From: Cologne, Germany
I wouldn't say the Sherman is overpowered. Remember you are generally dealing with 76mm armed Shermans, not the earlier 75mm version. The 76mm, with it's weakest round, (APCBC) will penetrate 88mm of armor at 1 kilometer. The Panther doesn't have that level of armor anywhere other than the turret face and gun mantlet. The Sherman with 76mm M1 should be able to penetrate the hull easily from the front at the engagment ranges typical in this game.
The Sherman is overpowered. The Panther's regular AP round could penetrate 111 mm of armor at 1 km, where the special round (with tungsten core) could penetrate 150 mm of armor at the same distance, the production of these special rounds had to be halted in July 1943, due to the lack of sufficient amounts of tungsten, though. The Panther's 75mm gun had more penetration power than the Tiger's 88mm gun.
Regarding the Panther's protection, I don't know if you know the numbers regarding its armor, and you seem to forget to consider the slope modifiers:
The Panther Ausf. G's (March 1944) gun mantlet consisted of 120 mm armor (curved), the turret face had around 100-110mm of armor. The upper front's armor (driver/radio operator compartment) featured 80mm of armor (35°). The lower front (35° as well) had only 60mm armor, but a hit at this part of the tank was unlikely to happen, as it was part of the tub floor.
So, the only parts where a Sherman commander could hope to penetrate the Panther were those plates which were almost vertical (turret face, 80°), but the Sherman's shells then still had to go through 100-110 mm of armor.
The glacis, the driver compartment part, had a slope of 35° !
That said, in a frontal engagement, a Sherman with a 76mm gun (using regular AP rounds) could only hope to penetrate the Panther's armor if engaging at really close range (below 200 yards), aiming at the less curved/sloped parts of the mantlet/turret or at the nose (the small lower part with 60mm armor), although shells actually used to bounce off even the 60mm parts, due to the slope. The slope modifiers reduced the effectiveness of the ACP or ACPBC rounds tremendously.
ORIGINAL: U.S. Army Test No.2
Firing Tests conducted 12-30 July 1944 by 1st U.S. Army in Normandy.
7) 3-inch Gun, M5, mounted on Motor Carriage, M10
a) APC M62, w/BDF M66A1 will not penetrate front glacis slope plate at 200 yards. Will penetrate gun mantlet at 200 yards and penetrate sides and rear of the 'Panther' Tank up to 1500 yards.
b) AP M79 will not penetrate the front slope plate or the mantlet at 200 yards. It holds no advantage over APC M62 ammunition w/BDF M66A1.
The tested 3 inch gun (76mm M5) was mounted on a M10 carriage, so, when looking at this US Army test, you have to consider the fact that the M5 guns basically fired the same shell as the 76mm Shermans, but the M5's rounds had different chambers, providing a somewhat higher velocity.
The British 17-pounder and the US 90mm rounds had 100% more chamber capacity than the M1 shell, thus way higher velocities. Last but not least, the M5 was a pure AT gun, not designed to be employed in Shermans.
The 76 mm M1 employed in the Shermans really had a waaaaay lower performance regarding penetration.
According to the US field test, the M10's M62 shell did not penetrate the Panther's sloped frontal armor (80mm - 35°) at 200 yards (182.88 meters).
The US thought they had a great upgrade for the Sherman (75), but they were really disappointed regarding the 76mm's actual performance in the field, when facing Panther tanks. The british employed a different gun in their Sherman "Firefly" variant (the 17 pounder AT gun i mentioned before, which was the most effective Allied AT gun during the war), which had an actual chance against a Panther. Their loss/kill ratio was better. The US passed when the Brits offered to share these guns.
According to what I've read so far, the US Sherman's usage ratio of AP and HE ammo was 1:4 even until the Korean war, they often avoided to engage heavier enemy battle tanks (like the Panther) as they used to be destroyed before they could score a substantial hit, and they passed the job to the tank destroyer units or Allied heavy battle tanks, while they were focusing on engaging Panzer IV and providing Infantry support.
When a Panther was hit, the Sherman's M1 rounds mostly just bounced off. With Panther Version A, there were rare instances, due to the Panther's gun mantlet design, where rounds bounced off the mantlet deflecting the projectile almost vertically right down into the driver compartment, killing either driver or radio operator. These Panthers were usually still operable as they could still use their guns - engine or ammunition did not blow off, and they could be repaired. Version G's gun mantlet design fixed this.
The 76mm gun's performance was actually rather comparable to the gun of the Panzer IV and the late long-barreled version of the StuG III.
The effectiveness of the new HVAP rounds (July 1944) had been discussed somewhere in this forum i think, it had a somewhat better chance of penetrating the Panther's armor (I found infos stating HVAP T-4 could penetrate up to 120 mm of armor, I tend to think that these tests had been conducted using vertical steel plates - 90°, though), but the vital fact here is that this type of ammo was not available in sufficient numbers, the actual slope modifiers of the Panther reduced its effectiveness anyways, so even with HVAP the glacis could not be cracked at close range. The glacis of a Panther was still largely immune to 76mm HVAP, due to the slope.
Also, the distribution of the low numbers of HVAP was prioritized to US tank destroyer units.
With HVAP rounds, the Sherman 76mm had an actual chance to penetrate a Panther when firing at the less curved parts of the mantlet/turret at close range, as these parts had a slope of 80°, the question is whether the projectile then really got all through the 100-120 mm armor.
The Sherman was badly outclassed by the Panther tank, especially if you consider the Panther's effectiveness at long range (it could penetrate 111 mm at 1000 meters with regular AP rounds), with a clear LOS - a Sherman could rarely get close. SHAEF estimated a loss ratio of 8:1 and even 10:1 (means loosing 8-10 Shermans before 1 Panther could be cracked). Mass production and storming with sheer numbers was the Allied strategy here, as sufficient numbers of heavy tanks were not available (20 Pershings in the European theater?). The few Pershings had been distributed to several units, where each unit received 1 Pershing tank.
The real downside of the Panther was its side and rear armor, both were relatively weak, the turret's side consisted of 45 mm (65°) of armor only, the hull (upper part) 50 mm (60°), the hull (lower part) 40 mm (90°) and the rear had 40 mm armor (60°).
< Message edited by GoodGuy -- 11/29/2008 6:34:50 AM >
General Anthony McAuliffe
December 22nd, 1944
"I've always felt that the AA (Alied Assault engine) had the potential to be [....] big."
8th of August, 2006