While watching Fury the other night, aside from stunning visuals and great acting I've noticed something rather peculiar. Considering Fury depicts the end of war by which time Germans should've seen enough and developed tons of fighting experience, why didn't they simply set the tank on fire? This would seem like the easiest and most intuitive solution to me.
Because it is an unrealistic movie scene.
Yes, the Germans were extremely good in taking out tanks with improvised means. And a lone tank needs movement to be effective against infantry, else it is dogmeat. There was one incredible situation where Audie Murphy (read the Wikipedia entry) did such a stunt by standing in a burning tank destroyer and using a 0.5 gun to mow down everything the Germans sent against him, but he was really in completely different weight class as soldier.
Otherwise, the Germans would simply encircle the tank and destroy it with
- Molotov cocktails. They work best if they burn on the top and they will suffocate/smoke out the engine/crew. This is the reason tanks need movement and/or protection from other tanks to make a small target and if hit, present the least vulnerable sides.
- Throw a handgrenade into the cannon pipe.
- Use a flamethrower against the openings.
- Bind several handgrenades together to form a bundled charge and place it under the tank bottom to use it as improvised tank mine.
The movie is simply said highly unrealistic.
I am not completely sure, but I think that a reaction to the success of Molotov cocktails in the Finnish-Sovjet war was to change the design of air intake and exhaust to point downwards, so that burning petrol would not run into the engine. So in 1944 it was more difficult to set a tank on fire then in 1940.
However, once you get really close to a tank with broken tracks, you will find a way to destroy it. The British home guard was trained in doing so, the Germans in Fury probably only learned that to destroy a tank you shoot it with a panzerfaust. In the film we see that the troop is low on anti-tank grenades, and when they use it, they miss. So it is reasonable to assume that the Germans are highly motivated but poorly trained Volkssturm, who try to solve a problem by beating there head against a wall.
if you set a tank on fire from the outside, it wont burn. the only real way to set a tank on fire is to puncture its fuel tank and light it(this usually happens when a cannon round or an anti tank rocket round strikes the rear any where the fuel tanks are. a grenade with enough force can achieve this (german bk 2h))