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Subject: Sherman vs Comet
Volkodav    12/2/2010 5:14:21 AM
Just wondering which was the better tank. The Comet was too late to see much action in WWII and had been supplemented by the Centurion by the start of Korea but on paper looks to be a pretty capable vehicle. Was it a better battle tank than the Sherman?
 
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doggtag       12/2/2010 7:28:13 AM
Seeing as how many variants of the Sherman existed/evolved thru WW2,
you're probably going to have to get a little more specific as to which models you want to compare to the Comet.
 
Keeping in mind, late WW2 entry for the Comet saw it being fielded with the "detuned" 17pdr gun (sometimes vaguely referred to as 77mm) in order to accomodate both the ammo length and gun recoil in the Comet hull,
but at the same time, Sherman Fireflies also had their version of the 17pdr, and late WW2 US Shermans saw long 76mm guns considerably more capable (anti armor) than the original 75mm....
 
Shermans were comparably higher to the top of the turret,
but held more ammo, which unfortunately meant they were more likely to "brew up" when hit.
 
Consider also that, with upgrades, Shermans (as actual tanks, not the various support derivatives) soldiered on well into the late 20th century, with Israel, and eventually Chile, operating upgraded Sherman models decades beyond when the last Comets were withdrawn from any nation's service.
 
 
 
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JFKY    I would argue...   12/2/2010 10:04:41 AM
that overall the Comet was a better tank, if only because it was built with war-time experience, whereas the Sherman was really a pr-war/early war design, that had built into it certain fallacious "lessons" and ideas of armoured warfare.
 
The pity is, that it took the British so long to develop a decent Cruiser tank, in the Comet.  The problems were design, railway transport rules (Affecting hull width and turret dimensions and armament), power plant limitations, and some reliability issues, all of which crippled the British ability to field a decent tank.  In the "perfect world" Comet would have gone ashore in Normandy, and the Centurion enters service in December 1944.  Sadly that did not happen.
 
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Volkodav       12/3/2010 7:34:02 AM
The pity is, that it took the British so long to develop a decent Cruiser tank, in the Comet.  The problems were design, railway transport rules (Affecting hull width and turret dimensions and armament), power plant limitations, and some reliability issues, all of which crippled the British ability to field a decent tank.  In the "perfect world" Comet would have gone ashore in Normandy, and the Centurion enters service in December 1944.  Sadly that did not happen.
 
Take it a step further and imagine the Churchill being designed at the Black Prince's 3.4m width instead of the actual 3.25m, the upgrade to the 17pdr could have also included fitting the Meteor in place of the Bedford flat 12 and in full service by 1944.
 
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doggtag    British limitations   12/3/2010 8:22:20 AM
I wonder how many of the British limitations on finally designing a good tank were due principally to the rail transport restrictions.
 
Think about it: a tank whose overall width must limited to fit the confines of a flatbed car (minimal room for overhanging the sides like when going thru tunnels, crossing bridges, or side-by-side to rails with trains running the opposite direction, etc),
that means you can't fit a larger turret with a bigger gun because a narrower hull just cannot support it,
 
can't fit a larger engine because you're confined by a narrow internal hull space, a  more powerful engine that would've been necessary to move a better-armored vehicle,
 
and can't fit wider tracks giving you better ground pressure ratios for improving your maneuverability and flotation over softer terrain...
 
Given, the confines did encourage the development of higher power-to-weight/dimension engines that, as the War progressed (and we see today, even),
as engineers learned what worked and what didn't,
engine efficiencies, power output, and reliability improved as the years progressed.
 
But certainly, being limited to what rail transport (and road carriage) of the day allowed you to carry
definitely puts a damper on how much vehicle you can squeeze into those dimension constraints.
 
 
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JFKY    Black Prince   12/3/2010 1:05:13 PM
Probably an unnecessary design...Heavy/Infantry Tanks were a dead-end...Yes, I know that the US fielded the M-103(?) into the 1960's and the Soviets fielded the T-10, but they were small in number compared to the Universal/Main Battle Tank, pioneered by the T-34...the T-34/54, Centurion/M-48/60 series of MBT's replaced them.  I think the Black prince would have just been a waste of resources, compared to more Comets or Centurions.
 
Dogtag, the British were hamstrung by the railway limitation too long.  When that sort of thing begins to crimp combat performance, it becomes necessary to waive that rule, but the Brit's too long to realize this.  It's akin to the US Army's insistence that its IFV be amphibious.  Had the USA scrapped this requirement, as it effectively has for M-2/3 series the US could have had a Marder/BMP/Bradley vehicle in the early 1970's rather than the 1980's. 
 
Also, the British were hamstrung by larger strategic production/resource allocation decisions.  Britain focused on the RN and then on RAF Bomber Command, leaving relatively less money and talent for the development of Land Combat Vehicles.
 
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doggtag       12/3/2010 1:38:44 PM
Dogtag, the British were hamstrung by the railway limitation too long.  When that sort of thing begins to crimp combat performance, it becomes necessary to waive that rule, but the Brit's too long to realize this.  It's akin to the US Army's insistence that its IFV be amphibious.  Had the USA scrapped this requirement, as it effectively has for M-2/3 series the US could have had a Marder/BMP/Bradley vehicle in the early 1970's rather than the 1980's. 

 .......
Points taken,
but realize also: what conflict, post-Viet Nam (1970-1980s), did we really get involved in where Bradleys would've changed the outcome over the M113 types we had in service en masse?
 
It wasn't really until Desert Shield/Storm when the tactics developed with the Bradleys for the previous decade were put to use: BFVs weren't really the most air-mobile AFV, either, so it's not like they would've had a role in Panama.
 
Had we developed a suitable M113 replacement sooner (drop the amphib req), what's to say it would've matured in capability and tactics to the platform the Bradley has given us since its combat debut in 1990-91?
We could've unfortunately ended up with a Marder-similar system, with a 20mm and pintle-mounted ATGM that lacked the TOW's lethality: Desert Storm would've seen BFVs come up short if only armed with a 20mm and Dragon-type single ATGM launcher.
The 25mm Chain Gun has more than proven its effectiveness with the M919 APFSDS DU rounds...20mm would've been considerably lacking, comparably.
 
As to rail restrictions: I've often wondered why, for so long, we've adhered to earlier-standardized somewhat-narrow rail gauges, when so much more useful cargo payload capacity (especially today) could've been had with wider rail gauges being adopted.
Were that done sooner (at all), both the US and British industries would've enjoyed considerable advantage.
Even another 12-18inches between the rails would amount to considerable volume increases in what railcars could carry, and also allow for larger powerplants in locomotives.
The armored vehicle development programs would've benefitted immensely back then if rail had done so, as few nations moved a majority of their AFVs by tractor-trailer road carriers.
 
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JFKY    Dogtag   12/3/2010 2:06:46 PM
I agree that the M-723 might not have been a Bradley, but my point was/is that the swim requirement on the Bradley held up its development, too.  Had we ditched the Swim requirement even developing the Bradley would have been easier...also I believe the Bushmaster would have been the primary weapon system of ANY IF V developed in the US, post -1970, BTW...and the TBAT II would have been the turret.
 
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WarNerd       12/4/2010 2:26:53 AM

As to rail restrictions: I've often wondered why, for so long, we've adhered to earlier-standardized somewhat-narrow rail gauges, when so much more useful cargo payload capacity (especially today) could've been had with wider rail gauges being adopted.

Were that done sooner (at all), both the US and British industries would've enjoyed considerable advantage.

Even another 12-18inches between the rails would amount to considerable volume increases in what railcars could carry, and also allow for larger powerplants in locomotives.

Because they would have to rebuild the entire rail system, probably including most tunnels and bridges, and replace all the rolling stock.
 
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Jeff_F_F       12/4/2010 3:24:31 AM
For that matter, what campain have "superior" (in terms of armor and firepower) tanks ever changed the outcome? At most, more powerful tanks on the losing side make the winner's success more costly, and more powerful tanks on the winners side make their victory more secure.
 
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Jeff_F_F       12/4/2010 3:29:50 AM

Mis-read your post Dogtag. You raise an interesting point about where our IFV development could have gone if things had happened differently.

 
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