Mehrzweckpanzer instead of Panther?

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Deleted member 1487

By 1942 Germany had done a fair bit of work on developing 30 ton chassis as replacements for the Panzer IV that later evolved into the VK3002 project and 45 ton Panther with it's host of technical issues due to being seriously overweight for what the chassis and parts were designed for. Looking at the 30-40 tons chassis that the Soviets, US, and UK all fielded in WW2 it seems like there could have been a perfectly viable tank in the 35 ton range that the Germans could have fielded by the end of 1942 with relatively quick updating of the VK3001 project by adding sloped frontal armor and wider tracks, plus a somewhat bigger gun than the Pz IV F2, but less than that of the historical Panther to avoid the weight increase. Looking at Guderian's proposed Mehrzweckpanzer, which pretty much translates to multi-role armor, the basic layout seems to be pretty solid for a 35 ton tank chassis:
7454_original.jpg


The only difference I would add would be a 75mm L/60 gun initially tested for the Panther based on an existing FLAK gun design (later increased to an L70 gun). The frontal armor of Guderian's 28 ton design was 50mm sloped to 55 degrees, which was better than the T-34/85. Technically speaking I see no reason why it couldn't be in production by the end of 1942 and be pretty technically sound at 35 tons, as the original VK3001 tank was expected to be 32 tons (i.e. the weight of the T-34/85, M4 Sherman, and British Comet tank). Certainly it would be far less problematic than the much heavier 45 ton Panther.

So what if Albert Speer talked some sense into Hitler and instead of the Panther built a 35 ton tank with the layout of the Mehrzweckpanzer above with 75mm L60 cannon and 50mm frontal armor sloped to 55 degrees, while then taking all the time needed to properly design something much better like the E-50?

Would something like that have been in production by December 1942 without significant technical issues? Could it be produced in greater numbers than the historical Panther and would it have been able to stand up to the standard enemy tanks of the 2nd half of the war? The 75mm L60 gun would have been roughly equivalent in performance to the British 77mm QF17 Pounder (minus APDS rounds).

Thoughts? Other than of course the standard 'rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic' and this won't change the outcome of the war stuff.
 

Wendigo

Banned
Thoughts? Other than of course the standard 'rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic' and this won't change the outcome of the war stuff.

It's sad that on an alternative history website users still have to say this whenever they make a thread asking the effects of a small historical POD.
 
Would something like that have been in production by December 1942 without significant technical issues? Could it be produced in greater numbers than the historical Panther and would it have been able to stand up to the standard enemy tanks of the 2nd half of the war? The 75mm L60 gun would have been roughly equivalent in performance to the British 77mm QF17 Pounder (minus APDS rounds).

Timescale, I don't know enough to really say.

The numbers, seems likely you'd get greater numbers than Panthers - I don't know if the main bottleneck on Panther production was skilled labour or resources, but a less complex design that's physically smaller and lighter will save on both.

And if you're right about the armour being ~equivalent to T34/85 and the gun being close to the 17lber that's quite a good mix and should be competitive with standard enemy armour til the end of the war. No better, perhaps, but it's hardly going to be an embarrassment against aforementioned T34s or Shermans, is it?
 

Deleted member 1487

It's sad that on an alternative history website users still have to say this whenever they make a thread asking the effects of a small historical POD.
Agreed, but I have done a lot of technical WW2 threads related to Nazi Germany doing better, which a lot of people are sick of discussing and question the motives of people that bring up topics like that. I just like technical what ifs and WW2 has a lot of room for those and strategic what ifs; Germany just has more interesting potential for dramatic changes to history than the Allies doing better.

Timescale, I don't know enough to really say.
From what I can gather the redesign work on an existing chassis, for which there were prototypes already being tested, shouldn't be that difficult; as it was the much more complex and heavier Panther was able to be rushed in under 12 months (with resulting technical difficulties due to the weight changes so far beyond what the design was set for).

The numbers, seems likely you'd get greater numbers than Panthers - I don't know if the main bottleneck on Panther production was skilled labour or resources, but a less complex design that's physically smaller and lighter will save on both.
It would seem. As it was the Panther was designed for mass production and didn't really require many more manhours than the Panzer IV for the basic chassis and turret. Though cannon and engine production is probably more of a bottleneck, especially once the Allies bomb the Maybach production line in August 1943 and later.

And if you're right about the armour being ~equivalent to T34/85 and the gun being close to the 17lber that's quite a good mix and should be competitive with standard enemy armour til the end of the war. No better, perhaps, but it's hardly going to be an embarrassment against aforementioned T34s or Shermans, is it?
Much better than the Panzer IV, which was struggling to handle the additional armor and L48 cannon of late models; as it was the Pz IV was competitive with the Sherman in a lot of areas right up to 1945. The big deal with the Panther is that despite all of it's revolutionary features it was just not technically sound even at the end of the war, which dramatically affected it's ability to impact the war. Think about the delays to Kursk while waiting for the rushed Panthers that were breaking down all over the place and lost in repair shops during the retreats in August, while the unit that first fielded them was a tactical mess because they hadn't had time to train on the equipment or as a unit due to the rush job on the tank and it's technical problems. There is a lot less problems getting combat ready when the tank works from the get-go.
 
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Deleted member 1487

Are you sure this vehicle wouldn't be able to take the L/70? Because the Hungarian prototype 44m tas https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/44M_Tas was able to while still remaining in the 35 ton range.
It probably could, but the L70 took longer to develop and the improved performance wasn't really that necessary compared to the resulting weight increase. I'm more interested in how quickly it can get into service, be technically sound, and keep the weight down. The problem with the Tas was it was 38 tons which is really pushing what the 30 ton original design could handle. 35 tons is a good start and a significant weight increase already.
 
It probably could, but the L70 took longer to develop and the improved performance wasn't really that necessary compared to the resulting weight increase. I'm more interested in how quickly it can get into service, be technically sound, and keep the weight down. The problem with the Tas was it was 38 tons which is really pushing what the 30 ton original design could handle. 35 tons is a good start and a significant weight increase already.
Of course, the Germans could introduce it in late 1942 with the L60 (or even L48 if the L60 had some development delays) and then upgun it later with the L70 in 1944. Or the 88mm L56. Especially if the engine could be uprated at the same time, allowing an armour increase.

Sort of how the British developed the Centurion from the 17pr to the 20pr and then the 105mm.

As to its impact on the War, probably little effect on the ultimate outcome but being able to produce more tanks of a single design than split output between PzIVs and Panthers would help keep the Panzerwaffe closer to TOE. So counterattacks on the Eastern Front can be more effective, perhaps blunting the Soviet offensives post Kursk. And it would take longer to break down the German resistance in Normandy, maybe Cobra stalls before Patton's 3rd Army can move through the gap into Brittany and swing round to Argentan. But again the breakthroughs would come sooner or later on both Fronts.

This tank would be competitive for most of the war, especially up-gunned in 1944. I suspect the Soviets and Wallies tank programmes wouldn't be changed much from OTL. I think the Tiger was what drove Britain to rush the 17pr into the Firefly Sherman and other carriers (Challenger and Archer, as well as on some M-10s in place of the US 76mm). I would think the US would stick with its Tank Destroyer programme and introduce the 76mm to the Sherman no sooner than OTL

However, by 1943 the war was far more about economics (especially industrial output) than military skill or quality of weaponry. The Germans could have improved the tactical performance of their armed forces by various means like this but it was IMHO too late to enable them to defeat the Allies. Partly because of limited access to fuel and other essential raw materials but also because German manufacturing capacity was insufficient, even before the damage inflicted by strategic bombing.
 
I won't call this "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic" but I will give reasons why these developments would have made little difference.

1: The Nazi tanks all are front-wheel drive which necessitates a huge and cumbersome drive shaft running down the center of the tank from the transmission box to the engine. This adds 1.5 meters at least to the overall height of the vehicle which translates into a LOT of needless weight. Every other power had switched to rear-drive tanks by the end of the war probably largely for this reason. This hypothetical panzer might look like an improvement over the Panther but in three years, the Russians would release the T-54 with more than double the armor at the exact same weight.

If there is a way around the increased height problem for a front-gearbox tank, I'm unaware of it. Even those modern AFVs that are front-drive, like the Merkava series, are substantially taller than their counterparts.

2: For whatever reason, Nazi guns were bulkier and used more steel for their caliber class than those of all the other great powers.
 

Deleted member 1487

1: The Nazi tanks all are front-wheel drive which necessitates a huge and cumbersome drive shaft running down the center of the tank from the transmission box to the engine. This adds 1.5 meters at least to the overall height of the vehicle which translates into a LOT of needless weight. Every other power had switched to rear-drive tanks by the end of the war probably largely for this reason. This hypothetical panzer might look like an improvement over the Panther but in three years, the Russians would release the T-54 with more than double the armor at the exact same weight.

If there is a way around the increased height problem for a front-gearbox tank, I'm unaware of it. Even those modern AFVs that are front-drive, like the Merkava series, are substantially taller than their counterparts.
AFAIK only the Soviets used rear drives. The front drive offers dramatically better climbing power, which is why the Panther had pretty much the best maneuverability of any tank of WW2, though crap reliability due to the parts designed for a much lighter tank. This design would be in the 35 ton range with significantly less armor than the Panther and a smaller gun (at least initially); the height shouldn't matter that much and the front drive will give it great climbing ability. Also you're pretty far off the front drive height add, as that would mean half the height of the Panther was due to the front drive (it was only 2.99 meters tall), while the T-34 was 2.45 meters tall. At most it added .54 meters to the design, which gave the crew a lot more space to work with than the T-34/85 crews had. Even the M26 Pershing was nearly 2.8 meters tall. The T-54 was a post-war design and did not come out in 1945, the design started in 1945. It entered service in 1949 by which time the E-50 or whatever would be around too. The T-44 could be made in 1945, but that was a marginally better T-34/85.

2: For whatever reason, Nazi guns were bulkier and used more steel for their caliber class than those of all the other great powers.
They had higher pressure and better AP performance as a result. The Wallies benefited from having large stocks of tungsten, so they could make a lot of APDS ammo later in the war, which improved performance beyond the basic design of the gun, while the Germans had to use inferior AP shells (compared to the Wallies) to husband their declining stocks of tungsten carbide. So they used better guns to get more from their rounds. As it was the 88mm L70 was the best mass produced main gun of WW2 in terms of range, ballistics, and penetration with standard ammo.
 

Deleted member 1487

:rolleyes:

Also seems fairly standard for British and French medium and heavy tanks - although the lighter tanks did use front drives.

View attachment 286985 View attachment 286986
It would seem you are right, the Brits and Soviets used rear drive, the Germans and Americans front:
http://forum.worldoftanks.com/index.php?/topic/30445-forward-vs-rear-wheel-drive/

I know the German designs were not really set up to get a rear drive, things were already pretty cramped back there due to the rhombus shaped hull.
Plus the front drive had some advantages, especially for the extra long guns on the German turrets.
http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=147217
 

CalBear

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One thing I would question is the idea that this would result in the Reich rationalizing their production. Unlike their opponents, who would find a basic design they liked and ride it with continual improvements and sub variants, for years (resulting in versions like the P-47N, M4A6, Spitfire Mk XIV, 7 variants of the T-34 in tank form) the Reich fairly consistently would go looking for something new. Overall it was a fatal case of "Ooh shiny!" and the exact opposite of the engineers creed of "good enough is always good enough while perfect is almost never worth the effort and is always a pain in the ass".

There is absolutely no reason to believe that this Mark would eliminate the Panther, if anything it would further complicate the supply train since it would exist, along WITH OTL's Pz III, PZ IV, Pz V(Panther), Pz VI (Tiger I), Pz VII, and PZ VIII (the infamous Maus), in the 1945 Heer ToE, and broken more quartermaster sergeants hearts.
 

Deleted member 1487

One thing I would question is the idea that this would result in the Reich rationalizing their production. Unlike their opponents, who would find a basic design they liked and ride it with continual improvements and sub variants, for years (resulting in versions like the P-47N, M4A6, Spitfire Mk XIV, 7 variants of the T-34 in tank form) the Reich fairly consistently would go looking for something new. Overall it was a fatal case of "Ooh shiny!" and the exact opposite of the engineers creed of "good enough is always good enough while perfect is almost never worth the effort and is always a pain in the ass".
You mean other than the Pz III, Pz IV, Pz II, Pz 38t, Me109, Ju88, He111, Fw190, Type VII and IX Uboats, and for a while Bf110. Meanwhile the Allies did have their own proliferation of designs far beyond what you suggest. Both sides had their 'ooh shiny' moments (British AFV designs for instance), it's just that the Allies were able to afford that a LOT more than the Germans and other Axis powers, who fought on a comparative shoe string. As it was though the Panther was designed to be mass produced and shared the same engine with the Tiger I and II. It was anticipated it's upgraded form would also share a lot of parts with the Tigers IIRC. The problem with the Panther was that Hitler demanded a bunch of insane last minute upgrades to armor and weaponry that weighed down the design.
Somewhere in this conference they reference that:

Initially the Panther was supposed to be about 36 tons according to Jentz and Spielberger, both authors having pretty in depth books on the history of the Panther. Arguably had it stuck to the original design idea it could have topped out no more than 38 tons, which was the weight of the 44M Tas, the Hungarian knock off version posted earlier.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that this Mark would eliminate the Panther, if anything it would further complicate the supply train since it would exist, along WITH OTL's Pz III, PZ IV, Pz V(Panther), Pz VI (Tiger I), Pz VII, and PZ VIII (the infamous Maus), in the 1945 Heer ToE, and broken more quartermaster sergeants hearts.
It is an either or situation given that they'd fill the same role and I am proposing a specific POD where this is the production model instead of the OTL Panther thanks to Speer convincing Hitler to leave the task to him.
 

CalBear

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You mean other than the Pz III, Pz IV, Pz II, Pz 38t, Me109, Ju88, He111, Fw190, Type VII and IX Uboats, and for a while Bf110. Meanwhile the Allies did have their own proliferation of designs far beyond what you suggest. Both sides had their 'ooh shiny' moments (British AFV designs for instance), it's just that the Allies were able to afford that a LOT more than the Germans and other Axis powers, who fought on a comparative shoe string. As it was though the Panther was designed to be mass produced and shared the same engine with the Tiger I and II. It was anticipated it's upgraded form would also share a lot of parts with the Tigers IIRC. The problem with the Panther was that Hitler demanded a bunch of insane last minute upgrades to armor and weaponry that weighed down the design.
Somewhere in this conference they reference that:

Initially the Panther was supposed to be about 36 tons according to Jentz and Spielberger, both authors having pretty in depth books on the history of the Panther. Arguably had it stuck to the original design idea it could have topped out no more than 38 tons, which was the weight of the 44M Tas, the Hungarian knock off version posted earlier.


It is an either or situation given that they'd fill the same role and I am proposing a specific POD where this is the production model instead of the OTL Panther thanks to Speer convincing Hitler to leave the task to him.
The lighter tank wouldn't be PERFECT.

That was the basic issue. The standard was PERFECT. It was impossible, not just because of the obvious, but because they had a friggin' corporal with the attention span of a ferret trying to personally dictate design details.
 

Deleted member 1487

The lighter tank wouldn't be PERFECT.

That was the basic issue. The standard was PERFECT. It was impossible, not just because of the obvious, but because they had a friggin' corporal with the attention span of a ferret trying to personally dictate design details.
And the entire point of this thread is that perfect by Hitler's standard isn't an issue here because he is talked out of interfering in the design.
The problem historically wasn't that Hitler had the attention span of a ferret, it was his obsession with details that was beneath his pay grade AND ignorance of technology driving decisions (i.e. bigger is always better).
 

marathag

Banned
If there is a way around the increased height problem for a front-gearbox tank, I'm unaware of it. Even those modern AFVs that are front-drive, like the Merkava series, are substantially taller than their counterparts.

Hellcat. Same Radial as Sherman
782bengineering2b252832529.jpg

m18hellcatcross.jpg


8 foot 5inches, with the .50AA

T-34 is 8 foot, no AA machine gun
 
Interesting possibilities. I think you would have to go back a little further with a POD to allow the focus on the smaller tank and getting up for mass production. As stated, the Germans, as well as others, were to enchanted with "Oh-Shiny" syndrome IOTL, to stay the course with a POD in late 1942.
 
AFAIK only the Soviets used rear drives. The front drive offers dramatically better climbing power, which is why the Panther had pretty much the best maneuverability of any tank of WW2, though crap reliability due to the parts designed for a much lighter tank. This design would be in the 35 ton range with significantly less armor than the Panther and a smaller gun (at least initially); the height shouldn't matter that much and the front drive will give it great climbing ability. Also you're pretty far off the front drive height add, as that would mean half the height of the Panther was due to the front drive (it was only 2.99 meters tall), while the T-34 was 2.45 meters tall. At most it added .54 meters to the design, which gave the crew a lot more space to work with than the T-34/85 crews had. Even the M26 Pershing was nearly 2.8 meters tall. The T-54 was a post-war design and did not come out in 1945, the design started in 1945. It entered service in 1949 by which time the E-50 or whatever would be around too. The T-44 could be made in 1945, but that was a marginally better T-34/85.
Talk to some Russians, they will tell you that the space problem can be solved by putting smaller guys in as the tank crew. Never having served in one or in any combat, I'll just have to take their word for it but it makes sense. I don't consider the T-34 to have been particularly low; its direct successor the T-44 was ~12" lower, almost all of which came from sacrificing hull height. The Pershing which you mentioned has a lower hull than the German designs too, with most of the "excess" height coming from a fairly tall turret.

The T-54 was being developed as a successor to the T-44 in 1944 and the first T-54 was ready for trials in late February, 1945. Yes, it was a prototype, but was fully functional and could have seen combat had Stalin really wanted it tested on the front lines. The USSR knew victory was in the bag at this stage but if they had wanted to, they could have rushed it into mass production (with a ton of bugs like the Panther and Tiger) so it could see combat in Europe. 100mm of glacis armor sloped at 58 degrees, up to 200mm of turret armor, and a gun comparable to the King Tiger gun (and far better as a high explosive), all at ten tons lighter than the Panther, would have been world-beating in 1945.

They had higher pressure and better AP performance as a result. The Wallies benefited from having large stocks of tungsten, so they could make a lot of APDS ammo later in the war, which improved performance beyond the basic design of the gun, while the Germans had to use inferior AP shells (compared to the Wallies) to husband their declining stocks of tungsten carbide. So they used better guns to get more from their rounds. As it was the 88mm L70 was the best mass produced main gun of WW2 in terms of range, ballistics, and penetration with standard ammo.
This is true to a point, but not in all cases:

German 7,5 L48 vs. American 76: fairly close performance, nod to US gun
German 7,5 L48 vs. Soviet 85: same as above but latter is superior in HE performance
German 7,5 L70 vs. American 76: no contest
German 7,5 L70 vs. Soviet 85: as above, except when it comes to HE
German 7,5 L70 vs. Soviet D-25: not terribly far off in penetration, no contest in HE for Russian gun
German 7,5 L70 vs. American 90: as above
German 7,5 L70 vs. Soviet D-10: no contest for Russian gun in both categories
German 7,5 L70 vs. British 17 Pounder: close in penetration with nod to British gun, about equal in HE. (I am only counting standard AP for the British gun.)
German 8,8 L56 vs. American 76 and Soviet 85: better than both, but not by a whole lot
German 8,8 L56 vs. American 90: definitely inferior in penetration, not far off in HE
German 8,8 L56 vs. Soviet D-25: inferior in penetration, very inferior in HE
German 8,8 L56 vs. Soviet D-10: no contest for Russian gun in either category
German 8,8 L71 vs. American 90: no contest for penetration, close in HE
German 8,8 L71 vs. British 17 Pounder: no contest in both
German 8,8 L71 vs. British 20 Pounder: close, slight edge to Nazi gun in both (I think)
German 8,8 L71 vs. American 90: no contest in penetration, close in HE
German 8,8 L71 vs. American "Super 90": close in both with nod to American gun
German 8,8 L71 vs. Soviet D-10: *
German 8,8 L71 vs. Soviet D-25: slightly superior in penetration, very inferior in HE
German 12,8 L55: Owns everything else, but how many were used in combat? 60?

*Depending on the source used, the Soviet 100mm BS-3/D-10 (which would be the standard Eastern Bloc tank gun for 30 years postwar) was either very nearly as good as, as good as, or slightly superior to the German 88 L/71 in penetration. I understand that some internal Soviet recently declassified documents produced from range testing with standard AP ammo (captured in the case of the Nazi guns) demonstrate that the Russian 100mm was actually slightly superior to the King Tiger gun in armor piercing power. Let's say for the sake of argument that they are equal. The Russians were able to mass-produce an excellent gun with equal penetration to the long 88 and much more high explosive/fragmentation power and fit it into a relatively compact and lightweight vehicle in huge numbers (the SU-100, and later on the T-54/55).
 
Hellcat. Same Radial as Sherman
m18hellcatcross.jpg


8 foot 5inches, with the .50AA

T-34 is 8 foot, no AA machine gun
Thanks for this, but keep in mind the Hellcat is a light tank/tank destroyer (Americans considered it a TD, the Nazis and Russians would have considered it an actual tank because it had a fully articulating turret) with thin armor. My guess is it would have been quite difficult to design a tank like this with 50-100+mm rolled armor plates.

Also, the American and Soviet engines were smaller, I think, than the big, high-performance Maybach engines used on the heavy Nazi tanks.
 
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