Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Reliability and Repairs

"Between February 22nd, 1943, and March 14th, 1943, 527 tanks were lost in offensive operations by several tank units that operated around the 10th Army. These losses are distributed as follows:

Losses KV T-34 Matilda Valentine M3 Stuart M3 Lee T-60
On marches 14
(14.3%)
44
(29.7%)
16
(41%)
11
(13.3%)
8
(16.6%)
3
(23%)
26
(12.3%)
In battle 84
(85.7%)
104
(70.3%)
23
(58.9%)
72
(86.7%)
40
(83.4%)
10
(77%)
182
(87.4%)

The amount of tanks lost in battle includes the amount of tanks lost in battle due to technical problems, but it was not possible to establish that number.

Out of the losses, most vehicles were repaired by the repair bases or the tank unit's maintenance company, but a significant amount of the losses were permanent.



KV T-34 Matilda Valentine M3 Stuart T-60 T-70
Total losses 98 148 39 83 48 208 8
Repaired at repair base 82
83.6%
102
68.9%
22
56.3%
52
62.5%
21
43.7%
125
60%
1
12.5%
Sent for major repairs 4
4.2%
16
10.8%
11
28.2%
15
18.2%
8
16.6%
25
28%
3
37.5%
Irreparable 12
12.2%
30
20.3%
6
15.5%
16
19.3%
19
39.7%
58
12%
4
50%
"

Of course, the losses are given in the Soviet style, where a single tank can be considered lost several times. For instance, the document gives an example where the 26-tank 117th Tank Brigade lost 25 tanks during marches and combat (3 on marches, 11 knocked out, 11 burned up) and still managed to have 4 tanks come back undamaged between March 18th and March 21st.

The tables paint an interesting picture. The meek T-60 is reliability star, with the traditionally "unreliable" KV keeping close. The KV also largely took insignificant damage, with a very small number of tanks lost irreparably or in bad enough condition to be sent back to the factory for major repairs. Few T-60s are irreparable, but very many have to be sent back for major repairs. 

The T-34 isn't exactly a top performer, with almost 30% of the vehicles lost on the road, but the damage is slight. It is only second to the KV in terms of vehicles repaired in the field and percent of vehicles sent back to the factory. 

The Americans are doing okay on the reliability front. The M3 Lee is a little better than the T-34 in terms of vehicles lost on the road (for some reason there is no data on repairing them), and the Stuart is up there with the best of them in terms of marches. However, it seems very difficult to repair, with the worst numbers for irreparable losses and field repairs aside from the T-70 with its very low sample size.

The contributions of the British are all over the place. The Matilda is faring poorly, with a record number of vehicles breaking during marches and a very high percentage of vehicles that need to be serviced at the factory (although the number of complete losses is low). The Valentine is the complete opposite, with a very low number of breakdowns and very high number of field repairs.

For completeness' sake, let's look at similar numbers for some German tanks.

ORO-T-117

This report covers fighting on the Western Front, 1944 through 1945. Elsewhere, it mentioned that "the majority of Mark III and Mark IV chassis tanks do not have turrets", making it likely that these numbers are more representative of the StuG III and IV. These are some bleak numbers. Out of tanks operated by the Red Army, only the Matilda broke down more. A burned up tank is a total loss, so that's at least 20% of all tanks rendered entirely irreparable. This is about the same rate as a T-34, but the PzIV value doesn't include tanks captured by the enemy (in which case it would be 100% complete loss), or tanks that were rendered irreparable by gunfire and did not brew up. 

3 comments:

  1. Re: the British losses

    Could it be that the Matildas are UK-built whilst the Valentines likely came from the Canadian Pacific Railway's Angus Shops in Montreal?

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  2. These figures actually say nothing about reliability if you don't have the total number of tanks of each type employed in these actions. The percentage figures are simply the division between losses on the march and in battle. They say nothing about how intensely each type was used in battle.

    So for example, if a tank was used in low intensity operations at the front, and suffered few battlefield losses, it will appear by these figures to have had a high breakdown rate on marches.

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    Replies
    1. These figures are taken from a time of active combat. Of course measuring the breakdown rate of a unit that's in a march is pointless, since you would have 100% breakdowns.

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