Today in AFJ History

December 15, 2013  

1944: Improve our tanks

A field-grade officer suggests the U.S. emulate the German Tiger VI tank.

From the archive: December 16, 1944

Here’s a letter to the editor from an unnamed lieutenant colonel.

U.S. vs. German tanks

An article in the August 5[, 1944,] issue of the Journal raises considerable adverse criticism in my opinion. Namely, “but the medium Sherman seems to give the Armored soldiers what they want,” from the article entitled “U.S. Tanks.” Certainly the U.S. soldiers will fight in the Sherman Tank. It is the best we have.

They would also fight with blowguns or clubs if that were all we had. Indeed we have come a long way from the days of 1941 when we called a tarp-covered truck a tank. That is no reason, however, for anyone to sit back and say, “Ah, now we have it, The Perfect Tank.” There are several features of the German Tiger (Pz Kw Vi) and the Panther (Pz Kw V) which should be studied seriously, and I believe incorporated in our own armor. Namely:

1. The low silhouette, (less visible than ours).
2. The vehicle Commander’s cupola and vision slits, (far superior to ours).
3. The frontal glacis plate, (thicker, and set at a better angle than our own).
4. The track locking device, (in which a German tank can spin itself about on one track, which our vehicles cannot think of doing).
5. The German 88mm gun, (whose high velocity and flat trajectory made it a superior weapon to anything we had, until the 90mm TD’s entered the field).
6. Wider tracks, (far better flotation).
7. Better ammunition storage, (superior to our own).

Your opening paragraph, in which it is stated that we drove the Germans’ armor down the Normandy Peninsula, in my opinion is erroneous. It is my belief that Superior Numbers, not Superior Armor, drove the Germans back.
Lt. Col. XXX