Mudcat Café message #1603978 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #86221   Message #1603978
Posted By: Little Hawk
13-Nov-05 - 04:17 PM
Thread Name: BS: WMDs WERE found in Iraq!
Subject: RE: BS: WMDs WERE found in Iraq!
Careful, Don...you gotta check your reference books. You are not accurate in much of what you say regarding German equipment, etc...

There were NO German Tiger tanks built between 1935 and 1938, and none with 88mm guns either. The Germans were equipped with the following types of tanks when the Battle of france occurred:

Panzer I - a very small tank that mounted a machine gun. These proved almost useless except for reconaissance or for engaging infantry. They were being phased out after the conclusion of the Polish campaign, but a few were still in use against the French and English.

Panzer II - a rather small scout tank with a machine gun and a 20 mm cannon. Reasonably good general purpose light tank, but outclassed
by most French and English tanks.

Panzer 35T - a rather good Czech medium tank, with a 37 mm gun, I think. It was roughly comparable to a Panzer III.

Panzer 38T - a similar, but more advanced Czech medium tank, again with a 37 mm gun. Good vehicle for the time.

(You see, the Czechs did indeed have tanks, plenty of them, and good tanks in 1938. The Germans put those same tanks heavily to use in Poland, in France and the Low Countries, in Russia, the Balkans, and North Africa. Your assertion that the Czechs had "mostly horses as cavalry" is not correct. The Czechs did have some horse cavalry, yes. So did the Germans, the Poles, the Russians, the Italians...hell, almost every did. Did you know that the Poles ALSO had a very good tank in 1939? It was called the 7TP, and it was pretty much the equal of most German tanks of the time. The Poles had relatively few of those tanks, however, and German air superiority proved well able to deal with them.)

(The Czechs also had the 88 mm flak gun in 1938...that's where the Germans got it! It was of Czech manufacture. It is estimated that more Allied personnel were killed by the 88mm in 1939-45 gun than by any other comparable heavy weapon.)

Panzer III - a darned good medium tank for 1940, it usually mounted a 37 mm gun, which was typical at that time. It performed excellently, and went on to be the main tank in further campaigns in the Balkans and in Russia. It was secondary in armour and fighting power to the French Char I Bis heavy tank and the British Matilda. The French Char I Bis was probably the most formidable tank in the world in 1940, with the possible exception of the Russian KV-1 tanks of the same time period.

Panzer IV - Another darned good medium tank. In 1940 it was armed as an assault vehicle, with a short-barrelled 75 mm gun. This was a gun intended to fire mostly high explosive rounds against infantry and fortifications, which it was very good at. The short barrel meant a low velocity shell, which meant it wasn't so suitable for firing armour-piercing rounds, though it could, theoretically.

The Germans DID have some 88 mm guns in 1940. Flak guns. They were the World's most deadly gun of that type at the time, and could be towed behind a halftrack and set up. These were the guns that stopped British Matilda tanks in a British counterattack at Arras, I believe it was. The Matilda was so heavily armoured that virtually nothing but an 88 mm gun could knock it out. German tanks were almost helpless against Matildas at the time. The Germans were versatile enough that they quickly realized that a flak gun could be used as an antitank gun, and they did so. This enabled them to win many, many battles in Europe and North Africa.

The first German Tiger tanks, mounting this same 88 mm gun, did not appear in combat until 1942, when the Tiger I was introduced. It was a response to the much heavier Russian tanks that the Germans had encountered in Russia...namely the T-34 and the KV-1 and KV-2. Those tanks were much tougher than their German counterparts, until the Tiger I arrived on the battlefield.

Teribus is entirely correct that the British and French outnumbered the Germans in tanks in 1940 and had superior tanks on the whole. They did indeed. They had Somua 35's, Char I Bis, and Matilda tanks that were superior to German tanks. What they did not have was a superior air force, and most of all they did not have a modern strategy to match the German blitzkrieg tactics. They were totally outthought by the Germans.

The Germans used far superior tactics of breakthrough and encirclement, and they coordinated their air force with their ground forces in a far more efficient way. That proved decisive. They also massed their tanks in heavy forces for breakthrough purposes, while the French, on the whole, misused the excellent tanks they had by spreading them around piecemeal like mobile artillery.

On paper, France had the best-equipped ground force in western Europe in 1940. It was crippled by using World War I tactical thinking, and by being very poorly organized. They also had no radar to provide early warning. That allowed intial German air attacks to be very effective.

England HAD good radar, and that was the crucial factor in their ability to stave off the Luftwaffe in 1940. You say that the British won the Battle of Britain through superior "skill and determination". I doubt that. My impression is that the Germans and British were equally skillful at the time. In fact the German fighter corps was probably MORE skillful in the initial stages, because they had an elite group of fighter pilots with plenty of prior experience fighting over Spain, Poland, the Low Countries, and France. Those pilots generally racked up higher kill scores than their British counterparts at the time.

The Germans faced numerous disadvantages over England.

1. Their Messerschmitt 109s had too short a combat range to penetrate deeply into the UK or to stay there very long once in combat. They could barely reach as far as over London. This proved to be an insoluble problem for the Germans, as their bombers desperately needed those Me 109s to protect them.

2. The other German fighter, the Me 110 twin-engine plane, proved too unmaneuverable to dogfight Spitfires and Hurricanes. It was a dead duck over England. This came as a real shock to the Germans.

3. The famed Stukas were likewise dead ducks over England. They were very easy to shoot down with a modern fighter. They could only survive under conditions of air superiority, and the Germans were never able to achieve that over England.

4. The larger German bombers were all good machines, but they needed fighter escort. As mentioned before, the Me 109s were greatly limited in their escort ability, due to their short range.

5. The British radar allowed them to gauge an appropriate response to each situation...avoid if the odds are too high...pounce when the odds are good. The Germans didn't have that luxury. They were flying blind.

6. Every German pilot who parachuted over England became a prisoner. Every British pilot who parachuted got to fight again. Some pilots parachuted many times, and got to fight again. A trained pilot is far more valuable than an airplane.

7. The Germans kept changing their minds about what objective to go after. First they went after channel shipping. Then they had a brief go at knocking out the radar stations (unsuccessful for the most part). Then they decided to go after RAF airfields and airplane factories (the airfields in particular...that was the right decision).

8. Then Hitler got mad because the British bombed Berlin, and he ordered the Luftwaffe to bomb London and keep bombing it. That lost them the Battle! Had they simply kept on stubbornly attacking the British airfields, which was the right move to make, they would almost certainly have broken the strength of the RAF by autumn, and an invasion could have gone forward.

A lot of different factors combined to save England. The British and German pilots both fought with superb skill and dedication. There is no reason to underestimate either of them in that regard. It is mere propaganda to state that the British won because of superior skill and determination. Hell, everyone gave it their utmost. It was a poker game, and the Germans didn't play the winning combination, that's all.

I'll tell you where the Germans were way superior to the British in 1940: their army. And why? Because it was using more modern tactics. If the Germans had ever gotten that army ashore in England, they would have been unstoppable.

The Germans many times defeated forces that outnumbered them in the early war years, and many times defeated forces that had superior tanks too...the Russians certainly did. How they did it was with far better tactics, and more experienced troops. They out-generaled the opposition.

The notion that they had this huge war machine that outnumbered and outgunned everyone else is just total, absolute nonsense, and it's the remainder of some misleading propaganda that was used to explain away catastrophic defeats suffered by the Allies in the early years of the war.

Remember all the hoopla about the Bismark? Well, the Bismark was, relatively speaking, a rather good battleship, but it wasn't tremendously superior to other ships in its general class at the time. It was roughly equivalent to most modern battleships in 1941. It had 15" guns. So did most British battleships. It had excellent belt armour, but not so good deck and upperworks armour. It had a quirky radar system, probably not as good as British radar.

You could say it earned about a 7 out of 10 for WWII battleships. Respectable, but not earth-skaking.

Yet Allied propaganda blew the Bismark up into an almost unstoppable monster, a terrifying leviathan stalking the ocean! Well...they liked to dramatize things, didn't they? And they had to explain the loss of HMS Hood somehow to a grieving nation...

The thing that really sucks about it, Don, is here I am defending Teribus's points! Ay-yi-yi...it's tough being a WWII history nerd.