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King Tiger vs. American AFVs--Vet's account


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Was trying to see whether the King Tiger saw other than German service, during which I found this treasure. It concerns a duel pitting a single King Tiger against Shermans, an M10 and an apparent M36.

Quite a read!

http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/5353/ktiger.htm

Regards,

John Kettler

[ May 13, 2008, 11:17 PM: Message edited by: John Kettler ]

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JasonC,

Still checking on that one, but here's another even less likely. This isn't Kursk, and the tank's not even burning before ramming. 75mm armed Sherman vs. King Tiger: Normandy, June 1944.

http://www.irishguards.org.uk/pages/poems/stories.html

It may sound crazy, but there's not only more to the story, but photographic proof and evidence the ramming attack was preplanned.

http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?t=126970

Regards,

John Kettler

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Found this fantastic site, which seems to have superb research, tank pics to die for (many I'd never seen), excellent maps, detailed analysis, and priceless imagery for scenario designers and grogs alike showing the key ground. Has Shermans bouncing rounds off King Tiger fronts and an M10 getting a flank kill.

http://www.ss501panzer.com/index.htm

Regards,

John Kettler

[ May 16, 2008, 02:10 AM: Message edited by: John Kettler ]

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Originally posted by John Kettler:

Found this fantastic site, which seems to have superb research, tank pics to die for (many I'd never seen), excellent maps, detailed analysis, and priceless imagery for scenario designers and grogs alike showing the key ground. Has Shermans bouncing rounds off King Tiger fronts and an M10 getting a flank kill.

http://www.ss501panzer.com/index.htm

Regards,

John Kettler

Mighty good. The King Tiger knocked out in Stavelot was done in by a towed gun from the 825th TD Bn in the crew's first combat action.
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Harry Yeide,

I presume the tank you're referring to is the one that smashed in the front of the building? There were two lost at Stavelot in earlier action, according to the account. The incident I remember best from my own Bulge reading was at Trois Pont, where an American 57mm antitank gun hit the lead King Tiger in possibly the only worthwhile place: smack in the track, not only breaking it, but bottling up the entire rest of the column since the bridge was only one King Tiger wide.

Regards,

John Kettler

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Originally posted by John Kettler:

Harry Yeide,

I presume the tank you're referring to is the one that smashed in the front of the building? There were two lost at Stavelot in earlier action, according to the account. The incident I remember best from my own Bulge reading was at Trois Pont, where an American 57mm antitank gun hit the lead King Tiger in possibly the only worthwhile place: smack in the track, not only breaking it, but bottling up the entire rest of the column since the bridge was only one King Tiger wide.

Regards,

John Kettler

Yes, the one that backed into the building. The TD battalion had been performing security duties, and the fight in Stavelot was the first time the men had fired shots in anger. Not bad.
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Originally posted by John Kettler:

Harry Yeide,

The big, hard to hide one? Got it. Saw one of those years ago outside the Infantry Museum at Ft. Benning, where, BTW, they have both a Tankgewehr and

a Fliegerfaust/Luftfaust. Also, what's your take on the veteran's story that started this thread?

Regards,

John Kettler

I've been through the AARs of every TD battalion, separate tank battalion, and armored division, and I suspect that a story that good would have shown up elsewhere. Could be, but....
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Here's a most info dense 11 page thread that began by discussing Russian live fire testing vs. a King Tiger at Kubinka, but rapidly became a very hot discussion of terminal ballistics, tank design, relative combat effectiveness, which sources are credible and why when it comes to tank losses and causation, and much more. The Tiger loss discussion alone covers pages 10 and 11. Data tables are presented, together with a bunch of Tiger pics I've never seen. The withering discussion of actual Tiger losses to carpet bombing at Normandy is worth a read in and of itself, especially when survivors with names like Von Rosen are invoked and state what they personally observed.

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=5777&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

Regards,

John Kettler

John Ke

[ May 18, 2008, 10:17 PM: Message edited by: John Kettler ]

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JK - all the evidence I've seen suggests the Hellcat was an above average weapon system that actually killed more AFVs than were lost doing it. (But order unity). The same can be said for the Tiger I, even more so (order a low single digit number). But not for the King Tiger.

Yes it was a technically superior tank. But it wasn't operating in anything like as favorable an era, and the usual conditions of its use were remarkably poor, as was its mechanical performance. I sincerely doubt the entire King Tiger fleet accounted for more AFV kills in the west than losses suffered there. Yes many of those losses were non-combat, in whole or in major part. But they were losses just the same.

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JasonC,

I happen to be a big Hellcat fan (have to love an AFV with lower ground pressure than a grunt's), and I have no dog in the Tiger II effectiveness hunt. Now, if it had had a real powerplant in it, transmission to match, and turret traverse as reported in one source (19 secs to do 360 degrees), then it would've really been nasty, as opposed to a tank which often had to be destroyed by its own crew as a result of mechanical failure or combat damage

requiring usually unavailable super heavy tow vehicles. I never cease to be amazed at how much oomph post War tank designers crammed into their vehicles without making them both gigantic and ponderous. I did find the raging debate on sources to be of considerable interest and value.

Regards,

John Kettler

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fluidwill,

Such a collision could easily break the Sherman's transmission, meaning it would likely stay there until repaired on what was now British territory. I rechecked the pic, and that is definitely a King Tiger. Panther has a full width mantlet and no massive circular armored gun collar around the mantlet end of the barrel. Turret shape's completely wrong, too.

Here's a King Tiger with Krupp production turret.

http://www.achtungpanzer.com/pz5.htm

Panther for comparison.

http://www.achtungpanzer.com/pz4.htm#panther

Regards,

John Kettler

[ May 27, 2008, 11:56 AM: Message edited by: John Kettler ]

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Just my two cents: A lot of things that can be said about the Tiger II can be said about the other supposedly 'technically superior' German tank, the Panther (and the Jagdpanther, for that matter). Maybe even about the Tiger I, but that was a rather usual tank design when compared to other German tanks at the time the Tiger I showed up on the battlefields...

All Panthers were haunted by technical problems during their entire time of deployment and, in the latter stages of the war, conditions were poor for every German vehicle. Right off the top of my head I'd say at least 2/3 of the Jagdpanthers alone were lost due to technical problems and non-available recovery vehicles. And every other German tank had the same problems, especially those of non-Tiger and non-Panther origin that stressed the base model (or any parts of it) above their originally intended limit, like all later Panzer IV types like the Sturmpanzer IV and the Jagdpanzer IV.

Admitted, the efficiency of an AFV is measured by its mechanical reliability, too - but then, the Panther and most other late-war vehicles fail to pass that test. And in more than one respect. Therefore I'd say that the later German tank types had some specific problems never properly solved which made their use quite complicated already without having to worry about proper combat conditions...

Therefore, I'd never expect a German tank to perform too well at all (because too many things have to be taken into account) and even more so a tank like the Tiger II which obviously made already existing problems for keeping a German tank combat-ready only worse.

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Panthers had teething problems at Kursk, but worked them out and became a fairly reliable weapon system later in the war, and certainly a superior one overall, mechanical issues included.

The same cannot be said for the King Tigers or Jagdpanthers. Both of those were at least available in some numbers by the end of the war, but never enough at any one time to make their spares common items.

Service and spares, fueling, and operationally mobility (rearward, in retreats) were all key requirements of a German tank by 1944, and the Panther and Panzer IVs and StuGs all had enough. More specialized types did not.

The combat performance of King Tigers in the Bulge and in Hungary were mediocre. Sure they were terrors face to face. But they were not at their best pushed hard in attacks, sometimes without sufficient supporting arms, almost always with route difficulties which their great weight made worse, etc. Same for Jagdpanthers in the Bulge, though those at least had a solid record as nearly lone, separated hunters at other times, on defense.

The Panther wasn't at its best in reckless attacks either, and quite a few were lost that way to little purpose in Normandy and in the early Lorraine fighting. But there were enough of them, around long enough, that they got used in all roles - with fluid defensive use their best. And in the east, in numbers, at times when they dominated their opponents.

Only above average weapon systems account for more than their own numbers in enemy losses. Panthers were above average weapons systems, German late war problems with fuel or CSS notwithstanding. They also weren't much more expensive in input terms than plain Panzer IVs or StuGs, and certainly repaid the modest premium they cost.

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This is an extract from the Book 'By Tank Into Normandy' by Stuart Hills, (page 107)

Stuart seved in the Nottinhgham Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry (8th Armoured Brigade)

Meanwhile A Squadron had begun moving up from Fontenay, the

plan being that they would come through us and thrust towards Rauray.

John Semken was Squadron Leader and he had already heard from C

Squadron that there were tanks about, so his gun loader put an AP shell

up the spout, just in case. As they cleared Fontenay, they were suddenly

confronted by an enormous tank coming round the bend in front. It

was hard to khow who was more surprised, but John shrieked, 'Fire,

it's a Hun', and they loosed off about ten rounds into the smoke. As

this cleared away, it was observed that the crew were baling out as small

flames came from inside the tank. It was a Tiger of 12th SS Panzer, the

first Tiger to be captured in Normandy, and made an impressive sight at

close quarters as both its size and the thickness of its armour became

apparent. Although the range had been only sixty yards, not one Sher-

man shell had penetrated that armour. The fire in the Tiger, we discov-

ered, had instead been caused by a shot hitting the side of the driver's

observation visor and showering white-hot splinters into the tank. The

driver had screamed that he had been hit and the commander had oblig-

ingly ordered his crew out.

Then we have this:

Appendix 'E' to

21stArmy Group RAC

Liaison Letter No.2

Extract from a Report to HQ Second Army from Col.A.G.Cole, DD of A

(No. 20 WTSFF)

The extract is of tank actions near RUARAY between 27 Jun. and 1 Jul.

SHERMAN - 75 MM GUNS.

4. Lt. Fearn angaged a PANTHER side on with his 75mm and APC

It was moving about 12mph at 80 yds range and he brewed it up with

one hit through the vertical plate above the back bogie

He saw his Squadron Commander engage a Tiger ( previously

examined by us) on the road. At 120 yds the Tiger was head on.

The 75mm put 3 shots on it and the crew bailed out without firing.

He put in 3 more. The tank brewed up. Four shots had scooped on

front plates.One had taken a piece out of the lower edge of the mantlet

and gone into the tank through the roof,and one had ricocheted off the

track and up into the sponson.

At another Panther he fired 5 shots with HE. The enemy

made off without retaliation.

5. Sgt Dring started out south from FONTENOY LE PESNIL with

his 75mm and fell in with a MK IV which he shot through the drivors

visor. It brewed up and the crew baled out.

Next he fell in with a Tiger at 1000 yds. The Tiger fired whilst Dring

was traversing but missed. Dring then pumped 5 shots in without further

retaliation. The last one hit the drivers periscope and the crew baled out.

(this tank is believed to have been recovered for shipment to the UK.)

Next he came on a Panther at the cross roads, This he got with one shot

with APC in front of sprocket and the crew baled out. Hit at normal and at

about 500yds range. It brewed up

Next he took on a Tiger at 1400 yds just outside Rauray. He fired 6

shots of which 4 hit and the last one brewed it up. Tp. Cmdr. thought he had

missed it and only hit the wall behind. Sjt. Dring's next shot brought the

sparks and the remark "You don't see a brick wall spark like that".

This tank has been seen and is much shot up. It now has one scoop in front

vertical plate, five penetrations in rear, four strikes with no penetrations in rear,

plus a scoop and one plate of engine hatch smashed

Finaly to the east of RAURAY he took on a MK IV at 1200 yds, fired two

HE ranging round and then one AP through the tracks, which went in and

finished it.

Both refer to the Tiger shown in the previous post.

It is Tiger '114' from 1st kp.SS 101

This Tiger was first photographed on June 7th on its way to the front.

SS1011KpTiger114smlinMorgnyJune7194.jpg

the next time we see it is in a film section at the location where it was left when the crew fled.

SS1011KpTiger114Shermancollision-1.jpg

It was then test driven by the CO of Sherwood Rangers

page12vbATBM0007.jpg

ss1011140001.jpg

before being sent to a collection point for enemy armour

rary.jpg

raray3.jpg

Note how 8th Armoured brigade have applied their markings to the rear

raray.jpg

Continued in the next post..........

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Yes, thanks for that.

So the tiger was not rammed at all and the sherman was driven up to it after it was abandoned. What a shame!

Remarkable account of Sgt Dring nailing tanks left right and centre. The first tiger engaged at 1000 yards is abandoned, by the crew, which is very plausible, but then we read this:

Next he took on a Tiger at 1400 yds just outside Rauray. He fired 6

shots of which 4 hit and the last one brewed it up. Tp. Cmdr. thought he had

missed it and only hit the wall behind. Sjt. Dring's next shot brought the

sparks and the remark "You don't see a brick wall spark like that".

This tank has been seen and is much shot up. It now has one scoop in front

vertical plate, five penetrations in rear, four strikes with no penetrations in rear,

plus a scoop and one plate of engine hatch smashed

Was Sgt Dring considered an ace or something? A quick google reveals nothing more about this man.

In CM a a 75mm sherman can not penetrate a Tiger at 1400 yards from any angle.

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