Was the Comet tank the best Medium tank of WW2?

The soviets probably had a near-zero servicing and maintenance regime for vehicles in the field, so i imagine that all vehicles of whatever original build quality would tend to the same limited lifespan.

If this is the case then presumably UK/US stats for the M4A2 should show a better service life.
Regardless of that speculation, it does call into question the claims that the M4 was dramatically more reliable than the T-34 under conditions on the eastern front under Soviet service. In this case the same tank regiment is operating both and finding them of roughly equal lifespan under similar conditions. That doesn't mean that they were of equal build quality or had equal numbers of minor faults, but it does mean that in the grand scheme of things there wasn't a huge difference between them in terms of how long they would last.

The article itself focuses on the point that the Germans were delighted that they had solved all the problems of the Panther because they were now getting an engine life that was not even half as good as what the Soviets were getting out of their T-34s or Shermans when counting all causes of failure. The Panther was a bit crap from the sounds of it.
 
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And here's the results of Soviet testing on a variety of guns. It doesn't have the 77mm or 17pdr, but it does show a variety of guns that aren't in the previous table. The numbers will not be the same as with the UK testing, as the testing methods and what counts as "penetration" are not the same. However, the relative rankings should be comparable. A description in English for the headings can be found in the article.

Tank Archives: Penetration
 
The Churchill was a heavy tank. The speed was comparable to a KV-1, so not actually slow for its class.
Not disputing that at all. However, given that we could mount a 17pdr on a faster chassis with adequate protection, which makes better sense?

That said, it’s intersting that post-Centurion we went with the heavily armoured Chieftain whilst the Germans were scooting around in Leopard 1s.
 

AlienFTM

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For example, IIRC, Hobart was the one that coined the bit about the general staff not wanting to mechanise and how we wanted to keep our cavalry and horses. Looking at primary documents there's not a shred of evidence to support this,
Close. Liddell Hart.
 
Not disputing that at all. However, given that we could mount a 17pdr on a faster chassis with adequate protection, which makes better sense?

That said, it’s intersting that post-Centurion we went with the heavily armoured Chieftain whilst the Germans were scooting around in Leopard 1s.
Heavy/infantry tanks filled a different role than mediums/cruisers. Heavies were used to assist in assaults on well defended positions and to try to stop enemy offensives, while medium/cruisers were intended to exploit the breakthroughs.

The major reason for there being two types during WWII was the limitations of available engines meant that you could have speed or heavy armour, but not both. The result was that heavy tanks such as the Churchill and KV-1 tended to be slow.

At the tail end of the war it started to become possible to combine both in a single vehicle, which brought us the MBT. The Centurion gave good armour protection, adequate speed, and a powerful gun all in one package. Given that, there was no need to have separate specialised cruiser/medium and infantry/heavy types, hence the line of development represented by the Comet became unnecessary.

In the context of WWII however, it is interesting to note that if we look at the British penetration tests that I posted above, the Comet's 77mm with APCBC had the same penetration as the 88mm in a Tiger, and with sabot vastly outperformed it. The only advantage the 88mm had in this respect was in having a high explosive bursting charge in their armour piercing.
 
I often think they missed a trick pre and post Normandy

Comet production was delayed by the need to ramp up Cromwell production to replace losses instead of it drawing down to ramp up Comet production.

Having a Factory switch over pre Normandy and to Issue Comets to Cromwell regiments a la Fireflys in Sherman regiments. Would have had Comet in service quicker and given the Cromwell regiments an on hand Tiger buster - sans the unreliable abortion that was Challenger or the logistic cocking up Sherman.

Of course in the grand scheme of things it may have made little difference to Cromwell equipped units beyond a confidence / Morale boost as despite the hype Tigers were not really a significant obstacle to operations in 1944, but it may have averted some criticism and yah boo sucks mythology vis British armour post war.
 
At the tail end of the war it started to become possible to combine both in a single vehicle, which brought us the MBT. The Centurion gave good armour protection, adequate speed, and a powerful gun all in one package. Given that, there was no need to have separate specialised cruiser/medium and infantry/heavy types, hence the line of development represented by the Comet became unnecessary.
Despite its cruiser heritage - I would argue the Comet was intended as at least an interim Universal Tank - It was intended to replace Cromwell - Sherman** and Churchill in British service.

** Im not sure the numbers stack up for that one - unless the UK was (unduly) confidant by late 1943*** that Tank losses would be much reduced allowing UK production to meet UK needs and or concentrating on a single UK Type would enable increased volume compared to 2 disparate models.

Its my opinion it was intended to replace Cromwell and Shermans in armoured Divisions / brigades and possibly some Tank Bdes with the Shermans being moved to tank Brigades - but opinion ********* etc


*** I mean 1943 not a typo - the time design decisions were made not the time design complete
 

AlienFTM

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It was, i think, Hobart who did some axe grinding post war in his book as well. At least it was mentioned on here last time we visited the subject.
Liddell Hart spent the entire inter war period creating a myth.
 
Having said that, I've done some looking around and found a reference in which a Soviet tank guards regiment had both T-34s and Shermans, although it doesn't say in what proportion. Tank Archives: Tank Reliability

Rather interestingly, they found T-34s and M4A2s to be of equal reliability.
  • T-34: 2000-2500 km, 250-300 hours
  • IS/ISU-122: 1200-1800 km, 230-280 hours
  • M4A2: 2000-2500 km, 250-300 hours
  • SU-76: 1200-1800 km, 180-200 hours
This is the average of how long their tanks lasted, based on the life of all components. This is may be the life before the tank requires a major rebuild at a repair centre. The lower ISU-122 and SU-76 numbers probably reflect that class of vehicle tending to be overloaded.
Just be aware that that site is somewhat pro- Russian. Not saying it's a bad site, or that the sources should be discounted, or we can discount it entirely, but there is a slight bias on that site. The writer got himself a bit of a reputation in the WOT community.
 
Just be aware that that site is somewhat pro- Russian. Not saying it's a bad site, or that the sources should be discounted, or we can discount it entirely, but there is a slight bias on that site. The writer got himself a bit of a reputation in the WOT community.
He certainly gets the wehrmacht fanbois wound up when he pulls out archive records which don't support their view of history. You can see it in the comments on some posts. There is one person in particular who goes into a frothing rage at any suggestion that Tigers, Panthers, or German tanks in general are anything other than head and shoulders above all others of the time.

The site owner also publishes a lot of British and US records as well by the way. I've linked one of those in another post here which shows the performance of the gun in the Comet.

With respect to that one particular report about reliability though, it is just one report from one tank formation at one point in time. However, it is contemporary original source material which is more than we have been seeing from some other posts here. We do know from other archive material published on the same site that the Soviets could be very harsh and very detailed in their criticism of their own tanks if they did not live up to expectations, there are plenty of examples there for anyone who cares to read them.
 
An observation I have is that German tanks certainly had decent firepower capabilities.
Their 75mm kwk40 was a rather nifty in terms of all round capability. We either had a decent HE shell for a weapon or a descent AP but not both. 75mm QF had a good HE, but a bland AP round. Until we got the US 76mm in theatre not sure if we had anything like it on the allied side in terms of all rounder.
Imagine something like a Churchill armed with the German kwk40. Armour like a Tiger and with Decent AP and HE. Not possible, I know, but that would have caused "oh @#£&" moments on the opposite side.
 
An observation I have is that German tanks certainly had decent firepower capabilities.
Their 75mm kwk40 was a rather nifty in terms of all round capability. We either had a decent HE shell for a weapon or a descent AP but not both. 75mm QF had a good HE, but a bland AP round. Until we got the US 76mm in theatre not sure if we had anything like it on the allied side in terms of all rounder.
Imagine something like a Churchill armed with the German kwk40. Armour like a Tiger and with Decent AP and HE. Not possible, I know, but that would have caused "oh @#£&" moments on the opposite side.
You’ve just described the Black Prince.
 
You’ve just described the Black Prince.
Alas, a little too late! Might have been useful in Normandy and Italy.
Trouble is tech keeps moving. We went from Matilda MK2 to Centurion in the space of 5 odd years. 2pdr to 20pdr and a lot more armour.
Did we ever get to field a decent HE round for the 17pdr ooi?
 
You’ve just described the Black Prince.
Or the Comet. Armour as thick as a Tiger, and a gun with better AP performance and a decent HE capability.
 

AlienFTM

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Alas, a little too late! Might have been useful in Normandy and Italy.
Trouble is tech keeps moving. We went from Matilda MK2 to Centurion in the space of 5 odd years. 2pdr to 20pdr and a lot more armour.
Did we ever get to field a decent HE round for the 17pdr ooi?
No. It was built as an antitank fun and shoehorned into tanks. I would guess that having proved the 17pdr as a tank gun, a more suitable goal purpose tank gun was developed as the 20pdr.

But it's just a wild guess.

Armament designers build the round first, then the gun to fire it. I remember reading many years ago that many nations decided a 105mm round was right for field artillery and each developed its own round, and gun to fire it, pretty much in the same time frame.
 
Did we ever get to field a decent HE round for the 17pdr ooi?
Well there was a HE Round for it. According to my docs there's about 600ml* of space inside it when fired at 1800fps.

*Why is the space given in millilitres? Well the doc I have is from 1955 when the British were worrying about the large number of 17Lbr's in service and how they'd do against the Commie tank horde.
Step forward the brightest of Britain's scientists to come up with a solution, chemical anti-tank rounds. No not HEAT, or even HESH, but Chemical. the scientists were from Porton Down. They worked on the principle if we take normal service HE, fill it with thickened GD and smash it into an enemy tank, who cares about armour?
Just to stay on the thread, they used a Comet for the tests, and I've got a series of photographs of the Comet getting drenched by the impacts.
 

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