Top Ten Tank Battles

Though not directly related to military anime or just WWII tank battles I thought this was appropriate

Epic Tank Battles



6 thoughts on “Top Ten Tank Battles

  1. Interesting post, Bear. These Top 10 Lists are fun to read.

    Like #1 is any surprise. The Eastern Front had a lot of tank battles with Kursk featuring some of the biggest in history.

    Don’t have time to do the all required research, but it feels like there are at least one or two WWII tank battles left out. Perhaps, the list was trying to avoid being too WWII centric. I guess tank battles during the Battle of the Bulge were too small and sporadic to qualify.

    Stats on Goodwood are surprising. 3:1 odds in his favor and Monty still loses…especially after that massive carpet bombing!? Quintessential example of why use combined arms is a requirement, not an option. I think it was in Ambrose’s Citizen Soldiers where I read commentary by a German officer who presided over an AT unit (88mm battery) hidden among a group of trees (orchard?) during the battle.

    His comment was that after surviving the initial bombardment, his AT unit saw a column of British tanks moving single file down a road below their vantage point. Per SOP, the Germans disabled the lead tank, then the last tank in the line. With the remaining tanks trapped in position, they simply worked up and down the line until all the tanks were destroyed. He expressly stated that had infantry been present, they could have easily overrun his AT unit because the Germans had no other forces nearby. The Goodwood might have succeeded if not for bad planning by Monty. He failed to use combined arms tactics, and by mid-1944, he should have known better.

    I do not agree with the author’s comment on Goodwood: “The force of the attack, although by no means conclusive, confirmed the Germans’ fears that the British and Canadian forces on the eastern side of the Allied battle zone were their most dangerous enemies.” Seems to me that the “most dangerous enemies” for the Germans on the Allies side were the ones who ultimately broke free of German defensive lines. >_> No doubt British and Canadian forces at Caen greatly aided Operation Cobra and the breakout at St. Lo, but IMO the American sector was just as “dangerous” to German defenders if not more so given what followed with Patton’s 3rd Army.

    • Massive carpet bombing is right. The book “Tank Tactics” gives it as 1056 Halifax and Lancasters, 570 Liberators and 318 mediums in the bombing. It was so heavy that “70% of the German POWs couldn’t be interrogated 24 hours after the attack because they couldn’t hear”. The Brits still lost over 500 tanks.

  2. Hello.
    I appreciate this link, because this Top 10 lists, like daikama said, can be quite insightful.

    However, I must say that I was displeased with the author’s predictable but not justifiable portrayal of the Second Battle of El Alamein as a struggle of the Commonwealth troops against the German ones.
    On this topic, I would like to remember the author (because I’m not criticizing you, of course) that a lot of the Axis tanks and AFVs were Italian and not German: either L6 light tanks, M13 or M14 medium tanks, Semoventi da 75/18 SPGs and command tanks. While most were useless against the Allied medium tanks (M3s and M4s), they still managed to put up a fight, and to exact a not indifferent price on their opponents; this was particularly true for the Semoventi (which could be a match for the above mentioned medium tanks), but in some instances even for the M tanks (at very close ranges or from the side, their 47 mm gun could still be effective, as was the similar gun employed by the Japanese Army).

    This being said, the author could have avoided all of this by simply using “Axis” instead of “Germans”. But I guess it’s too much to ask, if so many people still refuse to even consider that Italian troops or equipment could have some military value on the field.

    • Glad you liked it. Your point about Axis vs Germans is well taken. Possibly it’s because of Rommel’s reputation it is thought of as a German campaign when most of his troops were Italian from the start. Somewhat like saying D-Day was a British invasion because Montgomery was in charge. Using “British” on the other side is almost as misleading since they were “Commonweath” or “British Commonwealth” troops. R.W. Thomson’s book Churchill and the Montgomery Myth gives the superiority of the British at 6 to 1 in effective tanks, 8 to 1 in troops over the Germans and 3 to 1 over the Germans and Italians combined (note the large number of Italian troops). Add to this a lack of equipment, reserves, petrol, and reinforcements as well as heavy bombardment by air and artillery with no effective reply. Still, they inflicted heavy casualties and fought four British attacks to a standstill.

    • @Italianguy88: Well, I for one would not say that the Italian tanks and troops were meaningless. In terms of hardware, even with “just” APC type rounds, those Semovente 75/18 TDs and M13/M14 tanks could prove deadly from the side/rear at 500m or so (maybe more) against M3 Lee’s & M4 Shermans as you note. Add HEAT rounds for those Semovente 75/18’s and they can take out any Allied tank on the field from any direction.

      Bear’s reply covers a lot of it. Look at the Allied numerical advantage when you add in Italian troops and tanks – it’s cut in half! Even so, Monty still had the “requisite” 3:1 numerical advantage in addition to benefiting from serious supply/logistic concerns on the Axis side. On paper, Monty should have won, and while he did so, it was a hard fought victory.

      I think the problem with some North African campaign commentary is that it gets romanticized (if that’s the right word) into a Monty vs. Rommel “duel” – as if the two were the only one’s fighting. You make a good point about the lack of acknowledgement regarding Italian forces the same as Bear makes a very valid point IMO about the use of “British” vs. the correct “Commonwealth” description.

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