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Armor in World War II Discuss all aspects & disciplines of World War II Armor here.

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  #166  
Old 19 Mar 12, 11:10
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Guys, I would point out one major consideration when dealing with the US tanks. Until AFTER the Fall of France the United States DID NOT HAVE AN ARMOURED FORCE. Tanks belonged to the Infantry and Combat Cars (also tanks but called Combat Cars for political reasons) by the cavalry. So you had the infantry board deciding what there tank should be: lots of machine guns and a light anti-tank gun (just in case). Or Cavalry board going: light tank with lots of machine guns and a light cannon, maybe, to run around and scout in.

So while the US armoured force was late to the game; I think they did quite well. Let's look: M2 (1939)--M3 (1940)--M4 (1941)--M26 (1945) and for light tanks: M2 (1935)--M3/M5(1941)--M24(1944). Not to shabby for a johnny come lately to the tank party. So I think that basically starting from zero the US tank production was very good. I now return you to your previous discussion.
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  #167  
Old 19 Mar 12, 11:25
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Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
Guys, I would point out one major consideration when dealing with the US tanks. Until AFTER the Fall of France the United States DID NOT HAVE AN ARMOURED FORCE. Tanks belonged to the Infantry and Combat Cars (also tanks but called Combat Cars for political reasons) by the cavalry. So you had the infantry board deciding what there tank should be: lots of machine guns and a light anti-tank gun (just in case). Or Cavalry board going: light tank with lots of machine guns and a light cannon, maybe, to run around and scout in.

So while the US armoured force was late to the game; I think they did quite well. Let's look: M2 (1939)--M3 (1940)--M4 (1941)--M26 (1945) and for light tanks: M2 (1935)--M3/M5(1941)--M24(1944). Not to shabby for a johnny come lately to the tank party. So I think that basically starting from zero the US tank production was very good. I now return you to your previous discussion.
Indeed. The US came from behind but caught up very quickly. Quite an achievement in its own right, in addition to becoming "the arsenal of democracy".
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  #168  
Old 19 Mar 12, 11:47
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
This is not what I would call comparable.
They were training for combat in their new tanks in March 1945. The tank itself was deployed in service with combat units by August 1945. How many hairs do you want to split?

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I was suggesting that not all T-34/85's had five man crews. I was leafing through one of the books I have on anything Soviet armor, perhaps T-34 In Action, and came across this. I'll be lazy and not do the digging now.
Consider digging in another book. Steve Zaloga was writing thirty years ago when there was almost nothing for information. It was praised at the time, but nowadays it is a book for antiquarians, not historians. In saying that, I'm not criticizing the author at all --- that was the state of the information in 1980. The same comment can be made for most of the monographs that came out in the mid-1980s from Squadron and Osprey and others. There are more recent books from Ian Allen. Someone else may know of more. I could suggest Russian or Polish books.

Quote:
Yeah, I just don't see this but if excusers for Soviet armor have to go this far why not just compare the T-72...whatever .
Perhaps because the T-72 has six sets of roadwheels. The T-34 can be traced directly back to Walter Christie's design. The T-44 had a new hull and suspension, but the rest of the vehicle was T-34 parts. The T-54 was the same vehicle with a new turret, so the T-44 is a bridge between prewar and postwar. It was a wartime tank.

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  #169  
Old 19 Mar 12, 11:52
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Originally Posted by panther3485 View Post
Indeed. The US came from behind but caught up very quickly. Quite an achievement in its own right, in addition to becoming "the arsenal of democracy".
That is true but the US also based their designs on proven chasis of low production test beds. The were able to work out the bugs and have two excellent models to work with. The US spend from 1935-1939 basically developing two tanks and then used their chasis right through the war. When you look at US AFVs you see either the M2 Light or M2 Medium used everywhere. The only significant change was the HVSS suspension change to the M4 but other than there is no change until the M24 Light and the M26 Medium (or heavy if you want to play the psychological game). Hull shapes change depending on the required role but the drive train and chassis were standardised. Saved time and money and permitted mass production.

This is sometime lost on those who criticise the continued use of M4 and claim the US could/should have had a replacement for M4 earlier.

This is the similar route that the Russians took with the T-34 and KV and the British did with the Cruisers from A-13 to Centurion (with some changes as the weight increased). Only the Germans went crazy with different chasis for everything. Even late war they had chassis in use from the Pz 38, Pz III, IV, V, VI and even the Pz II for the Wespe and some earlier TDs.
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  #170  
Old 19 Mar 12, 11:58
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Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
Guys, I would point out one major consideration when dealing with the US tanks...
I am confused. Which of the two is the "one major consideration"? Do you refer to the bureaucracy or the industry?

Bureaucracies are like old newspapers. Change the dates and names and the stories are always the same. It is amazing how anything ever gets done.

IF the bureaucracy ruled in favour, industry would certainly complain, at least those who already had a vested interest in building tanks. Under wartime conditions, I doubt Acme Locomotive Company would really care which tank they had to tool up for. It would be a huge dislocation either way and require much the same machinery.

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  #171  
Old 19 Mar 12, 12:09
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If this is the performance/life expectancy of the T-34 then I guess we know which tank was better.
Before deciding that, you should probably consider two things:

1. The combat/tactical doctrine of the Soviets, which regarded everything as expendable for the greater good, and which sent tanks racing into the enemy lines, and...

2. The level of comfort and sophistication that the average Soviet soldier was used to, which wasn't much. The T-34 was essentially built to be idiot-proof, and operable by just about anyone.
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  #172  
Old 19 Mar 12, 12:55
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Pardon me for resurrecting the original question.

Why did the west not build the T-34?

IMHO, the only time that this question might actually have been considered by the powers-that-be was in the twelve months after June 1941. After that point, the introduction of the Sherman into production made the question irrelevant. The M4, which was itself based on the design of the M2 Medium tank, was quite adequate to the task and made extensive use of existing tooling.
I would say even before the M4 went in to production. The M2 has been around for years, subsequent designs are around this suspension/hull/drive. More important than tooling the teething has been done. There is confidence in the design. Mechanics know the systems, foundations for the maintenance systems are in existence. US industry seemed to have no problem retooling.
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  #173  
Old 19 Mar 12, 13:00
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Again, this goes back to the design philosophy of the Army's R&D group. They would only order a few proto-types for extensive testing of the components but were not pressed to move into mass production. In fact, the US had the advantage of not needing the tanks between 1935 and mid 1940. This time was well used to slowly ramp up the production facilities and sort out the bugs.

Had the US needed to equip 16 armoured divisions by 1940 or 41, this time for development would have been considerably shorter (2 years or more) and industry may not have been able to respond as quickly. European nations were not so advantaged as the threat of war grew.
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  #174  
Old 19 Mar 12, 13:01
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Originally Posted by panther3485 View Post
IIRC from my own reading, manpower shortages were the main issue. If so, this is not relevant to the design of the tank. A turret designed to take 3 men is a turret designed to take 3 men. If you only put two men into it because only two are available, that doesn't change the turret. I gotta go the other way on this one, John.
The only reason it was discussed was that one or two posters wanted to be sure I knew the crew numbers of the T-34/85 was five. I wanted to point out that I was aware of it and threw that in as a POI. I should sy the only reason I was discussing it.
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Old 19 Mar 12, 13:07
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Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
Guys, I would point out one major consideration when dealing with the US tanks. Until AFTER the Fall of France the United States DID NOT HAVE AN ARMOURED FORCE. Tanks belonged to the Infantry and Combat Cars (also tanks but called Combat Cars for political reasons) by the cavalry. So you had the infantry board deciding what there tank should be: lots of machine guns and a light anti-tank gun (just in case). Or Cavalry board going: light tank with lots of machine guns and a light cannon, maybe, to run around and scout in.

So while the US armoured force was late to the game; I think they did quite well. Let's look: M2 (1939)--M3 (1940)--M4 (1941)--M26 (1945) and for light tanks: M2 (1935)--M3/M5(1941)--M24(1944). Not to shabby for a johnny come lately to the tank party. So I think that basically starting from zero the US tank production was very good. I now return you to your previous discussion.
For those that would criticize the US for this let's remember that short of invasion from Mexico we didn't have much worry in terms of national security.
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Old 19 Mar 12, 13:09
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Yes, I know this is irrelevant to the original question but it's driving me

I have to say, my opinion is leaning somewhat towards John's side in this. I think the evolutionary progression from T-34 to T-44 to T-54/55 is a rather differrent kettle of fish from the WW2 variations of the M4.

Do you like Bourbon? Kentucky Whiskey? Perhaps a California cabernet?
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Old 19 Mar 12, 15:00
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I am confused. Which of the two is the "one major consideration"? Do you refer to the bureaucracy or the industry?
The main thing was there was no unified effort at tank development prior to the foundation of the armoured forces. The infantry wanted one thing; the cavalry another. Industry gave them what they wanted as long as they got paid. And while I can't argue that the M4 transmission and lower chassis went back to the M2 (Be dumb to do otherwise), from the upper chassis (lower crew compartment) on up the Sherman is whole new critter. All I really am getting back to is the armoured forces had to learn the lessons of France 40; create itself and build a tank capable of winning the war. I also think I read somewhere that the British did have some input into the design, but I can't remember where I saw it and how much it was.

Also we should remember that the M3 Lee/Grant was never intended to be more than a stop-gap till the new M4 (or whatever was chosen) came online. So maybe I am silly, but I think that was a terrific achievement all around.

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  #178  
Old 19 Mar 12, 15:24
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You also have to recognize that in the US Army there were factions that wanted certain items included in tank designs for parocial reasons.

For example, the volute spring suspension was an ordinance department requirement. Alternatives prior to the war were not looked at for tanks. The cavalry with their combat cars and the various experimental Christie vehicles were in part frowned on because of this sort of "not invented here" syndrome.

The Sherman and other early war US tanks also suffered in terms of height due to the selection of radial aircraft engines to power them. The US chose those because they were available, reliable, and powerful. The US manufacturers simply didn't have an in-line engine of sufficent reliability and power to use in a tank at the time. In fact, to some degree, that problem extends all the way into the 50's.

The British version of the Sherman might best be seen in the Canadian variant the Ram.
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  #179  
Old 19 Mar 12, 17:55
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Originally Posted by The Purist View Post
That is true but the US also based their designs on proven chasis of low production test beds. The were able to work out the bugs and have two excellent models to work with. The US spend from 1935-1939 basically developing two tanks and then used their chasis right through the war. When you look at US AFVs you see either the M2 Light or M2 Medium used everywhere. The only significant change was the HVSS suspension change to the M4 but other than there is no change until the M24 Light and the M26 Medium (or heavy if you want to play the psychological game). Hull shapes change depending on the required role but the drive train and chassis were standardised. Saved time and money and permitted mass production.

This is sometime lost on those who criticise the continued use of M4 and claim the US could/should have had a replacement for M4 earlier.

This is the similar route that the Russians took with the T-34 and KV and the British did with the Cruisers from A-13 to Centurion (with some changes as the weight increased). Only the Germans went crazy with different chasis for everything. Even late war they had chassis in use from the Pz 38, Pz III, IV, V, VI and even the Pz II for the Wespe and some earlier TDs.
... which all goes to prove, IMO, that in war generally - and a long war of attrition in particular - pragmatism is the key.
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  #180  
Old 19 Mar 12, 18:00
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
Do you like Bourbon? Kentucky Whiskey? Perhaps a California cabernet?
The cabernet sounds good.
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