Tiger VS Sherman Solved Once And For All

I saw this issue been discussed on several forums online but with little perfection, so let us analyze and find a solution once and for all. OK let’s get started, when it comes to any match up or show down one must know the details on both the sides. So let’s first look into both the tanks before we match them up. Let’s look some detailed and important facts and information rather than common stats and numbers that can be found everywhere.

A brief look into Sherman tanks:

When talking about Shermans we can’t forget that they won the day for the western allies after D-day landings. But what are the real facts and details of these famous tanks?

What made Shermans so powerful?

Shermans were simple but highly reliable tank in terms of manufacturing and repairing furthermore they were easy to use. For instance, they could move comfortably on most surfaces where Tigers will either fail or require special attention like building special bridges and so on. Moreover Shermans are highly simplified tanking solution when compared to most other World War 2 tanks (expect T-34s). And they are far easy to mass produce compared to any German ww2 tank. In fact they shared some spare parts with cars including engines from Ford cars. This interchangeability of parts and a massive automobile industry behind it was a great plus for Shermans. This was not all about the greatness and versatility of Shermans they could perform different tasks in their various versions. Take for an example, they can spray fire (flames), clear mines and even lay bridges in different versions. And above all they had the massive American Automobile industry and economy behind. But once on the battlefield, Sherman’s light weight and simplicity proved fatal.

Serious drawbacks in Sherman:

As we had already seen ‘Shermans’ were much simpler tanks focused primarily on quantity (mass production) and not the Quality (crew comfort or protection). The armor was so light which provided a high speed but little protection, as a result it was easily destroyed by enemy fire. Little importance was given to crew comfort and protection. Furthermore the gasoline engine which powered it was highly inflammable and burned badly upon impact, earning it the nickname “Tommy-cooker“. To make things worse Sherman needs to get in 100 meters range to take down any German heavy tanks, while most German tanks(either Panther or Tiger) was capable of taking down a Sherman at a staggering 1000 or in the case of tiger more than 2000 meters.

A short sight on Tigers:

To say in one word, Tiger Tanks were the best and by far the most powerful tank of ww2. They were far advanced and much more deadly to anything that stood in their way.

What made Tigers such so strong?

The German doctrine for tanks during ww2 was “Quality over Quantity” where else the allies believed “Quantity has its own Quality“. Thus German tanks were far superior in quality compared to any of their counterparts. For instance the tigers were far advanced and most feared tank during ww2. Tigers were indeed monsters of destruction they were well armored and armed to tooth. Unlike most of us think, tigers were not strong due to their thick armor, in-fact they were armored in an ingenious way. Rather than placing the armor plates vertically, the armor was placed in a sloped manner, some historians’ say this tactic was copied from the Russians. But indeed the Germans copied and upgraded the idea of slope armor. In theory, the Russians sloped their armor to 30 degree which increased the frontal armor’s thickness effectively without increasing the tanks weight. However, the Germans found that if the armor plate was sloped to a staggering 60 degree, then there will be no grip for the incoming shells to penetrate the armor instead they just bounced off the thick armor. That’s the reason why allied tank shells bounced of the Tiger’s armor as there was not enough grip to penetrate. This gave the Tiger crews a feeling of invincibility and confidence as there were no weapons to destroy them on the battle field. While the slope armor gave it invincibility its main gun, the 88 mm (originally an antiaircraft gun) gave it a supreme firepower compared to anything the allies had imagined. It was the desert corps under “Erwin Rommel” (desert fox) who first created the idea to use these massive and reliable 88mm anti-aircraft guns in anti tank roles. Later these 88mm cannons were placed on a heavily armored tank resulting in the production of TIGERS. As a result, the Tiger could fire and destroy most allied tanks at a staggering range where the allied tanks can’t even see the tiger. Tiger can penetrate the frontal armor of most allied tanks from a massive 1000 — 2000 meters while almost all allied tanks (except a few later Tanks) must be within a 100 meter range to penetrate the Tiger, that too mostly its rear or side not the frontal armor. With these records and stats there is no surprise when the history says some allied tank crew preferred to run when faced by the overwhelming odds of the Tiger’s destructiveness. This caused a psychological fear factor and gave rise to the term “Tiger-phobia“. But even the toughest Tigers had some serious issues and draw backs (mostly due to political and economical state).

Flaws within the claws of Tigers:

Perhaps the biggest setback for tigers was its production status, as they were always outnumbered by most allied tanks. As discussed earlier, German doctrine by that time was “Quality over Quantity” unlike the American and Russian “Quantity has its own Quality” as a result the Tigers were always outnumbered. This is because both Sherman and T34 were far cheap and easy to make while the Tiger was a high-tech, Complex and Over Engineered Tank which was far tougher to manufacture let alone mass produce. Manufactured in a very few numbers they always lacked the numbers and were very tough to be replaced. Furthermore tigers were prone to mechanical issues and were very tough to repair (although this issue was fixed soon). Even worse was its bulk size, weighing around 62 tons they were too slow on most terrain. Although for their size they were reasonably fast yet not fast enough to match its counterparts. Their weight restricted them from crossing most small bridges and so forced to either wait till special bridges to be built or cross rivers directly. But as said their worst problem was being Over- Engineered tank they were far ahead of their time and was tough to make and cost more time and materials than any other tank built during the war. Most of these draw backs were to be blamed on Nazis not on German Engineers or army. For it was Hitler’s direct wish to make a tank that was stronger than any before while ignoring practicality of mass production.

Sherman Vs Tiger on battle field:

By now there must be no issue to decide which tank will win when faced head on. Even the Sherman crew will agree that it will be hands down to Tiger Tanks. OK if so how was it possible for the allied commanders to deal with Tigers and win the war? Well it was so simple.. as I told already, there was always a Sherman to replace destroyed Shermans while replacing a Tiger was almost impossible. In this showdown it was just a number game and the Shermans were able to win it. In fact the allied commanders made a pathetic strategy to deal with the Tigers; the idea was to sacrifice 4 Sherman tanks to take down a Tiger for Shermans can always be replaced with a massive American automobile industry behind. But here one must not forget that it was not just the mere metal tank that was sacrificed but also the American crew to take down a Tiger. As a result despite a victory here the allies cant claim any show of strength they used Shermans almost in a similar role against the Tigers as the Japanese used their Zeros during the later day of war(Kamikaze).

The final outcome:

Its one of the toughest question to answer but one cant consider a pure number victory as a reason to declare a tank as stronger tank.. I will do that I you could agree that millions of ants capable of killing man can mean that ants are stronger than Humans. Here the answer is simple it was the Shermans who won the war (not the war between the tanks but the ww2) while the Tigers won the Tank vs. tank battle hands down..