its impact on Main Battle Tank fabrication
(2014)" movie, has already became a new cult masterpiece. A
grizzled tank commander makes tough decisions as he and his crew
fight their way across Germany in April, 1945 (IMDB). Movie
contains scenes difficult to watch.
It is not
for everyone, since the brutality of war is very difficult to watch.
Battle tank manufacturing is within mechanical engineering
is the highest point of mechanical engineering as the excellence of
science of art.
must keep the driver and the crew safe at all times. Tank should be
the leading deterrent of attack power. You should be able to drive
on off-road terrain at least 50-60 km an hour. You should be able to
identify the enemy quickly, aim/ shoot/ hit the enemy while your tank
is in motion. You should produce that capacity all within 5-6 million
US dollar budget per tank in today's prices.
are not easy tasks, but we have to fulfill that capacity in order to
survive in our geography.
major character in US production "Fury" (rage) movie film
was the Sherman tank, which was nick-named by the soldiers in time of
war as "death trap", when hit, burning quickly, and killing
the crews inside by fire.
In order to kill a
German Tiger tank, at least 4-5 Sherman were spared.
to death was the fate of tank crew in WW2. It was sad story of
American soldiers entering into the tank by accepting the death by
burning from the start.
fact, the choice of Sherman tanks by American generals at the start
of WW2 was a wrong decision. Anyhow wrong or correct, the decision
was taken, and Sherman tanks were manufactured in 5-different USA
plants in war almost 50,000 units. It had initially 400 hp petrol
firing rear engine, easy to get burned when hit. Due to these
dissatisfaction, production is stopped right after the war, the rest
were sent to other countries.
must learn the story of the legendary T-34 tanks of our northern
suspensions, and walking pallets were copied from American "Walter
Christie" design. Sample Caterpillar tractors were secretly
exported to Russia in the 1930s.
Tank transmissions were copied
from American tractor undercarriage.
engine was at the rear, it was water cooled, diesel fuel firing, BMW
of German design. T-34 tank had easy maintenance easy repair, with no
major operation problems.
had easy maneuver capability in field rides. Cold start of the engine
was excellent but transmission was disaster. Their inclined armor
were covered with special alloy for protection.
were bouncing on inclined armor and bullets did not work.
Two spare fuel tanks externally mounted on tank body rear,
needed to pass long distances. During fighting with enemy, fuel tanks
were immediately dismantled from the tank body.
and early production of T-34 tanks were kept top secret.
First bunch of 1000 units were ready
for fight against the invading German forces for the first time in
Kursk tank war.
Germans were expecting their enemy to have inferior poor design
tanks, but just the opposite have happened. German tanks faced with
new design, powerful, fast,
durable, technological monsters on the war theater. Germans suffered
in a great surprise.
thought that their enemy had poor, inferior, undeveloped technology
which could be beaten easily. It was happened just the opposite in
war theater. Germans were defeated heavily in the clash with new
design T-34 tanks. Battle showed that T-34 tanks were invulnerable,
so strong so powerful. Later in time, Germans improved their tank
design to catch up but their production capability and replacement
were not in line with growing war destruction. T-34 fabrication
plants were too far away from eastern front, so that German war
planes could not reach to bomb. T-34 tanks were manufactured in 5-
different fabrication plants each too distant from each other, so
that fabrication was continued uninterrupted. During WW2, 84,000
units were produced and design improvements continued for better
armor, bigger and powerful guns, more fire power. There were no radio
communication in the early versions, so that tank crew communicated
with flags between each other, in later models, radio was installed
for fast communication.
off-road speed could reach to 50-60 km per hour in open war theater,
whereas German tanks could go maximum 30-40 km per hr. It was a great
fighting advantage for T-34 in war clashes. Hitler once said, "If
I had known about the T-34 tank's strength in year 1941, I would not
have attacked.". That is called deterrence today, T-34 tanks
became war hero of the Eastern Front in WW2, which played a major
role in winning the WW2 victory.
Koshkin" was the young design engineer of the first prototype
T-34 battle tank. In order to prove applicability of the new tank
design to decision maker war generals, he drove the first prototype
T-34 battle tank from the plant to Moscow army command center in
harsh cold winter conditions passing 2000 km off-road fields. He
caught pneumonia and soon after the his lone test drive, he died.
After receiving the permission, all over the country 5- different
plants started to fabricate non-stop during war time 24 hours 7days,
with 50% women, 25% young boy labor force, since all men were
Stalingrad war, manufacturing plants had even no time to paint the
tanks, so that some of the T-34 tanks were even sent without external
final paint to battle front, to fight the invading enemy forces, that
was an incredible history. Final paint was later completed during
1942, in North Africa on Libyan desert, tank battles were very
important in WW'2 the history. American Sherman tanks have
encountered first time with German tank divisions on hot Libyan
desert. American Generals has selected Sherman tanks although
Shermans were weak, smaller and with short-range gun capability, but
fast in action.
Patton has once said, "The
important thing in tank battle is whether Shermans could move rapidly
to the back of the German Panzer and hit them back," That was
the practice of ancient times, he learnt from "Roma- Carthage"
way to defeat the war elephants of Carthaginians, the foot soldiers
would give away to heavy war elephants to the front, then they move
to the back of the beast, and they have to spit the elephant with
spears behind at the weakest point. These tactics have worked in
ancient times. Sherman tanks have also tried to apply the same
tactics, but they did not work.
In order to hit
a German tank, it would be causing the destruction of 4-5 Sherman
tanks in fire.
low altitude flying aircraft and anti-tank artillery have helped
Shermans to overwhelm German Panters. German tanks were stopped by
lack of fuel, since the German fuel ship had been sunk in the
Mediterranean by the British war ships.
Also German trucks to transport drinking water were bombed by British
war aircraft. German
tanks left with no fuel, unable to move and lost the desert war.
General Rommel saved himself, by flying back to Germany.
his soldiers were surrendered to Allied troops. Total 340 thousand
German POW soldiers were sent by ships to America during WW'2. They
picked cotton in Southern cotton fields throughout the entire war.
Alabama blacks were enlisted in American army, and they were sent to
Europe to save white people.
encounter of new untested T-34 battle tanks with their German
counterparts on the Eastern Front is the best war story. Young
Russian tank designer Michael Koshkin drove the first T-34 prototype
to prove tank durability all alone 2000 kms from fabrication plant to
Moscow and died from pneumonia he got during test drive. It is the
saddest human cost of this main battle tank design story. Our
Northern neighbor then have
produced a total of 84,000 units T-34 battle tanks in WW2 as a series
of 5-separate factories.
improved design during the war, armor thickened, raised the gun fire
tanks of 50,000 have been destroyed in the war, but the rest have the
key fighting power to win the war on the Eastern Front.
tanks were generally weaker than German Tiger and Leopard battle
tanks. Their guns were smaller, gun range were shorter, they had
thinner armor plates. But these battle tanks could be manufactured
in large numbers during WW'2 to beat the capability weakness with
high numbers. While Tiger or Leopard tank fires on one of them, other
Sherman tanks would circle and hunt the German tank. The same tactic
was applied to T-34 versus German tanks. Comrades in the 5-different
fabrication plants have produced large number of T-34 battle tanks
non-stop, and also improved tank design, tested gun power on captured
German tanks on field.
anti-tank weapons were designed to put fire on battle tanks and kill
the tank personnel inside. Armor -piercing explosive projectile
bullets with explosive nozzle cone toward the tank interior have
worked better in time, keeping battle tanks idle, inactive in the
war. They created high flame beam to explode the armor shields. At
that point, by melting armor and there were a few thousand degrees
Celsius flame exploded into the tank, the crew was burned to death.
ammo was also ignited in the tank, they all suddenly exploded
completely. The anti-tank weapons are among those with armor-piercing
bullets, as sharp as pencils with tungsten drill bits.
hit the armor, armor is pierced by tungsten pen, enters tank
interior, helps blasting ammunition.
Today tank designers
decorate the tank exterior with high explosive resistant panels.
bullets stand out, giving explosion outside with early response,
armor-piercing bullets trigger with early discharge.
armor work outside to keep bullet away from entering interior, and
therefore are cutting blast effect.
battle tank impact in fighting is limited, due to increasing impact
of anti-tank planes A-10, helicopters and land mines. You will recall
the pictures of obsolete destructed scrap on the roadside old design
armored vehicles and tanks in Iraq war. Saddam's tanks were
demolished by helicopters easily. The effects of T-34 battle tanks
were ended during Korean war by anti-tank weapons which were
effectively and widely used by food soldiers. So new designs were
introduced with better armors. War is cruel, inhuman, but one should
be strong enough to be deterrent in our environment to survive.
open sources we understand that the local MBT (main battle tank)
design and tests are not yet completed for full scale production.
Driving tests are satisfactory. Tanks have electronic radar shelter
against air attacks, electronic camera surveillance systems, land
mines detection equipment are to be mounted on tank body and tested.
Real war tests are not completed in war conditions. We would expect
to test at least one prototype in a war zone, such as in Afghanistan.
Coalition forces do not participate into war in Afghanistan just to
bring peace to that land. We all know that armies go there to test
their new fighting equipment, whether they are battle tanks, or heavy
rifles, or helicopters.
German, American tanks are being tested there.
sites of Russian tanks are currently in Chechnya, Ukraine and Syria.
us know well about the power of Syrian tanks and talk about them.
has a total of 4850 units of T-55-62-72 Russian tanks which are
obsolete in todays terms.
the latest model T-90 could be given to Syria when suppliers feel
necessary, then our new generation battle tanks have to cope with the
latest T-90, as well as American Abrams of Iraq in future
Turkey, there are only 4- each MBT prototypes in development.
Original design was made by South Korea. Main engines were to be
manufactured in cooperation with German supplier. 4-batch series
fabrication each with 250 units will be initiated from 2016 on. Unit
budget price per standard MBT is estimated to be USD 5-6 million.
Battle capacity with total 1000-tanks
in the region will be a serious show of deterrent force. We need to
investigate the neighboring dangers in times of disagreements. Syria
has T-55-62-72 obsolete Russian tanks but they could have T-90 tanks
in future. Israel army has their own design war tested Merkava M4
battle tanks with front mounted powerful engine. Merkava tanks are
the only battle tanks with front engine, all other tanks have rear
engines. Iran has some American M60 Pattons, and their own design
new battle tanks. American Abrams battle tanks are left in Iraq,
however some of them in north military bases were captured by new
islamic insurgents. Battle tanks should have electronic remote self
destroying capability, which could be activated in case of captures.
We understand that those Abrams tanks had that immobilizing
capability to make themselves unusable.
generation main battle tanks should have radar shields against
hostile air and land attacks, and should have missile capability
against helicopters. Tank also should fix its gun electronically to
the enemy target and it should stay steady, shoot and hit while
moving at high speed. In the latest models, tank crews are reduced
to three personnel since most of ammo loading are organized earlier.
Cyber security is also very important since battle tanks are now full
of computers almost for each and every task to carry out.
the end of the WW'2, "Giant Tiger" was designed and
fabricated by the direct order of Führer. They were very large
tanks. They were sent to France front.
giant battle tanks could not succeed in real war conditions. Because
the roads were narrow, they were unable to maneuver within the
settlements , could not make turns or returns. They were too heavy.
They could not pass the bridges, you had to make a special bridge.
there is a limit to the size of the tank.
the beginning of the WW'2, German battle tanks were a military
success in the Russian steppes.
tanks could hit enemy within 2 km range with high accuracy.
initial hitting range of early T-34 tanks were 500 meters.
Therefore they should get close to the German tanks.
the number superiority, better survival capability difficult winter
conditions, easy operation, higher field speed, easy refuel to the
remote war theaters, better repair and maintenance capability, all
had increased T-34 survival rate at war.
land forces used various updates of American M60 and German Leopard
tanks in the past. There is no Russian T-34 tank in our list.
Starting from year 2018 on, Turkey shall produce 4 batches each with
250 tank units. Although the prototype is designed and produced by
one company, we understand that another private company in the
competition to get the order. In fact it is better to distribute the
fabrication order to multiple suppliers in Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara,
even we should look for more fabrication centers in organized
industrial zones of cities like Sivas, Eskişehir, Malatya, Antep.
have gathered above article with available open intelligence sources
through internet web pages, mainly from Wikipedia. If you have any
comments, corrections, or advise, you can always write to me. We
wish all of you and your families a Merry Christmas/ Happy Holidays,
and all the best for the New Year 2019.
07 December, 2018
Direskeneli is a graduate of METU’s Mechanical Engineering
Department (1973). He has worked in public and private enterprises,
US-Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), and in
fabrication, basic/detail design, marketing, sales, and in project
management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as a
freelance consultant/energy analyst of thermal power plants, and
utilizing his basic/detail design software expertise for private
engineering companies, investors, universities, and research
institutions. He is a member of METU Alumni and the Chamber of
Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.