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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 04 May 15, 03:23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marathag View Post
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
The M26 is still not a significant WW2 tank. It had no impact, and should not be included as a 'best' WW2 tank.

There were 3 Centurions in Germany in the 7th AD by the end of the war. They didn't fight afaik, but if you are going to include M26's in the list as possible best tank, you may as well include A41's. Perhaps IS-3's as well.
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  #32  
Old 04 May 15, 17:19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
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.
Going from that preview, I don't think I am even going to bother reading it.
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  #33  
Old 07 May 15, 09:02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marathag View Post
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
What was the level of maintenance support for the M26 vs the Panther? Are those equal? If so that would validate your comparison, if not it invalidates it and hopefully you can see why.
Also to consider; what was the level of combat experienced by the M26 in Korea vs the Panther in the Ardennes? Heavy armor requires more wrench time, it just comes with the weight and is unavoidable. If you add in a higher operational tempo, battle damage and weather the amount of maintenance on heavy equipment increases rapidly. Therefore the force readiness rate is completely dependant on maintenance support, something the Germans were generally operating on a shoestring budget if any. The Sherman was a better tank than the M26 and the Panther, bearing in mind a working tank is better than a deadlined tank (IMHO).
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  #34  
Old 07 May 15, 09:11
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It was a German choice to concentrate on getting complete tanks out the factory gate rather than making sure they had enough spares (engines etc)to be able to keep them all running. Much like the mountain of engineless (and pilotless) airframes they made during the Speer 'miracle'.
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  #35  
Old 07 May 15, 13:21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Juan View Post
Going from that preview, I don't think I am even going to bother reading it.
My first thought while reading the first paragraph was similar but as a reference it can be very valuable. The beauty of a book like that is you can easily disagree with him and use his own material to do so.
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  #36  
Old 07 May 15, 13:57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m kenny View Post
It was a German choice to concentrate on getting complete tanks out the factory gate rather than making sure they had enough spares (engines etc)to be able to keep them all running. Much like the mountain of engineless (and pilotless) airframes they made during the Speer 'miracle'.
True, that was to meet the equipment requirements for force sustainment and generation? Or are you saying that it was a strategy for face value production numbers?
As I understand the issue with spare parts in the tank/automotive industry, the ratio of spare parts to finished vehicles was continously reduced in order to satisfy orders for new/replacement vehicles. The Germans lacked the factory capacity and materials to meet the prescribed level of spare parts bench stock per vehicle, thus the obvious implied secondary effect of a greater ratio of deadlined vehicles vs Allied vehicles of similiar/same class for want of repair parts.
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  #37  
Old 07 May 15, 19:06
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Javaman View Post
What was the level of maintenance support for the M26 vs the Panther? Are those equal?
Heavy Combat operations over a month, that had been in combat before the past 5 months. Pershings had been running on their own tracks after they got off the boats. This period was during the Chinese counterattack with near 3/4 million troops after UN forces retook Seoul for the 4th time. Germans still had some rail transport to move them from depot servicing to the jump off points. The areas North of Seoul had been wrecked.

In peacetime usage, the French didn't have much better luck operating Panthers postwar. Breakdowns galore.

The M26 had the worst reliability of any US tank fielded since the 1920s. It was still as good as the best the Germans put in the field.
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  #38  
Old 08 May 15, 07:35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marathag View Post
Heavy Combat operations over a month, that had been in combat before the past 5 months. Pershings had been running on their own tracks after they got off the boats. This period was during the Chinese counterattack with near 3/4 million troops after UN forces retook Seoul for the 4th time. Germans still had some rail transport to move them from depot servicing to the jump off points. The areas North of Seoul had been wrecked.

In peacetime usage, the French didn't have much better luck operating Panthers postwar. Breakdowns galore.

The M26 had the worst reliability of any US tank fielded since the 1920s. It was still as good as the best the Germans put in the field.
I'm not agreeing or disagreeing, just more or less scrutinizing the metrics used for comparison.
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  #39  
Old 08 May 15, 09:43
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I kind of agree with some of the comments above. I have read many of Zaloga's materials and used to regard them more highly than I do now. I find that his conclusions are often only weakly supported and forced but he is good at ferreting lots and lots of original "factoids" which makes his stuff interesting even if it is not definitive reading.
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  #40  
Old 14 May 15, 13:10
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I read the book and liked it a lot. Lots of great information. But what I love is that he said this is HIS opinion. Feel free to disagree and you can use his information to bolster your arguments. This book was a major impetus for me to come back. One thing that perked my interest was his note on the M4A3E8s modified by the 3rd Army to replace the coax 7.62mm with a 12.7mm. That got me to thinking that IF I was a tank designer I would not have used ANY 7.62mms on the tank, but use 12.7mms exclusively.

Negatives: size (redesign for gun), less ammo, rate of fire.

Positives: exponential damage. Great for all target types except heavy armour. FEAR factor by the enemy.

I would note that the less ammo would be a wash since you would do more damage with less number of shots.

Anyways; just my .02 cents and worth 1/100,000th of what you paid for it.

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  #41  
Old 30 May 15, 23:59
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I got a copy of it and overall I think it's neat but somewhat shallow/mile wide reference with lots of tables with figures I've never seen. I guess it can be seen as "food for thought" and a for fun type of book. Nothing wow'ed me, though but I haven't read it yet.

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  #42  
Old 31 May 15, 19:23
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I'll probably regret this, but I've just ordered it.

Often, the problem with determining best is that tanks are compared to each other rather than the task at hand.

There are two main roles the tank is called on to participate in. The first is to help win a battle, and the second is then being able to exploit that local success.

Almost any tank can be useful in the first stage if employed correctly, even Italian or Japanese ones. The second stage is different. If a tank is not reliable enough, it cannot be used to exploit.

How much reliability you need is up for debate, but an almost unreliable tank in the Matilda 2 is actually okay, since after weeks of hard driving, they were employed successfully at Beda Fomm. You don't necessarily need Sherman levels of reliability, albeit it helps.

Once reliability is factored in, the list of candidates for best tank, that was in first line service for a respectable amount of time, used by choice rather than availability, and available in numbers, can be narrowed down.

Germany
Panzer III
Panzer IV

US
M3 Lee/Grant
M4 Sherman

Soviet Union
T-34
IS-2

Britain
Matilda 2
Valentine
Churchill.

Let's whittle this list down

The Valentine was an acceptable battle tank, but never shone in that role. It was as a light tank in Soviet service it really proved its potential. However, as a battle tank it cannot be said to have been a best.

The IS-2 was not around long enough.

The Panzer III was one of the very best tanks used in combat in the early part of WW2, but no match for the T-34. Its potential tenure as best ends with Barbarossa.

The Lee/Grant's dual purpose 75mm really aided the British in Africa and Burma, but it was no Sherman, which arrived only a few months after the M3's debute.

Albeit useful in the Far East, the Matilda 2 was too short lived, because it could not be upgunned.

That leaves the following:
Panzer IV
Sherman
T-34
Churchill.

The Sherman, Panzer IV and T-34 are at their best in the exploitation role.
The Churchill is best employed in the battlefield role.

Given that tanks were generally called upon to support a battle, rather than the few times a breakout, I opt for the tank that did that.

That is why I choose the Churchill as best tank of WW2. It was the tank you actually needed most of the time, and could still exploit.
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  #43  
Old 31 May 15, 21:20
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Nick, I need to spend more time with it, but what I saw was that he based his "best" on battlefield/year/era.

So, eg. 1942 East Front he says the best was Pz IV G and the desert war 1941-1943 he says the best was the Sherman.
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Old 31 May 15, 21:22
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Whereas I would say it was either the T 34 or Sherman. If they were to be primarily battlefield tanks either could be up armored (and were as the M4A3E2 and T 43) to levels equal to or better than a Churchill. Both could and did accept upgraded guns and such.
The Sherman has great flexibility in its drive train and could take a variety of engines.

Since both the US and Russians found their up armored versions of limited value it kind of argues against the battlefield role as predominate. Neither made widespread use of heavily armored medium tanks. The Jumbo was mostly relegated to separate tank battalions as a result. The T-43 never got into mass production.
Instead, the best tanks were ones that could provide good infantry support (HE firing main gun... something that came late to the Churchill, and several machineguns.), and was reliable enough to be available in quantity when needed. This is because all-too-often the only opposition a tank faced was an AT gun or field artillery.

Reliability and ease of maintenance is also a critical value for a truly successful tank. In this aspect the Sherman is far and away the winner. But, the Pz IV and T-34 are decent enough and light enough that recovery isn't a problem. The Russians, Germans, and US all provided tracked ARV for this purpose something, surprisingly, the British forewent.
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Old 31 May 15, 21:38
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Author's picks:


Top tanks of the 1930s: T-26, T-28, BT-5

<Tanker's Choice, Commander's Choice>

1939-1940 'Blitzkrieg era': Somua S35, Panzer IV

1941 Eastern Front: T-34, T-34

1942 Eastern Front: Panzer IV G, Panzer IV G

1941-1943 Desert war: Panzer IV G, Sherman

1943 Eastern Front: Tiger I, Stug III

1944 year: Panther, T-34-85

1945 year: M26 Pershing, M4A3E8
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