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 Post subject: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-03-11 12:06pm
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Is there any text and/or just general gist that explains why the Russian army continued to suffer such heavy tank losses in those two years? By 1944-1945, the Russian army had managed to build up their C3 and logistics ability, grasped operational deception that the term maskivoraka entered the common lexicon. They still had much larger armies than their German counterparts, yet, the Russians had to replace 1/4 of their tank pool every few months.

Why were there still high rates of breakdown for the T-34? Why were the Germans killing large numbers of T-34 and other tanks? Why wasn't the heavy tanks like the JS able to impart a huge tactical advantage to the Russians? One would had thought with such heavy equipment and numerous number of tanks/AT, the Germans would not have been abe to survive the pocket battles.Yet, the Germans constnatly managed to survive and withdraw men trapped behind enemy lines.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-03-11 01:03pm
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Short Answer: The Soviets had lots of tanks to throw around and threw them around attacking into well prepared defenses resulted in large number of tank losses.

Long Answer: The Germans were on the defensive, had the best handheld AT in the form of the Panzerfaust and gave them to everyone they could meaning every infantry squad could knock out a T-34, not permanently but that's still a tank loss even after it's repaired. As well once it is repaired having a bunch of bits of it knocked around makes it more likely to break down. As well long continuous fighting leaves no real room for repair breaks until something does break generating additional paper if not battlefield losses. And lastly, despite crew training the expanding size of the army meant that there were still two green crews for every one veteran crew in some units.




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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-03-11 03:05pm
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Also, the Russians never had the complex repair arm other armies had iirc.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-03-11 10:05pm
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The Russians were plenty able to repair lots of stuff in WW2, just not in forward units or very quickly. Remember meanwhile German production of the Pak 40 anti tank gun for towed use alone was over 20,000 weapons and that's just the most common of German anti tank guns. The vast majority of armored vehicles on all sides of the war were light or medium vehicles which could be destroyed or knocked by weapons of this class, besides mines and other stuff that threatened all possible armor designs. The US Third Armored Division took 580% losses of Sherman tanks in combat in North West Europe, of which about half could be repaired. The Germans lost over a third of the armor they had at Kursk in under two months.

German forces didn't survive the large scale battles of 1944-45 on the eastern front, they took horrendous losses and lost as many a six armies at a time, but the shear scale of the conflict and logistical limitations meant the Russians could not attack with mobile forces on all sectors simultaneously. So the majority of German forces not subject to massed armored attack could always keep withdrawing by walking horse, and the majority of Russian forces could only pursue at the walking pace of a horse. Rivers and expert German demolitions also provided breathing space, at least when the rivers weren’t so deeply frozen that tanks could cross without bridges.

The IS-2 was only a small minority of Russian tank production, and it lacked the engine power, fuel and ammunition load to strike deeply into the German rear. It was a breakthrough tank by design and use. It also was heavily consumed in countering heavy German Panthers and Tigers. Tanks are really good at mutually destroying each other in battle; this is why its much more favorable to use mines, artillery and anti tank guns, against enemy tanks and save your own tanks for softer targets. The Germans were very good at doing this and inflicted heavy armor losses on everyone they ever fought, and would have even had they not also had an advantage in anti tank gun designs and generally heavier and or better armed late war tanks and tank destroyers.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-03-12 06:26am
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Same for German tanks. I lately had the privilege to listen to a veteran about his time in the Panzer IV (He served from 1939 until the Ardennes). He was the driver, and his tank was knocked out 4 times, and every time they were able to put it back into battle within a few days.
(Fun fact: German drivers removed the nuts from the bolts securing their hatch-hinges and always had a hammer with them. If they didn't, they'd be trapped in the tank if it was knocked out while the turret was in the 10-20 degree left position.)



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-03-12 10:06am
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LaCroix wrote:
(Fun fact: German drivers removed the nuts from the bolts securing their hatch-hinges and always had a hammer with them. If they didn't, they'd be trapped in the tank if it was knocked out while the turret was in the 10-20 degree left position.)


A fair number of tanks had this sort of issue. First I have heard the bolt thing though. I read one account where a Tiger's electrical firing system went out. To fire the cannon, one of the crew members manually connected the battery with wrenches when the gunner said "fire."

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-03-12 08:34pm
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Been doing some additional quick and dirty back of the envelope research and calculations on tanks destroyed vs German armored vehicle weapons to back up what I've been thinking and remember, and I am figuring that even all allied armor kills ever are counted as destroyed by German armored vehicles the average German AFV still only destroyed three allied vehicles. This average actually seems to have been somewhat true for periods on the eastern front, but once all the other German anti tank guns, mines, air ect.. are factored in the rate is more realistically a war average of 1.5-2 allied tanks destroyed per major German anti tank weapon system. The average German AFV on the eastern front in 1943 destroyed about one Soviet tank in six months, and this seems to be the best year they had other then the initial months of the invasion when most Soviet tanks were captured rather then destroyed anyway. Goes to show how inactive troops actually could be in the largest land war ever.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-03-13 03:37am
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Rekkon wrote:
LaCroix wrote:
(Fun fact: German drivers removed the nuts from the bolts securing their hatch-hinges and always had a hammer with them. If they didn't, they'd be trapped in the tank if it was knocked out while the turret was in the 10-20 degree left position.)


A fair number of tanks had this sort of issue. First I have heard the bolt thing though. I read one account where a Tiger's electrical firing system went out. To fire the cannon, one of the crew members manually connected the battery with wrenches when the gunner said "fire."


IIRC the driver in a t-34 would regularly have to use a wrench to change gears.

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-02 06:19am
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A necro here.....

Was Russian crew training horrendous then? The official kill rates by tank destroyers like the Stug III, measured in the tens of thousands in 1944 is extremely high, especially when the Russians had converted the bulk of their armies to the T-34.

I'm not sure how to put this last question..... but was the T-34 somehow less survivable as a tank on the Eastern front? Was there some design flaw that contributed to the huge tank losses that German tactics could exploit?


I'm just a bit confused because the T-34 keeps receiving popular accolade as the "best" tank of WW2.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-02 12:46pm
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I think the Russian deficit was mainly in overall tactical inferiority, rather than individual tank training.

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-02 01:04pm
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PainRack wrote:

I'm not sure how to put this last question..... but was the T-34 somehow less survivable as a tank on the Eastern front? Was there some design flaw that contributed to the huge tank losses that German tactics could exploit?


I'm just a bit confused because the T-34 keeps receiving popular accolade as the "best" tank of WW2.

Pound for pound the T-34 was the best medium of the war based on all the factors you want a medium to be. More survivable than a Sherman and better armed to boot. Faster than a PIV and Sherman both, more agile with a trained driver than some light tanks. The difference was the Germans armed every single tank after 1942 with guns to fight heavies from their own heavies on down. Consider in 1940 when a "heavy" German tank had half as much frontal armor with a 50mm gun with half the penetration of a T-34 and slower to boot. The issue was the Germans running into first Matillda's then later Shermans, KV1 and Valantines and deciding even our scout tanks need to be able to take on medium tanks and our medium tanks get a gun good enough to engage heavies at range. By the end of the war the T-34 keep on with a better gun, new turret and radio but no armor changes, meanwhile the IV-H had gone from 30mm of frontal armor to 100mm, from 40 mm penetration at 1000 yards to 120 mm penetration at 1000.

A T-34 from the start of the war could engage any single tank made and knock it out. If not kill the crew then at least combat kill it from some angle. Before we got rid of the concept of medium tanks it was one of the best all around examples.

Also and this is key the Russians spent lots of time on the offensive and while a agile quick tank is great for pursuit options it's not a breakthrough tank. It was used as one, they used three times as many.

IE you face a line with twenty guns, five hundred infantry and you think maybe two or three tanks of their own. A German general might barrage it then send out four Tigers to make a hole for the infantry. A Soviet general might simply send twenty T-34s and double the length of the barrage.




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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-02 01:34pm
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I don't think anyone claims T34 was the unit-for-unit best tank of WWII, just that it had a good capabilities in all aspects, no horrendous flaws, and was still simple enough to be mass produced cheaply and maintained in the field.

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-02 02:06pm
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People call it the best all around tank of WW2 because it was cheap. Like when people call the Corolla or Civic the best all around sedan, it does not match a Mercedes in any way but for most it is the better car.

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-02 02:26pm
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I thought the Panzer IV H's frontal armor topped out at 80mm? Was there some sub-version up-armored further?

I believe this article on the T-34's combat performance has been linked to on the board before.

Basically while the T-34 was good in all the obvious tank qualities, it sucked in a lot of others. The 34/76 specifically had no radio, poor visibility and a commander that had to pull double duty as gunner. This made it unable effectively coordinate with other tanks and slow to find and engage targets, which is a big deal since who sees/shoots who first was very important in WWII tank combat. Also keep in mind that Russian optics were not as good, and their cannon performance tended to be inferior to comparable calibers of other nations, though to what actual degree is somewhat debatable given differences in how countries measured penetration.

The T-34-85 fixed some of these issues, but by the time it came along the German army had large numbers of very effective cannons and were stratetically on the defensive. Even near the end of the war, when all factors should have been in the Russian's favor, the T-34-85 never managed to break even on its kill/loss ratio. It did not prove superior to the Sherman in the Korean War either. Whatever its strategic advantages, actual combat showed that the T-34 was not superlative tactically.

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-02 02:41pm
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I agree that the Sherman is underrated by most; however, given the Korean terrain I don't know if that war is the best for determining how the Sherman and T-34 match up.

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-02 03:46pm
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Rekkon wrote:
I thought the Panzer IV H's frontal armor topped out at 80mm? Was there some sub-version up-armored further?

Not out of the factory no. Part of the issue is you have to count standardizations into theater specific renovations. The Panzer IV-G and beyond should have 50mm of turret armor, 40mm armor around the vision slits with 80mm sections on the front. The IV-H and beyond should by German armor standards be uniform 80mm except the 30mm add on patches were found to turret turret rotation by over two thirds because of the extra weight so they were left off or removed shortly after they were created. However it was the standard in Italy apparently in an idea the Americans had as well that machine shops wielded on all sorts of hooks and racks onto the front of Panzer IV's to be able to hold sections of track, running wheels, extra sandbags, logs or anything else because Italian fighting was mountain fighting when side armor matters little compared to front and top armor and that sort of up armoring would not fly in Russia while it did in Italy and later the bocage areas of France.




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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-03 12:23am
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spaceviking wrote:
I agree that the Sherman is underrated by most; however, given the Korean terrain I don't know if that war is the best for determining how the Sherman and T-34 match up.


Its not. The terrain was awful, all engagements were very small scale, I don't think they ever even fought in company scale battles and by the time any tank on tank encounters took place the US had utter air superiority over the battlefield. Super Bazookas knocked out more T-34s then Sherman's did, in some cases in the same battles, but most fell to air attacks with napalm and rockets or were simply abandon when lack of supplies or blown bridges immobilized them. A lot more Sherman on T-34 action took place in the Arab Israeli wars. I don't know if North Korean tank crews in 1950 were better then Arab tank crews, but Arab tank crews pretty consistently sucked before 1973.

Best feature of the T-34 was it could be worked by a crew with under a week of training. The near all around immunity to 37mm gunfire is what made it famous though, and in that 1941 period it was the only medium tank around you could say that about.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-07 08:49pm
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Then of course their was extra craziness like the Char, Matilda, and KV-1 which were pretty much impervious to 50mm guns too. Those encounters were really rare though. I recall the KV-1 was frequently abandoned and destroyed by its crew or just avoided by advancing Germans because it was such a sloth. The KV-1 was pretty forward thinking as far as pre war heavy tanks went at the time though. The Char was pretty shit, a post World War 1 Frankenstein with a bizarre layout. The Matilda was born of a flawed doctrine and was frequently SOL even when encountering really light AT guns because the British didn't manufacture HE rounds for the 2pdr. (Which may not have been completely unjustified, as I heard somewhere that the 40mm round of the 2pdr wouldn't produce a lot of fragmentation anyway. Supposedly less than a hand grenade. Don't quote me on that though.) I think Skimmer told me Matildas frequently had to just run over AT guns they encountered.

At least the frontal area in France was small enough for the Germans to deal with the Mattie and Char by rolling up the nearest AA or Artillery battalion. In Russia where the frontal area was *massive* and dirt tracks much less paved roads are few and far between, defensive vehicles like the KV-1 could get away with a lot more.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-08 01:30am
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CaptHawkeye wrote:
Then of course their was extra craziness like the Char, Matilda, and KV-1 which were pretty much impervious to 50mm guns too.


The 50mm gun really didn't have much higher penetration then the 37mm in the first place, though it suffered considerably less loss of its merger performance with range. Needed tungsten shells to be a serious defense against the T-34. But the problem with the Char B1, Matilda and KV-1 was that all of them were very slow, and just as importantly had very short cruising radiuses on one tank of fuel. This made it very hard to actually get the vehicle into action, much of its fuel would be consumed on the approach march and assembling the attack. The Tiger 1 had the same problem. The T-34 had speed and driving range which were good by any standard, and it was that balance that counted. The Matilda though did do very well climbing hills, which you cannot say about most heavy tanks of its time.

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The KV-1 was pretty forward thinking as far as pre war heavy tanks went at the time though. The Char was pretty shit, a post World War 1 Frankenstein with a bizarre layout.


The layout was bizarre, but it was intended to have a major role breaching fortifications. Its also essentially a 1934 design updated through 1937, and by 1940 had several replacement projects running. It did have a lot of ammunition which was a big plus for its intended assault role. If you think about it zig zagging across the battlefield, shelling different bunkers in turn, while the 47mm turret fights off enemy counter attacks it makes a certain amount of sense.

The KV-1 is 15 metric tons heavier than any of those western European tanks, so you’d hope it would be a lot better. In fact it was too heavy for its engine, and later versions had less armor to weigh less and have more mobility. Basic KV-1 was 47 metric tons, against 26 for a Matilda and 32 for a Char B1bis. KV-1S went down to 42.5 tons. Interestingly this is also about how much an early T-72 weighed thirty one years later.

Quote:

The Matilda was born of a flawed doctrine and was frequently SOL even when encountering really light AT guns because the British didn't manufacture HE rounds for the 2pdr. (Which may not have been completely unjustified, as I heard somewhere that the 40mm round of the 2pdr wouldn't produce a lot of fragmentation anyway. Supposedly less than a hand grenade. Don't quote me on that though.) I think Skimmer told me Matildas frequently had to just run over AT guns they encountered.


Everyone using 37mm guns produced HE for them, and wanted it. The shells aren’t that effective one for one, but you could carry a vast number of them and fire as rapidly as the loader can move. You didn’t expect shot kills kill with these small guns against anything. They would indeed crush anti tank guns when they could, but all tanks were known to do this, it’s a good way to ruin them. I don’t know that I ever said anything about it before though; it’s not an uncommon topic in armor warfare that they make stuff go squish.

One problem with Matilda is it just doesn’t have that much ammunition, despite being designed for infantry support, though it’s not a small amount either. 93 rounds of 2pdr, and 2,800 machine gun rounds. A Char B1bis had 74 rounds 75mm, 50 rouns 47mm and 9,600 machine gun rounds. KV-1 had 90 rounds of 76.2mm and 3,024 machine guns rounds. The KV-1S restowed the tank and packed in 114 shells and the same amount of MG ammo. Ammo and fuel count for a lot when your vehicle is slow, withdrawing from combat to rearm can take considerable time, and it takes twenty shells on a good day to score a tank kill even for famously effective stuff like the 88mm flak guns.

Quote:

At least the frontal area in France was small enough for the Germans to deal with the Mattie and Char by rolling up the nearest AA or Artillery battalion. In Russia where the frontal area was *massive* and dirt tracks much less paved roads are few and far between, defensive vehicles like the KV-1 could get away with a lot more.


Yes, the Germans had no depth in the east. It was common for the frontline to consist only of a single line of infantry positions, with only fortified artillery batteries and command posts behind it. So it was pretty easy for a T-34 attack to break past a few 37mm guns and then run amok. The Russians also became very good at infiltrating infantry between the lines, often in very large units and then just collapsing the Germans defenses. The Germans saving grace was they just had much better command and control and training at the operational level, and could use what Panzer and mobile anti tank guns were available to isolate the Russian tank hoards and defeat them in detail.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-08 07:03am
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Sea Skimmer wrote:
The 50mm gun really didn't have much higher penetration then the 37mm in the first place, though it suffered considerably less loss of its merger performance with range. Needed tungsten shells to be a serious defense against the T-34. But the problem with the Char B1, Matilda and KV-1 was that all of them were very slow, and just as importantly had very short cruising radiuses on one tank of fuel. This made it very hard to actually get the vehicle into action, much of its fuel would be consumed on the approach march and assembling the attack. The Tiger 1 had the same problem. The T-34 had speed and driving range which were good by any standard, and it was that balance that counted. The Matilda though did do very well climbing hills, which you cannot say about most heavy tanks of its time.
Matilda wasn't really heavy compared to something like a KV, not at 25 tons. The Matilda got its extremely heavy armor by being small, physically, compared to a normal tank of comparable weight- diminutive turret, relatively low-slung body, and so on. That probably translated into a lack of space and weight for powerful engines, of course, but it wasn't a giant plodding fifty-ton behemoth, which probably helped off road performance.

And from what I've heard, the main limit on its speed was the track design (and possibly gearing?), not so much the horsepower. That makes for a good hill-climber: picture a vehicle that's permanently in "first gear."

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-08 06:31pm
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Matilda II was heavier than that, 26.9 metric tons which is about 29.6 short tons. Much lighter then a KV-1 certainly, but not that different from the Char B1 or other vehicles that had been considered heavy in the late 1930s.

The KV-1 had about 12.7hp per metric ton, the KV-1S about 14, Tiger 1 12.3, Char B1bis 9.4, and Matilda II about 7. It was slow from lack of power. Being geared low didn’t help but no point in gearing an underpowered tank high. Also it actually had two engines until the Matilda III was able to shift to a single one which does nothing good for performance or fuel economy. British tank design in WW2 was plagued by a lack of suitable engines. In general tanks needed at least 20hp per short ton/22 per metric ton to have particularly satisfactory performance. Today designers aim for 25 or better.

Now for a real fun comparison, Maus had 6.3hp per metric ton meaning it has 90% of the power to weight ratio of Matilda. Maybe Maus wasn't so crazy immobile after all!? It did reach 13kph on trials off road with a simulated turret weight, and Matilda was rated for only 14kph cross country.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 01:12pm
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I think the bigger issue with the Maus was that it would have been too heavy for most bridges and if it bogged down, nothing was getting it out. The designers planned on having it ford most rivers anyway. It was basically designed to be a mobile pillbox. On top of that it would have made a big, obvious target for aircraft and artillery and if it got overrun, the Allies could just bypass it and isolate it until the crew surrendered. Gee the task of making the Maus look like a poor design is so herculean.

I wonder what the Ratte's power-to-weight ratio would have been. The closest analog to the Ratte would be the Karl Gerat mortars but even they were only 124 tons to the Ratte's 1000 tons.

I still it's crazy the Maus had a coaxial 75mm gun. That was considered secondary armament.



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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 02:53pm
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[is schooled about the Matilda]

Sorry, I misunderstood my sources.


Also... Mauses. Given the scale of the tank, and the limited ammunition for the 12.8cm gun, having a secondary 75mm weapon was probably the smartest thing they could do.

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 03:00pm
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I doubt Skimmer is defending the Maus design as such. The Maus can generate enough power to weight ratio to have the means of crossing terrain if the ground pressure can be managed somehow. In a way it's an impressive feat of engineering considering the transmission systems and sheer weight of the vehicle. At least on paper, we'll never know how the fully fitted vehicle would have turned out. Which is a shame in a purely tank engineering sense.

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 Post subject: Re: Russian tank losses in 1944-1945 PostPosted: 2012-04-09 03:41pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
[is schooled about the Matilda]

Sorry, I misunderstood my sources.


Also... Mauses.


Mäuse. And Ratten.



Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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