Two Links on Armoured Fighting Vehicles
Warfare between two powers with airforces and armoured divisions is complicated and technical, and many of the people who talk about it have ulterior motives. Some want to keep their audience by talking about the latest topic, others want to sell something, and a third kind are propagandizing for a state or a movement. Here are two links I found helpful¸and one topic which I wish I had a link on.
Jon Hawkes, “Primer: Statistical Armour,” 27 Feb 2022 https://www.tanknology.co.uk/post/statistical-armour If you want to know how the infamous Russian cage armour works, and how its different from the old Schürzen “aprons” of Nazi armour (or the Whipple shields of modern spacecraft), this is one take.
Nicholas Moran, “No, The Tank is Not Dead,” 15 April 2022 https://piped.kavin.rocks/watch?v=lI7T650RTT8 (tracking-free) or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI7T650RTT8 (warning! Google property!) This is especially strong on the capabilities which tanks give a military, and which cannot yet be provided by any other weapons system. In late March, he noted that he had not actually seen any videos of missiles destroying Russian tanks equipped with this armour from above.
Finally, people say that the Russians are massing troops around Izyum east of Kharkiv, while the Ukrainians have launched a ground offensive there to cut them off or limit them to a single road. I wish I could find a good link on the battle of the Izyum Salient in 1942 aka. the second battle of Kharkov for people who don’t have access to Robert Citino’s book. The English Wikipedia version owes too much to those old German memoirs.
PS. I am seeing speculation that Russian tanks may be operating with two-man crews (driver and commander / gunner) because of their frequent lack of situational awareness. This seems to come from an ‘Osgüd Schläuter’ @The_Tech_Son@twitter.com https://nitter.eu/The_Tech_Son/status/1513754354355953670#m Failing to separate the role of the commander (who needs awareness of the overall situation) and the gunner (who stares down a very narrow scope) is typical of tank designs up to the 1930s. For what it is worth, Nicholas Moran is cautiously optimistic about the autoloader which allows three-man (commander, gunner, driver) rather than four-man (commander, gunner, loader, driver) crews, on the ground that autoloaders can be safer than 20th century Soviet designs and that any increase in size of tank cannons would require rounds which are too heavy for one loader to handle.
PPS. Austrian Major Markus Reisner has a talk analyzing the defeat of a Russian attack on Brovary near Kyiv which many of my gentle readers will know from video clips on other sites, “Aus dem Kriegstagebuch: Erfolgreiche Abwehr einer russischen Kampfgruppe in einem Vorort von Kiew.” https://yt.artemislena.eu/watch?v=qNeXbNY3HYQ (also available on YouTube)
(scheduled 18 April 2022)
From the rare occasions I could get my father to discuss The War, I learnt that his Churchill tanks had a crew of five: the driver and co-driver were in the hull and the commander, gunner, loader/radio operator in the turret.
But sometimes he had to carry an artilleryman to spot fall of shot and direct his guns. Then the tank’s gunner was disposed of and Dad was both commander and gunner.
I decided that this must have been a bad arrangement because he commanded a whole troop of tanks not just his own. Hey ho.
Yes, during WW II tanks often needed another crewman (and early in the war they often lacked the ideal three-man turret crew). I get the impression that a fifth body was also helpful for keeping a heavy vehicle running. But these days radios are simpler to operate and tanks are easier to maintain. I think there were ‘command tanks’ with a dummy gun and a bigger radio.
I’m not sure what tankers do these days if someone needs to borrow a ride. Modern tanks are so big but they are full of stuff and have moving parts which want to eat passengers.
One of the things that the Germans got right before the war was that they absolutely needed to separate the commander and gunner roles, and ideally have a loader in the turret too. In a lot of early-war tanks one person was supposed to command, load the gun, and shoot the gun.