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#41 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 1207 PM

Army Green Books, Corps of Engineers:  Troops and Equipment goes into quite a bit of detail on the different mechanical solutions to minefield breaching during the war (to include evaluating all of the Brit stuff).  To put it bluntly, nothing really worked very well.  We went through another drill on this in the 70s and 80s with lots and lots of different ideas for minefield breaching.  The Engineer School and ERDL had lots of projects ongoing.  Again, nothing worked really well.

 

In essence, here were the problems they were not able to surmount:

1.  Too slow and vulnerable to covering fire.

2.  Cleared most of the mines buy left the remainder "supersensitive".

3.  First mine cleared destroyed the device.

 

All of the systems were deficient in one or more of those areas.



#42 Rich

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 1251 PM

Army Green Books, Corps of Engineers:  Troops and Equipment goes into quite a bit of detail on the different mechanical solutions to minefield breaching during the war (to include evaluating all of the Brit stuff).  To put it bluntly, nothing really worked very well.  We went through another drill on this in the 70s and 80s with lots and lots of different ideas for minefield breaching.  The Engineer School and ERDL had lots of projects ongoing.  Again, nothing worked really well.

 

In essence, here were the problems they were not able to surmount:

1.  Too slow and vulnerable to covering fire.

2.  Cleared most of the mines buy left the remainder "supersensitive".

3.  First mine cleared destroyed the device.

 

All of the systems were deficient in one or more of those areas.

 

Yes, to a degree, but to put it bluntly :D  perfect is the enemy of good enough.

 

Flail-types create clouds of dust, are subject to damage, and do not clear all mines...but they clear most of them. Surprisingly enough, the flails clearing the British minefields for GOODWOOD apparently suffered no vehicle losses, the numbers drowned in NEPTUNE probably exceeded those knocked out by gunfire, and in general their losses never seem to be excessive. The major problem with the disk-types was their mobility and maneuverability...T1E1 and T1E3 were noted to be almost invulnerable to damage, did not create clouds of dust, but T1E1 got easily stuck in the craters (thus the TRV crane to extract it) and its vehicle had no weapon...T1E3 had a weapon, but got stuck too easily...so the using battalions and the General Board recommended flails as standard while development continued. The solution instead? Continue development, but field nothing in the 45-year interim.

 

1. Shit happens. Its faster and less vulnerable than an engineer crawling on his belly.

2. See 1.

3. Actually, the chains on the flails were periodically replaced as they were lost, but it was rare for the drum to be "destroyed". The disk types required a stack of Teller mines to damage them badly enough to require repair...meanwhile, see 1.

 

Yep...and the same reasoning applies to ABV, but at least the Army finally fielded it...just 68 years after the requirement was identified.



#43 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 0121 AM

Army Green Books, Corps of Engineers:  Troops and Equipment goes into quite a bit of detail on the different mechanical solutions to minefield breaching during the war (to include evaluating all of the Brit stuff).  To put it bluntly, nothing really worked very well.  We went through another drill on this in the 70s and 80s with lots and lots of different ideas for minefield breaching.  The Engineer School and ERDL had lots of projects ongoing.  Again, nothing worked really well.

 

In essence, here were the problems they were not able to surmount:

1.  Too slow and vulnerable to covering fire.

2.  Cleared most of the mines buy left the remainder "supersensitive".

3.  First mine cleared destroyed the device.

 

All of the systems were deficient in one or more of those areas.

 

There was one system, I cant remember the name but it might have been Congar, where you filled a giant sausage full of high explosive and pushed it onto the minefield and detonated. It was slow, and on at least one occasion detonated prematurely and took out most of an AVRE Squadron. But it did work, and try as I might, cant think of anything that did a better job of minefield clearing in WW2. And that really is the point, whatever the flaws of these systems, they were rather better than sending someone out with a bayonet, or at best, a bayonet and a metal detector, to see what was there.

 

Here is the thing. You can draw a straight line from the innovations of the 79th Armoued Division up to the armoured engineer troops of the British Army today, whether its bridgelayers, fascine carriers, or even bobbin carriers. If they were so awful and ineffective, one has to demonstrate quite why they were retained postwar, further developed, and in many cases eventually adopted postwar by the US Army that rejected them as a waste of time. One example being the 165mm gun from the Centurion which was eventually adopted as the main armament of the M728. And we were very good at dropping ineffective equipment, look how quickly we tried to forget the panjandrum.

:D

 

Maybe the mounting vehicle was understandably unattractive to the US Army, but Ive never understood why they didnt adopt other engineer variants based on the Sherman chassis for DDAY. They did after all pick up the DD Tank with alacrity, so it cannot be they just were not aware of them.



#44 Rich

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 1128 AM

Maybe the mounting vehicle was understandably unattractive to the US Army, but Ive never understood why they didnt adopt other engineer variants based on the Sherman chassis for DDAY. They did after all pick up the DD Tank with alacrity, so it cannot be they just were not aware of them.

 

 

Stuart, they tried to "adopt engineer variants based on the Sherman chassis for DDAY", but they did not receive them for DDAY. They were fully aware of them and requested most of them (they did not want the complication of adopting a Churchill-based AVRE, but then there were not enough of those to go around in time either), but for various reasons could not get them. ETOUSA was authorized in September 1943 to use flail-type mineclearers as developed by the British and requested Crabs from them for D-Day. Twenty were delivered...in May, too late to be included in the loading plan. Ditto the American-designed disk clearers...the first T1E1 were delivered in late April, but were unsatisfactory for beach use. Meanwhile, in the States, the Engineers worked with early line charge clearing methods and Ordnance worked on mechanical methods as well as a Sherman-based AVRE...the first pilot of which was completed in July. Then of course, with the pilot accepted, an argument broke out over who would furnish the personnel (critical item in short supply) and specialized organization (in an Army were such were treated as anathema to good order) to man them.

 

So yes, they were "aware" of them.



#45 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 1237 PM

 

Maybe the mounting vehicle was understandably unattractive to the US Army, but Ive never understood why they didnt adopt other engineer variants based on the Sherman chassis for DDAY. They did after all pick up the DD Tank with alacrity, so it cannot be they just were not aware of them.

 

 

Stuart, they tried to "adopt engineer variants based on the Sherman chassis for DDAY", but they did not receive them for DDAY. They were fully aware of them and requested most of them (they did not want the complication of adopting a Churchill-based AVRE, but then there were not enough of those to go around in time either), but for various reasons could not get them. ETOUSA was authorized in September 1943 to use flail-type mineclearers as developed by the British and requested Crabs from them for D-Day. Twenty were delivered...in May, too late to be included in the loading plan. Ditto the American-designed disk clearers...the first T1E1 were delivered in late April, but were unsatisfactory for beach use. Meanwhile, in the States, the Engineers worked with early line charge clearing methods and Ordnance worked on mechanical methods as well as a Sherman-based AVRE...the first pilot of which was completed in July. Then of course, with the pilot accepted, an argument broke out over who would furnish the personnel (critical item in short supply) and specialized organization (in an Army were such were treated as anathema to good order) to man them.

 

So yes, they were "aware" of them.

 

Ok, well that makes perfect sense.  its a procurement screw up rather than any lack of interest in the concept?

 

Why precisely did this not work out, and the DD Shermans did?



#46 Rich

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 1052 AM

Ok, well that makes perfect sense.  its a procurement screw up rather than any lack of interest in the concept?

 

Why precisely did this not work out, and the DD Shermans did?

 

 

 

In a sense, yes, a procurement screw up...except the timetable was rather tight. The actual go-ahead for planning and thus requirements for NEPTUNE occurred in early February 1944, with a projected early May D-Day. Effectively three months. At that time it was unclear how many AVRE would be complete for the 1st Assault Brigade, let alone for American use. I suspect it was a relief that the Americans believed a Sherman-based engineer vehicle was in the offing. So then, a few weeks later when it was apparent the Sherman assault engineer vehicle would not be ready until summer at earliest, it was time for expedients...mounting the 7.2" rocket launcher on the Sherman for instance (but, whoops, when loaded in an LCT (A) it tends to make the vessel capsize). Same for the mine clearers...okay, so the ETOUSA was allowed SCORPION in September 1943, except it was obsolescent and the Brits were developing CRAB, then CRAB II and again, when push came to shove, none were available for the U.S. forces in time for the delayed end-May load-out (and planning freeze c. 22 May). Also, the arrival of the first two T1E1 and two T1E3 made it apparent they were impractical for beach assault. And so on, all in the space of about 13 weeks.

 

The DD Sherman was essentially a conversion kit and was fully developed by April 1943. They were demonstrated to the ETOUSA in early November and the decision to acquire them was in December. The U.S. conversion program began in January 1944, with final orders issued on 19 February, just ten days after NEPTUNE planning began, and 348 converted DD were delivered to the UK by 30 April, while British production was 220, more than enough for total requirements. However, even then, unit training was in mid-April, so just five weeks or so before the final load-out.

 

The AVRE was a complete vehicle rebuild, while the CRAB was a bit in between the two. Time was the enemy.



#47 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 1123 AM

Speaking of Brit inventions, how much in the way of manpower and manufacturing time went into the CDL program?  How many times were the CDL actually used in combat? 



#48 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 1135 AM

Speaking of Brit inventions, how much in the way of manpower and manufacturing time went into the CDL program?  How many times were the CDL actually used in combat? 

 

Once, in the crossing of the Rhine I think? Im not sure it was entirely wasted. After all they were based on obsolescent tank chassis, and at least it created a pool of manpower they could use for something else. Also, it must be remembered that if the war had gone on longer it might have paid off in having a platform suitable for IR searchlights. We were already working on IR driving systems (I think we actually fielded it on the WIllys Jeep before the end of the war) and looking at what eventually was adopted on Centurion and latterly Chieftain, it clearly had potential for the future. IR lamps on German tanks at the end of the war were relatively short range looking things. It would have only required an IR cover over the top of the CDL and we might have had a world beating system. If you look at the searchlight system on Chieftain you can see what im thinking.

 

 

 

Ok, well that makes perfect sense.  its a procurement screw up rather than any lack of interest in the concept?

 

Why precisely did this not work out, and the DD Shermans did?

 

 

 

In a sense, yes, a procurement screw up...except the timetable was rather tight. The actual go-ahead for planning and thus requirements for NEPTUNE occurred in early February 1944, with a projected early May D-Day. Effectively three months. At that time it was unclear how many AVRE would be complete for the 1st Assault Brigade, let alone for American use. I suspect it was a relief that the Americans believed a Sherman-based engineer vehicle was in the offing. So then, a few weeks later when it was apparent the Sherman assault engineer vehicle would not be ready until summer at earliest, it was time for expedients...mounting the 7.2" rocket launcher on the Sherman for instance (but, whoops, when loaded in an LCT (A) it tends to make the vessel capsize). Same for the mine clearers...okay, so the ETOUSA was allowed SCORPION in September 1943, except it was obsolescent and the Brits were developing CRAB, then CRAB II and again, when push came to shove, none were available for the U.S. forces in time for the delayed end-May load-out (and planning freeze c. 22 May). Also, the arrival of the first two T1E1 and two T1E3 made it apparent they were impractical for beach assault. And so on, all in the space of about 13 weeks.

 

The DD Sherman was essentially a conversion kit and was fully developed by April 1943. They were demonstrated to the ETOUSA in early November and the decision to acquire them was in December. The U.S. conversion program began in January 1944, with final orders issued on 19 February, just ten days after NEPTUNE planning began, and 348 converted DD were delivered to the UK by 30 April, while British production was 220, more than enough for total requirements. However, even then, unit training was in mid-April, so just five weeks or so before the final load-out.

 

The AVRE was a complete vehicle rebuild, while the CRAB was a bit in between the two. Time was the enemy.

 

I remember someone saying they found one off the coast of italy, suggesting it was actually field tested long before DDAY.

 

Its just odd that at every turn we had a system for our tanks that was in service, that either was very late into service in the US, or never arrived at all (im thinking particularly of 17 Pounder here). What I cant work out is if this is some kind of institutional inertia, or for some reason they were not aware of what the British were doing until too late to adopt it. Im not judging, particularly in light of the chaos of British tank development of the era. Im just not sure why it is, particularly when the US were particularly quick to adopt RAF innovations, such as H2X and other navigation aides, they even evaluated the bouncing bomb only a few months after it saw service. In the air forces it seemed to work, at sea it seemed to work, on land it didnt. That kind of odd I cant help but think.

 

Was the 105mm Sherman available to fulfill an ersatz ARVE role in time for DDAY? That might have been quite effective.



#49 Rich

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 1211 PM

I remember someone saying they found one off the coast of italy, suggesting it was actually field tested long before DDAY.

 

Its just odd that at every turn we had a system for our tanks that was in service, that either was very late into service in the US, or never arrived at all (im thinking particularly of 17 Pounder here). What I cant work out is if this is some kind of institutional inertia, or for some reason they were not aware of what the British were doing until too late to adopt it. Im not judging, particularly in light of the chaos of British tank development of the era. Im just not sure why it is, particularly when the US were particularly quick to adopt RAF innovations, such as H2X and other navigation aides, they even evaluated the bouncing bomb only a few months after it saw service. In the air forces it seemed to work, at sea it seemed to work, on land it didnt. That kind of odd I cant help but think.

 

Was the 105mm Sherman available to fulfill an ersatz ARVE role in time for DDAY? That might have been quite effective.

 

 

Nope, sorry, the recovered DD tank at Piana Dell Orme is one of two lost off Salerno while training for DRAGOON between 10 July and 10 August 1944, long after 6 June.

 

Not 17-pounder again...please! :D 

 

No, the 105mm howitzer would have done little better in clearing obstacles than any other conventional field piece and had little capability against concrete fortifications. For that matter, the 7.2" rocket was later found ineffective against obstacles and fortifications.



#50 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 1244 PM

 

I remember someone saying they found one off the coast of italy, suggesting it was actually field tested long before DDAY.

 

Its just odd that at every turn we had a system for our tanks that was in service, that either was very late into service in the US, or never arrived at all (im thinking particularly of 17 Pounder here). What I cant work out is if this is some kind of institutional inertia, or for some reason they were not aware of what the British were doing until too late to adopt it. Im not judging, particularly in light of the chaos of British tank development of the era. Im just not sure why it is, particularly when the US were particularly quick to adopt RAF innovations, such as H2X and other navigation aides, they even evaluated the bouncing bomb only a few months after it saw service. In the air forces it seemed to work, at sea it seemed to work, on land it didnt. That kind of odd I cant help but think.

 

Was the 105mm Sherman available to fulfill an ersatz ARVE role in time for DDAY? That might have been quite effective.

 

 

Nope, sorry, the recovered DD tank at Piana Dell Orme is one of two lost off Salerno while training for DRAGOON between 10 July and 10 August 1944, long after 6 June.

 

Not 17-pounder again...please! :D

 

No, the 105mm howitzer would have done little better in clearing obstacles than any other conventional field piece and had little capability against concrete fortifications. For that matter, the 7.2" rocket was later found ineffective against obstacles and fortifications.

 

Oh thanks for that, Id heard the last on that one. The last I heard it was supposed to predate DDAY?



#51 Rich

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 1320 PM

Oh thanks for that, Id heard the last on that one. The last I heard it was supposed to predate DDAY?

 

 

I hate to say it, but there are some types online who like to fudge dates in order to make an argument. :P



#52 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 0110 AM

 

Oh thanks for that, Id heard the last on that one. The last I heard it was supposed to predate DDAY?

 

 

I hate to say it, but there are some types online who like to fudge dates in order to make an argument. :P

 

 

Not at all I quite believe you, it was just when we were discussing this on here last there was a strong suggestion it was pre DDAY, hence all the surprise at finding it there. Now all they have to do is find a 17 Pounder sherman lying beside it and we really would have something to argue about. :D



#53 Rich

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 1138 AM

The more I dig, the more apparent it becomes that the 17-pdr "issue" was never much of an issue considered during the war. The idea that somehow U.S. Army Ordnance would suddenly realize the defects of the APC and fusing and so jump on the 17-pdr as a "solution" is delusional. They tried it as an alternative to the 76mm and did not like it. It did not meet with either Ordnance or Armored Board requirements and certainly did not fit the realities of industrial mobilization...which gun foundry producing 3" and 76mm guns would be retooled to produce an American 17-pdr? Who authorizes the production delay? The British knowingly built substandard tanks for years because they felt they could not afford to lose the production resource while retooling. The Americans faced the same reality.

 

BTW, the "issue" of mine clearers is pretty much the same...Ordnance built an American Scorpion and issued it. It was discarded after its first use it was considered so bad. Then, in typical American Ordnance fashion, they researched the "perfect" flail and built it...just in time for the war to end.



#54 bojan

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 1748 PM

If 76mm APC fusing was a problem they could have switched to solid shot w/o explosive while they solved issue, just like Soviets did. So it seems to me that potential solution would most definitely not be change of gun.

Keep researching, it is always interesting to see old myths busted :)


Edited by bojan, 14 July 2017 - 1748 PM.


#55 Brian Kennedy

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 1752 PM

This is the best threadjack ever (and I'm not saying this ironically, I'm learning a lot).



#56 Adam_S

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 0257 AM

The more I dig, the more apparent it becomes that the 17-pdr "issue" was never much of an issue considered during the war. The idea that somehow U.S. Army Ordnance would suddenly realize the defects of the APC and fusing and so jump on the 17-pdr as a "solution" is delusional. They tried it as an alternative to the 76mm and did not like it. It did not meet with either Ordnance or Armored Board requirements and certainly did not fit the realities of industrial mobilization...which gun foundry producing 3" and 76mm guns would be retooled to produce an American 17-pdr? Who authorizes the production delay? The British knowingly built substandard tanks for years because they felt they could not afford to lose the production resource while retooling. The Americans faced the same reality.

 

BTW, the "issue" of mine clearers is pretty much the same...Ordnance built an American Scorpion and issued it. It was discarded after its first use it was considered so bad. Then, in typical American Ordnance fashion, they researched the "perfect" flail and built it...just in time for the war to end.

 

It's worth watching Nick Moran's video on the Firefly tank for some very valid reasons why the 17pdr wasn't adopted by the US.



#57 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 0630 AM

The more I dig, the more apparent it becomes that the 17-pdr "issue" was never much of an issue considered during the war. The idea that somehow U.S. Army Ordnance would suddenly realize the defects of the APC and fusing and so jump on the 17-pdr as a "solution" is delusional. They tried it as an alternative to the 76mm and did not like it. It did not meet with either Ordnance or Armored Board requirements and certainly did not fit the realities of industrial mobilization...which gun foundry producing 3" and 76mm guns would be retooled to produce an American 17-pdr? Who authorizes the production delay? The British knowingly built substandard tanks for years because they felt they could not afford to lose the production resource while retooling. The Americans faced the same reality.

 

BTW, the "issue" of mine clearers is pretty much the same...Ordnance built an American Scorpion and issued it. It was discarded after its first use it was considered so bad. Then, in typical American Ordnance fashion, they researched the "perfect" flail and built it...just in time for the war to end.

Biggest problem for the 76mm was lack of tungsten for ammo.  The AAF had the War production Board priorities for tungsten for machine tools.  Very little was available to Ordnance for ammo.  Tanks had very, very low priority under the WPB.  The Chrysler Multibank was an emergency stop gap because auto engines were available while AAF scarfed up all the radial production and the USN scarfed by the diesels.  Tanks only got the Ford GAA because the AAF decided to go with Packard-Merlins leaving the Ford production to the tankers.  The 76mm and the 3inch were adequate guns with inadequate ammunition.



#58 Rich

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 1101 AM

 

It's worth watching Nick Moran's video on the Firefly tank for some very valid reasons why the 17pdr wasn't adopted by the US.

 

 

Or reading the original documents he read. :D



#59 Rich

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 1127 AM

Biggest problem for the 76mm was lack of tungsten for ammo.  The AAF had the War production Board priorities for tungsten for machine tools.  Very little was available to Ordnance for ammo.  Tanks had very, very low priority under the WPB.  The Chrysler Multibank was an emergency stop gap because auto engines were available while AAF scarfed up all the radial production and the USN scarfed by the diesels.  Tanks only got the Ford GAA because the AAF decided to go with Packard-Merlins leaving the Ford production to the tankers.  The 76mm and the 3inch were adequate guns with inadequate ammunition.

 

 

 

To a degree, yes, but it is too easy to use tungsten as a cop-out. The 76mm also was problematic because the Armor Force preferred the HE performance of the 75mm and never really changed there mind on that because Ordnance never developed a lower velocity HE round for it as the Germans (and eventually British for 17-pdr) did. Nor was "tungsten" the only solution. Proper heat treating of the AP projectile and more work on the fusing or discarding the APHE entirely in conjunction with improved heat treating would have been about as good. It is significant that when the Navy tested 3"/76mm AP performance after the end of the war they found the 3" AP produced to Navy specs performed well, while the 76mm consistently shattered. On top of that, the Armor Force consistently shot itself in the foot. Even Jake Devers, perhaps the smartest general to achieve his rank during the war, bollixed the 76mm acquisition, by reversing himself on the M4A1 (76mm) and so allowing the TD Command to scarf up available production for a year.

 

Nor is the engine problem so cut and dried. Prewar Ordnance settled on gasoline radials for its tanks, with a diesel radial back up. By early 1941 it was obvious the Air Corps plan enunciated by Roosevelt would consume all excess production of radial gasoline engines, so the diesel backup was activated...and the Armor Force accepted, only to reverse itself six months later - NO RADIALS and NO DIESELS wanted...oh, but maybe we'll accept gasoline radials until something else comes up. That left Ordnance scrambling for ANY solution after expending some seven years developing the radials. Yes, the A57 was an emergency stop gap, but so was the Ford GA series, the GM twin diesel (oh no, diesel!). BTW, the AAF did not "decide" on Packard, the original manufacturer was Ford, but Henry famously reneged on the deal because it was to supply the British...OTOH he was clever enough to make sure the Rolls-Royce drawings and specs were examined in minute detail by the Ford engineers to give them a leg up on their own engine.

 

In any case, Armor refused the A57 because the pilot design was so problematic, even though the engineer assessment was that with tweaking it would work fine, which is what happened. In the end, the only "problem" with the A57 was its size and weight, it was actually the most reliable of the engines. They refused radials because after seven years of developing 1st echelon maintenance requirements for it, they apparently thought that was too much for the crews. They refused diesels because, well, apparently they didn't like the smell, because there was never a clearly enunciated reason against them that made any sense. That left the GA-series, which meant they hitched themselves to a development project that was a fraught with problems as the A57, where production was too limited until late 1943 when development was complete, which meant that the American tankers received Armor's preferred tank engine in the fall of 1944...and then in winter 1944/45 begged for tanks with any kind of engine to fill shortfalls, which meant American tankers were driving M4A2 and M4A4 in the spring of 1945.

 

Meanwhile, the Marines had zero problems using the M4A2.



#60 Tim the Tank Nut

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 1150 AM

didn't General Patton say that perfect was the enemy of good enough?

Between the Armor Force leadership and Ordnance sometimes I think that it is a miracle we built tanks at all

 

Maybe if Chaffee hadn't fallen ill...






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