1. The German army used three types of armored vehicles during the war: tracked, half-tracked and wheeled. Ordinarily only the first type, designated by the term "panzer", was used as a combat vehicle. Half-tracks and armored cars were much less heavily armored and were only lightly armed if at all. Although the German automotive industry, lent itself to the production of all types of military vehicles, as well as to aircraft components and other armaments, production of panzers was usually separate from that of other vehicles. Panzers not only required heavier manufacturing facilities than wheeled or half-tracked carriers but were built for radically different purposes. They are discussed , therefore, as a separate group from motor vehicles and halftracks.
2. Three groups of panzer vehicles were produced and used during the war: tanks, assault guns and self-propelled guns. The tank group included eight types, each of which was produced in a number of models. Five of the eight types were developed before the war. Of these, three were light tanks; the Mark I, Mark II, and the 38 t. This last was a Czech design and was produced only in Czechoslovakia. Two were medium tanks, the Mark III and the Mark IV. The three types developed in the course of the war were heavy tanks; the Panther, Tiger I, and Tiger II.
3. Assault guns, also called tank destroyers, consist of a heavy gun mounted on a standard, but somewhat modified tank chassis. It is therefore essentially a turretless tank with its main gun mounted in the front of a low covered superstructure and with both its hull and superstructure more heavily armored than in the case of the corresponding tank. It is slower and less maneuverable than the tank and has a lower silhouette than either the tank or ordinary self-propelled. The first assault guns, built in 1940, consisted of a 7.5 cm gun mounted on the modified chassis of a Mark III or IV tank. This chassis continued to be used for most of the assault guns produced during the war, although newer and heavier guns were mounted. In the later years of the war, assault guns were also built on the chassis of the 38 t, the Panther and Tiger tanks. These were called variously the Jagd 38, the Jagd Panther and the Jagd Tiger.
4. The third group of panzer vehicles, self-propelled guns, consisted of a standard field, medium, or anti-tank gun mounted on a standard, unmodified tank chassis. Unlike assault guns, they were not specially designed and were not necessarily produced by serial methods in major tank assembly plants. The chassis was usually that of an obsolete tank; most of these vehicles, first produced in 1942, used the unmodified chassis of the light Mark II and 38 t tank, although some in 1944 employed the Mark III or IV chassis.
1. Location. There was no geographical concentration of the plants manufacturing finished tanks. Important works were located in Nurnberg, Kassel, Brunswick, Magdeburg, and Berlin (Exhibit F). There was, however, some geographical concentration of tank component manufacturers, such as engines and gears in Friedrichshafen, hulls, turrets, and guns in the Ruhr, rubber treads in Hanover, and instruments in Berlin. Thus although the assembly plants were well dispersed, certain main components, especially engines, presented a vulnerable target to air attack.
2. Ownership and Control. During this period, all companies with the exception of Alkett (which was under the control of Rhine-Metal Borsig, a subsidiary of the government-controlled Hermann Goering Works) were stock companies with the stock available for purchase by the public and were apparently privately owned concerns. All these companies, with the exception again of Alkett, produced tanks in addition to their normal peacetime manufacture of trucks, locomotives, and other heavy 0equipment. From 1935 onward, the government progressively increased its control over industries engaged in rearmament. By 1938, this control embraced the rationing of essential raw materials, factory inventories, labor hours, rates of pay, working conditions, building and machine tool expansion, plant locations and stock dividends. All companies were forced to join the Economic Board of the tank industry which handled all questions affecting the industry.
3. Expansion. Since the production of tanks started from zero in 1934, and since the production of tanks is for the sole purpose of preparing for war, each step taken towards tank production was an expansion of the industry in anticipation of the possibility that the aggressive policies planned would lead to war. The value of tank output was small compared to the total cost of German war mobilization (even at the beginning of 1942 it only amounted to 3.8 per cent of all armament costs), so that the large companies engaged in production had sufficient space available without expanding the floor area of the plants to any appreciable degree. There was, therefore, no excess production capacity available at this time. Also, except for the accumulation by the government of raw materials, there was no evidence of stock piling of finished components.
4. Production. Tank manufacture was started in the latter part of 1933 and the early part of 1934 with a very light model of 6 1/2 tons. As the industry expanded, the designed weight was increased. There were no subsidies given to the companies for plant machinery and equipment, but the cost of development was borne by the government. There Was, of course, close technical contact between the Army and the manufacturers during the period of design development. The following is a brief history of the five models developed before the war.
a. The orignal model developed by Krupp was named the LAS and later the Model I. It had a gross weight of 6 1/2 tons an was armed only with machineguns.
b. Model II was designed by MAN in 1934. This model had a weight of 9 1/2 tons and was powered by a Maybach 150-HP, liquid cooled, six cylinder inline, gasoline engine. At first fire power consisted of 20-mm machine guns but later this changed to 37-mm cannon plus machine guns. Editor's note: This latter statement is incorrect, the Panzerkampfwagen II was never armed with a 37-mm gun.
c. Daimler-Benz, in 1938, designed the Model III, an 18 to 20-ton tank powered with a 220-HP, liquid cooled, V-12 gasoline engine, and armed with a 37-mm cannon and machine guns.
d. Model IV was another product of Krupp design in 1936. This tank weighed 23 tons and was driven by the HL-120 engine, a 300-HP, V-12, liquid cooled, Maybach product. It was armed with a 75-mm cannon and machine guns.
e. The 38 t was an 11-ton tank of Czech design developed by Skoda.
f. The following table lists the six German plants engaged in tank manufacture in 1939, the model produced, and the date production commenced. At this time also, two companies in Czechoslovakia were turning out tanks of Skoda design.
The Tank Manufacturers in 1939
|Name||Location||Date Production Commenced||Model|
g. The volume of production in the industry before the war and even in 1939 was still comparatively small. Prioor to 1938 only the Mark I and II were produced. Small scale production of the Mark III began in 1938 and of the Mark IV in 1939. Tank output in the last four months of 1939 averaged only 62 units monthly, of which almost 50 were Mark IIIs and the remainder Mark IIs and IVs. The numerical total produced may have been somewhat higher in the years before 1939 - when a large number of Mark Is were being produced - but it appears that German tank production both in the prewar period and in 1939-40 was considerably overestimated by Allied intelligence. German army records indicate that total stocks as of 1 September 1939, including equipment in the hands of front-line troops, amounted to more than 3000 tanks, but of these almost 1,500 Mark Is, production of which was discontinued at about that time. According to General Halder, who was then Chief of Staff, the German army at the time of Munich consisted of barely 21 divisions, of which of which only one or two were panzer divisions. When Germany attacked Poland, the Wehrmacht had three panzer divisions, with some 600 tanks aside, presumably, from those in reserve. [Editor's note: both of these statements are incorrect. At Munich Germany had three panzer divisions, plus 36 regular infantry divisions in addition to several other divisions. Six (or seven if you count the ad-hoc Panzer Division Kempf) panzer divisions participated in the invasion of Poland.] Both the statement of front-line strength and the records of strength accumulated after five years of production offer evidence that the previous weight of production was quite low.
h. The tank industry in common with the German economy as a whole depended on imports from foreign countries for many basic raw materials such as copper, lead, vanadium and other alloys, rubber, etc. However, there was no indication that the production of finished units was ever hurt from the lack of materials, although there were cases of companies manufacturing the same model interchanging parts and materials to avert shortages. The scheduling of shipments of components from subcontractors and the inter-shipment between plants was entirely under the control of the the government. For the most part, components were supplied on a "free issue" basis by the army.
i. The major components of a tank are the hull, turret, guns, motor, transmission, suspension, and tracks. Other components such as controls, electrical system, fuel tanks, optical and other instruments are also required, some of which are standard types. Hulls and turrets were assembled by the steel plants which produced the armor plate. These included some 15 of the largest and best equipped steel producers, among them Krupp, Skoda and Eisenwerke Oberdonau.
j. Motors for panzer vehicles were produced by only three firms: Maybach at Friedrichshafen, Nordbau at Berlin and BMM in Czechoslovakia. The latter produced motors only for the 38 t vehicles. Transmission and steering units were in some cases produced by the larger tank assembly plants, such as Henschel, Krupp and Daimler-Benz, and in other cases by a number of specialized firms. Gear boxes and other parts of transmission
units were ordinarily supplied by firms specializing in these items. Although the number of such firms was generally large, in a few instances one producer accounted for a major part of the production. This was notably the case with gear boxes, which were produced principally by Zahnradfabrik, Friedrichshafen. In the case of suspension and tracks, some of the tank assembly firms produced their own; others were supplied by a fairly large number of subcontractors. Guns were produced by the same firms producing guns for other purposes; as indicated above, many of the guns mounted on panzer vehicles were standard artillery types. Minor components and accessories of panzer vehicles were produced principally by specialized subcontractors.
5. Labor. Because the volume of tank production was small in proportion to German industry as a whole, there were no labor problems. Approximately 3,000 to 4,000 workers were employed in the tank plants with another 6,000 to 10,000 engaged in component and parts manufacture.
6. Modernization of Plants. The German government in 1935 encouraged industry to install new machine tools and equipment by allowing new investments to be written off in one, two, or three year periods. Most firms in a financial position to do so took advantage to this offer, which resulted in the expansion of the machine tool industry and the modernization of many German plants. At the same time, expansion programs required government approval which allowed a certain control by the government over proposed plant locations and the kind of machinery installed.
7. Importance of Tanks in the German War Effort. Judging from the extensive use of tanks in Poland, Belgium and France, the tank industry must have been a most important factor in the German General Staff's plans for an offensive war of great speed and mobility. The volume of tank production before 1940 compared to the production of any or all other countries at that time was very high, though compared to the volume later reached, it was very small.
1. Period of Conquest - Poland to Moscow. The basic strategic conception of a short war requiring only limited mobilization of resources governed panzer production in Germany during the first two years of the war. The succession of quick and comparitively easy victories during this period did nothing to disturb this conception. Production rose continuously during the period, exceeding 100 per month in May 1940 when the attack on France was launched, 200 per month at the end of 1940, and 300 per month just prior to the invasion
of Russia. This rise was apparently the result of relatively limited expansion of plant facilities during 1939 and 1940, and of the increase in the numbers of workers engaged in panzer production. At the beginning of 1940 a start was made on the output of assault guns mounted on the Mark III and IV chassis, but no other new types of panzer vehicles were introduced. [Editor's note: assault guns using the Mark IV chassis weren't introduced until 1944.] Throughout 1940 and 1941 the Mark III tank was the principal type built, accounting for approximately half the total number produced. The remainder were the Mark II and IV tank, the 38 t tanks, and assault guns. A total of approximately 1,600 panzer were produced in 1940 and 3,800 in 1941. The level in production which existed throughout 1941 as thus almost insignificant by comparison with the levels subsequently achieved under the pressure of the changed strategic and tactical conditions of the later years of the war.
a. Battle losses in each of the campaigns prior to the attack on Russia were exceedingly small, and stocks of panzer vehicles mounted almost continously until June 1941. Only 250 tanks were lost during the Polish campaign, so that by 1 January 1940 stocks were again at the level of 1 September 1939. Wastage during the French campaign was only 300 tanks - little more than the number produced in the period of fighting. Losses in Yugoslavia and Greece were approximately 100 tanks. On 1 June 1941 stocks exclusive of the Mark I tank, which was no longer used in combat, amounted until almost 4,500 panzer vehicles, including about 2,000 medium tanks and 400 assault guns mounted on the medium chassis. In the light of experience in the previous campaigns these stocks were expected to be of short duration.
2. Period of Expansion through 1942. During the stages of the war through 1942, the tank industry continued to function much the same as it did prewar. Production exceeded losses at all times with the exception of one month, July 1941, when there was an excess of losses of approximately 5,000 tons equalling about 250 tank, but this deficit was made up in the course of the next two months. Table 2, below, gives production through 1942. Production was increased in 1941 by the conversion of additional facilities in the original six plants to tank manufacture. This conversion consisted primarily in the discontinuance of non-essential peacetime production. However, during this period plans were activated for a tremendous potential increase in production.
a. Henschel & Sohn, Kassel, expanded its tank plant by the construction of nearly 1,000,000 square feet of floor space.
b. In 1941, a government-owned plant for the exclusive manufacture of tanks, the Nibelungen Works, was erected at St. Valentine, Austria. In 1944, this plant became one of the largest producers in the industry.
c. Two additional plants, Vomag at Plauen and Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen (MNH), Hanover, were converted to tank manufacture in 1941.
d. Skoda, Pilsen and Bomisch-Mahrisch Maschinenfabrik (BMM), Prague, were acquired with the occupation of Czechoslovakia.
Total Panzer Production 1940-42
3. The Year of Transition 1942
a. Russian resistance provided the first shock to the army plans for a short war with limited requirements. First came the encounter with the Russian T-34 tank, previously unknown, which proved to be considerably superior to any of the German types. Then came the heavy losses of equipment in the Battle of Moscow and the Russian counteroffensive of December and January. Up to the end of September only 500 panzer vehicles had been lost, but in the next three months almost 2,500 were destroyed or abandoned. By the end of 1941 the German army had lost 3,000 tanks and assault guns, far more than the number produced in the same period. By 1 January 1942 panzer stocks had been reduced to 4,000 vehicles.
b. The result was that on 23 January 1942 the decision was made at Hitler's headquarters to develop and increase the production of new and heavier tanks. A few months earlier, late in 1941, several firms had been asked by the High Command to design a tank which could cope with the Russian T-34. Early in 1942 prototypes of the Henschel-designed Tiger tank received trial runs and with modifications were approved for production. However the Tigers did not begin to come off the Henschel assembly line, even in small numbers, until late that year.
c. Three more assembly plants came into production in 1942: Vomag at Plauen, MNH at Hanover, and the Nibelungenwerke at St. Valentine, Austria. This latter plant was government controlled and by 1944 became one of the largest producers in the industry.
d. In February 1942, Hitler appointed Albert Speer Reichminister of Armaments and War Production, and under his direction the idea of still another heavy tank was conceived in March. Final designs were selected from drawings without prototype testing; tools and materials ordered immediately; series production was started late in 1942,
and the first Panthers were being produced early in 1943 at the rate of moer than 15 per month. Of the three new tank plants completed and brought into production in 1942, none were devoted to the Tiger tank. One became an outstanding producer of Panther tanks, and the other two entered upon the production of Mark IV tanks and assault guns. The latter accounted for a large part of the increase in production of these vehicles which occurred in the following years. Total panzer production for 1942 amounted to 6,174.
e. Along with the initiation of development of heavy tanks early in 1942 came the mountin of a new long-barreled 7.5-cm gun on both the Mark IV tank and the assault gun on the Mark III/IV chassis. More than 200 panzer vehicles with the new gun were delivered in the first part of May for use during the summer offensive in Russia.
f. Meanwhile, losses of panzer vehicles during the summer were running at the rate of about 300 per month. This rate was high as compared with that of earlier years, but it was still lower than the monthly rate of production at the time and yielded a small increase in stocks. The prevailing opinion seems to have been that increased output in 1943, on the basis of plant expansion undertaken in 1942, would permit substantial additions to supply and would satisfy the still limited military requirements.
4. Stalingrad and North Africa 1943: Revision of Production Program
a. The end of the year 1942 marked a turning point both in the war and in the panzer production program. The great defeat at Stalingrad and the landing of Allied forces in North Africa set under way the long series of continuous retreats, broken only by a few minor offensive actions, which finally ended in surrender. The quantities of panzer equipment for current front-line operations and for replacement of losses increased enormously. As the scale of the conflict widened, it automatically increased the proportion of stocks which had to be used in the frontlines rather than held in reserve. The battle of Stalingrad, beginning in November 1942, brought wastage rates to new heights, with a loss of 500 panzer vehicles in that month alone, followed by 200 in December, 700 in January, and 2,200 in February when the encircled forces finally surrendered. The jump in attrition rate is best indicated by a statement of General Thomas, Chief of the Economic and Armament Office of the Wehrmacht High Command until January 1943, that losses in the Russian campaign up to the battle of Stalingrad were the equivalent of equipment for perhaps 50 divisions (of all types) whereas in that one battle equipment for 45 divisions was lost. Stocks of panzer vehicles, which had been built up to a total of almost 6,000 by 1 November, dropped yo 5,000 on 1 March 1943.
b. The 1942 summer campaign in Russia had changed the entire conception of panzer requirements before the Stalingrad debacle; the new viewpoint had dictated an immediate revision in the scale of the panzer production program. Where previously the program of facility expansion undertaken in 1942 had been considered adquate to provide all needed panzer equipment it became apparen that it would fall far short. Although Speer had at times conveyed the impression that production programs formulated by his organization always met requirements as set by the military, the evidence does not bear him out. The record at this time is is one of constantly rising demands by Hitler and of explanations by Speer and Dr. Saur, his chief aide, that the demands could not be immediately or fully met. All indications are that military demand caused continuous upward revisions in programs proposed by the Ministry of Armaments and War Production, but that even the revised programs aimed at goals short of the desires of the military. In short, after the end of 1942 the brake upon panzer production was no longer a modest level of military demand but rather the capacity of the German economy as then organized.
c. The development of the new panzer program in the late 1942 provides one of the best illustrations of the role of the Fuehrer in war production. Hitler had in September 1942 asked for a production goal of 1,400 armored fighting vehicles per month including 800 tanks of which 600 were to be Panthers and 50 Tigers, 300 assault guns and 300 self-propelled guns. He directed that this goal be reached by the spring of 1944 and that special measures be taken to provide the labor and machine tools necessary to assure its achievement. In December at a meeting called by Hitler to consider the formulation, the Chairman of the Main Committee for Panzer Production, Dr. Rohland, presented a report which pointed out the difficulties involved in obtaining enlarged factory space, additional raw materials and machine tools, and other prerequisites of expanded panzer production but Hitler demanded that in spite of the difficulties the panzer production program be carried out "whatever the cost".
d. Despite this insistence by their chief, the "Adolf Hitler Panzer Program" as formulated by Speer and his colleagues aimed at the production of only 1,200 Panzer vehicles per month, and that goal not to be reached until the end of 1944. On 17 January 1943, before the program had been officially approved but when it had already been unofficially announced, Speer and Saur were summoned by Hitler and informed that their program was completely inadequate and must be revised upward. They agreed, but explained that although immediate increases might be achieved in output of assault guns and Mark II and IV tanks, Tiger and Panther output could not possibly be expanded within five months. Dr. Rohland and other officials directly responsible for panzer production considered the new committment - a revised program aimed at 1,500 to 2,100 panzer vehicles by the end of the month - utterly fantastic.
What impressed the experts most was the difficulty of expanding production capacity to the extent necessary; they believed that the program could be effected only at considerable expense to other armaments production.
e. The need for fulfilling the Adolf Hitler Panzer Program was so urgent, however, that the required steps were taken. On 22 January 1943 Hitler issued a decree directing that all necessary measures be taken immediately to increase the production of panzer vehicles "even if by these measures other important branches of the armament industry are adversely affected for a time." Specifically, the decree authorized the Reichsminister for Armaments and War Production to provide plants producing panzer vehicles and their components with abundant supplies of technicians, raw materials, machinery and electric power, and for this purpose to draw upon the capacities of other was production industries. The decree also prohibited the drafting of men from the panzer industry and cancelled all drafts made after December 1942.
f. The enormous increases in production which resulted from this program will be treated later in some detail. Nevertheless, production failed to satisfy the mounting demands. Military leaders knew that panzer production after 1942 was deficient both in numbers and in quality. The prodigious advance planned for German production in 1944 - even if fully realized - would have left German panzer output at less than half the estimated Allied level. Estimates prepared for the Wehrmacht High Command indicated that in 1942 and 1943 Allied production of armored fighting vehicles was more than five times as high as Germany's; Russian production alone was three times that of Germany in 1942, twice as high in 1943. The comparative output figures for 1943, as compiled by the Germans, showed a total of 68,000 for the Allies (US, British Empire, Soviet Union) against 12,000 for Germany.
g. German army leaders, as for example General Thomas, have said that the effects of panzer shortages in 1943 were not more serious in the field only because the troops in the west were not in action and so could absorb mcuh of the deficiency. When reductions in output were later brought about by bombing, the strength of the front forces was considerably weakened.
h. Table 3 gives the 1943 tank production by model and by producer. The only air attack on the tank industry that caused any serious interference with output was the one in October 1943 on the Alkett plant, Berlin. This raid reduced the year's production by some 300 to 400 tanks (about four percent).
i. Between the beginning of 1942 and the end of 1943 the value of the output of the tank industry (in relation to the whole armament
program) more than doubled. Table 4 gives the value proportions of the principal branches of the armament program as determined by Dr. Rolf Wagenfuehr, statistician of the Speer Ministry.
1943 Panzer Production by Model and Producer
|Model||Producer||Units Produced||Percent of Total Tank Production|
|Mark I and II||MAN||77||.8|
|Mark III and IV||Krupp||785||8.3|
|Mark V Panther||MAN||525||5.5|
|Mark VI Tiger||Henschel||647||6.9|
|Mark 38 t||BMM and Skoda||87||1.0|
* Breakdown to producer unavailable11
Proportions of the Principal Branches of the Total Value of Armament Production
Percentage of Total Value
j. During 1943 bottlenecks appeared in the supply of finished components. As strategic bombing up to this time had had little or no effect on production, it is probable that the spreading out of the component product section of the industry during this period was primarily for the purpose of increasing production and not as a means of protecting the output of finished tanks. The most notable example of this is the starting up of Maybach engines at the Siegmar plant of Auto-Union. However, the potential capacity of this new source of engines was such as to make it evident that the Germans had not overlooked the possibility of bombing crippling the then existing engine output. Naturally, bottlenecks offer a highly vulnerable target to precision bombing so tha the expansion of component manufacturing automatically reduced the vulnerability of the section of the industry.
k. The light Mark II and 38 t tanks went out of production during 1943 although their chassis were for some time thereafter used as mounts for a variety of self-propelled guns. Production of the Mark III medium tank was also discontinued in favor of assault guns on the same chassis. The Mark IV chassis was produced during 1943 in greatly increased numbers for use both as a tank and an assault gun, but principally as an assault gun in 1944. Heavy tanks also increase particularly in the case of the Panther.
Because of the heavy raids on Alkett during October-November 1943, tank assembly moved to Falkensee and hull machining to Spandau. It is probable this was done more because of the location of Alkett in
Berlin and because plant space at Falkensee was not being used, rather than because the plant was damaged beyond repair. No attempt was made to disperse other assembly plants even though damage in some cased was severe. Tank assembly plants are difficult to move due to the special type of structures required and due to the heavy machinery employed and the special forges and heat-treatment facilities required. The production of a model, Tiger excepted, in several plants acted as a substitute for dispersal insamuch as when bombing interrupted production at a plant, materials and parts were shifted to the other plants producing the same model thereby increasing the production at the undamaged plant. This was possible only because assembly facilities were not being used to their maximum capacity.
b. The expansion of the finished components plants, on the other hand, resulted in a very effective and very necessary dispersal program. Siegmar, by increasing engine output after Maybach had been put out of production by bombing in April 1944, nullified the bombing effort against Maybach, and by the time the engine plant at Siegmar had been destroyed in September, Maybach had completely recovered so that finished tanks were not held up by lack of engines. The bombing of Zahradfabrik was a repetition of the above as the plants set up for increased production were able to absorb the loss of the Zahradfabrik output.
6. Air Raid Shelters
During the early stages of the war, air raid shelters were mostly make-shift affairs installed in basements of buildings. The ceilings and walls were reinforced with timber bracing and gas proof doors were installed. Slit trenches were dug but were confined to the most part within the areas of workers barracks.
7. Camouflage In general, tank plants depended upon a camouflage plant scheme to buildings as a means of reducing the visibility of the plants. In some cases, extreme measures were employed to conceal distinguishing land marks near the works by the use of netting and simulated trees.
1. Planned Production
a. Germany. By 1 January 1944 the German army had crystallized its ideas on panzer design with the result that the Geman tank producing plants were scheduled for rapid expansion of production of three types of tanks, the Mark IV, the Panther, and the Tiger, three types of assault guns built on the chassis as these tanks, an assault gun built on a Mark III chassis, and a decreasing number of
self-propelled guns. Production of the Mark I, II and III tanks as well as many miscellaneous types had been abandoned. Production was scheduled to reach a temporary peak of 1,842 in July 1944, decline the next several months and reach a final peak of 1,958 in December 1944. This would represent an increase of 83 percent over January's production.
b. Czechoslovakia. The major expansion in panzer production after July 1944 was to be in the two Czech plants of Bohmisch-Mahrisch Maschinenfabrik and Skoda. These plants were to build up production of the Jagd 38, an assault gun based on the old Czech 38 t.
2. Actual Production
a. Tank production during 1944 is shown in Table 5. While tables on panzer production include self-propelled guns, the producers are not known and very often the production process consisted of mounting a gun on an obsolete chassis at a tank depot rather than a factory.
1944 Panzer Production
(Tanks, Assault Guns and Self-propelled Guns)
|1st half||2nd half||Total|
|Mark I & II||7||0||7|
b. Although during the first six months of 1944 there were very few direct interruptions to panzer production due to bombing, the period cannot be taken as an average period due to the build-up of the expansion program previously mentioned. Production in Germany increased monthly from 1,286 in January to 1,657 in June.
3. Military Necessity.
The invasion of Normandy in June 1944,
coupled with the Russian offensive in the east, marked the beginning of the final stage of the war. In five months after D-Day, 10,000 panzer vehicles were destroyed in battle or abandoned in retreats, largely in France and across Poland. Losses prior to June, although high, had been exceeded by production which in the first five months aggregated 7,300 units, so that the total number in the hands of the army had increased from 11,000 on 1 January to 14,000 on 1 June. Thereafter, despite further increase in production, the total stock of panzer vehicles declined to 12,000 by 1 November. This decline occured precisely at the time when more equipment than ever was needed in the front lines.
The tank industry was not hit as a target system until August 1944. Before this time, Alkett, in an area raid in November 1943, had been the only plant heavily damaged by air attack, but by June 1944 it had fully recuperated through setting up a new plant in Falkensee. In August, September, and October, most of the big tank factories were heavily attacked. Of five plants surveyed, destruction and structural damage during these three months amounted to 64 percent of the total plant areas.
5. Production Lost as a Result of Bombing.
a. by mid-1944 German panzer production, with practically no hindrance by direct air attack had level off with June output at 1,657 and July 1,669. However, certain plants were thereafter scheduled to increase output, and except for the 38 t assault gun, for the industry scheduled gains were representative of what production would have been the remainder of the year in the absence of bombing.
b. By subtracting actual production for the period August through December 1944 from estimated potential production for the same period, it may be calculated that the attack on panzer production cost the enemy 2,250 tanks, assault guns and self-propelled guns. After December the combined effects of bombing and loss of territory reduced panzer output further, but the amount attributable to bombing alone is a figure that cannot be isolated.
6. Attacks Causing Production Loss.
Although only five of the 12 German tank plants were surveyed and the damage effected by bombing assessed, these five, in general, were the plants which were the target for repeated air attacks and, thus, they were probably the plants which suffered the most damage and production loss. The following table correlates monthly losses which attacks on specific plants, and in the case of the five plants mentioned above, with damage to floor area.
Correlation with Production Loss with Attacks - August 1944 Thru March 1945
|Month||Plant||Tank Model||Floor Area Made Unusuable||% of Plant's Total Floor Space|
|August||Krupp||IV||423,031 sq ft||42.2|
|Miag||III||128,658 sq ft||14.0|
|September||Henschel||Tiger||1,321,000 sq ft||48.0|
|MAN||Panther||541,372 sq ft||23.6|
|Krupp||IV||75,555 sq ft||7.5|
|October||Henschel||Tiger||1,231,200 sq ft||45.3|
|MAN||Panther||853,225 sq ft||37.0|
|Krupp||IV||108,800 sq ft||10.9|
|Miag||III||44,335 sq ft||4.8|
|December||Henschel||Tiger||60,000 sq ft||0.2|
|January||Henschel||Tiger||942,300 sq ft||34.4|
|MAN||Panther||338,410 sq ft||14.7|
|Krupp||IV||46,341 sq ft||4.6|
|February||MAN||Panther||60,115 sq ft||2.6|
|Krupp||IV||66,259 sq ft||6.6|
|March||Henschel||Tiger||246,450 sq ft||9.0|
|Miag||III||4,379 sq ft||0.5|
|Vomag||IV||156,433 sq ft||3.6|
|6,647,863 sq ft|
It will be seen from the above table that damage to Henschel, the sole Tiger producer, and MAN, the largest Panther producer, amounted to 5,594,102 square feet, or 84 percent of total surveyed floor damage in the tank industry.
Loss of workmen killed by air attacks on the plants had little effect on production. Based on the casualty figures of five plants with a total 1944 employment of 45,332, one percent (464) were killed. As the plants on which this percentage is based were the most
heavily hit it is probable that the percentage killed over the entire industry would run even less.
8. Dispersal as a Recuperation Factor.
At the five plants surveyed, only one, Vomag, started dispersal of manufacturing facilities before bomb damage made such a step necessary. At that plant 50 percent of the machine tools used in the manufacutre of small parts were dispersed during the summer of 1944. The efficiency of the program could not be determined as the plant was not damaged until March and April 1945. The remaining four plans attempted dispersal only when it became necessary becaus of damage to the plants. Only the facilities for the manufacture of small parts such as steering gears were dispersed. As the dispersal program in itself was of a very limited nature, its value as a recuperation factor was also limited but, within its small scope, the program was a success.
a. Early in 1944, orders were issued for the construction of baffle walls throughout all war plants for the protection of important machine tools, assembly lines, transformer stations and sub-stations, and other critical facilities. Only a limited amount of this work was completed, however, because of the inability of the plants to obtain the power distribution panels and special, hard to replace machines were finally protected.
b. During the first half of 1944, air raid shelters at practically all plants were made more secure and enlarged to shelter foreign workers as well as the German workers. In many case new shelters were provided either by the construction of massive concrete bunkers, by digging new tunnels in nearby hillsides or by altering existing tunnels. The original bunkers consisting of reinforced basement shelters were, for the most part, abandoned as it was found the older types would not stand up under heavy bombing. Undoubtedly many of the worker's lives were saved as a result of this program.
10. Training of Labor.
The training of labor was evidently left to each plant. The extensive prewar apprentice school boy system was practically abandoned during the war. Taking its place was the major task of quickly training the foreign civilian workers and prisoners. These workers amounted to 50 percent of the total labor force in 1944. Of the foreign workers, on the average only 10 percent to 20 percent could be classed as having previously acquired skill for the work they were called upon later to perform. Apparently the government had evolved no uniform or general plan for training either the German or foreign shop personnel. No school system was employed and all training was actually done in the shops themselves.
11. Adequacy of Supplies.
Tank factory inventories of raw materials averaged three to four months requirements during the entire war until about October 1944. There were shortages of particular and varying items from time to time but these shortages were not of such a nature as to affect montly production to any degree. The supply of components was generally sufficient to maintain the plants's schedules. It is probable the planned production of finished tanks was determined by the capabilities of the component manufacturers. There were cases, however, late in 1944 where planned increase in finished tank production at particular production plants as at MNH were not realized because of the inability of the component plants to increase output, and because of the difficulties arising at this time in transportating supplies.
The composition of the labor force in the tank industry followed the same lines as other important German industries with 50 percent of the workers made up of foreign labor and prisoners of war. At the five plants surveyed representing 41 percent of the total tank output, there was an average of 45,332 employees in 1944. Assuming the remainder of the industry to be in proportion, an approximate total labor force of 110,000 was employed in the assembly plants. The size of the labor force remained substantially the same during 1943 and 1944, although production nearly doubled, due probably to the fact that the workers had become familiar with the models being produced and therefore were more efficient. There was no evidence of production having been hindered by a shortage of labor.
13. Changes in Productive Facilities.
There was neither plant abandonement nor new construction in 1944 in the tank plants. Three new plants , however, did get into production, Demag and Deutsche Eisenwerke, in the first months of 1944 and MBA in the last of 1944; but in very small volume. Actual production figures are not available for these plants, but the planned production for December was 163 Mark III tanks for Deutsche Eisenwerke, 30 Panthers for Demag and 10 Panthers for MBA.
a. The Speer Ministry in June 1943 established a system of priority order numbers which goverened the procurement of raw material by the German factories. All orders for production were given numbers, depending on their importance, which placed them in one of five priority groups. Practically all orders for important army production, including tanks, received numbers within Group I, which was the top priority group.
b. A new system was decreed in July 1944 which differed from the old one, chiefly in that two new priority groups had been added, at
the top "Z" and "O". Such items as V-weapons, gasoline, jet planes, and development work fell in these groups. Tanks continued to be in Priority Group I.
c. In January 1945, a so-called "Critical Program" was issued. Under this program 13 types of armaments, mostly infantry weapons, were to have priority over all other production. Tanks were not only included in this list, but were moved to almost the top priority position. Orders for the most important tank models, for example the Panther, were assigned "Z" priority numbers and the others received "O" priority numbers.
a. It was not until the late summer and fall of 1944 that plants became the target for a concentrated strategic bombing effort. Damage to plants before then was principally caused by area raids on the cities in which the plants were located and had little effect on production. The motivating reason for the change in policy at that time was undoubtedly the desire to interrupt the flow of tanks to the Western Front to replace the battle losses inflicted by our offensive actions.
b. On the whole the concentrated bombing attack on tank plants was not a success. Of the five plants surveyed, only Henschel at Kassel had a major interruption to production. During the last five months of 1944 the period in which production loss can be attributed directly to plant attacks, the total industry had a production loss of about one-fifth of potential. Losses in 1945 were far heavier but were due to as much indirect causes as to the bombing of the tank plants. This raises the question of whether tank plants were so immune to bombing that they did not warrant the expenditure of the necessary weight of attack that would have been required to knock out the industry.2. Importance of Bombing Component Plants
a. From time to time during the combined bombing offensive, the greatest importance was attached to the bombing of bottlenecksm such as the offensive against the ball bearing industry. Up to the end of 1943 several bottlenecks appeared in the tank industry, the main ones being tank engines at the Maybach plant and transmission gears at Zahnradfabrik, the destruction of either of which would have had serious results.
b. As has already been stated, the expansion of the component supply resulted in a very effective dispersal program so that when in April and May 1944 destructive attacks were made on two of the once existing bottlenecks, Maybach and Zahnradfabrik, the bottlenecks had already been done away with and the resulting loss in finished tank production was small. In the case of Maybach engines, if both Maybach and its dispersal plant, Siegmar, had been destroyed at the same time instead of five months apart as actually happened, there would have been approximately five months loss in the production of Panther and Tiger tanks. Undoubtedly, the failure to bomb Siegmar was due more to the fact that intelligence did not correctly assess Siegmar with the production of Maybach engines than to poor target selection. In general, however, the component plants cannot be considered good targets as they were too widely scattered; the same parts were manufactured in too many plants, and intelligence on the various locations was too limited.
3. Attacks on the Industry.
The tank plans were subjected to 40 raids in which the plants were the aiming point for the attacks. During these raids, 10,677 tons of HE and 3,667 tons of IB were dropped. In addition, nine plants were hit by attacks aimed at the cities in which the plants were located. At several of the plants, and Alkett, Berlin, in particular, damage from area raids was more serious than that caused by the plant raids. Approximately 40 area raids in which 24,224 tons of HE and 15,644 tons of IB were dropped caused some damage to tank plants. Exhibit C shows the amount of floor space made unusuable by all raids on the five plants surveyed, with the resulting production losses, and Exhibit B is a tabulation of the attack data of all raids affecting the plants.
4. Effects of Attacks.
Henschel & Sohn, Kassel, was the only tank plant where tank production was seriously affected by air attacks. Over a 15-day period, 95 percent of the floor area was made unusable with a resulting production loss of 70 percent over a period of three months. This amount of damage at a motor vehicle plant would probably have caused complete stoppage of work for a period of at least six months. Only 35 percent and 15 percent loss in production over a three month period resulted to MAN and Krupp, respectively, where raids over a 40 day period caused 59 percent to become unusuable. Comparing this to Daimler-Benz, a motor vehicle plant, 60 percent floor space damage caused a 75 percent loss of production over a three month period. From the above it appears evident that tank assembly plants are able to absorb building damage to a much greater extent than motor vehicle plants.
5. The Importance of the Combined Use of HE and IB.
There were several cases where HE bombing was immediately followed by incendiary bombing before debris resulting from HE bombing had been cleared
away. This resulted in damage to machine tools and losses in production which exceeded the normal expectancy for the amount of building damage. These cases occured in factory structures with wood roof wherein HE blast caused collapse of the combustible roof construction, thereby greatly increasing the vulnerability of machines, wiring, and material to incendiary bombs. A high percentage of roofs in German plants were wood, even in the latest modern buildings. However, at the Henschel tank and truck plant in Kassel all combustible materials not required in manufacturing was removed from the plan and the dropping of incendiary bombs after the high explosives did little or no damage.
6. Machine Tool Damage.
a. A survey of machine tool damage at five tank plants gave no definite conclusion as to the most effective method of knocking out machine tools. From the plants investigated, it was shown that no fixed relationship existed between total building damage and damage to machine tools.
b. At the Henschel plant in Kassel, it was the opinion of the managing director that out of 11 raids on the plant, the attack in which a large number of 100-lb fragmentation bombs were dropped caused the largest amount of machine tool damage.
7. Indirect Effects of Bombing.
The disruption of transportation facilities from October 1944 to the end of the war was the most indirect effect of bombing most successful in curtailing production. Plant officials were unanimous in declaring that operations at dispersed plants were practically impossible and operations at main plants were greatly hindered by transportation difficulties during this period. This is the chief reason for the final decline in tank productin in the first months of 1945.
On the whole, recuperation at tank plants was very successful and was carried out with a minimum of repairs. In at least one instance, individual shelters were erected over machines exposed to the elements by the destruction of the roof, with the rest of the working space remaining open. For the most part, efforts to return to production were concentrated in the main plants with dispersal playing only a minor role.
Panzer Production (Actual) (Speer Document #7)*
(Tanks, Assault Guns and Self-Propelled Guns)
|Mark I and II||9||233||306||77||7||7|
|Tank Destroyer IV||1,764||50||60||91||118||93||160||155||168||171||207||208||283||235||169||54|
|Assault Gun III/IV||184||550||828||3,319||5,884||331||373||446||485||556||585||562||412||541||509||543||541||508||231||322|
|Total German Panzers||1,368||3,108||5,979||11,874||17,504||1,243||1,320||1,487||1,542||1,649||1,627||1,597||1,436||1,408||1,306||1,383||1,506||1,332||822||642|
|Jagd 38 t||1,598||66||70||83||180||158||306||387||348||434||401||301|
* Various German sources were drawn upon for this breakdown by models and by months, with the result that slight discrepancies and somewhat classifications are found in this composite total tabulation
No. and Weight of Attacks on Tank Plants
|Plant||Raids||Date of Raids||HE||IB||Total|
|22 Sep 44||806.0||793.0|
|27 Sep 44||533.0||171.0|
|28 Sep 44||486.5||213.7|
|2 Oct 44||796.5||573.8|
|7 Oct 44||285.0||140.0|
|15 Dec 44||749.0||149.0|
|9 Mar 45||56.4||126.2|
|22/23 Oct 43||924.9||1117.6|
|30 Dec 44||1475.0||72.5|
|1 Jan 45|
|21 Jan 45||87.5||1.5|
|10 Sep 44||219.5||109.75|
|3 Oct 44||747.5||382.0|
|28/29 Aug 42||151.0||104.0|
|8/9 Mar 43||365.0||437.0|
|16/17 Mar 43||1090.0||1376.0|
|27/28 Aug 43||952.0||872.0|
|19 Oct 44||392.0||614.0|
|3 Jan 45||1464.0||691.0|
|20 Feb 45||1339.0||253.0|
|21 Feb 45||1028.5||981.5|
|5 Aug 44||202.5|
|11 Sep 44||105.7||36.4|
|7 Oct 44||181.0|
|16 Jan 45||187.5||2.5|
|2 Mar 45||543.8||30.0|
|21 Jan 44||1016.0||1223.7|
|21/22 Jan 44||1066.6||1206.1|
|29 Jun 44||120.5||105.7|
|28 Sep 44||657.8||373.8|
|6 Feb 45||947.5||1.8|
|14 Feb 45||583.0||221.6|
|15 Feb 45||878.7||1.4|
|5 Aug 44||195.9||261.8|
|3 Mar 45||114.5||79.2|
|20 Feb 44||213.8|
|15 Mar 44||183.0||566.0|
|29 Mar 44||92.5||299.2|
|8 Apr 44||400.3||75.4|
|12/13 Aug 44||934.3||492.3|
|14/15 Oct 44||182.5||817.2|
|14 Mar 45||181.0||71.5|
|28 Mar 45||117.0||58.3|
|25/26 Apr 42||13.0|
|4/5 May 42||10.7|
|13/14 May 42||519.8||7.0|
|16 Oct 44||110.5|
|20 Oct 44||2.5|
|23 Oct 44||201.0||106.0|
|9 Dec 44||44.25|
|16 Dec 44||206.75|
|20 Dec 44||124.5|
|25 Apr 45||407.0||116.0|
|22/23 Jun 43||845.8||877.7|
|14 Oct 44||4.75|
|1/2 Nov 44||6.0|
|8 Dec 44||932.5|
|11 Dec 44||104.7|
|18 Dec 44||1434.2||378.2|
|22 Feb 45||3.0|
|22 Mar 45||119.9||61.8|
|25 Mar 45||377.5|
|14 Feb 45||103.5||49.0|
|16 Oct 44||143.3|
|17 Feb 45||11.5|
|20 Mar 45||18.0|
|23 Mar 45||258.3|
|17 Mar 45||361.0|
|21 Mar 45||308.0|
|26 Mar 45||351.7|
|26 Mar 45(?)||299.5||114.0|
|12 Sep 44||47.5|
|19 Mar 45||1038.5|
|8 Apr 45||208.7||46.0|
|6 Oct 44||176.0||46.0||222.0|
|26 Nov 43||791.1||632.7|
|20/31 Jan 44||1085.6||868.4|
|1/2 Feb 44||9.4||.2|
|21 Jun 44||44.5||31.8|
|6 Aug 44||179.5||47.5|
|23/24 Aug 44||945.6||826.5|
Correlation of Attacks on 5 Plants with Floor Area Destroyed or Heavily Damaged in Sq Ft
February 1944 - April 1945
|Henschel||MAN||Krupp||Miag||Vomag||Total Raids||Floor Area|
|Day||Floor Area||Day||Floor Area||Day||Floor Area||Day||Floor Area||Day||Floor Area|
Monthly Weight of Attacks on Tank Plants
|Plant Raids||Area Raids|
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Return to The Sinews of War.