History Main / TanksButNoTanks

23rd Aug '16 8:10:41 AM dresdor
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* In Harry Turtledove's The Great War series, this trope would be Barrels, but No Barrels, which loses some of its flavor.
20th Aug '16 2:44:24 AM Morgenthaler
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* In NewZealand during WorldWarII, the Minister for Public Works, Bob Semple, commissioned the construction of the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semple_tank Semple Tank]] (in fact, it was just an [[ClosestThingWeGot armored tractor]]). It had no blueprints, had numerous design flaws, never got beyond the prototype stage, and was laughed at by the public. However, it is remembered most as an example of the New Zealand do-it-yourself ethos.

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* In NewZealand UsefulNotes/NewZealand during WorldWarII, the Minister for Public Works, Bob Semple, commissioned the construction of the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semple_tank Semple Tank]] (in fact, it was just an [[ClosestThingWeGot armored tractor]]). It had no blueprints, had numerous design flaws, never got beyond the prototype stage, and was laughed at by the public. However, it is remembered most as an example of the New Zealand do-it-yourself ethos.
7th Aug '16 6:30:49 PM MAI742
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There are many very good reasons for this. Firstly, antique armored vehicles are actually quite scarce. Some vehicles -- particularly those from the defeated Axis nations -- were never exactly common in the first place. Fewer than 500 King Tiger tanks were produced as opposed to 47,000 M4 Shermans, and many contemporary Italian or Japanese vehicles were produced in even smaller numbers, surviving examples simply may not even exist (Unless being scattered in small pieces across remote Pacific islands or buried in the Russian steppe counts as "surviving"). To make it even harder, some of these vehicles are now historical artifacts belonging to museums and obviously cannot be used recklessly or destroyed.

Next, as the Sherman production numbers above suggest, filmmakers naturally took advantage of the huge glut of cheap surplus U.S. Army equipment in the immediate postwar period. If a studio has running vehicles in their prop inventory that are available for filming without much hassle, then simple convenience means they'll get used, accurate or not. These days, most armored fighting vehicles that don't meet their end on the battlefield will probably be scrapped before anyone else can get their hands on them. Tanks have never been particularly attractive on the surplus market since they are huge, heavy, fuel-guzzling lumps of steel that can easily cost more to restore and preserve than recycle.

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There are many very good reasons for this. Firstly, antique armored vehicles most survivors are actually quite scarce. Some vehicles -- particularly those from the defeated Axis nations -- were never exactly common in the first place. Fewer than 500 King Tiger tanks were produced as opposed to 47,000 M4 Shermans, and many contemporary Italian or Japanese vehicles were produced in even smaller numbers, surviving examples simply may not even exist (Unless being scattered in small pieces across remote Pacific islands or buried in the Russian steppe counts as "surviving"). To make it even harder, some of these vehicles are now historical artifacts belonging to museums and obviously cannot be used recklessly or destroyed.destroyed. Moreover, many types of antique armored vehicles are actually quite scarce, and some were quite rare in the first place - the WWII Axis were the worst offenders as they favoured shorter production runs and a far greater number of variants. Just 492 King Tiger panzers were produced, as against 47k M4 Sherman tanks (all variants), and many contemporary Italian or Japanese vehicles were produced in even smaller numbers. In many cases surviving examples aren't available (e.g. submerged in a Belarussian swamp) or simply don't exist due to the ravages of combat, the temptations of scrapping/salvage, and the passage of time.

Next, as the Sherman production numbers above suggest, Anglo-American filmmakers naturally took advantage of the huge glut of cheap surplus U.S. Army equipment in the immediate postwar period. If a studio has running vehicles in their prop inventory that are available for filming without much hassle, then simple convenience means they'll get used, accurate or not. These days, most armored fighting vehicles that don't meet their end on the battlefield will probably be scrapped before anyone else can get their hands on them. Tanks have never been particularly attractive on the surplus market since they are huge, heavy, fuel-guzzling lumps of steel that can easily cost more to restore and preserve than recycle.



Then there's the matter of RealLife politics, where vehicles you'd ideally want for realism simply can't be obtained at all since they're currently being used or held by an unfriendly power. It's easily forgotten today that prior to TheGreatPoliticsMessUp, getting realistic Soviet or Eastern Bloc military vehicles for filming many a Cold War thriller was darn near impossible. Whereas today, you can just phone the Russians and ask them nicely (and offer to pay cash up front).

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Then there's the matter of RealLife politics, where vehicles you'd ideally want for realism simply can't be obtained at all since they're currently being used or held by an unfriendly power. It's easily forgotten today that prior to TheGreatPoliticsMessUp, getting realistic Soviet or Eastern Bloc military vehicles for filming many a Cold War thriller was darn near impossible.impossible unless you were an Eastern Bloc filmmaker. Whereas today, you can just phone the Russians and ask them nicely (and offer to pay cash up front).
24th Jul '16 3:05:39 AM DarkHunter
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** TheMovie has a team fielding a [[spoiler:Morser-Karl self-propelled siege mortar]], which is ''definitely'' not a tank and its status as an [=AFV=] at all is highly questionable. [[LampshadeHanging The officiator of the match is called out on this when it appears.]]
20th Jun '16 12:41:15 AM jormis29
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* In the "real close, but not quite" we have the classic "starring Bogart" ''Sahara''. "Lulubelle" is an actual M3 tank, which is appropriate to the period (the Gazala battles), and several of the American training crews did end up getting into battle (on the "wrong" side of Africa). The problem is, it's a Lee (the US Army version), not a Grant (British version, the turret design's the give away). The Brits did get Lee's by Lend-Lease later, but not during those battles. And Lees in British service were all vectored to India and Burma where the Japanese had nothing to match them, and their armament and firepower made them ideal vehicles for jungle fighting.

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* In the "real close, but not quite" we have the classic "starring Bogart" ''Sahara''.''Film/Sahara1943''. "Lulubelle" is an actual M3 tank, which is appropriate to the period (the Gazala battles), and several of the American training crews did end up getting into battle (on the "wrong" side of Africa). The problem is, it's a Lee (the US Army version), not a Grant (British version, the turret design's the give away). The Brits did get Lee's by Lend-Lease later, but not during those battles. And Lees in British service were all vectored to India and Burma where the Japanese had nothing to match them, and their armament and firepower made them ideal vehicles for jungle fighting.
29th May '16 11:10:29 PM TargetOnMyBack
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* The [[RedsWithRockets BMP line of amphibious infantry fighting vehicles]] and their airborne counterparts, the BMD line, often get mistaken for tanks because of the tank-like shape and size of their turrets and main guns. Western [=IFVs=] are noticeably taller and boxier than tanks to accommodate the extra people on-board. Soviet [=IFVs=] [[ClownCar tend to have less passenger capacity]], [[MoreDakka are sometimes ridiculously over-armed]], and their tank-like profile was designed to make them much better [[AmphibiousAutomobile amphibious vehicles]] then their western counterparts.

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* The [[RedsWithRockets BMP line of amphibious infantry fighting vehicles]] and their airborne counterparts, the BMD line, often get mistaken for tanks because of the tank-like shape and size of their turrets and main guns. Western [=IFVs=] are noticeably taller and boxier than tanks to accommodate the extra people on-board. Soviet [=IFVs=] [[ClownCar tend to have less passenger capacity]], [[MoreDakka are sometimes ridiculously over-armed]], and their tank-like profile was designed to make them much better [[AmphibiousAutomobile amphibious vehicles]] then than their western counterparts.
16th Mar '16 10:57:57 AM AmbarSonofDeshar
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** Note that even in 1942 (and it actually went downhill from there) the Japanese armor was laughably inadequate by the standards of all other major combatants (except maybe Italians and the Chinese), as they never deployed any modern medium tank, much less a heavy one, until the very end of the war,[[note]]And even then only at the Home Islands and in minuscule numbers, so these tanks -- [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_3_Chi-Nu Type 3 Chi-Nu]], of which only about one hundred were built, had actually never seen combat.[[/note]] so for them the Universal Carrier, derived from the early-30es Carden-Lloyd tankettes, might indeed seem like a full-on tank.

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** Note that even in 1942 (and it actually went downhill from there) the Japanese armor was laughably inadequate by the standards of all other major combatants (except maybe Italians and the Chinese), combatants, as they never deployed any modern medium tank, much less a heavy one, until the very end of the war,[[note]]And even then only at the Home Islands and in minuscule numbers, so these tanks -- [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_3_Chi-Nu Type 3 Chi-Nu]], of which only about one hundred were built, had actually never seen combat.[[/note]] so for them the Universal Carrier, derived from the early-30es Carden-Lloyd tankettes, might indeed seem like a full-on tank.


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* Many WWII armies saw assault guns and tank destroyers (both forms of self-propelled gun) being pressed into service to fill the "tank" role when supplies of actual tanks ran low. This was especially true in the Italian Army where vehicles like the Semovente 74/18 assault gun proved, despite their lack of a turret, to be superior to the nation's problematic light tanks.
5th Mar '16 7:53:40 AM Morgenthaler
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* Likewise averted in the follow-on miniseries ''ThePacific'', though in this case the reasonably accurate Japanese tanks had to be created using CGI due to a lack of surviving originals.

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* Likewise averted in the follow-on miniseries ''ThePacific'', ''Series/ThePacific'', though in this case the reasonably accurate Japanese tanks had to be created using CGI due to a lack of surviving originals.
5th Mar '16 1:41:23 AM Morgenthaler
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* Subverted in ''Series/SpaceAboveAndBeyond''. In the episode ''Pearly'', the Marines of the 58th Reconnaissance Squadron, AKA "The Wildcards", are in danger of being overrun by enemy forces when they take shelter inside an AwesomePersonnelCarrier. Only thing is, the driver of the vehicle keeps insisting that it is in fact a tank. Aside from that, by all appearances, Pearly ''should'' probably be considered an [=APC=], since it's relatively roomy inside with space for a squad of Marines to ride around in it. This is even funnier because in this show's setting, "Tank" is a [[FantasticSlurs highly derogatory term]] used to describe In Vitro humans, genetically engineered and grown in factories to be cheap labor and soldiers for an earlier war the humans fought. Two of the Wildcards, including their commander, [=Lieutenant Colonel TC McQueen=], are In Vitros.

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* Subverted in ''Series/SpaceAboveAndBeyond''. In the episode ''Pearly'', "Pearly", the Marines of the 58th Reconnaissance Squadron, AKA "The Wildcards", are in danger of being overrun by enemy forces when they take shelter inside an AwesomePersonnelCarrier. Only thing is, the driver of the vehicle keeps insisting that it is in fact a tank. Aside from that, by all appearances, Pearly ''should'' probably be considered an [=APC=], since it's relatively roomy inside with space for a squad of Marines to ride around in it. This is even funnier because in this show's setting, "Tank" is a [[FantasticSlurs highly derogatory term]] used to describe In Vitro humans, genetically engineered and grown in factories to be cheap labor and soldiers for an earlier war the humans fought. Two of the Wildcards, including their commander, [=Lieutenant Colonel TC McQueen=], are In Vitros.
5th Mar '16 1:41:05 AM Morgenthaler
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* ''SavingPrivateRyan'' had 2/3 scale mock-ups of Tiger tanks based on the chassis of Soviet T-34s and almost genuine (see below) Marder III tank destroyers (confusingly referred to as "panzers" by the Americans, but then, see RealLife below to see why they're not wrong). A 20mm flak gun deserves mention as well; often encountered during the war, never before seen in a movie. The half-tracks were mostly Czechoslovakian copies of the German [=Sdkf 250=] built after the war and the assault guns were based on post-war British [[AwesomePersonnelCarrier FV432]] chassis. The vehicles representing Marder [=IIIs=] were modified Czechoslovakian Panzer 38(t)s (one of them a Swedish licence-built model). This was in fact the vehicle that the Marder III was based on in the first place, for bonus recursive accuracy points. While the Marders may seem tactically out-of-place (poorly-armoured tank destroyers have no business taking on infantry units in urban settings, after all), tank destroyers and artillery vehicles were occasionally deployed in the infantry support role when more conventional tanks or dedicated ''Sturmgeschutz'' armoured vehicles were not available. All said, it is reasonably justifiable, especially considering that the ''Heer'' units just behind the beaches had an absolute parking lot of old armoured vehicles and a Marder (of any type) would be one of the BETTER ones available.

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* ''SavingPrivateRyan'' ''Film/SavingPrivateRyan'' had 2/3 scale mock-ups of Tiger tanks based on the chassis of Soviet T-34s and almost genuine (see below) Marder III tank destroyers (confusingly referred to as "panzers" by the Americans, but then, see RealLife below to see why they're not wrong). A 20mm flak gun deserves mention as well; often encountered during the war, never before seen in a movie. The half-tracks were mostly Czechoslovakian copies of the German [=Sdkf 250=] built after the war and the assault guns were based on post-war British [[AwesomePersonnelCarrier FV432]] chassis. The vehicles representing Marder [=IIIs=] were modified Czechoslovakian Panzer 38(t)s (one of them a Swedish licence-built model). This was in fact the vehicle that the Marder III was based on in the first place, for bonus recursive accuracy points. While the Marders may seem tactically out-of-place (poorly-armoured tank destroyers have no business taking on infantry units in urban settings, after all), tank destroyers and artillery vehicles were occasionally deployed in the infantry support role when more conventional tanks or dedicated ''Sturmgeschutz'' armoured vehicles were not available. All said, it is reasonably justifiable, especially considering that the ''Heer'' units just behind the beaches had an absolute parking lot of old armoured vehicles and a Marder (of any type) would be one of the BETTER ones available.



* Subverted in ''SpaceAboveAndBeyond''. In the episode ''Pearly'', the Marines of the 58th Reconnaissance Squadron, AKA "The Wildcards", are in danger of being overrun by enemy forces when they take shelter inside an AwesomePersonnelCarrier. Only thing is, the driver of the vehicle keeps insisting that it is in fact a tank. Aside from that, by all appearances, Pearly ''should'' probably be considered an [=APC=], since it's relatively roomy inside with space for a squad of Marines to ride around in it. This is even funnier because in this show's setting, "Tank" is a [[FantasticSlurs highly derogatory term]] used to describe In Vitro humans, genetically engineered and grown in factories to be cheap labor and soldiers for an earlier war the humans fought. Two of the Wildcards, including their commander, [=Lieutenant Colonel TC McQueen=], are In Vitros.

to:

* Subverted in ''SpaceAboveAndBeyond''.''Series/SpaceAboveAndBeyond''. In the episode ''Pearly'', the Marines of the 58th Reconnaissance Squadron, AKA "The Wildcards", are in danger of being overrun by enemy forces when they take shelter inside an AwesomePersonnelCarrier. Only thing is, the driver of the vehicle keeps insisting that it is in fact a tank. Aside from that, by all appearances, Pearly ''should'' probably be considered an [=APC=], since it's relatively roomy inside with space for a squad of Marines to ride around in it. This is even funnier because in this show's setting, "Tank" is a [[FantasticSlurs highly derogatory term]] used to describe In Vitro humans, genetically engineered and grown in factories to be cheap labor and soldiers for an earlier war the humans fought. Two of the Wildcards, including their commander, [=Lieutenant Colonel TC McQueen=], are In Vitros.



* Averted in the miniseries ''[[Series.BandOfBrothers Band of Brothers]]''. The Allied tanks were genuine [=M4A1=] Shermans and A27 Cromwells, the armored cars were genuine M8 Greyhounds, the halftracks were genuine M5s. On the German side, they used the Czech-built, German-designed halftracks and the replica Marders and Tigers from ''SavingPrivateRyan,'' along with very convincing replica Jadgpanthers and Sturmgeschutz [=IIIs=] built on British [=FV432=] APC chassis.

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* Averted in the miniseries ''[[Series.BandOfBrothers Band of Brothers]]''.''Series/BandOfBrothers''. The Allied tanks were genuine [=M4A1=] Shermans and A27 Cromwells, the armored cars were genuine M8 Greyhounds, the halftracks were genuine M5s. On the German side, they used the Czech-built, German-designed halftracks and the replica Marders and Tigers from ''SavingPrivateRyan,'' ''Film/SavingPrivateRyan,'' along with very convincing replica Jadgpanthers and Sturmgeschutz [=IIIs=] built on British [=FV432=] APC chassis.
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