Thursday, November 7, 2013

Operational research in Northwest Europe - No. 2 Operational Research Section

A very interesting report is available from site dtic online. This is the report Operational research in Northwest Europe , the work of No. 2 Operational Research Section 21 Army Group.(originally found through world of tanks forum user GhostUSN)

The No2 research section teams followed the Allied ground troops and estimated the performance and effectiveness of Allied weapons and tactics by gathering data from the battlefield.

There are separate chapters for airpower, artillery, tanks and infantry weapons.

The tank part has interesting information on Allied and German tanks. The superior performance of the German 75mm tank/AT gun versus Allied tanks is proven beyond doubt:

There is also mention of the tendency of the Sherman tank to burst into flames when penetrated by a round:

Table I has a sample of German tank losses for the period 6 June-7 August 1944:

Table VIII has the statistics of ‘brewing up’ for German and Allied tanks:

Table X shows the superior performance of the Panther tank’s frontal armor:

The British report calls the sloped armor ‘outstanding’.

Chapter 11 has tables on the losses of Allied tanks in the period of exploitation after crossing the Seine:

As expected mechanical losses outnumber losses by enemy fire. It also seems that the ‘reliable’ Sherman tank that presumably never broke down needed spare parts just like all the other vehicles of WWII.
Overall this is a fascinating study and at 388 pages it is not an easy read.


  1. So, M4 is bad, T-34 is a myth.... is there a nice tank on Allied side?

    1. Well the Sherman was not necessarily a bad tank but in 1944 it was forced to fight against vehicles that were clearly superior (Panther and Tiger) or older vehicles that had been upgraded with new guns and armor and thus were at least its equal (Panzer IV and Stug III).
      Overall it was a good tank once it received extra armor and a new gun.

  2. The late Panzer IV F2/G was superior to the early Sherman 75mm in North Afrika 1942-1943
    And the late Panzer IV (H & J) were superior to the Normandy late Sherman 75mm's and compariable to the US 76mm Shermans ( although I think the Germans retained the edge vs the M4A1 76mm at least). Never-mind Panthers or Tiger tanks.

  3. But isn't it fascinating to know that when allied studied 223 German "destroyed" combat armor in period between 8 Austust to 31 August 1944 total 171 of them were either destroyed or abandoned by German AFV crews themselves, 76%. Only 18-24% were really destroyed by Allied ground or air forces.

    Germans really lost the war because lack of oil and strategic resources of all kind and because lack of manpool. So do we have to make final conclusions that of those 49 000 lost German combat armor perhaps not much more than 10 000 - 13 000 were destroyed by Soviet or Allied combat forces in combat. Huge majority of German AFV losses was caused by German tank crews themselves?.

    We have similar facts looming behind aircraft write offs. Minority (perhaps 25-40%) of aircraft were lost in combat. Majority were written off because damages, non-operational losses of just because aircraft had became obsolete.

    Battleground itself have played minor role in attrition process than most of us are even thinking.