Panther and Tiger, designed by the Allies....

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Lucky13, Sep 6, 2014.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    How would the Allies have designed the Panther and Tiger?
    I'm sure that when they got their hands on them and studied them, they thought 'we would have done this differently'....or?
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    #2 Shortround6, Sep 6, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2014
    For the British:

    a39-tortoise-tank-running_pics201-20132.jpg

    Black_Prince_tank.jpg

    sanity prevailed and

    cent_mk1_001.jpg

    For the US, we started with this BEFORE the Tiger was known.

    usht-T1E3.jpg

    It was dropped and after bouncing a few times and the Tiger and Panther became known it was replaced by this too late to see action;

    T29.Fort_Knox.0007x8yr.jpg

    Take an M-26 and widen it a bit and stretch it by two road wheel stations.

    "we will see your 88mm and raise you to a 105mm, nah-nah!"

    and if a 105 wasn't enough, there were versions with 120mm and 155 guns.

    US_Ft_Knox_07.jpg

    Please note that this was a gun and NOT a howitzer.

    Of course the fact that all/most of these guns needed two loaders (at least) and the shell and cartridge were loaded separately tended to slow the rate of fire waaaaaaay down.
     
  3. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The two nations that led in tank development , USSR and germany had priceless advantages mostly in engine development....power, reliability, safety, weight were all to their advantage.

    However whilst the panther was a basically sound concept, along the lines of a heavy-ish MBT the tiger concept was a strategic blind alley. Other nations more or less experimented with the concept and dropped it post war , recognizing the bogus "advantages" that foisted on those nations that had decided to try and make it work. pretty rapidly it was realized that the cost and the lack of mobility for these behemoths was a waste of time and money. That was the main reason why the Tortoise was dropped. It did not fit the satandards required for an attacking army such as the allies were in 1944-5.

    had the british began their tank development earlier and in a more rational way, it would not have been Black prince or tortoise that led them into battle in 1944. It would have been upsized Comets, and Centurions, and both of these were fully the equal of the panther.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Soviet Union did not think so. KV and IS series heavy tanks were designed for battlefield roles similar to German Tiger tank.
     
  5. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    The IS and KV were as heavy as the Panther, the Tiger was heavier than anything fielded by anyone else.
     
  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The IS and KV were limited by the drive train.

    The Russians had tried the T-35 series and combat trialed the SMK/T-100 multi turret tanks. Even with a 500hp diesel you can only make a tank so heavy with a 4 speed gear box. They later went to 5 speed but mobility (speed) of the KV series was poor.
    So poor that in late 1942 they reversed the up armoring program and built over 1300 thinner armored but faster KV-1S tanks.

    With more gears you can build a heavier vehicle using the same power, especially if you can actually shift gears while the vehicle is moving :)

    A lot of the heavy tanks were never intended to be used as general purpose battlefield tanks or heavy cruisers or pick a term. They were intended for set piece break though battles of heavily defended positions, once the breach had been made by the heavies the regular medium and light tanks were to conduct the "breakout" and penetration of rear areas and large encirclement. A lot of the later American thoughts (after the initial M-6 but including reworked M-6 tanks) were coming up with ways to attack the Siegfried line with a minimum of casualties. Projects for the invasion of Japan also included heavy tanks rather than mediums to deal with heavy bunkers.

    The evolution of the "heavy" tank changed a bit from the 30s to the 50s as advances in both drive lines and armament were made. Now that we have 1000-1500hp engines and good transmissions 60+ ton tanks are "standard" :)
     
  7. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    of course as technology advances, and the cost of producing these tanks becomes more manageable, what was once in the category of a "Heavy tank" would now qualify as an MBT. A T-62 weighs in at 42 tons, which in WWII put it in the size category of a heavy tank, but it was anything but a heavy tank. Its power to weight mobility, overall light armouring scheme puts it in the category of breakthrough tank, but its armament puts it into the category of a battle tank. It was an allrounder tank, with adequate capability in all areas.

    A heavy tank generally sacrifices one or more essential characteristics to gain advantages elsewhere. In general they have two of the three main characteristics....armour and armament but lose out in mobility. They are usually costly to build as an added disincentive. The heavy demands they place on the procurement machine limits their numbers, and they are limited in the responses they can deliver. You cant fight a war with one arm tied behind your back, even if the one remaining good arm is as buff as you can make it. That's why MBTs....all round solutions to a difficult problem, remain very much alive, whilst heavy tanks are dead and buried as a concept.
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    We are getting a bit off topic as post war heavy tanks began to have a different function/role than war time heavy tanks. The Post war Heavy tanks (of which there were basically 3) became long range anti-tank support machines. Sit behind the front line of medium/MBTs and pick off enemy tanks at a longer range using a larger gun than the medium/MBTs mounted and engage the enemy heavy support tanks. In the west at least the Heavy tanks were NOT made in the numbers that would allow them to lead an attack despite their heavier armor.
    With the coming of better ammo for the medium tank guns and better fire control systems, allowing the mediums to engage at longer ranges the need for the heavy support tanks faded out. Some other countries being a bit slow to adapt APDS ammo (or getting to work to their satisfaction) Of course more powerful medium tank guns called for the "medium" tanks to be up armored to stand a decent chance of survival although a few countries tried reverting to mobility (speed) as protection.
    The T-62 had a couple of problems if it tried to perform like a WW II heavy tank. Like 15mm thick lower hull armor (between/behind the road wheels) and a 46mm vertical rear hull. Relatively light weapons could knock it out from the flank or rear. It was also a victim of better ammunition. By the time it was going into wide spread service (or offered for export) better ammo for the T-55's 100mm gun had reduced the need for the 115mm gun. Much like the adoption of the British 105mm gun had reduced teh need for the 120mm guns in the American M-103 and British Conqueror heavy tanks. The 120's may have had a place supporting 20pdr and 90mm armed tanks but 105mm gun left them with little real advantage and some disadvantages.

    The Tiger I may have an bit of a tarnished reputation because it may have been misused. IF it was intended to be a break though tank ( different from a breakout tank) and was used for deep penetrations or as a "fire brigade" to rush from one trouble spot to another due to a lack of regular tanks it's short range and mechanical problems are going to show up more than if it had been held to it's intended role.
    The Tiger II gets no such pass as by the time it shows up the Germans were well aware of the change in circumstances they were fighting under.

    Youtube video of a Churchill tank and Challenger II running together.

    http://video.search.yahoo.com/video...&turl=http://ts4.mm.bing.net/th?id=VN.6080103

    Modern power packs have allowed the combination of firepower, protection and mobility to be combined in one tank, at the cost of over 60 tons.
     
  9. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    modern armour is different in terms of assigned role for heavy tanks. I agree completely. however, the instances of heavy tanks being used in the way intended are few and far between.

    Insofar as tigers were concerned, it was always expected that they would run around the battlefield and it was in this area they fell down badly. East front particularly there were always massed breakthroughs by Russian tanks that simply kept moving until they could move no more . this took a pretty frightful toll on soviet tank formations, but it also completely dislocated German defences. Typically Soviet penetrations were in the 250-300 km range, Tigers had an operational range of 120km, max. More than often they would get left behind and forced to be abandoned for lack of fuel.

    If the allies had had tigers in their TOE, they could not easily take part in the amphibious assaults that were part of more or less routine operations. Crossing wrecked bridges, ARV operation would all have been a nightmare for the allies. Short range would preclude deep penetration breakthroughs. The allies would have ben forced into a stand up slugfest with the unmotorised heer formations, something that played to their best strengths by late war. successful operations for the allies was all about mobility and light to medium weight, to allow maximum dislocation of enemy fixede positions and static lines
     
  10. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    We have to be careful of what we mean when we say mobility. In post war trials in Germany the Tortoise proved to be as able to travel over terrain as a Centurion, could stand up to almost anything fired at it and destroy any other vehicle and was reliable to boot, if slow. So its mobility allowed it to travel across the ground as well as any other tank. However, the lack of capable bridges made any tactical move of more than 20km a nightmare as all moves had to be planned around the few German bridges that could take the weight, never mind that any, or all, of these could have been destroyed by the enemy. Hence, in effective military terms it had no mobility. In mechanical terms it had adequate mobility.
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    From Wiki so usual disclaimers :)

    "While initially the Soviets made a lot of poor defense decisions, worsened by recent "cleansings" of Soviet military command, the KV-1 was unlike anything the German army had expected to encounter, and some of the battles against numerically superior Axis forces became legendary. Even though the operations of the KV family of tanks were severely hampered by restrictions due to its weight, it was a fearsome and formidable weapon through most of the Second World War."

    "The IS-2 tank first saw combat in early 1944. IS-2s were assigned to separate heavy tank regiments, normally of 21 tanks each.[14] These regiments were used to reinforce the most important attack sectors during major offensive operations. Tactically, they were employed as breakthrough tanks. Their role was to support infantry in the assault, using their large guns to destroy bunkers, buildings, dug-in crew-served weapons, and other 'soft' targets. They were also capable of taking on any German AFVs if required. Once a breakthrough was achieved, lighter, more mobile T-34s would take over the exploitation."

    This may not be correct but there was a difference between a "breakthrough" tank and a "breakout or exploitation" Tank. While the British didn't build any production tanks over 40 tons or so in WW II they most definitely had "breakthrough" (infantry) tanks and "breakout or exploitation" (cruiser) tanks.
    The size of the British "heavy" tanks wasn't restricted so much by tactical brilliance of the British military but by Britain having one of the most antiquated and restrictive Railroad lading gauges (allowable size of objects on railcars) of any European nation.

    This "idea" of "Breakthrough" tanks was popular in many countries in the late 30s when any future war was often in-visioned as a replay of WW I.

    The US got lucky in that it's late 1930s "Breakthrough" tank
    View attachment 271753
    View attachment 271754
    was able to be modified (or drive and suspension borrowed) for the M3 and M4 mediums saving much time and trouble. Please note the angled plates on the rear fenders that allowed the reward facing machine guns in the sponsons to ricochet fire down into trenches.

    from the Wiki entry on the French Char B1

    "The similarity resulted partly from the fact that the Char B1 was a specialised offensive weapon, a break-through tank optimised for punching a hole into strong defensive entrenchments, so it was designed with good trench-crossing capabilities. The French Army thought that dislodging the enemy from a key front sector would decide a campaign, and it prided itself on being the only army in the world having a sufficient number of adequately protected heavy tanks. The exploitation phase of a battle was seen as secondary and best carried out by controlled and methodical movement to ensure superiority in numbers, so for the heavy tanks also mobility was of secondary concern. Although the Char B1 had for the time of its conception a good speed, no serious efforts were made to improve it when much faster tanks appeared."

    And

    "More important than the tank's limitations in tactical mobility, though, were its limitations in strategic mobility. The low practical range implied the need to refuel very often, limiting its operational capabilities. This again implied that the armoured divisions of the Infantry, the Divisions Cuirassées de Réserve, were—despite their name that merely reflected the fact that they had originally been planned to be raised in a secondary mobilisation—not very effective as a mobile reserve and thus lacked strategic flexibility."

    Germans were impressed with the Char B1 when it was used in combat though.
    French did have the same problem the Germans did with tank production though. " Although the French expenditure on tanks was relatively larger than the German, France simply lacked the production capacity to build a sufficient number of heavier tanks. The Char B1 was expensive enough as it was, eating up half of the infantry tank budget."

    Cavalry tanks were in a different budget and again show that the major powers had the idea that one tank could NOT do it all.

    The Tiger was coming at the end of a series of progressively heavier prototypes, the last round of which were ordered before operation Barbarossa started. Once teh Germans encountered the KV series and T-34 in numbers the Tiger was the only real game in town. Throw it out and start over with many months delay (if not a year or more).
    Tiger started production 4-5 months before the Panther and the early Panther production was slow and of dubious quality due the rush put on it.

    The Tiger was far from ideal in a number of respects but criticizing it because it was NOT what we would now call an MBT doesn't seem quite fair. German's tactical/strategic situation had changed from the initial design period to the time of it's main combat service.
     
  12. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Agreed that they were stuck with the tank by midwar, however, the tiger was never the success that its supporters would have people believe. its first empoyment, near Novgorod was an outright disaster, its performance at Kursk was impressive, until one scratches just a little, to find that by late July it had suffered 100% casualties. Compared to lighter tanks like the mkIV, it had a marginally better Kill/loss ratio, but this in no way justified the vast quantities of resources lavished upon it.

    It was a tank that should never have even been considered, let alone even built.
     
  13. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The Problem is that the MK IV could not do what the Tiger was designed to do, or what the Churchill, KV and Char B tanks could do. And that was overrun defended positions and achieve the "breakthrough".

    The 30mm side and rear armor was just too vulnerable to small anti-tank weapons (37mm or even smaller) to allow the tanks to get into positions that would allow flank shots.

    The MK IV could NOT be up-armored enough to under take that role even at a cost in speed/mobility.

    Novgorod was an example of using tanks on unsuitable ground. Perhaps a different tank would have done better but that better tank would NOT have been an up-armored MK IV unless fitted with much wider tracks. And how many were used?

    NO tank was so mighty that 3-12 tanks could swing an entire battle. This is despite what some Tiger enthusiasts might wish.

    While WW II tanks were much better mechanically that WW I tanks there were darn few British MK IV tanks still operational after several days at the Battle of Cambrai . This does not mean the tanks didn't make a valuable contribution (although perhaps not as great as the tank supporters claim ;) or that the the use of tanks to attack defended positions was a such a bad idea that it should have been given up.
    The role of tanks in a Breakthough operation is NOT to post impressive numbers on a scoreboard but to achieve the objective of breaking the enemy line so that more mobile forces can Breakout and exploit the gap in the line. The Tanks help by keeping causalities of the accompanying infantry to a minimum and bring their firepower (main guns and machine guns) to positions/locations that the supporting artillery cannot reach or effectively deal with.
    If at the end of the day (battle) you have not one runner left of the assault tanks but you have a division or several regiments of mobile troops loose in the enemy's rear areas the Assault tanks may have done their job. How many more of the cruiser/cavalry tanks (and their trained crews) would have been lost trying to do the same thing even if the objective was even accomplished?

    Should the the British have stopped Churchill production in favor of more Crusader tanks (even if the Crusader was fitted with a 75mm gun) because the Crusader was faster and cheaper?

    The US built about 200 of these
    LC14_r0127_12.jpg

    which weighed about 42 tons because they didn't think the standard Sherman could perform the assault role.
     
  14. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The germans undertook a number of breakthrough operations with tank infantry formations without the help of socalled heavy or breakthrough tanks, against opposition that did contain heavy tanks. Sometimes these heavy tanks caused consternation in german formations, such as at cressy, again at abbeville and several times that i can think of in the MTO, but they did not suffer markedly different or greater losses because of that gap in their inventory. neither did they suffer outright defeats, or slowed rates of advance, though to be fair there were pauses generated sometimes at critical moments in a given operation because of these enemy heavy tanks being present. inevitably, and always, it was manouvre, skill, communication, teamwork and numbers that won out, not sometimes, but every time. Germans achieved their greatest success, not when they threw their tanks into gunfights with other tanks. they considered that a waste, and they were right. Generally it was their Infantry that led assaults when on the offensive, backed up by towed AT guns that provided the firepower to knock out or at least keep these enemy tank formations busy whilst the germans own tank formations worked the flanks and got into the rear areas. when they achieved success with those tactics, they achieved major breakthroughs....and not a heavy tank, or a breakthrough tank in sight. "Breakthrough or 'assault" tanks was an outmoded concept that dates back to WWI, and even back then was a poor use of armoured resources. the tiger was simply an extension of that outmoded, misuse of armoured assets.

    Today it is different. Tanks can be used as a battering ram to knock over enemy armour, provided it has a clear technological advantage. But in 1940-45 that dynamic, as far as i can recall, never arose, at least in a strategic sense. More specifically, Im referring to offensive situations. in defensive situations, a heavy tank was an asset. Tigers, or any heavy tank for that matter, were a liability in an attacking situation, but in a defensive situation they did have their uses. they are still so expensive as to make them a nett waste of time, but nevertheless it was good propaganda to see a single Tiger brew up a whole column of Cromwells or Shermans in the Bocage. The fact that those incidents as an overall element of the campaign are irrelevant seems to be lost so often, but still, you have to give credit when it is due.
     
  15. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The concept of the "break through" tank may have been proven to be faulty but it was a concept that most major armies of the time subscribed to.
    Part of it's success, or failure, in a given battle/campaign also depends on the exact balance of the armor vs anti-tank capabilities of the forces involved. This balance could swing wildly in just a few months time.
    The Matilda could be considered a "break through tank" and it's heavy armor (The Matilda weighed around 50% more than a contemporary cruiser if not approaching 100% over the early cruisers) came in quite useful in a number of battles when enemy anti-tank guns were of the 37-47mm variety. It's low mobility and poor firepower limited it's overall usefulness but it was rather successful in over running a number of defensive positions in the early NA battles. When common AT guns went to the 75-76mm class it's usefulness was pretty much over.
    BTW dragging your divisional or corp AA guns up to the front lines to use as AT guns is a sure sign of desperation in the AT gun field. It also only works real well if you have air superiority as you have just reduced the air defenses of your rear areas (logistic support).
    If the Germans had stayed with the MK IV or a slightly improved version the British might never had had to field the 17pdr as the 6pdr could certainly take out a MK IV from the side or rear from as far away as it could hit it.
    Russians would have had little or no need to mount 85mm guns on T-34s, KV/IS tanks or develop towed 85mm divisional gun.
    Reverse is true for the Germans, No Matildas, Churchhills and KVs and there is no need to put 88s in the front line and a lot less need for even the Pak75, or as early a need.

    The assault tank was not really intended to attack dug in enemy tanks in mass formations in frontal duels , but rather to attack field fortifications. AND to use it's mobility to attack them from the side or rear when possible rather than stand and slug it out from the front of the bunker. You don't need a lot of mobility to out maneuver a bunker but thick armor on the sides/rear does help survival (but does not guarantee it) when a second hidden bunker opens fire on the tanks flank as it maneuvers to the side of the first bunker. This is one reason that open topped SP guns make lousy assault vehicles no matter how big the gun they mounted.
    The assault tank was limited use/specialized vehicle. It was often misused or more widely issued than intended due to failures or mismatches in gun vs armor capabilities of different armies. British used Valentines (a small breakthrough tank?) in cruiser formations why? Lack of cruisers or existing cruisers had such crappy armor that they needed more armor to get into effective range of the guns the British tanks carried?
    Early Churchills were effective why? Same reason? thicker armor, even with low speed allowed them to get with in effective range of existing armament.

    The Tiger had a number of things wrong with it but trying to carry the 88mm gun, heavy armor and have even fair mobility ( it was faster and more mobile than the Churchill or KV tanks) required a larger heavier tank.
     
  16. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    SR

    what is that US tank you posted a picture of? Of course its r4ecognizably a Sherman, but the detail is quite different....
     
  17. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    That looks like the M4A3E2 (nicknamed "Jumbo"), armed with either a 75mm or 76mm gun and uparmored.
     
  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Graugeist is correct. It is the Sherman "Jumbo". The final drives were modified for lower speed to help handle the weight but both power train and suspension were overloaded leading to higher than normal breakdowns. They were built with the 75mm gun because of it's higher HE content than the 76mm shell but a number were re-gunned after arrival in Europe in the hope that the extra armor would allow them to slug it out with the Tiger and Panther.

    Americans also built over 4000 Shermans with 105mm howitzers in the turret for infantry support but with "standard" armor.

    SH08.jpg

    I believe the 105 armed Shermans lost the power traverse and rate of fire was rather lower than the 75/76mm armed tanks. Only AT round was a hollow charge

    Perhaps the Tigers greatest value was much like the the Navy's "fleet in being". How much time, money and effort was spent trying to counter or come up with an answer to the Tiger tank?
    For 1350 or so tanks it may have had a disproportionate effect on the design and procurement of tanks and anti-tank weapons in three armies :)
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The US and British had designed two tanks earlier to do the same mission as the "Jumbo". 40 ton "Assault" tanks.

    The US T-14 was designed with British input

    003_bovington_268.jpg

    and 8500 were ordered off the drawing board in 1941/42 but only two were completed for testing.

    The British had also designed their own A33 with different suspensions.

    a33_1.jpg
    003_bovington_273.jpg

    By the time they were ready the Churchill was performing well enough to do the job.

    Perhaps in hindsight these projects were a waste or diversion of effort but they do show that the major powers were ALL interested in heavier tanks. Existing Technology and logistic support (bridging, recovery vehicles, more fuel trucks, etc) often combined to kill them as practical equipment but the interest was certainly there.
     
  20. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    For the US at least, the General Boards priority was standardisation. Introducing new types that deviated from the main types were not accepted, except if there were exceptional reasons for doing so. The British somewhat more reluctantly, followed suit, as did the Canadians, and as a result most effort was given to Sherman production. Ive read that something like 80% of Allied tanks were shermans of one kind or another in the front line, and of these, well over 50% were the 75mm armed variety, because these tanks were the better tank in mass production as far as Infantry support was concerned.

    It can be argued that the Sherman was the main tank because that's the tank that the US produced. I don't accept that. The US could have frittered away its production capability in the same way as the germans did and produce a little of everything, with all the attendance maintenance, logistic and breakdown issues that went with that. Instead the US settled on a design, with just enough stretchability to allow them to make it work for the remainder of the duration. And then they turned them out like hotcakes....

    The results speak for themselves. Whilst the allies showed interest in other tanks as an R&D exercise mostly as insurance, just in case the Germans, with their love of technology got too far away or too much technological advantage, but the tanks that went into battle in 1944-5 were overwhelmingly built on the principals of numbers, modest performance, reliability, mobility. And these formulae counted far more in the battles that ensured than any theoretical advantages in gun power or protection. inevitably, by emphasising these attributes in the latter stages of the war, and by not insisting on a standardised tank park, the Germans suffered in numbers and reliability, and this, from the second most powerful economy in the world, was fatal to their tank arm


    Having a common tank with only relatively few variations was a war winner. Frittering effort away on tanks like the tiger cost the Germans very dearly, and was not worth the effort wasted on it. If there was one lesson to be learnt from WWI experiences, it has to be that. The fact that the allies also toyed with heavy tank concept arose essentially as an insurance policy. The people that mattered, never allowed that technical interest deviate from what was required to win the war.
     
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