Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tank History

We have, this week, been regaled with various sessions of "Tank Week" wherein a programme sponsored by the Imp War Museum and others have been showing two hour sessions of Tanks and their History followed by sessions of Movies pertaining to same.As always we had "Patton" winning the war all by himself, plus the Desmond Young's version of the Desert Fox with James Mason portraying "Rommel"
I unfortunately missed the Monday showing but by Tuesday they showed a small outfit on the Isle of Wight stripping, sandblasting and rebuilding the Comet. This is the Tank which finally arrived in time for the Battle of the Bulge but no one had been trained on it so the had to revert to the ubiquitous Sherman - or "Ronson" or "Tommy Cooker" - depending on one's nationality.
Wednesday showed the same Isle of Wight outfit cannibalising three Sherman 4A's in order to rebuild one !
Thursday's sessions were on the saga of the Russian efforts to move the complete manufacturing facility - by plane - including a steel works to build the famous T34- which were very shortly producing 40 per day rising to 2000 per month, with a total of 50,000 for the remainder of the war which was more than the Americans produced Shermans in a lesser time frame.This culminated in the Batle of Kursk.
Friday's sessions were devoted to the French best Tank of the war unfortunately they were few in number and were hidebound by the same disease which affected the British desert army - Cavalry tactics of the first war !
We also had a fleeting glimpse of the Churchill complete with Bedford 350HP (!) engine with the comment that they had aquitted themselves well with a troop at El Alamein and thus the 21st TANK BRIGADE landed in North Africa to join the fight - with NO mention of 25TB !
The Japanese never really developed a Tank but merely a M/c gun carrier and thus the Sherman came into it's own.
Hopefully we shall see the developement of the German Panther and Tiger this evening from their version of the Kreigswagen PZ 1

13 Comments:

Blogger Tomcann said...

That seemed to go over like the proverbial lead balloon so I shall finsh the week off !
The saturday session I missed having switched on the Tv as the credits were rolling but I then sat through about 15 minutes of the perennial Hollywood Howler of the "Battle of the Bulge" with those stalwart squaddies of Henry Fonda - Robert Ryan - Telly Savalas et al, I then retired to bed.
Sunday was all about the "Barbarossa" Invasion of Russia and the German shock at the entrance on the battlefield of the T34 with the very interesting comment tht their T26 - the previous Russian model had been designed by a joint British-Russian team whereas the T34 was partly designed by the German- Russian team and thus the Germans were quicker off the mark with their copy of the T34 as the "Panther' and finaly the "Tiger" - the Keonigstigre was found to be too heavy forhe roads and bridges.This was follwed by the depressing Russian saga of the "Enemy at the Gates" an account of atrue Russian Sniper in action !
This was followed later by the equal Hollywood Howler of "Anzio" with the Commanders of both British 46th and 56th Divisions expressing their doubts about digging in and not commanding the heights of the Alban Hills which made more sense, but this was Gen. Clay's downfall and he was replaced - again on Alexander's advice to Clark by Gen.Lucian Trscott however the damage was done in the initial three days of the landing.
All in all a most interesting series of programmes.

Monday, 16 October, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

I think you are wrong, Tom, to say in your first Post "As always we had "Patton" winning the war all by himself", if you look properly at the American record you will see that John Wayne also played a huge part. Be fair. :)

Tuesday, 17 October, 2006  
Blogger Frank Mee said...

The T34 turned out to be good because they made it simple.
A diesel engine they used in heavy vehicles tried and trusted.
They fitted a hand turned turret which though not as fast was fool proof, no electrics to foul up. The wide track ideal for the Russian mud and snow with a good suspension and bogey's.
The sloping front armour was an inovation too, all in all a tank before its time which went on in various modes until the late 60's.
We had more trouble with duff engines (multi fuel that only ran on petrol), the gun stabalisers that went AWOL, and turret motors that burned out.
The Germans picked up a lot of ideas from those Russion T models and fitted detuned truck engines to their Leopards (I am talking my time not wartime), they would leave us standing across country.
The wartime German tanks suffered from being too well engineered in the first place and then faulty parts fitted in production. gearboxes were a weak point drives another.
A tank is a mobile gun platform, keeping it simple to run and maintain must surely be an essential but the boffins get their noses in and common sense goes out the window, hence the multi fuel engines that you could do nothing with without pulling it out of the tank.

Tuesday, 17 October, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

The Japanese never really developed a Tank but merely a M/c gun carrier

---------------------

The Japanese saw little scope for tanks in the Pacific theatre envisaging mainly jungle and small atoll island campaigns. To this end they did develop the Type 2 Amphibious Tank which was introduced in 1942. Two buoyancy chambers could be released on land, in water propulsion was by twin propellers and steering was by two rudders. It was largely used for marine amphibious landings.

They had began experimenting with this in the late 1920s, following their experience in Manchuria where roads and bridges were few.

In China and the Philippines they also used the Type 89-Otsu Medium Tank introduced in 1934. Although it remained in active service until 1945, it was succeeded by the Type 97 Medium Tank which entered service in 1938. First known as the Mitsubishi Chi-Ha it was the best Japanese medium tank design of the war. It was unusual in having vertical trunnions, in addition to the usual horizontal trunnions, which allowed the 57mm gun to be traversed 5° in either direction independently of the movement of the turret, this allowed very precise aiming without having to move the mass of the turret through small angles.

But without doubt the Japanese excelled in light tanks. Christopher Chant, the eminent tank historian observes Greater attention was devoted to the light tank by the Japanese than by most Western nations. From the Western point of view this Japanese interest may seem backward, but the nature of Far Eastern operations in fact fully validated the Japanese army's primary premise .... The Japanese well understood what horses for courses meant. The Light Tank 95 Ha-Go was without doubt the best tank deployed and produced in quantity in WW2 by the Japanese. It was as good as any light tank in the world.

As to being merely a M/c gun carrier , the Light Tank 95 Ha-Go was armed with one 37-mm gun with 19 rounds and two 7.7-mm (0.303") Type 97 machine-guns with 2,940 rounds.

Tuesday, 17 October, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Peter - I had forgotten John Wayne - but others such as Henry Fonda - Robert Ryan - Robert Mitchum played great parts in the overall victory - on celluloid anyway.... again I was quoting the "epert" on the Japanese Tanks or lack of - he might have been referring to heavy and more medium affairs.
With horses for courses - I can't see how their 37mm pop gun could damage the Sherman - we tried it for long enough in the desert - and while the 21st TB was lauded for landing in Africa with fully equipped Churchills with 6 pndrs
the 6 pndrs arrived days later and were fitted at Maison Carree
and the 25th lost many of their tanks which were fitted with the 6 pndr and so had to go into battle with the 37mm or 2 pndr if you prefer !
It should also be remembered that 4th Troop of B squadron 48th RTR knocked out a Tiger near Medjez and which has now been restored and shown at Bovington - with their 6 pndr. Just a lucky shot to the turret ring I guess !

Tuesday, 17 October, 2006  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

There is an Antiquarian and Local Bookseller near where I live and they have special offers on at present about WW2, Tank history etc so I might have a look in next weekend. The shopkeeper has good advice if you want something in particular. I recently got a book about Monte Cassino from there (half price for a new book as well) so I could read up about what all these 'D-Day Dodgers' were doing!

Many of the 'old soldiers' I've interviewed about WW2 are less than impressed with many of the films and books about WW2. I can also remember watching the film 'Sergeant York' with Gary Cooper and saying to my Great Uncle Michael I'd seen it and he said it was rubbish! Uncle Michael had been in the 2nd Battalion Border Regiment from 1914 to January 1919. He seemed to think that his lot had played a part in winning WW1, whereas Gary Cooper (as Sergeant York) had won the war single-handed(?). John Wayne, George C. Scott and Robert Mitchum only won the Second World War, did they not Peter?

Regarding tanks, I've taken some photographs of various tanks in the past. I'll have to dig these out and see what they are. It is intersting to read the comments of tank experts. Thanks

Wednesday, 18 October, 2006  
Anonymous Lauren Mulligan said...

Hello Tom
This has nothing to do with the above blog but i didn't know how else to contact you.
I have been conducting some family research concerning my Grandad's brother who died in Normandy. I noticed a dedication on the Scots roll of Honour by Tom Canning, his cousin. I am aware that my Grandad's cousin was called Tom Canning and moved to Canada from Scotland in the 1950's. My Grandad's name was Lawrence Alexander Black McCann and his brother was called Charles (they also had 2 other brothers called Andrew and Frank and one sister - Isa)i was just wondering if you were the same Tom Canning or if it was a coincidence that you have the same name and moved from Scotland to Canada in the 1950's? If not i apologise!
Thanks

Friday, 27 October, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Lauren -
Apologies are un necessary - tis I - guilty as charged - with one ammendment - I left Scotland for Coventry then Birmingham in 1940 - did my five years in the Army- then back to Birmingham where I married Veronica and THEN emigrated to Canada in 1957 - returning to the U.K. in 1971 to have the children educated.
So you are one of Larry's grandchildren - well well - small world - Isa just died last year I think it was and all her family are around the outer fringes of Birmingham and Stafforshire - My sister Cathie sometimes visits them as she did Isa as they were good friends.
Last year I sent them the full report on how Charlie had died in the Caen area but I don't know if they followed up by visiting his grave.
Get in touch with me at TomcannAT shaw.ca - just change the AT to the ampersand... good to hear from you - Larry was living in the Lincoln area when he died I believe ??? I was just commenting on Andrew's exploit down the Aryshire pit when he did a shift in pulling the coal wagons to save his donkey who had done two shifts,
and another one might have killed the poor beast.The McCann's were quite the family !How much research are you doing as I have the whole family back to 1732 if it of any use to you.
Cheers
keep in touch
Tom Canning

Friday, 27 October, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

So the blog's proved useful afterall :)

Friday, 27 October, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Peter - this blog is most certainly useful as I am astonished that I should be in touch with a person whom I knew existed but, as my cousin died some years ago leaving a family and in the natural course of life - they also begat their own families.
Once I had 36 cousins now sadly we are down to four or five with the death last year of the sister of Laurens grandfather, she was the last of that family, another in Edinburgh, Canon Lawrence Glancey, and one in New Zealand, Bill O'Rorke.The name Lawrence figured strongly in the far flung family stemming from the Great Great Grandfather - Lawrence Alexander Glancey of Cowdenbeath who - at one time helped build the Forth Railway Bridge - way back !

Friday, 27 October, 2006  
Anonymous Lauren Mulligan said...

Hi Tom again, I'm sorry to be a pain but i just wondered if you had recieved my e-mail or of i had sent it to the wrong address (most likely as me and technology don't go together well!)
I hope that you are well.

Lauren

Tuesday, 07 November, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Lauren again -


my fault entirely as I used my name for the blog as Tomcann in my address instead of Tomcan - with only ONE "N"

Tuesday, 07 November, 2006  
Blogger Tomcann said...

Lauren - as I was saying - my fault entirely as I used my signature instead of my E-Mail address so with only one "N" - here is the correct address - TomcanATshaw.ca - just replace the AT with the ampersand !

Thursday, 09 November, 2006  

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