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Viewing Topic "Lend-lease Armour"
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Posted by: Paintybeard Interesting enough for a book?
Posted on: 20/05/2015 06:00:34

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Posted by: Paintybeard
Total Posts: 347
Joined Date: Monday, 4 February 2013

I believe that the Americans and Britishs sent something in the order of 10,000 AFV’s to Russia during World War 2. That’s a huge number. The Russians don’t seem to have been very impressed with them, but their losses during “Barbarossa” had been so catastrophic that almost anything was welcome. What happened them all? Where did the Russians deploy them and did they make any attempt to modify their tactics to suit the very different designs that were supplied? I suppose New Vanguard would be the best format for a book titled something like “Anglo-American Tanks in Russian Service”. Would anyone else be interested in such a project?

Posted on: 20/05/2015 06:00:34
Posted by: AdamC
Total Posts: 268
Joined Date: Thursday, 22 January 2009

Hi Painty!

Yes, great idea and one i'd certainly be interested in. In answer to some of your questions I know that lend-lease armour was deployed in most of the main fronts in the East. Matilda IIs and Valentines certainly saw action a Kharkov in 1942 (as depicted in the CAM title dealing with the battle), Grants saw action on the Don front and in the Caucauses, Churchills were disasterously used at Kursk and Shermans were evident by the end of the war as Soviet spearheads pushed into Germany and Austria.

Its true that, generally speaking, Soviet oppinions of Western tanks wasnt great but much of what we know about the performance of Lend-Lease equipment has been heavily coloured by very biased and negative Soviet Cold War propaganda. All Western tanks were regarded as very reliable by the Russians but they were generally seen as under gunned and under armoured. The Matilda II was considered well armoured but under gunned and slow, also its side skirts tended to clog with mud easily. As a result it earned itself the nick-name "The English Workman" (i.e. slow but reliable!). The Valantine was actually well liked in Soviet service but bizarrely they were regarded it as a light tank and tended to use it in a caverlry or armoured recon role. The Churchill had an awful reputation on the Eastern Front after its debacle at Kursk in 1943 - the Russians actually specifically requested that we not send any further examples! The Stuart wasnt well received either and they turned down the M5 upgrade (under gunned, thin skinned, too narrow tracks and picky about its fuel). The Grant likewise wasnt a hit, being dubbed the the rather grim "Coffin for Seven Brithers". I seem to recall that the Sherman was a hit though, being reliable and well armed. 

Definatly up for a NVG book on this subject! 

Posted on: 20/05/2015 13:05:17
Posted by: AdamC
Total Posts: 268
Joined Date: Thursday, 22 January 2009

Sorry, slight correction on my above post. I refered to the "Grant" in Soviet service but thinking on it I think the version sent to the Eastern Front was actually the US Armies "Lee" rather than its British derivertive.

Posted on: 20/05/2015 13:10:09
Posted by: Black 5
Total Posts: 23
Joined Date: Thursday, 24 October 2013

The first British Lend-Lease tanks to arrive on the Eastern Front were Matilda IIs, which equipped two separate tank battalions during the Battle of Moscow. The Red Army liked their thick armor, but they were prone to roll-overs on snow and several were lost in non-combat accidents. By the Second Battle of Kharkov in May 1942, the Red Army had a significant number of Matilda IIs in service and they participated in Timoshenko's offensive.

By summer of 1942/late '42, the Soviets were beginning to receive Valentine tanks as well as the first American-made Grant/Lee and Stuarts (through the Persian corridor). Despite post-war criticisms, the Grant was a decent match against the standard German Pz III medium tank. Initially, the Soviets tried to use the Lend Lease tanks in tank corps but quickly found that trying to operate 4-6 different types of tanks in one organization was a bad idea, so by late '42 they were shifting them to separate tank battalions, regiments and brigades. 

By 1943, about 15-20% of the Red Army's tanks were foreign made. The Red Army received small numbers of Churchills, which were used in separate heavy tank regiments at Kursk (they performed well, but had some bad luck. The commander of one Churchill regiment was killed by a lucky artillery hit on his turret just before Prokhorovka). Only small numbers of Lend Lease tanks served at Kursk, but they were very active on the other fronts, particularly the Southern Front. 

In about October 1943, the Red Army began to receive M4A2 Sherman tanks, which they actually liked. Several large formations, like the 5th Mechanized Corps, were equipped with Shermans and they performed well in the 1944-45 campaigns. By 1944, most of the Grant/Lee, Stuarts and Matildas were gone, but there were still a fair number of Valentines in infantry support roles. 

In sum, despite post-war Soviet efforts to downplay the role of Lend Lease, the provision of over 12,000 foreign-built tanks, mostly in 1942-43, helped to tip the balance in the Red Army's favor. During that period, about 80% or more of domestically-built tanks were being destroyed each year in combat, so the extra tanks gave the Red Army a buffer which allowed them to keep their numbers up in the field. Without Lend Lease, it is unlikely that the Red Army would have been able to gain the strategic initiative until mid-1944. 


Posted on: 20/05/2015 15:49:29
Posted by: PAUL W
Total Posts: 272
Joined Date: Sunday, 4 January 2015

Yes, I'd be very interested in a book on the subject.

Posted on: 27/05/2015 19:25:15

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