Thursday, November 13, 2008

New equipment in the Desert in early 1942

The British had received Crusader II tanks with thicker armour but still very unreliable mechanically. They still did not have capped armour piercing rounds to deal with German face-hardened armour. Only the American Stuart tanks had capped armour piercing rounds, but only of 37mm caliber.

The Germans started to receive new Pzkw III tanks ("Specials") with the 50mm Kwk L60 gun developed to deal with the Russian T-34 tanks. While most of the Pzkw III tanks on hand only had the 50mm KwK L42 guns, they had 19 of the Specials by the beginning of the Gazala battle.

The one bright spot for the British is that they now were receiving American-made Lee tanks (they were generally called Grants, but the first arrivals were actually named the General Lee tank). The Lee and Grant tanks had a hull-mounted 75mm gun in a sponson. The gun was medium velocity, but fired a useful HE round which was useful against German soft vehicles, infantry, and artillery. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

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