Sunday, January 6, 2013

More on Tanks

If you read my previous entry, you might be wondering 'with such awesome tanks, how did the Russians suffer such huge losses during Germany's initial invasion?'

The answer is pretty fascinating in its own right. The German tanks had radio communication with each other whereas the early Russian tanks did not. This resulted in two very different types of tank tactics.

The German tanks were able to have very fluid battle-field command that could adapt to field conditions. This allowed the German tanks to be highly mobile and to spread apart over great distances.

The Russian tanks were given complicated strategy briefings before going into battle that were all based on time-tables. If battle-field conditions changed there was no way to organize modifications to the plans. For individual tank unit commanders to communicate to the other tanks, they would use hand signals and flags. This required the Russian tanks to stay grouped closely together so the other tank drivers could see the command flags.

The German tank commanders, upon seeing this, would radio orders to the mobile German tanks to sweep behind these Russian tank clumps and wipe them out.

Another reason the Russian tanks were often defeated, in the early phase of the invasion, was that the German tank crews were trained to fire their tanks while moving. The Russian tankers had to stop their tanks in order to fire their main guns. This allowed German 88's to zero in on Russian tanks even during fast-paced battles.

All of this led to a phenomenon known as the 'Gun-Armor' spiral. Once the Russian Winter set in, the Germans developed tanks with heavier guns to take out the main Russian heavy tank. The Russians then developed thicker armor to resist the new guns. This tit-for-tat tank development continued so that by war's end the tanks on both sides were 10 times more powerful than they were in the early days of the German invasion.

Originally posted on January 5, 2007 on Myspace.

Unfortunately I lost my copy of this book after writing these two posts. A real pity because it was a good one that I obviously was really enjoying. Maybe I'll track it down on Amazon...

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