Sturmgeschütz III Ausf ? versus Maresal (M-05 prototype)

Discussions on the vehicles used by the Axis forces. Hosted by Christian Ankerstjerne
Huck
Member
Posts: 1188
Joined: 19 Jul 2004 12:52
Location: Detroit

Post by Huck » 21 Feb 2005 05:37

Christian Ankerstjerne wrote:
Huck wrote:Maximum speed is good for comparisons, average speed is not, because everybody defines it differently. Even max speed was measured differently between armies of different countries, average speed cannot be used in comparisons.

I'm not talking about average speeds - I'm talking about road and cross-country speed. The maximum speed will give you an idea of what the engine was capable of, but not an idea of how the vehicle would perform in reality.


For comparisons the numbers you gave are meaningless. Are all tanks tested on the same field when cross country speed is measured? Are all tank driver using the same setting when driving? And so on. The numbers you are giving are dependent other than the vehicle itself, roughness of test terrain, driver skills, army requirements and so on.

Max speed on the other hand is an objective limit, especially the one on flat terrain, the vehicles just cannot go faster than that. It does not really give you an exact estimation of the real speed of the vehicle in field use, but it gives you an ideea of how it compares with other vehicles.

Christian Ankerstjerne wrote:
Huck wrote:I doubt that. StuG III and StuG IV had excellent mobity and automotive qualities, inherited from PzKpfw III and IV respectively. PzKpfw III and IV had the best mobility in their class, easily outclassing T-34 in rough terrain (Christie suspension was no competion for the torsion bar suspension of German mediums).
StuG IV had better MMP than T-34-85 (180 compared with 200kN/sqm). Speed was comparable.


Sturmgeschütz Ausf.G

Code: Select all

Maximum speed              40 km./h.
Road speed                 20 km./h.
Cross country speed        12-15 km./h.
...


Compare this to e.g. the Panther Ausf.G

Code: Select all

Maximum speed              46 km./h.
Road speed                 30-35 km./h.
Cross country speed        20 km./h.
...


Again, you are posting some meaningless numbers. 40km/h is the max speed given for all StuG and PzKpfw III. However, it is highly unlikely that all models had the same max speed, considering the modifications in weight and initially even in drive train design. Russians measured PzKpfw III max speed on the road to be 69km/h. 40km/h was just a German requirement, not the actual max speed of the vehicle.

And then you compare it with Panther?? Panther had the best ever MMP, which directly translates in smallest forces in suspension, of course the off road limits specified were higher than for StuG III. In practice however, the complexity of Panther's drive train called for restraint, whereas the StuG III's proven reliability made the drivers more courageous.

Christian Ankerstjerne wrote:
StuG III had the aprox the same weight with PzKpfw III version it was based on. Of course that StuG III Ausf G, which entered in production in 1942, was heavier than earlier PzKpfw III, but not so compared with PzKpfw III produced since 1942.
And in contrast with other mediums PzKpfw III / StuG III was light.

Aside from the suspension, the Pz.Kpfw.III and Sturmgeschütz didn't follow each other, so the evolution should be based on a comparison with the design it originated from.


Engine, transmission, suspension, and overall weight were basically the same, which is what counts. They had the same mobility.

Christian Ankerstjerne wrote:
All late war German SPATs, having heavily armored enclosed hulls, got a Sturmgeschutz designation, including Jagdpanther or Jagdpanzer IV. This is not a reason for us to avoid comparing them with other SPATs. Same for le.Pz.Jäg.38t.

That's not what I wrote - I wrote that it was designed specifically for the role of a Sturmgeschütz, which e.g. the Jagdpanther wasn't.


It got a medium tank gun, that could hardly mean it was specifically designed to be a Sturmgeschütz. Late in the war all Sturmgeschütz had to have antitank capabilities and vice versa. This is why Jagdpanther got a Sturmgeschütz designation, it had to be a capable vehicle in this role.
Last edited by Huck on 21 Feb 2005 06:02, edited 1 time in total.

Huck
Member
Posts: 1188
Joined: 19 Jul 2004 12:52
Location: Detroit

Post by Huck » 21 Feb 2005 05:57

dragos wrote:
Huck wrote:In the end Maresal was not produced because Romania could not do it alone (in a reasonable timeframe, that is).


"The events following 23 August 1944 led to the cancellation of production on 29 August. However, it has been decided the resuming of trials with the M-05 and the finishing of the first series of ten vehicles. Invoking the terms of armistice, on 26 October the Soviets confiscated the prototypes, the first series that was almost completed and everything related to the Maresal."


Did the Soviets confiscated the designers too? No. That can be a reason for delays, but cannot be a reason for calling it off.
Check again the components list.

dragos wrote:
Huck wrote:The problem was that it could not move and look for threats and targets at the same time, because the driver was busy driving the thing.

The loader/machine gunner could do this job though.


T-34-76 had a 4 man crew with a 2 man turret. This configuration was considered inferior and subsequently abandoned. The commander has to look for its threats and targets, the gunner has to concentrate on aiming, giving them other tasks only decreases the overall effectiveness of the vehicle.

dragos wrote:
Huck wrote:Read this excerpt from Battlefield.ru: http://www.battlefield.ru/t34_76_2.html , sources are given at the bottom of the page.

Where does it say that Pz.III had supperior mobility off-road? The soft terrain was still an impediment for the narrower tracks of the Panzer. I have never seen somewhere else the maximum speed of 69.7 km/h for Panzer III. I think it was practically impossible to use such speed without breaking something.


The advantage of Christie suspension is the high speed on the road, its disadvantage is the poor off road capabilities (this is why it was completely abandoned). What is remarcable is that PzKpfw III was faster than T-34 on the road, off road there was no competition between the two anyway. Unless of course, you think that Christie suspension is superior off road to torsion bar suspension :D

dragos wrote:
Huck wrote:Note that T-34 was order out of production as a result of comparative trials with Pz.Kpfw III.

"By those results the GABTU issued a summary document for Marshal G.I.Kulik, who affirmed it and ordered production of the T-34 to cease until improvements were made in all revealed defects and drawbacks."


Exactly, because PzKpfw III proved to have superior mobility compared to T-34, T-34 was ordered out of production. That it was meant to be temporary, and that in the end the order was not put into effect, due to urgency of having medium tank production able to compete with German designs, does not matter. The fact remains, T-34 was ordered out of production after PzKpfw III proved to have much better mobility.

User avatar
dragos
Member
Posts: 531
Joined: 02 Mar 2004 20:22
Location: Romania

Post by dragos » 21 Feb 2005 16:07

Huck wrote:Did the Soviets confiscated the designers too? No. That can be a reason for delays, but cannot be a reason for calling it off.
Check again the components list.


Be serious, the Soviets would have forbidden any further developments. Remember that the Soviets ordered even the 1st Armoured Division to be disbanded.

Huck wrote:T-34-76 had a 4 man crew with a 2 man turret. This configuration was considered inferior and subsequently abandoned. The commander has to look for its threats and targets, the gunner has to concentrate on aiming, giving them other tasks only decreases the overall effectiveness of the vehicle.


I didn't say it was a perfect or superior combination, only a feasible combination. You said that "The problem was that it could not move and look for threats and targets at the same time, because the driver was busy driving the thing." and I said that "The loader/machine gunner could do this job". I didn't refer to other armoured vehicle.

Huck wrote:The advantage of Christie suspension is the high speed on the road, its disadvantage is the poor off road capabilities (this is why it was completely abandoned). What is remarcable is that PzKpfw III was faster than T-34 on the road, off road there was no competition between the two anyway


I still do not understand what you want to say. That PzIII was performing better off-road than T-34? Where does it say that?

Huck wrote:The fact remains, T-34 was ordered out of production after PzKpfw III proved to have much better mobility.


Off-topic, but if that order would have been carried out it would have been very stupid. In overall T-34 was a superior concept to Pz III, even if there was room for improvements.

Huck
Member
Posts: 1188
Joined: 19 Jul 2004 12:52
Location: Detroit

Post by Huck » 22 Feb 2005 01:43

dragos wrote:
Huck wrote:Did the Soviets confiscated the designers too? No. That can be a reason for delays, but cannot be a reason for calling it off.
Check again the components list.


Be serious, the Soviets would have forbidden any further developments. Remember that the Soviets ordered even the 1st Armoured Division to be disbanded.


I've accused the Soviets of many things, but I cannot accuse them of forbidding development of any kind. Why forbid something from which you can benefit for free? Later, they even payed for military research made in Eastern European countries.
I'm sorry Dragos, the Soviets are no excuse here.

dragos wrote:
Huck wrote:T-34-76 had a 4 man crew with a 2 man turret. This configuration was considered inferior and subsequently abandoned. The commander has to look for its threats and targets, the gunner has to concentrate on aiming, giving them other tasks only decreases the overall effectiveness of the vehicle.


I didn't say it was a perfect or superior combination, only a feasible combination. You said that "The problem was that it could not move and look for threats and targets at the same time, because the driver was busy driving the thing." and I said that "The loader/machine gunner could do this job". I didn't refer to other armoured vehicle.


Yes, it was a possible configuration, but an inferior one. This was the point.

dragos wrote:
Huck wrote:The advantage of Christie suspension is the high speed on the road, its disadvantage is the poor off road capabilities (this is why it was completely abandoned). What is remarcable is that PzKpfw III was faster than T-34 on the road, off road there was no competition between the two anyway


I still do not understand what you want to say. That PzIII was performing better off-road than T-34? Where does it say that?


Of course that PzKpfw III performed better off road, especially on rough terrain. The report does not say it simply because it is implicit. Everybody knows that torsion bar suspension gives superior off road performance compared with any other type of suspension, including Christie. While Christie was abandoned completely in postwar years, though it was quite widespread during the war, torsion bar suspension replaced basically everything else. All modern MBT have torsion bar suspension.

The reason why torsion bar suspension is superior to Christie should be clear to you, but I'll repeat it anyway. The circular travel of the torsion bar allows much larger travel that the one given by the springs of the Christie suspension. To replicate the travel of the torsion bar suspension using a Christie suspension would make the vehicle ridiculously tall, heavy and cramped inside.

Christie suspension had the advantage of being cheap to produce and easy to mantain with poorly qualified personnel. In plus, it gave superior speed on the road. But the off road performance was marginal. Now, it is often quoted that T-34 had good off road performance because of its wide tracks. Indeed the wide tracks are one of the reasons why T-34 had excellent MMP, and consequently good performance in soft terrain, but it wasn't much better than of PzKpfw III. Actually, T-34-74 had better MMP than PzKpfw III, but T-34-85 had worse MMP than PzKpfw IV. German and Russian mediums were close from this point of view (performance in soft terrain). But in rough terrain, there was no competion, German mediums easily outperformed T-34.

Russians also had plans to convert mediums to torsion bar suspension (Russian heavies already used torsion bar suspension), but for various reasons did not manage to do it. T-43 was basically a T-34 with torsion bar suspension. The two tanks were tested on a 3000km trial across Russia, and obviously T-43 proved to have superior mobility.

I quoted the Russian test between T-34 and PzKpfw III, because it shows that PzKpfw III was faster than T-34 even on the road (speed on the road is not one the strong points for the torsion bar suspension). It also shows that the often quoted max speed of 40km/h for PzKpfw III is more of a self imposed speed limit than the real max speed of the vehicle.

dragos wrote:
Huck wrote:The fact remains, T-34 was ordered out of production after PzKpfw III proved to have much better mobility.


Off-topic, but if that order would have been carried out it would have been very stupid. In overall T-34 was a superior concept to Pz III, even if there was room for improvements.


T-34 was not a superior concept, just a more powerful tank than PzKpfw III. From this point of view, T-34 was an inferior concept compared to PzKpfw IV - a much smaller tank but having the same capabilities (if not superior).

User avatar
dragos
Member
Posts: 531
Joined: 02 Mar 2004 20:22
Location: Romania

Post by dragos » 22 Feb 2005 08:40

Huck wrote:'ve accused the Soviets of many things, but I cannot accuse them of forbidding development of any kind. Why forbid something from which you can benefit for free? Later, they even payed for military research made in Eastern European countries.
I'm sorry Dragos, the Soviets are no excuse here.


Then you have no knowledge of the moments following 23 August 1944 or the terms of armistice imposed by the Soviets. They seized the existing equipment, how do you believe they would allow building new tanks? And we are talking here about the 1944 moment, not about the cold war period. The project of Maresal made sense in that time frame only, so please don't twist the circumstances to prove whatever suits you.

Huck wrote:Of course that PzKpfw III performed better off road, especially on rough terrain. The report does not say it simply because it is implicit.


I, for one, will restrain for consider it as implicit until I read some documented work.

Huck wrote:T-34 was not a superior concept, just a more powerful tank than PzKpfw III. From this point of view, T-34 was an inferior concept compared to PzKpfw IV - a much smaller tank but having the same capabilities (if not superior).


I do not want to debate here which one is better, since it is off-topic and there were a lot others discussions of this kind in this forum, with more or less reasonable arguments. However, many are not yet capable of giving credit to the Soviets for their role in the history of tank development.

dragos03
Member
Posts: 422
Joined: 24 Jan 2004 20:29
Location: Bucuresti

Post by dragos03 » 15 Mar 2005 18:53

I found a very interesting document at the archives of the Romanian Army General staff in Bucharest. The document is a report written by colonel R. Davidescu who accompanied 2 German tank experts (Ventz and Naymann) who came to see the prototype of the Maresal in January 1944.
The Germans were very impressed by the vehicle. All the aspects of the Maresal were tested and here are the conclusion of the Germans:
1. Weight. Maresal was considered to have a very good power to weight ratio and very good speed.
2. Armour. The Germans considered that the armour was enough to protect the crew against small arms and Soviet anti-tank rifles. They advised not to increase the armor because the best defence for a vehicle is speed and Maresal had a good speed. They were impressed by the original turtle-shape, low profile and easy to produce.
3. Gun. The Resita gun was considered good enough against any Soviet tank.
4. Ammo on board. Maresal carried less ammo than the Stug's but it was considered enough because the Resita gun had excellent balistic qualities, allowing it to fire more accurately.
5. Engine. Good.
6. Crew. It seems that Maresal had an original driving system allowing the driver to steer the vehicle with his feet and aim the gun with his hands, at the same time. The Germans were very intrigued by this system, requested several tests on the field and even drived the Maresal themselves. The verdict was that this system was effective and allowed the Maresal to have a only 2-man crew. Ventz said: "It is incredible that you found a way to reduce the crew, we failed to find such a solution all those years."
7. Off-road performance. The Germans thought that the distance to the ground is too low and requested several tests in muddy terrain but the Maresal performed well.
Before leaving, the 2 officers said that Maresal is a very good AFV and they learned a lot from it. Ventz said that after Romania will have 1000 Maresals the Romanian army will be much more effective, and the Maresal will prove to be "ein grosser Hetzer" for the Russians.

User avatar
dragos
Member
Posts: 531
Joined: 02 Mar 2004 20:22
Location: Romania

Post by dragos » 15 Mar 2005 21:06

Very interesting information. Do you have by chance photocopies of the document?

dragos03
Member
Posts: 422
Joined: 24 Jan 2004 20:29
Location: Bucuresti

Post by dragos03 » 15 Mar 2005 21:19

I have a xerox copy at home but the document is large (around 20 pages). I can give you a copy if you want.

Another interesting thing i found out from this document is that there was another version of the Maresal, designed as a SP-artillery armed with a 122mm or 150mm howitzer.

User avatar
dragos
Member
Posts: 531
Joined: 02 Mar 2004 20:22
Location: Romania

Post by dragos » 15 Mar 2005 21:22

More from "Modelism" 4(67)/1999

"At the end of 1943, the chief of project team, major Nicolae Anghel, and the board directors of Rogifer factory, were sent to Germany for short specializations, to familiarize with the AFV production lines and the latest achievements in the field. The conclusion of the reports was that their prototype was viable and at the actual stage, they were more advanced in concept than the Germans.
...
In May 1944, lt-col Ventz, the delegate of Waffen Amt, declared that Hetzer followed some of the solutions of the Romanian project."

User avatar
dragos
Member
Posts: 531
Joined: 02 Mar 2004 20:22
Location: Romania

Post by dragos » 15 Mar 2005 21:25

dragos03 wrote:Another interesting thing i found out from this document is that there was another version of the Maresal, designed as a SP-artillery armed with a 122mm or 150mm howitzer.


I think they are the prototypes M-00 to M-03, armed with Soviet 121.9mm Putilov M1904/30 howitzer.

dragos03 wrote:I have a xerox copy at home but the document is large (around 20 pages). I can give you a copy if you want.


Sure I want. :)

dragos03
Member
Posts: 422
Joined: 24 Jan 2004 20:29
Location: Bucuresti

Post by dragos03 » 15 Mar 2005 21:42

I thought that the first prototypes were supposed to be tank destroyers, the 122mm gun had hollow-charge ammo for anti-tank use.
I think the SP-artillery Maresal is a different design, the document presents it as being larger and with a 4-man crew.
The German officers considered the tank destroyer version as being a much more useful vehicle and adviced that all production capabilities should be used to build it.

User avatar
dragos
Member
Posts: 531
Joined: 02 Mar 2004 20:22
Location: Romania

Post by dragos » 15 Mar 2005 21:51

The ammunition for the 122mm gun was a special cumulative Hohllandung shell.

However, the different SP-artillery version of Maresal you are speaking of, if existed, was only on paper.

dragos03
Member
Posts: 422
Joined: 24 Jan 2004 20:29
Location: Bucuresti

Post by dragos03 » 31 Oct 2005 23:27

Another interesting detail about the German's opinion about Maresal (from M. Axworthy's "Third Axis, Fourth Ally"): col. Ventz was impressed by the Maresal's original design from the start. He asked the designers if they ever designed armoured vehicles before. After receiving a negative reply, Ventz said that this must be the reason for the novelty of the solution.

User avatar
dragos
Member
Posts: 531
Joined: 02 Mar 2004 20:22
Location: Romania

Post by dragos » 26 Dec 2005 18:20

Image

The "M 05 Maresal Tank Destroyer" self propelled gun, during a driving test in the "Rogifer" Plant courtyard. Starting from the T 60 Soviet tank chassis, Romanian military and civilian engineers designed a new AFV, with different size and technical performance. It was equiped with the M. 1943, 75 mm. calibre, "Resita" antitank gun. On 23rd of August, 1944, the "0 series" production was in progress. The Germans have copied the model and in 1944 have produced the "Hetzer" tank destroyer self propelled gun at "C.K.D." plants. Bucharest, 1944. (Cristian Craciunoiu collection)

Cornel I. Scafes, Horia Vl. Serbanescu, Ioan I. Scafes, "Trupele blindate din Armata Romana 1919-1947", Muzeul Militar National, Bucharest, 2005.

User avatar
dragos
Member
Posts: 531
Joined: 02 Mar 2004 20:22
Location: Romania

Post by dragos » 13 Apr 2006 18:04

Here is the official report regarding the conclusions of the two German specialists that studied "Maresal" tank destroyer.


MILITARY CABINET of STATE LEADER
Nr.201.005

TOP SECRET

??.4.1944


GENERAL STAFF
- Cabinet -


I have the honor to bring to your attention that the two German specialists, Lieutenant-Colonel Ventz and Naymann, who came to study the tank destroyer and the self-propelled howitzer, built by the Military Cabinet at Malaxa Workshops, made the following assertions:

1. Considerations on the tank destroyer.

Lt.-Col. Ventz from the Waffen-Amt, the architect of the improvisation “Hornisse” (88mm anti-tank gun mounted on the Mark III tank on top of the chassis, in the place of turret) and a modern tank destroyer, based on “Panther”, presently in construction, declared that his report regarding the “Maresal” tank destroyer will be positive. As a first consequence, he will propose to Berlin that in 8-10 days a construction engineer to be dispatched, in order to assist us in perfecting the details.
Lt.-Col. Haymann, from the OKH, affirmed his belief that the Romanian Army, when it will have one thousand of such tank destroyers at disposition, will have a considerably greater combat strength. In his opinion, “Maresal” tank destroyer, mobile, with great operating range and armed with a powerful anti-tank gun, will be “ein grosser Hetzer” (a troubling enemy) for the Russians. He also added: General Guderian wishes to have units of tank destroyers, to be able to throw them wherever the enemy launches an armored attack; once this attack being weakened, these units reorganized in the rear, being ready to intervene in another threatened area. The presented tank destroyer, light, fast, with reduced fuel consumption and great range, has the qualities needed for such a role.
The opinion of Lt.-Col. Haymann is that the mobility characteristics of “Maresal” tank destroyer should be kept, and the temptation of increasing the armor protection should be resisted.
As relative value, both specialists - after examining also the two improvisations of tank destroyers, based on: the ex-Russian light tank T.60 and the R.2 tank, armed with Russian 76.2 anti-tank gun - have classified the various anti-tank motorized weapons in the following manner:
1) Tank destroyer special built for this role,
2) Sturmgeschutz armed with anti-tank gun,
3) Tank armed with anti-tank gun,
4) Tank destroyer improvised by mounting an anti-tank gun on the chassis of a tank, in the place of turret,
5) Towed anti-tank gun.
Referring to the two tank destroyers improvised from the T.60 and R.2 tanks, Lt.-Col. Ventz said: “50% is better than nothing”. Lt.-Col. Haymann: “in spite the solution being an improvisation, it is better than the towed anti-tank gun”.
Lt.-Col. Haymann, when asked on the ratio of engines that should be used for the tank destroyer and the auxiliary vehicles (command, supply, security vehicles) he said firmly: given the evolution of the Russian tanks, none of the ordered Hotchkiss engines should be used for anything else than tank destroyers. As command vehicles, Horch, Stoewer and other all-terrain vehicles can be employed, while for supply 3-ton trucks are adequate, by replacing the rear axles with a simple track, a model that can be delivered and adapted for any model of truck.
As factory priority, both agreed that the building of the tank destroyer should be top of the list, being a solution superior to any other anti-tank systems.
In detail, the observations of the German specialists were the following:

a) Weight.
Given the power of the engine (15-16 hp/ton), the mobility was found very advantageous.
Even if Lt.-Col. Ventz said that the armor of a light tank destroyer must offer protection only against Russian anti-tank guns, and any increase in armor is inutile, if the armor plates is not 80-100 mm thick, therefor prohibitive weight, he would favor a slightly thicker armor for our tank destroyer, this being certainly the requests of the crews after the first engagements.
Lt.-Col. Haymann did not agree with thicker armor, because it would result in a heavier vehicle, therefor a reduced mobility, its essential feature.

b) Protection.
A tank destroyer can often be found in the enemy lines, either amid infantry supported by anti-tank guns, or tanks armed both with anti-tank guns and machineguns. Ideally, the tank destroyer should be able to withstand this fire from every direction. The German heavy tank destroyer resists the Russian 76.2 anti-tank gun from the distance, even up to 100 m, but it’s weight is 47 t and becomes a moving plant; for a light tank destroyer protection against bullets, shrapnel and anti-tank rifles is sufficient.
The conclusion is that while the heavy tank destroyer has unlimited use, in principle the light one should not overpass the lines of friendly infantry or armor.
In combat the tank destroyer exposes its front, this must be better armored. The German heavy tank destroyer the frontal armor plate is 80 mm thick and an inclination of 35; “Maresal” tank destroyer has a 20 mm thick frontal armor plate at a more favorable inclination of 25.
Lt.-Col. Ventz proposed that its thickness to be increased to 30 mm, which will be attempted after evaluating the effect of fire of the Russian 45 mm anti-tank gun that will took place at Suditi trial grounds.
The thickness of the side armor plates must be about 1/3 of the front plate. The Germans have a tank destroyer with 50 mm in front, while only 15 mm on the sides. We were advised to keep the actual thickness of … mm for the side armor plates.
The shape of the hull was found to be very simple and very successful. Lt.-Col. Haymann compared it with the shape of a turtle, low profile, hardly detectable from the distance and easy to build.

c) Armament
The 75-mm D.T.U.D.R. anti-tank gun is considered powerful enough, even against the T-34 tank.
The following observations on its setting were made:
- The horizontal field of fire of 15 degrees is very good; the German heavy tank destroyer has a horizontal field of fire of 30 degrees, but given the ease of turning “Maresal” in direction, the 15 degrees are considered as very sufficient; it could be even reduced if required by other needs;
- The vertical field of fire was considered sufficient: +10 and -5; the German tank destroyer has -8 because of its notably higher ground clearance;
- The clearance should be increased in order to avoid hitting the ground with the barrel while crossing trenches and …. . This will be accomplished by raising the frame with 18 cm (suspension raised with 10 cm and the side traverses inside the chassis lowered with 8 cm)
- Retreating the gun inside the hull with 20-30 cm, as suggested by Lt.-Col. Ventz, is not possible because of the loader position, only mounting a special anti-tank gun like the Germans did could achieve this request.
- Placing the gun on a special mount was found good; we were advised to research the possibility of placing a cardanic suspension, between the armor plate and the floor of the chassis (we will receive blueprints). This idea can be conveniently used to place a light machinegun in the armor plate, near the gun;
- Taking out the gun for repairing only after lifting the armor plates was found as unpractical. But as the repairing take place only at mobile workshops, lifting a hull of 1.5 tons is not a problem for these workshops. To make possible taking out the gun through the hull would mean weakening the hull or complicating the design.
- The exhaust of the gasses resulted from the firing is made by the Germans with the help of a special ventilator. If the exhaust produced by the Hotchkiss engine’s ventilator would not prove sufficient, we will mount an electric ventilator.

d) Ammunition
The German improvised tank destroyers, which are armed with 75-mm guns, carries up to 70 rounds. “Maresal” tank destroyer will carry 45 rounds.
The speed and low profile of our vehicle, as well as the higher muzzle velocity of our shell, allows firing at closer range and with greater accuracy, therefor a lower ammunition consumption.

e) Engine and transmission, were found as very good. The transmission fared very well at the trial consisting of starting up on a slope of about 30.

f) Manning the tank destroyer
In order to allow a better aiming of the tank destroyer, the steering implemented for “Maresal” is contrary to the one of the actual tanks: the direction is changed by braking the two tracks with the legs (not with the hands). This system allows changing the direction of the vehicle even when the gunner (which is also driver) has the two hands busy with the handles for elevation and traverse (when stopping, the driver switches to first gear and declutches - braking with both legs; any lifting of one of the legs causes the rotation of the vehicle in the opposite direction).
The system was found ingenious by the two German specialists and it was examined with a lot of attention and thoroughly. Lt.-Col. Haymann entered the tank in order to see it running and asked driving on a straight line across a paved road to see the sensitivity of the vehicles at braking the tracks with the legs.
The second innovation, the combination of declutch with the acceleration, was the object of a same careful examination.

g) Crew
“Maresal” tank destroyer has a crew of two men only: a driver-gunner and radio operator-loader. The basic idea was: the driver does not fire while driving and he does not drive while firing (except when changing the vehicle’s orientation, which is accomplished only by using the legs, in case of a moving target).
Lt.-Col. Ventz declared that a German constructor presented a fairly similar project of combining the roles of crew, but it was rejected. He provided the combination of gunner and loader functions, though.
No criticism was brought to this innovation. Even more, Lt.-Col. Ventz asked: how did you manage to find a solution to the problem of combining roles for reducing the crew, an issue we are also researching?
Both specialists pointed that for the role of driver-gunner should be used battery commanders, section commanders and NCOs. The two crew members should have enough room for conducting their combined tasks in good order, more than the cramped space of the actual tanks, where everybody has a separate function.
“Maresal” tank destroyer complies with this requirement.

h) Suspension and tracks
There is nothing to remark for the suspension. For the track, even having a ground pressure quotient of 0.6, and at the German tanks it goes up to 0.9 and even 1, we were recommended to widen it.
For this purpose we will try to use the track of a 38 T tank brought from Crimea.
As the ground clearance was found to be too small (30 cm) we were advised to raise it to 40 cm. In order to prove us that the actual clearance is too small, Lt.-Col. Ventz asked to make three full turns in place, operation that was supposed to mire the vehicle, due to the earth gathered underneath it. Even if the ground was soft, the tank destroyer turned three times in one direction and three times in the other, and then left, leaving behind deep ditches and a pile of turned up soil. The track of the Russian tank T.60 proved to be very good: it does not gather earth and it does not produce detracking by sticking sideways into the ground at turns.
We were recommended to reconsider the distance between the track and its guard, where earth could pile up.
After driving in soft, moist and partially snowy ground, as well as in an autumn plowed field, all done with ease, Lt.-Col. Haymann declared: such a small and mobile vehicle (ein solches kleiness Ding so beweglich) I have never seen before.

i) Organization in units
The two specialists provided the following organization:
The tank destroyers are to be organized in independent groups (battalions) at the disposition of higher HQ.
The commander drives behind in an all-terrain vehicle equipped with a radio on 2-3 channels: one for the HQ, another one for the companies, and - if possible - a third one for the tank destroyers.
Beside him a small command group, in all-terrain vehicles.
The battalion is to be organized on 3 companies, the company on 3 sections, each section with 3 tank destroyers.
Company commanders and section commanders have their own tank destroyers. The tank destroyers of company commanders should have one more radio operator (if possible) for communication with the battalion, by reducing the ammunition on board.
For the fighting trains, all-terrain trucks are to be used.
The battalion has a regimental train, which could be split among companies if needed.

j) Conclusions
The true opinion of the 2 specialists on “Maresal” tank destroyer is not known. By some estimation we could deduce their valuation of our achievement. In our discussions, Lt.-Col. Ventz, speaking about the ingenuity of Romanians, regretted that the German mentality, by means of keeping secret their achievements, prevents collaborations that could be useful to the German industry itself.
The interest that was shown by the 2 specialists for the tank destroyer was constantly vivid. Especially the innovations were carefully examined and they repeatedly requested explanations on their origin and development (inverted steering, clutch combined with acceleration, combined roles of the crew, ammunition storage, placement of the gun on the lower part of the hull).
The impression of specialists was that the 2 German officers had more lessons to take than to give, judging by their questions and remarks. This can be concluded also from the comparison with the most recent German tank destroyer, armed with 88-mm anti-tank gun, therefor superior with one class over our 75-mm D.T.U.D.R. anti-tank gun, and which has ... tons, over the 7.5 tons of our tank destroyer.
Questioned about an industrial collaboration for fulfilling the needs of the German and Romanian armies, for mass production of the “Maresal” tank destroyer, the German specialists replied that they are not empowered for such arrangements.
Nevertheless, at our request they promised we would receive official answers, through the constructor that will come, to some of the technical questions. By amiability, Lt.-Col. Ventz confessed that Waffen-Amt would not consent to answer all of our questions, but by their willingness to help and in return for the attention they were welcomed, the German officers promised they would offer verbal and confidential answers to the rest of our questions, through our military attaché.
Both specialists intervened by Colonel Assmann, from the German military mission, and Colonel Busch, from the German economic mission, to offer full support for building the tank destroyer, by deliveries of raw materials and German products. For the components that are made in Germany only, such us the rubber coated ratchets for the suspension, we received no formal promise. We are to receive the answer via Colonel Busch on the possibilities of delivery. For training the armor welders we are offered a course of 8 days with the latest technique of the German industry.
It is still to find out what these 2 specialists reported to General Hansen, whom they saw before their departure, in a 15 minutes audience. He will be questioned with the occasion of his visit at the Malaxa factories, this week.



2. The self-propelled howitzer.

The documentation for the self-propelled howitzer (annexed) presented to the 2 German specialists was found judiciously prepared.
The German Army has such self-propelled howitzers of 150 mm caliber (old model) mounted on the chassis of the Czech tank C.K.D.-38 T. Presently they are still employed in Italy, as tracked artillery (Sebsfahrlafett) organized in independent groups (battalions), at the disposition of HQ. The solution answers to the need for motorization of the artillery by mounting the cannons on self-propelled chassis, solution that is superior to the old procedure of towing the cannons.
The low ground clearance of our self-propelled howitzer was found advantageous; the Russian 122-mm howitzer was considered adequate: its relative short range does not constitute an inconvenient, since the assault artillery is required to execute direct fire, so at short distances.
The ensemble is conceived in such way that this howitzer can be used both for the static defense of a front and for the preparation of an attack against a defiladed position. The maximum gun elevation angle of 23 degrees allows a range of about 6500 meters, and the panoramic sight allows indirect fire.
Loading the heavy shells, with separate propellant charge, justifies the increasing in crew from 2 to 3 or even 4, being plenty of room.
The separation of the roles of gunner and driver was also found justified, given the great importance of the gunner, which has to deal with hardly detectable objectives: camouflaged casemates, improvised automatic weapons emplacements on the ground etc (unlike the tank destroyer, whose objectives have tall profile and are easy to spot).
We were recommended to provide the self-propelled howitzer with a (large?) number of rounds, because the tonnage does not play any role: the movement of the self-propelled howitzer does demand neither swiftness nor crossing heavy obstacles that cannot be taken sideways. The storage of ammunition on the top side of the engine being inevitable, a good thermal isolation is required in order not to affect the temperature of the propellant charges, and therefor the range of the shells.
The employment of self-propelled howitzers, said the specialists, must be well known by the troops, that are to receive their support. The howitzer must have HE shells for its usual missions. But as any cannon, it must have a small percent of Hohlladung shells for protection against tanks (these shells are to be fired at ranges up to the muzzle velocity of the shell, which is 400 m).
Therefor, when dealing with tanks, the self-propelled howitzer should act defensively and it should search for cover or concealment, in order not to be spotted before the enemy tank enters its effective range.
It is a mistake to have these pieces, in case of an enemy tank attack, “forward” (Panzer vor), by employing them in this manner, pushed offensively in the tank battle, they would be easily destroyed because of their insufficient protection (15 mm) and their characteristic visible profile. This mistake is common in the German Army and they are trying hard to repair it.
The opinion of the German specialists is that the 122 and 150-mm howitzers should not be mounted on the chassis equipped with Hotchkiss engine until the needs for tank destroyers would be fulfilled.
Since this year there are chances to have the 1000 engines which have been ordered, but 500 anti-tank guns only, it will be decided during production which purpose will serve the available chassis. They receive:
- other type of anti-tank gun, German for example;
- the 75-mm Vickers AA gun, fitted as anti-tank gun;
- 122 or 150 mm howitzers.

3. Various information.

a) Russian armor.
The 2 German officers declare that both in technical quality and in quantity, the Russian armor is superior.
The Russian T.34 tank cannot be matched by the German industry because of its light engine, of aircraft type, built of light metals. Germany does not posses such metals therefor she cannot build light yet powerful engines.
The German tanks are trying to counter this inferiority by employing a more powerful gun, improved interior installations and a better trained, conscious and disciplined crew.
Regarding the value of the Russian 76.2 gun that arms the T.34 tank, the German officers admit that, having a shorter barrel and no muzzle break, its power is inferior to the 75 mm German gun. But it has the advantage to fire the same shell as the field cannon or as the anti-aircraft gun, an advantage of capital importance in this war. The unification made by the Russians in the armament, engineering, aviation, is of an unimagined utility besides the diversity of models that the German army fights with.
Considering this, Lt.-Col. Ventz expressed his concern that our anti-tank gun wouldn’t be able to accept German ammunition.
The Russians produce only the T.34 tank. The K.W.1 and K.W.2 stopped being produced. The Russian prisoners talked about 100 tons tanks, but they weren’t seen and their tonnage seem to limit their utility.
Regarding the production capacity of T.34 tanks, no figure can be given. It is known only that the Russian specialists, arrived in Germany in 1940 to receive the plans for the German tanks M.III and M.IV (in accordance with the agreement from august 1939) have asked to be shown the factories, not only the experimental workshops (which were in fact minuscule compared to the Russian ones).
The Russian self-propelled howitzer, put together by placing a 122-mm howitzer upon the T.34 tank chassis, is little valuable: too tall, few ammunition and rudimentary installation.
On the other hand, a recent Russian assault gun is successful and dangerous.

b) German armor.
The latest modified M.IV tanks, Tiger and Panther, are superior to the Russian tanks, according to the German specialists, as a sum of their qualities.
Among the German armored units it is noticed a preference for the assault gun (Sturmgeschutz), more than for the tank. The assault gun, having no turret, carries a gun of a caliber superior to the one of the tank of equal tonnage, offers a smaller profile and has fewer chances to be hit.
The tank finds its typical utility only in the big armored units called to penetrate deep in the battlefield and fight in unexpected situations. In all the other cases, the assault gun, which resembles a bit with “Maresal” tank destroyer although it has a weaker armor, has a much large utility.

c) Anti-tank ammunition.
The unit reports from the German front shows that the Hohlladung shell loses its importance. The troop prefers the armor piercing shell that gives a more reliable effect. The divisional artillery has and uses the Hohlladung shell to protect itself when attacked by tanks at short range.

d) The progress of war.
Germany makes great efforts into the armor, new weapons (about which we have no knowledge) and aircraft areas.
Although air raids hit some of the factories, the reconstruction began the very next day.
Yet we can expect neither these weapons nor those assembled on the coast of the Channel to be decisive.
It is only believed that the Russians won’t be able to continue the attrition war forever and that Germany will be able to defeat them only after the Russian’s shortages and straggling weaken the strength of its army.
Lt.-Col. Ventz, without showing any concern for the German army potential, believes that if it hadn’t been so many German units scattered across Europe, the Russians could have been defeated in 4-5 months.
Lt.-Col. Haymann, although thoughtful when told about the progress of war, says that, with the help of new weapons, the new light and heavy German bombers and with the reprisals upon England, the chances for Germany to win the war increase.


CHIEF OF MILITARY CABINET
Colonel R. Davidescu
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Return to “The Ron Klages Panzer & other vehicles Section”