Can WWII tanks still be effective to some degree in modern time?

Discussion in 'Weapons, Technology & Equipment' started by vashstampede, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    I am referring to for example,
    If WWII tanks are able to destroy a modern tank.

    Obviously modern tanks have much better armor and overall protection than WWII tanks, but I very much doubt it is 100% immune to everything a WWII tank throw at them. Back in WWII, Tiger and Tiger II tank, and Panther from the front are largely immune to the gunfire of allied tanks such as Sherman and T-34 at normal engagement range. But often time the allied tanks came with overwhelming numbers, which enable them to get close enough for a kill shot either from the side, or the rear, or sometimes even a frontal shot at close enough range can still penetrate what they normally couldn't.

    Obviously modern day tanks' 120mm and 125mm gun combined with modern optical, modern firing control system will most likely one shot WWII tanks at 2~3km range. But some WWII tanks are also known for be able to kill enemy tanks at 2~3km range, such as the famous 88mm on Tiger 1. There is also 128mm on JagdTiger (a tank destroyer).
    I remember hearing "A RPG-7 could knock out a M1A2 tank if hit the right spot"...and RPG-7 isn't even all that powerful.
    Do you think these guns might still effective in knocking out modern tanks like Challenger, Leopard 2, M1A2, etc. under certain distance or from certain direction?
    cavtrooper likes this.
  2. Vladimir

    Vladimir Siberian Tiger

    Do you think that something which was manufactured during the 1930s and 1940s will be effective now against the modern MBTs like Leopard?

    Nowadays the MBTs are much more mobile, and accurate. The WW2 tanks won't even have a chance.
    cavtrooper likes this.
  3. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    No, lets leave the tanks from 1930s out of it. Tanks in 1930s don't stand a chance against tanks from 1940s especially the ones produced toward the later part of WWII. Because of the tank to tank battle had dramatically increased, the tank armor and firepower were both being upgraded continuously.

    Of course even the most powerful most advanced WWII tanks don't stand a chance against third generation MBTs of today when the numbers are even.

    Are you saying 88mm and 128mm, or sixteen pounder etc. absolutely can't damage modern MBTs from any direction on any spot? Does that mean a tiny RPG-7 is more powerful than 88mm, 128mm, sixteen pounder? What if it's overwhelming force of WWII tanks against a small modern MBTs? Talking about tens thousands vs a few hundreds. What if one side ambush the other? What if they get the right spot from the right direction?
  4. Vladimir

    Vladimir Siberian Tiger

    The effective range of modern MBTs (for example, 8,000m for Leopard) is much greater than that of the 1940s battle tanks. Even if it is one Leopard against 4 or 5 WW2 era tanks, the latter will get destroyed even before they get a chance to fire their ammunition shells.
  5. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    That range you stated is not true. You are talking about the range of missiles fired from the main gun of a modern MBT. It is hard to have a straight sight of 8km anyway.

    If they use regular AT rounds, their normal range is only about 2~3.5km. Which is not really further than the normal effective range of 88mm or 128mm. Of course, I don't an 88mm or 128mm can destroy the frontal armor of a modern MBT from that far, but the fact remains a WWII tank can sneak up and ambush a modern MBT, or outnumber it with overwhelming force.
  6. tripletaker

    tripletaker New Member

    I think modern warfare is beyond tanks by now. If a nation were to bring about total war, it would be with nuclear technology in which no tank could withstand. Still, about the tank issue, the older tanks could still be effective provided that they are used the right way, but theres really no reason why they would be better than the modern tanks. People "innovate" past technology so that the newer ones can do everything the old ones can 10x better with even more functions. I can't see why they would downgrade it.
  7. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    No, we are not talking about nuclear war. As no country is dumb enough to start it these days, and that is not the topic here.

    And I am not suggesting some country to downgrade either.
    It was just a scenario where we put WWII tanks against modern MBTs. Of course none of them would stand a chance in 1 on 1, but I just want to see if modern MBTs' armors can withstand direct hits from the best tank guns of WWII, even if it means they had to close in range and choose certain weak spot.
  8. Vladimir

    Vladimir Siberian Tiger

    The Leopard 2 MBT uses the 120 mm Rheinmetall L55 smoothbore gun, which is having an effective range of 8,000m (when enabled with the LAHAT or Laser Homing Attack or Laser Homing Anti-Tank technique). Yes... I agree that it is hard to have a straight sight for as much as 8 km.... but it is not that unusual in battlefields.
  9. Akolt

    Akolt Member

    Well nothing is immune to everything.
    cavtrooper likes this.
  10. aghart

    aghart Former Tank Commander Moderator

    In a stand up fight the WWII tank would not stand a chance. However, any tank can be suprised by the sudden appearence of an enemy vehicle especially if it is in an unfavourable position. A hit on the engine compartment is likely to disable even the most modern vehicle. By the way, the longest confirmed tank vs tank "kill" was at a range of 5.1km, a British Challenger I took out an Iraqi T62 using Armour Piercing Fin Stabilised ammunition in 1991 during the first Gulf war.

    A force of 1944/45 vintage tanks would have to use suprise and ambush techniques against modern Challenger/M1/LeopardII type tanks to have any chance at all.
  11. Akolt

    Akolt Member

    Not to get out of topic, my dad always said. You know these old cars you call "shit" are better than these ferrari and racing cars you like. I asked "why?" and he replied "because these old cars have been out so long and still function well while these new fast cars will stop working after a short time".
  12. vashstampede

    vashstampede Active Member

    Like someone had already mentioned, the longest range of confirm tank to tank kill is nowhere near 8km. You'll never have a straight sight of 8km on any battlefield.

    If what aghart said is true, the longest hit was 5km for a modern MBT. That probably was also with the help of UAV and other means of detection.
    The furthest kill of a Tiger tank was over 3.5km+ if memory serves. That is still very good for a modern MBT kill.
  13. aghart

    aghart Former Tank Commander Moderator

    The 5.1km first round hit/kill was achieved using a thermal imaging sight with a laser rangefinder and a computerised gun control system. the ground was totally flat , without the thermal imaging sight the target would not have able to be identified and engaged. This hit could only have been achieved in a desert area or similar "flat as a pancake" terrain.
  14. cavtrooper

    cavtrooper Member

    Under the right circumstances,some WW2 tanks could,I think,hold their own against a modern tank.With good cover and concealment,and probably in an urban landscape,or heavily wooded terrain,AND with proper infantry support,some of the later models might have a fighting chance against a modern tank.The 85mm gun on a T-34 or 90mm gun on an M-26 would still pack quite a punch,and could do a fair amount of damage.If it were me in that duel,I'd go for a mobility kill first,and then try to call mortars against the modern tank.

    Of course,then there is the other side of the coin-in anything like a fair fight,on flat terrain,without cover and concealment,the modern tank wins every time.Some brave,but foolhardy Iraqi gunners tried to engage one of our M-1s with a German 88 during OIF1-it did'nt end well.
  15. cavtrooper

    cavtrooper Member

    Never say never...the IDF did OK with ancient Shermans against the latest Soviet models,in '73
  16. cavtrooper

    cavtrooper Member

    nope.One of my young corporals at Fort Knox told me of an Abrams being hit by an IED composed of 16 daisy chained 152mm rounds-it got ugly.
  17. TSG

    TSG New Member

    Here are the main engineering differences -

    Modern reactive armor - gives modern an edge.
    WWII thinner armor, less metallurgy, no composite armor.
    Modern tanks are lighter (60 tons M1 vs 75 ton Tiger),
    faster, 60 MPH vs 30 MPH.
    better accuracy at range, look up muzzle velocities.
    better guns - shaped charge fin stabilized 120mm beat conventional 105mm.

    Biggest difference - Most Modern tanks are mostly built to fire on the move. Most WWII tanks lacked the suspension, stability, and mechanized fire control that allows an M1 to fire accurately at range while cruising at speed over rough terrain. How many Gyroscopes are installed in a Tiger, Sherman, or T-35.

    That being said, yeah given terrain, cover, training, a veteran 1942 Panzer division in Urban warfare supported by dragoons would be a challenging opponent for M1A2 Armored Cavalry - the fighting would be close range, and would reduce the relative advantages of modern speed, armor, and range. Especially if the Panzers were defensive and had time to prepare the battle field? especially in a city where the tank drivers share a fear of falling into basements, you can control where your targets are.

    In the flat open range, desert or prairie? the Panzers would die at a mile range to M1's doing 40 mph firing on the move. Not contest - I wouldn't say a Tiger in the desert would fair any better than an Iraqi T-72.
    Diptangshu likes this.
  18. Alexander

    Alexander Member

    Scottish proverb:
    "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride
    If turnips were swords, i'd wear one by my side
    If ifs and ands were pots and pans,
    there'd be no need for tinkers' hands"
  19. Turo Nieminen

    Turo Nieminen Member

    Im pretty sure that no armor can defeat the laws of physics. 152mm explosive shot to modern tank still creates a pretty devastating effect with sheer physical impact. Do i know for sure it will take out modern tank? i do not, but sounds quite likely that some damage to atleast to mechanical parts or to wellbeing of the crew would still follow.

    Otherwise the question is simply answered that advances in tech make it impossible for WW2. stuff to face modern tanks on equal footing.
  20. SPWhitlow

    SPWhitlow Member

    I think that given the right circumstances: ambush, well planned tactics, a good commander, older tanks might stand up to more modernized tanks. However, if the modern ones got in a good few shots, I believe the old ones wouldn't even stand a chance.

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