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Zaloga's Armored Thunderbolt: The US Army Sherman in WWII...
The AFV ASSOCIATION was formed in 1964 to support the thoughts and research of all those interested in Armored Fighting Vehicles and related topics, such as AFV drawings. The emphasis has always been on sharing information and communicating with other members of similar interests; e.g. German armor, Japanese AFVs, or whatever.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2009 11:02 pm
Post subject: Zaloga's Armored Thunderbolt: The US Army Sherman in WWII...

Hey guys, just wanted to let you know I read this new book (came out in October) over the holidays and found it to be very good.

While Hunnicutt's Sherman volume is obviously the "bible" on the type, particularly the development history, Zaloga's new book provides a good description of both development history and combat use - and how the latter fed into the former, or rather all too often didnt...

Zaloga doesnt pull any punches or avoid any topics. He goes into such subjects as why the Sherman didnt get a better armament or armor sooner, the faults of the Ordnance branch development efforts, tank destroyer doctrine, general failures of US tank gun development, development of the T20 series of tanks, etc.

One big take-away I got from the book was the failure of Ordnance Intelligence to translate technical details from captured enemy material (Tigers, Panthers, PaK guns, etc) into usuable material for troops and importantly as part of a feedback loop into the development of new weaponry.

In particular, the entire development community didnt look forward enough (like British, Soviet & German counterparts did) to anticipate future developments in enemy armament & armor. When the US encountered a new weapon, a solution to defeat it was developed - but by the time it got into the field that formerly-new threat weapon had already been surpassed and the solution often obsolete. The Brits and others looked forward - hence the development of the 17 pounder when it didnt seem necessary at the time, etc. The Germans and Soviets had their arms race on the Eastern front (in part based on anticipated future threats) - but it appears we didnt have a lot of info on that front and in some cases assumed that those weapons wouldnt appear in the West in large numbers (Tiger for example).

That being said, Zaloga does make the point - errors in tank destroyer doctrine not withstanding - that the Sherman was primilarily used as an infantry support vehicle rather than in tank engagements. Zaloga has a couple of chapters on operations research conducted after the war into Sherman engagements - including tank engagements. BTW, the whole 5 Shermans to take out a Panther/Tiger doesnt appear to have any statistical basis (as I suspected).

On the point of Sherman usage it makes an interesting comparison vs German weapons. In terms of an infantry support "assault gun" - the US Army analog to the StuG was... The Sherman tank! I'll admit it makes me wonder about how US armor development could have been different if it looked more like German practice... IE a clearer differentiation between tanks & assault guns...

For example, why not an assault gun variant of the M3? Plenty lying around - not a good vehicle for tank engagements, but couldnt a better assault gun have been put into the sponson? Might have been at least as good as a StuG (albeit much larger unless it could be cut down), but just wondering out loud... Or even a dedicated (ie non-turreted) assault gun variant of the Sherman... The M4A3E2 became very popular by the end of the war - but why wasnt it mated with the 105mm howitzer? The M4(105) ironically was used for indirect fire rather than close support... IMO, the independent tank battalions (which supported infantry divisions) probably would have done better with M4(105s), M4A3E2s or better yet M4A3E2(105)s Wink

Such a move could have freed the remaining Shermans, in the dedicated tank battalions, from the infantry support requirement conundrum - with more emphasis on tank-killing... But again, this would have required large changes in US armor doctrine...

Anyway, excellent book IMO...


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 11:00 am
Post subject: Re: Zaloga's Armored Thunderbolt: The US Army Sherman in WWII...

The US Army has this way staying stuck into one mode of thinking that doesn't change unless it is bashed enough times in the head.

Tank policy was "Good Enough" as far as they were concerned, and by the time they experienced the Western ETO the war was less than a year to go. After the war the "Atomic Age" was ushered in and the Air Force and Navy became the prime focus, leaving force modernization crumbs. Hard to believe for the majority of the cold war we fielded tanks that were pretty much Sherman's of their time. Robust and reliable but lacking that superiority needed to off set the Warsaw Pact numbers. It took the M1 to finally solve that.

Doctrine is the same, After Desert Storm all Mounted Doctrine was based on that, suffered through this with 3 tours in Korea. A very urban, built up country that we war gamed like NTC. Same thing happened in OIF, After the ground war the command that took over from CFLCC (CJTF-7) started to go into the Bosnia/Kosovo mindset. No surprise since most of the leadership came from V Corps. It took guys like General Petraus and the non-linear light community to finally get it right. I hope the pendulum doesn't swing to far it's way either though. I think the combining of the Armor and Infantry communities will address that. The Infantry Branch already saw it coming a while back when they eliminated the 11M Bradley MOS and made them all 11B's again. Now it's time for the Tanker's to assimilate.

Now I will duck as many of the Armor community throw tomato's at me and label me a traitor to Saint George Shocked

Joe D
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:06 pm
Post subject: Re: Zaloga's Armored Thunderbolt: The US Army Sherman in WWII...

Understood about the previous war inspiring the next. The cycles you describe are shorter than we typically think happen, but this is a function of relatively short service careers. The E-4 Lowly Crewman become the E-8 Swinging Dick and has a voice in how 'things really get done'.

From my own perspective in AFG (not armour, but translatable), I went straight to the principles when the circumstances in front of me looked unfamiliar. We revert to our training every time. Now, what I delivered was an Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield product that answered everyones' questions and then some, but it was 1990's doctrine at its best. Helpfully, the Marines had learned a similar lesson in IRQ, so I was able to legitimize my work.
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Location: Vine Grove, KY
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:57 pm
Post subject: Re: Zaloga's Armored Thunderbolt: The US Army Sherman in WWII...

- Joe_D

Now I will duck as many of the Armor community throw tomato's at me and label me a traitor to Saint George Shocked

Joe D

Your not a traitor, just seriously misguided,..... Mr. Green

The Armor community has 'bought into' the move. (Yes Sir!!, sounds great!!.....lets hit the road south. We can live in tents until someone figures it all out. Ranges,...RANGES,....We don't need no stinkin ranges....)

Rolled over in the face of 'power politics'.

Crying or Very sad
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