British and American tank designs of WW2

Nov 2019
338
United States
A few weeks ago while reading a thread on this site the question arose in my mind that it is surprising that the British and Americans didn't collaborate more, and importantly earlier, with tank designs. There seems to have been a fairly large amount of collaboration with aircraft, almost from bottom to top. There even is a fair amount of collaboration with destroyers designs. Radar design was facilitated immensely by the British collaborating with MIT.
However with tanks it appears that both nations just worked independently. Yes the United States sent thousands of Stuart’s, Lee’s, and Sherman’s to the British, however that was simply a matter of sending a product the US designed without any real input from the Brits.
After Dunkirk, the British tank reserves were demolished, worse analysis by the British staff indicated that all the tank designs used in France were inferior to the tanks needed to defeat German tanks. Additionally the very large disproportion between very light tanks and medium tanks meant there was little effective capacity to resist the Germans. The medium tanks themselves were extremely under gunned.
Unfortunately it was decided to simply refill the tunnel by producing the same tanks or very slightly better options, with no real focus on building potentially better tanks. This was due primarily to a lack of production capacity.
Both countries suffered during the interwar period from the misinterpretation of how to use tanks effectively. What the Germans had conceived prior to the beginning of the war, took both the Brits and Americans many years to absorb at the highest levels of command and procurement.
This is to take nothing away from the Sherman, as I will admit it had many admirable qualities, but in comparison to the T-34, it was weak.
What I can't fully understand is why, given the strengths and weaknesses of both countries design and procurement services they hadn't fully integrated for a series of designs.
Britain was building a superior gun in the 17 pounder, only surpassed by the 90mm the Americans eventually utilized in the later tank designs. Both countries were making great engines, America was designing a better suspension and track.
Both of the two working together might have built an amazing weapon.
 
Sep 2012
1,222
Tarkington, Texas
The British had an older set of factories and plants that did not produce large numbers on demand. The British Tank Industry also suffered from a design flaw, the flat cars used to ship tanks by rail were quite narrow, because they had to go through narrow tunnels. Where the Americans were developing Aircraft engines to use in Tanks, the British were using engines already in production like the Bus engine used in the Matilda. Faulty engines were a problem in many British designs.

The Sherman was an older design than what the Germans were using. While the US and British were trying to combat German tank designs, the Germans were trying to catch up with Soviet designs. The Sherman reached North Africa in time to be better than the Mark III and Mark IV, then the Tiger appeared in Tunisia! Design wise the Sherman never caught up. The Panther also beat up on British and US designs.

The 17 Pounder had problems with backlash dust and the Pershing's 90mm also had problems.

The British never were able to build new tank designs in adequate numbers.

Pruitt
 
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Oct 2019
82
Near the dogbowl
It was my understanding that, once war between the UK/France and Germany began (and more importantly France was jellified) that were was a good bit of data and plan sharing with the British and US. Part of the issue for the British was that they needed to keep their production lines running and did not want to give over all tank production to the Americans.

It is an interesting note that, the 17 lber was offered for review (and later acquisition by the US). The US did not want it for the M4, and was already producing tubes for its 3in for antitank guns and the M10.

Now what I don't understand is why the British didn't build M4s.

This is to take nothing away from the Sherman, as I will admit it had many admirable qualities, but in comparison to the T-34, it was weak.
You mistook that fine Detroit art for something the Hun would produce. Hey all capitalists look alike...:)
Except of course the M4 was a better tank for Wallied needs...
*Better optics.
*Better crew layout.
*Equal armor.
*More reliable. Soviets could build vehicles that only went a few hundred kilometers: they were closer to logistical links to rebuild vehicles or get new vehicles there. US had to ship them across an ocean, and the vehicle had to survive everywhere on the globe.
*Equal gun. Later 76mm had better penetration than the 85mm. Both fielded good HE loads at the time.
*Had something called a radio.
*T34 had better cross country travel. M4 had generally better road travel and was designed so.
*T34 had a better diesel engine. Soviets were ahead of everyone in diesel engines.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
5,006
Dispargum
Maybe someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Americans were able to cast the Sherman's turret in one continuous dome. Most other countries, including Britain, could not do that. Most WW2 tank turrets were flat, not domed like the Sherman. If the British lacked the know-how to cast domed turrets, that was one reason not to collaborate. They could not have built Shermans in Britain even if given the plans.

Also, while the British shared a lot of technology with us, I don't think we shared much with them. I think the idea was more that we could produce so much more than they could so let us produce the best possible stuff. Good question though - Why not mount a 17 pounder on a Sherman?
 
Oct 2019
82
Near the dogbowl
Also, while the British shared a lot of technology with us, I don't think we shared much with them. I think the idea was more that we could produce so much more than they could so let us produce the best possible stuff. Good question though - Why not mount a 17 pounder on a Sherman?
Americans could build fully cast turrets: its why the M3 was in production for a bit until the technology was developed. I do not know about other countries.
They looked at a 17 lber but did not like the lack of remaining space in the turret. They also did not like the extremely low HE fill of a 17lb shell.
Remember, the Wallies were facing STUGs, PZIS and dude with panzerfausts. Big cats were very few and did not have advantage in the more urbanized West.
 
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Nov 2019
338
United States
Where the Americans were developing Aircraft engines to use in Tanks, the British were using engines already in production like the Bus engine used in the Matilda. Faulty engines were a problem in many British designs.

The Sherman was an older design than what the Germans were using.

The 17 Pounder had problems with backlash dust and the Pershing's 90mm also had problems.

The British never were able to build new tank designs in adequate numbers.

Pruitt
The Brits actually we're putting modified Merlin's in some of their tanks.
The Sherman was actually a newer design than any German tank not named Panther or Tiger
The 17 pounder was used in the Comet and also for later decades in the Challenger.
The 90mm was the main gun of both the Pershing and the M48

Now what I don't understand is why the British didn't build M4s.

Except of course the M4 was a better tank for Wallied needs...
*Better optics.
*Better crew layout.
*Equal armor. Not sure about that. Every thing have read said the Germans found the T-34 armor hard to crack for anything under a 76mm.
*More reliable. Soviets could build vehicles that only went a few hundred kilometers: they were closer to logistical links to rebuild vehicles or get new vehicles there. US had to ship them across an ocean, and the vehicle had to survive everywhere on the globe.
*Equal gun. Later 76mm had better penetration than the 85mm. Both fielded good HE loads at the time. Again my reading says the 85 could crack a Tiger at distance.
*Had something called a radio.
*T34 had better cross country travel. M4 had generally better road travel and was designed so.
*T34 had a better diesel engine. Soviets were ahead of everyone in diesel engines.
Other than a few notes we are simpatico.

Maybe someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Americans were able to cast the Sherman's turret in one continuous dome. Most other countries, including Britain, could not do that. Most WW2 tank turrets were flat, not domed like the Sherman. If the British lacked the know-how to cast domed turrets, that was one reason not to collaborate. They could not have built Shermans in Britain even if given the plans.

Also, while the British shared a lot of technology with us, I don't think we shared much with them. I think the idea was more that we could produce so much more than they could so let us produce the best possible stuff. Good question though - Why not mount a 17 pounder on a Sherman?
They did put a 17lber on a Sherman, it was called the Firefly.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,667
Sydney
During the inter-war period there was no tank industry , no tank development and no tank budget
the Brits were screaming for tanks and when shown the medium M3 simply stated it was junk but they wanted thousands of them

there was some more purposeful design work done on the M4 , on the basis of re using as much part of the M3 as possible
then the Army gave the orders to manufacturers ,
they were slow to start but by mid 1942 a flood of machines came out of the american industrial cornucopia

The Sherman was a very good infantry tank , comfortable and reliable , it gave good service through the war
the German had better machines on paper but the main fighting was infantry support for which the Sherman available in quantity excelled

the early T34 had plenty of it's own problem ,it was very camped , the gearbox was to weep for , if hit the crew was toast and no radio mostly
the apex of the model was the T34-85 in late 43 , which was pretty good
 

MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,384
Kansas
the early T34 had plenty of it's own problem ,it was very camped , the gearbox was to weep for , if hit the crew was toast and no radio mostly
the apex of the model was the T34-85 in late 43 , which was pretty good
No need to be harsh. Just because you had to bang the tank into gear with good solid Russian wrench doesn't mean you should be hating on it :)
 
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May 2019
289
Northern and Western hemispheres
I'm not interested in tanks as much as I am aircraft and warships. I've always liked the M-26 Pershing. It had a 90mm gun and was more than capable of taking on the Heer's Panther and Tiger.