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Rnd 4 - M4 Sherman (USA) vs Centurion (Britain)

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  • #91
    Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
    ... That might perhaps account for some of the participants voting in favor of the Sherman rather than the Centurion. Perhaps.
    In the hopes of being annoying and redundant I'll share my reasons for voting for the M4. It was fielded by almost every major Allied combatant. It turned out, for whatever reasons, to be a durable, reliable, versatile machine which was relatively easy to repair and manufacture in numbers. Logistically and strategically these factors led to an armor rich battlefield for those using the M4. (Count on seeing that phrase again folks; I like it.) In a nutshell this tank, like the T-34, was instrumental in winning the biggest conflagration in mankind, a war that shaped history for many years to come. This influence on history can not, IMHO be matched by the influence on tank design of any tank save one. This influence on world history can be matched or surpassed by only one tank. The Centurion may be a good design (I guess great by those voting here) for Britain and the countries that used it, it fought in a number of conflicts but I don't see either of these coming even close to the influence I've described for the M4. We are talking 4000+ Centurions vs. 49,000+ Shermans. Of course the numbers in this poll perplex me...but then that happens often in my life.
    Last edited by JBark; 16 Sep 14, 16:14.
    John

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    • #92
      Originally posted by 101combatvet View Post
      Who in their right mind would vote for the T-55? The T-55 is just the T-34 on steroids, junk. Get it now?

      The T-54 had many issues. HOWEVER, the T-55 fixed almost all of these.

      Compared to the M4 it was built in vastly greater numbers.
      Compared to the M4 it served in more armies.
      Compared to the M4 it served on the front line for longer by choice rather than scraping together what was available.
      Compared to almost any M4 it was superior on every hard attribute by far - firepower, armour and mobility.
      The T-55 was an extremely simple design, and why it remains extremely useful when used by countries with troops of less technological countries.

      The M4 is the 'Thompson Smg' when compared to the T-55's 'AK-47'. The Thompson is a fine weapon but compared to the AK-47, it is more comfortable, but also more costly and without additional ability.

      War is more about cost than comfort.

      Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
      I find it odd that many people who voted in the last round for the Centurion are voting against it now?

      Last round, its opponent was the T-55, the most massed produced tank in history. It was an okay tank, reliable with average ability, but otherwise only remarkable for numbers fielded and armies served with. The same attributes apply to the Sherman. Some regular posters in the tank section in WW2, who voted M4 here, such as JBark and DogDodger, did vote T-55. As such, I might not agree with their criteria, but they are acting consistently, and therefore with integrity . The others may want to reply why they voted Centurion last time and M4 this round?
      Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
      If I may speculate here, what you say about the M4's performance is correct, but since it was a product of "production design," the M4 may very well have influenced developments not only in mechanized armor, but the very manufacturing process as it then existed. I have no expertise about British armor, but if the Centurion was designed and manufactured like the products of the British automotive industry, it would only stand to reason that the Centurion faced some of the same production and quality-control difficulties that were noted at BSA/Triumph, Jaguar, Sunbeam, etc. So while the Centurion had a fair number of admirable attributes, its method of production would not have been one of them. That might perhaps account for some of the participants voting in favor of the Sherman rather than the Centurion. Perhaps.
      Not a chance

      British tank designs 1940-42/3 were a joke, culminating in the A15 Crusader. The Crusader proved that being better than the enemy on most hard factors means nothing. Crusaders beat PzIII's on firepower and mobility, but if the reliability was not there, those attributes fail to reach the equation. Much of this was understandable. Most of it was simply incompetence at all levels, especially at the cabinet level including Winston himself.

      British tanks were certainly superior to US tanks post D-Day. The basic Cromwell was better than the standard 75mm Sherman. The Comet was better than the best overall M4 in the ETO, the M4A3E8. The Churchill was better than any Jumbo, specifically due to fewer losses, and it had the ability to go anywhere.

      Department of Tank Design.
      Once the British had combined the whole process of what was needed, how to achieve this requirement, and then how to produce this under one roof, we have the Centurion.

      Other tanks have shaped the world (a little) due to their reflection in their countries effective war economy. The M4 and T-55 have certainly done that. The T-34 has gone much further in the fact that as soon it was met by its opposition, they thought of copying it.

      The Centurions input is different. It has never been a tank that has proven Britain 'Great'. The Centurion might be a British tank, but it is truly international. The Centurion is well beyond the original British initial Universal/MBT design, but a platform for various countries around the world to look to to defend their land.

      Rather than a reflection on a countries ability to mass produce designs, the Centurion is a tank that can always be improved upon to win .
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      • #93
        Originally posted by flash View Post
        The M4 was omnipotent during WW2 but I don't believe that is due to it being a good tank, in 1942 it could hold its own with any axis tank and was a much needed tonic to hard pressed allied Tankies in the desert.
        Unfortunately it didn't move with the times and come 1944 the enemy had deployed their next generation of tanks and Atk guns.
        It remained in service in vast numbers with many countries post war but was that due only to availability I wonder?
        The Israelis bought up excess stock from any seller,I'm sure they would have opted for new kit such as M26 and Centurion but this option wasn't open to them so they persevered and made a pretty good fist of the M4,eventually coming up with the M51 which was similar to the M4 only in shape and suspension,how much of this was due to the constant threat of annihilation from her neighbours is open to speculation.
        Israel did at the first opportunity start importing newer and better AFVs from the West thus giving the lie to the theory that the M4 in its various guises was considered to be good enough by the Israeli armoured forces.

        Funnily enough,one of the Western tanks imported by the Israelis to replace the M4 was the Centurion and once provided with a diesel drivetrain became a war winner for them.

        I don't subscribe to the view that because the British deployed a heavy tank to fight alongside the Centurion that that somehow relegates it to a lesser role.The Conqueror was designed to stop the V heavy Sov tanks such as the T10m, a role that would soon be performed by Atk missiles.
        The 20 pdr gun of the early 50s Centurion was superbly accurate and hard hitting but it was feared that it would not penetrate the frontal arc of the latest Sov monsters, as soon as the 105mm entered service the 120mm of the Conqueror became unnecessary.
        Claiming that the Centurion was not an MBT because there was a heavier tank available is akin to claiming that the M1A1 is not an MBT because there are vehicles using TOW missiles.
        As a small aside,Israeli tankers liked the Cent because it had electric turret traverse as opposed to the hydraulic system used on the famous M48/60 series,this was much less apt to catch fire.

        I vote Centurion.
        The fact that the Centurion served alongside a heavy tank does not relegate it to any "lesser role," but it does mean it was not a main battle tank, which by definition is a vehicle that combined the attributes of medium and heavy tanks, making the separate classes redundant. An MBT is not simply the most numerous tank in a nation's inventory; it's a specific postwar construct that eliminated both the medium and heavy tank classes. The simile that the Abrams is not an MBT due to TOWs being around is nonsensical in this debate, since there are no heavy or medium or infantry tanks along with which the M1 was intended to serve.

        The Centurion timeline again: March 1943, a request was made for a new medium cruiser and a heavy cruiser. In September 1943 the requirements for the heavy cruiser, which would become the Centurion, were set. But work on infantry tanks continued unabated--specifications for the A43 infantry tank, aka the Black Prince, weren't issued until December 1943, i.e., after the Centurion design had seen much progress. After the war, the British immediately tried to replace the Centurion with a vehicle (A45/FV201) that was intended from the start to be a universal tank. This project amounted to nothing, but a heavy tank grew out of related work and entered service alongside the Centurion until 1967--after Chieftain was debuted. With these facts in mind, how can we say that the Centurion was intended to be a universal or main battle tank, especially with its road range of only 60 miles?

        Regarding Israeli use, initially Centurion was heartily disliked by its crews and it experienced reliability issues in early Israeli service. I get the implication from your post that the fact that Israel modified Shermans in its service somehow is a strike against that vehicle? We shouldn't forget, of course, that it also modified the Centurions. That seems like a bit of cognitive dissonance: Centurion drivetrains and main guns were changed as well. And it's not like the two tanks were not used concurrently in the IDF; M51s took part in the 1973 war and served until the early 1980s.

        Again, I do not feel that the Centurion is a bad tank; far from it. And compared with the M4 it's better-armored and (on average) harder-hitting. Of course, it should be as it's a generation newer design. From my reading and looking at the timeline of British tank development, though, claiming that it was designed as an MBT or universal tank is more than a stretch. What we're left with is another late-war tank that was upgraded to serve for a long period, similar to M26/46/47 or T-44/54/55, but not in the numbers or breadth of those vehicles.

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        • #94
          Originally posted by DogDodger View Post
          "The fact that the Centurion served alongside a heavy tank does not relegate it to any "lesser role," but it does mean it was not a main battle tank, which by definition is a vehicle that combined the attributes of medium and heavy tanks, making the separate classes redundant. An MBT is not simply the most numerous tank in a nation's inventory; it's a specific postwar construct that eliminated both the medium and heavy tank classes.
          Perfectly stated, Chris. I could not have said it better myself. +1.

          After the British did away with their heavy tanks, the Centurion continued in service (if not with the British for all that long, then certainly with other countries) for a very considerable time and along with the appropriate upgrades, IMO we might reasonably argue that it effectively became an MBT; but it certainly did not start life as an MBT, and it wasn't going to be an MBT in British service so long as they maintained a heavy tank class in their OOB.

          As you quite correctly say, this is part of the very definition of the Main Battle Tank.
          "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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          • #95
            OK, time to show my hand ....

            Voted for the Sherman. Not an easy decision. The final tipping point for me - apart from sheer numbers - was that the M4 was IMO arguably one of the two most important tanks of WW2 and being of such significance and influence as a tank in that World War.

            The other three polls in this round present no difficulty whatsoever for me.
            "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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            • #96
              If just two people had voted consistently, say the first two voting M4 on the list above, the Centurion would be in front. This is certainly one poll where the outcome is not related to the actual topic at hand.
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              • #97
                Originally posted by DogDodger View Post
                The fact that the Centurion served alongside a heavy tank does not relegate it to any "lesser role," but it does mean it was not a main battle tank, which by definition is a vehicle that combined the attributes of medium and heavy tanks, making the separate classes redundant. An MBT is not simply the most numerous tank in a nation's inventory; it's a specific postwar construct that eliminated both the medium and heavy tank classes. The simile that the Abrams is not an MBT due to TOWs being around is nonsensical in this debate, since there are no heavy or medium or infantry tanks along with which the M1 was intended to serve.

                The Centurion timeline again: March 1943, a request was made for a new medium cruiser and a heavy cruiser. In September 1943 the requirements for the heavy cruiser, which would become the Centurion, were set. But work on infantry tanks continued unabated--specifications for the A43 infantry tank, aka the Black Prince, weren't issued until December 1943, i.e., after the Centurion design had seen much progress. After the war, the British immediately tried to replace the Centurion with a vehicle (A45/FV201) that was intended from the start to be a universal tank. This project amounted to nothing, but a heavy tank grew out of related work and entered service alongside the Centurion until 1967--after Chieftain was debuted. With these facts in mind, how can we say that the Centurion was intended to be a universal or main battle tank, especially with its road range of only 60 miles?

                Regarding Israeli use, initially Centurion was heartily disliked by its crews and it experienced reliability issues in early Israeli service. I get the implication from your post that the fact that Israel modified Shermans in its service somehow is a strike against that vehicle? We shouldn't forget, of course, that it also modified the Centurions. That seems like a bit of cognitive dissonance: Centurion drivetrains and main guns were changed as well. And it's not like the two tanks were not used concurrently in the IDF; M51s took part in the 1973 war and served until the early 1980s.

                Again, I do not feel that the Centurion is a bad tank; far from it. And compared with the M4 it's better-armored and (on average) harder-hitting. Of course, it should be as it's a generation newer design. From my reading and looking at the timeline of British tank development, though, claiming that it was designed as an MBT or universal tank is more than a stretch. What we're left with is another late-war tank that was upgraded to serve for a long period, similar to M26/46/47 or T-44/54/55, but not in the numbers or breadth of those vehicles.
                Ok,all very reasoned and valid points DogDodger.
                How about this solution to our little quandary?

                Upon introduction the Centurion was a Cruiser tank because we still used the Churchill and the Cromwell up until the early 50s,neither tank was needed after that so for a brief while the Centurion was the only tank in British service,that is until 1955 when the Conqueror was introduced at a scale of 9 per Regiment and solely to provide long range anti tank cover for the more lightly armed Centurion.
                My reasoning is that the Conqueror was designed specifically to kill Sov heavies,almost a TD in fact.
                Once Cent Mk5s started to be fitted with the L7 105mm in 1959 the Conqueror became superfluous,it was still there for a short while but not needed.
                Perhaps we can agree that the Centurion wasn't always an MBT in British service but was in many other nations OOB.

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                • #98
                  Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                  Rather than a reflection on a countries ability to mass produce designs, the Centurion is a tank that can always be improved upon to win.
                  In a conflict as large and important as WWII the tank which is married to its parent nation's ability to mass produce it in huge numbers, as was the case with the T-34 and M4, is a tank which will be tremendously influential in the outcome of that war. In contrast the Centurion was produced in much smaller numbers, served in a few area conflicts, and like many tanks of the era was imported to several countries. Far less significant historically.

                  Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                  If just two people had voted consistently, say the first two voting M4 on the list above, the Centurion would be in front. This is certainly one poll where the outcome is not related to the actual topic at hand.
                  Applying your own logic to other people's voting, I think, will be a lesson in frustration for all of us.

                  Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                  This is certainly one poll where the outcome is not related to the actual topic at hand.
                  I agree, in reverse.
                  John

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                  • #99
                    Originally posted by panther3485 View Post
                    Voted for the Sherman.
                    Never saw that coming.
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                    • Originally posted by JBark View Post
                      Applying your own logic to other people's voting, I think, will be a lesson in frustration for all of us.
                      Got that right!
                      "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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                      • Originally posted by JBark View Post
                        Applying your own logic to other people's voting, I think, will be a lesson in frustration for all of us.
                        It's not my logic I'm concerned with, but theirs.

                        You, DogDodger and Panther3485 have consistently voted using the same overall criteria, ie what you consider influential/significant. I don't agree with your POV, but I can understand and respect it.

                        What I do not understand is the logic of choosing the Centurion over the T-55 and then choosing the M4 over the Centurion, unless nationalism is concerned.

                        People who voted Centurion last time really should have voted Centurion this time. The Centurion has its strengths as far as this poll is concerned and so does the M4. The strengths of the M4 are extremely similar to that of the T-55, the latter actually being produced in far larger numbers, used by more nations and in front line service out of choice for longer. If you are voting for the M4 here, you should have voted T-55 last time, and consistently for the T-34 in the other polls. That's the true logic.

                        Trying to skew the vote is more political, not truly logical, and as such perhaps this poll should be dumped into the Politics forum .
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                        • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                          What I do not understand is the logic of choosing the Centurion over the T-55 and then choosing the M4 over the Centurion, unless nationalism is concerned.
                          I'm not sure how nationalism would work here since the choices are three separate countries. Can you explain this please?
                          John

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                          • Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
                            If I may speculate here, what you say about the M4's performance is correct, but since it was a product of "production design," the M4 may very well have influenced developments not only in mechanized armor, but the very manufacturing process as it then existed. I have no expertise about British armor, but if the Centurion was designed and manufactured like the products of the British automotive industry, it would only stand to reason that the Centurion faced some of the same production and quality-control difficulties that were noted at BSA/Triumph, Jaguar, Sunbeam, etc. So while the Centurion had a fair number of admirable attributes, its method of production would not have been one of them. That might perhaps account for some of the participants voting in favor of the Sherman rather than the Centurion. Perhaps.
                            The Centurion was the first product of the Dept of Tank Design, who oversaw development of the tank from drawing board to finished product. I don't know about other countries, but this was the first time it was done in Britain, and the right way to go imho. On the other hand the M4 was designed by the Ordnance Department and then tested by the U.S. Armored Force Board.

                            The Centurion was the first successful joined up design to incorporate the very best of the current technology to create something world beating for the next 25 years or so. It still remains a very viable front line tank today, nearly 70 years after first being tested in the field.
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                            • Originally posted by JBark View Post
                              I'm not sure how nationalism would work here since the choices are three separate countries. Can you explain this please?
                              In every case of those who chose the British Centurion over the Soviet T-55 last time, and then chose the USA Sherman over the British Centurion this time have USA flags under their name.

                              I'll let you work it out . It's not rocket science after all .

                              I have no problem with those posters who have kept their integrity. Two other extremely good posters, The Ibis and Stryker 19k30 also voted M4 and T-55. I personally disagree with them as well, but that is about objective opinion, and not some sense of patriotism clouding intellectual capacity.

                              The reason for choosing the M4 over the Centurion is the same as choosing the T-55 over the Centurion. If those posters had voted T-55 in the previous round, then that tank would have won and been here instead of the Centurion. Then I would have nothing to complain about.
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                              • Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                                In every case of those who chose the British Centurion over the Soviet T-55 last time, and then chose the USA Sherman over the British Centurion this time have USA flags under their name.

                                I'll let you work it out . It's not rocket science after all .

                                I have no problem with those posters who have kept their integrity. Two other extremely good posters, The Ibis and Stryker 19k30 also voted M4 and T-55. I personally disagree with them as well, but that is about objective opinion, and not some sense of patriotism clouding intellectual capacity.

                                The reason for choosing the M4 over the Centurion is the same as choosing the T-55 over the Centurion. If those posters had voted T-55 in the previous round, then that tank would have won and been here instead of the Centurion. Then I would have nothing to complain about.
                                So Nick, given the choice between the Centurion vs the T-34 which one would you have picked?

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