Could America have used heavy tanks?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by MacArther, Mar 4, 2008.

  1. MacArther

    MacArther Active Member

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    We all know that America focused on producing more M4 Shermans that the enemy had tanks combined, but could American factories be modified to make heavier tanks? Could strategies have been devised to use them, or would they be thrown into the fray alongside the M4s? Thoughts and comments on America using a heavy tank (besides the Pershing at the end of the war) are welcome...
     
  2. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    I think it would have been a good idea. There are situations where the defender is in such a good defensive position that weaker tanks cannot disloge him, no matter how many are sent to attack the position.
     
  3. Konigstiger205

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    I actually saw an interesting top of tanks and at some point someone told a story from the war where the germans had an 88 put near a narrow road, the road allowed only one tank to pass so the americans kept sending Shermans who where destroyed one after another, apparently eventually the germans ran out of shells for the 88 but the americans still had plenty of tanks.
     
  4. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The US strategy for armoured warfare, was to use the Sherman tank used in the mobile part of the battle to "go deep" and cutoff enemy strongpoints with dedicated tank destroyers to go "one on one" with the enemy tanks.

    Obviously, this strategy didnt work out so well.

    End result was the M26 being developed and used with good success.

    Too bad the tank wasnt developed earlier on.
     
  5. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Quite right. Imagine how much better "Market Garden" would have gone if the Allies had a heavy tank that was immune to enemy AT, instead of the vulnerable Sherman/Firefly
     
  6. Arneken

    Arneken Member

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    Indeed the Allieds would be in the ruhr-area and end war.

    The tiger and koningstiger had their little faults, didn't they? Too heavy for some roads, too slow.

    The Americans could have got these problems too maybe.

    I'm not really a tanks-specialist.
     
  7. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    It would have been nice, I think, to have a heavier tank. Didn't they call the Sherman a "Widow Maker"? I think it would have been very appreciated by the tank crews. But like Arneken, I'm not a tank expert.
     
  8. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Yes, unlike the excellent US aircraft, the US tanks had a rather poor reputation. The Shermans were known to the Germans as "Tommy cookers" for their tendancy to 'brew up", and to the British as "Ronson's" {lights up first time - every time}

    The Russians had a name too for the Grant tanks they got - "coffin for 7 brothers"
     
  9. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Considering the firepower that the Germans possessed that would've been impossible Freebird.

    The German AT guns were so powerful that not even the massively up armored versions of the Churchill tanks could feel safe at 2km range, the 88mm KwK43 being capable of pucnhing straight through its armor past 3km.

    Furthermore the M-26 Pershing wasn't a success, it was waay to unreliable (More unreliable than the Tiger Ausf.B), and its armor was to thin to provide sufficient protectiong against even the PaK 40 at 1,000m.

    Also the Allies really had no experience building heavy tanks, and so had they decided to attempt this by 44 they wouldn't have been able to produce any very effective tanks, there lack of knowledge in this area simply being to great.
     
  10. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the post, Soren. Good info since, like I said, I'm no expert at tanks.
     
  11. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The 90mm gun would have meant the Panther and Tiger were at risk at far longer ranges than the pathetic gun the Sherman had.

    As for reliability, it wasn't so bad as to not be kept in action by the immense logistics base the allies possessed.

    Famous last words..."the US had no experience in [fill in the blank]..."
     
  12. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    I don't think "lack of knowlege" would apply, the British had quite a bit of experience in tanks {using the first ones in battle!}, although not always successful. The British Tortoise would have worked quite well, had they not put it's development on the "back burner". It was designed to withstand any German AT gun {225 mm armour}, and also had the powerful 94 mm gun. The problem was that the powers in charge decided that they didn't need it, so its development was slow. The difficulties that the Shermans or Fireflys faced dealing with only a few Jagdpanthers on the first day of Market Garden really showed how inadequate the Allied tanks were.

    Soren if you are saying that the German tanks were far better than Allied ones it's hard to argue with that. You are also correct that 1944 is too late to start to work on this, they would have had to identify the need for a heavy tank in 1941-1942 and start development then.
     

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  13. Konigstiger205

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    Well the U.S. adopted the numbers strategy, plus in 1944 the main threat to the panzers divisions was the U.S. Airforce .
     
  14. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    I would say the Sherman was very successful and got the job done.

    The fact it could be built in huge numbers was its good point. Also a heavy tank is a logistic nightmare.

    The Sherman was easier to transport by rail and can use weaker bridges. Watched a programme about this very issue.
    The weaknesses of the Sherman were known but their was no way a better tank could be built in big numbers for D-day. So it was the Sherman or nothing. The quality of a tank has to be guaged also with its quantity. The Tiger was built in such low numbers and was a nightmare to maintain and build.

    Yeah the Tiger was excellent but get a rocket firing Typhoon on its case and Tiger go boom.

    Best to have 100 Shermans than 10 Tigers.
     
  15. Konigstiger205

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    Well the Tiger had many problems but it was on hell of a tank and in the right hands it was the worst nightmare for allied tanks.Lets remember what one Tiger did at Villers-Bocage.
     
  16. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    The Sherman was not a bad tank; it was faced against the wrong opponents. It must be remembered that the Pz.IV was the main battle tank of the Wehrmacht up until the end of the war - while the Pz.IV was superior to the M4 (all variants, in my opinion) it wasn't such a large gap as that between the M4 and Panther.

    If the Allies had produced a tank like the Tiger it would have been great ! But if the Allies had adopted the same mentality and tactical ability as the Wehrmacht it would have also been great !

    That said by 1945 the Allied force was looking quite formidable - the British were rolling the Comet and Centurion (was on its way to battle when the war ended) off the production lines and the U.S had the Pershing, Hellcat (TD, but a great one) and Chaffee (light tank, one of the best, if not the best).

    If the Allies had the Centurion in 1944 then armour battles wouldn't have been so one side - but we can't have it all.
     
  17. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Yes,, but at the same time the Allies already had a better gun, the 17pdr. So why the Pershing ?

    The Pershing was no success, it was unreliable as heck, and provided inadequate protection against even the PaK 40 at 1,000 m.

    This doesn't define the success of a tank however.
     
  18. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    I'm not talking tanks in general Freebird, I'm talking heavy tanks, with which the British had ZERO experience. The Churchill is the perfect example of this, an attempt by the british to build a heavy tank, and look how that ended: The Churchill was terribly slow, it mounted a pea shooter of a gun, it had poor optics and unusually poor vision for the driver.

    Compare this to the Tiger which was fast, very maneuverable (Regenerative steering), featured the best optics in the world, a super powerful accurate main gun and excellent armor protection (Nearly indistructable to begin with).

    It's quite clear that the Germans were well ahead when it came to designing constructing AFV's.

    The Allies quite simply lacked the know how when it came to designing building heavy tanks, they simply hadn't spent nearly as much time designing testing such designs as the Germans.

    You do know how slow unreliable this tank was right ? And as for its protection, well again it was insufficient, esp. for the time of its design. The 88mm KwK43 could punch right throught the front armor of the Tortoise at long ranges, and the 128mm KwK44 at even longer ranges.

    Remember the KwK43 could punch through over 238mm of armor with its std. AP round, and more than 300mm with APCR rounds. The 128mm KwK44 was even more fierce.

    The problem the Allies were facing was that they had simply fallen waay too much behind in regards to tank design, so when they finally designed some heavily armored tanks the Germans had at the same time already designed, built deployed guns more than powerful enough to deal with them.
     
  19. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    As everyone is aware the military was gutted after WWI (sound familiar?). Congress would not fund any tank development after the war. The Armor Corps had to hide what little they did do as armored cars. Like much of the army, tankers had to make do. They used 1/4 and 3/4 ton trucks and scout cars for exercises. The Recon elements still were using horses on a limited bases. This went on into the 1930's. When the war broke out, the army was in a mad rush to throw together a tank. After the Lee/Grants took a beating the best short term fix was the redesign the hull and the Sherman was born. It was better than the Lee/Grant but still under gunned.

    During this time, there was a power struggle going on between the Inf and Armor about the best way to use tanks. The Inf won out and the tactics called for the tanks to be used as a gun system to support the foot soldiers. This struggle was similar to the Navy and Army fighting about the use of airpower. The tank was new technology and the traditionist did not want to change things. There was also a struggle as to the correct mix of tanks, heavy, medium and light. The Inf was in control and they wanted light tanks for recon and medium to support the foot troops. They did not see the need for heavy tanks. This is a way to protect their political power base.

    To be fair to the Inf, tank theory was still being developed. Combined arms was not a proven concept yet. There were several different schools of thought. The Combinded Arms model was still unproven. The plan was to try and overwhelm the Germans with fast moving targets. It did work but the tankers paid a high price. The Sherman was call "Zippo" after the lighter.

    There are parallels between tank developement and modern aircraft. No one once to pay for developement because we do not need high tech aircraft. The same thing was said about the tank.

    A footnote of history. The fist modern tank battle was in South American. Most of the European powers and the US had observers at the war. This war was to armor warfare what the Spain War war was the aircraft. Sorry but I do not remember the country involved. I think it was Brazile. It was watching the tank battle that lead to the Germany using the conbinded arms attack through Europe.

    I have talked way to long. This is just rolling out of my brain between calls at work so I my facts may be a little off.

    DBII
    clank, clank, I'm a tank
     
  20. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Not to forget "Barkmann's Corner and Otto Carius and his company of eight (early and mid production) Tigers at the village of Malinava just to mention another two....
     
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