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#41 lastdingo

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 1504 PM

If you look at Matilda, yes it was slow, yes the engine installation was not the best choice, but it was in many respects the best armoured and gunned tank in Europe in 1940.

 

Not by a long shot. The Char B-1bis had much better armament and the same protection.

 

The Matilda II's armament was terrible because very few HE cartridges were available if at all. A small calibre AT gun + a normal calibre machinegun was nothing to write home about in 1940.

 

Also keep in mind that the first T-34s appeared in 1940 and the KV-1 appeared in 1939.



#42 Rich

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 1538 PM

I doubt it. Would Germans from the 30s and 40s be that familiar with US cigarette lighter brands? ... Tommykocher(=tommy cooker) that's what they were called.

 

I agree, but Ronson was an international brand. The problem really is the slogan "lights first time, every time" never existed and the closest "a RONSON lights every time" was used in a 1929 ad in Time and the New Yorker magazines in May 1929. It is a bit far-fetched to think it was still in common usage in both the US and Britain over 20 years later.

 

Markus, have you found any documents from the time, which use the term Tommykocher? The only mention I have ever found was in Hansard, 13 March 1945, and referred to MP Richard Stokes (Ipswich 1938-1957) saying the British newspapers were claiming that the Germans were routinely using it as a comment. This was all part of the late-war kerfluffle started by Hanson Baldwin in the New York Times on 3 January 1945.



#43 Getz

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 1539 PM

 

If you look at Matilda, yes it was slow, yes the engine installation was not the best choice, but it was in many respects the best armoured and gunned tank in Europe in 1940.

 

Not by a long shot. The Char B-1bis had much better armament and the same protection.

.

 

 

Not so, the thickest armour armour on the Char B-1bis was 60mm compared to the Matilda IIs 78mm.  Also, the French 47mm was nowhere near as potent in the anti-tank role as the 2 pdr - assuming the commander is able to use it at all when he isn't trying to command the vehicle and communicate with he troop.  The 75mm was a good at throwing HE at bunkers, but it was completely useless against tanks.

 

Obviously the lack of HE for 2pdr equipped tanks is a significant and well known problem, but in a tank vs tank battle between a Matilda II and a Char B1bis I'd put my money on the Matilda every time (although admittedly both tanks would have difficulty harming the other)



#44 Markus Becker

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 1650 PM

Not by a long shot. The Char B-1bis had much better armament and the same protection.


The 47mm was in a one man turret and the 75mm had no(!) traverse.

https://youtu.be/tz8L1FU74Rs


Markus, have you found any documents from the time, which use the term Tommykocher?


Unlike Nick I'm not getting paid to dig into old archives, so no. Just saying what I read in secondary sources.

#45 Manic Moran

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 0042 AM

 

If you look at Matilda, yes it was slow, yes the engine installation was not the best choice, but it was in many respects the best armoured and gunned tank in Europe in 1940.

 

Not by a long shot. The Char B-1bis had much better armament and the same protection.

 

The Matilda II's armament was terrible because very few HE cartridges were available if at all. A small calibre AT gun + a normal calibre machinegun was nothing to write home about in 1940.

 

Also keep in mind that the first T-34s appeared in 1940 and the KV-1 appeared in 1939.

 

 

 

Wait until you see my video on the Char B then... I pity the loader on the 7.5 particularly :)



#46 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 0201 AM

 

If you look at Matilda, yes it was slow, yes the engine installation was not the best choice, but it was in many respects the best armoured and gunned tank in Europe in 1940.

 

Not by a long shot. The Char B-1bis had much better armament and the same protection.

 

The Matilda II's armament was terrible because very few HE cartridges were available if at all. A small calibre AT gun + a normal calibre machinegun was nothing to write home about in 1940.

 

Also keep in mind that the first T-34s appeared in 1940 and the KV-1 appeared in 1939.

 

And a truly awful crew compartment that meant it was unable to bring the 75mm to bear without a herculean effort. Which it usually failed to do.

 

Yes, we keep touching on the few HE cartidges. I dont believe this matters, if the British had a truly combined arms scheme where they could bring aircraft or artillery to bear when it mattered. They had this methodology partially worked out in the 1930s on Salisbury Plain and they threw it away. That they did not until after the Matilda left service exposed this particular failing in the tank.. I personally think for Tank Vs Tank combat, it was the best available in France at the time. It had a good crew comparment, it had a good gun, it had good armour protection. One can read comments about how the Royal Tank Regiment faired with the vehicle when counterattacking at Arras. The Germans were truly scared, and claim they only succeeded in beating the attack off with depressed 88mm's, which they seemed fit to do with the Char B. Matilda II, not the Char B, influenced the Germans towards Heavy Tank development.

 

 

The point is, the counter attack failed, not due to any failings on the tank. It failed due to poor coordination (the infantry didnt turn up to the jumping off point in time)and it failed due to inadequate numbers of equipment (14 Matilda II and something like 58 Matilda 1 was never going to be enough to get a breakthrough). This to me points more to problems with the way the British Army was doing business, less so with its equipment. In fact many of the similar problems occurred in the Western Desert even after we had taken delivery of American equipment. Which suggests to me the blame culture towards British armour goes way to deep.

 

I might add, ive no time for the lamentable crusader. Cruiser tank design was clearly pants until we developed Cromwell. But as far as infantry support tanks (and yes HE rounds were inadequate thats clear) Im not particularly convinced the British were not capable of putting survivable tanks in the field from fairly early on. They just didnt know how to use them. Yet.


Edited by Stuart Galbraith, 05 September 2017 - 0209 AM.


#47 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 0208 AM

 

 

He did good work on postwar nuclear strategy though. It was his efforts that made sure the British Army was not denuded under an effort to copy the American reliance on Davy Crockett, which they tried to talk us into. He also put some good work into operational analysis of attacks on U boats with resulted in depth charges being set for shallower depths, which had good results. He also proved that the convoy's could be expanded with any further escorts, which kind of flew in the face of all reason but actually seemed to reduce the number of sinkings of merchantman.

 

What precisely was wrong with the transportation plan? Because looking at DDay, it clearly had a positive outcome in reducing German reinforcements. Or was there was wider plan previous to this that ive ignorant of?

 

 

You mean he kept the Davy Crockett out of the British arsenal? The man was obviously mad as a hatter... :D

 

Zuckerman's "Transport Plan" as he first called it, was directed at 79 marshaling yards (he added 14 more a few weeks later) in France and the Low Countries, which he insisted had to be hit by 500-lb GP bombs of greater to inflict maximum cratering. However, it was pointed out to him that the yards he chose as targets were all in the center of, or in close proximity to, urban centers heavily populated by French, Belgian, and Dutch civilians...a notion he pooh-poohed. Then, the Ninth Air Force and RAF TAF pointed out that it might be better to strike at the railroads between the yards, causing congestion in the yards before striking them, so at least more locomotives and cars could be damaged...a notion he pooh-poohed, claiming the narrow rail lines were too hard a target and too easily repaired. Then, the tactical air forces suggested that bridges and viaducts were a good target and were harder to repair, given that damaged yard section could be repaired easily by filling a few craters and laying replacement track. He pooh-poohed the idea, claiming bridges were too small a target and so would require large numbers of heavy bombers to damage them. After a few demonstrations on bombing accuracy of bridges by light and medium low-level attacks, he finally, reluctantly gave in on that and agreed to add bridges to the target list.

 

Then General Spaatz pointed out a more valuable use of the heavy bombers was probably striking the German fuel production plants...yet another idea he pooh-poohed as impractical.

 

Finally, the Eighth Air Force Bombing Accuracy OR group, after being asked to analyze the target list, pointed out that the analysis of their Bombs and Fuzes Subgroup was that 100-lb GP bombs were more practical for hitting the yards, since it would produce more cratering area and three times the craters as an equivalent 500-lb GP load per aircraft, three to four times better chances of direct hits on locomotives, which was required for assured destruction by either bomb type...and Zuckerman pooh-poohed the ideas again, insisting on the 500-lb bombs.

 

Remember, he was a biologist and not a physicist.

 

It turned out that unless the yards were crowded with trains they were remarkably resistant to damage and easy to repair. The 500-lb bombs caused immense collateral damage in the cities and towns adjacent to the yards, resulting in somewhere between 6,000 and 20,000 civilian deaths. Allied tactical air forces soon discovered that cutting rail lines was relatively easy, since short and long bombing errors made little difference when attacking a long, straight rail section...and the dozens of cuts complicated German efforts to get repair trains to the worst blockages. The bridges too became the more important choke point, since simple damage required lowering train weights and speeds, and a destroyed bridge was almost impossible to repair in the context of the campaign length.

 

In other words, everything Zuckerman pooh-poohed was correct and he was wrong. It worked, mostly because the elements he initially refused to agree to were tried anyway and were found to work, and so carried out. The yard attacks eventually had a cumulative effect at reducing operational locomotive strengths since the repair facilities associated with them were destroyed or damaged, but it was the cumulative effect of the rail and bridge cuts that actually strangled the rail movements.

 

 

Just as a matter of interest, what date was this? Was this the lead up to the Normandy campaign, or was it 1943? Because I know for a fact that Harris was highly resistant to panacea targets, such as hitting things like this or oil targets, which fighting Harris must have had a grave impact on his reasonably. :D

 

As far as viaducts, you are clearly right, that did work. I was just reading a really interesting book on 617 Squadron and they undertook a second career I was not aware of pinpoint viaducts, even before they got hold of the Earthquake bomb later in the war.

 

 

One can look at German air raids on British marshalling yards and they were similarly resistant to damage. I suspect that part of the reason was you didnt really need dead level ground. So you fil the hole in and relay the track, if the ground shifts it matters little because its all low speed shunt movements. I dont believe we went in for hump shunting till the 1950s. Dont know about the French.



#48 Markus Becker

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 0606 AM

a notion he pooh-poohed, claiming the narrow rail lines were too hard a target and too easily repaired.


He was absolutely right in this regard. Back then rails were not welded together but screwed, railways had lots of personell and so many lines that traffic could be re-routed rather easily. Better go after individual trains with fighter bombers.

#49 Dark_Falcon

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 0740 AM

 

 

If you look at Matilda, yes it was slow, yes the engine installation was not the best choice, but it was in many respects the best armoured and gunned tank in Europe in 1940.

 

Not by a long shot. The Char B-1bis had much better armament and the same protection.

.

 

 

Not so, the thickest armour armour on the Char B-1bis was 60mm compared to the Matilda IIs 78mm.  Also, the French 47mm was nowhere near as potent in the anti-tank role as the 2 pdr - assuming the commander is able to use it at all when he isn't trying to command the vehicle and communicate with he troop.  The 75mm was a good at throwing HE at bunkers, but it was completely useless against tanks.

 

Obviously the lack of HE for 2pdr equipped tanks is a significant and well known problem, but in a tank vs tank battle between a Matilda II and a Char B1bis I'd put my money on the Matilda every time (although admittedly both tanks would have difficulty harming the other)

 

 

Me too.  Despite all of its issues with the crew space, the Matilda's 3-man turret allowed the commander and gunner to focus on their primary tasks and that made it much more effective in combat.



#50 Rich

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 0905 AM

 

Just as a matter of interest, what date was this? Was this the lead up to the Normandy campaign, or was it 1943? Because I know for a fact that Harris was highly resistant to panacea targets, such as hitting things like this or oil targets, which fighting Harris must have had a grave impact on his reasonably. :D

 

 

The Transport Plan final discussions were 27 March 1944. Leigh-Mallory and Tedder sided with Zuckerman, leaving Spaatz out in the cold. Interestingly, I don't know what Harris' input was if any at that meeting? The Eighth Air Force Bomb Section input was in April. Meanwhile, the first Leuena strike in May demonstrated Spaatz was right.



#51 Rich

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 0908 AM

 

a notion he pooh-poohed, claiming the narrow rail lines were too hard a target and too easily repaired.


He was absolutely right in this regard. Back then rails were not welded together but screwed, railways had lots of personell and so many lines that traffic could be re-routed rather easily. Better go after individual trains with fighter bombers.

 

 

 

Uh, no, what transpired in Normandy demonstrated that was not the case. Multiple cuts on single lines literally became the death by a thousand cuts. Combined with the near isolation of the battlefield by the cutting of the Loire and Seine bridges it became a rail desert.



#52 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 0912 AM

From what I read in Neillands 'The Bomber War' (well worth getting if you havent got it yet) Harris tried to have as little to do with the transport plan as he could. I think he viewed the whole thing as a distraction from area bombing of German cities. Read another way, he wanted to win the war himself, without helping the army do it. :D With that in mind, Harris may simply not have been invited. Ill certainly look it out and refresh my memory on it, its been some time since I seriously read it.

 

In fairness he (Harris) did put a lot of strength behind it when he was ordered to. The problem to my mind might be that not having him on board at the start may have played a role in any lack of accuracy. For example, we know Bomber command could do fairly pinpoint bombing in poor conditions from the Peenemunde raid (or at least part of the bombing was accurate, mainly 5 Group I think). Keeping himself out in the cold may have have resulted in not playing to Bomber commands strengths.

 

Parts of the transportation plan are known to have worked. I gather SOE or the French resistance managed to spike some of the flatcars on the SNCF, which mean that many German tanks had to drive to the battlefront on their tracks, not helping reliablity or fuel consumpion. So just maybe the theory was right, the capability to do it was wrong. That was true for most of the bomber war when you think about it.



#53 Markus Becker

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 0951 AM

 


 


If you look at Matilda, yes it was slow, yes the engine installation was not the best choice, but it was in many respects the best armoured and gunned tank in Europe in 1940.

 
Not by a long shot. The Char B-1bis had much better armament and the same protection.
 
The Matilda II's armament was terrible because very few HE cartridges were available if at all. A small calibre AT gun + a normal calibre machinegun was nothing to write home about in 1940.
 
Also keep in mind that the first T-34s appeared in 1940 and the KV-1 appeared in 1939.
 
 
 
Wait until you see my video on the Char B then... I pity the loader on the 7.5 particularly :)
 

Wait? You can't dangle that in front of us and expect us to wait. That's cruel. ;)

#54 Manic Moran

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 1533 PM

Sure I can.

 

As an aside, Julian Thompson's book on Dunkirk makes a highly convincing argument that Arras was never intended to be a counter-attack, and was merely a  limited clearing operation to relieve the pressure on Arras's Western and Southern perimeter.



#55 Yama

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 1651 PM

 

a notion he pooh-poohed, claiming the narrow rail lines were too hard a target and too easily repaired.


He was absolutely right in this regard. Back then rails were not welded together but screwed, railways had lots of personell and so many lines that traffic could be re-routed rather easily. Better go after individual trains with fighter bombers.

 

 

This was Finnish experience as well. Finns and Germans bombed Murmansk railroad many times, and effect was poor, even 250kg direct hit on the tracks was usually repaired within a day. Maybe it was different if you had truly huge number of bombers available.



#56 Rich

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 2013 PM

From what I read in Neillands 'The Bomber War' (well worth getting if you havent got it yet)

 

Ah, yes, Neillands...yes, his "Bomber War" and "Normandy" used to be on my shelves. Used to be. Good reasons for that tense. :D

 

Cheers!



#57 Colin

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Posted 05 September 2017 - 2227 PM

 

 

If you look at Matilda, yes it was slow, yes the engine installation was not the best choice, but it was in many respects the best armoured and gunned tank in Europe in 1940.

 

Not by a long shot. The Char B-1bis had much better armament and the same protection.

 

The Matilda II's armament was terrible because very few HE cartridges were available if at all. A small calibre AT gun + a normal calibre machinegun was nothing to write home about in 1940.

 

Also keep in mind that the first T-34s appeared in 1940 and the KV-1 appeared in 1939.

 

And a truly awful crew compartment that meant it was unable to bring the 75mm to bear without a herculean effort. Which it usually failed to do.

 

Yes, we keep touching on the few HE cartidges. I dont believe this matters, if the British had a truly combined arms scheme where they could bring aircraft or artillery to bear when it mattered. They had this methodology partially worked out in the 1930s on Salisbury Plain and they threw it away. That they did not until after the Matilda left service exposed this particular failing in the tank.. I personally think for Tank Vs Tank combat, it was the best available in France at the time. It had a good crew comparment, it had a good gun, it had good armour protection. One can read comments about how the Royal Tank Regiment faired with the vehicle when counterattacking at Arras. The Germans were truly scared, and claim they only succeeded in beating the attack off with depressed 88mm's, which they seemed fit to do with the Char B. Matilda II, not the Char B, influenced the Germans towards Heavy Tank development.

 

 

The point is, the counter attack failed, not due to any failings on the tank. It failed due to poor coordination (the infantry didnt turn up to the jumping off point in time)and it failed due to inadequate numbers of equipment (14 Matilda II and something like 58 Matilda 1 was never going to be enough to get a breakthrough). This to me points more to problems with the way the British Army was doing business, less so with its equipment. In fact many of the similar problems occurred in the Western Desert even after we had taken delivery of American equipment. Which suggests to me the blame culture towards British armour goes way to deep.

 

I might add, ive no time for the lamentable crusader. Cruiser tank design was clearly pants until we developed Cromwell. But as far as infantry support tanks (and yes HE rounds were inadequate thats clear) Im not particularly convinced the British were not capable of putting survivable tanks in the field from fairly early on. They just didnt know how to use them. Yet.

 

Plus one of the few tanks that started and ended the war. The Char B had the room to be a great tank, but doctrine killed the potential the vehicle had. 



#58 lastdingo

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 0408 AM

 

 

a notion he pooh-poohed, claiming the narrow rail lines were too hard a target and too easily repaired.


He was absolutely right in this regard. Back then rails were not welded together but screwed, railways had lots of personell and so many lines that traffic could be re-routed rather easily. Better go after individual trains with fighter bombers.

 

 

This was Finnish experience as well. Finns and Germans bombed Murmansk railroad many times, and effect was poor, even 250kg direct hit on the tracks was usually repaired within a day. Maybe it was different if you had truly huge number of bombers available.

 

Germany developed dedicated spikes for bombs to destroy railways.

These spikes kept the bomb from bouncing off and even allowed the bomb to get stuck, and serve as a vibration-triggered mine.



#59 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 0442 AM

Sure I can.

 

As an aside, Julian Thompson's book on Dunkirk makes a highly convincing argument that Arras was never intended to be a counter-attack, and was merely a  limited clearing operation to relieve the pressure on Arras's Western and Southern perimeter.

 

I dont think Richard Holmes books takes entirely the same view in fairness. I think both his war walks books, and the textbook he did for HMSO on British operations in Northern France both viewed it as a counter attack, albeit a limited one and not altogether well planned one.

 

Thing was, limited or not, it seems, if the Germans are to be believed, very nearly breaking through the German lines, and it was only Rommels intervention (again if it is to be believed) that stopped it happening. Whatever the role, it clearly had a big strategic payoff, in that was yet one more reason why the German tried to reduce Dunkirk from the air. Why mess up the panzers taking risk, when the British proved to be capable of surprises?

 

I dont think the last word has been written on it by a last chalk however, and I wouldnt reject Thompsons view out of hand either.



#60 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 06 September 2017 - 0443 AM

 

 

 

If you look at Matilda, yes it was slow, yes the engine installation was not the best choice, but it was in many respects the best armoured and gunned tank in Europe in 1940.

 

Not by a long shot. The Char B-1bis had much better armament and the same protection.

 

The Matilda II's armament was terrible because very few HE cartridges were available if at all. A small calibre AT gun + a normal calibre machinegun was nothing to write home about in 1940.

 

Also keep in mind that the first T-34s appeared in 1940 and the KV-1 appeared in 1939.

 

And a truly awful crew compartment that meant it was unable to bring the 75mm to bear without a herculean effort. Which it usually failed to do.

 

Yes, we keep touching on the few HE cartidges. I dont believe this matters, if the British had a truly combined arms scheme where they could bring aircraft or artillery to bear when it mattered. They had this methodology partially worked out in the 1930s on Salisbury Plain and they threw it away. That they did not until after the Matilda left service exposed this particular failing in the tank.. I personally think for Tank Vs Tank combat, it was the best available in France at the time. It had a good crew comparment, it had a good gun, it had good armour protection. One can read comments about how the Royal Tank Regiment faired with the vehicle when counterattacking at Arras. The Germans were truly scared, and claim they only succeeded in beating the attack off with depressed 88mm's, which they seemed fit to do with the Char B. Matilda II, not the Char B, influenced the Germans towards Heavy Tank development.

 

 

The point is, the counter attack failed, not due to any failings on the tank. It failed due to poor coordination (the infantry didnt turn up to the jumping off point in time)and it failed due to inadequate numbers of equipment (14 Matilda II and something like 58 Matilda 1 was never going to be enough to get a breakthrough). This to me points more to problems with the way the British Army was doing business, less so with its equipment. In fact many of the similar problems occurred in the Western Desert even after we had taken delivery of American equipment. Which suggests to me the blame culture towards British armour goes way to deep.

 

I might add, ive no time for the lamentable crusader. Cruiser tank design was clearly pants until we developed Cromwell. But as far as infantry support tanks (and yes HE rounds were inadequate thats clear) Im not particularly convinced the British were not capable of putting survivable tanks in the field from fairly early on. They just didnt know how to use them. Yet.

 

Plus one of the few tanks that started and ended the war. The Char B had the room to be a great tank, but doctrine killed the potential the vehicle had. 

 

Yeah, I forget the Aussies were using at the end of the war. There seems to be dozens of the buggers still sitting in Aussie scrapyards.






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