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Allied/British Tanks

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by GunSlinger86, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    A good read is Faint Praise by Charles Baily. Deep look at the politics behind US tank and tank destroyer development. Folks(McNair) in charge said there was no need for a 76MM or a 90MM gun on a tank.(pg94-95) "An increase in armor or gun power can have no purpose other than to engage in tank vs. tank action, which is unsound. The answer to heavy tanks is the tank destroyer." So forces got towed 57MM and towed 3" guns that supposedly had worked so well in North Africa.
    Until Arracourt in 9/44, most US tanks and tank destroyers had been mobile pillboxes fighting less mobile ones. HE rounds were probably used 5 or 6 times as often as AP. Most "tank" battles before then were German tanks in ambush of Allied tanks forced by terrain.
    scott
     
  2. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    A good read is Faint Praise by Charles Baily. Some quotes from Ike and friends, 5/44. (pg102-103) We need 3 tanks armed with 105 howitzer for every 1 tanks with 90mm gun. There has not been enough time to train troops in use of M4/76MM, so they will stay in UK. We have no use for the M36 at this time. Bradley liked towed anti-tank guns, so between 2/44 and 6/44 towed battalions increased from 3 to 11, self propelled from 16 to 19 although there were plenty of M10 and M18 to ship.
    For the "official" version, check out CMH 10-9 and 10-11 which deal with ordanance issues. Just google CMH and you can browse from there, all available as PDF and free.
    scott
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2019
  3. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Indeed it is.

    Not politics, but rather the deep divides between requirements for development and production, training and deployment, and changing operational requirements. They each had good reasons for the decisions made, but often the decisions worked against other needs.

    If you look at pp/ 92-93 you will notice that it was not just McNair and AGF taking that POV. It was also many of the potential end users. There was no united call for more heavily armed tanks or for the 90mm (and even 76mm) gun on the part of the Armored Command in CONUS or overseas until late 1944.

    The towed 57mm gun was a different issue and was not considered for tank use after the Medium Tank T7 was cancelled. In the U.S. Army it was an antitank gun as opposed to a tank destroyer gun and was intended for the infantry. It indeed did work quite well in North Africa as the 6-pounder. No towed 3" guns were used in North Africa by American forces, but the German employment of 75mm towed guns made a great impression on both the American's and British. It led to the widespread deployment of the towed British 17-pdr and American 3".

    I suspect the 899th TD Battalion at Le Desert in July and the 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 5th, 7th, and 2d FF AD in late July and August would challenge you on that assertion. :D

    Well, around two times as often. Peak ETO expenditure of 75mm APC and AP was 164,627 rounds in September 1944 compared to 288,978 HE. There were also 18,191 WP and 10,571 smoke expended.
     
  4. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Yep, which wasn't reversed until fall 1944. And it was January 1945 before all in the ETO agreed there was no more need for 75mm-armed medium tank deliveries. Curiously enough though, production of the 75mm-armed M4A3 was added on in the 1944 production plan because of "demand" from the end users in the field.

    That was the consensus of the users and was correct insofar as it goes, since the first M4A1 76mm did not arrive in the ETO until late April and by 6 June there were only some 61 in ETO depots.

    The British, with the same problem re the Sherman 17-pdr (many units received them as early as the week before D-Day, decided to go ahead and issue them despite the problem and it worked. So it probably would have worked if the US Army did the same with the 76mm. All of which only goes to show how excellent hindsight is in making correct decisions. :D

    They also had none of them at the time. The first did not arrive in the ETO IIRC until June. Similar problem with the M18. All units equipped with it arrived in April and after, so were assigned to the follow-on forces - Third Army.

    I'm not sure that Bradley ever really expressed an opinion and he had little control over the POM...those requisitions originated from ETOUSA and then were tailored by the War Department according to what was available in AGF and what doctrine said the proportions of towed versus SP battalions should be. Yes, there were quite a number of M10 available in the ETOUSA...all the SP battalions in First Army on 6 June were M10, but M10 production ended in December 1943. IIRC, all the battalions deployed in 1944 were M18 or M10 converted to M36, those in the ETOUSA with M10 were pretty much it. The M10 gets complicated because the intent was to replace them in the field with M36 as they became available and use the redundant M10 as theater Len-lease to supply newly raised French units. However, in practice the sudden demise of the towed TD doctrine meant they instead were used to convert US TD battalions from 3" towed to M10...leaving the French slightly out in the cold. :D


    Indeed, for the "official Ordnance Department" version, as I remarked before. McNair and AGF never really got to relate their version, except in manuscript form.
     
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  5. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    One thing to remember was the M4 Sherman was a medium tank, the “Cats” were heavy tanks. the US was developing heavy tanks during WW2, but did not ship them to Europe till 1945. one thing usually not brought up was shipping space. A Panther left the factory, was put on a train car, and went by rail 500 to 600 miles to the battle field. size and weight were not an issue. A tank made in USA would travel 500+ miles by rail then get put on a ship. a Sherman would occupy at least 1600 cubic feet of space. a M26 would occupy at least 3500 cubic feet of space. so do you ship 100 M4 or 50 M26?
    Another piece is the reliability of the M4 and it's standardization. You could have a M4 with shotup turret and a M4 with shotup hull and drive away 1 functional tank. As much as possible, one M4 was exactly like another. It seems each factory run of Panthers was different than the run before and needed a separate spares package, so many tanks were lost due to lack of spare parts.
    a dedicated M4 website The Sherman Tank Site | The place for all things Sherman Tank, By Jeeps_Guns_Tanks
    a new study on effectiveness of M1A1 & M1A2 76mm gun on German armor http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/1045347.pdf
    a history of independent tank battalionshttps://www.amazon.com/Steel-Victory-Americas-Independent-Battalions/dp/0891417826 first quarter of the book is about Normandy.
    The Other Side of Time by Brendan Phibbs is a memoir of the 12th Armored CCB Surgeon. good read, especially the last third which covers the breaking thru the Siegfried line to surrender.
    Ike Skelton Combined Arms Research Library (CARL) Digital Library US Army digital library lots of WW2 unit histories and related articles
    the old sailor
     
  6. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    I don't think I've ever forgotten that. :) The other thing to remember is that the categorization "light", "medium", and "heavy" originally had little to do with function, but was almost entirely about weight and bridge capacity. One of the major impediments to American heavy tank development was infighting between the Ordnance department and Corps of Engineers over the increasing size of vehicles, which meant that the Engineers were having to continually redesign its bridges (the QM Transportation Corps also had a dog in the fight). It got so bad that in 1943 the Engineers successfully lobbied the War Department to have the size restrictions codified by Army Regs...combat vehicles were to be no more than 124 inches wide and weight less than 35 tons.

    While to a degree true, the critical items that concerned the Army wasn't cubage so much as weight and length and width. The Medium Tank T26E1 was 138.3 inches wide and weighed almost 44 tons, exceeding the agreed limitations. A standard Liberty ship had a single 50-ton capacity crane accessing only its number two hold, but only a single 30-ton crane for its number four hold. In theory it could take the weight and cubage of 260 25-ton medium tanks, but far fewer 35-ton ones and only a few 44-ton ones. Worse, the standard LCT 5 and 6 could only accommodate 3 M26 rather than 4 M4 and the existing LCM could not carry the M26 at all.

    In theory, if it was a matter of interchanging the standard high or low-bustle 75mm turret. The 76mm and 105mm turrets changed things, since they really only worked with a hull with the corresponding ammunition stowage. And don't even get started on the mechanical differences between the M4, M4A1, M4A2, M4A3, M4A5, and M4A6.

    Actually, the Panther designs were considerably more common and in some ways better designed for mass production, which is ironic, since most German production was "station" rather than "mass" designed.



    While good, a better site for Sherman minutia is, well, the Sherman Minutia website. :D Sherman minutia homepage

    Sadly that study is almost complete and utter tosh. Sad really, since they had access to pretty much anything they wanted.

    Yep, Harry is an old friend. He's semi-retired now and taking lots of bird photos, but like me is still working on fun stuff too. :D

    I'll have to look it up.

    Yep, I've recommended it for years. For this subject though, the Ordnance Department files in RG 156 at NARA's Archives II are invaluable.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Do you by any chance have a feel for how much of that was indirect fire? I've heard that it happened at least occasionally in Europe and later in Korea but not at all sure how significant it was.
     
  8. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    By 1944, all the Medium Tanks M4 were equipped and trained to fire indirectly, but from reading through the battalion AAR's, Histories, and G-3 Journals it does not appear to have been all that common. Indirect fire by TD units, especially towed, was more common.
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Thanks, So at least some of that 75mm HE (and for that matter WP and smoke) would have been for indirect fire.
     
  10. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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  11. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    another item missed is numbers. The British from 1940-45 by themselves out produced the Germans 24,800 to 24,360 in tanks. The US in the same time period produced 88,410. The 88,410 includes tanks for UK, USSR, and USMC. About 20,000 M4 were produced in 1944-45.
    As far as a heavy tank, the US began producing the M6 in 1942, but instead of working to improve what was there, the "Powers" cancelled the whole project after 9/42. Ord branch then had 4 competing T20 series tanks it tried to develop. The T-26 was what was produced and a few M-26 did see action.
     
  12. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The US produced 28,888 light tanks, 55,882 medium tanks, and 2,324 heavy tanks from 1 July 1940 to 31 August 1945. A total of 3,271 M4 75mm, 10,883 M4 76mm, and 4,680 M4 105mm were produced from 1 January 1945 through 31 July 1945, so 18,834 of them.

    Sigh...no matter how much it deserves it, the Heavy Tank T1E1 project and its bastard offspring, the T1E2 (M6), the T1E3 (M6A1), and the M6A2E1 (T1E1 with the 105mm T5E1 gun) never dies. A grand total of 43, including 3 pilots, were ever produced and even that was a huge waste of time, money, and effort. It was a dog that only Gladeon Barnes could love. It was also not finally cancelled until 22 August 1944...and even then Ordnance managed to convince the War Department to use two T1E1 as test beds for the T29 Heavy Tank turret.

    Anyway, by the time the last stake was driven into the heart of the T1E1 project as an actual heavy tank, on 7 March 1944, the T20 and T22 were already done. The T23, the other love-child of Gladeon Barnes weezed on for a while as Ordnance tried to con, er, I mean convince a theater into accepting it.

    Anyway, there was no "competition" between the T20-series...they were simply test variations on a theme. T20 was a General Motors project, using a GM Torquematic transmission. The T22 was a Chrysler project, using the tried and true, if old-fashioned, five-speed manual transmission as in the Medium Tank M4, and T23 was a Chrysler project, using an electric drive by GE. Otherwise, all used essentially the same hull plan and with the same test variations of suspension and armament.

    When none of those were found acceptable in the spring of 1943, it was decided to build two further variations based upon the same hull plan, but with a 90mm gun instead of the 76mm in the T23 (by that time the 75mm was going out of favor). One with the same armor layout was designated T25 and the second with heavier armor was T26.
     
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  13. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    'Too heavy, under-gunned, poorly shaped and requiring improvements to the transmission.'
    And landing craft. Always remember landing craft...

    If it looks right, it is r... oh.

    WkE4qS0.jpg

    Always been mildly intrigued by its tracks.
    Peculiar double design that I don't recall on contemporaries. Not quite sure what the thinking behind it was?
    If I've ever read an explanation, I've certainly forgotten it now; Modularity? Weight? Casting issues? Ride?

    Annotation 2019-05-20 141038.png Capture.JPG


    Manual:
    https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/ref/TM/pdfs/TM9-721.pdf
     
  14. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    And pontoon bridges and regular bridges.
     
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  15. scott livesey

    scott livesey Member

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    On bridges, check out CMH 10-4 starting at pg 483. The US Army was still trying to develop a 'portable' bridge in 1945.
     
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  16. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    A good read. Cheers.
    Never trust an officer "experimenting with distances between tanks"...

    Though the captions did make me smile.
    Annotation 2019-05-21 201042.png

    Annotation 2019-05-21 200956.png
     
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  17. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    One great contribution of pontoon bridges was Gen. Patton's fulfillment of a promise he had made.

    He stood at the middle of one and pissing into the Rhine. Dude wasn't much for subtle.
     
  18. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    As, it is widely believed, did Churchill. Seem to recall possibly even King George the fifth.
     
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  19. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    That would have been difficult, since he died on 20 January 1936. :D You are thinking of KGVI, not KGV.
     
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