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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Patton Rides Again

They were flyingalmost literally flying in a tank over the roughest terrain they could find in Sicily. Mark, a test driver for the manufacturer, knew that the Patton was going to be one hell of a tank the first minute he saw it. But, he had no idea of how well it would perform under simulated combat conditions after being transported thousands of miles in the bottom of a LCT.

The tank was to travel from New York to the beautiful island of Sicily where the US still had a foothold in Italy. Knowing the power of the US Navy, the Reds had not even attempted to attack or even send recon flights over Sicily. The area was on the back burner as far as the Reds were concerned, so it was a perfect place to see how the new tank stood up to the conditions in the Med.

Ten tanks had been made seaworthy and shipped, like any amphibious force would be, where they were off loaded straight to the beach in a simulated assault. Eight of out the ten performed flawlessly with one needing minor repairs. The ninth was on its way in an hour, and the tenth just would not start. The tenth had a mechanical problem with the engine and was waiting for a replacement. This problem was a valuable learning tool. Mark kind of wished that other issues had shown up as well. He couldn’t believe that they were going to get a 90% effective rate right off the ship.

The point to keep in mind was that these ten were basically hand made with loving care. In reality, these tanks would be massed produced and quickly loaded into transports for the long journey to parts unknown. He had been in the service when they were testing the M26 Pershing. It seemed like a good weapon while under the ideal conditions that the army tested it, but had been found quickly wanting in many areas once they were under combat conditions.

This testing program in Sicily, and who knows where else, was an attempt to change the misstep that doomed the M26. It might have been a good tank with a better engine and transmission but the poor performance at maneuvering against even the T34 was enough to doom it. He didn’t know why the Patton, a brilliant British design had been married with the hitting power of a great American 90 mm cannon and turret. But, it had worked from all he had experienced so far.

The Patton was very quick and light on its feet for such a big tank. It was a solid and powerful engine with a relatively smooth transmission made it a breeze to drive even under horrible conditions. It was the most stable and fastest tank he had ever driven, and that was saying a lot. He had driven all the major tank designs in the world during his stint in the Army, even all the Soviet models except the IS3 and the rumored T54 coming on line.

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