The Merkava IV

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by Pistolenschutze, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. sabashimon

    sabashimon New Member

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    One of the revolutionary (too strong?) concepts of the Merkava is it's ability to carry an 8 man ground force squad, as depicted deploying in this picture.
    It also enables us to affect rescue under fire, something I can personally attest to. During the last go-around in Lebanon, one tank crew rescued 13 soldiers, repeatedly returning for more under intense fire.

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    Last edited: Nov 5, 2007
  2. See Polish, even the sabras agree that the M4 was--at best--"adequate" and won against the T-55s mostly because of better training and tactics on the part of the Israeli crews and brilliant leadership in the field. ;) Shimon is just being more polite to you than I usually am. :D Think of it this way, it was kinda like Rommel and von Arnim v. Lloyd Fredendall at Kaserine Pass. :p

    By the way, Shimon, Polish and I go back and forth like this all the time and nothing is meant by it . . . except the fun we get from a good argument. ;)

    In all seriousness, you do have a valid point, Shimon. In terms of the order of battle, in every war Israel has fought against the Arab states, the victory should easily have gone to Israel's enemies . . . on paper. That it did not is a tribute to the IDF, its men and women in uniform, and to its leadership.
  3. sabashimon

    sabashimon New Member

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    Hey guys, don't draft me into that thing ya'all do, entertaining as it is :D. While I stand by my thoughts on training and motivation, I have the utmost respect and gratitude for the Sherman, in all its incarnations, for it's years of service to us. In it's time and in it's place, it served Israel very well.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2007
  4. It's an argument, er, I meant to say "discussion," :)rolleyes:) that's been going on between Polish and I for two years, Shimon. :D Polish likes the M4 so much that I think he believes it won WWII single-handed, slew Goliath at Socoh, and would have worked far better than the M1s at 73 Easting. ;) I contend that while the Sherman was an "adequate" tank and did indeed accomplish its intended purpose (mostly because we had so many of them!), it could have been and should have been much better than it was. It's 76mm main gun could not even penetrate the armor of German Tigers and Panthers except at extremely close range. That didn't happen very often since the German 88mm on the Tigers and Panthers would have long since put a shell through the tin-foil armor on the M4 and lit it up like a funeral pyre due to its gasoline engine. Had the Germans had time to work the kinks out of their tanks, and had they the industrial capacity to build enough of them, the M4s would have ended up nothing but scrap metal to be recycled into a much better tank.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 6, 2007
  5. 300 H&H

    300 H&H Active Member

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    Sabashimon,
    Really a great idea to be able to house a crew that big. I was wondring about the engine in this tank. Who makes it? And how much power does it have? And most importantly is it enough? Do yu think that diesel power is better than turbine power, in a tank? Best reguards. Kirk
  6. Shimon, when the Merkava was designed, was the intention to make it into a sort of MBT/personnel carrier combination vehicle? I can certainly see where that would have its advantages if there was not too much of a trade off made vis-a-vis its MBT capabilities.
  7. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    When I was at the Patton Museum I picked up a neat book "Tank Warfare," written by an Englishman (Tim Ripley) who is pretty fair in his handling of all designs and tactics since 1916...

    He says the cargo compartment on the Merkava I was more of an afterthought, the placing of the engine up front to give a little more protection for the crew was what was at first revolutionary...and then when the cargo compartment became a reality, it was mainly "at first" for extra ammo...which the Israelis needed more than just about any other army, due to the fact they were usually greatly outnumbered, and in any confrontation one Israeli tank would fire more ammo in a short period of time than any other army...a "Target Rich" environment...each Merkava would then carry 100 main gun rounds, as opposed to usually half that or less in any other tank....

    He specifically cites the battles in the Golan Heights in 73 and then again in the 80s, where literally a Battalion of Israeli Centurions and Pattons took on (and stopped!) over 1500 Syrian T-55s and T-60s from prepared hull down blocking positions...and it was touch and go on ammo...some tanks were constantly backing out of the line to replenish, during the actual battle....

    He said it was later that they first started carrying their own "scouts," then later regular infantry.

    There are also a lot of incidents he cites where IDF tanks get knocked out in Lebanon, for example, and the rescued crew crowd in another tank and are saved, but in a LOT of the incidents it was NOT Merkavas, but Pattons or Centurions... And I thought "BOY that must have been tight!;)!


    Shimon will have to tell me whether what this guy wrote is true....


    But what I don't get is why more tanks don't use the "Chains" to protect the shot trap under the bustle from RPGs and the like....THAT seems like a good idea too...





    And Shimon? I actually LIKE to hear PS squirm trying to "justify" the late war German crap....his arguments (and to be fair, everyone else's in "love" with the late war German stuff on PAPER...that don't go past that)remind me of ...


    "If we had some bacon we could have some bacon and eggs if we had some eggs!" ;)


    I always wonder, am I supposed to APOLOGIZE that we chose to concentrate on such a good tank that we COULD produce in those numbers, and adequately TRAIN our tankers in the tanks they'd be using, then ship those tanks 3000 miles where they performed magnificently? (and incidentally was the MBT of the side that WON?;)


    The same reason the M4 was dominant in late WWII was the same reason the IDF was dominant in it too...in 1944 the average allied (specifically the US) tankers were so much better than the Germans, just as the IDF versus the Egyptian or Syrian tankers...just due to training, experience, and organization, much less doctrine specifically matched to the tank in use...while the Germans are rolling out NEW tanks, warts and all, with little or no training for their inexperienced crews, with even less training for their already lower quality MECHANICS, with little fuel available to even TRAIN them if they HAD the time...and using up valuable manufacturing capability and resources that COULD have been used to produce a tank as GOOD as the Sherman, in numbers still less, but more comparable, that EVERYONE had experience in...The Panzer IV....
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2007
  8. Polish, I generally agree with you on the quality of our tankers . . . to a point. It should be pointed out though that far too many were sent into combat with only a minimal amount of training, especially in the race toward German after D-Day. Check your sources, especially Belton.

    Shimon, Polish simply has no appreciation for ANYTHING made in Germany or by Germans, so keep that in mind when you read his posts. :D He is Germanophobic to the Nth degree! ;) While I believe Nazi Germany was the most foul and evil empire ever created by humankind and deserved every bomb dropped on it and ever round of ammunition expended against it, I do still appreciate the engineering accomplishments of the German people, their government from 1933-1945 notwithstanding. They built excellent tanks, and still do for that matter. Der Polnisch mann ist voll von schei├če. :D;):p
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2007
  9. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    PS, you need to read OTHER sources than Belton:cool:...I have known for a while he was your source of most of your mistatements....

    Belton is one of the most prejudiced when it comes to the Sherman...and many of his "facts" are just plain wrong, or actually just misinterpreted...but you too would have a sour taste on your mouth if your job was to "clean them out," patch the hole and do an engine change and get them back "up" in 24 hours or less....so he can be forgiven.

    The sources that CAN'T be forgiven are the ones so blatantly married to the "German Superiority'"crap, as well as the rapid push to "rehabilitate" Germany and anything German to face the Russians, and in the US Army especially, but also in the shallow and sometimes nauseating German Officer's memoirs immediately after WWII that "explained away" then German defeat....while trying to "maintain" German "Honor...."
  10. Polish, you can pan Belton all you wish, though I think the reason you find his work so distasteful is simply because he emphatically disagrees with your own conclusions. Think what you like, but as for myself, for some reason I have this strange tendency to believe someone who was there and actually saw the events he describes, over armchair historians and politicians writing about something they never experienced, and who all too often have an agenda that lends itself more to propaganda than the reporting of history.

    My argument is, and has always been, that the Germans conceived and designed armored vehicles in World War II that were in principle far superior to Allied designs. That the Germans were, in many ways, their own worst enemies is also true. Their designs were often complex and thus subject to breakdown in the field. The Germans, especially toward the end of the war, did not have the necessary repair infrastructure available to keep them up and running at all times. Also, their designs were often incompatible with the principles of mass production and interchangeability. In the end, that probably made the difference. Had the Germans been able to build 50,000 Tigers to oppose the 50,000 Shermans we built, I shudder to think what the result would have been.

    The Allies, IMHO, also screwed up by the numbers in many important ways. The Sherman was simply no match for any of the later German tank designs; there was no excuse for that, yet we continued to field the M4 despite the mounting losses, both to German armor piercing rounds and hand-held anti-tank weapons. We could have done much better, but we did not. I find that utterly inexcusable. Tactically, the Americans got it right given the equipment they had to work with. Our tactics focused on mobility and mass numbers as opposed to pure firepower, and in the end, it worked. And that brings me to a final point . . .

    You argue that we were wrong to "rehabilitate" the Germans. Frankly, that is an impractical--indeed shortsighted--viewpoint. You forget what we had to face to the East at the end of World War II. The Soviet Union, by war's end, possessed an industrial capacity that rivaled our own, and in some areas, exceeded it. They had a far better tank in the T-34 than anything we had as well. Shermans against T-34s and Stalins would not have been a happy matchup for our side by any means, and we did not have enough of the M-26 Pershings to make any difference. Consider also that the Soviets did not have the Atlantic Ocean to cross to bring their firepower to bear. Yes, we had the BOMB, but is that a real answer? No really, unless you want to destroy what little remained of Europe and kill many millions more civilians. We needed Germany as a bulwark against further Soviet expansion into Western Europe. Anyone must logically conclude that the right political decision was made, no matter how much that may offend your Germanophobic inner prejudices. Fortunately for us, the Russians also held such tendencies. ;)
  11. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

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    Rich, what is funny is that I agree with a LOT of what you say, like IF the Germans COULD have fielded 50,000 Panthers...but the problem is they didn't field 50,000 tanks in TOTAL, INCLUDING captures....heck, I think the number in total is HALF that, for BOTH fronts, for the entire WAR!....one of the REASONS their designs were so BAD for them and the Sherman was so GOOD for us is fitting the proper tank to the proper economy and manufacturing base...the Sherman (and likewise the T-34,") "fit" their respective economies and industrial bases..the Panther and the Tiger did NOT....so that is my big rub...by that definition alone they could not be "superior designs..."

    WE likewise had SEVERAL heavy tank ideas, but we made the WISE decision that we WOULD make 50000 of our "best" tanks in 1942, and design our doctrine AROUND it....if we WOULD have made several competing designs we would have been in the same boat as the Germans....not enough of ANY, not enough trained mechanics to service them, not enough trained tankers to serve in ALL of them...

    It was a WAR WINNING decision...whether you liked or agreed with it or not...

    You pan the Sherman, without EVEN giving any thought to what it DID bring to the table! I'm sure Shimon, and ANYBODY that has fought tanks will concur, that the SINGLE most important element to surviving a fight is NOT armor thickness! It is SEEING, and HITTING your target first...the speed, maneuverability, ability to start and stop QUICKLY, and the mechanical reliability, coupled with the then revolutionary gyro stabilized gun mount which allowed training on the MOVE, which no GERMAN tank could do, which allowed the gun to be accurately fired when the tank stopped MUCH more quickly than any German tank, and it allowed fairly accurate firing on the move, which they used to smother the rare German tank they met with smoke and HE, to ALLOW them to get close to destoy them! (And there are many accounts of untrained late war German crews SURRENDERING to just the HE hits, either from the 75's of the Sherman's, or 105s, and in one case 4.2 inch MORTARS...!)

    The OTHER thing is the rapid rate of fire of the DP 75mm gun of the Sherman which you call a "popgun" or was it a "potato gun?" Not ONLY was it a BETTER gun ballistically than the 76mm of the most common Russian T-34 which I don't hear you belittle, it had probably the FASTEST rate of fire of any contemporary tank gun...that is ONE fact Belton Cooper doesn't cite...ANOTHER reason why the Army was NOT keen on losing it because it was SO handy, why it was KEPT in production, and even the ISRAELIS used it in 1948 and again in 1956, and why the BEST US armored units at the end of the war were by far the MIXED ones, with platoons made up of 2 M4A3 76(wet) and 3 M4A3 75(wet)!

    But what you continually fail to take into account is the simple fact that tank vs. tank action in the West was RARE. So rare as to be almost inconsequential...THAT is where Belton Cooper FAILS! MOST of the Shermans he was cleaning and repairing were knocked out NOT by German tanks, but by ENTRENCHED 75 mm German AT guns, the REALLY effective Hetzer TDs, and Panzerfausts and Panzerschrecks! THAT is what scared our tankers more than ANYTHING, NOT German TANKS....

    And when the GERMANS were the ones attacking? MOST of THEIR tanks were Knocked out by Allied AT guns, Tank Destroyers that HAD the hypershot for their 3" guns, and the 90mms in the M36s, and even INFANTRY with 57mms, mines, bazookas and rifle grenades! Same DIFFERENCE. The ATTACKER lost exponentially MORE tanks than the DEFENDER....

    YES, IF the Germans could have fielded 50,000, or even 10,000 Panthers, that ALSO had better heavy duty engines with usable horsepower and reliable transmissions so they didn't break down so much, and IF they had enough fuel to adequately train their tankers AND mechanics, AND also maintained local air superiority over allied tactical air, they MAY have lengthened the war tremendously...but that is a LOT of "Ifs..." we should be thankful none of those came true, but more to the point, that none of them were EVER close to being possible! But that is and always will be extreme mental masturbation even to confirmed "What IF" Historians!


    Now the Tiger IIs? NOBODY who has fought in tanks will tell you that it was a "good tank." Even GERMANS who fought in them. FORMIDABLE when the rare times one was encountered? YES...but too heavy, to heavy for BRIDGES, (you like maps! LOOK at a map of Europe, note the RIVERS in the AO you would have to fight, and you tell ME whether you would have designed a Tiger II?) too slow, too underpowered, too slow to traverse, too slow to reload and fire a second time, no PS, the Tiger was an "Oddity," maybe not as much as the Maus or Sturmtiger with the 380mm mortar, but certainly as much as the Char B1 Bis, or the KV-II....

    And how many MORE Panthers could they have made if not wasting time, resources, and production capacity on Konigstigers?

    And the Germans NEVER designed even a PASSABLE suspension system for any tank over 25 tons..there is a REASON the "Interleaved Road wheels with torsion bars" was NEVER copied post war! (While the Sherman's post 1944 "state of the art" HVSS system WAS....)

    The Tiger I was a decent tank, for an "assault tank" like a Sherman Dumbo, but with it's VERTICAL glacis plate it was already obsolete when deployed in late 42, and was handled by the Sherman's 75mm M3 gun in Africa...in fact, was the main reason for the first "upgun," from the 75 M2 to the 75mm M3...

    You also have to understand US doctrine, which Belton Cooper does NOT. We had an entire army branch during WWII, BESIDES Armor and Infantry, called the "Tank Destroyer Force." It was EQUAL to Armor, Infantry, hell, even the USAAF! (But what ULTIMATELY proved it to be a waste? So LITTLE combat against TANKS..so they were MAINLY used as SPGs, and to support Infantry, because there actually was a SHORTAGE of Shermans, to support the Infantry Divisions, the Armored Divisions didn't want to give theirs up... but the few times they DID fight tanks, they did a FINE job...)

    The TDs job was to fight German Tanks, toe to toe, alongside the infantry...IT would always get the "Big Guns," while tanks were to exploit, to fight where enemy tanks AREN'T, to fight INFANTRY, and to MOVE FAR and FAST...

    Belton Cooper claims we could have fielded the 90mm in a tank earlier and Patton and others said no before DDay and cancelled the M26 Pershing early...he is flat out WRONG. What HAS been documented is that Patton and others turned down the 76mm for the M4 before DDay...on the grounds that (a) the 75 had a better HE round and rate of fire than the 76mmm (b) the 75mm had proved "adequate" against the Tiger I in Africa (we had faced the first Panthers in Italy, BUT Patton and others thought Germany couldn't have many of them...) and (c) didn't want to mess with two types of ammo in the logistics trail of the (thought soon to be) rapidly advancing Armored Divisions....

    THAT is what Belton Cooper must be referring too, that is WELL documented, but not his claim....

    The 90 was tested for tanks early in the war, and the PROBLEM was our turret rings! We couldn't CAST one large enough to handle even a 75mm UNTIL 1942, and thus the reason for the M3 Grant FIRST in 1941, and THEN the Sherman! Look THAT up...( check the history of the Baldwin Locomotive Works for starters)

    ONE of the reasons we MADE Tank Destroyers with only 1/2" armor and no tops, was to GIVE them more ROOM to operate in that turret with the bigger guns! Have you SEEN the inside of a M10 with even the 76mm? IT got worse with the 3" gun....

    Now experiments CONTINUED trying to mount the 90mm in the M4 chassis and turret, and it DID lead to the M36 and M36Bs (that incidentally, DID handle Panthers and Tiger IIs with ease....) but it only carried a FEW rounds, and was even MORE cramped....but that is how our tankers coped with Panthers and Tigers....you see MANY pictures after Cobra with covering M36s....


    But where Cooper is wrong, is NO ONE canceled or slowed the M26... (the 'T-1," and other "goofy" designs WERE canceled, and one sent to the Russians was REFUSED) but in fact thge M26 was speeded UP to get the few into combat we did, to influence the RUSSIANS...and it suffered the SAME problems the Panther and Tiger did...teething, breakdowns, and it was NEVER a "great" tank during it's service..it was decently armored, and mechanically superior to many other contemporary tanks, but not as reliable as the Sherman...hence why it never actually REPLACED the Sherman in service!

    The M47/M48 which DID replace the Sherman, while SIMILAR to the M26, was actually a whole new design!


    If we did ANYTHING wrong with the M4 it was not adopting the British 17 pounder...they made it work in the Sherman Firefly, and EVERYBODY tells you it was the one allied tank that COULD face up to anything the Germans had, frontally...and of course, people forget that it too was a "Sherman...." showing the versatility of it's superior design, but more on that later....;)



    But the facts remain, and is indisputable, the M4 rewrote the book on armored doctrine in Europe in 1944-45, doing things even the GERMANS could not believe, in road marches, maneuvers, speed...etc.

    The M4 did NOT have losses out of whack to any OTHER tank, when ATTACKING....the reason so MANY Shermans were lost is they were almost ALWAYS attacking after DDay... and most of THAT was right after DDday in the bocage, not "Tank Country" by ANY means...and where Cooper got his first "bad taste." Trust me, put him in the rear of an SS Panzer division doing the same thing, repairing knocked out PANTHERS, with the roles reversed, with his PANTHERS attacking entrenched Americans in that crap, and he would have written a book entitled "Deathtraps" in GERMAN.

    The THREE times the Germans mounted major attacks/Offensives after DDay, were SOUNDLY trounced, by the Allies, USING M4s, along with all other combined arms, with German losses proportionately as high as when the AMERICANS were attacking!

    The Sherman was SUCH a valuable and versatile design, it was used as a basis for an ADDITIONAL 15000 vehicles, ranging from TD, and SPGs, to Bridgelayers, minesweepers, tank recovery vehicles, flamethrower/assault tanks, howitzer tanks, amphibious tanks, etc, and ALSO went on to serve in the world for DECADES after, the same basic designbeing derived into the M1, the M51, the M60 SupersSermans the Israelis used with GREAT effect agaisnt the TOP Soviet Armor designs as late as 1973!

    And while MANY "superior" German weapons designs over the years were copied or even stolen by adversaries..the Mauser, the STG44 (AK47,) the ME262(Mig 15) the V2 (NASA) the MG 42 (M60) the Volkswagen...NONE of the world's post war tanks trace ANY lineage to German WWII tanks!



    On the "rehabilitating" of the Germans, hell YES I understand WHY....but what is SICKENING is how so many Americans did not understand it for what it WAS...in MANY cases (granted, not ALL!) we IGNORED blatant evidence of Nazi atrocities if the "guy" was considered "good to have" against the commies...

    But it was even WORSE than that...witness the "fawning" over Goering, and OTHERS, by many American High ranking officers at Nuremburg!

    YES, we needed a ready German Officer Corps in place with a viable Werhmacht...just like we needed a "stable" Japan under MacArthur, so things got brushed under the rug...which GRANTED maybe we should have done in Iraq..."rehabilitated" competent "Baathists" to positions of power....

    But we didn't need to WORSHIP them in the process...

    It was NOT just "their Government" that committed those atrocities...the "Honorable" German Officer Corps, along with MOST of the German people were willing accomplices to ANY of Hitler's excesses...as long as he was WINNING....:cool:



    And PS?

    I'm surprised at your "I would trust someone who had been there more....."


    YOU know how important to history, but nonetheless how factually WRONG "anecdotal" history can BE!

    Even just in WWII, while we have to cherish, and record for posterity as MUCH of the first hand accounts we can, from our veterans, before we lose them forever, BUT....how much of what they say is flat out WRONG?

    To a veteran in the fight, NOTHING matters in the "big picture" except what might kill HIM right now...MANY times they know nothing happening even over the next HILL and a LOT of their knowledge of the "big picture" is scuttlebutt," and guardhouse RUMORS...

    So it is up to the HISTORIAN to PROTECT the veteran from his own flawed, but NONETHELESS priceless accounts! AND understand what he is saying, to him, IS "gospel...."

    THAT is why, for example, 95% of US veterans of the ETO claim they were shelled by "88s" many times, while the TRUTH is the Germans RARELY (in fact, not ONE documented account!) ever used the 88 in an indirect fire artillery role...HECK, they didn't even use it THAT much in the Anti Tank role in Western Europe, despite myths to the contrary....the FACT is the German's had pretty decent 105mm and 155mm artillery pieces the entire war, but to a GI, EVERYTHING incoming was "88s..."

    And I can show you an account from SLA Marshall where an M8 Greyhound stopped a Panther with one shot from it's 37mm at Bastogne....at one TIME you would have agreed SLA Marshall was a better source than Cooper (even though his WWII stuff has NEVER been challenged....)

    ...have you heard me say the Panther's armor couldn't even stop a 37mm? No...it was a recounting of an anecdotal account...the Greyhound probably DID hit a Panther, and it either then coincidentally lost it's clutch, ran out of gas OR got hit by something else at the same time....




    PS, I respect where you are coming from, and do not blame you, with so MUCH "conventional wisdom" writing out there....MY take is an extrapolation from a LOT of many times CONFLICTING sources, and in all my study, I believe my explanation is closer to the truth of what actually happened than has been explained to date...


    Was the Sherman PERFECT? No...but it was a LOT better than a lot of people (conventional wisdom) think....for ALL different the different tasks it was called upon to face, and on whole was better suited for it's role with the Allied War effort than the German tanks were to Germany's....

    And were the German tanks all Crap? No, they WERE better gunned for tank vs tank action than the Sherman, and had thicker and in many cases better shaped armor...but that is ALL...they were NOT superior in ANY other objective rating of tanks, so were in fact a lot WORSE than "conventional wisdom" says....
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2007
  12. Finally, Polish!!! You state a position I can actually (more or less) accept! No (or little) false hyperbole about Germans and German equipment. I may faint. Where's my nitroglycerine? :D
  13. tranquill

    tranquill New Member

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