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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > World War II > Armor in World War II

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Armor in World War II Discuss all aspects & disciplines of World War II Armor here.

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  #406  
Old 18 Apr 12, 16:04
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Gerry,

The veteran Armor Divisions were always successful. The new ones had to work hard (like the Ardennes). I remember in a Book about Matt Ridgway's getting a Corps command, he was upset because most of his divisions were burnt out or new. The 13th and 20th Armor Divisions did not have a good rep at the end of the war in the ETO. I can't remember all the divisions involved, but I do remember the 8th Infantry was considered burnt out.

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  #407  
Old 18 Apr 12, 17:06
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Why is White's report accepted when it states that most US equipment was superior to that of the enemy, but when actual veterans find the Sherman wanting, those particular viewpoints are ignored, argued against and otherwise contested ??



Excluding medium/heavy tanks, the veterans say the following kit was superior to those used by the enemy:

The M2 50Cal.
The M3 Half-track.
The M1 Garand.
The M24 Chaffee.
The Thompson smg.
All wheeled vehicles.
Field rations in general.
Radios.
Signals equipment.
Sleeping bags.
M8 Armoured Car.
Clothing on the whole is better in quality and more comfortable.

Excluding tanks, the few bits of German kit considered better were:
The Panzerschrek.
Binoculars and optics.
Smokeless ammo.

Does that report really look that bogus ?
If tanks were not included, I doubt many/any would be concerned with the validity of its opinions.
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  #408  
Old 18 Apr 12, 17:36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
Gerry,

The veteran Armor Divisions were always successful. The new ones had to work hard (like the Ardennes). I remember in a Book about Matt Ridgway's getting a Corps command, he was upset because most of his divisions were burnt out or new. The 13th and 20th Armor Divisions did not have a good rep at the end of the war in the ETO. I can't remember all the divisions involved, but I do remember the 8th Infantry was considered burnt out....
Every army has its units that did not measure up but the US Army still managed to fight from one voctory to the next despite those units that did not 'gel'.
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  #409  
Old 18 Apr 12, 18:46
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Originally Posted by m kenny View Post
Note your tormentor has finaly decided (after he was outed) to come clean and reveal his identity

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...d.php?t=122014

It is good to see formerly banned members (plural) allowed back into the forum.
Researcher, Tanker, Duckbill, Little Joe et al..........
Duckbill...that's the one. He has been kicked out by all those names?
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  #410  
Old 18 Apr 12, 19:15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
I don't need to draw my own conclusions. General White stated:Bold is mine.

The Sherman came out on top due to its numbers and superior crews, not because it was a superior tank.
Let's remember to take all of White's opinions on the Sherman. He states:

"The M4A3E8 has comparable speed and maneuverability to any German tank." He goes on to say that if the the 76mm were longer with HVAP ammo achieving 3400-3500fps ..."this tank would be equal to anything our enemies have to offer."

Let's look at what the testing of the Panther brought out since this report focuses on the Panther so much. In the area of maneuverability the report states:

"The Mark V from a standstill can turn around without forward movement by locking one track. All drivers agreed that in movement, especially on roads and in built up areas, American tanks were somewhat easier to handle and more maneuverable." (emphasis added)
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  #411  
Old 18 Apr 12, 19:52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
It is still a report from the US 2nd AD General to Eisenhower.

Ike requests an informal letter and specifically dirests him not to make a general staff study. It should not carry the same weight as a report.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
The M4 is certainly superior to any Cat as a complete package.
I can't disagree here but I guess Bradley and Sleepyhead take exception.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
I would suggest that post Boccage, the overall standard of the W Ally tankers was superior.

Agreed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
You already know of two - flotation and the ability to make neutral turns since you have mentioned them yourself. Lets add maximum speed: Panther 38mph, Korean Sherman M4A3E8 with Ford V8 went max 34.1mph according to Zaloga. Most Shermans went far less (source).

Maximum road speed? For racing? Okay but let's just remember that we can't let any Panther take part in any battle for more than 1/2 hour.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
The formula is not such an oversimplification. Panzers and Shermans performed similarly well in the same tactical circumstances. If the Shermans were better than the opponents tanks, then they must have been let down by their crew. I don't buy that for one second.

I consider it an oversimplification because there are too many factors effecting an engagement to be represented accurately by that formula. Secondly it is a misrepresentation of what Purist said. He discussed the superiority of the Sherman, as I read it, on a broad scalle (along the lines of what we see in Panther's thread) and not a purely tactical comparison as your equation represents. I agree, Shermans were crewed by superior soldiers than their enemies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
I don't rate the Panther, as most posters here know. I'm just pointing out that the Sherman is NOT an excellent tank, just a reliable one available in vast numbers .
If we are going to refer to White's report as often as we have in the last two days the Panther must be a part of the discussion. If you are going to argue the Sherman v. the cats you have to discuss the Panther...you are discussing the Panther.
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  #412  
Old 18 Apr 12, 20:08
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Why is White's report accepted when it states that most US equipment was superior to that of the enemy, but when actual veterans find the Sherman wanting, those particular viewpoints are ignored, argued against and otherwise contested ??



Excluding medium/heavy tanks, the veterans say the following kit was superior to those used by the enemy:

The M2 50Cal.
The M3 Half-track.
The M1 Garand.
The M24 Chaffee.
The Thompson smg.
All wheeled vehicles.
Field rations in general.
Radios.
Signals equipment.
Sleeping bags.
M8 Armoured Car.
Clothing on the whole is better in quality and more comfortable.

Excluding tanks, the few bits of German kit considered better were:
The Panzerschrek.
Binoculars and optics.
Smokeless ammo.

Does that report really look that bogus ?
If tanks were not included, I doubt many/any would be concerned with the validity of its opinions.
I for one don't have any problem with what is written in the book if you remember a few things. First, what Eisenhower says in his letter to Gen. Whte, of the "human tendency to make startling statements in the hope that out of them will come a bit of publicity and self-notoriety. Second, that many G.I.'s complained because...G.I.'s complain. It is their right. Thirdly, that these statements are made with a large dose of fear, frustration and anger. These men don't want to be out there risking their lives over and over. I'm sure you could get similar replies from infantrymen who had far less protection and firepower. Fourth, if the section of questions posed to the TD battalion was any example of what everyone else answered the questions are leading. Fifth, give weight to the "official" comparisons of the M4A3E8 to the Panther.

Finally, remember that you've already admitted that the things the G.I.'s say you already knew.
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  #413  
Old 18 Apr 12, 20:23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Purist View Post
Every army has its units that did not measure up but the US Army still managed to fight from one voctory to the next despite those units that did not 'gel'.
There was never a doubt that the W Allies were not going to win.

As for the US armoured divisions, they were designed for the exploitation role, for which the Sherman fitted the bill. These divisions were an excellent balance of firepower and mobility, tanks and infantry for mobile operations. However, they were not suited for assaulting an enemy line. With the way the campaign was actually fought, the strategy employed, the closeness of the European terrain and the impact of the severe autumn/winter weather, various elements conspired to make said tank less suitable than others.

The Sherman has many strengths that makes it a better overall weapons package than any German tank imo. It was sturdy, took HE hits better than German afv's, and it had legs.
However, when it comes to actual combat power lets keep everything in perspective.

On one hand, the US 75mm M3 gun was one of the outstanding weapons of the war imo, an unfashionable view. It was more accurate than a howitzer, and carried greater HE per shell than HV alternatives, to be the best towed AT gun killer available to any W Ally tank. Given that PaK40 guns were common in NWE, more so than tanks, this is a very useful characteristic to have. Soft targets are more plentiful than hardened ones, and thus the greater rounds carried by the 75mm over howitzer and HV guns is also useful. Once you add 17pdrs and 105mm howitzers as weapon options, the M4 is looking like a decent combat tank.

On the otherhand, the M4 was never armoured/protected enough most of the time. Imo, medium tanks in 44 really should have a chance of standing up to the most overall effective tank killers in their opponents arsenal, especially over their frontal arc. As far as the Germans were concerned, you are really looking at the PaK/KwK/StuK40 range of 75mm weapons they were using in numbers. The Sherman had trouble standing up to PaK38's.

Therefore, the M4 was actually pretty good as far as firepower was concerned, but lacked protection.

Mobility is a similar story. Operationally, it was probably the best tank in WW2, period. Tactically it was adequate, even quite good providing the terrain was firm and not too steep. However, other tanks from 44 were doing better.

So far the M4 can be considered an adequate tank. Then it reveals its strength. Not only is it reliable and easy to maintain, it is relatively easy to produce and transport to where it is needed. Its strength is in numbers that can be brought to bear when required.

Therefore, can the Sherman be considered good value?

After D-Day the British had intended to have eight independent Tank Brigades to support their divisions in NWE. Due to huge resources being wasted on cruisers only 3 of these brigades were formed. These three Tank Brigades had 9 squadrons of 15 Churchills each as their main attacking component ie 675 men. The other brigades were issued with Shermans with 20 tanks per troop, ie 900 men, and renamed Armoured Brigades. To keep the combat power of each type of unit the same, the Armoured brigades were given a battalion of motorised infantry ie 600+ men.

By equipping formations with Shermans we can see there was a false economy in this case. A bit like buying a cheaper car, but one that has greater long term costs. In the case of a Tank vs an Armoured independant brigade, we are talking about c1000 men to make up the difference in combat power between a unit armed with one type of tanks and another with Shermans.

The three Tank brigades saved the CW around 2500 combat troops compared with those Armoured Brigades using Shermans. Given that Britain had to cannibalize infantry Divisions (eg 50th) to keep other divisions intact, this is an important consideration.

The Sherman was quite good, better than the T34, but not that good in cost effective terms as many believe.
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  #414  
Old 19 Apr 12, 04:33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
I for one don't have any problem with what is written in the book if you remember a few things. First, what Eisenhower says in his letter to Gen. Whte, of the "human tendency to make startling statements in the hope that out of them will come a bit of publicity and self-notoriety. Second, that many G.I.'s complained because...G.I.'s complain. It is their right. Thirdly, that these statements are made with a large dose of fear, frustration and anger. These men don't want to be out there risking their lives over and over. I'm sure you could get similar replies from infantrymen who had far less protection and firepower. Fourth, if the section of questions posed to the TD battalion was any example of what everyone else answered the questions are leading. Fifth, give weight to the "official" comparisons of the M4A3E8 to the Panther.

Finally, remember that you've already admitted that the things the G.I.'s say you already knew.
And yet ONLY the M4 is massively singled out for critism by the vererans?

The other kit ie
The M2 50Cal.
The M3 Half-track.
The M1 Garand.
The M24 Chaffee.
The Thompson smg.
All wheeled vehicles.
Field rations in general.
Radios.
Signals equipment.
Sleeping bags.
M8 Armoured Car.
Clothing on the whole is better in quality and more comfortable.

are considered better than the German stuff. Doesn't sound like complaining to me. Sounds like they know what they are talking about.

I would believe their testimonies until you can prove why they were wrong.
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  #415  
Old 19 Apr 12, 11:09
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
And yet ONLY the M4 is massively singled out for critism by the vererans?

The other kit ie
The M2 50Cal.
The M3 Half-track.
The M1 Garand.
The M24 Chaffee.
The Thompson smg.
All wheeled vehicles.
Field rations in general.
Radios.
Signals equipment.
Sleeping bags.
M8 Armoured Car.
Clothing on the whole is better in quality and more comfortable.

are considered better than the German stuff. Doesn't sound like complaining to me. Sounds like they know what they are talking about.

I would believe their testimonies until you can prove why they were wrong.
Let me see if I understand this:

-The G.I.'s quoted in White's "report" state the Sherman is inferior to German armor.

-You state repeatedly that you feel the Sherman is superior to German armor ("The Sherman has many strengths that makes it a better overall weapons package than any German tank imo." and "The M4 is certainly superior to any Cat as a complete package.")

-You want me to prove the G.I.'s are wrong.

Did I miss something?
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  #416  
Old 19 Apr 12, 17:18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
Let me see if I understand this:

-The G.I.'s quoted in White's "report" state the Sherman is inferior to German armor.

-You state repeatedly that you feel the Sherman is superior to German armor ("The Sherman has many strengths that makes it a better overall weapons package than any German tank imo." and "The M4 is certainly superior to any Cat as a complete package.")
From your post 394 here, you use the report here, to state the Sherman faired rather well in combat with tanks. Whites report has more than 50 statements by veterans that the Sherman is inferior than the German tanks. If you took the time to read those actually doing the fighting, you would realise the the US tankers are getting their shots off first and with enough accuracy to hit the target time and time again. This shows skill, not least because German optics were better.

The reason that the Shermans were equal to the German tanks at a tactical level is because the US tankers in both reports were obviously better than their adversaries imo. If the M4 tank is better than their counterparts at the tactical level, then the US crews must have been worse for the results to be even when both sides are in similar situations. The evidence is just not there to support the inferiority of US tankers compared with their opponents.

I realise it is not fashionable to praise US tankers in WW2, especially when many Nazi tank 'Aces' appear so prominent, and so-called Tigerphobia caused all the W Allies to apparantly panic and hide . However, they did advance against better armoured and armed machines to get close enough so that their numbers could make a difference. That takes courage.

The numbers element is important. The fact that the M4 was simpler, cheaper and more reliable and maintainable than the German tanks meant more could be fielded at once. It is also true that despite what many claim, achieving hits on any target in combat is far more difficult than many believe. It is the number of Shermans that could be fielded that allowed for US to win, coupled with crews that were willing to take losses while advancing. The individual tank itself was nothing special for most of its WW2 service, just the crews were.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
-You want me to prove the G.I.'s are wrong.

Did I miss something?
Yes you have missed something. You've already said that the G.I.'s were wrong. I'm asking you to prove it.
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  #417  
Old 19 Apr 12, 18:12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
If you took the time to read those actually doing the fighting, you would realise the the US tankers are getting their shots off first and with enough accuracy to hit the target time and time again.
I did read the book and I was the one that got you to buy it. Remember?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
This shows skill, not least because German optics were better.
It also shows better visibility. Hopefully the gunner is not the only crew member looking for the enemy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
I realise it is not fashionable to praise US tankers in WW2...
I have no problem with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
The individual tank itself was nothing special for most of its WW2 service, just the crews were.
I disagree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Yes you have missed something. You've already said that the G.I.'s were wrong. I'm asking you to prove it.
No, I didn't. I did say this: "I for one don't have any problem with what is written in the book if you remember a few things..."Scroll up and read the rest." What I have said, and you agreed, was that the G.I.'s made statements that told us nothing we didn't already know. The Panther (the German tank discussed most often) has better flotation, a more powerful gun, and thicker armor than U.S. tanks. What about what they said would I prove wrong? How would I prove it wrong? "Oh Sgt. Jones...your shots didn't bounce off that Panther...you killed it. Look, it's here in the AAR."
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  #418  
Old 19 Apr 12, 23:13
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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Rounds placed against the outer hull is pretty silly when even non penetrating hits can set off those rounds.
That's simply where ammunition was stowed in WW2 tanks. Once it was realized that it was a problem (despite the crews stowing extra main gun rounds), a fix was instituted, in contrast to anyone else. I'm unsure why this is a detriment rather than a positive thing.

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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
The 76mm did not live up to its billing, the hull mounted flamethrower was a joke, and the uparmoured E2 simply suffered the same problems as the German heavies.
Agreed on the 76 mm, but I'd hesitate to label the M3-4-3 (E4-5) flame thrower as a joke. It suffered in range and fuel load compared to tanks with the flamethrower as the main armament, but it didn't require a trailer. At least one member of the 70th Tank Battalion was happy with the unit when using it against pillboxes in the West Wall. In any case, there were main armament flame thrower tanks produced, and the POA-CWS-H1 equipped tanks proved valuable on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
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Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
The deficiencies of the Sherman’s 75, gun were known in late summer 1942. In August the Ordnance Dept. began working on what would become the 76mm gun, and it was standardized on 10 September 1942. (p. 326-327)
If by "deficiencies" you mean that there were better armor-penetrating guns in existence, then you're of course correct. A better hole-puncher was always planned for the Sherman, and we've noted here before that the US medium tank was upgunned at about the same rate as its competitors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
In a major effort to conserve limited supplies of strategic materials, in 1942 the War Engineering Board set up committees for each major component of the tank – on committee each for track, suspension, transmission, and final drive. Each committee determined the maximum stress to which each part would be subjected while in use and recommended that it be made of steel just strong enough to do the job required of it. In 1943 alone, it was estimated that the work of these committees on the M4 tank resulted in the saving of 3,500 tons of nickel, 1,000 tons of chromium, and 500 tons of molybdenum. Clearly the Sherman went into action with components that “were just strong enough to do the job.” (p. 485)
Reading more into the book cited, it seems we're making more out of the conservation program than we need to:
Quote:
Long before World War II, metallurgists had succeeded in producing steels with [desired] characteristics, but only by making liberal use of ferroalloys. After Pearl Harbor, and to some extent even before that date, this practice was threatened by a shortage of both alloys and electric-furnace capacity. At the time that military requirements were skyrocketing, the United States steel industry found itself cut off from most of its foreign sources of tungsten, chromium, vanadium, manganese, and other ferroalloys. Even with the more accessible metals such as nickel and molybdenum the demand for a time greatly exceeded the capacity of existing productive facilities.
A 1941 survey by Ordnance's Tank and Combat Vehicle Division noted that "sufficient quantities of alloys would not be available to produce tanks with [high-alloy] steel. The same survey supported the idea that rather large reductions in the alloy content of armor plate could be made without lowering the ballistic quality."


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
The ballistic qualities of tank armor suffered from these conservation methods too. Reduced use of certain metals compromised the strength of the armor. Experiments at Shilo showed that current methods of acceptance of armor by means of ballistic attack under normal conditions gave no assurance of satisfactory performance in subzero temperatures…. Face hardened plate, for instance, turned out to behave unsatisfactorily in extreme cold, and, while homogeneous armor preserved its shock properties fairly well, it likewise revealed an increased tendency towards cracking and back spalling (p. 377)
The quote about the Shilo tests was illustrating that the tests were inadequate, not the armor. The tests were unable to predict how armor would react to very cold temperatures, and new tests were developed to assure that the armor being produced was acceptable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
From all this, it seems clear that the deficiencies of the Sherman tank were known early in the war. The quality of its armor was never as good as it could have been. A more powerful gun was ready by the early fall of 1942, but was not put into production for about one and a half years. And many of its component parts “were just strong enough to do the job,” a telling bit of information.

The Sherman could have and should have been a better tank instead of the superlative fighting vehicle of the war that some mistakenly claim it to be. It was a very good tank, not a great one.
Any "deficiencies" in armor plate were not, since it was determined that the low-alloy armor would be ballistically sufficient. The 3" gun had always been intended for the M4. Having components that were strong enough for the job is more than can be said of Pz.Kpfw.Panther, for instance, which had weak final drives due to both design and composition. And since the weight of the M4A3 grew from 66,700 lbs to 74,200 lbs in the M4A3(76)W HVSS with an increase in mobility, the hypothesis about the US medium tank being built of weak components seems false, no?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Operation Grenade took place in February 1945. 76mm versions, nevermind Easy 8's, can be seen to be in relatively short supply even at this very late stage of the war. Given the production might of the US arsenal, this is an unacceptable failure of those in charge of supply to equip the sharp end with upgraded M4's
So the US Army goes from having enough 76 mm tanks in Europe in June 1944 to equip not even 3 battalions to having almost one-third 76 mm gun tanks by the Battle of the Bulge, to having over half the tanks in theater by the end of the war armed with the 76 mm gun, and this is unacceptable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
If the M4 had been upgraded earlier, and those versions in greater numbers, and we know it could have been, then the M4 could have been one of the wonder weapons of WW2. It was decided to make more average models instead. I believe that was the wrong decision. Once the Autumn rains arrived, M4 losses were such that the US was unable to supply their own army with enough mediums, nevermind supply their allies. This fact alone suggests my opinion is not without some merit.
The US medium tank was upgunned pretty quickly compared to its contemporaries, especially considering the lessons learned on the battlefield and the relatively higher pressures other countries were under. A decision was hardly made to "make more average models instead;" upgrades were performed and, as noted above, once it was realized that better AP performance was a must (in contrast to the WW2 tank's main use of firing HE), the percentage of 76 mm gun tanks increased rapidly. Until the Normandy invasion, though, not even the tankers themselves wanted heavier guns or tanks; nonetheless, improved models were already in production. As Yeide notes in Steel Victory, "It was to a large extent a problem of deploying equipment in the pipeline, rather than a failure to respond to the challenges posed by German tanks, that accounts for the seemingly outmoded [types of] Shermans being left to duke it out with Panthers, Tigers, King Tigers, and other deadly foes until the war's end." As good as the US was at building things, production can't be instantly switched so that new weapons instantly arrive in theater. We've been over the tank shortage before; the inexperienced US didn't keep enough reserves in theater. Stocks were replenished by late fall 1944.

I don't think there's any debate that the M4, even with the 76 mm gun, required a more-skilled crew to successfully take on heavier vehicles. It makes sense that if part of the enemy vehicle is nearly invulnerable to your weapons, while the reverse is not true, that the crew's competence will play a large role in living through the engagement. Though a small consolation for any M4 (or T-34, or Cromwell, or Churchill, or...) crewman facing a Panther or Tiger, tank-versus-tank fighting was a relatively small mission for the WW2 tank. The US should have realized that the 3"/76 mm guns would not be as powerful as claimed, and the medium tank might have been able to handle more powerful weapons, but as Patton noted in March 1945,
Quote:
Since 1 August 1944, when the Third Army became operational, our total tank casualties have amounted to 1,136 tanks. During the same period we have accounted for 2,287 German tanks, of which 808 were the Tiger or Panther variety, and 851 on our side were the M4...[L]et me add that the Third Army has always attacked, and therefore better than 70 percent of our tank casualties have occurred from dug-in antitank guns and not enemy tanks, whereas a majority of the enemy tanks have been put out by our tanks.
Complaints about tank-versus-tank performance were such a surprise to higher commanders, including Eisenhower, probably because the deficiencies never really mattered at the operational level. The individual tank crew was disadvantaged when they came upon a heavier vehicle, but these crews were time and again able to overcome the armor/firepower advantage of enemy heavy tanks. Combined with the fact that tank-versus-tank fighting was relatively rare compared to other tank missions, and as Johnson says in Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers, "the deficiencies of the [U.S.] tank component did not create a crisis for the whole, and the U.S. Army pushed into Germany." I find it's interesting to note the differing viewpoints on the performance of the US medium tank can be split down this line. Operationally, the M4 was never a problem. To the crews who had to take on heavier enemy vehicles, however...
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  #419  
Old 20 Apr 12, 01:04
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Excellent post DD.
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  #420  
Old 20 Apr 12, 06:19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
I did read the book and I was the one that got you to buy it. Remember?

I do remember and even gave you a pip for it .
Notice that you have not been using the report to support the M4. In fact you have derided the doc by stating the views contained was not an official 'report', and implied it could be ignored.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
It also shows better visibility. Hopefully the gunner is not the only crew member looking for the enemy.
I suspect the Commander may be looking out for the enemy as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
I have no problem with it.
Excellent. If similar numbers of tanks on each side have similar wins and losses in the same tactical situations, and one side has a better tank, then it must be let down by its crew. I believe that US tankers were better than their German counterparts, and thus the German panzers must be better at a tactical level to counter this US strength in personnel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
I disagree.
You surprise me . The German tanks have more powerful guns with better sights, better armour, and better maneuverability in the terrain given the actual weather conditions. The Shermans had better overall visability when buttoned up and a faster turret rotation speed. You might think that makes the M4 a superior machine in combat, I disagree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
No, I didn't. I did say this: "I for one don't have any problem with what is written in the book if you remember a few things..."Scroll up and read the rest." What I have said, and you agreed, was that the G.I.'s made statements that told us nothing we didn't already know. The Panther (the German tank discussed most often) has better flotation, a more powerful gun, and thicker armor than U.S. tanks. What about what they said would I prove wrong? How would I prove it wrong? "Oh Sgt. Jones...your shots didn't bounce off that Panther...you killed it. Look, it's here in the AAR."
If you are going to dismiss General White's opinion on the M4, what about Corporal Thomas G McLane:
Quote:
Our success in Europe are a result of superiority in numbers and superiority in cold guts, not a result of superior tanks.
Obviously US tankers only consider the tactical abilities of the relevant tanks, and that the superiority of numbers is due to the simplicity of manufacture, ease of transportability, low maintenance and high reliability that allows superior numbers to be fielded. This is what the M4 strength is, not as a decent combat machine in itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
That's simply where ammunition was stowed in WW2 tanks. Once it was realized that it was a problem (despite the crews stowing extra main gun rounds), a fix was instituted, in contrast to anyone else. I'm unsure why this is a detriment rather than a positive thing.
If you are talking about wet stowage it was too little too late for most. If you are talking about armoured bins, the Germans were there first iirc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
Agreed on the 76 mm, but I'd hesitate to label the M3-4-3 (E4-5) flame thrower as a joke. It suffered in range and fuel load compared to tanks with the flamethrower as the main armament, but it didn't require a trailer. At least one member of the 70th Tank Battalion was happy with the unit when using it against pillboxes in the West Wall. In any case, there were main armament flame thrower tanks produced, and the POA-CWS-H1 equipped tanks proved valuable on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
My opinion stems from Zalogas 'Armoured Thunderbolts'. Further, the decent flamethrower version in the Pacific lost their 75mm, and therefore a less useful tank as an overall package.

And I wouldn't be so dismissive of the trailer. It could be jettisoned very quickly and had a number of other advantages. Crocadile crews quickly realised that the Germans would target the trailer, and so most were actually empty when towed into combat much of the time. The Germans would shoot at a worthless target, meaning they were wasting ammo and possibly giving their position away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
If by "deficiencies" you mean that there were better armor-penetrating guns in existence, then you're of course correct. A better hole-puncher was always planned for the Sherman, and we've noted here before that the US medium tank was upgunned at about the same rate as its competitors.
The 90mm would have been perfect for the M4, and if that had been introduced, and it could have been, then this debate would probably not be happening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
So the US Army goes from having enough 76 mm tanks in Europe in June 1944 to equip not even 3 battalions to having almost one-third 76 mm gun tanks by the Battle of the Bulge, to having over half the tanks in theater by the end of the war armed with the 76 mm gun, and this is unacceptable?
If General White says that he had 29% 76mm's then I'm inclined to believe him. There may have been more, but none where it mattered.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
The US medium tank was upgunned pretty quickly compared to its contemporaries, especially considering the lessons learned on the battlefield and the relatively higher pressures other countries were under. A decision was hardly made to "make more average models instead;" upgrades were performed and, as noted above, once it was realized that better AP performance was a must (in contrast to the WW2 tank's main use of firing HE), the percentage of 76 mm gun tanks increased rapidly. Until the Normandy invasion, though, not even the tankers themselves wanted heavier guns or tanks; nonetheless, improved models were already in production. As Yeide notes in Steel Victory, "It was to a large extent a problem of deploying equipment in the pipeline, rather than a failure to respond to the challenges posed by German tanks, that accounts for the seemingly outmoded [types of] Shermans being left to duke it out with Panthers, Tigers, King Tigers, and other deadly foes until the war's end." As good as the US was at building things, production can't be instantly switched so that new weapons instantly arrive in theater. We've been over the tank shortage before; the inexperienced US didn't keep enough reserves in theater. Stocks were replenished by late fall 1944.
Not enough reserves, means that the US were losing tanks faster than expected. Further, the real problem with the M4 was that while it was almost certainly the best tank in the world when first introduced, the powers that be decided to rest on its laurels and focus almost solely on quantity. There were improvements, but let us compare the M4 with the British cruiser program. The first M4's were completely superior to both the A15 Crusader and A24 Centaur in almost every measure conceivable. By 1945 the M4A3E8 was not superior to the A34 Comet, and was lacking in several key areas to the British tank, eg firepower. The US could produce kit in both huge quantity and superior quality as shown by their aircraft production. It is just a pity they did not follow suit with their tanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
I don't think there's any debate that the M4, even with the 76 mm gun, required a more-skilled crew to successfully take on heavier vehicles. It makes sense that if part of the enemy vehicle is nearly invulnerable to your weapons, while the reverse is not true, that the crew's competence will play a large role in living through the engagement. Though a small consolation for any M4 (or T-34, or Cromwell, or Churchill, or...) crewman facing a Panther or Tiger, tank-versus-tank fighting was a relatively small mission for the WW2 tank. The US should have realized that the 3"/76 mm guns would not be as powerful as claimed, and the medium tank might have been able to handle more powerful weapons, but as Patton noted in March 1945,
Quote:
Since 1 August 1944, when the Third Army became operational, our total tank casualties have amounted to 1,136 tanks. During the same period we have accounted for 2,287 German tanks, of which 808 were the Tiger or Panther variety, and 851 on our side were the M4...[L]et me add that the Third Army has always attacked, and therefore better than 70 percent of our tank casualties have occurred from dug-in antitank guns and not enemy tanks, whereas a majority of the enemy tanks have been put out by our tanks.
I've used that quote as well . However, my point on the US gun remains valid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
Complaints about tank-versus-tank performance were such a surprise to higher commanders, including Eisenhower, probably because the deficiencies never really mattered at the operational level. The individual tank crew was disadvantaged when they came upon a heavier vehicle, but these crews were time and again able to overcome the armor/firepower advantage of enemy heavy tanks. Combined with the fact that tank-versus-tank fighting was relatively rare compared to other tank missions, and as Johnson says in Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers, "the deficiencies of the [U.S.] tank component did not create a crisis for the whole, and the U.S. Army pushed into Germany." I find it's interesting to note the differing viewpoints on the performance of the US medium tank can be split down this line. Operationally, the M4 was never a problem. To the crews who had to take on heavier enemy vehicles, however...
In the report here, gun size apparantly does not make a difference, although veterans state a different story. To me Data on World War II Tank Engagements Involving the U.S. Third and Fourth Armored Divisions by David C. Hardison has one telling piece of additional info, and that is the distance that tanks were killed at. US troops had to get much closer, and this ties in with both higher command and vets opinions that getting in close was what mattered if you are deficient in gun/armour.

However, we can see the bigger picture, and we know that HE was the most important single round, the M3 75mm being better than both the M1 76mm and 17pdr in this case. The M3 90mm would have been an ideal all rounder. Of course the Soviets had been putting decent guns in the T34 for years. Their 76.2mm F-34 was the best tank gun when introduced, able to fire both a decent HE and AP, when other nations were employing two types for the job, sometimes on the same tank. They then upgraded to 85mm, which effectively combined the best features of the US 75mm and 76mm guns. As far as a main gun for the mediums was concerned, the Soviet T-34 tended to be better armed than the M4.

Many apologies for straying back on topic .
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