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M3 Stuart Tank - Assessment After 2 Weeks Of Battle, 1941


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The Italy vets I've spoken to seem to have a generally positive impression of the Sherman. The biggest complaint from 5 Canadian Armoured Division seems to have been that their vehicles were hand-me-downs from 7th [uK] Armoured and thus a bit worn.

 

That might mean that a less tramatic introduction to Europe might have given 21st Army Group a better opinion. The American one was formed later in the summer when they started to encuonter better organized German resistance and we'd probably still have the "Death Traps" meme.

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Never heard of Thermite shells. Thermite is not easily handled and stored. Likely another version of '88's were everywhere.' The only 75mm in NA would have been the short 75s of the PzKW IV and I don't know when they introduced HEAT ammo, but that must be what the report is based upon.

 

ETA: Wiki states German HEAT rds introduced in 1940. But I have also read elsewhere that they were initially reluctant to put them to use fearing copying by the Allies.

Edited by Ken Estes
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Never heard of Thermite shells. Thermite is not easily handled and stored. Likely another version of '88's were everywhere.' The only 75mm in NA would have been the short 75s of the PzKW IV and I don't know when they introduced HEAT ammo, but that must be what the report is based upon.

 

ETA: Wiki states German HEAT rds introduced in 1940. But I have also read elsewhere that they were initially reluctant to put them to use fearing copying by the Allies.

P IV ausf F2 and G mounting the KwK 40/43 (long 75mm) were shipped to and fought in NA from the spring of '42. So they were showing up in NA almost concurrently with the M4.

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Never heard of Thermite shells....

Soviet reports from front noted "new thermite shells" for small batch of 7.5cm HEAT captured in 1941. near Kiev. It was flown out of pocket by plane and was used as basis for Soviet gun-shells HEAT development.

In some other reports that term was used for 5cm HVAP.

I guess that Brits could probably do same mis-ID.

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On eastern front HEAT ammo was about 10-15% of load for long 75mm. More later in the war. ClausB posted stats some time ago.

Edited by bojan
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ETA: Wiki states German HEAT rds introduced in 1940. But I have also read elsewhere that they were initially reluctant to put them to use fearing copying by the Allies.

 

 

Ken, it seems almost certain, given the circumstances, 10.5 cm le.F.H. HE and HEAT was the cause of most of the battle losses by 1st Army Tank Brigade at Arras. It seems the only Flak batteries there were 2cm guns. The wording of the 7. Pz.-Div. AAR reinforces that interpretation.

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As for worn out tanks. Err, no, not really. There were very few worn out tanks with 8 Army. Only 125 or less with 7 Armoured Brigade and the 28 cruisers with 32 Army Tank Brigade, out of over 600 tanks in total. 22 Armoured had 166 brand-spanking new Crusaders, 4 Armoured Brigade 166 M3 Stuart, and 1 Army Tank Brigade had brand-new Valentines with 8 R.T.R. and new Matilda II with 42 and 44 R.T.R.

 

Data on medium tank delivery in the second half of 1941 is here:

 

http://rommelsriposte.com/2014/02/23/british-and-us-tank-deliveries-to-egypt-july-1941-to-january-1942/

 

As for Arras, to my knowledge 88mm AA guns were present in the German defence line. This is clearly stated in the war diary of 7. Panzerdivision, at least in the English translation of it. The 'thermite rounds' talked about here were almost certainly HEAT rounds issued to the Panzer IV with the short 75 I believe. HEAT rounds were not allowed to be issued to the field guns during CRUSADER, so I have my doubts they used them at Arras, but happy to be corrected.

 

All the best

 

Andreas

Edited by Andreas
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The Italy vets I've spoken to seem to have a generally positive impression of the Sherman. The biggest complaint from 5 Canadian Armoured Division seems to have been that their vehicles were hand-me-downs from 7th [uK] Armoured and thus a bit worn.

 

That might mean that a less tramatic introduction to Europe might have given 21st Army Group a better opinion. The American one was formed later in the summer when they started to encuonter better organized German resistance and we'd probably still have the "Death Traps" meme.

 

Even in Europe it was mixed, IIRC Guards redirected to Ardennes used the fact that their Shermans were not yet shipped away, took them and left the shiny new Comets behind.

Czechoslovakian tankers also were not too happy when they had to let go of their Fireflies and get Challengers, though that one is probably pretty obvious :)

 

Frankly, in Goodwood conditions the Brits would likely suffer similar losses if they had Tiger IIs - or Centurions.

 

 

German 88 mm anti-tank guns and 75 mm thermite projectiles were most effective against American tanks. Thermite projectiles penetrate, explode inside tank, burn for hours, destroy tank.

 

Anyone know what German ammuntion this armor-piercing thermite shell is supposed to be?

 

 

There were talks about "thermite shells" on all sides, I guess it was whatever "special ammo" was there when its working was not much understood yet (IOW newly appearing ammunition). Or just "88 scare" and "Tiger scare" equivalent.

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As for Arras, to my knowledge 88mm AA guns were present in the German defence line. This is clearly stated in the war diary of 7. Panzerdivision, at least in the English translation of it. The 'thermite rounds' talked about here were almost certainly HEAT rounds issued to the Panzer IV with the short 75 I believe. HEAT rounds were not allowed to be issued to the field guns during CRUSADER, so I have my doubts they used them at Arras, but happy to be corrected.

 

 

Hi Andreas!

 

Yes, I know that English language versions of what purports to be the "war diary" of the 7th Panzer Division say that. The only problem is that the German language version - the actual microfilm copies of the 7. Panzerdivision KTB, does not. Rather, it references the Luftwaffe and Heeres Flak units (IIRC one of each) that were part of the ad hoc defense line thrown up...and both were leichte Flak batterien. :D

 

However, the KTB also gives credit for "tank kills" - mostly to the Artillerie and one (again IIRC - need to check) to the Flak.

 

Complicating things, the Panzer Regiment is also credited with a large number of kills, but from the dispositions I believe they were likely all - or mostly all - French types (as many as 45 Hotchkiss H35 of 13e BCC and 15+ Hotchkiss H39 and Somua S35 tanks from the 3e DLM). Those, except for the few S35, were pretty easy kills for Pz-38 (t) and Pz-IV.

 

Cheers! And Happy New Year!

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Hi Rich

 

Happy New Year to you too!

 

The English version I have is the translation they did for the official history, I picked it up in the IWM archives, I think, although I won't guarantee that. In fact, I just looked into the file, and the German original is at the end of the pictures I took.

 

It lists the following AA units:

 

1x 88 battery of Flak Rgt. 23

3./Fla 59 (named as Kompanie, so certainly light flak)

le. Fla Abt. 86

 

All the best

 

Andreas

Edited by Andreas
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As i recall the British attack caused much initial confusion, but ran out of steam because of the ad hoc defense and that no infantry or artillery accompanied the tanks?

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Hi Rich

 

Happy New Year to you too!

 

The English version I have is the translation they did for the official history, I picked it up in the IWM archives, I think, although I won't guarantee that. In fact, I just looked into the file, and the German original is at the end of the pictures I took.

 

It lists the following AA units:

 

1x 88 battery of Flak Rgt. 23

3./Fla 59 (named as Kompanie, so certainly light flak)

le. Fla Abt. 86

 

All the best

 

Andreas

 

 

Aaack! It's been so long since I typed my own version out I had forgotten all about the battery of Flak-Regt. 23! More importantly though were the effects. "Flak" was credited for just a single "I" tank, the artillery for 28, and - I had misremebered that as well - Panzer Regiment 25 accounted for 7 of them!

 

I still haven't figured out if it was I. or II./Flak-Regt. 23 that provided the battery, but I suspect the latter since I./Flak 23 apprently was attached to XVI AK (mot)? 3./Flak Batallion 59 was Heeres leichte-Flak (mot), but le.-Flak Abteilung 86 was Luftwaffe.

 

The Germans claimed British losses were 43 tanks, 28 “I” Tanks by Artillery Regiment 78, 8 (including 1 “I” Tank) by Flak guns and 7 (all “I” Tanks) by Panzer Regiment 25, about 50 men captured, about 200 men killed, and 1 aircraft shot down. These figures appear to have been substantially correct since when the British brigade reorganized on 25 May it had only 18 Mark I “I” Tanks, 2 Mark II “I” Tanks and 7 Mark VI Light tanks. That indicates losses were probably 40 Mark I “I” Tanks, 14 Mark II “I” Tanks and 7 Mark VI Light Tanks.

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As for worn out tanks. Err, no, not really. There were very few worn out tanks with 8 Army. Only 125 or less with 7 Armoured Brigade and the 28 cruisers with 32 Army Tank Brigade, out of over 600 tanks in total. 22 Armoured had 166 brand-spanking new Crusaders, 4 Armoured Brigade 166 M3 Stuart, and 1 Army Tank Brigade had brand-new Valentines with 8 R.T.R. and new Matilda II with 42 and 44 R.T.R.

 

Data on medium tank delivery in the second half of 1941 is here:

 

http://rommelsriposte.com/2014/02/23/british-and-us-tank-deliveries-to-egypt-july-1941-to-january-1942/

 

As for Arras, to my knowledge 88mm AA guns were present in the German defence line. This is clearly stated in the war diary of 7. Panzerdivision, at least in the English translation of it. The 'thermite rounds' talked about here were almost certainly HEAT rounds issued to the Panzer IV with the short 75 I believe. HEAT rounds were not allowed to be issued to the field guns during CRUSADER, so I have my doubts they used them at Arras, but happy to be corrected.

 

All the best

 

Andreas

 

Of course, at that point in time a brand new Crusader was probably less reliable than any other tank on the battlefield, worn out or not! :)

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DRIFT!!!

As I read Richard G's last post, I wondered if the Sherman's reputation would have been blemished, had the Allies been able to stay out of the bocage.

 

The main effect of the bocage was to highlight poor Allied infantry-tank-artillery coordination at the level of small unit tactics. The bocage actually negated some of the advantages of German tanks and SPGs, particularly the longer effective range of their guns. This was brought home to the British in the "good tank country" covered by Operation Goodwood, which gave the Germans some excellent site lines for shooting up Shermans by the hundreds.

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As for worn out tanks. Err, no, not really. There were very few worn out tanks with 8 Army. Only 125 or less with 7 Armoured Brigade and the 28 cruisers with 32 Army Tank Brigade, out of over 600 tanks in total. 22 Armoured had 166 brand-spanking new Crusaders, 4 Armoured Brigade 166 M3 Stuart, and 1 Army Tank Brigade had brand-new Valentines with 8 R.T.R. and new Matilda II with 42 and 44 R.T.R.

 

Data on medium tank delivery in the second half of 1941 is here:

 

http://rommelsriposte.com/2014/02/23/british-and-us-tank-deliveries-to-egypt-july-1941-to-january-1942/

 

As for Arras, to my knowledge 88mm AA guns were present in the German defence line. This is clearly stated in the war diary of 7. Panzerdivision, at least in the English translation of it. The 'thermite rounds' talked about here were almost certainly HEAT rounds issued to the Panzer IV with the short 75 I believe. HEAT rounds were not allowed to be issued to the field guns during CRUSADER, so I have my doubts they used them at Arras, but happy to be corrected.

 

All the best

 

Andreas

 

Of course, at that point in time a brand new Crusader was probably less reliable than any other tank on the battlefield, worn out or not! :)

 

 

Quite true. Here is something Rich dug up a long time ago.

 

http://rommelsriposte.com/2009/01/11/mechanical-issues-of-britishus-tanks-during-crusader/

 

All the best

 

Andreas

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Hi Rich

 

Happy New Year to you too!

 

The English version I have is the translation they did for the official history, I picked it up in the IWM archives, I think, although I won't guarantee that. In fact, I just looked into the file, and the German original is at the end of the pictures I took.

 

It lists the following AA units:

 

1x 88 battery of Flak Rgt. 23

3./Fla 59 (named as Kompanie, so certainly light flak)

le. Fla Abt. 86

 

All the best

 

Andreas

 

 

Aaack! It's been so long since I typed my own version out I had forgotten all about the battery of Flak-Regt. 23! More importantly though were the effects. "Flak" was credited for just a single "I" tank, the artillery for 28, and - I had misremebered that as well - Panzer Regiment 25 accounted for 7 of them!

 

I still haven't figured out if it was I. or II./Flak-Regt. 23 that provided the battery, but I suspect the latter since I./Flak 23 apprently was attached to XVI AK (mot)? 3./Flak Batallion 59 was Heeres leichte-Flak (mot), but le.-Flak Abteilung 86 was Luftwaffe.

 

The Germans claimed British losses were 43 tanks, 28 “I” Tanks by Artillery Regiment 78, 8 (including 1 “I” Tank) by Flak guns and 7 (all “I” Tanks) by Panzer Regiment 25, about 50 men captured, about 200 men killed, and 1 aircraft shot down. These figures appear to have been substantially correct since when the British brigade reorganized on 25 May it had only 18 Mark I “I” Tanks, 2 Mark II “I” Tanks and 7 Mark VI Light tanks. That indicates losses were probably 40 Mark I “I” Tanks, 14 Mark II “I” Tanks and 7 Mark VI Light Tanks.

 

 

One interesting question would be if A.R.78's heavy Abteilung had a 10cm gun battery? But also the 150mm and 105mm guns with HE could be expected to have some effect, even without penetration, but in achieving mobility and capability kills, while at shorter ranges the 105mm gun with AT rounds could be effective. See below:

 

http://rommelsriposte.com/2010/04/27/german-firing-trials-against-the-matilda-ii/

 

All the best

 

Andreas

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One interesting question would be if A.R.78's heavy Abteilung had a 10cm gun battery? But also the 150mm and 105mm guns with HE could be expected to have some effect, even without penetration, but in achieving mobility and capability kills, while at shorter ranges the 105mm gun with AT rounds could be effective. See below:

 

http://rommelsriposte.com/2010/04/27/german-firing-trials-against-the-matilda-ii/

 

All the best

 

Andreas

 

 

Hi Andreas,

 

According to Lexikon, III./AR 78 wasn't created until 4 February 1941. Up to then, AR 78 only had two leichte Abteilungen. III./AR 78 was a schweres Heeres Artillerie Abteilung, II./AR 45 and di have a 10cm Batterie. However, it was attached to XIX AK during the French Campaign.

 

So the Germans had a solid-shot AP round for the le.F.H. and used it like the British did the 25-pdr AP?

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For any evaluation of the Stuart it should be kept in mind the theatre it was operating in and the fact that they were initially new and not worn out like a lot of the British tanks were at the time. With a way lot less room to manouver in Europe for a start the comment would have been a lot different.

what was needed was the Honey Badger not the Stuart or other worn out tanks.

 

lol, probably would have done OK in the desert too, better than the German turretless efforts there at the time for sure.

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The Italy vets I've spoken to seem to have a generally positive impression of the Sherman. The biggest complaint from 5 Canadian Armoured Division seems to have been that their vehicles were hand-me-downs from 7th [uK] Armoured and thus a bit worn.

 

That might mean that a less tramatic introduction to Europe might have given 21st Army Group a better opinion. The American one was formed later in the summer when they started to encuonter better organized German resistance and we'd probably still have the "Death Traps" meme.

Even in Europe it was mixed, IIRC Guards redirected to Ardennes used the fact that their Shermans were not yet shipped away, took them and left the shiny new Comets behind.

Czechoslovakian tankers also were not too happy when they had to let go of their Fireflies and get Challengers, though that one is probably pretty obvious :)

 

Frankly, in Goodwood conditions the Brits would likely suffer similar losses if they had Tiger IIs - or Centurions. ......................................................

 

But surely it can be one thing for tankers to be happy with their tanks and quite another as to if those tanks are fulfilling the role required or needed of them. For example the British ended up using Crocodiles to provide the close support needed to reduce infantry casualties in attack. It took a long time for the Western Allies to realise that using steel was smarter than using flesh and I'm not sure that all involved wanted to realise that grisly fact at all. Much more 'fun' off doing your own thing rather than being tied to infantry. And probably safer too.

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