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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 25 Sep 17, 18:31
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MBT's in WW2?

Which tanks could actually have been an effective Main Battle Tank in WW2 if the doctrine had been there?

The obvious tank would be the first T-34's. The 1941 model was very well made and reliable, it had the armour to be the spearhead of any attack, and the mobility to exploit any breakthrough. It only had the L-11 gun, but this was superior to Pz IV's KwK 37 howitzer as a dual purpose weapon. Although T-34's improved during the war, this period in 41 was when the T-34 could have been a MBT.

The same is true with the Sherman at the 2nd battle of El Alamein 1942. Light years ahead of British cruisers at the time, it boasted greater armour and overall armament to the A 15 Crusader, and was fast enough and reliable to boot. Shermans actually became the W Allies baseline for reliability. In 42-3, the Sherman was certainly able to be an MBT.

What other tanks could actually have been successful MBT's in WW2?
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  #2  
Old 25 Sep 17, 18:46
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Most Medium tanks of WWII can be used, but not the Japanese mediums.

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Old 26 Sep 17, 03:25
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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
It only had the L-11 gun, but this was superior to Pz IV's KwK 37 howitzer as a dual purpose weapon.
Given a virtual absence of 76-mm armor-piercing ammo in 1941 (a tiny-tiny detail usually missed by most armor history books) the T-34's 76-mm gun was practically no more powerful than a German equivalent.
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Old 26 Sep 17, 10:50
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Originally Posted by Artyom_A View Post
Given a virtual absence of 76-mm armor-piercing ammo in 1941 (a tiny-tiny detail usually missed by most armor history books) the T-34's 76-mm gun was practically no more powerful than a German equivalent.

Irrelevant, as ammunition (un)availability is not the fault of the tank, only the fault of Stavka of the RKKA.
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Old 26 Sep 17, 16:07
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None as the only proper way to go in WWII was infantry/heavy tank + cruiser/medium tank.

Hot take: Churchills since from what I remember they did no worse than mediums during the Great Swan.
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Old 26 Sep 17, 16:28
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The Mark IV is probably the main candidate, but it didn't start out that way.
The short-75mm was intended as general support firing H.E. ... and isn't it interesting that the Sherman (and apparently the T-34) started out the same way, with the same size cannon?

And yes, the Brits pretty much blew it in the first half of the war, producing whole series of tanks that turned out to be fit only for training purposes.
However, the best candidate of all was one of their's, too. It only just barely qualifies as a WW2 tank, but let's not forget the Centurion.
https://infogalactic.com/info/Centurion_tank

IMHO, if you are looking for the one that leads the way to the post-war concept of MBT, that's the one.
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Old 26 Sep 17, 17:47
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An interesting scenario to me is adopting the Tiger I as the MBT. It's around the same size as modern MBTs.

The Tiger I would have to be modified for mass production and supporting infrastructure and equipment would have be developed for it as well.

The end result would be a Panzerwaffe with drastically fewer vehicles but have vehicles of high value; perhaps only 30-40%. It would also be unable to cross certain terrain situations and the front line would have a lot less tank coverage in the defense.
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Old 26 Sep 17, 18:30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
The Mark IV is probably the main candidate, but it didn't start out that way.
The short-75mm was intended as general support firing H.E. ... and isn't it interesting that the Sherman (and apparently the T-34) started out the same way, with the same size cannon?

And yes, the Brits pretty much blew it in the first half of the war, producing whole series of tanks that turned out to be fit only for training purposes.
However, the best candidate of all was one of their's, too. It only just barely qualifies as a WW2 tank, but let's not forget the Centurion.
https://infogalactic.com/info/Centurion_tank

IMHO, if you are looking for the one that leads the way to the post-war concept of MBT, that's the one.
While the Pz IV is on my short list as best tank of WW2, I would never consider it a MBT. By the time it got a seriously decent dual purpose gun, its armour was too thin to be considered a main tank to break into an enemy line, as the Germans knew, hence the Tiger 1's for that role.

Centurion is too little too late, and saw no combat. Despite its reliability issues, the M26 would be a better candidate for a 1945 WW2 MBT.

While I am not a huge fan of the IS-2, it was the only truly reliable heavy in WW2. Despite some very major shortcomings, it does possess some serious advantages. It had probably the best hull front armour of any tank in WW2. Its gun, while not quite in the same league as the 17pdr and 75mm KwK 42 in AP, had an extremely effective 122mm HE round, which was a huge advantage in both phases of a battle/campaign. Unlike other heavies, you could then drive it for up to 1000 miles without any real issue.

Along with the T-34 in 41, and the Sherman in 42-3, the IS-2, imho, makes the grade as a true possible MBT in 44-5.
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Old 26 Sep 17, 21:39
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Originally Posted by Cult Icon View Post
An interesting scenario to me is adopting the Tiger I as the MBT. It's around the same size as modern MBTs.
....
Yes, but that has only been the case since the 1970s & early 80s, which was when the bulk of the tank designs that we have in service today came into being.
(let that one sink in for a moment...)

The Tigers were ahead of their time, and the only heavies in their weight-class that entered combat in worthwhile numbers in that war. Altho their mobility and reliability made them battle worthy, it is really a judgement call as to how much bang for the buck they gave.

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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
While the Pz IV is on my short list as best tank of WW2, I would never consider it a MBT. By the time it got a seriously decent dual purpose gun, its armour was too thin to be considered a main tank to break into an enemy line, as the Germans knew, hence the Tiger 1's for that role.
You are thinking the 30mm side armor? I dunno, the Panther had 45mm, not much better... and the Leopard of the 1960s was no improvement on that.
A flaw, to be sure, but one the Germans have been willing to accept, for whatever reason.
.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Along with the T-34 in 41, and the Sherman in 42-3, the IS-2, imho, makes the grade as a true possible MBT in 44-5.
I thought of the IS series too, including the 1 and III.
The 85mm wasn't a bad gun at all, I don't know why they didn't stick with it. But, it faded away very quickly...

No, I think the IS-2 was too specialized. Its low cpacity for fuel and ammo and it's bad effects on its own crew made it a tank to be held in reserve for emergencies, or for quick lunges, to back-up the mediums.
And the IS-III, while magnificent, had a road range was even worse and it still had just 28 rounds for that huge gun.


And... something else I want to bounce off you guys; if the tank is too heavy for for the bridging equipment available at the Brigade level, can it really be used as an MBT?
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Old 27 Sep 17, 18:22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Which tanks could actually have been an effective Main Battle Tank in WW2 if the doctrine had been there?

The obvious tank would be the first T-34's. The 1941 model was very well made and reliable, it had the armour to be the spearhead of any attack, and the mobility to exploit any breakthrough. It only had the L-11 gun, but this was superior to Pz IV's KwK 37 howitzer as a dual purpose weapon. Although T-34's improved during the war, this period in 41 was when the T-34 could have been a MBT.
Only a two man turret though, which hinders the general fightability.
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Old 27 Sep 17, 22:31
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Only a two man turret though, which hinders the general fightability.
Hinders, yes, but enough to disqualify as an MBT?
IMHO, that didn't hurt them nearly as much as the lack of training did.

Didn't our M-3 Stuart light tanks have the same thing? I never heard that lacking a loader hurt them overly much.
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Old 28 Sep 17, 04:28
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I can't see the Centurion as qualifying in any way at all within the WW2 bracket, in the true sense of the word.
It did not enter service as such until well after after the war finished; and even the small number of pre-production/prototype examples that made it to the continent arrived too late to see any action.

Having said this, however, I think you are heading in the right direction with regard to its post-WW2 qualifications. IMHO, it was definitely a leading contender after the war.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
The Mark IV is probably the main candidate, but it didn't start out that way.
The short-75mm was intended as general support firing H.E. ... and isn't it interesting that the Sherman (and apparently the T-34) started out the same way, with the same size cannon?

And yes, the Brits pretty much blew it in the first half of the war, producing whole series of tanks that turned out to be fit only for training purposes.
However, the best candidate of all was one of their's, too. It only just barely qualifies as a WW2 tank, but let's not forget the Centurion.
https://infogalactic.com/info/Centurion_tank

IMHO, if you are looking for the one that leads the way to the post-war concept of MBT, that's the one.
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Old 28 Sep 17, 09:30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Exorcist View Post
The Mark IV is probably the main candidate, but it didn't start out that way.
The short-75mm was intended as general support firing H.E. ... and isn't it interesting that the Sherman (and apparently the T-34) started out the same way, with the same size cannon?

And yes, the Brits pretty much blew it in the first half of the war, producing whole series of tanks that turned out to be fit only for training purposes.
However, the best candidate of all was one of their's, too. It only just barely qualifies as a WW2 tank, but let's not forget the Centurion.
https://infogalactic.com/info/Centurion_tank

IMHO, if you are looking for the one that leads the way to the post-war concept of MBT, that's the one.
The Mk IV could be a candidate 39-40. With its howitzer, it did carry a dual purpose weapon, even if the AP round was fairly ineffective against French 40mm armour, which graced 1000's of French tanks at the time.

Personally, I see too main attributes as important. The tank is an offensive weapon, and will usually get shot at first. Then it needs to be able to travel well into the rear of the enemy, and that means reliability. It should be noted that from the outset, while the Centurion was built around the 17pdr, its first two important attributes were reliability and to be able to survive being shot at by 88mm's.

Despite its one man turret, the Somua S-35 could be considered a definite contender, as it was very well armoured, relative for a medium of its day, and its 47mm gun was probably the best hole puncher on any tank, and even better than the 2 pdr it had a HE round.

Possible contenders so far :

Somua S35 in 39-40.
T-34 in 41-2.
M4 in 42-3.
IS-2 in 44-5.
M26 in 45.

I can think of at least three more, but I don't want to railroad this thread into one direction only.
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Old 29 Sep 17, 08:58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cult Icon View Post
An interesting scenario to me is adopting the Tiger I as the MBT. It's around the same size as modern MBTs.

The Tiger I would have to be modified for mass production and supporting infrastructure and equipment would have be developed for it as well.

The end result would be a Panzerwaffe with drastically fewer vehicles but have vehicles of high value; perhaps only 30-40%. It would also be unable to cross certain terrain situations and the front line would have a lot less tank coverage in the defense.
would they have been able to keep up in the ''quick'' victory in 1940 France, if they had been around? they did ok in Russia?
thanks replies

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Old 29 Sep 17, 09:06
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I'd vote for the Comet as a MBT of WWII. I don't remember recalling any vices with it and it has speed, firepower and size that doesn't betray it.
A34 Comet
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