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Thread: Fall of France

  1. #151

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toby View Post
    I always thought the the Tiger 2 was more of Panther than a Tiger, probably due to shape
    Clearly borrowed from the Mk V design. 88mm L71 probably had superior penetration. Certainly the mass would be greater and the mv very close or better.

    Shaped charge ammunition designed for the L24 75mm gun had excellent penetration but, IIRC, flight instability made difficult acquiring hits at extended ranges beyond 500m. Went through more ammo than acceptable. L43 and L46 barrels began showing up in 1942 on the F series Mk IV and PaK 40 (L46) towed AT gun and SP Marder AT vehicles.

    Kato's stuff very in-line with findings by Thomas Jentz.
    Last edited by S2; 03 Aug 17, at 22:30.
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  2. #152
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    Can somebody help me here. I don't know where I got this info and maybe I dreamt it.... but was the Panther because of suspension the first tank with the ability to fire accurately while moving?

  3. #153
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2 View Post
    Shaped charge ammunition designed for the L24 75mm gun had excellent penetration
    It was pretty much the same design regardless of gun and caliber. The difference in performance - other than from the caliber up/downscale - came from the spin stabilization; all of these guns were rifled, and performance of HEAT designs is inversely proportional to spin rate (more accurately: jet dispersion is proportional to the square of the spin rate).

    The L/24 had a twist that induced a low spin rate, which was beneficial to HEAT performance but detrimental to stabilization.

  4. #154

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    "...was the Panther because of suspension the first tank with the ability to fire accurately while moving?"

    Don't know much about this but I believe you're confusing tanks. My understanding was that the M4 Sherman had a gyro-stabilized gun that supposedly permitted such. Most allied tankers weren't convinced of its efficacy.
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  5. #155
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2 View Post
    "...was the Panther because of suspension the first tank with the ability to fire accurately while moving?"

    Don't know much about this but I believe you're confusing tanks. My understanding was that the M4 Sherman had a gyro-stabilized gun that supposedly permitted such. Most allied tankers weren't convinced of its efficacy.
    Its that long since I read up on this, I'm possibly thinking about the suspension which ironed out the bumps allowing the tank to fire more accurately while moving. You're right though to my knowledge also the Sherman tried out the first Gyro-stabilised gun. I think the British perfected that though with the Centurion.

  6. #156
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    Aside from the lack of stabilization* it was pretty much impossible to properly aim during driving with German tanks unless you wanted to move the turret by hand (and e.g. on a Tiger that meant rotating a hand wheel 175 turns for a 90-degree turret turn...).

    The powered traverse in German tanks was an electric engine directly coupled to the main engine, which meant the speed of traverse depended on the engine rotation speed and the driver had to preferably keep the engine at a certain rpm. The Sherman - and other US tanks - instead used a separate APU. In addition the coupled electric engine on the Panther and Tiger with their heavier turrets was not capable of traversing the turret if the tank had more than 20° cant to one side - which offroad isn't exactly uncommon.

    * France supposedly backfitted some sort of pneumatic vertical stabilizer to the Panthers they used postwar, although no idea whether the main function of that wasn't just to speed up gun elevation (which was manual-only before).

  7. #157
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    A summary of my research on the subject so far.

    The French were mostly defeated by a heavy surprise blow followed by inferior armoured doctrine and air support, poor
    command and control in launching timely counter offensives.

    Hitler Insists on a quick victory

    Hitler was not interested in the schlieffen plan due to his own experience of a long stalemate in ww1 . He wanted a quick and decisive victory in the west.
    The plan was slightly modified.

    By a stroke of a luck, the original invasion plans was lost to the allies by a plane crash.This forced a change.

    The German army chief Von brauchitsch rejected the Manstein plan as too risky. But under Hitler’s urging. they took a relook and eventually cleared it.

    Against a foe of equal strength, you need superior anticipation, huge surpise , superior strategy and execution. Manstein’s plan had a potential to knock them out quickly
    with a surprise and a huge encirclement.

    Also the core principle was to concentrate a maximum weight of force(with armour) at a single crucial point. Sedan was the place and Guderian’s column would deliver
    the sledgehammer.

    Manstein lured the allies into a mighty encirclement trap since they expected the schlieffen plan and would plan/move accordingly.

    Huge Dangers in the German plan

    There were huge dangers in the process.

    1.The main column was on a single twisted road through the ardennes. Enemy aircraft can anhilate the advance in a single blow.

    2. They have to cross the river meuse and establish on the other side.

    3. They have to advance very quickly to the channel to complete the

    surprise. The german drivers were given drugs for working around

    3 days no stop!

    Dyle Plan a bad matchup vs Manstein’s sickle cut

    In 1914, the Germans attacked France through the Schlieffen plan. The French had made Maginot fortifications which would force any German invasion up north through Belgium.

    The Ardennes forest was considered impassable for Armour though one of the French officer had “wargamed” it to be incorrect.

    The allies wanted the main contest on Belgian soil and invested in the Dyle Plan. Manstein used this to trap the best allied armies in Belgium.

    Belgium also prevented any acclimatization by being neutral and keeping allied armies out.(the Flemish part of Belgium dont like the french). Allies planned to intrude into Belgium once invasion breaks out and take up a line near river Dyle.

    This fixation on Belgium and dread at the thought of fighting a bloodbath like Verdun on French soil proved their undoing..

    Also France lacked the depth and manpower of USSR to mount counter attacks. The initial damage proved too expensive to recover.

    Execution with massed armour and air support


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    The Germans used the attacks of the two army groups in the north(Belgium n Holland) as a feint while army group A under Guderian will deliver the key thrust by going through the twisted roads in Ardennes into France at the center( between Sedan and Dinant).

    An attack of only 29 German divisions under army group B attracted 57 of the best allied divisions.

    The breakthrough at the allied centre caught them in panic and unprepared since the regions were lightly guarded or had second rate units due to the perceived impassability of the Ardennes

    Sedan would prove to be the springboard from where Germans can rush through unguarded and lightly defended regions in the depths of France. They can rush for Paris or Northwest to the channel to encircle the allied armies in Belgium and it confused Gamelin further as well.

    French mess up a golden chance to destroy sedan bridgeheads

    The french could still throw germans across the River Meuse as germans tried to establish bridgeheads on the west bank.

    French X corps had to take up a position at Bulson and then launch the counteroffensive at the Sedan bridgeheads that would have thrown the German campaign to disarray.

    When one battalion of germans crossed the river Meuse, there was a rumour that the germans were all over and had raced to Bulson.

    Two second rate divisions collapsed in disarray and communication problems delayed the fateful counter offensive. General laFontaine waited hours for a written approval. Germans were vulnerable on May13–14. Past May 14, the odds had gone against the french.

    The Germans won both at Bulson and Stonne by may 17.Now the sedan bridgeheads were safe.

    Fatal Movement of the strategic reserve to the wrong place

    When Churchill asked about a strategic reserve that can launch a counter attack, Gamelin’s response was it was sent elsewhere to Breda/Dyle theatre. This prompted the question, “what the hell the Maginot line was for”.

    It was a disastrous step .While at its original place, it would have posed a huge threat to the main flank of Guderian’s division.

    Biggest Encirclement in History

    Guderian and Rommel disobeyed orders to relentlessly advance North west to the channel and pin allies against the channel,encircling a pocket from North France to Netherlands..

    The defeat at Sedan sealed their fate and the allied armies were pinned to the channel by the quick north west advance. On May 20, Abbeville (where Somme flows into the sea) was reached.

    It was the greatest encirclement in history -pocket of 200 km to 140 km trapping 1.7 million allied armies( Belgian army + dutch army + BEF + Best of french) . BEF and some of the French escaped through Dunkirk

    Military Drawbacks

    The french had some armour in their favor as well. However the deployment of the armor, armored doctrine and air support didnt match the Germans who had trial runs right from the spanish civilwar and had refined their doctrine much further.

    Guderian, the architect of Germany’s armored divisions had studied armored warfare theorists and cooperated with the Russians before mid 1930s as well. The germans and Russians were most evolved in armored warfare theory by 1937. The French were behind despite superior armor.

    The French tanks were slower. Also the turret,speed,radio communication(only on a command tank), crews with multiple roles all were drawbacks in the french tanks.

    The German tanks were faster and overcame their inferior armour through speed and better tactics. Also the fearsome French char b1 bis tank ,which struck fear among germans, was found to have a weak spot and word spread.

    Counterattacks was hampered by changes in command or communications or delay in orders from the top. Guderian had distributed radio to all his tanks and allowed initiative at all levels. In contrast, only French command tank had radio and they had to get approval from HQ. LaFontaine’s delay being the most crucial.

    There were vital delays and outdated orders on the French side. Also in race to crucial locations like the bulson ridge, the german tanks won due to speed.

    but you can evolve and improve once you stop the German advance. But the success of the German plan broke them well beyond Hitler’s wildest dreams.

    Previously “sickle cut” was considered a triumph of intellect.

    But modern historians like Adam Tooze contend its a one shot , gamble and unrepeatable plan where too many things could have gone wrong .
    Last edited by YoungIndia; 16 Aug 17, at 12:51.

  8. #158
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    Quote Originally Posted by YoungIndia View Post

    But modern historians like Adam Tooze contend its a one shot , gamble and unrepeatable plan where too many things could have gone wrong .
    Well it was repeated. As they tried it again and were fortunately stopped in 44/45

  9. #159
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toby View Post
    Its that long since I read up on this, I'm possibly thinking about the suspension which ironed out the bumps allowing the tank to fire more accurately while moving. You're right though to my knowledge also the Sherman tried out the first Gyro-stabilised gun. I think the British perfected that though with the Centurion.
    Yup the cent , with its gyro isolator system , but having trained on them from 69 i personally never saw it fire on the move ? it was a gr8 system when driving across country tho as a good dvr could keep the gun in near perfect stabilization .


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    Quote Originally Posted by tankie View Post
    Yup the cent , with its gyro isolator system , but having trained on them from 69 i personally never saw it fire on the move ? it was a gr8 system when driving across country tho as a good dvr could keep the gun in near perfect stabilization .
    I would imagine that could be quite tricky for the crew....not something that would happen unless in a battlefield situation and needs must??

  11. #161
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toby View Post
    I would imagine that could be quite tricky for the crew....not something that would happen unless in a battlefield situation and needs must??
    Thats what we were training for tobes , but a gr8 system then , we used to have bets onn who would spill the cup of water on top of the breech block while driving over x country , broke the boredom , honed ya driving skills n emptied your wallet in beer bets .


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    Use of M4 tank gyros was considered difficult and required extensive training. Replacement crews were not able to operate those devices. Review from the troops about the gyro was mixed; supposedly 4th US AD vets swore by it. Accuracy at any range probably should not be expected regardless of crew proficiency; even with gyros, fire-on-the-move is mostly suppressive or at point blank targets.
    Last edited by Triple C; 29 Aug 17, at 03:12.
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  13. #163
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triple C View Post
    Use of M4 tank gyros was considered difficult and required extensive training. Replacement crews were not able to operate those devices. Review from the troops about the gyro was mixed; supposedly 4th US AD vets swore by it. Accuracy at any range probably should not be expected regardless of crew proficiency; even with gyros, fire-on-the-move is mostly suppressive or at point blank targets.
    I don't know about 4AD et al, but the 37th Tank Bn did. Abrams really believed in movement as a counter to the Big Cats and it worked.

  14. #164
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    France fell because they were divided and couldn't make their minds up as to which direction they were going in as a whole. Bit like the UK now! Meanwhile the hatchers hatch.....

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    The Allies adopted a strategic plan that ran counter to the tactical doctrine of the largest of the Allied armies. As has been noted, the French Army had equipped and trained for a defensive battle. But Plan D with the Breda Variant was a proposal to launch most of the Allied armies forward, from a standing start, to try to outrace the Germans into central Belgium. That was an aggressive, fast-moving plan, all the more risky, since I don't think there had been close coordination between the Allied command and the Belgians or Dutch.

    The French, in particular, have been criticized for timidity in 1940. But was Plan D with Breda a timid plan? The Allies pre-committed their strategic reserve on the left flank, in an effort to wrest initiative from the enemy and rapidly establish a major bridgehead across the big rivers. That was bold to rashness, and disastrous. Why train for positional warfare, and then deliberately choose to risk an encounter battle?

    As Montgomery later commented, the Allies would have been better off establishing a deep defensive zone along the French frontier, with all their artillery registered and camouflaged, their supply lines short, their units fighting on thoroughly reconnoitred ground, etc. etc.

    The German breakthrough in the Allied centre was not in itself fatal. What made it fatal was that there was no formed strategic reserve. Even Joffre in 1914, who embraced the notion of an all-out offensive, had kept one of his five armies in reserve.

    Instead, many of the Allies' best units embarked on the campaign by being strung headlong in road-march order. Any attempt to re-deploy for a rapidly changing situation just led to a chaos of tangled communications and logistics.

    I guess my point would be that this defeat was above all the product of a bad strategic plan, which led to a series of impossible tactical situations for the Allied armies, which perhaps no doctrine or equipment could have remedied.

    I have yet to find a detailed account, at least in English, of the Allied strategic planning process during the winter 1939-40. We have some stories about how the Germans arrived at their own plan. Manstein's appointment to a corps command (which led to him getting some facetime with the Fuehrer), and the crashed airplane, are both stories that have become part of the lore of WWII. But where is the story of how the Allies ended up with the Breda Variant? British sources are coy about the UK's role, although I imagine that owing to concerns about air and submarine bases, the UK leadership might have endorsed, if not urged, the idea of denying the Germans the use of the Belgian coast.

    For my part, I can't really fault the Maginot defenses in this debacle. The Germans paid those defenses a pretty high compliment: they made their main attack elsewhere. One might argue that the French could have spent the money on something better. But then again, if the French had lavished their resources in the early 1930's on aircraft and AFV, they might have just ended up encumbered with a lot of obsolescent weaponry (which did happen to both Italy and the USSR).

    On another note, France lacked the geographical depth to permit a rallying of national effort after the destruction of the first strategic echelon. The UK and USSR both had that depth: the former by virtue of a convenient nearby body of water, the latter by virtue of distances.

    Finally, I note that Hitler successfully pursued Schlieffen's grand strategic purpose, i.e. crush the French first, then be free to fight Russia.

    YoungIndia does well to point out the big risks in the German plan. One more risk was their air plan: they were running an unsustainable sortie rate. If the campaign had lasted a couple more weeks, the Germans may have been in danger of losing air superiority.


    This campaign became a pivotal event in modern world history. The entire character of the Second World War directly follows from the sudden rout of the Allied forces in France and Belgium. It is impossible to even contemplate the shape of the war, or of the postwar world, if the Germans should not have annihilated the Allied armies in the West in 1940. Is there ever a war with Italy, or with Japan? Would there ever have been a Holocaust, if Germany is slugging it out for a year or two on the Western Front? The mind boggles.
    Last edited by cape_royds; 03 Oct 17, at 04:26.

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