Michael Wittman, Germany's Best Tank Commander....

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SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Michael Wittmann was the most successful and famous tank commander of World War II. He was credited with the destruction of 141 Allied tanks and 132 anti-tank guns in less than two years.

Wittmann was born on April 22nd of 1914, in Vogelthal near Oberpfalz, in the Hight Palatinat. He was a son of a local farmer - Johann Wittmann. On February 1st of 1934, Wittmann joined Reichsarbeitdienst - RAD (The German Labour Corps) and served for six months, until July.

On October 30th of 1934, he enlisted Germany Army's 19th Infantry Regiment as a Private. Wittmann left the service on September 30th of 1936, as a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer - Unteroffizier. Shortly after, on April 5th of 1937, Michael Wittmann joined No.1 Sturm of 92nd Standarte of the elite Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler. In late 1937, he received driver training on Sd.Kfz.222 (a four-wheeled light armored car) and then Sd.Kfz.232 (a six-wheeled heavy armored car) and proved to be excellent driver.

Wittmann, then joined the 17th Companie which was the Panzer Scout Companie of LSSAH. In the summer of 1938, it was reduced in status to a Panzer Scout Platoon. In September of 1939, SS-Unterscharführer Michael Wittmann commanded Sd.Kfz.232 of the reconnaissance elements of LSSAH and took part in the Polish Campaign. In October of 1939, Michael Wittmann joined the 5th Panzerspähkompanie (the depot company of the Leibstandarte) based at Berlin (Lichterfelde) which was an assault gun "academy". In February of 1940, Wittmann was transfered to the newly formed SS-Sturm-Batterie (assault gun battery - Sturmartillerie) of LSSAH, equipped with Sturmgeschutz Ausf A. The reason of his transfer was that Wittmann was an "under-officer" with three years service experience on an armored vehicle.

At the same time, Wittmann became friends with Hannes Philipsen, Helmut Wendorff, Alfred Günther, and other members of that unit. In late 1940, Michael Wittmann started his panzer combat career in the Balkans (Yugoslavia and Greece). While in Greece, Wittmann was in command of the platoon of Sturmgeschutz III Ausf As (part of LSSAH SS-Sturm-Batterie) and fought there until mid 1941. In June 11th of 1941, Wittmann along with LSSAH was transferred to the east, in preparations for the upcoming operation "Barbarossa", which started on June 22nd. LSSAH was order to advance into southern Russia.

On July 12th of 1941, Michael Wittmann received an Iron Cross (Second Class). Some time later, Wittmann was wounded in combat, but remained with his unit and received the Wound Badge. On September 8th of 1941, he received Iron Cross (First Class), and after fighting in the Rostov area, Wittmann received the Panzer Assault Badge (for destroying six Soviet tanks in single engagement) along with the rank of SS-Oberscharführer.

Until June of 1942, Wittmann fought with his unit in Russia. On June 5th of 1942, because of his outstanding service Wittman accepted as a cadet for the officer training in the SS Junkerschule in Bad Tölz (Bavaria). On September 5th of 1942, Wittmann left Bad Tölz school as a Panzer instructor (SS-Panzerausbildungs und Ersatz-abteilung). On the December 21st of 1942, Wittmann was promoted to the rank of SS-Untersturmführer and on December 24th, he joined the 13th Kompanie of Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler. Michael Wittmann was put in the command of Panzer III Ausf L/M platoon of Tiger kompanie. The platoon was designated to protect the back line of the Tigers from enemy infantry and other obstacles.

In the early spring of 1943, Michael Wittman joined the Tiger kompanie, and left his Panzer III support section. On July 5th of 1943, Wittmann started his combat career on Tiger during the Operation Citadel (Zitadelle). LSSAH was located in the southern sector of the bulge. On the first day of action, Wittmann destroyed two anti-tanks guns and thirteen T-34s, while saving Helmut Wendorff's platoon, which run into trouble. On July 7th and 8th, Wittmann destroyed two T-34s, two SU-122s and three T-60/70s. On July 12th, Wittmann destroyed eight Soviet tanks, three anti-tank guns and one gun battery. This operation finished on the 17th of July 1943, and included the battle of Kharkov and Kursk along with other engagements.

During that time Wittmann's Tiger destroyed 30 Soviet tanks along with 28 guns. On July 29th of 1943, 13 kompanie was used to form schwere SS Panzer Abteilungen 101 which was then attached to LSSAH. In August of 1943, LSSAH was transferred to Italy, for refiting and occupational duties. In sSSPzAbt 101, Wittmann (Tiger #1331) served with other Tiger Aces like: Franz Staudegger (Tiger #1325), Helmut Wendorff (Tiger #1321) and Jürgen Brandt (Tiger #1334). The command of this unit was given to SS-Haupsturmfuhrer Heinz Kling (Tiger #1301). In October of 1943, after the start of Soviet Autumn Offensive, LSSAH was transferred back to the Eastern Front (Kiev area). Also in October, Wittman changed his Tiger #1331 for the Tiger #S21, and got under his command Jürgen Brandt (Tiger #S24).

On October 13th, Wittmann's Tiger destroyed twenty T-34s along with twenty three infantry and anti-tank guns. In December, Wittmann took part in numerous engagements and destroyed a number of Soviet tanks and guns. On January 13th of 1944, Michael Wittmann received the Knight's Cross for his outstanding service to the Fatherland. On January 15/16th of 1944, SS-Rottenfuhrer Balthasar (Bobby) Woll received his Knight's Cross. Balthasar Woll was an excellent gunner, who was even able to fire accurately while on the move.

On January 20th, Wittmann was promoted to the rank of SS-Obersturmfuhrer. Two weeks later, on January 30th 1944, Wittmann received following telegram from Adolf Hitler himself: "In thankful appreciation of your heroic actions in the battle for the future of our people, I award you as the 380th soldier of the German Wehrmacht, the Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Adolf Hitler.".

On February 2nd of 1944, Wittmann received Oak Leafs to his Knights Cross from Führer's hands, in "Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze" (Wolfslair - Rastenburg in East Prussia). On the February 28th of 1944, Wittmann's unit which was under the command of SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinz Kling, counted five Iron Cross "Knights": SS-Untersturmführer Staudegger, SS-Untersturmführer Wendorf and SS-Hauptsturmführer Kling. SS-Obersturmführer Wittman was the only one with Oak Leafs to his Knights Cross. During the period from February 29th to March 2th of 1944, the larger part of the companie was transferred to Mons in Belgium. At the time of the transfer, Wittmann received the command of 2nd Kompanie of sSSPzAbt 101 of LSSAH.

After leaving Eastern Front, Michael Wittmann stated that Soviet anti-tank guns were harder and were more prized targets than tanks. On March 1st, Michael Wittman married Hildegard Burmester and his mariage wittness was his gunner - Bobby Woll. At that time, Wittmann became a national hero and was seen everywhere. The propaganda made him into a hero of the entire German nation. In the April of 1944, Wittmann visited the Henschel und Sohn factory at Kassel and spoke to the employees thanking them for their great job on producing Tiger I. During his visit he discovered the production line of Late Type Tiger I Ausf E.

In May of 1944, Wittmann re-joined the sSSPzAbt 101 of the LSSAH which was stationed in the area of Lisieux in Normandy, France. LSSAH was a part of panzer reserve which included 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend" and the Panzer Lehr Division. At that time the command of sSSPzAbt 101 was given to Heinz von Westernhagen (Tiger #007). On the June 6th of 1944 (D-Day), Wittmann got a new late production model Tiger I #205.

From 6th to 12th June, sSSPzAbt 101 moved to the invasion front in Normandy. On their way, Wittmann's 2nd Kompanie was reduced to six Tiger by Allied air attacks. Wittmann's company along with the Panzer Lehr Division and the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend" was part of Heeresgruppe under the command of Erwin Rommel. On June 13th, the battle began near Bayeux area. At the time Wittmann's company was near Villiers-Bocage, at the south of Tilly-sur-Seulles (Caen area). On June 13th of 1944, Wittmann's company destroyed entire 4th County of London Yeomanry Regiment travelling on the road No.175 to Villers-Bocage, at the Hill No.213.

Fighting did not finish on the road No.175, it was continued in the village of Villers-Bocage where both Germans and British lost some tanks. On July 22nd, after his success at Villers-Bocage, Wittmann received the Swords for his Knight Cross with Oak Leafs after being recommended personally by the LSSAH's commander, SS-Obergruppenfuhrer und Panzergeneral der Waffen SS Josef "Sepp" Dietrich. The ceremony was on June 25th of 1944 and Adolf Hitler in person decorated Wittmann who then became the most decorated tanker ace of World War II. At the same time he also received the rank of SS-Haupsturmfuhrer.

Wittmann was offered a position of an instructor at a training school but he refused and returned to Normandy on July 6th and participated in the Battle of Caen (3rd to 10th of July). During July of 1944, Wittmann fought near Caen area until August. At the time Wittmann got a new Tiger #007.

On June 12, (D-Day +6) SS-Hauptsturmfr (captain) Michael Wittman, leader of a group of five Tiger tanks, watched the famed 7th Armoured Division division advance towards the strategic hill town of Villers-Bocage. Unknown to the British, two companies of the 1st SS Panzer Corps panzer reserve had arrived there and were already in position.

That day Michael Wittman would earn the praise of both friend and foe as the most acclaimed tank commander in history. Wittman and his company of four other Tigers and a Mark IV Special had the same mission as the 22nd Armoured Brigade, to occupy the commanding terrain around Point 213. One of the most amazing engagements in armoured history was to take place at Point 213.

At around 9 AM the lead elements of the London Yeomanry reached Point 213 accompanied by an advance party of infantry from "A" Company, 1st Battalion The Rifle Brigade. The tank-infantry column consisted of some 25 half-tracks and tanks stopped a few hundred yards behind a hedgerow lined section of highway. The infantry was called forward simultaneously as two or three Tiger tanks were spotted moving parallel to the stopped column, screened by the hedge.The Tigers swung around to face the column whose crews had just dismounted. Wittman had watched the column stop from the wooded high ground several hundred meters north from the road. He immediately saw the column's vulnerability and decided to attack at once without waiting for the other Tigers to assist. "Running to the left of, and parallel to, the road on which the British column lay there was a narrow cart track. Wittman decided to approach the column via this track and to destroy....the personal carrier near the road and track junction. The high velocity gun was laid, armed and fired The [British] half-track, swung across the road by the force of the impact, caught fire and began to pour out dense clouds of black smoke....the heavy Tiger thundered towards the British, shuddering only slightly as the heavy gun fired shell after shell into the mass of machines. Half-tracks, carriers and tanks were smashed by 88 mm shells, and then with a final burst of speed the 55 ton steel monster, destroying in its rush a British tank which it met on the narrow path, crashed through the junction, was swung in a tight arc onto the roadway and began its descent upon the vehicles lined up outside the village and along the narrow high street." Panzer, London, 1976

Wittman's Tiger entering the main street immediately ran into the RHQ tanks whose crews had dismounted and were unable to react to the lone Tiger bearing down on them. Wittman's Tiger knocked out three more British tanks and then withdrew into the woods southeast of Villers-Bocage. This was only the beginning. That afternoon after rearming and refueling Wittman returned with four other Tigers, the Mark IV Special, and three other tanks plus infantry. The German force attacked what was left of the British tank infantry force. The British lost 20 Cromwell tanks, 4 Fireflys, 3 light tanks, 3 scout cars and a half track. Almost single-handedly, Wittman, this most courageous and brilliant German tank commander, had destroyed the British advance around Villers-Bocage and forced the 7th Armoured Division onto the defensive.

In the beginning of August, Wittmann along with sSSPzAbt 101 was transferred to Cintheaux area. At the time Germans tried to recapture Caen which was completly destroyed by ongoing fighting. On August 8th of 1944, a new battle began near Cintheaux. It was Wittmann's final battle.

At 12:55am (as reported by SS-Hauptscharführer Höflinger - Tiger #213 which was positioned in the same field at the rear, right of Wittmann's Tiger.) in a field near the road to Caen-Cintheaux, at Gaumesnil, Wittmann's Tiger was destroyed and its entire crew killed. After fighting the remains of Wittmann and his crew were buried beside what was left of their Tiger, without any markings. Until 1983, the destruction of Wittman's Tiger was an mystery even for crews of sSSPzAbt 101. Many sources say that it was destroyed by the "Firefly Ambush", but different units claimed to ambush and destroy Wittmann's Tiger, including those of the either 1st Polish Armoured Division, 4th Canadian Armoured Division (Canadian Shermans supposedly surrounded and shot Wittmann's Tiger to pieces) or 33rd British Independent Armored Brigade.

In the memoirs of a former member Mr.F.R of sSSPzAbt 101, official version at the time stated that Wittmann's Tiger was destroyed by an airplane bomb. Both presented a picture of Wittmann's Tiger without its turret with the gun barrel placed on the hull which in fact is the picture of SS-Untersturmführer Alfred Günther's Tiger destroyed by an airplane bomb at Evrecy. Along with those two versions, some claims were made that units which were not even present in the area at the time, were responsible for destroying Wittmann's Tiger.

Both versions were proven wrong in 1945, by Mr.Serge Varin who found Tiger #007. Mr.Varin was interested in this tank because its turret was teared away from the hull. Mr.Varin examined Wittmann's Tiger and noticed that it was not penetrated by any shells fired at it during the fighting. The only damage to the hull was a big hole in the rear, near the engine deck. further examination Mr.Varin concluded that the impact came from the air. The rocket hit Tiger's rear deck (made of 25mm thick armor), penetrated the air intakes and exploded causing the explosion in the engine compartment and fighting compartment which ignited the stored ammunition. The second explosion instantly killed the entire crew and blew off the turret into the air. Wittmann's Tiger was destroyed by a rocket fired from a Royal Air Force Hawker "Typhoon" MkIB - attack aircraft. Typhoons were armed with HE (High-explosive) rockets and took heavy tow of German tanks during the Normandy battles (for example on August 8th of 1944, Typhoons destroyed 135 German tanks and among those Tiger #007).

Michael Wittmann and his crew was killed in action on August 8th of 1944, at Gaumesnil near Cintheaux. In March of 1983, the unmarked field grave of Tiger #007's crew was discovered during the construction of the road and was excavated. It was possible to identify the remains by Wittmann's dental records and Heinrich Reimers's (driver) identification tag. Wittmann and his crew was then officially buried in the German Military Cemetery of "De La Cambe" in Normandy, France. That event had fully proven the exact location of Wittmann's Tiger and its fate as previosly suggested by Mr.Varin.
On August 8th of 1944, crew of Tiger #007 from 2nd Kompanie of schwere SS-Panzer Abteilungen 101 of LSSAH was as follows:

SS-Sturmmann Rudolf "Rudi" Hirschel (radioman) 24/1/3 - 44/8/8 (20 years old)

SS-Unterscharführer Henrich Reimers (driver) 24/5/11 - 44/8/8 (20 years old)

SS-Unterscharführer Karl Wagner (observer) 20/5/31 - 44/8/8 (24 years old)

SS-Sturmmann Günther Weber (loader) 24/12/21 - 44/8/8 (20 years old)

SS-Haupsturmfuhrer Michael Wittmann (commander) 14/4/22 - 44/8/8 (30 years old)

He ended up his career as a Commander of 2.Kompanie schwere SS-Panzer Abteilung 101 (part of 1st SS Panzer Division "LSSAH"). SS-Haupsturmfuhrer Michael Wittman was the most successful tanker ace of World War II. His friends said that Michael Wittmann was a quiet man even during combat and that he had 6th sense, to know where and how to engage the enemy. Wittmann commanded excellent crews, who were able to fully cooperate with him and anticipated his orders. Wittmann was highly admired by his comrades and very highly thought of by his superiors. Michael Wittmann represents a real hero who fought to the bitter end for his Fatherland. Wittmann's personal bravery is unquestionable and his place in the annals of military history thoroughly deserved.
While Wittmann is the most famous German tank ace of WW2 he wasn't the most successful.
Here's a list of the most successful aces according to official Nazi sources in WW2 .
1.Kurt Knispel –168 Kills (sPzAbt. 503)
2.Otto Carius – 150+ Kills (sPzAbt. 502)
3.Johannes (Hans) Bolter-- 139 Kills (possibly 144) (sPzAbt. 502)
4.Michael Wittman – 138 Kills (sS.S.PzAbt. 101 Liebstandarte)

As for how Wittmann meet his death the Typoon account has now been totally discreditted
Heres a post by James Blackwell a noted expert on Tigers in Normandy

"There are a lot of conflicting and spurious accounts re Wittmann's death on Aug. 8 1944 - (just under 2 months after his famous action at Villers-Bocage) - from surrounded by 5 Canadian Shermans, to Polish Shermans, artillery/naval strike, Typhoon hit etc., etc.

But contrary to the oft quoted Typhoon strike, the latest and the ONLY one that can seemingly be substantiated with facts is, that he WAS taken out with 2 shots to his right rear flank by a single Sherman Firefly belonging to Sgt. Gordon (gunner; Trooper Joe Ekins), from 3.Plt., A.Sqn., 33.Arm. Bgd., 1.Northamptonshire Yeomanry. He and the other Tigers with him were caught totally unawares, not realizing the British had taken up a flanking position so close by, thinking the Poles ahead were their only concern.

This Firefly was hidden in a tree line with a troop of standard 75mm Shermans to Wittmann's starboard side, N.East of Gaumesnil as he moved north in command Tiger "007" (ex Heinz Von Westerhagen's, whom he had succeeded as Bttn.CO on July 10 when the former suffered complications to an earlier head wound, hence allowing Wittmann to inherit his Tiger).

Wittmann's was the last vehicle in the advance, through an open field parallel to the N158, toward the 1.Polish Arm.Div. reported to be ahead at Aignan de Cramesnil.

He did so along with 6 other Tigers, 5 of which were initially KO'd and 1 abandonned in this unexpected ambush, with the last KO'd a little later (source: "TIC 2"; p.259 text, p.290 pic., + Agte; pp.423-433 text {p.425 in particular}, p.477 pic, + pp.182-183 "Panzers in Normandy - Then Now {a little dated and still claiming 5 Shermans and only 4 Tigers}, + p.46-53 "After the Battle" mag no. 48 - "Michael Wittmann's Last Battle" - which even has transcripts of British I/C and radio traffic describing the incidents).

The only minor glitch is that the British claim less kills than Tigers found, but in the heat of battle no one would really be keeping meticulous score).

The Agte book describes the action concisely even down to recollections from Hans Höflinger who witnessed the hits into the side wall around the fuel tank area that initially lifted and displaced the turret onto the hull top, and began a fire, before ammo cooking off sent it skyward to its final resting place behind the vehicle. The penetrations and subsequent explosions instantly killed the crew (Agte p.425 429). The vehicle was obviously still moving when hit and the explosions have broken both tracks while it continued rolling off them till slewing to a halt some 20 metres further on.

The Germans for a long time refused to believe he had been killed and listed him as "MIA" for morale purposes though most officers in s.SS.Pz.Abt.101 knew he had been killed. His roadside grave, where he was buried by local civilians in a communal pit, was found in 1983 based on research being done for "Panzers in Normandy - Then Now". The research by the author led to the German War Graves Commission searching the area with metal detectors, finding the bodies and relocating his and his crew's remains to La Cambe War Cemetary where they still lie today.

Why the 'Typhoon' or 'surrounded by Shermans' (Polish or canadian) myths still persist when so much evidence now 'proves' it was a lone Firefly, is a real mystery? The Germans apparently began it as a propaganda exercise (after first listing him as MIA for a very long time), so as to
refuse admitting to the troops and public that the famed 'invincible' Tiger Ace was beaten by another tank, and made his end sound more martyr-like by implying him going down to the dreaded 'Jabo'.

Apart from everything else stacked against it, the Typhoon account suffers even further, if not fatally, due to no sorties being recorded as having flown in that area on that day from all accounts.

The engine deck damage reported by a French farmer, of questionable reliabilty anyway, could easily, and most likely, have resulted from the fuel tanks going up and the subsequent ammo explosions following the 17pdr penetration.

As for the Poles and Canadians, while both very close by, they were beaten to it by (the Squadron's 2IC), Captain (later Lord) Boardman's ambush from the treeline.

On pp.425-430 of Agte's book the story is presented fairly conclusively. Wittmann at first wasn't going to go along on the attack but at the last minute changed his mind as he felt the platoon leader Heurich was too inexperienced - this being only his first action. Apparently Wittmann was uneasy about the probe, but put this aside out of a sense of duty to to do the right thing and keep an eye on Heurich.

Advancing in the group of 6 other Tigers with Wittmann (ie. 7 total*), was Dollinger, Blase (314), Iriohn, Kisters (312?), Rolf Von Westernhagen (334?) and Hans Höflinger (who was in the other command Tiger possibly 008, or 009 - though 009 should have been Dollinger's so not sure of his mount on this attack.).

On p.425 Agte states:

"Hans Höflinger now describes the subsequent course of the attack from his experience: 'Then we drove off, Michel (sic) right of the road and I left, four others with Michel and the brother of Heinz Von Westernhagen with me. Approximately 800 meters to Michel's right there was a small wood which struck us as suspicious and which was to prove fateful to us. Unfortunately, we couldn't keep the wood under observation on account of our mission. We drove about one to one-and-a half kilometres, and then I received another radio message from Michel which only confirmed my suspicions about the wood. We began taking heavy fire from anti-tank guns and once again Michel called, but didn't complete the message. When I looked out to the left I saw that Michel's tank wasn't moving. I called him by radio but received no answer. Then my tank received a frightful blow and I had to order my crew to get out as it had already begun to burn fiercely. My crew and I dashed toward the rear and got through. I stopped to look around and to my dismay discovered that five of our tanks had been knocked out. The turret of Michel's tank was displaced to the right and tilted down somewhat. None of his crew had got out. I climbed into Von Westernhagen's tank and, together with Heurich, whose Tiger was undamaged, tried to get to Michel's tank. We could not get through. Dr. Rabe also tried it, but in vain...I can state the exact time of the incident; it was 1255 hours, near the Falaise-Caen road in the vicinity of Cintheaux."

Agte then follows up on p.425 with the British account of the incident:

"...At 1240 hours Captain Boardman gave Sergeant Gordon's tank the order to fire. The Tigers were seven-hundred meters distant. The Firefly's gunner was Trooper Joe Ekins, who hit the

rearmost Tiger of the three Tigers in his sight with two shots. The Tigers had failed to spot the well-camouflaged Shermans, and it was only after the first shots had been fired and a Tiger knocked out that Wittmann transmitted the message referred to by SS-Hauptscharfuhrer Höflinger: 'Move! Attention! Attention! Anti-tank guns to the right! - Back up!...'."

On p.425 "Höflinger described how, after it was hit, the turret of Wittmann's Tiger was displaced to the right and tilted forward. That was its condition immediately after the tank was knocked out. Furthermore it is absolutely certain that the turret was blown off shortly afterward by the force of the exploding ammunition - possibly accelerated by burning fuel in the fighting compartment - and thrown several meters away from the tank. This is confirmed by the only existing photo of 007, taken by a French civilian soon after the engagement. The Tiger therefore began to burn immediately after it was hit, which by then caused the ammunition in the turret to explode. Only the tremendous force produced by the exploding armour-piercing and high-explosive shells could have torn the turret, which weighed tonnes, from the hull and then tossed it meters through air. The crew must have been killed or incapacitated when the tank was hit. The subsequent explosion then extinguished any doubts as to the fate of the five men inside 007."

Hans Dollinger the battalion signals officer, and SS-Sturmmann Alfred Bahlo his Radio Op, also recount their experiences as the lead vehicle in the attack along a similar vein to Höflinger...and say on p.429 as they make their way back from their burning Tiger with the fatally wounded Obschf. Schott "...On the way we passed the knocked out panzer of Hauptsturmführer Wittmann; the turret was blown off."

Dr. Rabe also witnessed the hit and described it in a letter to Wittmann's wife to tell her the real story: "When the attack got rolling, I drove forward several hundred meters and covered the last stretch on foot. There was quite a lot of heavy anti-tank and artillery fire. I wanted to get to Michel's (sic) tank. When I got to within about 250 to 300 meters I saw flames suddenly shoot from the tank and the turret fly off and fall to the ground. The tank then burned out completely. I still tried to reach it, but I couldn't cross the open field as the Tommy fired at solitary me with their anti-tank guns. It is unlikely Michel got out before the hit, as I would have seen him. None of the remaining crew members came back either."

Agte sums up with the following:

After evaluating all available documents on the German and English sides and interviewing the handful of survivors of this action..., one can only assume that the tank that was hit at 1247 hours, was 007. SS-Hauptsturmführer Dr.Rabe's account and the English war diary both mention that this was the only Tiger that blew up after being hit. The eight minute time discrepancy compared to that given in Höflinger's account is of little significance as the source of the error appears to be completely genuine and time discrepancies

Thank you James Blackwell for the awesome posts and awesome research!!!
Notice how the top three were in Schwere Panzer Abeitlung 503 or 502...equipped with King Tigers, Ferdinands or Tigers.

They still don't know how Wittman died...reports suggest he was ambushed by British Fireflys...others say Fighter-Bombers got him...
plan_D said:
They still don't know how Wittman died...reports suggest he was ambushed by British Fireflys...others say Fighter-Bombers got him...
Didn't you read my post :confused:

It included eyewitness accounts from members of Wittmanns own unit who were there when his tank was KO'd.

What more evidence do you want :rolleyes:
The account from his men saw his Tiger disappear behind trees. Then they didn't see it again until it was crippled. A lot of examinations on his tank showed a POSSIBLE Typhoon strike - although unlikely.

I'm not going to read your post, again. The most accepted idea is that his Tiger was ambushed by Fireflys. And in all the accounts I've read he had disappeared from view of his fellow Tiger crews.
plan_D said:
The account from his men saw his Tiger disappear behind trees. Then they didn't see it again until it was crippled. A lot of examinations on his tank showed a POSSIBLE Typhoon strike - although unlikely.

I'm not going to read your post, again.
From that statement I doubt you even read my post in the first place :rolleyes:

All the Tigers, including Wittmanns were in open ground when they were ambushed and at no point did Wittmanns tank disappear from view
. And in all the accounts I've read he had disappeared from view of his fellow Tiger crews.
and I've not read a single account of this ambush which states that he disappeared from view, :rolleyes:
I've read one or two that stated he disappeared from view, that is why there was a lot of confusion as to how it got taken out. Ambushing a whole platoon of Tigers is never smart, even in a ambush a platoon of Tigers would shoot itself out. Allied armour only had one Firefly per platoon. That's the only tank with any chance of destroying the Tiger.
plan_D said:
I've read one or two that stated he disappeared from view, that is why there was a lot of confusion as to how it got taken out.
There was never any confusion on how Wittmann got taken out with the men in his unit, the confusion was caused by the German propaganda authorities falsely stating he had been killed by an aircraft attack( after all it wouldn't do for one of their greatest tank ace's to have been killed by a Sherman, what would that do for morale)
Ambushing a whole platoon of Tigers is never smart, even in a ambush a platoon of Tigers would shoot itself out.
The Tigers were caught in the open, they had no cover near-by, while the Sherman Firefly and its unit was in good cover at the edge of a wood, 800 meters away . If things had gone wrong for the Allied unit it could have retreated into the wood (the Tigers wouldn't have followed, they would have been too fearful of infantry with nasty PIAT's).
While for the Tigers there was no hiding place. The Allied unit had caught them with their pants down, and Wittmann and his unit paid the price
Shermans cannot hurt a Tiger from 800 metres away, unless for sole purpose alone of destroying Wittman they positioned Fireflys in the wood.
plan_D said:
Shermans cannot hurt a Tiger from 800 meters away, unless for sole purpose alone of destroying Wittman they positioned Firefly's in the wood.
The unit which ambushed Wittmanns unit didn't know it was Wittmann they were firing at. It was only post-war when researchers checked the records of Wittmanns unit, and cross checked it with Allied combat reports, that the evidence showed how Wittmann met his death.

All British and Canadian Sherman units used the ratio of 1 Sherman firefly per troop ( 4 tanks).

Its also not true that a Sherman armed with a 75mm cannot hurt a Tiger at 800 meters,. While their weapon cannot penetrate the Tigers armour, it can with the force of shell actually hitting the tank, damage it enough to KO it for combat use, or cause some of the armour from the inside of the tank to break off as splinters, and kill or wound the crew ( this is called shell splash)

ps If you read Max Hastings book OVERLORD. their is the personal account by a German tank crewman of how his Panther tank was Ko'd by an American 75mm Sherman, when a shell which did not penetrate, knocked the turret off the turret ring, jamming it.
Shell splash is only caused when a certain amout of penertration is caused. The armour didn't just fragment unless wielding wasn't done properly. That's why riveted tanks were not liked, because the rivets would shoot inside the tank if hit.

A) A Panther isn't a Tiger B) 800m is a long way for a Sherman 75mm, it would find it VERY VERY VERY hard to put a Tiger out of action. Any hit to put the Tiger out of action from 800m would be a lucky one.

I should get OVERLORD, I've got Armageddon. 8)
plan_D said:
Any hit to put the Tiger out of action from 800m would be a lucky one.
I totally agree with you

However if you hit the Tiger often enough, you will eventually get lucky.

Even if you don't, by firing at them you will confuse and worry the crew, distracting them from locating the major threat to them....... The Firefly ;)
True, although it's not hard to locate a Firefly once its fired. Since the smoke gave away its position.
my understanding is that Wittmann and crew were killed with something larger than a 75mm, although a couple of shots up a Tigers butt can do quite a bit of damage. All the Tigers of Wittmanns zug were in open field and all were sitting ducks when hit from the flank. An amazingly stupid manuver when wittmann and his crews were told not to venture out into the open but take a vent down the line of trees where the Shermans were hiding. In either case this will be disputed till times end but I feel the materials from Redcoat are suffice. The two volume monster on the 12th SS Pz. Div also concludes with the same that Wittmann and the other tTigers were brewed up by British tankers..........
Well, Fireflys are equipped with 17 pdr - early 76mm and later an improved 77mm (shorter) barrelled variant. Brilliant tanks, best the Allies had in June 1944.
plan_D said:
Well, Fireflys are equipped with 17 pdr - early 76mm and later an improved 77mm (shorter) barrelled variant. Brilliant tanks, best the Allies had in June 1944.
No, that would be the JS-2 with its 122mm gun and 120mm of frontal armour.
The Sherman Firefly was the best Western Allied tank.
Also, the Firefly was only equipped with the 17pdr (76.2mm).
The 77mm gun only saw service with the Comet (A34) tank in early 45,


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Most people in this world refer to the Western Allies as the Allies, and the Soviets as a different entity. I am keeping with that trend, so I'll repeat "[The Firefly were] Brilliant tanks, best the Allies had in June 1944"

And there were tests with the 77mm 17 pdr on the Firefly.
plan_D said:
Most people in this world refer to the Western Allies as the Allies, and the Soviets as a different entity. I am keeping with that trend,
:rolleyes: No they don't.
Your just making this up as you go along.:lol:
so I'll repeat "[The Firefly were] Brilliant tanks, best the Allies had in June 1944"
You can repeat it as many times as you want, your still wrong ;)
No, you'll find that the Western Allies are refered to as Allies. It's always been like that.

And I see your another one that just states numbers without looking at the combat potential. The IS-2 had 120mm frontal armour, which looks impressive but it was crap! The Panther could destroy it at 800 m with a direct hit when the Soviets claimed it was invincible.

Bringing all aspects of a tank (manuverability, ease of produce, durability, chance of strike, armament, armour, fuel consumption etc.) the Firefly could still be argued as the best of both Soviet and Allied armies.

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