Why only infantry were sent in the first wave at Normandy landings?

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by vashstampede, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    We can get to your tank in general, tank gunnery, and weapon vs target expertise later. Remember when you said:

    Still waiting for your explanation of where someone filed off, cut away or shaved off armor from production M-4s converted to DD capability. Exactly what armor, where, was removed by what means? It is your claim . . . now you provide the proof. I am more than willing to be convinced, but I need more than your say so. Oh, and some enthusiast's website won't do the job unless said enthusiast has posted actual period documents outlining the modification, i.e., the enthusiast's say so isn't good enough either. Do wish you would stay on point.
  2. 51highland

    51highland Member

    Also what are "Donald Duck" tanks?
  3. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    This is a photo of DD tank.

    This is a photo of regular M4 Sherman.

    You can tell DD tanks' turret is smaller, it means less armor on the turret. It also has no belly armor in the front. Yes, where the star is on Sherman. That piece of frontal armor is missing on DD tank. Less armor protection from the front.

    Nick name for DD tank.
  4. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Nope, sorry. A matter of visual perspective and your guess, not to mention different versions of the tank. Show some design specifications. I shall remind you that a DD M-4 was a straight from the factory M-4 converted to dual drive for amphibious purposes. What do you suppose that means?
  5. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    I was under the impression that all amphibious tanks are stripped of some armor to weight less in order to safely sail in the water. I could be wrong though. The photos sure look like the DD tank is missing the front panel armor near the belly.

    Do you have a source link for the detailed armor specifications of DD tanks?
  6. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    I don't need them, you do.

    I am, however, a nice man . . . you might find this interesting

    Attention is directed to the third page of the document, a memorandum signed by one LTC E C Orth, Jr., note specifically wording within paragraph 2 (Discussion), subparagraph b (Advantages), item (3) “They will bring a maximum of fire power and armor upon a beach in a minimum period of time, and are capable then of extensive land operations a factor which other amphibious tanks cannot meet.” This would imply no change to the armor. You might also wish to peruse the pages following as they describe the modification. There is no mention of removing any armor from the glacis.
  7. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Here’s a D-Day type website (note that I am scrupulously avoiding citing Wiki) which addresses the DD Sherman. Specs for armor found on the right side of the page are consistent with the production M-4A2 (that type to which the DD conversion was made) as described in the Chief of Ordnance’s Vol. I of the 1944 US Army Catalogue of Standard Ordnance Items, pages 18-24).

    You also may wish, for your own enjoyment, to view the linked clip. Interesting shots of the drive system itself. Of note, however, is in the beginning shots where you can see the extension of the fendering of the floatation system across the front of the tank. Perhaps this is where you acquired your impression of removal of armor from the glacis. The fendering makes the standard glacis recede to the rear in view, thus you are less able to see it and at a casual look appears to be recessed. It was not, of course, it is just that the fendering juts forward.
  8. Jameson

    Jameson History Repeats Itself

    While this is true, it simply wasn't nearly as efficient to land these tanks as would be to bombard from offshore. Logistics, as others have mentioned, are the key here. If you're looking at the US, it was far and above more efficient for us to send troop carriers overseas than to have to produce tanks, outfit shipping methods, transport, and eventually land these machines on shore.

    While looking at it from an effectiveness, accuracy standpoint then sure. Tanks would have been worlds more accurate, but the cost associated and the difficulties in bringing them to the point where they actually have ability to fire (x-bars, shipping, lack of landing craft, production/shipping, etc.) negate that ten-fold.
  9. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    And the bunkers in question were not "on the beach" they were above the beach and had those soldiers and the tanks coming ashore in defilade. Just a little uncomfortable.
  10. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    They are directly above the beach and can directly see and fire on the beach, which also make them directly being exposed to the fire from the beach. The tanks on the beach could directly fire on those bunkers.

    I did look through the record more carefully. Omaha beach was the one beach with almost no tank landed. It could have helped a lot if a lot of tanks were successfully delivered onto the beach ahead of the infantry.
  11. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Vagaries of combat action and weather, not that there were no tanks planned to go ashore. There were, in fact, and since you checked you know this, planned to have the DD tanks ashore 5 minutes before the first wave of infantry. So, back to your very original question . . . why were there no tanks with the infantry? There were, at all the beaches except Omaha, where most of those scheduled to go ashore first (except for the maybe 5 that actually made it) sank. And don't forget, when the tank Bn commanders saw what was happening, they changed gears and put their remaining tanks, including DD types, ashore, yes, at Omaha, directly on the beach from the LCTs. So your question, then, in the face of the facts, is apparently a strawman.

    You’ve made me turn my head from my usual Pacific Theater naval aviation interests and take a serious look at the Normandy Invasion (specifically at your point of complaint, Omaha Beach) and then seriously ponder tank operations (something in both cases I had not done for some 35 years or so, the latter, back then, because, being branched as armor-cav at the time, I had to have a working knowledge, and the former because it seemed a little pertinent to the then educational process.)

    Some of the interesting finds:

    German field works


    Terrain maps
    Omaha Beach east

    Omaha Beach west

    Potential problems for tanks appear such as “AT ditch with some parts flooded average width - 18’” or “Vertical wall across road 12’ to14’ high,” not to mention the rows and rows of various obstacles. On the beach contour composites, the “east b 1944” and “west b 1944” charts . . . on right side, find interesting words like “85’ cliff” and “12’ seawall” providing some idea of the problems facing both the infantry AND tanks; and the time factor, low tide at about 0520 and high at 1100 - a 25 foot tide compressing the beach from about 300 yards wide down to about 75 yards.

    Consider just how much elevation one might be able to crank into an M-4s gun to hit a target at the military crest of an 85 foot cliff, a rated maximum of but 25° (that is the way the specs read, trust me; I can provide an extract from Vol. I of the 1944 US Army Catalogue of Standard Ordnance Items, pages 18-24, if there is any doubt).

    Of course, there is also the mere problem of someone sitting in buttoned-up M-4 even being able to see what was going on 85 feet above . . . tank vision blocks are really quite limiting in their fields of view and they tend to lean towards the horizontal view as opposed to the vertical. I mention this because one must locate one’s target first, before trying to fix it in the gunsight. You should try it sometime.

    No laser sights, just Mark I eyeballs pressed up against a saltwater encrusted binocular sight. Believe me; it is tough to do right on the range taking one’s time and right after bore-sighting the tube - - - under combat conditions; after bouncing around on the water for hours; not being where you expected to be and, therefore, not seeing the targets you expected to see; limited maneuverability due to a plethora of obstacles; and seemingly all by yourself with everyone in the world shooting at you; that would be a whole another ball game.

    This entire collection, from the USN shows the terrain facing invading forces in ominous views. The sharp eyed might even spot some tanks on the beach.


    After probably landing somewhere other than briefed, out of communication with other tank unit elements, on short shale beach and then facing seawalls, bluffs, and cliffs, being fired on all the while from enemy positions higher than one’s optics viewpoint allows, surrounded by confusion, smoke and explosions is not an optimal armor operating environment. Just have to tell you, when I look at a military UTM type map and see all those little wavy brown contour lines running together into a single, long, thick, brown line, I start worrying about having enough rope.

    Rather than pontificate on what should have happened, what should have been done, more reading is prescribed. We were not on the scene; we did not have a vote, so we never had an opportunity to be the driving force behind SHAEF planning. So we don’t get to second guess them now. Further, guessing of the facts from a position of, ummm, less than complete information does not reflect well. If someone were to investigate the subject a little more thoroughly, someone might be drawing completely different conclusions. A lack of practical experience in these things is showing badly.

    You could start here http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/007/7-4-1/index.html 562 pages, actual beach assault starts on page 300, interesting photos re-Omaha start on 310 which point out the major problem with Omaha, those draws up from the beach were the only practical ways off the beach. Nobody ever said the Germans were stupid, those draws and their approaches from the beach were where their defenses fires were concentrated. I recommend saving the PDF version to your hard drive & then reading, otherwise you may not be able to see the graphics.
  12. aghart

    aghart Former Tank Commander Moderator

    The armour on the DD tank is not modified or scaled down/removed in any way. Also that is not a regular M4 in the photo. It is an upgunned version, a US version of the British Firefly Sherman. take away the canvas screen on the DD tank and you have a standard M4.

    DD stands for Duplex Drive
  13. aghart

    aghart Former Tank Commander Moderator

    Picture shows the Sherman DD tank at the Tank Museum, Bovington, England

    Attached Files:

    • DD.jpg
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  14. aghart

    aghart Former Tank Commander Moderator

    Photo's show the special tanks developed for the Normandy landings. The DD sherman is seen without it's "skirt" which shows that it is a fully armoured production tank.
    The Churchill AVRE shows the Petard bunker busting mortar, it also carried a fascine which could be dropped into Anti tank ditches to allow armour to cross.
    The Bobbin rolled out a roadway to allow wheeled vehicles easy access off the beach. The ramp carrier was used a a bridge for armour,drive into the ditch/river , drop front and rear ramps and you have a bridge for the other armoured vehicles to use.
    The crocodile has a flame thrower in the front, fuel for the weapon is located in a towed container behind the vehicle.
    The Sherman crab was used to explode mines creating safe routes through minefields.

    Attached Files:

  15. aghart

    aghart Former Tank Commander Moderator

    Churchill_Crocodile_01.jpg 607px-Armoured_Ramp_Carrier.jpg 605px-AVRE_01.jpg

    Photo's show a Sherman using a Churchill ramp, and a Churchill AVRE (Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers) with a fascine crossing a ditch using a previously dumped facine. A colour photo of a crocodile flamethrower in action
  16. FMAlanbrooke

    FMAlanbrooke New Member

    Look at the suspension of those two Sherman tanks. The DD tank is standard M4 while the second tank is a M4A3E8 ("Easy Eight") with 76 mm gun which I don't think they even had on the Normandy beaches, it was introduced much later. The question should have been phrased "why didn't the US use Tanks on Omaha Beach" and if you look at the terrain perhaps you can see why. The problem was that the only tanks the Americans took from the 79th Armoured Division on that day were the DD tanks and they were released too far out in sea conditions that were too rough for them, and most sank like a stone, taking their crews with them. As a result destroyers had to run in close to the shore and use their guns to silence the German bunkers. Even then it is said that Omaha would have been worse if some of the Rangers destined for point du Hoc hadn't landed on Omaha instead. It's never been explained why the Americans didn't use any of Hobart's "funnies" but I'll bet it was simply because the of international rivalry and prejudice. There were three other beaches used on D-Day - Gold, Juno, and Sword, where lots of tanks were used to great effect and that's a major reason why the British and Canadians suffered comparitively minor casualties and got off the beaches quickly
  17. thedictator

    thedictator New Member

    the reason tanks were not used on such a large scale was because there were only two ways to get them on shore.. 1) by flotation device, which they did, but strong tides and unfavorable weather led to a massive failure. 2) by landing craft...big landing craft, and those were slow and vulnerable to light, medium, and heavy artillery behind the bunkers, so they would have been blown out of the water before they could have been useful. then there were the anti tank traps that would prevent them from getting on the breach on a large scale, or even a small scale landing of tanks.
    cavtrooper likes this.
  18. cavtrooper

    cavtrooper Member

    The tanks,rigged up for amphib operations,were launched too far from the beach,and most of them were swamped,not making it ashore.
  19. cavtrooper

    cavtrooper Member

    "Hundreds" would not have been feasible,due to a lack of beach space,but a battalion of 54,landed intact,or mostly intact,could have made quite a difference.
  20. Normandy

    Normandy New Member

    The weather and beach defences are the two important factors to consider. The conditions were marginal at best for tanks to be deployed as this was an unprotected [from the elements] set of beach heads. Unfortunately the troops were landed in order to open the beaches for conditions favorable for armor deployment en masse. Of course once the mulberries went up the game changed.

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