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> Tanks or Aircraft, An alternate-history poll
 
Would WW2 Romania have been better off with a modest tank industry? Or the aircraft industry it had?
The aircraft industry which actually existed. [ 7 ]  [25.93%]
A tank industry along the lines of Czechoslovakia or Poland. [ 13 ]  [48.15%]
Split the difference -- repair and license-building of both. [ 7 ]  [25.93%]
Total Votes: 27
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Jeff_S
Posted on July 05, 2005 07:15 pm
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QUOTE (Imperialist @ Jul 3 2005, 03:05 PM)
That would have made little difference in the face of russian onslaught.

That certainly is a reasonable opinion. I was trying to present choices, while at the same time making them reasonable choices. The question is hypothetical, but not a crazy Romanian nationalist fairy tale.

Personally, I think it would have been better to have more armor and anti-tank guns, even at the cost of fewer aircraft. But I don't think any of these choices would have changed the end result by themselves.
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Imperialist
Posted on July 05, 2005 07:29 pm
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QUOTE (Jeff_S @ Jul 5 2005, 07:15 PM)

That certainly is a reasonable opinion. I was trying to present choices, while at the same time making them reasonable choices. The question is hypothetical, but not a crazy Romanian nationalist fairy tale.

Personally, I think it would have been better to have more armor and anti-tank guns, even at the cost of fewer aircraft. But I don't think any of these choices would have changed the end result by themselves.

Yes, I understand, but building a heavy or medium tank takes a lot of money and industrial power, and Romania was not quite that industrial might...
Thats why I chose the aircraft industry. During WWII there still were (from what I know) fighter planes largely made out of cardboard, wood and other "composites". So if the Romanian defense would have concentrated funds on developing a good engine, the rest of the plane could have been obtained cheaper if the design was good enough.
Though that maybe would not have changed much on the eastern front, the valuable experience could have been continued after the war, and a local viable aircraft industry could have been developed. Ofcourse, its an IF, but tanks are an even bigger IF IMO.

take care
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Jeff_S
Posted on July 05, 2005 07:32 pm
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QUOTE (Agarici @ Jul 5 2005, 04:24 PM)
I voted for the last option, but in my opinion the things are more complex than summarized by these three variants.

I agree. The "poll" concept/structure has problems representing complex situations. I wanted to present two "extreme" options, and one compromise. I had been thinking about these questions and was curious what the "sense" of the forum was. There is no European country which "chose tanks" to the exclusion of aircraft in the way I described. All of the countries I mentioned also had aircraft industries, even if they were craft-style rather than mass-production.

There is also the issue of doctrine to consider. Consider the case of the French in 1940: superior in quantity, and in many ways in quality to the German armored force, but unable to have a decisive impact on the battle. I tried to reflect this by making a reasonable (IMHO) extension of what Romania had historically: one armored division and various cavalry formations. Making the armored division stronger, and partially mechanizing/motorizing the cavalry seems like an effort that Romania could realistically have made, if priorities had been different.
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Jeff_S
Posted on July 05, 2005 07:43 pm
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QUOTE (Imperialist @ Jul 5 2005, 07:29 PM)

Yes, I understand, but building a heavy or medium tank takes a lot of money and industrial power, and Romania was not quite that industrial might...

Yes, that's one of the weaknesses of this poll question. I hoped nobody would notice. It's not as simple as saying "if you are allowed one industry, which would you have it be". Making armor plate, high velocity cannon, hydraulic or electric technology to traverse the turret, rangefinders, heavy-duty suspensions, and the other technologies needed to build a tank is not simple. I would say a reasonable comparison is to look at the countries that produced locomotives, high velocity cannon, and modern agricultural machinery (maybe optics and radios too). That's a fairly short list. People with mechanical skill could reasonably build planes in their barns or garages, but you don't hear of people building tanks that way.

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Ofcourse, its an IF, but tanks are an even bigger IF IMO.


Mine too. It would have taken a major effort in the 1930s, or better the 1920s, and it may not have succeeded even then.
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Imperialist
Posted on July 05, 2005 08:03 pm
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I generally would have focused on developing niche weapons. Weapons where innovation (structural or operational) is everything. I dont like seeing small countries thinking in conventional ways. Asymmetry is what they need.
The fact that asymmetry was still possible in an age not yet shaken by the jet engine would have made me choose aircraft industry, like I said before.
As for the anti-tank weapons, I would have focused funds on R&D of a portable anti-tank weapon. edit - man portable, that is.

This post has been edited by Imperialist on July 05, 2005 08:04 pm
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dragos
Posted on July 05, 2005 08:44 pm
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QUOTE (Imperialist @ Jul 5 2005, 11:03 PM)
I generally would have focused on developing niche weapons. Weapons where innovation (structural or operational) is everything. I dont like seeing small countries thinking in conventional ways. Asymmetry is what they need.

I mostly agree with this, with the mention that asymmetry is needed where man/industrial power is lacking (not the case of Soviet Union).

Again, I would have bet for a light anti-tank destroyer production, but given the existing doctrines (especially the French, the main source of inspiration for the Romanian Army) it was little chance for such a scenario.

If Malaxa (later Rogifer) factories were able to assemble a complete armored tracked carrier (UE), I think they would have been able to assemble a light tank destroyer with a Ford engine. The main armament would have been one machinegun and one 37mm gun for 1941, an upgrade for 50mm gun for 1942 and 75mm gun for 1943-1944.

The production of tank-destroyers goes along with the defensive doctrine of Romanian Army.

The main problem with this is not the industrial production, but the lack of experience and hindsight of Romanian military officials.
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Jeff_S
Posted on July 05, 2005 10:45 pm
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QUOTE (dragos @ Jul 5 2005, 08:44 PM)
Again, I would have bet for a light anti-tank destroyer production, but given the existing doctrines (especially the French, the main source of inspiration for the Romanian Army) it was little chance for such a scenario.

Are you thinking of some specific models when you suggest a tank destroyer? Do you mean turreted, like the American M-10 and British Achilles? Or turretless? (Hetzer, Stg III, SU-100)

I ask this because I think the foolishness of pre-war American thinking in this area led to the weak US tank designs. It was based on the idea that tanks would be used against infantry, while enemy tanks would be destroyed by tanks destroyers. If tanks will never need to face enemy tanks, the fact that they are undergunned and underarmored will not be a major disadvantage (just look at the Sherman for an example). The problems only come when war is not so neat, and you cannot calculate exactly where the enemy armor will appear and deploy your tank destroyers accordingly.

That said, the turretless designs have disadvantages too, especially on the offensive. But they are cheap to produce, and powerful in the right setting.
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Florin
Posted on July 06, 2005 03:30 am
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QUOTE (dragos @ Jul 5 2005, 09:06 AM)
However, most of the armed forces at the beginning of the war did not rely on tank-destroyers (which are more economical), but on (light) tanks. We should consider the doctrines in effect at that time. The German heavy tanks in mid-late war IMO were less practicable than a larger number of light tank destroyers.


When the tank entered combat in WWI, it was without turret. The turret was invented in the 20's. In 1939 all notable armies had tanks with turrets, and the turretless tank was all but forgotten. Many designs had a bigger caliber in the hulk / chasis, for a slow velocity explosive shell, and a smaller caliber in the turret, for high speed anti-armor shells. The Germans managed the problem having 2 tanks, the Pz-III with 37mm shell specialized against armor, and the Pz-IV with the 75mm low velocity explosive shell, against infantry and other soft targets.

Later high velocity canons with bigger caliber, with long barrels expensive to manufacture, became the standard equipment. They were useful against armor, due to high velocity, and against infantry, due to bigger caliber, when the right shell was used. The armies also "remembered" the turretless tank of WWI, now named "tank destroyer", able to cope with a stronger recoil on a given chasis, but needing the continuous movement of tracks, to adjust the aim of the gun.
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Imperialist
Posted on July 06, 2005 08:48 am
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Do you think it could have been possible to come up with a Panzerfaust design in 1941? I mean, was it a technological thing that postponed its appearance or the fact that people never thought of it before?
Do you think that if a romanian inventor came up with the idea at the start of WWII and it would have been mass produced, it would have had an impact in the east? I mean, I've seen some vets on TV telling how they struggled to destroy some isolated russian T34s by climbing on top of them and trying to throw a grenade down the hatch or visor , and I've seen one tell how a man in their platoon scrambled on top of a T34 and simply smashed it continuously with a hammer in desperation.
I think a man-portable antitank weapon like Panzerfaust developped in Romania would have been very useful.
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Iamandi
Posted on July 06, 2005 10:34 am
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Related to what sayed Dragos and what asked Jeff in the next post, i will cite from memories - Chenillette UE was adapted to use antitank guns by french and UK (?) even a 2 pdr. (? - if this is a 57 m.m. caliber), and germans used this vechicle as a platform for rockets (not ICBM.. Katiusha style). So, Romania can develeop, in this "what if", at least one cheap tank destroyer, turettless but with his crew protected by an armored shield capable to protect against infantry fire. At base, can be a 37 m.m. before the war, and the second variant will use captured 45 m.m. russian antitank guns, 47 m.m. french Schneider guns (this gun was manufactured under licence in Romania?), 50 m.m. Pak guns.
Another variation can be an self propelled anti-aircraft weapon system with heavy MG's (2 tubes), single 20 m.m. Oerlikon, for the beginning.
Cheap. Easy to manufacture then real tanks, because is not so complex.

CKD tankette AH-IV - with mass production and modification, maybe some turetteless light short barrell howitzer, 37-45-47-50 m.m. Paks...

This two vechicles and theyr imaginary variants can be enough to create some "Division Légère Mécanique" - i think we were too much influenced by french thinking to not follow theyr mistakes. Maybe not so much like them, because AH tankette was much reliable (french AMR suffered from suspention problems), and a secont motivation is represented by this tank destroyer / flak self propelled vechicles who can give more fire power and mobillity to this big units - ex. cavalry divisions.

On the real tanks side... Two dirrections were to follow. Maybe 3. One - french light tanks, two - czech lights tanks, and tree - polish tanks.

I don't like it too much this last dirrection. Polish one.
So, first two are ... well french tanks (Renault 35 in our case) were underpowered, underarmerd, a big problem for the fact that are only 2 people in crew; czech tanks have superior suspention, dedicated gun to a tank, 2 MG's, enough peoples in crew, and are fast comparing Lt-35, Lt 38 with Renault 35.
If we follow this french way... i think we can obtain only something like Churchill brithish tank, in some ways -> low speed and powerfull gun, one Resita 74 m.m. Maybe some self propelled tank destroyer more heavier then Maresal.
In czechoslovakian way, maybe we obtain something comparable with russian T-50 http://www.battlefield.ru/t50.html - one good light tank, and of course the Maresal.


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Jeff_S
Posted on July 06, 2005 03:28 pm
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QUOTE (Florin @ Jul 6 2005, 03:30 AM)
Many designs had a bigger caliber in the hulk / chasis, for a slow velocity explosive shell, and a smaller caliber in the turret, for high speed anti-armor shells.

Were any of these "AT gun in turret/field gun in hull" tanks successful?

I'm aware of two that saw action: the French Char. B1 was useful for its heavy armor, but too unreliable and hard to use effectively in combat. I've also heard it was expensive. The American M3 Lee/Grant was sort of this style, with the 75mm in a barbette with restricted traverse. The high silhouette had to be a drawback in combat. I know they were some use against the Afrika Korps, however.

Let's not forget multi-turret tanks like the Soviet T-35. Long live the Land Battleship!

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Jeff_S
Posted on July 06, 2005 03:45 pm
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QUOTE (Imperialist @ Jul 6 2005, 08:48 AM)
Do you think it could have been possible to come up with a Panzerfaust design in 1941? I mean, was it a technological thing that postponed its appearance or the fact that people never thought of it before?

I'm not aware of any use of shaped or hollow charges in weapons before 1942 (American bazooka) or 1943 (Panzerfaust). I don't know if it was a technical limitation or people just did not think of it.

Pre-war thinking on man-portable AT weapons seemed to focus more on AT rifles, just depending on high velocity and the weight of the round rather than an explosive effects. Obviously these would not have been much help against a T-34. My father spoke of seeing the Finnish Lahti AT rifle at gun shows in the USA after the war. My impression is that it was one of the best of its type. The 20mm Lahti AT rifle.
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Iamandi
Posted on July 07, 2005 05:38 am
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Our polish friends can say a lot of words about their secret at rifle, pre war developed.

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SiG
Posted on July 07, 2005 06:52 am
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QUOTE (Jeff_S @ Jul 6 2005, 03:45 PM)
I'm not aware of any use of shaped or hollow charges in weapons before 1942 (American bazooka) or 1943 (Panzerfaust). I don't know if it was a technical limitation or people just did not think of it.

Hi Jeff! Shaped charges were first used in combat by German soldiers in 1940. Apparently, they had been invented 50 years before! The bazooka was only the first portable wheapon to use shaped charges. If you understand German, here's my source: Panzerlexikon (just click the "Panzerjager" tab in the menu on the left)
So I guess the Romanians could have designed the Panzerfaust in 1941 if they obtained the design of shaped charges (which they had plenty of time to do).
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Iamandi
Posted on July 07, 2005 07:38 am
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Or, let's imagine something more real to be happen: when polish troops have retreat into Romania, a military group or one secreat service member/team from polish govern give to romania http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-tank_rifle_wz.35 this. Some nomber of this antitank rifle, blue prints, etc.
More about that can be find in this forum.

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