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Best tank for Infantry Support

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  • Best tank for Infantry Support

    I have seen many debates as to which of the four "common" tanks was the best, but the discussions seem to concentrate on how good each tank was against other tanks.

    I imagine that most tanks of these types also spent much time in supporting their infrantry in more mundane tasks, such as suppressing enemy infantry, taking on fortified building etc.

    I know that there were special tanks dedicated to just doing these types of tasks, but of the four tanks I've listed, which one do peoople think was the best for this type of task?
    12
    Panther
    0.00%
    0
    Panzer IV
    8.33%
    1
    Sherman
    66.67%
    8
    T-34
    25.00%
    3

  • #2
    Churchill

    I'd have to say Churchill, it was well armoured and could climb obstacles that were thought impossible by the Gemans.

    The many variants ie funnies, allowed it to operate in a number of roles including Crocodile-flamethrower, fascine-carrier, petard for bunker busting, carpetlayer, bridgelayer etc. Used from Dieppe, through NA and Italy, and NWE until the end of the war.

    WHOOPS-just noticed this was a poll and Churchill wasn't included. I'd say Churchill was better at infantry support than those listed anyways
    Last edited by Canuckster; 12 Sep 07, 23:48.

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    • #3
      I very nearly added the Churchill, but didn't for two reasons.

      1) Most polls about the best tank of WWII only list the 4 I did have (with the Tiger also being frequently added). I think that by only looking at tank vs tank abilities the a large component is being ignored.

      2) My knowledge of British WWII tanks is not that great. I though the Churchill would be the equivalent to the others (obviously the British did use large numbers of Shermans), but wasn't really sure.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Canuckster View Post
        I'd have to say Churchill, it was well armoured and could climb obstacles that were thought impossible by the Gemans.

        The many variants ie funnies, allowed it to operate in a number of roles including Crocodile-flamethrower, fascine-carrier, petard for bunker busting, carpetlayer, bridgelayer etc. Used from Dieppe, through NA and Italy, and NWE until the end of the war.

        WHOOPS-just noticed this was a poll and Churchill wasn't included. I'd say Churchill was better at infantry support than those listed anyways
        I second that. The Crocodile was the best infantry support tank of the war. Its thick armor (it's hull front is 152mm thick! For comparison, the Tiger I's hull front is 100mm thick) enable it to better survive against infantry anti-tank weapons as it closes in for the kill. Its flame-thrower was the most deadly way of clearing fire-holes. And it still had a 75mm gun to deliver HE rounds against other defensive positions.

        But of course, it wasn't very good against tanks, but this wasn't what it was meant for.

        Wikipedia has a good article on it:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churchill_Crocodile

        I think it should have been added to the poll, and I'm voting for it anyway.
        Last edited by Ogukuo72; 13 Sep 07, 04:11.

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        • #5
          I voted Sherman, but would have gone for the Churchill if it had been offered. This tank was designed to support Infantrymen and it's crews were trained for the job.
          Maybe for the Jerries you'd have been better going for a couple of fillies from the Stug stable?
          Last edited by Von Richter; 13 Sep 07, 04:36.
          The long toll of the brave
          Is not lost in darkness
          Over the fruitful earth
          And athwart the seas
          Hath passed the light of noble deeds
          Unquenchable forever.

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          • #6
            you can count me in for a absentee vote for the Churchill , i think maybe you should have picked different tanks than what you ended up with but....its not my post, so shut-up Galland!!!!!!!

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            • #7
              Even if the Churchill had been included I would still have chosen the Sherman, much as I like the Churchill. Anything the Churchill could do the Sherman could also do and, by dint of its design, do it faster. Iirc the Sherman had better cross-country performance and was more reliable than its more heavily armoured British rival.
              Signing out.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                Even if the Churchill had been included I would still have chosen the Sherman, much as I like the Churchill. Anything the Churchill could do the Sherman could also do and, by dint of its design, do it faster. Iirc the Sherman had better cross-country performance and was more reliable than its more heavily armoured British rival.
                It seems the preference for using either advantages of Churchill or Sherman (handling rugged terrain vs speed) would depend upon the type of terrain encountered or phase of battle (initial assault or break-out).

                The following quotes comes from Gerry Chester of North Irish Horse’s website. Interesting aside is that NIH's 6pder Churchills knocked out the first Tigers (Tunisia) and Panthers (Hitler Line) for the Western Allies.

                The actions at Dieppe (of the fourteen Calgary Regiment's fatalities two were killed in their tanks) and later by KingForce at El Alamein, proved that the Churchill could withstand a great deal of damage making it a safer tank to crew than its thinner-skinned sisters. Given this knowledge, when committed to full-scale action in Tunisia, crews found their confidence in the capabilities of their vehicles was not misplaced, rather it was reinforced upon discovering Churchills were capable of knocking out Tigers, the first tanks so to do.

                The Hitler Line battle demonstrated how unsuitable Shermans were in an initial assault role, which raises the question, why were they used? The answer, the NIH had no choice but to deploy them due to a decision reached while the regiment was still harboured in Algeria. The original intention was that units of the two Tank Brigades would be fully equipped with Mark IV 6-pdr Churchills (except for two CS versions per squadron) prior to shipment to Italy, however, due to many of the intended replacements being diverted to be fitted with Sherman 75mm guns, the North Irish Horse resultant war establishment shortage was made up by eighteen Shermans. The conversions, initially titled as Churchills Mark VI then as Churchills Na75, were not delivered until some weeks after the Hitler Line battle.

                For a tank that created so much fear in the minds of Allied tank crews, readers may wonder how possibly could Churchills get the better of Tigers. The short answer, the Churchill was well suited to do battle in the terrain of Tunisia and Italy, the Tiger was not.

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                • #9
                  For a strict infantry support tank I would also choose the Churchill,...with the realisation that Sherman was a better all around vehicle. However, speed is not all that important in the support or assault role thus the nod to Churchill. By virtue of its armour and all around traverse turret it is superior to the German and Red Army AGs and the US Sherman 105.
                  The Purist

                  Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                    Iirc the Sherman had better cross-country performance and was more reliable than its more heavily armoured British rival.
                    Not sure about the cross-country bit - I have seen a quote from a captured German in Tunisia complaining about how using the Churchill was unsporting as it got to positions that they believed tanks couldn't reach

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                    • #11
                      I will put my money on the Churchill as well although the Sherman get high marks from me also.
                      "War is hell, but actual combat is a motherf#cker"
                      - Col. David Hackworth

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                      • #12
                        It's a hard choice between Churchill Croc or PzIV

                        Both tanks were extremely flexible and clearly were reliable platforms.

                        But when you look at the Crocs heavy armour, decent main weapon, and the flame thrower as well, well the thing is a total infantry menace.

                        And the question was "best infantry support tank", so how well it did against a Tiger is not even relevant.
                        Life is change. Built models for decades.
                        Not sure anyone here actually knows the real me.
                        I didn't for a long time either.

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                        • #13
                          I have to say the Sherman, infantry support is where it really shone. My first choice would have been the early model StuG-IIIs, before it was turned into a tank destroyer. Honorable mention to the Churchill, for it's heavy armor and the IS-2 for its big ass 122mm gun. I'm not positive but I think I remember them being very effective in this role during the assault on the Seelow Heights.
                          "Artillery lends dignity to what might otherwise be a vulgar brawl." - Frederick the Great

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                          • #14
                            Of the four tanks I listed, the Sherman is the overwhelming leader in the poll.

                            What makes it better than the others for infantry support?

                            Thanks

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Aries View Post
                              It's a hard choice between Churchill Croc or PzIV

                              Both tanks were extremely flexible and clearly were reliable platforms.

                              But when you look at the Crocs heavy armour, decent main weapon, and the flame thrower as well, well the thing is a total infantry menace.

                              And the question was "best infantry support tank", so how well it did against a Tiger is not even relevant.
                              Not relevant, you are correct, but included as an interesting side note. Not much talk about the Churchill on this site. The quotes do highlight that Churchill could go where other tanks couldn't and could take a lot of punishment, both important in supporting infantry. Gerry Chester fought in Churchills so has a pretty good perspective on it's capabilities.

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