Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Pak 43 Problems, Round 2

Issues with the size and weight of the Pak 43 came up before. The slightly smaller and lighter Pak 43/41 had the same issues.

"Use of 88 mm Pak 43/41 (towed) during mobile combat operations

Data in instruction 18/9 issued on June 27th, 1943, "directions on applying and using the 88 mm Pak 43/41 (towed) can only be used on stabilized sections of the front, and proved themselves in this respect.

On the other hand, experience in recent battles shows that the weapons are only of limited usefulness in mobile warfare, and one should not follow the aforementioned instructions.

The causes for this are as follows:
  • The mass of the Pak, 4.3 tons, and height, 1.9 meters, as well as the bulky and unarmoured motorized transport significantly limit its mobility on the battlefield.
  • There is not enough time to set up a firing position.
  • Large guns can seldom be hidden from enemy observation, especially from the air.
  • These guns are especially helpless against infantry attacks, under powerful horizontal fire.
For these reasons, this valuable weapon has high losses, both in materiel and personnel, which are not compensated by achieved results. These losses can, and should, be easily avoided. This is only possible if the following conclusions are made, given the limited mobility of the weapons on the battlefield:

It is necessary to cease the use of the 88 mm Pak (towed) in front line mobile warfare, especially to cover the retreat of infantry, since the use of these guns in this way leads to senseless losses.

88 mm guns are only useful in mobile warfare from specifically prepared locations in so called fortified regions, possession of which is decisive (railroad junctions, important highway crossroads, fortifications in front of bridges, river crossings, etc.)"

These instructions were issued on April 10th, 1944, so it looks like it took the Germans a while to figure out the glaring issues with their latest wonder weapon.


  1. The same misrepresented story is being sold again, in a barely modified form as in the previous article. BOTH instructions clearly refer to the Pak 43/41, which was NOT the "lighter, smaller" variant of the PaK 43, but an improvised substitute solution for the PaK 43 using the two-wheel split-trail carriage from the 10 cm le K 41 arty piece...

    1. I'll let the Germans know that they are wrong.

    2. Its only you or the chap originally looking at the captured German records and misinterpreting the gun type was wrong.

  2. yes, the improvised Pak43/41 was nick named "barn door" for this reason. The PAK43 on the lighter, cruciform mount had a height of 1.71m (incl. gunsgield) instead, which is in between the soviet BS-3 (1.8m) and the 17pdr (1.6m).

  3. I pointed out back in comments of
    That the 43/41 carriage was from the 10.5 cm light cannon.
    And "The slightly smaller and lighter Pak 43/41 had the same issues." is not the German opinion, but yours.

    1. Pak 43: 4750 kg
      Pak 43/41: 4350 kg

    2. Pak 43: 1.71 m
      Pak 43/41: 1.9 m
      You do know that the logical connector "and" means both parts must be true for the statement to be true?

    3. I'll change it to XOR if that makes you happy

    4. The mistake is deeper. You suggested that the PAK43/41 is smaller and therefore easier to couflage than the PAK41 while the opposite is true.

    5. Imprecise language, at worst. Hardly matters for the fundamental and universal issue highlighted - 1.6 or 1.9 meters, they were ALL too large and bulky for easy concealement (plus height is quite irrelevant against aerial observation anyway) and much too heavy and cumbersome to be either rapidly deployed where needed or evacuated in a crisis.

      And by mid-'43 German frontlines were in one of those a *lot*.

  4. Interesting note about the fact the transport is unarmoured.
    Wich is a bit weird if we take into consideration that the german answer to these problems where the waffentragers wich where notoriously un(der)armoured.

    Or was this disadvantage enough to fix the mobility issues? Wich would be a bit strange as well since there existed already specialised artilery tractors long before the war. Or where these just overcomplex wich ment there where never enough to go around?

    Or am i missing sometging here somewhere? If someone could maybe enlighten me?

    Btw, what weight did each army consider mobile enough to move reasonable good enough? I gues 37mm guns and stuff around that?

    1. "Transport" here would be any old prime mover, ie. some kind of military tractor. Those were bullet/fragment proof at most and GLHF bringing one up and hitching the big gun onto it under enemy fire. (Gun crews are proof against neither bullets or fragments.) Deploying under enemy observation naturally isn't much better but not really topical here...
      Waffeltaffeltragers were already proper SPGs and duly capable of immediately getting the Hell out of Dodge under their own power if (when) things went pear-shaped, which is very much the reason such AFVs were and are vastly more survivable than the towed guns (and the major reason the direct-fire varieties of latter have for all practical intents and purposes gone extinct).

      AFAIK up to 6-pounder (57 mm) could still be reasonably manhandled by the gun crew at least over short distances (say, into cover for safely hooking up to a prime mover...), nevermind now that small guns like that were far cheaper, easier to hide and could be towed by well-nigh anything. The little stuff like 37 mm's could straight up be carried on the back of a Jeep or similar small utility vehicle if need be - such "portee" setups being what US Tank Destroyer formations initially had to make do with in North Africa IIRC.

    2. German artillery tractors were not armored in any way so their were neither bullet nor fragment proof.

      The sole exception I can think of are the rare SdKfz 251 variants that were used to tow the PaK40 and the 105 howitzer. And I think they were not the most common towing vehicles.

  5. US experience was very similar, as you'd expect. Self-propelled 3-inch guns (M10s) were both more effective and more survivable than towed 3-inch guns.