About My Axe: US Equipment in WWII as seen is Wargames.
|May 19th, 2010||#1|
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My Axe: US Equipment in WWII as seen is Wargames. info
(I heard the UK did a test of 25 pounders against a moving Churchill. I'd like to know more about that study. It suggested the Tank was all but impervious...)
Item 2: I think the Sherman was a good tank. Not a great tank, but "good enough." In the games mentioned, a Sherman has no chance against a Tiger or a Panther, but I am pretty confident the Allies won the War, not the Nazis. Likewise, the M10 and M36 seemed to be able to take care of business as well, segue to:
Item 3: I am sadly dog bone tired of hearing how great the Tiger and Panther were as tanks. I can't find my books from German sources where ex-wehrmacht tankers comment on how these tanks were both over-engineered, temperamental and prone to break-downs at the worst moments. When I look at the first and second generations of Cold War tanks, I see rather little "homage" to the Tiger or Panther, but a lot of design elements of the UK and US tanks, even in Warpac tanks (HVSS suspensions, for example.) I do know everyone "copied" the T-34's sloped armor, which I believe came from US Citizen Walter Christie....
I'd like to see any references to the US running tigers out of fuel in combat. I'm pretty sure it was done more than once.
Maybe I'm just a superannuated patriot who sees everything through a rose-colored fog, but I always thought US military equipment was pretty good.
|May 19th, 2010||#2|
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Ok well part 1:
Early in the afternoon of 23 May 1944, the 1st Canadian Division attacked Germans in defensive positions during the battle of Hitler's Line in Italy. Soon after the battle started, it was apparent the attack had failed. The Canadians had suffered high numbers of casualties; the Germans then counterattacked with tanks. The Canadian Army Group Royal Artillery (equivalent to a US Field Artillery brigade) proceeded to defeat the counterattack.
This was one of many battles in World War II where artillery defeated armor. Has anything changed since these battles to make artillery less effective against armored targets? Not really.
Determining the effects of artillery is critical to military planning. The number of weapons and the amount of ammunition required to defeat different types of targets are factors to be considered when determining the composition of ground forces.
As US forces and their allies face contemporary operational environment (COB) threats--such as the al Qaeda during Operation Anaconda in the Shah-e-kot Valley in Afghanistan--there is no question that our Army needs an all-weather organic precision fires capability.
Air-delivered precision munitions are limited in their ability to provide close support to a ground force in contact--are most effective against fixed targets vice the fleeting targets in fast-paced ground combat. (See the interview "Afghanistan: Fire Support for Operation Anaconda" of Major General Franklin L. Hagenbeck, commander of the ground forces during Operation Anaconda, in the September-October edition.) The ground force's artillery must be capable of responsive, surgical lethality that minimizes collateral damage.
But at the same time, as Lieutenant Colonel Christopher F. Bentley, fire support coordinator (FSCOORD) for the ground forces during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan, said, "PGMs [precision-guided munitions] are not 'silver bullets' for every target array." (See Page 5 of his article "Afghanistan: Joint and Coalition Fire Support in Operation Anaconda" in the September-October edition.) In addition, precision munitions are expensive.
As Major General Hagenbeck said in the interview, the mix of munitions on future battlefields is mission, enemy, terrain, troops and time available (METT-T)-dependent. Ideally, the options would include precision, but "all that matters is whether or not the munitions are time-on-target and provide the right effects".
Artillery area fire (dumb) munitions can have some pretty amazing effects, some of which they have not been given credit for in recent years.
This article reminds the Army of the lethality of area fire Field Artillery by examining the background of modeling and simulations data used to portray artillery effects in a study beginning in 1988 and reviewing the results of this four-year test of the effects of the basic Soviet 152-mm and US 155-mm rounds.
Background. In the early 1970s, the Army began developing force-on-force models to work effects issues. An outgrowth of this work has been the development of battle simulations used for training. The realism of these models and simulations depends on the accuracy of the database used to represent the effects of combat on the battlefield.
As force-on-force models were being developed, military analysts noted an interesting dichotomy when comparing US and Soviet estimates of the effectiveness of high-explosive (HE) fragmentation rounds. HE is the basic artillery round used by NATO forces and the former Warsaw Pact.
Both the US and Soviet estimates on effects against "soft" targets, such as personnel, trucks and radar, were about the same. But there was a significant difference between the amount of HE the Soviets and US estimated it took to defeat or kill armored targets.
For example, to achieve 30 percent effects against an armored personnel carrier, the Soviets estimated it would take 2.8 fewer rounds than US estimates. "Thirty percent effects" was defined as damage that would keep the vehicle from continuing the battle, but it wasn't enough damage to "destroy" it. The number of HE rounds in the Soviet estimates for 30 percent effects against tanks was only slightly higher than the number required for armored personnel carriers.
The US database was a result of the modeling data developed in 1972 that required direct hits against tanks to achieve any effects. To ensure a direct hit with area fire munitions, the models required a large number of rounds to be fired. Over a period of time, the large number of rounds fired and the resulting minimum effects caused artillery fires to be downplayed in force-on-force modeling. Military analysts knew the criteria for HE to achieve effects was inaccurate, but they did not have data upon which to base their corrections of the modeling database.
Artillery Effect Tests. In 1988 the Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations (Force Development) directed the Soviet Artillery Effects (SAE) Study be conducted to validate the effectiveness data used in models. A literature search conducted before the test found a Soviet report titled "Firing for Effects Against Strongpoints." This report became the "base case" for comparing US and Soviet effectiveness estimates.
The Soviets claimed that 122-mm and 120-mm mortars and 152-mm artillery rounds achieved very high levels of damage against tanks and armored personnel carriers. The explanation of the disparity ranged from the Soviets simply overestimating their effectiveness to the difference in the way damage criteria were established. Other possibilities offered were that the database for US models was incorrect or not used properly. Further research revealed the Soviets had a large database developed by an extensive live-fire test program.
A basic difference existed in the way damage criteria were used. The Soviets had two criteria: "damaged," which means unable to continue to fight, and "destroyed." The US used "estimated time of repair" as the yardstick for damage in models. If damage could be repaired in less than 30 minutes, it was not counted; 30 minutes to one hour was assigned as a value; one hour or more had a value; and so on.
While it seemed the US criteria were less realistic than the Soviets', the analysts conducting the study decided to continue to use the existing US damage criteria in the SAE test.
One significant problem was that the US had limited data on the effects of fragmentation on armored vehicles. The last live-fire test of artillery munitions conducted in 1972 used World War II- and Korea-vintage armored targets. The artillery rounds had not changed significantly since that test, but there had been major changes to armored vehicles.
To correct this lack of data, the SAE was designed around four tests. Tests one and three were operational tests comparing model predictions with live-fire results. Tests two and four were technical tests designed to gather data to upgrade or correct the database.
Test Results. The first test was conducted in 1988. Researchers confirmed that the US 155-mm HE round was a reasonable surrogate for the Soviet 152-mm HE round. An M109 155-mm howitzer battery using Soviet fire direction and gun procedures fired the test. The targets were manikins placed in fighting positions, US trucks, Ml 13 and M557 armored vehicles, and M-48 tanks. Several different computer models were used to predict results. The test was fired three times using 56 HE rounds with point-detonating (PD) and variable-time (VT) fuzes.
The resulting effects on the trucks and personnel were close to model predictions. However, the effects on the armored vehicles and tanks were significantly higher than model predictions.
The model predicted 30 percent damage to armored vehicles and tanks; however, 67 percent damage was achieved. Fragmentation from the HE rounds penetrated the armored vehicles, destroying critical components and injuring the manikin crews. In addition, the HE fragmentation damaged tracks, road wheels, and tank main gun sights and set one vehicle on fire.
Interestingly enough, none of the damage to the armored vehicles or tanks was the result of direct hits-all the damage was caused by near hits.
This test confirmed that US Army models did not accurately portray artillery effectiveness. Direct hits were not required to damage tanks and other armored targets.
We are more often treacherous through weakness than through calculation. ~Francois De La Rochefoucauld
|May 19th, 2010||#3|
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The second test was conducted over a period of seven months. It was designed to provide updated fragmentation damage data for modem armored fighting vehicles and tanks. An M109 howitzer fired 155-mm HE ammunition with PD and VT fuzes. One round was fired at a time, and a detailed analysis was completed on the effects of a direct or near hit of each round.
A direct hit with an HE round with a PD fuze consistently destroyed the various target vehicles. Near hits damaged or destroyed road wheels, tracks, main gun sights and vision blocks. Aerial bursts of HE rounds with VT fuzes damaged or destroyed gun barrels, vision blocks, antennas, sights and engines and destroyed anything stored on the outside of the vehicle. (See Figure 2.)
The third test was against a simulated US mechanized infantry team in defensive positions. The target area consisted of a forward defense area with a tank ditch 250 meters long, minefields and wire obstacles. The infantry was dismounted and had prepared positions with overhead cover. The fighting vehicles and tanks were in supporting positions, dug in with both "hull down" and "turret down" positions.
For this test, a 24-gun 155-mm battalion was used to achieve the Soviet criteria of 50 percent destruction. To accomplish these effects, the fire plan for each of the three iterations of the test required 2,600 HE rounds with a mix of PD and VT fuzes. In each iteration, 50 percent of the infantry fighting positions were destroyed and about 50 percent of the personnel were wounded or killed.
The physiological and psychological effects on personnel could not be measured as Army regulations prohibit using humans or animals in this type of testing. However, research conducted in the first phase of the test documented battles of World War I and II where unmotivated or poorly trained soldiers did not stand up to large concentrations of artillery fire. This finding was confirmed during Operation Desert Storm
in the Gulf in 1990 with the mass surrenders of enemy soldiers. The soldiers' will to fight was worn down by fire support from multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS), cannons and air strikes.
In addition, during the third test, 50 percent of the infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and tanks suffered damage that would have prevented them from moving or firing, thus taking them out of the battle (Figure 3). Smoke and dust caused by the HE rounds would have reduced the IFV and tank crews' ability to engage targets at maximum range.
This test demonstrated that an artillery attack using standard HE fragmentation projectiles is much more lethal against tanks and armored vehicles than US effectiveness data estimates had predicted. Based on the data provided in the second test, the modeling predictions were closer to the actual results but remained on the low side of the actual damage and destruction.
Artillerymen need to understand that databases used to drive force-on-force models are not always accurate. Many of the models have not been updated, and their databases do not reflect all aspects of lethality.
The SAE tests clearly demonstrated that force-on-force models have not been portraying the effects of artillery fires properly. Near and direct hits cause significant damage to armored vehicles and tanks. The test results confirmed the validity of the published Soviet's report on the lethality of artillery (Figure 4).
Even with an updated database, force-on-force models tend to be conservative. The models are not capable of measuring the complete effects of artillery fire, such as smoke, dust, weapons sights effects and the physiological and psychological effects on humans. The SAE live-fire tests proved that HE fragmentation rounds are very effective against the most modern US and Soviet stationary armored systems.
Artillery Lethality Myths. Because the databases in force-on-force simulations/models have not accurately portrayed the effects of artillery fires for a number of years, several myths have arisen. The SAE results dispell the following five myths.
Myth #1--It requires a direct hit with an artillery round to damage or destroy an armored vehicle. Not true; 155-mm rounds that impact within 30 meters cause considerable damage (Figure 5). Air bursts using VT or dual-purpose improved conventional munitions
(DPICM) can strip away communications, sights, vision blocks and anything stored on the outside of the vehicle. These air. bursts are especially effective against soft targets such as multiple-rocket launchers (MRLs). (See Figure 6.)
Myth #2--It takes 50 artillery rounds to destroy or damage a tank. Not true. It takes one round (Figure 7). If an artillery battalion engages an armored formation (54 rounds), more than one tank will be destroyed or damaged.
Myth #3--Artillery cannot engage moving targets. It is difficult, but it can be done. The issue is not lethality, but the tactics, techniques and procedures to hit the moving target. Units must train to shift fires.
Myth #4--Modern armor cannot be defeated by artillery. Tanks are designed to kill tanks, and most of the armor is designed to protect against direct fire. HE rounds. with VT or delayed fuze and DPICM are very capable of defeating "modern" armor (Figure 8).
Myth #5--Armored vehicles can button up and drive through artillery fire. Yes, they can. But as soon as they button up, their ability to see is reduced by approximately 40 percent. And as they drive through the artillery fire, there is a high probability they will have mobility and firepower damage or that the formation will change its direction of attack. The results are delay and suppression of armor.
Conclusion. The Field Artillery earned its reputation as "The Greatest Killer on the Battlefield" during World War II. That reputation was built on the artillery's ability to mass fires and respond with rapid, accurate fires for maneuver plus the belief that the artillery could destroy any target on the battlefield. The same capability exists today.
It is the responsibility of every Field Artilleryman to know the branch capabilities--to reject the myths about artillery effectiveness against armor--and ensure the force commander makes the most of his firepower assets in combat.
Major (Retired) George A. Durham has been Deputy Director of the Depth and Simultaneous Attack (D&SA) Battle Lab at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, since May 1992. His previous assignment was as Director of the Soviet Artillery Effects Study in the Directorate of Combat Developments in the Field Artillery School, also at Fort Sill. George Durham was the Executive Officer for a Department of the Army Special Action Team for Corps Support Weapons Systems, developing the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS). Before retiring from the Army, he served as the Executive Officer of the 4th Battalion, 4th Field Artillery, Ill Corps Artillery at Fort Sill and commanded two batteries. He's a graduate of the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
|May 19th, 2010||#5|
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Now the British 17 pounder would take out a Tiger and they fitted these to some Shermans and Churchills. The Germans would always try and take out the tanks with the extra long barrel first in case it was a 17 pounder. The 17 pounder had been brought in to stop tanks and was mainly an artillery piece and only later did they try and fit it into the tanks to give them a chance against the Tigers.
LeEnfield Rides again
|May 19th, 2010||#6|
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As I understand it, the 17 pounder went in the firefly, a modified Sherman, and the brits had 1 firefly per platoon. The Churchill turret was too small and the "black prince" didn't see combat (17 pounder armed churchill, much modified.)
The 17 pounder was always an AT gun.
When armed with a 3-inch gun the US Shermans had a small chance of taking out tigers.
I am curious as to examples of Tigers running out of gas in combat.
|May 20th, 2010||#7|
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|May 21st, 2010||#8|
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Long story short: Between a divorce and 4 moves, my private library is not what it used to be. I am looking for material to cite for another project.
Searching the Internet has been frustrating as most of my results send me to "buy this book"
My local library branch has three shelves of books, mostly children's and romances, and several carrels with terminals. hence, my access to information is very, very limited.
I am quite aware of the limits of the Tiger. I am trying to make a case, but I can't just spout opinions.
|May 21st, 2010||#9|
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It was mainly at the battle of the Bulge when the Tigers ran out of petrol. The Allied Air Force had smashed many of the plants and fuel depots which left them struggling fuel, and they had hoped to capture what they wanted The other time this happen was Falsie pocket in Normandy when the allies did one their only encircling moments of war.
|May 23rd, 2010||#10|
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Another interesting topic.
Personally I believe that having the best quality equipment isnt as important in war as its made out to be, having the right equipment at the right time and place is what matters. And having the right amount, "Quantity is a quality of its own" goes the old Soviet saying, and I think its sums it up pretty well.
The Sherman wasnt a bad tank. It was easy, fast and pretty cheap to manufacture. It was also reliable, easy to maintain and repair and reasonably fast with good fuel economy. This meant there was high availability of Sherman tanks in most battle situations.
However in 1944 when it was introduced to combat in mainland Europe its design was somewhat outdated. The body and turret had a high profile, making it an easy target to spot and hit. It lacked sloped armour and the armour thickness was too low to withstand most german AT-weapons and tank guns at reasonable range. The main gun was a 75 mm low-velocity weapon adapted more to firing HE shells at bunkers and trenches than knocking out enemy tanks.
In American armoured warfare doctrine taking out enemy tanks was the job of specialised tank destroyers such as the M-10 and M-36, while the Sherman should be used for infantry support mainly. While this might sound good in theory it usually got a lot messier in practice on the battlefield with Shermans pitted against stronger german tanks, and the tank destroyers mixed up in infantry support duties.
Given its drawbacks i'd still say the Sherman crews performed reasonably well, in many occasions manuevering into range and positions that enabled them to take out german tanks. Their losses were quite high though.
In a 1-on-1 standoff against a Tiger or Panther i'd say a Sherman has little chance on paper, being a welterweight fighter put against a heavyweight. Both they Tiger and Panther are heavy tanks (even though the Panther formally was classed as medium) while the Sherman is an early-war-design medium tank. In a simulations such as a wargame it would give a very slim chance for the Sherman to win.
Over a prolonged campaign though the Sherman, coupled with the might of the American logistics machine, would be fairly certain to win. Losses would be higher, but the ability to absorb them would be much more so.
Perhaps in a wargame a higher number of units/logistics score or similar for the US player would even things out.
Criticism against the Tigers and Panthers come pretty much as a mirror image of the Sherman. They were (mostly) very good on the actual battlefield, but there were never enough of them available when it really mattered due to being in disrepair, out of fuel or simply not manufactured/distributed.