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  • Honeys

    I am reading "Brazen Chariots" by Robert Crisp. This book is Crisp's account of the early war in the western desert against the Afrika Corps. He was a tank Commander and tells his story. The book is very interesting and you desert war types should check it out.

    Crisp tells of how they fell in love with the M3 Stewart Tank when it first arrived in the desert from the USA. The tank was better than anything the British had at the time and after test driving one they liked it so much they called it a "Honey" and the name stuck. From then on the M3 was referred to as the Honey.

    Unfortunately, not long after falling in love with the Honey they found out that some of the German tanks were superior to their beloved Honey. I guess at that point the Honey becomes the "Yes Dear".


    Last edited by Miss Saigon; 20 Sep 07, 20:40.


  • #2
    Of course, the light tank M3 was just that--a light tank. Comparing it to German medium tanks immediately puts it at a disadvantage, just like the referenced marital argument...

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    • #3
      Most of the British tank units that went to Greece and then returned to Egypt in late may and early June missed the initial encounters against the Germans in the drive across Cyrenaica in April and May of 1941. This also meant that they missed taking part in the Operation Brevity and the Battleaxe where the British fought the PZ IIIG (predominantly) for the first time. Against this tank the British could fiield the Crusader I and it CS (Close Support) variant. While the Crusader had some mechanical problems it was, in fact, a fair match for the Pz IIIG except that British "method" was considerably behind that of the Germans.

      That summer, while both sides paused to build up their forces and re-equip, the M3 Stuart Light Tank arrived from America. It was mechanically sound and well made but its gun was a bit too small for the battlefield of 1941 (as was the British 2 pounder). It was also designed as a reconnaissance tank and not meant to be fighting the main line of the enemy. Still, it was all the US had to offer the hard pressed British and it was happily accepted.

      During Operation Crusader in Novemeber-December 1941, the Stuart equipped one of three British armoured brigades in 7th armoured division. The other two brigades were equipped with the Crusader I and the newer Crusader II (more armour) and with these tanks the British moved out engage the German-Italian army in Libya. On the German side they had begun receiving the Pz IIIH (or had earlier models upgraded to equal the "H") and the two sides then set about fighting each other for more than two weeks in a wild melee in the desert.

      By the end of the month the British had outlasted the Germans in the dogfight and along with some errors commited by Rommel that arguably cost him the battle, forced the Germans to retreat. The M3 Stuart fought along side the British for the entire battle but it was soon recognised as being too light for open combat. Within another month or two it was re-assigned to a mainly scouting and flank guard role in brigades soon equipped with the heavier M3 Medium from America (the Grant tanks). By late 1942 they were only used in a "light" tank brigade at Alamein and spent the rest of the war as a recon vehicle in both US and Commonwealth units (exactly what it was designed for).

      Quite a success story.
      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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      • #4
        Originally posted by The Purist View Post
        Most of the British tank units that went to Greece and then returned to Egypt in late may and early June missed the initial encounters against the Germans in the drive across Cyrenaica in April and May of 1941. This also meant that they missed taking part in the Operation Brevity and the Battleaxe where the British fought the PZ IIIG (predominantly) for the first time. Against this tank the British could fiield the Crusader I and it CS (Close Support) variant. While the Crusader had some mechanical problems it was, in fact, a fair match for the Pz IIIG except that British "method" was considerably behind that of the Germans.

        That summer, while both sides paused to build up their forces and re-equip, the M3 Stuart Light Tank arrived from America. It was mechanically sound and well made but its gun was a bit too small for the battlefield of 1941 (as was the British 2 pounder). It was also designed as a reconnaissance tank and not meant to be fighting the main line of the enemy. Still, it was all the US had to offer the hard pressed British and it was happily accepted.

        During Operation Crusader in Novemeber-December 1941, the Stuart equipped one of three British armoured brigades in 7th armoured division. The other two brigades were equipped with the Crusader I and the newer Crusader II (more armour) and with these tanks the British moved out engage the German-Italian army in Libya. On the German side they had begun receiving the Pz IIIH (or had earlier models upgraded to equal the "H") and the two sides then set about fighting each other for more than two weeks in a wild melee in the desert.

        By the end of the month the British had outlasted the Germans in the dogfight and along with some errors commited by Rommel that arguably cost him the battle, forced the Germans to retreat. The M3 Stuart fought along side the British for the entire battle but it was soon recognised as being too light for open combat. Within another month or two it was re-assigned to a mainly scouting and flank guard role in brigades soon equipped with the heavier M3 Medium from America (the Grant tanks). By late 1942 they were only used in a "light" tank brigade at Alamein and spent the rest of the war as a recon vehicle in both US and Commonwealth units (exactly what it was designed for).

        Quite a success story.
        The Stuart had durable, and low maintainence tracks, chassis and drive train. It's gun was gyro-stablized so that it could fire accurately while on the move, even over rough terrain. Later in the war, it was decided to upgrade the model and it came down to either replacing the Stuart's turret with one mounting a larger 57mm gun, or adopting the totally new M-24 Chaffee Light Tank with a low velocity 75mm gun. The US chose the Chaffee and were stuck with the attendant teething troubles common in all tanks. The Stuart continued to soldier on for the remainder of the war with the M-5, which was simply an upgrade to the older M-3. The Chaffee went on to fight in Korea and with the French in Vietnam.
        "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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        • #5
          I think Uruguay still use M3's and M5's.
          Winnie says
          ---------------------------------
          "He fell out of a Gestapo car, over a bridge, and onto a railway line. Then was run over by the Berlin Express.

          It was an Accident."
          Herr Flick.

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          • #6
            All of this is a new area to me. Obviously you guys know more about this than I do. Right now in the book we are in the midst of Crusader. Clearly the Honey crews are having to adapt to the deficiencies and fight to their advantage. Primarily using speed to keep from being a good target and trying to maneuver behind the superior German tanks. Crisp is very impressed that it doesn't throw the tracks easily like earlier British tanks.

            This is the first combat memoir I have read outside of the Vietnam war and it is also my introduction to the WWII war in the desert. As such I am finding it quite interesting. Quite a bit different than the combat in VN. I have always preferred the memoir format to the school text type format for these things because they focus on the human experience. So far so good.

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            • #7
              Acquaintence of mine who went on to serve in combat in ROK and VN as a project SGM was a motorcycle scout with an early TD outfit.
              Halftracks with 75s.
              He remarks on the helpless feelings they had at the time when Germans had total superiority. Air, armor and artillery.
              Little of our initial equipment was of much use.
              He went thru Italy with a M 20 outfit.
              He said he had an "AD" and bounced a couple .50s off the tower of Pisa.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Miss.Saigon View Post
                All of this is a new area to me. Obviously you guys know more about this than I do. Right now in the book we are in the midst of Crusader. Clearly the Honey crews are having to adapt to the deficiencies and fight to their advantage. Primarily using speed to keep from being a good target and trying to maneuver behind the superior German tanks. Crisp is very impressed that it doesn't throw the tracks easily like earlier British tanks.

                This is the first combat memoir I have read outside of the Vietnam war and it is also my introduction to the WWII war in the desert. As such I am finding it quite interesting. Quite a bit different than the combat in VN. I have always preferred the memoir format to the school text type format for these things because they focus on the human experience. So far so good.
                You picked an excellent book to learn from and I know that you'll enjoy it!
                "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by johnbryan View Post
                  You picked an excellent book to learn from and I know that you'll enjoy it!
                  I will finish tonight. Yes, it has been a good book. I like the memoir format.

                  You have to admit, as tanks go the Honey is a cute one

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Miss.Saigon View Post
                    I will finish tonight. Yes, it has been a good book. I like the memoir format.

                    You have to admit, as tanks go the Honey is a cute one
                    Yes, it's a classic, I remember after reading it the first time, I went out and bought a Honey model, Airfix IIRC, many years ago..................
                    Eternal War(gaming) Armoured Struggle Car Bob

                    History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis.
                    Lazarus Long

                    Draw the blinds on yesterday and it's all so much scarier....
                    David Bowie

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