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German Tanks - MG-34s In Commander's Cupola?


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I remember seeing some images from books in the very distant past of Panthers and Mark IVs (Don't know about Tigers) with MG-34s for the commander on the top of the tank on  dome swivel mounts, is this a misconception or did they have them on the tanks ? Also did they just use them in the Eastern front or West or is this a total misconception?

Edited by user1000
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It's an interesting question. I can only recall seeing one war-time photograph of a Mark IV with what could have been a Spandau on the cupola. I just searched a little on the 'net but didn't find it. The shot was of a Mark IV in a town square or street corner, probably in Normandy. IIRC,  it was 12th SS, and probably a model H or J, it was long-barrelled and had Schürzen. There was something sticking up at an angle from the hatch area, which I took at the time to be an MG barrel.

And I've seen quite a few paintings and drawings of a Mark IV with a commander's machine gun. I even built, many years ago, a model of J and it had the MG.

My guess is that it was a design feature, but virtually never installed in the field. And I can't recall ever seeing it on the Mk V at all.

Edited by landser
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There is an MG34 called MG34 Panzerlauf, it could be that.

This from wiki even though I don't like to get old info from wiki..

 

Mg34hb.jpg

Most German tanks used during World War II used the MG 34 Panzerlauf for secondary armament. The MG 42 was ill-suited for internal/coaxial mounting due to the method of barrel change. The main difference of the MG 34 Panzerlauf and the regular MG 34 was the heavier, almost solid armored barrel shroud, almost completely lacking the ventilation holes of the basic MG 34. When mounted inside a tank, the MG 34 also lacked a butt-stock. A kit for quick conversion to ground use was carried inside the tank containing a butt-stock and a combined bi-pod and front sight assembly.

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So this would turn the crew into a deadly mg unit outside the tank as well!

Edited by user1000
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Was mainly used during marches, more or less far behind the frontlines and in fact was the tanks bow MG put on the so called "Fliegerbeschussgerät" (the swivel mount at the commanders position). Probably a left over production feature from earlier war years when the 7.92mm could deal some damage to lighter sort of aircrafts. Vs. Sturmoviks, Thunderbolts and the like it surely was more or less useless and more sort of a morale booster. I could imagine that Panzer Lehr tanks would´ve installed them during the long march from France interior towards Normandy in example, but as tank commander I would´ve prefered to close hatches and hope for the best...

I´ve seen very few pics with the MG34 installed in commanders position, incl. Panther and Tiger and pics were obviously taken far from the frontline, in resting areas or on long road marches.

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1 hour ago, SLIM said:

That's the mounting for anti-aircraft defense. Probably would be removed before getting into close contact.

I agree, except why does there seem to be so little photographic evidence? You just never see a shot with it in position. The shot I posted is labeled as near Caen. Perhaps pre-invasion, muzzle cover and all? I wonder if they were installed when aircraft were the only thing the occupation forces had to worry about, but removed post invasion when they weren't likely to be poking about above the hatch? 

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1 hour ago, RockinHarry said:

Was mainly used during marches, more or less far behind the frontlines and in fact was the tanks bow MG put on the so called "Fliegerbeschussgerät" (the swivel mount at the commanders position). Probably a left over production feature from earlier war years when the 7.92mm could deal some damage to lighter sort of aircrafts. Vs. Sturmoviks, Thunderbolts and the like it surely was more or less useless and more sort of a morale booster. I could imagine that Panzer Lehr tanks would´ve installed them during the long march from France interior towards Normandy in example, but as tank commander I would´ve prefered to close hatches and hope for the best...

I´ve seen very few pics with the MG34 installed in commanders position, incl. Panther and Tiger and pics were obviously taken far from the frontline, in resting areas or on long road marches.

This.

 

Nicely explained.

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The one in the picture has an AA site the gun itself and just because of that it wasn't just for anti aircraft, there was a ground range site as well. The allies had a .50 and .30 on some armor but they didn't use that just for anti - air defense either..

 

I can;t agree they were solo used for road marches or only AA defense, but I do agree now that they did not fancy  commander mgs for tanks.

Edited by user1000
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5 hours ago, user1000 said:

The one in the picture has an AA site the gun itself and just because of that it wasn't just for anti aircraft, there was a ground range site as well. The allies had a .50 and .30 on some armor but they didn't use that just for anti - air defense either..

 

I can;t agree they were solo used for road marches or only AA defense, but I do agree now that they did not fancy  commander mgs for tanks.

Bear in mind that the AA MG34 is the one normally taken from the Bow MG position and this one completed with particular parts carried in the tank (buttstock, sights and bipod). US MG at tanks commander position were extra, while german ones usually were not.

The best you could do with that MG34 in AA role is to get an enemy fighter bomber abort an attack or evade temporarily, maybe damaging some and downing one in rare cases. That would be the case if a halting tank column or position could coordinate several tank AA MG on single planes. Usually allied planes did not operate alone, but at least in pairs or fours. Duelling this way with multiple FB would be plain suicide, but in emergencies one does not maybe feel so helpless. Buttoning up, evasion, increasing speed and getting into cover/concealment was the normal procedure, when facing fighter and FB attacks.

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1 hour ago, Bulletpoint said:

How come 7.92 wouldn't do any damage to aircraft? Too difficult to hit a critical component?

In 1944+, 7.92mm simply was too weak to do decisive damage on planes like Thunderbolt, Sturmovik and the likes mostly encountered on the western and eastern front, not considering an occasional lucky hit. When tanks were surprised in the open, with no place to get into cover and concealment, they surely were used as emergency measure to at least get some planes evade and abort. Otherwise it was always a bad decision to get more attention from the skies as necessary. Not without reason germans started to put all that heavy (15mm +) double, triple and quadruple guns on tanks and carriages late in the war.

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1 hour ago, RockinHarry said:

In 1944+, 7.92mm simply was too weak to do decisive damage on planes like Thunderbolt, Sturmovik and the likes mostly encountered on the western and eastern front, not considering an occasional lucky hit. 

But is that because planes became armoured, or is the problem that the MG rounds typically just pass straight through, leaving little holes but not much other damage?

Edited by Bulletpoint
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Sturmoviks were heavily armored, and Thunderbolts had armored cockpits and windscreens, and most Allied planes had self-sealing fuel tanks by this stage. In addition, Thunderbolts had air cooled radial engines, which were far less vulnerable to ground fire than liquid cooled (Spitfire, Mustang, Bf109 as examples) as there was no coolant system to puncture. 7.92 just wasn't very effective against these Jabos.

Edited by landser
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2 minutes ago, landser said:

Sturmoviks were heavily armored, and Thunderbolts had armored cockpits and windscreens, and most Allied planes had self-sealing fuel tanks by this stage. In addition, Thunderbolts had air cooled radial engines, which were far less vulnerable to ground fire than liquid cooled (Spitfire, Mustang, Bf109 as examples) as there was no coolant system to puncture. 7.92 just wasn't very effective against these Jabos.

Thanks, interesting stuff. Never knew this.

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No problem, though I should correct what I wrote. The windscreens weren't armored of course, but 'bulletproof'.

The ability to withstand damage is legendary in regards to the Il-2 and P-47. One famous example can be found in Robert Johnson's book Thunderbolt.

Edited by landser
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Even before the war the Germans (and others for that matter) had figured out that 7.92 ammo was far too weak to be a reliable damage dealer against aircraft. You either needed a larger caliber or a large amount of machine guns. Most nations went with the bigger caliber (.50 or 20mm). The British notably kept using their .303 MG on Hurricanes and Spitfires, but used a lot of them. In the case of the Hurricane up to 12.

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As well, lighter rounds have shorter range. 7.92mm is outclassed  by wing-mounted .50, or any cannon. Strafe, and pull up before you're in effective range of 7.92. Their only function was to keep strafers "honest" and not let them press too close.

Edited by c3k
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53 minutes ago, user1000 said:

...poor liquid coolant system that ran through the entire plane...

Not sure why you worded that that way, but the coolant system did not "run through the entire plane". The radiators for liquid cooled planes were usually on the bottom of the plane, which added to their vulnerability to ground fire, but they were usually placed immediately below the engine in the nose of the plane. The P-51/A-36 were exceptions in that their radiators were beneath the cockpits. The tanks for coolant were also placed near the engine, in the nose.

Michael

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39 minutes ago, Michael Emrys said:

Not sure why you worded that that way, but the coolant system did not "run through the entire plane". The radiators for liquid cooled planes were usually on the bottom of the plane, which added to their vulnerability to ground fire, but they were usually placed immediately below the engine in the nose of the plane. The P-51/A-36 were exceptions in that their radiators were beneath the cockpits. The tanks for coolant were also placed near the engine, in the nose.

Michael

I suggest you read up more on ww2 planes.. No education taken.. I'm not talking about radiators.. Liquid coolant  tubing lines that constantly caused problems when they got hit by tiny pieces of flak or small arms ground fire, the whole aircraft would turn into a short glider..

Edited by user1000
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Well, what he meant was that coolant lines would only run from the engine to the reservoir and radiator locations, and since they weren't located anywhere aft of the cockpit the coolant lines did not run through the entire plane. The point you are making is correct, but his correction is also correct :)

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