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Reliability of Italian M13/40 Tank?

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  • T. A. Gardner
    replied
    Originally posted by Marathag View Post
    There is also art as well in science in doing armor

    Sometimes the rolling mills would do better on 5+ inches thick plate than thinner 1.5" plate

    http://www.navweaps.com/index_nathan...rpsept2009.htm
    Exactly. 3" armor and up is a lot more forgiving of manufacturing mistakes and imperfections than thinner plate is.

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  • Marathag
    replied
    Originally posted by Gooner View Post
    Weirdly the Italian armour plate on their battleships was considered about the best quality going.

    One wonders what might have happened if some of this thousands of tons of high quality armour had ended up on their tanks.
    There is also art as well in science in doing armor

    Sometimes the rolling mills would do better on 5+ inches thick plate than thinner 1.5" plate

    http://www.navweaps.com/index_nathan...rpsept2009.htm

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  • nikolas93TS
    replied
    I don't have the reports for M13/40, but since it was based on chassis of M11/39, a comparison can be made with it.

    Mechanically speaking, M11/39 wasn't too bad, but the transmission components were considered to be too fragile. At Tobruk, out of 39 tanks driving to the front, only 5 were in full working order upon arrival, since the usual Italian practice of hauling the tanks on the back of their trucks couldn't be done on the occasion due to the lack of vehicles. The tracks and suspensions however were designed for rugged mountain terrain and were considered to be efficient and reliable.
    105 hp Fiat V-8 diesel engine was underpowered for M11/39. That put a strain on the engine, affecting reliability. Slightly more powerful 125 hp variant was installed on M13/40, however since it was a heavier vehicle, situation was even worsened. This issue was partially rectified on later Fiat M14/41, while on M15/42 a petrol 192hp engine was installed.

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  • Don Juan
    replied
    No I had to pay real money for it, alas.

    Anyway, the scores on the doors at the end of the Exercise are attached below.

    The aim of Dracula was to achieve 3000 miles without pause, though only three tanks achieved it during the period. Bear in mind that 3000 miles is Normandy to Smolensk and back again.

    The three Centaurs on 2000+ miles would have done the equivalent of going from Normandy to several hundred miles east of Moscow in 37 days, which gives you some idea of the level of reliability the British Army was attempting to achieve in this period. That said, there were 2 other Centaurs that left the trial early, though I'd need to get hold of an earlier report to find out why.

    So the point I'm making is yes, the Centaur was "unreliable" in comparison to the Sherman, and below the British Army's requirements for reliability, but I suspect those requirements were extremely high in comparison to most other armies.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Don Juan; 09 Jun 14, 06:02.

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  • DogDodger
    replied
    Indeed, Fletcher doesn't mention the Sherman defects at all. Is the report online, by chance? Thanks for the info.

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  • Don Juan
    replied
    Just got hold of the report for Exercise Dracula, and it's a big one at 97 pages. It's not as one-sided as the verbal verdicts that are quoted by Fletcher, as two Shermans did actually fail the trial - an M4A2 at 1870 miles with a faulty gearbox, and an M4A4 at 2285 miles with a fractured drive gear case. The raw numbers don't really seem to tally with the extremely polarised opinions given by the observers, who are all "singing from the same hymn sheet".

    The Ministry Of Supply appeared to smell a rat with Exercise Dracula, as they ordered another trial immediately afterwards with 10 Centaurs, 10 Cromwells and 10 Shermans. It would be interesting to see how that one turned out.....

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  • DogDodger
    replied
    Looking forward to see what you uncover.

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  • Don Juan
    replied
    That's all true, but Centaur Dozers were in British service until at least Suez, and the Greeks and Portuguese used Centaur gun tanks until the early 60's. The Greeks certainly seemed to like them very much.

    "Centaur" was a bit of a naming convenience anyway, as it was basically a Cromwell with a Liberty engine. So as regards the post-war experience with the Centaur, I'm wondering if they managed to improve the Liberty, or whether they replaced the Liberty engine with the Meteor, but didn't bother re-naming them as "Cromwells".

    Rest assured, I shall find out.

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  • DogDodger
    replied
    Originally posted by Don Juan View Post
    I'm not so sure about the Centaur really, because it was rejected from service after failing a 3000 mile cross-country endurance test, which, when you think about it, very few tanks of any nation would have passed. It was certainly less reliable than a Cromwell or Sherman, but would it have been less reliable than, say, a late Panzer IV?

    It's one of the tanks I'm researching to see what the full story was.
    In Fletcher and Harley's Osprey title on Cromwell, they assert: "Crews soon discovered that the Centaur was no more reliable that the Convenanter. Its clutch was weak and the Liberty engine sprayed oil over the radiators, causing overheating. Cromwell's Meteor was less troubling, but both types suffered from gearbox and steering defects...[9th Armoured Division GOC Major-General D'Arcy] reported that his 129 Centaurs had received 95 defect reports, including 23 clutch failures, while only three of his 26 Cromwells had given trouble of any kind. Centaur required far more maintenance and, because it was underpowered, its Liberty engine had to work flat-out all the time."

    In The Universal Tank, Fletcher says, "The first Centaur was running at Leylands by July 1942, but subsequent trials revealed that its Liberty engine had a shorter life expectancy than a similar unit in a Crusader, which in itself is not saying much." Major Clifford, the OC of Exercise Dracula which pitted M4A2, M4A4, Cromwell, and Centaur against each other in cross-country drives, "stated that he would prefer not to take a squadron of Centaurs on active service, since they were underpowered, unreliable, and in need of more maintenance in relation to running time than was justified." Fletcher notes of the exercise, "Major breakdowns appear to have been the exception; rather it was the need for continual maintenance en route which held up the British tanks. Clutches gave out, brakes often needed adjusting and, in the Centaurs, so much oil leaked from the engine that the radiators had to be cleaned down at regular intervals."

    Beale in Death by Design said the Centaur's "pilot run and subsequent trials showed that the Liberty engine had an unsuitably short life expectancy for the requirements of the tank. The Centaur did however, go into production, but as a report of late 1943 told: 'The Centaur with its Liberty engine proved so unreliable when handled by units at home that as a gun tank it had been condemned.'" Beale also includes a chart showing that Centaur made up 17% of the British tanks manufactured in 1943...

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  • Don Juan
    replied
    Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
    You probably know this, but the A24 was basically a Crusader in a Cromwell skin.

    Anyone interested in cars will know this. A production car will be given a new set of mechanicals to make it go better. Once that is a success it is given a new skin. Then new engineering followed by a facelift etc.
    I actually checked the production record of the A24 Cavalier, because I couldn't believe that they bothered to build the full 500 on order, what with it being of no use to anyone.

    But they did!

    The Greeks used A27L Centaurs until the early 60's, and appear to have been very happy with them, but I'm not sure yet if they were re-engined with Meteors.

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  • Nick the Noodle
    replied
    Originally posted by Don Juan View Post
    I'm not so sure about the Centaur really, because it was rejected from service after failing a 3000 mile cross-country endurance test, which, when you think about it, very few tanks of any nation would have passed. It was certainly less reliable than a Cromwell or Sherman, but would it have been less reliable than, say, a late Panzer IV?

    It's one of the tanks I'm researching to see what the full story was.
    You probably know this, but the A24 was basically a Crusader in a Cromwell skin.

    Anyone interested in cars will know this. A production car will be given a new set of mechanicals to make it go better. Once that is a success it is given a new skin. Then new engineering followed by a facelift etc.

    Leave a comment:


  • Don Juan
    replied
    Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
    You are generally correct, except that the A24, A27L and early Churchills were also unreliable. The A15 was so bad, that when the Crusaders were exchanged for Shermans, the only element they missed on the A15 was the Besa mg's.
    I'm not so sure about the Centaur really, because it was rejected from service after failing a 3000 mile cross-country endurance test, which, when you think about it, very few tanks of any nation would have passed. It was certainly less reliable than a Cromwell or Sherman, but would it have been less reliable than, say, a late Panzer IV?

    It's one of the tanks I'm researching to see what the full story was.

    Leave a comment:


  • Nick the Noodle
    replied
    Originally posted by Don Juan View Post
    I think the whole issue of the unreliability of British cruiser tanks is not understood particularly well. I have some original British reports of the performance of British cruiser tanks in the desert, and the A9 Cruiser Mk.I was considered satisfactorily reliable, the A10 Cruiser Mk.II was considered extremely reliable (and a very good tank indeed), and the A13 Cruiser Mk.IV was considered fairly reliable, though with issues with the suspension and air filters. One of the big advantages these tanks would all have had over the M13/40 was their three-man turrets, which made them easier to command in battle.

    It was the A15 Crusader that was to prove consistently unreliable, more so than is generally appreciated, and this tank provoked much anger and bitterness within the War Office and Ministry of Supply. The Crusader was the only British tank of the war that was consistently unreliable in frontline service, and is the source of the myth that British tanks were inherently unreliable. Even then this has to be understood in the context that the British put a particular emphasis on reliability - their own intelligence indicated that the Crusader was no more unreliable than the Panzer III, for example, but being no better than the chief opponent was not considered good enough.

    I also have some original late-war reports that indicate that both the Cromwell and Comet were considered more reliable than the Sherman, which was a much-disliked tank in 1944-45, after being the darling of the British Army in 1942-43, so relative opinions at the time were much more fluid than the perceptions that have crystallized in the post-war period.
    You are generally correct, except that the A24, A27L and early Churchills were also unreliable. The A15 was so bad, that when the Crusaders were exchanged for Shermans, the only element they missed on the A15 was the Besa mg's.

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  • Michele
    replied
    Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
    The P40 looks pretty good on paper; similar gun, slightly better armor, same speed, 65 rounds for the 75mm (34 cal).
    What was wrong with it?
    The gun was a great step forward in comparison to anything that the Italians had, but it still came a bit shorter than the Shermans', in 75mm; not to make a comparison with the Shermans sporting the 76mm. The Germans's corresponding vehicle would have been at least the Pz IV version with the 75L43.

    The armor was possibly better than a standard Sherman, mostly in that it was finally a rather effectively sloped design (in comparison to previous Italian ones); but its being still riveted in 1943 is unpardonable. Steel quality had not been improved AFAIK.

    Note that while this should have been a Pz IV look-alike and it was classed as a heavy tank - P26 means "Pesante" (heavy), 26 tons - it still had a 4-man crew, with all the problems that that entailed.

    As to anything to do with speed and HP/ton ratio and all that sort of things, they were fine - on paper. In practice the 420-HP engine was essentially a prototype, and even the 350-HP one was produced in a puny number. About 4/5 of the P26s that the Germans took after the armistice were engineless. They were dug in as parts of standing fortifications.

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  • broderickwells
    replied
    Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
    I was wondering about that as I wrote it, so good call.

    The P40 looks pretty good on paper; similar gun, slightly better armor, same speed, 65 rounds for the 75mm (34 cal).
    What was wrong with it?
    It was catch up, not an advance.

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