Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

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Pips
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Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Pips » 25 Nov 2016 03:50

The following quote, taken from another thread, has me puzzled.
paulrward wrote: It must be remembered that in the early war period, to the U.S. Army, the primary purpose of a tank was NOT to fight other tanks. This was the task of the Tank Destroyers. The purpose of the tank was to assist the infantry in breaking through the enemy lines, destroying machine gun nest, pillboxes, and garrisonned buildings, the then, having made the breakthrough, driving forward to assist the infantry, mechanised infantry, and armoured cavalry in exploiting the weakened enemy by disrupting communications, supply, and reinforcements.
...
Is it in fact a realistic view? And who besides the Americans held this view?

A battlefield is not a tidy environment, whether attacking or defending. Tanks on both sides are going to be in evidence, either massing for the breakthrough, or hull down in defensive positions. Either way they are going to come into direct contact with each other. And being the most manoeuvrable of battlefield equipment, will do so time and again.

I would have thought that tanks are ideal to fight other tanks, you just have to make sure your tanks have the gun power to take out the opposition. That's where I believe both the British and the Americans failed badly during the War.

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by antwony » 25 Nov 2016 08:04

Pips wrote:Is it in fact a realistic view? And who besides the Americans held this view?
From what I've read, those kind of ideas were pretty widespread amongst most combatants in the early to mid war years.

Theory doesn't have to directly coincide with reality and non combatant armies have plenty of staff officers, with plenty of time on their hands, to come up with theories.

The British used the cruiser/ infantry tank designations right though the war. The Americans had their tank-destroyers, the British tank destroyers were with the Royal Artillery. From what I understand, the Panzer I was only meant for training, the II was meant to be mainly for reconnaissance, while the III was intended to be the "tank destroyer" and the StuG was an infantry gun replacement.

Aren't hugely familiar with Soviet or French doctrine, but think were trying to use tanks as a cavalry replacement.

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Juha » 25 Nov 2016 09:05

Top of my head, during WWII some 65% of tankgun ammo used was HE and some 35% AP, tanks were usually used against infantry, mg nets etc, remember that almost all mg ammo went against other targets than enemy tanks. Some like Fireflies used mostly AP rounds but after all its raison-etre was to be an anti-tank vehicle, which operated with normal tanks which had better HE round for "softer" targets but lacked a really effective penetration power needed against the heavier German tanks.

Most Soviet tanks in 1939 were light infantry suport tanks a la T-26 ( copy of Vickers 6 tonnes tank) thenthere were some 7,000? cavalry tanks of BT series, then there was some 500 T-28 medium (28 tonnes) infantry support tanks and some 60 heavy T-35 tanks. Plus numerous T-37 and T-38 light amphibious tanks.
French had both infantry support tanks and fast cavalry tanks plus numerous light armoured vehicles.

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Richard Anderson » 26 Nov 2016 04:16

[quote="Pips"]Is it in fact a realistic view? And who besides the Americans held this view?/quote]

No, it isn't.

When enemy armored units are met during a march, attack will be made from march column. The tank units lead the attack. Missions and objectives for subordinate units will be immediately ordered by the division and column commanders. The tank destroyer units well forward in the column may be used to attack and delay the enemy.
Once an enemy armored force is in position to intervene in the battle, its destruction is the main task of our own armored units. The enemy armored units must be attacked and destroyed by all available anti-tank weapons, and by the tank destroyer battalion, even if this entails the abandoning of a previously assigned mission.
(FM 17 Armored Force Field Manual, ND, but c. November 1941, pp. 31-32.)

Against equal or superior hostile armored forces, friendly armored units will avoid frontal assault and maneuver to cut off or destroy armored units supply facilities, followed by blows against the rear of enemy detachments.
(FM 17-10: Armored Force Field Manual, 7 March 1942, p. 6.)

Missions of the armored division:
a) Break through an enemy protective screen and establish early contact with hostile forces.
b) Seize ground essential to the development of the higher commander’s plan.
c) Regain the initiative by means of surprise attack or restore the impetus of an attack that has lost momentum.
d) Spearhead the attack against an enemy incompletely prepared for defense.
e) Attack on a narrow front against a prepared position.
f) Break through on a wide front against a demoralized enemy.
g) Exploit a success.
h) Pursue a defeated enemy.
i) Perform a strategic envelopment.
j) Attack to destroy enemy armored units when forced to do so as a matter of self-preservation or when hostile tanks threaten seriously to disrupt operations of other troops.
k) Operate against lightly armored formations or installations.
l) Counterattack in withdrawal to disrupt hostile operations.
m) Execute delaying action.
(FM 17-100 Armored Command Field Manual, 15 January 1944, pp. 22-23.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by paulrward » 28 Nov 2016 06:01

Hello All ;

I heard my name mentioned in a Shadow........


To Mr. Anderson:

You are repeating the opinions of the much disputed Chieftains' Hatch ( Nicholas Moran ) who is an internet flack for an online computer wargame firm called Wargames America, makers of such dubious product as World of Warthogs. He has been going around flogging their games and trying to convince people that they are a worthwhile simulation of actual warfare, and as such, appears to be trying to re write history so that it matches his company's wargames.

In fact, in your own posting, you list thirteen purported uses of tanks according to FM 17-100 Armored Command Field Manual, 15 January 1944, pp. 22-23. , of which fighting against enemy tanks is down at number ten on the list, and, as it is phrased:
j) Attack to destroy enemy armored units when forced to do so as a matter of self-preservation or when hostile tanks threaten seriously to disrupt operations of other troops.
Read that carefully, Mr. Anderson. It states that attacking enemy armoured units should only be done " when forced to do so as a matter of self-preservation...." or when " hostile tanks threaten seriously to disrupt operations...."

Very simply, an attack on enemy tanks by U.S. Tanks was seen as a last ditch, last resort maneuver to prevent the destruction of the U.S. forces involved in the battle.

This is why the U.S. Army built Tank Destroyers. It was as a result of the German Blitzkrieg in Poland and France, and was an attempt by the U.S. Army to come up with a way to halt an armoured attack on U.S. forces. It started out as a theory, and the U.S. Army then came up with a Doctrine, ordered equipment manufactured ( T-12s, M-3 T.D.s, and finally M-10, M-18, and M-36 T.D.s , then trained men to carry out the doctrine, and went to war. And got stomped. In the Philippines. In Africa. And a few times in France.

When deployed correctly under ideal circumstances, the Tank Destroyers could be successfull. However, the majority of the time, they were an abject failure, either being unavailable when needed, or being used incorrectly which resulted in their suffering higher than desirable losses.

As a result of the Doctine being so successfull, when the War was over, the Tank Destroyer formations were broken up, and it was abandoned. And then a whole shipload of U.S. Army Officers who were responsible for it being created in the first place began to deny it ever existed, or that it was ever supposed to be solely responsible for defeating enemy tanks, or that they were responsible for so many good men getting killed for no good reason.

And don't let anyone kid you, Mr. Pips, there is no one more skilled at deflecting criticism than an officer of the United States Army. If you ever doubt it, just go read William Westmoreland's autobiography, " A Soldier Reports ".


Mr. Pips. you are correct, the best weapon to use in opposition to an enemy tank is one of your own tanks, provided it has superior speed, thicker armour, and a larger, longer ranged gun with armour piercing capability. In other words, the best way to defeat an enemy tank is with a better tank of your own. Provided you have one. If you don't, you are what is called ' Screwed ' .

This is what was discovered by the Soviets in the summer and autumn of 1941, and by the Germans at the same time. A tank, fitted with an Anti Tank Gun, has all the capabilities of a tank, and the additional advantage of being a Tank Destroyer or Anti Tank Gun.

This is so blindingly simple that the only reason, in my opinion, that it was not realized for so long in the United States Army, and why the U.S. Army failed to produce a satisfactory anti-tank tank, is because so many officers in the U.S. Army have what is called a ' Military Mind '.


Respectfully ;

Paul R. Ward


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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Juha » 28 Nov 2016 11:59

paulrward wrote:...Mr. Pips. you are correct, the best weapon to use in opposition to an enemy tank is one of your own tanks, provided it has superior speed, thicker armour, and a larger, longer ranged gun with armour piercing capability. In other words, the best way to defeat an enemy tank is with a better tank of your own.....
I agree with that and that became the trend after the WWII
paulrward wrote:This is what was discovered by the Soviets in the summer and autumn of 1941, and by the Germans at the same time. A tank, fitted with an Anti Tank Gun, has all the capabilities of a tank, and the additional advantage of being a Tank Destroyer or Anti Tank Gun .
Really, and what Soviet tank was armed with a A/T gun in 1941. The only one that comes to my mind was T-34-57, very rare version of the T-34 of which most people have not heard of. The normal T-34 and KV-1 were armed with a 76.2 mm gun which had a good HE round but only a mediocre penetration power just like the Sherman's 75 mm M3. In early 1944 Soviets got the T-34-85 to service, but its main armament was a 85 mm gun, a version of the Soviet 85 mm AA gun (just like Tiger I and 88 mm AA gun). Only with T-54 Soviets got a mass produced tank armed with powerful A/T gun. With Germans you are right, both Pz III and IV got long barrel HV tank guns in 1942, British followed with Firefly from early 1944 onwards and went on this patch with guns with very good penetration powers (77 mm, 20 pdr, 105 mm L7, and 120 mm rifled)

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Yoozername » 28 Nov 2016 17:42

Doctrine, and Army officers, are like the people on the sidelines of a football game. What actually happens on the field, is what happens on the field. No matter what the called-play was. People claim glory if things turn out right, and they look to lay blame on others when it doesn't.

The British were given the first Sherman tanks and were the first to use them in battle. They could not give a hoot about what the US Officers and the US 'doctrine' was. They applied them to the battle as they had before. And, as far as fighting tanks, they were actually superior to most enemy panzers they were initially up against. The biggest foe was the 88mm and they had a better chance than most 'British' tanks in that they could deliver a decent HE round directly. So, it might seem strange, but the sherman was a great tank to fight tanks with (initially). The British also had a differing view in regards to how SP were to be used. Basically, from I understand, they would use their mobility to quickly occupy the ground that Tanks had won, till the infantry could then occupy it themselves with their own towed weapons.

The US doctrine seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to the early massed panzer 'blitzkrieg' press releases. Just like the 50 cal HMG being mounted on most anything that moved, was a reaction to the Luftwaffe tactical air of the early blitzkrieg. By the time the US Army actually got into the ETO battles, 'Blitzkrieg' was a thing of the past. Most nations were fighting in a combined arms brute force mode. The eastern front was evolving into a refined warfare that had each side developing MBT with longer guns with antitank ability, and also armored versions of SP that featured longer guns with increased calibers and higher velocities.

The Germans, as the war went on, rapidly lost the ability to mass tank attacks, and by the time the US was actively fighting, combined arms including air supremacy, made the German 'blitzkrieg' a bygone concept. There is no real blitzkrieg without air support IMO.

The US fielding of the 76mm shermans evidently shows that they were indeed going against the TD principle. Or at least trying to. Again, the US was behind the ball, the Germans had already shown in North Africa they wanted heavier Armor (Tiger Tanks) and bigger guns (75mm KWK and 88mm), and the Germans also showed in Italy that they were fielding Panther Tanks (also reports from the Soviets). The TDs in the US Army were eventually just assigned in small units to support tank units and other formations.

An interesting thing is that the Germans actually had a similar doctrine (at least in writing) in regards to using the Jagdpanther. They were supposed to be held back in Battalion strength, use their mobility to quickly rush to an endangered spot, blast away the offending enemy armor formations, then quickly pull back and rearm and await the next crisis. In reality, they were never fielded like that. They were no more reliable than a Panther tank and had fuel and ammunition needs and their 'trains' would have had to chase them around.

The US seemed to have their own way of doing things. Some good and some bad. To invade France with such a flawed doctrine like the TD doctrine was sort of offset by the terrain they found themselves in. They did not face 'fleets' of Panzers or swarms of Stukas and slowly realized their weapons were not suited to fight heavier armor (Panther tanks actually).

The biggest offense of the supposed 'Tank Destroyer Command' was that they were not abreast of the technical developments in regards to the actual AFV they thought they were going to destroy. The information was there. The belief that the fast M18 TD was going to race around and shoot up the enemy with its 76mm was just another misconception. The whole TDC was a misconception. The war was evolving into a combined arms warfare that did not rely on one particular type of AFV. The US was behind the curve and concepts like Tactical Air had to be learned under battle conditions is a shame.

If the US had the landing zones, and objectives that the Commonwealth were assigned during D-Day, and the Germans had faced them with the divisions they had, I hate to think of the outcome.

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by paulrward » 28 Nov 2016 19:21

Hello All ;

Firstly, everyone should carefully read Mr. Yoozername's posting. It is perhaps the best summary of the situation in the U.S. Army that I have seen yet, and deserves careful study.


To Mr. Juha :

Yes, the best anti tank weapons of WW2 were anti aircraft guns. The Germans found that out in
Spain, when, out of necessity, they turned their Flak 88s into field guns, and discovered how truly effective they were. The Russians did it in 1943, when they put their 85mm AA gun on a T 34, and the Americans came in last, with a 90mm AA gun that had been in development since 1938.

As Brer Rabbit' once said, " Necessity is the Mother of Invention, and they's still looking for the Father......"


Respectfully ;

Paul R. Ward
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steverodgers801
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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by steverodgers801 » 28 Nov 2016 19:58

weapons always evolve during war and the whats great one day becomes so so the next

Juha
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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Juha » 28 Nov 2016 22:57

paulrward wrote:... To Mr. Juha :

Yes, the best anti tank weapons of WW2 were anti aircraft guns. The Germans found that out in
Spain, when, out of necessity, they turned their Flak 88s into field guns, and discovered how truly effective they were. The Russians did it in 1943, when they put their 85mm AA gun on a T 34, and the Americans came in last, with a 90mm AA gun that had been in development since 1938.

As Brer Rabbit' once said, " Necessity is the Mother of Invention, and they's still looking for the Father......"


Respectfully ;

Paul R. Ward
In fact not, if we forget the German 88 mm L/71. Both German 75 mm L/70 (Panther's tank gun) and British 17 pdr (76.2 mm tank and A/T gun) had better penetration power than either standard 88 mm L/56 (Tiger's and the AA gun) or the Soviet 85 mm tank, A/T and AA gun. Those German and British tank guns had the penetration power equal to that of the US 90 mm gun.

In my earlier message I completely forgot the British development before Firefly. British went to guns optimize to armour penetration before the WW II when they chose the HV 2pdr over the 3pdr. 2 pdr was somewhat let down by its rudimentary AP shot when the Germans began uparmour their tanks in 1941. British answer was better shots and then the 6pdr but both these guns lacked effective HE round and because of the lack of other options they went to the medium velocity 75 mm gun. They had found out that the Vickers 75 mm HV gun didn't fit to their next Cruiser tank, the Cromwell.

And the main armament of the most Soviet tanks since late 1930s and up to T-34 and KV-1 was the 45 mm gun, which was enlarged German 37 mm PAK 36. But it wasn't so single-minded optimize for penetration than the British 2 pdr (40 mm) gun and had also a reasonable HE round for its size.

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Yoozername » 28 Nov 2016 23:11

The US TD doctrine was rewritten and modified during the war, it was toned down but I have corresponded with at least one WWII TD veteran and the training was very gung-ho. All of his training seemed to be in a vacuum. That is, they trained as a battalion and there was no divisional training. Again, they acted as specialists. If assigned to an infantry division, they would certainly have to work things out.

I have always found it preposterous to read some of the TD Praise such as being a multi-threat weapons system. Things like M10s firing indirectly! Given that they were firing the same low capacity HE round as the Sherman 76mm, one might take the M10s indirect value with a grain of salt. Or maybe just see it as 'marketing'. The M10s introduced, I believe, the first open-top rotating turreted AFV with a big gun? It also had no power traverse. I suppose the whole open top rotating turret was an American oddity. Much like the German over-lapping bogie wheels on AFV, it wasn't an idea for the ages.

The M18 was supposed to be made in great numbers. They canceled the contract after making maybe 1/3 after both British and the Soviets turned it down and the US reduced the proposed battalions needed. My friends father served in the 4th armored division in Recon. From the pictures I saw, they may have been used in those units or assigned to them. They could keep up with the other recon vehicles is my assumption. Not a bad application since they were hell bent on going fast.

I believe the late model M36 with the Ford V-8s were the preferred TD by the end of the war. There were a mix of M10, M18 and M36 battalions at the end of the war though.

It's easy to look back and criticize, the United States was tasking itself to fight across the globe, and it had to actually build its industry before it could build its weapons. But, I was in the military and I know just how chickenshit officers can be. And, it can also be said that private companies can also be dominated by over-bearing dimwitted types or people with self-serving motives. I have read some of the post Africa reports of the United States army after the Germans collapsed there. It seems like a bunch of tripe to get the next troops all fired up. Unfortunately, the next battlefields were very different than Africa.

Still, the British had foresight to build the Firefly and Achilles and had superior antitank means and methods before D-Day. The US should have had something like the M36B1 'sherman' in the wings even if it was just a retrofitted kit somewhere in England. Even if they were only available in a platoon assigned directly to a Armored Battalion, it would have given good service and the troops would have something better than the 75mm/76mm.

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Richard Anderson » 29 Nov 2016 07:58

paulrward wrote: You are repeating the opinions of the much disputed Chieftains' Hatch ( Nicholas Moran ) who is an internet flack for an online computer wargame firm called Wargames America, makers of such dubious product as World of Warthogs.
And you are repeating your calumnies about a serving armor officer whose experience in tanks I suspect is infinitely greater than yours, as is his experience in researching in the archival materials related to this subject.

So who are you flacking for?
In fact, in your own posting, you list thirteen purported uses of tanks according to FM 17-100 Armored Command Field Manual, 15 January 1944, pp. 22-23. , of which fighting against enemy tanks is down at number ten on the list, and, as it is phrased:
"Purported"? Seriously? Purported is to appear or claim to be or do something, especially falsely. So the U.S. Army was only claiming to do so in official doctrinal documents in order to conceal their real doctrine of running away from enemy tanks?

That is inane.
Read that carefully, Mr. Anderson. It states that attacking enemy armoured units should only be done " when forced to do so as a matter of self-preservation...." or when " hostile tanks threaten seriously to disrupt operations...."
Perhaps you would do better Mr. Ward, to actually read some things yourself. Or reflect on just how sensible a doctrine of attacking strength with strength is...or who has advocated that.
Very simply, an attack on enemy tanks by U.S. Tanks was seen as a last ditch, last resort maneuver to prevent the destruction of the U.S. forces involved in the battle.
Instead of reading into things that which isn't there.
This is why the U.S. Army built Tank Destroyers. It was as a result of the German Blitzkrieg in Poland and France, and was an attempt by the U.S. Army to come up with a way to halt an armoured attack on U.S. forces. It started out as a theory, and the U.S. Army then came up with a Doctrine, ordered equipment manufactured ( T-12s, M-3 T.D.s, and finally M-10, M-18, and M-36 T.D.s , then trained men to carry out the doctrine, and went to war. And got stomped. In the Philippines. In Africa. And a few times in France.
Would you mind telling me Mr. Ward, just which tank destroyers went to the Philippines to get "stomped"?
When deployed correctly under ideal circumstances, the Tank Destroyers could be successfull. However, the majority of the time, they were an abject failure, either being unavailable when needed, or being used incorrectly which resulted in their suffering higher than desirable losses.
How did you arrive at that majority Mr. Ward?
As a result of the Doctine being so successfull, (snip strawman)
Who claimed it was successful Mr. Ward?
And don't let anyone kid you, Mr. Pips, there is no one more skilled at deflecting criticism than an officer of the United States Army. If you ever doubt it, just go read William Westmoreland's autobiography, " A Soldier Reports ".
What relevance does that have to the argument other than to demonstrate, as if we need it, your facility at calumny?

(snip remaining blather)
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Eugen Pinak » 29 Nov 2016 13:38

Pips wrote:The following quote, taken from another thread, has me puzzled.
paulrward wrote: It must be remembered that in the early war period, to the U.S. Army, the primary purpose of a tank was NOT to fight other tanks. This was the task of the Tank Destroyers. The purpose of the tank was to assist the infantry in breaking through the enemy lines, destroying machine gun nest, pillboxes, and garrisonned buildings, the then, having made the breakthrough, driving forward to assist the infantry, mechanised infantry, and armoured cavalry in exploiting the weakened enemy by disrupting communications, supply, and reinforcements.
...
Is it in fact a realistic view? And who besides the Americans held this view?
Yes it is. This view was also shared by USSR (during early 1930s and c.1942-1944), Italians (in 1930s) and Japanese (in 1930s).
Germans had opposite view - they were considering tanks as premium weapons against enemy armored units.
British and French divided their tank forces into two different branches: infantry tanks (with limited AT capabilities) to support infantry and cavalry tanks (with good AT capabilities) to support cavalry or motorized forces.

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by MarkN » 29 Nov 2016 16:59

Discussing topic such as this is always tricky as everybody seems to have a different opinion on what 'doctrine' means/is. Not a good start point. And this is not a criticism of posters, it's a comment on how poor the term - and the entire concept of 'military science' - is understood even by those who practice it, teach it and pontificate upon it.

For example, the British formally introduced a 'doctrine' into the Army in the late 1980's. Yep, 1980's. What happened at that time was that they introduced a document that had the word 'doctrine' in the title and on the front cover. Prior to that, according to some, 'doctrine' didn't exist in the British Army. And thus, they clearly had no infantry doctrine, tank doctrine, or any other doctrine whatsoever. No wonder they lost so many battles. In fact, it's a wonder how they ever got their Empire in the first place. :D Others, quite rightly in my opinion, argue that doctrine certainly existed prior to then, but was contained within other documents. In other words, doctrine didn't need a platform of its own.

Given that nobody seems to be able to agree on what 'doctrine' is by definition, it is hardly a stretch of the imagination to understand that people disagree as to what doctrine should be in theory and in practice.

This may be interesting reading to some: http://www.army.mod.uk/documents/genera ... aper_5.pdf

Generally speaking, tanks were not created in the Great War, nor developed through the inter-war years as a tool for combatting other tanks. What role they were seen as providing depended on who you spoke to at the time. Tank expert in country A would say the opposite of tank expert in country B. Often two tank experts from the same country in the same room at the same table would contradict one other.

Anybody who is 'truly' interested in this subject can only begin to form an understanding and an opinion after carefully reading and scrutinising:
(a) the various source documents that guided how military forces were to operate (some are called doctrine, some have other names) in order to understand what the theorists suggested should be done;
(b) the numerous operational, battle and combat reports of the time - to understand how it was actually done in practice.
Many of the former can now be found and downloaded from the internet. The latter will generally require a good few visits to various archives - or the engagement of a researcher to do it for you.

Alternatively, you could read a few books and maybe surf the internet for a few 'expert' blogs or websites that tell you everything you want to know. But mostly everything you don't want to know. Remember, all of these books and webpages are written by an individual who is telling you their personal understanding and opinion.

Of course, some 2nd or 3rd hand sources have more credibility and value than others. There is quite a bit of US military analysis worth reading of the role of tank destroyers, their doctrine, how it was applied and changed and it can all be found on the internet. Google is your friend. Still, why bother with all that hard work when you can post a message on AHF and get everybody else to do the work for you?

And finally, most accept the British got tank 'doctrine' completely wrong leading up to, and for the first few years of, WW2. It was so wrong that they were the only ones who focussed tank effort on being able to defeat the enemy's tanks and gave their tankers almost nothing to deal with non-armoured targets. Perhaps they were just ahead of their time.

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Re: Tanks Role Not To Fight Tanks??

Post by Yoozername » 29 Nov 2016 18:20

Well opinions are like...Doctrines...

If we look at the more concrete evidence, that is the actual hardware and the generation thereof, we do get a clear picture of the 'evolution' of the 'Tank Destroyers'. The men behind it are also fairly well documented. That is, McNair, Bruce, Devers, etc.

One can look at North Africa, see the results of using French 75s on halftracks and the M10, and draw some conclusions. Some combat generals like Patton and Bradley disliked the performance of the TDs, I am not that sure about how they felt regarding the doctrine, but they were the ones commanding the units using them. A TD uses people, fuel, large ammunition, etc., No Doctrine changes that fact. Many never got into combat and the one 'success' Guettar, was a bit of a wash.

The knee-jerk reaction of going to towed antitank guns (3 in.), and Bruce's obsession with battlefield hotrod speed (M18), results in an overall lack of focus on what is needed on the coming battlefield. Bradley supposedly refused the M18 in Italy since its speed was of no real battlefield use.

The fact that artillerymen (McNair) were clearly central to the decisions, brings up another point. They did not see what the Germans were doing.

That is, the Germans had developed, for their artillery arm, a multi-function tracked vehicle that could give direct support for the troops, and also act as a antitank weapon. This was the Sturmgeschutz and the branch of the artillery was the Sturmartillerie. If anyone had been paying attention to the Intel, it was part of the Germans success along with the 'Blitzkrieg' early in the war. By 1943, when all the Brass in the US Army were trying to reinvent the wheel, the StuG units had become one of the most important means for the Germans to keep the Soviets from rolling them up.

The US had experience with Tiger I in North Africa and also Sicily, Panther in Italy and even heavy armor like the Elephant/Brumbar. They had feedback from the Soviets regarding the fielding of panthers in larger numbers. They had evidence that the Germans were developing bigger guns and even APCR ammunition. It just seems, possibly easy in retrospect, that the whole D-Day invasion took on a life of its own, much like the Market garden operation, and any voice that was not gung ho was not listened to. I wonder what Patton was thinking since he was side-lined?

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