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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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  #31  
Old 15 Jun 13, 22:46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
By that time (from the 1930s up to the Pearl Harbor) the US did not have an overwhelming and pressing need to send all of its welders to the the Navy immediately. Moreover, if it indeed was such champion of welding technologies as you tout it, it seems very strange it didn't even attempt to design its tanks with welded armour until 1940 when the work on Sherman began.
Are you inferring that the U.S. waited until 8Dec41 to start discussing war production? I don't think so.
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  #32  
Old 15 Jun 13, 23:39
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Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
That is incorrect. The Sherman only appeared taller because it was narrower in the front. (Good thing I saved these images.)
I should've added for the same weight. Got a comparison of the M3 light and anything else of similar weight?
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  #33  
Old 16 Jun 13, 11:29
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Originally Posted by Michele View Post
If you consider that as the alternative to designing and building tank destroyers and armored artillery from scratch, with more suitable hulls to start from, you will probably agree that it was a decision constrained by resource availability.
I don't exactly get your opinion here, to be honest (because of the wording)...
Let me put it like this (whether it's contradictory to your words or not): Upgunning and uparmoring a tank that is otherwhise still up to date and perfoming well, is no shame. That's why I wronte "...without major drawbacks". Putting a long 75mm gun into the PzIV, for example, increased its perfomance greatly without affecting other attributes, that were still good, too badly. That is no limitation to tank design, it is efficient use of rescources. It is not a decision constrained by availablility of rescources - it's just not stupid.
Designing SPGs (for AT use or not) on the basis of existing hulls by removing their turrets, because they could not carry a bigger gun and/or they were easier to produce, well, that may be contrained by available resourses to some extend.

But anyway. Interesting discussions going on here. Frankly, I wasn't aiming for the "usual" process of design and military doctrine things (but why not post them anyway?) which lead to the respective tanks, but for the factors that limited design to the point where "even if they wanted to make this-and-that better, they could not" comes in. Like the posted facts about british railway-system or not having the workforce to weld tanks and so on.
Unfortunately, I can't tanke part in the welding-discussion due to a lack of knowledge. But I'm following it. ^^

But there is one (not-really-related-to-my-topic-)thing I can not understand:
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
And let it be said; I think we did pretty well starting from pretty much zero.
referrring to the US tank design. I read posts somewhat like these quite often in this forum. Now, I do not want to offend anyone, downgrade WW2 US tanks or attack posters of that statement but here's what I think:
I shall claim there are 5 major nations that took great part in armored combat somewhere in the time from 1916 to 1945: UK, France, Germany, Russia and the USA. I will not regard other tank-building nations like Italy and Japan, as their influence was marginal.
Out of these 5, only 2 had real experience in building tanks from the beginning: France and Britain. All others had nothing (except for a crappy A7V barely woth mentioning) or tried to copy tanks from the first two. To be precise, USA did design tanks as early as 1918. The Holt Gas-Electric Tank and, together with the British, the Mark VIII International Tank.
All 5 took part in the first World War, saw the need for tanks and analyzed tank warfare in it's whole process. It's not like the nations were blind to what happened in Spain etc. If it was possible to gain experience in tank design from history, there is no real reason why any of these nations would have had more than one other.
From my understanding, only Germany invested a high amount of resources (or at least thinking) into making progress in tank design in the pre-war years. The french or british budged was not at all as high as it should have been. That's 1 in 5 not suffering from budget-problems inflicted by politics and wrong military doctrines.
2 out of 5 nations suffered from major handicaps: Germany from the defeat and WW1 and the Treaty of Versailles, forbitting tank-production, and Russia having just recently risen from an agricultural to an industrial state (!) and had been purging it's ranks of military leaders.
So all in all it seems to me that there were 2 nations resting on their laurels (GB and France) and 2 nations with the worst starting point there could be (Russia and Germany)... and there is the US making wrong decisions.

The US tanks in WW2 were good and I think that, in the end, they definitely won the western tank war. But I can hardly accept the argument "they started from pretty much zero" (again: no offense!), as more than half the major tank nations (including the USA) did so, and I really think the differnce was not that significant (as most pre-war tanks did not at all suit the requirements of WW2). After all, the two nations with the worst starting positions were the ones to define the most standards thoughout the war!
Don't get me wrong but IMHO a thoughtless budget-cut and bad doctrine in early years can not really make up for things like massive industrial power, great experience in automotive designs, close contact to leading tank building nations and detailed analysis of past conflicts...
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  #34  
Old 16 Jun 13, 13:47
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
Are you inferring that the U.S. waited until 8Dec41 to start discussing war production? I don't think so.
I strongly doubt the US planners considered the US war industry to be in such poor shape already in 1939-1940 that they deliberately decided to design their tanks with bolts and rivets - for the sole reason they urgently had to send all welders to the shipyards. Especially considering the purported US lead in welding technologies

I would also like to see any proof of the massive relocation of tank welders This is something what could've easily happened in the USSR in the time of extreme war emergency, but most definitely not in the US, and especially before the war started.
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  #35  
Old 16 Jun 13, 13:55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Utgardloki View Post
From my understanding, only Germany invested a high amount of resources (or at least thinking) into making progress in tank design in the pre-war years. The french or british budged was not at all as high as it should have been. That's 1 in 5 not suffering from budget-problems inflicted by politics and wrong military doctrines.
Excuse me? In the years just before the war the Soviet government spared no money on the development of new tank prototypes: from heavy tanks like KV to teletanks, flamethrower tanks and floating tankettes. This is not speaking of the whole technological line from BT-5 to T-34.

While the scale progress in German tank design might be disputed when compared to that of other countries, what they really perfected is the tactical battlefield employment of tanks - something what could give Pz IIIs an edge over T-34s and even KVs.
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  #36  
Old 16 Jun 13, 16:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
I strongly doubt the US planners considered the US war industry to be in such poor shape already in 1939-1940 that they deliberately decided to design their tanks with bolts and rivets - for the sole reason they urgently had to send all welders to the shipyards. Especially considering the purported US lead in welding technologies
At that point they would dividing effort between increased war industry and private civilian industry not yet curtailed for the war effort so I would disagree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
This is something what could've easily happened in the USSR in the time of extreme war emergency, but most definitely not in the US, and especially before the war started.
Why do you say this?
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  #37  
Old 16 Jun 13, 16:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
At that point they would dividing effort between increased war industry and private civilian industry not yet curtailed for the war effort so I would disagree.
I would still like to see the proof that such decision was taken. So far you and TA are only offering assumptions. Like I've said before, I strongly doubt this.

Quote:
Why do you say this?
Just because the US was not in such desperately dire straits to be forced to design! and make all its tanks with rivet technology.

We're making circles here. I see that you're grasping at straws trying to cling to the untenable statement that the US was the leader in welding technologies in tank building in the face of quite obvious evidence to the contrary.
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  #38  
Old 16 Jun 13, 17:11
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Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
Excuse me? In the years just before the war the Soviet government spared no money on the development of new tank prototypes: from heavy tanks like KV to teletanks, flamethrower tanks and floating tankettes. This is not speaking of the whole technological line from BT-5 to T-34.
You're right. Maybe I have been writing too quickly again, not considering the soviet progress. Still, this only changes my point to 2 out of 5 nations not suffering from wrong doctrines.
I consider the soviet nation's tank design and -production just before and in WW2 most impressive - especially considering it's recent history of that time.

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Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
While the scale progress in German tank design might be disputed when compared to that of other countries, what they really perfected is the tactical battlefield employment of tanks - something what could give Pz IIIs an edge over T-34s and even KVs.
True as well, I think. That is what I have been touching saying the Germans invested much thinking in making progress.
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  #39  
Old 16 Jun 13, 19:29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
I strongly doubt the US planners considered the US war industry to be in such poor shape already in 1939-1940 that they deliberately decided to design their tanks with bolts and rivets - for the sole reason they urgently had to send all welders to the shipyards. Especially considering the purported US lead in welding technologies

I would also like to see any proof of the massive relocation of tank welders This is something what could've easily happened in the USSR in the time of extreme war emergency, but most definitely not in the US, and especially before the war started.
The US initially massively expanded production starting in 1939. Tanks remained a secondary issue at that point to naval construction. Quite obviously for the US, not their future allies, that naval construction was taking precidence.
Tanks at that point were being built primarily by locomotive firms like Baldwin. These had more experiance with rivetted construction and shipyards were taking the lion's share of the welding capacity. It follows that in the early war period tanks could be rivetted.
Aside from that, the US was also building at that point for the army mainly for training not operational use. Again, rivetted tanks make no difference if they are not expected to be sent into action.
At that same time (1939) the Soviets were just switching to welding. Their previous model tanks were rivetted.
In the 1938 - 1941 period prior to the US getting into the war shipyards across the US were vastly expanded. New drydocks installed, massive new shops ashore for repair and manufacture were being put in place. The US up to Pearl Harbor focused funding primarily on building infrastructure not actual equipment.

You want to quibble over some perceived slight. The US didn't build tanks using rivets much past 1940 as the workforce and equipment caught up with production.

http://weldingdesign.com/archive/welding-and-wwii

What you find is that between merchant and warship production that the need for welders absolutely overwhelmed what was needed for tank construction. Aircraft welding requirements almost eclipse that too.
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  #40  
Old 16 Jun 13, 22:30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
I would still like to see the proof that such decision was taken. So far you and TA are only offering assumptions. Like I've said before, I strongly doubt this.
I haven't seen proof offered by you as to what you say the US was doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShAA View Post
Just because the US was not in such desperately dire straits to be forced to design! and make all its tanks with rivet technology.

We're making circles here. I see that you're grasping at straws trying to cling to the untenable statement that the US was the leader in welding technologies in tank building in the face of quite obvious evidence to the contrary.
Actually I am seeing that there are wholes in the argument that you are throwing at T.A. and that he makes good points (see below) so I am simply trying to ask questions and make assumptions. You assume so why can't I?
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  #41  
Old 17 Jun 13, 04:11
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
What does the above mean please?
That the design began out of the state of the art as the Germans had it under the Versailles limitations, i.e the so-called Landwirtschaftlicher Schlepper A of 1932 ("agricultural tractor", as mentioned). That limitation was not a technical one, but a political one.

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  #42  
Old 17 Jun 13, 04:27
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Originally Posted by Utgardloki View Post
Designing SPGs (for AT use or not) on the basis of existing hulls by removing their turrets, because they could not carry a bigger gun and/or they were easier to produce, well, that may be contrained by available resourses to some extend.
And indeed that was mainly what I was talking about.
Let's talk about specific designs, so that my thinking will become easier to understand.

The Jagdpanzer IV was a pretty good thing. It featured an existing hull, the one of the Pz IV, being used not to build a tank with a revolving turret, but a tank destroyer. The latter already is a more limited vehicle in comparison with a true tank, but it works. OK.
So the right thing to do, technically speaking, was to build JgPz IVs. Or at least StuG IIIs with a long gun, based on the Pz III's chassis.
Instead, the Germans did both of those - and also kept the assembly line that had built the Pz 38(t) keep building hulls, and placed either home-made 75mms or even captured 76mms on top of that, in a bulky, thin, open-topped, vulnerable superstructure, obtaining various versions of the Marder - which is still better than a towed 75mm, but doesn't hold a candle to a JgPz IV or to a StuG III with a 75mm in the same barrel length.

So why did the Germans produce the Marders? Because they had those assembly lines going, and they did not have enough production capability for the III and IV hulls, and something is better than nothing. It's a constraint. It's also making a lemonade out of lemons, which is again probably better than having nothing to drink; but it's not an ideal solution.

You can see the same trend with other vehicles. A 15cm sIG perched onto a Pz I hull? Yes, that's better than towing it around with a horse-drawn limber, but it's another case of the same. It's a dinner made with leftovers. It might be an acceptable dinner and anyway it's better than fasting, but it's not as if you bought first-class fresh raw ingredients and started from scratch. A late-war recon tank based on the Pz II hull? Ditto.
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Old 17 Jun 13, 05:27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
And indeed that was mainly what I was talking about.
Let's talk about specific designs, so that my thinking will become easier to understand.

The Jagdpanzer IV was a pretty good thing. It featured an existing hull, the one of the Pz IV, being used not to build a tank with a revolving turret, but a tank destroyer. The latter already is a more limited vehicle in comparison with a true tank, but it works. OK.
So the right thing to do, technically speaking, was to build JgPz IVs. Or at least StuG IIIs with a long gun, based on the Pz III's chassis.
Instead, the Germans did both of those - and also kept the assembly line that had built the Pz 38(t) keep building hulls, and placed either home-made 75mms or even captured 76mms on top of that, in a bulky, thin, open-topped, vulnerable superstructure, obtaining various versions of the Marder - which is still better than a towed 75mm, but doesn't hold a candle to a JgPz IV or to a StuG III with a 75mm in the same barrel length.

So why did the Germans produce the Marders? Because they had those assembly lines going, and they did not have enough production capability for the III and IV hulls, and something is better than nothing. It's a constraint. It's also making a lemonade out of lemons, which is again probably better than having nothing to drink; but it's not an ideal solution.

You can see the same trend with other vehicles. A 15cm sIG perched onto a Pz I hull? Yes, that's better than towing it around with a horse-drawn limber, but it's another case of the same. It's a dinner made with leftovers. It might be an acceptable dinner and anyway it's better than fasting, but it's not as if you bought first-class fresh raw ingredients and started from scratch. A late-war recon tank based on the Pz II hull? Ditto.
Okay, I get it. There's just a minor difference in our opinions barely worth discussing about, I think:
I would not consider building turretless SPGs (in this case) a decision made by constraints. There was always the possibillity to decide otherwise and put the resources into use for the production of the PzIV, for example. It may be less efficient in a strategic sense but still be an option.
For me, the difference between a constrained decision for SPGs and a free one (TDs and assault guns mostly) is: Do the rest of our tanks have enough firepower to beat the enemy? If the answer is yes and you go and build TDs anyway, because they are cheaper, you will have them "on top", so to say. It's an addition to your armored force, not the mainstay, you know?
On the other hand: Having no tank with enough firepower and one is not able to bring one into the field, one modifies the existing ones to match the requirements and have any weapon to beat the enemy. See M3 Lee/Grant. Thats a decision made by contraints (and this may be where the Purist comes in).
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Old 17 Jun 13, 10:43
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Quote:
At that same time (1939) the Soviets were just switching to welding. Their previous model tanks were rivetted.
Soviets already used welding since years on the BT series and T-26 tanks.



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  #45  
Old 17 Jun 13, 17:23
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Real Name: Tin Pot Noodle
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If Montgomery said that tanks were a means of delivering firepower around the battlefield, and he did, then the Soviets had already taken that thought and pushed it further. This was due to the size of their state, and a quick response to a far away incident is not going to happen with horse transport.

The Soviets and Germans were different from US and Britain (inc much of the CW) by being required to focus on land rather than sea. Tanks were the 'landships', except the Germans and Soviets realised early on that if the technology could be pushed far enough, tanks could be used to great operational effect. Together, they worked in secret at Kazan in the 20's, and in thought at the very least, expanded the role for tanks. Interesting link: http://www.feldgrau.com/ger-sov.html

Initially, experiences from the Spanish Civil War saw the Germans gain greater knowledge in operational skill over their Soviet counterparts, while the Soviets came up with the better tanks. The Soviets quickly realised that a 75mm+ weapon was needed, one with enough muzzle velocity to act as an AT gun, and big enough to use a decent HE round. The focus on a decnt all purpose gun was a major strength of the T-34, and no country imo fielded a better single all purpose gun to its mediums (either 76.2mm or 85mm) in the relevant time frames of WW2.

The major difference between the Soviets and the Germans was the status of tanks. For the former, it was another weapon of war, to be built as efficiently as possible, and used the same way. For the Germans, it was far more of a status weapon, the Panzer divisions having a far higher profile in both the military mindset, and civilian propaganda programs. Indeed it was the arrival of superior Soviet tanks that caused such a panic in the higher echelons of the Nazi hierarchy, and the rush to produce designs that their technology was not ready for.

It is in regards to firepower that many people focus on to judge the strength of a tank design. In terms of 3 of the best tanks of WW2, the ability to be upgunned proved the worth of the design. The T-34, the PzIV and the Sherman were all able to be relatively easy to upgrade to a superior weapon system. This ability is what makes these three designs truly top contenders for best overall tank, for without effective firepower, a tank may be relying on psychological factors alone to help defeat the enemy.
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