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American tank design philosophy

Discussion in 'Tank Warfare of World War 2' started by Blackclaw, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. jeaguer

    jeaguer New Member

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    .

    As for the russians armor losses , this wasn't a tennis match , losses ratio were irrelevant , yardage was the measure of success
    the russians had to take back quite a lot of territory ,
    this cost... it cost a lot ,
    every miles had to be fought for with the russians being usually the attacker of entrenched position ,wich is a pain
    from 43 , the emphasis was on massive artillery preparation , then an infantry assault , then after the line had been breached , armor exploitation to the nearest rail node while the infantry set up pak fronts on the likely counter-attack side with some armor ready to joint in if needed ,
    then resupply , recon , get set and on again
    not very imaginative , but there really wasn't any alternative
    the whole quality of the russians was on the strategic level ,
    points of pressure and rythm of the attacks , to get the panzer fire brigades to run from one end of the front to the other , always a bit late , getting weaker each time ,


    .
     
  2. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    Gee Jason, I didn't know M1's were available in in 1944, thanks for letting me know about that. Just stick to the arguments and try to keep your smart ass riducle to your smug self.

    Yes, the better tanks the US could have used instead of SP AT guns in 1944 would have been 76mm Shermans, the same ones used in the M10s or preferably Fireflies. Or maybe Jumbos with 90mmm guns (although I'm not sure if the turret would allow this). Given the M10 was basically a Sherman, this could have been done. Higher priority and urgency may have made the M26 available earlier. As it was about 100 were delivered for combat before the end of the war. Most research and development slowed dramatically after WWII, not to pick up until Korea. 76mm Shermans first saw action during Cobra and were available in Britain earlier.
    In any case, the statement was with regards to the TDs, not the whole tank force, so you could have saved yourself a lot of typing and sarcasm by actually reading. Most you resort ot personal insult and attacks every time someone fails to totally agree with you. Maybe you should jump in the drink to cool off.
    Yes, the fact that the Allies were attacking is the kind of thing you want. Duh! It also invalidates the conditions the TD force was supposed to address. It was a defensive arm.
    I you didn't try to be so brilliant, you might actually get the point occassionally. Or is the way you try to argue, emotional responses to get on people's nerves? Duh? Oh and bringing in extraneous tidbits that have nothing to do with the argument.
    Sorry but the focus of the TD force was speed and mobility, they (Gen Bruce and the TD arm) were never happy with the speed of the M10 or M36 and wanted faster vehicles. The TD force initally resisted the M10, but had no other choice ay the time. The M18 was still in development and the T3 was inadequate.
    You remain a crockful. Please feel free to take your brilliance where it will be properly admired. I'm through wrestling with a pig.
     
  3. JasonC phpbb3

    JasonC phpbb3 New Member

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    "in 1944 would have been 76mm Shermans"

    Well in 1944 they were making mostly 76mm Shermans and 105mm Shermans, as well as M18s and M36s. M10 production had halted and short 75 Shermans pretty much so (a few month of some types, turret production limits).

    They might have made a modest number of 76mm Shermans a few months earlier, at best. But not as many as they got of M10s, because the turret was late, design-wise.

    "Or maybe Jumbos with 90mmm guns (although I'm not sure if the turret would allow this). "

    It wouldn't. Needs a whole bustle on the back to take the torque from the long gun, hence a completely redesigned turret was needed for the M36, and it was pushing its weight possibilities without 6 inches of armor plate forward of the mount.

    "Given the M10 was basically a Sherman, this could have been done."

    Except it required an entirely remodeled turret, taken from the T23 interim medium tank design, which was late. Higher priority compared to the TDs might have started production of 76mm Shermans in the second half of 1943. Instead they got over 6500 M10s, the first of them in time to help in Tunisia and plenty ready in time for Italy. You would have had fewer 76mm vehicles on D-Day, not more, in return for them being M4A1 76 rather than mostly M10. There is no reason to think this would have helped very much. For one thing, they still had to find out about shatter gap to make them fully effective beyond close range (to order enough APCR and get it to theater, etc).

    They made 10000 Sherman 75s before an American saw a German on the ground, so there still would have been Sherman 75s in the force mix. With the turret delays, probably 15000 of them. There was no prospect, ever, of nobody going to war in the Sherman 75.

    Notice that the Brits have Fireflies aplenty when they land, but still have all the usual Sherman problems attacking superior German armor, and lose hundreds at a time when they get too frisky, etc.

    So it would not have had a chance to make a marginal difference until the Bulge, really. Maybe Lorraine, but then Lorraine was won handily using short 75s and TDs (and some 105s etc). As for the Bulge, there you'd be out over 1000 Jacksons produced to date, and would still have fewer 76mm vehicles, in return for them being mixed A1 and A3 Sherman 76. By then the fall ADs had arrived, which came with 100% 76s. But they aren't conspicuously more successful in the Bulge than the older ADs were (see e.g. 2nd AD).

    Again you can't name the occasion where TDs fail because they are too thin.

    "Higher priority and urgency may have made the M26 available earlier."

    Yes, as I mentioned you might have had a crust of 1000 to 1500 of them before the end (maybe half of that in action at any one time), in a fleet with an extra zero on it. Automotively still teething, though, so less than Sherman readiness rates. The armor is good enough to deal with 75L48 but not Tiger or Panther guns. The gun is good. In numbers about the same as what the Jacksons got you in 1944, but somewhat delayed.

    "the statement was with regards to the TDs, not the whole tank force"

    Incoherent, you are arguing for eliminating the TD force in favor of better tanks, a proposition that can only be entertained by looking at the combined fleets available with either decision in the matter.

    Note that nobody else acted this way. Nobody else used any given chassis exclusively for full tanks, to the exclusion of specialized TDs on the same. The Germans make a Jagd version of everything, the Russians an SU or ISU version, etc. What one actually sees everywhere else, is a tendency to give up turrets but stretch to get the biggest possible gun the chassis can take. Some of them with decent armor, many of them without. (The SUs besides the 100 are all readily holed at range by typical German guns e.g. The Germans field Nashorns as well as Marders, and the middling armor StuG is the most numerous piece of the war).

    What actually stands out in the US designs is that they keep turrets, not that they go for maximum speed. Again, only the Hellcat is designed for speed, and it is only a quarter of the TDs fielded. The M10 is discontinued as soon as the M18 and M36 are possible, but there are plenty of them around because their losses are so low and over 6000 have already been made. The LL chassis are becoming Achilles, another example of the biggest gun possible, and a further reduction in the speed focus. In practice as opposed to theoretical advocacy, it is an "eggshells with hammers" force, operative word "hammer".

    "also invalidates the conditions the TD force was supposed to address"

    Defensive arms that are so successful all your defenses turn into attacks within 10 days are the kinds of "failing" I want my army to find itself stuck with. If your defense is so strong you can't be touched, you will win. (With US logistical and industrial depth putting time on your side etc). It was perfectly sensible for the planners to focus on taking away any German offensive threat, as a high priority, especially given their string of successes and how they achieved them.

    I love the argument that the focus had to be speed because some officer wasn't happy with how slow the vehicles they actually made, were. That's cogent, it is. They put 90mm AA guns and 17 pdrs on chassis with no speed difference from a Sherman, and it is supposed to be a speed focus. They put 3 inch AA on a chassis with no speed difference from a Sherman, when no turret for a Sherman exists that will take that gun, and that is supposed to be a speed focus. Then also make all of 1/4 (of the US, more like 1/5 or less counting the Achilles) fast speciality vehicles.

    Um, what would a focus on hitting power, in which speed is an afterthought and additional thing to try out, have looked like?

    As for being done wrestling, do you promise?
     
  4. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    Fails to withstand scrutiny? Hardly...

    Your numbers are those of AFV's

    My numbers are purely in relation to armor

    Ergo your numbers include vehicles such as Hannomags and self-propelled artillery... I have never read any source claiming a number as high as 4,000 German tanks were lost in Normandy, the estimations seem to stretch from 800 to 1,800 with 1,100 being a relative consensus... By comparison I believe Allied armor losses in Normandy were in the vicinity of 4,100... I have also read on another forum that ~3,100 Shermans were lost throughout the entire war

    Even if we did take your incredibly generous statistic of 4,000 German tanks destroyed in the Western Theatre (more than the amount deployed there might I add) that barely surpasses 7 months on the Russian front...
     
  5. Ricky

    Ricky Well-Known Member

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    Gentleman please. Any more personal attacks, or even snide comments, and the Mod team will start editing posts. We may even have to start handing out warnings/locking posts etc.
     
  6. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    Sorry Ricky + Jason, didn't mean to sound offenseive...
    merely trading numbers :smok:
     
  7. JasonC phpbb3

    JasonC phpbb3 New Member

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    No, I am not counting SPA. I certainly do count StuGs and Jagds, those are full AFVs.

    Normandy is not the western theater.

    I never said the Germans lost 4000 in Normandy, they lost 2000 in Normandy (out of 2200 sent), readily verified by detailed strength returns from every unit. Zetterling's Normandy OOB has strength returns nearly daily for every division, and we can verify from it that the AFV fleet sent to fight there was 2200 full AFVs. And practically nothing makes it back from Falaise.

    Centralized German TWO accounting lags in the fall of France, underreporting losses before the front starts to move, because the "under repair" categories for tanks still on unit strength but not running were ramping up throughout the attrition period. When the front starts to move these tanks are lost wholesale - the unit returns drop to a dozen or so. Then the chaos of Falaise hits, and the rear echelons have no idea what has or has not made it out, so they delay writing things off until they see what rallies at the Westwall. Little does, and September sees a huge spike in formal TOWs in the centralized accounting. But those are all tanks KOed back in Normandy that never made it out of France. It is easy to verify this by looking at the running strength of the formations as they come back.

    The right way to account for losses when there are such lags and accounting murkiness is to count a tank as lost as soon as it permanently leaves running status. A tank that goes into a repair category and comes back out isn't lost. But one that goes there and stays there forever (until written off etc), was lost when it left running status, not when a distant accountant became sure it was gone.

    If only 1100 AFVs were lost in Normandy, you will have no difficulty giving me a full run down of the 1100 AFVs remaining on strength of the 2200 sent in June and July, by type and unit, at the end of August. But you can't, because they aren't on strength, because they are gone. (Well more half are already out of running status pre breakout, which is what makes it possible).

    That is Normandy, minus 2000 German AFVs. The US loses like 750 mediums in Normandy proper, then more in the race across France (a fair portion of those later ones simply due to breakdown from the automotive strain). The Germans do seem to have outscored the combined allies in Normandy, but only by perhaps 1.5 to 1, and certainly far below the typical exchange ratios seen in Russia.

    Then there is the Lorraine period and the death of the Panzer brigades, well over 1000 lost in the Bulge and Alsace, etc. 4000 is not a generous figure for German AFV losses in the west, it is quite conservative. It probably leaves out the losses that did not occur until the final months of collapse, many of them abandonments etc.

    Nor are all the remaining German tanks made, losses on the Russian front. Italy takes 1000 or so. Sure it is a tiny front by even the standards of the western, but it lasts 2 years, and the Germans twice stage armored counterattacks larger than corps size (Salerno and Anzio). DAK in the western desert may lose only on the order of 400, but Tunisia takes more, good money thrown after bad.

    All told, fronts other than the eastern take around 15% of German AFV losses. Of course that still leaves the bulk of the tank killing to the Russians. (It does mean they averaged slightly worse than 1 to 3). But the exchange rate in AFVs achieved in the west from 1943 on is clearly superior to that achieved by the Russians. They don't lose even 12000 in the ETO nor 15000-18000 overall. The Russians do lose 100,000 tanks.

    The reasons are not tank spec technical, they are doctrinal, timing related, and operational. Timing related in that the Germans are stronger throughout 1943 and the westerners don't have to face them then. Operational in that the western allies are generally able to fight with better support conditions, logistically and from the firepower arms and the like. (Though late enough the Russians become monsters there, too). But still also a large measure of doctrinal superiority for the westerners (e.g. much better tank-artillery cooperation, a superior CAS system, far less inclination to stubbornly reinforce failure - though too much on a couple of occasions it must be said).

    If you doubt it, consider the overall Russian losses in their final attacks of the war, to take Berlin and Prague. In just the last 3 weeks they lose over 500,000 men killed or wounded. Exchange efficiency was not a Russian forte. They accepted and regularly incurred simply stupendous losses to achieve things the western allies achieved losing far less.
     
  8. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    Jason,

    About a third right, about a third wrong and about a third opinion and speculation masquerading as fact with a healthy dose of mis-direction to obfuscate the real point, spiced with personal insult. You will find the forum members here are quite intelligent and knowledgeable, and are able tell which is which. They also tend to be enjoyable to trade ideas with which I will miss.

    There's no point in trying to reason with a closed mind.

    [portions edited by Moderator]
     
  9. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    Canambridge, is this how we welcome a new member,

    Trial by flame? :D
     
  10. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    Oh please! You reap what you sow.
     
  11. Ricky

    Ricky Well-Known Member

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    Warning was given, warning was ignored.

    No more. :angry:
     
  12. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    I still can't read this thread without getting fired up and feeling personally insulted and attacked, but I also can't stand to see it left like this. So here is some more fuel for the fire. I'll try to behave myself and avoid cliché, revisionist views or to fall under the spell of the Dupuy’s.
    So here is my mix of facts (at least as I see them), opinion and speculation.

    The original question posed was:
    Blackclaw wrote: “Perhaps it is the privilege of hindsight that allows me to wonder why such obviously flawed armored vehicle designs were even attempted [?]. But I cannot but wonder why it was not until 1943 that the US came to recognize that its tank [armored vehicle] designs were a flawed concept [?].”

    To which jeaguer added the comment: “On the subject of U.S. tank design in WW2 ,
    I can't help but to think there was some basic conceptual flaw at the military end …”

    There was a fundamental flaw in US tank and TD doctrine and vehicle design.

    To quote Dr. Christopher Gabel’s Leavenworth Paper #12 Seek, Strike, and Destroy: US Army Tank Destroyer Doctrine in WWII (September 1985): “… tank destroyer doctrine was fundamentally flawed.”
    (http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/download/ ... gabel2.pdf)

    This flawed TD doctrine had a corresponding effect on the far less flawed US tank doctrine and design. These were flaws that at least some members of the US army recognized themselves, at least by mid 1944 and apparently earlier.

    So what was the doctrine, for both armor and TD, how was it flawed and what effect did it have on vehicle development?

    U.S. Army Tank Destroyer Doctrine
    First, and today the most controversial, was the TD doctrine. This doctrine grew out the convictions of Generals Marshall and McNair that a specific response was required to deal with the attacks of the German panzer divisions. On-going jurisdictional disputes between armor, infantry and artillery branches let the AT defense hanging until April-May of 1941 when General Marshall ordered a planning office be set up to deal with AT defense, and that it be independent of branch. Lt Col (later General) Bruce was named to head up the office. In 1941 General Wedemeyer (of Victory Plan fame) proposed that highly mobile AT assets be concentrated under GHQ control. Wedemeyer felt medium tanks might be capable of this task. This fit well with the beliefs of Marshall and McNair’s concept for lean, modular pool forces. The Tank Destroyer Tactical and Firing Center was established on 27 November, 1941 to oversee development of TD doctrine and establish training. The TD concept was greatly aided by some dubious war game rulings and faulty conclusions in September and November of 1941. It would seem that more than anything else these war games demonstrated the value of large numbers of mobile AT assets under division command and the need for balanced and integrated armored forces, but were instead interpreted as validation of the TD concept.
    In short, US Army ant-tank doctrine was to have TD groups (Brigades) of three battalions, reporting to a Corps or Army headquarters. The initial defense against a German massed tank attack was to be the Infantry divisions organic anti tank assets. In a 1944 these consisted of fifty-seven 57mm AT guns and 558 bazookas, of which 336 were assigned to the infantry regiments. The bazookas did not have dedicated teams, but were to be manned by Headquarters and service personnel as the need arose. The majority of an Infantry division’s AT guns were to be held in reserve and deployed once the axis of an attack was known. The Tank Destroyers were to be held behind the line until this was known. Once the large scale attack was identified, the Corps HQ would order the TD Group HQ to react in mass to the enemy attack.
    The TDs were to act in an aggressive manner and were to use shoot and scoot tactics enabled by superior speed, mobility and hitting power to stop the massed tank attack. The first arriving TDs were to blunt the attack by hitting the enemy’s leading tank elements, while the other two battalions maneuvered to the flanks and rear to destroy the enemy tank force. By taking on the task of stopping enemy armor attacks, the TD force would free the tank force to act offensively.
    The first thing wrong with this doctrine was that holding back a reserve of AT guns at the division level. This was meant to overcome the weakness of a linear cordon defense as tried by the French in 1940, but it left the infantry with little or no defense at the initial attack. It was not practical and was not followed in the field. General McNair compounded this error when he later seized upon British experience with the 6pdr in North Africa to validate his artillery man’s view that a cheap gun could stop an expensive tank better than another tank. He ignored the fact that the solution to the AT guns (like the Afrika Korps Pak front) was already known, i.e., direct HE fire, artillery support, air support and/or infantry support to spot and destroy the AT guns. Only British stubbornness to persist with unsupported cavalry charges with tanks lacking HE capability had allowed these tactics to work in the open desert of 1941-42. He also ignored the advice from his staff and colleagues who tried to point this all out to him. Also left up in the air was how towed gun battalions were to aggressively maneuver to the flank and rear of an attacking formation. Acting on his convictions, AGF ordered half of the TD battalions converted from SP to towed in 1943. This organizational anomaly, which actually required more scarce manpower than the SP battalions, seems at odds with the highly aggressive and offensive mobile TD doctrine, and went against the TD Command desires.
    Another, and more serious failing, was the misunderstanding of the Panzer division and German doctrine. TD doctrine was based on stopping and destroying a mass of (light) tanks moving at high speed, but a Panzer Division was a very well integrated combined arms team, built around and moving at the speed of tanks, but composed of all arms, including well thought out and executed air support. The attack of a Panzer division was not a charge of a mass of tanks, but that of a well coordinated all arms team, the extension of the storm trooper tactics of WWI. The TD battalions, on the contrary, were not part of a combined arms philosophy but were to operate semi-independently, and were totally missing integrated artillery and infantry support. Nor did their training or that of the infantry divisions emphasize this. They did possess very small infantry security squads and M8/M20 armored cars for reconnaissance, but these were far too small and light to overcome the organizational deficiencies. Missing from the doctrine was how the TDs were to mass and move, since this would require priority on the road net and good, accurate up to the minute communications to ensure the TDs hit the right spot. Also missing was what the mission of the TD was when not responding to a massed enemy tank attack. Given McNair’s obsession with modularization and economy, it seems another overlooked anomaly of the TD force. Left with no task when the army was attacking, the men in the field developed their own roles, including indirect artillery support, to tank over-watch and infantry close support. While some of these were later taught at Camp Hood, they were not aligned with “official” TD doctrine.
    Once in combat the TDs did knock out enemy tanks, but they rarely acted according to doctrine in doing so. Even the March 23rd, 1943 El Guettar victory, by the M3 75mm GMC armed 601st TD Bn, later reinforced by a company of the M10 equipped 899th Bn, was a cordon defense of artillery positions, conducted from ambush positions. The 601st lost 20 of it’s 28 vehicles and the 899th company 7 of 12 M10’s. About 30 of the 50 German panzers employed were destroyed, by TDs and artillery fire. The fact that TD men were able to “use lemons to make lemonades” does not mean that the TDs were the solution to the problem. Again with the benefit of hindsight, you can ask how they might have done with more realistic doctrine and bigger guns and more armor.
    Many analyses from North Africa pointed out the problems with the TD doctrine and equipment. General Harmon of the 2nd Armored Division going so far as to say that there was no need for tank destroyers. Lt General Devers said: “The separate tank destroyer arm is not a practical concept on the battlefield. Defensive anti-tank weapons are essentially artillery. Offensively the weapon to beat the tank is a better tank”, a view shared by Patton. Based on the many negative reports from North Africa, the TD Center was forced to re-write their doctrine in May 1943, the new manual not being published until July 1944. As a result of this unhappiness with the performance of the TD battalions, their independence started to slip. General Bruce left to command the77th Division in May 1943, and when General McNair was accidentally killed in July 1944, the TDs had lost their best advocates.

    With regards to the campaign in North-West Europe, I would like to quote Dr. Gabel:
    “With the cessation of hostilities in Europe, a Theater General Board composed of senior field artillery officers convened to evaluate the contributions of the tank destroyer to the war effort. They based their study in part upon the after-action reports of forty-nine tank destroyer battalions that had fought in Europe. In its report, the board noted that the tank destroyer was “a most versatile weapon on the battlefield” and admitted that there existed a need for self-propelled, high-velocity guns within the infantry division, a function that the tank destroyers had fulfilled admirably. The battalions sampled had destroyed, on the average, 34 German tanks and self-propelled guns, 17 artillery and antitank guns, and 16 pillboxes apiece, with one battalion claiming 105 tanks destroyed. However, the board recognized the fact that tank destroyers had never validated the tank destroyer doctrine and, in fact, had not adhered to it on the battlefield. The Theater General Board closed its report by recommending that high-velocity self-propelled guns be made organic to the infantry division, that Field Artillery assume responsibility for antitank defense-in-depth, that the Armored Force modify and adopt certain aspects of tank destroyer doctrine, and that “the tank destroyers as a separate force be discontinued.“ …
    On 10 November 1945, the Tank Destroyer Center terminated its few remaining activities and, without fanfare, ceased to exist. Officers commissioned in the tank destroyers found themselves transferred to the infantry.”

    U.S. Army Tank Destroyers
    With the establishment of the TD Tactical and Training Center in December 1941 under General Bruce, the TD arm set about defining the perfect TD, but this is all I can type in one sitting. More opinion and speculation on US tank destroyer designs later.
     
  13. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    U.S. Army Tank Destroyers
    With the establishment of the TD Tactical and Training Center in December 1941 under General Bruce, the TD arm set about defining the perfect TD. After looking at 200 design proposals, they came up with what would eventually become the M18, although only after a long and circuitous development.
    So if the tank destroyer doctrine was flawed, as recognized by the US Army before (by a few), during (by some) and after (by virtually all) the war was there anything wrong the equipment?

    In terms of 1942-43 the 3”/76mm guns were good enough to take on defeat the current panzers (Pz IV & StuG III) at all normal combat ranges. It was only if one had the foresight to see the Tigers, Panthers, and armored jagdpanzers of 1944/45 that would there be a problem. The other primary problems with the design of the TDs are the open turret, the lack of an anti-personnel machine guns and the light armor (although it was much better sloped than the M4’s). The TDs also lacked a powered turret, which greatly increased the turret traverse time. A Sherman could turn through 360 degrees in less time that the M10 could turn through 180 degrees. Nor were the TDs equipped with gyro-stabilizers. To these the Tank Destroyer board would add, with the exception of the M18, lack of speed and mobility. Since the M10/36 TDs were based on the M4, and were only 3-5 tons lighter, the M10/M36 had basically the same performance as the M4. The TD board was obsessed with speed above all else, and had no use whatsoever for the early M6 37mm GMC (truck) and M3 75mm GMC (halftrack) TDs, was extremely unhappy with the M10 (too heavy and slow), and considered the M36 over gunned as well. Unfortunately the M18 would not enter combat until mid 1944, leaving the field to the makeshift TDs, M3 GMC, M6 GMC, M10 GMC and M36 GMC.
    Of these faults, the one which would have the greatest impact on the fighting in the summer and autumn of 1944 in the west was the gun size, followed, by the open turret and lack of machine guns.

    It has been stated that the only alternative the US had to the Sherman was the M26 General Pershing and that this could not have been available much earlier than it was actually was. This argument is based on the assumption that the US Army only recognized the poor anti-armor capabilities in Normandy, when they were faced with large numbers of Panthers and more than a handful of Tigers (most of which were facing the British and Canadians actually).

    With the full benefit of hindsight, it can be argued that larger gunned vehicles could have been available in large numbers, in time to support the Normandy and subsequent N.W.E. campaigns. It all depends on when a change in the gun size philosophy took place.

    Historically this happened in July 1944.
    It might have reasonably happened in May 1943 when some, but by no means all, observers, both in the field and in the states, called for a larger gunned AFV.
    It could have happened in February 1943 after the first encounters with the TigerI.
    It could have come in January 1943 when the British began to study installing the 17pdr in the M4, and their subsequent August 1943 suggestion that the M4 be armed with the 17pdr.
    It was possible in August - September 1942 when Ordnance looked at installing a 90mm gun in U.S. tanks and/or tank destroyers.
    It could have grown out of the July 1942 studies install a 76mm gun in the M4.
    It could have grown out of the M6/T14 heavy tank studies as early as January – March 1941.
    It could have happened between June 1940 – June 1942 based on French and British reports of the effectiveness of the German 88mm AA gun in the AT role, or based on intelligence from the Soviets during the same period.

    So there were plenty of opportunities to re-assess the need for a larger or better anti-tank gun as well as calls to mount the largest gun possible. Ordnance even suggested a high velocity 105mm TD, the T4 105mm GMC. It never got beyond the concept stage.
    The most realistic time for a change in philosophy would have been June 1943, following the conclusion of the Tunisian campaign. So if a decision had been taken at that time to install a 90mm gun in a tank, was there enough time to pull it off before D-Day? The answer is demonstrably yes. In fact the U.S. Army had already come close to producing a 90mm armed vehicle. A decision to produce 500 (of a planned 4,000) 90mm armed T53E1 GMCs had been reached in August 1942, but apparently this vehicle was a real dog and was rightly cancelled before production started. In 1943 Ordnance called for the production of 1,000 90mm armed T25E1/T26E1 tanks for delivery in 1944. Armored Forces Command rejected this as they “preferred a 90mm armed M4”.

    The best example to show that it would have been possible to develop and field a 90mm gunned tank between June 1943 and June 1944 is the M4A3E2 “Jumbo” Assault Tank. The decision to create the M4A3E2 “Jumbo” assault tank was made in early 1944, primarily to have some well armored tanks to assault the German West Wall fortifications in the fall of 1944. The tank went into production in May 1944 and ended in July with only 254 having been factory produced. This tank included a new turret design, one based on the T20 series tank turret, which was in turn an evolution of the M6 heavy tank turret, and amounted to “virtually nothing more than a lengthened M4 turret”. The original armament was to have been a 76mm gun, but this was later changed to a 75mm gun, due to the better HE capability. But the turret had originally been designed to accept 75mm, 76mm, 90mm, or 105mm guns. It took three to five months go from concept to a production rate capable of equipping two battalions a month, with only the priority of a secondary project. Had the M4A3E2 been given the “AA1” priority, it is not unreasonable that much higher production rates would have been possible.
    A similar time line exists for the M36, which was essentially the design of a new turret for the 90mm gun, again based on the T20 series turret (with its M6 origins). A large portion of the turret modification was to reduce the armor and open the top. This work started in March 1943, again with little priority or urgency. Prototypes of the complete vehicle were completed in September 1943. The type was immediately recommended for production, but resistance from the Tank Destroyer board who again felt the vehicle would be too heavy and slow and saw no need for the bigger gun. AGF over-ruled the TD Center, feeling the gun would be useful in attacking fortifications, the role the M4A3E2 was intended also for, and that it would provide a useful back-up to the M10 and towed TD battalions. So again a low priority 90mm project was ready for production in no more than six months, and probably could have been much faster given a higher priority and urgency. The M36B1 version was created by simply mounting the new turret on the M4A3 hull. All the turrets, including the turret for the M26, shared the same 69” ring, so there was not even a need to develop a new chassis. The T20 turret which could be directly mounted on the M4, and this turret, which was able to accept a 90mm gun, was available in March of 1943. The progenitor of this turret, the M6 turret, had been in production in November of 1942.

    So let’s assume some real foresight on the part of the men responsible for arming the U.S. forces and say that a decision to go with a 90mm gunned “Jumbo” was made at the end of May 1943. Without improving on the historical time line, let’s assume they go into production at the beginning of December 1943, and then allow one month for transshipment and one month for crew familiarization, allowing four months of production to be available by June 1944. At a low end M4A3E2 production rate of 85 per month, this yields 340 tanks, at a high end rate of 125/month this yields 500 tanks. M4A3 production in December 1943 averaged 543/month. Allowing one third of this for a 90mm “Jumbo” or 181/month, gives 724 tanks. M10+M10A1 production averaged 525/month from June 1943 through November 1943. If this production had been converted to 90mm “Jumbos” then 2,100 tanks could have been available. So by D-Day anywhere from 340 to 2,100 90mm gunned tanks could have been available, with more arriving at a rate of 85 to 1,068 (543+525) per month. By D-Day there were 19 SP TD battalions in England, requiring a total of 684 tanks using the TD TO&E of 36 per battalion. But it was only the battalions in combat that would have required the new tanks.
    By the end of June 1944 there were 4 SP and 5 towed TD battalions in Normandy. To equip the SP battalions would have required 144 tanks. To convert the five towed battalions would have required another 180, for a total of 324 tanks. So it would have been possible to equip every TD battalion in Normandy at the end of June, including the towed ones, with a 90mm armed “Jumbo” M4 tank. Even this would not have necessarily been required. Since 2/3 of the AFVs faced in Normandy were Pz IV and StuG III types, a mix of 76mm and 90mm guns would have given a battalion the capacity to deal with all German threats. Re-equipping only one company per TD battalion (12 tanks) or one per platoon (4 tanks) per company would have allowed 29 battalions to be so equipped. There were 10 SP TD battalions in Normandy in July (+ 8 towed) and 18 SP TD battalions in France in August (+8 towed). It would have been possible to equip the U.S. TD force in Europe with weapons capable of taking on, and to a degree, slugging it out with any German tank by D-Day.
     
  14. Ricky

    Ricky Well-Known Member

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    Thank you.

    On a side-note about the Dupuys...

    I recently picked up a 'Dictionary of Military History' written by Mr Dupuy & Mr Dupuy. As is my wont I immediately turned to the Battle of Hastings (the yardstick by which I measure how good a book is) and was horrified. Beyond the normal following of the Norman propaganda view, they made a number of quite serious howlers - for example Harold had cavalry, and the Normans had pikemen! They are now thoroughly discredited in my eyes I'm afraid.
     
  15. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    Strangely enough, I am not a Dupuy supporter, although I do think they raise some interesting points.
    I've never agreed with the Dupuy view that the Germans were clearly (by a factor of 1.55 no less) better than the Western Allies, and by extension, enjoyed an even greater superiority over the Soviets. Although I've never seen the full model they use, it smacks of "voo-doo" statistics to me.
    Two books I've read, "Draftee Division" (on the U.S. 88th Infantry Division in Italy) and "When the Odds were Even" (on the U.S. Army Vosges campaign) go into some detail in trying to deal with the Dupuy assertions and provide what are to me some convincing arguments that by 1944 at least, the Western Allies performed better on a man to man basis than the Germans of 1944.
    Dupuy based his original work on operations during the Italian campaign and later expanded it to cover a larger cross section of the war, but always focused on individual battles or operations. The critics feel that these analyses put too much emphasis on the Panzer and PG divisions and don't include enough of the infantry divisions. The critics also think that they under valued the advantages of the defensive, especially in rough terrain and over valued air power. In my opinion, the whole Wehrmacht superiority thing is a myth.
    But that doesn't mean that U.S. tank design was as good as it could have been. ;)
     
  16. toshiro

    toshiro New Member

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    smeghead,

    I wouldn't use desert kills/losses in your figures. Your analysis is trying to compare the common main/heavy battle tanks for nationalities of the time. The desert was a mess for armor. The Mark IIIJ reigned supreme (a 50mm tank!) at a time when it was becoming obsolete on the Eastern Front. The Brits used the Crusader -- a complete piece of junk.

    On a seperate tack, keep in mind that air power was a big part of the tactical ground warfare. Typhoons and P-47s took out a lot of German AFVs. No need to go head to head if you could call in an airstrike.

    I think all of the powers that fought --Germany, Russia, Britain, US were taken by surprise by technology at one point or another...but in the meantime the fight doesn't stop. You have to keep trucking with the hardware you have in the field as best as possible.
     
  17. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    I didn't mean to make any comments about the quality of tehcnology between the respective combatants... I simply meant to try and determine exactly how much armor was lost on the respective fronts of ww2... While estimates tend to differ somewhat (especially concerning German armor losses), It does not appear that much more than ~5,000 of Germany's 50,000 produced tanks were knocked out in the West...

    Of what I've read, estimates for German AFV losses in respective theatres never exceed...
    ~280 tanks written off in Poland
    ~840 in France
    ~1500 in North Africa + Italy
    ~2000 in Normandy/Western Europe

    The rest were swallowed up in Russia... And Norway!!!

    With the exceptions of France and Poland, these estimates are pretty much every last German AFV deployed in those theatres... Armor in WW2 had VERY high attrittion rates, especially amongts the Germans and Russians.
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    It's OK everyone! The dead horse has been flogged :D

    .

    Did they? Exactly how many AFV's were destroyed by air?
    There has been much discussion in this forum as to just how ineffective Air-to-Ground ordinance was in WW2. The technology in rocket and bomb delivery, while powerful, was simply not precise enouch to hit a tank size target from even a short distance... Air power was a big part of the strategic ground war, but as far as tactially eliminating ground forces it was not very useful...

    This is particularily apparrent in the Desert War. Even with the allies having almost complete air supremacy, Rommel was able to hold down the Allies with just two tank divisions for two years. Eventually he was defeated, as his forces were bled white, and he was unable to reinforce them, due to Allied air supremacy in the Mediterranean, which prevented the passage of men and materials by sea/air... But when it came to physically destroying Rommel's army, that task fell to the British Army, and her allies.... Not to the RAF or the USAF, even despite the favourable desert terrain they were simply unable to inflict precise attakcs on the ground...

    The primary value of air supremacy in WW2 was not to 'destroy AFV's', but to prevent the movement of ground forces (during daylight) and to restrict the enemy's logistic capabilities... (also see Western Europe 1944)

    Theres a better explanation in the "Air Warfare" section, but you can bet that the vast majority of AFV's were destroyed by ground forces...
     
  18. FNG phpbb3

    FNG phpbb3 New Member

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    I agree that the desert air force did little to rommels armour despite having a free hand for a lot of the time.

    What it did was restrict daylight movement and destroy soft skinned vehicles carrying important logistics and commanders.

    FNG
     
  19. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    Smeg,

    I think your 2,000 for Normandy/North West Europe is way off. The Germans had some 2,000 in Western Europe on D-Day and by all accounts almost all of these were lost by the beginning of September. The Germans then took heavy losses (inlcuding armor) during the Lorraine campaign when the new Panzer Brigades were smashed in a poorly concieved attack. More were lost around Aachen, and in stopping Market-Garden and in the Hurtgen. Estimated losses for the Bulge and Nordwind were about another 1,000 and then more were lost in the general collapse of March April 1945.
     
  20. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    It has been stated in this thread that the US doctrine emphasising explotation and pursuit as armor's role was "pure Guderian", apparently meaning standard German panzer doctrine. This was most definitely not the case, as the Germans saw the Panzertruppen as the hiers of the WWI Stosstruppen, not the cavalry. The panzer divisions were designed as balanced, mechanized/motorized forces capable of all missions. The Germans had planned for, and routinely used the panzer divisions in assault, defense, explotation and pursuit roles. The US Army's Armored doctrine in contrast, saw breakthrough assault as an infantry and artillery responsibility and had no defensive role for the armored force. Since assault and defense, including anti-tank, were secondary missions, US tank design did not place a high value heavy armor or high velocity tank killing guns.
     

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