tank losses

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

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Rich
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Post by Rich » Thu Jan 18, 2007 10:40 am

Reb wrote:Rich

you're mistaking me for someone who wants to argue about the Sherman.
:D 8)
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.
Uh, if you want to argue that, then first you must show that your "if" is in fact correct. However, I and others, in numerous posts and articles have show that in this respect Cooper is not accurate at all, which reduces your "what if" to a house of cards. If OTOH you can show that he is accurate then you can argue your point. :D
I won't waste a lot of time discussing concentration because Russell Weigly has already done it for me in Eisenhower's Lts.
Actually IIRC he argues that the Allies in Europe failed to concentrate in a strategic sense, which may be true, but then they had few actual alternatives. It's simply a rehash of the "broad front, narrow front" argument. But in the operational and tactical sense, with a few exceptions (such as the Huertgen), the Allied problem was more a tendancy to overconcentrate and attempt penetrations by brute force rather than finesse. And his belief that the Army was split between a "frontier constabulary/mobility" faction and an "Civil War/attrition" faction doesn't really hold water.
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.
They did during the NEPTUNE assault, as did the US Army divisions :D (only in that case the US Army called their brigades armored groups). However, on average during the course of the campaign they had 7 brigades for 10 infantry divisions, so effectively an average of two regiments per division. The US Army had slightly less than one tank battlion and one TD battalion per division, but also regularly crossattached between armored and infantry divisions. For example, at one point during the Battle of Aachen the 1st Division not only had its usual attached tank battalion and SP TD battalion, it had the bulk of two battalions of 2nd AD attached....and all were essentially supporting the two battalions that were clearing the city. :D
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
Er, no, it wasn't a failure any more than the "heavy" division was. And it was no more "done away with" than were the other divisonal organizations. But it was changed, just as those were, because of experience that was gained during the war (just as the "heavy" organization was changed after the experience gained in North Africa).

And the change that improved "hitting power" was something that neither the "light" or "heavy" division had enough of (since they had the same amount :D ) - infantry. 8)

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Post by Reb » Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:11 am

Rich

My "if" about the meeting with Patton is also noted in Don Houston's book on the 2nd Armd Div. I'll have to check but I seem to recall Ike mentioning that as well, in "Crusade."

That we could have had heavy tanks in some quantity seems pretty likely. It was a decision based upon doctrine - I'm big on doctrine so I'm not sure if I wouldn't have made the same decision. But very hard on the guys in the Shermans.

I find it intesting that after the war one of the reorgs included tting rid of the whole TD organization. Somebody figured out that a tank with a big gun was your best shot against enemy tanks.

The Armoured Group org was more administrative than tactical. Nor can we say they Brits had two armd regts per Div because of the math - the key is do the assault divs have enough tanks? They did, IMHO, a better job of that than us.

I enjoy the author's who claim the Germans were smarter than Allies in seeing the proportion of infantry to tanks needed to be higher. Yet the Germans themselves bemoaned this trend and would much rather have gone back to 4 bns of tanks.

The US Heavy Armd Divs typically had extra infantry riding the tanks - as much as an RCT / combat command. But only as an attachment - they didn't have to have administrative responsiblity.

McNair was a pain in the neck I'm sure, but in keeping organic elements to a minimum in the divisions he was fighting the trend to put in everything you might possibly need, which can be cumbersome.

cheers
Reb

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Post by Rich » Thu Jan 18, 2007 12:43 pm

Reb wrote:Rich

My "if" about the meeting with Patton is also noted in Don Houston's book on the 2nd Armd Div. I'll have to check but I seem to recall Ike mentioning that as well, in "Crusade."
It's called an "urban legend". :D But in fact it did not occur in any of the permutations recorded by Cooper or Huston or any of those who repeat and embellish the myth after reading them. And Eisenhower did not describe such a meeting nor Patton's resistance in Crusade or in his letters.

1) No such meeting occured. There is no record or minutes that exist of such a meeting. You can of course immediately go X-Filish and declare that the absence of evidence constitutes evidence, but.... :D
2) No movie showing the testing of the T26 could have been shown at this nonexistant meeting, the tests and film were done at Aberdeen.....in July 1944.
3) It is actually quite easy to document Patton's favorable reaction to the T26.... :D
4) Etcetera.
That we could have had heavy tanks in some quantity seems pretty likely. It was a decision based upon doctrine - I'm big on doctrine so I'm not sure if I wouldn't have made the same decision. But very hard on the guys in the Shermans.
Actually it was a decision partly based upon doctrinal development, but also on simple practical engineering terms. The US Army did not have the engine or transmission technology developed that could power a heavy tank although in the T26 they tried unsuccesfully to do so by pretending that the poerplant from a Medium tank was adequate. Guess what, it wasn't.
I find it intesting that after the war one of the reorgs included tting rid of the whole TD organization. Somebody figured out that a tank with a big gun was your best shot against enemy tanks.
Er, that was in the cards for quite some time and was first voiced by a unified group in April 1944. Which is when Patton recommended that the T26 be used to replace all of the TD. :D
The Armoured Group org was more administrative than tactical. Nor can we say they Brits had two armd regts per Div because of the math - the key is do the assault divs have enough tanks? They did, IMHO, a better job of that than us.
That is what the group became, but that is not how it was intended to be. And a careful examination of their use show that is also the way the British brigades were used. BTW, the actual key is "are the commanders of the assaulting troops willing to commit their armor?" The real problem with the British brigade organization was that they tended to be idle and very unwilling to actually commit more than one regiment at a time, regradless of how they were divided up.
I enjoy the author's who claim the Germans were smarter than Allies in seeing the proportion of infantry to tanks needed to be higher. Yet the Germans themselves bemoaned this trend and would much rather have gone back to 4 bns of tanks.
Sorry, but actually only Guderian espoused that thinking after 1940 and he was a megalomanical self-promoter.
The US Heavy Armd Divs typically had extra infantry riding the tanks - as much as an RCT / combat command. But only as an attachment - they didn't have to have administrative responsiblity.
All armored divisions "typically" had infantry attachments, the armored infantry were too few to undertake all the tasks assigned them. The divisions were unanimous on that point and the usual assumption was that the division required at least two more armored infantry battalions.
McNair was a pain in the neck I'm sure, but in keeping organic elements to a minimum in the divisions he was fighting the trend to put in everything you might possibly need, which can be cumbersome.

cheers
Reb
McNair is unfairly lambasted for many things that either he wasn't really responsible for or where his decisions actually made much more sense in context than we now imagine.

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Post by Ron Klages » Thu Jan 18, 2007 6:25 pm

Rich,

I would appreciate your publishing the tank losses for the individual tank battalions also.

Thank you in advance.

Ron Klages
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Post by Reb » Thu Jan 18, 2007 7:27 pm

Rich

"actually only Guderian espoused that thinking after 1940 and he was a megalomanical self-promoter"

It wasn't just Guderian - panzer officers were shocked by that - the shock probably ameliorited to an extent by promotions created by the expansion.

But it took just such a man as Guderian to stand up to Hitler, whose "brilliant" idea of halving the panzers in a div to get twice as many divs was to reap such wonderful dividends. The worst being that he now felt he had enough pz divs to defeat Russia. The next worse being that the pz divs ALWAYS fought with less tanks than needed.

An American strength was the ability and willingness to keep units up to strength. Yet even in the heavy divisions that was not always possible nor was it always possible to instantly replace losses and have extras on hand before a fight. A div that bases its doctrine on having a certain number of tanks will not perform as it should when it gets below a certain number of runners.

For the Germans it was much worse since their TO&E constantly dropped the number of tanks in a div lower and lower anyway. A 60 tank bn can fluctuate by 20 to 30% without a shot being fired (which could mean a US div down as many as a battalions worth of tanks just from a road march) I reckon bigger is better if you want tank runners available.

You can always grab some infantry somewhere and although the armd inf are worth their weight in gold - they are specialist troopos.

Some times the halftracks and all the maintenance backup they require get in the way of getting things done.

So how many bns do you need of specialist troops and how many of regular cannon fodder? The SS were happy with six, the heer and Brits with four, and the US with three (plus frequent attachments of regular inf).

The key is to find the right mix of everything. Guderian's original six battalions of panzers may have been overkill but less than four is underkill.

To me the American light armd div had the proportions right: 1 bn of armd inf for each tank bn. They were just short a battalion of each. (And by that theory the heavy divs were short an inf bn.)

I'd note that the British whinging about too few infantry is actually a self inflicted wound. Villers Bocage comes to mind as a good example of their problem. Wittman's little bit of mayhem makes good reading but was a pinprick. The fact that Erskine didn't bother to use his Lorried Inf Brigade was a not atypical judgement call - not a problem with TO&E.

Your comment on Guderian could apply to Patton and Montgomery as well. Not to mention kindly Marshal Zhukov! 8)

The kind of man who can order thousands to their deaths while worrying about getting a promotion tends to get called names. Such men don't care. They win battles when their country deems that to be important.

cheers
Reb

cheers
Reb

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Post by Rich » Thu Jan 18, 2007 8:40 pm

Ron Klages wrote:Rich,

I would appreciate your publishing the tank losses for the individual tank battalions also.

Thank you in advance.

Ron Klages
Sure, always glad to add a dose of reality. :wink:

70 TkBn - 35 Lt, 90 Med
191 TkBn - 31 Lt, 140 Med
701 Tk Bn - 2 Lt, 15 Med
702 TkBn - 8 Lt, 56 Med
707 TkBn - 18 Lt, 93 Med
709 TkBn - 16 Lt, 60 Med
712 TkBn - 11 Lt, 68 Med
717 TkBn - 0 Lt, 2 Med
735 Tk Bn - 15 Lt, 51 Med
736 TkBn - 5 Lt, 15 Med
737 Tk Bn - 8 Lt, 66 Med
738 TkBn - 0 Lt, 4 Med
739 TkBn - 0 Lt, 8 Med
741 TkBn - 3 Lt, 86 Med
740 TkBn - 2 Lt, 55 Med
741 TkBn - 3 Lt, 86 Med
743 TkBn - 15 Lt, 96 Med
744 TkBn (Lt) - 23 M5, 1 M24
745 TkBn - 4 Lt, 50 Med
746 TkBn - 7 Lt, 124 Med
747 TkBn - 5 Lt, 68 Med, 2 M4-105mm
748 TkBn - 0 Lt, 6 Med
749 TkBn - 4 Lt, 52 Med
750 TkBn - No Report
753 TkBn - 8 Lt, 62 Med
756 TkBn - 19 Lt, 77 Med
759 TkBn (Lt) - 42 M5, 4 M24
771 TkBn - 6 Lt, 34 Med
772 TkBn - 1 Lt, 8 Med
774 TkBn - 4 Lt, 56 Med, 2 M4-105mm
778 TkBn - 0 Lt, 16 Med
781 TkBn - 2 Lt, 16 Med
782 TkBn - 0 Lt, 1 Med
784 TkBn - 3 Lt, 18 Med
786 TkBn - 4 Lt, 11 Med
787 TkBn - 0
761 TkBn - 0 Lt, 71 Med

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Post by Rich » Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:43 pm

Reb wrote:It wasn't just Guderian - panzer officers were shocked by that - the shock probably ameliorited to an extent by promotions created by the expansion.
Really, perhaps you could name a few and reference their remarks on this subject?
But it took just such a man as Guderian to stand up to Hitler, whose "brilliant" idea of halving the panzers in a div to get twice as many divs was to reap such wonderful dividends. The worst being that he now felt he had enough pz divs to defeat Russia. The next worse being that the pz divs ALWAYS fought with less tanks than needed.
Sorry, but to be blunt, that is absolute Bovine Fecal Matter.

Guderian "stood up" to Hitler exactly once and was relieved of his command as a result. And, BTW, Hitler was probably right and Guderian wrong in that case.

As to "halving" the division that is also BFM. The division of 1939 had two Panzer regiments, each of two battalions, for a total of four (Pz.Div. 10. and Kempf only had one regiment) for 24 battalions in divisions plus 9 in the leichte Divisionen and Heerestruppen. For Fall GELB in 1940 the original five divisions (1.-5.) and 10. maintained that organization, the reformed leichte-Panzer Divisionen (6.-9.) each had a single three-battalion regiment. So a total of 36 battalions in divisions.

Following GELB extensive analysis of the campaign was done and - except for a dissenting opinion by Guderian (I have a copy of the document somewhere) - the commanders were uninamimous in agreeing that the single three-battalion regiment organization was much more efficient. Furthermore, with greater production of Panzer-III and IV firepower in the battalion could be maintained with fewer tanks assigned.

So by mid 1941 the divisions were organized with single regiments of two battalions (1., 2., 4., 5., 9., 10., 11., 13., 14., 16.) or three battalions (3., 6., 7., 8., 12., 15., 17., 18., 19., 20., 21.) for a total of 55 battalions in divisions. So while the number of divisions slightly more than doubled, the total armor strength was not halved, it increased by just over 1.5 times. Of course, each Panzer battalion was supported by proportianately more artillery and infantry, supply services were simplified, and redundent command echelons were eliminated, so the divisions were more efficient and flexible.
For the Germans it was much worse since their TO&E constantly dropped the number of tanks in a div lower and lower anyway. A 60 tank bn can fluctuate by 20 to 30% without a shot being fired (which could mean a US div down as many as a battalions worth of tanks just from a road march) I reckon bigger is better if you want tank runners available.
I see. But sadly that is also incorrect. The nominal strength of the battalion in 1939 was 80 tanks, most of which were Panzer I or II. In 1940 it was nominally 85, more powerful tanks. In 1941 it was dropped to 77 but consisted of many more powerful tanks. In 1943 it went to 96 tanks, eliminating all of the Panzer-I and II. In 1944 it went to 76. In the final days it was dropped to 44, but it is unlikely that any units actually adopted that organization.

In contrast the US battalion initially consisted of 54 tanks and then later of 77.
You can always grab some infantry somewhere and although the armd inf are worth their weight in gold - they are specialist troopos.

Some times the halftracks and all the maintenance backup they require get in the way of getting things done.
The problem with the armored infantry battalion then (its worse now in a Mech Inf Bn) was that all the vehicles and equipment it had meant that it had little in the way of infantry. Typically, it was expected that in a battalion of over 1,000 men, more than 200 more than in a "leg" battalion, only about 450 were riflemen. Essentially the battalions were personnel hogs.
So how many bns do you need of specialist troops and how many of regular cannon fodder? The SS were happy with six, the heer and Brits with four, and the US with three (plus frequent attachments of regular inf).
The SS were a special case and the Brits were unique - to be charitable. The US organization was universally held to be lacking most in infantry. The common thread in the notes maintained by the SHAEF AFV&W Section and 12th AG Armor Section was that the best organiztion was a division of 3 or 4 armored battalions (depending on the battalion organization and equipment that was adopted) and 6 armored infantry battalions.
The key is to find the right mix of everything. Guderian's original six battalions of panzers may have been overkill but less than four is underkill.
He never had six and four was universally held to be too many. Two regiments required a brigade headquarters that made the division too unwieldy and four battalions couldn't be run by a single regimental headquarters. Three was pretty much held as the ideal, but of course eventually they were forced to accept two (but then they were four instead of three-company battalions, so it was a reduction from 9 to 8 companies, so again was probably slightly more efficient, the same reasoning was behind the US change of 15 July 1943).

Oddly enough Guderian, being the loon he was, tried to backdoor his organization into the Panzerwaffe when he became IG of Panzertruppen. He was the one that pushed for the creation of the Panzer Brigade headquarters, which he saw as a reserve formation consisting of two Panther battalions and possibly a Tiger battalion, that could be attached to a Panzer Division, whereupon it would take over the divisions Panzer regiment and two battalions and then, presto!, you would have a four or even five battalion Panzer division. :shock: Of course it's surprising, but he somehow missed that the Panther battalions were being formed by withdrawing a battalion from the divisions, leaving them with one.... :roll:
To me the American light armd div had the proportions right: 1 bn of armd inf for each tank bn. They were just short a battalion of each. (And by that theory the heavy divs were short an inf bn.)
Funny, the guys on the ground that did the fighting in them disagreed with you. :D
I'd note that the British whinging about too few infantry is actually a self inflicted wound. Villers Bocage comes to mind as a good example of their problem. Wittman's little bit of mayhem makes good reading but was a pinprick. The fact that Erskine didn't bother to use his Lorried Inf Brigade was a not atypical judgement call - not a problem with TO&E.
Sigh, their bizarre TO&E and the doctrine it was designed for, has everything to do with the porblems they had. BTW, Erskine did use his Lorried Brigade, just as it was designed to be used, to secure his divisional "base", maintaining a "safe harbour" for his armour to retuyrn to. :D Seriously though, it was one of the Queens battalions in VB and their antitank guns that eventually wrecked the German counterattack.

Cheers right back at you Reb, :D

Rich

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Thank You

Post by Ron Klages » Thu Jan 18, 2007 11:37 pm

Rich,


Always willing to share.
Thank you for the information.
Best regards,

Ron
Ron Klages
Lynnwood, Washington USA

Rich
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Re: Thank You

Post by Rich » Fri Jan 19, 2007 7:28 am

Ron Klages wrote:Rich,


Always willing to share.
Thank you for the information.
Best regards,

Ron
Always happy to help Ron. I hope everything is going well with you and yours this new year.

Rich

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Post by Reb » Fri Jan 19, 2007 8:41 am

Rich

Guderian a loon? :D

Only stood up to Hitler once? Are you fogetting Kursk?

cheers
Reb

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Post by Rich » Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:49 am

Reb wrote:Rich

Guderian a loon? :D
Yup. :D 8)
Only stood up to Hitler once? Are you fogetting Kursk?

cheers
Reb
Please, oh please, clue me in on what I might be forgetting about Kursk? 8) Or are you confusing the self-promoter Guderian for the self-promoter Manstein? :wink:

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Post by Reb » Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:15 am

Rich

I must love pain. :D

Guderian on several occasions approached Hitler about calling off Citadel since he had somewhat rebuilt the pz waffe and did not want to squander it on a frontal attack. The other genuises were raring to go - except for Manstein who vacillated and finally got on board.

It is from his own memoirs we get the oft repeated quote from Hitler, "yes - whenever I think about this offensive my stomach turns over."

Would that he had followed his stomach instead of his desire to make a political statement to an uncaring world. :wink: (But perhaps not - without Kursk Germany just possibly might have fought Ivan to a draw and that might not have been such a good thing in the long run.)

Guderian also confronted Hitler on the issue of having Wenck do the heavy lifting for Himmer (HG Vistula) and got his way - suffering a rubuke from Jodl for his trouble.

A far cry from the more sycophantic types like Kluge and Brauchitsch.

A question for you - oh lover of all things Guderian: What do you think of his son Heinz-Gunther? I just read his memoir of the 116th Pz and came away wondering just what exactly that div did in the west that was so awesome...

cheers
Reb

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Post by Rich » Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:39 am

Reb wrote:Rich

I must love pain. :D
Ah, come on, this is fun and educational. :D
Guderian on several occasions approached Hitler about calling off Citadel since he had somewhat rebuilt the pz waffe and did not want to squander it on a frontal attack. The other genuises were raring to go - except for Manstein who vacillated and finally got on board.
How is that "standing up" to Hitler? Hitler frequently took input from others, but when he made a final decision he didn't like to be second-guessed. And the run up to Zitadelle was much more contentious and factional that is often realized, nobody was really "raring" to go (except possibly Manstein, who may in fact have been "raring" :D - but it's hard to tell since he so carefully crafted his postwar memory....but there are enough inconsistancies in other records and memoirs of the events to call into question his version of events).

Guderian "stood up" to Hitler in December 1941 and was probably wrong. And since he refused a direct order his relief was fully justified.
(snip)(But perhaps not - without Kursk Germany just possibly might have fought Ivan to a draw and that might not have been such a good thing in the long run.)
Unlikely. Losses at Kursk were as supportable as any of the more severe losses that occured later. Essentially by early 1943 the Ostheer was so far outmatched by the forces the Soviets could deploy that it made little differance either way.
Guderian also confronted Hitler on the issue of having Wenck do the heavy lifting for Himmer (HG Vistula) and got his way - suffering a rubuke from Jodl for his trouble.
As if anything done by that time was significant. :wink: And IIRC it wasn't much of a "confrontation".
A far cry from the more sycophantic types like Kluge and Brauchitsch.
Are you saying you think Guderian was less of a syncophant? Brauchitsch was relieved at the same time and never came back, mostly because unlike Guderian he was unwilling to kiss ass and make up. And Kluge was simply a kiss ass from the get go. 8)
A question for you - oh lover of all things Guderian: What do you think of his son Heinz-Gunther? I just read his memoir of the 116th Pz and came away wondering just what exactly that div did in the west that was so awesome...

cheers
Reb
Huh? "oh lover of all things Guderian"? Frankly I despise most of that crowd and am at best lukewarm to the rest of them.

What did 116. Panzer do? Maybe get less of its people killed in a losing situation than some of the more "elite" divisions did? :D

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Post by Reb » Fri Jan 19, 2007 12:27 pm

"What did 116. Panzer do? Maybe get less of its people killed in a losing situation than some of the more "elite" divisions did?"

Hmmmm. I didn't know there were points for NOT fighting. 8) That could lead to a whole new concept of war - perhaps we could adopt the model of those islanders who fight by trying to out do each other in the quality of the gifts they give! :D

cheers
Reb

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Post by Rich » Fri Jan 19, 2007 1:05 pm

Reb wrote:Hmmmm. I didn't know there were points for NOT fighting. 8) That could lead to a whole new concept of war - perhaps we could adopt the model of those islanders who fight by trying to out do each other in the quality of the gifts they give! :D

cheers
Reb
Well, the problem with those is like potlach the people that couldn't keep up with the giving and so lost prestige tended to get back at the "winners' by killing them. :wink:

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