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Subject: Pre WWII What If - Partial mechanisation and motorisation of the Australian Army
Volkodav    12/6/2008 8:55:15 AM
Been thinking on this one for a while. Post WWI Australia had one of the best militaries, man for man in the world. Our leaders, in particular Monash and Chauvel, were amoung the best. Even our soliders were well above average with many examples of individuals joining as Privates and ending up as Majors and Colonels (Percy Black and Harry Murray come to mind). The AIF was already well on the way to becoming motorised with Service Corps posessing thousands of vehicles and combined arms operations well and truely proven during 1918 in battles such as Hamel. Post war Chauvel pushed for mechanisation but instead it was decided, by polititians, that the true lesson of the Great War was that Australians were natural solidiers and as such there was no need to have a standing army. The assumption was than in the event of another war our citizens would simply take up arms and win the day. So instead of a Regular Army with Tanks, mechanised Infantry and Cavalry combat elements and motorised support echelons our army was gutted, the AIF disbanded and the greatest stupidity of all, Service Corps was forced to leave their vehicles in Europe and the hand full of units remaining in existance, reverted to horse drawn transport. Considering the known threats of Japanese Imperialism and Communist Expansionism my what if is that common sense applied instead of jingoism and expediency. -The RAR was formed in 1920 as motorised infantry using trucks as section vehicles and with Tankettes as support vehicles and all terrain tractors. -An Australian Tank Regiment with a number of battalions was formed to provide organic armoured support to each Motor Brigade. -The Cavalry was both motorised and mechanised with some units used as mounted infantry with armed trucks they could ride into battle and others were equiped with armoured cars to serve in the recc role. -above all Service Corps would have retained and even upgraded their vehicles. The other big change would be to dramatically increase the number of RAAF sqn's assigned to Army Cooperation. Depending on responses to this post I wouldn't mind getting into the nitty gritty of ORBAT's and specific equipment selection, even Aust specific evolutions and developments. Thoughts?
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Volkodav       1/5/2009 7:48:27 AM
Replace anti-tank platoon (6 to 8 towed 6 pounder guns) in each Inf Btn with a Universal Carrier based SPG along the lines of  the German STUG's.
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doggtag       1/5/2009 9:22:19 AM

Replace anti-tank platoon (6 to 8 towed 6 pounder guns) in each Inf Btn with a Universal Carrier based SPG along the lines of  the German STUG's.

This one?
Is the Universal Carrier the best chassis to use?" width="300" align="left" border="0" />
This was the solution that was adopted to mount the towed 2-pdr AT gun of the day.
As can be seen, not the most tactically sound design (fully exposed to elements, small arms proof only at the gunshield).
Nothing wrong in using a light chassis, but this one?
Mounting anything bigger than the 2-pdr, we'd end up more along the lines of a sIG33 rather than a StuG...
Too big a gun, and you'd end up with a monstrosity (OK, a little monstrosity) like this:" width="300" align="left" border="0" />
15cm howitzer, Panzer II chassis.
The closest StuG-type that would've fit a similar chassis (Universal Carrier) might've been useful fore an infantry FSV thru the PTO campaign...there was a system called Alecto that mounted a 3.7" howitzer (in a very low angle mounting) into a chassis using the Harry Hopkins  light tank chassis.
A better suggestion I'd consider over the 2-pdr gun armament, I might have considered further refining the 47mm gun (3-pdr) that was common in several 1920s-1930s AFVs.
If anything, I'd have been aiming for something along the lines of the German Panzer II, Czech 38, Russian T70, or similar light tank that could've held a decent medium/high velocity gun up thru the 3-pdr range, and perhaps thru 75mm low/medium velocity howitzer.
There was a good thread from one of Tank-Net's respected patrons concerning an alternative 1930s British tank gun .
The situation here though isn't so much the gun, as the proper vehicle design to carry it.
(Myself, I'd probably have pursued a high velocity 3-pdr/47mm and a 75mm low velocity gun that (hopefully) could be swapped back and forth in a given vehicle as the situation dictated...)
Looking at some of the pre-War tank designs, I don't feel the U.C. would've been the most promising base vehicle to start with.
Perhaps the Covenanter would've been a better starting point?
Or even one of these Cruiser IV's wouldn't have been an overly-complicated vehicle to work with.
Judging by just how far Australian industry proved its potential with the Sentinels, any of these lesser light tanks would've been a better starting point than the Universal Carrier.
Again, seeing as it appears you want infantry support over the ability to go toe-to-toe with medium and heavy tanks, this seems like a safe approach.
The 6-pdr gun ported over from towed mountings and fitted into a tracked chassis would've had merit, but using the Universal Carrier as the base design wouldn't have allowed anything bigger than a 75- or 95mm howitzer (a StuG variant could mount a short 105mm in place of the 75), and with a rather limited ammo supply might I add.
Going to some of the other pre-War Cruiser designs, it may have been possible to design a fire support vehicle similar to the US M8.
Whatever gun was mounted (fully enclosed) in any U.C.-based design, it would've been extremely cramped (
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HERALD1357    Universal weapons carrier   1/5/2009 10:44:28 AM
Maybe a little ahead of the time, but the Australian Army might have tried to build a common chassis  track laying truck with a cargo bed that could have served as a common vehicle for SPG, infantry carrier, and artillery tractor. Not sure about the tank destroyer since at the time nobody could foresee the real need for one." width="370" height="212" /> 
Something like the Ho Ki  with a truck or a lorry cargo bed only better built?

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FJV       1/5/2009 1:23:14 PM
I may be the stupid one here, but I would go for a few good Australian Carrier task forces instead.
Why grant the "Japs" the opportunity to land forces in the 1st place?
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HERALD1357    Well.........   1/5/2009 1:52:23 PM

I may be the stupid one here, but I would go for a few good Australian Carrier task forces instead.


Why grant the "Japs" the opportunity to land forces in the 1st place?




The topic the Australian army mechani9zed at the most cost and combat efficient basis before WW II.

The carrier topic deserves another thread altogether. 

And I hate to say this, but I wonder if the RAN could field a couple of light carriers during the Slump?
The Australian Army might have found the funds for a couple of motorized battalions or even a motorized brigade in the late 1930s.
Lets see; at  $20,000 a tracked universal weapon carrier how much would that cost for an initial; buy of 100 machines-about $20,000,000?
If  you posit $50,000,000 for a bare bones carrier; add 30 aircraft at  $2,400.000 and then add a cruiser (same cost) and then 5 destroyers ($5,000,000 each)
   $50,000,000 carrier
   $50,000,000 cruiser
   $25,000,000 five destroyers
     $2,400,000 thirty aircraft 
$107,400,000 for task force
The British Commonwealth at the time might have been smarter to share the defense burden? Let the UK build the ships and some aircraft while the Dominions built stuff for the Commonwealth Army?


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Volkodav       1/6/2009 4:55:57 AM
The Hetzer is exactly what I was thinking of.
The idea of using the Universal Carrier chassy in a STUG layout with a 6 Pounder was to provide the infantry btn's with a decent SP anti tank capability.
The other thing that would have been good would have been to supplement or even replace the Vickers MMG's with M2 50cals.  The Universal Carriers proved extremely effective in the fire support role in the Western Desert with the Vickers plumbed into the engines cooling system.  Imagine what they would have been like if they mounted a water cooled 50cal
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doggtag    6pdr UC Hetzer   1/6/2009 7:46:03 AM
Did some more digging around; I know I've seen numerous tankette designs from WW2 at various places.
some of the small Italian tankettes here,
and numerous other US pre-War developments (several interesting designs under study and development that would've brought even light firepower (75mm mobile pack howitzers) to the infantry in modified light tank chassis and combat cars,
sadly of which there isn't any measurably good data online about)...
We could easily then have created a useful lightweight support AFV built with U.C. components (not necessarily just using the same 3-road wheel chassis).
I remember from an antiquated (1977?) armor encyc. a US development of the elderly FT-17 hull (Ford 6-ton, maybe?),
or maybe even the M2/M3 combat car series that looks like where the Stuart evolved out of,
 that featured the 75mm pack howitzer in a shallow side sponson, with an MG turret on top,
looking as though an M3 Lee was shrunk down to maybe 1/4 scale or something.
And I didn't see it on the Italian tankette page above, but I remember some project using one of those hulls that mounted a limited traverse 37-47mm AT gun in a limited traverse Hetzer-like mantlet (not the 75mm armed Somovente, but somewhat similar).
Like I said earlier: for use in the PTO against generally weak Japanese tanks, these support AFVs based on tankettes and light tank components would probably work, maybe even as scouts and raiders for the desert.
But in the ETO, against a mass of German infantry with light AT guns (2cm Flak, 37 & 50mm PaK) and Panzerfausts, they'd be dog meat, to say the least.
It should easily withstand .30-cal class  MG and rifle fire at the least.
The Germans and Japanese weren't known to deploy many heavy MGs with infantry (not in the numbers that the Allies carried M2 Brownings in the War), but the 20 & 25mm AA guns the Axis used could've posed serious-enough threat.
Either or, that conceptual 57mm gun that Tony Williams talks about on his website about the alternative 1930s British tank gun, that shorter 57 might've been ideal for the U.C. tankette until more of the longer barrel, higher-performing models reached service (did any Japanese tanks even need the power of a 57mm gun to defeat them?).
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HERALD1357       1/7/2009 2:45:26 AM
I don't know. A Stug made out of a universal carrier with a 57/30 for its main armament?
That still is a lot of gun for a relatively small chassis.

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Volkodav   1/7/2009 2:52:52 AM" alt="" />" alt="" />
If these could be bodged together for the Home Guard imagine what could have been done with some forethought.
I believe the big gun is a 25 pounder.
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Volkodav   1/7/2009 3:05:49 AM
I might need to visit my local hobby store to buy a model U.C. and 6 Pounder to see what I can bodge up myself.
It will have to wait until I finish my E-10 though.
The other option would be to ark up my old student edition Inventor (if it still works) and see what I can do.
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