Sunday, 26 October 2014

Cheating at Statistics 9: Art Imitates Life

Continuing the theme of investigating the battles specified in "Directive of the Military Council of the 1st Ukrainian Front on the use of IS-2 and ISU-152 regiments in combat", here is another engagement, this time between Tigers of s.Pz.Abt 509 and Soviet IS-2s from 72nd GTTP and ISU-152s from 399 GTSAP.

Schneider's records of this battle favour the German side:

"19 April 1944: 18 Tigers support the attack on Isakow, but they erroneously attack to the south in the direction of Podwerbce. Belatedly, some tanks close in on Isakow, preventing enemy forces from escaping to the south. In conjunction with the 101. Jager-Division, which is attacking from the east, the enemy forces are totally destroyed by the Tigers."

When records of both sides are compared, I have often found that "totally destroyed" forces tend to not notice their total destruction at the hands of Tiger battalions, and continue pushing on. In those cases, the Tiger unit tends to clear out of the area of operations, usually with heavy losses. 

"20 April 1944: The battalion gathers in the area of Buczacz (3 of 29 Tigers operational) and is transported to Kolomea. It remains there as a field-army reserve and a training unit for Hungarian crews on the Tiger tank."

Thought so. Let's see how much "total destruction" 15 lost Tigers achieved. The Germans are attacking southwards from Buchach (the previously recorded location in the diary), so it's very possible that they took a slightly wrong heading and ended up in the neighbouring Podverbtsy. Unfortunately for them, heavy Soviet guns were waiting north of Gerasimov.

"The 72nd Guards Heavy Tank Regiment was assigned to the 11th Guards Tank Corps, and was tasked to fire from an ambush. in a second echelon, 1.5-2 km from the front line. It took up positions in houses north of Gerasimov.
...the enemy penetrated our defenses at Podvertse and Zhivachuv. IS-122 tanks opened fire from a distance of 1.5 kilometers. As a result, 6 tanks were knocked out and 3 burned, 6 of which were Tigers."

"399th GTSAP was assigned to 11th Guards Tank Corps, and by 7 am set up in the ranks of 27th Motorized Infantry Brigade, with the objective of not letting the enemy break through Navziska and Gerasimuv from Zhivachuv.
...after an artillery barrage, 7 enemy tanks attacked the motorized infantry. The batteries opened fire from 1400-1500 meters. First shots ignited several enemy tanks. The rest advanced and tried to hit from the flank, despite fire from the SPGs.  On the left flank, 10 enemy tanks started flanking the batteries. In order to liquidate the menace, a reserve battery was deployed, which knocked out three tanks with one volley. The rest of the tanks withdrew.

The regiment fought for 7 hours, deflecting tanks and infantry. As a result, the enemy attack failed, and they were stopped at the road between Zhivachuv and Navziska. Total enemy losses: 13 tanks (6 burned and 7 knocked out) and up to 100 soldiers and officers."

So we have 18 Tigers that attacked southwards. The Soviets claimed 6 Tigers knocked out in the initial attack, "several" knocked out by SPGs an hour later when 7 tanks attacked, and three more knocked out when 10 tanks attacked their flank.  This makes a total of 9 Tigers, and 4 other unidentified tanks (perhaps also Tigers, the diary doesn't mention cooperation with any other unit). The Germans go from 18 Tigers supporting the attack to 3 Tigers during their withdrawal the next day. A claim of 13 Tigers is entirely reasonable in this engagement, with two more Tigers that could have been knocked out by other means or bogged down somewhere.

The German claims in this engagement remind me of a certain Star Trek episode. The first thing that came to mind was "You look, er, quite well for a man who's been... utterly destroyed, Mr. Spock."


  1. "When records of both sides are compared, I have often found that "totally destroyed" forces tend to not notice their total destruction at the hands of Tiger battalions, and continue pushing on. In those cases, the Tiger unit tends to clear out of the area of operations, usually with heavy losses."

    I love you ;)
    Seriously, that made my day!

  2. One little thing I noticed is when Russian units are wiped out there are fewer 'heroes' mentioned who claimed a specific number of kills.
    OTOH there were certainly a good number of Russian tanks to hold back that score of Tigers:
    11th Guards Tank Corps: Lt. General of Tank Forces Getman,
    40th Guards Tank Brigade;1st, 2nd, 3rd Tank Battalions,40th Gds Mtz Rifle Battalion.
    44th Guards Tank Brigade;1st, 2nd, 3rd Tank Battalions,44th Gds Mtz Rifle Battalion.
    45th Guards Tank Brigade;1st, 2nd, 3rd Tank Battalions,45th Gds Mtz Rifle Battalion.
    27th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade;2 rifle, 1 SMG battalion
    399th SU Regiment (21 SU-152)
    BTW a company of heavy tanks is only 5.

  3. Even when in some cases the Nazis exaggerate their claims, in the end, they pwned the shit out of those silly Soviets, which is reflected in mulitple sources of Zaloga, Ness, Glantz and even Krivosheev. 1:7 (1941); 1:6 (1942); 1:4 (1943); 1:4 (1944) and 1:1,2(1945) giving a ratio of 1:4,4 in favor to Nazis. So much about russian superiorty! lol

    1. Soviet losses are recorded differently. Tanks that are disabled in any way (stuck in mud, lost a track, etc) count as a losses, whereas the Germans don't count something as a loss unless it's lost completely and cannot even be rebuilt at the factory. You cannot compare those two numbers directly.

    2. How it would look like, according to you?

      The German lost more tanks due mechanical unreliable transmissions, immobilization and over-engineered heavy tanks; which led fairly often to a total loss. Not to mention those constantly breakdowns, and fuel shortages (german tanks guzzle like no tomorrow) which led the tank also to be abandoned. Otto Carious describes in his book, that he did barley lost a tank in combat, but rather due break downs. So, it can be fairly said, you can compare those results, or why you think those scholars like Zaloga, Glantz and did Krivosheev did it?

    3. Otto Carius writes that he barely lost a tank in combat specifically due to mechanical failure. If you actually read his book, there are plenty of tanks lost in combat under his command, including his own.

      Glantz, Zaloga, and Krivosheev also give the Soviet:Axis casualty ratio as approximately 1.1:1 Overy gives even more favourable numbers. How could the Soviets lose 7 times the tanks but 1.1 times the men? Were German tanks just deathtraps whose crews couldn't hope to leave alive?

      The figures are compared because there is nothing else to compare. The Germans did not keep any other kind of statistics, the Soviets did not keep any other kind of statistics.

    4. To be honest, Glantz doesn't differentiate the casualties neither Zaloga nor Krivosheev for the Germans. They just pick the irrevocable 5,3 mio loss in the room and make some estimations about losses in the East, or how it was composite. In fact, the Germans have lost only 3,4 mio soldiers, whereas the other 1,9 mio soldiers are foreigners with an equated status of German soldiers and with all appreciated honours. Overman explain that very well in his Study and why it was so eminent important to keep that honor of those fallen soldiers. That is the reason why you are more confronted with the 3,4 mio figure that the 5,3 mio. (just as a little explanation)

      The Soviet tanks loss is not 7 times greater but around 4 (overall) according to some authors (mentioned earlier) which stand in coherence to the 28 mio of total armed forces losses.

      Exactly, it's pretty meaningless to compare them to each other, since there are to many unknown variables between them. Still, people recently use and cherry-picking it as an overall fact. The same can be said about your blog entries, but I ain't here to criticize you, since its a common way to polarize

      (btw. i'm not the first poster, only joined the discussion)

    5. (yet another anonymous necroposter)

      The soviet "tank" loss is not even close to "4 times greater" either if you count SPG and beutepanzer losses as well. Total german AFV production is often greatly underestimated, even by Krivosheev. Tucker-Jones gives about 53k german+czech fully tracked armed vehicles produced and over 3k french+italian used by germans. Approx 80% of these were used (and spent) in the East (a few hundred left before capitulation).

  4. "How could the Soviets lose 7 times the tanks but 1.1 times the men? "
    You have to point to battles not include all losses to everything. Artillery, bombing, illness and starving kills many more men than tanks.

    1. Well let's see, let's take that 4.4 overall Krivosheev gives. That's for all losses, temporary and permanent. 70% of knocked out Soviet tanks were repaired. That gives us a ratio of 1.32:1, not counting vehicles that were repaired more than once.

      A 7:1 ratio, or even a 4:1 ratio, is simply not sustainable once you start looking at the production numbers. Not of tanks, since the Soviets recorded rebuilt tank as new ones, unlike the Germans, but things like guns, parts kits, engines, etc.

    2. Why do You think so?

      If you look at the production numbers. 4:1 is sustainable.

      You might consider Germany didnt fight only the soviet Union with the produced material.

    3. Apparently the point of the story is to trumpet the accomplishments of the IS-122 tanks and ISU SPs. No mention of the support of the hundreds of medium tanks and anti-tank guns present.

    4. Hundreds of medium tanks and anti-tank guns? Where did they come from?

    5. Per post #2 11th Guards Tank Corps normally had 3 tank brigades of 3 battalions each OOB = 2 x 65 = 195 medium tanks.
      In 1944 a Mechanized brigade OOB contains a tank regiment of 41 tanks. total = 236.
      The corps would also contain at least an odd AT gun regiment and su regiment.

    6. that is 3 x 65 = 195

    7. And they were all sitting here within a span of a kilometer or two? It's a wonder they all fit.

    8. "The first line of defense is infantry, artillery, and medium tanks. Behind them, 500-600 meters away, are 2-3 companies of IS and ISU tanks. 800-1000 meters behind are the rest of the regiments's tanks, acting as a mobile reserve."
      According to that they are in three echelons not in a single line hub to hub.

    9. Thanks, I read my own article. Look up how far a Tiger company is spaced out when attacking, and then maybe revise your estimate of how many Soviet tanks they would have fought.

      And if there were N hundred Soviet tanks and guns shoved into every nook and cranny like you assert, that makes the German claim of "totally destroying" them seem that much more ridiculous.

    10. "19 April 1944: 18 Tigers support the attack on Isakow, but they erroneously attack to
      the south in the direction of Podwerbce. Belatedly, some tanks close in on Isakow, preventing
      enemy forces from escaping to the south. In coLtiunction with the 101. Jager-Division,
      which is attacking from the east, the enemy forces are totally destroyed by the Tigers."

      The report claim to have destroyed the soviet forces in Isakow, not in Podvertse or Zhivachuv.

    11. There is no record of any Soviet forces deployed at Isakov.

    12. So the germans are attacking an empty village and need Two panzer panzer abteilung to take this?
      You know that the PzAbt 506 is attacking Isakow in the same day right?

      In the document "Combat engagement guidance for JS-122 Guards Heavy Tank Regiments and JSU-152 Guards Self-Propelled Guns Regiments"
      I noted you "forget" to put the dates of the engagements described:
      1-The combat occurred in April 20th 1944, what remove Pz Abt 506 from the battle (retired from front), what leave only Pz Abt 509 in the place(with tigers of course)

      2-They claim "Losses of the enemy: 13 tanks (6 burnt and 7 hit) and to 100 soldiers and officers."
      They don't specific the the type of tanks destroyed, the report only mention 6 tigers hits or burned, the conclusion that all tanks are tigers is your conclusion.

      The diary from Pz abt 509 :
      "20 April 1944: Defensive operations near Olescha with the 1. Infanterie-Division. 1
      Tiger (Oberfeldwebel Leihbauer) is ambushed by an assault gun near the railway line and
      knocked out. Subsequent movement to the southeast. Commander of the 2./schwere
      Panzer-Abteilung 506, Oberleutnant Brandt, is killed."

      So they only report 1 destroyed tiger, of course one big fault of the "Tigers in combat" is that he dont report damaged tank or at least operational tanks in daily bases.

      The majority of losses inflicted are against the II./Panzer Regiment 23, like you see in report:

      "On 16 April 44, the II./PR23, minus the 5th Company was directed to Stanislau. By 19 April, the battalion had arrived in Stanislau by both road march and rail transport and was further attached to Panzergruppe Knorr of the 17. Panzer-Division. In a road march conducted at night, the battalion moved through Tysmienica and reached a staging area in Jezierzany, 35 kilometers southeast of Stanislau. There it was supposed to support the attack of Kampfgruppe Bruxs on the high ground south of Zywaczow with its 30 operational Panthers. The majority of the 6./PR ran into mines; the two other companies suffered heavy losses to the exceptionally strong Soviet antiarmor defenses. In the course of that difficult fighting, the battalion totally lost 15 Panthers, while destroying of six enemy tanks and eight anti tank guns. "

    13. You have still failed to demonstrate what unit the Germans "totally destroyed". The point of this article was to demonstrate that there was no such unit, not to quibble pettily about the precise number of Tigers lost somewhere.

    14. I think the point of all these articles is exactly to be "quibble pettily about the precise number of Tigers lost somewhere" or the tanks they claim destroyed.

      And for the forces destroyed in isakov:
      67th Rifle Corps(If my translation is correct), but i have a map to backup it.

    15. There's a difference between precise numbers and rounding errors vs. dozens or hundreds of overclaimed kills.

      Also the unit you circled is placed at Gerasimuv, way south of the river, whereas Podverbtsy is right by the river.

    16. Oh, also the unit there was composed of two exhausted infantry regiments with no tanks or artillery. Is that really a mighty force that led to the loss of 15 Tigers?

  5. Why nowhere a source is given? Who his that Schneider? What's his full name and service grade?

    1. Wolfgang Schneider? He's kind of a big deal.

  6. "27th Motorized Infantry Corps"
    I haven't been able to find this in any OOB.

    1. Assigned to 11th Guards TK, just like the heavy tanks:

    2. Your link is to 27th Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade not 'Corps'. I misread it for my Oct 27 post OOB but I re-read your article and it has 'Corps'.

    3. My mistake, it should be a brigade.