The Psychology of Tanks?

Nov 2018
170
Wales
#1
Has anyone noticed how tanks continue to dominate posts on equipment? We have two concurrent threads running on the Tiger tank here as an example.

So I propose a thread on the psychology surrounding tanks.

There are numerous beliefs concerning tanks, and opinions not all based on rational fact. For example..........

1. Tanks won WW1 for the Allies.
2. Tanks were instrumental during the 'Blitzkrieg years' so German tanks were better.
3. Tigerphobia paralysed Allied tank crews.

Then we have tanks as an excuse for failure.

1. A10 tanks were have said to have been unreliable, having poor tracks and suspensions, they reason why the British lost in France and Greece. In fact they were praised for those same components when beating the Italians.
2. It was the T-34 that stopped the Heer's successful invasion of SU in 41. Actually, the Germans had already faced much better protected British and French tanks over a year earlier, and panzerjaegar units were very successful against said tanks. The Heer also achieved more in half of 1941 than the Red Steamroller did in the next two years, including the events of Kursk and Stalingrad, despite T-34's and IS-2's and all the other powerful kit the Soviets possessed.

Further, we have the opinions of the troops themselves.
1. On the 21st January 1942, a KV-1 commander, by the name of A Bodnar, was ordered by Dmitry Lelyushenko, commander of the 5th army, to support an assault across a frozen lake at Ruza. Aleksandr told his Battalion commander that his tank weighed 48 tons and the ice would not support its weight. Didn't matter said the commander, the tank was required to support the offensive, otherwise the infantry may not attack. The attack went ahead and the tank sunk after a mere 8 metres. The attack succeeded anyway, but it needed the initial tank support to give the troops the boost in morale to charge across terrain that offered no cover. That was the importance of the tank in this case.
2. Quote from the 9th Royal Tank Regiment:
The ability of the Churchill tank to give close up support to infantry through forests of the Reichswald type, both by day and night, was proven. It is believed that no other Allied tank now in service could have done as well, or even have reached the forest over the same country.
Whether true or not, the crews believed this, so much so, that along with its ability to withstand enormous punishment, the Guards 6th Tank Brigade used its influence with the British PM to keep their infantry tanks, when converted in name to the Guards 6th Armoured Brigade.

So here is a thread about one of the most overlooked aspects of the most popular of military army kit, the psychology of tanks.
 
Oct 2016
928
Merryland
#2
I'm told that they're like elephants
untrained troops panic; trained troops deal with like anything else.
like cavalry, tanks without close infantry support are targets. mobile and tough, but still targets.

supposed army manual titles
France; 'Defending against Tanks'
German; 'Attacking Tanks'
US Marines; 'Hunting Tanks is Fun and Easy'
 

Belgarion

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,572
Australia
#4
Tanks are scary. Imagine the reaction of the first German troops to encounter them during WWI. Never mind that they were slow and unreliable, the psychological effect of seeing one come straight towards you would be considerable. They also gave a boost to and provided cover for the advancing Allied troops.
 
Likes: bboomer

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
24,938
Lago Maggiore, Italy
#5
Reading the title of this thread I thought to the psychological aspects of being a member of the crew of a tank.

It's not easy and to make it not so stressing the military commands use some tricks ... for example the interior of a tank has to be white. White color has got a positive psychological effect on the crew.

A great problem is the quality of the driver. A moving tank has got a tremendous kinetic energy and this means that inertia can cause troubles to the gunner and the servant if the driver is not "sensitive". You can hurt yourself simply being in a moving tank. So that, if you know that the driver is a rookie you will be nervous.

But it seems the thread is about something else.
 
Likes: sailorsam
Nov 2018
170
Wales
#6
Reading the title of this thread I thought to the psychological aspects of being a member of the crew of a tank.

It's not easy and to make it not so stressing the military commands use some tricks ... for example the interior of a tank has to be white. White color has got a positive psychological effect on the crew.

A great problem is the quality of the driver. A moving tank has got a tremendous kinetic energy and this means that inertia can cause troubles to the gunner and the servant if the driver is not "sensitive". You can hurt yourself simply being in a moving tank. So that, if you know that the driver is a rookie you will be nervous.

But it seems the thread is about something else.
If you want to talk about the psychological aspects of being in a tank crew, feel free. Its in the remit of this thread :).
 
Nov 2018
170
Wales
#7
Tanks as an excuse?

In 1940 the British complained about their tanks during the Battle of France, after they lost.
In 1941 the British complained about their tanks during the Battle of Greece, after they lost.

We know this was false because they praised the same tank against the Italians 1940/1.

In 1941 the Heer stated that one of the reasons Barbarossa failed was due to superior enemy tanks.
Like Britain, the German higher command agreed and the Panther was designed as a result. Like the British its response was a failure.

In the Panthers case it was the right concept, but too much tank too soon. In the British case it was over 2000 crap and pointless A13 Covenanters built during the scary period after Dunkirk.

At about the same time, we have a fully working tank with a 17pdr. A perfectly functional A30 Challenger was available Aug 1942. The fact that the British did not see the need to deploy said tank speaks volumes; a superior tank was less necessary than an available tank.

We only need to look at France 1940. Most of the German armour actually deployed were Pz I's and Pz II's. The numbers of French tanks with better guns and armour, H35 and 40's, R35 and 40's, Souma S35's and Char B1bis swamps these numbers, and yet they lost.

Tanks are often more a propaganda tool than a real winner. Artillery kills, and infantry holds the land. Tanks are really a piece of lit that gives you an edge, a trump so to speak.
 
Feb 2011
6,148
#8
Tanks weren't just a psychological advantage on the battlefield. They were a psychological advantage back at home where the government needed people to buy war bonds.

Hence Tank Banks started sprouting up in Britain during World War I:







These tanks weren't for battlefield use. They were used to attract people and sell them war bonds. The first tanks tactically left much to be desired, mostly because engines back then weren't so powerful. A tank's skin needs to be many mm thick in order to repel bullets, but thick outer layers of steel meant a heavy tank, and WWI engines weren't powerful enough to support that heavy a weight. So the first tanks had a thick frontal layer but the sides were thin, so once the tanks rushed into enemy lines, their sides got riddled with bullets to the mortal detriment of the crew inside.

However, they were instrumental to raising morale at home. The Germans were the first to use Zeppelin raids, they were the first to use flamethrowers in trench warfare. They were the first to use poison gas, and the first to use 'interrupter' gear so that machine guns could shoot in between a plane's propeller blades. It seemed they were always one step ahead and the British could only play catch-up. So the arrival of the first tanks gave British people hope that the day of German technological superiority was over. And boy were they right, as whereas British tank design improved by leaps and bounds, WW1 German industry never got the resources to mass produce tanks.
 
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Nov 2018
170
Wales
#9
However, they were instrumental to raising morale at home. The Germans were the first to use Zeppelin raids, they were the first to use flamethrowers in trench warfare. They were the first to use poison gas, and the first to use 'interrupter' gear so that machine guns could shoot in between a plane's propeller blades. It seemed they were always one step ahead and the British could only play catch-up. So the arrival of the first tanks gave British people hope that the day of German technological superiority was over. And boy were they right, as whereas British tank design improved by leaps and bounds, WW1 German industry never got the resources to mass produce tanks.
I've cut your post, apologies, but I think this last paragraph is inspired.
 
Oct 2018
1,209
Adelaide south Australia
#10
Tanks are scary. Imagine the reaction of the first German troops to encounter them during WWI. Never mind that they were slow and unreliable, the psychological effect of seeing one come straight towards you would be considerable. They also gave a boost to and provided cover for the advancing Allied troops.

Yeah, apparently the Russians used tanks to terrify the locals in Afghanistan . Seems they liked to run people over, lengthways, starting with the feet. That may be myth, I can't back it up.

Never saw a tank in the army. Got to have some el spiffo helicopter rides though. :hug:
 

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