3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

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ClintHardware
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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by ClintHardware » 13 Jul 2013 14:42

Urmel wrote:
ClintHardware wrote:No. The original point of this topic is 3rd Armoured Brigade. My dates are relevant to the topic.
Of course they are. But by limiting yourself to those dates you are willfully foregoing important data that can give an insight into what happened within your date range, as I explained.
Urmel

Can you please explain with data and detail the point you are wanting to make.
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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by nmao » 15 Jul 2013 20:22

Hello.

As promised, a quick and dirty analysis of DAK panzer losses before crusader based in Thomas Jentz "Tank Combat in North Africa" and "Panzertruppen I & II" (numbers are pz I, pz II, pz III, pz IV, klBef, grBef):

29 90 142 40 7 10 INITIAL FORCE (5.Le, 15.PzD, 605 PzJgAbt)
0 0 -1 0 0 0 agheila 24mar
0 0 -2 -1 0 0 agedabia 2apr
0 -1 -2 0 0 0 brevity
0 0 -1 0 0 0 skorpion
0 -5 -6 -1 0 0 battleaxe
0 0 -2 0 0 0 sommernachtstraum
25 4 25 5 0 0 REINF
54 88 153 43 7 10 BALANCE (INITIAL - losses + REINF)
? 77 145 38 4 10 CRUSADER

which implies:
? 11 8 5 3 0 other losses (total 27)

of which 17 were lost 14 apr in Tobruk (i can't find losses by type, but at least 5 IV, 1 III, 2 II)

So there are 10 panzers lost in other engagements not counted in Jentz.
Presumably Regima, Mechili, Tobruk 11&12 april, etc.

regards,

-Nuno

PS: i know i have somewhere an email from the late Ron Klages with the complete losses for 14 April but can't find it.
Does anyone know the panzer losses by type for this day?

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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by ClintHardware » 16 Jul 2013 09:20

Hi Nmao

Nice figures thanks.

I had a look at Jentz (TCINAfrica) again and you have to read several different pages to find elements of data. Jentz's initial landed at Tripoli figures for Panzer Regiment 5 seem to be:

25 Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf. B Sd.Kfz. 101
45 Panzerkampfwagen II Ausf. A, B and C Sd.Kfz. 121
61 Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf. F, G and H Sd.Kfz. 141
17 Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. D Sd.Kfz. 161
3 kleine Panzerbefehlswagen (based on the Panzer I hull)
4 Panzerbefehlswagen Ausf.H (based on the Panzer III)

In TCINA he refers to Panzer I Ausf A with Pz R 5 and later Ausf B's as being tropicalized and able to be sent to Libya.

Please correct if wrong.

The question remains if Major Hohmann has 42 panzers on the 13th May fighting 4th RHA at the border and Regimentsstab PzR 5 has a handful of operational panzers at Tobruk where are all the others? Because of the high recovery rate of knocked out and broken down panzers and because of the cannibalising of them for spares to make as many as possible operational we can only discover constructive total losses by deducting the number still seen operational. The constructive total loss before Operation Brevity appears to be in the order of 90. To what extent they are primarily combat losses is not clear but my list gives you German, Australian and British eye witnesses and their data and column A comes to 80 or 81.

I am happy to change all the figures based on evidence.
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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by Urmel » 16 Jul 2013 11:25

What's your definition of constructive total loss, and how do you come to 90, when the evidence from Jentz is clear that it should be 27? In my understanding, any tank that is repairable isn't a write-off, or constructive total loss, it's a temporary loss. Where the other tanks were, one possible answer is undergoing repairs.

German tank arrivals 1941 to 1943 are here:

http://crusaderproject.wordpress.com/20 ... th-africa/

The report on the vast number of breakdowns is here.

http://crusaderproject.wordpress.com/20 ... anks-1941/

Simply said, using the available data there is no evidence for 80 or 90 write-offs. There is evidence for 80 hits claimed, which needs to be subjected to verification.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by ClintHardware » 16 Jul 2013 15:42

A panzer without spares to make operational is for the time being a constructive total loss and unless it can be repaired it remains in that state.

Here is an example of one of the missing panzer casualties that Jentz did not mention. This example is from Mechili 8th April:

Having halted to fire sprenggranaten at the guns firing at them (the gunners of the 10th or 11th Batteries 2/3rd AT Regiment), Leutnant Zorn’s driver was about to move their Panzer IV out of the wadi but was too slow in changing gear for the next manoeuvre leaving the panzer momentarily raised up on the bank exposing some of its 10mm thick belly plate. Several anti-tank rounds hit Zorn’s panzer taking advantage of the situation. One round at least penetrated the thinner plate wounding Zorn whose left leg was broken; he baled out and became the only one of the crew to survive. (Data from Heckmann, Wolf: Rommels Krieg im Afrika.

Here is what the Aussie's said

Bombardier R. H. McIntosh, ‘G’ Troop, 11th Battery, 2/3rd Anti-Tank Regiment
“As the first one came up the bank we had our first success with a shell right into the belly.” (29 Australian War Memorial)

Bombardier R. H. McIntosh, ‘G’ Troop, 11th Battery, 2/3rd Anti-Tank Regiment
“We lined up three tanks almost side by side as they attempted to come up the bank. We kept firing as they came to the wadi hitting some going down the bank, some coming up. I have no idea what damage we did or how many we stopped or disabled but we did notice that some of those we stopped moved off again up the wadi away from us.” (29 Australian War Memorial)

Bombardier R. H. McIntosh, ‘G’ Troop, 11th Battery, 2/3rd Anti-Tank Regiment
“The tanks were closing in rapidly and one at about 50 to 60 yards away stopped. I was directing Ted Coppock to fire at it when I saw the barrel of a gun swing round on us and evidently it fired before we did because, when I regained my senses, Ted Coppock had been blown right from his seat back on top of me.

When I regained my senses there was a German standing over us and right beside us was a tank. Seeing that tank with the two dead men has always remained very closely in my mind just as clearly as I can remember wondering how it got there with the dead crew, and how it missed running over us.” (29 Australian War Memorial)

Are Zorn and his dead crew fictitious? If not, how would his knocked out Panzer IV be noted in history in a meaningful way?

The problem with the figure 27 is that it gives a false impression of the operational state of Panzer Regiment 5 at anytime and this impacts on our understanding of events concerning Rommel's decisions.

What was the operational tank state of Panzer Regiment 5 and 8 for Operation Brevity. If it was nearly 300 panzers in the field and capable of manoeuvring to make contact as required then it would appear that the very low figure is right and I am wrong.

What figures do we have for operational panzers for the time of Operation Brevity? And I do not mean landed panzers in Libya for Pz5 + Pz8 -27. I mean what panzers were in the field with each regiment or gruppe and where.
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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by Urmel » 16 Jul 2013 17:18

ClintHardware wrote:A panzer without spares to make operational is for the time being a constructive total loss and unless it can be repaired it remains in that state.
So a tank with a blown cylinder gasket or a failed battery is a constructive total loss if no replacement part is available in North Africa, and it ceases to be so until the part has been flown in? I'm not a native speaker, but to me a constructive total loss is a tank that is either:

a) blown up/burnt out
b) immobilised for whatever reason (ran out of fuel, mobility kill on the battlefield, awaiting repair in a depot etc.) and overrun by the enemy

And that's it. I see no other definition that would fit in English. Everything else is a temporary loss, since it can be restored.

So with that said, the evidence is right there. 27 write offs (plus Panzer Is) for whatever reason that can not be attributed to operations from BREVITY to the beginning of CRUSADER. That's it. It's pretty hard to argue with the mathematics, or indeed the underlying data.

While I value your table, you need to keep in mind that overclaiming was a real issue. But nevertheless, even if all these 81 hits actually occured, you are stretching things if you presume that they all lead to a constructive total loss (even if you ignore the mathematics). damage can be temporary, negligible, can be repaired, etc.

I'm afraid I have nothing on German tank strength during BREVITY. I'll check to see if some of my contacts have the relevant WDs.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by ClintHardware » 17 Jul 2013 08:19

I have not stated that all 80 or 81 are the constructive total loss. I have stated that the number missing and the number fielded are close to that figure. This had led me to believe that with recovery and cannibalising German losses are hidden from us at any moment of measurement.

I am coming to the conclusion that it is more accurate to count what was landed in Tripoli compared to what was fielded at any moment as a measure of the success of the defensive strategy of retreat and concentrated artillery supporting infantry and armour.

I do not know Brevity figures as yet BUT trawling Google it seems that the reduced composite II. Abteilung was at the border with reduced numbers dealt with Brevity and I. Abteilung (scratched together from repaired panzers at Tobruk) was field two days after the start of Brevity in a very reduced state about 20 strong (please correct this) . So we still seem to have Pz5 down to less than half strength.

I currently have the impression (and please prove me wrong with data) that the mobility of British, Dominion and Empire troops (the Commonwealth was formed in 1946)and the planning (exploration, mapping, maintaining armour in the desert and RASC development of vehicles and methods) since the early 1930s to destroy strong Italian forces primarily with mobility had enabled a rash Generalleutnant Rommel to be impaled upon the desert and pulverised by artillery. The weak mixed Brigade strength to which 2nd Armd Div had been reduced because of Greece, with effectively just 20 tanks with useful anti-tank armament had played a significant part in reducing the Afrikakorps that we have ignored for 72 years.
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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by Urmel » 17 Jul 2013 09:04

ClintHardware wrote:I have not stated that all 80 or 81 are the constructive total loss.
I'm sorry, how am I to interpret this sentence then?
ClintHardware wrote: The constructive total loss before Operation Brevity appears to be in the order of 90.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by Urmel » 17 Jul 2013 09:17

ClintHardware wrote:I currently have the impression (and please prove me wrong with data) that the mobility of British, Dominion and Empire troops (the Commonwealth was formed in 1946)and the planning (exploration, mapping, maintaining armour in the desert and RASC development of vehicles and methods) since the early 1930s to destroy strong Italian forces primarily with mobility had enabled a rash Generalleutnant Rommel to be impaled upon the desert and pulverised by artillery.
I'm sorry, but that's a bit of a high-handed approach you are taking there. You make quite a heroic claim there, bring nothing in terms of evidence (why don't you look into MEHQ diaries, if such a cunning plan as you posit existed, you would find evidence there), and ask others to prove a negative. I don't think so.

The data is right there for the traditional historical interpretation.
- The destruction of 2 Armoured Division as a fighting force during the first offensive.
- The failure to hold on to the border during BREVITY.
- The failure to take the border during BATTLEAXE
- The failure to win the armoured battle during CRUSADER and the 2nd offensive, not once, not twice, but THREE times.
- The total failure in the Gazala line battles

Nobody was being pulverised by artillery, by the way, until El Alamein (with the exception of the Commonwealth forces on Ed Duda). If you look into Freyberg's notes on CRUSADER, you'll find comments on the total lack of inter-arms co-operation in mobile operations. The only people on the Commonwealth side who managed to use artillery were the static formations.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by ClintHardware » 17 Jul 2013 11:55

Urmel wrote: The data is right there for the traditional historical interpretation.
You need to breakout of tradition and revisit the data and the outcomes.
Urmel wrote: - The destruction of 2 Armoured Division as a fighting force during the first offensive.
3rd Armd is still fighting and 2/3rds of the brigade are being re-equipped.
2nd Support Group is in Tobruk and fighting on the border with Brigadier Gott
2nd Armd Div HQ is in Egypt to either be made redundant or refitted. It was made redundant and its men re-assigned.
That is not destruction and neither is Pz5 losing the ability to use its 90 unaccounted for panzers.
Urmel wrote: - The failure to hold on to the border during BREVITY.
Holding the border would have been good but being closer to the source of your supplies was OK too. The border could wait and it did.
Urmel wrote: - The failure to take the border during BATTLEAXE
Yes that seems to be victory to Rommel but did he make it last and get to Suez?
Urmel wrote: - The failure to win the armoured battle during CRUSADER and the 2nd offensive, not once, not twice, but THREE times.
Yes I do not regard CRUSADER as a victory.
Urmel wrote: - The total failure in the Gazala line battles
Gazala was difficult but Afrikakorps without reinforcements had shot its bolt and remained weak during June 42 - May 43.
Urmel wrote: Nobody was being pulverised by artillery, by the way, until El Alamein (with the exception of the Commonwealth forces on Ed Duda).
Commander Royal Artillery 9th Div was British Brigadier Thompson. His fire plan stopped the 11th and 14th April and 30th April - 2nd May attacks on Tobruk by causing so many loses. The Australian infantry eliminated those they could but they did not stop 5. leichte Division without the four British field regiments present that worked very closely with the infantry. The OPs were with the infantry.

Here is an element of the 11th April battle where the artillery did enough execution with a sufficiency of force. It was far worse for Afrikakorps on the 14th.

11th April
Oberstleutnant Friedrich Olbrich, Panzer Regiment 5

[The regiment] reached a position 12 kilometres south-west of Tobruk at about 1500 hours. The element of surprise was lost because the assembly area immediately came under enemy fire. (WO 169/1436) (WO 201/353)

Oberstleutnant Friedrich Olbrich, Panzer Regiment 5
At 1600 hours, the Regimentsstab and II. Abteilung began the attack. The regiment had been reduced to 25 [operational] panzers. On reaching high ground in view of the enemy, the panzers came under heavy artillery fire. (WO 169/1436) (WO 201/353)

The men of the 20th Brigade would have heard the shells of the 4th R.H.A. in the morning (with 2nd Support Group now under Gott outside the perimeter) and now saw those of the 1st and 107th pounding the enemy concentrations as the battle developed towards their positions. On reaching high ground, which could be observed directly by the British and Australian gunners, a heavier weight of artillery fire was landing amongst the panzers as they began to approach the anti-tank ditch. The panzers were approaching the 2/17th Battalion.

Lieutenant Ivor Birkin, ‘D’ Troop, 426 Battery
107th Regiment (South Nottinghamshire Hussars) Royal Horse Artillery
“There was an escarpment and these tanks came over the ridge probably about 6,000 yards away. We were firing at between five and six thousand yards which rather shook us as on exercise we had been used to firing at eight, nines and tens. They didn’t attack in great strength probably about fourteen or fifteen tanks altogether. I was responsible for relaying the instructions to the guns, shouting out all the different angles using the megaphone.”

Despite the blast and fragments of the 25-Pdr shells, the German attack kept rolling towards the perimeter and shortening the range.

‘B/O’ Battery 1st Royal Horse Artillery
1700 hrs. Infantry debussed 3000 yds from the wire and advanced in line towards R31 and R33. (WO 169/1436)

The attack was heading towards the 2/17th’s positions near R.33 from a mile to the south. Captain J. Goschen of the 1st R.H.A. got his guns onto them with 25 Rounds Gunfire, which temporarily halted their advance. However a group of panzers separated from the schützen and were seen coming through the barrage and heading towards the perimeter in front of Captain J. W. Balfe’s 10 Company.

Oberleutnant Kuhn had watched the schützen go to ground and dig in after being halted by fire. The few panzers of II. Abteilung passed through them aware that they were under observation and coming under shell fire. Kuhn saw the shells landing as neat detonating lines. (57)

1st Royal Northumberland Fusiliers
1700 hrs. Attack threatens on front 2/17 Bn. AFVs and considerable numbers inf.

Axis losses from artillery fire stopped them. At no time were Stukas or Axis artillery able to knockout any of the British batteries.
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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by Urmel » 17 Jul 2013 13:55

As I said, I think your new take on the history is out there.

1) If there was this cunning plan, then why is it not to be found in e.g. Wavell's despatch?
2) If not holding the border was better than holding it, why was BREVITY launched in the first instance
3) Even if we accept that re-equipping 3 Armoured Brigade did not mean that it was destroyed (but then, why did it have to be re-equipped), you are wrong in your claim. 2/3rds of 3 Armoured Brigade were not re-equipped. It never rose beyond the fighting strength of a single regiment of mediums. In fact, it stayed below this. I have given the numbers, they come to 46 medium tanks in September. 4 R.T.R. only arrived once 3 Armoured Brigade was dissolved.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by Urmel » 17 Jul 2013 14:22

ClintHardware wrote:Axis losses from artillery fire stopped them. At no time were Stukas or Axis artillery able to knockout any of the British batteries.
Thank you for confirming my point. As I said, the only time the Commonwealth forces could use artillery to some effect was when it was used by the static formations (in this case, Tobfort, there are other examples). The mobile, especially armoured formations were habitually incapable of this in 1941. So the idea that somehow the British used mobility to beat Rommel is simply not believable, since there is no evidence for this in the desert. Rather, the reverse appears to be true.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by Alanmccoubrey » 17 Jul 2013 14:45

To answer the question about the Pz IA and Pz IB, which might have already been answered but frankly there is just too much information being thrown around.

Anyway, the Pz IA's belonged to PR 5 while the Pz IB's belonged to Pz Jgr Abt 605 being used as command vehicles for their Pz Kgr I's.
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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by Urmel » 17 Jul 2013 15:49

Alanmccoubrey wrote: there is just too much information being thrown around.
BUt that's a good thing, right? :welcome:
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

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Re: 3rd Armourd Brigade Destroyed in the Desert

Post by Urmel » 17 Jul 2013 15:56

ClintHardware wrote:The weak mixed Brigade strength to which 2nd Armd Div had been reduced because of Greece, with effectively just 20 tanks with useful anti-tank armament had played a significant part in reducing the Afrikakorps that we have ignored for 72 years.
Sorry, but I have no idea what you are talking about here? What were these 'just 20 tanks'? Also, how do you arrive at the conclusion that 3 Armoured Brigade had 'a significant part' in reducing the D.A.K.? It appears to me from the German report that the breakdowns of the engines due to failure of sand filters (or non-installation) would have occurred in any case, even if 2 Armoured Divison had not been present at all.

And since you repeat the bit about the missing 90 or so German tanks. They had 58 engine changes, the majority of which seem to have been Panzer III. How many replacement engines did they have in North Africa, how much capacity did they have for engine changes? When did the last of these tanks make it back to the front line after the change? Unless you can answer these questions, the number of serviceable tanks at any time prior to CRUSADER doesn't tell you anything about actual combat losses. That's just an unfortunate fact.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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