German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than myth

Discussions on WW2 in Eastern Europe.
Iskander neptu
Member
Posts: 4
Joined: 28 Jul 2011 22:20

German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than myth

Post by Iskander neptu » 28 Jul 2011 23:11

On many discussions on this forum I have seen a near universal acceptance of 3:1 and even 5:1 tank kill ratios in favour of the Wehrmacht on the eastern front.

However, the production numbers for medium and heavy tanks from both sides do not seem to sustain this.

From Wikipedia, (C'mon, its not so bad):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_arm ... rld_War_II
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_com ... rld_War_II

Now, until the end of 1944 there is still a german army in the field, the fight can be considered "even", the germans still have a functioning army and they have been pushed back to their borders. So lets stop the production numbers here.
My point for doing this is to not take into account the huge 1945 Soviet production figures and the tiny German ones, so as not to skew the battlefield analysis. What happens in 1945 production-wise no longer matters, the war is effectively won.

Also, I postulate that German tank losses outside and before the eastern front (France, North Africa, Italy) are "roughly" compensated by the fact that at the end of 1944 the Red army holds a much higher inventory of tanks than the Wehrmacht. The other theaters and battles pale in both duration and dimension to the eastern front.

With these two caveats in place, the numbers I get are:

German medium tank production until end of 1944, III and IV chassis of all types (including assault guns): 28000
Soviet medium tank production until end of 1944, t-34, chassis of all types (including assault guns): 51000

the same holds for heavy tanks:

German Panther and Tiger tanks of all types until end of 1944: 8000
Soviet KV and IS tanks of all types until end of 1944: 10200

So, the Soviets built 1.82 medium tanks for every 1 German.
The Soviets built 1.27 heavy tanks for every 1 German.

Given the fact that at the end of 1944 the Red army had a massive superiority in armoured strength and was about to win the war, I fail to see how the 3:1 and 5:1 exchange ratios can be sustained by the numbers. Had the Wehrmacht achieved such figures, they would have won the war.

It seems, based on the production figures, that the German army perfomed the amazing feat of achieving a positive tank kill ratio even though facing a crippling numerical disadvantage. But the tank kill exchange ratio appears not to have surpassed 1.75:1

Opinions?

User avatar
Ironmachine
Member
Posts: 5647
Joined: 07 Jul 2005 10:50
Location: Spain

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by Ironmachine » 29 Jul 2011 07:42

Well, all those tank kill ratios should be taken with a grain of salt.
But the, just a couple of points about your numbers:

Why are you leaving aside light tanks? Until end of 1944, this would add (per your wiki link) another 17,500 tanks to the soviet inventory plus about 9,000 SU-76s, against 10,710 German tanks in this category (Pz-I, Pz-II and Panzer-38(t), including chassis used for other vehicles), again outproducing the Germans.

Then you are forgetting the Lend-Lease tanks received by the Soviet Union. A quick search in http://www.battlefield.ru gives 301 Churchills, 3,782 Valentines, 1,665 Stuarts, about 300 Lees, 1,084 Matildas and 4,102 Shermans (this last data taken from wiki). That adds to another 11,234 tanks.

Adding you quantities to these new ones, the Soviets had 2.12 tanks per 1 German.

And then, of course, is the fact that (despite your postulate) German tank forces and losses outside the eastern front are not negligible in any way, further increasing the Soviet-to-German tank ratio. For example, take a look at this:
RichTO90 wrote:The actual numbers as reported on 31 May [1944] for the total of operational and in repair armor vehicles (Panzer/Stug & Stuh) by theater was:

East 1479/1580 = 3059
West 1466/345 = 1811
Southwest 548/452 = 1000
Norway 146/52 = 198
Southeast 65/212 = 277

As reported on 30 September they were:

East 1691/1665 = 3356
West 402/168 = 570
Southwest 266/256 = 522
Norway 129/52 = 181
Southeast 18/47 = 65

"Norway" includes Denmark and the Netherlands.

But your implication (as I read it) that the decrease of strength in the west was somehow linked to the maintenance of strength in the east is a little deceptive. In fact it was entirely due to the huge losses in armored vehicles inflicted upon the German forces in France, to wit (Panzers/Stug, Stuh & JgPz):

June 225/27
July 291/68
August 120/98
September 1299/472
Total 1935/665 = 2600

The Germans also suffered losses in Italy that were severe as well in comparison with the numbers committed there, beginning with the Allied DIADEM offensive beginning 13 May 1944:

May 15/11
June 282/91
July 102/39
August 12/18
September 86/22
Total (not including May) 228/170 = 398

These may be compared to losses in the east as follows:

June 42/79
July 743/910
August 646/298
September 324/387
Total 1755/1674 = 3429

So strength in the east increased by 297 against losses of 3429 implying replacements of 3726. In the west strength declined 1241 against losses of 2600 implying replacements of 1359. And in Italy strength declined 478 against losses of 398 (due to transfers of the HG PzD to the east, 3 and 15 PzGd to the west). Which simply shows that the prioritization of replacements was to the east following the reports of massive losses during July and August was higher since the losses registered in the west (and to a lesser extent Italy) were much less. Which is what one would expect.

By 15 December the strength situation was:

East 1858/2053 = 3911
West 1126/598 = 1724
Southwest 279/334 = 613
Norway 69/42 = 111
Southeast 0/28 =28

Losses during the period were recorded as:

East
October 448/410
November 134/130
Total 582/540 = 1122

West
October 73/147
November 93/92
Total 166/239 = 405

Southwest
October 14/9
November 7/3
Total 21/12 = 33

So strength in the east increased by 555 against losses of 1122, implying replacements of 1677. In the west strength increased 1154 against losses of 405, implying replacements of 1559 and in the southwest increased by 91 against losses of 33, implying replacements of 124. So on the whole the priority appears to have been pretty evenly balanced and greatly reduced - vis a vis the east - from the previous period.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 4&start=15
Regards.

Stephan
Member
Posts: 733
Joined: 09 Feb 2003 20:34
Location: Sweden

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by Stephan » 29 Jul 2011 09:34

Iskander, if your numbers are correct; an interesting observation! There cant be any 5:1 ratio, even the ration 3:1 is optimistic.

Iron machine: tx for the extra information. But what is by your recognition the ratio?
Not all have the force nor patience to analyze your very long post.


I want to add, Germans were well known for their ability to save and repair damaged vehicles after the battle, if they could salvage them. Often they did repair them up after the battle, In other cases they took useful parts from a damaged, unrepareable vehicle.

Sovjets did have some tendency to just leave the damaged vehicles where they got stuck. I dont think it was overall and always, but they did had an opinion for it. Thrue??
But if there IS some thruth in it, it changes of course the de facto numbers of production.

A german produced number would be perhaps raised by say 30%, a russian produced or got in LL number would be lowered by perhaps a 30%. Correct??

Alanmccoubrey
Financial supporter
Posts: 3244
Joined: 19 Sep 2008 13:44

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by Alanmccoubrey » 29 Jul 2011 09:42

Iskander, What about the repair services on both sides ? The Soviets didn't really pay much attention to it until 1945, according to Zhukov, while the Germans did, so a higher proportion of "dead" German tanks will have seen service again than will Soviet "dead" tanks.
Have you allowed for any Soviet tank forces to be held in the Far East ?
Alan

User avatar
Ironmachine
Member
Posts: 5647
Joined: 07 Jul 2005 10:50
Location: Spain

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by Ironmachine » 29 Jul 2011 10:51

Stephan wrote:Iron machine: tx for the extra information. But what is by your recognition the ratio?
Not all have the force nor patience to analyze your very long post.
IMHO, anyone who can't or does not want to "analyze" my (not-so-long :wink: ) post is somewhat misplaced in this forum as probably he really doesn't want to make a serious approach to military history. Come on, if my post is too much for someone, then what about reading a book? :lol:
What was the real ratio? Really, I don't have an idea. Much data should be analyzed to reach a reasonable conclusion, and I'm not really much interested in that kind of question. I just wanted to point to Iskander that there are many factors that he had not considered in his calculations, and that some of his assumptions were plainly wrong. Just taking some ramdon numbers from wikipedia and making some quick calculations is not going to provide an answer.
Regards.

Sid Guttridge
Member
Posts: 9675
Joined: 12 Jun 2008 11:19

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by Sid Guttridge » 29 Jul 2011 10:57

It perhaps should be observed that generally the Red Army was advancing in the latter years of the war. As a result it could recover damaged and knocked out vehicles.

By contrast the Germany Army was in retreat and was much less able to recover damaged or knocked out vehicles - or even those that ran out of fuel.

I would suggest that it could be consistent for the Germans both to have high kill ratios in combat, but have a much worse overall loss ratio.

User avatar
phylo_roadking
Member
Posts: 17489
Joined: 30 Apr 2006 23:31
Location: Belfast

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by phylo_roadking » 29 Jul 2011 11:34

...and let's not forget that tank-to-tank loss ratios treated as "kill" ratios are misleading, it doesn't take into account losses suffered by both sides from anti-tanks guns and handheld A/T weapons....
Twenty years ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs....
Lord, please keep Kevin Bacon alive...

StugIII 912
Member
Posts: 10
Joined: 26 Feb 2011 04:35

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by StugIII 912 » 29 Jul 2011 14:31

Well,I got some information about the tanks and SPs loss in Eastern Front 1943-1944.
In 1943,Soviet loss 23500 tanks and SPs as totel write-off.Some informatian shows only a little of these AFVs had been sent back to factory,and most had been destoryed.In 1943,German's loss of AFVs is about 8700,as write-off.
During 1944,Soviet loss 23700 tanks and SPs as totel write-off.Include 16900 tanks and 6800SPs.German's loss is also very high.The data is from 9470-12100.But I am not sure the accurate number.Soviet claim that 15100 German tanks had been destoryed in 1944,it seems a little high.

Best wishes from China.

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

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by RichTO90 » 29 Jul 2011 15:14

phylo_roadking wrote:...and let's not forget that tank-to-tank loss ratios treated as "kill" ratios are misleading, it doesn't take into account losses suffered by both sides from anti-tanks guns and handheld A/T weapons....
Yep, and even the reports that tell you can be misleading. First Army analyzed 883 medium and light tank losses and determined that 19.6% were to mines, 14.6% to PzS and PzF, 8.8% to artillery, 1.4% to mortars (!), and 9.1% to unknown causes. For the rest, losses by gunfire, 49.8%, it is impossible to determine which were due to "tank guns" or "antitank guns". Or, you could look at cause of Commonwealth tank losses in the ETO according to WO 291/1186:

Mines 22.1%
AT guns 22.7%
Tanks 14.5%
SP Guns 24.4%
Bazooka 14.2%
Other 2.1%

From that we might conclude that Allied losses to German tanks were something between 14.5% and 24.4% (I'm still uncertain how they could be so sure of the distinction between a tank and an SP Gun on the receiving end). So if we take an upper limit of say 10,000 as the loss of tanks then something between 1,450 and 2,440 were victims of German tanks. So for the "3-to-1" ratio to hold would mean that fewer than 500 to 800 German "tanks" (StuG and other "SP Guns" need not apply) would have been destroyed by Allied tanks... :roll: 8-) :lol:

Of course given that all German tank losses were due to their being abandoned because of fears of Allied airpower, the "5-to-1" ratio still holds. :lol:
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
Stackpole Books, 2009.

Iskander neptu
Member
Posts: 4
Joined: 28 Jul 2011 22:20

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by Iskander neptu » 29 Jul 2011 19:19

Valid points.

It's nice to know that when the road to knowledge on wikipedia comes to an abrupt end there is somewhere else on the web you can turn to.

Thanks for your enlightening answers.

rouse713
Member
Posts: 4
Joined: 28 Mar 2011 00:57

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by rouse713 » 05 Aug 2011 18:36

I am not trying to refute or confirm the kill ratio proposal, however, one cannot only look at how many tanks produced and assume that all losses were from tank-tank battles.

Just some things to think about:
-Consider how many jadgtigers were lost to enemy fire vs mechanical failure. How do you score this?
-Propaganda is going to photograph high kill units
-How do you classify combined arms kills?
-Does only a direct AP round hit with an immediate explosion of the tank count as a kill?


I remember watching the discovery channel show how it takes 5 shermans to kill one tiger (5:1). I love the show for what it is, but I am picky with the details. They showed how the tiger would knock out 3 shermans in a column right away. The 4th would be taken out after it dispersed. The 5th sherman by that time would get to the back of the tiger and score a hit on the engine.

One was left with the impression that this is how the war was conducted against tigers.

ljadw
Member
Posts: 12397
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by ljadw » 05 Aug 2011 20:08

StugIII 912 wrote:Well,I got some information about the tanks and SPs loss in Eastern Front 1943-1944.
In 1943,Soviet loss 23500 tanks and SPs as totel write-off.Some informatian shows only a little of these AFVs had been sent back to factory,and most had been destoryed.In 1943,German's loss of AFVs is about 8700,as write-off.
During 1944,Soviet loss 23700 tanks and SPs as totel write-off.Include 16900 tanks and 6800SPs.German's loss is also very high.The data is from 9470-12100.But I am not sure the accurate number.Soviet claim that 15100 German tanks had been destoryed in 1944,it seems a little high.

Best wishes from China.
I have found on Panzerarchiv the following report of the IG of the Panzertruppen on the German tanklosses in the east .
1941:Panzer:2403,StuG:85,Pak+Art(Sf):27,SPW:759 Total:3274
1942:Panzer:3195,Stug:219,Pak+Art:92,SPW:972 Total:4477
1943:Panzer:5637,StuG:2459,Pak+Art:1111,Spw:2676,Other :153 Total:11036
1944:Panzer:4430,StuG:3468,Pak+Art:1669,SPW:5746,Other:369 Total:14537
But,only a minority was lost in tank to tank combat,and we probably never will know the German panzer kill ratios (not that this would be important)
Pz are :Pz I till VI,Pz38(t),BefPanz,Beobachtungspz,FlammPz
StuG are :StG,StHaub,StuPz,JagdPanzer,Jagdpanther,Elefant
Pak:Pak on PzII +38
Art:Nashorn,Wespe,Hummel
Other are:MunPz,BergePz,FlakPz
Sadly enough,the text is not very readable.

Art
Forum Staff
Posts: 6390
Joined: 04 Jun 2004 19:49
Location: Moscow, Russia

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by Art » 05 Aug 2011 20:28

ljadw wrote: I have found on Panzerarchiv the following report of the IG of the Panzertruppen on the German tanklosses in the east .
1941:Panzer:2403,StuG:85,Pak+Art(Sf):27,SPW:759 Total:3274
1942:Panzer:3195,Stug:219,Pak+Art:92,SPW:972 Total:4477
1943:Panzer:5637,StuG:2459,Pak+Art:1111,Spw:2676,Other :153 Total:11036
1944:Panzer:4430,StuG:3468,Pak+Art:1669,SPW:5746,Other:369 Total:14537
Is there a link to it?

ljadw
Member
Posts: 12397
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 17:50

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by ljadw » 05 Aug 2011 20:45

Sorry, :oops: forgot :
forum.panzer-archiv.de/print.php?t=2292&start=120
It is a post by Jan-Hendrik on 16-11-2007

User avatar
stg 44
Member
Posts: 3366
Joined: 03 Dec 2002 01:42
Location: illinois

Re: German Panzer kill ratios on eastern front no more than

Post by stg 44 » 05 Aug 2011 21:04

Also re:German tank repairs production figures included units sent back to Germany to be repaired, meaning not all production were new tanks, rather refurbished ones. Not only that but the Germans used captured T-34s and the Soviets used captured German tanks. Beyond THAT this doesn't include prewar production, which gives Russia some 20,000 tanks in 1941, most of which were destroyed or captured early on, further skewing loss rates.

Return to “WW2 in Eastern Europe”