Monday, 21 March 2016

Tank Crew Losses

The following table contains total losses in the 5th Tank Corps during the Rezhitsa-Dvinsk Offensive Operation (July 18-28th, 1944)

Position
24 TBr
41 TBr
70 TBr
48 GHTBr
92 OMB
704 OBS
Total
Total (by position)
Tank brigade (regiment) commander
-
-
-
1
-
-
1
4
Tank btln commander
-
2
1
-
-
-
3
Tank cpny commander
3
2
-
2
-
-
7
58
Tank pltn commander
5
8
4
1
1
-
10
Tank commander
6
17
7
1
1
-
32
IS-2 gunner
-
-
-
2
-
-
2
37
M3 Lee gunner
-
11
-
-
-
-
11
T-34-85 gunner
5
14
4
-
-
1
24
IS-2 loader
-
-
-
-
-
-
0
56
M3 Lee loader
-
10
-
-
-
-
10
T-34-85 loader
9
17
6
-
2
-
34
T-34 loader
8
-
4
-
-
-
12
IS-2 radio master
-
-
-
2
-
-
2
16
M3 Lee radio operator
-
3
-
-
-
-
3
T-34-85 radio operator
3
5
2
-
-
-
10
T-34 radio operator
1
-
-
-
-
-
1
IS-2 driver
-
-
-
2
-
-
2
37
M3 Lee driver
-
2
-
-
-
-
2
T-34-85 driver
6
11
4
-
-
-
21
T-34 driver
5
-
7
-
-
-
12
Total
51
102
39
11
4
1
208
208

Tank
24 TBr
41 TBr
70 TBr
48 GHTBr
92 OMB
704 OBS
Total lost
% lost
T-34
14
1
13
-
-
-
28
45.5
T-34-85
26
44
16
-
2
1
89
67.4
M3 Lee
-
13
-
-
-
-
13
65
IS-2
-
-
-
11
-
-
11
52.4
Total
40
58
29
11
2
1
141
66.2

The table is a bit weird, since tank commanders are all lumped into one category, regardless of tank, and IS-2 radio "masters" are included (presumably off-tank repairmen, as the IS-2 had no dedicated radio operator). Anyway, it lets us make some conclusions regarding the safety of each crew member. The radio operator's job on the T-34 and T-34-85 was three times safer than the driver's, despite a lack of personal escape hatch. You'd think that both the driver and the radio operator are safer than the turret crewmen, judging by 46 dead loaders on T-34 variants compared to 11 radio operators or 33 drivers, but the loaders died more than gunners did (looking at the T-34-85 alone). The T-34 gunner/commander is lumped in with the other commanders, so it's hard to judge how safe his position was.

However, percentage wise, the numbers aren't so bad. Over 117 lost T-34 variants, the radio operator has a 10% chance of dying, the driver 28%, the loader 39%. T-34-85 gunners have a 27% chance.

By comparison, the IS-2's driver has an 18% chance of dying, no loaders died at all, and the gunner also has an 18% chance of dying if his tank is destroyed. 11 tanks isn't a very large sample, however, so it's hard to make judgements.

With a similarly low sample size, the M3 Lee's radio operator has a 23% chance of dying, the driver has a 15% chance, and the gunners and loaders are in poor shape: 77% and 85%, respectively. 

Let's compare this to figures from report ORO-T-117 "Survey of Allied Tank Casualties in World War II", gathered by the American First Army in Europe.


Here, figures gathered from American medium tanks (presumably Shermans of various makes) let us compare the safety of the T-34 series to that of the Sherman. The radio operator is in a lot more danger (27.3% vs 10%), but the loader is in a lot less (39% vs 21.4%). The rest of the figures are comparable. Overall, 24.6% of the Shermans' crews died when their tank was destroyed, compared to about 28% of T-34 crewmen of both types (the nature of the Soviet chart makes it difficult to calculate the exact percentage). 


Looking at light tanks, however, the crew casualties soar. Literally every crew member is as likely or even more likely to die than the uncharacteristically fatality-prone T-34 loader.

6 comments:

  1. Doesn't look so, bad with less than 1.5 casualties per destroyed Soviet tank. [With 5 or even 6 crewmen each.]

    A question just came up in my mind, I don't know if you can answer it: Does the Soviet "tank losses by type" chart take into account every vehicle taken out, or only the unrepairably destroyed vehilces? [Meaning: is it a Soviet Style statistic were a repaired tank could be "destroyed" multiple times, or was it more "German Style" unrecoverable losses?]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are unrecoverable losses, both for crewmen and tanks.

      Delete
  2. Hold on though, given that the Soviets recorded lumped every tank lost for any reason under destroyed for the purposes of statistics (as compared to the very generous German accounting) might that not throw the statistics off a little?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These are explicitly "burned up" tanks: completely destroyed.

      Delete
  3. also interesting excerpt on losses of 72 GHTBr from April 20 to May 10, 1944 to 10 destroyed tanks JS-2 4 crew members perished. 1 - Driver 1 - gunner, 1 - loader and commander.

    ReplyDelete