The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

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Don Juan
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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by Don Juan » 19 Apr 2018 09:27

MarkN wrote: That passage you mention from Briggs does not refer to the breakdowns in the Queen's Bays Regiment, it refers to the state in a single squadron of QBays!!!! The other two squadrons suffered similarly. The next day, when the Regiment launched their 'attack' on the Somme bridges, that same squadron managed to put zero Cruiser Tanks into the field.
It's noteworthy that at the meeting with Briggs on the 23rd May, Roger Evans justified his original intention for the QB's to only go as far as the River Bresle by stating that "it was the best he could do as they would have to refill with fuel." Evans would later produce a report that stated that ""On the whole the A.13 proved satisfactory both mechanically and tactically". As I pointed out previously, there were no complaints in any of the war diaries about the Cruisers having broken down.

So was this a fuel issue? i.e. by driving straight on to the Somme, were the Cruisers falling out due to lack of fuel or vapour locks, rather than mechanical breakdowns?
"The demonstration, as a demonstration, was a failure. The sunshield would not fit the tank. Altogether it was rather typically Middle Easty."
- 7th Armoured Brigade War Diary, 30th August 1941

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by MarkN » 19 Apr 2018 13:28

Don Juan wrote:
MarkN wrote:That passage you mention from Briggs does not refer to the breakdowns in the Queen's Bays Regiment, it refers to the state in a single squadron of QBays!!!! The other two squadrons suffered similarly. The next day, when the Regiment launched their 'attack' on the Somme bridges, that same squadron managed to put zero Cruiser Tanks into the field.
It's noteworthy that at the meeting with Briggs on the 23rd May, Roger Evans justified his original intention for the QB's to only go as far as the River Bresle by stating that "it was the best he could do as they would have to refill with fuel." Evans would later produce a report that stated that ""On the whole the A.13 proved satisfactory both mechanically and tactically". As I pointed out previously, there were no complaints in any of the war diaries about the Cruisers having broken down.
I don't necessarily see a contradiction between high drop out rate and Evans' words above. I can think of at least 3 reasons - albeit just speculating - that would square this apparant contradiction. I'm sure there are many others too.
Similarly, a lack of complaints is just a consequence of not being surprised or recognising other factors were in play. Nevertheless, those same war diaries also give a good indication of the drop out rate.
Don Juan wrote:So was this a fuel issue? i.e. by driving straight on to the Somme, were the Cruisers falling out due to lack of fuel or vapour locks, rather than mechanical breakdowns?
I suggest Evans was thinking tactically and wanted his pantsers to go into combat with full tanks not empty ones.

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by Urmel » 22 Apr 2018 00:17

10 Dec 41 - GHQ ME states that the Mk. VI tank was basically fine.
2. Our tanks.
Mk VI (A15) Tanks are very good and are a good gun platform. They had little maintenance. They have been operating for 14 days with no opportunity for maintenance. Some tanks in one Brigade did over 500 miles in the first 8 days of operations.
The above is all about the Crusader. Now, the thing to consider here is that they managed to lose most of them very quickly, so the sample of tanks that made it through the first 14 days without being punctured by a German gun would be very small I think.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by MarkN » 22 Apr 2018 15:16

Urmel wrote:10 Dec 41 - GHQ ME states that the Mk. VI tank was basically fine.
2. Our tanks.
Mk VI (A15) Tanks are very good and are a good gun platform. They had little maintenance. They have been operating for 14 days with no opportunity for maintenance. Some tanks in one Brigade did over 500 miles in the first 8 days of operations.
The above is all about the Crusader. Now, the thing to consider here is that they managed to lose most of them very quickly, so the sample of tanks that made it through the first 14 days without being punctured by a German gun would be very small I think.
The information coming out of Cairo regarding the Crusader tank was most contradictory - as we have discussed previously.

Your quote mirrors that contained in the documents I posted here: https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=216042 - which have now disappeared into the internet ether. Lower down the thread I also quoted what Peter Brown found and wrote about in other documents dated the very same day stating the complete opposite!

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by Don Juan » 22 Apr 2018 20:38

Urmel wrote:10 Dec 41 - GHQ ME states that the Mk. VI tank was basically fine.
2. Our tanks.
Mk VI (A15) Tanks are very good and are a good gun platform. They had little maintenance. They have been operating for 14 days with no opportunity for maintenance. Some tanks in one Brigade did over 500 miles in the first 8 days of operations.
The above is all about the Crusader. Now, the thing to consider here is that they managed to lose most of them very quickly, so the sample of tanks that made it through the first 14 days without being punctured by a German gun would be very small I think.
I think it depends on what regiments are reporting back, when they are reporting back, and who is picking up their messages. 6 RTR had a high opinion of the Crusader, and there are reports from later than this date that state that they still thought it was a good tank - though it must have been only the remnants of this unit that were being canvassed. I think 7th Hussars, who adopted the Crusader much later, had problems with it from the start.

One of the problems with the British tendency to squander tanks en masse was not so much the lost tanks, but the lost crews - there was a lot of valuable experience (literally) going up in smoke. I think this had a much greater negative effect on tank performance than is generally recognised, because it cannot really be quantified.
"The demonstration, as a demonstration, was a failure. The sunshield would not fit the tank. Altogether it was rather typically Middle Easty."
- 7th Armoured Brigade War Diary, 30th August 1941

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by Urmel » 22 Apr 2018 23:53

MarkN wrote:
Urmel wrote:10 Dec 41 - GHQ ME states that the Mk. VI tank was basically fine.
2. Our tanks.
Mk VI (A15) Tanks are very good and are a good gun platform. They had little maintenance. They have been operating for 14 days with no opportunity for maintenance. Some tanks in one Brigade did over 500 miles in the first 8 days of operations.
The above is all about the Crusader. Now, the thing to consider here is that they managed to lose most of them very quickly, so the sample of tanks that made it through the first 14 days without being punctured by a German gun would be very small I think.
The information coming out of Cairo regarding the Crusader tank was most contradictory - as we have discussed previously.

Your quote mirrors that contained in the documents I posted here: https://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=216042 - which have now disappeared into the internet ether. Lower down the thread I also quoted what Peter Brown found and wrote about in other documents dated the very same day stating the complete opposite!
Oh yeah, I'm not endorsing it, and I have copious reports on the issues with the tank.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by MarkN » 23 Apr 2018 11:32

Don Juan wrote: I think it depends on what regiments are reporting back, when they are reporting back, and who is picking up their messages.
For the start of Op CRUSADER, the Crusader tank was used by 6RTR, 2RGH, 3CLY, 4CLY and HQ 22ArmdBde. All tanks used by them arrived in the ME brand spanking new.

Later, HQ 1ArmdDiv and 2ArmdBde arrived in Egypt. After the 'main events' of Op CRUSADER had finished, they were moved up to the front to relieve 7ArmdDiv and 22ArmdBde. They also had Crusader tanks but theirs had already been run around in the UK. Whether they had been 'overhauled' prior to embarkation I know not.

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by Don Juan » 23 Apr 2018 15:15

MarkN wrote:For the start of Op CRUSADER, the Crusader tank was used by 6RTR, 2RGH, 3CLY, 4CLY and HQ 22ArmdBde. All tanks used by them arrived in the ME brand spanking new.
Don't think it matters a huge deal if they were new when they arrived in ME. The maintenance tasks given in the instruction manuals for these tanks set tasks at every 1 month OR every 500 miles, whichever came soonest i.e. Cruiser tanks were expected to rack up substantial mileage even when going about their normal duties.

I don't know how much mileage was expended by ME units when not ostensibly in action or in training. However, I do know that in the UK 15/19 Hussars received their first reworked Covenanter III's in May 1942, and were undertaking 1000 mile maintenance by July. And this was without them having been involved in any dedicated training exercises.

With regard to 3 CLY's problems, here's a passage from this book:
A schedule was given of these breakdowns, which were in fact incurred by the 3rd County of London Yeomanry, a component unit of the 22nd Armoured Brigade, which revealed that no less than 11 A15's had broken down on the 23rd December, with on average an additional 4 breaking down on each subsequent day. The causes were a miscellany of issues, including track and suspension breakages, air compressor failures, water leaks, petrol stoppages, unserviceable fan drives and water pumps, and power traverse problems. This was an extremely controversial episode, although Captain R.H. Arbuckle of the RAOC had informed the commander of 22nd Armoured Brigade, Brigadier John Scott-Cockburn, on 4th January that these troubles were more due to the tanks involved being at the limit of their overhaul lives, than indicating inherent reliability problems:

"The reason for the large number of cruiser tank casualties due to mechanical troubles in the last battle and approach march was undoubtedly due to the fact that 90% of the tanks have exceeded the designed mileage before a complete overhaul becomes necessary. This overhaul mileage was assessed at 1200 miles and prior to the last battle most of our tanks had exceeded 1200 miles and many 1500.

The above fact reacted in two ways. First, there was a large scale failure of water pumps, air compressors and main fan drive sprockets due to wear or length of service. Secondly, owing to inadequate supply of new parts for the above assemblies, 'cannibalisation' was carried out among parts which although at the time still functioning had already performed as many service hours as the parts they replaced."


A memo from Brigadier Lloyd to the Chief of Staff (CGS) Middle East Forces, Lieutenant-General Arthur Smith, on 15th January 1942 stated that the limits imposed by the A15's overhaul life were realised before the commencement of Operation Crusader, and that an order had been issued to overhaul any machine that had less than 600 miles of operational life remaining. This couldn't be done for all regiments because the RAOC were preoccupied in modifying the axle arms for 22nd Armoured Brigade, but the majority of the Brigade's tanks were in fact within this mileage limit. However, the distance from the railhead at Misheifa, where the Brigade's tanks were unloaded, to Agedabia, which was their destination 200 miles west of Tobruk, was in the region of 400 miles, and this distance was estimated to be nearer to 700 miles after fighting and manoeuvring were taken into account. Therefore the Brigade's Crusaders could easily have exceeded their overhaul lives in this single advance, and it was calculated that 40, or 24%, of them would in fact have done this. Lloyd's memo stated that in fact 41 of 3 CLY's Crusaders had succumbed to mechanical failure, the overwhelming majority of which, being issued after October, would have been new tanks or recently overhauled, inferring that the breakdowns could not be exclusively attributed to excessive mileage. What Brigadier Lloyd didn't mention was that the regiment’s machines also included patched up battle casualties received from the 7th Armoured Division's Advanced Divisional Workshop between the 14th and 17th December, which the 4th County of London Yeomanry, also part of 22nd Armoured Brigade, described as being "in a fairly bad state and ill-equipped" and "semi-serviceable". Whether the 3 CLY's breakdowns were due to excessive mileage or not, it was clear that the Crusader's comparatively limited overhaul life was not conducive to the long approach marches required for operations in the Western Desert, and compared unfavourably to that of the M3 Stuart (3500 miles) and the Valentine (2500 miles). Lloyd estimated that the use of A15's in such circumstances would require a reserve of 100% replacement vehicles instead of the usual 50%, with the corresponding logistical implications.
"The demonstration, as a demonstration, was a failure. The sunshield would not fit the tank. Altogether it was rather typically Middle Easty."
- 7th Armoured Brigade War Diary, 30th August 1941

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by MarkN » 23 Apr 2018 21:00

Thanks for posting that Don Juan.

Scott-Cockburn lead his brigade very poorly during Crusader and the indvidual units and sub-units suffered because of it - not to mention the knock-on effect upon other formations and units too. When poor performance (or failure) is evident, other people have to be found to take the blame.

The passage you quote demonstrates the falsehood in blaming the WO, somebody in London, Churchill or whoever for the poor reliability and performance of tanks in Cyrenaica - be they 2nd Armoured Division in April or 22 Armoured Brigade in November-December. The Nuffield Cruiser Tanks were being expected to perform feats for which they were not designed.

The 2nd Armoured Division didn't perform so badly because its Cruisers were in such a poor condition because they were sent out for the UK completely knackered. Its Cruiser Tanks were in such a poor condition because of operational decisions made in the Middle East. The performance of the Division is another subject .... :wink:

The only way the Nuffield Cruiser Tanks were to be of more value over such long distances (until tank transporters were sourced) was to massively upgrade the maintenance capacity with the forward troops rather than having it so far back in the Delta.

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by ClintHardware » 23 Apr 2018 22:57

MarkN wrote: Scott-Cockburn lead his brigade very poorly during Crusader and the indvidual units and sub-units suffered because of it - not to mention the knock-on effect upon other formations and units too. When poor performance (or failure) is evident, other people have to be found to take the blame.

The passage you quote demonstrates the falsehood in blaming the WO, somebody in London, Churchill or whoever for the poor reliability and performance of tanks in Cyrenaica - be they 2nd Armoured Division in April or 22 Armoured Brigade in November-December. The Nuffield Cruiser Tanks were being expected to perform feats for which they were not designed.

The 2nd Armoured Division didn't perform so badly because its Cruisers were in such a poor condition because they were sent out for the UK completely knackered. Its Cruiser Tanks were in such a poor condition because of operational decisions made in the Middle East. The performance of the Division is another subject .... :wink:

The only way the Nuffield Cruiser Tanks were to be of more value over such long distances (until tank transporters were sourced) was to massively upgrade the maintenance capacity with the forward troops rather than having it so far back in the Delta.
Sweeping statements of unreliability and doubtful accuracy taken out of context of situations and equipment states. Beyond stating this I am not going to argue with you Mark. :wink:
Imperialism and Re-Armament NOW !

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by MarkN » 24 Apr 2018 15:39

David W wrote:I think that the main problem with the 2 pdr was the primitive solid shot ammunition.
David W wrote: We are not talking about the same round. The one I refer to is solid shot, the one you refer to is capped AP.
My understanding is that the latter was not available until August of 1942, some way after this timeframe.
David W wrote: I think that you are assuming that the A.P. Shot was in use during Crusader. whereas I am suggesting that the solid shot was the only option available to the gunners at that time. Your A.P. Shot was not available until 08/42 as I understand it.
ClintHardware wrote: In terms of type of ammunition and availability this is what I have so far:
I encountered a unit war diary recently that referred to using some 2-Pdr APHE in June 1941 so some was still available but that the majority of rounds being fired by British tank crews and British and Commonwealth anti-tank units was apparently the fully solid and inert 2-Pdr A.P. Shot. The APHE was no longer issued to frontline units in order that the slight penetration advantage of a solid AP-Shot was available. However some discussion was taking place about using it against anti-tank guns (Blagden's report IIRC) where the small HE element might detonate after penetrating the gun shield to eliminate the crew. So far I have not seen any evidence that it happened in action and have not seen any deliberate choice between 2-Pdr APHE and 2-Pdr A.P. Shot because of a type of target.
Tests conducted in February 1941 in Cyrenaica...
During the morning tests were carried out of the effect of the two types of 2-pdr ammunition on Italian M.13 tanks. These tests proved that the yellow painted explosive armour piercing projectile penetrates the armour at 900 yards and bursts inside with very destructive effect. Sand bags placed on the crews' seats were well riddled with splinters. The black painted solid A.P. projectile also penetrates at 900 yards and causes large cracks in armour.
Middle East Command quickly ran out of APHE rounds (leaving on the solid shot round available) and begged UK to send more - and were told none were available as they were out of production but they planned to restart it.

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by Michael Kenny » 02 Dec 2018 06:33

The other man's grass is not always as green as it appears................
Yoozername wrote:
30 Nov 2018 19:16
During the 13th and 15th of May, 1942, and in the course of repeated attacks by heavy and super-heavy tanks, more than 1500 projectiles were fired: 1280 projectiles Pz.Gr.38 and approximately 220 projectiles Pz.Gr.40. Of these projectiles a minimum of 1000 reached their objectives. The final result of these two days have been 14 tanks destroyed: 1 KW II, 5 T-34, 8 unidentified media models; 2 KW II were damaged. .................. the final conclusion can be reached that 107 shots of Pak 38 have been required per tank destroyed.. In spite of the fact that this figure offers a distorted image, because in addition to the 14 destroyed tanks, many other tanks were also shot that were not damaged, it is a fact that a medium or heavy tank can only be destroyed by a very high consumption of ammunition. ..............This means that against the medium and heavy tanks that the enemy currently employs the penetration power of 5 cm Pak 38 is totally insufficient, since in most cases it is not possible to carry out such a high number of shots before the tank has reached the firing position.

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by Dili » 02 Dec 2018 09:20

It depends at what range is fired.

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by critical mass » 03 Dec 2018 09:22

Michael Kenny wrote:
02 Dec 2018 06:33
The other man's grass is not always as green as it appears................
Yoozername wrote:
30 Nov 2018 19:16
During the 13th and 15th of May, 1942, and in the course of repeated attacks by heavy and super-heavy tanks, more than 1500 projectiles were fired: 1280 projectiles Pz.Gr.38 and approximately 220 projectiles Pz.Gr.40. Of these projectiles a minimum of 1000 reached their objectives. The final result of these two days have been 14 tanks destroyed: 1 KW II, 5 T-34, 8 unidentified media models; 2 KW II were damaged. .................. the final conclusion can be reached that 107 shots of Pak 38 have been required per tank destroyed.. In spite of the fact that this figure offers a distorted image, because in addition to the 14 destroyed tanks, many other tanks were also shot that were not damaged, it is a fact that a medium or heavy tank can only be destroyed by a very high consumption of ammunition. ..............This means that against the medium and heavy tanks that the enemy currently employs the penetration power of 5 cm Pak 38 is totally insufficient, since in most cases it is not possible to carry out such a high number of shots before the tank has reached the firing position.
Mind that they refer to the uncapped pzgr 38 AP-HE, not to the pzgr39 APC-HE. That makes for a significant difference as we know from these two projectile penetration graphs. KW (due to >60mm Plating) and t34 (due to high hardness armor) are immune to the Former.

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Re: The German 50 mm. Tank Gun and the Crusader Problems

Post by Yoozername » 03 Dec 2018 18:33

Why am I being quoted here? I am not part of this discussion? I have Kenny on ignore and get 'Notifications' he is quoting me?

In any case, that quote is from a report, and MK hacked it up. Basically, in addition to ammunition issues that CV mentions, that report is commenting on the briefly used KV and T-34s with the additional armor bolted or welded on plating, along with typical tanks. The Soviets dropped these additional armored packages soon after as they went from a defensive stand to an offensive one.

Edit: The ammunition for the Pak 38...note the early round is just called a 5,0 cm Pzgr Patr Pak 38

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