Author Topic: A34 Comet  (Read 11530 times)

Offline Volkodav

  • Counts rivits with his abacus...
  • Much older now...but procrastinating about it
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2013, 09:22:50 PM »
From memory the book Australian Armour by Major general Hopkins, states that plans for Australias post war army included a regular tank brigade with five regiments of Centurions and two CMF tank brigades each with five regiments of Comets.  With ten regiments worth of Comets an upgrade program would have been well worth while. 

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2013, 09:17:02 AM »
I wonder about that.  Spares for Comets would have been becoming increasingly difficult to source by the late 1950s.  The vehicle had been out of production for ~ fifteen years by 1960.   While the Charioteer was still in service in the Middle East and Finland, even they were finding it harder to maintain them.  Maintaining Centurions in Australian service particularly during the Vietnam War was difficult enough and it was still in production!   Many times, crucial spare-parts had be flown straight from UK stocks to Vietnam on commercial flights to keep the Centurions on the road.  Drive sprockets in particular were in short supply and often broken by the Jungle terrain.  The Australian Army since that has made been unwilling to accept into service vehicles which weren't in production and readily available.

Offline AGRA

  • Took the opportunity to tease us with a RAAF F-82
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2013, 09:47:54 AM »
Maintaining the Comet in service into the 60s and 70s depends on how many tanks you want to support, and there is a big difference between a single squadron in Vietnam and ten regiments in Australia. While not in production the Comet uses the same core motor and transmission as the Centurion and has far many more surplus tanks to work from in the boneyard. The Centurion was no longer in production (ended 1962) by the time Australia deployed a tank squadron to Vietnam. The British army retained large stockpiles of Comets in the Middle East (Libya?) and in TA service up until the post Suez retraction and many of these could be supplied to Australia as spare hulks to support the regiments worth of runners from Hong Kong. The UK still had around 900 on the books in Europe and North Africa by 1960.

Obviously the Comet has shortcomings compared to the Centurion into the 1970s but this was not on the mind of those in the Army that wanted a light tank in 1960. If upgraded with the Centurionís fire control system and using the same engine and transmission and with plenty of boneyard spares it could of course be made to work. Sustaining the Centurion Mk 5 was problem enough because it was still basically a 1940s standard tank in powerpack and radios with only a 1960s standard fire control system. A rebuild in the 60s with a fuel injection engine or diesel and cross drive transmission and new transistorised radios would have made a huge difference to both the Centurion and Comet.

Sustaining the Centurion was considered such an issue that 1 ATF CO Brig. Graham, despite being a major tank man, didnít want them in theatre when they were deployed. He wanted more helos, incl. gunships, or a US sourced tank. There was even consideration to buy brand new M60s for use by 1 Armd Regt in Vietnam in place of the Centurion. One wonders why they didnít just ask the US for 60 odd M48A3s on ABCA loan to sustain the deployment (half in Vietnam for operational use and half in Australia for training).
« Last Edit: March 25, 2013, 09:51:03 AM by AGRA »

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2013, 01:33:48 PM »
The Army has a real dislike for "odd ball" vehicles.  They did "rent" several M48s in Vietnam with mine-clearling rollers to help in removing the barrier minefield but they were returned to the US Army by IIRC 1970.   The Australian Army did look seriously at the M60 as a replacement for the Centurion in the competition that the Leopard eventually won.  The M60 lost out on several important levels such as the problems of getting sufficient numbers from the US to equip 1 Armd.Regt. in one tranche.  As the US Army was busy re-equipping as fast as possible with M60s, the entire production run was basically dedicated to their needs.  We were told we could have a small number of M60s but would have to wait several years and would more than like would get a larger number of later model M60s.  The idea of trying to support several different versions of the one tank didn't appeal to the Army.  Nor did the cost, which was substantially more than the Leopard and in the end that was the one which did it in.  Treasury which hated tanks (and has always tried to get rid of them, seeing them as useless "Koalas" ("Can't be exported and can't be shot at") was only prepared to pay a set amount which was insufficient to purchase enough M60s for operational needs (IIRC they needed sufficient for the Regiment plus a training squadron, Treasury was only prepared to purchase sufficient for the Regiment, which the Army found unacceptable).

Cannibalisaton is not the preferred management model for any military vehicle as it means it will be a diminishing resource.  The Australian Army during the 1960s was extremely resistant to it.  I have been told of how at one point about a third of the Task Force's trucks were immobilised because of a lack of spares and while many of the problems were minor and could have been addressed by cannibalising vehicles, the fear was it would leave Army with a large number of essentially useless vehicles.   A major effort was undertaken instead of stores being combed for them supply them.

So, you have an Army which is resistant to cannibalisation, taking on an out of production tank which had essentially limited life, dependent on cannibalising out of service vehicles to keep the others going? 

Offline AGRA

  • Took the opportunity to tease us with a RAAF F-82
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2013, 04:33:30 PM »
The Army has a real dislike for "odd ball" vehicles.

The Comet wasnít an odd ball it was an on issue medium tank in ABCA armies at the time. If the RAAC hadnít proven that the Centurion was mobile in SEA conditions the Army would have brought them. Well we could hope they did because they would have been a lot more survivable and effective than the alternative: the M41 Walker Bulldog.

 
They did "rent" several M48s in Vietnam with mine-clearling rollers to help in removing the barrier minefield but they were returned to the US Army by IIRC 1970.

Yes this was equipment supplied under ABCA cross supply provisions. The same as a number of other assets used by Australia during the Vietnam war like M108 howitzers and Kiowa helicopters. The proposal was to just do the same with the M48 rather than bring Centurions into theatre.

RAAC was against it because their crews were not trained on them and it would delay the deployment considerably. M48A3 was superior in engine and transmission and much easier to drive compared to the Centurion but had an inferior fire control system for tank vs tank engagement.

The Australian Army did look seriously at the M60 as a replacement for the Centurion in the competition that the Leopard eventually won. 

Medium Tank replacement program inspired by Vietnam but not related in anyway to the challenges leading up to the deployment of the Centurions.

The So, you have an Army which is resistant to cannibalisation, taking on an out of production tank which had essentially limited life, dependent on cannibalising out of service vehicles to keep the others going?

The army only developed this resistance thanks to the experiences of the 1960s. It was not an issue at all in the consideration of the Comet and frankly the big argument in favour of using M48s. In an ideal world the Army would have had a new or rebuilt tank for use in Vietnam. The Comet was a real world contender for Australian Army Vietnam War medium tank. So if anyone wants to Whif it they can do so with a non-fictional back story.

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #20 on: March 25, 2013, 06:43:13 PM »
The Army has a real dislike for "odd ball" vehicles.

The Comet wasnít an odd ball it was an on issue medium tank in ABCA armies at the time. If the RAAC hadnít proven that the Centurion was mobile in SEA conditions the Army would have brought them. Well we could hope they did because they would have been a lot more survivable and effective than the alternative: the M41 Walker Bulldog.

By "odd ball" I meant unusual in Australian Army service.  I'm also unaware of any other than the British who actually adopted the tank (Burmese seems to ring a bell perhaps).  I'd hardly call it "on issue with ABCA armies".  One ABCA army perhaps.  And as has been noted, it was busily divesting itself of them.

The M41 wasn't that bad.  It acquitted itself rather well in combat against North Vietnamese MBTs.  Not bad for a light tank IMHO.   I still have severe doubts as to whether the Australian Army would have been interested in the M41 anyway.  It too was out of production, with all the consequent problems already mentioned.

Quote
They did "rent" several M48s in Vietnam with mine-clearling rollers to help in removing the barrier minefield but they were returned to the US Army by IIRC 1970.

Yes this was equipment supplied under ABCA cross supply provisions. The same as a number of other assets used by Australia during the Vietnam war like M108 howitzers and Kiowa helicopters. The proposal was to just do the same with the M48 rather than bring Centurions into theatre.

RAAC was against it because their crews were not trained on them and it would delay the deployment considerably. M48A3 was superior in engine and transmission and much easier to drive compared to the Centurion but had an inferior fire control system for tank vs tank engagement.

Interesting point which I've not heard before.  I have read ex-US Tankers wax lyrical about the M48 and they considered it's coincidence range-finder better than the Centurion's "primitive" (their words, not mine) ranging MG.  I am in no position I admit to judge either way and suspect that like many such matters either is as good as the other in competent hands, most of the time.

The M108s were US owned and along with the M109s, US operated, I believe.  I can't find a reference at the moment but I believe they remained under US ownership throughout their use in the first few years of the deployment.  They were never taken on charge, unlike the M48s.

Quote
The Australian Army did look seriously at the M60 as a replacement for the Centurion in the competition that the Leopard eventually won. 

Medium Tank replacement program inspired by Vietnam but not related in anyway to the challenges leading up to the deployment of the Centurions.

Yes.  Coupled with the increasing difficulties in maintaining the Centurions which we have already touched upon.

Quote
The So, you have an Army which is resistant to cannibalisation, taking on an out of production tank which had essentially limited life, dependent on cannibalising out of service vehicles to keep the others going?

The army only developed this resistance thanks to the experiences of the 1960s. It was not an issue at all in the consideration of the Comet and frankly the big argument in favour of using M48s. In an ideal world the Army would have had a new or rebuilt tank for use in Vietnam. The Comet was a real world contender for Australian Army Vietnam War medium tank. So if anyone wants to Whif it they can do so with a non-fictional back story.

Nothing stopping someone from Whiffing, I agree.  I am interested though, in exploring this, to me at least, hitherto unknown story of its possible adoption.

Offline AGRA

  • Took the opportunity to tease us with a RAAF F-82
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2013, 07:54:48 PM »
I'm also unaware of any other than the British who actually adopted the tank (Burmese seems to ring a bell perhaps).  I'd hardly call it "on issue with ABCA armies".  One ABCA army perhaps.  And as has been noted, it was busily divesting itself of them.

I wonít respond to every point made in this last post because it seems very repetitive and like a lot of iron cast opinion with little founding. But to the issue with ABCA armies perhaps you donít understand the terminology? It only needs to be on issue to one army within this partnership for it to be considered ABCA. Since the Comet was a British tank on issue to their Army and at that time (1956-60) Australia could benefit from ABCA for access to the Comet. The same mechanism by which Australia benefited in sustaining the Centurion in service.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2013, 07:57:54 PM by AGRA »

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #22 on: March 25, 2013, 09:37:47 PM »
Quote
ABCA Armies (formally, the American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Armies' Program) is a program aimed at optimizing interoperability and standardization of training and equipment between the armies of the United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, plus the United States Marine Corps and the Royal Marines. Established in 1947 as a means to capitalize on close cooperation between the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada during World War II, the program grew to include Australia (in 1963) and New Zealand (as an observer from 1965, with full membership in 2006).


So, why would Australia in the 1950s care about an agreement it was not even a party to?

Moreover, the agreement was originally on standardisation of Infantry Equipment, not tanks:

Quote
Originally, the role of ABCA was limited to issues of standardization for soldier equipment, training, and tactics. Following the September 11 attacks, a review by the Program's Heads of Delegations saw the Program modified to address the changing security environment and improve responsiveness, relevance, and focus on interoperability. The overhaul was completed by June 2004.

[Big Boys and Girls' Book of World Knowledge]
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 08:36:10 AM by Rickshaw »

Offline AGRA

  • Took the opportunity to tease us with a RAAF F-82
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #23 on: March 26, 2013, 07:00:43 AM »
So, why would Australia in the 1950s care about an agreement it was not even a party to?

Moreover, the agreement was original on standardisation of Infantry Equipment, not tanks:


You really have to stop doing your own research!

ABCA Armies is what we call it today. But back in the late 1950s, early 60s, it was called the Basic Standardization Concept and it worked in the same way for Australia. Australia *joined the organisation* in 64 when it was renamed ABCA but before being a member Australia was a partner.

Kind of like we are now with NATO. Australia gets access to all the standardisation stuff and information flows but isnít a full member with a voting seat at the big table and of course the security agreement.

Now Iíve sent you the source to my comments here by PM and you still insist on digging around the edges using factoids and your ignorance to try and shoot this down. Get over yourself. This stuff happened and it happened in the way I characterised.

Canister! On! FIRE! Australian Tank Operations in Vietnam
By Lt.Col. Bruce Cameron, MC (Ret.)
http://www.bigskypublishing.com.au/Books/Military/Canister--On--FIRE--Australian-Tank-Operations-in-Vietnam/975/productview.aspx

Offline Weaver

  • Skyhawk stealer and violator of Panthers, with designs on a Cougar and a Tiger too
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Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2013, 08:06:16 AM »
Might I suggest turning down the heat and the personal comments please? The generally accepted rule is : play the ball, not the man.....
"I have described nothing but what I saw myself, or learned from others" - Thucydides

"I've jazzed mine up a bit" - Spike Milligan

"I'm a general specialist," - Harry Purvis in Tales from the White Hart by Arthur C. Clarke

Twitter: @hws5mp
Minds.com: @HaroldWeaverSmith

Offline dy031101

  • Yuri Fanboy and making cute stuff practical- at least that's the plan anyway
  • Prefers Guns And Tanks Over Swords And Magic
Re: Cruiser Tanks
« Reply #25 on: June 20, 2014, 10:47:02 AM »
Interesting combo. 8)


Now with sideview and a sloped glacis:



From what I have gathered on Google, track return rollers seem to be beneficial to faster tanks.  Alright, I'll keep the return rollers then......
« Last Edit: January 20, 2015, 11:49:42 AM by dy031101 »
Forget about his bow and arrows- why wait until that sparrow has done his deed when I can just bury him right now 'cause I'm sick and tired of hearing why he wants to have his way with the cock robin!?

Offline dy031101

  • Yuri Fanboy and making cute stuff practical- at least that's the plan anyway
  • Prefers Guns And Tanks Over Swords And Magic
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #26 on: June 22, 2014, 05:21:13 AM »
Logan Hartke's comment actually got me thinking of mounting an US 90mm gun into an existing Comet turret:



Looks do-able if I once again move the trunnion forward (although the comparison is made by aligning the front end of their turret bustles since I don't know the recoil distances of both guns).  Gun elevation/depression is probably gonna suffer greatly though (my untrained intellectual exercise puts it within +10į/-4į)......

Or would a 90mm-gun-armed version of the Charioteer turret be a better way to go?
« Last Edit: June 22, 2014, 06:30:58 AM by dy031101 »
Forget about his bow and arrows- why wait until that sparrow has done his deed when I can just bury him right now 'cause I'm sick and tired of hearing why he wants to have his way with the cock robin!?

Offline Rickshaw

  • "Of course, I could be talking out of my hat"
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #27 on: June 22, 2014, 09:38:14 AM »
As they felt they had to build a completely new turret to put a 20 Pdr on a Cromwell hull, to create the Charioteer, I think you'd have to do the same if you want to put a 90mm on a Comet hull.  While the Comet is slightly wider than the Cromwell,  it'd still be a very tight fit.  As it was with the Charioteer, they also lost a crew man (loader) in the process.   The Comet turret was pretty cramped even with just a 77mm in there.

Offline Volkodav

  • Counts rivits with his abacus...
  • Much older now...but procrastinating about it
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #28 on: December 25, 2014, 01:26:20 AM »
Sorry about the old thread resurrection but in light of some recent reading and you tubing it came to me that I can't actually think of any reason why the Comet couldn't have been built instead of the Cromwell, or more to the point why the Cromwell couldn't have basically been everything the Comet was.  For that matter all the pieces needed were in place in time to have produced something like the Cavalier instead of the Crusader, such as the 6pdr gun and the recognized need to retain a three man turret.  Also, a HE round existed for the 6pdr but for some reason wasn't issued (but was used by the RN in the Molins gun) so if issued would have removed the need for the 75mm gun.  The 95mm CS was still available to support 6pdr gunned troops, although I  have never understood why, what was basically a cut down 3.7" AAgun barrel and a 25pdr breech, was fitted with a counter weight on the barrel, because it was breach heavy, when the weapon suffered from inaccuracy, poor dispersion and a lack of range, when lengthening the barrel would likely have addressed all these issues.

Basically all that was needed to fix the UKs cruiser tank problems was a bit of vision to skip one generation of cruisers in light of the actual opposition they were facing and likely to face, rather than always playing catchup and hoping the enemy weren't also improving their vehicles.

Also what AGRA and I have been discussing was two different procurements that were proposed at different times for the RAAC. The first was a mid 40s proposal to equip ten CMF regiments in support of five regular army Regiments of Centurions.  These vehicles, had they been acquired, would have been due upgrade or replacement by the late 50s.  The other proposal was from the late 50s early 60s was for a squadron of light tanks to support alliance operations in the far east. 

Offline dy031101

  • Yuri Fanboy and making cute stuff practical- at least that's the plan anyway
  • Prefers Guns And Tanks Over Swords And Magic
Re: A34 Comet
« Reply #29 on: January 20, 2015, 11:48:18 AM »
Irish trial with 90mm recoilless rifle replacing the 77mm HV turret.

Lack of funds led to this seemingly-simplistic trial going nowhere...... but I do wonder if the project was started with the intention of keeping Irish Comets functioning as a tank (as opposed to tank destroyers that recoilless rifles tend to be associated with)......

If it was...... perhaps we'd have seen some armoured setup on the "finished" products?
« Last Edit: January 21, 2015, 04:51:20 AM by dy031101 »
Forget about his bow and arrows- why wait until that sparrow has done his deed when I can just bury him right now 'cause I'm sick and tired of hearing why he wants to have his way with the cock robin!?