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Posted: 1/4/2002 8:51:48 PM EDT
There was a documentary last night featuring the troops who went to war in Shermans. I can't decide if they were suicidally brave or just plain stupid. Under-gunned, under armoured, & prone to blow up in flame on one shot. Funny that both the Germans who fought them and the Americans who served in them called the Ronsons after a cigarette lighter. I am real glad now days the American Army tends to over armor and over gun their MBT's.
Link Posted: 1/5/2002 2:52:41 AM EDT
If you watched the show more closely you would also have learned that the manufacturers were cranking out the tanks as fast as they could be produced. Also the the Sherman was originally a medium tank. later configurations in the war gave them better armour. But needless to say our soldiers did the best they could with the best they had and performed,I feel,admirably. What would have happend if they refused to go out in those tanks? I guess we would all be speaking german wouldnt we? [usa][soapbox]
Link Posted: 1/5/2002 3:35:16 AM EDT
I think ammo stowage was more of a problem with the earlier models of the Sherman. The US had control of the skies and plenty of tactical air power. The US doctrine was that Tank Destroyers would engage enemy tanks. Germany built 6,000 Panthers and 1800 Tiger/King Tigers during the entire war. Russia built something like 50,000 T-34's. The US made, IIRC, 30,000 Shermans. So it's like 80,000 vs. 7,800...............
Link Posted: 1/5/2002 4:57:27 AM EDT
Has anyone else noticed that our military today is kind of like the German military in WW2 where quality is chosen over quanity. Do you think this could ever backfire on us in some future war or would our industry be able to kick up production to meet the demand?
Link Posted: 1/5/2002 10:44:11 AM EDT
I think the Sherman crews were probably just doing the best they could do; I imagine morale was not always sky-high. I only know what I have read, but it sounds like the Sherman definitely had its place. Like the other guys said, it wasn't a POS for what it was designed to do, namely infantry support, but matching it up against antitank guns or emplaced german heavies was going to result in a lot of fried American. The reasons I think Shermans were ok: They could be turned out in vast numbers, were mechanically reliable, quick enough and they were a decent infantry support item. The later ones had hulls that were giant castings. If you look at the tanks that the Germans had at the start of the war, they looked not so different than the Sherman (PzIII &IV) in concept. When American armor met German heavy armor, the Germans were fighting a defensive war and so they could get away with having pillboxes on tracks. The other thing is, I am not sure that a Pershing would have been survivable against 75mm hi-vel and up either. And from what I understand, the Germans had problems with spalling, and interior fragmentation in their tanks because they couldn't obtain sufficient quantities of alloying agents that would make their armor more ductile. If you're killed by fragments or fire, what's the difference? RE: us becoming like Germans in protecting our fighting men, maybe, but I think the similarities are superficial. They made their share of stupid errors such as not ceasing civilian automobile manufacture until 1943 or assuming that their medium bombers would be fast enough that they never did produce a adequate escort fighter. Wonder how the German bomber pilots felt when they were hacked down 2+:1 in the Battle of Britain? And that was against fighter armed with .303, not .50 cal or 20mm. We've made our share of stupid mistakes too, and hopefully we don'r repeat them too much.
Link Posted: 1/5/2002 10:53:19 AM EDT
bzzt, wrong- I got carried away-- PZIV wasn't at all a beginning of the war tank. Atencio, I think that re: production, I think we will be able to produce enough to win. I do recall, though, that in the mid 90s the Pentagon did some simulations of a war with China, and they got good enough to beat us pretty early on in the 21 century.
Link Posted: 1/5/2002 11:44:27 AM EDT
Maybe they weren't designed to slug it out with other tanks? Armor concepts change. The T34 tank was designed by an American, but we, apparently didn't want it then. The US was far superior in recovering damaged tanks in the field. The Israeli army used Shermans way past the end of WWII. John
Link Posted: 1/5/2002 4:00:18 PM EDT
Originally Posted By MrClean: Maybe they weren't designed to slug it out with other tanks? Armor concepts change. The T34 tank was designed by an American, but we, apparently didn't want it then. The US was far superior in recovering damaged tanks in the field. The Israeli army used Shermans way past the end of WWII. John
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T-34 designed by who?? I know that many Russian tanks used a Christie suspension and that was designed by an American. But I think the T-34 was designed by the Russians. Shermans were designed to be reliable. They started and ran when needed. German armor didn't always do that. Russian armor was supposedly more reliable than German, less reliable than the Shermans. Shermans also were up-gunned and up-armored throughout the production run, and in the field. There were 76 mm gun versions, and the Sherman "Jumbo". Not to mention the Sherman "Firefly" with a long barrel 17 pounder that the British used. The Germans were probably better a recovering and repairing tanks. North Afrika Corps tanks were killed and rebuilt regularly. The Germans would also recover, repair, and repaint other countries tanks. Their problem became that they didn't have recovery vehicles strong enough to recover their Tigers and King Tigers, except for a few converted Tiger hulls. Many of those tanks were still functional when lost but not mobile. They called that a "mobility kill". If you study WWII esp. in Poland and Russia, the early war tanks were 3-5 tons and armed with mg's or 20 mm auto cannons. Much different than the tanks that were rolling around in 1943-44. The Sherman was basically in production for the US from the start of the war. It would have been a heavily armed and armored tank at the start but barely adequeate by the end of the war. Of course the were aircraft and AA guns that could kill any tank from the start of the war to the end. You can't be armored enough for everything. I see your point in the US adapting German tank ideas, fewer and heavier. That maybe true, but if we got to war it would take so long to build new planes and tanks......... the thought is any war will be more or less over by the time replacement vehicles become available so you will fight with what you have. The heavy German tanks were often supported by far less capable vehicles. The Panther was the tank that was feared, because it did it all, heavy weapon, good armor, and good mobility. The Leopard 2, Abrams M1A2, and the M60A5(?) all have great armor, guns, fire control, and mobility. They are like Panthers on steriods. Sure there aren't that many of them, but who is gonna mess with them, knowing that all are backed up by infantry, tactical and strategic airpower. It's a package deal that wasn't offered before.....[:)]
Link Posted: 1/6/2002 12:45:35 AM EDT
Actually the Germans called T-34's Ronsons too. I wonder if the Ronson lighter factory played both sides of the street? They also called the t-34 model 1943 "Mickey." That turret with the hatches open from 1000 yards looks like a mickey mouse head. As far as modern US tanks being to technical to produce fast, I beleive the design could be stripped of all the "extras" to produce an armored box on wheels. But then again, there is no forseeable emergency where the 7000 or so M1 would be roadkill. It is the crew that matters. We threw completely untrained soldiers into tanks and lost Shermans by the dozen. Give Fireflys to Das Reich and they could have racked up huge scores of T-34's. Get into a land war in China? - Not even Johnson was that foolish. The T-34 was a couple design generations removed from the Christie design with key things missing - It is actually a Ukrainian design from the the Kharkov tractor factory. Ukrainian trackheads shout that from the rooftops. Shaking loose a few cobwebs: Germany was critically short of chromium, among other things like time, needed for armor. Speer actually suggested that Germany slow down tank production in order to produce first class armor for tanks. The generals were appalled at the idea, and high carbon steel was substituted. In any case, Russki army complaints to their technical branches about insufficent armor penetration with AP ammo suddenly dropped off in mid 1944. WAY OT: I read a web page some time ago about Naval armor tested in 1947 or so. A sample of Japanese cruiser armor from 1943/4 was tested. It was a development of the German "woton" armor instead of the usual WW1 era Vickers Hardened. It exhibited all the usual Japanese quality "defects," like a decarborized face, dirt inclusions, etc., but it turned out to be the best plate EVER tested by the US Navy. In the words of the report writer, "we obviously don't know how to make STS (special treatment steel)." It helps alot if you have the raw materials. What was really neat was that pz 2 F (?) - that little tank with a pair of machine guns with 80 mm armor that had running gear like a tiger. The US could have used a version of that in Somolia - Small, Very heavily armored, with tons of ammo on board. Who needs a 120 mm main gun for nation building? An armored 7.62 and a 40 mm launcher with unlimited ammo will convert alot of heathen.
Link Posted: 1/6/2002 11:36:16 AM EDT
Along that line, I think I read that the Germans are using a few of those pipsqueak Wiesels armed with the 20mm in Afghanistan. That would be handy for an urban fighting vehicle, but I would think that any small AFV is still going to be vulnerable to mines, 14.5mm AP, unguided shoulder fired rockets or missiles like the Saggar or HOT. US was developing that RDF/LT tank in the mid 80s with the 75mm 60round/min gun, but nothing ever came of it. I'd probably go ask the South Africans, Israelis and Russians for experience in urban warfare. Somalia just looked like a s^%**y, disorienting situation. One of my friends who worked foreign aid in East Africa thought that the Somalis seemed the meanest of the people that he ran into, and that included the Sudanese. Obviously, badassess can be shot dead, but they're a tough group, and maybe the only thing we did wrong was our unwillingness to bounce back from casualties. Maybe it's true that ome cultures respect force not diplomacy. It seems like we failed in a couple of key areas in Somalia because we weren't aware of the situation. And we weren't ready to sustain casualties, and got the rep for being a bunch of patsies.
Link Posted: 1/7/2002 10:49:38 PM EDT
Originally Posted By SS109: There was a documentary last night featuring the troops who went to war in Shermans. I can't decide if they were suicidally brave or just plain stupid. Under-gunned, under armoured, & prone to blow up in flame on one shot. Funny that both the Germans who fought them and the Americans who served in them called the Ronsons after a cigarette lighter. I am real glad now days the American Army tends to over armor and over gun their MBT's.
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I saw a show on Shermans, but most of the tankers interviewed were Brits. From the show, it seemed they didn't realize what they were in for. The Sherman was one of the best tanks when it showed up for the war in North Africa, BTW. In any case, there never was any risk that the Germans were going to come over here and force us to speak German.
Link Posted: 1/13/2002 1:03:22 AM EDT
I'll just pipe in to say that the main thing wrong with the Sherman (IMHO) was its' use of a gasoline engine. Gasoline+incoming "HEAT" ammunition=BOOM
Link Posted: 1/13/2002 5:42:34 AM EDT
Imagine being the guy who has to rebuild those Shermans? Cleaning out the bodies/burn vitims and getting that thing back in working order. [puke]
Link Posted: 1/14/2002 10:01:30 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Zardoz: I'll just pipe in to say that the main thing wrong with the Sherman (IMHO) was its' use of a gasoline engine. Gasoline+incoming "HEAT" ammunition=BOOM
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The Shermans sent to the USSR were diesel, BTW.
Link Posted: 1/16/2002 10:29:25 PM EDT
True, but IIRC, the US Army used Gasoline engines in them.
Link Posted: 1/17/2002 5:40:14 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/17/2002 5:55:52 AM EDT by pogo]
I wonder what proportion of Sherman losses were due to gasoline fires (edit)- that would not be preventable by diesel use. Diesel burns too, and ammo stowage on Russian armor seems to have been a bigger liability up to the present time. I read a personal history of a SU-76 crewman which indicated that a partially full diesel fuel tank mounted under the glacis plate was a death trap. Never sip from this tank unless headed to the rear area to refuel. Destruction of a tank seemed to be accomplished by blowing up the ammo on board - fires caused by burning fuel seem to be the exception in reading accounts of armored warfare,
Link Posted: 1/17/2002 8:48:03 AM EDT
The Sherman was a more than adequate tank up until late 43 or early 44. The problem was a decision made early in the war that the US would "win the war with the M-4". It was a deliberate decsion that the US would crank out as many Shermans as possible, knowing that the tank may not be a good as the latest German armor. The production lines were set up and cranking out Shermans as fast as they could. Changing to a different design would have delayed matters. It was a major discussion in the Ordnance Department throughout the war. There were better designs availible, but no one wanted to shut down the Sherman pipeline in the middle of the war. It was an industrial decision as much as a tactical one.
Link Posted: 1/17/2002 1:57:03 PM EDT
I think that diesel was the reason that ammo fires were the main cause of fire on tanks. It is my understanding that the Israeli Matav uses the diesel fuel bladders as part of the crew protection. Neither gasoline nor diesel is easily lit. It is the gas fumes that are dangerous. Diesel fumes present the same problem. As far as I know, the only diesel Shermans were the ones sent to the Soviets.
Link Posted: 1/17/2002 3:41:48 PM EDT
What's a Matav?? APC, Tank, and what era? The Sherman, though produces throughout WWII, was being revised regularly. IIRC "early" Shermans had problems with ammo stowage. I think later versions had less ammo on board and improved stowage that cut down in ammo explosions.
Link Posted: 1/21/2002 5:54:21 PM EDT
Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery: What's a Matav?? APC, Tank, and what era?
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Sorry, I meant Merkava. Matav is a company in Israel that is involved with the CATV buisness. I worked for a US company that had dealings with them, and somehow I typed their name and not the tank name . . .
Link Posted: 1/21/2002 6:08:53 PM EDT
Oh, I got ya. That Merkeva is an interesting vehicle. Lots of crew and troop comforts built in. Also built so that if the tank gets killed the crew has a good chance of living.
Link Posted: 1/23/2002 12:11:57 AM EDT
The Sherman was a death-trap, pathetic armour, pathetic main gun, and Gasoline powered. The biggest faults were the low velocity gun and the gasoline fuel. The German guns were hard to defend against because of the high velocities of their guns and the armour required to withstand it would have made any tank very heavy. The Tiger II's monster KwK 43 L71 88mm gun fired projectiles over 3700 fps. It could kill Sherman, Cromwell and T-34/85 tanks at a range of 3,500 meters (2.2 miles) and would still be lethal to most tanks today. Spalling is a problem with any tank getting hit by a fast moving projectile. The shockwave of the projectile can cause the fragments to come of the steel and rattle around inside the tank with claymore-like effects. I have climbed into M60 Tanks that have been used as Tank targets and the insides look like hell. HESH projo's are designed exploit this feature. The Germans lined the inside of their tanks with sandbags to absorb the spall. Here is good link on German Tanks http://www.achtungpanzer.com/pz5.htm .
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