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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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  #1  
Old 05 Apr 15, 22:04
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Armored Champion: The Top Tanks of World War II

Opinion leader Zaloga enters the fray:

Any guess as to what the tanks are, and what the orders are?

http://www.amazon.com/Armored-Champi.../dp/0811714373

Quote:
Armor expert Zaloga enters the battle over the best tanks of World War II with this heavy-caliber blast of a book armed with more than forty years of research.

Provocative but fact-based rankings of the tanks that fought the Second World War
Breaks the war into eight periods and declares Tanker's Choice and Commander's Choice for each
Champions include the German Panzer IV and Tiger, Soviet T-34, American Pershing, and a few surprises
Compares tanks' firepower, armor protection, and mobility as well as dependability, affordability, tactics, training, and overall combat performance
Relies on extensive documentation from archives, government studies, and published sources--much of which has never been published in English before
Supported by dozens of charts and diagrams and hundreds of photos

Last edited by Cult Icon; 05 Apr 15 at 22:18..
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  #2  
Old 06 Apr 15, 01:17
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I would bet top dollar the T-34 ends up at the top, if not towards the top, of the list. For what it was, it was reliable enough, mass produced, and the sloped armor certainly helped.

The Tiger was over-engineered, under-produced, and overestimated. Yes, it was certainly a killer, but it gained an overblown reputation for it. An Allied tank company gets hit and can't get eyes on the enemy? It was a Tiger! Tank in front of them gets picked off from a shot out of nowhere? Tiger! Infantry's tank support suddenly brews up? Tiger!

A similar story can be seen with the Pershings. They came in right towards the end of the war, right after the Bulge, and while they performed admirably, they were too few, and the war was already coming to a close.

The less said about the Panther, the better.

I think the Sherman and Panzer IV will be up high in the list. Their designs could be built open and improved. They might not have been Tigers or Pershings in their own right, but they were capable, they were adapted and improved when needed, and they got the job done.

Of course, I'm basically an amateur when it comes to tank knowledge. I'll be looking into picking up the book when I can.
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Old 06 Apr 15, 01:46
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Zaloga is a very prolific researcher and has done booklets or full books for many tanks. He has actually given away his opinion in the past so this book probably did not require that much to set up. So basically if one has read some of his other books, they can figure out what he may include on this list:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_bylin...=relevancerank

I think he will place Sherman at #1. He pooh-poohed the Panther in several booklets.

Quote:
German Panzer IV and Tiger, Soviet T-34, American Pershing, and a few surprises
"A few surprises" ...dark horse: Cromwell (?)
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Old 07 Apr 15, 15:38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cult Icon View Post
Opinion leader Zaloga enters the fray:

Any guess as to what the tanks are, and what the orders are?

http://www.amazon.com/Armored-Champi.../dp/0811714373
Thanks for the heads up. He's not always right, and has to cater to his audience, so I'm guessing the Sherman will probably be top.

Hopefully the Panzer IV and T-34 will feature near or at the top, and tanks like the Panther, KV-1 and M26 will not feature as good.

Just an opinion at present, until I've read the book.
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Old 07 Apr 15, 16:07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Thanks for the heads up. He's not always right, and has to cater to his audience, so I'm guessing the Sherman will probably be top.

Hopefully the Panzer IV and T-34 will feature near or at the top, and tanks like the Panther, KV-1 and M26 will not feature as good.

Just an opinion at present, until I've read the book.
In Armored Thunderbolt Zaloga states he does not believe the M4 to be the best tank of the war (I remember quite well reading it...I was crushed.) Something told me he was catering to his audience when he said this as I think all things considered (quality, efficiency, durability etc.) he made quite the good case for the M4 being way up there, if not first. I think the number of Soviet armor and panzer fans and outweigh those that hold the M4 up there as I do and Zaloga knows this and writes with it in mind.
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  #6  
Old 07 Apr 15, 23:39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Thanks for the heads up. He's not always right, and has to cater to his audience, so I'm guessing the Sherman will probably be top.

Hopefully the Panzer IV and T-34 will feature near or at the top, and tanks like the Panther, KV-1 and M26 will not feature as good.

Just an opinion at present, until I've read the book.
I agree
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  #7  
Old 08 Apr 15, 14:23
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He'll probably put the Sherman on top. In the list of tanks included the Sherman is not there, so I'm guessing it is among the "few surprises". This could be mean he does not expect most readers to view the Sherman as top, and he is wanting to surprise them.

I also think a few French tanks will be on the list as well.
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Old 08 Apr 15, 14:32
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Originally Posted by Romani View Post
He'll probably put the Sherman on top. In the list of tanks included the Sherman is not there, so I'm guessing it is among the "few surprises". This could be mean he does not expect most readers to view the Sherman as top, and he is wanting to surprise them.

I also think a few French tanks will be on the list as well.
(My emphasis.)
Again, this would be a complete contradiction of what he wrote in Armored Thunderbolt.
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Old 16 Apr 15, 10:31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cult Icon View Post
Opinion leader Zaloga enters the fray:

Any guess as to what the tanks are, and what the orders are?

http://www.amazon.com/Armored-Champi.../dp/0811714373
Seems he's churning the same old information to make a living. I find his work interesting from the viewpoint of a scale modeler and an analyst, but its balanced with the fact that he never spent a day in uniform and has no practical knowledge of full spectrum field operations (and the whole ball of wax that goes with it).
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Old 16 Apr 15, 15:01
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Originally Posted by Javaman View Post
Seems he's churning the same old information to make a living. I find his work interesting from the viewpoint of a scale modeler and an analyst, but its balanced with the fact that he never spent a day in uniform and has no practical knowledge of full spectrum field operations (and the whole ball of wax that goes with it).
He is a writer so I think churning out new books is what he does. In all fairness would wearing the uniform give him an understanding of full spectrum field operations.
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Old 16 Apr 15, 15:57
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He is a writer so I think churning out new books is what he does. In all fairness would wearing the uniform give him an understanding of full spectrum field operations.
Judging by his education level I'm sure he'd have gone the officer career path and been involved in BN and above staff work/command with all its inherent field experience/problems. So yes, IMHO he would have an applicable understanding that would broaden his spectrum in ways he otherwise would be unable to.

It stands to reason that an analyst can't really be an expert in a field they've never been a hands on participant in. Staying in the realm of reasonable, that doesn't mean that the only experts are men who served in tanks during WW2. I have a BA in Economics, that certainly doesn't make me an expert in how to run a factory (having never worked in one) even though I can analyze data on its various functions/performance and make educated commentary on it. That qualifies as analysis from a particular perspective with a degree of seperation, similiar to Zaloga. His work is very good and has its place, but I would never consider it an authority or universal. His work and opinions have their limits.
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Old 17 Apr 15, 07:15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JBark View Post
In Armored Thunderbolt Zaloga states he does not believe the M4 to be the best tank of the war (I remember quite well reading it...I was crushed.) Something told me he was catering to his audience when he said this as I think all things considered (quality, efficiency, durability etc.) he made quite the good case for the M4 being way up there, if not first. I think the number of Soviet armor and panzer fans and outweigh those that hold the M4 up there as I do and Zaloga knows this and writes with it in mind.
You may be quite surprised at what decisions he makes. Now that he decided to break up the war into 8 distinct periods and with a generals choice and a soldiers choice in each catergory, the Sherman may take top spot for many periods as a generals tank, and for a couple of soldiers tanks as well. The Sherman would likely be both the Soldiers and Generals tanks for the PTO, and from El Alamein to Italy until the winter 43-44. Further, the Sherman will almost certainly be the generals tank for NWE 44-5. As an examples, British troops much preferred the Cromwell for their armoured divisions, but the powers that be wanted three regiments of Cromwells in the 7th AD to be converted to Shermans, and it was only the higher than expected loss amongst US forces that meant the changeover was never made.

As far as I see it, the Sherman will probably win 5 of the 16 categories, depending how Zaloga splits his periods. My 'best' tank would probably win 3 at best, especially if choices are limited to what was actually used in a theatre rather than what could have been. The Churchill should win best tank in Italy 44/5 for both general and soldier choices. It probably should be best soldiers tank NWE 44/5. The Churchill never took part in the PTO, but the Australians tested both the Churchill and Sherman and found the former superior. Likewise the only British tanks definitely allocated to the invasion of Japan were Churchill's. If 'what could have been used', rather than 'what was actually used', the Churchill could nab two spots from the Sherman. Unlikely imho, but we'll see.

However, the elephant in the room afaic is the inclusion of the M26. This tank in WW2 had virtually no impact and should not be included as a best tank in any shape or form imo. It is virtually a Panther with the same main problem but arriving 2 years later. I really hope this is not included, but judging by the number of M26 fans out there, its inclusion is almost certainly a forgone conclusion .
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Old 17 Apr 15, 10:24
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Zaloga's criteria, cdrs and soldiers, and how he uses the segmentation of the war will be interesting. I would like to see how he captures aspects of a tank production and fighting quality.

In his summing view in "Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two", he made these observations:

"During the war, the Soviet Union produced 79,611 tanks as compared to 25,006 tanks produced by Germany. ... Although the USSR out-produced German three-fold in tanks and a significant portion of German tanks were committed to other theaters especially after 1944, the disparity in the front lines was never so great. This was mainly due to the sever losses in tanks suffered by the Red Army, notably during the first two years of fighting. Through greater tactical and operational skill, the Wehrmacht was able to exact a disproportionate kill rate against Soviet tanks until 1943."

"Another imporatant factor in the Soviet Union's ability to outpace Germany in armored vehicle production was its good fortune in starting the war with two excellent tank designs, the T-34 and KV. By contrast, the Germans were obliged to develop new tanks to meet the Soviet threat.... Selection of heavy and complicated designs like the Panther and Tiger further exacerbated the problem." [Not to mention Soviet production lines with relatively unskilled labor building simpler designs.]
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Old 17 Apr 15, 13:11
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Old 17 Apr 15, 13:11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
As far as I see it, the Sherman will probably win 5 of the 16 categories, depending how Zaloga splits his periods. My 'best' tank would probably win 3 at best, especially if choices are limited to what was actually used in a theatre rather than what could have been. The Churchill should win best tank in Italy 44/5 for both general and soldier choices. It probably should be best soldiers tank NWE 44/5. The Churchill never took part in the PTO, but the Australians tested both the Churchill and Sherman and found the former superior. Likewise the only British tanks definitely allocated to the invasion of Japan were Churchill's. If 'what could have been used', rather than 'what was actually used', the Churchill could nab two spots from the Sherman. Unlikely imho, but we'll see.
The decision to send the Sherman to Italy instead of the Churchill was frankly admitted to be a mistake by the DRAC, Lt. Gen. Alec Richardson.
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