When one typically envisions German tanks of World War II, one typically thinks of giant steel behemoths such as the Tiger tank or perhaps the Panther tank. However, German heavy tanks weren’t really all that common until later in the war, in fact they really weren’t all that common at all. In the beginning of the war, German tanks were heavily outclassed by their Allied counterparts, especially by French and later Soviet heavy tanks. During the Invasion of France, most German tanks were either Panzer I, II, or III models, the heavier Panzer IV and Panzer 38(t) not being fielded in large numbers.
Overall Allied tanks tended to have thicker armor and bigger guns. The Germans were able to defeat Allied tank forces through superior tactics and war doctrine, the radio being a more potent piece of equipment than guns and armor., something which Allied tanks woefully lacked. However there were instances when the weaknesses of German tanks became glaringly obvious.
One such incident occurred on the 16th of May, 1940 at the village of Stonne during the invasion of France. Stonne was an important strategic point on the way to Sedan, thus over the past few days heavy fighting had occurred over the village, resulting in the town changing hands no less than seventeen times. On the morning 16th the French conducted a counterattack against German positions with infantry attacking from the south and tanks attacking from the west.
At the head of the French tanks was Captain Pierre Billotte, in command of a Char B1-bis heavy tank nicknamed “Eure”. The Char B1-bis was one of those monster tanks that gave the German’s much grief during the invasion of France, with 60mm frontal armor, a 47mm gun mounted in the turret, and a 75mm gun mounted in the chassis, it pretty much outclassed everything the Germans had in their tank arsenal.
When facing larger Allied tanks German tanks would typically try to outmaneuver and outflank their opponents, attacking the weaker side and rear armor. However the German’s had their tanks lined up in a row along the main street of the town, and thus were trapped. Captain Billotte and his crew charged right into the town, blasting each tank one by one as they charged down the street. The German tanks opened fire, but each and every round bounced of the B1′s thick frontal armor. Capt. Billotte and his tanks exited the town to the east, popping two German anti tank guns on the way out. When the smoke had cleared, Capt. Billotte and his crew had destroyed two Panzer IV tanks, eleven Panzer III tanks, and two anti tank guns. During the battle, the Char B1-bis “Eure” had sustained 140 hits.
The German’s eventually took Stonne on May 25th, bring forth larger anti tank guns to drive off the French tanks. Capt. Pierre Billotte was captured by the German’s, though he later escaped and served with the Free French forces throughout the remainder of the war. After the war he became Assistant Chief of Staff of The French Army, and later headed the French Military Mission to the UN. In his post military career he served in many political positions. He passed away in 1992.
U.S. Army Prototype Anti-Armor Hand Grenade from 1973 - A Shaped Charge Packed in a Hollowed-Out NERF Football
“Since a regulation size football weighs 14 ounces, it was considered feasible to make a shaped charge grenade within this weight limitation,” according to the official test report. “In addition, most U.S. troops are familiar with throwing footballs.”
Footballs, however, are not solid inside, making the prototype grenade unstable in flight. The project was cancelled and Parker Brothers (makers of the NERF footballs since 1969) were never officially involved.
Arena (Арена) active protection system, the successor to the revolutionary but fundamentally flawed Drozd APS.
The system uses a multi-function Doppler radar, which can be turned on and off by the tank commander. In conjunction with radar input, a digital computer scans an arc around the tank for threats, and evaluates which of the tank’s 26 quick-action projectiles it will release to intercept the incoming threat. In selecting the projectile to use for defeating the threat, the ballistic computer employs the information processed by the radar, including information such as flight parameters and velocity. The computer has a reaction time of 0.05 seconds and protects the tank over a 300-degree arc, everywhere but the rear side of the turret. The system engages targets within 50 metres (55 yd) of the vehicle it is defending, and the ammunition detonates at around 1.5 metres (1.6 yd) from the threat. It will engage any threat approaching the tank between the velocities of 70 metres per second (230 ft/s) and 700 metres per second (2,300 ft/s), and can detect false targets, such as outgoing projectiles, birds and small caliber bullets.
The relatively confined space of defense in which the warheads operate ensures any collateral damage is limited, but nevertheless the system still poses a threat to nearby infantry, albeit not in the level Drozd used to.
During World War II New Zealand was on the far edge of the British Empire, and a low priority to the British. As a result few arms were sent to defend the islands. However the people of New Zealand felt very threatened by the possibility of a Japanese invasion. With little armaments and no support from Britain, some in New Zealand felt that they needed to take the matter of national defense into their own hands.
At the beginning of World War II, New Zealand’s Minister of Works Bob Semple commissioned a project to manufacture a tank for New Zealand’s defense forces. There was one problem, New Zealand had little heavy industry and no indigenous arms production. As a result the new “Bob Semple Tank” was produced from unorthodox materials like something from an episode of “The A-Team”.
The core of the “Bob Semple” tank was the Caterpillar D8 tractor, a common vehicle among New Zealand’s farmers. To create the tank a simple superstructure was fabricated and mounted over the tractor. Armor consisted of 8 to 13mm corrugated iron. Armaments consisted of six Bren Light Machine guns; one on a turret, one on the left and right sides, one at the rear, and two at the front. Put together with ingenuity and improvisation, the Bob Semple tank was hastily constructed by hand in small workshops using no formal plans or blueprints. The tank was designed to be operated with a crew of eight.
A number of fully functioning Bob Semple tanks were constructed, however most production was geared in manufacturing the hulls alone. The idea was to disperse the hulls all over New Zealand. If the Japanese did invade, the locals could mount the hulls onto their local farm tractors within two hours, creating a working tank on demand.
Unfortunately the Bob Semple tank was nothing more than a rolling piece of junk. Poorly designed using substandard materials, the tank was very slow, under-armored, and featured several flaws. The tank had to come to a complete stop in order to shift gears. Vibrations from the tank made shooting from it difficult and inaccurate. Finally due to the shape and design of the tank, one of the forward gunners had to lie prone on a mattress over the engine in order to fire his machine gun.
The New Zealand Army rejected the Bob Semple tank for military use. Most were converted back into farm tractors, with the tanks hulls being used for scrap metal.