Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sebastien Roblin: The U.S. Army's Tank Destroyers Were Not The Failures History Has Made Them Out To Be

This, at War is Boring, is great.


Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

Am I right in thinking that British and US WWII tanks (Churchill, Sherman) were totally shit compared with German tanks (Panzer IV, Panther, Tiger?). If so, why was this? Especially given US design & industrial capacity. There doesn't seem to have been any such disparity among eg fighter planes (ME109 vs Spitfire, Hurricane; FW190 vs Typhoon, P51).

9:24 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Oh, man! See, this is one of the interesting aspects of all of this.

Conventional wisdom says that part of the idea of the Sherman was that it would specialize in fire support of troops, leaving tank-killing to the tank-killers. (I'm a *little* suspicious of that as the whole story...but I think it's part of it.)

Of course, I'm not an expert but I love this stuff so take with gran of salt.

Also, of course: you could make a whole lotta Shermans...and try to overwhelm the superior panzers... a pretty grisly strategy...

So the Sherman's were shit at fighting panzers (on equal terms)...but that wasn't allegedly supposed to be their job. For the other job tanks have...basically mobile artillery...they were great.

Also, apparently the crazy-ass Poles loved 'em even for fighting panzers because they were reliable and maneuverable. Or was it the crazy Czechs?

I've heard such differing opinions on the Churchill that I don't even know what to think.

Too damn bad we barely got the Pershing into the fight...that sucker could kick ass and take names...

10:14 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

You know, for all my early interest in WWII and the myriad RTS games my friends and I played (which contributed dramatically to our knowledge of the era), I never realized tank destroyers were considered a failure IRL.

In every realistic WWII-based RTS game I've played (A Bridge Too Far and Company of Heroes come to mind immediately), it is made immediately apparent that the Allies are totally fucked in the tank department. Panzer IVs absolutely demolish poor Shermans. God help you if you encounter a Panther or a Tiger; you just watch your little 75mm shells bounce right off their front armor while they obliterate your Shermans with single shots. The most effective means by which I usually dispatched those beasts was with air support, artillery, or tricky flamethrower units who could get close and then cook the troops on the inside of the tank and set off the munitions inside it.

The 105mm variant of the Sherman helped quite a bit, but the armor remained pitiful in the face of the uber thick Panzer material. The tank destroyers were an important, cheaper supplement to the Shermans since really, neither was sufficiently well armored to sustain direct fire from German armor. What you need as the Allies in those combat situations is more guns, and the tank destroyers bring 'em.

But I guess that's just RTS nerd opinion and not necessarily of actual historical merit. Seems sound, though.

10:17 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

And yeah, the Pershing was basically the only answer to the likes of a Tiger, but even then, it wasn't quite as good. Good enough to stand up to it, but damn.

The Russian tanks, on the other hand, those things could shred. The T-34's 76.2mm cannon could pound Panzers and nothing beat rolling in a KV-2 with its gargantuan 152mm howitzer. Just one of those things used strategically could completely decimate an opposing force being busied with T-34s. There were more than a few games I played where my German opponent failed to locate that KV-2 and rolled in his Panzer IVs a bit too quickly and within 20 seconds, they all bit the dust..

10:26 AM  

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