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Artillery & bombs versus tanks In WW II

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Guest, Feb 23, 2003.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    17th FA Bn
    Member
    Posts: 6
    (5/6/01 7:27:44 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del All Artillery & bombs versus tanks In WW II
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    I've read many accounts of massed artillery and naval gunfire breaking up German tank attacks in WW II. I've read accounts of up to 20 field artillery battalions (240, 105mm & 155mm howitzers) massed on one target. Even with this much fire power massed, the odds of a "direct hit" on a moving target must have been low. The odds of a direct hit by fighter bombers with bombs and rockets must also have been low. I read some where that more German tanks were knocked out by artillery and fighter bombers than by anti-tank guns on the Western Front. Most of these tanks must have been disabled by "blast effects" of the artillery rounds, bombs, or rockets.

    Now for my question: how close a hit would it take to stop a German Tank by a 105mm or 155mm howitzer based on "blast effect" only? How close would a 500 lb. bomb or air to ground rocket have to impact to stop a tank with "blast effect" only? I've seen tables that give penetration data for various anti-tank guns, but nothing on the effects of explosive "blast effect" against tanks.

    Kdubya
    Moderator
    Posts: 231
    (5/6/01 7:42:02 pm)
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    When serving in the armored branch back when dirt was fairly new, we were told not to worry too much about flat trajectory fire (anti-tank, rifle grenade, rocket launcher) as the angles on the tank body and turret would deflect MOST of them. The main concern was plunging fire (mortar, artillery, bombs, air launched rockets) as the armor plating is thinnest on top - any hits in the engine compartment, including Molotv Coctails would be disabling. Unless pierced by shrapnel from an exceedingly close miss, or the concussion effect on instruments and crew, I'm not sure just a "near miss" would actually disable a tank.
    Other than tank-on-tank combat, I would imagine fighter bombers probably accounted for the largest percentage of tank losses in WWII, especially the Eastern Front. As you say, hitting a moving target with mortar or artillery fire is more a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, rather than effective tactics.
    The old addage "When there's lead in the air, there's hope!" certainly would be appropiate.
    Keep off the Ridgeline!!

    polishshooter
    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 411
    (5/6/01 9:39:32 pm)
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    There it is, plunging fire. A direct hit by a 155 would take out a Tiger, much less any naval 5" or more. Under a massed TOT barrage, for example, odds are something in the formation is gonna' get hit.

    The explosive effect also is hell on tracks, especially those on German tanks that came off rather easily. The blast is also pretty demoralizing on the crews.

    I read somewhere (I wish I had Ob's recall ability, or I would tell you where!) where a platoon of Tigers or MkIVs came under fire from some 4.5" Mortars from a chemical weapons platoon and they surrendered! Thought they were zeroed by 155s or naval...I believe it was in Sicily...

    There are many accounts of tanks stopped by the wing guns of fighter-bombers mostly 6-8 .50s, from above and behind.

    The cannon firers, 20-40mm were even more deadly, from above.

    The thing the German tankers feared the most were the "Jabos", (Jager something, their name for fighter bombers.) There are many written accounts that show their stark terror of moving in the daytime in the open in 44-45.

    It was the GUNS that did most of the damage, the rockets next. Any bomb, 100# GP or higher could take one out, but you are right, hitting a lone moving tank was tough, if not impossible.

    They were most effective against columns stopped in the road, when the first and last were knocked out by guns or rockets, then the bombs finished them.

    The best tank killers were the P38(the nose mounted 20mm and 4-.50s were concentrated at any range, not like wing guns that "converged" so were only concentrated in a narrow band at a specific range), then the P47, then the Sturmovik with cannon, then the Stuka with cannon, a couple of Messerschmitt and Heinkel types specially made for it, and believe it or not the P39 with that 20 or 37 firing through the hub. The Russians called it their "Little Shaver."

    Edited by: polishshooter at: 5/6/01 10:44:58 pm

    polishshooter
    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 497
    (5/14/01 12:14:07 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: Artillery & bombs versus tanks In WW II
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    Rereading Forty's "Tank Warfare in WWII" and it's amazing the accounts of tanks knocked out by what. One German tank (not type listed) was by a direct hit from a 81mm mortar firing WP! The crew must have thought they were on fire and bailed out...

    Also interesting, the numbers of survivors from Shermans with direct hit from 88s or Panzerfausts...the average killed or wounded from tanks knocked out in action was 2.5 per.

    Usually, as long as you were not directly in line with the penetrating shot, or too seriously injured to get out before it "brewed up," you had an excellent chance at survival AS LONG AS the hulk was not covered by MGs, infantry, or a follow-up HE round from the killer tank or gun. THAT was how most tankers got killed, not from the initial hit, but the bail-out.

    There is an account from a M26 Pershing gunner who knocked out 5 Tiger IIs in Feb '45. The first he got frontally with 3 shots- 2 AP to stop with a quick point detonating HE that got the crew. The remaining turned and fled single file up the road, he got all 4 with a single AP up the butt "walking" up the column back to front, then reversed front to back along the column with HE and killed every one of the crew in each tank bailing out. Five Tiger IIs and all the crews with 11 shots from the 90mm.

    17th FA Bn
    Member
    Posts: 6
    (5/15/01 10:51:55 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: Artillery & bombs versus tanks In WW II
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    In Steven Ambrose's "Citizen Soldier" he talks of Shermans hitting Tigers with white phosperous, and like polish shooter mentions the crews belived they were on fire and bailed out. The Israelis used napalm against Arab tank's in the 1948 war. Many of the tanks used by the Arabs were WW II German surplus. The napalm acted like a giant Malatov cocktail. Napalm would have little effect on the tank itself, but the heat and toxic products of combustion would overcome the crews.

    Kdubya
    Moderator
    Posts: 299
    (5/15/01 11:42:42 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: Artillery & bombs versus tanks In WW II
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    Anything causing running fire could disable a tank if placed on the motor cover louvers. It would cause havoc, especially with the WWII types by burning out wiring, getting into the air intakes and setting off hard to put out grease fires. All this, not to mention melting coolant lines (those that had them) and fuel lines. A simple malatov cocktail was an extremely good short range anti-tank/vehicle weapon. A tank getting hit solidly with napalm would be a complete wipeout.
    Keep off the Ridgeline!!

    Xracer
    Moderator
    Posts: 274
    (5/16/01 4:50:59 pm)
    Reply | Edit | Del Re: Artillery & bombs versus tanks In WW II
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    Polish.....in your list of "Tank Killer" aircraft, I think you left out the greatest of them all....the Hawker Typhoon Mk. 1B.

    Armed with 4 20mm cannon and 4 3" air-to-surface rockets with a 60 lb. warhead, the Typhoon was sure death to anything on tracks (or wheels).

    polishshooter
    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 502
    (5/17/01 3:06:30 pm)
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    You're, right, I forgot the Typhoon...

    Speaking or the Arabs using German stuff, a little known "Dirty Little Secret" is that the last WWII Panzer knocked out in battle was a Pzkw.IV the Syrians were using as a dug in pillbox.

    The last time the Israelis rolled towards Damascus in the Golan Heights (in the 80's!!!) they encountered it and blew it away.

    The shooter?

    A "Super Sherman." Basically a WWII Sherman upgunned to a 105mm tank gun.

    Kinda fitting, don't you think?

    Xracer
    Moderator
    Posts: 278
    (5/17/01 3:52:07 pm)
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    D'ya suppose the driver of that Sherman had a C&R License?

    polishshooter
    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 509
    (5/17/01 10:05:07 pm)
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    No, only the 105 that's C&R is the WWII howitzer, since that one was the newer 105 tank rifle, it wouldn't be...but the PAK 75 on the Panzer IV actually IS C&R believe it or not!

    That's what's pretty cool...you could actually buy a real M4 Sherman with fully functioning armament and all the guns would be C&R... you'd just have to pay $200 NFA registration/tax each for the 75 or 76, or even the 105 howitzer, and the .30 Brownings in the BOG and Coax, as well as the .30 or .50 on the turret! They are all C&R!

    I think I want one...

    Xracer
    Moderator
    Posts: 290
    (5/18/01 8:31:32 pm)
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    ....and the M4 Sherman even came factory equipped with a "lovely brown patina".

    polishshooter
    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 533
    (5/18/01 9:04:37 pm)
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    ...did I actually use the word "lovely?"

    My old '97 is lots of things but I'm not sure I would use "lovely..."

    Then again....

    Xracer
    Moderator
    Posts: 296
    (5/20/01 7:57:33 am)
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    Actually, I think the "lovely brown patina" line was mine from one of the stories on GB. As I recall, at the time, you were at the bottom of the Mississippi River and were removing your trusty '97 from "where the sun don't shine".......

    polishshooter
    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 555
    (5/20/01 10:27:06 am)
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    Don't remember that one, last thing I remember I shortshucked my kielbasa into the chamber...I still cringe over the thought...

    We still need the Monkey over here, don'tcha think?

    Kdubya
    Moderator
    Posts: 325
    (5/20/01 11:14:23 am)
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    Ah, the short memories, PS - !

    'Way back when the Supermonkey had been turned into the Robomonkey and he was causing mayhem on the deck of the Alabama Queen, I had you diving overboard with the Mod 97 (takedown version, 18" cutoff bbl and rounded edges) placed in a delicate position by the monkeyman who then threw you overboard, which caused you to swim for the far shore with several compatriots to elude the enraged Robomonkey. Upon reaching shallow water, you began sinking, due to extra weight and one of the swimmers had to dive under, pluck the protruding firearm from it's resting place. This caused you to pass out and would have drowned, had not one of the group grabbed you by the hair as you submerged to hold you up. The member retreiving the Mod 97 surfaced with the gun and was repulsed by the "brown patnia" bestowed upon the metal work!

    Remember now?

    (Heh, heh, heh!)
    Keep off the Ridgeline!!

    polishshooter
    Senior Chief Moderator Staff
    Posts: 559
    (5/20/01 3:14:24 pm)
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    Oh yeah, I remember, I musta had a concussion or something, or else ingested too much muddy water...or Pelicanpoop.
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