Tanks during the Second World War

November 15th, 2013
by andrzej


After a slow period of development from the time of ” inter “, with the start of World War II tanks were entering a period of rapid development . The best example would be Germany : hitting on Poland was the most numerous tank Panzer II weight 9 500 kg , 20 mm cannon and an engine power of 141.40 hp, in 1945, Panzer V Panther 45 weighed 500kg , had a 75mm gun and engine power of 709.72 hp. The British passed a similar way of ” Crusader ” and ” Centurion ” has not had time to take dog tags part in the fighting. Ways in which these six years developed ” TANKI ” are clear : massively increased firepower , increased dimensions ( it is associated with the mounted gun) , bold armor – Panzer II was 14.5 mm (30 mm) of armor, the ” Panzer V Panther ” protect crew for inclined plate thickness of 110 mm . But the war began in Poland and Pzkpfw tanks and …Polish September Let’s agree that World War II began with the invasion of Poland September 1, 1939 . Although there are historians who apparently believe that the war began in North Africa , well, everyone has some rights . And so the first …. Us in this campaign are most interested in tanks and there were quite a few there . Let me quote a few figures at that time , Poland was ranked 7th in terms of number of armored vehicles in the world.


Let’s look at the 800 Polish tanks, they are: TK-3, CT-S so-called tankette and FT-17 Battle value of these cars are dim at this time there are about 600 pieces or 34 whole Polish armored weapons. The rest of the tank 7TP Polish production, a little bit about it. This is a car license “Vickers” “E”, reworked and adapted to our conditions. The main change is the drive on ignition (it was the first mass-produced tank of the diesel), two towers was changed to a single, reversible mounted periscope. The second machine is a valuable Renault-35 was the infantry support tank purchased in France is not the worst design (although we wanted a better Somua S-35, but we refused). This is unfortunately all when it comes to us and what the Germans have sent many.


Germany after the war were very much limited by the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles , so all the research and construction works were hidden . The first post-war German tanks are formed as agricultural tractors . In 1933, the armored division is created in the fall of her PzKpfw I . Person to be mentioned in the description of the creation of the German armored forces , is Heinz Guderian , creator of the theory of ” Blitzkrieg ” ( lightning war ), which involved the use of tanks in tight formations interacting with aviation. Strike groups were formed so as to break the enemy defense outflank and encircle . Cut off the enemy troops to liquidate . It was a very effective tactic that Germany applied with frightening efficiency in Poland , France, first in the Soviet Union. The War of the Polish Germans used the 1100 PzKpfw I, Panzer II , about 100 Panzer III , Panzer IV, two , and 70 Czech machines , in addition to cars , armored command cars and other heavy equipment . The advantage over our country was simply overwhelming . Despite the great German advantage quantitative , qualitative and tactical Germany we managed to ask significant losses.

Campaign Summary.

Tanks 7-TP showed its superiority over the mild types of German cars. There were also no chance in the event of a duel with Panzer IV (which then was a weapon disadvantage of low permeability.) German losses in the September campaign were close to 13, the equipment used (almost the same, the Germans suffered in France!).As far as our main theme is “The September campaign” did not affect the development of the “Tank-this” German commanders were so pleased with the outcome of the campaign that did not notice the lack of armored weapons. Does not look like coming campaign in France has shown that they can sleep at night, but during that time the Russians had already prepared a bucket of cold water for the Germans – “T34”!


War in RussiaOperation “Barbarossa”

June 22, 1941 starts operation ” Barbarossa ” . Despite several months of preparation for the German invasion of the Soviet Union and intelligence reports , Russian forces are completely surprised and incur huge losses. Germany Attacks ” soviets ” in the prime of their 140 divisions , including 17 armored and 13 motorized . These forces are divided into three distinct groups: North ( Field Marshal Leeb ) , Center Field Marshal Bock ) is the largest grouping and South Field Marshal Rundstedt ) . The numbers of Germans have available: 3 000 000 soldiers , 7 100 guns and 300 tanks, three of which 1400 are Panzer III and Panzer IV, the rest is II , Panzer I and Czech machine . Nazi aircraft is equipped with two 770 aircraft . Another number of the German army has 625 000 horses ! Russians are against them with 170 divisions among them are 32 compounds reinforced with 24 thousand tanks, of which 25 % is in order, most of it is outdated and requires refurbishment and eight thousand . aircraft in the same condition as tanks .

It should be stressed that the total number of 24,000, in 1475 the tanks “KV1” and “T34” which can match any German tank, after that no German antitank gun will not do anything “KW 1″ and the Germans did not know about these tanks! Why, then, the failure of the Russians? I’ll try to answer later in the article. This differs from the subject site but the interest is high, so I think that is useful for someone, and therefore act on the eastern front had a great influence on the development of tanks, there scrolled many types of weapons.


Russians in statistics should not be a problem with the Germans , but the situation was very different . Let’s start with the military, a German soldier well trained and prepared for war for a long time , led by outstanding leaders . Germany after World War I may have only a miniature army , so the criteria for admission into the army were very high and in combination with very good training system gave it an unheard- soldiers. When Hitler came to power and Germany broke the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles , these highly trained soldiers began to train the next . The German army was also very high morale , fighting in Russia saw themselves as professionals and those were . Previous victories in Poland , Scandinavia, the Balkans and France , gave them confidence invincibility , well equipped and confident reliability of the equipment , aroused fear and respect the enemy . Allied commanders knew that if there is a clash with Germany at equal strength, a win would almost certainly Germany. Operation ” Barbarossa ” was meticulously prepared for a few months , soldiers and determined leadership .The Russians On the other hand there are Russian soldiers , virtually no trained or rather the politicization of the ubiquitous political officers , paralyzing commanding cadres . The recent war with the Finns forced a number of changes , including armored compounds are formed , these changes result in a serious confusion in the organization of the army. Although the change is rather positive but at this time not favorable. The quality of the equipment mentioned, the deployment of Soviet troops left a lot to be desired. In general it can be said that the Soviet troops operate on the principle of loyalty rather than competence. Another and perhaps the most important reason for Russia’s initial failures were purges in the army that carried Joseph Stalin in the early thirties .


tumors in the scene commanders and political officers with whom staff should consult any actions lead to paralysis of command. Joseph Stalin received reports of German preparations for war, even when it was known attack occurs , yet ignore this information , but even banned ! response to the German spy flights on the border and fight the Germans . He believed that the only provocation , even in the morning on June 22 when ” Barbarosa ” fully grown , ordered not to engage in combat with the Germans all along the front was not revoked. When he went back , there was no longer any front ! Another cause of early failures, this fragmentation of armor , all over the front line. An interesting fact may be that , leading the German troops were attacked from behind by the retreating Russians. Two examples of a lack of competence on the Soviet side : there are situations in which a drunken commander gives the order to attack the armored forces soldiers without weapons! or after hours training recruits move into battle in the brand new T -34 without a radio ! Hitler claimed that Soviet Russia is an old decaying ” cottage ” which is enough to kick the door and the rest will fall apart . The initial period of the war in Russia rather confirmed this opinion . But over time, the Soviet army took on combat experience and the news of the lands occupied by Germany , the German soldiers Soviet atrocities they added strength. Despite initial success ” Barbarossa ” was a fiasco Germans captured Moscow , Leningrad or Ukraine. In addition, as early as January 1942, the Soviet army was able to repel the Germans in Moscow. In Russia fell invincible myth of German soldiers . After some time, the Allies thought that the Germans as equals can only fight the Russians and the Poles.


The German reply

Germany in early June, were shocked by Russian tanks meeting the ” KW 1″ or ” T34 ” In the latter uses many innovative solutions . The first striking were inclined plates, which increased the possibility of protective armor despite meager armor thickness (only 45 mm Hot hull and turret 52 mm ) , was resistant to fire German tanks and guns p- PANC . , Alone with his mighty at that time 76 mm chapter, wreaked destruction in the ranks of the ” Wehrmacht ” . Used diesel engine ideally suited as a drive armored vehicles , for every tonne for almost 18 hp , and therefore the oil does not ignite as easily as gasoline . Used a wide track , very well check it against a Russian conditions ( mud , snow, lack of roads ) . Another advantage of the ease of use significantly shortened training time crews. ” T- 34 ” was also easy to build and give great opportunities for development. We can say that the emergence of the “T -34 “, began a new stage in the construction of tanks. German ” Panther ” and “Tiger King ” already benefited fully from the solutions used in ” T- 34 ” . The second of the modern Russian tanks , heavy ” KW 1″ which was a two- tower development ” SMK ” .

He had become the bane of German troops. The tank was only two enemies Flak 88 mmm and 105mm howitzer. No other weapon in the German arsenal did not give him advice. It weighed 47.5 T, for comparison “T 34” 30.9 T 23 German Panzer III T. Armour came to a thickness of 75 mm cannon in 1941 was the same as the “T-34”. “KW 1” is urban known than its little brother, with a few reasons: there was less of it among the crews enjoyed a less popular because he was a tank more difficult to use, construction also posed some problems. But when it came to the meeting with the Germans, the flaws of “disappeared”. Germany described the fighting as “KW 1″:  We saw a Soviet tank battalion of unknown type; cars that passed through the infantry positions.

Soviet machine – unfortunately they did not make the slightest impression . The attacker Russians destroyed the artillery positions , including howitzers 150 mmm , working fire at the very end. Hopeless situation saved caliber anti-aircraft guns 88 mm , eliminated several other tanks and forced the Russians to retreat.Fortunately for the Germans clash with Russian engines of a new type for various reasons were not frequent , such as a small number of these vehicles and their fragmentation . However, the effects of the attacks the Russians would have been much more severe , the aggressors had the crew ” T- 34 ” and ” KW 1″ are better trained (or trained at all ), no radio ! can not remain unnoticed. Still, the new Russian armored equipment , posed a major threat to ” Wehrmacht ” .The German army captured most certainly used the equipment , it was one of the ways to deal with the threat they posed Soviet tanks . The fighting on the German side , used the Russian working F-22 76.2 mm, for which the Germans even produce ammunition , they used the ” T -34 ” and ” KW1 ” . Quickly began przezbrajać ” Panzer IV” , with the same gun , but with a longer barrel which increased the effectiveness of a fire. Hastily constructed tank destroyers such as ” Marder I” . In some areas, the gun used in the F- 22 next to the base , very efficient 47 mm . The first tank destroyer was marked not only by a weak basic equipment , but also a general lack of stability : able to just roll over . ” Marder II and III ” also did not find favor with his soldiers . Even the ” Ferdinand “, built as a tank destroyer , it did not work on the battlefield . It was a powerful weapon , but unfortunately not coped with the infantry . In the early days of Operation ” Citadel ” executed 40 pieces of these mighty armored vehicles . The rest were withdrawn and sent to Italy , where he officially changed the name to ” Elefant ” . Another , not so bad , which is not fully meeting the expectations of the destroyer was ” Nashorn ” , armed with 88 mm cannon is extremely effective, was also quite agile, but nevertheless, in the construction of ustrzeżono no errors . He was far too high , otherwise he discovered range combat .

Only Panzerjäger IV met all the requirements : low silhouette , solid armor and effective gun ( L48 ) 75 mm , all of which form a terribly effective weapon , the vehicles were widely used by anti-tank unit called ” Panzerjäger ” . There was also a second machine , very similar – looks like a small ” Panzerjäger IV” namely: Hetzer – production of our southern neighbors, the Czechs. Small , easy to hide, Germany ( Czech ) tank destroyers seriously uszczuplały weight Allied and Soviet tanks. Interestingly it may be that ” Hetzer -y” were used even for the 70’s in the army of Switzerland.In addition to the immediate construction of Germany also took other measures. They gathered in a group of designers , producencentów , management arms army and after examination of Soviet tanks , established requirements for future construction. Some front-line commanders advocated copying T34 . This was not possible , except that Germany believed that the Russians were technically inferior (transmission , suspension , gear and optical sights ) . The result of the aforementioned agreements were structures which, however, did not satisfy Hitler , commander of the German army in December 1941 . Finally, in January 1942 selected two types of Panther tanks and ” Tiger ” . In July 1942, the production line , they began to descend the first ” Tigers ” . Hitler placed his hopes in them big , pressured to introduce them as soon as possible to fight. Debuted a very unfortunate attack in a swampy area where heavy tanks could move individually , exposing themselves to attack the Soviet section of p- PANC spaced along the road. The attack failed . The Germans suffered heavy losses. Although unsuccessful debut ” Tigers ” in his later fights , have proved to be of excellent quality, were invulnerable to most Allied and Soviet tanks themselves by 88mm cannon can destroy enemy tanks from almost any distance. ” Panzer VI ” ‘mere presence introduce confusion in the ranks of the enemy , its impact on the morale of Allied soldiers can not be overestimated . In July 1943 she debuted the second of the structure adopted by Hitler in January 1942 , Panzer V or ” Panther ” . The tank showed up on the battlefield less than 20 months after the start of work on it. Unfortunately proved the adage : Rush is indicated by catching fleas. Debut of ” Panther ” as well as ” Tiger ” was unsuccessful .

Most of the cars did not reach even the starting positions in Belgorod (place a concentration of German troops preparing for battle on the “Kursk”), fire engines, drivetrains damage caused that a large number of these machines did not participate in the battle, with the hope that Hitler was related to the final destruction of the Russian forces. However, these structural defects were removed, and “Pantera” became the terror of the Allied czołgistów.Dowództwo Allies issued an order prohibiting its armored forces to deal with “Panthers”.Both technically excellent German tanks had one major disadvantage compared to the “T-34” were more difficult to produce, the more “greedy” for raw materials and thus keep them arose, which eventually tipped the scales of victory for the Allied side.




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