Hot answers tagged

121

Anti-tank rifles were made as a stopgap measure during and after WWI. The infantry needed something to stop a tank smaller than an artillery piece, and from further away than you could throw a grenade. There were no rockets. To give you an idea how desperate the US army was for anti-tank weapons, they tried shoving rifles and even rocks into the running gear ...


58

Once nobody was willing or able to use them(either in other conflicts or as bulldozers), tanks were stripped of any particularly valuable or reusable parts, and whatever was left was disassembled/cut up to be used as scrap metal. (All of the images and detail can be found here or here.) Vehicles which were destroyed on the battlefield were recovered to ...


49

Good? No. Lots of them? Yes. The Americans were leaders in mass-producing large durable goods at low cost - cars, especially. This translated to mass-producing medium cruiser tanks (the M4 Sherman) almost as quick as they could roll a Buick off the assembly line. What's more, these were brand new machines, they had not spent months and months slogging ...


43

To narrow down this answer, I'm going to pick June - August 1944 to highlight the differences. The Western Front is mired in the Normandy bocage and the Eastern Front is fighting on the open steppes of Ukraine and Poland. These two pictures sum it all up. Normandy bocage. Source Ukrainian Steppe. As you can see, one is very hemmed in and one is very open. ...


43

Schwern's answer is very good and exhaustive from the technical standpoint. From my experience as sniper trained on Anti-Materiel Rifles (AMRs (Hecate II), I would like to add a few tactical aspects to that. tl;dr: You aim to immobilize the tank so it's a good target for the AT weaponry. Your best bet is a good hit on the tracks. First of all: The gunner ...


36

Yet another concurring (tanks were important, but not the only reason), but different, answer. Already at the end of WWI, the tactics for trench assault had improved. Instead of just swarming enemy trenches with infantry, weak points were exploited and strongholds bypassed. The role and nature of artillery support also changed. The barrages that lasted ...


33

The ongoing arms race in armored warfare between defensive measures and offensive weapons generally means that a given tank is able to resist the weapons of the previous generation and, in turn, be able to defeat the armor of the previous generation. In the 1991 Gulf War, while the coalition forces had the Abrams and Challenger MBTs (which were best-of-...


29

There are at least three criteria for "good" tanks: combat effectiveness, ease of production, and mechanical reliability. The Americans produced "good" tanks that excelled in the latter two categories. That's because they were the world's best producers of automobiles. To take off on U.S. civil war cavalry doctrine, American generals regarded tanks as a ...


27

It appears from the auction details, that the serial number of the tank is 18688. The serial number does appear on this list of known Sherman serial numbers compiled by Pierre-Olivier Buan (who has been cited as an expert on tanks of this era) and others. The entry identifies the tank's type as M4A4(75), which was manufactured by Chrysler. The registration ...


23

According to AAR reports, the losses the Coalition took in this battle were almost all friendly fire incidents. Same AARs indicate that Coalition forces had decisive advantage in: Effective range - on average American tanks could destroy Iraqi T-72 at twice the distance of the Russian-built tanks (~2km), while virtually none of the hits scored on Americans ...


21

It's a Valentine tank: The Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine was an infantry tank produced in the United Kingdom during the Second World War. More than 8,000 of the type were produced in eleven marks, plus various specialised variants, accounting for approximately a quarter of wartime British tank production.2 The many variants included riveted and ...


18

I want to compare unit for unit parity, let's say at the platoon or company level. Let's say the equivalent of a German and Soviet armored company approach each other in 1941, 1943 and 1945. Evaluating the equipment in a vacuum is not interesting. To appreciate why the Germans dominated in 1941, why they lost that dominance, and why the T-34 is considered ...


17

Several reasons. First and foremost, they perform the same role on the battlefield, providing a fast moving spearhead. Second, and related, many of the units were cavalry units before getting tanks, they just exchanged their horses for tanks. Artillery exchanged guns pulled by horses (and trucks) with self propelled guns (at least part of them, most armies ...


17

With all great answers I would like to demonstrate what weak spots were targeted. Here's picture from the 1942 Soviet field manual "Уничтожай фашистские танки из противотанкового ружья" ("Destroy fascist tanks with anti-tank rifle") Here we see weak spots of the German T-III tank. They include engine, fuel tanks, transmission, gun and serve to disable tank ...


16

No, tanks are not, evolving strategy for using new technology was. A quick look at the Principles of War as espoused in many military doctrines over time and across the globe (and usually posited as timeless) shows a focus on how to achieve a goal. A few key points among these lists are maneuver and initiative. In other words, warfare is about getting ...


14

Schwern has a very complete answer in regards to tanks. I want to expand on that answer - not only were early tanks a lot more lightly-armored than many people think, but tanks were not really the prime target of these weapons. Even in the pre-war period armies around the world were developing small anti-tank cannons that could be used by a heavy weapons ...


14

Tank commanders will often stand up in their hatch with their head out of the turret to get a better look around. In this position they were vulnerable to being shot, and quite a few tank commanders were shot by infantry of all kinds, including snipers. A good sniper might be able to get a bullet through a vision slit, and some probably did. But firing at ...


14

Tank commanders don't just stand on top of their tank because it looks awesome. They do it so they can get a good look around. Inside a tank the commander is blind and deaf. They're inside a very loud metal box looking out through little slits and narrow scopes. Paradoxically its safer for a tank commander to be exposed outside the armor looking for threats ...


13

This of course would be an absurd policy No, it's not. It's standard. Combined Arms does not mean everybody hides behind a tank. It means different arms support each other, using their respective strengths and mitigating each other's weaknesses. In this specific case it means the tanks do what they do best: kill from range. And the infantry does what they ...


12

From the thesis linked by CGCampbell, American anti-tank doctrine was based around dealing with concentrated groups of German tanks on the offense, ie. a repeat of the invasion of France. To deal with this, dedicated anti-tank battalions were formed of tank destroyers: heavy anti-tank guns mounted on lightly-armored mobile platforms. The thesis cites Field ...


12

The Panzer I, the tank sent to Spain, was initially designed as an "industrial tractor" in order to get around arms controls agreements. It had a number of limitations ranging from slow speed to engine problems to inadequate armor to less effective armament. It's primary/original purpose was for the German command to teach soldiers armored warfare while not ...


12

There's a (probably) exhaustive list of Shermans (Shermen?) with illustrations at tanks-encyclopedia.com/ww2/US/M4_Sherman.php. Disclaimer: A lot of models were so similar that it'd be a bit of a chore to try to match up the pics above with this page, though.


11

The build up of the US army from a small, backwards, underfunded, isolationist peace-time army in 1939 to a six million person world conquering colossus in 1945 is one of the under-appreciated triumphs of WWII. Much can be attributed to the cadre of professional, forward thinking officers like George Marshall the US maintained. When it comes to tanks, it ...


11

The operator's manual for the tank is available from archive.org. The OCR quality is not superb, but sufficient to confirm the 15 degree left and right traverse. See page 41.


11

Although it isn't a complete answer to your question, you can gain some insight into the lopsidedness of this and other similar confrontations by reading this analysis: http://www.meforum.org/441/why-arabs-lose-wars The gist of the article is that there is a rather large disconnect in Arabic armies' culture. Officers and enlisted men are seen in a ...


10

It looks like the later models of Flakpanzer IV (post Möbelwagen), including the Ostwind, were indeed designed to be able to shoot at ground targets, if need be. Though the Möbelwagen was intended to be a stopgap, it served the anti-aircraft platoons of the Panzer Divisions extremely well on the Western Front. Despite this, fewer than 300 were ...


10

You cannot consider quality without considering quantity. The both sides had very powerful designs, but such designs were produced in smaller numbers compared to the most produced models. For example, a heavy tank will always beat a medium tank. The T-34 is a medium tank, so qualitatively it is inferior to the heavy tanks. On the other hand, it was produced ...


10

A likely candidate seems to be the Battle of Messines, which took place in June 1917. According to John F. C. Fuller in Tanks in the Great War, 1914-1918, 88 tanks were employed (p. 110). He says 40 tanks advanced with the start of the attack at dawn, and an additional 22 set out with infantry in the afternoon.


10

Lightweight items such as car bodywork can be recycled by shredding them but there is no blender that's giant or scary enough to blend a tank. They would have been scrapped in much the same way as other large items such as ships or railway locomotives: partly by being dismantled and partly by being cut up with torches or saws. The resulting scrap would have ...


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