Monday, 14 March 2016

German vs Soviet Ergonomics

This is an issue that comes up many times. According to a popular theory, Soviet tanks achieved their compact size by being unusably cramped for their crew, whereas the larger German tanks were, in comparison, palaces where the crewmen could easily perform their tasks. This theory is, like many, not backed by any particular evidence. However, I came across a very convenient image, generously shared by Yuri Pasholok.

VK 45.03(H) draft, dated December 12th, 1942

Long time readers of my blog may recall another, similar image from an ergonomics textbook.

Fig. 12. A driver in cramped conditions.

Since both images have measurements on them, it's quite easy to bring them to the same scale and align the two images by the drivers' hips to compare their levels of comfort.

Turns out that the Soviet driver ends up with more headroom and more leg room! The German designers allocated less room to their driver than what their Soviet counterparts would have considered cramped. Interestingly enough, the seats are almost exactly the same size. 

Of course, one may argue that the VK45.03 was not a production tank and merely a design proposal, but one needs to look no further than the British report titled Motion Studies of German Tanks that thoroughly covers the ergonomics disasters that the Tiger, Tiger II, and Panther were.

9 comments:

  1. Its annoying when people has to fabricate bullshit about the USSR just to demonise it further.
    Its amazing how far the right wing league will stumble around in horse shit just to demonise a long dead super giant.

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    1. More a case of Wehraboos not having done their homework and hence knowing jackshit about the difference mounting the transmission with the engine makes, I think.

      Such people tend not be any better at objectively evaluating Western Allied tanks either.

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  2. Hello! My question may have been covered before - it is, what was the average height of a Russian tanker in WW2?

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    1. 160-170 cm, IIRC. My other ergonomics article has it at exactly 170 cm http://tankarchives.blogspot.ca/2013/11/ergonomics.html

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  3. I don't see the point in this - an early draft of a never-to-be-realized project tank vs a theoretical Soviet study on what sufficient ergonimics *should* be...?
    Why not just overlay an actual Tiger/Panther/Panzervier arrangement over a similar IS/T-34 scale drawing to make a point?

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    1. I sense poorly disguised denial.

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    2. It's like you didn't actually read all the way though before jumping down to the comments to express your outrage. Not only do I address this exact point and link to ergonomics studies of the Tiger and Panther, but I have previously compared the room available in tanks of various nations: http://tankarchives.blogspot.ca/2013/11/ergonomics.html

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  4. Actually I did read through, but I did not want to highlight that again claims do not match your sources. They are just there so that your claim would look like something else than just pulled out of your ass.

    Specifically, while you claim the Tiger and Panther were "ergonomic disasters" and point to a British study as evidence, the British study in fact regards the crew positions in both Tigers and the Panther well, describing them as reasonable and fairly comfortable, with the exception of the gunner's position only - which according to your own article for example was still somewhat larger (520mm and 560mm wide) than in the T-34 (500mm) and at least equal to the larger IS-2 (520 mm), as was the overall size of the (Tiger - 9,6m3, Panther 7,3 m3, T-34 5,2 m3 - fit for superior Soviet midgets perhaps) fighting compartment.

    In short, we can conclude the article and your comment is just another example of post-soviet wishful thinking. :)

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    1. You didn't read the documents or my article very closely then. I didn't pretend like the Soviets were somehow superior in every way. I was simply pointing out that the myth of Soviet vehicles being cramped and German vehicles being roomy was false, just like the numbers you yourself quoted show. As for the British evaluations, you really need to read more carefully.

      For example, the Panther's gunner's position deficiencies don't come from its size, but from the poor position of the sight eyepiece (the gunner's only optics device) and unacceptable position of the aiming mechanisms, both foot and hand operated.

      For the Tigers, they got absolutely blasted in the study. "The gunner's position is very bad", the loader can't see his racks when it's /overcast/ outside, let alone dark, and the ammo rack injures his hands, the driver's position is cramped (hey, kinda like I pointed out in this article, no?), the commander's position is described as /very/ cramped, with the traverse flywheel characterized as impossible to use. Finally, the hull gunner's position caused "acute discomfort".

      Finally, the Tiger II, the descendant of the VK 45.03. The gunner's position didn't improve any ("cramped and uncomfortable...some of the controls are badly positioned"). The loader, even one of average height, would hit his head on the hatch fittings (hey, kind of like how I pointed out in this very article that the Soviets gave their guys more head room). During bailout trials, the loader became stuck and could not free himself without assistance (hm, typically Soviet disregard for human life? at least our hatches work). Oh, and the turret bustle isn't lit up, meaning that the loader can't see his ammo again.

      Congratulations on completely ignoring all of this and instead focusing on "post-soviet wishful thinking" to base your argument on, whatever that is.

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