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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Forum Resources > Armchair Attacks! > Greatest/Best Tank of WW2

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Greatest/Best Tank of WW2 An archive of the WWII Forum's Greatest/Best Tank mini-contest.

View Poll Results: Which of these tanks had the best mobility?
Matilda II 0 0%
Crusader 0 0%
Churchill 8 18.60%
Valentine 2 4.65%
Cromwell 0 0%
Somua S-35 0 0%
Char B-1 bis 0 0%
PzKpfw 38(t) 0 0%
PzKpfw III 1 2.33%
PzKpfw IV (short & long guns combined) 0 0%
Tiger I 1 2.33%
Panther 1 2.33%
Tiger II 0 0%
M 13-40/14-41/15-42 0 0%
Type 97 Chi-Ha 0 0%
BT-5/7 5 11.63%
T-34 (76 and 85 combined) 19 44.19%
KV-1 0 0%
IS-2 0 0%
M3 Medium 0 0%
M4 Medium (all versions combined) 6 13.95%
Voters: 43. You may not vote on this poll

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  #61  
Old 14 Aug 12, 08:09
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I don't take any book at face value, some authors have agendas and some are plain incompetent But Cooper was there so his comments have to be considered.

Anyway, the Sherman was good when it was first introduced but it should have been upgraded, particularly with a gun that was effective against it's enemies or at the very least comparable to theirs. Which surely by any standard should have been an urgent priority.
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  #62  
Old 14 Aug 12, 10:29
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Originally Posted by richard g View Post
I don't take any book at face value, some authors have agendas and some are plain incompetent But Cooper was there so his comments have to be considered.
Cooper is an example of an author you shouldn't take at face value. Yes, he was there and he was trained to work on armor, particularly he worked on a lot of M4's. That being said remember his job was not using the tank in combat but to fix them up after combat. He saw the worst, he probably cleaned out the dead bodies or worked with the guys who did. This is an important distinction as he does not get to really know how the tank handles in combat and the majority of what he sees are the damaged tanks. A rather biased view.

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Originally Posted by richard g View Post
Anyway, the Sherman was good when it was first introduced but it should have been upgraded, particularly with a gun that was effective against it's enemies or at the very least comparable to theirs. Which surely by any standard should have been an urgent priority.
Interesting that in an earlier post you praise the Pz Mk IV but you seem to not think as highly of the M4. Most folks I know consider these tanks either equal or the M4 edging out the MkIV. If memory serves the MkIV with the long 75mm was at the top of what it could handle gun wise while the M4 was fielded with the 75mm, 76mm, 17 pdr. and 105mm howitzer. It could have been fielded with the same 90mm used by the M26 but this did not happen. If you look at post war uses of the M4 by the Israeli Army you will see it could handle other high velocity guns as well.

The upgrade was made urgent when the US saw that the Panther had become more widely used than was previously seen. In the MTO and intel from the USSR led us to believe that we would be facing the Panther in battalions like the Tiger rather than divisional strength like the MkIV. In Normandy we learned this was not the case and the 76mm was hurried along. It is important to remember that tank v tank fighting is the secondary role of tanks in WWII, i.e., not the primary function. Most tanks will be deployed carrying at least 50% HE if not much more.
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  #63  
Old 14 Aug 12, 22:46
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My main interest is North Africa '41 to '42. In 1942 the Germans fielded what was called the Mk IV Special which had the long 75mm gun. Fortunately they did not have many of them because it is no secret that that gun outperformed the American 75mm by a fair margin in the AT role. American observers at that time were common in NA if any more proof was needed of what the situation was then, in 1942.

Look, I don't get any fun out of criticising anyone's equipment but it seems clear to me that, given what the Germans had in 1942, a larger gun should have already been in the pipeline. Why wouldn't you want the best gun possible if only to reduce your and your allies casualties?

PS I have already said elsewhere that American trucks were great so I am not one of those sneaky anti Americans
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  #64  
Old 14 Aug 12, 23:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richard g View Post
My main interest is North Africa '41 to '42. In 1942 the Germans fielded what was called the Mk IV Special which had the long 75mm gun. Fortunately they did not have many of them because it is no secret that that gun outperformed the American 75mm by a fair margin in the AT role. American observers at that time were common in NA if any more proof was needed of what the situation was then, in 1942.
You could also point out the presence of the Tiger in NA, which had a much more powerful gun. I would also ask why they didn't make a difference in the fight? I will admit that I've done far too little reading about NA but I would encourage you not to focus on the gun so much. The best tank you can field is one that makes it to battle, contributes in the fight and lives to fight another day. Don't you think?

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Originally Posted by richard g View Post
Look, I don't get any fun out of criticising anyone's equipment but it seems clear to me that, given what the Germans had in 1942, a larger gun should have already been in the pipeline. Why wouldn't you want the best gun possible if only to reduce your and your allies casualties?
The gun was in the pipeline. I would say you just don't agree with the timing. Again, the HE performance of the gun in a tank is important. I believe it was in Armored Thunderbolt that Zaloga points out that tank v tank fighting represented the lesser of the fighting for armored forces. As for casualties I always wonder where the proof of our excessive casualties is. Caution: If you point to casualties in a battle you must prove they occurred because of our armor, not leadership.

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Originally Posted by richard g View Post
PS I have already said elsewhere that American trucks were great so I am not one of those sneaky anti Americans
Personally I look at the the tanks the Germans built after the start of the war as mistakes and obviously poor designs. Compare these vehicles with the vehicles that Germany made its biggest advances with and which the Allies won the war with. Does the Tiger, with its high fuel consumption and maintenance needs, fit in with the sprinting armored maneuvers of Guderian and Rommel in France of 1940? Was the Panther, with its mighty 75 and heavy frontal armor able to fend off the less powerful Allied tanks and win the field?

Don't forget that we did field tank destroyers which had more powerful guns earlier and high mobility. Harry Yiede wrote an excellent history of the tank destroyer force (Tank Killers) in which he offers that even after engaging the Tiger and Panther in Italy the TD men were confident in their abilities to handle them.
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  #65  
Old 15 Aug 12, 00:22
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
Was the Panther, with its mighty 75 and heavy frontal armor able to fend off the less powerful Allied tanks and win the field?

.
I would imagine that if you removed air-superiority from the equation the answer would be a resounding "yes". Not to take anything from our tankers skill and courage, nor from the M4's capability, but there's something to be said about the 800-1200 meter range difference.
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  #66  
Old 15 Aug 12, 05:47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richard g View Post
My main interest is North Africa '41 to '42. In 1942 the Germans fielded what was called the Mk IV Special which had the long 75mm gun. Fortunately they did not have many of them because it is no secret that that gun outperformed the American 75mm by a fair margin in the AT role. American observers at that time were common in NA if any more proof was needed of what the situation was then, in 1942.

Look, I don't get any fun out of criticising anyone's equipment but it seems clear to me that, given what the Germans had in 1942, a larger gun should have already been in the pipeline. Why wouldn't you want the best gun possible if only to reduce your and your allies casualties?

PS I have already said elsewhere that American trucks were great so I am not one of those sneaky anti Americans
The PzKpfw IV with KwK40 was, as you say, present only in small numbers in North Africa in 1942. Also, its gunpower superiority was in terms of anti-armour performance only and the 75mm M3 gun used by the Sherman had a much better HE round. It also had quite adequate anti-armour performance by 1942 standards, with the ability to readily KO all the medium German tanks at common combat ranges. The anti-armour advantage held by the 'Mk 4 Special' was really only offering a significant 'fighting edge' at longer ranges.

As for the idea that the Americans should have seen the need to up-gun the Sherman with greater urgency, there is more than one factor at play here and what might seem perfectly clear to us in hindsight, was not so clear to the US military at the time. For example, when Shermans with the 76mm gun first became available for use in the field by 1944, even at that late stage there was still a certain amount of inertia, sometimes even resistance, from some US Armour commanders who felt that the 75mm - with its superior HE capability - should be retained.
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  #67  
Old 15 Aug 12, 10:10
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Originally Posted by smallvillekalel View Post
I would imagine that if you removed air-superiority from the equation the answer would be a resounding "yes". Not to take anything from our tankers skill and courage, nor from the M4's capability, but there's something to be said about the 800-1200 meter range difference.
I'm not sure what you are saying here. Sorry. Are you suggesting that we killed Panthers from the air? Harassed them? Spotted them? Please help out.
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  #68  
Old 16 Aug 12, 22:59
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I'm not sure what you are saying here. Sorry. Are you suggesting that we killed Panthers from the air? Harassed them? Spotted them? Please help out.
All of the above. Put it in this perspective. If Matilda's, Char B's, and Somua's couldn't stop PzI's and PzII's in '40 without air recon and air artillery, then how on earth did we shut down the Tigers and Panthers?
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Old 16 Aug 12, 23:02
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The PzKpfw IV with KwK40 was, as you say, present only in small numbers in North Africa in 1942. Also, its gunpower superiority was in terms of anti-armour performance only and the 75mm M3 gun used by the Sherman had a much better HE round. It also had quite adequate anti-armour performance by 1942 standards, with the ability to readily KO all the medium German tanks at common combat ranges. The anti-armour advantage held by the 'Mk 4 Special' was really only offering a significant 'fighting edge' at longer ranges.

As for the idea that the Americans should have seen the need to up-gun the Sherman with greater urgency, there is more than one factor at play here and what might seem perfectly clear to us in hindsight, was not so clear to the US military at the time. For example, when Shermans with the 76mm gun first became available for use in the field by 1944, even at that late stage there was still a certain amount of inertia, sometimes even resistance, from some US Armour commanders who felt that the 75mm - with its superior HE capability - should be retained.
Thanks, that was a helpful read. It can be hard for someone from one country to put themselves in hindsight into the 'mind' of another country. Can involve a whole lot of differences that make legitimate sense to one but not the other.

My lot 'thought' quite differently, part of that would have been due to the casualty rate of WW1 and early experience against the Germans in NA. The 1942 armoured div which was in the process of being formed for action in NA was going to be equipped with a tank that would knock everything out, the tank in my avatar which was successfully tested with a 17pdr gun and prior to that with two 25pdrs.

The Japanese threat cancelled all that, unfortunately.
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Old 17 Aug 12, 03:55
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My lot 'thought' quite differently, part of that would have been due to the casualty rate of WW1 and early experience against the Germans in NA. The 1942 armoured div which was in the process of being formed for action in NA was going to be equipped with a tank that would knock everything out, the tank in my avatar which was successfully tested with a 17pdr gun and prior to that with two 25pdrs.

The Japanese threat cancelled all that, unfortunately.
I don't think it was just the Japanese threat. I believe it was also the fact that the available supplies of tanks from both the US and Britain combined, were sufficient to make Australian series production of its indigenous design less necessary than had previously been believed. Australian industrial resources were very limited and could be better spent on other things.

Btw, I had the opportunity to closely inspect, and climb all over, a Sentinel at Puckapunyal back in the 70's. A very interesting tank and it certainly had potential, no argument there.
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  #71  
Old 17 Aug 12, 05:05
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Must say that I am a fan of over whelming obliteration, in whatever form. Something adequate will just not do, you have to make the enemy realise if he he wants to fight you he runs the real risk of being wiped out.

Which is where a big mofo tank gun comes in, it can't be too big but it can be too small.
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Old 17 Aug 12, 05:18
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Must say that I am a fan of over whelming obliteration, in whatever form. Something adequate will just not do, you have to make the enemy realise if he he wants to fight you he runs the real risk of being wiped out.

Which is where a big mofo tank gun comes in, it can't be too big but it can be too small.
Nothing wrong with having a more powerful armament in your tanks. However, there is more than one way to skin a cat.
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Old 17 Aug 12, 10:38
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Originally Posted by smallvillekalel View Post
All of the above. Put it in this perspective. If Matilda's, Char B's, and Somua's couldn't stop PzI's and PzII's in '40 without air recon and air artillery, then how on earth did we shut down the Tigers and Panthers?
Well from what I have read our air did its job in taking out supply and support vehicles, and of course did its job in recon/observ but they weren't killing many tanks. My understanding was that the French and British tanks, for the most part, never got the chance to show their abilities in armor v armor fighting. Tactical shortcomings. We killed the Tiger/Panther by not making the same mistakes while employing sound combined arms attack...but we killed them in just armor v armor fighting too. We didn't kill them from the air.
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Old 17 Aug 12, 10:43
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Originally Posted by richard g View Post
Must say that I am a fan of over whelming obliteration, in whatever form. Something adequate will just not do, you have to make the enemy realise if he he wants to fight you he runs the real risk of being wiped out.
I wonder what the Germans realized as they were getting their butts kicked out of France.
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