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Posted on Dec 30, 2010 in Stuff We Like

‘Greatest Tank Battles’ on Military Channel – Review

By Jay Wertz

Computer generated graphics give Greatest Tank Battles realistic scenes like this German Tiger tank rolling through a ruined town. Courtesy of The Military Channel.

Tanks. The mere mention of the word brings images of mechanized beasts rolling over improvised battlefields in a headlong and extremely powerful jousting match. Replacing cavalry as the “romantic” weapon of ground warfare in the 20th century, tanks quickly established a tradition of grand spectacle before mid-century and continued to be the tactical weapon of choice for ground combat whenever practical.

It may not be a surprise then that Military Channel has chosen to roll out its new original series Greatest Tank Battles (premiering January 5, 2011, 10–11 pm ET) with what one participant describes as probably “the last great tank battle of the 20th century.” The Battle of the 73 Easting took place during the Gulf War on February 26, 1991. It was a decisive victory of the U. S.-led United Nations forces over Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces in response to the despot’s invasion of Kuwait. By the time the tanks of the U. S. Army’s 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment broke through the elite armor of Hussein’s Republican Guard, the war was all but over. Occurring as it did near the 73rd east longitudinal parallel, from which the name of this battle is derived, the Battle of the 73 Easting can thus be etched in the annals of great tank battles.


Animation is used to show detailed characteristics of individual tanks. Courtesy The Military Channel.One obvious element of the series goes right along with the high-tech nature of the American response in the Gulf War—the tank battle is carefully reconstructed with 3D computer animation (CGI). This is animation to match any found in the best combat computer or video games, and it adds great clarity to showing how the battle played out. I suspect this will be a strength of the series and will also be effective in capturing previous armored combat—though animators will be working overtime to recreate the thousands of vehicles involved in the Battle of Kursk. In addition to the tank action, CGI is used in the description of tanks involved (among them the M1A1 Abrams and the T-92) and their weapons systems.

But this would all be a video game without the history to go with it. Tank commanders and other officers from Eagle and Ghost troops of the 2nd Regiment—the vanguard of the U. S. Seventh Corps that flanked the IRG to the west and aggressively attacked Iraqi armor—join Dr. Kenneth Pollack, author of Arabs at War, in giving an overview of the action. More importantly, army veterans relate yard-by-yard details of the roughly 90-minute principal battle. They not only recount their own decisions and actions, they assess the performance of Soviet-made Iraqi armor, the precise battle plans of Iraqi field commanders, and the bravery of individual comrades and enemy soldiers.

There’s also a fair amount of G. I. humor present, such as a description of how Ride of the Valkyries was swapped for the propaganda warfare loudspeaker announcements encouraging surrender as the tanks crossed the enemy border. Another time, a captured English-speaking Iraqi officer mocks a picture of Erwin Rommel inside one of the tanks. In fact, the Americans studied the tactics of Rommel, Guderian and other Wehrmacht armor visionaries. Study, practice and technology were key elements to support the superior performance of American equipment in this battle, which at times was fought in blinding sandstorms against a dug-in Iraqi defense.

Future installments in the ten-part series cover all the well-known tank clashes: Kursk (2 parts), Golan Heights, El Alamein and five actions in the Allied advance across Western Europe. I don’t suppose any action by tanks in World War I, Korea, Vietnam, the Pacific in World War II or conflicts since the Gulf War could be considered great tank battles—but with the technology now developed, a number of future possible program themes involving tanks could emerge. And that’s something I think every military history enthusiast can get behind.

For additional showtimes, see the schedule on the Military Channel.

Jay Wertz is the producer-director-writer of the award-winning 13-part documentary series Smithsonian’s Great Battles of the Civil War for The Learning Channel and Time-Life Video. He is also the author of The Native American Experience and The Civil War Experience 1861-1865 and co-authored Smithsonian’s Great Battles and Battlefields of the Civil War with prominent historian Edwin C. Bearss. His most recent publication is War Stories: The Pacific, Vol. I, Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal, published by Weider History Publications.


  1. This show has been on the air in Canada (History Television) and it is not worth the viewer’s time to watch. With few exceptions its falls back on the old stereotypes, is horribly inaccurate in even basic details and repeats old wives tales and “claims”. Best consigned to the trash heap along with most documentaries about the war.

    • useless comment with not examples

      • on the tank battle of June 7 in Normandy, the program shows the Sherbrooke Fusilers destroying 9 panther tanks that crossed their line of advance early in the day before they were ambushed by !2SS Mark IV Regiment.. The narrator claims his gunner was asleep. My problem with this is that there were no Panthers in the area on June 7th. 12SS Panthers arrived on June 8th and 21st Panzer only had Mark IVs. Where did the mysterious 9 Panthers come from???? I think the researchers screwed this up with wrong time line or something, so here’s an example of not getting it right..

    • I am looking for information about the GREAT TANK BATTLE in the ANGOLA (AFRICA) WAR? Using 50 T34 Russian tanks?

  2. This tank program is not that bad and and the computer graphics make it very realistic as possible. Instead of watching the same combat footage used for many different battles at least now we can see the real battle even if there are any minor flaws with historical accuracy. As a military history buff with my blog military history of the 29th century even I can’t get everything 100% accurate all the time. Ask any historian and they will tell you that no matter how many hours of research gets done there is always the chance of missing something.

    • The proper name for the blog is military history of the 20th century as you can see in the original post there was a typo with the century number.
      As for the people who do not like this series I wonder what they think of Patton 360; to me another very good WWII series because of the computer graphics. It is as realistic as possible with out being there. But nothing beats Battle 360 and Dogfights for great graphics.
      There is also the movie Flyboys with excellent graphics of WWI air battles. I can only hope that a movie production company will do a modern remake of Battle of Britain and Battle of Midway using these computer graphics.

  3. Wow. What a great show. The CGI was excellent, the commentary added value, and the all-up summary at the end put it in perspective. 73 Easting was no Kursk, but then again the Soviets didn’t have reverent pictures of Rommel in their war rooms, so what did they know?

    The Military Channel has upped its game with this series, and I’m looking forward to the Golan Heights, El Alamein, and the five actions in Europe. And of course the 2-part Kursk episode.

  4. The authors of this film GTB are IDIOTS. It shows how they are uninformed and arrogant. They depict this battles like some hippies. they have no sense of time and emotional atmosphere!!! they pay almost no attention to tactics on the battlefield. They lie about numbers and losses (especially about Kursk battle). This film is childish and senseless. I know history of the WW II very good but this film is made for kids and idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thos who like this “documentary” films about tank battles have no brains at all, and they make a perfect couple with the authors of it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    • the type of comment (rant) that should be removed

    • I agree with Michael.

      And, Olmer, if you think this series is so bad – what the heck are doing wasting your time watching it? Hmmm??!

  5. Why no subtitles for the Germans, Russkies, and French?

  6. Are some of the facts wrong? They very well could be, but I feel certain Military Channel did a good amount of research and gathered a load of facts from different sources – including some from the actual participants – in putting these segmants together.

    Like anything else, including the books that we read and on which we seem to be judging the content of this program, the facts presented by any media – be it books, TV programs, magazines, et al, – are the result of the research by the author, producers and so on.

    Maybe the facts presented here are more acurate than we have all come to believe through our readings or studies. Could it be that some of the ‘older’ facts we have come to believe to be the ‘truths’ were actually inaccurate from the beginning but were perpetuated throughout time so we have come to believe them as the ‘truths’?

    But does it matter if there are a few inaccuracies. I enjoy the program immensely! It think it is so neat to see some of the battles I have only read about before, and imagined while staring at my maps during my reading, to be put into motion by these excellent graphics.

    Bravo to Military Channel for an entertaining show!

    • As a military blogger at I can agree with blaster2239 completely. As I had already wrote historians, both professional and amateur can put in hundreds or even thousands of hours of research and still miss something that would make all the purists or know it alls to say yes they agree. It is impossible to always get every fact 100% right and as blaster2239 wrote maybe what we have read about or seen in the past was wrong so the best part of these new military series are the graphics that put you right into the heart of the battle.

  7. answering to your question I must say that I just hoped that they will be better, or created better when the authors speak about modern battles (Iraq, Israel) but it didn’t happen. And speaking about the fact what the authors did, its obvious to me that the quality of it is worse than it could be. If you don’t believe me watch Discovery Battlefields, this project is done much better!!! National Geographic makes pretty good documentary films.

  8. Also I’ll tell you one thing that will change your attitude to my comments(but now I don’t care, I saw your perception of WW2 and other wars) I’m Russian, I’ve communicate with veterans of WW2, with people who saw it, I know history of that war very good because our land still heals from wounds of that war, parts of this war are all around here because we’ve broken the spine of germans and suffered the heaviest losses…..
    And I’m telling you this films do not show the real atmosphere of the battles!!! the don’t show how people died for their Motherland!!! How they fought and died with only one hope in their hearts – to win this Great Patriotic War and to come HOME!!!!!!!! to start a new, peaceful life…

    • The problem here starts with the fact that Russians think of WWII as only their personal war- the Great Patriotic War and not of the war on the entire world front. Yes Russia or I should say the ex- Soviet Union did suffer the worst of casualties but they did not win it all by themselves; the Western Allies went through much suffering in getting help to your nation during the worst times of the world war. Just ask any sailor who manned a ship on a Russian bound convoy. And there could have been much more help from the West but Stalin was so afraid or concerned about the after the war effects of the extra help that he out right refused this help and even refused to help the West when he at first refused to allow American bombers to land safely in Russia after attacking targets deep into Germany and also objected to the British idea of attacking German forces in the South East part of this campaign by saying nyet to an invasion from Iran because Stalin did not want Western military forces any where in the Soviet Union.
      So then that only left the Allied war effort on the Southern end of Europe until the West had sufficient forces ready for an invasion of Western Europe.
      And one last thing; Stalin was warned ahead of time about the planned German invasion but refused to believe it because it came from Western Intelligence operations, namely Ultra, that he did not trust or believe.

      • I deeply respect all people who took part in the convoys, their victims and their heroic deeds!!!!!!!!! but in any case, according to different sources total volume of allied help was from 4 to 6 percent used by the Soviet Union, and that played great role only during the battle for Moscow in 1941, in other periods of war that help wasn’t deadly important. Despite that I’m really grateful for that help!!! (and speaking about convoy’s and the role of Churchil in them, I’d advise you to read the book written by Valentine Picul Requiem to convoy PQ-17, really interesting, besides that he was the witness of those events!) Stalin made a lot of mistakes unfortunately…
        But you have wrong information about bombers, they were allowed to land here, from spring 1944, their airfield was near Kharkov. And it is understandable why he didn’t allow British to come from Iran. We needed second front which would take at least some part of germans from the western front!!! And Western allies had such possibility in 1943 already, but they preferred to invade to Africa, To Sicily and to Italy! And I know that these operation were inspired by Motgomery, by Cherchil who wanted Soviet Union and germany to waste all the resources. So it was policy not only for Stalin but for Churchil who hated Russia unfortunately. For us that War was here, on our territory, and for western allies except France, it was somewhere else. Population of that countries got the information fom newspapers, and our people saw all that horrors in their own eyes. And that makes a great difference between us…

        But we went far from the topic, this show GTB is arrogant and far from truth!!!

      • 92% of German Deaths were on the Eastern Front ’nuff said
        Enen if Hitler had defeated the UK & then invaded the USSR he would have lost.
        Soviet munitions production & an inexaustable supply of men would have seen off the Germans.

    • Olmer, you are incorrect in your statements regarding the aid suppplied to the Soviet Army by the Allies only amounted to about 4-6% and center around the Battle for Moscow. I believe that if you reserched this further, and use sources other than those written by the Soviet Forces – who had a tendency to discount the Allied aid and over-emphasize their own skills to win favor with Stalin – you will find the aid contributed by the Allies was a large factor in the Soviet successes.

      One example is Operation Bagration launched in June, 1944 involoving the Soviet push through Beelorussia. At that time the Soviet supply lines were so stretched that had it not been for the trucks and other vehicles supplied by the US and Great Britian the Soviet would have had to pause their push to allow their supplies to reach them by horse-and-cart or the limited railway facilities available.

      And the campaigns by the Allies in North Africa, Sicily, the Balkans, etc necessitated Hitler diverting troops to these fronts that would otherwise have been sent to the Russian Front. As a matter of fact, Hitler had to delay his initial starting date for Barbarossa by 3 months to handle the situation in the Balkans – a situation created by Churchill stirring up the partisans in these countries.

      • Thanks blaster; and Olmer I never wrote that Stalin refused the Americans to land their bombers on Russian air bases; I wrote that he at first refused to allow this to happen until he was coerced into allowing this and if you read the stories of the American crews on these missions when they did land at these Russian bases they were so tightly controlled and guarded about what they can’t do and just about confined to their quarters or planes like they could not be trusted. Also that delay in the Balkans was done mostly through the use of Ultra and as I wrote about in the Battle for Malta at militaryhistoryofthe20thcentury Hitler was torn between trying to help the Italians and having enough airplanes for the siege on Leningrad and other battles in Russia. Add to that as blaster wrote the German troops and equipment that were used up and wasted in North Africa and Sicily could never be replaced. There is also the continuous bombing campaign against German targets in Europe not only tied up aircraft and their crews but there were about one million troops manning the anti-aircraft search lights, radar and guns.
        Just think of what Hitler might have gotten done with all those extra troops and equipment.
        This was a world wide war and all the battles had an effect on the major outcome.

      • the Balkan issue was because Italy (Mussolini) invade Albania and Greece against Hitler wishes at that moment, that as result created a opportunity for the British to attack the weak Italian army and push Germany to launch an offensive delaying the operation Barbarossa almost 3 months… but the partisan did not affect the 1941 invasion on Russia at all, the partisan war in the Balkans start to get serious from mid 1942 on not before….

      • The Balkans issues and campaign has nothing to do with the partisans and Churchill, it was because Italy (Mussolini) without telling any to Hitler launches an operation in the Greco-Italian War that lasted from 28 October 1940 to 30 April 1941 and was part of World War II. Italian forces invaded Greece and made limited gains. But soon the Greeks counter-attacked and the Italians were repulsed and driven back into Albania. The Italians spent much of the winter stabilizing a line which left them in control of only about two-thirds of Albania. A much anticipated Italian offensive in March 1941 failed to make sufficient progress. Then Germany intervened in April and invaded Greece because England had already intervene and take /occupied Crete,lemnos plus starting landing British forces in Greece; after they launch the successful invasion of Yugoslavia. All this delayed for about 3 months the German invasion of Soviet Union
        Battle of Greece [edit]
        Hitler began planning to invade Greece in November 1940, after the British occupied Crete and Lemnos. He ordered the German Invasion of Greece — code-named Unternehmen Marita (Operation Marita) by Germany — on 13 December 1940 for execution in March 1941. The stated aim of the operation was to prevent the British from getting air bases within striking range of the Romanian oilfields.[1] On 6 April 1941, the German Army invaded northern Greece, while other elements launched an attack against Yugoslavia. Breaking through the Yugoslav lines in southern Yugoslavia allowed Germany to send reinforcements to the battlefields of northern Greece. The German army out-flanked the Greek Metaxas Line fortifications and, despite the assistance provided by a British expeditionary corps, set out to capture the southern Greek cities. The Battle of Greece ended with the German entry into Athens and the capture of the Peloponnese, although about 40,000 Allied soldiers were evacuated to Crete, prompting one of the largest airborne attacks in the history of warfare: Operation Merkur, or the Battle of Crete.
        Invasion of Yugoslavia[edit]
        The invasion of Yugoslavia (also known as “Operation 25”) began on 6 April 1941 and ended with the unconditional surrender of the Royal Yugoslav Army on 17 April. The invading Axis powers (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria) occupied and dismembered the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. By cobbling together Bosnia and Herzegovina, some parts of Croatia, and Syrmia, the “Independent State of Croatia” (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH) was created by Germany and Italy. In some of the territory of the former Kingdom of Serbia and the Banat, the German-occupied Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia, the Germans appointed a puppet government, the Government of National Salvation led by Milan Nedić. Montenegro remained under Italian occupation.

    • Olmer,

      I think it is important for a Russian point of view to be expressed here. Soviet historiography is not well known in the West. But you have to understand that what is useful is not calling film makers or others idiots or childish. What would be useful is to deal with specific facts and statements.

      Now I happen to agree with what I understand to be your major point, that it was the Red Army that suffered most of the casualties and played the central role in breaking the back of the Wehrmacht. And fir this we in the West have to be eternally grateful.

      There is, however, more to the story. It was not just Hitler that launched World War II by invading Poland. It was Hitler and Stalin as a result of the NAZI-Soviet Non-Agression Pact. The Soviet Union and the NAZIs were allies for nearly 2 years. Your country shipped massive quantities of oil and other critical materials to the Germans to assist them invade and occupy most of Western Europe. And your country invaded and or seized land from neighboring countries (Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania) just as the NAZIS did in the West. And the NKVD conducted horrific atrocities in the countries it occupied. (Katyn is only the tip of the iceberg.) .The reasons that the Red Army had to fight the Great Patriotic War with only limited support from the West, is that your country assisted Germany in defeating the French Army, a force that as long as it existed would have made it impossible for Germany to invade the Soviet Union.

  9. I will praise the show for historical accuracy. My dad was the commander of all of ghost troop and said that the computer simulation was on point.

  10. Best as I could find out, the battle of Kursk is not included in the series. If i’m right, it would be like having a show called “greatest amphibian landings” , and leaving out D-Day.. What’s wrong, still scared of the commies?

    • Sorry Matt but you are far off base here. As a military history fan with my blog militaryhistoryofthe20thcentury I am a fan of this show and they have 2 episodes on The Battle of Kursk.


      In the summer of 1943, Hitler launches a massive armoured offensive in an effort to regain the upper hand on the Eastern Front. This is the story of the formidable Russian defense that stalls a massive panzer onslaught on the Northern shoulder of the Kursk salient.


      The Battle of Kursk comes to a climax at the Russian village of Prokhorovka on July 12, 1943. This is the story of the largest tank battle in military history, as elite SS troops face off against Russian defenders determined to stop them whatever the cost.

      A little bit of research on line could of shown you all this. As I wrote before there is no such thing as a military program or any type of history research that will get everything 100% accurate so just enjoy the show for the graphics and the reality of the event.

    • Matt

      The first of these, The Battle for Kursk-Northern Front, is scheduled to air on Wed, Mar 2, at 9:00 pm CST. I imagine the second part detailng the Southern Front and the mighty battle at Prokhorovka will air the following week.

      Let’s all hope they do this – what I think was indeed THE Greatest Tank Battle – justice.

  11. people do REALLY THINK THAT THERE WERE NO TRUCKS EXCEPT AMERICA|N and British????????????????? I’m shocked, really. if you believe that there was no technique and no industry in the Soviet Union, then how our t-34 and il-2 and other battle tanks and planes and ship appeared????????? in Bagration were used not only allied vehicles, but most of vehicles used were soviet ones! I agree that Katushas needed american trucks, but the supply lines used our own cars mostly, don’t forget how hard it was to bring them here, you couldn’t possibly bring here all cars needed, but still we won, and destroyed nazi. I respect all people who took part in convoys, I’m grateful for all that help. But, don’t think that your help played the main role in the Soviet front, sources and statistics may be politicized, but our veterans not, and they felt everything on their skin, and saw the volume of allied held in their own eyes. And if we speak about overestimating please don’t forget that all European and American historians wrote in the period of cold war and their view was under control of European and American governments, hostile to the USSR, or under prejudices formed by these historians!!! So if you think that our historians underestimate allied help, how can you be sure that your sources do not overestimate it???

    Till summer 1944, there was such a bitter joke in our army, our soldiers called your tinned meat “second front”, we needed second front the most!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Tinned meat has to better than boiled potatoes, cabbage and beets.
      There are still Polynesians in the various mid Pacific island nations who consider Spam in the can to be a delicacy compare to what they had to eat before this tinned meat was introduced by the American military. And no one wrote that it was only American and British trucks bringing Russian supplies to the front but they were used and they helped much better than using more horses and carts. Also no one wrote that Western help was key to Russian war effort but again it helped save Russian lives. Another thing that needs to be mentioned is that in late 1943 when President F.D. Roosevelt asked Stalin for permission for damaged B-29 bombers to be able to land on Eastern Soviet airbases the reply was a big nyet because Stalin was afraid that would cause hostilities between the Soviet Union and Japan and a 2nd front that Stalin did not want and here to a certain degree I agree with that except for the fact that most of the Japanese military equipment and trained troops were taken from the border area between Mongolia and Siberia to be used in China or trying to protect their new Empire in the Pacific. Not to mention that there had already been a mini war between the Soviet Union and Japan before WWII was officially started and the Japanese forces lost most of those battles. But it was finally okay for Stalin to declare war against Japan just weeks before Japan was ready to surrender and would be in no position to support and resupply a war effort. Yes, it was important to defeat the Germans first but even small border wars or just the threat of more fighting here would have helped the Americans in their war effort against Japan. And finally the American and British and other western writers and historians were not under the strict type of control of any government. There is something called freedom of the press in the west and any one was free to write their beliefs and points of view in books and newspapers. Yes there was much anti Soviet actions by the American government but no book or newspaper was banned because it might have wrote about supporting Communism. And now we are far off topic because this is really all post WWII political actions which has nothing to do with what help was sent to Russia during the war or if this tank series on tv is enjoyable to watch.

    • Olmer your comment are the true (arrogant and far from truth!!!) I ever see in a pro-soviet, no wonder your books said that your defeats from 1941-1942 were just a strategic retreat…Soviets and many Russian are so pathetic. From 1960-1990’s your books show that the union soviet loss over 27 million lives, them later books start taking off some millions and now were just over 7 million Russians death and Germans almost 6 millions (when Germany from 1936-1945 enlisted only 13.5 millions) and lost over 4 million total on deaths according to all own Germans records plus American/ally and else)

      • Erwin,

        Your basic point is correct. The Balkans insurgency did not begin to heat up until after Barbarossa had failed. Your time line is, however, off. Italy invaded Albania more than a year before Greece, in fact before the War began. No one including Hitler paid much attention. Greece was different. And as you point out it complicated Hitler’s diplomacy. But as Hitler had not consulted with Mussolini on Poland and his other invasions, Mussolini did not consult with Hitler on Greece. But you are wrong that either gave the British the opportunity to attack the Italian Army.

        It was Mussolini who declared war on France and Britain (June 1940) that led to the fighting between Italy and Britain. This was several months before the Italian invasion of Greece. The British did not come to Greece’s assistance until months later when the Germans invaded. The fighting between Britain and Italy was all at Mussolini’s initiative. He ordered the massive Italian Army in Libya to invade Egypt and seize Suez against the advise of his generals. Britain at the time was bracing for a German cross-channel invasion and being pummeled by the Luftwaffe. Few resources were available to fight the Italians. But with the assistance of Empire forces, they not only pulled it off, but routed the Italians and invaded Libya.

  12. Thank you, Burnt, for pointing out the freedom of the press issue in the Western writing for Olmer. If I make take that a bit further for his edification, the Soviet writers did not have the freedom to write other than the approved story line disseminated by Stalin and his cronies. Had they actually set down anything other than the approved party line they would not only have been subjected to immediate censure but also a one-way train ticket to exile in Siberia or – I feel certain in a good number of cases, but of course we will never know for sure because of the secrecy of the Soviet records – execution.

    A question for you, Olmer. With the Nazi’s occupying the great agricutural areas in the Ukraine and Belorussia – the bread baskets of the Soviet Union- how exactly were the Russian people fed. The answer is through massive food supplies in the aid from the West. If it hadn’t been for the massive amounts of wheat, tinned meat and other items there would have been far more deaths during the war for Russia, mainly due to malnutrition and starvation. This would also have reached into the ranks of the Soviet army and weakened their troops and fighting capabilities.

    You mention the IL2 Sturmivik. It cannot be argued that this was one of the finest and most durable aircraft produced during WWII. Yet it was basically a ground attack aircraft, and although it was one of the best for that role it did poorly when used as a fighter against the German Me109 and Bf190. The only true reliable fighter aircraft readily available and relied on mostly by the Russsian air forces during the beginning of the war was the American P-39 Airacobra. A fact for your consideration – it was the preferrred aircraft of Aleksandar Pokryshkin, Russia’s second highest scoring fighter pilot.

    Now, getting back to the point from where this whole discussion started. The T-34 was without question the best tank of WWII. It outclassed, out fought and was infinitely more dependable and easier to keep in action than any class of the German Panzers. The M4 Sherman lags far behind the T34, lacking a high velocity cannon capable of penetrating any armor more than about 2″ (50mm) thick, being ‘thin skinned’ with it’s own armor and so on.

    However, until the Soviets were able to get their factory facilities relocated to the East and begin their large scale production of these tanks, their were relatively few T34’s available to the Soviet Army. I believe there were somewhere around 250 tanks available across the entire Russian front when Hitler launched Barbarossa, and while Leningrad was under seige the armament factory at Kirov was only able to produce 4 tanks per day. So surely the T34 was not as big a factor during that time as it became to be later in the war.

    Until then the Soviets had to make do as best they could with the Sherman’s provided by the West. Granted, it may not have been the best tank for the conditions under which it fought, being mismatched against the Panzers and not really suitable for combat on the wide open Russian terrain with no cover to escape to, but it did provide the Russian’s with some sorely needed armor.

  13. first of all to blaster the territory of the USSR was huge. and even after loss of Ukraine there was enough territory for crops, of course, people had problems and of course they didn’t have such a variety of food like your did, but still they lived and fought and they won. Your supplies were sufficient, but the main role played that factor that it was Great People’s War against the intruders, we both know that all cargoes from the allies came mostly through convoys, through Arctic Ocean. For such a big population of the USSR you just couldn’t bring so much food and tanks and vehicles as you claim here. Your information is exaggerated!!! You’ll say that my info comes from soviet writers, and you will be partially wrong, of course some of it comes, but a very big part of it comes from our veterans, witnesses of those events. They were in different places, fought in different front(for example my grandfather fought in 1st Belorussian front and finished his war in Berlin as captain of infantry, one of my grannies was in Crimea the whole war, my neighbor fought in the Arctic front etc ) but all they say that they didn’t see much of your “huge amounts” of brought here tanks, vehicles and food. They saw some, but not much, and when we speak and spoke(some of them are dead already) about war they all said that they hoped for real help from allies, for second front! And you can tell any numbers that you heard or read somewhere I’ll still believe to people who saw that war in their own eyes, I’ll believe to people who WON that war!!!!!!!

    By the way, if we speak about Il2, it WASN’T built as fighter at all!!! It was attack plane from the beginning, and it did its job perfectly well, germans called it plague. If we speak about our coming to war with Japan I can say the same about your second front in 1944, when it couldn’t change the situations, We broke the spine of germans, and were heading forward, of course we would suffer more loses if not second front, but still the result for germans would be the same and only blind can doubt in that. even more, we had to launch unprepared attack in the whole line of Belorussian and Ukrainian fronts to save you when germans pressed you hard in Ardens!!!!!!

    I’m glad that you at least try to understand that war, unfortunately your views are formed by “unpoliticized” data, and it exaggerates allied help to USSR and minimizes USSR’s role in that war. It seems to me its just an attempt to discharge the fact that allies waited to long and stayed asside from the main events of that war, seeing how the USSR was bleeding alone against the main forces of germans. Ladies and gentlemen I hope that you will keep looking in this direction, but please try not to be so arrogant and be more open minded, because no data from official sources can’t be more trustworthy than fact given by multiple witnesses of those horrible events!!! I wish you all good luck!!!!

    But now you need some time to think about it calm and who knows, may be you change you views. I’m living this site, because I see that that fact that I’m Russian annoys you a little, and our discussion becomes more politicized. And I wanted you to see that war from other side, from the side of people who hoped till that last moment, who fought and bled, who made heroic effort to save the WHOLE Europe from nazis!!! Good bye all, be more wise, because or life an history is not in the electronic data, it is in the graves of soldiers and fields of the greatest battles and memories of the witnesses…

    • As long as Russians keep calling World War Two the “Great Patriotic War” or as the “Great People’s War ” then they are showing a lack of respect and consideration for all others who suffered any where in this war. I am not referring to just the convoys to the USSR but all over the world. Britain had no choice but to fight a war in North Africa because keeping the Suez Canal was critical to the fighting in India/Burma against the Japanese and there were also some supplies going the USSR via Iran after going through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea, then by long overland route to the Russian people fighting in the southeastern front. And “unpoliticized” data as Olmer calls it shows that the western writers were FREE to write about what they saw not what a government or “Political” officer would allow a Russian writer to do. I greatly respect all that the people of the USSR had to suffer through during this war but it was still a WORLD WIDE WAR not just a war against the Russian people. And considering how Stalin expanded the territorial size of the USSR by threat or force during the 1930s I find it very hard to believe that Stalin was fighting this war to liberate all of Europe from the Nazis. If that was his main goal then the Soviets should have allowed all those Eastern European countries their freedom not an occupation by Soviet forces ready to put down any calls or protests for FREEDOM OR A TRUE DEMOCRACY like in Hungary.
      And yes a first person account or story of something they saw or witnessed is very good but that does not make it official; just a personal point of view. And if these were collected by Soviet officials then they were politicalized by a system that was afraid to say, write or do anything that did not fit in with the official point of view. But I would be interested in reading any personal Russian war histories if they were published after 1991 and if they were translated into English. I have to give Olmer some personal credit for being able to read and write English but that does not make him an expert on this war just as I am not an expert.
      But to to back this claim I just watched the other night the Russian movie “Siege of Leningrad” with English subtitles and found this a very compelling movie to watch.

    • It was not until the fall of the Berlin Wall and eventual collapse of the Soviet state were their archives opened and any “buried” information released, and then it was and still is on a limited basis. So most of what has been and is being released is, I believe, still not done before it is carefully screened. One author who has written detailed and highly acclaimed accounts of the war in Russia from a Soviet-centric view, David Glantz, painstakingly researched the available records for his writings and he clearly recounts the role the Allied assistance to the Soviets played in the successes of the Red Army.

      Josef Stalin did not save the whole of Europe form the Nazis. Yes, the Red Army did push the Nazis back to Berlin and take the city without help from the other Allies but that resulted from the other Allies having decided to let the Red Army do so without their pushing toward Berlin from the West. This decision was based on several factors, one of them being their concern for their troops and the great loss of lives they envisioned – it was obvious from the preceeding years of conflict that the Russian Army’s least concern was with the welfare of their troops and the loss of lives so they let the Red Army proceed without their involvement.

      Stalin also was not concerned in freeing Europe. After the Red Army had expelled the Nazi’s from Russia his whole concern in continuing to push them further was so that he could occupy the countries he drove the German’s from so they would fall under his sphere of influence. Take Poland for example. When the Red Army was pushing through Poland the Polish underground was encouraged to rise up against the Nazi’s in Warsaw and they expected, actually begged, the Russain Army for assistance. However, their pleas were ignored because Stalin recognized the Poles wished to reestablish a Democratic government when they were free – something he could not tolerate – so he held back his army and assistance to let the Nazi’s defeat their uprising then resumed his march towards Berlin.

      The courage and heroism of the individual Russian soldiers cannot be denied, nor can the determination of the entire Russian Army and citizens to drive the Germans from Russian soil. They suffered great losses and privations. Yet the losses would have undoubtedly been much greater and the Nazi’s expulsion from Russia would have taken much longer had it not been for the aid they received from the Western Allies, and the courage and heroism on the part of the sailors and soldiers who made sure these supplies got through.

    • Olmer,

      I am glad a Russian reader is participating in this discussion. As is not always recognized by Western authors, it was the Red Army that did the bulk of the fighting and inflicted the bulk of the casualties on the Whermacht. For this the people of the West must be eternally grateful to the men and women of the Red Army.

      You make an error though in downplaying the importance of Lend Lease. You are right that the bulk of war supplies came from Russian factories, but Lend Lease filled in important gaps, such as aluminum needed to build aircraft. . But by far the most important item was trucks. Trucks are unglamorous compared to tanks, but unless an armored division had trucks to carry the infantry and supplies, the tank advances slow. It was American Lend Lease trucks (many Studabakers) that gave the Red Army the mobility after Kursk to rapidy drive West.

      I know that Russians (as Stalin) believed that the Western Allies held back and let the Russians do the fighting. .But surely you must realize that this resulted from the fact that the Soviet Union signed an Alliance with Hitler and for nearly 2 years invaded neighboring countries (Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania) and supplied Hitler with vast quantities of oil and other strategic materials. This allowed Hitler to smash the French Army. The fact that Russia had to fight alone was a matter of its own doing. Without the French, the Americans and British had to face the very difficult task of reentering the Continent.

      It may well be that the valiant Red Army soldiers who fought the War had honorable thoughts of liberating Europe. This was not, however, the motivation of the Soviet Government. The Non-Aggression Pact signed with the NAZIs that made World War II possible cynically partitioned Europe into a Soviet and NAZI empire. And the Soviets in the areas they occupied were every bit as brutal as the NAZIs. The massacres at Katyn by the NKVD was just one small part of Soviet crimes and atrocities in the occupied countries.

      • Dennis Weidner,please read the time line bello as you like to follow facts and said my time line was wrong:Greco-Italian War that lasted from 28 October 1940 to 30 April 1941 and was part of World War II.Not before the war as you claim. Italian forces invaded Greece and made limited gains. But soon the Greeks counter-attacked and the Italians were repulsed and driven back into Albania. The Italians spent much of the winter stabilizing a line which left them in control of only about two-thirds of Albania. A much anticipated Italian offensive in March 1941 failed to make sufficient progress. Then Germany intervened in April and invaded Greece because England had already intervene and take /occupied Crete,lemnos plus starting landing British forces in Greece; after they launch the successful invasion of Yugoslavia. All this delayed for about 3 months the German invasion of Soviet Union. Hitler intervened on 4 November 1940, four days after British troops arrived at Crete and Lemnos. Although Greece was neutral until the Italian invasion, the British troops that were sent as defensive aid created the possibility of a frontier to the German southern flank. The Führer ordered his Army General Staff to attack Northern Greece from bases in Romania and Bulgaria in support of his master plan to deprive the British of Mediterranean bases.[38][21] On 12 November, the German Armed Forces High Command issued Directive No. 18, in which they scheduled simultaneous operations against Gibraltar and Greece for the following January. However, in December 1940, German ambition in the Mediterranean underwent considerable revision when Spain’s General Francisco Franco rejected the Gibraltar attack.[39] Consequently, Germany’s offensive in southern Europe was restricted to the Greek campaign. The Armed Forces High Command issued Directive No. 20 on 13 December 1940, outlining the Greek campaign under the code designation “Operation Marita”. The plan was to occupy the northern coast of the Aegean Sea by March 1941 and to seize the entire Greek mainland, if necessary.[40][21][41] During a hasty meeting of Hitler’s staff after the unexpected 27 March coup d’état against the Yugoslav government, orders for the campaign in Yugoslavia were drafted, as well as changes to the plans for Greece. On 6 April, both Greece and Yugoslavia were to be attacked.[21][42] British expeditionary force[edit]
        Little more than a month later, the British reconsidered. Winston Churchill aspired to recreate a Balkan Front comprising Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey, and instructed Anthony Eden and Sir John Dill to resume negotiations with the Greek government.[50] A meeting attended by Eden and the Greek leadership, including King George II, Prime Minister Alexandros Koryzis—the successor of Metaxas, who had died on 29 January 1941—and Papagos took place in Athens on 22 February, where they decided to send a British Empire expeditionary force.[51] German troops had been massing in Romania and on 1 March, Wehrmacht forces began to move into Bulgaria. At the same time, the Bulgarian Army mobilised and took up positions along the Greek frontier.[50]
        On 2 March, Operation Lustre—the transportation of troops and equipment to Greece—began and 26 troopships arrived at the port of Piraeus.[52][53] On 3 April, during a meeting of British, Yugoslav and Greek military representatives, the Yugoslavs promised to block the Struma valley in case of a German attack across their territory.[54] During this meeting, Papagos stressed the importance of a joint Greco-Yugoslavian offensive against the Italians, as soon as the Germans launched their offensive.f[›] By 12 April more than 62,000 Empire troops (British, Australians, New Zealanders, Palestinians and Cypriots), had arrived in Greece, comprising the 6th Australian Division, the New Zealand 2nd Division and the British 1st Armoured Brigade.[55] The three formations later became known as ‘W’ Force, after their commander, Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson.g[›] Air Commodore Sir John D’Albiac commanded British air forces in Greece.[56]
        Operation Lustre was an action during World War II: the movement of British and other Allied troops (Australian, New Zealand and Polish) from Egypt to Greece in March and April 1941, in response to the failed Italian invasion and the looming threat of German intervention.
        British leaders, especially Churchill, thought it was politically unacceptable not to support an ally under threat. Greece had defeated the Italian invasion and was therefore Britain’s only effective ally in Europe. In addition, use of Greek airfields would put the Romanian oilfields at PloieÅŸti, vital to Germany’s war effort, within reach of Allied bombers. General Archibald Wavell, Allied commander in the Middle East, was told in January 1941 that support for Greece must take precedence over all operations in North Africa and this order was reinforced in February.
        Wavell’s attitude is unclear. It had been generally believed that he was pushed into the Greek campaign, but recent writers believe that Wavell approved of it. British commanders concluded that with British help, the Greek Army could hold the Germans at the Aliakmon Line. They knew German forces were being sent to Libya, but thought these forces would be ineffectual until the summer. Both assessments were wrong. It is now accepted the transfer of Allied forces to Greece had no chance of preventing swift German victory, and that it weakened British forces in North Africa, leading to the success of Rommel’s counterattack in April, and the failure of the British Operation Brevity offensive in May.
        From 6 March, convoys moved from Alexandria to Piraeus at regular 3-day intervals, escorted by warships of the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy. Although there were air attacks, these had little effect. The major attempt by the Italian Navy to interrupt the convoys was thwarted in the Battle of Cape Matapan. About 58,000 men and their equipment were moved to Greece by 2 April before german inasion. These comprised the British 1st Armoured Brigade, the New Zealand Division and the 6th Australian Division, followed by the 7th Australian Division and the Polish Brigade.
        TwoBritish infantry and two armored divisions were in place on the Aliakmon Line, south-west of Thessaloniki (Salonica), before the Axis (German, Italian and Bulgarian) invasion (Operation Marita) on 6 April. The Greek Army did not retire, however, to the Aliakmon Line as expected and the Allied troops were thereby vulnerable. These forces had little effect on the German invasion and they were evacuated (Operation Demon) on and after 24 April

        Battle of Greece [edit]
        Hitler began planning to invade Greece in November 1940, after the British occupied Crete and Lemnos. He ordered the German Invasion of Greece — code-named Unternehmen Marita (Operation Marita) by Germany — on 13 December 1940 for execution in March 1941. The stated aim of the operation was to prevent the British from getting air bases within striking range of the Romanian oilfields.[1] On 6 April 1941, the German Army invaded northern Greece, while other elements launched an attack against Yugoslavia. Breaking through the Yugoslav lines in southern Yugoslavia allowed Germany to send reinforcements to the battlefields of northern Greece. The German army out-flanked the Greek Metaxas Line fortifications and, despite the assistance provided by a British expeditionary corps, set out to capture the southern Greek cities. The Battle of Greece ended with the German entry into Athens and the capture of the Peloponnese, although about 40,000 Allied soldiers were evacuated to Crete, prompting one of the largest airborne attacks in the history of warfare: Operation Merkur, or the Battle of Crete.
        Invasion of Yugoslavia[edit]
        The invasion of Yugoslavia (also known as “Operation 25”) began on 6 April 1941 and ended with the unconditional surrender of the Royal Yugoslav Army on 17 April. The invading Axis powers (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Hungary, and Bulgaria) occupied and dismembered the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. By cobbling together Bosnia and Herzegovina, some parts of Croatia, and Syrmia, the “Independent State of Croatia” (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH) was created by Germany and Italy. In some of the territory of the former Kingdom of Serbia and the Banat, the German-occupied Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia, the Germans appointed a puppet government, the Government of National Salvation led by Milan Nedić. Montenegro remained under Italian occupation.

  14. I think the graphics are great and theyve got the real champions of the day describing what happened.

    But honestly after watching the last few episodes it seems like the WWII germans were getting their butts kicked left and right all over the place. I understand this is airing mostly in allied countries but still if you see this show you might think those big tiger and panther tanks were always deployed incorrectly and led by a bunch of knuckleheads with no battle experiance.

    Where are the great german tank aces? Is history being written by the victor?

    • I don’t really think history is trying to be re-written or that they are under-stating the role and strength of the Panther and Tiger tanks.

      They have repeatedly shown and stated how the allied Sherman and Centurion were totally outclassed by these brutes of tanks and did not stand a chance in any head on confrontation. They have also given due credit to the Panzer aces, how Rommel initially walked over the British before his forces and supplies became depleted as well as the triumph of Michael Wittman at Villers Bocage.

      I think they make it a point to show that the German tanks were properly deployed and had effectual leadership but what German armor did remain after their large number of losses on the Eastern Front was overwhelmed by the great numbers of Allied tanks. They also show that it was only after the Allies had suffered a horrendous number of losses that they finally figured out the best way to combat these behemoths was to attack them in numbers and at the weaker points along the sides and rear.

      • I agree with blaster2239 that the producers are trying to show these combats as fairly as possible but yes history is usually written by the victors but since that is expected I just try to turn a blind eye to some things left out or any small inaccuracies just because I still say that the best part about this series is the computer graphics that are so much more accurate and detailed then seeing the same combat footage over and over again for different real combat situations. As if in the older war series those of us who are military fans would not see the reusing of the same scenes. This is not the only new war series to use computer graphics to enhance the history and I for one am enjoying every minute of all these new shows.

  15. When watching Wednesday’s part 1 of the Battle of Kursk I thought I heard or saw a couple of inaccuracies but maybe it could have been that I wasn’t watching or listening as close as a should have. Then again, maybe I did see and hear what I thought I did and what I thought were inaccuracies might well have been factual and I hadn’t properly understood or maybe misconstured some things I had read in my past readings.

    Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed the program and am not going to let myself become concerned one way or the other. The CGI of the battle were outstanding and I loved the portions presented from an overhead view, it gave me a perspective I hadn’t considered in my ‘minds-eye’ before at the point when the two armies had merged into the close head-to-head and one-to-one combat.

  16. There is a lot of useful information and some inaccuracies in this interesting discussion.

    The Russian contributors are correct that the Soviet Union paid the largest price and made the greatest contribution to defeating the Wehrmacht. Something like 90 percent of the German casualties were suffered in the East. It is difficult to see how the Western Allies could have reentered the Continent unless the Red Army had significantly wore down the Wehrmacht.

    But the Russian contributors as usual write as if the War began in 1941. It of course did not. And from September 1939 to 1941, the Soviet Union was a NAZI ally and conducted a series of aggressions as brutal as the NAZIs. The reason the Soviet Union had to face the Wehrmacht alone for 2 years was that it allowed Hitler to focus on and defeat France in 1940. Stalin assumed that the French and British would stop the Germans and the conflict weaken all three. This is one reason why the Russians like to refer to the Great Patriotic War. It leaves out the embarrassing 1939-41 alliance with Hitler.

    The discussion mentions the various ways the Western Allies helped the Soviets, including the all important American trucks. Incidentally the Iranian route was much more important than the Arctic route. One very important American action not mentioned was confronting the Japanese in the Pacific. It was one of the primary reasons (in addition to the undeclared Soviet-Japanese war in Manchuria) that explains why the Strike South faction prevailed in Tokyo, allowing the Soviets to transfer troops from Siberia to the defense of Moscow.

    The question of Soviet cooperation with the western Allies is more complicated, but in fairness to the Soviets, Bagration was timed to prevent Hitler shifting forces from the Eastern front to reduce the Normandy bridgehead.


    • Dennis your explanation of why most Russians called WWII “The Great Patriotic War” is right on. When it comes to propaganda info it is always best to leave out what does not fit into your agenda. And thanks for backing me up with mentioning how important those supply routes from Iran were to the Russian war effort. And yes while these routes faced less German or Japanese attacks while at sea these routes were much longer and used up more resources to get this help to the USSR and the worst of this was that Stalin was still more afraid of having Western forces anywhere in his Southern field of influence then worrying about the supplies needed or received.
      By 1943 Stalin was becoming just as concerned of post war borders as he was of defeating the Nazis.
      But so was Churchill who much more so then F.D.R. was worried about Soviet expansion ideas for after the war because he was more of a historian then F.D.R. and saw first hand what Stalin did starting in the late 1920s and through the 1930s to use his forces or threats to gain territory.
      So it can be written that Stalin and Churchill were playing a game of politics throughout the war while F.D.R. only saw Stalin as an ally against the Nazis. If you read the book “Bodyguard Of Lies” it explains how and why Chuchill refused to share all his knowledge from Ultra with America because he feared that the Americans would devulge too much to the Soviets because they were only Allies and not political oppenents. The cold war was already happening in Churchill’s mind way before it became a reality to America.

      • I think you are probably correct that FDR was lest aware of Stalin’s character than Churchill, although the criticism of Yalta are overblown. What we could do in Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe was limited by Soviet power. I think you are correct that FDR’s focus was more intently on the NAZIs. Like many Americans he seems unaware of the extent of Stalin’s horrors.

        I disagree about Churchill and Ultra. Churchill was primarily concerned with bringing America into the War and after Pearl Harbor the Ultra secret was shared with the Americans fairly quickly. There were concerns about this, but more at a level than Churchill. Churchill even wanted Ultra intelligence (but not the Ultra secret) forwarded to Stalin, but encountered resistance because this might reveal the Ultra secret. The British had good reason to be concerned about the Americans, By the time of Midway it was well known throughout the Navy that JN-25 was being penetrated. Which is why the Chicago Tribune and other American newspapers ran stories making it clear that we had secret information on Japanese fleet movements.

        Such disagreements should nor obscure the overwhelming degree of cooperation between American and British codebreakers. In fact the greatest dissension in the code breaking community was between Washington and MacArthur in Australia, Many of the advances involved cooperation, this included both the breaking of JN-25 and the Japanese Army codes.

  17. Yes you are right that the Ultra secret was quickly introduced to the Americans and as you wrote it was done with great concerns because of active Soviet agents in America. But until the creation of the OSS by the Americans only a very few American high ranking officers new anything about this and the OSS was working with Ultra info only after D-Day as quoted in the book “Bodyguard Of Lies”.

    • Sorry, I found a typo. I meant to wrire 1941 when the Brirish began sharing their Ultra operation with the Americans.


      Yes and no. You are in part correct about the OSS. But this is because the American Magic/Ultra operation was conducted by the U.S. military and not the OSS. Donovan wanted his own code breaking operation, but that was shut down by General Marshall. And the OSS was denied access to the raw UIltra decrypts. The British were on better relations with Donovan and the OSS and allowed them to open a small office at Bletchy Park, something that was not allowed at Arlington Hall and the Navy Annex.

      The cooperation between Bletchly Hall/the British code breakers in Asia began much earlier. The British code breakers in Asia cooperated closely with Station Hypo at Pearl Harbor in breaking JN-25. A formal agreement to cooperate was signed (November 1940). And the British shared the Ultra secret early in1941 to a visiting American mission. From that point on it was a joint undertaking as soon as the Americans came up to speed. The cracking of the Japanese Army codes, for example was a joint undertaking of the Central Bureau/Arlington Hall , and Bletchly Park.

    • I bow to your superior knowledge of this topic. Thanks for the info. Check out my blog if you want at militaryhistoryofthe20thcentury

  18. There are many excellent accounts of World War cryptology. Perhaps the most surprising aspect is how the Germans and Japanese never worked out that their codes were broken.

    The one area that is still not addressed is Soviet code breaking efforts. I am not sure why that is. I think perhaps the Russians are still reluctant to open up archives. Perhaps the Russian readers here can tell us more.

    I had a look at your interesting blog. All kinds of fascinating images.

    To return to the topic of tanks here. I have two questions:

    1. The French were producing some good tanks and had quite a number. Do you know if the Germans made use of these tanks? And did the Germans make use of the French manufacturing plants to produce tanks during the occupation.

    2. Do you have any idea why the United States failed to produce a more effective tank than the M-4 Sherman?

    • Thanks for checking out my blog and I hope you visit more often. As for the Germans and Japanese never realizing their codes were broken probably comes from their belief in their superiority over other nationalities. About French tanks; I once read but can not remember where, that some French tanks that had been captured were used by Axis forces working for Nazis but as far as I know the only non German made tanks used by the Panzer outfits were made by the Skoda companies in the German occupied Czechoslovakia and the irony here is that the French had a tank that was superior to the German Mk IIIs that made up the majority of the Panzer Corps during the Battle of France but the French were stuck on fighting WWII like a continuation of WWI and wasted their tank forces. Only General Charles de Gaulle used his armor in attacks on the German flanks and supply columns but never got the support from the higher ups in the French Army and his attacks just used up most of the French tanks. I never read anywhere about the Germans using the French tank factories. And about the American M4 Sherman; from the start of the American involvement in WWII the Army considered the tank to be only used as support for troops not for tank battles. Only after realizing that it would take 3 or 4 Shermans destroyed to get one Panther or Tiger did they finally start to make the M26 Pershing with a 90mm gun but it was so late that it only saw limited fighting before the war was over.

      • Ironically, Hitler thought that it would be the vast resources of the East, that would give Germany the resources to fuel the German war economy and make the Reich’s new continental empire impregnable. . As it turned out, Stalin as a NAZI ally was supplying more vital material before the Barbarossa invasion than Hitler was ever able to obtain after the invasion. The resources of the East barely covered the needs of the invading Wehrrmacht units deployed there. France was very different. The NAZI exploitation of the French economy was mainstay of the German war economy. It is no accident that the German war economy began to collapse only after the liberation of France. Less clear to me is to what extent the Germans used the substantial French arms industry. The tanks are just one example. The French also made planes, ships, artillery, and small arms and ammunition. I have, however, been able to find very little information about German utilization of these plants during the occupation.

  19. As a response to your comment about the rest of the French military equipment and plants during the occupation. Firstly we know what happened to a major part of the French fleet by the British and I would imagine that much of these French military plants were bombed by the British and then the Americans. Not all bomber raids were to targets in Germany. Also most of the French airforce was destroyed by the Germans at the start of the Battle of France and airplane plants might have been bombed by the Germans during the invasion.
    But this quest of yours has piqued my interest and I will try to research this topic myself. If I find anything I will post it here and probably on my blog.

    • A quick search brought up a few interesting items about this.
      First from Wikipedia if you believe them to be right about this there is this item about French tanks.
      “After the defeat of France captured Char B1 (bis) would be used by Germany, with some rebuilt as flamethrowers or mechanised artillery.”
      Also from Wikipedia is this item about small arms.
      “The MAB D was used by the French Army and military police before and after World War II. After German forces occupied France, the MAB D was adopted for use by the Wehrmacht (German army) during World War II; these pistols typically have German acceptance marks stamped into the metal.”
      And from the website there is an item;

      The following intelligence report on German conversions of captured French tanks and armored cars was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 9, Oct. 8, 1942.

      At the time of the collapse of France, the equipment of the French Army was on the whole of excellent quality and type, and the factories of her industrial areas were keyed to wartime production. New prototypes were being evolved, and considerable research work was in progress. It was therefore reasonable to expect not only that large quantities of captured war material would come into general use in the Axis armies, but that the Germans would endeavor to swing the whole industrial resources of occupied France into the manufacture of advanced French designs, in addition to normal German equipment, for use by the Axis.

      By February 1941, it was already clear that this was the case. The National Socialist Motor Corps was training drivers and mechanics for German’s mechanized units on large number of Chenillette tracked carriers. These vehicles are very small tractors. They tow a tracked trailer in which an 81-mm mortar or a light antitank weapon can be carried. Being armored, they could be used in a role very similar to that of the Bren carrier, or as a tractor for antitank or infantry guns. In addition, it became known that French tanks were being sent to Germany; that damaged French tanks were being repaired for the same destination; and that manufacture of French types was continuing on a large scale in Occupied France.

      In June 1941, there was a report that about 400 French R35 tanks in Germany were having the turret removed and replaced by an open-roofed armored box shield, in which were mounted a Czech 47-mm antitank gun and a coaxial machine gun. This arrangement was supposed to give a traverse of 50 degrees. The thickness of the shield was said to be 25 mm in front, 20 mm at the sides, and 15 mm in the rear. This report coincided with evidence of a somewhat similar alteration in the German Mark I tank.

      The increasing tendency of the Germans to mount heavier guns in tank chassis extended, according to a report of July 1941, to the French 31-ton “Char B”, which the Germans were said to have adapted by fitting a 450-horsepower engine and by mounting the very effective German 88-mm multipurpose gun. About the same time, according to a highly placed Axis industrialist, France had produced her five-thousandth tank for the Reichswehr.

      Early in the Russian campaign, French R35 tanks were identified from a photograph in a German newspaper as forming part of the German forces. This identification was later confirmed by a report that French tanks were being used in considerable numbers. The only unit definitely identified, however, as being equipped with a proportion of R35 tanks is the 10th Reserve Tank Battalion, which uses them for training only.

      It is also confirmed that large numbers of French tanks have been handed over to Italy, including the R35 and the obsolete FT type. The 2d Tank Battalion Renault R35 has been identified with the 4th Tank Regiment at Rome. There is also a battalion “Somua” with the 4th Tank Regiment at Rome, and it is known that the Somua S35 is being used by the Germans. A new version of the S35 known as the Char S40 was to have been made with a more powerful engine and a better suspension. Another Somua type is the SAu4O, which mounted a long barreled 75-mm gun in the hull. Since the S.O.M.U.A. (Societe d’ Ouillage Mecanique et d’ Usinage d’ Artillerie) factory in Paris is making tanks for the enemy, these types may possibly be in production.

      Included in the general designation “R35” may be found an improved type with a better suspension, a more powerful Hotchkiss engine, and a slightly different silhouette.

      It seems probable that French armored cars also are being used by the Germans. The first report came from a German prisoner, who described French armored cars with armament “just like a German Mark II Tank”. The French Panhard 178 AMD 35 armored car is an 8-ton 4-wheeled type with 18-mm front and side armor and mounting one 25-mm quick-firing gun and one machine-gun. Recent evidence indicates that this car may be in course of adoption by the German armored division. Its speed of 50 miles an hour makes this type a very efficient vehicle for its intended purpose.

  20. Yes the disposition of the French fleet is fairly well documented.

    The French air force is a different matter. I am not at all sure the Germans destroyed most of it. There were important elements in southern France. The French dispersed it so that it would not be destroyed in a German attack and as a result was not an effective factor when the Germans struck in the Ardennes. But I am more interested in the extent to which the Germans used or attempted to use the plants during the occupation.

    You are absolutely correct that the British first and then the Americans targeted French sites. However the Germans occupied France (June 1940) and had fairly good control of the air over France throughout 1941 and even into 1942. Only in 1943 when the 8th Air Force was fully operational and Luftwaffe units were withdrawn for the defense of the Reich were the Allies able to beginning hitting French targets in force. Remember that the British bombed targets at night because of the vulnerability of the bombers. When hitting targets in the Reich, it was acceptable to hammer whole cities. This was not done in France. There the British actually tried to hit specific targets and did not hammer whole cities–with the exception of the port cities supporting U-boat operations. To hit specific targets like defense plants, required daylight raids. Thus beyond coastal raids the British attacks were relatively limited until 1943. As a result, the Germans had a couple of years to try to use the French plants before the Allies began heavily targeting them.

    As to the German bombing. The Luftwaffe was a tactical air force as became all too obvious during the Battle of Britain. The Luftwaffe was primarily involved in ground support operations during the battle of France. As far as I know there was no significant effort to bomb French defense plants. It would have been pointless, because after the first week of the German offensive, they broke through in the Ardennes and it very quickly became clear that France was mortally wounded.

  21. Thanks,

    Very interesting information.

    It seems to correlate with the German’s major problem in Russia. The Wehrmacht was not fully mechanized. It relied on large numbers of horses for both logistics and artillery transport.. Motorized guns were thus an obvious fix. I know from other sources that the Germans also used French truck factories.

    It seems as I read this that French weapons development seems to have ceased. The Germans simply attempted to use the systems being manufactured at the time they invaded. Another interesting question is what happened to the technicians and scientists who were working on weapons developments.

    The other theme here is that the tanks were given to the Italians and other Axis allies which would mean primarily the Romanians and Hungarians. I don’t recall reading about the Italians using French tanks in the Western Desert, so this presumably occurred in the Soviet Union. This is something to look out for in the literature of the campaign in the East. As I read your message. The production of tanks ceased as the Germans used them for other purposes. So what was given the Axis allies was the tanks already built, not any new production.

    Of course as Allied air power grew, these plants were very vulnerable. The Germans gradually withdrew the Luftwaffe back to defend the Reich. Thus by late-1942 French arms plants were targeted. The American 8th Air Force began hitting French targets before conducting raids into the Reich.

    Thanks for digging up this interesting information.

    • I just found this website for Romanian Army in WWII and most of their armor were German made, some from the Czechs and some captured older Soviet tanks.
      But parts for some armor were ordered directly from French factories during the war.
      “In November 1943 the preparation for mass production started. 1000 Hotchkiss engines were ordered from France while other components still not made in Romania were requested from Germany. The new vehicle immediately attracted the German attention and in December 1943 Antonescu presented to Hitler the project and the blueprints of M-04 prototype. Those inspired the German development of the Hetzer tank-destroyer that assumed the mounting of a 75mm gun on the Czech LT vz.38 tank’s chassis.”
      In fact as I read here there some cases where the Romanians were already getting equipment from France before the war but
      “Between the second half of 1939 and the first months of 1941, 126 Malaxa tip UE carriers have been built at Malaxa (Rogifer) factory in Bucharest, out of a planned number of 300. The carrier was a licensed version of Renault Chenillette d’Infanterie Type UE, and it was intended for towing the Schneider anti-tank guns in the anti-tank companies and for carrying the fuel and ammunition of the motorised cavalry regiments. After the invasion of France the production could not be resumed as it depended on Renault imports.”
      About Hungary I will have to do more research unless you do it.

      • The Romanian information is interesting. Of course the Germans, unlike the Americans, did not have the industrial capacity to fully equip their Axis allies. Nor was Hitler all that keen to do so as it would have made them more difficult to control. This led go disaster at Stalingrad because the lightly armored Romanians were guarding the German flanks and it was here the Soviets struck.

        It is understandable that the Romanians wanted tank destroyers as by late 1943 they were beginning to brace for a Soviet invasion. They made have ordered French engines, but I doubt by this time very many were actually delivered. The Allies at this point controlled the air over France and was hitting the French war plants. I wonder how many were built.

      • Here is some information about the Hungarians:

        The Turán was the tank the Hungarians deployed in World War I. It was based on the Czech Škoda T-21 medium tank. The Turán was made in two variants, the Turan I and II. Production totaled 424 tanks, a very minor contribution to the tank battles on the Eastern Front. The Germans did not have the industrial capacity to supply the Hungarians with any number of modern tanks. The Soviet winter counter-offensive launched before Moscow badly damaged the Wehrmacht (winter 1941-42). There were huge losses of men and material. The Germans were hard pressed to replace the tanks and other equipment lost by German units. The Hungarians had not been important participants in Barbarossa (1941). After the failure of Barbarossa, Hitler pressured the Hungarians to make a substantial
        contribution in 1942. The Hungarians suffered heavily in the fighting around Stalingrad. The Turan I had a 40 mm gun, hopelssly obsolete against the Soviet T-34. The Hungarian answer was the Turan II which had heavier armor and a 75 mm gun. The Turan was employed by the Hungarian 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions, as well as the 1st Cavalry Division (1943-44). Even the upgraded Turans were not effective as their 75-mm gun was not a high-velocity weapon.
        The Turan II went into action in Galicia (April 1944). The 2nd Armored lost a quarter of their tanks and was forced to withdraw. The Hungarians could not only match the numbers of Soviet tanks, but the relatively light Turans were no match for the T-34s.

  22. One of the most intriguing item here is this statement:

    “About the same time [July 1941], according to a highly placed Axis industrialist, France had produced her five-thousandth tank for the Reichswehr.”

    This strikes me as a very high estimate, but if French tank production was even a fraction of this estimate, it clearly made a very important contribution to the German war effort.

    • It also could have been nothing more then a propaganda boast. Look at the timing. About one month after Germany invaded Russia and as warning to Britain about the strength of the German Army to make sure they do not try any thing to divert German resources from the invasion and finally to help the American Isolationists who were looking for any reason to scare or keep American opinion to not getting involved in a European war. I would only believe a statement like that if some one had a written copy of the production numbers from the factory.

  23. Absolutely. An ‘Axis industrialist’ is clearly not a source that can be relied on without confirmation. There must be some records on French production somewhere.

    There is a wealth of photography on the Eastern Front. You have many images on your blog. I do not see many French tanks, but as the Germans apparently often only used the French chassis, they are hard to spot.

    Any way we now have some information to begin with. Any finding some French production data is clearly an important aspect of the story of the tank battles in the East.

    • Yes I have many photos of the Eastern Front and even more to post to militaryhistoryofthe20thcentury blog that I have received from a Russian fan of my blog. Many of the photos were taken by the Germans, not the Soviets and the photos or cameras were found on the battlefield or taken from German prisoners. He has also sent me numerous text files of war info/data that might shed some light on this but there is so much that he has sent me I just do not have the time to read it all.
      And much of it is in Russian or German and since I can not read those languages I will have to use an online translator to go through everything line by line.
      But back to the main point; you might try sending out requests to various French sources, both government and media to see if they have any info about French production for the Germans. One of three things will happen. No response at all or a refusal claiming the info is still secret or you might hit the mother load of info but of course then you will have to find a way of reading all that in French.
      If I ever come across any info I will post it here but for now good luck with your quest.

  24. Thanks,

    As you probably know, our European friends do not like to discuss certain subjects. The Germans don’t like to discuss the NAZIs, the Russians don’t like to discuss their 2-year alliance with Hitler, and the French don’t like to discuss Vichy and collaboration with the NAZIs. At least thanks to your help, we know much more than we did earlier. With all your images and not any confirmed French tank finds yet, it suggests to me the French contribution was limited, but that is a subject that as you say needs to be confirmed,.

    • I put out this question of yours at the forum for this site and I got some great replies including a PDF document explaining the types of equipment captured and their use by the Germans.
      Here is the link for the PDF doc.
      You will enjoy this.

      The only thing left to research is the German use of any captured aircraft.

      • I just checked the link and some times it does not work but copy and paste it into your Google search engine box and the PDF doc. should be on the top of the Google search results page.
        It worked once and I was able to save it.

      • Great information. Thanks for sending this along. The text is a little difficult to follow, but it certainly is jam-packed with information.

        Although the subject is not addressed in the text, the impression I get from reading this is that tank production in French factories was not continued on a large scale during the occupation. Of course trucks were a different matter.

        Do you know who wrote this?

      • For Dennis Weidner
        If you looked at this till the last page you would have found this bit of info concerning the PDF doc.
        Sources :
        “The Panzers and the Battle of Normandy” (Georges Bernage)
        “Normandy 1944 : German Military Organisation, Combat Power & Organizational Effectiveness” (Niklas Zetterling)
        “L’automobile sous l’uniforme” (François Vauvillier)
        “Captured French Tanks under the German Flag” by Werner Regenberg and Horst Scheibert (Schiffer)
        “Captured Armored Cars and Vehicles in Wehrmacht Service in World War II” by Werner Regenberg (Schiffer)
        “Captured Weapons and Equipment of the German Wehrmacht 1938-1945″ by Wolfgang Fleischer (Schiffer)
        ” Beute-Kraftfahrzeuge und -Panzer der deutschen Wehrmacht” by Walter J. Spielberger (Motorbuch Verlag)
        “Trackstory n°1 : Somua S35”
        “Trackstory n°2 : Panhard 178”
        “Batailles & Blindés” magazine

        David Lehmann –

        By his email address he lives in France but if he wrote this then he knows English so try emailing him to see if he has any more info for you. This about as much as I can help you so good luck with your quest.
        There are also the books used as sources but some of them might be in German.
        Hope that you will still visit the blog sometimes.

      • Thanks,

        I have a slow internet connection and thought that it was done downloading. Thanks for the alert and info.

        What is your eMail. I think we have added enough to this comments section. Perhaps we can discuss this further privately. I am a bit of a Luddite and couldn’t figure out how to send you a message from your Blog.

        My eMail is: appweid@erols.vom


      • I tried to send you an email address but this happened instead.
        : Host or domain name not found. Name service error for
        name=erols.vom type=A: Host not found
        I will not openly publish my email address for my blogging but there are ways of finding it.
        Leave a comment with my latest posting on my blog and ask to keep it private so I will not publish the comment.
        Send me a different email address if you want to still trade WWII info.
        Good luck,

      • Hi,

        Sorry, another typo, I typed vom rather than com.

        My eMail is:

        Incidentally, I tried to contact the French fellow who compiled the information on how the Germans used the French tanks. Unfortunately the eMail in the article no longer works. I thought he might know what happened at the tank factories during the occupation.

  25. I like the show but the director doesn’t understand tank warfare. He continually shows tanks deployed in block formation; something like 10 tanks wide, and 10 tanks deep. and the tanks in the back rows are firing, somehow missing all the tanks stacked in front. It’s hard to watch this without snickering. Russians may have deployed tanks like this on parade, but on the battlefield, generally you try not to have friendlies in front of your gun tube. And I realize it’s a technical problem, but they never show human bodies. There are no tank commanders sticking their heads out of the turrets- the only realistic way to fight for tank-on-tank warfare (button up for artillery mainly.)