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George Eller
12-04-2005, 12:37 AM
An interesting comparison of the German and U.S. Armies in the Autumn of 1944 from the book “Lorraine 1944 Patton vs Manteuffel” by Steven J. Zaloga (Osprey, 2000, pp 19-30)

THE GERMAN ARMY

The German Army in Lorraine at the beginning of September 1944 was in a shambles, but was beginning to coalesce around defensive lines along the Moselle River. As the month went on, additional units were brought into the area to stabilize the front and to carry out Hitler's planned counteroffensive. By 1944, the Wehrmacht had become a hollow force. The enormous demands of the Eastern Front and Germany's dwindling manpower reserves had led to formation of large numbers of divisions that were often understrength. The sheer size of the force meant that German divisions were not as well equipped as their American opponents. The average German infantry division depended on horse transport and had no armored vehicles. The average US infantry division was motorized and had attached tank or tank destroyer battalions, making it comparable to German panzer grenadier divisions in capability.

The principal formations of the German Army in Lorraine were infantry divisions of three types: divisions shattered in earlier fighting, new Volksgrenadier divisions that had only recently been raised, or divisions withdrawn more or less intact from southern France. As a result, the infantry formations were of very mixed quality. The 16th Inf. Div., for example, was one of the better units. Earlier in 1944, it had been deployed on occupation duty near the Bay of Biscay and had retreated eastward in August, losing the equivalent of two infantry battalions in fighting with French partisans. By early September, it had a strength of about 7,000 men, above average for the units in Lorraine. Many of the other infantry divisions retained the names and numbers of earlier formations, but were in fact nearly entirely new formations, rebuilt from scratch. The Volksgrenadier divisions were a last-minute attempt by Hitler to mobilize every able-bodied man for a final, desperate effort to defend Germany. This was really scraping the bottom of the barrel: they came from schools, Luftwaffe units, naval units, static fortress units, and support formations. Some were better than others. For example, the 462nd Volksgrenadier Division contained a regiment drawn from a school for young lieutenants who had earned battlefield commissions on the Eastern Front. In nearly all cases, however, the infantry divisions were very weak in anti-tank guns and field artillery.

The Wehrmacht had a very different replacement policy from the US Army, and divisions remained in the field at strengths far short of the tables of organization and equipment. As a result, the order of battle for the two opposing sides in the campaign is somewhat deceptive, since so many German units were substantially understrength while all US divisions were near strength. No German division on the Western Front was rated by the high command as Kampfwert I - that is, able to carry out an all-out attack. The best infantry divisions in the west were graded as Kampfwert II - capable of limited offensive operations. By the middle of September, German forces in the Lorraine region amounted to the equivalent of eight divisions in the main line of resistance, with a further six division-equivalents in reserve.

While much is often made of "battle experience" when evaluating the combat potential of units, there is a point at which battle experience becomes battle exhaustion, and enthusiasm for combat is replaced by an overwhelming urge for self-preservation. Many German units in Lorraine had the worst of all possible combinations: inexperienced troops mixed with veterans who only weeks before had experienced the nightmare of the Falaise Gap slaughter or the harrowing experience of the destruction of Army Group Center in the east. If there was any common thread holding together the Wehrmacht in September 1944, it was the protection of German soil from the imminent threat of invasion.

The German forces in Lorraine were particularly weak in artillery. The Nineteenth Army had lost 1,316 of their 1,481 artillery pieces during the retreat from southern France. Although artillery was not as central to tactics as in World War I, it was still the dominant killing arm on the battlefield. Much of the field artillery in infantry divisions was horse-drawn, and there were frequent shortages of ammunition due to transportation bottlenecks resulting from Allied fighter-bomber interdiction of the roads and railroads. The German lack of firepower was a decided disadvantage.

Technological innovation in the Wehrmacht had also stagnated in other fields, such as communication. Infantry regiments deployed a signals platoon at regimental level, with field telephones and four radio sections. These sections could be deployed at company level. Most communications were done with field telephones, especially in defensive fighting, but in mobile operations, the Wehrmacht was at a disadvantage. The standard German man-pack field radio was old and cumbersome, requiring two soldiers to carry it, and it relied on AM transmission that was more subject to static than the FM radios used by the US infantry. Although the Wehrmacht did deploy forward artillery observers, their communication net was not as widespread or robust as in the US Army, so attacking German formations could not count on artillery fire support to the extent of their American opponents.

The panzer and panzer grenadier divisions in Lorraine were a very mixed lot. The 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Division "Goetz von Berlichingen" had been thoroughly smashed by the US Army during Operation Cobra near St. Lo in early August. It was re-formed around two SS panzer grenadier brigades brought in from Denmark and fleshed out with Luftwaffe troops and Volksdeutsche from the Balkans. Like all of the panzer grenadier divisions in this sector, it had little armor: four Pz IV /70 tank destroyers, 12 StuG III assault guns, and 12 FlakPz 38(t) anti-aircraft tanks. The 3rd and 15th Panzer Grenadier Divisions had been stationed in southern France, and had withdrawn in good order into Lorraine. Both divisions were up to strength in troops, and both had a battalion of the new Pz IV /70 tank destroyers. The 15th Pz. Gren. Div. had a battalion of 36 PzKpfw IV tanks, while the 3rd Pz. Gren. Div. had a battalion of StuG III assault guns.

The 11th Panzer Division was widely regarded as the best tank unit in German service in this sector. Like the two panzer grenadier divisions, it had withdrawn from southern France in good order, but in the process had lost much of its tank strength. Starting with about 60-70 tanks, by the time it was committed to the fighting in Lorraine in mid-September, it was down to 50 tanks, of which 30 were Panthers. The 21st Panzer Division had been heavily committed to the fighting in Normandy and after suffering stiff losses had not been brought back up to strength. It had no tanks at the beginning of the month, though its StugAbt 200 (assault gun battalion) had several StuG III assault guns by mid-month.

As of 20 August 1944. there were only 184 tanks and assault guns on the entire Western Front. This would change by the middle of September as more armor was rushed forward. The plan was to increase the strength in the west to 712 tanks and assault guns by early September in order to carry out Hitler's directives for a Lorraine counteroffensive. Tank production in Germany reached record levels in 1944, thanks to the belated industrial rationalization of Albert Speer. At the same time, however, fuel and manpower shortages meant that there were not enough trained crews or trained tank unit officers to replace the heavy losses in experienced troops. The quality of German tank crews fell steadily in 1944, especially after the summer 1944 disasters. The problem was not the lack of tanks but the lack of tank crews.

The bulk of the German tank strength in Lorraine was located in the new panzer brigades. They had been organized earlier in the summer on Hitler's personal instructions and against the advice of the inspector of the panzer forces, Gen. Heinz Guderian. These brigades were given priority in assignments from the summer's tank production instead of replacing losses in the regular panzer divisions. Most were formed around the remnants of units that had been destroyed in the debacle on the Eastern Front in June and July, when Army Group Center had been destroyed.

The first batch of these brigades, numbered from 101 to 110, were in fact closer to a regiment in strength, with only a single tank battalion. Equipment included 36 Panthers, 11 Pz IV /70 tank destroyers and four Flakpanzers for air defense. The later brigades, numbered above 110, had two tank battalions: one of PzKpfw IV and one of PzKpfw V Panthers. Three of the four brigades used in the Lorraine fighting were of this heavier configuration. On paper at least, these were formidable formations, with 90 tanks and 10 tank destroyers-much more armor than most German panzer divisions of the time possessed. But they were slapdash formations suffering from poor organization and inadequate training. The panzer brigades were intended to be used on the Eastern Front as a potent mobile reserve which could staunch gaps in the line. As a result, they were not well-balanced combined arms forces like normal panzer divisions, but were heavy in tanks and weak in infantry, artillery, reconnaissance, and support. The brigade staff was completely inadequate and the brigade commanders had a difficult time communicating and directing their units. As was the tendency on the Eastern Front, anti-tank weapons had been given more attention than field artillery, and the brigade lacked field artillery fire-support. In addition there was little in the way of reconnaissance units in the brigades; this would become evident in the Lorraine fighting. The brigades also suffered from a lack of tank recovery vehicles and maintenance equipment, which exacerbated their losses in combat, since damaged vehicles could not easily be recovered and were often abandoned.

The brigades were raised in various locations across Germany, and the brigade commanders seldom met their subordinate commanders or their component units until they disembarked from trains in the staging areas leading into Lorraine. Manteuffel later wrote that the panzer brigades would have been effective units on the Eastern Front, an interesting comment considering his extensive experience in that theater. In the west, against a very different opponent, they would prove to be a major disappointment.

Part of the problem of the German forces in the Lorraine counter-offensive was the "Eastern" outlook of many of the units. Manteuffel himself had been brought in from Poland only days before the start of the attack, and the new brigade commanders and many of their troops were veterans of the Eastern Front. While quite prepared to deal with the Red Army, they were unfamiliar with the US Army and its very different tactics and fighting abilities. This would quickly become evident in their use of armor. On the Eastern Front, it was not unusual to use tank formations as a shock force to punch through the emaciated Red Army infantry formations. The Red Army was poorly provided with modern anti-tank weapons and had very limited capability to call in either artillery support or close-air support. This was not the case with the US Army, as would become apparent over the following month.

The Luftwaffe would not prove to be of any use in the ensuing battles. The fighter and fighter-bomber force in France was under the control of Jagdkorps II, while fighters in neighboring Germany deployed for defense of the Reich were controlled by Jagdkorps I. On 29 August 1944, the advance of Allied forces had obliged Jagdkorps II to order all remaining fighter-bomber units out of France and into western Germany. At the beginning of September, there were about 420 fighters and fighter- bombers in this force, of which about 110 covered the Nancy-Metz area of Lorraine.

Unlike the US Army, the Wehrmacht received very little air support during the Lorraine fighting. As with the tanks, this was not so much from lack of aircraft production as from a shortage of trained pilots. The Luftwaffe had suffered massive losses in air battles over the Reich since the spring of 1944, and this had been further accelerated by the summer fighting. To make matters worse, a fuel crisis in August further curtailed training. German aircraft production reached record levels in the summer of 1944, but this did not translate into a readily useful force. US aircraft encountered the Luftwaffe in large numbers on only two occasions during the Lorraine fighting in September, and found that the pilots were inexperienced and vulnerable.
Besides the sheer lack of experienced pilots, the Luftwaffe's fighter-bomber force had atrophied badly by 1944, due in part to the heavy concentration on fighter aviation for defense of the Reich. There was no standardized means for ground direction of close-air support, and despite frequent army calls for air support, none was forthcoming except for a few rare occasions when key bridges were attacked.

The geography of Lorraine held mixed opportunities for both sides. From the German perspective, the Moselle valley formed a natural defense line, since the river has a high rate of flow, many potential crossing sites are wooded, the river banks have a high gradient, and most crossing sites are covered by hills on the east bank. It was particularly formidable in the northern portion of the sector, and likely river crossings were covered by the artillery in the Metz fortresses. Germany had controlled the area around Metz from 1870 to 1918 and again after 1940, so the most modern defenses faced west. The Metz-Thionville Stellung was the major defensive obstacle in Lorraine. The traditional capital of Lorraine, Nancy, has not been fortified in modern times, but the river lines and the plateau of the Massif de Haye on its west bank serve as a significant natural obstacle. The ground most suitable for mobile operations was in the southern sector between Toul and Epinal. This region, known to French planners as the Trouee de Charmes, or the Charmes Gap, had been a traditional battlefield, most recently, three decades before when the German Army had been defeated there in the opening phases of World War I. The area held by Nineteenth Army was notionally located within the defenses of the so-called Kitzinger Line, which had been constructed starting in early August. In reality, there were no substantial new defenses. The weather slightly favored the Germans: September 1944 was unusually wet and foggy, which would severely limit Allied close-air support.


THE US ARMY

Patton's Third Army entered the Lorraine campaign with two corps; its third corps was laying siege to German garrisons at Brest, on the coast. In September 1944, the US Army was in excellent shape after a triumphant dash across France the previous month. The divisions in Patton's Third Army were generally in better condition than those in Hodges' First Army, which had experienced the brutal close-country bocage fighting in June and July 1944. In marked contrast to the German units, which were seldom at full organizational strength, the US Third Army had not yet encountered the personnel shortages that would afflict them in the late autumn. Unit cohesion, training, and morale were generally excellent.

German and American infantry tactics differed in significant ways. The German infantry squad was trained to use their MG 42s as the centerpiece of their tactics, based on World War I experiences which emphasized the importance of machine-guns in infantry combat. In a platoon action, one of the squads would often be equipped with the headquarters' machine-gun, allowing it to serve as the focal point. US tactical doctrine placed emphasis on the individual rifleman, armed with the semi-automatic MI Garand rifle, rather than the BAR squad automatic rifle. Although the US MI Garand had a higher rate of fire than the bolt-action German 98k rifle, US infantry squads were seldom able to achieve firepower superiority over their German opponents due to the lethality of the German machine-gun tactics.

Nevertheless, US infantry formations often enjoyed significant firepower advantages over their German opponents. What the squad and platoon lacked in organic firepower was made up in artillery support. While German and American artillery divisions had similar artillery strength on paper, in reality the US divisions were more likely to actually have their establishment of weapons and more often had adequate ammunition supplies. However, the real advantage in infantry combat was communications, especially in mobile operations. The US infantry had far better and more lavish radio equipment than the Germans. At platoon level, the US Army used the SCR-536 "handie-talkie", a small hand-held AM transceiver. At company level, they used the man-pack SCR-300 "walkie-talkie" FM transceiver to communicate with the battalion and higher headquarters. The German Army had no platoon radios, and their older AM man-pack radios were deployed no lower than at company level. The widespread use of dependable radios meant that US infantry could call for fire support during mobile offensive operations much more easily than their German counterparts.

The US Army deployed better communication equipment, and it was more widely distributed. The SCR-536 was a small hand-held originally designed for paratrooper use. The US Army was the only force in World War II to use radios such as this widely at platoon level. This assisted in coordinating fire support, such as the 60mm mortar seen here in action near Perriers-en-Beaufice on 12 August 1944.

In another important tactical innovation, the US Army in Europe regularly deployed an artillery forward observer team with forward infantry companies. The officer was equipped with a man-portable radio linked to the artillery net, and was assigned both to call in and to correct fire. American units in key sectors also enjoyed the added firepower of corps artillery, and infantry divisions often had additional artillery battalions allotted to their support for special missions. US infantry also had better armored support, often having a tank battalion and tank destroyer battalion added to each division.

The German infantry tended to hold a disparaging view of American infantry, judging them to be less aggressive in close-combat tactics. This was in part a reflection of the stagnation in German infantry tactics. Experienced US infantry units, painfully aware of their firepower shortcomings when up against German infantry squads, were perfectly happy to use the killing power of artillery when it was available instead of suffering needless casualties. This difference in outlook was in part a cultural clash: the pragmatism of the GI versus the romantic fighting spirit of the German Landser (fighting man).

The US armored divisions were far better equipped than their German counterparts in September 1944, being close to establishment strength, and they fought differently. US doctrine held that the penetration of the enemy main line of resistance would be carried out by infantry backed by separate tank battalions and artillery. US armored divisions were held in reserve for exploitation after the penetration had been achieved. German panzer divisions were frequently used to win the penetration, a tactic that had proven increasingly costly as the war went on and infantry anti-tank tactics and technology improved. As a result, US armored divisions were not generally employed like the panzer brigades in Lorraine as a shock force to overcome enemy infantry formations. In this respect, the US was closer to the Red Army's tank corps in doctrine than to the German practices. US armored divisions were true combined-arms teams, especially when compared to the tank-poor German panzer divisions and tank-heavy panzer brigades. It is often forgotten that each US armored division had the same number of artillery and armored infantry battalions as tank battalions - three each. In addition, US armored divisions were often reinforced with additional infantry or artillery for specific missions.

The primary US combat unit was the combat command. Each combat command was tailored to the tactical mission but generally included a tank battalion, an armored infantry battalion, and an armored field artillery battalion. Other units could be added from division or corps. For example, during part of the Lorraine fighting, the 4th Armored Division's Combat Command A had three artillery battalions at its disposal. Each division normally employed three combat commands, CCA, CCB, and CCR. In some divisions, all three combat commands were in combat at one time. The 4th Armd. Div., which bore the brunt of the Lorraine tank fighting, used its structure in the intended fashion, with the CCR serving as a reserve. Battle-weary battalions would periodically be cycled through the CCR to prevent the corrosive effects of battle exhaustion.

In terms of weaponry, the German panzer force enjoyed a significant technological advantage with its Panther-tank. US tank design had stagnated during the war years because of the failure of the Army Ground Forces and the armored force to absorb and learn from the advances in tank technology. As a result, the armored divisions in Lorraine were using essentially the same M4 medium tank as had been standard in Tunisia two years before. New M4 medium tanks were becoming available with the newer 76mm gun, but they were not numerous, their armor was not improved, and their armor penetration capability was inferior to the German Panther's long 75mm gun. The M4 with 76mm gun was disparaged by Pat ton, and was not initially popular in the 4th Armored Division. Tankers felt that the 75mm gun was more versatile than the 76mm gun, which was optimized for tank fighting only. In a head-to-head tank fight at normal combat ranges, the Panther was impervious to the M4 tank's 75mm gun, but the Panther could destroy the M4 tank frontally at any reasonable combat range. The main advantage enjoyed by US tankers compared to German panzer crews in 1944 was superior training. German fuel supplies were so low and training time so short that the quality of German tank crews had declined precipitously since the glory days of 1939-42. German tanks were still very dangerous because of their technological advantage, or when used from defilade, but in Lorraine, the US tankers usually prevailed. Innovative tactics played an important part. A popular tactic in experienced US tank battalions when encountering Panthers was to strike them first with white phosphorous smoke rounds. Inexperienced German crews would sometimes be forced out by the acrid smoke, drawn in through the tank's ventilator. Even if these tricks did not work, the smoke prevented the Panthers from locating their opponents, giving the M4 tanks time to maneuver to the flanks or rear, where their 75mm gun could penetrate the Panther's armor. This tactic was standard operating procedure in some units, including CCA, 4th Armored Division. Some US tank units preferred to fire high-explosive rounds at the Panther, finding that inexperienced German crews would simply abandon their tank.

US tankers enjoyed the same communications advantage as the US infantry. Their tanks used modern FM radios, and better radio communications meant that tank companies could call for artillery fire support, and in some cases close-air support, to carry out their mission. This was often the case when a column was stopped by hidden German armor in defilade position, which could not be easily eliminated by direct tank fire. Each tank battalion had a platoon of M4 tanks with 105mm howitzers in the headquarters company, and most combat commands had at least one battalion of self-propelled M7 105mm howitzer motor carriages for each tank battalion, sometimes more. US armored divisions had advantages in less recognized areas as well. Armored units were better supplied with engineer equipment, which was essential in mobile operations for river crossing. An important innovation was the engineer's treadway bridge, which could be broken down into loads small enough to fit into standard 21/2"ton trucks. Coincidentally, it was the commander of Patton's spearhead formation, Col. Bruce Clarke, an engineer by training, who had been the army's prime advocate for the development of rapid bridging equipment for the armored force.

The US Army had the greater number of tanks in the Lorraine sector. German strength was never more than 350 tanks, even at the peak of the tank fighting in the third week of September. The Third Army started out the campaign with about 165 M5A1 light tanks, 596 M4 (75mm) and 76 M4 (76mm) medium tanks, and about 450 M10 and M18 tank destroyers. About 40 percent of the tanks were in separate tank battalions supporting the infantry, and the remainder were in the armored divisions.

If there was one combat arm in which the US Army had unquestioned superiority over the Wehrmacht, it was the artillery. This was not simply a question of quantity. The US field artillery battalions were more modem than their German counterparts in nearly all respects. While their cannon were not significantly different in capability, the US field artillery battalions were entirely motorized, while German field artillery, especially infantry division units, was still horse-drawn. US heavy artillery was mechanized, using fully tracked high-speed tractors. The high level of motorization provided mobility for the batteries, and also ensured supply.

The US field artillery also enjoyed a broader and more modem assortment of communication equipment. Another US innovation was the fire direction center (FDC). Located at battalion, division, and corps level, the FDC concentrated the analog computers and other calculation devices alongside the communication equipment, permitting prompt receipt of messages and prompt calculation of fire missions. This level of communication allowed new tactics, the most lethal of which was TOT or "time-on-target." Field artillery is most effective when the first few rounds catch the enemy out in the open. Once the first few rounds have landed, enemy troops take cover, and the rate of casualties to subsequent fire declines dramatically. The aim of TOT was to deliver the fire on the target simultaneously, even from separate batteries. TOT fire missions were more lethal and more economical of ammunition than traditional staggered fire-strikes, and effective communication meant that the batteries could switch targets rapidly as well.

Another firepower advantage enjoyed by the US Army in the Lorraine fighting was air support. The US Army Air Forces tactical air commands (TAC) were structured to operate in direct support of a single army. As a result, Pat ton's Third Army had Brig. Gen. Otto Weyland's XIX TAC attached. US tactical air units were more tightly integrated than in any other army, and Weyland's command was co-located with Patton's headquarters. The XIX TAC generally had about 400 aircraft available, usually organized into two fighter wings, each organized into groups with an average of three fighter squadrons per group. A fighter squadron had 25 aircraft; a squadron mission typically employed 12 fighters; and a group mission used 36. At the beginning of September, XIX TAC had seven fighter groups and one photo reconnaissance group. The majority of the XIX TAC squadrons were equipped with the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bomber to provide close support and interdiction using heavy machine-gun fire, bombs, napalm, and rockets. There were also one or two squadrons of P-51s, which were used to provide tactical air cover as well as "fast reconnaissance," including spotting for the corps' heavy 240mm guns. The XIX TAC conducted a larger proportion of close-air support missions out of their total combat missions than any other TAC in Europe.

The XIX TAC deployed 20 radio teams with the ground units: one team per corps and infantry division headquarters, two with each armored division (with each combat command), and one with each cavalry group when they were performing key screening or holding missions. The team was based around a radio crew that linked the division to the XIX TAC headquarters by means of a SCR-624 radio installed in the division's truck- mounted SCR-399 "doghouse." The tactical air liaison officers (TALO) operated from "veeps" -jeeps with a rack-mounted SCR-522 VHF aircraft radio. They deployed forward with advancing units so that they could vector attacking fighter-bombers onto targets much in the same fashion as artillery forward observers.

The effectiveness of close-air support in World War II remains controversial. Both the Allies and the Germans tended to exaggerate its power: the US air force in its post-war struggle to become a separate service, the Germans as an excuse for poor battlefield performance. Wartime and post-war operational studies have concluded that the ability of fighter-bombers to knock out tanks on the battlefield was greatly exaggerated. In a post-battle survey after the Ardennes fighting in 1945 of a XIX TAC sector, it was found that aircraft had knocked out about six armored vehicles of the 90 claimed. The munitions of the day- unguided rockets, bombs, and heavy machine-guns -were not sufficiently accurate or sufficiently powerful to destroy many tanks. On the other hand, fighter- bombers had an enormous psychological impact, bolstering the morale of GIs and terrifying the average German soldier. German field commanders spoke of the fear instilled by close-air attack in much the same way as they spoke of the "tank panic" of the 1939-41 blitzkrieg years, and as in the case of tank panic, the psychological effects of close-air attack lessened quickly through experience.

The most effective employment of close-air support was to attack supply columns, storage areas, and other soft targets. Even if not particularly effective against the tanks themselves, fighter-bombers could severely limit the mobility of panzer units by forcing them to conduct road marches only at night. Furthermore, the avaricious demand for fuel and ammunition in modem armies made them very vulnerable to supply cut-offs. A panzer brigade could be rendered as ineffective by destroying its trucks and supply vehicles as by destroying the tanks themselves. The commander of CCA of the 4th Armd. Div., Col. Bruce Clarke, later remarked, "We were certainly glad to have [close-air support] but I would say their effect was certainly not decisive in any place."

Besides the fighter-bombers, US divisions had organic aviation in the form of L4 (Piper Cub) and other liaison aircraft, popularly called "Flying Grasshoppers." These were primarily used to correct field artillery and conduct artillery reconnaissance. Col. Clarke flew ahead of his advancing tank columns in one, enabling him to direct the columns with precision.
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Hiddenrug
12-04-2005, 12:58 AM
Very Very interesting. Theres something I didn't know befor :!:

Man of Stoat
12-04-2005, 05:49 AM
Although the US MI Garand had a higher rate of fire than the bolt-action German 98k rifle, US infantry squads were seldom able to achieve firepower superiority over their German opponents due to the lethality of the German machine-gun tactics.

Just what we had been telling TINWALT for ages, but he was having none of it...

George Eller
12-04-2005, 07:53 PM
Quote:
Although the US MI Garand had a higher rate of fire than the bolt-action German 98k rifle, US infantry squads were seldom able to achieve firepower superiority over their German opponents due to the lethality of the German machine-gun tactics.

Just what we had been telling TINWALT for ages, but he was having none of it...


After the war the US even considered copying the MG-42. The following is a quote from the book "The Complete Machine-Gun" by Ian V. Hogg (Phoebus Publishing Company, 1979, pp 62-63).

"At one stage there was a possibility that the US might have gone into production with a copy of the German MG-42, as they were so impressed with it. A company was given some MG-42s and a contract to develop a copy as the US T24 machine-gun. After about a year's work two guns were built but their test was a fiasco. What started out as a 'ten thousand round endurance test' came to a stop after just over 1000 rounds had been fired with 50 stoppages. Investigation showed that a draughtsman had made a small error in dimensioning the gun, with the result that the body was a quarter of an inch too short, leading in turn to various malfunctions. The amount of redesign needed to sort this out was considered to be not worthwhile, and the project was cancelled.

After that inauspicious start several other projects were initiated, but it was not until the acceptance of the 7.62 mm NATO cartridge that serious work could begin. Once the cartridge was agreed, the M60 machine-gun took shape. Much of the design was taken from German originals. The gas system and rotating bolt came from the Parachutist Automatic Rifle [Fallschirmjager Gewehr FG42], and the belt-feed system fromthe MG-42."


As they say "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".

But in the end, American superiority in communications and artillery support often trounced the German edge in machine-gun tactics


Nevertheless, US infantry formations often enjoyed significant firepower advantages over their German opponents. What the squad and platoon lacked in organic firepower was made up in artillery support.

The German infantry tended to hold a disparaging view of American infantry, judging them to be less aggressive in close-combat tactics. This was in part a reflection of the stagnation in German infantry tactics. Experienced US infantry units, painfully aware of their firepower shortcomings when up against German infantry squads, were perfectly happy to use the killing power of artillery when it was available instead of suffering needless casualties. This difference in outlook was in part a cultural clash: the pragmatism of the GI versus the romantic fighting spirit of the German Landser (fighting man).

Man of Stoat
12-05-2005, 03:28 AM
George:

They failed to realise that .30-06 (7.62x63) his significantly longer than 8 mm Mauser (7.92x57). Mongs!

George Eller
12-05-2005, 09:22 PM
George:

They failed to realise that .30-06 (7.62x63) his significantly longer than 8 mm Mauser (7.92x57). Mongs!


M.o.S.:

I think that you're on to something. The 6mm difference in cartridge length would equate to roughly one-quarter of an inch. You would think that they would have taken greater care in their research and in cross checking their drawings. Looks like the draughtsman took the blame.


Investigation showed that a draughtsman had made a small error in dimensioning the gun, with the result that the body was a quarter of an inch too short, leading in turn to various malfunctions. The amount of redesign needed to sort this out was considered to be not worthwhile, and the project was cancelled.

It probably didn't matter in the long run because the 7.62 x 51mm was eventually adopted as the standard NATO cartridge. Hence, the T24 machine-gun would have required another revision. And the M60 was designed and adopted as the standard general purpose machine-gun anyway.

The US Army began looking for a replacement for the M73/M219 machine-gun for use on armoured vehicles following the 1973 Middle-East War. Below is a quote from the book "Small Arms of the World" by Edward Clinton Ezell ( Stackpole Books, 1977, p 58 ).

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"When the Israeli Armored Corps had serious problems (the major one being the failure to extract empty shells when the extractor broke off parts of the cartridge rims) with the M73/M219 during the Yom Kippur war of 1973, the US Army began to look for a replacement.

Besides the M60, M60E2 and M73/M219, six "off-the-shelf" foreign weapons were thoroughly examined to determine their suitability as replacements for the M219 - the French Mle. 1952 AAT NF1, the Belgian Fabrique Nationale Mitrailleuse a gas 58 (MAG58 or GPMG), the UK L8A1 (British version of the MAG58), the Canadian C1 (M1919A4 converted to 7.62mm NATO by Canadian Arsenals Ltd.), the German MG3 and the Soviet Kalashnikov-designed PKM. Beginning in 1974, a series of tests were carried out in two phases (Development Test and Operational Test phase II [DT/OTII] and later DT/OTIII). Operational evaluation of the three US guns was carried out at the Fort Knox Armor Center. Technical laboratory examinations, including test stand firings, were conducted at Aberdeen Proving Grounds for all nine weapons.

Two criteria were given special consideration. These were the so-called Mean Rounds Between Stoppages (MRBS) and Mean Rounds Between Failures (MRBF). The difference between a stoppage and a failure was defined in terms of the time the gun was out of action. Stoppages were less than a minute, while failures jammed the weapon for over a minute or were the result of parts breakage. After a careful test, the machine guns were ranked in order of superiority of performance:

1. M60E2
2. MAG58
3. M60
4. PKM
5. L8A1
6. MG3
7. AAT52
8. M219
9. C1"
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Note that following these tests the M60 series machine-guns ranked higher than the German MG3 (post-war production of the MG-42 in 7.62mm NATO). So maybe it worked out for the best that the US did not adopt the MG-42 afterall.
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Cuts
12-06-2005, 05:05 AM
...

Note that following these tests the M60 series machine-guns ranked higher than the German MG3 (post-war production of the MG-42 in 7.62mm NATO). So maybe it worked out for the best that the US did not adopt the MG-42 afterall.

Also the fact that such tests are often slanted to favour a certain weapon that the bean counters/politicos have decided on.

NIH becomes a big factor in many of these 'tests.'

Firefly
12-06-2005, 05:39 AM
NIH?

Cuts
12-06-2005, 06:11 AM
Not Invented Here

George Eller
12-06-2005, 09:56 AM
Also the fact that such tests are often slanted to favour a certain weapon that the bean counters/politicos have decided on.

NIH becomes a big factor in many of these 'tests.'

Not Invented Here

You would think so. But in this case I don't think it affected the final outcome, as the MAG58 was eventually chosen as the successor to the M73/M219 series machine-guns for use on all armoured vehicles.

I am at work now and will explain in more detail later.
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Dani
12-06-2005, 10:10 AM
I selected the above posts and I splitted from Australian Infantry.

Twitch1
12-06-2005, 01:39 PM
George- nice to see something from someone well researched and having conclusions drawn instead of simply opinions made. :D

George Eller
12-06-2005, 01:52 PM
Thanks Twitch, I appreciate that. :wink:

George Eller
12-08-2005, 09:19 PM
Also the fact that such tests are often slanted to favour a certain weapon that the bean counters/politicos have decided on.

NIH becomes a big factor in many of these 'tests.'

Not Invented Here

You would think so. But in this case I don't think it affected the final outcome, as the MAG58 was eventually chosen as the successor to the M73/M219 series machine-guns for use on all armoured vehicles.

I am at work now and will explain in more detail later.

As promised, following is an account of the final evaluation phase (DT/OTIII) of testing to select the replacement for the M73/M219 machine-gun for use on US armoured vehicles.

A rehash of the first phase as follows:

Besides the M60, M60E2 and M73/M219, six "off-the-shelf" foreign weapons were thoroughly examined to determine their suitability as replacements for the M219 - the French Mle. 1952 AAT NF1, the Belgian Fabrique Nationale Mitrailleuse a gas 58 (MAG58 or GPMG), the UK L8A1 (British version of the MAG58), the Canadian C1 (M1919A4 converted to 7.62mm NATO by Canadian Arsenals Ltd.), the German MG3 and the Soviet Kalashnikov-designed PKM. Beginning in 1974, a series of tests were carried out in two phases (Development Test and Operational Test phase II [DT/OTII] and later DT/OTIII). Operational evaluation of the three US guns was carried out at the Fort Knox Armor Center. Technical laboratory examinations, including test stand firings, were conducted at Aberdeen Proving Grounds for all nine weapons.

Two criteria were given special consideration. These were the so-called Mean Rounds Between Stoppages (MRBS) and Mean Rounds Between Failures (MRBF). The difference between a stoppage and a failure was defined in terms of the time the gun was out of action. Stoppages were less than a minute, while failures jammed the weapon for over a minute or were the result of parts breakage. After a careful test, the machine guns were ranked in order of superiority of performance:

1. M60E2
2. MAG58
3. M60
4. PKM
5. L8A1
6. MG3
7. AAT52
8. M219
9. C1"

Note that following these tests the M60 series machine-guns ranked higher than the German MG3 (post-war production of the MG-42 in 7.62mm NATO).

The final evaluation phase (DT/OTIII) of testing to select the replacement for the M73/M219 machine-gun narrowed the competition down to the two top contenders of the first phase of testing shown above. Following quoted from the book "Small Arms of the World" by Edward Clinton Ezell ( Stackpole Books, 1977, pp 58-59 ):


"In March 1975, US Army authorities held a meeting on the coaxial armor machine gun and decided the following. Production and product improvements of the M219 should be terminated; shortcomings in the M60E2 should be corrected; and a new round of tests should be readied. At the end of March, the Army purchased 10 production model coaxial guns from FN. By that time, the Belgian firm and its licensees had manufactured over 700,000 MAGs, which had an operational system similar to US Browning Automatic Rifles. Fewer modifications were necessary to the Belgian weapon to make it fit the coaxial role, and the major alteration involved adding a cocking cable with a return spring. The standard gas regulator was replaced by a special unit that did not have any vents. A different flash suppressor was mounted on the barrels in some versions purchased in Europe. Whereas the barrel extension of the M60E2 protruded through the protective turret mantlet, the MAG barrel was hidden. Gas evacuation was provided by the flash suppressor. The tank version of the MAG could more readily be adapted to ground use by fitting a buttstock and mounting the gun on a lightweight tripod. A final advantage was its ability (with minor parts changeout) to use either the US M13 links or the German DM6 continuous link belts.

The final evaluation phase (DT/OTIII) was divided into three parts - technical testing (parts functioning and operational utilization), human engineering testing (interface between weapon and operator/tank) and RAM-D testing (Reliability, Availability, Maintainability-Durability). The last element, durability and ruggedness, was given the greatest weight in the subsequent evaluations. All of the Maremont M60s displayed a remarkable life span--0ver 100,000 rounds were fired without any parts problems. FN's guns began to show rivet breakages in the receiver at about 70,000 rounds, but they remained serviceable until well over 90,000 rounds. In the reliability test, the MAG was superior as the following indicates:

Type_____No. of rounds fired__MRBS___MRBF
M60E2____50,000____________846____1,699
MAG58____50,000__________2,962____6,442
Minimum specified____________850____2,675
Minimum desired___________1,750____5,500

As a result of the US trials at Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Carson, Colorado, the MAG has been adopted as the M240 machine gun for eventual use in all American armored fighting vehicles (M60A1, M60A2, M48, M551, MICV and XM1). On 14 January 1977, the US Army and Fabrique Nationale signed a contract for 10,000 M240 machine guns. Subsequently, an American producer will fabricate metric dimensioned M240s from a Technical Data Package provided by FN. The Belgian company will receive a royalty payment on all American made M240s, just as Colt is paid for each M16 Rifle that is made outside their own factory. Early M240s will be installed in the Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicles (MICVs). Later, the new machine gun will be used in place of the M73/M219, which will be phased out. The US Marine Corps will use the M60E2 in their M60A1 tanks. Over 45 nations currently include the various models of the MAG in their armed forces' inventories.

The process by which the M240 was selected may well set the tone for future NATO standardization efforts. For the first time, the US Army will utilize a foreign designed infantry/tank weapon. This test program was a far cry from the emotionally charged rifle standardization attempt. Fabrique Nationale and other arms manufacturers hope that the adoption of the M240 will set a precedent for the future and thus give real significance to the NATO ammunition trials." [book printed 1977]

http://img482.imageshack.us/img482/6267/mag584mf.jpg