Armour and it's conflict.

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by plan_D, Sep 12, 2005.

  1. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    11,985
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Since a certain moderator, who shall remain nameless *cough* NS *cough* deleted the threads concerning armour. I've created this to encompass it all!

    And I would like to start with this about flag signals from tanks;

    After the battle of Chemin-des-Dames in Autumn of 1917;

    From Commandant Perré, 'Les Chars á la bataille de la Malmaison' in Revue d'Infanterie)

    If flag signals were a failure in World War I, it certainly proves they were not good enough for World War II. Don't you think, schwarzpanzer?
     
  2. Nonskimmer

    Nonskimmer Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    8,848
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    Naval Electronics Technician
    Location:
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    :-"

    Oh sorry, don't mind me. I'll try not to set my drink down on the Delete button. ;)
     
  3. schwarzpanzer

    schwarzpanzer Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    663
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Well, the French couldn't manage to stop a few light tanks with masses of heavy tanks, so it proves nothing really. :lol:

    Oh yeah BTW the commander had to load, aim and fire the gun as well as operate the radio (whilst commanding).
     
  4. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    11,985
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Not in World War I they didn't. The French were alongside the British in tank development and deployment. It proves everything that flag signals are not reliable. They weren't reliable in World War I and they were not reliable in World War II.

    The Tank Commander doesn't aim the cannon. Nor does he fire the cannon. That's the gunners job. In the T-34, with the cramped two-man turret, the Tank Commander had to load as well as command. In most of the machines during World War II, there was a seperate loader, gunner and commander as they're all full time jobs. Some tanks even had their own radio operators.

    Loader, Gunner, Tank Commander, Radio Operator and Driver. A 5-man crew, which the most famous tanks had.

    Flag signals were not reliable sources of communication. The lack of radio hampered the Soviet armour. Radio is important for any and all tank combat.
     
  5. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    41,767
    Likes Received:
    684
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A&P - Aircraft Technician
    Location:
    USA/Germany
    I dont know squat about flag signals from tanks so this will all be new to me.
     
  6. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    11,985
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Well, let me explain a little. When the tank was fully developed in 1915 the idea proposed by the British involved that they be equipped with wireless radio sets. The French (developing the tank around the same time) didn't think along the exact same lines and thought that flag communication would be possible.

    Flag communication being the Commander popping out the top of the tank to "talk" to another tank about 200 metres away with flag signals.

    The tank first saw battle on the 15th September, 1916 and the British had little trouble with the communications. They had a lot of trouble with the tanks, but even with that they proved their worth. Although some people didn't believe so.

    Anyway, the French learnt after the battle of the Chemin-des-Dames in 1917 that flag signals were just useless because the mist of battle (both artificial and natural) prevented any effective communication. Plus the heat of battle made flag signals unreliable while leaving the Commander open to sniper fire.

    Well, the Soviet Union still largely used flag signals in World War II. And the same problems existed then as they did in World War I. Due to this poor, slow and unreliable source of communication the Soviet crews were often unco-ordinated. Especially in the early years. That is why a good wireless set is vital for any tanks.
     
  7. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    41,767
    Likes Received:
    684
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A&P - Aircraft Technician
    Location:
    USA/Germany
    Actually I have seen a painting of Russian tanks with the commander poking out the top with flags in his hands.
     
  8. schwarzpanzer

    schwarzpanzer Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    663
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    I've seen a Tiger commander flapping his arms around like a cheerleader.

    Yes I know, what I meant was in all French WW2 tanks there wasn't even a gunner!

    The Char-B's driver was also a gunner!

    Yes, but not vital, esp. if used the same way where the West would use radio silence.

    i.e. go there, blast any German tank etc.

    Also remember Soviets did not generally work individually.

    Except a Tankovy-Desant T34!
     
  9. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    11,985
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Tank Commanders will sometimes have to communicate with infantry men. This would involve exposing yourself to enemy fire to communicate with them as they didn't all carry radio.

    In fact, communication via radio is vital. Without any form of quick communication between tanks there is no tactical flexability. It's alright if the enemy doesn't react but what if the enemy does react. There's no communication between tanks and many would be caught off guard if only one tank saw the counter. It is a vital piece of equipment.

    The Soviet tanks did work individually at the start of the war. You must remember that for tanks to work individually means they are not capable. The tank must be used on a unit basis, not singular basis. They need control, command and communication to act flexibly. A command stuck on flag signals cannot react quick enough to any situation.

    You're under-estimating the need for communication between machines. It's quite shocking to say you have the benefit of hindsight from both wars. Read Achtung-Panzer! it'll give you an excellent study of armour usage in World War I and what Guderian gained from it. If you have read it before, read it again especially the section about wireless sets in tanks.
     
  10. schwarzpanzer

    schwarzpanzer Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    663
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    What about that T34 that drove 9 miles into German lines, or that KV, or even your Tiger in 'Command post 506' etc, the radio actually FUBAR'ed that one! :shock:

    Yes radios are an advantage, more a luxury really though :twisted: , I'd rather have a big gun/armour/engine etc.

    I'll have to find that page in AP!
     
  11. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    11,985
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    And what are those tanks going to do on their own? Nothing. The tank cannot hold a position on it's own. The radio is not a luxury, it's a need for any successful tank assault to take place, on the defensive or offensive they need to be in contact for if there wasn't there's no flexability and no quick thinking. That means...no successful tank attack.

    They discovered that in 1917 - why can't you in 2005?
     
  12. schwarzpanzer

    schwarzpanzer Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    663
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    I've just given you 2 examples. Plus there was at least 1 KV-1 that did the same.

    The Russian AFV's never really used radios, but they were still superior to all others (as a whole, rather than individually).
     
  13. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    11,985
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    No one single tank can achieve operational success. No tank forces act individually, hence the creation of Armoured Division and Tank Armies. The Soviet Union acted individually during the early part of the war and they lost terrifically.

    Even if they T-34 did drive 9 mile into the German lines. The line closes behind it and it's lost. A tank cannot act on it's own for any kind of success. You do not understand the principal of tank warfare if you believe otherwise.

    Tanks need radio to act in any flexible role. Without the radio there is little of operational success if the enemy reacts in any way. There's also little chance of exploitation if the oppurtunity arises.

    I'm sorry but you don't understand how tanks should be working if you think they don't need radio. The reason the Wehrmacht was so successful in the early years was because their radio and tactical flexibility allowed to adopt and react to every situation. Not possible without communication.
     
  14. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    19,162
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Communications
    Location:
    Long Island Native in Mississippi
    Home Page:
    Agreed 100%..... This is actually a silly conversation... If communication WASNT important, why did they bother using flags in the first place......
     
  15. schwarzpanzer

    schwarzpanzer Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    663
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Well, an '88' Flak sneaked up on him, but he'd bought a one-way ticket.

    Loose cannons can be very, very effective.

    Also with the Germans having radio, news of the Matilda2 ("hundreds of tanks!") and T34 spread fast.

    Good you'd think? wrong, the Germans were scared and lost morale.

    Yes, radios are good, but not vital, not in WW2.

    What if it's knocked out? What then?

    Kinda like indicators on a car etc.

    However, Katyushka/commander communications were important to the Soviets.
     
  16. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    11,985
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    I believe this is proof of my point. Aside from there being no source of evidence that you have provided to state this actually happened. You have collapsed your own argument. This T-34 had managed to find itself nine miles from it's own army and it's own supply. It was cut off and destroyed, this happens to all those that put themselves into that position. As I said, they can advance but the line will just close behind them and they're trapped.

    No they cannot. A "loose cannon" cannot achieve operational success. The tank is an assault weapon, it's capability to hold ground is practically nil without the aid of supporting infantry and artillery.

    You will find that you are wrong in that statement. Knowing about the enemy action, or reaction, defeats surprise. Surprise is the greatest weapon of war, with fast communication the surprise is lost and a quick reaction to the enemy is possible.

    The German soldiers may have been scared but the Divisional, Corps or Army HQ would have the information to provide counter-measures. It is better to know about your enemy and be scared than not know at all until their advance has reached your HQ.

    One of the main troubles with the French defence in 1940 was slow communication. The German forces would be advancing at break-neck speed and the French could not react. There are many stories of French Commanders ordering counter-attacks on an area only to find the German forces had advanced through that area and in fact were miles behind the Commanders HQ. The French needed a faster system of communication to allow for reaction.

    Communication is also vital to allow, if the enemy is over-whelming, a hasty retreat of all equipment. Fixed artillery positions would soon be overrun if the front line troops did not communicate the information back through the lines.

    Even more so, the tanks on the front line could react to the advancing troops with communication. Radio communication between platoons of tanks could allow them to change position and move around in any kind of attack or counter-attack with lightning speed.

    Radios are vital for operational success and tactical flexability. Tactical, local, success can be achieved with little communication but to enable a breakthrough, leading to operational success, good communication must reign throughout the tanks. This cannot be achieved with flag signals. The fog of war and heat of battle will cloud and distort communication with flags.

    The odds are if the radio is knocked out on that tank, then the tank is knocked out. The only possible destruction of the radio is in the Command Tank which was also bristling with radio equipment. These would not normally tank an advance role but would be with the leading troops to react to any situation. The enemy did aim for the Command Tank when it was spotted, just like they would aim for the officer in the field. However, what happens when the Command Tank is knocked out? What happens when the lead plane is knocked out? What happens when the CO is knocked out? It's a silly question.

    In the worst case the attack must be halted for the tanks retain any kind of unit cohesion. As that is most important in tank assaults on an operational scale. The Allies learnt so in the Great War in Cambrai.

    I'm interested in what you consider so different from World War 2 and now. Sure, the technical ability of machines today are much more advanced but the tactics are exactly the same. World War 2 was a modern way and it has laid the structure for combat today. Panzer Battles was read by the majority of U.S Armour Commanders in the Gulf War.

    Indicators on a car are vital for safe driving on the roads. Sure, the car can drive without them but it cannot act safely and successfully on the roads without them. That is why it's illegal not to use them on the roads. They're a vital safety aspect to inform everyone else what you're doing, a lot like a radio in a tank.

    "Communication between the members of a tank crew is effected by lights, speaking tubes, internal telephones and other devices. For external communication nearly all command tanks have radio transmitters and receivers, while all other modern tanks have radio receivers; the company commanders of the World War, hastening ahead of their tanks on foot or horseback, are figures of the past. The continuing development of radio apparatus is of great relevance to the direction of larger tank formations and their deployment for tasks in depth."

    From Achtung! Panzer! by Heinz Guderian (1937). Note: Bold is my own.

    Guderian realises, in 1937, that the deployment of large tank forces for operational success relies solely on the radio.

    Again, from the same book:

    "Tank forces are directed by radio, and the smaller units from company downwards also by visual signals. As long as radio silence has to be observed, orders and reports can be transmitted by means of aircraft, vehicles or telephone. Commanders ride in the command tanks, which are followed by the necessary radio tanks for secure communication with superiors and subordinates."

    The tactics of tank forces clearly include the use of radio for tactical flexibility. From company level downwards, they did use visual signals as you can see. But company down is platoon strength, little more than four tanks most of the time.

    Again from the some book:

    "In the World War the shortcomings of the signals and communications systems greatly impeded the command of tank forces, and their co-operation with the other arms. Tank company commanders were sometimes reduced to accompanying their forces on horseback, to exercise a modicum of control, and they had to make considerable use of runners. Here is the origin of the accusation that tanks are 'deaf'. This shortcoming has now been overcome by that magnificent invention, the wireless telegraph and its relation, the voice radio. Every modern tank has a radio receiver, and every command tank is equipped with both the receiver and transmitter. Tank units are now under guaranteed command and control. Inside larger tanks are various devices to enable the crew members to communicate with one another."

    As is quite clearly stated by Guderian, the lack of communication in World War I impeded the progress of armoured forces. He, as many others, found it of vital importance that tank forces could communicate in efficient and clear manners. Command and control is vital in any operation, from infantry to aircraft with artillery and tank inbetween.

    Not only that, the mention of control between the different arms. The tank needs to be in contact with it's supporting arms. It cannot act on it's own. It needs the support of engineers, aircraft, infantry and artillery to be of any success.

    If you believe the tank can act on it's own, you're wrong. If you believe the tank does not need good communication for a success on an operational basis, you're wrong.

    I carry on with various quotes;

    "Radio is likewise the principal medium of control between tank units and the other forces, and radios are the main equipment of the signals elements which provide the communications for the tank units and their supporting arms."

    As said before, the communication between the tank and it's supporting arms is vital.

    "However visual signals are used up to company level as a replacement for radios in case of breakdowns."

    It explains itself.

    "In combat these commanders will be right up front with their tanks, which means that armoured radio vehicles with full cross-country capability are essential for the panzer signals elements."

    It's said, time and time again, the tank forces need to be in communication with one another as well as with other arms for any kind of operational success.

    "In combat the transmission of orders are conveyed to the rapidly moving armoured forces in different and much shorter forms than with infantry divisions."

    Most powerful aspect of a tank force? It's mobilty and quick reaction, which requires fast, powerful and clear communication.
     
  17. schwarzpanzer

    schwarzpanzer Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    663
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Shall I try to find the info?

    Who said anything about holding ground? Thats usually not a breakthrough tanks job (T34, Tiger and Comet)

    Radios are unnecessary of the (succesful) Soviet techniques of rushing a point in a massed assault or creating carnage individually, though Stugs would not have this option, though some apparently did. :shock:

    Well, what I said was right, but your point is more common and makes more sense and I was aware of it.

    To a point, Tigers and KTs were pretty crap here, but still effective.

    If the enemy has air superiority it is essential though, but was lacking under these circumstances for Russia and Germany.

    Well ISA bullets could do this, as could small-calibre HE rounds and non-penetrating AP rounds, if the 1 command tank goes down before an assault though, that assault then likely doesn't happen.

    You've given a lot of seemingly good info, I'll have to read it thouroughly and dig up Achtung:panzer!

    I know radios are an advantage, I know that, just not always vital.

    A point is that with radio a Storch could range targets to German tanks, a huge advantage that.
     
  18. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    11,985
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    The tank during breakthrough needs the support of the infantry and artillery also. What good is a tank breaking through if the land is not held after it's moved on?

    The Soviet attacks were not successful at the start of the war. They only began to gain radios around 1943. And the Soviets were successful on a tactical basis, not always on an operational basis.

    How can you possibly hope for the point of attack to change with speed without radio?

    No, again, you're thinking of the basic speed of the Tiger and King Tiger. But you're not paying attention at all. It's the operational basis of the tank which means it's mobilty and speed is it's greatest strength. As long as the tank can go at least 20 km/h it's fast enough for the breakthrough. And it will not get tired like marching infantry. The Armoured Division is the greatest formation, it's fast and it can bring everything to bear.

    No, the Command tank doesn't need to be constant contact. An Armoured Division has radio tanks and other vehicles capable of taking over the role of the Command Tank if it gets knocked out.

    I advise you do get Achtung: Panzer! You'll learn the tactical usage of tanks, because your knowledge of it seems limited.
     
  19. schwarzpanzer

    schwarzpanzer Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Messages:
    663
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Hit-and-run destruction or Kamikaze-style. Or more tanks than you could hit with a spade! (like Kursk)

    The T34 was considered a 'Cavalry tank' remember.

    You don't! - Human wave tactics, like WW1.

    Unless it breaks down and needs refuelling every 5 minutes - there were a few very embarrasing situations involving KTs like this.

    I think the Soviets had only 1 vehicle? certainly only 1 tank per company, though he/she usually led from the rear.

    I have Achtung Panzer, haven't read much though and had it yonks! :oops:

    I advise you to read up on Soviet 'techniques'.

    Only the Soviets really could do without radios. I understand no other Army could do this really.
     
  20. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2004
    Messages:
    11,985
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    You do not prepare for an operational assault on the basis of hit and run. That would be a tactical plan inside the division itself with no long term goals or operational objectives. The sole purpose of a tank is to breakthrough and exploit. The aim of a tank force should be far in the enemy rear to destroy, disrupt or encircle their rear forces such as reserves, artillery, supply stations and command HQs. You're thinking tactically, not operationally.

    You use WWI tactics? And suffer the exact some problems, then fail. Merely increasing the numbers of men does not win a war. It was discovered that you had to have at least 3:1 ratio of manpower to secure any kind of advance against enemy positions that are well fortified. Even then the chances of success were low. The tank was needed to be used as a mobile breakthrough unit, capable of quick changes of direction and movement.

    The King Tiger wouldn't need to advance very far. There's breakthrough and there's explotation. The King Tiger would only to break through the enemy's defence and the rear echelons would take over with faster and longer range tanks to wreak havoc in open areas, never letting up to deprive the enemy of any chance to form a new defence line.

    I do know of the Soviet tactical thinking pre-war, early-war and late-war. Pre-war they thought much like the Germans and also believed that radio was a vital aspect of operational success.

    Early in the war the Soviet Union lacked any kind of tactical thought. They had no radio, no unit cohesian, tanks were sub-ordinate to the infantry and acted individually, they had no support from aircraft. They lost so amazingly it's quite hard to comprehend. Soviet forces were encircled some many times due to lack of communication. The German forces could change direction at a moments notice because of their radio.

    The late-war tactical thought arrived back, somewhat, towards the pre-war doctrine. They lacked radio and communication. These massive assaults were extremely costly. And even in the days of German retreat the Soviets risked encirclement and destruction, which did happen from time to time. By 1944 the Soviet Union had radio but not in every tank, they had command vehicles supporting attacks and radio units with any assault. The Soviet Union understood the need for communication, without it even their vast armies would be encircled and destroyed.
     
Loading...

Share This Page