Thursday, September 1, 2011

King Tiger vs IS-2 - Operation Solstice 1945

During the 1920s and 1930s the concept of a heavy "breakthrough" tank was a common theme in European military thinking, when mechanized and armored doctrine was in its post-World War I infancy. Throughout this period, former combatants wrestled with how best to use armor to help avoid repeating the previous wars static and wasteful trench warfare. Soviet futurist military thinkers such as Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky envisioned integrated "mobile groups" spearheaded by heavy, multi-turreted T-32s and T-35s that had been organized into independent units. Lighter vehicles, operating much like the Russian cavalry'' during the Russian Civil War (1917-23), would then be used to quickly push through the breach to initiate "deep battle" missions to disrupt their adversary's command, control, and communications abilities. Following its proxy participation in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), leading thinkers in the Red Army refined their views on armor, and while they missed many of the conflicts tactical lessons they excelled in the technical arena. The "mobile fortress" approach with its multitude of guns was seen as flawed and such systems were replaced with single-turreted designs that emphasized simplicity and reliability: assets for the large, undeveloped areas in which such vehicles would operate. Production quantities were also of primary concern and anything that was not absolutely necessary to achieve this goal was suspect. Crew comfort was generally a low priority in Soviet armor thinking, and fatigue and lessened performance was often a problem in the utilitarian working environment.