German Wündertanks vs Shermans

I don’t doubt many will continue to debate Montgomery’s effectiveness, but his men believed in him and that is often forgotten.
I knew a few who were, shall we say, not completely convinced, particularly after trying to get armour up to Arnhem.
 
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Pretty sure he didn't order a "failed attack"... that WOULD have been grounds for mutiny.

...and won the battle.

I'm not overly familiar with Dorman Smith other than his being cordially hated by the rest of the Army and a predilection for the IRA. Whilst he assisted Auchinleck with planning First Alamein, I'm not aware that he was an innovative armour tactician.
Lumsden, during lightfoot was involved in a row with the infantry, in which Monty overruled his armoured expert and the attack failed with disastrous losses. It took another week of bloody stalemate and Supercharge to finally break the back of the DAK.

Dorman Smith was a thinker and was largely responsible for most of the planning for the first alamein. He and Auk, brought in the idea of balanced all-arms Brigade groups, instead of jock columns. Monty, went back to Divisions, with the inevitable consequences, on constricted terrain.
 
Interesting, as the Red Army had been very keen on airlanding armour pre-war as part of the deep battle concept and later went back to the idea.

The USSR’s Air-Dropped Fighting Vehicles Tore Through Cold War Conflicts
I went back to review the article that I read on the Tetrarchs in the Soviet Union, and it turned out that a few did actually see combat on the Caucasus front before the official evaluation of them was complete. A handful of them had been imported through Iran, and so were located in Armenia.
Tank Archives: Tetrarch in the USSR

One week later, on August 15th, a conclusion from the NIIBT proving grounds finally arrived. Recall that the tank was sent there back in July of 1942. Instead of a complete thorough examination, the trials were short, and the report only took up 9 handwritten pages. The results were that the MK-VII was a complex, clumsy, weakly armoured tank that does not present an interest as a weapon for the army.
The Soviets did like the high power to weight ratio, but the suspension was too weak, it broke easily on rough terrain, it turned poorly, and the armour was too thin.
 
I knew a few who were, shall we say, not completely convinced, particularly after trying to get armour up to Arnhem.
I would echo their sentiments. However how much of that was a failure of IPB we’ll never know.

I wondered why the tracked vehicles just didn’t move cross country. It wasn’t I watched an episode of battle field detectives. Where they tried it with a Sherman and it got bogged down in the ground once the ground had been churned up a bit.

I understand that market garden was a failure, but personally I think it was a risk worth taking. It was very nearly pulled off.
 
I should add that the Tetrarch was apparently the subject of a bit of a security scandal. A TASS photographer took photos of some in the field in (I assume) Armenia, and they ended up being published.

When the British found out about this they complained, as the tank was officially still a secret. As a result of a British request a ban went out in the Soviet press that there were to be no photos published of either Tetrarch or Churchill tanks in Soviet service, as they were both on the secret list.

The source for this is the same as my above post.
 
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I went back to review the article that I read on the Tetrarchs in the Soviet Union, and it turned out that a few did actually see combat on the Caucasus front before the official evaluation of them was complete. A handful of them had been imported through Iran, and so were located in Armenia.
Tank Archives: Tetrarch in the USSR



The Soviets did like the high power to weight ratio, but the suspension was too weak, it broke easily on rough terrain, it turned poorly, and the armour was too thin.
You wonder if it gave them the idea postwar for their ASU series and later BMD.
 
Lumsden, during lightfoot was involved in a row with the infantry, in which Monty overruled his armoured expert and the attack failed with disastrous losses. It took another week of bloody stalemate and Supercharge to finally break the back of the DAK.
It's a commander's prerogative, on listening to others' opinions, to make of them what he will. Whilst a subordinate may have a better appreciation of his area or aspect , the commanding General should have a fuller picture of the overall progress of the battle, and act accordingly.

What you've just described is attrition. Not nice or pretty, but in the end it worked.
 
Re Tetrarchs:

No light tanks were used in Arnhem. 16 of the Hamilcars were used to carry the airlanded RA 17pdrs (each carrying the gun plus tractor). The 6pdrs were all carried by Horsa. From memory, another 9 or so Hamilcars were used to carry Universal Carriers (2 per glider), which would be used to carry supplies for the Para and Airlanding Bns (their armour in theory made them better for collecting supplies from exposed supply DZs). Some more Hamilcars were used to fly in bulk supplies and a load more were kept back for a USAAF airfield engineering battalion that was meant to have been flown in to build an airfield capable of taking Dakotas. The Dakotas would then bring in the bulk of 52nd (Lowland) Division (these last lifts were cancelled).

In Normandy, 6AARR flew 20 Tetrarchs in by Hamilcar. More Hamilcars carried the regiment's Universal Carriers, Loyd battery carrier and 'Rotatrailers'. As Listy says, these were gradually replaced with Cromwells. After Normandy Tetrarchs were binned and the regiment was reorganised, now having two troops of 4x Cromwells (1 tank troop per squadron) for ground ops and 'alternate equipment' of 4x M22 Locusts per tank troop for airborne ops.

In the event, the Cromwells and Locusts were used simultaneously on the Rhine: The bulk of the regiment, with the eight Cromwells, crossed the Rhine by conventional means and the eight Locusts (with a 4.2-inch mortar troop) flew across by glider. One Locust actually fell out of its glider over the Channel (the glider went down with it) and only three made it off the LZ, whereupon they drew so much enemy fire that they were kept under cover and stayed there until the RA adopted them as OP tanks. I met one old boy at Bovington who 'landed' at Hamminkeln upside-down in his Locust, which skidded across the LZ at a high rate of knots on its turret when the glider crashed! Astonishingly, all three tank crew survived.
It is arguable, but I think even a few Tetrarchs would have been helpful to the Division on Day One especially, as the principal opponent to the advancing paras, Kampfgruppe Spindler, had no armour and only a few towed 20mm AA guns.
Also, as the approach marches were along metalled roads, the Tetrarch's limited cross-country mobility would not have been the hindrance it was elsewhere. Psychologically, the presence of tanks amid the overall initial shock may have persuaded the Germans to initially fall back rather than stand and fight.
At Arnhem bridge, had they reached it, a troop of Tetrarchs could have swung the battle in getting Frost's forces to the other side, as the Germans defending the bridge initially were light troops.
As I say though - a debateable point. Certainly, Tetrarchs wouldn't have lasted long in combat once the heavier German stuff started to roll up...
 
It is arguable, but I think even a few Tetrarchs would have been helpful to the Division on Day One especially, as the principal opponent to the advancing paras, Kampfgruppe Spindler, had no armour and only a few towed 20mm AA guns.
Also, as the approach marches were along metalled roads, the Tetrarch's limited cross-country mobility would not have been the hindrance it was elsewhere. Psychologically, the presence of tanks amid the overall initial shock may have persuaded the Germans to initially fall back rather than stand and fight.
At Arnhem bridge, had they reached it, a troop of Tetrarchs could have swung the battle in getting Frost's forces to the other side, as the Germans defending the bridge initially were light troops.
As I say though - a debateable point. Certainly, Tetrarchs wouldn't have lasted long in combat once the heavier German stuff started to roll up...
I agree: The one airborne op where the airborne armour might have made a difference was the one where they weren't used - Arnhem. Freddie Gough did in fact form a 'coup de main' force from his surviving Jeeps plus the two RASC Universal Carriers attached to 2 Para, with the intention of taking the southern end of the bridge at the first sign of XXX Corps' approach and I'm sure that a few Tetrarchs would have been handy. However, with hindsight it's unlikely that they would have had a significant impact on the overall outcome.
 
At Alamein, there was a near mutiny, by several armoured officers, not overly keen on sending anymore men to die on a narrow front, dominated by 88s and a panzer division. Similarly, the Infantry Commanders were screaming for armoured support, giving the roving panzers behind the german gun line.

The plan lacked any understanding of armour and failed in the first 24 hrs. I originally, offered my so called op certain death, as a way around the narrow frontage problem. But that was blown out of the water, with the perceived lack of logistics and a lack of understanding of my intent.
This is key imo. Monty was able to resist the political pressure from Churchill to get going with an attack. How he managed when Auk & Waverley had sometimes bowed to pressure I don't know.

IIRC that Monty insisted on a cpl of months delay in the attack to allow supplies to be build up & the new arrivals to be trained properly.
As I said before ,somehow, Monty was able to make the arguments and survive when others had not. Alamein was a costly battle and even then didn't smash them- it cost another 1500 miles of slogging and the Yanks
 
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It's a commander's prerogative, on listening to others' opinions, to make of them what he will. Whilst a subordinate may have a better appreciation of his area or aspect , the commanding General should have a fuller picture of the overall progress of the battle, and act accordingly.

What you've just described is attrition. Not nice or pretty, but in the end it worked.
True enough, its the commanders prerogative, but that also opens up a line of debate and criticism. Perhaps, I am unfair, but its because of my belief, monty was over-promoted.

The operation failed the first day, to clear the minefield and attrition only worked, because our Artillery and Airforce gave the Germans a right good going over. The Infantry/Armour barely contributed, accept as target practice for the german gunners.

Maybe, I am harsh, because of my fan boy for manstein.
 
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It is arguable, but I think even a few Tetrarchs would have been helpful to the Division on Day One especially, as the principal opponent to the advancing paras, Kampfgruppe Spindler, had no armour and only a few towed 20mm AA guns.
Also, as the approach marches were along metalled roads, the Tetrarch's limited cross-country mobility would not have been the hindrance it was elsewhere. Psychologically, the presence of tanks amid the overall initial shock may have persuaded the Germans to initially fall back rather than stand and fight.
At Arnhem bridge, had they reached it, a troop of Tetrarchs could have swung the battle in getting Frost's forces to the other side, as the Germans defending the bridge initially were light troops.
As I say though - a debateable point. Certainly, Tetrarchs wouldn't have lasted long in combat once the heavier German stuff started to roll up...
That would be my train of thought. Obviously, the airbourne tank can't stand up to TDs or Panzer IVs, but, on the first day, in broad daylight, they could have been very useful.
 
[...]but the suspension was too weak, it broke easily [...]
I smell a commie porky pie!

Tomorrow when at home with my notes I'll post up what the British did to that suspension in the way of testing on that suspension. Granted the claims made by Vickers about how awesome the suspension was were utter fantasy land, which quite a few on the General staff questioned repeatedly, but all those Vickers claims were about the engine power required to run the tank.
 
I smell a commie porky pie!

Tomorrow when at home with my notes I'll post up what the British did to that suspension in the way of testing on that suspension. Granted the claims made by Vickers about how awesome the suspension was were utter fantasy land, which quite a few on the General staff questioned repeatedly, but all those Vickers claims were about the engine power required to run the tank.
That will be interesting to see. For reference, the specific Soviet report which is quoted in the article said the following about the suspension:

The tank's suspension includes hydraulic shock absorbers which weaken when used on bad roads. When the shock absorber lines break (which has happened), they collapse, and the wheels fall under the hull.
 
It is arguable, but I think even a few Tetrarchs would have been helpful to the Division on Day One especially, as the principal opponent to the advancing paras, Kampfgruppe Spindler, had no armour and only a few towed 20mm AA guns.
Also, as the approach marches were along metalled roads, the Tetrarch's limited cross-country mobility would not have been the hindrance it was elsewhere. Psychologically, the presence of tanks amid the overall initial shock may have persuaded the Germans to initially fall back rather than stand and fight.
At Arnhem bridge, had they reached it, a troop of Tetrarchs could have swung the battle in getting Frost's forces to the other side, as the Germans defending the bridge initially were light troops.
As I say though - a debateable point. Certainly, Tetrarchs wouldn't have lasted long in combat once the heavier German stuff started to roll up...
I'm not sure how much use they would have been unless they had been CS versions. The Littlejohns could not fire HE (a big problem which the early war British tanks had) so that means just a moving MG against infantry who had very good AT weapons.
 
I would echo their sentiments. However how much of that was a failure of IPB we’ll never know.

I wondered why the tracked vehicles just didn’t move cross country. It wasn’t I watched an episode of battle field detectives. Where they tried it with a Sherman and it got bogged down in the ground once the ground had been churned up a bit.

I understand that market garden was a failure, but personally I think it was a risk worth taking. It was very nearly pulled off.
Based on what I've been told by the old and bold who did it, the main reason was Shermans bog fairly easily and the area was soaking wet, second reason was mines frequently laid along the edges of the roads in the fire zones.
 
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Based on what I've been told by the old and bold who did it, the main reason was Shermans bog fairly easily and the area was soaking wet, second reason was mines frequently laid along the edges of the roads in the fire zones.
Aye, those pesky germans, how dare, they do something so unsporting. Had the British Army that resided in the UK, become too road bound ?

Certainly, in other campaigns, the army had a greater appreciation of moving off road, was that an Indian Army doctrine, with UK units adapting alongside that.
 
Had the British Army that resided in the UK, become too road bound ?
Certainly, in other campaigns, the army had a greater appreciation of moving off road, was that an Indian Army doctrine, with UK units adapting alongside that.
My regiment had fought from Alamein to Tunis and as soon as they were out of the bocage of Normandy fanned out into 'Desert formation', ran over several mines, bogged some tanks and came back to the roads pretty sharpish. I can't speak for anyone else but from what I was told this was a local decision, i.e. the Colonel and squadron leaders told the troop leaders.
 
As I said before ,somehow, Monty was able to make the arguments and survive when others had not. Alamein was a costly battle and even then didn't smash them- it cost another 1500 miles of slogging and the Yanks
We wouldn’t have smashed them. And we did need the yanks, otherwise it would’ve been the same as before. Advance lengthening you’re supply lines as the enemy’s supply lines shorten. Stall, enemy counter attack retreat, their attack stalls for lack of supplies.
 

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