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Tanks, cars and national stereotypes

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I was down t'pub with a mate of mine the other day (who is also a CM addict) and we got talking about the relative values of the various tanks produced by different nations. After a few pints were sunken and the conversation started to get a little, well, inebriated, we stumbled across an intriguing hypothesis. We decided that WW2 tank design is closely related to late 20th Century and 21st Century car design and then, in turn, both are linked to popular national stereotypes. Upon waking up the following morning (after a period of stumbling about trying to make tea) I thought that this forum would be an ideal place to discuss our idea. Allow me to present our findings...

British Tanks

All British tanks are sturdy, reliable, ugly and boring. Very much like British cars. And British food. And British women. But, whilst Johnny Foreigner is busy pouring scorn on the poor aesthetic quality of your Churchill, you can give him the kind of beating normally only now found in the headmasters offices of traditionalist public schools like Eton. Also, British tanks are an invaluable addition to any football riot.

French tanks

Franch tanks are very much like French cars. Small and nippy, they are great for doing shopping and picking up girls, but not much good for fighting. Most French tanks also come fitted with an automatic immobiliser that kicks in between 11.30 and 1.30, so that combat duties do not interfere with lunch. Some models are also fitted with loudspeakers that broadcast spoken word versions of pretensious existentialist literature, driving the enemy troops to suicide

Italian tanks

Like French tanks, Italian tanks don't seem to have been designed with combat in mind. They look nice and they impress the ladies, but its all show really when the guns come out. Very much like any Italian car you've ever driven. Beautiful, elegant styling- looks like the dog's bollocks- but nothing much really works. Also the only tanks to have more reverse gears than forward gears. All Italian APCs are tested to ensure that you can fit your mother and your 15 kids in the back. Italian tanks are easliy identified on the battlefield- they are always badly parked

American tanks

Damn, they look cool. The only tanks you can drive whilst smoking a cigar. In fact, American tanks are the exception that proves the rule. The Sherman series are dinky little things that seem totally at odds with the huge petrol guzzling motors that the Americans like to drive back home. However, my detailed research has uncovered some little known facts about the Sherman series that reveals a great deal about the American mindset. Firstly, they are fitted with special optics that make everything look like a threat. Friendly forces, enemy forces, civilians , livestock- everything gets treated to a burst of machinegun fire and a couple of HE shells just to be on the safe side. Secondly, there is an undefended hatch on the bottom of them that allows Mexicans to get in, only to be told they have to clean toilets for a living

Canadian tanks

All Canadian tanks are made by either the British or the Americans. Go figure

Russian tanks

Ever driven a Lada or a Skoda (yeah I know they were Czech, but close enough)? Ever been driven anywhere in one? Ever remind you of a T-34? In the same way that a Lada is a glorified go-kart, so the T-34 is a glorified dumpster. Indestructible and basic with absolutely no frills. Only comes in one colour (baby****-green). The interior of a Russian tank is also a great place to keep warm when you're queuing for 5 hours to buy a potato

German tanks

My favourite! Brutal, efficient Teutonic death-machines. Like a BMW driven like a shortsighted 14 year on crack. Love 'em. Somehow I can see the link between the Panther and the BMW 3 series. Tenuous, I know, but what a beautiful example of engineering in both cases! Excellent choice of colour schemes on both tanks and cars. Only the Germans could come up with something so functional, yet so elegant. It is also rumoured that you can fit about 3 gallons of beer and 52 bratwurst into the fuel tank of a PzIIIF, enough to keep the crew going for about an afternoon or so. Then supplies are replenished by women with unfeasibly large breasts in traditional Bavarian costume whilst the crew don leather shorts and spank each other. Most German tanks have a decent top speed too, allowing them to launch lightening quick advances on the sun-loungers by the pool, beating the Brits time and time again.

Hungarian and Romanian tanks

Grouped together b/c i rarely use them and can't think of anything to say about them. Other than they probably smell like goulash or something. They do look awful pretty though.

That's enough from my insight into WW2 weaponary and how it fits into the wider sweep of history. Hopefully you will all go away informed and enlightened and I will get an honourary PhD from Cambridge for my research

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I'm sure Dorosh will be here soon to point out that most BRITISH tanks were built by the Canadians, not the other way around. And then there was the Ram which was wholly Canadian.

About Shermans, their roundish design has always reminded me of those 1950's American cars. It just needs some chrome.

The Lada equivalent is not so much T-34 as T-26. They're about as fast and about as well protected.

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On the BMW comparison, I always thought the 3 series were plain Panzers and the 5 series were the Panthers.

Also, I can tell you from painful recent experience that they look nice and start well on the quality side, but once you start having to fix things, the repairs are a gaping money pit. (as in $3000 for assorted minor fixes done together). And if you don't send it to the dealer (back to the factory), nobody knows how to fix 'em, then they order the wrong part, and in the end bang it in sideways and screw up the job.

T-34s on the other hand are marvelous machines, rather like the early Toyotas in their cheap functionality. Undermodeled by CM for the same reason Detroit never saw it coming. Neither did the Germans. They still drive with holes rusted straight through the floor. Repairs hah! Who needs repairs!

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Originally posted by JasonC:

T-34s on the other hand are marvelous machines, rather like the early Toyotas in their cheap functionality.

I also rammed a BMW 5 series with a Toyota once, thereby proving once and for all that you can't take out Tigers with T-34s by ramming them.

My loader was much the worse for wear after the engagement, while the Tiger crew (reportedly wearing turbans, the fight took place in London) was only dazed.

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American tanks

Damn, they look cool. The only tanks you can drive whilst smoking a cigar.

I proved that cigars can be smoked in BMW 3 series. Cubans can smoke cigars on their T34s, too - massed stogies replace smoke generators. I doubt the Americans smoke Cuban cigars on their tanks though. I also doubt you can smoke a cigar on a ronson - the ronson is there to light the cigar, not vice versa.


You nee good relations to some maintenance chappy to get your BMW repaired at reasonable rates.



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  • 3 weeks later...

I had the distinct impression that, at least in the early war, British tanks were notoriously unreliable. And pretty ill-designed too. Bolted or riveted amour? Didn't the heavily armoured Matilda have two engines? What was wrong with putting in one more powerful engine? And why did the British make such great use of the Sherman if their own tanks were up to much?

But if your contention that national tank design reflects national car design is correct, then that would explain the fact that people making cars in the UK these days mostly work for companies with Japanese (and German) names... There may well have been a continuity of mediocrity.

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1/ No, not particularly - the Covenanter was a dog, but then it didnt' see service.

2/ Rivets were popular at the time, and rivetd armour was much easier to make than welded

3/ The Brits used the Shermans for the same reason the Americans used them - they couldn't make enough of somethign more useful

Dorosh - Rams were a good APC and artillery tractor as far as tanks go smile.gif

And you guys forgot the self-propelled sheep shearing shed:


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I agree on the toyota vote.I was a mechanic( not an automotiive techician)in the 70s & 80s, still repairing late 60s toyotas 1/2 ton P.U. I was impressed! You couln't drive the things unless you had at least 3/4 ton in in the bed. Or else you stood a good chance of going throught the windshield hitting the brakes & a whiplash popping the clutch.Of course it would have been more comfortable replacing the front seat with an milk crate than using the factory issue,still it took you places where you didn't even want to go. Just like a T34. Ease of repaire & the quality of steel were amazing(a coworker & I spent 1 hour trying to snap a tierod (lunch time) the best we could achieve after cutting & heating was a bent tierod. So yes, the ease of repairs is gone but the quality remain. Nowedays the garage houses : one 92 toy .PU.(250K miles),one 2003 4runner(Liz likes a comfortable AFV),AND...one cuuuuuuute MR2 spyder. Still miss my 64 bug & 68 dodge(slant6)van for some odd reasons.

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I think it's apparent that the problems of the British automotive (and other) industry at the time were with the management culture, not the engineers. While I may not completely agree with Corelli Barnett's analysis in 'The Audit of War', it's hard to argue with his facts.

(As for rivets being popular - rivets were easier. Cast or welded construction was better.)

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