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  • #16
    You seem to be touching on one of my points, Nick.

    While the anti-tank role in the US Army was reserved for tank destroyers, the Germans cheated by sending tanks against tanks.

    That was the thrust of my argument against the differing roles - the enemy don't usually play by your rules, and if they have the strength, you're in trouble.
    Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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    • #17
      Originally posted by the ace View Post
      You seem to be touching on one of my points, Nick.

      While the anti-tank role in the US Army was reserved for tank destroyers, the Germans cheated by sending tanks against tanks.

      That was the thrust of my argument against the differing roles - the enemy don't usually play by your rules, and if they have the strength, you're in trouble.
      The list of Jagdpanther, panzerjager, Marders, Jagdtiger, Nashorn, Jagdpanzers and Stugs seems to indicate that Germany had no problem fielding a designated tank destroyers...from a fairly early point in the war.
      John

      Play La Marseillaise. Play it!

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
        What is a tank?
        A tracked afv with a turret designed to carry firepower around the battlefield.

        What is/are the main role(s) of a tank?
        Primarily to bring mobility to an army in the attack, or to quickly reinforce a defence. The tank is usually to provide direct and accurate firepower, and therefore a weapon of precision. It should be noted that weight is not always a good indicator of a tank type's specific role.

        What is a heavy tank and what are its roles?
        A heavy tank is designed to give an army dominance at the tactical level, either through firepower or armour or both. Operational mobility is less important. In the attack, it either spearheads an attack or shoots on overwatch. In defence, a heavy tank is used to blunt an enemies attack.

        What is an infantry tank and what are its roles?
        The infantry tank was initially designed to support the infantry in the attack, and then use its AT weaponary to stave off enemy armoured counter attacks.

        What is a medium tank and what are its roles?
        The Medium is usually an armies standard tank. Its balance of armour, firepower and mobility marks it best for armoured divisions. Therefore it is required to have operational mobility as a major strength.

        What is a cruiser tank and what are its roles?
        The Cruiser was initially intended to be armoured cavalry, and able to operate alone. It had a main gun in one turret and sometimes mg's in one or more seconadary turrets, theoretically enabling the tank to target many and varied targets. Later designs of cruisers saw no real difference between themselves and mediums.

        What is a light tank and what are its roles?
        A light tank is primarily a recon afv, tracked to give it superior cross country performance, and usually has the armour and gun to give it an edge over armoured cars.

        What is a MBT (or Universal tank) and what are its roles?
        The Universal tank combines the infantry and cruiser tank roles. It is a tank that can facilitate a successful assault, and then also has the necessary operational mobility to act in an AD role immediately. The Universal tank is therefore primarily an offensive weapon. The MBT is essentially a heavy tank with mobility and reliability. As its name describes, it can carry out any medium or heavy role.

        Was a MBT or 'Universal' tank a possibility in WW2?
        Very debatable imo. Early in the war, only the T34 came close, and that had too many issues to be successful in such a role. Later in the war, all tanks lacked at least one element to be used as a MBT.

        Could the MBT role be carried out by another class of tank to an acceptable level in all its roles?
        Probably not. There were some good tanks, but none could fulfill ever major niche.

        What are the requirements of different nations concerning tanks?
        Given the vastness of the USSR, the tank was seen as a means of deploying force quickly when needed. Operational mobility and firepower are the most important elements.
        For the Germans, quick victories were imperitive. Therefore, mobility takes centre stage, at least during 1939-41. As important are comms to make sure force can be applied to the right place at the right time.
        The tank for the British meant the ability to win a battle without excessive loss of life. Metal rather than mettle was to be used where possible.
        The US wanted the tank as a purely offensive weapon, TD's were to deal with enemy tanks. Operational mobility and HE capability were the key elements.

        An extremely simplified view of course, and to be continued .

        Feel free to correct any mistakes on my part .
        Nick- Good stuff. What do you see as the difference between the medium and the MBT?

        P.S.- Love the "...Metal rather than mettle..."
        John

        Play La Marseillaise. Play it!

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        • #19
          Originally posted by the ace View Post
          You seem to be touching on one of my points, Nick.

          While the anti-tank role in the US Army was reserved for tank destroyers, the Germans cheated by sending tanks against tanks.

          That was the thrust of my argument against the differing roles - the enemy don't usually play by your rules, and if they have the strength, you're in trouble.

          Of course, we did not play by their rules either. That is why inferior western tanks often defeated greater numbers of superior German afv's.
          Originally posted by JBark View Post
          The list of Jagdpanther, panzerjager, Marders, Jagdtiger, Nashorn, Jagdpanzers and Stugs seems to indicate that Germany had no problem fielding a designated tank destroyers...from a fairly early point in the war.
          After experiences vs the Char B1 bis, Matilda, KV and, of course, the T34's, can you blame them!
          Originally posted by JBark View Post
          Nick- Good stuff. What do you see as the difference between the medium and the MBT?

          P.S.- Love the "...Metal rather than mettle..."
          Main difference between a medium and MBT imo is the level of armour.

          Metal rather than mettle, is a Max Hastings quote, but used in a slightly different context.
          How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
          Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
            What is a MBT (or Universal tank) and what are its roles?
            The Universal tank combines the infantry and cruiser tank roles. It is a tank that can facilitate a successful assault, and then also has the necessary operational mobility to act in an AD role immediately. The Universal tank is therefore primarily an offensive weapon. The MBT is essentially a heavy tank with mobility and reliability. As its name describes, it can carry out any medium or heavy role.

            Was a MBT or 'Universal' tank a possibility in WW2?
            Very debatable imo. Early in the war, only the T34 came close, and that had too many issues to be successful in such a role. Later in the war, all tanks lacked at least one element to be used as a MBT.
            I disagree with this latter answer, basically because I disagree with the previous statement that a MBT has to be a heavy tank, though with higher mobility than a classic heavy tank.

            I think that the definitions above, preceding that final statement, are correct, but that - depending on the opposition - one does not necessarily need to use a heavy tank in order to comply with them with a reasonable chance of success.

            Today, and given the opposition faced by tanks, which includes other tanks but also very dangerous ATGMs, you need a heavy to make a MBT out of it. In WWII, even as late as 1945, you could have a medium tank that was fast, maneuverable, reliable, armed and armored enough to comply with all the definitions above, if not with guaranteed success, at least with quite reasonable chances. And thus, as I stated in a previous message, these medium tanks, in their later versions, could approach the MBT role.
            Michele

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Michele View Post
              I disagree with this latter answer, basically because I disagree with the previous statement that a MBT has to be a heavy tank, though with higher mobility than a classic heavy tank.

              I think that the definitions above, preceding that final statement, are correct, but that - depending on the opposition - one does not necessarily need to use a heavy tank in order to comply with them with a reasonable chance of success.

              Today, and given the opposition faced by tanks, which includes other tanks but also very dangerous ATGMs, you need a heavy to make a MBT out of it. In WWII, even as late as 1945, you could have a medium tank that was fast, maneuverable, reliable, armed and armored enough to comply with all the definitions above, if not with guaranteed success, at least with quite reasonable chances. And thus, as I stated in a previous message, these medium tanks, in their later versions, could approach the MBT role.
              As I said earlier
              Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
              What is a tank?
              A tracked afv with a turret designed to carry firepower around the battlefield.

              What is/are the main role(s) of a tank?
              Primarily to bring mobility to an army in the attack, or to quickly reinforce a defence. The tank is usually to provide direct and accurate firepower, and therefore a weapon of precision. It should be noted that weight is not always a good indicator of a tank type's specific role.
              A heavy tank does not actually have to be heavy in weight. It is a tank that carries out the heavy role, ie tactical dominance.

              Imo obviously.
              How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
              Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                As I said earlier

                A heavy tank does not actually have to be heavy in weight. It is a tank that carries out the heavy role, ie tactical dominance.

                Imo obviously.
                I agree it doesn't have to be heavy in weight, but I'm not sure about the "tactical dominance" role being specific to heavy tanks. The purpose of any weapon or weapon system is to dominate the battlefield within their effective range. A heavy tank, in my humble opinion, is mostly designed to be able to do so longer in the face of heavier enemy fire than a medium, and it doesn't have the follow up role a medium would. Mediums are designed to achieve tactical dominance as well, as are light tanks, cruisers, and infatry variants, they merely are designed to achieve it in other circumstances than a heavy would.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by llkinak View Post
                  I agree it doesn't have to be heavy in weight, but I'm not sure about the "tactical dominance" role being specific to heavy tanks. The purpose of any weapon or weapon system is to dominate the battlefield within their effective range. A heavy tank, in my humble opinion, is mostly designed to be able to do so longer in the face of heavier enemy fire than a medium, and it doesn't have the follow up role a medium would. Mediums are designed to achieve tactical dominance as well, as are light tanks, cruisers, and infatry variants, they merely are designed to achieve it in other circumstances than a heavy would.
                  The way I see it, and it is only an opinion afterall, is that mediums are best suted for armoured divisions. While infantry divisions are the major element on a battlefield, an AD is the unit that can cripple an enemy once the ID's have breached the lines. I would therefore consider mediums are to achieve operational dominance, while heavies are to achieve tactical dominance.
                  How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                  Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                    The way I see it, and it is only an opinion afterall, is that mediums are best suted for armoured divisions. While infantry divisions are the major element on a battlefield, an AD is the unit that can cripple an enemy once the ID's have breached the lines. I would therefore consider mediums are to achieve operational dominance, while heavies are to achieve tactical dominance.
                    Our difference of opinion is probably why Keegan called the difference between tactics and strategy "as elusive as it is artificial."

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                    • #25
                      To me a Tank in WWII is a vehicle to carry the fight to the enemy IE give you the ability to pin down and Flank the enemy, the ability to put heavy firepower on a hard target and do it quickly. It also helps in defense as a fixed gun when needed.
                      The man power and time needed to move F/A was not nearly as efficient in the attack as a co. of medium tanks on the move.
                      It does all this while giving your tank crew some fair protection from infantry and F/A of the enemy.
                      Cheaper than air power more mobile than arty and more protection than OD greens what else can ya ask for

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Brumbear View Post
                        To me a Tank in WWII is a vehicle to carry the fight to the enemy IE give you the ability to pin down and Flank the enemy, the ability to put heavy firepower on a hard target and do it quickly. It also helps in defense as a fixed gun when needed.
                        The man power and time needed to move F/A was not nearly as efficient in the attack as a co. of medium tanks on the move.
                        It does all this while giving your tank crew some fair protection from infantry and F/A of the enemy.
                        Cheaper than air power more mobile than arty and more protection than OD greens what else can ya ask for
                        Unfortunately, the description above says that a Matilda Mk II, with its 2pounder gun only able to fire AP rounds, isn-t a tank. It will not be able to put heavy firepower on a bunker.
                        Mind you, I see what you mean. It is the reason why the Germans thought they needed, early in the war, Pz IVs with short barrelled 75mm guns to complement the 37mms sported by early Pz IIIs. it is the reason why the conceived, built and fielded the assault gun. But, again, the Pz III would not be a tank by your definition, because that, too, couldnt effectively engage a hard target.
                        Michele

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                          What is/are the main role(s) of a tank?

                          What is a heavy tank and what are its roles?
                          What is an infantry tank and what are its roles?
                          What is a medium tank and what are its roles?
                          What is a cruiser tank and what are its roles?
                          What is a light tank and what are its roles?
                          What is a MBT (or Universal tank) and what are its roles?

                          What are the atrributes most important to each classification of tank?
                          Was a MBT or 'Universal' tank a possibility in WW2?
                          Could the MBT role be carried out by another class of tank to an acceptable level in all its roles?
                          The first problem with trying to sort tanks into groups are the definitions used to define the groups. A 'cruiser' and a 'cavalry' tank have much in common, but their operational use differed. The heavier tanks get, the more muddled the definitions are.

                          The next problem is that everything has to be pegged to a timeline. The roles of the tank changed as the war progressed, as did the technological benchmarks. The T-35 and King Tiger can both be called heavy tanks, but that label is all they have in common. By the same token, after 1941 the RKKA abandoned these labels and concepts and by 1944 had only two tanks in production, the T-34 and IS-2.

                          Moving on, and this is most problematic, the role and corresponding label attached to some vehicles changed as the war progressed. Two of these are important: the PzKpfw.IV entered service as a 'heavy' tank, with corresponding 'medium' and 'light' tanks in regiments. By 1943 the Pz.Kpfw.IV was the de facto medium tank, with the 'animals' taking the 'heavy' label.

                          Next is the T-34. When it entered service in 1940, the RKKA had light tanks, heavy tanks, reconnaissance/amphibious tanks, cavalry tanks, breakthrough tanks, and medium tanks, all defined roles in specific formations. By 1944, these other classifications had been abandoned and the only tanks in production were the T-34 and IS-2. The T-34 had essentially become the RKKA's 'main battle tank' before the term had been coined.

                          Finally, there is the thorny trident of the M26, the IS-2 and the Panther. The three vehicles are all roughly 45 tons, same length and height and width. One is called a 'heavy', another is called a 'medium', while the third can be called either, depending what year it is and who you ask. The three vehicles are all close to the same size and weight, so it confuses me and deprives me of sleep...

                          I leave you guys to it. There is lots of room for debate about this or that fine point, so this thread should run for a while. Bravo.

                          Regards
                          Scott Fraser
                          Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                          A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Michele View Post
                            Unfortunately, the description above says that a Matilda Mk II, with its 2pounder gun only able to fire AP rounds, isn-t a tank. It will not be able to put heavy firepower on a bunker.
                            Mind you, I see what you mean. It is the reason why the Germans thought they needed, early in the war, Pz IVs with short barrelled 75mm guns to complement the 37mms sported by early Pz IIIs. it is the reason why the conceived, built and fielded the assault gun. But, again, the Pz III would not be a tank by your definition, because that, too, couldnt effectively engage a hard target.
                            Is this because you feel the gun was not adequate in the size of it? I really hadn't or wouldn't consider that because it would be fairly easy to compensate and even change that role. The Pz III was one of the best tanks of the war IMO the tank came with a 20mm to a 75 in the main gun department. The only down side was the armor wasn't capable of being upgraded enough. I don't think the Matilda was a great tank but the tank disappeared fairly quickly didn't it? As far as putting heavy fire on a bunker you are correct but as long as one can suppress it one can get er done. The Marines in the pacific did a fine job of that for an example. I do most certainly agree you are not gonna flank anyone quickly with a Matilda but as long as they are pinned down they can be flanked as you could time a Matilda with a sun dile in the quater mile

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                              The first problem with trying to sort tanks into groups are the definitions used to define the groups. A 'cruiser' and a 'cavalry' tank have much in common, but their operational use differed. The heavier tanks get, the more muddled the definitions are.

                              The next problem is that everything has to be pegged to a timeline. The roles of the tank changed as the war progressed, as did the technological benchmarks. The T-35 and King Tiger can both be called heavy tanks, but that label is all they have in common. By the same token, after 1941 the RKKA abandoned these labels and concepts and by 1944 had only two tanks in production, the T-34 and IS-2.

                              Moving on, and this is most problematic, the role and corresponding label attached to some vehicles changed as the war progressed. Two of these are important: the PzKpfw.IV entered service as a 'heavy' tank, with corresponding 'medium' and 'light' tanks in regiments. By 1943 the Pz.Kpfw.IV was the de facto medium tank, with the 'animals' taking the 'heavy' label.

                              Next is the T-34. When it entered service in 1940, the RKKA had light tanks, heavy tanks, reconnaissance/amphibious tanks, cavalry tanks, breakthrough tanks, and medium tanks, all defined roles in specific formations. By 1944, these other classifications had been abandoned and the only tanks in production were the T-34 and IS-2. The T-34 had essentially become the RKKA's 'main battle tank' before the term had been coined.

                              Finally, there is the thorny trident of the M26, the IS-2 and the Panther. The three vehicles are all roughly 45 tons, same length and height and width. One is called a 'heavy', another is called a 'medium', while the third can be called either, depending what year it is and who you ask. The three vehicles are all close to the same size and weight, so it confuses me and deprives me of sleep...

                              I leave you guys to it. There is lots of room for debate about this or that fine point, so this thread should run for a while. Bravo.

                              Regards
                              Scott Fraser

                              The IS-2 is a heavy and the Panther is a medium, as designed and used as such, dates or weights notwithstanding. As far as WW2 is concerned there are differing views on the M26 on its classification, which I had already started a thread on here.

                              As far as classifications go, some tanks are more difficult than others to categorise, such as the Valentine. Designed to be a hybrid of cruiser and infantry tanks, and used in both roles out of necessity, it arguably found its best role on the Eastern Front as a light tank.

                              However, still trying and failing to steer clear of naming specific tanks, it is possible imo to put each into one category based on actual best use in the field. For example, I would consider the Cromwell a medium in reality, with little real difference between it and a Sherman in theory and practise.
                              How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                              Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Brumbear View Post
                                Is this because you feel the gun was not adequate in the size of it? I really hadn't or wouldn't consider that because it would be fairly easy to compensate and even change that role. The Pz III was one of the best tanks of the war IMO the tank came with a 20mm to a 75 in the main gun department. The only down side was the armor wasn't capable of being upgraded enough. I don't think the Matilda was a great tank but the tank disappeared fairly quickly didn't it? As far as putting heavy fire on a bunker you are correct but as long as one can suppress it one can get er done. The Marines in the pacific did a fine job of that for an example. I do most certainly agree you are not gonna flank anyone quickly with a Matilda but as long as they are pinned down they can be flanked as you could time a Matilda with a sun dile in the quater mile
                                The Matilda found its niche against the Japanese, where a cannister round was developed by the Australians for the 2pdr. Flamethrower versions were used as well.
                                How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
                                Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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