Friday, April 13, 2007

As we get to the end of Brazen Chariots...

As we approach the brutal end of Brazen Chariots, it is worth reflecting on the differing approaches to fighting tanks between the British and Germans. The British still wanted to fight tanks with tanks. That is probably now the modern style, generally, although the hand-held or vehicled-mounted, rocket propelled anti-tank missile or grenade is a major factor. The German practice, in 1940 to 1943 was still to generally fight tanks with anti-tank guns. They had two lethal weapons. One, the 88mm FLAK guns adapted for fighting tanks was a major threat, and could defeat the armour on any British tank. The 50mm PAK38 was also very potent. The gun had an extremely low profile, making it difficult to see, if there was an effort to conceal it. That meant that they often had the element of surprise, and could suddenly hit unsuspecting tanks and knock them out. The British still were thinking in terms of using tanks to fight tanks in 1939 to 1942. They really did not have good tanks suitable for that sort of action, but that was still the doctrine. They lacked a suitable anti-tank gun until the appearance of the 6pdr in 1942. Under the right circumstances, the 2pdr gun could penetrate a German or Italian tank, but it was not guaranteed. The American 37mm gun on the Stuarts fired an even lighter shot, but the combination of muzzle velocity and capped shot meant that they probably had a better chance at the normal ranges than the 2pdr, which in 1941 lacked capped shot.

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