Sidetracks: M56 Scorpion

The criteria?

A Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Gun (Tank Destroyer) that was light enough to be airdropped.

The_Chieftain of Wargaming America can give the technical spiel here 🙂

But seriously…that recoil is like a bucking bronco!

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Quick Overview of Developments (WW1-Present)

What was developed and what changed?

NOTE: Observations by the student that they remember off the top of their head.

WW1:

  • Tanks first produced
    • Primitive design (Non-Classical layout)
    • Riveted steel construction
      • Bad armoring
    • Bad ventilation/internal conditions
    • Primitive tactics
      • Lack of combined arms experience
    • Extremely slow speeds
    • Early specialized tanks
      • Engineering Vehicles
      • Self-Propelled Artillery

WW2:

  • Improvements:
    • Improved design
      • Classical layout
    • Cast or welded steel construction
      • Improved armor (mostly from the front)
        • Angled armor
    • Improved ventilation/internal conditions
      • Radios
    • Improved armaments
      • Variable ammunition types (armor piercing, HEAT, HESH, HE etc.)
      • Bigger guns
    • Improved tactics
      • Better integration of combined arms tactics
        • Blitzkrieg!
    • More specialized tanks
      • More Engineering Vehicles
      • Tank Destroyers
      • Assault Guns

Cold War/Modern Era

  • Improvements
    • Classical layout
    • Composite Armoring (Cast/Welded, no more Steel Armor)
      • Reactive Armor
      • Angled armor becomes less useful
      • Contained Ammunition Storage (to prevent ammo fires/explosions)
    • Further improved ventilation/internal conditions
      • Interior reinforced to protect crew from Nuclear/Biological conditions
    • Improved armaments
      • More ammunition types
      • Even bigger, more accurate guns
    • Improved tactics
      • Full integration of combined arms tactics
    • Specializations/Removals
      • Light tanks replaced mostly by Armored Fighting Vehicles
      • No more assault guns or tank destroyers
      • Heavy/Medium tanks replaced by Main Battle Tanks (Tanks that can do almost everything that a Heavy/Medium/Light Tank can do)
      • Anti-Aircraft Tanks

Sidetracks: Tiger 131 and Tiger Day

Tiger 131 is a Tiger I tank on display at the Bovington Tank Museum in England, it was featured in Fury as the Tiger I that attacks and destroys most of Fury’s platoon mates..

 

Now why is this particular tank special?

There are 2 reasons why:

  1. Very few Tiger Is were produced, even fewer were captured and are in good condition.
  2. Tiger 131 is for all intents and purposes, the only fully operational Tiger I in the world.

Video Playlist by Wargaming Europe’s The_Challenger on Tiger 131, plus interview with the museum curator

 

In addition, Bovington also hosts an event called Tiger Day, where Tiger 131 and several other tanks are driven around, this video by The Mighty Jingles details 2015’s Tiger Day.

PERSONAL NOTE: Keep an eye on the Leopard 1, look at that thing move!

Myths of American Armor

Ever since Fury came out I hear a lot of stuff from people who say things such as this:

“The Americans were so afraid of the Tiger that it took 5 of their Shermans to kill 1 Tiger”

or

“The Sherman was a bad tank, Death Traps said so!”

 

Here is Wargaming America’s Nicholas Moran on the scene with the truth, much of it derived from original documentation in archives.

 

A general overview of WW2 Tank development

Although WW1 set the foundation for tank development, it was WW2 that provided rapid innovation for much of the 20th century. Here is an overview of which of the Big 4 in WW2 had going in development and use.

 

Britain

The U.K. mostly stuck to the old WW1 doctrine of having 2 distinct classes of tank: Infantry tanks and Cruiser tanks.Infantry tanks were slow, but were heavily armored and armed, designed to open up holes in the enemy line. Meanwhile, Cruiser tanks were fast but lightly armored and often times lightly armed, their job was to replace cavalry and exploit any weaknesses opened up by the Infantry tanks. Aside from a few imports from the U.S., the U.K. had no actual scout tanks, most of their light tanks were built as Cruiser tanks.

Here are several examples of British tanks used during WW2 (more tanks can be found here: http://tanks.net/british-world-war-two-tanks/index.html):

matilda_compass
Matilda II Infantry Tank

 

crusader_tanks_in_yorkshire_1942
 Crusader, these were Cruiser tanks
tanks_and_afvs_of_the_british_army_1939-45_kid1265
Churchill Mk IV

 

centaur_iv_tank_of_h_troop2c_2nd_battery2c_royal_marine_armoured_support_group2c_13_june_1944-_b5457
Cromwell, this was a Cruiser tank

Germany

There isn’t much to say about Germany, aside from the fact that they saved some of their war-time resources by reusing their old Panzer I-III hulls as assault guns, tank destroyers, and self propelled guns. German innovation was extensive and effective–especially in the gun department–but the main thing that sunk them was that their new developments were often resource inefficient to construct and operate (with exception to the assault guns), this certainly did not help when Germany was blockaded. However, whatever they did build often performed very well, (with the exception of the Panther, more on that in a future post)

(More tanks here and on Wikipedia: http://tanks.net/german-world-war-two-tanks/index.html)

Because Germany produced so many tanks, here are just a couple of examples of German engineering:

800px-stugiii
A StuG III, StuG is short for Sturmgeschutz III, with the III denoting that the vehicle was built on the Panzer III hull.
panze100
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. H or Panzer IV H, Ausf H is the variant of the Panzer IV, utilizing Schurzen skirts, a form of spaced armor that provides protection against High Explosive Rounds.

 

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A Tiger I, the boogyman of the Allies, this particular Tiger numbered 131 is the last fully operational Tiger tank in the world.

USA

The United States were a bit behind when in the tank department, but when they entered the war they produced tanks in vast numbers that could reliably hit targets while on the move, and were equipped with dual use armaments. A lot of their tanks were issued to the Allies under Lend-Lease.

Be warned that there are a lot of myths surrounding U.S. tanks, will elaborate later.

(More tanks here and on Wikipedia: http://tanks.net/american-world-war-ii-tanks/index.html)

The U.S. was particularly specialized in light and medium tanks, such as these two little beauties.

1024px-m4a1_on_panzermuseum_munster
M4A1 Sherman, equipped with the 76mm gun instead of the standard 75mm
stuart_m5a1_cfb_borden
M5A1 Stuart Light Tank

Soviet Union

Vastly underestimated by their German foes, the Soviet Union was a major player in tank warfare, their designs are crude, simple, yet effective…and could be produced in numbers rivaling U.S. Tank production. The Soviet Union’s tanks can easily be identified from which factory each individual tank came from due to small tiny variations in the tank’s construction.

(Other Soviet Tanks can be found here:http://tanks.net/soviet-union-world-war-two-tanks/index.html or on Wikipedia)

Here are 3 examples of Soviet tanks (we might talk about some of these later):

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The Legendary T-34, this particular variant is from 1943 and has a hexagonal turret instead of the original, wearing the symbol of the Polish Tank Corps
800px-d09ad092-1_d183_d0b4d0b8d0bed180d0b0d0bcd18b_c2abd09fd180d0bed180d18bd0b2_d0b1d0bbd0bed0bad0b0d0b4d18b_d09bd0b5d0bdd0b8d0bdd0b3d180
KV-1 Heavy Tank, KV stands for Kliment Voroshilov, the defense commissar and one of the original 5 marshals of the Soviet Union
800px-is-2_cubinka_1
An IS-2M Heavy Tank, the IS tank series was named after Iosef Stalin, aka Josef Stalin

 

 

 

Sources used:

http://tanks.net/tank-history/tank-development-world-war-two.html

http://ww2-germanarmy.conceptbb.com/t119-sdkfz-161-panzerkampfwagen-iv

Images used from Wikipedia