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Best Soldiers Tank of WW2 - W Europe & N Africa 39-41

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  • #46
    Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
    Because they are the best choices.

    If we are talking about issues such as reliability and maintainability, the 38t is even better. It is also cheaper, more fuel efficient while being just as effective. Rommel thought the tank an excellent weapon system. As a commanders tank, the A10 is even better. It has all the benefits of the 38t, plus a proper 3 man turret, and better weapons than either the Pz IV or Pz III, plus more armour.
    Irrelevant. We are looking at best tanks for the time period, and relevant campaigns.


    Actual numbers are also generally irrelevant, since larger economies can produce larger amount of tanks.
    Maybe faster than a Char B1 bis or Matilda, but then these two were virtually immune to German gunfire.
    We are looking at the "best soldier tanks", but as usual without any specific or useful guidelines, so all opinions here are equally valid.
    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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    • #47
      Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
      We are looking at the "best soldier tanks", but as usual without any specific or useful guidelines, so all opinions here are equally valid.
      You are correct. I did not initially give any guidelines. That error has been rectified on another thread here.

      Essentially, the best soldiers tank is the one you would prefer to be in.
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      • #48
        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
        Actually, spotting and being able to fire first is a massive advantage on the battlefield.

        In simplest terms two opponents that know the other is present and can fire simultaneously the probability of success is equal to the probability of killing the opponent and surviving his fire.
        Absolutely correct, an analysis here : http://www.merriam-press.com/dataonw...gagements.aspx

        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
        When you have a situation where one side spots and can engage before the other side does, the equation changes to the probability it will kill the other tank times the probability it will survive multiplied by the probability the opposing tank survives the hit.
        In other words, now the one firing first, assuming a half decent chance of hitting and knocking out the opposing tank will almost certainly survive the encounter while the probability of destruction of the vehicle that didn't see it coming is very high.

        If you look at WW 2 tanks, the US added a cupola to the Sherman and other tanks. The Russians did the same to theirs. That argues that they recognized the value of having the vehicle commander having more visibility when buttoned up.
        Since WW 2, such cupolas have been the norm on most tanks.
        Cupola's are important, especially in WW2. However, Israeli commanders were still sticking their heads out of the turret of much more modern tanks, which still paid dividends in 67, proving that the cupola is not the best solution to observation even at that time.

        That said, vision devices on some Soviet tanks were so poor, as to make the tank blind when buttoned up. It's more than just the cupola. For example, the Panthers gunner had an extremely decent sight for firing, the one aspect that Churchill crews of the 6th Gds Tank Brigade admired about their 'Cuckoo' Panther over their Churchill tank. However, his actual vision was incredibly limited, and probably a design failure.
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        • #49
          Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
          Absolutely correct, an analysis here : http://www.merriam-press.com/dataonw...gagements.aspx
          I was using the basic OR equations that show this, but it all comes out the same... Theory is proven in results.

          Cupola's are important, especially in WW2. However, Israeli commanders were still sticking their heads out of the turret of much more modern tanks, which still paid dividends in 67, proving that the cupola is not the best solution to observation even at that time.
          Absolutely. This is also a major reason that one and two man turrets are problematic. The commander is distracted by being the gunner or whatever and not simply directing the vehicle and looking for targets. He can't be head out of the turret if he's looking through the gun sight or loading the gun.

          That said, vision devices on some Soviet tanks were so poor, as to make the tank blind when buttoned up. It's more than just the cupola. For example, the Panthers gunner had an extremely decent sight for firing, the one aspect that Churchill crews of the 6th Gds Tank Brigade admired about their 'Cuckoo' Panther over their Churchill tank. However, his actual vision was incredibly limited, and probably a design failure.
          And, they also had in 1941 - 43 few devices installed. The T34/76 M41 -42 vehicles had a vision port in each side of the turret and a single periscope / gun sight for the commander, along with vision slits for the driver. The hull gunner had a hole drilled in the shield of his machinegun mount to aim through. The T 60 and 70 were no better.
          In all of these vehicles the commander was the gunner, so the result was a tank that unless some target appeared directly in front of it at reasonably close range it wasn't going to be spotted until rounds started pinging of the tank, or coming through the armor.

          Giving the gunner in a Sherman a wide view periscope was something crews all appreciated. Many improvised blade style gun sights to use with this periscope, forgoing the telescopic sight for shorter range engagements because the gunner could pick up targets faster in the periscope and get a round off with reasonable accuracy before the enemy could.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by Michele View Post
            Well yes, that's what I meant by a worse battlefield awareness, it's what is usually meant by that. And by contrast I mentioned the Pz III having better chances of spotting the enemy first and firing first.
            ... which comes down to what we believe is the lesser of two evils, I suppose.
            To my mind, being able to efficiently acquire and engage targets is usually going to be of greater importance; especially when the protection factor of the two tanks being compared is roughly equal, which seems to be the case when comparing B1 bis with Matilda II.

            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
            Actually, spotting and being able to fire first is a massive advantage on the battlefield.

            In simplest terms two opponents that know the other is present and can fire simultaneously the probability of success is equal to the probability of killing the opponent and surviving his fire.

            When you have a situation where one side spots and can engage before the other side does, the equation changes to the probability it will kill the other tank times the probability it will survive multiplied by the probability the opposing tank survives the hit.
            In other words, now the one firing first, assuming a half decent chance of hitting and knocking out the opposing tank will almost certainly survive the encounter while the probability of destruction of the vehicle that didn't see it coming is very high.

            If you look at WW 2 tanks, the US added a cupola to the Sherman and other tanks. The Russians did the same to theirs. That argues that they recognized the value of having the vehicle commander having more visibility when buttoned up.
            Since WW 2, such cupolas have been the norm on most tanks.
            In general, I agree. I'm inclined to understate my case sometimes.
            "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

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            • #51
              Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

              Essentially, the best soldiers tank is the one you would prefer to be in.
              And, frankly, I'm not very surprised of that. I had worked that much out, based on the thread title.
              Michele

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              • #52
                Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                Actually, spotting and being able to fire first is a massive advantage on the battlefield.

                In simplest terms two opponents that know the other is present and can fire simultaneously the probability of success is equal to the probability of killing the opponent and surviving his fire.

                When you have a situation where one side spots and can engage before the other side does, the equation changes to the probability it will kill the other tank times the probability it will survive multiplied by the probability the opposing tank survives the hit.
                In other words, now the one firing first, assuming a half decent chance of hitting and knocking out the opposing tank will almost certainly survive the encounter while the probability of destruction of the vehicle that didn't see it coming is very high.
                All true in general. Save that here we're comparing the two tanks in the list that had more than a half decent chance of surviving a first hit (or five) by any tank on the list, and much more than a half decent chance of surviving that from nearly all the tanks on the list (exceptions being made for the Pz III Ausf. J and the Pz IV Ausf. F, which make it to the list in the last six months of its validity).
                Michele

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                • #53
                  If the IIIJ is on the list, it would indeed become a strong contender for my 1st choice. I did in fact vote Somua, but that was premature. I regret that choice now

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                  One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Michele View Post
                    All true in general. Save that here we're comparing the two tanks in the list that had more than a half decent chance of surviving a first hit (or five) by any tank on the list, and much more than a half decent chance of surviving that from nearly all the tanks on the list (exceptions being made for the Pz III Ausf. J and the Pz IV Ausf. F, which make it to the list in the last six months of its validity).
                    They needed to survive a first hit since they were likely to take one. Both the T34 and KV in the 41 to beginning of 43 period had serious shortcomings in optics and even placement of vision devices. The crew layouts were far less than optimal too.
                    This meant that all-too-often these vehicles blundered forward on the battlefield only to get hit from the flanks by unobserved antitank weapons.
                    For example, William Folkestad wrote about his personal experience doing this repeatedly in Panzerjäger: Tank Hunter. He was in the 95th Infantry division's panzerjäger abteilung.

                    The T60 and T70, often making up half or more of a Red Army tank battalion in 1941 - 42, were even more vulnerable and equally, if not more so, blind.

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                    • #55
                      We have to make a difference between gunsights and observation devices.

                      Observation devices were indeed abysmal, particularly for wartime 1941/1942 production tanks, being most often simple periscope with polished metal plates protected by celluloid screen, often of poor quality and distorting image. This was only fixed with introduction of MK.4 periscope in 1943. Original model did had wide-angle periscope on top of the hatch, but it was deemed uncomfortable to operate and it was removed even before the war. Some T-34 got commander's cupola, but it was also deemed of limited utility as tank commander had to serve as gunner too (switching between cupola and forward mounted gun sights), so he was left with telescopic sight and rotatable PT-4-7 periscopic gunsight only.

                      Later production tanks however had quite satisfying observability, with T-34/85 in particular having observation device for every crewmen in turret, unlike German tanks which most often only had tank commander's cupola at that point of the war. Ironically, the Panther no longer possessed a large amount of observation devices like previous Panzer III and Panzer IV, in order to increase protection. The Panther was rated equivalent to the IS-2 in observation quality (indeed they have almost the same number of observation devices) and certainly inferior to the Panzer III and Panzer IV, which were rated very highly by Soviets.

                      On the other hand, despite the commonly held belief, Soviet early war gunsights were most likely second best in the world by design, after German ones which were articulated and hence class of their own, until at least Soviet TSh-15/16/17/19 series and British articulated sights appeared. This is clearly noted in Aberdeen report about T-34 and TMFD-7 gunsight.
                      2.5x magnification and 25° Field of View were on par with German designs, and it had shock resistant mounting that was noted to be extremely sturdy and resilient. There were also pretty similar 9T13 and 10T13 sights, mostly used on KV series, with exception of some Stalingrad made T-34s.
                      Compared to Soviet designs, early British gunsights were quite bad with narrow Field of View and without any magnification. Early US gunsights were also not really top of the line, characterised by poor magnification.

                      Design characteristic and quality are often mixed in discussions, which is misleading. Quality of Soviet gunsights varied over years, it was decent in 1941, then dropped sharply in 1942, but rose again, and by time T-34/85 was introduced there was no noticeable difference between TSh-16 and Turmzielfernrohr TZF 5 gunsight, both being of similar construction (and actually interchangeable, with ballistic corrections table, as proven by Yugoslavs) and similar picture quality.

                      What probably hampered Soviets more was lack of radios in formations. While for example all T-34/85 were equipped with radios, in earlier models that varied, with number of tanks with radio ranging from 25% to 65%, depending on radio production in particular month.

                      Another thing to consider in opening months of campaign was ammo supply. In 1941, Soviets had less than 10 rounds of armour piercing ammunition for every 76mm gun they had in use, with no reserve stocks available. Several instances of T-34 ramming other vehicles or not opening fire is therefore not surprising.
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                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Hanov View Post
                        If the IIIJ is on the list, it would indeed become a strong contender for my 1st choice. I did in fact vote Somua, but that was premature. I regret that choice now

                        posted from mobile
                        The IIIJ only just scrapes in, during the second half of 1941 IIRC. Also if you're talking about the IIIJ with the longer (L/60) gun, that didn't make it into the field until 1942 so it's outside our period here.
                        "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

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                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Hanov View Post
                          If the IIIJ is on the list, it would indeed become a strong contender for my 1st choice. I did in fact vote Somua, but that was premature. I regret that choice now

                          posted from mobile
                          Theoretically the IIIJ could be on the list as production started in December 41. However, none were issued until early 42, and that was on the Eastern Front. Therefore, the J with its longer 50mm KwK39 isn't really relevant here as it had negligible impact in the West for this period.
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                          Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                          • #58
                            Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                            Theoretically the IIIJ could be on the list as production started in December 41. However, none were issued until early 42, and that was on the Eastern Front. Therefore, the J with its longer 50mm KwK39 isn't really relevant here as it had negligible impact in the West for this period.
                            According to Doyle & Jentz, production of the IIIJ with the 5cm KwK L/42 commenced in March 1941, so the short-gunned Ausf. J does make it into the last part of this period quite easily with a reasonable margin of - I'm guessing - about 8 months service in the field (give or take a bit?) by December 1941.

                            The version that, I would say, definitely does not make it into this period is the IIIJ with the KwK39 L/60; production not even starting until December 1941; and after cross-checking a number of sources I can find no reliable reference whatsoever to actual service in the field until early 1942.
                            I think we can safely rule it out for this time bracket.
                            "England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

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                            • #59
                              I'm going with the Pz III, because as a soldier, I want to go out, do my mission, not get surprised, talk to my comrades and have a comfortable ride in a piece of kit that can generally do the job and has enough speed to surprise the opposition. It's not as survivable as the A12 or the Char B1, but it's roomier, has better overall vision, better ingress/egress and can hit 40kmh and takes regular leaded (which can be half-inched from any fuel dump, gas station or parked car).

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                              • #60
                                Originally posted by G David Bock View Post
                                Minor pick of nit, but the first photo in the first/OP looks to be an early version of the Mark IV;
                                Eight pairs of boogie wheels(common to MK IV chassis) where the MK III had six pairs and the main weapon looks like a short barrel 75mm.
                                Early mark of the III: B, C or D which were still development models. The 6 road wheel II wasn't standard until the E. The giveaway is the small gun and internal mantlet of the 37mm.

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