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Which tank "won" WWII
Halfyank
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Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 - 08:17 AM UTC
This topic has probably been done to death but I wanted to throw it out again and see what kind of thoughts everybody has.

First off I will start off with the notion that no tank "won" World War II, any more than any single weapons system, or country, won the war.

That said I'd like to hear thoughts on which tank did more to win the war. Notice I say which tank did more, not which tank was better.

I'd say there are really only two contenders, the Soviet T34 series, and the American Sherman series. Between them there was some 134000 built so I can't really think of any other tank that comes close.


The Soviet T34 was produced in greater numbers, 84K to about 50K than the Sherman, served in combat from June o 1941 compared to October 1942 for the Sherman. The T34 also served on the Eastern Front where most Germans were committed to combat, and where most Germans were killed. On the other hand the T34 had very little impact on the war against Japan, and none that I know of in the war against Italy, except those Italian units that served on the Eastern Front.

The Sherman on the other hand served in every front, even the Eastern Front under Lend Lease to the Soviets. It equipped virtually every Allied nation in the war. It was the basis of a huge number of variants as everything from a floating tank, to tank destroyers, self propelled artillery, armored personnel carriers, and armored recovery vehicles. Admittedly though it wasn't used as much on the vital Eastern Front, though it was certainly there.

I'm personally partial to the Sherman, but I'm interested in hearing any arguments as to the T34, or if anybody has a serious contention for another tank.


russamotto
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Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 - 09:30 AM UTC
I would agree with the Sherman and how it was used. Having a tank readily available in combat that can keep up with combat lends a lot to winning the batttle. An argument could be made for the King Tiger. It diverted so much of Germany's resources and time that it prevented the German army from having a greater volume of other tanks. It potentially cost them the war.
barkingdigger
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Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 - 09:50 PM UTC

Quoted Text

An argument could be made for the King Tiger. It diverted so much of Germany's resources and time that it prevented the German army from having a greater volume of other tanks. It potentially cost them the war.



Russ, you beat me to it! But I was going to nominate the Tiger I because it was in production longer, crippling German arms production for a full two years!

Tom
retiredbee2
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Posted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 01:45 PM UTC
No tank won WW 2. The relentless bombing and straffing done by the Allies was the main winner of the war..........Al.....(edit ) just reread your opening paragraphs pertaining to what tank did the most damage to the other side. The way I understood the history of it, the Sherman was the most damaging, not because of its superior features but because of its superior numbers.
tankfixer
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Posted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 06:48 PM UTC
No tank won the war at all. It was the crew using the vehicle at hand. A tank is just a machine. The men who fought during the war are the one's who "won" or "lost". NOT the tank itself.
retiredbee2
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Posted: Thursday, April 01, 2010 - 02:14 AM UTC
A point well taken , but I thought that the German army was very well trained and professional till the end when they had to resort to drafting old men and young boys. They (The Germans) also had the drive to fight to protect their homeland and their families. Even with all this training and experience gained on the US ,since they were fighting long before the US joined in, they (The Germans) could not prevail against the onslaught of the Allies. I would think that the Germans had better training and will to win and yet ,they lost the war............Al
Delbert
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Posted: Friday, April 02, 2010 - 12:32 AM UTC
Howdy.

Everyone has made many good point, but I will add one more. not exactly a weapon, but one I think had the greatest effect on WWII.

My vote will go for The American Industrial machine. We simply made more stuff, were in a position were our factory's wouldn't get bombed and were able to get all the equipment where it was needed. Just look at how fast were were putting together Liberty ships towards the end.

Even the germans at the beginning of the war when their factory''s were untouched could not produce things such as tanks so fast, as they were always retooling their factory's to make the next generation, "better" tank.

DutchBird
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Posted: Friday, April 02, 2010 - 05:11 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Howdy.
Even the germans at the beginning of the war when their factory''s were untouched could not produce things such as tanks so fast, as they were always retooling their factory's to make the next generation, "better" tank.



This is only a little part of the explanation.

Just as important (probably far more important) is that the German industry, or better yet, the whole of the German economy, did not go to a total war footing untill I think 1943 or 1944 (one of the reasons why they were able to increase arms production until far into 1944, despite the Allied bombing campaigns.

This was due to the German trauma of WW I and shortly thereafter, when there was a huge shortage of everything, including food, which did play its part in the subsequent inflation problems as well, and the instability within Germany immediately after WW I. This national trauma is such that it still exerts its influence today (the frugal Germans). As a result, Hitler expressly forbade the disruption of the economic sectors that serviced the German people for most of their everyday needs...

This unlike all of the Allies (including to the US), with of course the USSR being the most extreme example, who switched to a total war economy as soon as the conflict began (and the US probably even earlier, manufacturing arms for both the UK and Russia).
barkingdigger
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Posted: Friday, April 02, 2010 - 07:37 AM UTC
Well, if we want to explore the industry theme the real decider was that German industry (just like the British) was based on hand-assembly by skilled craftsmen, while the US had already adopted Henry Ford's idea of assembly lines and streamlined production that allowed huge numbers of items to be turned out each shift. It was only a matter of time before the smaller German economy was out-paced by the larger and more efficient US manufacturing base. And the Soviets were soon on a par with the US - the T34 was turned out in numbers similar to the Sherman.

I think it was Admiral Yamamoto in Japan who predicted that if the war in the Pacific wasn't won within months of Pearl Harbour then the US would inevitably crush Japan just by sheer economic resources...

But going back to the original subject I'd say it was the unbelievably reliable and abundant US M3/M4 series of tanks and their Soviet counterparts on the T-34 hull that did the lion's share of winning the war, despite their many weaknesses.

Tom
spongya
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Posted: Friday, April 02, 2010 - 10:53 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Howdy.
My vote will go for The American Industrial machine. We simply made more stuff, were in a position were our factory's wouldn't get bombed and were able to get all the equipment where it was needed. Just look at how fast were were putting together Liberty ships towards the end.



I hate to disappoint, but if the US-English-Canadian forces had not made to the beaches of Normandy and Italy, people would speak Russian in France now.
The Russians bore the bulk of the fighting in Europe. Their industry, their manpower, their efforts. (And they probably would not have stopped at Berlin.)
The Allied bombing campaign did not do much to war production, either. Most of what it achieved was burning civilians. During the heaviest bombings in '44 production actually went up (thanks to Speer, mostly). Of course, the German industry was not prepared for the prolonged war, in any ways.
GeraldOwens
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Posted: Friday, April 02, 2010 - 12:35 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

Howdy.
My vote will go for The American Industrial machine. We simply made more stuff, were in a position were our factory's wouldn't get bombed and were able to get all the equipment where it was needed. Just look at how fast were were putting together Liberty ships towards the end.



I hate to disappoint, but if the US-English-Canadian forces had not made to the beaches of Normandy and Italy, people would speak Russian in France now.
The Russians bore the bulk of the fighting in Europe. Their industry, their manpower, their efforts. (And they probably would not have stopped at Berlin.)
The Allied bombing campaign did not do much to war production, either. Most of what it achieved was burning civilians. During the heaviest bombings in '44 production actually went up (thanks to Speer, mostly). Of course, the German industry was not prepared for the prolonged war, in any ways.



Hang on, there. Just because Albert Speer was able to reshuffle production around damaged factories doesn't mean that the air campaign had no effect. For example, Allied bombing of the Henschel factory in Kassel reduced King Tiger production by nearly two thirds in the final year of the war (484 built vs. 1,350 planned). And a 1943 US strike on the Alkett plant effectively knocked them out of Sturmgeschutz production, and led to the introduction of the Sturmgeschutz IV by Krupp Gruson, which mated the backlog of stockpiled Sturmgeschutz III superstructures to Panzer IV chassis. This kept the assault gun battalions supplied, but cut into vitally needed medium tank production. And bombing of gasoline refineries starved the German armored forces of fuel. There was almost no fuel for training (which drastically reduced the effectiveness of newly raised Panzer units), and left perilously little fuel for operational movements.
ppawlak1
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Posted: Monday, April 05, 2010 - 10:01 PM UTC
Which Tank "Won" WWII ?

The quotation mark I take it means the tank that contributed most...

The T34 no doubt, decisive at Kursk and built in numbers that the Germans could never match.

Sloping armor etc, etc.

No 2 ?

The Sherman

Cheers

Paul
casailor
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Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010 - 12:13 PM UTC
The air compaign certainly had a big effect on German war production. Yes the raw numbers went up, the the quality was crap. They couldn't produce quality bearings because the factories had been destroyed and the skilled employees killed, they couldn't produce fuel for what they did build. The slave labor they used actively sabotaged the items they produced.

The T34 had a large effect at the beginning of the war, it was a better tank than anything the Germans had. The soviets never really solved the problem of poor training of their Army and without the mountains of supplies from the US as well as the trucks to carry it would have lost the war by 1943. The Soviets couldn't evenb grow enough food during the war to feed their own army, let alone their population, If it wouldn't have been for all the American trucks they recieved, the Red army would have been using animal transport like Napolean and we all know how well he did in Russia.

The Sherman was fast, more reliable than the T34, as well armored, almost as mobile in bad terrain and available in large numbers. It's crews were far surerior to the Reds and after North Africa at least as good as the Germans. As Rommel said, " the Americans know less and learn faster than any soldiers I have seen.

The American soldier was the ultimate victor. Unlike the Germans, Soviets and British, he wasn't dependant on the chain of command, American soldiers would accomplish the mission (as long as the numbnuts above them in the chain of command told them what it was) without supervision. We were not shackled by tradition or class differences. Look at the Combat Engineers in the Battle of the Bulge, if they hadn't acted without orders and in small groups to emplace obstacles, blow bridges and delay the Germans in any way possible, the airborne wouldn't have had time to get to Bastogne and the Germans probably would have gotten to Antwerp. It ultimately wouldn't have changed anything. It merely would have bought time for the Soviets to occupy more of Germany.
Bigrip74
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Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010 - 02:22 PM UTC
I would say the FT17 of WWI since it equipped so many armed forces and gave them the chance to develop tactics and better armor based on it and the need to upgrade in the face of combat. Just my opinion


Bob
sgtreef
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Posted: Saturday, April 24, 2010 - 12:18 AM UTC
Agree with Paul the T/34 as to numbers built.

No matter if a Tiger I was a better tank when opposing 5 to 1 who will win.
keenan
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Posted: Saturday, April 24, 2010 - 03:59 PM UTC
"I hate to disappoint, but if the US-English-Canadian forces had not made to the beaches of Normandy and Italy, people would speak Russian in France now.
The Russians bore the bulk of the fighting in Europe. Their industry, their manpower, their efforts. (And they probably would not have stopped at Berlin.)
The Allied bombing campaign did not do much to war production, either. Most of what it achieved was burning civilians. During the heaviest bombings in '44 production actually went up (thanks to Speer, mostly). Of course, the German industry was not prepared for the prolonged war, in any ways."

I have not spent much time in the forums lately but I am getting sort of sick of the whole "If it it wasn't for Stalin throwing his people into the meat grinder the Allies would never have gotten a foothold in Europe" argument. Lend Lease baby, Lend Lease...
Fitz
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Posted: Sunday, April 25, 2010 - 06:25 PM UTC

Quoted Text


I have not spent much time in the forums lately but I am getting sort of sick of the whole "If it it wasn't for Stalin throwing his people into the meat grinder the Allies would never have gotten a foothold in Europe" argument. Lend Lease baby, Lend Lease...



Lend Lease accounted for about 16% of total Soviet war production. Significant? Sure, but hardly war-winning. And the majority of that came AFTER the Soviet's had already put the German's on the defensive so I'm afraid your argument doesn't wash either.
casailor
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Posted: Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - 09:56 AM UTC
I'm not going to argue with your percentage, however what the Soviets got from lend-lease was significant. What they got allowed their anemic indutrial plant to concentrate on producing tanks and firearms. Lend-lease provided their transport, their food, their boots, much of their ammuntion, many of their aircraft. You also have to factor in all the supplies the Brits sent prior to the US entering the war. Without the support from the other allies, the Soviets wouldn't have been able to support any of their offensive actions. Their logistics model was pathetic.

The T34 was a great tank in 1941, especially compared to the PZKW IIIs, M3 mediums, Matildas and Valentines the rest of the world was using. But it had major flaws, it had poor sights, a two man turret, most didn't have radio recievers let alone transmitters, it was not reliable and the interior was so crude that it injured it's crews more often than the Germans did.

If you want to see a camparison of capabilities, look at how poor a showing the T34/85s made agains the M4A3s in Korea. The T34s generally couldn't penetrate the armor on the Shermans and the Shermans never had any trouble penetratig the T34s.
trickymissfit
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Posted: Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - 06:02 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

An argument could be made for the King Tiger. It diverted so much of Germany's resources and time that it prevented the German army from having a greater volume of other tanks. It potentially cost them the war.



Russ, you beat me to it! But I was going to nominate the Tiger I because it was in production longer, crippling German arms production for a full two years!

Tom



Germans often say the JS-2 was the best tank they fought against, and Carrius flatly says it was the best tank of the war. But the JS-2 didn't win the war (armor wise). It was the T34-85
gary
sgtreef
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Posted: Monday, May 31, 2010 - 11:43 PM UTC
No tank did the Air force did.
Without control of your air space you lose.
Even today this is even a bigger deal.
The one with the best Air Force wins.
My opinion only of cause.
Fitz
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Posted: Friday, June 04, 2010 - 03:08 AM UTC

Quoted Text


If you want to see a camparison of capabilities, look at how poor a showing the T34/85s made agains the M4A3s in Korea. The T34s generally couldn't penetrate the armor on the Shermans and the Shermans never had any trouble penetratig the T34s.



Oh boy, I gotta cry foul on this one.

1. There is no such thing as a T-34/85. That is a German designation, not an official Soviet one. Correctly the vehicle is the T-34 Model 1944.

2. There were a whopping 150 engagements between opposing tanks in the whole of the Korean Conflict - hardly sufficient to draw any conclusions. And very few (if any) of those were between M4's and T-34's since only part of 1 battalion (the 70th tank battalion) had M4's during the period when T-34's were active. All the tank vs. tank engagements took place before 1951 when the M24 and M26 were the domintant tanks in theater. But what any of that has to do with World War 2 anyway is anyone's guess.

As I write this I am looking at a photo of a M46 tank that was penetrated through the hull front by an 85mm round from a T-34. I think we can all agree the M46 had double the frontal armor thickness of a M4 so it stands to reason if the M46 could be penetrated, so could the M4. To even say the Soviet 85mm gun, which was proven effective against tanks like the Tiger and Panther could not penetrate the M4 is ridiculous.

3. T-34's in Korea were manned by inexperienced and newly trained North Korean soldiers who had not a whole lot of education and little experience with machinery. American tanks were often crewed by WW2 veterans or at least men who had educations and knew something about machinery. Combined with point 2 this re-emphasises the idea that you can not draw meaningful conclusions from tank combat in Korea and apply it to WW2 or anything else.
pigsty
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Posted: Friday, June 04, 2010 - 03:43 AM UTC

Quoted Text

First off I will start off with the notion that no tank "won" World War II, any more than any single weapons system, or country, won the war.

That said I'd like to hear thoughts on which tank did more to win the war. Notice I say which tank did more, not which tank was better.


That, I think, is where this should start and end. The truth is that every item from canned beans upwards did its bit to win the war and arguing over which did most is fruitless. The trouble with a question like this is that almost everyone misinterprets it and falls into a basic category error: if Tank A didn't win the war on its own, then it did nothing whatsoever. For example:


Quoted Text

No tank did the Air force did.



Then contributor X disagrees with contributor Y, neither of them remembering that neither is entirely right nor entirely wrong, they start calling each other names, and it degenerates into something unedifying.
ppawlak1
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Posted: Friday, June 04, 2010 - 03:24 PM UTC
I think the opening questions is more appropriately "Which tanked helped win the war the most", and that is how I interpreted it.

There's no need to discuss logistics, Airforce etc, etc.

We are are talking about Tanks, and my response still stands.

T-34, huge numbers & efficient / effective design - wins hands down.

Then the Sherman

Cheers

Paul
sgtreef
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Posted: Saturday, June 05, 2010 - 03:37 AM UTC
I agree to a Point.
Should leave the fly boys out of it.

Russians only beat us by a few thousand by wars end.

Still think the Sherman was a better tank.

mj
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Posted: Saturday, June 05, 2010 - 07:16 AM UTC

Quoted Text

First off I will start off with the notion that no tank "won" World War II, any more than any single weapons system, or country, won the war.

That said I'd like to hear thoughts on which tank did more to win the war. Notice I say which tank did more, not which tank was better.



My feeling is that when the war was still in the balance, and I would put that time frame in the period of 1942-44, it was the T-34 that stopped Germany, and started pushing her back. If Russia had been knocked out of the war during this time frame, well - I think it would have been pretty ugly. Therefore, completely ignoring the question of T-34 vs. Sherman, I think the T-34 contributed more...IMHO.

Now, if someone whats to start a new thread, about which was the best tank of WWII, that's a different question, and one on which I have no opinion whatsoever.

Cheers,
Mike