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Old 12th December 2017, 09:07 AM   #161
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by Mark F View Post
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.
Well, it's still not a saving grace, but it IS accurate. So, sure, let's just agree that the specs were for the wrong war.
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Old 12th December 2017, 09:09 AM   #162
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Aye, the Somua was pretty good. They should have produced more of those and less R35 and the like.
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Old 12th December 2017, 09:26 AM   #163
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
@Captain_Swoop
Aye, the Somua was pretty good. They should have produced more of those and less R35 and the like.
Still had the stupid one-man turret though. Plus, it had a radio operator even though the majority of them weren't even fitted with a radio; how does that make sense? As far as I could see his only job was to pass shells up to the commander/loader/gunner, except in the platoon commander's tank which actually got a radio.

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Old 12th December 2017, 11:34 AM   #164
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
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
I'm a bit hooked
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Old 12th December 2017, 12:06 PM   #165
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Originally Posted by Filippo Lippi View Post
I'm a bit hooked
He is very entertaining. Shame about the irritating background music.
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Old 12th December 2017, 12:20 PM   #166
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"Oh my god! The tank is on fire!"
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Old 12th December 2017, 12:51 PM   #167
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Apart from a few WWI tanks, the only 'proper' tank I have been in was a Chieftain Mk 10.

I have to say that there is no way I could never be a tanker. Sitting in the TC position, the toes of my boots were in the gunner's kidney's with my legs bent at 90 degrees.

I have no idea how men manage to sit like that for hours on end.....
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Old 12th December 2017, 01:05 PM   #168
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Still had the stupid one-man turret though. Plus, it had a radio operator even though the majority of them weren't even fitted with a radio; how does that make sense? As far as I could see his only job was to pass shells up to the commander/loader/gunner, except in the platoon commander's tank which actually got a radio.

Dave
Well, I didn't say it was the bestest tank ever. But compared to for example the R35, at least the Somua didn't suck. It had a very good gun, very good armour, and actually very good speed, all by the standards of when it was built.

THAT said, about the radio, the original plan and requirement was that they all have radios. So the radio operator role kinda made sense, unless you were gonna do the even saner thing and put the radio in the turret like the British.

What happened was, well, basically the usual government screw-up that plagued the French army interwar. At some point someone decided that nah, they don't all need radios, but kinda forgot to think it through more than that.
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Old 12th December 2017, 01:42 PM   #169
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It came down to cost, same as the one man turret and lack of periscopes etc. That's why they preferred the light tanks, you get more of them for your money.
It always looks good on paper to say for example we have 2000 tanks rather than say, 500 even ifthe 2000 are 500 good tanks and 1500 useless ones.

Cold War Soviet Union worked on the same principle.

"Look at how many tanks we have, far more than NATO if we ignore the fact that we keep everything on the books even after it is more of a liability than an asset"
They even skimped on radios just like France, troop leaders had them and the rest followed the leader who could use a semaphore system and flags to communicate right up in to the 70s.

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Old 12th December 2017, 01:51 PM   #170
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If you haven't watched it already you might want to view all parts of 'Operation Think Tank' which is run by the previously cited Nicholas Moran. Quite a lot of tank history talent in that panel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oLY4FOrnjc
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Old 12th December 2017, 02:38 PM   #171
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It all came down to cost, indeed. No doubt about that. But some of the decisions done in the name of cutting costs were still pretty bad decisions. Like gimping the fighters with a cheaper engine.
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Old 12th December 2017, 02:53 PM   #172
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remember also that in the 20s and 30s the technology was being pushed to the limit.
For example aero engines were used to drive tanks because they had the highest power to weight ratio but the conditions they had to operate in pushed them to their limits
For example the 'Liberty' engine had an block made up of a number of castings bolted in line with a pair of cylinders in each casting. This was fine in an aircraft but the strains imposed by the use in a tank made them move and warp which broke the engine.
Same with stuff like the valve gear, it was exposed which on an aircraft was fine but meant it got coated in filth in a tank and ground itself to scrap in very short order. Suspension components pushed metallurgy to its limits, springs broke and castings fractured.
There were constraints imposed by transport. Tanks can't run very far on their tracks, they wear out very quickly on roads. Weight couldn't exceed the maximums of road transports or, more importantly at the time railway weight limits and size couldn't exceed loading gauges. They also had to be within the limits of engineer bridges otherwise river crossing could be limited.
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Old 12th December 2017, 04:00 PM   #173
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While that is true indeed, I'm GUESSING that if the bridges or rails could take a 20t Somua, or for that matter if they had the engines that could move a 20t Somua at 40km/h, PROBABLY neither of those were the reason why the R35 was both light and slow

Or that if they managed to put a 47mm gun in a turret for the Char B1, a whole decade earlier than there was an R35, it probably wasn't technology that saddled the R35 with that sad little gun. Plus, I mean, really, even countries like Romania managed to adapt that crappy little tank to take a 37mm gun in the turret, when the Germans gave the French tanks away to their satellite nations. Now Romania wasn't a backward country back then, but it wasn't exactly more advanced than France either.

You know, stuff like that. It really wasn't pushing the envelope of technology at the time.
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Old 12th December 2017, 04:21 PM   #174
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You get the problem of awarding contracts. French tanks like the British were built by private contractors. Those that bid for the contracts tended to be companies with not enough work on as they weren't high profit deals.
Sometimes it was muddled thinking from the design committees trying to meet conflicting demands from the army, government departments and the exchequer.
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Old 12th December 2017, 04:57 PM   #175
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That and occasionally, as in the case of the R35, the government not just moving the goalposts all the time, but running all around the field with the goalposts. The French government was massively schizophrenic about balancing how little they want to pay, against how little capabilities they're willing to get. So designers couldn't even focus on getting one design right, as the design goals were moving all the time.

And then they got scared by the rearmament of Germany, and decided to force into productions some essentially unfinished designs. Basically, stop trying to fix it, start producing it NOW. That LITERALLY happened in France in the mid 30's.

At any rate, I've never said there weren't REASONS for the screw-ups. Everything has reasons. They may not be good reasons, or even sane reasons, but they exist. If there weren't reasons, then some decision was purely random, and that doesn't happen THAT often.

I'm just, in the spirit of the thread, taking the piss out of the resulting tank. It obviously had REASONS for ending up a steaming pile of crap, but a steaming pile of crap it ended up anyway

And frankly, it deserves the piss taken even for the simple fact that such a turd actually made it into production. I mean, some brits designed a turd like the TOG, but as you've said, it was never going to actually make it into production. In France they actually awarded contracts to build their turd.
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Old 12th December 2017, 05:02 PM   #176
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That was exactly the problem with British tanks. Designs were put in to production straight off the drawing board so that essentially every one of them was a prototype. That resulted in the Covenanter that could have been a good tank but ended up being rubbish and the Churchill that was also rubbish when it went in to service and was more or less withdrawn to be worked on.
I think I mentioned that the manual has a disclaimer in the front that says it is a good tank but has teething troubles and the crews need to be patient while it is resolved.

Just for the record I think the Coventanter was a very good looking tank and if it had been properly developed and prototyped it's engine cooling and reliability problems would have been resolved.
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Old 12th December 2017, 05:15 PM   #177
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Speaking of designs going... not exactly like on the drawing board, I would like to submit the sad story of the Tsar Tank. I mean, most people know it didn't really work, but I don't know how well known the sad story behind it is.

The story being that its designer went straight to the Tsar with it. No committee or army officers or other engineers even saw it. He made a toy sized model of it, and went to the Tsar. Who apparently actually played with it for a while, making it go over miniature obstacles and stuff. And was extatic.

The Tsar obviously wasn't an engineer, and apparently had never heard of the cube-square rule.

The secret was kept from then on even from the Tsar's own advisors. Each part of the prototype was ordered from a different factory, under some bogus designation. Some were supposedly industrial machine parts, others were battleship parts, etc.

Then it was rolled off a path made of tree trunks and... it sank into the mud the instant it ran out of path.

Turns out that, well, see that little roller in the back? Due to where the centre of gravity was, there were 40 tons of weight resting on that roller. Most tanks use two wide and long tracks to support that kind of weight, but here it was 40 tons resting on just that little roller in the back. Yeah, it went into the ground like a nail.

Turns out that the designer didn't actually calculate that kind of stuff, and it being kept a secret between him and the Emperor, yeah, didn't give anyone else a chance to have a critical look at the design.
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Old 12th December 2017, 05:42 PM   #178
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Back in reality Russian steam locomotives had safety railings along the running boards and smokebox front.
On early steam locomotives (up until the end of the 19th century) it was routine for the driver or fireman to get out of the cab front on long runs to top up the lubricant in various boxes and trays.
The Tsar witnessed a tragic accident where a driver fell from the running board and was killed, he demanded something was done so safety railings were fitted and were used up until the end of steam in Russia. (It was never a problem in the UK and a lot of western Europe as the journeys were short enough to allow lubricating at stations)
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Old 13th December 2017, 12:45 AM   #179
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Not sure what that has to do with tanks, though.

But if you want a position that was even more dangerous than topping the oil, try the brakemen or in the UK it was called "porter". Before pneumatic brakes, someone was responsible for several cars, and had to run along and apply the brakes by turning a crank at each car.

Now on passenger trains, at least they could run through the train, although even that initially involved jumping from car to car, while the train was going full speed. On freight cars, they had to run on top of the train, and the risk of falling off (especially in winter) or colliding with some branch like in Will E Coyote cartoons was very real. Additionally, when they were not operating the brakes, they had to stay in crude shelters outside the train car, which typically weren't even heating. In winter it was not uncommon to end up with a brakeman that froze to death on a long freight trip.
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Old 13th December 2017, 07:45 AM   #180
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R35

Possibly the last R35 to see combat use. Israeli, Ex-Syrian, captured at Degania in 1948. It was used on the southern front in Operation Horev, 1949.
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Old 13th December 2017, 07:49 AM   #181
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Pictures are from the deployment, just before launch of the attack. Notice how small it is compared to the modified M3A1 Scout Car.
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Old 13th December 2017, 01:17 PM   #182
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I was surprised by how small the Pz III and Crusader appear to be when you meet them 'in the steel'.
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Old 13th December 2017, 02:13 PM   #183
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
I was surprised by how small the Pz III and Crusader appear to be when you meet them 'in the steel'.
There is, or used to be, an IS-2 at Duxford that looked surprisingly small to me.

Dave
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Old 13th December 2017, 02:24 PM   #184
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The small size of the Crusader struck me when one of the exhibits at 'Locomotion' (the National Railway Museum site at Shildon) had one on a low loader railway wagon, it looked tiny.
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Old 15th December 2017, 08:09 AM   #185
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
There is, or used to be, an IS-2 at Duxford that looked surprisingly small to me.

Dave
At 46 tons the IS was small for a heavy tank. No room for creature comforts, or any comforts at all really.
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Old 15th December 2017, 08:54 AM   #186
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Originally Posted by Mark F View Post
At 46 tons the IS was small for a heavy tank. No room for creature comforts, or any comforts at all really.
Or even ammo - only 27 rounds for the main gun!
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Old 15th December 2017, 11:43 AM   #187
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Or even ammo - only 27 rounds for the main gun!
Twas a really big gun.
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Old 15th December 2017, 12:52 PM   #188
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Size of ammo (well, length) was a problem in the firefly. To carry extra rounds the hull machine gun and gunners places were removed, the aperture in the hull was plugged and plated and the space created used to carry extra rounds.
They had to be taken out through the machine gunners hull top hatch and restowed in to the turret. A bit inconvenient but better than not having them.
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Old 15th December 2017, 01:23 PM   #189
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Originally Posted by kookbreaker View Post
Subjects may include:
  • Tanks that never were
Why not? Our contestants are (insert drumroll)

Soviet T-34M
Soviet T-43
Soviet T-44 (admittedly it "were", just a bit late)

American T-20 Series (T20/22/23/25/26)

British Centurion (again it were, just a bit late)

Germany Panther II

Italy P43

Japan Type 5 Chi Ri

Poland 10TP
Poland 14TP
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Old 15th December 2017, 11:23 PM   #190
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More recently, MBT-70.
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Old Yesterday, 03:04 AM   #191
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Size of ammo (well, length) was a problem in the firefly. To carry extra rounds the hull machine gun and gunners places were removed, the aperture in the hull was plugged and plated and the space created used to carry extra rounds.
They had to be taken out through the machine gunners hull top hatch and restowed in to the turret. A bit inconvenient but better than not having them.
In all fairness, the extra guy in the hull was there only because the Americans had the radio in the hull and needed someone to man it. The brits always wanted it up in the turret for the commander, so keeping an extra guy there ONLY for a machinegun would have been a bit of a waste anyway.
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Old Yesterday, 03:31 AM   #192
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No, the extra man in the hull was the machine gunner.
He was an important part of the crew, the hull machine gun probably got ore use than the main gun.
Cruisers had one, original Crusader had one, Cavalier and Cromwell had one, Churchill had one, Comet had one. German tanks had one etc.

American Shermans had the radio in the turret.
there was however provision for extra radio equipment in the hull for use by command and HQ vehicles.

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Old Yesterday, 03:59 PM   #193
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Hmm, I might be confusing it with the Grant then.
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Old Yesterday, 05:44 PM   #194
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
No, the extra man in the hull was the machine gunner.
He was an important part of the crew, the hull machine gun probably got ore use than the main gun.
Cruisers had one, original Crusader had one, Cavalier and Cromwell had one, Churchill had one, Comet had one. German tanks had one etc.

American Shermans had the radio in the turret.
there was however provision for extra radio equipment in the hull for use by command and HQ vehicles.
In American tanks the bow MG operator was officially the assistant driver.
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