Tank armament effectiveness vs infantry

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Zeus, Jun 18, 2008.

  1. Zeus

    Zeus New Member

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    How would you rate different pieces of tank armament like coaxial or hull mounted machine guns, and low or high velocity main guns of different calibres, when comparing their effectiveness against infantry?

    Tank machine guns were meant for use against infantry/artillery, but most tanks carried HE ammo, even for smaller calibres like 37mm (or even 20mm?), and even for high velocity guns where the effectiveness of HE ammo is greatly reduced. Which would be more or less effective? Would a tank with a high velocity 75 or 88mm gun (let's say a Tiger I or panther) be better off using its machine guns or HE ammo?

    And were coaxial machine guns in tanks less effective than the same coaxial machine guns in armored cars? A Panzer II C had the same armament as an SdKfz 222 - would they be just as effective against infantry, or is there a difference there (armored cars seem to be generally considered to be devastating against infantry, while I don't think I ever read about infantrymen's fear of the Panzer II).

    Any insights or references are greatly appreciated :) !
     
  2. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    Hello Zeus,

    Defensive armament on a tank is to provide defensive fire in close proximity (besides AA), where the barrel of a tank could not be traversed or lowered on to. It would not be feasible for a tank to be loaded up to his heels with HE ammo just to encounter infantry – also far too costly – HE ammo was shot onto soft vehicles or gun emplacements.

    A scout car is off course far more flexible than a Panzer II, its destructive force is just as good as that of the Pz.II when it come to engaging infantry but it was less armored and missed the heavy gun to encounter tanks. Therefore the mission spectrum is already entirely different.

    And I believe that an infantry soldier will fear any tank. It is obvious that in the early stages of the war, where the Pz. II was used as the prime German tank, it had a devastating effect on infantry and other tanks – it was the tank that helped to conquer Poland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia and Greece, plus the initial stages of Barbarossa and Africa.

    Regards
    Kruska
     
  3. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    HE rounds in the WWII context was also necessary to counter long range AT defences. The British 2pdr guns in the desert lacked the HE capability, which reduced them to trying to hit 88s with solid shot. the result was that British tanks were repeatedly massacred by the German Hy AT.

    Contrary to popular beliefe, tanks are vulnerable to infantry, noit the other way round. However, a combined Infantry - armour team is a formidable opponent, as the germans demonstrated time and again during the war. Essentially the friendly Infantry keeps the enemy infantry busy, whilst the friendly tanks goes about killing the enemy infantry
     
  4. Zeus

    Zeus New Member

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    Thanks for your replies! I appreciate the insights.

    I was kinda hoping for a little more specific info though :lol: . Maybe I should make the question more specific as well.

    Would a tank with a 75mm low velocity gun (like the Sherman M4A1 or Panzer IV D) prefer to use its coaxial MG against infantry, or its main gun, or either depending on circumstances (and in the last case, which circumstances)?

    And the same for a high velocity 75mm/88mm gun like the Tiger/Panther. How badly did the fact that HE shells fired by the high velocity gun buried themselves in the ground before exploding affect their performance when compared to a low velocity gun?

    Thanks again!
     
  5. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    This is not generally true; it was true for the Sherman short 75mm vs the long 76.2mm gun, which latter had a HE shell with less exposive charge than the 75mm version, and thus was less effective. But that`s a peculiarity of the Sherman guns, for others, there wasn`t such a generic 'rule'. It comes down to specific shell design.

    For example, there was no difference between the short 75mm howitzers and the long 75mm guns mounted on early/late Panzer IV, both contained apprx. the same amount of explosives, as did the Panthers ultra-long 75mm L/70.

    Where high velocity guns can be at disadvante is that their rounds may dig into deeper to the ground/objects, reducing their power. However generally HE rounds were fired with less charge and lower muzzle velcoties than AP rounds from the same gun. If I recall correctly, about 600 m/sec was standard for German long tank gun`s HE rounds, which otherwise fired AP at 740 to 1000 m/sec muzzle velocity.
     
  6. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    Hello Zeus,

    In close proximity – closer than 20/25m – the tank won’t be able to use its gun on infantry. At further or suitable gun distance off course the tank will use HE ammo on soft targets, which would include infantry if at strength. Meaning a tank will not fire an HE shell at 4-7 infantry guys running around. Since tanks are usually accompanied by infantry in order to protect the tank against enemy infantry the usage of a HE shell would be a bad choice if fired closer than a 100 m.

    It is not the mission of a tank to solely attack infantry, but to break through enemy positions, gun emplacements and off course to engage enemy tanks. During the task of eliminating enemy positions or gun emplacements, whilst breaking through or attacking, the tank will be using HE ammo and his defensive MG’s whilst also being supported by previous or imminent artillery support in order to knock out infantry or gun emplacements that could threaten the tank and his accompanying infantry.

    Regards
    Kruska
     
  7. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    The defensive armament on a tank, i.e. the MG's, are the most effective at dealing with infantry. Why ? Because they can instantly target a man and lay down a deadly wall of lead his way, and there's no reloading time, just a continious spray of bullets.

    Now don't get me wrong the main gun was a very effective anti personnel weapon, but in a limited way. As pointed out the main gun was not effective at close range as the turret was too slow and predictable as it slowly tried to swivel itself towards you, giving you plenty of time to react - the MG's give you no chance to think, they can be on you in an instant spewing out a deadly wall of lead your way.

    As for the effectiveness of a 75mm HE shell, it was/is devastating and would easily level a small house. The 88's HE shells were capable of turning a two storey house into rubble.
     
  8. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Zeus, I believe the offensive armamment of a tank is the machine guns it carries. In short, the tank carries the MGs to kill enemy personnel and destroy wheeled vehicles(like trucks) The main gun is to defend itself against other tanks or tank destroyers.
     
  9. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    The main gun is the main offensive weapon, the MG's are mainly the defensive weapons. You're not going to be much effective on the offensive just using the MG's, esp. not against armoured targets.

    German tanks such as the Tiger Panther were designed mainly to engage destroy enemy tanks at long distances, sporting the deadliest most powerful high velocity AT guns of the era. The MG's were there to keep infantry from getting close to the tank, while the main gun was used to engage the enemy at range.

    At 400m a man can't hope to out run at tank's main gun as it swivels to target him, which means the best tactic is to stay low, which now makes you vulnerable to the HE shells fired from the main gun. And trust me, a 75mm HE shell will make a real mess of anyone within a 10m radius of where it detonates, and the shrapnel can incapacitate or kill you from a much longer distance away.
     
  10. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    "trust me, a 75mm HE shell will make a real mess of anyone within a 10m radius of where it detonates,"

    I doubt that, having being 20m away from detonating SC 50 and 10 meter away from detonating 10kg A/T mine
     
  11. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    It is really a question of semantics but when you think about it the tank is really meant to go on the battlefield and bring firepower to bear on the enemy which is mainly infantrymen, defeat them and put them to flight. Tanks are vulnerable to infantry, especially if they have no supporting infantry and the main gun in the tank is not nearly as effective against infantry as the MGs. As I said it is somewhat a question of semantics but the MGs in a tank are used much more often than the main gun. At least, that is what I learned when I was in the NCO Academy at Ft Hood, Texas. I was in the 49th Armored Div. Where did you learn your armor tactics, Soren?
     
  12. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Behind some sort of protective wall yes, otherwise you would be in very bad shape. But again an AT mine is designed to explode with all its force upwards, so this isn't the most dangerous, still it is required to be behind a protective wall. As for the SC 50, how much are we talking about here Juha ? And again you were behind or in a bunker.

    Anyway it doesn't matter cause I know it will make a mess of you having witnessed litterally thousands of controlled explosions.

    Do you know how much damage just 2 kg of plastic explosives can cause ?? I doubt you do.
     
  13. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Dear Soren
    I have been combat engineer and used plastic explosives.
    SC 50 is 50kg LW HE bomb, mate.

    And the A/T mine, it wasn't designed to explode with all its force upwards, it does that if dug in the groung but we didn't want all those peddles and earth over us so we detonated them on the surface, 9,5 kg TNT produced quite a blast, I admit.
     
  14. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    As in hw to combat them or how to field them ? If the former then while in service obviously, while the latter is mainly from witnessing actions operations performed by the armour supporting us, and then in no small part from reading hundreds of books on the armoured warfare throughout WW2.
     
  15. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Dear Juha, then I simply can't comprehend how you can at the slightest doubt that a 75mm HE shell will turn anyone within a 10m radius into a real mess, it will! Remember we're not talking plastic explosives or mines here, we're talking about a cannon shell exploding into thousands of fragments, heck alone the blast is enough to kill you!

    Ever wondered why handgrenades have a certain safe range, or why there are such things as concussion grenades ???

    As for the SC 50, again how much or many are we talking about here, a single or several ? The reason I'm asking is that the charge no doubt has been affected by weather over the many years.

    But then again, it is very limited what you learn as a mere draftee..
     
  16. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Now in the army where men where trained to fight and not run away, even draftees learn something.

    "As pointed out the main gun was not effective at close range as the turret was too slow and predictable as it slowly tried to swivel itself towards you, giving you plenty of time to react - the MG's give you no chance to think, they can be on you in an instant spewing out a deadly wall of lead your way."

    For ex seeing that writer of that quote sounds more like eager beaver than professional soldier. I don't know who you are but your style doesn't convince me.
     
  17. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    To demonstrate how powerful just a mere handgrenade is:

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIsC4xhIT3Y

    The cop below was about 7-10 m from the handgrenade when it exploded, he was knocked unconcious by the blast, and he was behind a tree!
     
  18. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    I don't give a rats ass Juha. Your last comments just confirmed what I knew all along, you were in for 12 months and then out again. Come back when you've been in service for 20+ years and actually seen combat, then we can talk.
     
  19. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    having trown live handgranades I don't need YouTube to see their effects

    Juha

    Ps I wasn't in 12 months, only 11 plus some rehearsal training after that
     
  20. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    To think that a tank will engage an infantry man at 400 yds with his main gun is ridiculous. A group of infantry in some sort of fortification maybe but a man running in the open. I doubt it!
     
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