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So, what did the Germans call their tanks?

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  • Member since
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So, what did the Germans call their tanks?
Posted by BarrettDuke on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 3:55 PM

I heard that the terms "Tiger," "Panther," etc. were names the Allies, especially the British, gave to German tanks to be able to talk about the different German tanks in easy to use language. Then I came across this in Wikipedia.

"Tiger I heavy tank originally received the designation of Panzerkampfwagen VI H (8.8 cm) Ausf H1 - Sd.Kfz.182, but then in March 1943, was redesignated to Panzerkampfwagen Tiger (8.8 cm L/56) Ausf E - Sd.Kfz.181. It was commonly referred to as Tiger, Tiger I and PzKpfw VI. Officially there was only type of Tiger tank produced, but during the duration of production improvements were carried on." Wikipedia

Did the Germans use the names Tiger, Panther, etc? If not, how did they differentiate their tanks when they were giving verbal orders? Surely, there was some kind of shorthand designation they prefered over the mouthful "Panzerkampfwagen VI H (8.8 cm) Ausf H1 - Sd.Kfz.182" when a commander wanted to tell his tank drivers which tanks to use in an operation. For example, if he wanted to deploy the PzKpfw IV's rather than the PzKpfw VI's for an operation, how would he have referrred to them in giving quick verbal orders? Thanks for any insight you can give me.

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Posted by armornut on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 4:01 PM

   They may have simply referex to them as "light" tanks( Panzers) or " heavy" panzers. SPs may have been called geshutzwagen or something indicating a lighter chassis and gun. This is only a guess and I hope someone else will chime in.

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Posted by stikpusher on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 4:14 PM

BarrettDuke

I heard that the terms "Tiger," "Panther," etc. were names the Allies, especially the British, gave to German tanks to be able to talk about the different German tanks in easy to use language. Then I came across this in Wikipedia.

"Tiger I heavy tank originally received the designation of Panzerkampfwagen VI H (8.8 cm) Ausf H1 - Sd.Kfz.182, but then in March 1943, was redesignated to Panzerkampfwagen Tiger (8.8 cm L/56) Ausf E - Sd.Kfz.181. It was commonly referred to as Tiger, Tiger I and PzKpfw VI. Officially there was only type of Tiger tank produced, but during the duration of production improvements were carried on." Wikipedia

Did the Germans use the names Tiger, Panther, etc? If not, how did they differentiate their tanks when they were giving verbal orders? Surely, there was some kind of shorthand designation they prefered over the mouthful "Panzerkampfwagen VI H (8.8 cm) Ausf H1 - Sd.Kfz.182" when a commander wanted to tell his tank drivers which tanks to use in an operation. For example, if he wanted to deploy the PzKpfw IV's rather than the PzKpfw VI's for an operation, how would he have referrred to them in giving quick verbal orders? Thanks for any insight you can give me.

 

units do not change tank types for an operation. A unit will re equip to replace obsolete equipment. But a unit is equipped as specified by its’ Table of Organization & Equipment (TO&E). Throughout the war, this was constantly evolving. Types were removed and replaced, numbers of vehicles in the units changed, etc. Tigers were mostly assigned to independent Heavy tank battalions or Schwere Panzer Abteilung, which were assigned at army or corps level for specific operations. A few specific divisions had organic Tiger companies or later battalions. By mid war, as the Mk. I, II, and III panzers we’re phased out of line units, panzer battalions as a whole we’re pretty uniform in their equipment type, be it Mk IVs or Mk Vs. The commander would know which  battalion or company had which type, and make his plans accordingly. Mixed type units are a nightmare to support logistically. They were usually created on an as needed basis as the war situation dictated at the time and place with forces available. 

 

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Posted by GMorrison on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 4:26 PM

BarrettDuke

 Surely, there was some kind of shorthand designation they prefered over the mouthful "Panzerkampfwagen VI H (8.8 cm) Ausf H1 - Sd.Kfz.182" when a commander wanted to tell his tank drivers which tanks to use in an operation. 

That's not a thing. I'd suspect any tactical commands were by number, or even the commander's name.

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Posted by Real G on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 4:29 PM

Okay, I was gonna suggest “Heinrich” or “Brunhilda”...  Stick out tongue

The Germans did refer to the Tiger II as “Konigstiger”, which translates to Belgian Tiger, but perhaps the Allies literally translated it to “King Tiger”, konigs = king.

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Posted by GMorrison on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 5:28 PM

LOL! You mean Bengal Tiger. Must be on your iPhone.

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Posted by Real G on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 5:46 PM

Ha ha G Morrison, you are more attentive than I!  Yes BENGAL tiger.

I hate autocorrect.

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Posted by BarrettDuke on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 12:33 PM

Thanks, Stik. That's really helpful. Barrett

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Posted by Bish on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 1:59 PM

As Stik says, you don't simply switch vehicles for different operations. Apart from the logistics issues, there is also the issue of training. Being able to drive one type doesn't mean you can just jump into another and drive that, not to mention the rest of the crew.

As with any army, a commander would designate different units to perform different tasks for any given operation depending on different factors.

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Posted by stikpusher on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 2:01 PM

Youre welcome.

an example would be a panzer battalion of 1939 thru 1940.

There were two light companies of Panzer I and II, a company of Panzer III, and a company of Panzer IV. Doctrine and tactics had been developed in training and exercises that assigned roles to each company. Panzer III was supposed to fight enemy tanks, while the Panzer IV was for infantry support and to suppress enemy AT guns with its short 75 mm gun. 

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

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Posted by BarrettDuke on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 2:28 PM

Thanks, Bish. That's not really what I was wondering about, though. I'm sure what you're saying is right. I was thinking German tank battalions had different types of tanks in them and at some point someone would need to refer to one type of tank instead of another. I was wondering what shorthand term or name they used to distinguish one type of tank from another. They couldn't have just called them all panzers if there were different types of panzers in the unit. No one would know which panzers they were talking about.

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Posted by Bish on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 2:50 PM

I see what you mean. Some unit types, Infantry for example, may have a mix of equipment. But again, you designate units, Company this or Platoon that, rather than say which vehicle you want to perform a task.

If you do want to refer to vehicle types, thats still pretty easy. Saying Panzer IV or writing Pz IV  isn't really any different that saying Sherman or Churchill.

In the army, theres an abbreviation for everything.

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Posted by BarrettDuke on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 3:43 PM

I came across this on Quora by Hu Jinqin. It seems the Germans were the ones who gave cat names to their tanks, and the allies used those names when they referred to them.

The Tiger was a nickname given by its designer Ferdinand Porsche- it was never part of the official name, being just Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf. H, but I guess it struck a nerve among the Germans since that was when they first started giving sexy nicknames to heir new vehicles later on.

The Panther’s name seems to have been given at the outset, as it’s designation was Panzerkampfwagen V Panther until 1944, where the numeral V was deleted.

Tiger must have set off a trend of naming vehicles with nicknames of varying themes, big cats being used mainly for tanks while other animals for other vehicles, such as Elefant and Nashorn for tank destroyers, and miscellaneous animals for support. Some names are not animals, like Hetzer and Ostwind.

Even “big cat” names were not limited to tanks per se, the Puma was an upgraded version of their wheeled reconnaissance vehicle under multiple Sdkfz. designations, and the Luchs was the name for a much later version of the Panzer 2, of all vehicles to get a nickname, an much older model gets a retronym.

There was also the Leopard, a prototype vehicle that did not go into production, it was basically a mini-Panther tank. The design fell through because it failed to meet specifications; its turret and role was rolled in with the Luchs, which was a tank in the barest sense of the word- it was tracked and had a turret, but it’s size was small compared to other tanks, it’s more like a tankette.

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Posted by stikpusher on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 3:50 PM

I’m willing to bet that at the smaller unit level commanders and crews, especially in the pre name days referred to specific types as “Mark IIIs” or Mark “IVs” or “Panzer II“, etc.

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

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Posted by Phil_H on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 4:43 PM

If I recall correctly, US equipment was known simply by their numeric designation until acquired by the Brits, wherupon they were named (as was British practice). So the M3 Light Tank became the known as "Stuart", the M3 Medium Tank, "Grant" and so on.

I believe also, that the various "hawk" names of the P-40 series were originally British designations. 

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Posted by stikpusher on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 6:55 PM

US tanks during WWII were known to US forces simply by their nomeclature- M3, M4, etc., or even simply as Lights or Mediums. Specialized versions had their nicknames such as Donald Ducks for DDs, or Jumbo for the E2 version. The British naming system was not used by US forces until post war. 

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

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Posted by PFJN on Wednesday, January 16, 2019 10:00 PM

Real G

Okay, I was gonna suggest “Heinrich” or “Brunhilda”...  Stick out tongue

Hi,

Actually during WWI they did actually give names to some of their tanks such as "Mephisto", "Nixie", "Annchen", "Paul" and "Hanni" etc. Stick out tongue

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Posted by Bish on Thursday, January 17, 2019 2:14 AM

Phil_H

If I recall correctly, US equipment was known simply by their numeric designation until acquired by the Brits, wherupon they were named (as was British practice). So the M3 Light Tank became the known as "Stuart", the M3 Medium Tank, "Grant" and so on.

I believe also, that the various "hawk" names of the P-40 series were originally British designations. 

 

Wasn't it the British who came up with the name Mustang for the P-51.

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Posted by Armor_Aficionado on Thursday, January 17, 2019 3:41 AM
And the Germans still do so today. Their current MBT is of course, the Leopard II, and their recently developed new tracked IFV is the Puma. There was also the Luchs (Lynx) wheeled armored reconnaissance vehicle, which was later replaced by the Fennek (fennec, a small desert fox), and the Fuchs (Fox) wheeled APC.

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Posted by Phil_H on Thursday, January 17, 2019 4:10 AM

Bish
Wasn't it the British who came up with the name Mustang for the P-51.

I believe so, also, quite a number of other aircraft, including Dakota, Liberator, Catalina, Boston and more.

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Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Saturday, January 19, 2019 4:10 PM

BarrettDuke

I heard that the terms "Tiger," "Panther," etc. were names the Allies, especially the British, gave to German tanks to be able to talk about the different German tanks in easy to use language. Then I came across this in Wikipedia.

"Tiger I heavy tank originally received the designation of Panzerkampfwagen VI H (8.8 cm) Ausf H1 - Sd.Kfz.182, but then in March 1943, was redesignated to Panzerkampfwagen Tiger (8.8 cm L/56) Ausf E - Sd.Kfz.181. It was commonly referred to as Tiger, Tiger I and PzKpfw VI. Officially there was only type of Tiger tank produced, but during the duration of production improvements were carried on." Wikipedia

Did the Germans use the names Tiger, Panther, etc? If not, how did they differentiate their tanks when they were giving verbal orders? Surely, there was some kind of shorthand designation they prefered over the mouthful "Panzerkampfwagen VI H (8.8 cm) Ausf H1 - Sd.Kfz.182" when a commander wanted to tell his tank drivers which tanks to use in an operation. For example, if he wanted to deploy the PzKpfw IV's rather than the PzKpfw VI's for an operation, how would he have referrred to them in giving quick verbal orders? Thanks for any insight you can give me.

 

Tanks. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.....LOL!

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Posted by BarrettDuke on Saturday, January 19, 2019 5:26 PM

So, BS214, what's your point?

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Posted by the Baron on Saturday, January 19, 2019 7:09 PM

Phil_H

...I believe also, that the various "hawk" names of the P-40 series were originally British designations.

The Brits may have originated the specific variations, "Warhawk" and "Kittyhawk", but Curtiss used "Hawk" as a nickname for its fighters, going back to its early biplanes.  The British may have just built on that nickname.

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Posted by the Baron on Saturday, January 19, 2019 7:12 PM

BarrettDuke

I came across this on Quora by Hu Jinqin. It seems the Germans were the ones who gave cat names to their tanks...

...which custom they revived post-war, with the Leopard and Gepard.

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Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Saturday, January 19, 2019 8:10 PM

BarrettDuke

So, BS214, what's your point?

 

 

Wow... grumpy much? Just making a joke here. Geez....

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Posted by Archangel Shooter on Sunday, January 20, 2019 4:30 PM

 Your image is loading...

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Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Sunday, January 20, 2019 8:15 PM

Archangel Shooter

 

ROFLMAO!!!

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Posted by BarrettDuke on Monday, January 21, 2019 4:19 PM

OK, BS214. That's progress. So, what's the joke?

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Posted by BlackSheepTwoOneFour on Monday, January 21, 2019 5:00 PM

BarrettDuke

OK, BS214. That's progress. So, what's the joke?

 

 

Really? Do you always take things too seriously? 

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Posted by stikpusher on Monday, January 21, 2019 9:18 PM

BarrettDuke

OK, BS214. That's progress. So, what's the joke?

 

 

Original question- what did the Germans call their tanks?

facetious answer- Tanks... 

 

isn't the joke obvious?

 

F is for FIRE, That burns down the whole town!

U is for URANIUM... BOMBS!

N is for NO SURVIVORS...

       - Plankton

LSM

 

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