was the tiger really all that good

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by fly boy, May 22, 2009.

  1. fly boy

    fly boy Member

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    aganist the sherman in the long term if the US upgraded them and got more of those m18 hellcat tank killers with them in a group
     
  2. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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  3. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    The Tiger was a much superior tank to the Sherman. British experience in Normandy showed that only the Firefly variant of the Sherman armed with the 17pdr gun stood a good chance of knocking the Tiger out. This was probably the largest gun the Sherman could carry (77mm as opposed to the 75 and 76mm guns of US and other British variants) - fitting the powerful 90mm gun required a larger turret ring, and ultimately a new tank (the Pershing).

    While adding TDs like the Hellcat might have given US tank formations more firepower, sucess still depended on being able to hit the Tiger before it hit you - the Hellcat's armour was even weaker than that of the Sherman. The Hellcats would only be useful where a tactical advantage could be guaranteed...
     
  4. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    From wiki:

    The M18 Hellcat was a key element during World War II in the Battle of the Bulge.[3] On December 19 and 20, the 1st Battalion of the 506th PIR, was ordered to support Team Desobry, a battalion-sized tank-infantry task force of the 10th Armored Division assigned to defend Noville[3] located north-northeast of both Foy and of Bastogne just 4.36 miles (7 km) away. With just four[1] M18 tank destroyers of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion to assist, the paratroopers attacked units of the 2nd Panzer Division, whose mission was to proceed by secondary roads via Monaville (just northwest of Bastogne) to seize a key highway and capture, among other objectives, fuel dumps—for the lack of which the overall German counter-offensive faltered and failed. Worried about the threat to its left flank in Bastogne, it organized a major joint arms attack to seize Noville. Team Desobry's high speed highway journey to reaching the blocking position is one of the few documented cases[1] wherein the legendary top speed of the M18 Hellcat (55 miles per hour (89 km/h), faster than today's M1A2 Abrams) was actually used to get ahead of an enemy force as envisioned by its specifications.[1]

    The attack of 1st Battalion and the M18 Hellcat tank destroyers of the 705th TD Battalion near Noville together destroyed at least 30 German tanks and inflicted 500 to 1000 casualties on the attacking forces in what amounted to a spoiling attack. A Military Channel expert historian credited the M18 destroyers with 24 kills, including several Tiger tanks, and believes that, in part, their ability to "shoot and scoot" at high speed and then reappear elsewhere on the battlefield and therefore appear to be another vehicle entirely played a large part in confusing and slowing the German attack, which subsequently stalled, leaving the Americans in possession of the town overnight.[1]
     
  5. Doughboy

    Doughboy Member

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    Great post.:thumbleft:
     
  6. Stitch

    Stitch Banned

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    I believe the Tiger was superior to just about any tank on the battlefield until the M26 and JS series of tanks started showing up in late 1944/early 1945; so, for almost two years, there was nothing to compare to the Tiger in terms of armor or firepower. The Tigers biggest weakness was it's expense; pretty much the whole tank was hand-assembled, using extremely close tolerances and a lot of precision machining, which cost a lot in terms of time and materials. Other than that, it was an extremely formidable tank, right up to the end of the War.

    I beg to differ; the Israelis manged to stuff a 105mm French gun into their Shermans in the early '60's (the so-called "Isherman", or M51), and used them in the Six Day War in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, where they gave a good account of themselves against Egyptian, Jordanian, and Syrian T-55's T-62's.
     
  7. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    Overall the Tiger was an excellent tank. In terms of firepower, armor, and fear factor, it's extremely high. The downsides I would give it would be the low production rate, high cost, and the constant maintenance it required.
     
  8. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    I've read that to knock out a Tiger generally required five tanks...three to act as cannon fodder (poor guys), and two to zip around to the sides and back where their guns could pierce the Tiger's armor. Also, another weak point was the fuel supplies. The Tiger was a gas hog. Am I correct in remembering that the Tiger usually towed its spare fuel on a cart behind the tank? Talk about easy targeting!

    Team Desobry's Hellcats had the distinct advantage of being able to choose the time and place of their engagements, being able to shoot from prepared (albeit hastily) positions with pre-sighted routes to fall back and displace. In a high-noon showdown on a deserted street, I doubt the Hellcat would be able to stand for long against a Tiger. This is not intended as a detraction from the valiant efforts put up by Team Desobry, far from it...faced with the oncoming juggernaut, I would probably choose to employ more guerilla-style warfare than traditional stand-up-and-slug-it-out methods.

    Against the Tiger, the Sherman's best offensive (and defensive, too, at the same time) capability would be its speed and maneuverability. Zip around that bad boy, hope to survive to the sides or back, and pound the living hell out of his weak spots and hope like heck he didn't spin his gun around to find you.
     
  9. Coors9

    Coors9 Member

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    I'd take a Panther just because there's not a sharper lookin' tank...:D
     
  10. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Rabid, you might be thinking of the Chrichill Crocodile towing the fuel for it's flamethrower behind it?

    Stitch, good point about the M51, I had clean forgeotten about it when typing my post. My question then becomes, if you can get a 105 in a Sherman, why not a 90mm? In any case, the gun alone would be no use as an upgrade, because the platform would not survive long enough to get into action. The Sherman would need more armour to survive around Tigers and Panthers and the added weight would require a largewr engine - in other words, you would need to build a Pershing to carry a 90mm gun. On reflection, I suppose thats the 'real' reason the Allies never put anything bigger than a 17pdr in a Sherman.

    Doughboy, cheers - even if I have just blown myself out of the water :lol:
     
  11. Stitch

    Stitch Banned

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    You're more or less correct about the "5-Shermans-to-one-Tiger"; I'm having trouble locating my source now, but I remember reading that the Allied tactics were to send five Shermans up against one Tiger and, if they were lucky, one Sherman would live to fight another day (or another Tiger!). The Allies didn't really have anything that could go 1-v-1 with a Tiger until the advent of the M26 and the JSII.

    I don't remember hearing about a "fuel trailer" for the Tiger, but I do know that Tigers would often strap extra 55-gallon (200 litre) petrol drums to their deck whenever they had the chance, especially if they weren't expecting any action in the near future. You can often see photos of Tigers, especially on the Eastern Front with it's greater distances and comparatively few rail lines, with 2 or 3 extra fuel drums on the rear deck.

    From Alan Hamby's excellent site on the Tiger I:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    I have heard the ratio of 4 to 5 Shermans to take out 1 Tiger before, feel sorry for the Sherman crews. The Tiger was a great tank, but as has been said, it was hard to manufacture which hurt Germany as they could not produce enough of the Tigers and all their other tanks to replace their losses. It was way too technical for a country with Germany's resources to be able to supply the numbers of tanks that were needed. But I do not think Hitler foresaw a need to produce huge numbers of Tigers(am i right about this?). The weight of the Tiger was also a problem, many of the roads were not designed to handle the Tigers weight. Also, the Tiger was a open country tank, and was not really suited to urban combat, except for cities with wide streets.
     
  13. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    Reading of the fuel tanks reminds me of the movie "Battle of the Bulge". The ending looked pretty unusual, rolling barrels of oil at the tiger tanks and then igniting them so they flamed up and burned them all.

    Did an incident like that really happen at the Bulge, or was it just a quick Hollywood movie ending?
     
  14. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    #14 Soren, May 22, 2009
    Last edited: May 22, 2009
    Never heard about it Welch, I think it's just some hollywood addition.

    However, if one of those drums would've ingnited then that tank WILL be out of action and the crew will be getting out of there quick or risk getting burned to death. Fire is one of the worst enemies of a tank.

    Back in the day I remember how easy it actually was to take out a tank with incendiary bombs such as molotov cocktails. Throw one near the ventilation system the engine will suck in smoke and heated air, and soon the crew will have to open a hatch to survive. That is when you strike.
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    A Tiger cost 4 times that of a Sherman, and that single fact was its undoing. But it wa also slow and short ranged (relatively)..

    Having said that, the tiger was still the most battle capable tank of the war....but taking into account cost, I would dsay that the Panther was a better production choice. A panther just a little over half as much as a Tiger (RM180K vs RM312K)cost less. A MkIV cost RM 112K. A Sherman with a 75mm gun cost around RM76K. I recently was sent some information suggesting that a T-34/76 cost a little under RM25K, whilst a T-34/85 cost approximately RM30K to build

    So disregarding the crew costs,, you could have a choice of the following:

    1 Tiger
    1.75 Panthers
    2.8 MkIVs
    4.1 Shermans
    12.5 T-34s, or
    10.4 T-34/85

    It has been suggested by some, but not coroborated that on average between 5 and 7 Shermans were lost to destroy every Tiger. However, this does not take into account the large number of Tigers abandoned for lack of fuels, or otherwise incapacitated and not recovered. When those factors are included, the los ratio drops to about 3:1.

    Viewed in those terms, the Allied tanks makes sense. If you can build 4 Shermans to every one Tiger, you are going to win, albeit at cost. This was why Speer was so dead set against the Tiger.....and constantly pointed to the Allied Tanks because of their ease of production.
     
  16. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    One of the nicknames for the Sherman was the "Purple Heart Box"...

    The downfall of the Tiger besides it's terrible mileage, was the fact that the interior was always filled with exhaust and fuel fumes. It was constantly breaking hydraulic lines and tempermental in general. Another drawback to the Tiger, was in order to transport it, the skirting and battle tracks had to be removed. That and the fact that the Tiger had to keep to firm surfaces because of it's weight, really limited it's flexability on the front lines.

    The Sherman's range and speed made it a good asset, even though it was much lighter than a good number of Axis tanks. But it's mobility and numbers made up for that shortcoming.

    And I think the King Tiger is far better looking than the Panther! :lol:
     
  17. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    I'm wanting to say I read the ratio in "Six Armies in Normandy" by John Keegan...the part where he's going over the battle around Caen. I could be wrong on that, though.

    As for the fuel drum vs trailer thing, I remember looking up some gun-camera footage online (Google Video Search), and pulled up a documentary segment where they were interviewing a P-47 pilot, talking about the best way to kill a tank. He was going on about the Tigers, and how the bullets would just bounce off the armor, so they would either aim at the barrels or the trailers (camera footage showed a tank towing a small trailer with two or three barrels on it), or if they weren't carrying their fuel, they learned to aim at the road just in front of the tank so the bullets would bounce off the road into the relatively lighter armor of the underbelly. That's actually the only place I've seen the trailer thing, but seeing it on gun-cam footage is hard to argue with.
     
  18. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    British crews also referred to it as the Ronson, a reference to the lighter company's ad slogan 'Lights first time, every time'.

    I believe the Germans also referred to the type as the Tommy Cooker, although I'm not too sure on that...
     
  19. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    I read that info too RA about pilots aiming at the road in front of or behind the tank to ricochet the rounds off of the road and hit the underbelly.
     
  20. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    I find it interesting that the US philosophy behind building tanks has completely changed since WW2 and we are now following the German idea of building superior tanks in smaller numbers. In WW2 with the Sherman, basically building a tank that is not the strongest in anyone one category except for the numbers able to be produced, and has now been completely reversed by the building of M1A1 Abrams, which even in the Gulf War, was out numbered by the Iraqi tanks, but was far superior and thus wiped them out.
     
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