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Armor/AFV: British Armor
Discuss all types of British Armor of all eras.
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Those Reviled Universal Carriers
long_tom
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Illinois, United States
Joined: March 18, 2006
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Posted: Wednesday, March 06, 2019 - 12:15 PM UTC
Getting back on topic, I assume the Universal Carriers must have been good for some applications before replacements came along.
babaoriley
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Posted: Wednesday, March 06, 2019 - 12:58 PM UTC
There are factors which can be almost intangible from a distance yet were critical at the time. E.g., as one author has pointed out, if the U.S. had built a larger, heavier tank earlier in the war (something more powerful than the Sherman) the first problem would have been moving it from the factory to a port to be loaded on a ship and sent to Britain or the continent, and railway flatcars able to handle such a vehicle were in short supply. Portable bridges vital to the Allied advance would have had to be stronger, recovering damaged vehicles would have been more difficult and so on down the line. Is a heavy tank that can't make it to the front really better?

How "reviled" were some of these pieces of equipment? My dad was trained on the PIAT, he hated it because it was big and heavy and loading the first shot was a real pain. But apparently it was considered an effective weapon by officers surveyed (who didn't have to carry it). But Allied troops were known to collect and use all the Panzerfausts they could get their hands on, so what does that say about the PIAT and Bazooka?

Britain in particular had no choice but to produce less than ideal weapons and keep them in service because they had no choice. As Churchill put it in regard to new equipment--the first year nothing, the second year nothing, the third year a trickle, the fourth year all you want. IMO Britain didn't produce a really good (well balanced) tank until the Comet, but even a Valentine or Cromwell or whatever was better than nothing.

That Britain, Canada etc. seized on the Kangaroo concept once suitable vehicles became available for conversion suggests that combat experience had shown the Universal Carrier was inadequate for some roles. But for most of the war it was what they had, so it stayed in production. That it didn't stay in service much after the war (again except by those who would use anything they could get) points to the design not being all that successful over the long haul.

Sean50
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Manche, France
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Posted: Wednesday, March 06, 2019 - 10:46 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Also, and this is important- Americans in general, are much quicker to "revile" any product, whether it's American-made or not, simply for the reason that we've always had the freedom to open our big mouths whenever we want to; and I speak as a loyal American as I say this... Therefore, as to American Tankers complaining about their "steeds", that just came NATURALLY, whether the complaints were valid or not.



That's not an exclusively American "quality" Complaining and moaning are part of British culture, too. Ask the Aussies


Quoted Text


IMO Britain didn't produce a really good (well balanced) tank



If you ask those who used them, apart the "usual" complaint about main armament impotency against heavier opposition, the later Churchills were well liked and "good".

Cheers

Sean
Magpie
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Posted: Wednesday, March 06, 2019 - 10:57 PM UTC
Cromwell was everything that the Sherman was.

The Universal Carrier was an excellent piece of kit. It was a tracked jeep essentially and found application in a huge range of roles, i.e. it was Universal.

I can't imagine why any authoritative author would think otherwise.

"If the Sherman was a great tank design, why did the US abandon it even before the war was over? Unlike the T-34, it did not inform the next generation(s) of US-designed vehicles. If anything, the Panther tank left a larger mark."

The Sherman as far from abandoned, indeed they were still in the front lines in the 1960's. US tanks developed from the Pershing which is was an evolutionary design from the Sherman, the major change being the suspension.

German tank development ceased to exist post WW2 and few if any none of their design features were incorporated into post-war tanks.

T34 lead to the T55, a significantly different design.

British tanks continued to evolve into the Centurion, perhaps the most successful tank design of all time.

So certainly the tanks for the various nations did "inform" the next generation and I don't see any influence from the German designs.

ReluctantRenegade
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Wien, Austria
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Posted: Wednesday, March 06, 2019 - 11:41 PM UTC

Quoted Text

That it didn't stay in service much after the war (again except by those who would use anything they could get)



Mind you, this is an early '30s AFV design - how many of those were actually still in production after WW2? Very few. Besides, it did kind of stay in service (in various forms) long after the war, and not just in armies that couldn't afford anything else: in Denmark and Switzerland until 1965; the last Universal Carrier based Belgian CATI-90 left the factory in 1964; some of them were still used for training as late as 1984.


Quoted Text

points to the design not being all that successful over the long haul.



The facts stack on the contrary: 113.000 vehicles were built over 26 years - 31.300 of those after the war. You don't waste that amount of time and resources on an unsuccessful design. The pure technical specifications of the Universal Carrier do not reveal two of its most important features: versatility and reliability. No other WW2 AFV could carry out the variety of roles in variety of theaters which the Carrier was asked to do.
panzerbob01
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Posted: Thursday, March 07, 2019 - 06:10 AM UTC
By now, the carrier reputation question should be well resolved - this horse has certainly been beaten completely bloody - but I somehow doubt that the question has really settled!

Personally, I've always liked the carrier, since ever I built that little Airfix 1/72 kit w/ 6-pounder back ca 1965 or so. This thread has been seriously fun and entertaining and VERY informative, as many on Armorama are, and it has certainly reheated my interest in modeling this widely-used old contraption! I think it's high time that I go grab one of the many great-looking modern 1/35 carrier kits now circling the globe and build it! Now... Which one??? Choices!

I've got to get going, now - got way too much to do: house being rebuilt (GC on that), wonderful wife to love, many places to go see, books (even one on that carrier! ) to read, old military trucks to work on, shooting to do, models to build (waaaaay too many of those! ), and yes, more kits to buy!

Next topic! Cheers! Bob
Pongo_Arm
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British Columbia, Canada
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Posted: Thursday, March 07, 2019 - 07:29 AM UTC
People say funny things,
The only component of the T34 that made it to its successors is the engine. The hull layout, the tracks the running gear, the transmission layout the crew configuration, the armour concept.
The soviets knew they wanted to change much of that before the Germans even invaded.
They are related clearly, the priorities and the method of war that they are designed to support are similar. But the technology and design decisions are almost the antithesis of the T34. They pretty much wiped the slate clean.

The KV1 looks way more like a 1950 tank then any T34 does.
babaoriley
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Posted: Thursday, March 07, 2019 - 07:57 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Cromwell was everything that the Sherman was.


Which could be taken to mean both were successful mediocre designs along the lines of, "The best is the enemy of good enough". Allied air superiority and logistical superiority meant tanks that could go toe-to-toe with more powerful German models were not necessary in large quantities, but that doesn't make either of these two tanks outstanding designs.


Quoted Text

The Sherman as far from abandoned, indeed they were still in the front lines in the 1960's.


The Sherman was still in the front line in the 60s with nations on a budget. As much as I admire what the IDF did with upgraded Shermans, would they have bothered if they had been able to get larger numbers of newer designs earlier?


Quoted Text

British tanks continued to evolve into the Centurion, perhaps the most successful tank design of all time.


I suggest most of that happened late in WWII, and it was the Comet which is the big step up from the mostly dismal British tanks of WWII (which all lacked at least one vital characteristic of a well balanced design) and the immortal Centurion which was so successful because it broke away from the absurd infantry vs. cruiser tank philosophy which had handicapped British tank design.


Quoted Text

So certainly the tanks for the various nations did "inform" the next generation and I don't see any influence from the German designs.


If I look at a Leopard 1 and a Leopard II side by side, I see a Panther and a Tiger. I don't think the Germans chose a big cat name for their postwar tank by accident.

ALBOWIE
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Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2019 - 10:00 AM UTC
I was curious after reading this comment and picked up my copy having read it when first released and I cannot get a feeling that David Fletcher thought they were reviled or awful, quite the contrary actually. he does note that when they were used in roles they were not intended to (Assualt) that things did not always go well. As for not used much after the war that title goes on to mention their use in Korea by the Commonwelath BDE's. That was over five years after the war and they were still in use generally until replaced much later by Wheeled and tracked APC's that offered NBC protection and overhead cover. Remember that the role of the Carrier was not an APC as in the modern terms but more of a battle taxi like the M3 HT
Al
Pongo_Arm
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Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 - 10:39 AM UTC
"If I look at a Leopard 1 and a Leopard II side by side, I see a Panther and a Tiger. I don't think the Germans chose a big cat name for their postwar tank by accident.
"
You should see a diesel T23e3 with the crew arrangement from a T54 and the Gun from a centurion.