Allied Tank Strength in Normandy

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

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Allied Tank Strength in Normandy

Post by Reb » Sat Jun 05, 2004 8:48 am

I was reviewing an OOB for Normandy (after 1 August 44) and found there to be 7 tank brigades and 5 divisions (incl Polish and Cnd) which seems to me to add up to a conservative estimate of at least
2000-2500 tanks in the British sector alone.

The Americans had seven tank divs (incl French) and gosh knows how many independent battlions and groups. I should think a number of tanks then at least equal to the British.

Write off losses and add in spares (or in the pipeline) and this begins to sound a lot like nearly 5000 tanks!

Can that be right? I can't even concieve of that many tanks - plus all the 'B' echelon stuff - I can't imagine where they'd put them all in a narrow bridgehead like Normandy. Plus there were beaucoup Tank Destroyers and SP guns.

Am I off on this estimate? Or did the allies really have those kind of numbers? It certainly puts things into perspective when considering those ten or so panzer divisions with what, 1200 - 1500 tanks and SPs.

Note that the estimate is based on the armour ashore at roughly the time of Totalize.

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Post by Martin Schenkel » Sat Jun 05, 2004 10:16 am

I came to the following numbers towards the end of Aug 1944 for units in Normandy (authorized tank strength, not actual):

British, Canadian, and Polish Armd Divs: 5x 343 each = 1715
British and Canadian Armd Bdes: 5x 244 each = 1220
British Tank Bdes: 3x 240 each = 720
US and French Lt Armd Divs: 5x 263 each = 1315
US Hvy Armd Divs: 2x 485 each = 970
US Independent Tank Bns: Approx. 17x 76 each = 1292

This gives a total authorized tank strength of around 7200. I don't imagine they'd all be at full authorized strength, but the Allies could replace tanks pretty quickly. Add in TDs, replacement tanks, and the numbers get even higher.
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Re: Allied Tank Strength in Normandy

Post by Darrin » Sat Jun 05, 2004 6:04 pm

Reb wrote:I was reviewing an OOB for Normandy (after 1 August 44) and found there to be 7 tank brigades and 5 divisions (incl Polish and Cnd) which seems to me to add up to a conservative estimate of at least
2000-2500 tanks in the British sector alone.

The Americans had seven tank divs (incl French) and gosh knows how many independent battlions and groups. I should think a number of tanks then at least equal to the British.

Write off losses and add in spares (or in the pipeline) and this begins to sound a lot like nearly 5000 tanks!

Can that be right? I can't even concieve of that many tanks - plus all the 'B' echelon stuff - I can't imagine where they'd put them all in a narrow bridgehead like Normandy. Plus there were beaucoup Tank Destroyers and SP guns.

Am I off on this estimate? Or did the allies really have those kind of numbers? It certainly puts things into perspective when considering those ten or so panzer divisions with what, 1200 - 1500 tanks and SPs.

Note that the estimate is based on the armour ashore at roughly the time of Totalize.

cheers
Reb


Your TOE numbers are probably if anything a bit low or conservative. I see at least 7000 tanks ETC....as the max nunber of TOE. Minus losses not replaced yet and minus tanks that weren't operational and units that had been withdrawn from the front line. Which at anytime was a large number supposedly since a british post war study seemed to show odds of less than 3:1 op tanks were normal.

By the 1st of aug the ger had at least 1500 tanks in normandy of which 1000 were operatioanl. That would give you odds of over 4:1 if all the toe str of the allies was close to being maxed out.

These numbers include all TD all tanks including stuarts and all tank varinet weather AAA, recovery, command, supply etc... Although it does not include the few SP arty in the inf divs at least.

By the 1st of aug the normandy brridghead was anything but narrow. It streched from caen to averachhes (sp?) a large continues distance. An area that the allies had been occupying for almost 2 months since the intial landing.

Plus while the allies had a large adv in numbers of tanks the numbers of tanks in allied arm div was about half the total. The allied arm div out the ger panzer div by just 12 to 9. Althopugh once the PzD were committed to battle they had a harder time remaing opertainoal and replacing losses.

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Post by Reb » Sat Jun 05, 2004 6:21 pm

Thanks, Martin, Darrin.

I don't think those numbers would include sp Tank Destroyers. There were numerous battalions of those floating around.

When I was a younger man and good data was harder to get I used to wonder why the Germans needed both SS pz Korps to hold off the British - now that real data is readily available it becomes a lot more obvious.

What is not obvious is how the Germans were able to hold as long as they did.

But there is a functional reality that sometimes gets missed just looking at data - 100 tanks can usually defeat 20 tanks - but the key is getting them into a position where the 100 tanks can bring their guns and superiority to bear. Which of course was often difficult in Normandy. Plus the Germans had a knack for concentrating their ordnance at the point of contact.

Fascinating though - I just hadn't thought it through I guess - but the figure of 7000+ tanks - whew... Sounds more like the Russian front!
That number also makes it easier to understand the subsequent logistics breakdown.

thanks guys
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Post by Martin Schenkel » Sat Jun 05, 2004 7:13 pm

Reb wrote:I don't think those numbers would include sp Tank Destroyers. There were numerous battalions of those floating around.
The US had around 30 SP TD Bns in Normandy at the end of Aug, and the British/Canadians about 8-10 Bn equivalents. At 36 TDs in a US Bn and 24 in a Commonwealth Bn, that's about another 1300 SPGs authorized.
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Post by nigelfe » Sat Jun 05, 2004 11:50 pm

As far as UK and Cdn are concerned I think these numbers are still on the low side even though the 343 in an armd div includes bde pool OP tanks and AA tanks and some of the former had dummy guns. All SP regts in armd divs and those in army troops (M7 Priests) had OP tanks (13 per regt) and these aren't in the div totals as usually presented (eg in Joslin), 79 Armd Div, the RM Armd Spt Regts. Furthermore the armoured delivery regiments also had an establishment.

AT regts is also low, there was one per Inf and Armd Div plus 1 per corps (basically the same org as armd div regt) although the number of SP btys is confusing due to the regts on the assault establishments and the prolongation of these.

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Post by Darrin » Sun Jun 06, 2004 4:12 pm

The US alone made 55,000 shermans alone during the war. 24,000 of these just during 1943 . There was a huge surplus of shermans made during the war compared to need and loses.

The US kept a 25% TOE str of shermans either in depots in france or in shipment to fra. Plus an extra percentage that varied over and above this each month.

The rus at the time of kursk had 10-12,000 tanks on the entire eastern front. The western allies probably approched this level by late 44 or early 45.

The total number of western tanks involved in the first day of normandy by TOE addition was close to 1500 tanks in total. That would at least equal the total number of ger tanks, etc... in ALL of france at that time. Of whicvh only 1 panzer div was commited with one big bat of panzer IVs and one small bat of obsolete tanks. Even the panzer lehr pzdiv arrived the next day without its panther bat which was in ger and had to be sent back to normandy.

Twice the number of tanks were in the CW units as the US units and that is why 2 panzer corps were tied up holding back the british to begin with. By the first of aug the tank totals were almost equal.

The des of allied tanks to ger tanks was about 2:1 during normandy. The number one cause of ger tank des was AP rounds fired either by tanks, TDs or ATGs. Not arty, ac or other which played a small part. Even adn or des by crew genraly were not overly large except for the month of aug.

The sherman and all allied tank crews did not have a horrible fate aginst the germans. The sherman on avg when des suffered only 50% total cas of which half were wia and the rest dead.

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Post by Reb » Sun Jun 06, 2004 4:21 pm

When I was a child my grandfather took me to a place called letterkenny in Pennsylvania. There were Sherman tanks as far as the eye could see.

It must of have been intimidating to the Germans to realize they simply couldn't knock enough of the things out to matter.

There were still modified Shermans on active duty as recently as the last Arab / Israeli war (as SPG if I recall correctly). Probably a few floating aorund on the subcontinent as well.

I wonder where all those leftover tanks ended up?

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Post by nigelfe » Mon Jun 07, 2004 1:47 am

The WEs shown on this site are wrong in that they are incomplete because they don't show the SP Field regts with their 13 OP Tanks. The OP tanks held as pool by Armd Bde HQs were for use by towed field regiments.

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Post by Rich » Mon Jun 07, 2004 7:50 am

Martin Schenkel wrote:
Reb wrote:I don't think those numbers would include sp Tank Destroyers. There were numerous battalions of those floating around.
The US had around 30 SP TD Bns in Normandy at the end of Aug, and the British/Canadians about 8-10 Bn equivalents. At 36 TDs in a US Bn and 24 in a Commonwealth Bn, that's about another 1300 SPGs authorized.
As of 20 August 1944 ETOUSA had on hand:

2,423 M4 75mm and 76mm
163 M4 105mm
1,696 M5 37mm
763 M10 3" TD
179 M18 76mm TD


As of 20 August First Army had operational:
865 M4 75mm
218 M4 76mm
69 M4 105mm
691 M5 37mm

As of 19 August Third Army had operational:
782 M4 75mm
17 M4 76mm
90 M4 105mm
365 M5 37mm

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Post by Darrin » Tue Jun 08, 2004 10:07 pm

Plus about 681 op M10 and M18 TDs if the avg op str for tanks held true for the TDs. Both these TDs had guns of the same pen proabilites and small quaites of HVAP ammo.


That makes a combined op tot of 76mm/3" guns for both armies of 916 tanks and TDs.

Plus 1647 op 75mm sherman tanks.

Plus 159 op 105mm shermans. These are short how guns that are not meant for tanks.

Plus 1056 op 37mm stuarts. While this tank might be considered an obsolete pea shooter it could pen rougly 75mm of vertial arm at 100m. As an example the panther had only 40 mm of side arm and it could easily be penetrated by this gun. The only tank that was immune to side pen from this 'punny' gun was the tiger types.


That makes a total of 3778 op tanks and TDs in both US armies.

24% 76mm guns of which most were the TDs which where likly to have small amounts of HVAP ammo.

44% 75mm guns all shermans.

4% 105mm guns all shermans.

28% 37mm guns all stuarts.

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Post by Qvist » Fri Jun 11, 2004 4:43 am

As of 20 August 1944 ETOUSA had on hand:
Etousa, isn't that another one of those Tunisian towns that are so dashed tricky to locate? :D

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Post by Rich » Fri Jun 11, 2004 5:48 am

Qvist wrote:
As of 20 August 1944 ETOUSA had on hand:
Etousa, isn't that another one of those Tunisian towns that are so dashed tricky to locate? :D

cheers
Yep. 8)

BTW, as of last light on 31 July the British tank "fighting strengths" (i.e., operational strength) was:

First Canadian Army - 966
Second British Army - 1,554 (including 212 in 6th Gds Tk Bde, 133 in 31 Tk Bde, and 214 in 34 Tk Bde)

Note that types were not differentiated, although of course the bulk of those in the tank brigades were Churchills.

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Post by Sebastian Pye » Sat Jun 12, 2004 10:36 am

Reb wrote:When I was a child my grandfather took me to a place called letterkenny in Pennsylvania. There were Sherman tanks as far as the eye could see.

It must of have been intimidating to the Germans to realize they simply couldn't knock enough of the things out to matter.

Reb
hehe yeah but they had experience from russia! :)

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