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

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  #421  
Old 20 Apr 12, 10:54
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Wasn't it Stalin that said quantity has a quality all its own?

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  #422  
Old 20 Apr 12, 11:00
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Overall the M4A3E8 was probably the best Sherman type as a complete package of WW2. White states:

Operation Grenade took place in February 1945. 76mm versions, nevermind Easy 8's, can be seen to be in relatively short supply even at this very late stage of the war. Given the production might of the US arsenal, this is an unacceptable failure of those in charge of supply to equip the sharp end with upgraded M4's

Further, the AT performance of most M4's is questionable, only offset by the bravery and skills of the crews compared with their opponents. This is why superior German tank flotation is constantly mentioned by US crews. Montgomery had stated that once the correct tactics had been worked out, the German heavies could be countered. The US correctly deduced that by fielding superior numbers of M4's forward, there was a greater likelihood of many able to get flank or rear shots in. This tactic was negated once the autumn rains arrived and the Shermans became more roadbound. This is why flotation is mentioned so often by tankers in Whites report, as the lack of maneuverability diminished the Shermans ability to outflank the enemy.

If the M4 had been upgraded earlier, and those versions in greater numbers, and we know it could have been, then the M4 could have been one of the wonder weapons of WW2. It was decided to make more average models instead. I believe that was the wrong decision. Once the Autumn rains arrived, M4 losses were such that the US was unable to supply their own army with enough mediums, nevermind supply their allies. This fact alone suggests my opinion is not without some merit.
I cannot un-pick your points made, because we are in agreement. However
the last part of your post uinderscores a nagging I have always had, but never looked into properly. The fact that from a surplus of Shermans, pre-Normandy resulted almost in an inability to supply replacements to all allied armies come the Battle of the Bulge. Maybe even before that.
What was the major reason for this?
-The progress of winning the war was much faster than anticipated? And for this reason planned supply did/could not keep up with events.
-Or were the allied armies badly mauled be the Germans during this period, which has not been properly emphasised so our understanding of matters is severely skewed, as in coining the wartime propaganda: "Everything is going according to plan". But actually was not.
Maybe it is the other way around. The allies were winning and the end of the war was in sight so Sherman production was not stepped up with demand and just run out as planned.

Ed.
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  #423  
Old 20 Apr 12, 11:16
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One factor could be the Allies seriously underestimated the replacement rate of soldiers and tanks. The rates for Northwest Europe were estimated from Combat in Tunisia. The rates of casualties in NW Europe were actually higher than estimated. That could mean the shipping from the US was not bringing enough Infantry and Armor replacements or tanks.

I am reading a book by Robert Neiman on Marine Tanks in the Pacific. He says they replaced their Tanks after every invasion, as they were worn out. I would imagines several months of rough usage in Europe would also have a similar effect. The British 30th Armour brigade turned in their old tanks right before the Battle of the Bulge. They were supposed to get new replacements. The German advance meant they had to go to the Scrap Yards and get as many worn out tanks as they could. While the Ordinance Branch could and did re-furbish many Tank casualties, new Tanks were preferred by the crews.

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  #424  
Old 20 Apr 12, 12:37
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I seem to recall that in Zaloga's volume on the 76mm M4, the figures he quotes for percentages in theatre are in line with what Chris posted. But just to be sure, I can look it up and check if necessary.
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  #425  
Old 20 Apr 12, 13:08
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Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
Wasn't it Stalin that said quantity has a quality all its own?

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  #426  
Old 20 Apr 12, 13:54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
I do remember and even gave you a pip for it .
Notice that you have not been using the report to support the M4. In fact you have derided the doc by stating the views contained was not an official 'report', and implied it could be ignored.
I haven't quoted the report? I thought I had...more than once. I may not be using the same portions of it you are because I don't see the sense of using G.I. anecdotal "information" to point out what we already know. Yes, I have pointed out that it is not an official report and should not be given the same weight as one. I've also pointed out that there is good evidence that the testimony obtained in this report may have been from a questionaire of leading questions. Accuracy is something we all stive for here, no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Excellent. If similar numbers of tanks on each side have similar wins and losses in the same tactical situations, and one side has a better tank, then it must be let down by its crew. I believe that US tankers were better than their German counterparts, and thus the German panzers must be better at a tactical level to counter this US strength in personnel.
I don't understand, I have quoted you twice saying you believe the M4 a better tank than German tanks and here you want me to argue the opposite. Why? I could also point out that a tactical engagement is not tht simple. You own Data of WWII Tank Engagements Involving the US 3rd and 4th ADs, check page 10 titled Engagement Variables. The first sentence: "The number of variables in a single or series of tank engagements is large." Why waste more time with this silly equation you keep offering unless you want to spend time supporting the superiority of the Panther?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
You surprise me . The German tanks have more powerful guns with better sights, better armour, and better maneuverability in the terrain given the actual weather conditions. The Shermans had better overall visability when buttoned up and a faster turret rotation speed. You might think that makes the M4 a superior machine in combat, I disagree.
First, this is what I disagreed with: "The individual tank itself was nothing special for most of its WW2 service, just the crews were. "
I believe both the machine and the crews to be special. Dealing with your opinion which waffles back and forth is not something I care to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
If you are going to dismiss General White's opinion on the M4, what about Corporal Thomas G McLane:Obviously US tankers only consider the tactical abilities of the relevant tanks, and that the superiority of numbers is due to the simplicity of manufacture, ease of transportability, low maintenance and high reliability that allows superior numbers to be fielded. This is what the M4 strength is, not as a decent combat machine in itself.The individual tank itself was nothing special for most of its WW2 service, just the crews were.

So if we had mass produced the M5 in similar numbers and it displayed the same reliability and ease of maintenance we could have won the war with it. Right? I thought I quoted General White?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
The first M4's were completely superior to both the A15 Crusader and A24 Centaur in almost every measure conceivable. By 1945 the M4A3E8 was not superior to the A34 Comet, and was lacking in several key areas to the British tank, eg firepower. The US could produce kit in both huge quantity and superior quality as shown by their aircraft production. It is just a pity they did not follow suit with their tanks.
Thankfully we didn't have to rely on 1500 Comets coming in the last 5 months of the war to defeat Germany.
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  #427  
Old 20 Apr 12, 14:09
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dutched View Post
I cannot un-pick your points made, because we are in agreement. However
the last part of your post uinderscores a nagging I have always had, but never looked into properly. The fact that from a surplus of Shermans, pre-Normandy resulted almost in an inability to supply replacements to all allied armies come the Battle of the Bulge. Maybe even before that.
What was the major reason for this?
-The progress of winning the war was much faster than anticipated? And for this reason planned supply did/could not keep up with events.
-Or were the allied armies badly mauled be the Germans during this period, which has not been properly emphasised so our understanding of matters is severely skewed, as in coining the wartime propaganda: "Everything is going according to plan". But actually was not.
Maybe it is the other way around. The allies were winning and the end of the war was in sight so Sherman production was not stepped up with demand and just run out as planned.

Ed.
The W Allies advanced quicker than they expected. From the information I have read in the National archives I believe WW2 ended about a month earlier than the British had believed. This opinion is due to estimates of supply needs to particular dates in said archives. If the weather had not been as bad as it was, I believe it could have ended even sooner.

However, the Shermans main problem was that it was being used as an offensive weapon on a broad front. That means it is going to be shot at first most of the time, and it had neither the speed nor the armour to defend against standard AT rounds. Worse, ad hoc AT weapons, such as PaK38's brought out of retirement, were almost as good as the plentiful 75mm weapons the Germans employed. From here:
Quote:
I would rather have the M24 light tank than the M4 medium. The former can do everything that the M4 can do, and the heavier armour of the M4 is of no value. We have M4's and M5's operating in conjunction with the M24, and they could not go where the M24 went. Mobility of the M24 is outstanding.
Bold is mine. Essentially, by NWE 44/5 the Shermans armour was heavy enough to slow it down, but not heavy enough to give adequate protection. The British, whose cruisers were initially far inferior to the M4, had caught up, even overtaken the M4 by the time of the A27. Cromwell VIIw's were faster, more agile, and at least had reasonable 4" armour to help defend against the most plentiful heavier enemy AT weapons. This is why they formed the armour of the British recce regiments. Comets were even better.

From what we have seen in the WW2 US aircraft industry, they were more than capable of putting large numbers of excellent and ever improving kit into the hands of their armed forces.

The Shermans strengths meant it could be fielded in far larger numbers than the enemy. Pity they didn't make it substantially better as well like their planes.
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  #428  
Old 20 Apr 12, 18:25
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The US Sherman shortage was not because of a lack of tanks per se but a lack of tanks in the right place at the right time. The US anticipated a loss rate of something like 5% (check yourself but it was a low figure). Their inexperience (in full scale armoured warfare) was limited and they should have taken the lead from the UK who kept a 50% reserve in France.
The US resupply system was geared to an unrealistic replacement rate and until more tanks could be put into the pipeline in the USA then there was going to be a shortage at the sharp end. The lead time between shipping them from the US to their arrival and distribution in France was always going to be a game of catch-up. Late 1944 there was a one-off transfer of 350 Shermans to the US from the UK stocks.
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  #429  
Old 20 Apr 12, 20:08
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m kenny View Post
The US Sherman shortage was not because of a lack of tanks per se but a lack of tanks in the right place at the right time. The US anticipated a loss rate of something like 5% (check yourself but it was a low figure). Their inexperience (in full scale armoured warfare) was limited and they should have taken the lead from the UK who kept a 50% reserve in France.
The US resupply system was geared to an unrealistic replacement rate and until more tanks could be put into the pipeline in the USA then there was going to be a shortage at the sharp end. The lead time between shipping them from the US to their arrival and distribution in France was always going to be a game of catch-up. Late 1944 there was a one-off transfer of 350 Shermans to the US from the UK stocks.
You know I revere your knowledge .

And you know what I'm about to say .

From the beginning of the Normandy campaign, Sherman losses were far higher than expected.

Part of this was due to the Boccage.
Part of this was due to a necessary learning curve. The W Ally troops had not practiseed in such tight terrain.
Part of this was due to over confidence and generally being green.
Part of this was lack of training.

You were the first to show me that Shermans and the Cats were statistically equal at the tactical level.
To me, it is quite clear that the opinions of the US tankers prove they were superior to their counterparts, even though it is not explicity implied.

Even though the US crews thought they were in inferior machines they went forward. They went forward and inflicted about the same losses on enemy machines in the same circumstances.

US crews were certainly better trained than their enemy counterparts in 44.

Therefore, given that tank combats were about honours even between the US and German afvs, if the US crews were better, then the German tanks were better to make the scorecard even.
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  #430  
Old 21 Apr 12, 00:08
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
If you are talking about wet stowage it was too little too late for most. If you are talking about armoured bins, the Germans were there first iirc.
Dropping the incidence of burning tanks by 75-87%, and instituting the change for almost half the tank's production life (production lasted from February 1942-July 1945; wet stowage introduced in January 1944) is too little, too late?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
My opinion stems from Zalogas 'Armoured Thunderbolts'. Further, the decent flamethrower version in the Pacific lost their 75mm, and therefore a less useful tank as an overall package.

And I wouldn't be so dismissive of the trailer. It could be jettisoned very quickly and had a number of other advantages. Crocadile crews quickly realised that the Germans would target the trailer, and so most were actually empty when towed into combat much of the time. The Germans would shoot at a worthless target, meaning they were wasting ammo and possibly giving their position away.
Flame tanks that retained their main guns were developed, but as you note not in time to see action in WW2. The US saw the trailer as a disadvantage, and it was among the reasons that the Crocodile was not pursued. Tankers who landed on the Normandy beaches also were exasperated by their ammunition trailers, although that may be an invalid comparison. Using the trailers as decoys seems an interesting tactical innovation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
The 90mm would have been perfect for the M4, and if that had been introduced, and it could have been, then this debate would probably not be happening.
True. I think that would have been a good thing, but I'm unsure if I would've made the correct call had I been wearing a bunch of stars in 1943-4.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
If General White says that he had 29% 76mm's then I'm inclined to believe him. There may have been more, but none where it mattered.
White's numbers seem about right. That seemed like a decent run-up to me, though, especially considering the disadvantages the 76 mm gun conferred (e.g., muzzle blast, weaker HE shell, etc.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Not enough reserves, means that the US were losing tanks faster than expected. Further, the real problem with the M4 was that while it was almost certainly the best tank in the world when first introduced, the powers that be decided to rest on its laurels and focus almost solely on quantity. There were improvements, but let us compare the M4 with the British cruiser program. The first M4's were completely superior to both the A15 Crusader and A24 Centaur in almost every measure conceivable. By 1945 the M4A3E8 was not superior to the A34 Comet, and was lacking in several key areas to the British tank, eg firepower. The US could produce kit in both huge quantity and superior quality as shown by their aircraft production. It is just a pity they did not follow suit with their tanks.
As Pruitt and mkenny have noted, the reserve stocks were based on faulty calculations and anticipations. I still disagree that the US "rested on its laurels" with regard to improvements to its medium tank, but I'd think it wouldn't be a stretch that one who thinks the county that guessed so wrongly on its tank armament would also think that same country would wrongly anticipate the amount of extra equipment needed when its first-hand lessons in mechanized warfare up to Normandy consisted of North Africa.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
I've used that quote as well . However, my point on the US gun remains valid.
Ah, I've missed that before. Seemed relevant that an Army commander is more than satisfied, while the men having to face off against heavier tanks are the ones with complaints.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Many apologies for straying back on topic .
Topics are overrated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
However, the Shermans main problem was that it was being used as an offensive weapon on a broad front. That means it is going to be shot at first most of the time, and it had neither the speed nor the armour to defend against standard AT rounds. Worse, ad hoc AT weapons, such as PaK38's brought out of retirement, were almost as good as the plentiful 75mm weapons the Germans employed. From here:Bold is mine. Essentially, by NWE 44/5 the Shermans armour was heavy enough to slow it down, but not heavy enough to give adequate protection.
This quote is from a cavalry group commander, and is biased by his requirement for speed. US cavalry in WW2 was not about fighting pitched battles with the enemy, and frequently preferred stealth and fought dismounted. On page 17 of the book you linked, the opinion of the M24 was not as positive once they Chaffees were pressed into the medium tank role in Korea. The M24 was vulnerable to AT rifles and had a hard time handling the North Korean T-34-85s. In fact, in Camp Colt to Desert Storm Philip Bolte quotes an October 1950 report from the 16th Reconnaissance Company, 1st Cavalry Division after they had fought in M24s as ersatz medium tanks in Korea: "Many men recommend that the M24 light tank be declared obsolete and replaced with a tank that has more armor, more power, a larger gun, more space for the crew, and more turret vision." As Bolte notes, that sounds an awful lot like a medium tank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
From what we have seen in the WW2 US aircraft industry, they were more than capable of putting large numbers of excellent and ever improving kit into the hands of their armed forces.

The Shermans strengths meant it could be fielded in far larger numbers than the enemy. Pity they didn't make it substantially better as well like their planes.
The aircraft industry in the US had risen to prominence due in part to its commercial application and the air devotees in the Army. The tank, unfortunately, had no commercial potential and its post-WW1 and between-the-wars advocates were less persuasive and subject to more censure for "unauthorized" ideas. That's a fascinating and depressing subject in itself.

Edit: Forgot one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
then the German tanks were better to make the scorecard even.
Ostensibly better prepared for tank-versus-tank engagements, with all else equal, I would agree.

Last edited by DogDodger; 21 Apr 12 at 00:45..
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  #431  
Old 21 Apr 12, 07:08
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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
In the report here, gun size apparantly does not make a difference, although veterans state a different story. To me Data on World War II Tank Engagements Involving the U.S. Third and Fourth Armored Divisions by David C. Hardison has one telling piece of additional info, and that is the distance that tanks were killed at. US troops had to get much closer, and this ties in with both higher command and vets opinions that getting in close was what mattered if you are deficient in gun/armour.

However, we can see the bigger picture, and we know that HE was the most important single round, the M3 75mm being better than both the M1 76mm and 17pdr in this case. The M3 90mm would have been an ideal all rounder. Of course the Soviets had been putting decent guns in the T34 for years. Their 76.2mm F-34 was the best tank gun when introduced, able to fire both a decent HE and AP, when other nations were employing two types for the job, sometimes on the same tank. They then upgraded to 85mm, which effectively combined the best features of the US 75mm and 76mm guns. As far as a main gun for the mediums was concerned, the Soviet T-34 tended to be better armed than the M4.

Many apologies for straying back on topic .
Who said this was off topic?
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  #432  
Old 21 Apr 12, 10:07
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Thanks for all your input guys. I enjoyed going through that.
I will look further into some of the information put forward.

Ed.

Btw not bad for a T34 thread innit?
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  #433  
Old 21 Apr 12, 10:54
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Probably the same reason Chrysler didn't build the Lada.

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Old 21 Apr 12, 12:51
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Originally Posted by 101combatvet View Post
Probably the same reason Chrysler didn't build the Lada.

I was not aware that Chrysler was an accolade for, ahum, quality.

As for the Lada, well it would not win a beauty contest, but definitely better than the Fiat series it was based on.
Pretty reliable as well. I know people went for the Fiat badge for considerations of street cred. Believe me the Lada was a better built.
For starters it had an insulated engine bay, totally abscent on the Fiat model. Better and more comprehensive toolkit and manual. I know the Lada gets a lot of stick undeservedly. On build quality alone I would prefer a Lada over a contemporary Dagenham wonder.
Btw most of the time one could not exchange Lada parts with the Fiat ones.

Ed.

Who was at the time quietly impressed by the Lada.
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  #435  
Old 21 Apr 12, 12:59
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Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
Dropping the incidence of burning tanks by 75-87%, and instituting the change for almost half the tank's production life (production lasted from February 1942-July 1945; wet stowage introduced in January 1944) is too little, too late?
Certainly none of the M4's that reached the British, Canadians, Poles and Czechs had wet stowage afaik. Further, all that wet stowage did for the M4 was bring the casualty rates down to the levels suffered by British tanks. And if White's report is to believed then the better kit was having trouble reaching the sharp end, given that by Feb 45 only 2 or 3 Easy 8's had seen combat in the 2nd Armored.

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Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
Flame tanks that retained their main guns were developed, but as you note not in time to see action in WW2. The US saw the trailer as a disadvantage, and it was among the reasons that the Crocodile was not pursued. Tankers who landed on the Normandy beaches also were exasperated by their ammunition trailers, although that may be an invalid comparison. Using the trailers as decoys seems an interesting tactical innovation.
From different source I think I've found out why the Crocadile was so successful. Artillery can support the infantry until the foot are about 150 yards from the enemy line. The range of the flame is about 150 yards, and the main gun can suppress AT guns positioned further back.

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Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
True. I think that would have been a good thing, but I'm unsure if I would've made the correct call had I been wearing a bunch of stars in 1943-4.
Of course. I've the luxury of talking with the benefit of hindsight. Still, if the British are putting a higher velocity gun firing a heavier shell than yours in their tanks, then questions should have been raised.

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Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
White's numbers seem about right. That seemed like a decent run-up to me, though, especially considering the disadvantages the 76 mm gun conferred (e.g., muzzle blast, weaker HE shell, etc.)
I'm not a fan of the 76mm as you know. However, Zaloga does point out that it came with a better sight than the M3 75mm.

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Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
As Pruitt and mkenny have noted, the reserve stocks were based on faulty calculations and anticipations. I still disagree that the US "rested on its laurels" with regard to improvements to its medium tank, but I'd think it wouldn't be a stretch that one who thinks the county that guessed so wrongly on its tank armament would also think that same country would wrongly anticipate the amount of extra equipment needed when its first-hand lessons in mechanized warfare up to Normandy consisted of North Africa.
The M4's were cancelled to Britain for the months of November and December 44. That is 5 months of combat to put matters right. It was not.

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Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
Ah, I've missed that before. Seemed relevant that an Army commander is more than satisfied, while the men having to face off against heavier tanks are the ones with complaints.
I think it is fair to say that the M4 was at least adequate most of the time, and even exceptional in some cases. I happen to believe that the technology was not available to have a MBT quite yet, and different tanks were required for different jobs (I'm a Hobart rather than a Montgomery man ).

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Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
Topics are overrated.

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Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
This quote is from a cavalry group commander, and is biased by his requirement for speed. US cavalry in WW2 was not about fighting pitched battles with the enemy, and frequently preferred stealth and fought dismounted. On page 17 of the book you linked, the opinion of the M24 was not as positive once they Chaffees were pressed into the medium tank role in Korea. The M24 was vulnerable to AT rifles and had a hard time handling the North Korean T-34-85s. In fact, in Camp Colt to Desert Storm Philip Bolte quotes an October 1950 report from the 16th Reconnaissance Company, 1st Cavalry Division after they had fought in M24s as ersatz medium tanks in Korea: "Many men recommend that the M24 light tank be declared obsolete and replaced with a tank that has more armor, more power, a larger gun, more space for the crew, and more turret vision." As Bolte notes, that sounds an awful lot like a medium tank.
The problem with the M4 in WW2 is that it did not have enough armour to stand up to the usual tank and AT guns it faced. The quote reflects that the Shermans armour was enough to slow it down, but not enough to protect it. The Shermans in Korea were the best type with a better powertrain and suspension. The engine of the Korean M4 also delivered about 17 bhp/ton as opposed to under 12 bhp/ton for most WW2 Shermans.

The M24's in Korea faced T34-85's. Unlike the Cats, they had no issues with reliability by this time, and were highly mobile. The ability to get their 75mm into a decent firing position was hampered by this, and the fact that they were generally outnumbered iirc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
The aircraft industry in the US had risen to prominence due in part to its commercial application and the air devotees in the Army. The tank, unfortunately, had no commercial potential and its post-WW1 and between-the-wars advocates were less persuasive and subject to more censure for "unauthorized" ideas. That's a fascinating and depressing subject in itself.
Why does this make complete sense. Priority was given to designs that had the chance to make a profit. For that statement alone, a pip will be sent.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DogDodger View Post
Edit: Forgot one. Ostensibly better prepared for tank-versus-tank engagements, with all else equal, I would agree.
Except for tank on tank porn, I would rate the M4 slightly better overall, one of the many reasons why WW2 was won quicker than the Allies expected.
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Last edited by Nick the Noodle; 21 Apr 12 at 13:05..
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