Home Forums WWI Tankgewehr successes?

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  • #137732
    Ivan SorensenIvan Sorensen
    Participant

    None of the books I have are very tank-specific.
    What I am looking for is cases where the German Tankgewehr (anti-tank rifles) managed to stop a tank, whether that’s due to several crew injuries, knocking out a driving component etc.

    I’ve found references in the past to tanks having holes shot in them but trundling on, having holes shot in them and not even realizing it until later, Tankgewehr bullets richocheting with no effect and so forth.

    What I am after are instances where it’s reasonably certain they were the primary weapon that stopped an Allied tank (for some value of “stopped”).

    Thanks in advance

    Nordic Weasel Games
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    #137741
    WhirlwindWhirlwind
    Participant

    Ivan, specifically German you are after?  Or would any anti-tank rifle success against tanks do?

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #137777
    Ivan SorensenIvan Sorensen
    Participant

    I was originally thinking in a WW1 context specifically but I suppose any would do.

    I saw one author claim not a single tank in Africa was knocked out by a Boys AT rifle.

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    #137795
    MartinRMartinR
    Participant

    The searchlight detachment at Les Attaques near Dunkirk shot up 10th Panzer Div fairly effectively with their Boys ATRs.

    The Italians might dispute the desert claim, 11th Hussars used the Boys At rifles in their Rolls Royce Armoured Cars to knock out L3s.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #137813
    Mike HeaddenMike Headden
    Participant

    Ivan,

    Soviet forces in WW2 deployed entire platoons of anti-tank rifle troops throughout the war. Apparently successful against light vehicles throughout the war and against the lighter tanks early on. As the war wore on the massed AT fire was used against running gear (it’s why schurtzen were introduced), vision blocks, turret traverse and anything else that would degrade the effectiveness of the tank.

    I remember seeing German propaganda footage years ago of a German tank returning under it’s own steam after being hit scores (hundreds?) of times by AT rifle fire. It was trumpeted by the voice-over as a great success and proof of the invincibility of German technology. Frankly it looked to me like it would need new running gear, tracks, gun and possibly turret – the tank equivalent of the Ship of Theseus! It may not strictly have been knocked out but I’d say that in wargames terms it had been eliminated.

    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!

    #137823
    Ivan SorensenIvan Sorensen
    Participant

    Appreciate it guys!

    From what I’ve understood even Panther tanks were vulnerable to flanking shots from AT rifles.

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    #138163
    WhirlwindWhirlwind
    Participant

    From what I’ve understood even Panther tanks were vulnerable to flanking shots from AT rifles.

    Really?  I am very surprised.  The impression I am being given is that they were pretty much useless from 1941 onwards, against tanks anyway.  By BREVITY, the British seem to have considered theirs useless, and don’t seem to have bothered carrying them by the second half of 1942.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #138164
    Ivan SorensenIvan Sorensen
    Participant

    From what I’ve understood even Panther tanks were vulnerable to flanking shots from AT rifles.

    Really? I am very surprised. The impression I am being given is that they were pretty much useless from 1941 onwards, against tanks anyway. By BREVITY, the British seem to have considered theirs useless, and don’t seem to have bothered carrying them by the second half of 1942.

    It’s not that AT rifles was a preferable option, but the Soviets kept employing them in swarms because they were available and a better option was not.

    At 100 meters, the PTRD can penetrate 40 mm of armor (with a bit of good wishes) so the flank of Panthers and Panzer IV are definitely vulnerable. Books I’ve read disagree on whether the armored side-skirts were for defense against Bazooka rockets or AT rifle plinking.

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    #138166
    Mike HeaddenMike Headden
    Participant

    Good summary of the argument for schurzen as anti- rifle rather than anti-bazooka measures here

    Why were Schürzen introduced in WW2?

    The Russians deployed anti-tank rifles in platoon strength – “Quantity has a quality all it’s own” – attrib J Stalin.

    Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!

    #138202
    deephorsedeephorse
    Participant

    At 100 meters, the PTRD can penetrate 40 mm of armor (with a bit of good wishes) so the flank of Panthers and Panzer IV are definitely vulnerable. Books I’ve read disagree on whether the armored side-skirts were for defense against Bazooka rockets or AT rifle plinking.

    Any author claiming that side-skirts were intended to defend against Bazookas has not done their homework.  There is evidence aplenty that they are for defence against anti-tank rifles.

    The vertical component of a Panther’s side armour was only 40mm, but the only bit vulnerable to the anti-tank rifle was that between the top of the roadwheels and the bottom of the sloped superstructure.  Hence the miniskirts that Panthers wore when compared with the Panzer IV’s full ballgown.

    "Fernando is faster than you ...."

    #138331
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    The Gokmop Towers Department of Failing to Resist the Temptation to Buy More Books (motto: “Dammit, more expense”) has recently failed to resist the temptation to acquire a copy of Steve Zaloga’s Osprey, “The Anti-Tank Rifle”, 2018.

    It’s an excellent and concise roundup of the subject, and the only book I’ve met dedicated solely to anti-tank rifles. I recommend getting your own copy. One of the three chapters is on the use of ATRs in combat, and this includes the following accounts of the T-Gewehr in action:

    * French tanks at Bois Senecat (which Zaloga spells with accents) and Givesnes (so presumably April 1918) report being attacked by a new type of rifle, capable of penetrating the outer layer of armour, but not the main armour, of their Schneiders.

    * A report from a Capitaine Chanoine dated 01 Oct 18 stating that the Schneider was largely impervious, but that several Renault FTs had been penetrated.

    * The case of tank O4 of 1 sec, A Coy, 15 Bn Tank Corps, a Mk V* commanded by 2Lt Bell, near Amiens in August 1918. This was engaged by two T-Gewhere, suffering multiple penetrations and crew casualties, and retiring when a water line was broken. The engine seized after the tank had retired 150 yards, by which time only three of the crew were still uninjured.

    * A report from 9th Bn Tank Corps, operating in support of the Guards Div on 26 aug 1918, of one tank suffering five crew casualties.

    * A report from the Lehr-Infanterie-Regiment attached to Heeresgruppe Deutscher Kronprinz of a test shoot against a captured British tank (detail below).

    * A report from Chef d’Escadron Hubert Lefevre of Groupement III that his unit had lost several tanks and had several crewmen killed and injured.

    * A report from Capitaine Foranz of 504e Régiment d’Artillerie Spéciale that only a few of his FTs had been knocked out, with one tank commander killed.

    * A war diary entry from AS 310 for 25 Oct 1918 saying that three FTs had been penetrated but no casualties suffered.

    * A war diary entry from AS 311 for the same day saying that Maréchal des Logis Gillot was killed when his FT turret was penetrated.

    It is possible that a large part of the T-Gewehr’s ineffectiveness was the understandable unwillingness of troops to use it. A British assessment said “it is doubtful if one per cent of the AT rifles captured in our tank attacks had ever been fired.”

    Now, those Infanterie-Lehr-Regiment trial shoot results:

    4 rounds at 300 metres and 60 degrees — 3 penetrations, 1 deflection
    4 rounds at 300 metres and 45 degrees — 1 penetration, 3 deflections
    4 rounds at 200 metres and 90 degrees — 2 hits, 2 misses, serious engine damage
    3 rounds at 100 metres and 90 degrees — 3 penetrations, damage to gun and engine
    3 rounds at 100 metres and 75 degrees — 1 shot through mantlet opening damaging gun, 1 miss, 1 deflection

    The trials staff assessed that none of the 18 rounds fired would have put the tank out of action.

    Note that the angles given use the German (and modern NATO) convention that 90 degrees is normal impact, not the old British and American one where normal impact is zero degrees.

    Hope this helps — short of a detailed trawl of unit war diaries, I doubt that there is much more to be had on T-Gewehr effectiveness.

    All the best,

    John.

    #138343
    Ivan SorensenIvan Sorensen
    Participant

    Fantastic and thanks for sharing! Sounds as definitive as it’ll get.

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    #139175
    Robert Dunlop
    Participant

    Here are the details of the Infanterie-Lehr-Regiment tests, that I have translated from the original:

    “In 1918, the German Lehr Infantry Regiment conducted live-firing tests with T-Gewehrs. A British heavy tank was used as the target. On 25.9.1918, Army Group Crown Prince presented a report of the results to OHL:

    1) All 4 shots at the fuel tank, which struck at an angle of around 60°, richocheted away. The tank would have remained battleworthy.

    2) Four rounds were fired at the door, observations slits and MG port in the sponson from a range of 300 m, impacting at an angle of 45°. One round penetrated and the rest richocheted away. The tank would have been capable of moving and fighting.

    3) Four shots were fired as described in 2) but impacted at an angle of about 90° from a range of 200 m; one shot penetrated, one bounced off, and two missed. The tank would have remained battleworthy and would have only become incapacitated by severe damage to the engine.

    4) All 3 shots fired from 100 m penetrated the targets described in 2). A tank crewman operating the machine gun or main gun would have been injured or killed and the engine damaged. The tank could possibly have been incapacitated.

    5) Three shots fired at observation slits and gun ports from an angle of about 75° and a range of 100m resulted in one round passing through the open gun port, a ricochet and a miss. The first shot would have knocked out the machine gun, injured or killed the gunner, or damaged the engine. The tank would eventually have become immobile.”

    Robert

    #139176
    Robert Dunlop
    Participant

    And here are details of OP4 near Amiens. It is a quote in ‘Band of Brigands’ from an action that took place on 23 August 1918. This was 15 days after the opening of the Battle of Amiens, when the British Third Army took the lead in the rolling series of battles that characterised the last 100 days:

    ‘[2/Lt] Bell’s tank had not proceeded very far before a bullet struck the right-hand sponson severely wounding the gunner. He immediately jumped out and nothing more was ever seen of him afterwards. Several more bullets struck the tank and two more gunners were hit. The anti-tank rifle was spotted by the man who had taken the 6-pdr gunner’s place. He immediately layed the gun and fired, blowing the rifleman and all his gear to smitherens. [Another rifle opens up with AP rounds which] penetrated the cast-iron cylinder of the water jacket pouring out boiling hot steam.

    Another pierced the front cab and wounded the hotchkiss gunners. There were now only three effective men in the crew; the engine would be too hot to run, so Bell started to return. Armour-piercing bullets still struck and penetrated the tank but so far the driver had escaped. After about 150 yards the engine seized up…’

    Based on this one example, it is clear that multiple hits could be absorbed by late war British tanks. In this case, the tank was put out of action because of the hit on the water jacket. Prior to that, the tank (as opposed to individual crew members) could return fire. So long as there was a driver and an engine, it could still squash enemy too (a major part of the offensive capability of WW1 tanks).

    Robert

    #139569
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    As a late addition to this thread, I have just tumbled across a Russian site at https://nvo.ng.ru/nvo/2016-09-23/1_manevr.html which makes the oddly specfic statement that only seven French tanks were knocked out by T-Gewehr in WW1. It also says that, considering the small number of tanks put out of action by all weapons, this was not such a bad showing.

    As the writer is a retired colonel working at the Russian Academy of Science while taking a PhD in military science, so he might know what he’s talking about even though he doesn’t give any sources.

    All the best,

    John.

    #139570
    Ivan SorensenIvan Sorensen
    Participant

    I suppose a lot depends on what “knocked out” might mean.

    It was suggested upthread that most T-Gewehr were likely never actually fired, so tht may improve the “odds” in a way.

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