36th Panzer Regiment Tank Losses, January 1944

The 36th Panzer Regiment was the tank component of the 14th Panzer Division, which had been destroyed at Stalingrad. When recreated, the division was supposed to have a three-battalion panzer regiment. However, it only received the I. and III. battalions before transferring to the eastern front in the autumn 1943. As losses accumulated, its remaining tanks and assault guns were concentrated in the III. battalion and the I. battalion was sent out of the theatre to replenish.

On 1 January 1944, the regiment had the following vehicles operational: 10 StuG, 11 Pz III, 11 Pz IV. In short term repair were: 7 StuG, 1 Pz III and 8 Pz IV. However, there is some uncertainty regarding the Pz III tanks, as they are not to be found in the organization chart, except for 6 command tanks in the battalion and the regiment. This is according to the monthly report to the Inspector-General of Panzer Troops (BA-MA RH 10/152).

The battalion war diary can be found in file BA-MA RH39/380. It is not as detailed as the war diary I have used for previous posts on I./Pz.Rgt. 26 Panther battalion. It just contains a narrative and I don’t have the kind of detailed annexes included in the file on I./Pz.Rgt. 26.

From the war diary, I conclude the following losses during January 1944:

StuG: 10 complete losses. One of them was only damaged by enemy fire, but could not be recovered due to nearby enemy units and was fired upon by other German StuG until it caught fire. Another 10 StuG were damaged, either by enemy fire or suffered from technical breakdowns.

Pz IV: 3 complete losses, 6 damaged. As there has been some posts on the effectiveness of artillery versus armour on the blog, it can be worth mentioning that one of the damaged Pz IV was hit by artillery fire.

Pz III tanks are not mentioned at all in the battalion war diary.

There are two comments on repairs in the war diary. On 14 January, it is said that one repaired tank returns and on 27 January, it is reported that 3 Pz IV and 1 StuG returns from workshops. However, this can not be all repairs. On 1 February, the battalion had 5 operational Stug and 2 in short term repair. As it started out with 10+7 StuG, had 5+2 on 1 February, while reporting 10 destroyed and 10 damaged during January, there must have been more repairs. The figures would suggest that 15 StuG were repaired, as there were no shipments of new StuG from the factories, according to the records in BA-MA RH 10/349 (list of deliveries of new AFV). Neither is any transfer of AFV from other units mentioned in the war diary.

It seems that the number of repaired Pz IV is 5, given the number on hand on 1 February.

All in all, this would mean that the battalion started out with 10 StuG and 11 Pz IV on 1 January, lost irretrievably 10 StuG and 3 Pz IV, 10 StuG damaged and 6 Pz IV damaged, while 15 StuG and 5 Pz IV were repaired. It should be noted that these figures are less certain than those given for the I./Pz.Rgt. 26 in previous posts, as the war diary of the III./Pz.Rgt 36 is not as detailed.

Admittedly, it is problematic to compare loss rates between units fighting different enemy formations, but it is still tempting to compare the III./Pz.Rgt. 36 with the I./Pz.Rgt. 26. After all, they fought in the same general area (Ukraine south of Kiev) in similar conditions against similar Soviet units. Clearly, the StuG and Pz IV were far more often directly destroyed by hits from enemy units. On the other hand, there seems to have been significantly fewer cases of mechanical breakdown among StuG and Pz IV. Ten such cases are explicitly mentioned, but in many cases the war diary just says that a tank was out of action, without giving a cause. Most likely, in those cases the cause was enemy action.

Clearly the proportions between destroyed by enemy fire, damaged by enemy fire and lost due to other causes differ considerably between the III./Pz.Rgt 36 and I./Pz.Rgt. 26.

This Picture is TAKEN FROM The SS Panzer corps in July 1943.


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Niklas Zetterling
Niklas Zetterling

Niklas Zetterling worked as senior researcher at the Swedish National Defence Research Establishment and Swedish Defence College from 1993 to 2007. During that period, matters like combat efficiency, command and control methods and the use of history were extensively studied. A significant part of the work was devoted to mathematical models, both such developed in-house and models developed by other agencies. Nearly 20 scientific articles were published as part of the work at those two institutions. Mr. Zetterling first military history book was published in 1995. Over the last twenty years, 14 books have been authored or co-authored by Mr. Zetterling. They have been translated and released in seven different countries. All books deal with various aspects of World War II and are to a very great extent based on archival research.

Niklas Zetterling’s published works include six English language books in addition to his works in Swedish. His six English language books include two originally written in English in addition to four translated works. His other eight books are in Swedish but not yet published in English. Eleven of these books have been co-authored.

His books published in English are: 1) Kursk 1943 (London: Frank Cass, 2000), 2) Normandy 1944 (Winnipeg: Fedorowicz, 2000), 3) Bismarck – Kampen om Atlanten (Stockholm: Norstedts, 2004), Swedish but also translated to English, Finnish, Norwegian and Danish, 4) Tirpitz – Kampen om Norra ishavet (Stockholm: Norstedts, 2006), Swedish but also translated to English, Norwegian and Danish, 5) Tjerkassy 44 (Stockholm: Norstedts, 2006), Swedish but also translated to English as Korsun Pocket, 6) Hitlers första nederlag [Hitler's First Defeat] (Stockholm: Norstedts, 2011), Swedish, also translated to English as The Drive on Moscow 1941.

Articles: 7


  1. ” After all, they fought in the same general area (Ukraine south of Kiev) in similar conditions against similar Soviet units”

    But they are not always assigned the same tasks, exposure and vulnerability may be different (and thus the risk of losing them).
    Infantry took the highest losses, so Sturmgeschütze were probably affected by this in their support role?

  2. As I said in the sentence before, it is problematic to compare in such a way. However, the difference is substantial. The fact that the infantry took the highest losses does not suggest that the StuG would also suffer higher losses.

    • Yes, that’s correct.

      Expanding on my previous reply, I can add that the infantry took high losses from HE fire, which did not account for a large share of the tank losses. Furthermore, a supporting role is hardly more dangerous for an AFV than the kind of missions usually given to tanks. Leading an attack is probably mor risky than supporting infantry which can be done from behind. Also, the situation when the I./Pz.Rgt. 26 suffered most of its complete losses due to enemy fire was when it attacked without infantry support.

      • So part of the answer lies in the projectile to plate correlation, i.e. the AFVs inherent survivability by design to absorb greater damage (weight)?

        • It would be remarkable if the considerably better armour of the I./Pz.Rgt. 26 Panthers did not improve their chances of surviving hits from enemy guns. Also, as their guns were superior to all contemporary Soviet tank guns, it seems reasonable that they often could kill Soviet tanks before they could hit the German tanks.

          • The factor of first strike, long range engagement capability is understandable, but I have seen criticism, specifically two points:
            1) Soviet combat reports (AT units in particular) stated that fighting Panthers was not as much a concern as [the super heavies], the side armour was still vulnerable (extensible use of camouflage facilitated success). FHA weakens with continous shelling, unlike the structure found in the RHA of a Pz VI, which amplified its role as a breakthrough tank.
            2) The ranges at which Panthers were able to destroy and engage their targets might have been inflated, especially when compared to AFVs contemporary standards (or even Cold War standards), in the sense that they seem utopic, since German tankers seemed to have used what one would call by todays standards, battle sight aim.
            I do think however, that being able to engage a target preemptively, can also be a question of communication, recon, initative and visibility.

          • I fail to see the relevance of the links.
            It is not like a hit on a face-hardened armour plate will be rendered weakened all over its surface. The effect is local and the likelihood of hitting the same area again is very small. Furthermore, the Panther front armour is (except for very early vehicles) made of RHA, not FHA.
            As I see it, this is an issue that has negligible relevance.

            As to the accuracy figures, none of them refer to the Panther, they often use different ammunition, and so. Note that the introduction of new ammo types late in WWII and post-WWII often lead to LOWER accuracy.
            Also, neither of them show any comparison between say T-34 vs Panther or Panzer IV. Just some vague general feeling that certain accuracy claims for German tanks (exactly what are those claims) may have been exaggerated does not add to the issue.

        • The argument that face hardened armour weakens if hit repeatedly seems to be very slender. The likelihood of a tank being hit in exactly the same spot repeatedly in the same engagement must have been very small.
          Furthermore, the Panther did use RHA armour as well as face-hardened, depending on surface and time of production.
          The fact that superheavy tanks had thicker side armour than the Panther does not make the Panther more vulnerable compared to Pz IV and StuG III, which had even thinner side armour.
          Such Soviet reports carry little weight in my opinion, because they most likely are just opinions, not hard statistics.

          As to the alleged inflation of ranges for Panthers killing enemy tanks, what is this based on?
          And the fact that successful engagement of targets is targets is also a question of communication, recon, initiative and visibility does not contradict the range advantages of the Panther gun compared to the gun fitted to the Pz IV and StuG III.

  3. The 5 missing Panzer IiI are the 5 Flammpanzer III in the Flammpanzer Zug attached to the 3rd Battalion Headquarters. It is also worth noting that the 14 Panzer Division is unusual in that it frequently included it’s Artillerie Panzer Beobachtungswagen III in its monthly Zustandsberichte under the Panzer III battle tanks column.

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