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General Barnes Makes a 'Phone Call


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The_Chieftain #1 Posted Dec 28 2013 - 01:09

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I have occasionally lamented the difficulties that future historians will have in researching the actions and decisions made in today's wars. Millions of emails are now communicated, on all sorts of topics, be it "Hey, I'll meet you at the Pizza Hut trailer at 13:00" through "HVT #3 is in the open, we should strike with Team Alpha." Searching for any particular topic is going to take forever.

 

Worse, conversations made on other media, such as the telephone or video conference are just as likely to have been lost for lack of recording. Fortunately for those of us who like digging into things back more than a couple of decades ago, correspondence would be recorded and filed. And, if you were of sufficiently lofty status, you could even have a stenographer taking a record of a telephone call.

 

Such a record can be found in the Archives. General Barnes, head of Research and Development for Ordnance Branch picked up the 'phone on 5 August 1942, and had a chat with General J. L. Devers, the head of Armored Force over in Fort Knox.

 

 

The development of more powerful tanks seems to have been something of an important point as far as Ordnance are concerned, as there seems to be a fair bit in the record devoted to the 76mm and 90mm vehicles. I'll be returning to these from time to time. In the meantime, the following is an indicator of the desire of both Armored Force and Ordnance for a more powerful tank cannon. Please bear in mind what these gentlemen knew at the time: 75mm guns were doing quite well, and the first Tiger had not yet been encountered.

 

GEN. BARNES: The new 76 mm. gun. The objective that we're after is to be able to give you, in the same space, a gun of 2600 ft .s. muzzle velocity, same power, exterior ballistics as the 3" high power gun. We use the 3" bore for the gun in order to use the 3" projectile which is under manufacture. We have to assemble a new cartridge case in it in order to get the power, so we call the gun a 76 mm so it won't be contused with the 75 or 3". Now, that gun will penetrate 3" of armor at 3,000 yds. and give you all the fire power we feel you'll probably need. And we can put it in the M4 tank without a single change in the tank except in your ammunition racks. While we're making the guns we can, of course, change the face plate on the tank and push the gun about 6" further out into the atmosphere and make a better arrangement inside the turret, because with this long gun we have to add some weight to the gun guard (recoil guard) in order to bring it into balance for the gun stabilizer. Of course we are all crazy about the thing down here because it puts you so far ahead of everybody else in fire power, and so what we want to do is to go ahead with the initial order of 1,000 guns, of which we will be able to get two or three hundred of in a month and a half and as a starter, while you people are making up your mind how many in the long run you'll want of these, and how many of the short guns.

 

GEN DEVERS: How much longer is this than the 75? It isn't as long as the present 3" is it?

 

B: Yes, it's a little longer than the 3". It's 52 calibers long. The old 3", I mean the old 75, is 35 calibers or 32, I've forgotten which.

 

D: Well,. what is the 3" A.A.? How many calibers long?

 

B: That's about 50.

 

D: In other words, this is 2" longer than that.

 

B: 2 calibers - 6" longer.

 

D: I think that's fine. The only thing that worries me a little bit now is that this isn't going to throw us off on our present set-up so we can get to fighting. I'm anxious to get M-4 tanks with anything in them so we can go to fighting.

 

B: It won't have any effect on that at all. We'll keep it off to one side. We won't allow it to interfere in any way either with this program or with the 3" guns on the self-propelled mounts. What it'll do is to put you out several years ahead of anybody else on fire power

 

D: That's what we're after and it's along the proper lines. It won't complicate the ammunition supply now, will it?

 

B: Well, to this extent: You're going to have to have a round of ammunition called a 76 mm. as far as you're concerned. And that's different from the 75 or the 3".

 

D: What does this projectile weigh?

 

B: It's the 3" projectile.

 

D: The only difference is the cartridge case?

 

B: That's right

 

D: The 75 weighs 14.4. What does that 3" weigh?

 

B: About 15 lbs

 

D: There's not much difference, is there?

 

B: No. I would have considered using the 75, but we'd have to redesign the projectile because the rotating band wouldn't take that velocity. So we had to go to 3" in order to give you that velocity, and of course we have a nice stock of 3" on hand and are making them all the time.

 

D: Well, how many rounds are we going to be able to carry in a tank? Will it complicate that?

 

B: Well, it will reduce the number that you can carry, I don't know how much, because we haven't had time to study that out yet. Now, I thought either you, or you'd want to send someone up to Aberdeen to see the job. In order to save time we want to go ahead, with your permission, on 1,000 because of course we can stop that at any time. But time is of the essence here, as you know as well as I do, so I think we ought to start it and then work out the details later.

 

D: Well, all right then. This won't slow up anything we're doing?

 

B: That's right.

 

D: It's advance. It's looking six to eight months ahead.

 

B: That's right.

 

D: Well, I see no reason you shouldn't do it. I'll send someone up to Aberdeen right away.

 

B: All right, thanks very much

 

And so the M4 76mm project continued, with the US Army trying to maintain a notable fire superiority gap over everyone else who was using, as far as they knew, 6pr (Britain), 75mm/43 (Germany) 47mm (Italy) or 76mm/42 (USSR) on their tanks.

 

We shall return to this in the future, but if you want to refresh your memory, subsequent events can be found at http://worldoftanks....-end_of_75_M4/.



Xlucine #2 Posted Dec 28 2013 - 02:27

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BOB lives again!

Cave__Johnson #3 Posted Dec 28 2013 - 18:07

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It sounded like a good idea at the time...

 

Then again a lot of what if types say if the Germans spammed out Hundreds of E-25's with the 75 instead of focusing on larger programs like the KT and Ferdi they might have won the war...



MSU_Matt #4 Posted Dec 28 2013 - 18:10

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Interesting.

 

"Of course we are all crazy about the thing down here because it puts you so far ahead of everybody else in fire power" LOL! Did we not have ANY intelligence on, or even a safe assumption of, the possible (likely) plans of our adversaries up-gunning as well? Furthermore, planning for 6-8 months out seems rather short-sighted. But, I'm not a military planner, and I digress...

 

Thank you for the interesting read Chieftain!! 

 



1SLUGGO1 #5 Posted Dec 28 2013 - 18:16

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View PostCave__Johnson, on Dec 28 2013 - 17:07, said:

It sounded like a good idea at the time...

 

Then again a lot of what if types say if the Germans spammed out Hundreds of E-25's with the 75 instead of focusing on larger programs like the KT and Ferdi they might have won the war...

 

Doubtful, the axis skilled manpower was pretty much exhausted, not to mention overwhelmed by sheer numbers, towards the end of the war.  They could have produced a million panthers but had no one to drive them.

 

At any rate, I'm assuming this article is referring to both the eventual M1A1/2 guns that we have in the game now for the early/mid tier US tanks.



the_moidart #6 Posted Dec 28 2013 - 20:26

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"all the fire power we feel you'll probably need"

 

So they didn't foresee the extent of the gun/armor race?



ratedman17 #7 Posted Dec 28 2013 - 20:30

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View PostCave__Johnson, on Dec 28 2013 - 12:07, said:

It sounded like a good idea at the time...

 

Then again a lot of what if types say if the Germans spammed out Hundreds of E-25's with the 75 instead of focusing on larger programs like the KT and Ferdi they might have won the war...

 

See, thats a common misconception of World War II, we didnt win the War due to firepower. We won the war due to out producing the Axis. For every tank we lost, 4 took its place. For every plane shot down, 2 rolled off the assembly line to replace it. In the time the Germans took to build one Tiger tank, we already had 6 Shermans rolling off the line. We had advanced manufacturing over the Germans. They just couldnt keep up.



The_Chieftain #8 Posted Dec 28 2013 - 21:39

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View Postratedman17, on Dec 28 2013 - 19:30, said:

 

See, thats a common misconception of World War II, we didnt win the War due to firepower. We won the war due to out producing the Axis. For every tank we lost, 4 took its place. For every plane shot down, 2 rolled off the assembly line to replace it. In the time the Germans took to build one Tiger tank, we already had 6 Shermans rolling off the line. We had advanced manufacturing over the Germans. They just couldnt keep up.

 

I would rather disagree with that. The firepower given to the US by developments such as the M1 rifle and the VT fused artillery shell were unmatched by any other force and, face it, they had a lot more to do with winning the war than Shermans did. Not that Shermans were in any way an example of weak firepower when they were first produced either.



Redwing6 #9 Posted Dec 28 2013 - 22:59

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View Postratedman17, on Dec 28 2013 - 19:30, said:

 

See, thats a common misconception of World War II, we didnt win the War due to firepower. We won the war due to out producing the Axis. For every tank we lost, 4 took its place. For every plane shot down, 2 rolled off the assembly line to replace it. In the time the Germans took to build one Tiger tank, we already had 6 Shermans rolling off the line. We had advanced manufacturing over the Germans. They just couldnt keep up.

 

View PostThe_Chieftain, on Dec 28 2013 - 20:39, said:

 

I would rather disagree with that. The firepower given to the US by developments such as the M1 rifle and the VT fused artillery shell were unmatched by any other force and, face it, they had a lot more to do with winning the war than Shermans did. Not that Shermans were in any way an example of weak firepower when they were first produced either.


I believe that you're both right.  In some aspects, our tank  forces were woefully ill prepared (there was no follow on tank to the M4 to appear until 1946) for advances in amoured warfare.  On the other hand, the US did in fact produce some game changing weapons (M1 rifle, VT arty shells)...and while the M4 was essentially obsolete by 1944, we had so damn many of them, the Germans couldn't kill them all...



Mack54 #10 Posted Dec 28 2013 - 23:00

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Of course I was not around back then....But I have worked for Uncle Sam both in and out of uniform in my life....And I swear, I've heard very similar conversations between "bosses"....And ended up wondering if I could get drunk enough to understand them....Most were along the line of: "It's an apple but with a little work it'll be just as good as an orange. Only better. Sorta..."

zloykrolik #11 Posted Dec 29 2013 - 03:50

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View PostRedwing6, on Dec 28 2013 - 13:59, said:

 


I believe that you're both right.  In some aspects, our tank  forces were woefully ill prepared (there was no follow on tank to the M4 to appear until 1946) for advances in amoured warfare.  On the other hand, the US did in fact produce some game changing weapons (M1 rifle, VT arty shells)...and while the M4 was essentially obsolete by 1944, we had so damn many of them, the Germans couldn't kill them all...

Furthermore, the Germans kept producing PzKw IVs up through 1945. The Sherman wasn't that over matched by them with the 75 and the 76 had the pen to defeat the PzKw Iv at normal combat ranges. Not all the German tanks were Panthers or Tigers.

 

Isn't there an article around here somewhere with the combat losses of Shermans cross indexed by type of weapon? IIRC most losses were from mines or AT guns, not from tanks.



Priory_of_Sion #12 Posted Dec 29 2013 - 04:30

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View Postzloykrolik, on Dec 28 2013 - 21:50, said:

Furthermore, the Germans kept producing PzKw IVs up through 1945. The Sherman wasn't that over matched by them with the 75 and the 76 had the pen to defeat the PzKw Iv at normal combat ranges. Not all the German tanks were Panthers or Tigers.

 

Isn't there an article around here somewhere with the combat losses of Shermans cross indexed by type of weapon? IIRC most losses were from mines or AT guns, not from tanks.

~4,295 American M4s lost in ETO. Likely >15% destroyed by tanks. 

 I wrote an article on stuff like this. 


Edited by Priory_of_Sion, Dec 29 2013 - 04:33.


NutrientibusMeaGallus #13 Posted Dec 29 2013 - 05:18

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View Postthe_moidart, on Dec 28 2013 - 14:26, said:

"all the fire power we feel you'll probably need"

 

So they didn't foresee the extent of the gun/armor race?

 

Looking at what was said the focus seemed to be on them already producing that shell in quantity for the 75, and re-designing an already existing gun to make a 75 a 76 being faster then designing an entirely new gun. It reads like you could substitute the military with (for example) the new IPhone.. Well we put in a larger battery and made the case more streamlined and we're going to call it the next version number, when it's really the same old phone with minor tweaks... 



Massdeth #14 Posted Dec 29 2013 - 12:37

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View PostMSU_Matt, on Dec 28 2013 - 12:10, said:

Interesting.

 

"Of course we are all crazy about the thing down here because it puts you so far ahead of everybody else in fire power" LOL! Did we not have ANY intelligence on, or even a safe assumption of, the possible (likely) plans of our adversaries up-gunning as well? Furthermore, planning for 6-8 months out seems rather short-sighted. But, I'm not a military planner, and I digress...

 

Thank you for the interesting read Chieftain!! 

 


Woooaahhh there cowboy.....6-8 months is a LONG time when you have people lobbing tank shells at ya!!! :P



Warthog167 #15 Posted Dec 29 2013 - 15:29

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Thanks for the great thread, Chieftain.  I enjoyed reading it!

Kirkthemadman #16 Posted Dec 29 2013 - 19:36

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Dec 27 2013 - 19:09, said

And so the M4 76mm project continued, with the US Army trying to maintain a notable fire superiority gap over everyone else who was using, as far as they knew, 6pr (Britain), 75mm/43 (Germany) 47mm (Italy) or 76mm/42 (USSR) on their tanks.

 

If that's what we thought in 1942, America really needed a better intelligence agency. Or is this just medium tank armament? If its not this is a bit pathetic. I'm pretty sure that the Americans would have at least heard of the Brits good old 17-pounder. The German Pak/Kwk 40 guns were superior to American 75mm and even 76mm guns, but were excessively rare. I'm not even sure any were sent to the western front from their first few dozen guns. The Italians... well they have me there... except maybe those Semovente 90/53 guns, but there were only 30 in service. Ironic as it is, in 1942, the American M1A1 76mm gun is superior to the Soviet Zis-3 76mm gun. Oh the irony considering that 2 years later, Soviet 122mm shells would be striking fear into the hearts of German tankers.

 

EDIT:Oops I never noticed the "on their tanks" part. Uhh nvm.


Edited by Kirkthemadman, Dec 29 2013 - 19:38.


TwinTurboTank #17 Posted Dec 29 2013 - 22:03

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Very neat convo!  Thank you for finding these things Chieftain!

bozman86 #18 Posted Dec 30 2013 - 13:33

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It is almost criminal still sending men into combat in "44" with the same old M4 with that puny old "75" and thin armor, no one can tell me that with our industrial might we couldn't have developed a heavy with a 90mm by "43" and kept the sherman production numbers at exactly the same rate. Or at the very least developing an armor modification kit to be installed in the field for the M4. Our boys had to make due by putting roadwheels, logs, sandbags, truck doors and whatever was lying around on their front plate, to give them a chance at taking on any German tank. SFC. (retired) Bosse, 103rd Field Artillery, Rhode Island. "Play the Game"

Xlucine #19 Posted Dec 30 2013 - 15:06

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The US did develop a heavy with the 90mm in early '43, the problem is it sucked. The armour was really no better than the M4's (with greater slope on the M4 making up for lesser LoS), the crew positions were so terrible a whole redesign of the tank was needed before it could see service, and to top it off the guys on the sharp end didn't want it. To quote General Devers, commanding general of the armoured force: "Due to its tremendous weight and limited tactical use, there is no requirement in the Armoured Force for the heavy tank". The 75mm M3 was better even than the 76mm against the vast majority of targets in europe, and perfectly adequate even against panthers as the battle of arracourt demonstrated (where a numerically inferior force of 75mm armed shermans with inexperienced crews and no air support whooped the ass of panthers lead by veterans from the eastern front)

 

Also, who would make the heavy tank if all the plants that manufactured shermans were still tooled up for sherman production?



baptank #20 Posted Dec 30 2013 - 16:01

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Here is a book I got from the library that puts another perspective on how the war was won. If you like history you will like this.

I have to give credit to " Mingles with Jingles" for telling me about this.

"Death Traps"

by Belton Y. Cooper






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