Barbarossa - Tank Guns

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Barbarossa - Tank Guns

Joined: December 2nd, 2004, 2:45 am

December 25th, 2011, 10:25 pm #1

G'Day Guys,

I believe that in the early stages of Barbarossa the heaviest tank gun would have been the Panzer 4's 75mm, but from what I have read the Panzer 4 D and earlier were in short supply....what were the chances of seeing an Panzer 4 A, B, C or even a D during these early stages.

The Panzer 3 would have been the MBT of the time but would the 50mm Gun have been in normal Panzer 3 production at this time.

Any info is greatly appreciated

TIA

P
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Joined: April 28th, 2005, 8:56 pm

December 26th, 2011, 1:25 am #2

Even at the time when the Germans invaded The Soviet Union they were still not totally prepared for war. They were still short of almost everything (halftracks, supply vehicles, tanks, winter clothes, ect).

They had a number of PZ IV B, C, D, and Es in Russia at the time (not sure about the "A" though).

Their MBT was still the PZ III, but not all of them had been up-graded to the short 50mm yet. Some still had the 37mm.
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Joined: August 12th, 2004, 3:14 pm

December 26th, 2011, 4:12 pm #3

G'Day Guys,

I believe that in the early stages of Barbarossa the heaviest tank gun would have been the Panzer 4's 75mm, but from what I have read the Panzer 4 D and earlier were in short supply....what were the chances of seeing an Panzer 4 A, B, C or even a D during these early stages.

The Panzer 3 would have been the MBT of the time but would the 50mm Gun have been in normal Panzer 3 production at this time.

Any info is greatly appreciated

TIA

P
it was to provide fire support much like the StuG III A-E armed with the same low velocity weapon. Later in the War new ammo extended its life a bit and the gun was reused in the 8 rads etc.
DAVID NICKELS
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Joined: April 27th, 2005, 8:58 am

December 26th, 2011, 7:33 pm #4

G'Day Guys,

I believe that in the early stages of Barbarossa the heaviest tank gun would have been the Panzer 4's 75mm, but from what I have read the Panzer 4 D and earlier were in short supply....what were the chances of seeing an Panzer 4 A, B, C or even a D during these early stages.

The Panzer 3 would have been the MBT of the time but would the 50mm Gun have been in normal Panzer 3 production at this time.

Any info is greatly appreciated

TIA

P
The 7.5cm KwK L/24 was emphatically NOT a howitzer.

It was a flat trajectory weapon and did not have indirect sights, either on the StuG.III or the Pz.Kpfw.IV. Unlike a howitzer, it could not hit what it could not see. Its fire could not be corrected by a remote observer. It was merely of relatively low velocity and had less armor penetration than was eventually found to be necessary.

The 7.5cm KwK/StuK L/24 could penetrate 39mm of armor at 30-degrees at 500 meters.
The 3.7cm KwK L/36.5 could penetrate 34mm of armor at 30-degrees at 500 meters.

So, the 7.5cm KwK had slightly better penetration abilities than the 3.7cm KwK. This is also borne out by the fact that references (Panzertracts) state that the StuG.III (originally designated s.PaK), was designed from the outset to counter enemy armor as well as fortifications.

The 5cm KwK L/46 was only slightly better than the 7.5cm L/24, being able to penetrate 46mm of armor at 30-degrees at 500 meters. The real armor killers hit the streets when the 5cm KwK L/60 was fitted; around the time the 7.5cm KwK L/43 and then L/48s were issued. They penetrated 57mm, 91mm and 96mm, respectivly.

Shameless plug: these issues are discussed in Panzer Vor! Vol.6, authored by yours truely, and recently published by Concord.

Frank V. De Sisto

delete abwehr 2x from email

visit frankdesisto.com

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Joined: August 12th, 2004, 7:30 pm

December 26th, 2011, 8:05 pm #5

In total there were 439 PzIV at the beginning of Barbarossa. I don 't have the exact split of Ausfs at my finger tips.

Franks stats are very interesting when comparing the relative performance of the available tank guns, all I would add is that there are a number of images of PzIVs practicing what looks Iike indirect fire on training ranges prior to Barbarossa. Or at least hi trajectory firing on distant targets in sight.

Craig (8wheels-good)
http://barbaross4stuff.blogspot.com/
Craig (8wheels-good)
https://www.facebook.com/8wheelsgoodPzIVarchive/
http://8wheels-good.blogspot.co.uk/
http://www.blurb.co.uk/user/store/8wheels-good
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Joined: November 21st, 2011, 6:33 pm

December 27th, 2011, 4:58 am #6

The 7.5cm KwK L/24 was emphatically NOT a howitzer.

It was a flat trajectory weapon and did not have indirect sights, either on the StuG.III or the Pz.Kpfw.IV. Unlike a howitzer, it could not hit what it could not see. Its fire could not be corrected by a remote observer. It was merely of relatively low velocity and had less armor penetration than was eventually found to be necessary.

The 7.5cm KwK/StuK L/24 could penetrate 39mm of armor at 30-degrees at 500 meters.
The 3.7cm KwK L/36.5 could penetrate 34mm of armor at 30-degrees at 500 meters.

So, the 7.5cm KwK had slightly better penetration abilities than the 3.7cm KwK. This is also borne out by the fact that references (Panzertracts) state that the StuG.III (originally designated s.PaK), was designed from the outset to counter enemy armor as well as fortifications.

The 5cm KwK L/46 was only slightly better than the 7.5cm L/24, being able to penetrate 46mm of armor at 30-degrees at 500 meters. The real armor killers hit the streets when the 5cm KwK L/60 was fitted; around the time the 7.5cm KwK L/43 and then L/48s were issued. They penetrated 57mm, 91mm and 96mm, respectivly.

Shameless plug: these issues are discussed in Panzer Vor! Vol.6, authored by yours truely, and recently published by Concord.

Frank V. De Sisto

delete abwehr 2x from email

visit frankdesisto.com
We don't need to argue terminology, but the PzKpfw IV at that time was NOT intended for tank vs tank battles, and was not a "main battle tank". The basic German concept at the time called for two basic types of tank. One was mostly for infantry support and mounted a "low velocity" cannon. The other was the "main battle tank" intended for explotation of breakthroughs, and taking on enemy tanks. It was to be lighter, faster, and have a high velocity cannon capable of anti-tank operations. The gun used in early models of the PzKpfw IV was based on a 75mm howitzer. The low velocity was intentional because high explosive shells fired at high velocity tend to bury in the ground (or target) which limits their effectiveness (think VT fused arty) against infantry. This is also one reason there were so few of the IVs. The organization of Panzer units gave priorty to the faster, lighter tank "main battle tank" (about 4 to 1 ratio). As for not being able to fire indirect, I was trained in Artillery fire direction any years ago, and such things are possible if you take the time to set it up and do it. In Korea, the US used tanks in an indirect fire roll many times. You may have seen pictures of them sitting on a slopped birm so they could get enough elevation on the gun. I really don't know if the Germans actually used PzKpfw IVs in an indirect fire roll, but saying it isn't possible is not correct.

Gene
Last edited by GeneK1550 on December 27th, 2011, 4:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: December 2nd, 2004, 2:45 am

December 27th, 2011, 5:15 am #7

G'Day Guys,

I believe that in the early stages of Barbarossa the heaviest tank gun would have been the Panzer 4's 75mm, but from what I have read the Panzer 4 D and earlier were in short supply....what were the chances of seeing an Panzer 4 A, B, C or even a D during these early stages.

The Panzer 3 would have been the MBT of the time but would the 50mm Gun have been in normal Panzer 3 production at this time.

Any info is greatly appreciated

TIA

P
Cheers Guys,

Thanks you all for the information, I didn't realise there were that there were that many P 4's involved, but your responces have pointed mt to the way I wanted to go.

Thanks again and Happy new year

P
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Joined: October 19th, 2005, 5:34 pm

December 27th, 2011, 11:54 am #8

We don't need to argue terminology, but the PzKpfw IV at that time was NOT intended for tank vs tank battles, and was not a "main battle tank". The basic German concept at the time called for two basic types of tank. One was mostly for infantry support and mounted a "low velocity" cannon. The other was the "main battle tank" intended for explotation of breakthroughs, and taking on enemy tanks. It was to be lighter, faster, and have a high velocity cannon capable of anti-tank operations. The gun used in early models of the PzKpfw IV was based on a 75mm howitzer. The low velocity was intentional because high explosive shells fired at high velocity tend to bury in the ground (or target) which limits their effectiveness (think VT fused arty) against infantry. This is also one reason there were so few of the IVs. The organization of Panzer units gave priorty to the faster, lighter tank "main battle tank" (about 4 to 1 ratio). As for not being able to fire indirect, I was trained in Artillery fire direction any years ago, and such things are possible if you take the time to set it up and do it. In Korea, the US used tanks in an indirect fire roll many times. You may have seen pictures of them sitting on a slopped birm so they could get enough elevation on the gun. I really don't know if the Germans actually used PzKpfw IVs in an indirect fire roll, but saying it isn't possible is not correct.

Gene
Sorry Gene,

But you are talking nonsense. The Panzer IV was never an infantry support tank! Based on what you have writen, I think you have not understand GERMAN panzer tactics. There was not a seperation into "tank units" and "infantry support tank units" like many Allied armies did.
You have refered to the unit structur. But then, you must have seen that there were three main classes of tanks and not two how you have claimed. Light tanks (Panzer I and II), a medium tank (Panzer III, often replaced by Panzer 35 (t) and 38 (t)) and a medium to heavy tank (Panzer IV).
All these tanks were exclusively organised in Panzer battalions and regiments and had their tasks in these units. The main power of the tank units were the Panzer III's. The light Panzer I and II were used for lighter tasks (reconnaissance, fighting against thinly armoured and not armoured enemy targets, etc.). From the beginning on, the Panzer IV was constructed as heavy support tank. But it was a support tank for the Panzer units and not for the infantry. With its high caliber weapon, it should fight against enemy strongpoints AND HEAVY TANKS. At the beginning of war, the 7,5cm KwK L/24 was the most powerful weapon of the panzer units against armoured targets.
Often, German tanks operated together with infantry. But these were the infantry units of the Panzer Divisions and less often from infantry divisions. This does not prove that any of the mentioned German tank were constructed for infantry support. All German main tanks had equaly thin armour and mobility so that they could operate together. Infantry support tanks were in most cases slow and heavily armoured. That does not fit to the Panzer IV and the other mentioned tanks. If you are looking for a German infantry support tank, try looking for STURMGESCHÜTZ.

Regards,

Holger Erdmann.

(sources: different publications of Thomas L. Jentz, Walter J. Spielberger and others)
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Joined: November 21st, 2011, 6:33 pm

December 27th, 2011, 12:55 pm #9

Holgar
Please recheck your sources. You note that the IV was a "support tank", which is correct. It was to support the infantry elements of the panzer division. Guderian's ideas called for a "combined arms team" which included infantry with the tanks, and a "support tank" to directly support that infantry. In any case, the short 75mm L/24 gun had almost no anti-tank capability, and the PzKpfw IV was never classified as a "heavy" tank. Against the Char-B and Matilda, much less the T-34, it was almost useless. If the IV was not an infantry support tank, what was the purpose of having two different types of medium tanks, and why did the organization call for three panzer III companies and only one panzer IV. For that matter, if the IV was a main battle tank at that time, why keep building the III at all? The answer is that they had two distinctly different missions, and the PzKpfw IVs mission was not that of the "main battle tank".

Gene
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Joined: October 19th, 2005, 5:34 pm

December 27th, 2011, 2:12 pm #10

Helle Gene,

I did not classify the Panzer IV as a heavy tank. Please reread what I have written. You wrote: "In any case, the short 75mm L/24 gun had almost no anti-tank capability,...". Sorry, but this is nonsense.

Armor piercing capacity at 500 m, 30° (Panzergranate):

2cm KwK 30 & 38: 14 mm
3,7cm KwK L/45: 29 mm
3,7cm KwK 34(t): 30 mm
3,7cm KwK 38(t): 31 mm
7,5cm KwK L/24: 38 mm

(Source: Die deutsche Panzertruppe Band 2, Thomas L. Jentz)
Theses are the main weapons of the Panzertruppe at the beginning of war. This overview proves, that the 7,5cm KwK L/24 was the most powerful weapon of the Panzertuppe at the beginning of war. The only shortcoming of this weapon was the curved trajectory of the projectile which complicated aiming at higher ranges. (And why a Panzergranate was developed for this weapon if it should not be used against armoured rtargets? Compared from the other hand, there were no high explosive shells available for some anti tank guns!)

You wrote: "Against the Char-B and Matilda, much less the T-34, it was almost useless." This is true. But all the other mentioned weapons, too! When you mentione the T 34, than you must also note that in 1941/42 HL granades were introduced which had a much higher armour piercing capacity.

All mentioned panzers had their part in the panzer units. In the 1930'S, there was no real "main battle tank" in the way we understand today. Military theorisers thought, that for different battle tasks, diffenert panzer types were needed. I already mentioned the purposes of the different tanks in a tank unit. In an ordinary battle situation, "heavy" targets appear rarer than "normal" targets. Therefore, a lower number of Panzer IV's was needed compared to the Panzer III.
Another point is the industrial capacity and the cost of the different tank models. But that's going too far in this discussion.

You wrote: "It was to support the infantry elements of the panzer division. Guderian's ideas called for a "combined arms team" which included infantry with the tanks, and a "support tank" to directly support that infantry."
I think you misunderstod Guderian. The principle of the "combined arms" joined many branches (tank, anti-tank, infantry, artilery, engineers etc.) into one combat unit - the Panzerdivision. The purpose of the different branches was to help the Panzers - the potentially most powerful force of the division - to develop their maximum power. All interrests of the other branches had to be subordinated under that goal.
For sure, Panzer IV's operated together with infantry units but the other panzer types, too. There are several reports of panzer units, which prove that Panzer IV's supported panzer units. In many cases, the devence was too strong for lighter tanks. In these cases, the Panzer IV's broke resistance with their high caliber weapon.

All in all, the Panzer IV had no typical tecnical characteristics of an infantry support tank. You mentioned a classical infantry support tank - the Matilda. Please compare the specifications armament, armour and mobility to the Panzer IV. You will not find a real conformity.

Regards,

Holger.
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