Jump to content
Sturgeon's House
LostCosmonaut

Overrated Allied Weaponry in World War II

Recommended Posts

German LMG tactics weren't overrated, but the MG-42 itself is. People keep forgetting that the MG-34 served for much longer and was still heavily used all the way to 1945 even by the infantry. 

 

There's actually an OSS video from 1943 or 1944 on Youtube which describes German infantry squad tactics. And they correctly noted that the German LMG was very likely to be an MG34 rather than the 42. By contrast pretty much all games and Ambrose-level "documentaries" or "history books" will plug the MG-42.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK. I think I have been pulling out my hair trying to find another "overrated" Allied weapon. If we had an underrated Allied weapon section, we'd be able to go on for 20 pages. Nevertheless, here it is.

 

The Sticky Bomb.

 

As popularized in Saving Private Ryan and various video games, this improvised explosive device packs a punch which allows even the most outgunned paratrooper to bring down T-34Tiger tanks single-handed.

 

SPRStickybomb-2.jpg

 

Most of the time...

 

I'm not certain how many times such a device was ever actually used. But the concept always seems to crop up in movies as a way to provide a David and Goliath style of suspense for the outgunned heroes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK. I think I have been pulling out my hair trying to find another "overrated" Allied weapon. If we had an underrated Allied weapon section, we'd be able to go on for 20 pages. Nevertheless, here it is.

 

The Sticky Bomb.

 

As popularized in Saving Private Ryan and various video games, this improvised explosive device packs a punch which allows even the most outgunned paratrooper to bring down T-34Tiger tanks single-handed.

 

SPRStickybomb-2.jpg

 

Most of the time...

 

I'm not certain how many times such a device was ever actually used. But the concept always seems to crop up in movies as a way to provide a David and Goliath style of suspense for the outgunned heroes.

That scene in the film always turned my stomach.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it's just pure explosives, it's probably unlikely to do much to late war tanks except breaking the tracks or damaging very specific points

 

Anti tank grenades are actually pretty effective, if nothing else due to the spalling effect 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That scene in the film always turned my stomach.  

 

It's usually when death is portrayed in a sort of detached way that gets to me. I feel more sorry for random unknown soldier getting gunned down or exploded than close-ups of the main hollywood actors dramatically being taken down. I was reminded of this when I watched John Wick last night. I actually started feeling a little bad for the mobsters since they were mostly being killed in a disable-then-execute fashion, and not with ridiculous, over-acted death twirls like in most movies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Were the tank treads of WWII really that susceptible to light explosives? If so it seems like a light weapon (say, an M2HB) with enough hits at the right spot would immobilize a tank... or rather limit it to moving in circles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Panthers had problems with soviet anti-tank rifles, while being 45 tons heavy tanks. "Lower" Panzers would also had problem with 14.5/12.7 mm rifles and HMG, manuals advised to soldiers to shot optics, gunner sight, observation devices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Were the tank treads of WWII really that susceptible to light explosives? If so it seems like a light weapon (say, an M2HB) with enough hits at the right spot would immobilize a tank... or rather limit it to moving in circles.

 

Depends on the model. It could be simple as fracturing a securing link or compromising a length of track enough that it could break or fall out of alignment under enough stress.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Were the tank treads of WWII really that susceptible to light explosives? If so it seems like a light weapon (say, an M2HB) with enough hits at the right spot would immobilize a tank... or rather limit it to moving in circles.

 

Tank tracks are pretty tough, actually.  On a typical military off-road track layer, the tracks are about 10% of the mass of the total vehicle, so there's actually quite a bit of steel there.  The_Chieftain did an article on tests of wedging crap into the tracks of a very light interwar tank.  The tank basically didn't notice it.

 

IIRC there was a British study on what sort of firepower it took to knock the tracks off a tank, and I believe the conclusion was that a 75mm round was necessary to reliably break the track of a tiger.  Lighter guns would suffice for lighter vehicles.

 

There are a number of stories of abramses rolling over anti-personnel mines in Desert Storm and not even all the crew members were sure what had happened.  The tank continued moving; the tracks apparently unhurt.

 

Asymmetric warfare fetishists will often point to the tracks of a tank as some sort of achilles heel that can easily be knocked out, thus immobilizing the great beasts.  Oh the folly of technologists who think that sophisticated weapons will prevail against the cunning of the dedicated guerrilla!  As with most other things, they're wrong here.  Tanks are goddamned hard to stop.

 

That said, wire entanglement is apparently effective at temporarily immobilizing tanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've made them before. They tend to be more dangerous to the person using them than the target, because some extremely smart and clever ally of authoritarian governments everywhere popularized the method of making them where you stick a gasoline-soaked rag into a bottle, light it, and go. That tends to just put the user at risk of getting set on fire, and it makes him very vulnerable as he's trying to gingerly light a rag that's dripping gasoline everywhere without getting any on himself.

 

The correct way to make a mollie is to get a large bottle - like a wine bottle or an empty handle - and fill it partly with gasoline, then cork it. Wipe it down, and let it sit for like half an hour to get all the gas on the outside to evaporate. Now get some of those loong camping matches that burn for a while, or sparklers, and duct-tape them to the side, with the tips pointing up and sticking up past the neck of the bottle. Then tie a rag around the neck of the bottle (this is your sustainer, essentially; you need something that will catch fire long enough to reach the gas in the bottle, and then keep burning to ignite as much gas as possible). You can soak the rag in something flammable, but you want it dry when you come to throw it. There are a bunch of things that make rags more flammable even after they've dried, and you can use paper, or something else very flammable instead of a rag. Don't use flash paper, it doesn't burn long enough. You can also use a flammable grease or oil and soak the rag in that. In my experience, gasoline is a very poor choice, since it drips everywhere and evaporates.

When it comes to throw it, you simply light the tip of the sparkler/match, and chuck it towards the target. The match/sparkler should ignite the gasoline and rag, and that will set fire to some things. Car upholstery, for example.

As a serious weapon? There are other things you can make that are probably more useful, but if you're going to make Molotovs, you can at least do it correctly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Somewhere over on the WoT HAV forum, somebody posted a historical document from German High Command (or wherever) that was basically "Holy shit guys. The Russians have awesome man portable anti-tank equipment and Molotovs that are better than our shit. Whenever you see it, let your officers know so we can keep it and reissue it to you.

I'm waiting in the Home Despot garden section or else I'd find it myself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is what a proper Molotov looks like:

fItjiWW.jpg

 

Note the large "matches" (in this case, it looks like they may be rolled paper filled with gunpowder), and the big pads of paper attached to the side to help sustain ignition. I've seen Molotovs with the ignition ends pointing either "up" (towards the neck) or "down" (towards the base); I think this probably depends on how you throw it. If you want to chuck it like a potato masher, then you probably want the matches pointing "down", but I usually threw mine from the bottle's center of gravity, so I had them point the other way.

They have even gone the extra mile and sealed the neck with wax, which means you could have these sit around for quite some time, as long as you kept the igniters dry.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tank tracks are pretty tough, actually.  On a typical military off-road track layer, the tracks are about 10% of the mass of the total vehicle, so there's actually quite a bit of steel there.  The_Chieftain did an article on tests of wedging crap into the tracks of a very light interwar tank.  The tank basically didn't notice it.

 

IIRC there was a British study on what sort of firepower it took to knock the tracks off a tank, and I believe the conclusion was that a 75mm round was necessary to reliably break the track of a tiger.  Lighter guns would suffice for lighter vehicles.

 

There are a number of stories of abramses rolling over anti-personnel mines in Desert Storm and not even all the crew members were sure what had happened.  The tank continued moving; the tracks apparently unhurt.

 

Asymmetric warfare fetishists will often point to the tracks of a tank as some sort of achilles heel that can easily be knocked out, thus immobilizing the great beasts.  Oh the folly of technologists who think that sophisticated weapons will prevail against the cunning of the dedicated guerrilla!  As with most other things, they're wrong here.  Tanks are goddamned hard to stop.

 

That said, wire entanglement is apparently effective at temporarily immobilizing tanks.

 

 

Having spent a lot of time looking at pictures of Shermans, I have to say, my impression is, detracking by anything but mines is rare. There are lots of burned out Sherman that had the steel shell showing with all the rubber burned off, but still unbroken. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...