tank losses

The Allies 1939-1945, and those fighting against Germany.

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joefraser
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tank losses

Post by joefraser » Sun Oct 22, 2006 3:35 pm

hi,
having just read " armour battles of the waffen ss" whilst on holiday I just wondered what did you have to do to claim a tank kill? The reason I ask is that in the various accounts in this book tanks with minor damage were towed out and repaired.
So what was the category for claiming a tank kill, did you have to blow it apart or what? Does anyone know?
Thanks in advance

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Post by TPMM » Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:57 pm

Tank kill is difficult to confirm. For example, during the battle for Warsaw (which took place near eastern subrubs of it) Red Army claimed to had destroyed 273 German tanks, and Germans claimed 253 kills. In fact total losses (totalausfallen) were: 116 Russian tanks and 37 german. Kill was reported after seeing a hit. But in this case Russian propaganda took it's place in enlarging kills amount.
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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:39 pm

Tank losses are more BS than aircraft losses, if possible. Many "destroyed tanks" were resurrected by both sides, since anything that wasn't totally burned out (heat destroys the integrity of armor) can be repaired, if you have the time, the desire and the parts! Missing a turret? Put a new one on if the chasis still works. Penetration to hull, slap a metal patch on it as long as the interior damage was fixable! Too many body parts and brain matter splattered inside the tank ? Clean the sucker out, patch it and put a new crew into it!

All armies in WWII did the same things, as long as they retained possession of the tank and as long as it wasn't burned out.

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Post by phylo_roadking » Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:11 pm

And then - you have different nationalities counting differnt classes of target as kills or not. A lot of Michael Wittman's tank "kills" were actually AT guns, especially in his StuG days.
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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:22 pm

I like to remember that Wittman, like Carius, counted his anti-tank gun kills as more difficult than his tank kills....go figure....!

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Post by Tom Houlihan » Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:40 pm

Smaller targets! Easier to hide!
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Post by redcoat » Sat Oct 28, 2006 10:29 am

Commissar D, the Evil wrote:All armies in WWII did the same things, as long as they retained possession of the tank and as long as it wasn't burned out.

Best,
~D, the EviL
indeed.
However until recently there had been the rather odd practice of using the number of tanks damaged and not available for use the next day, as the figure for the amount of tanks lost by the Western allies in a particular battle. While the German loses were based on the number of vehicles which were permanently lost, or had to be sent back to Germany for total repair.
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Post by Commissar D, the Evil » Sat Oct 28, 2006 7:47 pm

Well, last time I looked, the Germans recorded tanks as 1. available, 2. in short term repair, 3. in long term repair and 4. as total losses.

Categorys 2,3, and 4 could have figured into someone's "Tank Loss" statistics. I suspect the Allies had a similar system.

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Post by Rich » Mon Oct 30, 2006 7:41 am

Commissar D, the Evil wrote:Well, last time I looked, the Germans recorded tanks as 1. available, 2. in short term repair, 3. in long term repair and 4. as total losses.

Categorys 2,3, and 4 could have figured into someone's "Tank Loss" statistics. I suspect the Allies had a similar system.

Best,
~D, the EviL
But unfortunately the only figures that are usually readily available are those operational and less frequently those in short-term repair. In many cases those in long-term repair were only recorded in the monthly Meldungen. The 10. A.O.K. Panzerlage, which were prepared roughly every three days did record all four categories - eventually, and HG-B in their Tagesmeldungen usually only recorded the first two categories. The divisions did complete individual records for each total non-recoverable loss suffered, but it is rare to discover those records still preserved (the only complete set I have run across is for Das Reich at Kursk). Typically those write-off reports were coallated and recorded for an entire theater by the Oberquartermeister des Heeres and that is the record that still exists (partially at least).

As for the Western Allies they utilized a similar system. The first category were for operational vehicles or those operational within 6 hours, those nonoperational but repairable within 24 hours, and then a final category of those nonoperational and not repairable withing 24 hours, including those lost or damaged due to combat.

Which meant the last category was not destroyed as so many have assumed since. In fact in the US Army most tanks in the third category were evacuated to a higher echelon Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company (Tank) where the final assessment of whether it was a write-off or was repairable was made. That is why US armor losses can only be accurately given at the army-level, since that is where the assessement was made. The British system was very similar and is complicated by the fact that records keeping and records organization on this subject in 21 Army Group and 2 British Army were simply abysmal.

So fundamentally we can match operational to operational and short-term to short-term (although the definition of the term is considerably different) at the unit level, but write-offs only at the theater level, with a few minor exceptions.

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Post by Rodger Herbst » Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:16 am

Anybody read "Death Traps" by B.Y. Cooper? A good book on repairing battle damage on the Shermans.

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Re: tank losses

Post by Gerry Chester » Sat Jan 13, 2007 10:41 pm

Hi Joe,

As far as the British Army was concerned, a 'kill' was not credited unless the enemy vehicle was proven to be past repair. Similarly, a British tank was not deemed to have been 'killed'. Here is the 8th Army Tank States, Italy, including those of the North Irish Horse in which I served:
http://www.northirishhorse.org/nih/Docu ... Index.html

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Post by Carl Schwamberger » Sun Jan 14, 2007 7:23 am

"Anybody read "Death Traps" by B.Y. Cooper? A good book on repairing battle damage on the Shermans."

Yes. One of the interesting things I noted was that Beltons maintinace unit had its HQ staff organized along the same line as a tactical combat unit. Belton filled the role of the S2, or reconissance officer, with his intellegence object of locating the damaged tanks. His daily reports went to the unit operations officer (S3) & commander the same as it would from the scouts & S2 section of a US tank or infantry battalion. US Army engineer, artillery, antitank, ect... units all had their HQ staffs drawn from the same template.

Organizing the HQ staffs the same way reflected the US Armys 'industrial' approach to organization & internal operations.

Beltons text lacks the same perspective on German tank losses as on the US tanks. Since he did not inspect the destroyed German tanks as thuroughly or compile detailed statistics daily for ten months it is not a good idea to accept his veiw of US tanks losses as near catastophic.

His observation of the replacements sent into combat with insuffcient training is probablly on solid ground. I've run across many other credible observation on the same for the US Army in Europe in 1944-45.

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Post by Reb » Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:36 pm

Carl

I didn't find Belton's casualty lists for tanks lost all that out of bounds - he spoke of Third Armd Div (which IIRC had the most losses of any US Armd Div) and they were certainly high.

And certainly higher than they needed to be had we chosen to go with a bigger badder tank earlier.

His perspective is not however, strategic. Strategicallly our policy of shipping Shermans by the gazillion worked. Tactically it could be somewhat of an inssue for the guys in the tanks. But the Germans were getting slaughtered too and after Normandy no panzer div on the west front (or East for that matter) every got quite up to strength again. Their average tank states were nowhere near as high as US or Brit.

Allied tank battalions tended to be requipped pretty rapidly.

An unfortunate consequence of German superiority in armour protection became a liability when the retreat began - they lost as many or more from self destruction or abandonment as they did in combat. Those big tanks break down under those conditions its Adios Mr. Tank.

It all worked out in the end. But our lack of heavy tanks and oft repeated failure to concentrate made things harder for the troops. I'd rather serve as a duck in a shooting gallery than as an Allied soldier in West. Europe in '44. Tank or infantry either one was a ticket to the morgue or the hospital.

cheers
Reb

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Post by Rich » Wed Jan 17, 2007 9:28 pm

Reb wrote:Carl

I didn't find Belton's casualty lists for tanks lost all that out of bounds - he spoke of Third Armd Div (which IIRC had the most losses of any US Armd Div) and they were certainly high.
The "list" isn't Belton's, it was compiled circa June 1945 by the theater historian via a questionnaire that was circulated to the various armored units. It may be found in NARA RG331, HQ 12th Army Group, Special Staff Armored section, 526th Armored infantry Battalion to 20th Armored Division, Box 2. Every unit was reported except for the 2nd and 4th AD.

3rd AD - 1 T26, 173 Lt, 632 Med
5th AD - 19 Lt, 75 Med 75mm, 5 Med 76mm, 1 Med 105mm
6th AD - 24 Lt, 196 Med
7th AD - 130 Lt, 360 Med
8th AD - 21 Lt, 58 Med
9th AD - 50 Lt (incl 7 M24), 162 Med
10th AD - 31 Lt, 181 Med
11th AD - 37 Lt, 72 Med
12th AD - 30 Lt, 129 Med
13th AD - 8 Lt, 27 Med
14th AD - 35 Lt, 101 Med
16th AD - 0
20th AD - 2 Lt, 17 Med

I can give you the separate tank battalions too if you like.
And certainly higher than they needed to be had we chosen to go with a bigger badder tank earlier.
Was that via the "presto chango" method? :roll: And what was low enough to be okay?
It all worked out in the end. But our lack of heavy tanks and oft repeated failure to concentrate made things harder for the troops.
Er, well, yes. But if we had heavy tanks would there have been enough and could we have gotten them where they were needed. And worse, given the capabilities of the German weapons systems, what was the break even point?

Oh, BTW, I think you might be hard pressed to find a greater concentration than what was acheived in Normandy. Of course concentration only works when your logistical situation allows you to employ them.

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Post by Reb » Thu Jan 18, 2007 7:05 am

Rich

you're mistaking me for someone who wants to argue about the Sherman. I do however point out that if Cooper is accurate in what he says about Patton and others turning down the Pershing back when there was still time to produce a bunch of them that it would have made a significant difference in the day to day life of an American tanker.

I won't waste a lot of time discussing concentration because Russell Weigly has already done it for me in Eisenhower's Lts.

But consider this - an average Brit div went in supported by a tank BRIGADE of close to 250 tanks. Ours went in with a tank BATTALION of roughly 55 mediums. (and usually a TD Bn as well). This meant we could rarely get overwhelming force at a point of contact.

Our light armd div org was a failure as well IMHO and in the opinion of the army who did away with it shortly after the war. Just not enough hitting power which meant 2nd and 3rd armd had to do a lot of heavy lifting.

cheers
Reb

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