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3rd RTR lessons learned on ATGs


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From an abridged February 3, 1943 talk by Lt Col Pyman, CO, 3 RTR. Quoted in Delaforce, Taming the Panzers, Appendix, p. 248.

(Fair Use)

"In a straight fight the A/Tk guns will beat the armour every time."

There's more to the quote, and he's talking about fighting Afrika Korps rearguards consisting of a forward screen of 50 mm Pak 38s, a main position of 88s, with artillery support and an armored reserve to boot, to which his counter is an Armour Brigade all-arms integrated attack. His principal conclusion, though, is very much in line with the German views on the threat from ATGs, to include Wittmann's comments based on service in the East to the effect they were more dangerous than tanks and harder to spot. But if you look it overall American Tank Destroyer performance in towed units in the Ardennes Campaign, they were far less effective in inflicting casualties, and suffered terrible losses as well, when compared to their self-propelled brethren. See Gabel, "Seek, Strike and Destroy," p. 63 for the details.

http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/download/csipubs/gabel2.pdf

I suspect that the 3 RTR view is a product of the long fields of fire typically found during the war in North Africa, a condition not typical of the Normandy situation except where the Germans held the high ground and the ATGs could go to work. And I think we'd all agree the life expectancy of an ATG in CMBN tends to be very short, nothing like the combat accounts in which ATGs held off large armored attacks for sometimes days on end, right? On balance, I think it's entirely too easy to take out an ATG. And having the gun dug in seems all but useless, when in reality, especially with camouflage, the gun was practically invisible and pretty well protected. If we're talking German ATGs, there was also the yet to be modeled spotting problem associated with smokeless flashless powder, a problem complained about by Allied soldiers in reference to Panzers, ATGs and MGs.

Regards,

John Kettler

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cool breeze,

to my knowledge, the US first ran into smokeless, flashless powder during--the Spanish-American War. On Cuba, the American soldiers were using the Krag rifle, whose propellant was black powder, which produced great gouts of black smoke upon firing and betrayed the firer's location. By contrast, the Spanish were armed with shiny new Mauser rifles which, compared to the Krag, were practically undetectable when fired.

Article from Yank, 1945, a telling excerpt on the combat benefit to the Germans from using smokeless, flashless powder. Excerpt was taken from General Marshall's Biennial Report.

http://www.oldmagazinearticles.com/WW2_German_Army_Advantages_Over_Allies_during_WW2#.VEmHjEuAZFw

New York Times article from 1896 laying out the real impact smokeless powder would have on the battlefield. It 1898, the factors discussed became combat reality.

http://www.forgottenweapons.com/the-new-york-times-on-smokeless-powder/

The video quality here in this allegedly enhanced official WW II Army M1 Rifle training film is poor, but if you look at 1:41, you can see that firing the M1 Rifle creates an impressive visual signature.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcEvtSh7sW4&spfreload=10

For some strange reason, YT is again massively screwed up and now refuses to load anything. Regular internet works fine, as does Skype video, but YT is effectively dead. Shall therefore continue this once YT deigns to work again.

Regards,

John Kettler

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For some strange reason, YT is again massively screwed up and now refuses to load anything. Regular internet works fine, as does Skype video, but YT is effectively dead. Shall therefore continue this once YT deigns to work again.

Working now.

The thing about smokeless, flashless powder is that it is all relative. If one side has a formulation that is cleaner than the other side, it probably won't matter if it isn't perfect, it will still be harder to pick up and that give the side possessing and using it an advantage. If I can remain unobserved for a few more seconds, I may be able to shoot more of your guys while you are still trying to figure out where the fire is coming from.

Michael

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