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This thread was inspired by chat elsewhere that threatened to overwhelm and divert that poor innocent thread.

As it says on the tin; a discussion on military hardware. We were chatting about tanks and weapons of the Second World War, but any military hardware could be talked about.

I shouldn't need to say it but will anyhow; please DO NOT start getting political. This is about the hardware and its application, not the regimes behind it.

Last edited by Sadurian; 17/11/20 05:58 AM. Reason: Noticed and corrected a typo in title.
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It's going to get shouty anyway, you know that. Someone will claim that Teh Tiger is teh awesome and I will have to point out it isn't, and that the MG42 fires literally eleventy billion times a second and is the best gun in the history of ever and I'll say it's kinda cool and interesting but fundamentally horrible, inaccurate and a liability. And then I'll start coming over all fangirly about Bren guns and have to post a picture of Vometia in Fallout 3 with a Bren:

[Linked Image]

and RL Vometia who's fatter with a RL Bren that's heavier:

[Linked Image]

I think we'd also concluded that the Comet was The Bestest Tank of its era and were still undecided on whether the Chaffee or Crusader was the cutest. Actually you said the Stuart and I silently disagreed because it has a head like a bucket.


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There was no question on the Chaffee or Crusader being the cutest, it was the Matilda I and anyone who thinks otherwise is OBVIOUSLY a poo-poo head.

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Oh, yeah, I find that one harder to argue with. And still thought that picture you posted of Sad Matilda outside of Bovington was really, well, sad.


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Easy 8. Yes, its got paper for armour and Yes, it generally only carried a few hyper-verlocity rounds but it was there in such numbers, it was a war winner. I mean really, what COULD stand up to the late war German tank destroyers and tanks? The T34 also get a shout from me smile And the Cromwell but i agree the Comet was the best all rounder.

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Originally Posted by vometia
It's going to get shouty anyway, you know that. Someone will claim that Teh Tiger is teh awesome and I will have to point out it isn't, and that the MG42 fires literally eleventy billion times a second and is the best gun in the history of ever and I'll say it's kinda cool and interesting but fundamentally horrible, inaccurate and a liability. And then I'll start coming over all fangirly about Bren guns and have to post a picture of Vometia in Fallout 3 with a Bren:

[Linked Image]

and RL Vometia who's fatter with a RL Bren that's heavier:

[Linked Image]

I think we'd also concluded that the Comet was The Bestest Tank of its era and were still undecided on whether the Chaffee or Crusader was the cutest. Actually you said the Stuart and I silently disagreed because it has a head like a bucket.


Your tracers seem to be losing velocity at a serious rate there laugh

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Originally Posted by Topper
Your tracers seem to be losing velocity at a serious rate there laugh

Apparently Bren gunners preferred worn-out barrels! But apparently not quite that worn-out. On a slightly less flippant note, it was an extremely accurate gun, which isn't always helpful on full-auto, but it was apocryphally used as a sniper rifle ("apocryphal" as I'm not entirely convinced that the sudden change in its centre of gravity in the albeit tiny fraction of a second between pulling its trigger and firing was conducive to such things) but looking at the design it did have was what effectively a modern free-floated barrel which wasn't really inhibited by the way the gas system was implemented. Hard to say if it was designed with that in mind but it does have a lot of very clever features; I mean most of which were courtesy of the chaps at Brno who designed the Zb26(? I think), I'm not sure how much the guys at Enfield contributed beyond re-chambering it for .303 but it seems there were a number of changes there too.

Sorry, I sometimes get a bit nerdy when it comes to how stuff works. It's normally limited to programming, which is just as well because I'm a terrible shot.

Last edited by vometia; 14/11/20 02:42 PM.

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Originally Posted by vometia
And still thought that picture you posted of Sad Matilda outside of Bovington was really, well, sad.

Yes; sad Matilda is... sad.

[Linked Image]

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Originally Posted by vometia
Originally Posted by Topper
Your tracers seem to be losing velocity at a serious rate there laugh

Apparently Bren gunners preferred worn-out barrels! But apparently not quite that worn-out. On a slightly less flippant note, it was an extremely accurate gun, which isn't always helpful on full-auto, but it was apocryphally used as a sniper rifle ("apocryphal" as I'm not entirely convinced that the sudden change in its centre of gravity in the albeit tiny fraction of a second between pulling its trigger and firing was conducive to such things) but looking at the design it did have was what effectively a modern free-floated barrel which wasn't really inhibited by the way the gas system was implemented. Hard to say if it was designed with that in mind but it does have a lot of very clever features; I mean most of which were courtesy of the chaps at Brno who designed the Zb26(? I think), I'm not sure how much the guys at Enfield contributed beyond re-chambering it for .303 but it seems there were a number of changes there too.

Sorry, I sometimes get a bit nerdy when it comes to how stuff works. It's normally limited to programming, which is just as well because I'm a terrible shot.

Nothing wrong with Nerdy. Nerds are what make the world interesting and complex. All good things. I quite like the M1 Garand....

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Originally Posted by Sadurian
Originally Posted by vometia
And still thought that picture you posted of Sad Matilda outside of Bovington was really, well, sad.

Yes; sad Matilda is... sad.

[Linked Image]

Bloody hell...You'd need a few stiches if you were in that when it got hit :O

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Used as a range target to test the AP capability of newer AT rounds.

At the time it was used operationally, the 1940 France campaign, the Germans had to employ their medium artillery and the 88mm AA guns in direct-fire role to tackle it. The 37mm used both as German AT guns and tank guns in the Panzer III (the former Czech 35t and 38t tanks also had 37mm guns, but these were not the same as the native German ones) could not penetrate. This was not encouraging to the Germans facing it at Arras.

Looking at the thickness of the armour (max 60mm - the contemporary German Panzer IIIE had a maximum of 15mm, and the Panzer III series only reached a maximum 50mm even in the later marks), you can see why it was so resistant to AT fire.

That came at a cost, of course. The tank design triangle; Firepower-Protection-Mobility, definitely favoured the Protection corner at the expense of both Firepower (0.5" HMG) and Mobility (max 8mph, 6.4hp/ton).

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I was wondering about the armour thickness: it did strike me that it looked surprisingly hefty and I was wondering if it was some sort of hollow box-form thingy or whatever you call it. But no. I was also wondering about the calibre of the shot and was a bit confused as even the two-pounder (40mm) would've probably gone straight through but 37mm would explain it.

The power-to-weight ratio is probably why the UK tank wrangling department settled on at least 10 bhp/ton, preferably 12. The Meteor was the ideal answer to that (giving the Cromwell a suspension-destroying speed of 40mph over even rough ground IIRC) and related to the biggest failings of the big Panzers which is that neither their engines not transmission could deal with the weight. Because they were never designed to. I suppose there's some irony in that German tanks now have big lazy 45-litre marine diesels powering them with no fuss and the British tanks have stayed with the approximately-Merlin-sized engine in spite of doubling in weight. Though the reliability problems aren't as bad... they need bigger engines.

Oh yeah, that nerd thing again: well someone has to I suppose. Also the Garand: I could never quite develop a liking for it but that may be as I've never handled one: I have at least fired Lee Enfields of various types (and as bad a shot as I am, it's enough to know they're much maligned), SLRs (my main memory is that the charging handle is actually painful: but it does double as a bottle opener), Sterling SMGs ("you can't hit a barn door with that", except it was the one gun I could actually aim properly; I suppose it's the one gun that is actually about the right size for me), M16s (space age, could aim it better than most rifles), a PPK (only memory is that it is *incredibly* loud) and some other stuff and faffed about with quite a lot more. But never a Garand.


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Originally Posted by Sadurian
Used as a range target to test the AP capability of newer AT rounds.

At the time it was used operationally, the 1940 France campaign, the Germans had to employ their medium artillery and the 88mm AA guns in direct-fire role to tackle it. The 37mm used both as German AT guns and tank guns in the Panzer III (the former Czech 35t and 38t tanks also had 37mm guns, but these were not the same as the native German ones) could not penetrate. This was not encouraging to the Germans facing it at Arras.

Looking at the thickness of the armour (max 60mm - the contemporary German Panzer IIIE had a maximum of 15mm, and the Panzer III series only reached a maximum 50mm even in the later marks), you can see why it was so resistant to AT fire.

That came at a cost, of course. The tank design triangle; Firepower-Protection-Mobility, definitely favoured the Protection corner at the expense of both Firepower (0.5" HMG) and Mobility (max 8mph, 6.4hp/ton).


Really interesting stuff. I've always had an interest in WW2 history, especially DDay and onwards. I have an ancestor that was killed during operation Goodwood, probably by one of those 88's. Tanks are impressive but sooooooo vunerable. Guess thats why the British army is planning to get rid of them. Or so I heard.

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Originally Posted by vometia
I was wondering about the armour thickness: it did strike me that it looked surprisingly hefty and I was wondering if it was some sort of hollow box-form thingy or whatever you call it. But no. I was also wondering about the calibre of the shot and was a bit confused as even the two-pounder (40mm) would've probably gone straight through but 37mm would explain it.

The power-to-weight ratio is probably why the UK tank wrangling department settled on at least 10 bhp/ton, preferably 12. The Meteor was the ideal answer to that (giving the Cromwell a suspension-destroying speed of 40mph over even rough ground IIRC) and related to the biggest failings of the big Panzers which is that neither their engines not transmission could deal with the weight. Because they were never designed to. I suppose there's some irony in that German tanks now have big lazy 45-litre marine diesels powering them with no fuss and the British tanks have stayed with the approximately-Merlin-sized engine in spite of doubling in weight. Though the reliability problems aren't as bad... they need bigger engines.

Oh yeah, that nerd thing again: well someone has to I suppose. Also the Garand: I could never quite develop a liking for it but that may be as I've never handled one: I have at least fired Lee Enfields of various types (and as bad a shot as I am, it's enough to know they're much maligned), SLRs (my main memory is that the charging handle is actually painful: but it does double as a bottle opener), Sterling SMGs ("you can't hit a barn door with that", except it was the one gun I could actually aim properly; I suppose it's the one gun that is actually about the right size for me), M16s (space age, could aim it better than most rifles), a PPK (only memory is that it is *incredibly* loud) and some other stuff and faffed about with quite a lot more. But never a Garand.


You have quite an interesting back story I suspect. I've never fired a real gun. I did play Airsoft for a few years though. Bought an M16 (M15 for copyright) and a full 1967 US army vietnam loadout. Happy days smile The Garand just always seemed.....meaty...unambiguous. The Sterling is cool. A sten that doesnt suck and doubles as a stormtrooper blaster. Whats not to like.

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Gah - don't me started on getting rid of our (UK) tanks.

There was the possibility of getting rid of MBTs mooted at one point, but it was just a suggestion and will (hopefully) not be taken up. What has happened is the adoption of the Ajax; intended as a reconnaissance vehicle but which has now been earmarked to replace Challenger 2s in one of our three remaining tank regiments. The King’s Royal Hussars will become a 'medium' armour regiment.

The trouble with Ajax is that it is taller than Challenger 2, too wide to be transported by air, is less protected in its base form than the Warrior IFV, and uses a 40mm gun that trials have suggested will jam if used when travelling. The ammunition is also from a single external source (USA); our Ajax-equipped forces therefore need to rely on supplies from overseas with no domestic supplier. If the USA ever decides it does not agree with our Foreign policy (Suez anyone?) it could cripple our armoured forces by restricting or cutting ammunition supplies.

Getting rid of tanks would be a ridiculous decision (not that an armchair warrior in Whitehall won't make it). One of those ideas that sounds logical when you are fighting asymmetric conflicts against a low-tech enemy, but which is suicidal when fighting a near-peer enemy. Should the British Army need to be deployed to the Baltics or Ukraine, or if another Gulf War breaks out, tanks are going to be vital fighting units and we have too few of them as it is.

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Hmmm....Its tricky.....I dont have enough up to date knowledge to comment to any degree.. As you say, in ideal tank on tank conditions, you need a good tank (obviously) but if future wars (the less the better) are going to be againts low tech adversaries probably in urban settings, do you need MBT's???

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You don't need MBTs for low-tech enemies, but there is nothing to say that these will exclusively be the UK's military enemies for the future. It is worth training and preparing for overseas policing actions, but not at the neglect of our first-line forces developed to face peer enemies. We went down that route in the late C19th and the result was seen in Belgium in 1914. We then went down the same route in the 1920s and 30s, and 1939/40 showed what happened. We have wandered down that same old avenue again, and should the British Army be called upon to deploy, we better hope that the enemy are even worse equipped than we are.

Whilst trawling files in the UK archives at Kew, I came across a press clipping attached to a file. It was an announcement that Britain should never allow herself to be caught unprepared for war by letting her military forces deteriorate in peacetime. The announcement was by Queen Victoria in the late C19th.

Every single time we neglect the expensive forces intended to face peer enemies, the result is that we are caught on the back foot when war against such an enemy breaks out. Tanks aren't something you can suddenly re-introduce at a moment's notice. They need training and integration, logistical practice and experience. That takes years to attain. Worse is the neglect of the domestic tank industry. By allowing it to wither to a token rump f what it was, Britain is in real danger of not having a replacement for Challenger 2. The tank is already obsolescent (but not yet obsolete), and there are no replacement designs in the pipeline. We will either have to collaborate on a new design (and all efforts in that field have historically failed) or buy a foreign design 'of the shelf'. That will be the final nail in the UK tank industry's coffin, as well as becoming reliant on a foreign power for licences, support and training.

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The Challenger was not a big export success and the british army did not order more. The industrial base for tank production in the UK is gone as far as I know.
KMW Nexter is working on the next Leopard and I guess that britain could join the effort. I think Rheinmetall is currently offering a comprehensive upgrade package for the Challenger 2. Its rifled gun needs to be replaced in order for it to be able to penetrate the frontal armor of current tanks. I don't see a market for a new british tank. The US industry will replace the M1A2 in the not too distant future and the market will be flooded with cheap M1s.
While MBTs are not needed to combat low tech insurgents they are quite useful. Canada is very happy with the performance of its Leopard Tanks in Afghanistan. MBTs were also very effective in urban combat in the battle of Daraa in the syrian civil war.
The main problem for MBTs are drones armed with missiles and loitering munitions like Israels Harop. The battle of Idlib between turkish proxies supported by the turkish airforce and artillery against the SAA provided lots of evidence for the thesis. More recently the battle for Berg Karabach saw the destruction of ca. 70 Armenian MBTs by drones. To the best of my knowledge the only air defense system with proven good performance against such drones is the TOR. Better laser warning systems with "decoy" projection, improved bomblet protection and inclusion of tracked close in air defense systems are basic requirements for the viability of the tank battallion under contested airspace.
Britain does have a few nukes, that is it. The european militaries are in a dismal state of preparedness. I am mostly familiar with the situation of the german army but the problems appear to be similar across the EU. Legacy hardware, little maintenance, hard to get spare parts. A lot of the maintenance relies on just in time delivery instead of stockpiling. It does not work well in peacetime and it won't get better when the supply chain gets hit.

"but if future wars (the less the better) are going to be againts low tech adversaries probably in urban settings, do you need MBT's"
I think the time of low tech adversaries is over. The cost of guided missiles has come down to a point where non state actors can and do employ them. The current trend is one back to peer competiton. The US Military is transforming rapidly away from counter insurgency to peer war capability. The Taiwan strait has become something like the new berlin wall and the change of administration in the US is not going to change the geostrategic factors putting the US and China on the path to conflict. We will see something like insurgencies but they will most likely take the form of proxy wars

I think the Bren is quite a good design but I don't like the 303 cartridge, it tends to jam. I don't own a 303 rifle but the cartridge seems to be less suited for loading strips like the ones on my K98 than 8x57

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Originally Posted by vometia
It's going to get shouty anyway, you know that. Someone will claim that Teh Tiger is teh awesome and I will have to point out it isn't, and that the MG42 fires literally eleventy billion times a second and is the best gun in the history of ever and I'll say it's kinda cool and interesting but fundamentally horrible, inaccurate and a liability. *snip*


I don't think many people would disagree. In the end Germany with their " Pyfekt , JA VOHL" MG42 lost. And there's a reason for it. For every 8 man squad armed with an MG42 2 more men had to follow them with ammunition.
In the meantime M1 Garands assisted with BARs (Or cal.30 on larger operations) could output similar firepower. Well, not similar but it allowed suppressing fire to be effective.

Also after the war Americans used some of the MG42 systems and ...nerfed them. Because of the above. That's how the M60 was born. Rambo exists because of it. We can salute the MG42 for giving us Rambo + a tragic backstory for our civilization and leave it here.

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Originally Posted by Topper
Hmmm....It's tricky.....I don't have enough up to date knowledge to comment to any degree.. As you say, in the ideal tank on tank conditions, you need a good tank (obviously) but if future wars (the less the better) are going to be against low tech adversaries probably in urban settings, do you need MBT's???


The war between Russia and Ukraine kinda shown the "small, interventionist" style we were going for in EU isn't exactly the way the war of tomorrow might look. Interventionism doesn't work if 50k people rush you assisted by artillery and tanks. I took this conflict as an example cause it really was a wake up call in EU as far as I'm aware.

I'm not too familiar with the state of the EU military when it comes to the equipment itself. All tanks from the artistic point of view seem to be a copy-paste of the US Abrams ^^ We'll see if PL-01 inspires something more interesting. In Japan they work on giant Mechas, If I see an armored Mecha with a Gatling gun casually walking down the streets it will make my day.


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The "tanks are obsolete" thing has been going on since well before I first developed an interest in them, and that was nearly 40 years ago. The UK does have a problem in that our manufacturing base has been largely trashed though I honestly have little idea how much is left. The alternative of "buy American!" that we always seem to end up with doesn't always have the best outcome: stuff often not as good as claimed (as a nation we do have a habit of talking down our own stuff while believing the hyperbole about someone else's) and the single-source-of-ammunition sounds idiotic, especially for a gun that sounds so ropey.

The rifled-vs-smoothbore thing is a controversy that will go on and on. I'm not sure how things currently stand but way back it was the case that tank-on-tank action was rare enough that e.g. the Cromwell's excellent 57mm AT gun was bored out to fire the fat lazy 75mm shells because HE was ten times more useful; if they needed something with more hitting power against tanks then a Firefly or something like that would be available (probably a bad example as they were usually assigned with other Shermans, but you get the idea). My understanding was the main reason for going down the smoothbore route was commonality of ammunition, because that idea has always worked out so well, thinking of the EM1/2 and Taden being an excellent modern weapons system of their time and having to be binned because the US Army wanted something ballistically identical to all WW1 battle rifles and of course we had to go along with it. Same story with e.g. the engines of '60s MBTs where the US and Germany said they must be multifuel then the Americans stuck with a petrol engine and the Germans with what is essentially a normal diesel, while the Chieftain coughed and spluttered with its bizarre and underpowered dual-fuel jobbie while the others looked on and said, "lol, how's that order book looking?"

Re small arms, the British Army tried more than once to replace the .303 but it didn't happen due to a mix of huge stockpiles and a lack of desire to spend money on rearming outside of wartime. AFAICT the jamming problem seems quite apocryphal and there were a lot of automatic weapons designed for it, whether via curly magazines like the Bren, Madsen, Berthier etc, belt-fed like the Vickers and Browning M1919 and others. In spite of quite definitely being an anachronism by WWII it worked well enough and from what I recall had pretty much identical ballistic performance to the Mauser 8mm. Which brings up an interesting point about ammunition commonality as locally-designed British tanks all used Mauser 8mm for their machine guns, as they were fitted with albeit British-made versions of the Czech MMG designs and someone made the decision that there was little benefit going to the bother of converting them to fire .303. And there wasn't: logistically it was never a problem. Really they needed look no further than the Vickers and Lee Enfield situation: while technically both fired the same .303 ammunition, firing Vickers .303s out of Lee Enfields would soon destroy their barrels. Which of course the squaddies did anyway as they'd heard they were more powerful. AFAIK they weren't, they just used a more streamlined bullet design to gain extra range.

Also re nukes, it's a shame that also went down the "buy American" route as we'd developed our own, having been locked out of the weapons programme for security breaches (er, remind me who leaked our Magnox reactor designs ultimately leading to fairly low-tech countries like NK being able to build them...?) which were actually better designs in some ways, i.e. being less prone to being affected by other nearby nuclear blasts. But admittedly secured by what was essentially a bicycle lock, and that slightly British thing of "er, did we say 1MT? Three is sort of about there, isn't it? Oops."


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