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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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  #16  
Old 17 Apr 15, 13:34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Juan View Post
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.
It may have been better to have the Sherman in Normandy and the Churchill in Italy for logistical reasons alone. However, this Soviet approach of keeping things simple does not always work in any large organisation, hence their losses, with a combined arms approach nearly always being the best solution.

For Italy (and NWE), everything I've read suggests that the more different types of kit employed the more successful it will be, at least at the tactical level. The problem, of course, is in supplying all the different types of spares and ammo.

For example, my favourite historical regiment/battalion sized tank formation is one squadron of Churchill VII's (some as Crocodiles), one of older Churchills (many with the 6pdr), and one of Shermans with 76mms, 17pdrs and 105mms. The Shermans were used as snipers and on overwatch, the heavy Churchills making the assault, supported by flanking lighter MkIV's. These units would be supported by various Churchill and Sherman afv's such as flails and AVRE's.

In both Italy and NWE, the key appears to have the attacks supported by as much specialist armour as possible. As usual, you need to balance ease of supply with tactical effectiveness. The British were probably too specialised, the Germans certainly were, while the US were slightly too vanilla with the Soviets far too basic.

Just a current opinion.

PS: Just got my PC working again today, hence the increased productivity .
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  #17  
Old 17 Apr 15, 14:47
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Originally Posted by Don Juan View Post
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.
I suspect it has more to do with numbers than anything. Given that the British tank park in 1944 was mostly US supplied vehicles it is likely that there simply weren't enough British designed vehicles to go around for their units.
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  #18  
Old 17 Apr 15, 17:09
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Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
I suspect it has more to do with numbers than anything. Given that the British tank park in 1944 was mostly US supplied vehicles it is likely that there simply weren't enough British designed vehicles to go around for their units.
No, it was because the US 75mm was considered a much more useful gun than the 6 pounder.

But it was realised that for the particular conditions in Italy even 6 pounder Churchills were more appropriate than 75mm Shermans.
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  #19  
Old 17 Apr 15, 21:46
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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
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 .
Whole different set of problems.

I knew a Tanker who was the loader on a M26 in Korea.

Biggest problem was underpowered and fans kept failing.

Quite a bit different than shelling out final drives all the time when not burning out Maybachs
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  #20  
Old 18 Apr 15, 04:20
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Originally Posted by Marathag View Post
Whole different set of problems.

I knew a Tanker who was the loader on a M26 in Korea.

Biggest problem was underpowered and fans kept failing.

Quite a bit different than shelling out final drives all the time when not burning out Maybachs
From: http://cdm15040.contentdm.oclc.org/u...ename/1967.PDF

Quote:
The greatest single cause of mechanical failure seems to
be the power plant. The engines of the M26 and M24 were the
least reliable of all types of tank povwer plants. The next most
common mechanical failure was the transmission, including clutches
and gearing; with the ,46 transmission being the most troublesome.
Tracks and final drive failures were numerous, but in proportion
to the number of types involved, were.about equal among all types
Appears we are both wrong. Engine and gearbox problems were the most troublesome in Korea.
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  #21  
Old 19 Apr 15, 15:43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Javaman View Post
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.
Your reply is loaded with suppositions. His going to college does not mean he has to be an officer; he could serve first and then go to college. Pretty common way to pay for college among G.I.'s. Even if he had been an officer how much knowledge does (let's go with army for the purposes of discussion) a lieutenant (for example) need of the grand picture of the military? What does he know of strategy and logistics? If he were a supply officer what would he know of tactics? He could have served in Vietnam, are you saying this service would grant him more credibility on WWII armor? WWI aircraft? I don't understand that. He can read from the same books that they use at West Point (and probably has.)

I think all historians have limitations but if they do their research well, which you can tell by an educated analysis, they can be taken as an authority and their views as expert. War is a science in which a certain knowledge is key but this knowledge is not hard to find, understand and acquire. I respect Zaloga as a historian and respect his views.
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  #22  
Old 19 Apr 15, 15:56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
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 .
You make a number of good points. Thanks. It will be an interesting switch if he gives the nod the the M4 and I think I will be disappointed if he does it without making an airtight case.

< Is the best I can do for the M26. As I read Hunnicutt's work on the M26 all I could do was think back to my impression of his coverage of the M4 and how it evolved (of course much of the hard work had already been worked out with the M3) and then think of the difference. The M26 seemed to be nothing but headaches and they sent it to the field anyway. Why? To answer political outcry? Not a good reason.

Looking forward to the book.
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  #23  
Old 20 Apr 15, 08:48
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Originally Posted by JBark View Post
Your reply is loaded with suppositions. His going to college does not mean he has to be an officer; he could serve first and then go to college. Pretty common way to pay for college among G.I.'s. Even if he had been an officer how much knowledge does (let's go with army for the purposes of discussion) a lieutenant (for example) need of the grand picture of the military? What does he know of strategy and logistics? If he were a supply officer what would he know of tactics? He could have served in Vietnam, are you saying this service would grant him more credibility on WWII armor? WWI aircraft? I don't understand that. He can read from the same books that they use at West Point (and probably has.)

I think all historians have limitations but if they do their research well, which you can tell by an educated analysis, they can be taken as an authority and their views as expert. War is a science in which a certain knowledge is key but this knowledge is not hard to find, understand and acquire. I respect Zaloga as a historian and respect his views.
Fair points. I was thinking more along the lines of career Army officer which leads to CGSC and possibly War College. That path produces a multi-functional officer with field and technical education that cannot be attained elsewhere.
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  #24  
Old 20 Apr 15, 18:26
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Originally Posted by Javaman View Post
Fair points. I was thinking more along the lines of career Army officer which leads to CGSC and possibly War College. That path produces a multi-functional officer with field and technical education that cannot be attained elsewhere.
I can understand what you are saying I just can't agree that military science is different than other studies in how it can be learned and to what extent. We''ll just disagree on this one I think.
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Old 21 Apr 15, 08:16
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I can understand what you are saying I just can't agree that military science is different than other studies in how it can be learned and to what extent. We''ll just disagree on this one I think.
Its an age old argument, nothing new and generally not a productive one. but.....
Just bear in mind that "military science" is hands on experience in equipment, doctrine, etc. and lends a different perspective to the study of military history that can't be attained unless you've actually walked in those boots. My personal experience between the 2 worlds of hands on and scholarly research is that one hand washes the other. I have an MA in WWII military history and I'm a Field grade staff officer. In my personal experience I get a great deal more information out of reading WWII military history than prior to walking the path I have the last 15+ years or so. I'm guessing, but I think TA and Massena (to name a few) might agree here since they have similiar backgrounds. So before you discount military experience as being the same as reading about it, please understand that it isn't the same at all. It isn't better or less valuable, it just happens to be different and gives you a more full and balanced understanding rather than singular in perspective (assuming traditional research is done in addition). The level of military experience is just as relevant as level of research/scholarship as it pertains to knowledge of a particular topic. IE; A little bit of reading = a little bit of perspective, a little bit of military experience = a little bit of perspective, etc.

(as the old cliche' goes; "It is what it is")
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Old 22 Apr 15, 03:29
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Originally Posted by Javaman View Post
Its an age old argument, nothing new and generally not a productive one. but.....
Just bear in mind that "military science" is hands on experience in equipment, doctrine, etc. and lends a different perspective to the study of military history that can't be attained unless you've actually walked in those boots. My personal experience between the 2 worlds of hands on and scholarly research is that one hand washes the other. I have an MA in WWII military history and I'm a Field grade staff officer. In my personal experience I get a great deal more information out of reading WWII military history than prior to walking the path I have the last 15+ years or so. I'm guessing, but I think TA and Massena (to name a few) might agree here since they have similiar backgrounds. So before you discount military experience as being the same as reading about it, please understand that it isn't the same at all. It isn't better or less valuable, it just happens to be different and gives you a more full and balanced understanding rather than singular in perspective (assuming traditional research is done in addition). The level of military experience is just as relevant as level of research/scholarship as it pertains to knowledge of a particular topic. IE; A little bit of reading = a little bit of perspective, a little bit of military experience = a little bit of perspective, etc.

(as the old cliche' goes; "It is what it is")
Very well said!
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  #27  
Old 03 May 15, 14:24
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A preview of the book is here:
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...review&f=false

I don't think I'm going to agree with all his opinions.
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Old 03 May 15, 17:58
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Thanks !

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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
I don't think I'm going to agree with all his opinions.
Because ?

Anyway, I think the book preview illustrates and underlines the general thought I expressed in the other thread about the 'best' tank used in campaigns until june 41.
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Old 03 May 15, 18:38
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Thanks !

Because ?

Anyway, I think the book preview illustrates and underlines the general thought I expressed in the other thread about the 'best' tank used in campaigns until june 41.
From what he has said, assuming the missing pages do not lead to a different conclusion, tankers who served in both Cromwells and Shermans had a different life expectancy. It appears from his book that tank crews in British units had a better chance of survival than if they were in Shermans. The fact that in the Guards and 11th armoured divisions the recce regiment was Cromwells, ie led the way, and thus more likely to be shot at, does not appear to factor in his opinion. British crews who served on both tanks thought the Cromwell was better than the Sherman. This should not come as any surprise since the Cromwell was a generation later.

The fact that he includes the M26 belies belief for a best WW2 tank. As such, it proves that authors need to live in the real world, and pay the bills. 20 tanks or so in a campaign can be a best tank? The M26 is a Panther two years too late, but perhaps with a bit better HE. The M26 has never been as really effective as a Sherman but there you are.

In many respects the A10 vs the Pz III is much like the Sherman vs the Panther, but a VG that works. One that has a decent final drive as well.
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Old 03 May 15, 21:21
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The fact that he includes the M26 belies belief for a best WW2 tank. As such, it proves that authors need to live in the real world, and pay the bills. 20 tanks or so in a campaign can be a best tank? The M26 is a Panther two years too late, but perhaps with a bit better HE. The M26 has never been as really effective as a Sherman but there you are.
From Korea, where you had more Pershings in action, I have this factoid

from April 1951 to June 1951, 31 of 88 M26 Pershings were lost to mechanical breakdowns - 35% vs 8 combat losses over the same period. The M46 was no better, with 67 of 188 had breakdowns, a 36% with 30 combat losses. The M4A3 had a 20% breakdown rate

Panthers just were not that reliable, and even Italy wasn't as rough. terrain wise, as Korea

Zaloga's _Panther vs Sherman_ for the Ardennes lists this

At the end of two weeks of fighting, the Panther regiments in the Ardennes were shattered, losing about 180 tanks or 43 percent of the starting force of about 415 Panthers. Of the remaining 235 Panthers, only 45 percent were operational, and the remaining 55 percent were dead-line with mechanical problems or battle damage. In the case of the US First Army, which bore the brunt of the Ardennes fighting, by the end of December in had lost about 320 Sherman tanks of which about 90 were M4A1/A3 (76mm), equivalent to about one-quarter of its average daily strength that month. Due to continual reinforcements, First Army had about 1,085 Shermans on hand at the end of December 1944 with about 980 operational and only 9 percent deadline with mechanical problems or battle damage.


Its not exact comparison, but Pershings hadapprox 20% fewer breakdowns.

That is huge, even noting that Korea had twice the breakdown of Shermans than in Belgium

Then add in that the 90mm was better all around than that 75mm, and vision from the Pershing's crew stations was far better, and didn't have the weak side armor of the Panther
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