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British Equipment And Generals Suck, Part Deux.


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#21 R011

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 2237 PM

The British had one of the best tanks in the world from 1930 to 1940, except the British military didn't use it.

 

The Vickers 6 Ton was better than its competition, and was the basis for the Polish 7TP and the Soviet T-26.

 

It could be considered that the failure of the British to adopt the Vickers 6 Ton, and then to develop it, lead to the virtually useless British lights of the early war years.  It could have been adapted for either the 2pdr or the 3in CS howitzer, and would have been useful in France and some of teh early desert campaigns.

 

Give the BEF a full complement of Mark III's and IV's and have it led by clones of George Patton and Erich von Manstien and it is still going to be driven back to the Channel.  Nor would it have made much of a difference in North Africa until the British built up the logistic backing to continue an advance past  El Agheila.  Yes, better tanks and generals would have helped.  For that matter, early adoption of jerry-cans for petrol would have helped in Africa too.  That won't change the fact that the British needed a much better French Army in 1940 to stop the German advance through Belgium and that they were constrained by logistics in North Africa in 1941-42.


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#22 Murph

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 2251 PM

What about adding a cromwell or other turret?  Or were the turret rings too small?

 

 

 

I totally agree, there should have been a long barreled 6 pdr cannon and it should have been on Canadian produced Matilda II's, and later tanks.  Also the US should have assisted Canada in the building of more war industries.  With the British Empire as it was, they should have industrialized the Empire as best they could and used it to produce product.  Alas, they did not, could not.

 

 

 

You could not have gotten a 6pdr into a Matilda II, the turret ring was far too small.  Perhaps instead the Valentine could have been moved forward a year or two.

 


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#23 Murph

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 2253 PM

Once again, what about British generalship.  Monty or Alexander?  Slim vs almost anyone else?


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#24 Colin

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 2350 PM

what is the turret ring diameter for the Matilda and Valentine? I also noticed that early tanks did not have much in the way of overhang beyond the turret ring diameter, any reason for that?


Edited by Colin, 23 November 2013 - 2351 PM.

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#25 Ken Estes

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 0116 AM

Er, the 6 pdr AT gun was available for production in late 1940, but it would have been 200 of them vice 600 2-pdrs.

 

The 1st French Army did stop them in Belgium, but  not the 3rd Army  in France. The German center thrust was from Luxembourg, through the Ardennes that was not passable for armor.....We do need to lose the French surrender monkey myth. They fought hard, were strategically whipped.

 

Face it, nobody did well against the Germans until December 1941, regardless of who were the generals.

 

Marshall and Ike fired 115 US generals in WWII. Only a few were unwarranted.

 

Nobody knows if your leaders are any good until the test comes. Alan Brooke was conscious of the essential laziness of UK generals, sought the ones he thought could do well. Monty was one of them. He succeeded at Alamein using Auckinleck's plan, mind you.What he could not control was Churchill! The RN admirals were good scrappers, generally did well, although Phillips was ill suited for the impossible task at Singapore.

 

BTW, just what did Alexander ever do on a battlefield?

 

The Vickers 6-ton was fine, for 1935.


Edited by Ken Estes, 24 November 2013 - 0119 AM.

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#26 rmgill

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 0343 AM

Comparing the Centurion to the M47/M48 is a rather fine appraisal of a tank conceived 10+ years prior to the M47, itself an outgrowth of earlier designs. 


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#27 RETAC21

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 0440 AM

Once again, what about British generalship.  Monty or Alexander?  Slim vs almost anyone else?

 

I see a problem on the premise... History Channel?  :P

 

Generalship under Monty was limited by the tight control he exercised and cronyism, but to be fair he didn't do much worse (or better) than other allied generals, he certainly won the Normandy campaign (where he was the top dog), got defeated in Market Garden but then went on to stop the boches in the Bulge and on to Germany, plus, of course, won at El Alamein - where his merit was in attriting the Axis and changing his plan when things went awry, something he did in Normandy too. He learned from his mistakes too (see operation Varsity) which other generals with better reputations did not (i.e. Manstein).

 

What about Wavell? he was responsible for a theater of action that nowadays is called CENTCOM more or less, kicked out the Italians out of the horn of Africa, defeated them in Egypt/Lybia and defeats the dangerous Iraqui uprising and got defeated by Rommel and the Germans when he followed orders from London (that he protested) to weaken his forces everywhere.


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#28 bojan

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 0605 AM

Problem with UK tanks mounting bigger guns was not turret ring alone (look what guns Soviets managed to mount on same turret ring*), as was combination of obsession with internal gun mantles (which ate space in turret much more than any gun) and relatively small turret ring, which could support bigger guns if they switched to external gun mantles as did rest of world.

 

*76mm ZiS-96 L/42 in Matilda - only mod required was external mantle. Now anything that could mount 76/42 could mount 57mm L/73 also, hence it could mount 6pdr. Comfort inside tank actually increased, as a lot of space was freed when switching to external mantle. Only reason they gave up on it was that there was a deficit of guns (needed for KVs), while deficit of LL ammo never materialized. 


Edited by bojan, 24 November 2013 - 0606 AM.

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#29 Olof Larsson

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 0642 AM

Er, the 6 pdr AT gun was available for production in late 1940, but it would have been 200 of them vice 600 2-pdrs.

 

The 1st French Army did stop them in Belgium, but  not the 3rd Army  in France. The German center thrust was from Luxembourg, through the Ardennes that was not passable for armor.....We do need to lose the French surrender monkey myth. They fought hard, were strategically whipped.

 

Face it, nobody did well against the Germans until December 1941, regardless of who were the generals.

 

Marshall and Ike fired 115 US generals in WWII. Only a few were unwarranted.

 

And the german losses per day actually increased after the evacuation of Dunkirk,

despite the french having lost a lot of it's best equipment and it's best units.

 

The reason AFAIK was largely changes in tactics, to defence in depth

with infantry and artillery providing all round defence of some areas,

and the armour used for counter-attack.

 

But unlike the russians and the britons, the french didn't have enough space,

to buy them the time, to alow the to experince - learn - reorganize - retrain/replace

to stop the germans.


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#30 Murph

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 0855 AM


Great post Ken.

Er, the 6 pdr AT gun was available for production in late 1940, but it would have been 200 of them vice 600 2-pdrs.
 
The 1st French Army did stop them in Belgium, but  not the 3rd Army  in France. The German center thrust was from Luxembourg, through the Ardennes that was not passable for armor.....We do need to lose the French surrender monkey myth. They fought hard, were strategically whipped.
 
Face it, nobody did well against the Germans until December 1941, regardless of who were the generals.
 
Marshall and Ike fired 115 US generals in WWII. Only a few were unwarranted.
 
Nobody knows if your leaders are any good until the test comes. Alan Brooke was conscious of the essential laziness of UK generals, sought the ones he thought could do well. Monty was one of them. He succeeded at Alamein using Auckinleck's plan, mind you.What he could not control was Churchill! The RN admirals were good scrappers, generally did well, although Phillips was ill suited for the impossible task at Singapore.
 
BTW, just what did Alexander ever do on a battlefield?
 
The Vickers 6-ton was fine, for 1935.


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#31 Murph

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 0905 AM

Stuart, great post also. I think the really innovative generals were held back by the less capable, also Churchill seemed to keep sacking really decent commanders if they did not give him miracles.
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#32 bojan

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 0930 AM

...

Its interesting that the gun problem seemed to go away to a large extent when the Royal Artillery got out the towed antitank gun role (prefering SP mounts) and when Britain had decided on a 'Universal' tank. 17 pounder to 105mm  through to L11 120mm in Chieftain seem to have been a fairly painless journey when compared to the difficulty early and mid war tank designers had in getting guns to fit.

 

Yeah, 17pdr was a neat feat of engineering, power of Panther 75/70 in much more reasonably sized package.

 

On other part, agree, it was mostly lack of clearly defined goals that hampered UK tank design, more than anything else. Most technical problems were consequence of companies being left to do what they thought was OK (Covenanter anyone?), and then trying to fit existing tanks in doctrine. Internal gun mantle was clearly such artifact*, it was something that was good at one point, but quickly became hindrance, but since none bothered to change requirements it stayed.

 

*Originally it gave better protection vs bullet splashes and enabled easier mounting of free-balanced guns, which was British pet idea until 1943 (when they gave up, about 3-5+ years after the rest of world, Japanese excluded). It did not take much space due being relatively thin, but once it moved to 50+mm armor, it had to be mounted more inside turret to provide structural support for it, and it started limiting space seriously. Even when Brits gave up on one of reasons for internal mantlets (free-balanced guns), they kept internal mantlets due the inertia, even if they did not bring anything positive on table.

Then hull construction, which was bizantine to say at least, requiring ~two times more welds then streamlined hulls (further creating weakspots) with multiple (5+) thickness of armor used further complicating production.

Fletcher nicely pointed it, none made reasonable requirements, and companies tried their bast. Some went well (Valentine), some not so (Covenanter, Challenger).


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#33 R011

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1025 AM

Comparing the Centurion to the M47/M48 is a rather fine appraisal of a tank conceived 10+ years prior to the M47, itself an outgrowth of earlier designs. 

 

Isn't the M47 more or less an M26 with a new turret and improved M46 automotives?  Work on what became the M26 and Centurion designs both started in 1943.  I agree that being competitive with 1950's designs like the M48 and M60 speaks well of the Centurion, but I stand by my position that the Centurion was slightly overrated until upgraded with American components.


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#34 rmgill

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1240 PM

The point still bearing out that the m47 and m48 were evolutions of an earlier design while the cent was the original design.
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#35 Olof Larsson

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1245 PM

 

Comparing the Centurion to the M47/M48 is a rather fine appraisal of a tank conceived 10+ years prior to the M47, itself an outgrowth of earlier designs. 

 

Isn't the M47 more or less an M26 with a new turret and improved M46 automotives?  Work on what became the M26 and Centurion designs both started in 1943.  I agree that being competitive with 1950's designs like the M48 and M60 speaks well of the Centurion, but I stand by my position that the Centurion was slightly overrated until upgraded with American components.

 

 

On the other hand, the M48 left a lot to be desired until getting brittish components (L7)

and the M1 until it got german components (RM 120mm L/44).

 

The Centurions ability to be uppgraded has been grossly overrated though.

For the Centurion upgunning meant a new turret

(20pdr to 105mm L7 was just a new tube designed to fit specificaly to all vehicles using the 20pdr),

unlike for instance the Sherman (75mm to 17pdr, 75mm to 75mm/AMX and 105mm),

M48, M1 Abrams and so on.

 

The other improvents (power pack, fire controll, ERA and so on)

was also done to many (if not most) tank types during the cold war.


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#36 BillB

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1302 PM

 

No, Stuart, you shall not....  Actually, I intended this as a more free wheeling discussion more so of the British War from 1939-1945.  Looking at the generalship, one finds a lot of duds, for lack of better word.  Monty was certainly no firebreather, actually he probably was just as bad, as MacArthur.  IIRC the only really good British General was Slim, with Cunningham his RN equal in terms of ability.  But really is it poor leadership, or a realistic appreciation that the UK could not suffer the horrific casualties of yesteryear?  Or was it that British generals were afflicted with a case of the slows, and poor decision making when it came to missing opportunities. SNIP

 

 

Well Murph, you keep throwing vague generalisations (see what I did there :) ) based on very little apart from the word "slows", a couple of names and unsupported assertions. Mebbe you could enlighten us and provoke a bit more discussion by providing a bit more detail. Altho there's lays the risk that the additional detail will reveal your opening premise to simply be mince, to use the local argot. :) 

 

BillB 


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#37 Murph

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1321 PM

I think Wavell and Auchlineck got the raw deal,  O'Connor if he had not been captured would have probably been better than Monty.  Also Ritchie, I think might have shown better if he had been given more of a chance. 


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#38 Murph

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1324 PM

I was wondering when you would chime in on this one.  :)  Seriously, Monty with his insistence on a "tidy" battlefield, use of Ultra, and overwhelming artillery, could have moved quicker.  Perhaps looking at Operation Goodwood is a mistake for his abilities.  I still think that Wavell, or the Auk would have made a better Army Group commander than Monty. 

 

 

 

No, Stuart, you shall not....  Actually, I intended this as a more free wheeling discussion more so of the British War from 1939-1945.  Looking at the generalship, one finds a lot of duds, for lack of better word.  Monty was certainly no firebreather, actually he probably was just as bad, as MacArthur.  IIRC the only really good British General was Slim, with Cunningham his RN equal in terms of ability.  But really is it poor leadership, or a realistic appreciation that the UK could not suffer the horrific casualties of yesteryear?  Or was it that British generals were afflicted with a case of the slows, and poor decision making when it came to missing opportunities. SNIP

 

 

Well Murph, you keep throwing vague generalisations (see what I did there :) ) based on very little apart from the word "slows", a couple of names and unsupported assertions. Mebbe you could enlighten us and provoke a bit more discussion by providing a bit more detail. Altho there's lays the risk that the additional detail will reveal your opening premise to simply be mince, to use the local argot. :)

 

BillB 

 


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#39 RETAC21

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1329 PM

 

I was wondering when you would chime in on this one.  :)  Seriously, Monty with his insistence on a "tidy" battlefield, use of Ultra, and overwhelming artillery, could have moved quicker.  Perhaps looking at Operation Goodwood is a mistake for his abilities.  I still think that Wavell, or the Auk would have made a better Army Group commander than Monty. 

 

 

 

No, Stuart, you shall not....  Actually, I intended this as a more free wheeling discussion more so of the British War from 1939-1945.  Looking at the generalship, one finds a lot of duds, for lack of better word.  Monty was certainly no firebreather, actually he probably was just as bad, as MacArthur.  IIRC the only really good British General was Slim, with Cunningham his RN equal in terms of ability.  But really is it poor leadership, or a realistic appreciation that the UK could not suffer the horrific casualties of yesteryear?  Or was it that British generals were afflicted with a case of the slows, and poor decision making when it came to missing opportunities. SNIP

 

 

Well Murph, you keep throwing vague generalisations (see what I did there :) ) based on very little apart from the word "slows", a couple of names and unsupported assertions. Mebbe you could enlighten us and provoke a bit more discussion by providing a bit more detail. Altho there's lays the risk that the additional detail will reveal your opening premise to simply be mince, to use the local argot. :)

 

BillB 

 

 

 

Appraising Monty's qualities for Goodwood is rather shortsighted, after all he was attacking the German's strongest point, but if he had gone for the weakest one, the merit would be for the Americans? (see Cobra)


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#40 rmgill

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Posted 24 November 2013 - 1335 PM

Didn't Monty HAVE to keep up the pressure to keep the German armored divisions pinned? Couldn't it be argued that most of the allied left flank prior to Cobra was one long spoiling attack? Was it planned that way or did it merely work out that way?  Careful husbanding of resources would go with that. Does the mass air bombardment contradict that or is it just more action designed to wear down the Germans and keep their attention focused on the left flank vs looking towards the right? 


Edited by rmgill, 24 November 2013 - 1337 PM.

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