Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Discussions on WW2 in Western Europe & the Atlantic.
histan
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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by histan » 02 Dec 2016 02:10

Guys

I would like to suggest a read of:
FM 18-20 War Department Field Manual: Tactical Employment of Tank Destroyer Platoon Self-Propelled dated 8 May1944

Regards

John

Yoozername
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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Yoozername » 02 Dec 2016 02:24

https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/re ... M18-20.PDF

And I would suggest that it might have been read before the invasion. The July document may have been a difficult read while actually fighting...It had absolutely nothing to do with the Bocage battles.

FM-18-20 clearly calls out the need for primary, secondary, etc. positions for a defending Tank Destroyer platoon M10/M18. That is, they do not stand and shoot in some stationary mode. This is exactly why they were more effective than towed TD during the battle of the bulge.

MarkN
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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by MarkN » 02 Dec 2016 09:33

histan wrote: I would like to suggest a read of:
FM 18-20 War Department Field Manual: Tactical Employment of Tank Destroyer Platoon Self-Propelled dated 8 May1944
Says the same as FN 18-5 (1944), defensive action from static (preferrably prepared) positions.
Last edited by MarkN on 02 Dec 2016 09:47, edited 1 time in total.

MarkN
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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by MarkN » 02 Dec 2016 09:46

Yoozername wrote: FM-18-20 clearly calls out the need for primary, secondary, etc. positions for a defending Tank Destroyer platoon M10/M18.
EXACTLY! They were to fight from a static (preferrably prepared) position. If that becomes untenable, they move to an alternate static firing position.
Yoozername wrote:That is, they do not stand and shoot in some stationary mode. This is exactly why they were more effective than towed TD during the battle of the bulge.
Yes they do. They were not fighting 'on the move''; they were supposed to move between static firing positions only when the one they were in become untenable or made irrelevant. If you still cannot see the difference, there is little more I can do to help you beyond strapping you onto a tank/tank destroyer/mockup vehicle and giving a live demonstration.
Yoozername wrote:And I would suggest that it might have been read before the invasion. The July document may have been a difficult read while actually fighting...It had absolutely nothing to do with the Bocage battles.
Perhaps you should have a thought about how long the gestation period of a Field Manual was/is. Also, have a bit of a read up on when FM 18-5 (1942) became redundant and why. Or perhaps you wish to continue believing that doctrine suddenly changed overnight 17/18 July 1944.

Juha
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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Juha » 02 Dec 2016 14:25

All nations had anti-tank units during the WWII, were they were called TDs, A/T-artillery, Panzerjäger or pst. US TDs were underemployed in Normandy because most of German Panzern were employed against Commonwealth troops. But already on 6 June 44 British A/T units stopped the counter-attack of the 21 PzD on its tracks and inflicted heavy losses to its PzR 22.
You are probably first person I have come across who might think that the situation of the Finnish Army was good in December 1939. It hadn’t taken much valuable manpower away from the other Army needs to a/t assets because it had only under 100 a/t guns when the Soviet Union attacked, at first the SU used around 800 tanks against Finns, but the number of tanks soon rose to 3,000. Lack of a/t guns cost a lot of Finnish blood during the Winter War.

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Yoozername » 02 Dec 2016 18:57

I guess the words 'Static' (or Dynamic) have their own meaning to certain people. Antitank guns are Static, to me, means staying in one place. A good example is a 4,872 lbs antitank gun. Once deployed, very static. Now, something with tracks, and a doctrine that says so, can move to alternate positions. That is not static. I suppose that people on the internet have their own definitions.

Do they even use the word 'static' in the manual? Before you start offering to tie people up (that would be funny for you to even try), I suggest you expand your vocabulary to differentiate between attacking and defending. Seems you are basing your whole 'static' argument on defending? It may not be your fault, the Grand TD 'scheme' seems to be bending its story. Its mission stays the same, that is 'Destroy Tanks', but how they are actually supposed to do this, in an Army that is attacking as a means to prosecute a war, becomes fuzzy. They are actually told to stay behind in the dust and confusion in FM 18-20 (LOL).

Also, excuse me if I ever said so, but who said they should "fire on the move"? As far as I know, they did not have gyrostabilizers and the M10 did not even have power traverse.

FM 18-20 War Department Field Manual: Tactical Employment of Tank Destroyer Platoon Self-Propelled dated 8 May1944 is concerned only with the platoon use of Self-Propelled TD. It is probably more applicable to the discussion than the 'Doctrine' concerning both self-propelled and towed TD. I think everyone should read it with the upcoming Normandy battle in mind. The terrain negates most 'points' made in the manual. Towed TD would be even more useless in the Bocage. I image that FM 18-20 was created in light of experiences in Sicily and Italy. Maybe the jungle use of TD in the Philippines would have been better reading for the guys in Normandy

BTW, considering the actual 'Brigade' HQ this 'branch' had, it was also a waste of officers.

MarkN
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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by MarkN » 02 Dec 2016 20:23

Yoozername wrote:I guess the words 'Static' (or Dynamic) have their own meaning to certain people. Antitank guns are Static, to me, means staying in one place. A good example is a 4,872 lbs antitank gun. Once deployed, very static. Now, something with tracks, and a doctrine that says so, can move to alternate positions. That is not static. I suppose that people on the internet have their own definitions.

Do they even use the word 'static' in the manual? Before you start offering to tie people up (that would be funny for you to even try), I suggest you expand your vocabulary to differentiate between attacking and defending. Seems you are basing your whole 'static' argument on defending? It may not be your fault, the Grand TD 'scheme' seems to be bending its story. Its mission stays the same, that is 'Destroy Tanks', but how they are actually supposed to do this, in an Army that is attacking as a means to prosecute a war, becomes fuzzy. They are actually told to stay behind in the dust and confusion in FM 18-20 (LOL).

Also, excuse me if I ever said so, but who said they should "fire on the move"? As far as I know, they did not have gyrostabilizers and the M10 did not even have power traverse.

FM 18-20 War Department Field Manual: Tactical Employment of Tank Destroyer Platoon Self-Propelled dated 8 May1944 is concerned only with the platoon use of Self-Propelled TD. It is probably more applicable to the discussion than the 'Doctrine' concerning both self-propelled and towed TD. I think everyone should read it with the upcoming Normandy battle in mind. The terrain negates most 'points' made in the manual. Towed TD would be even more useless in the Bocage. I image that FM 18-20 was created in light of experiences in Sicily and Italy. Maybe the jungle use of TD in the Philippines would have been better reading for the guys in Normandy

BTW, considering the actual 'Brigade' HQ this 'branch' had, it was also a waste of officers.
It's very difficult to have a serious and sensible discussion if one person keeps changing the goal posts and misquoting.


British tank doctrine at the beginning of the war included 'fire on the move'. It was flawed doctrine and ahead of its time. However, I have not used the phrase 'fire on the move' (read back to confirm if you will), I have used 'fighting on the move'. This was tank doctrine for most other forces. 'Fighting on the move' is all about constant movement with only brief halts simply to fire the gun from a stabilised platform.

If you are choosing to misread what I post, there is little chance we can find any common ground.

FM 18-5 (1942) describes doctrine as being overtly offensive and employing 'fighting on the move'. It was flawed doctrine that barely survived the first contact. With days of the first engagements (late November 1942), FM 18-5 (1942) was discarded by unit and field commanders. From then on, tank destroyers became defensive assets to the higher commander. Defensive assets whilst the command was either acting offensively or defensively. As early as March 1943, Eisenhower's HQ were already putting out training memos giving guidance on how to use tank destroyer units in the absence of a credible FM. A new and revised FM18-5 had already been written by May 1943 (and that took several months to complete). However, it was only published in July 1944. The old, flawed, discredited and discarded FM 18-5 (1942) reflected theory and staged exercise results. The new FM 18-5 (1944) reflected the realities of combat.

First.
FM 18-5 (1944) describes TD units firing from static locations. Ie. the locate a position and wait for the enemy to come to them. The remain in that position engaging the enemy up until such time as it becomes an irrelevant position (the battle has moved elsewhere) or the position becomes untenable.

In other words, doctrine for the employment TD describes firing from static positions (not permanent) with moves to alternate positions only to be made when necessary.

Or, another way to look at is...
TDs move from one firing position to another when necessary - like field artillery.
Tanks are constantly on the move and only halt to fire - like infantry.

Second.
The doctrine of firing from positions applies equally to SPA and towed. There are some differences when your read through the documents carefully, which reflect the obvious reality that they are not the very same weapon system and offer slightly different capabilities.

Third.
FM 18-5 (1944) decribe TD efforts almost exclusively as defensive in nature. When the force in which they are operating is in defence, they are in defence. When the force in which they are operating is in offence, they are in defence awaiting a potential enemy counter-attack. This is quite different to the doctrine of FM 18-5 (1942) and is so different due to the scale of the flaws in the original thinking.

In other words, doctrine for the employment of TD units was almost exclusively defensive in nature.

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Some other excerpts for you to peruse. You will notice that the description of the positions for SPA and towed is almost identical. The picture is different.

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Juha
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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Juha » 02 Dec 2016 20:32

The A/T guns were not generally meant to stay static, that is why e.g. in German 1939 infantry division the only fully motorized unit was its Panzerjäger Abteilung/A/T battalion. They needed mobility to be able to concentrate rapidly to danger spots.
German tactics put great weight to counter-attacks. That pretty obivious e.g. on 6 June 44, Commonwealth troops were clearly the attacking side but Germans launched a division size (21. PzD) counter attack against them. Without their heavy 17 pdr a/t guns British would have been in deep trouble with that but with the a/t guns the attack of PzR 22 was easily stopped.

Juha
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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Juha » 02 Dec 2016 20:56

Hello Mark
thanks a lot for the copies of the pages of the manuals!

Juha

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Yoozername » 02 Dec 2016 21:16

Where does it say static in all that posted material? Please save me some time as you are arguing moot points. I find it difficult to have a discussion with someone that thinks the US was in a defensive battle in the ETO. Almost all combatants stressed firing from a non-moving position. That includes a short halt or a primary/secondary/etc. US tanks DID have gyrostabilizers and could use firing on the move more than most.

So...
Or, another way to look at is...
TDs move from one firing position to another when necessary - like field artillery.
Tanks are constantly on the move and only halt to fire - like infantry.
...is not correct either. You can have your own 'reality', doesn't really matter to me. But please don't put words in my mouth either. Or make statements like tying me down. And its OK if you think you are smart. Many people do that.

My point is that the whole 'TD Doctrine' and bloated bureaucracy did not serve its PRIMARY goal as stated. And, again, that is the Destruction of Tanks. Clearly, the whole concept was dropped at the end of WWII. They failed to develop weapons that were needed, and were then rushed in a reactionary mode to get weapons and ammunition developed quickly. They flip-flopped on what they were supposed to be doing on the battlefield, and emphasized their 'secondary' functions as 'added value'. Again, a high velocity gun like the 3 inch, with its inferior HE, introduced a logistics strain since it was a long piece of brass. heck, they even had to stock reduced charge 3 inch shells since its flat trajectory had issues clearing obstructions.

So, to get back to the OP Title 'Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks', we can say that the TD Doctrine is to "LET US DESTROY THEM! DEFENSIVELY!"

Hardly worth the title of a 'Branch' of the military. It just seems to reek of artillery officers making more career slots for them selves.

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Yoozername » 02 Dec 2016 21:55

stat·ic
ˈstadik/
adjective
1.
lacking in movement, action, or change, especially in a way viewed as undesirable or uninteresting.
"demand has grown in what was a fairly static market"
synonyms: unchanged, fixed, stable, steady, unchanging, changeless, unvarying, invariable, constant, consistent
"static prices"
2.
PHYSICS
concerned with bodies at rest or forces in equilibrium.

Image

histan
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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by histan » 03 Dec 2016 01:22

I don't have a dog in this fight and experience says keep out of it. But what the heck.

I don't find any difficulty with MarkN's interpretation of the doctrine.

For what it's worth, to me it looks like they were bringing together the doctrine for towed and self-propelled anti-tank guns, which would make it easier for everybody who had to work with them when in combat.

The doctrine talks about a primary location from which an anti-tank gun would intend to fight the battle. The intention would be to fight from this location unless forced to move or change location to improve effectiveness. It lays great emphasis on camouflage and concealment. If nothing significant happened the anti-tank gun would fight from this location until the end of the engagement.

The SP ant-tank gun would make use of its mobility to change to an already prepared secondary location if necessary.

So - not as static as a pill-box but nowhere near "shoot and scoot"

Just to say, I have quite a bit of experience in having to understand doctrine and I get a completely different "feel" when reading the 1944 TD doctrine than when reading the tank doctrine sections on Tank versus Tank engagements.

This discussion is only about the relatively low level "Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures" part of the doctrine and not, for example, the organizational level aspects.

Regards

John

PS - I think that there is actually agreement on how the SP TDs were supposed to fight just an argument over semantics

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Yoozername » 03 Dec 2016 01:33

Yoozername wrote:I suppose this sums it up....
THE GENERAL BOARD
UNITED STATES FORCES, EUROPEAN THEATER APO 408

PART SIX

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

CHAPTER 1

CONCLUSIONS

50. Training Literature.

That the employment of tank destroyers in the European Theater was not based on the methods prescribed by Field Manual 18-5.

51. Armor in Infantry Division.

That the use and employment of tank destroyers in the European Theater clearly indicates the necessity that armored, self- propelled, high-velocity guns be organic in the infantry division.

52. Tank Destroyers in Armored Division.

That the trend toward tanks armed with weapons capable of destroying other tanks and the ability of tanks to develop the same mobility and fire power as the destroyer make tank destroyer units unnecessary to the armored division.

53. Infantry Division includes Sufficient Antitank Weapons.

That the inclusion of sufficient antitank means in the infantry division proposed by the Theater General Board, (Organization, Equipment, and Tactical Employment of the Infantry Division 320.2/9 Study No. 15) eliminates the need of attachment of tank destroyers.

CHAPTER 2

RECOMMENDATIONS

54. Armor in Infantry Division.

That armored, self-propelled, high-velocity guns capable of destroying piecemeal commitment of enemy armor and of assaulting strong points and fortified positions be included in the infantry division.

55. Tank Destroyer Function Assumed by Armored Forces.

That the tank destroyer doctrine be revised and included in the defensive doctrines of the Armored Force.

56. Artillery Antitank Responsibility.

That the artillery assume the responsibility of deepening organic antitank defense.

57. Discontinuance of Tank Destroyers.

That the tank destroyers as a separate force be discontinued.

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Yoozername » 03 Dec 2016 01:33

That the tank destroyers as a separate force be discontinued.

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Yoozername » 03 Dec 2016 01:35

It can be said in brief...Put the antitank guns in the infantry divisions...Put self-propelled TD in the armor divisions...Get rid of the "TD Officer Club"

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