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T34 tanks in the Western Desert 1941

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  • T34 tanks in the Western Desert 1941

    Occasionaly I run across claims the British inquired about purchasing some Soviet tanks during the winter of 1940-41. Presumablly the logical place to use these would be in the Middle East & Africa.

    Lets assume for this the USSR agrees, shipping some 200 BT7 by rail via Theran to the Persian Gulf & production of the T34 is sped up so three dozen are sent as well. The tanks start arriving by cargo ship in Egypt in April or May. What changes would this cause?

  • #2
    I'd consider the BT-7's performance in the desert equal to the Honey or Stuart. The poor optics in the T-34 might be even more obvious due to the longer engagement ranges of the desert.

    Did the British use diesel or would they have to bring in diesel specifically for the Soviet armor?

    Edit- There would still have to be a change of British armor tactics since charging into German AT guns would still have the same end result with BT-7's as it did with Cruisers.
    Last edited by Freightshaker; 17 Apr 10, 10:39.
    If you can't set a good example, be a glaring warning.

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    • #3
      I think it would have been a disastrous experiment. The small nature of the crew spaces in the Soviet tanks would have made them unpopular with British crews and the lack of radios would have garnered the same opinion from their officers. As FS has said, it would have made no difference to British tank tactics.
      Signing out.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
        I think it would have been a disastrous experiment. The small nature of the crew spaces in the Soviet tanks would have made them unpopular with British crews and the lack of radios would have garnered the same opinion from their officers. As FS has said, it would have made no difference to British tank tactics.
        Worse, it was not the kit that really let the British Army down imo, but the whole leadership and intelligence (iq not info gathering) of said British Army. The more I read about our army in WW2 the more I believe we lost at first rather than the Germans won. That includes the French and Soviets as well.

        Napoleon once said of the British cavalry that it had the best troops but worst led (rep to the first person who produces the exact quote). Some things never change.

        I will defend Monty to the hilt on the simple fact that he brought home thousands of more troops than expected from the NWE campaign. I would not state he was a A class general by any stretch of the imagination. Britain should have been able to produce several better officers but only one springs to mind (at his level).
        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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        • #5
          Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
          Worse, it was not the kit that really let the British Army down imo, but the whole leadership and intelligence (iq not info gathering) of said British Army. The more I read about our army in WW2 the more I believe we lost at first rather than the Germans won. That includes the French and Soviets as well.
          It's rarely the fault of the ordinary soldier. It may sometimes be the equipment, but usually it's the system and/or the commanders who follow it. For most of the war the German system was better than anything that came up against it. Simplistic as it may be, until the Western Allies could bring enough firepower to bear whilst simultaneously hobbling the German Army, they were always going to be outmanoeuvred. That would be true even if every tank in the British Army was a T-34 or better.

          I will defend Monty to the hilt on the simple fact that he brought home thousands of more troops than expected from the NWE campaign. I would not state he was a A class general by any stretch of the imagination. Britain should have been able to produce several better officers but only one springs to mind (at his level).
          Montgomery got the best out of the weapon he had at his disposal, especially in the Western Desert. Once casualties became a real problem he fought the war with, in effect, one arm tied behind his back. Unfortunately his public pronouncements didn't reflect this for a number of reasons leading to issues that still remain unresolved to this day .... at least in some people's minds. Had he had the manpower resources the Soviets, or even the Germans, had he might have been able to push harder and be more imaginative (or take risks). But under the spotlight in North Western Europe the preservation of British soldier's lives took priority.
          Signing out.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
            Montgomery got the best out of the weapon he had at his disposal, especially in the Western Desert. Once casualties became a real problem he fought the war with, in effect, one arm tied behind his back. Unfortunately his public pronouncements didn't reflect this for a number of reasons leading to issues that still remain unresolved to this day .... at least in some people's minds. Had he had the manpower resources the Soviets, or even the Germans, had he might have been able to push harder and be more imaginative (or take risks). But under the spotlight in North Western Europe the preservation of British soldier's lives took priority.
            Then let me ask, with all due respect, why was manpower such a problem? The Commonwealth and Germany were matched in terms of population around 70 million a pop, the French had less people and they prepared their army for a long war of attrition, which would have killed more people than the Allied thrust to the Rhine, a war that would not see offensives until 41 or 42. Furthermore German forces were still largely indisposed, fighting for their lives in the east. Relatively speaking, manpower should have been an advantage of the British forces, not a problem. Did the British birthrate drop out severely decades before the Continent?
            How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
            275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
              It's rarely the fault of the ordinary soldier.......
              Agreed .

              I may have been kicked out of the army more times than most have served, but junior officers I have always had respect for. Senior officers are another matter. I would actually trust a Eton or Winchester boy as a great lieutenant, not the rank major or above.
              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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              • #8
                Originally posted by Wolery View Post
                Then let me ask, with all due respect, why was manpower such a problem?
                The British mobilised about the same proportion of their manpower as the rest of the major combatants. Germany started running out of replacements in 1942 and resorted to conscripting from the Volksdeutsch and when that barrel was scraped they recruited any PoW who might be willing to fight as well as old, young, sick or infirm Germans who would otherwise have been regarded as totally unfit for service. The latter were just about suitable for low level police work or manning fortifications. The British Army, being on the offensive from late 1942 onwards, could not do that. The Army was also a lower priority for the fittest men than the Navy and the RAF - compare that with Germany where by 1944 the Army was the only sizeable force they fielded.
                Signing out.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                  The British mobilised about the same proportion of their manpower as the rest of the major combatants. Germany started running out of replacements in 1942 and resorted to conscripting from the Volksdeutsch and when that barrel was scraped they recruited any PoW who might be willing to fight as well as old, young, sick or infirm Germans who would otherwise have been regarded as totally unfit for service. The latter were just about suitable for low level police work or manning fortifications. The British Army, being on the offensive from late 1942 onwards, could not do that. The Army was also a lower priority for the fittest men than the Navy and the RAF - compare that with Germany where by 1944 the Army was the only sizeable force they fielded.
                  True, but again, with the German war maschine so wretched, why the cause for concern over casulaties. By that I mean the best way to preserve soldiers is to end the war as quickly as possible and that involves moving with extreme agreesion and a non-stop movement to the Elbe, crossing the Elbe is neccessary and taking Berlin. Speed is what would save the day, not doddering about as Monty was prone to doing.
                  How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
                  275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Wolery View Post
                    True, but again, with the German war maschine so wretched, why the cause for concern over casulaties. By that I mean the best way to preserve soldiers is to end the war as quickly as possible and that involves moving with extreme agreesion and a non-stop movement to the Elbe, crossing the Elbe is neccessary and taking Berlin. Speed is what would save the day, not doddering about as Monty was prone to doing.
                    Monty didn't 'dodder about'.

                    The US and British chiefs didn't agree with your assessment of the best way to keep casualties low. The Soviets tried that way and suffered hideously. Plus Allied logistics made such a rapid thrust extremely risky.
                    Signing out.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Full Monty View Post
                      It's rarely the fault of the ordinary soldier. It may sometimes be the equipment, but usually it's the system and/or the commanders who follow it.
                      As the management consultant told me "The fish rots from the head first."

                      I was thinking more in terms of of how the British, & later the US Army though of tank design. Both came up with superior designs 1942-43, which were not in production until 1945. Would a close look at Soviet designs, and a 'field test' accelerate movement towards the Centurion or T20 concepts?

                      I dont think a T34 apperance in may 1941 is soon enough to make any difference in German thinking on tank design.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                        I was thinking more in terms of of how the British, & later the US Army though of tank design. Both came up with superior designs 1942-43, which were not in production until 1945. Would a close look at Soviet designs, and a 'field test' accelerate movement towards the Centurion or T20 concepts?
                        Ah.

                        I'm not inclined to think so. The limited range of the T-34 and its crude construction would have made any combat evaluation difficult. The problems of visibility and command (due to the lack of a radio) would have just made that worse. The tendency of the British tankies to seek decisive tank vs tank engagements and the way the Germans deployed their AT guns to counter this would mean that the guys crewing the T-34s would not have a clue as to what was hitting them and what was knocking them out.
                        Signing out.

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                        • #13
                          So there would be just one more model of burned out tank to learn from.

                          Remind me what it was the Germans were so impressed about in the first T34 tanks they encountered.

                          I do recall the intiall production batch from 1940-41 were suposed to be much better finished that the post June 'emergency' rush production.

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                          • #14
                            The sloped armor was the biggest thing, mostly in how German shells just bounced of the T-34 except when getting real close. Probably not on their known list but it's range was a lot better than any German tank AND diesel doesn't explode.
                            How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
                            275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              As for the T34 in the Desert....

                              The Isreali's really had no difficulties fighting them. The Germans would have used the 88s to "clean house" at long ranges. I think the Brits would NOT have liked either Russian tank due to the cramped spaces in each, the lack of radios would definitely hinder the Brits C&C. The Brits really liked the Honeys and the early Shermans. They needed the Grants/Lees as stop-gap fillers to battle the MkIIIs and MkIVs because the British Cruiser tanks and their 40mm Main Guns just truly were TERRIBLE.
                              Kevin Kenneally
                              Masters from a school of "hard knocks"
                              Member of a Ph.D. Society (Post hole. Digger)

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