claims are all '100% confirmed' and their record -keeping was absolutely correct in every aspect is an essential part of the narrative

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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 Nov 2022 21:39

Stoat Coat wrote:
14 Nov 2022 21:11
Thanks. Although I’m about confused how this might affect division after action report. I took your advice in the other thread to find better reading material, so I found some 11th AD after action reports freely available and transcribed onlinehttp://www.11tharmoreddivision.com/hist ... ec_jan.htm (can’t make it to the national archives yet). That report stated that 11th AD’s own losses as 42 medium tanks and 12 light tanks during the 30 Dec-3 Jan 1944-45 period called the “Chenogne-Rechrival Valley” action. That doesn’t give day by day losses and is a general summary of tank losses during the battle. I imagine you’re talking about daily reports from HQ, which is a bit different, but does that mean that this summary would include double counts?
Division's and Battalion's were to report daily but circumstances sometimes meant they were out of communication and so there was no entry in the AFV&W Section ETOUSA daily report. This was pretty common during the Ardennes battle. However, the Section also consolidated the Army Ordnance Status reports on a "weekly" schedule, which could vary from being a few weeks to about four days in length. Those reports recorded the number "lost" - i.e. either written off as burned out or otherwise unrepairable - during the period but by Army rather than by unit. There are also various other historical reports compiled at the end of the war. For example, Report of Operations (Final After Action Report): 12th Army Group, Volume XI, Annex F Combat Summary – Tank Battalions and Annex G, Combat Summary – Armored Divisions, gives total losses of the 11th Armd Div as 37 light and 72 medium tanks.

What the units might report in an AAR varied. Some simply reported "knocked out" in terms of an engagement, while others could be more detailed.
Richard C. Anderson Jr.

American Thunder: U.S. Army Tank Design, Development, and Doctrine in World War II
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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Michael Kenny » 14 Nov 2022 21:53

Richard Anderson wrote:
14 Nov 2022 19:45
However, it appears units routinely ignored that instruction and kept reporting the same category C losses day after day.

The best example of this is the tank casualty totals given for 18/7/44 the first day of GOODWOOD in CAB 44/249, the post-war (1947?) study of the battle. It gives a total of 493 tank casualties (36%) for the battle but it used original documents that had double-counted the first days casualties. That total has been used in 99% of books about the battle and is THE source (as in the single and only source) for the absurd claims 500 tanks were 'knocked out' during GOODWOOD.
Total losses were in fact under 200

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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Stoat Coat » 14 Nov 2022 23:24

Richard Anderson wrote:
14 Nov 2022 21:39
Stoat Coat wrote:
14 Nov 2022 21:11
Thanks. Although I’m about confused how this might affect division after action report. I took your advice in the other thread to find better reading material, so I found some 11th AD after action reports freely available and transcribed onlinehttp://www.11tharmoreddivision.com/hist ... ec_jan.htm (can’t make it to the national archives yet). That report stated that 11th AD’s own losses as 42 medium tanks and 12 light tanks during the 30 Dec-3 Jan 1944-45 period called the “Chenogne-Rechrival Valley” action. That doesn’t give day by day losses and is a general summary of tank losses during the battle. I imagine you’re talking about daily reports from HQ, which is a bit different, but does that mean that this summary would include double counts?
Division's and Battalion's were to report daily but circumstances sometimes meant they were out of communication and so there was no entry in the AFV&W Section ETOUSA daily report. This was pretty common during the Ardennes battle. However, the Section also consolidated the Army Ordnance Status reports on a "weekly" schedule, which could vary from being a few weeks to about four days in length. Those reports recorded the number "lost" - i.e. either written off as burned out or otherwise unrepairable - during the period but by Army rather than by unit. There are also various other historical reports compiled at the end of the war. For example, Report of Operations (Final After Action Report): 12th Army Group, Volume XI, Annex F Combat Summary – Tank Battalions and Annex G, Combat Summary – Armored Divisions, gives total losses of the 11th Armd Div as 37 light and 72 medium tanks.

What the units might report in an AAR varied. Some simply reported "knocked out" in terms of an engagement, while others could be more detailed.
Well I figured it wouldn’t just be write offs counted as losses but also long termed damaged for that action report I linked. Was just wanting to ensure double counts weren’t used, if it was possible to know in that case. Thanks for the info

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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Stoat Coat » 14 Nov 2022 23:31

Michael Kenny wrote:
14 Nov 2022 21:33
Stoat Coat wrote:
14 Nov 2022 21:17

Would the people you’re talking about classify both the long term and short term repair as “fit” in this instance?
It is not the case that the Germans falsified their records rather that the Allied and German ways of loss-recording were so different that there is no way to reconcile the two. The 'falsification' is in the post-war literature where, due to ignorance, some people directly tabulate every Allied casualty as a total loss and then use the combined German total of fit tanks and casualties as the number of fit tanks to inflate Allied losses and lower German losses. Sadly there are those who do understand the different systems but chose to use the distorted comparison because that is the way they think it should be safe in the knowledge that the majority of the people who use their research will never find out (or even care) that they are manipulating the record. The myth that German claims are all '100% confirmed' and their record -keeping was absolutely correct in every aspect is an essential part of the narrative
That’s sad then: I suppose I was naive to think maybe comparing overall tank casualties on both was a solution, as if nobody had thought of that before. :(

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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Stoat Coat » 14 Nov 2022 23:33

Michael Kenny wrote:
14 Nov 2022 21:53
Richard Anderson wrote:
14 Nov 2022 19:45
However, it appears units routinely ignored that instruction and kept reporting the same category C losses day after day.

The best example of this is the tank casualty totals given for 18/7/44 the first day of GOODWOOD in CAB 44/249, the post-war (1947?) study of the battle. It gives a total of 493 tank casualties (36%) for the battle but it used original documents that had double-counted the first days casualties. That total has been used in 99% of books about the battle and is THE source (as in the single and only source) for the absurd claims 500 tanks were 'knocked out' during GOODWOOD.
Total losses were in fact under 200
In the case of Goodwood: is 200 for the write offs or knocked out?

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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Richard Anderson » 14 Nov 2022 23:47

Stoat Coat wrote:
14 Nov 2022 23:24
Well I figured it wouldn’t just be write offs counted as losses but also long termed damaged for that action report I linked. Was just wanting to ensure double counts weren’t used, if it was possible to know in that case. Thanks for the info
The "weekly" AFV&W Section compilations of the Army figures were for tanks lost or unrepairable by the unit. So in theory they would be category C. The interesting thing is that lost included missing and unrecoverable tanks, which in one case required a retraction from one report to the next. What happened is that five tanks were reported lost because they were unrecoverable and in enemy territory but when the Americans advanced they found the five tanks still there and recovered them in repairable condition. Only the one instance of that happening was noted but it may have happened other times.

The other thing is that category C tanks evacuated were sometimes repaired and returned to action but it is impossible to say how many. However, most of those became Frankentanks where a salvageable turret was placed on a salvageable hull. Again rare but it did happen and is difficult to accurately account for.

The main problem for the US Army is that all the service record books for each tank were destroyed because they were not considered to be vital records and there was room needed in the Ordnance archives. At least that is what I've been told.
Richard C. Anderson Jr.

American Thunder: U.S. Army Tank Design, Development, and Doctrine in World War II
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall
Hitler's Last Gamble
Artillery Hell

Stoat Coat
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Re: An easy way to compare tank losses?

Post by Stoat Coat » 14 Nov 2022 23:54

Richard Anderson wrote:
14 Nov 2022 23:47
Stoat Coat wrote:
14 Nov 2022 23:24
Well I figured it wouldn’t just be write offs counted as losses but also long termed damaged for that action report I linked. Was just wanting to ensure double counts weren’t used, if it was possible to know in that case. Thanks for the info
The "weekly" AFV&W Section compilations of the Army figures were for tanks lost or unrepairable by the unit. So in theory they would be category C. The interesting thing is that lost included missing and unrecoverable tanks, which in one case required a retraction from one report to the next. What happened is that five tanks were reported lost because they were unrecoverable and in enemy territory but when the Americans advanced they found the five tanks still there and recovered them in repairable condition. Only the one instance of that happening was noted but it may have happened other times.

The other thing is that category C tanks evacuated were sometimes repaired and returned to action but it is impossible to say how many. However, most of those became Frankentanks where a salvageable turret was placed on a salvageable hull. Again rare but it did happen and is difficult to accurately account for.

The main problem for the US Army is that all the service record books for each tank were destroyed because they were not considered to be vital records and there was room needed in the Ordnance archives. At least that is what I've been told.
About tanks abandoned in enemy territory that were later found in repairable-by-the-unit condition: that especially makes sense. I wonder, was it American practice to try to destroy their vehicles (if possible), if they were being overrun, to avoid their use as beute AFVs by the Germans?

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