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Panther vs Sherman


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#1 Blue Lightning

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 03:27 AM

Everyone talks "Sherman vs Tiger", there are even documentries to this subject, because after Normandy several Shermans happend to come across some Tiger units. But the real story is Panther V Sherman, since there were far more Panthers made in WWII, and more Panther encounters for the Shermans. This thread is intended to focus on the question: which was best overall?

It is true that the most powerful Sherman, the Firefly, still has a disadvantage against the Panther despite having a slightly better gun. The Panther has better armor and can resist some 17 pounder hits. The Sherman Firefly cannot resist L/70 hits. Other Shermans like the 76mm, had to (for the most part) hit a Panther in the side to destroy it. So the Panther wins, right?

Wait, not so fast...

Not only did the Sherman outnumber the Panther in a big way which we can put aside for now, but Shermans were far more reliable and requried far less maintence than the Panther. Sure the Panther's frontal hull was hard to penetrate, but it is never pointed out that the Panthers tracks were only good for about 500 to 700 miles of travel, whereas the Shermans rubber tracks were good for 2500 miles of travel and were easier to change when they did have to change them out. Shermans started and ran every time, something the Panthers did not do (espicially in the beggining but even later to an extent). In fact the Russian department of armorment told the Russian army: "use captured Stug's and Panzer 4's as they are reliable and we can fix them easily and replace their parts when needed...but Panthers, just use them once and when they break down just leave them. They have bad tranmissions and their engines only last 1,000 miles"

Shermans were easy to repair and had lots of spare parts. Panthers did not. German generals complained about the Panther catching fire easily like Shermans used to in the beginning because of dry ammo stowage (in both cases). But Shermans had corrected theirs to wet stowage. Panthers never did.

Writing in March, 1945, General Patton wrote that his 3rd Army had, as of August 1944, lost 851 Shermans out of 1136 total tank losses, of which 70% had been lost to antitank guns. In exchange, 3rd Army had destroyed 2287 German tanks including 808 Panthers & Tigers of which the majority had been knocked out by US tanks. Patton further asserted that:

"if the 3rd had been equipped with Panthers or Tigers, it could not have made the drive from the Cotentin Peninsula to Rhine, nor could 4th AD have made its drive to Bastogne and eventually Mainz without re-equipping it twice".

The Sherman was a reliable, high endurance machine and a long distance runner. The Panther couldn't even compete.

So in conclution, as good as the panther was one vs one, it did fail in many other areas (that cannot be reflected in the game). I just thought I would point all of this out, and see what others think of my theroy that the Panther, awsome as it is in actual combat, is (overall) not up to the Sherman.

Any thoughts?

#2 Lowes

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 07:16 AM

The Shermans had several advantages that were not immediately apparent upon its first service; in North Africa the Shermans were launched into battle with inexperienced crews with little to no recon preceding the Battalions and Regiments. They were subsequently cut up.

The saga of the "Panther vs Sherman" isn't usually explored past the battlefields of Normandy. Again, circumstance would ensure the advantages the Shermans possessed weren't seen at first. The Normandy terrain favored the heavy German Armor; dense vegetation, coupled with powerful armor and static, unmoving defenses, made the Panther seem like some titan. The attrition-like warfare that dominated the US First Army front until Operation Cobra only goes to enhance the myth of the Panther as some juggernaut.

Your post outlines several advantages the Sherman had

but Shermans were far more reliable and requried far less maintenance than the Panther


Shermans rubber tracks were good for 2500 miles of travel and were easier to change when they did have to change them out.


The Sherman was a reliable, high endurance machine and a long distance runner. The Panther couldn't even compete.


However, you fail to point out some of the tactical advantages a Sherman enjoyed. Chief among them is speed, both mobility and mechanical. The Sherman's LV 75 gun was easy to conceal, the turret had a fast, electrical traverse, and gun-stabilizing technology that was literally half a century ahead of its time (The M1A1 Abrams uses a similar stabilizing platform, barely touched since WWII). This is only compounded by an excellent suspension system.

Was the Panther's suspension system better? You bet. It was also finicky, prone to break-downs, and a nightmare for logistics - so if the suspension was shot, it was shot. Point Sherman.

Despite all the pre-war doctrine developed by the Germans about a mechanized, mobile force, the Panther was a contradiction. It flew in the face of everything the Germans wanted out of Mobile warfare; it stretched logistics to the limit and it was (as you stated) ill-suited for long-dashes; key to such open mobile warfare.

The Sherman's advantages would shine in the First Army's hook towards Falaise and the Third Army's mad dash towards Metz. The German Army could simply not keep up; the Germans could not retreat fast enough, and when it came to the counter-attack at Arracourt, the Panther's were made fools of time and time again in the open terrain that allowed for the fast, stable Shermans to outflank, gain key terrain (and cover) and, when the situation demanded it, retreat in a speedy and timely fashion.

Great read :) very good points brought up.
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#3 Hans Ludwig

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 08:26 AM

As an ex M1A1/Sep D/Block-D/M1A2 mechanic, the gun stabilizer is called a gyro stabilizer. If I remember correctly, it has its roots from the gyroscope used on ships many moons ago. It was then used in Hollywood motion cameras during the mid 30s. I have no doubt it had other applications and variants within other industries during or before this time frame.

Oh, and it was also used in the Nordens bombsight.

#4 Doggzillen

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 09:05 AM

When it comes to moving tanks, dont forget that the Germans used trains extensively. Thats another point for the Sherman, as it still performed better, even without a train to help them out. There are quite a few stories out there about how the Germans had to drag their broken down vehicles onto the train because they were destroyed by the Russia mud. Otto Carius has a few examples of this in his book.

I think the real issue is that we (the US) didnt make anything unless we could guarantee it would work properly. The quality of the materials was one of the reasons, we werent going to produce something unless we had the alloys to do so correctly.
This is one of the reasons why the Sherman is superior to the T-34, the alloys used were exceptionally better. Nearly twice the resistant to a given enemy weapon, and far more reliable mechanical components.
Its a good thing the Germans didnt have the alloys they needed, because that would have made their tanks quite mind-blowing.

#5 Pantokrator

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 09:19 AM

"The Sherman's LV 75 gun was easy to conceal, the turret had a fast, electrical traverse, and gun-stabilizing technology that was literally half a century ahead of its time"
easy to conceal? What do you mean?
Gyro stabiliser was used f.e. in soviet T54 tank, which wasn't really introduced "half century later".
And remember it was single axis only.

@Doggzillen: you are absolutely right. I love when people discuss f.e. "german vs american planes in WW2" and then come to the conclusion that late-war german engineering sucked. There's a saying in Poland "you can't make a whip out of sh*t" (OK, this isn't really an accurate translation) and this nicely refers to german lack of alloys and resources in the later war. They had to use weaker materials and simplier technologies and this resulted in inferior planes. But if germans had those resources, they would probably have made planes just as good as american. And same goes to the tanks - its quite hard to think about installing gyro stabilisers and other novelties on tanks, when there's a lack of quality steel, alloys, fuel, bearings etc. etc.

#6 Blue Lightning

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 01:56 PM

Hey, this thread isnt making light of German engineering, quite the contrary; it is amazing what Germany could do with the alloys they had availible, and without proper testing of vehicles because of the time demands of a terrible war. All this considered, the German tanks were certainly a success, if only on a short term basis.

In a documentry Sherman crew's were asked what tank would they rather be in, a Tiger or Sherman. They all answered "Tiger" of course. Most likley (If the tiger was substituted by the panther) they would of answered "Panther". But these are men that went through a very tramatic situation...they went up against a well prepared line of Tigers at Goodwood and were severley mauled. In a one vs one battle, of course the heavier more well amored tank would be chosen by any crew. This qutoe is a good example:

The saga of the "Panther vs Sherman" isn't usually explored past the battlefields of Normandy. Again, circumstance would ensure the advantages the Shermans possessed weren't seen at first. The Normandy terrain favored the heavy German Armor; dense vegetation, coupled with powerful armor and static, unmoving defenses, made the Panther seem like some titan.

Exactly. But ask a crew which tank they would want in the long term, carefully explaining what that means, and I bet they choose the Sherman.

Firstly, in "the long term" chances are slim they even see a Tiger, although a Panther is much more likley to be seen. But if the men take into consideration (for the Panthers) how useless a broken down tank is in the middle of nowhere, or how hard it is to replace 1 ton tracks in the middle of a field under battle conditions, or trying to find spare parts when there are none: then mabye they would of chosen the Sherman. Again, it is easy to pick a tank in a one-v-one battle...just go for the one with the better armor/gun. But the question of the "long haul" changes the picture quite dramatically.

In my opinion Germany would of been better off not making Tigers and Panthers, instead doubling efforts on Stugs and Panzer IV's which were far more reliable and used much less fuel. But that is for another disscussion. The Panther has been called the best medium tank of WWII. I disagree. It would be the T-34 or Sherman in my opinion.

Probebly I would pick the Sherman since the T34 (despite it's speed and great bad weather abilities) also had some breakdown issues and poor overall construction that got worse as the war went on. I think T-34 is sensationalized because it was a juggernaut that Germany didnt expect for it's first several weeks of operations, until German tactics slowed it down. T-34 did help stop the Germans for the first time (along with sub zero weather) and are seen as the tank that changed the momentium in WWII. And so many T-34's were made which really caused Germany problems in the east. But for the long term, for reliabilty and ease of maintainence coupled with effective fighting abilities, the Sherman would be my choice of the best tank in WWII. Not one vs one...but for the "long term".

Great read :) very good points brought up.

Thanks, you make very good points as well. :) As have others

When it comes to moving tanks, dont forget that the Germans used trains extensively. Thats another point for the Sherman, as it still performed better, even without a train to help them out.

Good point.

#7 Masterson

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 02:47 PM

People almost never consider producability in terms of military vehicles. When judging a tank (or any plane or any ship), I would consider producability worth at least 50% of my judgement or score. It really does not matter if you have a fantastic device if you cannot produce it to great extent. The 50,000 Shermans produced would probably agree.
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#8 Hans Ludwig

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 03:22 PM

People almost never consider producability in terms of military vehicles. When judging a tank (or any plane or any ship), I would consider producability worth at least 50% of my judgement or score. It really does not matter if you have a fantastic device if you cannot produce it to great extent. The 50,000 Shermans produced would probably agree.


Unfortunately you have fallen for the fallacy known as quantity. If you read up on German/Austro-Hungary history, you would understand why quality was chosen over quantity. It was chosen because (1) Germany didn't have the natural resources to sustain such a large army (large armies are nothing more than a conscription force); (2) no terrain exist within its borders to create an effective defense (force to space ratio); (3) and its very cost effective to create a leaner, smarter army (force multiplyer).

I suggest you start reading up on German Unification, the works of von Clausewitz and von Seeckt and what is termed as economics of scale within the social science known as economics. Oh, and if you look at most of the battles on the Eastern Front, you will notice that while the Russians had more material (1943+), the Germans all the way up to 45' had impressive kill ratios they inflicted on the Russians.

"Mass becomes immobile; it cannot manoeuvre and therefore cannot win victories. It can only crush by sheer weight" - Hans von Seeckt

Lastly, this should have gone into the "Historical" section of the forums.

#9 Dreek

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 03:28 PM

Unfortunately you have fallen for the fallacy known as quantity. If you read up on German/Austro-Hungary history, you would understand why quality was chosen over quantity. It was chosen because (1) Germany didn't have the natural resources to sustain such a large army (large armies are nothing more than a conscription force); (2) no terrain exist within its borders to create an effective defense (force to space ratio); (3) and its very cost effective to create a leaner, smarter army (force multiplyer).

I suggest you start reading upon German Unification, the works of von Clausewitz and von Seeckt and what is termed as economics of scale within the social science known as economics. Oh, and if you look at most of the battles on the Eastern Front, you will notice that while the Russians had more material (1943+), the Germans all the way up to 45' had impressive kill ratios they inflicted on the Russians.

"Mass becomes immobile; it cannot manoeuvre and therefore cannot win victories. It can only crush by sheer weight" - Hans von Seeckt


Alas Hans "The proof is in the pudding"- Bill Cosby? :P as displayed on both fronts.

Just saying :roll:
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#10 Hans Ludwig

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 04:30 PM

as displayed on both fronts.

Just saying :roll:


Could you be just a little more vague?

#11 Dreek

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 05:04 PM

Could you be just a little more vague?


My apologizes sir. Allow me clarify.

VICTORY!
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#12 Alvin Fuchs

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 05:17 PM

He's referring to the "Fighting-The-Entire-World" variety of pudding, Hans.
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#13 Lowes

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 05:47 PM

People almost never consider producability in terms of military vehicles. When judging a tank (or any plane or any ship), I would consider producability worth at least 50% of my judgement or score. It really does not matter if you have a fantastic device if you cannot produce it to great extent. The 50,000 Shermans produced would probably agree.


Unfortunately you have fallen for the fallacy known as quantity. If you read up on German/Austro-Hungary history, you would understand why quality was chosen over quantity. It was chosen because (1) Germany didn't have the natural resources to sustain such a large army (large armies are nothing more than a conscription force); (2) no terrain exist within its borders to create an effective defense (force to space ratio); (3) and its very cost effective to create a leaner, smarter army (force multiplyer).

I suggest you start reading up on German Unification, the works of von Clausewitz and von Seeckt and what is termed as economics of scale within the social science known as economics. Oh, and if you look at most of the battles on the Eastern Front, you will notice that while the Russians had more material (1943+), the Germans all the way up to 45' had impressive kill ratios they inflicted on the Russians.

"Mass becomes immobile; it cannot manoeuvre and therefore cannot win victories. It can only crush by sheer weight" - Hans von Seeckt

Lastly, this should have gone into the "Historical" section of the forums.


Yes, except Von Clausewitz, Seeckt (and to an extent, Moeltke) all agreed that Germany should not be mired in a conflict for longer then 8 weeks for the exact reason of supply and Germany's distinct inability to maintain it.

If you study the early campaigns of Germany, you'll notice that none of them last longer then 6 weeks. It took France 6 weeks to fall, and even in such a short span of time the (modest) Panzer forces were already suffering from extreme exhaustion amongst both men and material.

Then along comes a spider, named Operation Barbarossa. They didn't "Chose" quality over quantity; there was no choice. The most brilliant German military minds were intimately familiar with the fact that Germany would most likely not win a war if it dragged on past that crucial time frame they outline.

Oh wait, look, it turns out they were right. Twice.

http://en.wikipedia....i/World_War_One
http://en.wikipedia....ki/World_war_II

Oh Moletke, you genius you.

He was perhaps the first to explicitly state that any "offensive action" waged by Germany would have to be short, violent, and decisive and that if the enemy attempted to continue hostilities, it would be in Germany's best interest to sue for peace while it was still in a position to dictate terms. Essentially a victory that lacked decisiveness was as good as a defeat to him.

So what if the Panthers had absolutely mindnumbing kill to death ratios? It did them little good in the end because whatever victories they won, they lacked any decision. Decision is brought about by maneuver, and the original poster has already made it very clear the Panthers were mechanically speaking, incapable of doing this for the required amount of time.
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#14 Masterson

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 08:00 PM

Exactly. Having fewer forces can be offset by being in battle for a shorter period of time. That is why the US adopted for a blitzkrieg tactic in Iraq 2003 invasion, instead of a massive force like Desert Storm (I am not going into politics I am just talking tactics). This was mostly because the Abrams tank needed large amounts of fuel, allowing for a smaller force and a deeper thrust.

In a battle of attrition however, numbers are the game. Normandy was a battle of attrition, each side trying to pour as many resources into the from (Allies trying to reinforce an unstable hold, Axis trying to push them out).

Take aircraft for example. Germany had jet fighters yes? Did they matter much? No. Why? Not enough numbers.

You cite the Eastern front. How did the Russians continue to take ground and win battles despite appalling losses, even in battles they won? Numbers.
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#15 Blue Lightning

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 08:39 PM

It's not just numbers though, I think that is where many lose sight of the more important factor: durability, reliability and ease of maintainence. That is what I was trying to say in the OP. The durability and reliabilty factors can be much more important than sheer numbers.

You mention the jet planes had no effect. You say it is because there wasnt enough numbers. Part of the reason for the lack of numbers is precisley because the jet engines had to be scrapped after just ten hours of use. Again, durability and low maintainence can be the biggest factors.

#16 Hans Ludwig

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 12:07 AM

You cite the Eastern front. How did the Russians continue to take ground and win battles despite appalling losses, even in battles they won? Numbers.


That's where you need to learn the Geography that Army Groups North, Center and South worked in.

Why were the Spartans able to defeat a larger fighting force (Persian army)?

#17 Doggzillen

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 11:28 AM

I probably should have said this earlier, but we have to keep in mind that the Germans were trying to squeeze waay too much performance out of parts that were inferior to their allied counterparts. Someone previously posted something a Sherman crewman said about the Panther transmission in comparison to the Panther. The crewman pretty much said the Panther was using a car transmission compared to the huge transmission of the Sherman.
They also were squeezing 700hp out of an engine that would have been rated to 575hp if the Ford GAA was scaled up from 18L to 23L of the Panther's Mayback HL230.
The thing is, the HL230 weighs WAAY more than the GAA for the same HP. I dont know if the stats include transmission on the HL230, as it does say "all accessories". Can someone clear up this weight issue, please?

#18 Blueyy

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 12:57 PM

Bit of an unrelated question, but both tanks were often seen with ad-hoc up armouring. how effective was it?

Edit : I wad thinking more about spare track links and road wheels being hung around the turret, or glacias on the Sherman

#19 Blue Lightning

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 01:15 PM

Bit of an unrelated question, but both tanks were often seen with ad-hoc up armouring. how effective was it?

I'm not aware of any up-armoring of the Panther, as it's weight was already straining it's weak transmission and engine as it was. Perhaps some Panther crews might of added some armor to the turrets or sides? I don't know. Mabye someone else can shed some light on that. I doubt the Germans would of needed to upgrade the Panthers frontal hull, since it was impervious to just about any incoming round.

The Sherman was up-armored in the form of the "Jumbo", in which 254 units were produced. An additional 100 units made by Patton called "Expediant Jumbo's" were made, bringing the total to 354 Jumbo units produced. Patton's "Expediant Jumbo's" were not armored up exactly the same as regular jumbos, but were roughly close.

The Jumbo was very successful, but were initially made to support infantry in 1944, sporting only a 75mm gun. With 178mm of armored turret (including manlet) plus 102mm sloped frontal hull equivilant to 179mm of protection, the Jumbo could resist the 75mm L/48 of the StuG and Panzer IV at any range, and the Tiger's 88mm gun past 300 yards. It resisted the Panthers gun past 500 yards out. But the Jumbo's speed was reduced to 22 MPH (from about 28), and it did strain the transmission, although the Sherman tranny did hold up well because of it's strength.

The biggest negative factor about the jumbo was the weight to ground pressure ratio on it's skinny tracks. Jumbo's could sink in the slightest damp ground which was a problem initially. Duckbills were added to the tracks as a stop-gap measure to widen the tracks, making the Jumbo a little more buoyant on softer ground. Later on, the Jumbos' tracks got an upgrade in width (as did all Shermans I think). Did the extra wieght cause maintainence problems? I don't know, but logic would tell me that the jumbo would need more maintainence because of the weight added. Mabye someone here knows more about that. I do know that the tracks couldnt last as long with the extra weight, but Sherman tracks were fairly easy to replace.

In 1945, about 100 of the Jumbo's guns were upgraded to take the 76mm L/54 gun for tank hunting. Overall the Jumbo's were a success, and it boggles me why they didnt make many more of them.

Some Sherman crews up-armored their own tanks with what became known as "hillbilly armor". It was the process of a crew welding any scrap metal they could find onto the front of the vehicle. I do not know how those Shermans faired, but can imagine that they might have saved some lives. Perhaps someone else can shed some light on the hillbilly process, however I doubt any statistics were kept on Hillbilly Shermans.

I also know that Americans used captured Panthers against the Germans. These were known as "Cukoo Panthers". I have no idea how these Cukoo's were maintained. Did the Americans drive them until they broke down, and just leave them? Or did the Americans actually fix broken Cukoo's?

(most of the editing done because of my atrocias spelling)

#20 Doggzillen

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 02:06 PM

how thick are the tracks they put on the side of the turret? Those things arent paper, they look to be a good 2cm thick.




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