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Can 20 Sherman tanks defeat 10 Tigers?ūüßź

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On 9/14/2019 at 5:45 AM, EAF_Starfire said:

 

 

 

The Tiger was designed as a Break-Through tank, and as such the amount of needed numbers the were thought not to be very great.

It was also this reason the cost and maintenance issues where not thought of as an issue.

 

 

The armature tank researcher Nicolas Moran describes this a lot better than I can ūüėČ

 

 

Thats the same guy who I heard from that Americans only met like 3 Tigers in France! It was actually ever since 6th June.1944 to defeat of Germany. American tankers  only ever saw Tiger 3 times in North-West Europe. Here is a link to the video. Skip to 28.50.

 

 

Edited by Torrens

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7 hours ago, unreasonable said:

@MiloMorai Question on that table:  I assume that is measuring the number serviceable over the number on hand - not the number in establishment. Is that right?

 

Ie if your battalion Orbat strength was 50 tanks, of which you had 40 on hand after some were written off in combat, of which 30 were operational, the percentage shown would be 75%, not 50%. 

 

 

The Jentz book should clarify.

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I drove with 30 AI Tigers and was able to kill 600 Sherman's. Unless the Sherman's can get behind the tiger at under 100 yards. They stand no chance. The 8.8cm L/56 can take out a Sherman at over 2500 yards. Do the math. 

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22 hours ago, skpcarey1 said:

I saw somewhere (history channel Doc?)whittman was taken out by a british anti tank gun/unit

That was a Sherman VC Firefly. With the 17 Pounder. That can take out a Tiger. But only 2000 or so of the 50,000 Sherman's where Firefly's 

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On 12/30/2019 at 3:11 PM, VacMaster1991 said:

That was a Sherman VC Firefly. With the 17 Pounder. That can take out a Tiger. But only 2000 or so of the 50,000 Sherman's where Firefly's 

In the Documentary they even found whittmans commanders hatch indentified it (serial numbers)and other parts of his Tiger and according to the Documentary no one really knew what happened to whittman

the brit gunners (AT Gunners 3 crews) didnt know who they took out (3 Tigers)until the investigators went back to the field and dug up the hatch and other evidence confirming it was Whittman  according to the documentary.Supposedly until this investigation No one actually knew what happened to Whittmans 3 tigers.

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Posted (edited)
On 9/10/2019 at 6:51 AM, Finkeren said:

What I wonder is: How many times during the war were the Germans actually able to field 10 Tigers in one place at one time against British/American forces? 

 

Could the same question not be asked of the Firefly? Were they prolific?

 

I read somewhere once that the allies had a 12 - 1 attrition expectation when Sherman's faced Tigers. If given the choice, in what would you prefer to be sitting in a real battle...a Tiger or a Tommy cooker? :biggrin:

Edited by Pict

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1 hour ago, Pict said:

... given the choice, in what would you prefer to be sitting in a real battle...a Tiger or a Tommy cooker? :biggrin:

 

Definitely the Tommy Cooker, because it would mean, that my side would be vastly superior in numbers and logistics and in all likelihood, I would never even see a Tiger, let alone have to face one in combat. And even if things should take a turn for the worse, the Sherman arguably had the best crew survivability of any tank once penetrated. 

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5 hours ago, Finkeren said:

the Sherman arguably had the best crew survivability of any tank once penetrated. 

 

Your a brave fellow, but this documentary would argue against that, with both 1st hand witness accounts and ammunition testing by military specialists.

 

 

For me it's a no-brainer. Should all else be equal, I'd be sitting safe and sound behind 100mm of Krupps steel scoping with my 88mm gun rather than being live bait in a tin can with a peashooter mounted on it :) 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Pict said:

 

Could the same question not be asked of the Firefly? Were they prolific?

 

I read somewhere once that the allies had a 12 - 1 attrition expectation when Sherman's faced Tigers. If given the choice, in what would you prefer to be sitting in a real battle...a Tiger or a Tommy cooker? :biggrin:

 

In the Normandy Campaign the standard organization in British and Canadian units was one Firefly per troop of four tanks. By the end of the year the numbers were closer to 2 Fireflies per troop.  They were much more common than Tigers. Essentially, every time the Germans encountered a British or Canadian tank unit equipped with Shermans, they would encounter a Firefly. 

 

The attrition rate mostly reflects the fact that the Allies were attacking almost of the time: if you have any tank (or TA gun) in a well concealed, hull down position it is going to make hits before it can be identified and hit back.  When the Germans attacked in the open against British/Can tank units, they too suffered heavy losses.  

Edited by unreasonable

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10 hours ago, Pict said:

 

Your a brave fellow, but this documentary would argue against that, with both 1st hand witness accounts and ammunition testing by military specialists.

 

 

For me it's a no-brainer. Should all else be equal, I'd be sitting safe and sound behind 100mm of Krupps steel scoping with my 88mm gun rather than being live bait in a tin can with a peashooter mounted on it :) 

 

But all else was NOT equal. Most Allied tank crews never had to engage a German heavy tank. And it's a verifiable fact, that the crew of a Sherman had a much, much better chance of surviving the war than the crew of a Tiger. 

 

Also: Be very, very careful trusting documentaries like that. They are far more preoccupied with constructing a compelling narrative than actual historical realities. 

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Posted (edited)

Yes, yes we know what actually happen to the Tiger tank in the end and how it happened and it was largely due to the fact that things were far from equal. My question was not about the overall picture or the average tank crew, but a hypothetical one where things were equal and it was a choice that nobody ever had as to which tin can to sit in :)

 

Many times standard gunned Sherman's came face to face with superior opponents, be it Tigers, Panthers or Panzer IV's, or even anti-tank guns. Their crews never had the choice, but if it was me and I had the choice, I know I wouldn't open a Sherman's hatch, let alone sit in it on a battlefield.

 

Almost all documentaries try to push a preconceived narrative at some point, but that doesn't mean that they are of no value at all. The crew interviews I found the most interesting and the most telling.

 

10 hours ago, unreasonable said:

In the Normandy Campaign the standard organization in British and Canadian units was one Firefly per troop of four tanks. By the end of the year the numbers were closer to 2 Fireflies per troop.  They were much more common than Tigers. Essentially, every time the Germans encountered a British or Canadian tank unit equipped with Shermans, they would encounter a Firefly. 

 

As I understood it, the Firefly was a stop gap measure hurried onto the field after the standard Sherman had proven ineffective against German weapons, including the Tiger, Panther etc. So your right about the end and mid periods of the battle f Normandy, but you've omitted the opening rounds.

 

Anyhow, the Firefly only slightly leveled the playing field with it's gun, which was not always guarantied to penetrate Tigers and Panthers. The Firefly still had the same guarantied penetrable by Tiger, Panther and all the other toys the Germans had, hull of the parent Sherman. And they were now the 1st priority targets of any Sherman troop encountered.

 

I think Sherman crews in Normandy were cannon fodder, I think they knew it too.

Edited by Pict

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Posted (edited)

To be honest, I have little interest in 'all else being equal'-hypotheticals. Once you take all context away and look at pure numbers, you have abandoned any semblance of historical analysis and might just as well ask, if you would rather sit in a Tiger I or an M1 Abrams. 

 

The Sherman was a great tank for the war the US was fighting, because it could readily be deployed and operated in large numbers anywhere in the world. A one-to-one comparison to one of the monstrous German heavies is meaningless. 

Edited by Finkeren

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Finkeren said:

To be honest, I have little interest in 'all else being equal'-hypotheticals.

 

That much is clear :)

 

I find them interesting and helpful to understand the whole complex scenario, as did those designing the weapons at the time. After all if they omitted to imagine an all things being equal scenario between the Tiger and the Sherman, it would have been a fiasco...what am saying, they did and it was for the crews of the Sherman's.

 

Edited by Pict

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Posted (edited)

But let's, for the sake of argument, put your question in a somewhat realistic historical context: A single troop of Shermans with a single Firefly having to assault a position held by a single well-positioned Tiger, neither side being backed by infantry with any significant anti-tank capability and neither being able to call in artillery strikes or air support. 

 

In that case, the choice is not as obvious. I'm not liking the odds for the Tiger crew, being outnumbered 5-to-1 is never a good position to be in, but neither can any of the Allies crews feel particularly safe. 

 

In the end, I'd probably still take the Firefly, for the simple reason, that you have 4 other tanks at your disposal and 5 times the number of eyes scouting for targets, and that's just such a big advantage, that I really can't pass on it. 

 

Having seen your target without being spotted yourself is the biggest advantage you can have in an armored engagement. It is situations like that that lead to stuff like light armored scout cars defeating King Tigers. 

 

 

Edited by Finkeren

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Pict said:

 

As I understood it, the Firefly was a stop gap measure hurried onto the field after the standard Sherman had proven ineffective against German weapons, including the Tiger, Panther etc. So your right about the end and mid periods of the battle f Normandy, but you've omitted the opening rounds.

 

Anyhow, the Firefly only slightly leveled the playing field with it's gun, which was not always guarantied to penetrate Tigers and Panthers. The Firefly still had the same guarantied penetrable by Tiger, Panther and all the other toys the Germans had, hull of the parent Sherman. And they were now the 1st priority targets of any Sherman troop encountered.

 

I think Sherman crews in Normandy were cannon fodder, I think they knew it too.

 

Everything in war time weapon development is a "stop gap measure". Tanks on both sides were continuously up-armoured and up-gunned: you took whatever seemed to work at the time. Standard early Shermans were first used by the British at El Alamein where they were considerably superior to almost everything the Germans had.

 

The Firefly's 17lb gun had better armour penetration than either the Tiger's 88 or the Panther's 75.  

The Tiger and Panther gun were not guaranteed to penetrate Sherman front armour,  according to the German Army's own weapons R&D section.  

 

"A¬†Waffenamt-Pr√ľfwesen 1¬†report estimated[90]¬†that with the M4 angled 30 degrees sidewards, the Sherman's glacis plate was invulnerable to shots from the Tiger's 8.8¬†cm KwK 36 L/56[91]¬†and that the Panther, with its 7.5¬†cm KwK 42 L/70, would have to close in to 100 meters (110¬†yd) to achieve a penetration in the same situation.[92"

 

Fireflies may have been priority targets, but they had lower attrition rates due to the way they were used. Lacking an HE round, but with outstanding anti- armour capabilities, they were used in overwatch positions while the standard models were forwards. Which, BTW, was how German commanders were encouraged to use their Tiger companies.

 

All allied tank crews in Normandy and after took high casualties, but this was not just specifically to do with Tigers or Panthers, which were fairly rare and constantly under air attack anyway. The real problem for tankers was advancing into areas infested with AT guns and later on hand held weapons with HEAT rounds that could penetrate anything.

 

Edit cut - uncalled for: grumpy old man syndrome.

 

 

Edited by unreasonable

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12 minutes ago, unreasonable said:

Everything in war time weapon development is a "stop gap measure".

 

Sure thing, however the 17 pounder did not stop the initial gap, the one you overlooked earlier. I pretty much agree with all you've said, just wanted to highlight the overlooked gap.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Pict said:

Tiger or a Tommy cooker? :biggrin:

M4A3E2 (76) "Jumbo"
101mm@47¬į¬†front armour with¬†76mm gun with great accuracy. Ability to penetrate Tigers front plate at about 1¬†km (2¬†km with rare ammunition) while being relatively safe from the 88mm KwK36/L56 above about 500m¬†(unless it¬†hit the scope or somehting). Wet storage ammuniton also makes it less likely to burn.

M4A3E2-picture-006-640x370.jpeg

Edited by Fliegel

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37 minutes ago, Fliegel said:

M4A3E2 (76) "Jumbo"

 

Only 254 built, so it was very common, the first 128 arriving in France on the 22nd of September 1944, just in time for the D-Day landings :rolleyes:

 

Too little too late to be considered a Tommy cooker, so it's literally out of the question :biggrin: 

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22 minutes ago, Pict said:

 

Only 254 built, so it was very common, the first 128 arriving in France on the 22nd of September 1944, just in time for the D-Day landings :rolleyes:

 

Too little too late to be considered a Tommy cooker, so it's literally out of the question :biggrin: 

Still more than there were Tigers on the West Front. 

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Posted (edited)
35 minutes ago, Finkeren said:

Still more than there were Tigers on the West Front. 

 

At least those Tigers were on the Western front at the time in question and not in the USA :P

 

11 hours ago, Finkeren said:

Having seen your target without being spotted yourself is the biggest advantage you can have in an armored engagement. It is situations like that that lead to stuff like light armored scout cars defeating King Tigers.

 

A hand grenade, a Molotov cocktail or even a well placed box of itching powder can defeat a King Tiger, or any other tank in this situation :rolleyes:

Edited by Pict

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11 hours ago, Pict said:

A hand grenade, a Molotov cocktail or even a well placed box of itching powder can defeat a King Tiger, or any other tank in this situation :rolleyes:

 

Indeed. Though in this case it was the M8's main gun that did the job. 

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On 9/10/2019 at 5:31 AM, Finkeren said:

At the engagement ranges shown in the video, the overall accuracy, trajectory or sight magnification of the tanks shouldn't really matter. Distances here seem to be less than 1000m, which means that neither tank would have trouble killing the other from any angle. In that case it gives a massive advantage to the side with twice the number of gun barrels and twice the number of eyes looking out for targets - unless they do what they do in the video and advance with the entire force line abreast across an open field right into the fire from the mostly stationary Tigers in hull-down position.

 

The way the Firefly was usually deployed was as a sniper taking out the German tanks from a concealed stationary position, while the other tanks of the platoon drew the German fire. Fireflys should not be advancing en masse like that. 

 

Yes and no.  Allies were generally advancing so the Firefly would not have the luxury of sitting in an ambush position.  It would have no other choice than to advance with all the rest.  The British mixed Fireflies in with standard Shermans, as the Firefly was not great at much of anything else.  The Germans were aware of the Firefly and would target the Sherman with the long barrel first.  The British actually painted the barrels to make them look shorter.  

 

In the end there is ideal and there is reality.  The tanks had to do things called for by the situation that were often not ideal.  Wittman's Viller Bocage rampage is a good example of doing something not ideal that worked.  Taking unsupported armor at close range is not the ideal use of a Tiger, but with the Tiger's armor, it worked.  Wittman's death and the loss of most of his platoon is the same thing with obviously different results.  In each case he did what he thought was needed but that kind of armored charge was not conducive to a long life.  The British in particular were famous for letting armor run in front of infantry, often with predictably bad results.  So ... there is doctrine and there is reality, and often they do not mesh very nicely.

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Posted (edited)
On 1/5/2020 at 3:04 AM, Finkeren said:

Having seen your target without being spotted yourself is the biggest advantage you can have in an armored engagement. It is situations like that that lead to stuff like light armored scout cars defeating King Tigers. 

 

I am not sure how thick that Turret shell ejection hatch is,  but if it is 80mm , the video is vague, just says rear armor 80mm. ( What I read, at work can't listen to audio right now )

 

What I am sure, is that if that hatch is 80mm  the greyhound didn't, and couldn't penetrate it.   Also looking at the  close up of the hole in that hatch,  I think it's  fairly obvious that it was bored or machined out, and not the result of a shell penetration.   Anecdotal evidence is  shaky at best.   From What I see,  that KT was not taken out by a greyhound from the rear.  But, when I can listen later, I will.   The rest of the production is well made,  but I believe it is just that,  a production.

 

So I went to Youtube, saw the video there and read some of the comments.  1 guy says the story he read before was it was a Tiger,  driving on a sunken road,  and a greyhound firing  from the berm, angled down at the top of the engine cover, which makes  sense, as top armor  is definately not 80MM.

 

So by just watching the video without audio it  looks just just another deceptively edited video, which it is,   when the reality is probably the story that was related in the comment section of a 37mm cannon firing at the rear of the tank,   but the top rear of the engine, not at the 80mm of rear armor that is mentioned

Edited by JG1_Wittmann
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22 hours ago, JG1_Wittmann said:

- snip - 

 

Regardless of the details of how exactly the M8 managed to destroy the King Tiger, my point was, that this was only possible due to the crew of the M8 spotting the Tiger first and managing to achieve complete surprise. The only reason I brought up that story was as an example of how important situational awareness is in combat. 

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Posted (edited)

All I will say is that it depends on the situation.

 What Sherman variant, whats the terrain like, who spots first, who shoots first, etc.

The Tiger wasnt some super tank that people like to think it was, just like the Sherman wasn't a death trap/poor tank that people like to claim. Both tanks served a purpose and they could both kill each other depending on the situation.

Edited by Legioneod
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Just to put the whole issue into perspective, here's another of Mark Felton's excellent documentary short:

 

 

Basically it was not until November 1944 that American forces met Tiger 

Is in actual combat. The British met them in Normandy, but it was rare with only 6 Tiger tanks in all of France on June 6th. 

 

Despite this there are literally hundreds of combat reports detailing encounters with Tiger tanks which either weren't Tigers or simply didn't happen. 

 

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1 hour ago, Finkeren said:

 


 The British met them in Normandy, but it was rare with only 6 Tiger tanks in all of France on June 6th. 

 

 

Where did you get that? It is not true and seriously misleading.  From "Tigers in Combat" by Schneider:

 

Bt 101:  1st June 44 In training near Amiens 37 operational out of 45 on hand.  So that gives a fairly standard serviceability rate for when not moving fast or in combat of ~80%  It only takes a loose connection in the radio set for a tank to be non-operational for the day. 

 

By 12th June the 1 and 2 companies have reached assembly area in Normandy, with 8 and 6 Tigers operational respectively:  8+6 = 14 / 26 = 54% - so that is an indication of serviceability after long approach march on tracks (from Paris).

 

Two other Tiger Battalions were attached to the German forces facing the British/Canadian sector in Normandy arriving a little later. They were in action in that sector almost constantly and heavily involved in all of the major actions.  

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On 9/10/2019 at 6:45 PM, Fliegel said:


That is probably for the road though. The crossroad is another thing.
And by my numbers Firefly has top speed of 22.25 miles per hour* (36km/h) so is still slower than the Tiger.

*David Fletcher - Firefly
*Supposedly WO 194 http://www.wwiiequipment.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=69:the-sherman-medium-tank&catid=46:tanks&Itemid=57

Its important to point out that even a standard M4 had much worse ground pressure than a Tiger (13.7 psi vs 10.8 psi) and the tiger also had the better PWR. (Numbers pulled from wiki). The firefly would have had worse ground pressure due to the increased weight. It would not be until the HVSS suspension came along that the sherman would have a lower ground pressure. 

 

On 9/13/2019 at 10:27 PM, SCG_judgedeath3 said:

A common mistake during the normandy and western front battles were a lot of troops mistook the Panzer IV for a tiger tank due to similair design, square shaped tank, 90 degree armour, long gun, and similair look at long range and soldiers arent tank experts and barely even know the look of all their own designs, hence why one has officers and inteligence trying to support info for the units what they might face. Soldiers will be soldiers as they say :P

Exactly! If i had a dollar for every AAR in the US archives where a "Tiger" was reported as knocked out, i'd have enough money to refurbish my own WWII tank! Case and point. AARs are unfortunately not very reliable for this kind of information -- something we also see with aircraft claims often being inflated. We have a reasonable degree of certainty with the 3 encounters between US tanks and Tigers during the ETO since there was a lot of data gathered by the US army counting the tanks knocked out and left on the battlefield. There could have been a few more encounters, but none have been verified such that a knocked-out Tiger can be placed in the location of the report. It is also important to note, as Unreasonable said, the UK and Canadian forces often encountered more Tigers. This would be expected since the Tiger encounters were primarily around Normandy, and at that time the UK and Canada made up more of the allied tank force than the US did. 

 

EDITS:

 

I wanted to just add some more thoughts on the original video. While i'm not an expert in tank tactics, i suspect from that scenario the Tigers would have likely won. The Tigers did start from a position allowing them to get the first shot (which is what tends to matter the most, assuming that your shot will penetrate the target, but even if it doesnt, you gain a massive advantage simply by scoring the first bounce). With the German sights their first shot accuracy should be rather high too. Another thing i noticed while watching that game is that there were many hits to the Fireflys which did not seem to result in damage. These could have been odd bounces -- the transmission cover is particularly thick on the M4 tanks and is also curved, while the curvature on the hull and turret creates some edges to the profile which could deflect shots which strike at severe angles -- but i think it was just modeling in that game. Fireflys particularly have it rough with taking hits because the large 17 pounder rounds couldnt make use of wet stowage, while the assistant driver's position was filled with shells too. I would expect that to further worsen the odds of the tank lighting up, but this is speculation since i havent seen data for it yet. Another thing i noticed is that the Firefly's rate of fire seemed pretty high. From what i have read loading the gun on the firefly was awkward due to the size of the rounds and the small turret size. 

 

Were the roles reversed i'd say the fireflys should likely win (barring any data someone might bring up if the firefly had terrible first-hit probability, but i havent seen anything about it) since i would speculate their numerical advantage in an ambush would allow them to make up for the lower first-hit probability. 

Edited by Kataphrakt

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