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Entries in tank (3)
Finished this last week, though it is just a bit of a practice model really where I was trying out a new painting technique. But still, another toy tank to add to the collection - this model is based on the WW2 Soviet KV-2 tank...
What was particularly nice about this one is it is one of the rather amusing tanks that you also get in World of Tanks - the Troll Canon. The big 152mm gun can really score you some impressive hits and is a nasty surprise for the big bully boys who think that because they are higher tier in a game nothing can damage them...Think again sucka!
Above: Beautiful rendition of the British Achilles self-propelled 'tank killer' in action by Academy models. This illustration shows one of the M10's (as it was designated by the Americans) unusual weaknesses, it's open turret.
British tanks of World War 2 have a somewhat tarnished reputation. It's not that - overall - British tank design was altogether bad, or that British tanks were altogether unreliable, or even that British tank guns were altogether not powerful enough - it's just that British designers, for some reason, could not get the best of these three elements into one tank design at one time. (Photo: The Valentine tank of 1940. Typical of Bitish tank design it was a mixed bag, while it excelled in armour and reliability it was let down by it's speed and under-powered gun. Source: Wikipedia)
It took until the late war and the Comet before Britain produced a tank that had good design, reliability, speed and power all in the one package. But by that time the Allied strategy was 'quantity not quality' and it was the waves of cheap and reliable M4 Shermans with which we eventually over-whelmed the Nazi Tigers and Panthers.
But somehow the British managed to shoe-horn the mighty 17pdr anti-tank gun into the America M4 Sherman and M10 chassis to create a couple of armoured fighting vehicles that could at least give the German Army a run for it's money!
Above: The Sherman 'Firefly' with it massive British 17 Pounder gun. Although the designation 'Firefly' is mostly associated with this armoured vehicle it wasn't the only British tank to bear this name or be armed with this great gun.
The generic name for these British gunned American vehicles was 'Firefly' - and in particular I would like to highlight the little known abilities of the M10 version. The name given to the M10 was 'Achillies' and like the ancient Greek warrior the M10 'Firefly' was a exceptional fighter with a very specific flaw.
In the case of the M10 - designated a 'tank destryer' by the Americans - it was it's lack of defensive armour that was it's Achilles heel. The idea was that the M10 was to use its speed and mobility to counter German armoured break-troughs - essentially a sort of self-propelled anti-tank 'fire engine'.
Above: The M10 'Firefly' Achilles, speed and punch, but at the expense of defensive armour. However with the allies ability to mass-produce vehicles like this in amazing numbers its short-comings were not enough, in the end, to represent an overwhelming disadvantage against the dwindling numbers of 'superior' German tank types.
The effectiveness of the Firefly 17 Pounder was graphically illustrated when - on the 8th of August 1944 - a Sherman Firefly of ‘3 Troop’, A Squadron, 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry destroyed the Tiger tank of the infamous German tank ace Michael Wittman (the 'Black Baron').
With the ability to at least take on the technically superior German tanks the sheer weight of numbers which were rolling off American production lines ensured victory. As such the Achilles Firefly - and Sherman Firefly - were just the right tank at the right time and once and for all dispelled the idea that the British could not get the right gun for the job.
Perhaps the most successful action of the Achilles was conducted by B troop, 245th Battery, 62nd Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery attached to the Hamilton Light Infantry during Operation Charnwood. A mixed German force of Mark IVs and Panthers from the 12th SS Panzer Division attempted to retake the town of Buron. The eight Achilles of B troop had set up in an orchard looking south towards Abbaye d'Ardenne and were ideally placed when the Panzers began their counter-attack. In the brief action, 13 German tanks were knocked out and the attack fell apart. Wikipedia entry for the 17pdr SP Achillies
Eventually this sort of specialist vehicle became obsolete post-war with the universal introduction of the unified tank design, where one tank design fulfilled all the roles previously done by the medium and heavy tank and tank destroyer. With the coming of the Comet tank the British started to get tanks that were right in all the important areas of design - armament, armour, reliability and manoeuvrability.
But the Achillies self-propelled gun admirablly illustrated the British flair for adaption and innovation when the pressure was on, as well as showing that we could take a good American idea and make it better.
Clarification on my argument that this is 'Best of British'!
I've had a few emails pointing out that I am wrong and the M10 SP gun is, in fact, American (produced from 1942 onwards by General Motors). Reading my post again I can see why people may have thought I was inferring that the M10 was 'Best of British' - this was a error in emphasis on my part.
In fact what I was trying to say was 'Best of British' was the 17 Pounder gun and the inspired mating of that gun to the American M10 carriage!
Apologies for the confusion, but I still think the resultant fighting vehicle was sufficiently a different beast because of the British meddling to justify it - and it's sister 'Firefly', the Sherman - being termed 'Best of British' (in much the same way as we think of a Cosworth Escort as a British car, when in fact they simply tinkered with a Ford).
Just doodling this weekend - practising isometric drawing techniques in Adobe Illustrator. The subject is the World War Two British Cromwell tank...
It's a fairly simple style but is great fun and very relaxing and I'm thinking of doing a German Panzer IV next to complement the Cromwell.