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T34/85 vs. 3 King Tigers


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And it's twue, it's twue!

http://warandgame.blogspot.com/2009/06/t-34-85-versus-german-king-tiger.html

One of the most memorable tank engagements of the war occurred towards the end of the Lvov-Sandomierz offensive in Poland. On the evening of 11 August 1944, Lt. Aleksandr P. Oskin of the 53rd Guards Fastov Tank Brigade (6th Guards Tank Corps) was ordered to patrol the Polish village of Ogledow where he was expected to link up with the unit's 2nd Battalion. [...] On reaching the village, no friendly tanks were located, and German troops were approaching the opposite end of the town. [...] A German tank column entered Ogledow that evening and shot it up, but halted after dark. Although Oskin did not know it at the time, the tank unit was a platoon from spzAbt 501, the first German tank unit on the Eastern Front with Hitler's latest 'wonder weapon', the new King Tiger heavy tank.

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Try replicating that little encounter in CM, result one very dead T-34 and the paint a little bit chipped on one of the King Tigers. I really do hope the spotting in CM2 will highlight the difficulty of locating stationary targets whilst in a moving vehicle. Please can we have realistic depictions of dust from shell bursts/impacts, muzzle blasts and moving vehicles. I never bought Shockforce, not really interested enough, but how are these issues modelled?

Just to show you what I mean

Is this in anyway reproduced?

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The unit had disembarked earlier at Kielce with 45 King Tigers but by the time it had reac.hed the vicinity of Ogledow on the evening of 11 August 1944, it was down to only eight tanks. The rest had broken down during the 45 km road march, mainly due to reduction gear failures.

Now that is a great tribute to German engineering : )

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I find it difficult to believe that the designers and engineers on the KT project didn't know about this before the unit went into the front line. Given that, is it a case of those on high not understanding or caring about the unreliability (for power political reasons they may not have been able to come at further delays to deployment), or is it a lack of quality in the manufacturing process for the gearbox only?

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Given that, is it a case of those on high not understanding or caring about the unreliability (for power political reasons they may not have been able to come at further delays to deployment), or is it a lack of quality in the manufacturing process for the gearbox only?

I suspect its more of the former. By the time the KT was fielded Germany was in a desperate situation, with AG center all but wiped out and the Russians pushing deep into Poland. That had to have led to hasty decisions and deployments.

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I am not sure that I agree with that. Look at the performance of a 'standard' panzer division in 1943. At Kursk after a long rest and refit, the 6th Panzer had 105 tanks on its books. Day one of the battle (in which it failed to do any fighting at all due to a blown bridge) the total of runners was down to 82, Day Two of the battle after a day spent crossing the river behind their own lines and a small skirmish, they are down to about 75. At any one time the unit would have had a number of vehicles cycling in and out of the workshops and on any long march a number of tanks would drop out due to defects as minor as a failure of a water pump, electrical failure, etc. In 1940 British tank regiments were lucky if half the tanks made it on a 30 mile march, while the halt and the lame caught up later.

Likewise look at the problems with the new Panther at Kursk yet this went on to be a very reliable tank.

Just a thought.

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The King Tiger used the engine from the Panther. The Panther engine was designed for a 40 ton tank, and could produce 690 horsepower at 3000 rpms. In practice the Panther was 45 tons, not 40. Running at full RPMs led to early failure of the final drive - about 5% failed within 100 km and 90% failed after 1500 km in action.

A governor was added to the Panther engine to reduce its max RPMs to 2500 to address this and it basically did so, at some cost to top speed and acceleration. At 3000 RPM the hp to weight for the Panther was 16, at the governed 2500 it was still a respectable 13. (For an idea just how un-peppy tanks are, my bland Subaru forester ranks 105 on that metric). In practice the Panther drove around in 3rd gear if offroad, making about 8 miles per hour.

Panthers failed because the gears transmitting power from the engine to the tracks couldn't take it. The spokes between the gears could simply shred off. If the tracks were caught and power applied trying to free the vehicle, the smaller gears could be unseated completely, as well. They also had fuel system problems and oil pressure problems, to be sure.

The King Tiger used the same engine and drive train, but weighed 70 tons. Post production testing was skipped completely to get them into the field. You have an 70 ton vehicle with a hp to weight ratio starting at 10, if you run the engine at 3000 RPMs. That was already too high for the Panther. If you run the engine slower you cut the power proportionally, of course. If governed under 2500 RPM, you get a max output of 8 hp per ton, half what the Panther was meant to have.

Given the weight difference, for any given speed the King Tiger had to run the same engine much, much hotter. The drive wheel isn't any bigger. The changed power ratio required has to all translate into a larger gear-ratio step-down from the RPMs of the engine to the road-speed of the tank. You are effectively always racing the engine in low gear, to get the bloody thing to move at all.

And you still get to channel all that force through the same tiny gear teeth or it never leaves the engine.

Running along smooth asphalt at 5 mph that isn't much of a problem. When you hit the continuous hard rut or giant sandpile that passes for a road in rural Poland of that era, on the other hand, every change in the speed of the tank with the speed of the engine constant (as the surface varies, your friction varies etc) is a jarring blow to the reduction gearing.

The US considered the Pershing a broken tank until the engine was upgraded in the Patton. The Pershing was 46 tons with a hp to weight of 12. By American standards it was considered crippled in Korean hill-country. The Patton went up to an 800 hp engine with 44 ton weight to fix this - that is a 18 hp per ton ratio. The T-34/85 also had 18 hp per ton. A modern M-1 of the weight of a King Tiger uses a 1500 hp engine...

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This article suggests that the King Tiger was a mobile (just) pillbox with flawed armour.

http://www.battlefield.ru/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=282&Itemid=123〈=en

To add to Jason's points, about the operating liabilities of the tank's under-powered power-pack and weak drive train, one also has to add the fact that it's 860 litre fuel tank would give it a road range of some 110km and a cross country range of 80km. Just what you want when you are suffering crippling fuel shortages.

Finally add to the poor reliability and operational mobility a weight that threatened to collapse bridges and a time consuming train/detrain procedure and you really have a complete porker of a weapons system. In fact the fearsome reputation of the King Tiger is a triumph of the post-war, politically motivated revisionist historians, a purse from a sow's ear indeed!

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But there is more to tank mobility than power to weight ratio. The Churchill, for example, having very modest figures, yet being able to deal with unkind terrain that would defeat other tanks.

MMM... Ground Pressure. The size and length of the tracks is also a significant portion of cross country mobility.

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It isn't just power to weight. The point is the entire system was engineered for 40 tons, and then saddled with 70. The wonder isn't that they broke down, it is that they ever went anywhere.

Did the Tiger 1 have a different power train? I'm guessing all these units were going into new Tiger 1 hulls and providing repair stock - it seems an odd decision to manufacture for unreliability, particularly for German engineers.

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The first few Tiger Is used a 21 liter version of the same engine, all the later models had a marginally improved 24 liter version with 700 hp. It was 56 tons. This gave it lower mobility than the Panther but more than the Tiger II by a long way. It also had problems with weight, final drive failures, limited action radius etc.

They made up for it by lavishing attention on them and limiting their time in action (or employing active companies while rotating others out of action etc). Similar horror stories of losses to mechanical failure on road marches can be found for Tiger Is, notably in Italy (hills and low power to weight mix poorly). The typical experience of a Tiger unit in action was a fall to 50% or less operational in the first few days in action, followed by a slow bleed of runners as vehicles cycled into and out of repair. (The Germans were very slow to TWO a Tiger, but whenever the front moved a long way they evaporate).

People sometimes try to cite theater-wide readiness numbers to defend the reliability of the heavies, but it is a tendentious argument. The heavies were deliberately left out of action as entire units to get the extra maintenance time needed to keep that number up. Tank-days in action were low for the deployed numbers, unavoidably so. The same folks typically cite the high portion of Tigers lost to "destroyed by crew" results as evidence of their tactical greatness. (In fact those nearly always involve battle damage plus moving fronts).

The Tiger I was an effective weapons system despite its operational difficulties, because it was so ascendent in gun and armor terms in its heyday in 1943. The Panther was an effective weapons system once its teething problems were worked out, because its mobility was more acceptable, it was produced in much greater numbers, and it was still gun and front-armor dominant well into 1944.

But of all of them, only the Panther could have true operational impact. The heavies were too few in number and too short-legged, in both radius of action and battle lifetime as runners (not in the depots), to matter very much up at the army scale.

(Consider the Ur-myth of killer Tigers at Kursk. There were all of 4 of them still in running order for Prokhorovka).

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wiki also says that the Churchill was a better tank than the Sherman in jungle! According to the Australian Army apparently.

The Churchill was just a smidge shorter than the Tiger II surprising given the way they look. The Churchill could also swivel in its own length and if I recall correctly a trick not open to many tanks - particulalry the Sherman. So for going up goat tracks and negotiating tight terrain a very useful ability.

Possibly because the design brief was originally centred on trench warfare the ability to follow a zig-zag trech system, and not to bog came to the fore.

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It looks like the fact it used 2 engines and (effectively) two gearboxes gave it an advantage in mechanical reliability - that and the weight, and despite having twice as many engines to go wrong at the wrong time. Vauxhaul, eh? When did they go under?

Wiki sez the design brief recognised the lack of a need to fight trench warfare

With France conquered, the scenario of trench warfare in Northern Europe was no longer applicable and the design was revised by Dr. H.E. Merritt[3], director of Tank Design at Woolwich Arsenal, based on the combat witnessed in Poland and France. These new specifications, for the A22 or Infantry Tank Mark IV, were given to Vauxhall in June 1940.[4]

JasonC, thanks for the info - and the reasoning.

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Costard - talk about cherry-picking the article!!!!!!

Initially specified prior to the outbreak of the Second World War the (General Staff designation) A20 was to be the replacement for the Matilda II and Valentine infantry tanks. In accordance with British Infantry Tank doctrine and based on the expected needs of World War I style trench warfare, the tank was required to be capable of navigating shell-cratered ground, demolishing infantry obstacles (such as barbed wire) and attacking fixed enemy defences; for these purposes, great speed and heavy armament was not required.

The task of design and construction of the A20 was given to Harland and Wolff who completed four prototypes by June 1940. The vehicle was armed with two 2-pounder guns each located in a side sponson and plans existed for an additional third gun in a central turret. Even by this point the sponson idea had fallen out of favour for turret and hull mounted guns.[2] The A20 designs were short-lived however, as at roughly the same time the emergency evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk occurred. With France conquered, the scenario of trench warfare in Northern Europe was no longer applicable and the design was revised by Dr. H.E. Merritt[3], director of Tank Design at Woolwich Arsenal, based on the combat witnessed in Poland and France. These new specifications, for the A22 or Infantry Tank Mark IV, were given to Vauxhall in June 1940.[4]

The revision was not to the basic tank shape but to the armament - so it was still fundamentally as I quoted in terms of its terrain climbing abilities being a function of its trench fighting design.

Here is some more detail:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=t90gLiRrPDcC&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4&dq=a20+harland+and+wolff+tank+design&source=bl&ots=GotZSVDznI&sig=FnZViiaTCSEEr9AxuTP-bXSK70w&hl=en&ei=WOQ0SpChE9zKjAe8wqmFCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3#PPA3,M1

: )

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Try replicating that little encounter in CM, result one very dead T-34 and the paint a little bit chipped on one of the King Tigers.

Actually, this situation was recreated in a scenario called HF Death Match, and was quite playable and very fun. I don't recall who designed it (although if I were to venture a guess MAD RUSSIAN's name would pop up first), but it was a very fun — and winnable, from the Soviet POV — situation. It was designed to be played as Soviets vs German AI, but I have also played it as Head-to Head, and it works pretty good that way too.

If I recall correctly, the scenario is not available at The Scenario Depot II as a regular upload; however, it looks as if it can be found in the Scenario Pack "SORTED_SCENARIOS_14_SUMMER_44_PHILIPPE.ZIP" that was rescued from CMMODS by Der Alte Fritz . . . look for "Death Match.cme" . . . I'm pretty sure that is the correct situation.

Mark

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That's great, because when I positioned a hidden T-34, parallel to a road-bound, buttoned column of fast moving King Tigers the following happened. Although the King Tigers had 50 metre arcs to the front and the T-34 was in a cornfield (later a patch of scattered trees) at 200m, the King Tigers automatically spotted the T-34, then the dance began.

The KT's start to turn towards the T-34, who, although a veteran crew, paused to fire, obviously for effect!

By the time the gunner had fired the 85m APCR round the angle was too acute and the round would invariably go skyward (one out of ten resulted in a damaged or, shock horror a destroyed tank)

The final movement, the T-34 is blown to pieces by at least three 88mm L71 rounds.

Ken Tout, in his excellent "Tank" book, recalls a similar piece of big cat execution, with a Firefly replacing the T-34-85 and Tigers replacing King Tigers. All the same conditions apply, an ambush conducted at close range, the Tigers, unable to spot their tormentor due to the smoke and dust, caused by the engagement, dying.

So, given CM is incapable of properly simulating camouflaged AFV's, or dust/debris thrown up from impacts or has only a rudimentary simulation of smoke obscuration, and given these were crucial factors in the successful ambush how can the encounter be recreated. Sure, designing a map that allows keyhole shooting might result in a similar result but that was not my point, you cannot simulate the encounter with the CM engine, without radically changing the parameters of the encounter. Now, as seems obligatory with posters to this forum, I must now issue the standard caveat that this is not an explicit criticism of the game but a reflection on the age of the product and limitations of the operating system that powers the simulation. Lets hope in CM2 we can have accurate representations of all these factors that made the encounter possible.

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T'was an interesting suggestion DT so I fired up a CMAK scenario, four Tigers v's one Wolverine (could not select a Firefly). The scenario worked when the Wolverine had a little tile of scattered woods in which to hide in, the parameters were July, very dry and dirt ground. The results were impressive, the Tigers churned up dust clouds the Wolverine was unspotted and KO'd the first Tiger, the second collided with the first and was dispatched, the third spotted and fired back..but missed and had a damaged gun. Alas, number four had woken up and blew the Wolverine into pieces. The 3 inch gun on the Wolverine needed several hits to kill the Tigers, even side on and a 17 pounder would kill quicker, perhaps allowing all four Tigers to be KO'd.

More satisfactory a result, so once again CMAK shows its superiority, especially with the representation of dust and its effects on accuracy.

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T'was an interesting suggestion DT so I fired up a CMAK scenario, four Tigers v's one Wolverine (could not select a Firefly).

Change the date to allow for purchase of 'fly, then change back to original (or keep to first date to ensure a supply of T rounds).

BTW, I played the CMBB version (yes, it is a Mad Russian design) and achieved the desired kill quota. One thing I did do is move into cover after the first shot. The AI lacks situational awareness, so once the T34/85 is out of LOS the KTs resume their parade as though nothing happened. Pop back out to plink another KT, scoot behind cover, rinse-repeat.

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Buq-Buq,

You are exactly right. I found that scenario you mentioned right where you said it would be. It is called Deathmatch, and the scenario designer is Mad Russian.

It was a lot of fun to play. You have to ramp up the AI, and at +2 for the AI the battle was quite challenging. Usually your T-34/85 gets toasted after killing one King Tiger. I managed to get two King Tigers on one playing, but got blasted after that. The infantry has to come in to save the day.

I had one playing where my T-34/85 finally managed to knock out all three King Tigers. It was quite the battle. There was a lot of hide-and-go-seek, plenty of changing positions, and creeping up to the edge of buildings to get the right shot. It was lots of fun playing it. I'd highly recommend it.

Heinrich505

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