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Historical Discussion: More Tigers; Good or Bad?

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Matthew J35U5 #1 Posted 23 September 2014 - 04:24 AM

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So the above scenario is literally a joke I made in a different thread, but I thought I would make a serious discussion out of it. When people discuss the Tiger, they often assert that it was a very good tank, but was unavailable in sufficient numbers to really affect the war. I would assert, in parallel with my joke above, that changing Germany's priorities to producing more Tigers instead of producing the equivalent number of Pz. IV's, StuG III's or Panthers would have ultimately have resulted in a faster defeat for Germany rather than the opposite. 
  • The Tiger was very expensive in terms of materials and in terms of man-hours. I made up the comment about Tiger's being twice as expensive to produce as IS-2's, but the IS-2 was certainly less expensive despite being a better vehicle (though crew quality, doctrine and command could certainly allow inferior Tiger's to defeat superior IS-2's)
  • The Tiger's were, while not unreliable, very dependant on maintenance, with I believe each unit of Tigers requiring a company-sized maintenance unit. (I apologize for the lack of precision here. I know that generally Tigers required larger than normal maintenance support, though I don't know the correct terms)
  • Even if Tigers were able to be fielded in large numbers, I think it is likely that the Soviets would have been capable of fielding a T-34 variant that could beat it, the T-34-85 of course could penetrate the Tiger's armour easily, and the T-34-57 was capable of penetrating the armour of Tigers, but weren't mass-produced because there was simply no need for the 57's better ballistic characteristics at the time, and by the time it would be necessary the T-34-85 was a better replacement.
  • The Tiger was a tank designed for a role that didn't exist by the time it would be available in great numbers (I.e. If it were mass-produced as I suggested), the Wehrmacht would be most often on the defensive and a breakthrough tank doesn't seem as valuable as more StuG III's for example
  • Because how each Tiger was individually handcrafted (I think this is a poor word choice), production would be very slow even with all resources assigned to building it

 

So to sum up, if when the Tiger was introduced the Germans had focused solely on producing it rather than producing a small quantity for a specialized purpose, the Germans would have had a much smaller quantity of tanks available, despite having fewer tanks available they still would have required significant amounts of logistical support,the tank itself would be trying to fill a role it wasn't intended for, and it would have not only been significantly worse than the comparable tank fielded by the Soviets (IS-2, for the sake of discussion, the IS-2 mod. 1944), but it would have been, in practice, as vulnerable to the T-34-57 as the T-34-57 was to the Tiger. (Although arguably 88 mm shells are more likely to score kills on penetrating hits than 57's. I wouldn't know about that).

 

My conclusion would thus be that fielding more Tigers, contrary to popular opinion. Would actively harm the Panzerwaffe.


KeystoneCops, on 14 June 2015 - 12:51 PM, said:


I3iggus Nickus #2 Posted 23 September 2014 - 04:38 AM

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They were better defenders then attackers.

I would have fielded them in smaller numbers and utilize their long range capabilities, while having highly trained crews use them.


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Matthew J35U5 #3 Posted 23 September 2014 - 04:39 AM

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I apologize for bad formatting, forums are not working for my iPad at the moment.

 

Pin the chart below, the second column contains the ballistic characteristics of the T-34-57's potential armament. At common engagement ranges the regular AP would be completely sufficient, and at longer ranges sub-caliber rounds easily had enough penetration to go through a Tiger (though accuracy could be an issue at longer ranges). The 85 mm two down from the 57 is the T-34-85's gun, which insufficient to penetrate a Tiger at all likely engagement ranges.

 

(Insufficient in above sentence should be, "is sufficient". Blame the forums for being broken.

 

Penetration chart

 


KeystoneCops, on 14 June 2015 - 12:51 PM, said:


KawaiiKonChan #4 Posted 23 September 2014 - 05:09 AM

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If I was a general, I would line up Tigers near the rear along with the Jagdtigers for sniper support (If the battalion included Jagdtigers, if not then it would be the standard Stugs) while the Panters would be in the middle of the assault, surrounded by Pz. IVs for side support and flanking. If the battalion had Pz.IIIs then I would let them live up to their names as the German wolf packs and swarm the enemy. 

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STLxSTANG #5 Posted 27 September 2014 - 11:19 AM

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Matterz not because either way Uncle Sam was comin to spank dat azz.:trollface:

 

 

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Matthew J35U5 #6 Posted 27 September 2014 - 05:28 PM

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View PostSTLxSTANG, on 27 September 2014 - 07:19 AM, said:

Matterz not because either way Uncle Sam was comin to spank dat azz.:trollface:

 

I'm sure the Soviets were very grateful for the U.S. to fight the 5% of the Wehrmacht that the Soviets weren't steamrollering.

KeystoneCops, on 14 June 2015 - 12:51 PM, said:


Ralphs Dad #7 Posted 27 September 2014 - 06:06 PM

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I've always thought the Germans were using too many different types of vehicles. The were still using the panzer, II, III, IV chassis. Also when you include Panther and Tiger I (until 44?) and II and also Pz 35 (t) for the hetzer.

I know some were not used all the way through 39-45 however I think the Americans stuck mostly with the M4 chassis which surely gives you a standardisation through out the Army, easier to resupply, less types of parts to be manufactured etc.

Plus the Tiger was over engineered. Should have stuck with the Panther.



STLxSTANG #8 Posted 27 September 2014 - 11:01 PM

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The Soviets didnt steam role anything. They got pushed back to Stalingrad and won by attrition with their winter doing most of the work.


 

 

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Wraith Calling #9 Posted 28 September 2014 - 02:07 AM

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The Tigers were built around the incredible gun.  It was a long range 'stand off' and fire tank.  

 

The Germans also had a habit of over engineering all sorts of things.  They made huge tech advances, but obviously this seriously hampered production and field maintenance.  They used equipment and kept on using outdated equipment.  Towards the end of the war it was sometimes because they had no choice.  They would strip 2nd line units of the best equipment for the 1st line and 'elite' units.  They were still using horses to tow equipment from place to place.

 

T34-85s could only reliably punch through Tiger armor at 500 yards or closer, while Tigers could still do damage at 1000+ yards. Even in the late war after production of the Tigers ended those still in service faired well.  Especially against the American and British tanks.

 

I think one of the reasons that the Russians didn't continue to use the 57mm is the lack of direct fire support for infantry.  The HE for 57mm just doesn't produce as big of a bang as and 85mm HE round.  Unlike in WOT the amount of ammo carried by tanks was a bit more diverse.  Of the 55 rounds (sorry I don't remember the exact count 15 ready and 40 stored) or so of Ammo a T34-85 carried say 30 AP, 20 HE and maybe 5 APCR (or other special rounds).

 

 


 

 

MegaB0B0 #10 Posted 28 September 2014 - 02:12 AM

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Germany would have produce more VK-3002D and panthers than to make tigers if they are to attack, granted they should produce a few of them to defend and defend was where Tiger companies excel at doing.


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Matthew J35U5 #11 Posted 29 September 2014 - 12:13 PM

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View PostRalphs Dad, on 27 September 2014 - 02:06 PM, said:

I've always thought the Germans were using too many different types of vehicles. The were still using the panzer, II, III, IV chassis. Also when you include Panther and Tiger I (until 44?) and II and also Pz 35 (t) for the hetzer.

I know some were not used all the way through 39-45 however I think the Americans stuck mostly with the M4 chassis which surely gives you a standardisation through out the Army, easier to resupply, less types of parts to be manufactured etc.

Plus the Tiger was over engineered. Should have stuck with the Panther.

The Panther was also over-engineered. Guderian said, "Give me a T-34" and he got something that was completely unlike the T-34 in every way that mattered. It weighs as much as an IS-2 and has much less armour protection and a less useful gun. 

View PostSTLxSTANG, on 27 September 2014 - 07:01 PM, said:

The Soviets didnt steam role anything. They got pushed back to Stalingrad and won by attrition with their winter doing most of the work.

Yes, the Soviets were pushed back to Moscow, Stalingrad and Leningrad because mobilization takes time. The Soviets won by attrition because, despite having fewer resources than German-occupied Europe, they were able to make more effective use of what they had. 

Winter did not kill 95% of the Wehrmacht. 

 

View PostWraith Calling, on 27 September 2014 - 10:07 PM, said:

T34-85s could only reliably punch through Tiger armor at 500 yards meters or closer, while Tigers could still do damage at 1000+ yards meters. Even in the late war after production of the Tigers ended those still in service faired well.  Especially against the American and British tanks.

 

I think one of the reasons that the Russians didn't continue to use the 57mm is the lack of direct fire support for infantry.  The HE for 57mm just doesn't produce as big of a bang as and 85mm HE round.  Unlike in WOT the amount of ammo carried by tanks was a bit more diverse.  Of the 55 rounds (sorry I don't remember the exact count 15 ready and 40 stored) or so of Ammo a T34-85 carried say 30 AP, 20 HE and maybe 5 APCR (or other special rounds).

Most engagements don't take place that far out anyway. And while I am aware of the reason why the T-34-57 was not produced, were there 10,000 Tigers (or enough that every unit the Soviet Union fought had them), the T-34-57 would presumably have been produced if it was needed to prevent the Soviet Union from losing every tank engagement just because their main tank couldn't penetrate the armour of the enemy's main tank. When the Tiger is rare enough that any T-34-76 has more APCR rounds than they are likely to meet Tiger's that isn't a big deal. 

View PostMegaB0B0, on 27 September 2014 - 10:12 PM, said:

Germany would have produce more VK-3002D and panthers than to make tigers if they are to attack, granted they should produce a few of them to defend and defend was where Tiger companies excel at doing.

The Tiger was a breakthrough vehicle, it was intended for the attack. 


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lem891 #12 Posted 29 September 2014 - 03:00 PM

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What, do you even History Channel bro? The Tiger had a ten to one k/d ratio and could one 1v1 any tank irl.  Allies would get rekt. 

 

All joking aside apart from a possible minor morale setback to the Allies they would have had no real effect for better or worse. No matter what they were producing at that time they were producing no where near enough of it to have an adverse effect on the course of the war. On top of that they would have lacked they trained crews to really take advantage of the Tiger (or any other tank).

Would it have a negative impact on the Panzerwaffe? Yes. Would it have sped up the defeat of Germany? Probably not.



Matthew J35U5 #13 Posted 29 September 2014 - 03:11 PM

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View Postlem891, on 29 September 2014 - 11:00 AM, said:

What, do you even History Channel bro? The Tiger had a ten to one k/d ratio and could one 1v1 any tank irl.  Allies would get rekt. 

German accounting is best accounting. 


KeystoneCops, on 14 June 2015 - 12:51 PM, said:


KOBRAFREAK #14 Posted 29 September 2014 - 03:18 PM

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Tigers also had a situation that about every two to three numbered units some design was modified in the quest for the ultimate tank. On the battlefield no two were identical in design or features. 

RAGNAR0K N ROLL #15 Posted 29 September 2014 - 08:28 PM

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It's very very had to fight quantity with quality.

Even moreso when you have machines that are so needlessly complex that you have to have a good bit of training to use one properly let alone keep it in working order in the field.

I love German armor and warplanes more than any other but even I have to say that more tigers would not be the best use of resources. Heck I think the KT and the Jagdtiger are beautiful machines but they had too many issues to be effective even at 5 times the numbers.


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Assassin3Fox #16 Posted 29 September 2014 - 09:12 PM

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The Tiger was for all practical purposes impervious to the M4 on the Western front and extremely resistant to fire on the Eastern front.  The ability to engage at extreme range was a serious problem even for the Soviets...for all of its vaunted reliability and mobility the T34 was not much of an upgrade over the Pz IV and when it was matched unsupported against the Tiger it was slaughtered in large numbers. 

 

The critical flaw in the Tiger (and to a lessor extent the Panther) was that it was literally too much tank for the fight.  The tank had too much armor, which lead to extreme weight (for the time)...extreme weight meant larger and more robust components to support the chassis...more gas...more parts...shorter life for power train and suspension.  Great so you are invulnerable to the enemy, can out gun anything he has, and can engage him at ranges where he can not even see you...fantastic...you can only be in one spot at a time and they have T34's everywhere. All the drawbacks of excessive weight and in most cases the armor was overkill.  It was a luxury in a time when the German economy was fighting for its life against two of the worlds most advanced industrialized nations...arguably 3 of the 5 most industrialized nations (the British industrial plant had taken a bit of a beating but was still churning and the Italian's struggled prior to and during the conflict).

 

That said, the German's could not have won the war with the PZ IV.  The Pz IV was obsolete at the outset.  I think it is fair to say that most historians credit the success of the German army in the first 2 years of the war to the fact that the Wehrmacht was on a war footing well in advance of the remainder of Europe coupled with superior execution of their armored force doctrine.  Once the front stabilized they needed the upgrade provided by the Panther. 

 

I know the Panther was over-engineered, too complex, and still a bit too much tank for it's time but not by much.  If Germany had dumped all other projects in favor of producing nothing but Panthers it is somewhat feasible that the German's could have stabilized the front to such a degree that further allied offensive operations (in the East) would be too costly to pursue.  Truthfully though even that is unlikely since the USSR was psychologically committed to the death of Germany.  Everyone discounts the effect of hate but by the time Germany reached Moscow the majority of Soviet citizens would have happily killed a German if the opportunity presented itself...I doubt that an excessive body count would have deterred the Red army at that point.

 

The Panther was at least a year too late to effect the outcome of the war. Once the USSR and the USA entered the conflict Germany's days were numbered.  The only hope for the German's was to end the war in the USSR before the US built up sufficient combat power in Theater.  When that didn't happen the conflict was over for all intents and purposes. 

 

I often wonder what would have happened if Japan had not hit Pearl Harbor.  The Germans would have retained North Africa possibly could have reduced their troop strength occupying the western front and the possibility exists that they could have taken Moscow by mid to late 1942.  Whether or not that would have been fast enough to push through to the Soviet's remaining industrialized areas is an open question.

 

 



Matthew J35U5 #17 Posted 29 September 2014 - 10:22 PM

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View PostWTX DEATHRIDE, on 29 September 2014 - 04:28 PM, said:

It's very very had to fight quantity with quality.

Even moreso when you have machines that are so needlessly complex that you have to have a good bit of training to use one properly let alone keep it in working order in the field.

I love German armor and warplanes more than any other but even I have to say that more tigers would not be the best use of resources. Heck I think the KT and the Jagdtiger are beautiful machines but they had too many issues to be effective even at 5 times the numbers.

Quite. When your "quality" machines are so outdone by the enemy's quality machines there isn't much you can do.

(That is to say, if there were enough Tigers and Panthers that the T-34 wasn't enough the IS-2 could have been produced in greater numbers and the T-44 could have replaced the T-34-85. As it was there weren't enough to even make it worth doing that)

View PostAssassin3Fox, on 29 September 2014 - 05:12 PM, said:

The Tiger was for all practical purposes impervious to the M4 on the Western front and extremely resistant to fire on the Eastern front.  The ability to engage at extreme range was a serious problem even for the Soviets...for all of its vaunted reliability and mobility the T34 was not much of an upgrade over the Pz IV and when it was matched unsupported against the Tiger it was slaughtered in large numbers. 

 

Which didn't happen all that often simply because of how rare Tigers were. Ironically I suppose, the Tiger only has such a fearsome reputation because it was never common enough to be worth switching from a 76 mm for the T-34 to a 57.

 

The critical flaw in the Tiger (and to a lessor extent the Panther) was that it was literally too much tank for the fight.  The tank had too much armor, which lead to extreme weight (for the time)...extreme weight meant larger and more robust components to support the chassis...more gas...more parts...shorter life for power train and suspension.  Great so you are invulnerable to the enemy, can out gun anything he has, and can engage him at ranges where he can not even see you...fantastic...you can only be in one spot at a time and they have T34's everywhere. All the drawbacks of excessive weight and in most cases the armor was overkill.  It was a luxury in a time when the German economy was fighting for its life against two of the worlds most advanced industrialized nations...arguably 3 of the 5 most industrialized nations (the British industrial plant had taken a bit of a beating but was still churning and the Italian's struggled prior to and during the conflict).

 

Changing the subject to the Panther for a moment, it seems like a horrible design for it to have such weak side armour. All well and good to be immune frontally, but the Panther's frontal armour would only protect it across a very narrow arc. The Tiger would at least be well protected for a good portion of the space in front of them.

 

That said, the German's could not have won the war with the PZ IV.  The Pz IV was obsolete at the outset.  I think it is fair to say that most historians credit the success of the German army in the first 2 years of the war to the fact that the Wehrmacht was on a war footing well in advance of the remainder of Europe coupled with superior execution of their armored force doctrine.  Once the front stabilized they needed the upgrade provided by the Panther. 

 

Obsolete is a bit harsh, considering the tanks fielded by comparable nations the Pz. IV and Pz. III were quite decent. Their initial configuration with 75 mm Howitzers and 37 mm AT guns was not so good, but the medium length 75 and the 5 cm they were re-armed with were reasonable. The Soviets were just quite a bit further ahead it seems. 

 

I know the Panther was over-engineered, too complex, and still a bit too much tank for it's time but not by much.  If Germany had dumped all other projects in favor of producing nothing but Panthers it is somewhat feasible that the German's could have stabilized the front to such a degree that further allied offensive operations (in the East) would be too costly to pursue. 

 

I doubt it. The Panther just wasn't all that effective. The Panther should have been the Tiger II built to a sane weight armed with an appropriately sized gun with an engine/transmission/drive train built for a 40-50 ton tank rather than a 30 ton tank. The Panther should have been what it was intended as, a copy of the T-34 to replace the Pz. IV. It's just horrible that the Soviet Union is able to build an IS-2, which has superior armour protection, a more powerful gun, comparable mobility, and weighs about the same amount. 

 

Truthfully though even that is unlikely since the USSR was psychologically committed to the death of Germany.  Everyone discounts the effect of hate but by the time Germany reached Moscow the majority of Soviet citizens would have happily killed a German if the opportunity presented itself...I doubt that an excessive body count would have deterred the Red army at that point.

 

"We shall kill. If you have not killed at least one German a day, you have wasted that day... Do not count days; do not count miles. Count only the number of Germans you have killed."

 

The Panther was at least a year too late to effect the outcome of the war. Once the USSR and the USA entered the conflict Germany's days were numbered.  The only hope for the German's was to end the war in the USSR before the US built up sufficient combat power in Theater.  When that didn't happen the conflict was over for all intents and purposes. 

 

 

I often wonder what would have happened if Japan had not hit Pearl Harbor.  The Germans would have retained North Africa possibly could have reduced their troop strength occupying the western front and the possibility exists that they could have taken Moscow by mid to late 1942.  Whether or not that would have been fast enough to push through to the Soviet's remaining industrialized areas is an open question.

 

I think it would be unlikely that Germany could have taken Moscow. Fighting the Soviet Union that far from their logistical base and so close to the Soviet's would not have gone well at any rate. I think that without the U.S. Entering the war you have the Soviet Union occupying all of Europe instead of only half.

 


KeystoneCops, on 14 June 2015 - 12:51 PM, said:


Assassin3Fox #18 Posted 30 September 2014 - 02:58 PM

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View PostMatthew J35U5, on 29 September 2014 - 06:22 PM, said:

Changing the subject to the Panther for a moment, it seems like a horrible design for it to have such weak side armour. All well and good to be immune frontally, but the Panther's frontal armour would only protect it across a very narrow arc. The Tiger would at least be well protected for a good portion of the space in front of them.

 

I doubt it. The Panther just wasn't all that effective. The Panther should have been the Tiger II built to a sane weight armed with an appropriately sized gun with an engine/transmission/drive train built for a 40-50 ton tank rather than a 30 ton tank. The Panther should have been what it was intended as, a copy of the T-34 to replace the Pz. IV. It's just horrible that the Soviet Union is able to build an IS-2, which has superior armour protection, a more powerful gun, comparable mobility, and weighs about the same amount. 

 

I think it would be unlikely that Germany could have taken Moscow. Fighting the Soviet Union that far from their logistical base and so close to the Soviet's would not have gone well at any rate. I think that without the U.S. Entering the war you have the Soviet Union occupying all of Europe instead of only half.

 

With regard to the Panther's weak side armor...if you want to fill the role required given the limitations of the time you had to be weak somewhere.  Making the frontal armor very stout and the side armor weak really fit the German national temperament at the time and truthfully was a better fit for the open field engagements that the German designers expected to encounter.  To me, the number one failing in the armoring arrangement was placing a large amount of ammunition storage in the sponsoons behind the very weak armor. It's one thing to make a considered trade off in the armoring arrangements it's another thing entirely to then transform your weakness into an achillies heel.  Aside from the ammunition issue, the armor arrangement of the Panther is really not a significant issue it was more than adequate for tank combat in all situations except heavily broken terrain or a city scape.

 

The biggest failure of the design was the suspension and power train arrangements.  Anyone who would willingly put forward an interleaved road wheel design has never had to pull any maintenance on an AFV or produce the thing.  Every road wheel axle requires an an arm and bearing attachment, in one fell swoop they have managed to double the amount of welding and labor to produce the suspension and have cut the space required for the installation in half making it even more difficult to produce.  Worse still is the maintenance. Even without interleaving a broken torsion bar is a nightmare to fix in the field...now you are creating a situation where half the time in order to change out one bar you also have to pull the wheels off two good ones.  Frequently when pulling the wheels off you can damage the arms and/or bars and it is a heavy sweaty job.  If the ground is a little out of sorts you will sometimes find yourself in the position of requiring a crane/lift in order to get the wheels back on. It is a ridiculous design.  Then they make an engine as compact as possible with the block made from aluminum? So you are in a war for national survival and you decide to construct an engine in a manner that is going to create cooling problems from a material that is both difficult to work, difficult to repair?

 

If you pay attention to the design nearly everything in the tank is too complex and it resulted in a large number being lost to mechanical reasons. 

 

The reason I maintain that it was still the best chance for a German victory was the PZ IV was inferior to the T34 and KV1 in combat performance.  The German's needed something that could outplay both of these tanks at a tactical level at the front at the cheapest cost possible.  By most accounts in spite of all the additional complexity in the design the Panther had the firepower to take pretty much anything it ran into and only cost about 15-20% more than the PZ IV to produce.  As far as it's lack of effectiveness goes it was always outnumbered in any engagement and by the time it hit the field the German Army was heavily engaged on both fronts.

 

As far as taking Moscow...you might be right.  The German Army was halted at the edge of the city in the winter of 1941.  The key point to consider though is in December of 1941 the Germans were forced to confront the fact that the US was soon entering the war and had to strategically realign their force distribution.  At the same time the Soviets were rebuilding and rearming their forces from factories located in rear areas.  My only point here is if they were able to focus only on the eastern front the may have been able to take moscow and had that happened many of the same issues that Germany had in the later stages of 1943 would have applied to the Soviets.  Increasing difficulty in obtaining and moving raw materials, ammunition, gasoline and other supplies. Increasing difficulty in manufacturing tanks and new vehicles.

 

As I said I think the Panther was a year too late (1943).  Had the Germans possessed the tank in sufficient numbers for the summer campaign of 1942 and the US not entered the war it is possible that it could have a different outcome but once the US entered it was a foregone conclusion.  The Soviets likely could have taken Germany on it's own but with a substantially higher body count and it probably would have taken at least three additional years.



TKoddaL33 #19 Posted 30 September 2014 - 04:24 PM

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The Tigers from a German soldier's view point was very good, but so slow they had to hide or would get shot by fighter planes, would get bogged down due to its weight so other Tigers had to pull it out, breaking down a lot causing it to be abandoned. 

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The price of each Country, (U.S., U.S.S.R. and Germany), to produce each tank (in todays dollars) says a lot. Sherman, about $30k each. T34, about $60k each, Tiger, about $200K (!) each. America made them by the boat-load because they had automation on their side. Soviets did too. Soviet automotive heavy industry assembly line production was made in the 1920's by Americans. The price of T34's actually decreased over time as the Soviets made them cheaper and cheaper as the lifespan of their tank was roughly 6 months they projected and if in a battle, only 14 hours. They were the masters of planned obsolesce. No component in a T34 was engineered to outlast the tank. This was brilliant as it put more tanks on the battlefield. I saw a T34 at Bovington's tank museum. Rough as S**T is a nice way to put it. It worked, had a powerful gun on it, and was cheap. The perfect recipe. Germany made the Tigers like fine automobiles. They had stringent quality control and needed to be built by master craftsman. Had Germany put their excellent 88mm gun in a tank half as armored and as cheap as possible, and not attack Russia breaking their peace with them, Germany may have won the war, or at least been able to keep all of Europe for themselves. 

 


Edited by KOBRAFREAK, 30 September 2014 - 04:28 PM.





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