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M3 Grant / Sherman Were Not That Bad!

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by ww24interest, Jan 1, 2016.

  1. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Re 1. The idea for the AVRE was by the Canadian REs but readily adopted and supported by British military institutions and fitted in well with the domestically developed family of obstacle clearing funnies.

    Re 2. I am not an expert on American artillery development but I think the 76mm M1 was developed from the M5 which I think was hampered by problems with APHE fuses and not helped by what I think was a lack of customer interest.
     
  2. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Rich, we'll just to have agree to disagree on McNair. McNair comes up again and again in General Officer biographies as a rock in the road. Of course, all those gentleman with stars were egotists and tend to think they won the war all by themselves, or if "they'd listened me we'd have the won the war by Christmas" so they tend to cut at each other rather ruthlessly, but McNair comes in for special criticism from just about everybody.
     
  3. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Re 1: It was a Canadian RE, not the Canadian RE. Lieutenant John James Denovan, RCE.

    Re 2: Sorry, but no. The 76mm M1 Gun was derived from the 3" M7 Tank Gun, which in turn was derived from the 3" M3 AAA Gun, which was also the antecedent of the 3" M5 Antitank (Tank Destroyer) Gun. The problem with fuze sensitivity and the APCBC projectile was separate and plagued all American (and many others) AP HE rounds.
     
  4. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    KB,

    A major part of the problem so many - I think including you - have in understanding what went os is that McNair died during the war, so unlike certain other general officers (Omar I AM looking at you) he did not have the opportunity to write a self-serving autobiography, which carefully massaged the events. Worse, it was left to Ordnance to publish its version of the events first, and then after the reorganization of the Army in 1948 AGF became FORSCOM and everybody lost interest in writing a history of a wartime entity, so its history only exists in obscure monographs.

    Please look at the actual evidence, instead of the hagiography. Most of what McNair is accused of quite simply never happened. Most of the "power" he had simply didn't exist. AGF had a specific purpose, but once the units it created began to go overseas, its power rapidly vanished, which is why McNair was in France to be killed by American bombs in the first place. He was too senior, then by the time he fully recovered from his Tunisian wound on mid-late 1943 he essentially no longer had much of a job left at AGF, which was rapidly "down-sizing".

    Trust me. Find a copy of Mike Baily's Faint Praise (at a library unless you can afford rare books). Next to Dick Hunnicutt's histories it is the best history of what really happened outside of digging into the archives yourself. Or you could wait for the publication of For Purpose of Service Test...I should take about another five years to finish it.
     
  5. Buten42

    Buten42 Member

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  6. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    I've got "Death Traps" on my shelf. It is not and should never be considered a valid historical/technical reference of the Sherman tank. Nor a history on the actions of Patton.

    It is an account of the recollections of a man 60 years after the fact. It was engrossing and full of anecdotes but was not a researched factual record.

    Here's 2 threads where the book was discussed.
    http://www.ww2f.com/topic/15948-sherman-deathtrap/?hl=%20belton%20%20cooper

    http://www.ww2f.com/topic/55992-myths-of-american-armor-with-nicholas-moran/page-3#entry620926
     
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  7. Buten42

    Buten42 Member

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    Thanks for the links, good to get a better perspective.
     
  8. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    I commiserate, the quote thingies is a PITA.

    Okay, so a couple of things. I met Belton and know his book very well. He was an Army Ordnance Maintenance officer for about three years in the 3d AD, rising from lieutenant to captain and saw a lot of very bad shit. All that being said, he left the Army after the war, became a marine engineer and showed no further interest in tanks until 1998 when he published his memoir. He used NO SOURCES other than his memory and a few letters he wrote home and wrote a book about his experience 53 years later.

    The Heavy Tank T26 had EXACTLY the same engine as the Medium Tank M4A3, the Ford GAA, which was given a new designation for installation in the T26.
    "Christy" suspension was NOT A TORSION BAR. It was a helical-sprung bell crank designed by John Walter CHRISTIE. The T26 used an actual torsion bar system, designed by Gladeon Barnes, a U.S. Army Ordnance officer. Christie had ZERO influence on American tank design after 1933.

    Maurice Rose never said doodly squat about the T26, he was KIA before he was able to say much about anything, just like Lesley McNair, so people attribute all sorts of crap to them because they aren't alive to say jack.

    General Patton was not "the highest ranking armored commander". That was Jacob Loucks Devers, who was the second commander of the Armored Force before being shifted to CG ETOUSA. Patton LEFT the Armored Force, a Stateside training command, 20 July 1942 as a junior major general commanding II Armored Corps to take command of the Western Task Force for TORCH and NEVER returned to the Armored Force. Once he LEFT that chain of command he had ZERO influence in that chain of command.

    There is nothing in US Armored doctrine of the period that says "tanks do not fight tanks". It sensibly advises it is better for armor to fight weaker targets, but it always recognized that tanks would sometimes be in the position where they had to fight tanks.

    Patton had ZERO input to SHAEF's requests regarding armor, especially when he was trying to recover his career from the "slapping incidents". It was Devers and then Eisenhower, the CG's of ETOUSA who made the requests TO GET THE T26.

    It was NOT McNair's fault. It was NOT Patton's fault. It was NOT Dever's faut. It was NOT Ike's fault. It was the way timing worked, pure and simple.

    However, just as I said to KB, if you have SOME evidence. ANY evidence. Other than Cooper's UNSUPPORTED memoir, then I would be HAPPY to hear of it.

    Please do not take offense at my reply or consider it as harsh by the way, it is just I have been researching this topic for the better part of 16 years and am thoroughly tired of repeating myself.
     
  9. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    It's frequently stated that combat veterans from the few US armored divisions that fought in North Africa were not enthusiastic for about the 76mm gun in its original configuration, because it had a dreadfully big muzzle blast, and did not appear necessary since Panzer III and IV encountered previously were easily handled with the 75mm.

    The rank and file of the 4th US AD that fought in Normandy and France continued to resist 76mm, to the point that Creighton Abrams had to set a personal example by having a M4(76) as his personal mount, as did his company commanders.
     
  10. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Thanks for clarifying that - and other points above! I'm not really an "armor guy," my interest is more in the poor infantry grunts slogging their way through the war. It's just that when you read any good work on the war, you can't help but read about the constant collisions and friction between the field officers and McNair. Of course, McNair died so he didn't get to write his own biography about how he won the war all by himself. Still, when you read such a united stance against McNair by just about everyone, it's hard to doubt that he was the wrong man in the wrong job.
     
  11. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Indeed. Ordnance resisted the muzzle brake as a "German" invention not needed on an American gun. They also refused to consider any propellant formulations intended to reduce flash or smoke, because the chemical additives might reduce the barrel life. The result was when displayed at demonstration shoots the universal comments of the Armor officers present was the flash and blast was so great it made sensing the round almost impossible. There was even talk of having the TC DISMOUNT so he could move far enough away to sense the fall of shot!

    Finally it was decided to go ahead with a muzzle brake - but few tanks so equipped ever got to the ETO. The flash problem was solved by the "full length" igniter in the cartridge, which ensured a more even propellant ignition.It started to arrive in October 1944.

    Tankers also disliked the less powerful HE round in the 76mm, but more importantly its higher Mv meant they could not utilize grazing fire against protected targets, which further reduced the capability of the HE round.
     
  12. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    You are welcome, but the thing is the "united stance" pretty much turns out to be Ordnance and Gladeon Barnes trying to cover their tracks over their obstructionism. Barnes was enamored of the electric drive system and over and over again tried to foist it on McNair, who recognized it would increase his overhead for maintenance personnel beyond what American manpower could sustain...especially with Brehon Somervell of ASF and Hap Arnold of AAF taking the lion's share and the best personnel available. Nor did the Armored Force want the complexity or added weight. But Barnes was so stubborn that even after the T23 was rejected, he insisted on getting the T25 and T26 pilots built with electric drive afterwards, after everyone had declared they didn't want it! I suspect Barnes was an expert kiss ass when it came to Somervell's authorization.It was useless crap like that which gummed things up, not some mythical intervention by McNair. Most of why field forces disliked McNair was because of his insistence on paring away useless personnel in AGF units...to the point of mania. They all thought he was just tweaking TO&E's for no reason, but he dealt with a manpower crisis almost every month of his service from March 1942 to spring 1944 when he went to the ETO. But all the units in the field could see was all their "basic privates" who were supposed to do the grunt work of KP and so forth had been eliminated because McNair wanted to "trim the fat".

    So yes, we do read nonsense about who "won the war" like Bradley's self-serving Soldier's Story and later ghost-written memoir. Many likely don't even realize when they read Ike's famous "You mean our 76 won't knock these Panthers out?... Ordnance told me this 76 would take care of anything the Germans had. Now I find you can't knock out a damn thing with it." it isn't really Ike speaking - its Bradley paraphrasing Ike's cable to Marshall, which actually read "[SIZE=10pt]My dear General [Marshall]: I have just returned from a visit to the First Army where I found them deeply concerned over the inability of our present tank guns and anti-tank weapons to cope successfully with the German Panther and Tiger Tanks." (Eisenhower to Marshall 5 July 1944) There is actually no evidence, other than Bradley's memoir, that Eisenhower ever expressed himself that way. He may have, since he never objected to Bradley's memoirs directly, but then he was happy to let Bradley become the point man for Army postwar hagiography.[/SIZE]
     
  13. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The worst (most self-serving) WWII memoir I've read is by Gavin, but all those guys had huge egos and twisted the facts to their advantage. The only honest General Officer memoir I've ever read is by W. T. Sherman. Different war, but there was a guy who spoke plainly about his mistakes and victories, usually atributing those victories to the enemies mistakes rather than his own foresight. Sometimes admitting victories were due to his own mistakes - no plan survives first contact with the enemy, kind of thing. No apologies, no strutting, no bullshit. just modern war as he saw it, and he really was the first modern general in many ways. A great read if you have any interest in the Civil War.
     

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