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Thread: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

  1. #76
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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    Quote Originally Posted by Panzerknacker View Post
    Well, they could be used as mobile fire support for the kiwis , purely fighting agaist infantry, the Matilda armor cannot be defeated by the ridiculous 8mm antitank rifles wich some nazi paratroopers carried, the terrain didnt help much for tank mobility either.
    They wouldn't have been the first choice against the Matildas, but certainly they did knock out some light tanks...

  2. #77
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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    Good info Nick,I am pretty sure no german panzer landed until the end of the fight for Crete. Maybe some halftrack but surely no tanks.

  3. #78
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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    Quote Originally Posted by Panzerknacker View Post
    Good info Nick,I am pretty sure no german panzer landed until the end of the fight for Crete. Maybe some halftrack but surely no tanks.
    Would the Germans have been able to bring a tank in during the battle for Crete?

    After the Germans had secured the crucial main airfield at Maleme, they brought in reinforcements etc through that airfield. Could they have transported a tank by air?

    Could they have brought tanks in by sea when they didn't control the Mediterranean?


    Separate aspect on tank use, and loss, in small engagements in Crete.

    New Zealand counter-attack


    Destroyed British tank at Galatas

    As the New Zealanders withdrew, the Germans wasted no time in occupying Galatas. Colonel Howard Kippenberger, commanding 10th (NZ) Brigade, realised that if the village was not retaken it would become a jumping-off point for an attack on the New Zealand line. So when two light tanks from the British 7th Royal Tank Regiment arrived that evening, Kippenberger quickly formulated plans for a counter-attack.

    [Lieutenant] Farran stopped and spoke to me and I told him to go into the village and see what was there. He clattered off [in the tanks] and we could hear him firing briskly, when two more companies of the Twenty-third arrived … each about eighty strong. They halted on the road near me. The men looked tired, but fit to fight and resolute… . I told the two company commanders they would have to retake Galatos with the help of the two tanks… . The men fixed bayonets and waited grimly.

    Colonel Howard Kippenberger in D.M. Davin, Crete, 1953, p. 311

    Kippenberger placed the remnants of 18th Battalion on the eastern edge of Galatas. At the same time, two companies from 23rd Battalion fixed bayonets and moved into position on either side of the road into the village. The plan was simple: each company would attack on their side of the road behind the two tanks.
    Alfred Hulme VC

    Sergeant Alfred Hulme, 23rd Battalion, played a prominent part in the counter-attack at Galatas. When the New Zealand assault was delayed by a German strongpoint, Hulme rushed forward alone and used hand grenades to clear the position. For this action, and earlier exploits around Maleme airfield on 21–22 May, Hulme was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) in October 1941. Read more.

    The tanks set off just after 8 p.m., followed by the infantry. They were soon under fire from all sides. Rather than stopping and clearing each house, the New Zealanders raced through the village to the main square. There they found the tanks: one was knocked out, the other damaged. Under heavy fire from the other side of the square, the men charged. The action was brutal – much of the fighting was at close quarters with bayonets and rifle butts – and the Germans withdrew in disarray. Reinforced by 18th Battalion, the New Zealanders pressed forward. When the fighting died down, the Germans had been pushed back to the south-west corner of the village.

    Despite the success of the counter-attack the decision was made to withdraw from Galatas. The New Zealanders did not have the resources to hold the village – a lack of men, artillery and air support had left the defending troops exhausted. There was also concern that the Luftwaffe (German air force) would begin bombing Galatas. With many civilians still inside the village, it was considered an unacceptable risk for the New Zealanders to remain there. In order to maintain an unbroken defensive line, Puttick ordered his forward brigades to withdraw and set up a new line west of Canea.
    http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/the-...battle-day-4-6
    ..
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  4. #79
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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    Quote Originally Posted by Panzerknacker View Post
    Good info Nick,I am pretty sure no german panzer landed until the end of the fight for Crete. Maybe some halftrack but surely no tanks.
    I would agree. The only other possibility I think is perhaps the Germans put some captured/abandoned 'beutepanzers' back into service. But it seems the Commonwealth forces were pretty good about destroying the engines of any abandoned vehicles (usually with sand put into the sump then racing the engine). And as stated, many of the British tanks may already had been barely serviceable...

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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Would the Germans have been able to bring a tank in during the battle for Crete?

    After the Germans had secured the crucial main airfield at Maleme, they brought in reinforcements etc through that airfield. Could they have transported a tank by air?

    Could they have brought tanks in by sea when they didn't control the Mediterranean?

    ...

    I don't see how they could have. AFAIK, the Ju-52 Junkers was the only widely available transport and I doubt it could carry a panzer. And there was an effort by the Kriegsmarine and Italian Navy to send a flotilla or rickety sailing ships to Crete, but this was destroyed by a Royal Navy sortie and was nothing more than a resupply effort, the heaviest equipment I think being AA guns...

  6. #81
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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    Incidentally, here is a relevant thread over at Axis: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtop...f=114&t=220187

  7. #82
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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    The only german machine that fly and could transport a tank in may 1941 was the Messerschmitt Me 321 Gigant, but they never had a proper 4 engined bomber for towing the beast, much less with 15 to 20 tons of tank inside. The tug He-111Z entered in service in late 1941.

  8. #83
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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    Quote Originally Posted by Panzerknacker View Post
    The only german machine that fly and could transport a tank in may 1941 was the Messerschmitt Me 321 Gigant, but they never had a proper 4 engined bomber for towing the beast, much less with 15 to 20 tons of tank inside. The tug He-111Z entered in service in late 1941.
    I did a quick Google search on the Gigant, which I hadn't heard of before. Looks like it needed specialised equipment to move it around on the airfield, so that would have to be flown in too, creating a bigger logistical drain on German aviation resources.

    Even if there was a suitable tug for it during Crete:

    1. Was there a launching airfield under German control within range of Crete?
    2. Was the airfield at Maleme, or other open ground on Crete, suitable to land the Gigant with a panzer on board? Obviously, there's no "go around" power for a second approach on a glider, and the British experience with gliders at Arnhem demonstrates that glider landings tended to have high crash rates compared with powered aircraft.
    2. Could the airfield at Maleme launch the Gigant and its tug for a return trip?

    My suspicion is that, even if the Germans had a suitable tug for the Gigant, the logistical effort and problems in getting a few panzers onto Crete by air would have been better directed to landing more troops and artillery, although the Germans won with what they actually had anyway.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 01-30-2016 at 03:01 AM.
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  9. #84
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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    The answer came in last nights reading - I think Beevor is referring to Italian tanks and tankettes that were delivered via an unopposed landing at Sitia performed Il Duce style (after an enemy was already essentially defeated by his ally Germany). I don't have the source handy, but Beevor mentions how German mountain officer wrote a scathing journal entry regarding the Italian tankers lack-of-will to fight, but warns that such entries needed to be taken with a grain of salt. The heer linked up with some Italian armor and used them for infantry support towards the end of the battle...
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 01-30-2016 at 10:13 AM. Reason: link

  10. #85
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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    The Italians were nowhere near the easybeats that British wartime propaganda made them out to be. Their army in Africa was the wrong shape: the lean, mean Brits took advantage of this - fought the right type of war for their resources. The Italian colonial troops - as expected - folded like paper. The professionals manning the artillery were a different proposition, and gave the Commonwealth forces a hard fight. Little could be said for their poorly-equipped armoured forces. Italian tanks just sucked - that's right, they sucked-in British 2pdr projectiles like they couldn't get enough. In that environment, the Matilda II came into its own - invincible against the then-current threat, but outmatched by German 88mm guns later in the campaign.

    Cheers,
    Cliff

  11. #86
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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliSwe View Post
    The Italians were nowhere near the easybeats that British wartime propaganda made them out to be. Their army in Africa was the wrong shape: the lean, mean Brits took advantage of this - fought the right type of war for their resources....

    Cheers,
    Cliff
    I agree. Rick Atkinson gives numerous examples of Italian troops putting up spirited, even bitter resistance to U.S. troops in Italy. He recounts instances in the mountains where the Allied advantage in mobility and firepower were mitigated by terrain and in these circumtances, the Italian soldier often fought hard. In one passage, Italian and American soldiers were reduced to throwing rocks at one another in the mountains...

  12. #87
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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    Quote Originally Posted by CliSwe View Post
    The Italians were nowhere near the easybeats that British wartime propaganda made them out to be. Their army in Africa was the wrong shape: the lean, mean Brits took advantage of this - fought the right type of war for their resources. The Italian colonial troops - as expected - folded like paper. The professionals manning the artillery were a different proposition, and gave the Commonwealth forces a hard fight. Little could be said for their poorly-equipped armoured forces. Italian tanks just sucked - that's right, they sucked-in British 2pdr projectiles like they couldn't get enough. In that environment, the Matilda II came into its own - invincible against the then-current threat, but outmatched by German 88mm guns later in the campaign.

    Cheers,
    Cliff
    The italian tank issue en 1939-41 was particulary awful, they probably should bought the license and tools to produce the panzer III and its arc welding technology.


    RS
    1. Was there a launching airfield under German control within range of Crete?
    Yes, they controlled mainland Greece.

    Was the airfield at Maleme, or other open ground on Crete, suitable to land the Gigant with a panzer on board? Obviously, there's no "go around" power for a second approach on a glider, and the British experience with gliders at Arnhem demonstrates that glider landings tended to have high crash rates compared with powered aircraft.
    It could be done,the exercise was feasible.

    3. Could the airfield at Maleme launch the Gigant and its tug for a return trip?
    No, they need a very long take off with heavy loads.

  13. #88
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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    I reread Beevor's Crete and it seems the German 5th Panzer Div. was able to land a small number of tanks apparently but he only briefly mentions it and doesn't specify which tanks the German Luftwaffe and Heer used to finally secure Crete...

    Incidentally some Matilda and "Whippet" tanks were in operation until nearly the end of the battle and were somewhat successful deployed in desperate, spirited counterattacks (until they mostly broke down) holding up the German advance and allowing a larger number of evacuees to get to Egypt. About 15,000 Commonwealth troops were withdrawn...
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 11-25-2016 at 08:59 AM.

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    Default Re: The Matilda, queen of the desert.

    Does anybody have the data for British World War 2 tank engines, especially the Matilda II?
    It seems that the overall dimensions of British tank engines are still top secret. Of the many books I've read and websites visited, none gives the dimensions. I recently bought an AEC book, but it doesn't give any details as to the size of its engines.

    Irritatingly, books about WW2 tanks just seem to recycle the same old stuff, such as the Meadows Flat 12 was low in height, but very wide, then go on about how radiators had to be relocated and so on. Frankly, it makes for boring reading when the actual length, width and height are never cited. It is a bit easier to find data about American tank engines of the period.

    I've found the same thing concerning turret rings too and very often when given, different numbers are given, depending on the source. As engine size appeared to be crucial to the development of useless British tanks such as the Covenanter, it would not be unreasonable to assume that readers would be interested in the actual dimensions, but alas, this isn't the case.

    So if anyone knows of a good reference book or website with British tank engine data, please let me know.

    So

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