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Tank shortcomings, and why were they allowed to exist?


Murph
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One that comes to mind immediately is the lack of any escape method for the driver of an M-1 Abrams tank if the turret is not turned to the side, no bottom hatch.

Another is the British Covenanter tank which had really poor engine cooling, but they built over 1,700 of them!  Who decided this was a good idea?

What others?

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WRT the Abrams lack of driver escape hatch I'd say that the statistics appear to support the engineers' decision - the number of M1 drivers whose death can be attributed to a lack of escape hatch is really small, given that it's been in service for four decades by now. Any hatch is also a structural weakness, so from the perspective of blast mine protection not having one has something going for it.

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2 hours ago, Murph said:

One that comes to mind immediately is the lack of any escape method for the driver of an M-1 Abrams tank if the turret is not turned to the side, no bottom hatch.

In M1 Abrams tank, driver can open his hatch in any position of the turret, not matters if it's directly to the front, side or rear.

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There is that, although a big enough mine or IED can still wreck one.  Not having served in one, I can only go on what I read.  I still think the Leopard is probably the better tank in the long run though.

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Just now, Damian said:

In M1 Abrams tank, driver can open his hatch in any position of the turret, not matters if it's directly to the front, side or rear.

Thank you for that information.  

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2 minutes ago, Murph said:

I still think the Leopard is probably the better tank in the long run though.

No it's not. Leopard 2 is less comfortable, and less safe due to ammunition stored directly in crew compartment. Leopard 2 is more fuel efficent this is true, while underwater driving is currently considered as usefull but not neccesary. Otherwise M1 and Leopard 2 are more or less comparable.

Yet as I talked with Polish tankers that are going through training to be M1 crews and previously served on Leopard 2's and T-72's and PT-91's, they consider M1 as a superior machine overall.

Edited by Damian
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Type 97 Chi-Ha Shinhoto (47mm).

It's period of being effective was very brief (late '41/42). It's production kept for too long mostly due to war priorities.

1942/1943 was a critical phase to get something new in production. Type 1 Chi-He would need to be bypassed though, same gun so too weak. Type 2 Ho-I development was finished in mid 1942. So then get production going in second half of 1942 with the Type 99 short barrel 75mm. Once the long 57mm tank gun was finished being developed, it replaces the Type 99 75mm in production. The initially produced Type 2 Ho-I's fill in the required "gun tank" companies. Then the Type 2 Ho-I's with the long 57mm fill up the regular tank companies. 

The Type 99 short 75mm had shaped-charge later, and tested with in mid 1943, penetration 100mm. 

The long 57mm Tank Gun was developed by early 1944. Very late, but the towed long 57mm anti-tank gun was developed by early 1943 which included delay phase. Expediency could have its completion by its originally scheduled time on November 1942. Given that actuality, I think it's entirely feasible to have the long 57mm tank gun version finish development much early than early 1944 if given higher priority or hypothetical reduced wartime strain. The penetration of the long 57mm was only a little better than the towed 47mm anti-tank gun (more or less seemed able to penetrate front M4 within a few 100 meters, up to 400 in good angle perhaps (the Type 1 47mm tank gun penetrated a little less for shorter barrel and thus lower muzzle velocity). The long 57mm tank gun penetrated a little more than the 47mm anti-tank gun, so maybe pentration vs M4 front at around 500-600 meters range. 

Edited by futon
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1. Because of the costs - it's not the militaries that hold the purse.

2. Because different features have different shortcomings and you choose one shortcoming over the other (M1 turbine vs diesel).

3. Because of doctrine, when the tank is supposed to light and smol like in the USSR, certain compromises have to be made.

4. Because of the domestic unavailability of some technologies/components that would address those shortcomings.

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52 minutes ago, Murph said:

There is that, although a big enough mine or IED can still wreck one.  Not having served in one, I can only go on what I read.  I still think the Leopard is probably the better tank in the long run though.

Overall, I have come to the conclusion that the M1 is better, as much as I hate admitting it. The separation of ammo and crew is, IMO, no longer up for debate. Now, if you allow for mixing crew and ammo then yes, Leopard 2 has the advantage of very quick reloading the ready ammunition rack, which gives you a lot more tactical flexibility. While the ability to drive under water for up to about half an hour is cool, its operational utility is probably limited; I do like the ability to deep-ford waters of up to two meters depth with very little preparation, at least in western and central European terrain. Whether this is actually something you would do a lot with muddy ponds and soft river beds - particularly if the have soft and steep embankments - if of course another matter. Still, it can't outweigh the crew/ammo separation issue.

I like the Leopard's fire control system much better. But at the end of the day the capabilities are similar enough that it gives you largely the same result - so, objectively speaking, it's no reason to reject the M1.

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11 hours ago, Damian said:

No it's not. Leopard 2 is less comfortable, and less safe due to ammunition stored directly in crew compartment. Leopard 2 is more fuel efficent this is true, while underwater driving is currently considered as usefull but not neccesary. Otherwise M1 and Leopard 2 are more or less comparable.

Yet as I talked with Polish tankers that are going through training to be M1 crews and previously served on Leopard 2's and T-72's and PT-91's, they consider M1 as a superior machine overall.

How are the M1's considered superior by the Polish tankers?

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10 hours ago, futon said:

Type 97 Chi-Ha Shinhoto (47mm).

It's period of being effective was very brief (late '41/42). It's production kept for too long mostly due to war priorities.

1942/1943 was a critical phase to get something new in production. Type 1 Chi-He would need to be bypassed though, same gun so too weak. Type 2 Ho-I development was finished in mid 1942. So then get production going in second half of 1942 with the Type 99 short barrel 75mm. Once the long 57mm tank gun was finished being developed, it replaces the Type 99 75mm in production. The initially produced Type 2 Ho-I's fill in the required "gun tank" companies. Then the Type 2 Ho-I's with the long 57mm fill up the regular tank companies. 

The Type 99 short 75mm had shaped-charge later, and tested with in mid 1943, penetration 100 meters. 

The long 57mm Tank Gun was developed by early 1944. Very late, but the towed long 57mm anti-tank gun was developed by early 1943 which included delay phase. Expediency could have its completion by its originally scheduled time on November 1942. Given that actuality, I think it's entirely feasible to have the long 57mm tank gun version finish development much early than early 1944 if given higher priority or hypothetical reduced wartime strain. The penetration of the long 57mm was only a little better than the towed 47mm anti-tank gun (more or less seemed able to penetrate front M4 within a few 100 meters, up to 400 in good angle perhaps (the Type 1 47mm tank gun penetrated a little less for shorter barrel and thus lower muzzle velocity). The long 57mm tank gun penetrated a little more than the 47mm anti-tank gun, so maybe pentration vs M4 front at around 500-600 meters range. 

The Type 99 short 75mm had shaped-charge later, and tested with in mid 1943, penetration 100 meters. Even the ex-sailor finally figured out this typo error.

 

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20 minutes ago, Rick said:

How are the M1's considered superior by the Polish tankers?

Superior armor protection and crew survivability. Better commander visibility they say that M1A2 ICWS cupola is simply superb. They really like CROWS-LP because it provides greater firepower and additional observation capabilities. Overall better ergonomics, tough they would change some minor details here and there. Fire control system is also considered as better, like entire electronics system.

Major things they would change is engine with better fuel efficency (tough AGT1500 is not terrible, they are just used to diesel engines), and also capability to ford shallow rivers without preparation with DWFK fording kit.

Polish tank crews also really like US Army training program.

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2 hours ago, Rick said:

The Type 99 short 75mm had shaped-charge later, and tested with in mid 1943, penetration 100 meters. Even the ex-sailor finally figured out this typo error.

 

Right, 100mm. 

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I would add to this the insistence on the short barreled 75mm on the Pz IV, and the continued use of the short 50mm on the Panzer III long after they learned that they needed more muzzle velocity.

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2 hours ago, Murph said:

I would add to this the insistence on the short barreled 75mm on the Pz IV, and the continued use of the short 50mm on the Panzer III long after they learned that they needed more muzzle velocity.

Panzer IV had a short-barreled 75 mm because it was meant to be an infantry support tank, so that decision is not actually bad.

As for Panzer III., that is the first I've heard of it. I know some Panzer IIIs received long-barrel 50 mm gun, but eventually decision was made to just upgun the Panzer IV.

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20 hours ago, Damian said:

No it's not. Leopard 2 is less comfortable, and less safe due to ammunition stored directly in crew compartment. Leopard 2 is more fuel efficent this is true, while underwater driving is currently considered as usefull but not neccesary. Otherwise M1 and Leopard 2 are more or less comparable.

Yet as I talked with Polish tankers that are going through training to be M1 crews and previously served on Leopard 2's and T-72's and PT-91's, they consider M1 as a superior machine overall.

Ammo stored in the crew compartment--this decision truly baffles me.

 

I hope they know something the Sovs did not.  

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55 minutes ago, Pompous said:

Ammo stored in the crew compartment--this decision truly baffles me.

iJz2tAw.jpg

aG7j1Lk.jpg

This is Leopard 2A7V.

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4 hours ago, Murph said:

I would add to this the insistence on the short barreled 75mm on the Pz IV, and the continued use of the short 50mm on the Panzer III long after they learned that they needed more muzzle velocity.

The Panzer III and IV designs go back to 1934. They were intended as complimentary light and heavy tanks along the same lines other nations were thinking of due to the limitations of weight imposed by engine, transmission, and suspension capabilities, assumed armor requirements, and desired armament, crew, ammunition stowage, and range. Like most other nations they realized the short-term limitations in engine and transmission technology was the most problematic so adopted the solution of one light mobile tank with a decent AP capability and a heavier one with a good HE thrower.

They were essentially stopgap learning tools as much as the Panzer I and II were (and just as the Medium Tank M3 was for the US) and proved fiendishly difficult to perfect - well, the Panzer IV matured quickly but was a slightly simpler design. During that period they developed more powerful engines, experimented with better suspensions...finally got these two interim vehicles to the point of mass production and reached the conclusion they probably needed to redesign the whole kit and kaboodle for the next generation, only some idiot started a war. 😁

Seriously, I think we sometimes forget just how small the original designs were intended to be - 10 and 15 metric tons respectively. That basic limitation led to the reluctance to put larger armament in until push came to shove. While the story of Hitler's order that the 5cm Pak 38 L60 gun be used in the Panzer III was quietly overruled and the 5cm KwK L42 gun substituted is widely know, the reasons it happened are less clear. It is also unclear just how far out of the decision loop Hitler was kept. Of course there were reasons, some of which are known and others can be inferred. One reason was the smaller case and projectile of the L42 allowed more ammunition stowage. Another was that the L42 gun had just begun production and the 5cm gun issue had been going on for years...as late as 1935 the Heeres-Waffenamt selected the 3.7cm gun over a still to be designed 5cm gun desired by the Schnelle-Truppen but authorized pursuit of the 5cm design as a tank gun. That gun eventually saw the light of day, as Rheinmetall completed it as the Pak 37 (which eventually became the basis of the KwK L42), but the Geeres-Waffenamt turned down the Pak 37 and demanded a more stable carriage and greater muzzle velocity, which it got in 1939 as the 5cm Pak 38 L60. Then they had two designs, one easily optimized for use in the Panzer III and the other optimized as a towed antitank gun and given priority to replace the 3.7cm Pak, which they already knew was reaching its limits. Ooops!

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22 hours ago, Ssnake said:

WRT the Abrams lack of driver escape hatch I'd say that the statistics appear to support the engineers' decision - the number of M1 drivers whose death can be attributed to a lack of escape hatch is really small, given that it's been in service for four decades by now. Any hatch is also a structural weakness, so from the perspective of blast mine protection not having one has something going for it.

Despite 40 years of service M1 has not been in a major war in great numbers. There is no comparison for example with M-48/M-60 service. 

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1 hour ago, Pompous said:

Ammo stored in the crew compartment--this decision truly baffles me.

It was known as a compromise even in 1978. It was deemed an acceptable risk/reward balance because

a. you have to put it somewhere. The M1 puts 34 rounds into the turret, but moving them from the semi-ready into the ready rack is painfully slow. In the Leo 2, it can be done very quick; rotate the turret to 5 o'clock and get going, two minutes later the ready rack is full again. In the M1, you'll be happy to have moved five rounds in that time.

b. at least, it's not all over the place but in one area that, while you're fighting from a hull-down position, is well protected. Of course there will be times when you're not hull-down. Better keep those times short, and your fingers crossed.

c. absolute safety cannot be guaranteed. It's always a matter of balance and how you weigh certain risks. Up until the M1, every tank had ammo in open storage. It was considered more or less unavoidable.

Now, since ODS and then the war in Yugoslavia I guess there's no way how anyone could try to sugarcoat the risks involved with having ammo in open storage. But that coincided with the time when the Bundeswehr was suffocated by a string of German governments trying to squeeze the last drop from its budget, so a major redesign or developing a new tank concept was out of the question.

Yes, one cubic meter space could be gained by replacing the old 873-Ka501 with the Europowerpack (883 series). Yes, you could replace the ballistic computer with its dedicated ammunition cards with a general purpose computer with software-defined firing tables, and save another quarter cubic meter. Yes, the electric stabilization system could be moved into the hull, as could the radios, and a second ammo rack could be installed behind the commander and secure blast doors just like in the M1. Or install a band loader for assisted loading. But all that would have cost a metric shit-ton of money that german governments were unwilling to invest (because, "there will never be a land war in Europe again"), so we ride into battle with the tanks that we have, not the ones that would be possible.

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15 minutes ago, lucklucky said:

Despite 40 years of service M1 has not been in a major war in great numbers. 

ODS.

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Well M-48 and M-60 hve been in heavy fight - mostly in Israel - while M1 - maybe except those Saudi's - operated with large structural advantage, so they have not have been hit many times.

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