Kakav je bio ishod prve tenkovske bitke?

Kakav je bio ishod prve tenkovske bitke?


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Danas, 24. travnja, obljetnica je prve tenkovske bitke. Kao što je napomenuto na ovoj stranici Wikipedije, radilo se o tri britanska tenka protiv tri njemačka tenka, ali se ne spominje ishod u posebnim odnosima na same tenkove.

Postoje li izvještaji o bitci koji se posebno fokusiraju na oklopne elemente?


Kako su se događaji odvijali

  1. Tri njemačka aviona A7V i isto toliko britanskih jedinica Marka IV (dvije žene i jedan muškarac) podupirale su svoje pješačke jedinice u operacijama. Ženke su imale samo strojnice, dok je mužjak bio naoružan pištoljem od 6 metaka.
  2. Slučajno su se dva odreda našla u oči.
  3. Ženski Mk. IV su bili prisiljeni povući se nakon oštećenja jer im je naoružanje bilo beskorisno protiv njemačkog oklopa.
  4. Muški MK. IV je preuzeo inicijativu i nokautirao vodećeg njemačkog A7V, zabivši više neprijatelja čak i nakon što je tenk onesposobljen i evakuiran, što je rezultiralo smrću 5 njemačkih vojnika.
  5. Preostalo povlačenje A7V.
  6. Muškarac Mk IV okreće se njemačkom pješaštvu, pojačan sa 7 tenkova Whippet.
  7. Njemačko pješaštvo uništilo je četiri od 7 Whippeta.
  8. Njemački minobacački tim postigao je pogodak u potplat mužjaka Mk IV., Zbog čega mu se gubi trag, zbog čega ga se napušta.
  9. Nijemci uspješno oporavljaju napušteni AV7 Wilhelma Blitza.

Dokumentirane činjenice

Ova stranica spominje i citiram:

A7V će biti uključen u prvu ratnu bitku tenkova protiv tenkova 24. travnja 1918. u Drugoj bitci kod Villers -Bretonneux - bitci u kojoj nije bilo jasnog pobjednika.

Zatim, ako pogledamo operativnu povijest tenka A7V, dobit ćemo kratak pregled bitke:

Prvi tenk protiv borbe tenkova u povijesti odigrao se 24. travnja 1918. godine, kada su tri A7V-a (uključujući broj šasije 561, poznat kao "Nixe") koji su sudjelovali u napadu pješaštvom slučajno sreli tri marke Mark IV (dva tenka naoružana mitraljezima i jedan mužjak s dva pištolja od 6 metaka) u blizini Villers-Bretonneuxa.

Tijekom bitke, tenkovi s obje strane su oštećeni.

Prema riječima glavnog zapovjednika tenka, potporučnika Franka Mitchella, žene Mk IV su se povukli nakon što su oštećeni oklopnim mecima. Oni su bili ne mogu oštetiti A7V vlastitim strojnicama.

Mitchell je tada napao vodeći njemački tenk, kojim je zapovijedao potporučnik Wilhelm Biltz, sa 6 kilograma vlastitog tenka i nokautirao ga.

Pogodio ga je tri puta i ubio pet članova posade kad su spašavali. Potom je nastavio uništavati pješaštvo s mecima. Dva preostala A7V su se zauzvrat povukla.

Stranica njemačkog zapovjednika u bitci daje malo više informacija:

Tijekom bitke njegov tenk naišao je na skupinu od tri britanska tenka Mark IV - dva "ženska tenka", naoružana samo strojnicama i jedan "muški tenk", naoružan topovima od 6 kilograma.

Oba britanska tenka oštećena su i povučena su, jer njihovi mitraljezi nisu imali utjecaja na Blitzov A7V. U tekućoj bitci koja je uslijedila, oba tenka su manevrirala kako bi izbjegli tuđu vatru dok su se postrojili protivniku. Biltzov tenk izgubio je dvoboj - britanski tenk ga je tri puta pogodio i nagnuo na bok. The posada napuštena njihov A7V ali pet ih je ubijeno nastavljenom vatrom iz Marka IV, koji je nastavio djelovati na još dva tenka A7V koji su se pojavili na mjestu događaja.

Biltzovi ljudi uspjeli su kasnije povratiti svoj oštećeni tenk.

Sama bitka nije završila nakon ovog dvoboja.

Kako se Mitchellov tenk povlačio iz akcije (Za angažiranje njemačkog pješaštva), sedam tenkova Whippet također je angažiralo pješaštvo. Četiri od njih su bila nokautiran u bitci, a nije jasno je li netko od njih angažirao njemačke tenkove u povlačenju. Mitchellovom tenku se izgubio trag pred kraj bitke iz minobacačke granate i napušten je.

Zaključak

Zaruke bi se nazvale neodlučne jer:

  1. Dva britanska tenka morala su se povući zbog nemogućnosti probijanja oklopa njemačkih A7V.
  2. Jedan od njemačkih tenkova je izbačen, ali su ga Nijemci uspješno vratili. Britanci međutim nisu uspjeli vratiti svoj napušteni tenk.
  3. Obje su strane pretrpjele štetu
  4. Dva preživjela A7V -a također su se morala povući.
  5. Britanske tenkove također su njemačke pješačke i minobacačke jedinice prisilile na povlačenje.

Nijedna strana nije odlučno pobijedila drugu stranu. Međutim, Britanci bi mogli dati blagu prednost čisto na temelju toga što je njihov posljednji tenk koji je stajao na terenu, kada je jedan od A7V izbačen, a dva su se morala povući.


Prva bitka na Sommi

Naši urednici će pregledati ono što ste podnijeli i odlučiti trebate li izmijeniti članak.

Prva bitka na Sommi, (1. srpnja - 13. studenoga 1916.), skupa i uglavnom neuspješna saveznička ofenziva na Zapadnoj fronti tijekom Prvog svjetskog rata. Stravično krvoproliće prvog dana bitke postalo je metafora za uzaludno i neselektivno klanje.

1. srpnja 1916., nakon tjedan dana dugotrajnog topničkog bombardiranja, 11 divizija Britanske četvrte armije (nedavno stvorene i smještene pod Sir Henryjem Rawlinsonom) započelo je napad sjeverno od Somme na frontu koji se protezao 24 km od Serre i Beaumont-Hamel na jug pored Thiepvala, Ovillersa i Fricourta (istočno od Alberta), a zatim na istok i jug do Maricourta, sjeverno od Curlua. U isto vrijeme, Francuzi su napali s pet divizija na frontu od 13 kilometara uglavnom južno od rijeke (od Curlua prema Péronneu), gdje je njemački obrambeni sustav bio manje razvijen.

Dok su Francuzi imali više od 900 teških topova, Britanci su imali jedva polovicu ovog broja za širu frontu. Dodatni nedostaci ispričani su u Povijest Velikog rata na temelju službenih dokumenata (Britanska službena povijest), u kojem se navodi da je problem s kojim se suočio britanski vrhovni zapovjednik Douglas Haig u osnovi bio „napad na tvrđavu ... Mora se priznati da problem nije cijenjen u G.H.Q. (generalni štab)." Umjesto toga, „neuspjesi iz prošlosti su prouzročeni drugim razlozima osim snažne upotrebe mitraljeza od strane neprijatelja i njegove znanstveno planirane obrane“. Tako je stvorena atmosfera lažnog povjerenja. To je potaknulo Haiga na kockanje u proboju, dok su Rawlinsonove razumnije sumnje dovele do toga da je plan postao kompromis, pogodan ni za brz prodor, ni za opsadni napad. Rawlinson je želio dugo bombardiranje i kratki napredak. Na kraju mu je dopušten prvi, no Haig ga je nadvladao na drugom, uputivši se da s lijeve strane zauzme njemačku prvu i drugu poziciju jednim potezom. Haig je čak i vlastiti topnički savjetnik upozorio da previše "razvlači" svoju raspoloživu moć oružja. "Rawlinson je uvjeravao vrhovnog zapovjednika da će vjerno izvršavati 'ove upute', ali privatno je bio uvjeren da se temelje na lažnim premisama i na prevelikom optimizmu." Ishod bitke trebao je pokazati opasnost od ove vrste lojalnosti.

Haig je pokazao "sve veći optimizam" kako se dan bitke približavao, iako su se resursi Francuza i posljedično njihov mogući doprinos stalno smanjivali zbog odljeva bitke kod Verduna. Haigov optimizam pojavio se čak i u dodatnim uputama koje je izdao: britansko je konjaništvo prvo jutro trebalo odjahati do Bapaumea, na pučinu. Zanimljiviji od Haigovog mišljenja bio je način na koji mu se Rawlinson pridružio u uvjeravanju svojih podređenih da će bombardiranje oboriti svaki otpor i da će "pješaštvo samo morati prići i zauzeti posjed". U prvim raspravama Haig je također rekao da "korpus ne smije napadati sve dok njihovi zapovjednici ne budu uvjereni da je neprijateljska obrana dovoljno uništena, ali čini se da je ovo stanje s vremenom odbačeno".

Ostalo je pitanje može li britansko pješaštvo prijeći ničiju zemlju prije nego što se baraž podigne. Bila je to utrka sa smrću koju je vodilo gotovo 60.000 vojnika. Cijela masa, sastavljena od usko zbijenih valova ljudi, trebala je biti lansirana zajedno, bez utvrđivanja je li bombardiranje doista paraliziralo otpor. Prema uputama Četvrte armije, ti su valovi trebali napredovati "ujednačenim tempom" simetrično poravnati, poput redova s ​​devet igala spremnih za srušenje. "Ne spominje se nužnost dobrog prijelaza ničije zemlje kako bi se stiglo do ograde prije nego što neprijatelj stigne do nje." Ipak, to bi bilo fizički nemoguće jer je "pješak bio toliko opterećen da se nije mogao kretati brže od hoda". Svaki je čovjek nosio 30 kilograma opreme, teret koji je često iznosio više od polovine vlastite tjelesne težine vojnika, "zbog čega je bilo teško izaći iz rova, nemoguće se kretati mnogo brže od sporog hoda, ili brzo ustati i leći. ”

Utrka je izgubljena prije početka, a bitka ubrzo nakon toga. Više od 60.000 ljudi bili su žrtve plana koji nije uspio. 20.000 ubijenih u akciji označilo je najteži gubitak koji je britanska vojska ikada pretrpjela. Taj rezultat i njegovi uzroci bacili su čudan odraz na riječi koje je Haig napisao uoči napada: "Osjećam da je svaki korak u mom planu napravljen uz Božansku pomoć." Zapovjednici su iza fronte izvještaje činili ružnijima nego što to opravdavaju činjenice, a također i očito, nego što su sami zapovjednici vjerovali. "Zarobljavanje zatvorenika, ali ne i teške žrtve, redovito su prijavljivani." Neznanje u takvim uvjetima bilo je prirodno, ali prijevara manje opravdana.

Saveznici nisu uspjeli iskoristiti uspjeh koji su na jugu postigli britansko desno krilo, a uočljivije Francuzi. "Stožer četvrte armije tijekom dana nije izdao nikakve naredbe ili upute", osim nekoliko manjih detalja Britanska službena povijest. 1. srpnja u 22:00 sata, Rawlinson je samo naredio svom korpusu da ujednačeno "nastavi napad". "Nisu predloženi da se uspjesi nekih postignu za poboljšanje položaja onih koji su zakazali." Neskrivene pripreme i dugo bombardiranje odali su svaku priliku za iznenađenje, a pred njemačkim otporom, brojčano slabim, ali organizacijski jakim, napad nije uspio na većem dijelu britanskog fronta. Zbog usvojenih gustih i krutih valovitih formacija, gubici su bili užasno veliki. Tek na jugu britanske fronte, u blizini Fricourta i Montaubana, napad je stekao pravi oslonac u njemačkoj obrani. Francuzi, uz slabije protivljenje i s daleko jačim topništvom - kao i potpomognuti činjenicom da su bili manje očekivani - napredovali su dublje.

Taj je zastoj uklonio mogućnost prilično brzog prodora do Bapaumea i Cambraija, a Haig je usvojio metodu iscrpljivanja ograničenog napretka s ciljem iscrpljivanja njemačke snage. Haig je odbacio plan francuskog zapovjednika, Josepha-Jacques-Césaire Joffrea, da svoje trupe ponovno frontalno baci na obranu Thiepvala. Napad je nastavljen samo na južnom britanskom krilu, a 14. srpnja zauzimanje druge linije Nijemaca (Longueval, Bazentin-le-Petit i Ovillers) ponudilo je priliku za iskorištavanje, što nije iskorišteno. Od tada se nastavio metodičan, ali skup napredak, iako je postignuto malo uspjeha.

U jednom pogledu, Somme je bacio značajno svjetlo na budućnost, jer su se 15. rujna 1916. pojavili prvi tenkovi. Njihovo rano zaposlenje prije nego što je veliki broj bio spreman bilo je greška: izgubilo se šansa za veliko strateško iznenađenje, a zbog taktičkog pogrešnog rukovanja i manjih tehničkih nedostataka imali su samo ograničen uspjeh. Iako su više vojne vlasti izgubile vjeru u njih (s nekima su išle toliko daleko da su zahtijevale njihovo napuštanje), pronicljivije oči shvatile su da se ovdje radi o ključu koji će, kad se pravilno koristi, otključati barijeru rova.

Ofenziva na Somme srušila se u blatu kad je došao studeni, iako je njezino tužno finale djelomično iskupljeno udarcem koji je 13. studenog izveo general Hubert Gough na još uvijek netaknutom boku glavne ofenzive 1916. godine. Četveromjesečna borba zasigurno je nanijela ozbiljan pritisak njemačkom otporu kao i napadačima. Obje su strane izgubile ogroman broj ljudi koji nikada neće biti zamijenjeni. Britanski gubici iznosili su oko 420.000. Francuzi, koji su imali sve veću ulogu u kasnijim fazama, sami su povećali svoje račune za ratne žrtve za 194.000. U odnosu na ukupno više od 600.000 saveznika, Nijemci su pretrpjeli više od 440.000 žrtava. Taj je broj znatno povećao pruski general Fritz von Below naredbom da se svako dvorište izgubljenog rova ​​mora preuzeti protunapadom.


‘Jednom tanker, uvijek tanker’

Paul Sousa gleda u glomazni tenk M1A1 Abrams s naklonošću muškarca srednjih godina ponovno spojenog sa svojim prvim automobilom. Stvar je duga 32 stope i teška je gotovo 68 tona, ali za njega je to jedan slatki set kotača.

"Ovo je moja zvijer", smiješi se. “Bio sam na tim stvarima 18 godina. Za Desert Storm bio sam u jednome 100 sati ravno - izašao sam samo u kupaonicu, pomogao gorivu ili držao mitraljez dok su drugi momci punili gorivo. ”

Otprilike 1.900 ovih čudovišta poslano je protiv Iračana u Pustinjskoj oluji. Neprijatelj je imao tisuće upotrebljivih tenkova iz sovjetskog doba, ali ništa što bi moglo parirati vatrenoj moći nadohvat ruke Sousa, topnika iz prve konjičke divizije.

Modernizirane verzije M1A1 još uvijek su stacionirane diljem svijeta, ali ova je, smještena u kutu Muzeja američke baštine površine 67.000 četvornih metara u Stowu, u Massachusettsu, jedini takav spremnik na javnom izlaganju u svijetu.

Povlačenje Iračana zapalilo je naftna polja Burgan. Ubrzo se Perzijskim zaljevom proširio uljni, otrovni oblak širok više od 30 milja. "Mogli smo samo vidjeti tračak svjetla na horizontu", kaže topnik Paul Beaulieu. "Iznad nas je bio oblak dima s naftnih polja, a ispod nas je zemlja bila natopljena uljem."

Na M1A1 su bila četiri vojnika: zapovjednik, vozač, topnik i utovarivač. Ovi se dečki nazivaju tankerima. "Jednom tanker, uvijek tanker", vole reći. Zapovjednik sjedi gore i promatra okolni teren. Vozač je ispred, glava mu viri iz rupe ispod pištolja. Sjediti na mjestu topnika, međutim, znači imati osjećaj da je oko vas napravljen stroj. Nema ni centimetra slobodne sobe samo niz opreme i streljiva u vašem licu.

"Za mene je cijeli rat proveo dolje u mraku, gledajući kroz periskop", dodaje Sousa. "Nekako zajebano."

Rano ujutro 24. veljače, koalicijske snage potajno su se protezale oko 300 milja duž saudijsko-iračke granice. Irački vojni dužnosnici imali su određene sumnje, ali nisu na njih djelovali.

"Reći ću vam jednu stvar - moja majka je to shvatila", kaže Randy Richert, koji je služio u prvoj pješačkoj diviziji. Obučavao se kao tanker, ali zatekao se kao pukovnik u pokretnim tenkovskim formacijama u i oko njih u nenaoružanom Humveeu, poput dupina koji preskače mahunu kitova.

“Mama je stalno slušala vijesti o svim ostalim podjelama koje su se gomilale u blizini Kuvajta, na istoku, ali ništa o nama. Zato je rekla svojim prijateljima: 'Mislim da je Randy tamo negdje u pustinji.' ”

Prije Pustinjske oluje, mnogi vojni tankeri proveli su veći dio desetljeća na M1A1 u Europi - obučavajući se za mogućnost sovjetske invazije preko Željezne zavjese.

"Bilo je to vrijeme Hladnog rata", prisjeća se Paul Beaulieu, topnik. “Uvijek smo bili na oprezu i uvijek čekali tu sovjetsku invaziju. Nisam ni sanjao da ću završiti tu obuku negdje u pustinji, ali bio sam spreman. ”

Šetajući po M1A1 američkog muzeja kulturne baštine, Beaulieu primjećuje da mu je napredni sustav ovjesa spremnika pružio iznenađujuće glatku vožnju, čak i po najgrubljem pustinjskom terenu. Pokazujući na obližnji starinski tenk Sheridan M551 iz 1960 -ih, koji je također služio u Desert Storm, dodaje: "U usporedbi s vožnjom u tom tenku, ovo je poput Cadillaca." Ironično, Sheridan je zapravo izgradio Cadillac.


10 najvećih tenkovskih borbi u vojnoj povijesti

Otkad su prva oklopna vozila puzala po izmučenim bojnim prostorima Prvog svjetskog rata, tenkovi su postali neizbrisivo uporište kopnenog ratovanja. Mnogi su se sukobi tenkovi na tenkovima događali tijekom godina, neki značajniji-i epski-od drugih. Evo 10 o kojima morate znati.

Gornja slika: Irački tenk izgorio tijekom operacije Pustinjska oluja 1991.

Bitke navedene kronološkim redoslijedom.

1. Bitka kod Cambraija (1917.)

Vođena krajem 1917., ova bitka na Zapadnom frontu bila je prva velika tenkovska bitka u vojnoj povijesti i prva velika upotreba kombiniranog naoružanja velikih razmjera, označavajući pravu prekretnicu u povijesti ratovanja. Kako bilježi povjesničar Hew Strachan, "najveći pojedinačni intelektualni pomak u ratu između 1914. i 1918. bio je taj što je bitka za kombinirano naoružanje planirana oko sposobnosti oružja, a ne pješaštva." I zajedno, Strachan se odnosi na koordinirane korištenje trajnog i puzećeg topništva, pješaštva, zrakoplova i, naravno, tenkova.

Dana 20. studenoga 1917. Britanci su napali Cambrai sa 476 tenkova, od čega 378 borbenih tenkova. Užasnuti Nijemci bili su potpuno iznenađeni jer je ofenziva isklesala prodor od 4000 metara duž fronta od šest milja. Bio je to napredak bez presedana u inače statičnom ratu opsade. Nijemci su se na kraju oporavili nakon pokretanja protunapada, ali ofenziva pod vodstvom tenkova pokazala je nevjerojatan potencijal mobilnog, mehaniziranog ratovanja-lekcija koja je dobro iskorištena samo godinu dana kasnije u posljednjem naletu prema Njemačkoj.

2. Bitka za Khalkhin Gol (1939.)

Prva velika tenkovska bitka u Drugom svjetskom ratu sukobila je sovjetsku Crvenu armiju s japanskom carskom armijom duž mongolske i sibirske granice. Smješten u kontekst kinesko-japanskog rata 1937.-1945., Japan je tvrdio da je Khalkhin Gol označavao granicu između Mongolije i Manchukua (naziv za okupiranu Mandžuriju), dok su Sovjeti inzistirali na granici koja se nalazi istočnije kroz Nomonhan (zbog čega se ovaj angažman ponekad naziva i incidentom u Nomonhanu). Do neprijateljstava je došlo u svibnju 1939. kada su sovjetske trupe okupirale sporno područje.

Zarobljeni japanski vojnici (foto: Victor A. Tëmyn)

Nakon početnog japanskog uspjeha, Sovjeti su se suprotstavili s 58.000 vojnika, gotovo 500 tenkova i oko 250 zrakoplova. Ujutro 20. kolovoza, general Georgy Zhukov izveo je iznenadni napad nakon što je glumio obrambeno držanje. Kako se brutalni dan odvijao, vrućine su postale tlačne i dosegle su 40 stupnjeva F (40 stupnjeva Celzijusa), zbog čega su se mitraljezi i topovi zaglavili. Sovjetski tenkovi T-26 (prethodnik visoko učinkovitih T-34) nadmašili su zastarjele japanske tenkove, čijim topovima nedostaju oklopni projektili. No, Japanci su se očajnički borili, uključujući dramatičan trenutak u kojem je poručnik Sadakaji svojim samurajskim mačem napunio tenk dok ga nisu posjekli.

Rusko okruženje koje je uslijedilo omogućilo je potpuno uništenje snaga generala Komatsubare, što je rezultiralo 61.000 žrtava. Crvena armija je, naprotiv, pretrpjela 7.974 poginulih i 15.251 ranjenih. Bitka je označila početak slavnog vojnog vodstva Zhukova tijekom rata, istovremeno pokazujući važnost obmane, te tehnološke i brojčane superiornosti u tenkovskom ratu.

11 tajnih oružja koja je Japan razvio tijekom Drugog svjetskog rata

Obično su to zapadne sile koje se pamte po razvoju nekih od najinovativnijih i

3. Bitka kod Arrasa (1940.)

Ne treba se miješati s bitkom kod Arrasa 1917., u ovom angažmanu u Drugom svjetskom ratu prikazane su britanske ekspedicijske snage (BEF) protiv njemačkog Blitzkriega koji je brzo napredovao prema francuskoj obali.

Rommel, na slici u sredini, pogrešno je mislio da ga je napalo pet pješačkih divizija tijekom bitke za Arras. (Bundesarchiv, Bild)

20. svibnja 1940. vikont Gort iz BEF -a naredio je protunapad, kodnog naziva Frankforce, na Nijemce. U njemu su sudjelovala dva pješačka bataljuna od 2.000 ljudi - i samo 74 tenka. BBC opisuje što se zatim dogodilo:

Pješačke bojne podijeljene su u dvije kolone za napad koji se dogodio 21. svibnja. Desna kolona u početku je brzo napredovala, uzevši brojne njemačke zarobljenike, ali su ubrzo naišli na njemačko pješaštvo i SS, podržani zračnom podrškom, i pretrpjeli velike gubitke.

Lijeva kolona također je postigla rani uspjeh prije nego što je naišla na protivljenje pješačkih postrojbi brigadira Erwina Rommela 7. tenkovske divizije.

Francusko pokriće omogućilo je britanskim trupama da se te noći povuku na svoje bivše položaje. Frankforce je bio gotov, a sutradan su se Nijemci pregrupirali i nastavili napredovanje.

Frankforce je uzeo oko 400 njemačkih zarobljenika i nanio sličan broj žrtava, kao i uništivši brojne tenkove. Operacija je pogodila daleko više od svoje težine - napad je bio toliko žestok da je 7. tenkovska divizija vjerovala da ga je napalo pet pješačkih divizija.

Zanimljivo je da neki povjesničari vjeruju da je ovaj žestoki protunapad uvjerio njemačke generale da proglase prekid 24. svibnja - kratku stanku u Blitzkriegu koja je BEF -u omogućila dodatno vrijeme za evakuaciju svojih trupa tijekom Čuda u Dunkirku.

10 šokantnih načina na koji se Drugi svjetski rat mogao završiti drugačije

Odluke tijekom rata monumentalne su stvari. Svaki potez i kontra potez imaju potencijal da…


Do 1915. godine borbe u rovu bile su dobro uspostavljene, a Veliki rat postao je pat -pozicija. Kad bi bilo koja strana pokušala prijeći kopno bez ljudi, bodljikava žica zaustavila bi vojnike u tragovima, a mitraljezi bi imali posljednju riječ. Način prelaska prekinutog tla, drobljenja žice i utišavanja oružja bio je očajnički potreban.

Tadašnji britanski premijer Gretat David Lloyd George već je mogao vidjeti kako će se odlučiti o ishodu ovog rata kada je rekao da je ldquothis rat inženjera & rdquo.

Dana 29. rujna 1915., vojni dostojanstvenici pozvani su da dođu pogledati nešto zanimljivo u tvornicu William Foster and Co Ltd na Firth Roadu u Lincolnu. Kad su dostojanstvenici Ratnog ureda ušli u veliki šator, vidjeli su drvenu maketu novog oružja: tenka. Reći da je vojska bila impresionirana bilo bi veliko podcjenjivanje, a dizajnerskom timu Fostersa rečeno je da moraju dovršiti stroj spreman za testiranje što je prije moguće.

Radnici u Fosteru zaprepastili su sve kad su početkom siječnja 1916., otprilike tri mjeseca kasnije, objavili da je prototipni stroj sada spreman za sve što vojska može baciti na njega - po imenu Mali Willie. Testiranje je provedeno u mirnom okruženju Burton Parka u blizini Lincolna, a zatim je stroj poslan na službena ispitivanja u Hatfield Park u Hertfordshireu.

Tenk je prošao kroz sve to, zauzevši rovove i močvarno tlo. Sljedeća faza proizvodnje imala je za cilj stvoriti tenk koji bi mogao prelaziti šire rovove i tako je rođen prvi borbeni tenk na svijetu - po imenu Mother - rođen.

Nakon što se majka pokazala vrijednom, zapovijedi su počele stizati i Lincoln je postao poznat kao & lsquoTank Town & rsquo (vidi gore lijevo). Strojevi napravljeni po ugledu na majku uskoro su napustili Lincoln kako bi ih koristili u prvoj tenkovskoj bitci u svijetu 15. rujna 1916.

Tenkovi dizajnirani u Lincolnu bili su toliko uspješni da su ih počele proizvoditi tvornice diljem Velike Britanije kako bi bile u koraku s potražnjom. Odgovor na bodljikavu žicu pronađen je kod malih poljoprivrednih proizvođača u Lincolnu i zvao se spremnik.

Ljudi u Lincolnu bili su ponosni na Trittonov izum, a tenkovi su doista paradirali ulicama grada prije nego što su krenuli u rat (vidi gore desno).

Bez tenka pat pozicija Velikog rata nastavila bi se, možda čak i do 1920 -ih, a tada bi i u budućnosti bilo izgubljeno još tisuća života.

Više od 100 godina kasnije, samo je nekoliko tenkova iz Velikog rata preživjelo danas - jedan od njih je ženski tenk Mk IV izložen u Muzeju života Lincolnshirea.

Izum tenka obilježen je u Lincolnu spomenikom Lincoln Tank na kružnom toku Tritton Road u blizini Sveučilišta Lincoln (vidi desno).

Riječi i slike zahvaljujući Richardu Pullenu iz Prijatelja tenka Lincoln. Kupite DVD 'Birth of the Tanks ' na mreži.


Bitka kod Cambraija, 20. studenog- 7. prosinca 1917

Bitka kod Cambraija, 20. studenog-7. prosinca 1917., bila je prva tenkovska bitka velikih razmjera u povijesti. Pokrenuta je nakon općeg neuspjeha glavne britanske jesenske ofenzive 1917., Treće bitke za Ypres, poznate po blatu Passchendaele. Ironično, loše vrijeme u Ypresu očuvalo je tenkovski korpus koji je do studenog mogao izbaciti preko 300 tenkova.

Ideju za napad na Cambrai razvio je brigadni general H. Elles, zapovjednik tenkovskog korpusa. Htio je pokrenuti masovni napad sa svojim tenkovima preko suhog kredastog tla u Cambraiju, gdje njegovi tenkovi ne bi & riskirali rizik da se zaglave u blatu. Njegove je planove s određenim entuzijazmom prihvatio general Sir Julian Byng, zapovjednik Treće armije.

Njegovi topnici također su smislili plan koji je kombinirao tenkovski napad s novom vrstom topničkog bombardiranja koja nije zahtijevala dugotrajnu pripremu. Ranija bombardiranja zahtijevala su prethodno razdoblje & ldquoregistration & rdquo u kojem je svaka baterija pištolja ispalila vježbe kako bi utvrdila gdje su njihovi hici ispali. To je upozorilo branitelje na mogućnost napada i omogućilo im prikupljanje pričuve. Brigadni general H.H. Tudor osmislio je sustav za elektroničko registriranje oružja, izbjegavajući tako potrebu za dugim pripremama.

Napad na Cambrai trebao je izvesti nešto više od 300 tenkova raspoređenih uz 10 000 jardi ispred koje je podržalo osam pješačkih divizija. Pješaštvo je trebalo napredovati blizu tenkova kako bi im pružilo blisku podršku. Topničko bombardiranje započelo bi na dan napada, ne upozoravajući na nadolazeći napad.

Topničko bombardiranje počelo je u 6.20 sati 20. studenoga 1917. Dvije njemačke divizije u Cambraiju, 20. Landwehr i 54. pričuvne divizije, potpuno su zatečeni. Uz veći dio linije britanski tenkovi puzali su kroz njemačku žicu, preko rovova i uz blisku pješačku potporu dopirali su čak četiri milje do njemačkih linija.

Položaj nije bio toliko obećavajući u središtu britanske linije. Zapovjednik njemačke 54. pričuvne divizije pripremio je protuoklopnu taktiku, temeljenu na upotrebi topništva protiv sporo pokretnih ciljeva. Pješaštvo 51. brdske divizije bilo je previše iza tenkova, ostavljajući ih ranjivima. Jedanaest ih je uništeno pred napredujućim gorštacima. Krajem prvog dana Britanci su stvorili razmak od šest milja u njemačkim linijama, ali s istaknutim u središtu.

Uspjeh u Cambraiju 20. studenog tretiran je kao velika pobjeda u Britaniji, gdje su crkvena zvona odjeknula prvi put od 1914. Međutim, nakon velikih uspjeha 20. studenog napredovanje je usporilo. Tenkovi iz 1917. godine još uvijek nisu bili mehanički pouzdani, a mnogi su se pokvarili pod naprezanjem. Tijekom sljedećeg tjedna postignut je određeni ograničeni napredak, ali obrana Siegfriedove linije je ostala.

Dok su Britanci napredovali, Nijemci su se pripremali za protunapad. Dana 30. studenog 20. njemačke divizije pod zapovjedništvom prijestolonasljednika Rupprechta i generala von Marwitza pokrenule su masovni protunapad koji je prisilio Britance da napuste mnoga područja koja su zauzeli 20. studenog, a čak su zauzeli i neka područja koja su Britanci držali prije početka bitka. Dana 4. prosinca Haig je naredio povlačenje većine preostalih istaknutih strana radi skraćivanja linija. Bitka koja je započela tako dramatičnim probojem završila je vraćanjem statusa quo.

Gubici su bili otprilike jednaki s obje strane. Britanci su izgubili 43.000 ljudi, mnogi tijekom njemačkog protunapada. Gubici Nijemaca bili su slični, između 40.000 i 50.000 ljudi. Glavno postignuće britanskog tenkovskog zbora u Cambraiju bilo je predobro pokazati potencijal tenka. Njemački tenkovski program bio je možda njihov najveći neuspjeh u ratu. U ključnim bitkama 1918. Nijemci će se morati osloniti na zarobljene britanske i francuske tenkove i vrlo mali broj vlastitih strašnih tenkova A7V.

Ironclads iz Cambraija, Bryan Cooper. Klasičan prikaz prve velike tenkovske bitke, kratki trijumf koji je unatoč završetku neriješenim rezultatima pomogao otvoriti put konačnim savezničkim pobjedama 1918. godine, a u kojem se tenk pojavio kao važno ratno oružje nakon prilično skromne borbe uvod u uslugu [pročitajte cijeli pregled]

Cambrai 1917: Rođenje oklopnog rata, Alexander Turner. Dobro organiziran i ilustriran prikaz prve bitke u kojoj se tenk u velikom broju koristio kao udarno oružje.

Bitka kod Cambraija (20. studenog do 4. prosinca 1917.)

Bitka kod Cambraija, napad na liniju Hindenburg u studenom 1917., bila je još jedna krvava i besmislena ofenziva na Zapadnoj fronti. Ipak, otkrila je taktičke inovacije s obje strane koje će se iskoristiti u velikoj mjeri u borbama 1918. godine kako bi se okončao zastoj koji je paralizirao zaraćene strane na Zapadnoj fronti od 1914. godine.

Najspektakularniji od njih bila je upotreba tenkova britanske vojske koji su, po prvi put, bili odlučujući element u bitci, međutim nove metode protunapada koje su upotrijebili Nijemci vjerojatno su bili najvažniji skok naprijed u kratkom i srednjoročno.

Britanci su tenkove prvi put koristili u rujnu 1916. za vrijeme bitke na Sommi, a otkriveno je da će biti od male koristi nakon što je neprijatelj prošao početni element iznenađenja. Činilo se da su borbe 1917. potvrdile sve veće sumnje u ove nepouzdane strojeve koji su bili spori i osjetljivi na teško topništvo. Pokušaji Britanaca da ih izvedu na Arras i Passchendaele, a Francuzi na grebenu Chemin des Dames završili su katastrofom.

Njemačko vrhovno zapovjedništvo nije sporo odbacilo ni novo oružje, ocijenivši da je od male koristi i da nema budućnosti. Međutim, s britanske strane, časnici Tank korpusa uložili su odlučan napor u promicanju uporabe svojih glomaznih strojeva, inzistirajući na tome da bi oni mogli ostvariti nada za proboj. Jedan od tih časnika bio je potpukovnik John Fuller i zalagao se za masovnu upotrebu tenkova na suhom terenu za razliku od blatnih polja Flandrije. Općenito odbijen od strane generala Douglasa Haiga prije Cambraija, velika tenkovska operacija postala je neizbježna kada su Britanci shvatili da se Treća bitka kod Ypresa pretvara u tragičan neuspjeh. Od tog trenutka Haig je računao da će mu tenkovi omogućiti odlučujući proboj koji očekuje savezničko javno mnijenje zabrinuto zbog sve slabijeg ruskog otpora.

Cambrai je britansko zapovjedništvo odabralo kao mjesto za ofenzivu. Grad, jedno od glavnih željezničkih raskrižja i njemačkih garnizona Zapadne fronte, ležao je na prostranoj krednoj ravnici koja je bila idealan teren za tenkove. Grad je na zapadnoj strani doista bio zaštićen snažnom obranom Hindenburške linije, no britanska je obavještajna služba znala da točku napada drže trupe koje su oslabile velikim gubicima na Ypresu i koje su kasnije prebacile na dio fronta koji je Nijemci se smatraju manje važnima.

Plan napada koji je osmislio general Julian Byng, zapovjednik britanske 3. armije, bio je iznimno sofisticiran. Predložio je frontalni napad na liniju Hindenburg kako bi stvorio proboj na njemačkom frontu koji bi mogle iskoristiti tri divizije konjanika koje bi nastavile zahvatiti i zauzeti Cambrai. Pripreme za napad prekinute su i s nedavnom vojnom dogmom: ne bi došlo do preliminarnog teškog granatiranja kako bi se sačuvao element iznenađenja, stotine tenkova koristilo bi se za otvaranje rute kroz obranu, a zračna podrška intervenirala bi na njemačkom straga provjeriti dolazak pojačanja.

Napad je započeo 20. studenog u 6.20 sati uz frontu široku deset kilometara. Tenkovski korpus osigurao je 476 tenkova (od kojih je 350 bilo naoružano) za vođenje šest pješačkih divizija na teren. Bombardiranje koje je pratilo napad pažljivo je tempirano i iznenadilo je Nijemce. Britanci su također koristili Livens projektore za tuširanje otrovnim plinom na raznim dijelovima prednje strane.

Tenkovi su im prethodili kišom eksplozivnih granata brzo napredovali i ubrzo stigli do neprijateljskih rovova. Hindenburška linija nikada prije nije bila tako duboko probijena. Iznenađenje i teror izazvani tenkovima među njemačkim redovima doveli su do povlačenja nekoliko jedinica i Britanci su prvog dana ofenzive uzeli 8000 zarobljenika. Nikada napad nije tako brzo napredovao od 1914. godine, a do večeri 20. studenog britanska avangarda osvojila je devet kilometara terena i približavala se Cambraiju.

No još jednom je problem iskorištavanja početnog iskoraka. Anegdotski dokazi ukazuju na to da je britanski tenk kompromitirao kretanje konjice u blizini brda Masnières, ali temeljniji problem bio je zakašnjeli dolazak pojačanja uzrokovan velikim gužvama na cestama: vojnicima je trebalo petnaest sati da pokriju posljednjih pet kilometara ispred.

Zapravo, utjecaj prvog napada nestao je zajedno s elementom iznenađenja i Nijemci su uskoro uznemiravali najistaknutije postrojbe s visina Bourlon Wooda. Britanci su 23. studenog počeli nešto poduzeti po tom pitanju, baš kad su u Velikoj Britaniji počela zvoniti zvona u znak obilježavanja čudesne pobjede. Pod tučom topničke vatre, nekoliko tenkova i velška pješačka brigada uspjeli su se uporiti u dijelu Bourlon Wooda, ali su se ubrzo našli izolirani.

Ludendorffova prva reakcija na veliko povlačenje brzo je napuštena u korist izvođenja kontranapada. On je krenuo u okupljanje dvadeset divizija i do jutra 30. studenog bile su spremne na odmazdu. Njihov uspjeh bio je trenutan i poražavajući. Podržani hrpom granata otrovnih plinova, Nijemci su napredovali više od pet kilometara u dva sata i, u jednom trenutku, zaprijetili da će obuhvatiti nekoliko britanskih divizija koje su se izolirale u manjem izdvajanju. Ludendorff je proveo u djelo nove metode borbe koje su se sastojale od infiltriranja u neprijateljske redove malim grupama visokokvalificiranih i teško naoružanih vojnika. Ove nove taktike infiltracije, koje je razvio zapovjednik na terenu Oskar von Hutier, već su bile uspješne na talijanskom frontu.

Do kraja borbi, 4. prosinca, početni i neočekivani uspjeh britanske vojske prerastao je u potpuni neuspjeh. Sav teren koji je osvojen u početnim fazama ofenzive morao je biti napušten, a gubici, iako slični za obje strane, bili su veliki. Britanski gubici iznosili su 44 000 poginulih, ranjenih i izgubljenih u akciji (uključujući 6 000 zarobljenika), a Nijemci 45 000 (uključujući 10 000 zarobljenika).

Yves Le Maner
Direktor La Coupolea
Centar za povijest i sjećanje Sjeverne Francuske


PRVI SVJETSKI RAT

U Drugom svjetskom ratu Dwight D. Eisenhower i George S. Patton, Jr. ostvarili su svoja najveća vojnička djela i postigli trajnu slavu zbog uloge koju su odigrali u porazu nacističke Njemačke. Manje je poznata njihova služba u Prvom svjetskom ratu, kada su obojica bili uključeni u rađanje novog oblika ratovanja namijenjenog revoluciji na bojnom polju i promjeni načina vođenja ratova. Kao časnici u novom tenkovskom korpusu vojske Sjedinjenih Država, pomogli su u razvoju tehnologije gusjeničarskih oklopnih borbenih vozila, kao i doktrine koja će kasnije regulirati njihovu upotrebu, a time su i pomogli u postavljanju temelja za buduće pobjede u sukobu gdje bi tenk došao na svoje kao oružje odluka. 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. MH

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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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