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Old 9th December 2017, 07:17 PM   #121
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Not sure about the tank crews, but the government actually first tried to get their own tanks built under contract by American companies. Only when that didn't go through, they kinda went "screw it, we'll have the M3 then. With large fries and a coke." (Not an exact quote.)

Actually, it's not silly at all, when you consider that as I've already said the more numerous 50mm guns, both towed and on Panzers, didn't penetrate the thick and sloped front armour of the Grant except at point-blank range, AND were out-ranged by the 75mm gun.

So, yeah, you'd encounter more of the other guns, and get hit more by the other guns, but they wouldn't penetrate.

And the 7.62 cm Pak 36(r) duly noted, had a chance, but even that needed to be relatively close to penetrate the Grant. The problem is that the front glacis was actually sloped at 54 degrees from vertical, although you could get lucky and hit the driver port area where it was only 30 degrees from vertical. The glacis was actually closer to horizontal than to vertical.

Even using the cosine rule, 51mm armour on the front glacis, divided by the cosine of 54 degrees, gives you about 87mm effective thickness. But for WW2 guns the effect of the slope was higher than that. So, yeah, even the 76mm had a somewhat limited effective range.

The 88mm was the biggest threat. Duly noted, followed by the 76.2mm, but still.

Bit hard to find a primary source of first notice, but Wiki says "In particular, the lethal, high-velocity 88 mm Flak gun, adapted as an anti-tank gun, proved deadly if British tanks attacked without artillery support." It being wiki, well, you can take it with a grain of salt.
No more 36 guns on the entire continent, issued to anti-aircraft units. Nuff said.
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Old 9th December 2017, 09:32 PM   #122
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Duly noted, but the 76.2 also only got about 117 sent by then to the entire continent, which was a lot since only a little over 360 TOTAL were converted during the WHOLE year 1942. As in up to the end of December.

It wasn't as if Germany was manufacturing those barrels.
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Old 10th December 2017, 01:32 AM   #123
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Not sure about the tank crews, but the government actually first tried to get their own tanks built under contract by American companies. Only when that didn't go through, they kinda went "screw it, we'll have the M3 then. With large fries and a coke." (Not an exact quote.)



Actually, it's not silly at all, when you consider that as I've already said the more numerous 50mm guns, both towed and on Panzers, didn't penetrate the thick and sloped front armour of the Grant except at point-blank range, AND were out-ranged by the 75mm gun.

So, yeah, you'd encounter more of the other guns, and get hit more by the other guns, but they wouldn't penetrate.

And the 7.62 cm Pak 36(r) duly noted, had a chance, but even that needed to be relatively close to penetrate the Grant. The problem is that the front glacis was actually sloped at 54 degrees from vertical, although you could get lucky and hit the driver port area where it was only 30 degrees from vertical. The glacis was actually closer to horizontal than to vertical.

Even using the cosine rule, 51mm armour on the front glacis, divided by the cosine of 54 degrees, gives you about 87mm effective thickness. But for WW2 guns the effect of the slope was higher than that. So, yeah, even the 76mm had a somewhat limited effective range.

The 88mm was the biggest threat. Duly noted, followed by the 76.2mm, but still.



Bit hard to find a primary source of first notice, but Wiki says "In particular, the lethal, high-velocity 88 mm Flak gun, adapted as an anti-tank gun, proved deadly if British tanks attacked without artillery support." It being wiki, well, you can take it with a grain of salt.
That was the thing about the M3.

Prior to that you had cruisers and Stuarts charging light-brigade style at anti-tank screens trying to get within machine-gun range. This was very dashing, very courageous, and very costly.

Once the M3 came along, the British no longer had to do this. They could just sit there and shoot.....

...which is my the first phase of Gazala went to catastrophically wrong for Rommel. Only Ritchie's crass incompetence saved the DAK from annihilation....
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Old 10th December 2017, 02:03 AM   #124
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Originally Posted by Matthew Ellard View Post
I once read there was another minor advantage in front drive, "cleaning the tracks" although I never understood what this meant. I'll try find the original quote and see if I can work out what this meant.
With a rear drive sprocket the track has a couple of feet to travel after it leaves the ground before it engages the sprocket whereas a front drive sprocket you have the track bouncing and shaking off the mud for the entire length of the vehicle before it gets back to the sprocket.
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Old 10th December 2017, 02:41 AM   #125
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Infantry Support tanks had HE shells but the cavelry formations using 'cruisers' didn't as infantry support wasn't their job.
By 1942 this policy had changed but the 2 pdr didn't have an he round at all and the 6pdr wasn't very good with HE.
That doesn't make sense; other than CS variants, all infantry tanks had either 2pdrs or just machine guns up to 1942, so if there wasn't an HE shell for the 2pdr, what could they fire one from? What I understand is that the 2pdr did have an HE round, but in one of the army's more bizarre decisions they weren't issued to tanks, which would have found them very useful, but only to towed AT guns, which had virtually no use for them at all.

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Old 10th December 2017, 03:13 AM   #126
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Thanks.

But I see others have already noted the mistake.

As far as armor, it is no more unarmored as the Ontos, or for that matter any jeep in the 80's with a TOW missile launcher.

All still very dangerous when used in the intended role.
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Old 10th December 2017, 08:13 AM   #127
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Well, as I was saying, I wasn't going to argue about the armour much. If you have a total weight of 20,000 pounds you can airlift, you cut down what you can.

What I was, and I'm still challenging, is the combination of pneumatic tyres and tracks. I still can't get my mind around that. I can understand pneumatic tyres on non-tracked vehicles, but once you have tracks, WTH.

Especially since the vehicle had ended up only 16,000 pounds heavy, so there was quite a bit of reserve there below the maximum specified weight.

A spoked wheel (instead of the usual solid disc on tanks) isn't all that much heavier, and vehicles with fewer wheels had used spoked wheels before. E.g., armoured cars in WW1. Just use some I-beams as spokes, and they can take a lot of weight, compared to their own.

Or use some low rollers, like on the Churchill. If the vehicle can run with a deflated tyre, then it can run with the same wheel and a non-inflatable tyre.
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Old 10th December 2017, 08:27 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
That was the thing about the M3.

Prior to that you had cruisers and Stuarts charging light-brigade style at anti-tank screens trying to get within machine-gun range. This was very dashing, very courageous, and very costly.

Once the M3 came along, the British no longer had to do this. They could just sit there and shoot.....

...which is my the first phase of Gazala went to catastrophically wrong for Rommel. Only Ritchie's crass incompetence saved the DAK from annihilation....
Oh, I wasn't challenging that part about the M3. In fact, it was the thing I listed under things it had going for it. So we're already in agreement there.

What I wanted to do to it was keep that good 75mm gun, and get rid of the next to useless turret. If you needed a 37mm gun to guard its sides, WTH, it's not like there weren't Matildas and Valentines to keep around it.

I mean, think about it. Once you get rid of the turret, you could literally reduce the crew from 7 to 4: driver, gunner, loader and commander. (Since the British gave the radio to the commander anyway.) Add the lack of a platform for the turret, lack of ammo for the 37mm gun, etc. Then you could make the new M3 assault gun, MUCH lower profile. I mean, you could probably redesign the whole thing to be no more than 7ft tall, tops. Already making it only 2/3 as big a target even under the worst conditions.

And you probably know already is that it's not just the height of the vehicle, but also a big factor is the height poking out from behind cover when you fire hull down. The Grant had, what, like 6ft or so sticking out when you were hull down? That's insanely huge. Get rid of the turret and make the hull lower (as above) and you could reduce it to anywhere between a third and a quarter as big a target when firing hull down.

Make it an American StuG, basically. Is all I'm saying.

Basically I'm saying that by making it that much less of a target, the M3 would have been both cheaper and actually better as an assault gun than it was as a tank.
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Old 10th December 2017, 09:14 AM   #129
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The M3 was conceived at a time when multiple guns was still seen as a viable aspect of tank design - in fact the initial design was just going to have a MG in the turret. They considered going turretless, however infantry branch demanded the 37mm turret be kept, presumably because it could fire cannister rounds. Design by committee.
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Old 10th December 2017, 09:32 AM   #130
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Yeah, pretty much.
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Old 10th December 2017, 10:14 AM   #131
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Duly noted, but the 76.2 also only got about 117 sent by then to the entire continent, which was a lot since only a little over 360 TOTAL were converted during the WHOLE year 1942. As in up to the end of December.

It wasn't as if Germany was manufacturing those barrels.
And 66 Marder's.
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Old 10th December 2017, 10:16 AM   #132
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
That doesn't make sense; other than CS variants, all infantry tanks had either 2pdrs or just machine guns up to 1942, so if there wasn't an HE shell for the 2pdr, what could they fire one from? What I understand is that the 2pdr did have an HE round, but in one of the army's more bizarre decisions they weren't issued to tanks, which would have found them very useful, but only to towed AT guns, which had virtually no use for them at all.

Dave
Towed AT Guns belonged to the artillery (until they started trickling down to the infantry battalion AT platoons) and apparently only the artillery had use for HE.

The British decision making process is frequently baffling.
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Old 10th December 2017, 11:47 AM   #133
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Speaking of the M24... what do people think of the US's fascination with light tanks? I seems like - by late war - most other countries didn't use light tank formations to nearly the same degree, preferring medium tanks (Cromwell etc).

Should the US have just built more Shermans?
The United States had a lot of production capacity for light tanks and it was a heck of a lot easier to keep that capacity producing light tanks than converting over to something else.

Doctrinally, light tanks were still preferred for the Cavalry Groups (Mechanized), each Group having 2 Squadrons each with a light tank company. These units and the two independent (and inexplicable) Light Tank Battalions got priority for the M24 and most had converted by wars end in Europe.

The tank battalions kept a company of light tanks throughout the war at least in part because of lingering U.S. pre and early war doctrine which favored the fast and maneuverable light tank dashing headlong into combat like the horse cavalry of old. Mostly though, I think its because the production capacity existed and equipping all four companies of each tank battalion with M4 Medium's just wasn't possible.

By Korea of course the light tanks had been removed from the tank battalions and relegated to the Cavalry only.

British Tank Regiments (battalions) also had a troop of 11 light tanks (Stuarts), which in NW Europe frequently had the turrets removed and replaced with pintle mounted machine guns in lieu.
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Old 10th December 2017, 12:33 PM   #134
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Stuarts were very popular with the british tankers. they nick named it the 'Honey'
It was a superb recon tank and as Mark F notes they served on as scout vehicles with the turrets removed long after they finished as tanks. there were used as APC vehicles as well
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Old 10th December 2017, 12:36 PM   #135
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Oh, I wasn't challenging that part about the M3. In fact, it was the thing I listed under things it had going for it. So we're already in agreement there.

What I wanted to do to it was keep that good 75mm gun, and get rid of the next to useless turret.
They did get rid of it. The result was the M4 Sherman.

Remember the M3 was designed at a time when multiple turrets were popular. In any project there comes a time when you have to freeze the design and start production. After that further major changes can't take place without too much disruption.
What you do is design and build a different vehicle if you want to have something radically different.
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Old 10th December 2017, 01:13 PM   #136
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Well, that is pretty much a tautology, and I dare say ALMOST a truism. Virtually all flawed designs in the world were eventually fixed in subsequent versions or vehicles. I mean, the Panther also eventually got rid of most of the initial mechanical problems -- well, or rather they were reduced to less daft levels. And those too were because it came a time when you had to freeze the design and rush it into production, or get to explain to Hitler why you've blown another deadline.

Doesn't seem to have stopped this thread from existing, though, did it?
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Old 10th December 2017, 01:32 PM   #137
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Actually the Panther never shed several of its issues: its issue with the lifespan of the final drive, the lack of wide-view periscope, etc. I think they later versions just managed to prevent it from setting itself on fire.
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Old 10th December 2017, 03:11 PM   #138
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Well, they also tended to break down a lot less if you WEREN'T in the final drive.
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Old 10th December 2017, 04:46 PM   #139
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The final drive is what delivered the power to the tanks wheels. You couldn’t *not* use it.
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Old 11th December 2017, 01:54 AM   #140
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And of course replacing a final drive was no easy matter. It had to be lifted out of the hull roof. On the Jagd Panther, the main armament had to be removed first and and the final drive lifted out through the casemate.

Panther had many other problems. The fancy interweaved roadwheels got clagged up with mud and replacing a roadwheel was no mean feat. And God forbid a torsion bar had to be replaced.

The problem with engine fires was never resolved.

The main armament was a very good anti tank weapon but very long boomsticks are troublesome in close terrain.

The way panther was designed with a powerful AT gun and formidable frontal armour made it a pretty good but unnecessarily expensive and overly complicated tank destroyer - good for ambushes when on the defensive but it suffered horribly when attacking.
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Old 11th December 2017, 02:47 AM   #141
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One of Shermans strengths was the ease of final drive and gearbox replacement. It was all housed in a separate casting that could be unbolted and swapped out. Not a routine field job by any means but it could be done by a field workshop in very short time.

I would argue that self propelling 'tank destroyers' were weapons of defence and preferred for their ease of manufacture and saving on materials by a losing side. Tanks are weapons of attack able to engage targets over a wide arc quickly and more versatile in their application.
That the worlds armies build and prefer tanks today in preference to tank destroyers and assault guns bears this out.
They are more expensive and complicated to build but are the preferred weapon.
Turrets add so much more utility, that's why we see them not just on tanks but also on APCs, Recon vehicles and armoured cars etc.
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Old 11th December 2017, 05:18 AM   #142
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Going back to Polish Vickers tanks.
This is arriving soon and will be in the queue for my work bench

Not the twin turret version though.

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Old 11th December 2017, 05:47 AM   #143
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Yes, well, on the T-34/85 you had to take the turret off to do any maintenance on the suspension. So it's not like only one side had maintenance troubles.
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Old 11th December 2017, 06:02 AM   #144
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
One of Shermans strengths was the ease of final drive and gearbox replacement. It was all housed in a separate casting that could be unbolted and swapped out. Not a routine field job by any means but it could be done by a field workshop in very short time.

I would argue that self propelling 'tank destroyers' were weapons of defence and preferred for their ease of manufacture and saving on materials by a losing side. Tanks are weapons of attack able to engage targets over a wide arc quickly and more versatile in their application.
That the worlds armies build and prefer tanks today in preference to tank destroyers and assault guns bears this out.
They are more expensive and complicated to build but are the preferred weapon.
Turrets add so much more utility, that's why we see them not just on tanks but also on APCs, Recon vehicles and armoured cars etc.
In the case of Germany they were a means of producing effective weapons based on obsolete chassis (pz-38T or PZIII) by factories who couldn't produce the top tanks at that time. That was smart, because they ended up with more armoured vehicles than they would have otherwise.
This was not the case though with vehicles like the jagdpanther. these came instead of tanks. Not that it mattered in the end, but still.

In the case of the USA, it was because of an unfortunate logical think through concerning a solution about what had just happened in France, may 1940.

And with the Sherman the Americans did this part absolutely right. they knew they were at the very end of a long logistical line and they could not go back to the factory for certain types of maintenance. So they made the Sherman in such a way that they didn't need this kind of maintenance and what it did need, could be done in the field or in depots which were being built in the UK. This and an abundance of spare parts made the shermans as reliable as they were.
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Old 11th December 2017, 06:18 AM   #145
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Yes, well, on the T-34/85 you had to take the turret off to do any maintenance on the suspension. So it's not like only one side had maintenance troubles.
Well, I don't know about that. Primarily because not all the suspension in a T-34 is below the turret.

But the Christie suspension had some drawbacks, yes. These mostly having to do with the weight of the system and the amount of space it took up in the fighting compartement.
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Old 11th December 2017, 08:14 AM   #146
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Originally Posted by erwinl View Post
Well, I don't know about that. Primarily because not all the suspension in a T-34 is below the turret.

But the Christie suspension had some drawbacks, yes. These mostly having to do with the weight of the system and the amount of space it took up in the fighting compartement.
Oh, of course it wasn't all below the turret. It's the screws to get to that, that are partially blocked by the turret.
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Old 11th December 2017, 08:53 AM   #147
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Originally Posted by erwinl View Post
In the case of Germany they were a means of producing effective weapons based on obsolete chassis (pz-38T or PZIII) by factories who couldn't produce the top tanks at that time. That was smart, because they ended up with more armoured vehicles than they would have otherwise.
This was not the case though with vehicles like the jagdpanther. these came instead of tanks. Not that it mattered in the end, but still.
Germany, like most countries, started the war with a very light anti-tank gun - the 3.7 cm PAK 36 - which could be easily transported by light vehicles, horse teams or even dragged across the battlefield a reasonable distance by its own crew. As guns like the PAK 36 became less and less effective they were replaced by ever larger and heavier anti-tank guns like the 5.0 cm PAK 38 which was at the absolute limit of what the guns own crew could manhandle for any distance at all and the 7.5 cm PAK 97/38, PAK 40 and the captured Soviet 7.62 cm field guns which required a vehicle to move them any distance at all.

The infantry anti-tank gun had outgrown the infantry.

Once anti-tank guns had grown too big to be handled by the infantry it only made sense to mount them on a vehicle and why not obsolete tank chassis, of which Germany had a surplus?

The problem of an infantry anti-tank gun with enough punch to actually be useful but light enough to be practical was not solved by the German's until the PAW-600, which was produced too late to do anything during the war and thanks to the recoiless rifle turned out to be a technological dead end post war.

The tank destroyer has certainly not disappeared from the modern military inventory. Now it just mounts missiles instead of a gun.
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Old 11th December 2017, 10:33 AM   #148
HansMustermann
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Anyway, since there's been some discussion about HE ammo for 37mm guns, my next submission would be a sophisticated French joke... the Renault R35.

It used to actually carry a lot of HE ammo for its short 37mm gun. In fact for some, up to 80% or so of the rounds were HE. Although the more standard load was more like two thirds HE. Not because the HE ammo was that good, mind you, but because the AP capabilities of that gun were really that crap anyway.

The original spec required them to just take the gun off the old FT-17 tanks from 20 years earlier and mount them on the new R35 tanks, because, I guess, let's go with something that was already crap in WW1 if it's cheaper than making a new gun. The gun had a penetration (meaning 50-50 chance) of only 12mm at 500m, if it hit perpendicular.

Later it was replaced on some of the tanks with a slightly longer gun. And by "longer" I mean still a short stubby pea-shooter, which still couldn't really harm anything else in the world from the front.

But that's only the beginning of the joke that was the R35.

Much was said about the problems with having a one-man turret, but overloading the commander to be gunner AND loader too is just the beginning.

For a start, it had no periscopes at all. Both the driver and the commander had to look directly though some VERY narrow slits (to keep bullets out).

The commander had a rotating cupola, but still don't think "periscopes" or "comfortable". He was supposed to press his helmet against the cupola from the inside, and turn the whole metal thing with his head. There too he had some incredibly narrow horizontal slits to look through, so actually seeing anything was still a problem.

The driver could at least open the hatch in front of him, and just look out like through an open window when driving. Of course, that didn't work so well in a combat zone, so once he closed that hatch, he had to rely on two little slits that were to the left and to the right of that hatch, so you had to lean quite a bit left and right, AND forward in a kinda fetal position to see where you're going at all. You were sitting on the floor, with your knees in front of your chest for your feet to be on the pedals, so, yeah, you better be flexible if you want to also lean forward to see through those slits.

Or if you had enough of that, here comes THE #1 WTF feature of the R35: you could actually plug those slits shut, and not see anything at all any more. How much drugs were involved in coming up the idea that the driver might want to voluntarily make himself completely blind, is up for debate

It also wasn't a very good tank to get shot in, because it was very hard to exit in a hurry.

Which brings us up to a mis-conception about it. Many people seem to have the idea that the commander could pop out of that hatch in the back of the turret to look around, go back in to use the gun, pop out to look around, repeat.

Ha ha, no. Well, not in a fast and practical way. The commander didn't even have a floor to stand on in that turret. He actually sat on a sling that was hung across the base of the turret, his feet dangling in the air above any support. Getting in from that back hatch and into the sling, or viceversa, was a precarious acrobatic exercise, and definitely not something where you'd have any reason to believe that you could have the commander poke out of the tank with binoculars anywhere near a battlefield. Not if you wanted to then shoot in less than half a minute after seeing the enemy. Also, you had NO way to tell anything to the driver while you were sitting out the back of the turret, anyway, so why would you want to be there anyway?

The commander was supposed to most of the time just press his head against the cupola, and look through the slits, while turning the cupola around with his neck, while at the same time sitting in a glorified swing.

But let's get back to that gun that he also had to operate. Sure, it was crap at penetrating a target, but it made up by also being crap at aiming. It did have a shoulder stock and pistol grip, just like the British or German tanks, BUT you could only move it in the vertical plane that way. It had NO horizontal traverse, other than turning the turret.

The one thing that the R35 had going for it was the front armour, which could go up to 43mm on the very sloped glacis. Which is great if you get hit on the glacis. But, wait, you may notice... 43mm armour on a 10 ton tank? WTH? That can't be right? I mean, that's T-34 class armour on a 10 ton tank. WTH? Yeah, well, if you weren't hit on the turret or front glacis, even rifle rounds could penetrate the hull, when using AP ammo.

Which brings us to what rounded the crap package: it may have been under-armoured, but at least it was also slow. The little 10 ton tank boasted about the same speed as the Matilda 2, but of course, without the protection of the Matilda 2.
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Old 11th December 2017, 10:51 AM   #149
TX50
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Stuarts were very popular with the british tankers. they nick named it the 'Honey'
It was a superb recon tank and as Mark F notes they served on as scout vehicles with the turrets removed long after they finished as tanks. there were used as APC vehicles as well
Ahem, that's "tankies"."Tankers" are yanks.

Tankies in the desert also liked the Honey because the engine had a 16 blade fan behind a mesh grating. This would draw air in through the crew compartment when started up and kept the boys cool while other crews baked inside their vehicles.
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Old 11th December 2017, 11:47 AM   #150
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Anyway, since there's been some discussion about HE ammo for 37mm guns, my next submission would be a sophisticated French joke... the Renault R35.
To be fair to the R35 it was designed as an infantry support tank, issued to independent tank battalions which would be assigned to infantry divisions on an as-needed basis and support them in the assault (much like the Matilda). The gun was supposed to be used against machine gun emplacements, not enemy tanks and the tank only needed to be fast enough to not get away from the infantry walking directly behind it.

The gun fired the same ammunition as the WWI vintage Canon d'Infanterie de 37 modèle 1916 TRP, a very small artillery piece fired from a small tripod by infantry in the trenches and intended to be used to take out enemy machine gun positions.
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Old 11th December 2017, 11:56 AM   #151
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Originally Posted by erwinl View Post

And with the Sherman the Americans did this part absolutely right. they knew they were at the very end of a long logistical line and they could not go back to the factory for certain types of maintenance. So they made the Sherman in such a way that they didn't need this kind of maintenance and what it did need, could be done in the field or in depots which were being built in the UK. This and an abundance of spare parts made the shermans as reliable as they were.
Also the Sherman was designed to maximise production.
there were four engine versions to maximise powerplant availability. Not he logistics nightmare it sounds as the versions were never mixed in a formation. M4 and M4a1 had the same radial engine, the difference was in the hull. Welded plate for the M4 and cast for the M4a1. M4a2 had a diesel engine. M4a3 had a v8 petrol engine designed specifically for tank use. M4a4 had the 'Multibank' engine, this was supplied mainly to British and Commonwealth forces.

There were three hull versions. An all welded plate hull, an one piece cast hull and a 'hybrid' hull with a cast front and welded sides and rear. This latter version allowed foundries that didn't have the size or capacity to cast an entire hull to produce components.

Suspension was self contained units bolted on to the hull. If one was damaged the entire unit could be removed and replaced in the field.
Drive sprockets were made up from separate hub and sprocket rings bolted on so if sprocket teeth were damaged just the ring could be replaced by the crew without recourse to an engineer crew.
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Old 11th December 2017, 12:02 PM   #152
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Originally Posted by TX50 View Post
Ahem, that's "tankies"."Tankers" are yanks.
Careful with that term these days.....
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Old 11th December 2017, 12:49 PM   #153
Hubert Cumberdale
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Link to a YouTube by Nick Moran about the R35. It doesn't really seem like a very good bit of kit....

https://youtu.be/tMqbkQcDe9E
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Old 11th December 2017, 01:29 PM   #154
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Mark F View Post
To be fair to the R35 it was designed as an infantry support tank, issued to independent tank battalions which would be assigned to infantry divisions on an as-needed basis and support them in the assault (much like the Matilda). The gun was supposed to be used against machine gun emplacements, not enemy tanks and the tank only needed to be fast enough to not get away from the infantry walking directly behind it.

The gun fired the same ammunition as the WWI vintage Canon d'Infanterie de 37 modèle 1916 TRP, a very small artillery piece fired from a small tripod by infantry in the trenches and intended to be used to take out enemy machine gun positions.
The difference is that the Matilda didn't have all the other ridiculous problems that the R35 had. Even if we excuse the speed and the gun, it's still a horrible design for all the other reasons I mentioned.

But even for an inf tank, there was really little excuse. The Matilda was a 25 ton tank with up to 78mm of armour, whereas this thing was a 10 ton tank that STILL ended up slower than the Matilda, especially on roads.

Also, that gun really has no good purpose. The Matilda went the AP route, hence the good (for the time) 37mm gun. Some would say it's perhaps not the best choice for an inf tank, but at least it fit the doctrinal purpose. Others went for more inf support roles, like the early Pz.IV or Stugs, and put a gun on their tanks that could lob a bigger HE round. The stubby little gun on the R35 really didn't fit any sane purpose. The AP was crap against armour, and the HE round was way underpowered in an anti-personnel role.

Furthermore, it seemed to have missed the memo that by now there are anti-tank guns, infantry guns, etc. That stubby little gun didn't have the RANGE to engage those effectively.
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Old 11th December 2017, 02:35 PM   #155
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The difference is that the Matilda didn't have all the other ridiculous problems that the R35 had. Even if we excuse the speed and the gun, it's still a horrible design for all the other reasons I mentioned.

But even for an inf tank, there was really little excuse. The Matilda was a 25 ton tank with up to 78mm of armour, whereas this thing was a 10 ton tank that STILL ended up slower than the Matilda, especially on roads.

Also, that gun really has no good purpose. The Matilda went the AP route, hence the good (for the time) 37mm gun. Some would say it's perhaps not the best choice for an inf tank, but at least it fit the doctrinal purpose. Others went for more inf support roles, like the early Pz.IV or Stugs, and put a gun on their tanks that could lob a bigger HE round. The stubby little gun on the R35 really didn't fit any sane purpose. The AP was crap against armour, and the HE round was way underpowered in an anti-personnel role.

Furthermore, it seemed to have missed the memo that by now there are anti-tank guns, infantry guns, etc. That stubby little gun didn't have the RANGE to engage those effectively.
Not saying the R35 was good - it was effectively an updated FT-17. Just saying one should not judge it for being bad at things it was not designed to do, like go fast and shoot at tanks.
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Old 11th December 2017, 03:10 PM   #156
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Well, I'm not criticizing the lack of speed PER SE. It's the COMBINATION of light tank AND slow speed that seems to be neither here nor there. There were other good tanks that just waddled slowly into battle, but at least they had the armour to keep waddling towards you while you try to shoot at them. And there were light tanks, but those were fast tanks supposed to exploit a gap. And then there were the mediums which tried a more middle point balance, but really had the same role as the lights (in the beginning of the war), namely to be fast enough to exploit a gap, and armoured and powerful enough to support the lights against anything they can't deal with.

For the R35 the combination of that weight class and speed seems to be neither here nor there. It's like the worst of both worlds: the speed of a heavy, and the protection and armament of a light.

Edit: and just to make it clear, I'm judging it for its time too. The R35 WOULD have made an awesome tank in 1918, but mid to late 30's, that combination was simply outclassed by what everyone else had.
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Old 12th December 2017, 06:55 AM   #157
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The R35 WOULD have made an awesome tank in 1918, but mid to late 30's, that combination was simply outclassed by what everyone else had.
The R35 was designed to fight the war of 1918. It was in effect, a modern FT. It met the requirements it was designed to perfectly well. Those requirements were just written for the wrong war.
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Old 12th December 2017, 07:24 AM   #158
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Well the Char B1 was the one they should have concentrated on but it was very expensive.
It still had a terrible one man turret but it's armour and hull mounted gun were formidable.

A single Char 1 attacked and destroyed thirteen German tanks in Stonne, all of them Panzer IIIs and Panzer IVs, in the course of a few minutes.

In his book Panzer Leader, Heinz Guderian related an incident, which took place during a tank battle south of Juniville: "While the tank battle was in progress I attempted, in vain, to destroy a Char B with a captured 47 mm. anti-tank gun; all the shells I fired at it simply bounced harmlessly off its thick armour. Our 37 mm. and 20 mm. guns were equally ineffective against this adversary. As a result, we inevitably suffered sadly heavy casualties."

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Char_B1

It's specification was laid down in the 20s and this can be seen in some of its features. large tracks going around the entire hull, large armour plates protecting the suspension and the gun in the hull mounted low enough to allow it to fire in to into the vision slits of bunkers.

The best French tank was the Somua S35. Good armour and firepower but still had problems with the turret, poor vision and lack of hatches. German Captured examples were fitted with a cupola from a PzIII or IV .

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Old 12th December 2017, 07:32 AM   #159
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
[...] and the gun in the hull mounted low enough to allow it to fire in to fire into the vision slits of bunkers.
Oh, that's why they put it down there. I had wondered. Also explains why it was good enough to aim it by steering the tank; it wasn't meant for anything that could run away.

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Old 12th December 2017, 07:37 AM   #160
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To be fair it could be trained a degree or two but the gunner was effectively just a loader.
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