Best Tank of the Second World War?


#1

So, I suppose it is time we started this discussion alongside the Aircraft thread.

I am in no way an expert on the subject of tanks, but I know there are some present on this site, so I’m sure we will all be a lot wiser when all is said and done.

I nominate the Panzerkampfwagen V “Panther” as the best medium tank of the war.


(This is the Panther tank at the Dutch War Museum in Overloon, picture by me)

The Panther was a true jack of all trades. It had quite thick armour, but was quick and adept on- and offroad. It also had a very powerful gun, accompanied by sophisticated sights. It had some reliability issues, but not as many as the Tiger. It could competently face nearly every common tank on the battlefield, and was a huge scare to both tank crews AND infantry, mainly due to its enormous size. In the museum at Overloon the Panther was situated opposite a Sherman tank and when you see those two so close you’re just left wondering how the Sherman could ever hope to defeat that monster.

I hope there will be many other suggestions for Medium tanks but also other tank roles!


#2

I’m no tank-afficionado, but I’ve got the one and only true answer:

T-34

Nuff said!


#3

If anybody hasn’t seen it, I’d like to recommend the Cheiftain’s Hatch video on the Panther.

Hopefully we can tempt the man himself to come and post his thoughts too.


#4

A summary of the above video and some other vague ramblings.

Yes on paper, the Panther has a fearsome gun/armor combination and it some ways it is a fantastic tank. It is however let down by a number of factors.

First of all, as Nick points out in the video, the crew will struggle to take full advantage of that gun/armor combo because of poor ergonomics and limited visibility. For plinking T-34s at long range, that might be fine, but at closer range, there’s a good chance that the other tank sees the Panther first and gets off the first shot.

It has poor reliability and serviceability, the oft mentioned final drives being a great example of both of those points. Put that together with high fuel consumption, and you’ve got a tank which is going to struggle to perform any sort of deep penetration of an enemy’s lines on an operational and strategic level.

You could argue that in 1943 the Germans weren’t going to be doing that anyway, but it would be interesting to speculate what Barbarossa would have looked like had the Germans been equipped with Panthers in 1941.


#5

Cough Medium Tank, M4 Cough.


#6

Well, you could certainly make a case.

Easy to make in vast numbers
Reliable
Good tactical and operational mobility
Good survive ability
Easily upgraded
Easy to service
Good gun against anything apart from late war heavies
Good ergonomics and crew comfort


#7

I was attempting to channel Nick, aka The Cheiftain. IIRC, he has some interesting things to say about driving a T-34, not to mention his opinion re: “…help, the tank is on fire!”.

But I concur with your list. Not that I’m biased or anything…
<logs on to World of Tonks, plays a couple of games in the ‘Fury’>


#8

That sounds like it has the potential to turn into a significant emotional event. :slight_smile:


#9

Am I allowed to nominate this? Technically it was just about a WW2 tank.


#10

Running at 6% higher on the Fury’s WR than my WR overall. Most of the emotion seems to currently be at the red team’s expense.

But then, my Easy Eight is at +3% to my WR as well. I suspect I’m just a MT kind of grognard…


#11

I have no idea what any of that means but it all sounds very impressive.


#12

Translation: The M4’s usefulness in a number of roles, can even be seen in the Utopian artificial realm of pixel tanks.


#13

Technically, I’d go Centurion over an IS or a Pershing any day… :stuck_out_tongue:


#14

Obviously, T-34 stronk, is made of pure stalinium, best tank.

Seriously though, the definition of best tank is so vague, so who cares.

People who drive the tank with high crew comfort/survivability would probably be very fond of it, but the tanks aren’t there to make their crew happy, and not even to keep them alive at all costs.


#15

Good ergonomics aren’t just about keeping the crew happy, although a crew that is less beat up from being in the tank is going to be more alert and efficient. Good ergonomics allow the loader to get rounds into the gun more quickly or the driver to change gear more reliably. It allows the TC to have better situational awareness and potentially the gunner to get on target with greater speed.


#16

Good point. But…

There are a lot of myths regarding tanks during WWII, like the Ronson nickname for Shermans. For instance, most lay people will say that the Tiger was a great tank. Yet, it took as much resources to make one Tiger I, as it did (IIRC) five T-34s.

So… does that mean that the T-34 was the best tank in WWII? Well, maybe, maybe not. What about the Sherman, the PzKpfw IV, or even the Matilda II?

The answer is in some circumstances, theatres, etc each made an impact, and performed a role. As the saying goes, “…one person’s fish is another person’s poison/poisson”. As I understand it, we’re just trying to promote discussion on a topic of moderate relevance.


#17

Context is everything. It is a lot like the discussion of “best (such-and-such) airplane.” Best battleship/carrier/destroyer/submarine might be a bit easier, since battle circumstances are more universal. But the Falaise Pocket and Battle of Kursk are such different scenarios that they can’t really be compared side-by-side.

The Char B.2 was one of the best tanks in 1939, but by 1945? The Sherman was superb in the Pacific, but was it adequate in Europe? The T-34 was able to overwhelm battlefields, but was that because it was good or because the built them like tanks were going out of style?

But which was the most effective tank (or tank destroyer) to fight other tanks?


#18

I’ll be a heretic, and say SU-76

Rather than…


#19

Hetzer? It was extremely cost-effective, but came out a bit too late in the war to have the desired effect.


Picture by me made in Overloon, Dutch War Museum


#20

Even the Russians hated that one. Apparently it’s nickname was “the bitch”.