Monday, January 4, 2010

I Hereby Resolutely Resolve to Act On this Resolution

So this weekend I was leafing through some of my collection of Fine Scale Modeler magazines. I mainly build WWII armor but have had a lot of fun scratchbuilding (i.e. making or modifying parts myself) the occasional space ship as well. And like most modelers I have about three projects in progress and a shelf full of stuff waiting in the wings.

But this weekend, as I looked at the 2,645th photoset and article about the German Tiger I tank followed by the 405th reader Gallery entry of a diorama showing a Tiger driving by one of its "unlucky victim" tanks, I sprang to my feet, raised my hand, and swore a mighty Oath that this year I will make my own diorama showing a blasted and wrecked Tiger I being passed by by a U.S. or Brit tank destroyer. Maybe an Archer - that weird little "rear-fire-only" TD that mated a rear-firing 17 pounder antitank gun to an old Valentine tank chasssis. Does anyone make a kit of an Archer, I wonder?

Don't get me wrong - the Tiger I was a cool-looking tank; a heaping helping of mean on top of a big pile of ugly. But as a bit of a WWII grog, you get plenty sick of 'em pretty fast.

So that's my one New Year's Resolution so far.


Metternich said...

How about 6 US little Sherman tanks blasting away at the Tiger? The US made 10 times as many small tanks on an automotive mass production line. It took a ratio of about 5-to-1 to beat the Panzers. Maybe more for a Tiger. But the US had 10-to-1. More realistic to use the right numbers. But it would be harder to get the relative scale right if the kits came from different sources.

Atom Smasher said...

The "5 for 1" ratio is often quoted for Shermans required to kill a Panther but I've never seen the original context of the original quote. Since vanilla Shermans often did quite well against Panthers (see the Lorraine battles, especially Arracourt), we must not fall victim to the idea that every dead Panther was surrounded by 5 KOd M4s.

I myself like to remind people that the Germans won all of their earlier battles with relatively inferior tanks and lost all their later battles with relatively superior tanks. And losses were generally suffered by the attacker to a much greater degree than the defender, at least in the ETO.

And that's the first time I've ever heard anyone call the Sherman "little". :)

Anonymous said...

I heard that the later german tanks had poorly welded plates around the battle. I can't cite the source, having only read it once, and not in a book I own, but it said the production got sloppy, settling for welds of two plates where something stronger was both indicated and designed.

Supposedly this left an achilles heel on the front of the turret.

Again, I don't have the book, I don't remember the title of the book, and I read it once, in passing, so I can't cite my source.

MeatAxe said...

@anonymous --- this sounds like the shot trap on the front turret of the Panther A and D (and some of the G models.) The front of the Panther turret was a 100mm thick cast mantlet, but the plates were angled in such a way that a shot might ricochet off the downward facing plates and punch through the thin armor that covered the hull's front top.

This would be catastrophic, as ammo and crew member stations were in that part of the tank.

This shot trap was corrected by the late war era, but early versions of the Panther Ausf. G still had this weak spot.

Atom Smasher said...

As resources got scarcer under the rain of Allied bombs, quality of certain metals and processes did suffer a little bit for the Germans toward the end of the war. The one I've read about most often is that the front armor plates for the Panther tanks were sometimes very brittle (I believe because of the face-hardening process they used) and could actually crack into a few large pieces after one high-velocity hit.

But I don't know how common it was.

Anonymous said...

"..... after one high velocity hit."

That was the ONE thing the Americans did not have a vast numerical advantage in: High velocity guns capable of killing Enemy tanks at range. Tank vs. tank combat on a tactical level was virtual suicide for the Americans until 1945. On day to day operational level, the Allies had the better tanks in that theirs were more fuel efficient, faster, easier to maintain and they could recover the KO'd tanks and refit them. They had dependable supplies of replacement parts and crews...... and Total Air Superiority. All the German veteran interviews/books (Western ETO) I have read mention "Jabboes" or fighter bombers being the #1 enemy threat to Wermacht vehichles.... they could not use the roads during daylight in NE France in 1944. A good portion of German Armor was not "ko'd" in combat, but was abandoned because it either broke down and could not be fixed in the field (and could not be brought to the depot-Not a lot of trains running due to the "Transportation Plan"), ran out of gas, or could not move fast enough to keep from being overrun by the advancing Allied lines.

Bottom Line: You can equip a German unit with all the Panthers and Tigers you want, but if they have no spare parts, little fuel, no air cover, and no hope..... If they are hard corps, then it'd suck to meet them in a Sherman (or a group of Shermans!), true. But then there are 10 other Shermans busy overrunning their field kitchen and Maintenace Company, and a swarm of Mosquitoes and Thunderbolts showering them with rockets and gunfire if they dare show themselves in daylight.....

MeatAxe said...

@anonymous Jan 6 1051pm.
OK, you can be in the club.

mcthag said...

The 5-1 story, as I was told it learning to be a tanker at Fort Knox.

The Germans would stake out a hunk of road where you couldn't easily get off of and take out the lead tank, and then the tail tank in a column. The Panther's 75mm and the Tiger's 88mm far out ranged the Sherman's short barreled 76.2mm.

While a five tank platoon was being gunned down by a hidden Tiger, they were screaming on the radio and that Tiger was being flanked by a different platoon...

Tactics and choosing the ground they were fighting from had a lot to do with the kill ratio. Not relocating afterwards also got them killed; but then lots of Tigers never got far under their own power.

mcthag said...

PS, you should use an M26 Pershing as the Tiger Killer!

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