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M8 Slew King Tiger at St. Vith


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There's been repeated CM discussion over the years of a Stuart which slew a Tiger 1 via shooting it in the rear, but this was news to me and came from a CoC colleague. Not only is this a great moment in AFV warfare, but it left me wondering whether it's doable in CMFB. The video has lots of great imagery, including Cav at the Bulge and a KT at Saumur to give the proper perspective on relative size and sheer powerfulness. The comments are quite fascinating technically and historically.
 

Regards,

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler
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Probably this story helped boost morale. But how would it be possible for the M8 to kill the Tiger II ? Even from behind at extreme close range, it doesn't seem like the M8's gun would be able to penetrate.

Maybe it f it was on an incline so the 37mm shell went into the engine deck from the top?

Edited by Bulletpoint
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You could maybe park the M8 on a really tall building and then drop it on the Kingtiger.....That might do the trick.  ;)

BTW - Are you sure you are thinking of the right M8.....I suspect this one might be a more likely candidate:

M8GMC-Saumur.0004z89h67.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howitzer_Motor_Carriage_M8

This one had access to a 75mm HEAT round, so it would have a chance at damaging a Kingtiger.

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead
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The commentator mentions both the Greyhound and the HMC in his preamble. But from that point on when using the name "M8" he clearly means the Greyhound, and obviously knows the difference. Whether the video is accurate isn't for me to say.

But according to family legend, Kay said to Ike "Give me one tonight". Ike said to Monty "I'm too busy to sort out the Ardennes, you'll have to do it". Monty said to Jorrocks "I'll be buggered if I'm going to send good Anglican boys down there to help out those non-conformist colonials, who have you got to spare?" Jorrocks said to Paddy "Stop the Jerries on the Meause tonight." Paddy said to John Martins, "Give me five Bedford loads of yer'se strongest Guinness, I need to set it alight and roll it down a bone dry hill in the middle of the desert, so that dumb movie goers in ten years time will think that it is how we beat the Gerry in the middle of a Belgian winter". 

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Guys,

Watched it again, and the shooter unambiguously was a 37 mm armed M8 AC, not the M8 HMC. The latter was mentioned solely as part of the overall unit composition. Here's what the US Army Armor School, Fort Knox has to say of the fight. The footnote shows this account wasn't from within the unit but from the A  Company CO  of the nearby 38th Armored Infantry Battalion, who witnessed it and reported it .

https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a952910.pdf

 

THE BATTLE AT ST. VITH, BELGIUM

17-23 December 1944

A Study In Armor Defense

p. 12

While the northern and eastern flanks had been heavily engaged, the northeastern sector Troop A, 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron; Company A, 38th Armored Infantry Battalion; Troop B, 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron) had been rather quiet. The only excitement there had been when an M8 armored car fiom Troop B destroyed s Tiger tank. The armored car had been in a concealed position neat the boundary of Troop B, 87th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron and Company A, 38th Armored Infantry Battalion, when the Tiger approached the lines at right angles to move along a bail in front of the main line of resistance. As the tank passed the armored car, the latter slipped out of position snd started up the trail behind the Tiger, accelerating in an attempt to close. At the seme moment the German tank commander saw the M8, and started traversing his gun to bear on it. It was a tace between the Americans, who were attempting to close so that their 37-mm. gun would be effective on the Tiger's thin rear armor, and the Germans, who were desperately striving to bring their 88 to bear. Rapidly the M8 closed to 2$ yards, snd quickly pumped in three rounds; the lumbering Tiger stopped snd shuddered; there was a muffled explosion, followed by flames which billowed out of the turret snd engine ports, after «hich the armored car returned to its position.^

1 This action was reported to Major Donald P. Boyer, Jr., S-3, 38th Armored Infantry Battalion by Captain W. H. Antsey, (Commanding Company A, 38th Armored Infantry Battalion) who observed the engagement.

Had the devil of a time reading the awful rendering of the good captain's name on the copy from microfiche, but it's here for anyone who wants to check.

https://7tharmddiv.org/38a.htm

Major Boyer's personal report is here.

https://7tharmddiv.org/boyerbk.htm

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1078192219


Looks pretty solid to me.

Regards,

John Kettler






 

Edited by John Kettler
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1 hour ago, John Kettler said:

the Americans, who were attempting to close so that their 37-mm. gun would be effective on the Tiger's thin rear armor

1 hour ago, John Kettler said:

Looks pretty solid to me.

How would the 37mm round penetrate the tiger? It doesn't have thin rear armour. Both hull and turret are 80mm.

Maybe it's just another case of mistaking PzIV for tigers? And one that the US Army was not too keen on correcting, since the troops could do with a little morale boost..

There was a legend built around those horrible all powerful tigers, and it must have been useful to have a story going around about how they could be cut down to size by even a tiny armoured car.

Edited by Bulletpoint
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But according to family legend, Kay said to Ike "Give me one tonight". Ike said to Monty "I'm too busy to sort out the Ardennes, you'll have to do it". Monty said to Jorrocks "I'll be buggered if I'm going to send good Anglican boys down there to help out those non-conformist colonials, who have you got to spare?" Jorrocks said to Paddy "Stop the Jerries on the Meause tonight." Paddy said to John Martins, "Give me five Bedford loads of yer'se strongest Guinness, I need to set it alight and roll it down a bone dry hill in the middle of the desert, so that dumb movie goers in ten years time will think that it is how we beat the Gerry in the middle of a Belgian winter".

Yeah, that "Battle of the Bulge" movie was the worst WW2pic I ever saw.

Until "Fury" came out..

Edited by Seedorf81
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An interesting thing about this story is that it is basically the old story of David and Goliath retold in a WW2 setting.

In the ancient story, Goliath is a powerful warrior who challenges the Israelite army, but no one dares step forward to accept the challenge. A small boy then decides to step up, and with a fast slingshot to the head of the giant, he wins. When asked by the king who he is, he gives a humble answer.

In the WW2 story, the huge German tank drives forth, dominating the battlefield, and the US soldiers dare not attack it. The tiny and brave M8 car then uses speed to hit the weak point of the tank, killing it. Then the hero vehicle humbly returns to its duty.

Edited by Bulletpoint
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It's quit possible that the Tiger 1 or 2 was in a precarious position (Surrounded by enemy, trapped itself in a position, disabled, etc), and when hit several times with a 37mm in the rear just decided its best option is to abandon the tank...Thou, apparently the Tiger did catch fire.

Joe

 

Edited by JoMc67
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9 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

How would the 37mm round penetrate the tiger? It doesn't have thin rear armour. Both hull and turret are 80mm.

Maybe it's just another case of mistaking PzIV for tigers? And one that the US Army was not too keen on correcting, since the troops could do with a little morale boost..

There was a legend built around those horrible all powerful tigers, and it must have been useful to have a story going around about how they could be cut down to size by even a tiny armoured car.

Normally, I would agree with you, especially at the normal anti-tank weapon ranges for the US Army WW2 37mm anti-tank gun..

image.png.0a863caf156cda37a79758268f402411.png

However, by firing at 25 yards (@20 meters) distance from the rear of the targeted panzer's engine, I'm willing to believe this is likely a true story.

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2 hours ago, Badger73 said:

Normally, I would agree with you, especially at the normal anti-tank weapon ranges for the US Army WW2 37mm anti-tank gun..

image.png.0a863caf156cda37a79758268f402411.png

However, by firing at 25 yards (@20 meters) distance from the rear of the targeted panzer's engine, I'm willing to believe this is likely a true story.

An AP round doesn't lose much penetration power in the first 500m. But let's say we use the best case scenario in that table: APC M51 at perfect straight angle: 61mm peneration. Then we add an extra amount of penetration because it's firing at pretty much zero distance.

How much extra penetration would that give? An extra 10mm extra would be generous, but that would still need 9mm extra to penetrate. So let's be even more generous and assume that it got 20mm extra penetration at that range. 80mm penetration VS 80mm armour. But there's one thing we haven't taken into account: The rear armour of a Tiger II hull is sloped: 30 degrees from vertical. We'd need even more penetration to get through the plate.

Also, the penetration tables often list the ranges where there's a certain chance (for example, 50/50) chance of penetrating. So even if the table says the round has a chance to penetrate, it's just that: a chance. It's not assured.

But let's assume the AP round somehow made its way through the rear armour despite all this.

The M51 is solid shot; there's no bursting charge.

http://bulletpicker.com/cartridge_-37mm-apc-t_-m51_-m5.html

How much kinetic energy would be left after penetrating that much armour? How would the relatively small metal slug cause a "muffled explosion" inside the tank?

Here's a final thought: Even if that solid steel slug managed to penetrate and knock out the engine, the fire wouldn't spread to the crew compartment. There's a firewall:

https://posterfoundry.com/cross-section-german-world-war-ii-tiger-ii-tank-art-print-poster-36x24-inch/

So, unless I forgot something, there are only three possible explanations. Either they fired as the Tiger was going uphill, so the angle made it possible to penetrate the engine from the top. Or it was a misidentified PzIV. Or... it was a Christmas miracle :)

Edited by Bulletpoint
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Guys,

You raise some excellent points pro and con, but what I don't see from any of you is even a passing mention that three shots were fired from spitting distance and could well have had cumulative effects. What sort of group could that generate, and what would successive closely spaced hits do to the armor? Were I doing the shooting, I believe I'd aim for the shrouds protecting the muffler, since they give access to the engine compartment. Recall the destruction sequence, where first the engine compartment caught fire, then the turret. Are those shrouds mild steel or armor steel? Can they be knocked off by a direct hit or one immediately adjacent? If so, what one hit didn't do, several could, and the projectile remnant (possibly with intact burning tracer), frag spray or even one high velocity fragment set loose in the engine compartment could start a massive gasoline fire, in turn leading to disaster in the turret. Even if no penetration resulted, regardless of whether the rear armo proper or the exhaust shroud/s got hit, spall remains a possibility, too, with nothing more needed than an igniter (impact spark or perhaps sliced open ignition wire) and gasoline from a cut fuel line. To me, this seems like an entirely reasonable set of explanations for what happened. Another factor might well be defective armor, causing embrittlement (cracks when hit), a condition worsened by extreme cold. Progressive failure is real, as a quick look at the live fire results on Tank Archive definitively shows.

Regards,

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler
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While playing  the game "Squad" I fired a shoulder launched rpg- rocket at an LAV.

And though I thought the shot was aimed a little too short, and seemed to miss by an inch,  the LAV exploded with a mighty bang.

Wow, I thought rather proud, I must be a better shot than I imagined!

But my pride disappeared quickly when further up the road another AT guy appeared. He had fired the killing round, not me.

So I wondered:

Might this scenario explain the "37mm killing the King Tiger" mystery? Could it be that something else shot the Tiger at the same moment the M8 did?

 

 

 

Edited by Seedorf81
Spelling, spelling, spelling..
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18 hours ago, John Kettler said:

three shots were fired from spitting distance and could well have had cumulative effects.

True, I didn't factor this in. Answering that is way above my pay-grade :)

 I guess in theory it's possible. also the point about maybe the armour was brittle, the cold playing a part, etc.

But what I am left with is that in order to believe this story, I would have to accept a list of events where each event is somewhat or very unlikely:

 

1: Enemy tank advances completely without infantry escort. OK, that did happen, but was not exactly doctrine.

2: None of the US infantry tried to close assault an enemy tank driving right past them, not protected by infantry. OK, that happens too. Assaulting a tank is dangerous.

3: A US armoured car for some reason decides to risk its life in an attack where they would be extremely unlikely to win. A bit like an office worker challenging a heavyweight boxer to a fight to the death. Ok, that kind of thing happens too, maybe they either didn't realise how weak their gun was and how thick the enemy tank's armour was. Or they were young and full of adrenaline. Maybe they misidentified the tank and thought it would be easy to knock out from the rear.

4: The AC was able to close the distance and come in on a perfect zero degree angle without the enemy tank turning the slightest. Apparently the enemy tank stopped, though the tank commander must have known that he should try to prevent the AC getting close enough to duck under the gun? OK, the German crews were not so good at this time of the war.

5: The AC now fires three shots that manage to hit the exact same spot, despite recoil and maybe blast from the gun against the tank hull throwing off the aim at all. I don't know how likely this is.

6: Somehow those three slugs didn't just become wedged in the hole from the previous slugs. Again, I don't know if that is a possibility.

7: The second or third shot penetrates, and manages to knock out critical components. At such short range, you do have a point about the tracer still being fully lit, so if the round had gone through one of the big 88mm shell cases, it would have ignited the propellant. But it's also very likely that such a relatively small shell would have penetrated without much after-armour effect.

 

The alternative to going through that list is to assume the story either didn't happen, or that it was a misidentified Panther (rear armour only 40mm, well in the ballpark of what the M8 gun can deal with), or that the enemy tank was in fact a Tiger but was on an incline so that the M8 shell went in through the top engine deck and continued through the engine and into the crew compartment.

In each of these cases, we only have to accept one premise, instead of a whole list. So while I will never be able to prove that the story didn't happen the way it's presented in the clip, I think it's very much more likely that it didn't.

Of course, that doesn't mean I don't think brave and sometimes crazy things were done during the war. I'm just puzzled by this one.

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10 hours ago, Seedorf81 said:

Might this scenario explain the "37mm killing the King Tiger" mystery? Could it be that something else shot the Tiger at the same moment the M8 did?

I think you might well be right. An M9 bazooka could have taken out the tank. It can penetrate up to 102mm of armour, according to the Wikipedia... so Tiger II side and rear armour would be no problem.

Which makes the narrative that the infantry didn't dare to engage, while the M8 did, all the more strange.

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1 hour ago, Bulletpoint said:

I think you might well be right. An M9 bazooka could have taken out the tank. It can penetrate up to 102mm of armour, according to the Wikipedia... so Tiger II side and rear armour would be no problem.

Which makes the narrative that the infantry didn't dare to engage, while the M8 did, all the more strange.

Yeah, certainly the close range for the bazooka gunners would be a risk worth taking. Most certainly when the tankcrew was distracted by the M8.

There is even the possibility that another gun, being an AT gun or a Tankdestoyer or even a Sherman might have taken the killshot, maybe even hundreds of yards away.

If I recall correctly this engagement took place on the 18th of december where confusion and chaos reigned. Scattered units all over the place, sometimes lost and not knowing where the enemy would be.

We'll never know, I have my doubts on the m8 kill. But if they really pulled it off, I think it was brave enough for a medal of honor.

 

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not sure if the model is accurate but looks like you could use a pistol to do it if the hatch was propped open... maybe the tigers rear hatch was down or open?

What about fuel/fumes leaking form the rear engine area? If fumes ignites it follows the fuel right back into the tank! So many possibilities guys.

VWoKs28.jpg

 

 

 

my chart says even an m9a1 garand ATRG  can just penetrate 80mm of armor, and looking at this picture if it does stream through not much is going to stop those shells 88mm shells from cooking off. 

 

Or maybe the story has it confused with an m20 armored car which looks similar. A bazooka can pop out from an m20 and kill a king tiger via rear turret or rear chasis.

Many m20s had bazookas and bazooka teams in them

Edited by user1000
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