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Interview with Steven Zaloga


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Great wee interview with Steven Zaloga. Covers s range of topics from 'Fury', through tank fighting on the Western Front and armoured research and sources. There is also a plug for his new book coming out 'Armoured Champion'. Grab a coffee and fifteen minutes :)

 

http://tankandafvnews.com/2015/01/27/zaloga_interview/

 

 

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George MC,

 

Thanks very much for this most insight producing interview. Well worth my time!  Zaloga's not kidding about the model building, either.

 

LCM of USN's Boat Two (which one of my paternal uncles served in from D+1 on: search under the term on the Forums if you'd like to know more) lands a tank on the far side of the Rhine River.

 

http://missing-lynx.com/gallery/dio/rhinedio_szaloga.html

 

Polish 7TP light tank

http://missing-lynx.com/gallery/allied/sz7tp.htm

 

Italian P40 tank seized by the Germans

 

http://missing-lynx.com/gallery/axis/szp40.htm

 

Zaloga seems to have it all: a great job as a well respected military analyst, huge success as an author and tremendous skills at model building and figure painting. To me, the guy's amazing.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

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Fascinating, wonder how this statement will influence folks who really like the weathered look on their vehicles?  :D

 

This included the one other thing they had which was absolutely essential tank equipment if you were in Patton’s Third Army; a broom.  One of the stories that doesn’t get out too much is that any tank unit in Patton’s Third Army had to have a broom.  The reason was that you had to keep your tank swept down and clean.  Because Patton would show up, and Patton had a bad habit of showing up at the 4th Armored Division because it was his favorite Division.  He had people fined if the tank was too dirty.

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Fascinating, wonder how this statement will influence folks who really like the weathered look on their vehicles?  :D

 

I though you knew that this is already simulated in game:

 

Every 4th Armored Division vehicle using a dirty Aris or Umlaut mod is fine - as long as it is not in full C2

 

If it establishes an unbroken command chain with the it's top HQ for more than two minutes, it's morale status automatically drops to "broken" (simulating a visit from George S. himself) :D

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Not sure how true it is, but a caption in one my Zaloga books states that it was taken just after he had chewed them out for all of the sandbags on the tank, which was against 3rd Army reg. 3rd Army had a policy on not allowing the improvised sandbag armor, since tests had not indicated that it was effective and the extra weight was another strain on vehicle maintenance.

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Patton didn't believe the expedient armor was effective and railed against it because it prematurely wore out suspensions and, secondarily, drive trains. ISTR there was also something said about the practice fostering a defensive, hesitant mindset in the armor crews. While the crews were bent on preserving their lives, Patton was concerned with operational strategic mobility and logistics. Decrepit and dead tanks slowed the advance, and overloaded ones required more fuel, other consumables and parts at a time when supply lines were practically to collapse. Interestingly, when I went looking for some info on sandbags on Shermans, I found a Master's Thesis on US field expedient AFV armor in WW II, Korea and Vietnam. A most interesting, pioneering work. There are quite a few surprises in the thesis, including the fact that an entire AD had a standardized sandbag configuration!  The WW II portion begins at page 13 and runs through 41, but is pretty front end loaded, requiring little reading to glean the main goodies.
 

FIELD EXPEDIENT ARMOR MODIFICATIONS TO US ARMORED VEHICLES

 

A thesis presented to the Faculty of the US Army Command and General Staff College in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree

 

MASTER OF MILITARY ART AND SCIENCE Military History

by

Matthew A. Boal, MAJ, USA (AR)

 

www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA451272

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler
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  • 2 weeks later...

I found this tidbit interesting, "And the British side did take disproportionate casualties in Normandy.  And it’s largely for tactical reasons.  I’m not going to get into it, it’s way too complicated to explain, but yes the British did suffer very high losses against the Germans for a variety of reasons.  That was not the case on the US side."  What does he mean by that?  My understanding is that since the British had to contend with the majority of the armored units in Normandy they inevitably suffered more tank losses.  

Edited by SpitfireXI
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  What does he mean by that?

 

I don't know, but some possibilities:

 

"The British systematically failed to coordinate movement and suppressive fires after about mid-morning of the opening day. ... The attack had by then moved beyond the reach of the British batteries on the northern side of the Orne River, and the congestion in the march columns had kept the artillery from moving forward into supporting range. ... The net result was thus an exposed, massed, nearly pure-tank assault pressing forward rapidly without supporting infantry or supporting suppressive fires."

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Goodwood#Analysis

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His point about "it's complex" is spot on. Some things to bear in mind:

1) UK/CW faced the bulk and the best of the German forces in Normandy, by whatever metric you care to use.
2) For the first month of the campaign there were more UK/CW forces ashore than US.

3) After that the US pulled ahead in terms of total numbers, but fairly slowly. It wasn’t till later in the year that the US forces became really preponderant

4) The size of armoured forces ashore was even more lopsidedly British for longer.

5) Despite all that, US casualties (excl airforces) up to the end of August were 124,394
6) UK/CW casualties (again, excl airforces) up to the end of August were 83,045

7) Zaloga writes some good books buuut … he’s kinda populist, and is here speaking to a US audience
8) In this particular article, he’s talking informally and responding off the cuff to questions rather than writing something considered

It’s a good article. I enjoyed it – in particular his comments about Fury ;) – but I think it needs to be taken with a few grains of salt, especially some of his more contentious opinions.

Edited by JonS
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I found this tidbit interesting, "And the British side did take disproportionate casualties in Normandy.  And it’s largely for tactical reasons.  I’m not going to get into it, it’s way too complicated to explain, but yes the British did suffer very high losses against the Germans for a variety of reasons.  That was not the case on the US side."  What does he mean by that?  My understanding is that since the British had to contend with the majority of the armored units in Normandy they inevitably suffered more tank losses.  

 

Having the bulk of the German armored units in front of you will lead to higher tank losses, that's part of it, not the whole picture though.

 

 

Vanir's quote is relevant:

 

 

 

"The British systematically failed to coordinate movement and suppressive fires after about mid-morning of the opening day. ... The attack had by then moved beyond the reach of the British batteries on the northern side of the Orne River..."

 

...its supported by gentlemen like Hastings, who I find you should never read with anything but a bit of scrutiny, the man is a journalist first and very much a historian second. 

 

 

 

JonS also brings up a lot of good points, particularly:

 

 

 

3) After that the US pulled ahead in terms of total numbers, but fairly slowly. It wasn’t till later in the year that the US forces became really preponderant

 

...which also ties into the fact that the apparent lack of effective combined-arms co-ordination between British infantry and their armor support may have to do with the great husbanding of British manpower. Remember, the British that landed in Normandy was the last great army they were able to muster - we're talking bottom of the barrel. They landed with what they had, not necessarily what they wanted, and the 'You may not get the reinforcements you need' was something that would've weighed on every regiment commander.

 

I mean, full disclosure, but Zaloga is my husbando. I deeply respect his works if only for the dismantling of the Panzer Myth and challenging what was once a very dominated field of British authors in the late 60s and 70s. Unfortunately now the pendulum has swung the other way in English-language histories, and its quite visibly US-Centric.

 

The US also had the advantage of 'standing on the shoulders' of the British, Soviets and German doctrine-wise. Attaches in North Africa and being able to be (distant and detached) spectators to the first 3 years of the war in the West and East gave the US a lot of practical and theoretical groundwork. They were able to see, at little cost, what the two sides were doing right, what they were doing wrong, and how best to proceed. Its an argument that Hofmann makes in Through Mobility We Conquer and I always found it compelling.

 

Stuff translated from the German remains useless as always however, with a few shining exceptions. I die a little bit inside every time someone take's Carius's word as law.

Edited by Rinaldi
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