Development of the British Tank Arm, 1918-1939

Thought this might go over well enough here, a bit of the lesser-known part of tank history. How the UK almost got it right, how wishful thinking is not a viable defense strategy, and how Fuller screwed himself.

 
Thought this might go over well enough here, a bit of the lesser-known part of tank history. How the UK almost got it right, how wishful thinking is not a viable defense strategy, and how Fuller screwed himself.

Watched that after you put it up last week - interesting & informative.

Your style of presentation is great, lacking the somewhat stiff & formal stuff that is so often seen from others & if people want more in depth coverage, this encourages them to search it out, rather than boring the tits off everyone else.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
I absolutely, totally and unhesitatingly commend this video to the forum, not least for its help in the destruction of the non-armour fanboi myth created by Liddel-Hart that the existence of only a couple of hundred tanks in total of all flavours on 1 September 1939 was entirely down to 20 years of cavalry intransigence.

Sadly @California_Tanker , I can give your post but one rating.
 

exiledblue

War Hero
I absolutely, totally and unhesitatingly commend this video to the forum, not least for its help in the destruction of the non-armour fanboi myth created by Liddel-Hart that the existence of only a couple of hundred tanks in total of all flavours on 1 September 1939 was entirely down to 20 years of cavalry intransigence.

Sadly @California_Tanker , I can give your post but one rating.
not a fan of L:iddel-hart?

I never thought the crusader/rinfantry tank idea was that bad myself.
bit like the M3 M4 german idea
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
not a fan of L:iddel-hart?

I never thought the crusader/rinfantry tank idea was that bad myself.
bit like the M3 M4 german idea
I enjoyed Liddel-Hart's history of the First World War. Less so his History of the Second (I bought them as a boxed set some thirty years ago). I took his writings at face value. When I started reading up about what he did in the inter-war years, it raised bile in my throat.

A couple of years ago I reviewed Everything Worked Like Clockwork The Mechanization of British Regular and Household Cavalry 1918-1942.

The evidence therein that Liddel-Hart was a passed over Captain turned journalist with an agenda and the ears of politicians is compelling. The men on the ground were more ready to work on newfangled mechanised vehicles than to muck out horses every day. Evidence exists that, offered the chance to transfer from a soon-to-be-mechanised cavalry regiment to one that wasn't, take-up was negligible. The only evidence of intransigence is a couple of regimental colonels (old men, not CO Lieutenants Colonel) complaining to MP friends.

Liddel-Hart leaves the impression that every single member of the Corps of Hussars, Lancers and Dragoon Guards was determined never to give up their horses.

As @California_Tanker makes clear in this presentation, governments were all broken, penniless and chasing the popular peace agenda.
 
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I enjoyed Liddel-Hart's history of the First World War. Less so his History of the Second (I bought them as a boxed set some thirty years ago. I took his writings at face value. When I started reading up about what he did in the inter-war years, it raised bile in my throat.

A couple of years ago I reviewed Everything Worked Like Clockwork The Mechanization of British Regular and Household Cavalry 1918-1942.

The evidence therein that Liddel-Hart was a passed over Captain turned journalist with an agenda and the ears of politicians is compelling. The men on the ground were more ready to work on newfangled mechanised vehicles than to muck out horses every day. Evidence exists that, offered the chance to transfer from a soon-to-be-mechanised cavalry regiment to one that wasn't, make-up was negligible. The only evidence of intransigence is a couple of regimental colonels (old men, not CO Lieutenants Colonel) complaining to MP friends.

Liddel-Hart leaves the impression that every single member of the Corps of Hussars, Lancers and Dragoon Guards was determined never to give up their horses.I

As @California_Tanker makes clear in this presentation, governments were all broken, penniless and chasing the popular peace agenda.
Didn't a lot of resistance come from junior officer ranks ?
After all , you didn't join the Army as a subaltern in the 1920's and 30's to go to war . Your older brothers had just fought the war to end all wars , and one aspect of defence policy post 1919 was the setting up of a committee to predict the likelihood of war in the next 10 years , and they kept predicting the unlikely hood of war 'till the Italian campaign in Abyssinia and German re armament in 1935 . Once the Luftwaffe was unveiled and Spain kicked off , said committee was pointless , it was all hands to the pumps and re-arm as soon as possible ( which resulted in a lot of useless , hastily designed tanks and bombers )
No , you joined the cavalry because you were the not very bright second ,third or fourth son of landed gentry and the Army provided you with a comfortable life which involved a lot of polo and hunting at the tax payers ' expense . Being very class conscious , the very idea of tinkering with engines or anything mechanical was totally anathema , anyway .
The thick sons of the middle class joined the Gunners for pretty much the same reason , as they didn't need a private income and could still enjoy equine sports , whilst the more intelligent and ambitious tended to gravitate towards the RE .
The result of this was a reluctance to embrace change by both the cavalry and the Gunners , with disastrous results , particularly in North Africa and later NW Europe .
 
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AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
Didn't a lot of resistance come from junior officer ranks ?
After all , you didn't join the Army as a subaltern in the 1920's and 30's to go to war . After all you , or your older brothers , had just fought the war to war to end all wars , and one aspect of defence policy post 1919 was the setting up of a committee to predict the likelihood of war in the next 10 years , and they kept predicting the unlikely hood of war 'till the Italian campaign in Abyssinia and German re armament in 1935 . Once the Luftwaffe was unveiled and Spain kicked off , said committee was pointless , it was all hands to the pumps and re-arm as soon as possible ( which resulted in a lot of useless , hastily designed tanks and bombers )
No , you joined the cavalry because you were the not very bright second ,third or fourth son of landed gentry and the Army provided you with a comfortable life which involved a lot of polo and hunting at the tax payers ' expense . Being very class conscious , the very idea of tinkering with engines or anything mechanical was totally anathema , anyway .
The thick sons of the middle class joined the Gunners for pretty much the same reason , as they didn't need a private income and could still enjoy equine sports , whilst the more intelligent and ambitious tended to gravitate towards the RE .
The result of this was a reluctance to embrace change by both the cavalry and the Gunners , with disastrous results , particularly in North Africa and later NW Europe .
It wasn't a reluctance for change, but centuries of horsed warfare that led to the cavalry applying cavalry charges to tanks. Most cavalry spent the inter-war years policing the Empire on horseback instead of learning tank tactics. When 15/19H arrived in France in autumn 1939, they were fully mechanised as was the entire BEF, but fewer than half their vehicles were tanks (most were carriers) and only 12 tanks (Vickers VIb with, iirc .303" machine guns. The .50" MGs mentioned by CalTank were mounted on the VIc, issued to the RTR)) were battle ready. This was typical of the RAC. Apart from a couple of publicised exercises (see the video) there was no training in tank warfare.

There were still horsed cavalry regiments around the Empire until 1942, hence the date on the book title ⬆.
 
Thought this might go over well enough here, a bit of the lesser-known part of tank history. How the UK almost got it right, how wishful thinking is not a viable defense strategy, and how Fuller screwed himself.

Wait thats you?

Sent from my SM-G920F using Tapatalk
 
Your (California Tanker's) discussion of the defence of the Philippines was excellent. Very interesting details re. the ship full of Universal Carriers being found and used by the US.
 
Thought this might go over well enough here, a bit of the lesser-known part of tank history. How the UK almost got it right, how wishful thinking is not a viable defense strategy, and how Fuller screwed himself.


Nice.

Just a few minor quibbles.

The whole section on Tankettes and Martel's involvement, especially the mechanical coffin, is if not wrong, then to brief to do the subject justices. What you said was akin to saying the Panzer II was the equivalent of all panzers. I'm also surprised that you didn't use Martel's work on the 'Monster' as reinforcement to the claim that the British got it mostly right, but were scuppered by cash and circumstances.

Also, on Mechanical Coffin, those really were Martel's own words.


Taken from his plans which he submitted to the General Staff.

The other point is the 1927 exercises had another well known Officer involved, Wavell. They did a presentation in one of the General staff conferences, and pretty much started the evolvement of the cruiser tanks. While the Infantry tanks started their evolution at about the same time. SO a decade later both designs finished development at the same time which gave us the Cruiser/Infantry tank. All the while Martel, who had started the I tank off, was busy trying to kill it (and cruisers) off in favour of the Medium principle.

It's one of those fun discussions to have with the German fanboys who love to talk about how superior their panzers would have been had Hitler held off until 1941 and gotten ready properly for a war. Pointing out that by 1941 we'd have had some truly awesome tanks sort of gets ignored.

But a massive thank you for fighting against the whole "Calvary conservatives wrecked everything!" point of view that comes form Fuller and Hobart.
 
Blimey.
We were actually a bit more on the ball than I thought. Shows what could have happened with thoughts on tracked artillery, IFV', command vehicles and all that gubbins. We could have seriously blacked Jerry's eye in France.
 

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