In one of his War thunder (a realistic tank battle simulator) videos, Oxide used a small, quick tank with a high armor penetration weaponry, and proceeded to ambush and flank German tanks from alleys, then essentially destroyed them from point-blank range, while the tanks weren't able to do anything, because the target was too close.

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"It's not about size, it's how you use it."

Did such tactics occur in WW2? If yes, the how successful were they against trained tank crews

  • 3
    I'm not sure I'd consider War Thunder a realistic simulator by any stretch of the imagination. More realistic than World of Tanks? Sure, but that's setting the bar very, very low. In real life, tanks mostly operated in large formations and with combined arms support. They simply didn't wander in to confined ambush areas like this: the ones that did were quickly destroyed by. AT guns and infantry.
    – PhillS
    May 11 '17 at 10:46
  • @PhillS Well, I expected that, albeit the trained tank crew specification. May 11 '17 at 10:51
  • @PhillS youtube.com/watch?v=zcMHqUC9YvM May 11 '17 at 10:52
  • In the body of the question, does "high armor penetration" refer to the ramming ability of the smaller tank or its weaponry?
    – Steve Bird
    May 11 '17 at 11:22
  • @SteveBird Weaponry. May 11 '17 at 11:28

The most lethal enemy of the tank was not another tank.

By percentage, of 1305 WWII tank losses by the British, these were due to:

  • 24.4% SPG
  • 22.7% AT gun
  • 22.1% mines
  • 14.5% tank
  • 14.2% Bazooka (Panzerfaust, Panzerschreck)
  • 2.1% other

While the computer game "tactic" you describe might or might not work against a single enemy tank, it doesn't remove the other dangers to your tank in a real battle, to the contrary.

Most importantly (as Santiago already pointed out), fighting in a city very much increases the threat of AT guns and infantry action (mines, Panzerfaust) due to the close quarters and quite limited vision from within a tank. The chances of two tank units engaging each other in city streets are quite low to begin with.

And your "tactic" would only work against a single Tiger (or similarily large tank), without backup or supporting infantry. Also, actually ramming an enemy tank would very likely result in your (lighter) tank being immobilized, not to mention injury of the crew. Also note that the gun barrel of the computer tank in your picture is dangerously close to being rendered inoperative due to smashing into the Tiger's side...

Could it work? Perhaps.

Would it make for a tactic worth "teaching", or "employing" to any significant extend? I don't think so.

  • Sources for your data?
    – justCal
    May 11 '17 at 16:16

In WWII usually tanks avoided closed spaces (woods, cities, etc.), and as a defensive weapon is quite more effective an assault gun (a tank chassis with a gun, but without a mobile turret) or later on the bazooka and the panzerfaust for infantry.
In the case that a tank that you describe, the tank does not need so close to its target, because is too risky. Besides, the penetration of the gun does not increase so drastically when you are so close to the target (10% of penetration loss for every 500 meters).

Seldom times that kind of tactics were used, the most known case is the Battle_of_Prokhorovka, were so many tanks were in the same place at the same time that some Russian tanks tried to get as close as possible during the engagement. In the case of this battle the tactic was successful, because German tanks lost their gun superiority when soviets approached too close.

  • Weren't there city tank battles in Stalingrad? Or have I been playing too much Battlefield?
    – T.E.D.
    May 11 '17 at 12:35
  • @T.E.D. And how about 1956, those T-34s have got a bit fried over in Budapest. May 11 '17 at 12:37
  • @T.E.D.: There have been tank battles in Cologne. Filmed, even. But generally, any tank general would avoid cities.
    – DevSolar
    May 11 '17 at 13:20

There were some reports of ramming enemy tanks, but it was never a trained tactic, instead being an act of desperation. Slamming a several ton metal box on treads into another box is likely to result in both being disabled, and generally you want to avoid 1-1 trades of equipment like that.

In terms of getting in too close for the enemy to hit you, Oxide here is helped by the fact he is in a T-50 (basically a baby T-34). The T-34 (the most common Russian tank) is ~8ft tall, while the Tiger I is ~10. He is also helped by the clipping of the gun barrels. He can stick the gun through the enemy tank with no problem. RL physics do not work that way.

On a slightly different note, those (in-game) Tiger's would probably have done better if they just tried to crush the T-50. WT physics can have some interesting effects.

  • Oxide rammed them in the sides, but yeah, there were a few interesting things. May 11 '17 at 13:42
  • He never rams them with enough force to break either's tracks or knock out their drivers (since being immobilized will likely be the end for the T-50). The Tiger can pivot in place, and should have enough mass to move the T-50 along with it. It would require quick thinking on the Tiger Drivers part, which most WT Tiger Drivers seemed to lack back when I was playing.
    – Oot'n'Boot
    May 11 '17 at 13:51
  • Source for your reports of ramming tanks? The rest, debating game physics mechanics, is off topic in a History forum.
    – justCal
    May 11 '17 at 16:29

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