Why did the Germans use so many different caliber anti tank cannons?

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by HighlanderNorth, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. HighlanderNorth

    HighlanderNorth New Member

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    The Germans were lucky in WW2 in one regard when it came to facing the enemy armor. 95% + of the enemy tanks and armored vehicles were medium weight and medium armored vehicles, not heavy tanks like they themselves had produced. Therefore, it should've been fairly easy for them to destroy the enemy's armored vehicles, especially with guns like the 88mm originally used as a AA gun.

    Now I understand that at the beginning of WW2, the Germans had produced the Panzer III as their primary anti armor tank with its 37mm gun, and the Panzer IV was to be used as an infantry support tank for destroying enemy emplacements, machines gun positions, bunkers, etc with its lower velocity, short barreled 75mm gun. Then, in 1941, the Germans decided to install a 50mm gun into the III, then later a higher velocity 75mm gun into the Panzer IV and a both to be used against tanks, as the tanks they were now facing had slightly thicker armor, and the T34 had sloped armor.

    But then, they came out with the Panther, with a completely different 75mm anti tank gun, and the Tiger I with the 88mm gun. Then, the Tiger II came out with a different, more powerful 88mm gun, and the Jagdpanther was armed with the same gun. Then they designed the Jagdtiger with the 128mm gun from their largest AA mounts. In the mean time, the Panzer III was now relegated to a support tank with another, different short barreled 75mm gun.

    There were also various different German towed anti armor cannons as well, with different guns mounted on them.

    Plus, there were many different types of shells for each gun. This must have been a logistics nightmare for the Germans, and I just don't completely understand why they didn't just use a few guns that were proven, instead of manufacturing so many different guns. My theory is that they knew by mid-late 1943 that they were outnumbered in tanks by the enemy, and they needed to be able to destroy many enemy tanks with each one of their own tanks, therefore, they kept trying to come up with new guns that would give them better range and power, so they could start destroying them from afar, and hopefully pick off quite a few of them before they either were themselves destroyed, or before they retreated.

    I've also probably left out a few guns, as I've read that they made lots of different guns of each caliber.

    Whats your opinion on why they felt the need to do this, when they only really had a limited number of different tanks to fight against for the most part?
  2. Old Steve

    Old Steve New Member

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    Highlander
    German history is not the history of WWII and the Great Patriotic War (fought at the same time). The german kept coming up with better guns and tanks because the Russian started out with better tanks and guns then they had, and came out with improvements faster then they did
  3. Old Steve

    Old Steve New Member

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    Lend-Lease helped a lot of things, but not much in armored things. But note that the Russians needed to kill a lot of Germans to save themselves, and we needed to have Germans killed so we could "liberate" Western Europe. The Russians kind of thought that we bought control of Western Europe with American material and Russian lives. But there was no Western Armor that was considered suitable for combat on the Eastern Front. I have read that the gunsight of the late war Stalin III tank was made in US, couldn't confirm it.
  4. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    The Germans like every one else in the European theater were trying for something better.

    At the begining of the Second World War most countries had 37mm anti-tank guns for their infantry. The Brits had 2 pounder guns (40mm) and the USSR had 47 mm guns.

    As the war progressed tanks got better armor and the anti-tank guns had to get better.

    The U.S. had during different phases of the war: 37mm, 75mm, 57mm, 3", 76mm, and finaly 90 mm anti-tank guns.

    With the U.S. Army's 75mm, 3" and 76mm guns you had three guns of similar caliber. The 3" and 76mm guns had much better anti-tank capability than the old 75 mm gun that was based on the French 75mm gun from 1897! The 3" and 76 mm guns were about equal in penetration against armor, but the 76mm gun was more compact.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2010
  5. jlloyd73

    jlloyd73 New Member

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    Wouldn't it also have something to do with the Germans using factories in different countries that they had taken over in WW2? They would have needed to use what was there and not try to retro fit some much machinery.
  6. 17thfabn

    17thfabn New Member

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    The Germans used some captured factories and alot of captured weapons. They had 47mm anti-tank guns from the Czechs, 76mm howitzers from the USSR converted into anti-tank guns and old French 75mm guns pressed into anti-tank gun service just to name a few.
  7. Millwright

    Millwright Well-Known Member

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    Its characteristic of the German WW2 effort so much of its technical development (fortunately) was fragmented by conflicting directorates and rivalries among manufacturers, bureaucrats and military combines. As late as early-1944 the Germans hadn't converted their economy to a wartime footing, despite air raids and overseas setbacks that heralded eventual invasion.

    The saga of German armour is just one of many such. Even as Herr Hitler was decreeing "this is the one", - perhaps for the fourth time that week - his henchmen, and their pet manufacturers were coniving to produce what they wanted - or had the material/expertise on hand to do.....And let the Weremacht Supply Oberkomando sort it all out !

    For example Henschel produced a monster tank using the swiss watch of engine design, yet continued to use a straight cut gear final drive prone to sabotage, damage or failure it knew would happen ! Drivers' were proscribed from using top gear when driving them ! The late appointment of Albert Speer to rationalize weapons development and production came far too late, IMO, to be more than delaying defeat . >MW
  8. Old Steve

    Old Steve New Member

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    Millright's comments are very accurate and rarely noted. The Marine term C_F_ surely applies to much of what they did. Hitler often gave spesific instructions that were ignored because of attitude or that material wasn't available, and they weren't always correct anyway. An entire culture based on the necessity of telling the boss what he wants to hear tends to have that problem.
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