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Sherman vs the Panzer IV


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#1 Kentucky-roughrider

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 1303 PM

How did the M4 compare to the Panzer IV? I know there are a ton of different models of each vechile and each one had different strengths and weaknesses. And did the Mark IV out gun the US tanks in the North African campaign.

Edited by Kentucky-roughrider, 18 July 2010 - 1143 AM.


#2 shep854

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 1614 PM

There's probably a mad rush for popcorn at the moment :P , but I'll start and say that they were generally equivalent, with the M4 getting the general reliability nod. As variants appeared, they would seesaw back and forth regarding "superiority", but eventually the M4 just "outgrew" the PzIV, although an "Easy 8" crew that took a PzIV for granted could wind up KO'ed.

#3 irregularmedic

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 1626 PM

There's probably a mad rush for popcorn at the moment :P , but I'll start and say that they were generally equivalent, with the M4 getting the general reliability nod. As variants appeared, they would seesaw back and forth regarding "superiority", but eventually the M4 just "outgrew" the PzIV, although an "Easy 8" crew that took a PzIV for granted could wind up KO'ed.


Were there any problems with the Panzer IV's reliability? I don't recall reading of any, although I imagine if slave or forced labor was used for any of its construction there is an assumption that the later models would be plagued with sabotage. Not exactly reliability but I also imagine that the armor wasn't up to standard at times late in the war, not that it would have usually stopped a Sherman's main gun round from penetrating anyway...

#4 Arminius

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 1650 PM

I try:

the Pz IV with the "long" ( L / 43 L / 48 ) gun was definetely superior to all Shermans with the 75 mm gun, gunwise.

Armour?

The Pz IV had up to 80 mm up front, but vertically. Face hardened.

As opposed to the ( often faulty ( cast ) ??? ) sloped armour of the M 4.

IIRC it was called "Tommy Cooker" or "Ronson". There has to be a reason for that. The Pz IV was called ( only name I know ) "Rotbart, der Dünnhäutige" ( Redbeard, the thin skinned" ).

But an E 8, with late armour and the 76 mm was as a general gun tank equal or slightly better ( especially automotive ), but not definitely superior to the Pz IV.

The Firefly was gunwise the equivalent of the Panther, but not armor wise ...

If I would be in a covered place, with "Schuerzen" around me, I think the Pz IV is great. If I would have to drive 300 Kilometers, I think the Sherman would do it more easily.

I think the Diesel engined Shermans and M 36´s were tops, automotively.

Just my 2 cents, and I am open to debate, Hermann

#5 Jason L

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 1740 PM

There's probably a mad rush for popcorn at the moment :P



Oh you bet, this is going to be goooooood (as it always is). Posted Image

My vote goes to the Sherman. Mostly on the basis that it was not an inferior tank in any way to anyone elses mediums as it evolved and it's understood to be a far more rationalized design from a production perspective. Well at least I understand it to be, does anyone have some of the better manhour costs on hand?

#6 CaptLuke

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 1835 PM

Keep in mind the Sherman should be far superior: First PzIV came off the lines in '36 or so, first Sherman in '41. Five years of tank development in the 1935-1945 time line is a long time.

#7 bojan

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 1840 PM

...
The Pz IV had up to 80 mm up front, but vertically. Face hardened.

As opposed to the ( often faulty ( cast ) ??? ) sloped armour of the M 4.


Then again Pz-IV had 50mm turret vs 76-90mm on Sherman.

#8 Jeff

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 1900 PM

Another "I miss King" topic.

#9 Jonathan Chin

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 0634 AM

I think overall they were well-matched AFVs.

There are many different types of Panzer. IVs but I presume OP already knows that, so I'd limit my post only to the last models, the Panzer Mark IV H & J. They were the significantly up-armored and up-gunned descendants of the original infantry-support Panzer IV, but all that extra armor and gun imposed significant (and some would say too much)weight on the engine and suspension.

Panzer IV models produced during 1943 probably had Rolled Homogeneous Armor rather than Face Hardened Armor, which provided far better protection against Western Allied AP rounds than FH armor. 75mm Shermans would be unable to penetrate the frontal armor on the hull and the superstructure, but it was almost moot since Pz. IV's turret front, mantlet and glacis armor were all highly vulnerable. In American v. German equipment compiled by Gen. White (cmdr. of 2nd US Armored Division) a M5 tanker reported he knocked out a Panzer Mark IV with a 37mm shot to the front(!).

To my knowledge, there wasn't a whole lot of Allied complaints about invulnerable Mark IVs, nor known frontal engagements in which Panzer IVs proved invulnerable. The L/48 put the Panzer Mark IV at another league in firepower. At long range shoot-outs it's probably better to be in a Panzer IV, but I think having the superior gunner would be even better. Close range fighting highly favors the M4 tank, since the Sherman had a high rate of turret traverse and a gyro-stabilizer. To conserve matériel, the last Panzer IV model, PzKpfw IV J, cut corners by omitting the donkey power generator in the turret, so the gun could only be traversed manually. That had to be a severe handicap when fighting in bocages or towns, which happened frequently.

Generally M4 was more mobile, tactically and operationally, on anything except mud. On paper the tanks' mobility characteristics were nearly identical, but anecdotal evidence from both sides strongly suggest that the Sherman was in practice more mobile. Therein lies M4 tank's greatest advantage, speed in exploitation and pursuit. Panzer IVs were adequate, but not as good as the Sherman in that role.

There were numerous variants of M4 tanks with incremental improvements in armor, mobility and firepower. M4A3E8 was the last. Because the Easy Eight more or less equalized the Panzer IV's firepower and protection, in my opinion it was the better tank due to better operational mobility.

Edited by Jonathan Chin, 18 July 2010 - 0643 AM.


#10 Kentucky-roughrider

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 1154 AM

I think overall they were well-matched AFVs.

There are many different types of Panzer. IVs but I presume OP already knows that, so I'd limit my post only to the last models, the Panzer Mark IV H & J. They were the significantly up-armored and up-gunned descendants of the original infantry-support Panzer IV, but all that extra armor and gun imposed significant (and some would say too much)weight on the engine and suspension.

Panzer IV models produced during 1943 probably had Rolled Homogeneous Armor rather than Face Hardened Armor, which provided far better protection against Western Allied AP rounds than FH armor. 75mm Shermans would be unable to penetrate the frontal armor on the hull and the superstructure, but it was almost moot since Pz. IV's turret front, mantlet and glacis armor were all highly vulnerable. In American v. German equipment compiled by Gen. White (cmdr. of 2nd US Armored Division) a M5 tanker reported he knocked out a Panzer Mark IV with a 37mm shot to the front(!).

To my knowledge, there wasn't a whole lot of Allied complaints about invulnerable Mark IVs, nor known frontal engagements in which Panzer IVs proved invulnerable. The L/48 put the Panzer Mark IV at another league in firepower. At long range shoot-outs it's probably better to be in a Panzer IV, but I think having the superior gunner would be even better. Close range fighting highly favors the M4 tank, since the Sherman had a high rate of turret traverse and a gyro-stabilizer. To conserve matériel, the last Panzer IV model, PzKpfw IV J, cut corners by omitting the donkey power generator in the turret, so the gun could only be traversed manually. That had to be a severe handicap when fighting in bocages or towns, which happened frequently.

Generally M4 was more mobile, tactically and operationally, on anything except mud. On paper the tanks' mobility characteristics were nearly identical, but anecdotal evidence from both sides strongly suggest that the Sherman was in practice more mobile. Therein lies M4 tank's greatest advantage, speed in exploitation and pursuit. Panzer IVs were adequate, but not as good as the Sherman in that role.

There were numerous variants of M4 tanks with incremental improvements in armor, mobility and firepower. M4A3E8 was the last. Because the Easy Eight more or less equalized the Panzer IV's firepower and protection, in my opinion it was the better tank due to better operational mobility.


Yes I am well aware of that fact and your right I was only thinking about the Panzer IV that were armed for tank versus tank fights not as a close support tank like the earliest versions were.

Bojan, it needs to be remembered that the earliest Mark IV were built with a short barrle gun that was designed for infantry support and as backup for the panzer battlion and not as a main battle tank, in 36 to 41 that was the role of the Mark III. but I do agree with you that that is still no excuse for a tank designed 5 years later to be only on par with Mark IV

#11 nitflegal

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 1240 PM

Yes I am well aware of that fact and your right I was only thinking about the Panzer IV that were armed for tank versus tank fights not as a close support tank like the earliest versions were.

Bojan, it needs to be remembered that the earliest Mark IV were built with a short barrle gun that was designed for infantry support and as backup for the panzer battlion and not as a main battle tank, in 36 to 41 that was the role of the Mark III. but I do agree with you that that is still no excuse for a tank designed 5 years later to be only on par with Mark IV


Damn I wish King was here, he'd handle this ever so much better than I. However, stealing some of his classic arguments:

The Sherman wasn't on par, it was significantly better in the ways that mattered to the US; Ease and flexibility of manufacture, upgradability, ease of maintenance, and ease of operation. The US had prepped for production by having a lot of heavily tested components (suspension, cannon, engine, transmission, etc) ready to plop in a final design whenever the money spigot turned on. The Sherman design was optimized from the start to be straightforward to mass-produce and adaptable enough that different plants without experience in tank production could modify the deign to fit their capabilities and technologies. Once built, it was by all accounts easy to drive, use the cannon and sights, the radios, and easy to maintain in the field. This was important as the US ended up making these tanks for damned near everyone in the allies, something the Pz IV design was very ill-suited for. And the traditional pro-sherman argument about numbers and reliability kicks in, with the usual points that tank versus tank was comparatively rare, having a design that allowed more comparative Shermans than Pz IV's is a major design improvement so that German soldiers were far more likely than US/British soldiers to have to deal with an enemy tank, etc.

Matt

#12 bojan

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Posted 18 July 2010 - 1800 PM

...Bojan, it needs to be remembered that the earliest Mark IV were built with a short barrle gun that was designed for infantry support and as backup for the panzer battlion and not as a main battle tank, in 36 to 41 that was the role of the Mark III. but I do agree with you that that is still no excuse for a tank designed 5 years later to be only on par with Mark IV

Compared that way, by cherry picking both T-34 and Sherman were inferior to Pz-IV.
Sherman was not on par with IV, it was better in lot of area (mobility, reliability, turret traverse speed etc), equal in some (let's say armor even if Sherman was somewhat better) and inferior in one thing only - gun (until 76mm armed sherman, then it was about equal*), but not in any way it mattered in mutual engagement.
BTW, no part of Pz-IV front was imune to 75mm Sherman*, even if 80mm vertical armor cpuld be only penetrated at 500m or less.

*Check at Armor Scientific forum in "Yu guns vs armor testing" tread.

Edited by bojan, 18 July 2010 - 1802 PM.


#13 Jonathan Chin

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 0440 AM

roughrider

I do agree with you that that is still no excuse for a tank designed 5 years later to be only on par with Mark IV


M4 was on par to the Pz IV in an antiarmor role. In other ways, the M4 was a better fighting vehicle. The Sherman tank was faster on and off road, suffered less mechanical breakdowns in a forced march (upgraded Pz. IV was not as good as Pz. IIIs mobility wise), could traverse terrain inaccessible to Mark IVs, and was available in abundant numbers. This translate to two things.

One, an M4 tank unit was more likely to be successful in maneuvering for tactically advantageous positions before making contact. Getting there faster with more wins firefights. Gun and armor are of secondary importance in comparison. Two, the Americans and the British could afford to give armored support to their infantrymen on a lavish scale unheard of in a typical German leg infantry division. The importance of armor could not be overstated in late war infantry engagements; virtually nobody had the kind of quality infantry needed for assaulting defensive positions without tank support.

IMHO, the M4 tank's ruggedness, servicability, gun controls, turret traverse and indirect fire capability makes it a more versatile and certainly more technologically advanced battle tank than the Pz. IV, a "legacy" platform that was fading into irrelevance by late 1944.

Bojan

Sherman was not on par with IV, it was better in lot of area (mobility, reliability, turret traverse speed etc), equal in some (let's say armor even if Sherman was somewhat better) and inferior in one thing only - gun (until 76mm armed sherman, then it was about equal*),but not in any way it mattered in mutual engagement.
BTW, no part of Pz-IV front was imune to 75mm Sherman*, even if 80mm vertical armor cpuld be only penetrated at 500m or less.


I know, I know. On the charge of gross over-simplication, I plea guilty as charged. However, having some part of your tank that couldn't be penetrated at ranges over 500 meters would be of no mean advantage.

Edited by Jonathan Chin, 19 July 2010 - 0515 AM.


#14 seahawk

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 0741 AM

I have a hard time accepting that the numerical superiority of the M4 can be attributed to the tank and not to the industrial capacity of the country building it. Even if the US would have built the IV and the Germans the M4, does anybody believe that the numbers of available tanks would have been noticeably different?

#15 shep854

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 0747 AM

One of the most damning indictments of the M4 was that it was a "burner". Given that the main source of conflagration was exposed ammo, did PzIVs also brew up as readily, but just didn't get the publicity?

#16 bojan

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 0827 AM

I have a hard time accepting that the numerical superiority of the M4 can be attributed to the tank and not to the industrial capacity of the country building it...


Just look at Pz-IV hull and then at Sherman hull and count weld lines on both.

#17 Paul G.

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 0843 AM

Early 1942, of the medium tanks available (UK, US, Ger, USSR) I would choose the Sherman. Better fighability and reliability of all of them, adequate gun, armor and mobility to defeat most of the threats against it.

#18 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 0855 AM

Better brakes in the Sherman as well. The front diff on an M4 would take a lot of abuse. Once the extra add ons were on the IV the front end was problematic in an automotive sense. The M4 also had better ergonomics. The M4 gun sight was inadequate, though...

#19 nitflegal

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 1032 AM

I have a hard time accepting that the numerical superiority of the M4 can be attributed to the tank and not to the industrial capacity of the country building it. Even if the US would have built the IV and the Germans the M4, does anybody believe that the numbers of available tanks would have been noticeably different?


I'd say they go hand in hand, optimizing a design for mass production means that you can build more of them in the facilities that you have. The Pz IV took more man-hours to build at least in part because the design required more physical man-hours to weld and assemble. I have no doubt that the US could have produced vastly more PZ IV's then Germany did simply through a larger workforces and more production sites. However, I'd expect them to be just as limited by how many man-hours each took and that would have dropped the numbers produced versus the Sherman.

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#20 Martin M

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 1106 AM

All in all the Sherman BETTER be better. It is an about 5 years newer design. Not just that, the Panzer 4 design was done at a time there was no real “yardstick” for a modern tank (WW2 era) design. The US designers also had a look at P 3 and 4 characteristics when designing the Sherman, so I heard.

I don´t accept the “ease of production” song and dance either without someone doing a whole lot of research, methodical counting of welds and components. Without a book or thesis by some student of mechanical engineering, count me sceptical.

Same goes for the reliability thing. I doubt there is a large difference. It seems one would want the Tiger and Panther reliability standard to apply to the smaller P´s too.
(Some account has to be made to the differing capabilities of the maintanence and spare parts availability of German and US repair units. Concerning engines, somewhere along the TN history mention was made of miserable German motor oil quality. For that they held up pretty good.)

The P 4 is good tank and compares well to Sherman, is NOT outclassed by the Sherman and was able to do it´s tasks as well as the Sherman.
Try and compare what P 4 were up against and their value and same for Shermans.



Oh yes, something the youngins of today can relate to : the Panzer IV has BETTER gas mileage !
Sherman : 340 liters per 100 km .
Panzer IV : 225 liters per 100 km !




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