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Boeman

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About Boeman

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Converted

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    Toronto
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    Military history; web design
  1. What made the T-34 a quantum leap was that it first tank platform to achieve the correct balance of mobility, firepower and armor protection whereas other tanks were deficient in one or more of the other three. It forced the entire world to re-think the concept tank design with its sloped armour and wide tracks; the Germans most of all. Regarding reliability, it is worth pointing out that Russian engineers were relatively inexperienced by comparison to their western counterparts as Russia itself was emerging from a largely agricultural economy though they did some have brilliant minds among them. Originally, the initial batches of the T-34 were made in western Russia, but as the German invasion rolled inexorably on, these facilities were dismantled and transferred east of the Urals – effectively putting Russia’s industrial capacity in disarray as new facilities of lesser quality were hastily constructed. Another factor to consider was the urgency to mass produce tanks in ever greater numbers even with a shortage of skilled workers. Plant managers were under threat of death if quotas were not met and so supplemented forced labour (women and teenagers) to meet their expected targets. A largely unskilled work force churning out tanks under appalling conditions would naturally lead to many T-34s with poor riveting, welding, etc. In practice, the average T-34 was capable of traveling about 200km before reaching its end of shelf life. This was considered acceptable by the Soviet high command as most tanks would see their demise long before that accumulated distance was reached. As for its other deficiencies, the Russians did correct the 2-man turret with the T-34/85 and addressed the issue of cramped conditions simply by employing tank operators of smaller stature. It is no secret that the German tanks on average utilized superior optics, had a better interior layout, wider field of view and fielded radios which provided them with innumerable advantages. But let’s not forget as well, of course, that many of these tanks were not without their own deficiencies- the tendency by designers to over-engineer leading to reliability issues, especially early models of late-war vehicles. Having said that, the T-34 is not the mythical wonder weapon that it is often praised to be. Certainly, it was not the best tank by August, 1945. Still, it proved to be a war winning platform as a result of the concept of balanced stats in addition to the volume produced. At the very least, it left an indelible impression on those whose task it was to design mobile armour for the next generation. The Russians didn’t just have the T-34/85 at their disposal, they had a wide range of platforms by 1943 such as the SU-85, SU-100 and even SU-152 which were able to penetrate the heavier German tanks. The IS-2 was also being introduced in 1944 to provide the Soviets with a heavy assault weapon for spearhead operations, a class of tank for which the Americans relied upon the British for. As for the American 76mm, it did provide better penetration with HVAP ammo on upgraded Stug III and Panzer IVs but proved impotent against the Panther’s frontal armour. This is significant as D-Day onwards saw Panthers accounting for half the Panzer force arrayed against the Allies in Normandy. By contrast, the Russians were very quick to recognize threats posed by new German vehicles and upgraded their arsenal accordingly whereas the Americans moved at comparatively glacial pace. By the time they took it seriously enough to finally field 90mm solutions via the Pershing and Jackson, Germany’s defeat was already assured. Not quite. While the Pershing was a vast improvement over the Sherman in terms of armour and armament, it used the same engine which had to cope with much heavier weight. As a result, it was a slow and difficult to maneuver. The British Centurion was an all-around better solution that actually did fit the major requirements of a post-war main battle tank. The shelf-life of the Pershing was measured in just a few years compared to Centurions which are still in use by some armies today. It could be argued that the American leadership prioritized Sherman production with the full knowledge that it was outclassed in an effort to put more tanks on the ground thus, adopting a similar strategy used by the Russians of employing numerical superiority at the cost of expending more lives. However, if you examine the perception held by military bureaucrats, specifically Lesley Mcnair and George Patton, one can spot a reverence for the M4 Sherman that indicated an astonishing level of willful ignorance. General Mcnair actively fought the development of the Pershing from its initial proposal in 1942 and beyond even despite having good intelligence on tank specifications for the Panther in 1943. Only after the Battle of the Bulge was there a tacit acknowledgement on the inadequacy of the Sherman to take on heavy German Panzers by the Pershing’s detractors. The British, to their credit, saw the shortcomings of the Sherman and retrofitted their M4s with the 17-pounder which was equivalent to the penetrative qualities of the German L-70 gun (and even better with tungsten shot). When these were offered to Americans forces prior to D-Day, Omar Bradley, in his belief that they were unnecessary, rejected the offer out of hand. He would later admit it was an error on his part. In the end, US tank forces were able to grind down the German Panzer arm through sheer force of numbers and air superiority. It still leaves one wondering though, how many lives could have been saved had the development of heavier tanks like the 90mm Pershing not been stonewalled to the degree that it was. It is a tragedy brought about not by the lack of innovation in American tank design, but by the worst possible reason of all, plain old fashioned hubris. And THAT is my point!
  2. The implications of the stock market crash was felt worldwide. However, its effect among the major participants of World War II were not universal. While not hit initially as hard as the Americans, for Britain, the repercussions of post 1929 would linger on for a longer period. Britain was already weakened by the Great War and the Depression further exacerbated its problems as an empire in decline. Heavy industry was most affected with some towns in northern England seeing as much as 70% unemployment. The situation was not helped by the fact that Winston Churchill, then Chancellor, enacted a policy of floating the Pound Sterling on the gold standard in 1925 to a level before the Great War which served to make British goods more expensive thus, slowing the economic recovery in the 20s. This same policy would have disastrous results in the 30s. In 1927, the formation of the Experimental Mechanized Force by the British military was the world’s first armoured brigade. It took part in several exercises to prove the concept of mechanized warfare; specifically, the benefits of having an independent mechanized force with its own operational and strategic focus. The results of the 2 year exercises proved the viability of the concept but problems in the force organization and the small scope of the maneuvers left the brass, many of whom were highly conservative and some believing horse cavalry still had a role to play, unconvinced. When the Experimental Force was dispersed in 1929, several months prior to the start of the Great Depression, advocates of tank units working in tandem with motorized infantry would not see another chance to impress upon their generals the urgency of this new reality when the stock market crash finally did hit. With the budget cuts across the board and the political establishment in no mood for war, tank units were relegated to serving as adjuncts to large traditional forces, the same WW1 structure which put the British at a tactical disadvantage over the Germans at the start of the Second World War. Consequently, the influence of tank design was subsequently focused on mechanical reliability and speed but with light armament. Like the Americans, the British were slow to adapt as they continued using the same emphasis on their design until late in the war. The effect of the Great Depression on the United States is already well known. The Americans were better able to recover from it due in large part to the automobile industry as well as government economic stimulus initiatives. In the end, it was less about the economic downturn and more about the policy of isolationism and the resulting neglect for its armoured forces. That was painfully obvious when the Americans entered the war with flawed doctrines for tank warfare and with tank designs that better served plant managers who needed to meet production quotas over protecting the lives of tank crews. This would eventually be corrected at great cost in lives and fairly late in the war at that. For Germany and Russia, the Great Depression had the opposite effect. Germany was already heavily restricted by the Versailles treaty at the point the Great Depression hit. While the general population suffered mightily in the first few years, the level of poverty and depravation paved the way open for Hitler who quickly denounced the Versailles treaty in 1935 after taking power. Under sweeping economic reforms, German engineers were able to set their fertile minds to the task of designing weapons of war under the guise of numerous civil industries. Designers tended to stress modularity and performance which gave German arms production the ability to adapt to new requirements for upcoming variants and designs. Despite initial Germans tanks being lighter than that of their western opponents, their combined arms doctrine and advanced tactics helped compensate them in the early war years until heavier platforms became available. Russia, by virtue of having government control over all factors of production and with an economy that was not tied to the rest of Europe, was insulated by the Great Depression which had ravaged others. Stalin’s five year plan saw the rise of Russia from a backward rural country to a leading economic power, especially in steel production. The economy grew as much as 400% in some areas. American and even German engineers who could not find employment in their own countries traveled to the Russia to assist with the construction of machinery necessary for the plan’s implementation. Soviet engineers themselves were not shy about incorporating foreign technologies into their own tank designs - Walter Christie’s suspension system being among them. Many technological advances and ideas with military applications which could not be realized elsewhere as a result of budget cutbacks were happily put to use in Russia. Due to the harsh climate, reliability and ease of maintenance was a necessity that would punctuate all Soviet designs from small arms to aircraft. The Russians designers also had another aid in the form of practical experience as a result of the battle of Khalkhin Gol which highlighted the vulnerabilities of the BT series of tanks. The battle’s aftermath inspired Mikhail Koshkin to develop the BT’s successor that would come to be known as the T-34. Overall, the Great Depression’s impact on the ability for countries to innovate, especially in the field of tank design was profound – some more than others. Lack of funding to continue the testing of new concepts on a larger scale saw Britain drop from a leading advocate of mechanized warfare back to World War One levels, for an example. By stark contrast, Germany and Russia actually came out the Depression with a net plus which facilitated an environment for new ideas. Where the establishment governing the Western Allies were quick to dismiss the potential of the tank in the 1930s, the Germans and Russians saw opportunities to position themselves in an effort to expand beyond contemporary pre-conceptions when the need arose. While the Depression certainly isn't the only factor with respect to tank design, to downplay it as insignificant is to ignore the economic and political realities of the time. On the contrary, the Americans were the least agile of the major powers when it came to introducing new classes of tanks as the situation warranted. I'd say it was the Russians who got the concept of the modern tank right with the T-34.
  3. You can thank the great depression for that. Following the 1929 stock market crash, drastic cuts to the British military saw programs which oversaw innovative tank designs, development and tactics suddenly disappear overnight. What was left was a reversion back to the old WW1 doctrine when war finally did break out.
  4. Am I the only one who thinks the OP comes off a major douche bag? Employing the use of passive intimidation in order to avoid paying a nominal fee for a movie ticket. Really? I shudder to think what other things this guy does in the name of entitlement. As for the review, it reads off like it could have been narrated by James Sawyer from Lost; shallow and non-erudite. One exception being Josh Holloway's character having a vastly more expanded vocabulary.
  5. War Thunder and World of Tanks have been all the rage for free-to-play WW2 combat. As they appeal to a broad audience, less of an emphasis is placed on realistic simulation. At the very least, War Thunder does factor the impact of shells on various components on the vehicle. Bottom line however, is that the game IS buckets of fun, as you say.
  6. Zazzle, as I understand it, is a company that sells user-designed apparel. It is a service that enables graphic artists to create designs for transfer onto T-shirts, mugs, posters and other items ordered by customers who browse Zazzle.com. The artist (or most likely, hobbyist) independently sets up their own virtual store in Zazzle from which they sell their designs to be stenciled on various apparel and other gift items. For an example, Artist A designs a logo that can be stenciled on a T-shirt. A customer orders a T-shirt with said design. Zazzle prints the T-shirt and delivers it to the customer; handling all of the logistics for designer A. Designer A gets his cut and naturally Zazzle get its share of the proceeds. There are probably WW2 posters that have been created true to form while others may have been modified to taste for satirical purposes. The final output is up to individual designers, most of whom are just part time hobbyists that have a copy of Photoshop laying around as opposed to historians who have conducted meticulous research. In other words, I wouldn't rely on Zazzle.com if historical accuracy were of utmost importance.
  7. A newly created account with a highly provocative entry on the second posting? I vote for spam bot.
  8. Chris Robert's current spiritual successor to Wing Commander is Star Citizen. It's a crowd sourced MMO project that plays like Privateer. You acquire your own ship and you can join various different factions or go it alone. There may or may not be a single player component. One of the most interesting aspects of this MMO is the micro transaction economy that takes on the form of users creating their own ships using external 3D modeling applications and if approved, selling them on the Star Citizen marketplace. https://robertsspaceindustries.com/about-the-game
  9. Lately there has been a trend of old classics being re-released with updated engines and major bug fixes; not to mention full compatibility with windows 7/8. I've been playing icewind dale 1 and bauldar's gate enhanced edition for the first time and having a blast with it. Whenever a sequel to a beloved classic series appears like fallout 3, I may take interest and actually start playing the series from the first game (no matter how antiquated the gameplay mechanics) right up until the latest release to ensure I enjoy the maximum benefit from the single player backstory. Enhancing old classics would definitely facilitate this (in addition to earning additional revenue) rather than force players to sift through abandonware sites.
  10. The Tiger is disqualified from some of that criteria due to the aforementioned reasons previously given. Although Wittman helped to cement the Tiger's reputation in Caen, ironically enough he was also responsible for helping to dispel the Tiger invincibility mythos when he lead an attack with four Tigers. Three of them were knocked out by a single Sherman Firefly and Wittman's Tiger was itself supposedly destroyed by a fighter bomber. It you were listing tanks based on infamy alone however, then the Tiger would certainly rank at the top.
  11. In the case of the Sherman, lessons from the M24 and M18 revealed that two transfer cases could have significantly lowered the profile and so in effect, it really should have been lower. It was an engineering failure that cost many lives. True. But in turn the Sherman proved quite vulnerable to the Stug and Panzer IV. It was only versus Japanese light tanks in particular did the Sherman have any overwhelming advantage in tank vs tank engagements. Artillery is often defined as "large-caliber guns used in warfare on land" and it is in that context that I classify the 88 as an artillery piece. Yes, it was created primarily as an anti-aircraft gun initially but its use was quickly expanded to encompass two other roles; that being anti-tank and as conventional artillery, all of which it was able to do with equal ability. In effect, the 88’s primary role was whatever the Germans wanted it to be as need arose. Sure, I can accept that. Still, it is an innovation worth mentioning. Yes, the M24 Chaffee was a light tank built for reconnaissance. The armour was lighter but it did have the speed to scoot and shoot, a tactic best employed on the European front given what they had to work with. It's smaller size made it quite difficult to hit and the armament allowed for it to hold its own, It was certainly able to deal with any recon vehicles the Germans had. For the mission it was assigned, the M24 was certainly not left wanting whereas the Sherman, designed as a break-through tank and then forced into the role of the main battle tank, proved problematic in the roles it was asked to perform. In any case, insofar as WW2 tanks are concerned, the M24 Chaffee belongs somewhere in there – my humble opinion of course.
  12. I would have to agree on the Tiger needing to be brought down a few rungs. It's effect was primarily psychological; thanks in part to Michael Wittmann's exploits in Caen. As a practical weapon, it was under powered, slow, costly to build, too heavy for many smaller bridges and was by most accounts, a maintenance nightmare. At the other end of the spectrum was the Sherman which, while being easy to produce, easy to maintain, light enough to facilitate transport almost everywhere, also suffered from numerous technical shortcomings that should see it positioned much lower than second place. The Sherman was a hastily designed platform with the first iterations using an aviation engine thus, giving the tank its high distinctive profile which presented allied opponents with an easier target. Although the Sherman was effective against light vehicles and infantry, its protection and armament was wholly inadequate against much of the heavier armour fielded against them. More often than naught, US, British and Canadian Shermans found themselves routinely outclassed by German panzers such as the Panther and most especially the 88 artillery gun. The Sherman certainly had a few neat innovations going for it, including a stabilized turret that allowed for accurate firing while on the move and a highly adaptive chassis to enable it as a platform for everything from flamer throwers to a makeshift rocket battery. In the end however, it was their massive numbers that overwhelmed the Germans rather than its technical abilities. In my humble opinion, the M24 Chafee, which successfully addressed all the shortcomings of the Sherman and then some, should be on that list somewhere.
  13. I'm not sure how far they expect to get with this but it certainly adds an interesting dimension; especially given the timing of the "Lone Survivor" film which is due for release. Original FP article here
  14. Mirror surfaced drones, anyone?
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