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LachenKrieg

Production date of in-game vehicles

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I was interested in determining the approximate production date for some of the in-game vehicles. The Tiger H1 modeled in-game for example is hard to pinpoint and could possibly be from anywhere between August 1942 to March 1943 when the version E was introduced, making the Tank Crew model of the Tiger the rarest version of this weapon system. Upgrades to the Tiger H1 till that point were largely mechanical and difficult to differentiate visually.

 

But the Panther Ausf. D modeled in Tank Crew is not as straight forward. The Tank Crew model is certainly not a copy of the initial production from January 1943, because of the Schurzen plates and rain channels over turret access ports which were only introduced in April/May. The armored pot on the rear deck covering the air intake tubes for deep wading equipment was apparently only installed between June and August, while smoke grenade launchers were deleted along with one of the Bosch headlights in June/July. All of this points to a June production variant as the most probable except for the updated bracket used to secure the jack block which is modeled on the Tank Crew Panther. This was only supposed to be introduced in July. The other conflicting piece is that rivets were added to some of the road wheels for extra strength in June, but it doesn't appear to be modeled on the Tank Crew Panther. We know for certain that it cannot be an August production because that month saw the addition of a mount for an anti-aircraft machine gun on the Commander's cupola, while the communications port on the left side of the turret was deleted.

 

The information source I used was Dennis Oliver's Panther Tanks, German army and Waffen-SS, Normandy Campaign 1944.

 

Anyone else able to determine which production version is modeled in Tank Crew? 

 

   

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Edited by LachenKrieg
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Taking a closer look at the Tiger H1 and the first 50 or so copies completed by the end of November 1942, we can see a number of period correct features included on the Tank Crew model of this vehicle.

 

For example, the first 8 units manufactured in August had a hinged flap attached to the top of each exhaust pipe, fasteners welded to the rear deck to secure cleaning rods, a storage tube for a spare antenna mounted on the right rear hull edge, and two holes cut into the front glacis plate as attachment points for a canvas covering that was meant to help disguise the Tiger as a truck. All of these features are present on the Tank Crew model of the Tiger H1.

 

In September, fasteners to secure the track replacement cable were added to the left hull, along with the fasteners needed to secure an assortment of tools on the front glacis plate. A point worth noting about the vehicles produced in September is that the 15-ton jack attached to the rear hull was mounted vertically. All of these features except for the vertically mounted jack are present on the Tank crew model. 

 

In October, aside from the standardization of the track type mounted on the Tiger, a small rectangular convoy light found on the bottom left rear of the hull was changed to a round light, an antenna base found on the rear of the hull was removed, the 15-ton jack was mounted horizontally under the right side Fiefel filters, and a long shovel was added to the list of tools secured to the front glacis. While all of these features are again present on the Tank Crew Tiger, the specific method of mounting the 15-ton jack tells us that the Tank Crew model is at least a copy of the vehicles produced in October 1942.

 

November apparently saw the addition of hinged front fenders, and a crew compartment heater in preparation for the Eastern front. Except for the compartment heater, the hinged front fenders are also visible on the Tank Crew model.

 

December production is where it starts to get a little more difficult to make connections as there was apparently a change to the track guards that do not exactly match the Tank Crew Tiger. There are other features however from this months production that are undoubtedly included. The most prominent feature is the escape hatch that replaced the pistol port on the right rear turret. But there is also the track tool box added just below the left side Fiefel filters, the five S-mine discharger mountings on top of the hull, and the reinforcement washers welded into the holes for the canvas camouflage cover. Although only the two rear most S-mine discharger mountings are present on the Tank Crew model, the brackets for the other 3 on the front and left mid-hull are visible.

 

Other then a deflector plate fitted over both exhaust pipes, which was apparently added to production vehicles in January 1943,  all other modifications made beyond December 1942 are not present on the Tank Crew model. 

 

Something that also struck me as interesting surrounding the history of the Tiger H1 modeled in Tank Crew is the included camouflage skin for the heavy tank company from SS-Panzer Regiment 2 of the 2nd SS-Panzer Division Das Reich. This unit received its first Tigers in December 1942, and after being fully outfitted in the following month, was then transferred to the Eastern front at the end of January 1943. The 2nd SS-Panzer Division was also present at the battle of Prokhorovka. It seems plausible that the model depicted in Tank Crew is a representation of the first 80 or so Tiger tanks produced by December 1942.

 

   

 

 

 

     

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Edited by LachenKrieg

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On 9/14/2020 at 8:30 PM, LachenKrieg said:

But the Panther Ausf. D modeled in Tank Crew is not as straight forward.

 

Based on the nameplate visible from the driver's position, the vehicle is Fgst. Nr. (chassis number) 213136 apparently built by Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen Hannover (MNH) in June 1943.

 

2 hours ago, LachenKrieg said:

Taking a closer look at the Tiger H1 and the first 50 or so copies completed by the end of November 1942, we can see a number of period correct features included on the Tank Crew model of this vehicle.

 

The Tiger we have is chassis number 250143 according to the nameplate, apparently produced in February 1943.

 

These dates are given by Jentz. I haven't checked whether the modifications are correct for their production dates, but the information is available.

 

The tactical number 322 seems to be associated with Panther 213136, so we have a matching skin in game. However, I don't have a good source to verify this. I also don't know about the "S11" Tiger production date.

Edited by Mitthrawnuruodo
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8 hours ago, Mitthrawnuruodo said:

 

Based on the nameplate visible from the driver's position, the vehicle is Fgst. Nr. (chassis number) 213136 apparently built by Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen Hannover (MNH) in June 1943.

 

 

The Tiger we have is chassis number 250143 according to the nameplate, apparently produced in February 1943.

 

These dates are given by Jentz. I haven't checked whether the modifications are correct for their production dates, but the information is available.

 

The tactical number 322 seems to be associated with Panther 213136, so we have a matching skin in game. However, I don't have a good source to verify this. I also don't know about the "S11" Tiger production date.

Thanks for pointing that out.

 

What got me started here was the variations in penetration values for the different rounds available in the SIM. The shell velocities and weight given in-game match all of the outside sources I can find, but I noticed that the penetration values are usually somewhere between the average reported performance, and the calculated penetration value of each shell. There are also a few what look to be like typo's. For example, the engine listed in-game for the Tiger H1 is the HL 210 P30, which I think was an engine designation for the original Panther tank. So it got me interested to know how accurate the detail of each model was and how that corresponded with changes in actual production.

 

I was really pleased to see when comparing the in-game models with available literature on the subject that the people behind the Tank Crew effort have really put a lot of work into getting things right.

 

That being said, there are still a few things that don't seem to match up at least on the surface and at first glance. Like with the Panther example above, the Tank Crew model has the updated bracket for the jack block supposedly implemented in July, but doesn't have the rivet reinforced road wheels from June. The timing between some of these events is so short that it could easily be explained by supply logistics of various parts as changes were being made on the fly. MAN was the principal contractor for the Panther, so one might think that they would be the first to know about/implement changes, but it is possible that the Hanover manufacturer had no inventory left over of the previous bracket, and started using the approved change-out piece ahead of everyone else. Information that is not readily available is any time lag that might have existed between the time a change was approved, and the time it was implemented.

 

Regarding the Tiger H1, the biggest discrepancy between the Tank Crew model and available literature that I found was the supposed addition of 5 S-mine dischargers in January starting with vehicle number 82. This should have definitely been included on vehicle number 143 as part of February's production. Even the mounting brackets for the dischargers themselves on the Tank Crew model don't match the supposed production schedule, which was apparently implemented in December. Out of 5, there are only 2 on the rear hull. So was there something with this specific vehicle? Command vehicles for example were supposedly only issued 4 S-mine dischargers. 

 

But what I find to be more telling about the accuracy of the Tank Crew model of the Tiger H1 is the reinforced armor upgrade to the gun mantlet in November 1942. From the information sources I have, starting out from January production numbers, there were still 90 tanks listed as being assembled without the upgraded gun mantlet, presumably to use up the remaining supply of existing pieces. Considering at that point that monthly production capacity was about 40 vehicles, the production of these 90 tanks would most certainly stretch into February. So with the S-mine issues aside, the recorded history of gun mantlet changes for the early production Tiger fits very well with the model depiction in Tank Crew.    

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15 hours ago, LachenKrieg said:

The timing between some of these events is so short that it could easily be explained by supply logistics of various parts as changes were being made on the fly.

 

Yes, Jentz repeatedly mentions that modifications were not applied consistently as they depended on component availability. It sometimes took several months for production to fully transition to a new part. Older stockpiled parts were sometimes left unused for a while because they were buried beneath new shipments, only to resurface later.

 

An alternative explanation is that the artists used several different reference materials to create a model that does not represent any specific vehicle. It's often necessary to create a hybrid of sorts because it's rare to find comprehensive documentation for all parts of a single vehicle.

 

I see some Soviet photographs showing a destroyed Panther from PzAbt. 51 with tactical number 322 that's purportedly Fgst. Nr. 213136 (the number is partially visible on the hull front). It's possible that this is the exact vehicle that the developers tried to recreate. Maybe there are some other Russian-language sources with more details that I haven't found.

Panther_322.thumb.png.4fda14e09a5284cce68642dffe35c6b2.png

 

Regarding the Tiger, there are several photos of a tactical number S11 with Das Reich at Kursk. It's clearly not identical to the Tank Crew model. However, it is possible that more than one vehicle carried this number at some point.

2033250142_20090211135246!Bundesarchiv_Bild_101III-Groenert-019-23A_Schlacht_um_Kursk_Panzer_VI_(Tiger_I).jpg.609a8cb67c23afab67e9908e64e34c5e.jpg1721366599_20111011003350!Bundesarchiv_Bild_101III-Zschaeckel-206-35_Schlacht_um_Kursk_Panzer_VI_(Tiger_I).jpg.eb3d834569baa4f29fcbc9c0b2482115.jpg

 

I can't find any information specific to Fgst. Nr. 250143. I think this supports the theory that the Tank Crew Tiger does not exactly represent any single vehicle.

Edited by Mitthrawnuruodo

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21 hours ago, Mitthrawnuruodo said:

 

Yes, Jentz repeatedly mentions that modifications were not applied consistently as they depended on component availability. It sometimes took several months for production to fully transition to a new part. Older stockpiled parts were sometimes left unused for a while because they were buried beneath new shipments, only to resurface later.

 

An alternative explanation is that the artists used several different reference materials to create a model that does not represent any specific vehicle. It's often necessary to create a hybrid of sorts because it's rare to find comprehensive documentation for all parts of a single vehicle.

 

I see some Soviet photographs showing a destroyed Panther from PzAbt. 51 with tactical number 322 that's purportedly Fgst. Nr. 213136 (the number is partially visible on the hull front). It's possible that this is the exact vehicle that the developers tried to recreate. Maybe there are some other Russian-language sources with more details that I haven't found.

Panther_322.thumb.png.4fda14e09a5284cce68642dffe35c6b2.png

 

Regarding the Tiger, there are several photos of a tactical number S11 with Das Reich at Kursk. It's clearly not identical to the Tank Crew model. However, it is possible that more than one vehicle carried this number at some point.

2033250142_20090211135246!Bundesarchiv_Bild_101III-Groenert-019-23A_Schlacht_um_Kursk_Panzer_VI_(Tiger_I).jpg.609a8cb67c23afab67e9908e64e34c5e.jpg1721366599_20111011003350!Bundesarchiv_Bild_101III-Zschaeckel-206-35_Schlacht_um_Kursk_Panzer_VI_(Tiger_I).jpg.eb3d834569baa4f29fcbc9c0b2482115.jpg

 

I can't find any information specific to Fgst. Nr. 250143. I think this supports the theory that the Tank Crew Tiger does not exactly represent any single vehicle.

I agree, there are so many possible explanations given the circumstances at that time, and it is easy to imagine how existing inventories of older spare parts could suddenly become the new part replacement, especially in a war torn country like Germany in 1943-45. But the jack block issue of the Panther example above is the reverse situation really, because the implication is that a new part was used ahead of schedule, not an older part being used at a later date. It may be that the people responsible for researching this had access to technical data/specifications of the Panther in question, and the reason one part was used over another is left to history. But in the brief review I was able to make, I must say that I am thoroughly impressed with the accuracy and level of detail given to the in-game vehicles. I am fairly new to this community, but am quickly learning how much effort the IL2 franchise puts into making a historically accurate product. I am also the type of person that is fascinated by the history behind these issues, and would love to get the details on what exactly the models were based on, but whatever they are, the people behind this have certainly done their homework.

 

Regarding the Panther image above, it is hard to tell exactly what the number on the hull represents, but it seems clear enough that it is a "5" digit number, with the second digit being something other then a "3". It looks to me like it is either a "0", or a "6". But I can't tell with any certainty.

 

Regarding the Tiger unit number S11, a similar late war number system seems to have been used by both SS-Panzer regiments 1 & 2. Tanks issued between December 1942, and February 43 when attached Heavy Companies consisted of Tiger's/PzIII's would have first seen action retaking/defending Kharkov, and many of them would have been replaced before the Kursk action. Between March and November of 1943, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd SS-Panzer Regiments were apparently amalgamated, regrouped, moved between fronts, taken out of action for rest and refit, shuffled and then placed back into action in fire brigade fashion, while their tanks and equipment were constantly being moved between units. From November 1943 the two Company formation of the previous summer was dropped in favor of a single Company consisting of 27 Tiger tanks including two command vehicles. The first tank of the first platoon was S11, and the last tank was numbered S15. The first of the fifth platoon was S51, and the last was numbered S55. So the number pattern of the in-game SS Tiger skin doesn't appear to be attached to a February production vehicle as much as it is to the historical evolution of the SS-Panzer Regiments that fought on the Eastern Front. And so it appears that the 13 Company attached to SS-Panzer Regiment 1 LSSSAH also fielded a tank numbered S11 on the Eastern Front late in 1943. I believe the unit's insignia however would have remained attached to the respective Companies.

 

In another source I found for Tiger H1 production during the month of February 1943, it states that the number of gun cleaning rods was increased to 6 starting with vehicle 122, which further supports a February production vehicle as the tank depicted in Tank Crew. Regarding the S-mine issue, I have seen numerous photos of early production Tiger's with and without the dischargers, but it would be interesting to know why the Tank Crew model not only has none, but only has what appears to be two mounting brackets installed. 

 

 

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46 minutes ago, LachenKrieg said:

I am also the type of person that is fascinated by the history behind these issues, and would love to get the details on what exactly the models were based on, but whatever they are, the people behind this have certainly done their homework.

 

Absolutely. I'm always impressed by the details included in all the Tank Crew vehicles.

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