Kakšen je bil rezultat prve tankovske bitke?

Kakšen je bil rezultat prve tankovske bitke?



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Danes, 24. aprila, je obletnica prve tankovske bitke. Kot je navedeno na tej strani Wikipedije, so šli trije britanski tanki proti trem nemškim tankom, vendar se o rezultatih ne omenja posebej v zvezi s tanki sami.

Ali obstajajo poročila o bitki, ki so posebej osredotočena na oklepne elemente?


Kako so se dogodki odvijali

  1. Trije nemški A7V in enako število britanskih enot Mark IV (dve samici in en moški) so podpirali svoje pehotne enote v operacijah. Samice so imele samo mitraljeze, samček pa je bil oborožen s 6 -metrsko pištolo.
  2. Po naključju sta se obe odredi srečali.
  3. Ženska Mk. IV so se morali po poškodbi umakniti, saj je bila njihova oborožitev neuporabna proti nemškim oklepom.
  4. Moški MK. IV je prevzel pobudo in izločil vodilnega nemškega A7V, ki je dosegel več zadetkov po sovražniku, tudi ko je bil tank onemogočen in je bil evakuiran, kar je povzročilo smrt 5 nemških vojakov.
  5. Preostali umik A7V.
  6. Moški Mk IV se obrne proti nemški pehoti, okrepljeni s 7 tanki Whippet.
  7. Nemška pehota uniči štiri od 7 Whippetov.
  8. Nemška minometna ekipa je zadela podplat Male Mk IV., Zaradi česar je izgubila sled, zaradi česar je bila opuščena.
  9. Nemci so uspešno izterjali zapuščeni AV7 Wilhelma Blitza.

Dokumentirana dejstva

Ta stran omenja in citiram:

A7V bi bil 24. aprila 1918 v drugi bitki pri Villers -Bretonneuxu v bitki, v kateri ni bilo jasnega zmagovalca.

Če pogledamo operativno zgodovino tanka A7V, dobimo kratek pregled bitke:

Prvi tank proti tankovskemu boju v zgodovini se je zgodil 24. aprila 1918, ko so trije A7V (vključno s številko šasije 561, znano tudi kot "Nixe"), ki so sodelovali v napadu s pehoto, mimogrede srečali tri Mark IV (dva tanka, oborožena s strojnico in en samček z dvema 6-metrskima pištolama) v bližini Villers-Bretonneuxa.

Med bitko, tanki na obeh straneh so bili poškodovani.

Po besedah ​​poveljnika glavnega tanka, poročnika Franka Mitchella, žensko Mk IV so padli nazaj potem, ko so jih oklepne krogle poškodovale. Oni so bili ne morejo poškodovati A7V z lastnimi mitraljezi.

Mitchell je nato napadel vodilni nemški tank, ki mu poveljuje podporočnik Wilhelm Biltz, s 6-kilogramskim lastnim tankom in ga izločil.

Trikrat ga je zadel in ubil pet članov posadke, ko so rešili. Nato je nadaljeval z razstreljevanjem primerov nekaj pehote. Dva preostala A7V sta se nato umaknila.

Stran za nemškega poveljnika v bitki vsebuje nekaj več informacij:

Med bitko je njegov tank naletel na skupino treh britanskih tankov Mark IV - dveh "ženskih tankov", oboroženih le z mitraljezi in enim "moškim tankom", oboroženim s 6 -kilogramskimi puškami.

Oba britanska tanka sta bila poškodovana in umaknjena, saj njihove mitraljeze niso vplivale na Blitzov A7V. V tekaški bitki, ki je sledila, sta oba tanka manevrirala, da bi se izognila ognju drugega, medtem ko sta se postavila na vrsto proti svojemu nasprotniku. Biltzov tank je izgubil dvoboj - Britanski tank ga je trikrat zadel in nagnil na bok. The posadka opuščena njihov A7V ampak pet jih je bilo ubitih z neprekinjenim ognjem iz Marka IV, ki je nadaljeval z napadom še dveh tankov A7V, ki sta se pojavila na prizorišču.

Biltzovi možje so svoj poškodovani rezervoar pozneje uspeli obnoviti.

Sama bitka se po tem dvoboju ni končala.

Ko se je Mitchellov tank umaknil iz akcije (Za angažiranje nemške pehote), sedem tankov Whippet je angažiralo tudi pehoto. Štirje od teh so bili izpadel v bitki, in ni jasno, ali je kdo od njih uporabil umikajoče se nemške tanke. Mitchellov rezervoar je izgubil sled proti koncu bitke iz minometne granate in je bil zapuščen.

Zaključek

Zaroka bi se imenovala neodločna, ker:

  1. Dva britanska tanka sta se morala umakniti, ker nista mogla prebiti oklepa nemških letal A7V.
  2. Eden od nemških tankov je bil izločen, vendar so ga Nemci uspešno vrnili nazaj. Britanci pa niso uspeli pridobiti zapuščenega tanka.
  3. Obe strani sta utrpeli škodo
  4. Dva od preživelih A7V sta se morala tudi umakniti.
  5. Britanski tanki so se morale umakniti tudi nemške pehotne in minometne enote.

Nobena stran ni odločno premagala druge strani. Vendar pa bi lahko Britanci dali rahlo prednost zgolj zato, ker je bil njihov zadnji tank, ki je stal na igrišču, ko je bil eden od A7V izločen, dva pa sta se morala umakniti.


Prva bitka pri Sommi

Naši uredniki bodo pregledali, kar ste oddali, in ugotovili, ali želite članek popraviti.

Prva bitka pri Sommi, (1. julij – 13. november 1916), draga in v veliki meri neuspešna zavezniška ofenziva na zahodni fronti med prvo svetovno vojno.

1. julija 1916 je po enem tednu daljšega topniškega bombardiranja 11 divizij četrte britanske armade (nedavno ustanovljene in postavljene pod sir Henry Rawlinson) začelo napad severno od Somme na fronti, ki se razteza 24 kilometrov od Serre in Beaumont-Hamel proti jugu mimo Thiepvala, Ovillersa in Fricourta (vzhodno od Alberta) ter nato proti vzhodu in jugu do Maricourta, severno od Curluja. Hkrati so Francozi napadli s petimi divizijami na fronti 13 kilometrov pretežno južno od reke (od Curluja proti Péronnu), kjer je bil nemški obrambni sistem manj razvit.

Medtem ko so imeli Francozi več kot 900 težkih pušk, so imeli Britanci komaj polovico tega števila za širšo fronto. Dodatne pomanjkljivosti so bile opisane v Zgodovina velike vojne na podlagi uradnih dokumentov (Uradna zgodovina Velike Britanije), ki navaja, da je bil problem, s katerim se je spopadel britanski vrhovni poveljnik Douglas Haig, v bistvu "napad na trdnjavo ... Priznati je treba, da problem ni bil cenjen pri G.H.Q. (generalni štab). " Namesto tega so bili "neuspehi v preteklosti posledica drugih razlogov, razen sovražne uporabe mitraljeza s strani sovražnika in njegove znanstveno načrtovane obrambe." Tako je nastalo vzdušje lažnega zaupanja. Spodbudil je Haiga, da se odloči za preboj, medtem ko so Rawlinsonovi razumnejši dvomi privedli do tega, da je načrt postal kompromis, primeren niti za hiter prodor niti za obleganje. Rawlinson je želel dolgo bombardiranje in kratek napredek. Na koncu mu je bil prvi dovoljen, Haig pa ga je preglasil na drugem in mu naročil, naj na levi zavzame nemški prvi in ​​drugi položaj v eni sami potezi. Haig je celo lastni svetovalec za topništvo opozoril, da svojo moč orožja preveč "razteza". "Rawlinson je vrhovnemu poveljniku zagotovil, da bo zvesto izvedel" ta navodila ", a zasebno je bil prepričan, da temeljijo na lažnih premisah in na prevelikem optimizmu." Izid bitke je bil pokazati nevarnost te vrste zvestobe.

"Vse večji optimizem" je Haig pokazal, ko se je dan bitke približeval, čeprav so se sredstva Francozov in posledično njihov potencialni prispevek postopoma krčili zaradi odtekanja bitke pri Verdunu. Haigov optimizem se je pojavil celo v dodatnih navodilih, ki jih je izdal: britansko konjeništvo naj bi prvo jutro pripeljalo v Bapaume na odprto deželo. Bolj kot Haigovo mnenje je bil bolj zanimiv način, na katerega se mu je Rawlinson pridružil, da je svojim podrejenim večkrat zagotovil, da bo bombardiranje uničilo ves odpor in da bo "pehota morala le stopiti in prevzeti posest". V zgodnjih razpravah je Haig tudi dejal, da "korpusi ne smejo napadati, dokler njihovi poveljniki niso bili prepričani, da je sovražnikova obramba dovolj uničena, vendar se zdi, da je to stanje sčasoma opuščeno."

Vprašanje, ki je ostalo, je bilo, ali bi britanska pehota lahko prečkala nikogaršnjo zemljo, preden bi dvignila baraž. To je bila tekma s smrtjo skoraj 60.000 vojakov. Celotno maso, sestavljeno iz tesno zbranih valov moških, je bilo treba izstreliti skupaj, ne da bi ugotovili, ali je bombardiranje resnično ohromilo odpor. Po navodilih četrte armade naj bi ti valovi napredovali s "enakomernim tempom", simetrično poravnani, kot vrste devetih zatičev, ki so pripravljene na prevrnitev. "O nujnosti prečkanja nikogaršnje zemlje z dobrim tempom, da bi prišli do parapeta, preden bi sovražnik lahko prišel do njega, ni bilo omenjeno." Toda to bi bilo fizično nemogoče, saj je bil "pehota tako obremenjen, da se ni mogel premikati hitreje kot hoja". Vsak človek je nosil približno 30 kilogramov opreme, tovor, ki je pogosto znašal več kot polovico lastne telesne teže vojaka, "zaradi česar je težko izstopiti iz jarka, nemogoče se je premakniti veliko hitreje kot počasen sprehod," ali pa hitro vstati in leči. "

Dirka je bila izgubljena, preden se je začela, in bitka kmalu zatem. Več kot 60.000 moških je bilo žrtev neuspešnega načrta. 20.000 ubitih v akciji je pomenilo najtežjo izgubo dneva, ki jo je kdaj utrpela britanska vojska. Ta rezultat in njegovi vzroki so čudno razmišljali o besedah, ki jih je Haig napisal na predvečer napada: "Čutim, da je bil vsak korak v mojem načrtu narejen z božansko pomočjo." Za fronto so poveljniki poročali bolj grozljivo, kot so bila utemeljena dejstva, in očitno tudi, kot so menili poveljniki sami. "Redno so poročali o zajetju zapornikov, ne pa tudi o velikih žrtvah." Nevednost v takšnih razmerah je bila naravna, a prevara manj opravičljiva.

Zavezniki niso uspeli izkoristiti uspeha, ki so ga na jugu dosegli britanski desničarji in bolj očitno Francozi. Poročalo je: "Čez dan ni bilo izdanih nobenih ukazov ali navodil", razen nekaj manjših podrobnosti Uradna zgodovina Velike Britanije. 1. julija ob 22:00 je Rawlinson svojemu korpusu le ukazal, naj enotno "nadaljuje napad". "Ni bilo nobenega predloga, da bi uspehe, ki so jih nekateri dosegli, uporabili za izboljšanje položaja tistih, ki so jim spodleteli." Neskrite priprave in dolgotrajno bombardiranje so dali vse možnosti za presenečenje, in ob nemškem odporu, ki je bil šibek, a močan v organizaciji, napad ni uspel na večini britanske fronte. Zaradi gostih in togih valovnih formacij so bile izgube grozljivo velike. Šele na jugu britanske fronte, v bližini Fricourta in Montaubana, je napad dobil resnično podlago v nemški obrambi. Francozi so z manjšim nasprotovanjem in z veliko težjo artilerijo, pa tudi z dejstvom, da so bili manj pričakovani, napredovali globlje.

Ta zastoj je odpravil možnost dokaj hitrega prodora v Bapaume in Cambrai, Haig pa je sprejel metodo izčrpavanja omejenega napredka, katerega namen je bil oslabiti nemško moč. Haig je zavrnil načrt francoskega poveljnika Josepha-Jacques-Césaireja Joffreja, da bi moral svoje čete znova čelno odvrniti proti obrambi Thiepval. Napad se je nadaljeval samo na južnem britanskem boku, 14. julija pa je zavzemanje druge črte Nemcev (Longueval, Bazentin-le-Petit in Ovillers) ponudilo priložnost za izkoriščanje, kar pa ni bilo izkoriščeno. Od tega trenutka se je nadaljeval metodičen, a drag napredek, čeprav je bil dosežen le majhen uspeh.

V enem pogledu so Somme osvetlile prihodnost, saj so se 15. septembra 1916 pojavili prvi tanki. Njihova zgodnja zaposlitev, preden je bilo veliko število pripravljenih, je bila napaka: izgubila je možnost velikega strateškega presenečenja, zaradi taktičnega ravnanja in manjših tehničnih napak pa so imeli le omejen uspeh. Čeprav so višje vojaške oblasti vanj izgubile vero (nekateri so šle tako daleč, da so zahtevale njihovo opustitev), so bolj razsodne oči spoznale, da je tu ključ, ki bi ob pravilni uporabi odklenil rov.

Ofenziva Somme je v novem blatu padla, ko je prišel november, čeprav je bil njen žalosten zaključek delno unovčen z udarcem, ki ga je 13. novembra na še nedotaknjenem boku glavne ofenzive leta 1916 izvedel general Hubert Gough. Štirimesečni boj je zagotovo močno obremenil nemški odpor kot tudi napadalce. Obe strani sta izgubili ogromno ljudi, ki jih nikoli ne bi zamenjali. Britanske izgube so znašale približno 420.000. Francozi, ki so imeli v poznejših fazah vedno večjo vlogo, so svoj znesek vojnih žrtev dvignili za 194.000. Nemci so proti tem skupaj več kot 600.000 zaveznikom utrpeli več kot 440.000 žrtev. To število je pruski general Fritz von Below močno povečal, da je treba vsako jardo izgubljenega jarka ponovno zavzeti s protinapadom.


"Enkrat tanker, vedno tanker"

Paul Sousa gleda v gromozanski tank M1A1 Abrams z naklonjenostjo moškega srednjih let, ki se je ponovno združil s svojim prvim avtomobilom. Stvar je dolga 32 čevljev in tehta skoraj 68 ton, a zanj je to en sladek komplet koles.

"To je moja zver," se nasmehne. »18 let sem se ukvarjal s temi stvarmi. Za Desert Storm sem bil v enem 100 ur naravnost - prišel sem samo v kopalnico, pomagal pri gorivu ali držal mitraljez, medtem ko so drugi fantki polnili gorivo.

Približno 1.900 teh pošasti je bilo poslanih proti Iračanom v puščavski nevihti. Sovražnik je imel na tisoče uporabnih tankov iz sovjetske dobe, vendar ničesar, kar bi se lahko ujemalo z ognjeno močjo na dosegu roke Sousa, strelca iz prve konjeniške divizije.

Posodobljene različice M1A1 so še vedno postavljene po vsem svetu, vendar je ta, ki sedi v kotu 67.000 kvadratnih metrov velikega muzeja ameriške dediščine v Stowu v Massachusettsu, edini takšen rezervoar na javni razstavi na svetu.

Umik Iračanov je zažgal naftna polja Burgan. Kmalu se je Perzijski zaliv razširil oljnat, strupen oblak, širok več kot 30 milj. "Na obzorju smo lahko videli le delček svetlobe," pravi strelec Paul Beaulieu. "Nad nami je bil ta oblak dima z naftnih polj, pod nami pa je bila zemlja prepojena z oljem."

Na M1A1 so bili štirje vojaki: poveljnik, voznik, strelec in nakladalnik. Ti fantje se imenujejo tankerji. "Enkrat tanker, vedno tanker," radi rečejo. Poveljnik sedi na vrhu in opazuje okolico. Voznik je spredaj, njegova glava štrli iz luknje tik pod pištolo. Sedenje na strelčevem sedežu pa pomeni, da imate občutek, da so okoli vas zgradili stroj. Ni centimetra prostega prostora, le številna oprema in strelivo v vašem obrazu.

"Zame je bila celotna vojna tam spodaj v temi, gledano skozi periskop," dodaja Sousa. “Nekako dogovorjeno.”

24. februarja zgodaj zjutraj so koalicijske sile na skrivaj raztegnile približno 300 milj vzdolž savdsko-iraške meje. Iraški vojaški uradniki so imeli nekaj sumov, vendar nanje niso ukrepali.

"Povedal vam bom eno stvar - moja mama je to ugotovila," pravi Randy Richert, ki je služil pri 1. pehotni diviziji. Treniral se je kot tanker, a se je znašel v polkovniku v in okoli premikajočih se tankovskih formacij v neoboroženem Humveeju, kot delfin, ki skače okoli stroka kitov.

»Moja mama je ves čas slišala novice o vseh drugih oddelkih, ki so se kopičili v bližini Kuvajta, na vzhodu, o nas pa nič. Zato je prijateljem rekla: "Mislim, da je Randy tam nekje v puščavi."

Pred puščavsko nevihto so številni vojaški tankerji večji del desetletja preživeli na M1A1 v Evropi - usposabljali so se za možnost sovjetske invazije čez železno zaveso.

"To je bil čas hladne vojne," se spominja strelec Paul Beaulieu. »Vedno smo bili v pripravljenosti in čakali na sovjetsko invazijo. Nikoli si nisem sanjal, da bom na koncu uporabil to usposabljanje nekje v puščavi, vendar sem bil pripravljen. "

Ko se je sprehajal po M1A1 ameriškega muzeja dediščine, Beaulieu ugotavlja, da mu je napredni sistem vzmetenja rezervoarja omogočil presenetljivo gladko vožnjo, tudi po najbolj grobem puščavskem terenu. Ko kaže na bližnji starinski tank Sheridan M551 iz šestdesetih let prejšnjega stoletja, ki je bil uporabljen tudi v puščavski nevihti, dodaja: "V primerjavi s vožnjo v tem rezervoarju je to kot Cadillac." Ironično je, da je Sheridan dejansko zgradil Cadillac.


10 največjih tankovskih bitk v vojaški zgodovini

Odkar so prva oklepna vozila plazila po izmučenih bojnih prizorih prve svetovne vojne, so tanki postali neizbrisen element kopenskega boja. V preteklih letih je prišlo do številnih spopadov tank-on-tank, nekateri pomembnejši-in epski-kot drugi. Tukaj je 10, o katerih morate vedeti.

Zgornja slika: Iraški tank gori med operacijo Puščavska nevihta leta 1991.

Bitke, navedene v kronološkem vrstnem redu.

1. Bitka pri Cambraiju (1917)

Ta bitka na zahodni fronti, ki se je vodila konec leta 1917, je bila prva velika tankovska bitka v vojaški zgodovini in prva velika uporaba kombiniranega orožja v velikem obsegu, ki je pomenila pravo prelomnico v zgodovini vojskovanja. Kot ugotavlja zgodovinar Hew Strachan, "največji posamični intelektualni premik v vojni med letoma 1914 in 1918 je bil v tem, da je bila bitka kombiniranega orožja načrtovana okoli zmožnosti orožja in ne pehote." Skupaj pa se Strachan sklicuje na usklajeno uporaba trajnega in plazečega topništva, pehote, letal in seveda tankov.

20. novembra 1917 so Britanci napadli Cambrai s 476 tanki, od tega 378 bojnih tankov. Zgroženi Nemci so bili popolnoma presenečeni, saj je ofenziva izklesala 4000-metrski prodor vzdolž šest milj dolge fronte. To je bil preboj brez primere v sicer statični oblegalni vojni. Nemci so si po sprožitvi protinapadov na koncu opomogli, toda ofenziva s tanki je pokazala neverjeten potencial mobilnega, mehaniziranega vojskovanja-lekcija, ki je bila dobro izkoriščena le leto kasneje v zadnjem napadu proti Nemčiji.

2. Bitka pri Khalkhin Gol (1939)

Prva velika tankovska bitka druge svetovne vojne je sovjetsko Rdečo armado spopadla z japonsko cesarsko vojsko vzdolž mongolske in sibirske meje. Japonska je v kontekstu kitajsko-japonske vojne 1937-1945 trdila, da je Khalkhin Gol označeval mejo med Mongolijo in Manchukuo (ime za okupirano Mandžurijo), medtem ko so Sovjeti vztrajali na meji, ki leži bolj vzhodno skozi Nomonhan (zato se ta angažman včasih imenuje tudi incident v Nomonhanu). Sovražnosti so se začele maja 1939, ko so sovjetske čete zasedle sporno ozemlje.

Ujeti japonski vojaki (foto: Victor A. Tёmyn)

Po nekaj začetnih uspehih na Japonskem so Sovjeti nasprotovali z 58.000 vojaki, skoraj 500 tanki in okoli 250 letali. 20. avgusta zjutraj je general Georgy Zhukov po ponarejenem obrambnem položaju sprožil nenaden napad. Ko se je brutalni dan razpletel, je vročina postala zatiralska in je dosegla 40 stopinj Celzija, zaradi česar so se zataknile mitraljeze in topovi. Sovjetski tanki T-26 (predhodnik zelo učinkovitih T-34) so ​​presegli zastarele japonske tanke, katerih puške niso imele oklepa. Toda Japonci so se obupano borili, vključno z dramatičnim trenutkom, v katerem je poročnik Sadakaji s svojim samurajskim mečem napadel tank, dokler ni bil posekan.

Rusko obkoljenje, ki je sledilo, je omogočilo popolno uničenje sil generala Komatsubare, kar je povzročilo 61.000 žrtev. Rdeča armada pa je utrpela 7.974 ubitih in 15.251 ranjenih. Bitka je zaznamovala začetek slavnega vojaškega vodstva Žukova med vojno, hkrati pa je pokazala pomen prevare ter tehnološko in številčno premoč v tankovskem boju.

11 skrivnih orožij, ki jih je Japonska razvila med drugo svetovno vojno

Običajno se zahodne sile spominjajo po razvoju nekaterih najbolj inovativnih in

3. Bitka pri Arrasu (1940)

Ne smemo jih zamenjevati z bitko pri Arrasu leta 1917, v tej drugi svetovni vojni je nastopila britanska ekspedicijska sila (BEF) proti nemškemu Blitzkriegu, ko je hitro napredovala proti francoski obali.

Rommel, na sliki v sredini, je pomotoma mislil, da ga je med bitko pri Arrasu napadlo pet pehotnih divizij. (Bundesarchiv, Bild)

20. maja 1940 je vikont GEF iz skupine BEF ukazal protinapad Nemcev z kodnim imenom Frankforce. Vključevala sta dva pehotna bataljona, ki sta štela 2.000 mož - in le 74 tankov. BBC opisuje, kaj se je nato zgodilo:

Pehotni bataljoni so bili za napad, ki je bil 21. maja, razdeljeni v dve koloni. Desna kolona je sprva hitro napredovala in vzela številne nemške ujetnike, a so kmalu naleteli na nemško pehoto in SS, podprti z letalsko podporo, in utrpeli velike izgube.

Levi stolpec je prav tako dosegel zgodnji uspeh, preden je naletel na nasprotovanje pehotnih enot brigadirja Erwina Rommela 7. tankovske divizije.

Francoska zaščita je britanskim četam omogočila, da so se tisto noč umaknili na svoje nekdanje položaje. Frankforce je bilo konec, naslednji dan pa so se Nemci združili in nadaljevali z napredovanjem.

Frankforce je vzel okoli 400 nemških ujetnikov in povzročil podobno število žrtev ter uničil številne tanke. Operacija je močno presegla svojo težo - napad je bil tako hud, da je 7. tankovska divizija verjela, da ga je napadlo pet pehotnih divizij.

Zanimivo je, da nekateri zgodovinarji menijo, da je bil ta divji protinapad prepričal nemške generale, da so 24. maja razglasili ustavitev - kratek premor v Blitzkriegu, ki je BEF -ju omogočil nekaj časa za evakuacijo svojih čet med čudežem v Dunkirku.

10 šokantnih načinov, kako bi se druga svetovna vojna lahko končala drugače

Odločitve v vojnem času so monumentalne stvari. Vsak premik in protinapad ima potencial, da ...


Do leta 1915 so se jarki dobro ustalili in velika vojna je postala zastoj. Če bi katera koli stran poskušala prečkati deželo No-Man & rsquos, bi bodeča žica ustavila vojake na cesti in mitraljezi bi imeli zadnjo besedo. Način prečkanja prekinjenih tal, drobljenja žice in utišanja pištol je bil obupno potreben.

Takratni britanski premier Gretat David Lloyd George je že lahko videl, kako se bo odločil izid te vojne, ko je rekel, da je ldquothis vojna inženirjev & rdquo.

29. septembra 1915 so bili vojaški dostojanstveniki povabljeni, da si ogledajo nekaj zanimivega v tovarni William Foster and Co Ltd na Firth Roadu v Lincolnu. Ko so dostojanstveniki vojnega urada prispeli v veliko šoto, so videli leseno maketo novega orožja: tanka. Reči, da je bila vojska navdušena, bi bilo veliko podcenjevanje, oblikovalski skupini Fosters pa je bilo rečeno, da mora stroj čim prej dokončati za preskušanje.

Delavci v Fosterju so osupnili vse, ko so v začetku januarja 1916, približno tri mesece pozneje, objavili, da je prototipni stroj zdaj pripravljen na vse, kar bi mu vojska lahko namenila - po imenu Mali Willie. Testiranje je potekalo v mirnem okolju Burton Parka pri Lincolnu, nato pa so stroj poslali na uradne preizkuse v Hatfield Park v Hertfordshireu.

Cisterna je plula skozi vse, pri tem pa je zajela rove in močvirna tla. Naslednja faza proizvodnje je bila namenjena ustvarjanju tanka, ki bi lahko prečkal širše jarke, in tako se je rodil prvi bojni tenk na svetu z imenom Mother.

Ko se je mati izkazala, so naročila začela prihajati in Lincoln je postal znan kot & lsquoTank Town & rsquo (glej zgoraj levo). Stroji, izdelani po upodobitvi Mothers, so kmalu zapustili Lincoln za uporabo v prvi tankovski bitki na svetu 15. septembra 1916.

Rezervoarji, ki jih je zasnoval Lincoln, so bili tako uspešni, da so jih začele proizvajati tovarne po vsej Veliki Britaniji, da bi sledile povpraševanju. Odgovor na bodečo žico so našli pri majhnih kmetijskih proizvajalcih v Lincolnu in se je imenovala cisterna.

Prebivalci Lincolna so bili ponosni na izum Trittona in res so tanki paradirali po ulicah mesta, preden so šli v vojno (glej zgoraj desno).

Brez tanka bi se zastoj v veliki vojni nadaljeval, morda celo v dvajsetih letih prejšnjega stoletja, takrat pa bi bilo izgubljenih na tisoče življenj.

Več kot 100 let pozneje je danes preživelo le peščica tankov iz velike vojne - od katerih je ena ženski tank Mk IV, razstavljen v Muzeju življenja Lincolnshire.

Izum tanka so obeležili v Lincolnu s spomenikom Lincoln Tank na krožišču Tritton Road v bližini Univerze v Lincolnu (glej desno).

Besede in podobe zahvaljujoč Richardu Pullenu iz Prijateljev Lincolnovega rezervoarja. Kupite DVD 'Birth of the Tanks ' na spletu.


Bitka pri Cambraiju, 20. november- 7. december 1917

Bitka pri Cambraiju, 20. november-7. december 1917, je bila prva velika tankovska bitka v zgodovini. Začela se je po splošnem neuspehu glavne britanske jesenske ofenzive leta 1917, tretje bitke pri Ypresu, znane po blatu Passchendaele. Ironično je, da je slabo vreme v Ypresu ohranilo Tankovski korpus, ki je do novembra lahko postavil več kot 300 tankov.

Zamisel o napadu na Cambrai je razvil brigadni general H. Elles, poveljnik tankovskega korpusa. Želel je sprožiti množični napad s svojimi tanki po suhem kredastem tleh pri Cambraiju, kjer njegovi tanki ne bi mogli tvegati, da bi se zabredli v blato. Njegove načrte je z nekaj navdušenja sprejel general Sir Julian Byng, poveljnik Tretje armade.

Njegovi topniki so pripravili tudi načrt, ki je združil napad tankov z novo vrsto topniškega bombardiranja, ki ni zahtevala dolgotrajne priprave. Prejšnje bombardiranje je zahtevalo predhodno obdobje & ldquoregistration & rdquo, v katerem je vsaka baterija pištole sprožila vaje, da bi ugotovila, kje so streli. To je branilce opozorilo na možnost napada in jim omogočilo zbiranje rezerv. Brigadni general H.H. Tudor je razvil sistem za elektronsko registracijo orožja, s čimer se je izognil dolgotrajni pripravi.

Napad na Cambrai naj bi sprožilo nekaj več kot 300 tankov, razporejenih vzdolž 10.000 jardov spredaj, ki jih je podpiralo osem pehotnih divizij. Pehota naj bi napredovala blizu tankov, da bi zagotovila tesno podporo. Artilerijsko bombardiranje bi se začelo na dan napada, ne da bi opozorilo na prihajajoči napad.

Artilerijsko bombardiranje se je začelo 20. novembra 1917 ob 6.20. Dve nemški diviziji v Cambraiju, 20. Landwehr in 54. divizije rezerv, so bile povsem presenečene. Britanski tanki so po večini proge plazili po nemški žici, čez jarke in s tesno pehotno podporo dosegli kar štiri milje v nemške črte.

Položaj v središču britanske linije ni bil tako obetaven. Poveljnik nemške 54. rezervne divizije je pripravil protitankovsko taktiko, ki temelji na uporabi topništva proti počasi premikajočim se ciljem. Pehota 51. gorske divizije je bila preveč za tanki, zaradi česar so bili ranljivi. Enajst jih je bilo uničenih pred napredujočimi gorščani. Konec prvega dne so Britanci ustvarili šest milj široko vrzel v nemških linijah, vendar s poudarkom v središču.

Uspeh pri Cambraiju 20. novembra so obravnavali kot veliko zmago v Veliki Britaniji, kjer so cerkveni zvonovi prvič po letu 1914 zazvonili. Vendar se je po velikih uspehih 20. novembra napredovanje upočasnilo. Tanki leta 1917 še vedno niso bili mehansko zanesljivi in ​​mnogi so se pod stresom napredka pokvarili. V naslednjem tednu je bil dosežen določen omejen napredek, vendar je obramba Siegfriedove linije ostala.

Medtem ko so Britanci napredovali, so se Nemci pripravljali na protinapad. 30. novembra so nemške divizije pod poveljstvom prestolonaslednika Princa Rupprechta in generala von Marwitza sprožile obsežen protinapad, ki je Britance prisilil z mnogih območij, ki so jih zasedli 20. novembra, in celo zavzel nekatera območja, ki so jih imeli Britanci pred začetkom bitka. 4. decembra je Haig odredil umik velikega dela preostalega dela, da bi skrajšal proge. Bitka, ki se je začela s tako dramatičnim prebojem, se je končala z obnovo statusa quo.

Izgube so bile na obeh straneh približno enakovredne. Britanci so med nemškim protinapadom izgubili 43.000 mož. Nemške izgube so bile podobne, med 40.000 in 50.000 mož. Glavni dosežek britanskega tankovskega korpusa pri Cambraiju je bil preveč jasno pokazati potencial tanka. Nemški tankovski program je bil morda njihov največji neuspeh v vojni. V odločilnih bitkah leta 1918 so se morali Nemci zanašati na ujete britanske in francoske tanke ter zelo majhno število svojih strašnih tankov A7V.

Ironclads iz Cambraija, Bryan Cooper. Klasičen opis prve velike tankovske bitke, kratek triumf, ki je kljub temu, da se je končal z neodločenim izidom, utiral pot do morebitnih zavezniških zmag leta 1918, in v katerem se je tank po precej skromnem ključu pojavil kot pomembno vojno orožje uvod v storitev [preberite celoten pregled]

Cambrai 1917: Rojstvo oklepnih vojn, Alexander Turner. Dobro organiziran in ponazorjen prikaz prve bitke, pri kateri je bil tank v velikem številu uporabljen kot udarno orožje.

Bitka pri Cambraiju (od 20. novembra do 4. decembra 1917)

Bitka pri Cambraiju, napad na linijo Hindenburg novembra 1917, je bila še ena krvava in nesmiselna ofenziva na zahodni fronti. Kljub temu je razkril taktične novosti na obeh straneh, ki bi bile v veliki meri uporabljene v bojih leta 1918, da bi končali slepo ulico, ki je od leta 1914 ohromila vojskovalce na zahodni fronti.

Najbolj spektakularna med njimi je bila uporaba tankov britanske vojske, ki so bili prvič odločilni element v bitki, vendar so bile nove metode protinapada, ki so jih uporabili Nemci, verjetno najpomembnejši skok naprej srednjeročno.

Britanci so tanke prvič uporabili septembra 1916 med bitko pri Sommi in se jim je izkazalo, da so malo uporabni, ko je sovražnik prestopil začetni element presenečenja. Zdi se, da so boji leta 1917 potrdili vse večje dvome o teh nezanesljivih strojih, ki so bili počasni in ranljivi za težko topništvo. Poskusi Britancev, da bi jih uvrstili na Arras in Passchendaele, Francozi pa na Chemin des Dames Ridge, so se končali katastrofalno.

Tudi nemško vrhovno poveljstvo ni počasi izrazilo prezira do novega orožja, saj je ocenilo, da je od njega malo koristi in da nima prihodnosti. Toda na britanski strani so si častniki tankovskega korpusa odločno prizadevali spodbujati uporabo svojih okornih strojev in vztrajali, da bi lahko prinesli veliko upanja za preboj. Eden od teh častnikov je bil podpolkovnik John Fuller in se je zavzemal za množično uporabo tankov na suhem terenu v nasprotju z blatnimi polji Flandrije. General Douglas Haig, ki ga je pred Cambraijem večkrat zavrnil, je velika operacija tankov postala neizogibna, ko so Britanci spoznali, da se je tretja bitka pri Ypresu spremenila v tragičen neuspeh. Od tega trenutka dalje je Haig računal, da mu bodo tanki zagotovili odločilen preboj, ki ga pričakuje zavezniško javno mnenje, zaskrbljeno zaradi oslabljenega ruskega upora.

Cambrai je britansko poveljstvo izbralo za prizorišče ofenzive. Mesto, eno glavnih železniških križišč in nemških garnizonov zahodne fronte, je ležalo na prostrani kredasti ravnini, ki je bila idealen teren za tanke. Mesto je bilo na zahodni strani res zaščiteno z močno obrambo Hindenburške črte, vendar so britanske obveščevalne službe vedele, da so točko napada držale čete, ki so bile oslabljene zaradi velikih izgub pri Ypresu in so jih nato prenesle na del fronte, Nemci so manj pomembni.

Načrt napada, ki ga je oblikoval general Julian Byng, poveljnik britanske 3. armade, je bil zelo izpopolnjen. Predlagal je čelni napad na linijo Hindenburg, da bi ustvaril preboj na nemški fronti, ki bi ga lahko izkoristile tri divizije konjenice, ki bi obdale in zajele Cambrai. Priprave na napad so se prekinile tudi z nedavno vojaško dogmo: predhodnega močnega obstreljevanja ne bi bilo, da bi ohranili element presenečenja, na stotine tankov bi uporabili za odpiranje poti skozi obrambo, zračna podpora pa bi posredovala pri nemških zadaj, da preveri prihod okrepitev.

Napad se je začel 20. novembra ob 6.20 z deset kilometrov široke fronte. Tankovski korpus je zagotovil 476 tankov (od tega 350 oboroženih) za vodenje šestih pehotnih divizij na polje. Bombardiranje, ki je spremljalo napad, je bilo skrbno načrtovano in Nemce je presenetilo. Britanci so uporabili tudi projektorje Livens za pršenje strupenih plinov na različnih delih sprednje strani.

Pred dežjem eksplozivnih granat so tanki hitro napredovali in kmalu prišli do sovražnikovih jarkov. Hindenburška linija še nikoli ni bila tako globoko prodirana. Presenečenje in teror, ki so ga izzvali tanki med nemškimi vrstami, je povzročilo umik več enot in Britanci so prvi dan ofenzive vzeli 8000 ujetnikov. Od leta 1914 napad še nikoli ni tako hitro napredoval in do 20. novembra zvečer je britanska avantgarda osvojila devet kilometrov terena in se približevala Cambraiju.

Toda spet je prišlo do težave pri izkoriščanju začetnega preboja. Nepričakovani dokazi kažejo na to, da je britanski tenk ogrožal gibanje konjenice v okolici hriba Masnières, vendar je bil temeljnejši problem zamudni prihod okrepitev zaradi velike zastoje na cestah: vojaki so potrebovali petnajst ur, da so pokrili zadnjih pet kilometrov naprej.

Pravzaprav se je učinek prvega napada razblinil skupaj z elementom presenečenja in Nemci so kmalu nadlegovali najpomembnejše čete z višin Bourlon Wood. 23. novembra so Britanci začeli nekaj narediti v zvezi s tem, ko so v Veliki Britaniji začeli zvoniti zvonovi, ki so zaznamovali čudežno zmago. Pod točo topniškega ognja se je več tankov in valižanske pehotne brigade uspelo uporiti v delu Bourlonovega lesa, a so se kmalu znašli izolirani.

Ludendorffova prva reakcija na velik umik je bila hitro opuščena v prid izvedbi protinapada. Lotil se je zbiranja dvajsetih oddelkov in do 30. novembra zjutraj so se lahko maščevali. Njihov uspeh je bil takojšen in uničujoč. Ob podpori školjk strupenih plinov so Nemci v dveh urah napredovali več kot pet kilometrov in na neki točki zagrozili, da bodo zajeli več britanskih divizij, ki so se izognile v manjši izpostavljenosti. Ludendorff je uvedel nove metode boja, ki so vključevale vdor sovražnikovih linij v majhne skupine visoko usposobljenih in močno oboroženih vojakov. Te nove taktike infiltracije, ki jih je razvil poveljnik na terenu Oskar von Hutier, so bile že uspešne na italijanski fronti.

Ko so se boji končali, 4. decembra, se je začetni in nepričakovani uspeh britanske vojske poslabšal v popoln propad. Ves teren, ki so ga osvojili v začetnih fazah ofenzive, je bilo treba opustiti, izgube, čeprav so bile za obe strani podobne, pa so bile velike. Britanske žrtve so znašale 44.000 ubitih, ranjenih in izgubljenih v akciji (vključno s 6.000 zaporniki), Nemci pa 45.000 (vključno z 10.000 zaporniki).

Yves Le Maner
Direktor La Coupole
Center za zgodovino in spomin Severne Francije


PRVA SVETOVNA VOJNA

V drugi svetovni vojni sta Dwight D. Eisenhower in George S. Patton, Jr., dosegla svoja največja vojaška dejanja in dosegla trajno slavo zaradi vloge, ki so jo imeli pri porazu nacistične Nemčije. Manj znana je njihova služba v prvi svetovni vojni, ko sta bila oba moža vpletena v rojstvo nove oblike vojskovanja, namenjene revoluciji bojišča in spreminjanju načina vojskovanja. Kot častniki v novem tankovskem korpusu ameriške vojske so pomagali pri razvoju tehnologije goseničnih oklepnih bojnih vozil, pa tudi doktrine, ki bo kasneje urejala njihovo uporabo, pri tem pa so pomagali tudi pri postavitvi temeljev za prihodnje zmage v spopadu kjer bi tank prišel na svoje kot orožje odločitev. What follows is an overview of their involvement in the Tank Corps., both during the war and in its immediate aftermath.

Just four months prior to the Armistice, in July 1918, Patton was in France as the commander of the Tank Corps' 1st Tank Brigade. It was an assignment he had gotten in a roundabout manner. In October 1917, with service as General John J. Pershing's aide-de-camp during the 1916 Punitive Expedition in Mexico working in his favor, he wangled an appointment to AEF headquarters in Chaumont, France, as post adjutant and commander of the headquarters company. He wasn't there for long, however. He wanted to see action and, after some wavering while he contemplated seeking command of an infantry battalion, Patton became convinced that the army's nascent Tank Corps offered him the best way of achieving this goal. His subsequent application to Pershing for a transfer to tanks was granted on November 10, 1917 when he was ordered to report to the commandant of the army schools at Langres to establish a light tank school for the US First Army. Patton, then a captain, thus became the first soldier in the US Army assigned to work with tanks.

George S. Patton, First Tanker of the US Army

Soon thereafter, Patton acquired a mentor in the person of Samuel D. Rockenbach, a cavalry colonel who had previously served as quartermaster in charge of port operations at St. Nazaire. There he had caught the eye of Pershing, who needed someone with experience in supply operations and logistics to get the AEF Tank Corps up and running. Rockenbach fit the bill, and was accordingly appointed to command the corps on December 22, 1917. But it was Patton and the other younger officers under Rockenbach's command who proved to be the real brains of the Tank Corps, creating the training programs and formulating the doctrine for using the tanks in battle in cooperation with their French and British allies.

In February 1918, Patton established the AEF's Light Tank School at Bourg, located five miles from Langres on the road to Dijon. Lacking tanks at the outset, Patton and his men were forced to make do with plywood mockups complete with a turret armed with a Hotchkiss 8mm machine gun. the entire contraption was mounted on a rocking device used to simulate movement over rough terrain while a trainee fired at a fixed target. It wasn't until March 23 that the unit received its first shipment of ten 7.4-ton Renault light tanks, with another fifteen following in May.

At Bourg, Patton demonstrated that he was a hands-on commander who liked to take part in all the training exercises with his men. He was quite strict when it came to saluting and drill, and he insisted that procedures which he formulated for maneuvering tanks in tactical formations be followed to the letter.

The 1st Light Tank Battalion was organized at Bourg on April 28, 1918, with Patton in command. By the first week of June, however, officers and men had been assigned to him in sufficient numbers to organize a second battalion. At about the same time, the two battalions were redesignated the 326th and 327th Tank Battalions, and command was given to Captains Joseph W. Viner and Sereno E. Brett, respectively. But at the end of August -- just prior to the St. Mihiel offensive, when the Tank Corps received its baptism of fire -- Viner was made director of the tank center and school, a move which resulted in Brett assuming command of the 326th and Captain Ranulf Compton taking over the 327th.

Brett was a former infantry officer who was especially skilled in the use of the 37mm cannon which armed one variant of the Renault tank (a second was armed with an 8mm Hotchkiss machine gun), and had instructed Patton's men in the use of this weapon before assuming battalion command. Patton thought a great deal of him, but not so Compton, whom he regarded as an incompetent fool and disliked accordingly.

Ike at Camp Meade After the War

While Patton was setting up the armor training program at Langres and Bourg. Captain Dwight Eisenhower was similarly engaged in the United States. Eisenhower had gone to Camp Meade, Maryland, in February 1918 with the 65th Engineer Regiment, which had been activated to provide the organizational basis for the creation of the army's first heavy tank battalion. In mid-March the 1st Battalion, Heavy Tank Service (as it was then known) was ordered to prepare for movement overseas, and Eisenhower went to New York with the advance party to work out the details of embarkation and shipment with port authorities. The battalion shipped out on the night of March 26, but Eisenhower did not go with it. He had performed so well as an administrator that, upon his return to Camp Meade, he was told he would be staying in the United States, where his talent for logistics would be put to good use in establishing the army's primary tank training center at Camp colt in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Like Patton, Eisenhower also had mentor -- Lt. Colonel Ira C. Wellborn, and infantry officer who had been awarded the Medal of Honor for service in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. On March 5, 1918, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker appointed Wellborn to serve as director of the Tank Corps in the United States. Throughout the war, the army maintained a Tank Corps, AEF, which was distinct from the Tank Corps, United States, resulting in a divided command structure with two men -- Rockenbach and Welborn -- separately directing the development of the American armored arm.

Eisenhower went to Camp Colt as a captain in command of eighty men, but by September 1918 he was a lieutenant colonel commanding ten thousand men and eight hundred officers. Initially, the training program he established there was severely hampered by a lack of tanks -- for a brief spell, he had but a single Renault which the AEF had sent from France so that his men could at least see what a tank looked like. Nevertheless, he accomplished a great deal with the meager resources at his disposal. For instance, he set up a telegraphy school, only to be told that the AEF did not need telegraphers whereupon he had the men trained as tank crew-men. Ironically, the first overseas draft from Camp Colt was made up of sixty-four men whose telegraphy skills were sorely needed in France. In addition, Eisenhower and his subordinates, again making the most of what little they had, developed a program for training tank crewmen in the use of machine guns. The weapons were mounted on flatbed trucks, which were driven around the camp grounds at speed while the trainees fired at Little Round Top to get a feeling for shooting on the fly. A three-inch naval gun was used to familiarize crewmen with the larger caliber guns used in tanks.

The AEF Tank Corps was first committed to action in the offensive aimed at eliminating the Saint-Mihiel salient in September 1918. The operation was conducted by the US First Army, organized into the I, IV, and V Corps. Patton, working with I Corps, attacked with two battalions of the 304th Tank Brigade, which was equipped with 144 Renaults obtained from the French. In support of the Americans were two groupments of Schneider and St. Chamond heavy tanks weighing 14.9 and 25.3 tons, respectively. These were manned by French crews. In all, the First Army deployed 419 tanks, a figure that includes three French-crewed battalion-sized formations of Renaults and two additional company-sized elements of heavy tanks used in support of IV Corps.

Schneider Heavy Tank Operated by French Troops at St. Mihiel

Although the Americans accomplished their limited objective of eliminating the enemy salient, the offensive turned into a debacle for the Tank Corps, not so much because of anything the Germans did but rather because of mechanical failures and muddy conditions on the battlefield. By the time the fighting had run its course the battlefield was strewn with immobilized Renaults. Enemy action in the form of direct artillery hits claimed only three tanks the rest, some forty in all, simply broke down or got stuck in the mud. The French quickly replaced the three knocked-out tanks and the others were quickly repaired, bringing the Tank Corps back up to full strength when the Meuse-Argonne campaign kicked off on September 26th.

In the St. Mihiel Offensive Patton learned that he couldn't count on army motorization to keep his armored units supplied with fuel. In the Meuse-Argonne campaign, therefore, he ordered his tank crews to strap two fifty-five gallon fuel drums to the back of their machines. This entailed the obvious risk that a drum might be hit by shells or shrapnel, causing a fiery explosion which would incinerate the crewmen inside. Patton was well aware of the potential for disaster and, quite characteristically, ignored it. He felt that the loss of a few tanks and their crews to shellfire was preferable to the loss of many to a lack of fuel. Even so, he ordered that the drums be loosely tied to the tanks with ropes, the idea being that a fire would burn through the ropes and cause the drums to fall to the ground before exploding.

Given the propensity of the tanks for breaking down, maintenance was one of Patton's chief concerns. He was constantly after his men to keep their tanks in good running condition, a difficult task greatly hampered by a shortage of spare parts and the absence of repair facilities close to the battlefield. As it happened, it was neither Patton nor one of his officers, but rather a private soldier who came up with a solution to the problems. The private, whose name has long been forgotten, suggested that one tank in each company be converted into a sort of roving repair shop loaded with various spare parts (particularly fan belts) and equipped with towing apparatus to retrieve damaged, mired, or broken-down vehicles from the battlefield. Patton thought this an excellent idea and immediately saw to its implementation. This led to the creation of the first tank company maintenance team, which consisted of mechanics from battalion headquarters who were assigned to each tank company to operate the company's recovery vehicle. It was the beginning of a system that is still in use today in American armored units. And it is worth remembering that it was the brainchild of a private, which just goes to show how much Patton encouraged initiative in the ranks of the AEF Tank Corps.

US Tanks Advancing to the Front

Still, field maintenance was no easy proposition, in part because of the physical condition of the battlefield -- muddy ground was a constant, hampering repair and combat operations alike -- but also because the vehicles were breaking down in such large numbers. In the Meuse-Argonne campaign, which continued to the cessation of hostilities on November 11th, the Tank Corps's vehicle attrition rate reached 123 percent, with only twenty-seven tanks lost to enemy action, chiefly artillery fire or mines -- the rest were breakdowns. By the end of the Meuse-Argonne campaign the Tank Corps was down to less than fifty operating vehicles, a figure that can only begin to indicate the extent to which maintenance and logistics troops were kept busy trying to ensure that the AEF was able to field an armored force through to the end of the war.

[During the last months of the war, the Tank Corps, AEF also fielded a battalion of British-built heavy tanks which were deployed with the American 27th and 30th Division and fought in the old Somme Sector. The 301st Heavy Tank Battalion commanded by Ralph Sasse was equipped with the British Mark V and Mark V Star.]

Inter-tank communication also posed difficulties. As the tanks were not equipped with radios, unit commanders with orders to give and messages to deliver could do so only by leaving the safety of their own vehicles and making their way on foot to the other tanks. The Tank Corps tried to get around this problem by providing the crews with carrier pigeons, which were kept in bamboo cages on the floor of each tank behind the driver. The tank commander would stand on the cage, with predictable results: at some point during his machine's jolting passage over the broken ground of the typical Firs World War battlefield, he might inadvertently stomp down on the cage and crush its occupants. Finally, it was decided that junior officers would be delegated to walk alongside the tanks for the purpose of communicating orders and other information. Keeping up with the tanks was really no challenge, as the vehicles could manage a top speed of only four-and-a-half miles per hour under even the most optimal conditions. When the officers had instructions to impart they would simply rap on the hulls of the tanks until they got the attention of the men inside. The greatest problem leaders faced was, of course, exposure to enemy fire. Running messages back and forth between tanks, across open ground, in the thick of battle while the bullets were flying, required courage and devotion to duty -- virtues which resulted in the award of Distinguished Service Crosses to several of those engaged in this hazardous enterprise.

The Tank Corps produced two Medal of Honor winners. In both instances the medal was awarded to men of Patton's brigade who performed lifesaving acts. One of them, Corporal Donald M. Call, was the driver of a tank that was hit by a 77mm artillery shell as it advanced along a road on the first day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Call escaped from the burning vehicle through the driver's hatch and scrambled to the roadside. However, the tank's commander, 2nd Lieutenant John Castles, got stuck as he tried to climb out of the turret. Call ran back to the tank and plunged into the flames to rescue the trapped man. While doing so he was hit and badly wounded by machine-fire, yet was still able to drag Castles to the side of the road before the tank exploded.. He then carried Castles more than a mile to safety. In addition to the Medal of Honor, Call received a battlefield commision for his exploit. He eventually retired from the army as a full colonel.

Over the Top

The other Medal of Honor recipient was Corporal Harold W. Roberts, also a driver. On October 6th Roberts inadvertently drove his machine into a deep, water-filled ditch while trying to evade enemy fire. The tank overturned and began to sink. As it went down Roberts told his commander, "Well, on one of us can get out: out you go," and pushed the man through the turret hatch. The commander made it but Roberts did not he drowned in his tank and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for his self-sacrificing deed.

The ditch that claimed Roberts's life was known as a "water tank trap" and had been dug by the Germans for the purpose its name implied. The Germans were quick to develop other weapons and tactics for dealing with the Allied tanks. Anti tank gunners armed with .75 caliber rifles firing armor-piercing rounds learned to aim for the engine compartments, which were only lightly armored and therefore vulnerable to penetration by large, high velocity rifle bullets. The Germans also employed 77mm field guns in the antitank role. Technique was less critical, as a shell of that size, no matter what part of a tank it hit, could usually stop the vehicle literally in its tracks if not destroy it outright.

Interestingly, the Germans found a rather devious way to exploit the preponderance in Allied armor to their own advantage. They did this by building wood-and-metal mockups of Allied tanks and placing them well behind the frontline trace. Allied pilots flying over the battlefield would see what appeared to be real tanks and, the German hoped, assume that they stood at the farthest point of the Allied advance. Pilots who fell for this ruse thus left the area and sought German positions elsewhere.

When the war ended on November 11, 1918, the AEF Tank Corps and Tank Corps units in the United States had a combined total of some twenty thousand officers and men. But these numbers were drastically reduced in the months that followed as the army demobilized. For a brief period, however, both Patton and Eisenhower remained involved in developing the armored arm, which found a temporary home at Camp Meade under Rockenbach's command. In particular, the two men formulated theory and doctrine for the use of tanks in mass formations to achieve breakthroughs and carry out exploitation. They met vigorous opposition to their ideas from senior army officers who favored the use of armor in support of infantry and not as a separate arm conducting independent operations. Congress took this view as well, enacting legislation in June 1920 that dissolved the Tank Corps as a separate entity. Not incidentally, funding for tank research and development was also cut to a bare minimum. Patton, convinced there was no future in tanks, applied and received a transfer to the cavalry in September, 1920. Eisenhower got out tow years later, in January 1922, when he was assigned to the staff of an infantry brigade in Panama. Many other career-minded tank officers followed suit, and their defections dovetailed with further budgetary cuts and doctrinal conservatism which transformed the tank force to a shadow of the robust corps the AEF had deployed in the final weeks of the First World War. With few exceptions, the army's leadership virtually ignored the tank for the better part of the next two decades, until its ability to achieve decisive results on the battlefield was demonstrated by the Germans in the blitz operations of 1939-41.

In the Argonne Forest

I. Armor on World War I Tanks

The tanks had plate armor, and it varied in thickness from five-eighths of an inch to one and one-half inches, depending on the vehicle and the nation that manufactured it. The thickest armor was normally placed on the top and in front of the driver. The sides had three-quarter-inch or five-eighths inch plate. The thinnest armor was always in the rear and on the bottom.

II. About the Early Tactical Doctrine of the War's Participants

The French saw the tank as mobile artillery. So they used their light tanks to accompany the infantry, moving forward with the infantry in the assault artillery role, while the heavier vehicles provide fire support instead of going forward to bread the wire.

The British envisioned using the heavy tank alone, although, later they employed the Medium A Whippet, and J.F.C. Fuller began to think more and more about using the Medium D for breakthrough and penetration. The British idea was to send the heavy tanks forward in advance of the infantry to destroy the wire. The, with the infantry following through the gap they made, the tanks were to fan out behind enemy lines to exploit the breakthrough.

The Germans had similar ideas about the use of heavy tanks. They didn't think at all about light tanks.

The Americans planned to send the heavy tanks forward to break the wire while the light tanks accompanied the infantry and provided suppressive fires for taking out machine guns and other strongpoints. And that is how [the US Fist Army] tried to use the tanks in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives.

Sources and thanks: The text of this article is reproduced from A Weekend With the Great War: Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Great War Interconference Seminar, Lisle, Illinois, 16-18 September, 1994. The article is published here by the permission of the author and Cantigny First Division Foundation and Museum. Thanks to John Votaw, Director of the Cantigny First Division Museum, for his assistance. The entire book is available for purchase from Cantigny or the White Mane Publishing Company of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania who produced the volume in 1995 and 1996. Dale Wilson is also the author of Treat 'em Rough: The Story of the Birth of American Armor , Presidio Press, 1989. Regular contributors Ray Mentzer and Mike Iavarone provided the photos and the poster. MZ

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The Maus Tank – An Crazy Invention, But Would It Have Been Effective Enough To Change The Outcome Of WWII?

The German Panzer VIII tank of World War II, codenamed the Maus tank, was intended to be the biggest, best-armored and most powerful tank ever built – and the prototypes that were built succeeded in achieving these goals.

However, the Maus tank, initially called the Mammut (mammoth) tank, never ended up seeing combat, so we can only speculate about how effective they would have been in battle.

Some historians believe that if enough of them had been produced and deployed, Maus tanks could have changed the outcome of WWII. Others, however, believe that even if Maus tanks had rolled across the battlefields of Western Europe they would have been too hampered by their lack of mobility and range to have really changed the course of the war very much.

Panzerkampfwagen «Maus» at the Kubinka Tank Museum

Nonetheless, simply by virtue of the fact that the prototypes that were built are to this day the biggest and heaviest super-tanks ever made, make the Maus tank an awe-inspiring item of military hardware.

The Maus tank was a logical if somewhat impractical outcome of the general mindset of Nazi military engineering. Considering that they were obsessed with the relentless pursuit of attaining ever more advanced technological breakthroughs and building bigger and more powerful pieces of military equipment, it came as no surprise that Hitler and his Nazi military command wanted to build the mother of all tanks.

The “contact-shoe” and “connector-link” track design of the Maus’ suspension system Photo by Uwe Brodrecht CC BY-SA 2.0

The effectiveness of tanks in battle had been proven quite conclusively in WWI, and development in tank design had advanced in leaps and bounds in the decades since then. Most of the nations who fought in WWII had at least one heavy tank design in their military arsenal.

Hitler was aware of this, and wanted to construct a heavy tank that would not only stand head and shoulders above the competition, but indeed tower over them like a colossus.

Maus Tank in 1945 Photo by BlakeRichard00 CC By SA 4.0

With this in mind, design on the Maus began in 1941. With Professor Ferdinand Porsche overseeing the design process, which took place at the Krupp Munitions Works, plans for a gigantic 188 ton tank – weighing over four times as much as the heavy tanks the Allies were developing at this time – were drawn up.

The idea behind this monster of a tank was that it would be virtually indestructible – a moving bunker, essentially. To this end, the Maus was to be armored with 200mm hardened steel, theoretically making it pretty much impervious to any Allied tank cannon or infantry weaponry. The heavy armor extended down in an armored skirt that covered the tank’s tracks, to protect them from attack and therefore immobilization. That contributed significantly to the Maus’s immense weight.

Maus turret and hull abandoned in factory, 1945

While the massively-thick armor did indeed make the Maus a moving fortress, impervious to anything but the most powerful bombs, it also made mobility a problem. To move 188 tons of hardened steel, a monstrously powerful motor was needed.

A few different motors were tried out, with the engineers finally settling on a diesel motor that put out around 1,200 horsepower. Even with this motor’s impressive torque, the Maus was only able to creep along at a maximum speed of a mere 12mph – and that was on flat ground in ideal conditions.

Soviet with Maus Tank in 1945 Photo by BlakeRichard00 CC By SA 4.0

The enormous motor also guzzled an enormous amount of fuel, and this meant that the Maus had a far shorter range than other tanks, as only so much fuel could be carried onboard. In addition, the huge quantity of diesel fumes meant that a complex ventilation system had to be designed in order for the tank crew to actually be able to breathe.

A further problem presented by the Maus’s massive weight was the fact that it was simply too heavy for almost any bridge that existed in Europe. Because it was also too heavy to be ferried across rivers, the engineers had to think hard to figure out how to get their gargantuan tank across bodies of water.

Pz VIII Maus (Porsche V1)

To do this, they came up with a large snorkel system that would allow the tank to be submerged up to a depth of 45 feet (8 meters), thus enabling river fording. The Maus was also designed with a width that would enable it to be loaded onto rail cars, which would be an effective way to bypass its fuel range limitations.

In terms of firepower, the Maus was intended to be as intimidatingly potent as it was indestructible. The main gun, mounted to the turret, would be a 128mm gun (with 150mm and even 170mm guns being proposed as alternatives) capable of destroying any Allied tank at a range of up to two miles. A secondary turret gun, a 75mm antitank gun, would handle lesser armored vehicles.

Instead of the usual 7.9mm machine gun, the Maus was to be equipped with an antiaircraft machine cannon in the turret roof, as well as a smoke grenade launcher. With this level of weaponry, the Maus would have outgunned any Allied tank by a long way.

Panzer Maus at Kubinka Tank Museum Photo by Saiga20K CC BY-SA 3.0

In the end, though, the Maus was deemed simply too impractical and too wasteful of resources to produce. While Hitler initially wanted 150 Maus tanks, he ended up canceling this order.

Only two prototypes were ever produced. One was blown up by the Germans at the end of the war, to prevent it from falling into enemy hands, but the other was captured by the Soviets, and today is housed in the Kubinka Tank Museum in Moscow.

The Maus may not have ended up seeing combat, and its potential effectiveness or lack thereof in terms of the outcome of the war is the subject of much debate, but one cannot help but be impressed by the sight of the largest tank ever built.


The Battle of 73 Easting: The True Story Behind Desert Storm’s Most Intense Tank Battle

When Army Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster was elevated to become President Trump’s national security advisor in 2017, the media was awash with references to his role in the biggest tank fight of Desert Storm, the Battle of 73 Easting. While these stories conveyed the basic outcome of the fight, they did little to illuminate how the battle unfolded or what set the stage before the first cannon shot screamed out of his tank. What turned out to be an amazing and thrilling victory, could easily have been the biggest disaster of Desert Storm.

Twenty-eight years ago this month I was at the Grafenwoehr training center in Germany where my unit, Eagle Troop of the 2nd Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (2nd ACR), was conducting a series of field maneuvers and live fire exercises. The 2nd ACR was one of three cavalry regiments then providing frontline defense against the Warsaw Pact, patrolling the borders between West and East Germany in the north and West Germany and Czechoslovakia in the south.

The Warsaw Pact nations, anchored by the Soviet Union, had more than fifty thousand tanks and millions of troops. Based on the terrain in Central Europe, there was always the risk communist forces could come flooding across a large plain known as the Fulda Gap and potentially defeat the nations of Western Europe. The 2nd ACR was charged with defending the central part of the border, and as such, equipped with hundreds of M1A1 Abrahms Tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, mechanized artillery cannons, and attack helicopters.

On August 2, 1990, I and my Eagle Troop brothers were at Grafenwoehr preparing for a major exercise in which we would maneuver our nine M1 tanks and twelve Bradleys throughout the German countryside against another armored U.S. unit role-playing as a Russia tank brigade, followed by firing live ammunition from the move on a huge firing range. The training was realistic and closely replicated the actual combat conditions we would face had the Russians ever crossed the border and attacked the West.

Before we left our assembly areas for the operation, however, something happened halfway across the world that distracted us from our preparation. Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, had actually done what we feared the Soviets might do: he sent hundreds of tanks and other armored vehicles flooding across their southern border with Kuwait in an unexpected attack and quickly subdued the Kuwait military. At the end of the operation Iraqi tanks were a mere three miles from the Saudi border—representing a dagger at the throat of the oil supply on which most of the Western world depended.

Almost immediately then-Captain McMaster, commander of Eagle Troop, and Squadron operations officer, then-Major Douglas A. Macgregor, adjusted our training to reflect the possibility we—as one of the forward-deployed armored cavalry organizations tasked with making first contact against enemy armored formations—would be called upon to fight Saddam’s troops.

Prior to the maneuver, McMaster addressed his troops and solemnly said, “Men, we must take very seriously what we are about to do. It is possible that the next operations order I give will be in the sands of Iraq.” There was an eerie sense of foreboding as he spoke because we all realized that what had just a few days ago seemed like another routine military maneuver might now be a final preparation for actual combat operations.

In November 1990 the potential turned into reality as the Secretary of Defense ordered the 2nd ACR to Saudi Arabia to potentially lead the U.S. VII Corps into battle. Within a month we were unloading our tanks and other armored vehicles off huge transport ships in the Saudi Arabian port of Al Jubayl. As soon as the vehicles were ready, the regiment began the movement towards the Kuwaiti border to begin final training prior to the attack day, known as “G-Day.” In a stunning mishap during one such exercise, McMaster came within a hair’s breadth of missing the attack altogether!

Since we had trained almost our entire careers in the forests and rolling hills of Europe, we had to rapidly adjust our techniques for the desert. Shortly after arriving in the border region, Macgregor had directed the squadron to conduct a simulated and complex night assault. Nighttime in the desert on a moonless night is so dark you, quite literally, cannot see your hand in front of your face. Using early generations of night vision goggles, we began the challenge of navigating in the dark when we could see no terrain and only with difficulty see our own vehicles.

I was the Eagle Troop fire support officer, which meant I worked hand-in-hand with McMaster to reinforce his battle plans with artillery, mortar, and air support. On this exercise I was in my armored fire support vehicle following directly behind his tank. At a critical moment, he began giving radio instructions for the troop to change the plan and move towards a new objective. Then from about seventy-five yards behind McMaster I saw the silhouettes of two Bradleys driving directly into his path from the left. I tried in vain to warn him over the radio, but because he was in the middle of giving instructions, he didn’t hear me.

I helplessly watched in horror while McMaster continued talking into the radio as the armored hulks closed in on him. My hopes the Bradley driver or commander would see the tank and turn away were dashed when suddenly I saw a hail of sparks fly as the gun tube on McMaster’s tank literally speared into the side of the Bradley, causing both vehicles to lurch to the side and come to rough stop.

My first thought was that, “Oh my God. We’ve killed American soldiers!” I was afraid that the gun tube had penetrated into the crew compartment of the Bradley and killed someone in the cabin—or that the jolt had seriously wounded McMaster or his crew. I raced to the scene of the accident and discovered that miraculously, no one in either vehicle had gotten so much as a scratch.

In the confusion of the Squadron’s first large scale night maneuver, two vehicles from a sister Troop had gotten misoriented and become separated from their unit and had stumbled into McMaster’s path in an attempt to find their headquarters. It is sobering to consider that if that gun tube had hit just a fraction of a second later it would have killed some of the troops and likely ended McMaster’s career before the first shot was fired—or that the impact could have caused his tank ammunition to explode, possibly killing him and his crew. The man we know as the victorious commander at the Battle of 73 Easting came within seconds of being lost before the war had began!

Once he confirmed there were no casualties and that his vehicle was still able to move, McMaster called maintenance personnel to retrieve the Bradley (we discovered the gun tube had actually speared the engine compartment and disabled the vehicle), then continued the exercise as if nothing had happened. As we would soon see, McMaster would react just as rapidly and decisively under fire as he had done in training.

With each exercise the troopers of 2nd ACR grew in confidence despite the fact we knew our mission would be to make initial contact with enemy tanks. Some experts predicted the United States would win the war because of our superior technology and quality soldiers—but they still suggested that the elite Republican Guards Corps would fight fanatically and that lead U.S. cavalry units could expect up to 10 percent casualties in the first battles.

More than once i remember looking around at my fellow Eagle Troopers and wondered which twelve or thirteen of our 135-man troop might never come home—or if I would ever come home. Despite this sobering expectation, however, there was no fear or timidity in Cougar Squadron (as 2nd Squadron was known). Macgregor and McMaster had prepared us so well that when the time to attack came, we were not merely “willing” to engage enemy armor, we thirsted for it.

After weeks of Allied air-and-missile attacks, G-Day was set to be February 23, 1991. Prior to moving out of our assembly areas for the assault, Macgregor went to visit every troop to give them final instructions in person. He felt it was necessary for the men to see their leaders eye to eye before battle. When he arrived at Eagle Troop headquarters, McMaster assembled all the unit’s key leaders to meet him. Macgregor had a reputation for being an inspirational speaker and we were eager to hear what he had to say.

He started off by setting up a battle map and going over the Squadron plans and reiterated Eagle Troop’s role in it. Next, he reminded us that we would succeed because we had superior equipment, we were well trained at both the individual and unit level, and—he emphasized—because we were elite cavalrymen, we were the ones sent into frenzied, uncertain situations bring a sense of order to the chaos to set up follow-on forces for success.


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