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Was The 88Mm Gun An Overkill For The Tiger Tank?


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#1 On the way

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 2208 PM

In the face of shrinking war resources, would Germany have been better off allocating 88mm gun production to anti aircraft units instead of diverting them to Tiger tank production? Could not the Panther's 75mm Kwk 42 L/70 be fitted to the Tiger tank instead? From what I read, the Panther's 75mm gun was perfectly adequate against all known armour threats at that time, including the main adversaries Sherman M4 and T-34s. Even over the frontal arc. I would assume there would be simplification of the logistic train if standardized on the same main gun, as well, the Tiger could probably carry more rounds.


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#2 JasonJ

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 2214 PM

I could be wrong but the design intention of the Tiger was to serve as a break through tank. That design specification would require good HE for hitting infantry nests and such. The panther's 75 wasn't as good of HE thrower as M4 75mm.
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#3 On the way

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 2219 PM

I could be wrong but the design intention of the Tiger was to serve as a break through tank. That design specification would require good HE for hitting infantry nests and such. The panther's 75 wasn't as good of HE thrower as M4 75mm.

 

I see. But in the end, the role of Tiger tank was to terrorize Allied tank units, making it in reality a tank superiority machine. Really at that time, Germany was mostly on the defensive, I don't know what they could break through other then to retreat. But I see your point.


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#4 DKTanker

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 2244 PM

Regardless of being overkill, there wasn't a shortage of Flak 18/36/37/ but in any case, the resource differences between the KwK 36 and the KwK 42 are negligible.  Operationally the KwK 42 may have been the better choice, but strategically I don't think it would have made a lick of difference.

 

I don't know if it would have ultimately changed the outcome, but the German's were working on a proximity fuze and stopped research in 1940 to work on more important matters.  I'm sure in hindsight that looked like a very short sighted decision.


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#5 sunday

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Posted 12 March 2019 - 2252 PM

Some years ago, Ken Estes wrote here that, at the end of the war, Germans were trying to compensate the lack of special alloys, needed to make effective AP projectiles, by using larger calibers, thus the 12.8cm. They even developed a kind of white iron, "wadcutter" shot, that needed very little amounts of alloying elements.


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#6 DougRichards

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 0011 AM

Regardless of being overkill, there wasn't a shortage of Flak 18/36/37/ but in any case, the resource differences between the KwK 36 and the KwK 42 are negligible.  Operationally the KwK 42 may have been the better choice, but strategically I don't think it would have made a lick of difference.

 

I don't know if it would have ultimately changed the outcome, but the German's were working on a proximity fuze and stopped research in 1940 to work on more important matters.  I'm sure in hindsight that looked like a very short sighted decision.

 

German proximity fuze development was mainly intended for guided missile use (45 different projects).  There was one, Kuhglockchen, an electrostatic fuze being developed by Rheinmetall-Borsig for Flak use that was not even in prototype form when peace broke out.  Source: Hogg.

 

I wonder if instead of 45 projects they had focused on four or five there may have been more success.

 

Even so, there was a more dramatic and interesting development, that is for Flak units to fire shells with impact fuzes, no time delay etc, hoping to actually hit target aircraft.  The maths showed that the original suggestion actually underestimated the possibility of actually hitting a target, and not having to worry about time fuzing sped up the rate of fire and meant that no shell was fuzed short.  The idea was proposed by a Dr Voss of the Reichsluftministerium.  On 20 March the Luftwaffe actually gave orders to fire all flak rounds as if they were hoping to hit the target.  Souce, again, Hogg


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#7 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 0302 AM

 

Regardless of being overkill, there wasn't a shortage of Flak 18/36/37/ but in any case, the resource differences between the KwK 36 and the KwK 42 are negligible.  Operationally the KwK 42 may have been the better choice, but strategically I don't think it would have made a lick of difference.

 

I don't know if it would have ultimately changed the outcome, but the German's were working on a proximity fuze and stopped research in 1940 to work on more important matters.  I'm sure in hindsight that looked like a very short sighted decision.

 

German proximity fuze development was mainly intended for guided missile use (45 different projects).  There was one, Kuhglockchen, an electrostatic fuze being developed by Rheinmetall-Borsig for Flak use that was not even in prototype form when peace broke out.  Source: Hogg.

 

I wonder if instead of 45 projects they had focused on four or five there may have been more success.

 

Even so, there was a more dramatic and interesting development, that is for Flak units to fire shells with impact fuzes, no time delay etc, hoping to actually hit target aircraft.  The maths showed that the original suggestion actually underestimated the possibility of actually hitting a target, and not having to worry about time fuzing sped up the rate of fire and meant that no shell was fuzed short.  The idea was proposed by a Dr Voss of the Reichsluftministerium.  On 20 March the Luftwaffe actually gave orders to fire all flak rounds as if they were hoping to hit the target.  Souce, again, Hogg

 

 

I dont think they could. If you look at the Nazi Regime, everything was based on the superiority of the race. So what better way to ensure you get the very best one than have lots of competition? Hitler even ran his own Government that way, splitting power up between 2 or 3 powerful men, and getting them to fight head to head for every scrap of influence, judging that the most worthy (or at least, the most backstabbing) would emerge triumphant. It was less smartpower than survival of the species in action.

 

I think German weapons development and procurement might also be looked at in the same way. Look at Hitler continually promoting Porche's career, whilst resources for much better projects languished. There was no real need to have 3 different tanks in production at the same time, they could easily have got by on two. Look at the continual promotion of Messerschmidt when better designs by Heinkel languished. But such was Nazi Germany. As one historian once said, the Nazi's could have won the war, but they would have had to stop behaving like Nazi's.


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#8 Ken Estes

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 0331 AM

The early German breakthrough tank designs featured heavy armor but for firepower remained with 75mm weapons, at first just the short 75 used by the new PzKW IV. 

 

There was an effort to provide greater firepower for the breakthrough tank, less than the 88mm guns of the later Tiger family. In October 1941, the Weapons Testing Branch requested Krupp to study a more powerful weapon for the VK 30.01 prototype, to include backfitting the new anti-tank 75-mm PAK L/43 into its turret, whatever the consequences. In the end, the resulting turrets were used for emplacements on the Atlantic Wall. There were also parallel projects (VK 36.01 and VK 65.01), both offered to Henschel. The VK 65.01 was a simple up-armored version of the VK 30.01, on a basis of 80 mm all around, retaining the same 75-mm L/24 turret and weapon. The VK 36.01 took form in June 1940 as an up-gunned VK 30.01, carrying a 105-mm L/28 gun turret that was modified almost a year later to the tapered-bore Weapon 0725. On June 11, 1941, Krupp was ordered to cancel the 105-mm gun turret in favor of producing six armored turrets fitted with the Weapon 0725. Henschel in turn received contracts for one driving evaluation and six prototype tanks that would carry the new Krupp turrets. The following month, the VK36.01 was cancelled. Only a single VK 36.01 chassis was delivered for testing in March 1942. By then, it had been folded into the new Tiger tank project.

 

The 75mm tapered bore weapon would have been the alternative lesser caliber weapon mentioned in the OP. However, its dependence upon increasingly vital Wolfram/Tungsten stocks for ammunition doomed it. In the end, it was the 75mm L70 gun of the Panther that kept 75mm a capable caliber for attacking heavy armor, using conventional APCR projectiles. It was not available or even a project at Rheinmetall-Borsig by the time the almost bizarre development of the Tiger was decreed.

 

 

My take on the process is the following:

 

 

 

The specific origins of the Tiger tank can be ascribed to the intervention of Dr. Porsche
into the ongoing army projects supporting the breakthrough tank requirements. His
own firm began design work in 1939 of what was called Type 100, a candidate for the
army VK 30.01 project. Given his position as chairman of the newly created Panzer
Commission, it was hardly surprising that he landed a contract to produce three
prototypes for the VK 30.01(P) (‘P’ for Porsche) in 1940, and the Krupp firm then
rushed to assist him, offering a turret design sporting an 88-mm L/56 cannon based
upon the well-tested anti-aircraft gun. They received a six-turret contract from the
Army in April 1941. In the event, only one Type 100 would be completed and tested
because the requirements became more stringent as the Russian campaign ensued.
On May 26, 1941, Hitler met with both Porsche and Henschel representatives at his
Eagle’s Nest and effectively began his four-year direction of the German Army heavy
fighting vehicle program. In what was by then a typical specificity in his Führerbefehl,
he erased the previous projects and decreed that the German heavy tank must have
100 mm of frontal armor and mount either the Krupp 88-mm tank cannon or the
75-mm Weapon 0725, provided stockpiles of tungsten ore proved sufficient for that
weapon’s ammunition (decided in the negative in July 1941). His views stemmed from
the available evidence of Russian heavy tanks as well as others believed to be under
construction in the United Kingdom. Hitler instructed Dr. Porsche to expand his Type
100 to a Type 101 carrying the 88-mm gun with frontal armor on a 100-mm basis. The
army further rewarded Porsche for his insider advantage with a July 1941 contract to
Krupp for 100 hulls and turrets for the new VK 45.01(P) “Tiger” heavy tank.
Two days after the May Führerbefehlen, however, the Army awarded similar
contracts to Henschel to redesign their VK 36.01 chassis to carry the 88-mm turret.
When the cancellation of the Weapon 0725 took place, Henschel had no other resort
but to concentrate on changing its VK 36.01 prototype to accommodate the Krupp
88-mm tank turret of the Porsche vehicle, and thus “grow” its vehicle into the VK
45.01(H). Awarded a contract to produce three such prototypes for the new Tiger
tank project in July 1941, Henschel eventually received a further incentive in an April
1942 contract to assemble 200 more hulls.

 

German Heavy AFVs of the Second World War: From Tiger to E-100 (Fonthill, 2018),  18.
 
Of course, Hitler was not to be satisfied:
 
No sooner had the Tiger H1 entered series production when the Army Weapons
Bureau contracted Henschel to design a new Tiger tank on the lines of the new
Panther medium tank being prepared for production by the MAN firm. In part, this
order reflected the Army’s need to satisfy the demands of Hitler for a tank mounting
the improved Rheinmetall 88-mm Flak 41 weapon, which featured a longer 72-caliber
barrel and a resulting muzzle velocity of 1000 m/s, compared to the 840 m/s of the
earlier Krupp 88-mm flak guns (data for firing antiaircraft ammunition). The Army
bureau knew that both Henschel and Porsche versions of the VK 45.01 could not
mount the Flak 41 and would instead use the Krupp 88-mm L/56 tank cannon.
Accordingly, both firms were given contracts in 1942 to develop a new heavy tank
to replace Tiger I Model H with a new vehicle carrying Krupp’s new developmental
(contracted November 1941) tank cannon based upon the Flak 41 and eventually
standardized as the 88-mm KwK 43 with a 71-caliber barrel.

Ibid., p. 40.

 


Edited by Ken Estes, 13 March 2019 - 0335 AM.

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#9 Panzermann

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 0732 AM

 

Even so, there was a more dramatic and interesting development, that is for Flak units to fire shells with impact fuzes, no time delay etc, hoping to actually hit target aircraft.  The maths showed that the original suggestion actually underestimated the possibility of actually hitting a target, and not having to worry about time fuzing sped up the rate of fire and meant that no shell was fuzed short.  The idea was proposed by a Dr Voss of the Reichsluftministerium.  On 20 March the Luftwaffe actually gave orders to fire all flak rounds as if they were hoping to hit the target.  Souce, again, Hogg

 

 

Makes me wonder if the allies even noticed a difference?


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#10 Martin M

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 0833 AM

I think I read once the Führer in an evening lecture said that  tanks were doomed to extinction because of hollow charge munitions.

 

 

So then what about a 105 mm  L50 using only hollow charge AT and HE as main tank gun.


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#11 DougRichards

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 1418 PM

 

 

Even so, there was a more dramatic and interesting development, that is for Flak units to fire shells with impact fuzes, no time delay etc, hoping to actually hit target aircraft.  The maths showed that the original suggestion actually underestimated the possibility of actually hitting a target, and not having to worry about time fuzing sped up the rate of fire and meant that no shell was fuzed short.  The idea was proposed by a Dr Voss of the Reichsluftministerium.  On 20 March the Luftwaffe actually gave orders to fire all flak rounds as if they were hoping to hit the target.  Souce, again, Hogg

 

 

Makes me wonder if the allies even noticed a difference?

 

 

Due to the short time frame between the order and the end of the war, probably not, as even Hogg suggests that there was insufficient time for any analysis t6o occur.


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#12 RETAC21

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 1450 PM

 

 

 

Even so, there was a more dramatic and interesting development, that is for Flak units to fire shells with impact fuzes, no time delay etc, hoping to actually hit target aircraft.  The maths showed that the original suggestion actually underestimated the possibility of actually hitting a target, and not having to worry about time fuzing sped up the rate of fire and meant that no shell was fuzed short.  The idea was proposed by a Dr Voss of the Reichsluftministerium.  On 20 March the Luftwaffe actually gave orders to fire all flak rounds as if they were hoping to hit the target.  Souce, again, Hogg

 

 

Makes me wonder if the allies even noticed a difference?

 

 

Due to the short time frame between the order and the end of the war, probably not, as even Hogg suggests that there was insufficient time for any analysis t6o occur.

 

 

And when the rounds come down they are still contact fuzed, I guess, what could go wrong there...?

 

IIRC the 88mm wasn't particularly effective against bombers as it lacked oomph to get to them, nor against fighters as it lacked rate of fire.


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#13 JW Collins

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 1514 PM

I think I read once the Führer in an evening lecture said that  tanks were doomed to extinction because of hollow charge munitions.
 
 
So then what about a 105 mm  L50 using only hollow charge AT and HE as main tank gun.


I think WW2 HEAT shells had pretty abysmal ballistic characteristics and fuzing was still pretty unreliable so overall it would probably be less effective at AT work than a somewhat smaller caliber gun firing AP at a higher velocity.
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#14 Stefan Kotsch

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 1534 PM

Pretty abysmal ballistic characteristics? They were relativily normal shells (artillery and tank shells). Only the hollow charge effect was likely to have been quite moderate. Because of the spin.


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#15 DougRichards

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 1732 PM

 

 

 

 

Even so, there was a more dramatic and interesting development, that is for Flak units to fire shells with impact fuzes, no time delay etc, hoping to actually hit target aircraft.  The maths showed that the original suggestion actually underestimated the possibility of actually hitting a target, and not having to worry about time fuzing sped up the rate of fire and meant that no shell was fuzed short.  The idea was proposed by a Dr Voss of the Reichsluftministerium.  On 20 March the Luftwaffe actually gave orders to fire all flak rounds as if they were hoping to hit the target.  Souce, again, Hogg

 

 

Makes me wonder if the allies even noticed a difference?

 

 

Due to the short time frame between the order and the end of the war, probably not, as even Hogg suggests that there was insufficient time for any analysis t6o occur.

 

 

And when the rounds come down they are still contact fuzed, I guess, what could go wrong there...?

 

IIRC the 88mm wasn't particularly effective against bombers as it lacked oomph to get to them, nor against fighters as it lacked rate of fire.

 

 

Originally they were fired in this trial with their time fuzes sent to as long as possible, so if they missed they still exploded before returning to the ground.


Edited by DougRichards, 13 March 2019 - 1733 PM.

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#16 DougRichards

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Posted 13 March 2019 - 2143 PM

 

 

 


 

 

And when the rounds come down they are still contact fuzed, I guess, what could go wrong there...?


 

 

The same could be said for VT fuzes. If they didn't find anything to detonate the shell in the air, then the ground would do it on the way down, except not quite at ground level, but just above, for better fragmentation effect on the surrounding area, which was why VT fuzes were sometimes used for medium and heavy artillery.


Edited by DougRichards, 13 March 2019 - 2143 PM.

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#17 Simon Tan

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 0440 AM

You are describing AMX30 w crappier ammo.
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#18 Martin M

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 0542 AM

You are describing AMX30 w crappier ammo.

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Posted Yesterday, 01:33 PM

I think I read once the Führer in an evening lecture said that  tanks were doomed to extinction because of hollow charge munitions.

 

 

So then what about a 105 mm  L50 using only hollow charge AT and HE as main tank gun.

 

 

 

 

 

Sure looks like it, yes, but later.  Hollow charge in ball bearings . . .   there´s always a solution.


Edited by Martin M, 14 March 2019 - 0545 AM.

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#19 DKTanker

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 1634 PM

The same could be said for VT fuzes. If they didn't find anything to detonate the shell in the air, then the ground would do it on the way down, except not quite at ground level, but just above, for better fragmentation effect on the surrounding area, which was why VT fuzes were sometimes used for medium and heavy artillery.

Only in the Pacific until December 1944 when Eisenhower finally allowed their use to help slow the German counter-offensive.  It's been part of the US artillery arsenal ever since.


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#20 Loopycrank

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Posted 14 March 2019 - 2009 PM

In the face of shrinking war resources, would Germany have been better off allocating 88mm gun production to anti aircraft units instead of diverting them to Tiger tank production? Could not the Panther's 75mm Kwk 42 L/70 be fitted to the Tiger tank instead? From what I read, the Panther's 75mm gun was perfectly adequate against all known armour threats at that time, including the main adversaries Sherman M4 and T-34s. Even over the frontal arc. I would assume there would be simplification of the logistic train if standardized on the same main gun, as well, the Tiger could probably carry more rounds.

 

 

Nope.

 

 

1b9e101892352e28d64097c7b1012345.jpg​


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