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Similarities equals maintainability?

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  • Similarities equals maintainability?

    I've been looking at pictures, drawings and armor up close for quite a few years and only just noticed something; there's a similarity in U.S. armored vehicles. From the M3 Halftrack to the Stuart and M8 and then the boatload of stuff (TD's and SPA) using the same chassis as the M4. I think I've been focusing on the M4 and really not reading about the other vehicles much that I never put two and two together. So if the U.S. is using so many vehicles with similar construction/type of parts won't this put the U.S. light years ahead in terms of maintaining the vehicles?
    John

    Play La Marseillaise. Play it!

  • #2
    Originally posted by JBark View Post
    I've been looking at pictures, drawings and armor up close for quite a few years and only just noticed something; there's a similarity in U.S. armored vehicles. From the M3 Halftrack to the Stuart and M8 and then the boatload of stuff (TD's and SPA) using the same chassis as the M4. I think I've been focusing on the M4 and really not reading about the other vehicles much that I never put two and two together. So if the U.S. is using so many vehicles with similar construction/type of parts won't this put the U.S. light years ahead in terms of maintaining the vehicles?
    Looking at the primary armoured chassis, the US produced

    - The Medium Tank chassis (M3 and M4 Medium) with four different engines and the US Army operated three of those.
    - The Light Tank chassis (M3 and M5) with three different engines and the US Army used all three, IIRC
    - Half-track chassis (M3 and M5) with two different engines

    Later in the war, also the M18 chassis and M24 chassis.

    The Germans operated a number of different platforms early in the war, but mid-war they focused on:

    - Panzer III/StuG III - one engine
    - Panzer IV - one engine
    - Panther - one engine
    - Tiger I- one engine (sames as Panther)
    - 38t chassis - one engine
    - SdKfz 251 - one engine

    So in principle, the Germans would not have been all that much behind the US. The problem was the plethora of early war armoured vehicles that continued in service in various forms for a long time into the war and their propensity to put a number of captured vehicles and limited production vehicles into service. That was obviously a challenge in terms of spare parts, but IIRC many of these items were concentrated in a few units and/or in small geographical areas with limited operational demands (occupation duty, coastal defence etc.)

    Still, I think you are right that the US could probably service more their armoured vehicle fleet with similar spare parts than the Germans could.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by JBark View Post
      I've been looking at pictures, drawings and armor up close for quite a few years and only just noticed something; there's a similarity in U.S. armored vehicles. From the M3 Halftrack to the Stuart and M8 and then the boatload of stuff (TD's and SPA) using the same chassis as the M4. I think I've been focusing on the M4 and really not reading about the other vehicles much that I never put two and two together. So if the U.S. is using so many vehicles with similar construction/type of parts won't this put the U.S. light years ahead in terms of maintaining the vehicles?
      Rommel had made the same observation on American vehicles when he inspected them after Kasserine Pass battle. In "The Rommel Papers" edited by B.H. Liddell-Hart, Rommel wrote:

      "The Americans were fantastically well equipped and we had a lot to learn from them organizationally. One particularly striking feature was the standardization of their vehicles and spare parts."
      Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 17 Dec 19, 08:19.
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by cbo View Post



        Later in the war, also the M18 chassis and M24 chassis.
        Did the M18 tank destroyer and M24 light tanks use the same chassis and engine? I thought I had saw that in the past, But have never seen anything definative..
        "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
        Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

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        • #5
          It isn't just standardization. The US also did a massive amount of quality control both in design and the manufacturing process. For example, US vehicles had overrated suspension systems. That is, they were designed to take far more abuse and weight than they were expected to normally take in service.

          It wasn't just standardization. It was having a much higher level of quality and tighter tolerances on parts that made a huge difference.



          At about 35 minutes in you see one of the reasons the US vehicles were so reliable an easy to maintain.

          Or this one starting at about 24 minutes



          The M18 used the same engine as the M4A1 Sherman.

          The M24 used the same (Cadillac 42) engine as the M5 Stuart.

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          • #6
            Your observation on vehicle quality is a factor. But, Rommel's "striking feature", standardization, was its impact on sustainment in an army with multiple types of tanks/vehicles and unique parts which made it a nightmare to maintain, repair, restore and raise unit readiness--a distracting and degrading factor for command and operations.
            Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 18 Dec 19, 07:55.
            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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            • #7
              Who was/were responsible of standardisation? Whoever they were they certainly deserve a huge deal of credit.

              The British situation, from David Fletcher 'Mechanised Force':

              "By the summer of 1939 there were two types of light tank, five types of cruiser tank and three models of infantry tank either in production or development, not counting designs that would be aborted. These various tanks used six different types of suspension, seven different makes of engine and four different systems of transmission, not to mention tracks and other detail features all of which demanded different spare parts, different repair skills and even driving techniques. About all they had in common was the 2-pdr gun mounted in eight of them, yet not one of them was capable of being improved in this vital respect without taking serious liberties with the basic design, which were simply not worth taking."

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              • #8
                Originally posted by 17thfabn View Post

                Did the M18 tank destroyer and M24 light tanks use the same chassis and engine? I thought I had saw that in the past, But have never seen anything definative..
                The two tanks did not share many parts, AFAIK. Different engine, different transmission and two all-together different designs.

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