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Best Commanders Tank - Europe 12/44-5/45

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  • #31
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
    You're right. The T-44, particularly with the 100mm gun makes it no contest. The Centurion Mk 1 was by comparison, under armored, and under gunned... badly. The hull armor is just 76mm. The turret is 152 on the face so slightly better than the 120 of a T-44, but the T44 is smaller and much better shaped ballistically.
    The Soviet 100mm is hands down a better all-around gun than the 17 pdr, particularly at longer ranges.

    The Centurion really doesn't start to get good until the Mk 5 and it's the Mk 13 that really is the quality model. But, those are well past 1945 in introduction.
    You mean a prototype is inferior against a proven tank over 50 years in front line service is no contest? I agree with you.

    As far as tanks are concerned, the Centurion III was the best tank in Korea, better than the T-34, M4 and M26/46. The later Centurion 5 may have been even superior, but with the Centurion III, you get all the best bits of a Tiger 2, Comet, Panther G and Churchill in one tank. It was that good.

    The T-44 with the 100mm never saw action. The 100mm was about equal to the Tiger 2's 88mm. OTOH, the Centurions III 20pdr was also equal to the Tiger 2's 88mm, but with superior ammo. This Centurion also experienced a major war, unlike the T-44, and also proved itself the best tank at that time.
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    • #32
      Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
      The fact remains the the Pershing is a known quantity, while the T-44 is not.

      The only real flaw of the Pershing was mobility, ie an engine designed for the much lighter M4A3, and drive train issues.

      OTOH, we know nothing about the combat performance of the T-44, only that it was a theoretical improvement over the T-34.

      If you are going to include the T-44, you may as well choose the Centurion which was at least sent to the front lines in attempt to find combat at the end of WW2. The T-44 may have had an edge in armour over the Centurion 1, countered by the Centurions more powerful 17pdr mark VII, which had accurate apds and decent HE by this stage of the war. Centurions were also as agile as a Comet and had the cross country of a Churchill. Its Meteor engine and drive train were proven pieces of engineering. Its only issue was that it had a thimble for a fuel tank.

      Centurion vs T-44 is not much of a contest, but neither are truly relevant in this poll, since neither saw action.
      Some Centurion prototypes/Mk Is were sent to Belgium after the war ended. So it entirely missed the boat. The T-44 was issued to Red Army units but not sent into combat because the logistics, training, and servicing of a new tank would have been problematic considering the front line was well beyond the Soviet border and any extant railways were of a different gauge to domestic.

      This factor - fitting a new weapon into existing supply chains and units - may well be a consideration for this period, forcing the more conservative commander to weigh up the main rivals: T34, M4 and M-34 Comet. They all have the necessary speed, reliability, armour and gun to do the job. It's whether the line commanders have the nous to use them properly.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by Don Juan View Post
        As far as belly armour is concerned, this isn't as simple as being about thickness alone - ground clearance is also important, and a couple of inches can make a big difference. The Comet at 18" was reasonably good in this respect.

        Also important is whether the mine is detonated under the track or directly under the belly plate (i.e. remotely). British tests showed that the 10mm thick armour of the A30 Avenger's belly plate was good enough to withstand a Tellermine detonation under the track. However, for a detonation directly under the belly, even 25mm thick armour was not really sufficient.

        So this is another area where compromises have to be arrived at - it probably isn't worth it for the average tank to attempt immunity against detonations directly under the belly plate. The Centurion's belly armour was 17mm, which is better than the 14mm of the Comet, but very far from what is necessary to provide comprehensive protection.

        The complaints about the Comet's belly protection all came before it saw action, not after. In the event, very few mines were encountered in the advance into Germany, and not a single Comet was lost to mines.
        I also neglected to mention that the Comet's belly was also supported by 5 floor-stiffening I-beams, welded to the hull floor and inner side plates, one at each axle station. These meant that the on the detonation of a mine, the Comet's floor could only deform or rupture locally, the beams absorbing the major force of the blast.
        "Looting would not be tolerated within the Division, unless organised with the knowledge of C.O.'s on a unit basis."
        - 15/19 Hussars War Diary, 18th March 1945

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        • #34
          Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
          Some Centurion prototypes/Mk Is were sent to Belgium after the war ended. So it entirely missed the boat. The T-44 was issued to Red Army units but not sent into combat because the logistics, training, and servicing of a new tank would have been problematic considering the front line was well beyond the Soviet border and any extant railways were of a different gauge to domestic.

          This factor - fitting a new weapon into existing supply chains and units - may well be a consideration for this period, forcing the more conservative commander to weigh up the main rivals: T34, M4 and M-34 Comet. They all have the necessary speed, reliability, armour and gun to do the job. It's whether the line commanders have the nous to use them properly.
          I thought Operation Sentry started April, but it turns out the Centurions did not reach Europe until 14th May 45. However, it does mean they were available.

          Anyway, +1 for making me check .
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          • #35
            M26 Pershing automotive issues

            Several people have stated that the Pershings suffered from automotive issues while serving as brand new tanks in NW Europe in 1945.The prototypes certainly had some issues, but as I understand it, they were dealt with before production the T26E3 went into production as the M26. I dont recall mention of any serious automotive issues during its brief service in NW Europe.

            The first tanks to go into combat in North Korea in 1950 were old and worn out tanks from storage which proved rather temperamental, but you can hardly fault the design as such nor those tanks available in 1945 on those grounds.

            The only real issue seems to be that the M26 was somewhat underpowered with the 500hp Ford V8 GAF engine, but it still provided the Pershing with about 12 hp pr. ton, which was not that bad compared with tanks like the Tiger I and II, Panzer IV, non-V8 Shermans etc. It probably stacks up quite well with the Panther as well, considering that the HL230 engine was restricted to 2500 RPM, reducing the output to a good deal less than the nominal 700 HP.

            Does anyone have a solid source suggesting that the Zebra Mission and other NW Europe M26 had mechanical issues?

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            • #36
              M26 Pershing: Has a lot to offer, if one accepts the argument that the M26 of this period probably did not have many mechanical issues. 90mm gun with good HE and AP (even better with HVAP), good armour, good survivability for the crew, acceptable cross-country mobility....

              Sherman: Even though HVAP is available, the HE issue with the 76mm gun is not solved. Armour is not very good against 75mm anti-tank guns and up. Mobility with the HVSS is decent, reliability and general automotive performance is good with the V8 GAA engine, creature comfort is good as are the chances of surviving a penetration.
              The Sherman Firefly only has its gun to offer, the rest is just outdated.

              Tiger 2: Too big and unrealiable as a commanders choice

              Panther G: Too much tank for too little a gun. The gun is not bad for a 75mm weapon, but you would expect more at 45 tons. Mechanically still rather weak and once penetrated, the tank and much of the crew is likely gone. Front armour is good, the rest is not going to hold out the standard threats in this timeframe. Tactical mobility is great, but operational and strategic mobility is not.

              T-34: The T34/85 is not carrying its age as good as the Sherman. Creature comforts are not good and survivability is bad. Armour is not going to keep out the most common threats, but firepower is decent and better HE than Sherman and several others. AP is lagging, particularily if you include HVAP and APDS in the comparison. There are better choices here.

              IS-2: The limited ammo load is a showstopper as a commanders tank.

              Comet: Armour will not stand up to most common threats but the gun is decent, being very good in the AP department with APDS, even though HE is probably still an issue (no HC round until after the war, I think?). In terms of reliability and mobility its a good tank, probably still somewhat cramped as most British tanks of the period.

              Churchill: An infantry tank and nothing more.

              For me, it is Comet vs M26 Pershing with the Pershing having and edge in full-caliber AP firepower (a massive one if we allow the T33 round). If we allow 90mm HVAP into the equation, it also wins in sub-caliber. Pershing also wins HE. M26 armour is better than Comet, survivability may be a toss-up. If one assumes that new and well-maintained M26s were in fact reliable, the two are also equal there. The Comet has the advantage in mobility due to engine power and steering and probably better ground-pressure figures.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Gixxer86g View Post
                The Pershing suffered from automotive issues. The direct opposite of what makes the Sherman my choice. German heavies suffered for the same reason.

                Nothing has really changed on the ground during the last months of the war. So if the Sherman was the best choice in November, why would it not be in December?

                Like I said, I love the Comet, but it just doesn't matter at the point it was introduced.

                As the war drew to an end, anti armor became less important. And that 75mm looks better and better............

                The Sherman is the best choice. The logistics chain already exists. No reason to shake it all up and re-invent the wheel at the end of the line.
                The above would be a good argument if we had not shaken up the logistic chain constantly for other heavy fighting equipment throughout the war. Not a single frontline fighter or bomber that began the war remained in that role for long. Same for ships, subs and all the rest. Only the Sherman was regarded as "irreplaceable" despite it's overwhelming faults and inadequacies as the war went on. And how was it that the Germans and the Soviets maintained their logistical pipelines as they constantly upgraded their heavies?

                The logistical chain already existed - it just needed to move more advanced stuff. America was turning out a brand new Liberty ship every two to three days and we couldn't find room to ship larger tanks? Seriously?
                Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by cbo View Post
                  M26 Pershing: Has a lot to offer, if one accepts the argument that the M26 of this period probably did not have many mechanical issues. 90mm gun with good HE and AP (even better with HVAP), good armour, good survivability for the crew, acceptable cross-country mobility....
                  The 90mm HVAP was a failure. It could not penetrated a Panthers glacis, nevermind a Tiger 2. Another hard nosed round was developed, but arrived too late.
                  Originally posted by cbo View Post
                  Sherman: Even though HVAP is available, the HE issue with the 76mm gun is not solved. Armour is not very good against 75mm anti-tank guns and up. Mobility with the HVSS is decent, reliability and general automotive performance is good with the V8 GAA engine, creature comfort is good as are the chances of surviving a penetration.
                  The Sherman Firefly only has its gun to offer, the rest is just outdated.
                  The many options of various guises of Sherman means that it was still a decent, and incredibly useful tank in 44/5. What is probably very important is that crews and engineers knew this tank, perhaps making it more useful than the design itself.
                  Originally posted by cbo View Post
                  Tiger 2: Too big and unrealiable as a commanders choice.
                  Too big I agree with, too unreliable if only you consider the Panzer IV to be so.
                  Originally posted by cbo View Post
                  Panther G: Too much tank for too little a gun. The gun is not bad for a 75mm weapon, but you would expect more at 45 tons. Mechanically still rather weak and once penetrated, the tank and much of the crew is likely gone. Front armour is good, the rest is not going to hold out the standard threats in this timeframe. Tactical mobility is great, but operational and strategic mobility is not.
                  Totally agreed.
                  Originally posted by cbo View Post
                  T-34: The T34/85 is not carrying its age as good as the Sherman. Creature comforts are not good and survivability is bad. Armour is not going to keep out the most common threats, but firepower is decent and better HE than Sherman and several others. AP is lagging, particularily if you include HVAP and APDS in the comparison. There are better choices here.
                  The T-34-85 was probaly the right tank for the Soviets, wrong for everyone else.
                  Originally posted by cbo View Post
                  IS-2: The limited ammo load is a showstopper as a commanders tank.
                  True, but each hit is a definite killer.
                  Originally posted by cbo View Post
                  Comet: Armour will not stand up to most common threats but the gun is decent, being very good in the AP department with APDS, even though HE is probably still an issue (no HC round until after the war, I think?). In terms of reliability and mobility its a good tank, probably still somewhat cramped as most British tanks of the period.
                  In the West, tanks usually get hit on the turret front and hull sides. The turret front was 4" thick, thus able to cope with most German 75mm's. The Christie suspension meant that the Comet had spaced side armour, ie able to deal with HEAT rounds. The hull front and deck armour were the only real deficiencies of the Comet.
                  Originally posted by cbo View Post
                  Churchill: An infantry tank and nothing more.
                  True. However, the Churchill was generally the right tank for the grind that was NWE. When tanks move faster than infantry they die, even T-34's in 41 when they were the best tank imho.
                  Originally posted by cbo View Post
                  For me, it is Comet vs M26 Pershing with the Pershing having and edge in full-caliber AP firepower (a massive one if we allow the T33 round). If we allow 90mm HVAP into the equation, it also wins in sub-caliber. Pershing also wins HE. M26 armour is better than Comet, survivability may be a toss-up. If one assumes that new and well-maintained M26s were in fact reliable, the two are also equal there. The Comet has the advantage in mobility due to engine power and steering and probably better ground-pressure figures.
                  We can ignore the 90mm HVAP since it was no more effective than a standard AP round. The 90mm HE round was also less effective than the Shermans 75mm HE round.

                  The British '77mm' HE round was better than the Shermans 75mm round, and therefore better than the Pershings HE. Its APDS was better than the APCR round of the 90mm. Where the M26 outshines the Comet is on its glacis, being totally superior. In every other important respect, the Comet is superior.
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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

                    As far as Commanders tanks are concerned, Churchills and Shermans are the only two viable options imho.

                    I will be doing a series of polls using a specific tank variant during specific campaigns.
                    Now that I understand the parameters (National Planning is the level we are at here, with Production and doctrine added into the mix... ) I would like to split my vote between the Pershing and the IS-2.

                    Thanks CbO, saved me a lot of digging there.

                    I would prefer the best possible tank that is feasible under the circumstances.
                    Even if I had an unlimited supply of properly trained men in the pipeline and had zero regard for the lives of everyone under my command, I would prefer to win by doing the most damage to the enemy while taking the least myself... instead of the human-wave routine.
                    And having to rely on a constant supply of replacement vehicles seems wasteful as well. Every new tank that has to be shipped is 30-60 tons of other supplies that are not making the trip.

                    And since everyone post-war seemed to agree, to some extent, I feel confident that I am right about that.
                    "Why is the Rum gone?"

                    -Captain Jack

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                      I thought Operation Sentry started April, but it turns out the Centurions did not reach Europe until 14th May 45. However, it does mean they were available.

                      Anyway, +1 for making me check .
                      After careful consideration, no senior commander is going to want just one tank design. Depending on designation, there will be a need for both a breakthrough/infantry tank and an exploitation/cavalry tank. For the USSR this translated as IS-2 & T-34, for the UK Churchill & Comet, and the USA M26 & M4. The USSR would've switched to T-44 (or even T-54) if the end wasn't obviously in sight.

                      At this point in the war, the question is not "what do I gain by having a better design?", but "what do I lose?" For the British, the Comet was sufficiently similar to other designs to not cause a problem, however, the designs it replaced were POSs of various worth. For anyone else, it would require a chunk of time to fit it into the system (unless the OP posits a magic wand and everything is in place).

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                        New power pack with a powerful 520 hp flat opposed diesel engine.
                        Everything I've read about the V-44 in the T-44 indicates it's a V-12 like the V-2 whence it was derived?

                        Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                        Panther G, still. It was an excellent machine, and the Germans screwed up royally by getting distracted into the Tiger I, Tiger II, Elefant and other dreams of grandeur.
                        Tiger I predates the Panther, of course...

                        Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                        Only the Sherman was regarded as "irreplaceable" despite it's overwhelming faults and inadequacies as the war went on.
                        Work on replacing the Sherman was begun in the spring of 1942, two to three months after the first Sherman was accepted. In late 1942 MG Jacob Devers, at the time commanding the Armored Force, recommended that Sherman production be shut down if necessary to more quickly field the the medium tank M7, which was anticipated to replace the Sherman (until it was found to be not as good). Clearly the Sherman itself wasn't regarded as "irreplaceable."

                        Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
                        For anyone else, it would require a chunk of time to fit it into the system (unless the OP posits a magic wand and everything is in place).
                        For instance, the T26E3 was all but overwhelming for the bridging resources possessed by the US Army engineers...


                        Edit:
                        Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                        The '77mm' was extremely accurate, and the plentiful apds was effective, making it far better than the 76mm, but more powerful guns were needed.
                        77 mm APDS was more accurate than previous versions--although still not as accurate as APCBC--but it doesn't seem to have been that plentiful. Taylor in Firing Now says of 77 mm APDS: "The new APDS ammunition was in very short supply when the Comet became operational in December 1944; the first few rounds had only been trialled at Lulworth that month, and only 1500 rounds were allocated to allow 29th Armoured Brigade to 'shoot in' their tanks on training ranges. Operationally from February 1945 only about 10% of shot carried was APDS, the rest being APCBC."
                        Last edited by DogDodger; 10 Dec 16, 20:54.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by DogDodger View Post
                          77 mm APDS was more accurate than previous versions--although still not as accurate as APCBC--but it doesn't seem to have been that plentiful. Taylor in Firing Now says of 77 mm APDS: "The new APDS ammunition was in very short supply when the Comet became operational in December 1944; the first few rounds had only been trialled at Lulworth that month, and only 1500 rounds were allocated to allow 29th Armoured Brigade to 'shoot in' their tanks on training ranges. Operationally from February 1945 only about 10% of shot carried was APDS, the rest being APCBC."
                          Would you accept relatively plentiful, given that Comets usually had a few APDS rounds when US Sherman crews struggled to find any APCR?
                          Originally posted by cbo View Post
                          Several people have stated that the Pershings suffered from automotive issues while serving as brand new tanks in NW Europe in 1945.The prototypes certainly had some issues, but as I understand it, they were dealt with before production the T26E3 went into production as the M26. I dont recall mention of any serious automotive issues during its brief service in NW Europe.

                          The first tanks to go into combat in North Korea in 1950 were old and worn out tanks from storage which proved rather temperamental, but you can hardly fault the design as such nor those tanks available in 1945 on those grounds.

                          The only real issue seems to be that the M26 was somewhat underpowered with the 500hp Ford V8 GAF engine, but it still provided the Pershing with about 12 hp pr. ton, which was not that bad compared with tanks like the Tiger I and II, Panzer IV, non-V8 Shermans etc. It probably stacks up quite well with the Panther as well, considering that the HL230 engine was restricted to 2500 RPM, reducing the output to a good deal less than the nominal 700 HP.

                          Does anyone have a solid source suggesting that the Zebra Mission and other NW Europe M26 had mechanical issues?
                          You need to get yourself a copy of Hunnicutt. You'll need to mortgage your house to do so, but it does give substance to the view that M26's were unreliable in Europe, despite the awesomeness of the US logistical services.

                          On a brighter note, I see that Hunnicutts book on the Sherman is available at an almost reasonable price .

                          https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sherman-His...=hunnicutt+m26
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                          • #43
                            77mm APDS was the same projectile as the 17 pounder, so the improvement in accuracy was simply down to the 77mm being an inherently more accurate gun. 10% allocation of APDS in NWE is correct, the War Office requirement being 20%. I'm quite surprised that APDS was being used to "shoot in" the gun, seeing what this ammunition did as regards barrel wear.

                            I believe that there is a comprehensive book due very soon on the Comet which, among much else, will include a table of the relative accuracy of the APCBC and APDS ammunition.
                            "Looting would not be tolerated within the Division, unless organised with the knowledge of C.O.'s on a unit basis."
                            - 15/19 Hussars War Diary, 18th March 1945

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by cbo View Post
                              Several people have stated that the Pershings suffered from automotive issues while serving as brand new tanks in NW Europe in 1945.The prototypes certainly had some issues, but as I understand it, they were dealt with before production the T26E3 went into production as the M26. I dont recall mention of any serious automotive issues during its brief service in NW Europe.

                              The first tanks to go into combat in North Korea in 1950 were old and worn out tanks from storage which proved rather temperamental, but you can hardly fault the design as such nor those tanks available in 1945 on those grounds.

                              The only real issue seems to be that the M26 was somewhat underpowered with the 500hp Ford V8 GAF engine, but it still provided the Pershing with about 12 hp pr. ton, which was not that bad compared with tanks like the Tiger I and II, Panzer IV, non-V8 Shermans etc. It probably stacks up quite well with the Panther as well, considering that the HL230 engine was restricted to 2500 RPM, reducing the output to a good deal less than the nominal 700 HP.

                              Does anyone have a solid source suggesting that the Zebra Mission and other NW Europe M26 had mechanical issues?
                              The passage in Pershing Nick refers to might be the one stating that two Zebra Mission T26E3s "suffered main engine failures. The first was serial number 27 from Lieutenant Gimball's platoon followed by number 37 assigned to Company I of the 33rd Armored Regiment. Both vehicles were repaired and recommitted to action on March 5th." So 10% of the Zebra Mission tanks suffered from unspecified main engine breakdowns, but as Baily notes, "The fact that the T26 suffered from relatively few teething problems in the field is a tribute to the thorough testing insisted upon by Armored and AGF officers." Agree that caution should be shown in the use of early Korean Pershings as reliability benchmarks, although according to the quote from the Marine in Estes's book it may have taken a deft hand to drive it without causing a breakdown.

                              Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                              Would you accept relatively plentiful, given that Comets usually had a few APDS rounds when US Sherman crews struggled to find any APCR?
                              It's of course acceptable that at 10% of shot loadout, 77 mm APDS was apparently more plentiful than 76 mm HVAP.

                              Originally posted by Don Juan View Post
                              I believe that there is a comprehensive book due very soon on the Comet which, among much else, will include a table of the relative accuracy of the APCBC and APDS ammunition.
                              Looking forward to this. Unfortunately, a comprehensive book on the Challenger still resides in my 35-strong "to read" pile.

                              And TAG, I forgot to mention in the earlier post: the T-44 is an intriguing choice.

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                                You need to get yourself a copy of Hunnicutt. You'll need to mortgage your house to do so, but it does give substance to the view that M26's were unreliable in Europe, despite the awesomeness of the US logistical services.
                                I have it. I couldn't find anything suggesting the M26 in NW Europe had anywhere near the problems it would later be recorded to have in Korea. Considering that we are dealing with the very first production models of a new tank, the record seems very impressive. Certainly no where near the rolling disasters of, say, early Churchills or early Panthers.

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