Here is part 2 of the Chieftain’s look at the Swedish Stridsvagn M/42 tank.
Nicholas “The Chieftain” Moran from World of Tanks writes about the history of tank signal flags.
Tier I tanks used to come with “Signal Flags” as part of their basic radio system. Threads on the forum, reddit, etc. have asked, “Did WoT make this up? Did tankmen really use flags?”
Sure enough, the answer is ‘yes’ (in semaphore, as in the photo above). In a time when the “intercom system” could be as technical as kicking the driver to indicate which way you wanted to go, communications with the world outside the tank was even more difficult.
Just because tanks were coming standard with radios didn’t mean that signal flags would be obsolete. In early 1941, Armored Force was trying to come up with its own visual signals guide, and that March approved the signals as found in Field Manual 17-5:
“Disregard my movements:” Flag Stationary
“Do as I do:” Raise and lower flag repeatedly
“Assemble:” Wave flag in large circles
“Form extended column:” Wave flag from font to rear, as determined by direction in which signaller’s vehicle is facing
“Form extended line:” Wave flag from side to side, as determined by direction in which signaller’s vehicle is facing
“Form column:” “Extended Column” signal, followed immediately by “Assemble” signal
“Form line:” “Extended line” signal, followed immediately by “Assemble” signal
Nicholas “The Chieftain” Moran has posted the fifth part of his series of articles on the history of US tank development during WW2. In the is post he compares and contrasts the difference in opinions between Army Ground Forces and Ordnance regarding tank development.
Now that that salvo is over, let’s have a gander at the whole lot, and compare/contrast with Ordnance’s view of things.
It is interesting to compare the line just above, “The agency controlling the using arm should likewise control the actual development program”, with the position of General Barnes over at Ordnance: “For these reasons, it is necessary for the Ordnance Department to take a strong lead over the using services in the development of new equipment and then to get the help of those using services in determining where the weapon best fits into battlefield operations.”
Put simply, they are mutually exclusive propositions. In effect, you have the scientists saying “If we just let the using arms come up with the equipment needs, nothing ‘new’ or revolutionary would ever be developed”, and you have the using arms saying “Stop focusing on hypothetical wonderweapons, and put all your energy into this thing we know we need right now.”
Nicholas “The Chieftain” Moran has posted part 4 of his series of articles on the history of US tank development during WW2. This segment tells the story up to the end of the war with particular focus on T23, T28, T29, T30 and T26E3.
Last of the T23
In order to insure a completely fair evaluation of the T23 tank, Army Ground Forces had proposed in the spring of 1944 to equip the 785th Tank Battalion and expose the tank to extended field service tests in this country. Army Ground Forces was convinced that the tank was not satisfactory but did not want to be in a position of overlooking any advancement which the electric drive might accomplish. Ordnance had claimed that all the initial deficiencies found had been corrected in the ten production models, which were tested by the Armored Board in the summer of 1944. But again results were very disappointing. It was found, for example, that 300 man-hours of maintenance were required for each 100 hours of operation. The track and suspension system was inadequate; the cooling system was easily clogged with dust and prevented satisfactory operation in high ambient temperatures or dusty conditions; no steering or braking was possible if the engine failed, and finally the tank could not be operated satisfactorily at slow speeds without imposing a heavy burden on the traction motors. The Board listed 26 urgent deficiencies in this vehicle. Army Ground Forces approved the Board’s recommendation for a correction of these deficiencies and stated that if they were corrected two battalions would be equipped with the tank and sent to the theater. It was also found in the field test of the tank by the 785th Tank Battalion that the armored engine compartment grilles could not withstand even 20mm fire from the ground or plunging fire from aircraft.
Nicholas “The Chieftain” Moran has posted part three of an article based on his archive digging regarding US armor in WW2. This article series looks at Army Ground Forces and how they determined with vehicles and tanks should be developed and fielded during the war. Part three includes the period from fall of 1943 to the end of the war. Vehicles discussed include the T23, T25, T26, the M6 and M4A3E2 “Jumbo.”
Click here to read “The Chieftain’s Hatch.”
Nicholas “The Chieftain” Moran has posted part two of an article based on his archive digger regarding US armor in WW2. In particular, this article looks at Army Ground Forces and how they determined with vehicles and tanks should be developed and fielded during the war.
Situation in March 1942
When Army Ground Forces was established, many of the basic decisions for the tank program had already been made by other agencies of the War Department and the Ordnance Department. At this time, the Armored Force was a semi-autonomous command which played an important part in developing its equipment. Although it came nominally under the control of Army Ground Forces, it continued to exercise many of its powers by direct contact with the Tank Automotive Center in Detroit.
The M3 medium tank was in current use, the M4 medium tank was in production but had yet to see a battlefield. Development of the Medium Tank M7 was also well under way. This had been conceived in 1941 as a 16-ton vehicle, mounting a 37mm gun, and was classified as a light tank. Successive changes requested by the Armored Force had resulted in a tank of 25 tons, mounting a 75mm gun, which thus approached the weight class of the M4 (33 tons) and was reclassified as a medium tank. During 1942 Armored Force enthusiasm for the M7 tank was quite pronounced.
All of these tanks had been developed primarily for the purpose of exploiting break-throughs and conducting operations in the traditional cavalry manner. First of all, their sponsors wanted speed and mobility, with mechanical reliability a necessary corollary. Sufficient fire power was only needed to subdue enemy infantry and minor strong points, and armor was required only to withstand enemy small arms. These tanks had narrow, high-speed treads. Unit ground pressure was not a serious factor because it was contemplated that slashing tank tactics then advocated would not be possible through soft, marshy terrain. [Chieftain’s Note: As you will recall, Armored Force, not AGF, are the folks who created tank doctrine and tank manuals, we’ve gone over in the past the position of Devers and AF on the matter of what they expected medium tanks to do against tanks. That AGF had this interpretation need not be an accurate reflection of what AF thought]