Ready for El Alamein: ideal British tanks

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by tomo pauk, Mar 25, 2011.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    As results of lessons learned from Blitzkrieg of 1939-40, you, as the man responsible for tank development, have to create the armored force that would perform admirably within 2 years. You can choose building only lights, only haevies, or a combination of both. If you want to develop other AFVs based on your tanks, it's a plus :)
    The hardware you develop is from British bits bolts only; LL tanks will come in as they did historically.
     
  2. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Indeed, those ones wouldve' rocked ;)
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    State of the art during 1942. And you get them via Lend-Lease.

    Rather then worrying about 1942 Britain should be thinking about 1943 when Tiger and Panther tanks make their apearance. Britain needs the Comet tank during 1943.
     
  4. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    #4 freebird, Mar 27, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011
    Don't worry about 1942? :eek: Heck there won't be a 1943 offensive if they lose in the desert in 41/42.

    Dave, there would be no Shermans coming during 1942 except that after the fiasco at Gazala, Roosevelt pulled the Shermans from the US forces and sent them to the British. (originally intended to go to the 1st Armored IIRC), even then they only showed up in Oct '42 in limited numbers.

    Tomo - your question:
    you, as the man responsible for tank development, have to create the armored force that would perform admirably within 2 years

    Ok, first thing I can't see that the British could do much different before July of '41, as they are desperate to replace tanks lost in France, and have no choice but to continue producing inferior designs rather than stop production.
    However in July 1941, the whole situation changes. With Hitler's attack on the Soviets, there is virtually no chance for a German invasion of the UK before the Spring of '42, so the British have some breathing room.
    The first battles of the Crusader were in June 1941, and it was quickly evident that the tank had many faults, weak armour, small gun mechanical problems.
    After taking stock of the British/Commonwealth tank production, this is what I would do:

    Continue the Valentine Matilda II production in the UK, but look to upgrade them to a 6 pdr or 75mm as qickly as possible. The bulk of the tanks sent to Russia will be these types.

    Drop production of the Covenanter immediately, it's cooling mechanical problems meant that it couldn't be sent to the desert. (It never was in combat as a tank)

    Drop Crusader production in the fall of '41, after there are about 600 - 800 built. Instead, I would convert the Crusader design into an assault gun, with heavier armour and mounting a 25 pdr howitzer. Continue producing these until there is a good cruiser design tested ready. The British have already seen the StugIII in Greece, so use that as a basic design idea.

    Instead of maximum Crusader Covenanter production, task the industry with design of a good replacement tank, and use excess production capacity to speed up the 6 pdr 17 pdr, and extra Matilda Valentine production.

    The Canadian Ram prototype is available in June of '41, to replace Crusader production I would order as many Ram tanks as possible sent to the desert ASAP. It began production in Nov of '41, and about 100 per month were built. (total of 1,950 built in 20 months)

    Keep in mind, in the beginning of '42 the Canadian Ram is the best Allied (non-Russian) tank and better than any other German or Italian tank.
    The 6 pdr gun has better penetration than the PzIII's 50mm/L42, and better than the PzIV's short 75mm, or the M3Lee's 75mm/31, even better than the Sherman 75mm. Although the 6pdr HE shell is smaller than the 75mm, it's possible to equip some of the tanks with 3" howitzers if desired. (British 2 pdr 6 pdr tank guns were designed to be swapped with the 3" howitzer) The Ram's 87mm frontal armour is far superior than the PzIV's, Sherman's or Lee's 50mm, better than the Crusaders 40mm, and even the Matilda's 70mm. The tank was also fast reliable.

    The Churchill project would continue as planned, except with a proper turret able to handle the 17 pdr or 25 pdr gun.
    (a 40 ton tank with a 2 pdr in the turret is just a joke)

    So how does this change the desert war? Without a British defeat at Gazala it's unlikely that there will be Shermans until 1943.
    The British had about 800 tanks at Gazala, of which only 162 were the semi-effective Grants, the rest were all crap. Valentines were OK, but were slow, and the 1942 model had only a 2 pdr, the Crusader was fast, but had a weak gun, weak armour was prone to breakdowns.
    That's the main reason why they lost at Gazala, at the end they only had a couple hundred tanks left.

    At 2nd El Alamein, the British had 1,021 tanks operational, but apart from 285 Shermans 246 Grants, 3 Churchills, there were 811 "crap" tanks. :( (421 crusaders, 167 stuart 223 Valentine 2 pdrs)

    So at Gazala, (assuming about 850 British tanks) I estimate they could (by April '42) have shipped 300 - 350 Ram tanks, + 160 Grants, or about 450 - 500 good tanks. The remaining 350 - 400 tanks would be about 150 of the Crusader assault gun, and 200 - 250 of the less effective Crusader Valentine tanks.
    With a superb anti-armour Ram tank a good assault gun the British have a good chance to win this battle.

    By El Alamein, (assuming about 1,200 tanks as less are lost at Gazala - but no Shermans arrive) the British should have at least 650 Rams, 250 Crusader assault guns, perhaps 200 Grants and only 100 or so of the obsolete Valentines Crusaders
     
  5. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2009
    Messages:
    3,917
    Likes Received:
    623
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Toronto
    Good analysis, Freebird. :)

    MM
     
  6. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,160
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    I think Freebird has it taped. Or as an alternative, design the new engine quickly and churn out the Cromwell. With its speed, armour and a 6 pd gun the Cromwell would be more than sufficient for the job.
     
  7. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2009
    Messages:
    3,917
    Likes Received:
    623
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Toronto
  8. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    Tiger Is appeared in NA in very late '42.
     
  9. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    Ultimately, they may not see the Cromwell at all in it's historic form.
    As produced in 1943 it was under-gunned with the 75mm gun.

    They ended up with a cascade of problems, and almost a dozen tank designs, because they were all rushed. The A23/A24 "Cavilier" development (which ended up with the Cromwell) was hampered by the specification that is use existing Crusader/Covenanter parts to ease production. The Crusader was near the end of its expansion limit, this resulted in a the Cavilier/Centaur/Cromwell being rather smaller faster, but unable to carry a decently powerful gun.

    With the main difference being that Canadian production would provide cruiser tanks from the end of '41 - mid '43 - the British have the time to develop a really solid tank, not the rushed, hand-me-down Cavilier/Centaur family.

    By mid '41, the Meteor engine is under development, the first example to be tested in the Crusader was Sept '41.

    So the specification in mid '41 would be for a cruiser to follow the Ram tank, ready for production in early '43.
    1.) It would use the Meteor engine.
    2.) It would have a big enough turret ( turret ring) to support the Vickers-Armstrongs high velocity 75mm L/50 gun
    3.) The armour should be at least comparable to the Rams.
    4.) Road speed at least 28-30 mph

    The tank produced would be much closer to the "Comet" than the "Cromwell", but hopeully without all the bad design choices and distractions (Covenanter, Centaur etc) it can be ready in early - mid '43, rather than late '44
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Thanks for the input, fellas :)
    The only objection is that I've specified 'British bits bolts' in OP.
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,770
    Likes Received:
    801
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    British bits and bolts?
    Scrap the Liberty engine from the get-go. Get Rolls-Royce to give/sell Kestrel tooling to a tank engine factory. That solves the engine problem until 1944 or so. Scrap the Meadows flat twelve as soon as possible along with the Covenanter tank. Go with the Crusader but leave the bow MG turret on the first drawing board sketch. Fix drivers position and access for maintenance. Widen hull as much as possible or build a box that over hangs the track to get a bigger turret ring so you can mount the 6 pdr with a 3 man turret.
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    That's more like it :)

    What about armament? 6pdr + 25pdr combo, or something else? Is it to late to bother with pre-17pdr 3in gun (ordnance from the AA piece)?
     
  13. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    Mmm, you did. however you also specified
    You may not know this, but "Lend-Lease" was not only supplied from the US, but from Canada also. 8)

    Lend-Lease - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    By the time the British have passed the danger of Sealion, (Nov '40) and become aware that the Desert War with Italy (Compass - Dec 1940) will require large number of tanks to be sent to Egypt, it's really too late to have a proper, superior tank developed shipped to the Desert in any numbers for Oct 1942, even if they could forsee future events at the beginning of '41.

    As for "Learning the Lessons of France", they didn't really know that anything was wrong in British tank development, France demonstrated the value of fast mobile tanks operating en masse vs slow British Infantry tanks. It was assumed that the upcoming Crusader tank would fit the bill. (Crusader arrived in Egypt May 1941) There wasn't really a tank crisis until the defeat at Battleaxe (June '41), and the opening of Barbarossa, which required great numbers of tanks to be sent to the Soviets.

    The typical British WWII tank took about 2 years to develop.
    Cavalier/Cromwell: Design specifications issued late 1940, design submitted early 1941, production begins Nov 1942.
    Churchill: Specification summer 1939, production summer 1941
    Comet: Specifications A34 1942, revised Jan 1943, production Sept 1944

    The exception was the Covenanter (1,771 made) and the Crusader (5,300 made) which were ordered "Off the drawing board" and took about 18 months from acceptance to production, but the rushed process caused an inferior result.
    (Covenanter production begins Autumn 1940, Crusader Mar 1941)

    So unless the British are getting future events tips from Nostradamus :D they can't anticipate the future tank design requirements until July 1941. At that point I would think that it would be better to modify the Cavalier/Cromwell design to an improved version, even if it would push back the start of production from Nov '42 until mid or even late 1943.
     
  14. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,770
    Likes Received:
    801
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    the 25pdr is going to be nothing but headaches as a tank gun. Lots of HE ability but the AP is only better than the 2pdr. Low velocity means short practical range.

    The British 3in AA gun wasn't much to write home about either. It is a left over WW I design and is both heavy for it's performance and a bit low powered for it's nominal length.

    While still being made in India at a very slow rate production had stopped in England a number of years before WW II.
     
  15. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    There are a few problems that I see with that.

    First, as mentioned above, I can't see how the British could anticipate the inadequate performance of the Crusader until the summer of '41.

    Second, the Crusader is just too small at 18-19 tons to support future development.

    Third, to redesign the Kestrel as a tank engine beginning in 1941 would be slower than using the Meteor which is already in the works.

    Fourth, even with an improved engine in the Crusader, it's still has the problem of it's weak armour, and the chasis just won't support the weight of an upgunned uparmoured variant.

    By 1941, I firmly believe that the British need to develop a new, superior tank rather than try to shoehorn it into the Crusader hull.

    Rolls-Royce Meteor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Crusader really can't support a 17 pdr or 25 pdr turret on it's small hull, it was tried on the Bishop, which is only about a ton lighter than the Crusader.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    Agreed. The 25 pdr could be used as an assault gun, but not for a primary turreted tank gun.
    Thats why I think the Vickers HV 75mm would be the best option, but not for the small Crusader
     
  17. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    As said in OP, you (me, him, forum member...) 'have' almost 2,5 years to deploy respectable tank force.

    I'm not questioning that. Not in this thread :)

    So my 2,5 years seem like decent time :)

    I'm don't state anyone can see future. We're discussing what could've fit the bill better.
    As for 'future tank design requirements', ticker armor, greater firepower, better mobility, along with good radios, sights, creature comfort were to be properties of any future tank. No need for Nostradamus to tell you.

    Both Cavalier and Cromwell would've fitted nicely in discussion about British tanks deployed in late 1943/ early'44 :)
     
  18. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    #18 freebird, Mar 27, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2011
    No, not actually, 2 years - no more.
    And while a tank could be developed in about 2 years from specification to production, you would have to add a few extra months to collect data to prepare to issue a new specification.
    The Fall of France was 25 June 1940. Even assuming that you started work in July 1940, you have barely two years. Any tank that hasn't been produced by July 1942 isn't going to have enough time to be shipped to Egypt (~ 8 weeks), unloaded, fitted out for desert operations, issued to the troops and trained on.

    Under your scenario there is just simply not enough time to develop deploy a new tank before El Alamein, nor have you given any plausible reason why the British would scrap the normal tank development cycle.

    Can you explain why they would scrap the Crusader design in 1940 and start over?
    Even if you were "the man responsible for tank development," you can't just scrap the new tank design on a whim, you would be vetoed booted by Churchill Cabinet PDQ.

    Your idea is to "create the armored force that would perform admirably within 2 years."
    Indeed, and the Crusader is a brilliant :rolleyes: tank, fast, well armoured (40mm compared to the 30mm of the Pz III or IV) and with the über 2 pdr which could blow through all German tanks in France 1940. Churchill the Tank commission felt that the 2 pdr was more than adequate for tanks that would be produced in 1941 1942, nor any reason that the Crusader wouldn't perform admirably.

    So again, in the second half of 1940 what possible reason can you give that the UK would scrap the Crusader production to rush into a re-design?

    Can you explain why the British would even be that concerned about 42/43 tanks, considering that in the summer of '40 defence of the UK was the critical need, and why there would be an urgent need for a fast cruiser tank in the Desert for a war that hadn't even started yet?

    ...Which is exactly what you are talking about here.
    You specified development following the Blitzkrieg of 39/40 (First British tanks in action in the Fall of France)
    Again, the General Staff looked at the events in France, (exactly the scenario you specified) the specifications for the A23 (Cavalier/Cromwell) were issued in late 1940, and the first tanks arrived in Jan 1943.

     
  19. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    The Commonwealth troops managed to got trained on US tanks in no time (despite new guns, radios, engine, transmission, interior), so I'd say a month on a new tank of British origin would've been cool for a crew that has already seen some experience.
    Saying that it would've took 8-10 weeks for tanks to arrive from UK to Egypt is way of the mark. Eg. it took RN ships 15 days to travel from Isles to Malta during Pedestal (granted, the transports used there were not the slowest available). That makes 20 days with same speed, perhaps 30 with regular transports.

    Two years to develop. 1st series shipped in August '42, Arriving in September, ready for Alamein in late October.
    As for 'Brittsh scrapping the normal tank developing cycle', you'd have to be more specific on what tanks we're talking to. The best tank Brits produced prior Cromwell was Valentine, a private project. So the 'British normal tank developing cycle was far from flawless.

    Because the tank design was featuring 2 pdr (ditching anti-personal anti-AT-gun capabilities- Brits knew about that already in June '40), because armor was of questionable thickness layout, because it was to use riveting to join the armour slabs, because it was based on premise that only tanks (out of all weapon systems) are not to be developed further, during a major war?

    That would be beyond this thread :)

    If you can see any logic for weapon systems to be equally efficient* in 1942 as they were in 1940, that's cool. Because I don't.

    *The ability to attack soft targets still lacking for 2pdr - not all tank targets are other tanks

    For reasons, see above. If you think Crusader I was that good, okay.

    One of greatest sentences I've read in this forum :)
    Despite that critical need, they continued development of tanks. The tanks were not perfect (nor were on other countries; most of them were buying Britsh ones pfe-war anyway), hence this thread.

    Now where did I say we need a 'fast cruiser tank'?? In 2011 we know there was 'Desert war', while Alamein was neatly defining both place AND time.

    That makes 2 years and, say, 3 months before 1st tanks are rolled out? With specification issued in June 1940, 'my' tank force might just cut it for Alamein :)
    (Not that those ones would be Cromwels)
     
  20. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,678
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    fantastic discussion guys, i applaud you all. these are good ideas.

    My two cents worth is that british technical failures in tank design are completely overblown. Their tanks in many respects were superior to german tanks of the period, with the two pounder argument one of the most overblown excuses for british tank failure that I have ever come acros. talk about the british army covering its tracks!!!!!!

    The real failure in British armour, was in the failure of its doctrine and TO&E. The british Infantry Division underwent just two major changes prior to 1942, and by that year was being dubbed by both its users and its opponents as the "Queen Of the Battlefield". By 1942, the Germans had no answer to a British Infantry Division, properly handled it could defeat any comparable organization the Germans could throw at it. With one proviso. it had to be properly led and managed, something that did not always happen in the British Army. As hitler said....their leadership was abysmal, the materiel was magnificent (paraphrasing)

    Unfortunately the same cannot be said about British armour formations. In comparison to the infantry, the british Armoured Division underwent no less than 17 changes in its TO&E prior to Alamein, a strong indication that something was really wrong. And still was largely a failure. The horrendous losses suffered by the british in their tank formations had little to do with poor design....if they had been using German tanks, the results would have been the same. The problem was that the Brits continued to think of their armour as latter day mechanised knights in armour, dashing about the battlefield, charging down the enemies guns, that sought of thing. This just got them destroyed most of the time, and reduced to irrelevance in the battle. Even at Alamein, I would challenge that is was the british (and Commonwealth) Infantry that won that battle....the armour simply poured through the breaches achieved by the Infantry.

    So what would I concentrate on in my preparations. Basically nothing, just get the production and output organized. then I would concentrate on the supporting elements of the Divisional structure....less tanks per div, more support, more mobile artillery, and more Infantry and heavy AT support...getting the 2pounders replaced with aproper HE firing AT weapon (towed) and mechanized artillery support has to be a priority. Making changes to improve reliability, perhaps, but not a priority there even. Just making sure the military organization into which all this effort is being poured is correct and the doctrine in their use wel thought out. Something sadly lacking in the historical armoured operations.
     
Loading...

Share This Page