The Instigator
JGross
Pro (for)
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The Contender
Wallstreetatheist
Con (against)
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The T-34 was the greatest tank of World War II

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/8/2012 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 8,438 times Debate No: 23493
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (0)

 

JGross

Pro

I shall take the position that the Russian T-34 was the greatest tank of World War II. You shall refute this position, by arguing that it was not the greatest tank of World War II. Good Luck.
Wallstreetatheist

Con

I accept. State your case.
Debate Round No. 1
JGross

Pro

The T-34 was the most produced tank of WWII. Why? Because it was a superbly simple, robust, and powerful design. The T-34 was one of the first tanks to introduce the use of sloped Armour. Russian engineers realized that by using sloped Armour they could increase the protection provided to the crewman, without increasing the weight. This allowed them to keep the overall weight of the tank down to minimal levels, thereby increasing the top speed. Which goes to my next point the engine. The engine was a simple design which required very little maintenance, yet was able to propel the T-34 at up to 34 mph. In addition the T-34's robust engine allowed the tank to remain in combat for much longer periods of time than most other equivalent designs. Next up the speed of the T-34, this was one of the keys to the T-34's success. Rather than being a slow lumbering brute the agility of the T-34 allowed it to quickly blitz into the enemy lines, or easily flank around the enemy. This flanking maneuver was also crucial to the T-34, and was the most significant tactic in allowing it to become the greatest tank of World War II. Thanks to the combination of overwhelming numbers and extreme speed, the T-34 was able to flank more well armored enemy tanks, such as the Tiger I, and Panther, in order to attack their vulnerable side or rear Armour. The T-34/76's main gun, was a superb piece when it was first fielded in 1940. The 76mm was powerful enough to take on pretty much all German early war tanks, and by the time it had become outdated the Russians had upgraded it to the 85mm. The 85mm gun, could easily penetrate the side or rear Armour of just about every German tank, from a considerable distance. Again this powerful gun combined with a fast and well armored tank resulted in a deadly combination.

While all these things, the Armour, speed, gun, tactics,etc, make the T-34 an excellent tank design, it is the pure production numbers, the manufacturing, which truly makes the T-34 the greatest tank of World War II. While Germany made 1,347 Tiger I tanks, approximately 6,000 Panthers, and another 8,800 Panzer IV's, a total of around 16,000 main battle tanks throughout the war, Russia produced over 84,000 T-34's. During even the height of the German invasion when tank production was at it's lowest, Russia was manufacturing over 1,300 T-34's a month. But not only was Russia making many more tanks than Germany, they were doing it for much cheaper. It is this combination of numbers and cost, of course combined with excellent individual characteristics, which truly make the T-34 the greatest tank of World War II, and perhaps the greatest tank ever made.
Wallstreetatheist

Con

The Soviet T-34 was not the greatest tank of World War II, because the German Panzerkampfwagen V Panther was.

For those of you who would like to see what these tanks looked like:

This is the German Panther:
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This is the Soviet T-34:



Now that we know what we're talking about. Let's progress, shall we?


Intro
When going about evaluating what makes a great tank, one must use a set criteria. The best criteria for evaluating tanks consist of design and performance. The German Panther embodied a balance of great firepower, tremendous armor protection, and dynamic mobility unmatched by any other tank of the period. The tank benefitted from superior design, and consequently, superior performance and a tenacious fighting prowess. The manufacturing efficiency of the factories producing the tanks says almost nothing about the actual tanks' abilities, so this should not be taken into account when deciding which tank was indeed greater than the other.

C1: Design
The German Panzer V Panther tank had quite definitely the most elegant design of any tank in World War II. It featured superior German engineering that was state-of-the-art for 1942, whereas the T-34 was lagging behind technologically as it was designed in 1937. [1] [2]

a) Armor
While both tank designs featured the recent development of sloped armor, the armor of the German Panther was greater than the armor of the Soviet T-34 in relative thickness, density, and strength. The Pather's front armor was 80mm thick of strong, durable homogenous steel that was both welded and and interlocked for strength; the Soviet T-34 had only 45-47mm of front armor, making it more vulnerable to tank destroyers, bazookas, and tanks than the Panther. The Panther and T-34 had relatively the same weaknesses in other parts of the armor; however, with the Panther's superior speed, its weaknesses were less likely to be hit than the T-34's due to the superior mobility and maneuverability it offered. The Panther had 40mm more armor on its turret than the T-34.

b) Armament
While the Panzer V Panther was of only average caliber for its time, the it's main gun was a more powerful tank gun than the T-34's, because of its large propellant charge and very long barrel, which resulted in a very high muzzle velocity and superior armor-piercing characteristics. The Panther also featured two MG 34 machine guns specifically designed for use in armored combat vehicles that had an armored barrel sleeve.

c) Cabin
The cabin of the Panzer V Panther was clearly superior to the cabin of the T-34, which was described as suffering from an "unsatisfactory ergonomic layout" in which a "two-man turret-crew arrangement required the commander to aim and fire the gun, an arrangement common to most Soviet tanks of the day." This made the T-34 less successful in subsequent firing and tactical position-grabbing. The Panther made use of its increased space to allow for a much more efficient three-man turret crew that allowed for tactical and firing advantages.

d) Engine
The Panther featured a Maybach HL 210 P30 engine, V-12 gasoline engine which delivered 650 metric hp at 3,000 rpm and had three simple air filters, whereas the T-34 had a 12-cylinder diesel model v-2 at
500 hp. So, the Panher had a better engine, which accounts for its greater speed than the T-34, 55 km/h compared to 53 km/h, respectively.



I will address some more design aspects and how those affect the performance of the Panzer V Panther, and make it the greater WWII tank over the less-evolved Soviet model T-34.

Thank you! :D

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...;
Debate Round No. 2
JGross

Pro

A Tank is a vehicle of warfare. The large scale warfare of World War II, required a tank which could be produced at an enormous rate. To simply set aside the production aspect of a tank, and base it's greatness solely on its "design" and "performance" is ignoring the fundamental purpose of what a tank does, that is to kill the enemy. Countries such as Germany produced a number of extreme tank designs which were very high performance, and had excellent designs, yet were so expensive and required such workmanship that mass production was impossible, these tanks could not be considered the greatest tank of World War II. Production is vital to the role that a tank is built for, you cannot ignore it, and on this alone the Panther is a failure. Yet there are many other reasons as to why the Panther was a failure.

The Panther's design was stolen directly from the T-34. Upon seeing how great a tank the Russians had created, Germany decided to steal the design. However; thanks to "superior" German over-engineering, the Panther was no where near as reliable as the Russian T-34 and could not be made on anywhere near the scale that the T-34 could be. First up the Armor, the Panther's side Armour, was only 40–50 mm thick, and unlike the T-34 had no slope, the original T-34/76 could penetrate this Armour at over 1,000 meters with AP shells and from even longer range with the more advanced APCBC shells. The T-34/85 could penetrate the Panther's side Armour at over 2500 meters with standard AP shells. This is where the speed of the T-34 reigns supreme. In combat the T-34 was able to both numerically overwhelm the Panther tank, and flank it in order to hit the weak side Armour. So that thick advanced 80mm sloped front Armour, whose design was stolen from the T-34, was worthless thanks to the weak side Armour.

Next we have the Armament, the Panther's main gun took an entire minute to traverse 360 degrees. This meant that when the fast moving T-34 flanked the Panther tank, it could not turn it's gun fast enough to stay on target. As one could imagine a big and powerful gun is not much use when you are to slow to target your enemy. In addition thanks to a design flaw in the overly engineered Panther, many enemy rounds which hit the turret manlet would bounce down penetrating the thin top Armour, this directly above the main ammunition storage, the driver, and the radioman. If the Panther crew was lucky only the driver and radioman would be killed by the penetrating round; however unfortunately for the Panther, many of these penetrations resulted in catastrophic explosions which demolished the entire tank. So without even penetrating the Panther, a simple bounced round could destroy the entire tank.

The Panthers cabin, as I just discussed above was extremely vulnerable to bounced shots. In addition thanks to the awkward placement of vital gearboxes and steering units, repairs took an inordinate amount of time. The designers also thought it was a smart idea to store ammunition partially spread out, throughout the entire hull. This meant that penetrations of the cabin could easily result in catastrophic failure.

The Panther's engine, was quite simply worthless. Why? Because by the time the Panther had been introduced Germany was on the defensive. What is the point of a tank which can go fast, if you are marching backwards? The Panther was simply not able to take advantage of its speed, for tactical reasons the Panther was mainly used in stationary positions. To add on to this the Panther's transmission was horrendous. Germany did not have access to quality steel, and this resulted in significant gearbox failures which put the entire tank out of commission. Again what is the point of a powerful engine if the transmission is broken? To add to this the Panther suffered from numerous suspension problems. The German over-engineering of the suspension system resulted in numerous failures which removed the tank from combat, and caused a number of crews to have to scuttle their tanks for fear of letting the Russians capture it. Overall the engine was worthless, thanks to Germany's retreat, the poor quality transmission, the over-engineered suspensions, and numerous other mechanical failures.

The Panther was Germany's answer to the T-34. But it was a spectacular failure. The over-engineering of the Panther resulted in poor reliability, the only good parts of the Panther were those which were copied nearly directly from the T-34, such as the sloped front Armour. This is without even bringing up the fact that the Panther was made in incredibly low numbers, compared to the T-34. If the Panther was as cheap as the T-34, and produced in as great of numbers as the T-34, and was more rugged and reliable like the T-34, and was less over-engineered like the T-34, and was used in an offense like the T-34, well it would be the T-34 and would be the greatest tank of World War II. Unfortunately for Germany the Panther was a paper tiger, it looks big and scary but in actuality it just wasn't a good tank. The T-34 was far and away the best tank of World War II, and most certainly was a better tank than the Panther.
Wallstreetatheist

Con

Intro
When going about evaluating what makes a great tank, one must use a set criteria. The best criteria for evaluating tanks consist of design and performance. The German Panther embodied a balance of great firepower, tremendous armor protection, and dynamic mobility unmatched by any other tank of the period. The tank benefitted from superior design, and consequently, superior performance and a tenacious fighting prowess. The manufacturing efficiency of the factories producing the tanks says almost nothing about the actual tanks' abilities, so this should not be taken into account when deciding which tank was indeed greater than the other. Many of my opponent's arguments against the Panther are relatively unfounded or insignificant, because the "over-engineering" issues were quickly resolved and production numbers increased of the Panzer V Panthers.


C1: Design
The German Panzer V Panther tank had quite definitely the most elegant design of any tank in World War II. It featured superior German engineering that was state-of-the-art for 1942, whereas the T-34 was lagging behind technologically as it was designed in 1937. [1] [2]

a) Armor
While both tank designs featured the recent development of sloped armor, the armor of the German Panther was greater than the armor of the Soviet T-34 in relative thickness, density, and strength. The Pather's front armor was 80mm thick of strong, durable homogenous steel that was both welded and and interlocked for strength; the Soviet T-34 had only 45-47mm of front armor, making it more vulnerable to tank destroyers, bazookas, and tanks than the Panther. The Panther and T-34 had relatively the same weaknesses in other parts of the armor; however, with the Panther's superior speed, its weaknesses were less likely to be hit than the T-34's due to the superior mobility and maneuverability it offered. The Panther had 40mm more armor on its turret than the T-34.


My opponent claimed that the side armor of the Panther wasn't sloped; and therefor, less of a good tank. However, the Panther did have sloped side armor that was angled better than the T-34's side armor to deflect rounds more easily and protect the superior Panther five-man crews.

b) Armament
While the Panzer V Panther was of only average caliber for its time, the it's main gun was a more powerful tank gun than the T-34's, because of its large propellant charge and very long barrel, which resulted in a very high muzzle velocity and superior armor-piercing characteristics. The Panther also featured two MG 34 machine guns specifically designed for use in armored combat vehicles that had an armored barrel sleeve.

As far as firepower, In 1943, when the Panther's were initially employed into combat, the 76mm gun of the T-34 could not penetrate the Panther's hull front armour and was "out-ranged by the Panther's long 75mm and the Tiger's 88mm."

c) Cabin
The cabin of the Panzer V Panther was clearly superior to the cabin of the T-34, which was described as suffering from an "unsatisfactory ergonomic layout" in which a "two-man turret-crew arrangement required the commander to aim and fire the gun, an arrangement common to most Soviet tanks of the day." This made the T-34 less successful in subsequent firing and tactical position-grabbing. The Panther made use of its increased space to allow for a much more efficient three-man turret crew that allowed for tactical and firing advantages.

The cabin of the Panther allowed for a three-man turret-crew, and a five-man crew in total, which outnumbered the T-34's crew by one man. So, on plain numerics, the Panther was the winner here, but further exacerbating the T-34's terrible cabin and numerical shortcoming was the fact that German crewman were far and away superior than Russian crews. The Russians tank corps were filled with illiterate conscripts that were unable to properly use the tanks.

d) Engine
The Panther featured a Maybach HL 210 P30 engine, V-12 gasoline engine which delivered 650 metric hp at 3,000 rpm and had three simple air filters, whereas the T-34 had a 12-cylinder diesel model v-2 at

500 hp. So, the Panher had a better engine, which accounts for its greater speed than the T-34, 55 km/h compared to 53 km/h, respectively.

A point my opponent brought up was that the engine of the Panther was useless, because "by the time the Panther had been introduced Germany was on the defensive"

However, that is a fallacious statement, because we are trying to determine what was indeed the best tank of World War II regardless of the situations of the changing tide of the war. One could say that the T-34 was useless in the Cold War, because the United States could have just shot a nuclear weapon at it, but that doesn't get at the fundamental issues of what makes a great tank; it just serves as a red herring to divert us away from our concepts of tankology. If my opponent wants to claim the speed of the T-34 to his advantage, because the Soviets were winning on the Eastern Front, he may claim the relatively high speed, but not based on the circumstances surrounding the tank's advancement, but because of the actual performance of the tank, even thought the speed of the T-34 was less than the Panzer by 2km/h.

Turret
The Panther's turret was covered in 100mm steel armor that made the gun mantlet unable to be penetrated by the M4's 75 mm gun, the T-34's 76.2 mm gun, or the T-34-85s 85 mm gun. The T-34's turret's front was covered in 60mm of steel armor, making it a much easier victim for the higher-velocity shot from a Panzer V Panther.

Also, my opponent mentioned that the Panther was subjected to a problem of rounds bouncing off the turrent mantlet and exploding on the "thin top armor." There are two problems with this verbal attack:

1) The T-34's turret mantlet is a much more likely candidate of being completely destroyed by a Panther hit, making the attack effective.
2) If the T-34's round was deflected, the chances of it falling on the top armor were slim, as the round is travelling extremely fast, and a deflection would likely knock the round off to the side in a diagonal from the initial impact point.

Steering and transmission
For now I'll post a quote, "From the point of view of operating them, the German armoured machines were more perfect, they broke down less often. For the Germans, covering 200 km was nothing, but with T-34s something would have been lost, something would have broken down. The technological equipment of [Germany's] machines was better.


Next round I'll show how German's Panzer V Panther's superior design equated to superior performance.

SOURCES
Drabkin & Sheremet 2006, p. 43.
Zaloga 1994, p.16.
Forczyk 2007, p. 4
Spielberger 1993, p. 60
Debate Round No. 3
JGross

Pro

My opponent continuously ignores the ease of production, cost per tank, and overall numerical superiority that the T-34 offered over the Panther. The T-34 was designed specifically as a tank which could be easily mass produced, and in such a way that the loss of one tank would not affect the war effort in any way. Tanks are designed to kill, plain and simple. The easier they are to manufacture, and the more tanks you have the more enemy you can kill. The T-34's greatest triumph was the process through which it was mass produced.

On to the Panther tank, my opponents claim that the Panther was effective and a great tank is wrong. In the Battle of Kursk the LARGEST tank battle in the history of mankind, only 184 Panthers were deployed, 44 were removed because of mechanical failure, 56 were removed because of damage caused by AT mines and enemy fire, 58 Panthers were completely lost by the end of Operation Citadel, by day 3 of the operation only 40 out of 184 Panthers were operational, by day 6 of the operation only 10 out of 184 Panthers were operational. By the time the Soviets launched their counteroffensive 96 new Model D Panthers were delivered to the front line, unfortunately by the end of this counteroffensive approximately 98 Panthers were lost, mainly due to abandonment and scuttling by the crew. These numbers show pretty clearly how ineffective the Panther was.

On the reliability, when the Panther D tank was designed, Heinz Guderian, Inspector-General of the Wehrmacht Armored Troops, demanded a tank which had superior maneuverability to the T-34. However, what he got was a 45 ton tank with a petrol engine, front wheel drive, and poor suspension. The designers opted for a complex set of interleaved road wheels, which were quick to clog up with mud, something very common on the eastern front in spring and summer. This interleaved road wheel system made it very difficult to change a damaged inner wheel as you would have to take off multiple other wheels, requiring much more time and energy than the simple system used on the T-34. In 1943 no panzer unit equipped with Panther D and early model Panther A tanks was able to sustain an operational readiness rate above 35%, this means that 65% of the Panthers deployed were removed from service due to the need for repairs. More Panthers were lost to mechanical problems in 1943 than to enemy combat. The transmission system was extremely poor as 5 percent broke within 100km and almost 90 percent broke down within 1,500km, additionally when the transmission broke down it was required that the Panther be sent back to the factory for a complete overhaul. The final drive on the Panther D was so bad that it could not turn the tank while backing up. The fuel pumps were also a huge problem; they would often leak and cause massive engine fires, rendering the tank nonoperational. The Panther D and A tanks were so prone to breakdown that they had to transport them by train along with the Tiger I. When the Panther A tanks were first being distributed to the SS-Leibstandarte in Italy, September 1943, they were so poor that every single one was rejected for service. The Panther D was a 45 ton tank running on a chassis built for a 24 ton vehicle with very poor mobility and reliability. Many of these design flaws were due directly to the designers, however many were also caused by sabotage. My opponent forgets that Germany used slave labor, comprised mainly of Jews and Soviet POW's, to build the Panther. As one can imagine they attempted to sabotage the tank in every place they could. Many Panther crewman reported obstruction's in the oil pipes, loosened bolts, and other deliberate acts of sabotage.

The Panther G was designed to "fix" many of the problems of the early model A and D tanks. However they were not much better. They had very poor fuel consumption rates, much like the Panther A and D model. The Panther G could get only 60-80 miles on road and 40-50 miles cross country with about 190 gallons of gasoline, in comparison the T-34 could go 115 miles on the road and around 70 miles cross country with only 120 gallons of diesel fuel. They attempted to improve the suspension but this was a failure, when turning in place the suspension was badly over-stressed and suffered from premature stripping of the third gear, which would render the tank non-operational. The single teeth spur gears would often strip very readily in combat, requiring that the tank be sent to rear motor pools, as this could not be changed in the field. In 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge, units' equipped Panther G tanks had only 40% operationally ready. One of the largest problems the Panther had was that it was so complex, in most instances nobody knew how to fix them, field repairs or even motor pool repairs could not be performed, instead they would have to be shipped all the way back to the factories to be overhauled. Additionally like the Panther D and A, the G model was shipped by train as long marches with Panthers was near impossible, the breakdown rate caused by a long period of travel would simply result in too many costly repairs.

I recommend my opponent watches these two videos:
http://military.discovery.com...
http://military.discovery.com...
They delve deeply into the numerous mechanical problems the Panther had, and just how unreliable a tank it was. The Panther was not a good tank, let alone a great tank.
Wallstreetatheist

Con

Wallstreetatheist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
JGross

Pro

I think it is quite clear that I have won this debate. My opponent tried to argue that the Panther tank was superior to the T-34 but I soundly refuted that. This clearly leaves the T-34 as the greatest tank of World War II. I have clearly won this debate. I thank my opponent for participating in this debate, it has been fun.
Wallstreetatheist

Con

I respectfully concede defeat under the immense knowledge of Dr. JGross, professor emeritus of tankology at CCNY.


This is the extent of my knowledge of tanks:
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This is the extent of my opponent's knowledge of tanks:
1) He is the Stephen Hawking of tankology
2) He built this over the weekend with some spare parts
3) He helps state law enforcement by graciously dedicating his time to drills
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1) He is the Stephen Hawking of tankology

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2) He built this over the weekend with some spare parts

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3) He helps state law enforcement by graciously dedicating his time to drills
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Thanks for the debate, and vote for me, if you're drunk.

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Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by THEBOMB 5 years ago
THEBOMB
I like the kitten :)
Posted by MouthWash 5 years ago
MouthWash
Ho ho!
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 5 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
I accidentally the argument!
http://www.wrongtees.com...

You would have won this with or without my final argument. You are a true tankologist.

Tanks
Posted by Zaradi 5 years ago
Zaradi
Tanks
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 5 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
Tanks
No votes have been placed for this debate.