Q: [to Hilary]: I have never been to a military vehicle
rally / museum opening where German tanks in running
condition were put through their paces alongside a
Sherman or two. Do German tank motors (StuG, Panther
in particular) have a distinct motor sound as opposed to
a Sherman or M10?
The reason I ask is that we are in the throes of yet
another PW, and this latest one is on the Bulge and I
was thinking that a Panther or StuG disguised as an
American tank would still sound like a German tank, even
at a distance. Thoughts?
A. This is a great question and I have to admit I never stopped to think about it.
A Maybach HL 230 V12 creates an amazing sound, very high pitched and prone
to violent back fires. It is more like a racing car motor …. Makes my hair
stand on end for sure. As there is no silencing on the HL 230 they make a
big noise compared to truck or halftrack motors. The HL 120 in a StuG does
have some silencing.
But in my experience the motor sound is only part of the overall racket
created by a tracked vehicle. The gear whine, the screech of track links on
the sprocket and especially the impact of the tracks on the differing
ground would constantly change and complicate the sound signature.
A “very” experienced person would be able to pick out that Maybach sound
from the sounds produced by the variety of Allied petrol engines let alone
diesel motors. If you are inside an armoured vehicle you can hear nothing
other than the noise of you own vehicle – an intercom and hand signals are
the only method of communication. I could not believe the interior noise
of the Tiger I at Bovington.
I suppose I am just not sure where or what type of soldier would get the
experience I mention above to be able to pick out different vehicles.
Don’t forget that variants of vehicles are appearing all the time.
Battle hardened troops might be able to say “those are kraut tanks starting
up” as they themselves started to shake but I think they might be guided
more by direction from where the sound came. I am not too sure the average
soldier would be able to pick out the specific noise.
Our thanks to Hilary for sharing his observations with us!