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#41 Chris Werb

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 1626 PM

In fact, against most bombers impact fuses worked better than mechanical time fuses. 

 

I read that, toward the end of the war the Germans actually did an operational analysis and worked out they'd have been better off using sensitive impact fuses (presumably with self-destruct :) ) rather than mechanical time in their HAA.


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#42 CaptLuke

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 1810 PM

The 360° traverse was demanded largely with anti-tank in mind according to literature, but would also have helped in pockets.  The high angle capability was according to literature about the ability to shoot from inside woodland.

 

Hogg wrote that the '43 designs were heavily influenced by the German's Russian front experience, e.g., defending pockets.  Since the 360 degree traverse extended to the 15cm FH43 designs as well (which were also stillborn), I'm inclined to think pocket defense more than AT work.  The seeming lack of concern with the height of the  Skoda le FH43 also makes me think AT potential was not a big concern. 

 

Hogg's at least one of the sources that stresses the usefulness of high angle fire for firing positions in forests, so we're together on that.

 

The Swedes were the only ones to realize something like the leFH43, and the famous Soviet 122 mm 2A18 / D-30 was an even more advanced concept.

 

 

Bofors Type 4140 105mm Howitzer shows many signs of being the descendant of the Skoda le FH43, though I have no idea how much it was an independent development off a similar specification and how much it might have actually had to do with the Skoda design.

 

I served in a division with both M102 and M198 howitzers and thought the D30 looked like an altogether better approach to what we were doing, though the grass is always greener . . . 


Edited by CaptLuke, 02 June 2019 - 1813 PM.

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#43 Rich

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 2045 PM

 

The U.S. was much more motorized, so the transportation issue was a lesser one. People were also thinking in trench warfare terms, so mobility would not be too important in great wars.

 

Actually, the U.S. Army was only moderately motorized when the first real post-Great War advanced carriage 75mm "divisional gun" was proposed, which, along with the general fiscal austerity of the times, meant that development was desultory at best. The initial design, the 75mm Gun M1 (M1923E1) and Carriage T2 (Carriage T1 standardized as the M1 (M1923E1) and was the Carriage M1916 with the kinks ironed out...hey nine years, who's to know?) and the 75mm Gun M1 and Carriage T3 were the original attempts, dating to May 1929. The 75mm M1 Gun used a vertical sliding breechblock instead of the venerable M1897's interrupted screw, and simplified the bearing surfaces and recoil mechanism over the older French design. Carriage T2 was  a fairly simple improved split-trail design as a FA gun, but the interesting three-trail design, Carriage T3, was designed by Gladeon Barnes to be a universal AA, AT, and FA gun and when it was rejected (too heavy and complex, among other things), he immediately exhibited the characteristics he would later display as Chief of the Ordnance Technical Service during the war...he pouted, complained in the FA and Ordnance Journals that no one understood the genius of his design, and tried to do end-runs to get it adopted by the FA anyway (I exaggerate, but only a bit). Carriage T2 was modified as the T2E1, but also got rejected. By 1938, further work had led to modifications of the carriage (and minor modifications to the gun) through a T4 and T5. A final effort in 1938-1939 was the 75mm AA Gun and Carriage T6, which was a straightforward medium AA gun on a cruciform carriage similar to that used in the Flak 36/37...which also got rejected since the excellent 90mm AA Gun was near acceptance. However, it did not end there. The 75mm T6 Gun from that carriage got modified in 1940-1941 as the T7 and was employed as a Tank gun, first as the 75mm M2 in the Medium Tank M3 and then as the 75mm Gun M3 in the Medium Tanks M3 and M4.

 

 

The calibre was weak, but suitable-enough for AAA at the time (there were lots of heavy AAA based on soixante-quinze in active service at the time) and fine for suppressive fires. The good maximum elevation would help with impact angles that make direct hits into trenches more likely than with ordinary field guns.

 

Yes, but by 1938 the Coast Artillery had decided that it preferred the combination of the heavy 90mm gun and lighter 37mm gun. While they recognized the "advantages" of the 75mm "medium AA" proposal, they also saw its pitfalls, it was neither fish nor fowl, too heavy and too light, too low a Mv, too low a ceiling, but with a nice heavy projectile, something that might have benefited the Germans in their quest for a "medium" 5cm piece.


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#44 Ken Estes

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 0111 AM

Rich, was it true that Barnes retained copyright for his designs and prospered in retirement from them?


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#45 lastdingo

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 0642 AM

"Actually, the U.S. Army was only moderately motorized when the first real post-Great War advanced carriage 75mm "divisional gun" was proposed"

 

Motor vehicles were on their minds, though. In Germany you had to deal with Junker-raised officers who couldn't get over horses even in the 1930's.

The U.S.Army knew that if there was going to be another great war, they'd get all the motor vehicles and fuel that they might need.


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#46 Rich

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 0904 AM

Rich, was it true that Barnes retained copyright for his designs and prospered in retirement from them?

 

I don't think so. All patents issued for government designs were in the name of the inventor, but were held by the US Government. Barnes was also involved in the early torsion bar suspension designs.


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#47 Rich

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 0911 AM

"Actually, the U.S. Army was only moderately motorized when the first real post-Great War advanced carriage 75mm "divisional gun" was proposed"

 

Motor vehicles were on their minds, though. In Germany you had to deal with Junker-raised officers who couldn't get over horses even in the 1930's.

The U.S.Army knew that if there was going to be another great war, they'd get all the motor vehicles and fuel that they might need.

 

I will take your Junker and raise you two Major Generals, Robert M Danford and John K. Herr. As Chiefs of Artillery and Cavalry, respectively, they fought tooth and nail to keep horses in the Army until March 1942 when they were made redundant by Marshall's War Department reorganization.Serious motorization in the US Army did not begin until 31 October 1931.


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#48 lastdingo

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 0940 AM

There's an anecdote about the development of the Sturmartillerie (assault guns) where in a meeting, Manstein went on arguing in favour and simply ignored that just seconds earlier an old general had proposed to simply use horse-drawn infantry guns or even light field guns as had been done in the Great War. That was 1935 IIRC.


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#49 DougRichards

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 2135 PM

Hogg addressed the issue of horses towing artillery in one of his books in this way, that I will paraphrase: Between the wars the debate was how guns should be moved.  Mechanisation was coming in, but a truck could be disabled by a single shell splinter and the gun would not be able to be moved.  If six or eight horses were being used, and one horse was wounded, the rest of the team could still pull the gun, not quite as efficiently or as far, but the gun would not be immobilised.


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#50 rmgill

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 2158 PM

Wouldn't the mechanism likely to have killed one horse at substantial range from the battle field likely have also injured or killed the other horses in a team? Wouldn't that be shell splashes and the like rather than random odd bullets? 


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#51 Rich

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 2201 PM

Hogg addressed the issue of horses towing artillery in one of his books in this way, that I will paraphrase: Between the wars the debate was how guns should be moved.  Mechanisation was coming in, but a truck could be disabled by a single shell splinter and the gun would not be able to be moved.  If six or eight horses were being used, and one horse was wounded, the rest of the team could still pull the gun, not quite as efficiently or as far, but the gun would not be immobilised.

 

Yep...and the exact same line of thinking then led to resistance against SP mounts. The idea was if a prime mover was disabled a new one could be used, but a immobilized SP gun was a total loss. It took research done in the 1970s and 1980s, some by HERO/DMSi, to conclusively prove that wrong.


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#52 DougRichards

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Posted 03 June 2019 - 2315 PM

Wouldn't the mechanism likely to have killed one horse at substantial range from the battle field likely have also injured or killed the other horses in a team? Wouldn't that be shell splashes and the like rather than random odd bullets? 

 

If that was the case, then all the gunners who had fought through the Great War would have argued for mechanisation rather than horse traction.  They were working from their own experience, but also remember that Britain experimented with mechanical traction with the Vickers Dragon and Light Dragon, the Light Dragon indirectly leading to the Universal Carrier.


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#53 lastdingo

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 0839 AM

SPGs were a huge success because they could quickly evacuate a firing position while getting shot at. Horses are not controllable with shells impacting at 200 m distance, even before the impacts are corrected to the battery. Thinly-armoured open-topped SPGs on the other hand simply started the engine and drove away.

 

One SPG disabled by technical issues could be towed by another SPG for short distances at the very least (unless the technical issue was with the tracks, a jammed brake or gearbox jammed).

 

Overall, SPGs proved to be vastly more available for actual firing than towed counterparts in the German army during 1944-1945, especially when the frontline was on the move. There were also less casualties in SPG batteries than in towed howitzer batteries.


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#54 Markus Becker

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 1011 AM

I don't know about SPG but trucks are more economical than horses. It's called drinking like a horse for a reason.

With regard to veterans arguing for this or that, one needs to keep the availability in mind.
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#55 JWB

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 1120 AM

My g'father joined the Army in 1919 and retired in 1959. He told me the smartest thing the Army ever did was to replace the draft animals with motor vehicles.


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#56 Rich

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Posted 04 June 2019 - 1123 AM

My g'father joined the Army in 1919 and retired in 1959. He told me the smartest thing the Army ever did was to replace the draft animals with motor vehicles.

 

Some of the reasons given by the Field Artillery for not replacing draft animals are interesting...for example, it meant that the Battery Commander would lose his riding horses and wouldn't be able to play polo anymore...quelle horreur. :D


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#57 Redbeard

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 1158 AM

I have somewhere read the opposite- that (Wehrmacht) SPGs so often had a breakdown in the vehicle disabling the gun, whereas in towed batteries you could always commandeer motor vehicles or horses from other units (a question of priority) and thus still have the gun operating.

 

Anyway, no matter what may be the best in theory - that didn't necessarily give you an option. It never was an option to fully motorise a 2-300 Division Army like Wehrmacht or Red Army - a British or US infantry Division had about three times as many motor vehicles as a German. And even if you could produce all those trucks incl. spares - and the fuel through some miracle - you still wouldn't have the road to drive all those trucks on - at least not the East Front, where 3/4 of the Wehrmacht was engaged. 

 

In that context horse draft in the Divisional artillery and the forward echelons of the supply system perhaps wasn't such a bad idea. But perhaps the Wehrmacht early should have bought a number of those sturdy Russian rural horses and started a huge breeding programme. They were much more suited than the big beautiful German draft horses needing oats and a horsecloth.


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#58 Markus Becker

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 1249 PM

I have somewhere read the opposite- that (Wehrmacht) SPGs so often had a breakdown in the vehicle disabling the gun, whereas in towed batteries you could always commandeer motor vehicles or horses from other units (a question of priority) and thus still have the gun operating.

 

WAG: That was German (shortage of) motorisation and maintanance. The SPG at hand were constantly needed in action. 


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#59 Colin

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 1300 PM

I have somewhere read the opposite- that (Wehrmacht) SPGs so often had a breakdown in the vehicle disabling the gun, whereas in towed batteries you could always commandeer motor vehicles or horses from other units (a question of priority) and thus still have the gun operating.

 

Anyway, no matter what may be the best in theory - that didn't necessarily give you an option. It never was an option to fully motorise a 2-300 Division Army like Wehrmacht or Red Army - a British or US infantry Division had about three times as many motor vehicles as a German. And even if you could produce all those trucks incl. spares - and the fuel through some miracle - you still wouldn't have the road to drive all those trucks on - at least not the East Front, where 3/4 of the Wehrmacht was engaged. 

 

In that context horse draft in the Divisional artillery and the forward echelons of the supply system perhaps wasn't such a bad idea. But perhaps the Wehrmacht early should have bought a number of those sturdy Russian rural horses and started a huge breeding programme. They were much more suited than the big beautiful German draft horses needing oats and a horsecloth.

My unit had a report from the early 30's from doing their first non-horse drawn exercise, it went on and on about the advantages in speed, manpower  trucks gave and the reduced logistical issue of feeding and maintaining horses. 


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#60 Rich

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Posted 05 June 2019 - 1305 PM

I have somewhere read the opposite- that (Wehrmacht) SPGs so often had a breakdown in the vehicle disabling the gun, whereas in towed batteries you could always commandeer motor vehicles or horses from other units (a question of priority) and thus still have the gun operating.

 

Of course, because it does help if you have a fully-functional maintenance and spare parts system. :D

 

 

Anyway, no matter what may be the best in theory - that didn't necessarily give you an option. It never was an option to fully motorise a 2-300 Division Army like Wehrmacht or Red Army - a British or US infantry Division had about three times as many motor vehicles as a German. And even if you could produce all those trucks incl. spares - and the fuel through some miracle - you still wouldn't have the road to drive all those trucks on - at least not the East Front, where 3/4 of the Wehrmacht was engaged.

 

The 1. Welle divisions had 394 PKW, 615 LKW and Zgkw, and 527 motorcycles, the 2. Welle 393, 509, and 497, respectively. The 3. Welle 330, 248, and 415, and the 4. Welle 359, 618, and 329. Later divisions (except those raised specifically as static occupational divisions) all had more or less similar motor vehicle establishments until the Infanterie-Division n.A. (later the Typ-43) reorganization in the fall of 1943 drastically reduced the number of motor vehicles (which, in fact, recognized a de facto front organization in effect for most divisions by mid-1942). The American infantry division had roughly 524 trucks and tractors (including M3 HT) and 852 personnel carriers (1/4-ton and 1 1/2-ton trucks), and no motorcycles (the Jeep replaced them in the division in July 1943). So, effectively similar numbers of motor vehicles...in theory. The American vehicles were more standardized and on the whole more capable as military vehicles.

 

 

In that context horse draft in the Divisional artillery and the forward echelons of the supply system perhaps wasn't such a bad idea. But perhaps the Wehrmacht early should have bought a number of those sturdy Russian rural horses and started a huge breeding programme. They were much more suited than the big beautiful German draft horses needing oats and a horsecloth.

 

Well, they didn't buy them, but they did expropriate large numbers of the Panje Ponies. :D


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