Halftrack info.com

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by von Poop, Dec 10, 2012.

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  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Dave55 and Slipdigit like this.
  2. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    With enough time and money you could have yourself a complete armoured division from that pile Adam. I'm sure I saw the ghost of George Patton standing in one of those jeeps.:)
     
  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

  4. bigmal

    bigmal Member

    So that`s where all the old Hotchkiss M201`s ended up.
     
  5. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Very nice links. Thanks.

    Does anyone know why the Americans used only the M2/M3 design for any role they thought required a halftrack while the Germans had many size and power variations.

    Were there tactical reasons or doctrines in play?
     
  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    As with anything like this, Dave; quite complex I'd say.
    Firstly, Germany had put a lot of effort into half-track design in the later years of WW1 & inter-war period. Whether the type of vehicle was the right or wrong choice is debatable (wrong, I'd think... isn't hindsight wonderful), but as their engineers had taken steps a a fair way down the road, and the half track concept looked like it might have advantages (France too had more than a casual eye on Half-Tracks as a solution to military mobility) it seems understandable that they carried on.

    Germany also had a somewhat 'thin' automotive industry. Their medium & heavy trucks were not (In my opinion) of a similar quality to those in the pipeline in the the US & UK, and perhaps more importantly they certainly didn't have the civilian manufacturing infrastructure of those countries, so the more specifically 'military' solution of half/semi tracked machines as the solution to off-road mobility may well have increased the attraction.
    (I wonder at the 'Adolf Effect' too: show the Fuhrer a mighty looking Famo, alongside some boxy Phanomen, and I can imagine which he'd sign for.)

    They also had a head start.
    I dare say given continued uncertainty about what the most appropriate drive-train for military vehicles was in the 20s & 30s, that if other nations had been more specifically gearing up for war as Germany was, they may well have settled on Half-tracks too. Off-road technology was an uncertain business worldwide. Wheeled vehicles were at a borderline stage in evolution. Germany put their eggs in one track-assisted basket to gain a brief march on that evolution.

    Then there's a 'doctrinal' aspect.
    While their overall military mechanisation was behind the curve, the Germans did adopt the concept of Spearhead Tank divisions more fully than anyone else at a comparatively early point.
    The ideal drive-train for support vehicles when looking for machines which can keep up with Tanks in rough country may have been full-tracked, but full-tracked vehicles are expensive.
    The off-road wheeled vehicles available in Germany did not have the ability to accompany the envisaged massed tanks at enough speed, so the half/semi track stands out as a relatively cheap & robust solution, but with excellent off-road performance & speed (cheap because of a vastly simplified drive system - primarily wheel-steered assisted by brake-steering on the tracks is a lot less complex than the subtleties of drive required to make full tracks usefully manoeuvrable).

    As to the variety of types compared to the allies more streamlined selection - that's wartime German technological diversity for you... Maybe debatable again, but they did make a habit of an over-abundance of types of almost every vehicle. Variety of reasons for that, some make sense, some don't, but it's certainly a feature of their Armies of the period.

    So... it's a funny one, the Halftrack.
    Only really flowered for a few decades, and eventually put aside as wheeled vehicles increased in capability. The odd sport like the Landrover Centaur has never really dented now supremely capable All-wheel-drive machine's supremacy.
    Who knows though... maybe they'll come back. I like Halftracks.
     
    Dave55 likes this.
  7. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    I like Halftracks.

    Me too! Nothing says 'WWII' like a half-track. :)

    Good post. Thanks
     
  8. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Me too! Nothing says 'WWII' like a half-track. :)

    Good post. Thanks

    Count me in too. I've been fascinated by those strange contraptions for as long as I can remember. The Rat Patrol may have something to do with it and the German models, dare I say it, always appeared to be more lethal.
     
  9. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    The Rat Patrol may have something to do with it and the German models, dare I say it, always appeared to be more lethal.

    Poor Hauptmann Dietrich had more M2s and Priests shot out from under him than all the allied armies combined. :)

    I agree that the German ones looked meaner but can you imagine if the Americans went heavy and built a Diamond T T-981 with M24 Chaffee tracks? :)
     
  10. alan8376

    alan8376 Member

    I am sure someone can beat this claim that halftracks were still being used by REME Workshop Forward Repair Teams in Germany 1967.
     
  11. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

  12. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Poor Hauptmann Dietrich had more M2s and Priests shot out from under him than all the allied armies combined. :)

    I agree that the German ones looked meaner but can you imagine if the Americans went heavy and built a Diamond T T-981 with M24 Chaffee tracks? :)

    With his dismal combat record, Dietrich should have been busted down to Corporal or made to serve years on a soap opera. :lol:

    The Diamond is a good idea. Oshkosh or Reo would also be acceptable substitutes.
     
  13. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
  14. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Very nice links. Thanks.

    Does anyone know why the Americans used only the M2/M3 design for any role they thought required a halftrack while the Germans had many size and power variations.

    Were there tactical reasons or doctrines in play?

    As with anything like this, Dave; quite complex I'd say.


    Would the US penchant for interchangability, ease of repair and simplicity of the supply chain also play into the development and production of the the two types only? If I remember Mr. Sanford correctly, the M3 HT had a good many parts that would fit their deuce and half. Did the two have the same engine?

    You mentioned doctrine, also. I wonder if the US thoughts on a prime movers was that it did not really need great off-road capability, other than to positoin heavy artillery off of roads into fields and not for traversing longer distances?
     
  15. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    Hi Jeff,

    Some of the componets might have been interchangable but the engines varied quite a bit.


    The GMC deuce and a half used a GM OHV 270 cubic inch six cylinder. I don't know what the Internationals and Studebakers used but pretty sure it wasn't the GM 270. I would guess the Studebakers used a Hercules and the Internationals an in house one.

    The White and Autocar halftracks both used a White flathead six of around 380 cubic inches. The Internationals used an International six. I think it was an OHV and slightly bigger.
     
  16. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Hi Jeff,

    Some of the componets might have been interchangable but the engines varied quite a bit.


    The GMC deuce and a half used a GM OHV 270 cubic inch six cylinder. I don't know what the Internationals and Studebakers used but pretty sure it wasn't the GM 270. I would guess the Studebakers used a Hercules and the Internationals an in house one.

    The White and Autocar halftracks both used a White flathead six of around 380 cubic inches. The Internationals used an International six. I think it was an OHV and slightly bigger.

    I remember him talking about when we were doing the book discussion, but I could not remember what he said, as I did not include that in the book. I do remember that he did not like the engines in the M-8s and said that those engines gave them a lot of problems.
     
  17. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA Patron

    I remember him talking about when we were doing the book discussion, but I could not remember what he said, as I did not include that in the book. I do remember that he did not like the engines in the M-8s and said that those engines gave them a lot of problems.

    The M8 definitely used a Hercules. I remember that because for years I assumed they used a Ford flathead V-8 like the Bren Carrier.

    My uncle commanded an M8. I''ll be seeing his son, my cousin, this weekend and I'll ask him if his dad ever talked about engine issues. I remember that he liked the 37mm.
     
  18. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Me too! Nothing says 'WWII' like a half-track. :)

    Good post. Thanks

    Dave,

    Absolutely!:D

    I have always had an affiliation with Half tracks.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  19. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    [​IMG]

    Image from Half-tracks

    Another oddity I found in that Bofors book (it just keeps on giving :D)

    The T68:
    T68 - Perhaps the most radical of the experiments, the T68 featured two 40 mm cannons, one mounted on top of the other, plus a stabilizer on top of the two guns. The recoil force proved to be too much for the mount, and the idea was abandoned. Prototype only.
    From M3 Half-track - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Cheers
    Mark
     
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Would the US penchant for interchangability, ease of repair and simplicity of the supply chain also play into the development and production of the the two types only? If I remember Mr. Sanford correctly, the M3 HT had a good many parts that would fit their deuce and half. Did the two have the same engine?

    You mentioned doctrine, also. I wonder if the US thoughts on a prime movers was that it did not really need great off-road capability, other than to positoin heavy artillery off of roads into fields and not for traversing longer distances?
    First point probably goes somewhat without saying, Jeff.
    US interchangeability, supply etc. may not have been quite as perfect as they're sometimes cracked up to be, but safe to say they were usually far superior to Germany in those areas.

    The doctrinal thing is probably significant.
    Germany envisioned very fast-moving Tank actions with very close Infantry support. The SdKfz.250, 251, 252, 253 etc. series of halftracks would in theory fit that support bill amply in the absence of appropriate wheeled transport.
    It seems possible that the US Tank Destroyer doctrine might rear it's head again here too. A very different approach to the application of Mobile armour at a time when halftracks might have been considered more fully. The British Infantry/Cruiser/Support approach also wouldn't make halftrack mobility seem so significant. Perhaps given the UK interest in Wheel-cum-track stuff, and if Hobart had been fully listened to at a certain period, the British might well have developed more than the German copy Traclat and the Maultier-like Matador halftracks.

    There are other differences between the German approach to such machines and the US though.
    I seem to recall most German half/semitrack stuff was a technically a tad less refined than the standard US style, though hardly lacking in overall Grunt. Must re-read some stuff to refresh the memory as all I can remember by specific comparison is the obviously very different track styles, and next to sod all about US drivetrains.
     

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