British Tank Development.

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by von Poop, Feb 21, 2022.

  1. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    It's OK, I'm feeling uncharacteristically irascible at the moment, probably because I haven't slept properly for about three weeks.

    But all the points on the 2 pounder were made on this periodically ludicrous 51 page thread (51!), and the idea of doing all this again fills me with horror.
     
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  2. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    I think it's just the default idea that the CS tanks were there to fire smoke, so that's what they did.

    That article is a classic example of someone who has learnt a couple of useful things, and then extrapolated those morsels of knowledge into an unjustified sweeping opinion. I have only seen good reports of the 95mm from users, and it seems to have been quite popular.
     
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  3. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    There is a general pattern throughout the war of the Australians using British equipment and achieving better results (and with less complaining) than the British did, which I have always found rather suggestive.
     
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  4. JeremyC

    JeremyC Active Member

    Ah! - now I know what AHF stands for . . . I'll read through the thread when I've got a moment or three - thank you for posting the link.

    OK - the 2-pdr will henceforth be "The-Gun-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named" (Voldemort, for short) . . .

    What shall we discuss next - Vickers track design (whether A9/A10 tracks were so bad in Greece because of user incompetence, or whether they were just a bad design - and if so, how did Vickers go from that to the Valentine design and something like three times the track life in one fell swoop)?

    Engines? (i.e. the apparent lack of interest by anyone in the British military hierarchy - at any level - in developing heavy-duty engines for tanks - or even in realising that such things were necessary? Davidson might be the honourable exception here - and someone had a damn good idea in asking for the Meadows DAV to be developed from the MAT. Pity that project seems to have stopped with the Covenanter.)

    Transmissions - ditto? I know they had the Wilson designs, and the Merritt-Brown came from somewhere - but they seem to have emerged in spite of the Ordnance tank experts, and weren't particularly encouraged by them.

    One of the big questions for me at the moment is - how did Lord Nuffield get away with it? I know the Air Ministry/Ministry of Aircraft Production got fed up and took Castle Bromwich off him - but how did the Ministry of Supply let him get away with making a pretty poor job of the Crusader, and then going on to the Centaur/Cavalier/Cromwell situation? I'm assuming that he had friends in high places, presumably in the Conservative party, looking at the dates of his various honours.
     
  5. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    I don't think Nuffield himself was so much to blame, but rather Miles Thomas who ran the tank programmes. The impression I generally have of Thomas is that he was simply too nice a person to be really effective at his job. That said, Nuffields did perfectly well with trucks and carriers, so they did make a decent contribution to the British war effort. As for getting away with it, I don't think they did really - they suffered the humiliation of having the Ministry of Supply manage their Sherman DD programme, as they were so little trusted to get it right. At the end of the war, the AFV Division listed their favoured suppliers for continuation into the post war period in the order of Vickers, Leylands, Vauxhalls and Nuffields, and I think the latter's fourth place was pretty firm.
     
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  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    1. Just to fire smoke? I'm sorry, but that's just daft. If you've got a weapon with an a capability which could be really helpful on the battlefield it makes no sense not to use that capability. If you're not using that capability because of some technical or tactical dogma, then its time to throw the dogma in the trash can. US tank destroyers didn't find as many of the classical TD-type situations anticipated in their training manuals, but US commanders found plenty of good things for the TDs to do anyway.
    2. It's a funny thing. Despite all the slagging of the Centaur tank, the Liberty engine, and the 95mm howitzer, the Royal Marine units which used the Centaur CS in Normandy apparently did very good work once they got ashore.
     
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  7. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Maybe the Australians were far enough from Bovington to decide for themselves what the kit could do, instead of being restricted to what it should do?
     
  8. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    You get the same kind of thing with the PIAT:

    Brits - this clunky anti-tank weapon for use against tanks only will obviously be useless against tanks, so let's keep it in the rear.
    Canadians - Wow! look at this fantastic multi-purpose assault weapon!
     
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  9. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    In fairness, the CS Cromwells and Churchills did have a reasonable proportion of HE which got used fairly extensively, but they were still ostensibly tactical smoke weapons. I think it is a good question as to whether the 95mm howitzer was under-utilised, but it's all a bit small beer really.

    As for the Centaur, I've recently picked up some documents from the British Military Mission in Greece that basically confirm that during the Greek Civil War the Centaurs were going up and down the hard scrabble mountain roads with aplomb. As they did that for a year with minimal service and maintenance, they were more than reliable enough for NWE.
     
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  10. Juha

    Juha Junior Member

    Now on the 95 mm, some RM Centaurs were used as an A/T screen at Le Rosiere on D+1, but no trade. The 95 mm had also a HEAT round but I have never heard any claims of AFV kill by it even if it is claimed that it could penetrate 120 mm of armour. Has anyone info

    At least Keith Jones writes in this 64 Days of a Normandy Summer than when he ditched his CS Cromwell and Tigers were approaching he thought with a CS Cromwell they had no chance against a Tiger and abandoned his tank. But he had already revealed earlier that the 95 mm was a new acquaintance for him, had recently become 2/IC when his predecessor was wounded, had originally served as a liaison officer.

    Does anyone have any information on using the 95mm against the AFVs?
     
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  11. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Only in a negative sense: Bill Cotton of 4 CLY chose not to commit his Cromwell CS to battle in Villers-Bocage, and ran the battle on foot. Whether this was because of an absence, distrust or technical limitation (within fuze minimum arming range) of HEAT, I don't know.
     
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  12. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Paul Reed dug out some great after action reports on PIAT as an infantry assault/area weapon.
    WW2Talk - Battle Experience Questionnaire
    (One of the most 'interesting' threads on here to my mind. Memory, actual usage, Historiography etc. etc. all blurred together. Made me think quite a bit...)
    "Great blasting power, men who know how to use it, love it."
     
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  13. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    From memory, the 95mm HEAT shell ran into development problems, so only appeared in late 1944. I have not seen any confirmation that it was ever used against an AFV, although it was certainly used as a house clearing weapon. From about Sep '44 the 17 pounder probably destroyed more church towers than it did tanks.
     
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  14. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Yes, I found the same when researching 9th Australian Division. The reasons for this are uncertain, but I can guess a little.
    First off, the AIF was made from scratch and had to scramble for equipment even more desperately than the British Army. The 9th went into Tobruk short of many standard items and so had to make do with whatever was to hand, including large quantities of captured and obsolete weapons. Being glad to get anything, they troubled less about technical deficiencies and made the most of what they got. Even when standard stuff became more readily available in 1942, the 9th continued to use ex-enemy weapons and other odd types like a lot of stray US 37mm M3A1 anti-tanks guns to supplement the regulation establishment. This made the 9th superior in firepower to an equivalent British division. And they used what they had, too. I recall accounts of 9th Div infantry using hated things like the Boys ATR and even the feared sticky-bomb successfully against Axis armor. (Iti 47, Jerry 37? Obsolete are they? Never mind, we'll take 'em, they'll still go 'bang.') As to armor, it must be emphasized that the Australian Army had far less experience with tanks when the war began than the British Army. Perhaps that very lack of experience enabled the Australians to approach armor with a fresher and less dogmatic attitude. The M3 Stuart was a light tank or at best a light cruiser, and by late '42 it was obsolete against Axis armor in North Africa. According to theory it had no business at all in the infantry tank role, but the Stuart was what the Australians had available in New Guinea and so it became an I tank at Buna and did the job.
     
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  15. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

    I'd like to know where I can get a copy of the war diary for the 9th Australian Divisional Cavalry Regiment for 1942 and 1943, because they had Crusaders, and I've seen occasional hints that they drove them for miles and miles without any reliability problems. It would be FASCINATING if that were true.
     
  16. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Here: AWM52 2/2/10 - 9 Australian Division Cavalry Regiment
     
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  17. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

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  18. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Lucky I was awake at 0400 AEST!
     
  19. Don Juan

    Don Juan Well-Known Member

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  20. JohnB

    JohnB Junior Member

    By official tables or by what the CS tanks were actually firing and carrying? Smoke may of course have been the most used round as being the most useful!

    Pretty sure the Germans did consider the 5cm KwK 38 as being obsolescent by Summer 41, which was why they rushed to get the 5cm KwK 39 into the Panzer III.
    Probably less to do with encountering Matildas in the desert though and more to with encountering T-34s and KV-1s in Barbarossa.
     

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