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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 > W. Allied Armor

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W. Allied Armor Discuss all non-Axis and non-Russian armor here. [seeking companion website on Allied Armor for this forum]

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  #46  
Old 18 Sep 08, 13:14
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M4a3e8

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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
The Soviets wanted to beat the Nazi's quickly and so mobility was their next concern. In this case the T34-85 was a good tool for what the Soviets wanted to achieve. Reasonable gun, good mobility and cheap as chips. The western Allies wanted to win with the fewest loses to themselves, so protection comes next. While I (currently) believe the Easy 8 (probably the best overall Sherman in ww2) would have been better than the T34-85 on the Eastern Front, if trying to minimise your own casualties you need more armour. That means more Jumbos and Churchills. Unfortunately it seems that both the Brits and US thought they knew better than the other, when they only did half the time each, and really improved weapon systems which could so easily been available were not. 17pdr on the Hellcat anyone?
I don't really understand this. I doubt whether many Soviet crewmen were more willing to die than those of the western allies - sounds a bit like Cold War propaganda to me. In gun power there was little difference between the US 76mm and Soviet 85mm except at extreme range, where the US gun was about 12mm better at penetration. I have discounted APCR as this was extremely rare - more so in the US army than the Soviet by all accounts.

The Easy Eight Sherman had better optical equipment and - for those versions fitted with Oilgear traverse gear - a smoother mechanism that allowed aiming using power. In traverse speed the Sherman was a bit better 15 seconds as opposed to about 17-18 for the T-34/85. In armour there was very little in it, though the T-34's sdie armour was better. In mobility, both maximum speed and ability to cross soft ground the T-34 had the edge.

As for the best Sherman, the Firefly on the M4 and M4A4 could dismantle any German AFV frontally save perhaps those on the Tiger II chasis not fitted with the Porsche turret. The M4A3E8 could not.

Easy Eight Shermans would have been a pain in the a**e on the eastern front as they had gasoline engines, which is why M4A2 diesel Shermans went to the USSR, including 76mm versions.

Jumbo was very much a temporary expedient and not a realistic option for mass-production. Most only had the 75mm gun, so it was very much a door knocker. It had better armourt than even the Churchill VII, but the latter could go just about anywhere under its own power, in mud as well as on roads. Not so sure about Jumbo in hilly terrain or if it rained too much.
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  #47  
Old 18 Sep 08, 17:31
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To Charles - you are quite right of course, which is why you are a Sergeant Major and I'm a private - bottom class. Glad you have discounted specialist ammo as this only appears to be found in numbers on the wargames table, and not real life. Diesel M4's would work better in Russian winters, and the 17pdr is a much better armour penetrator. However, the Easy 8 with all the bells and whistles is still the best Medium IMHO, until the Comet, a fantastic piece of kit, available September 1944 and not really used until too late (why?).

I also agree the Jumbo's crosscountry performance would be have inferior to that of any Churchill, since the trials as given in David Fletchers book Mr Churchills Tank give a slight edge to the mobility of a Churchill over the standard M4. However, while I have read some ludicrous values for the E2's armour, a maximum turret thickness of 150mm and hull front 100mm for its weight of aprox 40 tons seems logical. Its armour and weight would place it between the earlier (up to Mk6) and later Churchills (Mk7 onwards, excluding LT versions). Perhaps its performance would have been not too impaired (? - this I'm definitely guessing at). The figures you have on crew survivability, may have been included in his book (my opinion on crew survivability comes from reading this), as he was the former curator and librarian of the Tank Museum. If not, and there was some way to compare crew survivability in a particular vehicle, I would be very interested (probably an impossible task).

I still believe that the West could have produced a Centurion class vehicle in 1944 in the form of a Jumbo Firefly. It would not have had the mobility of the British tank, but in everything else it would have been close, and perhaps better in range. The first firefly was even made using a M4A3 turret so that would not have been a problem.

Penultimately, if I appear to have suggested the poor soviet soldier was inferior in any way I apologise right now and forever. The basic soviet soldier was uneducated in the horrors of war, and often did not last their first battle. Depends if you were in a Shock or Guards army I suppose. I personally believe in nurture not nature for a decent culture. As a teen, I used to think of the soviet soldier as a stupid robot. Times change, and there is nothing like reading David E Glantz to change opinions even further. His book with House on The Battle of Kursk was fantastic. My opinion of the typical soviet soldier rose by an extraordinary level , as much as my opinion of the T34 dropped. As for over-hyped shiny Soviet Generals (the end justifies the means and all that crap), I'm surprised as many soviet soldiers survived as they did. I have no problem with anyone thinking that I consider almost all Soviet General murderous bar-stewards, but I do apologise if anyone thinks that the average soviet soldier was anything but human.

Finally, I have no problem in anyone dissecting, disolving, decimating or annihilating any opinion I have. I'd rather be humble and educated, than self-important and smug.
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  #48  
Old 19 Sep 08, 00:15
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FWIW, the Jumbo's gun shield was 7" thick (~17.8 cm) and the turret front, rear, and sides were 6" (15 cm). Its hull upper front was indeed 4" (10 cm) at 47 degrees from vertical, and the lower front was a bit thicker.
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  #49  
Old 19 Sep 08, 01:32
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I'm just curious as to the reasoning behind diesels being sent to the eastern front over gasoline and why gasoline would have been such a pain in the butt. The reason I ask is because gasoline has a much lower ignition point than diesel does and it makes sense that gasoline would have had less fuel freeze problems. Just curious, would really like to know. The only reasoning I know of as to diesels being made is because they didn't explode as quickly as gasoline.
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  #50  
Old 19 Sep 08, 05:21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
FWIW, the Jumbo's gun shield was 7" thick (~17.8 cm) and the turret front, rear, and sides were 6" (15 cm). Its hull upper front was indeed 4" (10 cm) at 47 degrees from vertical, and the lower front was a bit thicker.
Appreciating that you have the Hunnicutt book, I have the following info in my 'lesser' reference, 'Sherman in action', Bruce Culver & Don Greer, Squadron/Signal:

The turret was a massive casting. The portion of turret front immediately behind the mantlet was 3" thick, further protected by the 7" mantlet which shielded it. The front portions ('cheeks' if you like) not covered by the mantlet, together with the sides of the turret were a constant 6" thick but the rear was 2-1/2" thick. The 1" thick roof plate was welded in, leaving a conspicuous seam. The above source agrees with the glacis at 4", this being by dint of an extra 1-1/2" 'applique' plate being welded over the top. The superstructure sides were treated in the same way, giving 3" of protection. The 'lower' hull front (transmission housing) was another casting with a thickness of 5-1/2".
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  #51  
Old 19 Sep 08, 05:29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6thInf grandson View Post
I'm just curious as to the reasoning behind diesels being sent to the eastern front over gasoline and why gasoline would have been such a pain in the butt. The reason I ask is because gasoline has a much lower ignition point than diesel does and it makes sense that gasoline would have had less fuel freeze problems. Just curious, would really like to know. The only reasoning I know of as to diesels being made is because they didn't explode as quickly as gasoline.
I think you'll find one reason the diesel M4s were given to the Soviets was because their primary (medium and heavy) tank fleet was also pretty near entirely diesel, so it fitted well logistically.
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  #52  
Old 19 Sep 08, 05:52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Markuss View Post
"In gun power there was little difference between the US 76mm and Soviet 85mm except at extreme range, where the US gun was about 12mm better at penetration. I have discounted APCR as this was extremely rare - more so in the US army than the Soviet by all accounts."
The accounts gel with my info on this.

IIRC, for the last year of the war Soviet tankers had very modest but usually steady supplies of special ammo (perhaps generally a bit better off in this regard than US tankers seem to have been) which crews reserved for the heaviest German tanks.

It was using such ammo (BR-365P) that on 12 August 1944, Lt. Aleksandr P. Oskin and his crew reported KO of three Tiger IIs in rapid succession. However, the irony here is that these being mostly side and rear shots at close range, his standard AP shot may well have sufficed.

As regards gun power, it is true that the anti-armour performance of the US 76mm and Soviet 85mm was very close. However, if memory serves, the latter had a much more useful HE round; indeed, even the US 75mm M3 had a significantly better HE round than the 76mm. Generally speaking, HE was used considerably more than AP in combat so if gunpower includes HE performance (as it arguably should), then this gives the Soviet 85mm weapon a clear and decisive edge.
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  #53  
Old 19 Sep 08, 08:10
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Does anyone have a source I can check for the Jumbo's armour and weight. I having a problem getting my brain around an incredibly protected vehicle weighing only 40 tons.
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Old 19 Sep 08, 09:20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Does anyone have a source I can check for the Jumbo's armour and weight. I having a problem getting my brain around an incredibly protected vehicle weighing only 40 tons.
The source I quoted above gives the Jumbo's weight as 42 tons, which is IIRC about ten or so tons more than the standard vehicle. These are US tons, which equates to somewhere around 38,000 Kg (38 metric tons) for the Jumbo. I did a quick search and found this which, contrary to the book source I quoted seems to confirm DogDodgers figure of 6" for the turret rear also (not that this one relatively small area would make much difference to the overall weight, given the other areas and thicknesses):

http://www.onwar.com/tanks/usa/data/m4a3e2.htm

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Last edited by panther3485; 19 Sep 08 at 09:34..
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  #55  
Old 19 Sep 08, 09:49
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Hunnicutt agrees with 84,000 pounds when fitted with T48 tracks and duckbill end connectors. The Onwar.com site lists Hunnicutt as a reference (along with the Sherman in Action book), FWIW. Another site with some Jumbo info is http://afvdb.50megs.com/usa/m4sherman.html#JUMBO.
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  #56  
Old 19 Sep 08, 12:29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panther3485 View Post
The accounts gel with my info on this.

IIRC, for the last year of the war Soviet tankers had very modest but usually steady supplies of special ammo (perhaps generally a bit better off in this regard than US tankers seem to have been) which crews reserved for the heaviest German tanks.

It was using such ammo (BR-365P) that on 12 August 1944, Lt. Aleksandr P. Oskin and his crew reported KO of three Tiger IIs in rapid succession. However, the irony here is that these being mostly side and rear shots at close range, his standard AP shot may well have sufficed.

As regards gun power, it is true that the anti-armour performance of the US 76mm and Soviet 85mm was very close. However, if memory serves, the latter had a much more useful HE round; indeed, even the US 75mm M3 had a significantly better HE round than the 76mm. Generally speaking, HE was used considerably more than AP in combat so if gunpower includes HE performance (as it arguably should), then this gives the Soviet 85mm weapon a clear and decisive edge.
Agreed on HE rounds. The US 75 mm was a particularly good round, esoecially for fragmentation, probably because the shell walls could be thinner than on the higher MV 76 mm and so more explosive could be used. The 17-pdr round wasn't thast good either, though a 'high capacity' round was introduced later in 1944 (but often led to recoil failure, perhaps due to the lower amount of propellant. The 77mm had a lower MV than the 17-pdr and had an excellent HE round both in terms of bang and accuracy, but this vehicle came too late.

As you say, Oskin could have used normal APBC but knowing little about the new Königstiger's armour thicknesses he not unnaturally played safe. One of my gripes in ASL is that US APCR is far too plentiful; not so much for the 76mm 'cos some extra rounds were probably bartered or scrounged from TD units, but US documents I have state that 90 mm APCR only arrived in March 1945; in the game the date is January 1944. According to veteran's letters )to be treated with caution) Fireflies had 5-10 APDS rounds each and were always urged not to 'waste' it by doing an Oskin. I doubt whether much heed was taken of this though.
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Old 19 Sep 08, 12:31
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Diesel rules

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Originally Posted by panther3485 View Post
I think you'll find one reason the diesel M4s were given to the Soviets was because their primary (medium and heavy) tank fleet was also pretty near entirely diesel, so it fitted well logistically.
Yep. This also also why the USMC used them - a common enough fuel in the navy compared to gasoline, safer to store, less evaporation loss and more fuel economy compared to gasoline. Add to that the fact that the M4A2 was the fastest of all Shermans and had much more torque at low speeds than the gasoline types, and you have a winner.

Too much can be made of exploding gasoline tanks - it did happen, but the main accelerant for fires was ammunition. Anyone seeing German footage of a KV 1 'road block' brewing up early in Barbarossa will know what I mean.
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Old 19 Sep 08, 12:42
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However, the Easy 8 with all the bells and whistles is still the best Medium IMHO, until the Comet, a fantastic piece of kit, available September 1944 and not really used until too late (why?).

To Charles - you are quite right of course, which is why you are a Sergeant Major and I'm a private - bottom class. Glad you have discounted specialist ammo as this only appears to be found in numbers on the wargames table, and not real life. Diesel M4's would work better in Russian winters, and the 17pdr is a much better armour penetrator. However, the Easy 8 with all the bells and whistles is still the best Medium IMHO, until the Comet, a fantastic piece of kit, available September 1944 and not really used until too late (why?).

From my ASL article on the British army:

"The introduction of the Comet was also delayed because the Challenger was given priority over it and because of prolonged arguments over the choice of main armament (contenders included the US 75mm (!), US 76mm, 17-pdr and, eventually, its 77mm variant), over whether the hull should be welded or not and about other “irritating changes to the specifications”. A similar fate befell the Centurion; the need for such a tank was acknowledged in the summer of 1942ii but thanks to a government ban on any new projects that would not be ready to enter service before 1944 no authority to proceed was given until July 1943, and the tank that could have been in service two years earlier finally appeared just after the war in Europe ended, delayed again over disputes concerning the main and secondary armament".
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Old 19 Sep 08, 13:28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Markuss View Post
"Too much can be made of exploding gasoline tanks - it did happen, but the main accelerant for fires was ammunition. Anyone seeing German footage of a KV 1 'road block' brewing up early in Barbarossa will know what I mean."
Agreed completely. Ammo fires were by far the greatest hazard. Whether the engine was diesel or petrol made relatively little difference in the great majority of situations.
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Old 20 Sep 08, 15:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panther3485 View Post
Agreed completely. Ammo fires were by far the greatest hazard. Whether the engine was diesel or petrol made relatively little difference in the great majority of situations.
Also agree completely - don't know where the petrol engine belief originated. I'm sure that even during WW2 itself trials were conducted on damaged tanks (42/43?) in the desert on abandoned AFV's and secure ammo stowage was found to be the key.
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