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What if US had tanks of its own in WW I?

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  • What if US had tanks of its own in WW I?

    What if the US had decided early in World War I that they would build up their defenses, while remaining neutral. Assume that the US would still enter the war at the same time that it did, but that they had more men in the military and they already had a tank corps, an air corps, and a chemical corps, and produced their weapons for these services. How would the war have played out differently?
    Last edited by lakechampainer; 13 Sep 09, 21:29.

  • #2
    I doubt it would have made much difference. The biggest obstacle to US operations in WW 1 wasn't equipment but simply getting the troops to Europe.
    Shipping makes the biggest difference. Even if the US had more equipment it would have had to ship it to Europe. The problem there was a matter of space and weight.
    There simply wasn't enought shipping given the short time the US was in the war to get all that equipment and manpower into Europe.

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    • #3
      I didn't phrase my thread well, T. A. Gardner. Part of what I had in mind is what if the Americans were shipping tanks, and artillery pieces, and planes, and took up some of the limited shipping space. This may have led to a slower buildup of troops. Also, the US may have tried to implement a rough "combined arms" doctrine of its own, which may have degraded its performance in the field, which may have possibly degraded the AEF's performance, it may have got too "fancy".

      If they had sent over their own Tank units in the beginning, there is a good chance some of the leading officers like Eisenhower might have been at the front and might have been killed in World War One.

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      • #4
        The Allies were counting on buying aircraft from the US, and instead had to lend us some of their own... we were that unprepared.

        Trained troops and equipment were in horribly short supply in 1917, so much so that aside from the Navy, the US took little part in combat that year.
        It is a strange comment on the US arms industry (or lack thereof) that there were not even prototypes of a machine that appeared a year before were ready for use.
        "Why is the Rum gone?"

        -Captain Jack

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        • #5
          I suspect the US army would have used the same combined operations techniques as that of the British/Empire and France armies. Of course, the American commanders would probably have ignored the same advise they did historically when they went into action (and suffered unnecessarily for it) but they would have adopted just as quickly as well. Methodical Battle was actually quite well thought out and incorporated infantry, tank, artillery and air support. It was used to full effect at Amiens and Montditier, breaking the German front and forcing a retreat that continued right up to the armistice.
          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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          • #6
            The US Army would also have to take the training of a substantial officier corps seriously, begaining at least fifteen and preferably twenty years earlier. In 1918 we discovered that a officer corps trained to the requirements of a constabulary and tiny frontier garrisons was totally incapable of managing the logistics and operational side of a modern at any level above a battalion. The few thousand reglar army officers who had been trained in modern staff work in the previous decade were overwhelmed by the requirements for staffing the several corps and army HQ fielded by the AEF. The vast mass of states militia officers and others newly commissioned found their hasty training nearly useless and had to fall back on their experience managing businesses, supervising factorys or mines, ect...

            The ability to field a mass of modern tanks & artillery as suggested above absolutely requires a long running program of systematically training a large mass of active service and reserve officers in modern staff techniques.

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            • #7
              On the other hand, it would only have taken one entreprenure with decent backing to come up with something good. It could have been done with export in mind... but looking back it is obvious that few Americans were thinking about US involvment in that war until right before it happened.

              An American tank similar to the Whippet or the excellent FT-17 would have been a huge influence on the war, IF it had been in mass production by mid-1917. One with a turret mounting a small cannon and a MG would have been a world-beater, and one that was simply reliable would have been better still.
              Later US tanks all had a high reliability rating, we could have established a new standard in that regard by 1918... but the spark just wasn't there.
              "Why is the Rum gone?"

              -Captain Jack

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                ... One with a turret mounting a small cannon and a MG would have been a world-beater, and one that was simply reliable would have been better still....
                That is the FT-17C, iirc. It had the 37mm SA18 with a coaxial mg all mounted in a fully rotating turret, two man crew. In use from 1918, grandfather of the modern tank. There was also an FT-17 with a 75mm howitzer in the turret (FT-17 75BS) but I don't think more than a few were available before the war ended.
                Last edited by The Purist; 17 Sep 09, 21:20.
                The Purist

                Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Purist View Post
                  That is the FT-17C, iirc. It had the 37mm SA18 with a coaxial mg all mounted in a fully rotating turret, two man crew. In use from 1918, grandfather of the modern tank. There was also an FT-17 with a 75mm howitzer in the turret (FT-17 75BS) but I don't think more than a few were available before the war ended.
                  No, every FT I ever saw, even in pics, had Either one or the other. And the only WW1 tanks I ever heard of with 75s were the big French jobs.... St. Chammond I think.
                  "Why is the Rum gone?"

                  -Captain Jack

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                    No, every FT I ever saw, even in pics, had Either one or the other. And the only WW1 tanks I ever heard of with 75s were the big French jobs.... St. Chammond I think.
                    FT-17M = mitrailleuse (machine gun)
                    FT-17C = Canon
                    FT-17 75BS = Blockhaus Schneider 75mm (howitzer)
                    FT-17 TSF = unarmed radio vehicle

                    FT-17C did not have the mg,... my error. 'Sections' consisted of two FT-17M, 2 FT-17C and 1 FT-17 75BS (as they became available). Radio vehicles (FT-17 TSF) were company and battalion commander vehicles.

                    3200 of all models produced to the end of WWi with a further 600 completed after the war. Built under license in the US as the '6 ton tank, in Italy as the Fiat 3000 and in the USSR as the KS and MS series.
                    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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                    • #11
                      FT-17 75BS = Blockhaus Schneider 75mm (howitzer)

                      Hot damn, I would love to see a pic of that one! I thought the Schneiders were another big beast with "an elephants body and the legs of a Gazelle".

                      Not surprised to hear that the radio version had no room for a gun, but it's very surprising to hear that it was fielded before the end of that war... the French built some very nice machines!

                      Just imagine what Henry Ford could have done if he had built tanks instead of trying to make small destroyers. (Eagle Boats)
                      "Why is the Rum gone?"

                      -Captain Jack

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