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Old 01-29-2009, 07:21 PM   #2
Dowly
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Major Lindemann himself. I told him to smile and say 'Matilda'!


Oh, whoever asked me if they worried about sappers, yes they did, at least the designers did, which is why they had pistol ports on the back of the turret as well as the 'S-Mine' launchers. Not the smoke candles, but an anti-personnel device which threw a fragmentation round out about 25 feet for an airburst. Lindemann sasid they had little use for those or the smoke candles and mostly dismounted them or never reloaded them.

Tex0 asked about overheating at 2600 rpm and over, Lindemann said they NEVER had overheating problems, even in the desert. The only overheating problems they had was when the would heat their food containers on the engine, something would come up and they would forget about them until it exploded. He says there is nothing like cleaning beans out of a Tigers engine compartment to make you remember next time..

Silencez, I asked about the periscope mounting in the drum cupola and he said that while the mounting was there, they never used them and he did not even carry the gadget.

Turret rotation in the high speed setting at max engine RPMs was about 60 seconds for a 360 degree turn. Turret motor noise was not something he paid a lot of attention to but it wasn't too loud, at least compared with all the other noise going on while the tank was in operation. While traveling the gun was locked to the turret roof, and the turret was locked with a pin so that it wouldn't rotate. This was done so that the optics wouldn't be jarred out of alignment whil traveling. It could occaisonally lead to some problems if the gunner forgot to unlock the turret before action. Later tanks had an external travel lock in addition. Some locks were mounted on the front of the tank and sometimes they were mounted on the back deck of the tank. Crews prefered the front lock since they could unlock the gun without climbing out of tank..

When I asked about how it felt to get hit, he said go find a two inch steel plate and stick your head up against it while your friend beats on it from the other side with a sledge hammer as hard as he can. That is not quite the same but close... He also said they NEVER went into combat with anything open. They tried to keep the tank closed whenever they were moving just to keep the dust out if nothing else.
He told a story about capturing a Sherman and putting some of his guys in it while they hit it with a 20mm flak vierling. (Tankers are crazy in any era) He said the hulls rang like a church bell when they were hit. When I asked about main guns being knocked out by enemy fire he looked me like I was nuts and said that he had never heard of it happening although he said he supposed it must have been possible... just an incredibly lucky hit.

He ended his time in the Afrika Korps at Cape Bon. When he was ordered to surrender the crew disabled the tank by pouing sand in the fuel tanks and running the engine until it locked up. Then they hammered some rocks in the end of the barrel, loaded up an HE round and fired the gun remotely. He said it looked like a cigar that someone had chewed the end off of. While they were destrying their Tiger, the British artillery was firing into the olive grove where they were and gave him a serious wound in the leg from shrapnel (He walks with a cane these days), The crew was picked up by some 8th Army Brits with a universal carrier and taken to the closest aid station where the were told that the station was full and he would have to be taken elsewhere. When he woke up, he was in the civilian hospital in Constantine (?) The Brits were good guys he said, the Eighth Army were real profesionals and no one harboured grudges.

Since Tigers were a very new machine noone had developed specific tactics to use them at first and they tended to be thrown in piecemeal as they became available in support of other units, especially in Russia. Since they had been kept very secret, their arrival in combat came as a nasty shock but their small numbers and poor deployment caused them to be considerably less of a threat than they might have been.
The first units to recieve Tiger (sPzAbt 501, 502 and 503)were largely left to develope their own tactics based on experience with earlier, lighter panzers. This was naturally a high priority and regular combat reports were required of all commanders.
Four different formations were used in a Tiger platoon.
Linie: (Line abreast), with the Zugfuhrer (platoon leader) at the far right and the Section Leader two vehicles away to his left, was used primarily for assembly of the platoon.
Riehe: (Row), with the Platoon leader at the head of the line and the Section Leader in the third vehicle was used for both assembly and march. For assembly a spacing of 10m was mandated and for march 25m spacing was used.
Doppelriehe: (Double row), which for a platoon was actually a box formation, was used for approaches, when going cross country and in the attack, with the Platoon Leader at the head of the right hand row and the Section Leader at the head of the left hand row. In combat the rows were to be 150m apart and the lines 100m.
Keil: (Wedge), was the most often used attack formationwith the Platoon and Section leaders abreast and 100m apart. The second tank in each section was 100m back and to the outside of their respective leaders the same distance. Leaders turrets faced forward while the seconds would turn to 45deg outward in order to scan the largest area possible. Each vehicle in a four unit wedge was responsible for covering their quarter of the horizon. When the unit actually engaged an enemy the Platoon leader would move to the middle of the wedge and the Section Leader would take lead. This allowed the Platoon Leader to control his platoon most efficiently and use the terrain to his best advantage. I imagine it would also give the Platoon Leader a higher survivability as well, which would allow him to continue to command his unit.
Obviously the Double row and Wedge formations would be very difficult to maintain for long while actually in combat. Something Maj. Lindemann mentioned that I hadn't thought of. Tigers were forbidden to use paved roads. The weight of the tank and the steel cleats on the track would tear the hell out of any road they might drive down. Softskins used the road. Panzers used the shoulder.
If you look at the early Sherman track you will notice that the track is rubber shod just so they COULD use the roads without destroying them. A side note, I was asking about kill markings on the tank, and he said that they were all armour kills, tanks and armoured cars that is. Softskin trucks and things like that didn't count because they couldn't shoot back and you could just run over them anyway.

Hassel asked about bailing;
Maj Lindemann said that he personally had never had to bail from any of the tanks that he was in although they constantly practiced getting out of the panzer.
He did mention a Pz4 that a friend of his had command of, getting hit by a Sherman. The hit was on the side of the turret and penetrated through the turret side hatch, clipped off the commanders hand, killed the loader and exited through the other side hatch without exploding. (dud?) The crew started to bail, but with the tank still pretty much operational, the commander ordered them to stay with the tank and it was back in service 2 days later. I would have thought that it would have hit the gun breech but it evidently missed everything inside except the crew.

Saerdna asked about air attacks;
According to the Major, when vehicles were traveling in convoy you were required to maintain 100 meter intervals. Softskins travelled on the road while the panzers rode the shoulder. If they were attacked by A/C, the panzers would button up and keep moving and the trucks and other vehicles would stop, everyone would jump out and hit the ditches or whatever other cover they could find alongside the road.
A bomb near your tank could ruin your whole day even if it didn't crack the armour. Concussion effects could kill almost as easily as a large hunk of metal flying through the air. He said that the closest he personally got to a bomb was when someone dropped what he thought was a thousand pounder about 25 meters from his Tiger. It didn't do much to the tank but the crew were all bleeding from the ears and more than a little stunned. He said much closer and he probably wouldn't be here.
He mentioned one Tiger losing a track to a 40mm round from a Hurricane fighter-bomber. The driver gunned the tank, which spun it in a circle and just kept it spinning until the Hurri went away, he said it was funny as hell to see. They asked the driver later if he was trying to make his own smoke screen!

TO BE CONTINUED...
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