A34 Comet - how soon could it have been ready?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by vinnye, Apr 13, 2013.

  1. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    I know that the Comet was designed in 1943, and prototypes were ready in Feb 1944.
    So how quickly could they have been in service?
    Historically, they were being issued in Dec 1944. and they were held back because of the Ardennes offensive.
    But, could they have had some units ready for D Day?
     
  2. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    The plan was that the Comet would have been in service for D Day. Problems getting the Meteor production line running meant that the Cromwell was at least 6 months behind schedule and this possibly pushed the Comet back 6 months as well.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    350hp engine which powered Churchill tank would work until a more powerful engine becomes available.

    I think this is the real reason.
    M4 Sherman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Lend Lease shipments of Sherman tank removed British incentive to build similiar size Comet tank. I'm surprised the project wasn't cancelled entirely. Then British tank development could concentrate entirely on the more advanced Centurion design, giving Britain a weapon which could compete with German Panther and Soviet T-44 (which became post-war T-54).
     
  4. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Roughly speaking, the Comet was 'determined' by 3 things: engine (along with transmission), suspension (type and layout) and gun (type and layout). For the engine, the Wikipedia says this:
    Looking at that, the Cromwell might be as well used during the landings at Sicily? Deleting Cromwell (the initial user of Meteor) in the meantime, of course.

    The suspension type (Christie) was well known many years before Comet was introduced, so that should not interfere with earlier introduction.

    The main gun makes the things tricky. Or not?
    The way the cannon was mounted (external mantlet, that is eating up the precious turret volume; instead of Panther, KV or T-34 'Dolly Parton' layout) precluded the workable installation of the 17pdr. Vickers would need to either build the 75mm HV (that was intended designed for the Cromwell, but it could not be fitted at the end!), or to develop the 77mm HV some 15-20 months in advance. Or, the tank designers could take a look at T-34 or KV tanks, and design a similar cannon installation to where the 17pdr would be installed.
     
  5. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    Well if we could have a choice, a Centurion available for D Day would have been a real boost!

    I appreciate that the philosophy for D Day was get as many tanks as possible landed - makes a lot of sense and hence the emphasis on the Sherman getting priority over new possible designs. But if I were a tanker, I would have appreciated a Centurion if I might come up against a Panther or Tiger!
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Could WWII era tank landing craft carry a tank as heavy as the Centurion? I suspect not. However the Centurion would have been very useful for post D-Day offensives such as Operation Goodwood.
     
  7. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    The allies had several hundred LCT's that could haul up to 3- 50 ton tanks.
    How much does Ceturion Weigh ? 50-60 tons ?

    And then there's LST's, but you wouldn't risk them in the early part of a beach assault.
     
  8. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Centurion Mk1 was about 40 tons though that was more of a production prototype. The Uparmoured Mk2 with cast turret was around 43 tons and the Mk3 which was the proper developed version with the 20 pounder was around 45 tons. The final British Army version the Mk11 which I trained on in 1975 was around 51 tons. There are no exact weights for Centurions as they were continually upgraded plus for example there were about 5 different versions of track which could be up to half a ton different in weight per track.

    You could always tell the driver out of a Cent crew because he was the one who looked like a body builder. There was no power assistance on the steering, brakes, clutch or on the crash gearbox and it took some muscle to drive.
     
  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    If they could land Churchill's (especially the MK VII and some of the "Funny's") then a Centurion shouldn't have been too much trouble.
     
  10. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    A neighbour of mine was a Cent driver - and as you said Shortround - short and stocky, now partially deaf as well. Dont know if the latter is due to his service or not - but suspect it must have been a factor?
     
  11. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    The Cromwell was meant to have a HV Vickers 75mm (roughly comparable to the Comet's '77'mm) but while the guns designers assumed an external mantlet the turret designers went for an internal one so the gun was too long to fit into the turret.

    With the HV 75mm Vickers the Cromwell was functionally a Comet even if it differed in some ways.

    Riding my hobby horse; if the UK had concentrated upon developing the Valentine for the first 5 years of the war a sloping glacis Comet could have been in prototype trials in late 1943 and mass production to replace the Valentine before the start of 1944. If the design resources of the nation had been put into it alone. They would have been the only tanks the Commonwealth would have needed. HV Vickers or 17 pounder.
     
  12. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    Yes, my brother has hearing difficulties due to Centurion/Chieftan driving. Ear defence was seen as non-macho in those days.
     
  13. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    I have read from Wiki that the Soviets sent a T34 to the Aberdeen testing grounds for evaluation. This was probably a bit late to affect tank designs before D Day?
    If the Soviets had maybe shared their prototype A34 from early 1940, the US and UK may well have been able to produce a better medium tank ready for D Day?

    I agree on both points Yulzari - a better Valentine could and should have been a priority - 6 pdr to start with and sloping armour?
    Also, the not wearing of ear defenders caused a lot of men in particular to suffer unnecessary hearing loss.
     
  14. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    I agree Dave, having the Centurion would have been a real asset for Goodwood and all of the Caen operations.

    I also think it may have made a difference to the link up operation to Market Garden?
    Not saying it would have changed the result - but may have made an impact on the drive towards Arnhem?
     
  15. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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  16. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    That is one awesome sound from a tank!
     
  17. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    That is a sweet sound from a tank!

    Yulzari, did your brother get to drive a Conqueror tank?
     
  18. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    My brother never drove a Conquerer but a colleague in local government used to be a Conqueror troop commander during his National Service. He said he could keep up with a Centurion over bad ground but you only wanted to fire from a hull down position as it took forever for the poor gunner to load the 2 part rounds so they acted as mobile anti tank guns not assault vehicles. The Centurion was a better package as soon as it upgraded from the 20 pounder to the 105mm.
     
  19. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Uh, you do realize that the Soviets were allied with the Nazis in 1940, and the Communist agents/sympathizers in the UK were active in trying to disrupt UK war production as far as possible?
    So any sharing any T-34 prototypes is a non-starter...

    Why not the Cheiftain? :)

    Th British didn't put a lot of design work on the Sherman, British tank production was on an independant course.

    German tank development had fairly solidly outclassed the Sherman M1A1 by 1943, so certainly the British considered the Sherman a stopgap measure until the HV75mm Cromwell 17 pdr Challenger were produced in quantity for British armoured units.
    The Cromwell Challenger (as envisioned) were more than capable of dealing with Panther tanks, and it's not even certain that stopping their development would speed up the Centurion (as built)
     
  20. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    Yes, I was aware that Russia was allied to Nazi Germany in 1940. In fact they were right up until the time the Germans invaded them.
    However, this does not mean that they trusted the Germans, far from it!
    How else do you explain the fact that the Germans and Russians co-operated in exercise before WW2, and yet, the Germans were completly taken by surprise by the introduction of the T34?

    Whilst saying that the Centurion would have been nice for D Day it was a stretch of what was possible, but had the powers that be co-operated with Russia and taken better note of the T34, maybe something better than what did arrive could have been available.

    I also know that the British had very little to do with the design of the Sherman, apart from fitting a 17 pdr in it. The design work I was referring to was on Cromwell, Churchill and Comet designs.
     
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