Are surprisingly entertaining. Who knew?
The Tiger wasn’t that much of a big deal. The Germans had mostly given up on heavy tanks until they encountered the KV-1 heavy tank in the Soviet Union. The Tiger was a response to the KV-1 and the Panther was a response to the T-34. The first German Panzer tanks weren’t even able to penetrate the armor of the British Matilda tanks during the Battle of France. They were only able to stop the Matildas with Stuka dive bombers and artillery. If you examine the Battle of France more carefully the main issue the Allies had back then was a lack of coordination and poor combined tactics rather than their equipment was usually superior to what the Germans had. Even the Western allies had heavy tanks as well. The British nearer the end of the war had the Centurion MBT and the US had the Pershing tank. Although these tanks came too late to the European theater to make a difference up gunned mass manufactured medium tanks filled the gap quite well.
Yeah, the biggest advantage the German tanks enjoyed over their allied counterparts during the Battle of France was that every German tank had a 2 way radio. French tanks had a ridiculous mechanism that would control semaphore flags mounted to the top of the turret or little signal lights that could blink out Morse code. Also, the German Panzers had much better crew accommodations. The French tanks had turrets that could only seat one crew member which means the tank commander was also the gunner and the loader. Whereas the German Panzer’s turret could house 3 crew to perform dedicated functions. Not only could the Panzers fire faster they could spot targets quicker and place more accurate fire on target.
Tank warfare doctrine in the early parts of the WWII was laughable by today’s standards. It was thought that your heavier tanks were to engage the opposing infantry and actually avoided head to head battles with enemy tanks. Thats why the Panzer IV originally came with a low velocity 75mm main gun that lobbed high explosive shells only. The duty of tank destroying was dedicated to lightly armored but fast and mobile tanks like the Panzer III or the American M10. Hell, the M10 didn’t even have a roof on the turret and the armor was even thinner than the lightly armored Sherman tank. The thinking was that you’d engage the enemy infantry with your tanks, draw out their tanks which would be brought in to support their infantry, and then bring in the lighter tank destroyers to flank the enemy tanks to the side or rear where the armor protection was weaker.
When I first climbed in to a German Panzer IV (At Aberdeen proving ground) I was amazed at how small it was, and the Panzer III and earlier tanks looked like little armoured Ford Pintos. The Tigers and Panthers, however, were big and impressive.
If you think this is entertaining, you should see the V-2 preparation manual for field troops. 30+ years ago it was in the MIT Aero/Astro dept library.
I seem to remember that it had even more (not so) soft p+rn in it. I guess it took more motivation to work with the 4-6 different kinds of very unpleasant fluids required to run the turbines et al on the V2 (ok A4 if you insist).
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