Friday, 6 January 2017

Pak 43 Problems

"Experience with 88 mm Pak 43 anti-tank guns

Front line experience showed that towed 88 mm anti-tank guns are of limited usefulness in mobile warfare (counterattacks, mobile defense, and especially when covering retreats).

Causes:
  • The 4.5 ton mass, 1.9 meter height, and completely unprotected prime movers limit its mobility on the battlefield.
  • As a rule, there is not enough time to organize a proper firing position.
  • The gun, due to its size, cannot be concealed from the enemy (especially from the air).
  • Due to the difficulty of turning the gun, it is difficult to defend against infantry at close range.
Conclusions: The towed 88 mm gun is only useful in positional warfare. In mobile warfare, it can only be used in the main directions of defense, for example in important sectors, control over which is especially important.

The manual 18/9 "Instructions on using the 88 mm Pak" issued on June 27th, 1943 is being revised."

CAMD RF 500-12480-24

13 comments:

  1. So where is the 'problem'? It says the heavy ATG useful role is static defense.

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    1. Because they took shitton of time and way too much work to actually emplace somewhere useful and were an imperial pain in the ass to transport. Also commensurately difficult to evacuate when the brown stuff hit the air conditioning and the size made them tricky to camouflage ergo artillery bait.

      This was an universal problem with larger AT guns and pretty much the direct reason why they went the way of the Dodo after the war. Eg. from what I remember reading the Brits used their tank destroyers (a concept they weren't really big on but hey, lend-lease) above all as mobile stopgaps that defended newly taken positions while the heavy towed guns were being brought up and dug in.

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    2. The thing about anti-tank guns, is that you absolutely need to move them around. The typical use case is to prepare several positions and not fire more than a few shots before relocating. If your anti-tank gun is spotted (and a huge gun like this with a muzzle brake will be spotted quickly), the position will be fired upon by attacking tanks and indirect fire artillery.

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    3. Yup. There's good reasons why the organic AT guns of infantry formations only went up to the about 50-57 mm range which were still small and light enough to be manhandled by their crews. Bigger and more powerful than that and you *needed* a prime mover with all the complications and vulnerabilities that entails.

      A rough rule of thumb I've seen quoted is that the size and weight of a gun increases exponentially with its power - rather analogously to the square-cube law - due to stronger recoil forces and resultant need for thicker chambers/barrels etc etc. Recoilless weapons can largely get by without that and the ratio is duly far more linear with them, which would be why rocket-based stuff (and to a lesser degree recoilless rifles) took over the (semi-)portable infantry AT niche.

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  2. Many thanks for the translation. It confirms previous information about it, very powerful gun but very hard to move. It would be great if you find and translate any document on the 12.8 cm Pak 44 L/55, as there are not many reports.

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    1. I haven't seen anything at all on the Pak 44, but I'll keep an eye out.

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  3. Of course they were not not as useful against the medium tanks most likely to be seen. However, when you NEED a heavier weapon it sometimes is nice to have a few around, and with heavy panzerjager so rare, it would be a cheaper alternative to nothing or a 75mm/48 armed vehicle that can't kill a heavier tank I'd think. They filled the light mobile ATG role with hollow charge weapons and medium range with 75mm weapons.

    It is completely understandable that the men and officers deploying them would bitch about the difficulty. That doesn't make them useless. At least not in good weather.

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    1. The Germans didn't hit on the Waffenträger concept just for giggles, you know. Heavy guns were *needed* (or at least highly desirable), but they also had to be in the right place in a timely manner to be worth anything - and towed artillery in the frontlines was alarmingly prone to being lost wholesale if things went pear-shaped. (Experiences in this were one reason the US TD formations switched back to SP guns in North Africa IIRC.)

      Particularly given the general Soviet methodology (concealement of planned axes of attack, assaulting multiple spots simultaneously and ruthless exploitation in depth) the German officers had very good reasons to be unhappy with the inherent limitations of large towed AT guns.

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  4. According to accounts of Wa Prüf on tractor drawn equipment of heavy tank batallion B, mobility of the PAK 43 turned out to be ok in actual combat.
    While the gun was indeed difficult to camouflage, it was also outstandingly accurate at range and very powerful, best fighting range was 2500m-3500m.
    "The maneuverability prooved better than expected. Accuracy was so good that, in some cases, A.F.V. were knocked out at ranges up to 5km."

    It´s there to knock out tanks at long range. Any type, incl. heavy tanks. For infantery work, You´d just use HEAT, which was the future anyways...

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    1. For some reason I have this suspicion that assessment related more to the open plains found in the southern "Steppe Russia" theaters...

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  5. No. Wa Prüf is related to Russian experiences 1944 and 1945 (few PAK 43 available 1943). The quote is from the interrogation of PAK 43 crews fighting in France 44.

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    1. I'll just lazily point out there is no contradiction here. Maneuverability can suck in objective terms or relative to lighter guns, but as long as it is a bit better than whatever the interviewed crew imagined would be the case, the maneuverability will indeed be "better than expected".

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    2. Yeaaaahhh and conditions in the French theater were a wee bit different from the East, just sayin'. Wouldn't be exactly surprising if assessments from the two were outright polar opposites even.

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