Question of the Day regarding WW2 tank development

Badger73

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#2
The three (3) characteristics @Shane mentioned are otherwise known as "Mobility, Firepower, and Shock".

Hard question to answer without 21st Century hindsight.

WWI tanks taught the importance of mobility and dependability. Whatever a soldier touches he will break, so robust and simple engineering are key. And while amateurs argue tactics, professionals give deep and serious thought to logistics. The tank one "should" develop is the one most effective and dependable for a sound army doctrine. The Germans were first to accomplish this tactically with both their MkIII and MkIV tanks but those quickly became obsolete. The Americans developed the best logistically viable light (M-5 Stuart) and medium (M-4 Sherman) tanks but they became under-gunned later in the war. The Russians had the ability to focus on ground-up tank design based on lessons learned from the Germans and the benefits of lend-lease transportation vehicles from the Americans.

So, for mobility and dependability, I think to begin WW2:
  1. The Western allies "should" have developed the US M-4 Sherman tank with the Firefly 3-inch (76.2 mm) caliber British 17-pounder anti-tank gun.
  2. The Germans "should" have optimized the MkV Panther mechanically and up-gunned to 88mm when technically feasible.
  3. The Russians did develop the T-34 which was an innovative tank designed to be inexpensive, deadly, and reliable.
 

Gunner

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#3
If I remember right the Firefly and the British 3 inch was mainly an AT gun with few HE shells that didn't have great effect in an HE roll.
The Sherman's 75mm had excellent HE rounds that were highly effective against infantry, even greater than that of the German 75mm.
 

Ithikial

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#4
I think Badger is touching on the first thing that jumps into my head on this topic and it's not something that Shane mentioned in the video - "Economy and Logistics."

- How expensive (in dollars, materials and time/labour) is it to build.
- How easy/quick can I transport the tank to where it is needed.
- How easy is it to maintain in the field; parts/fuel/ammo etc.

The Germans loved to experiment and came up with some great designs but shot themselves in the foot by having a million and one (OK I rounded up ;) ) different variants operating in the field, many with different parts and gun calibers etc. Great for us wargamers but a nightmare for any commanding officer in the field on a real battlefield trying to prepare for an operation. The Americans did have the same high degree of experimental designs but to their credit didn't implement most of them because they were (among other things) keenly aware of the problems above, and the fact they had to get them across an ocean as well. This whole issue in a case study is the timing of the Kursk offensive. Originally planned for May it was constantly put back until July which allowed the Soviets to dig in extensively and reinforce the region. The delay was all down to a comparative handful of new wonder weapons to reach the front to take part - the Panther, Tiger I and Ferdinand. All of which hit major problems, even before they reached the front in some cases, and it could be argued had a limited impact.

Granted we have 20/20 hindsight but...
Germans - I would have stopped development at the Panther and focused solely on effectively building mass numbers of these. When I know by 1943 that I'm being out-produced by my opponents and will be on a defensive posture for the foreseeable future I would want to try at least to keep up with an effective design that could take on 9/10 of the opponents it's likely to face on the battlefield.
Americans - They got it down mostly right with the Sherman but agree their Generals should have adopted the 76mm or 17pounder Firefly sooner than they did.
Russians - Perhaps ideologically and with their existing doctrine they always had build something = build lots of something. To their credit they let go of their ineffective tank designs very quickly compared to some other countries in favour of building more T-34's and KV1s etc.
British - Well they participated. :p The fact they adopted the Sherman as their main tank instead of their own troubled designs shows they were at least honest with themselves going into the second half of the war. They also realised with the combined operations with the Americans that using the same equipment would help in the long run.
Italians - Well they looked pretty. :D
 

Badger73

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#5
If I remember right the Firefly and the British 3 inch was mainly an AT gun with few HE shells that didn't have great effect in an HE roll.
The Sherman's 75mm had excellent HE rounds that were highly effective against infantry, even greater than that of the German 75mm.
@Gunner, you recall correctly. Case in point is the US 4th AD which retained their older M4 and M4A1 (75mm main guns) Shermans instead of accepting replacement M4A3's (76mm). The US 4th Armored Division was a premier unit which adapted their tactics to avoid frontal engagements with German armor by maneuvering for flanking fires instead. They benefited from battles which permitted that. However, less capable tank units suffered greatly for the lack of a more effective AT main gun. To the question of what US pre-war tank designers "should" have done, I include developing a more effective 76mm HE round as part of developing a more effective Sherman tank main gun.
Otherwise, all what @Ithikial said! ;)
 
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