For the second Tank Myths article I have decided to talk about some myths on the Russian T-34. It’s considered by many a revolutionary tank and by far the best tank ever built during World War II. My personal opinion is that it was highly overrated and exaggerated.
Myth #1 – T-34 was the first tank ever to use sloped armour and nothing could penetrate it.
It is widely believed that the T-34 was the first tank ever to use sloped armour. However this is not true, French tanks like SOMUA S35 and R35, which had fully cast hulls and turrets, already had sloped armour. In World War I, sloped armour had been partially implemented by the French on their first tank, the Schneider CA1.
Other countries, like Germany, did some studies on the use of sloped armour before World War II and had several reasons not to use it:
- Sloped armour reduces the tank volume, resulting in reduced space for internal modules and crew space.
- It limits the gun size, one of the major points against sloped armour.
- Sloped armour changes the center of gravity in the tank.
We can correctly say, that it was the first mass produced tank to fully use the advantages of sloped armour, but it’s highly incorrect to say it was the first tank ever to use it.
The other day I was reading an article about tanks and it mentioned a few myths. There are a lot of myths about some tanks and it amazed me how many people actually believe they are all true. So, I thought about writing an article covering some of the most popular myths surrounding the Sherman tank.
Myth #1 –The burning Sherman aka Ronson
This must be the most popular myth about the Sherman tank. “Catastrophic hits” to the tank, that is, hits that would cause the tank to either explode or catch on fire. Allegedly, British tank crews nicknamed the tank the Ronson, because the lighter of the same name had a motto of “Lights the first time, every time!”.
The truth is, that early in the war the Sherman had a nearly identical rate of failures when compared to other tanks, like the Panzer IV. Early version of the Sherman had very vulnerable ammo racks, which were stored in the “humps” near the front of the hull. German gunners knew about this, so it was easy for them to hit for catastrophic kills. US Army knew about this problem, so they moved the ammo racks to the bottom of the tank and in mid 1944, they introduced wet stowage to the ammo compartment, resulting in the rate of failure decreasing an incredible 75%. Sherman’s equipped with an wet ammo rack had 15% chances of ammo rack fire or detonation, compared to 60-80% of a dry stowage Sherman.
Conclusion, there is truth behind the myth, but it was exaggerated.