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Re: [GZG] How big is my tank?

From: John Atkinson <johnmatkinson@g...>
Date: Mon, 18 Jul 2005 12:06:25 +0200
Subject: Re: [GZG] How big is my tank?

On 7/18/05, Samuel Penn <> wrote:

> What is a Main Battle Tank? Are they big tanks or average tanks?

Once upon a time, there were tanks.  Back in WWII, there were two
types of tanks.  Big hulking landship-style tanks, and small
relatively zippy tanks like the FT-17.	These became known as "Light"
and "Heavy" tanks.

By WWII, tanks had split into more categories.	You had light tanks
which were basically recon vehicles.  You have "infantry support"
tanks which were typically 'medium' in weight, but some were heavier. 
There were heavy tanks like the Char 1b.  You also had what the
British called "Cruiser" tanks which were armed with anti-armor work
in mind and were typically also medium-weight.

Over the war years, these fine theoretical distinctions were
determined to be so much bullshit on the battlefield.  Guns became
larger caliber and higher velocity as 2pdr, 3cm, and 37mm guns became
incapable of penetrating the armor of improved tanks.  When they got
to the point of firing effective high explosive shells, the
distinction between "infantry support" and "cruiser" tanks
disappearer.  The weights also shot up.  The Pzkpfw III, which was a
respectable medium-weight anti-armor armed tank in 1940 was by
mid-1944 a reconaissance vehicle and so considered a 'light tank'.

The tank guns got bigger, and heavier velocity.  The Russians were
using 85mm, the US 90mm (in limited numbers-the mainstay was the
76mm), and the Germans 88mm.  At that point, it became possible for a
vehicle with the mobility associated with a "medium tank" to carry a
gun capable of punching a "heavy tank" at battlefield ranges.

This became known as the "Main Battle Tank".  Panthers, T-34/85s, and
M-26s arguably all fit into this category.  You could make a case that
M-4A3E8s were used in this role and performed nearly as well as or
better than T-34s every time they were match against each other.  It
is significant to note that excepting the Panther and M-26, these were
all upgrades of classic "Medium Tanks".

So, a Main Battle Tank is the modern all-singing, all-dancing tank
which hunts other tanks, supports infantry, is fast cross-country, and
carries enough armor to defeat any weapon not designed specifically to
destroy MBTs.

These are all gross generalizations, and as such could easily be
picked apart line by line with specific refutations, but it's enough
to understand the intent of the term.

"Thousands of Sarmatians, Thousands of Franks, we've slain them again
and again.  We're looking for thousands of Persians."
--Vita Aureliani

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