Britain orders the 16 tonner Mk III tank into Serial production - how does this change British AFV development

The 3in is useless HE thrower, but 2 pdr is adequate for the job? Any math to back up this?
Effective throw for the OQF 3 in (7.6cm)/L26 is 1,800 meters. A tad short for 8.8cm killing, but the bomb thrown was similar in effect to the French 75. Better than nothing.

This is what it's all about - once British Army embraces the combined arms concept, many things will fall in their place and Axis land forces will receive kicking.
The Russians had good doctrine and Stalin. The "world's greatest military genius" (SARCASM) can foul up the best preparations. (Ditto: "the world's second greatest military genius.") (More SARCASM.)

17 pdr have had also small HE content, just like the US 3in gun, since the shell was fired with full charge by both guns.
Monty Python; "Uncle; Thou shalt take the 9.0cm/L52 and thou shalt stuff it onto a Sherman chassis in a bodge thou shalt call the M36 and thou shalt cause the Panther and its cousins to snuff it."

Uncle: "Why?"

Monty Python: "Because the 17pdr with DSAPS is worthless beyond 500 meters and composite rigid out of the 9.0cm/L50 has DOUBLE the effective engagement range and the gun/howitzer throws an HE round that kills Mister Eighty-eight out to 4,000 meters, Stupid."

Uncle: "Oh..."
 
There was really no need to reinvent the wheel. The 3pdr Vickers and the 12pdr 12cwt fulfill at the needs of the British Army for AT and tank guns before 1943.

They should have.
The Vickers Naval 3 pdr in WWI trim fired a 3.3 pound shell at 2500fps
plugging that into a penetration calculator for standard AP gives 57mm 40mm@30 degrees, while HE shell seemed to have 60g of explosive
Hear, hear.
 
WWI pointed out that machine guns alone was not enough, needed to be able to toss a HE shell at MG nests, since some German MG nests had steel plate protection.
When the German Army conquered Belgian and French territory, they built defenses to hold it for decades. German field engineers dug thousands of deep bunkers, lined with cast concrete with steel reinforcing bars. Most of those bunkers were impervious to field artillery. They had complex over-lapping fields of fire covering barbed wire obstacles. Firing ports were frequently installed in defalade, (pointing sideways) meaning that frontal fire never directly entered gun slits.
Additional steel armour plate was only needed around gun ports. Extra steel armour was bolted onto the front end of the water-cooling jacket on many Spandau HMGs. MG crews were issued extra steel brow plates and chest plates.
 
Last edited:
Effective throw for the OQF 3 in (7.6cm)/L26 is 1,800 meters. A tad short for 8.8cm killing, but the bomb thrown was similar in effect to the French 75. Better than nothing.



The Russians had good doctrine and Stalin. The "world's greatest military genius" (SARCASM) can foul up the best preparations. (Ditto: "the world's second greatest military genius.") (More SARCASM.)



Monty Python; "Uncle; Thou shalt take the 9.0cm/L52 and thou shalt stuff it onto a Sherman chassis in a bodge thou shalt call the M36 and thou shalt cause the Panther and its cousins to snuff it."

Uncle: "Why?"

Monty Python: "Because the 17pdr with DSAPS is worthless beyond 500 meters and composite rigid out of the 9.0cm/L50 has DOUBLE the effective engagement range and the gun/howitzer throws an HE round that kills Mister Eighty-eight out to 4,000 meters, Stupid."

Uncle: "Oh..."
Meanwhile back in OTL about 50% of all British AFVs where armed with the damn thing or a similar weapon

And I have only ever seen a single US trails where there are issues with the 17 pounder APDS ammo and this was the first batch in Sept 44.

If I was a cynical man (I am a cynical man) I would note that this was being carried out at a time when there was some vocal grumbling around the armament of US tanks back stateside and Europe side

Not suggesting that politics played a part in these results.........LOL who am I trying to fool here.....yes I am totally suggesting that.

Did I mention that the British seemed to be happy with it?

The HE issue (if it was an issue given that every other tank was firing a 75mm HE round and 'Royal Artillery/Royal Air Force on tap') was eventually resolved by the staggeringly complex solution of er um halving the propellent for HE shells (filling the space with sand) and introducing a sight that catered for a slower HE shell - allowing for thinner walled HE shells to be used.

The Firefly Kitbash was a more difficult tank to fight that the 75mm armed vehicle but standard practice was to have the more experienced crews man them - so I would imagine that the less ergonomic layout was not an issue.

As for the 90mm APCR - fantastic round - just the small trifling matter of having to wait until March 1945 before it started getting issued to units

As for the Excellent M36 (IMO the best TD of the war) - it did not start replacing its M10 predecessor (or as in the first case replace towed AT guns) until Sept 1944 - with 7 TD battalions equipped by Dec 31st 1944.

First combat use was in Oct.

There are recorded instances of the AP rounds bouncing on the forward sloped armour of Panthers as close as 150 meters (same with APDS from 57mm and 17 pounders) - so even the might 90mm could sometimes be found wanting!
 
Meanwhile back in OTL about 50% of all British AFVs where armed with the damn thing or a similar weapon.
But no HE or at least not used in the way it would matter.

And I have only ever seen a single US trails where there are issues with the 17 pounder APDS ammo and this was the first batch in Sept 44.

About that...


Of course, there is far more to a proper, thorough test of a weapon system than field tests, and those tests are conducted at proving grounds. A review of such a more comprehensive series of tests may at least provide some understanding of US Army thinking on the matter, and if the US Army’s testing was valid, may allow one to consider the commonly heard refrain that Firefly Sherman was Best Sherman during the war.

A Firefly turret was made available to the United States Ordnance Department during the winter of 1943-44 and was tested at the Aberdeen Proving Ground against the 90mm Gun, M3, which at that time was emerging at the armament for Gun Motor Carriage M36, and was later to be mounted on Heavy Tank, T26E1 (the predecessor of Medium Tank, M26). As a result of these trials, the 17-pounder gun was considered by the Ordnance Department to be generally inferior to the 90mm gun.

Of course, that’s not entirely a fair test. The 90mm gun was being put into use as a tank destroyer, and in the next generation tank. But Firefly was being made to put the gun into the current generation tank. As a result, more testing would be required to find out just how good a solution it would be for Sherman compared to the route chosen by US Army Ordnance. It was also only a test by the Ordnance folks, not the end users. Shortly after the war ended Army Ground Forces instructed that such a test take place, although supply issues (not least the delivery of several hundred rounds of British ammunition) resulted in the testing in Fort Knox by Armored Force and Tank Destroyer Board not being complete and written up until August of 1946. By this stage, of course, there was no longer any question of if the Firefly should be considered as a useful variant of M4 for acquisition; these were to be tests more focused on design features and its utility as an overall system to determine future tank design philosophy.
It is the 1946 test at Fort Knox, which I find disturbing.

Issue 1.

Loading must be considered from the standpoint not only of weight and length of the round, but also loader’s working space. This space in the 17-pounder gun turret is particularly restricted, inasmuch as the loader must guide the projectile into the cutaway portion of the breech ring by movement in a horizontal plane in order for the base of the round to clear the rear of the recoil guard. In medium tank M26, the loader not being restricted by the recoil guard, is able to approach the breech with more latitude.[…] The advantage in weight and length of round of 17-pounder ammunition about equals the advantage of better working space in the 90mm gun turret, it is therefore concluded that ease of loading is substantially the same for both. In Medium Tank M4A3 with 76mm Gun M1A2, the advantage in weight and length of round, together with ample working space for the loader make ease of loading superior to the other two tanks
Issue 2. (And this is CRITICAL)

The purpose of this test was “to test the dispersion of various types of 17-pounder ammunition at ranges from 500 to 2,000 yards, and to compare the result with similar data computed from 76mm and 90mm ammunition"

This was done by setting up 6’x6’ canvas panels at 500 yard intervals, and firing ten-round groups at them.

Then they tried APCBC at 1,000 yards.

This successfully completed, they went back to the 500 yard target and fired SVDS.

Results were rated "poor", with 8 rounds on target, and two sensed as being about 36” below the panel, but for the purposes of calculation they were presumed to have the same average deflection as the 8 rounds that were on target. Overall deflection was 2.35mil, 4.34mil elevation, with means of 0.5mil and 0.92mil respectively.

Then they tried at 1,000 yards. After firing 18 rounds trying to register, (Successive rounds with the same sight picture were observed as over, left, short) they decided to abandon further testing of the round except for armour penetration.


After firing the 28 rounds SVDS, they decided to go back to APCBC. However, the SVDS rounds had left duralumin fouling in the gun tube, and so before resuming the dispersion testing at range, they fired ten rounds of HE and then ten rounds of APCBC through the tube for the obscuration tests to clean it out. Given the observed results of the grouping (see “Phase B, below), they went back and fired another ten rounds of HE and APCBC. After the 40 rounds had been fired (Phase D), it was considered that the tube had returned to normal, (albeit at apparently a new zero) and the accuracy testing continued at 1,500 yards after an adjustment on the sights on a clean zero panel.

Figures for 1,500 yards and 2,000 yards were as follows. It is interesting to note that the size of the shot group was, in real terms, about the same as that at 1,000 yards, with a substantial increase at 2,000 yards. No explanation for this is offered in the report (It just reports test reports, not theories!), but the obvious thought from my unitiated mind is an oscillating trajectory caused by an unstable round which happens to have a wavelength which 'zeros' at about 1,500 yards. Of course, this is speculation on my part.

So, the average at all ranges was calculated to be 7.38mil/7.58mil overall, and means of .189mil and .205mil. The testing complete, they then dug into the records to find the test results of 90mm and 76mm guns.

Mean dispersions for deflection and elevation were .115mil/.142mil for the 90mm and .112 and .110 for the 76mm respectively.

It was thus concluded that a “comparison of data shows that the 17pounder gun has greater dispersion than either the 90mm gun or the 76mm gun

In plain English the 17 pdr sabot round WOBBLED in flight and you couldn't hit a tank sized target beyond 500 yards reliably for a kill shot.

Test data.

It may be that the 17 pounder with Sabot was rushed into service too early.


If I was a cynical man (I am a cynical man) I would note that this was being carried out at a time when there was some vocal grumbling around the armament of US tanks back stateside and Europe side
After US Army artillery fusing issues in France 1944 and the torpedo scandal... nobody was going to jail over failure TO TEST.

Not suggesting that politics played a part in these results.........LOL who am I trying to fool here.....yes I am totally suggesting that.
Read previous comment. People went to jail over the US Army artillery ammunition crisis.

Did I mention that the British seemed to be happy with it?
Maybe they were... under 500 yards.

The HE issue (if it was an issue given that every other tank was firing a 75mm HE round and 'Royal Artillery/Royal Air Force on tap') was eventually resolved by the staggeringly complex solution of er um halving the propellent for HE shells (filling the space with sand) and introducing a sight that catered for a slower HE shell - allowing for thinner walled HE shells to be used.
That issue was solved by the Lend Lease Sherman tank with its dual purpose gun.

The Firefly Kitbash was a more difficult tank to fight that the 75mm armed vehicle but standard practice was to have the more experienced crews man them - so I would imagine that the less ergonomic layout was not an issue.
The Americans tested for it. It was "unacceptable". US Army understatement for ergonomic disaster.
As for the 90mm APCR - fantastic round - just the small trifling matter of having to wait until March 1945 before it started getting issued to units.
It was issued with the tank destroyer units equipped with the Jackson.

As for the Excellent M36 (IMO the best TD of the war) - it did not start replacing its M10 predecessor (or as in the first case replace towed AT guns) until Sept 1944 - with 7 TD battalions equipped by Dec 31st 1944.
See?

First combat use was in Oct.
I blame McNair.

There are recorded instances of the AP rounds bouncing on the forward sloped armour of Panthers as close as 150 meters (same with APDS from 57mm and 17 pounders) - so even the might 90mm could sometimes be found wanting!
If the Panther crew was smart, they angled. In naval terms, the South Dakota angled her plate and bounced a Japanese 14 inch naval shell at 5,000 meters. Tankers would be stupid if they did not "jink" for the same effect.
 
But no HE or at least not used in the way it would matter.


About that...



It is the 1946 test at Fort Knox, which I find disturbing.

Issue 1.



Issue 2. (And this is CRITICAL)



It may be that the 17 pounder with Sabot was rushed into service too early.




After US Army artillery fusing issues in France 1944 and the torpedo scandal... nobody was going to jail over failure TO TEST.



Read previous comment. People went to jail over the US Army artillery ammunition crisis.



Maybe they were... under 500 yards.



That issue was solved by the Lend Lease Sherman tank with its dual purpose gun.



The Americans tested for it. It was "unacceptable". US Army understatement for ergonomic disaster.

It was issued with the tank destroyer units equipped with the Jackson.



See?



I blame McNair.



If the Panther crew was smart, they angled. In naval terms, the South Dakota angled her plate and bounced a Japanese 14 inch naval shell at 5,000 meters. Tankers would be stupid if they did not "jink" for the same effect.
The HE filler for the 2 guns?

For the 17 pounder: Mk 1: 1.28 lbs, Mk 2: 1.06 lbs

For the 75mm: M48: 1.47 lbs, Mk 1: 1.64 lbs

Thank gawd the tommys are only shooting 17 pounder HE and not 75mm HE at us.....said nobody ever

Okay so average tank combat range in ETO?

About 500m if I am not mistaken!

Also their were complaints from the ordinance people that British tank crews were using the Sabot rounds 'far too often' and in their opinion against targets that a standard APC round would be suitable for. So obviously RA ATG crews and 17 Lbr armed tank crews liked or preferred using the round.

Or it may simply be the old case of having told Tommy Atkins not to do something.....

I think had the T26 and M36 Jackson been available in numbers for the battle of Normandy then they would have been great!

But for various reasons they were not - only the first 20 Pershing's that were sent in Jan 1945 saw action

But then I would have Centurion over both

The Firefly might not have been as good as the Pershing (duh!) but it was 100% better than the Pershing in 1944 - because it was available and it worked - the Pershing was not even in production and there was still bun fights about the availability of the 90mm AAA gun production being 'stolen' by grubby tank designers

The 90mm Sabot round and improved APC was certainly issued to M36 crews - but not until it was made available in March 1945

Nicholas Moran does a video on why the 76mm and Pershing isn't all that and why McNair wasn't necessarily wrong in his decision making

I think it's this vid "Truth by common knowledge" hah!

 
The evolution of British tank guns, as I understand it, is that the 3 pounder was becoming obsolete for hole punching and too small for worthwhile HE. The infantry were needing an effective AT gun they could move and the 2 Pounder they got could punch holes on tanks very nicely so the tankies had to use that in any new toy to save money and not dream of any other new playthings. By 1938 the purse strings had opened so a 57mm gun went into design to fill the hole with good hole punching and an HE capacity. The Germans were only thinking of a 50mm tank gun some time in the future, the French were happy with their 47mm and the Russians too, for the moment. By mid 1940 6 Pounder 57mm guns were due to be starting production and 1941 tanks were to use them but real life (BoF/Sea Lion) intervened. As soon as the 6 Pounder left the drawing tables the search for a successor began and the 17 Pounder came to be for the infantry. Too big and too long a recoil for tanks so Vickers made the HV 75mm for tanks but the lack of a single tank coordinating board resulted in Vickers making it (sensibly) for an external mantlet and the turret designers made new tank turrets for (stupidly) internal mantlets so there was nowhere to put it until they started talking together and the Comet came to be in 1945 by which time tanks were being prototyped with 17 Pounder turrets anyway.

Had there been a single British Tank Authority who could coordinate and direct decisions from WW1 onwards then the stutters in the above would have been avoided and the early WW2 British tank could have the 6 Pounder from the beginning and a 75mm HV gun in the 1943 successor for the rest of the war.

The other hiccup institutionally was the lack of large lorry engines due to British tax regimes. Meadows and Bedford later both made purpose built Flat 12 tank engines optimised for tank use concentrating on torque maintenance over the rev range rather than horsepower. The other alternative OTL was the Merlin aero engine based Meteor but that could not happen until OTL dates given the aero engine demand.

Personally I would like to know why Britain went for the Christie suspension when they had perfectly god Horstman designs in wide use already?
 
The HE filler for the 2 guns?

For the 17 pounder: Mk 1: 1.28 lbs, Mk 2: 1.06 lbs

For the 75mm: M48: 1.47 lbs, Mk 1: 1.64 lbs
British learned... slowly.

Thank gawd the tommys are only shooting 17 pounder HE and not 75mm HE at us.....said nobody ever
Shattergap.

Okay so average tank combat range in ETO?

About 500m if I am not mistaken!
Tank on tank, was dependent on terrain. Now that does work out in the averages as ~500 meters (France 1944), but... there are enough Panther kills by direct gunfire at 1000 meters (by Shermans no less and in Italy!) that it is nice to have a Sherman 75 that actually can do that bushwhack from the side into the hull or up the kazoo. The Wallies wanted a better can opener by August 1944 for the surprise nose to nose meeting engagements they were getting into as the pursuit phase petered out and they got several solutions. Sherman Firefly (in a few hundreds), Sherman 76, in a couple of thousands, the hitherto despised tank destroyers, a couple of thousands and I still blame McNair.

Also their were complaints from the ordinance people that British tank crews were using the Sabot rounds 'far too often' and in their opinion against targets that a standard APC round would be suitable for. So obviously RA ATG crews and 17 Lbr armed tank crews liked or preferred using the round....
… in those nose to nose meeting engagements and they had a lot of first shot misses. So second shot hits means to me a lot more of sabot rounds spent than expected.

Or it may simply be the old case of having told Tommy Atkins not to do something.....
See previous comment.

I think had the T26 and M36 Jackson been available in numbers for the battle of Normandy then they would have been great!
The clown at Tank Destroyer Command is generally the one blamed for no Jacksons, but McNair was right about the T26/M26, or actually Army Ground Forces who trialed the thing and rejected it as "Unacceptable" (See Sherman Firefly stand-in above.) and for much the same reasons. McNair did chop off when Marshall said; "It shall be so." on the 250 unit initial run and when Tank/Automotive (sort of) fixed the 120 or so complaints on the beast. It still wasn't right by the Korean War and I don't think it ever would have been right. .
But for various reasons they were not - only the first 20 Pershing's that were sent in Jan 1945 saw action.
It takes time to fix 120 mistakes.

But then I would have Centurion over both
The American army chose the Sherman 76 over both. (Korea.)

The Firefly might not have been as good as the Pershing (duh!) but it was 100% better than the Pershing in 1944 - because it was available and it worked - the Pershing was not even in production and there was still bun fights about the availability of the 90mm AAA gun production being 'stolen' by grubby tank designers.
About the 9.0cm/L52... and the Jackson. That was solved after McNair had his accident. I don't know why after the USAAF got him, the bonehead at Tank Destroyers became enthusiastic about the Jackson when he previously wanted Hellcats, but it happened. Coincidence? I don't see the connection.
The 90mm Sabot round and improved APC was certainly issued to M36 crews - but not until it was made available in March 1945
Composite rigid shot. AFAIK, sabot was a late 1950s add-on to American army yuk yuks. Had to wait for an imported British tank gun in 10.5cm.
Nicholas Moran does a video on why the 76mm and Pershing isn't all that and why McNair wasn't necessarily wrong in his decision making.
Yup. It is what I've been writing (^^^).

I think it's this vid "Truth by common knowledge" hah!
Internet. Also why I quoted the test results of the firing trials as Moran gave them. (^^^) cause you know... if it ain't DOCUMENTED and verifiable, it is garbage history.

See previous comments.
 
Last edited:
The evolution of British tank guns, as I understand it, is that the 3 pounder was becoming obsolete for hole punching and too small for worthwhile HE. The infantry were needing an effective AT gun they could move and the 2 Pounder they got could punch holes on tanks very nicely so the tankies had to use that in any new toy to save money and not dream of any other new playthings.
Two/three thing come to mind immediately. What are the 'new playthings'? Certainly not the existing guns that are actually in warehouses. The 2pdr was movable, but was also 150% heavier than for example the 47mm Bohler, that was every bit as good (or bad) hole puncher as the 2pdr, and was could fire a bigger HE shell. The 47mm from interwar tanks will be punching holes in German tanks of 1939-40 every bit as good the 2prd, and 3pdr Vickers will do even better.
As for criticysing the 3pdr for having too small a HE, and then go with 2pdr instead??

By 1938 the purse strings had opened so a 57mm gun went into design to fill the hole with good hole punching and an HE capacity. The Germans were only thinking of a 50mm tank gun some time in the future, the French were happy with their 47mm and the Russians too, for the moment. By mid 1940 6 Pounder 57mm guns were due to be starting production and 1941 tanks were to use them but real life (BoF/Sea Lion) intervened. As soon as the 6 Pounder left the drawing tables the search for a successor began and the 17 Pounder came to be for the infantry. Too big and too long a recoil for tanks so Vickers made the HV 75mm for tanks but the lack of a single tank coordinating board resulted in Vickers making it (sensibly) for an external mantlet and the turret designers made new tank turrets for (stupidly) internal mantlets so there was nowhere to put it until they started talking together and the Comet came to be in 1945 by which time tanks were being prototyped with 17 Pounder turrets anyway.
17 pdr was not too big and certainly not too powerful for tanks, it was indeed a thing where British tank designers and brass botched the whole turret/gun equation. Design a turret, and then discover the gun won't fit??
Purpose of a tank is to carry a worthwhile cannon, and British made mistakes when going down from 6pdr of ww1 down to 3pdr in interwar period, and again down to 2pdr.

Had there been a single British Tank Authority who could coordinate and direct decisions from WW1 onwards then the stutters in the above would have been avoided and the early WW2 British tank could have the 6 Pounder from the beginning and a 75mm HV gun in the 1943 successor for the rest of the war.
The other hiccup institutionally was the lack of large lorry engines due to British tax regimes. Meadows and Bedford later both made purpose built Flat 12 tank engines optimised for tank use concentrating on torque maintenance over the rev range rather than horsepower. The other alternative OTL was the Merlin aero engine based Meteor but that could not happen until OTL dates given the aero engine demand.
Personally I would like to know why Britain went for the Christie suspension when they had perfectly god Horstman designs in wide use already?
There was the RR Kestrel around, tooling and all, before 1939. Not needed for ww2 use, trainers can use Mercury.
 
But if they realized the implications of it after the war they wouldn't have kept so much defensive-oriented warfare in their army after the war. They demonstrated that even the strongest defenses or fortresses were ineffective against those tactics, that there was no effective defense against them, and therefore that defensive tactics in general were obsolete. There was no point in preparing defenses that would have failed so the only thing to use in all modern high-intensity scenarios are offensive tactics.

Had they recognized this the British Army wouldn't have bothered to continue to train troops to dig trenches or create other defensive positions, or make inherently defensive weapons like anti-tank guns or infantry-heavy formations. They could have freed up all that extra money and effort for the offensive parts of the army like tanks and mechanized forces (and even then they wouldn't need to bother with defensive tactics). As a side effect, this would create the conditions to buy better tanks like the A6 or whatever was chosen.

They could have similarly realized the importance of air support and air superiority which is even more effective (and makes land forces almost entirely irrelevant), but that's a different subject.
You really don't understand what the role of the British Army was in peacetime. It was the Imperial enforcement group. It was the means by which the Government in London enforced it's will on the remote places of the Empire. Without it, there was basically no Empire. Trenches and revetments were necessary as a means of showing the imperial will (and a place for the Army to sleep). Without them, the locals would not know the Imperial Army was present and lording it over them. What you are seeking is an army designed purely for the offensive and the Empire would never exist with such an army, not able to defend it against the locals marauding across the countryside.

It was why the magazine fed Bren gun was introduced. It was lighter, more easily carried and cheaper to operate for small detachments at the end of a long supply line on the North-West Frontier. It could keep a cavalry unit of the locals at a long distance and could hurt them when they approached too close.

Artillery was present but in only small numbrs. It wasn't until the campaign of 1919 that we see the lessons learnt on the Western Front applied to Imperial policing and the Afghans paid a heavy price as a consequence.

Armies were not for fighting peer opponents (for the most part) but for fighting the locals.

Aircraft could not replace ground troops, ever, anywhere. The Army had a fine tradition of fighting the locals until the locals saw good sense and decided that is was easier to be in the empire than to be outside it. That was why WWI took so long. When the British Army encountered a peer or near-peer opponent for the first time in 100+ years, they had to learn a different, more mechanical way of fighting. Haigh was intrumental in recognising that and implementing new methods and techniques of fighting. He instituted training schools behind the front line where all soldiers regularly attended to learn how to fight the Huns who were hiding in their own Trenches. Artillery was part of this as well. Without new thinking, new techniques it would have continued to fire shrapnel and trying to cut the enemy's wire defences. Instead they changed to HE and blew it apart.
 
The suppression of dug in enemy was treated as a science by the RA in WW1 and beyond

As for Churchills driving through a stonk - that might work for Churchills in 1945 (which to a 1939 tank design might have well have been drop forged from a single chunk of armor plate using a dead sun) - but it is not going to help the infantry, engineers and SPAs that are accompanying them.
The plan was that they would be Kangaroos protected by their own armour.

Plenty of DAK and Italian armored attacks in north Africa were broken up by a timely dose of 25 pounder - often leaving a number of tanks disabled.
Yes but those tanks were more lightly armoured than Churchill Mk.VIIs. If they had Mk.VIIs it would have been a very different story.
Then there is the morale effect
There is always a morale effect. Something that is ignored all too often IMO. There is also a moral effect as well, which ignored even more. However both are really beyond this discussion, don't you think?

As for 105 replacing the 25 pounder - I think this was more a case of standardization across the NATO partners than anything else
The choice in the early 1950s was either neutralisation o destruction from artillery. The British preferred neutralisation. The Americans destruction. As NATO was heavily dependent on the Americans, destruction won. 105mm was the standard that was agreed upon. Then it was decided that 105mm was too light and 155mm came in as the standard for field artillery. Today, 155mm is the in calibre. QED.
 
The Light Tanks Mk I-VI were the "colonial" tanks. Enough armor to stop a musket and machine guns to fight rebels. This discussion is on the Medium Mk III, a tank for Continental warfare. The British Treasury with poor decision making in the Army's leadership forced the light tanks onto the Regular Army as the numerically primary tank. The light tanks were supposed to be reconnaissance vehicles, thus cavalry, not armor.

The BREN LMG was to replace the Lewis gun. The Indian Army used the Vickers-Berthier LMG.
 
The evolution of British tank guns, as I understand it, is that the 3 pounder was becoming obsolete for hole punching and too small for worthwhile HE. The infantry were needing an effective AT gun they could move and the 2 Pounder they got could punch holes on tanks very nicely so the tankies had to use that in any new toy to save money and not dream of any other new playthings. By 1938 the purse strings had opened so a 57mm gun went into design to fill the hole with good hole punching and an HE capacity. The Germans were only thinking of a 50mm tank gun some time in the future, the French were happy with their 47mm and the Russians too, for the moment. By mid 1940 6 Pounder 57mm guns were due to be starting production and 1941 tanks were to use them but real life (BoF/Sea Lion) intervened. As soon as the 6 Pounder left the drawing tables the search for a successor began and the 17 Pounder came to be for the infantry. Too big and too long a recoil for tanks so Vickers made the HV 75mm for tanks but the lack of a single tank coordinating board resulted in Vickers making it (sensibly) for an external mantlet and the turret designers made new tank turrets for (stupidly) internal mantlets so there was nowhere to put it until they started talking together and the Comet came to be in 1945 by which time tanks were being prototyped with 17 Pounder turrets anyway.

Had there been a single British Tank Authority who could coordinate and direct decisions from WW1 onwards then the stutters in the above would have been avoided and the early WW2 British tank could have the 6 Pounder from the beginning and a 75mm HV gun in the 1943 successor for the rest of the war.

The other hiccup institutionally was the lack of large lorry engines due to British tax regimes. Meadows and Bedford later both made purpose built Flat 12 tank engines optimised for tank use concentrating on torque maintenance over the rev range rather than horsepower. The other alternative OTL was the Merlin aero engine based Meteor but that could not happen until OTL dates given the aero engine demand.

Personally I would like to know why Britain went for the Christie suspension when they had perfectly god Horstman designs in wide use already?
A lot of what you says makes sense. The reason why the British went for Christie suspension was because it offered slightly better cross country performance over the early Horstman designs. As it was intended for the Cavalry and their cruiser tanks, rather than the Infantry tank, that makes sense.

The problem with engine design is that no one paid that much attention to it early in the war. They had adequate designs (on paper) and so decided to use what was available rather than gearing up for new engines. The Liberty engine appeared also cheap to build so that got a look in, in the Crusader but hey, thats understandable after the disaster of the Covenantor.

There was a single tank authority in the UK but it had only a capability to advise rather than design vehicles until 1944. The first vehicle they designed was the Centurion. If they had design authority in 1940, you can imagine that the Convenator would have been rather different as would the Crusader. Interestingly, the Crusader turned out, after it was no longer used as tank, an excellent gun tower for the 17pdr. They had largely cured all it's maintenance problems and using it in Europe rather than Africa seemed to fix it.

The Vickers gun is an odd beast. Originally designed for 75mm then changed to 76.2mm and finally designated (without an actual calbre change) to 77mm, it was in a bit of a limbo until they decided to use it in the Comet. There it performed well.
 
You really don't understand what the role of the British Army was in peacetime. It was the Imperial enforcement group.
That was carried out by the local colonial forces (ever since the Cardwell reforms), but the regular army was intended to fight a high-intensity conflict against near-peer forces. In those cases any form of defense is useless so the only thing the regular army- or any modern army (that's focused on that kind of war) has to learn or use are offensive tactics.
 
That was carried out by the local colonial forces (ever since the Cardwell reforms), but the regular army was intended to fight a high-intensity conflict against near-peer forces. In those cases any form of defense is useless so the only thing the regular army- or any modern army (that's focused on that kind of war) has to learn or use are offensive tactics.
That was the theory. It was not the practice in real life.
 
The first tank was 30 tons and had 2 6pdrs. I don’t see why we can’t start looking at this as a benchmark. The Mk III Medium with 8 cyl 180hp engine and had twice the speed of the A10 Cruiser (6cyl 150hp). You could probably trade speed for more armour. Percy Hobart, then Inspector of the Royal Tank Corps wanted a 5 man turret. The A9 had a mock-up for 3, 4 and 5 men. Go for the 4 man turret. Go straight for the 6pdr, from the navy in necessary.

The problems are really that the British electorate was against anything that smelled like a ‘commitment to fighting on the continent’. This is why when rearmament started belatedly, it was funded by borrowing not taxes. The politicians told the Army for 20 years 'you will not be sent to the Continent to fight, plan accordingly'. It wasn't until March 1939 that they were told: 'be prepared to be sent to the Continent to fight, plan accordingly'. If we make the Rhineland reoccupation of March 1936 the equivalent of the Occupation of Rump Czechoslovakia in March 1939 parallel Munich Agreement with Hitler violating Versailles and Locarno Treaties we give ourselves 3 extra years.

The appeal of small tanks was that they fit the rail loading gauge and stood a better chance of using bridges. Perhaps with Europe in mind then Hobart could select a 30 ton universal tank as the Mk III successor rather than Infantry/Cruiser and Light tanks.
 
Logistics should not be sneezed at. Rail gauges are important determinants of how big a tank can be and where it can be transported to. Rail gauge is about the tightness of curves and the size of tunnels that exist in the rail network. It is how trains pass one another on dual tracks. You can only exceed those in dire need. That determined how big a tank can be. Simples really.
 
Logistics should not be sneezed at. Rail gauges are important determinants of how big a tank can be and where it can be transported to. Rail gauge is about the tightness of curves and the size of tunnels that exist in the rail network. It is how trains pass one another on dual tracks. You can only exceed those in dire need. That determined how big a tank can be. Simples really.
European Gauge was generally bigger that the UK gauge or at least not subject to the smaller limits of the British gauge - so given that AFVs are unlikely to be reliant on moving around the UK on the smallest of UK main line gauges and tunnel limits etc why not place the limits to those of the French and Belgium Gauges where those tanks are likely to be fighting!

The other issue was the restrictive laws limiting truck sizes in the UK during the 30's - limiting truck development and by extension the development of tank transporters.

The British did make a decent tank transporter based on the Scammell Pioneer in the early 30s but then did nothing further - this transporter would go on to form the back bone of the early war tank transport fleet and there was never enough of them.

Having a continued development of the Vickers 16 tonner would by extension have to include development and investment in tank transporters which would also go someway to alleviating the limitations in the UK train network

Mind you that being said Churchill tanks would fit in UK rail lines limitations (most of them) and that is a fairly large tank!
 
Top