Tank commanders, who was best?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Lucky13, Apr 18, 2009.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    36,730
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Nightshift picker
    Location:
    A Swede living in Glasgow, Scotland
    Home Page:
    If we look away from tank kills, allied or axis, WHO was the better tank commander all things considered?
     
  2. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,857
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Texas
    I would say Otto Carius and of course Michael Wittman. Hermann Bix was another great tanker.
     
  3. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    28
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Substitute teacher; graduate student
    Location:
    Connecticut, United States
    I have to say Otto Carius and Micheal Wittman.
     
  4. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2004
    Messages:
    1,907
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Barnsley, S. Yorks, UK
    Were there any Allied 'tank aces'? I know there must have been crews which destroyed more than five enemy tanks, but what was the system for claims, and did allied propaganda promote these crews in the same way it did ace pilots? Was it like the airborne system, with intel officers debriefing each crew and assigning credit for kills? I only ask because although I have read about Wittman and Carius, and know that both Germany and Russia had specific decorations for infantrymen who killed tanks, I have never heard of a Russian or Western Allied tank ace like the German ones...
     
  5. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    28
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Substitute teacher; graduate student
    Location:
    Connecticut, United States
    I wondered the same thing BT, I looked online a few times for allied tank aces, but found nothing. Alos, I think Barkmann deserves a claim for best tank commander.
     
  6. m kenny

    m kenny Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2006
    Messages:
    308
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    A look at Wittmann's rise is instructive. He starts at 0 in July 1943. by 7/1/44 he had manged to rack up 56 kills. In the following 21 days he gets another 61. In one day 13/6/44 he is awarded a further 21. It seems that his kill rate was rising steadily over the months and I suppose if he had lasted longer he would end up being credited with 50 tanks a day!
    The system takes no account of the known overclaiming and thus is purely a propoganda tool for civilian consumption. It had little connection with reality.
     
  7. Soren

    Soren Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Messages:
    6,624
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Sure m_kenny, sure :rolleyes:
     
  8. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2004
    Messages:
    1,907
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Barnsley, S. Yorks, UK
    Do either of you know of any Allied tank aces?
     
  9. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    28
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Substitute teacher; graduate student
    Location:
    Connecticut, United States
    That doesn't discredit the fact Wittman blunted the advance of the desert rats in Villers-bocage.
     
  10. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Messages:
    2,240
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    Manager
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Kenny,

    We have debated before and I highly respect your knowledge. But if you are going to try to discredit a war hero for Germany then at least provide proof and not just hear say. I am not saying you are wrong or correct but facts speak volumes. Lets see your facts, I care little for opinions.

    You know as well as any of us here over claiming and propaganda was done on both sides so lets not pretend it was only the Germans doing it.
     
  11. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    15,217
    Likes Received:
    2,047
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Public Safety Automotive Technician
    Location:
    Redding, California
    Home Page:
    In regards to "kill" authentication, I'll post an excerpt from an article by George Nipe titled "Ribbentrop at Prokhorovka". It was a report on a engagement during the battle of Kursk, focusing on Lt. Rudolph Von Ribbentrop. During the battle, Ribbentrop engaged the Soviet 31st and 32nd tank brigades with his 7 Pzkfw tanks.

     
  12. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    28
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Substitute teacher; graduate student
    Location:
    Connecticut, United States
    Interesting, thanks Grau.
     
  13. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    36,730
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Nightshift picker
    Location:
    A Swede living in Glasgow, Scotland
    Home Page:
    Looking at "tank" kills, how many of these were "soft" targets, like trucks etc? Didn't one whatshisname.....Knispel have 160+ kills?
     
  14. m kenny

    m kenny Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2006
    Messages:
    308
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I gave you the numbers. It is obvious that the 'kills' attributed to Wittmann increased towards the end of his life. By the end he was being credited with ever increasing daily totals. Contrast this with the lack of 'kills' for his service up to July 1943.
    It is a fact(i.e. supported by irrefutable evidence) that for Villers Bocage Wittmann only met 11 tanks yet he was given a kill total of 21. Is that proof enough?

    In the end the Germans were so concerned about the amount of overclaiming they applied a flat 50% reduction to all crew claims before they collated the numbers . They at least recognised the problem.
     
  15. m kenny

    m kenny Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2006
    Messages:
    308
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
  16. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    3,734
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Helsinki
    On Allied tank aces, there were at least some, once I looked them for a friend and found a few from net, highest scoring mentioned was an American, but I have forgot his name and score. At least he wasn’t Lt.Col Creighton Abrams, CO of 37th Tank Bn, who according to Zaloga was probably one of the highest scoring US tankers of WWII, but the total number of enemy tanks k/o by his crew is not known as he didn’t consider such tallies significant. There were a few “aces in one day” Firefly commanders, one of whom was Sgt Wilfred Harris from 4/7 Dragoons Guards, whose crew got 5 Panthers on 14 June 44.

    Juha
     
  17. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,679
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    Ive read accounts purporting to be serious studies, claiming the germans lost fewer than 100 tanks at Kursk. Clearly these cannot be accounts that can be taken at all seriously, otherwise why did the Germans have to retreat after the battle.

    In fact the issue of losses is an extremely complex one, not easily answered. Using Kursk as an example, it is often claimed that Soviet losses amounted to 800000 men and over 1500 tanks, whilst German losses are placed at 300000 men and something like 500 tanks. However, according to Zitterling and Frankson, in their "Kursk- A statistical analysis" these figures are clearly wrong in some instances and simply gross misrepresentations of the facts in others. Soviet casualties did amount to 800000, but only 177000 of these were permanent losses, nearly all the remainder were returned to service within 4-6 months of being wounded. German dead amounted to 60000 to which must be added approximately another 40000 captured or MIA. So the final, permanent casualty lists for Kursk amount to 177000 Soviet to approximately 100000 German.

    Similar inconsistencies apply to the tank losses. The Soviets did not lose 1500 tanks as is often reported. In fact about 1300 tanks either broke down, or were knocked out....with the actual numbers knocked out by the Germans being 1080. Of these 1080, fully 400 were obsolete light tanks, which the Soviets did not even bother to repair after the battle. Of the remaining 600 (plus the 220 broken down tanks) all but 200 or so were repaired and returned to service. So overall net losses of heavy armour for the Soviets amounted to just 200 tanks (give or take)

    Turning now to the Germans, the total losses, including breakdowns amounted to about 560 tanks, however some 240 of these were recovered, and later returned to battle. The Germans were forced to abandon over 300 tanks on the battlefield, meaning (shock horror) that German unrecovered losses in tanks actually exceeded Soviet losses (if the Soviet light tanks are ignored).

    Soviet losses remain somewhat problematic, but much has been revealed since the fall of the Soviet Union

    Clearly the wartime claims for tanks knocked out will often not take into account the fact that such losses might not be permamenent. At what point do you credit a kill and at do you take it back, if that "kill" returns to service after it has been knocked out. Incidentally, because the germans were basically on the retreat from '43 onwards, their actual losses as opposed to battlefield casualties, were often much higher than those battlefield accounts would suggest....
     
  18. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    1,857
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Texas
    Von Ribbentrop was another great tanker. The interesting thing was his service on the eastern front in general; being the son of a famous man.
     
  19. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    3,734
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Helsinki
    I always connect Rudolf von Ribbentrop to the debacle of 9th June 44 when his 3./SSPzR 12 lost 7 out of its 12 Panthers in short order to, for all units, C? Coy 25th Armoured Delivery Unit/Rgt which was bringing replacement tanks forward and noticed the attacking Panthers in open. Bad luck for v. Ribbentrop of course but also a fundamental mistake to a Panther unit commander to left a flank unprotected during an attack.

    Juha
     
  20. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    15,217
    Likes Received:
    2,047
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Public Safety Automotive Technician
    Location:
    Redding, California
    Home Page:
    That's a good question, but then again, there's many instances where one side hammers thier opponent and still loses overall. Pearl Harbor would be a prime, and well documented example of this. The Japanese clearly won that engagement, hands-down...but after the fact, many of the ships accounted for as sunk or stricken were eventually restored and came back to haunt them.

    I think the same thing would be the case here. The Germans clearly handed the Soviets thier arse in the above battle, but they weren't able to hold the ground in the long run. A tank's main purpose is, as you know, to take an objective through mobility. Once it has acheived that objective, it's up to the infantry to secure the fresh realestate while the tank (in theory) moves foreward to gain more ground.

    Gaining or even securing the contested ground also means that recovering damaged tanks (including enemy hardware) is critical for resupplying/maintaining your units' strength. The Soviets, after July 12, were bringing up massive amounts of fresh men and equipment, the Germans on the otherhand, were exhausted and under equipped. A Panzer, or even a soldier, lost at this point was a huge deal.
     
Loading...

Share This Page