Friday, 27 February 2015

German Tank Reliability

I already looked at Soviet and Lend-Lease tanks, so let's take a look at what was happening on the other side of the front lines. ORO's "Survey of Allied Tank Casualties in World War II" attempts to shine some light on the issue.


Well that's not very helpful. Let's see what Guiderian has to say about this.


Yikes, that's twice as much as even the worst Soviet figures. Some more information, still fairly vague, can be extracted from the document.


50% losses from breakdowns is a pretty bad figure, but it's hard to expect anything else considering the Panther's short lived components. Robert Forczyk has some unkind words dedicated to the Panther's reliability in his book Panther vs. T-34 Ukraine 1943: "...5th Guards Tank Army was able to move its T-34s 300 km on their own tanks to the front between July 7-9 and still had about 90 percent of its tanks operational. No Panther unit could ever have moved this distance without losing most of its tanks to mechanical breakdown.
...
Although the Panther's AK 7-200 transmission was nominally superior to the clumsy transmission on the T-34, about 5 percent broke down within 100 km and 90 percent within 1,500 km in combat."

3 comments:

  1. Hmmm...not that I disagree, but I wonder is there any way of standardizing this data between the various WWII armies?

    The reason why I say "standardize" is that in Belton Cooper's book I was amazed to read this:

    "A task force of 50 tanks moving thirty to forty miles (50-60km) a day will have between 15 and 20 tanks drop out during the day just for maintenance and repair. These repairs could include everything from the minor changing of spark plugsa nd V belts to the actual replacements of transmission and track suspension elements."

    15-20 out of 50 tanks per day just due to mechanical failure or service is a "loss" rate (by Soviet accounting standards, right?) of 30-40 %!! And that's with American Shermans, widely reputed to be among the most reliable tanks of WWII.

    So if the Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army above still had 90 % of its vehicles operational after 3 days on the move, that still means it could have experienced mechanical "losses" far higher than 10 % if the vast majority of said "losses" could be quickly repaired and returned to service.

    So there seems to be two factors in assessing tank reliability--the rate when service is required, plus the ease of maintenance (and the availability of maintenance services)--IOW, how often does a tank need repairs or service, and how quickly then can those repairs be accomplished. Note one tank might "break down" more frequently than a second type of tank but if fixing the first is simple, easy, and fast, then that's less of a problem than a tank that breaks down less frequently but when it's broken, it's out for a while.

    Another thing--Cooper wrote the above, but then helped compose a final report for 3rd Armored division that stated that in it, some 400 medium tanks in 3rd Armored "needed repairs" from its operation from Normandy to VE day, so his definition of "needing repairs" in the final report doesn't sync with the definition of "15-20 a day out of 50" remark either; there's no internal consistency on his end either.

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  2. Belton Cooper had an active imagination and tended to exaggerate often. When I read books I tend to write in the margins and do a lot of underlining and even take notes. I didn't even finish the 1st chapter of death traps before I completely filled the leader pages full of notes about errors and inconsistences.

    It's not 1960 and you can't pull a David Irving these days and expect to get away with it. Cooper made some BS claims that boil down to "truthiness" and he has gotten called on them.

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  3. Belton Cooper had an active imagination and tended to exaggerate often. When I read books I tend to write in the margins and do a lot of underlining and even take notes. I didn't even finish the 1st chapter of death traps before I completely filled the leader pages full of notes about errors and inconsistences.

    It's not 1960 and you can't pull a David Irving these days and expect to get away with it. Cooper made some BS claims that boil down to "truthiness" and he has gotten called on them.

    ReplyDelete