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Yanks: ASL Module 3» Forums » Strategy

Subject: M10 Design rss

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Is the M10 a design flaw? Many war designs later changed to perform a different role as their potential was better identified. The Boeing B17 for example, was originally designed for an anti-shipping role but was later reclassified as a stationary target bomber. The M10 has incredibly light skinned armor, and although it was designed to take the place of the M3 halftrack, it's movement isn't increased very much and as a designated Anti-Tank vehicle, it seems incredibly vulnerable and ill suited to that task. I'd think it better suited as an infantry support vehicle. What do you think?
 
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Andy Beaton
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Joey or Gunny wrote:
Is the M10 a design flaw? Many war designs later changed to perform a different role as their potential was better identified. The Boeing B17 for example, was originally designed for an anti-shipping role but was later reclassified as a stationary target bomber. The M10 has incredibly light skinned armor, and although it was designed to take the place of the M3 halftrack, it's movement isn't increased very much and as a designated Anti-Tank vehicle, it seems incredibly vulnerable and ill suited to that task. I'd think it better suited as an infantry support vehicle. What do you think?


The open top makes it a lousy infantry support vehicle, as does the gun which (I understand) was optimized for AP performance.
 
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Mark McG
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I think it was more a stop gap that used existing components to fulfill a requirement.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M10_tank_destroyer

It is essentially a 3 inch gun Anti-Tank gun on a Sherman chassis. I was designed to motorise the 3 inch (towed) gun, and if subsequent designs like the M18 Hellcat, the vehicle was too slow rather than under armoured.

Tank vs tank combat was not the US Army (nor the German Army) ideal. Generally they wanted anti-tank guns to destroy tanks, tanks to destroy infantry, and infantry to overrun guns.



 
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Bruce Probst
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US anti-tank philosophy before and during WW2 was based on ideas and thoughts that were never tested in battle before they were put into practice, and heavily relied on assumptions about how a typical battle would proceed, nice and neat and organised and everyone would know their place and do the right thing at the right time ("everyone" including the enemy!).

The M4 (Sherman) was designed for infantry support and was, in fact, excellent in that role. Fast enough, reliable, and an effective gun platform, German infantry usually hated and feared being attacked by Shermans, if they didn't have any heavy anti-tank support available.

What the Sherman was not designed for was the anti-tank role, which as we know it was not very suitable for, even if the Germans had not been fielding far superior AFVs (usually). The idea was that if a tank formation encountered enemy tanks, it would pull out and let the local anti-tank units (towed guns and self-propelled guns) take care of them.

The problem of course is that a) gracefully withdrawing under fire is not always very easy; b) those anti-tank assets might not actually be anywhere nearby; c) even if they were, getting them into battle gracefully might not be very easy; and d) the Germans consistently refused to abide by the American battle manuals.

It basically took about twelve months of practical battlefield experience (starting in Tunisia), with tankers screaming at their superiors that they needed better tanks, and they needed them now, before the idea started to penetrate that the old manuals needed to be rewritten. The first step was to make the 3-inch anti-tank gun available for the Sherman -- which helped (but paradoxically reduced the Sherman's effectiveness as infantry support). Other steps included redesigned ammo storage to reduce the incidence of burning, and various armour improvements. These were all important, but eventually the idea sank in that what was needed was a true multi-purpose tank with real weight behind it, and that led to the M26 (Pershing).

As for the M10s, aside from their problems in fighting in their intended role, they were also often pressed into service as infantry support vehicles, because there's never a Sherman around when you need one. Since they were not designed for this role it is no surprise that they were very poor at it.

So, yes, the M10 was a "mistake", in the sense that the entire US doctrine that led to it was flawed. The M10 (and M18 and M36) was an excellent expression of that doctrine, though. The wrong tool, but a very well-made wrong tool ....
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Hawkeye
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What Bruce said. An excellent summary ...
 
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