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  • #61
    I am wondering if the dominance of supplies by the allies in late 43/44 over the Germans didn't give a little leway if you will to allow the Soviets and the Western allies to concentrate on getting something to knock out the one German weapon that was still very dangerous even in small numbers Armor? The massive artillery advantage we both had gave us a considerable ability to tie up there infantry and counter battery fire. I am only thinking on the screen here I have nothing to suggest this is what happened.

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    • #62
      Originally posted by JBark View Post
      I can't say I agree with your assessment of armored warfare in WWII. I've read a lot on armored warfare and have never seen it written that this was a primary role.
      Well, I suppose my response would be what do you think the primary role of the Panther, MK III, Firefly, Sherman 76 and Tiger was, if not killing enemy tanks?

      All weapons used in the war were increased in size and killing/destructive ability. If you focus on AT your argument has validity but one could just as easily point out that HE increased, therefore the tanks ability to take out infantry/soft targets/bunkers increased, thus this is its primary function.
      But why were guns increasing in size? Did the Firefly mount a bigger calibre weapon because German trenches were proving to deep for the Sherman 75 to handle? HE increased as a side effect of AT calibres increasing.

      One can also point out that tank destroyers, fielded by the major armor producing nations, increased in AT ability.
      Indeed they did, so is this not a useful pointer as to why Tanks increased in potency as well?

      Countermeasures include mines, AT guns, infantry AT weapons, and air attack.
      None of which are as effective as a tank from an all round operational perspective.

      Quotes of figures of tank casualties at AP fire 41%, hollow charge 33% and mines 21%. As AP and HC came from both infantry/AT guns and tanks it is hard to say that tanks were taken out primarily by other tanks. Throw in the mine casualties and there is good argument against the idea that tanks are the primary killers of other tanks. I should think this important to the points you make. Can you offer conflicting data?
      I think you're cooking the figures here. The best discussion I have seen is Buckley's. Your hollow charge figure was only close during the latter stages of the NWE campaign. This is a part of the war also known as "the bit where the germans didn't have many tanks left". What you're seeing here is a recognition within the statistics that the Germans only had hollow charge weapons left in many places to halt tank attacks with as their own armour had been decimated.

      Buckley suggests the hollow charge figure may have been as low as 6% earlier in the campaign.

      His figures for the Normandy campaign suggest about 50% of Allied tank casualties were knocked out by German AFVs. He arrives at this by noting that two thirds of Allied tank casualties seem to have been caused by AP shot, and that German tanks in normandy outnumbered AT guns by 3-1.

      Mines are great if the front is static, but irrelevant once things are more fluid.

      Therefore, the most likely killer of an Allied Tank was a German tank.

      Operational research analysis of German tank casualties in normandy weren't far from that figure if you exclude those abandoned by their crews.

      It sounds like it is a bad thing to have a reliable tank .
      reading the Veteran's accounts, I think many would have preferred a less reliable sherman, as failing to reach the battlefield made for a healthier life.

      Interestingly studies show that these tanks were not having "problems dueling" as so many people like to say.
      Which studies?

      Yes, their guns were less powerful, armor thinner, but somehow they won fight after fight...oh, and the war.
      This is the old 2 and 0 argument. I usually counter by pointing out that the Americans lost only a small percentage of tactical encounters in Vietnam, but Saigon turned red in the end non-the-less. The more technologically advanced force lost at Little Big horn, Islandwana, the Choisin river and many other places besides. The fact the Allies overcame the Wehrmacht in the end is not prima facie evidence they didn't have problems dueling.

      Have you read any veteran's accounts? What do Tank Veteran's accounts tell you about this issue?

      Yes, Germany saw that the Soviets had armor which could give them headaches and their kneejerk reaction was to build bigger tanks. Other nations took a similar path...but why? To what end? Did the M26 contribute to the winning effort of the US? Did the Tiger and Panther slow the loss suffered by the Germans?
      The M26 contributed little, but I strongly suspect the Panther and Tiger improved the German operational position. Your argument is presumably that the US and Soviets didn't neeed bigger tanks because they could produce endless quantities of smaller weaker ones. I don't think this is really an argument at all. No nation allows a technological gap to exist for any longer than necessary.

      Regards,
      ID

      Comment


      • #63
        Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
        The T-34 never had enough armour to decent in the break in role from 42/3 onwards, as a tank needs to be able to withstand the enemies main AT gun from the front. That is why it could never be a successful MBT. As for a MBT, this is as much about concept as design, whereby a nation produces one tank to cover both heavy and medium types. While the Soviets were producing heavy tanks the T-54/5 was essentially a medium. The T-64 replaced both the T-10 heavy and the T-55 medium and thus was the first Soviet MBT in c67.

        Until the Conqueror was phased out in 66, Britain could not have a MBT either. The same holds true for the US when the M103 was withdrawn in 74.

        All imo obviously .
        What you are saying is, essentially, totally correct Nick. It is not your 'opinion' (or mine, or anyone elses); it is fact. The era of the MBT began when heavy tanks disappeared from the OOB because newer designs were fully capable of covering both the medium and heavy role sets in a single type. As long as a nation was fielding both medium and heavy types it had not yet entered the era of the MBT.

        I've lost count of the number of times that this has been pointed out, around these forums; at least once on this very thread. Yet somehow, some members who really should know better still speak as if they are oblivious to it.

        Most of your opening questions are indeed subject to variations of opinion and are thus open to discussion in that respect; but a few definitely are not and this is one of them!
        Last edited by panther3485; 17 Nov 12, 22:51.
        "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
        Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

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        • #64
          Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
          By definition, a nation's MBT is what it fields the most of for the majority of the conflict. For America in WII, it was the Sherman. For the USSR it was the T-34, and for Germany it was the Pzkw IV in all of it's variants. For the British, possibly the Churchill?
          These tanks (M4, T-34 PzKpfw IV) were, or became, the primary medium types for their respective nations. That's totally different from being an MBT. MBTs did not exist until well after WW2.
          "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
          Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

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          • #65
            Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

            Until the T-64, the Soviets used both a medium and a heavy. Quality and success does not make a MBT, just its intention and use imo.
            Except that after the T-64 arrived, the Red Army still had both mediums (tens of thousands of them) and heavies. The T-64 served in very limited numbers, replacing the IS series with first-echelon 'heavy' tank units, but it was never the main battle tank of the Red Army, not for a moment. That role was owned by the T-55 postwar, until it was replaced by the T-62, not the T-64. From what you're saying, it would be the T-72 that might first qualify, since it was derived from the latter and replaced them both in production. Even so, the T-72 served alongside the older tanks until they were retired: the T-64 very quickly and the T-55/62 many years later.

            If that's the case, I have to wonder how the term is relevant to Second World War tanks. It seems to apply only to tanks from the 1980s, and even then it is hit-or-miss. This is another of those vague definitions that only confuse people like me.

            Regards
            Scott Fraser
            Last edited by Scott Fraser; 18 Nov 12, 00:07.
            Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

            A contentedly cantankerous old fart

            Comment


            • #66
              Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post

              Until the T-64, the Soviets used both a medium and a heavy. Quality and success does not make a MBT, just its intention and use imo.
              You're more or less on the right track (pun intended ), even though the T-64 was produced in very limited numbers. It was, IIRC, undergoing development around the time that the heavy tanks were beginning to be accepted as a 'dead end' so using it as a 'marker' in that sense would not appear to me to be incorrect (my bold):

              "The T-64 stemmed from two distinct sources; the desire of the Morozov design bureau to explore new tank technologies with a series of test-bed vehicles; and the decision to end heavy tank production by the Kruschev administration in 1960."

              Opening page, 'T-64 and T-80', Steven Zaloga, 1992
              Last edited by panther3485; 17 Nov 12, 23:21.
              "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
              Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

              Comment


              • #67
                Originally posted by panther3485 View Post
                What you are saying is, essentially, totally correct Nick. It is not your 'opinion' (or mine, or anyone elses); it is fact. The era of the MBT began when heavy tanks disappeared from the OOB because newer designs were fully capable of covering both the medium and heavy role sets in a single type. As long as a nation was fielding both medium and heavy types it had not yet entered the era of the MBT.

                I've lost count of the number of times that this has been pointed out, around these forums; at least once on this very thread. Yet somehow, some members who really should know better still speak as if they are oblivious to it.

                Most of your opening questions are indeed subject to variations of opinion and are thus open to discussion in that respect; but a few definitely are not and this is one of them!
                Totally agreed. A "main battle tank" is not simply the most numerous tank in a country's arsenal.

                To add to the T-64 discussion, Hull, Markov, and Zaloga state:
                Krushchev's cancellation of the entire Soviet heavy tank program in 1960 continues to have a profound impact on Russian tank development to this day. The demise of the heavy tank meant an end of a central and long-standing principle of Soviet tank design philosophy--the building of special classes of tanks for specific missions. The old formula of using medium tanks for most tank roles, supplemented with heavy tanks for missions where long range firepower or heavy armor was needed, was now dead. Henceforth, a new main battle tank concept (in Russian--osnovnoi tank or standard tank) would gradually emerge.
                Note also that the manual for the T-62 refers to it as a средний, or medium, tank.

                Nick, re: the US using the M103 until the '70s--note that the Army retired their single battalion of M103A1s shortly after the M60's appearance, while the Marines kept theirs (and further developed them into the M103A2) until the next decade. The Marines didn't receive their M60A1s until 1974, after the XM803 program--on which both the Army and Marines had been banking--failed.
                Last edited by DogDodger; 18 Nov 12, 00:00.

                Comment


                • #68
                  Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                  "If that's the case, I have to wonder how the term is relevant to Second World War tanks."
                  The term is not in the slightest bit relevant to WW2 tanks.


                  Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                  "It seems to apply only to tanks from the 1980s, and even then it is hit-or-miss."
                  The reasons are varied, but they include the fact that the removal of heavy tanks from the OOB, together with the conceptual changes, did not happen instantly like hitting a switch. It tended to be gradual and IIRC this seems to have been especially true in the case of the Soviets/Russians, who kept some of their heavies in service for considerably longer. According to Baryatinskiy's volume on the IS tanks, the last IS-2s were not ordered to be retired until the mid 90's some time? (Again, IIRC). However, this would appear to indicate merely that equipment was kept in service for as long as it could be useful in any way at all, rather than a delay in the implementation of the MBT concept. So the retention of IS2s for that long - in terms of what we are discussing here - might be seen as something of an anachronism.

                  It should also be remembered that even in the West, the old terminologies of 'medium' and 'heavy' persisted through the sixties and well into the 70's. I have a quite authoritative volume on the World's tanks, published in 1978 by Arms & Armour Press, which still speaks of mediums and heavies. The term 'Main Battle Tank' would gain gradual acceptance. It is in restrospect today, that we can identify the beginnings of the trend. Once the decision had been made to do away with heavy tanks as a class (or phase them out), and end up with one class that could cover both the medium and heavy roles, the era of the MBT was starting to be born. But the speed of the transition varied and was not widely recognized until after the fact.


                  Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                  This is another of those vague definitions that only confuse people like me.

                  Regards
                  Scott Fraser
                  We shall do our best to assist.
                  "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
                  Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                    Well, I suppose my response would be what do you think the primary role of the Panther, MK III, Firefly, Sherman 76 and Tiger was, if not killing enemy tanks?
                    The T-34, PzKpfw III, Sherman and Panther were all medium tanks, assigned the role set that goes with that class of tank (allowing for some variations of doctrine and design emphasis between those nations). The Tiger tanks were assigned the role set of a heavy tank, so they are different in that respect.

                    None of these had the destruction of enemy armour as their primary role. However, some designs did show a somewhat higher priority to a tank's ability to counter enemy armour and the Panther would perhaps be the classic example of this for the Germans. One or two Allied variants leaned the same way - perhaps the best example being the Firefly, as you mentioned, which went so far in that direction that it might almost be thought of as a turreted tank destroyer. Almost. However, even the relatively modest transition from the 75mm to the 76mm in standard Shermans during the last year of the war shows a certain shift in thinking which acknowledged the full importance for a tank, of the ability to deal with enemy armour when the situation required.


                    Originally posted by IronDuke View Post
                    " ... the most likely killer of an Allied Tank was a German tank."
                    Given the proliferation of StuGs, Marders, Hetzers, Jagdpanzers and the like during the last year or two of the war; as well as the continued use of German AT guns; and then add in mines, artillery and infantry AT weapons, I cannot see German tanks on their own accounting for the lion's share of KO'd Allied tanks. Indeed, my guess would be that the German tank destroyer type vehicles, alone, would likely have accounted for more than the German tanks (Eastern and Western fronts together).

                    Btw and while I am on the subject, during WW2 out of those two main classes it was the tank destroyer in its various forms, not the tank, that had killing enemy tanks as its primary role.
                    Last edited by panther3485; 18 Nov 12, 01:36.
                    "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
                    Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                      If that's the case, I have to wonder how the term is relevant to Second World War tanks.
                      Originally posted by panther3485 View Post
                      The term is not in the slightest bit relevant to WW2 tanks.
                      Aha! A red herring, 1:1 scale, or the wrong forum.

                      I hate hair-splitting. A tank is a tank is a tank. At the end of the day, the only things that matter are whether it survives and how much it costs. Both those factors have to be weighed against the opposition, on the battlefield within the context of so-called "operational art" and the case of an attentional war, against the prevailing economic constraints of the time. Ultimately the tank is just an adjunct to infantry, allowing them to seize and control the battlefield and disarm the enemy. The tank may be queen of the battlefield, but the infantry is king.

                      Regards
                      Scott Fraser
                      Last edited by Scott Fraser; 18 Nov 12, 04:33.
                      Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                      A contentedly cantankerous old fart

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                        "Aha! A red herring, 1:1 scale, or the wrong forum."
                        Great to see you can retain your sense of humour about all this.


                        Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                        "I hate hair-splitting. A tank is a tank is a tank. At the end of the day, the only things that matter are whether it survives and how much it costs. Both those factors have to be weighed against the opposition, on the battlefield within the context of so-called "operational art" and the case of an attentional war, against the prevailing economic constraints of the time. Ultimately the tank is just an adjunct to infantry, allowing them to seize and control the battlefield and disarm the enemy. The tank may be queen of the battlefield, but the infantry is king.

                        Regards
                        Scott Fraser
                        All true enough.

                        Unfortunately, the use of certain terms requires at least an effort at definition and the setting of 'boundaries' to enable proper understanding. Not that we always succeed in the effort but there is an obligation to try. 'Hair splitting' as you call it is often an unwelcome (and not always necessary) by-product of such an effort.
                        "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
                        Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

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                        • #72
                          "As an answer to the question about the basics of their success fighting tanks during the winter fighting at charkow at 3. April 1943 the I.D. Großdeutschland reported:

                          1. From 7. March to 20. March 250T-34 16T60 or T70 and 3KW1 tanks were destroyed.
                          2. The number of kills itemized by weapon were as follow:
                          188 by Panzer IV 7,5cm long
                          41 by Sturmgeschütz 7,5cm long
                          30 by Panzer VI(Tiger)
                          4 by 7,5cm-Pak(mot. Zug)
                          4 by 7,5cm Pak(Sfl.)
                          1 by a hit by a s.IG.
                          1 by a Hafthohlladung"


                          Source: Jentz Die deutsche Panzertruppe Band 2 p.36

                          Ofc most units didn't have tanks avaiable so the percentage of tanks destroyed by the other weapons is certainly bigger in an overall view, it still shows pretty good that as soon tanks were avaiable they were used in the AT role. To the point of Artillery and Mines i would say that they are good tools to stop a tank but unless it cannot be retrieved due to beeing on retreat i say most can be repaired and this pretty quickly.

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                          • #73
                            Originally posted by Scott Fraser View Post
                            Except that after the T-64 arrived, the Red Army still had both mediums (tens of thousands of them) and heavies. The T-64 served in very limited numbers, replacing the IS series with first-echelon 'heavy' tank units, but it was never the main battle tank of the Red Army, not for a moment. That role was owned by the T-55 postwar, until it was replaced by the T-62, not the T-64. From what you're saying, it would be the T-72 that might first qualify, since it was derived from the latter and replaced them both in production. Even so, the T-72 served alongside the older tanks until they were retired: the T-64 very quickly and the T-55/62 many years later.

                            If that's the case, I have to wonder how the term is relevant to Second World War tanks. It seems to apply only to tanks from the 1980s, and even then it is hit-or-miss. This is another of those vague definitions that only confuse people like me.

                            Regards
                            Scott Fraser
                            I'd be the first to state that my knowledege on post WW2 tanks is both rusty and limited.

                            What I will say is that while I was in the infantry we trained in Germany against a Soviet invasion. Tank recognition was given a priority, because depending on which types we met, the higher command could determine the state of the attack. Heavy tanks were supposed to spearhead an attack, but if IS-2's were spotted, it meant that lesser capable troops were being met (grade C from memory). The IS-2 may have been conceived and initially used as a heavy tank, but by the 80's latest, it was just a tank to equip less capable units, and thus does not determine whether a MBT is available to the USSR.
                            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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                            • #74
                              Originally posted by bierbaron View Post
                              "As an answer to the question about the basics of their success fighting tanks during the winter fighting at charkow at 3. April 1943 the I.D. Großdeutschland reported:

                              1. From 7. March to 20. March 250T-34 16T60 or T70 and 3KW1 tanks were destroyed.
                              2. The number of kills itemized by weapon were as follow:
                              188 by Panzer IV 7,5cm long
                              41 by Sturmgeschütz 7,5cm long
                              30 by Panzer VI(Tiger)
                              4 by 7,5cm-Pak(mot. Zug)
                              4 by 7,5cm Pak(Sfl.)
                              1 by a hit by a s.IG.
                              1 by a Hafthohlladung"

                              Source: Jentz Die deutsche Panzertruppe Band 2 p.36

                              Ofc most units didn't have tanks avaiable so the percentage of tanks destroyed by the other weapons is certainly bigger in an overall view, it still shows pretty good that as soon tanks were avaiable they were used in the AT role. To the point of Artillery and Mines i would say that they are good tools to stop a tank but unless it cannot be retrieved due to beeing on retreat i say most can be repaired and this pretty quickly.
                              It certainly adds weight to the idea that tanks can be very successful in the anti-tank role. Indeed, it has been said that the best weapon against a tank is another tank. Under certain circumstances that will be true. Of course, in WW2 the specialized tank destroyers - and in particular, the German ones - seem to have racked up some very impressive tank killing totals. However, these vehicles lacked the tactical flexibility of a turret. It is noteworthy that following WW2, the gun-carrying tank destroyer has all but disappeared, in favour of the turreted tank.
                              "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
                              Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

                              Comment


                              • #75
                                Originally posted by panther3485 View Post
                                The T-34, PzKpfw III, Sherman and Panther were all medium tanks, assigned the role set that goes with that class of tank (allowing for some variations of doctrine and design emphasis between those nations). The Tiger tanks were assigned the role set of a heavy tank, so they are different in that respect.

                                None of these had the destruction of enemy armour as their primary role. However, some designs did show a somewhat higher priority to a tank's ability to counter enemy armour and the Panther would perhaps be the classic example of this for the Germans. One or two Allied variants leaned the same way - perhaps the best example being the Firefly, as you mentioned, which went so far in that direction that it might almost be thought of as a turreted tank destroyer. Almost. However, even the relatively modest transition from the 75mm to the 76mm in standard Shermans during the last year of the war shows a certain shift in thinking which acknowledged the full importance for a tank, of the ability to deal with enemy armour when the situation required.
                                I'd disagree with the Panther. It was optimized for tank killing. The armor was thick only on the front and the gun's performance was pushed towards tank killing not general purpose use. Likewise, the British Firefly was pushed towards tank killing too.
                                Both vehicles could easily be described as tank destroyers rather than purely tanks. As for the US shift to the 76mm that was resisted by many unit commanders and field officers because of the inferior performance of the HE round it had and its lesser ability to be employed as artillery, something the US frequently did with tank battalions.


                                Given the proliferation of StuGs, Marders, Hetzers, Jagdpanzers and the like during the last year or two of the war; as well as the continued use of German AT guns; and then add in mines, artillery and infantry AT weapons, I cannot see German tanks on their own accounting for the lion's share of KO'd Allied tanks. Indeed, my guess would be that the German tank destroyer type vehicles, alone, would likely have accounted for more than the German tanks (Eastern and Western fronts together).
                                The proliferation took a rational path. The first vehicles were almost totally make-shift ones with minimal armor and a big gun plopped on a virtually unchanged hull of one sort or another. They were a stop-gap to get something in the field. That some survived long enough in production to get redesigned into better versions doesn't change that.
                                The next generation were more purpose built and offered heavy frontal armor and low sillouettes. These were an improvement in a now defensive war.

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