Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

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Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by Urmel » 02 Mar 2012 01:29

Montanari Vol. II states Ariete lost 63 mediums during CRUSADER, out of 136.

http://crusaderproject.wordpress.com/20 ... he-battle/

I believe this to be very much incorrect, and believe the real number is closer to 130 (i.e. almost the whole of its strength).

It reported 90 tanks on 18 January, and by that time it had received 24 (November) + 52 (January) + 6 (Training battalion agedabia) = 80 reinforcement tanks. At the end of December commando CAM stated it was required to rebuild Ariete to at least 40-50 tanks (implying at least 86 losses) before it could be operationally useful again. British intel pegged it around 20 tanks by 24 December (which probably includes already some of the reinforcements).

See here for the arrival of the 24 tanks on 23 November and 1 December: http://crusaderproject.wordpress.com/20 ... mber-1941/

Does anyone have the real numbers?

Many thanks in advance.
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: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by arturolorioli » 02 Mar 2012 09:40

Urmel wrote: Does anyone have the real numbers?
The real numbers should be the ones provided by gen.Montanari, i,e. the numbers found in the archives of the Italian Army General Staff Historical Office, i.e. the numbers coming from the war diaries of the Ariete divisions and other official sources.

The requests for replacements did probably include non only the tanks needed to replace tanks destroyed in battle, but also to replace tanks so worn out or damaged to be no longer repairable, and possibly some reserve tanks too.
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Re: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by Urmel » 02 Mar 2012 10:35

Caro Arturo

I wish I could fully agree with you, but unfortunately I can only agree that Montanari's numbers should be the right ones. But I am afraid that based on the 1st-hand evidence (German, British, and Italian) that I have acccess to, they are most likely not. The numbers simply do not stack up in my view. If Montanari's numbers were correct, then Ariete should have been left with 136 - 63 = 73 medium tanks by 24 December. I believe the real number could be as low as 4 from the original, plus 6 from the Agedabia Compagnia di Formazione.

To clarify, I am talking about total losses from whichever cause, as I believe does Montanari. I am not interested in the tactical, but rather in the operational aspect of things.
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: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by arturolorioli » 02 Mar 2012 12:37

Urmel wrote: If Montanari's numbers were correct, then Ariete should have been left with 136 - 63 = 73 medium tanks by 24 December. I believe the real number could be as low as 4 from the original, plus 6 from the Agedabia Compagnia di Formazione ... To clarify, I am talking about total losses from whichever cause, as I believe does Montanari.
Alas, just can't say. Gen.Montanari and his staff did draw their data from official sources, and his book is the official Italian Army hisory of the campaign. I *suppose* they should have their numbers right, and if the Ariete had really suffered 93% *total* losses (your sources) instead of 46% (Montanari) I am quite positive that the official reports by the Ariete divisional HQ would have reported this sort of apocalyptic disaster. (By the way, by all the accounts the Ariete did remained operational for the whole battle, something that it could hardy be possible with only 4 tanks left, and that could be an element too).

I guess the key is the "total loss" concept, that is certainly tricky. The low-tech W2 tanks could often be repaired and put back to working conditions *relatively* quickly, so a "destroyed" tank in a "1st hand" report would turn out to be a "repairable at divisional workshop" tank on the battalion technical officer log, and as such not classified among the "total losses" at all.

Also many "1st hand" sources means eyewitness souces, reorting what they did phisically see or hear as well as they can remember it (or how best they suppose to remember it). So a "1st hand" report by a junior oficer saying "by that time the division had just 4 tanks left" could possibly just mean that by that date he did *see* just 4 running tanks in his area and/or he had been told that they were all that was left. Maybe the rest of his battalion was elsewhere, or behind a small ridge to miles east there were 30 tanks of another battalion, or another 40 were under reapair or refueling and expected to be back in line within the following morning, or whatever. As any police officer can tell you, eyewitness are usually the most unreliable sources of informations :wink:

But, as I said at the beginning of this post, just can't say.

But I repeat what I wrote at the beginning of this post, just can't say.
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Re: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by Urmel » 02 Mar 2012 14:35

arturolorioli wrote:
Urmel wrote: If Montanari's numbers were correct, then Ariete should have been left with 136 - 63 = 73 medium tanks by 24 December. I believe the real number could be as low as 4 from the original, plus 6 from the Agedabia Compagnia di Formazione ... To clarify, I am talking about total losses from whichever cause, as I believe does Montanari.
Alas, just can't say. Gen.Montanari and his staff did draw their data from official sources, and his book is the official Italian Army hisory of the campaign. I *suppose* they should have their numbers right, and if the Ariete had really suffered 93% *total* losses (your sources) instead of 46% (Montanari) I am quite positive that the official reports by the Ariete divisional HQ would have reported this sort of apocalyptic disaster. (By the way, by all the accounts the Ariete did remained operational for the whole battle, something that it could hardy be possible with only 4 tanks left, and that could be an element too).
93% of medium tanks was about what the Germans lost in the battle (lowest operational vs. highest operational strength), with definite total write offs being at least 84%. So Ariete would not be out of the ordinary. Unfortunately the war diary is extremely weak on numbers.
arturolorioli wrote:I guess the key is the "total loss" concept, that is certainly tricky. The low-tech W2 tanks could often be repaired and put back to working conditions *relatively* quickly, so a "destroyed" tank in a "1st hand" report would turn out to be a "repairable at divisional workshop" tank on the battalion technical officer log, and as such not classified among the "total losses" at all.
Due to the retreat, any tanks lost to whatever cause almost certainly ended up as total write off, since the battlefield ended up being controlled by the Commonwealth. That's what happened to the Germans, who lost almost 45 tanks when their workshops and initial collection points were lost.
arturolorioli wrote:Also many "1st hand" sources means eyewitness souces, reorting what they did phisically see or hear as well as they can remember it (or how best they suppose to remember it). So a "1st hand" report by a junior oficer saying "by that time the division had just 4 tanks left" could possibly just mean that by that date he did *see* just 4 running tanks in his area and/or he had been told that they were all that was left. Maybe the rest of his battalion was elsewhere, or behind a small ridge to miles east there were 30 tanks of another battalion, or another 40 were under reapair or refueling and expected to be back in line within the following morning, or whatever. As any police officer can tell you, eyewitness are usually the most unreliable sources of informations :wink:
I agree, and I should have been more specific. I am using the official reports that Montanari would have looked at. Including war diaries, intelligence reports, and after action reports. Not veteran accounts.
arturolorioli wrote:But, as I said at the beginning of this post, just can't say.
I'm afraid that will probably be the overall conclusion, without knowing where Montanari and his staff got their numbers from.
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: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by arturolorioli » 02 Mar 2012 16:19

Urmel wrote: I'm afraid that will probably be the overall conclusion, without knowing where Montanari and his staff got their numbers from.
Well, we know that. From the original wartime documents, now in the Italian Army General Staff Historical Office archives. That's what makes me rather confident that Gen.Montanari is a reliable source about this matter. But, again, I wasn't in North Africa in 1941, so ... :milwink:
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Re: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by Urmel » 02 Mar 2012 16:52

I sent you an email.

IX Battalion was rebuilt using Littorio's tanks.
VIII Battalion was rebuilt by adding 19 tanks from the Centro Carristi during 28 and 31 December.
VII Battalion was not rebuilt at this time.

The math does not add up to me, I am afraid.
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: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by Urmel » 04 Mar 2012 10:08

Had some time to check in Montanari yesterday. Elsewhere in Vol. II, during the description of the retreat from Tobruk to Agheila he states that Ariete had 20 operational tanks by the time they reached Agedabia. Again, just as with the overall loss figures, no source is given. :(

The only explanation I now have is that Montanari and his staff may have been unaware that Operation M.43 brought not just German, but also Italian medium tanks to North Africa. The text seems to imply this, and if they believed that no major tank transport got through between 18 November and 18 January, then the loss figure of 63 would make more sense, since it would then be a substraction job from the original tank state (136) to that of 18 January (90), allowing for the 24 tanks sent over in November (136 + 24 - 90 = 70 - which is close enough to 63 I guess).
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: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by jwsleser » 07 Mar 2012 23:01

Urmel

I have tried to follow your discussion, but it is a bit confusing. It would help if you provided cites (book/page numbers) from where you are pulling the data.

I see you are discussing two different ‘end’ dates, 24 December and dates in January. You also haven’t established which dates constitute Montanari’s definition of ‘Crusader’. Does Crusader include the retreat to El Agedabia?

You have made the assumption that the 54 tanks delivered in January were all Italian. Montanari doesn’t state that and the naval history only lists them as tanks. During the battle, how many M13s were evacuated and repaired?

Ariete had 20 tanks efficient on 23 Dec (page 695). When efficient (efficienti) is used, it implies that there are other tanks in the repair shops.

On page 713, it states that on 28 Dec Ariete had 20 tanks and DAK had a total of 60 (16 Pzkw II, 44 III and IVs). By January 7, DAK has 84 and added 32 more through repairs (total 116), while Ariete is at 84.

M43 delivered 54 tanks. If the tanks were all Italian, 54 + 20 doesn’t = 84.

Where did the additional 24 German tanks come from? Were 24 of the 54 Tanks received on 5 January German? Are those 54 tanks part of the totals listed on 7 January for Ariete and DAK? Do the numbers of M13s reflect the RECAM?

Between Montanari and the Naval volume, there isn’t enough data to figure out ‘truth’. Given that Montanari used the official reports, I must believe that 63 (page is the correct number lost (Ariete and RECAM) during this period.

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Re: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by Urmel » 08 Mar 2012 09:33

Okay, I'll try to be less confusing.

Ariete started the battle with 136 medium tanks (memory, I'll look up the source), and another 18 mediums were in Cyrenaica, and 2 in Tripolitania (Montanari Vol. II p.440). There was a training company in Agedabia at least at the end of December, with at least 6 tanks, which were handed over to Ariete around Christmas, so some or all of the 18 mediums not with Ariete could have been there?

During November, North Africa received 24 medium tanks (10 on Filzi, 14 on Veniero Difesa del Trafico Vol. II p. 100 & 125).
M.43 delivered 82 Italian tanks (Difesa p.216) - note that Montanari does not mention these, he mentions only 52 tanks for the Germans. Which is why I consider he and his staff may have overlooked these.

So far we have at least 136 + 82 + 24 = 242 medium tanks in North Africa by 5 January. We know that most units which arrived on M.43 were with Ariete by the middle of January (e.g. the two Gruppi of Semovente). While we can not be certain, we can consider that the 82 medium tanks were with the unit at this date too.

On 20 January Ariete had 89 medium tanks operational (report by Command CAM to Panzergruppe Afrika). That number was almost the same in early February, which leads me to believe that they did not have a lot of tanks under repair or arriving, since they did not lose many tanks during the counter-offensive.

Montanari states that losses in arms are considered not considering those sent from home (whatever that might mean), and medium tank losses were 63 (Vol. II p. 741/742), while light tank losses were 187.

That's sort of clear as far as it goes. Where are the missing 154 tanks (242 - 63)?

I hope that is clearer?
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: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by Urmel » 08 Mar 2012 14:25

jwsleser wrote:On page 713, it states that on 28 Dec Ariete had 20 tanks and DAK had a total of 60 (16 Pzkw II, 44 III and IVs). By January 7, DAK has 84 and added 32 more through repairs (total 116), while Ariete is at 84.
Jeff

the number for 7 Jan is not correct. In fact, it is completely wrong, since it apparently assumes that the German tanks delivered on M.43 were teleported from Tripoli to the frontlines. They didn't. The correct number is 54 for that day, working from primary German documents (war diaries).

The DAK never reached 100 operational tanks in January. The number could be correct for 7 February however, when a lot of the technical issues of the M.43 tanks were repaired, and the T.18 tanks had been added. This could either be a typo or error by Montanari. I haven't got the book in front of me now. Ariete 84 would also sound about right for 7 February, but sounds very high for 7 January, since I believe (but need to check) that the mediums which arrived on T.18 went to Littorio, while the M.43 mediums would not have made it to the front in two days.
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Re: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by Urmel » 08 Mar 2012 16:32

I have a paper quoting the pre-Montanari history 'Seconda Offensiva Britannica'. It states the following:

Medium tanks 18 Nov (p. 95 SOB in AS):
137 Ariete
9 RECAM
146 total

Medium tank losses by 8 Jan:
120

20 Dec Ariete Runners (all numbers below probably refer to mediums only, although this is not stated)
20

9 January Ariete Runners:
34 (of which 8 detached to 90th Light)
2 under repair
5 on approach march
52 in Tripoli

Total 92 (Note that as above La Difesa del Trafico states 82 Italian tanks were on M.43, but it does not state how many/if any of these were light tanks). It is of course possible that the 82 includes the two Gruppi of Semovente (I didn't consider this in my post above - how many Semovente to a Gruppo?).

17 January Ariete Runners
89 after tanks from Tripoli have arrived

3 February Runners (presumed to be only Ariete)
80 (so some have fallen out after operations)

Note that this further makes the case for the 7 Jan numbers Jeff mentions above to be actually 7 Feb)

120 total losses I can easily believe. 63 I can not.

Note also that SOB in AS states that on 14 December Ariete lost 16 out of its remaining 30 tanks (probably page 109 following in SOB in AS).

Thoughts?
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Re: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by jwsleser » 08 Mar 2012 18:55

Urmel

Thanks for the cites. These truly helped to both follow and add to your discussion.

I have not read your new post (just quickly scanned it while posting this post). Agreed that the M43 numbers are not clear. I was thinking L6s, but semoventi are another possibility.

I have Seconda Offensiva Britannica and was planning to check those volumes next.

Below is just from reviewing Montanari and Difesa.

First a comment. Montanari’s data presented on pages 737-738 is for the period 15 Nov-15 Jan. He also states that the losses listed are ‘without considering the material sent from the Mother Country (“Senza considerare gli invii di materiale della madrepatria”).

I feel that these two sources (Montanari and Difesa) don’t provide all the data needed to resolve this issue. I also believe that Montanari presents the tanks number in one of three ways:

1) Total assigned to the unit.

2) Total efficienti.

3) Total in theater.

Sometimes it takes a little more checking to see which number he is presenting. For example, the CAM had 146 tanks on 17 December (Montanari 424). However, if you read footnote 50 on page 454, there are 8 additional M13s in repair. So 146 are the number of tanks efficienti. Also note that 146 includes the number of M13s in the RECAM. There are 154 M13s in the CAM, of which 8 are in repair, and an unknown number of the 146 are in the RECAM. So your working number of 136 M13s in Ariete might be correct.

As a note, the 162 and 25 carri leggeri listed here equal the total lost (187) listed on page 738. This is one indication that Montanari’s numbers are consistent.

On 3 December Ariete is listed as having 92 M13s, of which 50 are efficienti (page 629). At question is whether the 24 M13s delivered in November are included in this number. The Fabio Filzi arrived in Tripoli 23 Nov and departed 30 Nov (Difesa 379, 383); the Sebastiano Venier arrived in Bengasi on 1 Dec and departed 8 Dec (Difersa 381, 384). It is unlikely that any of these tanks had been unloaded and transported (1100+ kms) to the Ariete by 3 Dec. If 92 tanks is a good number for the number of M13s in Ariete, then we can say that 44 M13s had been lost between 17 Novemeber-3 December.

Balotta reports 14 M13 efficienti on 14 Dec (page 680). Ariete has 13 M13s efficienti on 17 Dec (page 682). The data in Montanari on page 695 appears to have been presented at the meeting held on 23 December. Here Ariete is listed having 20 M13s efficienti, while the RECAM has 2. We don’t know how many M13s are in repair (inefficienti) during this period. We also don’t know how many of the 24 M13s delivered had reached the front.

Ariete has twenty-ish (ventina) tanks on 28 Dec (712). On 2 Jan Ariete has 19 M13s (page 721 and footnote 66). 5 Jan Ariete has 84. On 20 Jan CAM had 89 efficienti (vol III page 20). Here Montanari indicates that these tank numbers are a combination of new and repaired vehicles (“Di particolare valore l’arrivo di nuovi carri e la rimessa in efficienza dei mezzi danneggiati: il 20 gennaio il CAM aveva in linea 89 carri M13 efficienti ed...”). The new vehicles are likely those delivered in November (24 tanks).
M43 arrived in Tripoli on 5 Jan and departed 13, 18, and 19 Jan (Difesa pages 392, 394, 395). The time required to unload, prepare and move these vehicles forward (over 700 kms) likely prevented them from being part of the 20 Jan numbers.

In all, I feel we needed to account for 154 + 24 M13s in the numbers. 178 M13s – 89 available is 89. Montanari reports 63 lost, leaving 26 M13s unaccounted for. These could be in maintenance at this time.

Just my thoughts. I will again stress that we likely are missing some information.

Pista!

Jeff
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Re: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by Urmel » 09 Mar 2012 11:26

Thank you Jeff. As you say, there is not sufficient information in these two books. So looking at the WD of 132 Carri, I can add the following:

28 Dec - 11 tanks from Centro Carristi, start of rebuilding VIII Battaglione, also 4 carri from Compania di Formazione Agedabia posted for disposition of the regiment.
29 Dec - 5 tanks from Centro Carristi, to VIII Battaglione
31 Dec - 3 tanks from Compania di Formazione Agedabia, to VIII Battaglione

Total new tanks in this period: 23

2 Jan - 6 tanks from the Compania di Formazione are posted to the German 155th Rifle Regiment. 2 tanks are hit and immobilised in combat. 4 tanks rejoin the line, implying that possibly the other two are lost permanently.
3 Jan - 8 tanks form a reconnaissance nucleo directly under the CAM


16 Jan - reconstitution of the IX Battaglion (1 company) with tanks from Littorio recently arrived from Italy
17 January - reconstituted IX Battaglion takes its place in the line with three companies

These must have been the tanks which arrived on M.43. We know the Semovente's which were I believe also on M.43 made it to the front in time for the counter-offensive. There is no reason to presume that the other tanks from the convoy did not.
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Re: Tank state Ariete - 24 Dec 1941

Post by jwsleser » 09 Mar 2012 19:16

Urmel

Interesting data from the Ariete WD. Is the War Diary something that can be shared? I would certainly like to have a copy.

At this point, I agree that you have a thesis worth pursuing (that Montanari understated Italian tank losses during Crusader). However, I will say that you have not proved your point and more work is required.

The main issues requiring resolution are:

-How are the tanks counted. IBWs, what is included in the numbers and what is not.

-How did the maintenance system function and how many tanks entered-left the system?

Montarari’s total losses (63) likely reflects absolute total losses. IBWs, total write-off of tanks, with tanks in repair but not yet returned to service not considered as losses. With this definition, the only true point-in-time for making the assessment of total losses is when the last Ariete tank exits the maintenance system and returns to service (or is written off). 20 Jan might not be that date, as tanks can still be in the maintenance system.

The remaining numbers are interesting but not definitive. Certainly tanks delivered by M43 for Littorio were used by Ariete. The question is whether these tanks were replaced in Littorio by repaired Ariete tanks later in the period. If so, the transaction is a wash and changes nothing in terms of losses. The same is true of the Central Carristi.

What needs to be presented is that the Ariete completely wrote-off more than 63 tanks as non-repairable/non-recoverable. If any damaged tanks were repaired but issued to different organizations, those are not losses in terms of Crusader. The 3 December data that shows 42 tanks in repair is one example that large numbers could be in maintenance and not reflected in the numbers provided.

A good and enjoyable discussion.

Pista!

Jeff
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