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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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  #241  
Old 23 Mar 12, 07:24
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
I am trying to come to terms with what I read here. It took me a couple of days to be able to type a longer reply so I waited...I hope this doesn't upset you too much. I understand that the SU was in a unique position compared to the US, GB, and Germany as far as armament production was concerned, having the ability to move their factories after the German invasion. The decision to do this meant a break, if I understand correctly, in production of armaments. In moving their factories the SU put them out of harm's way, for the most part (please forgive my memory but IIRC they were no longer in range of Germany's bombers.
Very good so far. The problem was that not all factories intended for the evacuation were shipped to their pre-planned destinations, and for a few years before the war the whole evacuation programme initiated in the late 1920s seemed to have been stopped de-facto, as the updating of evacuation plans was considered defeatist. I don't have any immediate information at hand on the number of factories which could not be evacuated or weren't evacuated properly, but for example even in Leningrad which was 300-500 kilometers from the border several factories were left behind. They weren't as crucial as the Kirov works, of course, but still.

This was partly caused by the lack of proper planning, partly by the lack of a clear understanding of the real gravity of the situation by the government, and even to some extent by the faith of the people in the "immediate counterstrike" which was touted by Soviet propaganda for the whole prewar decade. All of this has only marginal relevance to the subject matter, and my point is that the evacuation was not a smashing success story it was normally presented in Soviet war histories, although its war-winning importance is hard to deny.

As for the air raids, they were still able to reach Soviet factories deep behind the frontline, such as the series of surprise raids on Gorky in summer 1943. These raids were not much compared to the Allied bombing of Germany in 1944, however they had a great disruptive effect due to their unexpectedness and the unpreparedness of the factories' AA defences.

Here's a great paper I've just found, which provides a concise (albeit not comprehensive) overview of the evacuation of Soviet industries in 1942, strategic decisions made in regard to choosing new factory sites, German view of the situation, etc.

GERMAN AIR ATTACKS AGAINST INDUSTRY AND RAILROADS IN RUSSIA, 1941-1945, by Oleg Hoeffding

Quote:
I understand why this would interupt production but I don't see where it had a tremendous impact on design development.
Well, for a man taking such great pride in understanding his native language you seem to have made a real comprehension slip. The order I quoted a few days earlier explicitly said to "stop all works on the modernisation of the T-34", and practically all engineers engaged in the tank's design and manufacturing were tasked with simplifying the tank and cutting its costs to the minimum. These guidelines were directly the opposite to the German engineers' line of thought throughout the course of the war, and at the same time they did not allow them to work on the "fancy" things their US and British colleagues could work on like ergonomics and reliability enhancement of the tank's main mechanical units. Referring to my previous post with the quote containing the list of improvements to be made and faults to be corrected, you can see that even the "minor modernisation" program called for a serious "reconstruction" of the tank.

Quote:
The US was not in this position and Britain did not get invaded and probably suffered little in terms of bombing damage to their factories (I recall reading of some facotry bombing but have not concentrated a lot of reading on this so I am a little foggy.) Germany was within bomb range of Britain and US forces stationed in England and later in the south so their factories came under attack (I'm trying to understand why this is referred to as "comfortable.)
First of all, Allied bombing raids started to yield serious results only by late 1943 - early 1944 when the US Air Force arrived in significant numbers, although even in late 1944 the hit percentage was still extremely low. Secondly, even in the modern day with its high precision weapons no bombing can be compared to the actual boots on the ground. What the Soviet Union experienced from day one was only felt in Germany in late 1944, and even then the Allied armies were still far from the main industrial and population centers, unlike the case of German troops in the USSR in summer 1941.

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So this post says don't compare design development because the Soviets had to move their factories.
I think the quote I posted said it in a rather different way, and I've just explained it, but here you go

Quote:
This post aslo says that German factories had comfortable conditions through the war comred to the Soviets. I was wondering if one were to want to make a comparison between Soviet tanks and US tanks how this should be done. Secondly, could you please explain how Germany was in a comfortable position when compared to the USSR.
Well, it's hard to feel comfortable when a war is going on, but I'd say that dodging an occasional bomb falling from the sky is sort of more "relaxing" than having your factory taken over by the Nazis who would then send you for forced labour in Germany.

Quote:
An afterthought; A phrase was used earlier that Soviet tanks were made by teenagers in shacks but I am wondering why this is pointed out. Of course able bodied men went to war, as they did in the US as well. Men too old and too young for service went to work in factories, as did women.
This happened in the US as well as the USSR, the USSR having a larger population, the US having more factories. If we are to take teenagers in factories into consideration in the USSR then can we have a similar consideration for the US?
The problem is that many skilled workers who were not sent to the front at other countries were either captured in the first weeks of the war if their towns were located close to the border, or took up arms as members of the People's Militia divisions when the enemy was at their cities' doorsteps. Despite the fact such workers were normally exempt from the army draft they left their factories for the front way to often and this can't be considered a negligible factor. The Germans only started to feel the negative effects of skilled workforce shortage late in the war when the war necessity forced them to press such workers into the army service. I don't have any exact information on the US workforce situation during the war, but I can't imagine the American leadership being insane enough to pull their best workforce assets into the Army.

It takes years to "groom" a good metalworker who would be able to perform complex operations on sophisticated machinery. I won't deny the US used teenagers, but what matters is their relative proportion. For example, if you have, say, 30 skilled workers and 70 apprentices, you can make a Tiger, if you only have 5 skilled workers left (losing the rest because of the war) and all others have just taken their rasps in their hands for the first time in their lives, you can barely make a T-60.

Getting back to the original topic, I suggest to choose the time when the modernisation works on T-34 were stopped as the reference point, namely June 1941. By that time, several T-34M's had already been produced and the modernised tank was already being prepared for serial production. I think that in terms of pure comparison of the designs and not the two tanks' effect on winning the war, it would be fair to use T-34M as the last design advancement of the T-34 before the adverse conditions came into effect. In order to make a proper comparison, we should choose relevant starting points, and in the case of T-34 I suggest March 1940 when the first prototypes with a 76mm gun and 45mm armour were completed and tested. Using the tank's prior development and its evolution from the BT series as such starting point would mean treading on shaky ground as it leaves way too much area for different interpretations. To sum it up, the T-34 evolved from its first prototype to the T-34M prototype in about 15 months, and this is the yardstick we should apply to Sherman's development.
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  #242  
Old 23 Mar 12, 09:19
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
An afterthought; A phrase was used earlier that Soviet tanks were made by teenagers in shacks but I am wondering why this is pointed out.
If it was my phrase, it was not meant to reflect on the manpower, but with the simplification of the design and adaptation to mass-production processes where most of the tank could be assembled by unskilled labour. Journeymen were scarce everywhere, but they were especially scarce in the USSR.

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  #243  
Old 23 Mar 12, 12:14
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Originally Posted by clackers View Post
The report doesn't say that welds are unimportant, it says that their quality had not "been a major factor in the battlefield performance of Soviet armor".

That's two different things.

The report was written at a time when the alliance between the Soviet Union and the United States had broken down and warns its audience that the tanks of its new enemies are, despite appearances, 'rugged and battleworthy'.

If you want to investigate further, this report is probably "Engineering Analysis of the Russian T34/85 Tank 1945 Production", Chrysler Corporation Engineering Division, 1951.

In the body of the book the report is said to be from 1953, but I'll put that down to a typo. Looking at the rest of the bibliography at the back, it has to be that one.
Thank you for that. Interesting to know. I'm also still confused because I thought we were discussing early war analysis the T-34/76. I still don't understand where Chrysler would get an accurate view of T-34 battle performance since the Soviets were so secretive. (Does this mean the welding seminar is over?)
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  #244  
Old 23 Mar 12, 12:22
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Originally Posted by Emtos View Post
USSR for the major part of the war didn't had a larger population. The USSR population at time was 196 millions and the US one 131 millions. But arounf 70 millions of Soviet citizens found themselves under Axis occupation. This means that from the autumn fo 1941 to the end 1943/summer 1944, those men were unavailable to the Soviet war effort, but were used by Germany. The second point is the number of the men conscripted. In USSR it was around 34,5 millions, when in USA it was 16,6 millions. It makes 17,6% of population under arms for the USSR and 12,5% for the USA. To have the complete picture, we can also include factors like % of the urban population; the nutrition of the workers and so.
Good points. A couple of questions though. Did all 70 million stay in occupied territory? Were all used by Germany asforced labor? Might we also need to factor in the number of factories and overall industrial need. I am guessing the US had more factories and shipyards to man.
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  #245  
Old 23 Mar 12, 12:43
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
...Welds that are well done look good. Welds that are done poorly look like crap.
That is simply not the case.
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  #246  
Old 23 Mar 12, 14:53
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
I've been to Aberdeen Proving Ground and Saamur, France (I won't butcher the name of their tank museum) and the welds on the tanks I've seen, even those the product of fine German engineering, were pretty obvious.

Welds that are well done look good. Welds that are done poorly look like crap.
With respect, you are completely wrong about this.

I appreciate the fact that you've looked at tanks in museums, but that activity has absolutely nothing to do with the science and art of welding.

Take it from someone who actually welds, and has done so for many years. Pretty welds can be very weak and ugly welds can be extremely strong.
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  #247  
Old 23 Mar 12, 17:49
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Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
I would agree with the Firefly option - it was surely a better design, although wasn't its HE round much worse than the original 75mm one?
You could well be right, I must admit I don't know. I think that at the time the armoured regiments fielded 1 troop of Fireflies per Squadron of "ordinary" Shermans so that is probably how they got round it, treating the Firefly as a specialist vehicle.

In the attached photo of Operation Goodwood the first two tanks are "ordinary" Shermans and the third is a Firefly. I think in the very background is a Sherman Flail (or similar).



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  #248  
Old 23 Mar 12, 18:59
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
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.
This is true, having a low ability to find and engage a target dose not help a tank, their is that one story of a Pak 36 crew firing off 23 rounds at a T-34 (the story dose not mention if the T-34 was taken out, ran off or took out the Pak 36), quite often it's used to say how bad the Pak 36 is, but it also shows how pore the observation from a buttoned up T-34 was, as the Pak 36 fire 23 rounds and was not discovered, that's at lest two minutes of fire with out getting spotted. It is then compounded by the low rate of fire that can be achieved once the ready rack is used.


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Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
The rate of fire for the 75mm Sherman is 20 rounds per minute. The 76mm version is about the same, although slightly less due to the length and weight of the round. By comparison the rate of fire for the 37mm gun in the light tank is 30 rounds per minute.
That is not what I was asking, that is the theoretical rate of fire, not the practical. I was asking for the realistic rate of fire the vehicles could do not what the weapon it self could do.

The Gun(s) can be loaded and fire every 3 or 4 seconds, their is no question about that, but that is basically in perfect conditions and possibly with the weapon not even in a vehicle at all.

A tanks realistic rate of fire has to factor in...
1. The commander first has to locate and identify the target, this takes a few seconds (lets say 2-5 seconds)
2. Then he tells the gunner about the target and where it's located, the gunner swings the turret to the location and trys to find the target he's been told about, this can take a few seconds (depending on the traverse rate and where the turret is pointed at the time as well as how long it takes the gunner to locate the target him self), again lets say 2-5 seconds
3. Once the gunner identify's the target, the loaded is instructed on the round to load, he then has to find and then maneuver the round into the gun to be loaded (in a confined space no less), this again can take a few seconds, even longer if the round is not in a convenient spot. This can take anywhere from 3 to 15 seconds (or more).
4. Loader notifys the gun is loaded and the gunner takes final aim and fires the weapon this should not take more than a second or two
5. The round then flys to the target and impacts the target (or missis) this can result in dust and smoke obscuring the impact site for a few seconds (how long is dependent on the wind and how dusty the environment is).
Though fallow up shots can shave a few seconds off, for not requiring the commander to find a new target and the turret to be redirected

So this can take anywhere from 8 or so seconds to as much as 30 or more. This is even true today, as the old CAT 85 & 87 (Canadian Armor Trophy) events indicates (the only two that I can find with times) both indicate that modern tanks (like the Abrams) can take between 7 to 12 seconds to engage a single target.

So in reality while the gun can be loaded in 3 or 4 seconds, it often will take far longer than that for fire control and ergonomic reasons.

The issues of the T-34 on this that the "gunner" is he was both the commander and gunner, so if he's in the gunners chair, he's mostly looking out of his gunner sight, which is often not very good for rapidly finding targets, alternatively he could use the panoramic sight on the turret roof, but while that could be rotated it also had the issue of a relatively small field of view (25 degrees). If he was playing commander he had to stick his head out of the turret (particularly with earlier models which had no cupola), at lest that gave a good field of view. However he could not aim the turret very well (if at all). Never mind the issues of trying to get the crew to do things at the same time... So it could take a very long time to aim the gun at the target, and then it could take a while for the loader to load the gun...


--------------------
The T-34 for all it's faults was at lest for the Russians cheap and easy to build, operate and had a decent gun with good armor protection.

It's faults however are many it's reliability IIRC is a bit suspect, I have heard of accounts of oil filters being clogged by a few ounces of metal from the engine and spare transmissions being carried on the back deck was not unheard of AFAIK. It's optics was a bit low quality and lacking in early models, and many lacked radios, crew ergonomics was also low and did not help the vehicle in combat.
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  #249  
Old 23 Mar 12, 19:48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nebfer View Post
So in reality while the gun can be loaded in 3 or 4 seconds, it often will take far longer than that for fire control and ergonomic reasons.
The cramped turret was imposed by the geometry that made the armour so efficient, a trade-off. Assuming we are still talking about a T-34 from 1942, UTZ was manufacturing the new turret from the spring of that year, so it was available. The new turret was larger and improved the situation to a degree. It needed a cupola, something the Army had demanded from the beginning but the KB in the factories did not deliver until 1943. The troops really liked the British Mk.IV periscopes of the Churchill and they were quickly copied and introduced on every tank from 1943.

Quote:
It's faults however are many it's reliability IIRC is a bit suspect, I have heard of accounts of oil filters being clogged by a few ounces of metal from the engine and spare transmissions being carried on the back deck was not unheard of AFAIK. It's optics was a bit low quality and lacking in early models, and many lacked radios, crew ergonomics was also low and did not help the vehicle in combat.
Specific problems with quality and reliability would have gone away in US production. They stemmed from a variety of causes which included a raw workforce, shortages of machinery and facilities, poor-quality materials, shortages of electricity and coal, shortages of copper, manganese, rubber, aluminum and specific key alloys and catalysts. These were constraints on Soviet manufacturing that were not as detrimental to US production. It was still just a simple steel box with a gun and an engine. The USA could have built them just as easily as the USSR and installed their own components, solving all those problems.

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  #250  
Old 23 Mar 12, 20:17
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Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
With respect, you are completely wrong about this.

I appreciate the fact that you've looked at tanks in museums, but that activity has absolutely nothing to do with the science and art of welding.
The remark was directed at the person who said that welds are ground down and not apparent after painting. This is not the case on tanks I have seen in person and in pretty much any book I have on tanks (many of which have close up shots of the welds.)

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Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
Take it from someone who actually welds, and has done so for many years. Pretty welds can be very weak and ugly welds can be extremely strong.
Examine your remark and mine. They do not contradict each other. I will gladly withdraw the remark as I really care less about the look of the welds. Essentially you have already pointed out that gaps in welds of a certain percentage will cause a loss of strength but we don't know the percentage of the gaps in this case. We may very well be talking about the percentage that you speak and we are also talking about brittle welds.

The main point I wanted cleared up was why Chrysler made the statement that the poor welding had not affected combat performance. Where would they get this data? Wasn't the Soviet Union extremely secretive for decades after the war?
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  #251  
Old 23 Mar 12, 21:14
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Examine your remark and mine. They do not contradict each other.
OK. Here is your remark.

Quote:
Welds that are well done look good. Welds that are done poorly look like crap.
Here is my remark.

“Take it from someone who actually welds, and has done so for many years. Pretty welds can be very weak and ugly welds can be extremely strong.”

The two remarks are clearly contradictory. To claim otherwise is illogical.

Quote:
Essentially you have already pointed out that gaps in welds of a certain percentage will cause a loss of strength but we don't know the percentage of the gaps in this case. We may very well be talking about the percentage that you speak and we are also talking about brittle welds.
I did? That’s news to me. What is the post number?
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Old 23 Mar 12, 21:26
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Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
Very good so far. The problem was that not all factories intended for the evacuation were shipped to their pre-planned destinations...
This was partly caused by the lack of proper planning, partly by the lack of a clear understanding of the real gravity of the situation by the government, and even to some extent by the faith of the people in the "immediate counterstrike" which was touted by Soviet propaganda for the whole prewar decade. All of this has only marginal relevance to the subject matter, and my point is that the evacuation was not a smashing success story it was normally presented in Soviet war histories, although its war-winning importance is hard to deny.
What this seems to amount to (excuse my chopping it up) is poor planning and execution of a war plan? Do I understand? I don't see this as reason to exclude design as you have suggested.

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Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
As for the air raids, they were still able to reach Soviet factories deep behind the frontline, such as the series of surprise raids on Gorky in summer 1943. These raids were not much compared to the Allied bombing of Germany in 1944, however they had a great disruptive effect due to their unexpectedness and the unpreparedness of the factories' AA defences.

Let's not overdue this please. The report states this was the only bombing of Soviet industry.




Quote:
Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
Here's a great paper I've just found, which provides a concise (albeit not comprehensive) overview of the evacuation of Soviet industries in 1942, strategic decisions made in regard to choosing new factory sites, German view of the situation, etc.

GERMAN AIR ATTACKS AGAINST INDUSTRY AND RAILROADS IN RUSSIA, 1941-1945, by Oleg Hoeffding
Great stuff, by the way.

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Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
Well, for a man taking such great pride in understanding his native language you seem to have made a real comprehension slip. The order I quoted a few days earlier explicitly said to "stop all works on the modernisation of the T-34", and practically all engineers engaged in the tank's design and manufacturing were tasked with simplifying the tank and cutting its costs to the minimum. These guidelines were directly the opposite to the German engineers' line of thought throughout the course of the war, and at the same time they did not allow them to work on the "fancy" things their US and British colleagues could work on like ergonomics and reliability enhancement of the tank's main mechanical units.

My bad on the comprehension slip. I can't agree again that this difference in industrial energies grants the USSR special consideration when we make comparisons. The Soviets made a decision with the T-34 but their industrial output shows that they were fully capable in all aspects of armament production. Why does their decision on how to procede with production excuse them from our comparisons of tanks?

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Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
Referring to my previous post with the quote containing the list of improvements to be made and faults to be corrected, you can see that even the "minor modernisation" program called for a serious "reconstruction" of the tank.
There were decisions made in every country with regard to their armor production for reasons of all kind. The US was concerned with numbers as well, with all sorts of aspects to make the tank the best for the war we thought we were fighting.

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Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
... What the Soviet Union experienced from day one was only felt in Germany in late 1944, and even then the Allied armies were still far from the main industrial and population centers, unlike the case of German troops in the USSR in summer 1941.
I don't agree with the comparison you mae here.

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Well, it's hard to feel comfortable when a war is going on, but I'd say that dodging an occasional bomb falling from the sky is sort of more "relaxing" than having your factory taken over by the Nazis who would then send you for forced labour in Germany.
Dodging an occasional bomb is only one part of being bombed. The other parts are the destruction of equipment, the destruction of the surrounding city, the terror, theloss of material...How many factories were taken over? How many were not?

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It takes years to "groom" a good metalworker who would be able to perform complex operations on sophisticated machinery. I won't deny the US used teenagers, but what matters is their relative proportion. For example, if you have, say, 30 skilled workers and 70 apprentices, you can make a Tiger, if you only have 5 skilled workers left (losing the rest because of the war) and all others have just taken their rasps in their hands for the first time in their lives, you can barely make a T-60.
I'm wondering how many factory workers were in the US compared to the USSR? The US produced so much war material I have to believe that we had a huge workforce need, along with the manpower needs to fight in the Atlantic and Pacific theatres.

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Getting back to the original topic, I suggest to choose the time when the modernisation works on T-34 were stopped as the reference point, namely June 1941. By that time, several T-34M's had already been produced and the modernised tank was already being prepared for serial production. I think that in terms of pure comparison of the designs and not the two tanks' effect on winning the war, it would be fair to use T-34M as the last design advancement of the T-34 before the adverse conditions came into effect. In order to make a proper comparison, we should choose relevant starting points, and in the case of T-34 I suggest March 1940 when the first prototypes with a 76mm gun and 45mm armour were completed and tested. Using the tank's prior development and its evolution from the BT series as such starting point would mean treading on shaky ground as it leaves way too much area for different interpretations. To sum it up, the T-34 evolved from its first prototype to the T-34M prototype in about 15 months, and this is the yardstick we should apply to Sherman's development.
All this because the Soviets chose to stop design advancement for what amounted to what...two years or less? I just don't see it. I see numerous discussions about armor and I never see anyone win the arguement that we should ignore the final drive problems on the Panther and evaluate it as if it never happened. What design choices are we to ignore next? Why?
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Old 23 Mar 12, 21:49
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Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
The two remarks are clearly contradictory. To claim otherwise is illogical.
Okay. We don't see the same thing.

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Originally Posted by Sleepy Head View Post
I did? That’s news to me. What is the post number?
I'm sorry, I must have confused you with one of the other welders that posted. Like I said, I don't care about the weld appearance #@*%.

Somehow you missed this. Let me repeat it.

I will gladly withdraw the remark as I really care less about the look of the welds.

Does that help?
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Old 23 Mar 12, 22:00
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Let's not overdue this please. The report states this was the only bombing of Soviet industry.
It was not, obviously. A large part of Soviet industry was directly in the path of the advancing Wehrmacht. The raids on the hydroelectric installations at Gorky were the result of a protracted struggle by Korten to develop strategic bombing in the Luftwaffe. By then it was the What-was-Leftwaffe, a handful of He-177A-5 with II/KG 1. There were no repeat raids.

German Air War in Russia by Richard Muller (Nautical & Aviation Pub. 1992) is an excellent treatment, scholarly but readable.

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Old 24 Mar 12, 00:08
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Somehow you missed this. Let me repeat it.

I will gladly withdraw the remark as I really care less about the look of the welds.

Does that help?

Eh? Could you speak up a little? I didn't quite make out what you said.
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