Radical Thinking:Britain's Universal tanks and Troop Carriers in 1940s

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by SCOUT 5249, Jun 8, 2019.

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  1. SCOUT 5249 Well-Known Member

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    This my first combined open collaborative thread so If I sound bad I do apologise.

    Special thanks go to
    @ swamp tiger
    @Cryhavoc101
    @Lord Wyclif
    @Derwit
    @Some Bloke
    @marathag
    @steamboy
    @Dorknought (Über A10 picture)

    With that let's go forwards

    1926 The experimental mechanized force is created to test new and radical techniques and equipment required for armoured warfare using General George Milne plan for a combine arms force and approach in battle, the project was to also to see what would it would take to stop tanks. The first exercise Eastland vs. Westland saw that the whole force was vulnerable to dug in artillery, anti tank guns and air attacks, the lack of proper communication meant inability to have fire support before attacks which lead to one of the west land surrounded and attack by east land forces.

    There was one a two year wait period for more armored vehicles to be made in the that time the birch gun was all impressed into royal artillery who were very much intrigued by self propelled guns which meant that guns would be bogged down and the loyd carrier was as the EMF was renamed the armored force and brigade was expanded in 1928–1933. The brigade was pitted against the both mechanized and none mechanized forces using strategies and tactics designed for quasi-independent attacks on an enemy's organisation behind the front line by exploiting an opponent's weakness rather than full frontal attack. Needless to say the exercises also generated a lot protests as none mechanized opposing teams lost. The Battle of Beresford Bridge was the toughest simulated battle, the exercise began at 2:00 AM this left limited time, the force split up into battlions one was to do a diversion using the infantry seizing the canal crossing for the tanks, the other was to do a head on attack. The plan succeeded to an extent on the hand the diversion was forced retire due to the air attacks the other while taking it's objective was potentially cut off. Liddell Hart criticised the exercises as being biased, which was found to be true.

    The exercises showed that infantry was needed to gain control of areas, trucks were hopeless in following tanks on rough ground and vulnerable, engineers were needed to clear obstacles. This scale of operations also gave round a radical approach and idea until 1934 a single type that could do both a medium and heavy tank. The changing economy slowed the armed forces development to a degree.

    In 1934 idea of a Jack of all trades tank came around, the idea was to cut down on the light, heavy or in this case upcoming cruiser and infantry tank class into one 'universal' tank. Britain's economy was not at its best and wary of military spending it took a lot of lobbying and persuasion to get it. The A7-8 gave way to the A9 cruiser tank, the A10 developed by Sir John Carden was chosen for this, by sheer luck John Carden missed his flight in 1935 which crashed allowing him further the A10, there were numerous changes made to it, one was the change in suspension system that went from modified three-wheel
    Horstmann suspension "Slow Motion" type to regular strengthened version seen in on universal carriers, there were two problems and big resistance point, the engine and the gun, the A10 was a more armored A9 without its spare machine guns turrets and the engine was the same which meant it was slow on the battlefield. Kestrel was commissioned to create a more powerful and reliable engine, the second was the cannon there were plans to change the 3 pounder seen in the MK 1 medium to the 2 pounder it had excellent armour piercing capabilities but had a '----- poor' H.E shell which led to biggest resistances point the royal artillery who were very stubborn and proud were not keen on having the tank Corp firing H.E shells even with the birch gun III, thus a compromise was made ease the bruised egos after the massive arguments in the of the royal artillery getting their own specialised vehicles much to the horror of Britain's accountants...

    The QF 6-pounder 10 cwt gun was chosen for the new A11 heavy cruiser MK I which arrived into service in late 1937, the royal artillery Corp got the AT-1 assault gun.

    The second most bizarre and radical proposal was the A14 troop carrier in mid 1938, it consisted of the Vickers MK VI light tank stretched, with a fully enclosed compartment to carry troops in the rear. There were more suspicions and teeth grinding horror from the treasury at this new project even with slightly higher costs for the A14 as such small amounts were produced in early 1939 much to the disdain from planners and commanders interested in mechanized infantry.

    But right there and then Britain's army was the most advanced military in the world and there would a chance to test them was right around the corner.
     
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  2. TonyA Curmudgeon like, but nastier

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    So far, so good, but, wouldn't those sneaky Nazi bastards be watching this pretty closely? And, maybe, learning something?
     
  3. Derwit Well-Known Member

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    I look forward to where this leads!

    If I was doing a Heavy Metal Brit Wank I'd go for a single chassis Jack of all trades Universal Tank. Something front engined with the option of stretching it so it could also be used as a SPG, APC or IFV. This could even be imposed on the Army by the Treasury! I can just see the bean counters objecting to the design costs of half a dozen armoured vehicles in the 30's, not to mention the costs of producing and moving around lots of different types of vehicles spares and training the squadies to fight and maintain different mounts. Something along the lines of the "The chaps at the Air Ministry are convinced the next war is going to be won in the air, so the army doesn't need any tanks! But, I suppose we had better fund one tank to stop the odd karki inclined MP getting too stroppy". This has the happy bonus of explaining how all the inter service nosence that hampered the peace time army gets sorted out.

    Of course this UT is going to be something in the 10 to 20 ton range so I suspect I just butterflied away the Matilda! Of course by 1940/41 a heavier tank is going to be called for but based on the UT being a success I would suspect the concept is going to go MBT with the UT still doing the supporting roles till the end of the war and beyond.
     
  4. Derwit Well-Known Member

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    The Germans have already started designing the Pz 3 and Pz 4. The two types of tank concept wasn't unique to just Britain and France. I suspect that they would watch with interest but do little about her tanks. Although if they really pay attention then this could butterfly away the OTL Pz 3 in favour for the Panzer 4 with a duel purpose gun. However the cookie is that production numbers was low pre WW2 and there is no reason why this would change with this POD. Again they might wish for a proper APC but for each one built equals one less tank. Britain with a smaller army can manage this but the 100 Division German army can't justify the expense and opertunity costs of it. Therefore I think they will stick with the armoured half tracks.
     
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  5. Glyndwr01 Well-Known Member

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    There was a story I remember where the head of the artillery pre war saw a demonstration of the Z battery anti aircraft rockets and modified the idea to a rocket battery for the artillery!
     
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  6. TonyA Curmudgeon like, but nastier

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    I was thinking more along the lines of entering the fray with a better anti-armor gun on their PzKW in general, and getting a better anti-tank gun to the infantry to oppose the Brit threat. Maybe introducing something like the STG 3 that much sooner as a Panzerjaeger. As for the 1/2 tracks, other than a few favored formations, the PG's made do with mostly trucks as I recall.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  7. PMN1 Member

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  8. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    They could follow the RAF practice of starting to design the replacement when you place the production orders for your current vehicle.
     
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  9. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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  10. edgeworthy Well-Known Member

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    And the reference to the actual operational system.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattress_(rocket)
     
  11. TonyA Curmudgeon like, but nastier

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    Extremely well written, don't you think?
     
  12. Glyndwr01 Well-Known Member

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  13. Some Bloke Well-Known Member

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    OTL already is a Heavy Metal Britwank. Most of the best bands are British.
     
  14. Derwit Well-Known Member

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    I don’t think the driver is there in this POD for that as if the Universal Tank is based on an A10 the most armour it’s going to have is that of a Valentine. Even this is unlikely due to the reduction this weight had on speed and I think the idea of this is to get away from the cruiser/infantry tank split. Therefore the Pak 37 is more than capable of dealing with this level of protection.

    Even in my musings above I would be surprised if the British would build anything bigger than 20t due to the cost and bridges struggling to take the weight of them. Tanks like the Matilda and Char B1 where intended to rupture an established defensive line so extra time could be spent getting them over water obstacles. Therefore a simpler solution would be to fit more capable guns on the standard German tanks earlier than it was done OTL.
     
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  15. steamboy Well-Known Member

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    Don't forget that the German 37mm was pretty decent on the Panzer III, it could and did penetrate Char and Souma tanks even if it needed flank shots with the former. The French army, the main opponent of the Germans was relient mostly on short barreled 47mm guns. If this is happening so late you might well see an earlier introduction of the 50mm gun but i'd say it would not be ready for the Battle of France outside of perhaps some testbeds. And it wouldn't be the L-60 50mm gun. That gun came about directly because of experiences in France.
     
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  16. merlin Well-Known Member

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    Apart from the 'testing' site said to be North Wales, the nearest thing to a rocket testing site is - https://www.secret-bases.co.uk/wiki/RAE_Aberporth - which in South-West Wales - not far down the coast from Newquay.
     
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  17. Threadmarks: France and the aftermath

    SCOUT 5249 Well-Known Member

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    Germany unleashed the blitzkrieg slicing into Poland and most of the countries Belgium falling within 18 days. The British forces in Norway were thrown out, France was invaded so after. The German army used bypassed the Maginot Line through belgium and the low countries, through the Ardennes forest and across the River Meuse encircling the allies.

    The arras counter attack was aimed at reliving the garrison and capturing the area south of the River. It was combine French British origination, there was one problem however was utter lack of true planning among the French and British forces which meant neither side knew what the other was planning.

    As soon as the operation began things went wrong a friendly fire incident occurred due to the aforementioned lack of cohesiveness, the French forces were not aware of the timing and direction of the British attack resulting in several S 35 tanks destroyed by British A.T guns.

    The Left and Right Column
    The Frank force was the most advanced force assembled 100 vehicles, from the A9 cruiser, to the new MK I, bishop self propelled guns, AT-1 deacon assault guns and A14 vanguard troop carriers. Tanks were to go first, artillery and troops brought up the rear to consolidate holds. There little time to such strategy to be practised and this was the greatest test.
    The right column was somewhat hampered by the refugees packing the road, meaning there was very little time for mechanized infantry to get into order let alone reconnaissance. The columns came under fire from German forces the bishops proved invaluble in pinning down and discouraging the Germans as the column took Warlus and then Berneville facing stiff resistance from SS- Totenkopf Division here the AT-1 deacon and bishops proved very useful knocking out tanks and infantry with no damage the force then went for Wailly again the deacons were useful but were now taking losses from the Luftwaffe and heavy resistance stopped the mechanized forces. The column withdrew back to Berneville, but prevented the road from being cut.
    The left column met the most success practically savaged the 7th panzer division and overrunning S.S deaths head headquarters. The deacon was near untouched by the fighting being impervious to artillery fire even 75mm and mechanized infantry caused more surprise to the Germans than anything else. The column was forced to stop when confronted by 88mm Flak guns, by this point the British force was exhausted and new attacks by the Luftwaffe. What ever reserves were used to consolidate the gains. The Luftwaffe forced the British to call a withdrawal field Marshall Erwin Rommel counter attack was hamstrung by French tank and 6 pounder fire after break through ran into the British column, the French attack was also forced to withdraw the British had lost 40 vehicles with many more damaged with the exchange of 400 prisoners.

    The Germans counter attacked hard the limited ground consolidated held until the order was given for a fighting withdrawal, by this point panzer crews were wary of British heavy tanks and advanced medium tanks. By Dunkirk there were at least 125 tanks still in service giving their most in the attempt to bleed the Germans for every inch.

    Unable to take their tanks and self propelled guns the BEF had been given strict orders to destroy their own vehicles lest the Germans capture them intact. Dunkirk was a bittersweet moment for both sides for the allied forces they had lost substantial amount of equipment to the Germans they had been depleted by the constant battles.

    The battle had also proven the universal tank and mechanized infantry worth.

    Post Dunkirk and the battle of Britain saw the British army scramble to rebuild their army. The A11 heavy cruiser MK I had indeed proven its worth, there were flaws too the kestrel falcon engine developed 240 horsepower could drive the A11 to 45 kph but the tracks kept snapping, the silhouette was too high, rivets and the flat turret were weaknesses. A new universal tank was drawn up just as fast in the form of the Valentine...

    Across the channel and the Atlantic Britain's actions in France sent ripples, for the Germans were very much unhappy and having severe case of inferiority complex as they poured over every scrap, captured or destroyed hulks of British tank. The Germans had been aware of the A11 but had come to the conclusion that the economy had forced them to adopt one tank and thus ignored it, the second was the AT-1 deacon assault gun, which was terrifying for panzer crews, bishop SPG and the final nail the A14 vanguard troop carrier which through the German army off by a degree. Since in 1939 to 1940, trucks, half tracks and towed artillery was the norm. The British out did everyone by a large degree leading to increased production of the halftracks.

    In the United States a large discussion was at hand, the German blitzkrieg needed counter a Lt. Gen Leslie McNair proposed the tank destroyer doctrine, the British military's universal tank was intriguing on its own why create several tank classes when one can do the job?
     
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  18. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    Throughout the war the normal source of mobility for the German Army was the horse or a mans legs.
     
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  19. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    In the best traditions of 'what a nice idea but I have a better one' - I like to have the British evolve from the Light/Cruiser/Infantry tank concept to a Universal tank simply by plugging away at the Mechanized Force concept which replaces the Cavalry Division by the late 30s

    Initially this is based on a Heavier 20ish ton A10 (double the armour) with a then modern version of 9 CWT 13 pounder gun (due to the realisation that a decent HE round is required and anything less than a 12 pound shell is useless ) mounted in an external mantlet, in a larger 3 man turret with horstmann suspension and a land based version of the RR Kestrel as the power pack.

    Would look something like the A10 CS tank but with a longer higher engine deck and a longer slightly larger turret (and an external gun Mantlet)

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. SCOUT 5249 Well-Known Member

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    My apologies for my mistake, I always presumed that they used trucks to move everything and the 250/251 half tracks were limited.
     
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