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Tactics with M10s


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I've never given the US M-10 tank destroyer a whole lot of thought, but I've recently been doing some experiments with the US 76mm gun, which I've discussed on the CMAK forum, and made a discovery that I found interesting. I was frustrated with the cost of the 76mm Shermans relative to their killing ability vs, Panthers, in particular, and some folks recommended the Hellcat. I had fun with a Hellcat vs. Panther AI battle (many Hellcats for the cost of a few Panthers) and thought to run another ME QB of that type. This time, I let the Axis pick its own tanks (armor only). But I had variable rarity on and Hellcats came in at +40% while M-10s were only +5%. So I bought 14 M10s instead with my 2000 points along with 4 Hellcats.

And I found that that worked pretty well against the enemy force, which turned out to be 10 PzIVs (H & J), plus 4 JPzIVs (Jadjpanzer). The map was pretty large, with modest hills and light cover. And I one point I had about eight M10s on a ridgeline facing about eight PzIVs and JPzIVs at 1000m range. All my tanks were hulldown. And the M10s got eight kills with only one loss. What I found is that the M10's sharply sloped turret and upper hull armor (57/45? and 38/55) will bounce most shots from the ubiqitious German 75/L48 at ranges like 1000m. OTOH, the PzIV turret is very vulnerable (50/10? IIRC). The JPzIV is a lot less vulnerable, but it has the same 75/L48 and so it also has the same trouble killing a hulldown M10 at that range. I managed to wipe out the PzIVs quickly, then could concentrate on getting a lucky shot on the JpIVs (while also flanking them with my fastmoving Hellcats).

Later in the battle I was closing in on the Axis's AI's last two remaining tanks, a pair of JpIVs, Now the range had closed to about 600m. I had about 7 M10s facing them but this time the result was bad for the M10s--3 or 4 got killed before the Hellcats raced in on the flank and iced the Jadjpanzers. At the closer range, the M10s were vulnerable themselves, but they still couldn't easily kill the Jadjpanzers.

So my conclusions are that the M10 can be a very effective overwatch weapon against the 75/L48 (the most common German gun, late war--also found on the StugIII). Stay hulldown (the lower hull is just a paper-thin 51/15?) and try to keep the range at 1000m or above. All bets are off against the 88 or the 75/L70 on the Panther, but against those, you (hulldown and at long range) may be able to survive by backing away and manuevering for a closer shot. All this may be obvious to others, but it is news to me... ;) I think at 1000m range, the M10 may have better survivability than a Sherman, and it's certainly cheaper. It can make an effective team, as well, with the Hellcat: a mass of M10s (at least three, better if more) provides the overwatch force and the Hellcat the manuever force.

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Well, yes, of course, but that's not really what I was talking about, now, was it? :D

I wasn't talking about duking it out with Tigers--which is hazardous for anybody's health. I was talking about killing PzIVs at long range.

The key point, in my mind, is that the M10 has pretty good survivability vs. the PzIV (et al's) 75/L48 at ranges of 1000m and above. My "mini-AAR" was already approaching treatise length, so I didn't add the point that you might want to know a little bit of what's out there before you go hulldown. A Tiger or Panther or lurking 88 is still going to be trouble. But I had thought of the M10 as a gun that could be killed by almost anything, so that fact that in hulldown position it can survive a PzIV or Pak40 hit at 1000m is news and suggests interesting tactical possiblities.

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I have been playing the germans a lot and my opponent has been using the M10 and M18. I concur with the poster that these weapons are very effective against "typical" german armor (the stuff I like to use) such as the PZ IV G and the STG III F/G series. Their gun has decent penetration and seems to get off a lot of first shots, obviously helped by the fact that they are typically on defense (the tank destroyer's role). On the attack it is a different story but I find the M10 and M18 to be very dangerous opponents when they can fight from hull down positions and use "shoot and scoot" tactics. They can be countered with artillery and MG fire does tend to make them retreat, but on the attack it takes time to drag the MG's forward and to line up arty fire - by then they usually have "scooted" off to another firing position. On board mortars are very effective since both weapons are open topped and on board mortars can hit immediately if you can target the tank destroyer with an observer (I am assuming the mortar is not visible to the M10 / M18).

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Originally posted by Redwolf:

Hm, sorry CombinedArms.

I didn't realize the turret is that thick in CMAK.

No problem, Redwolf. ;) And it isn'tt really the thickness of the turret, it's the slant: only 57mm for the turret but at a 45 degree angle. The upper huil is only 38mm but at 55 degrees. It's the lower hull that's useless (51mm/10 degrees). I've been accustomed to think of M10s as paper-thin, but my accidental discovery is that they can handle the 75/L48 if you keep them hull down and increase the range. Again this particularly works against the PzIV because of its vulnerable turret (just the obverse of the M10). At shorter ranges, the M10 becomes vulnerable to the PzIV. Actually, the tactics I'm recommending are consistent with how the M10 is historically

supposed to be used.

Carl Puppchen's notes on countering the M10 are very interesting--sounds like his opponent has used the M10 as a consistent weapon, enough to require countertactics.

I'm not sure about the historicity of mixing M10s and Hellcats. I'm sure they both were used in the antitank battalions, but whether together or not, I don't know. BTW, the tactics described above won't work for the Hellcat. Even at 1000m, that front is too porous to sustain a hit from almost anything.

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I don't have my M10 books in front of me, but treating the M10 armor as this strong strikes me as very odd.

I mean, it is just a gun mantlet in front of thin tin - but in the game it is stronger than the Panther turret's front when the curved armor draws a low angle.

In reality I don't think the M10 had a stronger turret front than a Panzer IV - which receives no benefit from its mantlet at all (in CM), and has the mantlet in front of 50mm armor.

The whole thing is made good for by super-high penetration values for the German guns in CMAK, especially 75mm L/48 and L/70.

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Originally posted by SumpterBeast:

Interesting. M10's are indeed vulnerable, but I think most AFVs the Americans have are virtually death traps in comparison to German armor. It does seem that you get more bang for your buck with TDs. I will have to put it to the test next battle!

I think it's definitely true about the bang for buck when fighting German armor. You get the 76mm gun (not great in all respects but better than the 75) for less than the cost of a vanilla Sherman. You do sacrifice all-around armor, MGs and mucho HE, however. The Sherman 75 is definitely much better at fighting infantry. If you know you'll be facing mostly German tanks, I'd go for the TD's.

I'm mostly a scenario player, so I'm in this to learn the best tactics to play with what I get.

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Hmmm... I changed that a little bit.

"I think it's definitely true about the bang for buck when fighting Allied armor. You get the 75L4x mm gun for less than the cost of a vanilla PzIV. You do sacrifice all-around armor, MGs and mucho HE, however. The PanzerIV is definitely much better at fighting infantry. If you know you'll be facing mostly Allied tanks, I'd go for the StuGs."

Gruß

Joachim

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Hetzers, ah the joys of a TD designed the way they should be, small and fast. I would rather have a Jagdpanzer IV, but that's just matter of taste. As for American tank destroyers, I have found them to be useful in numbers, but alone they are of little use. In a one on one fight they don't fare well at all.

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Possible Bieville Spoiler [for Allied eyes only]

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I'm playing this one as the Brits, to, and am getting waaaayyyyyyyyy more mileage out of my Shermans and 6 pdrs compared to the Wolverines (M-10s) and 17 pdrs. I think this is a combination of luck (one Sherman zapped two Pz IVs with three rounds) and firing rate (for the Sherman & 6 pdrs). The Shermans are also ahead when it comes to ground speed, turret turning rate & gyrostabilisation.

There's a reason they cost more.

Originally posted by mike_the_wino:

Have to give this a try. I have gained new respect for the Allied TDs after being forced to used them in the Bieville scenario.

Thanks for the mini AAR

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Originally posted by Redwolf:

I don't have my M10 books in front of me, but treating the M10 armor as this strong strikes me as very odd.

I mean, it is just a gun mantlet in front of thin tin - but in the game it is stronger than the Panther turret's front when the curved armor draws a low angle.

In reality I don't think the M10 had a stronger turret front than a Panzer IV - which receives no benefit from its mantlet at all (in CM), and has the mantlet in front of 50mm armor.

hi redwolf:

you finally found the big mistake by battlefront when designing the panther-turret with only 100mm curved. its simply wrong. the right number would be 180mm curved for panther turret front. the reason for it is, that the gun-mantlet of the panther covers around 95% of the turret-front and so you wont have luck to hit the turret-front without the mantlet. th same mistake made th battlefront team with the kingttiger and when setting the fronts of hetzer and german tankdestroyers on "curved" ( when they use curved, but not as real at 60%, they should use the whole armor with the much stronger mantlet.

cu

fridericus

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Well, I can live with the missing modeling of reinforced complex turrets on some German tanks.

I can less well live with doing the Jagdpanther and Jagdpanzer IV with curved armor instead of a homogenous plate when the latter would obviously be more correct (remember we have the weak spot model on top of it which accounts for collar hits). But the "curved" qualifier in CM obviously comes out with way too many low-angle results.

Given that, treating the M10 mantlet as a single plate of 57mm at 45 degrees is a joke.

I mean, come on, have a look at the Jagdpanzer IV or Jagdpanther and then on the M10 and tell me which one has a rounded mantlet and which one has a single plate?

Now, where's that bug report thread...

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fridercus' fairy tale that Panther turrets are 180mm thick founders on tactical reality - M10s and Hellcats regularly dusted Panthers from the front when the range was under 200m. They even outscored them (due to better sighting) in both the Panzer Lehr counterattack in Normandy and the fighting around Arracourt in the Lorraine. There is no way those kills came through the glacis (with 76mm plain AP), and no way they'd get through 180mm if that is what it really were.

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Originally posted by Brent Pollock:

Bieville ...

I'm playing this one as the Brits, too ...

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by mike_the_wino:

I have gained new respect for the Allied TDs after being forced to use them in the Bieville scenario.

</font>
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Originally posted by JasonC:

fridercus' fairy tale that Panther turrets are 180mm thick founders on tactical reality - M10s and Hellcats regularly dusted Panthers from the front when the range was under 200m. They even outscored them (due to better sighting) in both the Panzer Lehr counterattack in Normandy and the fighting around Arracourt in the Lorraine. There is no way those kills came through the glacis (with 76mm plain AP), and no way they'd get through 180mm if that is what it really were.

That's fine.

But do you think the M10 front turret wedge is stronger than the Panther's mantlet?

I don't think so.

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The Panther turret has 100mm curved, so that is 100mm at minimum.

The M10 turret has 57mm at 45 degrees. Cos(45degrees)=sqrt(2)=~1.41, so the actual thickness of the M10 turret is about 80.5mm. The effectivness of this armor should be a bit more then 80.5mm since it is sloped.

The 75mmL/48 should be able to penetrate at least 110mm flat at 1000m, so I am surprised that it was ineffictive against M10 turrets.

[ September 03, 2004, 10:25 PM: Message edited by: Neutrino 123 ]

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