This post is the final one from Q&A session with H. L. Doyle, well-known German WWII military exert. See previous issues
Doyle's replies are bolded (just in case).
51. I’d like to add something to the penetration questions.
I) partial deflection of sloped armour which meant that shells did not follow the initial trajectory even if they penetrated.
see in c) the 'effective thickness' vs. 'line of sight thickness' and in d) 'inertia' vs. 'resistance force'
II) linearity of the 'penetration quality' -> % of fragments behind the plate (the 50 vs. 75% thing) and to what extent this allows you to make assumptions about a certain shell in a different nation's test
As I explained before I have not researched this field of penetration to any great extent. There is a lot of material in various archives but I did not collect copies. I am sorry.
52. I would like to hear what were the merits and drawbacks of the VK3002DB design compared to the MAN version and why it was not chosen in the end.
In our book “Germany's Panther tank” - the quest for combat supremacy, we reproduced many pages of the history of the development of the VK 30 series and the intense competition between M.A.N and Daimler-Benz.
I will quote the record of a meeting of the Board of Daimler-Benz on 3 June 1942 which describes the final outcome of the competition.
Our proposal for the new tank was not accepted by the special Commission established by Hitler. Instead they selected the M.A.N design for a large-scale production after the initial proposal from M.A.N apparently was improved. During a meeting M.A.N had the opportunity to learn all the advantages of our proposal which they then took into consideration in their own design.
At first the majority of the experts were impressed by our proposal. Even Hitler had expressed his approval. But then the Commission consisting of Thomale and Eberan decided against us for the following reasons:
1. the double torsion bar suspension from Porsche was chosen over our leaf springs
2. the MB 507 motor proposed by us cannot be produced in the numbers required
3. Our design requires a new turret. The turret for the M.A.N design was already designed. The M.A.N vehicle had front drive our vehicle had rear drive. Because of the rear drive our vehicle required a new turret design. It was admitted at the rear drive possessed advantages.
We are completing only two experimental vehicles that positively will make a good impression. The two experimental vehicles are to be completed in June /July of 1943. The entire tank should be completed since we can finally obtain the turret ourselves. We still have the contract to build these two prototypes and therefore we will also want to demonstrate these as completed tanks.
A Rheinmetall turret mounting the 7.5cm K.w.K 42 L/70 had been designed as an alternative for the Tiger starting in mid 1941. This turret was the basis of the turret on the M.A.N Panther.
53. How much information is there yet to be discovered in old German wartime archives? Has everything pretty much been looked thoroughly, or is new or under-examined material still surfacing?
Probably less that 10% of the documentation generated during Panzer development from 1928 to 1945 has survived. A most was destroyed at the end of the war and sadly quite a lot since then. During the seventies and eighties we visited many companies and fortunately we were given access to archive materials but now the material we saw has “vanished” In other cases when we arrived at companies we got the response “it is a pity you did not visit last year before the man in charge of our old archives retired and as we have no need to keep old paper they have been destroyed”
At the Bundesarchiv the 80/20 rule applies to research – probably 80% of the information has been found as it is the part relatively easy to search. Definitely there is additional information to be located but it will take a long time to find the materials as they are not filled in the expected locations or have yet to be catalogued. There is even a small chance to find new facts by accident when researching other matters.
The greatest success for Panzer Tracts has come from researching all of different archives in many countries and developing an understanding of what files are worth investigating. Private and specialist collectors also add finds from time to time.
New finds are very important as sometimes they throw light on and explain other data from old research that may not make sense.
54. How long did it take for the Germans to build their tanks in WWII? Again, according to Osprey's _Panther vs. T-34_ the panther took eighteen times more man-hours to build than a T-34-76. Do you have any idea where these figures came from, and whether they are accurate? If German tanks did take longer to build than allied tanks, was it because their designs were complicated or because German industrial techniques were inefficient?
I have not seen any “original” document with such a direct and wild comparison as claimed by the author of this Osprey book. Clearly, the Panther was a complex machine with a very high level of detailed finish as could be expected from a product of German Industry. I have often wondered about the need to bevel every armour plate and machine so many surfaces, but I doubt the time 18 difference. The Germans did not put their industry on to a full war footing until 1943. The highest production of all types of Panzers was achieved in November 1944. Component production was highly dispersed but delivery depended upon reliable rail transport. Increasing shortages of raw materials, manpower, and especially energy caused by bombing caused many problems.
Below us a drawings I made showing the M.N.H. factory in Hannover that was assembling Panther and Jagdpanther. Certainly they were not using “Henry Ford” mass production methods where each worker did the one job all the time. Groups of workers were responsible completing the entire task associated with each stage.
55. Are there any data on German tests of captured Allied weapons?
The German test establishment at Kummersdorf tested many Allied Tanks but as Allied Tanks are not my field of research I have never ordered copies of these documents.
The above photo which was sold on eBay shows a parade of the Kummersdorf detachment with some of their Allied test vehicles in the back ground. The Kummersdorf reports were like those produced by the British and Russians and gave a commentary on the performance and capability.
As can be seen on this photo of an IS152 the armour thickness and angle was painted on all test vehicles by Kummersdorf.
The German usually tested their guns against their own vehicles. Periodically hulls were provided by the armour manufacturers to be used as targets. Here is a photo Porsche Tiger hull manufactured by Krupp that was set aside and used as a gunnery test on 30 April 1942.
Additional fact pertaining to Questions 33 and 48 on turret traverse speeds
I located my copy of a British technical examination dated 9 May 1945 on Panther turret traverse speeds. The performance is quite spectacular when compared to the Tiger Ausf.E. and combined with the accurate 7.5cm K.w.K 42 L/70 made the Panther a tank to be feared if the crew was experienced and motivated and the unit well led.
Like the Tiger the Panther had a two speed hydraulic power traverse. The gunner could selected the desired speed with a gear lever and then using a pivoting foot pedal he could push on the forward end to traverse right and push on the back to traverse left.
The speed depended upon the main engine speed so at 2500 rpm and in the high gear a full 360 degree traverse would take only 17 or 18 seconds depending on the direction of traverse. At 1000 rpm the same 360 degrees took 46 seconds.
When the lower rear was selected and the Maybach HL 230 was running at 1000 rpm 360 degrees took 92 or 93 seconds depending on direction.
I found a similar report on the KV I. A three speed electrical power traverse was provided. At the highest speed the turret took 71 seconds to traverse 360 degrees at the lowest speed it could take 122 seconds for 360 degrees.
The test on the T 34/76 using a similar electrical power traverse to the KVI in high gear could achieve 360 degrees in 14 seconds.And extra a few tit-bits
The Germans captured and translated Russian document on Tank Tactics published in August 1944
...tank-versus-tank battles are unavoidable but whenever possible German tanks are to be destroyed by the air force, artillery and antitank weapons so that our (Russian) tanks remain free to attack the infantry...
From a German Report of the same period
.... Russian troops are commended for striving to prevent IS tanks from falling into tour hands and it would be desirable that our Tiger crews would observe the same principles.
PS: Next time we are going to continue with Soviet tanks expert - Yuri Pasholok