Aren't light tanks utterly useless?

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There is no magic trick here, I think.

Just reduce as much as possible enemy attack, cover it with your defensive stat so you take less damage per hour and shorten the combat as much as possible so you get as few casualties as possible. Basically for an armored division against an infantry division, a lot of hardness, enough armor to protect against piercing, enough breakthrough to defend against enemy attack and all the soft attack you can put in. This will reduced combat loss as much as possible from the division standpoint, this doesn't means that it is wise as you might have increased your IC to a point you still take much more damage than having crappy stuff that will suffer more but cost far less.

The only way to find the better spot would be to test it directly in game.
The one thing you've missed in this list is the hit points trade off. Your tanks loss rate is proportional to the total tanks in the division divided by hit points which means that if you still have sufficient concentration of force then fewer tanks and more infantry will often reduce tank losses. This can be highly significant, especially since, if those armoured divisions are still powerful enough to push, you will end up with more armoured divisions pushing. It is the trickiest optimisation as it creates a conflict between maximising attack and breakthrough versus maximising hit points and the best mix is very circumstantial making it difficult to define an optimum division.
 
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Is this literally 'all' that you think AFV/tank does?
You could add the fact that it provides protection to the mounted weapon and its crew. But other than mobility and protection, I don't quite understand what else it adds.
I'm going to answer this because it is something about WW2 warfare that needs to be appreciated to understand the impact of tanks.

Throughout history there has been a steady increase in the effectiveness of weapon systems at causing casualties. This is a somewhat obscure issue until relatively modern times when the progression from 1815 to 1915 is spectacularly apparent. One of the unexpected things about this is that this has led to corresponding reduction in casualty rates, sounds weird but it is true. In 1815 it wasn't unexpected for armies to take 20+% casualties in a single day of combat. By 1915 we are into the standard rate of the 20th century of 1% per day in combat. The main cause is that increased lethality causes increased dispersion and increased use of cover and concealment on the battlefield along with, and this is also important, the ability to block a mass concentrated attack (think a hollywood mobs charging to the attack) by smaller and smaller forces.

Then along comes tanks. The first important impact of tanks was to suddenly introduce a significant reduction in lethality of weapons. Tanks are largely immune to area of effect weapons. Whilst they may be vulnerable to artillery it generally requires a direct hit or a very close miss. The overall effect from the initial introduction of tanks is to reverse the trends - casualty rate increase and dispersion of force is significantly reduced. The practical import is tanks enable improved concentration of force (which is simulated in HOI4) and an increased tempo of combat (which isn't). This is the first important effect of tanks, the indirect impact dispersion and combat tempo. This is what makes tanks good for achieving breakthroughs and the reason why tank units would tend to take higher losses than other units.

The second impact is that tanks did something to restore battlefield mobility. From the mid 19th century the cavalry role of superior battlefield mobility disappeared from warfare and this was restored by the introduction of tanks. This meant that an operational level there was a greater ability to manoeuvre against the enemy that could only be properly countered by having mobile forces of your own.

On top of that there was the deep penetration effects which were a key to German and Soviet doctrine with the idea that once tanks had broken through they could be used to inflict widespread destruction on rear echelon forces such as artillery, supply, command and so on. This was important stuff that was effectively quite new as the last time the equivalent battlefield mobility had been available battles were relatively short (may be a few days) and troops generally didn't need to resupply mid battle. This rear area disruption effect isn't directly simulated in HOI4 but some effects like the overrun rules are doing something closely related.

That's what tanks do.

And, in case anyone was wondering, since then weapon lethality has further significantly increased leading to a situation were modern warfare has become distinctly more dispersed than WW2
 
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I'm going to answer this because it is something about WW2 warfare that needs to be appreciated to understand the impact of tanks.

Throughout history there has been a steady increase in the effectiveness of weapon systems at causing casualties. This is a somewhat obscure issue until relatively modern times when the progression from 1815 to 1915 is spectacularly apparent.

Agreed that weapon effectiveness (not necessarily lethality) has increased.

Because of it, you no longer have large closed rank formations on the battlefield.

One of the unexpected things about this is that this has led to corresponding reduction in casualty rates, sounds weird but it is true. In 1815 it wasn't unexpected for armies to take 20+% casualties in a single day of combat. By 1915 we are into the standard rate of the 20th century of 1% per day in combat.
Well in this case, it's a little more difficult if you ask me.

For one, WW1 is much better documented than 19th century warfare, which has led to the non-combatants (cooks, blacksmiths, supply personnel) being included in army rolls for a particular battle, while for the 19th century battles that was not necessarily the case. As a result you're comparing apples to oranges, WW1 battles where "casualties/(combatants + non-combatants)*time" and Napoleonic war battles where "casualties/(combatants)*time"

For two, what we call a "Battle" in WW1 and what we call a "Battle" in the 19th century is very different. When we look at 19th century combat, we usually look at big battles without accounting for patrol clashes and pre-battle maneuvering. If we take the approach "Lethality = Casualties/time" and reduce the amount of time to literally hours when most fighting happened, we will get skewed results.

The main cause is that increased lethality causes increased dispersion and increased use of cover and concealment on the battlefield along with, and this is also important, the ability to block a mass concentrated attack (think a hollywood mobs charging to the attack) by smaller and smaller forces.

I would argue dispersion was not due to lethality increases, but rather range increases.

When you have rifles that can hit a target at 0.5 mile (1 KM), the only way you can negate that is by dispersing your men into smaller targets.

Then along comes tanks. The first important impact of tanks was to suddenly introduce a significant reduction in lethality of weapons. Tanks are largely immune to area of effect weapons. Whilst they may be vulnerable to artillery it generally requires a direct hit or a very close miss. The overall effect from the initial introduction of tanks is to reverse the trends - casualty rate increase and dispersion of force is significantly reduced.
I called this "Protection". Maybe should have expanded on the idea, but yes: tanks are immune to High-explosive artillery fire for the most part as well as shrapnel.

Force concentration: is more difficult. You could mass heavy artillery and achieve the same result as a tank achieves. Just tanks would likely kill off targets a lot faster due to better accuracy. You could also replace tanks with "foot tanks": infantry support/close support cannons, and they would perform the same duty basically.

in WW1 Germany proved this: they didn't build tanks, unlike the Entente, but they were the ones that managed to make successful offensives regularly. They solved the problem by massing infantry support artillery and regular artillery.

The practical import is tanks enable improved concentration of force (which is simulated in HOI4) and an increased tempo of combat (which isn't). This is the first important effect of tanks, the indirect impact dispersion and combat tempo. This is what makes tanks good for achieving breakthroughs and the reason why tank units would tend to take higher losses than other units.

HOI4 does simulate both. Both are reflected in tanks having the highest soft attack-to-combat width ratio of all battalions in the game.

Without tanks you can't break enemy lines fast enough.

The second impact is that tanks did something to restore battlefield mobility. From the mid 19th century the cavalry role of superior battlefield mobility disappeared from warfare and this was restored by the introduction of tanks. This meant that an operational level there was a greater ability to manoeuvre against the enemy that could only be properly countered by having mobile forces of your own.

I would argue tanks didn't restore battlefield mobility that cavalry lost, it was APCs that did.

Key difference is cavalry units can act completely separately, without a need for any other unit to support them: while any tank/afv needs infantry cover due to its blindness.

Tanks IMO are an ideological continuation of "Horse artillery" which differed from foot artillery by having higher mobility.

On top of that there was the deep penetration effects which were a key to German and Soviet doctrine with the idea that once tanks had broken through they could be used to inflict widespread destruction on rear echelon forces such as artillery, supply, command and so on. This was important stuff that was effectively quite new as the last time the equivalent battlefield mobility had been available battles were relatively short (may be a few days) and troops generally didn't need to resupply mid battle. This rear area disruption effect isn't directly simulated in HOI4 but some effects like the overrun rules are doing something closely related.

True, it's impossible to simulate. Unless you severely expand combat phases into a much greater variety.

That's what tanks do.

And, in case anyone was wondering, since then weapon lethality has further significantly increased leading to a situation were modern warfare has become distinctly more dispersed than WW2
I would argue it hasn't become more dispersed. It's just most wars in modern times have completely unequal enemies, no close matches.

We have the Iran-Iraq war from the 1970s, Russia-Ukraine war of the past 2 years, Korean war and a few others.

The issue is that usually the enemies fighting in the most recent wars are not even remotely evenly matched, resulting in one side being overrun within a few months. After that, you get guerilla and anti-insurgency warfare that overshadows the "conventional warfare" part and makes you think that warfare has become more dispersed.
 
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The one thing you've missed in this list is the hit points trade off. Your tanks loss rate is proportional to the total tanks in the division divided by hit points which means that if you still have sufficient concentration of force then fewer tanks and more infantry will often reduce tank losses. This can be highly significant, especially since, if those armoured divisions are still powerful enough to push, you will end up with more armoured divisions pushing. It is the trickiest optimisation as it creates a conflict between maximising attack and breakthrough versus maximising hit points and the best mix is very circumstantial making it difficult to define an optimum division.

You are right, unless using the other solution, having a full LSPG division, and in fact, instead of a "hard" division to take fire and protect the SPG a bunch of single infantry battalion is probably the most effective way to go as you will lose more, but it will be cheap.
 
@Cornutus I'm not going to quote all your post because this is going to a kind of general response.

The general principle of improved combat/weapon systems across history leading to increased articulation and reduced casualties is actually fairly well studied and extends across the whole span of history from ancient times. I've expressed the increased articulation part as dispersion because in modern times it has manifested as increased dispersion., the actual underlying change is characterised as increased articulation - a steady reduction of the size of units that would operate independently which has led to the basic tactical units being a fire team. If looked at on a long timescale the patterns become utterly obvious and it is broadly unnecessary to look at individual mechanisms. You can look at specific examples and claim that you are comparing apples and oranges but that doesn't help explain what is going on and if you step back from it and collect gross statistics then patterns emerge.

One of the significant things when you look at the detail is that it isn't directly the weapons that create this effect, it is really about how armies respond to those weapons once the work out the implications. WW1 is massively significant in this respect as you can see the transition through that war as both sides move from limited mostly designed for direct fire artillery and a handful of machine guns to masses of artillery and machine guns and casualties don't escalate, if anything they reduce as everyone more or less works out how to operate in the new battlefield conditions.
in WW1 Germany proved this: they didn't build tanks, unlike the Entente, but they were the ones that managed to make successful offensives regularly. They solved the problem by massing infantry support artillery and regular artillery.
This is incorrect. Britain was the country that most full mastered the use of artillery in offensive operations in WW1, what the Germans came up with was the modern tactical doctrine that everyone has since adopted. The must fundamental element of this was the basic principal of reinforcing failure instead of success. It cannot be over emphasised that one of the mistakes being made before this point was everybody reinforcing failed attacks to make them successful based on the principal that successful attacks had already succeeded. The secondary aspect of this was the successful attacks were to continue forward rather than focus on providing assistance to the unsuccessful parts of an operation.

I'm going to repeat. The most important aspect of tanks is that their armour, by making the totality of enemy weapons less effective, is a mechanism for increasing combat intensity and concentration of force. If you study a few historical infantry attacks (on their own) and a few armour attacks then one of the biggest differences is the speed and intensity of the fighting. The casualty rates are significantly elevated but it is all over quicker.

I would argue it hasn't become more dispersed. It's just most wars in modern times have completely unequal enemies, no close matches.
Overwhelmingly the best examples for looking at this are the Arab-Israeli wars and the Russo-Ukraine war. If you look at the 1967 war we see the Israelis making a mess of Arab forces using standard Soviet tactics due to being set up for accurate long range tank gunnery. Something that wasn't achievable in WW2. This was followed up by the Israelis discovery the new limitations on traditional tank warfare in the 1973 war. In both cases there is evidence that improved weapons have changed things and made WW2 mass tank attacks much weaker and much more dangerous than before.

Skipping forward to the Russo-Ukraine war there is further change with the lethality of modern weapons being sufficient to severely constrain the ability of traditional armoured tactics to operate effectively. This is a significant warning that should the USA come up against an adequately equipped (and trained) enemy their doctrine is going fail, although, to be fair, they aren't going to find out because there isn't an adequately equipped enemy. It also means that we really cannot look at any modern day military performance as a useful input to the design of HOI4.

After all, lets face it - a MBT getting taken out by an enemy tank when completely hidden behind a farmhouse is kind of shocking really when you think about. Failure of concealment and failure of hard cover.
 
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Machine-gun only tanks weren`t something that anybody purposefully tried to develop even in 20s, it was purely a stop-gap or industrial problem thing even during 20s

Eh, the Vickers light tanks had a heavy machine gun as the main armament (a 12.7mm or 15mm machine gun), and they were designed in the 1930s. (for reconnaissance and colonial policing). Plus the Matilda I infantry tank was designed with a heavy machine gun as the sole armament,

The entire "Soviet tanks had wide tracks" BS needs to finally die. Soviets designed T-34 for 0,62kg/cm2 Germans designed Pz4 for 0,69kg/cm2.
At the end of their carrier T-34 had 0,83 kg/cm2 and Pz-4 had 0,89 kg/cm2
The difference was always negligible, and the more or less only issue was that Germans were increasing weight of their already in production vehicles faster.

German tank mobility problems on the eastern front were significant enough that manufacturers devised several sets of tracks that were different (wider) to the original track design, in order to improve mobility.
The point was that under HOI4s mechanics, there is no ability to alter a tank's mobility in different kinds of terrain at the equipment level. It can only be done at the battalion level, which as I said, then creates the problem that the same equipment has different terrain penalties depending on the techs that ingame countries have researched.
As it is, Country A has researched the tech "don't get stuck in mud", and their tanks don't get stuck in mud. Country B has not researched this tech. Country A lend-leases a bunch of their tanks to country B. Country B's tanks still get stuck in mud, while Country A's do not, even though it's the same tank. This is what HOI4 does, and there's no way round that.

Which also means that any tank units you want to be useful in close terrain like jungles, cities, where small size and good traction were advantages, has to be a separate battalion type than other tank units.
Historically, Japan made a lot use of light tanks in urban and jungle terrain in China and south-east Asia, so how should that be modelled ?

And how would you handle "downgrading" support units to lighter tanks like T-70, Chaffie, M3 ?
I don't think I understand the point you're making here ? What do you mean by downgrading ?


My main issue is that I still can't really see how to properly model the British tank use in HOI4, in a way that would allow the player to send and receive tanks via lend-lease that other countries can use.
 
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@Cornutus I'm not going to quote all your post because this is going to a kind of general response.

The general principle of improved combat/weapon systems across history leading to increased articulation and reduced casualties is actually fairly well studied and extends across the whole span of history from ancient times. I've expressed the increased articulation part as dispersion because in modern times it has manifested as increased dispersion., the actual underlying change is characterised as increased articulation - a steady reduction of the size of units that would operate independently which has led to the basic tactical units being a fire team. If looked at on a long timescale the patterns become utterly obvious and it is broadly unnecessary to look at individual mechanisms. You can look at specific examples and claim that you are comparing apples and oranges but that doesn't help explain what is going on and if you step back from it and collect gross statistics then patterns emerge.

I don't buy that.

I would actually argue the opposite. In late Medieval times, the army was formed by companies, then in the 18th century it became formed by regiments. In the 19th century, you had divisions take over, in the 20th century you have corps as the main fighting force. Dependency of infantry on artillery and other support units attached to larger command has only increased and the amount of independency a Captain/Major had in the 18th century vs WW2 was incomparable.

Independent operation of small units: is typical for guerilla warfare, where you couldn't use the French "Methodical battle" approach as it was way too slow in reaction, and you're not going to call a full division's power to counter a gang of 50 shepherds on pickups/donkeys.

Most notably you would see this in the French army: there was (and likely still is) a strict division between "Metropole units" and "Colonial units" where Colonial officers had much higher initiative, reaction, capacity to act independently than highly restrained officers that only served in Europe.

Similarly, this was actually a major problem the Russians encountered in 1904 against the Japanese: their army units stationed in Asia adapted a very small-task force approach based on experience in Central Asia. When they encountered the Japanese, they were overwhelmed because Japanese prepared to fight a conventional regular army, and did not disperse their units in small task forces (where Russians put up three combat teams of regiments with 2-4 field guns per regiment, Japanese put up a coordinated division equal in number but with centralized control). Russian troops had to change their ways.

You see the same today, where officers with experience of small-scale guerilla warfare (like Sean Mcfate) go as far as rejecting large-scale conventional warfare altogether. And from this you get ideas like "small teams being basic tactical units". It works when your enemy is an untrained insurgent with an unlicensed AK clone, but as soon as you hit a properly organized enemy, small teams can't pack a punch.


One of the significant things when you look at the detail is that it isn't directly the weapons that create this effect, it is really about how armies respond to those weapons once the work out the implications. WW1 is massively significant in this respect as you can see the transition through that war as both sides move from limited mostly designed for direct fire artillery and a handful of machine guns to masses of artillery and machine guns and casualties don't escalate, if anything they reduce as everyone more or less works out how to operate in the new battlefield conditions.

There indeed was a transition of weapons to better adapt to the new circumstances. But there were other factors.

1. Any war starts with both sides usually being very cocky and willing to get into decisive action. Exceptions are rare. WW1 in that regard was a standard war: French thought they will break the Germans with their "Elan" while Germans thought their operational class would steamroll the French.

After that the standard situation is either one side achieves a critical victory that decapitates the other, or both sides restrain themselves and take a pause until they believe they've gained an edge over the enemy. That's is what happened in WW1, but that is a standard occurrence.

2. After the first few months, both Germans and French depleted their prewar artillery ammunition reserves. Once that happened, they had to tone down their operations until the industry production would catchup with the needs.

After that, a lot of WW1 was governed by availability of ammunition to each side: when they had it, an offensive started. When they didn't, offensives would be put on pause.

This is incorrect. Britain was the country that most full mastered the use of artillery in offensive operations in WW1, what the Germans came up with was the modern tactical doctrine that everyone has since adopted. The must fundamental element of this was the basic principal of reinforcing failure instead of success. It cannot be over emphasised that one of the mistakes being made before this point was everybody reinforcing failed attacks to make them successful based on the principal that successful attacks had already succeeded. The secondary aspect of this was the successful attacks were to continue forward rather than focus on providing assistance to the unsuccessful parts of an operation.

I could be wrong, but I never heard anything spectacular about British land artillery in WW1. French yes, Russians maybe, Germans a ton. The only thing the British pioneered was creeping barrage, but it didn't really succeed with the level of implementation they had.

If anything, British artillery was probably competing for the worst of all majors with Italy, Turkey and Austro-Hungary, especially in terms of equipment. There was a reason why the British conceptually replaced their WW1 artillery with the 25 pounder.

I'm going to repeat. The most important aspect of tanks is that their armour, by making the totality of enemy weapons less effective, is a mechanism for increasing combat intensity and concentration of force. If you study a few historical infantry attacks (on their own) and a few armour attacks then one of the biggest differences is the speed and intensity of the fighting. The casualty rates are significantly elevated but it is all over quicker.

Partly agree. A tank basically negated 90% of weapons it faced, just by having bulletproof armor. A late WW1 infantry template (which was used in WW2 by Italy and Balkan countries) had only about 4% of its weapons capable to damage a tank.

But armor on its own is useless. A tank needs a weapon to kill machine guns, that otherwise suppresses your infantry.

Your approach basically depicts the historic performance of British infantry tanks: no HE/Explosive shells, only machine guns for soft target duty, great armor. The result was not great.

Armor multiplies the capacity of an artillery gun: but if there isn't one, there's nothing to multiply.

Overwhelmingly the best examples for looking at this are the Arab-Israeli wars and the Russo-Ukraine war. If you look at the 1967 war we see the Israelis making a mess of Arab forces using standard Soviet tactics due to being set up for accurate long range tank gunnery. Something that wasn't achievable in WW2. This was followed up by the Israelis discovery the new limitations on traditional tank warfare in the 1973 war. In both cases there is evidence that improved weapons have changed things and made WW2 mass tank attacks much weaker and much more dangerous than before.

Is there a good source you would recommend on the Arab-Israeli wars that shows this, and shows it is not due to a poor training level?

The problem with the lessons taught by those wars, is that Israeli forces had been traditionally better trained by a multiple, when compared to Arab armies.

I know that in modern warfare we don't have many examples but at the same time, there needs to be a sort of "Ceteris paribus" principle, where the only thing that stands out between two forces is technology. Arab armies have earned themselves the reputation of a punching bag, no matter what equipment they have.

Skipping forward to the Russo-Ukraine war there is further change with the lethality of modern weapons being sufficient to severely constrain the ability of traditional armoured tactics to operate effectively. This is a significant warning that should the USA come up against an adequately equipped (and trained) enemy their doctrine is going fail, although, to be fair, they aren't going to find out because there isn't an adequately equipped enemy. It also means that we really cannot look at any modern day military performance as a useful input to the design of HOI4.

After all, lets face it - a MBT getting taken out by an enemy tank when completely hidden behind a farmhouse is kind of shocking really when you think about. Failure of concealment and failure of hard cover.
I would argue that "there is no war magic": there is nothing that changes fundamental laws of warfare over the ages. Even if new tech arrives, it becomes applicable both defensively and offensively. It just then becomes a question of who uses it more effectively.

Whether it be Napoleonic warfare, WW1 or WW2. Cuirassiers get replaced with heavy tanks, dragoons with mechanized infantry, smooth-barrel bronze cannons with rifled steel artillery. Similar functions, similar roles, slightly different tools.
 
@Cornutus
I think you have misunderstood what is meant by articulation. What it refers to is the layer of fine detail within tactical operations. For example, in the Napoleonic period battlefield manoeuvres typically involved the movement of companies. This may have operated as regiments or similar higher level units but during battlefield movement the basic unit that would redeploy for changes of formation would be companies. Throughout history see progress from ancient times where the Greek Phalanx unit of manoeuvre was basically the entire army through the Romans (whose most important innovation was increased articulation) and a steady increase in flexibility. The Napoleonic period introduced important increases in articulation via the 1792 French drill book (I think that's right) which dramatically improved battlefield manoeuvre of musket based infantry.

To move to WW2 the basic units were infantry squads that would typically operate together and an infantry attack would have squads providing fire support or advancing on the enemy. In modern warfare there has been a quite subtle change to were the basic unit of infantry manoeuvre is the fire team.

This is what articulation is about, the fine grain, not the size of units that generals would issue orders to.
I could be wrong, but I never heard anything spectacular about British land artillery in WW1. French yes, Russians maybe, Germans a ton. The only thing the British pioneered was creeping barrage, but it didn't really succeed with the level of implementation they had.
The perfection artillery tactics in WW1 is mostly a British thing but mostly to do with circumstances. After the French 1917 mutinies the bulk of offensive duties on the Western front fell on the British army and optimised artillery use was critical on the Western front. The Germans had the advantage of an Eastern front were they could practice other developments which led to their development of what effectively was modern tactical doctrines.
But armor on its own is useless. A tank needs a weapon to kill machine guns, that otherwise suppresses your infantry.
But the gun isn't the innovation, the new thing was the armour and hence it is the armour that had an impact on the density and intensity of tactical warfare. I'm not mentioning the armament simple because it isn't the component that created the change.
Is there a good source you would recommend on the Arab-Israeli wars that shows this, and shows it is not due to a poor training level?

The problem with the lessons taught by those wars, is that Israeli forces had been traditionally better trained by a multiple, when compared to Arab armies.
I don't really know what would be a good source on this. The writings of Trevor Dupuy are an excellent primer on what I am talking about here and he offered an excellent evaluation before the fact on the impact of the Arab / Israeli training differences but the changes in tactical performance are something that comes out in the detailed reports. In the 1967 war the Israeli tank forces started killing Arab tanks at ranges up to 2km which is completely unheard of for WW2 and, as you can appreciate, this makes a dramatic difference. It is just like the 19th century switch from Napoleonic musket to US Civil war rifled musket. Even with a similar rate of fire the significant increase in accurate range from 100m to 300m makes a dramatic change to the tactical advantage of defending.

The 1973 war went on to emphasise the issue but the other way around with the massive Israeli tank invasion into Egypt suffering severe, unexpected and unsustainable levels of losses due to modern anti-tank weaponry

These effectively act as warning shots in the next stages of warfare leading to further force dispersion and combat intensity being reduced as is being illustrated in the Russo-Ukraine war (which has tested a LOT of new weapon and tactical innovation). It is, I think, worth commenting that all the wars between 1973 and this latest conflict have been far too unbalanced to actually indicate anything useful about the general principles of modern warfare. Although, you might want to consider that Trevor Dupuy also called it ahead of time on how the first Gulf War worked out based on training differentials.

Whether it be Napoleonic warfare, WW1 or WW2. Cuirassiers get replaced with heavy tanks, dragoons with mechanized infantry, smooth-barrel bronze cannons with rifled steel artillery. Similar functions, similar roles, slightly different tools.
My personal take on this would be to say go read Archer Jones "The art of war in the West", I think that's right. He discusses the actual range of troop categories and the rock, paper, scissors relationship between them. Troop categories have not stayed the same. I could give a few examples ...
  • Cuirassiers are not replaced by any sort of tanks. Generally throughout history cavalry has been unable to break an unbroken defensive formation of heavy infantry. Tanks have no problem with this, they'll just drive over you. The two weapon systems are kind of subtly different
  • Dragoons are not replaced by mechanised forces. Dragoons are replaced by truck borne infantry and mechanised infantry are some new complicated hybrid with battlefield mobility that dragoons could only dream of.
  • On the cannon thing, the real change has been a switch of the bulk of artillery from being direct fire to being indirect fire.
Looking through those examples, what you can really see is I'm looking at how weapons are used not what the weapons are capable of. To understand warfare you have to get away from the modern obsession with the weapons themselves. This why US armed forces pre-war analysis for pretty much all conflicts over the last 60 years has gone wrong. They focus far too much on the weapons when in reality the other factors are still massively more important.
 
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I would disagree. I would actually argue that the British had the universally best doctrine of all countries in WW2, especially when it came to tanks.
Oh, I expected exactly those words, for some *unknown* reason.
The real issue was the implementation. For example, British tanks did not have soft-target ammunition (High-Explosive/HE) at all, until the Cromwell. So any British tank had Bren/Universal Carrier effectiveness when facing enemy infantry.

When you have issues like that: ahm no matter how good your doctrine is, it won't save you.
Well one has to wonder if vehicle specifications are derived from doctrine.
To pre-empt the discussion of whether German doctrine was better: Germans had a better doctrine for Germany. But universally, you can't really adapt Guderian's ideas to the Chinese theatre of war, while the British ideas: you actually could.
Is there anyone whom didn't essentially adapt German doctrine?
At least from organization and way of fighting German way seems universally adopted, with modifications obviously.
IFVs and APCs are not the same thing. Although having examined the matter the most modern APCs(those with cannons over 20mm) also fall into the light tank category.

Ok here's my perspective: a tank is purely an armaments platform.

To understand the niches that exist, you need to understand the weapons system of infantry units, especially crew-manned ones, best to use WW2 as an example and then get to Modern times.

If we oversimplify, what do we see?

Rifles, LMGs, SMGs: not crew weapons, light enough to be carried by one individual so they do not require a platform.

Medium Machine gun (usually around 8mm): require a team of two guys just to carry it around. From hereon, it starts making sense to put this weapon on a transport.

Heavy Machine gun (9-15mm): requires more than a team of two usually, probably the last weapon one can carry around on foot

Light infantry support artillery (stemming from 37mm trench artillery from WW1): anti-machine gun nest killers that are comparable to a heavy machine gun in transportation difficulty.

Medium infantry support artillery (usually 75mm stemming from "Counter-assault" Russian WW1 cannons M.1913 then used by German stormtroopers as assault guns): also anti-machine gun nest killers that are barely transportable on foot.

Heavy infantry support artillery: this is something coming from WW2, specifically German SiG33 15cm infanteriegeschutz. An alternative to heavy mortars, trading cost for better accuracy.

Mortars: I won't touch these, as they are a cheap infantry support weapon that compensates with cheapness for accuracy. Mounting it on a AFV does not add much in terms of combat capacity (mortars don't fire directly, so a armor wouldn't allow it to be more accurate by being closer to enemy lines) but adds about 500% to cost (based on WW2 data).

Anything beyond this is accounted for in separate artillery units meant for ranged support, so it will be irrelevant.

All AFVs/tanks would do is, provide a mobile platform to the above.

Medium machine guns/Heavy machine guns: you originally had light tanks, then tankettes, then Armored personnel carriers (like the German Sdkfz. 250) as their platforms. Usually these weapons would be paired with infantry transport duty.

Light infantry support artillery: would be based on light tanks, most notably the Renault FT-17. Armor protection prevents it from being suppressed by enemy machine gun fire.

Medium infantry support artillery: would be put on medium tanks for the most part, although rarely you could see it fit on light tanks.

Heavy infantry support artillery is what heavy tanks are usually armed with.

In modern warfare:

MMGs are no longer mounted as a main weapon, thanks to new technology they became lighter so the logic for buying them an expensive platform has disappeared.

HMGs(10-15mm) get mounted on APCs and more recently, IMVs,, that also double as personnel carriers.

Light infantry support artillery got replaced by autocannons, chain guns or auto-grenade launchers of similar caliber (20-40mm) mounted on IFVs originally, and now being mounted on APCs at the cost of increased platform weight.

Medium infantry support artillery (75-90mm): at first disappeared because of being too heavy for IFVs and too light for tanks, but now is getting mounted on more modern IFVs at the cost of increased platform weight.

Heavy infantry support artillery (100+mm): is now what gets mounted on modern tanks, which basically replaced heavy tanks.

Having thought about it I guess I have to indeed revise my position. Originally light tanks were replaced by IFVs, but now their role is more and more getting taken over by APCs. APCs old role of carrying infantry is now more and more taken over by "Infantry Mobility Vehicles", which are simply cheaper.

Pretty much APCs, IFVs and IMVs all have two characteristics: troop carriers and weapons platforms. The difference is the cost. IFVs carry a heavier gun, APCs a lighter gun, IMVs carry the lightest gun. But each of them carries the same number of troops basically.

If their function would be the same, it would be logical that the cheapest option would be the the only one surviving, but given there is a difference, I would argue that anything in excess of the most basic weapon makes the troop carrier capacity secondary due to increased cost.
Troop carrying capacity isn't secondary, it's primary function. It's simply not worth deploying weapons platform on it's own.
IFVs only exist because APCs are costly but necessary, so might as well get more out of it, for a minor increase in cost.
Otherwise it's far more convenient to just make more tanks, or mount 12-14 mm HMG or 30mm secondary on them instead of pretty lackluster gun AFV is carrying.
That's the reason IFVs are not light tanks, you can make a far better platform for far better cost, if you just need that weapon platform.

I can't really comment on the current gold plated anti insurgency variation, but people seem to start snapping out of it, finally.
I'd agree with your criticism, but it's not just production cost I referenced. It's also armament. 70mm+ I would argue is closer to a medium than a light tank.
You can argue whatever you want, but if you are going to reclassify vehicles away from the original manufacturer, you should just argue for you own specification, classify all WW2 vehicles according to it, and be done with it.
Either define category on original manufacturer classification, or do your own.
It simply doesn't make sense for you to try to create generalizations if you will reclassify away what you consider "outliers".
Well the approach I advocate for works for the German, French, Soviet and to a lesser degree, American forces. The only exceptions that exist are the Japanese (I don't have data on their production costs) and British.
Except it doesn't actually work, it turns out.
What the hell was wrong with British tanks, I have no idea, but somehow the British tanks costed 50% more than an American or German counterpart (Cromwell-Pz. IV-M4 Sherman). Similarly a British Vickers 6-ton costed 3 times more than a Soviet T-26, even though they were direct analogues. If somebody could explain in detail what was wrong with the British tanks or tank industry compared to everyone else's, I would be very grateful.
Sorry but I just always laugh my butt off when people claim "Soviet vehicle costed X", as Soviet prices were incredibly random, and huge amounts of various expenses was hidden away in ownership structure and other bureaucracy.
The only real thing that can be derived from Soviet pricing is that Soviet prices were BS.
I would not be totally shocked if Soviet price of T-26 was exactly 3 times lower to reflect "inefficiency" of Capitalism.
Not really goldplating, but asking for the extra features they didn't really need, but which are nice to have.
That's fair enough, however I would caution about the judge`s bias.
My understanding for the T-34 a big influence was the Spanish Civil War experience where they encountered German PaK-35/36 guns and decided they need to have tanks that aren't that easy to kill by such weapons.
That's not wrong, however the larger influence was bean counters. And Finish war. The initial specification called for something resembling Pz3F, but V2 engine already exists(at least in it's aviation form) so might take all that extra power, oh and 76mm cannon already exists, so no need to develop new 57 mm cannon, and put it into production, so use that, after all that 57mm cannon is suffering delays anyway.
In the end, over crowded turret, unreliable engine, but hey, at least components already exist and thus saved money.
KV-1s: I will be honest, not as sure, but I would expect SCW experience also played a role, along with the desire to protect against potentially heavier AT artillery that could enter service.
That's incredibly wrong, KV is the finish war child.
The fact that Soviets designed thin armor, multi turreted tanks and gave them test drive in Karelia, just shows how very little Soviets have actually learned from SCW, and why it's "lessons" should not be over stated.
It is indeed a "Russian" perspective but for different reasons.

Russians are used to having low density of weapons on their frontline, their fronts are wider.

At the same time: it's not about operators being cheap, numerous, infinitely replaceable. Any tank is a fantastically expensive weapon worth a multiple of a cannon it mounts.

A truly "Russian" perspective would be not to build tanks at all, and instead direct resources to artillery) Which I do share actually, but only for the Russian front. In the West, Africa, Balkans, Pacific or China, you'd need a different approach.
Except this is the "western caricature" Russians perspective, to which I pointed by taking it into quotes.
"Real" Russian perspective was to depress it's domestic population but come in with incredibly massive array of *expensive* *quality* hardware.
SVT-40, 20k pretty good for 1935 tanks, I-16, SB-3, new mechanised heavy artillery, the pretty bleeding edge 1940 tanks, very competitive 1940 fighter planes, all of that is quality stuff, produces in massive quantity.
Matildas and Churchills were "Infantry tanks" for the European theatre.

In Western Europe, expensive infantry tanks are the way to go, because the front is highly narrow: you only have a select number of areas where a terrain conditions are acceptable for an offensive. In a situation like this, you are guaranteed to meet a lot of AT guns per KM of frontline.

There were proposals to stop producing the Churchill, specifically because it fared poorly in the Libyan theatre of war, insufficient mobility first and foremost.

In Libya, you had a lot of unique theatre features. Lower vegetation/less trees obstructing visibility led to medium & heavy artillery having much higher effective distances of fire. At the same time, lack of railroads, higher effective distances of fire and the nature of highly maneuverable war required tanks to be very mobile and reliable, which is why the Matildas and Churchills did not perform well. The big exception when the Matilda performed well: was when they were deployed against the Italians that due to poverty simply did not have any artillery that could pierce them. Once German 88mm arrived: Matilda's honeymoon ended.

Probably the best AFV for Africa would be something like the American TD M18 Hellcat. But by the time they entered service, fighting happened in Europe, where they could not apply their advantages as effectively.
What was the great "non Western Europe theatre" tanks, that Brits had, but for some bissare reason didn`t deploy there, and had to rely on unsiutable western front tanks. Don`t you think there is something wrong with the great concept if in practice it leads to Brits having sub-par tanks for the theatre they fought in?

That`s actually the reason I call British doctrine obsolete. Specialised for single teatre tanks made sence for WW1 pace, but in WW2 there were diverse, fast changing theatres, and hyper-specialised tanks focus showed it`s problem, British designers & production was simply outpaced, and couldn`t deliver specialised vehicle for the theatre it was needed at the time it was needed and left you with sub-par vehicles on hand, so they ended up with "western front" tanks to fight in Africa. By the time Brits returned to Western front Matilda and Churchil were obsolete. It`s not the implementation problem, it`s a conceptual problem.
the "ideal" British tank will always be a year or two too late for the theatre it`s needed in.
The Pz. IV was not supposed to exist in the first place. It was planned that the Pz. III would be the German medium tank, while the Pz. IV was supposed to have a niche role of a heavy tank providing artillery support: originally it like the Soviet T-28 was supposed to even have 2 machine gun secondary turrets.

But the Pz. III had a lot of production and reliability issues, so suddenly the Pz. IV emerged as more numerous.
That`s the issue, as Pz3N showed Pz3 could do anything Pz4 was ostensibly needed for, but manufacturer somehow got their leg in the dor.
Pz4 obviously could actually do far more, so Germans arguably should have dropped Pz3, but again, manufacturer.
It definitely happened to an extent.

Germans were completely outmatched, deployed second-rate troops, had red air/allied air superiority, oil deficits and strategic destruction of their industries: and yet, in Italy they basically stopped the allies.

What happened in France is kind of a mystery to me (especially Falaise), but based on operation Market Garden that I am more familiar with, we kind of observe that even disjointed remnants of German forces managed to halt an allied tank corps offensive combined with 3 airborne divisions paradropped in the rear. Similarly, when the Germans tried to replicate their 1940 Ardennes operation in 1945, that failed miserably, despite no significant fortifications encountered.
Well, wouldn`t that be the ideal place for the British tanks created for sitzkrieg to actually shine? Oh, they probably weren`t designed for mountain sitzkrieg, only broad planes of Belgium.
E-series never actually ran in production, I don't even think data on their production costs is available. I would refrain from discussing them, simply due to not having enough info.
We do know the design intent, we can clearly state they were ordered to rationalise production and reduce costs, their succes or lack of thereof is another matter.
Depends on what we mean by "heaviest stuff".
When it comes to KV-1 tanks: Soviets produced a very limited number of them of their total tank output.
in terms of overall world heavy tank & SPG production, since 1940, Soviets had something approacing 70-ish %
3267 KVs, 1121 KV1-s, 148 KV-85, 3500 IS+IS-2, 8 036 tanks, also 3495 heavy assault guns SU/ISU-152.
Brits were second with 5640 Churchils, Germans distant third with their ~1700 heavy tanks and TDs.
When it comes to T-34s: honestly, their production was a mistake in Soviet circumstances in the numbers they were built.
let`s agree to disagre here.
Eh, the Vickers light tanks had a heavy machine gun as the main armament (a 12.7mm or 15mm machine gun), and they were designed in the 1930s. (for reconnaissance and colonial policing). Plus the Matilda I infantry tank was designed with a heavy machine gun as the sole armament,
Alrigth, point taken. Still I have very hard issue with statement that Spanish civil war taught combatants anything about deadliness of AT cannons, considering Germans didn`t get the message till roughtly 1940, when serious attempts to up-armor Pz3 and Pz4 and make them resistant to 37mm cannons were made, while Soviets happily designed thin-skinned heavy tanks, till they were shot up in Karelia, while the unasked for tank, KV succesfully resisted AT fire.
German tank mobility problems on the eastern front were significant enough that manufacturers devised several sets of tracks that were different (wider) to the original track design, in order to improve mobility.
That`s the thing, manufacturers were supposed to make tank tracks wider to compensate for weight increase, exept they didn`t untill problems arrived, then they fixed the problem, and it stopped occuring.
It`s just another German mismanagement.
The point was that under HOI4s mechanics, there is no ability to alter a tank's mobility in different kinds of terrain at the equipment level. It can only be done at the battalion level, which as I said, then creates the problem that the same equipment has different terrain penalties depending on the techs that ingame countries have researched.
As it is, Country A has researched the tech "don't get stuck in mud", and their tanks don't get stuck in mud. Country B has not researched this tech. Country A lend-leases a bunch of their tanks to country B. Country B's tanks still get stuck in mud, while Country A's do not, even though it's the same tank. This is what HOI4 does, and there's no way round that.
That`s incredibly niche thing.
Which also means that any tank units you want to be useful in close terrain like jungles, cities, where small size and good traction were advantages, has to be a separate battalion type than other tank units.
Historically, Japan made a lot use of light tanks in urban and jungle terrain in China and south-east Asia, so how should that be modelled ?
As far as I`m conserned Japan used just light tanks, and those were nothing special, exept poorly equipped opposition allowed those far larger succes then they should have had. I don`t think it needs to be specifically modeled, light tanks should have lower penalties in jungle anyway.
I don't think I understand the point you're making here ? What do you mean by downgrading ?
IF we assume that "main tank" upgrades along the lines of Pz1-Pz2-Pz3-Pz4-Pz5, you either have reconnassanse units brimming with fresh Panthers, or you need to somehow "downgrade" those to offshot specialist light tank models.
My main issue is that I still can't really see how to properly model the British tank use in HOI4, in a way that would allow the player to send and receive tanks via lend-lease that other countries can use.
The British coundn`t properly use their tanks, and here you are, asking for the much humbler game to do so. /jk
Personally I fail to see the problem, you already have option to have specialist divisions equiped with only one specific type of equipment type.
If brits insist on designing them the way they did, player has to create specialist "british style" formations for them.
 
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@Cornutus
I think you have misunderstood what is meant by articulation. What it refers to is the layer of fine detail within tactical operations. For example, in the Napoleonic period battlefield manoeuvres typically involved the movement of companies. This may have operated as regiments or similar higher level units but during battlefield movement the basic unit that would redeploy for changes of formation would be companies.

Ok, I started reading Archer Jones, read his Ancient Greek & WW1 chapters. From my perspective, he's better than nothing for a beginner, but overall the number of mistakes he makes is horrendous.

For example, the Greek phalanx having only the first row participate in the battle, casualties at Tannenberg 1914 being off by a multiple are just two that stood out clearly to me, I would write him off completely as an authority in military history, although he may be in a expert in some specific war. So far I observed he does show some great statistics, but the picture as a whole is completely off. The format he uses is also very resembling of a high school textbook, which doesn't allow in-depth examination.

If the perspective is based on his work, then it may be simply based on outright wrong information.

Throughout history see progress from ancient times where the Greek Phalanx unit of manoeuvre was basically the entire army through the Romans (whose most important innovation was increased articulation) and a steady increase in flexibility. The Napoleonic period introduced important increases in articulation via the 1792 French drill book (I think that's right) which dramatically improved battlefield manoeuvre of musket based infantry.

To move to WW2 the basic units were infantry squads that would typically operate together and an infantry attack would have squads providing fire support or advancing on the enemy. In modern warfare there has been a quite subtle change to were the basic unit of infantry manoeuvre is the fire team.

This is what articulation is about, the fine grain, not the size of units that generals would issue orders to.

Friedrich the Great's army used battalion articulation, but there was an explicit reason for this: you needed to do that to keep the same number of rows in each squad of the battalion. It wasn't standard for other armies to my knowledge, and even then, fire organization was based on squads(pelotons, plutongs), not battalions or companies.

Prior to Napoleon the French used company-level units.

Napoleon's army used squad-level movement (squad columns, "colonne de peloton").

The perfection artillery tactics in WW1 is mostly a British thing but mostly to do with circumstances. After the French 1917 mutinies the bulk of offensive duties on the Western front fell on the British army and optimised artillery use was critical on the Western front. The Germans had the advantage of an Eastern front were they could practice other developments which led to their development of what effectively was modern tactical doctrines.

Don't know what that British perfection consisted of. Who writes about this perfection?

For the Germans I found Bruchmuller, for the French it was Frederic Georges-Herr. I haven't heard of a comparable caliber guy for the Brits.

But the gun isn't the innovation, the new thing was the armour and hence it is the armour that had an impact on the density and intensity of tactical warfare. I'm not mentioning the armament simple because it isn't the component that created the change.

Armor is hard to call an innovation: any artillery cannon has a shield with armor protecting from Shrapnel.

The real innovation with the tank was all-terrain mobility. You could now deliver a gun to enemy positions and not worry about the shell holes and uneven terrain on the way. Horses couldn't really do that in the WW1 lunar landscape.

Armor was a nice addon, that added the capability to ignore HE fire of artillery and small arms fire completely.

If you keep tank armor and armament, but change mobility: you get an armored car, something that was actively used in 1914 but didn't really change the war. If you remove armor but leave armament & movement, you get an artillery tractor basically. A revolutionary thing strategically, but not as game-changing tactically.

I don't really know what would be a good source on this. The writings of Trevor Dupuy are an excellent primer on what I am talking about here and he offered an excellent evaluation before the fact on the impact of the Arab / Israeli training differences but the changes in tactical performance are something that comes out in the detailed reports. In the 1967 war the Israeli tank forces started killing Arab tanks at ranges up to 2km which is completely unheard of for WW2 and, as you can appreciate, this makes a dramatic difference.
2000m is not very typical of WW2, but I've seen reports of French tanks being taken out even at 3500m in 1940 by German 8,8cm. I was surprised they could see anything at that distance, but it's a fact.

Also you have to bear in mind that Israel fought in different terrain than Europe: clearer air, lesser trees. Per one American study based on Torch and Tunisia fighting, the engagement range for tanks there was higher than in Europe by 100 yards, and that's in more vegetative terrain and more mountainous terrain than Israel.

You see the same thing with infantry armament: every time an army fights in mountainous terrain, it starts begging for more horizontality in small arms equipment.

It is just like the 19th century switch from Napoleonic musket to US Civil war rifled musket. Even with a similar rate of fire the significant increase in accurate range from 100m to 300m makes a dramatic change to the tactical advantage of defending.

Not so sure about that one. Increases in defending range also increases attacking range. Given attackers

What would change significantly is the accuracy of infantry: greater range means higher horizontality of fire, means worse trained infantry becomes more effective.

The 1973 war went on to emphasise the issue but the other way around with the massive Israeli tank invasion into Egypt suffering severe, unexpected and unsustainable levels of losses due to modern anti-tank weaponry

These effectively act as warning shots in the next stages of warfare leading to further force dispersion and combat intensity being reduced as is being illustrated in the Russo-Ukraine war (which has tested a LOT of new weapon and tactical innovation).
At the same time, I heard modern AT weapons like the Javelins did not prove themselves very effective in the Russo-Ukraine war.

The Russo-Ukraine war's articulation also could be significantly impacted by an insufficient manning of the frontline on the Russian side: where you have no choice but to order smaller units bigger objectives as there is nothing else to perform those duties.

It is, I think, worth commenting that all the wars between 1973 and this latest conflict have been far too unbalanced to actually indicate anything useful about the general principles of modern warfare. Although, you might want to consider that Trevor Dupuy also called it ahead of time on how the first Gulf War worked out based on training differentials.
Agreed 100%. In cases when it is balanced, there is very insufficient data to make informed affirmations for the most part.

My personal take on this would be to say go read Archer Jones "The art of war in the West", I think that's right. He discusses the actual range of troop categories and the rock, paper, scissors relationship between them. Troop categories have not stayed the same. I could give a few examples ...
  • Cuirassiers are not replaced by any sort of tanks. Generally throughout history cavalry has been unable to break an unbroken defensive formation of heavy infantry. Tanks have no problem with this, they'll just drive over you. The two weapon systems are kind of subtly different

I used to share that notion, but recently I came across a different explanation: the cost of breaking an unbroken defensive formation of infantry is prohibitively high for heavy cavalry. Cuirassiers had very expensive horses, true beasts of war, that were bred to have maximum effectiveness in a single attack. Sprinters, not marathon runners.

Heavy tanks are notably similar to cuirassiers by the fact that they are sprinters: they are a nightmare on the attack, but they can only do one attack per battle usually. After that they need to be refueled, reorganized and often even repaired.

Potentially a good example of this was Waterloo where the 1st & 2nd Brigades of British cavalry managed to perform their first attack quite well, and then lost their fighting capacity.


  • Dragoons are not replaced by mechanised forces. Dragoons are replaced by truck borne infantry and mechanised infantry are some new complicated hybrid with battlefield mobility that dragoons could only dream of.
Shock cavalry like tanks later on, usually required mobile fire support. Depending on the country, it would be provided by Dragoons, Chasseurs, Jaegers or Cossacks. EIther way this would be light-medium cavalry, armed with medium-long-range firearms as their main weapon. Missile cavalry per Archer Jones.

That function would be retained by motorized, mechanized or plain old cavalry (modeled after dragoons). You could even go as far as saying Mechanized is more like elite dragoons, or mounted grenadiers... oops, I figure now where panzergrenadiers came from.

  • On the cannon thing, the real change has been a switch of the bulk of artillery from being direct fire to being indirect fire.

There were a lot more changes. Mostly related to ammunition: for example a French 75mm M1897's shell would make a kill-zone of 20m X 300m with every shell, where every target had a 50% chance of being hit by shrapnel. That's way different compared to times when you fired a mega-bullet (cannonball). Pre-WW1 artillery pioneered "shell explosions in mid-air" also increasing effectiveness.

In WW1 itself aside from indirect fire becoming a primary thing, you had a lot of innovations related to sound detection, meteorology application, observation units creation and application, fire adjustment application, and of course the organization of artillery bombardment.

Looking through those examples, what you can really see is I'm looking at how weapons are used not what the weapons are capable of. To understand warfare you have to get away from the modern obsession with the weapons themselves. This why US armed forces pre-war analysis for pretty much all conflicts over the last 60 years has gone wrong. They focus far too much on the weapons when in reality the other factors are still massively more important.
I'm not obsessed by weapons and don't believe in making wunderwaffes with a "Kill-all" button))

Quite the opposite. I find weapons are tools, that could be used with varying effectiveness depending on the user.
 
Well one has to wonder if vehicle specifications are derived from doctrine.

Usually they are, but in certain cases there are major misses that aren't related to doctrine.

Is there anyone whom didn't essentially adapt German doctrine?
At least from organization and way of fighting German way seems universally adopted, with modifications obviously.
Americans didn't, British didn't, Italians didn't, Soviets didn't, Japanese and Chinese didn't.

Even the Germans abandoned their original doctrine, when the war started becoming long-term and they found themselves in a different situation.

Pz. VI Tiger tanks are a lot more similar to B1 Bises, Matildas or Churchills than to Pz. IVs. Which kind of says a lot.

Troop carrying capacity isn't secondary, it's primary function. It's simply not worth deploying weapons platform on it's own.
IFVs only exist because APCs are costly but necessary, so might as well get more out of it, for a minor increase in cost.
Otherwise it's far more convenient to just make more tanks, or mount 12-14 mm HMG or 30mm secondary on them instead of pretty lackluster gun AFV is carrying.
That's the reason IFVs are not light tanks, you can make a far better platform for far better cost, if you just need that weapon platform.

I think you're mixing up IFVs (BMP-2, Bradley), APCs (M113s, BTR-80) and AFVs (generally tanks like M1 Abrams, T-72 although anything mobile and armored is an AFV) here. But I'm not here to win the argument, so I'll say openly that I think I know what you mean.

Mounting weaker guns on cheaper vehicles is actually happening right now, that's why we have IMVs emerging as I said earlier.

Keep also in mind, a lot has to do with marketing. Imagine proposing a bunch of greybeard generals and congressmen "let's build tanks with small guns".

They will look at you and say "Russia, China, Germany don't have tanks like that. You want to make us a laughing stock?". That will go against the consensus, which is kind of tough.

IFVs and APCs on the other hand are a good camouflage.
"We made a IFV with the best cannon in the world! It's a little expensive, but it has no equal!"
"Only the best for our boys, buy, buy, buy!".

You can argue whatever you want, but if you are going to reclassify vehicles away from the original manufacturer, you should just argue for you own specification, classify all WW2 vehicles according to it, and be done with it.
Either define category on original manufacturer classification, or do your own.
It simply doesn't make sense for you to try to create generalizations if you will reclassify away what you consider "outliers".

Except it doesn't actually work, it turns out.

I am not certain I am sufficient of an authority to impose my own specification on others.

You don't have to become a weatherman to tell if it's raining.

If it's raining: you don't say that the weather network should be dismissed for every prediction, but rather that in one specific case, you need to not believe what you're told, and believe what you see.

To get my point across, it's easier to accept the generally accepted classification and offer a few amendments that concern blatant exceptions.

Sorry but I just always laugh my butt off when people claim "Soviet vehicle costed X", as Soviet prices were incredibly random, and huge amounts of various expenses was hidden away in ownership structure and other bureaucracy.
The only real thing that can be derived from Soviet pricing is that Soviet prices were BS.
I would not be totally shocked if Soviet price of T-26 was exactly 3 times lower to reflect "inefficiency" of Capitalism.

I am not a fan of Soviet pricing techniques, but at the same time, I can't avoid noticing that Soviet prices were not that far off of comparable weapons from other countries taking part in WW2. The big exception is artillery prices.

At the end of the day, I could either take an approach that "I don't believe these prices are accurate" or I can rely upon what's available until something better comes up. Do you have something better? I don't.

That's not wrong, however the larger influence was bean counters. And Finish war. The initial specification called for something resembling Pz3F, but V2 engine already exists(at least in it's aviation form) so might take all that extra power, oh and 76mm cannon already exists, so no need to develop new 57 mm cannon, and put it into production, so use that, after all that 57mm cannon is suffering delays anyway.
In the end, over crowded turret, unreliable engine, but hey, at least components already exist and thus saved money.
To my knowledge, there was never an idea to put 57mm guns in a T-34. 45mm, yes on the A-20, but not 57mm.

There was a small series of T-34-57mm built in 1941, but I think it was for other reasons than initial design choices.

That's incredibly wrong, KV is the finish war child.
The fact that Soviets designed thin armor, multi turreted tanks and gave them test drive in Karelia, just shows how very little Soviets have actually learned from SCW, and why it's "lessons" should not be over stated.

How could the KV-1 be a Finnish war child if it was first produced in AUGUST 1939, while the Finnish war started in NOVEMBER 1939?

SCW didn't involve any multi-turret tanks to my knowledge, so it wouldn't allow to examine how effective or ineffective they would be.

Except this is the "western caricature" Russians perspective, to which I pointed by taking it into quotes.
"Real" Russian perspective was to depress it's domestic population but come in with incredibly massive array of *expensive* *quality* hardware.
SVT-40, 20k pretty good for 1935 tanks, I-16, SB-3, new mechanised heavy artillery, the pretty bleeding edge 1940 tanks, very competitive 1940 fighter planes, all of that is quality stuff, produces in massive quantity.

That's more of a Soviet perspective than a Russian one.

Key difference being: Soviets spent way more on weapons than the Russian military traditionally did, especially on the most technologically complicated weapons, like aircraft and tanks.

Soviet military thinking focuses on massing large numbers of high-grade weapons, at the cost of sacrificing support unit fulfillment, and seeks to be stronger than all of its neighbors combined.

Russian military thinking seeks to cut costs while maintaining a decent level of combat efficiency against one single frontline.

The Russian Empire prior to WW1 for example, focused on fighting Austria-Hungary and to a limited extent fight Germany, and never tried to have a larger and stronger army than Austria-Hungary, Germany, Turkey, Britain & Japan combined. The USSR on the other end, specifically tried to be stronger than all of its neighbors out of fear that there will be a capitalist crusade against it.

What was the great "non Western Europe theatre" tanks, that Brits had, but for some bissare reason didn`t deploy there, and had to rely on unsiutable western front tanks. Don`t you think there is something wrong with the great concept if in practice it leads to Brits having sub-par tanks for the theatre they fought in?

The Brits had Cruiser tanks, that were fairly mobile and applicable in the Africa theatre.

The situation the Brits had was: the war in Europe suddenly did not happen. They have a bunch of tanks they could either send to Africa or let them stay in the Isles doing nothing. They chose to use what they had.

A Bren is better than a Vickers/Maxim on the offensive, but if your only option is a Vickers/Maxim MG, you don't want to throw that away.

That`s actually the reason I call British doctrine obsolete. Specialised for single teatre tanks made sence for WW1 pace, but in WW2 there were diverse, fast changing theatres, and hyper-specialised tanks focus showed it`s problem, British designers & production was simply outpaced, and couldn`t deliver specialised vehicle for the theatre it was needed at the time it was needed and left you with sub-par vehicles on hand, so they ended up with "western front" tanks to fight in Africa. By the time Brits returned to Western front Matilda and Churchil were obsolete. It`s not the implementation problem, it`s a conceptual problem.
the "ideal" British tank will always be a year or two too late for the theatre it`s needed in.

Who knew that:
A) Poland would collapse in two weeks
B) France would fall in less than a year
C) Italy and Germany will send tank divisions to a second-rate theatre (that was supposed to be cutoff by French & British navies as soon as the war starts).

Tanks were first and foremost created to assist with overcoming fortifications in a narrow front. You didn't really need them outside of Europe, although they are nice to haves.

In WW1, I don't think any tanks were sent to the Macedonian or Turkish front, as that's like using a jet engine to power your car: works great, just prohibitively expensive.


That`s the issue, as Pz3N showed Pz3 could do anything Pz4 was ostensibly needed for, but manufacturer somehow got their leg in the dor.
Pz4 obviously could actually do far more, so Germans arguably should have dropped Pz3, but again, manufacturer.

They should have dropped the Pz. III, but from what I heard it was moreso the Kniepkamp that was a Pz. III adherent.

Well, wouldn`t that be the ideal place for the British tanks created for sitzkrieg to actually shine? Oh, they probably weren`t designed for mountain sitzkrieg, only broad planes of Belgium.

There's a difference between implementation and design.

After all, Soviet tanks did not shine when in the hands of Iraqi, Syrian or Egyptian armies post-WW2, does that mean that the Western tank designs are superior?

Not necessarily.

At the same time, US military equipment did not perform well in the hands of the Afghan Democratic government. Is that a sign that American designs are trash?

Not necessarily.

We do know the design intent, we can clearly state they were ordered to rationalise production and reduce costs, their succes or lack of thereof is another matter.

in terms of overall world heavy tank & SPG production, since 1940, Soviets had something approacing 70-ish %
3267 KVs, 1121 KV1-s, 148 KV-85, 3500 IS+IS-2, 8 036 tanks, also 3495 heavy assault guns SU/ISU-152.
Brits were second with 5640 Churchils, Germans distant third with their ~1700 heavy tanks and TDs.

Who cares about overall world heavy tanks production? What matters is what % of resources were devoted to heavies in a specific country. It's not like German factories could be directed to make British tanks, you have to compare apples to apples.
 
To my knowledge, there was never an idea to put 57mm guns in a T-34. 45mm, yes on the A-20, but not 57mm.

There was a small series of T-34-57mm built in 1941, but I think it was for other reasons than initial design choices.
Actually it was. T-34M, which was supposed to be produced in 1941. Torsion bar suspension, hexagonal turret with three tankers, frontal 60 mm armor. Of the 500 T-34Ms expected to be manufactured in 1941, 380 were equipped with a 57-mm ZIS-4 cannon. The T-34 in the form we saw it during the war is the result of a German attack. The USSR understood perfectly well that the early T-34 was not a perfect tank; it had to be replaced by the T-34M. The T-34M also has a much larger upgrade margin than the T-34 due to the torsion bar suspension and wider turret ring (1600 mm for the T-34M versus 1440 mm for the T-34), so it could easily be increase front armor to 75-90 mm and simplify the installation of a heavier gun (like an 85 mm gun)
 
Actually it was. T-34M, which was supposed to be produced in 1941. Torsion bar suspension, hexagonal turret with three tankers, frontal 60 mm armor. Of the 500 T-34Ms expected to be manufactured in 1941, 380 were equipped with a 57-mm ZIS-4 cannon. The T-34 in the form we saw it during the war is the result of a German attack. The USSR understood perfectly well that the early T-34 was not a perfect tank; it had to be replaced by the T-34M. The T-34M also has a much larger upgrade margin than the T-34 due to the torsion bar suspension and wider turret ring (1600 mm for the T-34M versus 1440 mm for the T-34), so it could easily be increase front armor to 75-90 mm and simplify the installation of a heavier gun (like an 85 mm gun)
Not true. That's a misconception from the early 2000s.

Not to mention that T-34M aka A-43 was supposed to have 76mm gun.

(Open in Google translate):
 
Not true. That's a misconception from the early 2000s.

Not to mention that T-34M aka A-43 was supposed to have 76mm gun.

(Open in Google translate):
This is not a complete article. Here it is complete and there are also 57 mm guns. There is a test of 60 mm frontal armor.

Articles in English. With evidence of a 57mm gun.
 
Ok I'll correct myself, there might be something to take advantage of. Using Negro Negrito post here, you can split your armored division in two parts. One to get the most soft attack for the least IC you can put, with no regard for any other stats, basically a full LSPG div of 75 size, this behemoth won't be targeted as long as it is not facing a 38 width defending division, that is not really a common sight, as long as you provide "something else" as a fitting target nearby, for example a HT division going all in on armor, hardness and breakthrough with enough org to hold until the LSPG cleaned everything in front of them, you'll need to keep it small enough to have the two of them fitting in a two front attack on most common terrains.
hoi 4 doesn't exactly model real combat. however, planning around ideal scenarios is still punishing, because oftentimes in-game scenario isn't ideal.

75 width won't ordinarily be targeted by say 15-16w, except if it's the only division. which it will be in many cases where width changes all of a sudden or you don't pay attention for 3 seconds and your blue "support attack" arrow turns red and the thing moves into counter-attack with almost no hp because hoi 4 controls don't work. i think vs guerilla tactics it gets forced out of combat outright (maybe also for bridge crossings), which would make it even more frustrating to attack into roaching than normal. similarly, on some terrains 75w is too large to bring meaningful extra divs to reliably block some spillover damage onto the tanks...and even the ai might inadvertently pin you to prevent high hardness/armor div from moving for too long etc.

another thing is that even if you put support aa, 25% damage on it from cas is going to *hurt* because such a division won't have much hp, so you'd lose a ton of vehicles to cas unless you have solidly green air...and if you have that, you really don't need further tricks...especially in sp where players won't also just maul you with relatively high hardness divs that don't take crits and blast through the filler too quickly (plenty of hard attack to melt armor-gouge divs).

in practice if you want to use cheap tanks it is so much easier to use mediums that aren't over-engineered or even just run light spg + some breakthrough tanks + mech because the latter is plenty of damage/hardness/breakthrough in sp.

another niche for light tanks is to really push the armor clicks + radio for breakthrough, slap on a bunch of fuel drums, and use that as armored recon or light tank paradrop support. in sp this is pretty effective, since you can get very highly leveled infantry commanders. with planning the breakthrough can be multiplied several times over, and it is sometimes possible to block most crits even w/o tanks. if you have them, it can give special forces divs a bit of extra punch and damage reduction while moving through rough terrains. fuel drum is to limit the risk of div slowing to a crawl due to fuel issues.
 
Ok, I started reading Archer Jones, read his Ancient Greek & WW1 chapters. From my perspective, he's better than nothing for a beginner, but overall the number of mistakes he makes is horrendous.

For example, the Greek phalanx having only the first row participate in the battle, casualties at Tannenberg 1914 being off by a multiple are just two that stood out clearly to me, I would write him off completely as an authority in military history, although he may be in a expert in some specific war. So far I observed he does show some great statistics, but the picture as a whole is completely off. The format he uses is also very resembling of a high school textbook, which doesn't allow in-depth examination.

If the perspective is based on his work, then it may be simply based on outright wrong information.
The purpose of the Archer Jones reference is that he makes a big thing of the rock, paper, scissors aspects of different troops types and that this is highly relevant to certain parts of the discussion. That is the only role of the reference as I wouldn't say he has anything else useful to say about 20th century warfare.
Don't know what that British perfection consisted of. Who writes about this perfection?

For the Germans I found Bruchmuller, for the French it was Frederic Georges-Herr. I haven't heard of a comparable caliber guy for the Brits.
I'm not sure how to put this. At the end of WW1 the British empire forces where using artillery doctrine that is pretty much the pinnacle of artillery doctrine to this day for solving the very specific problem of how to use pre-planned artillery fire most effectively for supporting offensive operations. Since then artillery usage has changed dramatically but ever since then driven by a communications revolution that neutralised the "pre-planned" issue. Germany had adopted a different solution to successful offensive operations which forms the basis of modern operational tactics and hence were potentially slightly less sophisticated in there and the French were performing in a much more limited role for offensive operations. It doesn't really matter very much as everyone kind of got the idea by then but British forces where the ones using those doctrines as the core of offensive operations.
Armor is hard to call an innovation: any artillery cannon has a shield with armor protecting from Shrapnel.

The real innovation with the tank was all-terrain mobility. You could now deliver a gun to enemy positions and not worry about the shell holes and uneven terrain on the way. Horses couldn't really do that in the WW1 lunar landscape.

Armor was a nice addon, that added the capability to ignore HE fire of artillery and small arms fire completely.

If you keep tank armor and armament, but change mobility: you get an armored car, something that was actively used in 1914 but didn't really change the war. If you remove armor but leave armament & movement, you get an artillery tractor basically. A revolutionary thing strategically, but not as game-changing tactically.
This really is missing the point. Mobility isn't just about being able to travel from A to B at a certain speed, it is about surviving to reach the destination. The problem here is that the detail level you are looking at doesn't provide any insight into what is going on. Comparing WW2 operations to WW1 we would find the most important changes are due to trucks and radios. They are the primary reason why we don't see a great series of battles in roughly the same locations. They represent the core shift in command and control and mobility but we have lots of other innovations and they all conspire together so that you end up with lots of different ways of describing changes in capability. I could go on about how essential radios were to the operational organisation of armoured warfare, I could go on about how important tanks speed was or the availability of trucks for daily resupply but ultimately non of those things are really relevant to the way that tanks, from the beginning, increased combat tempo and intensity. If you look at the broad span of history and how combat tempo/intensity changed then the natural conclusion is that tank armour reducing the effectiveness of contemporary weapons would naturally lead to increased combat intensity.

This isn't saying that armour is the most important property of a tank. I'm just pointing out that the fact they have armour is why they naturally increase combat intensity.
I'm not obsessed by weapons and don't believe in making wunderwaffes with a "Kill-all" button))

Quite the opposite. I find weapons are tools, that could be used with varying effectiveness depending on the user.
My point here wasn't aimed it you, it is that this obsession with weapons is why public pundits keep getting military outcomes wrong. It was beautifully illustrated by the Yom Kippur and First Gulf Wars were public pundits and the USA's military planners predicted very different outcomes from what happened due to over reliance on evaluating weapons. It is worth noting that the Trevor Dupuy team predicted both wars far, far better than any other group. This is also true of the Russo-Ukraine war were I considered Russian capability as extremely uncertain prior to the conflict but there seemed to be a mass belief that their forces still resembled the abilities NATO publicly claimed they had at the height of the cold war. They Soviet forces never met that standard and modern Russian forces were already very clearly an utter shambles.

The books I would strongly recommend are the Trevor Dupuy books on warfare.
 
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This is not a complete article. Here it is complete and there are also 57 mm guns. There is a test of 60 mm frontal armor.

Ok, yes, you're right.

In Spring of 1941, there was a decision made to produce 500 T-34Ms with 380 of them with 57mm guns. But that's T-34M, an upgrade of the T-34, not the basic T-34. And none of these were actually produced. By the time it came up, T-34s were already in production. This isn't about the initial specification as the original poster pointed out, it's about a further upgrade.
 
Ok, yes, you're right.

In Spring of 1941, there was a decision made to produce 500 T-34Ms with 380 of them with 57mm guns. But that's T-34M, an upgrade of the T-34, not the basic T-34. And none of these were actually produced. By the time it came up, T-34s were already in production. This isn't about the initial specification as the original poster pointed out, it's about a further upgrade.
If you look at another article below it is called T-34 Variants, it contains requirements for the T-34 and the SU-34 self-propelled guns based on the T-34, which were announced in the summer of 1941. It is clearly visible that even an ordinary T-34 tank has requirements for a 57 mm cannon.