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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 greatest 'edge' factor in its time?
Matilda II 1 2.38%
Crusader 0 0%
Churchill 0 0%
Valentine 0 0%
Cromwell 0 0%
Somua S-35 0 0%
Char B-1 bis 0 0%
PzKpfw 38(t) 0 0%
PzKpfw III 0 0%
PzKpfw IV (short & long guns combined) 0 0%
Tiger I 33 78.57%
Panther 0 0%
Tiger II 0 0%
M 13-40/14-41/15-42 1 2.38%
Type 97 Chi-Ha 0 0%
BT-5/7 0 0%
T-34 (76 and 85 combined) 5 11.90%
KV-1 1 2.38%
IS-2 0 0%
M3 Medium 0 0%
M4 Medium (all versions combined) 1 2.38%
Voters: 42. You may not vote on this poll

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  #16  
Old 07 May 12, 09:00
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Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
I think this category is the easiest to decide an overall winner. Allied troops were frequently claiming to be engaged by Tigers when none were near, and even at the end of the war it would be a fearsome opponent to any enemy vehicle in tank-versus-tank combat. Tiger I would be the winner in my case.

Very high: Tiger II, T-34, Panther, Char B1 bis, KV-1, Matilda II
High: S-35, IS-2
Moderate: Pz.Kpfw.III, Pz.Kpfw.IV, M3, M4, Churchill, Pz.Kpfw.38(t), Valentine, BT
Low: Chi-Ha, Cromwell, Crusader, M13/40
I basically concur.

However, I would also consider the tank crews opinion on their own machines as well. In 44/5 British Sabre crews in the 7th were pleased to retain their Cromwells rather than upgrade to the M4. The Guards 6th Tank Brigade used their influence with Winston himself to keep their Churchills, while other tank brigade units were being converted to armoured cars. The 8th RTR in Italy 45 were pleased to exchange their Shermans for Churchills as their life expectancy would increase. In the W desert 42, British cruiser crews were delighted to be given M4's.
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  #17  
Old 07 May 12, 21:18
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Good insight. When combining the effect on friendly/enemy morale with actual tank-versus-tank performance throughout the vehicles' careers, I didn't think I could promote Sherman or Churchill above moderate. Cromwell's AT performance wouldn't match even those two tanks, and it was relatively late to the game (especially with the OQF 75 mm). Have I understood the category correctly, you think? Thanks.
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  #18  
Old 08 May 12, 09:06
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
Good insight. When combining the effect on friendly/enemy morale with actual tank-versus-tank performance throughout the vehicles' careers, I didn't think I could promote Sherman or Churchill above moderate. Cromwell's AT performance wouldn't match even those two tanks, and it was relatively late to the game (especially with the OQF 75 mm). Have I understood the category correctly, you think? Thanks.
Thanks .

As far as tanks are concerned I believe most W Allied tankers believed the Cats were better than their own tanks, at least in tank on tank engagements most of the time. That is not necessarily to state that the German tanks were better overall, but most tankers only saw the more powerful guns and thicker armour, plus German optics were considered superior from binoculars upwards. This was considered inexcusable by most tankers, given their countries industrial might.

As far as their own vehicles were concerned, the Cromwell and Churchill were prefered to the M4 later in the war by the British. The Cromwell was just a more agile and faster design, while the Churchill crews suffered remarkably low casualties especially given their role, enhancing their morale. However, the M4 was certainly appreciated by the British in 42 when it first arrived. It had reliability, mobility and firepower in one tank for the first time. No British tank could compete in 42 as an overall package. That is why I personally raised the edge factor for the M4 above adequate.

Likewise, other tanks can be difficult to judge. For example, the Valentine was (barely) adequate in British use, with fundamental flaws in every model, although it had great reliability, maintainability and toughness. However, the Soviets thought it great, and proved highly useful as a light tank especially with its 6pdr. In this guise it had gun and armour parity with the medium PzIII, something the other Soviet light tanks did not.

Many of these results will be judgement calls, based on what the poster has read. I do believe the M4 is doing too well here, and put the fact that US armour did as well as it did down to the superiority of US tankmen over their German counterparts. I base this on the theory that US tankers would have had better training, ie not limited by fuel or rounds when practising. I back this up with the fact that US tankers appear to be getting shots off first and hitting the target despite inferior optics.

Given than in tank on tank, US and German tankers came out even in the same situations, if US tankers were better than their opponents then their kit must have been inferior in this task. As far as the other (more numerous) tasks were concerned, most M4's armour protection, most of the time, could not stand up to the most commonly encountered AT weapons, ie PaK40 and its mounted derivative in SP Guns. The M4 probably had a significant edge factor in 42/3, which does not tend to be recognized. By D-Day, the almost 2 years since its first introduction, its overall combat advantage it may have had has disappeared.

When concerning Tigers, the phobia that may have effected some tankers before D-Day appears to have evaporated very quickly. The Tigers certainly had an 'edge' at Kursk, and probably in Normandy where most W Ally tanks had the 75mm. Thereafter, later HV designs appear to have put paid to the Tiger 1's invincibility. This is mirrored by the fact Tiger crews are being told not to put their machines in harms way, as they were not invincible.

The Tiger 1 probably has the greatest 'edge' factor given the options, but it's not as clear cut as many might think.
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  #19  
Old 09 May 12, 13:27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
As far as tanks are concerned I believe most W Allied tankers believed the Cats were better than their own tanks, at least in tank on tank engagements most of the time. That is not necessarily to state that the German tanks were better overall, but most tankers only saw the more powerful guns and thicker armour, plus German optics were considered superior from binoculars upwards. This was considered inexcusable by most tankers, given their countries industrial might.
Agreed, and since this is specifically about tank-versus-tank combat and psychological factors, I tried to be biased towards those areas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
As far as their own vehicles were concerned, the Cromwell and Churchill were prefered to the M4 later in the war by the British. The Cromwell was just a more agile and faster design, while the Churchill crews suffered remarkably low casualties especially given their role, enhancing their morale. However, the M4 was certainly appreciated by the British in 42 when it first arrived. It had reliability, mobility and firepower in one tank for the first time. No British tank could compete in 42 as an overall package. That is why I personally raised the edge factor for the M4 above adequate.
Not much to argue with there. Cromwell didn't see action until Normandy, though, and its 75 mm gun wouldn't unduly strike fear into many German tankers at that point. Likewise, by the time Sherman entered the fray in the desert, the long-barreled Pz.Kpfw.IV had been around for some time. In fact, the M3 might be considered to have a larger effect on tank-versus-tank actions, since it was available just barely before the Pz.Kpfw.IV Spezial. Tests by Panzer-Regiment 8 in June 1942 determined that the M3 could be frontally penetrated by the 5 cm L/60 at 200-300 m, while "not a single penetration...was achieved at a range of 700 meters by any kind of 5 cm round." On the other hand, they found that with the M3's 75 mm gun, "[e]ven when striking at sharp angles, penetrations were achieved on the front of the Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV at ranges from 1200 to 1400 meters...It cleanly penetrated the front of the Pz.Kpfw.III with additional armor (20 mm spaced armor in front of the 50 mm base plate) at a range of 500 to 600 meters."
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  #20  
Old 09 May 12, 21:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
Agreed, and since this is specifically about tank-versus-tank combat and psychological factors, I tried to be biased towards those areas.

Not much to argue with there. Cromwell didn't see action until Normandy, though, and its 75 mm gun wouldn't unduly strike fear into many German tankers at that point. Likewise, by the time Sherman entered the fray in the desert, the long-barreled Pz.Kpfw.IV had been around for some time. In fact, the M3 might be considered to have a larger effect on tank-versus-tank actions, since it was available just barely before the Pz.Kpfw.IV Spezial. Tests by Panzer-Regiment 8 in June 1942 determined that the M3 could be frontally penetrated by the 5 cm L/60 at 200-300 m, while "not a single penetration...was achieved at a range of 700 meters by any kind of 5 cm round." On the other hand, they found that with the M3's 75 mm gun, "[e]ven when striking at sharp angles, penetrations were achieved on the front of the Pz.Kpfw.III and Pz.Kpfw.IV at ranges from 1200 to 1400 meters...It cleanly penetrated the front of the Pz.Kpfw.III with additional armor (20 mm spaced armor in front of the 50 mm base plate) at a range of 500 to 600 meters."
All good points, but it might be worth adding that the Panzer 4 Special was still a rare beast in the Axis armoured forces in North Africa, even by late 1942 when the M4 was coming into the field in relatively generous numbers. Having said this, the 'Pilot' (as the Germans called the M3 Medium) arguably would have had more of an impact in that sense when first encountered.
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Old 09 May 12, 23:00
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Given than in tank on tank, US and German tankers came out even in the same situations, if US tankers were better than their opponents then their kit must have been inferior in this task.
I'd like to offer that this "equation" is no representation of the multiple factors which would be found in a tank v. tank battle.
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  #22  
Old 10 May 12, 06:45
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
I'd like to offer that this "equation" is no representation of the multiple factors which would be found in a tank v. tank battle.
It is a good indicator. In the same tactical circumstances equal numbers of Shermans and German tanks appear to do equally well/bad. If you are saying that the Sherman is better in tank combat than their opponents, it does not leave many other factors to pull down the capability of the Shermans to be merely equal to the Cats rather than better.

For a whole variety of reasons, I generally believe US tankers were generally more capable than their counterparts in the ETO after Normandy. To put it another way, if US tankers are better than their opponents, why is their performance only equal to that of the Germans in the same situations?
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  #23  
Old 10 May 12, 18:07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
It is a good indicator.
I completely disagree. Considering the breadth of your knowledge I find it hard to believe you truly believe this. As a matter of fact I don't think you truly believe this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
In the same tactical circumstances equal numbers of Shermans and German tanks appear to do equally well/bad. If you are saying that the Sherman is better in tank combat than their opponents, it does not leave many other factors to pull down the capability of the Shermans to be merely equal to the Cats rather than better.
I think there are numerous other factors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
For a whole variety of reasons, I generally believe US tankers were generally more capable than their counterparts in the ETO after Normandy.
I agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
To put it another way, if US tankers are better than their opponents, why is their performance only equal to that of the Germans in the same situations?
The numerous other factors.
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  #24  
Old 10 May 12, 18:37
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
" ... The numerous other factors."
Among these, might you be thinking of which side was more consistently attacking; and which side defending, most of the time?
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  #25  
Old 10 May 12, 19:05
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
I completely disagree. Considering the breadth of your knowledge I find it hard to believe you truly believe this. As a matter of fact I don't think you truly believe this.
.
I always post something I believe in. I also immediately admit when I'm wrong. The reason for the latter is as follows. One, its pointless to fight an indefensible position, and better to learn from your mistakes and move on. Learnt that from TTTSNBN. Second, if I do stand by my position, people realize that I have read enough to back up my statements. Like now .

Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
I think there are numerous other factors.
Such as ?
You've got the reports from the awesome Mirriam Press, like this, this and this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
I agree.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
The numerous other factors.
Again ?

I would not dismiss Isaac White's report myself. While fairly damning about the Sherman, Stuart, Bazooka and M1 Carbine, the troops praise the .5" cal Browning, the Garrand, the half-trucks, the Chaffee, radios, most clothing, all wheeled transport etc etc. The kit they praise all appear to be excellent items imo, and if the troops are correct with those, why would they not be correct with the stuff they damn? The Stuart they fail for its next to useless 37mm, the Bazooka does not compare to the Panzerschreck in hitting power, and the M1 carbine lacks stopping power. The reports on these three items appear reasonable. Why is the fourth item they disparage, the Sherman, the only item they get wrong in your opinion?

The troops state why the Shermans succeeded against the Germans. First there were more tanks. Second the troops were brave enough to risk their lives to get a killing side shot in.

It is the first point that is the true strength of the M4. Production and transport was easy. Maintenance and reliability were its hallmarks. Zaloga points out here (a great primer) that while a third of German tanks to be out of action due to repairs was normal, 10% or more of Shermans of a unit to be out of action (due to maintenance) would be almost abnormal. With the same outlay, the US would still be able to supply its army with a greater number of tanks from 000's of miles away, than the Germans could from a few hundred. Further, Patton pointed out that if he had the Cats, he would never have achieved so much during Cobra and the race to the Seine.

So let's take the Sherman for what it was. It had great operational mobility, and useful weapon options. It was also far superior to anything the Japanese fielded at any time in WW2, another reason I raised my scoring of this tank. However, it was deficient in protection, and lacked tactical mobility when conditions became harsh. The ETO was simply not the place where the tank was designed to fight.
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Old 10 May 12, 19:34
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Originally Posted by panther3485 View Post
Among these, might you be thinking of which side was more consistently attacking; and which side defending, most of the time?
That is covered by this and this and to some extent this. Information of each side when attacking and defending was collated. Oddly enough, the side with the most stuff tended to win .

Although I sound like a broken record at times concerning armour protection, when you are attacking you will get shot at first. Against the Germans that means PaK/StuK/KwK40's most of the time. The Sherman does not have the armour to resist said shots, being designed to resist 37mm rounds, not 75mm.

The US nearly always had numbers on their side, the Sherman design facilitating that fact. It was the sheer guts of the US tankers (who did not have Firefly's) that made them close on the enemy and take on the enemy.

Ants vs a Scorpion would be my analogy, although fewer M4's would be needed ..
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  #27  
Old 11 May 12, 05:45
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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
" ... when you are attacking you will get shot at first."
My point exactly.
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  #28  
Old 11 May 12, 06:07
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Unhappy What do I know - less than I would like.

Just picked up T-34 by Mikhail Baryatinskiy. Just flicked through it, as reading other stuff at present, but came across the following passage concerning the PzIII, just before Barbarossa.
Quote:
The T-34 was superior to its rival in armour and armament, but very much inferior in other ways. The PzIII had a 3 man turret, quite comfortable for its crewmembers. The commanders cupola was convenient and ensured superb vision, and all crewmen had interphone arrangements. Unlike that, a T-34 turret could hardly accomodate two crewmen, one of them dual tasked as both gunner and tank commander, and in some cases even as commander of a larger formation. Interphone communications were only available for the commander and driver.

The German tank was smoother on the move, and turned out less noise than the Russian counterpart - travelling at full speed the PzIII was heard from 150-200 metres, while the noise of the T-34 was clearly detectable at 450m. The German tanks speed superiority was also a severe blow to the Soviet military, during the trials on the unpaved road from Kubinka to Repische, the PzIII attained a speed of 69.7km/h, while the T-34's best wasonly 48.2km/h. The BT-7, said to be the fastest and therefore chosen for comparrison, could accelerate only to 68.1km/h.

The Comparative test report praised the better suspension of the German tank, better quality of its optics, more convenient stowing arrangements and the location of its radio, as well as a more reliable engine and transmission
The PzIII faster than the T-34 and BT-7 on unpaved roads. News to me, but the source is credible.
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  #29  
Old 11 May 12, 06:11
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Faster than the BT-7 too?
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Old 11 May 12, 06:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smallvillekalel View Post
Faster than the BT-7 too?
69.7 km/h vs 68.1 km/h, so yes, the PzIII was faster than the BT-7. I found that an eye opener myself. Given that it was a Soviet test, the findings seem genuine.
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