Battlefield performance of the Tiger II (King Tiger)

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Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 14 Apr 2004 13:43

Claus

As I said, you are obviously more knowledgeable than I am. I have no data - just seeing the tanks in real life makes me wonder how, in the situation the Reich found itself in, the heavy use of resources to build these over-sized and over-weight monsters (with in the Panther case completely inadequate side armour to boot) could be justified. Thinking about it now, maybe I just would like to believe that it was engine size forcing the total vehicle size.

I simply fail to see how the advantages in ammo load-out and ergonomics can make up for the added resource input required to bring the tank onto the battlefield.

So you are probably right about design philosophy then, and I just need to accept that the Germans had a fairly silly one, in my view, given the other constraints their war economy was under.

Any idea why they did not go for Diesel engines, BTW?

Thanks a lot for the education.

Andreas

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cbo
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Post by cbo » 14 Apr 2004 14:58

Andreas,

Just to get it clear, I'm not out to lecture you or anyone else and I don't know much about this engine business myself - but I do have a book sitting on my shelf with some interesting data in it :)
Andreas wrote: Claus
I have no data - just seeing the tanks in real life makes me wonder how, in the situation the Reich found itself in, the heavy use of resources to build these over-sized and over-weight monsters (with in the Panther case completely inadequate side armour to boot) could be justified. Thinking about it now, maybe I just would like to believe that it was engine size forcing the total vehicle size.
Nah, I think we have to accept that the Germans were simply stupid :D
Andreas wrote:I simply fail to see how the advantages in ammo load-out and ergonomics can make up for the added resource input required to bring the tank onto the battlefield.
I'd say ammo load is quite critical. If you run out of ammunition, you have to brake off the engagement and go back - often way back - to fetch some more. Without ammunition, the tank is useless. And ammunition was often used at a very high rate. I recall one story about a Tiger tank at Kursk that had to replace the guy loading the gun twice in one day of battle because he became exhausted from feeding the gun. WWII gunnery was not very exact, it could take a number of rounds just to get the range to the target and then several more to destroy it.

Ergonomics is of course a relative issue, no tank is like a living room. I dont know if you have been inside any WWII AFVs but my experience have been that most are absolutely horrible in this respect. This includes the Tiger I btw. I dont know about the JS-II, but the T-34 is a bit of a mess. You sit fine in the drivers seat IF you have a couple of vertebraes surgically removed. The Panther is without comparison the most business like WWII AFV I've ever sat in and I'd doubt the Tiger would be any worse.
Andreas wrote: So you are probably right about design philosophy then, and I just need to accept that the Germans had a fairly silly one, in my view, given the other constraints their war economy was under.
FWIW I think the Soviets had a more forward looking design philosophy - when developing a tank engine in the late 1930ies they opted for diesel, they choose a rearmounted engine/transmission, they dropped the hull gunner in the IS-II and even if they took the issue of size too far in the IS-II and III for my taste, they were clearly looking forward. The Germans would seem to think so as well, if you look at the post-war Leopard 1 tank - has a lot more in common with a IS-II than a Panther in my view. On the other hand, the Panther left virtually no mark on the world of tank design, not even its most excellent features like the suspension was ever copied to a production vehicle.

Claus B

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Alter Mann
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Design Philosophy

Post by Alter Mann » 14 Apr 2004 20:20

A tremendous number of intersting information and speculation here. I have to admit that I agree with several people that have opposing views. Let me just throw a few things in and see if I can muddy the waters a little more.

Regarding the Russian report, I will make only one observation. One of the famous 'Shot 43s' near the end was made at the side of the turret by a 122mm HE round. Range doesn't really matter with HE. You will note however, that the crack they mention runs between two existing shot holes, and that the side of the turret generally looks like Swiss cheese. I suppose it is possible to figure out the sequnce of the shots from the numbers, and I didn't check that, but, based on a basic knowledge of metallurgy, I would suspect that the two holes that the crack connects were made before the HE round was fired. Especially considering the changes in the metalurgy of the turret wall caused by all the shots, it seems to me that the HE shot crack is quite consistent with metallurgical expectations, and may or may not have ocurred if it was the only shot fired at the turret. Those large holes in the turret affect the crystalline structure of the entire metal plate, not just a small area around the hole. Just considering heat, creating those holes causes a tremendous amount of heat, and it affects the whole plate, and the turret, although the effect at any point is a matter of the actual thermal conductivity of the metal alloy. If properly heat treated and cooled, and if the carbon content was within limits, it is quite possible to turn a plate like that into something that would totally shatter on impact, or even that could be completely penetrated by a copper sheathed rifle bullet from a distance. We have to keep in mind that steel used in assembly is not necessarily in its final crystalline structure. It can be re-heated, re-cooled, and even have new ingredients added to it, in order to give it a completely different set of characteristics.

As far as design philosphy, lets start with the basics. I personally feel that the Russian and German approaches were more effects of leadership and economics than design. The Russians like to have lots of stuff. Look at the number of airborne units and armored units they had before the war. They aren't particularly intersted in ergonomics (because they had lots of available manpower and could afford the costs of human casualties due to poor design), and they have more resources than the Germans do, but less industrial sophistication. The Germans like to have well built, effective stuff, that is complicated (its a German thing and was very prevalent at the time.), but have less available manpower and fewer natural resources. On either side, what would YOUR design philosopy be?

Let's talk about engine design for a minute. How many of you know what country dominated the Grand Prix of automobile racing during the late pre-war years? Of course, it was Germany. The German cars, from Mercedes-Benz, or Auto Union were so powerful for their size and weight that they caused a revolution in tire technology because they had a tendency to rip the rubber tread off the tires, and I don't think that tire changes were allowed back then. Did Germany have the technology to build small powerful engines? I think so. I also think that the Maybachs were as small as the Germans could make them and still produce enough torque and power to move the tanks at a reasonable speed. On Panzerworld I got involved in a long discussion about the design of the HL-230, HL-245 and an X-16 Diesel engine that was under development at the end of the war as a prospective replacement. I sure learned a lot. Believe me, the HL-230/245, basically the same engine, were miracles of space saving at the time, especially considering the shortages of materials.

The Diesel fuel question came up in that forum as well. The consensus was that, although Diesel fuel made sense, Germany didn't have much in the way of Diesel fuel production capacity, so there was no incentive for designers to work on high powered Diesel engines for tanks. Now THIS is a silly issue. I think it would have been a lot more efficient for the Germans to increase Diesel production than it was to stick to gasoline for AFVs, but then, I wasn't there.

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Post by Andreas » 15 Apr 2004 14:50

cbo wrote:Andreas,

Just to get it clear, I'm not out to lecture you or anyone else and I don't know much about this engine business myself - but I do have a book sitting on my shelf with some interesting data in it :)
Claus

You are doing a good job with me though. Much appreciated.

I presume you are the same Claus B from the BFC forums?

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Post by cbo » 15 Apr 2004 18:54

Andreas wrote:
cbo wrote:Andreas,

Just to get it clear, I'm not out to lecture you or anyone else and I don't know much about this engine business myself - but I do have a book sitting on my shelf with some interesting data in it :)
Claus

You are doing a good job with me though. Much appreciated.

I presume you are the same Claus B from the BFC forums?
Yes, that would likely be me :)

Claus B

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Re: Battlefield performance of the Tiger II (King Tiger)

Post by nks1974 » 09 Jul 2021 17:14

Weapons are as good as the tactics. See the battle of Ogledow 1944 and battle of lake balaton 1945. There are several other examples of failures of the German Tank Weapons in the last two years of the war.

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Re:

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 10 Jul 2021 04:22

Andreas wrote:
14 Apr 2004 13:43
(with in the Panther case completely inadequate side armour to boot)
Curiously running the maths the Panther's side armor was in line with the Sherman's per unit of weight.

Your lightest sherman weighed 30 tons and had side armor of 38mm.

Your average panther weighed 44 tons and had side armor of 50mm (45mm sloped with the early ones, 50mm slightly less sloped later on) on the upper areas and 40mm on the lower areas, although covered by 5mm shurtzen and the large number of roadwheels totalling around 50mm.

44 divided by 30 is 1.4, 38 times 1.4 is 53mm.

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Re: Battlefield performance of the Tiger II (King Tiger)

Post by Trilisser, M. A. » 10 Jul 2021 15:25

Some points:

1. HL 230 may have been been a space-saving miracle, but in return its specific fuel consumption was very high and its torque curve BAD. Due to the last issue tanks equipped needed transmission with unnecessarily high number of gears (7 forward in the Panther, 8 in the Tigers).

2. The Panther's side armour was very bood for a 45-ton tank. Just compare it to the KV-1/IS-2. One major reason for this is that the tank's interior volume was unnecessarily large due to high power (to meet the original ridiculous 55 km/h speed requirement), large fuel capacity (due to high power coupled with inefficient engine), space-demanding suspension (the space taken by the double-torsion bar suspension was not insignificant). The same ergonomics, firepower, ammo capacity, armour and practical mobility could have been had in a design 10 tons lighter (=eliminate hull gunner, use diesel engine, reduce speed requirement to a perfectly adequate 40 km/h, use simpler suspension mounted externally).

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Re: Battlefield performance of the Tiger II (King Tiger)

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 10 Jul 2021 16:32

Trilisser, M. A. wrote:
10 Jul 2021 15:25
Some points:

1. HL 230 may have been been a space-saving miracle, but in return its specific fuel consumption was very high and its torque curve BAD. Due to the last issue tanks equipped needed transmission with unnecessarily high number of gears (7 forward in the Panther, 8 in the Tigers).

2. The Panther's side armour was very bood for a 45-ton tank. Just compare it to the KV-1/IS-2. One major reason for this is that the tank's interior volume was unnecessarily large due to high power (to meet the original ridiculous 55 km/h speed requirement), large fuel capacity (due to high power coupled with inefficient engine), space-demanding suspension (the space taken by the double-torsion bar suspension was not insignificant). The same ergonomics, firepower, ammo capacity, armour and practical mobility could have been had in a design 10 tons lighter (=eliminate hull gunner, use diesel engine, reduce speed requirement to a perfectly adequate 40 km/h, use simpler suspension mounted externally).
To be fair the Panther had nearly double the front armor of a KV, 75 for a KV and 130-140 effective due to the Panther's slope. In addition to the Panther's gun having like twice the penetration, thus needing a huge amount of internal volume for the relatively long/massive casings.

Also the Panther was way more agile/faster than the KV.

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Re: Battlefield performance of the Tiger II (King Tiger)

Post by Trilisser, M. A. » 18 Jul 2021 21:03

Speed is overrated. The Centurion was much slower than the Panther, yet it ate Panthers for breakfast.

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Re: Battlefield performance of the Tiger II (King Tiger)

Post by nks1974 » 18 Jul 2021 22:57

Trilisser, M. A. wrote:
18 Jul 2021 21:03
Speed is overrated. The Centurion was much slower than the Panther, yet it ate Panthers for breakfast.
link to combat report

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Re: Battlefield performance of the Tiger II (King Tiger)

Post by Trilisser, M. A. » 19 Jul 2021 01:42

What for? Are you seriously suggesting that the Panther was better than the Centurion? The Panther was an excellent example of what goes wrong when a battlefield weapon is designed by engineering theoreticians. A tank that was supposed to be a weapon of operational manoeuvre was totally incapable of reliabie operational manoeuvre.

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Re: Battlefield performance of the Tiger II (King Tiger)

Post by nks1974 » 19 Jul 2021 06:52

Trilisser, M. A. wrote:
19 Jul 2021 01:42
What for?
They never fought.

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Re: Battlefield performance of the Tiger II (King Tiger)

Post by ThatZenoGuy » 19 Jul 2021 07:08

Trilisser, M. A. wrote:
19 Jul 2021 01:42
What for? Are you seriously suggesting that the Panther was better than the Centurion? The Panther was an excellent example of what goes wrong when a battlefield weapon is designed by engineering theoreticians. A tank that was supposed to be a weapon of operational manoeuvre was totally incapable of reliabie operational manoeuvre.
I am pretty certain the various Allied forces facing Panthers weren't thinking "Good thing that tank was designed by theoretical engineers and not burly manly war men!", they were probably rather annoyed by its frontal armor being nearly impenetrable to most guns, and having a cannon that would go through a sherman anywhere like it was nothing.

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Re: Battlefield performance of the Tiger II (King Tiger)

Post by Trilisser, M. A. » 19 Jul 2021 09:38

I think you should read Steven Zaloga's Armored Champion to fully understand my point. What is the point of having "nearly impenetrable" armour if the tank isn't there? The Panther was designed as the main tank of armor divisions. And armor divisions are weapons of operational manoeuvre. Which means that an armoured division should be able to move quickly distances measures in hundreds of kilometres. And how one is going to achieve that with tanks whose final drives last at worst 150 km? Tanks whose de facto operational mobility depends of railways? One cannot.

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