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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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  #196  
Old 20 Mar 12, 11:11
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Originally Posted by The Purist View Post
The T-34 could do everything the T-50 could and it could do it better so it is little wonder the project was cancelled. It would have been dropped in any case as light tanks fell from use in tank/mech corps in 1943. Being overly complex it was a case of wartime necessity and a pragmatic approach to unit structure (IMO)
The T-50 was still a pretty cool little tank. There is lots known about the vehicle, but very little of their use in combat. They were swallowed up in the maelstrom, largely forgotten now. Despite that, it was a rather sophisticated design for the time, very much a next-generation tank. As it turned out, they were too expensive and by the time they figured out where to put the factory, GAZ was already building the T-60.

All things considered, the T-34 was the right tank at the right time. Whew!

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  #197  
Old 20 Mar 12, 11:33
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All things considered, the T-34 was the right tank at the right time. Whew
As someone who does know a huge amount about armour, were not light tanks (in some respects the IFVs of their day) increasingly seen as offering a poor opportunity cost against the manufacture of a standard medium tank? The former could not do much more but offered considerably less for a marginal difference in resources.
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  #198  
Old 20 Mar 12, 12:10
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Originally Posted by Bluenose View Post
As someone who does know a huge amount about armour, were not light tanks (in some respects the IFVs of their day) increasingly seen as offering a poor opportunity cost against the manufacture of a standard medium tank? The former could not do much more but offered considerably less for a marginal difference in resources.
That's an economic argument that did affect the fate of the T-50, but only because the Germans interrupted the timetable. The T-50 was still very expensive because it was very new and had not been built in sufficient numbers for economies of scale. The first T-34s were also very expensive, but by 1943, through expansion and simplification of production, the cost had dropped by 75% or more. Likewise, the cost of the T-50 would also have dropped if it had continued and been built in large numbers.

On the other hand, there was no opportunity cost in building the T-60 because they didn't require the large foundries and overscale machinery of a tank factory. It was the T-80 that became obsolete. After being evacuated from Leningrad, Zavod No.174 was sent on a long trek with several stops before finally settling in Omsk. By then the T-60 was in service and the need was for T-34s, so the T-50 was scrapped and the factory was ordered to build the larger tank. They went on to become one of the most prodigious T-34 factories, one of three to build the T-34-85.

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  #199  
Old 20 Mar 12, 12:32
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On the other hand, there was no opportunity cost in building the T-60 because they didn't require the large foundries and overscale machinery of a tank factory.
I appreciate that the same line may not have offered an either-or decision, but it is still energy, manpower and raw materials. Did a T-50 offer much that a T-34 (increasingly a standard item) did not?
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  #200  
Old 20 Mar 12, 16:31
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Originally Posted by Bluenose View Post
I appreciate that the same line may not have offered an either-or decision, but it is still energy, manpower and raw materials. Did a T-50 offer much that a T-34 (increasingly a standard item) did not?
No, except that it was a light tank and prevailing Soviet doctrine called for a light tank. The same need was felt in other nations. The war demonstrated that light tanks were of limited utility, so they were generally phased out, replaced by medium/main battle tanks like the T-34 and Sherman. The T-60 and other "suicide tanks" were a response to urgency more than anything else. It came at the height of the battle of Moscow, when Soviet tank production was on its heels and a nasty little tank that could be built quickly in a truck factory was a boon, despite its faults.

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  #201  
Old 20 Mar 12, 17:16
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Originally Posted by Scott Fraser View Post
No, except that it was a light tank and prevailing Soviet doctrine called for a light tank. The same need was felt in other nations. The war demonstrated that light tanks were of limited utility, so they were generally phased out, replaced by medium/main battle tanks like the T-34 and Sherman.
Except the M24 Chaffee was an exception to that. It was, imnsho, the best light tank ever. I know it gets bad rep from not being able to knock out T-34s in Korea, but really, a light recon tank was never meant to go toe to toe with medium or heavy tanks.
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  #202  
Old 20 Mar 12, 17:49
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Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
Except the M24 Chaffee was an exception to that. It was, imnsho, the best light tank ever. I know it gets bad rep from not being able to knock out T-34s in Korea, but really, a light recon tank was never meant to go toe to toe with medium or heavy tanks.
The Chaffee is a bit of an anachronism, IMHO. In 1945, the only role that remained for a light tank was reconnaissance, and in that capacity the Chaffee performed as well as expected (high expectations). Postwar, it was eminently suitable for small wars where the enemy had no anti-tank capability. Nose-to-nose, it was dead meat against pretty much any tank even in 1943, but that's not what it was designed for.

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  #203  
Old 20 Mar 12, 22:38
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What would the practical rate of fire be for the M4s, T-34/76s and T-34/85s be?

I heard that the T-34/76 after it uses it's ready rack (of 3 rounds IIRC) would be quite slow as the ammo is right under the loader and commanders feet, with no basket.
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  #204  
Old 20 Mar 12, 22:46
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The first thing the Israelis had to do with captured Soviet tanks was install a basket. If you crank the turret of a T-34 around you have to walk around with it, sometimes on expended cases, and avoid the seats that were welded to the hull of the tank! That might explain a little why some T-34's preferred to turn the whole tank to a target!

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  #205  
Old 20 Mar 12, 23:03
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nebfer View Post
What would the practical rate of fire be for the M4s, T-34/76s and T-34/85s be?

I heard that the T-34/76 after it uses it's ready rack (of 3 rounds IIRC) would be quite slow as the ammo is right under the loader and commanders feet, with no basket.
For a Sherman with a decent crew the drill was for the hull gunner to turn around and pull rounds from the nearby racks to hand to the loader. The loader has access to several dozen rounds with about a dozen on the basket itself (varies with model some). Firing as fast as possible it should be able for such a crew to get as many as a dozen rounds off in a minute. That's not switching targets or sustainable. Sustained say four to six rounds a minute.

For a T34/76 the gunner and loader can get three rounds off in about say 20 seconds. After that, the rof falls dramatically. The loader has to kneel down, remove rubber matting from the floor of the vehicle then pull a "suitcase" with three rounds up from the floor storage. He has to open the suitcase and then retrieve and load a round. As the floor becomes torn up and littered with shell casings (there is no ejection port like on a Sherman), rubber mats, and suitcases the footing becomes trecherous. I'd wager in those conditions one or two rounds a minute would be all you could manage assuming the tank wasn't moving much.

The T34/85 is a bit better. I'd say it could manage about the same as the 76 after the first 9 ready rounds. Those first nine could be gotten off by a good crew about as fast as a Sherman could manage.
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  #206  
Old 20 Mar 12, 23:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
The first thing the Israelis had to do with captured Soviet tanks was install a basket. If you crank the turret of a T-34 around you have to walk around with it, sometimes on expended cases, and avoid the seats that were welded to the hull of the tank! That might explain a little why some T-34's preferred to turn the whole tank to a target!

Pruitt
On wet stowage Shermans, the full turret basket was necessarily eliminated in favor of a partial floor. When rotating the turret, crews found that this floor could sometimes jam on expended shell casings or catch an unwary loader's foot.
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  #207  
Old 20 Mar 12, 23:37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
For a T34/76 the gunner and loader can get three rounds off in about say 20 seconds. After that, the rof falls dramatically. The loader has to kneel down, remove rubber matting from the floor of the vehicle then pull a "suitcase" with three rounds up from the floor storage. He has to open the suitcase and then retrieve and load a round. As the floor becomes torn up and littered with shell casings (there is no ejection port like on a Sherman), rubber mats, and suitcases the footing becomes trecherous. I'd wager in those conditions one or two rounds a minute would be all you could manage assuming the tank wasn't moving much.

The T34/85 is a bit better. I'd say it could manage about the same as the 76 after the first 9 ready rounds. Those first nine could be gotten off by a good crew about as fast as a Sherman could manage.
It was not quite that bad. There were nine ready rounds in the early T-34-76, plus the one in the breech.





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  #208  
Old 21 Mar 12, 00:07
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It was not quite that bad. There were nine ready rounds in the early T-34-76, plus the one in the breech.





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Too bad 6 of those are on the side by the gunner / commander.....
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  #209  
Old 21 Mar 12, 00:50
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Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
The first thing the Israelis had to do with captured Soviet tanks was install a basket. If you crank the turret of a T-34 around you have to walk around with it, sometimes on expended cases, and avoid the seats that were welded to the hull of the tank! That might explain a little why some T-34's preferred to turn the whole tank to a target!

Pruitt
I think the turret crew would be sitting though the eventual need to go to ammo bins on the floor would mean standing on expended cases, open boxes, empty vodka bottles, etc. Awkward.
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Old 21 Mar 12, 01:04
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Originally Posted by Nebfer View Post
What would the practical rate of fire be for the M4s, T-34/76s and T-34/85s be?

I heard that the T-34/76 after it uses it's ready rack (of 3 rounds IIRC) would be quite slow as the ammo is right under the loader and commanders feet, with no basket.
Another aspect to consider is speed of target acquisition by the gunner and how quickly he can bring the gun around and fire. How easily they can use sights/periscopes, how comfortable and clear they are plus how fast the turret rotates are all very important. In the ETO studies revealed the importance of first shot in tank v tank battles,one indication of the need for the best in visibility, ergonomics and teamwork.
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