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Posted: 10/9/2001 3:58:33 PM EDT
I watched a recent "Suicide Mission" on the History Channel. (my tape) It was about U.S. tanks, in particular the M4 Sherman. It mentioned the improved E8 with the 76 mm high velocity gun as an equalizer to the German armor. Based on what I've read - from both sides - the M4E8 was still a "Ronson." Still outclassed by the German tank, although the Germans could not produce enough to compete. I still believe we were behind Germany in armor design, even with the M26 Pershing tank. What is your opinion? Thanks, John
Link Posted: 10/9/2001 5:55:56 PM EDT
I think the U.S. chose the Sherman, and then put industry to work, to build it in mass numbers. We surely could have built a better tank in large numbers. But at that time the war was stil in doubt and we wanted quantity, not quality. However the Germans put out some interesting tanks..light, medium, and heavy. With a much smaller industrial base than ours. I believe we fielded better tank models,later in the war, though in small numbers...I need to do a search about this..
Link Posted: 10/9/2001 6:22:51 PM EDT
It was three times as easy shipping a Sherman overseas versus a Pershing. That was the main reason why we used medium tanks versus heavy. And the kill ratios were not as bad as some would expect because most of the elite German units were on the Eastern Front.
Link Posted: 10/10/2001 5:56:54 AM EDT
Link Posted: 10/11/2001 10:06:27 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/11/2001 10:02:49 AM EDT by medicjim]
The Sherman was reliable and pretty fast by the standards of the day... MUCH more reliable than German or Russian tanks... Patton wanted a tank that could press the attack... his basic philosophy appears to be... attack, cause a breach in the defenses and then charge like hell as deep as you could into enemy territory to cause all kinds of havoc and meet the enemy on "equal" terms....(as opposed to the advantage going to the defender) While he may have been "wrong" it was never proven... man for man, he may have had more casualties, but he also achieved objectives that would have taken a more plodding commander longer and thus, would have incurred equal or greater casualties.... The Sherman was almost always under gunned, with inferior optics and the enemy tanks could kill them at greater range...The Americans compensated through good tactics and when given the 76 high velocity gun, caused some real serious damage... The TD concept was proven wrong in the "offensive role"...although Chuck's statement suggesting speed over armor as a killer is somewhat disproved by the thin armor and great speed of the hellcat TD, which racked up the best kill to killed ratio in it's time... just my opinion
Link Posted: 10/11/2001 4:29:50 PM EDT
Plus when the weather was good, the US had air superiority which made a huge difference. If the Tigers & Panthers get blown up before they reach the battlefield, more Shermans survive. "JaBo's suck if you are German or Iraqi armor."
Link Posted: 10/11/2001 5:14:46 PM EDT
A silly example, but perhaps if you placed 100 of each tank, equal support, fuel, etc, in a combat field, the German Mark 5 Panther would blow away either the Sherman or even the Pershing. In other words, in 1943 or 1944, the U.S. had overwhelming superiority in production, fuel, general supplies, and personnel. The tank recovery crews in the U.S. Army were first rate. The Germans could not compete in this area. In 1944 or '45, I'm not too certain that longevity was a real concern to the German Wermacht. They produced a lot of vehicles, but not nearly enough, and with the lack of fuel and trained, motivated people, they were doomed anyway. I am in no way a supporter of Nazism at all, but from what I've read, the German's had some very courageous people inside those tanks. Thanks for reading, John H Osterholm
Link Posted: 10/14/2001 4:17:09 AM EDT
Link Posted: 10/14/2001 1:54:30 PM EDT
Gotta jump in on the new "best tank" thread. The Germans called T-34's Ronsons too due to the ease of blowing up the onboard ammo. I understand that the Germans fitted the gun stabilization system from the Sherman to a Panther and the Panther's gun accuracy increased by a very large margin. Even in April 1944 Army Ground Forces (the tank destroyer doctrine guys) tried to have the Persing armed with the 75 and 76 mm guns. The theory was that arming them with better guns would encourage them to look for tanks and abandon thier proper exploitation role. I'm sure that 50 years from now guys on OICW.com will argue that trying to bomb hostiles from the air without supporting ground troops is nuts too. There were only 20 90 mm Pershings - Project Zebra - that went to Europe during ww2. All but one finished the war. Losses: 1) Fireball was hit by a Tiger one with 3 shots at 100 yards. Only the first hit penetrated - through the MG port on the gunsheild. Later repaired. The next day, another Pershing destroyed a Tiger at 900 yards and 2 mk 4's at 1200. 2) Sgt Key's tank was knocked out out with 2 rounds of 15 cm HE. Repaired in several weeks. 3) One more was knocked out by a Nashorne under 300 yards. One of the rounds passed between the drivers legs and the entire crew abandoned the vehicle. The ammo blew and while repairable, the vehicle was used for spare parts. Other losses were non-combat failures - engine failures. The loss of the only Persings - able to stop T-34's - in Korea in 1950 were due to loose fitting fanbelts. A "super Pershing" was also sent to Europe. Looks cool, with a gun about 6' longer than the regular Persing. The rounds were 50" long and the gun was a match for the KWK 43. The crew up armored the bow with a chunk of Panther 80mm plate on the gun shield and a couple of 20 mm thicknessess welded on the glacis plate Panther style. THe tank went looking for a King Tiger, but they were scarce by the end of the war. Captain john Grey, who ramrodded project Zebra, was asked if the tank was the equal of the Panther and Tiger tanks. He replied, "hell no, but it is the best tank we have yet developed and we should have had it a year earlier."
Link Posted: 10/16/2001 1:27:48 PM EDT
M4A3E8 - "Easy Eight" A bandaid tank, but not a bad bandaid. The 76mm gun sported by the E8 was no match, gun for gun, with the 75mm High velocity guns used by the MkIV and MkV. It's more than just bore diameter. Seeing the full up rounds side-by-side at Aberdeen impressed me with how much more there was to the German rounds. Still, it was a big improvement over the Sherman's original main gun. The E8 had a somewhat better armored turret but its major advantage was in the 'wide track' suspension. The treads were significantly wider and that helped a bunch moving cross-country. As for doctrine, the US traditionally learns the hard way. We're a little better now, but back then hard heads usually carried the day in doctrine. Chuck's right on the money. US tanks weren't intended to go tank vs. tank. A related question might be asked by the observant dogface, "OK, if we ain't got tanks to fight their tanks, and our puny little 37mm anti-tank gun is useless, whaddawe got?" 'Tank Destroyers' were the answer, and that is another story. Almost all of the US tanks initially deployed in North Africa (late '42) were M-2/M-5 light tanks. If you ever get the chance, look at one up close. If been in one. Tiny, almost no armor, low velocity 37mm main gun. So what's the point? High speed - twin Cadillac V-8's, and a bunch of machine guns. It's the exploitation vehicle Chuck talked about. It was also easy to get ashore. The medium tanks needed longshoremen and docks in '42. The US learned fairly quickly that 50mm and 88mm anti-tank guns were going to kill the M-2/M-5, as well as the lumbering M-3. Some folks expected the Sherman to fix all that. They were pretty disappointed. The Easy Eight was a good enough answer to last into Korea and acquit itself reasonably well against T-34's and others. The Israeli's used E8's well into the 1960's. Musta got something right. Cheers,
Link Posted: 10/16/2001 3:08:28 PM EDT
Link Posted: 10/20/2001 6:35:32 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/20/2001 6:46:44 AM EDT by MTweanie]
I mis-spoke in my previous post regarding the light tanks in North Africa. They were M3/M5. These M3s were direct descendants of the M2 series but the M2 never made it overseas. The medium tank in the N. Africa landings was the M3 Grant. A beast at best. The M4s showed up in N. Africa later. OBTW - The amphibious M4s grew out of a desire to ford rivers quickly without bridges or bridging gear. LST production was never able to meet demand so the amphib tanks were pressed into direct beach assault use. The Normandy experience with amphibious tanks was a simple lesson in the simple difference between big water (bays/oceans) and little water (rivers). Those few that didn't swamp were immediately taken under fire and knocked out once ashore. Shell magnets on the beach. DUKWs were the transportation equivalent. River rats pressed into the surf zone with mixed results. Marine AMTRACs were designed for the surf and didn't force the passengers to swim as often. Regarding the T-34. It wasn't the "best tank of the war" right out of the box. It developed over time with incremental improvements. What the T-34 had going for it from the outset were "revolutionary" sloping armor, wide treads, big roadwheels, and a simple, mass-producible, design. Legacies of Mr. Christie, an American genius who couldn't get the US Army's attention. The Russians listened. The original T-34 gun was fairly unimpressive low-velocity piece and the initial variants of the T-34 were the "breakout exploitation" type that everyone else had. The Russians recognized the potential of this tank to be a great anti-tank platform, however, and improved the turret and added a high-velocity 76.2mm gun. Later they incorporated an 85mm gun. Many folks point to the Panther as the "best tank of the war." Perhaps in a tank vs. tank comparison that might be true. The reality was that the design was difficult to produce and suffered tremendous reliability problems. The gasoline engine was somewhat underpowered as well, contributing to the breakdown problems. It also used lots of gas that was in short supply. Diesel power would have been better but the Germans didn't have a suitable diesel. This same engine powered the King Tiger and was even less suitable. All that being said, Allied tankers had a lot of respect for the Panther. The whole tank vs. tank concept is a personal thing for the armor guys.
Link Posted: 10/20/2001 5:42:49 PM EDT
It is certainly true that this issue could be debated forever. The 'what ifs' prevail. I am sure the German's did what they could, allowing for the phony Nazi burocracy that dictated everything. Add to that the shortage of fuel, strategic materials and trained personnel. I have read articles about the petty rivalries among the Nazi's regarding production and who got what, etc. In short, if the right people got what they wanted, the German armor would have been a lot tougher to beat. John
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