Were German weapons of WWII superior to U.S. weapons?


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Exposure
December 17, 2006, 04:53 PM
This post is not meant to inflame anyone. And it is obviously just for fun. I thought it might make kind of an interesting discussion though.

My personal take is that the Germans really knew what they were doing in arms design. A few of the firearms that really impress me, and this is just my personal, very uneducated opinion:

1. The MG-42 lives on today in a very similar form from its original design.

2. The MP-44 certainly was ahead of its time. While it came about to late, and in to small a number it was, and remains, an awesome weapon. Does the AK-47 owe its roots to the MP-44? I have no idea but they certainly seem similar in several aspects. I know that Mikhail Kalashnikov vehemently denies this so don't stomp on me for saying that, it is just an observation!

3. The MP-40 set the stage for pistol caliber subguns for the next 60 years. (Thompson lovers don't jump me for that one!) It was innovative in its relatively cheap construction. (Now the Greasegun lovers will probably jump me!) Only recently have most militaries started to go away from the idea of a pistol caliber subgun.

These are just 3 of the weapons I am thinking of right off the top of my head that were really awesome examples of forward thinking.

Please note that I am not saying the U.S. didn't have fantastic firearms during the same period. But they are all LONG since retired. I certainly don't want to get on the wrong end of any of them I might add! But I do have a thing for German WWII firearms and really think they had some great stuff!

With that said, please don't flame me to badly! haha!

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Rob62
December 17, 2006, 04:57 PM
I think when one compares the basic infantry rifles - Mauser 98 vs M1 Garand there is no comparison. The M1 Garand was clearly a superior combat weapon. I think the MG's were sligtly better on the German side. The MG42 IMO was/is one of the best MG designs ever.

Regards,
Rob

bthest86
December 17, 2006, 05:03 PM
And pistols too. M1911 stomps the Luger as a combat pistol. Not sure about the P38.

The MP-44 and AK-47 are two completely different weapons.

The Germans had some nice MGs that were better than anything the allies had and the MP40 was a good SMG but probably not better than a M1928 or M1A1. The MP-40 was certainly cheaper to make.

K98 was a good bolt action. It wasn't better than an Enfield Mk4 and certainly not better than an M1.

Their self-loading rifles were all mediocre or just plain bad. (With the exception of the Stg44 of course)

SoCalShooter
December 17, 2006, 05:24 PM
Hmmm...absolutely not

Colt 1911-a1
M1 Garand or Springfield 03
Browning Automatic Rifle
Thompson sub machine gun
M3 Grease gun
m1 carbine
Browning .30cal machine gun
Browning .50cal machine gun

Luger 9mm
K98
STG-44
FG 42
Gewehr 41
MP-40
MG 34 and MG 42
Cannot recall a heavy MG.

Joe Demko
December 17, 2006, 05:29 PM
The Luger wans't standard issue. The P-38 was. The P-38 was supplemented with Lugers, Radoms, and whatever else the Germans could scrape up. The K-98 is arguably superior to the 03 Springfield depending on configuration.

SDC
December 17, 2006, 05:31 PM
Yes in some respects, but no in others; I know I'd rather have to do a barrel change on a MG34 or 42 under fire than have to do the same change on a Browning. If I was a grunt with a rifle, I'd certainly want the Garand over any similar full-power rifle the Germans had.

jaysouth
December 17, 2006, 05:49 PM
Weapons and their designs are important, but do not win wars.

Doctrine, training and tactics win wars.

The U.S. was the first to be able to mass artillery fire from multiple batteries onto one single target. At the end of the war, the Germans had very good artillery pieces but each batterys fire could only be directed by its organic observer. The Americans could use one observer to direct the fires of every battery within range. Good fire direction procedure was paramount to good artillery pieces. Jap artillery fire was 18th century primitive in comparison.

Our tanks sucked, they were underpowered, underarmed, under armored and very vulnerable to German anti-tank efforts. The germans were a generation ahead of us in tank design. However, we mastered combined arms while the Germans were still fighting with WWI tactics.(yes, I know who Gen. Hans Guderian was, and have read his book)

It could be argued that the germans had superior infantry weapons to ours. However, our doctrine and ability to combine arms and fire were vastly superior. An american forward observer could command the fires of organic artillelry, support artillery, Infantry mortars, Air corps assets as well as navel gunfire. The german observer was conneted to only one battery, usually by a telephone wire. We also developed aerial observers that the germans never learned how to counter.

In addition, this American observer could be an Infantry corporal, an Artillery LT, a tank commander, a fighter pilot or a negro truck driver if he could get into a firenet and authenticate his identity.

If you were a German infantryman in a defensive bunker, you bore the brunt of everything the allies could muster to throw at you on land, sea and air. The only German counter fire was six guns that the observer on the front was connected to, if he could visually observe the battle scene.

It ain't the bow, it ain't the arrow, its the indian and his tribe.

GRIZ22
December 17, 2006, 06:00 PM
You need to understand the concepts of the infantry tactics of the U.S. and Germany at the time of WWII. The U.S. philosphy was that machine guns support the infantryman. the infantry goes to seize the objective and the machine gun supports their movement. Germans saw it as the infantryman supports the machine gun. The machine gun beats down the enemy and the infantry moves in to exploit the successes of the machine gun.

1. The MG 42 was better than the Brownings of the time. The M60 was almost a copy of the MG42 but wasn't because a few dimensions were copied incorrectly and the prototype didn'y work well. Nonetheless, many MG42 features were copied in the M60. We made up for the shortcoming by having the BAR. 2-3 BARs could put out the fire of a regular machine gun and be a lot more portable. The BREN gun was close but not issued as freely as the BAR.

2. The MP44 was certainly ahead of it's time but when it was put in use a change to a new infantry rifle. Things were going bad for Germany then. Besides, infatry only needed a rifle to explout the gains made by machineguns and a 98 Mauser filled that job. The AK 47 was developed independently of the MP44. The 7.62X39 was invented for the SKS first. You can look at the M1 carbine as being the prototype assault weapon. The point it falls short on is power when compared to rifles of the time but gets plus points for being easier to hit things with vs a pistol (which it was designed to replace.

3. The MP40 was only a few years ahead of the M3 subgun. While most armies have gotten away from subguns they are finding they are great weapons for fighting in urban terrain. A M4 is about the same size and has ammo compatability and no additional training issues.

The M1 was without a doubt the best battle rifle of WWII. No other country had the industrial capacity to outfit their troops with a semi-auto battle rifle issued to almost all troops. There was no need to look for another pistol as the 1911 worked well for nearly 40 years after WWII.

The Germans had the best technolgy for conventional weapons. They had the best tanks and were the first to use guided bombs. All the technology was beaten by our industrial capacity. There are stories of a platoon of Tiger tanks taking out a company of Shermans. When we learned the weak spots in the Tiger the Germans had no way of taking on the 10-15 tanks we had to their 1. Technology isn't everything.

As jay said above our ability to fight and combine the air, land, sea battle is what won us the war. I think 80-85% of casualities in WWII were inflicted by artillery,

Hoppy590
December 17, 2006, 06:01 PM
small arms, US wins
Armor, US looses
Sea power, its a toss up, depending on what were talking about. but for the most part germans had a good lead
airpower, germans at the begining of the war, allies by the end

one thing the germans could never defeat, no matter how superior the weapons were, is the "Arsenal Of Democracy"

on the same grounds of all the hippys saying "we coulnt win ww2 with out the russians" they couldnt have won WW2 with out us. that why its an alliance. they needed supplies, and a second front. so they needed the west. we ( the US) needed england as a foot hold, England needed us for supplies and as assistance after being bombed silly. and we needed the russians sheer numbers and commitment.

/ww2Rant

mordechaianiliewicz
December 17, 2006, 06:08 PM
Depends on the gun your talking about

4v50 Gary
December 17, 2006, 06:13 PM
M-1 Garand is superior to the Mauser 98 by virtue of being equally reliable and semi-automatic to boot. However, we had nothing that could compare to either the FG-42 or the Stgw-44.

The 1911A1 is superior as a pistol to either the Walter P38 or the P-08. Browning's design is more reliable than the P-08 and fires a bigger bullet than the P38.

The MG-42 was superior to our M1919. Faster bullet hose, stamped constuction made it cheaper to manufacture.

MP-40 v. Thompson. The MP-40 was good and easily made since it was stamped. The Thompson was expensive to make and required a machinist. In terms of modern guns, the MP-40 was better. However, a better comparison would be against our M3 Greasegun. Well, can't say much about the latter except that it was cheap to make and did fire a better bullet.

German Panzerfaust anti-tank weapon is superior to our bazooka. Bigger rocket meant greater probability of knocking out a tank.

German Panther & Tiger I and Tiger II was superior in terms of armament and armour to our Sherman; even if the latter was armed with the 76 mm gun. To its credit, the Sherman was more reliable, generally more mobile and could cross more bridges without it collasping beneath it. Thankfully there were more of them too. The British modified Sherman Firefly with its 17pdr anti-tank gun was the only Sherman that could take on a Tiger or Panther with confidence. But the Brits didn't have enough 17 pdrs to share with us. :mad:

P-51D Mustang was superior in range and turning and climb over the Me-109G. It was equal to the FW-190 but outranged the Butcher Bird. However, it was clearly inferior in terms of speed and armament to the Me-262. Then again, we're talking propellor aircraft v. jet now.

B-29 Superfortress. Germans never did develop an adequate four engine long range bomber that they mass produced even on the scale of the B-17 yet alone the superb B-29.

Type XXI Uboat - beats anything of ours that could dive.

Iowa v. Bismarck - hands down, Iowa wins. Bigger guns and more of them. Superior secondary battery which was also capable of AA fire. Better radar and could turn like a destroyer. Then again, look at when they entered service. The Bismarck was an early war ship and the Iowa class a late war battleship.

MaterDei
December 17, 2006, 06:14 PM
Great post, jaysouth.

I've got nothing to add other than to point out that our supply chain was unencumbered (albeit long) while the German supply chain was constantly being attacked from the air once we defeated the Luftwaffe. Never underestimate the power of beans, benzene and bullets.

Ian
December 17, 2006, 06:24 PM
Some of the German small arms were better than US equipment, but I don't think you could make an across-the-board judgment that either country was better overall. The German MG42 was (is) an excellent weapon, and the StG44 was definitely on the cutting edge of gun design. However, the Garand was also an excellent weapon both objectively and in comparison to the issued German Mausers.

In addition, German pistols really weren't anything special, and they had no heavy machine gun equivalent to the M2.

As for the MP40, I'm not sure it holds much importance as a firearm design. Were it not for the war and the necessity to make a lot of cheap SMGs, the world probably would have stuck with refining the expensive and detailed pre-WWII guns (Thompson, Suomi, MP18, etc) and we would have better SMGs today. Instead, WWII sidetracked development onto the "cheap and crude" path and delayed the creation of modern SMGs like the MP5.

Glockfan.45
December 17, 2006, 06:26 PM
While you will get no argument from me on some german firearms superiority (MG42/34, MP44, MP40) the US had some good designs at the time as well (M1911 vs. P38, M1 Garand vs. K98, M2 vs. did the Germans have a comprable heavy MG?).
Please note that I am not saying the U.S. didn't have fantastic firearms during the same period. But they are all LONG since retired.
Not at all accurate. The M2 is still in wide use with the Army and Marines(as well as the militaries of many other nations), the M1911 is still being used by select units. So far as I am aware only the MG42 is still in use by a few countries. Now the Germans certianly had the U.S beat in aircraft, and armor design, but they just never had the numbers in those areas we did. One thing I think none of us will argue over is that Japan was certianly nobody to envy when it came to guns.

Ian
December 17, 2006, 06:29 PM
Even Japan wasn't totally lost. I'd take an Arisaka over a Mauser 98...

RockyMtnTactical
December 17, 2006, 06:34 PM
I think when one compares the basic infantry rifles - Mauser 98 vs M1 Garand there is no comparison. The M1 Garand was clearly a superior combat weapon.

Without a doubt.

I also think we had some other great weapons in the Thompson, M1 carbine, as well as the M1911.

RNB65
December 17, 2006, 06:39 PM
Without reading anyone else's responses to color my opinions, here are my thoughts --

1. The MG-42 lives on today in a very similar form from its original design.

The MG-42 was and is a remarkable weapon. The quick change barrel design was brilliant. It's one major flaw was it's high rate of fire. It was a prodigous waster of ammo and any type of sustained accurate fire was virtually impossible due to the intense recoil. When a German gunner pulled the trigger on an MG42, he hung on for dear life because he had no control over what followed.

2. The MP-44 certainly was ahead of its time. While it came about to late, and in to small a number it was, and remains, an awesome weapon.


Agreed. It brought an end to the era of the full power cartridge and ushered in the era of the intermediate power cartridge used by almost all of today's combat rifles of the world. Had this rifle been developed earlier in the war and issued in large numbers, the Eastern, Western, and Northern Italian fronts would all have been far bloodier affairs.

3. The MP-40 set the stage for pistol caliber subguns for the next 60 years.

The MP40 was a good gun, but it had it's share of problems. I'd take the Russian PPS43 as the best sub gun of the war.

But the answer to your question is no, German guns were not superior to the US guns of WWII for two reasons --

First, the most widely issued German rifle in WWII was the Karabiner 98k infantry rifle -- an 8mm bolt-action rifle with a 5rd magazine. The typical German infantryman was far undergunned compared to his US adversary who was armed with an 8rd semi-automatic M1 Garand.

Second, the failure of the German's to develop a heavy machine gun comparable to the US Browning .50cal. The .50BMG was a perfect fit between the .30cal rifle cartridge and the 20mm cannon and was one of the most effective US weapons of the war. Virtually every machine bigger than a motorbike used by the US during the war (land, sea, or air) was armed with .50cal machine guns. The Germans had nothing similiar and it cost them dearly.

redneck2
December 17, 2006, 06:42 PM
I suspect our biggest asset in WWII was that Hilter was the leader of the Germans

At the beginning of the war, the Germans had excellent aircraft, far superior subs, tremendously superior armor, superb navy, and excellent firearms. Their tactics, training, and discipline were superb. You can argue pistols all you want. Pistols don't win wars. Don't even have a reasonable effect. Rifles were maybe a toss-up with a slight advantage going to the Americans.

IMO, their biggest downfall was the arrogance and lack of military knowledge of their leaders and particularly Japan. If Japan had held off on Pearl Harbor, England would have been screwed.

It totally amazes me that the thing the Americans went after were the ball bearing factories. Who in the world would think of that?? But hey, if you can't roll, you can't move.

FWIW...IIRC, I saw on the History Channel that more wounded are caused by artillery and mortars than anything else.

Joe Demko
December 17, 2006, 06:46 PM
As an interesting side-question, which of the totalitarian leaders did the most damage to their own war efforts? My money is on Josef Stalin.

oneshooter
December 17, 2006, 07:09 PM
The Germans had a chance to use the Polish BAR, and found that they did not like it. HOWEVER, they did know a superior weapon when they found it!

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=49480&stc=1&d=1166400394

Oneshooter
Livin in Texas

hockeybum
December 17, 2006, 07:15 PM
we had the Thompson, it doesn't get much better than that :D

telomerase
December 17, 2006, 07:29 PM
German Panzerfaust anti-tank weapon is superior to our bazooka. Bigger rocket meant greater probability of knocking out a tank.

You mean Panzershreck, that was the rocket launcher. Panzerfaust was short-range recoilless launcher series.

And our bazooka would penetrate OUR tanks just fine... not to mention our "tank destroyers", duplicate bureaucratic empire. I guess the idea is to penetrate the other side's, though...

I'd like to put in a good word for the M1 carbine (ducks). It was the best 5.5-pound gun of the war... big upgrade from the pistol, better than lots of heavier subguns at medium range.

As an interesting side-question, which of the totalitarian leaders did the most damage to their own war efforts? My money is on Josef Stalin.

Whoa, heavy competition there. Hitler didn't give land to the Ukrainian etc. peasants, chased off his "Jewish Physicists", didn't use the thousands of tons of nerve gas he had (some people claim the Germans thought everyone else had it... pretty stupid, because they knew that we were still dragging mustard gas around Italy when they bombed a mustard ship in a harbor).

Roosevelt & co. weren't exactly "Mr. Efficiency" either... just had ten times the money to work with!

Stalin it is, though, given the potential of his country. He is the reason that Roosevelt had more money than the other combatants combined... he wrecked the Russian economy long before the war.

ABTOMAT
December 17, 2006, 07:41 PM
Just one thing I'd like to point out here: German armor was not great as people like to think. They get too much credit from folks who just look at the sex appeal. I'm not saying it was bad, just that it wasn't all that it's cracked up to be.

At the start of the war (the actual war, not US involvement) the German tanks were basically windup toys. They had such great success because their forces were fast, attacked by surprise, and none of the little countries they invaded had decent mechanized forces. The French actually had a far superior tank (the Char B1) but didn't have enough and their tactics were garbage.

After a while they really got things moving with the model III and IV panzers. Those were the bread and butter of the German tank forces for a long time. The IV was used throughout the war. But the Sherman was a match for them. Even the M3 was used against them in Africa.

Now, the ones everyone likes to talk about are Tiger, Panther, et al. They all had powerful guns that could blow right through most Allied tanks of the time. That was the big advantage. Past that there were problems. The biggest was the mechanical design. All the later German tanks were too complex, slow to build, underpowered, and unreliable. They never could keep a unit together because so many broke down.

The Tiger's armor was vertical and only super heavy in front. Standard Shermans could kill them from the sides and heavy tanks could do it from any angle. It was obsolete fairly quickly but the Germans never had enough newer tanks to replace it. The Panther was a great tank but still unreliable. The really big tanks were strong but virtually imobile.

The Sherman was so effective not only because we had a lot of them, but because we could keep them running in large numbers. The later upgraded versions with heavy armor, suspesion, and great big guns were a match for all but the heaviest German tanks. The big British tanks were pretty good towards the end of the war, and the Russian Stalin tanks could destroy anything else out there.

antsi
December 17, 2006, 07:56 PM
----quote-----
I suspect our biggest asset in WWII was that Hilter was the leader of the Germans
----------------

The German generals were certainly more sober and realistic than Hitler and with a more moderate leader who listened to his military experts, the Germans wouldn't have done so many crazy stupid things.

Like starting the war in the first place.

People often opine that the Germans could have won the war if it hadn't been for Hitler. Without Hitler, that war with that alignment of forces would never have been fought.

Jim K
December 17, 2006, 08:03 PM
German armor was good but suffered from the "too few, too late" problem. The Germans never did master the concept of mass production.

Just FWIW, a question. Does anyone know of any WWII battle that was won or lost SOLELY due to the quality of the individual weapons on one side or another? Even in the U.S. Civil War, where sometimes one side had repeating rifles and the other had muzzle loaders, it was rare for a battle to be decided on that basis alone. In WWII, I can't think of any. The U.S. was usually victorious through a combination of air superiority, artillery and tank quantities, mass numbers, and general tactics, not because the M1 rifle was better than the K.98k or the M1911A1 better than the P.38. The latter idea, that we won the war because of a superior pistol, is absolute nonsense, given the amount of non-use of pistols in warfare.

Jim

Redhat
December 17, 2006, 08:44 PM
Speaking of tanks, how did the Pershing stack up against the Tiger or Panther?

4v50 Gary
December 17, 2006, 08:49 PM
Another river, another town : a teenage tank gunner comes of age in combat, 1945 by John P Irwin is worth reading. Irwin is originally in a Sherman and when it's disabled, his crew gets a new tank. A very new tank. The Pershing. But it's not just any Pershing but the only one modified with extra armour. Their tank does take on what he calls a Tiger (but then again, all German tanks were called Tigers by GIs) and I'll let you read the rest.

BTW, I think his is an honest book. He describes one action where the Tank CO gets out and dumps a load in combat.

Finally, Jim Keenan's analysis is right. We won not because this gun was better than that gun. We won because the Soviets ground down about 75% of the Wehrmacht. We won because we had superior airpower that swept the Luftwaffe from the skies and bombed the daylights out of their factories. We won because we and our allies ground the Nazis with our superior numbers. We won because our navy along with the Royal Navy and other allied navies swept the Germans from the seas. We won because we had more material resources. We won because of better strategy. We won because we were better. Finally, we won because "Gott mit uns" and not mit der Nazis.

mrmeval
December 17, 2006, 08:54 PM
WWII was mostly about out training and ability to produce mass quantities of goods at a good cost. WWII took an economy that was well on it's way to being a socialist or communist quagmire and kindled it into something the world will probably never see again.

Ilovemyglock
December 17, 2006, 09:09 PM
Look at the war in IRAQ. Im not a huge fan of m-16s, because they are so damn fussy with the ammo you shoot with them....FTF ,stuck cases you name it!
I was watching CNN the other night and i actually saw a brave U.S. marine shooting the AK-47!!!!! I also have friends who are in the Army reserve, fixing roads in Afganistan, they told me they used the AK-47 also!!!!
AK'S are so reliable that you can throw them in the mud,dump sand down the barrels and they will still throw down a hailstorm of 2500fps bullets at you.
I dunno why our government just throw away the m-16 and use AK-47.
Those of you who served in Vietnam know that the AK was the best gun for fierce combat fighting.
My father was in Vietnam in 1962-64. He ownes several AK's and SKS's
he never shoots them anymore,but when i was going to buy an Orignal M-16,he said dont bother, "They were a lousy design- and the government knew it." IM proud to be an AMERICAN, but why are they letting our sons @ daughters use "infiror< SP??" Weapons???

TO all the Vietnam Vet's WELCOME HOME

oneshooter
December 17, 2006, 09:12 PM
Several years ago a Wiermach(sp) vetran told me that after D-Day you could tell the aircraft flying overhead simply.

If it was silver it was American.

If it was camo'ed it was British.

If it wasn't there it was German!

Oneshooter
Livin in Texas

Exposure
December 17, 2006, 09:15 PM
Ilovemyglock-

Please don't derail this thread. If your questions are important to you then start a new thread with your concerns.

This is just starting to get interesting.

Thanks.

Manedwolf
December 17, 2006, 09:24 PM
What they developed vs. what was fielded were two different things.

The Stg44 was FAR superior to anything we had at the time, but...it took a lot to make, and not many were fielded. The majority of units, if you went out and looked, would have been using K98's till the end, because that's what was already out there.

They did the same with aircraft. The Me-262 jet fighter was a complete generation beyond any of our fighters...bomber turrets couldn't even traverse quickly enough to track one going by. But not many made it into the field, there were already tens of thousands of older fighters being used. Germany was already being nailed so hard when they built the 262's that most were built one at a time in hidden woodland factories, by hand, to avoid being bombed.

To me, the entire story of German innovation in WWII seems to have been great ideas, but fielded too late to make a difference. Fortunately.

BTW, they weren't alone in this. The Soviets developed the SKS and produced a number of them before the end of WWII, but decided that there were already enough Mosin-Nagants out there, and so concentrated production on machine weapons and other items instead. If WWII had dragged on years longer, Mr. Kalashnikov's famous rifle of 1947 might have entered the fray as well.

It's an interesting thing to consider. If Germany hadn't made so many tactical errors and the war had gone on for a few more years, it likely would have shifted to assault weapons and jet fighters...Stg44s vs AK-47s, and Me-262's vs. P-80's.

SSN Vet
December 17, 2006, 09:40 PM
German 88mm...........best artilary piece.

German Panther........best tank.

Stephen Ambrose writes that the "citizen soldier" made a huge difference. The German brass were mostly aristocrats and viewed their men as serfs. The concept of a suggestion box on the Generals door (as Omar Bradley had), was totally foreign to the Nazis.

The arsenal of democracy was manned (womanned?) by free people doing their best to support their sons and husbands. The Nazis used slave labor and the dud rate on their artillary shells was very high.

Give me a skilled free man any day!

gezzer
December 17, 2006, 09:49 PM
Don't forget the best tanks were the Soviets. (American Designed)

Dr.Rob
December 17, 2006, 09:51 PM
Pre war and early war everyone was using detail machined weapons with many parts.

I submit for example the MP-28, the Thompson, the BAR, The BREN, The Luger. By the onset of war stamped steel weapons multiplied like rats... I sumbit the Mp-40, the STEN, the M 3, and to some extent the carbine, mfg'd to replace a pistol (the hard to mfg 1911) not a rifle,the PPSH 41 and 43, and the STG 44.

German Semi auto rifles of the late war are notoriously underbuilt. The Soviet Tokarev rifle was no where near as reliable as the Garand.

The US was the ONLY army in WW2 to field a semi-auto as its main infantry arm.

So my short answer would be, NO.

The Germans made their own copies of the Sten, and rechambered weapons like the PPSH to 9mm. If their weapons were so great they wouldn't have been making copies of the allies arms. The Gremans went to war with bolt action rifles and a lot of horses supplanting the infantry, rather than trucks.

But the long answer would be the war certainly changed everyones views of what small arms development would be, but after the war, only the Soviets seem to have made the great leap forward to the 'assault rifle.' Uncle sam wasn't going to throw away a mountain of US M1 rifles and ammo in favor of a new design with the axis beaten and the Soviets re-building.

Jim Watson
December 17, 2006, 09:51 PM
I read an article just recently that opined the best thing the Germans could have done with the Me262 was to move the money into finishing development of the big BMW radial and put it in an improved FW190 for a 500 mph plane that worked.

As Abtomat says, early war German tanks and planes were inferior and outnumbered by French and British makes, but agressive tactics won for them.

As to small arms, the MP40 SMG was decent and was important largely because they still had a bolt action infantry rifle.

telomerase
December 17, 2006, 09:58 PM
Does anyone know of any WWII battle that was won or lost SOLELY due to the quality of the individual weapons on one side or another?

If you look at the few attempts to fight the real instigators (as opposed to mass murdering civilians or draftees), then individual weapons were very important. And usually, very badly chosen; look at the history of attempts against Hitler (http://www.lewrockwell.com/walker/walker21.html) (and note that no serious attempt was made by any government).

PeteRR
December 17, 2006, 10:01 PM
The German brass were mostly aristocrats and viewed their men as serfs. The concept of a suggestion box on the Generals door (as Omar Bradley had), was totally foreign to the Nazis.

This isn't really true. Junior officers ate with their men and shared the same rations. And the history of the German officer Corps is one of give and take. As a subordinate you were expected to point out flaws in a plan and improvise on the fly.

An anecdote drawn from musty memory:

One time during a field exercise, a Major in the Prussian Army was ordered to take a particular hill after attacking in a certain direction. During the approach to the hill he noticed that the hill had been abandoned by the "enemy". Following his orders he attacked in the original manner and took the hill. Chief of the German General Staff, Von Moltke, was there that day observing. He had the Major brought to him and asked why he continued with his preparatory attack and didn't just take the hill. The young officer replied that he was an officer in the Kaiser's service and he followed his orders to the letter. Von Moltke replied that the Kaiser hadn't made him an officer to follow orders, he'd made him an officer so he would know when he shouldn't follow orders.

SoCalShooter
December 17, 2006, 10:16 PM
I disagree, the German army used combined arms very well but they did not have a logistics infrastructure to support their type of warfare for very long. Hitler needed to win quickly and decisively thats how the German army was setup for quick decisive mechanised warfare.

Reasons:

1. No heavy bombers
2. Very limited amount of trucks and prime mover vehicles
3. Very light fighters with a small range of action
4. Compicated tanks that required major maintenance
5. Airforce not designed for defense
6. Very small amount of natural resources (the main reason most German fighters could not get to high altitude is not because they did not have good aircraft its because of the synthetic oil they used)
7. Small amount of transport aircraft
8. Supply lines drawn out by horses!

When you look at how well the Germans did you can understand why it took so long, they had a good doctrine they just did not have a plan for a protracted war, Hitler and many of his Generals were overcome with the ease of Poland and France and everything up to and around September 1941. German troops were very good and many of them had even come from fighting in the Spanish war and most had experience from Poland through to France so they had been fighting for several years at this point by the time the US entered the war. German troops were the reason they did so well. The German army was a logistics nightmare. I dont mean to downplay their weapon effectiveness because in many areas they were significantly better but overall we did not win because we had a better rifle. Our weapons were very good but technologically our weapons were behind the Germans by about 5 -7 years. But we had not taken our weapons to war and the change that we see in german tanks over the war is because they had found what worked and what did not work.

Speaking of tanks, how did the Pershing stack up against the Tiger or Panther?
I do not believe the Pershings got into action quick enough. Either way the Tiger or Panthers would have still easily have killed them, but with the 90mm gun on it the Pershing was able to even the odds a little.

Prince Yamato
December 17, 2006, 10:30 PM
Everyone is comparing the Garand to the K98, but why not compare it to the G42/43? Detachable 10rnd 8mm mag... hmm?

MrDig
December 17, 2006, 10:43 PM
My Father was with the 151st FA Bn of the 34th Infantry Division. The 34th ID spent more time in active combat than any other Division in the European Theater. Specificly from 09/09/43, the invasion of Salerno, until the surrender in '45. Never spoke much about the weapons, spoke occaisionally about the guys he shipped out with that didn't come home though. I don't think the weapons were superior I think the soldiers were. I think the Civilians manufacturing our weapons, were superior too! I don't know about quality but we had quantity hands down. We had quantity because we had more raw material. We had sewing machine companies and typwiter companies and even telephone companies making weapons. Don't believe me ask a collector what a Singer, ATT, or a Remington Rand weapon is worth. The war effort in the US was all for our soldiers, and our soldiers were all for the folks back home.
The bottom line is we won the war. For far too many reasons to count, but not the least of which was that the Spirit of Americans and the Will of Americans was Superior.

ABTOMAT
December 17, 2006, 10:44 PM
The Germans made copies of the Sten and used captured guns for reasons of economy. Their own designs might have been better weapons but they took longer to make and the factories were getting bombed all the time.

The Russian IS-2 and IS-3 tanks might have been the best of the war. The IS-3 was the most modern and set the stage for tank development in the '50s-60s.

bg
December 18, 2006, 01:03 AM
You need to understand the concepts of the infantry tactics of the U.S. and Germany at the time of WWII. The U.S. philosphy was that machine guns support the infantryman. the infantry goes to seize the objective and the machine gun supports their movement. Germans saw it as the infantryman supports the machine gun. The machine gun beats down the enemy and the infantry moves in to exploit the successes of the machine gun.
Boy, no better example than some of the scenes from
the movie "Hell is for Heros"

jaysouth
December 18, 2006, 01:07 AM
QUOTE
no one has mentioned these two by name.....
German 88mm...........best artilary piece.

German Panther........best tank.

ENDQUOTE

The German 88 was not an artillery piece. It was a high velocity anti-aircraft gun that could be depressed enough to become a very effective anti-tank weapon. 88s that were deployed against ground forces (ours) made a lot of noise, but were not formidable weapons in this role(anti-personnel) because the fires could not be massed for more than ONE gun in the direct fire role, and they were very vulnerable to counter battery fire. It was also very vulnerable because of the time that it took to put it into action, then to get out of action and back on the move. The Germans lacked the technology or doctrine to mass fires for even one battery (6 guns) of 88s because it was not an artillery piece. The gunner of a direct fire weapon such as the 88 must be able to see his target before he could engage it. The gunner of an artillery piece almost never sees his target. He has a sight that aligns on aiming stakes using data provided by a fire direction center.

Again, the germans had good guns but lacked the resources to mass their fires. No German forward observer could direct the fires of more than the six guns of HIS battery. An American observer, whether an artillery officer or not, could direct the fires of every allied gun within range of the target. Using another American technique, an observer could bring down several thousand shells on a target at the exact same instant using a 'time on target' mission. If you had enough guns on a given front, this could be a more devastating technique than a B-52 arc light mission, and could certainly be concentrated on a smaller target area than aerial bombardment.


further notes:

The Thompson was abandoned very quickly in WWII. It's low level of lethality did not justify its cost or weight. A grunt of the era was more lethal carrying a carbine because of the increased range and ability to carry more ammo. The M-3 Grease gun was a support weapon. It was not ever issued to infantrymen.

In 1900, the Mauser 98 was the best infantry weapon on the planet. However it was developed around a doctrine that went back to the middle ages. We had a more effective weapon in the M-1 carbine. Not because the carbine had as powerful cartridge as the Mauser, nor the range, it sure didn't. However, in the fighting that ensued in WWII, the carbine was effective at the ranges at which most engagements were fought. The M-1 Garand was a much better weapon but overpowered at the ranges of the typical engagement.

The infantry regiments( 501, 502, 506, 327, 504, 505, 507,508 and 325) of the two airborne divisions that launched the D-Day invasion were armed with .45, carbines, garands and machine guns. No submachine guns or BARs. The BAR did not break down and was too bulky to jump with in full length and weight. So armed, they did very well for the next several months, except that most of the .45s were turned in. Every single man that jumped with the 82d on D-Day had a .45. However, one of the lessons learned from after action reports was that the .45 was not needed to prosecute the war. An infantry company was better off issuing an extra belt of machine gun ammo or a mortar round to each soldier than a .45. Officers were much better armed with a carbine than a pistol. The extra machine gun ammo and mortar shells sure killed a lot more germans than the pistols that were formerly carried.

RNB65
December 18, 2006, 01:29 AM
Everyone is comparing the Garand to the K98, but why not compare it to the G42/43? Detachable 10rnd 8mm mag... hmm?

By all indications, the G/K43 was a decent enough semi-auto, but it's numbers were so limited any type of comparison would be meaningless. There were around 15 million Garand's and K98's manufactured but only about 400,000 G/K43's. It may well have been the greatest semi-automatic combat rifle ever built, but so few made it to the battlefield no one noticed.

GRIZ22
December 18, 2006, 02:06 AM
One point not mentioned is that German industry actually increased production as the war went on. The bombing by the British and US did not stop them from increasing production in virtually every category of war material. They were very innovative in that respect. What the Germans couldn't replace was oil. That's what kept the Luftwaffe out of the skies the last year of the war and they were mainly used defensively. The Germans did make synthetic gas and oil (similar to the stuff we use today). When they could no longer get opium to make morphine as a painkiller they invented methadone.

Zoogster
December 18, 2006, 03:08 AM
Weapons didn't decide the outcome of ww2 in my opinion. Germany was fighting for years and Europe (Axis and Allies) had beat itself up pretty well by the time fresh US troops poured in. It would be like sending a new boxer in for 1 side in the 10th round. Also the entire German infrastructer was vulnerable, its factories and its logistics in general. The USA on the other hand had a country safe with large oceans on all sides that it could use as a safe uninterupted factory. The Germans were arguably superior, but they had internal sabotage from conquered territories resisting, and a hierarchy system that did not allow subordinates to think for themselves when they could not contact a superior officer.
In fact D-Day was only a success because the tank reinforcements Germany had avialable to repulse the early invasion had to have permission from the very top, and the guy in charge of the region was far away in Berlin attending some Social event. This allowed the allies to build a base and get a strategic point to use as a HQ on the mainland. Remember most logistics and aircraft were limited to short ranges at the time so this was key. All the while Germany is country fighting insurgencies, with slave labor intentionaly sabotaging thier ammunition and fighting multiple fronts for long periods of time. The USA never had any damage to its factories or its production the entire war even producing for the countries fighting against the Axis the entire time, yet the Germans had it's infrastucter attacked continously for years before they even had to face American troops on the ground.

One thing I marveled at is that Germany who had stockpiled tons of chemical weapons never employed them on the battlefield in ww2. They had far nastier things than anything the allies had, and on top of that they had the only cruise missles for delivery. London would have been destroyed if the Germans had decided to put some of thier chemical weapons on the rockets they routinely fired at them. In fact they were so advanced technologicly that both the USA and the Soviets went to space with captured Nazi scientists that were the same scientists that designed the rockets to bomb the UK. These same Nazi scientists would send the USA to the moon later with a modification of this same technology. The Germans had the only jets in the war as well, both the US and Soviet aircraft would be based on them shortly after. In fact much of the Cold War technology used for a couple decades after the war was directly created from German technology, or captured Nazi scientists. This is well documented and can be researched, but at the time it was highly classified as Nazi scientists (Wernher von Braun and his team of SS officers, yes SS the worst of the Nazis) being directly responsible for us getting to the moon would have upset a lot of people and killed some of the pride and patriotism required for funding for such massive undertakings. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4443934.stm

Basicly the Germans lost because they had a system were subordinates could not employ forces ( to do so was to face execution) to defend on D-Day until it was too late (allied commanders on the other hand were free to make in the field decisions if a commanding officer could not be consulted), and the Allies had endless supplies and factories and resources out of reach across oceans while the Germans had constant bombing and sabotage and limited resources in the end while being forced to split thier forces on multiple fronts and in policing thier streets against insurgents. It was attrition that won the war not tactics or small arms.

antsi
December 18, 2006, 08:16 AM
------quote---------
Everyone is comparing the Garand to the K98, but why not compare it to the G42/43?
--------------------

The Germans had a lot of promising weapons that they never could produce in sufficient quantity. The King Tiger was a great tank, but they only made about 450 of them and too late in the war to make any difference. By comparison, Soviet T-34 wasn't a match for the King Tiger, but they made 35,000 of them.

I think the G42-43 was a similar thing. Nice rifle. They made a few of them starting midway through the war. We had the Garand from the beginning, in sufficient numbers to arm nearly all our troops with them. Again, bottom line, the US rifleman was better armed than his counterpart in any other country.

antsi
December 18, 2006, 08:25 AM
-------quote---------
Basicly the Germans lost because they had a system were subordinates could not employ forces to defend on D-Day until it was too late
--------------------

Disagree.

D-Day did not determine whether the Germans won or lost WWII. By the time we landed at Normandy, Stalingrad, Kursk, and Bagration had already broken the back of the Wehrmacht. The Germans had already lost the war in the East.

What D-day determined was whether the US would liberate Western Europe and re-establish democracies there, or whether the whole of Europe would fall under the Soviet system.

wally
December 18, 2006, 08:55 AM
German tanks were clearly superior to what the US and England had, more proof of the concept that "quantity has a quality of its very own".

--wally.

Satch
December 18, 2006, 09:11 AM
The Germans had many weapons that out paced the allies, but the Germans methode of disapline of its troops made them almost imposible to think for themselves when their officers were killed or wounded and could no longer lead,and they had the habit of surrendering almost out right when an Allied unit would get behind them. In other words they were very effective in frontal attacks with their good weapons,but flank attacks by our troops was their down fall through out the war in Europe. My brother talked to a few German Pows and said they were always amazed that we would out flank them so much,and that really caused them many battles lost. The Germans thought our troops would surrender at Bastogne being surrounded,but of course Bastogne ruined their plans.

PeteRR
December 18, 2006, 09:21 AM
The Germans had many weapons that out paced the allies, but the Germans methode of disapline of its troops made them almost imposible to think for themselves when their officers were killed or wounded and could no longer lead,and they had the habit of surrendering almost out right when an Allied unit would get behind them. In other words they were very effective in frontal attacks with their good weapons,but flank attacks by our troops was their down fall through out the war in Europe. My brother talked to a few German Pows and said they were always amazed that we would out flank them so much,and that really caused them many battles lost. The Germans thought our troops would surrender at Bastogne being surrounded,but of course Bastogne ruined their plans.

What are you basing this on, Sgt Rock comic books? At the squad level, where no officers are present, the Germans outfought every other nationality in WWII. Read any of the historians who've written on the subject. German NCOs were the best trained and most independent of the major forces. The Germans were outnumbered in every theatre and country they operated in. On the E. Front, they got surrounded all the time. And as for attacking straight ahead, who do you think pioneered Blitzkrieg, which calls for penetrating the enemies front line and fighting behind their lines for extensive periods of time with no flanks?

dfaugh
December 18, 2006, 09:26 AM
IMHO,

Most of the infantry issued arms had little to do with the allied victory. One exception to this was the M-1 Garand which was superior to the (then) dated bolt action Mauser (which was still a "good" gun, but no match for the Garand). Most other small arms had little or no DECISIVE roles. (How many battles were won because we had 1911s?)

Some things that DID make a difference:

Allies had more EFFECTIVE artillary (though arguably not necessarily better).

German started out with superior armor, but we caught up to some extent, and theirs had some problems (reliability), and eventually we had WAY more.

Naval strength. The Germans started out ahead of the game, but we caught up. We never did completely neutralize their U-boats, although we did make them much leas effective. They were used brilliantly, and had an impact far beyond their numbers.

Air superiority. Again the Germans started out ahead, but we caught up pretty fast, and could produce a much greater volume. Remember the footage of masses of B-17 formations flying across to rain bombs into the heart of Germany. We took our licks for it, but the devastation they caused was tremendous. And they never really produced a heavy bomber to compare with the B-17 or the Lancaster.) And eventually, we simply "overproduced" them with aircraft, that were as good or better than what they had. The ME-262s were awesome, but Hitler wanted to use them as a light bomber, instead of a fighter, so they had less impact than they could've. They also were "too little-too late", to do too much to change the dynamics of the air war.

BUT, the very biggest mistake Hitler made was attacking Russia. It took FAR too many resources away from other fronts, and contrary to what he expected of the Russians, they eventually severely devasted his resources. His supply lines were way too long to effectively fight, and they were ill-equipped for the battles they encountered. And eventually the Russians overwhelmed them with armor, artillary, etc. that was as least as good as the Germans. Had Hitler not attacked Russia (or had he waited until he had totally conslidated his position in Europe, the outcome of WWII would have been quite different. (I think the Allies would have won, but at much greater cost, and a much longer war. That is, if we never used the "nuclear solution" as we did in the Pacific. (But remember Hitler/Germany was only a step behind in developing nuclear weapons.)

Joe Demko
December 18, 2006, 10:04 AM
It wasn't a mistake to attack Russia. It was what he planned all along. It's right there in Mein Kampf. Once the attack on Russia was underway, if Hitler had been able to resist his urge to micromanage, German victory might still have been achieved.
After decades of gloating Allied propaganda and war movies, it's easy to forget that when Germany invaded Russia, they had little to worry about in the West.
Great Britain was unable, on their own, to mount any kid of serious invasion of Europe. There was a lot of very strong sentiment in the US for staying out of another European war. The US wouldn't even convoy shipments to Great Britain at the time. FDR had to do an awful lot of wily politicking to get things like Lend-lease to be a reality.

Keith Wheeler
December 18, 2006, 12:52 PM
The MG42 is an amazing firearm, but not without a number of issues. While the M60 was inspired by the '42, it is not a "copy". Vastly different firearms. The M60 uses the belt-feed mechanism of the MG42, but not the operating mechanism. The M60 is gas-operated with a fixed barrel and rotating bolt, the MG42 is recoil-operated with a floating barrel and roller locked bolt.

The MG42's biggest issue is out of battery ignition. A "kaboom" in the flimsy sheet metal '42 can ruin your day. The Yugo M53, which not only were direct copies of the '42 but also used many WWII German parts, were primarily distrusted by their operators in the Balkan conflicts of recent history. The RPK was valued over the M53 as the latter was (according to operators) prone to jamming.

Yes, the MG42 lives on today as the M3 in use by Austria (not sure about Germany). In addition to the M60, there is a much closer descendant used in Spain, I forget the nomenclature but it is essentially a down-sized MG42 firing 5.56mm.

ArmedBear
December 18, 2006, 12:56 PM
Please note that I am not saying the U.S. didn't have fantastic firearms during the same period. But they are all LONG since retired.


Well, the Garand's magazine system wasn't the best -- Austria's rifle that Garand copied wasn't either; I own one. The mistake was rectified after the war.

The resulting revised firearm with a detachable mag and shortened brass is in use, as we speak, in Iraq.

So the Garand lives on in combat, with some tweaks.

CornCod
December 18, 2006, 01:20 PM
I think both armies had good weapons during the war. A good point was made about the differences between US and German tactical doctrine. The Americans used machine-guns to support the riflemen and the Germans used riflemen to support the machine-gunner. The Garand was superior to the Mauser. The MG-42 was superior in many ways to the M1917 and M-1918, but both American weapons were reliable. The BAR was a little outdated and probably inferior to the Bren, but since the American machine-guns were so heavy, an intermediate weapon midway in concept between a Light machine-gun/ Squad automatic and a normal semi-auto rifle of the time filled a good tactical niche.

Think about the poor Japanese and Italians and their perfectly awful machine-guns, both light and medium. I think their troops would have been much happier with either German or American weapons.

Of course, its not always the gun but the man behind it. The Soviets had half their troops carrying sub-guns with the funny bottle-necked 7.62X25mm and they, essentially won the war. I am sure the very idea of this gave the late Col. Cooper (God rest his soul) heartburn.

Chindo18Z
December 18, 2006, 02:51 PM
Quote by oneshooter: "The Germans had a chance to use the Polish BAR, and found that they did not like it. HOWEVER, they did know a superior weapon when they found it!"

How true. Ironically, at least some Bundeswehr units are currently using product improved versions of the M2HB ("Ma Duece). These have fixed headspace and timing which eliminates the necessity for timing and headspace gauges. I believe they purchased the originals from FN Herstal.

In 2000, my unit gave classes to some German KSK (German Special Forces) on their brand-new, just issued, M2HB .50s (preparatory to 1st range fire). Those guns ran like champs and without all that annoying turn-the-barrel and go-no-go drama.

The Big Browning continues to be a crowd pleaser. The Wermacht of WWII tended to go with auto-cannon in the same role.

gunny1022
December 18, 2006, 03:36 PM
IF Hitler had not so stupid to invade Russia, help the Italians in North Africa, we would all be speaking German today. The had the ballistic missle, close to the atomic bomb, the best generals on the planet. Hitler could have taken England out of the war at Dunkirk in three days and captured 200,000 troops. He admired the British because of their Germanic language and heritage. England would have had no chance---America was at least three years away from becoming a foe, and Germany would have had the atomic bomb by then. The German generals should have killed the SOB just after Dunkirk.

ArmedBear
December 18, 2006, 04:00 PM
gunny1022-

I don't think so.

We didn't fight (much) on the mainland US. What would likely have happened would have been that the US mainland would have become as war-torn as Europe.

Who "won" at that point would be another question.

RNB65
December 18, 2006, 04:09 PM
Gunny, I agree with everything you say except for the atomic bomb part. Germany was no where near developing an atomic bomb. Nazi physicists knew how to build an atomic bomb in theory and had workable bomb designs on paper, but they also knew that Germany lacked the industrial capacity to produce the enriched uranium needed to build a working bomb. They knew the war would be long over before Germany had a working bomb so most of their atomic research was geared towards developing nuclear fission as a power source and not a bomb.

SDC
December 18, 2006, 04:56 PM
In addition to the M60, there is a much closer descendant used in Spain, I forget the nomenclature but it is essentially a down-sized MG42 firing 5.56mm.

That would be the CETME Ameli.
http://www.bellum.nu/armoury/CAmeli-sketch.jpg

scout26
December 18, 2006, 04:58 PM
It was intelligence that won the war: ULTRA/ENIGMA in Europe and in the Pacific; PURPLE, et al.

When you can read the other guys' mail/mind and know what he's going to do before he does it, unless you're a complete idiot, you'll win everytime.

We had some stuff that was better then theirs (M1 Garand), they had some good stuff that was better then ours (MG42). Some of our doctrine was better then theirs (Fire and close air support) and some of theirs was better then ours (combined arms tactics).

I've read that the average German soldier was "worth" - 11 Russians, or 5 Brits or 3 Americans. They much better training at the individual and small unit level. Their whole unit replacement system was far superior to our individual replacement system.

But it still comes done to having the right people trained with the right stuff in the right place at the right time. That's why the Normandy Invasion worked and the Battle of Bulge didn't (at least for the Allies).

SniperStraz
December 18, 2006, 05:00 PM
bthest86: You're right that the 1911 is a superior pistol, but wars arn't won with handguns.

Omaha-BeenGlockin
December 18, 2006, 06:03 PM
In the end ----it wasn't the individual weapons----but superior manufacturing and logistics capabilities that won the war.

John-Melb
December 18, 2006, 07:43 PM
With the exception of the M1 Rifle, German weapons were as good as anything the allies fielded, the M1 wins on account of it's semi-auto fire.

Two things beat the Germans numbers and tactics.

The Panzer 4 was more than a match for a Sherman, or a T34, but not much good against 5 Shermans or 8 T34's.

The K98 was a match for the No4 Rifle, but not real good pitting one K98 against three or four No4's.

If the Germans had taken the Suez early in the war, they would have had access to oil fields and the natural resources of the Asia-Pacific area, things like rubber for truck tyres. With access to those natural resources, the German war machine would have been virtually unstoppable.

The couldn't take Suez because their supplies lines were too long, everything carried by the Germans in North Africa had to come in through Tunisia, and then be trucked across North Africa to where it was needed. There was a deep water port much closer to the German and Italian front lines, but it wasn't available for their use.

It was Tobruk.

MechAg94
December 18, 2006, 08:23 PM
From what I have read, the Germans were not real well prepared for WWII. They did not have enough armor and weapons and supplies for a protracted war. I have read that most of the tanks sent in to battle against France were older types with weak guns. They spread the newer tanks among the units to provide additional firepower where needed. Hitler was impatient.

You can also see the quotes from Rommel. He was constantly short of supplies and replacements during the entire African campaign. By the end of the African campaign his troops had very little food and fuel so they couldn't maneuver. When Rommel heard about the attack on Russia, he lamented that if had only a fraction of the troops and supplies, he could take all of Africa. I also saw a while back that the older US tank w/o a turret had some success in Africa.

There was also the problem of Arrogance. The Nazi's were so confident in their mechanical know how they never got wise to the fact that the British were listening in on their communications. They did not secure their communications very well beyond that code machine. The skilled British counterintelligence didn't help either. The British were intercepting a big portion of the supplies sent to Africa and actually had to make sure they didn't attack some or give away the fact that they were listening.

IMHO, the Germans should have attacked the West or the East, not both. Focusing on the Soviets only might have allowed them to win. Hell, they might have stolen the T-34 design and made even better tanks.

MechAg94
December 18, 2006, 08:34 PM
I remember something I read in Patton's book. He described a great deal of fortifications they overran that were large and well built but taken by squads in a relatively short time. He mentioned that if they spent all that time training rather than building, they would have been a harder army to push back. I'm sure there reasons for it, but it was an interesting point. Might have been busy work for foreign conscripts.

Then there was the Holocaust. Just when the German troops were beginning to face the Russian Winter, supply trains were being diverted to build extermination camps instead of sending war supplies to the front. Not to mention the fact that the anti-jewish stuff eliminated a number of potential officers and soldiers that might have served in the army.

RNB65
December 18, 2006, 08:50 PM
There was also the problem of Arrogance. The Nazi's were so confident in their mechanical know how they never got wise to the fact that the British were listening in on their communications.

Oh, how true! Actually, German intelligence strongly believed that the British had broken the Enigma code. But their mathmaticians and cryptographers convinced the military leaders that the Enigma cypher was mathmatically unbreakable and totally secure. So they continued right on using it. Little did they know that Alan Turing and his band of gifted eccentrics were sitting at Bletchley Park merrily decoding their messages day after day.

That was THE greatest secret of WWII!

:)

antsi
December 18, 2006, 08:52 PM
-----------quote-------------
When you can read the other guys' mail/mind and know what he's going to do before he does it, unless you're a complete idiot, you'll win everytime.
------------------------------

You should read John Keegan's Intelligence in War.

There were a few instances of WWII where the Enigma decrypts made a big difference on the battlefield. The battle against the U-Boats is an example. Despite generally understanding Enigma, Bletchley was only able to rapidly decrypt U-boat codes and translate these into usable operational intelligence intermittently. When they had their intelligence act together, they were able to re-route the convoys away from the U-boats and decrease sinkings dramatically. But then the Germans would change their code settings or their map or the Enigma machine itself, and Bletchley would be stumped for a few months, and the U-boats would be more successful for a while. This kind of on-again off-again performance is one of the ones Keegan cites as a big success of code-breakers.

There were plenty more examples where despite good intelligence did little to no good on the battlefield. In the battle for Crete, the allied commanders knew all kinds of details about the planned German invasion. They knew the exact forces, the date of the air drops, the drop zones, orders for individual units; you name it. Still the Germans won the battle because the Brits weren't abe to translate their knowledge into effective action. Another example is Barbarossa - Stalin had been told by everyone and their brother that the Germans were coming, but still the Russian commanders in the field were told not to prepare for an invasion.

It is a very good book and well worth reading. He also covers intelligence in Napoleonic times, WWI naval battles, and many other examples. His general conclusion is that intelligence can give one side an advantage in war, but it is not the decisive factor in who wins.

jad0110
December 18, 2006, 10:14 PM
The MG42's biggest issue is out of battery ignition. A "kaboom" in the flimsy sheet metal '42 can ruin your day.

For that reason, it can be argued that the slower firing, but more durable/reliable MG34 was the superior of the two. Heck, plenty of German pilots preferred the older BF-109 to the newer FW-190.

Someone else mentioned it earlier, but most people don't realize that the M4 Sherman could quite readily knock the snot our of the Panzer Is and IIs. It could hold its own against the IIIs and even the IVs. It was the Tigers and especially the Panthers that gave it so much grief. But even then the Sherman was but a small part of the entire effort. A Panther may be more than a match for a Sherman, but not a P-38 Lightening bouncing 50 cal and 20 mm shells up under its thinly skinned back side.

Though it must also be noted that the U.S. Army succeeded against the German Army in spite of its horrible, archaic replacement policy. Though this was offset by other factors, not the least of which was clearly superior logistics. You can have the biggest, best trained army in the world but it doesn't mean squat if they don't eat and are out of supplies!

A little off subject, but it's been mentioned previously: As for the Japanese, their early Type 99 Arisaka rifles were pretty good. Later in the war the quality began to suffer. They probably produced the most exceptionally horrendous sidearm of WWII (or any war) in the Type 94. The exposed sear projected from the left side of the receiver, and the gun could be fired simply by squeezing it at this point :what:. Might have been funny except a lot of poor GIs and Marines picked them up as souveniers not knowing the dangers they posed.

But two areas where they held an advantage were:

A6M Zero, or "Zeke" - Clearly outclassed the American F2A Brewster Buffalo, and did hold a measurable edge over the P40 and F4F Wildcat. But proper tactics meant the obsolete P40s and F4Fs could hold their own. Later U.S. aircraft like the F6F Hellcat, F4U Corsair, P38 Lightening, and P-51 Mustang turned the tables against the Zero.

Type 93 Long lance torpedo - probably the nastiest weapon in Japan's arsenal, far superior to anything else in the world. Caused British and American sailor a lot of grief.

Beatnik
December 18, 2006, 11:19 PM
Well, in response to the main topic of which is "better":
Upstairs I have both a 1911 and a P38. What follows is based on personal experience.

1911: well, I doubt I need to say anything about what it's like.

P38: The first thing is that AFAIK this was the first DA semi auto pistol to be adopted as a standard issue sidearm. There's something to be said for that, I think. It also has a loaded chamber indicator and a decocker - all in all, it's much more modern.

Fit and finish on the P38 is IMO superior to most 1911's I've seen. However, it falls right in line with stereotypical German technology - too damned complicated. I was able to figure out how field strip the 1911, even though it's not intuitive - but the P38 had me looking online. There are also little things that don't need to be there, like the fact that it has two recoil springs.

(I write software at a company with a German guy as the head of development, and it's hard sometimes not to point at something he wrote and say "THIS IS WHY WE WON"...)

The P38 also has an 8 round magazine of 9 parabellum. The Hi-Power was already around at that time, so in my mind there would be little excuse for intentionally designing an arm that doesn't have a double stacked mag - especially in a situation where you have so many people over 2 meters tall (who have proportionally sized hands and therefore wouldn't complain about it).

The P38 has a larger ejection port than the 1911 and it's situated on top. It seems to me like it would foul a lot more easily when exposed to battlefield conditions, but I wouldn't know for sure. That's based on the observation that there are more moving parts and that more of them get exposed when it cycles.

From what little I know about machining, the 1911 isn't exactly a cakewalk to make, but one thing that sticks out in my mind is the barrel on both of them. The 1911 barrel is only a moderately goofy shape. I can't figure out how the P38 barrel would be made at all without computer controlled machining. I can't really explain it except to say that if you ever get a chance to see one, take a look - you'll be surprised at how weird the barrel and slide are and how everything fits together.

As far as firing them, I'd have to go with the P38. As far as I've experienced, it seems like the 1911 can be made (after the fact) into a very nice shooting pistol through varying amounts of gunsmithing - but the P38 is a very nice shooter to begin with.

All in all, if I had to pick one of the two to have around as an everyday shooter, I'd go with the P38. If I was skulking around French hedgerows surrounded by people trying to kill me, there's no way I'd pass up the 1911. If that makes it superior, then the 1911 wins.

amprecon
December 18, 2006, 11:29 PM
I killed my first and only bear with a MK98 Mauser, it was a good solid rifle. It didn't stand out as anything exceptional though. It was just what it was, a rough and tumble bolt action rifle.
I own an M1 Garand (my second one) and know it pretty well. Looking at the receiver I am amazed at all the angles, grooves and intricate machining that went into fabricating it and thought that we, the USA, spent alot of extra time and effort creating this rifle. I thought that it must have cost much more to produce than the '03-A3.
It just takes me back to a time when the rifle not only had to function reliably consistently, but that it was made aesthetically pleasing to the eye. It wasn't just chopped out of a block of steel with the unnecessary metal left on it, it was trimmed off at the right places which left it looking professional in the end.
Even the Tommy Gun looks good, remove all the wood and the barrel from the receiver and it doesn't look like much, but when all put together it produces an unforgettable silhouette.
To me it seemed that we went the extra mile and took the extra effort to produce handsome and effective firearms built to last lifetimes which speaks mountains about our national pride and prestige of the time.

thexrayboy
December 18, 2006, 11:57 PM
The Germans made excellent weapons during WWII, many were quite innovative. However the Germans fell into the rut of always trying to build a better mousetrap that would magically win the war for them. If they had been able to build what they had in the vast quantities that the US did the ending may have been different. One of the reasons that industrial output from the Axis powers wasn't able to keep pace with ours was the simple fact that our factories went the whole war unscathed whereas we bombed the bejesus out of theirs thus decreasing their warmaking abilities. This was a key strategy in WWII. No matter how good a weapon you design it's of little use if you can't make it and field it.

As for the idea that the Germans could have won the war had Hitler kept his fingers out of the cookie jar there is some merit to that. But the chances are that if he had the patience to let his generals do the fighting instead of running the show himself he would likely have waited a year or two to start the war. If the Germans had waited till 1941 or so to start the war they may have been able to come up with a nuclear device, then again maybe not. We know they had the technical skills and did work on it. However we can never know if they would have succeeded with enough time. If they had however the whole course of the war and history would likely be radically different.

Colt46
December 19, 2006, 06:39 AM
I'll keep it short.
98k was inferior to the Enfield and Garand.
The STG-44 was a groundbreaking design, but lack of production and excess weight limited it's effectiveness.
The P-38 and Radom were fine designs. Maybe even better than the 1911, but .45 takes precedence over 9mm in any gunfight.
The BAR was great, but an Automatic Rifle as a primary squad weapon was an odd choice. Not really a machine gun is it?
German Machine gun developement was better than ours. Big exception is the Browning M-2. The British Vickers, water cooled, design rarely gets the praise it deserves.
The Thompson M1A1 is superior to most SMG's during the conflict but was too damned expensive to produce. The M-3 grease was a decent, if not, unispirational design. The MP-40 was good, but not all that tolerant of adverse conditions. The Russian PPSh series was pretty damned good. The Sten was crude.

German tanks were superior to ours in the Anti-tank role. Ours were designed to support infantry in a combined arms type role. Our tank destroyer doctrine was flawed and didn't prove to be a raging success. One aspect that rarely gets mentioned is our recovery and repair of damaged or destroyed armored vehicles. We had teams that could recover and refurbish tanks that other nations would completely write off as destroyed. I read an account by the commander of one of these units that had about a 50% chance of returning an AFV destroyed by enemy fire.

Nobody's mentioned the Proximity Fuze. Light years ahead of what everybody else was using. Our artillery was superior. Guns maybe not. Doctrine, supply and sophistication we were all over everybody.

The german navy was pretty much a joke. Their major surface units were too valuable to commit to actually doing anything and became uhuge magnets for the Royal Navy whenever they left port. Some of their designs and doctine were pretty good. Too few to make a difference though. The U-boat service did some fine work, but couldn't keep up with allied advances in tech and ended up being hunted down like dogs after the Autumn of '43. Their new XXI boats were never close to operational status and their XXIII boats were coastal defence only and had limited range and torpedos.

ilbob
December 19, 2006, 08:42 AM
I would rate it this way:

Battle rifles - US far ahead. Garand was by far the best battle rifle used in any quantity in that war.

Handguns - US. Can't beat a 1911.

Subguns. Maybe the Germans had an edge here.

Artillery. German 88s beat the heck out of anything the US had until late in the war. But our ability to call in accurate fire made that difference moot.

Ships. Early in the war, German ships were mostly better, especially the smaller ones. But, quantity has a quality all its own.

Armor. German armor was mediocre but their tactics pretty sound. Late in the war the Germans came up with some very impressive tanks, but they were not very fast or reliable. Too few, too late.

The US had several things going for it. One was the logistics end of it. We had factories that were not subject to continuous attack pumping out everything needed 24/7.

The other thing is a little harder to understand. German troops were well trained to do as they were told. And that is what they did. It was completely a top down organization and very few leaders would take any serious initiative unless ordered to (which is sort of a strange way to put it).

Geno
December 19, 2006, 08:47 AM
I agree with SoCalShooter. A very nice comparison.

Doc2005

PaulV
December 19, 2006, 01:55 PM
I've read that the average German soldier was "worth" - 11 Russians, or 5 Brits or 3 Americans.

The old baloney of the uber soldier. When comparing apples to apples (i.e. combat experienced troops to likewise, elites to elites, raw recruits to volksgrenadiers) there was very little difference.

PeteRR
December 19, 2006, 11:40 PM
One of the Brit historians did an analysis of the various infantry forces of WWII. The Germans on average inflicted 120 casualities for every 100 they took. Now that includes a lot of different campaigns, opponents, and times in the war all averaged togther. But 120/100 is the overall figure.

One other thing to consider: by the time the US entered combat against them, the Germans were on the strategic defensive. The US was on the attack most of the time. It's much easier to defend. The Sherman reflects that fact. It's fast, mechanically reliable, and mobile. Just the thing you need to advance. The Panther and the various iterations of Tiger tank were slow, unreliable, and hard to maneuver. But they had excellent armor and guns. Just the thing you need to defend a position and withdraw from it if necessary.

By the time the US came along the Germans, except for a very few fortunate units, couldn't field full strength infantry units any longer. The MG-42 and MP44 became essential to keeping the firepower up at the squad level. Who needs 11 guys if you have 5 or 6 manning 2 MG-42s?

jaysouth
December 19, 2006, 11:52 PM
Ilbob
quote:
Artillery. German 88s beat the heck out of anything the US had until late in the war. But our ability to call in accurate fire made that difference moot.

endquote:

The 88 was not an artillery piece. It was a high velocity Anti Aircraft gun. It could be depressed and used as a direct fire weapon and was somewhat effective as an anti-tank gun.

It could not be laid for indirect fire and had no fire direction center or forward observers. There was no panoramic sight or aiming stakes. It could not be deployed unless the gunner could see the target. That made it very ineffective when artillery was most effective, that is, night time or other periods of limited visibility.

As an artillery piece, it rated with civil war cannons. It was very vulnerable to counter battery fire from allied arty.

GW
December 20, 2006, 05:46 AM
Type XXI Uboat - beats anything of ours that could dive.

Iowa v. Bismarck - hands down, Iowa wins. Bigger guns and more of them. Superior secondary battery which was also capable of AA fire. Better radar and could turn like a destroyer. Then again, look at when they entered service. The Bismarck was an early war ship and the Iowa class a late war battleship

You forgot Essex Class Carrier v. ??? The Germans had 1 carrier under construction but never got it tosea. Actually the Escort carriers we had would have been a better item to mention as they ultimately eneded the U-Boat threat Type XXI subs were ahead of their time, but still needed to come up for air. Once we had aerial coverage for convoys, the U-boats became more hunted than hunter
We won because we are morally superior to all others, had the best and most undamaged indusrtrial base and ultimately, we won because Americans are really really good at making wars.

4v50 Gary
December 20, 2006, 09:25 AM
Sure the Germans were building the Graf Zeppelin but they never finished it - hence I never did a comparison. BTW, in terms of aircraft, I believe even the Ranger could carry more airplanes. We on the other hand had almost 100 aircraft carriers at war's end including the Midway class. The big carriers allowed us to sweep the IJN from the seas and the baby flattops not only carried aircraft replacements for their bigger brethen but formed the nucleus of the hunter-killer groups that swept the U-boat menace back. Aircraft carriers gave us control of the seas and with it, allowed us to transport vast quantity of men & material to our allies and to the front.

Lonestar.45
December 20, 2006, 11:52 AM
I think I'd give the edge overall to the Germans because of their large weapons mostly. Tanks, U-Boats, jet aircraft late in the war, sub-guns, heavy machine guns, V2 rockets...they were ahead of their time and superior in many ways to the Allies.

If the Germans had the same industrial capacity and oil reserves available to the Allies, I fear the outcome may have been a lot different. The Germans tried to rely on technology instead of sheer numbers, because they had too. The Soviets just plain outmanufactured them and ran them over with tanks, Mosins, and a million men. The Western Allies did nearly the same with their massive supply lines and domination of the air.

That said, the Garand and 1911 were superior to anything similar in the German arsenal.

SSN Vet
December 20, 2006, 12:03 PM
The 88 was not an artillery piece. It was a high velocity Anti Aircraft gun. It could be depressed and used as a direct fire weapon and was somewhat effective as an anti-tank gun.

then what was the 88mm gun they put into the Tiger I, Tiger II and the Panther?

these were not AA platforms!!

based on the "wealth of experiece" I gained assembling the Tamaya 1:35 scale model of the German 88 when I was 13 years old.....there were two distinctly different configurations of the 88....one was for AA and the other was a dedicated anti-tank gun.

Hey....Japanese made plastic scale models don't lie ;)

SSN Vet
December 20, 2006, 12:13 PM
on this topic I do have a little bit of background.....

the Germans made excellent U-boats later in the war, but like everything else they didn't have enough of them.

They had excellent submariners (with big BIG Kahunas...like Gunther Prein) ....

BUT....

the boats were micro-managed from afar and required to radio in reports and positions often....

Little did they know that the allies had developed radio detection equipment and that they gave away their position (at least a line of bearing to their position) every time they did so.

The U-boat casualties were VERY VERY high!

By '44, they were having a negligable impact on allied shipping, couldn't put enough boats together to form Wolf Packs, the best skippers were dead and the crews were green.

By '43 the allies were kicking the CR@P out of the U-boats.....

aside from the U-boats.....what navy are you talking about.....after being blocked in their ports....the Bismark was sunk on her maiden "break out" combat patrol and the Graph Spree was burned by her skipper in Argentina.

Aside for beating the Brits to the punch when they invaded Norway, anyone want to elaborate on the great sea battles the German navy won during WWII?

They couldn't do anything to stop allied battle ships from hammering the landing zones in the Med. and at the height of their power, they couldn't stop the Brits from evacuating Dunkird with every seaworthy dory they could send accross the channel (though pea soup fog certainly helped).

Warbow
December 20, 2006, 01:01 PM
then what was the 88mm gun they put into the Tiger I, Tiger II and the Panther?

The Panther had a high velocity 75mm gun.

streakr
December 20, 2006, 03:45 PM
Germany never settled on production of anything! They made frequent changes with small runs made tanks, missiles and other weapons unrelaible.

QC problems due to slave labor was a major concern; 88mm shells had a dud rate in excess of 50%

Hitler loved big guns; hundreds of of smaller artillery pieces coluld have been fielded in lieu of 1 Dora! The military and contractors/researchers did not coordinate at all, so 50% of V1s never even made launch.

Me262 jets could not land/take-off on grass or asphalt fields; as soon as Allie fighters were informed of jets, they flew to concrete fields and shot down the German jets as they landed!

Let's discuss some of the misconceptions about naval strength.

Kriegsmarine

All of the surface ships were woefully outdated, even Bismarck class which was a warmed-over WWI design suited only for North Sea/Baltic operations. Bismarck/Tirpitz had great beam (128') with a very low armor belt, poor bunkerage, lousy secondary battery (separate high and low angle guns), triple screws with poor rudder/stern engineering (couldn't steer by engines). Bismarck sank Hood, a late WW1 design, by a lucky shot! (Golden Twinkie!)

Iowa class were also pre-war designs approved in 1939 and laid down in 1940! These magnificent ships performed functions (gunfire support, carrier escorts, etc) that they were never designed for! Only the Montana class (never built) could be considered a true WW2 design.

Scharnhorst/Gneisenau were so-so designs but poor sea boats (until bow mods). Their 11" mains lacked punch and the armor scheme was defective. Light cruisers and destroyers were worse and unable to perform escort/attack duties in the North Atlantic/Arctic.

Hipper class (8") was overly large with awful engineering plant and short-legged. Pocket "battleships" (Deutchland class) were slow, overgunned heavy cruisers with defective power plants. Graf Spee was vulnerable to even 6" gunfire.

Early KM submarines were small but well built. Type XXI were late and would have been great and possibly extend the war.

US Gato and follow-ons were much longer ranged, and after torpedo mods, far more deadly that German U Boats. The US Navy did to Japan (and over longer distances) that Germany could not do to Britain! Allied ASW was outstanding by late 43 and air cover (escort carriers and long range bombers) could find even schnorkel boats with ease.

streakr

Caimlas
December 20, 2006, 05:05 PM
One thing which made our small arms better than the German's and Russian's small arms during WWII:

Our boys were, for the most part, pretty damn skilled with a rifle, whereas most German troops were not - to the exception of the 'crack SS' troops, which were mainly superior due to discipline and not riflery.

I'll take accurate aimed fire from a dozen troops and a single support weapon over two support weapons and a dozen troops who barely know how to load a rifle any day of the week.

Same reason we were able to win WWI: our men could shoot, to the chargrin of the enemy.

Joe Demko
December 20, 2006, 05:16 PM
Our boys were, for the most part, pretty damn skilled with a rifle, whereas most German troops were not

Cite?

Boats
December 20, 2006, 05:34 PM
I would never slight the men who met face to face with the enemy, but it was the nation's capability to get them there, equip them in a manner superior to the enemy, support them with combined arms in theater, evacuate them and patch them up when wounded, and replace them when necessary, that won the war.

You could have saddled the American fighting man with the small arms, tanks, and airplanes of any of his foes, and provided the logistical and economic output remained the same, he would have won with those weapons too.

On an individual level, it must have been comforting to know that a soldier or marine was being given the best battle rifle of the day. It would be even more comforting to know that more ammo, more water, more food, more medicine, and just more of everything, was a requisition away.

I read somewhere once that Air Marshall Goering was going over the wreckage of an American bomber shot down over Germany. It was said he knew Germany had lost the war when he saw more or less fresh cookies that had been delievered in a care package. If we had the spare capacity for such individual "luxuries" the ramifications were clear-- America had no trouble getting anything we needed to the front against Germany.

One would think he'd have picked up on it sooner running into lend lease aircraft. Lend-lease aircraft amounted to 18% of all aircraft in the Soviet air forces, 20% of all bombers, and 16-23% of all fighters, and 29% of all naval aircraft. In operational areas the lend lease concentration of aircraft was even higher in terms of percentage. Of the 9.888 fighters delivered to the air defense (PVO) fighter units in 1941-45 6.953, or over 70% were British or American. On the Karelian front, lend-lease aircraft amounted to about two-thirds of all combat aircraft in 1942-43, practically all torpedo bombers of the naval air forces were A-20G Bostons in 1944-45 etc.

The most prominent American planes flying the Red Star were P-39 Airacobra fighters, A-20 Boston and B-25 Mitchell bombers, and C-47 transport aircraft. The Hawker Hurricane was the most represented British plane.

That we could supply a barely tolerated ally with almost a quarter of its air forces, not to mention all of the trucks, motorcycles, machine tools, etc, while fighting a two front war of our own, only underscores that small arms were only a modest factor at best in terms of what won the war.

Bart Noir
December 20, 2006, 06:04 PM
Austria's rifle that Garand copied wasn't either; I own one.

I've tried and failed to come up with a single Austrian semi-auto, prior to that country adopting a version of the CETME in the 1950's. Please let us know which rifle it was, that John Garand copied. American honor (and Canadian too, he was born in Quebec) is at stake here :)

Bart Noir

Caimlas
December 20, 2006, 06:04 PM
Sorry, I can't find any web references which support what I said. I seem to recall reading the material in either a historical account of WWII, something I saw on the Military (er, History) Channel, or a culmination of different sources.

I do recall that part of it had to do with the fact that by the time the US got into the war, there was already a fairly high concentration of green troops due to their support weapon preference and benegration of the infantry, as many of the experienced and properly trained troops were killed, injured, or off towards the East to fight the Russians.

Also, recall that a large part of the initial offensive (outside of the D-day landings themselves) was conducted by more heavily trained troops - such as airborne infantry. As a part of the heritage from our WWI doctrine of an infantry trained in marksmanship, being able to hit a target was a large part of the training of our troops in WWII. The fact that the US has, and had, a gun culture was no insignificant contributing factor to the success of such measures, either.

The fact that Germany preferred to use peon infantry with bolt-action rifles, with multiple support weaposn is illustrative of Germany's contempt for general fighting troops' ability - only the MG gunners got much, if any training. Inversely, the fact that the US preferred infantry with autoloading over primarily supportive fire is also illustrative of the fact that our doctrine and training emphasized the potency of our individual soldier.

Sorry I can't provide more info than that.

Detritus
December 20, 2006, 06:41 PM
who do you think pioneered Blitzkrieg, which calls for penetrating the enemies front line and fighting behind their lines for extensive periods of time with no flanks

WE did!! in the 1860's no less!:evil: all the germans did was change the make up of the forces used from Infantry, horse cavalry, and muzzle stuffer artillery, to partly mechanized infantry, Armored cavalry, and modern artillery.

the first blitzkrieg style use of combined arms was in fact at Brice's Crossroads MS, when N.B. Forrest ordered his artillery to fire and fight in a manner that made them part of the frontline and almost as mobile and fluid of a unit as their protecting cavalry. results: the union army was STILL running when they reached southern TN.


the concepts that Guderian, Rommel and the rest used to build the german doctrines of WW2 were based on the writings of English and Prussian cavalry officers sent to observe "the war in America". That europe ignored the lessons for 70 years before one state chose to give first hand lessons, does not make the origins any different. "Blitzkieg" was born in the CSA.

GRIZ22
December 20, 2006, 08:35 PM
Quote:

One of the Brit historians did an analysis of the various infantry forces of WWII. The Germans on average inflicted 120 casualities for every 100 they took. Now that includes a lot of different campaigns, opponents, and times in the war all averaged togther. But 120/100 is the overall figure.

This really isn't an impressive figure when you look at the facts. Being on the defense they should have inflicted more casualities. Military planning calls for a combat power ratio of 3:1 if the attacker wants a decisive win. It was our ability to combine disciplines and supply our allies that prevented the ratio from being higher for the Germans.

To compare what elite forces can do the Rangers in Somalia (Blackhawk Down) inflicted about 50 EKIAS for each friendly. If they inflicted 50,000 for each friendly that doesn't even the score.

4v50 Gary
December 20, 2006, 09:14 PM
I wouldn't call the Garand superior to the FG-42. The latter was selective fire, detachable magazine and just plain cool looking (as if that counts).

Now, as for the Kriegsmarine, the Prinz Eugen class heavy cruisers were a disappointment. While they were suppose to be superior to any allied cruiser, they had a lot of problems with their high-pressure steam turbines. In fact, after the war, it took a U.S. Navy crew to figure out how to make them work reliably and they did it when they brought the Prinz Eugen to America for ultimate disposal at the Bikini Atoll. Their best light cruisers (Liepzeg or Koln) couldn't touch our pre-war Brooklyn Class. The Germans had 9 6" guns and we had 15 6" guns. We also had a lot more AA than their light cruisers did. Our Baltimore class heavy cruisers were more reliable and better armed than the Prinz Eugen/Hipper too.

German destroyers, especially the Barbara configuration (turret with twin 5.9" guns) were very well armed (light cruiser armament), but nose heavy. Again, high pressure steam turbines didn't make them any faster than ours and ours were more reliable. The Germans also built a lot of torpedo boats (not PT type Schnell bootes) but 800 ton boats whose main armament were torpedoes. Excuse me, but they were obsolete when the destroyers were designed back in the turn of the century (to destroy torpedo boats). Even with the matter of guns set aside, we had superior fire control radar.

Now, the Scharnhorst & Gneisenau battleships (or lightly armed battleships) with their 11" guns and heavy armor was more than a match for our Alaska Class Super Heavy Cruisers (9 x 12"), but the days of big guns was eclipsed by the aircraft carrier (OK, the Scharnhorst & Gneisenau team sank the Royal Navy carrier, HMS Glorious, in the North Sea).

A more fair comparison of the Kriegsmarine would be against the Royal Navy. But in short, while most of the Royal Navy's ships were much older (the exception being the King George V class battleship and some of their light cruisers (Southampton Class, Belfast Class, Fiji Class about the same age), there were more of them and the Germans had to rely on either one of two naval strategies: commerce raider or fleet-in-being. Commerce raiding only works for a while before you're hunted down (which the British did). Fleet-in-Being only works until the RAF or the Royal Navy Air Arm bombs you under (think Tirpitz or think Taranto) or sends a mini-sub in to plant charges under your keel. Besides, with 17 battleships (in total) against 4 (including the Scharnhorst/Gneisenau), the Germans were badly outnumbered. As Gross Admiral Erich Raeder said, "All we can do is to show that we know how to die."

zinj
December 20, 2006, 09:48 PM
I've tried and failed to come up with a single Austrian semi-auto, prior to that country adopting a version of the CETME in the 1950's.

I think he means the bolt action Steyr 1895 (http://surplusrifle.com/steyrm95/operations.asp), which was the first battle rifle that used enbloc clips. Still, saying Garand ripped off the design is a bit of a stretch.

Colt46
December 20, 2006, 10:19 PM
Hope this clears things up. The Flak 36(88L71) was a towed anti-aircraft weapon that could be deployed quickly, for a gun of it's size, during the rapid advances the blitzkrieg spawned. It had a huge splinter shield and was very conspicuous from the ground when deployed. They were used effectively in France when a British/French Armored counter attack threatened the entire german army. Typical Anti-tank weapons were ineffective against the heavy Infantry tanks(Think Matilda and Char 1 b's). The attack was stopped cold when it almost overran forward AA units. Later, Rommel used the Flak 36's against the the british in North Africa with similar results. Their awesome long range insulated them from counter fire that should have found the guns exposed and vulnerable by nature of their huge size.
They were so successful that the Wehrmacht put them into smaller, wheeled anti-tank carriages for use on the Eastern front. They were not as successful as was hoped because larger towed Anti-tank artillery was difficult to manhandle and use by their crews.

The guns used by Tiger tanks was an older flak piece(88L56) that was obsolescent. Still a capable performer, but not a lethal or long ranged as the 88L71. A few german tank destroyers utilized the 88L71. The mere size needed to provide a stable platform meant these AFV's were either extremely large and heavy or large and poorly armored. The resulting beasts were slow and relatively easy prey.

CornCod
December 20, 2006, 10:24 PM
"The other thing is a little harder to understand. German troops were well trained to do as they were told. And that is what they did. It was completely a top down organization and very few leaders would take any serious initiative unless ordered to (which is sort of a strange way to put it)."

I must respectfully disagree with ilbob here. From World War One on, German junior officers were taught to take the initiative. In fact, in many exercises, young officers were put into a position where they were given a chance to "take the objective" by stretching or disobeying "orders" or to obey "orders" and fail. Those who choice victory over mild disobediance were rewarded. Thus, rigid command structures were discoraged due to the chaotic nature of modern warfare. I think ibobs opinion may come from common stereotypes about German national character.

R.W.Dale
December 20, 2006, 10:32 PM
Very interesting points made on all sides of this subject..... BUT Two words really sums up the diffrence between German war waging implements and American ones.


Nuclear Weapons


Germany is rather lucky the war ended for them when it did.:evil:

Detritus
December 20, 2006, 11:18 PM
Very interesting points made on all sides of this subject..... BUT Two words really sums up the diffrence between German war waging implements and American ones.


Nuclear Weapons


Germany is rather lucky the war ended for them when it did.

More like the Allies are lucky we destroyed/crippled, or overran the german research facilities before they had a chance to finish developing the components of either of their proposed nuclear weapon systems (granted the Antipoidal bomber wouldn't have worked), and decided to go ahead and kill new york or london.

R.W.Dale
December 20, 2006, 11:35 PM
More like the Allies are lucky we destroyed/crippled,

Luck has nothing to do with it..

I guess we were just LUCKED to having the 8th air force.

By all accounts Japan had a much more advanced nuke program tha Germany did. The entire notion of nuclear weapons was never taken thourghly seriously by the Germans. I guess cause we were LUCKY enough that the germans forced out all of thier Jewish physicists.

roscoe
December 20, 2006, 11:49 PM
Our boys were, for the most part, pretty damn skilled with a rifle, whereas most German troops were not - to the exception of the 'crack SS' troops, which were mainly superior due to discipline and not riflery.
A nice thought, but by 1942 more than 60% of the population was urban, as opposed to 39% in 1900. It has only increased by 10% (relatively) since 1942. I think this idea of America as full of riflemen is a nice idea, and maybe accurate up to WWI, but the idea that other countries were less so just happens to be false. Germany, Britain, and the US were all proud of the fact that they emphasized riflery. I would bet that if you went to Switzerland, Finland, or Sweden, you would get the same attitudes.

see this:
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=4381

balletto
April 23, 2007, 01:20 PM
...I just finished reading a book by a WW2 maintenance officer:

Death Traps: The Survival of an American Armored Division in World War II
http://www.amazon.com/Death-Traps-Survival-American-Division/dp/0891418148

The short version, our tanks = bad, german tanks = good. Our artillery and air support = really good. Our support/logistics guys = really good.

cbsbyte
April 23, 2007, 01:51 PM
Just to add that FG42 and MG42 designs where incorporated into the M60.

A bit more. Anyone that believe German soldiers were inferior to Allied soldier's has not read any history books, and his basing their opinion on Hollywood movies. The common German solider, was better trained, and better disciplined, than anything the allies could produce. For example they where trained to work together in small groups. They were trained on every small arm weapon that was fielded by the German military, so if the machine gunner went down, another squad member could take his place. If the Squad leader went down another solider could take his place. They where taught to think on the move, and always adapt to their current situation, and overcome. That is why small groups of soldiers could hold off thousands of enemy soldier's in delaying tactics. The German excelled on the platoon and squad level, that after the war, German infantry officers rewrote our infantry tactics. To this day our soldiers use some of the same tactics the Germans used in WWII.

Avenger29
April 23, 2007, 02:10 PM
I read that book too, balletto. A very good read.

I was mad b/c Patton suppressed the development and deployment of the M26. A lot of crews paid for that mistake with their lives.

Cosmoline
April 23, 2007, 02:28 PM
The short version, our tanks = bad, german tanks = good. Our artillery and air support = really good. Our support/logistics guys = really good.

That's the sense I've gotten as well. The mighty German war machine by 1944 was a thin line of excellent tanks supported by mules and horses. Years of fighting Ivan had taken a toll, and our own military had the advantage of being extremely new. We were far more mechanized than they were.

The common German solider, was better trained, and better disciplined, than anything the allies could produce.

That would likely have been true in 1939, but not 1944. By that time the best of the best had been through the meat grinder. Like the elite British professional soldiers of 1914 who could fire SMLE's as fast as a semiauto, they were sacrificed to the war. And just as the elite British troops were replaced by the poorly trained shopkeepers of Kitchener's army in WWI, the well trained German units that swept across Europe in 1939 were replaced by increasingly ill suited units of the young and old, until the Germans resorted to recruiting children as part of the Volkstrum. The army we fought in 1944 and 1945 was literally a different army full of different soldiers than the one that swept across France and Poland. It had suffered casualty rates in Russia that boggle the mind. Also, the number of foreign troops fighting in Axis ranks is often overlooked. The Germans had to resort to recruiting from occupied territories to fill out the ranks on all fronts. So the "German" soldiers we encountered would sometimes be Polish or Bulgarian or even Croatian.

At the same time, while they were getting worse we were getting better and better. In 1942 our Army was a shambles. But two and half years later we had the best trained and best equipped army in the world, if not the most experienced. There's an advantage to starting from scratch--namely that you get to buy all new equipment and don't have to weed out the ranks of a huge peacetime military.

lathedog
April 23, 2007, 02:39 PM
Take a P-38:
change the magazine to a double column design
bring the mag catch to the thumb position
extent the slide forward to the muzzle (almost)
leave the slide open along the top
What pistol does it pretty much turn into? (hint - locking wedge)

Peter Kokalis had a great article in Shotgun News a while back about the genesis of the M-60. It's biggest take-off from the MG-42 is the feed tray and top cover. The rest is pretty much a Lewis gun IIRC.

The Garand allowed smaller sized US units to compete with larger sized enemy units. It was a force multiplier and allowed us to win a war that we were outnumbered in. I agree that doctrine and logistics win wars, but our doctrine was based on forces equipped with self-loading rifles. Supply of ammunition (sepecially artillery rounds) was probably more critical.

The neatest thing about the Garand was that John G was a tool designer, and designed his rifle to be easy to manufacture. He developed all the tooling concurrent with the prototypes. Cost per unit, time to build, skill level required to build, etc, have an impact on the ability to get the weapons into the hands of the troops. Also clears up the "mystery" (to some) of why his rifle was picked over the Johnson. I can figure why the Johnson might have seemed like a real serious competitor in 1940, but by 1945 you gotta admit that the proof was in the pudding.

I'd agree that pistols probably have very little to do with winning wars. However, anything that inspires confidence does impact success.

Ma Deuce is still the best. The Germans had nothing equivalent I can think of.

The BAR seems to have been reliable and effective. The 20 rd mag is a bit small but then again it's mag doesn't stick up and give you away from the prone like a BREN or Nambu light. The SS had Czech ZB equivalents as SAWs, the FJ had the FG-42, the Wehrmacht lacked an equivalent. Toss-up.

The US Army came out of WWII believing that the M1919 .30 was less effective than the MG-34/42 style of general purpose MG. At least the 1919 was reliable and robust.

M-1 Carbine. I think we've all shot one and probably owned one at some time. The are so close to being perfect - but not quite. I don't want to get into the cartridge thing, but the 30 carbine cartridge does seem to sit in the mediocre middle. I never understood people who think the 30 carbine cartridge is laughable, but then go out and buy a 9mm carbine.

The MP-43/44/StG-44 was definitely "the thing". Quite the pattern for things to come. It definitely exceeds the effectiveness of the M-1 carbine, and does things the Garand wasn't made to do. If they could have built 6 million of them (like we built 6 million carbines) it might have been something.

ilbob
April 23, 2007, 02:43 PM
Given that most casualties resulted from artillery and mortar fire, I doubt the relative merits of individual infantry weapons made all that much difference.

One of the keys to the Allied victory was the ability to think strategically, rather than tactically. The Allies knew they had to destroy the German economy to win, and they set about doing that. If that had not been done, the German Army might well have been able to hold out.

As others have mentioned, the combined arms approach of the US made a big difference on the battlefield.

The Germans lagged sorely in the air and that eventually hurt them badly.

plexreticle
April 23, 2007, 02:47 PM
I didn't read everyone's replies but I fell the Russians had a pretty decent tank.

The Germans had some outstanding light machine guns and also developed modern missile technology.

Eightball
April 23, 2007, 02:49 PM
I honestly believe that german weapon designs were superior to the allies in just about every respect--their tanks were better, their machine guns were better, their SMGs were far simpler, and their soldiers were trained impeccably (early to mid-war). The problems laid with logistical support, their frontline units were armed according to doctrines of WWI, and their commanders' hubris was outstanding. If you were to input american logistics (end war, not "operation torch"-like disasters) and better commanding officers (not so stubborn, though the German genious of tactics is hard to replace) and arm the frontline units with more MGs per company and more semi-auto rifles to match the Americans (not botch the design of the G41, for example), I think that the Germans would have been 'nigh unstoppable on the ground; as far as the aireal aspect goes, that's up for debate. If they hadn't screwed up tactically with their attacks and choice of alliances, WWII may have wound up for a stalemate, or with the Germans coming out ahead.

Just my thoughts on the matter.

cbsbyte
April 23, 2007, 02:54 PM
That would likely have been true in 1939, but not 1944. By that time the best of the best had been through the meat grinder. Like the elite British professional soldiers of 1914 who could fire SMLE's as fast as a semiauto, they were sacrificed to the war. And just as the elite British troops were replaced by the poorly trained shopkeepers of Kitchener's army in WWI, the well trained German units that swept across Europe in 1939 were replaced by increasingly ill suited units of the young and old, until the Germans resorted to recruiting children as part of the Volkstrum. The army we fought in 1944 and 1945 was literally a different army full of different soldiers than the one that swept across France and Poland. It had suffered casualty rates in Russia that boggle the mind.

Very true that German military was in beaten but not defeated in 1944 but even with the introductions of conscripts from invaded countries, the Volkstrum, and older men in the regular forces. The German military still remained an effective fighting force that still had enough experience and well trained troops, though not enough supplies and materials, to hold back the Allies on both major fronts, and create a stalemate in Italy. In 1944 they where still a force to be reckon with.

bowfin
April 23, 2007, 03:28 PM
Here is a excerpt of a letter that appeared in the Russian Pravda:

During the WWII years, the USA delivered defense technology in the sum of $46 billion to the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition. The costs made up 13 percent of America's defense spending. The lion's share of deliveries was given to England - $30.3 billion. The Soviet Union received defense technology in the sum of $9.8 billion, France $1,4 billion and China $631 million. In total, the USA supplied arms to 42 countries.

The USSR received hundreds of thousands of military vehicles and motorbikes. Lack of fuel was ameliorated with deliveries of 2.5 million tons of petroleum products. The profusion of Roosevelt's "garden hose" provided Stalin with 595 ships, including 28 frigates, 105 submarines, 77 trawlers, 22 torpedo boats, 140 anti-submarine vessels and others. The Soviet air force received 4,952 Aerocobra and 2,410 Kingcobra fighter jets. Soviet pilot Alexander Pokryshkin fought with Hitler's Luftwaffe aces in Aerocobra planes, which made him a Hero of the Soviet Union hero three times over.

The lend-lease agreement supplied the USSR with 2,7 thousand A-20 and 861 B-25 bomber planes. Soviet tank divisions received 7,056 tanks, 8,218 anti-aircraft emplacements, 131,600 machine guns and other arms.

Soviet propaganda tried to diminish the importance of the American help. Back in those years, it was said that the Soviet Union had produced 30,000 tanks and 40,000 planes since the middle of 1943. Well, as a matter of fact, this was true. However, one has to take into consideration the fact that lend and lease deliveries were made to the USSR during the most difficult period of the war - during the second half of 1942. In addition, the USSR would not have been capable of producing its arms without the lend-lease agreement: The USA shipped 2.3 million tons of steel to the USSR during the WWII years. That volume of steel was enough for the production of 70,000 T-34 tanks. Aluminum was received in the volume of 229,000 tons, which helped the Soviet aviation and tank industries to run for two years. One has to mention food deliveries as well: 3.8 million tons of tinned pork, sausages, butter, chocolate, egg powder and so on. The lend-lease agreement provided orderlies with 423,000 telephones and tens of thousands of wireless stations. Deliveries also included oil distillation equipment, field bakeries, tents, parachutes, and so on and so forth. The Soviet Union also received 15 million pairs of army boots.

The help was delivered to the USSR via Iran and major Soviet sea ports. About 3,000 transport vessels arrived at the ports of Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Vladivostok, and delivered 1.3 million tons of cargo. It would be incorrect to diminish the significance of such all-embracing help from the New World as a serious factor that assisted in the victorious ending of the war.

Historians and politicians keep on arguing about the results and lessons of WWII. The basic results of the war are known: the war was lost by the two major participants inthe "grand political game" of 1939-1940 - both Hitler and Stalin. Of course, the Soviet leader defeated Hitler, although it then resulted in the ideological crisis and, eventually, in the tragic collapse of the totalitarian superpower - the USSR. It is worth mentioning here that the debt of the Soviet Union - $722 million - for the lend-lease contract has not been completely paid to the States yet.

http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/90/363/9941_roosevelt.html

If these figures are accurate, then I don't think anyone could say that Russia was the major culprit in defeating Germany, it was irrefutably the United States war effort. The Russians may have fought just as much and just as hard, but a with a lot more difficulty and a lot less effectively. I wonder if the heavy Russian armor being produced at the end of the war would have even been considered for manufacture if the Soviets weren't receiving huge supplies of free steel, free gas, and over a half million free trucks, jeeps and other vehicles to carry it.

streakr
April 23, 2007, 03:34 PM
German technology was equivalent to the Allies, however they were more prone to deploy weapon systems that were still in prototype; the Tiger tanks are a perfect example: underpowered, cantankerous but well armed and armored. built in small batches they could not be maintained.

M4, while underarmored and, at least with the 75mm, underarmed were fast, reliable and available!

Me262 was brilliant but required concrete runways. It was also used improperly as a bomber; the Germans could have halted Allied bombing if the plane was properly used.

Hitler's influence on German war machine significantly reduced it's effectiveness and the duration of the war.

Just my opinion..
streakr

Cosmoline
April 23, 2007, 04:44 PM
I honestly believe that german weapon designs were superior to the allies in just about every respect--their tanks were better, their machine guns were better, their SMGs were far simpler, and their soldiers were trained impeccably (early to mid-war).

Let's not overlook the single most important technological innovation of the war, and the most powerful weapon. In *that* area we were way ahead of the Germans. Thanks in large part to their idiotic racial theories that sent the best physicists the world has ever known to our shores. If the war had lasted longer and come down to a test of technologies, we still would have one.

SDC
April 23, 2007, 04:47 PM
If these figures are accurate, then I don't think anyone could say that Russia was the major culprit in defeating Germany, it was irrefutably the United States war effort.

This ignores the fact that Stalin was willing to feed millions of people into the meat grinder to USE those weapons (in addition to the ones they were able to produce for themselves). All the weapons in the world are useless without someone to use them.

alan
April 23, 2007, 05:12 PM
In-so-far as SMALL ARMS are concerned, there was a basic philosophical difference between the U.S. Military and the Germans.

In the German Army, riflemen supported and protected machine guns. In the U.S. Military, machine guns supported Infantry.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

Cromlech
April 23, 2007, 05:35 PM
I love the way that this discussion always pop up again and again. :D

I have used a 1911A1 in Australia, which is pretty similar to the original 1911, but that and first person shooter WWII games are all I know when it comes to the arms of WWII. There were great weapons used on both sides, but I do think that the Americans had an edge with the Garland rifle. Of course Ze Germans had the MG42 and all that lovely stuff too.

Hoppy590
April 23, 2007, 05:44 PM
Cromlech, its Garand ( or more specificly United States Rifle, Caliber .30, M1 ) ;)

refresher

Garland- american actress, star of "the wizard of oz"
http://www.npr.org/programs/morning/features/2003/dec/rainbow/corbis/dorothy_u1926078.jpg

Garand- Excentric Canadian
http://www.thebestlinks.com/images/e/e2/JohnGarand.jpeg

argueably both making huge controbutions to civilization as we know it

bowfin
April 23, 2007, 05:54 PM
If these figures are accurate, then I don't think anyone could say that Russia was the major culprit in defeating Germany, it was irrefutably the United States war effort.

This ignores the fact that Stalin was willing to feed millions of people into the meat grinder to USE those weapons

No, it doesn't ignore it at all. It just acknowledges that feeding millions of people into the meat grinder would have been futile without adequately arming and supplying them, and the USSR could not have done that without Lend Lease, period. The Czarist Army was also willing to feed millions of people into a First World War against Germany, and without adequate logistics and armaments, it didn't go so hot for them.

As Patton said, no one wins a war by dying for their country, they win by making the other guy die for his country. Without Lend Lease, Ivan would have still went to war with the Germans, it just would have been more likely he would have went on foot, with a Mosin Nagant, and not inside a T-34 and behind a 76mm gun. That makes those obsolete Pzkfw IIIs and IVs and Stukas a lot more deadly.

PX15
April 23, 2007, 05:58 PM
Well, all I have to go on is what I was told by my (now deceased) Uncle, who was in the Army Infantry in Europe in WW2.

If I remember correctly he had high regard for the German weaponery.. I think his issued weapon was the M1 Garand, and he thought that was a fine rifle too..

He wound up being the BAR man after the regular BAR man was killed, and the next grunt in line was handed the BAR and was killed and so on.. My Uncle did say that he was able to kill the same German sniper twice before he himself was wounded in the leg and taken out of action. He said the BAR position was a favorite target of the Germans and for good reason.. Apparently it was an awesome weapon.

To be fair he said the German he "killed twice" was in fact wired in a tree and he killed him while advancing, then in the confusion he wound back up in the same general location and saw the sniper in the tree and shot him again.. He said then he realized it was the same guy he shot before.. He didn't seem too distressed at the overkilll.

Don't know how this fits into the German vs USA firearm question, but it was an interesting story he told me many years ago, and thought someone might enjoy hearing it.

J. Pomeroy

pete f
April 23, 2007, 06:00 PM
For the most part, the American philosophy that has governed us since the Civil War came into play, WE do not throw men's lives away as did many of the other nations. It was the determined efforts of Generals like Ike, Bradley and Patton who decided it was more important to kill the other sides troops than to kill ours. We built planes, ships, submarines, and tanks with the intent that our troops should come home. The Sherman was an easy tank to get in and out of, and when designed was thought to be capable of defeating most enemy tanks. All of our fighters from the Wildcat on were built to take punishment and get the most important part home, the pilot. Stories abound about US planes shot up so bad there was nothing to do but shove them off the runway or carrier deck after they had gotten the pilot home.

When we had to feed men to the meat grinder, and there was no other choice, we did it. However, we knew we could make more tanks, more planes, more ships and guns but the hardest part to replace was the trained operator.

We used real experts to train our people too, Our best fighter bomber and transport pilots were pulled out of combat and used to train new replacements, on the theory that better replacements were worth more than a few superior but easily lost combat pilots.

materials. We had the manufacturing might to produce more than any other nation AND we never had those facilities under attack. Detroit, Gary, Long beach, Wichita and Seattle as well as as nyc, Newport news, and Philadelphia never had to endure bombing campaigns. We mined ore in Minnesota and it went to Erie and Gary and then to build the tools of war without being bombed. Texas produced oil and we never had to worry about an airraid.

as for weapons one on one,
we had a better rifle, we had a better combat support arm. and we had a better pistol.

We had the HMG, we had a SAW, they had a better GPMG.

Despite the comments that the 88 was not a good arty piece, read up about it's use by Rommel in the desert. It ate Montgomery's troops up.
It was also not the only field piece used by the germans. The German army had pioneered the use of mobile artillery in the early years as well as the use of CAS as a fighting tool. Read about the Blitz era of the war and the use of the Stuka as flying artillery. Stumble on to a fixed position gun that was holding up an advance, and call in the dive bombers. This was a lesson learned very quickly by the USA.

Germany was a nation that prized engineers, and America was a land that prized industrialists. WE had lots of guys who were trained as engineers, but were also industrialists, meaning they understood what it took to take and idea and make it into a product. A product that worked when it should, was safe when it was supposed to be, and easy to use, and economical to make.

WE had world class aeronautical engineers, none better really. WE also had the luxury of sitting on the sidelines for a couple of years and watching what worked and what did not. We preferred to have planes that had plenty of protection, plenty of speed and plenty of firepower. Both the germans and the brits started the war with fighters that had only 4 .30 cal machine guns. We started with fighters that had six .50 cal guns. the germans had fighters that could barely make it over the channel and fight for fifteen minutes before needed to return home, Very shortly after we had fighters that would fly a thousand miles fight and fly that much to get home,

WE studied the best of the best and fielded the 105 and 155 howitzers, guns good enough to serve for nearly 50 years. we adopted other nations ideas when it came to mortars and rockets and by wars end were producing the best mortars there were. The 81 was perhaps the best of its type weapon we had by wars end for the infantry man. able to stop attacks with very accurate fire and with great lethality.

stevekl
April 23, 2007, 06:17 PM
Head to head, categorical comparison:

Infantry rifle candidates:
M1 Garand
Springfield 1903 (used by the Marines as an infantry rifle early on)
K98
G43
Stg44 (Yes, I could this as an infantry rifle)

The Springfield and K98 are nearly identical as combat arms, but that doesn't matter because the others in this category do the job better, anyway. The M1 is also nearly identical to the G43 and it's a real toss-up. The M1 was better made and had better sightes, but the G43 used detatchable box magazines. However, the Stg44 is a better infantry rifle than either, with a large magazine (30?) and firing the forward-thinking intermediate cartridge that is all the rage nowadays.

Winner: Stg44

Squad automatic, or squad light machine gun candidates:
MG42
MG34
BAR
M1919A6 (used by paratroopers as a SAW)

The BAR is nice but is too heavy and holds only 20 rounds in detatchable box magazines. The 1919A6 is an improvement with its belt feed, but is long and heavy and awkward. The German MGs are better than either, and out of those two I have to give it to the MG42 for being easier to build and more reliable.

Winner: MG42

Tripod mounted machine gun candidates:
MG42
MG34
Browning 1917
Browning 1919A4

Well the water jacket on the 1917 helps with sustained fire, but is a weighty liability on a fast-moving battlefield. The 1919A4 and MG34 are pretty much identical, combat wise, but the MG34 was better because of its quick-change barrel. The MG42 was easier to produce than any of them and had a higher rate of fire, so i'm giving it the category.

Winner: MG42

Officer's/NCO's long arm candidates:
Thompson
M1 Carbine
Reising
MP40

The Reising (used by the Marines early on) was terrible. The Thompson was much better but was expensive to produce and way too heavy. The M1 Carbine was light, extremely handy, and packed some punch. The MP40 was maybe less handy and packed not so much of a punch, but held a larger number of rounds. For this purpose, I think they both performed about as well, so i'm tying the category.

Winners: Tied with the M1 Carbine and MP40.

Marksman/Sniper's rifles:
Scoped K98
Scoped Springfield 1903
Scoped G43
Scoped K98

The semi-autos here are less handy than the bolt-actions, and probably less accurate. The 1903 and K98 are virtually identical, so they're tied.

Winner: Tied with 1903 and K98

There are probably more categories to consider, but these are all I could come up with because I have to make dinner now!

Baba Louie
April 23, 2007, 07:15 PM
Logistics.
US.
Hands down, THE winner. Once the pipeline was in place.
Timing was critical as mentioned earlier.
Speer was able to have German industry turn out MORE weapons in 1944 under the most intense bombing anyone in the world had ever faced than Germany had produced in '41 - '43, even with the dispersal of industry around the country. They just ran out of manpower and fuel to run their war machine.
One might make a pretty good argument for Allied military strategic leadership and planning when compared to the effect the madman in Berlin displayed. (Never a good sign when your Generals try to assassinate you).
Germany's 88mm compared to the US 75mm? Hmmmm
Small arms, you guys covered it well already.

But if you ever have to plan a war, think logistics. (Not to mention politicians who'll stay the course)

mp510
April 23, 2007, 07:42 PM
I believe that as far as standard battle rifles, M-1 was a far superior rifle to the K-98. More shots, higher potential rate of fire. However, if we compare apples and apples- bolt guns and bolt guns- the 1903 Springield series was highly influenced by the Mauser action. The 1917 rifles of WWI vintage that the US furnished the British for homeguard use during WWII also exhibited significant Mauser influence.

The P-38, not the Luger was the WWII German standard issue pistol, though Lugers were still issued. I would much rather have a 1911A1 than a P-38 or a Luger, considering the fact that the capacity was similar. However, there is something to be said about a double action in a single action world. In fact the P-38 lives on in the Beretta M-92 series.

Machine guns are a bit of a toss up. The browning patterns are still in use all over, but the German machineguns found themselves in todays weapons as well.

Each sides weapons have their own merits and demerits...

JWarren
April 23, 2007, 07:48 PM
I've got nothing to add to this thread that hasn't been discussed. I just wanted to thank you guys for having this discussion. It has been a very interesting read and I appreciate all the effort you guys have put into it.


Thanks.


John

Cosmoline
April 23, 2007, 09:35 PM
Squad automatic, or squad light machine gun candidates:
MG42
MG34
BAR
M1919A6 (used by paratroopers as a SAW)


Including crew served, chain fed medium MG's in with the BAR doesn't make much sense. The BAR would fall into the same general category as the Degtyaryov or the Lewis Gun. In that category, either the BAR or the awesome DP-27 would be better than anything the Germans had in the field. IIRC, the Germans were stuck trying to use MG34's with a box magazine, which is nutty.

For submachine guns, the winner is the Suomi followed by the PPSh. All others are flawed :D

Hoppy590
April 23, 2007, 10:13 PM
The M1 is also nearly identical to the G43 and it's a real toss-up. The M1 was better made and had better sightes, but the G43 used detatchable box magazines.
the M1 and G43 are not nearly identical. and german doctrine would have had men loading the G43 via stripper clips not detachable mags if i remember correctly.

44AMP
April 23, 2007, 10:13 PM
As someone who has studied WWII and it's weapons for the last 40 years, I would like to add a few things to the discussion.

First of all, there are two different ways of measuring "better", by design, and by success in use. There were a number of German designs which were superior to those in use by the Allies, but were not produced in sufficient numbers to have a significant effect on the war effort. The most famous of these are the jet fighters, the Sturmgewehr, and the last model U-boats.

Infantry weapons; Yes, the M1 Garand clearly proved itself to be the premier infantry rifle of WWII. However, Garands were not as widely used as some here tend to think. Many US Army units fought the entire war carrying M1903 Springfields, and our Marines fought all of the early island campaign with the 1903 as their primary rifle. It wasn't until about the middle of the war that the Garand became the primary combat rifle in terms of numbers.

Many have made mention of the fact that the Germans did not have a heavy machinegun to match our M2 .50cal. True, however, it was only due to their doctrine, not their engineering/manufacturing potential. The MG 34 and later the MG 42 were dual purpose machineguns. Tripod mounted the filled the heavy machinegun role. And the Germans fielded large numbers of 20mm cannon, which went along way to matching the ground role for a heavy MG.

The German Navy never had a chance. Because of Hitler. When Hitler took power he assured his armed forces that there would be no war before 1945. Kriegsmarine construction was based on that assurance. When Hitler launched the war in Sept 1939, the Kriegsmarine was caught far behind, and never caught up. For example, it was determined that 300 U-boats were needed to close the Atlantic. They went to war with about 100, and nearly got the job done anyway. But they paid a heavy price, during the war 40,000 young Germans went to sea in U-boats. 30,000 never came home. The surface fleet would have been small, but well balanced and powerful in 1945 as well, with modern battleships and aricraft carriers. It likely would not have made a difference in the long run, but they never got the chance to find out. As others have noted, they never got the bugs out of their powerplant designs, and the small numbers of capital ships and the way they were used allowed the Royal Navy to overwhelm them.

As far as German soldiers being unable to act without orders, those of you who think this need to do more research, in particular the accounts of men who were there. More than one veteran US officer was of the opinion that the most dangerous opponent to face was a German soldier without orders. German soldiers at lower levels were trained to adapt and improvise in the absence of orders, and the Wehrmacht relied heavily in "saddle orders", which basically is "take the objective", relying on the initative of junior officers to get the job done. It worked rather well on the tactical level.

There are lots of places where the Germans made what turned out to be very serious mistakes, but the most serious one was Adolph Hitler. His leadership got them to start the war before their military was ready, and later his micromanaging cost them dearly. Another "mistake" was one that the Japanese fell victim to as well, at first, they were successfull. In fact they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. For a while. They then fell victim to "Victory Disease".

Both Germany and Japan retarded or abandoned future weapons design and developement for a time, because they were "not needed". Until reverses on the combat fronts proved them wrong. The time lag to design and bring superior weapons into service was never made up. There are many examples of this, notably in aircraft. By the time superior designs were built, combat pressure did not allow them to be built in sufficient quantity to be effective. Limited industrial capability, compared to the USA and the Soviet Union also played a large role. Both germany and Japan could not afford to interrupt the production of the Me 109 and the Zero to switch over to better fighters, even though those two designs had reached their peak potential by 1943. The US, on the other hand, with vase resources, and the luxury of time was able to gear up to production levels that allowed sufficient supplies for combat and produce improved designs, and integrate them into the combat forces.

Roosevelt turning this nation into the "Arsenel of Democracy" years before we actually went into combat went a long way to laying the goundwork for our success.

Both Germany and Japan based their plans on a short war, and when the Allies refused to make peace after being beaten, it screwed up their plans. They had not planned for, nor equipped for a long war. They had no long range heavy bombers, for example. The Germans had no long range single engine fighters, by their doctrine, they didn't need them. Neither did the British for that matter. The Japanese did, but only because they planned from the beginning to fight over long ocean distances.

By the way, the Sturmgewehr (MP 43, 44, and Stg 44) were forbidden to be made by Hitler. His armies didn't need another rifle, which is why they were originally called MPs (Maschinen Pistole -machine pistols-submachine guns). It was only because of some Wehrmacht officers working around Hitler's orders that they got any into the hands of the troops. After they were in use on the Eastern Front (in small numbers) and proved sucessful did Hitler relent and authorize production. Again, too little, too late.

Hitler did something similar with the jet fighter. After seeing the prototypes (which could have been fielded a year earlier but for Victory Disease), he ordered them to be converted to bombers, which delayed their operational use by another half a year.

The war is full of blunders like that, many on our side as well. Our policy of having tanks support infantry and having tank destroyers fight enemy tanks turned out to be seriously flawed. But in the end it can be summed up in one of my favorite old jokes;

German officer (being questioned):
"Ve haff ze best tanks in ze vorlt! One uf our tanks iz wurth ten uf your tanks!
Cocky GI:
"oh yeah? Then how come we're kicking your ass?!
German Officer:
"Because you alvays haff elefen!:(

antsi
April 23, 2007, 11:43 PM
-----quote-------
If these figures are accurate, then I don't think anyone could say that Russia was the major culprit in defeating Germany, it was irrefutably the United States war effort
-----------------

70% of Axis divisions were deployed on the Eastern Front, and well over 70% of German casualties occurred on the Eastern Front.

Lend-lease kicked in and made a major difference after 1942. Before that, the amount of aid from the Western allies was trivial. The Soviets fought the Wehrmacht at its strongest in Barbaraossa and Operation Blue; fought them to a standstill at Moscow and broke their back at Stalingrad. After that, there was no way Germany was going to win the war.

That's about when US aid really started to flow. US fuel, food, trucks, and other supplies certainly helped the Soviets sustain their offensives much further and deeper than they could have on their own resources and no doubt significantly shortened the war. But you can't make the case that the Germans would have won the war but for US aid, and you certainly can't make the case that defeating Germany was "primarily a US effort." By the time US aid kicked in, Germany was already well on the way to defeat.

bowfin
April 23, 2007, 11:48 PM
Baba Louie,

I don't know which famous general said, "Amateurs study tactics, experts study logistics.", but it dovetails perfectly with your statement.

Hoppy590
April 24, 2007, 12:31 AM
Lend-lease kicked in and made a major difference after 1942.

i remember hearing some where that of the several hundred new locomotive engines in russia during ww2. only like a dozen or so were soviet made, the rest were lend lease.

that always got me. cause while the soviets may have made all thier own rifles and planes and what not. they couldnt have done it if we didnt give them the trucks and trains.

alan
April 24, 2007, 12:58 AM
One can argue details forever, however if I may note the following, it might prove interesting.

American industrial capabilities are what won the war/defeated Germany and Japan too. Of course, nobody was bombing out industrial facilities, which likely helped, but interested parties might consider an observation attributed to Erwin Rommel.

Rommel was supposed to have offered, after the beating U.S. forces took at the Caserene Pass, however it's spelled, the following. No matter how much of their equipment we destroy, they can replace it faster than we can replace our losses. Also, while their forces were green and poorly led, that only happens once. He also noted that if the Americans can find or build a port ANYWHERE IN AFRICA, they will beat us, their manufacturing capacity and capabilities are such. The above are not exact quotes, however as memory serves, they do accurately reflect comment attributed to Rommel at the time..

ReadyontheRight
April 24, 2007, 01:18 AM
Were German weapons of WWII superior to U.S. weapons?

Yes, but quantity sure beats quality in a land war.

The U.S. enjoyed a 14:1 ratio of Sherman to Panther tanks. While the Panthers were superior in terms of armour and firepower, the true role of the tank is infantry support, not just tank-on-tank fighting.

The Sherman was more manuverable, faster, able to cross more bridges and there were a heck of a lot more of them to deploy to meet daily objectives.

"Film" is superior to "DVD" or "Video" in many respects, but they serve different purposes.

blitzen
April 24, 2007, 02:11 AM
I didn't read all the post's either but I do remember reading somewhere that it was the outright aggresivness of the us soldier that won the war for the allies.

plexreticle
April 24, 2007, 02:29 AM
The US supplied the trucks and the Russians supplied the bodies. I'm not sure if you can get more aggressive than human wave attacks but the Russians sure tried.

Tinmancr
April 24, 2007, 03:37 AM
Lets see the BAR U.S's only kinda ar too heavy, never actually heard any complaints by vets though.
So I give Germans the advantage there they had the paratrooper rifle mp 42 and the mp44.
the later uses the first successful intermediate round I have heard the rumor the ak was based off it.
I believe both were burst or full auto with single at a toggle.

We had the battle rifles m1a1 30,06 goofy strippers aside a solid weapon.
And the less than powerful m1a1 30 cal carbine, which I see supposedly had a select fire version.
Germans had the Mauser k98 good gun but bolt action, only one I rember.
So in the outdated battle rifle category we win!

Pistols we had the 1911 .45 the manstopper seven rounds nuff said also super reliable at the time.
I know very little about the luger but it was in development for a long time.
So I will go by the math a luger has eight, the p38 has seven both 9mm standard.
So we win by size alone, however there was a drum fed version of the luger 32 rounds of the devastating 9mm ammo.

Mgs I think the Germans win for gp but hey we had the .50 cal, I'm sure they had a heavy mg or an anti-aircraft gun they could have used.
7.92 with water cooling beat 30cal carbine with air any day as far as I'm concerned.

Smgs no real contest .45 is better than 9mm and we had at least two different guns Thompsons some of which could accept drums and the ugly but effective grease gun.
Germans mp40 9mm on average holding more ammo.
We win again

Sniper or marksman rifles I for the life of me thought they had something automatic.
However I can't find any info on it so k98 with scope, against a Springfield 06
I vote Springfield I have put a few rounds through my vintage ww1 gun.
Never used a Mauser but they have a following and are responsible for most bolt action designs I know of.

Grenades I think the Germans they had more range and accuracy as per info gleaned.

Rockets probably Germans again, but I bet the bazooka was a lot cheaper to make.

Tanks I won't even go into no competition at all Germans.
We did have jeeps..

They also had subs and naval vessels arguably better, I know too little about naval to comment.

Andras
April 24, 2007, 10:56 AM
More like the Allies are lucky we destroyed/crippled, or overran the german research facilities before they had a chance to finish developing the components of either of their proposed nuclear weapon systems (granted the Antipoidal bomber wouldn't have worked), and decided to go ahead and kill new york or london.

Germany gave up serious nuclear research in '43.

Don't forget the US Tank destroyers. They scored up to 6:1 kill ratios against German tanks according to US army studies. We built nearly 7,000 M10s and plenty more M18s and 90mm M36s. M36s arrived in France in September 1944, and entered combat in early October. The 90mm gun was a definite improvement, able to penetrate the Panther glacis at up to 500yd, in addition, the powerful 90mm shell could cause the glacis to collapse if struck with multiple non-penetrating shells, and still score a kill. One of the first Panther kills occurred at 1,500 yds, a M36 from the 776th TD Battalion scored 2 hits, one broke the track, and the second entered the turret, destroyed the breechblock of the 75mm cannon, and blew the top off the turret.

Essex County
April 24, 2007, 12:42 PM
In a word NO. Essex

Detritus
April 24, 2007, 05:21 PM
Germany gave up serious nuclear research in '43.

"serious nuclear research", and by extention a "nuclear explosion" is not needed to kill a city. just sufficient amounts of radioactive material

the germans had plans involving the use of what we now think of as a "dirty bomb" (radioactive sand and a bursting charge), delivered by a sea launched, souped up V2, against New York city.

even if they couldn't hit a US city. As long as the germans had access to a source of Pitchblende (uranium ore) they posed a "radiological threat" to the allies, and both Germany and Czechoslovakia contain such deposits.

but this is kinda, way off topic so i'll stop there.

bowfin
April 24, 2007, 05:47 PM
The Soviets fought the Wehrmacht at its strongest in Barbaraossa and Operation Blue; fought them to a standstill at Moscow and broke their back at Stalingrad. After that, there was no way Germany was going to win the war.

I think "broke their back at Stalingrad" would have been a somewhat premature death knell for the Wermacht.

Russia did indeed defend Moscow, Stalingrad, and Leningrad, and inflict huge losses on the Germans. However, the first offensive after Stalingrad, (Rzhev) was disastrous for the Soviets. In fact, most of the victories in the first half of the war by the Soviets came while they were "on defense", not offense. Even the much latter Battle of Kursk was a defensive victory, for the most part.

However, stalemate isn't really victory. To kick Germany out of Russia and the Balkans, and then move into Berlin, the Soviets needed things that moved. Planes, trains, tanks and trucks.

Postwar Soviet propoganda has built up a myth that the Russians were some sort of industrial juggernaut during the war, but let's look at some figures.

The Germans produced four times as much steel as the Russians, and 3 1/2 times as much coal. The Russians produced twice as much oil as the Germans and Romanians, but the U.S. produced (and shared) eight times as much as the Soviet Union did, with much of their shared products being refined into aviation gasoline, hauled to Russia's front door step.

Germany produced more aircraft than the USSR during WWII, 189,000 to 157,000. The United States built almost 325,000.

The Germans produced about 346,000 trucks, the Russians 197,000, and the Americans 2,38200. Russia got over 425,000 freebies in Lend Lease, which was huge for making the Motorized rifle divisions motorized, and able to keep up with the Russian tanks.

As for tanks and self propelled guns, Russia was the champ with 105,000, vs. almost 47,000 for the Germans and 88,000 and change for the Yanks. Of course, as already mentioned, it's pretty easy to build over 100,000 tanks if someone else is supplying the steel for 70,000 of them, and you don't have to build those 425,000 trucks.

Remember also, that in a straight "German vs. Russian" show of strength, German factories, railways, and industrial centers were being hammered around the clock by British and American heavy bombers, and tens of thousands of skilled factory workers were killed by those air raids.

Now consider if even HALF those 10,600 total 88, 105, and 128 mm Flak guns and their crews that were futilely trying to defend the Fatherland were put on the Eastern Front as tank killers.

Heck, just think of how many factory workers were able to become soldiers in the Soviet Union because of Lend Lease.

I do not subscribe to the theory that the Soviet Union was the single biggest reason that Germany lost the war. I believe it was the United States.

Oleg Volk
April 24, 2007, 06:04 PM
Yes, the MG42 lives on today as the M3 in use by Austria (not sure about Germany). In addition to the M60, there is a much closer descendant used in Spain, I forget the nomenclature but it is essentially a down-sized MG42 firing 5.56mm.

AFAIK, the Spaish Ameli 5.56 LMG was taken out of service due to low durability. Most examples shook themselves to pieces...a consequence of flimsy plastic receiver.

Geronimo45
April 24, 2007, 06:45 PM
Logistics mean a good bit. I understand the Germans were using horses when fuel supplies ran low. Us, we up and built a pipeline right after Normandy, IIRC.

MBR versus MBR, the US and UK win - US with the semi-auto Garand goodness, and the Brits with a 10-rd bolt action - may not be as accurate as some Mausers, but double ammunition sure can't hurt.
The Germans had some sort of semi-auto, and so did the Russians - but neither one was issued from the get-go, so I imagine supplies weren't high enough. Don't know of the reliability of either one.

The Germans had some teriffic weapons, but they generally weren't around in enough quantity/at the right time to make a difference. My favorite is the FG-42. Basically an early M-14, it's a very classy, distinctive gun. More than a match for the Garand, I reckon - but it doesn't have the 'ping'.

SMG versus SMG: Russians win the range contest with their PPSh, Thompson wins the class, looks, and 'oomph' contest. Grease Gun, Sten, and MP38/40 tie for the ugly-but-functional gun award.

cooch
April 29, 2007, 06:48 AM
Random thoughts....

Nobody has yet mentioned the use of radar by the English as a pivotal influence on the Battle of Britain. This, and the rate as which English industry was manufacturing fighter aircraft, arguably kept Britain in the war and hence prevented Hitler's attack on Russia from being purely a single-front war. Not to mention providing the Allies with a base for the Invasion.

Antony Beevor in his analysis of Stalingrad and Berlin campaigns, points out that both Russian and German armed forces routinely shot their own men "pour encourager les autres". It is believed that the Red Army executed the equivalent of a full infantry division of their own, during the Stalingrad battle alone.

In terms of strict comparison, the German Blitzkrieg was not an outstanding example of rapid movement. Allenby's Megiddo campaign had a higher rate of advance back in WW1. Apparently, even in the early days of WW2, the Germans relied heavily on horse-drawn transport for their general transport, while Allenby was pioneering mechanised transport for infantry. I've also been lead to understand that Tobruk was the first occasion in which Blitzkrieg tactics were defeated by allied troops. The infantry refused to surrender when over-run by German tanks. (Which rather surprised the Germans) The infantry dealt with German infantry while the Panzers were permitted to pass through until stopped by mine belts and AT artillery sited in depth. AAA demonstrated that the gunners were actually safer if they stayed at their guns - Stuka's being deterred by return fire. So to the extent that Tobruk contributed to the Axis defeat in Nth Africa, it was due to superior tactics, rather than weaponry.

Chester Wilmot argues that the following contributed to the Allied victory in Normandy.
Air superiority and its effect on the German ability to move formations in response to Allied attacks was crucial.
Allied deception and counter-intelligence which led the German high command to maintain large forces in northern France which would have made a considerable difference had they been reallocated to the defence of Normandy.
Allied strategy led the Germans to concentrate their better armoured formations opposite the northern sectors of the Normandy beach-head, allowing the breakout and subsequent encirclement of the Falaise area by Allied formations on the southern flank of the beach-head.
The landing of amphibious tanks and armoured vehicles in support of the initial infantry assaults made a significant difference. US casualties were highest in the assault in which these weapons were not used, or were used relatively sparingly. Whether this fits under the heading of Logistics or Weapons, I'll leave you to decide.

Credit to American industry. Even at the height of the U-Boat campaign, American shipyards were building ships faster than the Germans could sink them.

Cordially......... Peter

Capstick1
April 29, 2007, 08:55 AM
The German weapons were so innovative that their design had a huge influence on gun manufacturing in other countrys. The 1903 Springfield is a slightly modified copy of the 98 mauser. The M60 machinegun that the U.S. military used for so long is actually a ****ed over rebuilt copy of an MG42. The AK47 contains many ideas used in the mp44. I really hate the Germans for what they did to the Jews during WW2, but when it comes to gun design these guys really had their **** together.

ranger335v
April 29, 2007, 05:52 PM
The Sherman tank was significantly inferior to the larger German tanks. But, in defense of our designers, the Sherman had limitations dictated by our ability to transport them from the factories and to the battle field: size limits! Larger tanks would have been impossible to pass through rail tunnels in the US, making shipment to ports more difficult. It would also have made it much more difficult to load them into the cargo ships available and again unloading them at the distant ports. We KNEW the Sherman would be at some disadvantage against some forces but didn't realise just how bad it would get.

The Germans inability to make ball bearings in sufficent quanities is why you hear loud squeaking from their tanks in movies; they had to resort to sleeve bearings! But that wasn't too great a problem since most of their tanks didn't live long enough to wear the sleeves out.

Over all, our small arms were the equal of any at the time, and better than most.

44AMP
April 29, 2007, 06:52 PM
Yes, radar did help the English, but what cost the Germans the Battle of Britain were the Germans themselves, and Winston Churchill.

The Luftwaffe failed to achieve air superiority over England because of a couple of factors, one of which was the short range of the Me 109 fighter. While the Messerschmitt had a range roughly equal to the RAF Spitfire and Hurricane, the distance from the French airfields was just great enough that they only had about 15 minutes "stay time" over southern England. As many (if not more) German fighters were lost due to running out of fuel on the way back as were shot down by the RAF. The failure of foresight to allow their primary fighter to be equipped with a drop tank cost them dearly.

English aircraft (fighter) production managed a miracle under Lord Beaverbrook, by being able to keep up with their losses, in fighter planes. Where the RAF ran into trouble was replacing their losses in pilots. Even transfering pilots from Bomber Command and using foreign (Czech, Pole, French, and even a few US) pilots, they were losing pilots faster than they could replace them.

In the initial stages of the Battle of Britian, the Luftwaffe concentrated on RAF airfields, and several senior RAF officers have stated that they were down to two weeks. Two more weeks at that rate of loss, and the RAF would cease to be an effectve fighting force.

Then came the Luftwaffe error that started the chain of events that changed everything. On the night of August 24th, 1940, a Luftwaffe bomber got lost, and accidently dropped their bombs on central London. Prior to this, bombing of non-military targets was forbidden. The London docks, and the nearby arsenal were valid military targets, but residential central London was not. Both sides had generally held to this so far in the course of the war.

The next day, Churchill gambled with the fate of his nation. And ultimately, he won. He sent a small force of RAF bombers to bomb Berlin that night. Hitler was so enraged at the bombing of his capitol (which did very little real damage) that he ordered the Luftwaffe to destroy English cities above all else. This took the pressure off the RAF airfields, and at the expense of "the Blitz" on English cities, allowed the RAF to recover, and ultimately defeat the Luftwaffe. After it finally became clear to Hitler that his Luftwaffe could not defeat the RAF, he turned his attention to the east, never to return in significant numbers.

Bart Noir
April 29, 2007, 07:54 PM
the 1903 Springield series was highly influenced by the Mauser action.

The 1903 was a licensed version of the Mauser, which is more than highly influenced :)

Many US Army units fought the entire war carrying M1903 Springfields, and our Marines fought all of the early island campaign with the 1903 as their primary rifle.

Which Army units did so? I bet they were not front-line combat units. And after Guadalcanal (spelled it wrong, I'm sure) where did Marines go into action with the 1903 as the primary weapon? Again, I believe it was support units and those needing sniper rifles or grenade-launching rifles who deliberately used the 1903 in combat.

The M60 machinegun that the U.S. military used for so long is actually a ****ed over rebuilt copy of an MG42.

Grammer aside Capstick, I disagree. The M60 parts below the feed mechanism are most certainly NOT the MG-42. It was a short-recoil operated weapon with a bolt that didn't rotate to lock, and the M60 is a gas operated one with a rotary bolt.

Bart Noir

Capstick1
April 29, 2007, 09:25 PM
A while back I remember reading an article about this German Luger that was chambered for .45ACP of all things. I think this was a prototype and was never released. I'm sure that pistols worth alot of money today.

Scanr
April 29, 2007, 09:44 PM
The German 88 mm cannon, was murder on Allied forces. It could take out most armor.

Cosmoline
April 29, 2007, 10:49 PM
A while back I remember reading an article about this German Luger that was chambered for .45ACP of all things.

A few (2?) were made as prototypes and they went through the trials for a new US service pistol. The 1911 won, and the prototype that went through the torture trials was destroyed.

cooch
April 30, 2007, 05:16 AM
Yes, radar did help the English, but what cost the Germans the Battle of Britain were the Germans themselves, and Winston Churchill.
Not insignificant help, given that it permitted the RAF to outnumber and outposition the Luftwaffe with tailored responses, not relying on standing patrols which by their nature would be outnumbered by a concentrated German attack.

Where the RAF ran into trouble was replacing their losses in pilots. Even transfering pilots from Bomber Command and using foreign (Czech, Pole, French, and even a few US) pilots, they were losing pilots faster than they could replace them.
Two more weeks at that rate of loss, and the RAF would cease to be an effectve fighting force.

Agreed.
No-one has ever said that it was not a close-run thing.


The next day, Churchill gambled with the fate of his nation. He sent a small force of RAF bombers to bomb Berlin that night.
I would not so describe this action.
Yes, it possibly changed the course on the BoB, but arguing that the whole war hung on this one action - and that Churchill knew it - is stretching things IMHO.

Cordially......... Peter

tinygnat219
April 30, 2007, 09:01 AM
Heh... I think the victor's Small Arms automatically beat the losers by the fact that to the victor go the spoils.

High Planes Drifter
April 30, 2007, 09:53 AM
A while back I remember reading an article about this German Luger that was chambered for .45ACP of all things.



A few (2?) were made as prototypes and they went through the trials for a new US service pistol. The 1911 won, and the prototype that went through the torture trials was destroyed.

Cosmoline, I dont think all were destroyed. IIRC on the History Channel program Tales Of The Gun it was shown that somehow one had survived, and needless to say, is now worth a small fortune.

Lonestar49
April 30, 2007, 12:23 PM
...

First, to the OP's question: Without doubt, the Germans led the way in all arms, Tanks, ships, boats, rockets, and airplanes to jets, and the art of communications within their battle-tanks to talk to each other, via radio, tank to tank.

Here's what I read (somewhere) to be true: As some of you may or may not know, the Russian's first, and continued, T-Tanks were the first modern tank, and those T-tanks kicked ass against German tanks in WWII by use of the first sloped armor, speed, and a decent gun, plus of course, the simple Russian Horde Doctrine, simple, same-design, built in mass.

Here's where that bit of history gets real interesting. Apparently, an American, of what original birth place, I cannot say, but a US Citizen, actually drew and designed the T- Tank (that Russia built) which was refused by our War Dept. in favor of the highly, political, Sherman Tank/s, that were built by converted Auto plants, and using inferior guns, along with the motors.

After his design was refused, he sold it to the Russians (our Allies at the time) and of course, the T-tank made history and they of course, took all the credit for it.

If true, and I lean towards it is, it's just another true story of the power of greed among friends in high places, at the cost of those that died in the 100's, in order to get (in sacrificing numbers/kills of Shermans and their crews) facing head to head with one German tank, or more, while trying to close a 2000 meter gap, in order for their far inferior tanks gun, and armor, to take their first shots, that did no damage to the fronts of any German tanks, but allowed (in mass numbers) other Shermans to maneuver out and to the German tanks, flanks, and more effectively, in killing of German Tanks, to their rears and take them out from behind, at the cost of their brave fellow Tankers getting killed from their head-on positions, starting at 2000 meters, from superior German Guns in their superior armored tanks, without even getting a shot off, until under 1000m..


LS

Detritus
April 30, 2007, 12:44 PM
Here's where that bit of history gets real interesting. Apparently, an American, of what original birth place, I cannot say, but a US Citizen, actually drew and designed T- Tank,

Walter Christie didn't design the BT and T-34 tanks, the Russians used his suspension system design (not sure if they bought it, or if it was the fruit of espionage) and they chose to develop his usage of sloped armor as well. the russians weren't the only users of Christie style tanks, the British had the Crusader, covenenter, and comet.

Satch
April 30, 2007, 03:47 PM
It's true the Germans had many superior weapons and it's also true that they were overwelmed be the United States ability to produce more than they(the Germans) could imagine. At the battle of the Bulge the advancing Germans were amazed at the amount of ammunition,gas,food,etc.,they overran. Then they also ran into another American weapon they didn't count on,and later complained about to historians,----"those damned Engineers".

skypirate7
April 30, 2007, 10:42 PM
I'm going to look at things from a different angle than most of you...

Small arms and infantry weapons
K98 = 1903
Stg44 > M1 Garand
Mp40 > Thompson
MG 42 > Browning and BAR
Panzerfaust > Bazooka
Potato masher grenade < Pineapple grenade

Air power
Me262 > P51 Mustang
German bombers < American bombers
German long-range rockets such as V2 > nobody else had them

Armor
German tanks > American tanks

Navy
German surface ships < American surface ships
German u-boats > American subs


Generals
German generals > American generals




In my opinion, the Germans were superior to the Americans. However, the Germans were significantly outnumbered. Had it been an equal 1:1 force match-up, the Germans would have won. Instead they were trying to take on millions of Soviets and millions of Americans/British all at the same time. They nearly knocked the British out of the war and they came within sight of Moscow.

The main reason the Allies won was not because of better tactics or better weapons or better soldiers. It was because the allies vastly outnumbered the Germans. Watching movies like Saving Private Ryan will give you the opposite impression. The typical battle wasn't a small band of Americans holding out against an overwhelming number of Germans. It was a small band of Germans holding out against an overwhelming number of Americans. The Germans were the underdogs and they were the ones who had to kill 10 soldiers and tanks for every 1 of their soldiers and tanks killed. Read about Rommel's battles in North Africa and you'll be absolutely shocked. This guy was outnumbered more than 3:1 and yet his offensive was seemingly unstoppable and he went all the way to Egypt before he was finally stopped.

Some people are trying to compare the M1 Garand to the K98 to argue that the American squad was superior to the German squad and that's absurd. You have to look at the squad overall, and that would include the MG42's which the German squad was based on. The Stg 44 is also completely ignored by M1 Garand fans yet it was definitely superior to the M1 Garand. However, it came out too late in the war to make a difference.

Naval power was one aspect where the Allies held a solid advantage. The Germans could only hope for hit-and-run attacks with u-boats.

With regards to armor, the Germans totally had the Americans outclassed. Only the Soviets could really challenge German armor.

The Germans had good defensive air technology, even late in the war. Their Me262 jet fighters shredded Allied bomber formations. But they just didn't have enough of them. The Germans were also very lacking in air offensive power. Late in the war, the only way they could strike out at London was with V2 rockets.

Finally, I think it's important to stress that it was the Soviets who really defeated the Germans. Don't get me wrong, the Americans and British helped a lot... but the German army had its back broken in Russia. Ultimately, it was the Soviets who took Berlin.

Cosmoline
May 1, 2007, 12:50 AM
In keeping with that theme:

Jeep > Horse
American Industry >> German Industry
Millions of PO'd Frontoviks >> Assorted Italians & E. Europe Conscripts
American Artillery > German Artillery

Our fantastic artillery during WWII is frequently overlooked, perhaps because howitzers aren't as sexy as big tanks or rockets. But the fact is our artillery and fire control methods were second to none. We vaporized a LOT of Germans with precise artillery strikes that they had no possible hope of duplicating. Expecting to fight only short blitzkrieg style campaigns hey had relied too much on their airpower and hadn't developed a large enough mechnized artillery support system. Much of it was still horse-drawn even late in the war! They were also mired under old fashioned systems of artillery spotting where only trained, designated and annointed FO's (usually officers) could do it. In our system, folks down to the platoon level could get on the horn and call down the thunder as FO. It was much more democratic. The old Prussian generals would shudder at the notion of some unclean enlisted man with a crude accent ordering the expenditure of so many thousands of marks worth of shells.

Even the mighty Tiger tank stood zero chance against our un-sexy artillery. Indeed, one of the reasons our close range weaponry remained somewhat pedestrian is because our military's goal was to "make the other SOB die for his country." So if we could destroy them with well-placed shells we did it, instead of sending GI's in to duel Garand vs. Mauser.

A great first-hand account of workaday American artillery firepower vs. the elite Panzer units is "Enemy North, South, East, West" by Robert Weiss

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0894071238/ref=olp_product_details/104-5987954-5079945?ie=UTF8&seller=

The typical battle wasn't a small band of Americans holding out against an overwhelming number of Germans. It was a small band of Germans holding out against an overwhelming number of Americans.

This is a good point, and generally true (though there were exceptions).

Ultimately, it was the Soviets who took Berlin.

Not to get too far off on a side issue, or to downplay Ivan's role, but we were held back at the Elbe and were never given a chance to attack Berlin. How much of that was political and how much military is often disputed, but there's no denying Stalin had long claimed Berlin by right, and would not have been happy to see the Third Army joining in the last weeks of the campaign.

balletto
May 1, 2007, 10:00 AM
re: air power
The fact that the Germans had the Me262 and the FW190 (both excellent planes) is irrelevant, as they had neither the fuel, nor trained pilots to fly them. German industry produced aircraft in quantities sufficient to partially challenge the allies in the air superiority battle, well into 1945, but the lack of pilots and fuel was crippling. The crippling of German fuel production and transportation of the same is probably the biggest result of the Allied strategic bombing campaign.

re: the battle for the Atlantic
The battle against the German submarines was won by a combination of:
1. radio direction finding detecting subs and routing hunter-killer groups to sink them, the result of German subs foolishly following orders to report back to base too frequently
2. the introduction of both long range patrol aircraft, and escort carriers, to provide air support for convoys
3. accurate and timely codebreaking to determine German naval intentions
4. the production and training of vast numbers of escort ships and groups to provide protection to the trans-Atlantic convoys-a notable and unheralded contribution by both the Americans and Canadians
5. American industry producing massive quantities of shipping and war material

Sorry I can't provide citations for all of the above, just trust me. :D

cbsbyte
May 1, 2007, 12:04 PM
Panzerfaust > Bazooka

That is not a good comparison since they are two different designed weapons. The better comparison is between a Bazooka, and a Panzerschreck, which are similar in design and operation. The Panzershreck was based on captured Bazookas, but bored up to a 88mm.

Other than that I agree with what you wrote.

Jeep > Horse

The Germans did rely heavily on horses throughout the war, they also had very capable vehicles similar to the Jeep. The Germans manufactured the Kübelwagen, and the water fording Schwimmwagen throughout the entire war. They where very cheap to build and maintain similar to a jeep.

pete f
May 1, 2007, 02:09 PM
The simple fact that both the Germans and the Japanese were able to roll out new weapons and aircraft even to the end of the war shows something about the difficulty in beating a determined opponent.

Germany had many V weapons in development as well as new fighters and bombers and armor that were very advanced at the close of the war. The Germans continued to work on atomic weapons but had many set backs due to Allied intelligence and resistance efforts.

The Norwegians sinking a ferry containing heavy water, British Mosquito attacks on a test lab in the alps. American heavy bomber attacks on machinery factories all had a devastating effect.

In the movies, German Armor squeaks just as much as anyones, Anyone who has spent a few days around tanks and tracks, knows that they all creak and squeak.

If you really want to understand the amount of equipment and effort that America put into the war, read some of the books on the giants of american industry at the time. Henry J Kaiser (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiser_Shipyards) was just one, read his biography and see what we had going here as ways to produce equipment. Understand that in FIVE days that's right FIVE DAYS, the SS Robert S Peary, a Liberty ship, a 440 foot, 13,000 ton ship was built in FIVE days. Look at the people behind North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, from river bank to one of the top production ship yards in the WORLD in less than three years.

A pretty good primer on the Marine building capacity is here...http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/116liberty_victory_ships/116liberty_victory_ships.htm

Consider that Henry and Edsel Ford took aircraft production to incredible levels producing a B-24 every hour at the Willow Run factory. Everyday, 24 new bombers rolled off the line, at just one factory, of just one type.

Understand that the US was fighting two wars, against separate enemies, on fronts spread out over most of the world. We were building ships at a rate many car builders of the day would have found impressive. We took car makers and had them making tanks, airplanes and artillery. We produced enough food to feed two other nations and made sure their armies were fed as well. WE had one mine, (the Hull-Rust mine) that supplied ONE FOURTH of the Iron ore used by the US in WWII, in the process we dug a hole nearly 600 feet deep, a mile wide and 2 miles long.

The Germans built 1400 ME 262's in all variants, but because they were spread out all over germany for safety from production, because skilled pilots were not available, and because slave labor often did a poor job of construction, only about 300 or so reached combat units.

United states fighter production.

P51's 15,875

P47's 15,686.

P38's 10,037

Hellcat's 12,275

wildcat's 7,732

Corsairs 12,571

Airacobra 9,562

superCobra 3,303

P40's 13,738

Total 100,779 fighter aircraft,

This does not count light, medium, and heavy bombers (30,000 alone in B-24's and B-17's) , C 47 and C 46's. Catalina's, and other types.

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