Longer Panzer III. The path not taken.

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by davebender, Jun 5, 2013.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Vehicle Width.
    2.62 meters. M4A1 Sherman.
    2.88 meters. Panzer IVG.
    2.95 meters. Panzer III.
    3 meters. T-36/76 model 1943.
    …..Panzer III is plenty wide for a WWII era medium tank.

    Vehicle Length. Does not include main gun extending beyond chassis.
    5.52 meters. Panzer III.
    5.84 meters. M4A2 Sherman.
    5.92 meters. Panzer IV.
    5.92 meters. T-36/76 model 1943.
    …..Vehicle length limited Panzer III gun size. A main gun larger then 5cm/60 would have made the vehicle too nose heavy.

    Point of Departure.
    Germany decides to build a proper medium tank armed with 7.5cm high velocity cannon.
    Panzer III was well liked by crews and inexpensive to mass produce. Daimler-Benz (vehicle designer) will lengthen chassis by one or two road wheels.

    New vehicle will look like this:
    Panzer III n.A.
    ~5.9 meters long x 2.95 meters wide.
    New upper hull which uses entire vehicle width.
    Longer nose allows front armor to be nicely sloped.
    Vehicle weight will creep up towards 30 tons. Longer chassis will accommodate this.

    Turret and main gun (at least initially) similar to historical Panzer IVG. I suspect this vehicle could ultimately be armed with 7.5cm/70 cannon.

    400hp Mercedes diesel engine historically designed and tested for Panzer III.
    …..German army refused to purchase this engine. We are reversing the decision.

    If FAMO suspension is to be used now is the time to introduce it.
    …..Used on most German armored vehicles produced after 1939. Historically tested on Panzer III. However historical Panzer III torsion bar suspension was pretty good too.

    Hydraulic turret motor and foot pedal control system used on Tiger and Panther tank.
    …..Late WWII Germany was severely short of copper. So bad that Panzer IVJ had electric turret motor deleted. We avoid the problem by switching to hydraulic turret motor.

    Nibelungenwerk Tank Plant. Austria. RM 65 million.
    Largest German tank plant. 320 medium tanks per month
    Historically construction began September 1939.
    Parts production during 1941.
    Tank production during 1942.

    If 1936 Germany cancels the two Graf Zeppelin class aircraft carriers and transfers RM 185 million construction cost to Panzer III program the Nibelungenwerk tank plant could be producing 320 Panzer III n.A. from 1939 onward. I assume this would cause cancellation of Panzer IV program. Eventually a second Panzer III n.A. plant would open at VOMAG. Panzer III n.A. chassis could be used for all vehicle variants historically mounted on Panzer IV.

    If Germany makes Panzer III n.A. decision during fall 1941 (after meeting T-34) the vehicle could enter mass production at Nibelungenwerk during spring 1942. Panzer IVG (designed by Krupp) could still be produced at Krupp and VOMAG which would give German army two irons in the medium tank fire.
     
  2. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Very good Herr Hess
     
  3. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    That sounds like an excellent tank but I disapprove of your reasoning. You are using arguments which would have been unknown in the late 1930s, such as copper shortages and the removed need for a aircraft carrier. Same with the sloped armour, the Germans knew the principle but chose not to apply it. Why would they do different?

    This is the same kind of reasoning as saying, the "Germans should have put more troops in Normandy because that's where the Allies were going to land". The only point I see with what-if scenarios, is that it shows us what might have happened if something had been done different at a certain point. Your "something different" is too unlikely to be worthwhile to consider.

    I think a much more pragmatic solution was the Einheitspanzer III/IV. Combine elements of the two main tanks and produce them together in large numbers. This was an actual project not a figment of your imagination, carefully contemplated as it clearly is.

    But what exactly is a FAMO suspension except for interleaved wheels? Couldn't it be the same suspension as a Panzer III but with extra wheels? Wouldn't it be better to stick with large Panther-style wheels? Also the Einheitspanzer III/IV had enlarged wheels, bigger than those of Panzer III and IV, probably because it was more economical to produce and to maintain fewer but larger road wheels.

    Kris
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Interleaved road wheels sprung by torsion bars. Germans referred to this as "Schachtellaufwerk".

    All German 3/4 tracks used this suspension type by 1939. So did proposed VK3001(H) and VK3006(H) tanks. Panzer III and Panzer IV both had test installations but suspension change was not made to production models.

    Late war Panzer II ausf L recon tank was a new vehicle for all practical purposes. It had Schachtellaufwerk suspension.

    Sd.Kfz.10 artillery tractor. Nice side view of Schachtellaufwerk suspension.
    demag-d7_sd.kfz.10_012_of_138.jpg
     
  5. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    The Tiger tank also had interleaved road wheels and torsion springs. Does that make it a FAMO suspension?

    Interleaved wheels were unpopular because it tended to clog up mud. I also do not know any post-war vehicles which used it. Of course there must have been, but my point is that there must be sufficient reason why they did not use it.

    If you are going to stick with a 20/20 hindsight scenario, I would suggest building it with the Belleville washer suspension of the E-series. The most simple and cost-effective suspension you can come up with. Also the post-war Swiss Panzer 61/68 had it.

    Kris
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    :confused:
    Interleaved wheels were the most common German tracked combat vehicle suspension. If that doesn't constitute popularity then what does?
     
  7. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    It wouldn't be the first time a manufactor didn't listen to it's customers .
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    And rarely used since in the tens if not hundreds of thousands of tracked vehicles built after WW II.
     
  9. DonL

    DonL Banned

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    #9 DonL, Jun 7, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2013
    error
     
  10. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    Fiddling with the III and a complete redesign would stop production for several months so all the suppliers could implement the required changes. It was best to concentrate on the IV and mass-produce the III as StuG.
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    If Germany waits until 1942 before making a decision they don't have much choice. As of February 1942 they have no medium tanks worthy of the name except for a few hundred captured T-34s. 5cm/60 cannon on Panzer IIIJ light tank hardly justifies use of scarce copper for turret motor.

    You fight the war with the army you fund during peacetime. If Germany wants a 30 ton medium tank similar to T-34 and Sherman they need to pay for the program during late 1930s. Just as Russia did.
     
  12. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    you are exaggerating the copper shortages. The real reason to go from Pz III to StuG III was to mount a bigger gun, not to save copper or any other material.

    I said it before ... Einheitspanzer III/IV was the best compromise between innovation and production.

    Kris
     
  13. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    "Longer Panzer III. The path not taken"

    Leave the MK III alone and just stick a pointy nose and sloped sides on the MK IV like the Jagdpanzer IV.
    001g.jpg

    Hull height can be chopped to what the driver needs and not provide room for the gun. Stick turret on top.

    By the time you add the length to the MK III, change the suspension and stick in a diesel it won't be any cheaper than the MK IV chassis.
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps not but the Panzer III had superior suspension. So IMO it's a better starting point for a German medium tank.
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I don't think so.

    Panzer IVJ produced during final year of war had the electric turret motor deleted due to copper shortage. You don't switch to a hand cranked turret unless you have no choice.
     
  16. DonL

    DonL Banned

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    #16 DonL, Jun 9, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2013
    The whole problem are two things for the Panzer III.

    1. Not any single Panzer III was ever produced on an assembly line. The production of the Panzer III was extensive and Daimler Benz was not able to arrange a good inexpensive assembly line production.
    His counterpart Panzer IV was produced from 1940 from assembly lines and Krupp was able to develop the production much more efficient.

    2. The original turret of the Panzer III and especially the turret circle has not enough space for a long 7,5cm (L43 or L48 ) cannon or a bigger turret.

    Source Walter Spielberger.
     
  17. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Sure. But it was more expensive to produce, more difficult to repair and it added to the height of the vehicle. The only advantage it has, is a smoother ride and a more stable gun platform. But not in such a sense that the Pz IV was missing out.
    Naah, stick with leave springs if you want to produce in large quantities.

    Yeah, final year of the war. Not 1942...
    And in fact, even in 1945, copper shortages were not critical.


    1. That may be true for the PzKpfw III, but the StuG III was also produced by MIAG and Alkett. Were they also without production line? Production costs in RM seems to indicate the PzKpfw III was a bit cheaper than the IV, that indicates that production costs were lower.
    2. The Panzer III was tested with a 75 mm cannon, but it was decided not to go ahead with the production. I do not know why, but in any case, the Panzer IV must have been regarded as more suited for carrying the Kwk 40, while the Panzer III was ideal for the StuG role.


    I can see the dilemma the Germans were facing. After encountering the T-34, they requested a new Panzer to replace both III and IV. So far so good. However, the original design became so complicated that it proved to be impossible to replace them. Had they gone for a more modest design, like the VK 30.02 of Daimler Benz, they would have been able to concentrate all production to this vehicle. It would not have been nearly as good as the Panther, but its larger numbers and simplified logistics would have made it the best choice in the long run.

    Kris
     
  18. DonL

    DonL Banned

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    #18 DonL, Jun 9, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2013
    StugIII was produced at assembly lines. But also the SugIV proved to be a very good alternative.
    Sturmgeschütz IV - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The PIV with KwK 43/48 was far better then the T34-76, from ergonomic, optics, gun and turret, there was no need to replace a Panzer IV until the T34-85 was intoduced.

    To my opinion it was a failure to produce two different tanks since 1936 at germany. The PanzerIII had the better suspension, but couldn't be developed further as much as the Panzer IV, mainly from space and the introduction of the 3,7cm KwK and PaK was one of the biggest mistakes of the Wehrmacht.
    Many officers have warned since 1936 that this gun was much to weak for combat against enemy tanks.
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Nibelungenwerk

    I'm under the impression this was the only proper medium tank plant built by Germany prior to late war expansion of VOMAG. Panzer IV benefitted from production at Nibelungenwerk. If Panzer III were produced at a similar plant it would have similar economy of scale cost savings.

    A bit of tank trivia.
    Kharkov tank plant was largest in the world when constructed during 1931. Evacuation of plant to Urals was ordered too late and Germany captured it largely intact during October 1941. During 1942 German Army established a large tank rebuild facility with about 2,000 local (i.e. Ukrainian) employees supervised by Krupp engineers.

    Soviet counter attack briefly recaptured Kharkov during spring 1943. They wasted no time establishing a major T-34 repair facility at the tank plant. When SS Panzer Korps recaptured Kharkov during March 1943 they acquired about 50 T-34s at the tank plant under repair. After modification to German standards they equipped newly created 3rd SS Panzer Battalion of 2nd SS Panzer Division.

    t34ct.jpg
     
  20. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #20 tyrodtom, Jun 10, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2013
    With how many guards ? And with how many hangings ?

    And strangely with the little bit of the factory they managed to evacuate to Nizhny Tagil and establish Ural plant 183, they managed to produce about 1/3rd of the T-34s made during WW2.
     
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