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XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 06:31 AM
I recently read a few internet links which make disturbing allegations regarding the M4 Sherman tank. It is suggested that political intrigue and profiteering led to the exclusive use of the inferior Sherman tank while new tank development and implementation was shelved. This led to massive losses of allied armor crews which just shouldn't have happened considering the huge advantages the allies held in 1944.

http://www.strategypage.com/bookreviews/184.asp
www.isnie.org/ISNIE02/Papers02/nye.pdf (http://www.isnie.org/ISNIE02/Papers02/nye.pdf)
http://www.ospreybooks.org/osprey/new-vanguard/35.htm

Can anyone comment on this? Is this revisionist history, or is it true? It seems strange to me that by 1944 the U.S. was able to match the Germans in almost all areas of military technology, but couldn't build a tank that could even come close to matching the Germans. It is a little disturbing to think that a weapon which could have saved lives and shorten the war like the Pershing tank was intentionally delayed.

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Message Edited on 09/26/0305:29AM by Harrier-PBNA

XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 06:31 AM
I recently read a few internet links which make disturbing allegations regarding the M4 Sherman tank. It is suggested that political intrigue and profiteering led to the exclusive use of the inferior Sherman tank while new tank development and implementation was shelved. This led to massive losses of allied armor crews which just shouldn't have happened considering the huge advantages the allies held in 1944.

http://www.strategypage.com/bookreviews/184.asp
www.isnie.org/ISNIE02/Papers02/nye.pdf (http://www.isnie.org/ISNIE02/Papers02/nye.pdf)
http://www.ospreybooks.org/osprey/new-vanguard/35.htm

Can anyone comment on this? Is this revisionist history, or is it true? It seems strange to me that by 1944 the U.S. was able to match the Germans in almost all areas of military technology, but couldn't build a tank that could even come close to matching the Germans. It is a little disturbing to think that a weapon which could have saved lives and shorten the war like the Pershing tank was intentionally delayed.

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Message Edited on 09/26/0305:29AM by Harrier-PBNA

XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 06:34 AM
I believe one reason is that the Sherman could be produced faster and easier than say, a Tiger.

I'm sure some other guys know more about this.

Also, the T-34 wasn't a whole lot better than the Sherman.

Message Edited on 09/26/0312:36AM by Korolov

XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 06:51 AM
well i just happaned to be doing a little research on this today .i dont have all info in front of me ........the m26 program was started in 1942 and was availabe in late 44.design ,build ,field ,in 18 months not that bad is it ?..............our therory for use of tanks was fundamently different then the germans,plus they had direct combat expieriance to draw from...the t26 was a nice tank ..... armour protection and design was far from the end of war js-3.. though.. the js-2 ( and 3)......its gun ( 122 mm) though powerful was acording to german tankers was only cpable of 2- 3 rds a minute ........... the t-26 coud easly exceed this along with superior optics and fire control( t26 not as good in armour or shape.).............im in the middle of tiger comander otto carius's book .tigers in the mud.......and he still fightin russians at the time im in book. note.. i also have tiger ace the life story of michael whitmann.im sure you heard of him

U.S INFANTRY 84-91

Message Edited on 09/25/03 10:57PM by tenmmike

Message Edited on 09/25/0310:59PM by tenmmike

XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 07:13 AM
For some weapons, such as strategic bombers, it takes a while to get it right. The links I read said that the Pershing was purposely put on the back burner. Links like this one:

http://www.ospreybooks.org/osprey/new-vanguard/35.htm

mention "political in-fighting had delayed the arrival of the Pershing". Has anyone read these books? What political infighting would prevent the delivery of a weapon that would save lives and shorten the war?

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XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 07:25 AM
ok my delivery dates are off by 4 months........im unsure of the political thinfs that are being discuse ill hunt that down .........but that has nothing to do withe what i said befor ..our use of tanks was completly different then the germans . a goo dexample would be that we had telephones on the back of m4 so troos could talk to the tc.... now the germans knew of this as carius keeps talking about the interaction....the m26 came online about as fast as the tiger /tiger 2, did upon the time it was relised that it was needed ... maybe a little slower as in 1942 the best german tank was a mk4

U.S INFANTRY 84-91

XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 08:32 AM
the american military has a history of odd procurements for political reasons --- often a recommnedation by the armed forces is overruled in favor of a purchase that favors a particualar senators constituency or a favored company.

examples include:
- the cancelling of the Valkyrie project
-the cancellation of the Lockheed interceptor that eventually led to the SR71 Blackbird
- the first shuttle disaster
- the controversy over assualt rifles in the Vietnam era

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XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 09:25 AM
Interesting ... a couple of points:

1) The Sherman should be compared to the main (medium) battle tanks of the Soviets and Germans. Not their heavy tanks. Compared to the T34/85, the Panther and even the late Pz-IV, the Sherman had inferior capabilities. But let's keep the heavies out of it. The question of medium tanks doesn't really concern the Centurion, Pershing, Tiger models or JS/KV series.

2) But, as our allied dictator Stalin liked to say: Quantity is a quality of its own. The Germans proved that early in the war, when they overran France with inferior tanks compared to the French models.

3) Having said that a weapon can also be so inferior that it affects morale. The Sherman was nicknamed "the coffin" by the troops. Hardly inspiring, is it?

4) Obviously the Sherman had low-cost and reliability going for it. But so had the T34/85. And really: Was low-cost such a concern in armour development for the US? Was there ever a "real" shortage of main battle armour?

5) I read somewhere, and it might be wrong, that the differences in production costs between the Sherman and the Panther actually were surprisingly small. Unfortunately I can't find the source, maybe someone else here knows more about it?

cheers/slush



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XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 01:45 PM
I had assumed that an advantage the Western allies held over Germany was that decisions the army made were solely to improve their capability, shorten the war, reduce Allied casualties, etc. Is it true that the Allies took unnecessary casualties because the company that built the Sherman had better lobbyists in Washington? Creepy.

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XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 02:01 PM
Well, as much as we like to think otherwise, national policy making isn't necessarily made by rational decision making. It's politics after all. For it's effect on arms procurement and war strategy, Germany might actually be the best WW2 example.

cheers/slush

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XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 02:21 PM
A lot of good points ..

also need to bear in mind, that tank manufacture in WWII was carried out at large scale by a variety of auto manaufacturers of the time .. most rolled from assembly lines in Detroit & Cleveland, with the engineering taking place in the Motor City

although you can bet there was profit, it was a closed loop procurement process, unlike today .. the tooling, once duplicated, was shipped to any manufacturer capaple of making the parts. Yesterday you were making thunderbirds, today we are making tanks ..

not much politics or lobbying envolved, at that time, when the entire focus of the US industrial might was brought to bear, the world did shake ..

There is current rift in thinking between Armor Center at Ft Knox ( Armor guys ) and Detroit engineering Nerds .. long standing debate too .. the enginerds want to build a two man tank, the armor ctr says we would love to have a 5 man tank hahaha

"if it isn't broke, it don't have enough features"

CC

fluke39
09-26-2003, 02:36 PM
one thing i heard recently (that could be totally wrong) was that the sherman firefly could have been available in larger numbers had the americans not been so patriotic about it.

IIRC either all or the first fireflies used the british 6 pounder (?) gun ( i think was maybe about equivalent of 76mm) -i heard that there was reluctance by the americans to use this as they didn't want a "british" gun in their tanks.

obviously the firefly would have been much more of a match for the german heavies due to the range and penetrating power of the 6 pounder- being far superior to the existing sherman guns- and actually capable of knocking tigers etc out from more places than the rear.

IIRC this info was on some history channel program (although i think brit history channel seems to be a bit more accurate than american history channel) it still could be wrong

i am not stating this was a fact so please, flame me gently/i/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

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XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 02:47 PM
This is kind of off topic for the thread but does go to show how politics and armaments can make strange bedfellows.

Before WWI, the Germans armaments company Krupp, sold canons and ammunition to the British with the provision that Krupp would receive a one cent royalty for every cannon shell fired in war. Apparently, during WWI, the British fired many, many canon shells at the Germans.

Aftre the war, while Germany was paying war damages to those it fought against, the British were honouring their contracts and sending checks right back to the Germans to cover the one cent payment owed for every shell the British fired at them.

I love reading history.



"Official Lancaster Whiner"

XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 02:52 PM
Perhaps we can say all sides suffered to an extent such political problems.

Another good example is Japan - where the conflict between the civilian/bureaucratic elites vs. extremist military have existed since the days of the Meiji Reforms. One side, with closed contempt towards the "barbarians" of the military running amok into wars of fantasies, and the other, looking down upon "weak and unpatriotic" views of civilian personnel.

The result was a political alliance between the Japanese Navy and civilian bureaucrats, vs the powerful Army which held the Emperor under direct control. While the Navy was consisted of new generation of military, well educated and informed of the powers of the West, the Army was armed with traditional thoughts of war.

The results are as seen in the Pacific - cooperation between the Navy and Army of Japan, I think, was probably the worst of them all in entire WW2 history. Intentional delays, sabotages, clashes and break-ups in cooperation.. progressive admirals skeptical about war, having to run off to the sea to evade right-wing paramilitary assasins.. the Army advancing North/South West into China on their own.. while the Navy running their own operations in the Pacific.. very interesting subject. Makes the Patton-Montgomery conflict look like a joke..




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XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 02:57 PM
- Also, the T-34 wasn't a whole lot better than the
- Sherman.


Are you sure about this? Study more about Battle for Kursk - the biggest tank battle of WWII. T-34 is a legend tank. It had simple and efficient design. Easy to produce, strong armor, good speed.

XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 03:04 PM
The T-34/76 was as good as a Sherman.

The T-34/85 was better.

XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 03:21 PM
Everything I've read tells me that the T-34 was a lot better than the Sherman, even the T-34/76. The T-34 was one of the reasons Germany developed heavy tanks, they did not have an effective weapon to counter the T-34 in 1941/42.

XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 03:51 PM
Two interesting books to read on the topic of the Sherman tanks

SHERMAN TANKS, by Hunnicutt - which will give you more tchnical info than you will ever want to know.

and

DEATHTRAPS, by the former ordnance officer of US 2nd armored division 44-45 (whose name escapes me at the moment).

According to generally received wisdom, the M26 Pershing was demonstrated to the US Army as early as 1943. The tooling was already prepared for mass production. Several generals, including George Patton, turned down the Pershing.

Why?

US Army doctrine of the period stipulated that anti-tank combat was NOT the job of the tank. Anti-tank combat was the bailiwick of the tank destoryer force and the artillery. The tanks was considered a breakthrough and exploitation weapon, meant to spread disruption and destruction in enemy rear areas. Hence its medium velocity main armament, which was designed primarily to fire HE. This pre-war doctrine was shown to have been out of touch with wartime realities, of course.

There was concern that a manufacturing change-over from Sherman to Pershing would curtail tank production at a time when the Allies were committed in the Med and actively preparing fro the invasion of Europe. Patton, in particular felt that a secure stream of Shermans in great quantity was preferable to an uncertain supply rate of Pershings. Given the strategic situation of the time, it is difficult to say whether that decision was right or wrong.

Like every weapon of war, the Sherman had its good points and bad points.

The principal bad points -

(1) By 1944 ETO standards, Sherman armor was basically useless. It was vulnerable in all quadrants and at all normal battle ranges to German kinetic energy tank and AT weapons of 75mm caliber and higher.

(2) It was equally vulnerable to Panzerschreck/Panzerfaust chemical energy weapons.

(3) Its main gun, the 75mm medium velocity, was ineffective frontally against Panthers and Tigers, and barely effective against Tigers from the flanks. Only against the Mk.IV series did it offer a reasonable expectation of an easy kill. The 76mm upgrade and special ammunition improvements did not improve matters to any appreciable degree. Only the British 17pdr Firefly conversion gave the Sherman a respectable AP weapon.

(4) All ETO Shermans were gasoline powered, which made them highly flammable when hit. Stricken tanks were also vulnerable to ammunition cook-off due to dry stowage. Wet storage for ammunition did help to solve the cook-off problem.

(5) High silhouette.

(6) Poor off-road mobility due to high ground pressure.


The principal good points -

(1) An extremely reliable tank from the mechanical point of view, with minimum field maintenance requirements.

(2) Relatively fast and nimble (for a medium) tank, in good going.

(3) A quiet tank due to its rubber blocked treads.

(4) Excellent track life.

(5) Good range.

As can be seen, the positive qualities of the Sherman all point to its intended role as an exploitation weapon.


Under ETO combat conditions and fighting in a basically defensive posture, the Germans inflicted huge casualties upon American armored forces. Although replacement tanks were always in ample supply, the US Army had greatly under-estimated the attrition rate for tank crewmen. Shortages of trained tank crews had become a serious problem by the Battle of the Bulge, when many tanks were going to the front with incomplete crews or with hastily re-trained infantrymen as crew fillers.

As regards the likelihood of political shenanigans, I tend to discount that. At the time in question there was more work to go around than could be handled. Any firm which wanted business need only have made application.



Blutarski

XyZspineZyX
09-26-2003, 05:20 PM
Thanks for the good info. I guess Patton wasn't such a genius after all...

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