Term Paper: Tank Warfare in World

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[. . .] 7 mm gun, while the front hull had an immobile, but larger, 7.5 mm gun (Tank Encyclopedia). The tank was also too high off the ground, and unstable in rolling terrain. The first of these tanks saw action against Germany's "Desert Fox," Rommel, in Africa (The War in the Desert). These tanks immediately fell prey to the German Panzers and lighter vehicles (The War in the Desert).

The American military realized that a better design was needed in order to contest the obviously superior German vehicles (Vannoy). They sought to improve the Lee in both structural design and firepower (Vannoy). What they produced was one of the most famous tanks of World War II, the Sherman (Vannoy). There was many different designs of the Sherman, but the most predominant was the M4A4, or the "Sherman V." This model was by far the most widely used by American forces. It used what basically was an enlarged version of a car engine (it was built by converted Chevrolet factories) The engine was bigger than the Nazi ones, and therefore the tanks hull had to be extended.

The M4A4 had a cast turret and a welded hull, but what separated it from the other Sherman models was that its bogies were separated by two track elements, and the idler is located at the back of the tank (Tank Encyclopedia). Behind the turret was a projection on the engine. Also unique about the M4A4 was that, unlike the other Sherman models, it kept a front hull with three parts bolted together (Tank Encyclopedia). The other models (more technologically advanced) were fitted with a single piece for their hull (Tank Encyclopedia).

The M4A4 was a weight of 32 tons and a crew of five (Tank Encyclopedia). Its 75 mm gun was attached to the rotating turret, giving it much more of an advantage than the Lee/Grant (Tank Encyclopedia). Production of the M4A4 was halted in 1943 when the new Sherman designs started to emerge (Tank Encyclopedia).

The M4A6 Sherman preceded the M4A4 (Tank Encyclopedia). It was a more advanced version, but with basically the same structural body and armaments (Tank Encyclopedia). The M4A6 had its hull extended 15 mm to allow the mounting of a Caterpillar diesel engine (Tank Encyclopedia). It was faster and more maneuverable then the M4A4, and proved to be a worthy adversary to the well-built German tanks in the European theatre (Tank Encyclopedia).

At the onset of Russia's entrance into World War II, allied forces began supplying the country with weapons. Among the things the United States shipped to Russia were the original Sherman tanks. The Russians, in turn, modified the tanks with more armaments and greater maneuverability and created their own model of Sherman tanks dubbed the M4M (Tank Encyclopedia). There were about 4,000 of these models in World War II, primarily being used at the Russian front (Tank Encyclopedia).

In an attempt to mobilize long-range artillery, the United States military used the Sherman tank design to create a new kind of mobile howitzer. The Sherman 105 was basically an original Sherman model tank with a 10.5 mm howitzer gun attached to the turret (Tank Encyclopedia). This vehicle proved to be ineffective as an antitank weapon, but effective as long-range weapon (Tank Encyclopedia). The howitzer gun made it almost impossible to engage in close contact, so other tanks usually escorted these vehicles (Tank Encyclopedia). The Sherman 105 could also be posted at long distances from the targets like traditional howitzer (Tank Encyclopedia).

The one advantage the Sherman 105 had to the traditional howitzers was its armor. The armor that was used to protect tanks from bullets and shells was applied to a howitzer gun in the case of the Sherman 105 (Tank Encyclopedia). Unlike a traditional howitzer, it could withstand heavy firepower (Tank Encyclopedia). Many of the traditional howitzers also lacked protection for their operators, but the Sherman 105 provided a steel cage for its 5 man crew (Tank Encyclopedia).

The British version of the Sherman was called the Firefly (Tank Encyclopedia). This tank essentially adopted the Sherman design, but it had the addition of the British military's famous seventeen pound artillery gun (Tank Encyclopedia). In order to compensate for the increased weight of the turret, the rear compartment of the tank was lengthened, and counterweights were added in the back to absorb recoil (Tank Encyclopedia).

The Firefly was the only model that could face a Panther and survive. Although the Sherman was smaller, and had less armor, it did have a comparable gun to the Panther. It was often the case that Panther and Tiger tanks would destroy columns of Sherman tanks, but the Firefly often held its own in the tank battles in Europe.

Along with the medium and heavy tanks, the United States also produced a large number of light tanks. These were often built for more sporadic engagements. They could move faster and lighter than the two larger classes, and they could also move around urban areas with ease. What they lack, however, was powerful armaments and strength.

The largest of the "light" tanks was called the T-3 (Tank Encyclopedia). This vehicle was produced in large numbers, but rarely deployed in the war. The unique aspect of the T-3 was that it had big road wheels that could serve within tracks or directly on roads (Tank Encyclopedia). This innovation rendered the return rollers useless and provided great mobility for the T-3 (Tank Encyclopedia).

Although the T-3 model was rarely employed in World War II, its structural designs lead to the production of a number of new tanks. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics used the T-3 design to produce their BT type tank, and then their famous T-34 model (Tank Encyclopedia). The T-3, while not very important in the war waging in Western Europe, was crucial to Russia in its battle in Eastern Europe (Tank Encyclopedia).

Another light tank built by the United States military was the Locust, or M-22 (Tank Encyclopedia). The Locust were unique in that they were light enough to be carried by planes (Tank Encyclopedia). These tanks were built to be hauled by C-54 Kymasters (Tank Encyclopedia). The one disadvantage to airborne transportation of the Locusts was that in order for them to fit in the planes, their turrets had to be removed (Tank Encyclopedia). One the planes landed, and the Locusts were removed, the turrets had to be mounted back on (Tank Encyclopedia). This inconvenience did not prove to drastic for the British army, as they bought and used the majority of these vehicles (Tank Encyclopedia). Instead of carrying it was a C-54 Skymaster, the British army transported the Locus with their Hamilcar glider (a vehicle originally designed to carry a Tetarch) (Tank Encyclopedia).

The United States military used the structures of the Lee/Grant to produce self-propelled guns (Tank Encyclopedia). The first of which was the M31 (Tank Encyclopedia). This gun was basically a converted Lee/Grant model with its turret and original gun replaced by a fake one (Tank Encyclopedia). The vehicle had a lift capacity of 13.5 tons, and provided strategic firepower for troops in "sticky" areas (Tank Encyclopedia).

The most famous of the self-propelled guns was the M7 Priest (Tank Encyclopedia). The Priest also stemmed from the original Lee/Grant structure, but unlike the M31, it had a 10.5 mm howitzer attached in place of the turret (Tank Encyclopedia). Also added was a machine gun pulpit right next to the howitzer (Tank Encyclopedia). The Priest was a "double threat" in that it could provide short-range armored coverage for troops, but it also had the ability to hit targets hundreds of yards away (Tank Encyclopedia). The Priest was the most widely recognized and employed of the self propelled guns. It saw most of its action during the Campaign in Tunisia, and then during the invasion of German-occupied France (Tank Encyclopedia).

As hostilities intensified in Europe, military analysts realized that they needed to put more of a concentration on eliminating the Nazi tanks (Vannoy). They concluded that the multi-dimensional tanks were not always sufficient, and they needed a special type of tank that served only the purpose of destroying others, thus the "tank destroyers," were conceived (Vannoy).

The tank destroyers were built to be quick and accurate (Vannoy). The first of these deployed was the United States Hellcat (Vannoy). This was the quickest armored vehicle used in World War II. Its goal was basically to provide support for the larger and slower Shermans. The Hellcat, however, proved to be relatively ineffective. Though it had great speed, and could outrun and outmaneuver the German tanks; it could not destroy them, nor withstand their onslaughts.

The 7.6 mm guns were simply too weak to penetrate the large Panzer and Tiger tanks used by the Nazis. The military decided to arm the Hellcats with a large 9 mm cannon, but the project was scrapped before the war ended.

Along with the need to have a special vehicle… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Tank Warfare in World.  (2003, May 26).  Retrieved March 26, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/tank-warfare-world-war/2668527

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"Tank Warfare in World."  26 May 2003.  Web.  26 March 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/tank-warfare-world-war/2668527>.

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"Tank Warfare in World."  Essaytown.com.  May 26, 2003.  Accessed March 26, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/tank-warfare-world-war/2668527.