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M4 Sherman "The Right Tank for the Wrong War"

M4 Sherman

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Da_Craw #21 Posted Sep 12 2017 - 17:34

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View Postmattwong, on Sep 12 2017 - 08:56, said:

 

There was no German quality advantage.  If we were talking about a pickup truck, and the choice was between a smaller one that was highly reliable and a bigger one that breaks down so often that it literally spends 8 months out of the year in the shop, there is no way on Earth you would call the bigger one "quality".

 

It depends on what you need the truck to do.  If the job requires a larger truck, even a lot of downtime is a reasonable tradeoff for being able to do the job.  The F-22 has insane maintenance requirements to keep it fighting.  The F-16 costs a relative pittance per hour of uptime.  Nobody argues that the F-22 isn't a quality fighter.  That said, the real argument is whether the unreliable Tiger could actually do anything the other tanks couldn't. 

GeorgePreddy #22 Posted Sep 12 2017 - 18:27

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I know very little about film making and even less about real tanks.

 

However, I could easily make a disparaging "mockumentary" about any of the main tanks built by any of the countries involved in WWII.

 

Using one guy's terrible memories and some sensationalist footage and... voila, I could make any tank look like a hopeless mistake.

 



BillT #23 Posted Sep 12 2017 - 18:29

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Sep 11 2017 - 12:53, said:

So what is the right war for an M4?

 

It would have been awesome in the Spanish Civil War. :-)

 

Seriously though, I'm with you on this: the Sherman was actually a pretty good tank, arguably even the best tank of WWII.  The Sherman still did good service five years later in Korea -- where it was killing T-34/85s.  The problem is that the characteristics that made it a war-winner did not endear it to its crews.  Features like "economical", "easy to repair" and "reliable on long marches" aren't as useful to the crew as "big gun" and "thick armor". Even if the former are the features that win the war and minimize casualties, it's no consolation to the soldiers who just saw their buddies killed in their Sherman by a Tiger they couldn't hurt.


If I had to serve in a WWII tank it would probably be a Tiger(*).  But the US Army was correct to buy Shermans. 

 

(Cheating a bit, preferable a Sturmtiger, since AFAIK none of them were knocked out in combat, thus their crews probably all survived.)



Kenshin2kx #24 Posted Sep 12 2017 - 19:01

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Sep 11 2017 - 07:53, said:

So what is the right war for an M4?

 

The American Civil War!   :D

 

I think the big problem with many of these modern views is that it based upon the mindset of someone who is living in this generational time frame ... it is VERY easy and tempting to forget or gloss over the realities of the given period that llead up to the design and creation of the M3/M4.  



Kenshin2kx #25 Posted Sep 12 2017 - 19:19

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View PostBillT, on Sep 12 2017 - 07:29, said:

 

It would have been awesome in the Spanish Civil War. :-)

 

Seriously though, I'm with you on this: the Sherman was actually a pretty good tank, arguably even the best tank of WWII.  The Sherman still did good service five years later in Korea -- where it was killing T-34/85s.  The problem is that the characteristics that made it a war-winner did not endear it to its crews.  Features like "economical", "easy to repair" and "reliable on long marches" aren't as useful to the crew as "big gun" and "thick armor". Even if the former are the features that win the war and minimize casualties, it's no consolation to the soldiers who just saw their buddies killed in their Sherman by a Tiger they couldn't hurt.


If I had to serve in a WWII tank it would probably be a Tiger(*).  But the US Army was correct to buy Shermans. 

 

(Cheating a bit, preferable a Sturmtiger, since AFAIK none of them were knocked out in combat, thus their crews probably all survived.)

 

If I had my druthers,  I would have done like the Germans and would have obtained a Russian T34 as early as possible (regardless of the cost) and ... dissect/reverse engineer it for an american design.   As for possible powerplant ... Allison V-1710 ... 



BillT #26 Posted Sep 12 2017 - 20:39

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View PostKenshin2kx, on Sep 12 2017 - 13:19, said:

 

If I had my druthers,  I would have done like the Germans and would have obtained a Russian T34 as early as possible (regardless of the cost) and ... dissect/reverse engineer it for an american design.   As for possible powerplant ... Allison V-1710 ... 

 

The biggest mistake in the history of the US Armored Force, IMO, was failing to get along with J. Walter Christie.   If we'd bought into his designs a decade before the war, we could have been the nation outfitted with tanks like the T-34 in 1940.  Instead we let him sell his design to Russia, who turned it into the BT series, and then the T-34.

 

What you propose would have been the next best thing, but there may be some issues.  Primarily, the T-34 was small and cramped, and America wanted tanks that were roomy enough for ergonomic operations and didn't require height limits on crewmen.  See Chieftain's video about the T-34 and its ergonomics and bail-out-ability.  And of course the T-34/76 only had a 2-man turret, which wasn't corrected until the T-34/85 in 1944.  So if I imagine the US Army hitting Normandy with either M4 Shermans or T-34/76s (no doubt with the same 75mm as the Sherman), I'm not convinced the T-34 would have been better.  That third man in the turret is a big improvement.  Remember, 90% of the time those tanks were shooting at infantry, not enemy tanks.  Going to a two man turret would have made the tanks less effective in that role, too.

 

Presumably building a T-34 with a US-made engine and transmission would have improved the reliability and serviceability to match the Sherman's.   I doubt we could have improved its track life to match the Sherman's, though. 

 

Even if we accepted that, finding an engine that would fit would have been tough.   The T-34's aluminum-block V-12 Diesel was just a great tank engine, apart from reliability.  Remember that in the US we were building Shermans with whatever engines we could lay hands on: aircraft radials, twin inline Diesels, V-8 gasoline engines, five-bank six-cylinder engines... but not that fine Alison engine you mention.  That tells me there was a problem with the Alison; most likely, it was reserved exclusively for aviation use because we couldn't make enough of them to install in our medium tanks, even if they fit.   And those bulky engines we did use on the Sherman would almost certainly not have fit in the T-34's engine compartment.

 

I don't know why US industry couldn't manage to gear up to produce a single engine (probably the Ford GAA V-8) in sufficient quantity for all our Shermans.  Building more engine factories doesn't seem like something that should have been that hard to do.   But whatever the reason was, it probably would have prevented us from building 50,000 Alisons or 50,000 copies of the T-34's Kharkiv V-2-34. The Sherman's bulky engine compartment, perhaps its biggest combat flaw, may have been its most vital feature for winning the war.



Kenshin2kx #27 Posted Sep 12 2017 - 21:39

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View PostBillT, on Sep 12 2017 - 09:39, said:

 

The biggest mistake in the history of the US Armored Force, IMO, was failing to get along with J. Walter Christie.   If we'd bought into his designs a decade before the war, we could have been the nation outfitted with tanks like the T-34 in 1940.  Instead we let him sell his design to Russia, who turned it into the BT series, and then the T-34.

 

What you propose would have been the next best thing, but there may be some issues.  Primarily, the T-34 was small and cramped, and America wanted tanks that were roomy enough for ergonomic operations and didn't require height limits on crewmen.  See Chieftain's video about the T-34 and its ergonomics and bail-out-ability.  And of course the T-34/76 only had a 2-man turret, which wasn't corrected until the T-34/85 in 1944.  So if I imagine the US Army hitting Normandy with either M4 Shermans or T-34/76s (no doubt with the same 75mm as the Sherman), I'm not convinced the T-34 would have been better.  That third man in the turret is a big improvement.  Remember, 90% of the time those tanks were shooting at infantry, not enemy tanks.  Going to a two man turret would have made the tanks less effective in that role, too.

 

Presumably building a T-34 with a US-made engine and transmission would have improved the reliability and serviceability to match the Sherman's.   I doubt we could have improved its track life to match the Sherman's, though. 

 

Even if we accepted that, finding an engine that would fit would have been tough.   The T-34's aluminum-block V-12 Diesel was just a great tank engine, apart from reliability.  Remember that in the US we were building Shermans with whatever engines we could lay hands on: aircraft radials, twin inline Diesels, V-8 gasoline engines, five-bank six-cylinder engines... but not that fine Alison engine you mention.  That tells me there was a problem with the Alison; most likely, it was reserved exclusively for aviation use because we couldn't make enough of them to install in our medium tanks, even if they fit.   And those bulky engines we did use on the Sherman would almost certainly not have fit in the T-34's engine compartment.

 

I don't know why US industry couldn't manage to gear up to produce a single engine (probably the Ford GAA V-8) in sufficient quantity for all our Shermans.  Building more engine factories doesn't seem like something that should have been that hard to do.   But whatever the reason was, it probably would have prevented us from building 50,000 Alisons or 50,000 copies of the T-34's Kharkiv V-2-34. The Sherman's bulky engine compartment, perhaps its biggest combat flaw, may have been its most vital feature for winning the war.

 

Yes!  I totally agree <slaps forehead>  Jokes about Sherman in Civil War, but ignores the fact that Christie was one of ours AND offered the basis for the BT/T 34 tanks to us first  ... sigh, yes, WE should have had a design that utilized Christies genius .... As for the Allison engine, it has been treated somewhat unfairly ... much of this likely due to the short sighted decision to promote an exhaust turbocharger as opposed to the simpler mechanical super charger to compensate for higher altitudes.  Thus the Allison, lost popular favor to the Merlin.  It was closer to reality to say though that both engines (when identically equipped with super chargers) offered very comparable performance ... in fact, the Allison had certain advantages ... not the least being that the engine was mechanically more robust due to a simpler overall design (IIRC the Allison had something like 50% LESS moving parts) ... and the engine was notably more amenable to mass production.   In short, the Allison engine was a missed opportunity by America ... note that the engine was designed in 1929 with initial production in the very early 30's ... we had time ...  in both cases - Allison and Christie, we did it to ourselves ... and the horse just did not drink.

 

"In service the Allison proved to be very reliable and ultimately powered 60% of all US Army Air Corps fighters.  Many different versions of the basic motor were built with the ultimate being the V1710-143 rated at ~2,300 bhp.  Interestingly, by using mass production techniques the Allison used ~50 % less parts than the British equivalent Rolls Royce Merlin which was more hand finished."

 

"Since the V1710 was the only V12 liquid cooled engine in the United States, comparison with the Rolls Royce Merlin is inevitable, and the general consensus has not been kind to the Allison.  This is somewhat unfair, since the V1710 was a simpler, more robust design.  It could easily be modified for example, to run the crankshaft in the opposite direction, unlike the Merlin.  It is common knowledge that the Allison was also limited to combat below 15,000 ft owing to its single stage supercharger and that the P-51 was “rescued” by the fitting of the Merlin to replace the Allison.  Once again, this comparison is a little unfair since it was the Army Air Corps that insisted on the single stage supercharger, relying instead on a turbocharger if high altitude performance was needed.  Unfortunately, metals needed for a turbocharger were in short supply during the conflict and so the decision to reject the supercharger solution was shown to have been the wrong one.  When fitted with a turbocharger though, the engine performed magnificently in the high altitude role, as shown by its fitment to the P-38 lightning."

 

https://hars.org.au/...on-aero-engine/

 

 


Edited by Kenshin2kx, Sep 12 2017 - 21:44.


YANKEE137 #28 Posted Sep 12 2017 - 21:44

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The Sherman was able to be continually upgraded during it's service as well. There were something like 300 M4/76mm Shermans on hand in England prior to D-Day but the US armored divisions didn't want them. They wanted to stick with the proven 75mm HE round of the M4. The 76mm high velocity HE only had about half the blast of the 75 because the sides had to be thicker so as not to break apart at the higher velocity. The US Army expected that the Panzer IV would be their opponent in France and that their TD's could handle them.

By the Korean era, the Shermans there were all Easy 8s and more than a match for the T-34.  Shermans fought well in various upgraded versions into the 1970's. Israel deployed them to the Golan heights in 1973 for the counter attack against T-54s and T-62s. We know how that ended for the Russian built cans.

But it wasn't just hardware, the Israelis had highly motivated and trained crews while the Arab armies relied on poorly trained conscripts.



The_Chieftain #29 Posted Sep 13 2017 - 04:58

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Christies were dead-end designs, though. The Soviets ditched theirs in favour of torsion bar, and the British ditched theirs for bogies. The US went from bogie to torsion bar and skipped Christie entirely (despite buying a few for testing). The Germans similarly went bogie to torsion bar.

 

By way of example of the problem, imagine having to change some damaged suspension component on a Sherman. Then try and do the same thing on a Cromwell or T-34. Further, the Christie suspension takes up a lot of room inside the tank which could otherwise be used for things like ammunition or just space for the crew. It's not as if the Christie design, which did have some merits, don't get me wrong, was all good with no downsides. Something like "Easy to repair" is very important to an army fighting 5,000 miles and an ocean away from the factory.



ObrumPL #30 Posted Sep 13 2017 - 14:05

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View PostPrimarchRogalDorn, on Sep 08 2017 - 22:24, said:

That video is pretty bad

 

I don't think they had high TV's definition and WIFI in 1940's

Edited by ObrumPL, Sep 13 2017 - 14:05.


mattwong #31 Posted Sep 13 2017 - 16:28

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One of the things that annoys me about any discussion of Tiger tanks is the assumption that they were advanced, or high-tech, etc.  What was advanced about them, exactly?  The engine was nothing special.  The gun was powerful but not remarkably so.  Far from being some kind of high-tech German engineering, the Tiger actually seems like brute-force engineering: just bigger and heavier than its predecessors.

ThePigSheFlies #32 Posted Sep 13 2017 - 18:15

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View Postmattwong, on Sep 13 2017 - 10:28, said:

One of the things that annoys me about any discussion of Tiger tanks is the assumption that they were advanced, or high-tech, etc.  What was advanced about them, exactly?  The engine was nothing special.  The gun was powerful but not remarkably so.  Far from being some kind of high-tech German engineering, the Tiger actually seems like brute-force engineering: just bigger and heavier than its predecessors.

 

the perception of quality is an interesting thing that sales and marketing have struggled to capitalize for eons.

the holy grail of marketing folks is to somehow achieve that level of perception of quality.

 

There are some german automobiles that can be quite reliable, provided their expensive maintenance routines are followed.  they can also be a money pit if those routines are not followed.

 

On the other hand, I had a 1990 Honda CRX Si that basically needed oil changes, one set of break pads, a single timing belt and nothing else until 185,000 miles when I changed the clutch.  In the driveway.  

 

I also had a '99 Civic EF Hatch Si, that should have had the clutch changed in roughly the same number of miles, but I let it go long after.  Yeah, the clutch slipped, that's what happens when literally all of the friction plate has worn away, but it was still stupid levels of reliable and drive-able.  

 

To me, that level of quality is way more impressive than the same year luxury cars that all had various electronic gizmo's that would wear out in ~3-5 years time.

 

Others however look at quality differently.

they might look at fitment gaps, quality of visible surface materials, tactile feedback on buttons or driving inputs, etc., etc.  and as I age, I admit that my own impressions have shifted to some degree.  one of my absolute pet peeves is a vehicle that has an interior/dash made out of the hard ABS type plastic. 

 

 

 



BillT #33 Posted Sep 13 2017 - 18:19

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Sep 12 2017 - 22:58, said:

Christies were dead-end designs, though. The Soviets ditched theirs in favour of torsion bar, and the British ditched theirs for bogies. The US went from bogie to torsion bar and skipped Christie entirely (despite buying a few for testing). The Germans similarly went bogie to torsion bar..

 

To me, Christie's work isn't just about the suspension system. His tanks were also outstandingly fast, and his T3 design implemented sloped front armor as well.  But my main point is that his design evolved into the T-34, which was indisputably the best tank of 1940 and arguably the best tank of WWII.  If the US had held onto Christie, we could have had an American T-34. 

 

The question boils down to this: Was the T-34 superior to the Sherman?  

 

Most tank buffs would immediately answer "Yes".  I'm not convinced, because like you I don't swallow all the Cooper-esque hatred of the M4.   But I still have to admit that the T-34 was better in 1940 and '41 (before the Sherman entered service), and it had several superb features.  So I'm inclined to think that an American-developed T-34, combining its profile and armor layout with American mechanical parts and ergonomics, would have been better than either the Sherman or the T-34. 



Kenshin2kx #34 Posted Sep 13 2017 - 18:28

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Sep 12 2017 - 17:58, said:

Christies were dead-end designs, though. The Soviets ditched theirs in favour of torsion bar, and the British ditched theirs for bogies. The US went from bogie to torsion bar and skipped Christie entirely (despite buying a few for testing). The Germans similarly went bogie to torsion bar.

 

By way of example of the problem, imagine having to change some damaged suspension component on a Sherman. Then try and do the same thing on a Cromwell or T-34. Further, the Christie suspension takes up a lot of room inside the tank which could otherwise be used for things like ammunition or just space for the crew. It's not as if the Christie design, which did have some merits, don't get me wrong, was all good with no downsides. Something like "Easy to repair" is very important to an army fighting 5,000 miles and an ocean away from the factory.

 

Good point ... I was 'jumping the gun' on the torsion bar aspect and would agree that all things considered, it is superior ... simple, compact and durable if designed well, while providing the required shock absorbing buffer required of vehicles in targeted weight class. I was envisioning the U.S. being put into a similar evolutionary path that the Russians embarked on ... just a bit earlier than them and WAY earlier than when the U.S. actually had to get serious about tank design.  The key for me here, would be the basic design intentions as they evolved from the Christie who biased for speed and sloped armor.  I see that the Christie suspension would be problematic (and inferior to Torsion Bar suspension) in heavier vehicles, but the performance goals and emphasis on angled armor would be plusses in the scheme of American tank evolution during the decade of the 30's.  In short, I would have hoped for 'buy in' into the Christie design with evolutionary modification incorporated into an existing testbed platform medium that good angled armor and cavalry doctrine as a starting point.  

PrimarchRogalDorn #35 Posted Sep 13 2017 - 18:55

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View PostObrumPL, on Sep 13 2017 - 08:05, said:

 

I don't think they had high TV's definition and WIFI in 1940's

 

That wasn't the intent of my statement

The_Chieftain #36 Posted Sep 13 2017 - 19:15

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View PostBillT, on Sep 13 2017 - 17:19, said:

 

To me, Christie's work isn't just about the suspension system. His tanks were also outstandingly fast, and his T3 design implemented sloped front armor as well.  But my main point is that his design evolved into the T-34, which was indisputably the best tank of 1940 and arguably the best tank of WWII.  If the US had held onto Christie, we could have had an American T-34. 

 

The question boils down to this: Was the T-34 superior to the Sherman?  

 

Most tank buffs would immediately answer "Yes".  I'm not convinced, because like you I don't swallow all the Cooper-esque hatred of the M4.   But I still have to admit that the T-34 was better in 1940 and '41 (before the Sherman entered service), and it had several superb features.  So I'm inclined to think that an American-developed T-34, combining its profile and armor layout with American mechanical parts and ergonomics, would have been better than either the Sherman or the T-34. 

 

Mmm... I take your points, though I'm not sure I find them convincing.

Yes, the T-34 is arguably the best tank in the world in 1940/41. I think, though, one must also investigate the question of why the US wasn't using the designs. Yes, I know that Christie was a bit difficult to work with, but does that invalidate the reasons that the US Army may have stuck with the bogies, such as rugged reliability and internal space? Again, if there was ever any one country which sacrificed anything necessary in terms of capability to make sure that the tank built would do what it was expected to do as effectively as possible at all times, it was the US. One might also inquire as to how US tank design may have progressed had they had the impetus of being a continental power without the safety provided by an ocean secured by a large Navy, even given the fiscal constraints the US Army was under in the 1930s. Perhaps the US tank of 1940 might actually be a bit better than the M2 Medium which it had, though there are equally arguments that it wouldn't have given the thinking behind US tank design requirements. After all, the 37mm was a perfectly reasonable anti-tank gun, a position generally shared by Germany and the UK at the time, after all. 

 

Fundamentally, the question is "If the US could have had a T-34 of its own in 1940, would it have chosen to do so, or would it still have built something different?" I don't know if there truly is an answer to that counterfactual.



BlazeZero #37 Posted Sep 13 2017 - 21:10

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View PostThe_Chieftain, on Sep 13 2017 - 13:15, said:

 

Mmm... I take your points, though I'm not sure I find them convincing.

Yes, the T-34 is arguably the best tank in the world in 1940/41. I think, though, one must also investigate the question of why the US wasn't using the designs. Yes, I know that Christie was a bit difficult to work with, but does that invalidate the reasons that the US Army may have stuck with the bogies, such as rugged reliability and internal space? Again, if there was ever any one country which sacrificed anything necessary in terms of capability to make sure that the tank built would do what it was expected to do as effectively as possible at all times, it was the US. One might also inquire as to how US tank design may have progressed had they had the impetus of being a continental power without the safety provided by an ocean secured by a large Navy, even given the fiscal constraints the US Army was under in the 1930s. Perhaps the US tank of 1940 might actually be a bit better than the M2 Medium which it had, though there are equally arguments that it wouldn't have given the thinking behind US tank design requirements. After all, the 37mm was a perfectly reasonable anti-tank gun, a position generally shared by Germany and the UK at the time, after all. 

 

Fundamentally, the question is "If the US could have had a T-34 of its own in 1940, would it have chosen to do so, or would it still have built something different?" I don't know if there truly is an answer to that counterfactual.

 

Ultimately one of the chief design principles of the M4 was the fact that we had an ocean between any perceived frontline and the production lines correct? Do you think the simple existence of an ocean, more than the "safety" of said ocean as you said here, is more why we went with the M4 instead of a more complicated design like the Christie tanks and by evolution, the T-34? You can adjust or evolve the tank as needed (as they did) but first you have to have the damn thing there.

 

I have a mildly tangential question to pose though. Many countries watched what happened in the Spanish Civil War with respect to armor interaction very closely. We know the Germans and Soviets learned quite a bit from that conflict and those lessons colored their tank designs moving forward. Do you think the US learned the same lessons or rather came to the same conclusions or did they see the future of armored fighting becoming something else?



Flaxin_Waxin #38 Posted Sep 13 2017 - 21:36

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The T-34 wasn't really the best because it was superior in technical characteristics...quite the opposite in fact. If you take a look at surviving T-34s up close and then look at something like a Panther or Tiger, you can see a massive difference. The T-34 was cheap and easy to produce en masse, like a lot of Soviet weaponry at the time. One-on-one against a German tank such as a PzKpfw. IV...I'm not sure it would win. The standard T-34 or T-34-76 was easily superior to the Panzer III though, which was the main competition at the time. Even when the Panthers and Tigers came around...there were just so many T-34s and Shermans. The German tanks were far superior in technical stats, but the numbers were skewed. It was never Tiger vs. Sherman or Panther vs. T-34. It was 1 Tiger vs. 5 Shermans, or 1 Panther vs 10 T-34s. In the end, I guess it ended up being sheer numbers that made the T-34 so effective, it was just so cheap to produce.

 

The case could be made that Germany could have done far better just making more PzKpfw. IV tanks rather than the more expensive V  and VI varieties.



Kenshin2kx #39 Posted Sep 13 2017 - 21:59

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View PostFlaxin_Waxin, on Sep 13 2017 - 10:36, said:

The T-34 wasn't really the best because it was superior in technical characteristics...quite the opposite in fact. If you take a look at surviving T-34s up close and then look at something like a Panther or Tiger, you can see a massive difference. The T-34 was cheap and easy to produce en masse, like a lot of Soviet weaponry at the time. One-on-one against a German tank such as a PzKpfw. IV...I'm not sure it would win. The standard T-34 or T-34-76 was easily superior to the Panzer III though, which was the main competition at the time. Even when the Panthers and Tigers came around...there were just so many T-34s and Shermans. The German tanks were far superior in technical stats, but the numbers were skewed. It was never Tiger vs. Sherman or Panther vs. T-34. It was 1 Tiger vs. 5 Shermans, or 1 Panther vs 10 T-34s. In the end, I guess it ended up being sheer numbers that made the T-34 so effective, it was just so cheap to produce.

 

The case could be made that Germany could have done far better just making more PzKpfw. IV tanks rather than the more expensive V  and VI varieties.

 

Well, that is part of the context which would be altered by an America influenced by the likes of Christie and events of the period like the Spanish Civil War ... so, I would hazard the guess that had the U.S. started on the Christie prompt with a keen eye for relevant world events ... the outcome would be a better T-34  a tank that potentially could manifest as a better balance of basic technical superiority with American ergonomics and similar ease of mass production ... made possible by early incorporation of better inline power plants being developed and perfected during the early 30's ... case in point the Allison 1710 - which if modified for durability could serve as a universal tank engine with good power scalability - similar to the Meteor/Merlin conversion for the British.   In fact, one could say that basic design emphasis would make the Allison a potentially better tank engine due to the fact that it was mechanically simpler with fewer moving parts (reportedly between 35 -45% less parts) and so, theoretically more robust and reliable (and no deficit for high altitude conditions).  Now add Torsion Bar suspension which was apparently being tested in the U.S. in the early 30's*   

 

So, fantasizing here, a armor profile inspired by Christie, ruggedized engine by Allison, test bed for torsion bars and a turret mounted 76 mm?

 

Interesting side note on Torsion Bar development ... is this accurate Chieftain?

 

*"In July 1945, Captain Joseph E. Canning, the technical information officer from the Office of the Chief of Ordnance at Detroit (OCO), published an article in Army Ordnance, titled “Faster Combat Vehicles,” about the new torsion bar suspension. It stated that in 1933 a torsion bar suspension was designed and patented by the Ordnance Department, but limitations in funds made further development impossible. It went on to say that, “as soon as the initial pressure of arming ourselves and our allies was over and funds and engineering personnel were made available, work was renewed on torsion bar suspension development for high-speed vehicles.” 

 

http://ciar.org/ttk/.../2torsion02.pdf


Edited by Kenshin2kx, Sep 13 2017 - 22:15.


The_Chieftain #40 Posted Sep 13 2017 - 22:16

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View PostBlazeZero, on Sep 13 2017 - 20:10, said:

 

Ultimately one of the chief design principles of the M4 was the fact that we had an ocean between any perceived frontline and the production lines correct? Do you think the simple existence of an ocean, more than the "safety" of said ocean as you said here, is more why we went with the M4 instead of a more complicated design like the Christie tanks and by evolution, the T-34? You can adjust or evolve the tank as needed (as they did) but first you have to have the damn thing there.

 

I have a mildly tangential question to pose though. Many countries watched what happened in the Spanish Civil War with respect to armor interaction very closely. We know the Germans and Soviets learned quite a bit from that conflict and those lessons colored their tank designs moving forward. Do you think the US learned the same lessons or rather came to the same conclusions or did they see the future of armored fighting becoming something else?

 

Correct. But it was no only a matter of getting the tank itself there, as you can weld lifting eyes to a T-34 as easily as an M2 Medium. It was also a matter of getting all the supporting infrastructure. The cranes, spare parts, etc that are used to repair the tanks and keep them going, which also must all be shipped over. Especially when you cannot return a tank to the depot, as the Soviets could if they wanted to (And the Germans certainly did).Which is easier to box up and ship out to a field unit, a Christie suspension system unit, or a bogie? And when you get there, the longer a tank can run without need for resupply, for example, the better. Ammunition capacity was a constant, significant concern for US tank designers. It reduced the number of trucks required to keep up with the tanks and allowed a tank to stay in the line longer, reducing overall need.

 

I'm not sure quite how much the Spanish civil war affected thinking of tank design, honestly. I've never looked into it.

 

View PostFlaxin_Waxin, on Sep 13 2017 - 20:36, said:

The T-34 wasn't really the best because it was superior in technical characteristics...quite the opposite in fact. If you take a look at surviving T-34s up close and then look at something like a Panther or Tiger, you can see a massive difference. The T-34 was cheap and easy to produce en masse, like a lot of Soviet weaponry at the time. One-on-one against a German tank such as a PzKpfw. IV...I'm not sure it would win. The standard T-34 or T-34-76 was easily superior to the Panzer III though, which was the main competition at the time. Even when the Panthers and Tigers came around...there were just so many T-34s and Shermans. The German tanks were far superior in technical stats, but the numbers were skewed. It was never Tiger vs. Sherman or Panther vs. T-34. It was 1 Tiger vs. 5 Shermans, or 1 Panther vs 10 T-34s. In the end, I guess it ended up being sheer numbers that made the T-34 so effective, it was just so cheap to produce.

 

The case could be made that Germany could have done far better just making more PzKpfw. IV tanks rather than the more expensive V  and VI varieties.

 

Hmm... I would argue that in two ways. One, T-34 was a 1939/40 design. It is not reasonable to compare it with a 1943 design when we're talking about how good a tank was in 1940/41. As for the second line, the Germans never had the production capability to make enough Panzer IVs to counter the Allied forces. They had no choice but to attempt to redress the numerical differential in part by superior individual pieces of equipment. The problem was that although they attempted to build those superior pieces of equipment, they simply were not able to achieve tanks which were, in truth, superior. They had too many design flaws, some of which are incomprehensible (eg gunner's optics, size of turret), some were arguable either way (eg interleaved roadwheels), and some were simply an attempt to achieve a capability which the technology available simply could not meet (eg sufficient reliability for a vehicle of the weight)

 

Quote

Interesting side note on Torsion Bar development ... is this accurate Chieftain?

 As Mr Dyer observes, just where the idea to move to torsion bar development came from is a bit disputed. Some think 'copied from the Germans', some think 'taken from the Soviets', and some think 'home-grown'. There appears to be no evidence to conclusively support any theory.

 

Note that torsion bars were not universally supported even in Germany. Some German designers were very hoarding of even those could of inches of internal room which torsion bars took up, and is why the Panzer IV retained the bogies all the way through. It's not as if they didn't know about torsion bars, see Pz III or the half-tracks. They just didn't agree at the time that it was worth it.







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