Muscle Tank Shootout: How would WWII's coolest tanks fare against today's leviathans?

I’m not sure of this is a GQ, a GD or an IHMO, but, unspired by the Muscle Car Thread, I got to wondering how WWII’s heaviest hitting tanks (Tigers, King Tigers, Panthers, JagdTiger, KV-85, T-35(85), JSU-122 et al) would perform against, say, the US armour in Iraq, or the T-62’s or T-72’s the Americans swept aside, or an Aussie leopard, or a T-64 even

I should imagine the modern armour would sweep aside the vintage much the same as the ricers swept away the muscle cars, but would any sort of ratios of vintage to modern would even things up - or are the old tanks just so hoplessly outclassed?

For purposes of comparison, this is purely a tank on tank battle - there is no air, ground or artillery support. The crews of each tank are the best possible crews and, if it’s important, the Vintage tanks are assumed to be on the defensive and will make best use of terrain for defending.

I’m no expert on tank warfare. However in general modern tanks are faster and have more advanced targetting systems. They could effectively “run circles” around an old WWII tank and accurately fire at it at the same time. While the old WWII tank’s crew would be trying to cumbersomely deal with a rapidly moving target that has both greater range and accuracy.

This assumes a flat field of battle, a flat area of the desert being a good example. In an urban or forested area things might be different. Urban fighting can often partially negate technological advantages, and that would apply to tank warfare as well, as a lesser advanced tank could force a situation where the more advanced tank had to operate within range or with limited mobility.

I would still wager heavily against the WWII tank in such a situation, though.

It is difficult to imagine a WWII tank having any sort of chance at all. Modern tanks have superior optics and fire control allowing them to detect and target an enemy at quite impressive ranges. They have weapons that let them hit and kill at those ranges too.

The armor of modern tanks are advanced composites. They can defeat any WWII shot if the older tank were to somehow get lucky.

It might be possible to think of some sort urban ambush situation where a the older tank might be able to penetrate a modern vehicle, but tank warfare is fast violent and deadly. No modern tank stays in a place too long if they can help it. The crew are always scanning for threats.

So on a range you might be able to contrive some sort of lucky shot, but in combat it is just about unimaginable that a WWII tank could touch a modern one.

I can’t find the link, but the last time this came up, someone recommended that the crew of the WWII tank abandon their vehicle and hide in the underbrush. The crew of the modern tank would find this historical relic, and all get out to pose for a group picture in front of it, at which point the WWII crew would spring the ambush with their sidearms.


That’s pretty much what I thought. I was wondering, though, was there some kind of ratio (like the 5 Shermans to 1 Tiger ratio in Normandy) that may even the odds for the old behemoths.

Otherwise, it’s like the muscle car shootout - the old ones look better, but they really arent in the game…


Kinda-sorta related thread that may be of interest.

German Tiger II tank vs Abrams M1 in wooded European terrain. Does it stand a chance?

Funny and clever social-engineering concept to overcome hardware engineering superiority, to be sure, but don’t moden tanks have infrared people sensors? And wouldn’t they be likely to uncover nearby likely ambushers in advance?

Yes, they do. In addition, the M-1A can use its 120mm cannon as the the world’s biggest shotgun :eek:

The depleted uranium rounds in the 50 caliber machinegun may penetrate the main armor of a super tiger. DUP’s go through a lot.

Its really kinda of an unfair question. The answer kinda depends on whether you like the old tanks, or the new tanks better.

I mean the whole art of war has changed. When you consider things like artillery support, fire control, and other supporting factors. I mean, will there be a helicopter overhead painting the targets for the modern tanks? Will that computerized battlefield be working for the modern tanks? If the answer to these questions is yes, the modern tanks will have every advantage that they should have, then the answer to the question is that the WWII era tanks will not be able to get within site of the new tanks before they are blown up.

If we say, no the modern tanks will not have access to thier virtual battlefield (a very real possibility even in this modern day) then the answer is still horribly weighted in favor of the modern main battle tank. This scenario is kinda cutting like having the modern tanks fighting with one arm tied behind its back however.

It is possible to envision a scenario in which the old tanks would score hits and kills against the new tanks. In the Gulf War, some Iraqi tanks did manage to score hits against American tanks. It did not change the war, but some modern tanks were destroyed by some older tanks with savy tank crews. So I can see a tiger tank powered down completly dug in, and waiting for an American M-1 to cross its path. Scoring a direct hit to its tracks at close range, the American tank could be destroyed by a high-velocity gun. But even then the critical factor is could the old guns with the old ammo pierce the new chobam armor of the M-1 at any range?

so these are the issues. I like the new tanks. I think the M-1 and Challenger tanks would win over the old ones.

Yup, astro, that’s the thread I was thinking of (I didn’t check IMHO). It was Sailboat, in post #34.

I heard a probably apocryphal story about a Panzer or other large bad-guy tank that surfaced in the 90’s out of some guys barn in Bavaria or whereever. Some farmer stashed it in 1945, and dutifully maintained it and cranked it up every year or so to keep everything running smoothly. He just missed eBay, probably. Hm.

Heh… 21st-Century canister shot… now you know what to pack when when you want to recapture that old-fashioned Napoleonic feeling :smiley:

Sorry, the Abrams’ Ma Deuce does not load DU. The lightest DU that are in standard deployment are 20mm.

I wonder if it’s standard tank lingo to order up a “whiff of the grape”?

Didn’t Walter Sobchak have some thoughts on this sort of thing? :smiley:

Kinda reminds me of something from near the end of the first of Turtledove’s Worldwar books:

[spoiler]Somewhere in the Illinois (?) lines, the first winter after an invasion by the alien “Race” in the early 1940s, some GIs encounter one of the Lizards’ tanks (comparable to an early-21st century Earth tank) in the middle of a field, with one of it’s treads disabled, but otherwise working.

Surrounding it, at various distances, are the burning hulks of several Shermans that had tried to go for the “kill.”[/spoiler]

Chouinard Fan, although being an infantry/logistics grunt, clued me in on the Abram’s sabot dart.
I like this page because it has a drawing of the dart coming out of the container/package (sorry, I don’t know the name). CF says that in the first Gulf War, the US tankers decided using their normal ammo was a waste, and went back to the shaped charges that had preceeded the kinetic energy darts. The darts were (so I hear) exiting the other side of the Iraqi tanks.

From the following story, you can see that even the 1991 era Abrams whaled on the 1970s era tanks Iraq had. Putting them into WWII is like putting the high school varsity back into elementary school.

From (excerpt)
During the ground war, only seven M1A1’s were hit by rounds fired from the Iraqi’s T-72 tanks, with none being seriously damaged. The Army reported that the Iraqi armed forces “destroyed no Abrams tanks during the Persian Gulf War.” Nine Abrams tanks were destroyed during the war: seven due to friendly fire and two were intentionally destroyed to prevent capture after they became disabled. One incident in particular demonstrates the effectiveness of armor-piercing rounds and tank armor made of depleted uranium. As allied forces pushed into southern Iraq at the start of the ground war, an M1A1 tank became stuck in the mud.

The unit (part of the 24th Infantry Division) had gone on, leaving this tank to wait for a recovery vehicle. Three T-72's appeared and attacked. The first fired from under 1,000 meters, scoring a hit with a shaped-charge (high explosive) round on the M1A1's frontal armor. The hit did no damage. The M1A1 fired a 120mm armor-piercing (DU) round that penetrated the T-72 turret, causing an explosion that blew the turret into the air. The second T-72 fired another shaped-charge round, hit the frontal armor, and did no damage. The T-72 turned to run, and took a 120mm round in the engine compartment (which) blew the engine into the air. The last T-72 fired a solid shot (sabot) round from 400 meters. This left a groove in the M1A1's frontal armor and bounced off. The T-72 then backed up behind a sand berm and was completely concealed from view. The M1A1 depressed its gun and put a (DU) sabot round through the berm, into the T-72, causing an explosion.

Hi. Former M1A1 tanker here. The WWII tanks would have no chance. The Iraqi tanks in Cardinal’s thread were all at very close ranges. The M1A1 can hit targets at 3,000 meters and beyond. The M1A2 and M1A2 SEP can reach out even farther. WWII tanks couldn’t come close to these ranges. Modern tanks also have thermal sights. It allows crews to see in the dark or see a hot spot that may have visual camouflage. So a modern tank could destroy a WWII tank before the other tankers ever knew they were there.

Gosh I miss tanks. :frowning:

Oh yeah. Germany’s Leopard II series tanks use the same gun as the M1A1/A2 (the Germans had it first). The newest version; the 2A6, has a barrel a full meter longer than its predecessor. That extra length gives it more velocity which equals more range.

I REALLY miss tanks.