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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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  #1  
Old 25 Jul 12, 21:01
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WW2 tanks tracks|untracked

My question is concerning ww2 tanks tracks.

What could a tank do when it comes to rolling over fences, obstacles, stonewalls, going thru stone houses?

was it easy to lose a track?

Or tankers simply went thru everything cos tracks were reliable?

id like to know more about that,

thank you
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  #2  
Old 28 Jul 12, 01:30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aloess View Post
My question is concerning ww2 tanks tracks.

What could a tank do when it comes to rolling over fences, obstacles, stonewalls, going thru stone houses?

was it easy to lose a track?

Or tankers simply went thru everything cos tracks were reliable?

id like to know more about that,

thank you
Depends on the tank. Tank data usually includes the tank's limits for: highest obstacle it can cross, max slope, and max trench width. Anything higher, steeper, or wider blocks the tank. Going through fences or walls increases the risk of damaging/jamming or throwing a track. Barbed wire can get tangled in the tracks and large stones can get jammed in the road wheels. Going over obstacles also can expose the thin belly armor to enemy fire.

Driving through a house of any type is usually a bad idea. It's a rough way to test the floor at ground level to see if it will hold the weight of a tank and keep it out of the cellar. Also to test the location of load bearing walls or posts that keep the roof from collapsing on the tank. If you pass both tests and make it out the other side, you can open the hatches (you did close them before debris rained down from the ceiling, didn't you?) and see if your radio antenna and stowage bins are still attached.

Tanks could and did go through obstacles; they just didn't do so on impulse.
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  #3  
Old 28 Jul 12, 03:52
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all right but,

would you say it was easy or not for a tank to lose a track? (concerning rolling over obstacles)
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  #4  
Old 28 Jul 12, 08:01
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Originally Posted by Aloess View Post
all right but,

would you say it was easy or not for a tank to lose a track? (concerning rolling over obstacles)
A tank is not likely to throw a track simply from crossing an obstacle at a reasonable speed.

Turning movements are more likely to wedge dirt/rocks into one side of the tracks and increase the risk of throwing them. Some tanks were notorious for throwing their tracks easily.

Track maintenance can be a big factor here. If the track tension is too tight it increases the risk of shearing a track pin and having the tracks break and come right off. If too loose, it increases the risk of throwing the track during a turn.

I found a lengthy discussion of the topic here:

http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=190926
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  #5  
Old 28 Jul 12, 12:55
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For easiest thrown, it would be the Soviet christie design hands down. This is an untensioned track (ie, it has no tension on it in return riding essentially loose on the road wheels) that has only one guide pin per alternating section. It is also weakly pinned by a single loose connecting dry pin (ie., unlubircated)

These tracks tend to whip up and down at high speed, are easily thrown in a turn at speed, and can easily break due to the nature of the pin arrangement.

A propery tensioned track with return rollers is far less likely to be thrown or break.

When crossing obstacles, the biggest concern is their uneveness. That is, something like stumps, large rocks, big chunks of rubble, are the biggest danger. These can put the tank's track on a very small bearing surface or get wedged between the track and suspension increasing the likelihood of failure.
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  #6  
Old 28 Jul 12, 14:29
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Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
For easiest thrown, it would be the Soviet christie design hands down. This is an untensioned track (ie, it has no tension on it in return riding essentially loose on the road wheels) that has only one guide pin per alternating section. It is also weakly pinned by a single loose connecting dry pin (ie., unlubircated)

These tracks tend to whip up and down at high speed, are easily thrown in a turn at speed, and can easily break due to the nature of the pin arrangement.

A propery tensioned track with return rollers is far less likely to be thrown or break.

When crossing obstacles, the biggest concern is their uneveness. That is, something like stumps, large rocks, big chunks of rubble, are the biggest danger. These can put the tank's track on a very small bearing surface or get wedged between the track and suspension increasing the likelihood of failure.
I readily agree with all this. But all the same bearing in mind that it is still easier to replace a broken track pin than a whole suspension unit of a Christy system. Which leads me to believe that the shear/tensile strength of the pin and its arrangement are chosen as such to avoid just this. Thus breaking of the pin is not an indicator of a manufacturing/design fault, but as built in safety to avoid more serious damage.

Regarding a properly stensioned track theoritically is is less pone to being thrown. However unable to being thrown or break is another matter.
To avoid breaking or trowing of tracks at any cost would be a foolish design strategy.

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Last edited by dutched; 28 Jul 12 at 14:57..
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Old 28 Jul 12, 15:13
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ok i understand you guys talk about design, safety of pin to avoid further damage etc.

but what id really like to know is,

during combat, when a tank rushed and destroyed, say a stone wall made around a house by the owner, or went thru a house to get behind an enemy etc.

how likely was a tank to throw a track? and if not on the first time, did it increase with the number of times the tank would roll over something?

or simply put, was it badluck for a tank to lose a track, or it happened frequently?

Or tankers knew better to roll over obstacles ?(and avoided them on purpose)

Last edited by Aloess; 28 Jul 12 at 15:26..
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Old 28 Jul 12, 21:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aloess View Post
ok i understand you guys talk about design, safety of pin to avoid further damage etc.

but what id really like to know is,

during combat, when a tank rushed and destroyed, say a stone wall made around a house by the owner, or went thru a house to get behind an enemy etc.

how likely was a tank to throw a track? and if not on the first time, did it increase with the number of times the tank would roll over something?

or simply put, was it badluck for a tank to lose a track, or it happened frequently?

Or tankers knew better to roll over obstacles ?(and avoided them on purpose)
A tank would not go through a house. The floor would collapse and the tank would end up in the cellar. Even if the house had no cellar, and the tank commander knew that fact, driving through a house is likely to cause the roof to collapse onto the tank.

Tanks will generally avoid crossing a stone wall unless absolutely necessary. There's both a risk of getting stones caught in the tracks and causing a problem there, and a risk of exposing the weaker floor armor as the tank rides up and over a wall that it does not break through. Plus the intact wall provides some amount of protection when the tank is behind it. Going around is generally a better idea.

The chance of throwing a track does not increase with the number of times it crosses an obstacle. Crossing doesn't weaken the track.

It's very bad luck when a tank loses a track in combat. Mobility is part of a tank's protection. When it can't move, it's little more than a pillbox. Enemy tanks can manuever to get good shots against it's side or rear armor. If the crew tries to repair the track, they're exposed to fire.

Not so bad if a tank throws a track in a safe area in the rear. That just means the crew has a lot of work to do. Unpleasant work if the tank was in two feet of mud when it happened. Very unpleasant if enemy aircraft fly by and spot the tank.
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Old 03 Aug 12, 11:42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aloess View Post
ok i understand you guys talk about design, safety of pin to avoid further damage etc.

but what id really like to know is,

during combat, when a tank rushed and destroyed, say a stone wall made around a house by the owner, or went thru a house to get behind an enemy etc.

how likely was a tank to throw a track? and if not on the first time, did it increase with the number of times the tank would roll over something?

or simply put, was it badluck for a tank to lose a track, or it happened frequently?

Or tankers knew better to roll over obstacles ?(and avoided them on purpose)
Ok. Here is my view:

I think each time driving across an obstacle there is a risk. Sometimes it depended on the skill of the driver. How he handled the speed and maneuvering. A poor driver would be stuck in a shell crater but a good one knew how to handle the tank across it or around it.

If you broke a pin causing a cut track, throw a track or breaking a track link (usually by uneven rocks) by dangerous driving you endanger the crew, the other tanks in the platoon and might foul the entire attack. You would also get punished by your Co and maybe the whole company. So tank training schools made it very clear to drivers of how to drive and what to avoid.

So tree stumps, craters, soft ground, road ditches, stone walls, non wooden buildings is to be avoided at all cost. Rubble could not only damage or destroy a track but also wedge a tank immobile. As the tank in forward motion enters uneven ground it can slide a heap of rubble underneath the hull raising the tank. This will lead to a loss of traction as the tracks don't get any grip to pull it out and will immobilize the tank

Passing through houses is dangerous not only for the tank but actually most for the gun. If heavy debris ex. collapsed roof beams falls down on the gun barrel they will knock the gun out of alignment and possibly damage the aiming gears rendering it useless as you don't hit where you aim any longer.

However during the war hiding inside buildings was not uncommon, neither was short cuts through buildings. Biggest concern was for the driver get the gun barrel both in and out a window before the hull rips through the wall. When running into a building the commander had to make a judgment based on the type of building and construction, probably though experience. Cellars are not the main problem what I know of more then it does sound dangerous. I expect a medium tank to be able cross most potato or coal cellars in smaller houses just as it pass a medium trench. A worse case would be a stuck track if having some exceptionally bad luck of hitting one of these cellars. Collapses and gun damage are the ones enlighten in literature. Also most houses run through are made of wood as cottages or smaller summer houses are unlikely to cause too much damage. Usually tanks passes through gardens between the houses especially when the war enters Hungary, West Poland and France with sturdier design.

Also a street where a wall of a multi story building had collapsed would block the road for a tracked vehicle. If to pass engineers or Bulldozers will have to clear it either by explosives or blade. Same with lower rock/stone walls in fields or rock/stone barricades. Although a slow moving heavy tank like a Soviet IS-2 or King tiger would probably manage to go through them if careful enough.

Is there a risk? Yes. In emergencies one takes risks but usually one try to avoid them.

A frequency in maybe game terms? As Tank drivers did avoid these situations its very hard to analyze what chances actually is. By going against the book only once would probably not have any implication. But driving a tank company through a town, treading it badly there will be immobilizations and damaged guns.

Easy rule would say: Tanks may not enter bla bla bla. But once per game, one tank may break the rule.

If using skills or chances players tend to over-use the “not” normal procedures. So its better to avoid them.

Or the uncanny “bad luck” rule. First time it happens there is a small risk. Each time the rule is broken by either, friend or foe, the risk increases. When suddenly a tank do gets immobilized the risk goes back again to be “small” again and increases from there. This way something will happen if players break the rules many times, it will not be frequent but it will happen, also it can happen each time and that is what is called bad luck.

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Old 04 Aug 12, 01:46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoPref View Post
Depends on the tank. Tank data usually includes the tank's limits for: highest obstacle it can cross, max slope, and max trench width. Anything higher, steeper, or wider blocks the tank. Going through fences or walls increases the risk of damaging/jamming or throwing a track. Barbed wire can get tangled in the tracks and large stones can get jammed in the road wheels. Going over obstacles also can expose the thin belly armor to enemy fire.

Driving through a house of any type is usually a bad idea. It's a rough way to test the floor at ground level to see if it will hold the weight of a tank and keep it out of the cellar. Also to test the location of load bearing walls or posts that keep the roof from collapsing on the tank. If you pass both tests and make it out the other side, you can open the hatches (you did close them before debris rained down from the ceiling, didn't you?) and see if your radio antenna and stowage bins are still attached.

Tanks could and did go through obstacles; they just didn't do so on impulse.
And make sure that the turret is turned to the rear and the barrel is depressed before hand.

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Old 06 Aug 12, 06:35
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And make sure that the turret is turned to the rear and the barrel is depressed before hand.

Paul
Oh yes! Of course. That's the safe one. But under combat condition or using SP's like STUGs one had to improvise. I'm not sure it was by the book going gun first. Also if one is converting the building into an ambush fire position to avoid detection and enemy aerial reconnaissance it was a good idea to keep the gun to the front. This was not uncommon when hiding was scarce.

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Old 06 Aug 12, 12:53
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Hi

On a slightly tangent note, it used to make me laugh back in the day when some gamers would regularly move their tanks through wooded areas, without any thought about the ability to do so in reality.
Many were brought up a B/W films of tanks smashing through woods/trees, yet if the tree was anything more than several yrs old, a tank would soon become stuck. Many an argument ensued within the games from that point
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Old 07 Aug 12, 06:37
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That's when terrain rules become oh so important
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Old 09 Aug 12, 13:24
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Hi

On a slightly tangent note, it used to make me laugh back in the day when some gamers would regularly move their tanks through wooded areas, without any thought about the ability to do so in reality.
Many were brought up a B/W films of tanks smashing through woods/trees, yet if the tree was anything more than several yrs old, a tank would soon become stuck. Many an argument ensued within the games from that point
I know that too and it was discussed not long ago somewhere here. Usually fire lanes and trails were carefully navigated but I recently learned from some tanker accounts that they could pass directly through sparse woods, glens, younger pine forests and birch woods. Oh! also artillery could clear some routs if there wasn't any from the beginning.

Of course this is not in combat but used during enveloping maneuvers or while crawling into assault positions close to open ground. Otherwise dozer blades or accompanying engineer units could clear smaller routs.

Also a forest by itself could be very light to extremely heavy and dense. If You can drive through a forest in say a game I always imagine it to be "light" or sparse enough for tanks to pass. Even large old oak forests can have a reasonable distance between tree trunks to maneuverer between.

Tanks could probably go through following two pictures:




The second one has enough space between the thicker trees to maneuver. But the third one, interspersed with heavy trees could be difficult:


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Old 13 Aug 12, 11:04
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According a tank driver over here toppling trees are no problem for a tank. Actual judgment of size is 1cm (0,4") per ton of tank. So a 30 ton Sherman should be able to topple up to 30cm / 1 feet thick trees at a slow speed pushing tree away from you or else if in higher speed it might topple over the tank instead.

So moving right through a forest should not bee seen as that difficult although Ill bet it will put some strain on the engine etc. It should also be noted that stumps of trees are still far more dangerous then actual uprooted trees as when you have driven over them.

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