Aren't light tanks utterly useless?

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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.

I don't think the British tanks were really specialised for one theatre. More that they were designed with particular assumptions as to the nature of tank warfare, that turned out to be inaccurate. Matilda II and Churchill were both designed with the assumptions that trench-crossing ability would be important, and that a battlefield full of shell craters, similar to conditions of the 1st world war would be present.
Matilda IIs were used in North Africa because they were what was available, after the fall of France, and the abandonment of so much materiel. Same with the Valentine being used to substitute for cruiser tanks in North Africa. They were what was available and could be put into production, rather than what was desired.
The only tank that was really theatre-specific was the Covenanter, and that was by mistake, as design and production problems meant it had poor engine cooling and thus would be unsuitable for overseas service.
Alrigth, point taken. Still I have very hard issue with statement that Spanish civil war taught combatants anything about deadliness of AT cannons
Well, it showed that tank vs tank combat was a lot more likely than had been previously thought. And did show that being armoured only against machineguns and shell splinters wasn't sufficient.
Though not everyone had the same analysis of things.

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.

Ah right, I got your point now. Yeah, this is a limitation of HOI4's equipment system, and how stuff upgrades from one to another, within the same equipment archetype. Pz2-Pz3-Pz4-Pz5 makes sense, but including Pz1 does not. Though Pz-1, Pz 35(t), Pz 38(t) might work...
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.

Kind of, except that HOI4's equipment system, and the tank designer, don't really allow this in any way that makes sense.
The historical progression of the British infantry tank makes no sense either, lol.
Matilda I, small tank, 11 ton
Matilda II, medium tank, 25 ton
Valentine, small tank, 16 ton
Churchill, large tank, 40 ton
There's no way to make that make sense, ingame or out, heh.

The cruiser tanks fit well enough with HOI4 mediums, and light recon tanks fit okay with HOI4 lights, but infantry tanks are a mess, that does not fit well with HOI4's heavy tanks at all.

light tanks should have lower penalties in jungle anyway.

afaik, they don't, which isn't ideal imo.
 
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The only tank that was really theatre-specific was the Covenanter, and that was by mistake, as design and production problems meant it had poor engine cooling and thus would be unsuitable for overseas service.
You probably mean it was not PLANNED as being theater-specific but rather DESIGN MISTAKES made it unsuitable for hot climate. Right?
 
In modern history, light tanks still exist: only now they are called Infantry-Fighting Vehicles, such as the "Bradley Fighting Vehicle" or Soviet BMP series
Bradley and BMP are AFVs not IFVs. When they were created there was no such thing as IFV being separate class / subclass. IFV is a recent concept akin to high-low in Soviet tanks and Soviet / US airforce. Basically IFVs are so expensive now that one cannot afford an all IFV force.
Wherever a modern tank is too expensive to deploy, you use an IFV.
IMHO you can say IFVs/AFVs fulfill the role of infantry tanks (but not light tanks in general) in a sense they support dismounted infantry. Yet they are not designed to conduct say deep penetrations or even fight a minimally capable armoured force on their own. You upgrade T-54/T-55 with modern optics and being in well prepared defense and with capable commanders (sic!) they'll shred advancing Bradlies if they try to do it without tank support (no air cover assumed).
 
Tanks are largely immune to area of effect weapons.
  1. No, absolutely not even for the tanks itself. That was a US thinking up to 70s and it solely existed because US Army simply didn't care to make proper RL tests. Soviet Army had different view on this due to WWII experience. US Army finally conducted the test somewhere in 80s that fully proved Soviet Amy was right. There's an US Army Arty Corps journal and they had an article on the results. IRL tanks take significant damage from massed indirect fires including many mission kills.
  2. You don't need to kill a tank to put it out of action. Destroy fuel tankers and tanks will last just half a day travelling and may be one day or day a half in prepared defence (even if they have APU -- and not many of them do -- firstly they'll still consume fuel for shoot-n-scoot and secondly a cold tank engine burns much more fuel than a running one, so each cold start will be a fuel hog).
Whilst they may be vulnerable to artillery it generally requires a direct hit or a very close miss
Direct hit in 99% of cases will be mission kill and in a good deal of them -- K-kill. 152/155mm HEFRAG-PD (not even airburst!) to the sides or to the back within few meters will be M-kill most of the time. In terms of efficiency the better options are:
  1. Airburst as time fuzes were plentiful at WWII as well (but recce was lacking to use them properly).
  2. Cluster munitions + airburst.
Gunner / commander sights, all things engine / drivetrain, damage to the gun tube to degrade its structural integrity -- all are mission kills. Weather station, gun tube alignment device -- may be not outright mission kills but very significant degradation of fire effectiveness.
The overall effect from the initial introduction of tanks is to reverse the trends ... dispersion of force is significantly reduced.
Why? Tank platton is 3/4 tanks and frontage is comparable to infantry platoon.
an increased tempo of combat (which isn't)
Again why? Increased capabilty of armoured formations to break through the enemy lines is in HoI4's breakthrough. Speed advantage to exploit vs. leg infantry is there as well.
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.
  1. Well 20th century -- ok, but from mid-19th... You sure? There are many examples of cavalry charges used during the second half of the 19th century.
  2. By "battlefield mobility" you probably mean tactical mobility. It's not clear how you move from tactical mobility argument to operational mobility since these are different things and many things good for tactical mobility may are bad for operational and vice versa. And horses as stadard means of OPERATIONAL mobility were widely used even during WWII (though being much inferior to motorized force).
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.
  1. Deep penetration is operational mobility so it's not an "an equivalent battlefield mobility" (by battlefield mobility you probably mean tactical mobility).
  2. How "short battles" relate to resupply? If by battle you mean tactical engagements then they didn't normally last that long even during WWII. And if by "battle" you mean operations then that's an equivalent to older "campaigns" during which the army had to be supplied even in Ancients times.
  3. Mongol Empire is a perfect example of all three -- tactical, operational and strategic. AND masterful deep operations Soviet / German WWII style.
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's not lethality per se but rather C4I and precision. 152/155mm HEFRAG of modern time is more lethal than WWII -- better frag field -- but not THAT MORE lethal. The difference is the quality of battlefield surveillance, detection-to-ToT and precision.
 
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No, absolutely not even for the tanks itself. That was a US thinking up to 70s and it solely existed because US Army simply didn't care to make proper RL tests. Soviet Army had different view on this due to WWII experience. US Army finally conducted the test somewhere in 80s that fully proved Soviet Amy was right. There's an US Army Arty Corps journal and they had an article on the results. IRL tanks take significant damage from massed indirect fires including many mission kills.
That's why my comment said largely. There are a lot of area of effect weapons and some of them, especially large calibre artillery, cause significant damage even with near misses, this is unimportant because tank are massively less vulnerable to area of effect weapons than soft targets. The point is not that they are invulnerable but that they are a lot less vulnerable.
You don't need to kill a tank to put it out of action. Destroy fuel tankers and tanks will last just half a day travelling and may be one day or day a half in prepared defence (even if they have APU -- and not many of them do -- firstly they'll still consume fuel for shoot-n-scoot and secondly a cold tank engine burns much more fuel than a running one, so each cold start will be a fuel hog).
However, fuel tankers don't drive through no man's land to assault enemy positions.

I'm afraid you are kind of missing the point. Just because tanks aren't completely immune to some area of effect weapons, that doesn't invalidate my point at all. To invalidate it you would need to show that tanks were just as vulnerable as infantry.

Why? Tank platoon is 3/4 tanks and frontage is comparable to infantry platoon.
Just look at the tactics. WW2 infantry attacks require intense covering fire and small squads rushing between cover rather than an early WW1 marching towards the enemy. Just think what a tank attack looks like tactically and imagine what that would mean if the units wasn't tanks. What historical period do the tactics look like? WW2 tank attacks look more like US civil tactics that anything more recent, although that is probably quite wrong too.

I'm really not sure why this is so hard to explain. The fundamental point is to understand the long-term historical trend which runs through all of recorded history. The trends are increased weapon lethality, increased articulation, increased dispersion and reducing casualty rates. Tanks, to an extent, reversed that trend due to decreasing weapon lethality which is specifically an effect of their armour. The whole mechanism is quite elegant at explaining the changes in warfare since WW2 as weapon lethality against tanks as increased by leaps and bounds resulting in modern tank combat becoming significantly different from WW2 (as the Israelis found out, much to their cost, in 1973).
 
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I'm really not sure why this is so hard to explain. The fundamental point is to understand the long-term historical trend which runs through all of recorded history. The trends are increased weapon lethality, increased articulation, increased dispersion and reducing casualty rates. Tanks, to an extent, reversed that trend due to decreasing weapon lethality which is specifically an effect of their armour. The whole mechanism is quite elegant at explaining the changes...
  1. I was specifically arguing against your statements that tanks increased force dispersion. A simple test is to compare the frontage of the same units, if tanks have wider frontage when compared to infantry then it would mean they do disperse more. But tank platoon frontage is comparable to infantry platoon frontage so how do you come to your conclusion in case of tanks?
  2. I didn't argue against the whole concept, I agree with it but IMO it stopped working somewhere after 1960s (even for infantry, again a RL measure is frontage) and gained traction again after 2022.
  3. And IMO starting from 1970s and later it's not only and not so much an INDIVIDUAL weapon or weapon platform lethalithy but rather there's less and less fog of war and reaction to detection of the enemy comes quicker and becomes more efficient. It's distinctly different thing.
WW2 infantry attacks require intense covering fire and small squads rushing between cover rather than an early WW1 marching towards the enemy. Just think what a tank attack looks like tactically and imagine what that would mean if the units wasn't tanks.
  1. Infiltration is WWI tactics :)
  2. I haven't seen the comparison yet I do doubt WWI trench warfare offered significantly less volume of fire at TACTICAL level. The reason why they did it was different -- command and control. No radios so you can't keep your formation far away from the commander.
  3. You can have a look at the US Army NTC ABCT videos. You won't see so much more dispersion than in WWII.
UPD: Here you go. Do you see so much more spacing between tanks than in WWII?

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I was specifically arguing against your statements that tanks increased force dispersion. A simple test is to compare the frontage of the same units, if tanks have wider frontage when compared to infantry then it would mean they do disperse more. But tank platoon frontage is comparable to infantry platoon frontage so how do you come to your conclusion in case of tanks?
I was saying that tanks counter the trend and hence reduce force dispersion
And IMO starting from 1970s and later it's not only and not so much an INDIVIDUAL weapon or weapon platform lethalithy but rather there's less and less fog of war and reaction to detection of the enemy comes quicker and becomes more efficient. It's distinctly different thing.
This isn't a distinctly different thing. For the overall historical trend you need to consider the overall lethality of all the weapons being used. There has been a steady progression in battlefield surveillance ever since WW2 along with a steady progression in the ability to reliability hit things at a distance. This represents increased weapon lethality and the modern battlefield has continued the progression
UPD: Here you go. Do you see so much more spacing between tanks than in WWII?
That's two tanks so not very telling. The USA hasn't been directly involved in a relevant war in the period but I think you will find that a modern USA armoured defensive screen has significantly lower density today than it had 80 years ago. You used to need to have tanks (or tank destroyers or AT guns) every 300m or so to avoid having a weak point in your line. Now they can be way further apart as modern tanks are universally lethal out to sight range unless you were somewhere with insane visibility. Dispersion isn't about the fine scale, it's about all scales. I can have a strongpoint an reliably kill anything passing within 1Km - night or day.
 
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.
In what way?
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.
Based on what exactly?
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!".
Well the thing is, if you want to argue "light tanks exist", they actually do, Type 15 tank (fron China) and plenty of other examples out of Asia-Pacific region.
I however take a huge issue when IFVs are called light tanks, or their succesors, or something to that tune.
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.
Well you can ask US army to reclasify Chaffie, if you really want to. I`m sure however they didn`t just toss a coin.
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.
Building theories on data we already know is inaccurate is unacceptable even if we don`t have anything better. The correct anwer is to resist building theories.
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.
I think there was, at least that would explain why early T-34 was not equiped with properly sized turret for it's cannon, and illogically large jump in caliber.
Granted Soviet designers might just have used the turret for 45 mm gun, fitting 75mm in a rush to upgun tank from 45mm gun, that would also explain the situation.
Either way, for that turret size 57mm was far more appropriate, but wasn't available till late 41.
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?
The answer is very simple actually. KV-1 was an initiative design by tank plant and was not meant for serial production. It was only selected for production because the former 2 failed miserably in Finland.
I called it that way, because without that war, KV-1 would be just one of obscure prototypes.
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.
That was comment on thin armor, not multi-turrets.
That's more of a Soviet perspective than a Russian one.
The differnce between Soviet Union and Russia is the same as French Empire and French Republic.
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.
That is incorrect, you can look at late WW1 Russian aircraft, or Russian navy, the principle was the same.
Russia fought and build capacity agains Japan, against Turkey, and against Austria&Germany.
It was still in arms race vs all it`s relevant neighbours, just economically much weaker then SU.
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.

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).
That`s exactly what I`m talking about. "Our" tanks are wonderful in a very specific situation, too bad the situation actually didn`t realise and we had to use them in a sub-par way is a failure of a design philosophy.
If they haven`t designed those tanks to be only good in one specific circumstance, the entire problem would be avoided.
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.
The same can be said of any weapon that isn`t a rifle.
There's a difference between implementation and design.
Well, again I`m pointing out that in real world flexibility in incredibly important, and failure to deliver designs that are flexible enough to be at least decent in environment you actually fight in, is a huge flaw of a vehicle.
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.
The obvious issue is that British designs didn`t shine in the hands of British, and that is the problematic part, as presumably British tanks were not designed to shine in the hands of Martians.
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.
Well it matters is that Soviets were fighting on the very wide front, and created the largest heavy tank fleet to fight there. Which undermines the entire argument about heavy tanks being good for narrow front.
 
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I don't think the British tanks were really specialised for one theatre. More that they were designed with particular assumptions as to the nature of tank warfare, that turned out to be inaccurate. Matilda II and Churchill were both designed with the assumptions that trench-crossing ability would be important, and that a battlefield full of shell craters, similar to conditions of the 1st world war would be present.
To me that sounds exactly being designed for one specific front. After all, WW1 had a number of fronts that had very different conditions, like Italy/Greece/Balkans that were fought over in both wars.
However I agree they were designed around wrong assumptions of tank warfare.
Kind of, except that HOI4's equipment system, and the tank designer, don't really allow this in any way that makes sense.
The historical progression of the British infantry tank makes no sense either, lol.
Matilda I, small tank, 11 ton
Matilda II, medium tank, 25 ton
Valentine, small tank, 16 ton
Churchill, large tank, 40 ton
There's no way to make that make sense, ingame or out, heh.
The cruiser tanks fit well enough with HOI4 mediums, and light recon tanks fit okay with HOI4 lights, but infantry tanks are a mess, that does not fit well with HOI4's heavy tanks at all.
Why not? You can design "infantry" tank on any chasis with any weapon.
Obviousy you have to change template, but that is acceptable game mechanics.
Sometimes countries just make strange decisions due to *reasons* like German 2 fuctionally identical mediums Pz3/Pz4, or Soviet MBT zoo of nearly identical T-64, T-72 and T-80.

I also think British entire "infantry tank" progression was such illogical mess for same reason, politicians trying to rush out something into field ASAP, resulting in illogical quagmire of models.
 
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I think there was, at least that would explain why early T-34 was not equiped with properly sized turret for it's cannon, and illogically large jump in caliber.
Granted Soviet designers might just have used the turret for 45 mm gun, fitting 75mm in a rush to upgun tank from 45mm gun, that would also explain the situation.
Either way, for that turret size 57mm was far more appropriate, but wasn't available till late 41.
No, the 57-mm ZiS-4 cannon differed from the F-34 cannon mainly in the barrel tube and the weight on the cradle (counterweight) for balancing, otherwise their breech is identical, so both the 76-mm gun and the 57-mm the gun will occupy the same space in the turret, the main difference is only the tank’s larger ammunition load.
 
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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.

I don't really agree with the tactic issue, as it is right that this is not the absolute best solution, and I like when there is not too many of these as I consider them as "fun dead end" as you have nothing to do around them, guerilla tactics is not that easy to get, and yes, obviously you shouldn't try to go for the template I described if your opponent is going for mobile warfare or mass assault, for bridge crossing, as a breakthrough unit, I don't considered that having terrain restriction, like not crossing a river to attack is an issue, this king of unit is intended for a quite large country, you should be able to find suitable places to launch your offensive, the same way you do with standard armored division, as they will face similar issues.

I think the best way is pure two width infatry battalion, they will take a large amount of damage, but they are really expandable and can bit sent to battle in number, on a two front attack in a plain, you cas put 15 of them to tank for your SPG, I didn't try to run the case but even with poor combat stats, they have a lot of org and should hold for enough time to allow the 1800 ish soft attack division behind to grind anything that isn't armored.

The obvious drawback is the air war, due to CAS randomness, you will need absolute air dominance, and this is probably the real issue if you are not facing an AI with a strong enough country (which I tend to not do a lot as it is less challenging to me), so yes, I don't intend to switch over a 75 LSGP div, but I think it is still possible to use it, if you are able to clear the sky of enemy bombers, adding AA to the division is not even an option, you will face tremendous losses anyway, you can't let them pass.

To come back to more calssic armored division, I tend to avoid SPG, I find there balance quite weird at the moment, mostly due do the medium hotwitzer being a "tank" weapon and so giving good soft attack without sacrificing other important stats and draining your supply out of the entire state. The other obvious issue is the industry optimisatoin that is a bit more tricky with two type of armored units, nothing impossible to fix, but still something to worry about.

That is an interesting idea, I never considered it. Mostly due to the fact I entirely phased out tanks in support companies. It took me quite a long time to find out why I was never able to have enough of them and finally run into the attrition issue for low quantity equipment. After some math I decided against them as the cost was tremendous and I was mostly runing them in the mobile forces used for exploitation, and they need to run regardless of terrain, weather, or even supply status, so I downgraded them to save some mils here and have them for more critical equipment. But in case I'll return them back to my divisions, I'll consider it, it seems very usefull, thank you ofr the tip, especially for flame tanks as they can't have a lot of most other stats, so they get dozer a long time ago, but full drums are really nice too.
 
I was saying that tanks counter the trend and hence reduce force dispersion
"In the attack formations shown it is seldom that the tank battalion can strongly attack over a front greater than 1,800 yards. The infantry battalion can seldom strongly attack over a frontage greater than 1,000 yards." Source: FM17, The Armoured Force, Employment of Armoured Units, Armoured Division
So this DOES NOT support the statement that employment of tanks reduce force dispersion.

Disclaimer:
  1. FM17 is used as a sole source since it was a one-stop-shopping for the official data. The limitation is only attack data is given yet it's it's an official data :)
  2. If anyone wants one can do a robust search for frontages yet since I did that for a discussion many years ago believe me lifting data from proper sources will both take quite a time AND will ask for access to not so cheap a books :)
  3. Limitations: yes, I know there's no universal measure for frontage (so that's one a thing that makes the task from the previous point so difficult :) Main defining factors are:
    • Attack or defence
    • Hasty or prepared, especially engineering preparations of defence positions
    • Enemy strength
    • Commander's intent, e.g. your unit may be tasked with delaying an expected attack of a much stronger enemy so you can trade frontage for depth
    • Formation, i.e. unit frontage depends on how many sub-units are deployed on the FEBA. Since sub-units have their frontage as well a line formation can/will take more frontage than V or wedge.
    • Visibility, since sub-units should (ideally) be able to support other sub-units so e.g. dense forest reduces frontage when compared with "normal" forest
    • Available lines of fire, same as previous point
    • Weapons range, same as previous points plus one can have gaps between strong points not covered by a continious (defence) line. Enemy movement will be denied by longer range weapons. E.g. infantry units having heavy infantry weapons like mortars, GPMGs etc. can cover wider frontage. AND that means tank units can/will have EVEN WIDER frontage.
    • Tactical mobility, if one has a subunit(s) in reserve they are expected to reinforce other subunit(s) in case it/they run into trouble. So greater tactical mobility allows wider dispersion.
Again some of these considerations does not support the quoted statement.
This isn't a distinctly different thing. For the overall historical trend you need to consider the overall lethality of all the weapons being used.
It is different. You spoke about weapons lethality and that means INDIVIDUAL weapons and/or weapon platforms. What I meant and what you implicitly said in this statement is an overall lethality of the modern battlefield. It had a profound impact on militaries and weapons when at about 1970s-1980s NATO strategy switched from increasing individual lethality to providing better detection and reaction time. It is well documented discussion and if these two things were the same there would be nothing to discuss and nothing to change :)
--
You say now that
You used to need to have tanks (or tank destroyers or AT guns) every 300m or so to avoid having a weak point in your line.
300m per tank means 3 tank plt has 900m of frontage and 4 tank plt has 1'200. Here are infantry pl frontages in defence:

Russian 250-300 m Sharp (1998)
German 200-300 m Gajkowski (1995)
German 200-500 m U.S. War Department (1995)
Source: https://balagan.info/infantry-unit-frontages-during-ww2. Original sources are given on the page.

Here we see that infantry pl has times narrower frontage than tank pl. As I said:
I was specifically arguing against your statements that tanks increased force dispersion.
It was 3AM my time when I was answering so I made two mistakes:
  1. I mistyped my statement here, as it's seen from the quote I provided I meant to say the tanks did increase force dispersion. Your original quote is below.
  2. I certainly was wrong in saying that tank pl frontage is comparable to infantry pl frontage. Again 3AM, have I thought over my statement more carefully I'd certainly said it increased :) Mea culpa :)
The overall effect from the initial introduction of tanks is to reverse the trends ...and dispersion of force is significantly reduced.
Judging by your recent answers seems to me you now agree that the tanks did not reverse the trend and did increase force dispersal
 
@Joshua Happytree
My position on this general issue is that the historical trend of increasing aggregate lethality of weapon systems has continued since the introduction of tanks and therefore there has been a continuing increase in dispersion and reduction in daily casualty rates. This trend has seen a lot of significant changes in the overall provision and capability of military equipment which has led, as it has done in the past, to disruption of the trend whilst everyone works out how to operate efficiently.

I believe the best examples of the adoption problem are 1967 and 1973 Arab Israeli wars because they are far enough in the past for reliable historical analysis (unlike the Russo-Ukraine war where there are many parties trying to obfuscate the lessons). The 1967 war had the Israelis teaching the Arabs about the wonders of modern long range tank gunnery which acted as a massive force multiplier. The 1973 war taught the Israelis about the weakening of armoured attacks due to high capability infantry anti-tank weapons. Both wars had enhanced losses due to both parties not having a good understanding of how warfare had changed. This is an ongoing problem that significantly prevents reliable objective analysis based on modern trends.

My contention is that when tanks were first introduced they created a blip in the trend by introducing a significant reduction in total battlefield lethality. This means that they decreased force dispersion and increased combat intensity (and hence short-term casualty rates). This was a temporary effect because weapons systems continued to improve and by the time of WW2 we see battlefield casualty rates as being extremely similar to WW1. As far as I am concerned HOI4 already perfectly well simulates the reduced dispersion effect of tanks with the combat scores that apply to armoured battalions. In fact I would say that side is perfectly well simulated and I've forgotten now why we were talking about it.

However, I do feel that the increased combat intensity isn't simulated very well. There ought to be a common combat tactic of armoured attack which simply applies a bonus to both sides simulating increased intensity of combat - basically just making the combat quicker. In HOI4 this speeded up combat depends instead of high attack scores in armoured divisions and the ability to overwhelm the defenders defence score.

I do have a concern with HOI4 that improved weapons in HOI4 simply increase attack scores leading to increased casualties. Org increases through the game to balance this but there should really be corresponding hit point bonuses to slow down losses as well.
 
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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.
Not only there was an idea they produced prototypes (wiki says 14). They decided against putting in production because:
  1. ZiS-4 pen was a total overkill against German tanks of 1940.
  2. ZiS-4 was lowere caliber and high velocity so was bad in HEFRAGs.
  3. ZiS-4 was high velocity so:
    1. The tube life was short
    2. Production costs were high due to more expensive alloys, more expensive tooling and tighter metalworking tolerances.
    3. Production volumes would be lower as significantly fewer plants were able to produce it.
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.
No, direct fire (tanks) is quite bad against dug in infantry (good at suppression but bad at elimination) especially if it's high velocity guns. Even modern AFVs have this problem though the accuracy increased A LOT. Even rather low mils result in many meters and tens of meters of over- and under-shoot since the trajectory is so flat. Hence AB rounds for Western IFVs, GL for Berezhok combat module for BMP-2 and 57mm lower velocity gun for (PR stunt) T-14 :)

PS If anyone interested there's a presentation "in the wild" from I believe Alliant (but not sure if it's theirs) on testing different AB designs. The conclusion: AB promo videos on Youtube are promo videos :) IRL it does significantly reduce downrange error yet not enough to "break even" against trenches. Munition expenditure will be high and those will be terribly expensive AB not a regular PD. Probably that's why so far IRL AB is fielded in anti-air role but not en masse for "anti-trench" warfare.
Tanks IMO are an ideological continuation of "Horse artillery" which differed from foot artillery by having higher mobility.
  1. IMO there were no real tactical mobility for "foot art" by the second half of 19th century. Arty pieces became too heavy, grunts can move them tens of meters but not kilomoters.
  2. There's a very important concept of accessible terrain. It's one of the most important foundations at tactical and operational levels and mobile weapon platforms design. It's the core of the never ending battle between tracks and wheels affeciondos (both in the professional military and in general public :) So respectfully disputing with @Kanitatlan where tanks did do a quantum leap is in accessible terrain and corresponding tactical mobility for "big bang" weapons platforms. IMHO WWI experience is not that tanks cannot be disabled by infantry guns of the time -- that happened easily -- the main difference is both heavy (by WWI standards) and mobile firepower has so many more avenues to attack.
The general principle of improved combat/weapon systems across history leading to ... a steady reduction of the size of units that would operate independently which has led to the basic tactical units being a fire team.
Fire teams IS more or less WWII concept (may be even WWI -- know too little about that period). There was a switch from base of fire + maneuver element to equally capable fireteams yet I'd argue it's mostly limited to US Army and the reason is an unrivalled lower level C4 (and it's not exactly proven in near-peer conflicts -- God forbids!). If one devolves fire support to squad level to offset increased response time then one ends up with same old WWII concept -- base of fire + manuer elements.
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.
I'd argue it's C4ISR not lethality of INDIVIDUAL weapon and weapon platform. IMHO it's been quite articulated in Mr. Zaluzhny's long / doctrinal version of The Economist article (easy-to-digest short version is lacking IMHO) though it was glossed over in the long / doctrinal version of the CNN article. Probably due to political reasons as The Economist version was too much of a bombshell :(

PS As a disclaimer and to set things straigt I do selectively pick some points from long posts and "ignore" the others. But that's just because I totally agree with the things I "miss" and I see no value in spamming the discussion with "I agree" :)
 
I'd argue it's C4ISR not lethality of INDIVIDUAL weapon and weapon platform. IMHO it's been quite articulated in Mr. Zaluzhny's long / doctrinal version of The Economist article (easy-to-digest short version is lacking IMHO) though it was glossed over in the long / doctrinal version of the CNN article. Probably due to political reasons as The Economist version was too much of a bombshell :(
For clarity, in all cases where I'm referring to increasing lethality of weapons, I am specifically referring to the aggregate lethality of the all generally available weapons together. For example, I see the increased availability of radio in WW2 is being an increase in lethality due to its impact on artillery effectiveness. Similar issues apply in modern times with, as mentioned previously, the Ukrainian use of a cheap drone to locate a tank hidden behind hard cover (a farm house) and then kill it with direct fire without direct observation . It is a beautiful example of increased overall lethality via the use of something that doesn't directly hurt anyone.
 
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UPD: Part 1 of 3 ‍♂️

First of all I'd like to say two things:
  1. We disagree on many topics yet I immensly value the discussion we have. Very very interesting and rewarding to me.
  2. To repeat from what I wrote in the other thread, it might seem I do elect to answer few points from your extensive posts (and not only yours) but that's just I agree with the rest and I think I have nothing to add.
increasing aggregate lethality of weapon systems has continued since the introduction of tanks and therefore there has been a continuing increase in dispersion and reduction in daily casualty rates.
IMO Daily casualty rates -- side discussion yet for the sake of clarity I'd say it's not so obvious IMO. By misemploying forces you can achieve horrible casualty rates yet should it be attributed to quantum leaps in weapons and weapon platforms? Again quoting Mr. Zaluzhny: "Every war is unique". IMO:
  1. We can use the term "battlefield lethality" or your suggested "aggregate lethality". IMO they are different yet for the sake of this discussion they'd suffice (and I don't know what's the current name for it :)IMO the relevance can be proven by:
    1. US economy mobilization calculation in 80s, the switch from an older "let's have more bang in individual weapons / weapon platforms" concept to a new " better individual K/D ratio" model thanks to detection-to-ToT and/or precision munition. Off the cuff Arms Appropriation Committee transcripts should still be available online.
    2. There were some interviews with Soviet military leadership explaining why they decided they needed such a "force overmatch" in Europe.
  2. Definitely don't want to touch the bleeding wounds of today yet it might be interesting to learn how:
    1. Precision munition concept was born not out of "too much money" situation but rather the opposite -- "not enough money" to counter North Korea style Soviet total economy mobilisation (and craziness of political leadership on both ends).
    2. C4ISR is a force multiplier.
    3. C4ISR is limited in a "total war" scenario -- see p.1
    4. "Ammo hunger" is absolutely unavodable on both sides in case of prolonged massive warfare.
unlike the Russo-Ukraine war where there are many parties trying to obfuscate the lessons
  1. IMO you can get a good overall estimate yet you'd need to base your judgement on rather low-level / detailed sources and then generalize.
  2. It'll eat a hell of effort per day. If you want really accurate data you'd need more than one FTE (I don't do that as a disclaimer, too much personal risk).
  3. Even at the COLLECTION stage save analysis you'd run afoul of one side of the other. The "expected result will be unexpected" at best or rather personally peinful if you persist.
  4. Since it's an ongoing I'd suggest to rather avoid unnecessary references to that because:
    1. It'll be bloody personal and painful to many people.
    2. It's no history, no historical analysis and up-to-date analysis will always end up being p.1
    3. Summing up, may we stick to no more than long version of both of Mr. Zaluzhny's articles? They are doctrinal enough -- the best higher-level, -- IMO they are certainly 200% in touch with RL battlefield of today.
 
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Part 2 of 3
Both wars had enhanced losses due to both parties not having a good understanding of how warfare had changed. This is an ongoing problem that significantly prevents reliable objective analysis based on modern trends.
I believe if yu draw lessons from Arab-Israeli wars then I'd note the following / Disclaimer:
  1. The sum of ToE, training, force deployment from tactical to strategic level is hard to change in pre-2022 reality. So it's a kind of high stakes poker -- loose all, win all. Most explicit in Arab side of Arab-Israeli wars. IMO one might / should see it in HoI4 MP yet it can be even more clear in IRL near-peer conflicts (let them never happen).
  2. (Offtopic) That's what I've mentioned for HoI4 to make it my personal kind of fun yet I don't believe it's feasible for a consumer game. It's not a consumer game when people spend like tens if not hundreds of hours on analysis and then few hours on playtime :(
  3. (Little thing) Should North to South (and back) redeployment of IDF be considered as strategic? From the point of view of The State of Israel it's certainly strategic. But from a generic war science it's not necessarily so because it takes so little time and allows a margin of errot to rectify the miscalculations of the enemy plans.
PS I promise to post no more extra-long extra-dull texts :)