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Historical Question: How did tanks hit moving targets?


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I am genuinely interested in hearing from anyone who can describe how WWII era tankers hit moving targets.

I have target-shooting experience, and I know how to "lead" a shot in front of a moving target to fire at where the target is about is to be.

But how do you do this in a tank? Do you aim the gun well ahead of your target, and wait for the right moment? Could you actually traverse the turret to match the speed of your target?

And how *do* you aim a tank gun from inside a blind box, anyway?

I would be very interested in hearing about the way WWII tanks aimed their guns and how they fired on moving targets.

Thanks!

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Toad

Ontario, Canada

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Not exactly WWII tankers, but... I have seen some Air Corps and more recent Army training materials on the proper way to lead a target when you're moving (A.C. was air to air gunnery from the IMPACT 'zines and the Army stuff was for helocopter gunners, but the principles are similar).

Basically, instead of leading in front as you would for a moving target, lead behind to compensate for your own movement. If both are moving, it gets really complicated and the suggestion was usually to fire center mass and adjust on your tracers from there. Hmm, a reason for tank MGs to fire before the main gun! smile.gif

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"Belly to belly and everything's better" - Russian proverb ;)

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The book,"Tiger Fibel," (Tiger Bible) has a very detailed chapter on how to use the optics on the Tiger, and how to shoot at various targets, compensating for many variables. This only applies to the Tiger, but I would assume would be applicable to other German equipment of the same time period.

http://sites.netscape.net/wulfdbrand/main/Teutonia-Tigerfibel-main.html

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Toad:

I am genuinely interested in hearing from anyone who can describe how WWII era tankers hit moving targets.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

With a lot of luck smile.gif

Seriously though, a game like the Steel Beasts demo and other tank games have instructions on how to use the gun sights to shoot at moving targets, but it has been a while and I don't remember the specifics.

Here are my own instuctions: line up the target, calculate the tangent of the angle between the line of sight of the target and the direction of his movement vector, divide by the age of the driver, close your eyes, pull on the trigger and hope for the best wink.gif

Henri

"...Grab them by the nose and kick them in the ass!..." (Patton)

Now that is not logical: if you can kick somone human in the ass, you have to be behind him, and it is not convenient to grab him by the nose from such a position; on the other hand, if you can grab him by the nose, rather than kick him in the ass, it is probably more efficient to kick him in the balls!... (Spock)

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Unfortunately, in CM its hard to hit moving targets. I often fine that when a tank aims at a moving target, it aims right at its center...as its moving.. Then it shoots and by the time the shell gets there, it hits right behind the moving object. Only once it stops will it get hit frown.gif

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I suspect that it has a lot to do with the crew experience level, though I haven't bothered to test it. I've had my tanks score hits against tanks moving at right angles to my view ... and vice versa frown.gif And I've had my guys miss shot after shot when both tanks were stopped cold.

Joe

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I think experience is the important thing too. Yesterday in a QB I had a veteran Panther make a pretty nice shot on a Sherman that was hauling ass about 550m away (with its side to my tanks -- stupid of it). The shot appeared to hit right at the highest part of the side armor. Since it was an M4A1, the resulting explosion was darned impressive. smile.gif Anyway, in other battles with regular crews, my tanks often requrire several shots to hit a stationary target, let alone a moving one. I have also seen tanks and TD's hit stationary targets while moving, which is an even tougher challenge.

Back to the original question -- gunner's sights had markings to assist in leading moving targets, but it really came down to the gunner's experience. Same with range estimation. I've read that Wittmann's gunner just left his sight set at 800m and could tell from the fall of his first shot (if it missed) how much to add or subtract elevation to get a hit on the second without further fiddling with his sight. He was supposed to be a wiz at hitting moving targets too.

-- 19 Echo

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Ive read that too about Woll (Wittmans gunner). He must have been like a Quarterback (american football) with an ingrained adjustment calculator in his head. Try throwing a football to a reciever while you move to your left and he moves to your right. Go on, try it. Get out of the house I said.

To hit a moving target gets exponetially harder as the range increases especially if it moving. Most AT shooting at a point target, like a tank, is done at the halt normally (WWII). Its obviously an experience factor and I dont know if WWII training had moving target ranges like they have today.

A good method would be to 'hose' the target with the coax MG. If your main weapon was ballistically close, like the US 76mm and 30 cal, then the tracers from the MG would indicate a good time to fire. Should also work OK if both the target and firer are moving. This only works up to a certain range, even if the velocity of the MG and main gun are matched, due to the air resistance having a different effect on the different masses. Of course, firing such long and steady streams of tracer laden MG had to have been a great way to attract the enemys attention.

Lewis

[This message has been edited by :USERNAME: (edited 07-22-2000).]

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